Lifestyle: Happy Things #41

Another Monday, another Happy Things diary! This last fornight has been a mix of being super-busy at work, some relaxing weekends and a lot of evenings spent resting a pulled neck (so painful!). Having said that, there’s still a lot to be happy about…

    1. White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies. The perfect balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy. Recipe coming soon!
    2. BBQs and gatherings with friends. I’m not a football fan at all, but the World Cup at least gives people the excuse to get together a bit more and I’m totally okay with that.
    3. Red Onion and Goat’s Cheese Quiche. It’s currently baking as I type, it smells *amazing* and I’m looking forward to it making up my lunchboxes this week.
    4. Having a bit of an Instagram clear-out. So many accounts I don’t remember following, or just don’t have any major interest any more. It’s meant my feed is full of content I actually want to see, so I’m engaging more. Win win.
    5. Fresh mackerel. It’s one of my favourite fishes and it’s *so* cheap to get hold of. This weekend we pan-fried some in a harissa glaze which was delish!
    6. Gaining a tortilla press. I’ve made homemade tortilla wraps previously but struggle to get an even thickness so I’m looking forward to giving this a go.
    7. Homemade burritos. We piled green rice, refried beans, pork pibil and cheese into wraps and heated in the oven. They were huge, naughty and absolutely delicious.
    8. Enjoying the above whilst watching the Lego Movie. Everything is awesome!
    9. My fiance passing his Masters degree – we celebrated with pizza and wine, then he caught up on some much needed sleep. I’ll hopefully be sharing some of his final project on my Instagram page soon so stay tuned…
    10. Managing to nail a copy-cat recipe of Bella Italia’s Pollo Siciliana. I skipped the chicken, but it was virtually spot-on and absolutely delicious. One I’ll be making again and again…

What’s made you happy this week?

Food: 5 Quick & Easy Pasta Recipes

I’ve mentioned it many, many times, but pasta is a go-to dish for us – as I’m sure it is for a lot of household. I mean, what’s not to love?! Endless combinations, quick to cook, child-friendly. It’s the perfect after-work dinner and it’s no wonder we rely on it quite so much!

That said, we’ve spent the last year or so trying to branch out a little from our usual pasta dishes. We had a couple of go-tos – pesto pasta, carbonara, mac’n’cheese. None overly healthy, all lacking vegetables. That’s certainly changed now, here’s just five of our favourite quick and easy pasta recipes.

Fennel Pasta

This is something completely different, however the crunch of the fennel, the aniseed flavour, saltiness from parmesan and silky smooth pasta are a wonderful combination. You can find my recipe here.

Carbonara

A classic Carbonara is my ultimate pasta dish. A thick, rich and creamy sauce made entirely from egg (no cream in sight!), filled with plenty of cheese, freshly cracked black pepper and crispy bacon. It’s utterly delicious and I aim to always, always keep the necessary ingredients in our kitchen.

My recipe is simple – cook the pasta according to pack instructions, and fry cubed bacon in a little butter. Beat an egg in a mug (1 egg for two people, for one person just use the yolk, for a richer carbonara for two use two egg yolks) and add a handful of parmesan. Sometimes I also add a sprinkling of cheddar for extra richness. Beat together. Sowly add 4-5 tablespoons of the hot pasta water to the egg mixture, beating constantly – this should melt the cheese. Once the pasta is done drain (reserving a little water) and add to the bacon pan with a lot of black pepper. Remove from the heat and toss together, then gradually add the egg mixture. Toss constantly, adding a little pasta water if it starts to scramble. Serve immediately with extra parmesan.

Mushroom & Lentil Tomato-Free Bolognese

A traditional meat Bolognese is delicious, I can’t deny it, but it really needs a good hour or two simmering time to make the flavours really sing. This vegan version is quicker, once the lentils are added it needs just 20 or so minutes for them to soften.

Simply follow my recipe for Tomato-Free Bolognese, but add diced mushrooms to the onion/celery/carrot mixture. Instead of the mince, add in red lentils, then just simmer until these are cooked.

