To Illustrate: to clarify, explain or describe, through the use of pictures, diagrams or words, a concept or problem.

The concept is food: an amateur's illustration.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Vintage Tea Party Book: Review

Angel Adorre first appeared on our screens a few years ago when she took her business 'The Vintage Patisserie' ( onto Dragon's Den - she managed to  walk out with a dragon on each arm and since then her business has grown. And now she hass published her first book, cum cookbook, cum 'how to be a vintage goddess' and it is utterly fabulous. Each page is beautifully illustrated with beautiful watercolours by the friend and artist Adele Mildred.

The book, is as much a cookbook, than it is a step-by-step guide into hosting your own vintage tea party as recipes are intertwined with style and decor ideas, to create the perfect setting. Readers can learn how to make hand made bunting and commemorative flags, how to style their own hair and make-up, and what parlour games to play when guests arrive.

The book is full of recipes to help you create a bespoke tea party from a bygone era,  from earl grey truffles, too chocolate and hazelnut toasted brioche, too coddled eggs, too green tea and pear cocktails, it has every aspect of a frivolous tea party covered.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Blackberry Picking

by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Apple and Blackberry Crumble

What better to way to welcome Autumn, than a blackberry and apple crumble? This recipe is a healthy twist on an apple crumble using freshly picked blackberries, and muesli and nuts for an extra crunchy topping!



1kg cooking apples
400g blackberries
4oz demerara sugar
1 lemon (squeezed)


6oz plain Flour
5oz butter
2oz demerara sugar
3oz muesli  


1. Preheat the oven to 200C
2. Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks. Squeeze the lemon juice over the apples and mix
3. Place the apples and blackberries in a large ceramic dish and pour the sugar over the fruit. Mix them all together
4. Place the flour in a large bowl and then rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs
5. Add the muesli and the sugar to the mix and combine
6. Spoon the crumble topping evenly over the fruit 
7. Bake for 45 minutes or until the fruit is cooked and bubbling juices seep through the topping
8. Serve with cream or custard.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Cherry and Ricotta Strudel

Making your own Filo pastry can be fun but for convenience and less effort I suggest buying Filo Pastry sheets. My favourite is the french brand Feuilles De Filo which is really easy to use. You can use which ever cheese you prefer. I tried the recipe out using both cheeses and they both worked just as well as each other - but I would say if I had to have a preference I would use ricotta - as a treat!


filo pastry (eight sheets)
melted butter
a handful of flaked almonds

Cherry and Cheese Filling

1 x 250g cream cheese 
1 x 250g Ricotta
55g caster sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp lemon rind
250 g pitted cherries (tinned or fresh)


1.Preheat the oven to 180°C, and line a baking tray with grease proof paper/baking parchment.
2.In a large bowl beat together, the cheese, sugar, juice and rind. Once combined, stir in the pitted cherries and leave to one side.
3.Place the first sheet of Filo pastry on a clean surface and brush with melted butter. Place the next sheet of pastry on top and repeat until you have done all eight sheets.
4.Spoon the cream cheese mixture along a long edge, leaving an 8cm border on three sides. Fold in the ends and roll up to enclose the filling. Place on the prepared tray. 
5.Brush some melted butter onto the rolled strudle and sprinkle with almonds.
6.Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until strudel is golden brown and cooked through.
7.Remove from oven and set aside for 30 minutes to cool to room temperature

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Wheatsheaf Inn

The Wheatsheaf Inn, is a wonderful Gastropub/restaurant nestled in between the Cotswold hills, in a historic mill town Northleach. Northleach used to be my home town but luckily enough for me it still remains so for my father. Visits to him,  usually entail a little trip down to the Wheatsheaf, and I must say, after about 6 years of eating there, it has never failed to disappoint. It's owners, decoration and interior may have changed over the years, but it has constantly produced delicious, seasonal menus, which are frequently rotated and changed to accommodate for new, fresh local ingredients. Now, having recently been bought by the owner of the clothing brand Superdry (yes, I know, slightly weird), it has undergone  huge renovations; a new Bistro is opening in the garden this summer which I look forward to, rooms have been ripped out, and walls knocked through. The whole restaurant has been refurbished and expanded, however the food has not suffered due to the internal works and has continued to please and excite my taste buds, and bring in a huge hungry country crowd from miles away. 

For starters I has snails and mushrooms on toast (pictured below). It was delicious, the creamy sauce which I assumed was a kind of garlic, herb and cream sauce was light but flavoursome. The snails melted in my mouth and were complemented extremely well by the crunchy toast.

