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Monthly Archives: February 2013
  • Posted on February 28, 2013

    Melanie Porter pop-up shop in Covent Garden from 14th March

    London based Melanie Porter

    has recently transferred her skills from knitwear designing for a number of top international fashion brands to creating her own unique pieces of furniture.  Her work includes original restoration techniques and hand knitted panels, worked into unique furnishings sold in both London and Hong Kong, and has been featured in numerous publications including the Evening Standard and YOU magazine.

    Hand-Knit Your Home is her first book.

    The book is full of original knitting projects for every taste, helping to add the finishing touches that transform a house into a home and breathe life and colour into a space.

    Divided into three main colour schemes to suit different design styles, this guide to contemporary knitting caters to a variety of tastes. Small projects offer a simple introduction into the world of knitting, from a bolster pillow cover to flower vase cosy and striped clock cover.  Work up to larger projects, that promise to personalise any interior, such as the chunky knit rug or rope knit basket. 

    With new techniques for the experienced and novice knitter alike, Hand-Knit Your Home heralds a new phase in yarn-bombing: how to guerilla knit your own home.

    Melanie will be running a pop-up shop at 53 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, London W1.  The shop will run between 14th March - 2nd April.  Opening hours will be between 10.30am - 6pm Monday - Saturday  and 11am - 5pm Sunday.

    Melanie will be running a workshop at the shop using 2 of the patterns from the book on the evening of 26th March. For more details, visit www.melanieporter.co.uk or email info@melanieporter.co.uk

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with knitting, event

  • Posted on February 27, 2013

    Mid-week chat with Miranda Ballard

      Miranda and hubby Roland sitting on a hay bale.

    This week we’re chatting to Miranda Ballard, co-founder of Muddy Boots and author of the soon-to-be-published Burgers & Sliders.

    Miranda Ballard and her husband Roland left behind their London media careers (Miranda was Sir David Frost’s PA and Roland worked for Working Title Films) in 2008 to return to their home county of Worcestershire where they launched their own food company Muddy Boots, using Roland’s father’s ethically farmed Aberdeen Angus beef.

    In 2010 they were featured in the BBC One television series ‘High Street Dreams’, where business mentors helped Miranda and Roland pitch to their dream retailer, Waitrose. Waitrose went on to launch their burgers in a handful of stores in their home region and, since then, sales have rocketed and they are now sold in 125 stores around the UK, and at Budgens and Ocado. This is Miranda’s first book.

    1. News reports concerning the inclusion of horsemeat in burgers and frozen foods over the past weeks have made us increasingly aware of the quality and provenance of the food we eat. Do you think the burger was due for a re-brand anyway? I do. Not to sound too exploitative but we’re delighted that something has happened to make shoppers ask what’s in their burgers, where the meat has come from, and why some burgers are so cheap. For four years, we’ve been trying to get shoppers to ask us about this so that we can smugly brag about our traceability and commitment to fair farming practice.

    2. Do you think that the UK meat industry will change as a consequence of the recent food scares? I think the UK meat industry will always have to follow the demands of the consumer and that hopefully now they’ll have a more realistic understanding of what those demands are. They thought consumers wanted the cheapest possible frozen burgers but overlooked that there was a limit to this demand. If the food industry analysts and supermarket market researchers start asking informed questions, they’ll get better answers for the meat manufacturers. For example, ‘Do you want this pack for £4 or this pack for £2’ is a totally futile question with an inevitable answer. Whereas, ‘Do you want this pack for £4 with traceable, quality meat and a better flavour? Or this one for £2 with cheap, imported meat, and artificial flavouring?’ – is an entirely more helpful way to research consumer demand.

    3. What was your earliest memorable childhood meal? My mother’s amazing Toad In The Hole on a Saturday lunchtime with my grandmother saying, ‘I have far too much here, there’s a toad going spare, untouched…’ and my believing that we were actually eating cooked toads and thinking that was pretty cool.

    4. Aside from family and friends, who would be top of your invite list for your ideal dinner party (alive or no longer living, real or fictional) and what would you serve?It would be Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. I must have read that at just the right age, I reckon (14). I started saying to myself, ‘What would Atticus Finch do?’,when faced with an ethical dilemma. So I would to cook him a really good spread of our burgers with handcut chips and then tell him how annoying it is that I still do this 18 years later and that it’s his fault I’m a goody two-shoes.