Courgette & Pea Summer Pasta with Lemon & Feta

This is my favourite pasta dish for the summer. It’s light, it’s fresh, it’s ready in just 15 minutes. It’s packed full of green veg, yet the use of the feta keeps the comfort food element that’s so important in pasta dishes. Full recipe here.

Caramelised Onion & Goat’s Cheese Pasta

This is the comforting, I-need-cheesy-carbs dish. The dish you want to curl up on the sofa with, fork in hand, blanket over feet and watch a girly film with. This is the dish I turn to if I want to cook a pasta dish that will make me feel instantly better. You can see my full recipe here, but in essence it is softened red onions, caramelised with thyme, honey and balsamic vinegar, stirred into pasta with soft goat’s cheese and plenty of seasoning. Served on a bed of rocket and scattered with walnuts it both tastes wonderful and looks impressive.

And with that, I know what I’m having for dinner tonight. Pasta. Now I just need to decide which recipe to use…

Are you a pasta fan? What’s your go-to recipe?

Cooking From: Bolognese Baked Eggs (Toast Hash Roast Mash by Dan Doherty)

The subtitle of this book is “Real Food for Every Time of Day” – it’s the type of food Dan (executive chef of Duck & Waffle) likes to eat at home and, quite frankly, if he eats like this I’d be happy to move in with him tomorrow. This book is basically a book of comfort food under many guises – there’s pancakes, there’s things to top toast with, there’s sweet things, there’s savoury things. Most dishes are designed for breakfast or brunch, but can really be eaten any time of day.

Whilst we haven’t cooked that many dishes out of this book, it’s one we turn to again and again for inspiration. It’s a joy to read, one of those cookbooks that makes you feel cozy and comforted. In fact reading it again for this review made me realise just how many recipes I want to make!

Chapters are On Toast, Eggs, Hash, Eggs Over Easy, Pancakes, Hangover, Savoury, Sides & Salas, Sweets and Drinks. Basically there’s something for anyone, something for every occasion. There’s jams, homemade nutella, cocktails, instructions to make the best pancakes. And recipes I want to try? Around 99% of them! I won’t list every single one, but top of my list? Dan’s take on Egg’s Benedict featuring a saltbeef bagel and mustard hollandaise. It sounds amazing! The recipe for a Black Pudding Hash made with leftover roast potatoes sounds like the stuff of dreams. But it’s the Hangover chapter which really gets me excited. Scotch Bhaji (basically a scotch egg, with runny yolk, encased in an onion bhaji). The Patty Melt, merging a grilled cheese sandwich with a burger. I’m slobbering at the thought.

However it’s an altogether more simpler recipe I’m featuring here today, and one I’ve simplified even more from the book. Taken from the Eggs chapter, this recipe takes bolognese (see my tomato-free bolognese recipe here, but use your favourite), adds heat in the form of harissa, then nestles in lightly poached eggs, covers in cheese and then bakes. The result is a hug in a dish. It’s warming, spicy, gooey from the eggs, and perfect served with a mound of toast or some freshly baked pitta bread.

Recipe (Serves 2)

  • 2 generous portions of bolognese (I’d veer on the side of too much here!)
  • 1 tsp harissa, or more to taste
  • 4 eggs
  • 100g gruyere cheese

Simply heat the bolognese with the harissa until hot. Lightly poach the eggs until they are just firm enough to remove from the water. Spoon the bolognese mixture into a baking dish, nestle in the eggs and sprinkle over the cheese. Bake at 180C for around 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Serve with plenty of bread for dipping.

It may not be in the hangover section, but I’d certainly be prepared to bet that this would  cure any hangover!

Are you a brunch fan? What’s your go-to at home weekend brunch?

Recipe: Lemon & Olive Oil Cake

Despite being a self-confession chocoholic, my go-to flavouring for a cake is lemon. There’s something about a zingy sponge, perhaps filled with a vibrant curd or topped with a crunchy drizzle glaze, that just makes my heart sing and tastebuds dance.

I usually make a lemon drizzle cake (recipe will be coming soon), but this is something a little different. This cake is smarter, it’s perfect for a dinner party dessert served with zest creme fraiche and raspberries, but it’s also delicious with a cup of tea. As it’s not too sweet, I confess I’ve also enjoyed it for a lazy weekend breakfast with some yoghurt! It’s a super moist cake with a tender crumb, a whack of lemony zing and subtle grassy flavours of olive oil.

