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  • Posted on July 21, 2016

    Summer Holiday Baking

    Now that the summer holidays are finally here, we’re sure you’re looking for fun things to keep your kids occupied and our book My First Cupcake Decorating Book is packed with loads of ideas. Flicking through, we reached this particular recipe and were immediately transported to school holiday baking of our youth and we knew we had to share it! If butterfly cakes don’t take your fancy, how about these super fun Ice Cream cupcakes or Cheeky Monkey cupcakes which we shared with our MAKE youtube channel earlier this year?

    Butterfly Cakes

    A butterfly surprise! A slice of cake forms the butterfly wings and they hide a layer of gorgeous buttercream frosting.

    You will need:

    Vanilla cupcakes

    ¾ cup (175 g) unsalted butter, softened

    1 cup (175 g) superfine (caster) sugar

    3 eggs

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1¾ cup (175 g) all-purpose (plain) flour

    3 teaspoons baking powder

    3 tablespoons milk

    Buttercream frosting

    1 stick (125 g) butter, softened

    1 tablespoon milk

    3 cups (375 g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar

    1 tsp vanilla extract


    12-hole muffin pan, lined with paper cupcake cases

    Makes 12

    Ask an adult to turn the oven on to 350ºF (180ºC) Gas 4. Line the muffin pan with paper cupcake cases.

    Put the soft butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until the butter is soft, creamy, and pale (if an adult is helping, you could use an electric beater).

    Break the eggs into a small bowl. Beat the eggs with a fork until the yolks have broken up and the mixture is bit frothy.

    Add a little egg to the creamed butter mixture and beat with the wooden spoon until the egg is all blended in.

    Then add a little more egg and beat again. Add a small sprinkle of flour if the mixture looks as though it is starting to separate (becoming bitty rather than smooth). Keep adding the egg until it is all used up and scrape any mixture down from the sides with a spatula.

    Add the vanilla extract and stir it into the mixture.

    Sift the flour and baking powder together into a separate bowl.

    Add the flour to the mixture in two halves. Fold the first half gently into the mixture with a big metal spoon. Don’t beat or over-stir it—gentle folding traps air into the mixture and will make the cakes lovely and light. When this is mixed in, add the second half and do the same.

    Carefully spoon the cake mixture into the paper cases in the muffin pan. Put the same amount into each one, so they are about two-thirds full.

    Ask an adult to help you put the cakes in the oven and bake them for 15–20 minutes until they are risen and golden and the cakes are springy to touch.

    Ask an adult to help you take the pan out of the oven and let it cool a little. Then lift out the cakes and put them on a wire rack to cool down. While the cakes are cooling, make your buttercream frosting.

    Put the butter in a mixing bowl. Add the milk.

    Measure the confectioner’s (icing) sugar into another bowl. Place a strainer (sieve) over the butter bowl and sift a little of the sugar into the bowl.

    Remove the sieve and beat the mixture together. Then sift in a little more sugar and beat again. Keep going until all the sugar has been mixed in and the frosting is light, fluffy, and smooth.

    Add the vanilla extract and stir it in evenly. If you would like to color your frosting, add a little food coloring paste or a couple of drops of liquid food coloring to the mix and stir it in well to get an even color.

    When the cakes are cool, slice a small disc off the top of each (just the top point—don’t cut right to the edge of the cake). Cut this disc in half and put the halves to one side.

    Cover the circle you have left on the cake with a blob of buttercream frosting.

    Push the two halves of cake into the frosting to form the wings of a butterfly. Decorate with sprinkles.


    My First Cupcake Decorating Book is available here. Don’t miss a video by subscribing to MAKE on Youtube here!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, cupcakes, summer holidays, school holidays, kids, recipe for the weekend, my first series, sweet, cake, activities for kids, 2016

  • Posted on July 19, 2016

    The Wiccan Guide to the Full Moon

    As even an amateur Wiccan knows, the moon is very important when it comes to spells and magic. With the full moon tonight, we thought we’d share some wisdom from our new book The Green Wiccan Herbal by Silja, as well as a simple spell to make the most of this important phase of the moon.  So, over to Silja…

    The moon is central in magic, and thus also in the growing of magical herbs. Sure, if you have green thumbs, your herbs will probably grow during any lunar phase, but if you plant and harvest your herbs during the correct lunar phase, you are likely to have more success and healthier, bigger plants—and that means more potent magic!

