Friday, 30 August 2013

Student Suppers: That One Pot Pasta With Buffalo Mozzarella

You know that one pot pasta recipe from Martha Stewart which has basically done the rounds of practically every food blog on the internet? Yes, that one. I had not tried it yet, but when my parents went out for the evening and I was able to cook just for myself for once (while I love cooking for others, it was lovely to think about just cooking for myself and what I wanted or fancied for the first time in months), and because I knew I had all the ingredients to hand I thought I'd have a go at cutting the recipe down from serves two to serves one (the original is serves four I think, but I was working from Rose's version). I also switched out the parmesan which I don't like for the leftover half a ball of mozzarella in the fridge. 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Introducing Reclipper, The New Social Sharing Site On My Radar

Once you've got past the big ones, it sometimes seems there are hundreds of social networks out there. In case you had not noticed by now, I'm a bit of a social media junkie, so when a new social site gets in touch with me to see if I've heard about their new site, I can't wait to jump on it. Hell, I was on Twitter before so many other people thanks to the team at Channel 4 who got me excited about it, and Pinterest was just a small network of a couple of hundred when I was sent an invite. Today, I want to introduce you to my latest find: Reclipper
Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 19.53.18

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Pesto Review + Giveaway

It should come as no secret that I like pretty much everything edible that comes out of Hotel Chocolat. As a family we have been subscribers to their Tasting Club boxes for as long as I can remember (the next time I remember to photograph one of their tasting boxes before we dive into it the moment it comes though our letterbox, I'll let you know a bit more about it in a blog post), Christmas stockings always mean little bits from their Christmas collections, as well as my favourite Caramel Drops and Pink Champagne Truffles (the best ever!), Easter means one of their fantastic boozy truffle filled, thick shelled eggs, and birthdays sometimes often mean their indulgent giant slabs too. They also have wonderful customer service. 
So, you can probably imagine my excitement when the press release for their new 'Cocoa Cuisine'  collection landed in my inbox, as well as the offer of sending over a couple of jars of the new pesto; both for me and for you guys arrived. First, the collection. As well as a Cocoa Pesto (£8), it includes a White Chocolate Horseradish (£8) (anyone who has ever eaten in Wagamamas will know this will probably make a wicked chocolate cake), a Savoury Cocoa Mayo (£8) (this pesto is also in fact delicious mixed into regular mayo as a dip for potato wedges), a Cocoa Chutney, a Cocoa Gin (£15), biscuits and all the things they've been selling for a while like cocoa powder and drinking chocolate. Essentially, the collection is great for people who like straight out luxury food stuffs, and high quality ingredients for your own creations. 
As for the pesto itself it is unlike most pestos you'd have had before, even homemade versions. It is very unique. The cocoa gives it a richer, more nutty taste and it is much chunkier than your average pesto; pretty much all of the pine nuts are whole, which gives it the most fantastic bite. While I originally intended it to be part of a recipe I found that it does not need any messing around with; serve it as a lunch or a starter on toasted thick slices of bread (I toasted these pieces on the barbecue while it was heating up to cook steaks) and fresh, ripe and plump cherry tomatoes to add a fresh burst to every other bite. 

So, the team at Hotel Chocolat have given me two jars of their new Cocoa Pesto to giveaway to you guys. All you have to do to be in with the chance of getting your hands on a jar is to head over to the Rachel Phipps Facebook Page (make sure you have 'Liked' it), and hit like and share on this post about Hotel Chocolat's Cocoa Pesto. Unfortunately  this competition is open to UK residents only, and it will run until September 9th. Good luck, and I'd love to hear in the comments section what you'd use the pesto for, or your thoughts on the range.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Places To Eat In London: Jamie Oliver's Union Jacks, Holborn [Now Closed]

Last week I hopped on the train up to London to meet up with my friend Katie who was in town from Los Angeles; we used to sit next to each other in Ancient Greek Epic in Fall Quarter at UCLA. The last time we'd had lunch out together and reviewed a restaurant we went to Blue Plate Taco; something very 'LA' in Santa Monica. I'd been reading her travel diary blog she's been writing this Summer for friends and family, and I caught a stereotypical American view about British food not being too good. So, I decided this time around we'd go for somewhere very English and head to Union Jacks, the most British of Jamie Oliver's restaurants for a very late light lunch. I took her to Ottolenghi's in Notting Hill for dessert. A little potted British restaurant history of our food revolution over the past 10 or 15 years or so, if you like.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Win 2 Tickets To The Cake & Bake Show, 13th-15th September