Speaking of the olive oil, I used Terre Di San Vito*. I’ve been using this olive oil for the past month or two, and I have to say it’s good. It’s grassy and well-flavoured, without being overly harsh at the back of your throat. It makes wonderful salad dressings, and I’ve enjoyed far too much of it served simply with bread and some balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Back to the cake. It’s super simple to make, though does require some careful folding and a decent hand whisk or stand mixer. But really it’s hardly any effort at all, especially as I’ve simplified the method compared to many similar recipes I’d found – this gal ain’t got time for separating eggs and whisking whites and yolks individually!

Recipe (Makes 8 generous slices, 10 more dainty ones)

  • 5 medium eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (roughly one lemon)
  • 125g plain flour, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 50g icing sugar, for dusting

Using stand mixer (you could do it by hand, but you’ll be exhausted afterwards), beat the eggs and sugar on high until the mixture is fluffy and has doubled in volume (it took just over 6 minutes in my KitchenAid). While the eggs and sugar are mixing, in a separate bowl measure the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest and whisk together.

Using a spatula, fold in the olive oil and lemon juice into the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture. Fold until the flour disappears, but be careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter into a greased and lined 9 inch cake tin, and bake for 40-45 minutes at 175C until the top is a light golden brown and a skewed poked in comes out clean. Sift over some icing sugar before serving, to decorate.

Told you it was an easy cake recipe! I find this one is best eaten the day after baking, as it gets slightly more moister and almost sticky as it sits. I think it would be the perfect cake to take along to a summery BBQ…

*I received two bottles of Terre Di San Vito olive oil to promote on my Instagram page. No blog post was required, and all opinions are (as ever!) my own. No money exchanged hands in this collaboration. 

Have you ever tried baking with olive oil?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #40

Ok, so I know I’m always saying how quickly time is going, but how the actual F is it June already?! It’s now just over four months until our wedding, it’s basically only six months until Christmas, and I’m closer to 25 than 24 (doesn’t that sound SO much older!). 2018 has quite literally sped by, and in part I’m thankful. I don’t want to wish away the summer, but I’m so excited for October to roll around so I can get on with marrying my best friend, I’ve waited long enough already! Of course, it helps when each fortnight is full of delicious food and happy memories…

    1. Mexican Food. I’m really loving Mexican at the moment – chillis, tacos, spicy salads. We’ve made our Pork Pibil recently (and I’ve eaten more than my fair share of Pink Pickled Onions), and I also whipped up some spicy grilled chicken with insanely tasty potatoes and slaw inspired by our Wahaca book. Another one for my Cooking From series I think…
    2. Getting our wedding invites out. It took a lot of hours, nearly 50m of ribbon and 6 papercuts, but I was really pleased with them, and seeing/hearing our friends and families reactions has been lovely. Roll on October!
    3. A trip to Honest Burger. Still my fav burger in London – what’s yours?
    4. Suddenly liking Avocado. I think I mentioned this last fortnight, but up until a month or so ago I didn’t touch avo. Hated it. Now I can’t get enough! Whether it’s in a salsa (piled into a taco of course!), or on toast with feta and chilli flakes, it’s my current go-to food. So yum.
    5. Honeymoon shopping! After a disastrous trip to Westfield I’ve made a couple of successful online orders. What’s with the size discrepancy in Zara though?! Ended up with one dress in an XS, and one in a L…
    6. A really good frittata. We followed a recipe in this month’s Delicious magazine and it was insanely good. Full of potatoes, shallots, a lightly set egg and topped with gooey mozzarella. We served with a radicchio and salami salad, then I enjoyed it in my lunchbox for a few days. Will be making again for sure!
    7. Receiving all the dog photos from my parents. They picked up a rescue dog to add to the family last weekend, and so far (touch wood!) he’s settling in really well. We’d actually been looking, on and off, for ten years to add to our family so it’s about time!
    8. Chocolate Brioche Twists for Sunday brunch. Check out my Instagram page for how they looked.
    9. The Netflix series Safe. Anyone else watching? I’m hooked!
    10. Planning my not-hen do. My friends and mum have planned my main one, but I’m also having a mini one with my grandmas and future in-laws (girls only!) closer to the wedding. Obviously it will involve bubbles and cake!

