pastel // plaid

Coat: Rebecca Minkoff. Culottes: Milly (similar here and here). Shoes: Zara (also love these velvet maryjanes and these velvet pumps). Sweater: ASOS. Sunglasses: old, similar here. Thank you to Nordstrom for partnering on this post.JavaScript is currently disabled in this browser. Reactivate it to view this content.

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A Fun Birthday Gift Idea

Last week, my colleagues asked me to step into the conference room…

Since I was turning 39, they presented a spread of 39 things they knew I’d love!… Read more
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Strawberry Galette

As we inch toward September and the winds of fall, I’m here to remind you to be sure not to let the chance to make a fresh fruit galette pass you by.  In my opinion, fruit galettes are a must have every spring and summer.  A free form version of pie, they are much easier to make and one of the most delicious things you can eat during our fabulous fresh fruit season.  Nothing really beats the contrast of buttery, crisp and flaky pastry and the sensation of pampered fruit.At the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley, fruit galettes have always been central to their daily dessert menu at the upstairs café.  When I interned there, I saw some of the very best fruit produced in the country float through the door.  Just amazing color, texture, taste.  So I clearly understood how much this dessert is beloved by their patrons and so very rightly so.One of the basic components for assembling the galettes at Chez Panisse is what they call “moon dust,” a simple mixture of equal parts almonds, flour, sugar and pulverized amaretti.  These ingredients are ground in a food processor and sprinkled on the pastry dough before the fruit is arranged on top.  This layer of moon dust prevents the crust from getting soggy and adds a subtle almond note to the finished product. Although I really love the fall season, I’m not quite ready for the shift.  There will be plenty of time for chocolate and nuts, apples and pears.  But for now, if you can locate some delicious fresh peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs or plums, don’t let them pass you by.  I happened to have some strawberries.  Whichever fruit you choose, it’s a delicious pastry to close out the summer.Bench notes:- It’s very important that the butter and water for the pastry dough are very, very cold.  If the butter is warm or soft, it blends too much with the flour and there won’t be the pockets of butter necessary to produce flakiness.  – The finished dough will look like a pile of small bits similar to cottage cheese.  Resist the temptation to knead it, which will toughen it.  Just place the pile on a sheet of plastic wrap and pull it together as you wrap it tightly.  As it rests in the refrigerator, it will all come together.- So why chill the dough after mixing?  Because it allows the gluten in the flour to relax (which means the dough won’t spring back when you go to roll it out), the water to be fully absorbed and the butter to firm up.- I like to roll out my dough on a silpat or piece of parchment so I can lift the whole thing onto the baking sheet without stretching or tearing the dough.- Mix the fruit and sugar just before you’re ready to assemble the galette.  If it sits too long it will begin to macerate and you’ll have too much of the juices flowing.- Amaretti are traditional almond flavored crunchy cookies from Italy.  They’re made from noyau, the kernel found inside the apricot pit (almonds and apricots are botanically related).  If you don’t have access to amaretti, use another almond cookie you love.  – You can make a larger quantity of moon dust and store it in an airtight container.Strawberry GaletteServes 6Galette Dough 1 cup (5 oz) flour 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) sugar1/8 teaspoon salt3 oz (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter1/4 cup (2 oz) very cold waterMoon Dust1 tablespoon ground almonds                             1 tablespoon (9 grams) flour        1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar                                       1 tablespoon ground amaretti                    Filling1 lb fresh strawberries3 tablespoons (39 grams) sugar, to taste1/4 oz (1/2 tablespoon) unsalted butter, melted sugar for sprinklingTo prepare the galette dough, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2” pieces and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.  Add the cold water and pulse just until the dough starts to clump.  The dough will not look smooth but rather clumpy and a bit like small curd cottage cheese.  Gather the mixture and place on a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly.  Shape into a flattened disc and chill thoroughly.For the moon dust, place all the ingredients into a food processor and process until finely ground.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.When you’re ready to roll out the dough, unwrap and let it rest on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper or silpat for just a few minutes.  It needs to warm up just enough to handle without a lot of resistance and cracking.  Roll the dough out to about a 12” circle and 1/8” thickness, gently lifting and moving the dough after each roll and keeping it lightly floured as needed. When you have the desired shape, brush off any excess flour and lift the dough along with the parchment or silpat onto a baking sheet. Chill while you prepare the fruit.Hull and slice the strawberries in half and place in a bowl.  Toss with 3 tablespoons of sugar, to taste.Remove the prepared dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle 1/4 cup of the moon dust evenly across the pastry, leaving a 1 1/2” border around the edges.  Arrange the fruit on top of the moon dust.  Lift and gather the edges up and over on top of the fruit, being careful not to create any cracks that will cause the galette to leak.  Work your way around the circle with both hands, pleating and pressing gently to keep the dough in place.  Chill if the oven isn’t ready.Brush the border of dough with melted butter and dust with a light sprinkle of sugar.  Bake until the dough is crisp and browned and the fruit is bubbling, about 40 minutes.

