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Post-Christmas in the Cotswolds | Bamford Estate & Daylesford Farm

This year we planned out our Christmas schedule pretty well - both Shay and I decided to try and spend our time as equally as possible. Both being homebodies, spending time at home makes both of us feel like we want to be at home, 'home' forever, which I wish we could do all year round.

These pictures are from a walk round the public footpath round the Bamford estate in the Cotswolds and then onto Daylesford farm - where we had a cheeky (organic) mince pie.

Here's some pictures from the walk, before we had worked up a proper appetite and delved into a post-Christmas-all-the-foods type lunch in the afternoon.

Do you have any post-Christmas traditions? I have to say, it's a good way to walk off food before settling for another course :)

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford

Walking in the Cotswolds Bamford Estate & Daylesford


Homemade Christmas Food Hampers

I have wanted to talk about these hampers on here since Shay and I first thought of the idea a good couple of months ago, and now that Christmas has been and gone (boooo, can't wait for next year) and all of the hampers have been given to family members, I can finally broadcast what we created.

The homemade hampers were born out the idea of not giving material gifts, and instead focusing on spending quality time together, and obviously eating really great food at Christmas time.

Shay and I had so much fun creating the hampers together and did everything together, equally - which in itself made the whole hamper worth it. It was an extra bonus that all of our families really loved the contents of the hampers, which has now made us realise that homemade gifts are the way to go.

So here's what we included in our hampers:

Red Onion Marmalade
Chilli Jam
Salted Caramel
Brandy Truffles/Salted Caramel Truffles for family members who don't drink
Shortbread fingers

We made the Red Onion Marmalade and Chilli Jam with Christmas cheese boards in mind - which went down a complete treat; the salted caramel as a dessert sauce when warmed up; and the truffles and shortbread just as little sweet treats.

In case anyone is interested, I found the little 'Merry Christmas' bags on ebay, made by a really sweet company called East Of India.

Let me know what you all think of the hampers :) did you make any presents this year? Hope you all had a fab one.

Homemade Christmas Food Hamper 2014

Homemade Christmas Food Hamper 2014

Homemade Christmas Food Hamper 2014

Homemade Christmas Food Hamper 2014

Homemade Christmas Food Hamper 2014

Merry Christmas

Wowee the day is finally here! There has been a distinct lack of festive blogging over here, which I'm sad about but I (as I'm sure the rest of you have) have been really busy. I have however been snapping away so I'll be continuing the festivities on here.

I love Christmas so much and am lucky as I get two celebrations, Polish traditions on Christmas Eve, and then a big Turkey dinner on Christmas day! All the Christmas foods and I love it.

Despite my lack of presence over the last week I'd still like to say I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, and enjoy the time with your families, laughing, joking, watching all the Christmas specials on TV (Eastenders O M G), and doing whatever traditions your family does.

Thought I'd leave you all with a photo we were all laughing our heads of at last night - I think I'm about 6 here, having played the angel in the Nativity. It was late at night and I was tired, but my mum still took the picture - probably so we could laugh at it now.


Anyway hope you have a fab time over the next few days and I'll see you on the other side!

xxx

Chotto Matte | Zomato Meetup

The last few weeks have been pretty awesome, having been to a number of foodie related events. Last Thursday I was invited to join a bunch of bloggers at Chotto Matte in Soho by Zomato.

Chotto Matte Zomato

I have to say working in Soho definitely has its benefits, because a hop skip and a jump after work I arrived at the restaurant on Frith St - not too far from Soho Square. From the outside, the restaurant is stylish, modern and a fair size, and after walking in and being greeted by the very friendly front of house staff, I was taken to meet the rest of the bloggers by the bar.

Glass of bubbly in hand, and introductions made to a few lovely ladies, we were given a short talk by the restaurant manager and bar manager, introducing the Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine of Nikkei and the typical drinks associated with that area of the world, namely Pisco - a clear spirit created from distilled wine. I hadn't heard of it either.

Chotto Matte Zomato

We were given a range of cocktails to try, all of which were Pisco based and quite delicious with their own distinct flavours. We were also taken on a tour of the restaurant (much to the bemusement of the diners) and around the kitchen - yes the busy, fully operational, hot working kitchen. It was a total eye opener and a really cool experience - again probably to the bemusement of the chefs and kitchen staff. Still everyone was extremely friendly and willing to help us learn.

