2016. The review. Pt 3

September

This was a very manic time as my job change, to being the chief reporter for a newspaper, began to hit in and my etc writing – in theory at least – reduced to one day a week to make way for all the breaking news and council meetings.

As such it is not really a surprise that a visit to The Salterns made for both a nice article and nice escape from the office.

The newly created holiday apartments at Chichester Marina occupy an enviable spot next to the water, making it bizarre to think the building was previously used for offices – which is somewhat ironic going on my previous comment.

But that is neither here nor there, look at them!

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Swoon!

October

etc Magazine always likes to touch on the big topics, as well as the aspirational and fluffy ones. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month I took the opportunity to learn more about a pioneering treatment by a Sussex-project.

November

For this month’s editions it all got a bit arty. For West Sussex I wrote about a design school with a difference starting up, while I headed over to the East for a cultural tour taking in Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings.

The latter might win, just because I got to sit in this ridiculous deckchair..

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In all seriousness however, the exhibitions were fascinating, the hotels beautiful and Hastings old town might just have stolen a bit of my heart.

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December 

While Brighton-based Joosr, which reduces books such as A (not so) Brief History of Time into 20 minute reads, might have changed my view on e-readers – which is no easy task – spending the day with some of the counties’ best young chefs takes some beating.

Yup, I’m back on the food again and this time it was the Young Chef and the Year Cook Off at the Amex Stadium. I basically follow around the judges, which this year included Matt Gillan, and taste a lot of sublime dishes – then write about it before the food coma hits in. I’m sure you can tell it is hard work..

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Another bizarre claim to fame ^^ that’s my hand in the official pics. Note how my nail varnish matches the jus!

2016. The Review. Pt2

May!

I do love a food special, and this month proved to be a feast.

As well as learning about the wonders of sheep’s milk with Top Paddock Dairy and tucking into proper pub grub in Oving , I had the wonderful opportunity of time-travelling thanks to the Repast supperclub.

The latter, as bewildering as it might sound, was the simple but brilliant idea of Haywards Heath chef Sam Bilton.

Our culinary adventure was back to Venice’s rich past, and from start…

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(polenta squares topped with salted cod and mushrooms)

To the end…

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(fritelli – almond filled donut fritters)

It was amazing.

June

I’m sticking with food and I’m not even sorry, I mean how often to you get to talk to a chef whose signature dishes are all made using hotel room appliances?

From steaks steamed in the shower to a full English he insists is ‘better than the what you’d get in the buffet downstairs’, the aptly named George Egg has come up with in-genius ways to create it all.

July 

Mermaids, flamingos and badgers in bowties – time for something a bit different.

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My two favourites for July were Brighton fashion band Sugarhill Boutique (above) and the equally bright and brilliant Eastbourne alphabet by artist Clare Dales.

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August

Lewes-based VRAC teas  would have claimed the top spot this month, if it wasn’t for my behind the scenes visit to Chichester’s Timothy Roe jewellers.

I mean this Goodwood bangle by them is reason enough that it was special..

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…but for me it had a personal connection as this jewellers is where my engagement ring (finally) came from and I got to find out how it was made.

*Finally because I was the one choosing it, not because I am a bunny boiler. But I’m sure, one day, I’ll get around to sharing that story on here.

2016. The review. Pt1

Nothing like thinking in November ‘I should check that long-neglected blog’ and seeing the last headline is about New Year’s Resolutions…

I assure you I’ve been writing everything but this thing.

Partly to prove it, and partly because I’ve just put the December magazine to bed, I thought it’d be a good time for a bit of a stock check.

So * insert top of the pops countdown music here* in at January we had…

Learning about fly fishing

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I love how random this is already.

The highlight was managing to catch another hook out of a tree, which I’m still convincing myself take skill. The lowlight was catching my own hair…

February

Has to go to Edible Arrangements

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A brilliant and inspiring company which works to match your table decorations with your menu. Honestly, check it out!

March 

This is a toughie but as much as I loved writing about Truth and Tails – books for children with a social twist – and experiencing the Light Technique in Brighton, there was on topic I featured that has blossomed into a hobby…

Calligraphy, with Kirsten Burke

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Just look at that concentration! And excuse to own quills… (Picture by Stewart Grant)

April 

Being a bit of a random fact fan, it has to be the story which lead me to learn the cut flower industry is worth more than the music industry (average of £36 per person).

Crosslands Nursery

 

 

Recipe book roulette, week 1 – 10

I don’t, generally, do New Year’s Resolutions.

I think I went for about a decade of saying ‘to quit smoking’ every time I was asked during that first day back at school/work conversation people always have. But people soon sussed I was cheating/not taking it seriously as I don’t smoke anyway.

But like usual, I digress.

My point is this year is different, and I have made a slightly different resolution to go with it. The plan is to cook a new meal from one of our recipe books every week.

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And so far, we’ve loved it.

We both enjoy cooking so have been taking it (mostly) in turns. And we’ve both served up highlights for me – my personal one being tackling, triumphantly, a crab soufflé.

While my partner’s plates of Jamie Oliver’s super squid, feta and (veggie) chorizo with mint cous cous make me smile just thinking of them. Mostly because it was delicious and just minutes after his elaborate marriage proposal was revealed.. but I might have to come to the latter another day.

Time for food..

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^ The aforementioned cous cous dish.

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^ A close up of the crab and ketchup souffle from One by Florence Knight

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We are trying to score them as we go, more to keep track than anything, which can be seen HERE on my Instagram.

