Recipe: Homemade Marshmallows

But marshmallows are so cheap, why would I make my own?! That’s the first thought I had when my fiance suggested we make rather than buy for a dinner party dessert. The answer, though, is pretty simple. They are just so much better than shop-bought. Softer, fluffier. Quicker to melt in a mug of hot chocolate. I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with anything other than homemade again!

And they aren’t actually as complicated to make as they seen. Sure, it involves heck of a lot of egg whisky (a stand mixer is ideal for the job) and making a sugar syrup (I have a bit of a fear of working with hot sugar so I need moral support for this recipe). But it’s quick, simple and the results are amazing.

Of course, once you’ve got the basic recipe sorted you can make all sorts of ‘gourmet’ marshmallows. Add rose water, or even some citrus extract. Swirl in some food colouring. The possibilities are endless and I’m looking forward to experimenting!

Recipe – makes a large 20x30cm tray

  • 50g cornflour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 50g liquid glucose
  • 450g caster sugar
  • 10 sheets of gelatine
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 vanilla pod

Sift the cornflour and icing sugar into a bowl. Finely sift half the mixture over a deep 20x30cm tray and set the other half aside. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in a small pan with 125ml of water.

Mix the liquid glucose and caster sugar together in a pan with 250ml of cold water, and heat gently, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar syrup is clear, turn up the heat and allow the syrup to boil vigorously (don’t stir). When it reaches 110°C on a sugar thermometer, place the gelatine pan over a medium heat and stir until dissolved.

Whisk the egg whites in a free-standing electric mixer until you have stiff peaks. Once your syrup has reached 122°C, very carefully and slowly pour it into the mixer (with it still whisky), then slowly pour in the dissolved gelatine.

Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla pods, add to the mixer bowl, and continue to whisk for 5 or so minutes The mixture should be increased in volume and very thick, but still pourable. At this stage you could add flavourings and/or food colouring.

Either way, pour the marshmallow mixture into your prepared tray, then sift over the remaining mixed cornflour and icing sugar. Leave to cool until set, then slice with a knife (or use cutters to make interesting shapes). If giving as gifts you’ll want to dip the cut sides (they’ll be sticky!) into more icing sugar/cornflour.

 

And that’s it! Reasonably simple, and the result is pretty special. We mainly enjoyed these as part of a S’mores dessert (blowtorched marshmallows, chocolate soil, whisky ice-cream and a chocolate sauce), but they were also amazing when used to top a hot chocolate. In fact, typing this has reminded me I have all the ingredients available. And seeing as it’s currently snowing, I think a hot chocolate is really rather appropriate, don’t you?!

Have you ever made homemade marshmallows?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #31

Wow, hasn’t the past fortnight gone quickly! Maybe it’s because my Christmas ended up being not-so-festive, but I’ve found easing myself back into work, a routine etc a lot easier than previous years. I mean, if you ignore the horrendous 2.5+ hour journey to work last Monday morning, it’s been pretty much a breeze! Though if you could send me an excuse to eat vast amounts of cheese again, that would be wonderful…

