Name: Jenny

Posts by Jenny:

    Lifestyle: What I Eat In A Day

    January 17th, 2018

    If you look at my youtube history I am guessing at least half my watched videos are ‘what I eat in a day’ ones.  Maybe it’s because I like to fool myself into thinking that if I watch people making healthy food choices it’s as good as me making them too right?  I’ve never done one of these myself as we’ve yet to buy instagram-worthy tables (we’re saving pricey furniture purchases until after we’ve bought the flat so we can invest in pieces that fit the space) to take beautiful photos on.  But this morning I though ‘screw it!’, there’s a lot more value in sharing real life so here is what I ate yesterday, no filters, pretty prop crockery or good lighting (this would definitely have been easier in the summer when there will be natural lighting for all, not just one of my meals!).  I’d like to think that this is a pretty good reflection of what my day to day diet looks like so far in 2018.

    Breakfast

    Around 7am – Kicking off the day with a lot of liquid.  I am pretty terrible at drinking anything at work so I try to get in as much as I can before I leave.  I don’t regularly drink orange juice in the morning unless I feel a cold coming on then it’s a tasty, indulgent way to boost my vitamin C.

    8am – Throw my breakfast and lunch into my bag and run out to work.  In an attempt to drink more I usually pack a 700ml BPA free bottle and today I’ve thrown a selection of teabags in too *spoiler alert* I didn’t use either of them today.

    8.30-9am – I get to work, throw the moka on the stove (a ridiculously easy an environmentally friendly way to make coffee) and drink my favourite snickerdoodle smoothie.  I’m going to be pretty disappointed when I run out of vanilla protein powder as I’m trying work towards only eating ‘real food’.  It gives smoothies a delicious richness that tastes exactly like cake batter.  In a couple of weeks I will have to try and find a whole food alternative.  This smoothie tastes like a spiced biscuit and feels like more of a treat in the morning than a quick way to eat oats and a banana.

    Lunch

    1pm – I’ve been trying to bring my own lunch to work since I started suffering from stomach aches last year.  Every day I pack a simple salad (there’s a great selection of vinegars at work  for dressings), a spoonful of miso for a probiotic boost and a piece of fruit.  I’ve had a lot of sandwiches recently purely for ease but I am wondering if comercial, unfermented bread is adding to my stomach issues so I am going to try cooking extra carbs the night before and having that instead.  This was rice cooked by the absorption method in homemade chicken stock which some leftover shredded chicken thigh on top.

    Starters

    7pm – As I mentioned in my New Years Goals post I am drinking a cup of homemade chicken broth everyday as it is meant to help soothe and repair your digestive track.  I usually have it whilst I am cooking dinner.  It’s delicious, and not a chore at all.

    7.15pm – Brought home a couple of boxes of cauliflower cores leftover from making pickles at work last week.  There was so many everyone took back so much.  I’ve really enjoyed hearing what everyone made with them, there’s been a puree served with roasted sausages, cauliflower cheese with three different cheese and a cauliflower, leek and potato soup.  I made the cauliflower and stilton soup adapted from the RIverford cookbook and after packing it all away for future meals there was a bowlful left so Dan and I had a small bowl each as a starter.  We rarely ever do this, it was just easiest option to use it up.  I omitted any of the cream and only used a small amount of stilton so it wasn’t too rich and fatty.

    Dinner

    7.30pm – One of my favourite dinners, White Beans with Fennel and Ham from Georgina Hayden’s Stirring Slowly.  I made a huge pot of this at the beginning of the year (about 14 peoples worth) portioned it out and froze it for midweek meals.  It’s so nice to come home and just have to reheat something quickly for dinner.  I grabbed a loaf of wholemeal sourdough from the bakery next to work and served it with some kale sauteed with garlic and dried chilli.  I’ve been trying to eat dark leafy greens everyday as it helps with quantity and variety of good bacteria in your gut.  This is the way I usually prepare it, it’s quick and really tasty, and most importantly it stops Dan from complaining about being served kale.

