Weekend Link Love

frozen berries

[Photo by Devin Rajaram]

Welcome to November, pals! Can you believe it? 2015 has been a whirlwind, for sure. It’s only going to get worse/better, too. I’m kind of excited. Christmas is coming, and I have an excuse to drink lots of Prosecco and eat my favourite foods. Plus, we’re spending this Christmas at Paul’s brothers house and they’re going to have a new puppy. Is there anything better than playing with a puppy on Christmas Day and then eating all the roast potatoes?! I don’t think so. I already have my Christmas party dress picked out, too. I’ve not done any Christmas shopping though, so I feel like I’m in a good place Christmas preparedness-wise. 

This week I’ve been eating all the cheese at my new book club, baking a perfect apple pie (even if I do say so myself), stuffing myself with delicious Indian food at Bundobust and partying all the way until midnight to celebrate Emma’s 30th birthday. I even wore high heels, which is very unlike me these days. That’s how fancy it was. Cocktails and Karaoke is a winning combination. How was your week? 

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Cheering on the Phillies at our first ever baseball game! 

Getting lost in the shelves at Kramer Books. A definite must-visit. 

Buying my first ever fancy handbag. I can see why people get addicted… 

Drinking Old Fashioneds. I think it’s my new cocktail of choice. 

Finishing our honeymoon and returning back to earth (or Leeds, as it’s more commonly known…).

Marvelling at the colours of Autumn leaves. Cliched but true. 

Visiting my oldest friend in her new home.

Driving in my brand new, totally beautiful car! 

Starting Christmas crafts early this year at Chirpy. 

Eating my fill at the Fat Faced Cat Supper Club. 

Running occasionally, but not as often as I should be. 

Volunteering at Guides, and loving it! 

Trying Parmo for the first time at Belgrave Feast. A new obsession!

Chatting all things books at my new Book Club. 

Reading Stephen King for the first time, and cursing that I didn’t sooner. 

Baking all the pies. So satisfying.  

Wearing my winter coat for the first time this season. 

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An Evening at The Fat Faced Cat Supper Club


I’m sure I’ve told you before how much I love supper clubs. It is a long-standing dream of mine to run my own; we’re hoping to buy a house in the next year, and a proper dining room is high on the list of priorities for this very reason. Two of my favourite things are eating delicious food and making friends, which make pop-ups and supper clubs pretty much my dream evening activity. With every one being different from the last, they’re a step up from the restaurant dining experience, and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten have been at events like this. 

So when I saw that The Fat Faced Cat Supper Club had some tickets left for their dinner on Saturday, I couldn’t resist. I roped in a willing friend and happily paid my £25, before telling everyone I knew exactly how excited I was about the menu. Spicy pig’s cheek doughnut? That is the stuff of dreams, right there. 

Pea Pancake with Pancetta and a Poached Egg

This wasn’t my first time dining with the Fat Faced Cat. I was invited a few month’s back after meeting the host at another foodie event. My over-riding memory of that evening was just how damn good the Popcorn Cockles were (happily, they made it back on the menu this time around!) and how full I was by the end of the evening. We sat down at around 8 and didn’t stop eating until gone midnight; never have I had so much good food. So this time around I prepped myself beforehand by eating almost nothing all day, ready for the feast that awaited. 

Beetroot, Goat's Curd and Honeycomb

When you go to a supper club, you have to be ready to make small talk. I always think small talk get a bad name. I LOVE small talk. I am perfectly happy to chat away about people’s jobs and how they came to Leeds and what their favourite restaurants are in the city and which other supper clubs they’ve been to. It’s fun. There’s always the awkward introduction stage, and then it’s like you’re all friends catching up over dinner. Being in someone’s home only amplifies that feeling, as does the wine. It feels cosy. 

Over our initial introductions, we sipped on cocktails (an excellent Old Fashioned) and nibbled on a seemingly never-ending parade of snacks – including the aforementioned popcorn cockles (salty, spicy, deep-fried – so damn more-ish), honey Sriracha popcorn (deliciously sticky with just a hint of heat), zaboca on crab biscotti (which everyone promptly forgot the name of halfway through the first bite – but was roundly declared excellent!) and candied bacon. 

Seabass Ceviche

We were then seated, more drinks were poured and a steady stream of dishes found their way in front of us. It took hours to get through everything, and by the end we were all unbuttoning trousers and declaring ourselves fuller than we’d ever been. I want to dwell on each dish because each one was absolutely gorgeous – from the crisp, sweet outer and spicy, meaty inner of the pig’s cheek doughnut to the fresh flavours of the seabass ceviche. The ‘main course’ (when you have 12, can any of them be main?) was a gorgeous, tender lamb with super-smooth mash and a fantastic balsamic sauce which cut through the richness perfectly. 

