Meet Me In The Land of Hope and Dreams

The school holidays always fill me with a sense of foreboding.  How do I juggle child care, work and my kids expectations that they will do fabulous things?  Obviously I make sure their expectations are pretty low. Keep them low and then they can be pleasantly surprised. Hell, I am pretty much making it up as I go along. I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. They seem pretty happy, actually they seem really happy!  I can’t be messing up too badly. I am sure the last year of single parenting will come back to bite me in the arse at some point but at the moment I shall just carry on until told other wise.

I did manage to arrange a couple of sleepovers which were met with approval. Brunch seemed to be a big theme this week. My friend insisted that I cook brunch for everyone. Well how could I say no? American pancakes ( I am not a big fan of the thin crepe ones) Scrambled egg, hash browns – cooked potatoes grated or squished with a fork, grated red onion, salt pepper, hot oil, fry….YUM.

This week I also ate out twice! Such a treat. I am not a big fan of the restaurants on Upper Street, Islington if I am totally honest. I find them expensive and mostly mediocre. There are a few exceptions, La Petite Auberge is wonderful, simple french food and not expensive.  I had a wonderful seafood meze at Pera Mediterranean  a lovely family run restaurant with a nice size menu. The seafood meze had perfectly cooked scallops and squid it was a generous portion too. My kids  will totally love this dish, squid is their favourite thing ever (so I am told).  I am also a total fan of the South American restaurant Commodore Bar and Grill. I was invited to taste the new menu. I cannot fault it. I really can’t. I tried to. The chef Federico used to work at El Bulli, the poor man was then bombarded by a ton of questions by me. So amazing to meet someone who has eaten there, let alone worked there.

The Commodore  is not an expensive restaurant at all. The food is wonderful really it is. Really good quality ingredients and such a lovely atmosphere. I did actually roll out of the restaurant, my god I haven’t eaten so much food in one go for a very long time. The swordfish dish was amazing. Swordfish can so easily be served overcooked, dry. Federico (can you tell I am a little bit in love with Federico) had marinated the fish overnight and was so moist. Served with a piquante salsa and buttery, garlicky spinach. I also had the South American version of Ceviche, Tiradito. This was made with Pollock. It is less limey then Ceviche has an earthier flavour. Delicious.

Not only did I dine out this week but my kids had their first experience of Pizza Hut. Look I am not a snob, well actually I am a bit. My friend Tushar set me up, I had no choice, there were 5 kids and I was going for the Pizza Express angle, then Tushar said the magic words “What about Pizza Hut?”. All was lost. The kids loved it. I will not give my opinion. Lets just say the the ice cream machine that dispenses jelly babies, smarties, jelly sweets as toppings, was put through its paces that evening!

I am working on a couple of new recipes this week and shooting with the lovely Lisa Barber. So alas you shall have to wait till next week a new recipe, although looking at my photos I took a photo of the most delicious aperitif I enjoyed at my friends house. I shall leave you with a little cocktail recipe…you can celebrate the end of half term!  In also leave you with a selection of photos from our half term and a picture of a little floral job I did for a photo shoot……Oh yeah and the infamous Pizza Express ice cream of doom!

You can always email me any requests for recipes.

Have a wonderful week

Rachelle x

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Aperol Spritz

I think this is going to be my new summer drink! So delicious, but also a bit pokey, so go easy!

  • 3 parts Prosecco
  • 2 parts Aperol
  • 1 splash of soda or seltz
  • Ice, half a slice of orange.

 

 

 

 


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Reno

“I don’t want any of your food Mum, I want crap kids food for my birthday”. I guess I can take that as a compliment. I asked her if she wanted me to make the cake, the eyes rolled (she is so good at that). “Of course your making the cake”.  So this weekend I bit the bullet, invited 11 children into my house and fed them a ton of crap food. Sausage rolls from Lidl, cheap rubber ham sandwiches on white bread with the crusts cut off (under strict orders from Lola). I filled bowls with giant cheesy balls. I must confess that after a couple of glasses of wine the night before, I did open the giant cheesy balls and you know, they are kind of good. In a very chemical, processed, stick to the top of your mouth way. Anyway I digress, the dining table was filled with beige food. I really should have gone to Iceland!

I made a sandwich that I haven’t had since I was a kid. My mum is American and she used to send us to school with peanut butter, jam, lettuce and raisin sandwiches, much to the horror of my school friends. You have to make them, they are so good. Unfortunately because of the peanut/nut thing I cant make them for the girls to take to school. I made them for the party though and they went down a treat.

