Foody Friday: Breakfast Brample Muffins

 

3

 

I love a breakfast muffin….there’s something rather naughty yet wholesome about yumming up a fruity cake first thing in the morning. It’s also a really nice thing to bake up for a late weekend breakfast, and I made these for us last weekend for just that. We had a number of apples from the garden still to use up, plus a load of brambles we’d foraged whilst walking the dogs, and I wanted to use them together in something other than a crumble or pie. They’re a splendid way to make use of these seasonal ingredients, and you can always freeze a few ready to yum up on another weekend (without the work involved!).

 

1

 

Ingredients (enough to make about 18 to 20 muffins) :

  • 300g apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 150g bramble berries or blackberries
  • 2 tbspn Stevia or caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 120g golden caster sugar
  • 200ml milk
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 150g butter
  • 450g plain flour
  • 3 tspn baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tspn cinnamon

How to make them:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 c / Gas mark 6
  2. Line a muffin tray with muffin cases and lightly oil inside each one
  3. Pop your diced apple into a large saucepan, pour over the Stevia and cover with water
  4. Bring to the boil then add the blackberries
  5. Stir everything around gently and keep on the heat for a further minute, then remove from the heat and drain
  6. Mix together your eggs, sugar, milk, syrup and butter in a large bowl
  7. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, then mix well
  8. Stir in the drained fruit gently
  9. Carefully spoon the mixture into the cases, not quite filling them to the top (allowing the mixture room to rise)
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, and remove once golden on top and a cocktail stick comes out clean
  11. Place on a wire rack to cool a little, then serve warm and gooey!

Enjoy!

Ems x

2

About these ads

Something from the weekend…..cakes, walks and rummaging

It was a close call, but the rain didn’t dampen my weekend….

On Saturday morning I pootled around the house, cleaning and tidying whilst Adam walked the hound….Friday hadn’t gone as planned so it was good to catch up a little. Then after a nice big brunch (Adam poached some very yummy duck eggs for us!) we made our way into London, leaving the pooch with his Grandma Liz (that’s Adam’s Mum!).

We made our way to friends’ Richard and Tara’s flat in Farringdon, Tara and I leaving the boys to get up to mischief whilst we headed into town for our friend Brigitte’s hen do! First of all we took in a lovely afternoon tea at a hotel on the Strand, then went bowling at the fun All Stars Lanes, before we had a big dinner together. We didn’t go in for the traditional Hen stuff (L-plates and penis straws etc!), but chose instead to honour the occasion by all wearing fascinators in light of the fact that the Bride and Groom have requested no-one wears hats to the wedding!

As the pup had a sleepover at his Grandma’s, Adam and I managed to get a nice lie in before we went to pick him up. Then after a late breakfast, we took a turn around the Sunday car boot sale at the Market, then went along to the second Great Hitchin Rummage Sale at Bar Ab nearby. Lots of local shops had taken up a pitch there, in what is sort of a one-day pop-up shop….and some of our favourites were there to tempt us with the rummagy loot….Jolly Brown and Red Eyed Dove had a stack of goregous vintage treasures, whilst Mamacita’s Cakery (new to us) were selling a table full of dreamy looking sweet treats. We picked up several of the latter’s offerings, then made our way home to yum them up!

Because there are so many cupcakes and such being sold on similar stalls at the moment, it takes a lot to impress us….we’ve really only tried one stall’s cakes and been truly wowed (how we miss Flavour Town at Old Spitalfields now that we’ve moved!). However, the amazing yums by Mamacita’s Cakery really did impress us, and we scoffed a Dulce de Leche cupcake, a Mexican wedding biscuit and a ‘bronze’ biscuit (each) in close succession! Definitely will be trying more of their treats!

To walk off the gluttony, we took the hound to the common for a nice jaunt, then went back to Adam’s Mum’s for a dinner of fajitas, followed by some of her amazing freshly baked scones (with clotted cream obviously!).

Back at home we had a relaxed evening on the sofa. I finished off a little drawing project for a competition (Oasis’ new butterfly collection cover photo) and then had the customary early night!

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….in Instagram

We’ve had a lovely relaxing weekend up in Hitchin with Adam’s parents. We did all the usual things….. Slobbing about with the dogs, browsing the market and a couple of car boot sales, spending time in the garden, and eating lots! There was also plenty of wine, catching up with friends, and getting to watch the lovely James Christie perform at Corks wine bar (he is amazing!).

It’s been a photo-heavy weekend, at least for my iPhone…. we took our cameras with us but hardly used them because it was so rainy. Anyway, I thought I’d share my weekend using the many snaps I took……

20120715-165832.jpg

For my 30th Birthday present, Adam’s Mum gave me a flower press…..she has held onto it for now though so that she can fill it with flowers from her garden…..

20120715-165845.jpg

……so when we arrived on Friday evening I spent a good while carefully taking out the ones that she had already pressed, and collecting new ones to press…..

20120715-165858.jpg

…..there are lots!…..

20120715-165910.jpg

….I’m planning to use them to create little pretty scenes and to decorate cards and things

20120715-165946.jpg

Newton was up for a relaxing weekend too…..he likes to rest his head on things…. including my foot!

