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 SeƱor 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!

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