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  • Posted on October 21, 2014

    Great Ormond Street Bake it Better

    Yesterday, we held a Bake it Better bake sale in the office to help raise some dough for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. With sweet treats baked from a selection of our books, we had everything from indulgent chocolate muffins and tasty lemon squares to salty pretzants (a pretzel-croissant mash-up!) and biscuits, and everyone in our office came down to have a taste. We all had a lot of fun flicking through the recipes, eating cake and dropping our coins into the pot!

    Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity raises money to enable the hospital to provide world class care and to pioneer new treatments and cures for childhood illnesses. With some generous donations for the baked goods, we were thrilled to be part of such a great event and raising money for such a good cause. If you'd like to learn more about Bake it Better and find out how you can hold your own bake sale then click here.

    Below are the tasty treats and the books that we baked them from, all available now!

    To find out more about the books, click on the one that takes your fancy below!

       

     

    Thanks to all for your donations and to the bakers for providing us with such tasty treats! We hope our dough will help bake it better. Enjoy the rest of your week everyone!


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  • Posted on October 20, 2014

    A week with Hans Blomquist

    As you may have seen last week we had a wonderful blog tour for Hans Blomquist In Detail hosted on some of our favourite interiors blogs! So last Monday we packed our virtual spotted hanky on a stick, took one last look at our own little blog and headed off on a big adventure! We were so lucky to have all these beautiful blogs taking part and you can see more about their posts below.

    On Monday, decor8 kicked us off with this great post featuring 5 Things I Liked About This Book, 5 Things That I Learned By Reading This Book and 5 Ways I’d Like To Use This Book. ‘Moody, gorgeous photography – each photo has a cinematic feel to it – like you are watching a gorgeous film’

    Tuesday saw a delightful review on Lobster and Swan, and Felix even snuck in! ‘I am especially in awe of his ability to beautify dark rooms, walls and surrounding’

    This gorgeous book was at the heart of the blog tour but on Wednesday we got to know the man behind the magic a little better thanks to The Lifestyle Editor’s Q&A feature.

    On Thursday, Such Pretty Things posted a review, illustrated by gorgeous details from the book. ‘Whilst the book is absolutely stunning…it is far more than just another pretty book filled with pretty images’

    And last, but by absolutely no means least, Décor Art UK finished us up with a wonderful review on Friday, focusing on each chapter in turn and illustrated by more of the book’s stunning photography!  ‘a very beautiful book that will teach you to take in every detail’

    Phew! What a busy, beautiful week! We’re so glad to have been able to share some of this book with you. If you’re feeling inspired (and really, how could you not be?!) you can order the title here.

    In Detail by Hans Blomquist, with photography by Debi Treloar and Hans Blomquist, published by Ryland Peters and Small.


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  • Posted on October 17, 2014

    A Celebration of Vanilla!

    This week has been a busy one and so we’re looking forward to a relaxing weekend, enjoying some lovely autumnal fare! Today is the inaugural National Real Vanilla Day, hosted by LittlePod and Bickleigh Castle in Devon, with two days of events and classes. To celebrate here at RPS towers we wanted to share this gorgeous recipe from Vanilla by Janet Sawyer of LittlePod for this week's Recipe for the Weekend. We think this delicious traybake will be a perfect post-lunch treat on Sunday, and we may even make vanilla custard to have with it too!

    Lumberjack Cake

    LittlePod supplies the Exploding Bakery, whose pastries travel to London and Paris every day. Its owner, Tom, told me about the origin of one of his favourite cakes: ‘Flicking through a copy of Australian Women’s Weekly, as I am prone to do, I came across a rather rugged and handsome-looking cake that appealed to all my manly confectionery needs. When it came out of the oven we duly scoffed it down, noting the uncanny resemblance to a sticky toffee pudding: delicious sweet dates and dense, moist sponge. Add to this the apple and crunchy caramelized coconut and you have yourself one hell of a tasty traybake...’

