Monday, 30 September 2013

September on Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California

I am really homesick for Los Angeles right now. I know this may seem strange. I am British. I live in England and France. I've been back to the countryside and to France this Summer, and now I'm back in my favourite city in the entire world; London. 'Home' is just a train ride away. 'Homesick' seems like a strange statement for how badly I've been craving the sunshine of the Golden State, Santa Monica Beach, West Hollywood and my old Westside apartment, but it is true. In 8 years at boarding school, and while I was living out in LA I never got homesick, once. True, there were some things that annoyed me about living in America and I did miss home, but I never felt that nagging feeling of missing a place I felt so totally comfortable in. But actually, I've started describing Los Angeles as my second city, because it is true. I'm not the same person I was when, all by myself I got on that flight from heathrow to LAX and was met at the other end by the complete strangers I was going to be living with, and I know that LA is somewhere I'm never going to be able to quite let go of. 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Places To Eat In Canterbury: The Shakespeare

The problem with moving across the pond and away from your hometown for almost a year is that things look very, very different when you come back. It used to disconcert me when I stayed in London for an entire month and came back to Canterbury, the place I will always call home for a few days and found one of my favourite shops and restaurants had closed or changed hands. However, one good thing since I've been gone in Canterbury is while I've lost one of my favourite lunch spots, The Hutch by Mint Yard Gate of Canterbury Cathedral which has now closed, so many new and exciting eateries have opened for me now to sample when I'm in town. 
the shakespeare seafood platter

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Student Suppers for Jamie's Money Saving Meals: One Pot Leftover Sausage & Prawn Jambalaya #savewithjamie

Hands up here who has been watching Jamie Oliver's latest show, Jamie's Money Saving Meals? While usually I watch cookery shows that are not The Great British Bake Off several months after they have aired (I'm currently working my way through Gordon Ramsey's Ultimate Cookery Course and Jamie's 15 Minute Meals from last year, and over Christmas I watched about 4 different series of Nigella). However, I have been sure to keep up with over the past few weeks Money Saving Meals, because it is just the sort of cooking that I love; cheap, simple and totally delicious. So, when someone from Team Jamie got in touch with me wondering if I wanted to to something rice related (something that is so cheap and can be so delicious, and is so often relegated to just a side dish rather than a meal in itself) as part of my Student Suppers series and to help promote Money Saving Meals, I knew it was the perfect excuse to finish off a one pot rice recipe I've been working on for months. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Cookbook Review: James Morton's Brilliant Bread (My New Bread Bible) + Anywhere Mug Bread Recipe

About three hours after the copy of Great British Bake Off season 3 finalist James Morton's first book Brilliant Bread that his publishers were kind enough to send me arrived, I had already opened it to the first recipe, a basic white loaf and started weighing out my flour. I know I was already stupidly excited by this book (while some people are cooks, some people are cake makers, I'm a bread girl. I love yeast, and I'm still thinking about the chocolate ganache passion fruit truffles James made on the show last year), even for me this is a record. Usually I like to read a book cover to cover before I set to choosing what I'm going to make from it, but for the first time in simply ages we had a massive problem in our house. We'd forgotten to prepare anything for supper, and due to the rain storm and general tiredness no one fancied leaving the house.  
Anywhere Mug Bread #bread #baking #recipe

Friday, 20 September 2013

Weekly Love: Week 143

I've had a funny kitchen situation over the past two weeks, and I've baked (and eaten) an awful lot of bread and cake. Cake was just, well, because, but as for the bread, I've turned a corner. My discovery that you don't have to actually knead dough to make a basic loaf of bread (more about that on Monday) coupled with catching a television clip of how supermarket bread is actually made, I can't even stomach buying the stuff anymore. So, from now on the only bread I'm going to eat I will have made myself or purchased from an artisan baker. The only exception I can think of this at the moment is ciabatta because you can usually get it for about £1 in Waitrose and I have not reached the skill level to make it myself yet. However, I wish to even phase that out sometime in the future, and I am very, very excited about it. I have become bread baking obsessed.
weeklylove200913 1. The beginning of Autumn means a glut of Victoria plums from the tree. | 2. Making guacamole for the first time with the wonderful and lovely Rachel Green. I was really supposed to be testing out the new pestle and mortar from Cole & Mason, and I can tell you they are awesome, and fantastic value for money. One of those things in the kitchen you did not know you needed until you get one. | 3. Meeting my bread hero James Morton (and also the lovely John Whaite who was behind the camera for this one). If anyone proves that it is actually easy to cook, bake and eat well as a university student, it is these two. I'm reviewing James' (fantastic) new book Brilliant Bread at the moment, so look out for it on Monday. | 4. A nice view of the City from the platform at Hoxton station. | 5. Rachel Green made this simply divine black pepper and orange cake. It needs replicating. So happy she gave me the recipe. | 6. A simply fantastic lunch platter at The Shakespeare, a new pub in Canterbury. Look out for my review of that next week, too. | 7. Sunset over the City of London and the Shard in the distance from the window of my new kitchen. | 8. The plums in the first picture went into this plum and almond loaf cake I made from the current issue of Waitrose magazine. I love that it is a fantastic food magazine free with a Waitrose card (which is also free). You also get free tea and coffee, and a weekend paper with one. | 9. East London goldfish graffiti.