  1. Long walks. Both on New Year’s Day, then again last weekend, me and W wrapped up warm and went for a long walk. Our go-to route is along the river (heading West out of London), but we also spent a lovely 4 hours zigzagging across Richmond Park, before walking to Ham and then onto Petersham Nurseries. Gorgeous, though trying to make our own sandwiches on a picnic bench in sub 5C was perhaps a mistake.
  2. Buying pretty plates at Petersham Nurseries. Anything for the Instagram!
  3. Speaking of Instagram, I’ve been loving curating my feed lately. If only I could reach the small but elusive 1k though!
  4. Joining a new join at work (albeit temporarily) – it involves a lot of techy and code-y work so it’s been a challenge, but I’ve really appreciated it.
  5. Booking onto a Doughnut Making Workshop as part of W’s birthday present. It’s not until the end of March but I’m already excited for it!
  6. Being challenged to cook a ‘local meal’ – more on this soon…
  7. A birthday night out at Home SW15. The food was lovely, the seasonal cocktails (mine involved parsnip and white chocolate) were yummy and I definitely want to visit for brunch now!
  8. Oh brunch. We also managed a birthday brunch at our favourite, The Dynamo (read my previous review). I tried their Turkish Eggs which were AMAZING, just lacking a big enough toast portion…
  9. Cosying up with a homemade lasagne made with my tomato-free bolognese. Cheesy, creamy, and full of all the carbs!
  10. Burning my favourite candle. It’s Rose & Oud scented and I’m so gutted it’s now ran out.
  11. Enjoying my new armchair. I now finally have a mustard-y yellow armchair. It’s just the right size to curl up on with a book, it’s super comfy and makes my flat feel 10x more cosy. I love it!
  12. Making progress with wedding bits and bobs. With less than 9 months to go we actually need to plan stuff rather than just book vendors. I have my hair/makeup trial, first dress fitting and our ‘engagemnt’ shoot with our photographer all in the next few weeks, plus a shop to try and find dresses for my ‘maids. So exciting!

What’s made you happy recently?

Recipe: Vegan Keralan Curry with Cauliflower, Chickpeas & Pineapple

This is one of my all-time favourite curry recipes – full of fragrant flavours, packed with nutrients and veggies, and (best of all!) ready in around half an hour. It’s adapted from one of Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, though I don’t have the equipment nor the brain speed to make it in that time.

This is a pretty typical Keralan Curry, although I make no claims that it is authentic. It is lighter and fresh in flavour, and more vibrant in texture than a North Indian curry – and as such it is less complex to make. It does need a couple of spices that might not be in everyone’s cupboard, but actually we find that we do use these quite often in curries.

And if you fancy skipping the vegan/veggie element, this curry sauce is amazing made with prawns or white fish – though I’d fry off an onion or a couple of shallots for a bit more texture. I’m also tempted to play around with different veggies, I can imagine it would be delicious with some sweet potato!

Recipe – 2 dinner portions plus 2 lunches, or 3 for dinner (easily scaled up, we’ve made for 8 before)

  • ½ cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Drizzle of vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 handful of dried curry leaves
  • 7 cm piece of ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 6 spring onions
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 big bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin (400g) chickpeas
  • 1 tin (227g) pineapple in juice
  • 1 lemon

Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower, then chop into small chunks and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little vegetable oil, then roast at 180C for around 10-15 minutes, or until lightly charred and starting to go tender.

Melt the coconut oil in a large pan, then quickly stir in the mustard and fenugreek seeds, turmeric and curry leaves. Peel the ginger and garlic , and trim the spring onions. Pulse these, together with the chilli and coriander stalks in a food processor (I used a mini chopper) until they form a rough pasta, then stir into the spices. Add the coconut milk, drained chickpeas and the pineapple chunks (plus the juice from the pineapple).

When the cauliflower is cooked as above, add this to the curry and bring the whole thing to a boil for a few minutes. Season to taste, adding in around half the juice of the lemon. Serve sprinkled with the coriander leaves, alongside rice – I love it with brown basmati.

This has become such a staple in our house, it’s perfect for a Meatfree Monday meal, and is also great for lunches throughout the week. I can imagine it would be perfect if you’ve got a cold too, with the chilli and ginger being perfect for perking you up. Definitely one we’ll be making again and again throughout the year!

What’s your favourite vegan recipe?

Review: Adventurous Pizza Toppings @ 400 Rabbits, Gipsy Hill

Another week, another pizza restaurant review.

Despite being allergic to tomatoes, and therefore relatively limited in options, pizza is my go-to food when me and W are planning a casual date-night. Spoiled by having the Dynamo ridiculously close to our old flat (it’s about an 8 minutes walk now which feels terribly far away!), we’re now starting to branch out a little bit. Mother LDN was first on our hit list, but next we ventured all the way out to darkest Zone 3 for a dinner at 400 Rabbits.