If you follow anything food or drink related (or past Great British Bake Off contestants) on Twitter, or you've been looking at escalator posters on the London Underground recently you'll know that The Cake & Bake Show is coming to Earls Court in London on the 13th - 15th September, and thanks to the wonderful team at Sainsbury's I have a pair of tickets to the show (valid on any one of the three days) to giveaway. 
For those of you who don't know, The Cake & Bake Show is a public food show where everything is about baking. Think Britain's next Top Model Live, or Clothes Show London, or IMATS, but for foodies. Features include loads of baking demonstrations, artisan vendors selling both food and baking equipment, cookbook signings, Q&A's with bakers and television chefs, a bakery where people will be talking about and demonstrating all things to do with baking your own bread (one of my big personal focuses), and a Competition Theatre where there will be bake offs, and you'll be able to find James Morton, John Whaite and Cathryn Dresser from last years (and in my opinion the best series) of The Great British Bake Off. 
To be in with the chance to win a pair of the tickets, leave a comment (and remember to include your email address!) telling me what cookbook you've most recently purchased for yourself (or that someone has given you as a gift) and you've really been enjoying. My pick would be One by Florence Knight which I'm finding a really fascinating read. You have until midnight on the 30th August to enter so I have time to get your ticket to you, and to make it fair please only enter if you know you are going to be in London or able to get to London on one of those days. Also, as I need to get the tickets sent out to you in time, if I don't hear from you within 24 hours of emailing, I'll have to pick someone else. I don't know what day I'm going yet (Sainsbury's also gifted me a pair of tickets), but if anyone is going I'll let you know which day I'm going to be around on Twitter, because I'd love to meet some of you guys!  

Friday, 23 August 2013

Weekly Love: Week 141

Wow it has been a busy few weeks, but I'm no where near as feeling as flustered as I was at the beginning of the month. And this is in a fortnight where I have successfully pulled off a dinner party for 8 people. I'm still trying to do more things than there are hours in the day all at once, but it finally feels like a good type of busy, if you know what I mean! It is so hard to believe that the Summer is practically over; you can see it in the weather is starting to turn. I was sitting watching the rain come down out of the office window the other day!
1. Baths with L'Occitane Shea Butter Bubble Bath and The White Company Scented Candles (c/o), just because it was a Monday. | 2. Look who I found on the way down to pick vegetables. | 3. My haul from the vegetable plot to make Sunday lunch. | 4. Sunday afternoon bowling with old school friends, and guess what? I won! | 5. Baking triple chocolate chip cookies to take into the office. Chocolate chip cookies make everything better. | 6. Recipe testing.

Before we left Los Angeles Kathryn and I did a photo shoot so we could have some pictures of the two of use for The Glossy Guide with my amazing and super talented friend Nicole. We're going to be posting more photos from the shoot up on the site very soon, but if you head over to our About Page now, it has been totally revamped with the shoot. It was a lot of fun, and I'm really going to miss taking photos with Nicole around LA.
7. Cocktail hour with my Mummy. | 8. Baking biscuits for the Laura Ashley blog. | 9. Drinking my lavender mojitos post photo shoot at my desk. | 10. Spinach, Bacon and Quark Quiche in progress. | 11.  My latest cookbook purchase, One by Florence Knight. It is pretty awesome and a brilliant read. More about it, soon! | 12. The Mediterranean spread my Mother and I put together for family Sunday lunch.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm going to a cocktail making class in London tomorrow afternoon I can't wait to tell you all about (if it is any good!), and this afternoon I'm meeting up with my friend Katie who is in London at the moment from my Classical Epic class at UCLA (last time we saw each other we reviewed Blue Plate Taco in Santa Monica) but apart from that I'm going to have a pretty chilled time at home. I might start sorting out stuff to move into my London flat. 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Cocktail Hour: How To Make Lavender Simple Syrup & Mojitos

It was Rose who said in the introduction to her recipe for Kinder Bueno Ice Cream that all good ideas come from Pinterest. If you do follow me on the social media site I've been addicted to since its humble beginnings  you will see that I am pretty obsessed with collating boards of hunger inducing foodie photographs and recipes. My board 'It's 5 o'Clock Somewhere' full of drinks and cocktails is actually was was responsible for my 'Cocktail Hour' column. Now, the other day I was browsing this board looking for styling ideas for my Classic White Peach Bellini when I found this pin for a Lavender Mojito. All the ingredients were below, but without quantities and the click through to the original source does not work. So, I decided I'd have a play around and work into out for you! If you know where this is originally from, please let me know so I can give the person who created the proper credit this totally delicious twist on the Classic Mojito what is due to them.
lavendermojito This makes two jam jar Mojitos, and is easily halved our doubled depending on how many you are catering for. A great idea for a party is to make them up without the ice and screw the lids on the jars. Leave them in a bucket of ice to stay cool and let guests grab their own and a straw when they arrive; great forward planning!