    5. What do you think the next big food trend will be? Now, of course I’m going to say this but we’re really excited about meatloaf. It’s absolutely massive in America so it’s so strange that it has never really caught on over here. We’ve only had ours on the market for four months and it’s still going to take some work to explain to people what it is (and that’s it not the dry, flavourless school dinner type image they’re often conjuring) but there has been the most exciting response so far and we can really see a potential.

    6. Is there anything you miss about living in London? Lots. We love how fast it moves, how there’s competition all around you and how that’s so healthy for a small, growing business. We love how there are events and opportunities to network all the time and trends popping up that we would know more about.We will also never take street lights and public transport for granted again.

    7. What do you love most about living in the country? It’s real and totally honest. I know we miss the drive and competition in London but there’s an authenticity and sincerity in the countryside. Everyone is totally accountable for their actions here and we think that makes for a good place to start a business.
    I’m also looking at a fantastic sunrise across some fields from my office window right now.

    8. Who has been your greatest influence in life? Aside from my amazing, incredibly hard-working (also self-employed) parents, my previous boss, Sir David Frost has had a wonderful, indelible influence on my life. He is one of the most positive, charming and genuine people I have ever met and it was an absolute privilege to work for him for five years.

    9. What are your plans for the future? Roland and and I are obsessed with being successful, I don’t know what’s wrong with us. Success for us would be that Muddy Boots is a nationally known and trusted food brand and that we’ve diversified into other sectors and products too.

    10. Tell us a secret. (Blush) When I’m on my own in the office, I put my headphones on and dance around a bit. I can also do the moonwalk.

    Why not try one of the 30 delicious recipes from the book?

    Beef, roasted red pepper & lime burger with crème fraîche & lamb’s lettuce

    Light, bright and tangy, this unusual combination of ingredients works together
    to create a delicious summertime burger. For a lighter option, serve this burger
    without a bun on a bed of chopped lamb’s lettuce.

    For the burgers

    1⁄2 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    200 g lean minced beef
    2 teaspoons paprika
    freshly grated zest of 1⁄2 a lime
    3 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
    1 tablespoon beaten egg
    1 garlic clove, finely chopped
    a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    To serve
    2 seeded wholemeal bread rolls (optional)
    a handful of lamb’s lettuce leaves, chopped
    crème fraîche
    lime wedges, for squeezing
    Makes 2 burgers

    Preheat the grill/broiler to high.
    Drizzle the pepper pieces with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put them on a baking sheet and cook under the grill/broiler for 8–10 minutes, shaking regularly to brown evenly. Remove from the grill/broiler and set aside to cool.

    Put the beef in a bowl with the paprika, lime zest, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic and salt and pepper. Add the roasted pepper pieces and work together with your hands until evenly mixed. Divide the beef mixture in half and shape into two burger patties. Press each burger down to make them nice and flat.

    Put the burgers on a baking sheet and grill/broil for 5 minutes on each side until cooked through.

    Slice the bread rolls in half, if using, and put a few lamb’s lettuce leaves on the bottom half of each bread roll. Add the cooked burgers and top with a large spoonful of crème fraîche. Finish the burgers with the lids of the bread rolls, if using, and serve with lime wedges, for squeezing.

    Burgers & Sliders by Miranda Ballard is published by Ryland Peters & Small
    on 14th March

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Interviews, Interviews, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with burger, Miranda Ballard, Muddy Boots

  • Posted on February 21, 2013

    And the winner is... YOU!

    We all know who’s going to clear up at the Oscars. Two words. Actually one word. Lincoln.

    The epic biopic of one of the USA’s most legendary presidents – Mr Abraham Lincoln… and here’s Mr Marty Allen on how you can make a sock puppet of the aforementioned great man and impress your friends and amaze your enemies once the inevitable happens on Sunday night…

    Sock puppet Abraham Lincoln is similar in most ways to his human counterpart. He was the 16th Sock Puppet President of the Sock Puppet USA, serving from March 4, 1861 until his assassination. A noteworthy difference is that sock puppets are invincible unless completely destroyed, so he recovered nicely and moved to a llama farm. Unlike his human counterpart, he is also super good at making paper planes and throwing huge theme parties.

    Abraham Lincoln is one of the first famous people I made as a puppet; his design is simple and he holds a special place in my heart.


