April round up

Fi and I were having a bit of a chat the other day about this here blogalog and brainstorming ideas for the next set of posts. We always like to have a few things in the works ready to go so it helps to chat things over and get planning. You’ve probably noticed that Fi always ends up writing more things, it’s because she’s more organised (or I’m lazy) but I’m trying to improve myself here – hence the chattering and planning! Anyways we came upon the idea of a monthly round up of any food related shenanigans – eating out, new recipes, new shops discovered, that sort of thing. So welcome to the first in the series…

3 new recipes tried – Fruit smoothies, Red Velvet Cheesecake squares (coming soon), Chewy Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Cookies

3 doughs made – pizza dough, a seeded loaf and a plain white loaf

2 brunchesRiding House Cafe and Tom’s Kitchen at Somerset House

10 meals out – including Yo Sushi!, Zizzi’s, Leon and The Diner

5 new dining experiences – Tom’s Kitchen, The Seahorse, Cafe at The Medicine Garden, The Riding House Cafe and The Wolseley.

Okay so it looks like we’ve eaten out a lot this month – but I’m blaming that on our birthday fun as 7 of those meals out were part of birthday celebrations. Let’s hope May isn’t the same as I’m not completely sure my bank balance can handle it!

We also seem to be a bit low on the new recipes front, again I’m blaming that on the birthday too – any one else seeing a theme here? We do plan on getting these newly mentioned recipes written up and on the blog soon.

Lau xxx

Chewy Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter Cookies

A couple of weekends ago I fancied doing some baking but wanted to try something brand new, something that I’d never had or even considered before. After a bit of a browse through Pinterest I decided on these delicious looking chocolate and peanut butter biscuits from Tasty Kitchen, the combination sounded so delicious that I couldn’t not make them. Unbelievably I’ve never had a chocolate and peanut butter cake or biscuit before – crazy really considering my obsession with both food items when eaten separately. Anyway I followed the below recipe to the letter and they turned out tasting absolutely delicious. Perhaps they could have been a bit thicker, so they weren’t quite so chewy but I don’t think that did any harm as they were getting compliments left, right and center!

You will need:
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
3 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 pack milk chocolate chips

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  • Simply mix the peanut butter, sugar, baking powder, egg and cocoa powder in a bowl with an electric mixer – a Kitchen Aid would work far better than our hand-held one!!
  • Once all these ingredients are combined place the mixture in the fridge for an hour
  • Place balls of the mixture on a lined baking tray and flatten with the back of a wet spoon until about 1cm thick (we made about 20 biscuits)
  • Sprinkle with chocolate chips
  • Bake at 175°C for 8 minutes

I defy you not to love the biscuits, they are delicious and super chewy!

– Fi x

The Riding House Cafe

After last’s week’s post about the numerous brunch venues in contention to help us kick off our day of birthday fun it might surprise you that we did actually make a decision in the end. We even managed to get organised a few days before and actually book somewhere, this is a big change from the usual last minute scramble to find a table at any restaurant without a long queue!

We ended up deciding on The Riding House Cafe on Great Titchfield Street. Why did we decide on this one? Well firstly we thought we’d try something new, secondly this place had been recommended by a few people who work nearby and finally because I read a review about the decor and I was intrigued.

Well this restaurant did not disappoint in any respect. The menu was delicious, the decor fun and quirky and the service extremely efficient. Plus the toilets were great too. Yes I do judge a restaurant on it’s toilets and these matched the rest of the decor, in fact they’d even put a brass box around the hand dryer. Also there was the most delicious smelling hand soap and hand cream. Yes I might have spent a long time afterwards sniffing my hand just to get a whiff of the lavender goodness!

So to the most important question, what did we eat? Well you can check out the menu here. I chose the Rickshaw juice and the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Fi opted for the Eggs Benedict and a stabiliser juice. We also had coffee and tea too. Plus the wait staff were continually popping over to top up our glasses with ice cold tap water – I love that, it’s a small thing but it’s nice not having to ask for water every five minutes!

