Foodie Friday: Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Muffins

Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it loads, but for a while now we’ve been getting an organic vegetable box delivered fortnightly. It’s a great way to eat seasonally, support local farmers and force yourself to make different things all the time. The only downside is that you can end up with too much of one thing….we’ve recently had a spate of cucumbers and we always seem to have too many carrots!

My husband’s mum and brother also have a glut of cooking apples this year, so I set out to find a recipe to use up a whole load of carrots and apples! As usual, I couldn’t find *quite* what I was looking for, so ended up adapting a few recipes into my own. For a first go, I’m pretty impressed too! I usually have to tweak a recipe a few times, but these came out really well on the first attempt. My only goal now is to replace the caster sugar with unrefined sugar, but that’s a challenge for another day!

These make excellent breakfast treats, and you could easily make them the day prior to serve to overnight guests. They’re also pretty healthy (*I* think!) and are a great gluten free, low fat treat.

Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins Recipe

Ingredients (makes about 12 large and 12 mini muffins):

  • 240g organic oats (buy carefully if you are gluten intolerant!)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 60g organic coconut flour
  • 200g fair trade golden caster sugar
  • 4 tspn baking soda
  • 2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1 tspn all spice
  • 1/2 tspn ground ginger
  • 1/2 tspn grated nutmeg
  • 6 organic eggs
  • 100ml organic coconut oil
  • 100ml water
  • 340ml organic milk
  • 200g grated organic carrot (about four)
  • 125g grated cooking apple (one medium)
  • 120g sultanas
  • 120g chopped mixed nuts (optional)
  • extra nutmeg and nuts, plus some demerara sugar for topping

Gluten Free Carrot and Apple Oat Breakfast Muffins Recipe

How to make them:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C /gas mark 4.
  2. Pop your sultanas in a bowl and cover with hot water to soften them…you can leave them like this until they need to go into the mixture later
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients (oats, almonds, flour, sugar, baking soda and spices)
  4. Beat your eggs and melt the coconut oil, then mix those together with the water and milk
  5. Add the fruit to this, then add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients
  6. Combine until you have a nicely mixed battery-dough, and mix the nuts in if you’re using them
  7. Grease your muffin tins and line with cases if you like, then pour in the mixture level with the top
  8. Sprinkle some extra nuts, demerara sugar and / or grated nutmeg on top, then pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out clean
  9. Once baked, remove and cool a little before removing the muffins from the tins
  10. Serve warm and with a little creme fraiche or yoghurt if you like!

Do you have a veggie box delivered? What recipes do you use to finish up those gluts of courgettes etc.?

Ems x

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Foody Friday: Breakfast Brample Muffins

 

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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!).

 

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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

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Something from the weekend….. markets, photos and cocktails

WHAT an amazing weekend! I’m shattered after doing so much, but it was all so worth it. Adam and I had our dear friend Hannah to stay, and so we made sure we crammed as much in as possible. There are lots of things I’d like to share individually, so for now I’ll just give you the lowdown….as soon as I get chance I’ll be back to tell you more about the things in bold in detail!

After a lazy start and a bit of a lie-in, Adam and I trundled down the road on Saturday morning towards Judy’s Affordable Vintage fair at Old Spitalfields. On our way though, we decided to pop into the Adnams shop, which is actually one of the shops on the outer edge of the market…..I’d read about their new eau de vie de biere ‘Spirit of Broadside’ on Domestic Sluttery, and wanted to try for myself! I’d never been in before, because I’d foolishly presumed that it’s just a shop full of beers (although I do really rate their beers, that said) but inside it’s actually an incredibly well-stocked wine shop. As well as a great range of wines, home wares and other bits and bobs, there are actually several Adnams spirits for sale…I had no idea that they have their own distillery and make vodka, gin, limoncello and other treats! Anyway, suffice to say for now, we very much enjoyed trying out lots of things, and came out with a bottle of Spirit of Broadside!

