Sunday, 29 July 2012

Silent Sunday - Today we are...

Loving the Olympics fever in London
Wondering where the sunshine has disappeared to
Making Jamie's strawberry and halloumi salad
Drinking Pimms
Eating strawberries and cream (we can't get enough!)
Going for gold with Stella McCartney

Are you watching the Olympics? What did you get up to today?

Thursday, 26 July 2012

What to eat tonight - Chilled Cucumber Soup

I have learnt over the years that chilled soup is a little bit like marmite. It’s something that you either love or hate. I still very clearly remember on a hot summer's evening a few years ago, cooking a 'fancy' dinner party for a group of friends and serving this little number as a starter.

I presented it with pride in a beautiful silver soup dish, sprinkled it with parsley and mint, chuffed as nuts that my guests were going to love the gorgeous creamy crispy chilled cucumber yumminess that awaited them. The oohs and aaahs were swiftly followed by confusion, which, I must admit, I was oblivious to at the time! So at the end of the evening and after a few glasses of vino blanco, one of my guests came over to me and in a 'Come dine with me' tone that was hideously embarrassing for me (rather than for him) whispered … ‘It was really great and all, but the only thing is... it was a bit cold...’

Needless to say, despite selling the concept to the best of my ability, he wasn't at all convinced by soup on the rocks and this is the thing with chilled soup - it’s an opinion divider.  Like marmite, you love it or you hate it! I have, however, learnt my lesson and only make it if I know I will have happy guests at the end of the evening.

Personally, I love soup - it's generally (if you avoid the stilton, creamy ones) low in fat, full of the good stuff and it fills you up - what's not to love?!

So do as the Italians do and enjoy yours cold! Here is my recipe for the perfect chilled cucumber soup just as my mama made it. It is a very relaxed, simple recipe and the amount of milk/cream you add is up to how thick or light you prefer your soup. Hope you like it!

Chilled Cucumber Soup
  • 2 Cucumber - grated or roughly chopped 
  • 1 cup of yoghurt 
  • 2 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar 
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
  • Cream/milk depending on texture 
  • Half a clove of garlic grated 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Small bunch of parsley/mint to garnish 
Whizz altogether gently so you still have the bite of the cucumber.
Keep in the fridge until ready to serve
Serve chilled.

Do you have a favourite cold soup? We’d love to know which one you like. Or if it’s not your thing – we’re happy to hear what you love eating on a hot summers evening instead.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Silent Sunday - Today we are...

Sunning ourselves in the garden
Eating fresh berries and reading the Sunday papers
Painting our nails Tropical Breeze with L.A. Colors Color Craze
Being thankful for blue skies
Making Thomasina Miers' Three-Tomato Salad
Going for a lazy afternoon stroll

How are you celebrating your Sunday?

Friday, 20 July 2012

A secret you'll want to share

We are always on the hunt for something different, creative and not available on the highstreet.

So, this week we are really excited to introduce you to Secrets Unearthed - a gorgeous range of handcrafted Jewellery from sunny Cape Town designer Gina Prins. 

To give you an idea of why we are loving this girl's style, take a peek at her beautiful vintage tea party shoot, which shows off the new collection perfectly in the ultimate girly setting.

Vintage tea party with Secrets Unearthed
Vintage tea party with Secrets Unearthed
As you can see, Secrets Unearthed oozes vintage style. Gina gets inspiration from old stamps, coins and broken up pieces of porcelain, which she combines with fine silver and resin to create unique shapes and one off designs that have their own story. Using a mix of sterling silver and semi-precious gemstone pieces, she brings together different elements of nature such as wood and mother of pearl.

If you love her style as much as we do (and we really do) get in touch and see what she has to suit you. Her customised style is perfect for bridesmaids gifts too.

We are:
Contact Gina directly - she can deliver her designs all over the world, do let us know what you choose and spread the word – we think she’s fab!

To see more of Gina’s collection you can visit her Facebook page or follow her on Tumblr.

Happy shopping x

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What to eat tonight - Pasta alla Norma

"Life is too short, and I'm Italian. I'd much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size 0."
Sophia Bush

And I agree.

Since watching the entire box set of the Sopranos I have been completely obsessed with Italian food. To be honest, I am sure it actually started way before that, but the Sopranos definitely revived it for me. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter as a little girl, with my dad checking whether spaghetti was cooked by throwing it up onto the ceiling - if it was cooked - it would stick. I am not sure if this really worked, but hey, it was fun at the time.

Tonight I am cooking Jamie Oliver's Pasta alla Norma. It easy and SO full of flavour - perfect for a midweek meal. First things first, pour yourself a glass of cold white wine and get cooking Italiano style.

