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.
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
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.