Wednesday, 30 November 2011

More from my weekend

On Sunday we decided to take a trip to South-West london.  Our lease expires early next year, so we'll be looking to move.  We want to move to an area we haven't yet lived, and as well as having friends down that way, we also like the vibe that is many pubs and restaurants that we haven't really been so close to before.  

I had just recently read on LiveUrbanLoveRural about a formal garden hidden away on Streatham Common, so we couldn't resist a little sneak peak whilst we were down that way (for the record, we will NOT be moving to Streatham)!

Streatham Common itself is quite big and rises up on a slope - we both agreed that if it snows this winter it would be our top pick for tobogganing! It took a little while to find the garden (tip, entrance is just beside the cafe!).  And what a lovely little oasis we discovered...  manicured lawns, terraced gardens, frog ponds, lots of garden seats and a few braves soles bundled up reading or just soaking-in the serenity.  Oh, and LOTS of squirrels - although they were all quite shy so was difficult to get good pics!  Also, given that we're in the depths of winter, all of the plants were looking quite sparse and brown - not so pretty for a photog session!

Monday, 28 November 2011

My Weekend

the ice skating rink in action at westfield
tea in bed
a quick visit to GotCraft?
pretty lights everywhere at westfield 

a new hair colour
homemade gluten free vegetarian quiche
landlord delivery of THE WORST couch in the world (even more excited about moving now!)
my love rockin his paris hat

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Gluten-Free Vegetarian Quiche

So I threw this little gem together for dinner tonight.  I've been wanting to attempt gluten-free pastry for a while and I had a leek in the fridge that needed using so I concocted this deliciousness.

For the pastry:

200g Gluten Free Plain (All-purpose flour)
100g Butter
6 tablespoons water

Using fingers or a fork, combine the flour and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Add the water and mix until it forms a kind of dough (this only takes a couple of minutes).  Roll the pastry between 2 pieces of cling film (as much as you can - I didn't manage this too well, but I think the pastry is too "wet" to roll on a dry surface).  Press into a quiche tin and blind bake for 10 minutes or so.

For the filling:

This is entirely up to you - use whatever veges you like, or have in the fridge.  I used the following:

1 small onion
1 leek
A handful of broccoli (chopped small)
Half a red pepper
Half a block of feta (cut into squares)
Handful of grated cheddar
Salt & Pepper

For the cream mixture

300ml cream (I only had double cream so I thinned it with a little milk)
3 eggs

Saute the vegetables until soft (don't forget to add salt & pepper!) and spread over the base, add the feta. Pour the cream mixture over the veges and then sprinkle with the cheese.

Cook for 30-45 minutes until brown and set firm in the middle.  (The pastry should also have come away from the edge of the tin).  Leave to cool and set slighty for 5-10 minutes, then don't delay, eat while fresh and warm!


Thursday, 24 November 2011

My latest....Blog Crush!

I'm in dream-land! Well, yes, that tends to happen when your dream is to live in New York (a very UNattainable dream for us unfortunately), and then you stumble upon an awesome blog of a cool chick who lives and loves everything fun and fantastical in New York!!!

I've been following Kim's HILARIOUS blog, Yep, They're All Mine, for a while now (maybe stalking is a better word :), who recently met up with Daina, aka New York State of Mind - before you knew it, I was addicted!

Get ready for some drool-worthy food, fun city adventures (will definitely be stealing some ideas for when we finally managed to visit NYC) AND awesome pics... oh and don't even get me started on how adorable her kitty Boo is!!!  So if you dream of New York as much as I do - you will LOVE it!!!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Granger & Co

Finally!  Bill's London restaurant, Granger & Co, the one we've waited with bated breath for so long is here! Granger & Co opened early this week - without any fanfare and is already causing a stir in Notting Hill.

We decided our first trip would be Sunday brunch so 9 of us agreed a semi-early start to allow enough time for getting a table.  We certainly weren't disappointed with the queue - we added our name to "the list" at 10.30am, were sent on our way to enjoy a coffee at a competing cafe (note to bill, we would have been more than happy to wait outside with a cup of your own coffee!) and finally sat down at 12.15pm.  Unfortunately, because of the way tables were turning over, 4 of us managed to squeeze in, with the other 5 having to wait another half hour - in this time a table of 4 became available that we asked if an extra chair could be squeezed in - the rather flustered english maitre'd declined our request...a little while later, another 4 became available, we managed to speak to the Australian manager [who i'm quite sure is also an import, looked very similar to the manager at Bills in Sydney we saw in January] who had no problem adding that extra chair - gotta love that Aussie can-do attitude!

