Thursday, 22 January 2015

Pancakes.  Mother-flipping pancakes.

But OH NO, not just any pancakes, a proper traditional English pancake, with a tasty Earl Grey tea syrup.

Here's my thinking;

English Pancakes need an English topping, can you get more English than tea?

What goes well with pancakes?  LEMONS!

What tea traditionally is served with lemons?  EARL GREY!

What tastes good on pancakes?  SYRUP.


You may be thinking "Hey Em, that Syrup looks a little like spilled treacle."

Let me stop you there, random person.  We took these pictures outside, in the middle of winter WHEN IT WAS BLOODY SNOWING.  What you see there, is the result of extremly hot syrup cooling in the frosty January air.

This recipe makes 10 small pancakes and a jug full of syrup.

The pancake recipe in this post is one my Nan taught me, so all credit goes to her on that.

Put your oven on low to store freshly made pancakes whilst you make the rest.

Finally it's possible to make this without a sugar thermometer, but I highly recommend you get one as they are amazing and you will get the best results.


For the pancakes
125g (roughly 4oz) of plain flour
2 eggs
300ml whole milk mixed with tablespoon of water
pinch of salt

For the syrup
2 heaped tablespoons loose earl grey tea
350ml boiling water
200g brown sugar

You will also need a lemon, all sliced up.

In a large bowl, sift your flour and salt.  Make a small well and crack your eggs into it.  Add about a quarter of your milk and mix it up, good and proper.  Then gradually beat in the rest of the milk, bit by bit.  Beat it real good.  You want it nice and smooth.  Once you've beat the hell out of it, leave it to one side to rest whilst we get to work on the syrup.

You're going to need to brew your tea first, so add your tea leaves and boiling water to a jug.  Leave for about 3-4 minutes (you want it a little stronger than if you were drinking it to get the flavours in the syrup.)  Whilst that's brewing, empty your sugar into a large saucepan.  Then once your brew is brewed, strain out the leaves and add the tea to the pan as well.

Pour in the tea, keep a close eye on it's temperature while it's cooking.

Next, put the heat on high.  With a thermometer, you're going to want to cook it to about 105° C - 215° F.  If you're doing by eye, cook until all the sugar is dissolved and let it boil for roughly 3-4 minutes.  The test is to drop the syrup into a glass of cold water (if it goes stringy, it's done.)  I'm aware the picture up there doesn't have the correct temperature on it, but there is no time to waste taking pictures when it gets to the correct one.

Next, immediately place the bottom of your saucepan into a bowl of icy water to stop it cooking.  Then leave to one side.

It's time to cook the pancakes.  Add a tiny drop of oil to a frying pan, and let it heat.  The size I used was 24cm.  Once it's heated, add a ladle's worth of pancake batter.  Let it cook for roughly 3-4 minutes each side (or until nicely browned).  Once one is done, add it to a plate, and pop it in your slightly warmed oven.  Repeat this process for as many ladles worth of batter you can make.

Finally, stack your English lovelies (five on each plate if possible.) Drizzle them with syrup and add a squidge of lemon to the top.  Perfection.  If you want to go full-English pancake, roll up the goodness into a tube and then syrup & lemon them that way.  Hell, serve them which ever way you please!


Duh duh duh duhh - Oh yeah!  Look at those bad boys.  They need some syrup.

Oh god, look at that.  JUST LOOK AT IT.  IT'S ALMOST NSFW.

Don't you just hate me a bit right now?  Don't you just really want some syrup smothered pancakes?  Are you even reading this?


If you're interested in the pan I used from Tower, - view it here.

I'll leave you guys to it.  Until next time!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Disclaimer:  Gousto sent me a box to review but have not paid me to give my opinion or to write this post.  Rest assured, the words, pictures and awesomeness to follow is all my own.  I could literally write anything here.  The power is intense.  I might even make up words or talk about how I named all the vegetables they sent me.

When a large box arrived at my desk last week, I let out a bit of an excited gasp.  "PERISHABLE GOODS INSIDE," was slapped across the front, and I knew that inside lay an abundant plethora of tasty ingredients for me.  #ThesaurusLife

So what the hell is Gousto?  It's pretty simple, they are a company that send you a box of 3 recipes a week, and the exact ingredients to make them.  I decided to make the Cheaty Chicken Kiev for this review.

As a person that shops locally for the nicest ingredients, and then just makes whatever I fancy until all the food is gone, this whole "menu planning" thing was a bit lost on me to start with.  But I rolled with it.  The little recipe cards were quite well laid out (little bit of recipe layout jealousy from me over here) but they were easy to follow, and illustrated with step-by-step pictures.  Which I forgot to take a picture of.  Ah well.  Here's the front.

