Baking: Blueberry and Mint Lemon Drizzle


At my new job some of my colleagues take part in a non competitive bake off, where each Monday someone takes a turn to bring in a baked good/s of their choosing.

I like baking, but it does sometimes lead to too much ‘tasting’ of my hard work, so baking for 30 people was a great opportunity to try two things and not be at risk of eating all the leftovers.

I made two loaves based on this Blueberry, Lemon and Mint Drizzle Cake listed on DeliciousMagazine.co.uk.

When I was out shopping for the ingredients, I could not for the life of my find desicated coconut in Tescos… What’s up with that?! So I skipped it and added an extra 25 grams of flour.  I also accidentally added all of the lemon juice into the mix, as I misread it. I would definitely make that change again, as it turn out deliciously moist. (Although I do hate the word moist)

The extra lemon juice meant I had to bake by eye, as it needed longer than stated and I did I few skewer checks. To stop it from burning on the top, once the top had a nice colour I wrapped both my loaves with foil.

If you like Lemon Drizzle Cake, and you like mint and blueberrys, this is definitely worth a go. It was scrumptious.

What are your favourite recipes to bake? Any recipe recommendations would be very welcome!

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A little review: The Set

We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary and booked a table at The Set, which is based within The Artist Residence. It fell on a Monday night, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of busy-ness, and I have to say it had great atmosphere.

We were seated away from the kitchen, though some other couples were at the bar-like tables overlooking the chefs at work. Usually I’d be interested in that too, but it was pretty darn hot on Monday evening!

The way the menus work at The Set is, as you might have guessed, a selection of set menus detailing four courses in each. Being veggie I didn’t read my option in detail but simply went with the veg option of Menu 2. You can, I believe switch out the odd course if you are a fish eater.

The eating kicked off with an amuse-bouche, meat option: chicken nugget with homemade ketchup and a deconstructed caesar salad; veggie option was (if I recall) a sweetcorn croquet with homemade ketchup and a green tomato and sweetcorn salad. They gave us a hint of what was to come, and there is no photo because they disappeared almost immediately.

Next was a starter of peas, radishes and some sort of delicious garlic sauce, which we both agreed was an amazing dish and happily demolished.

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Starter: Pea, radish, hummus, apricot

 

Then we were brought what I am going to refer to as our first main courses. Jack had…

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Mackerel, summer squash, pig cheek

For my main I had…

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Carrot, egg yolk, cornichon, mustard

Now, I did enjoy my first main,  but the yolk part I didn’t love. I am solidly a cooked yolk person.

Then for our second mains Jack had…

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Lamb, BBQ, sweetcorn, green tomato

And I had…

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Courgette, Caesar, preserved lemon, parmesan

Now I am not even that much of a courgette fan, but I loved this dish, it tasted amazing and the balance of flavours really worked! Good work guys!

Puddings for our chosen set menus were not my normal chocolate fest and certainly looked unusual, with mine featuring cucumber. But they too were delicious.

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Peach, elderflower, honey, whey

 

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Cereal milk, spelt granola, milk ice cream

And then, as it was our anniversary the kitchen sent out a third dessert for us to try. Wow. I am so glad we got to taste this. It’s my idea of food heaven!

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Raspberry, milk chocolate, sorrel, cocoa nib

 

All in all it was an amazing meal and The Set had a wonderfully relaxed feel about it for a place serving up such scrumptious dishes. I’m sad that we haven’t visited sooner, as it’s only about a 5 minute walk from us and has been open for over a year now. “When can we go again?” is my next question!

Have you been to The Set, or have any recommendations for me?

Review: Lunch at the Darwin Brasserie

I’ll start with an apology. I arrived so late to meet Charlotte, I failed at trains, and I am sorry Charlotte!

There was a bit of a queue to get in the building initially, as you have to pass through security, a bag scanner and body scanner.

Now on to the restaurant (and the building). When I arrived I was quickly shown to our table and offered a drink. Yes, I did take part in some lunchtime drinking with a couple of glasses of prosecco.

We skipped straight to mains, I had the tomato and basil gnocchi (with a side of fries! Yum!), which was delicious, and stuffed. I don’t think I’ve come across stuffed gnocchi before, but I’d like to again. Charlotte, being a meat eater, had the chopped chicken and avocado salad and reported it to be good.

Then dessert, of course we had dessert. It is the whole reason for eating out. That and seeing my lovely friend of course. I opted for the chocolate bar with raspberry sorbet and Charlotte had the prettiest rhubarb swiss roll I have ever seen. They were both delicious.

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Whilst we were there the clouds broke and the view was pretty spectacular.  I didn’t take any pictures of the restaurant, you’ll have to snoop at tripadvisor for those. It’s decor was great, didn’t feel too upmarket that it wasn’t suitable for lunch but we both said it would be an amazing place to go for a special occasion dinner in the evening. The dress code in the evening is a little stricter according to their website.