What have you been doing this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? It is my first weekend in London since about April 2012, but I think I'm going to spend most of it at home getting ahead on reading for my classes that start on Monday, but I am going to try to squeeze a brunch or two in, too! 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Recipe: Breaded Prawns with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

I started working on this recipe in my kitchen in Los Angeles, and finished it up at my parents house in Kent; it has become a firm favourite of my Fathers. Initially the idea was to use up everything I had left over in my Los Angeles kitchen. I'd purchased a bag of big frozen prawns to make a Jambalaya, and they'd been sitting in my freezer. A traditional British Pub prawn cocktail salad had happened one night, but there were still plenty left. I always have eggs, then there were a lot of dried breadcrumbs that needed dispatching. A bottle of Sweet Chilli sauce from Trader Joe's for a Beef Thai Noodle Salad I'd still perfecting was in the fridge, so this great slightly Asian style starter that is so easy to make was born, and then perfected to create this recipe. 
Breaded Prawns with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce | @rachelphipps

  • 1 Pack Large Uncooked Prawns (Shrimps, you Americans!)
  • Fine Dried Breadcrumbs or (my favourite) Jewish Traditional Matzo Meal 
  • Mild Chilli Powder
  • 1 Large Egg
  • Groundnut Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce (I don't have a preference in the UK but for my American based readers who are lucky enough to have their stores in their state, Trader Joe's every time!)

Pour enough breadcrumbs to coat about half the centimetre of the bottom of a plate onto said small plate and mix with a couple of big pinches of chilli powder, so the powder is noticeably colouring the breadcrumbs. Set aside. Beat the egg in another small plate with a fork until combined. Individually dip each prawn in egg, then coat in the chilli breadcrumb mix and set aside. I find it makes it easier to use one hand for egg and one hand for breadcrumbs. 

In a large, deep frying pan pour enough of an equal mix of ground nut and sunflower oils to cover the bottom with about half a centimeter of oil. Other flavourless, or mild olive oils work for this too, but I've found because of the varying smoking points of the mix of the two oils, this combination works best. Heat until the oil shimmers. Very carefully lower the prawns, one by one into the oil. Depending on how many prawns you have or the size of your pan, you can cook them in batches. Turn over after about two minutes, or until the bottom size of the breadcrumbs are golden. Using a slatted spoon or tongs carefully turn each prawn over and fry until the underside is golden. Remove from the pan with the same implement and drain away excess cooking oil on a plate covered in a couple of sheets of kitchen towel. Serve hot and with  Sweet Chilli Sauce.

As well as a starter for a two to three people to share, I find these work great on salads to add protein and a bit of interest to a meal, or ready skewers onto cocktail sticks as part of a wider selection of canap├ęs. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Recipe: A Simple & Delicious Bolognese Sauce

As September is actually Organic Month, today I want to talk about organic food. Now, when I was younger I used to be one of those people who was absolutely obsessed with having everything organic, but I have since realised it is about buying organic wisely. Choosing organic where you otherwise can't be sure of the province and contents of your food. Organic tomatoes? If you are getting your tomatoes from a farmers market, where you know they've been grown on a good farm and not picked too early or coloured up with chemicals, they've simply just grown the things, I don't think you need to be worrying about buying organic or not. Tinned beans or tomatoes where they use god knows what in the canning process? I'm always happier to spend a few pennies more so I know what I am eating. It's savvy food shopping, really. 
The team at Sainsbury's, in celebration of Organic Month sent me a box of different products from their So Organic range to play about with, and the moment I lifted a pack of their spaghetti and a tin of tomatoes out of the box I suddenly started craving spaghetti bolognese. Yes, I know real Italians only eat the meat sauce with tagliatelle, but this is what I grew up with, so this is how I am going to enjoy it, on this occasion at least!

