Wednesday, 22 December 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Pin Up Girl Goodies from Crumpet & Skirt

I'm a big big fan of vintage and in particular pin up girls, so it's no surprise that I love the lady laden goodies available from Crumpet & Skirt. I also love alliteration. Yes.

Anyway, I think all you fellow vintage fans and anyone who likes pretty girls should head over to Crumpet & Skirt and purchase some of their delightful wears. I particularly love the tea towel above, and also the mugs shown below. Plain white and unassuming until you finish your coffee and spy the bathing beauty languishing in the bottom of the vestle, it makes your morning brew even more special, a feat I didn't think possible.

Peek-a-boo Mugs - £8.00 each or £29.99 for the set of four

Here are a couple of things which aren't kitchen related, but are just as fabulous...

Pin Up Girl Wrapping Paper - £8.00 per set of four sheets of one colour or £16.00 for a set of two sheets of each colour

I don't think I'll be posting again before Christmas I have a large amount of baking, wrapping and painting to do so...

Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you all have a wonderful day!
x o x o x

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Potato and Parsnip Brunch Stack

I think breakfast is quite an underrated meal in the UK. Our full English fry up pales in comparison to the French's hollandaise smothered eggs benedict, Mexico's spicey huevos rancheros or the USA's towering pancake stacks and giant mounds of potato and (insert any food stuff you can think of here) hash. It seems we just don't put as much effort in.

I do sympathise, I eat a banana or two for breakfast at work as I can't imagine cooking up and eating something substantial at 7:30am and on Saturdays I would rather have a bit of a lie in than get up early enough for the meal to be classed as breakfast. Sundays mornings though are made for pottering about in the kitchen and I feel the holidays are just the same. Maybe not on Christmas day itself as you'll be having a giant dinner later and a bit of toast will surfice until then, but on Boxing Day it's just lovely and will help to soften the blow of the big day being over.

I admit this is a bit of a labour intensive meal so may be suited more to brunch than breakfast. You will need several pans and there is a sauce involved as well as frying and poaching.
You can find a nice easy hollandaise recipe here, but as it's the holidays I won't hold it against you if you use a jar or maybe even a packet!

Potato and Parsnip Brunch Stack
Serves 2

300g potato, preferably something waxy like a charlotte
1 medium sized parsnip
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tso garlic granules
1 egg

2 poached eggs (for a how to click here)
6 slices of bacon
hollandaise sauce

Grate the potato and parsnip into a seive, squeeze out as much liquid as you can and then place into a bowl. Sprinkle over the pepper and garlic granules, then add the egg and mix until thoroughly combined.

Heat some oil in a frying pan to a medium low heat, then add the potato mixture in two halves shaping each into a flat round. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, turn over and cook for another 5-6 minutes until crispy and golden on both sides. Put the hash browns onto a plate and place under a low heated grill to keep warm.

Next cook the bacon and place under the grill with the hash browns, then poach your egg and whip up the hollandaise. Now to plate up.

Place a hash brown in the middle of the a plate, arrange 3 slices of bacon on top and then place on a poached egg. Pour over some hollandaise, season lightly and enjoy!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Etsy Plate Round Up

It's plain and simple, I love unusual crockery. Used on your dining table or on your wall it is sure to catch your attention and start up conversation, but that's what I love - taking something ordinary and giving it a little tweak and some TLC to make it into something marvellous.

Here's a round up of some gorgeous plates on Etsy which would make a delightful pressie for a food fan with a sense of style and humour...

Hopefully I'll be having a go at making my own dinner set soon thanks to my lovely ceramicist friend Jon Williams - check out his amazing work at If you look closely you may find the figurine of me...!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Creamy Candy Cane Pie

There's no denying it now, Christmas is truly upon us. I have gone into my regular festive stupor, wanting to decorate everything in the house (including the cat) and bake stupid amounts of sugar cookies (I have restrained myself from doing this so far). I have placed an outrageously large online food order concidering there's only the two of us. We have lobsters for Christmas eve (no we're not rich, they're frozen ones from Lidl!) and for Christmas breakfast this year we are having smoked salmon benedict and the obligatory fried halloumi - don't ask me why but this is a tradition of mine that's been going on since I was small.

