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Monthly Archives: June 2016
  • Posted on June 30, 2016

    Recipe for the Holiday Weekend!

    Looking forward to Fourth of July? It’s technically not until Monday, but celebrations are getting well underway in America this weekend and we’re getting a bit of a headstart with this utterly delicious recipe from Carol Hilker’s latest book, Breakfast for Dinner! You are welcome.

    Maine Lobster Omelette

    According to food lore, the omelette has been around since the 16th century. Since then, many variations have emerged, from the ham, green pepper and onion combination in a Denver omelette to khagineh, an Iranian version in which eggs are beaten with sugar. The lobster omelette is popular on the East coast of the US, and is especially decadent when served with truffle-hollandaise sauce.

    6 eggs

    170 g fresh lobster meat, chopped

    10 g unsalted butter

    sea salt and ground black pepper

    115 g tomatoes, chopped

    1 teaspoon chives, chopped

    Truffle hollandaise

    3 egg yolks

    60 ml water

    2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

    115 g cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

    1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt

    a pinch of freshly ground black pepper

    a pinch of paprika

    a drizzle of truffle oil

    1 chive, chopped, to garnish

    Serves 2

    Preheat an oven to 110°C (225°F) Gas 1⁄4.

    To make the truffle hollandaise, whisk the egg yolks, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan until blended. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles at the edges. Stir in the butter, a piece at a time, until it has melted and until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat immediately and stir in the salt, pepper, paprika and truffle oil. Transfer the sauce to a small pot, ready to serve.

    Whisk the eggs together, then separate the mixture into two bowls and set aside.

    Spread the lobster onto an oven-proof dish and place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes.

    Over medium heat, warm a medium to large non-stick frying pan/skillet and add half the butter. As the butter melts, season one portion of the eggs with salt and black pepper. Add this egg mixture to the heated frying pan and stir gently with a spatula.

    As the eggs start to set, add half the chopped lobster, half the tomatoes and half the chives to the eggs and stir gently. Stop stirring and allow them to form for 1–2 minutes. Fold the omelette and slide it out onto a warm plate. Place the plate in the oven to keep the omelette warm. Repeat the same process for the second omelette. Serve immediately with the truffle hollandaise on the side.

    Breakfast for Dinner by Carol Hilker is available here. Head over to Instagram to find more holiday weekend food inspiration. Happy July Fourth!




    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with fish, eggs, savoury, recipe for the weekend, 2016, lobster, seafood

  • Posted on June 23, 2016

    Recipe for the Weekend

    This week marked the official start of summer. Not that you’d be able to tell, thanks to our Very British Weather. But that needn’t get us down. Our new book Appetizers is full of recipes to kick start every meal this summer, whatever the occasion. The zingy kick of lime in this delicious squid dish will transport you to the sunniest climes with every bite!

    Salt And Pepper Squid With Lime Aioli

    These deliciously crispy squid pieces taste so good because they’re cooked in lots of oil, but get the oil hot enough and they will be surprisingly light, not at all greasy or heavy. Serve with a tangy lime aioli on the side for dipping.

    600 g/1¼ lb. squid, cleaned

    75 g/½ cup rice flour or cornflour/cornstarch

    1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice

    1 teaspoon sea salt

    1 teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper

    vegetable oil, for frying

    1 long red chilli/chile, deseeded and thinly sliced

    20 g/scant ½ cup chopped coriander/cilantro

    lime wedges, for squeezing

    Lime aioli

    2 very fresh egg yolks

    1 garlic clove, crushed

    2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

    250 ml/1 cup olive oil

    freshly squeezed juice and grated zest of 1 lime

    salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

    SERVES 4–6

    Begin by preparing the lime aioli. Put the egg yolks, garlic and mustard in a food processor and blitz to a paste. With the motor still running very slowly, add the oil in a slow, steady drizzle until it forms a thick sauce. Stir in the lime juice, zest and 2 tablespoons of water.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover and set in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

    To prepare the squid, cut down the ‘seam’ of the squid so it opens out flat. Pat dry with paper towels. Score the inside with a cross-hatch pattern then slice the squid lengthways into 2-cm/3⁄4-inch strips.

    Mix the rice flour or cornflour/cornstarch, Chinese five-spice, salt and pepper together in a shallow dish or plate. Toss all the squid pieces in the seasoned flour to coat and set aside.

