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  • Posted on April 29, 2016

    Recipe for the Weekend

    If the weather today is anything to go by (sunshine, thunder, rain, hail…we’ve had it all in London this afternoon) then our planned barbecue for Bank Holiday Monday might be a little optimistic. But we remain hopeful. With this in mind, we thought we’d share something for the veggies as today’s #RecipefortheWeekend. The recipe is taken from 101 Vegetarian Grill & BBQ Recipes which is absolutely crammed with delicious alternatives to keep the vegetarians going all summer long. No cardboard masquerading as a sausage, or measly kebabs where the vegetables fall through the grill here, you’ll be fighting the carnivores for these hearty burgers!

    Mushroom Barley Burgers

    These tasty burgers are great for feeding a hungry crowd of friends, the simple ingredients go a long way and barley is a great texture for a burger, firm and pleasantly chewy. Serve with all the usual burger trimmings.

    65 g/⅓ cup barley, rinsed and drained

    1 slice wholemeal/whole-wheat bread

    1 small onion

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    225 g/1¾ cups mushrooms, trimmed and halved

    Leaves from a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley

    2 eggs

    1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

    50 g/½ cup grated cheddar

    1 tablespoon unsalted butter

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    9 wholemeal/whole-wheat buns or rolls

    To serve

    Lettuce leaves

    Tomato, sliced

    Ketchup

    Mayonnaise

    Pickles

    Makes 9 burgers

    Put the barley in a saucepan and add cold water to cover well. Add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 35–45 minutes. Drain and set aside.

    Put the slice of bread in a food processor and process to obtain crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and set aside until needed.

    Put the onion in the food processor and process to chop finely. Transfer to a non-stick frying pan/skillet, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and cook over low heat until soft.

    Put the mushrooms and parsley in the food processor and process until finely chopped. Set aside until needed.

    Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, add a good pinch of salt and beat. Add the mushroom mixture, cooked barley, onions, breadcrumbs, soy sauce and cheese and mix well.

    Preheat the barbecue/grill. Heat the butter and remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan/skillet. Working in batches, drop clementine-size balls of the mushroom mixture into the pan and squash gently to flatten with the back of a spatula. Cook on one side for 3 minutes, until browned, then turn over and cook on the other side for 3 minutes more.

    Transfer the burgers to the hot barbecue/grill and finish off the cooking process there for a further minute on each side. Serve hot in a bun with all the trimmings.

    101 Vegetarian Grill & BBQ Recipes is available here. Find more BBQ recipe ideas here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with mushrooms, savoury, burger, recipe for the weekend, cheese, vegetarian, tomato, 2016

  • Posted on April 25, 2016

    What to do after stretching

    What a weekend! We’re in awe of all the runners in yesterday’s London Marathon and it reinforces the notion that #ActiveApril has been worth it. Whatever you’ve been working towards we hope you’ve achieved your goal and are ready for some more motivation in May. We all know that stretching is very important to avoid injury (runners, have you checked out our stretching programmes on the blog?) but today’s post, from Dynamic Yoga, is for the post-stretch and equally important.

    Relax Pose

    It is essential to finish each posture practice session with the Relax Pose for a minimum of 10 minutes. This allows the body to rebalance itself after the effects of the poses.

    Lie on your back with your head and spine in alignment. Your arms should fall about 10 in. (25 cm) from your body, with your palms facing upward.

    Your legs should be about hip-width apart and your feet relaxed, so that they fall naturally to the sides.

    Slowly roll your neck from side to side, then tuck your chin in slightly and extend through the back of your neck.

    Consciously release any tension that remains in your body (especially your face and jaws).

    If you experience any tightness in your body, you can tense the muscles in that area, then release them.

    Once your body is relaxed, bring your attention to your breathing. Ujjayi breathing should be stopped at this point and replaced by silent natural breathing. As you exhale, imagine any remaining tension leaving your body; as you inhale, imagine vital new energy entering it. Try not to let the mind wander. If it does, gently bring it back to your breathing.

