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Monthly Archives: March 2015
  • Posted on March 31, 2015

    Make a Treasure Map for an Easter Egg Hunt!

    Here at CICO Books, one of our favourite things about Easter (aside from the four day weekend and copious amounts of chocolate!) is a good, old Easter egg hunt. But the fun doesn’t need to wait until Easter Sunday – with this craft project from More Boredom Busters, the kids can start getting excited any day this week! Following these simple steps (and with a little grown-up supervision), your children can make a wonderful rustic treasure map, ready to hunt for their egg. You could turn it into a game for brothers, sisters, cousins and friends - each child makes a map and hides an egg, and then they all swap maps for the treasure hunt. Happy hunting!

    Kid's Treasure Map: fun tea-staining craft project 

    treasure map

    Making a Treasure Map can be an activity today—and a game tomorrow! Tracking down locations on a Treasure Map is a fun indoor activity for a rainy day or an entertaining outdoor scavenger hunt on a sunny day. This Boredom Buster makes a tea-stained Treasure Map, but you could use the same method to make ancient looking paper for invitations and party posters.

    MAKE IT IN: 24 hours

    BOREDOM BUSTER: One time activity (but you’ll want to make it again)


    Things you need:


    4 tea bags (black tea)


    White computer paper

    Rectangular baking tray (with sides)


    Wire cooling rack

    Paper towel

    Marker pens, stickers, and glitter glue

    Step 1 - tea-stained treasure map craft project

    1. Ask an adult to help you boil a kettle full of water. Put the tea bags in the teapot.

    Step 2 - tea-stained treasure map craft project

    2. While you wait for the water to boil, scrunch up a sheet of white paper. Unscrunch the paper and lay it out flat in the baking tray.

    Step 3 - tea-stained treasure map craft project

    3. When the kettle has boiled, carefully pour the water into the teapot (ask an adult for help) and leave it to “brew” for 10 minutes. Then pour the tea into the baking tray, being sure to completely cover the white crumpled paper.

    Step 4 - tea-stained treasure map craft project

    4. Use a spoon to poke down any parts of the paper that might not be covered and then leave the paper to sit in the tea for 1–2 hours (depending on how brown you would like it).

    Step 5 - tea-stained treasure map craft project

    5. Place some sheets of paper towel under the wire rack to mop up any drips. Carefully take the paper out of the tea. It will be delicate so be careful not to rip it. A tear or two might make it look old but a big rip might break it in two. Lay the tea stained paper on the wire rack and let dry overnight.

    X marks the spot - tea-stained treasure map craft project

    6. Decorate your treasure map with marker pens, stickers, or glitter glue. Be sure to draw a compass showing North, South, East, and West, along with trees, footsteps, and paths. And, of course, don’t forget to draw an “X” to mark the spot where the treasure is to be found!


    For lots of other fun ideas, crafts and activities to keep the kids entertained over the school holidays; More Boredom Busters by Caroline Fernandez is available here.

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with easter, school holidays, cico kidz, crafts for kids, activities for kids, 2015

  • Posted on March 27, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend: National Paella Day Edition

    It's National Paella Day and the sun is shining, so what better way to celebrate than by sharing and cooking a recipe from the colourful new Paella cookbook by Louise Pickford? Full of authentic Spanish rice dishes – with everything from the classic chicken and seafood paella to flavourful rice soups and delicious creamy and baked rice dishes – this book is going to be your go-to for summer parties! As it’s a day for celebration and we’re in the mood for one of the more luxurious paella dishes, the recipe we’ve got for you this weekend is paella con langostinos (or rice with langoustine). Go on, treat yourself!

    Paella con Langostinos - Rice with Langoustine

    rice with langoustine paella con langostinos

    Classically this luxurious paella would be served with whole langoustines arranged over the rice. I prefer to use the heads and claws to add flavour to the stock, and the halved langoustines are then added to the rice, making them far easier to eat. With strips of piquillo peppers and the pink shellfish, this still looks wonderful as it’s brought to the table. You could use large prawns/jumbo shrimp instead.

    Paella Rice

    1.25 litres/generous 5 cups fish stock

    20 large langoustines

    1⁄4 teaspoon saffron strands

    6 piquillo peppers

    6 tablespoons olive oil

    1 small onion, finely chopped

    4 garlic cloves, crushed

    grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1⁄2 lemon

    2 tomatoes, finely chopped

    1 teaspoon sweet paprika

    350 g/scant 2 cups bomba, Calasparra or arborio rice

    2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, to garnish

    salt and freshly ground

    black pepper

    Serves 4

    Spanish Rice Pots

    Place the stock in a large saucepan. Remove the heads and claws from the langoustines and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes, then strain and discard the shells. Add the saffron strands to the stock and set aside to infuse. Finely chop 1 of the piquillo peppers, and cut the rest into thick strips. Set aside.