So finally seated, we had quite a long time to peruse the menu (even though we all knew what we were having).  There have been many reviews so far complaining of the slow service, which I do have to agree with, however this place has been open less than a week with a constant 2 hour wait all day every day so I don't hold this against Granger & Co at all - especially as the wait staff were so upbeat and friendly - I have no doubt things will settle down and the team will get into a better rhythm.  

So with all this time to get used to our surroundings, it was hard to not to get caught up in the buzz and vibe in the packed dining room.  The restaurant is light and bright owing to the large windows and high ceilings and clever use of mirrors on doors and walls. The kitchen is a few steps up at the rear of the restaurant and whilst not entirely open you can get some of an idea of what's going on up there.  It was also really lovely to see Bill himself working the floor, everything from chatting to guests to clearing tables - I just love this hands-on attitude!

We started with drinks, which we couldn't NOT try the coffee - desperately hoping for that little taste of home that England fails to deliver on a daily basis.  My latte was strong and lovely and creamy - the way us Aussies like a good latte - tick!

The hot chocolate sounded tantalising, however, we all agreed this was a fail - i'm sure the Callebaut chocolate is lovely, but mixed with only warm milk, this wasn't enough for it to blend through so were left with a cup milk with chocolate that sank to the bottom. 

And then finally, the food!  With 3 of us ordering the Ricotta Hotcakes and one serving of Corn Fritters (sans bacon for Ben of course), I guess we can't comment too much on the menu - however, these favourites of Bill's didn't disappoint, reminiscent of Bill's in Sydney it was a very welcome taste of home.  The Ricotta hotcakes were light and fluffy with honeycomb butter oozing over the top - delish!  The only negative point on the Corn Fritters was that they seemed quite a lot smaller than in Sydney, but they lived up to their reputation!

We finished with a few more beverages - Mimosa, Bill's Mule and China Green Leaf tea (which came in the cutest little teapot ever!).

Fair to say we all walked away very happy customers!  

A couple of final points:

- we all left quite cold - with all the comings and goings of the masses, the main door was open more than shut, and in this chilly weather this didn't make for a very cosy temperature inside.

- where's the vegetarian options Bill? Looking at the lunch and dinner menu's there a limited number of vegetarian options!

Regardless - we loved it - we'll be back - probably many times!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Origami Apartment

You guys - have you seen this awesome video of a teeny tiny apartment in New York???

Grand Designs eat your heart out - this is completely genius.

If I had to relive my single days, I could SO see myself living here AND inviting you all over for cocktails!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Gluten Free

I've been really concentrating on what food i've been putting into my body lately, after the discovery of Ayurveda and essentially following a Paleo Diet.  One of the biggest things i've been conscious of is limiting my gluten intake - which means no bread, no cakes, no pasta... NOOOO!!!!  Sounds awful, but actually i'm finding it quite manageable.  And hot tip - that full bloated feeling you have after eating a big bowl of pasta - non-existent with gluten free!

Tonight's dinner for example, was a lovely pasta bake, made with gluten free pasta that I honestly couldn't even notice the difference. 

So i've been desperately wanting to try Emily K's Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread recipe which I discovered on her blog not so long ago.  I figure that as soon as I start discovering some yummy alternatives to some of my beloved treats, this new eating style won't be so difficult to stick to!

Well, i've just pulled this out of the oven and it is TO DIE FOR! Lovely and moist and gorgeously spiced - especially lovely with the festive season approaching :)

So, what did I do?  Essentially I used the exact same recipe, but instead of the Crisco/Butter, I substituted pure Coconut Oil.  I also used a little extra pumpkin, as the gluten free flour mix I used (Doves Farm) recommends using more liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees [approx 180 celcius]

[I used a square cake tin as I don't have a loaf tin]
Whisk together in a bowl:
1 1/2 cup gluten-free flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

[instead of the nutmeg, cloves, ginger - I used the same measurement of mixed spice]
Mix in a small bowl:
1 1/3 cup almond milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla [I used vanilla paste]

In a large bowl, add
6 tablespoons butter flavored crisco [I used Coconut Oil]
Gradually add and beat on high until lightened:
1 cup white sugar and 1/3 cup brown sugar
Add in one at a time 2 eggs.
Add 1 cup pumpkin puree. [I used an extra tablespoon or so for moisture]

Mix until just combined.

Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk mixture in two parts on low speed.
Scrape into prepared loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Post Note:  I've found the next day that the cake isn't quite as spicy as when first out of the oven and also has quite a strong taste due to the almond milk.  If dairy isn't an issue for you, I would recommend substituting back normal butter and milk and I personally would add more spice (but this may be because I used a mixed spice, rather than individual spices).