Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Retrospective: Looking Back On 2014

My first full year of food blogging. Personally some of my best achievements, but also some of the worst times I've encountered so far over the past almost 22 years. 2014 is certainly a year I won't be forgetting in a hurry, and it was only putting this roundup together I realise how much I've managed to pack in. So, in the middle of your preparations to see 2015 in in style this evening, make yourself a nice cup of tea and join me down memory lane for a moment if you will looking back on some of my favourite moments and blog posts, recipes and restaurant reviews from the past year. I moved from London back to Canterbury, and I've been to France, Spain, Norway, Iceland and Scotland. And it's  certainly been a colourful one! 


Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas Kitchen: Classic Cheese Straws

Today I want to share with you all a lovely little recipe for festive drinks nibbles my Mother has been making for as long as I can remember, classic cheese straws made with just a hint of cayenne pepper. They’re perfect to go alongside New Years fizz (have you seen my 4 Really Good Sparkling Wines (Mostly) Under £20 feature yet?) and vanish really, really quickly. Seriously though, how easy they are to make are proportional to how fast people will eat them! On a side note, I realise my photos look a bit darker and moodier than usual; first recipe shot on my new camera, and in the French kitchen. I need to work on getting my colours back a bit!
Classic Cheese Straws #cheese #canape #snacks #party

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Kitchen: Cranberry Sauce with Cherry Brandy

So, today is the day where everyone organised in the kitchen will do doubt be already making a start on tomorrows Christmas feast. We're actually going up to our local pub for lunch later today before heading home to start preparation. My parents will be stunning our turkey crown (it seems silly having a whole bird with just the three of us) with our usual sausage stuffing, and I'll be prepping for Christmas breakfast. I was not too happy having to make waffle batter to go with our bacon and maple syrup on Christmas morning after opening our stockings last year, so I'm going to experiment with an overnight yeasted number for 2014
Homemade Cranberry Sauce with Cherry Brandy

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Kitchen: Easy Chicken Liver Pâté with Winter Slaw

I think it baffled the people I lived with how much chicken liver I ate during my final year at university. I remember in GCSE Science lessons at school everyone used to be squeamish about touching raw liver to do enzyme experiments, and I used to go around the lab to everyones benches, without gloves and wielding a scalpel to cut of the pieces they needed for the experiment. I've always loved liver as a cooking ingredient, and it can only help that a good double portion of chicken livers are often reduced to clear for under £1 in the supermarket to be stashed in the freezer for later. For those of you who are not liver fans, we'll gloss over my favourite breakfast of a bowl of gently fried livers with parsley and finely chopped shallot for the moment.
Easy Chicken Liver Pâté with Winter Slaw

Friday, 19 December 2014

Weekly Love: Week 143

I'm in that sort of mood where the holidays have made me feel like I don't want to be doing much past mixing up cocktails, Christmas shopping in Canterbury and eating. Big emphasis on the eating there. But, this is okay because it 'tis the season after all, right? If you think about it, there are only 12 days (yes, less than 2 weeks) left of 2014, so I'm making the most of the excuse to relax and indulge before 2015 dawns, and with it a whole slew of juice recipes, healthy salads, eating proper breakfasts and soups. Well, at least until February 1st. 
1. Leek, scallop and cream buckwheat galettes at my favourite local restaurant in Combourg in Northern France. | 2. Public service announcement for all of my Canterbury based readers: Pork & Co. are now selling pulled pork rolls out of a converted horse box on the High Street. | 3. Plotting festive food in the drawing room with my copy of Jamie's Comfort Food. | 4. Decorating the giant Christmas tree in the front hallway of the house. | 5. Mulled Wine and Jamie Magazine in front of the television at the French house. | 6. Curling up in front of a roaring wood fire.

Cold Winter Vegetable Asian Noodle Salad
Over in my 'Student Suppers' column this fortnight I've got two cold yet seasonal recipes that are great to stash in the fridge so you always have something fresh yet filling to eat over the festive period when you're hungry, but you really don't feel like doing much in the kitchen. My Roasted Pepper & Caramelised Red Onion Pasta is made from completely store cupboard ingredients, and my Cold Winter Vegetable Asian Noodle Salad is great to lighten up the load of all the rich and heavy food we all seem to eat this time of year. 

