Monday, 29 April 2013

Bread making

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Bread making is an age old art and for many baking a set of fresh loaves is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of life, sinking into a world of flours, bread tins and grains.

Growing up we were only allowed home made bread - any shop bought bread was banned. At the time being deprived of pre-sliced white bread seemed very unfair, but now I'm a truly grateful to have gained a taste for grains, wholemeal and fresh steaming loaves straight out of the oven.

It's a myth that bread making will take up lots of time - in truth it will take up perhaps 15 minutes of your actual time, but your bread will need to rise for two hours in a warm spot.

An easy loaf to bake is rye bread. Rye bread is made with rye flour, producing a rich, dense and flavored bread. It will keep for longer than average bread, and being a form of sour dough is lower in glutton that other breads. Delicious with eggs, jams and ideal for sandwiches. A perfect loaf for any beginner.

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200g of Rye Flour
200g of Strong wholegrain bread flour
7g sachet of yeast
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tbsp of maple syrup

  1. Tip the flours, yeast and salt into a bowl. Pour 250ml of luke warm water and add your maple syrup into the bowl to form a dough. Sprinke flour across your work surface and tip out onto to knead (see here) for 10 minutes until the dough forms a smooth ball. It will be quite a heavy dough as rye flour has less gluten than conventional flours, so may not be as elastic as you'd expect
  2. Place the dough into a large well oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for 1-2 hour, or until the dough as doubled in size
  3. Tip the dough back onto your well floured work surface and knock out any air by kneading for 1 minute. Shape into a round ball, place back in the bowl and leave for a further hour (or until it has doubled in size)
  4. Heat your over to 200 degrees celsius. Take a baking tin, line with baking paper and place your bread onto it. Slash a few incisions across the top of your round dough and place in the over for 30 minutes. Tap the bottom of the loaf and look for a hollow sound to ensure the bread is cooked through. Smoother a slice with butter and sit down with a cup of tea.
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Friday, 26 April 2013

Meet Herbert

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This little man was quietly tucked up in Windsor castle. At a ripe old age he snoozed gently next to the butler's Bentley, the vicar's Ford and the cook's Clio. Once a week he'd stretch his tires, rev his engine and roll out of the castle gates to zip around the town.
At first he'd be a little rusty; he'd cough, the cogs would crank slowly and the wheels start to turn, but it was never too long until the joints felt well oiled and the old boy showed he still had a kick to him!

One day Herbert woke up and headed out of town, with the sun shining life felt great zooming along the roads out into the country and before long into London town. Passing Buckingham palace he tooted his horn, navigated Hyde Park corner and zipped down past the park before winding up in the colorful streets of Notting Hill. Popping by The Hill Gate (a pub on a tiny mews)  for a quick drink, he then slowly drove to a nearby street and settled down. So comfy was this new found spot, Herbert decided to stay!

Meet the new little car...

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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Pulled Pork Tacos

When friends come round the best dishes are always simple, hassle free, fun and satisfying. Pulled pork tacos in my opinion tick every single box. They allow you time to hang out with your pals and you don't need to be a master chef to cook them up either
Hungry hands dive into the table, tortillas are grabbed, piles of steaming caramalised, salty  pulled pork disappear quickly while coleslaw by the bucket full with fresh crispy salad is eaten up.
A sociable winner, these are cheap to make and require minimal effort , working very well with Raspberry and Strawberry mohitos (drunk while cooking, at the table or for a desert) [take this smoothie and substitute oats for a tsp of honey and a shot of tequilla]

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For four:

Pulled Pork
1.2 kg of pork (belly or shoulder)
1 tbsp of salt
1.5 tbsp of dark brown sugar
1/3 of a can of coke cola
A sprinkle of smoked paprika

1 mug of rice
1 mugs of water

Tacos or flour tortillas

One cabbage
Two carrots
One red onion
4 tbsp of mayonnaise

  1. Take your pork, scour and rub in the smoked paprika, salt and sugar. Place into a slow cooker and add the coke cola. Turn on medium and leave for 6-8 hours. Turn on low and leave for 8-10 hours. 
  2. With half an hour to go it's time to make the rest the dish. For the coleslaw, chop your cabbage, onions and carrots. Add your mayonaise and place in a bowl. Prepare a salad of your choice, a find romanian lettace hearts work best. Cook your rice for 20 minutes. While the rice is cooking, take your pork out of the crock pot and simply shred using two forks.
  3. Heat your tortillas slightly. And serve.

Raspberry Mohito:

  1. Take the breakfast smoothie and substitute oats and flaxseed for a shot of tequila and a tsp of honey.

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Monday, 22 April 2013

Spring time in Cambridge

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This weekend the sun came out in one of my favorite cities, Cambridge.

