Sunday, December 29, 2013

Post-Christmas Curry

 Having spent the last few days eating rich and traditional food, my taste buds were more than ready for a change of scenery!  In comes the curry...but not, I hasten to add, a turkey curry.  The turkey left-overs went in a risotto with bacon and peas and the left-overs of that went into a leek and turkey soup.  Anyway, one of my resolutions during my long summer break was to attempt to learn to cook some proper Indian curries.  For a variety of reasons that didn't come to pass, so, I was chuffed to be given Rick Stein's India as a Christmas present.  I spent a very hungry hour browsing through the recipes and decided as I'm a bit of a curry novice, I'd start with something very easy - a chickpea curry, or as it's more properly known, Chana Masala.  It was quite easy, it's time-consuming, more just because you have to measure out lots of spices etc.  I substituted the two green chillies for two red ones and maybe that was a mistake (although it was all I had!) because it was blisteringly hot to eat, so I'll go a bit more cautiously next time.  Anyway, it was delicious despite that and had a cleansing effect on the palate after Christmas dinner et al!  However, the best bit of the meal was the basmati rice!  That's because I always have problems cooking it and usually end up with a plate of stodge.  Not so following Rick's instructions; now I can cook a proper pilau rice that doesn't need to be used in place of grout for the bathroom tiles!  Anyway, here are some pics, they aren't that great as I took them on the iphone, in the evening!

The raita was a last-minute addition to attempt to take away the heat of the two chillies!  Anyway, it's back to the left-over, left-over turkey for tonight's supper...what to cook...?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know that us Brits aren't traditionally 'Thanksgivingers' (totally made up word!) but I say anything that brings people together to eat, drink and be happy, is a tradition I want to muscle in on...So although my extended family won't be able to make it for dinner, here's what I would serve them if they could...



  • French baguette, sliced and toasted
  • Prosciutto
  • Buffalo mozzarella, sliced thin
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • Salted Butter


1. Butter slices of French baguette and toast under the broiler until golden. Set aside
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. In a small skillet melt butter over medium low heat. Add fresh sage leaves and cook until sage is crispy and butter begins to brown in bits on the bottom of the pan. (you may need to remove sage before butter is browned).
4. Top toasted bread with prosciutto and cheese. Bake at 375 until cheese begins to melt.
5. Remove from oven and spoon browned butter over crostini. Top each with a crispy sage leaf or two.
6. Serve while hot! Enjoy.

These delicious morsels are exceedingly moreish and the brown butter dressing literally elevates the dish to something else altogether.  Serve with a cold glass of prosecco before moving on to the main event....


This recipe hails from Sweet Paul Magazine and combines the sweet flavours of maple syrup and apricots to create a glaze that will give your turkey a magnificent bronzed hue, as well as tasting pretty good too!
Of course, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie and my final offering would be a ginger-crust version served with cream, crumbled with amaretti biscuits to finish it off.

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart Living, gorgeous photo by Chelsea Fullerton

Here's wishing everyone celebrating a very happy, drink and be merry... 

image sources1,2,3

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm dreaming...

Of this cozy French villa.  Having just booked a holiday with the girls for next summer in the South of France, these gorgeous pictures have made me yearn for sunshine, lazy days by the pool, warm evenings eating and drinking ... sigh...they certainly brightened my day, this grey, damp London evening.

 Imagine sitting here, eating figs and drinking wine, looking out over the sea...
 I love the pale palette with bright accents of pink
 and turquoise

 Oh, how I want to wake up to this view; imagine waking with the sun on your face and the salty smell of the shore 

 Then taking a leisurely swim in the beautiful aqua blue waters of the pool

 before retiring with a good book to the shade

All images: Decoist

Monday, November 11, 2013

Link Love

1.  If like me you're a bit of a secret (or not so secret!) cheese lover, then check out these two helpful guides on how to choose your cheese.  I think my top tip would always be to firstly find a really great cheese shop - I go to Hamish Johnston on the Northcote Road in South West London and my second tip would be to keep trying new cheeses and keep a note of those you like and why.  Anyway, have a look at The Reluctant Gourmet's guide to buying cheese and Cupcakes and Cashmere's handy chart.  Then go buy cheese...