    After 10 minutes, start to bring the awareness back into your body. Raise your arms over your head and take a deep stretch, from toes to fingertips. Then roll over onto your left side and stay there for a few moments before getting up.

    Dynamic Yoga by Juliet Pegrum is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with mindfulness, quick, mind body spirit, healthy, 2016, exercise, yoga, Active April

  • Posted on April 22, 2016

    Wild Garlic Season

    On a country walk last weekend, we were greeted with the very recognisable smell of wild garlic (or ramps to our American cousins!) Even the most tentative forager could head out hunting for wild garlic as the scent is so distinctive and the rewards are great. There’s a whole chapter dedicated to this delicious ingredient in Jenny Linford’s latest book, Garlic, and in honour of the season (it’s quite short, so if you want to head out hunting, do it before June) we thought we’d share one of her tasty recipes. Enjoy!

    Wild garlic Miso Pork Stir-fry

    Wild garlic has a great affinity with Asian flavourings, such as ginger, soy sauce and Japanese miso paste. Cooked in just minutes and served simply with rice or noodles, this pork dish makes a perfect midweek supper. If you wish, tofu could be used instead of pork.

    1 tablespoon sunflower or vegetable oil

    1 cm/½-in fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

    400 g/14 oz. lean pork fillet, sliced into 1-cm/½-in strips

    1 tablespoon rice wine or Amontillado sherry

    1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

    1 tablespoon dark miso paste

    40 g/1½ oz. wild garlic leaves/ramps, rinsed well and chopped into 2.5-cm/1-in lengths

    Serves 4

    Heat a wok until hot. Add the oil and heat through. Add the ginger and fry briefly, stirring, until fragrant.

    Add the pork strips and fry, stirring, until lightened. Pour in the rice wine and allow to sizzle briefly. Add the soy sauce and miso paste and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes.

    Add the wild garlic/ramps and stir-fry until just wilted. Check the pork has cooked through and serve at once.

    For a vegetarian version of the dish, cube 400 g of firm tofu and pat dry. Add to the wok once the ginger is fragrant and stir-fry for 2–3 minutes until the tofu takes on a little colour. Proceed with the recipe as directed.

    Garlic by Jenny Linford is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with savoury, recipe for the weekend, quick, healthy, Asian, 2016, pork, garlic, foraging

  • Posted on April 20, 2016

    Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

    Author Fiona Bird was on BBC Radio 4 Midweek today talking to Libby Purves about her latest book Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside, life on South Uist and seaweed, and it was a fascinating chat; you can catch up here. Fiona is hugely knowledgeable about seaweed and the many things you can use it for (she even dropped off some seaweed shortbread at the office!) so we thought we’d share some of the seaweed-y wisdom to be found in this amazing book, along with a super easy craft project. Over to Fiona…

    Seaweed and its amazing uses

    Macroalgae is a really useful weed. You can pop seaweed in the bath, cook with it, or use it in craftwork. Plan a visit to a herbarium, where you will be able to see beautifully preserved plants and seaweeds—our ocean flowers—and find out the best ways to preserve a seaweed’s shape and color.

    Collecting, Drying, And Storing

    If you are not planning to use your seaweed fresh from the seashore, then it can easily be dried and stored for using in recipes or other projects later on.

    Collecting Seaweed

    There are a few rules to bear in mind when collecting seaweed from the seashore for use at home:

    Don’t pick storm-cast seaweed for cooking; only use seaweed that is growing.

    Do use a pair of scissors to cut seaweeds from their holdfasts at low tide on a clean beach. (Remember to take scissors with you when you visit the beach.)

    Don’t cook with floating seaweed or seaweed that grows at the top of the shore near drains. Sea lettuce and sea grass like growing here—instead, pick these seaweeds from rock pools at low tide.

    Do wash the seaweed in the sea so that any hidden “visitors” can find a new home locally. You should also rinse the seaweed in cold water when you get home.

    Do use a separate bag for each type collected, as this will make it easier to sort out your seaweeds when you get home.

    Drying Seaweed When you get home, wash the seaweed thoroughly. Rinse it in   cold water and squeeze out as much of the water as possible. A salad spinner is helpful here—spin the seaweed around, just as you would if preparing salad leaves.

