Friday, 31 May 2013

Weekly Love: Week 135

Tomorrow is June, and while I have felt like it has been Summer since March, so many people have been telling me you can officially start counting 'Summer' after Memorial Day, so I've decided that my Summer, at least, has officially started. I've been cooking Summer recipes in the kitchen for ages now. Living in England and Northern France, Summer for me usually means getting to wear bare legs, bright nail polish and oversized sunglasses. As these are things I can do pretty much all year in Los Angeles, I'm going to try and make the most of the time I have to enjoy the things I don't get to enjoy back home; beaches that feature golden sand rather than unforgiving grey stones, sea water which is not the colour of grey paint, and lots of fresh Mexican food.
1. A photo of two photographer friends in a shot together is very rare, so enjoy this selfie of the two of us on Balboa Pier in Newport Beach from Nicole's Instagram feed. | 2. Delicious straight up Iced Tea at the Haute Cakes Caffe in Newport Beach. I'm really going to miss this with my brunch when I move back to England. The only place I can think of that serves it is Granger & Co. in Notting Hill. | 3. Afternoons chilling on the beach. I can't remember ever being this tanned in my life. | 4. Look who joined the family in the Memorial Day Weekend sale at Nordstrom! | 5. Words of truth from Orange County. | 6. The palm trees are how you know for sure that you are in SoCal.

weeklylove300513[2] 7. Pretty pink peonies for sale outside Trader Joe's. | 8. The perfect complimentary reason not to mind waiting for a friend to get a blow out at DryBar. | 9. As always, pizza from 800 Degrees in Westwood topped with roasted garlic and double anchovies. | 10. Road trip essentials. | 11. My favourite lunch recently: thick slices of homemade bread topped with smoked salmon pate from Trader Joe's (though I do miss Marks & Spencers Smoked Mackerel Pate!), thickly sliced cucumber and lots of cracked black pepper. | 12. Newport beach on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

I've decided that I want to trial a new feature in my 'Weekly Love' posts. I know one of the reasons you guys love them so much is because you enjoy finding new blogs to read through the sites I link to, but I think that can also work both ways too. So, below I've decided to play around with the a 'Simply Linked' widget where you can submit your own links to be shown at the bottom of each 'Weekly Love' post. If you have a blog post that you've posted during the two weeks since the last Weekly Love post; be it a recipe you are particularly proud of, photos you've posted from your recent travels or an outfit you are particularly proud of styling, I, as well as the rest of your fellow readers I'm sure would love to see it. Just a note, to make this fair on everyone, please only submit one link per website, link to a post and not just your home page. Any spam links I will take care of. Also, just to help with my little level of blog post consistance OCD, I would really appreciate it if you could title your link the exact title of your original blog post.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I have a few errands to run in Beverly Hills, a paper on Roman Love Poetry to work on and plans to make for my last few weeks in Los Angeles and moving back home. 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Places To Eat In Orange County: Haute Cakes Caffe, Newport

One of the highlights of Sunday's road trip to Newport Beach was Sunday morning brunch at Haute Cakes Caffe. It came highly recommended by friends and readers, and it was lovely to have a massive (Los Angeles is not really into 'American' portion sizes, so this is actually the first time since Lake Taho in 2011 I've been presented with such a massive plate of food) Sunday morning brunch; something I don't do enough in Southern Californa and I used to do practically every single weekend while I was living in London.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Blog Update: Rachel Phipps Is Now On Tumblr

Just a short post with a little note for all Rachel Phipps readers who use Tumblr, this blog (and by extension me) now has its own Tumblr page which you can find at I've actually had a Tumblr account for years; I used to use it for pretty picture inspiration before Pinterest was born and I lost interest in Tumblr. However, recently I've got back into Tumblr recently as a place to share highlights from some of my other social media channels as well as snippets that don't really belong elsewhere.
This Tumblr blog is basically going to be my digital stream of consciousness  I'm reading an interesting magazine or news article on my iPad that I think you guys will enjoy? I'll upload it. The same goes for amusing gifs and memes I stumble across, inspirational quotes, shopping items I've particularly been craving and other non-Pinnable graphics. Also, because I am aware that my Instagram feed is only really something iPhone or Android readers can enjoy not it is not so seamlessly synced with Twitter, so I will be posting my Instagrams to my Tumblr feed too. 

Finally, and probably the most importantly I have opened up the 'Ask Me Anything' Tumblr tab on this blog and I will be sure to keep up on answering reader questions submitted via that section on the Tumblr blog. I'll also be taking blog post subject and recipe post requests through that section too.

So, to round up, you can subscribe to my new Tumblr page by clicking here. Also, I'm looking for some great accounts to follow, so be sure to leave a link to your own Tumblr pages in the comments section! 