    For us witches, the spiritual aspect of the moon is paramount, but there is also a  physical reason why you should pay attention to the moon phases when planting and harvesting—the gravity of the moon affects not only the tides, but also the water levels in soil. During a waning moon and especially just before the new moon, the earth’s water level is at its lowest, so planting and harvesting herbs at these times makes sense in that you avoid having to work with waterlogged soil.


    The full moon is the best time to harvest plants and herbs above ground because magically, it is the time of completion, of things being perfected. Take note that flowering herbs should generally be harvested during the day, preferably in sunlight if at all possible. If you have to harvest your magical herbs at other times due to your work schedule, because they are getting too big, or it’s getting cold outside, consider waiting until the next full moon to “make them magical”, i.e., place them on your altar, transfer them into a magical oil, or put them into a charm bag.


    Called Esbats, full moon rituals are the traditional meeting day for covens. The moon's energy is at its strongest when it is full, favoring spells and magical rituals. In days gone by, there was also a more practical consideration— covens used to meet in forest clearings or on top of hills at night, and when there was not electrical light, the full moon helped to guide the way. The light of the full moon also helped the witches of old to see and harvest plants such as mistletoe. Mistletoe is traditionally gathered at night, as it is said to be more potent then, and the white berries are easy to see in the light of the moon. Also, because mistletoe is so magical, anyone seen gathering it would have been immediately suspected as a witch, Since witchcraft was considered a serious crime in the Dark Ages, it was best to harvest mistletoe at night, when other people were not likely to pass by.

    You do not have to be part of a coven to celebrate the full moon—it serves as a reminder for any Wiccan to practice their spirituality and take a monthly break from the mundane world.

    Herb and Crystal Full Moon Spell for Finding a Perfect Home

    Spell Ingredients
    ✩ Red clover flower
    ✩ Clear quartz crystal
    ✩ Bay leaf
    ✩ White thread

    On a full moon, place the red clover flower on the crystal and wrap them in the bay leaf. Secure the parcel with the white thread while chanting:

    “I ask the Moon Goddess so round

    A new home for me shall be found

    Nice rooms, and clean ground

    Happiness and comfort abound!”

    Carry the parcel with you when talking to agents or viewing houses.

    The Green Wiccan Herbal by Silja is available here.




    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with nature, mind body spirit, wicca, herbs, 2016, full moon

  • Posted on July 14, 2016

    Bastille Day recipe

    Brie de Meaux…Camembert…Roquefort…you can’t deny that the French do a good cheese! So, when thinking about what to cook for Bastille Day, we naturally turned to our new book, Cooking With Cheese. This salad is light,  yet flavoursome and makes use of ossau iraty – one of our favourite cheeses. And if you’re not sure what to drink, make sure you check out Isabelle Legeron’s French Natural Wine tips here.

    Ossau Iraty, Asparagus and Crouton Salad

    Ossau iraty is a French semi-hard sheep’s cheese with a nutty taste and creamy texture that complements the earthy beetroot/beets. Use Parmesan, Gruyère or Emmental, if you prefer.

    4 thick slices country-style bread, roughly torn into croutons

    3 tablespoons olive oil

    400 g/14 oz. asparagus spears, ends trimmed

    150 g/5 oz. mixed baby salad leaves

    4 raw chioggia or red beetroot/beets, cut into paper-thin round slices

    100 g/3½ oz. ossau iraty, thinly sliced into shavings


    6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    freshly squeezed juice of ½ small lemon

    freshly squeezed juice of ½ small orange

    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    1 garlic clove, peeled and halved

    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    SERVES 4

    Preheat the oven to 200˚C (400˚F) Gas 6.

    While the oven is heating, put all the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar, season and shake until combined. Set aside.

    Put the croutons in a small food bag and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Shake the bag until the croutons are coated in the oil. Spread the croutons out evenly in a large roasting pan and toast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, turning once, until golden and crisp.

    Brush the remaining oil over the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the asparagus in a separate roasting pan and roast, turning once, for 10 minutes until tender and just starting to colour.

    Meanwhile, arrange the salad leaves in four serving bowls. Top with the beetroot/beets and asparagus, then spoon enough of the dressing over to coat and toss gently until combined. Sprinkle the ossau iraty shavings and toasted croutons over before serving.