    After Dinner

    7.45pm – Swallow a handful of supplements.  A multivitamin/probiotic for any extra nutrient help I can get, and turmeric tablets as an anti-inflammatory.  As I’ve shared a few times on here, I suffer from eczema and ingesting turmeric can help with that. I really hate the taste of it so I take it in capsule form.  Turmeric is better absorbed and more effective when taken with fats and black pepper which is why I take them after my evening meal as I make sure it contains both those elements.  The last tablet is echinacea, I don’t take this every day, just when I feel like I might be coming down with a cold.  It’s probably just a placebo effect but I feel like I have been ill less this year, and that’s saying a lot as I usually pick up every germ fellow TFL users like to cough on me.

    8pm – Finally decaf tea and chocolate, I’ve been working my way through the mounds of amazing Christmas chocolate that’s been leftover and sadly it’s almost come to an end.  When it does I will be back to my favourite dark chocolate bar, it’s so rich that I can usually only eat a square or two to appease my post dinner sweet cravings.

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    Recipe: Waffles and Mixed Citrus

    January 10th, 2018

    In 2017 I got into a not so healthy weekend breakfast routine. First thing Saturday morning (sometimes eyewatering early if I’d left it late when booking a slot) the lovey Ocado man would deliver (amongst other things) a packet of bacon, punnet of eggs and a rather shameful loaf of thick cut white bread. I would scramble, still half asleep to make a mound of sandwiches and mugs of tea before retreating back to bed. Snuggled under the duvets I would devour my feast whilst catching up on my favourite youtubers (usually The Anna Edit, Try Guys, Sarah’s Day, and Buzzfeed Unsolved). It was GLORIOUS!

    RA_JB_Nov17_Citrus_2562_Waffles Blog

    Don’t get me wrong there is no way on earth I am completely ditching that routine. But I will probably reserve it for once or twice a month, not once or twice a week. I love a special weekend breakfast to break up the monotony of my week day snickerdoodle smoothies. In an effort to shoe horn in a little extra fruit and veg in my diet I’m trying to make sure I have at least one portion with breakfast (that’s an extra 7 portions a week so not to be sniffed at!).

    Waffles can take a little time to make, but freeze well so you can make a large batch in advance and still enjoy a lazy Sunday morning. Peeling and slicing the fruit whilst not necessary does make for a show stopping serving. The original recipe from Nigella calls for 3 tbsp of sugar in the batter, I am inclined to leave this out as you can always sweeten with honey afterwards and this gives you the option for a savoury waffle if you freeze some of them. Because there is nothing quite like bacon and eggs for a hangover!

    RA_JB_Nov17_Citrus_2523_Opener Blog

     

    photos by Rosie Alsop food styling by me

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    Waffles and Mixed Citrus

    Waffle recipe from Nigella Lawson - At My Table serves 4 plus some leftover waffles

    Ingredients

    450ml milk

    3 large eggs, yolks and white seperated

    125ml vegetable oil

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    225g plain flour

    2 tsp baking powder

    3 tbsp caster sugar - optional

    Small pinch of salt

    1 grapefruit, peeled and thinly sliced

    1 navel orange, peeled and thinly sliced

    1 clementine, peeled and thinly sliced

    150ml Greek yoghurt

    4 tbsp chopped pistachios

    Honey to serve

    Instructions

    1. Heat the waffle iron according to instructions, oil if needed. Preheat the oven to 120C and place a cooling rack on one of the shelves.
    2. Beat together the milk, egg yolks, oil and vanilla together in a large jug and set to one side. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry whisking until there are no lumps.
    3. In a very clean bowl (you can wipe the inside with a little vinegar or lemon juice to make sure) beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
    4. Slowly, using a metal spoon fold the egg whites into the waffle mixture. You are trying to get an even consistency without deflating the egg whites too much.
    5. Spoon the waffle batter into the iron until the bottom is just covered. If you are using a hob top iron cook for 1 minute, then turn the iron over and cook for a further 2 minutes. If you are using an electric waffle iron cook for 4-5 minutes.
    6. To keep the waffles warm place on the cooling rack in the oven. This will also help crisp up the outside.
    7. Serve hot with mixed sliced citrus fruit, a dollop of yogurt, sprinkled with pistachios and a drizzle of honey.
    http://www.bake-online.co.uk/2018/01/10/recipe-waffles-mixed-citrus/