Monday, 27 May 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Road Trip: Newport Beach, Orange County

Happy Memorial Day and Bank Holiday Monday everyone! This long weekend means a full 4 days off for me here in Los Angeles, and yesterday also marked the exact one month mark to how long I have left living in Southern California. At this exact moment next month I'll probably be somewhere above the Atlantic on my way back to London; it is a pretty crazy thought! To mark this weekend I left the City of Los Angeles for the first time in 9 months to take a road trip down the coast with my friend Nicole to check out Newport Beach, Orange County. 

Friday, 24 May 2013

Recipe: Indian Spiced Leftover Summer Vegetable Fritters

My eating week goes something like this: farmers market on a Thursday, grocery store on a Friday morning. On Friday afternoons and on Sundays I cook and bake lots of different recipes to shoot for the blog or to test, not necessary at meal time. On Saturdays I bake a big batch of something for my roommates and I throughout the week. This leaves me with Monday to Thursday, where I make whatever meals I can out of what ingredients I have leftover from the weekends 'work' recipes, and I eat whatever is leftover from that. 
Quite often, I post some of my mid-week recipe inventions on Instagram, and one such meal that gained a lot of attention and recipe requests were some vegetable fritters I threw together out of fridge leftovers, added Indian style spices and served up with a side salad and some paprika sprinkled Soured Cream. They had only been something to use up the half a peeled potato I had rolling around, but then I started thinking about what flavours would really work together to make them into a full blown recipe post, suitable for a lunch or a light Summer supper with a glass of white wine. You can follow the recipe with these, or you can just add your own leftover vegetables to the spiced batter. Just remember to use either courgette, potato or both as grated they help give the fritters their structure. This makes 6 fritters.

  • 1 Egg
  • 3 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Very Small Baking Potato
  • 1/2 Courgette (Zucchini) 
  • 1/4 Red Onion
  • 1 Small Sweet Red Pepper (or 1/4 a Bell Pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Coriander (Cilantro) to garnish

Grate the courgette on the biggest hole of a box grater. Peel and grate the potato. Mix the salt into the grated vegetables and set aside. Slice the onion and the pepper. Beat together the egg, flour, baking powder, spices and some freshly ground black pepper to make a thick batter. Squeeze all the liquid out of the grated potato and courgette mixer by hand or using a sieve and add to the batter along with the onions and peppers. Mix well until everything is coated with batter. Heat a little olive oil in a non stick frying pan over a medium heat. Gently fry heaped tablespoons of the vegetable mix, pressing down the tops with the back of the spoon to make flatter fritters. Cook for a few minutes on each side until golden. Serve in a stack sprinkled with roughly chopped coriander. Enjoy!

As ever, let me know what you think, and maybe send photographs of your own fritters?

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Blogger Talk: How To Put Together A Media Kit For Your Blog

For the first few years of doing sponsored posts and advertising on my blog (you can read more about sponsored posts and the like in my posts Full Disclosure: How I Earn Money Off Of My Blog and Blogger Talk: How Much Should I Charge For A Sponsored Post?) I used to do it all manually. Every single time I entered into a correspondence with a brand, or I wanted to pitch an idea to my brand I had to put together and type up information about my blog, my blog traffic and my terms for participating in such posts. It was a lot of work, and sometimes missed out on important information which cost me later. A few months ago I finally got my act together and put together a media kit for my blog, which not only makes my whole operation more professional, it has made my life a hell of a lot easier and stopped things falling through the cracks.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Recipe: Mini Marinated Mozzarella In A Jar

I'm not very good with cheese. Most hard cheeses make me sick, and I don't like the taste of most soft cheeses that I can safely eat. However, maybe it is because I developed a taste for artisan pizza at a very young age, my cheese loathing does not seem to stretch to mozzarella; which, cooked or raw I simply adore. Even though it is still Spring, because I'm a Brit currently experiencing Southern Californian weather in my head it is already Summer, so I am well into Summer cooking. One of my current favourites for a light supper or weekend lunch is Marinated Mozzarella, adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's book Plenty.
Mini Marinated Mozzarella In A Jar | @rachelphipps
Using small pearls of mozzarella instead of a torn ball, and making the mixture up with more olive oil and in a jar allows me to make it on Sunday night and keep it in the fridge until about mid-week when it is all gone (you should only keep it a couple of days anyway) when all I want to do is throw together a salad. This also makes it portable, which makes it a great and unique thing to take to a picnic. 
Mini Marinated Mozzarella In A Jar | @rachelphipps
Serve with fresh crusty bread and roughly chopped ripe cherry tomatoes. Also, once you have removed the mozzarella from the jar, just before serving grind over some fresh pepper and sprinkle with flakes of Maldon Sea Salt (or any other large flaked sea salt, but Maldon crystals are preferred.)
Mini Marinated Mozzarella In A Jar | @rachelphipps

  • Approx. 1 1/2 tubs Mini Mozzarella Balls
  • 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds, Crushed
  • Zest of 1 Small Lemon
  • Handful Shredded Basil Leaves
  • Small Handful Fresh Oregano, Roughly Chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, Minced
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (best quality you can afford)