The cake was a yellow cake, with caramel icing. Its a recipe from Southern Cakes by Nancy McDermott. If you have never baked before, make this, it is such a simple recipe you really can’t go wrong. The Icing is delicious and when I make this cake for adults, I add a giant pinch of sea salt to the caramel. Yum.

Today I leave you with my mothers recipe for peanut butter, jelly (thats jam to you english lot), lettuce and raisin sandwiches.

Have a wonderful rest of the week.

Rachelle x

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Peanut Butter Jelly Raisin and Lettuce Sandwiches

Since this is a circa 1977 experience for me. I suggest you use white bread. I will allow you to use a lovely farmhouse loaf if you must, but somehow white sliced bread seems to be the right choice. Argue with me if you must but granary or wholemeal bread in this instance is just wrong.

Ingredients

  • Peanut butter (Skippy is the best, please don’t use the healthy stuff)
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Raisins (not currents)
  • Strawberry or raspberry jam
  • butter

Ok so its not really a recipe. You just spread the butter on both slices of bread. Then jam on one slice, peanut butter on top, lettuce leaf sprinkle of raisins.

Seriously good x


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Can You Feel The Love

Ok who stole my seven year old daughter and replaced her with a fourteen year old oik. “Lola can you please pick up your clothes”. Her reply “I am not your slave! Why don’t you find someone else to boss about?  Oh yes and my favourite retort of the month.  ‘I wish you were dead and when you are dead I will spit on your grave’  I must admit the latter comment took me back a little, then I just smiled and said Mmmm bit harsh love!  She then proceeded to draw a (really quite good) picture of me in my grave and her, well you know doing her thing. I think it was titled I Hate Mum.

I stuck the “I Hate Mum” next to the “I Love Mum” picture (that she had drawn probably hours before) on the fridge. Lola didn’t see the humour in that – of course.

I felt that with all this “teenage angst” in the house, I should endeavour to lighten things up. You know, rise above the temper tantrums and well basically ignore them. Lola finally forgave me for my absolutely outrageous request. The forgiveness was actually fuelled by the Chinese New Year feast I made on Sunday. Nothing that a pile of singapore noodles and twice cooked pork can’t fix. Pork belly, such a brilliant and cheap cut of meat. Perfect for this dish. Oh and Julie no you cannot use diced pork shoulder! YOU NEED THE FAT.

Its been a week of celebrations, Chinese New Year, Pancake Day and Valentines Day is today. I have never really been a fan of VD (as I like to call it). If you love someone shouldn’t you show them pretty much everyday that you care. Anyway thats just my opinion. Lola woke me up this morning and asked if she could make me breakfast in bed because it was valentines day..Ahh you see who needs a bunch of flowers!

Anyway for the sake of my kids I channeled the spirit of VD and made a bunch of shortbread hearts dipped in chocolate. I love this shortbread recipe. Its easy and makes a ton of cookies. The recipe is by Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa). One of my ambitions is to sit in her kitchen for a day watching her make giant amounts of food. Oh and also I would quite like to sit in Nigel Slaters kitchen, Carluccio..Ok I shall stop now! I leave you with some pics from the week and Ina’s fab shortcake recipe.

Have a great rest of the week. Oh and by the way I am launching another blog in a week or so…So exciting I can’t wait for you guys to see what I have been up to…

Love

Rachelle x

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Shortbread Love Heart Cookies

This recipe makes about 12 large cookies. I roll the dough out to about half a centimetre thickness. Less is more when it comes to handling shortbread. When you get to the flour stage whizz in a food processor until just coming together. Cling and put in the fridge. If you don’t have a processor then use your hands to combine briefly until the mixture comes together. Leave to rest for half an hour. Enjoy x

Ingredients
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
Preheat the oven to 180C

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and roll shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3-inch heart-shaped cutter. Place the hearts on an ungreased sheet pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

While the cookies are cooling. Melt 100grams of your favourite chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. When the chocolate has melted dip to your hearts content…(no pun intended)

 


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Ooo Love a bit of Glitter – New Look Go Glam!

Going glam

True glamour never goes out of style – but it’s worth giving it a contemporary refresh so you can style ahead of the style pack. Sequins and glitter, body con and mesh combine to create the ultimate in club style that’s eye-catching, traffic-stopping, full on glamour. Check out our round up of the hottest looks to sport this season, and get ready to rock some great looks on your next night out.