    Cooking With Cheese is available here.







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

  • Posted on July 13, 2016

    Wordless Wednesday: Living Retro preview

    Living Retro by Andrew Weaving, with photography by Andrew Wood, is available here.




    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with interiors, photos, quick, midcentury, 2016, retro

  • Posted on July 7, 2016

    Smoothie for the Summer

    We don’t know about you, but in the summer a breakfast of a big bowl of porridge, or even cereal doesn’t really appeal to us so we look to our books for some other options. This recipe from Hannah Miles’ Milkshake Bar is delicious at any time of day, but makes a refreshing and nutritious breakfast! Enjoy!

    Berry Smoothie

    Smoothies are popular yogurt-based drinks that are really refreshing. Made with frozen berries, which defrost as you blend, this drink has the perfect chill factor. You can use any combination of berries you like – strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are my favourites. Decorated with fresh fruit skewers, this cooling drink is perfect to serve when the sun shines.

    8–10 fresh berries of your choice (strawberries, blackberries and raspberries work well)

    2 tablespoons Berry Sauce (find the recipe in the book) or store-bought strawberry sauce

    300 ml/1¼ cups natural yogurt

    300 ml/1¼ cups milk, chilled

    150 g/1 cup fresh ripe strawberries

    250 g/2 cups frozen summer berries

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1 tablespoon runny honey, or to taste

    2 wooden skewers

    a squeezy bottle or piping bag with a small round nozzle/tip

    2 soda glasses, chilled

    2 straws

    SERVES 2

    Thread several berries onto each of the skewers and store in the fridge until needed.

    Put two tablespoons of the berry sauce in a squeezy bottle or piping bag and pipe a spiral onto the inside of each glass.

    Put the yogurt and milk in a blender, add the strawberries, frozen berries, vanilla extract and honey and blitz until all the fruit is blended. If your blender is not strong enough to crush the frozen berries, allow them to soften at room temperature before adding. Pass the smoothie through a sieve/strainer to remove the seeds, then pour into the prepared glasses. Add a fruit skewer and straw to each glass and serve.

    TIP The sweetness may need to be adjusted depending on the sugar content of the berries. Add a little more honey if necessary.

    If you like this recipe, check out Milkshake Bar by Hannah Miles, which is available here.



    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with brunch, fruit, Hannah Miles, recipe for the weekend, smoothie, quick, sweet, healthy, 2016

  • Posted on July 6, 2016

    Food for the Euros

    Happy Wednesday! There is a LOT of sport happening this week and as is often the case, our minds immediately turn to food. Whether you’re watching Wales v Portugal tonight, or France v Germany tomorrow, we’ve come up with some recipes celebrating your favourite teams. As we all know, quick to make and easy to eat with your hands (or at the very least balanced on a knee) is key here so we’re thinking tasty sandwiches and flavoursome bites.


    Nothing beats a grilled cheese sandwich and this welsh rarebit twist on the classic is delicious. Plus since, you’re opening a beer to make the cheese sauce, it would be rude not to raise one to the only home nation still in the competition…cheers! Find the recipe here.


    We have it on authority (of a colleague who visited earlier this year) that the humble tomato features a lot in Portuguese cooking. These tomato tacos are a great in-front-of-the-tv meal and are quick and easy to assemble. Find the recipe here.


    Breakfast for dinner screams to be eaten in front of the telly and this French twist on the brunch classic is ideal! Find the recipe here.


    You’d be hard-pushed to think of German food and not think of sausages, and who doesn’t love a sausage roll? Find the recipe here.

    Too nervous to cook? Bag of crisps and one of these dips will see you through!

    If it’s not the Euros, but Murray’s assault on a second Wimbledon title that’s got you excited, make sure you subscribe to The Pantry to receive this beautiful Wimbledon afternoon tea menu in your inbox this week! Join The Pantry here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with eggs, savoury, cheese, vegetarian, tomato, quick, sausage, avocado, 2016

  • Posted on June 30, 2016

    Recipe for the Holiday Weekend!

    Looking forward to Fourth of July? It’s technically not until Monday, but celebrations are getting well underway in America this weekend and we’re getting a bit of a headstart with this utterly delicious recipe from Carol Hilker’s latest book, Breakfast for Dinner! You are welcome.