    Cut the langoustine bodies in half lengthways and discard the black intestinal tract. Heat half the oil in a 35-cm/14-in. paella pan (or shallow flameproof casserole) and fry the langoustines, in batches, for 30 seconds on each side, until lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

    Add the remaining oil to the pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and lemon zest for 10 minutes, until soft and lightly golden. Add the chopped peppers, tomatoes and paprika, and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the sauce is dry.

    Add the rice, stir well and then pour in the stock. Cook for 15–18 minutes and then arrange the langoustine halves and pepper strips over the rice. Squeeze over the lemon juice, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving, sprinkled with chopped parsley, and accompanied by some salad leaves, if you like.

    'Paella and other Spanish Rice Dishes' Cookbook

    Paella and other Spanish rice dishes by Louise Pickford is available here.

    Have a wonderful weekend everyone and happy paella day!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with rice, savoury, recipe for the weekend, Louise Pickford, 2015, prawn

  • Posted on March 26, 2015

    Easter Egg-cessories!

    With some of us in the office beginning to crave the chocolate or crisps that we optimistically gave up for lent, we decided that some eggciting lunchtime crafting might cheer us along... so last week we got into the Easter spirit with a session of hard-boiled egg decorating! Today we thought we'd share a few snaps to get you in the mood and a craft tutorial, so that you and the kids can have a go at making this handsome chap:

    Egg decorating project in 'A Year in Crafts' book

    Easter crafting

    Office Crafternoon for Easter

    We had a cracking time making lots of cute paper eggcessories from the project in Clare Youngs' latest book, A Year in Crafts, and drawing faces to create a range of eggstraordinary characters. Below are just a few of our favourites and head to the bottom of the blog post to watch an amusing video tutorial from Jen and Polly (such yolkers!)...

    King and Queen of Quicheville - Easter Egg Characters

    The King and Queen of Quicheville and their two lovely daughters, Olivia Omelette and Felicity Frittata.

    Benedict Cumberpatch - Easter Egg Character

    Benedict Cumberpatch

    Easter Egg Bunnies

    Easter Bunnies

    Mayor of Yolktown - Easter Egg Characters

    The Mayor of Yolktown

    While we would certainly recommend breaking out of your shell (sorry, these are getting worse!) and enjoying a spot of egg decorating over a work lunch, it makes such an eggcellent activity for the kids on their Easter holidays next week! So here's a quick video tutorial for them to follow (and if you're brains are a little scrambled from a busy day at work then you might want to follow these steps as well!):

    Easter Egg Decorating Video Tutorial

    Okay, we've poached plenty of puns from folk around the office and we're finally running out of steam here in the CICO box (and they've not eggsactly been that amusing anyway!), so all that's left to say is that we hope you all enjoy making your eggcessories and have an eggstremely fun Easter break! Over easy and out.

    A Year in Crafts by Clare Youngs

    For loads more craft ideas and activities to see you and the kids through the whole year, check our A Year in Crafts by Clare Youngs.

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, Videos and was tagged with eggs, easter, kids, photos, activities for kids, 2015, video tutorial

  • Posted on March 23, 2015

    Jenny Linford's lovely launch party!

    On Thursday evening we headed out to one of our favourite shops, Books for Cooks, in Notting Hill to celebrate the launch of another wonderful cookbook by Jenny Linford. Packed with friendly faces, tasty tomato canapés (no, we did not just have stuffed cherry tomatoes!) and lots of chatter about the most versatile, colourful and humble of foods, the evening was a great success! Jenny looked lovely (in colour coordination with her book!) and we all had a super time celebrating with her. Here's just a few photos to give you a taste of the evening!

    Jenny had prepared a fantastic selection of nibbles with recipes from the book, including tasty tomato blinis; cucumber with spicy and refreshing tomato jam; the most addictive sun-dried tomato Parmesan spirals you will ever try; flavour-packed Patatas bravas that we politely tucked into with cocktail sticks (and forks when nobody was looking!); delicious cups of fresh and zingy Thai gazpacho; Jenny's cherry tomato and olive foccacia; and lovely little sunblush tomatoes. Perfect!