This recipe serves about 4 to 6 people (but it freezes beautifully), and is adapted from a classic recipe by Prue Leith. Usually when i say adapted I mean I've paired it down to serve less people, I've adjusted the ingredients to make them cheaper or easier to find, or to match my flavour preference. However, as this is a family classic in our house by adapted I mean we started off working from the original recipe, and either because we have not had something at the time or we've adapted a step by accident, or we've been trying to use something up, this version you see before you has materialised. You can use either smoked or streaky bacon, or even pancetta (we used whatever is to hand), and either beef or veal mince. Beef is usually our go to, but I've actually used veal in the picture. It makes for a much richer flavour.

  • Splash Olive Oil
  • 1 Large White Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 2 Large Carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 Celery Stalk, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 100g (4oz) Bacon, streaky if you have it, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 Pack (700g/ 2 lb) Beef or Veal Mince
  • Freshly Ground Salt & Black Pepper
  • 150ml (1/4 pint) Beef, Chicken or Vegetable Stock (about 1 stock cube)
  • 400g (14 oz) Sainsbury's So Organic Tinned Tomatoes 
  • 1 heaped tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 200ml (7 fl oz) Red Wine 
  • Pinch Golden Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Dried Oregano
  • Sainsbury's So Organic Spaghetti, to serve 

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and gently fry the finely chopped vegetables, garlic and bacon for about five minutes until golden and softened. Add the mince and break up with a mixing spoon. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the meat is browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock, tomatoes, wine, tomato puree, sugar and oregano and stir until everything is combined. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. While your sauce is on this final simmer, cook your spaghetti as per the packets instructions in salted water. Enjoy! 

What are some family classics in your homes you grew up with (I'm hoping to put a few more of the dishes I grew up with here on the blog this Autumn), and do you make an effort to buy organic goods? 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Places To Eat In London: Baileys Chocolat Luxe Bar Chocolat Pop Up Bar & Restaurant, September 11th - 16th

Believe it or not, because as regular readers will have realised by now I simply adore eating out, up until now I've never actually eaten in a pop up restaurant. It is not that I have not wanted to, but my schedule usually just does not allow for it. However, I'm at a loose end for a few days in London before I go back to Kent for a week while I move into my new London flat, so when the lovely team running the PR for Baileys invited me along to the preview of Bar Chocolat, a new pop up restaurant designed around their new Baileys Chocolat Luxe drink I decided it would be a good time to take the plunge and try a different eating experience for once. 
As 'Places To Eat In London' posts with a difference seem to be in Vogue this month on this blog, I'm not going to fully review everything I experienced at Bar Chocolat on Wednesday afternoon, because I think that would be giving the game away for those of you who decide to visit. Instead, I'm going to share a few details of the meal that I particularly enjoyed and I think are worth visiting for, but then keep some surprises back so you can still have the full experience either if you book for lunch, dinner or just visit the bar. 
Before you reach the bar you're met with a chocolate and chocolate flavoured exhibition space where you can taste cubes of different chocolate flavour combinations from chocolatier Amelia Rope and stylist Petra Storrs. I'd look out for the ginger flavour, and the rose. I have a pile of them on my best that is rapidly depleting. In the next two rooms you'll meet two rather different food meets science and food meets 17th century Dutch Art installations by Bompas & Parr and Tabitha Denholm respectively. 
photo bar chocolat desserts bailey's chocolat
You'll note that I did not really describe the pictures I've posted above of the main course and the dessert; I think they are things you have to experience for yourself. There was nothing wrong with the food; it was all perfectly executed and I have one or two flavour ideas I've taken away from the meal (there are pickled radishes somewhere in my future), but there was nothing that blew me away about it. It was simply just well executed in the kitchen, and it was the experience I'd really recommend Bar Chocolat for, and I don't want to give the game away. But I promise you, I was at a foodie event the day after and I was describing the food theatre to them all, and I was asked several times where to get tickets.

Finally, just a little note on the Baileys. I've never been much of a fan of drinking Baileys straight, but the beautiful chocolate flavour really made it the perfect sweet to finish the meal off with. I'd call it the perfect chocoholic after dinner drink. Alternatively, if you are like me and you really like the taste, but you're not really big on the idea of drinking a glass of it straight, serve a shot or two of it over (preferably homemade) vanilla ice cream for an indulgent dessert. 