  • (2oz) Lavender Simple Syrup (below)
  • (2oz) White Rum (I'm a Bacardi girl myself)
  • The Juice Of 1 Lime
  • Sparkling Water or Club Soda
  • Small Bunch Fresh Mint
  • Ice 

Muddle together the mint leaves and the syrup with a spoon. Pour over the rum and the lime and mix well. Fill the jam jars with ice and top and split the mint syrup mixture evenly between the two glasses. Top up with the sparkling water or club soda, and enjoy!

  • (2 Cups) Granulated Sugar
  • (1 Cup) Water
  • 4 tbsp Lavender Heads (fresh or dry. If you are in the UK I'd recommend getting the heads of a small pot of lavender, in the USA I know you can get dried lavender for cooking in Whole Foods)

Making the Simple Syrup is pretty, well, simple. Heat the sugar, water and lavender heads on a medium low heat, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little and for the lavender to infuse for about half an hour. Strain the mixture though a very fine mesh sieve or a piece of muslin cloth. Store in the fridge in a screw top jar until needed, for up to about 3 weeks. You can use this instead of the sugar and lavender infusion in my Lemon Lavender Vodka Lemonade, in tea as a sweetener and over yogurt and ice cream.

What is your favourite variant of the classic mojito, and have any of you made an infused simple syrup before? 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Recipe: Summertime Spinach, Bacon & Quark Quiche

After trying out The Lake District Dairy Co.'s Quark by making their recipes for Strawberry Mousse Cake and some delicious Oat, Apricot & Quark Breakfast Muffins, the team got back in touch with me to see if I wanted to take up the challenge of putting together my own healthy Summer recipe using The Lake District Dairy Co.'s Quark. After making two sweet recipes with the tart dairy product I instantly knew I wanted to make something savoury and came up with this Summertime quiche. Using the Quark itself in the quiche instead of whole milk and cream makes it a much healthier option initially, but there are a few more things you can do to make it even healthier for you; the version with the ingredients given here is just because of what I already had in the house; after they sent me some Quark, I did not fancy a trip to Tescos! 
Summertime Spinach, Bacon & Quark Quiche | @rachelphipps Summertime Spinach, Bacon & Quark Quiche | @rachelphipps
We grow our own spinach so I automatically thought of it for a quiche filling, but when it is out of season I am always buying big bags of it as a healthy vegetable option both cooked and for salads. We always have bacon in the house so I wanted that for flavour, but while you think with the ribbons of fat it would be worse for you, you can make your quiche healthier by switching out the bacon for prosciutto. Finally, if you are making your own shortcrust pastry (while I can make my own and I did here, my hands are usually a bit too warm for pastry so I tend to buy it in a block) that is fine, but if you are going for a shop bought version you need to roll out, you can always switch it out for layers of filo pastry to cut down on the butter and carbs. While we had it warm with a salad for Supper, I found the next day it is even better served cold.
Summertime Spinach, Bacon & Quark Quiche | @rachelphipps
Speaking of trips to Tescos, a few days later while I was helping my Mother with her weekly shop I got very excited when I finally found The Lake District Dairy Co.'s Quark in both the Original, Vanilla and Lemon versions on the shelf. I'd looked for it in Sainsbury's, Tescos and Waitrose before but with not much luck; we don't seem to ever have much choice where we are out in the countryside, but as this iPhone snap shows, it should be easy to find even if you live in the middle of nowhere or only near small stores. However, as with my last two Quark recipes as it is pretty impossible to get hold of in the USA,

  • 1 Block Shortcrust Pasty (or you can make your own)
  • 500g (2 tubs) The Lake District Co. Dairy Quark
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • Large Handful of The Lake District Cheese Co. Grated Cheese
  • 1/2 Bag Spinach Leaves
  • 4 Rashers Unsmoked Streaky Bacon
  • Freshly Ground Salt & Pepper 
  • Large Pinch Ground Nutmeg (Optional)

Roll out the pastry into a round big enough to line a 20cm pie dish. Grease the dish with butter and lay the pastry circle over your dish, gently pressing it into the corners and cutting the excess off around the edge with a very sharp knife. Chill in the fridge. With the leftover scraps of pastry you can make one or two jam tarts to be baked in the oven at the same time as your quiche. Look out for an upcoming post, where I am going to be making some jam tarts to profile some absolutely delicious and totally unique tropical jams I'm having shipped to me from Bali.

