Monday, July 30, 2012

Good luck from Hastings!

I've just come back from an amazing weekend in Hastings with my friends Kate and Lauren. We caught the train down on Friday night (it's only an hour and a half from Charing Cross) and enjoyed a few real ales along the way. Then we hopped in a cab and sped straight to the old town where Lauren lives with the man in her life Simon! We drank champagne, watched old films, ate huevos rancheros, drank ale, bought as many antique kitchen items as I could carry, drank cider, went on the swan boats, soaked up the sun, took the funicular railway to the top of the cliffs, visited some lovely pubs, breathed the sea air deeply and did more walking than I think I've done so far this year.

All too quickly it was Sunday night and time to catch the train home again. I can't wait to share some of the fab vintage bits and pieces I picked up - I think I mentioned a little while ago that I've been refraining from splashing my cash in antique shops in London because everything is so over-priced. I had been saving myself for Hastings and I'm so glad - I've got an enormous carrier bag bursting with bits and pieces to share!.

Hastings Beach.

Swan boats - doesn't he look severe!.

Huevos Rancheros.

Pretty little cottage.

Lauren and Simon's home made Perry!

Oy Oy - I bought a sailor's hat!

Hydrangeas flourishing.

Strawberries and enamelware.
Hastings old town is unbelievably beautiful and quaint - tiny streets with pretty, wonky little houses lead down to the beach and cutting across them are hundreds of alleyways called 'twitterns'. There are some gorgeous little pubs - The Stag is my favourite with a great selection of real ales, a cat and sweet little overgrown beer garden that climbs up the cliff behind. The old town has got a fun, sea side holiday vibe (with a fun fair, plenty of fish and chip shops and of course the swan boats!) but walking around you feel that you're among locals. It was the start of Carnival week when we were there so there was a good buzz about the place.

I would really recommend Hastings old town for a day trip or weekend away (if you're planning on staying the night, you could always stay here - the 'piece of cheese' cottage was built on a small sliver of land for a £5 bet in 1871. Kate has stayed there and said it's lovely!). If you would like to read a little more about it (especially some of the more pagan traditions that the locals still celebrate with enthusiasm) check out Lauren's posts about Hastings in the 1950's, the Jack in the Green.festival and Hastings weather Kiosk.

I think my antiques haul deserves a post of it's own - I'm so excited to put some of my items to use (particularly my newly acquired vintage glass jelly mould) but I think that's a job for next weekend!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ciaran Bakes: Portuguese Custard Tarts


This week I decided to bake...absolutely nothing! I'm basking in our brief and fleeting summer and if it's not sizzling on a BBQ then I don't want to know. That being said on Thursday Ciaran surprised me with home made Pasties De Nata! I can't believe he managed to bake them before I did (after I vowed to attempt them myself back in May) - not least of all because he's never baked before in his life!

These were amazing - there's cinnamon in the pastry crust, a rich custard in the middle and orange caramel on top. You want these in your life, trust me.

He used this Jamie Oliver recipe from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals...

To make 6 little tarts:
Plain flour (for dusting)
1 x 375g pack of pre-rolled puff pastry
Ground cinnamon
125g Crème fraîche
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
5 tablespoons golden caster sugar
1 orange

Pre heat oven to 200C.
Dust a clean surface with flour. Unroll the sheet of pastry, then cut it in half so you end up with two 20 x 20cm squares of pastry (put one in the fridge for another day). Sprinkle over a few good pinches of ground cinnamon, then roll the pastry into a Swiss roll shape and cut into 6 rounds. Put these into 6 of the holes in a muffin tin, and use your thumbs to stretch and mould the pastry into the holes so the bottom is flat and the pastry comes up to the top. Put on the top shelf of the oven and cook for around 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

Spoon the crème fraîche into a small bowl. Add the egg, vanilla paste or extract, 1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar and the zest of 1 orange. Mix well.

Take the muffin tin out of the oven, and use a teaspoon to press the puffed up pastry back to the sides and make room for the filling. Spoon the crème fraîche mixture into the tart cases, and return to the top shelf of the oven. Set the timer for 8 minutes.

