Honey and
food and travel

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Dan Lepard's Carrot, Orange & Pistachio Cake

It often happens that there's people coming round for a lazy lunch on a Sunday, I've already cooked everything I need to, but then I decide I need to make a cake too. Just in case. In case of what? I don't know. In case someone suddenly needs cake. And it seems that many people, when they see cake, do suddenly need cake. Cake never goes to waste.

And so it was that after a sleepy Sunday morning, everything ready and prepared for the arriving friends, I set about making Dan Lepard's carrot, orange and pistachio cake. This means they arrive to a scene of chaos rather than the scene of calm that had existed previously. Dan's little introduction to this recipe is so charming that the irresistible immediately becomes a necessary requirement in one's life. As an added bonus there's a little bit of health tucked away in this layer cake. I left off the top layer of icing as a nod to that vague notion. I'm not sure it counts as a health food but it's near enough for me.

Luckily for you, the recipe can be found here. That's your bank holiday weekend sorted. You're welcome.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

David Lebovitz's Pain D'Épices

I'm really not joking when I say I'm counting down the days to release of Lebovitz's new book. And here's proof. The second recipe of his that I have made in one week, retrieved from other bloggers, from those lucky few who received a sneak preview and who I am so grateful to for sharing a glimpse of what lies inside with us common-folk. 

So it was that on a lonely night home alone, far too late in the day, I set about baking David's Pain d'Épices that the wonderful Lottie and Doof had published weeks before. My little flat was soon filled with the comforting smells of sugar and spice and all things nice. The golden honey mixture was too beautiful and smooth not to dip my finger into (a few times). 

The beautiful rise on the little loaf put a sleepy smile on my face.

Apparently it will last for a while, but I'm afraid we can't attest to that. This honey-spice bread is all too easy to eat for breakfast, with coffee, with tea, after dinner. We did all of them. It didn't last long.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


I have been raving to B about Kêu (a popular working lunch location), for a while now. So it was that after a long training run on Saturday morning that he insisted we drop by for lunch. This little place on Old Street makes the most wonderful bánh mì. If you've not discovered bánh mì yet you're missing out. They are Vietnamese sandwiches and they are fabulous. At least they are here.

Kêu's bread has a perfectly crispy crust and is soft and pillowy in the middle, the vegetables are always deliciously lightly pickled, and the meat, whichever option you chose, is, well, for want of better words, just so yummy. B was impressed, I was happy. The gap left in my stomach after that 9 mile run was filled. A bitter sweet Vietnamese iced coffee helped me out the door and on with the day, a little boost into the afternoon.

Highlight: Cruncy and soft bánh mì
Lowlight: The effect on my waist line

Friday, 25 April 2014

5 Things

I can't believe this has only been a four day week. It feels like it's gone on forever. 

But there has at least been 5 happy moments:

1. Bank holiday Monday
2. A post-work run in the park with B
3. Rye bread for breakfast
4. House of Cards
5. Easter chocolate 

Time to smile - it's the weekend again!


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

David Lebovitz's Buckwheat Madeleines

I'm counting down to the release of David Lebovitz's new book like a kid counts down to Christmas. So when maman, the Queen of madeleines, suggested we make David's buckwheat madeleines, I of course said yes. I became the kitchen helper and all I really did was brown some butter, do some stirring, and pour the mixture out into the madeleine tray. But I was proud to be able to take some of the gratitude expressed when everyone took a bit of these wonderfully nutty, warm, fluffy shells. The first recipe tried did not disappoint - and my excitement for the book to arrive has consequently only increased!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Nigel Slater's Passionfruit Roulade

Easter Sunday is a time for a celebration meal. An extravagant one. One that doesn't happen often in the year. Christmas, Boxing Day, birthdays, and Easter.

So it's no surprise that this pudding that was a family Boxing Day tradition has gradually migrated to Easter over the years. It fits both perfectly well. I'd happily eat it all year round. A bright, light, creamy, acidic passionfruit roulade. 

Nigel Slater places the roulade on Boxing Day in his Kitchen Diaries. It's the perfect pudding for a holiday, as it does take a little while to prepare. And a lot of care.

The time consuming nature is only increased when you suddenly realise that the lemon curd you had intended to use actually went off in May 2012. Curd crisis. Crisis increased when I remembered all the lemons had gone into yesterday's lemon loaf cake. So lime it was. Adding another half hour to the journey time, but totally worth it, and actually to be recommended. I followed this very simple recipe which did the trick (when doubled in quantity), and all the leftovers were enjoyed as breakfast the next morning. Crisis averted and turned into a happy improvement.

Rolling this roulade, the final, crucial step, is nerve-wracking. I admit to not breathing while doing this. Very un-yogic of me. I also find this is best done with a glass of wine placed somewhere nearby in case of a disaster. Also very un-yogic of me. But my best advice is to be gentle yet also - as Nigel says - 'forthright'. No one minds a crack here and there. It will taste just as good, and you will have more of that homemade, rustic farmhouse vibe so sought after in the blogosphere. Yum.

The recipe can be found here. Along with a lot of other fabulous words and recipes.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Rose Bakery Lemon Loaf

What do you do when it's a spring Satuday afternoon, you have people coming for tea, and no cake has been planned, no ingredients bought? Make lemon cake. Obvs.