    A selection of friends, family and foodies came along to wish Jenny congratulations on the book...

    A lovely evening and a great book... now to get cooking!

    The Tomato Basket by Jenny Linford is available here.

    This Wednesday (25th March) Jenny is giving a talk with Mark Diacono at Divertimenti - it's sure to be a good evening, with talk about food, gardening and the joys of seasonal cooking! - so if you're free and fancy an evening with Mark and Jenny then you can still buy your ticket (for the bargain price of £6!) here.

    Have a super week folks!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with event, Book Launch, tomato, Jenny Linford, photos, 2015

  • Posted on March 17, 2015

    St Patrick's Day Irish Coffee

    Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone! We couldn’t let today go by without sharing a special Irish Coffee recipe from our coffee, whisky and cocktail expert, Tristan Stephenson (though he has some thoughts on the subject that might surprise you). If you love the traditional combination of cold cream floating on top of a very sweet whisky and coffee mix, then we hope you have a lovely evening celebrating and enjoy your drink! If, however, you’ve always wondered why those three delicious ingredients don’t quite hit the spot as you would expect, then Tristan has some ideas to update the classic and create something truly wonderful for you to make, taste, and experience. Don’t worry though, the basic elements of this drink are unchanged so you can still raise a glass of the Stephenson Irish Coffee to St Patrick... Have a good one!

    Tristan Stephenson's thoughts on Irish Coffee... 

    This is the second book in which I have featured an Irish coffee, and if you’ve read my comments on the drink in The Curious Bartender: An Odyssey of Whiskies, you will no doubt find this an ironic turn of events.

    My passion for cocktails, whiskey and coffee ought to elevate my personal appreciation of the Irish coffee above all other worldly things. In fact, the opposite is true. I possess such a senseless hostility towards this iconic drink that an Irish bartender presuming to serve me one would be reduced to tears by cold stare alone – did I mention that I am of Irish descent? And so the paradox deepens…

    Recently my distaste has developed into a morbid curiosity. It has become a personal mission to make this drink taste good, while at the same time convincing others that the classic version is bad.

    You see, on paper Irish Coffee should work. We have the combined powers of fat, sugar, alcohol and caffeine – some of life’s greatest pleasures – all working towards a common goal of deliciousness. But in mixing sweetened coffee and whiskey together we discover not a grand unification but an abomination of epic proportions. Nuances are lost, subtleties abandoned and we are left with only wood-flavoured coffee and hot alcohol fumes. The purpose of the cream is to temper the heat of the coffee and the burn of the alcohol – a kind of chilled safety blanket – but the damage has been done and no amount of cream can save us. The problem lies less in the ingredients and more in the execution: balance and ratio have been sacrificed for simplicity and ease of service.

    My new recipe is effectively a reverse of the classic where warm whiskey-flavoured cream is floated on top of chilled sweetened black coffee. The effect of warm cream on the lips is far more pleasant than dipping your lip into cold cream on top of a classic Irish Coffee only to have it burnt a moment later by the hot coffee underneath. I have also mixed the whiskey with the cream, rather than the coffee, since together these two have proven a powerful affinity (see exhibit A: Bailey’s).

    For the coffee I recommend using something a little darker roasted, as it’s chocolate, caramel and vanilla characteristics we’re looking for here. Brew as iced coffee, or cold drip, then sweeten it slightly in the service of after-dinner appeal.

    Stephenson Irish Coffee Recipe


    SERVES 1

    For the Coffee

    150 g (150 ml/5 fl. oz) cold drip/chilled black coffee

    5 g/1 teaspoon granulated sugar (or to taste)

    For the Cream

    300 ml/10 fl. oz whipping cream

    100 g (100 ml/3 1/2 fl. oz) Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey

    0.8 g/ 1/32 oz xanthan gum

    20 g/ 3/4 oz granulated sugar

    1. Brew the coffee using your chosen method and sweeten to taste.

    2. Use a balloon whisk or a free-standing mixer to whisk the cream, whiskey, xanthan gum and sugar until fully combined and smooth.

    3. Carefully lay the cream mixture on top of the coffee using a wooden spoon or a ladle. Alternatively, if you happen to own a 500 ml/1 pint cream whipper and a nitrogen oxide (N2O) cartridge, add the cream to the whipper and charge it with one 8 g/3⁄4 oz N2O cartridge. Hold the whipper in a warm-water bath or pan at 60°C/140°F, and shake briefly before dispensing onto the surface of the drink.