    Maine Lobster Omelette

    According to food lore, the omelette has been around since the 16th century. Since then, many variations have emerged, from the ham, green pepper and onion combination in a Denver omelette to khagineh, an Iranian version in which eggs are beaten with sugar. The lobster omelette is popular on the East coast of the US, and is especially decadent when served with truffle-hollandaise sauce.

    6 eggs

    170 g fresh lobster meat, chopped

    10 g unsalted butter

    sea salt and ground black pepper

    115 g tomatoes, chopped

    1 teaspoon chives, chopped

    Truffle hollandaise

    3 egg yolks

    60 ml water

    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

    115 g cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

    1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

    a pinch of freshly ground black pepper

    a pinch of paprika

    a drizzle of truffle oil

    1 chive, chopped, to garnish

    Serves 2

    Preheat an oven to 110°C (225°F) Gas 1⁄4.

    To make the truffle hollandaise, whisk the egg yolks, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan until blended. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles at the edges. Stir in the butter, a piece at a time, until it has melted and until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat immediately and stir in the salt, pepper, paprika and truffle oil. Transfer the sauce to a small pot, ready to serve.

    Whisk the eggs together, then separate the mixture into two bowls and set aside.

    Spread the lobster onto an oven-proof dish and place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes.

    Over medium heat, warm a medium to large non-stick frying pan/skillet and add half the butter. As the butter melts, season one portion of the eggs with salt and black pepper. Add this egg mixture to the heated frying pan and stir gently with a spatula.

    As the eggs start to set, add half the chopped lobster, half the tomatoes and half the chives to the eggs and stir gently. Stop stirring and allow them to form for 1–2 minutes. Fold the omelette and slide it out onto a warm plate. Place the plate in the oven to keep the omelette warm. Repeat the same process for the second omelette. Serve immediately with the truffle hollandaise on the side.

    Breakfast for Dinner by Carol Hilker is available here. Head over to Instagram to find more holiday weekend food inspiration. Happy July Fourth!




    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with fish, eggs, savoury, recipe for the weekend, 2016, lobster, seafood

  • Posted on June 23, 2016

    Recipe for the Weekend

    This week marked the official start of summer. Not that you’d be able to tell, thanks to our Very British Weather. But that needn’t get us down. Our new book Appetizers is full of recipes to kick start every meal this summer, whatever the occasion. The zingy kick of lime in this delicious squid dish will transport you to the sunniest climes with every bite!

    Salt And Pepper Squid With Lime Aioli

    These deliciously crispy squid pieces taste so good because they’re cooked in lots of oil, but get the oil hot enough and they will be surprisingly light, not at all greasy or heavy. Serve with a tangy lime aioli on the side for dipping.

    600 g/1¼ lb. squid, cleaned

    75 g/½ cup rice flour or cornflour/cornstarch

    1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice

    1 teaspoon sea salt

    1 teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper

    vegetable oil, for frying

    1 long red chilli/chile, deseeded and thinly sliced

    20 g/scant ½ cup chopped coriander/cilantro

    lime wedges, for squeezing

    Lime aioli

    2 very fresh egg yolks

    1 garlic clove, crushed

    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

    250 ml/1 cup olive oil

    freshly squeezed juice and grated zest of 1 lime

    salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

    SERVES 4–6

    Begin by preparing the lime aioli. Put the egg yolks, garlic and mustard in a food processor and blitz to a paste. With the motor still running very slowly, add the oil in a slow, steady drizzle until it forms a thick sauce. Stir in the lime juice, zest and 2 tablespoons of water.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover and set in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

    To prepare the squid, cut down the ‘seam’ of the squid so it opens out flat. Pat dry with paper towels. Score the inside with a cross-hatch pattern then slice the squid lengthways into 2-cm/3⁄4-inch strips.

    Mix the rice flour or cornflour/cornstarch, Chinese five-spice, salt and pepper together in a shallow dish or plate. Toss all the squid pieces in the seasoned flour to coat and set aside.

    Pour vegetable oil into a frying pan/skillet or wok to a depth of about 2.5 cm/1 inch. Set over a high heat and bring to a smoking heat. Test whether it is hot enough to fry the squid by flicking some flour into the oil – it should sizzle vigorously.

