Thursday, 20 December 2012

Who would be your dream dinner party guests?



There's a couple of things I really like;  Bears (big cuddly ones) and Ikea.  Oh and entertaining my friends.  So as you can imagine, when I saw Ikea's new advert, I fell in love!

Besides the awesome kitchen, I would really like a big grizzly bear to help me in my kitchen.  Can you imagine all the honey you'd eat - I LOVE honey!

I love all the toys around the table too - which reminded me of that fun question that you sometimes get asked at dinner parties - Who would be your dream dinner party guests be?  You know, like Winston Churchill, that kind of thing.

So it got me thinking.  Who WOULD my dream dinner party guests be?

Rick Stein - because he was the first TV chef that got me into cooking and, as I LOVE seafood, he'd be great to have around my table!

Winston Churchill - ok, yes he's a bit of an obvious one.  I admire the way he took everything in his stride and just got on with a very difficult job at a very difficult time. He didn't care what anyone thought, he just got sh*t done.  I think that was the key to his success.  He was also a very keen artist (like me) so I think we'd get on well.

My lovely blog friends from around the world;  Cathy, Shelly and Michelle - the ladies that inspire me everyday with food, creativity and optimism.  Thank you ladies!

Bill Grainger - another cool, laid back Aussie chef.  Who taught me that you don't have to be poncey to be a chef.  There is perfection in simplicity.  And no, your average Joe does NOT know what a bain marie is and does NOT care.

Sir Patrick Moore - Who very sadly passed away this week.  An extraordinary man who inspired me to see the stars and learn about the solar system when I was 8 years old.  I got given a book on astronomy one Christmas and read that book from cover to cover.  Yes, Saturn is a big ball of gas ;)  (Yes, I am a geek.)

My amazing friends back in Australia.  Last Christmas I spent it with them and had the most amazing day.  This Christmas I hope to be able to Skype them and share it with them a tiny bit, even if I'm not there in person this year.

Who would your dinner party guests be?

Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas shopping


As my kitchen at home is still in a state of repair (it's a long story!) I've been doing a bit of Christmas shopping.  Here are some lovely things I found in Next of all places - they've got a rather good christmas gift section for foodies, so I made sure I took some photos for Santa!

How cute is my new pal Jeremy the Reindeer?  Jeremy was given to me by my good friend and yoga teacher Sandra for our Secret Santa this year.  I named him Jeremy and I'm now on the look out for a little yoga mat for him so he can join our Yoga class.  Jeremy is a shower sponge actually from The Body Shop, and they have some awesome gifts this Christmas.  And I LOVE their body butters too, have you tried them?

So how is your Christmas shopping going?  I hope you're all having a healthy and happy December!
Cute and cosy cushion from Next.com

Friday, 7 December 2012

December!

First of all it's December.  Which means that I'm not too fussed about healthy eating this month.  Weyhey!  Yep, December, for me is all about having fun with food and friends.  The gym will still be there in January ;)

There's a blog I really like called Joy the Baker.  Have you heard of Joy?  She's cool.   I've been reading her foodie baking blog for some time now and during that time I've seen her brand, her writing and her baking evolve into this really awesome blog.  I love her style - she's easy-going, not too perfect and just a real down-to-earth kind of a girl who you want to invite around for girly chats, tea and cookies.  I want to share a post she did recently with this Orange Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting which sings with the sweetness of a cold winter night.

Talking of joy, I had a whole lot of fun making sugar cookies recently.  I made a whole batch with festive shapes and icing - you could even make some to hang on the Christmas Tree as decorations.  I found this video from The Joy of Baking website ...yes it's a bit old-skool, but it's a great tutorial which is why I'm sharing it with y'all.  And maybe you can have a giggle (like I did) about the pig in the background on the counter... did you spot it?  So random.  Anyway, bake some cookies with your kids, friends, family and get creative!





Sugar Cookies...

Ingredients

390 g all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

225 g unsalted butter, room temperature

200 g granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:

2 large egg whites

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

330 g icing sugar

Watch the video above for the method!

What is everyone doing for Christmas? I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of Christmas and I will miss my friends in Australia this year.  But one thing I am looking forward to is turkey with cranberry sauce on Christmas day. And some nice crispy roast potatoes.  How DO you get potatoes THAT crispy?  Well, here's the way I do them.  Well actually, no I'm lying, this is the way a rather handsome young british chap makes them...  Focus on the roast potatoes ladies ;)


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Wintery Warmers

Things I like this time of year...