    Next dry the seaweed. Lay the pieces of seaweed on a tray lined with newspaper or some paper towel—making sure that they aren’t touching—and leave to dry on a sunny windowsill. You could also pop the tray in a warm airing cupboard. On a sunny day, you can dry larger seaweeds such as sugar kelp by pegging them on a washing line. You can also dry seaweed on trays in a low oven or even in a food dehydrator if you have one. Some people dry seaweed in a hot oven, but you must be eagle-eyed if you do this and make sure that the seaweed does not burn.

    Storing Seaweed When you have dried the seaweed, cut it into manageable lengths or grind it in a food-blender. It is easier to grind a little at a time, pop it in an airtight container, and then repeat the process until you have used up all of the seaweed. Shake the containers when you remember and use the dried seaweed as a flavoring, just as you would herbs or spices.

    No-sew Seaweed Bath Sacks

    These easy-to-make bags make a lovely seaside vacation memory or gift. Younger children can practice knots as they tie the sacks. Soak the bath sack in your bath water for 5 minutes before you use it, unless, of course, you want to spend a long time in the bath. As the seaweed rehydrates, it releases a gel that has skin-softening properties.

    WHAT TO USE

    4 Dried seaweed, cut or broken by hand into short lengths

    4 Jelly bag, pop sock, or a leg of pantyhose (tights), cut below the knee

    4 Ribbon, for tying (optional)

    WHAT TO DO

    Stuff the dried seaweed into the jelly bag, pop sock, or section of pantyhose and then tie a knot (and a ribbon, if using) tightly at the top to make a sack. You can use colored or patterned pop socks or pantyhose if you wish to make your bath sacks look really pretty.

    Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside by Fiona Bird is available here.


    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Craft Projects, Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, school holidays, kids, photos, nature, activities for kids, 2016

  • Posted on April 15, 2016

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Happy Friday! You may have spotted that over on Instagram all week we’ve been celebrating our new book by Mat Follas, Vegetable Perfection, with a #VegoftheDay picture by the very talented Steve Painter. We've been enjoying highlighting the beauty in vegetables, and how looking beyond the supermarket packaging and uniformity can reveal some real treats! Today’s picture was a beautiful salad of celeriac remoulade with heritage beetroot and since we’re so keen to make it ourselves this weekend, we decided to share. Enjoy!

    Celeriac remoulade with heritage beetroot and fennel

    PREPARE: 60 MINUTES COOK: 45 MINUTES SERVES: 4

    The balance of the flavours is the key to this dish. The wonderful earthy, sweet flavours of the beetroot/beets, the peppery celeriac, the nutty oil and the fragrant fennel fronds to finish combine for melt-in-the-mouth perfection.

    8 beetroot/beets of various colours

    1 celeriac/celery root

    1 teaspoon English mustard

    2–3 dashes of Tabasco sauce

    1 bag of fresh rocket/arugula

    fennel fronds, to serve

    salt, to season

    MAYONNAISE (OR SUBSTITUTE NO-EGG MAYONNAISE)

    200 ml/3/4 cup first-press rapeseed oil, plus extra to serve

    1 egg

    1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

    a pinch of table salt

    First, make mayonnaise for the remoulade; you will need a handheld electric blender and a jug/pitcher of about 300-ml/10-oz. capacity that is only slightly larger in diameter than the blade end of the blender for following this method. Add the oil, egg, vinegar and salt to the jug/pitcher and wait for the egg to settle to the bottom, capture the egg under the base of the blender and, in short bursts of 2–3 seconds, pulse to emulsify the oil and egg together to form mayonnaise. Continue pulsing and slowly draw it up the jug/pitcher until all of the oil is combined to make a thick, yellow mayonnaise.

    Alternatively use 250 ml/1 cup of store-bought mayonnaise or a No-egg Mayonnaise.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) G as 4.

    To prepare the beetroot/beets, heavily salt them and wrap tightly in foil. Place on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and roast for about 45 minutes.