They had sent me everything for the recipe, right down to the one egg (sat in a little container.)  All I had to provide was stuff I already had in my fridge, like butter & milk.  Or things I already had in my pantry, like plain flour and olive oil.

One good thing to come out of it was a new method of making mash.  This one has broccoli in it.  Thought it would taste a bit vegetabley, but actually, no.  It was darn tasty.

That's me.  Chopping up potatoes.  Ready to go on the boil.  They were lovely potatoes.  Needed a good scrub, but I think that added to the appeal.

There is no way to take a picture of raw meat and have it look appetising, so I'm sorry.  But this is the chicken.  My little leaflet tells me it came from a farm with the highest animal welfare standards.  I like this bit of information.

I butterfly slice the breasts, then cut that in half to make two thin slices whilst my potatoes are bubbling away.

then my little recipe card tells me to crack and whisk my egg, and lay it out, along with my flour and bread crumbs onto three separate plates.

A part of me groans because that sounds like a lot of washing up, but you can't make a masterpiece without making a little mess.

So there you have it.  Egg, flour and breadcrumbs, all laid out ready to coat my breasts.

My chicken breasts.  BOOYAH.

The chicken goes into the flour first, then into the egg and then into my seasoned breadcrumbs.  You know the the drill.

After 4 times of doing this, I had serious breadcrumb build up on my fingers.  It's messy business.  But then the proof is in the pudding.

I dunno.  I'm running out of cooking sayings.

At this point I made the garlic sauce.  I forgot to take pictures again.  BAD FOOD BLOGGER.

My only annoyance at this point was it called for a pestle and mortar to make a garlic paste.

Now, I'd love one of these, but I don't have one yet.  I only buy things for my kitchen that I think I'd use at least twice a week.  I have limited space.

So I'm struggling to think of anyone (who would use a service that measures out and sources your ingredients for you) that would have a pestle and mortar lying around.

This is where I input my wee little suggestion.

A little info-graphic telling us what equipment we would need on the recipe card would be amazing for people learning to cook (who I think this service would benefit most).  Also, substitute equipment (For instance, if you don't have a pestle & mortar, chop it up or use a garlic press)

Just my two pennies worth.  Maybe they already do and I missed it, but I didn't see it.


In goes the chicken into the hot frying pan.  With two tablespoons of oil (okay, I didn't measure it out, but all this following recipes to an exact measurement was jamming my care free vibe.)

It was then I threw some broccoli in with my cooking potatoes.

Chicken was cooked five minutes each side, and then left to drain on a kitchen towel.

Whilst that was doing that, I drained my potato-broccoli pot and mashed it up (with a bit of butter, because HELL YEAH) and set it onto a plate.  Chicken was then artfully placed along side it with my wee pot of garlic butter.

We took some very quick shots of the finished product and then guzzled it down.  There was no time for food styling.  Hungry.

I put green beans on it too because I'm a badass.

So how would I rate this service?

It got me making something new, without the hassle of popping to the market to get specific ingredients.  It was tasty too.  I had no complaints about the finished product.  I shall keep broccoli mash in my recipe index, because that was gorgeous.

Five years ago, this service would have been my lifesaver as I was learning to cook.  It provided every herb and extra ingredient that I would have been scared to buy myself, back then.

Now, as someone that creates recipes and love to experiment, I found it very restrictive.  I kept wanting to add different things to it, or cook it a different way.  So whilst I loved this service as a freebie - it is not aimed at people like me.

However, if you are a busy person, learning to cook and you don't want to venture out to find random vinegars or spices needed to certain recipes, then this is a brilliant idea.  They are like ready meals, dissembled and not rubbish.  Plus there is a distinct lack of food waste, everything that comes in your box gets used.

I'll end on my pros and cons:

- A little restrictive if you're used to creating your own meals
- You might not own some of the equipment used to make the recipes
- Unfortunately organic veg and strict welfare meat doesn't come cheap. (You could say that about  anywhere though I suppose)

- Good way to prevent food waste
- You can pick the meals from a weekly menu (love a bit of variety)
- A pretty good way to learn new recipes and techniques
- Caters for vegetarians too
- Strict animal welfare policies
- Organic / locally sourced veg
- The recipes are pretty bangin'

If you wanna check them out - their website is here.  They're offering £15 off your first box at the moment.

Friday, 16 January 2015

2014 is over.  It was a pretty banging year for this blog.  I only have you guys to thank for that.  I owe you a cuppa, or a hug. This was the year of tea, good times and some serious talk of food, blogging and cake.

Yes.  Cake.  Lots & lots of cake.  And tea... so much tea.  

It was a pretty banging year.  I got hitched, wrote some posts, reviewed some stuff and finally met some of the awesome bloggers I've been talking to this year.  I made scones with a Great British Bake Off winner (okay, I watched them make scones and then made a basic attempt to do the same) and spent all my money doing up our little house.