Hot drinks.  Sitting by a fire with a hot drink, snuggled in a blanket.  This cup sleeve can be found here.



Wearing my long wooly socks.  Who cares about fashion, I'm warm.



The 'day scarf' :  wearing a scarf all day... and night... and almost forgetting to take it off when showering. I love this lambswool snood (a snood is a 'scarf' crossed with a 'hood'  hence 'snood'.)

Fingerless gloves that enable you to still use an iPhone.  I always wondered what the point of fingerless gloves were and now I know.

Exercising.  Exercising this time of year keeps you warm and healthy throughout the winter months. Exercise builds muscle and muscle keeps you warm.  Exercise also boots your immune system, especially when you exercise outside and get lots of lovely oxygen in your lungs.  Muscle also burns fat, even when your doing nothing (yes, really).  So all-in-all exercise is great this time of year, not only to keep you warm, fend of colds and flu, but also to be burning away those 'puddings with ice cream' calories!  

I recently met a wonderfully inspiring lady and personal trainer from Cheltenham who's going to get you all fit for Christmas and the new year - yes you can be a size 8 and fit into that slinky Christmas party dress with Laura's unique weight loss system.

Post (REAL post, not email). Receiving mail from friends and family all over the world reminds me how lucky I am to have these people in my life and that no matter how big the world is, everyone is always within reach.  Sending someone post in the mail is such a great thing - SO much cooler than email (yawn)  I love receiving mail (just so long as it's not a bill payment that's due - that's not as pleasurable)!  I'm sending my amazing friends in Australia some post because I can't send myself there this Christmas to be with them.  But maybe next year :)

I recently received a lovely package in the mail from the talented lady behind inkpaintpaper who makes beautiful greetings cards and gifts.  I'm so proud to be sending her cards to my friends this Christmas.  Have you written your cards yet?



Daydreaming.  I like daydreaming with cup of green tea and a nice view.  Most of my daydreams at the moment are about having my own kitchen with a nice big table that I can put big platters of food on and feed all my friends!  ...And maybe a place where I can teach people to cook too, that would be nice.  A bit like this one...it had to be from Sweden, right?

http://www.stadshem.se/inspireras-kok.html


But dreams aren't just dreams you know, if you really want something, dreams can come true.  So think about all the lovely things you want to happen in 2013 and start on making them come true now.  Where ever you are, just starting is the best step and, who know's what you'll have achieved by this time next year.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Things to do...

Could somebody please tell me where November has gone?  I turn my back for 2 moments and woooooosh, it's almost December.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends across the pond!  Cathy, Shelly and Michelle especially! :)

So, before December does the same thing, I need to get organised and get some things ticked off my to-do list.

But just before I did 'the list' I spent a little 'time' on Pinterest (you all know how you can loose a whole hour on Pinterest, right?) and came across these Apple Crisps from A little red house blog you can make in the oven!  I'm going to try these, 1) because they look fun, 2) because they are a super healthy snackage, and 3) because my new local and lovely Whole Foods Market in Cheltenham has the most amazing produce section where they sell local apples and pears.  Yum yummedy yum.

Secondly, as Christmas is fast approaching I need to get my Crimbo cards organised.  Especially as a lot of my friends live in Australia.  These ones are designed by my friend Gabriella Buckingham at InkPaperPaint and she also blogs here.  She's created her own beautiful line of cards and stationery and you can get your hands on them over on her online store.  I just love the colours, don't you?  Send them to your friends this Christmas - everybody loves receiving mail, it's personal, bespoke and heaps more special than email!

Rain!  It's raining heavy here as I write this blog post.  I need to go to the supermarket to get some food in my fridge but the rain is really lashing down outside and it's not motivating me one bit.  Perhaps I'd be more excited if I had these awesome shiny new wellingtons with bobbles to walk there!  These are from Accessorize UK and I think you'll agree, they are so kitch they're classy!

I think I forgot to tell you all that I had a new job, and the best thing is that I get to drink all the Teapigs tea I want (it's good for focus and brain-power!).  Yes, I am that lucky that my workplace sells Teapigs green tea.  I must buy some for my own tea cupboard at home before I forget!

Keep warm, stay dry and I'll be back soon to share some more goodies with you all.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Autumn colours... and this time last year

I realised when I uploaded these photos from my Instagram that all the colours were very 'Autumny'.  It wasn't intentional.  I think that's just the 'colour' this time of year has become.

So this is what I've mostly been up to.  Lots of soup making, lots of pumpkin pie trialling (I have been trying to make a gluten free crust that works... the filling works, but the crust is still not quite there... needs more work.)

