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Monthly Archives: November 2014
  • Posted on November 28, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend: Brunch Edition!

    We have Brunch With A Difference on the blog today! Sausages, Bacon, Beans…all the beauty of a cooked breakfast baked in a pie! Start the ingredients off in a pan, then chuck them all in pastry and bake until golden and delicious! The Crumbs Family Cookbookby Claire & Lucy McDonald (aka The Crumbs Sisters) is full of fantastic recipes like this, taking all the hard work out of cooking so that you can get down to the serious Sunday Morning business of reading the papers! (And if pie for brunch sounds like a bit much, you can't beat Breakfast-For-Tea…just saying…)

    BREAKFAST PIE

    This is the ultimate cooked breakfast… baked in a pie. A proper fry-up, although delicious, is the roast dinner of the breakfast world – it is all about timing. First thing in the morning that can be a bit much, so this takes the pressure off. Housed in shortcrust pastry (shop-bought obviously!) are the usual suspects of bacon, sausages and even baked beans. It can be made in advance, meaning you can enjoy the Sunday papers and a Bloody Mary while it cooks. Children love this.

    Ingredients

    2 x sheets all-butter shortcrust pastry (215g/7½  oz each sheet)

    1 large onion, chopped

    1 x 400g (14 oz) tin of baked beans

    a splash of Worcestershire sauce

    6 good-quality sausages

    6 rashers/slices of streaky bacon

    200g (7 oz) black pudding/blood sausage

    200g (2¼ cups) grated Cheddar cheese

    1 egg

    20cm (8 inch) loose-bottomed cake tin

    Start to finish: 20 minutes prep + 50 minutes in the oven

    Serves: 6

     

    Take the pastry out of the fridge an hour before you need it, otherwise it is difficult to work with and will crack when unrolled.

    In a large saucepan, gently fry the chopped onions until they are browned. Drain the beans and give them a quick rinse. You want some of the sauce to stick to them, but not too much, otherwise your pie may end up with a ‘soggy bottom’.  Add to the onions with a splash of Worcestershire sauce and heat through.

    In a separate pan, fry the bacon and sausages (don’t use oil, as they should be fatty enough) until they are browned. Chop the bacon into small pieces and slice the sausages. (Don’t forget, this can all be done the night before, and it is also a good way of using up leftovers.) Stir the cooked meat into the bean mixture and season – go easy on the salt as the meat will be salty enough. Crumble in the black pudding.

    Put the cake tin on one of the pastry sheets and cut around it with a knife. This is your pie lid. Grease the cake tin, line the base with baking paper, and then place the remaining pastry sheet inside. Gently push it down, so it is nice and snug  round the bottom and the edges. It won’t fit perfectly, but if you trim some of the overhang off you can add it where needed. Smooth out any joins with your fingers. It may look like a patchwork quilt, but don’t worry, it will still taste delicious. Pour the filling into the pastry case. Sprinkle on the grated cheese. Place the pie lid on top, and pinch to the sides of the pastry case. Beat the egg and brush the lid with it. Either bake straightaway or put in the fridge.

    Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.

    Bake for 50 minutes. If you made it the night before, then try to remember to take it out of the fridge an hour before cooking. If you don’t, you will need to up the cooking time slightly.

    When cooked, remove from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes, then take the pie in its tin to the table. Balance it on a tin of baked beans (or something similar) and lower the cake tin. People should start to applaud at this point. Transfer to a plate and cut into wedges. It is nice with eggs on the side.

    The Crumbs Family Cookbook by Claire & Lucy McDonald is available here.

    Have a great weekend folks!


    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with brunch, recipe for the weekend, 2014, Crumbs Sisters, The Crumbs Family Cookbook, Lucy McDonald, Claire McDonald, crumbs

  • Posted on November 26, 2014

    Give thanks for Pumpkin Pie!