    Note: Both elements of this drink can be stored for up to a week in the fridge, then built together to order.


    Find out more about The Curious Barista's Guide to Coffee by Tristan Stephenson or buy the book here!

    This post was posted in Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with drinks, coffee, Tristan Stephenson, St Patrick's Day, whisky, 2015

  • Posted on March 13, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend: Mother's Day Edition

    This week we’ve been sharing ideas for Mother’s Day, from tasty sweet treats, such as these decadent red velvet cupcakes, to handmade gifts, like this arm knitted scarf, and even some special tea cup cards for the kids to make! So for today’s recipe we’ve picked a delicious yet simple dish for you to make for mum on Sunday, so that you can spend the time sitting and chatting together rather than slaving away in the kitchen! A delicious tomato bacon gratin; this will work as a lazy brunch with a good cup of tea or light lunch with an indulgent glass of wine (we know which one we’d choose!)

    Photograph of Tomato Bacon Gratin Recipe

    Taken from Jenny Linford’s lovely new book, The Tomato Basket, this recipe is just one of many, showing just how versatile the humble tomato can be! The book offers a great range of imaginative dishes, as well as tomato classics, and we love Jenny’s recipes as they’re simple to make, only use easy to find ingredients, and always taste absolutely divine - the perfect combination for a busy mum or any lover of simply good food.

    tomato bacon gratin

    Juicy, naturally sweet tomatoes and salty bacon are one of those great flavour combinations. Serve this simple-to-make dish for breakfast, brunch or a light lunch, with bread on the side.

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    2 bacon rashers/slices, finely chopped

    1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped

    25 g/1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

    a pinch of dried oregano

    4 tomatoes

    10 g/2 ½ tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    salt and freshly ground black pepper

    a shallow ovenproof casserole dish, greased

    Serves 4

    Three red tomatoes on the vine

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.

    Heat the oil in a small frying pan/skillet set over a medium heat. Add the bacon and shallot and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and the bacon is cooked. Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs and oregano.

    Slice the tomatoes into 1-cm/3/8-in. thick slices. Arrange in the prepared casserole dish, overlapping slightly. Season with a little salt and pepper, bearing in mind the saltiness of the bacon.

    Spread the bacon mixture evenly over the tomato slices, then sprinkle over the Parmesan. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes and serve hot from the oven.

    The Tomato Basket book by Jenny Linford

    The Tomato Basket by Jenny Linford is available here.

    We hope you have a lovely weekend and Happy Mother's Day!

    This post was posted in News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with savoury, Mother's Day, brunch, recipe for the weekend, tomato, Jenny Linford, quick, 2015, bacon

  • Posted on March 11, 2015

    Midweek Chat with Liz Dean

    When did you last do something creative? There's something a bit scary about that word, like it demands high art with a daunting amount of time and effort. We all feel it. But our new book How To Be Creative by Liz Dean challenges this. We love the idea that there’s some creativity in all of us, and Liz’s book is certainly inspiring us to tap into our own creative power! We caught up with her to chat about her latest book, how she likes to get creative, and how she likes to unwind! So, kettles on, let’s get to know Liz!

    Have you always been creative, or did you rediscover creativity? 

    I guess I’ve been consistently creative, but that creativity has taken many forms over the years. When I worked full-time in an office, I wrote poetry and played trumpet in a swing band. I see creativity as a current that ebbs and flows - but it’s always there.

    What would you say are the most positive aspects of living a more creative life?

    You get to spend time with yourself, and it’s always rewarding. When we’re in the creative zone - writing, baking, crafting, rambling - whatever it is we love to do - time stands still. We’re in the moment, absorbed and happy, just as we were as children. When we give ourselves permission to be creative, we can play again. I devoted a whole chapter to play, because it’s through a play attitude we can reconnect with our natural creativity, without the need to be perfect. Creativity also helps us deal with stress; it’s valuable therapy.

    Where do you draw creative inspiration from?

    Eavesdropping on public transport. I love those conversation snippets and wonder what happened next. I also tend to go for visual inspiration, rather than reading non-fiction - so film, art and artists. I’m fascinated how artists work. They can see value in anything from bath scum to the weather. Tarot cards, too, are an amazing source of inspiration - they show us the richness of our unconscious mind.

    Who would your three dream dinner party guests be? 

    Russell Brand, Ruby Wax, Vic Reeves. Pure chaos.

    Creativity is often seen as the domain of genius, belonging only to artists, actors and musicians; how can we break this stereotype? 

