2016 was a funny year, with the first half pretty much entirely spent writing and photographing recipes like crazy (more on that soon), and with the rest bouncing around between London, Canterbury and parts of France. Work (as it was for practically everyone who works in politics or current affairs) was utterly mental, so at home cooking for myself and my family was my place of sanity. 2017 is going to be an absolutely massive year for me both personally and professionally with so many big changes, so I wanted to take a moment to look back on the year that has past before we ring in the New Year at some of my favourite blog bits of 2016.
Friday, 30 December 2016
Thursday, 29 December 2016
For my final recipe for 2016, with New Years Eve coming up I decided the arrival of these simply stunning champagne coupes from The White Company (sadly they don't sell them anymore, but I'd 100% recommend getting some to enjoy at home, there are some great options here) would be the perfect excuse to share my personal recipe for the ultimate classic (and one of my wintertime favourites): the Classic Champagne Cocktail. All you need is some Cognac (or brandy if that is more your style), Angostura Bitters (even Tesco sell them these days), sugar and ice cold bubbles (preferably champagne, but I'm not going to stop you if you want to use Prosecco (you know it is just carbonated wine, right?), Cava or English sparkling wine instead!)
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
January to November are the months where we eat other peoples canapés, and December is the month when we actually go the the effort of making our own. My mother and I are hosting a massive New Years Eve party this year (I am so excited for the fireworks!) and we've put a lot of thought and planning into the party spread. Just some of the treats we'll be putting out are my Mummy's famous Classic Cheese Straws, my Easy DIY Gin & Dill Cured Salmon on a couple of bilinis, and these Honey & Worcestershire Cocktail Sauces, inspired by something my boss had me put together in his kitchen ahead of a drinks party he was hosting last year.
Monday, 26 December 2016
2016 has been the first year I have managed to keep a New Years Resolution (aside from an ill-advised Dry January one year) from January to December. I've always been ambivalent towards the concept of New Years Resolutions, never really seeing much point in them. However, last year I looked around me and saw my rapidly expanding cookbook collection, that I really did not cook from enough, and decided to challange myself to do something that would not only help me get to know my collection in a way other than reading them cover to cover, but that I also hoped would make me a better cook: throught 2016, I have cooked one brand new recipe (that I had not tried before, essentially) from a cook book every single week, without fail.
Thursday, 22 December 2016
In case you did not know, I do take reader requests, so if you're stuck for a festive Christmas Eve dessert, I'm sharing my go-to recipe for a classic chocolate yule log today, as a couple of you have asked me this year how I make mine. It is really easy to do (though it includes a bit more kitchen equipment and a few more bowls than my recipes usually go for), looks really impressive, and is usually a hit all round. It's adapted from my Christmas bible, Nigella Lawson's Feast, because her swiss roll sponge can't be improved on, but I've gone for a lighter, creamier filling, a little less chocolate in the frosting (I know, trust me!) and the obvious adult addition of brandy (but you can equally leave it out if you don't want to give it to young children, too.)
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
A little break from all things festive, before the year ends I wanted to share a few (mostly food related) snapshots from my weeks break at the French house. Mostly it was just good to get away. We spent our days reading on the upstairs sofa, watching movies in front of the fire, eating local oysters, and drinking bottles of fizz and Clementine 75 cocktails. It was also great to get out for a few walks in the quiet, frosty forest, and to visit a few of my favourite restaurants. We also stocked up on so many festive treats to bring back with us.
Monday, 19 December 2016
I've probably told this story before, but since I moved back from California every year our family has had a traditional Christmas breakfast: buttermilk waffles, slightly crispy streaky bacon, lashings of maple syrup, and copious amounts of Bucks Fizz (what you call a Mimosa if you're British!) Every year I try to tweak our breakfast to make it the best it can be. Last year, I finally nailed our waffles, and this year, I've decided we can do a little better than simply mixing a bottle of Innocent orange juice and a bottle of champagne: meet my fresh clementine twist on the classic French 75, made with a little less gin and a little more fruit juice and fizz, designed to be a little lighter especially to kick off the festivities on Christmas morning.