As for the decor there was lots of different seating options, round booths, fun bar stools, comfy velvet chairs and one really long table with a bank of old wooden football seats on either side – genius. Plus there were tap light fixtures for the kitsch lampshades and stuffed squirrels climbing the wood panelling on the walls.

We even managed to take a few pics of the food and things so feast your eyes on our trip to The Riding House Cafe below.

– Lau xxx

p.s. I am definitely going to be scheduling a visit again soon if anyone fancies it.

 

Deli excitement

It’s all very exciting for us right now, not only is the sun shining but we also finally visited the Portuguese deli near our flat. Now this deli isn’t new but we’ve both been trying to avoid it as we just know that it is going to be full of wonderful edible delights. Anyway, we were on our way back from buying some bits for lunch when we decided to pop in and explore.

Well, it was amazing, exactly what I was expecting and more. We didn’t buy much instead we settled for a general browse, as just as we’d imagined, it was full to the brim of all our foody favourites from holidays in Portugal.

So what did we buy? Well we clearly couldn’t resist purchasing some Sumol as we both love the orange version of this fizzy drink. Also in our basket was pâté. Yes, the delicious sardine pate that we literally cannot get enough of when we are away. This pâté is served with bread in restaurants as the table cover and our family will devour the stuff in a matter of minutes!

You could say that it was a very successful trip and suffice to say that trips to this deli are most likely to become a regular occurrence!

Lau xx

Birthday brunch plans

Exciting things are to come later this week. You see Friday will be our birthday – yippee! Yes Fi and I are (almost) another year older and wiser. One thing you need to know about me is that I LOVE my birthday, so much so in fact that I still count down the number of sleeps when it gets to within a month. Yes, I’m that cool!

Anyway this Friday we have both decided to take the day off and mooch around London. The plan is a lie in, followed by presents, then brunch, then a few hours wandering around museums – The Natural History Museum and The V & A (my personal favourite) before dinner, cocktails and hopefully a trip to the theatre – we’re going to do the whole tickets on the day thing so hopefully we’ll pick up a good show at bargainaous prices!

So my main priority right now is to decide on somewhere for brunch, somewhere either central (to get the theatre tickets) or close to the museums (South Kensington). Here are my options so far.

Le Pain Quotidian – This chain of Belgian cafes is one of Fi’s favourite places to go. We had a Mother’s Day brunch at the Covent Garden branch and I can attest to just how good the Eggs Benedict is. There’s also a branch in South Ken, so we could go to either.

V&A cafe – Apparently the first cafe inside a museum. This cafe is gorgeous – all glass chandeliers and delicious food, but it’s always busy and you can’t book. Maybe a place to stop off for tea and cake mid-afternoon instead.

The Riding House Cafe – A tip from a friend, the menu here looks amazing. They have everything; museli, pancakes, eggs. Possibly too much choice?

The Diner – Definitely a favourite for evenings, i’d love to go here for breakfast. Not only do they have all the usual American breakfast foods – pancakes and maple syrup with bacon, breakfast burrito and french toast, but there’s also the matter of the vanilla milkshakes with a shot of peanut butter – a perfect start for a birthday surely?!

The Breakfast Club – Yet another recommendation, there are a few of these throughout the city and all reviews are good. It’s certainly tempting. Although there’s no online menu which is a tad annoying.

Now to make a decision, wish me luck with that! Something tells me it’s not going to be that easy. Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. We will make sure we let you know what we decide.