    Gray sock


    Green sticky felt

    Squares of yellow, white, and black craft foam

    Gray fur

    Black marker

    Head fluff

    1 Prep the sock utilizing the “cardboard mouth” technique #. I recommend a LARGE oval.

    Once the sock is reversed, add the oval of green sticky felt for the mouth interior, cut slightly smaller than the cardboard oval, and put a medium amount of head fluff in the top for structure.

    2 EYES: Lincoln’s eyes are two small, lidded almonds. Using white craft foam, cut out two  1/2 in (13 mm) ovals. Using a black marker, add a black dot in the center of each. Cut out two small brown lids, about half the size of the eyeball.

    Attach the lid to the eyeball, being careful not to cover over the eye dot—nobody wants a sleepy president. Glue each eye 1⁄8 in (3 mm) up from the mouth, and 1/4 in (6 mm) apart.

    3 NOSE: Mr. Lincoln commanded the respect of the nation, and he had a big old nose! Using yellow craft foam, cut out a 1 in (2.5 cm) long tapered triangle, ½ in (13 mm) wide at the base. Glue it tucked tightly between the eyes, slightly overhanging the edge of the mouth.

    4 BEARD: Cut out a rectangle of gray fur about 3 in (7.5 cm) long x 2 in (5 cm) wide. Glue along the edge of the bottom of the mouth, letting the remainder hang forward over his body.

    5 HAIR: Using more gray fur, cut out a small rectangle about 1½ in (4 cm) x 1 in (2.5 cm). Glue it about 1½ in (4 cm) back from the eyes, slightly to the left, in order to leave room for his mighty hat.

    6 MIGHTY HAT: Is it the hat that makes the man or the man that makes the hat? Here, the two details are nearly inseparable, and no Lincoln is complete without his stove-top hat. It’s what makes him so Lincoln-y! Using black craft foam, cut out one 2 1/2 x 3 in (6 x 7.5 cm) rectangle for the base and one 2 1/2 x 5 in (6 x 12.5 cm) rectangle for the stove-pipe. Roll the stove-pipe piece in on itself to form a cylinder, and glue along its overlapping seam to keep it together. Now glue that to the center of the hat base, applying glue along its open circumference.

    7 Using another scrap of black craft foam, add a circle to size at the top of the hat (unless you’d like something comical to pop out)—the opening should be about 1 1/2 in (4 cm).

    8 Glue the hat to the top of the head, perching slightly to the right so that the hair is showing. And now enjoy a rousing paper airplane-building lesson while prepping for a toga party with one of history’s great sock puppet luminaries.

    # “cardboard mouth” technique

    Here it is, the Super Secret Secret that really separates my sock puppets and yours from the rest of the proverbial pile. The MIGHTY Cardboard Mouth. Understand, this is Serious Business, and I impart this knowledge to you with the implication of your promise. A promise to use this information responsibly.

    Repeat after me:

    “I (insert name here), do solemnly swear to use The Super Secret Secret of The MIGHTY Cardboard Mouth responsibly, and for the Power of Good. And awesomeness. And Fun.”

    Though it isn’t essential to build your sock puppet with a cardboard mouth, it is highly recommended (and way cooler), as you suddenly go from a floppity sock mouth to a stiff, expressive, and much more convincingly puppeteered mouth.

    It also acts as a great surface for TEETH! If you do go for it, it should be your first step, as you’ll build the rest of your puppet around the mouth and head.

    The oval o’ cardboard

    A stiff cardboard mouth makes all the difference with your sock puppetfriend, and it’s as easy as cutting an oval out of cardboard, turning your sock inside out, gluing it in, letting it dry, and then turning it outside-in. Sometimes I call for a sock to end up inside out, in which case you’d start by just gluing the oval to the regular outside of the sock.

    Once again, the heel is the BACK of the head. You are gluing the oval on to the exact opposite side. Generally the oval gets hot-glued and firmly pressed down just before the tip of the sock. I encourage you to experiment with this placement and see how it affects various puppets—small changes can yield big differences.

    At the beginning of each lesson, I suggest whether the puppet’s mouth should be:

    SMALL (around 2 x 1 1/2 in/5 x 4 cm—but if it’s a teeny-tiny sock, you could even take it down 1/2 in (13 mm) further with either dimension;

    MEDIUM (around 3 x 1 3/4 in/7.5 x 4.5 cm);

    LARGE (around 3 1/4 x 2 in/8 x 5 cm—again with about 1/2 in (13 mm) of stretch room upward.