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You can only book a month in advance, and they do take card details in case of a last minute cancellation (which you’d be charged £25 per person for) but I would throughly recommend a visit. Once you are in, you can also take in the view out, and snoop around the sky garden (which you also have to book to visit. No popping up if you happened to be passing).

Have you been to the Sky Garden? Or have any other restaurants you’d recommend I try?

Pancake Joy

I love pancakes. I love them stuffed full of things that are so bad for my waistline. Savoury one filled with cheese and mushrooms. Sweet ones filled with Nutella and Ice-cream.

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My uni housemates Sam made it all too easy for me to make pancakes, by telling me the following:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of milk

Mix the egg in, then slowly mix in the milk. It’s that bloomin simple!

Vegan Pancakes are a new one for me. One of my colleagues is vegan and I wanted to make sure he was included in our usual pancake eating. I tried out this recipe – 5 Minute Vegan Pancakes.

The cup recipe is perfect for crepe style and the vegan recipe creates something closer to scotch or american style pancakes.

How do you like to enjoy your pancakes? Lemon and Sugar? Fruit?

Resolutions – How’s it going?

So folks – it’s the end of January! How the frick did that happen?

I wanted to review how my resolutions are getting on after month one. So..

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No Added Sugar

So-so is how I would say this has gone in the past month. I have just had some Ben and Jerry’s… I haven’t been snacking on the bad stuff in the week anywhere near as much. The weekends I have been trying to limit my sweet treats to no more than three.. that’s where I’m struggling. “Can do better” is my note for Feb.

Start Each Day with a Glass of Water

I am super chuffed with this one. I have only missed this a couple of times. This is a big thing folks! I can quite easily go a whole day without a glass of water so I do really have to think about it and consciously remember to drink. “Keep up the good work” is my note for Feb.

Visit the Gym Three Time a Week

This has been happening – not with any kind of enthusiasm but it has been happening. Long may it continue and improve.

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Mind My Money

This one I think has been helped along by making travel plans for next spring. We’ve never really committed to saving for a trip before, but Jack and I are saving to go to the USA for a few weeks next spring and as a result I have end January with some actual money in my actual savings account. Yay!

How has you’re first month of 2016 been?

New Year and a new resolve

Firstly: Happy New Year! I hope 2016 brings you happiness.

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I never used to attempt to set myself resolutions for new years. I assumed I would fail, so why bother starting. But really I’d been doing myself a deservice – surely it’s better to try and fail than not try at all.

With that in mind my 2016 resolutions are:

No Added Sugar

This one is definitely going to be a challenge for me. I am a chocolate addict and at the end of last year all my pre wedding good behaviour and weight loss had been undone by this.  Sugar is addictive folks – you don’t need me to tell you that! I’ve been reading a bit of Jack’s copy of I Quit Sugar for Life by Sarah Wilson, and she talks a bit about the science behind why we can’t / don’t feel the need to stop eating it. Our brain’s have “that’s enough” switches for carbs, protein and fats, but not sugar.

Start Each Day with a Glass of Water

Simple – but writing this post this morning has served as a reminder that I nearly missed this today, and it’s only day two!

Visit the Gym Three Times a Week

Again nothing groundbreaking here. I’ve been a gym member since joining with my encouraging old housemates back in 2012, and although I have continued to attend it has been with varying enthusiasm. I wouldn’t say there has been more than a 3 week period were I haven’t been but there definitely have been ups and downs and I hope to make 2016 more consistently up.

Not planning to be strict – 20 mins, or an hour sessions – they will all count.

Mind My Money

Being more conscious of how I am spending my money is the aim of this one. I have a bad habit of just popping in to H&M or grabbing a new piece of make-up from Boots rather than paying too much attention to a budget. No more – treating myself this year, will hopefully be about seeing my savings grow, rather than dipping into them.

What resolutions, if any, are you making this year? And do you have any advice on how I can stick with mine?

Crumbly, delicious mince pies

So a little later than I intended but here is a recipe for pastry for making your Mince pies. It won’t produce the neatest, tidiest pies but it’s really tasty.

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Ingredients

350g Flour

100g Sugar

225g Butter, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

Method

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.

Mix all of the ingredients together either by rubbing, or if you need to make them quickly using an electric mixer or kitchen aid.

Once all the butter has been rubbed or mixed in, knead it into a loose dough, but don’t overwork it, it should crumble apart.

Gather together a walnut sized ball of dough and press into your pie tray.

Fill with your preferred mincemeat.

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Gather half a walnut sized amount of dough and press between your palms to make a rough top, do this for each of your pies and make sure to meet the edges of your pie with your lids.

Brush with milk, or whisk egg.

Bake for 15 to 20 mins until golden brown.

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Allow to cool before tucking in. You don’t want to burn your mouth on molten mincemeat. Trust me.

