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Monthly Archives: February 2015
  • Posted on February 27, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We’ve suddenly realised that it’s nearly March and we haven’t shared many soup recipes with you this winter! So today, we have a delicious and nutritious soup for you to make over the weekend, taken from the fascinating new cookbook, Fermented Food for Vitality and Health. If you’re feeling a tad tired after a busy week or are looking for some tasty comfort food for a lazy lunch, then this hearty noodle soup will perk you up and please your stomach (not to mention your taste buds!) - a great veggie- and flavour-filled one-pot, this dish will see you through the Spring months as well!

    Hearty one-pot miso soup

    Sometimes, a big bowl of this soup is the only thing I eat for lunch, especially when I feel tired and my energy is low. It’s also a great late-night dinner option because it nourishes you but doesn’t put too much strain on the already sleepy digestive system! Also, dried shiitake mushrooms have a relaxing effect on the body.

    100 g/31/2 oz. dried soba noodles or tagliatelle

    1 teaspoon salt

    ½ tablespoon tamari

    2 ½ tablespoons dark sesame oil

    3 dried shiitake mushrooms

    1 strip wakame seaweed (optional)

    1 tablespoon chopped garlic

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

    1 small onion, diced

    2 carrots, diced (around 100 g/31/2 oz. total weight)

    120 g/1 generous cup cubed pumpkin

    ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

    freshly ground black pepper

    pinch of chilli powder

    100 g/1½ cups mung bean sprouts

    2 tablespoons rice or barley miso

    130 g/41/2 oz. spinach leaves, chopped

    Serves 3

    In a large saucepan, boil the pasta in 1.2 litres/5 cups of salted water until al dente. Strain, reserving the cooking water. Run the pasta through running cold water, drain, put in a bowl and sprinkle with the tamari and ½ tablespoon of dark sesame oil. Mix well and set aside.

    In a small bowl, cover the shiitake and wakame, if using, with hot water and let soak.

    Rinse the saucepan in which you cooked the pasta and add the remaining dark sesame oil. Over a medium heat sauté the garlic and ginger for 2–3minutes, then add the onions, carrots, pumpkin cubes and a pinch of salt, mix well and sauté for 2–3 minutes. Add the turmeric, pepper and chilli powder and stir. Once the spices and vegetables start sizzling, add the reserved cooking water and another 500 ml/2 cups of hot water. Cover and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Meanwhile, drain the shiitake and wakame and chop finely, discarding the mushroom stems.

    Once the soup has started to boil, add the mung beans, shiitake and wakame, lower the heat and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Put the miso in a small bowl and pour over a ladle of hot soup. Dilute completely with the help of a small whisk or fork. Remove the soup from the heat and add the diluted miso and chopped spinach. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Stir, cover and allow to rest for 1 minute.

    Divide the cooked pasta among bowls and pour over the soup, making sure that each portion gets a lot of veggies and sprouts. Serve hot!


    In her book, Dunja Gulin discusses the health benefits of fermented foods and explains a bit about the fermentation process (you can learn more about this here), with a selection of recipes so that you can learn how to cook with and make the most of fermented foods.

    Fermented Foods for Vitality and Health is available here.

    This post was posted in Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with savoury, soup, recipe for the weekend, noodles, vegetarian, Dunja Gulin, 2015, healthy, fermented foods

  • Posted on February 25, 2015

    Guest Post: London Craft Club Arm Knits

    We’ve been super enthusiastic about arm knitting – and loved passing on some of this enthusiasm to some keen bloggers on our recent blog tour – so we were delighted to discover that the London Craft Club has arm knitting workshops in its schedule. We invited founder Sonia to blog about their recent session, and if you pop over here and sign up for their newsletter there’s a chance to win Arm & Finger Knitting by Laura Strutt too so everyone can get involved!

    So, over to you Sonia!

    The first question I usually get asked about Arm Knitting is “what happens if I need to go to the loo?” My advice is to go before you start! In truth, most Arm Knitting projects are so quick at around 45 minutes that it most likely won’t be an issue.

    I love getting ready for an Arm Knitting workshop because it’s basically a shopping binge! When I teach I usually supply the yarn, and I like to lay on a good choice which means having 2-3 times as many yarns as people. Endless bags of yarn get delivered to my studio in the days running up to the workshop, and I get to scour all my local shops for a good deal on super-chunky yarn – it’s by far the nicest to arm knit with.