    Perhaps by accepting we’re all creative genii - and that we’re hard-wired to be creative. It’s part of our primal-brain survival mechanism. Whether we can fully express our creativity depends on how willing we are to question our ‘block attitudes’: fear, perfectionism and comparison with others (there’s a questionnaire in the book that helps readers identify their blocks, plus exercises to break through them). When you work through a block, it’s like opening a window to the light.

    Secondly, when we begin to appreciate our own creativity, we start to notice the subtle creativity all around us - from the type styling of a street sign to the pattern a shadow makes. We become curious children again, open to new experiences.

    What did you enjoy most about writing How To Be Creative? 

    It’s been a great opportunity to share my creative techniques and those of the book’s consultant, Professor Michael Young. One of the exercises of Michael’s I love is the Introvert/Extrovert - to try being your opposite personality type for a day to experience a difference perspective.

    Which is your favourite exercise in the book?

    The Ten-minute Countdown - where you limit your creative time to just ten minutes before a deadline, such as leaving your home for work or an appointment. There’s no pressure to be brilliant. Without self-judgement, you create, and enjoy creating for those few minutes every day.

    How do you relax? 

    Meditation and music. And there is a time and a place for trash TV.

    Being creative every day might seem daunting to some of our readers, what tips do you have? 

    By making creativity normal, so it’s part of your everyday routine and attitude. You might try a mini-brainstorm or mind-map to make a decision, take your problem for a mindful walk at lunchtime on the way to Pret - or make a card or cake for a friend’s birthday. Weave it into the everyday, and you’ll begin to feel not only inspired, but more confident, too: creativity is much like having a tool box with infinite resources and solutions for anything you encounter.

    What’s next?

    Who knows? Anything is possible!

    How to Be Creative by Liz Dean is available here.

    Thanks very much for chatting to us Liz! We're looking forward to trying the Ten Minute Countdown especially!

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with mid-week chat, Liz Dean, mind body spirit, Book of the Week, 2015, creative

  • Posted on March 11, 2015

    Make a Mother's Day Tea Card!

    With Mother’s Day only a few days away, there’s still time for the kids to hand make a thoughtful card to surprise mum on Sunday morning. So today we have a video tutorial showing them how to make a card that is perfect for tea loving mums. This fun card can be personalised with their favourite colours and stickers, and is really simple to make! Simply click on the video below to watch the tutorial.

    Video Tutorial for Kids: How to make a tea card!

    Polly and I had great fun making several of these tea cards and have sent them around the office to the biggest tea drinkers! So if the kids are enjoying the cutting, sticking, colouring, and stickering, then they can always make a few to send out to their grandparents, teachers, and friends, whenever an occasion arises! Have fun kids and we hope you make it a very happy Mother’s Day!

    Photo of Polly and Jen's tea cup cards

    More fun activities for kids!

    This project was taken from the new book, More Boredom Busters, by Caroline Fernandez, which includes over 50 awesome activities for children aged 7years +. The ideas all use simple materials found around the home or classroom and include great step-by-step instructions so that they are super easy to follow!

    Caroline is officially launching her book with a Twitter chat, including lots of fun ideas to keep the kids entertained over Spring break (or in preparation for the Easter holidays in the UK!) and a chance to win a copy of the book, so make sure you're there to join in. Details:

    Thursday Mar 12

    12-1pm ET (4-5pm GMT)


    TOPIC: How to keep kids busy during Spring break

    More Boredom Busters by Caroline Fernandez

    For more information about the book and to see what other sorts of crafts and activities there are for kids to get stuck into, then please click here.

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, UK, Videos, What's new and was tagged with handmade, Mother's Day, gift, school holidays, cico kidz, crafts for kids, kids, simple, video, paper crafts, 2015

  • Posted on March 9, 2015

    Mother's Day Treats

    With Mother's Day just around the corner we’re looking forward to celebrating the women that raised us in the way we know best! Baking of course! These decadent Red Velvet Cupcakes from LOLA’s Forever are the perfect treat for mum this weekend, and we bet little hands will love to help…especially with licking the spoon! Check back through the week because we’ve got heaps more ideas to help you spoil your mums…

    Red Velvet Cupcake

    We add melted chocolate and ground almonds to our red velvet cupcake to keep it moist and moreish, and top it off with a cool cream cheese icing.