I strongly recommend it, we just try to plan ahead – pimp the shopping list – and make it on a weekend so we have more time (usually for the washing up).

Maybe I should have started making resolutions a while ago?…

Cooking with Vikings and other Danish adventures

Pictures by BrknRib Photography

Pictures by BrknRib Photography

I found myself in the forest on the last day of my foodie tour along the coast of North Jutland, Denmark.

Trust me to start a story near the end hey? But I have good reason.

While I will do a post about the rest of the remarkable journey, for me it was not only a stand out moment from the trip but an experience I will remember forever – and as a result it deserves a mention of its own.

I ended up playing sous chef, partly thanks to my fellow colleagues having had a little to much to drink the night before, and what resulted was unlike any cookery programme I’ve ever seen.

As I recall HERE it felt like I was, in a way, fulfilling a role I’ve always felt fit for.

Viking jibes were among the more inventive I got at school for being a redhead. And ones I was quite happy with.

Granted I don’t go in for all of the past times attributed to the bearded seafarers, but I found myself feeling oddly at home gathered around a campfire with their modern day enthusiasts.

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Picking up some skills like fishing net stitching…

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And generally getting very, very hungry

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Laura Denmark Vikings pictures by BrknRib Photography

Picture by BrknRib Photography

Our host Jesper Lynge, aka Kjøgemester Oldfrue – who resembled a giggly Brian Blessed – had a real feast planned.

With salmon smoked over wood chippings, mussels cooked in cider and a mushroom porridge (above left) which was far tastier than the description would make you think.

My main job was chopping veg, but even that wasn’t ordinary, as I was handed a blade with a bone handle – after Jesper had showed us how sharp this ‘knife’ was by shaving part of his arm.

But somehow I managed to play a part in turning the table of ingredients, made from half a tree, into one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever devoured.

Most people I’ve mentioned any of this too have asked ‘what about drink?’ And the answer to that is we supped mead out of a communal horn between raising a toast to Thor. Obviously.

Pictures BrknRib Photography

Picture BrknRib Photography

My full feature, written for etc Magazine, can be seen HERE 

Danish rye bread cake – tastes nicer than it sounds

As my previous post – HERE – reveals May’s ‘diary’ themed cake club meeting saw people share baby news and an insight to busy lives.

While I used it as a chance to recreate an unusual bake I’d eaten when I met Danish Vikings – I would promise my life isn’t always that random, but my job as a feature writer often helps ensure it is.

Anyway. This was it.

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I know. It doesn’t scream Vikings. There’s no long boat, or horns (the latter of which I learnt was a lie anyway) but I promise it did have links to the historic troublemakers.

With the recipe for the Viking crumble cake being sent to me by the lovely Mrs Jesper Lynge.

(He looks like this)

Picture by BrknRib Photography

Picture by BrknRib Photograph

She plaited his beard at one point and it was hilarious, but that is neither here or there.

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For the Viking Crumble Cake, you’ll need:

100g (Danish) rye bread
100g finely chopped hazelnuts
6 eggs
200g cane sugar
1 tsp baking soda
Jam, whipped cream and roughly chopped chocolate (for filling)

Start by buttering your chosen tin(s) – I split it into two that I usually use for Victoria Sponges – and prehead the oven at 200oC.

I didn't have a blender..

I didn’t have a blender..

Method

  1. Blend 100g (Danish) rye bread with 100g hazelnuts.
  2. Beat up 6 egg yolks with 200g cane sugar.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff.
  4. Mix the blended ryebread and hazelnuts with 1 tablespoon of baking soda.
  5. Mix the blended rye and nuts with the egg yolks
  6. Carefully stir the egg whites in the mix
  7. Put the cake mix in a buttered springform pan sprinkled with sugar
  8. Bake in the oven for 7-8 minutes at 200 degree Celsius
  9. Slide the cake in two cake layers
  10. Put jam and whipped cream on top of the first cake layer
  11. Put the next layer on top of the cake and cover with whipped cream and chopped chocolate

It was a weird process, but the result is actually pretty yummy. The rye and nuts make for a great sponge which balances the sweetness of the toppings.

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Umm.. appetising! 

Leftovers make good trifles

Leftovers make good trifles

Birthdays and babies at Chichester’s Clandestine Cake Club

‘Are you looking forward to bake off?’ I was timidly asked this morning.

Which would muster a ‘is the pope catholic’ response only sometimes I feel that I my commitment to Mary Berry outshines many religious callings.

Like many followers of the baking way of life, I am a member of the Clandestine Cake Club and you can read about some of the sweet adventures we’ve had in Chichester HERE .

Alas life has seen me miss a couple, for March’s I was HERE  and in May I was on a culinary tour of Denmark.. but I’ll come to that later.

Which leaves April’s Birthday Bonanza to mark member Mel’s 30th.
The theme was very much planned with a party in mind and offered bakers the chance to cook up ‘something you’d want to blow the candles out on’ or ‘something you’d make for a little one’.

For me at least , Ian’s castle creation ticked both of those boxes.

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As for the rest of the table, rainbow centres, sprinkles and chocolate also got a good showing…

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May’s event came with a ‘diary theme’ with the idea being to bake something that reflects the month just gone.

The lovely Clare probably had the biggest news to share (her ‘s is third from left in this picture..)

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A baked baby buggy!

Others brought to La Havana’s underground bar, which was our host for the night, marked Mother’s Day, busy schedules and in my case trips abroad.

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Which brings me quite nicely to Vikings.

But I think that deserves a post in its own right…

As ever if you fancy joining in with our club, you’d be more than welcome!
Details can be found HERE