Friday, 16 December 2016
Even as the festive period was starting to get into the swing of things I was feeling a little blue, so I decided that high season for Cancale oysters (and other assorted local Brittany shellfish) provided the perfect excuse to take off for a week in the Brittany countryside in the stone barn my parents and I have been converting for the past decade near the coast. We watched lots of films, I read lots of books (my favourites? The Lady and the Poet if you're into late Elizabethan historical romance, and The Edible Atlas if you want to be taken on a rather mouthwatering and informative culinary tour around the world), and of course ate a lot of oysters accompanied by the requisite Christmas fizz. Oh, and I perfected my recipe for a creamy, white wine and mustard spiked mushroom sauce which we spooned over grilled veal chops in the evenings.
1. A bottle of Clairette de Die and local Cancale oysters in front of a Christmas movie on holiday in Brittany. Our favourite afternoon films from the trip? The Imitation Game (so moving) and The Rewrite (yet another Hugh Grant rom-com I did not know I needed!) | 2. Picking out a massive Christmas tree (we went for one bigger than this in the end!) Oh, and the scarf I'm wearing in this picture is basically the warmest, cosiest thing ever (and is not too expensive either). They have loads of different colours, too! | 3. Christmas lights in Canterbury. | 4. Enjoying an early Christmas present from my parents: a Brittany Blue lobster, langoustine and Cancale oyster Fruits de Mer platter in Cancale. | 5. Canterbury Cathedral at Christmas. | 6. Walking through Combourg's Monday market on the way to lunch: December is all about so many different types of cabbage (some as big as my head!), squashes, and enough leeks to feed an army.
Thursday, 15 December 2016
"Please pass the brussels sprouts" is something you'll never hear in our Christmas household. My mother loves them, but for years and years my Dad and I thought they were the root of all Christmas evil (and he still does). However, over the past year or so I have discovered how wonderful a brussels sprout can be when it is shredded and tossed in salads, seasonal slaws, or added to soups and stews. This year? I've gone down the sauté route with fresh thyme (the herb that happened to be in my fridge when I made these and worked beautifully), sweet nuggets of roasted chestnut, salty chunks of fried pancetta, a sprinkling of toasted caraway seeds, and a good few glugs of Worcestershire Sauce to brighten things up a bit.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Growing up, my Dad occasionally made a Christmas ham. I remember it sometimes being on the plate with the leftover turkey and stuffing when his family came over for Boxing Day, but a Christmas ham did not start to become a 'thing' in our house until the year I sat down and read Nigella Lawson's Feast cover to cover (yes, Nigella is my guru for all recipes Christmas!) In the week before Christmas ever since I've made her Ham in Cherry Coke with its beautiful cherry, paprika and clove glaze, but this year I found a great shortcut which will make your life a little easier if your a first time ham maker (process on paper can look a little intimidating!)
Monday, 12 December 2016
I love finding exciting new restaurants with unique, out there cuisines, so sometimes I neglect places that everyone loves, that does good, traditional dishes. For example, before I settled in for a very late lunch the other week at the branch of Hawksmoor in Knightsbridge, I could not remember the last time I had a meal at a proper steakhouse. The team at Bookatable again invited me along to try one of their Star Deals (the last one I reviewed was at Hutong up the Shard), so I decided a good steak at Hawksmoor would be just the ticket.
Friday, 9 December 2016
Before Tuesday, I had not had a really, really great burger in ages. Before catching an evening performance of This House at the Garrick Theatre (if you're at all into post-1945 modern British political theatre (it was my dissertation topic, actually) or current affairs, try to get tickets because it was a fantastic performance) - with a detour to see the twinkly Christmas lights at the Rosewood opposite - we headed down into the basement on High Holborn to a little know, hidden burger pop up you need to check out this Christmas: Haché x Holborn.
Thursday, 8 December 2016
I was listening to Nigella Lawson's Christmas podcast about preparing for people unexpectedly stopping by who need feeding over the festive period, and about taking the stress out of festive cooking the other day. It reminded me of my favourite, make-ahead dessert that can be made in many number of incarnations, and just stashed in the freezer: the ice cream terrine (or, a tub of ice cream mashed up with the things you'd usually use as toppings, before being smooshed into a loaf tin, and re-frozen ready for slicing!)
