Category Archives: Guest Blog

Kale & Chilli English Muffins.

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I LOVE BRUNCH. Like seriously LOVE IT. It’s the joy of breakfast food but in bigger portions AND with a wider scope of ‘acceptable’ food options, what’s not to love. I saw this recipe on the little loaf’s blog a while back, and following my foray into the world of buckwheat flour I was keen to try some more recipes that used it. I found that I needed to cook the muffins for a lot longer than suggested on the little loaf’s blog, and I added/removed a few items from the ingredients list (mainly as I was too lazy to go and buy the correct ingredients). I also took a very lazy approach, using a food processor as much as possible, as no one needs to be chopping on a sunday morning, especially one that looks like this…

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Kale and Chilli English Muffins (adapted from thelittleloaf)

Ingredients:

(makes six)

5g butter
10g olive oil
1 tsp chilli powder
150ml semi skimmed milk
110g curly kale
5g dried yeast
150g strong white bread flour
75g buckwheat flour
Pinch sea salt
Polenta, cornmeal or semolina for dusting

Method:

1) Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the kale and fry for 3-4 minutes, then add the butter.

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2) Mix together the chilli powder and milk, pour over the kale and cook until wilted. Leave to cool for 5-10 mins then transfer into a food processor, draining some of the excess milk off. Blitz gently till finely chopped, but not pulp.

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3) In a large mixing bowl mix the bread flour, buckwheat flour, salt and yeast, ensuring you place the salt and yeast at opposite ends of the bowl (otherwise the salt will kill the yeast!) Add the now cooled down kale mixture then add enough tepid water to form a dough (the dough will be quite sticky)

4) On a lightly floured surface, knead your dough for 10-15 minutes until it feels more elastic and smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm or a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for 30mins- 1 hour to rise.

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5) Place a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Then dust your work surface with polenta,semolina or cornmeal. Place your now risen dough on top and using your hands press out till around 2cm in thickness. Using a 7.5cm cookie cutter (or water glass) cut out your muffins, ensuring both outsides are covered with polenta/cornmeal/semolina.

IMG_09896) Place the muffins in the frying pan, leaving gaps in between them. Cook for 5-10 minutes before flipping (keep checking to make sure they’re not burning!) If you find they are taking a long time to cook, or are not convinced they are cooked all the way through you could pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

7) Serve warm with lashings of butter, they’re even better when toasted.

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Sunday brunch cooking needs a soundtrack (as does pretty much every activity) so here’s a few of my current obsessions. I love a good cover song (note: a good one) and these are my current favourites…

 

 

 

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District of Col-YUM-bia: Where to Eat in D.C

Washington is, surprisingly, a foodie’s heaven. If you look past the Starbucks on every corner and avoid the ever-tempting Chipotle (I’m a recent guacamole convert) you can find a wealth of independent coffee shops and amazing one-of-a-kind restaurants to help you pile on the pounds in true US style.

Here’s my guide to lunch, brunch, dinner and more…

Brunch:

Busboys and Poets (several locations but go for either 5th & K or 14th & V); an eclectic relaxed café that’s full of artistic types who flock to the poetry readings and French toast (I assume.) Great prices and a classic brunch menu.

Go for the….Classic Eggs Benedict with a side of grits

Market Lunch (inside Eastern Market); Eastern market is the perfect Sunday hang out- its food market is full of fresh, well-priced produce and right next door to a flea market rammed with treasures and hand-made items. It’s also round the corner from one of the best second hand book shops in the city. Market Lunch is tucked in the corner of the indoor market and perfect for a mid-morning brunch or later lunch.

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Go for the…. “Brick” sandwich for brunch (but take a friend to finish it off) or the crab cake sandwich for lunch, with a side of fried green tomatoes.

Lunch:

The Well Dressed Burrito (1220 19th St NW) Literally in an alleyway and so extremely hard to miss but if you stumble upon this gem of a lunch spot you’re in for a real treat. Prices are cheap and portions are obesity-crisis sized. The seating here is extremely limited seen as its essentially based in an office, but don’t let the unorthodox style put you off, the food is incredible.

Go for the…Chimichangas. Apparently there’s nothing more amusing that hearing that word in an English accent. The Mexican Bread Pudding is also a very good shout.

DC Bread and Brew (1247 20th St NW) Cute little coffee shop/bar/lunch place. Also next door to a pretty good Jewish deli (happy Chanukah guys and girls)

Go for the… half-soup-half sandwich option to save calories and money.