Bar Chocolat is open at Mercer Street Studios just off of Long Acre in Covent Garden until 16th September (though it is closed on the 15th) and you can visit the bar for free (though you still need to get a ticket online), lunch (£17.50) or dinner (£25.00). Baileys Chocolat Luxe, which I really enjoyed and I would recommend to Bailey's fans is available in Harvey Nichols now, and most other places Baileys is sold in October. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Cocktail Hour: The Classic White Peach Bellini

I decided to make this traditional Bellini while driving to Waitrose after picking up a bottle of White Peach Puree in the Marks & Spencer Food Hall. It was my first time in M&S Food since getting back from America, and I was so surprised by all different types of cooking ingredients, especially for Asian food you can now get in there. Anyway, so when I got home and went to write this recipe into my Editorial Calendar I started asking myself if it was actually a Bellini, or was it more of a Mimosa? Because I had been in America, it is a long time since I've ordered something a little bit stronger with my brunch so I had to look it up. So, as well as teaching you how to make a traditional Bellini, this post is going to teach you the history of the Bellini, and the difference between a Bellini and a Mimosa! Two for the price of one really.
So first the difference between a Bellini and a Mimosa. Both are drinks made with a form of sparkling white wine and fruit, and served in tall champagne glasses. A Mimosa is traditionally made with citrus juice, though traditionally with orange juice. A Bellini on the other hand is made with peach puree. The Bellini was invented in Harry's Bar in Venice between the 1930's and the 1940's, and is named after the artist Giovanni Bellini. It is traditional to use white peach puree, and Prosecco as the sparkling wine of choice, as the flavour of French champagne does not match up as well. Note though it does still work with French versions as I've used a French Brut sparkling wine we buy near our house in France and we drink in my family in abundance (only a couple of Euros a bottle), but note my white peach puree was also French in origin.

The ratio is simple. Two to one. 2 parts champagne and 1 part peach puree. Serve straight away, or if you are doing these ahead of guests arriving, make sure you stir the peach sediment up out of the bottom of the glass with an ice cream spoon. Enjoy, and look out for a few more 'classic' cocktails on the blog over the next few months or so, alongside some more of my own new experiments and creations. 

Monday, 9 September 2013

Places To Eat In London: A Smartphone Photography Masterclass at Peruvian Restaurant Lima London, Fitzrovia

Last Monday myself and about 15 other food writers, photographers and bloggers were invited along by the wonderful team at Sauce Communications to Lima London, a wonderfully modern Peruvian restaurant in Fitzrovia, just a stones throw away from Tottenham Court Road tube station. The occasion was a masterclass in smartphone food photography from food photographer David Griffen, and of course to sample all of the delicious food. I was excited about the prospect of this dinner all weekend; obviously for the photography, but because I had absolutely no idea what Peruvian would entail. This is going to be a bit of a 'Places To Eat In London' post with a difference; for start, all the shots were taken on my iPhone, and I'll be throwing in a few restaurant smartphone photography tips as I go along and through the dishes. 
Lima Seabass

Friday, 6 September 2013

Weekly Love: Week 142

I'm moving back to London next week, but it pretty much feels like I'm back already; I've been up and down on the train so much! As you can tell from most of the pictures in this edition of Weekly Love, they were mostly taken in London, and mostly in Notting Hill. I'm actually moving to East London, but I can't help but enjoy spending time in my favourite neighbourhood. I have a list of places to eat in London I want to go and try, then hopefully review for the blog that is over 100 places long (and I'm not joking!) and I'm really excited to finally have the chance to catch up with all the people I have yet to see since loving back from Los Angeles in the city, and to be able to enjoy some of my favourite haunts once more. See you soon, (again), London! 
1. Checking out the new releases from skincare brand REN over end of Summer mocktails at Aubaine. | 2. A simply delicious late lunch at Jamie Oliver's Union Jacks. | 3. You know Natasha from the wonderful fashion blog Girl In The Lens? I attended the launch of her first ever teen fiction novel on Tuesday night, congratulations sweetheart! You can get a copy of The Elites which came out yesterday on Amazon. | 4. A light supper in Victoria from Wagamamas. | 5. My train snack the other day courtesy of the guys at Cadbury's. My pronouncement? the new Cadbury's Dairy Milk Pebbles are very, very more-ish! | 6. Pretty pastel houses in Notting Hill.