Strawberry and Pistachio Crumble with Basil Cream

The dessert courses may have been concocted with me in mind, so much did they play to my tastes. A fresh gin & tonic granita, served in a gorgeous copper cup, followed by the smoothest white chocolate and kaffir lime mousse (for real, the best I’ve ever had), and then finishing up with a strawberry and pistachio crumble, served with a basil cream. Basil and strawberry is one of my favourite combinations of flavours of all time, but sadly a few bites in my stomach protested too much – it really had had enough. I just about managed to squeeze in a truffle and a few sips of port, but, as predicted, the feast had defeated me. 

If you live in Leeds (or even if you don’t) and get a chance to grab some tickets to The Fat Faced Cat Supper Club, then you absolutely must go. I hope this little taster has persuaded you, because it really is one of the best ways to spend an evening. A little tipsy, a lot full of gorgeous food, chatting with lovely people. Not forgetting that absolutely beautiful cat, who makes a few appearances throughout the evening. And maybe watch this space for a supper club all of my own, one day soon… 

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3 Cookbooks You Need Right Now


Autumn is the time for new cookbooks, with a glut making their way onto our shelves and Amazon wish lists. There’s something about a chill in the air and crisp, colourful leaves underfoot that make you dream of days baking and braising, only to hunker down with your feast and a cosy pair of slippers. I’ve become somewhat of a cookbook addict in the last few years; my purpose-built shelf is now overflowing with piles of books and magazines, which have spilt over onto window shelves and into various piles around the house. They’re just so tempting, promising untold delights and mouth-gasms you can only imagine.

I’m trying to rein back my spending on cookbooks, in favour of actually, you know, cooking from them. Earlier in the year, I began to cook my way through the Joy the Baker cookbook, making all the recipes I’ve never got round to trying before. The process revealed so many recipes that I had glossed over the first few times of flicking through. There’s a lesson for life in there, somewhere. I’ve started to do the same with all my cookbooks, marking all the recipes I want to take a crack at with post-its and then slowly working my way through.

This new method has revealed a little more about my collection. Cookbooks have so many different functions, and not all of the books I have are really for cooking with. Some are purely for aesthetics. Some are to educate. Some are to inspire. But my favourites are the ones where I can’t wait to make every single thing in there. These are the cookbooks that you need, right now. You simply can’t live without them, I promise. 

Homemade Memories by Kate Doran

This is the baking book that I’ve been waiting for my whole life. Kate’s whole philosophy around baking is not just about how it tastes, but how it makes you feel. The baked treats of our childhoods bring back a special kind of nostalgia, of being covered in flour, helping out in the kitchen, waiting for special occasions. Some of the recipes are re-imaginings of the desserts and puds that you no doubt ‘helped’ your parents and grandparents whip up; others are home-made versions of favourite shop-bought treats, including bourbon biscuits, jaffa cakes and even a caterpillar cake! This book is an absolute joy to bake from, and I want to make everything enclosed in its pages – and have been working on doing just that. As an added bonus, the photos are beautiful. Just buy this book, okay? 

Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver

Look, even I am a little tired of the Jamie Oliver machine. So many restaurants, products, campaigns. But, you can’t deny that the man writes a good cookbook. I like Jamie’s style of cooking – it’s fast, fresh and full of colour. It feels really accessible, so it’s a great way to get into cooking if you’re new to the game. I’m usually sceptical of ‘healthy eating’ manifestos, which seem all the rage this day. Ain’t nobody gonna convince me that courgette is a substitute for spaghetti. It’s just not. I steer clear of chia seeds and kale crisps, for the most part, but I know I could do with eating a little healthier – especially after a decadent fortnight in the US of A. More vegetables. More whole foods. A few little substitutions here and there to get some more vitamins into my diet. As always, Jamie’s recipes are packed full of flavour and they make eating healthy seem a bit more fun than I’ve seen before. So far we’ve eaten a whole week’s worth of meals from this book and pretty much everything has been a winner. 

Related: Nigella has come out with her own version of this, Simply Nigella, which I’m also excited to get my hands on. 