What’s made you smile recently?

Recipe: 5-Ingredient Summer Vegetable Pasta with Lemon & Feta

You know me, I love a pasta dish if I’m in need of comfort food. Carbonara, Mac’n’Cheese, a big bowl of no-tomato Bolognese. All perfect comfort foods, but they can be a bit heavy and a bit too much to cook in the summer heat. No-one wants a pan of Bolognese simmering for 2 hours when it’s hot and sunny outside! This pasta dish is the perfect alternative.

The combination of the feta starting to melt into the hot pasta keeps the level of comfort food, yet the abundance of green vegetables and lemony flavours keep it summery. Some of the pasta is replaced with courgette, making the dish lighter, and the slight al dente texture of the peas adds another element.

In short, this is the perfect hot weather comfort food.

Recipe (serves 2)

  • 140g pasta, spaghetti or linguine works well here
  • 2-3 courgettes, peeled into strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 50g peas
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 25g feta

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, adding the peas for the last 3-4 minutes. Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Meanwhile spread the courgette strips out as much as possible onto a baking tray, season with a little salt and roast for 5-7 minutes at 180C.

Return the pasta and peas to their pan, and add the courgette along with a good grind of black pepper. Toss together, adding a little pasta water, then stir through the zest and juice of the lemon. Keep tossing togethe,r adding more water, until everything is evenly combined. Drizzle with a little olive oil, if you have any to hand, then pile into bowls and crumble over the feta.

A super easy pasta dish with summery flavours, ready in under 15 minutes. Perfect for hot evenings when you just want to be lazing around in the garden!

What’s your go-to pasta dish?

Review: Wyld Cocktail-Based Afternoon Tea @ Dandelyan, Mondrian London

Up until recently I’ve shied away from the idea of enjoying an afternoon tea in London, because damn can those menus get expensive. However a promise of a fancy afternoon tea for my mum’s Christmas present but the pressure on and, after much research, I booked us in for the not-quite-so-traditional Wyld Tea at Dandelyan, in the ground floor of the Mondrian London hotel.

Based on the Southbank (the location is perfect for people-watching, particularly if you manage to get a window table), and with a lovely view of the River Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral, Dandelyan is an award-winning cocktail bar. It’s also one of the lovliest places to spend a few hours. The area is full of comfortable sofas with their own tables, each slightly tucked away and private without loosing the buzz of the bar. We arrived at 1pm and it was nice and quiet (wonderful for the all-important Instagram shot) but it got quite busy from around 2pm onwards – so if you wanted a quieter afternoon tea I’d recommend booking for noon. Service was also wonderful – friendly without being pushy, attentive without being over-bearing.

Dandelyan offers 3 choices for afternoon tea – the ‘sober’ version coming with just a pot of tea, (£35) the champagne option (£45) and the Wyld Tea. At £55 per person the Wyld tea includes 4 cocktails each, a full pot of tea, as well as three plates of afternoon tea delights. It’s an inventive menu, with the delicious 1970’s inspired sweet and savoury treats having a subtle botanical influence throughout. The cocktails are also perfectly matched – I was concerned that as we enjoyed the food the cocktails would taste less and less delicious, but this was far from true. All the elements of the menu complemented each other perfectly.

We started with our first cocktail, the Fluff & Fold Royale. This was a short-style cocktail of Lime, Fresh Basil, Cacao Liqueur, Orange Bitters and Prosecco Served with Marshmallow and Pistachio Powder. Whilst it actually didn’t smell great at all, we found it delicious. The zing of the citrus and slight bitterness coming through really whetted our appetite. It was also nicely strong too – they certainly don’t skimp on alcohol measures!

Our choice of tea was served alongside the first cocktail. My mum, being the Northerner she is, went for the standard English breakfast tea which she said was delicious, although we did have to ask for sugar to be served alongside. I went with their Zest Tea, which was a fragrant blend of lemongrass and ginger. Light, tasty and delicious alongside the rest of the food and drink!