Sam's old university, this city holds many a memory of summers lying by the river Cam, punting in the sun, parties that went on until the early morning, being locked out of college at night, climbing through college windows as well as those late nights in the library. So with sun bursting through the clouds, the temperature up, the bicycles out in force and the streets lined with students, tourists, buskers and street food vendors, Sam and I broke out of London to head up to studious city and spend the day wandering.

Just a quick train ride from London, we caught up with old friends, chilled out in old watering holes and even snuck in a late night kebab (shhh just for old times sake!)

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Friday, 19 April 2013

The Rum Kitchen

Do you remember this hangover? Yes? I shamefully had a sore head, but all off the back of a fun filled evening with friends, Caribbean music and rum cocktails just off Portobello Road.

A few months ago a new local opened up near where I live in London - its name? The Rum Kitchen. Wander through the back streets and mews' around Westbourne Park until you wind up outside the Caribbean shack. Bursting with Caribbean vibes and hidden in a small cobbled road, this is a fun, not too expensive (but not too cheap either) joint with good vibrations running through it.

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For an evening full of fun, dancing until the early hours and cocktails that taste out of this world - this is a great place to head with friends. Warning, do not come here for a low key romantic date and yes, you may find yourself heading home as the sun rises across the mews....

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 after all, they do say there that ...

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Strawberry and Raspberry Breakfast Smoothie

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There are mornings when the thought of eating through a bowl of porridge, a stack of toast or tucking into some scrambled eggs is enough to make many want to skip the meal. But not having breakfast is terribly unhealthy and it's one of the best meals of the day  - so it seems a shame to miss out.
On days like this I think it makes sense to reach for the smoothie machine and rustle up a re-freshing fruity, oaty smoothie.
Packed full of vitamins and anti- oxidents - the Strawberry and Raspberry breakfast smoothie is a great and easy way to start the day. Simple to wip up and a favorite to have on a sunny spring day before heading out the door or on a lazy summer's day brunching with friends.

  1. Simply take a stash of strawberries and raspberries that have been frozen, place in a smoothie maker and add some water. Both of these summer fruits are packed full of antioxidents. 
  2. Tip in a handful of oats and if you're feeling very  healthy add some ground flax seed mix in too. Oats are a great source of energy and fibre and flax seed contains plenty of nutrients, omega-3 fatty acides, minerals and essential vitamins.  
  3. Whizz into a smoothie and serve.
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Monday, 15 April 2013

Bill's on Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill

Hungover? You got me!

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Bill's on a sunny spring day is a good place to go nurse a weary head. It's also a great place to meet up with friends, head with a date or grab a coffee.

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Found on Westbourne Grove and tucked between the array of boutiques, Aussie chef Bill Grainger has laid his breakfast roots deep into the street with a bustling restaurant that serves possibly the best eggs in town. Big statement!

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Bustling, busy and enough to kick start you into the day, gooey orange yolked cotsworld blue boiled eggs with freshly baked sough dough or a gigantic helping of buttery scrambled eggs placed on warm bread with melted butter poured over the top, followed by a strong cappuccino is enough to bring any man or woman back from a primitive state.

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And if eggs don't take your fancy tuck into the pastries, muffins or opt for a healthy brown rice and miso porridge! Go on, it's good.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Glasgow - a wee trip to the burley bustling city

Bustling, busy and bursting with character, a wee trip to Glasgow was in order after wind swept walks in the highlands.

Glasgow is a center of art, culture, music and history. The run down eye opening east and the artistic literary west, it's a great city where everyone smiles, portions of food are big and whiskey is drunk by the gallon.

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A sunny day and the Glaswegians fall into the streets, which is no surprise given the great shopping found along Argyle Street. Now I kid you not, Glasgow IS Scotland's shopping capital and one the best cities for shopping in the U.K, surprised?

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When the sun brakes out, crowds stroll down the ninteenth century Argyll Arcade with its Victorian glass roof, an architectural marvel in its own right.

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Bag pipe players are out in force piping away in the sunshine... no matter what age.

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And when the sun sets, a big bowl of haggis and a selection of whiskeys in one of Glasgow's traditonal pubs, the Ben Nevis is in order... a few of these and it all gets a wee bit wonky...

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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Fires, cards and warm food - The Byres Inn, Scotland

If you've read Monday's post you'll know that I've been on adventures in Scotland. From lochs to rough terrain, Scotland's drama and beauty left us feeling more than a little windswept.

After clambering across hills, meeting fury friends and sun bathing by small lochs we settled into a tiny inn, The Byre Inn. A small outbuilding by a farm nestled in the Trossachs, this pub is closed four months a year. The savage winter means its hard to access and given that few people in their right minds would choose to day trip out, the tiny bolt hole rests through the winter and opens its doors come the spring.

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With a warm log fire, game cards and pints of Scottish ale - it's hard not to fall in love with this traditional old pub. Famous among those in the know for its local cooking with a menu that dishes up haggis, hare and venison. 

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You wouldn't be surprised to see a local huntsman stroll through the door thumping down a string of rabbits on the bar!

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