    Test if they’re cooked through by poking with a toothpick; it should be soft to skewer. Remove from the oven , unwrap from the foil and leave to cool for 30 minutes. Carefully peel off the outer layer, which should fall away easily, leaving you with beautifully cooked beetroot/beets. Slice into thin slices and set aside.

    To make the remoulade, peel the celeriac/celery root and carefully chop into matchstick-sized pieces. Mix with the mayonnaise. Add a generous teaspoon of English mustard and a few dashes of Tabasco, to taste.

    Assemble a handful of rocket/arugula on each plate. Spoon the remoulade over and arrange the sliced beetroot on top. Drizzle with a little rapeseed oil and decorate with fennel fronds.

    Vegetable Perfection by Mat Follas is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with beetroot, salad, savoury, Book Launch, vegetables, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, healthy, 2016

  • Posted on April 14, 2016

    Get in the garden for National Gardening Week

    One of the things we love about gardening is how everyone can get involved, no matter how big or small; tiny fingers are very useful for planting seeds in our experience. So, in honour of the Royal Horticultural Society’s #NationalGardeningWeek we decided to share a project from our children’s book My First Gardening Book that’s perfect for any budding green-fingered enthusiast! Best of all, in the spirit of getting everyone gardening, you don’t even need a garden!

    Eggshell Gardens

    The next time your family has boiled eggs for breakfast, ask everyone to eat their egg very carefully so that they do not break the shells—then you can fill them with miniature flowers and moss to make a tiny garden.

    You will need

    Eggs

    Knife

    Bowl

    Potting mix (compost)

    Garden sieve (optional)

    Egg cups or egg carton

    Pin

    Spoon

    Moss (available from florists)

    Plants with small roots: Forget-me-nots, Krauss’ spikemoss, Violets ‘Moonlight’, Sweet violets

    You can either eat boiled eggs and keep the shells or ask an adult to help you cut the tops off raw eggs using a knife. Do this over a bowl so you can tip the raw egg out—you can use it to make an omelet later!

    Rinse the empty eggshells carefully in warm water.

    Check that your potting mix (compost) isn’t lumpy. If it is, you can push a little of the mix through a garden sieve, if you have one, or use your fingers to break up any lumps.

    Place the each eggshell upside down in an egg cup or carton and very carefully make a few small holes in the bottom of each egg with the pin. This is so that the water can drain away.

    Put the eggshells the right way round in the egg cups or carton. Spoon a little potting mix (compost) into each egg, making sure that there will be enough room for the plants.

    Put one plant in each egg and add a little more potting mix. Gently push a small piece of moss onto the top of the potting mix if you wish.

    Hints and tips

    • The potting mix will dry out quickly, so water the eggshells every day with just a little water.

    • Flowers like violets will carry on flowering for a few weeks so “deadhead” them by pinching off any faded flowers. This will encourage new ones to grow.

    My First Gardening Book is available here.


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, school holidays, my first series, nature, activities for kids, gardening, 2016

  • Posted on April 11, 2016

    Active April: Power protein granola

    As part of our #ActiveApril blog series we wanted to share a power-packed breakfast recipe so that you can start the day right, whether you’re training for a race or simply walking to work. This power protein granola is taken from Jenna Zoe’s first book, Super Healthy Snacks and Treats, and it’s a great breakfast for busy mornings as you can make a big batch in advance. Tasty and full of energy-giving superfood ingredients, what more could you want from a pre-workout breakfast?

    Power protein granola

    Power protein granola

    I so named this recipe because it contains the three most “superfood-y” ingredients in the grain and seed category – chia seeds, buckwheat and quinoa. Granola is a food often associated with being healthy but most of the time granolas contain ridiculous amounts of sugar. Even healthier versions of it can be too heavy if they are made primarily with nuts, which means you can’t really have a bowl’s worth of the stuff. This version contains only about 4 tablespoons maple syrup for the entire batch, and no other added sugars in the form of dried fruits. It also has a high protein content too, since buckwheat, quinoa and chia seeds are composed of 13, 15, and 20 percent protein respectively. I often fill a mason jar with this granola and gift it to clients for special occasions, and it always receives rave reviews.