    With the celebrations getting underway and our office looking forward to a couple of days off, we thought we’d share a really great pumpkin pie recipe! Whether you’re celebrating tomorrow evening with family, friends and a feast, or you just fancy a slice of the Thanksgiving favorite, then this simple recipe from the new Easy Kitchen book will do just the trick! How about making the pastry and the filling this evening, ready to pop in the oven tomorrow and enjoy nice and warm, with good dollop of ice cream?

    basic shortcrust pastry

    This is the classic method for making short and crumbly shortcrust pastry. It is made with half butter and half lard – the butter for flavour and the lard for shortness.

    250 g/2 cups plain/all-purpose flour

    a pinch of salt

    50 g/3 tablespoons lard (or white cooking fat/shortening), chilled and diced

    75 g/5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced

    2 – 3 tablespoons ice-cold water

    Makes about 400 g/14 oz. (enough to line the base of a 23–25-cm/9–10-inch loose-based tart pan or make a double crust for a 20–23-cm/8–9-inch pie plate)

    The Classic Way

    Sift the flour and salt together into a large mixing bowl.

    Add the lard and butter and rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

    Add enough of the water to bring the pastry together, and stir in.

    Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly to bring the dough together.

    Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and using in the recipe.

    The Food Processor Method

    Sift the flour and salt together into the bowl of the machine. Add the lard and butter and process for about 30 seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

    Pour in 2 tablespoons of the water and pulse for 10 seconds. The dough should start to come together in large raggy lumps. If not, add another tablespoon of water and pulse again.

    As soon as the dough forms one big lump (don’t overprocess or the pastry will be tough), tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and using in the recipe.

    pumpkin pie

    If you can’t find pumpkin puree, don’t worry – butternut squash purée makes an ideal substitute and gives a lovely brightness to the filling.

    1 quantity Basic Shortcrust Pastry (see above)

    475-g/15-oz. can pumpkin purée or 500 ml/2 cups of homemade (see below)

    100 g/1/2 cup packed soft light brown sugar

    3 eggs

    200 ml/3/4 cup evaporated milk or double/heavy cream

    120 ml/1/2 cup golden syrup/light corn syrup or light molasses

    a good pinch of salt

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon mixed/apple pie spice

    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    2 tablespoons golden or spiced rum (optional)

    a 20.5-cm/8-inch metal or enamel pie plate

    a maple leaf pastry cutter

    (optional)

    Serves 4–6

    Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

    Roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and use it to line the pie plate, trimming off the excess pastry. Either crimp the edge of the pastry or use the pastry trimmings to cut leaves to decorate the edge. Prick the base all over with a fork, then line with parchment paper or kitchen foil and baking beans and bake blind for 12–15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry out the pastry. Leave to cool.

    Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3.

    Place all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Set the cooled pie crust on a baking sheet and pour in the filling. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until just set. If the pastry edges are beginning to brown too much before the filling is set, cover the edges with kitchen foil before returning to the oven. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and leave to cool in the pie plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, not chilled.

    TIP: If you can’t find cans of pumpkin or butternut squash purée, you can prepare your own. Cut 750 g/11/2 lbs. of unpeeled pumpkin or squash into large chunks and bake in an oven preheated to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3 for about 1 hour. Alternatively, cook the chunks of pumpkin in the microwave in a covered heatproof bowl. (Boiling it won’t work as it will make the pumpkin too wet.) When cooled, scrape the flesh from the skin and purée in a food processor.

     

    The Easy Kitchen: Pies & Tarts is available here.

    Enjoy the recipe everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

     


    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, US, What's new and was tagged with baking, Thanksgiving, pie, 2014, pumpkin

  • Posted on November 26, 2014

    Give thanks for Pumpkin Pie!

    With the US celebrations getting underway and the New York office looking forward to a couple of days off, we thought we’d join in with the fun and make a pumpkin pie! Whether you’re celebrating tomorrow evening with family, friends and a feast, or you just fancy a slice of the Thanksgiving favourite (sorry, we mean favorite!), then this simple recipe from the new Easy Kitchen book will do just the trick! How about making the pastry and the filling this evening, ready to pop in the oven tomorrow and enjoy nice and warm, with good dollop of ice cream?

    basic shortcrust pastry

    This is the classic method for making short and crumbly shortcrust pastry. It is made with half butter and half lard – the butter for flavour and the lard for shortness.

