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  • Posted on February 6, 2016

    Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester

    To celebrate the imminent publication of Will Torrent’s new book, Afternoon Tea at Home, Will and head pastry chef of The Dorchester, David Girard spent a busy morning in The Dorchester kitchen chatting all things afternoon tea. The book features guest recipes from some of the world’s top afternoon tea institutions, including The Dorchester’s delightful Beehive Tarts. Here Will and David talk about just why we love afternoon tea so much, and David shares his patisserie secrets with a step-by-step for making the perfect caramel!

    Will: What is it about afternoon tea that people love so much?

    David: Afternoon tea is an experience, a special moment you share with people you care about. It’s also very relaxing. You choose the tea, a classic sandwich and a scone, but the real surprise is the patisserie…you can create something individual, for a specific moment. It’s all about stopping for two hours in the afternoon and just enjoying the passing of time.

    W: How and where do you get your inspiration for all of your lovely patisserie?

    D: The patisserie must be seasonal. I also read a lot, think a lot and look at social media. I share my idea with some of my team and we sit down and draw out what we want to do. Then we just try until we get the result! I also actually work with our floristry designer, so we can work on the same colour palette for the patisserie and the flower bouquets.

    W: What is your favourite part of afternoon tea? The pastries, the sandwiches, the scones or something else?

    D: I will say as a pastry chef, it’s always the patisserie I get excited about, but as I said, I think the whole experience has to be memorable.

    Thanks David! Now to turn our hands to the caramel...

    CARAMEL

    4 g/2 sheets leaf gelatin

    200 g/1 cup sugar

    300 ml/1¼ cups double/heavy cream

    A pinch of salt

    90 g/6 tablespoons butter

    To make the caramel, first soak the gelatin in cold water for 10 minutes. Put the sugar in a pan set over a medium heat, leave it to melt, then turn up the heat and bring to the boil – be careful not to boil too much as you only want to caramelize it slightly.

    In a second pan warm the cream, then carefully pour over the melted sugar – it will bubble up a lot.

    Add the salt, bring back to the boil and remove from the heat.

    Add the butter and stir until melted. Drain the gelatin and squeeze off any excess water before adding to the caramel. Stir in, then pour into a jug/pitcher and set in the fridge to cool.

    For the Dorchester afternoon tea, David uses caramel as a filling for these cute ‘Beehive’ Tarts. You can find the full recipe in Will Torrent’s new book, Afternoon Tea at Home.

    Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent is available to pre-order here.


    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with sweet, 2016, Afternoon tea, patiss, caramel

  • Posted on February 5, 2016

    Modern Dim Sum for The Year of the Monkey

    Here at RPS Towers we are very fond of bite-size food. Canapés…tapas…appetizers, we love them all. So naturally, we were very excited when copies of our new book, Modern Dim Sum by Loretta Liu, landed recently. With Chinese New Year on Monday we thought it was time we shared one of Loretta’s delicious dumpling recipes. The book includes the recipes for making your own dough, and we’re sharing that too, but if you’re feeling lazy, you can buy dumpling skins from a good Asian supermarket. We won’t tell if you don’t!

    Pork and leek jiaozi

    Traditional jiaozi are extremely popular at holiday celebrations such as Chinese New Year. Often prepared in an assembly line by various family members, these tasty dumplings are enjoyed by children and adults alike. The folded, plump pleated shape is a nice easy one to start with.

    1 batch Wheat Dough (see below)

    100 g/3½ oz. firm tofu, drained and sliced into small cubes

    A pinch of salt

    100 g/3½ oz. minced/ground pork

    2 Chinese chive stalks, white parts removed, finely chopped

    A large handful of fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped

    1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    2 tablespons dark soy sauce

    2 tablespoons sesame oil

    1 leek, finely chopped

    2 button mushrooms, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon sunflower oil

    black vinegar, for dipping

    MAKES 16

    Prepare the wheat dough following the instructions from the basic recipe below. While the dough is resting, begin the filling. Sprinkle the tofu slices with salt and set aside for 30 minutes before squeezing out the excess water.

    In a large bowl mix the minced/ground pork with the tofu and the rest of the ingredients apart from the sunflower oil and black vinegar.

    Roll out the skins, continuing to follow the instructions below. Place a small tablespoon of filling neatly into the centre of a skin. Dip your fingertips into a small dish of water and slightly moisten the edge of half the skin. Fold the skin in half over the filling. Pinch one end together and make small folds to form pleats. The end result should be a plump sealed pocket.

    Tap the dumplings base-down on your work surface to finish. As you are working, set aside the finished dumplings on a floured baking sheet under a damp cloth so they do not dry out.