    FOR THE CAKE:

    250 g chopped dried dates

    1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

    175 g butter

    300 g caster sugar

    2 eggs

    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    400 g plain flour

    1 teaspoon salt

    500 g apples

    FOR THE TOPPING:

    75 g butter

    125 g soft light brown sugar

    100 ml milk

    70 g desiccated coconut

    a 30 x 18-cm traybake pan, lined with baking paper

    serves 8

     

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4. Put the dates in a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda, add 330 ml boiling water and set aside to cool.

    Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, then add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat vigorously until fluffy, then gently fold in the flour and salt, taking care not to overmix it.

     Peel and remove the cores from the apples, then finely chop them. Stir the apples into the bowl of dates (this will help them cool down). Fold the apples and dates into the cake batter.

    Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40–50 minutes. If a knife or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

    Meanwhile, make the topping. Place all the ingredients in a heavy-based pan and cook gently over low heat until the butter melts, or heat in a microwave-proof container. Give it a good stir.

    Remove the cake from the oven, spoon the topping mixture onto it and spread it out evenly, then return it to the oven for a further 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

     

    Vanilla by Janet Sawyer is available here.

     Happy Friday everyone and enjoy your Vanilla!


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  • Posted on October 16, 2014

    The one where we bought a pumpkin...

    Last night we had a super evening filled with charcuterie, cornichons, cheers and chums at Muddy Boots, The Modern Meat Company.

    Celebrating the launch of an absolutely cracking new book by our lovely author, Miranda Ballard, we enjoyed a delightful selection of salumi themed treats, a delicious glass (or two?!) of Sauvignon Blanc and great company to chat and laugh the night away!

    The book took centre stage with beautiful photography by Steve Painter, Miranda’s scrumptious recipes and the kind of feel that makes you just want to pick it up and flick through the pages!

    Congratulations Miranda! The book is fantastic and the evening was so much fun. Can we do it all over again?!

    If cured meat recipes and delicious salumi platters sound good to you, then Miranda's book Charcuterie is available here.

    And in case you were wondering, we picked up a pumpkin from a nice man setting up his stall at Borough Market on the way home... it will now forever be the launch where we bought a pumpkin!

     


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  • Posted on October 15, 2014

    How an editor became a poker queen!

    Coinciding with this year’s European Poker Tournament currently taking place in London (8th – 18th October) and celebrating the launch of her book, How to Become a Poker Queen, Rebecca McAdam held a wonderful poker party at The Grand Connaught Rooms last night where we had the chance to learn about the game, gather her top tips, as well as play a friendly (though competitive!) tournament. We had a fantastic evening and even walked away with a few prizes!

    Whether you’re new to poker or have some experience, Rebecca will show you how to hone your instincts and truly become a poker queen. Below are her tips for beginners and a few pictures from the evening!

     

    Tips for beginners

    I recently asked professional poker player Ben Jenkins to show some people I work with how to play poker and teach them tips on how to be successful early on in their poker journey. As they bounded out into the world ready to take on allcomers I thought that his advice would be perfect in preparing you for your time at the felt. Here are the wonderful Ben Jenkins’ tips:

     

    Keep things simple

    Poker can be a complicated game, but it doesn't need to be. It's possible to make your decisions in a way that will make potential future decisions easier. I always advise beginners to be mindful of this. For example, you're playing No Limit Hold ‘em and have Q-Q, there is $13,450 in the pot and the community cards read Jh 7c 6h Qc. You are first to act with 10,500 chips in your current stack and two opponents still in the pot. While you have the best hand possible right now, there are many possible hands your opponent can have that can outdraw you. I see a lot of people trying to keep their opponents in the pot in this spot, betting around $4,000–$6000, only for a card to roll off on the river leaving a tricky situation where your opponent has likely made a flush or straight. Instead I'd recommend moving all-in on the turn – the pot is already quite big and most hands your opponents could have are draws, since there is only one queen left, and a lower set or two pair probably won't fold. In any case we don't want cards to fall that stop these hands paying you off for the maximum! Sometimes your opponents will want to gamble with their draw too, or believe you are trying to push them off a hand with a draw yourself and  call with a weak hand that is drawing dead to your top set. Either way you eliminate any tricky guess-work you may have had to make on the river. By keeping the pot simple for yourself you have ensured that you can't make a mistake, and in poker you largely profit by forcing opponents into mistakes.

