Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Kitchen Crushes - Beyonce special!

Thank you to Nordic Leaves Blogger for sharing her beautiful kitchen!
Hey everyone!  I hope you all had lovely Bank Holiday weekends.  Now it's a 4 day week - and that's kind of cool too!

Just wanted to share with you a few of my kitchen crushes this week.  Some really lovely coloured goodies for you as always and an extra special recipe from Beyonce herself!

This first B.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l kitchen is Edina's over at the super-stylish Nordic Leaves blog.  I absolutely love the SMEG fridge, don't you?  What a great colour!  And check out the Andy Warhol framed quote on the wall.  I love her style and choice of colours so much -  I could really imagine just sitting down in this kitchen, reading a paper and munching on some of my gluten free banana bread I made last week (I will share the recipe soon I promise, I want to share it with you all because it's possibly my favourite gluten free cake recipe to date!)  - Thank you Edina for sharing your stunning kitchen!  Edina's blog is also equally cool so check it out!

I really love Andy Warhol quotes, so when I saw this poster in the Nordic Leaves kitchen I loved it, and then I came across these awesome Andy quote pencils from Urban Outfitters.  SO cool!

Also stumbled across this very cleverly designed recipe notebook from ETSY seller ohNOrachio.  I really need a new notebook for all my recipes!  I've just come to the end of another and am currently writing on the back!!

And lastly, this adorable picnic basket and tableware from good old BHS (British Home Stores)  which is my absolute steal of the week for only £25!

And how could I forget this extra special recipe from Beyonce herself?!

Beyonce recently shared her dinner menu for her tour on the internet and on it was a Sweet Potato and Coconut soup!  I was so excited because I've been making this soup for a few years and it's so quick, delicious, healthy and awesome!  So here's the one I use.  Make it tonight, it's lick-your-lips-able-delicious!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Food revolution at the Star Bistro

I must just write and tell you about the fantastic evening I had on Friday at the Star Bistro, Ullenwood Cheltenham for Food Revolution Day.

The Star Bistro is a joint venture between The Wiggly Worm charity and National Star Foundation enabling young people with disabilities to gain real life work experience. It's a really fantastic set up!

The Bistro and team recently won the hearts of the nation where they were finalists in the 'Food Glorious Food' TV show competition with their Pimms Summer Fruit Jelly!

Yes, you guessed it, I chose the Pimms Summer Fruit Jelly for  dessert and - WOW - it tasted better than I could have imagined. It sure deserved to win. It was so tasty, I think I polished it off in record time.

My friends had the pannacotta with poached local rhubarb, which looked equally deliciousramous!!  I think you'll agree!
Sorry I didn't take any pictures of the starter and main course (doh!), but when food that good comes to your table, you don't really want to do anything but tuck in!

I will just tell you that the Goat Cheese Souffle with local Asparagus from Primrose Vale Farm, and the Bibury Trout were nothing short of amazing.  I must also thank the Chef and his team for being so accommodating - I know I'm a bit of a nightmare to cook for because I'm not only a Gluten Free eater, but I have a nut allergy too. (Yep, don't ever invite me for dinner!)  But the team were totally awesome.  Of course the menu was such that I didn't have to worry about the Gluten Free aspect as all dishes were, but as the main course came with a Waldorf Salad, the team prepared mine separately and removed all nuts for my dish.  It made me feel so much more relaxed and accepted, which I sometimes don't feel in restaurants.  So big thank you team!

The evening was hosted by our local Food Revolution Representative Laura Milne (founder of Your Final Fitness Formula), who introduced and bought the night to fruition. Thank you Laura!

Our very much loved and talented Cotswold Chef, Rob Reese MBE (who is instrumental at the Star Bistro and Director of Wiggly Worm Charity) made a guest appearance and demonstration preparing dishes using local produce.  Rob is a great entertainer, who gets the audience involved and makes cooking look so easy and so much fun while giving us lots of tips and tricks to prepare great food for our families!

Thank you not only to The Star Bistro's super-star talented team, headed up by super-chef Matt, but also to the volunteers who helped at the evening from
The Wiggly Worm charity.

We sure did have a great Food Revolution day, celebrating the beautiful diversity of fresh food, sharing cooking skills, while meeting old and new friends!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A few of my favourite things

Here's a few of my favourite things right now!

(Left to right, top to bottom...)

1. Shiny.  LOVE these pumps, don't you?  They're from ASDA and a real steal at £12! I dare say that space-age is coming back into fashion, no?  Maybe we'll all be wearing tin-foil trousers again soon, in the style of 1990.  Maybe even shell suits will make a new appearance.  Can you imagine?! ;)

2.  Herb pots!  I am really trying to motivate myself to plant some herbs in some pots on my window sill.  I don't have a garden to make a veggie patch or anything like that you see (although my best friend Karen, who lives on the beautiful south coast, told me recently she's planted a veg patch and I can't wait to see it and maybe try some of her produce! How exciting is that?!)  If you have a veggie patch and live close to Gloucestershire, then please let me know as I'd love to cook up something tasty from it.  There's nothing like home grown veg, it tastes so amazing.  So anyway, I saw these herb pots on the Minted Blog and thought they looked so cute.  I'd probably plant 3 pots of my favourite herbs, Basil, Coriander and Mint.  I put them in everything, makes food so flavoursome, try it!