Lightly beat the eggs and beat in the Quark until the whole mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and the nutmeg if you are using it, and set aside. Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees, and put a metal baking tray in to heat up with the oven. Add a splash of water to the bottom of a large saucepan and add the spinach. Stir over a medium heat until all the spinach has wilted. Set aside to cool. Using a pair of scissors cut the bacon into small pieces and fry quickly over a high heat until golden and crispy. Remove from the pan onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess fat. Squeeze the spinach out over the sink to remove any excess water and dry with kitchen paper. Evenly spread the bacon and the spinach over the bottom of the pastry case and pour the egg and Quark mixture over the top. Sprinkle the top with cheese and season again with salt and pepper. Take the baking tray out the oven (careful, it is hot) and put the quiche on it. This heat at the bottom will help prevent a soggy bottom (I'm writing this on Tuesday lunch time, so please say that soggy bottoms had already become a theme this season in last nights The Great British Bake Off!) Bake the quiche on the tray for 25 - 30 minutes, until the pastry and the cheese are golden, and the filling has set. It should be a little puffy, it will settle down as it cools to either a warm but still cuttable temperature  room temperature or fridge cold, depending on how you wish to serve it!

What are your favourite simple Summer suppers to feed either your family or a crowd? Also, have any of you tried to cook with The Lake District Dairy Co. Quark yet, or tried either the Strawberry Mousse Cake or the muffins I posed yet?

Monday, 19 August 2013

Dinner With Friends: Summer Dinner Party Notes + Ideas

Every year I cook dinner for all of my old close group of school friends (we hang out and go for meals pretty much every time we're in the same city or part of the countryside), and while I used to do it at Christmas now we're all spread over the country it is much easier for me to put together a spread for everyone at my parents house in August. I thought I'd post a few photos and recipe links and notes of what I served up on Saturday night in the conservatory (typical British weather!) here for you all to enjoy and have a nosey at.
DSC_0609 serving
The most loved dish I served up on Saturday night was the meat free option I set out; Marinated Mozzarella. My version I served up was a hybrid I put together for a dinner party table crowd working from the original recipe in the Ottolenghi book Plenty, my version of Mini Marinated Mozzarella in a Jar and the adaption food blogger Lottie + Doof came up with from the original and I used to make before I got the book.

Also, this is Ed. We've known each other since we were 13 years old, but we've only been friends since we were about 14. You see, the first year we knew each other while we were already eating our meals in the same little friendship group, he used to have to stay behind at break times in the art classroom because he was in trouble for throwing little pieces of grey kneadable eraser across the classroom at me. Boys will be boys.
This is Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za'tar and Lemon from the original Ottolenghi book. I jointed the two chickens myself using the skills I honed on Guinea Fowl at The Underground Cookery School in London. I liked the general flavour but I feel the marinate needs to be made a little richer for my tastes (maybe by adding yogurt?) the next time I try it, and I was not a fan of the breast pieces so I might just try it with the darker and more flavourful legs and thighs. It looked fantastic dressed with toasted pine nuts and flat leaf parsley, though. In the background you can see what has become a regular feature on our table, the kilner jar of our home grown cucumbers, pickled, using a recipe I found in Jamie Oliver's Jamie magazine.
Some of you will recognise the bowl of Purple Cabbage Slaw with Cucumber and Dill from my post with the recipe back in March. I felt the sharper colour and flavour would compliment everything else pretty well. There is white wine in the carafe  and I'm afraid the bread is the only thing that was not homemade on the table; I picked it up in Waitrose because life is just too short sometimes, and I think I'd already done pretty well!
This was my first stab at making a cous cous my Mother always makes for Summer spreads with toasted pine nuts, asparagus, sugar snap peas, lemon and lots of herbs. It is a Mary Berry recipe from her book Mary Berry At Home. She's not just great for baking, and for some easy to make twists on classics I'd really recommend ordering a copy, and especially trying this cous cous out yourself when feeding a crowd.
I think you all know Kathryn by now. I think in this shot she was surprised by something someone just told her. Next to her is Jeet, another one of our little long standing boarding school meal group. He's known and been best friends with Ed even longer than Kathryn and I have known each other and been friends; like the two of us did, they went to the same junior school and have known each other for simply forever. It was nice he could join us as he was unable to make it last year, but we still had a few people missing, either because they were due to arrive later in the evening (we went out for brunch and bowling on Sunday morning, Ed and I each won a game!), or because they were on the other side of the world (hi Helen!)
This partly Asian, partly Mediterranean in flavour Sweet Chili Bean Salad came from the original Ottolenghi cookbook. I really loved it and it was really simple to make, and it went down really well with the crowd. I want to try it with other types of white beans, but once I've finished playing with it and I'm totally happy with it, I'll post it up here. I am now so excited to try more salads from the book after this.
This is Elle, the latest addition to our little group. She actually writes a pretty cool lifestyle blog, too. She has not posted much yet, but if you head over there you'll see some lovely pictures of Oysters and other assorted seafood from one of my local haunts, Whitstable, some great shots of the beautiful Wells Cathedral, and some wanderlust evoking shots of her and Ed's recent holiday to Mauritius.
For dessert I served up a signature dish of both my Mother and I, a Hazelnut Meringue Gateaux with Strawberry Sauce. I'm sorry, but this is one of the few food photos that I have made myself that I won't be posting the recipe for, because this is one of our secrets that we've served up to way too many people over the years to tell anyone what our secret is! However, the dish of brownies you can see in the background that we also demolished are the most popular recipe I've ever posted here; Super Simple 3-Step Chocolate Brownies