     

    The tournament is under way...

     

    Play the good hands!

    Pairs, big aces and suited broadways (10-J, J-Q, Q-K or K-A belonging to the suit) are the best hands because they hit the flop the most often, making the strongest hands – sets, top pairs, straights and flushes. Making the best hands is going to make you a favourite to win the pots while also making the game easier. If you find yourself making a second and third pair a lot, you can end up in a lot of tricky spots and we're trying to keep it simple.

     

    Play your hands in position

    When you have the button or are to the right of it (the ‘cutoff’), then you are going to be able to watch the action before making your decision. Poker is a game of incomplete information, but by trying to play most of our hands ‘in position’ - that is last to act – we have much more information than everybody has had to act before us. The more information you have the easier it will be to make a good decision and avoid a mistake. Be very selective about what hands you play from early position where the positional disadvantage is the most acute. 'You want hands that will remain strong once the flop is dealt – typically big pairs and aces – and to actively look for opportunities in which to aggressively press any positional advantage you may have. In late position, typically the button and cut off; small pairs and suited connectors become much more playable – although not from a shallow stack as you need enough chips behind to realise the implied odds of these hands (taking into consideration future betting) when you do hit a good flop.

     

    The prizes!

     

    Playing live

    Online poker is a great way to get into poker – you can play a lot of hands quickly from the confines of your own home without worrying about giving any tells away. However, many people also enjoy playing live where you get to meet, and chat to, many different opponents. People often remark that they find some of the aspects of live poker quite daunting; they are worried about giving away tells, muddling around with chips or acting out of turn. Largely I think these fears are unfounded if you take your time, breathe and remain calm, follow the action and concentrate on other people, how they are acting, and how they play their hands. You'll be too busy to worry about giving off tells yourself, but if you think you are, then find a routine and do the same things every hand. Don't be the player holding their cards to fold before it’s your turn, look at your cards and place your hands on the table the same way each time. If you aren't comfortable handling chips, don't play around with them, and when making bets, announce them to the dealer and use the largest chips you have. If ever you are unsure of the action, for example who is next to act, then ask the dealer. Remember, in poker we are simply trying to avoid mistakes. Also, take the time to get to meet your table mates. There are many interesting people that play poker – it's a very social game. Relax and enjoy it. Ultimately, nothing is more valuable than experience in poker; it can act like aversion therapy. After seeing the same situation repeatedly, if you are paying attention, you will begin to instinctively know what’s going on. You will begin to interpret the information you gather at the table more accurately, such as people’s betting patterns or the way they handle their chips or hold their cards, which will lead you to make better decisions. There is a lot to be said for good strong logic in poker, so take your time, think things through, have a plan and be consistent. I love the challenges the game presents to me. I've played for over ten years but am still constantly learning and evolving the way I think about the game. Be reflective; if you aren’t sure about a hand you have played don't be shy to ask a more experienced player what they think. Not everybody plays the same, and there is not usually one right course of action, but it never hurts to take on board other people's opinions. Most of all though, have fun, nothing else will keep you motivated to improve more, and of course, it never hurts to be lucky once in a while.

     

     

     

    How to Become a Poker Queen by Rebecca McAdam is available here.


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  • Posted on October 14, 2014

    Get to Grips with Crystals

    Throughout history crystals have been regarded as a source of power and healing, but it can be difficult to know where to begin, and what you need for your current situation. But a new book by Golnaz Alibagi is on hand to help you out! The Essential Guide to Crystals is packed with information on the many merits of various crystals. The book is helpfully organised into chapters covering different areas of your life, such as home, love, friendship, and work, and Golnaz tells you which crystals you need, whatever situation you find yourself in. Today on the blog we wanted to share with you some of Golnaz’s tips for getting a new job, and what to do once you’re there!

