Friday, December 9, 2011


This week I've been thinking about some of the things that I love most about this time of the year. As stressful as it can be sometimes, its really nice to think that we spend a whole month (or perhaps more) searching for gifts for the ones we love, writing cards to wish them a joyful season and making plans to spend quality time with them. The world around you becomes a festive, warming and happy place even in the midst of a dreary winter. It's a time that allows us to stop for a moment and show how much we appreciate those around us.

Other than my amazing husband, family and friends, here are some things I've been loving this season:

Things I love this Winter...

Lavender Banana Bread: 
(makes 1 loaf)
  • * 3/4 cup Lavender Sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 bananas mashed
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk

* For the Lavender Sugar, mix white granulated sugar and dried lavender buds in a jar. For every cup of sugar add a 1/4 cup of lavender.

Seal and store for 1-2 weeks, shaking now and again. (If you don't want extras then just make enough lavender sugar for this recipe).

Preheat the oven to 350F

In a large bowl cream together the butter and lavender sugar (I didn't sieve the lavender buds out).

Add the eggs, vanilla extract and nutmeg, beat well.

Add the mashed bananas, mix well.

Fold in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix just enough until well combined.

Line a loaf tin with parchment paper and add the mixture to it.

Bake at 350F for 1 hour (or until golden and a skewer comes out clean.)

When removed from the oven, sprinkle the top of the bread with more lavender sugar.

Allow to cool on a rack. Enjoy with a cup of tea :)

   To see what else I'm up to, follow me on TwitterPinterest and Instagram

Friday, November 18, 2011


Beautiful blue Ameraucan eggs.

Ricotta Pancakes: Adapted from Nigella Lawson's Ricotta Hotcakes in How to be a Domestic Goddess

  • 9 ounces ricotta cheese (1 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 whole eggs (separated)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and extra for sprinkling (my addition- If you're having these with maple syrup then omit this)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (my addition)
  • Strawberries (optional)
In a bowl, combine the ricotta, egg yolks, milk, vanilla and powdered sugar (vanilla and sugar are optional).

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the ricotta mix and stir to combine.

Beat the egg whites till it forms peaks and then fold into the ricotta mix.

Heat a non-stick griddle and drop heaped tablespoons (or whatever size you wish) to the pan and cook on each side for approx 1 minute.

Sprinkle the pancakes with powdered sugar and serve with strawberries.

   To see what else I'm up to, follow me on TwitterPinterest and Instagram

Thursday, April 28, 2011


"Let's see now. We have a dozen peach, a dozen berry, a dozen pumpkin, and a dozen cherry. Now when we finish the apple, we can quit for the night." -
Mildred Pierce

If you watched the miniseries of Mildred Pierce last month then it's more than likely that it left you aching for pie, or chicken and waffles for that matter.

I thoroughly enjoyed this miniseries, although it does leave you quite disturbed at times. It taps into the terribly gloomy depression era with its darkly stunning cinematography, 1930's style, and powerful acting, particularly from Kate Winslet, who plays Mildred Pierce and Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Mildred's pretentious daughter Veda. I heard that this was a much better adaptation of the book than the Joan Crawford movie. Has anyone seen that movie or read the book?

I'm not certain if this peach and blueberry pie is very true to the Great Depression, but Mildred sold really good pies and this is certainly a really good pie. I love the almost neon purple that comes out of the blueberries; it's very striking against the orangey peach and golden crust. This pie is not sickly at all and has a lovely sweet and mellow flavor. The pairing of peach and blueberry together is so perfect and summery.

This peach and blueberry pie is wonderful on its own, served warm or cold, or with a little custard. Please let me know if you do make this and manage to not eat the whole thing in one day...I would love to know how you did it.

Happy Royal Wedding weekend! I will most likely be one of those Brits that feels left out and gets up at 4am to watch it all... :)

Peach & Blueberry Pie: (makes one 9" pie)
For the pie filling:
  • Approx 6 ripe skinned Peaches (or 2 cans of non-syrup, sliced peaches)
  • 4.4 oz blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp orange zest
For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (extra for sprinkling)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1/8th tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8th tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • 1/4 cup butter
Prepare the pie base in a 9" pie dish and then par-bake in the oven at 375F for 6 mins. Set aside. (Keep the oven on.)

In a bowl mix together the sliced peaches and all the rest of the pie filling ingredients. Set aside.

In another bowl add all the pie topping ingredients and rub the butter into it all with your fingers until the mixture resembled fine breadcrumbs.

Add the pie filling carefully into the pie crust, distributing everything evenly.

Then add the crumb topping mixture covering all the fruit.