    Heat the sunflower oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan/skillet. Lightly fry the dumplings until golden brown on the bottom. To finish off the cooking process, place the dumplings in a large pan of boiling water. Cover with a lid and poach until they float to the surface.

    Serve the dumplings hot with black vinegar for dipping.

    Wheat dough

    150 g/1 cup + 2 tablespooons Asian white wheat flour

    80 ml/scant ⅓ cup water

    MAKES 16 SKINS

    Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and combine with the water to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 20–25 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Separate and roll into two equal cylinders about 2.5 cm/1 inch in diameter. Cover with a damp kitchen cloth and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

    To prepare the skins, use a sharp knife to slice the dough cylinders into 16 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each piece with a rolling pin until it has a round shape and a diameter of around 7.5 cm/3 inches.

    Modern Dim Sum by Loretta Liu is available here. Happy Year of the Monkey!


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, chinese new year, savoury, recipe for the weekend, Asian, 2016, world food, pork, Loretta Liu

  • Posted on February 3, 2016

    Wordless Wednesday: February Preview

    Photograph by:: 1. Mark Lohman 2. Lisa Cohen 3. Paul Massey 4. Mark Lohman 5. Paul Massey 6. Jan Baldwin 7. Jan Baldwin

    Perfect English Cottage by Ros Byam Shaw is available here.

    Romantic Prairie Style by Fifi O'Neill is available here.

    Simply Scandinavian by Sara Norrman is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with interiors, Wordless Wednesday, 2016, preview

  • Posted on January 29, 2016

    Recipe for the Weekend: Breakfast Week Edition

    This week we’ve been celebrating National Breakfast Week over on our instagram, with some of our favourite breakfasts from our books. This particular image was hugely popular when we shared it last weekend, so we thought we’d pop it on the blog and raise our ‘brinner’ game!

    Paris-Style Eggs Benedict

    This variant on a traditional French breakfast comes with bacon, Brie and poached eggs, all assembled on top of a pretzel croissant and drizzled with Hollandaise sauce. This decadent and delicious dish makes the perfect lazy Sunday brunch or, if you’re in the mood, a fun breakfast-for-dinner. If you can’t find pretzel croissants, a normal croissant works just as well.

    60 g/¼ cup butter

    4 slices bacon

    2 teaspoons white or rice vinegar

    8 slices Brie cheese

    4 eggs

    4 pretzel croissants

    Butter, for spreading

    A dash of tabasco sauce (optional)

    A couple of sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to garnish

    Freshly ground black pepper

    Classic hollandaise

    140 g/⅔ cup unsalted butter

    3 egg yolks

    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

    ½ teaspoon salt

    SERVES 4

    To make the hollandaise sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Put the egg yolks, lemon juice and salt in a blender and blend on medium to medium-high speed for 25 seconds or until the eggs lighten in colour. Change the blender speed to the lowest setting and very slowly, pour in the hot butter and continue to blend. Add salt and lemon juice to taste. Transfer to a small jug/pitcher.

    Melt some butter in a large frying pan/skillet over low to medium heat, and when the pan is hot, add the bacon, turning it occasionally until warm.

    While the bacon is cooking, fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the vinegar and let it come to a boil again. After the water boils, reduce the heat to a simmer.

    Next, poach the eggs. The easiest way is to do one egg at a time. Crack the egg into a small bowl and slip it into the barely simmering water. Once the egg begins to solidify, slip in the next egg and so on until you have all 4 cooking. Turn the heat off, cover the pan with a lid and let the eggs sit for 3–4 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs. Starting with the first egg you cracked, gently lift them out with a slotted spoon and set them down in a bowl or on a plate.

    Toast and butter the croissants. Top with the bacon, 2 slices of Brie and a poached egg.

    Sprinkle on Tabasco sauce if desired. Pour the hollandaise sauce over the top and garnish with flat-leaf parsley and ground black pepper to taste.

    Breakfast for Dinner by Carol Hilker is available here.


    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with january, eggs, savoury, breakfast, brunch, recipe for the weekend, bacon, 2016

  • Posted on January 25, 2016

    Motivation Monday: looking forward to Spring cleaning

    As January draws to a close we’re taking a moment to look forward to Spring in today’s #MotivationMonday post and specifically Spring Cleaning. Wait! Come back! We know it’s a scary phrase but honestly, it helps, and our new book Lillian Too’s 168 Ways to Declutter Your Home and Re-Energize Your Life is on hand to guide you through every step of the way! With today’s post we’re starting small, focusing on just one room and following Lillian’s tips to de-clutter our bedrooms.

