Foodie Friday: Cuban Style Rice

20130802-115218.jpg

Adam and I have been meaning to make more new and interesting suppers for weeks. I rather lost my cooking mojo when the hot weather came along and haven’t been bothered to make anything excited for ages. So in the hope of restoring some interest again, we trawled through our cookbooks and planned a few meals for the week.

Last night was a quick and simple dish from the brilliant Spanish cookery book, which was in fact a gift from my lovely Spanish friend many years ago. I can’t say I wasn’t a little vexed to find that what had looked like a really easy dish required no less than FIVE pans (seriously, most of what I cook only needs one so I was less than impressed) but I did manage to reduce this down to three by tinkering with the recipe, and the results were worth the washing up.

Most of the ingredients are things we have in the house all the time, so I can see this becoming a bit of a go-to dish when we’re low on supplies and time, but still want something satisfying to cook. It took me only about 20 minutes to knock together, and rather less time to yum up!

What you will need (to serve two):

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • Long grain rice (however much you’d usually cook for two)
  • 1 large or 2 small bananas, sliced
  • butter
  • 2 large free range or organic eggs
  • salt
  • paprika

How to make it:

  1. Heat a little oil in a sauce pan then brown the chopped onion and two sliced cloves of garlic.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes as well as the thyme, and bring to the boil before simmering for a good ten minutes.
  3. Whilst that’s bubbling away, cook your rice in a second saucepan, adding a whole garlic clove into the water.
  4. Add a little olive oil to a large frying pan and brown a sliced clove of garlic.
  5. Drain the cooked rice and tip into the frying pan, frying just for a couple of minutes.
  6. Plate up the rice and pop it in the oven to keep it warm, and give the pan a quick wipe with a bit of kitchen towel.
  7. Heat a knob of butter in the frying pan, then slowly caramelise your sliced banana in there.
  8. Add the banana to your plated up rice and return to the oven, then give the pan a quick wipe again.
  9. Heat a little olive oil and fry your eggs, seasoning with salt and paprika.
  10. Pour the sauce around your rice and plate up your eggs on top.

Yummy! We couldn’t believe how well all the flavours went together, especially the banana which really makes this dish.

Enjoy!

Ems x

About these ads

Something from the weekend…. a rather special birthday and a pretty big surprise!

What a fun weekend we had!

Friday was Adam’s Mum’s 70th Birthday, for which we’d been planning a surprise party for weeks! I set about readying the house and baking for the celebrations on Friday afternoon, before heading over to see the birthday girl in the evening. We shared a bottle to toast, and gave her the gift we’d made….Adam had scanned and photo-shopped an old photo of him and his brothers, getting rid of the faded colours and imperfections to make a good-as-new photo! Liz loved it, as well as the other stacks of gifts she’d received from her friends!

20130305-103650.jpg

Rather successful Lemon Drizzle Cake!

On Saturday morning we were busy from early on, making salads and quiches and whatnot, and putting up balloons! We were only just about ready when the doorbell rang for the first guests….we’d asked everyone to arrive at 2pm so that Adam’s Dad could bring Liz round at half past and she wouldn’t spot anyone coming in! We are so used to our friends being late that it was quite the surprise to have everyone arrive bang on time!

20130305-103844.jpg

Adam brought back amazing breakfast pastries from his trip to Quotidian for the bread

20130305-103905.jpg

Balloons!!

Liz arrived right on time too with the dogs….they knew right away in fact that something was going on, but Liz was thoroughly shocked when I opened the living room door to reveal 20 of her friends! She’d thought she was coming round for a quiet afternoon tea with just Adam and I so there was quite a lot of swearing when she realised we’d all plotted together to surprise her! She was delighted though to see all her friends together, and I certainly loved having the house full of happy chatter!

20130305-104002.jpg

Liz, Adam and Me (and what was left of the spread by cake cutting time!)

We were exhausted by the time the last guests had left and we’d tidied up from the feast we’d prepared, so we skulked off to bed at a ridiculously early hour of 7pm to watch American Horror Story (we’re now on Season 2: Asylum) and eat left overs from a sort of bed-buffet tray!

20130305-104037.jpg

Newton got the post-party blues

Sunday started with the traditional and much-needed lie in, before we headed out to the market for the weekly car boot sale. I relished the fact that as I’ve sold quite a few bits from my new vintage shop on Etsy, I could allow myself to buy up lots of new treasure! We certainly left the market with a good haul, and rewarded ourselves with a brunch of coffee and pancakes at the super-quaint Halseys Deli and Tea Rooms.