     

    NEW JOB

    Whether you’re just starting out in the world of work or wanting to move on, a new job represents a radical change in your life and so is bound to get the nerves jangling. Calm pre-interview jitters by putting a Black Sapphire crystal under your pillow to ensure you sleep well and are able to do yourself justice. For more of a helping hand, dress to impress by accessorizing your favorite lucky outfit with a Hematite crystal. The gem will strengthen your personal magnetism, and help you blow their socks off! Then, once you’ve been hired, waltz into your new job without any fear by carrying a Serpentine gem in your wallet or purse. This will help you to hit the professional ground running, and ensure you make a dazzling impression.

    Hematite

    Alternative gemstones:

    Black Sapphire: Amazonite, Adamite, Magnetite.

    Hematite: Zircon, Mookaite, Adamite.

    Serpentine: Yellow Tourmaline, Blue Sapphire, Cinnabar.

    Serpentine

    Thinking big Forget thinking outside the box—break out of it altogether by holding a Stone of Dreams to help you live each day as if it’s your last, and ensure you don’t leave the world with your music, or any regrets, still inside you.

    Alternative gemstones: Bronzite, Tiger’s Eye, Fire Opal.

    Taking action There’s only one place where progress comes before work and that’s in the dictionary! So stop dreaming and start scheming by placing a Jasper crystal in your office to help you get your projects out of your head, and into the world.

    Alternative gemstones: Septarian, Diamond, Tiger’s Eye.

    Jasper

    Completing projects Stick to your projects like icing on a cupcake by placing a Hemimorphite on your desk to help you stay motivated, and prevent you from giving up before the recipe for your success is fully baked and served to perfection.

    Alternative gemstones: Honey Calcite, Picasso Marble, Red Chalcedony.

    Hemimorphite

    Motivation Keep your drive sky high by spending five minutes holding a Poppy Jasper each morning. Visualize all the fabulous things your project will lead to, and your enthusiasm will soon know no bounds. and help you manifest your dreams.

    Alternative gemstones: Sardonyx, Tiger’s Eye, Larvakite.

    Larvakite

    The Essential Guide to Crystals by Golnaz Alibagi is available here.


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  • Posted on October 10, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Autumn has definitely arrived, and she’s brought with her flurries of leaves, shiny conkers and some rather unwelcome showers. So we’re very much looking forward to a cosy weekend, with perhaps a blustery walk in the park if the rain stays away. Simple and warming, this delicious casserole will be the perfect post-walk fare and it’s taken from our new title, A Gourmet Guide to Oil and Vinegar by Ursula Ferrigno. And don’t forget that you can enter our twitter competition to win a copy of this beautiful book.

     

    Nonna Ferrigno’s Chicken Casserole

    This recipe is revisited so frequently in my home, not just for its taste, but also for its ease of cooking. It is tasty, satisfying and also a one-pot meal, which is very useful for time-short mums. I have experimented over the years with various combinations, sometimes using smoky bacon, lardons or pancetta. All these are good variations, but not necessary.

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 tablespoons Italian ‘00’ flour

    8 chicken thighs, bone and skin on or off, depending on your preference

    3 tablespoons olive oil

    2 celery stalks, finely chopped

    1 medium carrot, diced

    1 red onion, diced

    150g chestnut/cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped

    1 garlic glove, crushed

    3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

    2 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped

    1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

    3 bay leaves

    6 tablespoons Italian passata/strained tomatoes

    6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (not too small)

    Handful flat leafed parsley

    To serve:

    Focaccia or crusty bread

    Serves 8

    Add a little salt and pepper to the flour, and coat the chicken in it.

    Heat a flameproof casserole dish, add the olive oil and heat gently. Add the chicken, cook until coloured and remove. Add more oil if necessary and add the celery, carrot, onion, mushroom and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Add the chicken, vinegar, 500ml water, herbs, passata and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

    Simmer for 45 minutes, checking that the casserole is not drying up and stirring it periodically.

    Garnish with parsley and serve with focaccia or crusty bread to mop up the juices.

     

    A Gourmet Guide to Oil and Vinegar by Ursula Ferrigno is available here.

    Have a lovely weekend, and don't forget to enter our competition!