    One of the icebreakers at the workshops is when everyone gets up and gets stuck in to the yarn pile. People get chatting about their favourite colours, and try to second-guess the person they might be knitting for. I try and find out who’s already a knitter or crafter and who’s a newbie to crafting. Being a knitter already helps some people, but others find arm knitting goes against what they already know and that befuddles them a bit, so experience doesn’t really make a difference.

    Once that’s out of the way, we get started. Casting on is by far the hardest part. I can usually see an edge of concern creeping in at about this point… “How on earth will I master this? How can I possibly finish in the time?” Not to worry though, I have lots of different ways to explain and demonstrate and after the initial worry everyone gets the hang of it. After that the main knitting is remarkably fast and easy. People watch in surprise as their projects grow in front of their eyes, and often I have to remind them not to knit on too far!

    Casting off isn’t tricky at all. Stitching up takes a bit of concentration but I tend to teach a very basic version of it. For normal knitting I’m a bit obsessive about invisible seams but in this case it’s nearing the end of the workshops, getting later and people are ready to wrap up!

    My favourite bit of the workshop is when people finish and get to try on what they’ve made. Selfies, tweets and facebook posts start pinging around as people want to share their handiwork. Learning a new craft and finishing a project are both very gratifying moments, so get to both in one evening really tends to light everyone up. Seeing that moment is the main reason I teach craft!

    So give arm knitting a go. It’s a fantastic intro to working with yarn. And a tip for anyone who can’t last forty minutes….you can thread your stitches off your arm and on to a belt if you need to nip off in the middle!

    Thanks so much Sonia, and the London Craft Club. Pop over to their website to see more about what they do, and the sessions they've got coming up.

    Arm & Finger Knitting by Laura Strutt is available here.

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with handmade, knitting, event, guest post, 2015, MadePeachy, Laura Strutt, craft club

  • Posted on February 24, 2015

    Bohemian Modern blog tour

    ‘The Bohemian Modern home is a place where creativity, individuality, and a wild mix of colour and pattern meet in a modern environment’

    So begins the blurb of Emily Henson’s newest book, Bohemian Modern and we thought what better way to celebrate publishing this wonderful title than with a blog tour reflecting this. With reviews and giveaways on some of our favourite blogs around it was a beautiful week, showcasing the variety in the Bohemian Modern style, and we’ve gathered up all the posts here for you to read and re-read at your leisure!

    The week kicked off with a lovely review at Lobster and Swan, highlighting her favourite aspects of the style. ‘The best thing about a bohemian modern home, is that it can be achieved on a small budget if you have some imagination, a thrifty nature and are comfortable mixing different eras and styles’ This was her favourite page from the book!

    Next we visited the splendid H is for Home, who gave us an overview of the book and its themes: ‘The spaces are stylish, yet reassuring and welcoming’.

    A stunning post on The Lifestyle Editor demonstrated both the varied looks you can achieve with the Bohemian Modern style, and also the fact that it isn’t just ‘brown and orange hues’! We couldn’t agree more, and just love this gorgeous blue.

    Day four stopped at Such Pretty Things with a lovely review, including this more ‘subdued and tranquil palette’ – once again showing that Bohemian Modern doesn’t necessarily mean a riot of colour.

    Friday 13th was not unlucky for us, as we visited The Little Green Shed, who ‘adores homes that are unique, full of life and that have developed over time’, making Bohemian Modern an ideal style! She picked out the chapter Back to Nature as her favourite, featuring several rooms from this home, including this lovely sitting room.

    Last, but by no means least, we rounded off a beautiful week on Happy Interior Blog. He felt that his home was a little urban bohemian and he illustrated his post with some photographs of the book amongst his own bohemian touches. We especially loved this smiley cactus pot. So cute!

    What a fantastic week with creativity, individuality, colour and pattern abound!


    Bohemian Modern by Emily Henson, with photography by Katya de Grunwald, is available here.

    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, interiors, decorating, Emily Henson, blog tour, 2015, bohemian

  • Posted on February 20, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Phew, what a week! Whether you’ve had a crazy one at work or an even crazier one at home with the kids on half-term, we’ve got a recipe this weekend that will fill you with comforting gooey chocolatey goodness (it sounds great, right?) and will take you absolutely no time at all! Taken from the wonderful Crumbs Family Cookbook and perfect for making with the kids, this five-minute cake-in-a-cup does exactly what it says on the tin (or the cup). So, if like me, you fancy a no-fuss sweet treat this evening or, like many in our office, you’re after a final fun activity for the little ones before they're back at school, then look no further. Crumbs girls - you’ve got five minutes - over to you…

    five-minute cake-in-a-cup

    This cake is so dangerous, it even has its own Facebook page warning that you are only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of day or night. And it’s true. Take a look. You’ve probably got all the ingredients in your cupboard. Next thing you know, they’re in a cup, in the microwave, in your mouth. Bang! You’re eating chocolate cake. For additional danger, watch the cake cook in the microwave. It rises and rises until you’re sure it’s going to explode … normally it doesn’t. This is our most popular YouTube recipe of all time.