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After getting a bit tipsy on samples, we headed inside to the indoor market, and set about snooping the many vintage stalls. There were a few that we recognised, and I was very, very tempted to buy several little Hornsea pottery deer, but it wasn’t quite as good as when we’ve been before. I did however pic up a very lovely floral dish for just a pound! But we couldn’t potter about all day…..we popped across to Brick Lane for some provisions, and on the way finally got around to trying Nude Esperesso next to the Truman Brewery, buying a couple of very good macchiatos and a bag of beans to take home.

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Back at home by mid afternoon, I set about making the flat ready for our visitor, and we prepared our breakfast for the next morning…. I’d been inspired by a post on The Cake Hunter earlier in the week, and decided to make us all cinnamon whirls for Sunday morning breakfast. I actually ended up adapting a couple of recipes to make banana and cinnamon whirls in the end….I made the dough and filling, and put them together in the tray ready to bake first thing in the morning. It all smelled wonderful as I prepared it, so I was most excited to bake them on Sunday!

Before long though it was time to pick Hannah up from the tube station, and for our first adventure we took her to our local, the Oliver Conquest. We only recently discovered that they serve over fifty different gins, so it has fast become a favourite of ours! We all dutifully sampled a gin each…. the Geranium gin (for Hannah), the Hayman’s (for me) and the Old Raj (for Adam). It was a great way to start our evening, sat on the big comfy sofa with drinks, chatting and catching up.

Next, we made our way to Brick Lane where we met up with friends Richard and Tara for a curry. Hannah had never been before, so we’d prepared her for the usual….lots of salesy people out on the street trying to lure you into their respective restaurants with various deals. We decided we wanted to make our way at least half way down the road before choosing somewhere, as we often get over excited and choose the first or second place we come across! And we made it a good way along before heading inside a restaurant where we’d been promised Lychee Lassis!

After the meal, we headed just around the corner to what is probably one of my top three places to drink….. I was told about Lounge Bohemia just after it opened a few years ago. A colleague had worked with the owner, so I was told a little about this fantastic bunker of a bar which served totally out of this world cocktails. Just as well really, as I’m not sure I’d ever have found out about it otherwise! There’s no flashy website to draw you in, and you HAVE to book (there’s a no suits policy too!), but this gives the place a feeling of accessible exclusivity….it’s really not just a bar, but (forgive me) a drinking experience. As usual, we were treated to exemplary service, and THE most incredible cocktails available to man. I won’t give away too much before writing the visit up properly though!

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After our fairly late night (and the copious amounts of booze we’d gotten through), we have another fairly lazy morning on Sunday. I was pretty smug that I’d prepared the cinnamon whirls already though, so they just got brushed with honey and baked for about 20 minutes before we scoffed them alongside the Nude Espresso coffee we’d bought the day before. Then, well fed, we began the walk to Columbia Road flower market. Unfortunately, only half way there, the skies opened and we had to take refuge in Old Spitalfields. Still, it’s not a bad place to while away an hour whilst waiting for the rain to desist, and it was good to show Hannah around. We had started to flag already though, before the rain had even stopped, so we took up a nice spot in the covered terrace of The Luxe. I felt rather better for one of their ‘Veggie’ juice blends, and so with the rain stopped and our energy levels boosted, we finally set off again towards the flower market.

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It was a leisurely, meandering walk there, just because there were so many eye-catching things to photograph, including lots of very cool street art. Nevertheless, we made it there in good time really, and immediately immersed ourselves in the street market. Columbia Road is taken up every Sunday for the famous flower market, and sellers line each side of the road with stalls bearing stacks of fresh cut flowers, herbs, gardening stuff and pot plants. In fact, it’s a mecca for the bargain botanical, and I found myself wishing I had a garden to plant lots of the treasures in. Even if you don’t though, you can pick up amazing steals such as a huge bunch of sunflowers for just a fiver.

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Behind the stalls, there are lots of lovely shops to root about in (handy when it started to rain again!), including Ryan Town, the Rob Ryan shop, which I’ve been wanting to go to for ages. There are also some gorgeous nick-nack shops (my favourite the pretty boutique shared by Buddug and Jessie Chorley) as well as some amazing antique and vintage shops (I was in my element at Vintage Heaven with piles and piles of lovely vintage china!). There is also a little vintage market one road over on Ezra Street, as well as several (very packed) places to eat.

