Saturday, 30 April 2011

Cake & Party.....

much noise in the cake world when Fiona Cairns was named as cake designer for the wedding. Pictures released last night show a scene stealing cake, in cream & white decorated with the most exquisite sugar flowers and piped lace work on the cake:
The language of flowers on the cake symbolise the following:
Rose (white) - national symbol of England

Daffodil - national symbol of Wales, new beginnings
Shamrock - national symbol of Ireland
Thistle - national symbol of Scotland
Acorns, oak leaf - strength, endurance
Myrtle - love
Ivy - wedded love, marriage
Lily of the valley - sweetness, humility
Rose (bridal) - happiness, love
Sweet William - grant me one smile
Honeysuckle - the bond of love
Apple blossom - preference, good fortune
White heather - protection, wishes will come true
Jasmine (white) - amiability
Daisy - innocence, beauty, simplicity
Orange blossom - marriage, eternal love, fruitfulness
Lavender - ardent attachment, devotion, success, and luck.
from cakes to party.... here are a few treats made for our street party..... we had sausage sandwiches & pots of tea for the build-up and service.... followed by feast of savoury and sweet for the garden party.....
a fabulous day, filled with friends, love & fun.......

Friday, 29 April 2011

A Royal Spectacular.....

I and 2 billion others have been glued to the TV for 8 hours today watching our future King marry his bride.... a beautiful wedding, full of pageantry, and elegance interwoven with style and fun putting a personal stamp on it from Kate & William.... here are some montages of my favourite pictures....
The Dress.....
a stunning design by Sarah Burton from McQueen......from the simple bouquet of lily of the valley, to the stunning laced sleeves, to the elegant train, this dress drew parallels with the wedding dress of Grace Kelly, but clearly had the Middleton & Mcqueen stamp all over it...
The Groom & his Grandmother....
With the groom resplendent in red military from the Irish Guards.... complimenting his grandfather, and his granny looking stunning in yellow... the day was filled with love  and romance... It was lovely to see this snap of the Queen & Prince Phillip, looking relaxed and happy.
we can only imagine what high jinx Harry has got up to as role as Best man!... but I'm confident in typing that their mum would be so proud of them.
The Happy Couple.....
it was clear to see that Catherine & William are very much in love, with Williams "you look beautiful" as she met him at the aisle..... sticky moment when the ring looked like it wasn't going on!...to the rousing rendition of Jerusalem... it showed a couple very much in love.. very emotional as her dad walked down the aisle.
Pageantry.... as the couple left the Abbey to return to the Palace, our Pomp & Pageantry which this country does better than anywhere else, was showcased to its finest.... every person who had a part to play with that should be immensely proud of themselves tonight...
Fun & Romance...... from the kisses on the balcony to the departure in the Aston Martin DB5 volante.. pure style ...


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wedding wishes....

the dress rehearsals have happened.... Westminster is full of a forest of foliage & flowers, London is awash with red, white & blue,.... atmosphere in town is fantastic.... people camped on the street.....
I have a few last minute things to do early tomorrow morning!..... icing cupcakes is one! but what ever you are doing enjoy the day..... I'm spending it with friends & family at a RW garden party ( complete with umbrella!)....

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Party preparations & Pop for a Prince & Princess...

here are a few pictures that are inspiring my party preparations....
loving the Cath Kidston tea towel.....and have also picked up some of the talking tables bits & pieces!.... what Goodies have you purchased?....

do love an opportunity to get the bunting out!...

Time is running away  and tonight I am also attempting my first lot of cake pops!..... here are the pre- decoration stage!
I'm loving my royal wedding sprinkles box!......off to play with chocolate & sprinkles with a little glitter thrown in the end!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Baking Mad.....

Yesterday saw the start of Eric Lanlards Baking Mad series on Channel 4...
I am a complete fan of Eric's having watched his Glamour Puds series a couple of years ago and loved it. Eric is behind the Cake Boy Cafe and most recently Cupcakes, Cookies & Cox in Soho in partnership with Shoe Designer Patrick Cox.... just the premise of Cupcakes & Shoes makes me happy!!... on both occasions that I have visited CCC the cupcakes have been great.
Yesterdays Baking Mad theme was Cupcakes!.... recipes of the day were Lemon meringue, Tiramisu and Pineapple & Amaretto which all looked very yummy.
Recipes can be found here:
Also featured was the new shoe salon from the Big Green Store north of the park!.... didn't look as good as our shoe salon but the cupcakes looked fantastic!
Eric's Homebake book is a great read as well as his Masterclass book (previously published as Glamour Cakes) covering many aspects of cake decorating. 
If the series is as good as the first episode then I'm in for a treat!....especially as I have an afternoon booked with Patisserie master himself in a few weeks!

TV Cake feast...