3. Cute.  This T-shirt is just such a hoot (haha!)  I love it because I wear similar glasses -  I'm on the look out for a new pair of specs actually, but that's another story!  (This tee is from ASOS.com)

4. I really love these tumbler glasses.  They're from Marks and Spencer's Home.  I'd love to pour a glass of summertime Pimms in these (with some mint from my herb pots, if I grow any, of course!).


A few other things that caught my eye during a swift internet surfing spree this week was this article, five tips for dining out if you're eating gluten free.  Great advice, check it out.

And I love this rendition of Bruno Mars's track from Bridget Mendler on Youtube here (I keep listening to it over and over, she has such a beautiful voice).

And talking of favourite things... did someone mention there was another Bank Holiday coming around soon?

See you soon!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Kitchen Crushes - Bazaar Style

You know, I am a little bit obsessed with looking at pretty kitchens and dining tables.  Some people love shoes and handbags; I love a colourful, bright kitchen, a good Belfast sink and a driftwood dining table.  Maybe it’s the cook in me - the kitchen is really my home office.

One of my favourite books and interior stylists (for my kitchen crushes) is Selina Lake.  Her books Pretty Pastel Style and Homespun Style are my favourite interior styling flicks and now I’ve discovered another, Bazaar Style!  I’m going to need another bookcase for all these books!

On the Bank Holiday weekend, I went to a few car boot sales and vintage fairs -  I just love browsing brick-a-brack and finding really beautiful pre-loved pieces I can re-love! Don’t you?

So Bazaar Style is about decorating with market and vintage finds and so much more – In this book stylist Selina and writer Joanna Simmons show you how vibrant rooms furnished with intriguing pieces from different eras and cultures, mixed with vintage and retro influences, inspired by a French brocante or Moroccan bazaar can really spice up your interior spaces.  It’s really a beamingly colouful book, which has made me think of hot sunny afternoons with some alfresco dining and delicious Moroccan inspired food.

These are just a few of my favourite eye candy pieces from the book.
There’s so many more beautiful rooms to flick though!

Bazaar Style by Selina Lake is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is available from www.rylandpeters.com

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The easiest carrot cake - that's also gluten free!

It's finally here everybody!  Spring has sprung.  Yes, just look at that blue sky!  Spring is always my favourite time of the year in the UK - It's so colourful and fresh and the scents of spring flowers and cut grass are wonderful.

So with spring in the air I have been on a bit of a baking mission this past week.  My mission?  I've been recipe testing some gluten free baked treats and first up is a absolutely delicious, moist, scrummy carrot cake, that's not only gluten free, but can be made dairy free too - because it uses sunflower oil in it instead of butter.  Yes, you can believe your eyes and ears!  And it's flipping amazing.  Even if you're not following a gluten free or dairy free diet, this cake is absolutely delicious!

So I laid out all my baking stuff - you see the chocolate in the picture? - well, this didn't actually go in the carrot cake, but it did go in some chocolate brownies which I baked today and will blog about soon.. so stay tuned.

It's just that a picture of some carrots wouldn't have been quite as interesting!

As you know, I've recently moved house and I can't seem to locate my baking tins.  All I have is this brownie tin / lasagne baking tray, which you can actually make just about anything in.  So I used it again to make a carrot sheet cake.  I call it 'carrot cake slab!' :)

The best thing about this recipe is that you don't need a mixer to make it,  as there's barely any mixing at all.  Just grab a large bowl and a wooden spoon or spatula and go bananas!

Carrot Cake ... 

175g Plain Flour (Doves Organic Gluten Free plain flour)
2 tsp Baking Powder (Dr Oetker and Doves Organic both do gluten free versions)
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
tiny pinch Ground Cloves (when I say a tiny pinch I mean less than a teaspoon, ok?)
tiny pinch Ground Nutmeg (again, teeny tiny)
200g Soft Light Brown Sugar (sometimes called Light Muscavado)
200ml Sunflower Oil
2 Large Eggs (room temp)
175g graded carrot (I used organic, because they're sweeter)
Optional - chopped walnuts for the topping.

1. Pre heat your oven to 170 degrees.

2. Grate the carrots.  3 medium yields about 175g nicely. Any left overs can be sprinkled on a salad for later :)

3. Sift the flour and baking powder together.

4. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and Sunflower oil.  Then add the eggs one at a time mixing gently until combined.

5. Then add the carrot and spices.

6. Then gently fold the flour mixture into the gooey mixture of sunflower oil and eggs etc.  Just until combined and gooey.  Don't over mix.

7. Pour into a cake tin and bake in the centre of your hot oven for around 30 minute (depending upon the size and depth of the cake tin, might take about 45 minutes if you're not using a brownie tin)  or until the top is golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting (you can make this dairy free by skipping the cream cheese and mixing together about 50g of coconut oil, icing sugar and hot water and vanilla extract).

50g unsalted butter
200g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
teaspoon vanilla extract
Chopped walnuts for the topping.

Make sure your butter and cream cheese are room temp.

1. Mix together (with the whisk attachment of your mixer) the butter and cream cheese.  Then add in two parts the icing sugar.  Dumping too much icing sugar into the bowl at one time will cause an icing sugar explosion.

2. Add in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix in.

3. Pour over the top of the cake.  Top with chopped walnuts if you fancy - I didn't because as you know I've got a nut allergy.  So just a simple topping for me - but I'm sure walnuts would be delicious on this!

Eat 2 slices immediately and save one for breakfast :)  Enjoy!!