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February 8, 2013


When I was younger, I thought there were few culinary combinations as perfect as those in a stew.  Big chunks of beef, dumplings and a hearty mix of vegetables, it really is the ultimate comfort food.  The recipe which I use is from my Nan although I have changed it slightly by having it served on a bed of garlic mash rather than potatoes cooked in the stew itself. I like good quality beef in my stew but cook it for long enough and any cut will be tender! You can throw in any root vegetables that you have in the cupboard, celery makes a very welcome addition.

Full recipe

1 Onion
Large pack of steak
4 carrots
3 sticks celery
1 handful of pearl barley
1 can chick peas
2 leeks, roughly chopped
200g swede, cut into large chunks
500ml beef stock
Baked beans (don’t knock it until you try it!)
Tomato soup
60g Vegetable suet
125g self-raising flour 1 tsp baking powder for dumplings

Garlic mash
4 potatoes
125ml milk
50g butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
1 pinch ground white pepper

  • Fry chopped onion, add diced steak and fry. Add sliced carrot and celery and half a handful of barley. Half fill the pan with boiling water, add a beef stock cube and leave to simmer for an hour. Season. Add tinned chick peas, baked beans and tomato soup to the stew.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil; add potatoes, and boil until soft, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain, and place in a large bowl. Combine potatoes with milk, butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix with an electric mixer or potato masher to your desired consistency.
  • For the dumplings, sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add the suet and enough water to form a thick dough. With floured hands, roll spoonfuls of the dough into small balls. Place the balls on top of the stew, cover, return to the hob and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  • Serve over a a bed of mash.




Craving Spring

January 30, 2013


Karen Millen white-collar jumper £85.00

Miss Selfridge boucle pelmet skirt £28.00

Jaeger collarless jacket £225.00

Charlotte Olympia Kitty Flats £465.00

Dorothy Perkins lace shoulder shirt £28.00

ASOS Bee doorknocker earrings £15.00

Topshop origami skirt £35.00



January 29, 2013

I don’t know about you, but I am finding it very hard to stay inspired at the moment. It’s really cold outside. It gets dark early. Christmas is over and I have no holidays to look forward to (yet, anyway). Maybe it’s just me, but everything combined is making it really hard for me to stay inspired, especially when it comes to blogging. In my defense, I do have slightly less time on my hands this year but am keen to dream up ways to keep myself motivated.


1. It’s your choice.

Inspiration is not always going to find you. There are times when you just don’t feel it. Maybe the weather has you feeling blue (that’s how I’m feeling this week!). Maybe you are going through some painful circumstances, like a break up or losing your job. Maybe you’re just tired, feeling worn out and in need of a break. We all go through situations like these. And chances are, the people you look up to went through them too. It’s your choice how you will deal with it. You can choose to press on with little inspiration or be defeated. This may sound like a responsibility or chore, but I think it’s super empowering if you are actively creating something you’re proud of.

2. Start NOW.

I’m guilty of it myself but too many times I hear friends say “one day when I have X I will be happy.” You can fill in the blank with your own perceived limitations: money, a better job, a more supportive relationship, more time, etc. Don’t wait for life to be perfect. It never will be. Start living your life the way you want it to be, today. Maybe you don’t have lots of extra cash to start an expensive hobby, this is why I like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I live on a really tight budget (my habit to spend all free cash on clothes is to blame), but I still wanted to teach myself something in my free time. I have to eat so learning new recipes seemed like a good place to start.

3. Make goals and do them.

It’s no secret I like plans, lists and making goals I can achieve (most recently with New Year’s resolutions). It might not work for you but giving myself a goal gives me structure and something to work towards and achieve. It’s OK to start small, just as long as you start. But if you’re feeling it then dream big, and make a tangible plan to get there. Break it down into steps.  Start a challenge or set a goal today and watch yourself gain confidence and feel inspired as you work to accomplish it.

4. Get out and dream.

Sometimes you just need to go somewhere and fill a notebook with ideas, I like to do this when I’m commuting into work. Write a list of all the things you want to see, achieve and learn- there is something so satisfying about ticking achievements off your list. I have begun to carry a small notebook with me so when I suddenly get a big idea I want to write about, I don’t forget it. Begin this weekend, make goals and start ticking them off in 2013.