Chotto Matte Zomato

After ogling at all the amazing food being prepared we were taken back downstairs to try some of it, including tostaditas with raw tuna, wasabi and jalapeños - a true mix of flavours if I ever knew it. As well as sushi, sashimi and someone please correct me if I'm wrong but I believe we also got to try some ceviche fish - which was mind blowingly delicious.

Chotto Matte Zomato

I have to admit, my night at Chotto Matte was divine. The restaurant put on a great evening for all of us bloggers and everything was greatly received. The prices at Chotto Matte lie slightly on the expensive side for me, but something I would love to splash out on for an occasion or special celebration because the food really was fantastic.

Chotto Matte Zomato

Chotto Matte Zomato

Thank you so much Chotto Matte for hosting an excellent night and thank you Zomato for the invite -I have been planning my return since last Thursday!

Côte

On the weekend my family and I celebrated my dad's birthday from the previous week by going to Côte in my home town. 

There can often be a stigma around going to chain restaurants, but I think they're great, the food is 9 times out of 10 actually really good, it's well-priced (in this day and age) and your expectations are managed if not exceeded. What's not to like?

Côte has unintentionally become one of our family favourites, having eaten at one of their restaurants or another a number of times over the last couple of years. And that includes being booked in for the trial run of the Côte in my home town, just before opening night, where we only had to pay for a bottle of wine and teas and coffees - pretty good I think.

Although it's a chain, whichever 'branch' I've been to, has always provided a warm and welcoming atmosphere, the staff are always friendly, helpful and professional and the food has always been really delicious. I'd say Côte is certainly on the higher end of the scale in the chain restaurant league, and they have never failed to disappoint. On Saturday night we barely had to wait for our food at all during our visit on Saturday night, but equally didn't feel rushed at all.

The menu really has so many options, and I often find myself struggling to choose, which is always a good sign in my opinion.


On Saturday I decided to start with a starter that was on the specials menu, Scallops with bacon lardons, pea shoots with a pea purée - a very fresh way to start the meal. The scallops were cooked to perfection, and were complimented perfectly by the crispy, smokey bacon lardons.

For my main I inadvertently chose a second seafood dish, but hey, there ain't no rules to abide by here. Despite offering French cuisine, I went for seafood linguine, which was light as well as super filling with LOADS of seafood. Sometimes at a restaurant you'll find that there's either not enough mussels or squid and just loads of prawns, but in all honestly, there was enough of each element in that dish - thoroughly enjoyed. To balance all of the carboy-goodness from my main, I chose a tomato and basil side salad, topped with shallots and I think a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar and it was truly divine and broke up the main nicely.


Despite being quite full, every single one of us opted for a dessert, it would be rude not to after all. I decided to go for something light (after all of the pasta I had eaten) and went for the frozen summer berries with white chocolate sauce. So simple, so tasty. Pouring the sauce over the frozen berries softened them ever so slightly but when eating, it still felt like a berry ice cream/sorbet. I have fallen in love with this dessert and cannot wait to recreate it at home. 

I'll be honest, it does feel slightly contrived writing a review on a chain restaurant, but the food was just too delicious not to mention. We had a lovely time chatting, eating great food and celebrating my dad's birthday - what more could you want?

Malaysian Supperclub at Food at 52 | Malaysia Kitchen

Last week, something really amazing happened. I received an invite to attend a Malaysian Supperclub hosted by Malaysia Kitchen, with dinner cooked by Ping Coombes, the amazing winner of this year's Masterchef, I literally couldn't believe my eyes. Just unreal.

The night was put together in order to help promote Malaysian food in the UK - which to be fair I totally get because I think I've probably only tried Malaysian food once or twice prior to the supperclub.

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

I turned up at the Food at 52 cookery school straight after work, based on the edge of Clerkenwell, just a short walk from Old St station and was greeted with a spread of these fab non-alcoholic cocktails. The cookery school itself is quirky and different. The layout and decor mimics a home, kitted out with an upright piano, books on shelves, sofas and old-fashioned rugs to boot. The spread of 'make-your-own mocktail' ingredients was a lovely touch, with choices ranging from mango juice to rosehip cordial - the possibilities were endless. And obviously we all had a mason jar with our names on tags, with stripy paper straws to match. Now I'm not even that into pinterest but EVEN I know that it was a pinterest lovers dream.

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

Soon enough, Ping came upstairs to see if we wanted to help out with making some dumplings for the starters - obviously everyone jumped at the chance to get stuck in and before we knew it we were assembling dumplings like absolute pros! The filling for the dumplings was a chicken and prawn mix with garlic chive, which I have to be honest I'd never heard of but they made some damn good dumplings which we were served back upstairs whilst enjoying more mocktails and mingling amongst the lovely bloggers and guests in attendance. A thank you is in order for Amanda here for modelling those dumplings so damn well in that cup there!