Sprinkle another teaspoon or so of brown sugar on top.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375F for 35-40 mins or until the pie is golden brown.

   To see what else I'm up to, follow me on TwitterPinterest and Instagram

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


One ha' penny, two ha' penny – hot cross buns!

Easter is late this year and it certainly feels like it. Normally my birthday is right around Easter and it has always been more of joint celebration with birthday cake, Easter eggs and eating my body weight in chocolate.

This is the first year I decided to make hot cross buns instead of buying them. It's hard to find the real deal here in the States, all the hot cross buns seem to be more like sticky buns with icing rather than tea cakes. In the UK, they are sold everywhere as "tea cakes" until Easter approaches, when a cross is stamped on them and they become hot cross buns. I love them for breakfast, cut in half, toasted and smothered in butter with a cup of Miller Harris Thé Pétales.

I found this hot cross bun recipe in a book I have from Betty's Cafe & Tea Rooms in Yorkshire, UK. It's a lovely book full of seasonal recipes and desserts from their cafe's. I'm sure there's plenty of posts to come from this book.

Some of my beautiful birthday presents from this year. Some Miller Harris goodies, Fortnum & Mason delights, one of my favorite Jo Malone Scents, Liberty of London, Macarons and Books.

Bettys Tea Rooms Hot Cross Buns:
(A Year of Family Recipes by Lesley Wild, Bettys Cookery School)

(makes 12)

For the crossing paste:

  • 180g (3/4 cup) strong white flour/bread flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • 50ml (3 tbsp) vegetable oil
  • 200ml (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) water
For the buns:
  • 400g (1 1/2 cups + 3 tbsp) strong white flour/bread flour
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • 60g (1/4 cup) fine white sugar
  • 2 heaped teaspoons mixed spice (I used pumpkin pie spice)
  • 45g (3 tbsp) butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 50g (1/4 cup) fresh yeast OR 25g (2 tbsp) dried yeast
  • 130ml (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) tepid water
  • 70ml (1/4 cup + 1 tbsp) milk
  • 100g (1/4 cup +2 tbsp) currants
  • 115g (1/2 cup) sultanas
  • 50g (2 tbsp) chopped mixed peel
For the sugar-syrup glaze:
  • 200g (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp) fine white sugar
  • 200ml (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) water
You will need to make the crossing paste a couple of hours before it is required to allow it to relax before piping.

Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl.

Then add the vegetable oil. Mix together until a crumb-like texture has formed.

Add the water slowly while beating until a smooth paste has formed. Once you've added all of the water, beat the paste for a couple of minutes.

Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place in the fridge (make sure it's quite thick, mine was far too thin).

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, sugar and mixed spice.

Add the butter and rub the flour and butter together with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast with the tepid water.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the dissolved yeast and the milk.

Begin to mix it all together and then begin to knead the dough for 10-12 minutes (or use your kitchen aid on speed level 2).

After kneading, spread the the dough on a floured work surface and pile all the dried fruit in the center.

Fold the outside edges around the fruit and continue to knead gently until the fruit is evenly distributed (be patient).

Allow the dough to rest on the work surface for 5 minutes covered with a tea towel.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape into round balls.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Carefully place the buns on the baking sheets with plenty of space in between.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, until the buns have doubled in size.

When the buns have risen, preheat the oven to 200C/390F.

Prepare the sugar syrup by heating the sugar and water together until the mixture becomes syrupy. Allow to cool.

Pipe the crossing paste over the buns. Bake the buns in the oven for 10-12 minutes until they are rich and golden brown.

Remove from the oven and immediately brush the tops of the buns with the sugar-syrup glaze.

Allow the buns to cool on a rack. Serve warm or toasted with butter and tea.


 To see what else I'm up to, follow me on TwitterPinterest and Instagram

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


The online grocery store that we order things from weekly have been throwing in complementary seasonal produce lately, which is nothing to complain about. A few weeks ago, they were giving us lots of gorgeous pears which I loved, but for the past two weeks they've been sending us four big grapefruits with every order! I'm sure this would make many of you very happy, but I really am not a grapefruit fan. I don't like them for breakfast, in salads or as juice. What am I going to do with all these grapefruits? Every time I order, I dread another batch of free grapefruits... As much as I dislike grapefruit in general, I do however remember having a grapefruit cake once that I actually liked, so I gave it a go.

Now a flavor that I do happen to like, or obsess over to be more exact, is rose. Give me anything rose flavored and I will love it.

As an experiment, I decided to add something that I love (rose) and something I don't love (grapefruit) into something that I always love (cake) and let me just say that I LOVE this love/hate cake!