Put a small saucepan on a high heat. Squeeze in the juice from the zested orange and add 4 tablespoons of golden caster sugar. Stir and keep a good eye on it, but don't try to be a hero and touch or taste it or you'll burn yourself horribly.

Take the little tarts out of the oven and pour some caramel over each tart (they’ll still be wobbly). Put aside to set.

These would be divine enjoyed with a long cocktail in the back garden as the hot sun finally dips below the trees!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vintage Sewing Kit

New Fashion Bias Binding from the 1950's

Hat Pins

Best British Manufactured Brass Pins.

Nylon mending kit for stockings - complete with nylon thread!

Eyelet kit and belt buckles - bakelite and mother of pearl.

Sweet green and gold packaging!

1920's beaded evening purse.

Aren't these antique sewing items beautiful! They were a Birthday present from my lovely friend Kate (who's inspiring blog you can visit here). They range in age from Victorian to 1950's and were discovered, I'm told, at the collectors market in Devises - Wiltshire.

I love the attention to detail in the packaging - especially the sweet illustrations, and also the fact that everything was made in Britain! They've inspired me to make a little more time for my sewing projects over the next few months.

If you're looking to get out of town for a weekend in the country I would recommend a visit to Devises - it's a beautiful historic little village surrounded by some of the most beautiful and fascinating English countryside (Stonhenge, The stone circle at Avebury and West Kennet Longbarrow to name a few!). We went for a little visit earlier in the year and you can read all about it here.

Thank you Kate!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Homemade Peach Fizz

Here's a fun cocktail I whipped up on a whim over the weekend using ingredients I had to hand. It's refreshing and fruity and just a little bit sharp. The green basil really pops against the pretty peach colour of the cocktail!

Makes 1 cocktail or 2 champagne cocktails:

1 ripe peach, peeled and the flesh cut into chunks
50ml Belvedere orange vodka
1 tsp honey
3 large ice cubes
2 Sprigs of basil to garnish
Champagne (optional)

Place the peach, vodka, honey and ice cubes in a blender and blend until foamy and smooth. Pour into a coupe champagne glass and garnish with the basil.


Divide between two glasses, top up with champagne and garnish and enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Latitude 2012

Latitude festival was so much fun! It was my first time going to this one and I loved it! We saw a ton of bands including Bon Iver, Laura Marling, Michael Kiwanuka, Glen Hansard, deus, Tim Ten Yen, Elbow, Alt-J, Alabama Shakes, Dexies Midnight Runners, Of Monsters & Men, M83, Saint Vincent and Buena Vista Social Club to name a few.

We visited four supermarkets looking for my beloved Westons Organic Cider but couldn't find it for love nor money. Settled on Scrumpy Jack.

I wore my flower crown every day!

We had two days of showers (and several BBQs in the pouring rain). Just when the rain, grey skies and mud were threatening to bring us down the weather gave us a break and we had a whole day of glorious sunshine on Sunday.

Knitting knitting - Amy Twigger Holroyd of Keep & Share had a little tent selling beautiful yarns and other knitting supplies including some beautiful little kits which would make lovely gifts (you can purchase here).

The whole festival had a nice friendly vibe - partly I think the result of a nice mix of ages. I saw so many parents with these neat little wooden carts for their children. During the day they used them to tug their children (and their children's toys) about in and as night fell simply made a little bed using a pillow and blanket. These angelic children seemed to happily fall asleep to the sounds of booming base and a roaring crowd and could just be trundled along by the parents wherever they wished to go. I thought it was awesome but how do you feel about bringing tiny children to such a big festival? 

The team from Giant Robot in Clerkenwell had a pop up restaurant. They were fully booked for dinner by the time we got our act together which was a shame - I can't think of anything better after a couple of days of Scrumpy Jack and chips than to sit down and be served food at a table but luckily on the last night we came along just in time to sample some of their fantastic hot dogs (with home made salsa!) and  the biggest Margarita I have ever consumed.

