2016. The review. Pt 3


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!





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.


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..

Laura at The View, Eastbourne.jpg

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

Exploring the Old Town (1).jpg


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..

Rachel Burroughs' pollock starter.JPG

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

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.


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..


^ The aforementioned cous cous dish.


^ 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?…

A moment of calm

Life hey?

It’s quite something.

I’m not going to make excuses. We all have them. Instead I’ll just try and catch up with myself.

Truffle cake

Truffle cake

Let’s start with cake shall we?ipp

The first cake club of 2015 gave a tasty twist to the idea of January sales, with the ‘budget’ bakes having to come to less than £5.

I went to one extreme – with a rum and dark chocolate truffle (trying to squeeze out every penny) while another member whipped up a Lidl all-in-one ginger cake mix which I believe cost 69p!

Loaf cakes were definitely on trend.


For Feb we went red and spicy, it is only right after all.

Hisilicon K3


The one in the centre at the bottom, picture above, was arguably the most unusual as the chocolate and raspberry exterior posted a peppercorn sponge underneath – surprisingly tasty!

Carrying on clockwise, the other chocolate number boasted ‘red soda’ in the batter, next was my offering – a giant cinnamon roll, top was cherries, then a nutty nutella number and finally raspberry and lemon.


Cake club isn’t the only thing in my diary, but it is a nice, regularly, monthly anchor. Which, when you are working in the future all of the time is not only nice but needed. It also reminds me that for March I missed it because I was exploring the south of France…

But, not wanting to go from a blog famine to flood, I’ll save that for now.


This cake is for life, not just for Christmas

This “Gluhweinkuchen” (also known as mulled wine and dark chocolate bundt cake) was my offering for the Christmas Clandestine Cake Club. I knew I wanted to make something with mulled wine from the start so when I saw this recipe that was that. (I wasn’t swayed by the name of the magazine.. honest. But it is a brilliant name.)
Anyway, back to the cake point. It’s a German recipe so I have done my best to translate, and going on the end result I didn’t do too badly. With just the right kick, rich chocolate and spice I’ll definitely be making it again before December 25.

original mulled wine cake recipe recipe 2013-01-05 18.28.43Ingredients

150g dark chocolate
200g butter
200g sugar
1 packet of vanilla sugar (tsp)
4 eggs
250g flour
10g coco powder
1 level tsp cinnamon
“Tip of a knife” of ground clove and star anise
Zest of 1 orange
1 packet baking powder (2 tsp)
175ml of red wine

For decoration – 150g icing sugar and 3 tbsp of red wine.

2012-11-21 18.39.09


1.  Cream with the butter, sugar and vanilla sugar.

2. Add one egg at a time.

3. Mix in the flour, coco, spices, orange zest and baking powder.

4. Add the 175ml of red wine.

5. “Schokolade hacken” (break up the chocolate) and add.

6. Put into a greased bundt tin.

7. Bake in a hot oven, 175oC for 45 – 55 minutes.

8. Leave to cool.

For decoration – mix the icing sugar with the 3 tbsp of red wine, top with shavings of chocolate.

finished mulled wine cake

Save the pumpkin!… soup

ImageHalloween will see hundreds, thousands, lots of pumpkins have their insides removed and thrown away in the name of lanterns. STOP. It doesn’t need to be this way.

And don’t worry if you don’t like pumpkin. I don’t either, and neither does my dad, but we did like this.

Spiced pumpkin and orange soup.

You will need:

Pumpkin insides,
An onion,
Hot water,
Orange juice,
Salt and pepper,
Vegetable stock,


  1. Fry onion in oil in a soup pot.
  2. Remove seeds from pulp and add the pulp to the pot. (Seeds can be saved and toasted with salt to sprinkle on things.)
  3. Cover in hot water and add vegetable stock (1 per pumpkin)
  4. Add a cup of orange juice and allow to simmer until pumpkin is soft.
  5. Blitz. Add salt, pepper and cinnamon to taste.

Serving suggestion: Add a swirl of creme fraiche and pumpkin ravioli (we used tesco finest, others are available I am sure.)