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    Lifestyle: 2018 Goals

    January 3rd, 2018

    Happy 2018! Is there anything more hopeful that the beginning of a new year?  The clean white pages of a new bullet journal ready for a years worth of plans.  The belief that this year I will actually stick to my goals for the year…

    I’ve seen a trend of the term ‘self care’ in resolutions shared on social media and that has been an idea at the forefront of my aims for 2018.  Like most of the things in my home, my resolutions for the year are revolving around my kitchen.  Here are a few of the goals I have set myself for the year ahead.

    Eat Real Food

    I often say that my introduction to learning to cook was when I discovered that eating tomatoes covered me in red lumpy eczema.  I realised that I couldn’t eat any of the jar and packet food I had relied on to feed myself throughout university so I had to work out how to make my favourite meals from scratch.   I thought that since then the majority of the food in my house was homemade.  But after taking off the rose tinted glasses and having a real look at the food in my cupboard and fridge I realised just how many manufactured staples I use on a daily basis.  Loafs of Hovis, tubs of chilled soup and can upon can of baked beans (for Dan not me) are all things that with a little effort (and for a lot less money) I could easily make myself.  The health benefits of reducing the number of unpronounceable chemical ingredients are no secret.  I don’t think I can honestly say that I could ever completely cut them out, or that I will be perfect every week but making my more food from scratch is something I want to work harder at this year.

    Be Good To My Gut

    Which leads to my next goal, better gut health.  Towards the end of 2017 I started getting really bad stomach aches.  Let me tell you, trying to prepare food for a photoshoot whilst not being able to stand up straight isn’t convenient.  I realised that one of the culprits was the food photography industries lunch time Deliveroo habit.  I couldn’t tell if I had introduced a new ingredient into my diet that was causing me pain because I had no idea what went into one of my main meals a day.  As soon as I started to bring in my own lunch (and dealt with the eye rolls and mutterings that went with it) I felt instantly better.

    That was definitely a good start but in 2018 I want to further improve my digestive system.  My aim for January is to do three things daily:

    1.  Have a cup of homemade bone broth to help soothe and repair.

    2.  Have a good source of probiotics to help replenish the good bacteria in my gut (I’ve started my own kombucha scoby and sourdough starter in line with my first resolution)

    3.  Have at least one portion of dark green leafy vegetables which have been shown to help support the growth and diversity of probiotics in your system.

    Create Less Waste

    Just before Christmas BBC Breakfast News covered a story about the increasing issue with rubbish.  How broken down plastic in the ocean was making its way up the food chain and had caused some dolphins milk to become so toxic it was killing their young.  Also that food waste sent to landfill cannot decompose properly and is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

    I am lucky to live in Hackney, an area that has a lot of waste lowering amenities that I usually ignore for convenience sake.  I have a community compost bin in my buildings car park, access to greengrocers, butchers and bulk buy stores where you can bring your own non plastic containers to transport your shopping home.  Whilst it will take me a little longer to shop than my usual 20 minutes on the Ocado app I know I have the time in my schedule, especially if I cut back on my Netflix habit.

    Does anyone have similar goals this year? Or have been living like this for a while and have some tips that could help me?

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    Recipe: Toffee Apples

    November 1st, 2017

    This is one of my favourite times of the year.  I love that as the first chilly nights roll in the traditions and parties begin and you get to spend the eight weeks until New Years enjoying spooky dressing up, fireworks, mulling every drink in sight and of course all things Christmassy.  The clocks changed in England at the weekend, making it dark before 5 now.  I’ve already strung up a few fairy lights around the flat to make it feel cosy and I overheard Dan telling his Mum on the phone that he’s feeling pretty festive.