Furry friends and festive fun with family and friends!

I love a spot of alliteration. Did you enjoy my title too? Probably not as much as me!

The last two weekends have been a lovely collection of activities. They were both wintery weekends packed with things to do but they were all very chilled.

The first Friday evening was spent keeping Fran’s lovely little kitties company whilst she was up in London town at a party. They have grown so so so much and have made quite firm friends with Fran’s christmas tree.

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Saturday afternoon was spent with my mother-in-law making Christmas wreaths. Melanie found some bargain kits from Laura Ashley in the sales after last Christmas and picked up a few.

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Not bad for £4, eh?
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We used leftover wreath pieces and hanging decorations to make tealight holders

Sunday afternoon I went for lunch with some of my favourite ladies at the Earth and Stars in the centre of Brighton. They do such delicious vegetarian roasts. No I did not take a photo of it. I ate it too quickly.

Afterwards we took a trip down to the Etsy Christmas Market that was going on, so many lovely stalls!

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It was so so busy!

I bought such a cute decoration from Brighton Jewel‘s stall. It was like the inverse of the one I’ve linked and I love it.

Then back to work for the week, which included our team christmas party. My secret santa (Aisybee) got me the cutest palace pet, and some chocolate – which is long since eaten.

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On this most recent Saturday morning I got up far too early and headed up to mid sussex to help my mum buy and decorate their tree and I think we picked a goodun’. It smells amazing, I know you can’t tell from the photo, but it does.

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FYI new set of light this year from argos at a steal

On Saturday night we went to Duke’s at Komedia to watch Bridge of Spies, which is Tom Hanks’ new film, about a prisoner exchange during the cold war. I have to say I thought it was brilliant. It wasn’t a short film but I was captivated.

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And then on Sunday Jack and I split up our tasks: he and his dad went over to my sisters to pick up the beautiful dresser about that she had kindly (and patiently) been storing for nearly a year, and I went into town to help his mum with her Christmas shopping. After our jobs were done we went for a gut busting all-you-can-eat at Bombay Aloo.

This week is my last week at work before a two week Christmas break and my plans include, posting the last of my Christmas cards, making mince pies and wrapping the last of my gifts, so keep an eye out for a fairly festive post coming later this week. Woo! Christmas!(What kind of Atheist am I, seriously!)

November In Pictures

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Jack and I went to London for a little day trip at the beginning of November – we walked like twenty miles that day!

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We went to the quietest Bonfire Night at Lindfield I think I have ever known. The weather earlier on it in evening was revolting, soak-you-to-the-skin type rain.

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I visited my lovely friend Joey in London, and he took me for my first ever trip to a Westfield shopping centre. Those designer brand shops are intense. I think I’ll stick with H&M.

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Speaking H&M – do you like my new dress. I love love love it. Love me some stripes.

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I have been lovely my colouring book, The Secret Garden. Just need to find my pencil sharpener…

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Yes, I did make a batch of mince pies in mid November. They weren’t bad, homemade filling and all, but I need to hunt down the recipe for my favourite pastry. The Mincemeat recipe I use is Delia Smith’s, but I use vegetable suet.

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Have been living in my slippers. Love them – bought for myself from Accessorize about two years ago and have been well worn ever since.

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Fran, Aisling (of Aisybee) and I went along to see the Brighton Christmas lights being switched on. I’ll be honest: I think I am too old to have enjoyed the musical entertainment, but I did enjoy going for a wander about after they had been switched on.

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My family cam over for a sunday roast, as I hadn’t actually seen my brother and his girlfriend since the summer. One of my all time favourite veggies to have with a roast is slow cooked red cabbage. I go a little off recipe in terms of the measurements, but again I try to follow Delia’s recipe.

Did you have a good November?

 

A brief visit to Bath

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 12.19.13 pmBath holds a special place in my heart. Jack studied at Bath University and when we were “courting” back in the early days we would take it in turns to visit one another during term time. I think I was pretty lucky – it’s a lovely city – I’m not sure Jack was quite as thrilled to visit me in sleepy, little Falmouth…

Back in August when making plans finally became a thing we could do, with the wedding being over (freeing up our weekends – yay!) I was keen to find a weekend to visit J’s awesome friends Malcolm and Kate and my uni buddies Charlotte and Andy. We saw them all at our wedding but didn’t get to catch up as much as we would’ve liked so we (I) got planning and found a date at the start of J’s half term when we could “pop” to Bath for a visit and a dinner out with them all.

One of my favourite meals out there in the past had been a Tapas place, and I found some great reviews for Olé Tapas which none of us had visited before, so we gave it a go.

It was delicious, I highly, highly recommend a visit if you are in the area. It is tiny, so you will need to book. But their veggie options were good, and the sangria went down a treat.

What would you get up to over a long weekend or if you’re a teacher, half term?