Highly recommended by Amanda, I was drawn in by the specials menu (which was unfortunately was out of date on their site, so no salt-marsh lamb or beetroot pesto for me) and rather Instagrammable decor. What I didn’t know about was the rather steep hill I had to traverse from the station – already hangry I can’t imagine I was the best company on that walk!

That said, we were welcomed (puffing) extremely warmly, offered drinks incredibly quickly – with my white wine being really rather pleasant (despite smelling far too sweet and flowery), and W’s foraged fruit and seaweed beer slipping down quite quickly! Pizzas also arrived quickly, perhaps they sensed my desperate need for food…

Looking back, I’m pretty sure W went for the “Aged Rare Breed Beef, Green Chillies, Onion , Tomato And Mozzarella” which he thoroughly enjoyed. I have to say the tomato sauce did look particularly good and rich here!

I took a huge leap out of my comfort zone and ordered the no-tomato special available at the time – Ortiz Tuna, Red Onions, Capers, Crème Fraiche and a Burnt Aubergine Yoghurt. As someone who claims she doesn’t like tuna I was taking a massive risk, but fortunately it paid off.  Everything was well-balanced, and the tuna was a world away from the dreadful tinned stuff I remember. Served in big chunks, alongside juuuusssst softened onions it was perfect. The aubergine yoghurt was a delight, and I wish I’d ordered extra to dip my crusts in. The base of the pizza was pretty perfect, no hint of dryness, over-burning or sogginess. My only complaint was the overwhelming garlic flavour I got from my pizza, which did leave me struggling to finish.

That said, we did managed to squeeze in some Gelupo Gelato too. My Malted Milk & Salted Caramel combo was delish, as was W’s Blood Orange sorbet with Bitter Chocolate. Perhaps not quite as good as my favourite ice-cream place (to be revealed as soon as I’m willing to share!) but delicious in it’s own right!

I’ve tried a lot of pizza places this year, and 400 Rabbits was one of my favourites. Inventive toppings with a seasonal focus, an excellent base and good atmosphere. If only it didn’t take me the best part of an hour to get there!

Where’s your favourite pizza place?

Food: My Kitchen Goals for 2018

As a food blogger I’m pretty much always in the kitchen or reading cookbooks. Thinking up new flavour combinations, easier ways to make classic dishes. Or I’ll be reading some of my favourite blogs, putting even more restaurants on my list… either way, food is a massive part of my life and there’s still so much more I have to try. Here’s just a few of the things I want to tick off in 2018!

Embarrassingly, some of these I’ve probably mentioned as goals before on this blog. However, as it’s a New Year, let’s wipe the slate clean and start again!

  • Improve my cake decorating skills. I shamefully tend to get W to ice any cakes that need it (case in point: my birthday cake last month). I’d love to be at the stage where I feel comfortable with a piping bag, although I’m not sure how likely it is that I’ll achieve such a goal this year!
  • Make our our pasta more often. It tastes SO much better than shop-bought.
  • Eat amazing food on our honeymoon. I don’t actually know where we’ll be flying off to, as W has booked the whole thing as a surprise, however I am pretty damn sure that there will be yummy food involved! Stay tuned in October and you’ll find out!
  • Make a “proper” pie from scratch. We quite often have a pie during the week, but the filling will be a quite casserole of leftovers, with a sheet of puff pastry baked on top. I’d love to make a pie from scratch, with pastry all the way round the perfect filling.
  • Learn more about Chinese and Asian cooking. In particular I’d love to give dumplings a go!
  • Tick off one or two more Michelin Starred restaurants. I managed to visit Pollen Street Social and Galvin La Chapelle in 2017, so I’d love to try a few more this year. Where would you recommend?
  • Make sure I eat a vegetarian dinner at least once a week. We’d like to make our meat purchasing more ethical, but to do that we need to eat less of it purely from a cost perspective!
  • Find a decent fruit and veg delivery system. Do you get a weekly food box? We’ve tried a couple and haven’t been overly impressed so would really appreciate some recommendations!
  • Actually manage to make and keep a sourdough starter alive. It’s alluded us several times in the past…

What do you want to achieve in the kitchen this year?