My father has a similar starter, but instead of snails and mushrooms, it was ham hock, peas and a poached egg. The ham was so tender and sweet and the egg, perfectly poached, oozed a bright yellow yolk all over the ham. It was delicious. I secretly preferred his, but I kept my plate envy to a minimum today and enjoyed my snails and mushrooms.

 I decided to have a Fillet of Loch Duart Salmon with Wild Mushrooms, Pancetta & Spinach for my main course. I have suddenly realised that I have a mushroom theme running through these courses. Oh well. Anyway, the salmon was tender, not overcooked and the spinach with little bits of pancetta hidden amidst it was nice. The only criticism, was there was a little too much oil, which suddenly made me feel very full. But other than that is was a perfectly cooked and presented fish dish.

The meal was lovely, as usual, my father and his wife had Rump of Lamb with Fine Beans, Tapenade & Dauphinoise Potatoes, which again was perfect. The lamb was pink and coated in a rich, dark sauce, whilst the potato was creamy in between layers and crisp on the outside, just as Potato Dauphinoise should be. Both the mains made the most out of simple, traditional ingredients, but were executed without fuss, and with no compromises to flavour.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Cobb Salad

A Cobb salad is a American garden salad.This recipes is inspired by the dish I had at a Friend of a Farmer in NYC.

Chopped salad greens - iceberg & Romaine lettuce, Watercress & Rocket,
Crisp bacon/pancetta, 
Roasted chicken breast,
Hard-boiled egg, 
Honey and Mustard dressing,

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and put the 2 eggs, and leave boiling for 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile fry the chopped bacon with a little bit of butter until crispy.

Chop the tomatoes and avocado and mix with the salad leaves, liberally applying the honey and mustard dressing. Incorporate the roasted chicken and bacon (once cooked) into the leaves. Add a small handful of croutons.
Peel the hard-boiled eggs halve into two. Season and serve. 

Friend of a Farmer

Friend of a Farmer, is just one of the many trendy places to be seen tucking into brunch on a Saturday morning in NYC. Having heard about its popularity we were surprised to get two seats at the bar almost immediately after arriving, thinking we were going to have to join the queue of hungry New Yorkers that was beginning to snake around the cafe.

Once inside it was if we had been transported to countryside inn, rather than a busy metropolitan eatery. The walls were decorated with floral wall papers, and from the exposed wooden rafters, low hung lamps sat over each table. There were vases full of flowers and baskets full of fruit. The smell of pastries and freshly baked bread delightfully floated through the cafe, whilst we sat gloating at the fact we had managed to somehow sneak into one of the most popular breakfast spots around.

At the bar we were greeted by a friendly barman who quickly provided a large cafetiere of coffee whilst we patiently made our way through the extensive brunch menu; pumpkin or blueberry pancakes, home-made granola, and Belgian waffles were but a few of the sweet offerings. Eggs came in a dozen of varieties from smoked salmon scrambled eggs, Eggs Benedict and omelette's to Tortillas filled with scrambled eggs, guacamole, salsa & sour cream and crabcakes topped with poached eggs & hollandaise sauce. We were in a perfect vantage point, close to the kitchen entrance which meant I could try and peak at the dishes flying out, to help try and aid my decision. It didn't work. I ordered a french classic, eggs Benedict, of which I have ordered before, and my friend ordered a Cobb Salad, hmmmm, we were not as adventurous as we thought. 
However, the Cobb salad was fresh and full of sweet tomatoes, avocado and smoked pancetta topped with a perfectly hard-boiled egg (perfect as in yolk still runny). Whilst the eggs Benedict, well they were eggs Benedict. The salmon was served hot and the eggs were softly poached. The hollandaise sauce however, often considered to be the fundamental part of the dish was served sparingly which was a little disappointing. 
Whilst being a sought after brunch hot spot the food was not fanciful, it was light, fresh and comforting and the atmosphere was charmingly bucolic. I recommend it. 

Sunday, 24 April 2011

A journey to New York

The inspiration for my upcoming posts comes from my recent trip to New York, where I spent the most fantastic three weeks. New York is an incredible city and of course, as is the food. The city runs on food.   There are restaurants on every street, or should I say Avenue, and the choice of cuisine is just endless. The food I tried was amazing, from fresh sushi and oysters, to honey-glazed spare ribs and cream cheese bagels, I tried it all. Well not all, but I want to write about the journey I had, the different foods I tasted and restaurants I explored across the pond.

A new leaf

It is evident from the lack of posts that my blog has seemed to have taken a back seat over the last few months which I am completely ashamed of. I have still been cooking and baking, lots but have not shared. Although new leaves are supposed to be turned at new year, I am going to turn mine now, yes it is 4 months late, but better late than never.