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.
Weekly Love 051214[1]
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. 
Weekly Love 051214[2]
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