    110 g butter

    160 g caster sugar

    1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

    ½ teaspoon red food colouring paste

    1 egg

    3 tablespoons sunflower oil

    ¾ tablespoon white wine vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice

    35 g dark chocolate, melted

    190 g plain flour

    ½ teaspoon baking powder

    ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

    ¾ tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

    70 ml single cream

    70 ml full-fat milk

    35 g ground almonds

    Cream cheese icing 

    60 g butter

    1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

    200 g icing sugar

    400 g full-fat cream cheese

    To decorate 

    red velvet cake crumbs (blitz an un-iced cupcake in a food processor and allow to dry out before storing in an airtight container)

    muffin pan lined with 12 muffin cases

    piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle

    Makes 12

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

    Place the butter, sugar and vanilla bean paste 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 food colouring paste and the egg, and beat slowly until combined. Beat in the oil and vinegar or lemon juice, followed by the melted chocolate.

    Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and unsweetened cocoa powder together into a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the batter, a little at a time, alternating with the cream and milk until you have a soft batter and all the dry ingredients have been incorporated. Finally add the ground almonds and mix until smooth and a uniform colour. Scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and briefly beat at high speed until the mixture is smooth. 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 18–22 minutes, or until risen and a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    To make the cream cheese icing, 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 smooth and soft. Add the vanilla bean paste and sift in the icing  sugar. Add the cream cheese and beat at medium to high speed for about 30 seconds, until smooth and glossy. Do not over-mix.

    Spoon the icing into the piping bag, and pipe a swirl onto each cake. Alternatively, spread the cream cheese icing onto each cupcake using a palette knife or metal spatula. Sprinkle some red velvet cake crumbs onto each cupcake to decorate.

    LOLA's Forever by The LOLA's Bakers is available here.

    We definitely know some Mums out there who'd love this treat this Sunday! Happy baking!

    This post was posted in News, Recipes, UK and was tagged with baking, Mother's Day, cupcakes, chocolate, 2014, sweet, LOLA's

  • Posted on March 6, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    The sun has finally decided to put his hat on and we’re starting to believe that spring is here and (dare we say it!) summer is around the corner. Needless to say, we’re in a salad mood this weekend and have turned to the lovely new book by Nicola Graimes, The Salad Bowl, for today’s recipe. Transforming a healthy dish into something vibrant and delicious, Nicola’s salads range from appetising meat, fish and dairy dishes to nutritious pulse, grain and veggie plates.

    Sweet, sticky and spicy, here carrots are combined with chickpeas and toasted seeds, and served with a fragrant cream made with fresh orange zest and juice mixed with crème fraîche.

    This healthy honey-roasted carrot, chickpea and seed salad is topped with zingy citrus cream and just seems to tick all the boxes for this weekend. So, whether you’re looking for a flavorsome light lunch or a Spring accompaniment to your Sunday dinner, then we hope you enjoy this salad!

    honey-roasted carrots & seeds with citrus cream

    Sweet, sticky and spicy, here carrots are combined with chickpeas and toasted seeds, and served with a fragrant cream made with fresh orange zest and juice mixed with crème fraîche.

    Rustic carrots, ready to prepare for a sweet and spicy salad

    600 g/1lb. 5oz. baby carrots, scrubbed and trimmed

    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

    1 teaspoon cumin seeds

    2 teaspoons clear honey

    400 g/14 oz. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

    2 large handfuls of rocket/arugula leaves

    1 red chilli/chile, seeded and thinly sliced

    2 handfuls of basil leaves

    4 tablespoons mixed sunflower and pumpkin seeds, toasted

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


    100 ml/1⁄3 cup crème fraîche

    finely grated zest of 1⁄2 orange

    3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

    Serves 4

    Chickpeas in oil, ready to stir into the delicious honey-roast carrot salad

    Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6. Put the carrots in a large roasting pan and drizzle over enough oil to coat, season, then toss them with your hands. Roast the carrots for 15 minutes, then stir in the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle the cumin seeds over. Return the carrots to the oven for another 15 minutes or until tender and starting to turn golden.

    Meanwhile, for the citrus cream mix together the crème fraîche, the orange zest and half the juice in a bowl.

    Transfer the carrots to a bowl. Stir the honey and remaining orange juice into the juices in the roasting pan until combined and then pour over the carrots. Add the chickpeas, rocket/arugula and chilli/chile and toss until mixed together. Divide between 4 serving plates and arrange the basil leaves and toasted seeds over. Top each serving with a spoonful of the citrus cream.


    Recipe book: The Salad Bowl by Nicola Graimes

    The Salad Bowl by Nicola Graimes is available to buy here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with carrot, salad, chickpeas, savoury, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, 2015, healthy

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