    My somewhat embarrassing fear of all things horror makes me far more of a Guy Fawkes person than a halloween one.  Standing in a muddy field wrapped up in as many layers as possible, drinking mulled cider and watching fireworks is one of the best feelings in the world.

    RA_JB_FW_Sept17_AppleTest_1930_ToffeeApple_Black blog

    When I was a small child, whenever we went to any kind of fair or food stall I would always get a toffee apple.  The appeal wore off after a few sticky soft supermarket imitations, and they eventually slipped my mind completely.  I tried one of these at the photoshoot I made them for and I was immediately transported back to being 5 again surrounded by bright lights, the sounds of the popcorn machine and the sweet smell of the candy floss machine.  The thin layer of toffee audibly shatters in your mouth with every bite as apple juice drips down your chin.  I forwent the artificial cherry red food dye in favour of letting the beautiful tones of the apple shine through, for a slightly more mature version.

    Toffee apples are surprisingly simple to make as long as you remember to only stir the sugar at the beginning, I have ruined more than one batch in the past by stirring the pot as the sugar is caramelising causing it to crystalise.  Personally I wouldn’t attempt this recipe without a good thermometer.  I’ve tried the traditional in the past which works really well but I much prefer this digital thermometer.  Not only is it more accurate and you can set an alarm to go off when it’s at the right temperature, it is also thinner and therefore less likely to fall over.  And in the unlikely chance that it does fall and break it won’t leak dangerous chemicals over you and your kitchen.

    The jury is still out about whether you should wrap the end of foraged sticks in non stick baking parchment before inserting them into the apple.  Some people prefer it as it is more hygienic as it prevents the stick from touching the toffee apple.  Personally I think it looks really pretty but is unnecessary as the stick only touches the inside of the core which you don’t eat any way.

    RA_JB_FW_Sept17_AppleTest_1905_ToffeeApplePrep blog

    Photos by Rosie Alsop – Prop Styling by Faye Wears – Food by me

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    Toffee Apples

    Makes 8 small   Recipe from Lyles Golden Syrup  Always use a silver based saucepan for making caramel as it allows you to see the colour or the sugar changing more clearly which gives you more control. I’ve found the best way to clean the saucepan after making this is too pur a full kettle of water into the pan and bring to the boil on the hob. This quickly dissolves any leftover toffee and makes washing it up a lot easier.

    Ingredients

    8 small apples - I used braeburn

    400g golden caster sugar

    120ml water

    4 tbsp golden syrup

    50g unsalted butter

    Instructions

    1. Place the apples in a large bowl and pour over a full kettle of boiling water. Quickly remove the apples and place onto a drying rack. Using kitchen roll buff the apples until dry. This is to remove any wax coating from the apples which will help the toffee to stick.
    2. Line a baking tray with non stick baking parchment. Remove any stalks form the apples then press a foraged stick or lolly pop stick into where the stalk was making sure that it is secure. You don’t want the apples to fall off when you dip it in the caramel.
    3. Tip the caster sugar and water into a large heavy based pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved which takes 5 minutes.
    4. Add the golden syrup and butter to the pan and stir until melted and completely mixed in. Increase the temperature of the hob and bring the mixture to a boil without stirring. Stirring can cause the sugar to crystalise which would ruin the batch. Using a thermometer bring the mixture up to 149-154C (the hard crack stage).
    5. Allow the mixture to cool a little so the bubbles subside slightly, then carefully tilt the pan to one side and swirl the apples in the toffee one by one, allowing any excess to drip off the apple back into the pan before placing on the lined baking tray.
    6. If the toffee becomes too hard to work with quickly reheat the toffee to remelt it.
    7. Store the apples in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 24 hours, but I think they taste best a few minutes after dipping in the caramel once they have completely cooled and have the best crunch.
    http://www.bake-online.co.uk/2017/11/01/recipe-toffee-apples/

     

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    Recipe: Apple Pie

    October 26th, 2017

    Last week I almost bought a flat.

