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

    St Andrew's Day Baking

    Whilst our friends and colleagues in America are celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend, we’re looking forward to Monday and St Andrew’s Day with today’s recipe. Victoria Glass has updated the Scottish classic ‘Millionaire’s Shortbread’ in her book Deliciously Chocolatey, and we’re sure you’d impress even the heartiest Highlander with this one! So go on, put the kettle on and enjoy a wee piece! And don’t worry; if your Thanksgiving celebrations were delayed until the weekend, we recently shared our Turkey tips and Pumpkin Pie recipe to ensure the tastiest holiday feasts!

    Billionaire’s Shortbread

    Millionaire’s shortbread is thought to date back to nineteenth-century Scotland, but I’ve brought it into the twenty-first century by making it even richer. This traybake goes up a financial bracket with chocolate shortbread and a shimmer of edible gold.

    200g/6½ oz. dark/bittersweet chocolate (60–70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

    Edible gold lustre, to decorate (optional)

    Chocolate shortbread

    75g/⅓ cup caster/granulated sugar

    150g/1 stick plus 2 tablespoons soft butter

    125g/1 cup plain/all-purpose flour

    75g/⅔ cup rice flour

    25g/3½ tablespoons cocoa powder

    A pinch of salt

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Salted caramel

    125 g/1 stick butter

    75 g/⅓ cup light muscovado/brown sugar

    25 g/1½ tablespoons golden/light corn syrup

    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    1 heaped teaspoon salt

    379g/14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

    20-cm/8-in. loose-bottomed square cake pan, greased and lined with baking parchment

    Makes 16

    First make the chocolate shortbread. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Sift in the flours, cocoa and salt, and mix together with the vanilla until just combined. Do not overwork the dough or your shortbread will be tough. Press the dough into the base of the prepared baking pan with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Chill for 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) Gas 2.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 35–40 minutes, or until firm and dry to the touch. Leave to cool in the pan on top of a wire rack.

    Meanwhile, make the salted caramel. Put all the ingredients, except for the condensed milk, into a saucepan and stir continuously over a gentle heat until the butter has melted and the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the condensed milk and increase the heat, stirring frequently, and being careful not to let the base of the mixture catch. Bring to the boil, still stirring every now and then, until the mixture has thickened and turned a deep golden colour. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

    Pour the still-warm salted caramel over the cooled shortbread base and leave to cool completely.

    For the topping, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water to melt. Stir every now and then. Once melted, leave to cool slightly before pouring the chocolate over the cold caramel. Leave to cool completely before dusting the top with edible gold lustre, if using, and pushing the base of the pan out. Cut the billionaire’s shortbread into 16 even squares or alternatively, for larger portions, you can cut it into 8 bars.

    Deliciously Chocolatey by Victoria Glass is available here. For more tasty treats like this, make sure you're signed up to The Pantry, you can subscribe here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, chocolate, recipe for the weekend, Scotland, sweet, Victoria Glass, 2015

  • Posted on November 25, 2015

    It's beginning to look a lot like...

    We had our first mince pies of the season in the office last week, and ALL OF A SUDDEN we felt Christmassy. Just like that. And now it’s merely DAYS until December and we feel like it’s totally fine to start talking about Christmas. Hopefully you agree… You might remember last year we made a Pay-It-Forward Advent Calendar, which went down a treat in the office (except with the people whose envelope contained making a tea round for the whole sales floor!) You can watch our video tutorial for the project here, but we thought we’d share the instructions on the blog for you too. This is a lovely alternative to the commercial advent calendars and best of all, can be re-used year on year – we can’t wait to hang ours up again!

    Pay It Forward Advent Calendar

    We love a chocolate Advent calendar as much as the next person. But we were thinking, wouldn’t it be good to give something back in the days leading up to Christmas, instead of taking? You can make up your own list of actions. Think about simple gestures such as smiling or holding open a door for someone!


    Templates (download here)

    Pencil and pens

    Laminating sheets and laminator OR white card stock

    Glue stick


    Craft pegs or clothes pins

    Hot glue gun or strong glue

    Assorted scrapbook paper

    Assorted card stock

    Red ribbon, approx ¼ in (6mm) wide

    Single hole punch

    Baker’s twine

    1. Download the Advent Calendar Templates PDF and print it out.

    2. Photocopy the scallop shape template–you’ll need 25. Write the numbers 1–25 on each one and them laminate and cut out. If you are not going to laminate the numbers, you’ll need to glue them onto a thicker card stock and then cut them out.