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Vegan Molten Chocolate Cakes for 2

Is there one dessert that you will always order if it’s on a menu? For me, it’s always molten chocolate cakes (especially if there’s a scoop of vanilla ice cream involved). After having them once in a restaurant when I was younger, I became hell bent on finding a recipe to make them at home. After trying quite a few out I settled on my favourite – Delia Smith’s recipe. It makes 8 puds so I’d usually quarter it to bake two for me and a friend as a quick dessert.

I hadn’t made them in a while until someone sent me a message on instagram asking if I had a veganised version. I told them I didn’t but that I’d get to work trying it out. With the recent discovery of aquafaba (chickpea water) which can mimic egg whites extremely well, I thought they might be useful! After 4 different versions I finally managed to make my ideal recipe. This makes 2 smallish cakes (when they were larger I’d end up feeling a bit sick after eating them as they’re so rich. That said, if you know you’ll want big’uns you can always double the recipe!) which are perfect for dessert for Valentine’s day… or just bake one for yourself and put the other in the fridge for up to 5 days so you can bake it up when you want it.

Vegan Chocolate Molten Cakes (for 2)

serves 2

45 g (3 tbsp) aquafaba (the liquid from a can of cooked chickpeas)
a pinch salt
20 g (1 tbsp 1 tsp) granulated sugar
50 g (1.7 oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
15 g (1 tbsp) oil (I use refined olive oil)
1 tbsp non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
10 g (1 tbsp) plain white flour
20 g (2 tbsp 1 tsp) ground almonds

If baking now – preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF). You’ll need 2 small ramekins for this recipe. 

Place the aquafaba in a large bowl. Whisk with an electric whisk until it starts to froth up. Add the salt and keep beating for 1 minute. Slowly stream in the sugar a little at a time as you continue to whisk – keep it going until you get stiff peaks in the mixture (this will take a bit longer than whisking egg whites usually does – just keep going and it’ll get super fluffy and stiff). 

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate on a low heat in the microwave, taking it out to stir every 20 seconds to prevent it burning. Mix in the oil, vanilla and milk. Pour the chocolate mixture around the inside edge of the bowl of whisked aquafaba.

Sift the flour, baking powder and ground almonds into the bowl of whisked aquafaba. If you have some pieces of ground almond which didn’t get through the sieve you can pour those into the bowl too. 

Fold everything together gently, taking care to deflate the aquafaba as little as possible. Once no white streaks remain, divide the mixture between 2 small ramekins

If baking now – place the ramekins on a baking tray and into the oven. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the edges are set but the centre is still gooey. Eat immediately (with non-dairy ice cream!) 

If not baking now – place into the fridge for up to 5 days. (When you do bake as usual – you’ll need 10-12 mins).

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Cauliflower

 

Taco night is THE BEST. It’s one of my go-to ‘clear-the-fridge’ meals. Get some veg in there, cook up any kind of beans or lentils and a quick salsa or dressing.
This lovely combo of turmeric-roasted cauliflower and simple refried beans is from Sonja and Alex’s (of A Couple Cooks) new cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking*. It’s a beautiful book packed full of everyday vegetarian recipes (perfect for my uni meal planning!). When I was on their podcast last year, we realised how closely our food philosophies aligned (i.e. no faddy diets, no ‘quick fix’ crap. Just delicious, vibrant FOOD!) – so if you’re into that vibe, definitely check out their new cookbook (and mine* ) for some accessibly healthy recipes.