Last night I had a TV cake feast!.... catching up on the Great British Wedding Cake and Eric Lanlards Baking Mad. Starting with the Great British Wedding Cake,where the 3 finalists from the Great British Bake-off were bought bake to complete 2 challenges. The first challenge to produce a 3 tiered wedding cake in 11 hours!.... not something I would advise or advocate but they all pulled it off. All three cakes were simplistic, although I really liked the boy who bakes design.
Second challenge was to design a contemporary cake, as the three bakers are so different in personality this is where they really put their own style in the design.
Macaron Tower, White chocolate & chocolate ganache cake and a Lemon Meringue Tower
I liked all three, the macarons looked amazing, the chocolate cake with the flowers was very pretty, and the meringue tower was really different, nice for a small garden wedding. Inter woven between the challenges was the history of the wedding cake... which was extremely interesting. A great viewing... nice to see Mary & Paul back on the box!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Planning for a party....

Tonight I've caught up with this month magazines.......... and chilled with a cup of tea!....as you can see most magazines have a patriotic theme this month for the big event of a Royal Wedding this week.... there is a fantastic feeling in London.... bunting & flags are popping up everywhere.... its looking great.

 tonight I've also been doing a little planning for a Royal wedding garden party on Friday......
This week  I'm turning my blog over to be Royal Wedding influenced!... it will include cupcakes, vintage, London and more....

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Wishes....

hope everyone is having a lovely Easter..... I've been baking for Easter as for some unknown reason I've been a little disorganised this year!... had so many plans on bakes & makes and only managed some cupcakes and hotcross bun muffins!

This years new recipe was the Creme Egg cupcake... (with the Creme egg inside the cupcake!)...decorated with chocolate & mini eggs.
The two little chick cupcakes were a spur of the moment try, and I loved them (although a little difficult to transport!)..... Saturday saw me sorting out the cupcake cupboard in the kitchen, as well as a large collection of cupcake cases the sprinkles situation was getting a bit silly!! so a little organising was required and I now have themed sprinkle/decoration containers! (pictured above)

Today I'm taking my brother & nephew to their first rugby game; Saracens are playing Gloucester which is a big game for us... the weather is glorious, spending quality time with the 2 special boys in my life and I get to eat chocolate!... can it get any better!!.... Tonight I'm off to friends for dinner in Brentwood ( no its nothing like TOWIE!!) as we haven't caught up in a couple of months.... so hope the Easter Bunny has left you lots of treats.. Enjoy!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Something Borrowed...

by Emily Giffin is one of my all time favourite books, I have read it several times and it never gets stale for me. Darcy & Rachel who have been friends since childhood,  two very different girls, Rachel studious and shy, Darcy outgoing & living life in the limelight.... Dex enters life as Rachels friend from NYU and Darcys as her fiance!....  a test of friendship when affairs are had and it all gets a little complicated!... Set between the skyline of New York and the beach of Long Island, it has a heroine you will root for throughout and a book I cannot put down... this book is one of my comfort blankets. I love it, so how excited was I to see this trailered on the Tv this week.....

booking tickets now!...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Keep on Running....

was certainly the mantra for 35,000 runners pounding the streets of London on Sunday. One of those 35,000 was my twin brother ..... this year he was running for the children's charity Dreams Come True. This was his 3rd marathon, and he says its his last!.... he completed in 3hrs 49 and it was his hardest.

The weather which was fantastic for us spectators was hard going for all the runners.
We spectated from just past the 25 mile point. This year we saw more people collapsing and walking than we have seen in the 2 previous years. I have the utmost admiration for all those that completed. Its an amazing and humbling experience to see and London hosts it spectacularly.... we caught up with friends and family at the finish and toasted his success with coffee & specially made cupcakes in Trafalgar square!...

In keeping with my running theme, my two train reads this week have been:
  • Mum on the Run ~ Fiona Gibson ~ a fun read, especially for every mum who dreads the school sports day parents race!... on an attempt to loose weight she ditches fat busters and starts running, juggling kids, job & a secret running partner!.. predictable but good fun....
  • Girl on the Run ~ Jane Costello ~ having read Jane's previous books,  was looking forward to this and wasn't disappointed... laugh out loud chick lit, I completely empathised and associated with Abby!.. a great read.... not as predictable as you may think... may even be tempted to pull on my trainers!..... 

Saturday, 16 April 2011

You can never have.....

too many Cupcake cases!... over the past couple of weeks I've managed to pick up some great  cupcake case kits... all at bargain prices!...
these are the Let them eat Cupcake range which I picked up in TKMaxx, complete with a little cupcake booklet, piping bag & nozzle. I'm loving the funky colours...
Also picked up just after Mothers day was this cute Cupcake house & Made with Love cake Tin from M&S... Cupcake house contains, cupcake cases, cake mix, marshmallows & sprinkles! The cake tin contains a Victoria Sandwich sponge kit and a Made with Love stencil.... both picked up half price...
another cupcake kit, accompanied by a cute little cake stand complete with boxes of sprinkles!... i'm loving both these, cake stand from Sainsburys and cupcake kit from Homesense.... my cupcake cupboard is overflowing!!.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Spring in the City...

following on from my morning in Notting Hill, I spent the afternoon in Kensington. Lunch at my favourite pub in London and a stroll enjoying the scenery!
Pub in question is the beautiful Churchill Arms, which looks stunning from the outside, is a true homage to Winston Churchill inside and caters the best Thai food in the capital.. (the beers not bad either!)

After a leisurely lunch I wandered down Kensington Church Street where blossoms and spring flowers were blooming..