Besthesda Bagels (1718 Connecticut Ave NW) I could pretty much write an entire post about this place. If you’ve learnt anything from reading my sister’s blog its that Morans heart bread, we heart it big time. And bagels are the doughnuts of the bread world. Literally. Bethesda bagels are the best in the city and, in my opinion, even give New York bagels a run for their money. I started off buying the stuffed bagel sandwiches but that much carbs makes me sleepy so now I find myself addicted to the Pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese (they have a great non-dairy range) They have over 20 different flavours of bagel, and I won’t rest until I try them all. It’s also a couple of doors down from my favourite knitting shop  and across from my work  (plug intended)

Go for the….I’m not going to suggest anything, instead I suggest everything.

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Sweetgreen (1901 L St NW) A chain salad bar, much the same as Chop’t, but perfect for when you’re feeling the bread-guilt and need a healthy option.

Go for the… Santorini salad, only 400 calories.

Dinner:

Ben’s Chili Bowl: (1213 U St NW) Well, just read this for all you need to know. American food at its finest.

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Etete (1942 9th St NW) Whilst I didn’t intend to go to America to eat Ethiopian food sometimes stuff like that just happens, and I’m glad it did. I have no idea what I ordered, ate, or even whether I actually ended up paying my bill before leaving but it was a whole bunch of delicious.

Go for the… just chance it.

Drinks:

The Big Hunt: (1345 Connecticut Ave NW) Happy Hour’s 4pm-7pm, with $2.50 beer and $3 rail drinks. Monday is free pool and half price pizza night!

Café Citron: (1343 Connecticut Ave NW) Happy Hour’s 4.30pm-7pm with money off the entire drinks menu. The weekend crowd is lively and the Latino music is great fun.

Board Room (1737 Connecticut Ave. NW) Happy Hour’s 4pm-7pm with $4 wine and $4 Rail Cocktails. The real draw of this place is huge array of board games to play with- why talk to people when you can beat them at Hungry Hungry Hippos instead.

The Mighty Pint (1831 M St NW) Apply online and you can pretty easily win a free happy hour (5pm-6pm on a Thursday) for you and your friends, for free, really. A real American bar with real Americans in it. Lovely.

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Looking Glass Lounge (3634 Georgia Ave NW) Nice outdoor beer garden and good drink choice, best of all its within stumbling distance of the metro (and my house.)

Class dismissed.

Guest Blog- Rachel Versus Food

As I’m currently living in Washington D.C I’m trying to munch as many American classics as possible. So to treat myself after my first day of interning I walked the 20 minutes from the office to U-Street to visit a true American landmark- Ben’s Chili Bowl.

U-Street Legend ‘Ben’s Chili Bowl’

The history of this well-established local gem is fascinating. It was opened in 1958 in the building of an old silent movie house and still stands in the same location, despite a turbulent history of riots and financial downturn in the area. Attracting a wide fan base of local regulars and curious tourists Ben’s has a real American at-home atmosphere making even a lonely diner like me feel welcome. The walls are covered with pictures of its famous clientele ranging from Man versus Food legend Adam Richman to many a President and First Lady. Barack Obama, of course, eats for free.

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How do I get on this list?

So I perched on a stool and ordered myself a feast- the Ben’s classic Chilli Half Smoke and a side of chilli fries. A Half smoke is half-pork and half-beef and wholly incredible. Probably the messiest thing I’ve ever eaten (the white blouse wasn’t an ideal outfit choice) but worth every bite. The chilli on top is mild enough for my lemon-and-herb-nandos-heat limit and extremely tasty. The same chilli tops the delicious fries which, I hate to admit, I only managed half of.

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Enough to make you want to chant ‘USA USA!”

So I left an hour later full to the brim and wondering why Chilli Fries aren’t a big thing in England and hoping that I don’t become a ‘big thing’ whilst I’m over here. But hey if it’s good enough for Obama, it’s good enough for me.

Kyle in the Kitchen- Stranoffee Pie.

Whether it’s called ‘Stranoffee’ pie or just ‘Stroffee’ Pie , I do not know and the debate rages on. What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that Kyle’s strawberry take on Banoffee is damn delicious.

Stranoffee Pie

Ingredients;

300g/10.5 ounces Digestive Biscuits

60g/2 ounces Butter, melted

200g/7 ounces Strawberry

200ml double cream

50g/ 1-2 ounces dark chocolate,melted

For the Caramel;

115g/ 4 ounces Butter

55g/2 ounces Caster Sugar

130ml Condensed Milk

Method;

1) Put the biscuits into an air tight bag and seal. Using a rolling pin, bash the biscuits into crumbs. Tip the biscuit crumbs into a bowl. Add the melted butter and mix together,  spoon the crumbs into the base of a loose bottom cake tin and about halfway up the sides of the tin to make a pie shell. Chill for 10 minutes.

2. Melt the butter and sugar in a non-stick saucepan over a low heat, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved. Add the condensed milk and bring to a rapid boil for about a minute, stirring all the time for a thick golden caramel. Spread the caramel over the base, cool and then chill for about 1 hour, until firm or until ready to serve.

