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