Mix together the fennel seeds, lemon rind, herbs and garlic in a small bowl with a very generous glug of olive oil. Drain the mozzarella and toss in until well coated in marinade. Fill the jar to the top with cheese and top up so it is full of olive oil. Screw the lid on tightly and shake well to mix the rest of the oil in with the marinade ingredients. Refrigerate  and leave for at least 3 hours before serving. Consume within 2-3 days. 
Mini Marinated Mozzarella In A Jar | @rachelphipps
Let me know what you think of these delicious little nuggets of cheese, and here is to a Summer of delicious food! I've got a few warmer weather recipes I can't wait to share with you over the next month or so, and so much planned for when I move back to England at the end of next month where I will have a full kitchen to work in again, and, more importantly for Summer cooking, a barbecue! 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Recipe: Lemon Syrup Cupcakes For World Baking Day

Today is World Baking Day, a day to step out of your comfort zone and bake something that you have never baked before. In honour of today and its challenge  I thought I'd share with you a twist on one of the easiest and most basic bakes I know and that I have (literally) made countless times. When guests arrive at Pilgrims Nook for their stay we usually greet them with a handmade wooden trug of Pilgrims Nook grown vegetables and homemade preserves (usually whatever is seasonal) but during the Winter months, or when there is as not as much fresh produce to go around we fill the trugs with baked goods. The two most popular treats with both us in the kitchen and our guests are the vanilla cupcakes from Cake Days by The Hummingbird Bakery (some weekends I thought I was going to get repetitive strain injury frosting those things!) or Mary Berry's Lemon Loaf Cake from her Ultimate Cake Book (the book I learnt to bake from, incidentally!) 
Lemon Syrup Cupcakes
While they were originally destined for (and some did indeed end up as) lemonade, when I took a picture on Instagram of how huge the local Fresno lemons I picked up at the farmers market were, every instantly said lemon cake to me. So, I emailed my mother for the recipe which she dutifully sent me (thank you Mummy!), but then I realised I was not going to get very far with it. While I may be a massive butter snob, as demonstrated in previous posts when I have explained countless times my love for unsalted French butter, I have learnt from Mary Berry that when making deliciously light sponge cakes, using margarine is actually the way forward. Problem is, you can't get Stork (the only brand I consider) margarine in America, and frankly some of the margarine type butter products in the American supermarkets scare the hell out of me. So, world baking day is about stepping out of your comfort zone, right? While I'm totally confident with cooking the cooking alchemy of changing around ingredients, it was time to start messing around with the cake batter to try and make our beloved lemon loaf, but in the form of cupcakes as light as if they were made with margarine, but only made with real butter. The resulting recipe makes 18 cupcakes.
Look at the size of this lemon, compared to your average British supermarket fare. I have not seen these so big since I was in Sorrento!

  • 1 Lemon
  • 60g (1/4 cup) Butter, softened
  • 60g (1/4 cup) Greek Yogurt (I use Total 0%)
  • 240g (1 cup) Plain Flour
  • 120g (1/2 cup) Caster Sugar (Granulated if you are in the USA)
  • 115g (4oz) Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) Milk

Pre-heat the oven to 165 Celsius (325 Fahrenheit). Beat together the butter, yogurt and caster sugar until you have a smooth batter. Add the eggs and beat until smooth again. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and the zest of the lemon to the mixture and beat until combined. (You could do all this beating in a food processor if you wanted.) Add the milk and beat until everything is mixed together and smooth. Half fill 18 cupcake cases with batter and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until you can stick a cake tester in and remove it with the metal stick still clean. You can get these for literally about £1 on Amazon, or just use a wooden toothpick. Remove from the oven and make a couple of holes in each cake. Mix together the granulated sugar and the juice of the lemon in a small bowl and drizzle about two teaspoons of the syrup over the top of each cupcake. Allow to cool, and enjoy! 

While the resulting cupcakes are not as light as the Mary Berry loaf, the cake is a bit denser, they are not at all heavy as provide the perfect slightly sticky, slightly tangy afternoon treat. I hope you enjoy them and hopefully make them today if you have a lemon on hand! Just a side note though, while the original lemon loaf these inspired will last a couple of days (if it has not been eating right away, that is!), but these cupcakes are best eaten the day they are made. What other recipes are you trying for World Baking Day?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Weekly Love: Week 134

So, it is the time of year for the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards, the only blog awards event in the year that I actually pay attention to! In 2011 Judging Covers, a book review website I write for was nominated as 'Best Lifestyle Blog', in 2012 my beauty blog 'The Glossy Guide' was nominated as 'Best New Beauty Blog', but much to my disappointment I've never managed to get Rachel Phipps into a category  and I would really appreciate everyones support if I was to finally get Rachel Phipps in there for 2013. I thought about it long and hard, and while this is a lifestyle blog, it is more of a food blog with lifestyle content mixed in so I would really appreciate it if you could take a moment out of your weekend to nominate Rachel Phipps as 'Best Food Blog' this year. Nominations for The Glossy Guide in the 'Best Established Beauty Blog' category will also be greatly appreciated! Also, remember to nominate your favourite fashion bloggers in their categories too!
1. A beautiful sunny and hot Saturday spent at the beautiful Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. | 2. This delicious 'French Berry' soda I picked up from Joan's On Third tastes exactly like a Diablo Fraise. | 3. LA in bloom at the Huntington. | 4. For a easy and delicious lunch or light supper supersize the English pub favourite of the classic prawn cocktail. | 5. Picking up goodies such as tortilla chips and pineapple juice in Trader Joe's to make some Cinco De Mayo goodies. | 6. A test run for a hopefully upcoming recipe for Strawberries & Cream Shortcakes.