It was the year of home made birthday cakes:

The year I over-shared pictures of my dog:

I could go on and on, but instead below are 12 of my favourite shared images from this blogging year:

So a good year, all in all,but let's get to the good stuff, what were the most popular posts?

I added up the data, and to celebrate the end of 2014, I give you - the 14 most popular posts of 2014.
[Limited only to ones written in 2014, and not competitions, cause that would be borrring]


Adult Green Tea & Lime Slushies

 Adult Green tea & lime slushies
So what's with this one?  Well, I caved and bought one from a coffee shop and the damn thing was so sugary, sour and artificial that it burned my tongue and made me feel a bit sick.

The flavours were such a good concept though that I decided to nick it and try and make a version of it myself.  For adults.  (aka, put it in a cocktail glass and pretend you actually know what you're doing)




Utterly Badass Cajun Salad Topping

 Utterly Badass Cajun salad topping
To top off a mental few days of email replying, this week has been manic.  I'm not one to sit here and list it all for my bragging pleasure, (READ IT.  READ MY THINGS) but it's been a strange one.  Between the bipolar weather here in the UK (One day I was in my summer clothes, basking in the sunshine, two days later I was in 4 layers and a heavy duty raincoat) and the distinctly "meh" feeling that's been circulating through my friends, family and work colleagues, it's been a bit pants.  You heard me!  It's been a bit pants!

Which is UK slang for 'a bit of a crap week really.'



Watching TV the other day, Husband and I were laughing at how ridiculous most adverts are on TV.  People riding dancing elephants to sell car insurance?  A woman doing an Irish jig with a greyhound to advertise a gambling site?

What a load of bollocks.

You wouldn't have that in the 'old days'  would you?

You mean the days where they would sell insurance and syrup with pictures of baby arses?



50 things that happen when you learn how to cook

When I started to learn how to cook a few years back, my life was utterly changed.  Suddenly I found myself squeezing vegetables in supermarkets, and knowing how to prepare things from scratch.  It wasn't until I made friends that shared my love of cooking that I realised we are all an odd bunch and we do a lot of weird things....

Here's a list of 50 that I could think of...



Awesome vegan snack bites

This last few weeks has been pretty busy.  How busy?  So busy that I've been doing pilates at my desk to try and save time at home.  Cause that's how I roll (or roll up, YEAH PILATES!)

You know when you get so stressed you short fuse?  All those connections that make you think rationally and help you make informed decisions just short circuit and blow out.  You're left with a blank screen, and any attempts to reboot make you feel agitated and grumpy.  Or worse, feeling sorry for yourself.  Not a cool place to be.



Let's get this out of the way.  It's getting colder, and we're all preparing for the onslaught of pumpkin spice, stews and soups, knitting projects and the countdown to Christmas.  You might think this blog would be different, but you'd be wrong.  I am going to wax lyrical about my love of the colder weather too.


I like crunchy leaves and big scarves.  Roaring fires are cool too.  Yay for weather as long as it's not raining.

Nailed it.



Blindfolded tea tasting with teapigs

I don't know if you've picked up on this, but I love tea.  I try to drop subtle hints, here and there, to share my passion for a good brew, but sometimes, I know these things can just fly over peoples heads. -wink-

The people at teapigs sent me a little box of tea samples to try, and I decided that the best way to try all 12 of the teas they sent me, was to do a blindfolded taste test with these fellow tea lovers and annoyingly photogenic bastards...



Years of gigging and hours in the studio meant that I had pretty much lived off vending machine food and takeaways, and I had no intention of changing that.

So whilst all my friends tottered off to uni, I sat at home on my arse and became zombese.

For those who don't know what that word I just made up means, it means I literally just shuffled from my day-to-day activities, whilst moaning, with no motivation, until food showed up.  I was a zombie, but I definitely wasn't wasting away.



Banoffe slab cake

So what does being a newlywed feel like?

Exactly the same as before, but with more food.

After opening up wedding cards and watching notes and cheques flutter to the floor, I felt serious urge to thank people.  Like, I think Kris and I even broke into song for someone (the fact that we were enjoying a glass of wine at the time means nothing) and in my family when you want to thank someone, you do it one of two ways.

1. With food
2.With more food.



Naturally I told them where to shove their advice politely declined their offer and went on my merry way.  They are, of course, completely entitled to their own opinion.

Except I don't want lots of advertisers, a demographic or a spit-shined blog.  I like it just the way it is.

In my experience, the world of blogging is run by sheer luck and enjoying what you do.  I've read some blogs with only 3 followers and thought it was a millions times better than some of the ones that have thousands.  Followers = nothing in the way of if your blog is good or not.



