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Monthly Archives: October 2014
  • Posted on October 31, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    As we’re all in the Halloween spirit today, we thought we’d share a recipe for you to use up any left over pumpkin insides over the weekend, after you’ve carved them into something splendid! Whether you’re celebrating the haunted holiday today or simply making the most of everyone’s favourite orange veggie, this pumpkin and coconut laksa from The Natural Food Kitchen is utterly delicious and full of goodness!

    Jordan Bourke, Guild of Food Writers Shortlist

    You might remember author Jordan Bourke from his fantastic first book, The Guilt-free Gourmet, written with his sister Jessica Bourke. Full of international flavours, exciting dishes and natural food, Jordan’s new collection of recipes is just as hard to resist! So hard, in fact, that the US office held a little pot luck lunch with a few of the recipes which you can read more about next week!

    pumpkin & coconut laksa

    We often cook laksa at home – a Malaysian noodle soup of sorts with sour, sweet, salty and spicy notes. You can buy laksa curry paste, but I have given you the recipe here as the flavour is much better and it keeps well in the fridge or freezer. Delica pumpkins, with their emerald green skin and vibrant orange flesh (it’s practically an Irish flag, so you can’t go wrong!), are great in this dish. However, they are not always available in supermarkets, so you can use any kind of squash instead.

    1 delica pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, halved and deseeded

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    sea salt

    2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    4 shallots, thinly sliced

    4 tablespoons of the curry paste (see below)

    3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or pure maple syrup

    1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

    zest and juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons), plus another lime, cut into wedges, to serve

    2 tablespoons tamarind paste (alternatively use another 2 tablespoons of lime juice)

    2 x 400-ml/14-fl. oz. cans coconut milk

    400 ml/1 2/3 cups vegetable stock

    200 g/6 ½ oz. rice noodles

    ½ a red onion, sliced

    1 fresh red chilli/chile, deseeded and thinly sliced

    small handful of fresh mint leaves

    few leaves spinach, to serve

    For the curry paste:

    3 fresh red chillies/chiles, deseeded

    2 teaspoons chilli/hot red pepper flakes

    4 shallots, roughly chopped

    5 garlic cloves, peeled

    3 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves and woody ends removed, chopped

    3-cm/1 ¼-inch piece fresh ginger, skin scraped off with a teaspoon

    1 tablespoons ground coriander

    1 teaspoons ground cumin

    1 teaspoons ground turmeric

    4 lime leaves (optional)

    Serves 4

    Punkin and Coconut Laksa from The Natural Food Kitchen

    For the curry paste, add everything to a food processor with 6 tablespoons of water and blitz until you have a paste, scraping down the sides when needed. This will take at least 2 minutes of constant blitzing.

    Preheat the oven to 180°C (360ºF) Gas 4. Cut the pumpkin/squash halves into 3 cm/1 1/4 inch chunks, drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes until cooked through.

    Place a large pot with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add in the shallots and stir-fry for a few minutes until softened.

    Turn down the heat, add in the curry paste and cook gently for 5 minutes until fragrant. Add in the sugar or maple syrup, salt, lime zest and juice and tamarind paste. Cook for another few minutes until the sugar has dissolved and everything is sizzling.

    Add in the coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer briskly for 10 minutes. Taste the soup and if necessary adjust the seasoning with a little more salt, lime juice or coconut palm sugar. You should be able to taste all the sour, salty, sweet elements quite strongly. Add in the cooked pumpkin/squash and the spinach leaves, stirring into the sauce until slightly wilted.

    Cook the noodles in boiling water, according to the packet instructions. Ladle the soup into bowls and then add in a mound of noodles. Scatter over some of the red onion, chilli/chile and mint leaves and serve immediately with the lime wedges to squeeze over.

    The Natural Food Kitchen by Jordan Bourke, Guild of Food Writers Shortlist

    The Natural Food Kitchen by Jordan Bourke is available here.

    We hope you have a fantastic weekend with some delicious food and great company, and if you are celebrating tonight, then Happy Halloween!

    This post was posted in Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with Jordan Bourke, halloween, recipe for the weekend, 2014, pumpkin, Jordan and Jessica Bourke, squash

  • Posted on October 29, 2014

    Halloween Crafts

    With Halloween just around the corner, we’ve got our crafting hats on. These are not to be confused with our witches’ hats…we’re saving those for Friday! This little project would make an ideal party bag if you’re hosting a Halloween party this weekend, or you could make a few in different sizes for pumpkin decorations that won’t go mouldy! Don’t forget to give our Balloon Ghosts and Monster Cupcakes a go too.