Today I want to introduce Rachel Phipps' first round of sponsors on the blog, whose ads you may have already spotted in the sidebar and been over to check out their sites. First, we have amazing half French, half English, London based lifestyle blog Joy Felicity Jane. I'm personally a reader of Tania's beautifully photographed blog. I've particularly been enjoying her posts from the English Countryside recently.

Next up is SUJUU, an online jewellery and accessories boutique. Everyting is ethically sourced and made with love and care, and they stock designers such as Cinderella B, Aidai and Mirabelle. My personal picks from the store? This Hammered Gold Bangle, this gold Bea Bee Necklace and this Amethyst Bangle.

Finally is the very funny and aptly named lifestyle blog Venus Trapped In Mars. Ladies, especially my American readers? If you need a crash course in sports so you still know what your boyfriend and guy friends are going on about, but you still want things to be pretty and sparkly, it is Sarah's blog you need to be reading. I found her post yesterday on the calorie count in different beers an interesting read, and her drinking games revolving around different major players in the American sporting calendar is well worth bookmarking. If you want to sponsor Rachel Phipps with 20% off through the month of May, click here for more info.
7. There are beautiful purple Jacaranda blooming all over Los Angeles at the moment. Every time I see one it makes me smile. | 8. Indian Spiced Summer Vegetable Fritters served with a side salad and paprika dusted soured cream. After lots of requests for what was just a light supper I threw together out of leftovers on Instagram and other social media to feature as a recipe post, I'm going to have another play around with it this weekend. | 9. Old (and mock old) sculpture make for great photos, again at the Huntington. | 10. Classic M&M's: the only way to get through writing an essay. | 11. For an even better version of the classic Strawberries & Cream, whip lemon zest into mascarpone. | 12. I've been drinking so much thyme infused lemonade recently; look out for the recipe in June!

Finally, I've decided that I want to trial a new feature in my 'Weekly Love' posts. I know one of the reasons you guys love them so much is because you enjoy finding new blogs to read through the sites I link to, but I think that can also work both ways too. So, below I've decided to play around with the a 'Simply Linked' widget where you can submit your own links to be shown at the bottom of each 'Weekly Love' post. If you have a blog post that you've posted during the two weeks since the last weekly love post; be it a recipe you are particularly proud of, photos you've posted from your recent travels or an outfit you are particularly proud of styling, I, as well as the rest of your fellow readers I'm sure would love to see it. Just a note, to make this fair on everyone, please only submit one link per website, link to a post and not just your home page. Any spam links I will take care of. Also, just to help with my little level of blog post consistance OCD, I would really appreciate it if you could title your link the exact title of your original blog post. 

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? My weekend is going to be pretty work orientated, so thank god I'm on the home stretch; a month today I will be sitting my last exam at UCLA and my best friend Kathryn will be arriving from London for one last LA adventure!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

10 Super Easy Recipe Ideas For World Baking Day

This Sunday it is World Baking Day; a day where everyone, especially those of you who don't usually cook and bake are encouraged to step outside their comfort zone and bake something new, or for the more experienced bakers out there something that you find challenging. I don't know what I'm going to be trying my hand at making this weekend, yet, because trying to make something challenging is rather hard for me as I have a limited kitchen and equipment at the moment, but there will be a new recipe I formulated especially for World Baking Day here on the blog on Sunday; if you want to try it, be sure to have lemons and Greek yogurt on hand, as well as the usual baking ingredients. Also, I thought today to give you a few days to think I'd put together a list of 10 easy recipes, but a few with challenging elements from both this blog, and other sites I love for you to perhaps try your hand at this weekend.

These super easy chocolate brownies are on of the most popular recipes on my blog (and the most popular bake) and if you are new to baking, or you've never made brownies before they are something I'd suggest you try your hand at. This recipe uses cocoa powder instead of solid chocolate so that melting skill has completely been cut out. However, they still taste divine and I promise your friends and family will be pleased when presented with a massive pan of these on Sunday afternoon!

Joy The Baker's book is my go to for finding new and delicious things to bake, so when I was puytting together this list I thought it was only natural to turn to her blog to see what delicious morsels I could suggest. If you are lucky to love somewhere warm like I do at the moment you'll have noticed new season peaches are starting to pop up at the markets. If this is the case, how can you say no to these peach scones?