    250 g/2 cups plain/all-purpose flour

    a pinch of salt

    50 g/3 tablespoons lard (or white cooking fat/shortening), chilled and diced

    75 g/5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and diced

    2 – 3 tablespoons ice-cold water

    Makes about 400 g/14 oz. (enough to line the base of a 23–25-cm/9–10-inch loose-based tart pan or make a double crust for a 20–23-cm/8–9-inch pie plate)

    The Classic Way

    Sift the flour and salt together into a large mixing bowl.

    Add the lard and butter and rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

    Add enough of the water to bring the pastry together, and stir in.

    Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly to bring the dough together.

    Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and using in the recipe.

    The Food Processor Method

    Sift the flour and salt together into the bowl of the machine. Add the lard and butter and process for about 30 seconds until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

    Pour in 2 tablespoons of the water and pulse for 10 seconds. The dough should start to come together in large raggy lumps. If not, add another tablespoon of water and pulse again.

    As soon as the dough forms one big lump (don’t overprocess or the pastry will be tough), tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Shape into a flattened ball, wrap in clingfilm/plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and using in the recipe.

    pumpkin pie

    If you can’t find pumpkin puree, don’t worry – butternut squash purée makes an ideal substitute and gives a lovely brightness to the filling.

    1 quantity Basic Shortcrust Pastry (see above)

    475-g/15-oz. can pumpkin purée or 500 ml/2 cups of homemade (see below)

    100 g/1/2 cup packed soft light brown sugar

    3 eggs

    200 ml/3/4 cup evaporated milk or double/heavy cream

    120 ml/1/2 cup golden syrup/light corn syrup or light molasses

    a good pinch of salt

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon mixed/apple pie spice

    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    2 tablespoons golden or spiced rum (optional)

    a 20.5-cm/8-inch metal or enamel pie plate

    a maple leaf pastry cutter

    (optional)

    Serves 4–6

    Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

    Roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and use it to line the pie plate, trimming off the excess pastry. Either crimp the edge of the pastry or use the pastry trimmings to cut leaves to decorate the edge. Prick the base all over with a fork, then line with parchment paper or kitchen foil and baking beans and bake blind for 12–15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry out the pastry. Leave to cool.

    Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3.

    Place all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Set the cooled pie crust on a baking sheet and pour in the filling. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until just set. If the pastry edges are beginning to brown too much before the filling is set, cover the edges with kitchen foil before returning to the oven. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and leave to cool in the pie plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, not chilled.

    TIP: If you can’t find cans of pumpkin or butternut squash purée, you can prepare your own. Cut 750 g/11/2 lbs. of unpeeled pumpkin or squash into large chunks and bake in an oven preheated to 160°C (325°F) Gas 3 for about 1 hour. Alternatively, cook the chunks of pumpkin in the microwave in a covered heatproof bowl. (Boiling it won’t work as it will make the pumpkin too wet.) When cooled, scrape the flesh from the skin and purée in a food processor.

     

    The Easy Kitchen: Pies & Tarts is available here.

    Enjoy the recipe everyone and Happy Thanksgiving to our fellows across the pond!

     


    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, Thanksgiving, pie, 2014, pumpkin

  • Posted on November 25, 2014

    See London on two wheels!

    We don’t know about you, but we just love the kind of crisp wintry days where you want to bundle up warm, get outside and explore this wonderful city right on our doorstep. Our new book Cycle London by Dominic Bliss offers 20 themed routes to make the most of the city and we can’t wait to get out on a Boris bike and give them a go! With routes such as The Great Pub Ride, The Sports Ride and The Unusual Sights Ride there really is something for everyone here. But the one we’re itching to pedal is The Foodie Ride (obviously!) taking us along the Thames from Southwark to Mayfair. Here’s a map of the route and a list of the stops along the way…

     

    FOODIE RIDE

    You’ll be filling your tummy with all things gastronomic on this ride, so we’ve kept the distances to a minimum. And be prepared to mix your foods as you experience the smorgasbord of culinary delights that London has to offer: Indian, Chinese, Italian, French, Thai, American, and, of course, fish and chips. It’s all there to be enjoyed.