What a fun time! Thank you Latitude.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Chloe Bakes: Lemon Drizzle Cake

It was my Birthday last Tuesday (hello late twenties!) and I'm pleased to say I was spoilt rotten. I was lucky enough to receive this fantastic River Cottage Cake Handbook by Pam Corbin (author of the equally amazing Preserving Handbook). Just the weight and feel of the book itself is so satisfying - I love the retro pink cover and the fact that it doesn't have a dust jacket.

The book is full of beautiful food photography and pretty much every recipe for tea time treats you'll ever need. I love Pam's style of writing - you really feel as though she's guiding you through the recipes  - it's very comforting!

On this sun dappled Sunday afternoon I decided to make the lemon drizzle cake but increased the quantities by 1/3 to better suit my enormous 18'' x 9'' rectangular cake tin.

This recipe uses the 'all in one' method so it's in the oven in no time (just the thing for a hot and sticky day like today).

Lemon Drizzle Cake

230g Self raising flour
2 tsp Baking powder
230g Caster sugar
230g Unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons and the juice of one
4 Eggs

Lemon Glace Icing:

330g Icing sugar
Juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C and line your cake tin with a long strip of greaseproof paper (so it goes down one long side, across the bottom and up the other long side. The short sides will be fine).

Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl, add all the other ingredients and beat with an electric mixer for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth batter. Pour into your prepared tin and smooth out the surface with the back of a spoon (I could have done this a bit more thoroughly so the surface of my cake isn't completely even - you can learn from my mistakes and do better!).

Pop in the oven for around 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For an extra hit of lemon, I brushes the entire surface of the cake with the juice of a whole lemon soon after it came out of the oven.

To make the lemon glace icing, sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and bring the lemon juice to a simmer in a saucepan. Add the lemon juice to the sugar a few drops at a time until it comes together into a stiff-ish icing. Beat it with a wooden spoon until it's smooth and glossy.

The surface of the cake will be moist and delicate after all that lemon juice so I dropped the icing onto the surface a teaspoonful at a time, working my way across the whole surface of the cake. Don't worry about any gaps - once you've used all the icing just take a metal desert spoon and dunk it in a mug of boiling water to heat it up. Use the back of the hot spoon to smooth over the icing! I garnished my cake with some more grated lemon zest but nasturtium or borage flowers would be even better!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Festival Flower Crown DIY Tutorial

For Latitude this year I made another fantastic flower crown (you can see last years effort here).

This time I used beautiful artificial flowers from the Shirley Leaf and Petal Co in Hastings (thanks to Lauren for her fabulous selection and for delivering them to me in old London town!). I highly recommend taking a look at their website - they also have a museum! They use all different materials to make the little flowers - the tiny blue and white ones are made of paper.

You'll need some leaves
Little paper flowers.
Little crafty Toby cat

Step 1: Take some thin wires and wind them round each other into a circular shape slightly larger than the circumference of your head. It will be strong but flexible.

Step 2: Start adding your foliage, wrapping the stems around the wire frame you made in step 1.

Step 3: Start adding the flowers in the same way - I spaced the larger ones out evenly then added the small sprays a little more haphazardly.

Step 4: Ta da! It's done.

I hope you like it! I'll be visiting Hastings myself in a couple of weeks time so can't wait to have a look around the shop and museum for myself (and maybe stock up on supplies too!).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chloe Bakes: My New Roots - Morning Glories

I love festival food - bacon butties for breakfast, falafel and salad for lunch, a pie, Thai curry or stew for dinner all washed down with lashings of ice cold cider. The money soon adds up though and after four days my leggings usually feel a little tighter too.

I spotted these Morning Glories over on My New Roots a little while ago and couldn't wait to make them. I love the idea behind the recipe - taking a truly terrible processed food (one marketed as a sensible healthy option no less) and, for lack of a better expression, shitting all over it with a recipe that is far better tasting and better for you!

For Latitude this year I whipped up these bad boys to bring along - they were a perfect start to the day and are packed with delicious nutrient rich goodness! I can't wait to make another batch and try out some more flavours!

You can find the recipe over on My New Roots here!

The sticky dough!

Little logs rolled in sesame seeds.

Fresh out of the oven.

Ran out of sesame seeds - poppy seeds were just as tasty!