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    The whole thing was a whirlwind. It started as a ‘let’s just check out this open house and talk to an agent about the share to buy scheme’ and then rapidly turned into fast filing of tax returns, crash courses in mortgages and talks with financial advisors. This was all in the space of eight days!

    After catching our breath for a second, sitting down and calculating our finances on paper (well excel, it’s 2017 after all!) instead of hastily approximated sums in my head whilst simultaneously filling out forms and printing reams of bank statements, we realised this wasn’t our flat. It wasn’t a good financial investment for us, it wasn’t the right time.

    After all the excitement of those 8 days I feel utterly deflated. I’m not sure how much of it is to do with saying no to that specific flat (with it’s separate laundry room and whole apartment underfloor heating) and how much of it was wanting to cross something off the dreaded ‘ADULT TO DO LIST’. It’s hard not to feel the pressure of what you are meant to have achieved now I am in my 30s, even though the rational part of my brain knows that I am exactly where I need to be and bloody love the life and freedom I have now. That these are some of the best days of my life full of fun, adventures and few responsibilities.

    So, until my dream home with it’s white wall (ugh! So. Much. Beige. Here.) becomes mine I will comfort myself with the homeliest of desserts. The apple pie.

    Maybe I should be a little easier on myself, surely recognising and avoiding bad investments is the definition of being an ADULT.  Maybe I’m not doing as poorly as the irrational part of my brain thinks.

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    This is the only apple pie recipe I will ever use again.  The combination of spices has that wonderful autumnal scent, similar to the childhood memories I have of  McDonalds apple pie (before you take a bite, burn the roof of your mouth and realise it doesn’t actual taste of anything).  The real magic of this recipe is that by leaving the fruit to macerate overnight (where the sugar pulls the juice out of the fruit) and then making that juice into a syrup you accentuate the flavour of the fruit.

    Photos by Rosie Alsop – Prop Styling by Faye Wears – Food by me

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    Apple Pie

    Recipe adapted from Pies and Thighs Serves 8 Time 2+ hours plus overnight

    This recipe from Pies and Thighs is one of the best things I have ever baked. Those girls are geniuses. I wish I had had time to try it in person whilst I was in New York but the queue out the door didn't fit our schedule. But it is a testament to what brilliant bakers they are! When it comes to pastry I am sure that homemade is far superior to the store bought, but I have to admit that it can be a little more effort than I am willing to go to when I am on a time crunch with people coming over imminently. Maybe that will change when I have a dishwasher to take care of all the extra washing up it creates. When buying shortcrust pastry it’s always worth buying the blocks and rolling it to size as you can then make it a little thicker than the prerolled variety.

    Ingredients

    500g shortcrust pastry block

    1.5kg bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced.

    30g salted butter

    100g light brown sugar

    1 tbsp lemon juice

    2 tsp ground cinnamon

    Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

    Pinch of ground cloves

    2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting

    Few tablespoons of milk, or a beaten egg

    Instructions

    1. The night before you are baking the pie combine the apples, butter, sugar, lemon juice, spices and flour in a large sealable sandwich bag, pressing out as much of the air as you can as you close it. Give the bag a good shake to combine everything thoroughly then allow to macerate overnight.
    2. Drain liquid from the apples into a saucepan and simmer over a medium high heat, stirring consistently until the liquid has reduced by half and thickened. Stir through the apples and allow to cool.
    3. Whilst the fruit is cooling to room temperature, preheat the oven to 175C (155C Fan) and grease and flour your pie dish. Roll out half the dough to slightly bigger than the size of your pie dish. Carefully lay the pastry over the dish and cut round the excess so it only just hangs over the lip of the dish. Reserve any excess pastry for the design on the top. Roll out the second half of the pastry into a slightly smaller circle than before. Tip the cooled fruit into the pie dish and top with the second piece of pastry. Fold the excess bottom pastry up over the lid of the pastry and use your fingers to crimp the edges (watch this video from the 3.45 minute mark for the method).
    4. Using a sharp knife cut a few steam vents in the top of the pie, and attach any pastry decorations you like to the top. Brush with beaten egg or milk and place in the oven for an hour and 30-40 minutes.
    5. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
    http://www.bake-online.co.uk/2017/10/26/recipe-apple-pie/

