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High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

A much-loved book as a teenager, which I don’t think I really ‘got’ until now. In fact, I know I didn’t. Confession time: Rob was my dream man for quite a while. Reading it back now, that is totally laughable! (Sorry Rob…) I have a massive nerd crush on Nick Hornby and this book is the main reason why – it is perfectly formed, kind of depressive, totally real and darkly funny. If you’ve not read it, do it now.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling 

Okay, if you don’t love Mindy Kaling after reading this book then you have a heart of stone. It’s got her own unique voice which is funny, smart and totally adorable. There are some laugh out loud moments, a few heart-wrenching parts, lots of nodding-in-agreement and a wonderful anecdote about Amy Poehler which is the best thing ever. A lovely, light read – if you like The Mindy Project, or just awesome women, then this is definitely one for you!

Cat by Freya North 

I actually re-read this book because of the Tour de France. The fervour about Le Tour in Leeds this year reminded me of this book, which is where all of my Tour de France knowledge comes from. I loved Freya North books as a teenager but reading this back now just shows me how much my tastes have changed. This was a little too ‘chick lit’ for me now – the characters were a little implausible and I found myself getting a bit annoyed at the protagonist. That said, it does really capture an excitement about Le Tour which is interesting to read and I like Freya North’s writing style.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris 

This is one of the only times when I’ve seen the movie before reading the book, but it was so long ago that it didn’t spoil it for me. The book felt darker than the movie somehow, and more evocative. I spent a lot of the time reading it my eyes pricked with tears – it was an emotional read and the ending wasn’t quite the closure I was hoping for. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequels – I loved the touch of magical realism, the wonderful characters and, of course, all the descriptions of food.

What have you been reading recently?

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golden field

 [Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel]

A Sunday well spent brings a week of content. That’s what they say, don’t they? My Sunday is mostly going to be spent baking, blogging, prepping lunches for the rest of the week and chain-watching Ugly Betty, which I’ve just realised is on Netflix. I think that counts as well spent. This week has been a little crazy, in a good way. I’m gearing up for a week off at the end of August which makes things super busy – but I’m excited to spend some time doing *nothing*. Well, almost nothing. I’m no good at actually doing nothing. How are you spending your Sunday?

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Row of Le Creuset Mugs // Amy Elizabeth

I am new to the world of Le Creuset – I have known about it, of course, for years but it is only recently that I have experienced the true joy of cast iron cooking. It was Lil who persuaded me that it was worth the investment, and since picking up a set of five red Le Creuset saucepans I have been completely converted. I know that this is the start of a life-long love affair and I already have my eye on the next pieces I want to add to my collection.

Lil from Whip Until Fluffy // Amy Elizabeth

Which is why I was completely over the moon to be invited to the Le Creuset shop in the Victoria Quarter on Yorkshire Day of all days, to find out a little bit more about the brand, perv over some delicious cookware and be treated to a cookery demonstration by my enabler herself, Lil from Whip Until Fluffy. Her blog will convince you that this girl know what she’s doing, but I was totally blown away by the Yorkshire-inspired menu that she cooked up – so much so that I tried to recreate it for myself the very next day! The shop was also impressive – a haven of rainbow-coloured cookware in a light and bright setting.

Bowl of Yorkshire Chorizo // Amy Elizabeth

We’re very lucky to have some wonderful Yorkshire produce to play with, especially at this time of year. I was surprised to find that Yorkshire-produced wine is as good as any I’ve had – and I’ll definitely be taking myself to Latitude Wines to get myself another bottle at some point. Lil cooked up a courgette risotte with said white wine, Ribblesdale goat cheese and a lovely drizzle of Lemon Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil. It was incredibly moreish and cooked to perfection – I’ll let her share the recipe with you, but suffice to say this is one I’ll be adding into my weekly rotation.