In my house at least, dessert after our giant Christmas dinner was never that much of an event, my mum's roast being delicious enough (and large enough) to eclipse anything that may be plated out later. Plus after eating said giant meal no-one really fancies cramming in anything as rich and stodgy as a Christmas pud. I think this dessert will change all that though, as the creamy peppermint filling is light and refreshing with the base giving a lovely chocolatey hit, and its pretty red and white swirls add the required wow factor with a sprinkle of disco golden glitter.

On top of all that it is also very easy to make as it uses marshmallows to set the cream centre rather than gelatine. The only thing you need to remember is that it needs to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving, so I would suggest making it the night before, or even earlier as it can be frozen in its tin, well wrapped in cling film for up to a month. Just remember to put it in the fridge to defrost the night before you want to serve it!

Creamy Candy Cane Pie / Peppermint Swirl Pie
Serves 8 - 10

Base Ingredients
2 packets (300g) of double chocolate oreos
50 g unsalted butter, softened

Filling Ingredients
200g white mini marshmallows
240ml milk
2 tsp peppermint extract
375ml double cream
few drops of red food colouring

Other Equipment
25cm loose bottomed flan / tart tin
gold edible glitter

Base Method
Empty your packets of biscuits into a food processor and whizz up until you have crumbs. Add the softened butter and whizz again a few times until it starts to come together. Pour into your tart tin and push down using your fingers so you have an even layer covering the base and sides. Put into the fridge for an hour or so to chill and harden.

Filling Method
Melt the marshmallows and milk over a medium low heat until the milk just comes to a simmer, then remove from the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth and silky looking. Pour into a heat-proof bowl and mix in the peppermint extract, then leave to cool.

Now whisk the double cream to soft peak stage, and then, while still whisking, slowly add the minty marshmallow mix. When combined, remove about 2 tablespoons of the mix to a seperate bowl and stir in a few drops of red food colouring until you get the desired shade of red.

Take your hardened cookie base from the fridge, pour in the white marshmallow cream and smooth over the top with an angled spatula or knife. Now use a teaspoon to drip over the red coloured mix, then take a cocktail stick and swirl it around in the mixture to give a marbled effect. You can now add a sprinkle of edible glitter if you so desire.

Place your finished pie into the fridge and leave to set for at least 4 hours before serving. It is best to cut it with a warm knife so you don't spoil the pretty pattern on the top.

Another bonus to this pud? You don't need anything to accompany it but a fork!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Joseph Joseph Kitchenware

I think I'm mentioned it on the blog before but... I flipping love Nigella Lawson. Love love love. Other than my Mum and Gran she is why I started cooking. How To Eat was one of the first books I ever bought with my Christmas book tokens along with Cooking With Friends, so it's no surprise that I covet most of what she has in her kitchen.

I spotted the above chopping board on her current series 'Kitchen' (BBC2, Thursdays, 8pm) and think it is pure genius. The board is double sided, one with little spikes to hold meat etc. in place while carving (shown above) and the other flat for normal chopping, but the wonderful part is that it is at a slight angle due to its having a lipped edge. Therefore, next time you are chopping juicy fruit or super moist meat the liquid that escapes from them will not drip onto your work surface but be captured for easy disposal later from the corner, which, by the way, was engineered for this very purpose so won't drip everywhere like a rubbish teapot!

It comes in a range of colours, I believe House Of Fraser have an exclusive purple edition, but I would go for the black as above. Classic and goes with everything else in my kitchen, including my beloved checkered floor.

Pink Folding Colander - £11.99

This little beauty looks pretty fab too, a colander that folds completely flat so it takes up less room! I have a giant colander which takes up the space of pretty much two piles of plates on my shelf (I cook way too much pasta, every single time) so this would be great as then I could buy more stuff to go in that space. Yay stuff!

2 in 1 Measuring Jug - £6.99

Want something that will accurately measure tiny volumes AND larger quantities? This jug does just that, one side will measure as little as a teaspoon (5ml) and then you can just invert it for bigger jobs! Multitasking rocks!