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    Recipe: Vegan Grilled Wedge Salad

    July 19th, 2017

    Every year or so I go through a couple of weeks where I devour every pro-veganism documentary Netflix has to offer. Usually fanatical, filled with bold claims and uncomfortable footage of the origin of most supermarket meat it is the perfect kick up the butt whenever I feel the need to steer away from a reliance on my closest Turkish restaurant and back onto a more plant filled meal plan.

    I think there is a lot to be said for enjoying meat occasionally it’s absolutely delicious! But as a general rule for at home I try not to buy it and try to stick to a vegetarian food, or vegan if possible. Yes, in some part because mass farming is cruel and terrible for the environment, but mostly because meat is filling, and if you remove that and replace it with an equally satiating mixture of vegetables and legumes you are getting so many more nutrients.

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    This salad was concocted to replace my love of processed caesar salad dressing. It has all the best bits of the classic salad, lots of leafy greens, crunch and salty savouriness from roasted almonds instead of greasy croutons and bacon and a thick creamy dressing with just the right amount of tang. Griddling the lettuce is optional but the contrast between the soft hot lettuce on top and the crisp cold lettuce underneath makes this salad something special.

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    Grilled Wedge Salad

    Cook time -under 10 minutes Serves 2

    Ingredients

    2 pointy heads of lettuce (i.e. gem, cos or romaine) ends trimmed until white, and sliced in half vertically.

    4 tbsp creamy cashew dip mixed with 2-4 tbsp water until pouring consistency

    2 tbsp chopped roasted rosemary almonds

    Instructions

    1. Preheat a griddle pan until hot then lay the lettuce cut side down on the griddle pan and cook for 4-6 minute until char lines appear. Lay charred side up in a plate and drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Serve still hot.

    Notes

    Rosemary Roasted Almonds

    1 cup almonds 2 sprigs rosemary, torn into inch long pieces generous pinch of salt

    Preheat the oven to 160C fan. Scatter the almonds and rosemary pieces over a baking tray, and bake in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt whilst still hot. Wait until cool until eating.

    Creamy Cashew Dip

    ½ cup raw cashews, left to soak in water for at least 4 hours juice of one lemon half a clove of garlic, grated 1 tbsp tahini salt and pepper to taste

    Drain the soaked cashews then add to a small blender with the rest of the ingredients and 2 tbsp water and blend until smooth (you may need to add another tbsp or 2 of water if too thick).

    http://www.bake-online.co.uk/2017/07/19/recipe-vegan-grilled-wedge-salad/

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    My Top Five Favourite Cookbooks

    February 24th, 2017

    The one thing that has almost completely survived my incomplete love affair with The Magical Art of Tidying Up is my cookbook collection.  Curling up on my sofa with a hot mug of tea flicking through pages and pages of beautiful images and flavour combinations I would never have thought of is one of my favourite indulgences.  Truth be told I don’t cook from them nearly as much as I should do – but as my job is literally to cook recipes for book photo shoots I don’t feel at all guilty about my crowded book shelves.

    Last week in a flurried spring cleaning moment I pulled out all my books, cleaned the shelves, said goodbye to a couple I knew wouldn’t be missed and rearranged them so that the new books were just lying haphazardly and horizontally along the tops of the other.  When I reordered them (in colour order… I am dreading this trend becoming completely passe as it speaks so perfectly to my love of bright colours and occaisional leanings towards OCD) it got me thinking about which books I reach for more often than others.  I thought it would be fun to share my top 5, and the mood I am in when I pick them up.