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
So now we've done the Christmas gift guides, and I've shown you all the beautiful Christmas windows in Canterbury where I was helping judge their annual competition again this year, it is time for Christmas food. I've got lots of new recipes to share with you over the next few weeks, but I thought I would run through some of my festive recipes from the past few years, to help you plan your seasonal menus over the festive period!
Monday, 5 December 2016
On Saturday I was honoured to be asked to help judge the Canterbury Christmas Windows again this year (you can see all of the windows we judged last year here), so I spent the afternoon with a cup of hot peppermint tea and a clipboard checking out the simply beautiful displays shopkeepers have put together all over the city for Christmas. There were so many fantastic entries, and there would be about 100 photos in this post if I showed them all to you, so to help you get into the festive spirit I thought I'd share a few of my favourites!
Friday, 2 December 2016
Happy December everyone! 'Tis the season for steaming cups of mulled wine in cozy London pubs (already ticked that one off of my list this week!), advent calendars, twinkly lights and The White Company's 'Winter' scented candle. My diary is already packed with festive fun (and I still need to pencil in time to go and pick out the Christmas tree, and to go and see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them!), and I already have a massive list of seasonal eats I can't wait to get into the kitchen to create. If you're looking for some seasonal inspiration, you can find all of my festive blog posts here, and you can find my festive Pinterest board here.
1. Deathly cold, but beautifully clear and sunny days walking around London. | 2. Brunching during my lunch break on Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict at Hope & Lane in Walmer. | 3. Beautiful climbing Autumn foliage, everywhere. | 4. Egg Pots and Skinny Bunny Smoothies at The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury. | 5. Neon lights at night on Canterbury High Street. | 6. Monday night supper at the Pork & Co. cafe, again in Canterbury!
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
I have a simply fantastic new spot for you for pre-Christmas drinks or dinner, or even to book ahead so you have something to look forward to in the midst of the January blues: Samarkand in Fitzrovia. This hidden, basement bar and Uzbek (!) restaurant is just around the corner from Goodge Street Station, and has an elegant (but still really cool and comfortable) feel, with fantastic service, great food (it manages to be both new and familiar, and everything we ate was mouthwatering), and imaginative cocktails.
Monday, 28 November 2016
While I am more of a cook than a baker, the one exception is bread and yeasted dough. However, the one thing I'm still a relative novice at is a sourdough starter. I've never failed at a bake using a package of yeast, but spontaneous fermentation? Where all you need to make your dough rise and to create natural yeast is flour, water and something with natural yeasts? This is something I've only just started to make work. With the help of my bread bible, James Morton's Brilliant Bread, below I've put together an easy step by step which for me has absolutely always worked to make your own starter, how to bake your first 100% homemade sourdough loaf, and some details on how you can use your starter to support a fantastic cause, too.
Friday, 25 November 2016
Last year I did most of my Christmas shopping on Black Friday and across Cyber weekend, and while I've actually got all of my gifts for this year sorted and en-route (online shopping is so much more convenient than braving the crowds and the cold), this year I thought I'd round up all of the best deals and discount codes from our favourite retailers for you all in one post to help you sort out everyones gifts. Oh, and if you need any more inspiration, be sure to check out my Bumper Christmas Gift Guide and my Pinterest gift guide. Looking at my analytics, so far the Cure Your Bacon Kit and Our Korean Kitchen have been the most popular!
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
After you all seemed to be interested to hear about my experience with one of Riverford's meal boxes, when a voucher code for a two person Marley Spoon box appeared in the goodie bag from the Observer Food Monthly Awards, I thought I'd turn these reviews into a bit of a series. I ordered a regular, meat eaters two person two recipe box, and from the seasonal recipe selection I got to choose from the week before I went for two Asian numbers: Stir-Fried Char Siu Pork Mince, and an Aubergine Katsu with Pickeled Cucumber.