2.  I am totally in love with this DIY pearl earring tutorial 

3.  Brussels Sprouts - you either love them or hate them, either way, give this easy recipe for smoky, lemony brussels a go..

4. I've always hankered after an Ottoman to use as a coffee table and these have fuelled the fire even more!
5.  Writing your novel? check out this from my latest blog love Novelicious
6.  Still on the novel theme, one from the archives on NaNoWriMo

Have a good week! 

image sources: 2/3

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday Words - On Underwear

Something frivolous, because sometimes that's exactly what the Dr ordered...

Your granny was right!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Little bit of Life Lately

You know when Life sometimes gets in the way of itself?  When one domino goes and before you know it you're picking up the pieces of the entire line?  That's how life's been for me over the last few months as I've encountered family crisis after crisis, so apologies for such little activity on the blog.  To be honest, life lately has mainly been about hospital appointments, visiting in hospitals, getting results in hospitals but in the midst of that there has been a trip to the beach; a night 'on the toon'; and a trip to a flea market.  Here's hoping that things can only get better...

The Sage, Gateshead, Sir Norman Foster's amazing creation

How I love this bridge 

The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and a wonderful gallery wall at Gusto Newcastle

The fabulous roof at Tynemouth Station, now a listed building and home to one of the most vibrant markets in the North East.

Tynemouth Longsands

Black and White prints from a talented photographer with a stall at Tynemouth market.

Gorgeous teacups, a steal at £10 for 6
(another market find)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lust Have - Mulberry Suffolk

My love of Mulberry is well-known and I was eagerly waiting for the unveiling of their new Spring/Summer 2014 Collection at London Fashion Week.  I wasn't disappointed either with their Autumn/Winter Campaign shoot, the location, the whimsical props and of course the launch of a new bag that's bound to take it's place amongst other Mulberry iconics - the Mulberry Suffolk.

Available in a range of gorgeous colourways, it features a vintage inspired structured frame top that harks back to the era of very proper English handbags.  In fact, it reminds me greatly of a bag that my grandmother had when I was growing up, and she was very proper and very English and very tea on the lawn with the best silver! All good connotations for me.  This bag has the usual signature postman's lock and can be worn either over the shoulder, as it has a detachable strap, or in the hand.  The expected attention to detail can be seen from every angle and is joining my ever-growing wish list of Mulberry bags.

Okay, swooning put aside for now, let's just have a quick look at their Campaign shoot for Autumn/Winter.  Held at Shotover House in Oxfordshire, it demanded a real tree to be constructed within a large and grand drawing room and was perfectly delivered by Shona Heath, set designer.  They used real owls to help Cara Delevigne showcase the new collection and it's just quite simply, stunning.

How breathtaking is this?  Have you been following London Fashion Week?  What's been your favourites?

All images, Mulberry

Thursday, September 05, 2013

My Digital Day

We all spend so much time at our computers, whether it be a laptop perched on said lap, or ensconced at a desk, that I thought it would be interesting to track what I did in a day...So here goes
I clicked on Mulberry's Agenda refills for my adored organiser and bought two lots.  Downloaded Kim Caterall talking about her new play on Women's Hour R4.  I also watched How to be a Powerful Woman which is where powerlister woman  share their experiences, advice and philosophy for a successful working life....I clicked voyeuristically on Kate Bosworth's wedding pictures in Martha Stewart's Real Weddings section (I know!  I didn't say it would all be intellectual....)and downloaded two books for my kindle The Sea Sisters and The Shaman in Stilletos.  As the day went on I did an on-line grocery shop and caught up on a couple of blogs, The Free People and Pure Vegetarian by Lakshmi which always has THE most divine foody shots ever.  Somehow, in between that lot, I did some work and got on with life away from the computer...

What 's your digital go-to?

image source1

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blueberry Lemonade

I love blueberries.  The contrast of textures, from firm skin to soft squashy flesh; the colour that leaks and stains and I'll eat them in, on anything, as well as by the handful from the fridge.  So when I saw this recipe recently it was a new way to enjoy.  So here's what you need to make a drink that you can sip as the summer days grow shorter...
Sparkling Blueberry Lemonade
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup fresh lemon juice (6 to 8 whole lemons)
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 pints blueberries, pureed and strained (use a muslin or just strain through a fine seive)
1/2 cup St Germain (elderflower liqueur)
2 cups sparkling wine
fresh blueberries
1. Place lemon juice, sugar and 3 cups water into a pitcher and stir until sugar dissolves.
2. Add blueberries, elderflower liqueur and refrigerate.
3. When ready to serve, top with sparkling wine, ice and fresh blueberries. Stir and serve.