    These measurements and the diagrams are a guide, but always take into account the relative size of your sock. The size and shape of your oval will make a big difference as to the character of the puppet, too, so experimentation there is also encouraged.


     Sock Puppet Madness by Marty Allen is published by CICO Books and is out NOW!

    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Book Reviews, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, Marty Allen

  • Posted on February 15, 2013

    Nicki Trench Granny Square demonstration at the Craft Hobby + Stitch International - February 2013

    Nicki Trench will be appearing at Craft Hobby + Stitch International - Europe's largest dedicated trade show for the art, craft, needlecraft, fabric, and hobby industries – this coming Monday (18th February).

    She will be demonstrating how to make a Granny Square from her recent book Geek Chic Crochet at the RPS and CICO stand.

    We’ll be hosting this event at Stand K20 between 1pm and 2.30pm on Monday 18th February so if you are going, please do come down and join us!

    Please note, the show is open to the trade only and under 16’s are not allowed entry.

    Geek Chic Crochet is published by CICO Books (RRP £12.99 UK)



    This post was posted in News, UK and was tagged with fabric

  • Posted on February 14, 2013

    Come and make you very own Tea Cup Pincushion at Craft Hobby + Stitch International - February 2013

    Celebrating its 38th year in 2013, Craft Hobby + Stitch International is at the NEC in Birmingham between Sunday 17th - Tuesday 19th February.

    The event is open between 9am-6pm on the Sunday and the Monday and between 9am-4pm on the Tuesday.

    This event is Europe's largest dedicated trade show for the art, craft, needlecraft, fabric, and hobby industries.

    Ryland, Peters & Small and CICO Books will be exhibiting at the show every day and you can come and make your very own tea cup pincushion...

    ...taken from Kate Haxell’s Super-Cute Pincushions, at our stand!

    We’ll be hosting this event at  Stand K20 between 11-1pm and 2- 4pm on the Sunday and the Monday and between 10.30am and 12noon on the Tuesday.

    Please note, the show is open to the trade only and under 16’s are not allowed entry.

    Super-cute Pincushions by Kate Haxell is published by CICO Books

    Click here to go the main craft section.




    This post was posted in News, UK and was tagged with needlecraft, fabric

  • Posted on February 14, 2013

    The power of a hug...

    A hug is one of the most basic ways two (or more) human beings touch.

    There is power in a hug. A hug can break down barriers.

    At times, it can speak more than any words can say. We bond with a hug. We find comfort with a hug.

    We greet and separate from each other with a hug. We establish human contact and interaction with a hug. The beauty of a hug is in its simplicity.

    The gesture towards another human being, known or unknown, is easy. It costs nothing but is a simple act of caring and kindness. But did you know that a loving hug is also good for the heart? No? Well read on as Lois Blyth explains why in this short extract from her new book, The Little Book of Hugs...

    A medical study undertaken by a research team at the University of North Carolina studied the effects of hugging on men and women by monitoring 38 couples. Their blood pressure and their levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and oxytocin (the “cuddle” hormone, a natural stress-buster) were measured both before and after the experiment.

    During the experiment, couples relived a happy time in their relationship, watched a romantic movie, talked, and were invited to hug one another.

    Both men and women showed an increase in oxytocin levels after the hug; but for women there were additional stress reducing effects: their blood pressure went down and their cortisol levels were also reduced.

    The Little Book of Hugs by Lois Blyth is published by CICO Books (other books you may like here). The book is available to buy online and from all good bookshops right now!


    This post was posted in News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with Valentines Day, valentines

  • Posted on February 13, 2013

    Love is…a Mon Cherry Amour Cupcake, either that or a specky sock puppet!

    This beautiful little cupcake perfectly captures the spirit of St Valentine’s Day, all gooey and sweet with a cherry on top!  If you are a romantic at heart, then this is the Valentine’s treat for you.  Celebrate your love of cupcakes and your love for your Valentine and get baking!



    This has got to be the Valentine’s Day cupcake, for both couples and sweet-toothed singletons. The Kirsch adds a hint of liquorice to the buttercream. What better way to celebrate your love of cupcakes?

