Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Smashed avocado with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. On sourdough toast. With balsamic glaze. One of my favourite little lunches.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Blueberry and White Chocolate Muffins

This recipe comes with an(other) apology. With my dissertation deadline looming ever closer, I'm afraid blogging has taken a bit of a back seat...so has cooking, for that matter. But last week saw my final EVER lecture, so I'm now studying from home and trying not to get too distracted by a) the sunshine b) trashy TV or c) cleaning the oven, aka anything that seems more appealing than sitting at my desk. 

To celebrate our last lecture, I took in a batch of these muffins. They went down well - although a bunch of sleepy students at 9am will probably appreciate any snack given to them. They're perhaps not as healthy as your average breakfast muffin, so leave out the chocolate if you like, or eat with abandon as they are: 

Makes 12 muffins

150g self raising white flour
100g self raising wholemeal flour
100g caster sugar
1 tao bicarb of soda
1 medium free-range egg
250ml milk
90ml vegetable oil
150g blueberries
200g white chocolate, broken into chunks

Heat the oven to 180°C.
Combine and mix together all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, except for the blueberries and 150g of the white chocolate. Try to do this in as few movements as possible, otherwise you'll knock all the air out of the mixture.
Using a metal spoon, stir through the blueberries and chocolate.
Pour the mixture into a 12 hole muffin tin lined with paper cases, and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. You can check with a skewer to see if the centres are cooked.

Remove from the oven, take the muffins out of the tray and leave to cool on a wire rack. 
Meanwhile, melt the remaining 50g chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water - or in the microwave, on a VERY LOW setting for no more than 30 seconds. I burnt my first batch by forgetting Mary Berry's wise words: "chocolate will melt in a child's pocket". Oh Mary, why did I forsake you?

When the muffins are cool, embrace your inner artist and drizzle the melted chocolate over them in a fancy way. Leave to cool and harden.    

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Baked Rosemary Polenta Fries

Confession: I had to Google (or 'google' - is google a verb nowadays?): "Is polenta a carb?" in the making of this post.

Does that sound stupid? Carbs are a confusing place.

Well it turns out that polenta is a wholefood, and one of those 'good carbs' that is full of fibre and protein. So we can feel good about that. 

We can also feel good about cutting it up and pretending that it's potato.

These crispy fries are actually baked not fried, giving them more healthy little brownie points. They're also wonderfully easy to make, even more so if you use ready-made polenta.

If you're using the grain from scratch, just cook it according to the pack's instructions to make a firm polenta. The quantities I used were 100g polenta combined with 400ml water, a generous amount of grated parmesan, and approx 1 tsp dried rosemary. Heat in a saucepan for around 4 minutes until thick. Leave to cool a little, then turn out onto a flat surface and shape into a square-ish shape - this is quite a satisfying job if you do it with a few pats of your rubber spatula (!) 

Heat some olive oil on a tray, in an oven heated to 200 degrees. 

Slice your polenta into thick or thin fries, depending on what you fancy. I went for thick but would try thin next time, as the resulting fry has a firm texture that would hold it's shape well. 

Place onto the hot tray. Season with sea salt and black pepper, and toss to coat them in the oil. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and crisp.

Potatoes? Pah! 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sunny Sunday

This morning - Rene Humphrey and I grabbed some fresh orange juice and blueberry muffins from the Holburne Museum cafĂ©, and took a morning stroll along the canal. So nice to chat goals and plans for the future with this lady, she always inspires me. Oh and I think I got a little bit sun-burnt, which I didn't mind because it feels so good to have the sun back!  

Saturday, 8 March 2014


London is becoming something of a hotspot for burgers these days. Ever keen to try out new restaurants, there's a few that I've been wanting to visit for some time - from Burger and Lobster, to Byron, to US import Five Guys. On a recent visit we decided to tick one off the increasing list of 'best burgers in London' and headed to MEATliquor, in a convenient position near Oxford Street but positioned beneath a rather bleak looking car park. 

Don't let the exterior put you off, though. Once inside the restaurant, with its dark lighting, graffiti style paintwork on the walls, and jumbled mix of old wooden tables and leather booths, you feel as if the place has always been there. We liked the relaxed vibe and, unlike some places in London, it didn't feel like it was trying too hard to be hip - the best example of this being the unceremonious roll of kitchen paper on each table for diners to use as napkins! 

But of course, most importantly - the burgers were pretty near perfect. We both opted for the bacon cheeseburger, which came thick, medium rare and fried in butter (so wrong, yet so very right) and were generously topped with American style cheese, mustard, ketchup and pickles. The bun wasn't of the increasingly common brioche variety, but an old school soft white bun, lightly grilled in butter also (*drool*). A definite highlight for me were the fries, which - and this is a complement by the way - had the satisfying saltiness and crispness of a McDonald's french fry. The highlight for my partner was that the ice cold Buds were served in ice frosted glasses - and it's the little touches like that that will guarantee a return visit. And with the bill coming in at just under £30, it's pretty reasonably priced by the capital's standards.

Looks like next time we'll have to try and visit a few other places for comparison. Purely in the name of research!

Where are some of your favourite places to grab a burger in London? 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sunday Morning

A Sunday morning treat.
Croissants are allowed if they're teeny tiny, right?

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Better Food Company

One morning after a particularly late night out in Bristol, I decided to cleanse myself with a quick stop at The Better Food Company in the St Werburgh's area. 

Although all my body was craving was a dirty burger, it did lift my spirits a little to browse the aisles of organic and wholefood produce, and buy myself a few things. The store also sells lots of locally produced items, from West Country cheeses to sausages from nearby farms. I was also craving sausages by this point. If you do find yourself peckish, there's a welcoming little cafe and deli on site.

The store has a delightfully stocked scoop-and-fill area, filled with anything you could need whether its rice, oats or lentils. I scooped up some very reasonably priced 'deluxe muesli', and could feel my body thanking me already!

There is also a (somewhat excessive, if you ask me) selection of rice cakes. But I was excited by all the crackers, so who am I to judge?

I couldn't resist these hazelnut waffles, nor could I ignore the chia seed superfood trend any longer. I have no idea what to use them for though, so I'll just be off googling that now. 

Here's to Spring and all its health and vitality!

(Disclaimer - I'm going to a 'beer and hot dog night' tomorrow - so here's to everything in moderation!) 


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