Courgette Risotto // Amy Elizabeth

As well as this, she made a Spanish-inspired chicken casserole with Yorkshire Chorizo (made at The Reliance, and possessing a delicious meaty flavour and chunky texture that supermarket chorizo just cannot replicate) and green beans. Whilst the dish itself was delicious, I was definitely most taken with the gorgeous yellow shallow casserole dish she made it in – so much so that I almost bought it right there and then. It was perfect for frying off the ingredients and then for placing straight into the oven, as well as for serving straight to the table. With a lifetime guarantee as well, it’s a bargain right? Right? I walked away without it, but I’m regretting that decision massively right now…

Le Creuset Yellow Shallow Casserole Dish // Amy Elizabeth

Le Creuset Yellow Shallow Casserole Dish // Amy Elizabeth

To finish off the evening, Lil made us a Yorkshire Tea ice cream with a piquant rhubarb pickle – an unusual pudding and perhaps a little strange sounding, but it was delightful; soft, creamy ice cream with a hint of tea flavour and sharp rhubarb to cut through. Keep an eye out on her blog for the recipe for that one.

Cooking Risotto // Amy Elizabeth

All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend an evening and just proved how wonderful our local food is – I’m definitely going to try and source even more of our food from around these parts (first stop: that chorizo) and try to highlight these delicacies on my blog. It also proved how a little money spent on cookware can really make a difference; yellow dish, you will be mine!

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So, without further ado – my Great British Blogger Bake off comes to a close. There were significantly less innuendos than the real deal, but lots of delicious bakes!

I was totally obsessing over Danielle’s Rosemary & Balsamic Strawberry Scones, which sound right up my street and I am definitely giving them a go! Char’s inspired me to look at other stand mixers other than my beloved KitchenAid – and her coffee/chocolate combo is drool-worthy. You all know how I love a brownie and I love a Raspberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake Brownie even more. Paul’s Pear & Ginger Upside Down Cake looks sophisticated and grown-up as well as yummy.

But the star baker is… Peaches & Green! Whilst usually I love me some gluten, Laura’s Banana Coconut Cream Pie with Macadamia Nut Crust looks totally delicious and her post is laugh-out-loud funny. So congratulations Laura!

banana pie

Happy Baking everyone :) 

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White Chocolate and Limoncello Tarts // Amy Elizabeth

The combination of white chocolate and limoncello together is like crack for me. Something about the sweetness, the slight tartness, the creaminess is just addictive. It’s my go to when I want to make something fancy. These little tarts are just perfection, even if I do say so myself.

The recipe is from John Whaite Bakes, which is a great book. You might remember John winning Great British Bake Off a couple of years ago, and this book is a testament to the fact that the right man won (although my money was on James Morton, who also has a fab book about bread baking). The recipes are comforting and relatively easy to make, and most of them are things that you’ll actually eat on a regular basis – no fancy, swirly cakes only fit for special occasions, just sweet and savoury goodies that will feed your heart as well as your stomach.

I usually wouldn’t make pastry myself – I’m lazy that way – but this sweet shortcrust is so simple and since it’s not something you can easily get your hands on in the shops (a simple shortcrust just won’t do) it’s worth a little bit of extra effort.

White Chocolate and Limoncello Tarts // Amy Elizabeth

For the pastry, you’ll need:

  • 1 egg
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g salted butter, cut into 1cm cubes

For the filling, you’ll need:

  • 150g white chocolate, chopped
  • 60ml double cream
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp. Limoncello

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar and vanilla for a minute until fully combined.

2. Sift the flour into the mixture and stir together using a wooden spoon. The resulting mixture should look like small crumbs.

3. Add in the cubed butter and ‘cut in’ to the mixture using a butter knife or pastry cutter. I sometimes find using a fork as well speeds the process along.

4. Once the mixture has come together into a dough, tip onto a clean chopping board and knead gently for 30 seconds. Wrap in baking paper and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. If you leave it in for much longer than that, it may need to sit out for 5 minutes before you can roll it – mine was rock solid after 5 hours in there!

5. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the pastry to around 4-5mm thickness. Cut out 12 circles with a 3-inch cookie cutter. 

6. Grease a cupcake tray and place the pastry circles into it. Prick the bottom of each tart with a fork. Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans (or rice if you don’t have any) and bake for 12 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven and take out the paper and baking beans. Bake for a further 5 minutes and then leave to cool completely.

8. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it’s just too hot to touch. It shouldn’t boil or simmer. Stir in the zest and limoncello.

9. Place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl or jug (I find a jug easier because you can pour the filling more easily). Pour the cream over the chocolate and mix until smooth.

10. Pour into the pastry cases and leave to chill in the fridge until set. Top with extra lemon zest or a sprinkle of dark chocolate if you’re feeling fancy.

White Chocolate and Limoncello Tarts // Amy Elizabeth

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Typewriter

(Photo by Sergey Zolkin via Unsplash

Is it just me that’s kind of glad that it’s raining today? I’ve got no plans, so I’m just going to curl up under a blanket, do some knitting and watch a Harry Potter film. I’m sure I’ll be bored of the rain come October, but it’s so much harder to have a proper lazy day when the sun is shining. This week has been kind of lazy, actually – the first proper break in a hectic summer. Of course, the big news is that Great British Bake Off is back! I’m excited about it – mostly because it feels like an excuse to make/eat baked goods on the regular. I’m cheering for Martha, for sure – even if I am jealous of teenage prodigies most of the time. On that note, have you submitted your best ever baking post to the Great British Blogger Bake Off? If not, get yourself over there now and add your link before it’s too late! You don’t have to write something new and special, just show me your buns! (And cakes and brownies and bread and doughnuts. Basically, anything made of dough). Let’s spread the baking love across the Internet!

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afternoon tea 1

This summer has been the most decadent time of my life. We’ve eaten like kings, drunk far too much wine, stayed up too late and generally had an excellent time. And is there anything quite as decadent as afternoon tea? A little nook of time carved out in the afternoon – when work and chores are usually prevalent – just for some indulgence. There is something wonderfully quaint about the whole process. Especially when there’s prosecco involved.

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Now, you’ll know that I’m not usually one for health food – especially when it comes to cake. I would always rather eat a small slice of delicious, calorific, butter-laden cake then a hundred slices of some imitation cake made with edamame beans and sadness. However, there is a happy compromise – Filmore & Union. Set up right in the middle of the picturesque Victoria Quarter to provide the people of Leeds with super juices and other such nourishment, I was surprisingly delighted by their afternoon tea – which was, relatively speaking, quite healthy.

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What arrived at our table was three tiers laden with goodies – from savoury canapés on the bottom right up to sumptuous cakes on the top. Particular highlights for me were the smoked salmon canapé with a dill and lemon cream cheese on malted rye bread and the dark chocolate & raspberry brownie, which was super fudgey and delicious. As it was all gluten-free, the cake was a little crumbly, and I did miss the piles of clotted cream & jam on my blueberry scone (although honey was a nice touch that I’d not thought of before) but otherwise it was perfect for an afternoon spent nibbling and chatting.

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If you pick up a store guide in the Victoria Quarter, you also get 2 for 1 on your afternoon tea (which was what persuaded us to start with!). I’m not sure how long the offer will last, so get yourself down there pronto!

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Since I was showing my Uni friends my favourite parts of Leeds, it was only fitting to take them to my favourite restaurant as well. I first discovered Pinche Pinche three years ago at the Leeds Loves Food festival and I’ve been hooked ever since. Living just down the road makes it the perfect spot for date nights, special occasions and just because dinners.