Friday, 16 August 2013

What To Do With Bruised Peaches: Chilled Peach & Tomato Soup

I came home from doing a Waitrose shop the other day, and as my Mother and I unpacked it, I got yelled at. Personally, when given the brief of 'special offer peaches' on the shopping list, I don't think it was my fault when given a choice of reduced to £1 versions and 2 for £4 versions I got the wrong ones when there was no specification. However, I digress. While I still maintain that it was not my fault, my Mother was right when she told me that the £1 peaches were good for nothing but chopping up and cooking with. 
This is how this recipe I originally found on Food 52 by a food blogger I sometimes read Beth Kirby I thought I'd share today became a lunchtime staple for a few days; it is a perfect Summer dish to use up old, not great, or more likely bruised peaches. It serves 2 as a light lunch or a starter and the flavours can be adjusted to personal taste. It can also easily be doubled. 

  • About 3 Large Peaches of Ripe Peach Flesh
  • 4 Very Large Tomatoes, quartered 
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1 Small Shallot, finely chopped
  • Splash Olive Oil
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Thyme, tied with a bit of string
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 80ml Double Cream
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper 

Gently cook the garlic and the shallot in a little oil in a large saucepan over a low to medium heat until they are soft and translucent, but not browned as if you were frying them. This is called sweating. Add the salt, thyme, peaches and tomatoes to the pan. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes and peaches have broken down into a soup like mixture, but there are still a few chunks in it. Remove from the heat and remove the bunch of thyme. Blend until smooth in a blender, or how I like to do it for small amounts like this using a hand held blender. Sieve gently into a clean saucepan to remove any lumps, tomato skins and peach skins and fibers and return to a simmer at a low heat. Stir in the sugar, cayenne pepper and the double cream. Taste, and add more sugar if it tastes a little tart (this might be the case if the tomatoes or peaches were not totally ripe), cayenne if you want a bit more of a kick or cream if you want it silkier or creamier. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge for a couple of hours. Top with fresh basil and a dash of extra virgin olive oil to serve as a quick lunch or Summer starter. While this is a chilled soup, I find it still goes well with crusty bread. 

What are your favourite Summer recipes using peaches? 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

What To Do With Leftovers: Farmhouse Homemade Chicken Stock

Last week Waitrose's Essentials British Whole Chickens were 3 for £10, and as on Saturday the centrepiece of my Summer dinner party is going to be spiced chicken, Ottolenghi style I decided to take advantage of the offer and joint the chickens myself to produce an assortment of breast, thigh, leg and wing pieces. As a result of this I had two fresh chicken carcasses in front of me, and so not to let anything go to waste I decided to make 3 pints of overnight stock to freeze and use in Winter stocks; so much better than stock cubes. 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Recipe: Lake District Co. Quark, Oat & Apricot Breakfast Muffins

