Friday, 29 December 2017

Retrospective: Looking Back on 2017

Wow what a year! 2017 has been a crazy one, and as per blog tradition I sat down on Boxing Day to put together a rundown of my favourite blog posts and memories of 2017. I love doing this as it gives me the opportunity to look back on the year that has passed (not just by doing my tax returns!), but I also think it is great for those of you who only found my blog this year to catch up on some highlights you may have missed. If you've got some time at home over the post-Christmas, pre-New Year quiet period and you fancy going on an even deeper dive into my archives, you can find my 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012 posts here.
January 2017January

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Christmas Kitchen: Chocolate, Cherry & Cognac New Years Cake

As many of you probably know, cake baking is not really my thing. I can do loaf cakes that (mostly) come out cooked through without soggy middles, and if someone asks me to bake a cake, I can pretty much, 99% guarantee it will be some flavour variation on the classic Victoria Sponge. I'm a cook, not a baker. I do flavours, not sugar work. So, you'll be really pleased to hear that this fun, festive New Years Eve countdown cake flavoured with chocolate, cherry and cognac can be mastered by even the most nervous bakers, and really is just an idiot-proof, decorated Victoria Sponge, inspired by my childhood birthday cakes.
Chocolate, Cherry and Cognac New Years Clock Cake #newyear #newyearseve #cake #baking #party #chocolate #cherry #cognac

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Christmas Kitchen: Candy Cane Peppermint Brownies

After getting loads of work done in the pub on Sunday, I found it really hard to motivate myself on Monday. Most of my living space is full of boxes at the moment and I find it really hard to work in a mess, so to make myself feel like I was working I made Christmas brownies. A twist on my classic Super Simple 3-Step Chocolate Brownie recipe, they're inspired by the Christmas I spent living in America where peppermint chocolate flavour is up there with mulled wine and cinnamon for festive flavours, and where I made my way through an insane number of boxes of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows (someone send me a box?) 
Christmas Candy Cane Peppermint Brownies #christmas #brownies #baking #candycane #peppermint

Monday, 18 December 2017

French Photo Diary #11: Lunch at Auberge de la Cour Verte

Last week to finish off our annual pre-Christmas trip to France my parents and I decided to go somewhere a bit different for food. In spite of having our Brittany barn conversion for over 10 years we've not really explored more of the less 'everyday' restaurants yet, so for a little treat we decided to book ourselves into somewhere my mother had had bookmarked for a while: Auberge de la Cour Verte in Dol de Bretagne, a member of Les Toques Fran├žaises and Association Fran├žaise de Maitres Restaurateurs (always marks of somewhere special to eat in France), hidden away in a traditional stone house on the outskirts of the town.
Salmon with Citrus Fromage Frais at Auberge de la Cour Verte #france #brittany

Friday, 15 December 2017

Weekly Love: Week 212

Why is it that I may finally see some snow this morning (having missed the last round of white while I spent a lovely and relaxing week in France eating, drinking, reading, watching films and playing Monopoly - more on that in a few upcoming blog posts) when it might be the least convenient? I'm back to London this afternoon, and the last thing I need is the wrong type of snow on the train tracks so I don't make it all the way to St. Pancras! Not least because when I finally get there I'll be switching advent calendars (I have two this year!) and I'll have 15 days worth of Cadbury Heroes chocolate to enjoy in front of the television tonight! 
Weekly Love 15.11.17
1.  Mummy/ Daughter pizzas at Chapter Canterbury. | 2. Judging the 2017 Canterbury Christmas Windows. | 3. A bottle of wine by the fire at my favourite creperie in Brittany. | 4. Beautiful Christmas lights in Canterbury. | 5. Langoustines for lunch at the simply flawless Auberge de la Cour Verte in Dol de Bretagne, Brittany. | 6. Daddy made one of my favourite and his speciality in France, Hot King Prawns in Garlic Butter (click here for his recipe!)