Be warned it tastes so good Halloween cookies may try to dance around it.Image

Clandestine Cake Club gets healthy.. well almost.

Roasted strawberry cake, banana and prune cake, chocolate and courgette cake
Inspired by the Olympics the theme for my fourth visit to the CCC was 5-a-day, giving us a chance to experiment with weird and wonderful fruit and veg recipes and kid ourselves we were being healthy.

This is what the menu looked like:

Catherine and Jody’s prune Chocolate and courgette cakeand caramelised banana cake,

Aida and Alice’s a roasted strawberry sponge with meringue top,

Claire and Claire’s beetroot, walnut and hazelnut cake,

Sofia’s summer berry, mascapone and white chocolate 4-layer sponge,New York cheesecake, "cabbage" cake

Lucy’s apple and blueberry cake,

Jenny’s lemon and poppyseed cake with buttermilk topping,

Becky’s chocolate and sweet corn cake,

Charlotte and Shaun’s courgette, walnut and chocolate cake,

Helen and Anna’s New York baked cheesecake with rasperberries and lemon curd,

Hilary’s (my mum’s) “cabbage cake” or rather a cabbage with a rabbit sitting inside of it made from carrot cake and buttercream,5-a-day cake

My roasted rhubarb and white chocolate sponge,

and Diana’s cake which she managed to fill with the full 5-a-day – carrot, courgette, nectarine, apricot and blueberries.

Yup, 12 full sized cakes. It was great fun and definitely the most adventurous club I’d been too, in regards to taste at least.

But I loved it, especially when I was pleasantly surprised and found I like the banana and prune cake, so much so I had to “try it” again.

And it was my first ever taste of a New York cheesecake, but it won’t be my last. Best off all my sugar-fueled daze was barely noticable! It would seem eating your 5-a-day really done have it’s benefits.

apple and blueberry cakelemon and raspberry New York cheesecakeroasted rhubarb and white chocolate cake

Clandestine Cake Club: Nostalgic and Birthday Bakes

My second visit to the secret club was almost rained off, but luckily on the very day of the meeting the clouds parted, declared “there will be cake,” and I was freed from my flooded-in abode.

Unluckily this left me with zero-time to cook – however not one to turn up empty handed that wasn’t going to stop me, instead my Chocolate Roulade Tortoise with Surprise Insides was built rather than baked.

But enough about my cake… check out the masterworks from the other members:

A sweet strawberry treat from the ever-amazing FlourVonSponge.
Just look at those perfect meringues on top! Not to mention it had beautiful buttercream, boasting fresh, real, proper strawberries meaning it tasted sublime.
And for that reason, it very quickly looked like this…

It’s not everyday you get to eat a rainbow either… well, unless you are addicted to skittles. And while this creation looks stunning I can assure you it tasted just as yummy, plus I think you’ll agree adding chocolate coins was pure genius!

Normally I confess I’m not the biggest fan of the beach.

Salt water scares me and sand is like the glitter of the natural world. And if you want to know my thoughts on glitter see here

But if this banana and chocolate sandcastle is anything to go by I might just change my mind and become a beach-bum.

With stylish sunglasses, mini-bunting and biscuit crumb sand it was great fun.

No surprises the creator has just started her own cake company.

I’m pretty sure I could hear my dentist tremble as soon as I got near Helen’s kit-kat and dolly mixture creation.

An interesting re-mix of a classic design it was never going to disappoint, but the great decoration surpassed by the rich, moist sponge.

Thankfully one of my favourite nostalgic recipes the Upside Down Pineapple Cake was on hand to add a little bit of the healthy onto the table (well it has fruit in it at least!)

Having made it myself many time I thought I knew the cake fairly well. But it would seem a bit of pineapple juice in the sponge makes it a whole other, and much tastier, experience.

That is one of the things I like the most about the CCC. It’s much more than just a good excuse to eat cake, it’s a means of finding out little tips and tricks, and sharing and spreading the passion for all things naughty but very, very nice!

Then, there was this…

I mean… what can I say?! I’ve never baked with peanut butter before but have always wanted to.
And now I am in that tricky position of being inspired to finally do it, while at the same time wondering if there is any point as I don’t think I could ever come close to this!