Monday, 21 November 2016
It's been a while since I've had my (mini baked) doughnut pan out of the cupboard. I'd planned to do something super Autumnal (think spiced doughnuts with maple frosting and candied bacon bits, which I still plan to product at some point), but instead I got distracted by chocolate. Who would not want a wrack full of mini chocolate (or more accurately cacao: raw, un-roasted cocoa powder, and crunchy, bittersweet nibs) doughnuts with a tart glaze sitting in the kitchen for you to snack on as you walk past on a cold, dark, Autumn/ Winter afternoon? I'm all into comfort baking now before it becomes time for all out Christmas.
Friday, 18 November 2016
In London, when it comes to street food you have several options when it comes to good, traditional Neapolitan pizza cooked to order with a crisp sourdough base and pitch perfect toppings are two a penny (Fundi Pizza, Born and Raised, and Pizza Pilgrims are my personal picks), but down here in Kent there is only one gold standard: That's Amore! Pizza Co. Lucy's delicious pizzas have been on my radar for a while (as well as her fantastic Instagram feed and brilliant blog Baking You Better), so I caught up with her last month at the Canterbury Festival so I could clue you all in on my favourite place to get pizza in these parts.
Wednesday, 16 November 2016
It's that time of year again! To help you out finding festive gifts for your friends and loved ones I've trawled the web, hit the shops and made my way through an awful lot of samples (I do my best to give everything in my gift guides a personal test run), so you won't be stuck for gift ideas. I've got the usual picks under £10 which are great for stocking fillers, colleague gifts and secret santa, gifts under £25 which are great for your close friend and family, and gifts under £50 for your nearest and dearest. As usual, I've also put together a special selection for the guys in your life, and new this year, I've chosen some of my favourite cookbooks I've been using this year in case your family is anything like mine, and they are a big bit of the gift giving!
Doisy & Dam Roased Cacao Nib Vegan & Gluten Free Chocolate | Crabtree & Evelyn Rose Pineapple Hand Cream Cracker | Joules Fuzzy Long Bed Socks | Homemade Spaghetti Rolling Pin | Divine Chocolate Coins | Bronze Star Cookie Cutters | Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel Puddles | Gin & Tonic Scented Lip Balm | Origin White Truffle Honey | Monin Syrups Cocktail Set | Art Foil Thank You Cards
Monday, 14 November 2016
Last weekend was a pajama weekend, where I had the house to myself. This translated into waking up late, making myself what I wanted to cook (rather than what would best feed the family), and going back to bed with it for TV, breakfast and tea in bed. I'm not one of those people who can easily manage eating on a tray (really, I am the only person who ever eats in/ on bed, and we only eat a meal in front of the TV in the living room on Christmas Day), so my answer to breakfast in bed is always either bowl food, or something on toast.
Friday, 11 November 2016
I've got some really really stupidly exciting news for you all, but it is going to have to wait until next week. I could tell you now, but I want all the final touches to be ready before the grand unveiling. And besides, when I've waited the past 12 months to tell you all, I think I can wait another couple of days. For now, make yourself a nice mug of tea and sit down to enjoy this weeks links and photo round up, and to try and guess what on earth I'm going on about. Answers on a postcard please (or in the comments section!) Oh, and for those of you who actually know me in real life and know what I'm so excited about, please don't tell so I can be the one to give the game away! (Oh, and if you want to be the first to know, please sign up to my monthly newsletter, as I'll be sending a blast out to all my subscribers before I post anything up here!)
1. Eating the most fantastic street pizza at the Canterbury Festival from That's Amore! Pizza Co. | 2. Breakfasting on my favourite dish at The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury yet: a delicious smoky baked egg pot with sweet potato, feta and a lovely warm toasted wrap (and obviously my favourite Skinny Bunny smoothie!) | 3. Stopping to shoot the obligatory Liberty London flower display Instagram. | 4. Running around London in my favourite Nike trainers: super stylish, yet really light so they weigh barely anything in my bag if I'm slipping in and out of heels. | 5. Tucking into the delicious box of Milk Caramel Praline Sea Salt Truffles Charbonnel et Walker sent me for Bonfire Night. | 6. Christmas is coming on Deal High Street with mountains of clementines starting to pile up outside the greengrocers.