20120715-170008.jpg

It was super rainy on Saturday, so we didn’t go to the car boot sales we’d planned to……. instead we headed into Letchworth for a browse of the little antique and craft shops along The Wynd.

20120715-170056.jpg

I loved this pretty sensory garden in Letchworth….. the planting is beautiful and there is a big tree mural made from bits and bobs!

20120715-170144.jpg

On Saturday evening we met up with some friends at Corks wine bar in town, to see James Christie play…… he’d already performed at Rhythms of The World that day, but performed wonderfully despite probably being shattered…. his own songs are really quite catchy, and we loved his version of Bon Iver’s Re: Stacks

20120715-170158.jpg

The town was full of traffic cones as we wandered home, to help control things during the Rhythms of the World music festival……

20120715-170323.jpg

…..the bunting is still up from the Queen’s visit last month and still looks super festive

20120715-170209.jpg

It was very wet out after the day’s pounding rain…..it made everything really shiny in the night time street light

20120715-170223.jpg

I seemed to have gotten a bit snap happy on the way home….perhaps a bit tipsy!

20120715-170345.jpg

One good thing about the rain…..everywhere looks so lush and healthy….. this was the garden from the sun room first thing on Sunday morning

20120715-170404.jpg

Hedges however, does not see a bright side to the rain at all!

20120715-170450.jpg

After Sunday breakfast, we took a walk through the town….. the weather was such a stark contrast to Saturday!

20120715-170459.jpg

It was almost as though we were in the middle of Summer!

20120715-170508.jpg

Heading over to the football ground for the weekly car boot sale there, we wandered over the common and past the open air swimming baths….. I’ve never seen it from this side before and Adam hasn’t for years…. he was flooded with memories of his childhood!

20120715-170516.jpg

This was me taking a snap of the sun and blue sky, to prove that we did get some this summer!

20120715-170525.jpg

It was even sunny enough to play around with our shadows on the grass!

20120715-170548.jpg

The first car boot sale of the day….. out next to the football club

20120715-170556.jpg

We walked through town back via Waitrose to get supplies…. this cobweb and graffiti was in the car park

20120715-173029.jpg

The second car boot of the day was in an even prettier location….. every Sunday there is a car boot sale at the market….. it extends round the corner too, in front of the pretty St Mary’s Church. I got lots of treasure…. stamps….. an old wooden box to use for my stall….. a mug with my initials / the Queen’s on….. and lots of cakes!

20120715-173021.jpg

We spotted these curious objects on one stall….. on the left is a shoe carrier, and on the right a campaign camp bed, both originally used by an officer in the first World War. Amazing!

20120715-173036.jpg

For lunch, we treated ourselves to a selection of cakes from Daisy Cakes….. this one was the delicious Parma Violet cupcake, but also yummy were the Viennese whirl and the rocky road!

20120715-173101.jpg

After lunch, I spent a little time in the garden, which just looks amazing after all the rain!

20120715-173111.jpg

I adore Forget Me Nots…. I have pressed some and hope to use them in some resin jewellery

20120715-173134.jpg

Fuchsias are one of my all time favourite flowers…. when I was little I used to think they were little ballerina costumes for fairies! Well, they could be!

20120715-173142.jpg

Adam’s Mum has loads of different fuchsias which all look amazing at the moment

20120715-173150.jpg

I’ve tried pressing some, although they may be too big to come out well…..we’ll see!

20120715-173158.jpg

The big frilly poppies are just amazing!

20120715-173213.jpg

I don’t know what these are but they are just lovely! They are sort of spiky and sort of fluffy all at the same time!

20120715-173222.jpg

The lobelia are everywhere, and are so delicate and colourful

The afternoon was mainly spent packing away the treasures to bring home, and watching Summer Holiday… I’ve not seen it for years and it really is a perfect Sunday afternoon flick!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, and managed to avoid too much rain!

Ems x

Something from the weekend….. Sunday ‘Fashionista’ afternoon Pret-A-Portea at The Berkeley

20120625-141224.jpg

First round….. yummy sandwiches with the crusts cut off

On Sunday it was time for my final birthday treat….. after a nice long lie in (boy I needed it after the Saturday!) and slobbing about watching a few episodes of The Wire, we made our way to Knightsbridge for a very special afternoon tea. I’ve been wanting to go to the Pret-A-Portea at The Berkeley for years, ever since I heard about it in fact. No ordinary afternoon tea, their ‘Fashionista’ version of the traditional occasion draws inspiration from each season’s couture collections, creating incredible and stunning biscuits, fancies and meringues to match the trending colours, shapes and patterns.

After arriving to the gorgeous Berkeley reception, we were taken through the Caramel Room to our lovely window table. I was delighted to find a neon pink shoe with my name on to reserve the table for us, as well as all the beautiful Paul Smith China laid out ready. I went for the Couture Champagne Menu (when in Rome) and was poured a generous glass of Laurent Perrier Rose to start, whilst Adam went for the caramel and pear tea. Then before long we were served the first round of our tea…. a long plate of delicious sandwiches, including smoked salmon and cream cheese, Coronation chicken, cucumber and a tiny egg roll. All the fillings were perfect, as were the yummy breads (including a sun blushed tomato bread and a miniature oaty roll).