A recipe I simply conceived out of boredom and not having any chocolate chips on hand, these M&M cookies can be made with whatever miniature chocolate or 'candy' you happen to have left over, including M&M's, Smarties, Reeses Mini Peanut Butter Cups or any combination of the above. They are also very more-ish.

While my recipe for Nutella Rugelach is quite easy, it has some new techniques and some fiddly bits in it, so I'd recommend it for someone who can bake things like basic cookies and cupcakes with confidence  and wants to try their hand at making something that provides a bit more of a showstopper effect, while still actually being simple. Once you have the dough down, you can also make these with jam.

This Chocolate Baileys Mud Cake from one of my regular blog reads Citrus and Candy has been doing the Pinterest rounds like crazy recently. It actually has very few ingredients and is very easy to make. I'd say the only challenging part is if you have never made chocolate ganache before, so this could be a good skill to try and master. Once you've got it, making luxurious chocolate ganache for cakes and truffles will be easy.

If you fancy like making something 'on trend' it looks like the food worlds love for all things salted caramel does not show any signs of waining any time soon. My twist on my favourite go to chocolate chip cookie recipe uses Rolos instead of chocolate chips to easily take care of the 'caramel' element, and are finished with a sprinkling of chefs favourite Maldon Sea Salt. They're both delicious and decadent.

Currently acting as the cover image for my 'Cakes & Cookies' board on Pinterest, I've practically been counting the days until I am back in England and I have the suitable equipment to make Katie Quinn Davies' twist on the classic British Victoria Sponge with Limencello laced cream and balsamic strawberries making up the filling instead of my usual go to's of butter icing and good quality raspberry jam. This is the cake to make if you are baking for a crowd and you want to experiment with recipes already in your repertoire. 

Another twist on my ever occurring go to cookie recipe (I will be eternally grateful to Lorraine Pascale for inventing it), this time with the all American, dentists worst nightmare of marshmallow fluff forming a gooey and all together amazing center for slightly smaller cookie versions. Bake these if you just want to be bad.

Afte including the alternative Victoria Sponge recipe, I got thinking about what over twists on afternoon tea classics you could bake this Sunday and I remembered seeing Maple Syrup Glazed scones on the blog Raspberri Cupcakes a while back. Talk about taking two different traditions from each side of the pond.

I made these Flourless Coconut Chocolate Drops off of the Shutterbean blog a few months ago. They were absolutely delicious, and I could not stop eating them. They're also easily adaptable to put your own choice of nibbles in (though the recipe calls for chocolate chips and nuts alongside the coconut that you actually need), and they are also perfect if you have the problem of being gluten free this World Baking Day.

Do you know what you are going to be trying your hand at for World Baking Day yet?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

10 London Restaurants and Cafes I Can't Wait To Eat At (Part 2)

So, after I posted my '10 London Restaurants and Cafes I Can't Wait To Eat At' in January (I had a really nostalgia meets excitement hit putting it together) I had such a great response from people who had enjoyed the list, and found it a really useful guide of where to try and eat in the city in lieu of my 'Places To Eat In London' being on hiatus until July when I get back from Los Angeles. Reader   and fellow blogger Ashley has even decided to work through every restaurant on that list with her boyfriend, and documented her first visit from the list of Pizza East on her blog. Naturally I had to put another edition together, then!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Places To Eat In Los Angeles: Wurstküche, Venice

I do rather love hotdogs, but I don't usually like junk food. I discovered the solution to this in London when I first discovered the now famous Big Apple Hot Dogs stand in Old Street, but now I'm living in Los Angeles I've had to find somewhere else to get my gourmet hotdog fix. Enter Wurstküche in Venice (they also have a branch Downtown) where I was rather impressed by their hip decor, delicious dips and extensive sausage choices.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Swimwear For Girls With A Bigger Bust (2013 Edition)

As promised and as by popular request I've decided to put together a 2013 edition of the post I wrote last June on where to buy and my picks for the upcoming Summer (if you're in Europe) and current (if you are here with me on the West Coast) swimwear if you, like me are one of us girls with a bigger bust and for whom just swanning into Topshop to pick up a new bikini or swimsuit is simply not an option. (If you are fortunate enough not to fall into this category lots of these styles are also made in sizes smaller than a DD cup, and you can also check out the post I wrote earlier this year with my picks of swimwear I would buy if I were like you!)
Pureda Portofino Bikini Top: £34, Pureda Portofino Bikini Briefs: £22

This fantastic two piece that I fell in love with the moment I saw it on the Bravissimo website is my number one pick for the Summer, and at the time of writing the bikini top should be on its way to me in Los Angeles to wear on Santa Monica beach. As quite a lot of the time when I'm not going in the water I wear just a bikini top instead of a bra with high waisted shorts by the coast I did not order the bottoms; I felt that the striped meant that the top would mix and match quite nicely from my two piece from last Summer.
Free Honolulu Bikini Top: £36, Free Honolulu Bikini Briefs: £23,, Bravissimo San Marino Swimsuit: £45