Our savoury food course came next along with our second cocktail – the Knoll House Cup was a longer cocktail, served iced cold, made up of Martini Ambrato, Italicus, Creme de Melon and Cardamom. This was a delicious cocktail! Not sweet in the slightest, it was refreshing and very easily drinkable. And of course, the food matched up to the cocktails. We had a couple of different dishes due to our different allergies, but between us ate:

  • Scottish Smoked Salmon, Rock Samphire, Brown Shrimp, Candied Orange Butter Sandwich
  • Lyan Lager Braised Bacon Jam, Confit Suffolk Chicken Pin-wheel
  • Elderflower Compressed Cucumber, Burnt Herb Cream, Rocket Sandwich
  • Ham Hock & Piccalilli Vegetable Butter, Mustard Cress Sandwich
  • Mushroom Toast
  • Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Sandwich

All were slightly different variations on the more traditional elements of an afternoon tea, but all were delicious. It’s quite possible they’ve spoilt a more normal afternoon tea for me!

The Salmon sandwich was as fresh as can be, with the orange butter adding a luxurious layer of flavour. The shrimp added a bit of much-needed texture, although my mum did note that with it being a double-decker sandwich the texture of the smoked salmon was perhaps a bit overwelming.

It’s clear that top-quality ingredients are used here, and it was highly evident in the cucumber sandwich. Utterly delicious, it was a subtle combination of flavours that I could have eaten again and again. I love cucumber sandwiches anyway, but I’ll be looking to re-create the smoky and floral notes that Dandelyan managed to achieve.

I also really enjoyed the Ham with Piccalilli Butter. The ham was meaty and succulent, and the butter added just the right about of pickle-ness without taking over. Again something I’ll definitely look to recreate at home!

My only negative was the Mushroom Toast, which I don’t believe is a regular feature on the menu (it was replacing the Leek & Goat’s Cheese Rarebit, which sounds delicious but unfortunately neither of us are able to eat it!). The Mushrooms were gorgeous and well-flavoured, the toast crunchy. However it was impossible to eat in a lady-like fashion, with both of us rather inelegantly ending up with mushrooms in our laps…oops! I would have also liked the option of refills, as I’d have definitely eaten another one or two of those cucumber sandwiches!

The sweet courses were just as delicious, though first we were given a ‘palate cleanser’ cocktail which turned out to be our favorite of the afternoon. The Spotless Peach (Ketel One Vodka, RinQuinQuin, Off-Cut Cordial, and Chalk) is hands-down the best cocktail I’d even drank, and one I’d walk a thousand miles to have again. Sweet but not overly so, it was almost like a light and fruity white wine.

There’s no scones served with the afternoon tea at Dandelyan, which may disappoint purists. However I quite often find they are my least favourite part of the experience, as they are quite often stodgy (I’ve been spoilt with my mum’s scones!), and they are also super-filling. Here, you are served an exquisite slice of Blackcurrant & Lemon Verbena Battenberg Cake. The Lemon quarters are zingy, the Blackcurrent sharp and fruity. It was quite honestly like nothing I have eaten before – but something I’d certainly want to eat again. The cake was fresh and moist, the icing sweet without being cloying.

The pastry plate was just as delicious. We felt the only slightly lack-lustre option was the Pine Scented Baked Alaska with Berries, as the two flavours didn’t quite merge together as seamlessly as we’d hoped, with the berries being overly tart and the pine slightly too strong. The rest were wonderful.

The Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse & Candied Grapefruit was almost like a posh Jaffa Cake. Chocolatey and zingy, slightly bitter, wonderfully creamy. I loved it. My highlight was the Custard Tart, which was topped with a runny caramel. It was slightly nutty and one of the most delicious little desserts I’ve eaten in a while – although a harder set to the caramel might have made it slightly easier to eat! My mum’s favourite was the Rose Blancmange & Caraway Shortbread. The biscuit base was actually quite salty, which went perfectly with the sweet rose cream on top. A stunning set of pastries!

We finished with our final cocktail, a fruity number. The Bankside Swizzle was a sweet and tart combination of Bacardi Carta Oro, Aperol, Pineapple Cordial, Citrus, and Lemon Balm. We took our time to sip on this one, still catching up with each other.