I've got some other stuff going on around the web too, if you fancy a look. If you are after any festive canapé ideas, I've contributed a board of nibble ideas to Pinterest's Christmas food round up this year. Over at Wozedu I've written a piece on how to start a successful blog, which has a fair bit about my own personal blogging journey in it. Finally, for all you Serial fans out there, I've written an op-ed for Wannabe Hacks about what young and aspiring journalists can learn from the hit podcast.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm looking forward to my parents heading out to collect a table from another county on Sunday (it is best if we don't ask!) so I can have the kitchen all to myself for a bit of festive cooking, and so that I can wrap their Christmas presents and pop them under the tree!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My Favourite & Most Loved Cookbooks

As we're in last minute Christmas shopping territory today, I thought I'd share with you some of my absolute favourite cookbooks which I think would also make great gifts. Also, I hope this serves as a useful little guide to what to do with the inevitable Amazon vouchers you'll be receiving on the 25th. I thought long and hard about my selection, but ended up going with my instincts. There are many great books that are not on this list: Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book for example, which I learned to bake out of and usually give as a gift, and Florence Knight's One, one of my favourite new books of recent years. 
My Favourite & Most Loved Cookbooks

Friday, 12 December 2014

4 Really Great Sparkling Wines (Mostly) Under £20

It's celebration time, and no celebration is complete without bubbles. Over the festive period I like to drink my fizz all the time, but if I were to do this with actual champagne it would get rather pricy! Unfortunately, I can't share my personal favourite unless you have access to a Brittany supermarket. It is called Opera and I buy it for about 3€ a bottle, but it proves that you don't have to spend a lot for a good sparkling wine.
4 Really Good Sparkling Wines Under £25

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Comfort Food Book Party

After seeing a few of my snaps from the party Jamie Oliver threw to celebrate his latest book Jamie's Comfort Food on Instagram, a lot of you wanted to wanted to hear a bit more about the party, so today I thought I'd share a few of the snaps I took not really to document the event, but to practice with my new camera. I apologise in advance for all the things I was too busy eating and drinking to properly photograph!
Celebration Cakes from Jamie's Comfort Food

Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas Kitchen: Ginger & Pomegranate Sandwich Cake

Can I let you in on a secret? I actually don't like some of the traditional British Christmas edibles such as Christmas pudding, most Christmas cakes, or Mince Pies (there is a reason why I posted my Mother's personal recipe last year!) Yeah, I know. But I like what I like. You'll find me in the corner by the Italian 75 cocktails and the Festive Spice Biscuits. Anyway, this Christmas for my Borough Market column I've come up with the sort of Christmas celebration cake I to actually want to eat: a Ginger & Pomegranate Sandwich Cake.
Ginger & Pomegranate Sandwich Cake

Friday, 5 December 2014

Weekly Love: Week 142

I've had an insanely busy few weeks trying to get everything done in time for my festive deadlines, but I've found the time for a bit of fun with friends, Christmas shopping and a good few festive parties in between times, too. Also, I hope you've been enjoying my festive content so far. Stay tuned, as I have so much more amazing stuff planned soon! Remember, if you still need help with your Christmas shopping, you can find my gift guide For The Total Bookworm here, For The Londoner here, For Him here and For The Total Foodie here.
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1. At Tuesday night I headed over to Recipease in Notting Hill for Jamie Oliver's book party for Jamie's Comfort Food. More party pictures to follow next week! | 2. Amazing Pulled Pork from Caboose off Brick Lane. | 3. Celebration cakes from Jamie's Comfort Food at Jamie Oliver's book party. | 4. Sharing a delicious seafood platter at The Shakespeare in Canterbury. | 5. Wandering through Leadenhall Market in The City on a deserted Sunday afternoon. It is where they filmed Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films! | 6. Duck burgers from Bad Boys Bakery at Foodies Festival London.

All Day 'Egg Dump' Quick Malaysian Salmon Curry 
A couple more festive eats for you here now from my Wozedu column. For something quick, filling and all day that uses up whatever you have leftover in your fridge click through for my All Day 'Egg Dump', or for something a bit different (and very warming!) click through for my Quick Malaysian Salmon Curry. I'd love to hear your thoughts! I hope my student recipes in my column every week have been helpful. 
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7. Decanting this years Damson Gin. You can find my method here. | 8. Simply stunning desserts and champagne at Pernod Ricard's Christmas Media Lunch. | 9. Reading in the pub with a pint of Whitstable Bay. | 10. Golden Hour over the Kentish countryside. | 11. Getting ready for my close up with Matthew, my giant 500g web exclusive Lindt bear. He makes a great gift, but hurry. There are only 494 of him left! | 12. The other weekend I was invited down to BIRD in Shoreditch to sample their new fried chicken offering. I used to live in the area; it is a great local joint with good cocktails. Personally, I can recommend the wings with gouchang glaze, and the fried chicken pieces with the unbeatable honey ginger glaze. 

Do you remember when I attended Uyen Luu's fantastic East London Vietnamese Supper Club back in the Summer? Well, the evening was in partnership with Leisure Cookers, and I've now got three recipes to share with you from the meal, with what we ate at each course. Personally, I can really recommend the soup!