Easy huh!  I might serve this with my griddled peach and burrata crostini's..
images: here

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Musical bequests

Just of late I've been thinking a lot about mortality and how life as you know it can change on the flip of a coin; the things that you take for granted gone, or changed irrevocably.  This train of thought led me to thinking quite a lot about my childhood and memories that I cherish.  Then one day in the car I was listening to a radio programme where Caroline Quentin was talking about two pieces of music - one that she inherited from her mother and one that she wants to bequeath to her own children.  It was a very moving piece and got me thinking along the same lines and I asked myself the questions...what music did my parents pass on that has resonance for me and what would I like to leave my children?  This is what I came up with:

Whenever I hear this rag, I'm transported back to summer evenings in our childhood home in Newcastle.  We had a piano in our front room and both my parents and my sister and I played.  I actually hated my piano practise, but enjoyed the fun of playing duets with my mum.  My overriding memory of these summer evenings is of lying in bed listening to my dad playing Scott Joplin rags into the evening as the sun went down.  The Maple Leaf Rag was one of his favourites and he practised it over and over to get it right.  Occasionally I'd creep down the stairs and sit on the bottom step watching my Dad play, the late evening sun glancing off the windows and I'd watch the dust dance in its warm haze.  Somehow, the music and the proximity of my parents, coupled with warm summer nights, made me feel secure and ensconced in family love.  I remember drifting off to sleep with the piano music drifting under my door.  I've never felt as cocooned in love and security as I did then.

What would I choose to leave to my children? I have agonised over this actually - should it be classical? should it be trendy? Will they cringe over my music choices?  What message do I want to give them through the music?  After much deliberation I came up with this:

I love this track unapologetically!  It reminds me of being a teenager; full of dreams and hopes; full of certainty and aspirations. Now when I listen to it, it continues to instil in me that flicker of desire, an anticipation of good things to come; for me it's a reminder that no matter how dark the clouds, the sun is always shining above them.  I hand this over to my children to remind them that no matter what life throws at you, there is always hope, there is always sunshine to be found and there is most definitely always a blue sky somewhere... 

I'd love to know what music you've inherited and what you'd pass on to others?

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Summer Nibbles ~ Griddled Peach and Burrata Crostini

 I was wandering round my local supermarket recently and came across Burrata.  I naively thought it was just 'posh' mozzarella which I guess in a sense it is, but boy is it delicious!  It hails from the Puglia region of Italy and is produced from Buffalo milk, rennet and cream.  Burrata means buttered in Italian which gives a good indication of how it tastes.  At first glance it looks like a normal ball of mozzarella, the casing is firm to the touch, however, when you break into it, it's interior is soft and gooey with stringy curd and cream.  If you're a lover of mozzarella, ricotta, marscopone and the like, you'll LOVE this cheese. 

So, to the recipe.  I'm often disappointed by the flavour of peaches.  Usually because they're not locally produced and have been ripened en-route from some far-flung land; this recipe then encourages the flavours to blossom and if you're lucky enough to find peaches that sing with flavour then this will taste even better:
You'll need:
Olive oil
French baguette or sourdough loaf
1 bunch basil
2 balls burrata
4 peaches, sliced
4oz thinly sliced prosciutto
balsamic vinegar
To make:
1.  Slice bread and brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
2.  Place under grill, turning until golden both sides
3. Brush your sliced peaches with a little oil and place on a hot griddle (this ensures you get those lovely lines) turning as necessary.
4.  Assemble by topping each crostini first with basil leaves, peach, a tablespoon of burrata and a thin slice of prosciutto.
I like to drizzle balsamic over the top and maybe a bit more freshly ground pepper.  Serve with a very cold glass of prosecco.
What are your favourite summer nibbles? 
images: 1,3,4,5,6; 2