20130305-104120.jpg

The car boot sale haul!

After that we made our way up to Adam’s parents cottage to help his Mum use the bread maker she’d received as a birthday gift from her friends. I’ve not used one for many years, and they seem to have developed and improved a lot, so I was very impressed with how easy it was to prepare a simple wholemeal loaf. We left it to bake whilst we took a walk around the nearby Priory grounds to see all the snowdrops in bloom. They’re so enchanting scattered about the woods, and it’s just a shame that they don’t photograph very well…I find it impossible to show how pretty they are and get the white balance right!

20130305-104140.jpg

Seriously yummy home-baked bread

Once back, we took out the now baked bread and were SO impressed with how it came out….it’s not at all like the bread maker bread I’ve tried before (which I always found a bit too solid) and is just deliciously light and fluffy! We tested some just with butter and loved it! We had an early supper, and another very early night….yumming up scones with jam and clotted cream in bed whilst watching more American Horror Story (it’s SO much better than the first season and we’re quite hooked!).

20130305-104101.jpg

Naughty supper in bed!

How was your weekend?

Ems x

Living for the weekend….dealing with the post Christmas blues

That sky is grey again. And it’s all cold out there (and not in a Christmassy-winter-wonderland way). Still, the weekend is already here, and so I’ve been thinking of ways to fill it with fun stuff to take my mind off the fact it’s no longer Christmas. (Yes, I *am* still talking about Christmas, sorry)…..

Planning for the year

January is always full of the dulls. Everyone is shattered after the festivities, low on funds, and trying to catch up and get back to normal. But I find that there’s nothing like having something to look forward to to cheer me up, so I’ve been enjoying making lots of plans. I’ve bought tickets, made bookings, and started organising fun adventures to keep me busy and excited for the months to come. Get your diaries out!

20130111-180919.jpg

DIY Projects

With all the Christmas decorations gone, I know I’m looking forward to sprucing up the house a bit and starting work on some little DIY projects I’ve been planning. We have a Welsh dresser to sand and paint, and a few little tables and plant stands that I want to make-over. It’s a cheap and fun way to spend time, and you get the reward of something pretty to brighten your home at the end of it!

Bring in the Spring!

I don’t know about you, but I’m aching for the new season already! I’m bored of the cold and grey, and I want to see the Spring flowers come up. I’ve instigated this ahead of schedule by buying some lovely stocks to brighten up and scent the house…they look great in the Moomin Papa hat vase that I got for Christmas!

20130111-180927.jpg

Baking and Cooking

I know that every other person is on some kind of diet or detox, but I firmly believe that in order not to go cold turkey, you need to slowly wind down from the festive gluttony. I’m still not used to *not* having a pudding after every meal (yes, including breakfast) and being surrounded by naughty treats. And so to ween myself off, and hopefully shed a few of the holiday pounds, I think it’s only sensible to get doing some good home cooking and baking. You’re more in control when you make it yourself, so you can start to think more healthy and reduce portions, whilst still technically treating yourself and avoiding going into complete withdrawal! I have had some success with new recipes, including making French Onion soup for the first time in years….yum!

20130111-184952.jpg

Check on those resolutions!

It’s not too late to revise them, so have another look at whatever list you may have made and think about how realistic it all is. If you’re getting on well, well done you! If not so much, there’s no shame in re-working your list….you’ll do better for it in the end! I have done OK so far…..I have started getting myself sorted by way of a spider diagram (LOVE THEM), as well as playing around with the new pop-up studio Adam gave me for Christmas to help with my photography!

20130111-180935.jpg

20130111-180943.jpg

Go for a walk

I’d much rather kick off the new year with a nice country walk than a fad diet or detox. It’s far more fun and much easier to stick with too! The weather has been pretty gruesome all told, but the rain seems to be staying away rather more at the minute so why not take a nice long stroll this weekend? Extra points for finding a pub lunch along your way!

Whatever you get up to, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Happy adventuring,

Ems x

Something from the weekend….our first overnight guests!

I’m still feeling pretty pantsy all told (hence the late posting of this), but we just *had* to have lots of fun this weekend because we received our first overnight guests! Dear friends Matthew and Siobhan made the journey up from London to spend the weekend with us, straight from work on Friday. It was so lovely to catch up with them, and host them in our new home.