Future robotics

Futurism is a key trend this season – with designer runways filled with gold, silver and burnished metals. Work this top look with rich, lustrous golden hues or shimmering silver. We love a full sequin dress that captures the light as you shimmy, casting sparkling glances all round. Wear with some secret support underneath to get that perfectly airbrushed silhouette – so you can look your best for the pics that come online the day after! For an alternative take on futurism, look towards dystopian trends – burnished bronze and run down chrome accessories in the form of bold cuffs and chokers hint at a Bladerunner future, where robots rule the world.

The new nude

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Nude is always a stylish and sophisticated look – paired with nude heels and it instantly creates a longer, leaner look. Work the trend by pairing soft and feminine nude chiffon ruffles in the form of a delicate skirt, and a tough, heavily sequined top that adds structure and contrast. Don’t go by halves on the skirt – either mini or maxi, for full impact. Pair with nude coloured heels to make your legs look like they go on for miles, and top off with some glamorous and glossy red lipstick for the perfect pout.

Bold in black

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In contrast to sweet and sugary nudes – there’s bold and beautiful black. Whether you go super-glam with mesh and body styles, or vampyric goth in dramatically sweeping maxis, you can’t deny that black makes an impact. Go for an all over sequin black sheath dress that casts a dark spell on everyone around you. For a different take, go full sleeved with a twist, with full length mesh sleeves that give a tantalising view of skin, without revealing yourself.

Reach new heights

For the full on glam look, don’t forget the shoes. Don’t cut corners or skimp on glamour – for full on gorgeousness it has to be height. Pair short-as-you-dare bodycon dresses or hot pants, with skyscraper wedges, for comfort and style to dance all night long in. Black cage wedges look dramatic, while platform heels in leather look undeniably sexy. For a tantalising touch of glam, add a slinky gold anklet or a body chain, to showcase your beautiful heels and waist, and a manicure to bring the look together.

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Every Cloud….

Hey its been a good week really. The kids are doing well at school. Tilda received another 100% attendance certificate! I do love this school but a certificate for showing up! Kind of weird. I decided today I would face the music. The really horrid scary things that need to be dealt with. Yep thats what I am going to do, obviously after I have cooked something, photographed it and written this blog. So actually maybe I will face the music tomorrow…Do you see how I am not facing the music at all!

My obsession with all things rocket is still going strong. I could easily spend a week creating all kinds of rocket dishes. I can’t seem to get enough of the peppery leaf! I have pretty much everyday this week had, some variation of a rocket salad for dinner. Last night I whipped up a salad with warm chorizo, goat cheese and apple. Really bloody yum.

I also made a rocket and black pepper soda bread, with a roast carrot and potato soup. Basically just cleared out the veg in the bottom of the fridge. Roasting the potatoes and carrots just gives them a bit more sweetness and depth of flavour.

Well I shall leave you with my recipe for black pepper and rocket soda bread. If you want the recipe for the soup I will happily email it over. I also made a carbonara with chorizo and cabbage, which was again me scrabbling around the fridge for something to feed the kids. Oh yeah and forgive my recipe page, I am working on it. So should hopefully have all my recipes bookmarked by the end of the week.

Have a wonderful beginning of February.

Love Rachelle x

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Rocket and Black Pepper Soda Bread

Soda bread is a staple in my house. I hate buying bread, I will pretty much do anything to avoid it. It is so cheap to make and the kids will take pretty much any variation I throw at them. I ran out of plain flour so made up the measurement of 500g with 100g of oats and 50g of ground almonds. You can add, raisins, seeds, wholemeal flour, I have even thown in some museli that was knocking about. It is very forgiving and lends itself to sweet or savoury flavours. The variations are endless. The only thing you have to do, is not knead it. Literally mix it together in a bowl until it forms a ball, the less handling the better. I then smother it in yogurt of buttermilk before putting it in the oven. This creates a golden crust, its also really satisfying smearing gloopy  yogurt over the soft dough……Oh dear I really need to get out more. x

Ingredients 

  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g oats (not the powdery ones)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • large handful of rocket
  • 1tsp of freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Fat pinch sea salt
  • Approx. 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt
  • A little milk, if necessary

Method

1.  Put flour, oats, almonds, rocket, black pepper and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together; it should form a soft dough which is a little sticky.

2. Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and form the dough into a ball. This is not going to be the consistency of a yeast dough. You want to get it into the oven so the bicarbonate of soda can do its thing.

3. Put the round of dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and if you have any yogurt, or buttermilk left over smear it on top of the loaf and make a deep cross on top of the dough.  Put it in an oven preheated to 200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

4. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes, eat warm with butter. So good. So very good.

 


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