Picnic pickings

In the sunshine there’s nothing I love more than packing a picnic and sitting outside – whether at the beach or in the park. It’s pure bliss. Sadly during the most recent warm weather I’ve been incredibly busy so haven’t had time to get my picnic hat on BUT that doesn’t mean I’ve not thought about it! For my ultimate afternoon of picnicking I would require the following:

  • Homemade coronation chicken and a crusty French stick. AKA the food of the gods. Somehow this simple dish is like food heaven for me.
  • Leftover sausages. Preferably Bombay Bangers from the butchers in my parents village. Exceptionally tasty, even Lau (recent sausage convert) would agree.
  • Quiche or some form of eggy pastry. Goats cheese and egg puff pastry parcels are equally as scrumptious as a Quiche Lorraine.
  • Mint jelly sandwiches. Accompanied by some form of meat obviously, chicken, lamb or beef I’m not fussy. The mint is the key item in here.
  • Pesto and mozzarella rice. Literally those three ingredients, although Mary Berry’s pesto dressing is preferable to a jar of pesto. Scrumptious.
  • Cake. No preference on which. Just some form of cakes loveliness please.

And finally this amazing picnic rug to laze on – who knew they did a hedgehog print! Oh how I love Anorak’s products.

hedgehog rug

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Kitchen loveliness

We’ve been in our rhubarb and custard kitchen for over three years now and it’s not really changed at all since we moved in. The fundamental bits and bobs are all the same, the only real difference is that we’ve got a new toaster – a shiny red one, not one of those cheap white plastic ones – and a few more homey items. Like our (my) Russian doll measuring cups and our super colourful Knickerbocker Glory glasses. Even though we don’t NEED anymore bits and bobbins in our kitchen – we have everything you could possibly need plus a few things you don’t (chalk and a lemon squeezer to name two things) – I still find myself browsing for things online. There are so many lovely bits and pieces around that I just know would make our kitchen an even lovelier place but I just can’t be flexing the credit card at the moment. So instead I’m adding them here, that way when I have a smidge more money I have a handy shopping list all in one place – genius you say!

Self-draining DishrackNeon bottle | Pastel Teapot | Spatula Set | London Chopping Board | Salad Servers |  Cake Tins | Chalkboard Labels | Glasses

Eton Mess – Summer is here

I’m going to start this post by explaining that my nickname when I was younger was ‘the strawberry queen’ because I could never get enough of strawberries – I still can’t in fact. I used to spend summer’s sitting in our garden’s strawberry patch devouring the fruits and I’m quite certain that no one else ever got a look in! So when I had to come up with a dish for our Guilty Pleasures evening I knew straight away that strawberries would have to be involved, but one problem: strawberries don’t make me feel guilty. Cream on the otherhand is another matter and suddenly I had the two main ingredients for my dish. And let’s be honest once you have cream and strawberries then Eton Mess is the only logical option.

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This recipe couldn’t be easier as I used shop bought meringues – I did think about making my own but timing was a factor and I was feeling lazy. So instead it was shop bought all the way. as for the method, here’s what I did with my three ingredients; meringues, whipping cream and strawberries.

  • halve the strawberries and crush the meringues – I used 2 punnets of strawberries (800g) and 4 meringues.
  • next use an electric whisk to whip the cream into peaks, be careful not to over whisk and split the cream. Once whisked fold the strawberries and meringue into the cream.

Voila you have yourself one super summery pudding.

Lau xxx

P.S. – Meringue is definitely something that I’m going to try making sometime soon, my dream is to be able to make those giant meringues with the swirls of chocolate and strawberry syrup running through it.

P. P.S – on a side note my nicknames now range from Lozzle, Lauraloo and Lozzleberry. I think I prefer the strawberry queen!

Oatmeal and Raisin Biscuits

Before I launch into the recipe for these biscuits I just need to tell you of my total obsession for oatmeal and raisin cookies. It all started back in 2007 when I was on my five month once-in-a-lifetime travelling trip around the world. When we were on our America leg there were Starbucks’ on every corner (and in every airport), as we had very little money left by that point we frequented them a lot (it’s super cheap and you can spend hours there). Once of my discoveries at Starbucks was their version of oatmeal and raisin cookies – they are literally amazing! In the space of six weeks I must have eaten about 50 of them. Ever since that time I’ve been trying to recreate them, as sadly the same version aren’t available in the UK – sad times indeed. I’ve not had much luck, although these cookies are scrumptious and yummy, they aren’t quite on a Starbucks level. But hey I still wolfed down four in one sitting, so they can’t be all that bad!!

Oatmeal and Raisin Biscuits

Oatmeal and Raisin Biscuits

The other great thing about these cookies is they are one of those amazing recipes that can be created in advance, then frozen and sliced up when you want them. So in theory you can make a roll and then just slice off two cookies at a time (yeah because that’s going to happen in reality isn’t it!?!?). Anyway the biscuits are from a Good Food recipe which you can find here, or you can just look below. To make these yummy morsels, you will need:

200g butter
200g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence
200g self-raising flour
140g oats
50g raisins

  • Simply whisk the butter and sugar together
  • Add the eggs and vanilla essence
  • Stir in the flour, oats and raisins
  • Layout a piece of clingfilm and pop the mixture in the middle
  • Then spread the mixture over the clingfilm so that you have a sausage shaped line of mixture
  • Wrap up the line of mixture and pop in the freezer
  • When you’re ready to bake the cookies, simply cut slices of biscuits (about 0.5cm deep) and pop on a baking sheet
  • Cook on 180⁰C for 15 minutes until golden brown

If you fancy chocolate chip or nutty biscuits, just add 50g of either ingredient instead of raisins. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!!