    4 tbsp self-raising flour

    4 tbsp sugar

    2 tbsp cocoa powder

    1 egg

    3 tbsp milk

    3 tbsp oil (I use sunflower; melted butter would probably be nicer, but it would take too long, and the idea of this recipe is that it is quick)

    3 tbsp chocolate chips (or just smash up a bar of chocolate)

    a small splash of vanilla extract

    2 teacups or small mugs to cook the cake

    Start to finish: Um, 5 minutes

    Serves: 2

    Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.

    Add the chocolate chips and vanilla extract, and mix again. Divide the mixture between the two teacups.

    Put the teacups in the microwave one at a time and cook for 60 seconds at 1000 watts (high) or until risen and cooked. Allow to cool a little and serve with natural yogurt (an attempt at being healthy) or ice cream.

    Playdate fun!

    Rather than make this yourself, find lots of little people to help you. This is great playdate entertainment. Each child mixes their own cake and then watches it nearly explode in the microwave. Not many desserts provide this level of excitement.


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

    So, go on, treat yourself (or the kids!) and have a super weekend everyone!

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK and was tagged with baking, chocolate, kids, recipe for the weekend, simple, half term holidays, quick, cake, activities for kids, The Crumbs Family Cookbook

  • Posted on February 18, 2015

    Midweek Chat with Emma Friedlander-Collins

    This week’s midweek chat introduces one of our new CICO Books authors, Emma Friedlander-Collins. Emma’s first book Crochet Dress-Upis full of fab character costumes that will ensure your little ones stand out at every fancy dress party!

    Hi Emma and welcome! We absolutely love Crochet Dress-Up! Where did you get your inspiration from?

    Nearly all of the patterns in Crochet Dress-Up were made for my boys to wear and play in, so they’re really the inspiration for most of it.  It started with the pirate hat when my eldest was only 3 and it just started growing from there.  Every time they had a fancy dress thing to go to or a new book or tv show that they got into, rather than trotting off to a supermarket for a horrible polyester thing, for half the price and 20 times the fun we’d just make something else and it would be added to the dressing up box.

    How did you get into crochet?

    I’ve always made stuff, since I was tiny, and I tend to gravitate towards material, so lots of sewing and stitching.  My Mum taught me to knit when I was young but I’ve always been horrible at it, dropping and adding stitches all over the place, but I’ve always loved wool.  5 years ago, when I was on maternity leave with my youngest I thought there had to be another way to use wool, and suddenly lit on crochet.  I hopped online, learnt from tutorials, and haven’t stopped since.

    What is your favourite costume in Crochet Dress-Up?

    This is a really hard question because so many have happy, playful memories associated with them!  If I had to pick one though?  It would be the mermaid hair, I just WISH I’d had this when I was little, I would honestly never have taken it off.

    Who is your crafty hero?

    This week it’s Molla Mills, she is so inspiring, invigorating, and just so damn cool!

    If you were going on a desert island, what would your one luxury item be?

    I think it would be a pencil and drawing pad; you just can’t get bored if you’ve got something to sketch on or draws stories or just write down ideas – I always have them with me, so I couldn’t imagine being without them.

    What has been your favourite part of putting together a book?

    The whole thing has been brilliant – when the finished book finally arrived I was so excited I was brandishing it everywhere, on the school run, in the office!  But in particular, I haven’t got the patience to make the same thing over and over again, what I love about crochet is designing and making up patterns – figuring out where and how you need to increase or reduce things to make a shape.  I really enjoyed the process of thinking up and making all the costumes, and then seeing them photographed so beautifully.

    If you’re anything like us, we’re sure you’ve had some crafty mishaps! What has been your best-worst one?!

    Oh goodness, there have been heaps!  The sweetest one is a shocking piece of knitting; I wanted to make my mum a scarf for Christmas, bought some beautiful yarn and set to making this thing.  It came out the craziest shape you’ve ever seen, I’d added stitches all over the place, dropped them everywhere so it was full of holes, it was so far from scarf shape it’s not true, but all credit to my mum, she dutifully draped it in the general area of her neck, and still has it as a warmer on her bed.