Recipe: Rose, White Chocolate & Pistachio Layer Cake

Welcome to the first recipe of 2018! I had (utterly stupid!) anxiety about deciding which recipe should kick off 2018 here on the blog, but in the end I decided to go with cake for several reasons. One, cake. Need I say more. Two, this was one of the last bakes I made in 2017, it was delicious as my birthday cake and something a little bit different. And three – I get married this year. It’s the year I get to eat the most important cake of my life. And so here is a rather yummy cake recipe for you all.

I don’t usually make my own birthday cake – leaving it to W (he once made a frankly terrifying Caterpillar cake) or my dad (who’s created some pretty awesome ones over the years – the highlight being a four-layer ombre chocolate-caramel one for my 21st). This year, however, with the day off before and W busy at university, I decided to give it a go. I used Lucy’s book, as the bakes tend to only need one bowl and anything which results in less washing up is already a winner in my eye. Me being me, I tinkered with the recipe slightly. I made a smaller cake, used a sandwich tin, reduced the poppy seeds, upped the white chocolate and added pistachios.

The rose is definitely the strongest flavour in this cake, but it isn’t at all overpowering. The poppy seeds add a good texture, the white chocolate adds creaminess and the pistachios mellow the slight soapiness of the rose. It worked perfectly as a birthday cake (complete with candles!) but I imagine it would be wonderful for an office cake sale, or as a gift for a friend. I’m also thinking cupcake versions would be delightful!

Recipe (makes a 21cm cake, serving 8 generous slices)

  • 3 eggs
  • Self raising flour
  • Butter – some for the cake (approx 90g) and 200g for the icing
  • Margarine
  • Caster sugar
  • 25g poppy seeds
  • Rose water
  • 100g white chocolat
  • 300g icing sugar
  • Pink food colouring
  • Pistachios

Grease and line two 21cm sandwich tins. Weigh the eggs in their shells (as a heads up, it’s probably around 180g), then weigh out that amount of both self-raising flour and caster sugar. You also want to weight out half that amount of both margarine and butter.

Beat the butter and margarine together until it’s soft (this job is a lot easier if they’re at room temperature), then add the sugar and cream together until the mix is fluffy and no longer gritty. Sift in the flour, add a pinch of salt and gently fold together. Fold in the poppy seeds and 15g of rosewater, then pour into the prepared tins. Smooth the tops and bake at 180C for around 20 minutes.

All the cakes to cool fully on a wire rack before making the icing. Melt the white chocolate slowly, stirring occasionally, then allow to cool for 15 minutes. You want it to be completely cooled to room temperature, without it setting. Beat the butter until soft and smooth, then add the cooled white chocolate and beat to combine. Add the icing sugar and beat together until creamy and light – I tend to do this in thirds to stop *too* much icing sugar flying everywhere. Beat in 15g of rosewater and a few drops of food colouring, before using to sandwich your cakes together and ice the top.

Roughly chop some pistachio nuts and arrange on top – you could also top with white chocolate curls, rose petals or even freeze-dried raspberries.

And that’s it – I’ve also followed the same ratios (equal weight flour/sugar/butter/eggs) for a standard Victoria sponge with success, so I’ll be forever thankful to Lucy for this method! Though I’m now obsessed with rosewater; it can be a pricey ingredient, but have a look in the World Food aisle of your local supermarket. I found a large bottle in Sainsburys for £1, whilst in the exact same store there was a much smaller bottle (in the baking aisle) for £4…

What’s your go-to cake recipe?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #30

Happy New Year!