The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book by Emily & Melissa Elsen

I was SO inspired when I went to the Four & Twenty Blackbirds shop in Brooklyn. It’s the cutest little place. Please go there if you get a chance. I mean, who doesn’t like pie? No one, that’s who. This book is an absolute dream, covering everything from sourcing ingredients and equipment to make the perfect pie, to seasonal recipes which will make your mouth water. Who knew that you could do so much with pie? The instructions are easy to follow, which is exactly what you need when you’re new to pie-making – pastry can be a tricky mistress. My success rate is a lot higher with this bad boy than with any other pie recipe that has come before, that’s for sure. Autumn and winter is a time for pies. Apple pies. Custard pies. Pumpkin pies. Every kind of pie. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop… 

Which cookbooks can’t you live without right now? 

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Weekend Link Love


[Photo by Jordan McQueen]

Is it just me that has a calendar booked up until after Christmas? I don’t say that to boast about my popularity, but more to commiserate with you if you are in a similar situation. I’ve been trying to find a date to go to the new cheese cafe in Leeds (yep, you heard me right) but for the last two weeks it’s been proving impossible. How can that be? Work and friends and family and life fill up so much time. And yet, I think I’m okay with it, for now. This won’t always be how it is, and I think I’d rather fill my time to the brim whilst I can. That said, I’m already looking forward to hibernating during the Christmas break. I’m going to bake and read books and maybe not change out of my pyjamas all day. 

I can hardly complain when I get to do so many wonderful things with my time. This week I carved pumpkins with the Guides (my first time, ever!), made a fabric Christmas wreath at a workshop with some lovely gal pals (can I say gal pals?!) and gorged myself silly at the Fat Faced Cat Supper Club last night. 12 courses, people. It’s too many for one person to handle, but it was glorious in its impossibility. Plus, as the name suggests, they have an adorable cat. What have you been up to this week? 

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Weekend Link Love


[Photo: Death to the Stock Photo]

Hey, friends! I’m writing this ahead of time, because today we’re off celebrating with friends at a Naming Ceremony for one of their sweet girls. I’m not going to lie to you, I am looking forward to baby cuddles and hanging out with toddlers as much as I am seeing our friends and catching up on their news. Throw in a mimosa and some brunch, and you’ve basically got my dream Sunday right there. 

Tomorrow (which is your yesterday!), we’re off to Banbury to hang out with my oldest and dearest friend, Jess. She has moved their recently, so we’ve never been before, but it’s just down the road from Oxford, which is one of my favourite places. I’ve baked them a chocolate pie and we’re taking champagne, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a good time.

Other than that, I’ve just been trying to catch my breath this week. Between work and volunteering and social occasions, there is just too much right now. It’s okay. I can do it. But I look forward to a free weekend so I can get everything sorted. It’s a busy time of year, right? 

What have you all been up to? I want to know! 

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Book Club

book club

I spent some time today in Waterstones, browsing the children’s books. I was buying a present for a Naming Ceremony we’re going to on Sunday and, after picking up a couple of books for their sweet girls I spent a little time browsing the titles, feeling waves of nostalgia washing over me. Peace At Last. Olga da Polga. The Magic Faraway Tree. I feel so lucky that my parents instilled a love of reading in me, and that all of these books were such a huge part of my life as a child. There were books everywhere when I was young and those books, and the ones that came after, have brought such joy to my life. I hope that the books that I have purchased for Martha and Lydia hold such happy memories in the future. I feel like that would be a bigger gift to me than it would to them. 

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger 

I did not expect to be blown away by this book in the way that I was. I’ve seen the movie, and I remember it being emotional, but it’s nothing compared to the book. I don’t really like romances as a general rule, but the relationship between Claire and Henry was so perfect and real – despite the very odd situation, alluded to in the title. At times it was joyous, at other times heart-breaking, but it always had me hooked. I loved that Henry wasn’t the perfect romantic hero, and that the story didn’t shy away from the pain of love. It felt like the story held a lot of truth, even in the impossible situation that it portrays. A definite must-read (but have the tissues on hand). 

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling 

I LOVED Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns, and this was a return to her signature style but with a little bit more of a grown-up edge. Her first book was about her childhood how she got to where she is now, where the second is more about how she copes with running her own show and generally being a badass lady. My favourite thing about Mindy’s books (I can call her Mindy, right?) is how strong her writing voice is – it’s like you can hear her speaking. It’s so distinctive. Not to mention hilarious. This is a lovely, light read that still manages to have some hard-hitting moments. The essay at the end about confidence is particularly excellent. 

Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

I need to implore you to read this book. It’s just darling. It took me a little while to get into it but by the end I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. This book is described as a Muslim Bridget Jones and I couldn’t think of a better way to put it myself; it has the same lovable female protagonist, the same let-you-in-to-their-world diary style and the same feeling of satisfaction at the end. Of course, it’s also a world apart because it shows you the world of Muslim dating which, unless you are in it yourself, you’ve probably not heard much about. I know it was an eye-opener for me. You fall in love with Sofia as she navigates her own love life, the problems of her family and friends and trying to write a Muslim dating book that she feels is true to herself. Just lovely stuff, really. 

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

One of the most powerful books I have ever read. This is more of an extended essay, written as a letter to Coates’ teenage son, about the realities of being a black man in America. Now, more than ever, I feel we need this book – a reminder of the truth of inhabiting a black body in the USA. This book rejects hopeful narratives about how everything will turn out alright in the end, if we just struggle against racism, and instead talks about ways to inhabit that struggle and survive. A very important book, if only to start more conversations about race. 

Asking for It by Louise O’Neill

Does it matter if you can’t remember? A novel about betrayal and consent, truth and denial, in the age of the smartphone.

You may remember how much I loved Louise O’Neill’s first book, ‘Only Ever Yours’, earlier this year, so as soon as I saw she had a new novel out I had to snap it up straight away. Like her debut, O’Neill pulls no punches in this book and it will hit you hard. It feels like a story we’ve heard too many times before, and one that I never want to hear again. Everything about this book is perfect in its darkness, from the unlike-ability of the main character, Emma, to the reactions of her parents and brother. You need to read this. 

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood 

I think this is my favourite Margaret Atwood book so far, it was so compelling and thought-provoking. Set in a dystopian future where a financial slump has led to mass unemployment and rampant crime, a married couple sign up to the ‘Positron Project’, an enterprise that guarantees employment and a safe place to live, as long as you spend every other month in prison. What starts out as the answer to all their problems soon turns sour, as you can imagine, but it really isn’t in the way that I anticipated. Atwood has never shied away from the ‘big questions’ but this really does have a lot packed in, without feeling didactic and preachy. The story carried you along effortlessly, but you find yourself pondering the future, capitalism, marriage, sexism, the prison system and so much more. I wouldn’t usually call myself a sci-fi fan, but I love Atwood’s brand of socially-conscious, questioning dystopias. Just. So. Good. 

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Easy Rum Chocolate Truffles

easy chocolate truffles

I think we can all agree that chocolate is one of the best things about being a human. It’s sweet, creamy, delicious, and it fights off Dementors. Or something. Either way, it’s a total winner and I, for one, cannot get enough. Dark, milk, white, it doesn’t really matter; I will happily eat a block of chocolate all to myself. However, in an effort to be a little healthier in my old(er) age, I have been choosing quality over quantity. It’s not quite as fun as gorging on a bar of Galaxy whilst watching Bridget Jones’ Diary, or some other such cliché, but it has its perks. Like these truffles. Just three ingredients and a little bit of love, and you have yourself some more-ish, decadent truffles. They’re very rich, which means that even the likes of me and my chocolate addiction can only manage a couple at a time. So it’s really a win-win. Mouthfuls of rum-my, chocolate-y goodness and you can still say you’ve made a healthy choice. Or thereabouts. When it comes to my health, I’m aiming for better, not best. I will never be the girl that turns down chocolate, especially when it tastes as good as these. 

rum truffles recipe

Easy Chocolate Rum Truffles
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  1. 200g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa or above)
  2. 70ml coconut milk
  3. 2 tsp. rum (optional)
  4. cocoa powder for dusting
  1. Break up the chocolate into small pieces or, even better, chop it up. The smaller the pieces are, the quicker and better they will melt! Place in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk until it's warmed through and just simmering. Pour over the chocolate and cover with a tea towel.
  3. Leave for 5 minutes, then uncover and add the rum, if using. Stir together until the mixture is smooth. If you are struggling, place the bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water to melt the remaining chocolate, or zap in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time.
  4. Cover with cling-film and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours until solid.
  5. Using a tablespoon, scoop small balls of mixture and then quickly roll and shape them into truffle shape!
  6. Place your cocoa powder on a plate and roll the truffles around lightly until coated.
  7. Enjoy!
  1. Store your truffles in the fridge to keep them fresh and stop them from melting into a sticky mess, but bring them out 10-15 minutes before you want to eat them.
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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8 British Food Bloggers You Should Be Following

british food bloggers

For a long time the food bloggers I followed tended to hail from across the pond. There are some really fantastic American food bloggers, and they are so easy to stumble across on the Internet. However, over the past couple of months I’ve made an effort to seek out more UK-based food bloggers and, let me tell you, there are some truly awesome ones. Not everyone on this list is British by birth, but, as far as I know, they’re residing here for the foreseeable future. All hail British food bloggers!