Next up came a large tea stand full of beautiful canapes and fancies….. we’d hardly dug into these when we were brought fresh plates of more sandwiches and then the canapes and fancies were replenished throughout too! The canapes included tiny teardrop spoons of crab, salmon, beef and feta, as well as a shot glass of a yummy cucumber and mint cold soup. I’ve had soooo many canapes in my time and these really were some of the best.

The sweet stuff is really where it’s at though. Having finished my Cham I was served the white peony tea (a new favourite of mine) which went beautifully with all the treats left to try….. Perhaps the most stunning was the Jason Wu romantic cherry bavarois with coconut cream, topped with a playful pink skirt and biscuit heel….. I also loved the clever take on Fendi’s nautical stripes in the form of a red and white striped vanilla cake filled with fraise des bois cremeux and topped with an over-sized yellow button…..

And because I’m such a girl, the two chocolate fancies were amongst my favourites…. Gucci’s Art Deco Grand Marnier and dark Valrhona chocolate mousse embellished with golden popping candy is absolutely divine….. and the homage to Michael Kors’ signature leopard print made with Grand Marnier was just scrummy! The most impressive to look at were the light blue Dolce and Gabbana blueberry sponge cake wicker basket, the Miu Miu vanilla bikini biscuit and the wonderful Christian Louboutin neon yellow chocolate biscuit…. but my favourite I think was the clever take on Mulberry’s summer at the seaside catwalk theme, with a tall shot glass of white chocolate creme de menthe and raspberry mousse topped with a lemon meringue, all perfectly emulating the sugar sweet tones of a maxi dress I adore.

20120625-141244.jpg

Very fancy fancies, inspired by Jason Wu, Mulberry, Fendi, Miu Miu, Michael Kors and Gucci

20120625-141233.jpg

Laurent Perrier Rose and the stunning Paul Smith china

I think we did rather well at eating the plates and plates of goodies brought to us…. it genuinely is a case of quality AND quantity! We did finally give up, a good couple of hours after arriving…. it is certainly a lovely way to while away an entire afternoon and is one of the most luxurious and indulgent experiences I’ve enjoyed. It didn’t stop there though, as our lovely waiter boxed up the fancies we couldn’t manage in a fabulous neon pink box, so I carried home the second of two very classy doggy bags that weekend! Quite the breakfast the morning after!

I can’t recommend this experience enough…. even Adam (who isn’t as trend crazy as me, and certainly wouldn’t usually opt for an afternoon tea) thoroughly enjoyed himself, and I left feeling utterly spoiled! It’s £39 for the Pret-A-Portea, £49 for the Champagne version, and £55 for the Couture Champagne menu which includes a glass of Laurent Perrier Rose. I think it’s superb value, compared to lots of more traditional afternoon tea, and especially as everything is replenished as much as you like and there’s no competition in terms of style. We booked a good few months ago, so be prepared to wait…… it is well worth it though even for someone as impatient as me!

20120625-141257.jpg

Menu inspiration card for Pret-A-Portea SS/12….. a super cute doggy bag and a show with my name on it!

Something from the weekend…… My first stall at a craft fair!

Wow! That was tiring! Friday feels like weeks ago already! I had the most brilliant weekend, mainly because of my first ever stall at a craft fair……

Friday evening was mainly spent readying for the F.U.S.S Craft Market, for which I’d booked a table to sell some of my stuff. I decided I wanted to take a good range of everything I’ve made, and managed to finish off my Narnia jam jar scene just in time. I have been wanting to try out some new things too, but the week just ran away with me…. but I did manage to make a prototype for my map jewellery on Friday evening, whilst chilling out ready for the busy day ahead!

Crafting tiny coat hangers for my Narnia jam jar

Hand Made 'Tibet' vintage map necklace, by me

It was an early start on Saturday morning…. our journey down to Hither Green (in South East London, where I lived for many years) was somewhat hampered by a complete lack of tubes (despite our being within 5 minutes walk of four different lines!), and DLR. Even the bus we wanted to take to London Bridge was on diversion, so we had to struggle there with our bags and boxes on foot. Still, we made it to the little village hall in good time and I managed to choose a nice table right at the front.

I’d been planning out my stall layout on the dining table, so it was mainly a case of un-packing all my stock and the various bits and bobs from the house I’d brought along to help display them…… lots of my old books became stands for my many vintage button rings…. my smaller glass cloche hosted a little scene of my beaded flower jewellery….. our low candelabra was used to hang my Day of the Dead jewellery….. and one of my cake stands became a place to riffle through the little stacking rings and vintage button brooches I’d made. All in all I was quite pleased with my eclectic collection of treasures, and I was soon complimented on my presentation by kind stall holders and the first few shoppers to arrive!

