Friday, 29 March 2013

Traditional Easter Simnel Cake

Home at Easter is full of seasonal traditions from hot cross buns being dished out, painting Easter eggs,  lamb being ordered in (plus the annual debate as to how much lamb should be ordered to feed the troops) and of course a good Easter cake!

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Simnel Cake has been a traditional tiffin at Easter for years, dating back to medieval times. But believe it or not, it was originally made for the middle Sunday of lent aka Mothering Sunday! A rich  and moreish fruit cake packed full of spices, raisins, eggs, butter and flour.

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Over the top rests a marzipan blanket stuck on with apricot jam..

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It's gently toasted under a grill...

Before being decorated with flowers - something the Victorian's kick started.

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Before being dished up for tea. 

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A very easy to make cake that is perfect for an Easter Sunday. The recipe for which is here and I promise you'll be going back for that extra slice.

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Monday, 25 March 2013

Baker 'n Spice

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Weekends are a time to catch up with friends and doing so over freshly brewed coffee is one of the best ways to do so!
Baker 'n Spice is nestled in gentle Warwick Avenue. Just off Edgware Road and close to Paddington, Warwick Avenue plays host to a selection of organic grocery shops, florists, wine merchants and small coffee shops. Famous for its pastries, indulgent breads and moreish biscuits, Baker and Spice is a bustling artisan bakery. Head in, settle down at the large communal oak table, take a seat at the window or find a small table for two. Pick from a large brunch, to a healthy salad or opt for a freshly made brioche. Sip a thick and creamy cappucino and dunk your pistaccio and white chocolate chip cookie in. Now, feel free to gossip with your friend for several hours and don't worry about moving, just make sure you order some another outlandishly good pastry.

This is a favourite of mine to go too and is popular among locals too, so if you ever find yourself wandering the timeless chic streets of Little Venice, pop in and settle down for a coffee or three.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Rule 101

Rule 101, wrap up and stay in doors!
Popular conception rings true. Britain is famous for bad weather and London is famous for not coping very well with it.  But us Londoners generally keep are chins up! We resort to steaming cups of hot chocolate, roaring fires, cosy pubs and warm bolt holes. Cheerily we get through the winter and celebrate the first signs of spring.
At this time of year the sun should be shining, the first layers of clothing starting to come off and coats popped into the wardrobe to wait until the autumns leaves begin to fall. While Easter is just around the corner, the weather in London could not be further from it. Cold blistery winds, snow falling and bitter temperatures has meant that many Londoner's have resorted to locking down the hatches. It's all very out of sorts.
And so,  as the daffodils shiver outside, when I've not been at work I've been hunkering down and making the most of duvet days! Soft fresh linen, a set of good books and a film or three. If this keeps up, I may start thinking of emigrating!

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Monday, 18 March 2013

Boiled Egg

A good breakfast is a great way to start a day off! A warming bowl of porridge in the winter, a fry up on a Saturday or a piece of fruit grabbed on the go during the week.

Spring time breakfasts are something to really enjoy! Getting up in the morning gets a lot easier as the days get longer and the weather gets better. That's not saying morning's will ever be easy, I for one will always struggle. But as the sun beams in through the bedroom windows, the kettle whistles and the toast pops in the kitchen, a perfectly boiled egg and a set of soldiers thickly buttered is a great way to start a spring day. Gooey yolk slowly dripping down the egg cup, an extra large cup of coffee and some freshly squeezed orange juice. What can beat this on a lazy weekend morning?

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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Tea bags

My best friend has just had a nasty break up. It's no fun. This best friend is probably the coolest kid on the block. She's very popular, can make everyone laugh and always the person everyone wants to hang out with.
But she's been feeling a little low. So over the weekend she came round for a fixer upper... a big cup of tea. To make her feel just that extra bit special I made her her own set of tea bags putting out a range of teas to sample, taste and bag up.

To make the tea bags I took some tea leaves we picked up on our travels and dug out a box of Fortnum and Mason's earl grey. And there it is, personalised tea to bring someone back to feeling a little more normal. The tea bags were a great distraction to the boy in question too! Job done.

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Monday, 11 March 2013

Floral Fancies

Spring is about bright colors and after the darkness of winter, its hard not to crave it. Freshness on all fronts from the kitchen to our wardrobe, the weather to our moods breaks through. And embracing it through the art of baking these Floral Fancies are great way to shoo off winter and welcome in the months of sun ahead.

Floral fancies needn't be perfect, in fact being imperfect makes these bright cakes just that much more gluttonous. Life is really too short to care if they don't look like they've come out of Fortnum and Maisons or La Patisserie des Reves. At least they're cheerful, homemade and full of character. Placed on a table for tea, they are well worth tucking in to. The recipe for which can be found here.

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Friday, 8 March 2013


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It's mothers day on Sunday! Over in the UK we celebrate our mums on a slightly different date than our friends across the pond, but the meaning remains the same. It's a time to make mum feel worth it and what better a way than to do so than with a big bunch of daffodils. At this time of year these golden trumpets pop up in golden hosts to announce the end of winter and the beginning of spring! Sunny, yellow and singing of spring, a giant bunch of these cheery flowers just spells happiness - and that is exactly what I wish my best friend in the whole wide world, mum.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


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... Poppy... my small black shadow who faithfully sticks to my heal come wind, rain, sun or snow. Poppy is sitting next to me on those old haybales which are currently lying outside my parents rustic farmhouse deep in the English countryside.
No, I haven't always been a londoner but home has always been near this big old city, and my mum, with a passion for cocktails and the bright lights having lived the crazy hedonistic lifestyle of the 70's in London, introduced me to the place when I was very young. Part of me thinks she never really left the place.
At every opportunity to go home I do, an escape from the whirlwind of the city. And of course Poppy trots along too. The other dog there is her best friend, our family dog called Fen.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Oreo Cheesecake

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No bake, easy and simple to do. The Oreo Cheesecake. Aside from being packed full of Oreos, these mouthwatering desserts take no time to make either. Simply mix up the ingredients in the steps below and pop in the fridge to chill. They work wonderfully at a dinner table or as a guilty indulgent afternoon snack (when no one's looking!)

Last Sunday these were served up to friends on a fresh spring afternoon. Devoured very quickly, they were a great way  to round off a hearty meal before slinking onto the sofa for coffees, chocolates and a post lunch nap. 

Tip: I always think that these are the perfect dessert for a dinner date. They can be made in advance and left in the fridge, so that's one thing less to fret about.

Use a flan dish or a standard muffin tin with six holes (line the muffin tin with clingfilm so you can easily remove the cheesecakes)
1 standard packet of cream cheese 
300ml of double cream
150g sugar
half a lemon
1 large packet of oreos
150g of chocolate digestives or chocolate bourbons
50g butter 

To make your base, crush the chocolate digestives or bourbons. Melt down the butter and mix into the biscuits. Squash the mixture into your dish.

To make the filling, beat the double cream until thick. Add the lemon, fold in the cream cheese. Finally crush the Oreos and add into the mixture. Place onto your base and put in the fridge to chill for at least an hour. Serve with grated chocolate.

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