    Pumpkin Party Bags

    Give your guests a party bag with a difference with this gathered fabric and ribbon pumpkin, filled with candies (sweets). Choose orange fabrics in different shades and patterns, using up scraps that you already have, or visit your local fabric store to put together a range of different designs.


    Squares of orange fabric, about 12 x 12in. (30 x 30cm)

    Plate measuring about 10in. (25cm) in diameter




    17in. (43cm) wired green ribbon, 5⁄8in. (1.5cm) wide


    1 Press the fabrics so that they are nice and smooth. Lay the plate on the wrong side of a fabric square and draw round it using the pen. Cut the circle out neatly.

    2 Put a couple of handfuls of candies (sweets) in the middle of the fabric circle. You may need to add a few more candies or take some away, depending on what type you are using.

    3 Gather up the edge of the fabric circle to form a bundle, making sure that the gathers are nicely arranged and that the candies are contained.

    4 Hold the gathered top with one hand and tie the ribbon round it with a tight knot, leaving one end of the ribbon at least 4in. (10cm) long. You may find it easier to ask another pair of hands to help on this part! Bind the longer end of the ribbon round the gathered top to form a stalk. Two or three winds of the ribbon should be enough to cover it. Pull it tightly so that it will stay in place.

    5 Tie the two ends of ribbon together with a secure knot. Fold the ribbon in half lengthwise to make it narrower. Wind it round a pen, then remove the pen and trim the ends of the ribbon neatly to make a tendril. Repeat with both ends of the ribbon.

    This project is taken from Halloween Crafts which is available here.

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Craft Projects, Featured, Featured, UK, US and was tagged with party, handmade, fabric, halloween, halloween crafts, 2014

  • Posted on October 27, 2014

    Hallowe'en or the festival of Samhain

    Many of us will know this Friday as Hallowe’en, and some might also know it as All Hallows’ Eve, but did you know that it is also Samhain? This fire festival is one of the most important in the Wiccan calendar, the final harvest festival marking the end of summer. In her new book The Beginner’s Guide to Wicca, Kirsten Riddle provides a friendly, straightforward introduction to the Wiccan way and how you can incorporate it into every aspect of your daily life. In this extract from the book, she explains the festival of Samhain and suggests a simple way that you can observe it. So why not incorporate something a little different into your celebrations this weekend?

    Samhain: October 31


    Also known as All Hallows’ Eve or Hallowe’en, the fire festival Samhain is one of the most important Wiccan festivals. It marks the end of summer and the start of the dark half of the year. It’s a time to remember lost loved ones and honor the ancestors and is the last of the harvest festivals. The goddess in her crone aspect mourns the death of the god, but also understands that his passing was necessary so that the wheel of the year can move forward. It’s thought that at this time of year the veil between worlds is thin, making it easy for spirits to wander and for us to communicate with them.


    DEITY All deities of the underworld (such as Anubis, Kali, Lilith, Morrigan)

    ALTAR DECORATIONS Acorns, nuts, berries (particularly hawthorn), pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, candles, photographs of loved ones who have passed away

    HERBS AND SPICES Basil, frankincense, myrrh, sage

    COLORS Black, gold, orange, purple


    Samhain Ritual

    Honor lost loved ones by setting a place at the table for them. Light a black candle and place in front of it photographs of those who have passed away. Gaze at your reflection in a hand mirror. Ask the spirits to bless you with a vision and speak aloud any messages of love. Let the candle burn down, and accept any thoughts or images that come to you—they could be signs from the spirit world.


    The Beginner's Guide to Wicca by Kirsten Riddle is available here.

    Happy Samhain everyone!

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with halloween, 2014, Magic, mind, mind body spirit, wicca

  • Posted on October 24, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend: Halloween Special!

    Ever since the Charcuterie launch when we came home with a pumpkin, we've been feeling ever so slightly Halloweeny! So for this weekend's recipe, we thought we'd share something to get you into the spooky spirit - a delicious blue monster cupcake. Not only will these cute little monsters look great for your Halloween spread, but you know that they'll taste unbelievable as they're taken from the new LOLA's recipe book, LOLA's Forever.