The Wyld Afternoon Tea at Dandelyan might have been my first foray into luxury afternoon teas, but it won’t be the last! This would be the perfect option for a more relaxed hen party (indeed, there were two there whilst we were), but it was also the most wonderful spot for a mother-daughter date.

Are you an afternoon tea fan? Where would you recommend? 

Cooking From: Homemade Pita Bread (James Morton’s Brilliant Bread)

Without a doubt, Brilliant Bread is my most recommended cookbook. It’s the one on my shelves that is well-thumbed, pages stiff with flour, faded with watermarks. If anyone, absolutely anyone, mentions baking their own bread to me I insist they purchase this book. It is quite simply the best book for bread making, both for beginners and beyond.

I could stop with the review and this post there, really, because I quite simply cannot sing James’ praises highly enough.

The writing style is a pleasure to read, it’s a book I can quite happily sit and cosy up with as much as bake from. He has such an excellent way of describing the bread-making process, in a way that’s both easy to understand but also extremely detailed. And the best bit? The majority of the recipes don’t require much, if any, kneading. Bread without having to get my hands dirty is a revelation, and this book alone is the reason I make my own bread so often.

Recipe (I get 10 pittas out of this, as I prefer mine slightly smaller, I quite often quarter or halve too for a small batch)

  • 200g strong white flour
  • 200g plain white flour
  • 8g salt
  • 8g yeast
  • 275g tepid water
  • flavourless oil for greasing

In a large bowl, weigh out the flour. With your fingers, rub in the salt at one edge of the bowl, and the sachet of dried yeast on the opposite side. Add the  water to the dry ingredients, and mix together until it forms a  dough (use your
dough to mop up any flour sticking to the side of the bowl). Cover your bowl with a damp tea towel
and rest in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Oil the fingertips of one hand, and forcefully fold the dough in half inside the bowl. Turn the bowl a
quarter turn, and repeat until you have removed most of the air. Cover your bowl again rest the dough for another 45 minutes, whilst your oven preheats to it’s hottest temperature (around 250C).

Tip your dough out on to a lightly oiled surface and roll into a long sausage. Chop the dough into equal pieces (Jame’s suggests 8, I go for 10). Take each piece and, using a rolling pin, roll them out until they are about half a centimetre thick. Pop straight onto a baking tray and slide into the oven, turning down the temperature to 220C as soon as they are in. Bake for 8-12 minutes depending depending on how soft or crisp you like them. They should puff up into balls and are blush with a golden colour. But even if they don’t puff up, they’ll be delicious…

Other recipes inspired by Brilliant Bread are my Bagels (which I’m now desperately craving – there’s nothing better than a homemade bagel filled with pastrami and mustard!) and Focaccia.  And in short – I highly recommend that if you want to bake bread, you buy this book. You won’t regret it!

Are you a fan of baking your own bread?

Recipe: Spicy Lamb Sausage Rolls

Aren’t sausage rolls just the perfect party or picnic food?! I’m not talking about the dubious, slightly flabby ones you can buy in Greggs (although I have to admit I have been partial to one or two of those the morning after a heavy night!), but ones fresh from the oven. A really meat filling, full of flavour, with crispy pastry that’s as buttery as it is flaky.

These are just that bit more special. Instead of the more traditional pork filling I’ve used lamb mince, which I’ve spiced up with harissa. I’ve added other spices, plus some lemon zest to add some freshness. The lamb mince is bulked out with an egg and some breadcrumbs, as the true sausage roll isn’t *too* meaty. This keeps the filling nice and moist too. Now, W likes these hot and fresh from the oven, whilst I’m a fan of them cold the next day. Either way, they’re gorgeous with a salad on the side, and also alongside a soup. I can imagine they’d be perfect next to a tomato soup, damn you allergy!

These Spicy Lamb Sausage Rolls are just wonderful – comforting pastry combined with chilli heat. I know they will be featuring in many of our picnics this summer!