    Do you have any top tips for budding crocheters?

    The wondorous thing about crochet is that if you don’t like it, or do something wrong you can just pull and start again, but you can’t drop a stitch, and an extra few here or there will make very little difference when you’ve finished (mostly!).  So don’t be afraid to experiment and play around with it, enjoy it and you’ll find your crochet voice.

    What has been your crafting highlight?

    This is officially the hardest question ever.  If it’s ‘makes’ then I can’t possibly choose, there have been so very many; the fibreglass helmet I made for my 30th roller-disco-futuristic-fancy-dress birthday party was awesome, but the candy skull rug coming out in the next book is equally amazing but completely different (this could go on all day!).  But the biggest highlight is definitely having ‘Crochet Dress-Up’ published, it’s a craft dream come true.

    What’s next?

    I’m just finishing a new collection for a new book called ‘Big Hook Crochet’, which is really exciting, and I’ve finally taken the plunge and left the office job to pursue the crochet and craft more seriously.  I’ve definitely got a lot more patterns in me, so fingers crossed it’ll all work out!

    Crochet Dress-Up by Emma Friedlander-Collins is available here and you can follow more of her crafty adventures on her blog, Steel and Stitch.

    You can also find the book and other fantastic craft books here on our site.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with party, mid-week chat, 2015, crochet, costumes, Emma Friedlander-Collins

  • Posted on February 17, 2015

    Mardi Gras Milkshakes!

    Yesterday we shared some delicious pancake recipes, but if you prefer to party on Mardi Gras we’ve got something special for you taken from our new book with Victoria Glass, Boozy Shakes. Hailing from New Orleans, this grown-up twist on the Bananas Foster will bring the carnival feeling into your celebrations!

    Bananas Foster

    This retro dessert has been given a modern makeover in this boozy banana milkshake. Your kids will definitely want to muscle in on the fun, but these shakes are strictly for adults only.

    100 ml/3½ oz. dark rum

    30 ml/1 oz. crème de banane

    2 large bananas, peeled and roughly chopped

    5 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream

    4 tablespoons Cinnamon Fudge Sauce (see below)

    200 ml/¾ cup whole milk

    Ground cinnamon, to dust

    2 hurricane glasses

    Makes 850 ml/29 oz. and serves 2

    Place the glasses in the freezer to chill for a few minutes.

    Blend together the dark rum, crème de banane, bananas, Vanilla Ice Cream, 2 tablespoons of the Cinnamon Fudge Sauce and milk until thick and smooth.

    Place 1 tablespoon of Cinnamon Fudge Sauce in the base of each glass and swirl it up the sides. Divide the milkshake between the two glasses and dust their tops with ground cinnamon.

    Cinnamon Fudge Sauce

    100 g/½ cup light muscovado sugar

    3 tablespoons golden/light corn syrup

    30 g/2 tablespoons butter

    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

    a pinch of salt

    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

    125 ml/½ cup double/heavy cream

    Makes 300 ml/1¼ cups

    Put all of the ingredients, except for the cream, in a saucepan or pot set over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil, before stirring in the cream. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1–2 minutes. Transfer to a jug/pitcher and leave to cool before using.

    Boozy Shakes by Victoria Glass is available here.

    Happy Mardi Gras folks!

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with drinks, rum, pancakes, Victoria Glass, 2015, banana, ice cream

  • Posted on February 16, 2015

    Spectacular Pancakes for our favourite day in Feb!

    We’re only hours away from our favourite day in February (in fact, one of our favourite days all year!) and couldn’t help but share a couple of recipes. Yes, we'll probably all enjoy making the classic lemon and sugar combo tomorrow (or a cheese and ham variety if you’re feeling slightly savoury!), but imagine if you could push the pancake boundaries and make something truly spectacular (and we don’t mean a pile of failed flips, drowned in syrup or attacked with Nutella!)… Imagine you could make a magnificent meal with your flipping successes and a scrumptious dessert to finish off, all with the fantastic family favourite, the humble pancake.