Adjustable Rolling Pin - £12.98

Never have uneven pastry again - just switch the plastic rings at the end of this rolling pin to the desired thickness and you will roll perfect every time!

Citrus Reamer with Pip Catcher - £7.50

Stray pips will no longer be an issue with this lovely citrus squeezer - the integrated seive like device under the reimer will catch all those pesky pips and leave you surprise crunch free!

Rocking Garlic Crusher - £13.99

Do check out and for more intelligent cooking helpers from Joseph Joseph!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Red Wine and Cinnamon Slow Cooked Beef Brisket and Vegetable Rolls

I have a confession to make... I have a pretty bad addiction to Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. I've always loved diners and the whole culture surrounding them so I guess it's no surprise really. I also love fried food, much to my dismay, but that's another trouble altogether...

One recipe that tends to come up a lot on the show is brisket, usually sliced super thin and piled high with cheese and some kind of pickled veg and crammed into a sandwich. As delicious as this looks, my carving skills are just not up to slicing that thin and as much as I like to think I own almost every kitchen appliance going my collection doesn't stretch to a deli meat slicer. No problem though I thought, I'll just Brit it up a bit, slow cooking it in red wine with some veggies and cutting it into 1/2 cm slices.

Although it takes about 5 hours to cook the prep work on this is very minimal, I just threw everything in the slow cooker (you can do this in a casserole dish in the oven) and left it to do its own thing while I did household chores, watched more Triple D, slid my way around town for my Sunday TK Maxx kitchenwares scramble and bought the icing sugar and other items I had forgotten to get at the supermarket the previous night. This is a regular occurence, maybe I subconsciously do it so I have to go shopping again...

Coming out of the freezing cold and into a hot kitchen filled with the gorgeous scent of winey beef is a real treat. Do Yankee Candle make stew scented wax tarts yet?

Hot Slow Cooked Brisket and Veggie Rolls
Sammich Construction

Red Wine and Cinnamon Slow Cooked Beef Brisket and Vegetable Rolls
Makes 6 rolls with extra veggies for an evening snack

700g beef brisket
3-4 carrots
2-3 parsnips, peeled
3-4 stalks of celery
1-2 onion, peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried rosemary
400ml red wine (I used merlot)
500ml beef stock
6 good bread rolls - I used multi grain as that's my favourite
english mustard - optional and to taste

If cooking in the oven, preheat it to 150 C / 300 F.

Cut all the vegetables into large chunks and set aside. Sprinkle your piece of brisket with 1/2 tsp of the black pepper and place into your slow cooker or oven proof dish. Surround it with the veggie chunks and sprinkle over the salt, remaining pepper, cinnamon and rosemary. Mix the red wine and beef stock together in a jug and pour over - it should be just covering all the ingredients. If your pan is large and this is not enough to cover everything just add more beef stock until it does.

Turn your slow cooker on to high, or put the lid on your casserole dish and place in the oven and cook for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally if you like, until the meat and veggies are tender.

Remove the meat from the pan and cut into slices, as thick or thin as you like. Split your rolls leaving a hinge at one side and spread over a little English mustard (if using) then put down a layer of the vegetables from the pan. Top with a layer of the brisket and then drizzle a little of the liquid from the pot onto the inner topside of the roll to add some extra moistness. Close up and enjoy with a little glass of the leftover red wine.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Moomin Kitchenware

I love the Moomins. I love them, but am also a little afraid of them. The stories are a bit spooky, perhaps because they are set in cold Nordic lands, and often quite philosophical with the Moomin family pondering over life and it's wonders.

Various Tea Towels - £6.80 each

I first became aware of the Moomins from the felt animations - click here for a particularly creepy episode called The Lady Of The Cold. After that there were the animated cartoons of the 80's which were a lot less unnerving, but still quite odd. It is the original comics and story books that I love the most though - I think the term hauntingly beautiful best sums them up.

