Love food Love London

British Library food season

11am tomorrow booking opens for the British Library’s series of talks and events as part of their now annual food season.

The season runs from 2 April through to end of May and features a number of favourites from the world of cooking such as Ken Hom, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Claudia Roden. Some events will also include tasters from restaurants such as Dishoom and Honey & Co.

Having been to previous events at the British Library, I can happily recommend this series. Each event is in the region of £16. The full list of events and booking details are available via this link.

Breakfast/brunch Love food Sweet stuff

Twisted cinnamon bread

I love any bread, cake pastry, bun etc with cinnamon. I’m always trying out new recipes. This latest was particularly good.

As the recipe suggests (found on BBC Good Food) it is best eaten the day it is made but it is still very good the next day, especially when spread with a little of the tahini and honey butter as recommended. Beyond that it is probably best to freeze, either whole or in slices.

The icing: I swapped out the icing in the recipe for my favourite tahini icing, which is literally, ‘the icing on the cake’!

Tahini icing: 60g icing sugar, 30, tahini and 1 tbsp water

Making the whole thing (as with any yeasted breads and cakes) in one day can be a bit of a pain as you wait around for each of the proving processes. I did what I often do when I’m making dough, I made it one evening and let it prove overnight in the fridge. The next day I took out of the fridge and let it warm up before rolling out the dough to add the filling and make the twisted log.

Love food Sweet stuff

Cherry Bakewell pudding

I think the before and after picture speaks for itself with this easy dessert suggestion for you. The recipe can be found on BBC Good Food site.

Finding cherries in syrup for the bottom is harder than you would expect. This last time I made the pudding I found a tin of cherry pie filling, making the whole recipe even easier – I just had to make the topping. If you do use pie filling then you can miss out the cherry jam from the recipe.

Love London

Tour Angels Costumes

Following on from my post about the back stage tours offered by the National Theatre, my next recommendation is a tour of Angels Costumes. Angels is one of the largest (if not the largest) and well-known costume suppliers to theatre and film productions and offers tours of its warehouse in West Hendon.

The tour lasts approximately two hours and costs £20. It is a fascinating business, ranging from the creation of customised costumes for films such as Rocket Man to curating period outfits for series such as The Crown drawn from the 8 miles worth of clothes hanging in the warehouse.

If you like film or theatre, you should definitely put this one on your list. Be warned, booking is low-tech, you will have to email them for their list of upcoming tours. The website has all the details you need.

Love food Sweet stuff Vegan

Baked apples

This has been a family favourite winter dessert for as long as I can remember. It may feel old fashioned but it is easy, has a small list of ingredients and healthy. As well as being tasty what else do you need? Oh, I know – it’s gluten free and vegan too!!

The recipe can be found on BBC Good Food.

We used to call this dessert exploding apples because of the number of times I cooked it in the oven for a little too long in a slightly too hot oven. As they do need to be cooked in a low temperature oven for quite a while I now do this in advance of cooking the rest of my meal (without the fruit) and then just re-heating for 15 mins before eating.

I replace the blackberries in the recipe with a few spoons of fruit from a mixed bag of frozen fruit. Also, I don’t add the cinnamon, just personal taste.

A pic of the apples ready for baking.

Breakfast/brunch Love food Vegan

Spiced apple porridge

I have been converted to porridge over the past few years after a childhood (and adulthood) of avoidance. This spiced apple porridge from Waitrose (once again!) is so good. The recipe says it makes for two but I really don’t know how much porridge you can eat at one sitting but I definitely can’t eat what the recipe suggests.  In case you are wondering – nor can Liora or Andy. I make a batch at the beginning of the week and use it through the week. A word of warning though – it doesn’t look great cold and it will solidify but it tastes just as good as when made fresh. You will just need to add some water to loosen the consistency and then stick in the microwave.

The recipe can be found via this link. Having made this a few times I am a bit loose about the quantities. I always start with two cooking apples, chop them (small cubes) and weigh before cooking then add a proportional amount of porridge but it really doesn’t have to be exact. It is after all just porridge, not a cake.