I had spent much of Friday cooking, so that I didn’t need to do too much whilst our guests were here. But we scoffed some lovely cake that Siobhan had made first of all (apple, pear and almond…yum!) along with a pot of tea, then it was a tour of the house before a supper of cottage pie. We had some of Adam’s wonderful dark chocolate and banana loaf for pudding, and then he made us Mint Juleps and Espresso Martinis whilst we chatted the evening away!

On Saturday morning, I served up a big kedgeree breakfast to set us up for the day, and then we took the short walk to the amazing Eric T Moore bookshop. Matthew especially loved the place, and at more than one point we lost him and thought he may just spend the entire weekend there! I picked up some yummy rosemary bread and brownies for lunch from our favourite local bakery, Quotidian, then we toured our guests around town. I had surprisingly managed to remember quite a lot of the things we’d learned on our recent Hitchin History walk and the Ghost walk, so I shared lots of random bits of information as we browsed a few shops.

After that, we took them into St Mary’s church, which is right in the centre of town and the largest church in the county. It’s pretty opulent and really rather impressive! Then we stopped in on the market on the way home, clean forgetting that we had bought brownies already and picking up some obscenely huge cream cakes for later.

I had made Sweet Potato soup with ginger, chilli, lime and coconut for our lunch, which we yummed up alongside the delicious Quotidian bread. Then it was off out again, and over the road to the British Schools Museum where there was an exhibition for the local art club. We saw some wonderful pieces, all at very reasonable prices too!

From there we took the little walk around to Adam’s parents’ place to pick up the dogs, and then from there we walked over to the old Priory grounds for a little stroll. Newton was rather nervous, as he always is this time of year, due to the gun shots of nearby pheasant shooters, but we managed to pay a visit to the Charlton Pig Table and say hello to our piggy friends!

It was a lazy supper on Saturday, as we headed over to our brilliant local pub, The Half Moon, for some lovely beer and pub grub. The pub dog ‘Moon’ was unusually friendly and spent lots of time sniffing around our table for any bits of food (which we weren’t allowed to give to her) and a little affection. Then back at home we gorged on the cream cakes we’d bought and sat around drinking liqueurs and playing board games.

On Sunday morning we continued the gluttony with a breakfast of Belgian waffles with bananas and maple syrup, then attempted to walk it off a little with a pootle around the market and the car boot sale. It was great to get there at a reasonable hour again as the traders really don’t all hang around! I picked up some very lovely miniature playing cards, a wonderful old book of pianforte music and a stunning children’s tea set from the 1940s!

Once home again, we just about had time to conclude the complete tour of the house by showing our guests the cellar and the garden. It was a beautiful day out, so lovely to see the garden all autumnal and sunny. We picked a big handful of fresh bay leaves for Matthew and Siobhan to take home, then made our way to the station as they needed to get back into town for lunch.

Adam and I spent the rest of the afternoon on another walk with the dogs, before heading to Adam’s parents’ for a supper of fajitas. Then it was home for more X Files and an early night. Rather blissful weekend!

Something from the weekend….and a catch up of the last few weeks!

Hello! Did you miss me?! I’ve certainly missed blogging these last few weeks!

As you may know, a few weeks ago I moved out of London and up to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. It’s been a real adventure, and dead busy…..moving your home and two small businesses is no mean feat I have found, and with a stall to prepare for and some freelance work, it’s been pretty chaotic! Add all the issues we had with the new house, and really I’ve had no time to sit down at my computer!

But I’m aching to get back to it, and have lots of posts lined up to share with you. In the mean time though, I thought I’d catch you up (as requested!) with what’s been going on since I left The Big Smoke…..

On Monday 17th September, I finished packing up our things and hopped in a moving van to leave London. I’d lived there for 12 years, and other than my home town of Stoke on Trent, it was the only place I’ve ever lived. I had the most amazing time there, but the countryside was calling, and so here I now am in Hitchin, which is in fact the boyf’s home town.

The move went pretty well actually, despite the huge amount of ‘stuff’ I own. We had two fabulous moving men, who made easy work of carrying all of our stuff into our new house, and even smiled whilst they did it. I’d been fairly organised, and so most of the boxes ended up in the right rooms, but we opted to spend the first couple of nights at Adam’s parents’ house around the corner, mainly because of the yummy hot meals on offer and because Adam would need to work from there for a few days and starts pretty early!

