Friday, 28 May 2010

It's Friday!!!

When you've had a day like I've had, all you can do when you get home is kick off your shoes, put on the TV and mix yourself a cheeky little cocktail to put that day behind you.  Here is my current favourite...

Eldertini - serves 1

1 measure extra dry martini
1 measure vodka
1 measure St Germain Elderflower liqueur
1 measure = 25ml (unless you've had a VERY bad day, in which case make it 50ml)

Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Add all of the ingredients to the shaker and shake until your arms ache.
Pour into your favourite martini glass.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Happy Birthday Jamie O!

Today is Jamie Oliver's birthday and I send my very best wishes!  I'm a big Jamie fan, always have been.  I love his books, his recipes, his programmes and his Jamie at Home kitchenware.  I especially love his latest book, Jamie Does... and really must try out some more of the recipes (the chorizo and tomato salad was delicious).

Of the other Jamie books I have, there is one that I really haven't cooked from enough and that's Jamie's Kitchen.  I enjoyed a couple of amazing dishes from this book at Easter when my brother-in-law David made the most fantastic Bouillabaise (p.173) with croutons and rouille, followed by the Plum and Almond Tart (p.295) but made with blueberries rather than plums.  Both were delicious and really professional looking.  Here are the pics I took:

So, I have added this book to my pile and chosen a recipe to try at the weekend, more of that later!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Veggie Week!

National Vegetarian Week started yesterday and I will be doing my best to avoid meat this week.  I tend to stick to a vegetarian diet mid-week anyway (although with some fish) and then have good quality (preferably organic and/or locally sourced) meat at some point over the weekend.  So tonight was a perfect opportunity to make a delicious veggie dish, and join in this month's Cookalong on at the same time.  The recipe for Griddled Aubergines with Feta, Mint and Chilli is just my kind of dish as I love all of the individual ingredients, and it was so easy to put together. Pefect to make at a barbeque or for a picnic, especially for any vegetarian guests, and just as good for a light supper when you get in late from work (as I usually do!). Yum!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Delicious Date and Apple Cake

A few months ago, after running in the Brighton half marathon, I had a piece of cake in my favourite Brighton coffee shop Coffee@33 called lumberjack cake.  It was heavy with date and apple, with a delicious caramelised coconut topping.  It was the first time I'd heard of this cake but I was smitten!  After a little bit of research, I managed to find a couple of recipes and the favourite so far has been from the forummers recipes on and you can find the original here.

Apparently this cake is delicious without the cocunut topping but to me, this is the best bit!!

Anyway, I made this last night to take to a lovely afternoon tea picnic today for my Mum's birthday.  The weather in the south east was wonderful, and I spent the afternoon at Wakehurst Place with my sisters, parents and beautiful Ben (my nephew).  Sarah made perfect finger sandwiches, Claire made heart shaped scones and I made cake.  Ben provided the entertainment. 

Happy Birthday to the best Mum in the world! x

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Healthy Granola Bars

Well, detox week was a success!  The scales are being kinder and I feel better in my jeans (jeans never lie, scales sometimes do!).  I stuck to the healthy breakfast smoothie all week, salads for lunch and healthy soups and stews (all veggie) for dinner (except for lunch out on Thursday and a Chinese takeaway last night... oops).  Now, I love my food and that diet alone would not be enough as I am out of the house for 12 hours each day in the week, so I needed some healthy snacks.  Having been initially inspired to detox after discovering, this week's newsletter had some healthy lunchbox ideas.  The granola bars suggested looked good, and here is the version I made to get me through the week:

Homemade Granola Bars

1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup rolled oats, blitzed in a food processor
A pinch each of the following:
fine salt
ground cinnamon
ground nutmeg
ground ginger
1/4 cup flax seeds/linseeds
1/2 cup dried cherries*
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped*
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds*
1/4 cup groundnut oil
1/4 cup high quality maple syrup
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 180ÂșC.