I’m kicking the year off with a bumper Happy Things post – covering all of the festive period and a little before that. Whilst I had planned to write a couple more Christmassy posts, I felt a bit run-down in the week leading up to the big day so decided just to enjoy my time away from the office. I won’t be having more than a couple of days off until our wedding and honeymoon in October now, so it was good to make the most of it! As it was, I had a fabulous few weeks, although Christmas wasn’t quite what I’d planned…

      1. Homemade gifts. I’ve made a few homemade gifts this year and they’ve all gone down really well. The Peanut Butter Fudge has definitely been the most well-received though!
      2. A really good office party. I was in another department on a rotation before my Christmas holiday, and they were nice enough to have me tag on to their celebrations. There was good food, a lot of wine and bubbly, plenty of festive games and a compulsory Santa hat.
      3. Mulled Wine afternoons with friends, before a Carol service at our local church. Much festiveness.
      4. Continuing a new festive tradition. Last year me and W came up with ‘Pigs in Blankets Night’ – a roast dinner, but where the main meat is a good serving of homemade pigs in blankets. It’s so, so good.
      5. Sleeping for 12.5 hours pretty much straight.
      6. Curry night. I was sent some of Patak’s new Paste Pots* and added them to my Nomato Sauce. Served with homemade pilau rice, a spinach-coconut concoction I made up, bhajis and plenty of poppadoms we ate ourselves into a food coma.
      7. Frijoles at Wahaca. Though I’m not too happy at their menu change, as there’s now a lot more I can’t eat (and it feels a lot less authentic too!).
      8. A short break at Centre Parcs. We went to celebrate my sister’s eighteenth birthday and it was lovely! A gorgeous lodge with our own sauna, plenty of time in the pool (some of the water rides are pretty scary!), and some fun activities. Segeways were a particular highlight.
      9. My first ever spa day. I spent lots of time in a Blossom scented heat room, enjoyed a fire and ice experience – though the highlight was a Flotation Mud Wrap.
      10. Passing my exam! I came out of the spa to see my name on the pass list for the exam I took in September. I hadn’t been feeling overly confident recently after a tutor went over the paper, so I’m feeling relieved. Next ones are in April and I’m already on track with the material…
      11. Hot Beef Rolls from a nearby delicatessen. They roast a couple of joints of meat daily, then fill fresh slightly crispy rolls with meat sliced to order. The beef is rare and tender, the horseradish just the right heat. And at £3 it’s difficult to resist.
      12. Picking up chocolates from Cocoa Amore.
      13. Heading home for Christmas. It was a pretty hectic festive season for us all, but we managed to see both my Nan and Grandma, all the nieces/nephews and get presents delivered on time and to the correct people.
      14. The Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Rolls from M&S. They’re addictive.
      15. Christmas Dinner. Nuff said. Although I did have to rush my one on the big day as W was being ill (nesecitating a trip to A&E, 2 litres of fluid on a drip and an awful lot of worry). Then my second Christmas Dinner on Boxing Day was understandably subdued. Both delicious though!
      16. Being able to say – “We’re getting married THIS YEAR!!”

Hope you had a good Christmas – and that your New Year has gotten off to a good start! What’s made your festive period so special?

Recipe: Red Onion & Goat’s Cheese Quiche

Quiche was always something that intimidated me. It just seemed so complicated – baking pastry, prepping a filling, making a basic egg custard mix. A lot of work and, in all honest, I’d never enjoyed the shop-bought ones I’d tried so why bother?

Well, it would seem I’ve been missing out all this time!

When we decided a bit foolishly to cater most of our engagement party way back in Summer’16 we made two quiches (on the morning of the party). One was a Quiche Lorraine which was absolutely delicious and something I really need to make again ASAP. The other was this one. This is what started my love affair with goat’s cheese off, and what a way to begin an infatuation.