I've also been cranking up my yoga routine and made these Bruschetta Toasts for my friends and family with some fresher than fresh baguette from the brand new Whole Foods Market Cheltenham that opened its awesome doors this week.  The bread is baked from scratch every day and it's the best bread you'll ever taste (well that's what my Dad said!) Haven't you been yet? Come on! Where have you been?  :)

So that's what I've been up to this month; as well as trying to keep warm (I bought some amazingly warm Merino wool tights from M&S that have been keeping me snug), eating soup (my favourite is my simple roasted butternut and red pepper with miso) and drinking lots of Teapigs Green Tea (which I love).

This time last year I was in Perth in Western Australia and it was hot.  Damn hot.  I remember walking to work at 7am in the morning and it was hot.  I had the unfortunate uniform of 'all black' which required me to wear black leggings and a black top - both of which sizzled in the heat.  Just walking 3 minutes from the train station to my workplace my leggings could have fried an egg on them.  I remember looking at the weather App on my phone seeing what the weather for the next day would be and my heart sinking when it was going to be 'hotter'.  In contrast, this year I'm looking at my weather App and my heart is sinking when I see the night time temperature teetering on 1 degree.  1 degree?  I'm going to need another pair of tights!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Kitchen Crushes.... it's back!

So it's November everyone!  Which means that it's really not long now until Christmas.

...I know, I know, you don't want to be reminded yet that Santa's fuelling up the reindeer ready to roll, but c'mon - there's so many cool things you can do with food around this time of year and baking cookies is a great place to start!

Take these 3D Nativity Cookies for example.  How cool are these?  There's some more cool cookie ideas here too.  And cookies are a great idea for economic gifts - everyone loves a cookie, after all!

Still stuck for Christmas present ideas?  I love this idea of making this christmas gift for my cook-fan friends - just buy an oven glove and fill it with kitchen goodies.  Fantastic.

I have a huge crush on this kitchen right now.  Credit to the awesome blog SFGirlByBay where I found it and fell in love. I could be sitting here writing a recipe, sipping on some green tea and listening to some Ben Howard while the wintery sunshine floods into my kitchen which is filled with Christmas cookies baking in the oven... wafting of cinnamon.

....Ahh, it's only a day dream ;)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Forks over Knives.... have you seen it yet?

Hey everyone!  I just wanted to share this movie trailer with you of the latest film Forks Over Knives.  Hollywood director James Cameron (the dude who directed the Titanic film) praised the film and has said it is what inspired him to follow a plant based diet and change his lifestyle.

...The film basically documents how the food industry is spoiling all our healthy fun.  Just watching the trailer will make you want to change your lifestyle and think hard about what you put in you and your family's mouths today.

Read more about it here and the shocking facts revealed > Forks Over Knives.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A new season!

Pulling on my boots last night and an extra pair of socks marked the end of British Summertime and reminded me that Autumn is really here.  Feeling all 'wintery', I visited one of my favourite country pubs, The Green Dragon in Cowley, Gloucestershire, with my bestie-mate Sarah and sat by this gorgeous open fire. We ate fresh fish, drank hot chocolate and gossiped like pros.  Perfect evening, don't you think?!

Open fire at the Green Dragon in Cowley Gloucestershire.  No dragons allowed.
After a bit of a busy few weeks, this weekend I got back down to business,  put on my oven gloves and had a bit of a bake off.  The first of which was a recipe from my famous recipe swap with Vegetarian Ventures supremo, Shelly!

This recipe was a great treat to use up the last of the summer seasonal fruits.  Full of blueberries, peaches, vanilla and buttermilk - so moist and flavoursome, there was something very magic about it indeed.

I adapted it slightly to be Gluten Free, which was so easy do and worked wonderfully. You can also adapt the cake to be Vegan friendly too, just like Shelly did - use Almond Milk and a vegan butter like Earth Balance.  It also didn't contain any egg, again making it great for vegan diets.

I won't keep you waiting any longer - here's the recipe and I beg you to make this cake for yourselves and enjoy it just like we did today.  Grab those blueberries and peaches while they're still ripe!

Ingredients


1 cup (236 ml) milk
one lemon
2 cups (250 grams) Doves Gluten Free Plain Flour (or use regular flour if you're ok with Gluten)
1/3 cup (71 grams) caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Gluten free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground all spice (or you could use 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
about 1 1/2 cups of any summer fruit or berries, chopped if whole (I used two nectarines)
1/4 cup brown sugar (for sprinkling on the top to create the crusty bit!)
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chopped peaches

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Line and grease a square pan and set aside.