Not one of Rose Carrarini's healthiest numbers. But definitely one of her best. The recipe can be found in her chic book, 'Breakfast, Lunch, Tea'. Simple, spongey, bright, and perfectly citrusy. With a sugary sweet lemon icing, which does wonders for the photos...

I actually ended up using one goose egg instead of the four eggs asked for. A new one for me. It seemed to be a fairly accurate substitution. The yolk of the egg being so large, the cake was definitely richer, and more perfectly Easter yellow than it would have otherwise been. Even if I did have problems cracking into the thing. 

Serve on a blustery but warm spring day, with many cups of tea.

Friday, 18 April 2014

5 Happy Things

A four day week. Makes for a super busy four days, but a super relaxing four day weekend will make up for it. 

5 happy things from this week:

1. Wearing sunglasses on the walk to work
2. Spring smells in Victoria Park
4. Another lunch at On the Bab

Happy Easter to you all! I hope it's filled with more chocolate than you can dream of.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Franco Manca

We were the last ones to be squeezed into a table, right at the back, right next to the action, before the queue started. It was 7pm on a Tuesday night in April. If there is a queue outside already it has to be a good sign. Especially when there are multiples of this restaurant spread across London. This was a queue of East End folk only.

The next good sign is that all the staff are Italian. It was like we'd walked into a holiday.

And the other good sign was Tony Turnbull's quote on the back of the menu. If Tony Turnbull votes these pizzas the best in the country, we must be on to something.

I can smugly say that we were. Franco Manca's sourdough pizza bases gives them that edge over the others. The doughiness is there. Not in a stodgy, heavy way, but in a fluffy, malty, matured way, that cannot be found in the pack of instant yeast of the supermarket shelf. I dream of the day when the supermarket buyers replace the little sachets with little jars of sourdough starter.

A glass of thankfully not-too-organic wine for me, a beer for B, a few leaves and alfafa sprouts to get towards the 7 a day, and then on to the real deal. B went all simple on me and his eye averted the spicy meats and settled, strangely, on a classic tomato, basil, mozzerella. I guess if you're going to do that anywhere, this is probably the place. You'd probably be happy if they just bought you the crust, so maybe as little accessorising on top as you can bare is the answer. I, on the other hand, plumped for tomato, garlic, oregano, capers, olives, anchovies and mozzerella. Heaven. And B doesn't like many of those things. Which meant I got it all to myself. My little food baby accompanied me all the way home.

I'd also just like to add that this place is ridiculously good value. £6 for a pizza? I'll be going back. Straight back.

Highlight: Sourdough
Lowlight: The walk from my flat is a little too far. If they'd like to open up actually on my street that would make me very happy.

Franco Manca, 52 Broadway Market, London, E8 4QJ

Monday, 14 April 2014

Strawberry Tart

Inspired by the strawberry tart devoured last week in the mountains, I got home and set about making my own. 

Lily Vanilli's ever trusted sweet pastry, with Leith's creme patissière, and strawberries, well, from the fruit shop, glazed with some sweet Bonne Maman. Not quite as beautifully perfect as last week's. My excuse is I don't have a pastry tin, nor a little helper bringing me only the most perfectly sized strawberries. But they do taste rather good, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Village East at Bermondsey

To celebrate not doing the marathon this year, we went out for brunch. 

Village East is the older sister of one of my favourite brunch hangouts, the Riding House Café. Village East is similar, but with a more 'exposed brickwork' vibe.

Another fabulous foodie hangout on Bermondsey Street. Several seating areas make it feel intimate, a variety of large tables, sharing tables, bar stools, armchairs, lots of reclaimed wood and bashed metal, and the perfect amount of impeccable design. A favourite being the red salt and pepper shakers and constant water refilling. Yes, I'm easily pleased.

Having sheepishly asked for the coffee and juice menu when we had been handed the cocktail list and wine list (we're not that cool), glasses of colourful, zingy liquids arrived. The food menu could then be examined.

The juices were tasty and on the right side of health-giving. C's was the favourite, laced with coconut water as it was. Coconut water is the answer to most of my prayers right now.

I had soon devoured my Eggs Florentine (again, I know, I'm sorry, but I can't resist), C her bowl of steaming porridge, and B his 'Campfire breakfast', otherwise known as pork, homemade baked beans, and fried eggs. Lots of yummmms and smiles all round.

The service was perfect, just the right amount of attention without being too overbearing and intimidating. And the bill didn't make too big a dent in my wallet. 

We walked home in the sun, feeling slightly guilty for the lack of marathon running, but with happy tummies, and discussions of possibly running the marathon next year. But maybe I'll just go for brunch again instead.

Highlight: Perfectly poached eggs
Lowlight: Juice envy

Village East, 171 - 173 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3UW

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Strawberry Tart

A little note on French pâtisserie. 

This strawberry tart was devoured one lazy skiing afternoon when the conditions had taken a turn for the worse and we retreated indoors. I had a bit of a Proustian moment, remembering all those beautiful French tarts I had eaten in my life. I've always had a sweet tooth, but I think that it was my love of tarts and my love of France that led me to my pâtisserie obsession of now. Perfection. 

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