When the team at Lake District Co. sent me a hamper of ingredients and recipes so I could have a play around with their new Quark product and I made their Strawberry Mousse Cake, they also sent me the fixings for their Quark, Oat & Apricot Breakfast Muffins, which, because the recipes on my blog are supposed to be simple and the Mousse Cake was more of an intermediate recipe, I thought I'd also share with you.
One or two of these are great for breakfast warm (either straight out of the oven, they only take about 40 minutes to make for a weekend project or heated up in the microwave) served with either a big mug of tea or coffee, lots of fresh natural yogurt and as many red berries you can cram on your plate. Alternatively, eaten cold on the tube on the way to work alongside your morning Starbucks; better for you than their muffins!
My Aunt was keeping me company during my Sunday afternoon baking session so there is actually a rare Instagram shot of me baking in my Mothers beautiful kitchen. I'm actually using my new mixing bowl the guys at OXO sent over for me to try out. You can't totally see it from where the bowl is sitting on the scales because I am measuring out my sunflower oil, but the reason I love this bowl so much is the bottom is made of black rubber grip material, meaning it does not slide around when I'm mixing things in it on the granite work surface. The stainless steel also means it will be great for marinating meat, chicken and fish; perfect for the two whole chickens I will be joining and marinating to make a recipe out of the original Ottolenghi book for my annual Summer dinner party this weekend I'm starting to cook ahead for.
DSC_0583 I pretty much followed the recipe The Lake District Dairy Co. sent over for me, except I found that while the recipe was supposed to make 12 muffins, it was more like 14 and I use the biggest cupcake cases you can find, so therefore if you use smaller cases you might get even more. Also, I used chopped dried apricots in my muffins, but you can use whatever dried fruit happens to be your favourite, or a mixture. 

  • 120g Rolled Oats, plus a little extra for the topping
  • 1 250g tub The Lake District Dairy Co. Quark
  • 65ml Milk
  • 100ml Sunflower Oil
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 100g Soft Brown Sugar
  • 150g Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 150g Chopped Dried Apricots
  • 1 tsp Salt (Optional)

Sorry I have not changed the measurements in this recipe into American measures like normal, but I don't think you can easily get a hold of Quark in the USA, so this is one mainly for my British and European readers - sorry! Anyway, pre heat your oven to 180C. Stir together the milk, oats and Quark, then set aside for about 5 mins to soak. Add the egg, oil and sugar to the mix and beat well until it is all combined. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and the apricots. Also add the salt at this stage if you wish. These make the muffins slightly salty (pleasantly so) and savoury  leaving it out keeps them sweet. Personally, I'd add the salt. Fold the flour into the mixture until it is combines, but it does not matter if there are still a few flour pockets. If you don't know what folding is, I've explained the technique in my Victoria Sponge Cake recipe. Spoon equal amounts of the mixture into cupcake cases, almost but not quite to the top and sprinkle with a few more dried oats. Bake for 20 minutes until they have risen, are golden brown and you can insert either a toothpick or a cake tester into one of them, pull it out and the toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Serve warm or allow to cool before sealing in an airtight container. 

What is your favourite type of quick yet still indulgent breakfast cake, muffin or pastry?

Friday, 9 August 2013

Weekly Love: Week 140

Well, I now have somewhere to live in London come September! That is really the most exciting thing to happen to me over the past two weeks; I've literally been rushed off my feet. The only break I've had were the couple of days I spent accompanying my Aunt on her errands while she was in town, a few dinners out I've had with friends for catch ups and birthdays, and a few lunch break quick lunches out just so I could get away from the rush. I do love being busy, but honestly I can't wait for an opportunity to slow down a bit! 
weeklylove090813[1] 1. My starter of absolutely divine, melt in the mouth scallops on slices of black pudding, topped with pork belly and with a tomato jus over a fantastic catch up dinner with old school friends at Deeson's in Canterbury. | 2. The shallot harvest from the Pilgrims Nook vegetable gardens. | 3. The most popular photo I've ever uploaded to Instagram; my Dad barbecuing, British style in the pouring rain! | 4. The new Smashbox counter in my local Boots reminding me how far away I now live from Santa Monica Beach. | 5. One of my working lunch pick me ups at The Cider Works, just across the road from Pilgrims Nook. | 6. Another working lunch, this time at Tiny Tim's Tea Rooms in Canterbury. This was their 'Puffkin' which I would really recommend  a puff pastry wrapped meatloaf, topped with a poached egg and served on a bed of baked beans. The ultimate British comfort food.

One of my longer standing readers, Dizzy Tea all the way from Turkey has written a lovely post about what she's been eating recently and gave my post How I Am Not The Size Of A House: My Food & Eating Philosophy a shout out. You really should head over and check out her blog, it is full of so many fantastic snapshots. 