    book 1

    For Beautiful ImagesStirring Slowly by Georgina Hayden – Laura Edwards is one of my favourite food photographers of all times, her work is light and feminine with a comforting lived in messy feel about them.  This book is an eclectic collection of recipes that perfectly encapsulates the London food scene at the moment.  The recipes jump from Indian to Vietnamese to Middle Eastern but an over riding theme of good quality fresh ingredients and a joy of eating running throughout.  I can’t wait to try her Almond, Oat and Raisin Cookie recipe they are meant to be exceptional (I think I know what I will be doing tomorrow morning…)

    For InspirationFive Quarters by Rachel Roddy – As soon as I flicked through this book I knew it had to be mine.  Roddy’s writing is absolutely exceptional.  Her paragraph on the perfect lunch of salted butter, radishes, anchovies and good quality bread had me running to the shops on my way home and is still one of my favourite lunches I’ve ever eaten and that’s not even venturing into her actual recipe writing.

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    For Savoury BakingThe Fabulous Baker Brothers by Tom and Henry Herbert – Whenever I get the urge to bake my own bread (which happened a lot more before I moved close to an exceptional bakery) this is the book I reach for without a doubt.  There language is accessible but informative and I really love that each chapter includes recipes for serving suggestions to go with the breads.

     

    For When You Don’t Want To Eat MeatA Modern Way To Eat by Anna Jones – I fell in love with Anna Jones in her introduction when she carefully and gracefully excluded herself from health food writers at the height of the ‘green goddess’ trend. She creates real dishes that just so happen to not use meat.  Her pale green double page spreads sprinkled throughout the book sharing how to build different recipes are a revelation for anyone who want’s to expand their own kitchen creativity.  I was lucky enough to meet her once after working at a supper club she attended and she was the sweetest person.  She gave me the biggest hug after I garbled through a nervous introduction like a teenage girl meeting a boyband (yes I have just lost any cool points I may have garnered).

     

    For Home Cooking InspirationMinistry of Food by Jamie Oliver – I didn’t grow up in a particularly foody or kitchen adventurous home, or area in general and this book is basically a trip down memory lane to the dinners I would eat as a child.  Whenever I want comforting ‘traditional’ home cooked British food (which could be a curry or chilli as much as a meat pie such is the vast scope of the suburban English dinner table) I reach for this book for inspiration.  I would recommend this for anyone who is a little unsure in the kitchen.  The recipes lack specialist ingredients and use limited equipment, it cements the basic of home cooking and helps to guide the reader away from prepackaged meals and sauces to making their own from scratch (which most of the time is barely any more effort).

     Breakfast Scene Photo by Rosie Alsop

     

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    Recipe: Tarka Daal

    February 15th, 2017

    Last week I had a slight rant about the kind of food I wanted to write about, and the type of content I thought would be most useful to people reading this site.  At the top of that list is how I have been trying to focus my weeknight meals around plant based protein sources rather than relying on hastily bought supermarket meat.

    I in no way demonise the eating of meat, I love the stuff.  Last night for Valentines Day I ate a giant slab of glorious juicy rare rump beef steak.  It’s been widely reported on that eating less meat is better for the environment, your body, your wallet and of course the animals, which is why as a rule I try to make the meals I make at home Monday-Thursday plant-based.  I personally started eating vegetarian meals as a poor student, when a 20p tin of beans to bulk up a vegetable curry was my only viable option.  After watching a plethora of pro-veggie documentaries on Netflix the cruelty of the farming industry to create low cost meat definitely became a factor.  But if I am being completely honest, my main reason for eating vegetarian meals is that I genuinely like them.  If I didn’t I know that I don’t have the courage in my conviction to make myself.  It would be like my resolution to eat more fish all over again, I’ve had the same vac-packed pieces of salmon sitting in my freezer since last summer.

    The easiest and tastiest way to start adding more vegetarian meals into your diet is to turn to cuisines that already excel at it, rather than replacing meat with a prepackaged meat substitute.  India has the highest percentage of vegetarians in the world, 3-4x higher than the next nearest country.  One of my favourite quick, comforting and insanely cheap midweek Indian meals is daal, a spicy red lentil dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and freezes really well so is worth making a big batch and saving for later.