- Put the lemon zest and half the lemon juice into a bowl. Then add the milk. Stir briefly and set aside. (This makes buttermilk!  Yes, really, it's amazing. No buttermilk. No problem :)

- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, ground all spice, baking soda, and a pinch of the lemon zest. Whisk briefly to combine. Add the butter to the flour, toss each piece so that it is coated, rub together in your hands and get a 'crumble' sort of mixture going.

- Add the fruit to the flour mixture and toss to combine so each piece is coated. Stir the vanilla into the milk mixture then quickly add the liquid to the flour/fruit mixture (through a sift to catch the lemon zest bits).

- Stir but do not overmix!  Just combine.  Leave it.  Don't be tempted to mix anymore. Step away from the batter and put the spoon down!

- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

- Sprinkle well with the brown sugar sugar.

- Bake for 30 minutes. Or until the top has gone into a golden sparkly crust and a skewer or knife comes out clean.

Try not to eat the whole thing when it comes out of the oven. Willpower.  Willpower.   And I got to eat lots of it because it's GLUTEN FREAKIN' FREE!

Check out more of Shelly's awesome mid-west inspired vegetarian and vegan dishes and deserts over at Vegetarian Ventures.



Thursday, 11 October 2012

Kitchen Thinking...

Hey food fans, sorry there's been a bit of silence from the blog these past few weeks! I've missed you all, but rest assured that I haven't been far and I've busy been doing lots of exciting things behind the scenes.

I recently had the pleasure in visiting Barnwood Park Arts School in Gloucester to demonstrate some delicious, simple gluten free dishes for their year 11s.

...Then I visited Adrian Malpass on his Saturday Sunshine show on Winchcombe Community Radio together with Rachel Browne from the delicious company Relish the Taste.  We had a great morning chatting about all the amazing food produced in Gloucestershire and hoped to have tantalised the tastebuds of listeners for a few hours.

And last but not least, I had a wonderful day filming the new M&S promo for their Simply Food Range where I got to bake a delicious Lemon and Poppyseed Drizzle Loaf Cake - which cast and crew devoured in seconds :)  Yum.

Photos of all these events will be posted on the blog soon, just as soon as I catch up with all the other exciting new things planned for Dishes Undressed.  I can't wait to share them with you.

In the meantime here's some very cool kitchen ideas I stumbled open on Pinterest.  Enjoy!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Kitchen Crushes 11.0

Skandinavian design wins it again.  This amazing home in stockholm is via skandia maklärna - A beautifully designed home and kitchen - I want to live here, don't you?

I'm always coveting Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes from his amazing book Plenty. And here's just another delicious Thai fusion Vegetarian and Gluten Free dish to inspire your tastebuds.  Soba Noodles with Mango and Aubergene.

This week I was dreaming that I was back here when I saw this photograph.  This is the Bay of Islands in the North Island of New Zealand.  The town below is Paihia, and it's beautiful. I visited here in 2009 and wanted to stay forever.  We caught Snapper fish on a fishing trip, took it back to the shore and the baked it on the BBQ fresh and simply with garlic and lemon and some freshly cracked pepper.  When something's as fresh as that, there's no need to add anything else.  Perfect.

I visited Bath last weekend with my Mother and we visited the new Cafe in their newly rennovated Waitrose.  Look at the cups!  Aren't they cute.  That's my Green Tea right there and Mum and I shared some toasties.   Perfect after an exhausting morning shopping!

Have a great weekend everybody!


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Chicago Style Hot Dogs


Get your tools ready

Sometimes I get the urge to travel (I get this urge about every 20 seconds or so during the day).  It’s something I caught long ago when I went travelling and, those who have travelled, will know what I’m getting at here.  Apparently, it’s called the travel-bug.

Anyway, travelling, apart from seeing nice places and meeting nice people, it also introduces you to lots of new, tasty food and drink. 

I’ve never been to Chicago, but my new found Blogger friend and recipe swap guru, Shelly from the blog Vegetarian Ventures lives very near to Chicago and in our latest recipe swap-shop she has encouraged me to give a traditional Chicago style hot dog a go. 

As you can imagine, my arm didn’t need much twisting.  I’d had a hot dog in New York when I visited there and it was really something special – so at the idea of making some Chicago style ones, my tastebuds were jumping up and down and doing a disco dance.

Apart from being absolutely scrumptious, they were so fun to make!  (A great idea to make with kids).  The pickled cornichons (a bit like a gherkin) were very tasty too (and a new discovery for me) and those, mixed with the mustard mayo, the burger relish, tomatos, celery stalks, onion.  Wow…. You’ve got to try them to see exactly what I mean.