The weather continues to be amazing in London with a lovely sunny Easter forecast... I love London in the Sunshine!...

Monday, 11 April 2011

April reads...

as you know I like to theme my reads around what I'm doing , so this months reads are split into two.One themed and the other just because they are two of my favourite authors!
Themed are in keeping with Mothers Day... my reads are:
  • Mothers & Daughters ~ Kate Long - Two generations, driven apart by infidelity, how a mother and daughter deal with betrayal and fight for what they believe in....
  • Mum on the Run ~ Fiona Gibson - the dreaded mums race at school sports day - every mothers worst nightmare........
  • and from my favourite author list:~
  • Men I've loved before ~ Adele Parks - Nat wonders if Neil really is the man of her dreams, or could someone from her past really be "the one"! Love Adele 's books looking forward to my tube journeys with this one...a move away from her previous book covers... hopefully will not have an accident with this one!... check out previous post!
  • Dirty Tricks ~ Jo Carnegie - we're back in Churchminster following on from Country Pursuits, Naked Truths, and Wild Things... Jo's books are this generations Jilly Cooper. One of my guilty pleasures is Emmerdale.. this series is the glamorous version of Emmerdale, lots of champagne,and incredibly scrummy men who are very naughty!!...so looking forward to curling up with this, it's like catching up with old friends that you haven't seen for a while ......
looking forward to my commute now.... check back for April reviews later in month....

Saturday, 9 April 2011

With Love from Notting Hill....

with the sun shining and a day off work I took myself off to Nottinghill /Portabello road for an amble!.. Last year Ali Mcnamara's book "from nottinghill with love.... actually" was one of my favourite reads ( a must for anyone who loves the Richard Curtis films)... so book in tow I headed to Ladbroke Grove.
I walked past some of the gated gardens, (locked of course!).. found the famous blue door (Rhys Ifans in underpants forever printed on my mind!) now a little shabby and painted black, to the corner where Julia Roberts has the OJ spilt on her by Hugh Grant now a coffee republic!...and the inspirational travel bookshop. I loved wandering around, especially as the market was just coming to life in the beautiful spring sunshine.
Heading up the Portabello road towards Notting hill the daily market wares lead into the antique market stalls which are just gorgeous. Lots of old books and the vintage rugby memorabilia was lovely.
You can still spot a bargain but you have to hunt!..no treasures for me, but a quick stop at Hummingbird bakery was a treat...
Crossing over into the quieter part of Portabello road, which was bathed in spring sunshine and  blossoms, I stumbled on a little cafe called Charlies.... sharing the same name as my Gramps I had to stop... the cafe is sited down a little alley which leads into a small walled courtyard. The cafe was lovely, serving great food & coffee... on each table is a small booklet listing the provenance of all its food, a great little touch and very informative.
a great little find, will definitely be popping back next time that I am near.... I loved my morning in Notting Hill,.... Thanks Ali for the fab little map!

part 2 ~ Springtime in the City to follow...!!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Here Comes the Girls!

Yesterday I spent a fantastic day with 7 other ladies, an Italian chef, and a very distracting French chef having fun on a "Here comes the Girls" day, cooking at the Jean Christoph Novelli  Academy in Hertfordshire.

This gift was a 40th birthday present from "bruv & sis" and they did very well!....
The Academy is set in JC's home, with the academy kitchen being a space he uses frequently, in the quaint village of Tea Green. With the sun shining and spring flowers blooming it couldn't have been more perfect!
Felice was a chef for the day, with JC popping in between gardening to see how we were doing. With 8 ladies in a kitchen it did get quite loud with laughter on several occasions!
I learnt so much during the day not just from the demo's but through the real hands on experience.
Here Comes the Girls ~ Menu
  • Walnut & Date Bread
  • Worcestershire rarebit
  • Four cheeses raviolli with asparagus cream sauce
  • Seared sea bream on a bed of roasted vegetables with wild mushrooms and potato cake
  • Sweet pastry tartlet with creme patisserie & red berries
  • Set lemon Cream & chocolate truffles
Day kicked off with coffee & shortbread, followed by some bread making!... never made bread from scratch but loved it.. the walnut & date bread would become our base for rarebit brunch!... whilst bread was proving with learnt how to make the lemon cream (similar to creme caramel).. back to bread baking and then on to fillet the Sea bream!.. (you do get your hands dirty!)... fish filleted, sweet pastry made for dessert, vegetables prepared for the fish, it was then onto making the pasta for the raviolli!.... this proved highly entertaining...

Lunch was served which was amazing... 2 foods I would never pick off a menu, as my previous experience with asparagus hasn't been great and sea bream, because i'm not very confident with fish. They have been added to my food list now as they were gorgeous.

The remaining afternoon was spent baking the tartlet case, making the creme patisserie, eating the chocolate truffles! and filing case with fruit...
Afternoon complete with an informal Q&A from JC, certificates and pics!.... a fabulous day, thanks to all the ladies who were with with me, Felice and finally JC ( who is very distracting on the eye!!) and as lovely as when I saw him in December.

Off now to buy  a pasta maker, visit the fishmonger and pick up some yeast to make some more bread!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Books I've eaten in March....