My stall at the F.U.S.S Craft Market

I found out about the market from an old school friend who lives in the area and volunteers for the F.U.S.S group. F.U.S.S are a community group who work hard hosting fairs and dances to raise money to improve the area. The craft market was held to raise funds for their planting project, and the group managed to get some wonderful press coverage to boost attendance. And there were surely plenty of people that came! We met so many lovely local people, and a few from further afield (thanks for coming south of the river Kate and Jason!), and so a huge part of our enjoyment of the day was chatting to people. I got some great feedback on my stuff too, and gave out lots of business cards as well as selling eighteen items! I was so pleased that people like my things, and it was a real boost to see peoples’ reactions (and of course to make some money for my efforts too!).

There were lots of brilliant stalls there, with more hand made jewellery, prints, vintage treasures, clothing and pottery……my  favourite would have to be the wonderful Matin Lapin stall though, which was run by my friend Vixie and co-hosted by the lovely Alex with her Animal Cafe cards. Vixie’s stall was the one I wanted the most things from, and because I’m a very lucky girl, Adam treated me to one of her creations….. a hot air balloon brooch, in brilliant bright colours… I am now wearing it on a chain as a pendant but I love that I can pin it to a blouse too.

Hot Air Balloon brooch (worn as pendant), by Matin Lapin

'it aint ALL bad...' hand drawn and painted greeting card by Alex at Animal Cafe

The volunteers from F.U.S.S also ran a marvelous refreshments stall, with tea, yummy cakes and delicious home made soups for sale. The lovely ladies even came around taking our orders, so we enjoyed plenty of cups of tea to keep us going, as well as pea and mint soup, ginger cake and fruit cake. And the gluttony didn’t stop there, because my friend Emma (Never Eat Wobbly Jelly) had made some amazing flapjacks which we devoured too!

We left on such a high, having had so many positive comments and lovely chats! I have already received a commission from someone I met at the market as well as some more feedback on Twitter, and I’ve been invited to another fair too! Adam had a brilliant time as well, so it was nice to celebrate the high with him and know that he’ll be up for helping me at future fairs. And I definitely want to do more!

We celebrated that evening with a bottle of fizz (we are experimenting with sweet Prosecco as the drier kind doesn’t agree with Adam) and a Chinese take out, both of which I feel we deserved after our hard day’s work! We snuggled up on the sofa to watch Avatar (which looks ace on Blu-ray!) but soon after that had finished we were beat and crawled off to bed to fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows!

We’d planned a trip to the supermarket and the cinema on the Sunday, but seeing the lovely blue sky outside we decided we wanted to have an adventure out and about. So we marched off to Brick Lane after our lunch of take away left overs, to discover some new markets to treasure hunt at. We wandered about for ages and found some brilliant stalls…. I came home with stacks of old sheet music, some slightly creepy porcelain dolls, a bulk lot of match boxes and loads of old books…. including another copy of the awesome Pears Encyclopaedia which I use to paint onto. I can’t believe my luck!

Treasures found at the Sunday markets

For supper, we feasted on smoked haddock with creamy mashed potato and buttered asparagus, before settling down to watch another episode of The Wire (starting to get into it now!). We spent some time talking through more ideas for things I can make, and I started on some little drawings, and then we were ready for a well deserved early night!

Very successful weekend all in all!

How was yours?

Ems x

Something from the weekend…. An Easter Egg Hunt, lots of yums and plenty of relaxing

What glorious weather for the weekend! I trust you all managed to enjoy it? I certainly did! Here’s how……

It was a quiet night in for us on Friday, with a big fry up supper (the rather shoddy home-made tofu Laksa I’d made the night before had us hankering for something simpler and less healthy!). Apart from cooking and eating, the evening was mainly spent slobbing in front of the TV.  I started the first season on True Blood, which I’m really quite liking other than for Anna Paquin, whom I’ve never liked watching. Still, she seems to be in it a lot so I will have to get over that!

We were up and out at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning, after a quick breakfast of some yummy new coconut yoghurt Adam bought for me. We’d decided we really must go out on The Big Egg Hunt, and it was the perfect day for wandering about town in the warm, snapping photos with the gorgeous blue sky as a backdrop. We took the bus into Covent Garden, and there began our hunt…..

20120326-093619.jpg

Before we’d found any eggs at all, we popped into the London Transport Museum’s shop for a quick browse. It really does have some brilliant gift ideas and some lovely things for the home. After that, we walked through the covered market where we began to find our first few eggs….. a lovely white one covered in sculpted flowers….. a bug furry one covered in brown muppet-like hair….. and this fun and bright one covered in cutesy characters were some of my favourites.

20120326-093644.jpg

Having found all the eggs we could in Covent Garden, we decided to walk towards Soho for some lunch before moving on up to Carnaby Street where there were more eggs to find. On the way, we found that the London Graphic Centre were having a yard sale, from which I picked up some bargainous brushes and great bits for model making…. and back up at Seven Dials we came across this wonderful bead stall where I bought some treasures for my jewellery making.