Recipe – makes 8 large sausage rolls, inspired by a Waitrose recipe

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste (I use this one, it’s super spicy!)
  • 1 regular pack of lamb mince, I used around 400g
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 slice fresh bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs (around 40g worth)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 sheet of ready-rolled pastry
  • Seeds – I used a mix of sesame and poppy – for scattering over the top

First off, fry the onion along with the fennel and cumin seeds in a little oil until soft, around 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the harissa and continue to fry for another few minutes. Allow to cool completely, before mixing together with the lamb mince, lemon zest, breadcrumbs, one of the eggs and some seasoning. You’ll need to get your hands dirty to make sure the mix is full combined.

Cut the pastry in half lengthways (so you have two long strips). Form the meat mixture into two long ‘sausages’ along the middle of each piece of pastry. Brush along one edge with pastry, then roll the other edge over the top of the meat and seal together – repeat with the other piece of pastry. Slice each roll into four, then brush with plenty of beaten egg, sprinkle with seeds and bake at 200C for around 25 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

These are delicious both warm and cold – perfect for an early summer picnic! Or an indoor picnic (as in these photos) if the British weather decides to be a tad wetter than ideal!

What picnic food are you partial to?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #39

Happy Monday! As I type it’s Sunday evening I’m currently sweltering in my flat, wondering whether it’s acceptable to eat ice-cream whilst my dinner is cooking… (read: trying to justify it to myself!). I’ve had the most wonderful couple of weeks, I’m really making the most of this not-studying malarkey with plenty of plans. I have to say, though, I’m hoping for a slightly more relaxed three-day weekend next week, I’m in need of a rest!

  1. Nice Cream. I love making soft-serve style ‘ice-cream’ out of frozen bananas and a splash of milk. A weekend treat is a big bowl made with peanut butter, and topped with peanut butter cups. So, so good and just that bit kinder to my bank balance and waist-line than Ben & Jerrys!
  2. A trip to Wakehurst Place. I met my girls, we had a delicious picnic (I made a Quiche Lorraine which is one of my favourite treats), drank Shloer out of plastic champagne flutes and wandered around the gorgeous gardens. It was such a lovely day, and now I’m sorely tempted to get a National Trust membership…
  3. Steak Salad. I’ve felt a bit anemic lately, so decided a steak dinner was in order! We usually serve it with homemade chips and a whisky sauce, but lightened it up – puy lentils, roasted broccoli, asparagus, mixed salad leaves and Parmesan with a dash of balsamic vinegar. It certainty hit the spot!
  4. Re-vamping our interiors slightly. After a good spring clean I’ve switched a few things round in our flat, picked up some new bedding and generally just gave it a good old refresh. You can read some bedroom decor tips from both me and some other lovely bloggers over on this Laura Ashley post*
  5. Afternoon Tea at Dandelyan. This was my first foray into luxury afternoon teas and it was wonderful – four cocktails, the most gorgeous food and a stylish setting. A full review will be live in the next week or so but I highly recommend a trip!
  6. Shopping for honeymoon clothes – because my wedding is now less than 20 weeks away! I’ve picked up a few bits in H&M but still want some more summery dresses and skirts. Any places to look?
  7. Sorting out wedding ceremony details with our vicar. We’ve confirmed a basic running order, our hymms are virtually chosen and it’s all feeling a lot more real now. Invites are slowly going out as and when I manage to finish them off, they should all be sent by next weekend. Eeek!
  8. And speaking of weddings, how gorgeous was the Royal Wedding this weekend?! I loved the dress, the veil was insane, but what made me super-emotional was how Harry looked at his bride. Utterly fairy-tale.
  9. Gin. I’m not a fan of tonic so haven’t really drank much gin in the past, but recently I’ve been enjoying it with various other mixers. Elderflower is a good combo!
  10. I’ve managed to keep my house plants alive for a year now. I think I’m more than ready now to be responsible for my own puppy… 😉

*in collaboration with Laura Ashley, all thoughts and opinions are my own as always!

And that’s it! I’m planning quite a quiet Bank Holiday weekend next week – I’m hoping to go to Immy’s yoga class, then I’d like to take a trip to Kew Gardens for a bit of a photo sessions, then possibly a walk around Richmond too. Other than that it’s a big weekend of blogmin and wedmin!

What’s made you happy lately? What are your plans for the upcoming Bank Holiday Weekend?