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm in France right now, so I'm no doubt curled up with a good book right now, as well as eating and drinking far too much of the local goods!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: For The Total Foodie

Finally it is time for my fourth and final instalment of my Holiday Gift Guides this year, this time for The Total Foodie. I'm glad that so many of you have found them helpful! If you've still got a fair bit of Christmas shopping to do, you can click through to browse my guides For The Total Bookworm, For Him and For The Londoner. Happy shopping! (Oh, I've written another foodie gift guide this year elsewhere that should be published soon, I'll be sure to link you in when it does go live, though I'm sorry to say it is behind a paywall.)
Total Foodie Gift Guide 2014
Star Shaped Cookie Cutter: £1 / $3.35 | Vintage Ball Mason Jar: £9.95 / $18.99 (for 6) | Top With Cinnamon by Izy Hossack: £16.10 / $22.29 | Sohocello: £27 | Ottolenghi Nougat: £6.75 | Set of 4 Metal Measuring Cups: £14 | Pinot Noir Flake Salt: £4.95 | Small Wooden Neon Chopping Board: £17.47

Monday, 1 December 2014

Christmas Kitchen: Christmas Spice Cranberry & Walnut Granola

You know how back in January I said I was going to try and eat better breakfasts this year? Well, on the whole I have pretty much failed. One of my only improvements was the invention of my everyday, go to breakfast of a cubed avocado dressed in lemon juice and sea salt, and another has been the jar of homemade granola I've been trying (though I do keep on forgetting!) to keep in the larder. At least I can snack on it plain right from the jar when I have not remembered to buy more Greek Yogurt or fruit to go with it. Right?
Homemade Christmas Granola

Friday, 28 November 2014

Boopshi's Schnitzel & After Work Cocktails In Fitzrovia

In spite of the slightly insane amount of work I have to do before I leave for France this time next week, circumstances conspired for me to end up having the day off because of lots of cancellations yesterday, so I took the time to probably get into the festive swing of things. After a spot of Christmas shopping in Canterbury and lunch at The Shakespeare with my Mummy, I headed into London to play around with my new camera before dinner. I've been using the same DSLR for the past 6 years, so having a new one is very, very strange. It has Wifi, and a flip screen. It is pretty awesome, but it feels like I have someone else's camera in my hand. 
Mixing Cocktails at Simmons, Fitzrovia

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: For The Londoner

So, today for the third instalment of my holiday gift guide series (click here to read my guide For The Total Bookworm, and click here to read my guide For Him) I want to focus on some gifts that I'm sure that we'd all love, but are a little bit city specific for all you Londoners out there who read my blog. I know I'm no longer really one of you, but about 20% of you do live in the city. A little bit of number crunching for you there. Shall we get onto the presents? I totally want all of these, by the way. 
Holiday Gift Guide for The Londoner 2014
J.Crew Gift Card | Whistle & Bango Postcode Bangles: £69 | Dr. Lipp Nipple Balm For Lips: £11.50 | J.Crew Fair Isle Socks: £12.50 / $12.50 | Hotel Chocolat 6 Christmas Mess Truffles: £3.95 | J.Crew Cashmere Gloves: £68 / $68 | Liberty London Little Marlborough Print Small Tote Bag: £295 | Kate Spade 'Break The Ice' Insulated Tumbler: £19.95 / $18 | Sugar Paper Los Angeles 6 Thank You Cards: £19.95 / $20

Monday, 24 November 2014

4 Really Great Red Wines Under £10

So, this Spring when I posted my 4 Really Great White Wines Under £10 I promised you a post featuring some of my favourite everyday red wines sometime soon. Okay, it has taken me until November, but as we're all drinking reds with our dinner now, I think maybe the timing is actually perfect? This time around I've teamed up with the lovely people at Waitrose Cellar for their expertise introducing me to some new wines to mix in with my existing favourites. Stay tuned, as I'm going to try and get a Sparkling edition of this post online before New Year. (Maybe because I'm writing my deadline to myself here, I'll actually be able to keep it?!)
4 Really Great Red Wines Under £10

Friday, 21 November 2014

Weekly Love: Week 141

I know I'm probably one of the last people to the party, but if you happen to have not have read Gone Girl yet, and you have not seen the film and therefore don't know how it ends, I urge you to pick up a copy. I picked up a paperback copy in Sainsbury's last month with the intention to read it on the train, but in all honestly it was one of the best, and most surprising books I've read since leaving school over three years ago now. It is beautifully crafted with suspense and unexpected twists and turns, you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you did not at least try a few chapters. But I promise you you won't *just* be able to read a few chapters! 
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1. Luxurious orange blossom Sunday afternoon bath time with my absolutely heady & divine smelling Jo Malone Orange Blossom Candle the lovely team at House of Fraser sent me, and Philosophy's (sadly discontinued) Orange Blossom bubble bath. | 2. The first little preview from my Christmas Kitchen, look out for all the recipes I have planned both here and in my columns, starting December 1st! | 3. Burgers and local Whitstable Bay lager at The Shakespeare in Canterbury. | 4. Every year Mummy and I buy two decorations together for our family Christmas tree. Tuesday saw us making our selections in Selfridges. | 5. Chorizo, onions and spinach from the bottom of my fridge, fried up with some eggs and about to be dumped on toast by way of an impromptu lunch. | 6. Monty the penguin's relatives being totally adorable in the John Lewis windows on Oxford Street.