March saw me devour books at a great rate....the test for a good book for me is that it grabs my attention on my daily commute, taking me away from the delights of the tube, which on most days include armpits, curry & beer odours!! (not mine!).. here are 4 that I loved.... 2 made me miss my stops on the tube, one made me cry on the tube and the other got me getting the sewing machine out (not on the tube!)

Katie FForde's A Perfect Proposal is set between New York, Connecticut and Cornwall... Sophie has spent he life pleasing others - especially her ungrateful family, so she heads off to NY ...Things don't go according to plan and she ends up be-friending a "grand-dame" of NY society.... Enter stage left the arrogant, and oh so scrummy grandson Luke... I loved this book... I want to spend Thanksgiving in Connecticut and live between NY & Cornwall!!... KF never disappoints.
Amy Bratley ~ Girls Guide to Homemaking is not as twee as it sounds... I loved the little homemaking quotes starting each chapter... in particular:
"Always have a lot of souvenirs around from far off places, even if you've just sent them from a mail order house. It will give the impression of being a world traveler who hasn't been home long enough to have thoroughly cleaned the house" ~ Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints 1966
" To bake perfect fairy cakes, you need to create a happy space in the kitchen. Light candles, put on a pretty housecoat and play soft soothing music to help you mix excellent batter. ~ Homemaking hints for a Happier Home ,1959
Juliet seeks comfort from her grandmothers 1950s homemaking manuals, escaping her troubles and hoping to mend her broken heart... Cornwall, Italy & London set the scenes for this book, which is fun, and heartbreaking too..you will want to get the sewing machine out!
Veronica Henry ~ The Birthday Party... devoured in 2 days, missed stops on trains & buses whilst reading this... loved the Rafferty family!... a romp from the first page, you will be sucked into the life of the Rafferty's! Delilah has lived her rollercoaster marriage to Raf in the public eye, as she approaches her 50th birthday both her three girls; Coco, Violet & Tyger and husbands careers take off. Does temptation become too much for them all?... you will not want to put this down!VH has done it again!!
Jane Green - The Love Verb ~ heartbreakingingly beautiful. I cried on the tube reading this... do not let the cancer thread in this book put you off. It's filled with laughter, love & hope, friendships & family tested to the end.A side thread throughout the book is that to cope with her sister Callie's illness, Steffi seeks solace in cooking,  between each chapter are the recipes that Steffi cooks to cope... I so related to this, ... and it added some lightness but a real poignancy to the writing.. you will need tissues!

Thanks Ladies for making my commute in March sooo much more enjoyable!....

Sunday, 3 April 2011

It's Mums day....

happy Mothers day to my mum....hope that you have a lovely day.

A little bunch of spring flowers, and a box of homemade macarons! Bag also contains a little bottle of champagne, and a book for her to put her feet up to and read.
Happy Mothers day... with love.....
Thanking of my Nan today, who is forever missed..xx..

Saturday, 2 April 2011

smart school

A couple of weeks ago my friend celebrated her birthday, as blogged she is quite hard to buy for and this year I themed her birthday around food, main gift being an evening at the Smart Cookery School in Essex. The gift included a +1... so I tagged along too! After looking at the different courses she booked Friday evening which was a beginners Gourmet dining!.
The school is located in rural Essex in the village of Danbury, so an early finish for me at work and a pleasant drive into the countryside in the sunshine started the evening well.

The cooking school was a delight and Ann the owner and chef was the evening was really lovely. The place was tiny and you really felt like you were in someones kitchen chatting over a drink whilst you cooked. We were joined by 2 sisters, Kim & Davina and had great fun, cooking and eating!
Menu for the evening was:
Scallops with Minted Pea & Pancetta
Duck with Caramelised Mango
and Parmienter Potatoes
all accompanied by great wine & coffee.

This place is fantastic for a girly evening. Ann hosts a number of other events for larger parties at local hotels and venues, including ready steady cook, masterchef and hells kitchen days!
We each took it in turns to prepare and cook the courses which was fun, lots of helpful tips to try at home.
Thoroughly recomend this little school... made to feel very welcome, great food and another evening with no washing up!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Mastering Macarons

Continuing with my culinary themed week, Wednesday evening I headed over to North London to the home of the Waitrose cookery school for a masterclass in Macarons.
They are this years trend as recently seen on both Raymond Blanc & Lorraine Pascal cookery shows.
The cookery school is beautiful, light airy, and filled with the creme de la creme of cookery equipment.
The chefs bought into the school have years of experience and have worked for some of the most prestigious names in the industry, both chefs & restaurants. On arrival you are warmly greeted and welcomed with wine or soft drinks of choice and presented with your chefs whites for the day!

James our chef of the evening was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and patient! A credit to the school and Waitrose.
During the course of the evening working with a "buddy" we baked 3 flavours of macaron;
Pistachio & raspberry
Orange marmalade
Chocolate with chocolate ganache & sea salt caramel

Taking home approx 40 macarons, a great cookery folder, & waitrose canvas bag.

