Thursday, 31 March 2011

An Easter Gift

I have to thank the crafty girls over at the beautiful eighteen25 blog for this one. This will look so cute hanging in your kitchen (or wherever you like!) over the Easter holiday season. It's free to download here, then just print it off, frame, et voila! Instant -and free- Springtime chic. Clever ladies.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Pineapple, Blueberry and Coconut Smoothie

Miss P is not a morning person. Smoothies make my mornings that little bit better. And fruitier. Cut these into chunks... Add a handful of these frozen little balls of goodness....
2-3 big dollops of this......

Oh, and a drop of honey (approx 1 tsp). Now whizz it all together in a blender, push through a sieve to remove any little bits.....

And get ready to face the day. x

Sunday, 27 March 2011

I Heart Weekends

Well it's been a pretty action-packed one. Yesterday Toby and I went to a sunny birthday party for one of his friends from nursery. Then (in the manner of Clark Kent transforming into Superman, quick as a flash) I got all dolled up to go a much more adult birthday party for my friends Rene and Kelvin. Double life? Moi? They hired out Opium in Bath for the night (FYI-probably the sexiest bar in town, like a little underground Moulin Rouge/moroccan den), and we danced all night. Well, until the clocks went forward an hour for British Summertime...bad timing to have a party! Umm hello, how adorable are these cupcakes cunningly disguised as ice cream cones?

As you can see, the party mostly ended up on the street as it was soooo hot inside!

So today I was back with my darling, who happens to be a pretty good hangover cure. We went out in the sun, walked through the park, and met friends for a milkshake in town. Turns out, espresso milkshakes are also a good hangover cure...Toby had chocolate though, obviously...

....then a chilled Sunday evening involving takeaway, pyjamas, and snuggling. Monday, do your worst!

Thursday, 24 March 2011


I have a pine chair in my kitchen, that I'm planning to paint when I next have a sunny morning to myself...and I think I've found just the cushion for it. How goddang cute is this!
Available from Folksy, this Custard Cream Cushion is just £18. A snip for such a quirky addition to your kitchen.

Smoked Mackerel with Couscous Salad

Never underestimate the sophistication of a child's palate. Now obviously most kids would be happy to live on a diet of cheese, bread and potato, but trying new things can also be a fun and exciting adventure. Anyway, I learnt a lesson in this when I discovered that, at about the age of 18 months, Toby loved smoked fish. As in, he will peel the skin off and eat it whilst licking his lips. Can't get enough of it. So it taught me to always offer him new things to try, even if he has turned it down in the past, and never think that something is "too grown up for him".
So here's a lovely fresh, summery, smoked mackerel dish that's great for lunch or dinner. Simply warm the mackerel fillets under the grill, whilst preparing a simple couscous salad:

Cook the couscous according to packet instructions-it literally takes 5 minutes so is super speedy. You'll need approximately 50g per person. Leave to cool, then add some chopped fresh parsley, the juice from half a lemon, some salt and pepper, and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil.
I added salad leaves to mine, along with some cucumber and tomatoes. For Toby, I omitted the salad leaves (he still can't get his head around salad..) and served the cucumber and tomato alongside. This was actually the first time I got him to eat raw tomato, so in my sad little way it's been a productive day already!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Goats Cheese and Mushroom Omelette

If you like a lot of dairy in your breakfast, you'll like this one. If that's too much too handle in the morning, it would also make a great lunch. In fact, when is there not a good time for an omelette?
Firstly, clean and slice a good hanful of chestnut mushrooms. Now cook in a non-stick frying pan (you shouldn't need any oil) until softened-this will take about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and put to one side. Wipe the pan clean.
Whisk 3 organic free range eggs in a bowl, and add a splash of milk and some salt and pepper. Melt a knob of butter in the pan, add the eggs, and whisk the surface to help create a light fluffy texture.

Add the mushrooms back to one half of the omelette. Grate over some hard goats cheese. Of course you can use whatever cheese you fancy but, frankly, I'll use any excuse for a bit of goats cheese...

After about 5 minutes, and when the underneath has turned a lovely golden brown, fold the non-mushroomy half over the mushroomy half.
(I'm sure there was a more articulate way of describing that, but please don't judge me!)
The inside of the omelette should cook in the heat, but if it looks too runny, pop a plate loosely over the pan and this will help seal in the heat to cook it through.
Now serve with an extra sprinkling of cheese, if you feel in the need for cheese....

Friday, 18 March 2011

Steak with Garlic Butter and Sauteed Potatoes

Some may say it's too indulgent to cook yourself up a big fat rump steak for dinner. Frankly, it is. But it's damn good, and pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on your greedy little face.

I served my steak with some great little sauteed potatoes. Just wash and halve a few new potatoes, then boil in salted water for 15-20 minutes until just soft. Drain, and shake them up in the colander to scuff them up a bit. Now heat 1tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan, add the potatoes, 1/2 a tsp chopped fresh rosemary, some sea salt and black pepper. Saute, tossing frequently, for about 15 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
(Before any of this, you need to take your steak out of the fridge to allow it to come up to room temperature.)
When your potatoes have been in the saute pan for 5 minutes, you can start cooking your steak. Heat a drop of olive oil in a frying pan, then add the steak. For medium-rare, cook for 2-2.5 minutes each side. When the first side is done, flip it over and add 1 chopped garlic clove and a small knob of butter to the pan alongside the steak. You can also season at this point.
Now baste the steak with the butter using a spoon. After 2.5 minutes, take the steak off the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Serve the steak with the garlic butter poured over, and the potatoes alongside.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Tomato, Chilli and Butterbean Soup with Parmesan Croutons

Here's my own soup recipe that I love. The butterbeans add great texture and bite, and it has only a hint of chilli so is suitable for kids. This recipe will make 2 adult portions or 1 adult and 2 children's portions.