    3. Ask an adult to help you use a hot glue gun to glue each number onto a craft peg or clothespin. Alternatively use strong glue.

    4. Cut out the envelope template. Use a glue stick to stick together pieces of scrapbook paper (we used Christmas themed paper) and colored card stock until you have enough sheets to cut out 25 envelope shapes.

    5. Type or write up a list of actions on white paper—stick to simple things that you will be able to achieve, such as “Give someone a hug” or “Bake someone some cookies”. Cut each one out and stick in the center of each envelope, on the card stock side. Fold each of the four flaps in.

    6. Use the hole punch to punch a hole on two of the facing round edges. Cut 25 pieces of ribbon, each 12in (30cm) long, thread through the two holes and tie into a bow.

    7. Take a long length of baker’s twine and use the number “clips” to attach the envelopes. Your Advent calendar is ready to hang up!

    This project is taken from Craft It Up Christmas Around the World by Libby Abadee and Cath Armstrong. Happy Craft-mas!

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, Videos and was tagged with christmas, homemade, handmade, summer holidays, Libby Abadee, cico kidz, craft it up

  • Posted on November 23, 2015

    Miranda's Turkey Tips!

    The centre-piece of most British and American Christmas and Thanksgiving tables, the Roast Turkey is a stalwart of our celebration food today but did you know that turkeys were first domesticated in Central and South America? In her latest book, Modern Meat Kitchen, Miranda Ballard shares the quintessential Roast Turkey recipe, with everything you’ll need to ensure a juicy roast. You can download our Roast Turkey recipe card, and make sure you’re subscribed to The Pantry as we’ll be sharing lots of recipes and ideas for all the trimmings in the coming weeks – you can subscribe here. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas will follow quickly after, so we chatted to Miranda to get her top Turkey tips on making the most of your roast!

    A Turkey Crown is a great option for a smaller gathering. The smallest free range whole turkey will still be over 4kg, enough for 8 people, so it’s a lot of leftovers for two or four people. However, it’s better value to order a whole turkey and remove the legs yourself – just follow the principles Miranda shows in her How to Portion a Chicken video over on The Pantry YouTube Channel. You could then pop the legs in the freezer to have roast turkey legs another time or debone and dice them to make a casserole or stir fry.

    You might have heard of brining a turkey - basically soaking it in a salted and seasoned tub of water overnight. A really well-farmed bird should never dry out, even with the most basic attention to roasting it, but if you want to really ensure that it’s as moist as you can possibly make it, brining is a good idea. Just find something big enough (some people use the sink - or bath!) and fill with water, two large handfuls of salt and then as much seasoning as you like - bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, garlic, juniper, black pepper, mustard seeds, cloves... You can add red wine or port too. Just chuck it all in, soak the turkey overnight and then shake dry before stuffing/roasting.

    The Bronze turkey has become very popular in the UK in the last 10 years. This is partly because of the increased awareness and value of free range farming. The traditional white turkey actually prefers to stay indoors, very rarely venturing out even if the barn doesn’t have side walls, whereas the bronze turkey likes to roam and explore and behave more ‘free range’. Just ask your turkey supplier - “did it eat what it wanted to eat and do what it wanted to do?”

    And if that wasn’t enough turkey for you, we recommend you give this a watch! If you gobble at a turkey, it’ll gobble back. We know you laughed too!

    Modern Meat Kitchen by Miranda Ballard is available here, and don't forget to sign up to The Pantry for more festive foodie ideas and recipes!

    This post was posted in Featured, Interviews, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with christmas, chicken, homemade, savoury, video, 2015

  • Posted on November 20, 2015

    Get Thanksgiving ready...

    Happy Friday! The Holiday Season is literally just around the corner, especially for our friends and colleagues across the pond! Next week is Thanksgiving and to celebrate we thought we’d share a recipe for a traditional Thanksgiving sweet treat. We are, of course, talking about Pumpkin Pie! This pie, from Sweetie Pie by Hannah Miles, is the perfect way to finish off a holiday feast and there’s plenty of time to get baking between now and next weekend. So whether you’re celebrating in full force, or just fancy something in solidarity with the US (and let’s face it, when it looks this good, who wouldn’t?!) make sure you try this for a very Happy Thanksgiving!