    Serves 8

    275 g/1 ½ cups buckwheat groats

    170 g/1 cup cooked quinoa

    3 tablespoons chia seeds

    35 g/ ¼ cup pumpkin seeds

    40 g/ ¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped

    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

    ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    60 ml/ ¼ cup coconut oil

    60 ml/ ¼ cup pure maple syrup

    3 tablespoons water (optional)

    baking sheet lined with baking parchment or foil

     

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

    In a large bowl, mix the buckwheat groats, quinoa, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg.

    Put the vanilla extract, coconut oil and maple syrup in a saucepan over low heat and allow to melt. Now pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients and toss to coat. Add the water if you prefer your granola a little less crunchy.

    Spread the granola out on the prepared baking sheet, and don’t worry if there are clumps. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour.

    When it has cooled for a few minutes, break it apart into clusters. Store in a cool place in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

    Serve with dairy-free milk and fresh fruit, e.g. blueberries.

    Super Healthy Snacks and Treats

    Super Healthy Snacks and Treats by Jenna Zoe is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK and was tagged with vegan, breakfast, sweet, healthy, Active April

  • Posted on April 8, 2016

    Recipe for the Weekend

    If you were paying attention on Instagram yesterday, you might have spotted that it was National Beer Day. Now, you know us, we’re big fans of craft beer and thanks to Mark Dredge and his excellent new book, Cooking With Beer, we can bring that love into the kitchen. So, in honour of yesterday and this new book, we are sharing one of Mark’s deliciously beer-y recipes. Have a great weekend and enjoy!

    Saison Salmon with beet and dill salad

    This is all about the beetroot salad. Sure, the Saison Salmon is really nice, but it’s the beetroot that’s the star. It’s inspired by a side dish I had in an East London restaurant that specializes in grilled meats and Middle Eastern side dishes. The dill has an amazing, savory, aniseedy quality, while the hazelnuts give a toasty crunch. With Saison as one of the ingredients, and also poured on the side, it lifts the dish majestically.

    Saison Salmon

    4 garlic cloves

    1oz (20g) fresh dill, plus extra to serve

    ⅓ cup (100ml) Saison

    2 bay leaves

    1 teaspoon toasted and crushed coriander seeds (ground coriander just isn’t the same here)

    1 tablespoon honey

    4 salmon fillets

    2 lemons (1 juiced and the other cut into thick slices)

    Salt and black pepper

    Flatbreads, to serve

    Beetroot And Dill Salad

    5½ oz (150g) cream cheese (or creamed goats’ cheese)

    1oz (25g) fresh dill, plus extra to serve

    Juice of ½ lemon

    3 tablespoons Saison

    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

    ½ teaspoon ground coriander (ideally freshly ground from toasted seeds)

    18oz (500g) cooked beetroot, chopped into ½ in (1cm) cubes

    Salt and white pepper

    1oz (25g) toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed, to serve

    Serves 4

    To make the Saison salmon, preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6.

    Combine all the ingredients, apart from the salmon and lemon slices, in a deep roasting pan.

    Season the salmon fillet skins and place skin-side up in the roasting pan. Arrange the lemon slices around the fillets. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes. When cooked, drizzle some of the cooking liquid over the salmon before serving.

    To make the beetroot and dill salad, mix all the ingredients in a bowl, apart from the beetroot and hazelnuts. When combined, add the beetroot and stir into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, according to taste.

    Enjoy the salmon with the salad, sprinkling over more fresh dill and the toasted hazelnuts when you serve. Fresh flatbreads work well on the side.

    Eat It With…

    Saison Dupont is the first beer I had with this salad and I’ve yet to find a better pairing. There’s something in how the earthy, orangey, spicy flavors in the beer work with the beetroot, dill, and cheese and enhances everything. It’s one of my top beer matches and one of my top beer side dishes.