    Pour vegetable oil into a frying pan/skillet or wok to a depth of about 2.5 cm/1 inch. Set over a high heat and bring to a smoking heat. Test whether it is hot enough to fry the squid by flicking some flour into the oil – it should sizzle vigorously.

    Shake off any excess flour from the squid strips and fry in the hot oil in batches for 2–3 minutes, until lightly golden brown.

    Remove the squid from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, while you cook the remaining strips in the same way. When all the squid is cooked, transfer to a large mixing bowl.

    Add the sliced chilli/chile and chopped coriander/cilantro and toss the squid to coat. Heap the squid onto a serving platter garnished with lime wedges and lime aioli on the side to dip into.

    Appetizers is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with fish, savoury, chilli, recipe for the weekend, quick, lime, 2016

  • Posted on June 20, 2016

    The Festival of Litha

    Despite the rather wet and dismal day, today (June 20) is the Summer Solstice, upon which the Wiccan festival of Litha is observed. Here we share some information about Litha from The Beginner’s Guide to Wicca by Kirsten Riddle, and a simple ritual you can follow to honor this point in the wheel of the year. If you would like to receive more news, advice, motivation and mantras from our Health, Mind, Body & Spirit books, make sure you subscribe to Mindful Living here. So, over to Kirsten…

    LITHA: June

    Celebrated over the longest day and the shortest night the summer solstice, Litha, marks a turning point in the wheel of the year. The goddess is pregnant and flourishing and the earth is bathed in light, but it’s all about to change: the return of the dark is imminent. The god, also known as the Oak King, is about to hand over the baton of power to his twin brother, the Holly King. This is the time of year to celebrate everything you’ve achieved so far, to embrace joy and to develop a sense of fun. The seasons are changing and winter is on its way, but this shift in balance is needed to keep the wheel turning.

    DEITY All sun goddesses, including the Norse Sunna and the Japanese Amaterasu

    ALTAR DECORATIONS Oak leaves, flowers (particularly sunflowers), bread, honey, yellow and orange candles

    HERBS All herbs

    COLORS Blue, green, orange, purple, red, yellow


    To honor the sun at the height of its power during this summer solstice celebration, rub a little sunflower oil into the wax of an orange or yellow candle. As you do this, think of all the things you’d like to manifest during the rest of the year. When you’re ready, light the candle and stand before it. Breathe in and, as you breathe out, imagine pouring your love into the flame, and see it rising up toward the sun. Say “I honor the strength and the power of the sun. I move forward giving thanks for all that is done. Upon this day, upon this hour, I embrace the might of the sun’s radiant power.” Let the candle burn down.

    The Beginner's Guide to Wicca by Kirsten Riddle is available here. You can also pre-order The Green Wiccan Herbal by Silja (published 14 July 2016) here.


    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK and was tagged with 2014, quick, nature, mind body spirit, wicca, Midsummer, summer

  • Posted on June 16, 2016

    Jam Tarts for National Picnic Week

    The weather doesn’t quite seem to have been on board with National Picnic Week but that doesn’t matter! A floor-picnic indoors can be just as fun and this recipe from Will Torrent’s Afternoon Tea at Home is a great addition to any picnic, rain or shine!

    Jam tarts

    One of the first things I learnt to make at school in Food Technology classes was jam tarts. I’ve used Breton pastry which is aerated so gives you a wonderfully light and rich texture and filled with them different homemade fillings; here, strawberry jam, marmalade and lemon curd – delightful.

    150 g butter, softened

    100 g caster sugar

    3 egg yolks

    200 g plain flour

    ½ teaspoon baking powder

    a pinch of salt

    zest of 1 lemon

    zest of 1 orange

    8 tablespoons good quality jams and curds of your choosing

    a 6–7-cm/2–3-inch fluted round cookie cutter

    2 x 12-hole muffin pans, greased

    Makes 24

    Combine the butter with the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until pale and light – this will take about 5 minutes.

    Gradually add the egg yolks one at a time and mix until they are thoroughly combined. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Add the salt and grated citrus zest and fold in using a rubber spatula or large metal spoon. The dough will be soft and buttery.

    Gather the dough together, form a ball and flatten into a disc. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours until firm.

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

    Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 2 mm/1 ⁄16 inch. Using the cutter, stamp out discs from the dough and gently press into the prepared muffin pans.

    Drop a teaspoonful of jam or curd into each tart and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 12 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the jam is bubbling.

    Leave to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely – the jam and curd needs to set before serving.

    Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent

    Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent is available here.