    Pumpkin marshmallow pie

    The filling for this pie has a beautiful orange colour and is the perfect treat to serve for Thanksgiving or at a Halloween party. Rich and creamy, and delicately spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla, this pie is great served with a large spoonful of clotted or whipped cream.


    280g/generous 2 cups plain/all-purpose flour

    A pinch of salt

    115g/1 stick butter, chilled

    OR 500 g/18 oz. ready-made shortcrust pastry

    Plain/all-purpose flour, for dusting


    250 g/9 oz. pumpkin purée (such as Libby’s)

    ½ teaspoon salt

    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

    ½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    1 teaspoon ground ginger

    A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

    2 tablespoons melted butter

    200 g/scant 1 cup cream cheese

    140 g/scant ¾ cup caster/granulated sugar

    3 eggs

    250 ml/generous 1 cup double/heavy cream


    Small and large white marshmallows

    23-cm/9-in. loose-bottom, round, fluted tart pan, greased baking beans

    Chef ’s blow torch

    Serves 10

    For the pastry, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl to remove any lumps, and add the salt. Cut the butter into small cubes using a knife. Dust your hands in a little flour, then, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour and salt, until it is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.

    Add 1–2 tablespoons cold water, and mix in with a round-bladed knife, adding a little more water if the mixture is too dry. Bring the dough together into a ball. It is important that you handle the pastry as little as possible for the best results.

    Wrap the pastry in clingfilm/plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

    On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the pastry thinly into a circle just larger than the size of your tart pan. Using the rolling pin to help lift it, carefully move the pastry into the pan and press it down so that it fits snugly. Trim away any excess pastry using a sharp knife, but leave some pastry hanging over the edge of the pan. This will be trimmed neatly after the tart is baked. Prick the base with a fork and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

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

    Line the pastry with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and bake blind for about 15–20 minutes in the preheated oven, until the pastry is lightly golden brown. Once cool enough to handle, remove the beans and parchment. Trim the top of the pastry case by sliding a sharp knife along the top of the pan. Turn the oven temperature down to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.

    For the filling, whisk together the pumpkin purée, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg, melted butter, cream cheese, sugar, eggs and cream using a mixer, until you have a smooth cream. Pour the filling into the pie crust and carefully transfer to the oven.

    Bake for 50–60 minutes until the custard is just set but still has a slight wobble in the centre. Let cool.

    Decorate the pie with marshmallows, then use a chef ’s blow torch to lightly toast the tops of the marshmallows. Serve immediately. The pie will keep for up to 3 days stored in the refrigerator, but only put the marshmallows on just before serving.

    Sweetie Pie by Hannah Miles is available here. We hope you have a lovely weekend!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with christmas, baking, event, Hannah Miles, halloween, recipe for the weekend, Thanksgiving, pie, sweet, pumpkin, 2015

  • Posted on November 18, 2015

    Festive Candles

    The festive season draws ever closer, and we’ve got a super simple Furniture Hacks project today to bring a touch of class to your party, whatever the occasion. Try making a few in jars of different sizes to make a pretty centre piece for your dinner party table, or if you’re going to brave the cold, there’s nothing prettier than a candlelit garden!

    Garden Candles

    The flickering flames of candles and tea lights give instant coziness—they bring atmosphere to your parties and look cute grouped together on a garden table. These mini storm lanterns are super easy to make—all you need is an empty glass food jar, a length of bendable wire, and some of your favorite beads.

    You will need

    Empty glass jars

    Metal wire, thin enough so you can bend it




    Tea lights

    Wash and dry the glass jars (you won’t need the lids).

    Cut a 40 in (1m) length of wire. Select some beads that have a hole large enough to thread onto the metal wire.

    Thread a selection of beads onto the wire, pushing them together in the middle of the wire to create the handle (alternatively, if you have one beautiful long bead, you can use this on its own to create a flat handle). Leave approximately 12 in (30cm) of blank wire on either side of the beads. Make a small twist in the wire below each end bead, to keep the beads in place.

    Wrap the wire tightly around the neck of the jar, then use pliers to hook the end of the wire back around the handle, wrapping it around the handle a couple of times. Do the same on the other side of the jar.

    Cut off the ends of the wire, leaving a tail of 1 in (2.5cm). Feed these short ends back through the beads in the handle to hide the sharp edges. You can’t do this on the jar with the single bead, so wrap the sharp ends under the rest of the wire. Pop a tea light inside the jar and your candle holder is ready.

    Tip When these lanterns are lit, I suggest bending the handle back a little otherwise the metal could become very hot if the flame is directly underneath.