I picked up so many tips from the evening and had a fantastic time... and no washing up!!!
Eleni (James assistant was a star with clearing our equipment and replening everything as well as offering helpful advice)

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Cake & Party.....

much noise in the cake world when Fiona Cairns was named as cake designer for the wedding. Pictures released last night show a scene stealing cake, in cream & white decorated with the most exquisite sugar flowers and piped lace work on the cake:
The language of flowers on the cake symbolise the following:
Rose (white) - national symbol of England

Daffodil - national symbol of Wales, new beginnings
Shamrock - national symbol of Ireland
Thistle - national symbol of Scotland
Acorns, oak leaf - strength, endurance
Myrtle - love
Ivy - wedded love, marriage
Lily of the valley - sweetness, humility
Rose (bridal) - happiness, love
Sweet William - grant me one smile
Honeysuckle - the bond of love
Apple blossom - preference, good fortune
White heather - protection, wishes will come true
Jasmine (white) - amiability
Daisy - innocence, beauty, simplicity
Orange blossom - marriage, eternal love, fruitfulness
Lavender - ardent attachment, devotion, success, and luck.
from cakes to party.... here are a few treats made for our street party..... we had sausage sandwiches & pots of tea for the build-up and service.... followed by feast of savoury and sweet for the garden party.....
a fabulous day, filled with friends, love & fun.......

Friday, 29 April 2011

A Royal Spectacular.....

I and 2 billion others have been glued to the TV for 8 hours today watching our future King marry his bride.... a beautiful wedding, full of pageantry, and elegance interwoven with style and fun putting a personal stamp on it from Kate & William.... here are some montages of my favourite pictures....
The Dress.....
a stunning design by Sarah Burton from McQueen......from the simple bouquet of lily of the valley, to the stunning laced sleeves, to the elegant train, this dress drew parallels with the wedding dress of Grace Kelly, but clearly had the Middleton & Mcqueen stamp all over it...
The Groom & his Grandmother....
With the groom resplendent in red military from the Irish Guards.... complimenting his grandfather, and his granny looking stunning in yellow... the day was filled with love  and romance... It was lovely to see this snap of the Queen & Prince Phillip, looking relaxed and happy.
we can only imagine what high jinx Harry has got up to as role as Best man!... but I'm confident in typing that their mum would be so proud of them.
The Happy Couple.....
it was clear to see that Catherine & William are very much in love, with Williams "you look beautiful" as she met him at the aisle..... sticky moment when the ring looked like it wasn't going on!...to the rousing rendition of Jerusalem... it showed a couple very much in love.. very emotional as her dad walked down the aisle.
Pageantry.... as the couple left the Abbey to return to the Palace, our Pomp & Pageantry which this country does better than anywhere else, was showcased to its finest.... every person who had a part to play with that should be immensely proud of themselves tonight...
Fun & Romance...... from the kisses on the balcony to the departure in the Aston Martin DB5 volante.. pure style ...


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wedding wishes....

the dress rehearsals have happened.... Westminster is full of a forest of foliage & flowers, London is awash with red, white & blue,.... atmosphere in town is fantastic.... people camped on the street.....
I have a few last minute things to do early tomorrow morning!..... icing cupcakes is one! but what ever you are doing enjoy the day..... I'm spending it with friends & family at a RW garden party ( complete with umbrella!)....

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Party preparations & Pop for a Prince & Princess...

here are a few pictures that are inspiring my party preparations....
loving the Cath Kidston tea towel.....and have also picked up some of the talking tables bits & pieces!.... what Goodies have you purchased?....

do love an opportunity to get the bunting out!...

Time is running away  and tonight I am also attempting my first lot of cake pops!..... here are the pre- decoration stage!
I'm loving my royal wedding sprinkles box!......off to play with chocolate & sprinkles with a little glitter thrown in the end!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Baking Mad.....

Yesterday saw the start of Eric Lanlards Baking Mad series on Channel 4...
I am a complete fan of Eric's having watched his Glamour Puds series a couple of years ago and loved it. Eric is behind the Cake Boy Cafe and most recently Cupcakes, Cookies & Cox in Soho in partnership with Shoe Designer Patrick Cox.... just the premise of Cupcakes & Shoes makes me happy!!... on both occasions that I have visited CCC the cupcakes have been great.
Yesterdays Baking Mad theme was Cupcakes!.... recipes of the day were Lemon meringue, Tiramisu and Pineapple & Amaretto which all looked very yummy.
Recipes can be found here:
Also featured was the new shoe salon from the Big Green Store north of the park!.... didn't look as good as our shoe salon but the cupcakes looked fantastic!
Eric's Homebake book is a great read as well as his Masterclass book (previously published as Glamour Cakes) covering many aspects of cake decorating. 
If the series is as good as the first episode then I'm in for a treat!....especially as I have an afternoon booked with Patisserie master himself in a few weeks!

TV Cake feast...