    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with baking, recipe for the weekend, quick, sweet, 2016

  • Posted on June 15, 2016

    Memory Jars for Fathers' Day

    Giving a homemade gift makes the experience extra special (not to mention a homemade card – try this one!) and with Fathers’ Day just around the corner, we’ve got a lovely project for children (of all ages!) to make for their dads. In Hester Van Overbeek’s latest book Crafting With Mason Jars she suggests this sweet way of displaying your favourite holiday snaps and memories, and we think it would be a lovely gift for Dad this weekend. Perhaps you have a little trinket that means something special to both of you? Or a memento of a trip you took together? Alternatively, find a lovely picture of you and your father, and fill the base of the jar with something that reminds you of him, such as the coffee beans Hester suggests. A super simple idea with endless possibilities!

    Memories In A Jar

    Instead of displaying your favorite snaps in photo frames, pop them in a jar! Did you go on a beach vacation? Take some sand, shells, or driftwood back home with you and place these in the bottom of the jar.

    Did you go on a city escape? Why not fill the base of the jar with coffee beans from your favorite espresso bar and pick up some small trinkets or save tickets to decorate the jar with.

    Crafting With Mason Jars by Hester van Overbeek is available here.



    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, handmade, gift, kids, quick, 2016, mason jars

  • Posted on June 13, 2016

    Win a bottle of Hepple Gin and The Curious Bartender's Gin Palace


    Hepple Gin  The Curious Bartender's Gin Palace



    Ripe, oily, juniper; pine and moss, fading to spice: cardamom and curry. Green citrus too. There's just a touch of blackcurrant there, but the juniper is the star of the show. No change on the palate: grippy, slightly tannic juniper hits in waves, leaping to the forefront off the flavour profile. It's supported by freshness from the lemon, but the green juniper notes power through, too. The finish is dry spice and an oily, resinous, but clean feel. Benchmark stuff. Good for anything you can throw at it, but accomplishing the most in a G&T.

    This post was posted in Competitions, News, UK and was tagged with drinks, Tristan Stephenson, gin, 2016

  • Posted on June 9, 2016

    World Gin Day

    Here at RPS and CICO Books towers we are very appreciative of gin so naturally we are very excited about Tristan Stephenson’s new book,  The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace. An ice cold G&T with a zingy garnish is pretty hard to beat in our books but sometimes the occasion calls for something a little fancier and if World Gin Day on Saturday 11 June isn’t such an occasion, we don’t know what is...We’ll be celebrating with a Clover Club and we think you should too! Check out the video of Tristan making the drink at his bar, the Worship Street Whistling Shop, and then shake up your new favourite cocktail using the recipe below. Cheers!

    Clover Club


    250 g/ 2 cups fresh raspberries

    2 g/ 1/16 oz. salt

    250 g/ 1¼ cups caster/superfine sugar

    250 ml/1 cup water

    Toss the raspberries in the salt and sugar then place in a 1-litre (35-fl. oz.) mason jar (you can also use a zip-lock bag) and pop it in the fridge overnight. In the morning add the water to the jar. Using a temperature probe, bring a saucepan of water up to 50°C (122°F) and turn the temperature right down so that it holds there. Pop the mason jar in the water and leave it for 2 hours, giving it the occasional wiggle. When the 2 hours are up, carefully remove the jar then strain the contents through a sieve/strainer. You may need to strain a second time using muslin/cheesecloth. To prolong the lifespan of your syrup it’s often useful to add a splash of gin or vodka. Store in the fridge for up to 1 month.


    40 ml/1 ½ fl. oz. gin (Darnley’s view or any gin with a spicy kick)

    15 ml/ ½ fl. oz lemon juice

    15 ml/ ½ fl. oz raspberry syrup

    15 ml/ ½ fl. oz martini extra dry vermouth

    15 g/ ½ oz. egg white

    Shake all the ingredients with ice then strain into a separate mixing glass or shaker and shake again with no ice. This ‘dry shake’ has the effect of whipping air into the cocktail. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and drink it quickly. You can leave the egg white out if you prefer, but it adds a lovely sherbet effect to the palate.­­

    The Curious Bartender's Gin Palace by Tristan Stephenson is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with drinks, event, recipe for the weekend, Tristan Stephenson, video, quick, gin, world gin day, 2016, The Curious Bartender

  • Posted on June 5, 2016

    Into the woods for World Environment Day

    When access to screens and technology is so easy for adults and children alike, it’s important to encourage engagement with the world around us, and never more so than on World Environment Day. That’s where Fiona Bird’s brilliant (if we do say so ourselves…) new book comes in; Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside is jam-packed with ideas for fun activities and creative ideas for helping children discover the great outdoors. It’s very easy too – in this section, Fiona suggests some ways to enjoy time spent amongst trees and woodland. So, in honour of World Environment Day, switch off that screen, head outdoors, and have some fun outside!