Especially if you are UK based (though I am using their quite reasonable £8-ish international shipping this year) Bravissimo is my favourite place to shop for all things underwired. They have a great selection from some big swimwear and lingerie brands like Freya and Panache as well as some lovely own design pieces, and hard to find anywhere else swimwear during the Summer months. They have a great catalogue and website, but if I remember correctly they have brick and mortar stores and there is one in Covent Garden. 
Figleaves Midnight Grace Heidi Underwired Halter Bikini Top: £28 / $42, Figleaves Santa Maria Underwired Twist Bandeau: £28 / $42, Figleaves Sophina Twilight Underwired Padded Bikini Top: £32 / $48

Figleaves (which for my American readers also have a USA site) was my swimwear destination last year. They are a lot like Bravissimo, but with a lot more choice, but not with as good product photographs which is why, call me shallow, I usually look at Bravissimo first. The first bikini on the left is actually a new season pattern of the style I brought last year and I've been really, really happy with it. It is not brilliant if you want to actually swim lengths in in a pool (you may fall out!), but for playing around in the water, sitting in a hot tub or sunbathing on the beach and walking along the boardwalk, I have found it has been perfect. The fit is really good and flattering, and it has been comfortable enough for me to wear it at the beach all day without it pulling or digging in anywhere. It is from their 'Midnight Grace' own brand design collection, and off the back of this I would really recommend these styles.
Figleaves Midnight Grace Heidi Underwired Halterneck Swimsuit: £40 / $60

If you are more of a one piece kind of gal, while I don't think they had them last year, this year the 'Midnight Grace' collection has some rather awesome swimsuits in stock which correspond with their bikini styles; so you can have any design you want in the style you feel the most comfortable with and with full support.
Bodyglove Ray Of Light Bikini Top: $58, Bodygove Sealine Bikini Top: $57, Bodyglove Smoothies Sea Blue Bikini Top: $52

One of my readers recommended surfer brand Bodyglove for larger cup size styles in the USA. I love these fun colourful styles, even if the pictures are a bit more vegas than high fashion. Also, because they are a surf brand I think they should probably be quite versatile for actually doing things other than just sunbathing, too!
ASOS Black Mix and Match 50's Halter Padded Fuller Bust Bikini Top: £14 / $23.28, ASOS Mix and Match Side Tie Bikini Pant: £8 / $13.30, ASOS Fringed Fuller Bust Bikini Top: £16 / $26.60ASOS Mix and Match Hipster Bikini Pant: £7 / $11.62ASOS Mix and Match Twist Bandeau Fuller Bust Orange Bikini Top: £9 / $14.46

Ever since ASOS introduced their fuller bust swimwear range and started stocking other DD+ lines they have been the obvious choice for swimwear. Their basics are good value (just see the styles above, us bigger girls never used to be able to even contemplate things like fringing or and bandeau) and come in great mix and match options. This black, and the blue and white 50's style below are super flattering styles for girls like us.
Sunseeker Tropicana Print Balconette Bikini Top: £41.90 / $69.66, Sunseeker Tropicana Print V Boy Leg Bikini Short: £29.90 / $49.71, ASOS Floral Embellished Longline Fuller Bust Bikini Top: £24 / $39.90, ASOS Floral Embelished High Waisted Bikini Pant: £16 / $26.60, ASOS 50's Contrast Padded Fuller Bust Bikini Top: £16 / $26.60, ASOS High Waisted Bikini Pant: £14 / $23.28
Boux Avenue Lanzarote Bow Bikini Top: £24, Boux Avenue Bow Back Lanzarote Bikini Briefs: £12

I am aware that perhaps with the exception of ASOS, most of the brands and options I have listed come with higher price tags than average, and that is usually something us bigger girls unfortunately have to put up with. However, while the quality may not be as great as some of my favourite brands (though it is no different to the quality of an H&M bikini, for example) and I don't personally shop there myself, Boux Avenue is a great site to find bigger cup size swimwear. For example, this neon green bikini comes to a total of £36, about the price of your average DD+ bikini top. I'd recommend going for something like this if you just want it for a single occasion or quick holiday when you don't go on a lot of beach holidays, or you don't have access to a beach or a pool regularly and you won't get that much use out of it.

