It seems like autumn is well and truly here – I’m sitting under a fuzzy blanket dosed up on painkillers thanks to my first cold of the season. No fun. However, it’s not all doom and gloom; is it ever? This week has been slow-paced and much-needed. I baked some salted caramel cookies and some banana muffins. I watched Buffy. I cuddled the cat. I ordered some sparkly dresses to (maybe) wear as a wedding dress. It’s been good for me. How was your week?
- This is important: A journalist photographed me topless without my permission and sold the picture to the Daily Mail.
- 5 Questions to Ask Yourself when Decluttering (via Elise)
- I am definitely making these char siu buns. How good do they look?
- I’ll also be whipping up some of these cinnamon sugar popovers. Yum.
- I keep seeing adverts for Borrow my Doggy, which seems perfect for proody (puppy-broody) people like me – it’s good to know a little inside perspective.
- This will make you giggle: Texts from your Ex.
- Related: Niche dating sites that need to exist. I’d definitely be up for a Harry Potter-themed dating site if I was single.
- With the election coming up, it’s definitely worth thinking about this: 5 reasons I’m not politically engaged and how that can change.
- Now that the seasons are changing, why not try these different spice pairings?
- The top 10 things I learned in culinary school (via Tracy)
- An interview between Lena Dunham & Roxane Gay? Yes please.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Let’s just say that pastry is not one of my strengths… I have never been particularly confident with pastry – it feels tricky, fiddly and time-consuming. So, for the most part, I have always stuck to shop-bought and, for the most part, it has sufficed.
However, when I got the idea for this treacle tart in my head, I knew that ready-made, ready-rolled pastry wasn’t going to cut it. They say that life begins at the end of your comfort zone, well, so do decent baked goods. So I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in – kneading, rolling, blind baking, the whole shebang.
And… it wasn’t bad. In fact, it was pretty darn good for a pastry novice like myself. The pastry was flaky and flecked with the savoury taste of rosemary; although it was a little uneven in places, I avoided the dreaded soggy bottom. I like to think the crinkled edges give it a rustic effect.
There’s a lesson in all of this about not being afraid of failure, pastry-wise. The worst that can happen is it can end up in the bin. The best that can happen is that you get a delicious treacle tart, with an unusual but very welcome hit of rosemary and lemon. Sticky, sweet and best served warm with a big, fat dollop of cream.
- 225g plain flour
- 110g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg
- 1-2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
- 450g golden syrup
- 100g fresh breadcrumbs
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Thick double cream, clotted cream or ice cream (you choose!)
- 1. In a bowl, rub together the butter and flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
- 2. Mix in the egg using a knife. Throw in the rosemary.
- 3. Tip onto a lightly floured surface and bring the dough together. Knead for a few minutes to form a smooth dough.
- 4. Roll the dough to your required thickness (around 5mm) and use to line a pie dish. Don't worry if there's some overhang around the edge - we'll trim that off later! Prick the base all over with a fork.
- 5. Leave the pastry to cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- 6. Preheat the oven to 190C
- 7. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans (not baked beans!) or rice. Blind bake for 15 minutes before removing the beans/rice and returning to the oven for around 5 minutes more until the pastry is golden brown.
- 8. Trim any excess pastry from the rim of the dish.
- 9. Mix together the golden syrup, lemon zest, lemon juice and breadcrumbs. Tip into the pastry case.
- 10. Pop back in the oven to cook for 25-30 minutes.
- 11. Serve warm with your chosen accompaniment.
This weekend, Leeds played host to one of the most exciting foodie events in the UK: the British Street Food Awards, a three-day extravaganza of food and drink bringing the best of the best to our fair city. It’s not surprise really, Leeds has been championing street food for months (if not years) and some of the most celebrated street food vendors hail from here. Unsurprisingly, I snapped up a ticket almost straight away and eagerly checked the listings to see what culinary delights were on offer.
It was a food-lover’s paradise, with some incredibly exciting menus tempting you from all angles. Sadly, we couldn’t have one of everything – funds and stomach capacity are limiting things – so it was paramount to choose wisely. After much deliberation I got stuck into a soft-shell crab burger from The Crabbieshack, topped with sweetcorn salsa and lobster mayonnaise and some pork & black pudding dumplings from Dorshi (which I’ve been craving ever since they left Trinity Kitchen). The dumplings were just as good as I remembered, if not better, and although the crab burger was incredibly messy to eat it was also incredibly good.
Between us, we managed to try quite a few things – a black bean and chocolate soup, some avocado toast, a brisket burger with the hottest sauce known to man, a chapasty and yet more dumplings – but sadly we weren’t quick enough on the draw so by the time it came for round two, a lot of places had run out of the most popular items. Which meant that I didn’t get to try the ox cheek bun from eventual winners Fu-Schnickens but thankfully they hang around this neck of the woods so I’m hoping to stumble across them again.
However, that little niggle aside, it was a lovely night with some lovely people and some lovely food, and you can’t say fairer than that. Events like this give me the warm fuzzies for Leeds and its fantastic food scene, which is only going from strength to strength. Next time, I’ll be there on day one so I don’t miss a bite of anything!