    12 glacé/candied cherries

    Vanilla cupcake mixture

    ½ vanilla bean

    3 eggs

    150 g/1 cup icing/confectioners’ sugar

    150 g/1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain/all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    150 g/1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter, melted

    50 g/½ cup finely chopped pistachios, plus extra to decorate

    Pistachio buttercream

    180 g/1½ sticks butter, at room temperature

    320 g/2¼ cups icing/confectioners’ sugar

    50 ml/3½ tablespoons milk

    1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    2 tablespoons pistachio paste*

    1 tablespoon Kirsch cherry liqueur

    green food colouring (optional)

    cupcake pan, lined with 12 cupcake cases

    piping bag, fitted with a star-shaped nozzle/tip

    Makes 12

    To make the vanilla cupcake mixture, start the day before you want to bake the cupcakes. Split the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape the seeds out into a bowl. Add the eggs and sugar and beat with an electric whisk until tripled in volume and the beaters leave a thick ribbon trail when you lift them out of the mixture.

    Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and whisk lightly. Add the melted butter and chopped pistachios and fold in gently with a large metal spoon. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

    The next day, preheat the oven to 160˚C (325˚F) Gas 3.

    Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake in the preheated oven for about 15–20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

    To make the pistachio buttercream, put the butter, sugar, milk, vanilla extract, pistachio paste and Kirsch in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk or by hand with a wooden spoon until you get a light, fluffy texture. Stir in drops of the food colouring until you get the desired shade of pistachio green, if you like.

    Fill the piping bag with the buttercream and pipe on top of the cold cupcakes. Balance a glacé/candied cherry on top and sprinkle extra chopped pistachios around the edge.

    *To make your own pistachio paste, roast 125 g/1 cup pistachios on a baking sheet in a preheated oven at 160˚C (325˚F) Gas 3 for 10 minutes, taking care not to let them burn. Transfer to a bowl. Put 175 ml/⅔ cup water and 60 g/⅓ cup (caster) sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. When the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is boiling, cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Carefully pour this syrup into a food processor with the roasted pistachios and 30 g/⅓ cup ground almonds and pulse until you get a smooth paste.

    If all that makes you feel a little green about the gills, then never fear, Harold Speculex to the rescue! Marty Allen’s creation from Sock Puppet Madness is the perfect gift for the wickedly humoured Valentine in your life.  Make your own sock puppet and let Harold Speculex melt a few hearts this Valentine’s Day!

    Harold is one of the three Super Speculex Bros, all so different but with a mutual love of, and dependence upon, glasses. Harold is also an amateur scientist (holding patents in applied flying burrito technologies and experimental aeronautics). His eyeglasses expertise encompasses the complex science of spectacles as well as the science behind eyes and perception. Ladies fall for him like bricks off a bridge, and he’s left a trail of broken hearts longer than a line at the post office.

    Harold Speculex

    Harold Speculex is the consummate sock puppet with eyeglasses. His techniques apply across a wide array of styles, demonstrating how the eyeball is not always attached right to the head, a notion that isn’t obvious…



    Templates on page 120

    Orange sock


    Black sticky felt

    Squares of white and blue craft foam

    Two small blue craft pompoms

    Small piece of paper

    Black marker

    1   If you want to use templates, copy the ones on page 120, then prep the sock utilizing the “cardboard mouth” technique (see pp. 17–18). I recommend a MEDIUM oval. Once the sock is reversed, add the oval of blue sticky felt for the mouth interior, cut to be slightly smaller than the cardboard oval, and put a large amount of head fluff in the top for structure.

    2  EYEGLASSES: From blue craft foam, cut out two 1 in (2.5 cm) circles and “hollow” out ¾ in (2 cm) openings (see pattern). Edge the interior and exterior with a slight “edge in.” Cut out two small circles of white paper, sized to fit the hollowed-out openings. Carefully glue each white circle inside the hollowed-out openings. Using a black marker, add a black dot to the center of each eyeball. Using the same blue craft foam, cut out a very small ½ in (13 mm) long glasses bridge and edge the sides and a touch in. Again using blue craft foam, following the pattern, cut out the 2 in (5cm) glasses arms, also edging slightly. Glue the two main eyeholes via the small bridge. Glue the glasses arms so that they point toward the back of the head, applying just a drop of glue and holding in place. Glue the full glasses/eyes so that the bottom of the lenses sit just atop the mouth.

    3  TEETH: Harold is nothing without his goofy grin. From white craft foam, cut out two ½ in (13 mm) long by ¾ in (2 cm) wide front buckteeth and two slightly smaller teeth. Glue them about ¼ in (1 cm) apart along the top edge of the mouth.