A parting note to some of my bigger busted readers; have you picked out your swimsuit for this year yet, and where will you be wearing it? Mine is destined for Santa Monica Beach, maybe the beach back in Kent and one or two pool parties slash barbecues. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Currently Reading: Blogger Edition #5

It has been a while, (I wrote those words then looked back and realised that is exactly how I opened my last 'Currently Reading' post, too!) so I thought today I'd post the 5th instalment of one of the most popular features on my blog 'Currently Reading: Blogger Edition' where I share some of the blogs I have particularly been enjoying over recent months. You can find a list of my all time favourite blogs on my 'Blogs I Read' page, and you can catch up with the last four instalments of this series by clicking through: #1, #2, #3, #4.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

5 Showstopper Cakes I'd Really Like To Make

Hands up whose favourite part of The Great British Bake Off is the final showstopper round? Seeing all those incredible and beautiful bakes come together? I don't really have much time to bake something special; the last time I did, I made Peggy Porschen's Limoncello Layer Cake for my leaving party, and I only got to sample one slice as it went pretty quickly. I really enjoyed making it, but it would have been nice to enjoy eating it a bit more! Other than that, usually I'm, just cooking evening meals, and biscuits and cookies to satisfy my sugar cravings during the day. Over the holidays, I'm usually working on testing and developing new recipes for the blog and for some of my other projects. But, I've decided. This coming Summer when I return to my mothers incredibly kitted out kitchen and my new Nigella Lawson cake stand I ordered at the beginning of the year waiting for me, I'm going to make sure I bake at least a couple big showstopper, celebration layer cakes. Just, well, because. I'm also going to enjoy more than one slice!

Even though this cake is actually supposed to be a wedding cake, it is totally happening for a Summer Dinner party. Just look at those peaches, and the burnt sugar, and all that white frosting with the juices running down the side? Doesn't it just scream Summer? I've been hoarding peach recipes all year I want to try out when they are in season, how would this cake not be the perfect thing to kick that cooking spree off with?

I've had this recipe for a Chocolate Brownie Mousse Cake bookmarked for quite a while, but it was not until I was drooling over something similar in the cake display case at The Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica (I'm posting a piece on my Huckleberry experience tomorrow) and I think stumbled across the recipe again while transferring all my recipe bookmarks to Evernote Food for iPad (such an amazing app to keep all the recipes you've stumbled across online all in one place, easy to browse and quite literally at your fingertips) did I realise that I can't let another year go past without attempting it. Prepare for death by chocolate.

It is not so much this cake I'm interested in making (though it will be a good chance to practice my layer cake frosting technique), but the slightly molten, slightly golden and slightly drippy ganache that tops it. That must take a level of skill and control to get it perfectly on top and down the sides of the cake like that, something I'd love to master. I might also put my own type of cookies in the middle of the cake, as I'm not a massive Orea fan. Or, make homemade Oreos to go in the middle? Now there is an idea!

Okay, so I know this is actually a Christmas showstopper, and I probably will be waiting until Christmas to make it, rather than making it a Summer project, but I really wanted to include it in this roundup as it just looks so fantastic, and really lives up to the point of this post. For those of you who are food blog savvy, you might recognise the style of the photo as being from one of my all time favourite food and food photography blogs; What Katie Ate. So make this a placeholder for some of the showstoppers she has at the back of her beautiful cookbook that I am slowly working my way through, some of which I might just get to making, and more importantly enjoying this Summer!
6-Layer Rich Malted-Chocolate Toasted Marshmallow Cake

Marshmallow. And chocolate. And lots of layers. Please explain to me what is not to love about this cake? I need to find a friend who has a birthday at a time when I'll be able to take the time to make them a nice, big indulgent layer cake. I think by the end of this post I'm running out of excuses to make them for myself, just because! Just imagine, this cake with the top littered with brightly coloured birthday candles? It would make my day for sure, especially as I did not get a birthday cake this year; it can be belated!

Have you got any big baking projects planned for the Summer? As well as making one or two layer cakes, I have so many barbecue related recipes and ideas I can't wait to be in front of the grill to try out!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Recipe: Indulgent 3 Ingredient Nutella Cheesecake Cups

'Indulgent' is really the operative word when it comes to these single serving cheesecakes. I initially planned for this recipe to be one big round, classic shaped cheesecake, but then I realised that as well as mascarpone (I prefer not to use a light version as it is thicker) and Nutella, I would be using butter too and I felt that a lot of you would want to shoot me for the calorie count. So, instead of using something to bond the biscuit base together problem solved by serving these cheesecakes in single cups. Anyway, enjoy!
Indulgent 3 Ingredient Nutella Cheesecake
There is not really an ingredient list for this, more of a formula as not everyone will have the same size pots or cups, and will be making it for any number of people (talk about an easy show stopped dinner party dessert!) For the biscuit base, use as many crumbled Digestives (use Graham Crackers if you are in the USA) as you need for about a half inch thick base. Obviously if you are using slightly smaller cups, you'll need a thinner base. I used up the scrapings of my bowl in a shot glass, using just a few crumbs at the bottom for a study break treat.
Indulgent Nutella Cheesecake
The formula for the cheesecake mix is pretty simple; two parts mascarpone cheese to one part Nutella. I measured mine out using tablespoons. Make sure the mascarpone is room temperature to make sure it is easier to work, and the Nutella is only slightly warmed so it is not hot, but not rock solid but smooth instead. The Nutella will be fine to use out of the jar if you live in California, because due to reasons I debated in my Nutella Rugelach recipe post (I do rather enjoy experimenting with Nutella!) it always seems smooth and silky straight from the jar here. Beat the Nutella and mascarpone together until smooth and there are no lumps, then spoon into glasses over the biscuit layer. Smooth the top and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours so the cheesecake can set. Serve with a little sprig of fresh mint (I'm obsessed with the beautifully flavourful and fragrant California mint right now) sprouting out of the top, if you wish!