Back to tacos – their original recipe included a chipotle aioli but since chipotles in adobo are v difficult to find in the UK, I subbed my favourite smoky paprika yogurt to drizzle on instead! And look, I know the ingredients list looks long on here but it’s mostly spices

Rhubarb

 

From living in Leeds for the best part of 3 years now, I’ve come to deeply appreciate the beauty that is forced rhubarb thanks to easy access to the Rhubarb Triangle.
It pops up at the market, gloriously pink with those yellowy, shrunken leaves in contrast. It comes juuust in time to save me from the inevitable boredom of eating apples for the past few months.
£1.50 a lb. Every time I tell my dad this he sends me a crying emoji (in London its about 5x this price). I bundle it up in my rucksack – each stalk is so long that it doesn’t *quite* fit so I carry it home with the leaves poking out the top, peeking over my shoulder.
There’s so much you can do with this stuff – my favourite being to roast it with sugar

Lemon

Gingerbread is one of those cookies that I’m always ‘meh’ about when I think of it. Each year I inevitably end up making some to turn into a gingerbread house (or this year, a Christmas tree made of stacked gingerbread stars!). Every time I end up snacking on the dough scraps and nibbling bits of baked rejected gingerbread. And every time I’m like ‘hmm this is actually pretty delicious’.

This year I deviated a bit from the regular gingerbread recipe, adding cardamom into the dough too. Adding cardamom into spiced bakes is something I’ve become accustomed to after eating many Swedish cardamom buns this year. If you’re a cardamom hater though, there’s no harm in leaving it out. Dipping the gingerbread in a lemon glaze, a trick I learnt a few years ago from Carey is something I also LOVE to do. That acidic coating on the spicy gingerbread is an amazing pairing and takes the cookies from ‘yeah it’s quite nice’ to ‘OMG GIMME MORE’. My favourite thing though is how it crackles once dry making making them look all frosty!
As Williams Sonoma is finally coming to the UK selling some food products in Harrods, much to my excitement, they sent me some kitchen goodies including their snowflake cutters which I used here. Gingerbread keeps its shape really well upon baking so those patterned cookie cutters/stamps do work properly. It’s also way way easier to use a textured stamp than pipe on icing to decorate the cookies (something I despise doing) and looks just as pretty.

Lemon

Cranberry, Oat and White Chocolate Biscuits

I’m hoooome! Back in London for Christmas break and I’m extremely relieved to be able to chill out for a bit. This has been an all-consuming semester so far. I said to my boyfriend last week ‘I can see now why people drop out in third year. I never understood before but I do now’. It was inevitable that this would be the most challenging year, surprisingly not academically, but mentally. It’s my final year of education after 15 years and I’m so close to being done which is a bit terrifying. I’ve also had less and less time this year for creative release which has always been my respite from academia (hence the existence of this blog). Having my ‘separate food life’ on the side of school has what has prevented me from having stress breakdowns before so it’s an essential part of what keeps me sane.

Now I’ve got a month “off” (that’s in quotes because I still have to revise for exams and work on my research project) so that means I can get back into the kitchen a bit more. Christmas is my absolute fave time for baking because it’s so cold that standing in front of a oven is incredibly enjoyable. It’s also a time for catching up with people at various gatherings – i.e. the perfect opportunity to bring along cookies or cake! I’d much rather gift my friends something delicious which some time and effort has gone into than buy some novelty gift that’ll end up in the bin.

These lil oaty biscuits from Ottolenghi

Parsnip Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

**Thanks to Schwartz for sponsoring this post!**
I’m a big fan of using vegetables in dessert. I mean, I now eye roll when people do the whole ‘well it’s got vegetables in it so I can eat it for breakfast right!? ha ha ha’. Mate, if you want to eat cake for breakfast, you do you. Don’t need to justify it!! I’m all on board the cake train. What I DO like about the vegetable addition is that a) it sometimes can bring a different aspect of flavour or colour to the cake, making it more interesting to eat b) its a GREAT way to use up a hell of a lot of veg at once e.g. if you have a bag of carrots starting to look a biiiit sad, turn em into cake instead of chucking them! and c) they often also bring moisture to recipes which can make things all fluffy and soft – it’s also why usually they’re not used in cookies cos who on earth wants a fluffy cookie?

You may think a parsnip cake sounds like a strange idea, but if you think about carrot or courgette cake, there’s not much difference. Parsnips are another slightly sweet vegetable with a mild flavour – in fact we add in hella spices to make sure the cake is tasty. I was given a Schwartz spice advent calendar to create this recipe with so I went with loadsa cinnamon, some nutmeg, allspice and ground ginger. A classic combo of fragrant, sweet spices to match the sweet earthiness of the parsnip.