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  • Posted on October 10, 2014

    Don't go down to the woods today...

    It’s a bit crochet crazy in the office this week - we’ve been enjoying this cute little video full of crochet characters, we’ve got a Fairytale Crochet giveaway on Twitter, and Nicki Trench’s Crochet Basics is our current book of the week - so we thought it was only fair to share a crochet project with you today!

    A lot of you have voted Hansel and Gretel as your favourite fairytale, so we’ve picked this adorable pair for you to make. The book also includes instructions to make the accompanying scenery for each fairytale, so if Hansel and Gretel look a little lonely then they might just need a wicked witch, a gingerbread cottage and a garden to stand with (or run away from!)

     

    Hansel and Gretel

    Hansel and Gretel are brother and sister; they are quick to make and can be customized to your own wishes. I have made free standing figures but you could easily make cute egg cosies or finger puppets by omitting the skirt base and stitching a simple lining inside – if so, work Hansel’s bottom half as for Gretel.

     

    Skill level: **

     

    Size

    Gretel – 10cm (4in) tall

    Hansel – 11.5cm (4½in) tall

     

    You will need

    Gretel:

    • DK (light worsted) yarn:

    Oddments of yellow (A), flesh ton or peach (B) and silver-green (F)

    10g (3/8oz) each of red (C) and pink (D)

    • Scraps of coloured felt in greens and pinks
    • 2.5cm (1in) square of cream felt
    • Heart shape button

     

    Hansel:

    • DK (light worsted) yarn:

    10 g (3/8oz) of brown (A), yellow (C), green (D) and red (E)

    Oddments of flesh tone or peach (B) and silver-green (F)

     

    Both:

    • 3mm (US D/3) crochet hook
    • Removable stitch marker
    • Tapestry needle
    • Embroidery thread or 2ply yarn in bright colours

     

    Abbreviations

    blo                        back loop only

    ch                          chain

    cont                      continue

    dc                          double crochet

    dc2tog                  double crochet two sts together

    dtr                         double treble

    htr                         half treble

    pm                         place marker

    ss                           slip stitch

    st(s)                      stitch(es)

    tr                           treble

    rep                        repeat

    rem                      remaining

    yrh                        yarn round hook

     

     

    GRETEL

     

    Head:

    Using yarn B, 2ch, 6dc in 2nd ch, ss in first dc tojoin, pm.

    Round 1: 2dc in each st around. (12 sts)

    Rounds 2–5: Dc around. (12 sts)

    Fill head with toy stuffing.

    Round 6: [Dc2tog] 6 times. (6 sts)

    Fasten off yarn B.

     

    Bodice:

    Round 7: Join yarn C at st marker, dc(blo)around. (6 sts)

    Round 8: 2dc in each st around, ss in first dc tojoin. (12 sts)

    Rounds 9–10: Dc around. Fasten off yarn C.

     

    Skirt:

    Round 11: Join yarn D at st marker, 3ch (countsas 1tr now and throughout), 1tr at base of ch, 2trin each st to end. (24 sts)

    Round 12: 3ch, tr around.

    Round 13: Rep Round 9. (24 sts)

    Fasten off yarn D.

    Round 14: Join yarn F at st marker, 1ch, dcaround, ss in first dc to join. (24 sts)

    Round 15: [5ch, miss 2 sts, ss in next st] 12times. (12 ch loops)

    Fasten off yarn F.

     

    Skirt base

    Base ring: Using yarn C, 2ch, 6dc in 2nd ch, ss infirst dc to join. (6 sts)

    Round 1: 3ch, 1tr in base of ch, 2tr in each staround. (12 sts)

    Round 2:1ch, 2dc in each st around. (24 sts)

    Fasten off yarn C, leaving a 15cm (6in) tail.

     

    FINISHING

    Fill bodice and skirt with toy stuffing. Use tail of Skirt Base to attach to inside skirt to contain the stuffing.

     

    Hair:

    Using yarn A, 2ch, 6dc in 2nd ch from hook, ss infirst dc to join, pm.