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We opted to make our way back towards Brick Lane though, and stopped in at Benets Ice Cream Parlour for a much needed sugar fix. After being served a rather disappointing Tiramisu, I was given a rather better Rocky Road by the nice man who agreed that the former didn’t taste of anything much. We wandered along Brick Lane with our ice creams and had a snoop about some of the markets. I was very pleased that I Shoot Film were there again, as I’ve been seeing their incredible horse photo for ages and knew Hannah would love it….and in fact, she bought it! We were seriously weary by that time though, and so it was home for a cuppa, and shortly afterwards Hannah made her way home to Hitchin.

Supper was going to have to be pretty filling and very quick and easy, so I roasted up some pumpkin and made a very simple risotto. It was so yummy, despite its simplicity, so I’ll be sure to share the recipe here soon. After that, we were only fit to slob on the sofa watching a film, before we fell into bed for an early night.

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Amazing times!

Hope you had a great weekend too!

Ems x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something from the weekend….. Hitchcock, street markets and bubble tea

So I’ve been thinking about changing up my blogging routine a little, and posting about the adventures I get up to at the weekends separately, so that the posts are quicker to read and easier to find the things you’re interested in. As ever though, I’m really keen to hear any thoughts you have about this, as well as your preferences and suggestions.

This weekend I….. enjoyed an open air viewing of Hitchcock’s ‘Blackmail’ at the British Museum, as part of the Genius of Hitchcock festival and the London Festival of 2012 (you can read about that here)……. discovered the amazing Maltby Street Market and a bunch of antiques warehouses in South East London (more here)….. explored the Rugby Ralph Lauren shop, which I now LOVE…… met up with my oldest friend (as in I’ve known her the longest, not that she’s old!) and helped her try out bubble tea for the first time…… ate one of my favourite breakfasts (fresh strawberries, raspberries, grapes, banana and apricots with Rachel’s Vanilla Yoghurt)….. pottered about Old Spitalfields Market, buying up some treasures to make things with….. and ate a big cheese board whilst watching the Wimbledon mens’ final!

Brilliant weekend!

Hope you enjoyed yours?!

Ems x

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Something from the weekend…. Saturday morning breakfast at The Wolseley

There were more yummy treats in store on Saturday, as we made our way quite early to the decadent Wolseley on Piccadilly for a posh breakfast. I’ve been wanting to go there for years, and breakfast is a bit of an institution there, so Adam thoughtfully suggested we use the excuse of my birthday to finally go! You’re not allowed to take photos in there, so I don’t have any to share, but you can see just how gorgeous it is in the photos on their website and in this lovely book that I would recommend too. In fact, there’s lots on their shop that I recognise from our visit…. I want it all! (links below for my favourites!)….

I started with a pot of their delicious Earl Grey tea (which was presented with this highly covetable strainer) whilst Adam tried there Noisette coffee (seriously impressive!). Then to eat I chose the Kedgeree as I never have it, and Adam went for the French Toast with creme fraiche, blueberries and compote. My dish came with a perfectly poached egg on top and was absolutely gorgeous…. the fish was super tasty and the whole thing beautifully cooked and seasoned. Adam’s was rather impressive too, in fact he said that it got better with every bite! I finished up with a delicious double espresso as I was pretty full, but Adam took on their Wolseley Imperial coffee which is made with mandarin Napoleon and Cognac, long espresso, hot milk, cream and chocolate….lush!

The service is reputably impeccable there and I wasn’t disappointed…. all the staff were very attentive despite it being very busy. I was also lucky enough to be brought a chocolate brioche birthday cake, complete with a little plaque to wish me happy birthday…. I was really too full to do even half of it justice, but between the two of us we yummed it down as it was too tasty to leave! I left the little garnish and plaque, so our waiter kindly offered to pop it into a box for me and I happily took away a very posh doggy bag! You can also pick up a postcard next to the cloakroom, which if you write at the table the staff will post for you free of charge! All in all it was a wonderful experience and I hope to be able to go again!