    Furniture Hacks by Hester van Overbeek is available here. Make sure you're signed up to MAKE to get more festive projects straight into your inbox. You can sign up here.

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, handmade, quick, 2015, furniture hacks

  • Posted on November 13, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Happy Friday! To finish off our Diwali week blog posts, we’ve got a classic Masala Chai recipe. Masala Chai is the traditional accompaniment to Diwali snacks and sweets, such as the Pani Puri Pops we shared earlier this week. Speaking of which, have you entered our Vegan Street Food competition yet? One copy up for grabs so make sure you click here for instructions on how to enter. Head below to see how Jackie Kearney learned to love chai tea and find the recipe to make your own.

    Masala Chai

    Indian Spiced Tea

    I didn’t fall in love with masala chai (Indian spiced tea) the first time I drank it. I felt it went against my preferred British tea-drinking, which was builder’s black without sugar. I soon realized I would be forfeiting any tea-drinking while travelling if I didn’t at least try to like it. Everywhere we stopped across India and Sri Lanka, there was always a chai-wallah (chai is simply the name for tea and wallah is the seller). After a few months, I found myself hankering for this fragrant and sweet pick-me-up, especially after endless hours on the road. Being woken by the chai-wallah’s calls on the overnight train from Varanasi has long stuck in my memory, and my husband and I still call out to each other ‘chai-di-chai’ if we’re making a brew.

    6 tea bags

    Seeds of 4–5 green cardamom pods, to taste, crushed

    1 teaspoon fennel seeds

    1 large piece of cassia bark or cinnamon

    A pinch of ground black pepper

    2 cloves (optional)

    2-cm/1-in. piece of root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

    Sugar, as needed

    Soya/soy milk or cream, to serve (optional)

    Makes a pot of tea for 4–6 people

    Boil 300 ml/1¼ cups water in a small pan and add the tea bags. Toast the cardamom and fennel seeds in a separate dry pan over medium heat for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally. Finely grind the dry spices (cardamom and fennel seeds, cassia bark, black pepper and cloves, if using) in a spice blender or using a pestle and mortar.

    Add 2 teaspoons of ground spice mixture to the pan with slices of fresh ginger. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5–10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon sugar per person, then use a tea strainer to pour the tea into cups. You can add soya/soy milk or cream, for a more authentic creamy chai.

    Vegan Street Food by Jackie Kearney is available here. And don't forget to enter our competition!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with vegan, spices, tea, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, quick, sweet, 2015

  • Posted on November 11, 2015

    Colour for Diwali

    Happy Diwali! We launched our celebrations on Monday with a delicious puri recipe from Vegan Street Food, along with a giveaway; have you entered yet? And why not take a quiet moment during festivities with our Diwali colouring sheet, taken from our colouring book, Colour Yourself to Mindfulness. Click on the image below to open a printable PDF and get colouring – make sure you share your efforts with us on Twitter or Instagram!

    Colour Yourself to Mindfulness featuring artwork by Melissa Launay is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with event, mindfulness, quick, mind body spirit, 2015, colouring books

  • Posted on November 9, 2015

    Diwali Food

    Happy Monday! This week sees the Indian festival of Diwali, which like many religious festivals is often expressed through the medium of food. Sounds like our kind of festival. Friends and family gather together to prepare Diwali snacks – both sweet and savoury – and it’s common for people to visit one another with boxes of homemade snacks. One such snack might be ‘puris’, which as we discovered at last week’s Vegan Street Food supper club are totally delicious puffs filled with something tasty. Here’s Jackie Kearney’s recipe, and to celebrate Diwali we’re offering one lucky winner a copy of this wonderful book – just head to the bottom of the post to enter.

    Pani Puri Pops

    Chaat-filled puri shells with tamarind & pomegranate

    Pani puri are also known as golgappa. We first tasted them at the festival of Dussehra. Hundreds of Gods descend from the mountain villages with their statue-carrying, trumpet-blowing and drum-playing support cast – which seemed to be the entire population of the region. They arrived into the Kullu Valley and it looked like Glastonbury had come to India, with tents, food stalls and crowds everywhere. We ate many delicious snacks that day, but this dish captures the best of Indian street food – deep-fried semolina puffs (puri), stuffed with chaat (usually made with spiced potato and sprouted beans) and filled with tamarind. You can buy the puri shells, if you like, because this dish is really all about the filling.