Staying on the topic of delicious food, I'm very excited to be able to let those of you who do not already know this that my favourite contestant from last years The Great British Bake Off (side note: who here is excited for the new series?!), James Morton is back with a new book, Brilliant Bread that is going to be released on August 29th. Honestly, I'm still mentally stuck on how awesome the passionfruit chocolate ganache truffles he made to decorate a torte (?) in one of the earlier episodes were. I'm looking forward to my copy arriving from his publishers so I can have a play around with some of the bread recipes and let you all know what I think about them, but for now as I know you've all also missed having James on your screens I thought I'd post this video of him making the delicious looking focaccia from his upcoming book. Honestly, I think the only problem with it is he is not wearing a Fair Isle jumper. 
weeklylove090813[2] 7. Sherin enjoying her 25th birthday celebrations late night at The Diner in Covent Garden. Her necklace is in case she forgets the name of the blog she has been writing for the best part of four years!  | 8. Another pick me up at Tiny Tim's, this time a hot chocolate fudge cake sundae with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. | 9. Mummy and I decided to cook something special for dinner on Tuesday night; we made pan seared venison with home grown potatoes and home grown carrots balsamic glazed using this recipe from one of my favourite food blogs, Spoon Fork Bacon. | 10. I pre-ordered The White Princess from Amazon ages ago as Philippa Gregory has been my favourite author for years, but I feel my friends and family are in a conspiracy to interrupt me whenever I sit down and try to read it! | 11. Enjoying the Strawberry Mousse Cake I made in collaboration with The Lake District Dairy Co. Quark. | 12. Watching one of my all time favourite shows (after Scandal, of course) The Newsroom.

Finally, throughout this month of August I am offering 15% off of all ad spaces and new services on Rachel Phipps. This includes my 300x250 sidebar ads, new 640x100 ad spots within these 'Weekly Love' posts. I'm now also offering the services of designing both of these blog spots for you, and I can also now design custom headers for your blog. To get your 15% off any of these ad spaces or services visit my Ad Shop, put whatever you want into your shopping cart and enter the code SUMMERSUN at the checkout.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm just spending time at home with my family this weekend, but I might start making ahead the things that are safe to stay in the freezer all week like the gateaux I'm making for my Summer Party next weekend tomorrow, and on Sunday Mummy and I are cooking Sunday lunch for my grandmother who is visiting for the day.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

French Photo Diary #6: Food Edition

It has been a year since I was last in France, so for all my readers who've joined me since then (hello!), in case you had not noticed from the France photos I've already posted, the trips across the (smaller) pond are all about food and drink for me. These are just some snapshots from some of the things I enjoyed at home, out and about, and the foodie things very local to my little corner of Brittany I happened to spot in my day to day. 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Introducing Lake District Dairy Co. Quark With A (Lower Fat) Summer Strawberry Mousse Cake Recipe

Let us rewind to Monday before last when I was sitting on a London Overground Train with my Mother after a stressful day of flat hunting. I was checking through my emails on my phone, and I saw I'd had one from Lake District Dairy Co. Quark to ask if I wanted a hamper of their Quark, along with some other ingredients and recipes so I could play around with it in my cooking. While usually I'm totally down for things like this, I was about to say no because to be honest, I've been rushed off my feet recently and the last thing I need, even if it is kitchen related is more work to do. However, the reason I said yes is because my Mother promised me she'd help me make the recipes. Therefore, everything onwards was going to be her fault. 
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Let us fast forward to a few days later at my parents house, while when we were having breakfast there was a knock on the door. I was still in my pyjamas and my Dad's phone rang, so my Mum went to get what turned out to be the courrier delivery. Now, what you have to understand is my mother is very, very small. Big things come in small packages and all that jazz. So, when this giant picnic hamper comes around the corner that is almost as big as my Mother and suitably hiding her from view, you can imagine she was very, very apologetic for the amount of work she had created for me (well, for us both now) because even she had not contemplated how big it would be! I quickly forgave her when I opened it up, however. 
Whoever packed the hamper really had thought of every single ingredient I could possibly need to make the two recipes intended; this strawberry mousse cake (it was actually meant to be a cheesecake, but we all decided a better description is a mousse cake) and healthy breakfast muffins. I had eggs, milk, baking powder, sugar, flour, fresh strawberries, everything and in a beautiful hamper I can't wait to use for picnics on the beach. I'm always down for all types of alternative breakfast foods, and the cheesecake recipe and ingredients really bailed me out as my Aunt was due to arrive and while I'd decided to make Mustard Milanese from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for dinner, I had yet to decide on a dessert. 
I'm not going to lie. This blog is mostly about food that anyone can easily achieve in their own kitchens, and while I did want to go ahead and post this recipe as I do really like it, I would only try it if you are used to baking and making your own desserts. As you can see, even me and my mother had a little trouble getting this out of its tin and onto the stand. However, if you do want to try this it is really worth it. I'm sorry, but because Quark is pretty hard to source in the USA I've only used English/ European measurements this time around. I have changed the recipe for the bistuit base a little, hopefully to make removal easier. 

