31 August 2016

rose & pistachio drizzle cake | a recipe.

Can I just start with a recognition of how bad my food photography is. I can't do it. I have tried. It doesn't help that I live in the darkest flat in London - I used to live in a basement flat and even that had more natural light. It also doesn't help that I make ugly food. Usually edible, but incredibly ugly. 

But moving on, I am so excited that Bake Off is back. I'm not sure why I like it so much, it has none of the components of a TV show I like but every Wednesday evening I'm there. I find the first episode pretty irritating each time it comes on, I hate not being able to work out everyone's names because they don't get enough time on screen - not that I'll end up picking a favourite as I'm usually always wrong and anyway, who could beat this guy? This week for Bake Along, we had the choice between a drizzle cake, jaffa cakes or a mirror glaze cake.

Jaffa cakes were straight out for me, the thought of a homemade jaffa cake makes me want to gag - they are something that should only be made in factory, otherwise there is just too much orange and too much jelly and bleugh. Do I have the patience to make a mirror glaze cake? I very much doubt it. But do I love a drizzle cake? Yep. A lemon drizzle is one of my go to bakes, something I probably make once a month. So why not mix it up a little for Bake Along? 

So this week I made a rose and pistachio drizzle cake. Was it my best? No. Does it look drizzley enough? No. Did I go over the top with the icing? Yep. Does it taste pretty awesome? Yep. So that'll have to do, along with a memo to myself to try harder next week!

I used this recipe here for the cake, but replaced the orange zest with vanilla. When the cake was cooling, I mixed together some icing sugar and water over heat with a bit of rosewater and then spooned the mixture over the cake. Once it was cool, I spooned over some pink rose icing and topped with crushed pistachios. 

17 August 2016

a little visit to stowe | england.

I drove past Stowe House in Buckinghamshire not too long ago, and had to stop to have a look. We didn't visit the House, the school was in session and there were lots of children in school uniform (even though it was a Saturday, not sure I envy boarding school life). But we did visit the Grecian Valley designed by Capability Brown, and sat at the Temple of Concord and Victory to have a cup of coffee - served, in true National Trust style - in mismatched cups and saucers. I was tempted to buy one of the teaspoons but held back - I still regret it. Imagine being so rich you could just build a Temple instead of a garden shed?

13 August 2016

a little visit to zante | greece.

When I was a little bit younger, I did a bit of Greek island hopping - starting in Athens before heading off to Crete, Santorini and Mykonos. The plan was to also make a stop in Zante, but the sea wasn't good enough to get across and we went to Kefalonia instead. Zante had been one of the islands I'd wanted to go to the most, so I was pretty gutted and vowed I'd make it across there one day. So when it came to booking a cheap summer holiday, Zante kept popping up and it didn't seem like worst choice. So, a cheesy 10 day all inclusive cheap getaway was booked, and I was off. 

In hindsight, I possibly could have done with doing a little bit more research about Zante. I was looking for the perfect combination of history, good beaches, good food, good and heat. We got two of those, but we were at a loss for the most part. Firstly, there were great beaches. We stayed right near Kalamaki, and every day there was a spot we could get and not be disturbed by anyone, the water was clear and we could also grab pedalos to search for turtles. The heat couldn't be beaten either - there were days when it reached well over 40 degrees. 

But, there was pretty much nothing pretty in Zante, anything worth looking at. There were no small villages to have a wonder around - everything had been destroyed in an earthquake in 1953 and everything that had been rebuilt since seemed to have only been half finished. There was no where to get proper Greek food, no where that you thought the locals might have gone for their night's out. Every place was just catered towards tourists, nothing felt very real. Also, I hadn't realised that you couldn't flush the loo paper...

Despite that, I had a brilliant holiday. I got a tan for one of the first times in my life, remembered what it was like to actually feel the sun on my face and spent most of my days sleeping, reading, drinking cocktails and not thinking about work. I finished off some books which I'd been meaning to read for absolutely ages. It's just a shame I could have been anywhere to do that.
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