1. First, finely chop 1 small onion and 1 clove of garlic. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan, and gently soften the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes.
2. Add 1 tsp of freshly ground dried chilli (you can use fresh if you prefer), and cook for another minute, being careful not to let the chilli burn.
3. Pour in 1 tin of good quality chopped tomatoes. Re-fill 3/4 of the tin with water, and add this to the pan.
4. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
5. After 15 minutes, add half a tin of drained butterbeans. You can use the dried ones of you prefer, but they need to be soaked overnight then boiled for at least an hour, and frankly, who can be bothered with that?!

6. Now leave the soup to cool a little, then whizz (that's a technical term there) with a hand-held blender until smooth. Pureeing these butterbeans will thicken the soup, much as you would use potato or flour in some other soups.
7. You can then stir in the remaining half of the tinned butterbeans, leaving them whole.
Or you can get your trusty helper to do this....

Now, how about some homemade croutons? I actually first knocked these up when I only had stale bread to have with my lunch..they do say necessity is the mother of invention, and that's certainly true in the kitchen.

I used wholemeal bread for these, but white bread would work just as well, if not better.
Cut your bread into cubes. Heat a generous 2tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan. Get it pretty hot. Add the bread cubes, and toss them in the oil. They'll take about 6-7 minutes until they turn golden brown. Halfway through, sprinkle over a liberal amount of grated parmesan, and keep tossing.

Serve the soup with the croutons alongside for people to help themselves, and some extra Parmesan for sprinkling if you're feeling in the need for cheese.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Pancake Overdose

Ok, I couldn't help myself. Having been left with a sense of underlying guilt from forgetting Pancake Day, we went a bit crazy with the pancakes for brunch today.

I always use this basic pancake recipe from Delia, and after a few times you'll find you remember the quantities anyway so won't need to look it up.

Now I'm dealing with the consequences of a large three-and-a-half year old bouncing around with a sugar rush. We're off to the park so that he can run it off!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Cupcakes @ Camden

Today we met my friend Rene at a local cafe called Coffee@Camden. We were sampling their cupcakes, as Rene was ordering an obscene amount for her birthday party in a couple of weeks.
As you can imagine, Toby was very excited at the sight of these sugar-laden beauties...

He enjoyed the cupcake almost as much as he revelled in the attention from the ladies working there. They took photos of him for use when they get their website up and running. Just another day in the life of my handsome little boy!

Working that charm once again.. I think Rene is smitten!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Miso Love Sushi

So whilst the food blogosphere is full of varying pancake recipes to celebrate Pancake Day, what do I give you? Why sushi, of course. Call it Shrove Sushi. I don't know how this came to be, but I somehow completely FORGOT Pancake Day. Totally.
Anyway I can't be too broken-hearted, as I got to join my friend Stephanie for the best sushi in town. And I just hope this sad day doesn't leave a lasting impression on Toby or give him any repressed memories of Pancake Neglect.

So if you live near Bath, you have to try Yen Sushi on Bartlett Street. Don't bother with Yo Sushi, it's just nowhere near as good. This is where everybody goes. It's always busy, and my top recommendation is the Teriyaki Salmon. It's awesome.

I'm curious to know if anyone has tried making sushi at home? I kind of feel a themed dinner party coming on. Now I just need to practice my Geisha look...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Venison at Dyrham Park

I wasn't able to have as a wild a weekend as I'd hoped, so instead I embraced domesticity and took Toby and my Nan to a nearby National Trust sight, Dyrham Park. The sun came out for us, so actually I ended up really enjoying myself...although I'm almost certain I was the only person there between the ages of 11 and 30!

Can you spot Toby in the picture below?

And of course, after all that exertion we rewarded ourselves with a hefty venison stew, made with deer from the estate....

...and a bottle of Perry made from pears grown in the orchard. Just so I could feel a bit rock 'n' roll when I got home. Cheers, and happy Sunday!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Feta and Avocado Salad

It's been such a beautiful sunny day here in the good ol' west country. But the best thing about my day was this morning, when Toby and I discovered a little path leading to some wonderful country walks through the fields of Charlcombe.
And of course, after such a bracing and invigorating walk you've got have something wholesome for lunch. So here was my rather generous assembly of feta, salad leaves, organic tomatoes, steamed asparagus, avocado and kalamata olives, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

I'd love to say that Toby had the same, but he's not that good an eater yet! He had a houmous sandwich, but did wolf down the rest of the olives. That's my boy.
Anyway the sun's still shining so I'm going out for a few drinks with the girls. Hope you've had an equally sunny Friday x

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Patisserie Valerie, Mon Amour

I came for the free Wi-Fi....I stayed for the Mille Feuille!

Hello! Well I have to say I've missed you guys. The internet in my flat is taking an age to connect, so I thought I'd come and say a quick hello. And, in fact, I could have chosen a much less calorific destination, but who can resist the French allure?

On that note, it does also seem to be on the job description that you must be French to work here. Perhaps just so that you can pronounce Mille Feuille properly.
The move into our new place has gone well (I'm sure you're all dying to know), although it does say a lot about me that I'm sat in a cafe eating cake when I still have about 4 boxes of unpacked books at home...
Anyway hope you're all well. Miss P x


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