3. Carefully lift the pie from the tin and place on a serving plate. Slice the strawberries; fold half of them into the softly whipped cream and spoon over the base. Decorate the top with more halved strawberries, complete the look by melting dark chocolate and drizzling it over the cream. Additionally, if desired, extra dark chocolate can be grated over the top of the pie.

Guest Blog – Twin Takeover (II)

Cheeky guest blog from the twin as I’ve been pretty dull recently…

The Royal Albert Hall

A few weeks ago I did something stupid. I bought a £55 ticket to a gig three hours away from where I live. Yet sometimes stupidity is a blessing, and this was definitely one of those times. This wasn’t just any old gig. It was Florence + The Machine, and it was the Royal Albert Hall. I probably should also throw in the word “orchestral” somewhere as well, but rather than wait for a convenient time I’ll just play that card now. Florence + the Machine, an orchestra, at the Royal Albert Hall.

The Royal Albert Hall feels special, the high arches and domed ceiling means you could watch an episode of The Apprentice there and it would seem like a dreamy night in the 1920s. The gig was in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust, meaning the ticket price was well worth it as it raised a load of money for an excellent cause.

Support came from “Big Deal”, which whilst it might have been for them certainly wasn’t for us. Obviously opening for such a powerhouse main act is a tough gig but the Anglo-American duo did little out of the ordinary to entertain the audience and live up to the spectacle of the occasion. Also, bizarrely, Caroline Flack compered the evening, which was wholly unnecessary considering it consisted of only two acts. But I suppose she needs to get work from someone to keep her in those mini skirts and non-existent shorts. Rock legend Roger Daltry also popped up with a teenage boy to say a little about the brilliant work the teenage cancer trust does for teens around the country.

Florence Welch – A woman so pale her facial features cannot be detected by the average phone camera…

After what seemed like a lifetime Florence arrived, dressed all in gold and pale as a ghost. And she didn’t disappoint. From her opening song, the brilliant The Source Cover ‘You’ve Got The Love, to ‘Shake It Out’ to close she relentlessly showcased her amazing voice. Both Ceremonials and Lungs are excellent records, but they almost don’t do justice to her talent and the sheer power of her vocals. Set in the backdrop of the beautiful hall and accompanied by a full orchestra it was truly something special. Despite saying she was nervous Welch handled the occasion like a pro, engaging with the audience between songs and looking nothing short of ethereal during her performances. Before closing the show she engaged the audience with a spectacular rendition of Dog Days Are Over reminding everyone just why they fell in love with Florence and the Machine in the first place.

And so we all left happy and content with having helped out a brilliant charity. Oh and with even bigger girl crushes on Florence Welch. What. a. woman.

Rachel xx

Guest Blog- Twin Takeover

So I’ve been busy at home and lacking in inspiration for a real blog post (as much as I enjoy my study music posts, I need to provide you guys with some proper posts!) so I’ve handed my blog over to my sister for her first post… Enjoy!

Formal Hall at St.John’s College, Cambridge

For a ‘normal’ student I eat an extraordinary number of three course meals.  I think I probably average a good 1.75 a week over the course of a term. Last night, however, was slightly different affair as I dined at St. John’s College. Don’t get me wrong, Selwyn is lovely, and Formal Hall at Selwyn is no shabby affair. But Formal Hall at St. John’s has a slight edge. The Hall itself was built in the early 1500s and like most Cambridge buildings is at its finest when candlelit.  The real star of the show, apart from my glittering company obviously, was the food. Three courses in Cambridge can be fairly cheap, and so the standard sometimes drops, but the menu at John’s was one of the finest I’ve eaten and the best formal in Cambridge I’ve experienced.

The starter was by far my favourite course, it was the kind of salad your mum would order at a restaurant and then tell her friends about for days after. Not to sound too “masterchef” but the fig-pink grapefruit combination was a brilliant balancing of flavours with its sharpness really standing out against the chicory/fennel base. The main was similarly good. I went with white wine to go with the pork, breaking the rule of ‘red wine with red meat’, which, with pork, is a grey area anyway. Plus red wine makes me sleepy.  The meat was tender and the portion sizes perfect, which, being in a group of girls is always a concern calorie wise. The dessert was a baked chocolate fondant that was so good a fellow diner exclaimed that she would “be sad when it was over.”

We followed the meal with Cocktails at The Vaults, as no “Girls Night Out’ would be complete with fruity drinks, and who can resist a Happy Hour.  In Cambridge we have a saying – “I’d rather be at Oxford than St. John’s.” Well I’ve been to Oxford, granted I’ve only been to Wagamamma’s there, but still St. John’s definitely has better food on offer, so for now I think I’ll stay on the light blue side.

Baked Chocolate Fondant served with Cotes Du Rhone Blanc Guigal 2010 (the “less sleepy” wine option.)

Rachel. x