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

Before we knew it we were back downstairs in the kitchen/diner (also with many a homely touch) getting ready to enjoy the rest of the starters, consisting of a whole array of Malaysian goodies. Ping made sure to give us some context into each element of the dinner. I particularly loved her story behind the soft-shell crabs, being something she remembers enjoying as a child. You can really tell she absolutely adores food - and that really shines through the food she serves. I can't quite believe it myself, but those nugget-looking bites on skewers are chicken hearts... and yes I had one. And yes that is also a whole deep fried, soft-shell crab... and yes I also had one of those, legs, claws, the lot. It was delicious.

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

We then moved onto the main, which was a complete delight - a variety of foods, including Ping's winning dish from Masterchef - Nasi Lemak. I have to say, I can't even believe the work that must have gone in to the individual elements of our meal that night but I think everyone in that room would agree that the award should go to Ping's mum - bear with me. Ping told us that the little crispy anchovies in the main dish, are anchovies that are lovingly gutted, skinned, washed and prepared by Ping's mum and are from her own personal stash. Just wow. If that doesn't tell you how much love and care goes into Ping's food, I don't know what would.

The food itself was bursting with flavour - as I'm sure you'd imagine Malaysian food to be. My stand out elements of the main were the roast chicken, the seared bok choi and the nasi lemak itself, but that's not to say the whole meal was amazing, because it truly was. I can't quite describe the flavours, because they're completely unique - I've never tried anything like Malaysian food on this scale before, which is refreshing and exciting all at once.

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

And after a short while, when most of the food had been devoured by the dinner guests, we were ready for dessert. I always considered myself a savoury person with a penchant for sweets but in order to say that the dessert was without doubt the star of the show, I think I have to confess otherwise. Ping, if you're reading, you need to PACKAGE THIS AND SELL IT, because you will make millions. The dessert was absolutely to. die. for. The freshness of the passionfruit flavours married with the smoothness of the white chocolate and (the base base base, the) crumbly biscuit base (it's Masterchef related... I had to) - everyone in the room was genuinely upset when they had finished their dessert.

Malaysia Kitchen Supperclub Food52

I came away from this night completely and utterly buzzing - with my love of food and cooking at an all time high. For the record, I was rooting for Ping to win on Masterchef - she knocked those guys out of the stratosphere with her dishes - and needless to say Ping is so friendly and lovely as well as being completely humble. What a babe.

Thank you so much Malaysia Kitchen for hosting such a superb night, not only was everyone so lovely I got to become that much more acquainted with a cuisine I knew relatively nothing about before! Just excellent.

Food To Inspire

I'm a frequent user of the #foodporn tag on instagram - I like looking at pictures of food quite a lot. Well styled photos of delicious food make me hungry and amazed but most importantly, inspired to try out new flavours in the kitchen - as a creature of habit I find it so easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to dinner time.

I thought I'd collect some of the foods that have been swirling around this here brain of mine since I first came across them in hope of potentially passing on the inspiration I feel when I look at pictures such as these.

I've included all the links to each photo, which will take you back to the amazing creators of the recipes. All the recipes come from a range of different sources, either what I've seen on a blog or website or even from a TV food show - my personal favourite TV chef at the moment is Tom Kerridge, he just seems like such a nice bloke y'know?!


Honey & Garlic Pulled Chicken - Even though I actually made this on the weekend, I had to include it because that photo man - I just couldn't get the thought of chicken, cooked in the slow cooker for so long in a sweet, sticky sauce. It lived up to expectations trust me.

Sushi - I just took my first visit to the Japan Centre on Shaftesbury Ave and I'm shocked I haven't made it in there before. You can guess by the name as to what they sell in there, but it's just so amazing - fresh food, groceries, tableware and so much more - and now I want to learn to make sushi. Not fickle at all am I? 

Boozy Inside Out Trifle Cake - Everything about this cake just screams 'YES' to me. First of all I LOVE the colours in the photo, the cake just looks so inviting and then the idea of having trifle within a cake just... mind = blown.


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Ramen - Confession time, I've not actually had ramen... yet! But this bowl of noodley soupy goodness just looks perfect; perfection in a bowl and the recipe sounds stunning. If it didn't look like such a ball-ache to make I'd have a go at this right now.