    And where else do we turn for such tasty inspiration? Hannah Miles and her irresistible book of recipes from the griddle; Pancakes, Crêpes, Waffles & French Toast. You might remember our excitement about this lovely book last year, so this time we’ve picked another couple of pancake plates for you to make; super savoury creamy chicken crêpes and Hannah’s comfortingly sweet rhubarb and custard crêpes. Happy flipping folks!

    creamy chicken crêpes

    As a child, savoury crêpes really didn’t cut it for me! All I wanted was lemon and sugar or maple syrup. As an adult I am a complete convert. The crispy crêpe here acts as a delicious case for the creamy chicken.

    140 g/1 cup plain/all-purpose flour

    1 egg and 1 egg yolk

    2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled, plus extra for frying

    300 ml/1 ¼ cups milk

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste



    250 ml/1 cup white wine

    1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

    1 leek, rinsed and sliced

    1 onion, peeled and halved

    2 bay leaves

    1 teaspoon peppercorns

    1 medium whole chicken (approx. 1.2-kg/ 21⁄2-lb), rinsed



    50 g/3 ½ tablespoons butter

    1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

    250 g/4 cups chestnut mushrooms, quartered

    2 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch

    400 ml/12⁄3 cups double/heavy cream

    1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard


    a large frying pan/skillet, griddle or crêpe pan/machine

    a crêpe swizzle stick (optional) 

    Serves 8

    Begin by preparing the filling. Put the wine, carrot, leek, onion halves, bay leaves and peppercorns in a large saucepan or pot and add the whole chicken. Fill the pan with cold water so that the chicken is completely covered. Put the pan over a medium heat and poach the chicken for 1 hour until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan. Pass the stock through a sieve/strainer over a bowl, discarding the vegetables, and leave to cool.

    Once cool, remove the chicken skin, pull the chicken meat from the bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. Discard the bones and skin. Store the cooked chicken and stock in the refrigerator until needed.

    For the sauce, melt the butter in a frying pan/skillet set over a medium heat, then add the onion and cook until translucent and lightly golden brown. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for 3–5 minutes until soft.

    Sift the cornflour into the pan over the mushrooms and stir well. Cook over the heat for a few minutes then add the cream and 200 ml/3⁄4 cup of the reserved chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until the sauce thickens. Add the mustard and chilled chicken and stir well to coat everything. Set aside to cool.

    To make the crêpe batter, put the flour, egg and egg yolk and melted butter in a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisking all the time, gradually add the milk until you have a smooth and runny batter. Cover and put the batter in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.

    When you are ready to serve, remove the batter from the refrigerator and stir gently. Put a little butter in a large frying pan/skillet set over a medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and coat the base of the pan, then ladle some of the rested batter into the pan and quickly spread the batter out very thinly. You can do this either by tilting the pan, or, for best results, use a crêpe swizzle stick. Cook until the top of the pancake is set then turn over carefully with a spatula and cook on the other side for a further 1–2 minutes until the crêpe is golden brown. Keep the crêpes warm while you cook the remaining batter. Reheat the chicken filling, then spoon it onto one half of each crêpe. Fold the crêpe in half and then half again. Serve immediately with a simple green salad.

    rhubarb and custard crêpes

    Tangy, pink rhubarb and creamy custard perfectly complement each other. This combination makes a great pancake filling with lashings of homemade custard to pour over. You can make both the rhubarb and custard in advance and cook the pancakes just before serving.

    140 g/1 cup plain/all-purpose flour, sifted

    1 egg and 1 egg yolk

    2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled, plus extra for frying

    15 g/1 heaped tablespoon caster/granulated sugar

    a pinch of salt

    300 ml/1 ¼ cups milk

    icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar, to dust



    800 g/20 sticks pink rhubarb, ends trimmed

    2 tablespoons caster/granulated sugar

    120 ml/ ½ cup water



    4 egg yolks

    80 g/ ½ cup caster/granulated sugar

    2 level tablespoons cornflour/corn starch, sifted

    1 vanilla pod/bean, halved and seeds removed (see Note)

    300 ml/1 ¼ cups double/heavy cream

    250 ml/1 cup milk


    an ovenproof dish, greased

    a large frying pan/skillet, griddle or crêpe pan/machine

    a crêpe swizzle stick (optional)


    Makes 10


    Begin by preparing the roasted rhubarb. Preheat the oven to 170ºC (325ºF) Gas 3. Put the rhubarb in the prepared ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and pour over the water. Bake in the preheated oven for 30–40 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still holds its shape.

    To make the crêpe batter, put the flour, egg and egg yolk, melted butter, caster/granulated sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisking all the time, gradually add the milk until you have a smooth and runny batter. Cover and put the batter in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.