I spent most of the first week at the house cleaning and organising….unfortunately it was nowhere near ‘liveable’ as it had been empty for a little while and the previous tenants were clearly not so house proud! But with the help of plenty of Flash, Cif, lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda, I got the place pretty clean ready for us to move in properly, and so by the third evening we were excited to spend our first night at the house!

We soon found out that we were to share the place with a few house mates…..whilst reading in bed on the first night, something caught the corner of my eye, and in fact I thought it was a mouse! It was actually this rather large spider, whom Adam promptly caught under a glass and deposited outside! We’ve found a few others since (all massive), and the garden is full of the stunning stripey spiders who weave incredible webs over everything.

Needing to get a break from the house sorting, and work in Adam’s case, we’ve taken lots of lovely walks through the town and in the nearby countryside. Just a few minutes walk away are the amazing Priory grounds, where you find a photo opportunity every other step. I’m loving the exercise and fresh air, as well as meeting dog walkers and such (I am getting even more desperate to get one or two of our own as a result!).

By the second week, it was time to start getting back to some work for me, and I cleared just enough space within the boxes in my new studio to get some things done. I’d been commissioned to work on a fashion installation with the UKFT just before leaving London, and so in the run up to the set up last Friday I spent hours at my sewing machine making props and readying my styling kit. On the Thursday evening I thought I’d better give my finger nails some TLC after all the cleaning and working, so they got a nice coat of polish ready for my trip into London the next day.

The installation is at the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation in Westminster, but I took the train to Kings Cross (only half an hour!) and walked the short way to Bloomsbury to the UKFT offices. There, we loaded the van with all the contributions from their members (with me peeking in each box in excitement to see all the treasure!), and then headed to Westminster to set everything up. I had a grand day putting it all together (and will post a bit more about it all soon, but in the mean time there are some sneak peek photos below!), and by 5pm I was back on my way home, and caught the fast train to make it in record time!

The following day we were up bright and early to scoot round the corner to the Riverside Craft and Farmers Market. I’d booked my first ever non-London stall there, and was super excited (and a little nervous) to see how my stuff would be received by the locals! It was also my first outdoor stall, although I was provided with a nice gazebo which gave me stacks of space and allowed me to put all my stock out for the first time. I’d been busily making some new brooches and pendants with a local theme, as so many of my things have a London vibe and I wanted to fit in right away!

It was a grand day of selling, chatting, networking and drinking lots of tea from a flask. The stall is only a few minutes from home, which meant Adam could nip back to bring me blankets and hot water bottles! We had lots of visits too, from friends and friends of friends, and we were all packed up and home by half four too!

I’ve booked onto the next few markets, which are in Hitchin on the last Saturday of the month…..I’ll also be at the Hertford Corn Exchange on the 20th October, and in the market square in Hitchin on the 9th December for the Christmas Gala!

On the Sunday, we were lucky enough to be able to get onto one of the occasional local history walks. Hitchin’s history dates back to the 7th Century, and the town is full of remarkable stories and evidence of its past. The house we moved into is Victorian, and still has its servants bell pulls and cold room, but it is actually relatively young for Hitchin, as there are Georgian and even Elizabethan properties still standing here. The walk showed us some of the highlights, and opened our eyes to some of the treasures in Hitchin’s architecture. I can’t wait to learn more….and to go on the local bat and ghost walks soon!

Hitchin also boasts some very old independent businesses, so I have been discovering places like the wonderful Brookers (a proper old fashioned hardware shop), and Hawkins (a department store who actually employ a proper town crier!) as well as buying up lots from the flea markets, car boot sales, antiques market and charity shops. Whilst I’d love to keep all my treasures, lots of them will actually be polished up and listed on my Etsy shop, so look out for an update on that!

As part of our historical eduction, we’ve been exploring some of our local pubs, purely for research you understand. The Coopers Arms is notable for its incredible Tudor fireplace, as well as a room upstairs recently uncovered by the landlord, which had been hidden by a wardrobe for over 100 years! Our favourite so far though, also happens to be our nearest….. The Half Moon has won awards from CAMRA and serves amazing guest ales, local ciders and yummy food. They also have a pub dog, and lots of countryside walkers like to pop in, with lots of them bringing their dogs!