Homemade Chorizo Baked Beans
Just a short one this week, but before I sign off I just want to share with you a great breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner dish from my 'Student Suppers' column for Wozedu: Homemade Chorizo Baked Beans on Toast. You probably already have most of the ingredients in your cupboard anyway, and it will help fill any holes in your meal planning in the coming week!

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm splitting my time between London and Canterbury this weekend, lots planned in the weeks getting even busier leading up to Christmas!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Places To Eat In London: 108 Brasserie, Marylebone

Marylebone High Street is one of my favourite places in London. It is one of the few places in the city that still has that proper 'high street' feel (only Richmond also springs to mind), and is the home to some of my favourite shops and date night bars. Yesterday my Mummy and I were invited along to sample the lunch menu at the newly refurbished 108 Brasserie on Marylebone Lane, so we sandwiched it between cookbook browsing in Daunt Books and cookware gawking in the new Divermenti store, and a trip to the Selfridges Shoe Hall.
Roasted Yorkshire Moor Pheasant at 108 Brasserie, Marylebone

Friday, 14 November 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: For Him

I'm glad so many of you enjoyed my gift guide for The Total Bookworm. For the second instalment of this years gift guides I've decided to try something new and do a guide for all of the men in our lives. I'm terrible at buying gifts for guys, but through the practice of putting together mens gift guides for the blog I'm actually getting better! So, below I hope you'll find some slick and stylish gifts for the guys you need to shop for. Stay tuned for my guides for The Londoner and the Total Foodie (my favourite!)
For Him 2014
It's Written In The Stars Set of 3 Handkerchiefs: £24 / $40 | Hotel Chocolat Sloe Gin Truffles: £3.75 |  J.Crew Navy & Root Red Mens Pyjama Set: £95 / $95 | Don't Drink & Ride Hip Flask: £16 / $24 | Ralph Lauren Classic Lux Merino Wool Gloves: £75 / $55 | Gentlemans Hardware Shoe Shine Kit: £15 | Mulberry Leather Washbag: £295 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Cookbook Corner: Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson + Brown Sugar Cream-Cheese Ice Cream & Chocolate Coated Potato Chips

When I moved into my apartment in Los Angeles in September 2012 one of the first things I did was set up an American Amazon account and order myself The Joy The Baker Cookbook by way of a housewarming gift. I think it was actually the first cookbook I ever purchased for myself, perfect for my first grown up apartment. It has become one of my favourite baking books, crammed with recipes I turn to whenever I fancy something sweet like her Giant Cinnamon Rolls with Buttermilk Glaze (the first enriched dough I ever made, and by hand no less!), Lemon-Thyme Sugar Cookies or my absolute favourite Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson Book Review

Monday, 10 November 2014

Cocktail Hour: Blueberry-Lime-Cinnamon Vodka Smoothie Coolers

If you follow my 'It's 5 o'Clock Somewhere' board on Pinterest, you'll know that while in my own kitchen I feel much more comfortable getting creative with mixtures of wines and spirits, I love to both drink and look at pretty pictures of super fruity cocktails. Eons ago Smirnoff send me a bottle of their pretty vodka with gold flakes in that you may have seen in the supermarket to experiment with when they heard that they were my vodka of choice for mixing drinks. It just happens to be cinnamon flavoured, which I had no idea what to do with. This lead to one of my very first total cocktail experiments, and I'm very pleased with the results. 
Blueberry-Lime- Cinnamon Vodka Smoothie Coolers

Friday, 7 November 2014

Weekly Love: Week 140

I'm sorry guys, but it is officially cold here in the UK, and I don't think we're going to be seeing much different until about March/ April time. The very mild Autumn we've been having has officially come to a close, and I for one have been curling up to work in cashmere leggings and with steaming mugs of spiced apple tea. As we're all basically now trying to find ways to keep warm, I thought I'd share with you something that came across my desk this week: Uniqlo are going to be running a fun series of events for their HEATTECH range next week where they'll be giving out vouchers and samples on the ground and in store, to help us all keep warm this Winter. Scroll down to find out more, including some info about the event they're running with the Pizza Pilgrims (my recently discovered favourite pizza in London) on Monday lunchtime. 
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1. Sunday morning foodie sections of The Sunday Times with a mug of fruit tea and eggs on toast. I'm using Cranks new 'Carry On Carrot' which makes a lovely, toothsome alternative to the loaf you'd usually pick up at the supermarket to stash in the freezer. I also enjoyed their Mediterranean loaf, great toasted and spread with a little pesto. | 2. My contribution to Bonfire Night on Wednesday came by way of these Chocolate Chilli Brownies that appeared on the Borough Market blog in the second instalment of my November column. | 3. Girly Sunday lunchtime cocktails at Señor Ceviche in Soho. | 4. A little throwback to the other week when a group of us visited Laura Ashely's beautiful Elstree hotel. Click through to read the wonderful post Jaclyn put together about the afternoon. | 5. As well as my usual blog gift guides, this year I've decided to run a mini, shop-able Instagram gift guide snapshots, too. To see my picks search #instaholidaygiftguide on Instagram, and click through to see what was inside my pretty Jo Malone box! | 6. Carving out the smaller of our two disturbingly large pumpkins we grew for Halloween.