    DISTANCE: 5 miles (7km)

    START: Southwark

    FINISH: Mayfair

    1. Borough Market

    8 SOUTHWARK STREET, LONDON SE1 1TL

    They’ve been selling food here since the thirteenth century. That doesn’t mean you have to be wary of the sell-by dates, however. Wander round the sumptuous stalls of this glorious foodie hangout and you’ll be struck immediately by the freshness of the produce, much of it grown, reared, or baked by the stallholders themselves. Grab yourself a thoroughly Boroughly breakfast while you’re here. Truly one of London’s standout food markets.

    Head north up Stoney Street and join the route along the south bank of the Thames (you’ll have to dismount for some of this), heading west to Waterloo Bridge. Cross the river and then zig-zag through the Covent Garden area to Upper St Martin’s Lane.

    2. Dishoom

    12 UPPER ST MARTIN’S LANE, WC2H 9FB

    Too early for a curry? It’s never too early for a curry. The only problem is that London has such a plethora of great curry houses that it’s a job choosing where to eat. You can’t go wrong with Dishoom, however. Adorned with classic retro Indian design, this Bombay café, as the style of restaurant is known in the old country, has a wonderful atmosphere and an all-day menu to match.

    To get to your next destination, cross Charing Cross Road to Gerrard Street.

    3. Chinatown

    GERRARD STREET AND LISLE STREET, W1

    Now for some Chinese. Stroll along Gerrard Street and Lisle Street, gaze lovingly at the roasted ducks hanging in the many restaurant windows, and try in vain to stop your mouth watering. If you fancy a bite to eat, plump for any restaurants with lots of Chinese clients visible through the windows. If you simply want to browse, check out one of the many superb Chinese grocery shops.

    It’s a short pedal to your next stop, three blocks north on Old Compton Street.

    4. Algerian Coffee Stores

    52 OLD COMPTON STREET, LONDON W1D 4PB

    It’s probably about time for a coffee, isn’t it? You’ll be spoiled for choice at this coffee shop, which first opened all the way back in 1887. Breathe in deeply the smell of over 80 coffees and 120 teas from around the world, and then knock back a cup of Joe the proper way: stood up at the counter.

    Brewer Street is at the western end of Old Compton Street.

    5. Lina Stores

    18 BREWER STREET, LONDON W1F 0SH

    This is a deli to die for. As you peruse the authentic Italian meats, cheeses, oils, and (best of all) fresh pasta and sausages made every day on site, you’ll think you’re in Naples.

    Berwick Street is north of Brewer Street, but it’s a one-way street.

     

    6. Berwick Street Market

    BERWICK STREET, W1F 0PH

    It was apparently in Berwick Street that Londoners saw their very first tomatoes (in the 1880s) and their very first grapefruit (in the 1890s). Nowadays at Berwick Street Market—one of London’s oldest—you’ll find far more exotic fare than that, plus some excellent street food.

    Poland Street is one block west of Berwick Street.

     7. Golden Union Fish Bar

    38 POLAND STREET, W1F 7LY

    Three miles (5km) into your ride, it will be close to lunchtime now. Time for some fish and chips. The Golden Union Fish Bar stocks only the best and freshest fish, potatoes, and frying oil—the perfect combination you need to enjoy Britain’s national dish. Lovely retro décor, too.

    Take Great Marlborough Street to Regent Street, then cycle south until you reach Piccadilly and Jermyn Street.

    8. Paxton & Whitfield

    93 JERMYN STREET, LONDON SW1Y 6JE

    The very elegant cheese shop Paxton & Whitfield has been trading since the late 1700s. Its black and gold Jermyn Street shop front looks like something out of a film set, yet there’s nothing make-believe about the myriad cheeses it stocks inside and stores below street level in the cellars. Apparently, Winston Churchill once said: “A gentleman buys his hats at Locks, his shoes at Lobbs, his suits at Huntsman and his cheese at Paxton & Whitfield.” And he knew a thing or two about food.