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Christmas Kitchen: Organic Salmon Terrine with Gin & Tonic Jelly

Just how food magazines seem to enjoy telling us we'll have lots of unexpected festive visitors stop by over the Christmas period you'll have to feed and water at the last minute, I guarantee you that if you pick up any issue from any year you will be prompted to make some sort of festive pate or terrine either for a festive starter, or for seasonal lunching. I love this idea, and as I've already shared my go-to recipe for chicken liver pate, this Christmas I've teamed up once again with the Organic Trade Board and their Feed Your Happy campaign to bring you my super simple Salmon Terrine finished with a homemade organic Gin & Tonic Jelly.
Salmon Terrine with Gin and Tonic Jelly #christmas #salmon #terrine #gin

Monday, 11 December 2017

Places To Eat In Canterbury: Chapter Sourdough Pizzeria

A little break from Christmas shopping today, I want to tell you about a great pizza place that opened a few months ago in Canterbury that I spied while I was judging this years Christmas windows, and which provided the perfect gift hunting rest stop the other week. Chapter is a sourdough pizzeria on Burgate serving up great value, authentic pizzas, a few classics like lasagna (baked in the pizza oven) and a good cocktail list at their bar - at the moment they've got great crocks of mulled wine and cider sitting up on the counter. It would be a great place to go for dinner, but they've also got a brilliant value lunch menu where you can get a pizza and a starter or dessert (I wish we'd not been too full to try the chocolate orange mousse) for just £10!
Chapter Sourdough Pizzeria, Canterbury #pizza #canterbury #sourdough

Friday, 8 December 2017

Christmas Kitchen: Parmesan & Paprika Cocktail Stars

After my famous chocolate brownies, my most popular recipe of all time is this Classic Cheese Straws recipe. This tells that around this time of year with your cocktails (may I recommend a Pomegranate & Rosemary Spritz, a Clementine 75 or a Classic Champagne Cocktail?) is something light, slightly cheesy, slightly spicy and made of pastry? So, I thought this year I'd share a festive nibble that is even easier to make, can be made out of a sheet of ready rolled puff pastry and that will only take less than half an hour from start to finish.
Parmesan and Paprika Cocktail Stars #christmas #newyear #canape

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Christmas Kitchen: Pomegranate & Rosemary Spritz

So, today I thought I'd kick off a month of recipes for your Christmas kitchen with a light, fruity cocktail that is perfect to sip while you're getting the tree up (if you've not put it up already!) or you're wrapping presents (they'd go perfectly with a batch of my famous Classic Cheese Straws!) It works great for just the two of you or to make up a pitcher for a party crowd - you can keep the rosemary syrup in a sealed jar in the fridge so you can whip them up at short notice throughout the festive period. I always puzzle at magazine and recipe tips indicating something is suitable for last minute holiday guests, because I think in 24 years I've never had any (who just turns up at someones home unannounced?) but I've asked around and apparently they are a thing! 
Appletiser Pomegranate & Rosemary Spritz #christmas #cocktail #pomegranate | @rachelphipps

Monday, 4 December 2017

Judging Canterbury's Christmas Windows 2017

On Saturday I was honoured to be asked back for the third year to help judge Canterbury's Christmas Windows (you can see the windows in 2015 and 2016 here). It is always my favourite way to kick off the festive season, and I'm always so excited to share my photos from the afternoon with you all to kick off Christmas content here on the blog. Just a note about this years post: I can't share hundreds of photos with you all here, as much as I would like to, so I've had to be a bit ruthless of who gets included in my roundup. With the exception of Fenwick (which is not really one), and Lakeland and Waterstones (which were some of my favourite windows this year) I've not included any chains in my roundup. But, rest assured over four hours we came round to judge and appreciate every one of the 80+ shops that entered this year before we decamped for mulled wine!
Ortwin Thyssen Christmas Windows, Canterbury #christmas

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Weekly Love: Week 211

Happy December everyone! I don't know about you but I'm super excited to get into the festive spirit. I may have an obscene amount of Cadbury advent calendars to my name this year (thanks Cadbury press office!), and we'll be switching out our diffusers for The White Company's Winter scent later today, but I'm a little miffed that I've yet to enjoy some mulled wine. Hopefully I'll get my first cup to warm me through after the third annual judging of the Canterbury Christmas Windows which I'm honoured to have been invited back to be on the panel for this afternoon. Wandering the city looking at festive displays has become my favourite way to kick off the season. Of course I'll be taking plenty of photos on the way round which I will be sharing first thing next week so you can vote on your favourites - you can see my 2015 and 2016 posts here.
Weekly Love 01.12.17
1. Arguably London's best Christmas lights this year on Carnaby Street. | 2. Fish sharing platter and chips at The Shakespeare during a Mummy/ Rachel Christmas shopping trip in Canterbury. | 3. Visiting the new Boden brick and mortar store on Sloane Square. | 4. Enjoying spreadable goats cheese, crackers and English Provender relishes (in their pretty new look jars) for lunch. #ad | 5. All aboard the Hogwarts Express on the Harry Potter Studio Tour. | 6. Fantastic Franca Manca pizzas in Kilburn.