    280 g/2 cups plain/all-purpose flour, plus extra to dust

    100 g/scant ⅔ cup semolina

    A large pinch of bicarbonate of soda/baking soda

    A large pinch of salt

    Sunflower or vegetable oil, for deep-frying


    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    200 ml/7 oz. tamarind pulp, or 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate/paste

    1 teaspoon dried mango powder (amchoor)

    ½ teaspoon salt

    3-cm/1-in. piece of root ginger

    1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, finely chopped


    150 g/5 oz. potatoes, peeled and diced into 5-mm/1⁄4-in. cubes

    200-g/7-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

    ½ red onion, finely chopped

    ¼ teaspoon chilli/chili powder

    ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

    A pinch of chaat powder

    Salt, to taste


    Sweet date chutney

    Daniya (coriander chutney)

    2 tablespoons sev (fried chickpea/gram noodles)

    Natural/plain soya/soy yogurt

    Pomegranate molasses

    Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves

    Fresh pomegranate seeds

    Serves 8–12

    Put the flour in a bowl and add the semolina, bicarbonate of soda/baking soda and salt. Add 400–600 ml/1¾ –2½  cups water, a little at a time, to make a stiff dough. Knead and then leave to rest for at least 15 minutes and preferably 30 minutes.

    On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the dough to about 3 mm/⅛ inch thick. Using a 4-cm/1½-in. cookie cutter, cut out about 24 small round puri discs.

    Heat the oil in a wok or large, heavy pan until hot but not smoking. Gently slide 3–4 puri into the wok, using a ladle to press down gently and make them puff up. Once puffed and crisp, remove using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Let cool.

    To make the tamarind sherbet, toast the cumin in a dry pan over medium heat for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally, to release the aroma. Put the toasted cumin in a bowl with the other sherbet ingredients and 125 ml/½ cup water. Using a stick blender, process until smooth. Add 400 ml/1¾ cups water, and blend again. Chill for 1 hour.

    Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in water to cover for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and mix with the remaining filling ingredients. Add salt to taste.

    Using a small sharp knife, crack a small hole in the centre of each puri. Fill with the potato filling, then add 1⁄4 teaspoon each of chutney and daniya. Pour in the tamarind sherbet (a squeezy bottle is useful for this). Top with sev, and drizzle with soya/soy yogurt and pomegranate molasses. Scatter over coriander/cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

    Vegan Street Food by Jackie Kearney is available here.

    The Competition

    Enter the competition here and we'll announce the lucky winner on Monday 16th November. Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    This post was posted in Competitions, Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with vegan, potato, homemade, chickpeas, savoury, event, spices, street food, vegetarian, snacks, 2015

  • Posted on November 6, 2015

    A November Brunch

    November arrived and almost straight away plunged us into grey soggy days stretching out interminably until March. Oh good. Fortunately, our new book Winter Cabin Cooking by Lizzie Kamenetzky is on hand to rescue us from the gloom and transport us to snow-capped mountains and cosy chalets with a super collection of fireside feasts and this lovely brunch is sure to set you up for a hard day's skiing...or you know, reading the papers...You’re welcome!


    Here is a fabulous Tyrolean fry-up that produces a ‘set you up for the day’ kind of breakfast. It works equally well as an energy-fuelling lunch or a comforting supper after a long, hard day.

    250 g/9 oz. Smoked bacon, chopped a little oil, to fry

    1 onion, thinly sliced

    500 g/1lb. 2oz. Potatoes, boiled and cut into pieces

    1 teaspoon caraway seeds

    1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika

    1 teaspoon smoked hot paprika

    4 eggs

    Freshly chopped parsley, to garnish

    Sea salt and ground black pepper

    SERVES 4

    Fry the bacon in a little oil in a frying pan/skillet until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, then add the onion to the pan and fry for 15 minutes until golden and softened. Remove the onion and add to the bacon.

    Add a little more oil to the pan and tip in the potatoes. Allow to cook, without moving, until golden brown underneath, then turn. Once golden all over, return the onion and bacon to the pan and add the caraway, paprika and plenty of seasoning. Fry together for a few minutes while you cook the eggs.

    Heat a layer of oil in a second frying pan/skillet and fry the eggs for 1–2 minutes until cooked to your liking.

    Serve the hash with the eggs on top and a scattering of parsley.

    Winter Cabin Cooking by Lizzie Kamenetsky is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with potato, savoury, brunch, recipe for the weekend, 2015, bacon, winter

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