Pizza Pilgrims Uniqlo 1
Pizza Pilgrims Uniqlo Basil Pizza Pilgrims Brothers Uniqlo While it is alright for people with foodie jobs like me, who can hide in the kitchen in a cozy jumper in front of the AGA testing and developing recipes when it gets cold and miserable outside, other people don't have such luck. I first met James (left), one half of the Pizza Pilgrims in the basement of their cozy Dean Street pizzeria. I ran into him again the other week after a few meetings, standing just outside their new Kingly Court branch. So, it was not until I found out that they were acting as ambassadors for Uniqlo's HEATTECH did I realise that actually, their business started out (and still operates) from their van on the streets of London. Where it is very cold. Seriously, I really feel for all the foodie people operating out on the streets of Winter this Summer. Could you imagine Street Feast in January?

Anyway, so on Monday lunchtime Pizza Pilgrims will be parked up between 11:30am and 2:30pm on Leather Lane serving up a special edition HEATTECH pizza and dishing out HEATTECH vouchers for free items dressed up in their Uniqlo duds, so be sure to pop by for a bite to eat and to say hello.

In store, Uniqlo will be handing out free samples of their HEATTECH clothing (it is basically heat retaining fabric made into base layers like tees and vests, much cooler and thinner than the base layers you used to wear under your school sports kit and much more practical for everyday. They also do dresses and jumpers too, though) next week, so be sure to pop in to pick up a free tee to try during your lunch hour. To stay updated, be sure to check out Uniqlo's Facebook page and Twitter feed.
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7. Last Tuesday night a couple of us camped out in the deserted Miele showroom just off Oxford Street to watch The Modern Pantry's Anna Hansen and her head chef cook a couple of us dinner. The highlight of the meal was the pantry's divine wok crab, broken up and tossed in a divine Asian dressing before being put back together again for the table. | 8. So, my friend Joy's new book Homemade Decadence arrived, and god it is amazing. I've already made (and loved) her Classic Lemon Bars and her Brown Sugar-Cream Cheese Ice Cream. Look out for a full 'Cookbook Corner' review soon! | 9. Ghoulish Halloween meringues at Borough Market. | 10. So, that smaller of the epic pumpkins we grew and I carved this year? That was nothing compared to this whopper, which we blew out the tire on the wheelbarrow trying to shift it from one end of the farm to the other. So, we had to get creative! | 11. On Halloween Kathryn and I decided to try out The Ambrette in Canterbury's staggeringly good value pre-theatre menu. They have a couple of branches already across Kent, but we have the newest in Beer Cart Lane, and I remember standing in Kathy's kitchen over the Summer listening to her Mother enthusiastically wax lyrical about the tasting menu they'd sampled at the launch the night before. I was really impressed by the delicious and creative Indian food, especially in Canterbury, and we had a lovely meal. While I was not a massive fan of my dessert I would still recommend The Ambrette, and will be back to write a full review soon! | 12. Meet Waddles, the stuffed penguin I have had since Christmas Day 1998 (he was in the top of my stocking) and who joined me at my desk yesterday in honour of John Lewis's adorable Christmas advert. Basically, I was that kid growing up.

I've got a couple of new recipes up on the Borough Market blog at the moment. First, we have the Freeze Ahead Pork & Pumpkin Ragu I promised from my October column that is a great thing to stash in the freezer, take out before you leave the house in the morning and leave in the fridge, ready to heat up with some pasta for dinner in the evening. Next, inspired by Boopshi's in Fitzrovia, I've put together a really easy Schnitzel recipe (I've made it with chicken, but pork also works well. Veal is my personal favourite!) and some classic toppings. I've served it alongside a generous serving of my Perfectly Creamy Mustard Mashed Potatoes, which I explain how to make with basically no kitchen gadgets and interchangeable dairy products for leftovers.
Super Easy Meat Free Chilli
All-day Breakfast Casserole
For the students and busy young professionals among you, over this fortnight from my 'Student Suppers' column for Wozedu I've shared two meals that I loved as a student, but are also totally grown up and customisable, so I pretty much still cook them all the time. First we have my Super Easy Meat Free Chilli which was one of the first dishes I made as a student out of my BBC Good Food Easy Student Dinners book, and I've been improving and adapting ever since. I love that basically any Mexican type toppings go fantastically. Next, we have an All-day Breakfast Casserole that I found made the best, make ahead breakfast for me to throw together while I was waiting for my dinner to cook the night before using whatever was in my fridge, and bake in the morning before a long day of classes.