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
I don't know what it is this year, but I seem permanently cold. I'm writing this wearing cashmere leggings, an oversized jumper and bedsocks, and I'm still feeling the chill. I know the most practical way to tackle this is with lots of snuggly layers and lots of mugs of hot tea, but another is making sure I get a proper breakfast. I'm notoriously bad at eating properly on weekday mornings before I rush off to work, and I know not eating enough can make you feel colder. I somehow don't think my daily glass of vegetable juice and an avocado dressed with lemon juice and sea salt won't cut it much longer, so, inspired by lots of the breakfast grain bowls I've seen on Pinterest, I thought I'd come up with a protein heavy, make ahead bowl for busy mornings.
Monday, 7 November 2016
Last week, I grabbed my blogging partner in crime Sherin to almost perfectly replicate what used to be the first Wednesday in November when we both used to blog full time: a sweep around various press days to preview what will be in stores next Spring/ Summer, followed by a trip to The Diner in Soho for an all American table full of Diner classics. Sherin was with me when The Diner became my first ever 'Places To Eat In London' review back in 2011, so we were stupidly excited to be invited back to review their new menu. I've ended up at The Diner on dates, for weekend brunches with friends, and on both birthdays I've lived in London for, and I can wholeheartedly say that the new items on the menu can easily be categorised as 'a good thing'.
Friday, 4 November 2016
There are three particular tastes I associate with Bonfire Night: polystyrene cups (with teeth marks around the rim where I used to nibble them) of hot Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup, Cadbury's Curly Whirly bars shattered into splinters of hard caramel and milk chocolate in the cold (not shielded by my Dad's Barbour pocket) and hot dogs, both of the real sausage variety, and the type made with Frankfurters. Still one of my favourite junk foods, still the only fast food/ mystery meat item that has not come from In-N-Out I'll happily admit to eating.
Wednesday, 2 November 2016
Like burger chain French Fries and certain types of what our friends across the pond like to call 'Halloween candy', I think ramen has to be a universally loved junk food. I will admit to consuming my fair share of chicken Super Noodles as a teenager, but it was at my first year of university I discovered cheap packets of value brand ramen noodles (which shock horror, now cost 30p, I swear they use to be about 17p) could be upgraded with some fresh ingredients, scary, artificial, additive laden flavour sachet discarded.
Monday, 31 October 2016
There is something about a bag of frozen peas that open up endless Halloween related, utterly delicious dinner options. My favourite last minute Pea & Mozzarella Soup is actually adapted from the 'Slime Soup' in Nigella Lawson's fantastic book Feast (my favourite of hers, closely followed by Simply Nigella), and today I have another quick and easy pasta dish (it should only take 15-20 minutes start to finish, and you'll probably already have most of the ingredients if you keep a basil pot by the kitchen window) that is perfect to bring a bit of spooky seasonality to your weeknights: Slimy (in look, not in taste!) Pea Pesto Whole Wheat Penne.
Friday, 28 October 2016
Busy, busy, busy. What is it about Autumn proper where we're all dashed off of our feet? Perhaps it is because we're all playing catch up because we all seem to have been sick this season (get well soon if you're curled up reading this with a mug of tea, a hot water bottle feeling dreadful), but while I've had excellent fun, it feels like I can't remember the last time I had the chance to just stop and do nothing. I've tried to carve out time to sit down with some new cookbooks, but it has been rather short lived. I'm making up for it instead with a weekend of comforting and exciting Asian food: Japanese inspired mackerel from Simply Nigella last night, a trip to Thai Time this evening, I'm cooking a beef brisket stew from Our Korean Kitchen tomorrow, and then I'll make one of the Vietnamese chicken recipes in Diana Henry's brilliant chicken bible A Bird in the Hand.
1. Herding escaped sheep back into their fields on a misty Sunday morning. | 2. Pulling carrots to accompany our Slow Cooked Gin & Tomato Beef Brisket. | 3. Stunning Autumn foliage out and about on the campaign trail for local elections in Dover. | 4. Delicious (and totally spooky/ adorable) Halloween truffles from Charbonnel & Walker. | 5. Spending a lot of time in Parliament recently and marvelling at how iconic the spaces I get to pass on the way to the office are. | 6. Instagramming our achievements before we eat at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
It is well documented that I have a long held belief that the Great British Sunday Roast needs a serious upgrade. Last month to celebrate Organic September I gave the classic roast chicken an upgrade with a black bean and tomato salsa, watercress and some fajita spiced potato wedges, and now it is the turn of your Sunday beef. I'm using a piece of brisket here, one of those great cuts of beef where you get some beautiful marbling on a good quality piece of beef, there is no bone and therefore no carving to worry about, and is best cooked low and slow so you can put it in when you get up and just forget about it until it is time to eat.