Ingredients

Hot dog / finger rolls
Cornichons (pickled in jar)
Tomato and Pepper relish (I used Bransons)
Mustard Mayo (I used Bransons)
A few slices of onion (I used red onion)
A few slices of tomato.
A few sprigs of celery leaves (do you always discard the leaves? Don’t, they’re great to eat!)
A small grating of white cabbage (don’t worry if you don’t have this, it was an added extra I had!)
Hot dog sausages; whatever you like, Pork, Chicken or Beef.  I used some vegetarian Tofu style ones which were delicious!
Cooking spray or vegetable oil

Method 

- Heat up the sausages how you like them cooked – boil in water, BBQ, heat over a frying pan – the choice is your’s.

- Cut open the finger rolls and lightly spray or brush with oil.

- Open-side face down, press the roll into the griddle pan or BBQ and toast up the inside.

- Then place the hot dog inside.

- Squirt with the mustard

- Spread one side of the roll with Burger relish

- Line up some of the sliced tomatos on top

- On the bottom side of the roll, line up some sliced Cornichons.

- Sprinkle some of the white cabbage and celery stalks on top.

- Then lay on some of the onion.

- Give a final squirt of mustard mayo.

- Grab it with both hands, and enjoy a tasty Chicago style hot dog! 

Try it and imagine you’ve taken a trip to Chicago for the weekend and have just grabbed a traditional hot dog from a street vendor.  Yum.

Thanks again Shelly!  Check out the dish she made from my recipe swap earlier in the week - it looks incredible, you have to try it this autumn/fall.



Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A whole lot of anticipation for Wholefoods...

The new store will look similar to the London Piccadilly Wholefoods...

Whole Foods Market, the natural and organic grocery store, will open its first store outside of London in Cheltenham in November 2012.

I’m so excited, I’m making my shopping list already...avocados, mangos, quinoa, sushi, cupcakes, tofu, veggie juice, roasted fresh chicken....(I think I’m more excited than I was about the Spice Girls performing at the closing Olympic Ceremony actually, and that takes some beating).

Situated on the Gallagher Retail Park on the Tewkesbury Road, the new store will be a food and beauty store that redefines what you would think of as a supermarket.

The way I describe a Wholefoods store to people who haven’t experienced one is that it’s like Disneyland for food lovers. 

I love that the new store will be a place for parents and children to hang-out and learn all about how to lead a healthy lifestyle, learn some new cookery skills and take home some great local food.  Outside, parents can chat over coffee (weather permitting in the UK!) and inside; breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served up by Wholefoods chefs, demonstrating new food ideas in the demo kitchen.  

I’ll be taking my best friend (who has recently given birth to two amazing twins) because organic food brands such as Ella’s Kitchen and Plum Baby will be on shelf alongside natural nappy brands and skincare brands including Mama Mio and Blossom & Bloom.


Are you excited yet?  I hope so!  Wholefoods will inspire you and show you how to live the healthy lifestyle you’re always dreaming of, so get ready for something amazing.  What are you looking forward to most about the new Wholefoods store?

To keep up to date with the latest news about the store, follow @wfm_Cheltenham on Twitter or ‘like’ Whole Foods Market Cheltenham on Facebook. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

Baked Dippy Eggs with Supergreens

The weekend's coming! Great excuse for brunch.  This is my new favourite way to eat eggs.  Are you making the yummy sound yet?


Ingredients

Baked Dippy Eggs with Supergreens

2 small ramekins
2 eggs
a knob of butter
A handful of spinach
4 Asparagus Spears (pre-cooked in some boiling water)
2 tablespoons cream
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese – small amount for grating.

Pre heat the oven to 170 degrees

- Butter both the ramekins

- Spread a few spinach leaves at the bottom of each ramekin (you can put quite a few as they wilt down into almost nothing, so even if it looks a lot, it won’t be).

- Chop the Asparagus spears into 1 inch long pieces and discard the thick ‘woody’ stalk of the Asparagus spear.

- Lay the Asparagus pieces neatly over the top of the spinach.

- Spoon a tablespoon of cream over each spinach and asparagus mixture

- Carefully break one egg over each ramekin.

- Salt and pepper to taste.

- Pop into a preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes depending upon how runny you like the egg.  Make sure the white is cooked.

- Take out of the oven and grate over a little Parmesan.

Cut toast into slices (Soldiers) and dip in and enjoy.