I was rather pleased that our arrival coincided with sloe picking time. We went out last week to find some locally and came back with almost two kilos, which are now in the freezer waiting to go into gin! I also want to go and harvest the last few brambles, elder berries and rosehips to make jams, wines and schnapps with!

Part of the joy of moving to Adam’s home town, is that we are so close to his parents’ dogs. Piper and Newton soon learned the way to our new house, and understood that we were going to see them more often…..and of course where the biscuit tin we got for them is kept! Newton has been loving playing in our garden with various tennis balls, footballs and shuttlecocks that have ended up there (as well as exploring the wilder parts!)….whilst Piper has been my little un-packing helper, getting excited with each box opened and every treasure unwrapped!

In fact, they seem quite at home here now on their visits, and we’ve had to keep an eye on Piper who wants so very much to spend all day on our lovely new sofas! We’ve had to barricade the living room door when she’s been here, although that didn’t stop her from finding the only made up bed to lie on last week! Having been missing for a few minutes, I searched the house for her, only to find she’d made her way to our bedroom (there are four, so I’m not sure if she inspected them all for a suitable bed!) and was snuggled up on my best sheets. You’ve got to admire her intelligence and determination though.

One thing I have managed to make time for is lots of cooking and baking. We’ve had some really yummy meals over the last few weeks, and had Adam’s parents over as our first guests to yum up a cottage pie, as well as Hannah over for a late lunch of goats cheese and red onion tarts. I’ve been going to the market for lovely fresh fruit and veg, and making up some delicious soups for hearty warm lunches. Adam had been fancying a kedgeree since I had one at the Wolsey for my birthday breakfast, so I made one for him last week with great success….I’ll share the recipe soon hopefully.

To add to the cooking excitement, I’ve been able to forage a few things from our garden as well as the sloes from a nearby obliging field. We have a wonderful and huge bay tree in the garden, which has provided us with fresh leaves for pie, soups, the kedgeree and my Christmas mince meat. We also have elder berries out there (can’t wait til next year for the flowers so we can make Champagne!), as well as brambles and medlars which I will make into jam.

In fact, we have enough room too that I can start growing some of our own veg soon, and Adam’s mum has been busy working the garden to smarten and pretty it up. I’ve spent a little while out there too, mainly digging up some of the wild cyclamen from around the trees to save it from ivy. I love their pretty little pink blades of petals, and was overjoyed to find so many growing right down our wooded garden….. I’ve replanted some in the flower beds (as well as lots of bulbs for spring), some in pots and some around the other trees.

This Friday was a frenzy of baking and readying for Christmas, as I made three Christmas Cakes, the Christmas Mince Meat and for the first time, a Christmas Pudding! The house still smells all Christmassy now, and so I’m very much in the mood already! I’m most excited that we now have space for a proper sized Christmas tree again and can’t wait to go to the market to pick one!

Despite being so excited to be in our new home out of London, we’ve been delighted to find how quick and easy it is to pop into London. The trains take as little as 20 minutes from Kings Cross, and we made it to a recent wedding in Richmond in less time than some people who live in London!

We were most impressed with our journey to the Union Chapel in Islington last night though, which took us under an hour from door to door. We’ve been there a couple of times before, last Christmas to see the Puppini Sisters with friends Claire and Matthew, and first to see Andy McKee with friends Matthew and Siobhan. We enjoyed the latter so much that we bought tickets to see the talented Mr McKee again last night, and had a most amazing time seeing him, the legendary Preston Reed and the phenomenal Jon Gomm.

As we start to get the place more tidy and presentable, I’m getting excited to welcome our friends here. We’ve set a date for our house warming party, which will also be a bit of a festive celebration. I’ve not been able to host my traditional Christmas party for a couple of years, because I’ve been so busy with December parties at work. So I am incredibly keen to get planning for Christmas and visits and just enjoying a gorgeous new home!

And that’s the scoop! As I mentioned, I’ve got lots of posts lined up to tell you more about our new home, and what is in fact a very new lifestyle for me! Do keep me up to date with the London goings on though….I do miss it still!

Ems xxx

Something from the weekend…. Mainly Shopping….

So last week I posted some ideas for shopping at the weekend, and so it would have seemed rude not to have spent at least *some* of my weekend shopping too. And so it was that I filled the weekend, mooching about various stalls and windows, as well as some lazing about too of course…..