    Cooking With Beer by Mark Dredge is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with fish, beetroot, salad, salmon, savoury, Mark Dredge, recipe for the weekend, Fish on Friday, 2016

  • Posted on April 4, 2016

    Active April: Stretching with Ease

    You might remember that we introduced our recently-published book, Stretching With Ease, with a #MotivationMonday blog post back in January? Well since several of us in the office are training for various races and events (including a couple of brave souls running the London Marathon at the end of this month), we decided to launch an #ActiveApril blog series. Join us each Monday for a new post, starting with a few more of author Linda Minarik’s stretches. These aim to improve your post-workout routine and help you avoid any pesky injuries. Linda suggests mixing up the stretches in our first post with the stretches below to improve your running performance.

    1. Upper back (flexion): backward pull, standing

    The Setup: Stand with your feet comfortably apart, about the width of your shoulders. Keep your knees slightly bent throughout the stretch. As you move into the stretch position, let your neck relax and your gaze drop.

    For this stretch, you will be leaning backward against a support that doesn’t move. Some possibilities in your home may be (a) a doorway with mouldings on either side that extend out from the wall and form convenient finger holds; (b) a floor-to-ceiling stationary pole; or (c) two doorknobs on either side of an open door. Even a stretching partner holding the other end of a towel can work, if the person leans back and counters your pull.

    The Stretch: Grasp your support firmly at approximately shoulder height, and slowly lean away from it, rounding your upper back and letting it expand backward. You are creating a “hollow back.” To get in touch with the widening feeling of this stretch, just keep imagining that you can feel your upper back getting broader. You may need to try the position several times, perhaps on different days, to allow your body time to learn how to execute it well.

    Don’t be too concerned if you feel your lower back responding to your commands for your upper back. Just keep concentrating on what’s happening in your upper back.

    ENLIST YOUR MIND

    Begin thinking about being able to tuck and tilt your pelvis. When you can do that, the next thing is being able to tuck and tilt your pelvis while keeping your ribs stationary. Of course these are movements for your body to do, but the first step in your ability to do a movement is a clear understanding of what that movement is.

    2. Lower back (flexion): hug and release, seated

    The Setup: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet in front of you. Hug your elbows around your thighs; grab each opposite elbow with your hands. Pull your chest right to the thighs. Bend your knees as much as you need to in order to feel your chest actually touching your thighs. You may already be experiencing the lifting-up feeling in your lower-back/sacral area. Relax your head forward so you do not tax the neck muscles.

    The Stretch: Very slowly, begin to straighten your legs. As you do, concentrate on keeping your thighs against your chest. Take as much time as you want to in your progress towards straightening your legs. At some point—farther away from the floor if you need more flexibility work, closer if you are more flexible to begin with—your chest will come away from your thighs. This is okay. Continue your slow descent toward the floor. When your legs become so straight that you have to release your arms from behind your legs, gently place your arms by your sides without disturbing your position.

    Stay in your final position a bit longer, reaching for the feeling of new length in your lower back and sacrum. This stretch works well when you perform it twice.

    ENLIST YOUR MIND

    Keep thinking: lift up, up and forward, up and forward. Be patient with your mind–body connection. If you discover that, when you gave the signal to lengthen your lower back, you have cricked your neck instead, then you know your body computer does not yet have a program for the thought you are sending it.

    Take a breath. Start again; repeat the signal. Leave it for the day; try it again the next day. You are educating your body to interpret the signals your mind sends it. You may be surprised at how much your body learned the next time you try this.

    3. Quadriceps: heel to buttocks, prone

    The Setup: Lie face down on the floor, with your legs at full length. The stretch will involve one leg and one hand, so you can either rest your chin on the other hand, or turn your head sideways and rest your cheek on your hand.

    The Stretch: Reach back with your right hand and grasp your right foot. Slowly bring your heel in toward your butt. The stretchy feeling will appear in the front of your right thigh (which is resting against the floor). Gently press your hip bone to the floor, taking away any bend in your hip. The right side of your body is now a straight line from shoulder to knee.

    When you first practice this stretch, you may be unable to reach your foot with your hand. You can hook a towel around your foot (either small or large, depending on the length you need) so that you can still pull your foot toward your butt. With practice you will gain more range, and the towel will become unnecessary. The stretch is at its maximum when your knee touches your butt. Repeat the stretch on the other side.