    The new book is packed with delicious baking bits, with everything from big cakes and tray bakes to the favourite LOLA's cupcakes, including some exciting and sophisticated sweet treats! Though as this week is the Halloween build up, we're not feeling ever so sophisticated... so bring on the blue monsters!

    blue monster cupcake

    For this Halloween cupcake, a special nozzle/tip makes spaghetti-like strands of buttercream to create a monster face.

    200 g self-raising flour/ 1 ½ cups cake flour mixed with 3 teaspoons baking powder

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    175 g/1 ½ sticks butter

    250 g/1 ¼ cups caster/ granulated sugar

    1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste

    3 eggs

    175 ml/ ¾ cup sour/ soured cream


    150 g/1 ¼ sticks butter

    1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

    350 g/3 cups icing/confectioners’ sugar

    3–4 tablespoons full-fat/whole milk

    purple food colouring paste


    48 candy teeth

    36 candy eyes

    24 jelly beans

    muffin pan lined with 12 muffin cases

    piping/pastry bag fitted with a ‘worm’ or ‘spaghetti’ nozzle/tip

    MAKES 12

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

    Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, and set aside.

    Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use an electric whisk and large mixing bowl), and beat the mixture at medium to high speed for 1–2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure that all the butter and sugar is incorporated.

    Add the vanilla bean paste and mix. Mixing at low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Slowly add the sifted dry ingredients, and mix, at low speed, until combined. Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and briefly beat at high speed until the mixture is smooth.

    Add the sour/soured cream and mix until incorporated. Do not over-mix.

    Using an ice cream scoop, divide the mixture between the muffin cases, filling to almost two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, until well risen and a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    To make the buttercream, place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use an electric whisk and large mixing bowl), and beat until soft and fluffy.

    Add the vanilla bean paste and mix again. Sift in half of the icing/ confectioners’ sugar and mix at low speed, until incorporated. Add the second half of the sugar, then beat, slowly, until incorporated. Add the milk, a tablespoonful at a time, mixing at medium speed, until the buttercream is light and fluffy. Add a little food colouring and fully blend until you have a colour that is suitably scary! If the icing is stiff, add a little more milk.

    Spoon the buttercream into the piping/pastry bag. Starting at the outside edge, pipe little lines of icing from the edge of the cupcake inwards, like the spokes of a wheel. Pull the piping/pastry bag away sharply at the end of each line, so that the strings of buttercream snap off from the nozzle/tip and drop down onto the top of the cupcake. Once the first circle is complete, start on another circle, overlapping your first, but this time starting further away from the edge.

    Finally, finish the centre by overlapping the second circle. Don’t worry if the icing isn’t perfect, all monsters look different anyway!

    Decorate each monster with four candy teeth, three candy eyes and two jelly beans for ‘horns’.


    The fantastic new book, LOLA's Forever, is out now and available here!

    Have a super weekend everybody, enjoy your Halloween preparations and happy baking!

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK and was tagged with baking, halloween, recipe for the weekend, 2014, bake, LOLA's, LOLA's cupcakes

  • Posted on October 23, 2014

    The one with the great speech!

    Celebrating the launch of another fabulous book, on Tuesday evening we raised a glass to Jane Parkinson with huge congratulations for her chatty, informative guide, Wine & Food. Gathered in the lovely downstairs of 28°-50°, Maddox Street, we enjoyed the most delicious champagne from Ayala, glorious canapés from the restaurant and lots of chatter about two of our favourite things; wine and food!

    If you like wine and you've never visited 28°-50°, then we would highly recommend that you do! The staff are absolutely wonderful and it's a great place to sit and enjoy a glass of something delicious (and a plate to go with it if you please!) It made a stunning setting for the launch of Jane's book and with such a good turn out, it was perfect for everyone to mingle and squeeze around as the evening went on!

    You'll notice that everyone is enjoying a glass of Ayala Champagne in the photos, and my oh my, did we enjoy it!? Such lovely fizz and just perfect for the celebrations! In the book, Jane recommends numerous dishes to pair with champagne, including lightly dry-spiced seafood dishes, or to cut through anything fried. It went perfectly with the delicious selection of canapés; from crab salad on crouton to mini cheeseburgers, salmon gravlax on sourdough to parmesan & truffle arancini.

    Of course, Jane and her wonderful book took centre stage! She gave a lovely speech with lots of thank yous and a big cheers to finish, and everyone was hugely impressed with Wine & Food, flicking through the pages and chatting about Jane's pairing tips and suggestions.