    Treat bedrooms as sacred spaces

    Keep your bedroom free of clutter for peaceful, restful sleep. Treat this area as if it is a sacred space, since this is where you spend all of your sleeping, subconscious time. It is where you leave the conscious world, and go into another dimension. Here is where you dream dreams, and let yourself go. Here is where you rest, cocooned from the world. So keep this space sacred and special.

    Keep the energy of the bedroom free from energy that is negative, harmful, stale, or hostile–so throw out things that make the energy turn sour. Instead, place only things you love in your bedroom, things that make you feel pampered and beautiful.

    Practical Tips

    1. Don’t store clothes high on elevated shelves in your bedroom. This is a bad idea because they create heaviness above the sleeping level. Store your winter wardrobe in a storeroom and keep all of your suitcases in another room.

    2. Keep all exercise equipment, bikes, and wall mirrors out of the bedroom. Your place of rest is not your gym.

    3. Make sure that all work-related junk is kept away from the bedroom. Do not have a work desk here, so that you eliminate the danger of work-junk piling up inside the bedroom. Keep computers and telephones out. Let children have a special study room, rather than a desk in their bedroom. If there are insufficient rooms in your house for this, try to place the desk a little away from the bed so that junk that builds up on the desk does not affect the sleeping child.

    4. Keep all dirty clothes inside a laundry basket. Nothing is more yin than dirty clothes, and the energy permeates any room pretty fast.

    5. Do not place junk under, over, or beside a bed. Keep beds clean at all times.

    6. Keep all doors clear of junk so that they open and close smoothly.

    7. Never hang questionable art on the walls of your bedroom.

    8. Keep windows clear of clutter. Curtains can be left open or closed at night, but it is advisable to let the light flow in once the sun shines. Nothing brings in better yang energy than morning sunlight.

    Lillian Too’s 168 Ways to Declutter Your Home and Re-Energize Your Life is available here.

    Don’t forget to check out all our #MotivationMonday posts.


    This post was posted in Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with january, New Year, detox, interiors, mindfulness, mind body spirit, home, 2016

  • Posted on January 25, 2016

    National Breakfast Week Giveaway

    We're big fans of breakfast here at RPS and CICO Books Towers, whatever time of day! So naturally we were delighted to learn that it's National Breakfast Week and to celebrate, we've got a copy of our brand new book, Breakfast for Dinner, for one lucky winner. All you have to do to enter is sign up to our food and drink community below. And for more breakfast goodness, head over to Instagram where we will be sharing a breakfast of the day all week. Good luck! You can find a sample recipe from this book here.



    This post was posted in Competitions, News, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with event, brunch, Book Launch, quick

  • Posted on January 22, 2016

    Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race

    Happy Friday! Burns’ Night is literally just around the corner (25th January for those not in the know…that’s Monday) and we're quite excited. So, you could just buy a Macsweens Haggis, followed by Cranachan and a wee dram of something delicious. OR you could do it the Muddy Boots way and make your own haggis this weekend. Go on, be Brave(heart)!

    Homemade Haggis

    This is such a delicious, good-value and nutritious meal. I love the full tradition with the offal and stomach casing, but they’re not always easy to source, so this has an alternative version to achieve an equally delicious flavour and texture.

    75 g/2½ oz. lamb’s liver

    100 g/3½ oz. each of lamb’s heart and lamb’s lungs or 200 g/7 oz. lamb mince/ground lamb

    100 g/3½ oz. beef suet or vegetable shortening

    A big pinch of allspice

    A pinch of cayenne pepper

    1 small red onion, finely chopped

    1 garlic clove, finely chopped

    A big pinch of freshly chopped parsley, plus extra to garnish

    1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

    30 g/2 tablespoons tomato purée/paste

    120 g/¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

    salt, to season

    1 sheep’s stomach (alternatively, use baking parchment)

    ‘NEEPS AND TATTIES’

    1 swede/rutabaga

    2 baking potatoes

    A large knob/pat of butter

    Black pepper, to taste

    Butcher’s string/twine

    SERVES 2

    Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3.

    Finely chop the liver, heart and lights/lungs, if using, or chop the liver and mix it into the lamb mince/ground lamb. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the chopped suet/vegetable shortening, allspice, salt, cayenne pepper, onion, garlic, parsley, white wine vinegar, tomato purée/paste and oats.

    Then either stuff into the stomach and seal the end with butcher’s string/twine or squeeze into a tight ball. Place into the centre of a square of baking parchment and twist or tie the ends to lock it in.