From there, we took a wander along Piccadilly and then Jermyn Street…. Adam is in the market for summer blazer and there’s nowhere better to shop for that as far as I know! After he’d tried a few on and started up a short list, we walked to Trafalgar Square where we took in a little of the West End Live performance of Wicked….. I do love the song Defying Gravity and would definitely recommend going to see the show itself!

Then we popped into the National Gallery to see their new Titian acquisition and to have a little snoop about…. I’ve not been for ages and after my trip to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris the other week, I was in the mood to see more. It was fun to go there for the first time with Adam and show him some of my favourites…especially the Turners which I am very passionate about.

Made with love: Simple Sunday brunch

After the traditional Sunday lie in today, I was ready for something hearty to eat…. we did a lot of walking about yesterday so I had quite the appetite after a long sleep! Luckily I had in all the ingredients for one of my all time favourite brunches….. I adore a poached egg on a muffin, and mushrooms on toast almost as much. And so when I saw this dish on a menu in a Blackheath Cafe many years ago, I couldn’t resist. I’ve made it at home lots since…. it’s a wonderfully quick, easy and satisfying brunch, and because it’s a little different it feels a bit classy too!

Poached egg and mushrooms with pesto

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Ingredients (enough for one serving)

  • Large free range egg
  • About four medium sized chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • Two dessert spoons of pesto
  • One dessert spoon of olive oil
  • One really good, fresh English muffin (Duchy Originals ones are the best I’ve found, and are twice the thickness of the regular ones!)
  • A knob of butter

How to put it together

  1. Heat the butter in a small frying pan and then add the mushrooms, cooking until softened
  2. In the mean time, poach your egg until cooked but with a runny yoke (essential!)
  3. And whilst that’s cooking, slice your muffin in half and toast lightly on each side
  4. Butter the muffin once toasted (if you like)
  5. Pop the pesto into a smallish bowl and drizzle in the oil…. mix them together to slacken the pesto so that you can pour it
  6. Once everything is ready, pop your egg on one side of the muffin and the mushrooms on the other, then drizzle over the pesto

Easy huh?!

Something from the weekend….. May Day Bank Holiday

So they promised us a weekend free of rain. They lied. Still, I did manage to pack in plenty this weekend (thanks to the very welcome extra day!)…..

On Friday evening we did an early shop at Waitrose to stock up for the weekend, and then made Keralan fish curry for supper. I love the idea of a traditional fish supper on a Friday, especially when I get the chance to buy up some lovely fresh fish to cook right away.

Keralan Fish Curry

There were more culinary treats on Saturday morning, when Adam took me on a date for breakfast at The Luxe. I’m not quite sure how it was a date, other than that we called it that. I guess we just decided that we’d not been on a ‘date’ for ages, but then we realised we’re always going out for fun adventures so we don’t really need to! I rather over ate at breakfast with a full English (wish I’d gone for Eggs Benedict like Adam!) and so I was a little sluggish as we headed around Old Spitalfields Market for Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair. I did manage to pick up lots of treasure though…. some gorgeous vintage buttons, several old keys to make into charms, a folding silver cake stand and a little glass footed bowl. I love treasure hunting!

Treasure finds

Vintage Buttons

Old keys

Despite the rain, we decided to walk from there down to Whitechapel and wander through the street market. I’ve only ever dashed past so it was good to have a proper snoop about all the fruit and fashion stalls. From there we dropped into the huge Sainsbury’s there to get Adam’s Kraken rum (we can’t get it nearer to us)….. what should have been a quick stop before home turned into a full on shop because the place is so temptingly big. We picked up pink and a green swing top bottles to put some of our flavoured vodkas in, as well as some custard slices to have with tea back at home. And we were glad of them too, by the time we got home weary and wet!

Custard Slice

For dinner we made a yummy veggie stir fry, then watched UP. I’ve not seen it since the cinema, and have rather avoided it if I’m honest because I got so emotional watching it. But I thought the time had finally come when I could handle it…. but no. I was a blithering wreck from just two minutes in. It is the most beautiful and funny film, but if you’re planning on seeing it for the first time, seriously, make sure you have plenty of tissues ready.