    The evening came to a close with lots of book signing and smiles.

    Congratulations Jane, Wine & Food is fantastic and the evening was a great success!

    Wine & Food is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with party, Book Launch, book signing, wine, 2014, photos, wine and food, Jane Parkinson

  • Posted on October 22, 2014

    Creating your Vintage Hallowe'en!

    With Hallowe’en just over a week away, we’re all starting to plan our outfits and conjure up ideas to decorate our homes! Today we’ve got a project for you to make from the new book, Creating your Vintage Hallowe’en, so that you can create an eerie vibe and spook your guests as they creep up the garden!

    While we all love to make, bake and pumpkin carve for the occasion, you might enjoy the spooky celebration a little more this year by understanding a bit about the folklore and traditions behind it. As well as fun crafty makes, Creating Your Vintage Hallowe’en is bursting with spooky artworks, ephemera, rhymes, and stories that we think you will just love! Why not write up a couple of the unusual Hallowe’en facts and quotes in a scary scrawl and pin them around the room to entertain your guests?

    If you’d like to discover how Hallowe’en came to be one of the most popular holidays in the calendar, then we’re giving you the chance to win a copy of the new book! We’ve got four copies to giveaway and all you need to do is head over to Twitter, follow and re-tweet any of our #vintagehalloween tweets and tell us what you love most about the haunted holiday!

    balloon ghosts

    No Hallowe’en party would be complete without a bunch of visiting ghosts, and these balloon spooks couldn’t be easier to make. A piece of cheap cotton muslin is hung over a balloon with creepy features made from black card. Tie them in place to decorate a dull corner or fasten them by the front door to welcome trick-or-treaters to your home.

    You will need

    White balloon

    White ribbon

    59 in. (150 cm) square of white cotton muslin for each ghost


    Approximately 6 in. (15 cm) square of black card



    1. Blow the balloon up. Take a length of ribbon, making sure that it is long enough for the ghost to be hung up. Tie the ribbon securely around the balloon knot.

    2. Fold the muslin in half and then into quarters. Make a small snip at the folded corner point using the scissors.

    3. Unfold the muslin and thread the ribbon through the hole, pulling the muslin down over the balloon.

    4. Draw two wobbly eyes and a wide, round mouth onto the black card. Cut them out neatly.

    5. Stick the eyes and mouth onto the muslin over the balloon using the glue. Make sure they are well stuck down. Create a collection of ghosts, making the facial features different for each one. Hang the ghosts in place using the ribbon.


    Creating your Vintage Hallowe'en by Marion Paull is available here.


    We hope you enjoy making these balloon ghosts and have lots of other great things planned for Hallowe'en! If you'd like some more inspiration then try these fright night recipes, these ghost cupcakes,  and this cobweb table decoration... And don't forget to enter the Twitter #vintagehalloween competition for a chance to win the book!

    This post was posted in Competitions, Craft Projects, Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with handmade, vintage, fabric, halloween, 2014, Marion Paull

  • Posted on October 21, 2014

    Great Ormond Street Bake it Better

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

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

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

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



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

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US and was tagged with baking, 2014, charity, bake, Victoria Glass

  • Posted on October 20, 2014

    A week with Hans Blomquist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In Detail by Hans Blomquist, with photography by Debi Treloar and Hans Blomquist, published by Ryland Peters and Small - we also publish lots of other gorgeous interior design books.

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with interiors, colour, 2014, nature, blog tour, Hans Blomquist, In Detail, Debi Treloar, Lobster and Swan, Such Pretty Things, The Lifestyle Editor, texture

  • Posted on October 17, 2014

    A Celebration of Vanilla!

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

    Lumberjack Cake

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


    250 g chopped dried dates

    1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

    175 g butter

    300 g caster sugar

    2 eggs

    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    400 g plain flour

    1 teaspoon salt

    500 g apples


    75 g butter

    125 g soft light brown sugar

    100 ml milk

    70 g desiccated coconut

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

    serves 8


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

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

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

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

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

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


    Vanilla by Janet Sawyer is available here.

     Happy Friday everyone and enjoy your Vanilla!

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, coconut, recipe for the weekend, 2014, Janet Sawyer

  • Posted on October 16, 2014

    The one where we bought a pumpkin...

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Recipe books to enjoy here also on the main part of the site.


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with Miranda Ballard, Muddy Boots, Book Launch, 2014, charcuterie, cured meat, pumpkin

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