  • 175g Digestive Biscuits
  • 85g Unsalted Butter
  • 225g Fresh Strawberries, plus extra for decoration
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 5 Small Gelatine Leaves
  • 500g The Lake District Dairy Co. Quark
  • 100ml Whipping Cream
  • 1 Egg White

Cover the base of a 20cm cake tin with a removable base and spring release with a ring of baking parchment. Crush the biscuits in a bowl. Melt the butter and mix it into the biscuits. Pour the biscuit mix into the tin and press down so it forms a base over the bottom of the tin. Refrigerate, then get started on the strawberry bit. Hull and quarter the strawberries, and add them to a saucepan with about 2 tbsp water and 25g of the sugar. Stir over a medium heat until the strawberries have softened. Remove from the heat, and blend into a smooth sauce in a food processor. Press back into the saucepan through a sieve to remove all of the seeds. Set on the side of the heat to stay relatively warm, but not boiling while you soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 mins. Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves and stir them one by one into the warm strawberry mixture, removed from the heat, until they have all dissolved. In a separate bowl use an electric mixer to whip the cream, the rest of the sugar and the Quark together until they are smooth. Beat in the strawberry mixture. In a third bowl use the electric mixer to beat the egg white until it stands in soft peaks. Fold the egg white into the strawberry mix. This should take about 5 minutes, so be patient with it! It may seem like it is never going to all be combined, but I promise you it will be eventually! Pour over the biscuit base and chill for at least 6 hours until the cheesecake has set, but preferably overnight. When it is time to serve, run a sharp, thin knife that you a have run under a cold tap for a few minutes around the edge of the tin to release the cheesecake, and once it is on your desired plate or stand, decorate with sliced strawberries. 

What was the last special dessert you made for yourself, your family, friends or a crowd? 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Cocktail Hour: English Summer Cooler With Earl Grey & Bloom Gin

Messing around with a small 50ml sample bottle of Bloom Gin I was given at the Harvey Nichols Christmas Press Day I managed to create something that is a very English Summer alternative to Pimms for gin drinkers. Lets just pretend that making a cocktail off of a base of lemonade and iced tea (an Arnold Palmer) is not totally American. I think the London, delicate and floral Bloom Gin, Earl Grey Tea and English strawberries save it. 
This recipe mix makes enough to make two tall glasses. I went for a traditional fruit mix, but you can use whatever fruit and citrus fruit you have to hand in the glass. However, I would always say go for strawberries, as a) they go particularly well with Bloom Gin, and b) they soak up all the flavours spectacularly. 

  • 300ml (10 oz) Cold Brewed Earl Grey Tea
  • 50ml (3 1/2 tbsp) Bloom Gin
  • 150ml (5 oz) Lemonade
  • Small handful torn mint
  • 1 inch Cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 Lemon, thinly sliced
  • Small Handful Strawberries, sliced 

This is going to sound awesome, but there is not really much to this recipe. Just mix everything above on the ingredients list into a jug and leave it in the fridge for about half an hour to infuse. Serve in tall glasses, over ice if you wish. Enjoy on a hot English Summers afternoon, and let me know what you think about it!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Recipe: A Simple Potato Salad

While there are a lot of wonderful French markets in the area of Brittany we live a couple of weeks every few months, they tend to be more heavy on fruits, cured meats and the like because almost every house you drive past in our area has its own vegetable plot; everyone brows their own produce. As a result we usually take a few bags of lettuces, cucumbers and courgettes from the Pilgrims Nook vegetable gardens down to the French house with us. This Summer we have been enjoying some fantastically delicious baby potatoes my Father grew, so to accompany some sausages and other grilled meats, as well as big slices of our own courgettes sprinkled liberally with the local Fleu de Sel I put together this quick potato salad as an accompaniment.
A Simple Potato Salad | @rachelphipps