You can see all the winners on the British Street Food awards website – be sure to check them out if you see them around town!
Watching lots of Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Eating takeaway sushi as much as possible.
Visiting Universities with my baby sister. How is she old enough?
Tasting wines at Cornucopia. I’d like to learn more.
Trying to decide on a wedding dress.
Driving solo, for the first time in years.
Knitting yet more snoods.
Reading Jane Eyre on the bus. It’s so much better the second time.
Toasting engagements and 30th birthdays.
Working my socks off. Can I have another bank holiday?
Cooking belly pork and lamb shoulder.
Wearing boots again. My favourite.
Planning a foodie podcast. Watch this space…
How about you?
Now that summer is over, everything feels like it’s slowed down. There is less spontaneity, fewer plans and more nights spent on the sofa underneath a fleecy blanket. I am okay with this. It was time. It means I have time to tidy my house, do a proper food shop and slow cook lamb for dinner. Which is very boring and domesticated, I know, but it’s definitely good for my peace of mind. That’s not to say that that nothing has been going on. I’ve been practising my driving (which is going well – the parking, not so much), I ran my fastest ever 6k and I spent last night at Millennium Square trying the best street food the country has to offer. I’ll be writing more about that in due course, but safe to say it was incredible! What have you been up to this week?
- Everyone needs to read this article: My year as an abortion doula. (Although small word of warning, there are a couple of graphic descriptions so if you’re squeamish like me, be prepared!)
- I want to be the person who runs Barbie’s Instagram. So good.
- Unsurprisingly, Lena Dunham gives great advice. I’m very excited about her book release.
- The most popular food on Twitter in every state. I wonder what the UK’s most talked about food would be? I’m guessing burgers.
- What does a recipe editor do? Related: I think I want to be a recipe editor. (via Rachel)
- These Harry Potter snapchat puns are the funniest thing I’ve seen all year. Witches be crazy!
- I need to eat this date & walnut banana bread with home-made salted caramel.
- 6 cafés turned literary landmarks. How fun! I wonder if we can think of any more? (via Paper/Plates)
- Dear Lost 20-Something. It’s all going to be okay.
A lot of people come to this blog looking for restaurant recommendations in Leeds. Although I have written about a fair few of my favourite places, I haven’t covered it all – some of the places I go to the most never get a mention, probably because I’m too busy having a good time there to get out my phone and take a snap.
So I’ve rounded up my favourite haunts in Leeds to eat, drink and shop for those people looking for somewhere new to try. These are all places that I have been, most of them more than once, which means that there are a few glaring omissions which get rave reviews from other Leeds foodies but I have yet to visit. Kendells Bistro, The Greedy Pig. and The Reliance are just a few that spring to mind. I’m sure that these will make their way onto the map in due course.
Everyone has different taste, of course, so these are just my personal favourites – the places I find myself visiting regularly or dreaming of going back. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do!
I am bad at eating breakfast. At school and university I was religious in my breakfast-eating, adamant that I couldn’t function in the morning without a bowl of cereal or a slice of toast. However, somewhere in my working life I have got out of the habit and more often than not it will be lunchtime before I eat. It’s not always because I would prefer an extra ten minutes in bed (although I would). It’s more often because I find breakfast foods completely unappetising in the morning. However expensive the granola, it always feels a bit cardboard-y.
That said, I think I have found a solution in this breakfast yoghurt. It’s very much a copy of Leon’s ‘Yoghurt of the Gods’, which I picked up on a trip back from London earlier in the summer. It’s easy to assemble, sweet enough to satisfy and the dark chocolate adds a lovely texture and bitterness to this otherwise unnervingly soft dish. There’s something about being allowed to eat chocolate for breakfast that just makes it appealing – but I can feel vaguely virtuous as it’s dark chocolate and that cures heart attacks, or something. This doesn’t really count as a recipe, but I wanted to share the combination in case there are other breakfast-averse folk like me out there, searching for a solution.
What do you eat for breakfast? I would love more suggestions!
- 1 banana, sliced
- 2-3 big spoonfuls Greek yoghurt
- 1 big squidge of honey
- 1 square dark chocolate, chopped
- Place the banana and yoghurt at the bottom of the bowl.
- Pour over honey and dark chocolate to taste.
- Stir together (or don't) and enjoy with your morning coffee or juice.
Have you ever considered applying for the Great British Bake Off? Despite my love of a well-baked cake, it’s not something that’s ever crossed my mind – I love the show but I am aware of my own failings as a baker. Brownies, I’ve got nailed. I’m pretty nifty with a tart and I’m not bad with biscuits but when it comes to bread, I’ve got a long way to go.
However, this soda bread recipe is easy peasy, lemon squeezey. Even the most bread-phobic like me will be able to knock up a loaf in less than fifteen minutes. I based this on A Girl Called Jack’s recipe for rhubarb & ginger soda bread, but subbed it for some autumn-y flavours. I am a bit obsessed with cardamom at this time of year. September is actually a really fruitful month, with lots of lovely my favourite foods in season so I’m trying to make the most of it with plenty of apples, pears and butternut squashes.