    4  HAIR: Harold is, like several other sock puppets, proud to be bald. Glue each blue pompom about 1½ in (3 cm) behind the glasses and 1½ in (3 cm) apart.


    Le Cookie by Mickael Benichou is published by Ryland Peters & Small on  14th February

    Sock Puppet Madness by Marty Allen is published by Cico Books on 14th February

    Also possibly of interest? -











    This post was posted in News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with Valentines Day, baking

  • Posted on February 11, 2013

    It's Pancake Time!

    It's that time of year again, Shrove Tuesday has arrived and it is time to honour good old Pancake Day, by baking up a culinary storm!

    So, feast on this:  a perfect pancake treat, taken from our wonderful title, The Guilt-Free Gourmet.  Enjoy!

    Here's what author Jordan Bourke has to say on the subject of the beloved pancake:

    Much as I love a stack of American-style pancakes, I still prefer the French-style thin and lacy crêpe. It is just as easy to make delicious wheat-free versions, or if you can tolerate a little wheat but want a healthier option, spelt flour is better for you and has a higher mineral and vitamin content than ordinary flour.  People with mild wheat intolerances generally find they can tolerate spelt with no side effects.

    Pancakes with fried bananas

    sunflower oil, to fry

    Spelt or Wheat-free Pancakes

    100 g/3⁄4 cup fine-grind spelt flour OR

    100 g/ 3⁄4 cup gluten-free multi-purpose flour

    OR to make your own gluten-free blend, mix 50 g/ 6 tablespoons rice flour,30 g/1⁄4 cup tapioca flour, and 3 tablespoons gram flour 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder pinch of sea salt

    2 eggs 200 ml/3⁄4 cup rice milk

    Fried Bananas 2 bananas

    juice of 1 orange

    2 teaspoons agave syrup

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1 teaspoon desiccated coconut, plus extra to serve


    non-stick flying pan

    To make either the spelt or wheat-free pancakes, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Gradually pour into the well in the flour mixture, mixing all the time until you get a smooth batter. Allow the batter to rest for at least 30 minutes. You can also make it the night before if you are very organized. When ready, heat a little oil in the non-stick frying pan until hot. Stir the batter and pour a small ladleful into the pan, swirling so that the mixture spreads to the edges. Cook until the top of the pancake starts to bubble – less than 1 minute – then flip it over and cook until golden. Repeat until all the batter has been used up, wrapping the pancakes in parchment paper and keeping warm in a low oven. To make the fried bananas, heat a little oil in a frying pan over high heat. Slice the bananas and add to the hot pan. Fry until golden, then flip over and fry for another minute or so.  Add the orange juice and agave syrup and dust the cinnamon and desiccated coconut over the top.  Let the liquid bubble away for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.

    Add some of the fried bananas to each pancake and fold it over into a parcel.  Sprinkle over a little more coconut and enjoy immediately.

    Guilt-free because… Banana is widely known for its potential to reduce hypertension due to the high amounts of potassium it contains, coupled with negligible sodium levels. It is not only the potassium but also the fibre that contributes to the cardio-protective effect.

    Makes about 5

    The Guilt-Free Gourmet by Jordan & Jessica Bourke is one of a range of fabulous recipe books published by Ryland Peters & Small at £16.99


    This post was posted in News, UK, What's new and was tagged with Guilt Free Gourmet, Jordan Bourke, cinnamon, coconut

  • Posted on February 7, 2013

    The year of the snake arrives!

    This Sunday hails the arrival of Chinese New Year and as we bid a fond farewell to the dragon, so we can welcome the arrival of the snake.

    All animals, from the ant to the wolf carry a message of guidance and hope.  Here’s Chris Luttichau, author of the - soon to be released - Animal Spirit Guides on the snake…

    Late one night I walked from my teacher’s house over to the medicine house, where we held many of our ceremonies. As I opened the door and went to step inside, the sole of my foot touched something on the threshold—something living. Fortunately, I hadn’t put my whole weight down, and so I raised my foot and carefully stepped to one side. Reaching a hand in and turning on the light, I was just in time to see a long snake with distinctive markings on its back slide away. It dawned on me that I had just stepped on a rattlesnake.

    Snakes exude an air of intensity and mystery. Their eyes have a narrow range of expression and they seem unaffected by their surroundings, existing in a world apart from the one inhabited by humans.