Finally, on a totally non-food related note this November I'm doing something crazy that I'm sure that all you wannabe novelists like me out there already know about: I'm attempting NaNoWriMo. For those of you who who are not in the know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, where those taking part attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. No pressure, then. I've completed it the only time I've ever attempted it before, in 2009, and I'm doing well so far this year. At the time of writing (yesterday afternoon) I was on 8,368 words which was right on target as of 11:59pm on Wednesday night. I usually write my 1,667 a day before I go to bed. However, for some reason this year I've agreed to make things even harder for myself by agreeing to blog my progress for Bloomsbury's Writers & Artists website every week. Click through to read the self-profile I wrote for their blog this week where I've introduced myself; it is a little different from the stuff I normally share, and has a bit more about my background as a writer. Also, reading between the lines you might be able to pick up a few more clues as to some of the bigger projects I'm working on at the moment that I keep on hinting about! Be sure to check back the Writers & Artists website on Monday for my first progress report. Are any of you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year?

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? Honestly, I have so much work to do I'm mostly just staying at home, but I've got some friends dropping in to stay, so it will be nice to have some other people to help me eat all the results from my recipe testing!

This is a sponsored post. To read my policy on sponsored posts, please click here.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: For The Total Bookworm

I'm sorry to break it to you, but now Halloween is over it is time to start really thinking about Christmas shopping. While it is still only the beginning of November, as everything festive is already out in the shops I actually started my Christmas shopping in Fenwick in Canterbury yesterday morning out on a shopping trip with my Mummy. We picked up a few stocking fillers for my Dad, and I came home all inspired to finished up the first instalment of my usual quadruple of festive gift guides for you all. So, without further ado I want to introduce you to my picks for the bookworms in your life. Stay tuned for my gift guides for the Total Foodie, The Londoner and a new one for this year, For Him. I hope this is helpful! 
Total Bookworm Gift Guide 2014
1. Hope and Greenwood Kir Royale Cocoa Dusted Truffles: £4.99 | 2. Diptyque Resine Christmas 2014 Candle: 6.5oz: £45 / 2.4oz: $34, 6.5oz: $68 | 3. Yes I'm Reading This Bookmark Set of 25: £3.95 | 4. 'Write Bestseller With' Pen: £1.50 / $2.39 | Philosophy Christmas Cookie Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath: £14 / $17 | Teapigs 15 Rhubarb & Ginger Teabags: £3.99 | The White Company Cashmere Hot Water Bottle & Cover: £60

Monday, 3 November 2014

Student Suppers: Basic Pumpkin & Coconut Soup with Toppings

Sorry to break it to you guys, but this horrid weather we're having today is pretty much sticking with us for the rest of the week. On the plus side, though, it provides us with the perfect excuse to bulk up on the warming stews and steaming bowls of soup. I'm a big believer that a pumpkin is not just for Halloween, so this morning around the madness that was the office I set a pan of a really basic and simple Pumpkin and Coconut Soup recipe I've been working on to simmer away on the AGA. I also whipped together a quick basil oil and baked the pumpkin seeds I'd have otherwise discarded in a bit of a sweet and spicy coating by way of toppings. 
Basic Pumpkin & Coconut Soup

Friday, 31 October 2014

Places To Eat In London: Roast, Borough Market

I had been feeling that a Mummy Daughter London lunch trip was long overdue, so when Roast in Borough Market asked me along to sample their lunch menu I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity for a bit of a girls day trip with some good English ingredients and white tablecloth service. I'd been wanting to eat at Roast for ages, both because I'd heard really good things, and because I always see the diners up above me in the restaurant when I'm shopping and working on my column in the market below. 
Desserts & Bubbles at Roast, Borough Market

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Recipe: How To Make Fried Green Tomatoes with Sriracha

Today I thought I'd share one of my recent food obsessions: Fried Green Tomatoes. A staple from the American South, up until this years experiment they only existed in my mind as something I'd remembered seeing on Love & Olive Oil and How Sweet It Is. They popped into my mind when we were clearing out the greenhouse of all the end of season, dying tomato plants and had lots of unripe, green fruit leftover. Through several batches I've learnt some important Fried Green Tomato lessons. Don't worry, though, if you don't grow your own tomatoes. You can find the green ones at any good farmers market, and in some supermarkets. 
How To Make Fried Green Tomatoes

Monday, 27 October 2014

Places To Eat In London: Señor Ceviche, Soho

Last week was a bit of a nightmare to be honest, so yesterday instead of working, as I pretty much do every single day of the week, I decided I needed to take the day for myself. So, after a leisurely breakfast perusing the foodie pages of The Sunday Times I hopped on the train to London to meet up with Sherin for some much needed girl time; lunch and cocktails followed by a much needed gossip fuelled shopping trip. 
Señor Ceviche, Soho

