Saturday, 23 November 2013

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Raven

It's officially the season of pie. And gravy.

Which, if you're in Bath on a cold rainy night, demands a visit to The Raven pub for a Pieminister and a pint.

You can choose from a selection of pies and homemade gravies, and can have it with mash or chips (although who seriously chooses chips over mash when there's pie involved?) 

I'm not sure why I even bother looking at the menu as I always order the Beef Raven Ale Pie with Guinness and Red Onion Gravy (and mash, naturally) and a glass of Raven ale to wash it down.

Pair with a cosy jumper and a good friend, for a perfect Winter's evening.  

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Lunch with Friends

Today - lunch with some very dear friends. These boys could not possibly get any cuter than they were today.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Sausages with Warm French Lentils

Ahhh Autumn - the days get shorter, the evenings chillier, and cravings of sausages for dinner become infinitely more justifiable. 

This dish is one that I often find myself returning to at this time of year. It gives you all the curl-up-in-your-pyjamas-with-a-glass-of-wine comfort of sausages and mash, minus the feelings of over-indulgence afterwards. 

The lentils are cooked with onion and carrots, and dressed in a french vinaigrette. I also add some chopped spinach at the last minute, to up the nutritional content and make it a complete meal. I adapted the recipe from this original one by Ina Garten. If you have any lentils leftover, they'll make a delicious cold salad for lunch the next day. 

I won't give you any instructions for cooking the sausages - because that would be silly and, quite frankly, I expect more from you! But I will say this: I prefer to use good quality chipolatas for this recipe - they somehow make the whole dish a little more refined and, dare I say it, French. 

     Makes 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and 1/2-inch-diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup brown lentils or green Puy lentils
  • 1 whole onion, peeled finely diced
  • a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper


Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saute pan, add the onion and carrots, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 1 more minute, and then set aside.
Meanwhile, place the lentils and 4 cups of water (or vegetable stock, if you have it) in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender. Add the chopped spinach, as well as the onion and carrot mixture, for the last few minutes of cooking. Place all of this in a medium sized bowl and add the butter.
Meanwhile, whisk together the 1/4 cup of olive oil, the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour this over the lentils, stir well, and allow the lentils to cool until just warm, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. (The longer the lentils sit, the more salt and pepper you'll want to add, so beware of this).
I hope it soon becomes an Autumn staple in your kitchen! 

Monday, 11 November 2013

A Day to Remember

My Sunday involved: a sunny morning lie-in; a trip to the Vintage and Antiques Market in Bath, where I felt all Christmassy and nearly bought a make-your-own gingerbread house kit; an equally Christmassy and rather wonderful turkey, stuffing and cranberry pasty; some Christmas present shopping; and being very moved by the Remembrance Sunday parade through town, which made me both humble and thankful that any of the fun stuff I get to do is even possible. 

Lest we forget.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Banana and Bacon Waffles with Homemade Pancake Syrup

Well now, isn't this an indulgent looking breakfast? But I say if you can't allow yourself a little indulgence at the weekend then you really have to question your life choices.

We had our toasted waffles with good quality smoked streaky bacon, sliced banana, and my homemade syrup - if you can't bear the price of maple syrup sometimes then try making this, I think you'll love it:
  Simply put 1 cup (in American measurement - it equates to 250ml) of light soft brown sugar into a saucepan. Add just 3-4 tablespoons of water to the pan, then bring to the boil and leave it to boil for 1 minute - don't stir it or it may start to caramelise! Then remove from the heat, decant into a fancy jug, and there you have it - almost instant syrupy indulgence. Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Vitamin Boost

As much as I love this time of year, it's also the time when all sorts of horrible bugs and sniffles start to spread. So I'm keeping a bowl of satsumas out on the kitchen table to make sure that we remember to keep up our vitamin C intake. Good idea, right? 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Cupcakes and Cocktails

At the weekend, we made a pilgrimage across the the country to Norwich to join in my sister-in-law-to-be's hen celebrations. As much as I love her and was excited to be part of her special weekend, I have to be honest - the promise of an evening of cocktails and cupcakes was a major incentive!

After getting ready with a few glasses of Prosecco, we headed to TALC (Tea and Little Cakes) in the centre of Norwich - an adorable cafe that holds private cupcake decorating parties in the evenings. I didn't know what to expect, but I have to say I was impressed - we were greeted on arrival by a long table laid with freshly made cupcakes, piping bags of different coloured butter-creams, pots filled with paintbrushes and icing pens, shape cutters, and tubs of edible glitter. It was like a baking enthusiast's wet dream.

Just as the giggling excitement in the room was beginning to feel palpable, jugs of cocktails were served - including a delicious pear, elderflower and limoncello concoction. We then took our places to begin our session, which turned out to be something of a masterclass in decoration, as our friendly instructor managed to keep us quiet long enough to show us some tricks of the trade. 

The best way of making us concentrate, of course, was adding the competitive element - and with the promise of a bottle of bubbly to the winning cupcake, things suddenly got serious.  

(Just kidding - it's very hard to be serious around so many cupcakes)

Halfway through the proceedings the chef brought out a generous array of canapes, including sticky pork skewers, fresh crusty bread with homemade houmous and tapenades, mini samosas and pesto and mozzarella toasts. It was just the energy boost we needed for the final 'freestyle' round!

I was extremely proud of my little box of creations, but I have to say that my other favourite was this striking resemblance to the happy couple - made by the bride-to-be herself. And they really are as happy in real life as they are in their cupcake alter egos. 

Thanks to the lovely staff at TALC for a very silly - yet strangely informative - evening. And thank you to Lucy for being such a gracious hen (you know you loved wearing that veil really!) x


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