    Fortnum & Mason is just a few yards away on Piccadilly.

    9. Fortnum & Mason

    181 PICCADILLY, LONDON W1A 1ER

    Established in 1707, Fortnum & Mason’s built its original reputation on food. That reputation has remained impeccable ever since. Its famous hampers, featuring Stilton cheese, champagne, and smoked salmon, are a national institution and a firm favorite with the British aristocracy, costing as much as £25,000, depending on what delights are inside.

    Cycle west down Piccadilly, turn right onto Half Moon Street, left onto Curzon Street, and eventually you’ll reach The Dorchester.

    10. Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

    53 PARK LANE, W1K 1QA

    It’s time to really treat yourself with one of London’s finest dining experiences. At the time of writing, this super-smart place was one of only four restaurants in the UK with three Michelin stars. If the menu looks pricey (it is!), console yourself with the fact that you haven’t spent any money on transport.

    Cycle London by Dominic Bliss is available here.

    So what are you waiting for? Grab your helmet, hop on a Boris and happy cycling!


    This post was posted in Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with bike, 2014, biking, cycling, Dominic Bliss

  • Posted on November 24, 2014

    Make a burger macaron!

    It’s Monday and we fancy making macarons! But not just any old macarons, we want to have a go at these brilliant burgers from the new book, Super-cute Macarons! As we’re getting closer to the party season, we want to practice our whisking and decorating, ready to wow guests with tasty treats over the festive season! Whoever said canapés couldn’t be cute or a little crazy?

    BASIC MACARON RECIPE

    145 g/5 oz. egg whites

    95 g/½ cup caster/superfine sugar

    170 g/1 2/3 cups ground almonds

    260 g/2 cups minus 2 tablespoons icing/confectioners’ sugar

    Makes 45

    Separate the egg whites from the yolks 3–5 days before you plan to use them, and store them, covered, in the refrigerator. Do not use fresh egg whites. After 3–5 days in the refrigerator, the egg whites will be a runnier consistency (see picture above).

    Before baking, you need to bring the egg whites to room temperature.

    Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or in a mixing bowl with a hand-held electric whisk until it has doubled in size (see picture above). Add the caster/superfine sugar and continue to whisk until the meringue mixture looks glossy and starts to come away from the side of the bowl, forming one large blob in the middle. At this stage, if you lift the whisk, the meringue in the bowl should form a stiff peak and stay upright after the whisk has been lifted (see picture below).

    When you are first learning how to make macarons, it is a good idea to work with a very stiff meringue. This means that the end result can be slightly dry, but it gives you extra time when you reach the folding stage, allowing you time to get your ‘macaronage’ or folding technique right. If your meringue is under-whisked (or if it is perfectly whisked but you have not yet got your folding technique right), the meringue will collapse before you have incorporated all the dry ingredients.

    Sift the ground almonds together with the icing/confectioners’ sugar in a separate bowl. Add the meringue mixture to the dry ingredients. You are now ready to fold the ingredients together (see picture below).

    Fold the meringue into the dry ingredients using quick circular movements until the mixture is ready for piping. This technique requires you to be gentle but not too gentle – you do not want to just coat the meringue in the dry mixture, you need to combine the two together. As well as being gentle, you also need to work quickly, otherwise the macaron mixture will lose its structure and collapse. Use a spatula to fold the ground almonds into the meringue until there are no more ground almonds around the edge of the bowl. At this stage, use your spatula to scoop up the dry ingredients from the bottom of the bowl and work them into the meringue. Fold until there are no dry ingredients visible in the bowl. The mixture should not be runny.

    burger macaron

    These macaron burger buns look very realistic thanks to the sesame seeds on top. You will need to slice your cheese into squares no larger than 7.5 cm/3 in. and the same goes for the lettuce leaves.