On Friday night I made my Biryani dish again…. I added a little tumeric and fresh chilli this time and it was lovely. We spent the rest of the evening watching True Blood (now on Season 2) and sorting the stamps I bought in bulk to make things with. Rock and Roll Friday night!

Saturday started with a breakfast of waffles, banana and maple syrup, before I had a pleasant stroll to Bethnal Green. York Hall was hosting the first London A Most Curious Wedding Fair, and I met up with my dear friend (and Bride To Be), Siobhan, to have a snoop about. The hall is really quite charming, and a great wedding venue in itself. There were some great suppliers there too…. I met a couple I know I will want to use. Having seen everything, we took our ease at the tea shop, which was hosted by A Most Curious too, and we drank lovely tea from mis-matched vintage china.

York Hall for the Most Curious Wedding Fair

A friend we met on Bethnal Green Road

About in Shoreditch

About in Shoreditch

Onward from there, we made our way down Bethnal Green Road to Old Spitalfields for their monthly antique and flea market, where we met Adam too. There were some fabulous stalls, and lots that caught our eye. We were ready for another cup of tea by the time we’d made it all the way round, and so Adam took us for a sit down and cuppa at the lovely Bishopsgate Institute.

Old Spitalfields Antique and Flea Market

The Bride To Be

Tea at the Bishopsgate Institute

From there, we walked Siobhan to the station and decided to pop into the Andaz for the Girl.Stole.Vintage fair….. realising as we came up to the foyer that it was nearly 5pm and so we’d missed it all! So it was a quick stop off at Boots for supplies before heading home for another much needed cup of tea.

For dinner, we’d finally gotten round to booking a table at Rosemary Lane, the curious little restaurant just a couple of minutes walk from us. We really have been meaning to go for ages, but the excuse of Adam’s new job meant we had something to celebrate and a reminder to go. And I’m so glad we finally did. The food and service were incredibly impressive, and my starter for one was absolutely exceptional. The experience was too good to get swallowed up by my whole weekend chatting here, so I’ll be writing about it in a separate post soon (watch this space). In the mean time, here is what I ate….

20120402-112754.jpg

Pea, Mint and Spring Onion Flan

20120402-112803.jpg

Amuse Bouche of Mango, Ginger and Orange

20120402-112809.jpg

Rich Lobster Bouillabaisse, White Wine and Chervil

20120402-112817.jpg

Hot Chocolate Fondant with Caramel Centre and Orange Ice Cream

Having thought we’d be home by about 9pm, we actually didn’t get back until more like 10:30 (bearing in mind our travel time was just minutes and our table was booked for 7pm)….. it really was brilliant just to spend a whole evening over a luxurious and relaxed dinner though, so I didn’t at all begrudge the time. Still, despite our finishing our wonderful meal with a black coffee, we were pretty ready for bed by the time we got back, and so it was straight into jammies and our books to finish off a great day.

Sunday saw a lovely lie in (well, I’d walked about a lot on the Saturday). I’ve been hankering after some spicy Deep South style food ever since we started watching True Blood, so we sat in bed flicking through Jamie’s America recipe book, planning dinner. We finally whittled it down to four dishes (which I’ll make over the whole week to get the craving out of my system) and so once we’d added the ingredients to our shopping list, we headed out for breakfast. We’ve not been to our local cafe at all this year, in fact not since the very start of December. So we didn’t feel too naughty scoffing our big fry-ups. Poppies Diner is just as close as Rosemary Lane, and an awesome find. The menu is very much traditional greasy spoon, but the whole place has been decked out in Hollywood ephemera and 1950s american diner touches. The food is great, and the tea excellent (loose leaf no less), but I don’t suppose it would do to make too much of a habit of this for breakfasts.

Next was the weekly shop to Waitrose…. and it is certainly true that it’s better to shop if you’ve just eaten lots…. we came out without all the little naughty additions we usually do and settled for a pot of tea when we got home. We completed the cross word as usual over our tea, and then settled on the sofa with our books for the afternoon.

Before long though it was time to start preparing dinner…. we’d opted for the Cajun Alligator with Sweet Potato and Salsa (although we’d bought some lovely pork loin in lieu of the alligator). We started by marinating the meat and leaving that for a few hours, before roasting our potatoes (with skin on, like jacket potatoes) and making the salsa. It’s one of the simpler and quicker meals we’ve tried from the book, and so in no time we were yumming up the amazing dish, along with a nice cold beer.