    Shake off any excess flour from the squid strips and fry in the hot oil in batches for 2–3 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

    Remove the squid from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, while you cook the remaining strips in the same way. When all the squid is cooked, transfer to a large mixing bowl.

    Add the sliced chilli/chile and chopped coriander/cilantro and toss the squid to coat. Heap the squid onto a serving platter garnished with lime wedges and lime aioli on the side to dip into.

    Appetizers is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with fish, savoury, chilli, recipe for the weekend, quick, lime, 2016

  • Posted on June 20, 2016

    The Festival of Litha

    Despite the rather wet and dismal day, today (June 20) is the Summer Solstice, upon which the Wiccan festival of Litha is observed. Here we share some information about Litha from The Beginner’s Guide to Wicca by Kirsten Riddle, and a simple ritual you can follow to honor this point in the wheel of the year. If you would like to receive more news, advice, motivation and mantras from our Health, Mind, Body & Spirit books, make sure you subscribe to Mindful Living here. So, over to Kirsten…

    LITHA: June

    Celebrated over the longest day and the shortest night the summer solstice, Litha, marks a turning point in the wheel of the year. The goddess is pregnant and flourishing and the earth is bathed in light, but it’s all about to change: the return of the dark is imminent. The god, also known as the Oak King, is about to hand over the baton of power to his twin brother, the Holly King. This is the time of year to celebrate everything you’ve achieved so far, to embrace joy and to develop a sense of fun. The seasons are changing and winter is on its way, but this shift in balance is needed to keep the wheel turning.

    DEITY All sun goddesses, including the Norse Sunna and the Japanese Amaterasu

    ALTAR DECORATIONS Oak leaves, flowers (particularly sunflowers), bread, honey, yellow and orange candles

    HERBS All herbs

    COLORS Blue, green, orange, purple, red, yellow


    To honor the sun at the height of its power during this summer solstice celebration, rub a little sunflower oil into the wax of an orange or yellow candle. As you do this, think of all the things you’d like to manifest during the rest of the year. When you’re ready, light the candle and stand before it. Breathe in and, as you breathe out, imagine pouring your love into the flame, and see it rising up toward the sun. Say “I honor the strength and the power of the sun. I move forward giving thanks for all that is done. Upon this day, upon this hour, I embrace the might of the sun’s radiant power.” Let the candle burn down.

    The Beginner's Guide to Wicca by Kirsten Riddle is available here. You can also pre-order The Green Wiccan Herbal by Silja (published 14 July 2016) here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK and was tagged with 2014, quick, nature, mind body spirit, wicca, Midsummer, summer

  • Posted on June 16, 2016

    Jam Tarts for National Picnic Week

    The weather doesn’t quite seem to have been on board with National Picnic Week but that doesn’t matter! A floor-picnic indoors can be just as fun and this recipe from Will Torrent’s Afternoon Tea at Home is a great addition to any picnic, rain or shine!

    Jam tarts

    One of the first things I learnt to make at school in Food Technology classes was jam tarts. I’ve used Breton pastry which is aerated so gives you a wonderfully light and rich texture and filled with them different homemade fillings; here, strawberry jam, marmalade and lemon curd – delightful.

    150 g butter, softened

    100 g caster sugar

    3 egg yolks

    200 g plain flour

    ½ teaspoon baking powder

    a pinch of salt

    zest of 1 lemon

    zest of 1 orange

    8 tablespoons good quality jams and curds of your choosing

    a 6–7-cm/2–3-inch fluted round cookie cutter

    2 x 12-hole muffin pans, greased

    Makes 24

    Combine the butter with the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until pale and light – this will take about 5 minutes.

    Gradually add the egg yolks one at a time and mix until they are thoroughly combined. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Add the salt and grated citrus zest and fold in using a rubber spatula or large metal spoon. The dough will be soft and buttery.

    Gather the dough together, form a ball and flatten into a disc. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours until firm.

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

    Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 2 mm/1 ⁄16 inch. Using the cutter, stamp out discs from the dough and gently press into the prepared muffin pans.

    Drop a teaspoonful of jam or curd into each tart and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 12 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the jam is bubbling.

    Leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely – the jam and curd needs to set before serving.

    Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent

    Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent is available here.




    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, recipe for the weekend, quick, sweet, 2016

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