Let me know what you think, and if you do want to make this as a traditional cheesecake in a spring ring pan, you'll need to add half a teaspoon of melted butter per biscuit in your base, and allow that to refrigerate for about an hour before adding your cheesecake topping.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Weekly Love: Week 133

I panicked when I realised that I have less than 8 weeks left living in Los Angeles and that there was so much I have not eaten yet. The two best meals I have had so far in the city have been my first ever Korean Barbecue experience at Soot Bull Jeep and fried chicken at Ludo Lefebvre's LudoTruck which I have been back to since. Both of these were food experiences I would not really go for; a minimalist shop front restaurant where you're looked at suspicious for being, well, not Korean, and a food truck; examples of why you must try everything and anything in life. I think this sense of panic was exacerbated by watching the first few episodes of Anthony Bordain's new documentary on CNN; Parts Unknown that you really must catch. While their is food it is not food centric; the first episode is a fascinating first look at Burma, somewhere where not many cameras have been before, and the second focuses on Los Angeles' Koreatown and a different side to the city most television shows really don't show you which I particularly enjoyed.
1. I will never have had enough of the ocean. | 2. A mid afternoon fresh cut fruit snack. Local strawberries, cantaloup melon and thinly shredded fresh mint is my favourite combination at the moment. | 3. Recipe testing with baby broccoli stems and salami. | 4. Consulting The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook on the subject of pizza dough. | 5. Sage advice on the 3rd Street Promenade. | 6. Homemade anchovy pizza.

I think she is crazy, even if it is for a good cause, but my very good friend Sherin is going to be abseiling down the Broadgate Tower in London where she works (that is 510 feet!) in aid of Mile End Climbing Wall that focuses on encouraging disadvantaged youth to develop themselves through physical activity. You can sponsor her abseil via Just Giving a) to help the cause, and b) because she believes the more money she raises the more chance of her not falling and dying (her words, not mine!) and I quite like my friends alive!

Also, the end of April means another 'Project LA' column over at The High Tea Cast. This month I have gone for something a bit different and written a shopping and eating guide to Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, one of my favourite hang outs and in my opinion the coolest street in the city. If you are planning on visiting Los Angeles any time soon, you would be amiss not to head down there for a meal and a wander.
7. Chocolate No.3 from Georgetown Cupcake. | 8. One of my favourite nail polish shades of the moment, 'Cheeky Chops' by Butter London. | 9. Obligatory palm tree shot on Venice Beach. | 10. I never thought I'd see the day J.Crew copied something from H&M. These necklaces look familiar to anyone?! | 11. Writing notes to people back home on pretty note cards from Sugar Paper Los Angeles and The Hummingbird Bakery. | 12. More pizza, this time with roasted garlic and anchovies (my favourite toppings) from 800 Degrees in Westwood.

Finally, do you remember last month I wrote a post introducing the new project from SYCO and Youtube, The You Generation and their 'Fantastic Food' category? Today sees the launch of another of their categories which I think will be of interest to a lot of you, their 'Stylist' category. Click here for more information, and I can't wait to see some of your entries!

What have you been enjoying this week, and what have you got planned for the weekend? I've got an art gallery trip for my Art History class tomorrow morning, and apart from that I am going to be putting together another recipe post I have planned (though I am very excited for the one that is going to go up on Monday!) and try to get my dissertation proposal finished for next year. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

20% Off Advertising On Rachel Phipps With Passionfruit Ads

In case you have not noticed yet, Rachel Phipps now looks a little different. While I tried to do it myself and ended up tearing my hair out yelling at pages of HTML code, I ended up hiring the amazing Gloria at Little White Whale Design Studio to install a special navigation bar at the top of my site. Now at the top of the page you'll find links to my style posts, my recipe index, a holding page for my new 'Cocktail Hour' column of cocktail recipes I'm going to be launching in July, a drop down menu of my 'Places To Eat' restaurant review columns by city, and a drop down of my travel articles by destination. On a quick design note, if you are looking for someone for any web design or coding projects, big or small I would really recommend Gloria; she was quick, speedy, good value for money and knew exactly what I wanted based off of my clumsy email description!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Blogger Talk: How Much Should I Charge For A Sponsored Post?

Something I have been asked in many emails from readers, especially since I wrote my post 'Full Disclosure: How I Earn Money Off Of My Blog' is how I work out how much they should charge for sponsored posts when they have been approached by brands, PR companies of SEO agencies for the first time. It is a difficult question, because there is no 'one size fits all' answer to this question; it varies from person to person, blog to blog.