20120326-093710.jpg

From there we walked down Shaftesbury Avenue to Old Compton Street and stopped off at the wonderful Maoz for their amazing falafel…. for £5.80 you get a yummy pitta filled with falafel, hummus and fried aubergine, plus Belgian fries, a drink, and as much salad as you can manage. Stuffed, we walked through Soho to Carnaby Street for more egg hunting, and then back down to Piccadilly where we failed to find any at all. Still, that part of our adventure wasn’t completely fruitless, as Adam found an amazing Gelateria called Scoop, where we sampled what is probably the best gelato we’ve had in this country…. He chose the Cioccolato Bianco (with cocoa butter and farm fresh raw milk), the Pistacchio (with superior pistachios from Bronte, Sicily) and the Cioccolato Extra Fondente (actually a sorbet, with a blend of Gran Cru extra bitter cocoa). All were incredible, especially considering the latter is dairy free! Next time I think I will try the  Tiramisu’ (with genuine Italian mascarpone cheese, espresso made from single origin coffee beans, acacia honey and Marsala wine from Sicily) and Green Tea (with Matcha from Kyoto).

And speaking of Matcha, I chose bubble tea over gelato for my pudding…. Bubbleology is a must-visit for me when in Soho, and so it was a large Matcha tea with tapioca pearls for me which I guzzled as we walked down Piccadilly on our way to Green Park. I never can pass that way without a quick peak into the Burlington Arcade, and there we happened across another three eggs too (as well as a chance to snoop the windows of the lovely jewellery shops)!

20120326-093719.jpg

By the time we got to Green Park, we were ready for a sit in the sun, rubbing our very full tummies! By then it was warm enough that I could sit without my cardi, exposing my milk white shoulders for the first time this year! The park was full of picnickers and sun bathers, and we also saw our first shirtless man of the season (what is it with that?! it wasn’t THAT warm!).

20120326-093744.jpg

From there we wandered across into St James’s park, where dozens of blossom trees were in bloom, and where all the birds and squirrels were busying about, full of the joys of Spring. We found a few more eggs there as we walked around the pretty lake, before we headed to the end of the Mall and found there the National Police Memorial. Stunningly lit in the afternoon sun, the impressive glass wall is set within a shallow pond which makes it a very peaceful and elegant memorial.

20120326-093859.jpg

20120326-093916.jpg

Having found what were to be our last to eggs of the day, we crossed over to Trafalgar Square to see the new fourth plinth sculpture. ‘Powerless Structures Fig. 101’ by Elmgreen and Dragset is a sculpture of a boy astride a rocking horse…… “We wanted to create a public sculpture which, rather than dealing with topics of victory or defeat, honours the everyday battles of growing up.”

20120326-093947.jpg

And then it was time to head home as we snagged the front seats on the Routemaster! Rather weary from our long day’s wandering, we stopped in at the pub for a half (mine was the lovely Hightgate Bee-Zone honey beer) and at the shop to pick up a light supper. Of chocolate.

The rest of the evening was spent on more lounging, whilst we uploaded our photos from the day. I’ve counted about 31 eggs we found….not bad for one day, but there are still about 170 we’ve not found!

20120326-094006.jpg

We’d decided that Sunday would be a restful day, and so we only ventured out to Waitrose for the week’s supplies. A lot of this ended up being cake as we couldn’t resist the many cheesecakes, gateaux and muffins at the patisserie counter, as well as some more of the wonderful Heston’s Earl Grey and Mandarin hot cross buns! We rewarded ourselves for our shopping trip with a pot of Earl Grey alongside some of our cakes, whilst settling down to the cross word and Sudoku.

20120326-094031.jpg

20120326-094037.jpg

20120326-094043.jpg

It was only a light supper we fancied after our cakes and slouching about, so I made up some fresh salsa to go with some buttered red-skin potatoes and flash fried tuna. It was certainly one of the most delicious suppers I’ve made of late…. the super fresh line-caught tuna was gorgeous cooked very rare and with a little soy sauce.

After that, we settled down to watch Super8, which Adam has just bought on Blur-ay. We’d not seen it since the cinema and so were really excited to watch it again. I absolutely love the retro setting, the awesome music, and the touching story. You must see it if you haven’t already.

And by the time the film had finished we were very much ready for bed….. and so it was a lovely early night to finish up our wonderfully relaxing weekend!

20120326-094050.jpg

Something from the weekend….. back oop North: a visit to Leeds

Did you have a good weekend? I certainly did! I was so busy yesterday though that I couldn’t share it on the Monday as usual…. I couldn’t wait to put my weekend purchases to use (more revealed later!).

On Thursday morning (starting the weekend early as ever), we packed ourselves some cheese sandwiches and a flask of coffee, and made our way to Kings Cross for another trip up North. Adam’s brother and sister in law live in Leeds with two wonderful dogs, so we were looking forward to a visit, and seeing some friends up there too.

Out walking the dogs, view from our window, snuggling up with the dogs

As soon as we arrived at the house, it was straight outdoors for a walk with the dogs….. we had left behind a foggy, grey London, so it was a delight to get outside into the countryside, under a much bluer sky. On our return, it was time for tea, and we began our weekend of gluttony with scones (with jam and clotted cream of course) and smoothies (to try to be healthy). We mooched about for the afternoon, chatting, putting the world to rights etc. until a supper of garlic and chilli pasta (I must get the recipe) followed by a film.