Moomin Adventure Pitcher Jug - £31.00

The first story book I read was called 'Moominland in Midwinter'. In it the main character Moomintroll, wakes from hibernation, can't get back to sleep and becomes the first Moomin to see Winter. He can't wake the rest of his family and so goes off into Moominvalley alone, along his way learning the secrets of Winter and the other creatures that inhabit the island and his home Moominhouse.

I think the scariest character to me would be the Groke. She is a dark, mound shaped creature with glowing eyes, and everything she touches freezes and dies - the novelist Alison Laurie described the Groke as being a walking manifestation of Nordic gloominess. Perfect kids reading huh?

65th Anniversary 'Night Sailing' Mug - £29.95

A close second though are the Hattifatteners - tall, thin, silent little beasties with waving 'fingers' on their sides. They grow from seeds and when there is a lightning storm glow and could electricute you! Here is a little exert from Wikipedia explaining them a little more -

"In the story The Secret of the Hattifatteners that appears in Tales from Moominvalley Moominpappa tries to understand the mysterious Hattifatteners. Unusually for what is ostensibly a children's book the story deals with what appears to be Moominpappa's mid-life crisis. His quest to seek out and understand the mysterious Hattifatteners is his search for a deeper meaning in life. Moominpappa follows three Hattifatteners to their desolate island and during this trip he slowly comes to resemble them in spirit. Arriving on the island he is eventually saluted by all of them as they bow before him, and he bows back. Witnessing their obsession with the lightning storms he concludes that their secret is that they cannot experience emotions unless confronted by lightning, which is why they desire it so much. Further, he speculates that by gathering together, they can attract lightning.

The Hattifatteners Mug - £16.95

My lovely best friend went to the Moomin Land park in Finland a few years ago and brought me back some cookie cutters of Moomintroll and Little My - I have recently seen a gingerbread house kit for the Moominhouse but cannot seem to locate one to buy - if anyone can find it please let me know where!

Moomins Cook Book - £7.79

The cook book above is lovely too, with lots of traditional Finnish dishes and pretty illustrations. Beware though, the recipes contain lots of cream and cheese and breadcrumbs, nearly as much in a book by the Barefoot Contessa! Yowza!

Would anyone like to join me for a Moomin party?

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Aprons by Boojiboo

Gorgeous aprons in every pattern imaginable by Boojiboo! This lovely little Etsy shop has been one of my favourites for a good while now and I have bought a few of their items, my favourite being a vintage monster movie 'Bella' style apron - unfortunately no longer available.

There are four styles of full apron - Bella, Maggie, Chloe and Classic as well as three styles of half apron - Sophia, Madison and Classic, along with the 'Betty' plus size and a range for in kids' sizes.

Pricing ranges from $16.75 (£10.83) for kids' sizes, $23.75-$28.75 (£15.36-£18.59) for full aprons, $18.75-$21.75 (£12.13-£14.07) for half aprons and $38.75 (£25.06) for plus size.

Shipping to the UK is only $7.00 (£4.53) and within the US only $3.00 - they also offer postage discounts for multiple purchases.

So get yourself online and grab some fabulous kitchen couture from Boojiboo - at those prices, why not buy 2? And maybe another one for me? Well it is Christmas... ;)

All images shown are from the Boojiboo store -

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Chestnut Mushroom and Goats Cheese Quiche with a Cashew Nut Crust

It came as a bit of a shock the other day when I realised how little time we have left before Christmas. I've organised my work Christmas party, I have ordered several new outfit options for said party (one made me look like a shiney bat, that went straight back... ), I even started buying presents in October, but I am still at a loss thinking that there are now only 41 days left.

Being in my early twenties and without any kids I still spend my Christmas Day and Boxing Day with Pete's parents and my parents respectively so I don't tend to do much entertaining at home, but for some reason I still feel the need to fill the flat with company ready foods that I can grab at a moments notice, although it tends to be myself grabbing for a quick snack between baking rather than because we have guests over. Either way, Christmas is definitely a party season and although buying nibbles from the supermarket is far easier, I think you should always serve something homemade to make it extra special - and to gain a few Brownie points with the inlaws and other people you wish to impress!