    Into the Woods

    Woods are among the finest natural places to play or find a secret thinking spot. On sunny days, the light flickers and dances through the trees and the leaf canopy is there to protect you if it rains. Sometimes you may not even notice that it’s raining. You can explore or play hide-and-seek or tree tag. If you look up, you can spy on squirrels scampering through the trees, while if you look down you can see carpets of winter snowdrops or spring bluebells and white wood sorrel. If you’re hungry, you can search for tiny snacks that change with the season—summer brings bilberries and woodland strawberries, while with careful I.D. in the fall (autumn), you can go on a mushroom foray. You might also like to build a woodland den, create a miniature house or garden, go on a woodland bug hunt, or simply play a game of conkers.

    What Is A Tree?

    Stand beneath a tree and look up. You’ll see an amazing spreading crown of branches and leaves that provides shade for the roots. The branches support the leaves and give the tree its distinctive shape. Tree trunks have evolved to allow trees to tower high above smaller plants so that their leaves can harness energy from the sun to make food, a process known as photosynthesis. The underground root system is big because it has to support the tree and also collect water and nutrients from the soil. Root and trunk sizes vary between tree species. As a tree grows, so does its trunk, and this causes the bark to expand. This expansion cracks the bark and helps us to identify different species, as well as young and old trees.

    Go on a Leaf Hunt

    When exploring the woods, see how many different leaves you can spot. Here are some tips for identifying the leaves you’ve found:

    Touch a leaf and feel its texture—is it glossy, rough, smooth, hairy, or downy?

    In season, the flowers and fruits (or nuts, which are fruits in a hard case) will also help you to name the tree.

    Have a go at BioBlitzing; perhaps you could count the number of tree species in a given area. Blitzing sounds a little destructive—which naturalists aren’t. Remember to only leave behind your own footprints.

    A pocket tree guide or phone app will help confirm a tree’s I.D.

    Finding needles in the woods

    Telling pines, firs, and spruces apart is all about I.D., which takes practice. Here are some helpful needle facts:

    Pine trees have bundles of needles in twos to fives. The size may vary, but if a tree has a pack of needles (more than one needle), then it is a pine tree. Spruce and fir needles don’t grow in bundles.

    Check out the needle—if it has sides, rather than being round or flat, then it’s a spruce. A fir needle is flat and won’t roll.

    Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside by Fiona Bird is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with school holidays, cico kidz, kids, nature, activities for kids, 2016

  • Posted on June 3, 2016

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Yesterday was the Festa della Repubblica in Italy and we don’t know about you, but after the dreary week we’ve had here in London, we’re just about ready for some Italian comfort food. So we turned to Laura Santtini’s At Home with Umami and her take on a classic Carbonara. Just how good does this look?!


    There is nothing more mellow and comforting than a bowl of creamy, umami-packed pasta, served with a glass of chilled white wine. It makes having a bad day almost worthwhile… Carbonara’s dreamy, creamy combination of Parmesan and pancetta is a worldwide favourite. This recipe serves 4 and makes enough to coat 400 g/14 oz. spaghetti.

    3 tablespoons olive oil

    150 g/5½ oz. pancetta or bacon, cut into strips

    4 fresh egg yolks (use only very fresh eggs)

    splash of double/heavy cream (optional)

    4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    freshly ground black pepper

    1 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

    Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the pancetta or bacon and fry until it is browned but not too crisp. Set aside.

    Place the egg yolks, cream (if using) and cheese in a large serving bowl and a generous grinding of black pepper.

    Mix well with a fork.

    Drain your pasta and add immediately to the cheese and egg mixture. Add the pancetta or bacon and parsley, and toss well until all is well mixed and creamy.

    At Home With Umami by Laura Santtini is available here. If you’re after some Italian sunshine food, make sure you check out this delicious crab salad from Ursula Ferrigno’s Flavours of Sicily.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK and was tagged with savoury, italian, recipe for the weekend, cheese, quick, pasta, 2015, umami

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