Monday, 24 October 2016
One of the things about being a home cook rather than being someone classically trained, I've always got something to learn. Okay, that could be said of every cook, experienced or not, but my cookery knowledge seems a little mad. I can make a creme patissiere one handed while scrolling through Instagram at the same time, but on the other hand my fish filleting skills leave a lot to be desired. For everyone of every skill level, there are some great cookery courses and one off classes out there, and on Saturday I grabbed Sherin for our latest 'girl date' and headed over to Jamie Oliver's new cookery school in Shepherds Bush to learn how to make a North Indian Thali: something I had no idea about, and something Sherin eats at home, but has not been confident enough to attempt to make herself (she's my usual cookery class partner in crime, as a total novice!)
Friday, 21 October 2016
You know those meals you have where every single bit of food is exciting and new, and you just want to order every single thing off of the menu over and over again? There is a reason why The Palomar in Soho is the restaurant everyone is raving about at the moment, and why their cookbook is now at the top of my Autumn wish list (along with Diana Henry's Simple and Molly Yeh's Molly on the Range, obviously!) While it feels like Middle Eastern inspired food has been done half to death, The Palomar's take on modern day Jerusalem (heavy with the influences of some of my favourite Jewish cooking) is one of the best recent meals I've had in London.
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Here in Britain, I don't think we make enough out of the nibbles that go with our pre-dinner drinks. We may open a bottle of wine or mix ourselves a gin and tonic, but the accompaniment is a packet of crisps, if we're lucky, or indeed nothing at all. I'm more used to the French way of doing things, where it would be unusual not to have something a little bit special and a little bit savoury to pick at while you're enjoying a pre-dinner drink. However, I think the surprising amount of traffic my recipe for Classic Cheese Straws outside of Christmas (they're the 7th most popular recipe on my blog of all time) shows that perhaps us Brits are hankering for something a bit more special before dinner like our European counterparts.
Monday, 17 October 2016
The last week I joined the team at Pinterest UK for an evening of inspiration, bringing together some of the UK's top Pinterest tastemakers to chat about how to build a Pinterest following and how to work together with brands and affiliates to make a bit of money from your profile. I was on a panel with Amazon and Boden getting into the nitty gritty of the affiliate network/ brand/ content creator/ pinner relationship, and afterwards I promised quite a few of the people who came up to me with questions I would break down everything we talked about on the panel (as well as everything we did not get a chance to cover) in a post.
Friday, 14 October 2016
Wow it has been a busy couple of weeks! You know those times when you simply have too much to do, you can't really see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is getting so cold outside that you just want to snuggle under the duvet with a good book, cashmere bed socks and a hot mug of tea? Yeah, I don't really have time for that right now either, but can I recommend that you make a whole chicken cooked in milk with a mountain of brown rice and veggies for dinner this weekend as it is basically a hug on a plate? I know it sounds odd, but I made Diana Henry's version from A Bird in the Hand on Wednesday night and it instantly made my life better. Also, The Kitchn pulls apart, assesses and shares Jaime Oliver's cult version here.
1. Stopping to remember how truly awe-inspiring Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are as I run in and out of them for meetings. | 2. Rainbow blooms this week outside of Liberty's. | 3. A simply divine orange blossom ice cream at The Palomar in Soho - look out for a few review of our utterly delicious meal next week. | 4. Bringing all of the squash we grew that are too small to cook in from the cold to decorate the house. | 5. Lazy Sunday bath time tip: if you're throwing out an old bunch of roses, choose the best preserved rose, discard the outer petals, and the rest will still be great to scatter into your bath water. | 6. Speaking of roses, crazy that the miniature rose I was given this Summer has blooms that start out dark pink, but lighten as they open.