    Wrap in a layer of foil and place into 1 cm/ inch of water in the bottom of an ovenproof pan. Set a lid on top and cook in the preheated oven for 2 hours. Remove the haggis from the casing, season with salt and slice it to serve.

    ‘Neeps and Tatties’

    While your haggis is cooking, you can make your ‘neeps and tatties’, the accompaniments for this famous Scottish meal. Peel and chop the swede/rutabaga and potatoes into small dice. Boil separately (or together, if you prefer), drain and mash with the butter and freshly ground black pepper.

    This recipe is taken from Modern Meat Kitchen by Miranda Ballard. For more cooktchery tips and tutorials, why not check out our videos with Miranda on The Pantry YouTube channel.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with New Year, savoury, Miranda Ballard, recipe for the weekend, tomato, Burns Night, Scotland, 2015, meat, Modern Meat Kitchen

  • Posted on January 18, 2016

    Motivation Monday: Stretching with Ease

    Did you decide to take up running in 2016? Perhaps you’ve got a specific goal distance in mind? Maybe you’re starting from the absolute beginning with a Couch to 5k running programme? (We know a good one…) Or even just want to get running for 20 minutes a couple of times a week? Whatever your ultimate goal, you need to make sure you’re stretching properly before and after your run, which is where today’s #MotivationMonday comes in. Taken from our new book, Stretching With Ease by Linda Minarik, these stretches are designed to help ensure that “your gait becomes fluid and easy; you move with efficiency and confidence”.

    1. Back: Spiral

    The Setup: Lie on your back on the floor, using a carpet or mat for comfort. Place your arms by your side, palms down, forming an “A” shape (fingers reaching away from you at 45 degrees to your torso).

    The Stretch: Bring both your knees as far in to your chest as you can. Drop both knees over to the left side and let them rest where they fall. Keep your right shoulder down on the floor. The stretch here is produced by your knees pulling away from your shoulder, causing your spine to form its characteristic spiral shape. Repeat the stretch on the other side.

    2. Side hip: lying on side

    The Setup: Lie on your right side with your legs stretched out, one on top of the other. Place a rolled-up towel under your right hip. The placement of the towel is important: it goes between your pelvic bone (iliac crest) and your thigh bone (greater trochanter). Get familiar with both these bony landmarks on your side before you place the towel. You don’t need to know anatomy: just feel the bones that come to the surface at your hip and thigh.

    The Stretch: The stretch appears in the side of your hip facing the ceiling. In other words, the towel lifts your bottom hip so you can experience greater range in the top hip. Gently brace yourself with the open palm of your left hand. You can rest your head either in your hand (elbow bent) or on your straight right arm. Repeat the stretch on the other side.

    3. Hip Flexors: kneeling lunge

    The Setup: Kneel with your right leg forward and left leg behind you. Adjust the width of your stance for balance: for more stability, move your forward leg a little farther to the right. Your right toes should line up in front of your heel—make sure they are not rotated outside your heel. Your front knee can be a little behind the ankle—just not in front of it. This protects your knee from strain. For more support, kneel between two chairs, and place your hands on them if needed. Otherwise, place your hands lightly on your front thigh. Hold your neck in a comfortable position—neither too lifted at the chin nor too bowed toward your chest. Just comfortable, without strain. Looking straight ahead helps to accomplish this.

    The Stretch: Gently tuck your pelvis. The stretch will appear in the left leg—the back leg—at the hip-flexor level in front. When you experience the stretch in the right spot, you can intensify it by moving your front leg a little more forward. Ultimately, and with practice, your back hip will be much lower to the ground. On your way there, you will have moved your front foot forward in many small increments. Now comes an important point, which cannot be stressed enough. The hip-flexor stretch contains the beginning of a lovely back extension—also called an arch. Whenever we practice developing the back extension, we always encourage length: spine goes up as well as forward, to avoid scrunching the lower spinal vertebrae together. Repeat the stretch on the other side.

    4. Thighs: hamstrings

    The Setup: Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and shoulders relaxed. With your knees bent, roll your spine slowly downward, beginning at the top of your head, tucking your chin, and slowly rolling down through all your spinal vertebrae. When you pass your waist with your head, pull in your belly button to support your lower back as you continue to descend toward the floor. Stop when you are at the full extent of your present hip flexion range. Your head and neck remain relaxed. Your view is of your own legs. You may already be feeling a stretch. Note how far your fingers are from the floor, so that you can compare their distance after you execute the stretch.

    The Stretch: Slowly straighten your legs. Take all the time you need. If you can straighten your legs without lifting your back up at the same time, you will achieve a deeper stretch. Here we emphasize stretch in the hamstrings. But keep in mind that, if your back is more in need of stretching, that is what you will feel. Any stretch that addresses the hamstrings will also lengthen the back. What you feel is determined by the area you most need to stretch.