20120402-112828.jpg

Home made salsa with green tomatoes, spring onion, parsley and cider vinegar

20120402-112837.jpg

Cajun Alligator with Sweet Potato and Salsa

After that, it was time for a film….. I’ve been super keen to get Troll Hunter on Blu-ray after we saw it at the cinema and was aching to watch it again. So, we snuggled up on the sofa and ended the night shouting Trooooolllllll (if you haven’t seen it you really must) before cosying up in bed with books and Horlicks. Lush.

20120402-112844.jpg

Troooooolllllll!!!!

Planning for a rainy weekend……

We’re set for rain this weekend, so you’ll have to plan well and ensure you have indoor plans too! Here are some of my ideas for things to do in London and beyond……

Shopping

St David’s Day True Taste Market at the Southbank Centre

In celebration of St David’s Day, the usual food market behind the Royal Festival Hall will showcase Welsh produce including lamb, cheeses and chocolate. There will be lots of Welsh products to buy as well as cookery demos to watch from the likes of James Sommerin and Rhodri Edwards.

An exhibition

Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum

I love this world-renowned annual exhibition and have been going for years. Hosting the most remarkable images of nature, wildlife and the environment inside a specially built space within the museum, I adore the mixture of rarely seen wonders of the world, alongside comical and diverting images that could well have been taken on our door step. The photographs are selected from thousands of entries all over the world, and presented beautifully on backlit screens.

I would very much advise booking online in advance and going earlier in the morning as it does get very busy.

Until 11th March

Adults £9

To drink

Town House, 31 Beauchamp Place

Whilst you’re in Knightsbridge at the Natural History Museum, visit the elegant Town House Bar. Serving a variety of cocktails and Asian Yakatori skewers over three floors, this sophisticated venue is nestled within an ivy covered Georgian house on exclusive Beauchamp Place.

A recipe

On Saturday, I’ll be sharing Adam’s Healthy (ish) Spaghetti Carbonara recipe…. so get in the eggs and bacon.

A Film

You can still catch The Artist and The Descendents at lots of cinemas, both of which I suggest you don’t miss. We’ll be off to see the well-rated The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel though…..will let you know how it is! I can’t recommend Rampart I’m afraid though, as much as I thought it was going to be brilliant. Woody Harrelson is marvellous but I’m afraid I found the film rather dragged.

Out and about in London

The Big Egg Hunt

200 eggs created by leading artists, designers, architects and jewellers (including Polly Morgan, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Bruce Oldfield, Nicky Haslam and Mat Collishaw) have been hidden all over the capital. A fundraising event for Elephant Family and Action for Children challenges the public to try spot them all, in order to win The Diamond Jubilee Egg which is valued at over £100,000……the unique piece of jewellery has been specially crafted by Faberge, and is encrusted with 60 fine gems on an 18 carat gold egg.

At the end of the hunt, all of the eggs will be gathered together to be auctioned for charity. But I have my eye on the Le Collier Plume D’Or which has been created specifically for the Fabergé Big Egg Banquet charity auction and is one of a series of unique couture egg pendants, “created by Fabergé to re-imagine and pay homage to the artistry and ingenuity of the legendary, iconic jewelled Imperial Easter Eggs, the most famous of Fabergé works of art, and a vital part of the continuing legend.”

We’re hoping to enter the photography competition once we’ve been on our hunt….. there’s a chance to win a great Sony camera and to have your photo exhibited at Somerset House as part of World Photo London.

To help you on your hunt you can find zone maps here.

And to stand a chance of winning the big egg prize you need to get hunting soon….. all text entries must be in by 3rd April.

Good luck! And have a brilliant weekend!

Ems x

Best of British…. In the Kitchen

I just love these fabulous Mason Cash mixing bowls. I love the brand (being a good Potteries girl) and their iconic Cane mixing bowls are my cake baking vessel of choice. These new clever designs are perfect if you’re feeling patriotic in the run up to the Diamond Jubilee.

Off With Her Bread

20120201-081427.jpg

God Save the Cream

20120201-081414.jpg

Let Them Eat Cake

20120201-081400.jpg

The bowls are available online and from Liberty. Happy Jubilee baking!

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