All I Want For Christmas Is . . .



I’m kidding. Sort of. Because in actual fact, the one thing I hate about Christmas is its material nature and the commercialism. I am a regular old Scrooge when it comes to “holiday cheer/spirit” (phrases I detest). Christmas is the season to buy loads of useless rubbish, apparently. I love the giving, but only if it’s useful. Last year I knitted all my presents.

So why a Christmas-themed post? Because I’ve stumbled upon one Christmas goodie you’ll definitely want to get your hands on: A PIE IN A JAR.


How To Be A Great Girlfriend


I wasn’t going to post this recipe for a couple of days, but I just had to. You’ll soon see why. The other day whilst I was talking to David he told me that he had a recipe for me that I absolutely had to try out because it was just so incredibly phenomenal. He was just raving about it like crazy.

David’s best buddy is called Paolo, and he’s allergic to gluten. His girlfriend Robin, who is also David’s housemate, decided to find a gluten-free cake recipe to make just for him, because she is awesome like that. I should also note that I have never met Paolo or Robin, but heard so much about them (plus David’s other Canadian friends) that I almost feel like I have. Almost. Anyway, Robin found, with the help of her Momma, a gluten-free quinoa chocolate cake recipe, and, true to David’s word, it is awesome. Now is that a great girlfriend, or what?


Why I Am Not A Baker


So a few days ago I discovered a little deli next door to where I work. It’s pretty ridiculous that I’ve only just discovered it seeing as I used to live ten minutes away from there, walked up and down that road a million times, and have worked three or four doors up from it for just over a year now. But then I’m not the sharpest tool in the box, sometimes.

Whilst waiting for my ride I was wandering up and down the road, saw the deli and sauntered in for a gander. They had olives, a few cookies, some vegan delicacies, and a few random imported jars of interesting looking sauces. Then I saw a little jar of guava jam. I. Love. Guava. I deliberated for only a moment before deciding that I had to have it, despite the fact that I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I also had a quick chat with the owner, Antonio, who was absolutely lovely and thought it was hilarious that I studied one field, worked in another and was trying to move into another with no continuity between any of it. Thankfully, when I got home and was wondering what to do with my jam, a Twitter friend suggested that I make Guava Jam Linzer Cookies and so an idea was born. If only the idea had been better executed.


Let Them Eat Cake


I know, it’s almost unbelievable, an actual recipe from me?! Sorry it’s taken me such a long time, I’ve been super busy with recipe darevelopment of late, life and the mystery illness, and as a result haven’t been cooking much or taking any photos. Anyway, all of the food photos in this post were taken by the awesome David at a big dinner I cooked for him, but more on that later.

Baking is a very therapeutic thing, I find. I’ve probably said that before. Baking bread is the most therapeutic of all, getting to pound and knead your dough is a great energy release. But baking a cake is something that takes time, precision and thought. You have to concentrate on what you’re doing and give it your full attention, or what you end up with is a hot mess. This was exactly what I needed to do.

On Tuesday morning I took David to the airport to catch his flight out to Canada, pretty much permanently. It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, let go of somebody I care about, but it’s the best thing for him and I am really happy for him, even if I am sad for myself. We actually didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time together in his last week, because I was working, he was working, and he had to pack up his gear and organise himself for the big depart, but we definitely had Monday evening together, and I decided that I was going to make him a special pre-birthday/leaving dinner.


Have I Got Muffins For You


As promised, blueberry cream cheese muffins! But wait, that’s not all, not one, not two, but THREE variations! HO-EM-GEEZ. Yeah, I’ve been baking like a mad woman today.

So my very lovely Food Blogger buddy Monet is the most fantastic baker. I wish I lived in her kitchen. Seriously, I could just live under the kitchen table and every so often a hand would come up out from under the table and she could pass me a freshly baked cookie, or muffin, or cupcake, or pie… mhm. I’m getting carried away now.

ANYWAY. The point is that Monet makes beautiful baked goods, and she uses blueberries in a lot of her cooking, which makes me sooo happy because I. Heart. Blueberries. And when I had an idea brewing to make some blueberry cream cheese muffins, I of course had to turn to Monet and her wonderful repertoire. So this post is dedicated to her.


Mai Jauw Ish Schtuck


Thanks for all of the lovely comments over the past few days – sorry for the relative quiet from me, I’ve been super busy since I got results and haven’t had time to cook anything. Today, however, Jun has been over and we’ve made a few things from my new book Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa: Back To Basics. I bought this book because I looove Ina Garten, whenever she’s on the food channels I watch her obsessively. I love everything she does, she’s pretty much my domestic goddess hero.

Anyway, this book is incredible. Everything in it looks so good, and because it’s Ina I trust her and the way she describes what she does. Funnily enough, I saw her making these amazing sticky buns on her show and then found the recipe in my book. I kinda had to make them.