As I try to avoid making layer cakes whenever possible, I kept things simple by using a bundt tin instead. With a bundt I also usually feel like a standard buttercream isn’t gonna work so a cream cheese glaze is poured on top instead (which incidentally is also easier than making buttercream, hooray!). My decoration choice of pumpkin seeds and silvery sugar balls is totally optional (or you can switch it up by using chopped pecans and festive sprinkles!). I’m just warning you now, it’s incredibly addictive and much simpler to assemble than layer cake – say hello to my new fave festive cake!!!

Parsnip Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

serves 10-12

150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
3 eggs
160 ml (2/3 cup) vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
80 ml (1/3 cup) plain yogurt
2 tsp Schwartz ground cinnamon
1 tsp Schwartz ground ginger
1/2 tsp Schwartz nutmeg (grated)
¼ tsp Schwartz ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt
300 g (3 cups) coarsely grated parsnip
80 g (1/2 cup) raisins
240 g (2 cups) wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

for the glaze:

100 g (3.5oz) full-fat cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150-200 g (1 to 1 1/2 cups) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
water
pumpkin seeds (silver sprinkles (optional))

To make the cake

Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF). Grease a large bundt pan very well with butter or oil.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, eggs and oil until smooth. Stir in the yogurt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, orange zest and salt. Fold in the grated parsnips and raisins then add the flour, baking powder, baking soda to the bowl. Mix together until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan then bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack then leave to cool completely before frosting.

To make the glaze:

Mix the cream cheese, icing sugar (start with the lesser amount) and vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth. Add water a teaspoon at a time to get a thinner consistency – you want it to be pourable but not super thin. If it’s too thin, add some more icing sugar to make it thicker.

Assemble:

Pour the glaze over the cooled bundt cake. Let it drip down the edges. Once the glaze has stopped dripping but before it has completely set, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and silver sprinkles.

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Chocolate

 
Thanks to Heritage Breeds for sponsoring this post!
Choux pastry is one of those things which is just hella delicious but I always forget about it as a fancy dessert option. The main times I’ve made it have been for large family gatherings and for my GCSE food tech project in which I made choux bun/cupcake hybrids which looked like swans once a week for 2 months (..don’t even ask). I think they’re a bit like soufflés in how they seem really fancy and difficult to make but they’re actually not too hard if you’ve got the right tricks!

If you’ve never made choux pastry before, the method will seem a little weird. We boil butter and water in a pot, dump in flour and stir stir stir it up until you get a ball of doughy mixture. While it’s still warm, we then slowly beat in some eggies – I was using the Heritage Breeds Royal Legbar eggs from well-cared for chickens (look at those gorgeous blue shells *insert heart eye emoji*) for their high quality and rich flavour. You’ve gotta work the arm muscles here guys and beat all that egg in to get a silky, wet dough. It’ll be very soft – unlike any other pastry dough you’ve made, more akin to an enriched bread dough really.

Plop that dough onto a baking tray. Usually people pipe it using a pastry bag (or a sandwich bag with the corner cut off – if you do this you want quite a wide hole to pipe out of). I opted for the lazier method of using a cookie scoop! If you have any peaks that you wish to get rid of, just use a damp finger to flatten it down so you have a perfect dome of dough.
Now here’s the trickier part – you need to have a nice hot oven before the pastry goes in so we set the temperature a little higher than is really needed at 220C. As soon as the dough goes in, we turn the temperature down, bake for some time to get that steam building so the buns get nice and tall. The key with choux pastry really is the eggs – all that moisture gets released on baking and makes the dough expand so much that you’re left with a perfect cavity in the middle! Now we lower the temperature again to help dry the buns out so they maintain their shape once out of the oven.
Once baked, cut em open to get any remaining steam out – again to ensure the buns don’t collapse. And hey look at that, the cavity is PERFECT for filling with flavoured whipped cream! I went for a pale purple cream flavoured with blackberries. Other fruits are of course an excellent choice but I’m also a huge fan of coffee whipped cream in there (or even coffee ice cream mmmm).
The finishing touch – a brief dunk into shiny chocolate ganache and a sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts. The perfect dinner party dessert!

Blackberry