    While the batter is resting, make the custard. Place the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour/corn starch in a mixing bowl and whisk until very light and creamy. Set aside. Put the prepared vanilla pod and seeds (see method below) in a  saucepan or pot with the cream and milk set over a high heat. Bring to the boil and then, whisking continuously, pour the hot milk over the egg mixture.

    Whisk well and then return to the pan. Stir over a gentle heat for a few  minutes, until the custard starts to thicken. Remove the vanilla pod and leave to cool.

    Remove the batter from the refrigerator and stir gently. Put a little butter in a large frying pan/skillet set over medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and coat the base of the pan, then ladle a small amount of the rested batter into the pan. Cook until the top of the crêpe is set then turn over very carefully with a spatula and cook on the other side for a further 1–2 minutes until the crêpe is golden brown. Keep the crêpes warm while you cook the remaining batter in the same way.

    Fill each crêpe with a little custard and 2 sticks of roasted rhubarb, then roll up. Dust with icing sugar and serve with the remaining custard on the side.



    To prepare vanilla pods/beans for use in cooking, simply cut in half and run the back of a knife along the pod halves to remove the seeds. The pod can be used alone, with the seeds or seeds only. Once used, the pod can be washed, dried and then stored in a sterilized jar filled with caster/granulated sugar to make vanilla sugar.


    Pancakes, Crepes, Waffles & French Toast by Hannah Miles is available here.

    Have a great evening folks and we hope tomorrow is filled with all of your favourite flips!

    If you'rea  general foodie like us, why not take a look at our current range of food books and bestsellers.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK and was tagged with chicken, eggs, savoury, Hannah Miles, 2014, pancakes, sweet, griddle, rhubarb, crepes, custard, flour, milk, butter

  • Posted on February 13, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend: Anti-Valentine's Edition!

    For lots of folk, this weekend presents a challenge. Whether loved-up but not really into the whole V-Day malarkey, or fielding calls left right and centre about when exactly Lord Right is going to come knocking (thanks mum!) Valentine's Day isn't for everyone... But worry not! Our new book, Cooking For One is here to help. A perfect repertoire of recipes for one person, getting rid of fuss and waste, but also delicious and proof that solo dining needn’t be sad! So go on, treat yourself this weekend with this tasty Pad Thai!

    Chicken Pad Thai

    Spicy and satisfying, this streetfood favourite packs in all the flavours of Thailand. The shrimp paste adds a distinctive savoury depth to the dish, so don’t let its pungent aroma put you off. And don’t forget the squeeze of lime at the end for that essential tangy finish.

    75 g/3 oz. dried flat Thai rice noodles

    1 large garlic clove, crushed

    ½ large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped, plus ¼ finely chopped, to serve

    ½ teaspoon shrimp paste (optional)

    ½ tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra if needed

    1 skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-cm pieces

    1 tablespoon fish sauce

    1 egg, lightly beaten

    50 g/2 oz. beansprouts

    20 g/ ¾ oz. Chinese chives, cut into 4-cm/1.-inch lengths

    ½ tablespoon tamarind paste

    ½ tablespoon palm sugar or soft light brown sugar

    1½ tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts

    1 spring onion/scallion, green and light green parts only, thinly sliced on the diagonal

    a squeeze of fresh lime juice

    1 tablespoon roughly chopped coriander  leaves

    lime wedges, to serve

    a food processor or mortar and pestle

    Serves 1

    Put the noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 20 minutes, or until softened but not cooked through. Drain well.

    Meanwhile, put the garlic, chilli and shrimp paste, if using, in a pestle and mortar and grind until you have a rough paste. Alternatively, blitz in a food processor with a little water.

    Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan/skillet until very hot. Add the paste and fry over high heat for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Season the chicken with ¼ tablespoon of the fish sauce and add to the wok. Stir-fry for 4 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken from the wok and set aside.

    Heat another ¼ tablespoon oil in the wok, if necessary. When hot, pour in the beaten egg. Leave the bottom to set, then break up with a spoon to get softly set scrambled egg. Return the chicken to the wok with the drained noodles, beansprouts and Chinese chives. Stir well.

    Meanwhile, combine the remaining fish sauce with the tamarind paste and palm sugar, then add to the wok with half the peanuts. Stir-fry for 2–4 minutes, or until the noodles are tender. You may need to sprinkle in a little water if the noodles look too dry. Stir in the spring onion/scallion and lime juice.

    Taste and add more fish sauce if you think it needs it.