Crisp, buttery pastry (I’ll be posting a recipe soon, but you’ll be pleased to know it works just as well with ready-made, ready-rolled stuff – because sometimes life is just too short). Sweet red onions, caramelised with just a little bit of a bite. Punchy goat’s cheese. Soft and juuussssstttttt set egg filling, lightly infused with thyme and almost spicy with black pepper. Yep, it’s as delicious as it sounds.

And bonus. I discovered you don’t need to faff around making any type of custard for quiches. Game changer.

Recipe (makes 6 servings generous to eat alone with a side salad, more if serving with new potatoes or as part of a buffet – based on a Donal Skehan recipe)

  • 25g butter
  • 3 large red onions, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 300ml double cream
  • 150g soft curd goat’s cheese
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only

If you’re making your own pastry (this recipe is a good basic one) then do this first, then place in the fridge. Roll out (or use shop-bought!) and use to line a 23cm tart tin – place back in the fridge whilst you wait for the over to reach 190C. Pop a baking tin (large enough to fit the tart tin) in the oven whilst it warms. Once up to temperature, line the pastry with greasproof, fill with baking beans, pop onto the hot tray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and greaseproof (they will be insanely hot), turn the oven down to 180C and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To make the filling, heat the butter and a pinch of salt in your largest frying pan, add the red onions and the dried thyme and fry over a low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and caramelised. Season with plenty of black pepper, then allow to cool.

Whisk the eggs and cream together until just combined. Stir through around 25g of the goat’s cheese. Arrange the onions on the base of the pastry case, scatter over spoonfuls of the goats cheese (try and disperse this evenly, or you’ll be fighting over the cheesiest slice!) and season a little more. Gently pour the egg and cream mixture into the pastry case, sprinkle with the fresh thyme and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the filling is set. I sometimes like to be extra naughty and sprinkle a little grated parmesan over the top for the final five minutes, just to add an extra golden colour.

Allow to cool, then serve warm (not hot!) or cold. It’s wonderful on it’s own with a simple salad of leaves and raw beetroot, alongside new potatoes or simply as part of a picnic or buffet. Oh, it sits nicely in the fridge for 2-3 days so is perfect for a meat-free Monday dinner and a couple of lunches.

An indulgent recipe for sure, but what’s life without a bit of tasty, cheese goodness?!

Have you ever made your own quiche?

Life: Best Food of 2017

I can’t quite believe that it’s time to start rounding up 2017 – this year has just flown by. For personal reasons it hasn’t exactly been a great year, so this gal is excited for 2018. Not least because there’s a certain day in October when I get to done a rather pretty dress and sign perhaps the most important document of my life!

A few months ago I made the decision to move the focus of this blog away from ‘everything and anything’ to food. Because I’m all about food. For the first time in what feels like years, I’ve been really happy with the way my blog is moving forwards. I feel more excited to sit down and write posts, to take photos. Admittedly this is being shadowed by the need to move all my photos from photobucket at some point (cheers guys, that’s probably a month’s work right there) but I’m so excited to see what happens next.

And on that note, rather than doing lots of round-ups like 2016, this year there’s just one. The best food of 2017. Here goes.

I have visited Putney Pies twice in a fortnight, sooo yummy! 🙈

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January

I spent a lot of January cosied-up at home. With W away in the warmer climate of Chile I relied on a lot of comfort food and quick fixes – though I ate a lot of mushrooms and seafood too. Homecooking highlights were perfecting my homemade falafel (recipe here), and cooking up a delicious mac’n’cheese infused with whisky (with whisky glazed bacon crumb) to welcome my boy home. I’ll actually be posting that recipe ahead of Burn’s Night 2018 so keep your eyes peeled.

January was also the first month I visited Putney Pies – in fact it was so good I actually went two weekends on the trot!

Cake 😍 🍰 Saturday’s trip to Dominique Ansel was pretty much sugar-high perfection!