    Round 1: 2dc in each st around. (12 sts)

    Round 2: [1htr, 1tr, 3dtr in next st, 1tr, 1htr, ss innext st] twice.

    Fasten off A.

     

    Plaits:

    Cut 15cm (6in) length of yarn A, fold in half andput hook in fold, insert hook through end of dtrin Round 2, ss through dtr and 5ch using doublethickness of A. Tie off and trim both ends of yarnto make a plait. Rep for other plait.

    Use tail of yarn A to attach hair to head.

     

    Flower in hair:

    Insert hook into surface of hair at one side, using yarn D, yrh and draw through loop, 5ch, ss inbase of ch, 3ch, ss in base of ch. Fasten off andweave in ends.

    Stitch a tiny green felt leaf next to flower.

     

    Face:

    For embroidery stitches see pages 122–123 and page 124 for making faces. Use French knots and black or brown yarn for eyes and peach for the nose. Make two tiny red stitches for a mouth and use cross stitch in pink to make 2 rosy cheeks.

     

    Arms:

    Follow the instructions on page 125; I have given Gretel long red sleeves but you can use anycolour or sleeve length you like.

     

    Apron:

    Stitch cream piece of felt onto front of the skirt, shaping the bottom so it’s rounded. Use a contrasting thread to stitch a tiny patch of felt onto skirt at side of the apron.

     

     

    HANSEL

     

    Head:

    Using yarn B, 2ch, 6dc in 2nd ch, ss in first dc to join, pm.

    Round 1: 2dc in each st around. (12 sts)

    Rounds 2–5: Dc around. (12 sts)

    Fill head with toy stuffing.

    Round 6: [Dc2tog] 6 times. (6 sts)

    Fasten off yarn B.

    Round 7: Join yarn C at st marker, dc around. (6sts)

    Round 8: 2dc in each st around. (12 sts)

    Rounds 9–11: Dc around. Fasten off yarn C.

    Fill body with toy stuffing.

     

    Knickerbockers:

    Round 12: Join yarn D at st marker, dc(blo)around. (12 sts)

    Round 13: [2dc in next st, 1dc] 6 times. (18 sts)

     

    Legs:

    Round 14: Miss 8 sts, insert hook into next st,yrh, draw yarn through both loops on hook, 8dc (makes first leg).

    Round 15: 8dc.

    Round 16: [Dc2tog, 1dc] twice, dc2tog. (6 sts)

    Fasten off yarn, leaving a 10cm (4in) tail.

    Rejoin yarn to second leg-hole. Dc one round, then rep Rounds 15 and 16.

    Fasten off.

     

    Hair:

    Round 1: Using yarn A, 2ch, 6dc in 2nd ch fromhook, ss in first dc to join, pm. (6 sts)

    Round 2: 2dc in each st around. (12 sts)

    Round 3: Ch3, 1htr in next st, 1tr in each of next 6 sts, 1htr (leave rem 4 sts unworked).

    Fasten off, leaving a 7.5cm (3in) end and set aside.

     

    Cap:

    Round 1: Using yarn E, 2ch, 6dc in first ch, ss infirst dc to join, pm.

    Round 2: 2dc in each st around. (12 sts)

    Row 3: 3ch, 3tr in next st, ss in next st, leaving rem 9 sts unworked.

    Fasten off.

     

    FINISHING

    To make the wired legs and arms follow the instructions on page 125, using yarns B and C to wrap arms, E for legs and A for feet. Stitch hair and cap to top of head, using the yarn tails.

     

    Braces:

    Using yarn D, ss in any st at left-hand side front of Round 12, 12ch, take ch over shoulder, ss in any st on right-hand side of back. Fasten off yarn. Rep on other side to make second brace.

    To make lederhosen, embroider a chain stitch from right brace to left in a straight line. Weave in ends.

     

    Embroidery:

    Embroider eyes, nose as for Gretel, use a brownor neutral thread to embroider the mouth.

     

    We hope you enjoy the project and don't forget to head over to Twitter for a chance to win the book!

     

    Fairytale Crochet by Louise Tyler is available to pre-order now.

     

    Have a lovely weekend everyone and let's all go crochet crazy!