    Transfer the pad Thai to a serving plate, garnish with the chopped coriander/cilantro, chilli and remaining peanuts and eat immediately with lime wedges for squeezing.

    Cooking for One is available here.

    Have a fab weekend everyone!

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with chicken, Thai, Valentines Day, savoury, recipe for the weekend, noodles, 2015, cooking for one

  • Posted on February 12, 2015

    Sew Scentilicious!

    Here at RPS and CICO Books, there are two television programmes (well, there are probably a few more!) that we can’t help but get super excited about… As you know, GBBO is one of those programmes and the other is the absolutely brilliant Great British Sewing Bee! With an office full of craft lovers, the wonderful fabric and stitching challenges are right up our street, and last week’s introductory episode got us all in the sewing mood! So, in preparation for tonight’s episode, we’ve picked out a small and simple sewing pattern to make while we’re watching the contestants; stylish lavender bags from the new book by Kate Haxell, Sew-licious Little Things. Why not give this simple Scentilicious project a go tonight!


    Lavender bags smell delicious, but often look embarrassingly twee. Why? I’ve no idea; there’s no need for it. Make your own from scraps of your favorite fabrics, and give them little loops so you can put them on clothes hangers and make your whole closet scentilicious. The buttons help to make the lavender bag pleasingly firm, but you don’t have to add them. 


    Two scraps of fabric, each the size you want the lavender bag to be; mine was about 4 x 3 1/4in (10 x 8cm)

    Piece of ribbon or tape about 4in (10cm) long

    Dried lavender

    Decorative button and plain button

    Fabric scissors

    Iron and ironing board


    Sewing threads to match fabrics

    Sewing machine

    Hand-sewing needle

    1. Place the fabrics right sides together and cut out the shape you want your bag to be, remembering to cut it about 3/8in (1cm) larger all around to allow for seam allowances. If you prefer, you can make a paper template and draw around that.

    2. Fold the tape in half, overlapping the ends so that the right side of one end lies on top of the wrong side of the other end. Pin the folded tape to the right side of the front of the bag, matching the raw ends to the top edge.

    3. Lay the other piece of fabric right side down on top of the first piece, with the tape in between. Taking a 3/8in (1-cm) seam allowance, sew around the edges, leaving a small gap in one side. Cut notches in the seam allowances around any curves.

    4. Turn the bag right side out through gap and press it flat. Fill the bag dried lavender, then ladder stitch the gap closed.

    5. Thread the hand-sewing needle with a long length of thread, double it, and knot the ends. From the back, take the needle right through the bag, then thread on the decorative button. Go back down through the other hole in the button and right through to the back of the bag, then thread on the plain button. Pull the thread tight. Go back and forth through both buttons a few times, then secure the thread by looping and knotting it under the button on the back.

    Sew-licious Little Things by Kate Haxell is available here.

    Full of lovely small and practical projects for the home and accessories for you to wear, this book is perfect if you're after a quick sewing pattern or want to make the most of the little things in life. For more on craft project ideas, click here.

    Hope you enjoy the Sewing Bee and have a lovely evening!

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with handmade, fabric, quick, sewing, tutorial, 2015, patterns

  • Posted on February 11, 2015

    Midweek Chat with Charlotte White

    With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we’re thinking about ways to impress our loved ones (whether that’s a partner, best pal or yourself!) and we’re in agreement that baking ought to do it! And when we think of baking, we can’t help but also think of Charlotte White’s wonderfully romantic, vintage-inspired bakes. Her latest book, Deliciously Decorated, is gorgeous and we thought we’d take this opportunity to quiz Charlotte about her life, inspiration and work!

    Hello, Charlotte, welcome to our blog. Do make yourself comfortable! Can you tell us a bit about Restoration Cake and how you got into baking?

    It’s the classic entry into baking really; my Nana taught me to bake when I was a little girl. She taught all of her Grandchildren to bake. I loved to make butterfly cakes and I think my Brother favoured sausage rolls. Very little has changed there really!

    Restoration Cake was born out of a time when I was working full time and baking provided the perfect remedy to a day spent in a corporate environment – which was not for me. Once friends and colleagues got wind of a baker in their midst, I started to receive commissions for celebration cakes and set myself up in business.

    The name has always confused people (which I love!) because it has nothing to do with restoration but rather The Restoration of 1660. I am a complete history geek and read a great deal about King Charles II, the Merry Monarch. For me, the Restoration represents a moment in history where the people moved from a black and white time into one of bright Technicolor, like the moment that Dorothy wanders into Oz. It was a time of decadence and opulence and glamour, the very best ingredients for any cake!