You can use any kind of pears for this recipe, but they’re best if they’re ripe and a bit bashed around because they’re sweeter. Pears are a bit awkward – they take ages to ripen and then go past their best in a snap – so this is a good way to use up a couple from the bottom of the fruit bowl.
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 300g plain flour
- 1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp. golden caster sugar
- 2 medium-sized pears, peeled and chopped into small cubes
- Seeds of cardamom pods, crushed
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
- Pour the milk and lemon juice into a jug and briefly stir. Leave for a few minutes to curdle into buttermilk.
- In a large bowl, sift together the bicarbonate of soda and flour.
- Add the pear and cardamom seeds. Stir together until combined.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the milk mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. It should be slightly sticky but not too wet. Add more flour if it becomes too sticky.
- Spread some flour onto a chopping board. Tip out the dough and knead a couple of times to bring together. Shape into a loaf and pop into a loaf tin.
- Cut a crease down the centre and bake for 40 minutes.
- Serve warm with lashings of butter.
I feel like these introductions are always the same – but that’s because life pretty much plods along at the same pace. I’m happy with that. When I was younger I dreamed of an exciting life full of twists and turns, but I am learning that contentment comes from a steady life with a few adventures thrown in. This week has been much the same as any week, work and play in equal measures. My definitely highlights were last night’s menu at Cornucopia, birthday celebrations for a sweet friend on Saturday, and some drinks & piles of pulled pork with Emma and Ally on Tuesday. Blogger talk is always fun. I also drove my new car on my own for the first time and didn’t die, which is a massive win. And I started work on a new scarf. It’s official, everyone is getting scarves for Christmas.
How was your week?
- Could we stop feeling “guilty” for wanting an effing brownie? YES!
- Books you should read now based on your high school favourite. Because my ‘to read’ list isn’t long enough already…
- On the topic of books, if you’re ready Bad Feminist, why not get yourself some sprinkle dipped marshmallows to go with it? Yep. It’ll make sense if you read the link.
- Oh, and how cute are these little free libraries? I want to start one!
- How fake is food styling?
- Amazing Roald Dahl cakes that Wonka himself would be proud of. Matilda was always my favourite Roald Dahl book, how about you?
- I’m clinging onto summer with this roasted tomato and garlic tart from Smitten Kitchen.
I always wish I was faster at reading. I am pretty speedy – I can finish a short-ish book in a day – but it’s never fast enough. Especially if the plot is good – I want to absorb the whole thing but I also want to find out what happens. Plus, I’ve just started a ’52 books’ challenge on Goodreads and the overachiever in me wants to finish it as soon as possible. I know, I’m the worst. Still, it’s helped me commit to reading some pretty great things – I raided my local Oxfam bookshop this month for some new books which I’m already excited to read!
Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales
I’ve not read much non-fiction recently, so this was a nice departure for me. For those who don’t know the story of the Bling Ring, this book follows the court case of a bunch of Californian teenagers who robbed the homes of celebrities including Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. It’s an interesting story (which is probably why Sofia Coppola made a movie about it…) and Sales links the case to some wider issues surrounding celebrity culture and social media. I think that it’s perhaps a little out of date – I feel like times have moved on and our relationship with celebrities has changed but there are definitely some salient points made. Plus, reading about these teenagers is entertainment in itself – they are almost caricatures of themselves at points and it’s hard to believe both how they dared to commit the robberies and also that some of the celebrities didn’t even notice because they had so much stuff…
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This was actually a re-read for me – but it was so long ago that my memory of the book was kind of fuzzy and didn’t stretch much past ‘it’s a classic’. I am so glad that I picked it back up because it truly deserves that description – it’s truly astounding. She seems to love these characters, which makes you love them, too, and she deals with some heart-wrenching topics with a softness and sensitivity that stays with you. The ending is stunning, and will leave you stunned. One thing’s for sure, my next cat is definitely going to be called Catticus Finch.
Hyperbole & a Half by Allie Brosh
If you hang out on the Internet often, you’ll probably have seen Allie Brosh’s work – whether you realise it’s her or not. Her hilarious blog gained her Internet fame (rightly so); I have been reduced to both hysterics and tears by it in the past. I was a little disappointed that a lot of the book was reproduced from the blog, but a really funny story told twice is still funny – and a poignant one doesn’t lose anything either. The stories range from touching stories about her adopted dogs, heart-wrenching tales of depression and hilarious anecdotes about a goose loose about the
hoose kitchen. I devoured this in a day – it would make a great gift for someone.
One Day by David Nicholls
The hype over this book rather passed me by the first time, but having relatively recently read Starter for Ten, I was convinced to pick this up off the bookshelf. I am *so* glad that I did – I enjoyed this book immensely and now I want to lend it to everybody I know. The characters are perfectly flawed and so wonderfully written, and I was so emotionally invested that I bawled my eyes out by the end. It’s a little cheesy, sure, but that is part of the joy. If you’re after a grown-up love story and a bit of cathartic release then this is definitely one for you.