I’m not sure how we missed Warrior at the cinema (anything with Tom Hardy is usually prioritised), but I’m so pleased to have finally seen it. When I was asked if I’d like to watch a film about cage fighting, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but as one would hope, this film has much more to it. Telling the story of two estranged brothers, and how they transpired to enter the same cage fighting tournament, it’s impossible not to grow fond of several of the characters…… By the time of the big fights at the end of the film, I was really rooting for them. The fighting itself is pretty compelling too, and I have to say I came away thinking I really must go and see some in real life! (I believe they often have events like that at the Troxy so will be keeping an eye out!)

Smoothie, Scones, Pancakes

After a breakfast of scrambled eggs, and another walk with the dogs, Friday morning saw us walking into nearby Farsley for a few errands. As we arrived to the bottom of the high street, we were enchanted to see the old fashioned grocers and DIY shop, and as we walked up the high street to the little Post Office, I was very taken in by this charming, Yorkshire village. Having posted my parcel (another order from my Folksy shop), we took a look into a little haberdashers I’d had recommended, R.L. and C.M. Bond Ltd. I was immediately blown away by the walls upon walls of buttons and ribbons, and soon began rooting through the little baskets of vintage haberdashery. I came away rather poorer in purse, although very much richer in buttons! I couldn’t wait to turn them into new treasures, on rings, cufflinks, bracelets etc….. and so that’s what I did for most of yesterday!

Farsley High Street, R.L. & C.M. Bond Haberdashers

We made our way into town on Friday evening, to meet dear friends Craig and Sheli. It was Sheli’s birthday yesterday, so we celebrated with dinner at Little Tokyo. We’ve all been meaning to go for a while, and it was certainly worth the wait. We started with cocktails in the little bar area upstairs, next to the cute koi pond…. Sheli had their Apple Mojo, Adam sampled the Blackberry Martini, and I went for a twist on my old favourite, their Bloody Geisha. I was pleasantly surprised to find I could really taste the wasabi used in place of Tabasco, without it being dreadfully hot…. in fact I really enjoyed this version so may well try it at home!

Little Tokyo, Bloody Geisha Cocktail

Next, we were lead downstairs to a beautiful dining area with chunky wooden tables and sunken seating. Adam and I shared a starter of perfect vegetable tempura, before our Bento box mains (Adam and I went for the tofu steak, Sheli the chicken teriyaki, and Craig the chicken katsu) all of which came with yummy rice, ginger-dressed salad and more of the wonderful tempura. Ours were about £12, and I can certainly vouch for their value….we were totally stuffed with the delicious meal and struggled to quite finish!

Tofu Bento Box, Little Tokyo, Vegetable Tempura

And we really would have left it there, had we not been presented with such alluring dessert menus….. (Japanese fortune cookies with sesame and coconut….. green tea ice cream….. ginger cheesecake with cointreau sorbet….. coconut ice cream….. lychee ice cream…..) but we really couldn’t turn down such wonderful sounding dishes, despite our groaning tummies. Sheli had a lovely strawberry sorbet, which came served in a bowl made from ice, in which were slices of kiwi and rose petals (will be copying that idea!)…. Craig went for the amazing ‘crispy parcels’ which are essentially marshmallow spring rolls (utterly incredible!)…. and Adam and I shared the delicious Japanese style profiteroles, which are filled with ice cream and topped with a yummy sweet seaweed and sesame sauce. We could not have been much more impressed…. I was particularly pleased to see Adam had enjoyed the meal, having spent time in Japan and struggling to find a good authentic Japanese restaurant in England.

Japanese Profiteroles, Strawberry Sorbet, Marshmallow Spring Rolls

The gluttony didn’t stop there though, as we breakfasted on pancakes with maple syrup on Saturday morning, before heading out to explore a newly opened exhibition at the University of Leeds. ‘Marks in Time’ opened on the Friday at the Marks and Spencer Company Archive, and is a permanent exhibition featuring just some of the amazing collection there. To celebrate the 100th birthday of Marks & Spencer in 1984, they began to collect together hundreds of historical items from all over the Company and created the M&S Company Archive. A dedicated team at the site has put together and catalogued more than 70,000 items from the last 128 years, charting the iconic brand’s history.

Starting with the company’s early years, large glass cabinets displayed cards of buttons, pretty tea cups, clocks and household necessities….. it wasn’t until the 1920s cabinet that clothing began to appear. The exhibition is a real reflection on fashion history though, as well as social history, charting trends throughout rationing, post-war optimism, and developments in food technology. True innovators, the display explains how M&S became the first store to sell fresh chicken using their ‘cold-chain’ method, and began to stock innovative new products such as Terylene and the chicken kiev!

It’s not a huge exhibition, but it is well curated and interesting, and with hands-on displays, dressing up and even a colouring in table, I’d say it’s well worth a look-in if you’re nearby. And it’s free to get in.