This cake is very very moist and light; it is so beautiful. The grapefruit is still very present but in a lovely mellow way and the rose flavor is subtle but makes this cake so delicate and gorgeous.

A slice of this and a lovely cup of tea; I am in love.

Pink Grapefruit & Rose Cake
(makes 1 loaf)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons pink grapefruit zest (approx one large grapefruit)
  • 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 1 tablespoon rose syrup
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1+1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
For the syrup:
  • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
  • 1+1/2 teaspoons rose water
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Preheat oven to 350F Grease an approx 9" loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, using a whisk or stand mixer, cream together the butter, oil, sugar, grapefruit zest, rose water, rose syrup and vanilla extract until smooth.

Whisk in the eggs.

Sift in the flour and baking powder and salt, mix well.

Then add the buttermilk and whisk until smooth.

Add the cake batter to the lined loaf pan and bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes until golden, spongy and set.

While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup in a bowl by mixing the grapefruit juice, rose water and confectioners sugar together until smooth. Set aside.

When the cake is done, leave it in the pan and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes puncture it all over with a tooth pick and then pour over the grapefruit-rose sugar syrup and let the cake sit and absorb the liquid until completely cooled.

Remove from the loaf pan very gently, slice and serve with your favorite tea :)

   To see what else I'm up to, follow me on TwitterPinterest and Instagram

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I'm so glad to say that spring is here, it felt like winter would never end! Although it's still pretty chilly here, the sun couldn't be brighter and cherry blossoms are starting to bloom.

When the weather changes and my birthday approaches, I can think of nothing more than picnics and cream tea in the park. Alice's Tea Cup has become one of my favorite spots for afternoon tea in New York. Their tea list is never ending and the scones and sandwiches are utterly delicious. My particular favorites are their buttermilk or banana berry scones with jam and whipped cream with a lovely pot of lavender Early Grey tea. My husband likes their pumpkin scones and Russian Caravan tea.

The Alice's Tea Cup Book is really worth a look at; it's beautiful. They have gorgeous recipes for scones, cakes and brunches. Being a fan of their Lavender Earl Grey tea, I jumped when I saw their Lavender Earl Grey scones in the book. I couldn't imagine a scone more perfect.

These scones will fill the air with the scent of sweet buttery lavender and take you straight to the south of France. They're just the way scones should be: flaky, soft inside and melt in the mouth dreamy. The lavender is beautiful and floral and the Earl Grey adds a subtle depth to the flavor. It's tea time baked straight into a scone. I added more lavender as the recipe's amount was very slight and too subtle.

I like eating these particular scones warm and fresh with butter, as the flavor is very delicate, but I wouldn't say no to some jam and clotted cream. A cup of Lavender Earl Grey tea is a must with this. Scroll to the bottom for this tea recipe.
Lavender Earl Grey Scones (Adapted from Alice's Tea Cup)
 Makes 10-12
  • 2 heaping teaspoons Lavender Earl Grey tea (scroll down for recipe)
  • Lavender flower buds (my addition to the recipe)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (and extra for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter (cold and cut into cubes)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (for brushing)
Preheat the oven to 425F/220C

Steep 1 heaping teaspoon of the Lavender Earl Grey tea in 1/4 cup of boiling water for 3 minutes. Strain and reserve the tea.

Using a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder, grind a teaspoon of Lavender Earl Grey tea to a fine powder. (I added an extra teaspoon of lavender buds to this- it's worth it!)

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and ground lavender tea powder. (I added a heaped tablespoon of lavender buds as well for more taste and prettiness) Add the butter and rub the flour and butter together with your fingers until you get a fine breadcrumb like texture.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the buttermilk, vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of the brewed Lavender Earl Grey tea.

Combine the mixture very slowly and lightly until the dry mix is wet- do not knead!

Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and gather the dough together very carefully, handling it as less as possible.

Gently pat the dough to make a rectangle or square about 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a dough cutter cut the scones into circles or wedges, however you prefer. Lay them on a nonstick baking sheet.

Gather the remaining dough together lightly to cut more scones. Try to touch the dough very little for a beautiful scone texture.

Brush the top of each scone generously with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the scones for about 12 minutes, or until very lightly browned.

Lavender Earl Grey Tea: (I make my own, but you can buy the tea from Alice's Tea Cup)
  • Earl Grey Tea Leaves
  • Lavender flower buds (ground roughly with a pestle and mortar)
Whatever amount of Earl Grey you use, you will need 1/2 the amount of Lavender. So for every teaspoon of Earl Grey add 1/2 teaspoon of roughly ground lavender buds, or for a bigger batch add 1/2 cup of lavender to every cup of Earl Grey.