    In her constant bodily contact with the ground or with trees, snake stays close to the powers of creation, the life forces of Mother Earth. In Mexican spiritual tradition, Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, represents the union of snake and quetzal, or eagle.

    Our ultimate task is to unite body and spirit, earth and sky, snake and bird. Learning and growing in our physical form should ultimately lead to illumination and union, the merging of opposites. Snake brings us these esoteric teachings, guiding us home.

    In the concept of kundalini, the snake represents creative sexual energy that is curled at the base of the spine. When all our energy centers are open, the snake, or kundalini, can rise to the crown of the head in a direct awakening.

    In life, our only certainty is that change is inevitable. By periodically shedding her skin, snake teaches us not to resist change,  but to welcome renewal, even if it is painful initially. Change leads to growth, which is what we are here for.

    Animal Spirit Guides by Chris Luttichau will be reissued by CICO Books in April 2013

    Go to our collection of Mind Body Spirit books.



    This post was posted in Interviews, Interviews, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with chinese new year

  • Posted on February 5, 2013

    Think you need a million and one ingredients to cook a tasty vegetarian meal? Think again…

    Discover how to create stunning dishes using the very best seasonal produce and store cupboard staples with Chloe Coker and Jane Montgomery. Both trained at prestigious Leith’s School of Food and Wine and their new book The Vegetarian Pantry is published on 14th February. To tide us over until then here are their  top ten vegetarian store cupboard tips.

    Combine your fresh ingredients with these store cupboard tips and you can effortlessly create any number of delicious vegetarian meals at a moment’s notice…


     1.    Rich depth of flavour 

    • Mustard – powder, Dijon or whole grain – is a great base for dressings, sauces, marinades to give a piquant heat

    • Dried mushrooms (porcini) – are packed with a rich mushroom, earthy flavour and are a noble addition to anything from the humble omelette to mushroom-based dishes (reserve the soaking liquor to use as a stock for risottos and soups)

    • Sun-dried tomatoes – chopped, blitzed or whole – are a burst of sunshine for salads, stuffings, sauces, pulses (keep the oil from the jar to use in dressings or add/drizzle over the dish)

    2.    Freshness

    • Lemons and limes – their zest and juice are a quick way to give balance and freshness to dishes such as risotto, salads, desserts and baking

    • Fresh herbs – grow them in a pot on your window sill or freeze leftover sprigs so they are always at hand to add fragrance and flavour to your dish

    3.    Crunch

    • Seeds and nuts – sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios – are great to use on or in almost any dish for crunch and colour

    4.    The base to all things

    • Stock – always use a good-quality stock whether it’s from a cube, home made, or fresh from a supermarket – it can flavour to all manner of dishes like soup, risotto, cooking pulses and beans

    • Tinned tomatoes – are also a must for quick sauces and stews

    5.    Gluten-free essentials

    • Ground almonds and gram flour – use them for baking and replacing wheat flour in various recipes

    6.    Earthy flavour

    • Dried spices – for example, lightly toasted cumin and fennel – can be used as a base flavour, or you can sprinkle a little over a finished dish for an interesting contrast and intriguing aroma to kickstart the taste buds

    7.    Spicing it up

    • Chipotle, paprika, cayenne and chilli flakes – can spice up any dish, whether it’s a pinch over potato wedges or a background warmth to soups, stews or stuffed vegetables

    8.    Sweetness

    • Honey, maple syrup, golden syrup and agave syrup – are a great way to balance the bitterness of tomatoes or build a little sweetness into a dish without using refined sugar

    • Dried fruits – prunes, dates, apricots and raisins – add a great background sweetness and soft, luscious texture to stews, salads and baking

    9.    Drizzle on the flavour

    • Sesame, groundnut oil, extra virgin olive oil – the list is endless but whatever your cooking style, a little drizzle of oil goes a long way in finishing off your dish, whether it be sesame on your Thai salad or truffle over your risotto

    10. Textured base

    • Lentils, quinoa, rice, beans, chickpeas and cous cous – are a limitless source for creating warm salads or bases for stews, pies, risottos and you can even mix them up for a more interesting texture.

    To see what else our two authors are up to, check out their website www.citycook.co.uk a boutique teaching and catering company specialising in bespoke events.

    The Vegetarian Pantry by Chloe Coker and Jane Montgomery is published by Ryland Peters & Small on 14th February

    More vegetarian and vegan cookbooks :-





    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK and was tagged with mustard, porcini, lemon

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