On Sunday we were out and about again, heading to Somerset House to see the Kokoro exhibition. On show were lots of stunning paintings on silk, by Japanese master Horiyoshi III. Each piece, based on Japanese myths and legends, encapsulated ‘kokoro’, which means the heart or meaning of things. The craftsmanship is incredible and had me inspired to try painting on silk…. as well as maybe painting some dragons!

Whilst there, we also dropped in to see the Wendy Ramshaw exhibition called ‘Room of Dreams’. One of Britain’s leading contemporary artists, Ramshaw is primarily known for her distinctive jewellery design, but has more recently gained acclaim for her larger scale public art work. The exhibition houses work from the last fifty years, including maquettes of her designs for the Hyde Park Gates. I was delighted to see some pieces of jewellery using found treasures like old watch faces and keys….. in fact there were several pieces that reminded me of my own designs. And there was certainly plenty to take from her work in terms of inspiration too.

At Somerset House

Somerset House

From there we sauntered through Covent Garden (eyeing up the goodies in Hope and Greenwood and finding a dreadfully loud experiential marketing attraction by HTC right in front of the Opera House) and had a look around the pretty craft and art stalls to get more ideas for my own. We popped into Joules off Long Acre (I’ve been eyeing up this skirt) before heading through China Town and over to Piccadilly to get ourselves some bubble tea at the wonderful Bubbleology (I had hot taro with tapioca pearls and Adam had a blend of cocoa and vanilla). Then it was up to Carnaby Street, which we’d only planned to walk through on our way to Liberty…… but somehow I managed to get the blame for Adam’s buying up of three pairs of shoes! We spent an age in Onitsuka Tiger choosing two pairs of trainers for him, and then it was a quick purchase at Converse (he knew he just wanted a red pair).

At Bubbleology

Bubble Tea!

We finally got to Liberty where we had a snoop about the amazing jewellery and handbag rooms, the basement (where I’ve never been before because it’s just boy stuff) and the wonderful stationery shop. And after that we needed a coffee to help us home, so we tried for the first time the Speakeasy Coffee Shop just off Carnaby Street who made me a gorgeous latte.

Bunting at Liberty

Speakeasy Coffee

Once home we began preparations for a yummy sunday roast…… we wanted to use some of the veg we’d saved up from our Abel and Cole box, plus we had some very good nut roast to go with it. The biggest triumph of the meal was perhaps the butter-fried flat beans and kohl rabi. Lush!

Sunday Roast

We finished up a lovely Sunday by watching Sabrina, one of my favourite Audrey Hepburn films (and the first film Adam and I ever watched together!).

And thanks to the bank holiday, Monday began with a nice long lie in, before I continued with the Spring clean. By lunch time I deserved something filling and yummy, so with our new veggie box delivered (cue another bout of rummaging, sniffing and getting excited about the contents!) we put together a delicious fresh salad for lunch. Then it was back to sprucing up the flat until it was time to make supper (Char Siu pork, which was AMAZING!). I managed to fit in a little testing and prep for some new jewellery I’m making, before slobbing out on the sofa to start the second series of The Wire. I started to fall asleep towards the end of the second episode, so it was a relatively early night to finish a jam-packed weekend.

Super yummy salad

Char Siu Pork

Hope you enjoyed the long weekend too!

Ems x

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!!!!

Something from the weekend….. a trip oop North

PLEASE NOTE!! I’ve had to remove all the images from this post for a bit due to technomalogical weirdness. They will be back when I have figured it out! Ems

 

 