Once you have cooked the apples give them another weigh and then keep half for the porridge mix and keep half aside for topping off your cooked porridge.

I always use a mix of semi-skimmed dairy milk and water, using much more overall liquid than the recipe suggests.

As well as spare porridge for another day, you should also have some apple left over for topping.

Enjoy ?

Love food Other

Winter Pesto

I have just made this winter version of pesto. I am so amazed and delighted that I just have to share it with you. Those who know me well know that I try hard to buy reasonably local and seasonal – so that means no strawberries in winter or in the case of pesto basil. I do admit though that it is a minefield as tomatoes can be found in the supermarkets all through the winter grown in the UK but they generally lack much flavour and secondly green houses in the winter are not very energy friendly. But I do admit, I can be a bit inconsistent on some things (eg mangos and avocados). It is a work in progress. Concern for the climate aside, there is something quite special about eating your first strawberry in season, having English asparagus and we particularly get excited about the first brussel sprouts.

Waitrose can once again be thanked for this great recipe of Pesto made with Cavolo Nero. The recipe makes approximately 150 ml. Enjoy.

Love London

Backstage at the National Theatre

For anyone who is a fan of the National Theatre on the South Bank I highly recommend booking on to one of the theatre’s backstage tours. When I went a few months ago with two friends we lucked out by being the only three people that had booked that particular time slot. However, I imagine it to still be a great experience, even with a full tour of 20 participants.

Go on the tour to hear some great facts, such as why the building is so plain compared to the traditional West End theatres, see some tricks of the props department and see the sets of one or two of the current productions. There are a few other tours as well as the Backstage tour which I imagine are equally good.

Breads, muffins etc Love food

Make bread in under an hour

Soda bread is the easiest way to turn out a tasty loaf of bread from start to finish. By ‘finish’ I mean being able to eat, so the one hour includes at least 40 mins cooking time. A great option to accompany soup or your Sunday brunch eggs.

(No complaints though if it takes you a little longer than the hour)

Pictured here is Waitrose’s Guinness and Treacle Soda bread. I have also made many times BBC Good Food’s easy soda bread recipe. In this one, rosemary is listed as optional. I have always added it and personally would not list it as optional.  If you want to make it vegan you can easily switch out the milk for soya milk. Oh and one more thing on this recipe, I use semi-skimmed milk not whole milk. I would be wary though of trying it with skimmed milk.

It is fabulous still warm with butter. I would, however, leave it a little while before slicing as it may fall apart. If you do have any left over for the next day you may find it better to toast it. If it seems a bit crumbly then toast under the grill rather than risk it falling apart in the toaster.

Love London

It’s been an arty week

I’ve seen two lovely but different exhibitions this week, both in small galleries – the first was the work of Tullio Crali (1910 – 2000), an Italian Futurist at the Estorick Gallery in Islington. As well as being an introduction to a painter that I had not previously heard of, the exhibition notes gave me a greater insight into the Futurist movement. Crali’s particular interest was Aeropainting. If I’m allowed a moment to be shallow, from a purely aesthetic perspective the paintings were a pleasure to look at. The exhibition is on until 11 April.

As the exhibition is relatively small and while in Islington we also did a walk around the lovely squares in Islington which I also recommend.

The second was at the House of Illustration in Granary Square. This was of a Polish Jewish émigré, George Him (1933 – 1954). Him was a graphic designer who used humour to convey messages in wartime propaganda posters for the Ministries of Food and Information. He also had a successful career working for corporate brands such as Schweppes and The Times. What really struck me was how the messages and art still felt contemporary and relevant. The exhibition is on until 10 May.

There is a charge for both these exhibitions but membership to the Art Fund gets you half price. I’m a big fan of the Art Fund card. Although it doesn’t come with the benefits of a single gallery membership (no booking, no queuing, free entry to all exhibitions etc), it does give you half price entry to exhibitions at most of London’s major galleries (except the RA) and sometimes even gets you in for free. The scheme and therefore the benefits are also nationwide.