They’re really simple and easy to make and they taste phenomenal. Seriously. I gave one to Momma Lee and she gobbled up another one immediately afterwards. I’ll be cooking a few things from Ina over the next few weeks so expect lots more from her! I love Ina. Seriously. The only downfall? My jaw got stuck together from the stickiness so I couldn’t eat any more! I may or may not have stashed a few away for later, though…


Come Fly Away


So some pretty big news. I got my Uni results today and after four years of blood, sweat and tears (lots of tears) I am finally the proud owner of a BA in American & English Studies, classification 2:1. Absolutely over the moon about it.

When Jun came over last week we did a lot of baking, but our most nostalgic item were our Fairy Cakes. I remember Fairy Cakes from being little and going to children’s parties where they were served along with finger cucumber, ham & cheese and tuna salad sandwiches (always white bread, crusts cut off), cocktail sausages with ketchup (maybe this is why I don’t like the taste of ketchup – too much of it as a child), usually some sort of assorted biscuit selection (which always looked waaay better than it actually tasted), and orange squash that was either too dilute or too syrupy. Then the birthday cake was served, which was often in the shape of big pink ballet slippers (how I ALWAYS wanted to have my birthday cake in the shape of big pink ballet slippers) and I would almost always have some sort of crazy allergic reaction to the food colouring in said big pink ballet slippers, hence why my mother never got them for my birthday.

Anyway, despite that, these butterfly cupcakes are lovely. The originally recipe calls for a little double cream to be placed in the butterfly wing ‘cavity’ along with the jam, but we like to make them with buttercream instead (made with butter and icing sugar). This is the second time I’ve made them with Jun and for some reason they came out a little dry, so either cook for a little less time (we went for 30 mins) or increase the milk/butter amounts ever-so-slightly.

Also, you must use strawberry jam. That’s real jam, none of this jelly stuff. The difference between jam and jelly is that jam are fruit preserves, ie. real fruit, stewed with sugar for a very long time. Jelly is essence of real fruit, made into a gelatin-like substance and a disgrace to all breakfast foods. So now that we’ve cleared that one up… enjoy.


I’m Not Bluffin’ With My Muffins


After reading the ever lovely Monet’s, of Anecdotes & Apple Cores, blog post on her strawberry poppyseed muffins, I knew that exactly what I was craving were a few good muffins of the poppyseed variety.

I got thinking about a couple of good combinations and finally came up with this: orange marmalade, stem ginger and poppyseed.

Even better, I actually took photos of more than just the finished product this time! I KNOW. And they were just so pretty, too.


Summer, She Is Here


This week I officially finished all of my work at University (finally) and have spent the past couple of days drinking, drinking, and, er, drinking. I did make a lovely roast pork with beautiful potatoes dauphinoise last night, but um, I was drunk. So I didn’t take photos. Sorry.

HOWEVER. I do have something beautiful for you! The past few days have been super hot. I’m talking 30 degrees celsius hot. It’s been lovely. And today is my last day in the house I’ve lived in all year with my lovely housemates Jess and Nat, so I thought we should have a cream tea party to celebrate.

Cream teas are quintessentially British. Along with strawberries. And usually you have them when you’re sitting outside in a sunny spot which will quickly turn into a thunderstorm as soon as you take your first bite of the glorious scone, clotted cream and jam.


Gooey, Ooey, Delicious Brownies


Sorry for the lack of posts recently – I’ve been snowed under with Finals. Have a mini-break now before the last exam and last paper at the end of this next week, so catching up a little! Also, in case you didn’t know from me practically shouting about it to the heavens, my post David’s Pappardelle was recently selected to be one of Foodbuzz‘s Top 9! So thank you!

I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth. In fact, of all the candy in the world, chocolate is probably my least favourite. When I was at school and we had a tuck shop (I think this is a very British concept – it’s a school-run snack store that’s open during break (recess), lunch and after-school) all of my friends used to buy chocolate bars, and I would maybe buy a packet of crisps or a soda. I just didn’t get the appeal of chocolate – I don’t like the flavour that’s left in your mouth afterwards, or the sticky gungy feeling at the back of your throat. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the brownie. My experience of brownies were dry, big fat chunks of tasteless cake, a bitter cocoa flavour and distinct feeling of dissatisfaction afterwards.

That is, until very recently, when I discovered this brownie recipe which apparently was Katherine Hepburn’s family’s. I originally found it on Epicurious.com but have since adapted it slightly to make it mine. I would say that this recipe is fool-proof – both times that I’ve made it they’ve turned out perfectly – but when I gave it to my best friend to tackle whilst I baked some bread, she somehow managed to turn the whole thing into a giant, greasy slab of weirdness. So this might not be all that fool-proof, but it’s still easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.


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