    Make sure your legs are together. The knee of the stretching leg should be right next to the knee of the straight leg—not winging out to the side. Also, check that your foot comes straight toward the butt—not to the outside or inside of it. Correct alignment will make sure you have no joint problems as you practice.

    ENLIST YOUR MIND

    You can get a subtle increase of stretch in this position by feeling into the front of your thigh with your mind. Take a couple of breaths to eliminate mental distractions. Imagine that your thigh is getting longer because it is separating from the hip joint and creating more space there. As you think this, gently send your right knee away from your right hip along the floor. If you are really tuned in to your muscles, you can feel greater space in the hip joint and greater stretch in the thigh.

    Stretching With Ease by Linda Minarik is available here. Happy #ActiveApril!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with mind body spirit, running, healthy, Motivation Monday, 2016, exercise, fitness, Active April, Stretching With Ease

  • Posted on April 1, 2016

    National Sourdough Day

    April sees the publication of our new book by master baker Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, How To Make Sourdough, AND today is National Sourdough Day (who knew, right?!) So, in honour of this auspicious occasion, we decided we’d get baking this weekend with an unusual loaf from this beautiful book. As with all sourdoughs, you need a starter before you start baking. Emmanuel shares his recipe for making the starter in the book, but you can use your own, or perhaps you know someone who has one going already. Happy baking!

    Olive And Tomato Rye Sourdough

    Savoury rye bread is quite unusual, but the sourness of the rye, the sweetness of the tomato and the saltiness of the olives makes this a winning combination. For the best flavour and texture, eat this loaf the day after you bake it.

    TIME PLANNER

    Making the pre-ferment 8 hours

    Making and shaping the dough 15 minutes

    Final proofing 1–2 hours

    Resting in the fridge 30 minutes

    Baking 30–40 minutes

    Cooling 30 minutes

    INGREDIENTS

    100 g/¾ cup dark rye flour, plus extra for dusting and topping the loaf

    3 g/½ teaspoon salt

    50 g/scant ½ cup chopped olives (I’ve used olives stuffed with anchovies)

    100 g/1½ cups sundried tomatoes (reduce to 1 scant cup if they are packed in oil)

    100 g/100 ml/7 tablespoons hot water (just boiled)

    For the pre-ferment

    100 g/¾ cup dark rye flour

    75 g/2½ oz. rye sourdough starter

    100 g/100 ml/7 tablespoons cold water

    EQUIPMENT

    18-cm/7-inch round sandwich pan, greased with vegetable or sunflower oil

    Makes 1 x 18-cm/7-inch loaf

    To make the pre-ferment, add the dark rye flour, the rye sourdough starter and the cold water to a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Leave to ferment for 8 hours or overnight, covered with a small mixing bowl acting as a lid.

    The next day (or after 8 hours), prepare the dough. In a small mixing bowl, mix the dark rye flour, salt, olives and sundried tomatoes together and set aside. This is the dry mixture.

    Add the dry mixture to the bubbling pre-ferment, add the hot water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

    Transfer the dough to the prepared sandwich pan.

    Sprinkle some extra dark rye flour on top for decoration. Slash the loaf with a sharp serrated knife or a lamé with a design of your own choice.

    Allow to rise for 1–2 hours. Cover with a shower cap or a small mixing bowl if a skin starts to form. You will know when the dough is ready because cracks and little air holes will appear on the floured surface.

    Preheat the oven to 250°C (500°F) Gas 9. Place a deep roasting tray at the bottom of the oven.

    Place the loaf in the preheated oven. Pour a cup of water into the hot roasting tray and lower the temperature to 220°C (425°F) Gas 7.

    Bake for 30–40 minutes until golden brown.

    Turn the loaf out of the loaf pan and tap it on the bottom. If you hear a hollow sound, it is ready. If the loaf is still soft, return it to the oven for a further 10–15 minutes.

    Allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack.

    How To Make Sourdough by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou is available to preorder here.


    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, bread, baking, savoury, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, tomato, Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, 2016

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