Line a 8” square baking pan with parchment paper (my pan was 9" so my slices were quite flat)

Combine the oats, spices, nuts, seeds and dried fruit in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl or jug, whisk together the wet ingredients and then stir them into the dry ingredients.

Put the mixture in the prepared pan, smooth the top with a rubber spatula and bake for 25-30 mins or until pale golden. 

Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Remove to a cutting board, remove the parchment and cut into individual bars or squares.

* Use any combinbation of dried fruit and nuts, made up to 1 cup measurement.  Next time I'll be trying date and walnut I think.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Detox and a Chocolate Cake...

The last few weeks have seen my weight creeping up due to lack of exercise and a fair bit of comfort eating.  It was definitely time to kick start a more healthy way of eating and the best way for me is to have a mini detox.  But, the weekends are the perfect time to do some baking so I got the cake making out of the way on Friday and swiftly delivered it to my parents on Saturday!

The recipe is a delicious one: Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake from Nigella's Feast.  Now, I hadn't made a proper chocolate cake for quite some time, and I hadn't attempted this one before.  I chose it because it was going to use up the carton of sour cream I had in the fridge that was fast approaching its sell-by date.  I couldn't have chosen an easier recipe as both the cake and the icing can be whizzed in the food processor, saving lots of kitchen mess and washing up.  I really loved Nigella's suggestion of placing four strips of greaseproof paper under the cake before icing it, as once you remove them you have a lovely clean plate with not a splodge of icing in sight (well almost!).

The recipe can be found here:

And here is my cake being assembled:

The cake went down very well with everyone, it was light, moist and very chocolatey!  Definitely one to make again, and next time I'll find some pretty sugar flowers for decoration.

So, even more reason to detox today and keep me away from the cake!

Breakfast comprised a hot water with fresh lemon slices, followed by a blueberry smoothie* made with almond milk and ground flaxseeds and my mid-morning snack was a handful of natural almonds. By lunchtime I was ravenous and had a HUGE bowl of delicious watercress soup which I made after being inspired by Lucie over at Cooking at Marystow.  I didn't add the milk as I am trying to be dairy-free this week, and I added a handful of freshly chopped chives, parsley, oregano and basil - delicious and healthy!

To keep my mind off food (unsuccesfully!) I kept busy with housework, sorting out clothes and ebaying.

Mid-afternoon I made a refreshing drink, blitzing half a peeled cucumber in the blender with some fresh lime, basil leaves and apple juice and served it over ice*.

And finally, it was dinner time!  Wanting to use up vegetables but also add some protein, I made up a big pot of this delicious mediterranean bean stew which I found over at  I halved the recipe, substituted carrots for the red pepper, passata for the tinned tomatoes, and topped it with some freshly made basil and oregano pesto.

*My new favourite website is which is beautifully written by Gwyneth Paltrow, very inspiring and great for healthy recipes including the smoothie and cucumber drink. 

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Who Will It Be??

For somebody who is pretty much apolitical, I am quite enjoying the UK's general election. Well, I'm enjoying Channel 4's Alternative Election Night if that counts...!

I also liked seeing Tyrrell's Crisps election special flavours in Selfridges today: Cameron's Crunchies "Eton Mess", Clegg's Cocktail "Roasted Veg & Hummus" and Gordon's Gourmet "Scotch Egg & Brown Sauce". I also had the pleasure of meeting the top man at Tyrrell's who was very interested to hear about my favourite flavour which is usually a Valentine's Day special edition but should really be available all year round.

So, the polling stations have now closed and the fate of the nation has been decided. So who will it be?? I won't be staying up all night to find out as I need all the sleep I can get at the moment and the morning will come all to soon!

Sorry for the recent lack of posts, technical issues (lack of laptop) and time have been against me, but I do hope to make amends as I have been eating and photographing as much as I can and have plenty of things that I would like to share with you. :D