    For the macaron shells

    1 batch Basic Macarons (see recipe above)

    20 g/¾oz. sesame seeds

    For the filling

    2 beef tomatoes, cut into 25 slices

    25 small lettuce leaves

    25 small cheese slices

    disposable piping/pastry bag fitted with a 1-cm/½-in. round nozzle/tip

    6-cm/2 3/8-in. round template

    transparent silicone mat

    Makes 25

    Preheat the oven to 160ºC (325ºF) Gas 3.

    Prepare the Basic Macarons according to the recipe above, adding no food colouring paste. Put the mixture into a piping/pastry bag fitted with a 1-cm/½-in. round nozzle/tip.

    Place the 6-cm/2 3/8-in. round template on a baking sheet, and place a transparent silicone mat on top. Pipe 50 rounds, using the template as a guide. (You will need more than one baking sheet.) Tap the bottom of the sheets lightly on the work surface to settle the mixture. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Carefully slide the template out from under the silicone mat. Leave the macarons to rest for 15–30 minutes.

    Bake the macarons, one sheet at a time, on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 10 minutes until the tops are crisp and the undersides of the macarons are dry.

    Lay cheese slices on half of the macaron shells, then add the lettuce slices and, lastly, the tomato. Top with another macaron shell. Serve.

    Super-cute Macarons by Loretta Liu is available here.

    Hope everyone has a super week!

    Save

    Save


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Recipes, Recipes, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with canapes, baking, burger, 2014

  • Posted on November 21, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We don’t know about you but we certainly have that Friday feeling here at RPS towers! And with the weekend stretching before us, we’re looking forward to some Saturday afternoon baking. This cake, taken from Café Kitchen by Shelagh Ryan, is the perfect autumnal bake: an ideal accompaniment to your midmorning coffee, afternoon tea or as a lovely post-Sunday lunch dessert, if it lasts that long! Although with the flavours here, we suspect possibly not…

    Spiced Pear Cake

    This is a lovely moist cake which you could serve warm or cold with a cup of tea or coffee, or as an after-dinner dessert. Try substituting the pears for plums or rhubarb.

    250 g plain flour

    1½ teaspoons baking powder

    1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

    1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

    1½ teaspoons ground ginger

    2 large eggs

    240 ml milk

    200 ml golden syrup

    35 g clear honey

    125 g butter

    125 g light muscovado sugar

    400 g (about 2 large) pears, peeled, cored and sliced

    6 tablespoons fruit preserve (apricot, apple or plum)

    100 g flaked almonds, toasted

    a 23-cm/9-in round or 25-cm/10-in square cake pan, greased and lined with baking parchment

    SERVES 6–8

     

    Preheat the oven to 170ºC (325ºF) Gas 3.

    Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger into a large mixing bowl.

    In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and milk together.

    Warm the syrup, honey and butter very gently in a saucepan or pot set over a low heat. Stir in the sugar and keep on the heat until the butter and sugar melt together. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

    Pour the warm syrup mixture into the bowl with the flour in and stir gently using a large, metal spoon. Add the whisked egg mixture and stir to combine.

    Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and drop in the pear slices evenly over the surface – they should sink into the batter.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 45–60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, checking regularly after 40 minutes. If it looks as though the cake is getting too brown on top, cover with foil to stop it burning and return to the oven.

    Meanwhile, melt the preserve in a saucepan or pot set over a medium heat.

    Remove the cake from the oven and liberally brush with the warmed preserve while it is still warm. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and serve.

    Café Kitchenby Shelagh Ryan is available here.

    Have a lovely weekend and happy baking!

     


    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, recipe for the weekend, 2014, Shelagh Ryan, Cafe Kitchen, Lantana

  • Posted on November 20, 2014

    At Home with Henry

    We have something a little different for you to read this evening, tucked up on the sofa with a warming cup of tea, so get the kettle on and grab a cushion! Whether you’ve got an interest in the Tudor monarchy or just love the gruesome tales you remember from school history lessons, our lovely new gift book, At Home with Henry, will make for a fascinating read. Best known for his many wives and great weight, we want to know what it was really like to be Henry, or to be married to him!