Gnocchi in light tomato broth

January 16, 2013

I found this recipe whilst perusing the Smitten Kitchen website for food inspiration, gnocchi is the kind of dish that’s so easy to pull together, you could even have it for dinner this very evening. I think it’s safe to say this recipe has single-handedly ruined all plans I might have had for a no carb January (who am I kidding I can’t live without potatoes or pasta!) Gnocchi is traditionally eaten as a first course (primi piatti) in Italy as an alternative to soups (minestre), or pasta. Common accompaniments of gnocchi include melted butter and sage or pesto.

Quick and satisfying you’ll end up with a platter of petite, potato pillows that are heaven in a broth or with a simple pesto sauce. Don’t forget to top with Parmesan.


Waterstones 11 2013

January 15, 2013

The Waterstones 11 is the pick of the most exciting fiction debuts of the year.

In previous years they have championed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, the bestselling debut novel of 2012, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize; The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen, which won The Desmond Elliott Prize in 2012, and The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht, winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011. Needless to say it is a a list of authors to watch and seems to be a pretty accurate deduction of the literary stars of tomorrow.

I have already been lucky enough to read The Fields by Kevin Maher (it was simply amazing) and have swiftly added the rest onto my TBR pile. I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence, everyone I speak to is buzzing with excitement over it!

Below is the full list of titles. Click here for a little intro into each book…Which ones will be on your must-read list?

Pig’s Foot by Carlos Acosta (Bloomsbury, 30th October)

Idiopathy by Sam Byers (Fourth Estate, 25th April)

Y by Marjorie Celona (Faber and Faber, 17th January)

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence (Hodder & Stoughton, 31st January)

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Picador, 29th August)

The Fields by Kevin Maher (Little, Brown, 7th March)

The Son by Michel Rostain (Tinder Press, 23rd May)

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan (Doubleday Ireland, 27th June)

Marriage Material by Sathnam Sanghera (William Heinemann, 26th September)

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi (Viking, 4th April)

Ballistics by D.W. Wilson (Bloomsbury, 1st August)


Comfort food

January 3, 2013


Far too often my weekends are spent doing things that I simply don’t have the time to finish during the week.  Unglamorous (but necessary) things like laundry, vacuuming and doing the food shop always manage to interrupt a lovely Sunday afternoon, which is frankly, less than ideal.  This weekend I plan on testing out some recipes from cookbooks I received for Christmas, including the falafel wraps from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals (an amazing cookbook). The real test will be whether I can actually make anything that slightly resembles a meal in 15 minutes.

When I don’t want to try a recipe from one of my many cookbooks, the websites below never fail to inspire me.

Smitten Kitchen

A lot of comfort food stepped up a bit, things like bread and birthday cakes made entirely from scratch and tutorials on everything you’d ever need to know, including basics like how to poach an egg.  What I love about Smitten Kitchen is, Deb never uses excessively fussy foods and/or pretentious ingredients- everything is accessible. Try the ‘surprise me’ function to discover unexpected recipes. Smitten Kitchen is now a recipe book also, buy a copy here.


A food blog that seamlessly meshes the worlds of food and art. Alaina fearlessly experiments, adapts recipes and creates dishes that will inspire you to create something special.

Big Girls, Small Kitchen

Whether you have a big or tiny kitchen, Big Girls Small Kitchen is a food website for cooks looking for accessible, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. If you look around, you’ll find guides to lead you from your first spatula purchase through your expert entertaining undertakings, a comprehensive and well-organized recipe index and loads of menu suggestions.

The Ginger Gourmand

The Ginger Gourmand is a 30-something  northerner living in London who likes nothing better than spending a whole weekend in the kitchen trying out new recipe after new recipe. This website is seriously good for easy and delicious recipes. I’m obsessed.

Cookie and Kate

A blog dedicated to fresh, vegetarian recipes. Kate is a big believer in eating whole foods, which are foods that are as close to their source as possible so you’ll find plenty of healthy, sustainable recipes here.

Breakfast Pizza

December 18, 2012

When I was growing up, pop-tarts and doughnuts were staple breakfast foods in the run up to Christmas. Now that I’m a bit older, cake for breakfast feels wrong (unless it’s banana bread of course) so when I came across this breakfast pizza, I just had to try it. This is the perfect hangover recipe- quick, simple and delicious especially if you buy the pizza base and pre-grated cheese.  Jamie Oliver’s pizza base recipe is the best I’ve tried and topped with simple ingredients like mozzerella, mushroom, plum tomatoes and eggs, it doesn’t feel too heavy to eat for breakfast.

The recipe is from The Smitten Kitchen cookbook it’s safe to say I’ve added it onto my list of must have recipe books.