Mussels in Ale - Love you long time Tom Kerridge! I saw this on one of his programmes a while ago, he visited a brewery and attended the ale festival but also cooked for the crowd. A take on Moules Marinieres, Tom has cooked these mussels in a bitter ale broth which just sounds utterly divine if you ask me.

Beef Wellington - Whilst watching TV the other night we saw one of Jamie Oliver's Christmas programmes in which he offered up this beef wellington as an alternative to Turkey, which I totally dig. He made this look SO easy to make and to be honest, the way he seared that beef joint had us both sold.


Have any of these photos or recipes tickled your fancy? Let me know what gives you inspiration in the kitchen!

Cream With Your Coffee Cake?

We all know that cake is a very important element of not only this blog, but my life as a whole. You may think I'm exaggerating, but I think about cake, like, quite a lot. Some people get those afternoon cravings for chocolate, or sweets, biscuits, maybe something savoury... mine is 90% of the time cake-related.

What I love about having honed my baking skills, is my ability to whip up whatever I want, whenever I want. But even better is when there's an excuse to bake. This weekend it was my older sister's birthday, so I had her round for some dinner and BIRTHDAY CAKE. I had asked her what her preferences were for her cake, so when she said 'I'm sure whatever you make will be delicious', well... the world was my oyster.

I decided to go for something familiar, but with a tiny twist. I used the recipe for coffee cake from my Basics Baking Handbook - a recipe I have trusted on many times. But instead of making the coffee buttercream icing, I decided to make a coffee infused cream as a filling and icing and man oh man did it turn the cake into something almost completely different.

It's nothing innovative or different, I just whipped the cream (about 600ml) to a thickish consistency added about 3-4 table spoons spoons of icing sugar and about 2-3 table spoons of freshly brewed (but cooled) coffee. I cannot tell you how silky smooth and utterly luxurious the cream tasted and yet it was so simple.

When I was slathering the cream onto the first layer of the cake, it got me thinking about how utterly 'European' it is to have cream with coffee, but also how deliciously indulgent it is to do so. And now I think if I ever make a chocolate pudding or anything of the like that requires cream when serving, I'm making this coffee cream.

Needless to say we each had a slice after dinner and then my sister took home a chunk for herself. Shay and I sat in bed the next morning with a slice of cake and our usual weekend morning cup of tea in bed, because that's what being an adult is really about isn't it? Making the decision that yes, actually it is ok to have cake for breakfast today.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling now - I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Cream With Your Coffee Cake

Cream With Your Coffee Cake

Cream With Your Coffee Cake

This Last Week #6

Catch up time, oui? Oui.

Oh shizzle, how cold has it gotten in the last few weeks? I swear 50% of what I say at the moment relates to the fact I'm cold, and I'm in a constant battle with pretty much the rest of the office to have the heating on permanently. I need a constantly hot, hot water bottle attached to me at all times, and I've actually considered buying a blanket to have at work. Anyway, in light of the cold I took a trip to Primark to purchase some of their super soft, super warm and super comfy jimmy jammy bottoms for both me and Shay. We've literally been living in them for the last few weeks whilst ploughing through Breaking Bad (now well into series 4) and eating far too much takeaway than we should be. But it's cold, and sometimes I just don't feel like going out in the cold to shop and then cook.

A few weekends ago however we went for a cheeky Sunday breakfast/brunch at one of our local cafés, No. 178 in New Cross - a really cool venue that lends itself well as a community space as well as offering really yumz food. We both opted for the American Pancakes with Bacon & Maple Syrup and a cup of tea which came to £6 each - which just goes to show you don't have to break the bank for a weekend brunch treat.


Despite that delicious looking breakfast, I've been stepping up my fitness regime (although calling it a regime feels a little false as I still can't believe I'm enjoying exercising regularly) at both bootcamp and I have run home a few times over the last few weeks, which is both astounding and mind boggling. But at the same time, it feels amazing to be taking control of myself fitness-wise, and being able to run 5 miles straight without stopping. I've been using the Nike+ Running App and I have to say, it's spurring me on, being able to track your achievements and progress is real motivation and I can't wait to see where I'll be in a months time and then beyond that.

Then as you may have seen last week I got up SUPER early to go on a tour round Billingsgate Market then try out their festive breakfast offering. I seriously enjoyed the visit so much and am trying to work out when I can go back next to actually buy some fish - if I ever host a dinner party I know where I'm going.