Next, we ventured back into town, and decided to investigate the Silver 70s exhibition at Leeds City Museum. Running until Sunday 22nd April, the free exhibition celebrates a highly eventful decade, inviting visitors to explore a house in 1970s Leeds. Filled with typically colourful and garish wallpaper and fashions, the exhibition features some very recognisable and much loved (by me at least) home wares, books and toys….. in each room I spotted memories in the form of Sooty puppets, a copy of Tufty, Fisher Price pull-along dogs, pastel coloured Tupperware (that my Mum still has!), stainless steel tea sets and that big plastic tree house toy that I think we had at nursery school.

Having been born in the 80s I was surprised to see so many things I recognised, but then I suppose things didn’t move quite so fast then….. and I’m not ashamed either, to say that I truly enjoyed the exhibition’s soundtrack of The Carpenters, Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac and The Commodores. I also loved the interactive elements….. design your own outfit and wallpaper based on 1970s fashion….. digging for fruit and veg reflecting the ‘grow your own’ culture and the wonderful ‘The Good Life’ show. I also got the chance to design my own Jubilee plate, next to a cabinet filled with Silver Jubilee memorabilia….. I can’t wait to see the equivalent collections for this year’s Diamond Jubilee! I wouldn’t at all mind a home filled with the gorgeous furniture and nick-nacks we saw though, and even the lime green kitchen units! Again, well worth a visit for anyone my age and older if you’re in the area.
By that time, we needed a sit down and some sustenance. We found both in the stunning Tiled Hall which sits between the Central Library and Leeds Art Gallery. Surrounded by gorgeously ornate green tiles, grand marble columns, a barrel-vaulted mosaic ceiling and the original parquet flooring (all only recently rediscovered), we ate yummy courgette and lime cake, and Caramac ginger fudge cake, along with great coffee. You can actually hire the hall for events….which I’ve mentally noted for future!

Afterwards we wandered a little into the gallery next door (especially enjoying the excellent Stanley Spencer paintings on the staircase) before heading over to snoop about the shops in the Victorian Quarter. I love the old arcades and the pedestrianised high street, not to mention the excellent selection of shops there! The Harvey Nichols window display was as impressive as ever, but better still were the windows at Mulberry which I’m sure were designed to tell Adam to buy me one of the Alexa hand bags cunningly draped over giant ice creams. He didn’t take the hint though unfortunately!

Dolls in the window at Mary Shortle, Leeds City Museum, Window at Harvey Nichols

For dinner, it had to be a trip to Bradford for a curry. We were super impressed by the extensive vegetarian options and gorgeous dishes at Saffron Desi…. the best of which was probably Vera’s Lahore Nihari Special with lamb cooked on the bone. My Channa Paneer Biryani was delicious too, and it was refreshing to see so many options for the vegetarian biryani…. rather than just the same thing as the others with the meat taken out!

Heading home rather stuffed, we settled down to watch How To Train Your Dragon, which Adam has been going on about for ages. It didn’t disappoint, and he’s probably right that it’s one of the best non-Pixar animations of recent years.

Sweet Lassi, Lollipop reward at Saffron DEsi

It was a slightly earlier start on Sunday, so that we could eat our breakfast of pancakes before heading over to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in good time. I’ve been wanting to go for ages, and the clear day promised some good photo time. The park is a wonderful place that “aims to challenge, inspire, inform and delight”, and is visited by some 300,000 visitors every year. Open all year round, there is really nowhere like it I know of to see amazing artwork in the open air. The grounds themselves are worth the visit, and it was lovely to wander about with the dogs (who are allowed in nearly all the outdoor spaces whilst on a lead), especially on a gorgeous spring day.

There is certainly something about seeing such stunning sculptures in the remarkable landscape too, and in the natural light. I loved finding the next piece as we explored gardens, fields and woods. My favourites included Anthony Caro’s ‘Promenade’ which appears to be watching over the beautiful and expansive lake….. Antony Gormley’s ‘One and Another’ which is a surprise find atop a huge tree trunk, rather like those hidden on top of landmarks such as The Roundhouse….. Marcia Farquhar’s beautiful, giant rocking horse, ‘The Horse Is A Noble Animal’…… and Magdalena Abakanowicz’s ‘Seated Figures’ which preside in duplicated, rusted form next to the charming Camelia House. I also enjoyed spying at the menagerie through the trees (we had to take the route adjacent to the menagerie path with the dogs) and adored the almost secret grotto, Lady Eglinton’s Well, which is carved into rocks next to the reservoir damn. A little owl sculpture which used to sit above the stone dating the well to 1685 has long gone, but the spring it was built around still creates a well in front of the grotto, which was a gift to local people.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

As we crossed over the pretty bridge back to the car park, I was reminded of one of my interviews for my degree course, which actually took place at Bretton Hall, the house in the centre of the park. The others marvelled that I’d chosen London over this picturesque setting to go to college, and I had to rather wonder why I’d not been more tempted to spend my student days there. Still, things would have worked out rather differently I’m sure, so I’m grateful for my choice. We will certainly be visiting the sculpture park again though (which is free to enter…you just pay to park) as there is so much more to explore…. I’m hoping we can go in the summer for a whole day and take a picnic to eat on the lawn. I really can’t recommend a trip there enough.