Lau xxx

Homemade Lunches

Lately Lau and I have been trying to be sensible with money as our personal and joint credit card bills have been extortionate recently – not helped by the urgent plumber call out on December 28th or the boiler needing a service on December 15th! So anyway after multiple crazy expenses and a penchant for yummy food and frequent lazy takeaways we decided we need to sort ourselves out and curb our crazy food spending! A key part of this has been taking lunch to work with us – I know it sounds obvious. clearly that will help as you’ll save money and also eat better (always a bonus). But really when you work in central London and there is an Eat, three Pret’s, two Starbucks’, an Itsu, a Paul’s, and a Leon within 100m of your office, not to mention the brilliant, fairly cheap restaurant in the building, it’s very easy to be lazy and pick something up each lunchtime once you know what you fancy! So we’ve been being good and taking lunches every day for the last month  and so we thought it was high time we shared our yummy lunch ideas with you. As I think we can all agree it’s often hard to come up with interesting lunch ideas and as soon as you slip back into the cheese and ham sandwich rut you know you’re in trouble and that the Pret train will soon be boarded again!

Wraps – these are a revolution for lunches! Not only are they super easy and delicious they are really easy to transport in your bag to work – no heavy and cumbersome tupperware is needed which is always a bonus! We’ve taken to filling our wraps with a ton of salad and either half a tin of tuna, ham and cheese, prawns or cooked chicken. Really the world’s your oyster when it comes to wrap filling – anything goes. Strangely even peanut butter works, who’d have thought it!

Couscous – When you need a bit of substance in your lunch and you’ve run out of bread or wraps it’s all about reaching for the couscous. We always have couscous at home and it takes all of 10 minutes to make. Then we add salad, chicken, spinach, mushrooms, pepper, avocado, etc and you have a scrumptious lunch!

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Leftover pasta – One of my all time favourites as strangely I often seem to prefer cold day old pasta over freshly cooked stuff. I know I’m oddness personified! But in all seriousness when you’re making pasta for dinner just do extra and have it cold the next day, easy peasy!

-Fi x

Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns

Whilst watching TV last week I noticed the existence of chocolate and orange hot cross buns thanks to the lyrical tones of Matthew Macfayden on the latest M&S advert. Um what the hell, how was I not aware of this sooner?! That is just a revolutionary idea – chocolate orange hot cross buns – two of my favourite things in one bite. Amazing! So needless to say I knew I had to make them over the Easter weekend and I wasn’t disapointed. They were delicious and went down a storm with the family – it’s just a shame that they take quite so long to make!! Anyway if you fancy making them, the recipes below, which I borrowed from here. I left out the 50g of mixed peel as the family Evans hates peel, but if you want to include it just add it with the orange zest.

For the dough:
100ml milk
50g caster sugar
75g butter
450g plain white flour
25g cocoa powder
1tsp mixed spice
1tsp salt
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
7g fast action dried yeast
75g dark chocolate drops
1 egg, beaten

For the crosses and glaze:
50g strong plain white flour
1tbsp sunflower oil
2-3tbsp water
2tbsp orange juice
2tbsp caster sugar

Heat the milk in a saucepan over a low heat
Remove from the heat before the milk boils and stir in the sugar and butter, until dissolved
Add 100ml cold water to the milk mixture and leave to cool down until you can comfortably hold your finger in it for a few seconds
In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, mixed spice and salt and stir in the orange zest and yeast
Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mixture and beaten egg, mixing together until you have a sticky dough
Next add the chocolate drops, and knead on a floured surface for 8-10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic
Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour/until doubled in volume
Knock back the dough and knead for a couple of minutes, before dividing into 12 pieces and shape into buns
Place on greased baking sheets, cover with the tea towel and leave to rise again for 30 minutes until doubled in size
Meanwhile make the glaze by mixing the flour, oil and water together until smooth
Cut across each bun to make crosses and then fill the crosses with the glaze (the recipe says to pipe it but I found it easier to spread it with a knife)
Cook on 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6 for 15-18 minutes, until they are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom
Just before removing the buns from the oven heat the orange juice and sugar in a small pan and heat until the sugar dissolves
As soon as the buns are out of the oven, brush with the glaze and leave to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving

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