– Fi xx

Lemon and Lime Poppyseed Cake

Lemon and Lime Poppyseed Cake

I’m a big fan of lemon cake and it’s one of my main choices when I’m having cake out (FYI the lemon polenta cake at Carluccio’s is absolutely delicious and beautifully zesty), but considering my love for this type of cake I really don’t make it enough! This needs to be rectified asap and so we’re starting with this scrumptious recipe, which is from Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food cookbook. I made this cake a few weeks ago when we had a night with our lovely friends. The premise of the night was ‘Guilty Pleasures’ so we watched classic films like Jerry Maguire and Step Up and ate cheese, bread, pastry items, Eton Mess, Dutch Apple Cake, etc. My contribution to this amazing spread was Lorraine Pascal’s Lemon and Lime Poppy Seed Cake, which everyone needs to make in their life. It really is scrumptious, soft, zesty and refreshing. You can’t not love it I promise.

What you’ll need:
125g soft butter
150g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
150g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 lemon (finely grated)
1 lime (finely grated)
4 tbsp poppy seeds
50g icing sugar

  • Grease a loaf tin with butter and parchment paper
  • Whisk butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy
  • Add the vanilla essence and eggs and beat into the butter and icing mixture
  • Add the flour, baking powder, lemon and lime and mix
  • Stir the poppy seeds in to the cake mixture
  • Pour into the cake tin and pop in the oven.
  • Bake on 180⁰C for 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile make the icing by mixing a tbsp of lemon juice with the icing sugar until it’s a runny drizzly consistency. (ps. make sure you sift the icing sugar – very important or you’ll get lumps…)
  • Once the cake has cooled pour the icing mixture over the cake and EAT!

Enjoy – you’ll literally die over the moistness of this cake!

– Fi xx

A Jolly June Round Up

When I sat down to do a monthly update on what we’re we’ve eaten and what new things we’ve baked over the last month, I was a little shocked to see that we haven’t posted anything new this month. Oops. This reads like all we’ve done this week is eat jacket potatoes and cheese or takeaways, which is only half-true I promise! In fact this month has been fairly busy and has seen us out and about a lot so our eating out list is fairly epic. We’ve also been trying some new bits and bobs, which we’ll be posting about iminently, I promise. So the month of June looks a bit like the below in terms of foody fun!

  • London delights: Zizzi’s for lunch, Pizza Express for dinner (both have good GF menus don’t you know!), The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen for scrumptious steak sandwiches (read about a past visit here), Leon for their fabulous sharing dishes, a family farewell dinner at Carluccio’s – I could literally just live off their gnocchi, it’s that good. Lau also headed to the Udderbelly Beer Garden and Belugo’s at Waterloo and I made another pit stop to both Pizza Express for a ‘healthy’ pizza and also Giraffe. I think the stand out delight in our eating month had to be Del’Aziz in Clapham Old Town, the food, decor and atmosphere were all absolutely perfect!
  • Other UK hotspots: A picnic in the shadows of Bath Abbey, Dinner at the Hop Pole, a delightful country pub in Limpley Stoke, Sandwiches in Marlborough and pre-theatre sandwiches on The South Bank
  • Our own concoctions: Fish finger sandwiches (yes again!), more freshly baked bread, Morning rolls, Lemon and Lime Poppyseed cake (recipe to come), Eton Mess, a layered cake version of my peanut butter and chocolate chip cupcakes, raisin and oatmeal biscuits (again I will write this recipe up asap!) and yummy homemade popcorn with agave syrup – delicious!
  • New foodie discoveries: Having ignored them for years we’ve both fallen hard for iced coffees this month. I know this isn’t massively exciting BUT for two non-coffee drinkers up until December this is an amazing discovery. Since first tasting them on Saturday, we’ve consumed five between us….
  • Things that have outraged us this month: the discovery that our Aussie cousin thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to eat ice cream and hot custard together. Yes really. I mean what the hell is that about. I’m actually concerned that we are related.

Morning Rolls

A couple of weeks ago I was having a bit of an obsession with soup. I think it was because the weather was miserable, but all I fancied eating was something warm, filling and different. That’s the best thing about soup there are so many different flavour options. Anyway with my soup I wanted bread, bread to smother in butter and dunk into my leek and potato or country veg. I therefore decided to make some rolls that could go in the freezer, that way I could take a couple out in the morning and enjoy them warmed up in the evening with my soup. Now we all know that I like to make loaves of bread, but i’ve actually never made rolls. How is that possible you ask? Well put simply, I like what I know, so I do what I know. End of story. Anyways I scouted around for a roll recipe and found a Morning Rolls recipe in one of my favourite DK books.

I decided to keep the rolls quite small so that I could have a couple at a time, rather than one big one. The size was similar to a snooker ball and made 18 if that helps you work out what you want to do sizewise.

Ingredients –
500g white bread flour
2tsp light soft brown sugar
7g fast-action dried yeast
2tsp salt

Place all the ingredients in a bowl. Add 275ml of tepid water to form a soft dough.
Knead for 10 minutes, then place in a lightly oiled bowl and leave in a warm place to double in size – about 1 hour.
Turnout onto a floured surface and knead briefly. Divide and shape into equal shaped balls. Place these onto oiled baking trays and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
Place in a preheated oven (200C) for 20 minutes. They should be brown on top and sound hollow when tapped.
Once they were cooled I put most of them in the freezer for another day. When you do want them just defrost before warming in the oven.

Lau xx