    In the book, Rose Shepherd reveals the day-to-day life of this famous monarch and his wives. If you’re looking for that something special to wrap up as a Christmas gift then At Home with Henry might just be it! Today we’ve picked a section that looks at Henry’s extravagant costume, a little over-the-top you might think, but it certainly made him look like the king of the castle!

    At his first parliament, in January 1510, Henry had helped to devise “An Act against Wearing of Costly Apparrell.” It drew upon the model of laws passed by the preposterously vain Edward IV in 1463 and 1483, which, among other things, had banned cobblers from making “piked” shoes with pointed toes of more than two inches. Further Acts were to follow in 1514, 1515, and 1533, refining the dress codes even more.

    The four Acts that the king so heartily endorsed were a means of reinforcing not only class but also the male hierarchy. Women, deriving their status from fathers and husbands, were part of the structure and were expected to acquiesce. The emphasis on male finery, however, was surely a reflection of Henry’s own narcissism, a love of costume inherited from his maternal grandfather, Edward IV, and the absolute imperative to set himself above everyone.

    Broad padded shoulders and an exaggeratedly large codpiece played up masculinity. The outline was square. Upper and nether hose showed off the strapping legs in which Henry took such pride. Outer garments were ornamented with gems and embroidery, quilting, and brocade. It pleased Katharine to sew and embroider Henry’s shirts herself. She popularized blackwork, or “Spanish work,” intricate, lacy patterned stitching of black silk on white or pale fabric. Furs Henry had in abundance. Decorative slashing—slits at artful angles—afforded glimpses of more garments beneath, the under-layers sometimes pulled through the slits, or “puffed.” Henry’s soft caps, worn at an angle, were yet more vehicles for fur trim, feathers, and precious stones. A 17th-century commentator wrote of Hans Holbein’s portrait of Henry that the spectator felt “abashed, annihilated in his presence.”

    In this way, Henry VIII contrived to be literally every inch a king. If he was not, as was claimed, “the best-dressed sovereign in Europe,” he was certainly among the most dressed. Compared with the Italian-inspired elegance and more muted palette favored by Francis I, he looked like a gaudy overstuffed sofa.

    At Home with Henry by Rose Shepherd is available here.

     


    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with gift, 2014, At Home with Henry

  • Posted on November 17, 2014

    Annie Sloan's Room Recipes blog tour!

    Last week we celebrated the publication of Annie Sloan’s Room Recipes for Style and Colour by Annie Sloan & Felix Sloan with a fabulous blog tour! We had reviews; features and giveaways, all hosted by some of the most beautiful interiors blogs around! It was most exciting! But don’t worry if you missed it, we’ve gathered all the posts in one handy little round up here so you can read and re-read at your leisure.

    Lobster & Swan very kindly kicked off the blog tour with this post matching some of Annie Sloan’s chalk paint colours to the themes from each chapter, and tips on recreating the looks. They loved ‘the most colourful and happy’ Bohemian section, and featured several images from this study.

    Next we moved onto Décor Art UK who posted this fabulous review on Tuesday, calling the book ‘the perfect first step into the vast world of interior design’, illustrated by more beautiful photographs from the book.

    Following this, there was a beautiful feature on Remodelista, who said ‘The volume presents and dissects nine design styles, each approached with the color clarity and consistency that Sloan espouses’ before focusing on one of their favourite looks from the book: London Retro.

    Finally, we visited Such Pretty Things with another lovely review: ‘And did I mention what a pretty book it is??? It’s just brimming with stunning photographs of gorgeous rooms and interiors’.

    After such a busy week we needed a sit down with a cup of tea and an absorbing interiors book to read…fortunately we knew just the thing!

    Annie Sloan’s Room Recipes for Style and Colour by Annie Sloan and Felix Sloan, with photography by Christopher Drake, is available here.