Friday, 24 October 2014

Weekly Love: Week 139 + Win Foodies Festival Christmas Tickets

Podcast listeners/ mystery lovers/ true crime fans? I've found your new addiction: Serial. From the team behind This American Life, journalist Sarah Koenig investigates the murder of high school student Hae Min Lee in Baltimore, 1999 after her disappearance after school one day, a crime for which her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed has been imprisoned for ever since, though is guilt is questioned. It is an audio documentary which is part narration, part recordings of phone conversations and the original police interview tapes of the suspects. I listened to the first few episodes all in one go the story is so fascinating, and full of unexpected turns. Something a little different for you this weekend; you can download it here
Weekly Love 241014[1]
1. Divine Devilled Kidneys and a New Etonian cocktail, solo lunching at Plum + Spilt Milk inside the Great Northern Hotel at King's Cross. Such amazing food and atmosphere, I will be going back to write a full 'Places To Eat In London' review soon. | 2. Browsing the new seasons produce between meetings at Borough Market. | 3. Lunchtime Bibimbap at Tamago in Canterbury. | 4. Catching up with some of my favourite blogger girls over afternoon tea at Laura Ashley's simply beautiful hotel in Elstree, Hartfordshire. | 5. Mini review of Stax Diner in Kingly Court off Carnaby Street solo lunching after meetings: absolutely fantastic Southern Sweet Tea in a mason jar. The Boardwalk Fries were okay, but I honestly did not enjoy the burger, in case anyone was wondering. The brioche was too dry, too much mayo, and no distinct flavour. Sorry, guys! | 6. Chowing down on Dungeness Fish Shack's Snack Shack Smoked Cod Chowder while profiling them for new British seafood website Fish on Friday. I'll be sharing all of my photos I shot to go with the article, as well as the feature itself as soon as it goes live on the blog soon.

This month over on my Borough Market column I've put together a very 'October' style meal that can be made in advance, then stashed in the freezer for whenever you want something last minute. To start, a Freeze Ahead Pork & Pumpkin Ragu that I will admit to being super proud of (stay tuned for the recipe!) Just boil pasta while the sauce heats up, and toss to serve. To follow, for National Chocolate Week I put together a No-churn Chocolate & Cardamom Ice Cream, which went through so many tests before I could get the recipe right, I'm frankly embarrassed at the amount of double cream I got through. Though, I promise that the end product is delicious, and even my Father enjoyed it; he usually hates chocolate ice cream!
Pesto & Mozzarella Baked Sweet Potato
 Finally, for the students (or time and or money strapped young professionals among you) I just want to link you over to the latest couple of recipes of mine that have gone live as part of my weekly 'Student Suppers' column over at Wozedu. Pictured above, we have a great method for mixing pesto and cheese into baked sweet potatoes for a super simple solo supper in my Pesto & Mozzarella Sweet Baked Potatoes. Also, great if you live far from campus so you can't just pop home for lunch, or you have an internship you have to rush too in the afternoons (I ate way too many meals on the District Line to Westminster my final year!) I have a suped up, store cupboard Ultimate Tuna Pasta Salad that is great on the go.
Weekly Love 241014[2]
7. Yet more new season produce at Borough Market. | 8. I can't be trusted to go to the supermarket it seems. But gin and good literature are essentials, right? | 9. Still at Borough Market, here. Lunching on my favourite Duck Confit Sandwiches. | 10. Fig & Almond Tart with (simply incredible) Chestnut & Honey Ice Cream at Plum + Spilt Milk. | 11. Speaking of chestnuts, quantifying the chestnut and walnut gathering haul from my trip to the French house at the beginning of the month in the corner of the larder. I in no way think that we went overboard. | 12. Cute and funny tote bags at West Elm's London store on Tottenham Court Road.

Finally, the guys at Foodies Festival Christmas, being held at Old Truman Brewery off Brick Lane this 28th-30th November has offered me a pair of tickets to give away to you guys on Twitter. All you have to do is RT this giveaway Tweet before midnight next Friday the 31st. Good luck!

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm going to have a quiet one at home tomorrow working on a few ongoing projects, as I have another crazy busy week backwards and forwards too and from London for meetings, events and restaurant reviews planned next week! However, I am going to try and make it into London for lunch on Sunday, because it has been simply forever since Sherin and I last had a proper 'girl date'!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Recipe: Mini Limencello Glazed Vanilla Baked Doughnuts

I'd had the tab for a mini baked doughnut pan on Amazon open on my laptop since the doughnut episode of Great British Bake Off, but honestly I've been after one for over a year; I just kept on forgetting to buy one. They're not really a thing here in the UK, you can't just walk into most bake shops and find one. I think my influence comes from the disturbing number of American baking blogs I consume on a daily basis. 
Mini Baked Vanilla Doughnuts with Limoncello Glaze and Freeze Dried Raspberries

Monday, 20 October 2014

Exploring San Sebastián & Dinner at Rekondo, La Rioja

I felt that the afternoon a group of us spent wandering the streets of San Sebastián, arguably the foodie capital of the La Rioja region, enjoying the architecture, the beach and yet more of the local tapas, before we headed back to the hotel to change before driving up into the hills for dinner at Michelin Starred Rekondo deserved its own post. If there was one place I visited in the weekend I spent in Spain last month that I'm desperate to go back to, it is San Sebastián. There was so much I did not get the chance to eat and drink.
San Sebastián, La Rioja