Last night I had a TV cake feast!.... catching up on the Great British Wedding Cake and Eric Lanlards Baking Mad. Starting with the Great British Wedding Cake,where the 3 finalists from the Great British Bake-off were bought bake to complete 2 challenges. The first challenge to produce a 3 tiered wedding cake in 11 hours!.... not something I would advise or advocate but they all pulled it off. All three cakes were simplistic, although I really liked the boy who bakes design.
Second challenge was to design a contemporary cake, as the three bakers are so different in personality this is where they really put their own style in the design.
Macaron Tower, White chocolate & chocolate ganache cake and a Lemon Meringue Tower
I liked all three, the macarons looked amazing, the chocolate cake with the flowers was very pretty, and the meringue tower was really different, nice for a small garden wedding. Inter woven between the challenges was the history of the wedding cake... which was extremely interesting. A great viewing... nice to see Mary & Paul back on the box!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Planning for a party....

Tonight I've caught up with this month magazines.......... and chilled with a cup of tea!....as you can see most magazines have a patriotic theme this month for the big event of a Royal Wedding this week.... there is a fantastic feeling in London.... bunting & flags are popping up everywhere.... its looking great.

 tonight I've also been doing a little planning for a Royal wedding garden party on Friday......
This week  I'm turning my blog over to be Royal Wedding influenced!... it will include cupcakes, vintage, London and more....

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Wishes....

hope everyone is having a lovely Easter..... I've been baking for Easter as for some unknown reason I've been a little disorganised this year!... had so many plans on bakes & makes and only managed some cupcakes and hotcross bun muffins!

This years new recipe was the Creme Egg cupcake... (with the Creme egg inside the cupcake!)...decorated with chocolate & mini eggs.
The two little chick cupcakes were a spur of the moment try, and I loved them (although a little difficult to transport!)..... Saturday saw me sorting out the cupcake cupboard in the kitchen, as well as a large collection of cupcake cases the sprinkles situation was getting a bit silly!! so a little organising was required and I now have themed sprinkle/decoration containers! (pictured above)

Today I'm taking my brother & nephew to their first rugby game; Saracens are playing Gloucester which is a big game for us... the weather is glorious, spending quality time with the 2 special boys in my life and I get to eat chocolate!... can it get any better!!.... Tonight I'm off to friends for dinner in Brentwood ( no its nothing like TOWIE!!) as we haven't caught up in a couple of months.... so hope the Easter Bunny has left you lots of treats.. Enjoy!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Something Borrowed...

by Emily Giffin is one of my all time favourite books, I have read it several times and it never gets stale for me. Darcy & Rachel who have been friends since childhood,  two very different girls, Rachel studious and shy, Darcy outgoing & living life in the limelight.... Dex enters life as Rachels friend from NYU and Darcys as her fiance!....  a test of friendship when affairs are had and it all gets a little complicated!... Set between the skyline of New York and the beach of Long Island, it has a heroine you will root for throughout and a book I cannot put down... this book is one of my comfort blankets. I love it, so how excited was I to see this trailered on the Tv this week.....

booking tickets now!...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Keep on Running....

was certainly the mantra for 35,000 runners pounding the streets of London on Sunday. One of those 35,000 was my twin brother ..... this year he was running for the children's charity Dreams Come True. This was his 3rd marathon, and he says its his last!.... he completed in 3hrs 49 and it was his hardest.

The weather which was fantastic for us spectators was hard going for all the runners.
We spectated from just past the 25 mile point. This year we saw more people collapsing and walking than we have seen in the 2 previous years. I have the utmost admiration for all those that completed. Its an amazing and humbling experience to see and London hosts it spectacularly.... we caught up with friends and family at the finish and toasted his success with coffee & specially made cupcakes in Trafalgar square!...

In keeping with my running theme, my two train reads this week have been:
  • Mum on the Run ~ Fiona Gibson ~ a fun read, especially for every mum who dreads the school sports day parents race!... on an attempt to loose weight she ditches fat busters and starts running, juggling kids, job & a secret running partner!.. predictable but good fun....
  • Girl on the Run ~ Jane Costello ~ having read Jane's previous books,  was looking forward to this and wasn't disappointed... laugh out loud chick lit, I completely empathised and associated with Abby!.. a great read.... not as predictable as you may think... may even be tempted to pull on my trainers!..... 

Saturday, 16 April 2011

You can never have.....

too many Cupcake cases!... over the past couple of weeks I've managed to pick up some great  cupcake case kits... all at bargain prices!...
these are the Let them eat Cupcake range which I picked up in TKMaxx, complete with a little cupcake booklet, piping bag & nozzle. I'm loving the funky colours...
Also picked up just after Mothers day was this cute Cupcake house & Made with Love cake Tin from M&S... Cupcake house contains, cupcake cases, cake mix, marshmallows & sprinkles! The cake tin contains a Victoria Sandwich sponge kit and a Made with Love stencil.... both picked up half price...
another cupcake kit, accompanied by a cute little cake stand complete with boxes of sprinkles!... i'm loving both these, cake stand from Sainsburys and cupcake kit from Homesense.... my cupcake cupboard is overflowing!!.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Spring in the City...

following on from my morning in Notting Hill, I spent the afternoon in Kensington. Lunch at my favourite pub in London and a stroll enjoying the scenery!
Pub in question is the beautiful Churchill Arms, which looks stunning from the outside, is a true homage to Winston Churchill inside and caters the best Thai food in the capital.. (the beers not bad either!)

After a leisurely lunch I wandered down Kensington Church Street where blossoms and spring flowers were blooming..