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Craft Projects, Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, cico, cico books, blog, book, craft, crafts, craft book, craft author, amazon, Blogger, handmade, competition, crochet, nicki trench, weekend, video, 2014, Crochet Basics, Fairytale Crochet, fairytale, Louise Tyler, hansel and gretel, wicked witch, gingerbread cottage, crochet project, crochet video

  • Posted on October 8, 2014

    Competitions!

    We're into October and our newsletter has just gone out, including the most beautiful whippet, an adorable crochet collection, some fabulous food books and two great giveaways! If you missed out this month and quite fancy receiving news, projects and competitions from us first hand, then make sure you sign up for next month's newsletter and tell us what you're interested in so we can send you the things that you'll love!

    First up, we've got every foodie's dream book, The Gourmet Guide to Oil & Vinegar by Ursula Ferigno. This sumptuously illustrated book provides the reader with an overview of speciality oils and vinegars and offers up a variety of recipes and tips for how to season and cook with them. We're going to share a recipe on Friday to give you a little taster of the book, so pop back and try something truly delicious over the weekend!

    For your chance to win 1 of 3 copies of A Gourmet Guide to Oil & Vinegar, simply follow us on Twitter @RylandPeters, re-tweet any #oilandvinegar tweet and tell us your favourite oil or vinegar to cook with!

     

    Next up, we've got the cutest crochet book around - Fairytale Crochet by Louise Tyler - which has been causing a real stir in the office as we got to create this comical little video with the characters! Check back on the blog tomorrow to give one of the projects a go and get thinking about your favourite fairytale for your chance to win a copy!

     

    We've got 3 copies of Fairytale Crochet to giveaway, so follow us on Twitter @CICOBooks, re-tweet any #fairytalecrochet tweet and tell us your favourite fairytale to enter!

     

    The lucky winners will be announced on Monday 20th October. Good luck everyone and enjoy the rest of your week!


    This post was posted in Competitions, UK, US, Videos, Videos, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, cico, cico books, blog, gourmet, ryland, small, ryland peters small, book, craft, crafts, recipe, craft book, craft author, amazon, Blogger, events, recipes, cooking, favourite, competition, autumn, weekend, twitter competition, win, 2014, giveaway, Fairytale Crochet, fairytale, favorite, Oil, Vinegar, Guide, A Gourmet Guide to Oil and Vinegar, Ursula Ferigno, Louise Tyler, newsletter, news, interests, sign up

  • Posted on October 3, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend: Pizza Month edition!

    Earlier this week we celebrated the launch of the fabulous The Crumbs Family Cookbook by Claire and Lucy McDonald and you can read all about the excellent party here. In honour of this, we wanted to share one of their recipes as our Recipe for the Weekend today and since October is Pizza month, we thought what better weekend treat than Claire and Lucy’s Friday Night Pizza! (Although we have to say that we think this would be delicious just about any day of the week!) Enjoy!

    Friday Night Pizza

    We always have pizza on a Friday. After a week of work and school it is comforting not to have to think about what to eat, for the pizza dough has been rising since lunchtime. It is a family ritual and one I hope will continue ad infinitum. At the moment we have two sittings. Them at 6, often with friends. Us at 9, often with wine. OK, always with wine. The only decision needed is what to put on top and what to watch on the telly.

    Ingredients

    500g (3½  cups) strong white bread flour, plus a little extra

    2 tsp fast-action dried yeast

    2 tsp salt

    olive oil

    2 tsp honey or sugar

    Start to finish: this requires a little effort and involves different stages but don’t let that put you off. It is time-consuming, but once you’ve developed a routine it takes little headspace. Allow about 20 minutes hands-on preparation plus proving and cooking time

    Makes: approx 4 pizzas

     

    Making the dough Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a big bowl (or a food mixer bowl if you are using one). Spoon the olive oil and honey or sugar into a measuring jug and top up with warm water to just over the 300ml (1¼  cups) mark. Make sure the water is not too hot; otherwise the yeast, added in the next stage, won’t work (it’s magic). Stir well.