    5. Calves: floor, leg straight

    The Setup: Stand facing a wall with your left foot forward and right foot back.

    Your left knee is bent; your back leg is straight. Place your hands on the wall for support at about shoulder height. Make sure your hip bones are even, that is, our pelvis is not rotated sideways in either direction. Place the heel of your right foot directly behind the toes: make sure the toes are not “winging” outside the heel.

    The Stretch: Move your right foot gradually back, until it is as far back as you can move it without lifting your heel from the floor. You will feel this stretch in the “fat” part of your calf, below your knee. Repeat the stretch on the other side.

    5b. Calves: support, knee bent

    The Setup: Stand on a step with your hand on a support, e.g. a stair railing. Your feet are about shoulder width apart. Your left heel hangs off the step, with your weight on your right foot. Find a secure spot on the ball of your left foot where your foot feels stable as you hang your heel comfortably off the step. At this point your left leg is straight.

    The Stretch: Slowly sink your left heel down off the step. Now gently bend your left knee, while still sinking your left heel down as far as you can. The stretch is still in your calf, but it now shifts to the lower part, nearer to the ankle and Achilles tendon. Repeat the stretch on the other side.

    Stretching With Ease by Linda Minarik is available here, and don't forget to check out our other #MotivationMonday posts. Happy stretching!


    This post was posted in Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with january, New Year, mind body spirit, 2015, healthy, Motivation Monday, exercise

  • Posted on January 15, 2016

    Recipe for the Weekend: Raw Food

    As you might have noticed on our Instagram and Twitter feeds this week some of the Publicity Pod have been following the 5-day plan from Anya Ladra’s Raw Food Detox. This has meant juices and lemonades in the morning and evening, with a delicious salad in the office at lunchtime. One of our favourite things about the plan has been the rainbow of colours we’ve been eating. Just look!

    These three were all delicious, but the unanimous favourite was Wednesday’s Rainbow Salad with Wild Rice which we thought we’d share today. So, whether you’re detoxing, or just want to expand your salad repertoire from limp lettuce and chopped cucumber, we’re sure this one is a winner! Don't forget that in January, all new subscribers to The Pantry receive a copy of our healthy eating guide, Eat Well, Live Well so make sure you JOIN TODAY!

    Rainbow Salad With Wild Rice

    All the rainbow colours come together here to create a wonderful taste!  Additionally, the walnuts and wild rice provide bags of nutrition and an interesting texture.

    130 g/¾ cup wild rice

    1 large carrot, julienned

    1 red (bell) pepper, seeded and julienned

    1 small raw beet(root), peeled and julienned

    ½ small sweet potato, peeled and julienned

    1 handful of fresh dill, chopped

    1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped

    ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

    ½ teaspoon grated orange zest

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1 handful of rocket/arugula

    1 handful of walnuts

    Citrus Dressing

    Makes about 350 ml/1½ cups

    Freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange

    Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

    1 tablespoon nama shoyu (unpasteurized soy sauce)

    1 tablespoon agave nectar

    ¼ fresh red chilli, seeded and chopped

    1-cm/⅝-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

    150 ml/⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil

    Serves 4

    For the citrus dressing, put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Stir again before serving.

    Put the wild rice in a bowl of cold water and allow to soak overnight.

    The next day, thoroughly drain the rice and put in a bowl with the carrot, (bell) pepper, beet(root), sweet potato, dill, parsley and lemon and orange zests. Mix well and season to taste.

    Serve on a bed of the rocket/arugula with the citrus dressing and walnuts.

    Raw Food Detox by Anya Ladra is available here.

     


    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with january, vegan, carrot, salad, savoury, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, quick, healthy, The Pantry, 2016

  • Posted on January 11, 2016

    Motivation Monday: Colour Yourself to Calmness

    All this month, we're sharing #MotivationMonday ideas and inspiration to keep you focused and on track for your New Year's Resolutions. So whether, you're eating healthier, taking up new challenges, or wanting to live a little more mindfully, we're here for you! With regards to mindful living, we're aiming to take a little more time for ourselves in 2016, and what better way to do so than with our colouring pencils. Today we've got a brand new colouring sheet for you to download and print. Just click on the image below to open the printable PDF, take 5 and grab your pencils. Bliss!

     

    This colouring sheet is taken from our Colour Yourself to Calmness Postcard Book, with original artwork by Sue Coccia, available here.


    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with january, mindfulness, quick, mind body spirit, Motivation Monday, colouring books, 2016

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