Mix the Lavender and Earl grey together and store in a sealed jar or container.

You can use more or less of the lavender, its completely up to how you like it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I have lovely memories of eating English pancakes as a child, particularly on Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Pancake Day. My mother would be flipping these pancakes on that special Tuesday morning for breakfast before my sister and I went off to school. Pancake Day was always something we looked forward to and Lemon and sugar was always the traditional topping of choice.

For me that special Tuesday defined the beginning of spring time: the smell of sweet lemon in the air, the sun shining brightly into the kitchen, and snowdrops propping up like lamp posts in the garden.

I remember making English pancakes for my American husband for the first time. He of course grew up eating fluffy American pancakes with blueberries and had never experienced Pancake Day. I'm happy to say now that his pancake of choice is the English and like me, he looks forward to that special Tuesday in the early spring.

English pancakes are thicker than the French crepes and the lack of sugar in the batter makes them very versatile and can be used as a sweet or savory pancake. The traditional way to serve these is with sprinkled sugar and lots of freshly squeezed lemon, I have always preferred it this way, however any kind syrup, fruit compote, chocolate, cream, or anything that takes your fancy would be lovely.

English Pancakes with Lemon & Sugar 
(makes approx 8)

  • 1 egg,
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cups of milk
  • 1/8th teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • White sugar
  • Lemons

Sift the flour in a bowl with the salt.

Make a well in the middle and add the eggs and half the milk, whisking.

Then add the rest of the milk and melted butter, whisk well.

Heat an 8-inch frying pan until hot and then reduce to medium.

Add a very small knob of butter to the pan, spread it around and let it sizzle.

Pour approx 2 tablespoons of batter into the frying pan, tilting the pan swirling the batter to cover the round area of the pan.

Cook the pancake for approx 30 seconds per side.

On a plate sprinkle plenty of white sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice on each pancake and roll it up.

Squeeze extra lemon over the pancakes before eating.

Take in the smell of the beginning of Spring :)

   To see what else I'm up to, follow me on TwitterPinterest and Instagram

Friday, February 25, 2011


The hubby and I have been going through an M&M phase lately. I bought a bag of them back in December thinking I would use the red M&M's for the nose in some Rudolph Christmas cookies that I actually did not end up making. The bag of M&M's was ripped open one night when only chocolate would do and over the course of January we had eaten the whole bag. I hadn't had M&M's in a long time and I forgot how addictive they are.

The other week the husband came home with yet another bag! Oh dear... This time I decided to spin straw into gold and make M&M cookies.
I always loved cookies made with Smarties when I lived in the UK and these are just like them: fun and incredibly tasty. I made a big batch for a baby party I went to recently; they're so colorful and cute.

These cookies are lovely and chewy which complements the chocolatey crunch you get from the M&M's. 

A bag of peanut butter M&M's mysteriously appeared in the apartment this week...

M&M Cookies: 
(makes approx 30)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups of M&M's

Cream the butter and sugar together.

Add the vanilla and eggs and beat well.

Add the flour, salt and baking soda, blend well.

Add a cup of M&M's and mix in.

Drop tablespoons of dough onto a cookie sheet, separated well from each other.

Cover each drop of dough with more M&M's on top.

Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes (depending on how you like them).

   To see what else I'm up to, follow me on TwitterPinterest and Instagram

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I love making a cake for Valentine's Day; its pretty much the only time of the year when everything can be red, pink and heart-shaped with a huge dose of lovey-doveyness. Last year's rose petal cake was so delicious and romantic that I actually thought about making it again this year. In the end though, I decided to not even make one big cake, but rather little cakes with lots of chocolate and some cute decorating.

The red cakes ganache is made with white chocolate and red food coloring and the others have a dark chocolate ganache.

Heart shaped chocolate cupcakes:

(makes 18-24)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons pure coconut oil 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Ganache icing:
  • 200g good dark chocolate or white chocolate
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Sift together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk in the eggs, lukewarm water, buttermilk, oil and vanilla until smooth.

Fill heart shaped cupcake liners 3/4 full with the batter (I used heart shaped silicone molds).

Bake for approx 20 minutes at 350F.

Allow to cool completely and then remove them from the liners and refrigerate while you make the ganache.

Chop all the chocolate up into very small pieces and put in a large bowl.

In a pot heat the heavy cream and butter until boiling.

Quickly pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.

Put the cakes on a cooling rack with a baking pan underneath.

Immediately pour the ganache over the cakes and allow to drip down on a cooling rack.

Decorate as you like :)

   To see what else I'm up to, follow me on TwitterPinterest and Instagram
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...