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February

February saw sugar-overload from a mummy-daughter trip to Dominque Ansel. The Frozen S’more is every bit as delicious as it sounds. I also managed to perfect my Tomato-free Bolognese, which I’ve since made many, many times.

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March

This month saw me eating a lot of beetroot – with my Beetroot Risotto becoming a firm favourite. With plenty of goat’s cheese I reckon it’s a way to encourage beetroot-haters to try this delicious vegetable! We also discovered Maltby Street Food Market this month…

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April

Ah, now April was a good food month! The start of it saw us head off to York, where we had so many delicious meals. There was lunch at Skosh, which is one of my top meals of all time. We had a cheese and wine night at Pairings, which is my idea of the perfect date night location. And of course, we had to stop by Betty’s – we didn’t something different to the usual afternoon tea which I’ve just realised I haven’t yet blogged about! Whoops! Following my exam this month we also had a celebratory meal at Pollen Street Social – whilst I didn’t blog about the visit, I can confirm that chicken-fat mash should totally be a thing…

Homecooking wise and a highlight was my oven-baked crumpets. Originally baked as part of a collaboration with St Helens Farm, these were absolutely delicious. I may have to make them again soon!

May

May saw us try and eat as many vegetarian dinners as possible, with some real highlights. I developed a delicious vegan bolognese recipe (although quite often we added plenty of parmesan), and this curry is now a firm favourite.

June

Now, June was a stressful month. We found out we needed to find a new flat – trust me, house hunting on the hottest weekend of the year was not fun! There was definitely some foodie highlights though – Kenwood sent me one of their kMix Stand Mixers* which was fun to play with, and I cooked one of my favourite salads yet.

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July

Another good food month! We kicked off July with a delicious meal at Bistro Vadouvan in Putney, eating one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever had. We also celebrated my exam pass with a brunch at Duck & Waffle which was utterly amazing, I’m so glad I’ve ticked it off my list.

We then flew to Switzerland for a week of cheesy carby goodness, including a rather excessive rosti topped with 10 rashes of bacon, and a meringue that was larger than my head. I also tried flammkuchen for the first time, I’ve been craving one ever since!

August

August was a quiet month, with most of it taken up with gradually moving out and dealing with our ex-landlord (he wanted a new carpet to the tune of over £1000. Short story: he didn’t get one, or at least not from our deposit!).

This Fesenjan was honestly one of the best dishes I’ve ever cooked! Tender chicken in a Pomegranate & Walnut Sauce it’s comforting, rich and lightly spiced. Served with brown rice and fragrant roasted cauliflower it’s a hug in a bowl for an Autumn evening! What’s your favourite dish? #fesenjan #pomegranate #middleeastern #middleeasternfood #goodfood #whatimeating #thefeedfeed #onmytable #savorthejourney #foodstories #forkfeed #inmytummy #makeitdelicious #eatnowplaylater #yougottaeatthis #tastingtable #storyofmytable #heresmyfood #inspiremyinstagram #show_me_your_food #foodandflatlay #hungrygrls #lickyourphone #foodlikewoah #noleftovers #verytandc #happyselves #theartofslowliving #nestandflourish #fdbloggers

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September

This was another exam month, though someone we managed to tick two pizza places off of our list to try (Mother LDN and 400 Rabbits – review from the latter will be one of the first of 2018). We also spent the last weekend of the month in Suffolk, which was utterly wonderful – I never realised the county was so foodie! A particular highlight was the chocolate doughnut from Pump Street Bakery…

And on a cooking note, this month was when I cooked what is perhaps the best thing I’ve cooked all year – my Chicken Fesenjan. Perfect for a special occasion!

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October

October was the month where I enjoyed having some me time - no exams to worry about, no deteriorating family members at the back of my mind. I cooked lots this month - with the Caramelised Onion & Goat's Cheese Pasta being a particular favourite. I also came up with my favourite lunchbox salad ever - a combination of crunchy veg, quinoa and satay sauce. And of course, Autumn meant homemade fruit crumbles...