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They have an extensive menu – from mini portions of tacos for starters or sharing to big plates – which means it can take some time to choose! I’ll give you a hand – the lamb is excellent, and if you’re a meat eater, you will seriously regret it if you don’t have at least one lamb dish. It’s melt in your mouth and crazy delicious. I like it in their enchiladas – covered in melted cheese, with a mild green salsa. Paul prefers it in tacos with a spicier version of the salsa – although be warned if you think you’re hard enough for their spiciest version. You’re probably not. I also love their little prawn tacos to start – the mango salsa is lovely and fresh and the prawns are big and juicy. The perfect combination.

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Suffice to say, we were pretty stuffed and decided to pass on pudding on this occasion. However, if you have a sweet tooth like me then the churros are the obvious choice. Who doesn’t love fried dough dipped in chocolate? No one, that’s who.

The best way to end a meal at Pinche Pinche, however, is with one of their tequilas. So many people I know don’t like tequila but when it’s served like this – for sipping, not shooting – it’s totally delicious. One is definitely enough but I can’t resist that one!

I literally cannot rave about Pinche Pinche enough – it’s excellent value for money (I don’t ever part with much more than £30 for drinks and three courses), the service is always friendly and the food is some of the best to be found in Leeds. I’m not the only one who thinks so, so be sure to book if you want to go on a Friday or Saturday!

pinche pinche 1

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Dark & Stormy Brownies - Rum and Ginger Brownies // Amy Elizabeth

Ready, set, bake! 

If you caught last week’s post then you’ll know that I’m having a friendly little competition to celebrate the new series of the Great British Bake Off! I hope you’ve all been busy sifting, folding and icing because here it is!

To be in the running to win a Great British Bake Off cookbook of your choice, just add your link at the bottom of this post. All the information and rules can be found here, although mostly it’s just that there are no rules! You can add whatever you like to the mix, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a pro or a newbie baker. It’s all jolly good fun. The link-up will be open until midnight on Friday to give you a little bit extra time and I’ll be announcing the winner on Monday!

It would be great if you checked out your fellow contestants work and spread the baking love. If you want to tweet then I’ll be using the hashtag #GBBBO so I can keep track of everyone and make sure that I get to drool at all of your delicious bakes! Good luck!

UPDATE: I’ve now extended the entry deadline to midnight on Sunday and I’ll be announcing the winner on Tuesday! Happy Baking!

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All the Gang

Living in halls at University is a bit of a strange experience. A bunch of (mostly) 18 year olds thrown into a dormitory of sorts and expected to live together in harmony for almost a year. You’re all strangers to each other in a strange place. But you know what? Some of the best friendships of my life were forged in that environment and I know that I’m not the only one that feels that way. If you’re nervous about heading off for University in September, don’t be – there will be hard times but there will also be brilliant times. Just fake it ’till you make it confidence-wise and bring a door-stop to make your room the welcoming one. That is my best bit of pre-University advice.

Amy Drinking Wine

Mike and Dani

All this to say that some of my University friends came to stay last weekend. It was their first time to Leeds in the three years I’ve lived here so I was keen to show them the best parts of this city. I love showing off Leeds – I feel like it belongs to me in a way so when guests compliment the bars, restaurants and parks of my hometown I feel a strange sense of pride. It was a glorious weekend – ridiculously hot and sunny but made all the better from hanging out with people that are just so much fun. People that you’ve known long enough to be comfortable with, but that you don’t get to see often enough. I feel like most of my friendships are a bit like that nowadays.

Mike Drinking Beer

Amy and James

In the daytime we soaked up the rare sunshine on the rooftop of Belgrave, snacking on Dough Boys pizza (£1 a slice! Total bargain.) and drinking G&Ts. A brief pitstop at Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton before a quick outfit change and some time spent at MustardStock – where these photos were taken. A whistle stop tour of some of my favourite places – although on such a flying visit it’s hard to pack it all in. Mostly I just wanted to spend time with these fantastic people. Thanks for visiting you guys, let’s now leave it so long next time!

Katie and Edd

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