    Kneading by hand Slowly pour the liquid into the flour a little at a time. Either with a wooden spoon or your hands, work the mixture together until you have a soft dough. If it is too sticky, add more flour; if too dry, more warm water. Turn the dough out on a floured worktop and – biceps ready – start kneading. Pin down part of the dough with one hand and use the heel of the other hand to stretch the dough away from you on the work surface. Then fold the dough back on itself and give it a quarter of a turn. Then another quarter. Then another quarter. And another. In fact quite a few more quarters. After about 10 minutes (arms aching yet?!) the dough will be more supple and will start to bounce back when you prod it. Hurrah! It’s done.

    Kneading with a food mixer This is much quicker, although a less sensual, hands-on experience. Pour the liquid into the bowl containing the flour, yeast and salt and using the dough hook attachment, start mixing until everything is combined and you have a plump dough – this will take about 5 minutes.

    Let it prove Now the fun bit: cover with a damp tea/dish towel and leave to rise, ideally somewhere warmish but not too hot. To prove, the dough has to double in size. Officially, if you have all day or overnight, you should let it prove in the fridge as this slows down the process. I leave mine all day in a warm kitchen and return from the school pick-up to a big puffy dough-creature. When it is proved, my children take it in turns to punch the dough and flatten it out. Whenever I have a go, I find it satisfying, but oddly never as cathartic as I expect. I obviously need a proper punch-bag instead.

    Get it into shape Next, you need to knead it briefly again. This time just for about a minute or so, or 30 seconds with a dough hook. Then allow it to rise again – this time for about 30 minutes.

    Cut it into four pieces with a knife. Try to make the pieces roughly the same shape as the pan you are baking the pizzas in. This sounds weird, but it is then easier to roll into the right shape. I always bake my pizza in rectangular baking trays, after an Italian friend told me it was much easier.

    You may see pizza chefs flinging dough around to sculpt something quite perfect. I don’t know how they do that, because I have tried and failed so now always roll mine out on a lightly floured worktop. I then transfer it to the baking tray, where I continue to roll it out until it reaches the edges. I can usually get four pizzas out of this amount of dough if I make the crust thin enough.

    Toppings Smother the pizza base with Everyday Italian Tomato Sauce (see below) or tomato purée/paste and your preferred toppings. Unlike a sandwich, less is more with a pizza. If you laden it with fillings, it will have a soggy bottom and be too top heavy. Our favourite pizza toppings are capers (always capers!), blue cheese, salami, spring onions/scallions, halved lengthways, mini mozzarella balls and pesto.

    Baking In a move that will shock pizza chefs everywhere, to make sure the bottom cooks properly, I put each pan on the hob/stovetop for about 20 seconds on a medium heat and blast the pizza base from underneath, before baking at 240°C/475°F/gas mark 8 for 10 minutes. Cook until the cheese is brown and bubbling. If the base is still soft, remove it carefully from the pan and put it directly on the oven rack for a couple of minutes until crisp.

    Everyday Italian Tomato Sauce

    Ingredients:

    2 x 400g (14 oz) tins of tomatoes

    75g (5 tbsp) unsalted butter

    1 medium onion, peeled

    and halved

    salt and pepper

    Start to finish: 5 minutes prep + 45 minutes simmering

    Place the tinned tomatoes in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the butter and the onion. Bring to a simmer and let it bubble away for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to break up the tomatoes. Once cooked, fish out the onion; it’s just there to add flavour. Then blitz with a hand-held blender, or keep it chunky, depending on your preferred texture. Season with salt and pepper. Congratulate yourself on the Italian authenticity of this dish. Feel a little bit smug.

    The Crumbs FamilyCookbook by Claire and Lucy McDonald is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Recipes, Recipes, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with books, cico, cico books, blog, book, recipe, homemade, amazon, Blogger, recipes, cooking, autumn, recipe for the weekend, weekend, 2014, launch, Crumbs Sisters, The Crumbs Family Cookbook, launch party, crumbs, crumbs girls, Claire and Lucy McDonald, Pizza, Pizza Month, National Pizza Month, italian tomato sauce

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