Top with Cinnamon 

Izy is a bit of a superstar in the food blogging world, with her first cookbook ‘Top With Cinnamon’ storming across the Internet (and rightly so). Chances are you’ve already heard of her, but if not then make it your mission today to go and read some of her archives. Her photography and styling is so beautiful it makes my heart hurt, and every recipe I’ve tried of hers has been totally delicious. Her Instagram is a sight to behold. So yeah, I’m a fan.

Supergolden Bakes

Can we all just take a moment to admire the photography on this blog? It is truly gorgeous. I love the variety of recipes on this blog – everything Lucy posts I want to go out immediately and make! The cocktails, in particular, are stunning. I wish I’d discovered this blog earlier, as I’m sure I’ve missed out on plenty in the archives, which are extensive. A total winner! 

The Little Library Café

I love this blog. I wish I had thought of it first, although I’m sure I couldn’t have done it so beautifully. Kate cooks the food from her favourite books, combining literature and food in a simple and oh-so-sweet way. Her photography is beautifully minimalist, which makes the whole thing that bit more wonderful. I want to climb headfirst into this blog and nest there throughout the winter. I narrowly missed out on going to Kate’s Harry Potter pop up dinner in London a couple of months back (yep, food from the Harry Potter books. With tables named after Hogwarts houses) so now I just need to somehow persuade her to bring that gloriousness to Leeds… 

Rachel Phipps

I think Rachel’s was the first food blog I ever followed and it’s still one that I click over to time and again, whether to read new posts or look up recipe ideas. Rachel combines accessible recipes that make you want to get into the kitchen with reviews of restaurants across London and Kent. I trust her recommendations for anything foodie, and her foodie travels in Los Angeles over the past couple of years have inspired me to plan a trip there next year! 

Cate in the Kitchen 

I’ve really been enjoying Cate’s #bakeoffbakealong posts, which is what caught my eye and turned me on to this blog in the first place. In between sharing her baking adventures, Cate also posts mostly-vegetarian recipes, many of which I’ve bookmarked for making at a later date. An all-round yummy blog! 

Flora Shedden 

You’ll probably recognise Flora from this year’s stellar Great British Bake Off line up, but did you know that she has a blog, too? With simple photography and food styling, and perfect flavour combinations, this blog is genuinely a delight. I’m not sure how I didn’t stumble across it before! Am I jealous? Only a little bit… 

The Little Loaf

If you’re looking for a nostalgic baking blog which will have you running straight for the kitchen, apron in hand, then this blog is definitely the one for you. Kate’s baking feels old-fashioned in the very best sort of way, comforting and familiar with a touch of something new every now and again to keep you excited. As an added bonus, her cookbook is one of the most beautiful I have ever cooked from and I want to bake everything in it. 

Whip Until Fluffy

Lil hasn’t blogged for a while, but I live in hope that she will revive her blog and provide us with some more of her gorgeous recipes, which simultaneously manage to be down-to-earth and exciting at the same time. Her blog is one of my all-time favourites, and I love her writing. I have made her Goats Cheese and Chorizo Scones many times, and they always get an excellent reception. I know you’ve got a lot going on right now Lil, so no pressure 😉 

I’m sure there are plenty of amazing blogs that I have missed off my list, so please do share your favourites in the comments below so I can discover even more British food blogs! 

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Weekend Link Love

doughnuts at belgrave feast leeds

Hey friends, how are you all doing? I am getting right back into the swing of things after our two week honeymoon in the USA. It was great to have such a long break and to spend all that time exploring new places, but I am glad to be home. I am a homebody at heart, and I like routine. That said, the past few days have been so busy, I’m already planning our next break! Yesterday we headed to Belgrave Feast with Emma – can you believe it was my first time in attendance? I gorged myself on delicious Parmo (more of this in Leeds, please!) and freshly cooked doughnuts before retiring home to read some Margaret Atwood and nap. A great Saturday, if ever there was one. 

Having some time away from things has also given me a bit of perspective on how I’m spending my time, and the projects that I take on. I know that we all bemoan how busy we are, but I feel like this is the time of my life to get stuck into things, to say yes to everything that comes along and dream big about where my side hustles can take me. You can sleep when you’re dead, right? I’m making plans and trying new things, and that’s always exciting. 

How are things with you? How have you been whilst I was away? 

Pretending to be less happy, less smart, or less ambitious than you really are does NOT help you, your community or the planet.

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