Buon appetito

Pasta alla Norma 

Pasta alla Norma - photo courtesy of Jamie Oliver - Jamie's Italy
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 large aubergines
extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
optional: 1 dried red chilli, crumbled
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a large bunch of fresh basil stalks finely sliced keep the leaves
1 teaspoon good herb or white wine vinegar
2 x 400g tins of good quality chopped plum tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
455g dried spaghetti
150g salted ricotta, pecorino or parmesan cheese grated
  1. Cut your aubergines in half lengthways and the in half again so they are finger sized pieces. If the aubergines have fluffy centres remove them and chuck away
  2. Get a large non stick pan and fry the aubergine in oil and dried oregano - don't use too much oil - just enough to make sure the aubergine is lightly coated and is able to brown
  3. Once cooked add the chilli and turn it down to medium heat and add a little oil, the garlic and basil stalks 
  4.  Stir so everything gets cooked evenly, then add a swig of herb vinegar and the tins of tomato
  5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes then TASTE and correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Tear up half the basil add to the sauce and toss around
  6. Get your spaghetti in a pan of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions. 
  7. When it's al dente, drain it in a colander and reserve a little of the cooking water 
  8. Add it to the Norma sauce with a little of the reserved cooking water, toss together back on the heat
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking 
  10. Sprinkle with remaining basil leaves, grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. 
Let us know how you get on..

Monday, 9 July 2012

A Dazzling DIY Wedding

I love weddings – especially when they fall on a Friday, resulting in a day off work: an excuse to wear my favourite heels and drink champagne – what’s not to love? 

Last Friday we were invited to a gorgeous wedding in the English countryside (and were treated to typical English weather!). Even though the rain did not let up (buckets of luck for the bride and groom!), it didn’t put a dampener on the day. 

The ceremony was held in a beautiful local church – all stained glass windows and oak-panelled walls. The bride looked absolutely breathtaking and I found it difficult not to shed a tear when the couple were saying their vows – always such an emotional moment. 

The reception took place at Tithe Barn, a gorgeous 16th Century building in the Hampshire countryside. We were treated to champagne and tasty canap├ęs on arrival - the sun even made a brief appearance so we could enjoy our drinks outside! 

Sarah (the bride), is incredibly talented and there were so many amazing touches and little details which made their day so unique. From the hand-sewn menus to the table centre arrangements and the present table, the book theme was carried through beautifully. 

The food was delicious - steak and ale pie with creamy cheddar and chive mash, followed by white chocolate passion fruit roulade with raspberry sorbet and sesame seed shard. 

After the meal, the bride and groom took to the dance floor for their first dance. The band was one of the best bands I’ve ever heard – they kept the party going all night long! There were also some great fancy dress props for photos which guests (including me!) had loads of fun trying on (and wearing on the dance floor!). 

The day was over too quickly – such a beautiful wedding, made even more special because of all the personal touches. I am crossing fingers Sarah will let us feature more of her gorgeous wedding (and some DIY tips) when she’s back from honeymoon! 

Matt and Sarah, thank you for letting us share your perfect day!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Silent Sunday - Today we are..

Watching Wimbledon (Go Fed)!
Eating strawberries (and cream - tsk tsk but so tasty)
Making (and drinking) Strawberry Champagne cocktails (thanks Jamie Oliver)
Enjoying the smell and look of freshly cut roses (is there anything better)
Cooking a roast chicken (the husband's fave)
Enjoying the intermittent bursts of real sunshine (YAY - no wellies today)
Wearing yellow (see above ;)

What are you doing and who are you supporting? We’re a hung jury here! One Murray and one die-hard Fed.

Happy Sunday, we’ll see you in the week!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Chocolate & Guinness Cake

Ok, I know I should be posting a strawberry something or rather as we're all a flutter with the Wimbledon bug (don't worry that is still to come)... but I just couldn't resist posting this dark Chocolate and Guinness Cake delicious-ness from Nigella Lawson.

In the words of the Domestic Goddess herself, "This cake is magnificent in its damp blackness".

It really is easy as pie, and coming from me, the one side of the PT team who is still a novice in the baking stakes, that's saying something. This cake is a real gem to have up your sleeve and all who taste - will love!

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate and Guinness Cake (Feast 2004)

Makes: around 12 slices - depending on how big you like your slices ;)
Preparation Time: 10-15 mins
Cooking Time: 45 mins to an hour

For the Cake
  • 250ml can of Guinness 
  • 250g unsalted butter 
  • 75g cocoa 
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 1 x 142 pot sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp real vanilla extract
  • 275g plain flour 
  • 2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the Topping
  • 300g Philadelphia cream cheese 
  • 150g icing sugar 
  • 125ml double or whipping cream 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/gas mark 4 and line a 23cm spring foam tin.
  2. Pour the guinness into a saucepan, add the butter and heat, until melted, when you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. 
  3. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla, then add to the pan, whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
  4. Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 45 mins to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack. 
  5. Whip the cream cheese, until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar, then beat together. Add the cream and beat again. Ice the top of the cake so it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint. 
And enjoy!