I say I am a food blogger.  What do you think?  Do you picture sunny days, where in a disney-esque fashion I roll out of bed, into a pretty cath kidston apron and set about in my perfect kitchen, possibly cleaned by squirrels and other woodland creatures?  Am I surrounded by reclaimed wood, a camera set up and perfect pottery?  Do I snap a few pictures of a dish I just pulled out of my ass magic hat, eating my dinner out of a mason jar and farting out a cookbook in the process?


When I first opened up this soup maker, I looked it up and down and thought "You beautiful beast, I am going to make hot chocolate babies with you." 

And so I did.  Beautiful, fattening buttery rum babies.  It is Christmas after all.

If you're like me, then you aren't a fan of the powdery, chalky hot chocolates from a packet, but you are in love with the creamy, frothy homemade versions, made with real chocolate and topped with a nice bit of whipped cream.


The food photography blunders

[Part one]  [Part two]  [Part three]

don't think you have to have amazing pictures to have a great blog, and I certainly don't think you have to have it all figured out, sure it helps, but it would be silly to suggest I've always had my SLR camera (or that I've known how to use it) and that I've always had my photoshop.

I haven't and I'm not ashamed, not one bit.  In fact, here are a few of my favourite "bad food photography blunders" that prove I always had style.



As a food blogger, I rarely, if ever, come across the words "I'm watching my weight".  Despite all the pictures of cakes and ice cream, all the food bloggers I've met are healthy, lovely women and men, who enjoy food, even the naughty stuff, but balance it out with a pretty healthy lifestyle.  A lot of them are active, and pursue running, (that seems to be the big thing, running) or go to the gym.  Most of the foodie instagrams I follow regularly have pictures of yoga on the beach (Jealous? Moi?), going for amazing looking walks or of them completing marathons.


Here's to 2015.  The year I aim to travel, bombard you with more gifs of monkeys and maybe a few recipes too.

Is there anything you'd like to see on the blog this year?  Let me know in the comments, if you fancy.

Friday, 19 December 2014

So last Saturday I had the chance to meet with some amazing food bloggers for a festive afternoon tea.  I was going to write a nice big post on it, but most of the pictures I took on my phone were blurry, so instead - here's a collage and a summary instead...

Food was nice, not the best afternoon tea I've ever had, but the little pot of melted cheese with dipping sticks really got my motor running.

I did not enjoy the macaroons with food colouring on quite as much.  I'll leave you to decide why, but the little gingerbread men and walnut whip Christmas trees were delicious!

The ladies were lovely - I fully recommend you check them out (their blogs, not them personally, even though they are all annoyingly gorgeous)  Anyway, here they are:

Emily's recipes and reviews, Gingey Bites, Birmingham Student Foodie, Hannah Bakes Things, The Foodie Couple, Full to the Brum, Unorganised Chaos,  Penne For Your Thoughts and Hello Terri Lowe

This week I've not had the time to write a post, which is why I'm kinda glad that I've been tagged into a few Christmas themed posts.  Now usually, I don't do these, but I love Christmas and I love talking about Christmas, so nerr.

Using a mish-mash from the tags I've been, well, tagged in.  Cheers to Day dreaming foodie & Emily's recipes and reviews.  

Favourite festive food?
Well, I think we've established these questions weren't thought up by a food blogger.  I don't have a favourite.  It's all amazing.  Apart from Christmas Cake, which needs to die.

Favourite snowman accessory?
I always give mine rather sizable balls.

Favourite reindeer?

Favourite day of Christmas?
I'm going to go with the shocking choice of Christmas day.  Though I do love Christmas eve, but only because of the excitement of the next day.

Favourite Christmas song. 
I have four that I play constantly

Favourite present?
I like hand-made gifts, or food that people have made me.  Things which have a lot of thought put into them.  You don't have to spend a fortune to make me happy.

Favourite festive cracker toy?
You gotta love that crap fortune telling fish, right?

Favourite cracker joke?
Who is Santa's favorite singer? Elf-is Presley!   Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha.

Favourite Christmas decoration?
I like these:

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

No but that reminds me of this.... which makes me smile... Go to 1:10... and excuse the quality, finding that scene on youtube is impossible.

Favourite Christmas scent?
Mulling spices, trees and candles.

Favourite Christmas movie?
The Muppet's Christmas Carol.  It was a tough choice, but I love that film.

Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
He's made from plastic but we don't care.  We love him anyway.

Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?
I get a wonderful feeling when I think about Christmas eve's I had as a child.  Getting excited, no school, putting out milk, cookies and a carrot for Santa and his reindeer.  It was all THE BEST.

What are your winter clothing staples? 
Crap Christmas socks are a must, along with jumpers.  I like easily wipe-able things as I spill a lot down myself.  Well, I read that back and I bet you are all thankful I don't run a fashion blog.

Hope you all have an amazing Christmas, and I'll see you all soon!  I tag anyone that wants to do it :)

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