I had the pleasure of being invited to the Ginger Whisk Cooking School, where I learnt to temper chocolate and make peanut butter fudge (recipe here).  I was also privileged enough to take part in Wok for 1000, where we made over 1400 for people in need across the city, included a whopping 4000+ wontons.

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November

Ah, November! This was the month of my very early Christmas party (and with 2016's in February, there were less than 9 months between them!). It featured "Christmas Dinner on a Stick" which definitely wasn't one of my foodie highlights! However this month also kicked off the festive dining in a rather spectacular way. The #AEGTasteofXmas event featured perfectly cooked turkey and beef rib, deliciously crispy roasties and a rather nice apricot-spiked stuffing (but, to my horror, no pigs in blankets). We learnt how to make pastry for mince pies, and picked up lots of tips for cooking the big meal this year. Not that I'll be attempting that one quite yet...

We also managed to get to the Taste of London event - eating our way around we have some *really* good things, with the stand-out being a Roasted Peach Massaman Curry. Yum yum!

December

My birthday month! I kicked it off in style by spending a scary £65 in the butchers on meat for the weekend (yep, it made me feel faint too!). I cooked up braised Ox Cheeks for my family, a delicious Pork Stew for me and Will, and I got my traditional birthday steak night too. Yum!

My actual birthday day saw a couple of lovely meals out too. Breakfast was at Antipodea which I loved - such a cosy atmosphere and my pancakes were delicious. Lunch was a trip to tick Hai Cenato off my list. I embraced the carbs-on-carbs, eating a pizza topped with potato, egg yolk and the obligatory cheese. No regrets.

And of course, December also has more good food to come. The best bit! Christmas dinner, featuring the usual two-birds (goose plus turkey), pigs in blankets, two types of potatos (roasts plus mash), two types of stuffing (sage and onion, plus a sausage-y one), lots of veg, yorkies and lashings of gravy. I'm drooling already!

What are your best eats of 2017? Where do you recommend for next year?

Recipe: Sweet Potato Soup

I love a good soup. Warming, packed full of veggies, filling and so versatile. You can be ‘naughty’ and serve with a grilled cheese sandwich (try French Onion soup served with a Cheese Toastie – it’s a total game changer!). You can serve with some artisan sourdough for a smart lunch. You can eat it alone and feel very virtuous. It can be a starter, or a main meal in it’s own right. It can be drunk as a lunch at your computer, rushed between meetings. It can be enjoyed in bed on a sick day, or cosied up on the sofa on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Over colder months I eat a lot of soups – it’ a sure-fire way to warm me up midday, whilst remaining low calorie and (usually) low-carb. Whilst I don’t “diet” as such, I do try to make sure my lunches are lowish in calorie whilst still being filling. I’d just prefer to save my calories for a more exiting dinner! This soup fits the bill perfectly.

Absolutely crammed full of vitamins, it’s so, so tasty. The bold flavours trick you into feeling like you’re eating something more substantial (there’s nothing worse than a bland soup for making you feel unsatisfied and reaching for the biscuit tin!), whilst the sweet potato really does fill you up. You can even add red lentils to bulk it up even further. The red pepper and sweet potato is the perfect combination, livened up with a few key spices. Garnish with some extra chilli and you’ve got a perfect warming bowl of goodness.

Recipe (makes 4 lunch portions)

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, with as much skin peeled away as possible and the flesh roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 500ml vegetable stock

Heat a teeny tiny bit of oil in a pan, and fry the onion and celery gently for  5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and continue to fry for another couple of minutes. Increase the heat, add the pepper, sweet potato and stock then simmer for 20 or so minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender. Blitz the soup with a handblender (allow to cool slightly if your blender, like mine, has a tendency to splash liquid everywhere), and serve.

You could be fancy and add a swirl of yoghurt, perhaps some coriander, but it’s pretty good just as it is!

Are you a fan of soup? What’s your favourite recipe?