Wednesday, 12 October 2016
After a week solid of trying to push through the flu (I rarely get sick, so it is big for me when I do) through meetings in London, restaurant reviews and work, I finally crashed out and had to head home from work on Friday lunchtime to spend the rest of my weekend on the sofa with a hot mug of tea trying to recuperate. Thankfully, that afternoon probably the most welcome thing imaginable arrived: Riverford's collaboration meal box with delicious. Magazine, which meant I did not have to think or worry about the bright, comforting, veg heavy meals we all needed to be eating over the weekend to try and throw off our sore heads.
Monday, 10 October 2016
I've got a great new spot for you today with a lovely atmosphere, Instagram worthy interior, a killer bar and great food. If you have not already been yet, you need to get on down to Cafe Monico on Shaftesbury Avenue, recently opened by Soho House. Sometimes I like my food to be singing and dancing, packed full of new or unusual flavours, and sometimes I like to to be a 100% bang on authentic version of something else I like to eat elsewhere in the world. Cafe Monico falls into the third category of restaurants I like: somewhere comfortable and consistent, where I can rely on the food being what I've ordered, the wine is good, the cocktails are imaginative, and I'll get just as much entertainment people watching my fellow diners as talking to my date.
Friday, 7 October 2016
Usually I don't really do 'vegan' or 'sugar free' or 'gluten free'. However, when it comes to food stuffs that are usually loaded up with cheese (I can't eat most cheeses) sometimes a vegan option is how I know I'm getting a delicious favourite of a normally cheesy classic without having to worry. Nachos are usually a big one for me; I adore them, but if I'm sharing with people I usually only get to nibble at the few around the edges that have escaped the mass of melted cheese they're usually drenched in, losing out on all the other great toppings.
Monday, 3 October 2016
While most people on a lazy weekend gravitate to things like waffles and pancakes (essentially anything you can pour half a bottle of maple syrup over), I will always choose a savoury breakfast over a sweet one. My favourite breakfasts and brunches also are usually Mexican breakfasts and brunches. If you're after a big, indulgent brunch dish that it is a bit lighter than a plate full of carbs (and is dairy free), here is how I make my lighter take on Huevos Rancheros, with seeded avocado slices (inspired by brunch at KITCH in Canterbury.)
Friday, 30 September 2016
This weekend, I'm launching my new monthly newsletter full of seasonal recipes, delicious links, mini cookbook reviews, and other updates. It will land in your inboxes on the first Sunday of every month, and I've had so much fun putting together the first edition. You can sign up here (people who were on my old mailing list in 2013 might already be on there), and be sure to let me know what you think of the content, the format etc. (or tell me what you'd like to see!) by either replying directly to the email, or by sending me a tweet.
1. Smashed avocado, bacon and poached eggs for breakfast at The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury. | 2. 5 o'Clock sips with Cookie + Kate's Rosemary Gin Fizz. | 3. Weekend dippy eggs with mustard, caper and chive butter from Nadiya's Kitchen. | 4. Looking up at some of the beautiful old facades in Canterbury. | 5. £5 (!) dark pink roses to brighten up the kitchen table. | 6. Sweet, tiny (we have not had enough rain this year) blackberries in the hedgerows which we've been eating straight from the bush on our afternoon walks, or using in red wine and blackberry jellies from A Change in Appetite.
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
I woke up this morning to Autumn sunlight streaming through my bedroom window, and mist rolling over the fields. It was cool and crisp outside when I opened the kitchen door, and we had to sweep fallen leaves off of the patio table to make space for the basket when it was time to hang up the washing. Today is one of my work from home days, so to kick the day off right I decided to make Autumn in a bowl: a single serving cinnamon dutch baby pancake, topped off with quick, pan caramalised new season British Worcester apples and a spoonful of thick, rich crème fraîche, which melts a little into cream when it hits the warm pancake.
Monday, 26 September 2016
It has become a bit of a tradition that every year I sit down and give you all an update on how exactly I make money from blogging. It has been a year since I unintentionally put full time blogging on pause to take a part time job in politics, and along with the natural changes in blogging, this means that this years numbers are again very different from what we've seen in previous years. If you're simply a blog reader who is interested, or a blogger yourself looking to monetize your own sites, I hope you find this post helpful!