The weather continues to be amazing in London with a lovely sunny Easter forecast... I love London in the Sunshine!...

Monday, 11 April 2011

April reads...

as you know I like to theme my reads around what I'm doing , so this months reads are split into two.One themed and the other just because they are two of my favourite authors!
Themed are in keeping with Mothers Day... my reads are:
  • Mothers & Daughters ~ Kate Long - Two generations, driven apart by infidelity, how a mother and daughter deal with betrayal and fight for what they believe in....
  • Mum on the Run ~ Fiona Gibson - the dreaded mums race at school sports day - every mothers worst nightmare........
  • and from my favourite author list:~
  • Men I've loved before ~ Adele Parks - Nat wonders if Neil really is the man of her dreams, or could someone from her past really be "the one"! Love Adele 's books looking forward to my tube journeys with this one...a move away from her previous book covers... hopefully will not have an accident with this one!... check out previous post!
  • Dirty Tricks ~ Jo Carnegie - we're back in Churchminster following on from Country Pursuits, Naked Truths, and Wild Things... Jo's books are this generations Jilly Cooper. One of my guilty pleasures is Emmerdale.. this series is the glamorous version of Emmerdale, lots of champagne,and incredibly scrummy men who are very naughty!!...so looking forward to curling up with this, it's like catching up with old friends that you haven't seen for a while ......
looking forward to my commute now.... check back for April reviews later in month....

Saturday, 9 April 2011

With Love from Notting Hill....

with the sun shining and a day off work I took myself off to Nottinghill /Portabello road for an amble!.. Last year Ali Mcnamara's book "from nottinghill with love.... actually" was one of my favourite reads ( a must for anyone who loves the Richard Curtis films)... so book in tow I headed to Ladbroke Grove.
I walked past some of the gated gardens, (locked of course!).. found the famous blue door (Rhys Ifans in underpants forever printed on my mind!) now a little shabby and painted black, to the corner where Julia Roberts has the OJ spilt on her by Hugh Grant now a coffee republic!...and the inspirational travel bookshop. I loved wandering around, especially as the market was just coming to life in the beautiful spring sunshine.
Heading up the Portabello road towards Notting hill the daily market wares lead into the antique market stalls which are just gorgeous. Lots of old books and the vintage rugby memorabilia was lovely.
You can still spot a bargain but you have to hunt!..no treasures for me, but a quick stop at Hummingbird bakery was a treat...
Crossing over into the quieter part of Portabello road, which was bathed in spring sunshine and  blossoms, I stumbled on a little cafe called Charlies.... sharing the same name as my Gramps I had to stop... the cafe is sited down a little alley which leads into a small walled courtyard. The cafe was lovely, serving great food & coffee... on each table is a small booklet listing the provenance of all its food, a great little touch and very informative.
a great little find, will definitely be popping back next time that I am near.... I loved my morning in Notting Hill,.... Thanks Ali for the fab little map!

part 2 ~ Springtime in the City to follow...!!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Here Comes the Girls!

Yesterday I spent a fantastic day with 7 other ladies, an Italian chef, and a very distracting French chef having fun on a "Here comes the Girls" day, cooking at the Jean Christoph Novelli  Academy in Hertfordshire.

This gift was a 40th birthday present from "bruv & sis" and they did very well!....
The Academy is set in JC's home, with the academy kitchen being a space he uses frequently, in the quaint village of Tea Green. With the sun shining and spring flowers blooming it couldn't have been more perfect!
Felice was a chef for the day, with JC popping in between gardening to see how we were doing. With 8 ladies in a kitchen it did get quite loud with laughter on several occasions!
I learnt so much during the day not just from the demo's but through the real hands on experience.
Here Comes the Girls ~ Menu
  • Walnut & Date Bread
  • Worcestershire rarebit
  • Four cheeses raviolli with asparagus cream sauce
  • Seared sea bream on a bed of roasted vegetables with wild mushrooms and potato cake
  • Sweet pastry tartlet with creme patisserie & red berries
  • Set lemon Cream & chocolate truffles
Day kicked off with coffee & shortbread, followed by some bread making!... never made bread from scratch but loved it.. the walnut & date bread would become our base for rarebit brunch!... whilst bread was proving with learnt how to make the lemon cream (similar to creme caramel).. back to bread baking and then on to fillet the Sea bream!.. (you do get your hands dirty!)... fish filleted, sweet pastry made for dessert, vegetables prepared for the fish, it was then onto making the pasta for the raviolli!.... this proved highly entertaining...

Lunch was served which was amazing... 2 foods I would never pick off a menu, as my previous experience with asparagus hasn't been great and sea bream, because i'm not very confident with fish. They have been added to my food list now as they were gorgeous.

The remaining afternoon was spent baking the tartlet case, making the creme patisserie, eating the chocolate truffles! and filing case with fruit...
Afternoon complete with an informal Q&A from JC, certificates and pics!.... a fabulous day, thanks to all the ladies who were with with me, Felice and finally JC ( who is very distracting on the eye!!) and as lovely as when I saw him in December.

Off now to buy  a pasta maker, visit the fishmonger and pick up some yeast to make some more bread!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Books I've eaten in March....