So this new doughnut place called Crosstown Doughnuts has opened a little shop in Piccadilly Circus tube station and after walking passed it every morning for a few weeks I finally took the plunge with one of my colleagues. The doughnut you see above is one of their vanilla glazed doughnuts and OH. MY. DAYS. They are insane, I'm going to throw it out there and say it's probably the best doughnut I've ever had? They make their dough with half sourdough active yeast and have an amazing and innovative array of flavours, if you get a chance you've got to try them.


If I thought Billingsgate Market was amazing, this week I got to do something that literally blew my mind. I'll be writing a post on it over the weekend to explain fully but I was invited to a Malaysian supper club hosted by Malaysia Kitchen and the food was cooked by the winner of this year's Masterchef, Ping Coombes. I managed to get an invite for Shay and Amanda from Rhyme & Ribbons on the day and we all had the most amazing time enjoying great food and getting to know other foodie bloggers. Not only was Ping cooking the dinner (for the main we had the dish she won Masterchef with... just what the? Mind = blown) but she was absolutely lovely when she came round and spoke to everyone. I can't wait to share the details of the night with you all.

That brings us up to today, where we are having a Festive Christmas Jumper Day at work - see below for my amazing effort (although please excuse the inclusion of the toilet, I never take selfies so I am quite the novice). I had a gorgeously delicious Dub Sub from Sub Cult for lunch - pulled bbq jerk pork and crackling in a fab brioche bun with amazing sauces and all the yumminess in the world. I love getting my lunch there.


I had another doughnut from Crosstown too, this time a Rocky Road which had jam inside too... just heaven. I've been feeling suitably festive today what with all the jumpers at work and Christmas songs playing in the office - it's great!

What have you all been up to recently? Are you feeling the festive love of December yet?

CRUMB | Ruby Tandoh

I've been meaning to have a look at Ruby Tandoh's new book, Crumb, for a few weeks now since winning a copy from Elle Magazine's twitter competition on the day of the GBBO final. This weekend I finally got round to having a proper look through the book and trying out a recipe.

Camomile Vanilla Cupcakes

On first impressions, the book is of a good quality - I love the textured part of the cover which I know shouldn't matter when reviewing a recipe book but I think it's those little touches that really make buying a recipe book worth it. On further inspection, I remember thinking 'this is a BIG book'... it is heavy and there are a lot of pages. A round of applause goes to Ruby because there are an awful lot of recipes in this book, accompanied by interesting and relevant narrative about each recipe and inviting photography.

I think Crumb is aimed at a wide variety of people at different experience levels of baking - although I do think it excludes complete and utter beginners, but then that isn't a bad thing because there are PLENTY of beginner's baking books knocking around. In fact that market is probably quite saturated.  I actually think that Ruby's recipes are very innovative and nothing actually like I've seen in a book before. It's clear to see she has a great knowledge (already!!) of baking and has put a lot of work, research and ultimately love into the creation of this book.

Camomile Vanilla Cupcakes

One of the most poignant parts of the book is the usual equipment talk we get at the beginning of any book. Here Ruby has stated that in this book, you won't find any equipment used that isn't really essential in the kitchen; no gimmicky heart shaped silicon cupcake moulds here. She lists everything she assumes as an essential for a bakeware collection, and I have to say I agree with all of it and have now been convinced of buying an oven thermometer!

Normally, I prefer to not look at pictures in a recipe when trying something out, because it leaves an expectation of how something should look, and more often than not, rely on decorative skills that some of us just don't have. I like to have the freedom of being able to choose how a bake should look - to express myself in that way instead of being dictated by something/someone else. Although Crumb includes imagery of the made recipes, they have a sort of 'rough and ready' feel to the photos, almost like impeccable presentation isn't always as important as is made out, and actually the flavour and quality of the bake is much more important. And that I really like.

Camomile Vanilla Cupcakes

I decided to go with something simple for my first try from the book - Camomile Vanilla Cupcakes which I have to say taste absolutely divine - I love everything about the recipe, from it's slightly unconventional nature (in terms of the ingredient quantities that I'm used to) to how the flavour is taken from the tea bags - so obviously simple yet ingenious.

Camomile Vanilla Cupcakes

Camomile Vanilla Cupcakes

I literally can't wait to try more recipes from this book, especially really getting stuck into the bread section. Ruby's instructions are straight forward and to the point, but also include reasoning behind some of her method. It's written exceptionally well and you can see how much care and attention has been taken in constructing the recipes, chapters and book as a whole. If you haven't got this on your Christmas list, then I suggest you plan a re-draft.