Friday, 23 September 2016
I think India makes some of the best vegetarian food. Usually at home when we have wraps where everything is brought to the table and we build our own for dinner we have chicken fajitas (probably our number one Saturday night family supper!) However, while you can make a veggie version fajitas are always better with meat. So, this is my new veggie go to: delicately spiced Indian-style potatoes, an easy, cooling raita, spicy slaw and a couple of handfuls of fresh mint, all wrapped inside a naan-style wrap.
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
Last year I put together a post called 'A Few Notes On Choosing Your Ingredients', where I briefly touched on the importance of knowing where our food comes from, while still cutting ourselves a bit of slack, recognising that we may not have the money or resources to source everything down to the farm gate. Also last year, I joined the team from Scotch Beef and Lamb in Edinburgh and in the Scottish Borders to learn more about good, Scotch beef. I wrote about my time in Edinburgh, and reviewed a couple of the great restaurants we ate at (Timberyard and The Scran and Scallie) at the time, but I have been meaning to revisit my trip to discuss the importance of where we source what we put on our plates in a bit more detail.
Monday, 19 September 2016
The weather this weekend may have finally turned from Summer to Autumn, but I'm still enjoying a few warmer weather ingredients in the sort of transitional dish that would be equally as well suited to a crisp glass of rose on a sunny day, or a rainy weeknight with a light glass of red wine. I love fritters and latkes in all forms: in the height of Summer I make them with Mediterranean vegetables and Indian spices, for brunch I make them with smoked salmon with a lemon and caper soured cream, and in this video I walk you through making them with Autumnal root vegetables. These are inspired by one of my favourite dishes in Jerusalem.
Friday, 16 September 2016
If you're one for subtitles, I need to share with you probably the best thing I have seen on television at least this year: The Outlaws. Flemish language with subtitles (called Clan in Belgium), it follows four sisters who are plotting to kill their brother-in-law, who they all call 'the prick' with good reason. The drama starts at his funeral, and in flash backs you never quite know until the end how he died, or indeed who actually killed him. It's a black comedy that had us all waiting for it to come on every week. I promise you won't regret pre-ordering or renting it to binge watch. Another summer TV love of mine that has just finished and is also a bit niche, is BrainDead. Another drama comedy from the creators of The Good Wife, bugs are taking over Washington D.C. and eating politicians brains. It offers some frankly hilarious alternative explanations for some of the things going on in American politics right now. Donald Trump, anyone?
1. Pretty pink roses to brighten things up a little. | 2. Fresh Mint Straccia Gelato at Gelupo on Cambridge Circus. | 3. Fondant brownie, salted caramel ice cream and a glass of Tattinger at The Compasses Inn in Crundale. | 4. Baking a Blueberry Clafoutis from Nadiya's Kitchen. She was kind enough to send me a signed copy, and every recipe I have tried from it so far has both been delicious, and has worked perfectly. | 5. Quenching the Indian Summer with classic St. Germain cocktails: 2 parts champagne, 1 1/2 parts St. Germain and 2 parts soda water over ice with a lemon wheel. | 6. Pesto scrambled eggs and sweet potato cakes for breakfast at The Skinny Kitchen in Canterbury.
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
It is not often I forgive a restaurant that has taken over the building of one of my since closed favourites. Bao's second bricks-and-mortar outpost in Fitzrovia had to be fantastic for me to not mind too much that my go-to schnitzel-and-spritz joint Boopshi's had closed. Thankfully, it was. Literally every single piece of food we put in our mouths was bang on point, and I even ordered a second plate of the raw langoustines, just for me. It absolutely lived up to AA Gill's glowing review last month, which was the reason I went in the first place.
Monday, 12 September 2016
Pasta is my ultimate comfort food. When its late and I'm cooking just for me, a bowlful with a bit of pesto from the jar, or a sauce that does not involve another pan that takes less time than the pasta takes to cook is pretty much always my go-to. As we're picking up the tail end of the tomato season here, today I thought I'd share with you a delicious, cheap, and actually quite light tagliatelle dish that you can get on the table in around 20 minutes. Ditch the parmesan and use a free-from pasta, and you can feed this to vegans, too.