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….

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Pea, Mint and Spring Onion Flan

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Amuse Bouche of Mango, Ginger and Orange

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Rich Lobster Bouillabaisse, White Wine and Chervil

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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.

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

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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.

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Troooooolllllll!!!!

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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

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

Pancake Day!

Ready, steady, flip!

My name is Emily and I can’t make pancakes. There, I’ve said it. It is a constant source of embarrassment to this northern lass that I can’t make Yorkshire Pudding or Toad in the Hole (I’m usually a pretty good cook otherwise). It’s the batter see, I can’t make it work. It always comes out too runny or lumpy or just doesn’t work when it’s cooked. I suppose I shouldn’t feel too badly…. the pancake making in my home as a child was always a man’s job (although my Mum can at least boast a decent Yorkshire Pud).

And so it falls to the man of the house to make them today. I’ve prepared everything at least so that he only has to whip up the batter and get flipping. Here’s what I’ve got ready to go with ours…..

  • Free Range Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Cheese – the first ones will be savoury
  • Chopped Banana – a classic
  • Nutella – we have too many catering size tubs of this lying around for some reason and must get through it
  • Maple syrup – we are huge maple syrup fiends in this house, any excuse
  • Banana curd – this was home made by us and is brilliant with waffles, so we’re hoping its first pancake experience is a good one (perhaps I’ll share the recipe soon)

Growing up, my understanding of making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday was that it was a way to use up foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of Lent. I now believe it’s also a way to cram in all that good stuff too, before embarking on your fast….. I don’t suppose very many of us go beyond giving up chocolate these days, but a tradition’s a tradition right?!

Apparently, in places like Newfoundland and Labrador, small tokens are frequently cooked in Shrove Tuesday pancakes. It sounds rather like finding the sixpence in the Christmas Pudding….. each of these tokens though are meant to be divinatory…. for example, the person who finds a coin will be wealthy. This reminds me of the little amulets the pilgrims to Real de Catorce leave for St Francis of Assisi that I saw at the wonderful Miracles and Charms exhibtion.

In England though, Shrove Tuesday means pancake races……. a tradition said to have originated when a housewife was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time, until she heard the church bells ringing for the service and raced to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. In Olney, where the fabled housewife is said to have lived, the most famous pancake race in the country has been held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race to the finishing line while tossing the pancakes as they go. Apparently, if a man wants to participate, he must dress up as a housewife!

The seaside town of Scarborough celebrates by closing the foreshore to all traffic, closing schools early, and inviting people to skip using long ropes from the nearby harbour. Whilst the children of Whitechapel in Lancashire continue a local tradition by visiting houses and asking “please a pancake”, to be rewarded with oranges or sweets. It is thought the tradition began when farm workers visited their wealthy neighbors to ask for pancakes or pancake fillings. And in Finland and Sweden, the day is associated not so much with pancakes, but with the almond paste-filled semla pastry.

We’ll be keeping it traditional this year though, and so I’m just waiting for Adam to get home to start cooking!

What are your plans for your pancake supper? Any good fool-proof recipes you can help me out with?

Happy flipping!

Ems x

A Pretentious fry up….. The Breakfast Stacker

The pretentious fry up

I’ve been making these for years, ever since I went on a post A-level girly holiday to Greece and got hooked on them on our blurry mornings at the pool side cafe. I love a fry up, like any good British girl does, but there is something about putting it all in a bun that both poshes it up a bit, and makes it all the more naughty!

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an every day thing, or even a once a month thing. This is a special, naughty, gluttonous breakfast of epic proportion, and must be reserved as a delicacy and a special treat.

The idea is simple….put all the usual ingredients of a proper English fry up in between two bits of bread. As tall as you might make it, it always looks like less food than when it’s all over your plate, and there’s the added bonus of the bread soaking up all that yummy egg yolk and bacony goodness. I can’t think of any way I’d rather eat a cooked breakfast, at home at least, and so when Adam suggested we incorporate a fry up into our slightly slobby weekend, I knew this was what we had to do.

Here is how I made ours today…..

  • Free Range Lancashire Sausages – 1 per person – grilled, so started these first…and once done sliced in half.
  • Birdseye Potato Waffles – 1 per person – I also like to home-make hash browns instead of this layer if I have chance (not on a slobby weekend though!).
  • Duchy Originals Oganic Free Range Smoked Back Bacon – 2 rashers per person – I like to fry these in the fat I trim off each rasher.
  • Chestnut mushrooms – 2 per person – sliced and fried in olive oil.
  • Heinz Baked Beans – 2 tablespoons per person – just warmed through as you would usually.
  • Free Range hen eggs – 1 per person – fried in the bacon pan last of all!
  • Duchy Originals incomparable English Muffin – 1 per person – sliced in half and buttered with Rachel’s Organic salted butter. The bottom half I spread with the amazing Wilkin and Sons Tomato Ketchup….the top half I spread with their delicious Brown Sauce.

So, once your fry up is cooked and ready, it’s time to build your stacker. It’s advisable to start with something nice and flat for your first layer….I like the bacon first, right on top of the tommy k….then the waffle, onto which I carefully pour the beans (waffles are great for this because they capture all the beans in the gaps!)….next, the sausage, then the egg, and finally the mushrooms, right next to the brown sauce. Yum!

If you really wanted to posh this up, I can recommend a stacker of hash brown, bacon, poached egg, black pudding, portobello mushroom and green pesto. In fact, as long as there are multiple layers, and the element of naughtiness in your ingredients, you’ll capture the spirit of this wonderfully sinful breakfast.

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!

A sugar sweet Christmas

I’ve recently been introduced to the wonderful world of Pinterest, and amongst all its fabulous offerings, it’s the Christmas ideas I’m currently most obsessed with. I’ve created a board of beautiful ideas along a Sugar Sweet Christmas theme…… here are a few of my favourites…..

This is where it all began…..a tree of sweeties in sugar icing tones…..

Source: trendytree.com via pretty on Pinterest

I was desperate to do this but really haven’t had time this year…..I surely will next Christmas though!……
This is how I intend to spend much of Christmas Eve!…..
I love Paperchase all year round, but at Christmas it’s off the chart!…..
I love this idea for glamming up ordinary fairy lights with ribbon offcuts……
 How beautiful are these! Definitely a project I want to try…..
 So simple and clever!…..
 I may need to hone my skills in meringue making before attempting these…..
I’m sure I can manage these though…..
 Probably my favourite tree decoration this year…..very clever mini versions of the Jeff Koons classic…..
And what would Christmas be without a gorgeous, festive dress…..
 The tree of my dreams….for this year at least!
Source: tumblr.com via pretty on Pinterest
Merry Christmas and happy Pinning!

Yummiest worky Christmas Gift! Festive Primrose Bakery cupcakes

We love gorgeous things to eat in the office. Just as much as we love things that are gorgeous to look at. So when our lovely florist Caroline came in with a Christmas gift from Primrose Bakery, we erupted into squeals of delight.

Each scrumptious cupcake was decorated with kitch and cute toppings on a Festive theme…here are a few of our favourites…..


Thank you Caroline!