Sunday, 31 March 2013

recipe :: Leek and Gruyère Frittata

Easter Egg Hunt: 
Spot the odd one out
(no prizes, just the satisfaction of knowing you really are quite bright)
Yesterday we had a delivery of fresh speckled eggs from my brother-in-law's chickens (thanks Anthony!). It's good to know that we are edging ever closer to Spring now that the chickens are laying again. And we've gained that valuable extra hour. Now all we need is some warm sunshine to start warming up the garden...

If you have a surfeit of eggs why not try a frittata?

Leek and Gruyère Frittata 
20g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
coarse sea salt and pepper
6 organic eggs
125ml milk
75g Gruyère cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 190C/ gas mark 5. Heat the butter and oil over a medium heat in a 25cm cast iron frying pan. Sauté the leeks until golden and soft and season them well. In a bowl beat the eggs and milk and pour over the cooked leeks. Sprinkle on the grated cheese and let it cook on a medium heat for a good 5-7 minutes until the edges are set but the middle is still runny. Then put into the oven for another 8 minutes or until the middle is set through.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

egged on

We're just back in from a very chilly Easter egg-travaganza at the local Scouts Den. It was truly egg-cellent. Egg-cept for the freezing cold. But I suppose that's to be egg-spected at this time of year. The boys egg-celled themselves. Hugo egg-citedly joined in the egg and spoon and William won first place in his group's 'Best Decorated Egg' competition...he was egg-static!

 I am loving Mide's egg (in the middle) - it just has the perfect gin and tonic overload egg-pression! Okay enough of that. Happy Easter to one and all!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

marching orders

March is proving to be a difficult month- all freezing wind and low temperatures. We are being battered by a gale at the minute so my thoughts have turned to all things comfort.

The wood-burning stoves are roaring, just out of the oven the rhubarb crumble is waiting for custard and tomorrow night's stew is put-puttering gently. Tonight, total comfort food is in order- risotto with parmesan, peas and pancetta... then time to choose a blanket and finish Andrew Kaufman's 'All my friends are superheroes' - a quirky but lovely little book.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

recipe :: chocolate chip cookies

Sometimes all it takes is a little organisation and thought and suddenly you have occupied children and full tummies. Today two recipes - one for play-dough and one for biscuit dough (like what I did there??)

The play-dough does not need cooking which makes it super quick and easy. You will need:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons food colouring

Simply mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and when the dough combines, turn it out onto a floured board and knead for a good minute or two until it comes fully together. Add children to the mix for some fun...
The other dough recipe is for chocolate chip cookies from River Cottage Everyday. Don't mix them up!

You will need:

  • 125g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g dark chocolate broken into smallish pieces

Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the sugars and beat well until dissolved. Scrape this into a mixing bowl and beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. Sift in the flour and baking powder and stir this in, then add the chocolate pieces. The mixture should be pretty soft and sloppy. Put parchment on two baking trays and then dot tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking parchment, leaving a good space between each one as they spread quite a bit. Bake for about 8-10 minutes. When cooked leave on the baking tray for a minute or two to firm up a little, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

st. patrick's day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Go 40 Shades of Green!

Road to Hill End 1, oil on linen, 76 x 60 cm, 2011
Gorgeous landscape by Laura Jones 

Fabric swatch by Phoebe Wahl

Sea Form by Tracey Walker

Herbs Card
Cute herb card from Rifle Paper Co.

Fabulous friendly lion silk screen print by Mina Braun

Green Etched Tumbler
Green tumblers from Ben Pentreath

Lime Scarf from Anthropologie

The Greenest Salad
The greenest salad from 101cookbooks

Buttercup Linen Mouse
Little mouse in green dress from The Linen Cat

Lambswool socks from Donna Wilson

Monday, 11 March 2013


My love affair with Persephone Books continues. I am half way through Greenery Street and am relishing every second of it, trying my best not to gobble it down in one, but nibble slowly. 

I read Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey a couple of months ago, a story which focuses on the morning of a wedding when the bride, Dolly, knows she is about to make a mistake...
And tonight I won't care how many snowflakes fall as I will be tucked up beside the fire watching the film, admiring all those fabulous costumes. To give you a glimpse there's a lovely interview with the screen writer Mary Henely Magill here.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Mother's day

In a matter of hours it will be Mother's Day. Our mothers do so much for so little. So this Mother's Day be grateful for her and say 'merci', thank you Mum. For everything.

Cute card from here

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

recipe :: easy carrot cake

Oh my goodness time flies even when you're not having fun! The last few weeks have sped past and the work/life balance has been well, unbalanced. There has been a bit too much rushing around, working, cooking, cleaning, driving and endless shopping all with the predictable grande finale of crashing onto the sofa at nightfall wondering just where did the day go. And just not enough time left to do the things I want to do.

So today I took charge. I got up an hour earlier than normal and so had time to myself with plenty of time leftover to get the boys out the door without the usual screaming and flapping of arms. I have managed to beat the laundry monster (just for today) and right now the kitchen is cinnamon and nutmeg scented thanks to the carrot cake baking. Cake nearly always makes everything all right.

And later, when the house is quiet and children are slumbering, I will make time for this, which arrived today. So, that's two things to be grateful for: cake and a good book.

Afternoon in the kitchen by Phoebe Wahl

Dan Lepard's easy carrot cake

175g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
200g light soft brown sugar
150ml sunflower oil
3 medium eggs
150-200g grated carrot about 3 smallish ones
75g chopped walnuts or pecans (optional, I never use them as Will hates nuts in cakes)

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a tin with non stick paper/parchment. I use a square tin about 21cm. Sift the flour, spices and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl mix the sugar and oil together until smooth, then beat in the eggs. Stir in the grated carrots (and nuts, if using) and then fold in the flour mixture. Pour into the baking tin and bake for about 25 minutes testing with a skewer which should come out clean. Allow to cool and then top with your favourite cream cheese/mascarpone icing or leave un-iced for a plainer but still delicious cake. I have also spooned the mixture into muffin cases and made carrot cake muffins instead. A hit at breakfast time. And if carrot cake isn't your thing I think this looks really good instead.