    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Book Reviews, Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with interiors, annie sloan, 2014, annie sloan's room recipes for style and colour, annie sloan chalk paint, blog tour, Lobster and Swan, Such Pretty Things

  • Posted on November 14, 2014

    Recipe for the Weekend: Winter Warming edition!

    As the weather gets cooler, and the days shorter, we are turning to our recipe books for hearty, warming treats to keep us toasty inside and out! With this in mind we’ve got a great Recipe for the Weekend for you from Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard. This book is full of everything you need to know to enjoy a whole range of cured meats, including how to put together the perfect charcuterie board, as well as recipes for all kinds of dishes, from canapés to family feasts. We know this delicious stew will smell AMAZING cooking away whilst you relax with a nice glass of wine and a cosy read.

    Scallop, chorizo, chilli and quinoa stew with herby dumplings

    So many cured meats come from warm Southern European plains where there’s a sea breeze and sunshine on the roofs… However, this is a stew recipe that’s perfect for when it’s chilly outside and you need some central heating for the tummy. The chorizo and the chilli provide the most amazing warmth with their flavour.

    For the stew

    20 g butter

    1 red onion, diced

    1 garlic clove, chopped

    1 red pepper, deseeded and diced

    2 celery stalks, chopped

    100 g chorizo, diced

    1 small fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

    1 teaspoon paprika

    30 g plain flour

    500 ml chicken stock

    100 g quinoa or pearl barley

    200 g shelled scallops

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the herby dumplings (optional)

    50 g shredded suet

    100 g self-raising flour

    a pinch of dried thyme

    a pinch of dried rosemary

    a baking sheet, greased

    Serves 2

    For the stew, melt the butter in a frying pan, then fry the onion and garlic over low heat for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the red pepper and celery, and fry until the vegetables soften. Add the chorizo, red chilli and paprika, and season with salt and pepper, then stir to mix. Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir for just a minute before adding the chicken stock. Stir in the quinoa.

    Bring to a simmer and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the scallops. Cook for a further 10 minutes (or 15 minutes if the scallops are frozen), until the scallops are cooked.

    If you would like to make the herby dumplings, start making them as soon as the stew begins simmering.

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

    Put all the dumpling ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix, then gradually add 50–100 ml cold water, a little at a time, and keep mixing with your hands until the mixture comes together in a solid ball. Don’t make the mixture too wet, otherwise the dumplings will be soggy.

    Divide and roll the mixture into round dumplings and put them onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then add them to the stew for the last 25 minutes of cooking time. Serve hot.

    Charcuterie by Miranda Ballard is available here.

    We hope you all have excellent weekends, and happy cooking!


    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with Miranda Ballard, Muddy Boots, chilli, recipe for the weekend, 2014, charcuterie, chorizo

  • Posted on November 13, 2014

    Make your own Pay it Forward Advent Calendar!

    We all love a chocolate Advent calendar, but the girls at Craft it Up were thinking, wouldn't it be good to give something back in the days leading up to Christmas, instead of taking? So they created this lovely Pay it Forward Advent Calendar, where each day you can open a note with a simple act to make someone’s day – including gestures such as tell a Christmas cracker joke or bake something yummy for a friend! You can make up your own actions to put inside these cute parcels, ready to open up each day as you countdown to Christmas.

    As today is World Kindness Day we thought it would be the perfect day to release the video, as this craft project is all about small acts of kindness! The calendar is super easy to make and can be done with your favourite festive paper, just follow the simple steps in the video below – why not do it over the next couple of weeks, ready to hang up on the 1st of December?

    This project is taken from the new book, Craft it Up Christmas Around the World. We have a great competition for you to win a copy of the book, with three copies to giveaway! All you need to do is follow us on Twitter or Instagram and tell us your favourite Christmas craft!

    Craft it Up Christmas Around the World is available here.

    Enjoy all your Christmas crafting and have fun thinking up some kind acts!


    This post was posted in Competitions, Craft Projects, Craft Projects, Featured, Featured, UK, US, Videos, Videos, What's new, What's new and was tagged with christmas, christmas craft, Libby Abadee, craft it up, 2014

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