One staple of the British buffet is a quiche, which can just be put on a plate and cut into wedges and is always a good option for vegetarian guests. I am however quite snobby about quiche, as bought ones tend to have cardboard like pastry and taste like the foil tin in which they arrived. I have made my own pastry for this which does lengthen the cooking time, but if you would prefer you can use some pre-made pastry to speed it up a bit. The filling though requires nothing more than a short bit of veggie frying, a little whisking and then some pouring so will set you back no more than 15 minutes before putting into the oven to bake while you potter off to do something festive.

Chestnut Mushroom and Goats Cheese Quiche with a Cashew Nut Crust

Serves 6-8-10 depending on generosity

Pastry Ingredients
200g plain flour
100g cashew nuts, finely chopped
140g cold butter, in small chunks
40g cold vegetable shortening (or lard if serving to carnivores), in small chunks
a little ice cold water

25cm tart tin - preferable loose bottomed
dried beans / ceramic baking beads
baking parchment

Filling Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, crushed
300g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
125g goats cheese, mashed with a fork
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
250ml double cream
3-4 tbsp grated parmesan
50g cashew nuts, finely chopped

Pastry Method
Preheat the oven to 180C / 360 F.

Place the flour, cashew nuts, butter and shortening/lard into a bowl and rub together with your fingers until it reaches a sand-like consistency. Now add the cold water a tablespoon at a time and then kneading a little until the pastry comes together. Form into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is about 30cm in diameter, lift it up using the rolling pin and drape lcarefully over the tart tin. Gently push the pastry down into the edges of the tin, trying not to make any holes - if you do, patch it up with a little of the pastry overhang from the edges. Run your rolling pin over the top of the tin - this should cut off the excess leaving a neat, smooth edged crust. Lightly prick the pastry using a fork and chill for a further 20 minutes.

Cut a large circle from baking parchment and place it over the pastry in your tart tin, then fill with dried beans / baking beads. Blind bake like this for 20 minutes, then take out the beans and parchment and bake for a further 10 minutes.

While your pastry case is cooking, prepare the filling.

Filling Method
Fry the onion in the olive oil over a medium heat until softened, then add the garlic, mushrooms and sage. Season to taste. Fry for a further 5 or so minutes and then add the balsamic vinegar. Stir and fry for another 2-3 minutes then remove from the heat and set aside.

Mix the goats cheese, eggs and double cream, then add the fried mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Pour into your pre-baked pasty case and sprinkle over the parmesan and finely chopped cashew nuts.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until set. The filling may rise while baking but will sink back down when you remove it from the oven.

I think this quiche's flavour improves if left overnight in the fridge and then either reheated or served at room temperature. We ate this as dinner along with some roasted carrots and parsnips and a little vinegar dressed salad.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

I WANT WEDNESDAY - Baking Goodies from Fred & Friends

To be honest, I do already own a few of the following items, but how could I not? The wonderfully creative minds at Fred & Friends just keep coming up with the most pretty and unusual kitchen gadgets that I just can't seem to resist! Already in my posession are the gorgeous "Teacupcakes" and "M-Cups" and if I have my way I shall own all of the below by the end of the year!

I ordered my Fred items from, but when I Googled I found several UK sites which they can be purchased from including , & US readers can find them at , & among others.

TEACUPCAKES - Gorgeous silicone teacups and saucers that you bake your cupcakes right into - the perfect tea party flourish!

NOMSKULLS - Wonderful Halloween fun! Silicon skulls that you bake your cupcakes into and decorated with a frosting brain! A few drips of red jam wouldn't go amiss either!

YUMBOTS - Silicone robots in a range of colours - bake your cupcakes right into them and give them a bright coloured frosting hair do!
M-CUPS - Beautiful white plastic measuring cups that look like Russian stacking dolls od matryoshkas. They give the following measurements 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, 2/3 cup, 3/4 cup & 1 cup - perfect for cooking from American recipes!

M-SPOONS - Lovely matryoshka measuring spoons! These gorgeous spoons accurately measure 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp, 1 tsp, 1/2 tbsp & 1 tbsp.