7. My first trip to one of my all time favourite dessert spots, Ottolenghi's in Notting Hill in over a year. It had been way, way too long. | 8. Cinnamon and Walnut buns for family Sunday afternoon tea fresh out of the oven, adapted from The Joy The Baker Cookbook. | 9. Skewers ready for barbecuing; chicken livers wrapped in smokey bacon on with onions and sage. | 10. Spying pretty pastel meringues in Jamie Oliver's Recipease by Notting Hill Gate tube station. | 11. The awesome decor in Union Jacks. | 12. Colouring my hair back to its usual red(ish) state after all the bleaching done by the Southern Californian sun.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend?

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Gift Guide: Back To University Essentials

In about two weeks time I'm about to start my third and final year at university, and over the next couple of days I'm due to move into my third set of student digs since I left school in the Summer of 2011. After all, the whole food aspect of this blog started with my 'Student Suppers' column, shot with terribly lit and styled photos in my student halls shared kitchen, I thought I'd mark the last time I'd be able to write a 'back to university' post from an actual students perspective by putting together a gift guide, either for friends or family of incoming students, or existing students to treat themselves from with some treats and essentials for both their rooms and kitchens be they/ you be moving into halls for the first time, or a new flat. 

Lets start in the kitchen; always, in my view the most important room in any house. Here we have a few of my ultimate kitchen essentials; plastic containers for freezing or refrigerating spare portions, vegetable peelers (I'm a disaster trying to do it with a knife) and those small, cheap metal mini whisks which I've been using in the kitchen forever and are perfect for anything except for beating panna cotta mix to scrambled eggs. However, the two items here I own in some guise or another and I could not live without are my Cath Kidston apron which my parents gave me for Christmas which helps me keep my clothes clean (I'm a messy chef!) and a hand held blender. This is great for making small portions of soups, sauces and even smoothies. Mine is by Kenwood, but I think these Breville coloured ones are adorable, and a must have. 

Now, some other bits and pieces. Lets start with the few big ticket, investment pieces on this list. I love this fox print tuck box, and while you think it is an investment it will last you forever. I still use my bright pink tuck box I got when I started my second boarding school age 13 in my flat and it is great for cute storage, and packing your flat up when it is time to move into new halls. The Cath Kidston Eiderdown and Joules rug also look steep, but they'll last forever, be much loved in Winter and will also move with you from place to place. In other news, I think I need this set of Joules towels in my life, and I actually use Noble Isle soaps in my own bathrooms in the Rhubarb Rhubarb! scent, both at home and in all the cottages at Pilgrims Nook. They are a fantastic, unique, best of British range with such and amazing ethos. 

What are your university, student or first time flat or apartment essentials that you would recommend to other Rachel Phipps readers?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Recipe: Easy 3 Ingredient Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

I'm not joking when I tell you that while I've been slowly working through it, about a week ago my fridge suddenly filled up with over 3kg of Greek Yogurt. The lovely team at Total (Fage for my American readers) sent me an email a while back to see if I'd like to try some of their yogurt. Now, Total 0% has been a staple of mine since forever, but I said I'd still be happy to cook something up with whatever they ended up sending me. 
Now, aside from the sheer mass of yogurt, the main excitement in my house at the moment is duo of new kitchen gadgets my Mother and I got for our birthdays from Cuisinart. In my corner we have the Cuisinart Waffle Iron which I love, but I still have not perfected a recipe for, and Mummy's Cuisinart Professional Ice Cream & Gelato Maker which we've been churning vanilla, strawberry and lemon vodka flavoured creations out of all Summer. As my only 100% solo effort with it, however, had been the Strawberry, Basil & Black Pepper ice cream out of the What Katie Ate book when I saw the mass of yogurt my mind instantly jumped to Froyo. This recipe is super delicious, simple and full of flavour. It is an adaption of Emma Gardner's Strawberry Froyo recipe, which in turn owes homage to David Lebovitz's Strawberry Froyo.

  • 300g (10.5oz) Frozen Blueberries, defrosted
  • 180g (6.5oz) Total Full Fat Greek Yogurt 
  • 80g (3 oz) White Caster Sugar 

In a medium bowl use the back of a spoon or a fork to break up the blueberries a bit so all the skins are at least broken. Stir together the blueberries and the sugar and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Press the blueberries through a sieve into a clean bowl pressing only gently; you should leave the skins, pulp and most of the skins behind and just leave the juice and perhaps a couple of seeds. Stir the juice and sugar mixture into the yogurt until it is all combined. Freeze as per the instructions on your ice cream maker. Enjoy!