March saw me devour books at a great rate....the test for a good book for me is that it grabs my attention on my daily commute, taking me away from the delights of the tube, which on most days include armpits, curry & beer odours!! (not mine!).. here are 4 that I loved.... 2 made me miss my stops on the tube, one made me cry on the tube and the other got me getting the sewing machine out (not on the tube!)

Katie FForde's A Perfect Proposal is set between New York, Connecticut and Cornwall... Sophie has spent he life pleasing others - especially her ungrateful family, so she heads off to NY ...Things don't go according to plan and she ends up be-friending a "grand-dame" of NY society.... Enter stage left the arrogant, and oh so scrummy grandson Luke... I loved this book... I want to spend Thanksgiving in Connecticut and live between NY & Cornwall!!... KF never disappoints.
Amy Bratley ~ Girls Guide to Homemaking is not as twee as it sounds... I loved the little homemaking quotes starting each chapter... in particular:
"Always have a lot of souvenirs around from far off places, even if you've just sent them from a mail order house. It will give the impression of being a world traveler who hasn't been home long enough to have thoroughly cleaned the house" ~ Phyllis Diller's Housekeeping Hints 1966
" To bake perfect fairy cakes, you need to create a happy space in the kitchen. Light candles, put on a pretty housecoat and play soft soothing music to help you mix excellent batter. ~ Homemaking hints for a Happier Home ,1959
Juliet seeks comfort from her grandmothers 1950s homemaking manuals, escaping her troubles and hoping to mend her broken heart... Cornwall, Italy & London set the scenes for this book, which is fun, and heartbreaking too..you will want to get the sewing machine out!
Veronica Henry ~ The Birthday Party... devoured in 2 days, missed stops on trains & buses whilst reading this... loved the Rafferty family!... a romp from the first page, you will be sucked into the life of the Rafferty's! Delilah has lived her rollercoaster marriage to Raf in the public eye, as she approaches her 50th birthday both her three girls; Coco, Violet & Tyger and husbands careers take off. Does temptation become too much for them all?... you will not want to put this down!VH has done it again!!
Jane Green - The Love Verb ~ heartbreakingingly beautiful. I cried on the tube reading this... do not let the cancer thread in this book put you off. It's filled with laughter, love & hope, friendships & family tested to the end.A side thread throughout the book is that to cope with her sister Callie's illness, Steffi seeks solace in cooking,  between each chapter are the recipes that Steffi cooks to cope... I so related to this, ... and it added some lightness but a real poignancy to the writing.. you will need tissues!

Thanks Ladies for making my commute in March sooo much more enjoyable!....

Sunday, 3 April 2011

It's Mums day....

happy Mothers day to my mum....hope that you have a lovely day.

A little bunch of spring flowers, and a box of homemade macarons! Bag also contains a little bottle of champagne, and a book for her to put her feet up to and read.
Happy Mothers day... with love.....
Thanking of my Nan today, who is forever missed..xx..

Saturday, 2 April 2011

smart school

A couple of weeks ago my friend celebrated her birthday, as blogged she is quite hard to buy for and this year I themed her birthday around food, main gift being an evening at the Smart Cookery School in Essex. The gift included a +1... so I tagged along too! After looking at the different courses she booked Friday evening which was a beginners Gourmet dining!.
The school is located in rural Essex in the village of Danbury, so an early finish for me at work and a pleasant drive into the countryside in the sunshine started the evening well.

The cooking school was a delight and Ann the owner and chef was the evening was really lovely. The place was tiny and you really felt like you were in someones kitchen chatting over a drink whilst you cooked. We were joined by 2 sisters, Kim & Davina and had great fun, cooking and eating!
Menu for the evening was:
Scallops with Minted Pea & Pancetta
Duck with Caramelised Mango
and Parmienter Potatoes
all accompanied by great wine & coffee.

This place is fantastic for a girly evening. Ann hosts a number of other events for larger parties at local hotels and venues, including ready steady cook, masterchef and hells kitchen days!
We each took it in turns to prepare and cook the courses which was fun, lots of helpful tips to try at home.
Thoroughly recomend this little school... made to feel very welcome, great food and another evening with no washing up!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Mastering Macarons

Continuing with my culinary themed week, Wednesday evening I headed over to North London to the home of the Waitrose cookery school for a masterclass in Macarons.
They are this years trend as recently seen on both Raymond Blanc & Lorraine Pascal cookery shows.
The cookery school is beautiful, light airy, and filled with the creme de la creme of cookery equipment.
The chefs bought into the school have years of experience and have worked for some of the most prestigious names in the industry, both chefs & restaurants. On arrival you are warmly greeted and welcomed with wine or soft drinks of choice and presented with your chefs whites for the day!

James our chef of the evening was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and patient! A credit to the school and Waitrose.
During the course of the evening working with a "buddy" we baked 3 flavours of macaron;
Pistachio & raspberry
Orange marmalade
Chocolate with chocolate ganache & sea salt caramel

Taking home approx 40 macarons, a great cookery folder, & waitrose canvas bag.

I picked up so many tips from the evening and had a fantastic time... and no washing up!!!
Eleni (James assistant was a star with clearing our equipment and replening everything as well as offering helpful advice)