I’ve just awoken from a rather long lie in (I should explain that it’s ‘now’ 09:30, as I’ll inevitably become distracted by tea, crumpets and the need for a shower before I actually manage to publish this). It’s not my fault though….I was catching up from a weekend of adventuring and fun….I needed it!
My weekend started on Friday evening….. we headed out to the cinema to see The Descendants on an early showing and I thoroughly enjoyed this gorgeous film, which is so very funny, clever, and also tear-inducingly sad. It’s about a dysfunctional family trying to deal with a crisis, and coming together as they do so. George Clooney’s performance as the dad is unsurprisingly wonderful, really hilarious at times but also very touching. It’s probably the most ‘real’ thing I’ve seen in a while, and I know I’ll want to watch it again.
After a supper of veggie stew, it was time for an early night….as early on Saturday morning we toddled off to Kings Cross to catch the train oop North. We were off to Newcastle to celebrate my friend Hannah’s 30th Birthday, and I was super excited to be going to visit, and to see her new house too. We’d brought along a flask of coffee, which I drank alongside choccy biscuits and a yummy free range egg sandwich. The train journey is not short (I grumbled the whole three hours journey about how Newcastle is too far away), but I managed to entertain myself typing up notes from a recent exhibition and gazing out of the window. I noticed for the first time just how many gorgeous and huge churches there are alongside this route…..it seemed every town we stopped at (Peterbrough, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham)  has an amazingly imposing church in its centre, none more so than the last we passed at Durham which sits atop its hill, dwarfing the pretty town around it.

 

We arrived over one of the excellent bridges on the Tyne, looking down the river to see The Sage and the Millennium Bridge, and after a quick bus ride and proudly finding Hannah’s, arrived ready for cups of tea and a tour of the house. After a little sit and catch up, we took the bus back into town for a wander…. Mhairi needed her eyebrows doing so we popped into Fenwicks and did some browsing (mainly looking at expensive make up and its drool inducing packaging) whilst waiting for her. Next it was a root around in TK Maxx (Mhairi, I still think you should have bought that dinosaur garden sculpture), before we headed back to the house for a nails and make up session, and pizza to ready us for our night out.

A short taxi ride took us to Mr Lynch, a wonderfully retro bar, decorated with 70s prints, wallpaper and furniture. Mhairi and Jamie surprised Hannah by secretly arranging for a friend to come along, whom Hannah had met through Twitter but not in person yet….. her and her hubby are absolute darlings and Hannah was so delighted to meet them (as were we actually).  Adam and I chose the Old Fashioned from the lengthy cocktail menu, and waited the full ten minutes our attentive bar man swirled and mixed them to perfection. Delicious as they were, we decided to stick with the whisky but opted for rather quicker to mix cocktails…. the Manhattan (my old favourite) wasn’t quite made to my taste so it was Whisky Sours I drank the night away with. And so it was only a matter of time before I was up and dancing to Aretha Franklin, and lamenting my choice of footwear. However, a wonderful night ended with a chip-run and more girly chatting before I crashed out on an air bed.

 

 After lying in for a good while, Adam and I woke up the others with cups of tea, and a first breakfast of doughnuts (as well as the premier of my video of Mhairi and Hannah performing Proud Mary the night before….I’m convinced it will be an internet sensation if only I can work out how to get it on there). We all craved something rather more savoury after the doughnuts, and headed into town for a fry up. By the time we’d eaten though it was time for us to catch our train home, so we stocked up on snacks for the journey and hugged everyone goodbye. I knew I wasn’t going to be at all productive on this journey, so my laptop I’d taken along to ‘work’ on just became a DVD player as we watched a few more episodes of The Killing (we recently started season one and I’m just getting hooked). That, and a bumper bag of giant chocolate buttons helped me stay awake until we got back, and we settled on the sofa with a supper of noodles to watch a film.

Adam got Summer Wars on blu ray ages ago, but we’ve just not gotten around to watching it. I was too tired to watch the subtitled version, which we’d usually prefer, but the dubbed version was wonderful enough…. it’s the kind of film I can’t believe they haven’t made before, but at the same time it’s so different and original. To summarise (without spoilers) two friends make their way to a family reunion, only for one of them to be implicated in an internet hack….. the rest of the film is a fabulously fun story of how they ‘made everything right again’, the action taking place half ‘for real’ at the family reunion, and half in a a virtual reality where the characters become heroes in avatar form. We absolutely loved this film, and Adam even commented it may make his top ten. It was exactly the feel-good, easy watch we needed before we popped off to bed with a Horlicks.

What a brilliant weekend!

How was yours….?

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.