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    Tarka Daal

    Recipe by Jennifer Brown Cooking Time: Under 30 Minutes Serves 8

    The lentils in daal count as one of your five-a-day. Easy ways to up this is to add a roasted vegetable like cauliflower, butternut squash or sweet potato, stir through chopped spinach or add a speedy chopped salad of cucumber, tomato, red onion, fresh coriander tossed in a little lemon juice and salt. I like to serve my daal with rice, mango chutney (Waitrose Hot and Spicy Mango Chutney is my favourite - I currently have one jar on the go and 3 back ups in my cupboard) and a speedy raita of plain yoghurt and a spoonful of dried mint.

    Ingredients

    500g red lentils, rinsed

    Full kettle of boiling water

    2 tbsp oil

    1 tbsp mustard seeds

    1 tbsp cumin seeds

    1 tbsp nigella seeds (optional - and probably not traditional I just love how they taste)

    3 garlic cloves, crushed

    2 inch piece of ginger, grated

    1-2 green chillies, finely chopped (optional)

    ½ tbsp turmeric

    ½ tbsp ground coriander

    2 tbsp hot curry powder

    Salt and pepper to taste.

    Instructions

    1. Put the lentils in a large pan (I usually use my 24 inch Le Creuset as it’s the biggest pan I own) and cover with boiling water about an inch above the level of the lentils.
    2. Bring to a simmer, and cook over a medium low heat for about 20 minutes until the lentils are mushy and the water has been absorbed.
    3. Stir the lentils every few minutes and add a splash of hot water if they begin to look to dry and thick.
    4. In a frying pan medium high heat the oil then add the mustard, cumin and nigella seeds and fry until the seeds start popping, which usually takes about a minute.
    5. Reduce the heat under the frying pan and add the garlic, ginger and chilli and fry for two minutes until the garlic is golden and cooked.
    6. Now add the rest of the spices to the pan and fry for 30 seconds or so until they are aromatic.
    7. When the lentils are cooked stir through the fried spiced (this is the Tarka) and season to taste.
    8. Serve hot with rice and some of the suggestions in the note above.
    http://www.bake-online.co.uk/2017/02/15/recipe-tarka-daal/

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    Thoughts About Blogging

    February 8th, 2017

    I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what I want from this corner of the internet, whether I have something to say or whether to shut it down completely.  Working in the food industry reminds me every day what a saturated market the food blog world has become.  I am just so fed up of so many beautiful people telling you that you won’t even miss what they are touting you should give up (spoiler alert – I totally did – my body does not function without carbs).

    I started this site to share my love on baking and photography at a time when I was surrounded by coworkers eager to demolish whatever treats I brought in from home.  That was over 5 years ago and my interests have changed, and now I’m self employed the only greedy coworker is me and my trouser waistline just can’t handle the extra strain!  I  used to try and blog about whatever overly sweet fad (do you remember cake pops? They were disgusting!) I thought would bring in the most page views and not necessarily about what I actually wanted to eat.

    Ham & Cheese Toasty 1

    The thing is, when I talked to my friends and to people I love about food it’s never about baking. I talk to them about the real food that I make in my kitchen after a busy day at work when the siren’s song of the local Turkish takeaway shop is calling my name.  About how I am trying to reduce meat in my diet and which dishes make me forget that I have, or what I rustle up out of cupboard staples when I have spent too much money and it’s the end of the month.  So that’s what I want to share, the meals I’m passionate about with a few bonus lifestyle posts thrown in for good measure.

    On the topic of sharing things I love, yesterday I had the pleasure of working on a photoshoot with the extremely talented Polly Webster and here are a few of the beautiful shots she took and I food styled.  As I have said many a time bread is basically my soul mate so working on a shoot focusing around sandwiches was my dream come true! I will be sharing one of the recipes from this shoot in the upcoming weeks.

    Open Sandwich

    photos by Polly Webster

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