    From where do you draw inspiration?

    From all over! I’ve always said that I do not have an original idea in my head! Each of my cake designs is inspired to pay homage to something beautiful. The best places for inspiration are classic Hollywood cinema (I have a film degree and watch far too many old movies!), fashion, and art, though I have been inspired by song lyrics and architecture too.

    In Deliciously Decorated, there is a cake with a handpainted pattern taken from the green dress that Scarlett O’Hara wears to the Twelve Oaks barbeque in Gone With The Wind. There is also a cake inspired by a room in the Palace of Versailles. So long as it is glamorous, I can see it in icing!

    If you could bake a cake for anyone, living or otherwise, who would it be?

    Last year, Macmillan Cancer Support asked the nation who they would most like to share aslice of cake with and the number one celebrity was Stephen Fry. I was lucky enough to be the baker to make this cake for Stephen Fry!

    I feel like, with this power to explore the ‘otherwise’ option, I should say Marilyn Monroe. She could have used a girlfriend and a slice of cake. I would bake a big cake and invite Groucho Marx over to make us laugh.

    Can I say Woody Allen too? You’re all invited. I’ll get baking...

    [Ed.: erm, yes please!]

    What is your favourite bake from Deliciously Decorated?

     This changes several times a day depending on my mood! Today it would have to be my Jay Gatsby: Deco Decadence cake [see below] as I have just spent a happy few hours sketching a bigger and better version of this cake for a summer wedding with an Art Deco theme. I do love the simple colour palette of black, white, and gold.

    If you’re anything like us, we’re sure you’ve had some culinary mishaps! What has been your best-worst one?!

    I forgot to bake the sugar into a Chocolate Mud Cake once. I was rushing around and could not understand why the cake mixture was not pouring into the cake tins as usual. I still baked the cake and remember eating it with my friends and no-one could quite put the finger on why it was a little off. It took a while for me to work out my mistake!

    The moral of the story? Read the recipe and don’t rush.

    Charlotte's Art Deco 'Jay Gatsby' cake

    What is your favourite part of putting together a book?

    It is fun gathering ideas and inspiration and working out what the book is going to look like. After all is said and done, there is nothing like the feeling of receiving the very first copy from the printers. Up until that point, there is a slight disconnect that you are producing an actual real-life book that will sit on bookshelves and get covered with cake mix in kitchens.

    If you were going on a desert island, what would your one luxury item be?

    Music. I cannot live without it. My Spotify Premium account and a speaker with limitless battery power would do. If this is not possible, I’ll take either my ukulele or if I can only have one song, I’ll take Sympathy For the Devil by The Rolling Stones and work on my Mick Jagger impression.

    What three things are never out of stock in your kitchen?

    Sugarflair Red Extra food colour for Red Velvet cakes, LittlePod Vanilla Fold 2 Vanilla Extract, which is more intense than any other vanilla on Earth or in Heaven, and about 10 different types of sugar.

    And Sauvignon Blanc.

    A beautiful sugarcraft rose

    What advice do you have for anyone who would like to get into cake decorating, but is intimidated by seemingly complicated decorations?

    We all started somewhere. My first cake designs were not as good as the ones I can make now. Take your time and practice. It is a daunting prospect to look at all of the kit and techniques that the professionals use so choose your teacher wisely and start with simple designs (a covered cake with a few small handmade sugar roses or flowers made using Blossom Sugar Art cutters and moulds), adding more techniques each time you bake.

    It’s Valentine’s Day this weekend, any top tips for the baking-minded?

    Bake a Chocolate Mud Cake. Not only is Valentine’s Day the perfect excuse for all things chocolately, but the smell of this cake will fill your kitchen and entire house with a sweet scent. Maybe make a cake like my Judy Garland cake, in the shape of a heart with raspberries or strawberries on top. Instead of the blue gingham ribbon, you could tie your cake with a red ribbon or one with hearts on it!

    Get dressed up and go out for dinner. Drink champagne. Be in love.

    Wonderful advice – thanks Charlotte! And pop over to our Facebook to see a video tutorial on perfectly iced Valentine’s Day biscuits.

    Deliciously Decorated by Charlotte White is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, Recipes, Videos, What's new and was tagged with Valentines Day, baking, Book Launch, Charlotte White, cake, mid-week chat, 2015, video tutorial

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