Friday, 17 October 2014

Cookbooks I'm Currently Craving

I've had a lot of discussions about cookbooks, the processes behind making them, and why people buy them recently, so I thought today that I'd share with you some of the cookbooks on my current wish list (it is of the Amazon variety, guilty as charged), as well as the reasons why I choose to buy the books that I covet. I've already got hundreds of cookbooks; it has got to be something special to make me want even more! 
Cookbook Wish List October 2014

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Recipe: Easy Raspberry Ganache Chocolate Brownies

The most popular recipe of all time on my blog, and the recipe I get sent the most photos of are my Super Simple 3-Step Chocolate Brownies. I've gathered that they're appeared at several Macmillan coffee mornings this year! What you probably don't know is that since the original, I've been trying to improve on the recipe. One of my earliest trials was trying to pack fresh raspberries into them, which was a gooey (and not in a good way) failure. I did not forget the dream flavour pairing however, which sparked something in my brain when a big box of their new ganache chocolate bars landed on my doorstep from the guys at Lindt.
Easy Raspberry Ganache Chocolate Brownies

Monday, 13 October 2014

Cookbook Corner: Honey & Co. Cookbook + Prawns in Orange, Tomato & Cardamom Recipe

I think I was just about the only food writer in England who did not own a copy of the Honey & Co cookbook until their wonderful publishers, Salt Yard Book Co. sent me a copy to review. I knew all about it though; I'd read all the press coverage of their publishing story, and marvelled at the massive advance they managed to get on it over dinner and drinks with my literary agent friends. But honestly, I did not think owning a copy would bring me anything new to my collection; I've got a much loved copy of Claudia Roden's The Book Of Jewish Food and all the Ottolenghi books up until Plenty More came out (I'll probably get my hands on it in my Christmas haul), for starters. I've got a lot of options to turn to when it comes to Middle Eastern food. 
Prawns with Orange, Tomato & Cardamom

Friday, 10 October 2014

Weekly Love: Week 138

I've spent the last week at the French house really unplugging from it all. The weather switched from Summer to Autumn, so I got to enjoy all of the things that make the season so lovely in rural Brittany, including long walks in the forest to gather chestnuts, and collecting up the walnuts from beneath the tree in front of our house. I also spent the week shovelling sand and mixing cement! It was a lot of hard work, but we were laying the patio (a mixture of slate and the local stone that was taken out of our massive walls to make more windows in our stone barn) in front of the house, and it is so satisfying to know I was a part of creating it.
1. Greeting the locals in Brittany. | 2. The other weekend I headed to Trafalgar Square with my friend Natasha and her photographer/ boyfriend Callum for a Malaysian cooking class with Norman Musa ahead of Malaysia night. We cooked up a storm of delicious food, and it was such a great entry to Malaysian food for me; look out for a Quick Malaysian Salmon Curry I have planned for one of my columns soon! For more photos, head over to Natasha's post. | 3. Traditional Breton savoury Galette made with buckwheat flour stuffed with creamy leeks and scallops at my favourite local in Combourg. | 4. A divine Laksa Natasha ordered for me at Malaysia Night. | 5. Gathering chestnuts in the forest. No idea what I'm going to make with them though, recipes and suggestions would be greatly appreciated; I have 2 kilos! | 6. Picking up prawns at the French fish counter. Just look at the size of those whoppers!

The Only Curry Recipe You'll Ever Need
A few more of my recipes from around the web, I just wanted to draw your attention to my new column I'm writing for the new education, student and graduate site WOZEDU. While I will still be posting the odd student recipe over here, it is the new home of my 'Student Suppers' column where, weekly, I'll be posting quick, cheap and easy student recipes. Be sure to head over there now for my Warm Honey-Mustard Chicken Pasta Salad and 'The Only Curry Recipe You'll Ever Need'. I can't wait to share the other recipes planned!
7. We seem to have done very well growing pumpkins this year! The one in the back on the left, is big enough to fit a small child inside! | 8. The simply delicious breakfast Roti Canai and Chicken Curry we made at the Malaysian cooking class. | 9. Curling up on a rainy day in France with a cup of berry tea, my favourite French food magazine, and Hotel Chocolat's new #supermilk chocolate. It is their new bar which has less sugar than dark chocolate and with a splash of milk, that makes it something in between. You only need a little to satisfy chocolate cravings, and it is unlike any chocolate I'd had before. | 10. Picking out treats at the patisserie. | 11. Prawns in Orange, Tomato and Cardamom from the Honey & Co. cookbook. Full recipe and book review to follow on Monday! | 12. Roasted duck legs with rosemary roast potatoes from Claudia Roden's Food Of Italy for Sunday roast.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm going to catch up with everything that I did not do when I had my week off, as I have a busy week ahead of travel, meetings and London adventures!