Bretton Hall and Grounds at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

We drove home via Blacker Hall Farm Shop…. we’d foolishly hoped to have lunch in the restaurant there, forgetting that it was Mother’s Day. It was fully booked of course, but we still enjoyed pootling about the farm shop, tasting home made cakes and picking up some bits to tide us over….. including what is probably the best cheese scone I have ever tasted!

After we’d returned and packed ready to leave, we snoozed away the afternoon snuggled on the sofa with the dogs. But soon it was time to head back to the station to make our way back to London. The journey passed brilliantly fast as we watched a few episodes of my new favourite New Girl though, and before long, we were home for a much needed early night!

Ems x

P.S. My proper photos of the weekend are on my Flikr page, here…..

Sorting my growing button collection back at home

A week in Instagram

It’s been a busy week of baking, shopping, walking and lazing about. Here’s how some of it looked……

Spring Risotto for supper

Birthday banana bread for Adam's mum

Hedges. And her tongue.

Piper enjoys a chin tickle

Taking the dogs for a walk at sunset

Walking on Ickleford Common

Snow drops by the river

Early blossom on the Bullace

The moon

Cola cupcake

Hope you’ve had a week of pretty things to see!

Ems x

Secret Supper Club at the Back Door Kitchen

Where to expect the next super-cool, super-trendy, super-edgy pop-up restaurant venue? Church halls, warehouses, roof tops…. but one’s front room? Indeed, the clever boys of Back Door Kitchen opened the doors to their Secret Supper Clubs last autumn, in a *secret* location….their house.

When dear friend Jen asked if Adam and I would like to come along to her birthday dinner, she (needlessly) lured us with talk of secret feasting and epic menus…and of course we couldn’t resist. For just £22 each, we signed up for a tasting menu of ten courses, specially designed for Jen’s celebration. Jen had been cooked for before by the boys, and despite loving their Spanish Tapas, she commissioned them to work up a special menu for her based on their own nation’s delights….Italy. So, rather excited (and plenty hungry!) we grabbed a bottle of Italian red (it’s BYOB) and off we trotted, just over the river, to find this foodie extravaganza.

True to their promise, the location was indeed a bit of a find, but our winding walk around SE London built up our appetite at least. As we approached the glowing kitchen/diner from the cold, we were met by such yummy smells, as well as the lovely boys who welcomed us into their home and to the long table which cosily filled the room. Gifts and cards exchanged, and wine poured, we started right away with the first of many wonderful creations…..

Pecorino romano cheese nests with mora romagnola ham and balsamic vinegar glaze

Burrata laid on a bed of caponata salad

Mini aubergine parmigiana

Potato and mozzarella frittata

Char-grilled scallops with saffron and herbs flavoured Umbrian lentils

Baby octopus guazzetto

(rock octopus slowly cooked with cherry tomato olives and their own juices)

Pollo alla cacciatora

(chicken breast fillet cooked in wine and vinegar with green olive and rosemary)

Polenta con le spuntature

(oven baked Italian herbs and parmesan polenta topped with pork spareribs slowly cooked in red wine and tomato sauce)

Chargrilled squid stuffed with mushrooms and smoked salmon

Tiramisu n.47

(mixed fruit tiramisu)

The real show piece though was the incredible pudding…a huge fruit tiramisu. Crafted into an enormous dish and topped with candles, Jen’s ‘birthday cake’ was immense and mouth-watering. Having made her wish, we were served up generous portions of the amazingly creamy dessert, and even though we should really have been long past full, there wasn’t a morsel left over.

Seriously contented and a little sleepy, we reminisced over our incredible feast on the lovely walk home through Shad Thames. And yes, we will be back!

All photos from BackDoor47, with the exception of the last!


Edible Experiences

More left overs…. this time, PUDDING

Our left overs feast surely could not be complete without a pudding of left overs…. And so it was that a massive pan of muesli, porridge oats, dried fruit, oranges and other larder left overs came together to make an insanely good batch of flapjacks!

450g butter
450g brown sugar
1 tbspn Maple Syrup
1 tbspn Clear, Eucalyptus Honey
1 tbspn Thick, Blossom Honey
1 tbspn Golden Syrup
250g muesli
200g porridge oats
2 generous handfuls of dried fruit
2 generous handfuls of nuts, chopped
1 dessert spoon of mixed spice
1 orange, sliced

First, we melted all the butter in a large pan……there really was a lot….

Next, we stirred in the sugar, syrups and honeys to make a big treacly goo, before mixing in the muesli, porridge oats, spice, fruit and nuts…..

Then, having greased and lined and greased again a large oven tray…..we smooshed the mixture in, pressing it down into one giant gooey flapjack. On top, we placed some thin slices of orange (mainly because that needed using up too), and then baked it on the middle shelf of the oven at 150 degrees for about 40 minutes.

We took out the tray once the top was lovely and golden, then waited for it to cool before chopping it into bite size squares.

Lush!