Tag Archives: brunch

The trouble with crumpets…

I’m British ergo I love me a crumpet. Delicious, bubbly, yeasty crumpety goodness, covered in butter and jam and with a cup of earl grey. What’s not to love?

I went to visit friends in France a few weeks ago – and I was challenged to make crumpets (the French do not love crumpets and my British mates were missing them). Now, I’d never made them before, but hell, I love me a challenge so off I went to my best friend Google who gave me a Paul Hollywood recipe.

We found most of the ingredients in Sue’s cupboard and subbed in some others and started the batter which was supposed to rest for a couple of hours. So we tested it after a couple of hours and whilst they tasted crumpet-y, they did not have that well known bubble top. So we left it another couple of hours. Still no bubbles. We finished the batter the following morning. Still no bubbles.

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See? Bubbles when in the pan…

We did however, see Hagrid in one of the crumpet tops, so any Harry Potter fiends out there, hit me up for your next Potter pilgrimage location.

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Hallelujah/Hagrid

So I’ve been wondering what went wrong (I blame the French ingredients. Obviously. Never my fault) and this weekend, we had a friend over for brunch so I decided to make them again. On my fancy new cooker.

This time, Jamie Oliver was my go-to recipe (thanks Google, I don’t know what I’d do without you). The batter was supposed to rest for an hour and then you make a call based on the bubbles in it. There were NO bubbles in my batter. Well, some but not crumpet levels of bubbles.

So I left it overnight and there were a few more bubbles in it and I cooked it and there were bubbles in the middle but again, there were no bubbles on top.

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Everyone was terribly polite about them and they looked more like crumpets than my french attempt (and tasted just like crumpets) but I need help, bakers, what am I doing wrong?  I think I’m turning them when they’re too wet, needs to be a low temperature for a long time so it’s basically dry on top and you’re just colouring the bubbles?

(I am very sorry for overusing the word ‘bubble’ and ‘crumpet’ but there are very few synonyms for them).

So no recipe yet, I’ll be remaking them again (third time’s a charm?) and if those actually look like  proper crumpet, I might yet post it. But in the interim, HELP ME GET MY CRUMPETS TO BUBBLE. (thanks)

Here’s a picture of the plate of carbs I served for that brunch. Not all bad. Eclairs and pancakes saved the day (PS remind me to tell you about the first batch of eclairs I made that my mum ruined some other time…)

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Brunches and lunches, 2

Oh my, it’s been over a week since I posted again. Sorry ‘baht that. I’ve been a little emotionally unstable but nothing a lot of cake and a vat of wine won’t fix. Please feel free to send both of those things to me.

I’ve not been at home much over the last 10 days so there hasn’t been a huge amount of cooking done (there have been two occasions of Papa John’s wings though, which was delicious but probably not something to talk about here. But for future reference, if you’ve maybe had too many vats of wine, you should try the plain roasted wings and add your own sriracha – it’s the perfect cure. Washed down with a Tango, obvs).

There has however, been a lot of lovely brunches and lunches on which to report, so I’m going to do that RIGHT now.

First up, lunch at Blixen. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m currently working in an office again and as luck would have it, my office is actual spitting distance from Spitalfields (see what I did there?)

Squid stew, Blixen

Now, I’m very old and I’ve been in London a significantly long time and I remember when Spitalfields did not look like it does now. And whilst I could rant about gentrification taking all the personality out of London (which it has and if you agree, check out the Save Soho campaign which is totally doing the right thing), right now I mostly want to talk about the awesomeness of Blixen, the latest offering from the people behind The Riding House Cafe and Village East. I went the week after it opened, with my darling friend Chris, who works just around the corner. At the time, I was suffering from a gigantic cold and cough and feeling a little sorry for myself (unusual, right?) and so I decided to have a Good Times juice of pear, pineapple and ginger and a warming squid, chorizo and chickpea stew with saffron aioli. Chris had some sort of salad because he’s weird and healthy and was delighted to be sitting across from my snot streaked face. The service was lovely, the stew was the kind of dish that seemed really simple but perfectly balanced and just gorgeous and the decor was understated elegance – loved every bit of it and cannot wait to return (this time to try the cocktails which I’m sure, based on their other restaurants, will be incredible)

Kale salad, blixen

Chris (and his darling husband, Neil) were my brunching partners this weekend too. I ventured south for the first time in years (for those of you outside London, there’s a huge north south divide – the Thames only serves to divide the capital) to meet the boys for brunch. The weekend just gone was the Rugby 7s. I don’t really know what this means and nor is it relevant, apart from to let you know that the Rugby 7s has a theme and this year’s theme was either galactic or out of this world. So I get on the tube in the north-west ‘burbs and half way through my journey, I find myself sitting opposite Pikachu. At about 10am. Which was weird of itself, but shit got weirder at Clapham North, where I made my way to street level to meet the boys and ran into The Avengers. Followed by a couple of unicorns. Followed by human Minecraft characters and then more Avengers and people in shiny all in one bodysuits which left nothing to the imagination and some spacemen. I reckon 95% of the population of South London was in costume. Honestly, this is why I don’t go to south London – it felt like I’d had some sort of acid flashback.

After that confusing start, we wandered down to Brickwood, a newish brunch venue that the boys have been raving about. And rightly so. Again, the boys are both on this health kick so had avocado on (gluten free) toast and bacon so I decided to make them drool by having the brioche french toast with syrup and bacon and orange blossom creme fraiche, all washed down with a couple of the best americanos I’ve ever drunk (and I say that having had Americanos from The Department of Coffee and Social Affairs in Spitalfields, which are also good but they don’t come with brioche french toast. Just sayin’).  FYI, the coffees in the main pic are piccolos from the Dept of Coffee – not americanos, which just aren’t that photo worthy. Whilst I doubt I’ll get back there again soon (flashback still too raw), if you’re in South London and looking for a brunch venue, check it out – worth it.

Brickwood

Other fun meals of note included a trip to Ottolenghi in Islington a few weeks back where I had an amazing broccoli salad with salmon. Doesn’t sound that impressive but tasted AWESOME. And a trip to Maltby Street Market at Ropewalk with the lovely Charlotte where we drank gin at 11am and then had scotch eggs and chocolate brownies from Bad Brownie. And when I say chocolate brownies, I mean a glorious oozing salted caramel brownie and a maple bacon brownie. Those were quite some brownies. I may never recover.

Bad Brownies (good brownies) Scotch Eggs

I did also take a fancy pants trip to Roux at the Landau but that deserves a post all of its very own. I love Michel Roux Jr. Turns out, I don’t love rabbit though. And my mum reminded me of a story about that, but I’ll share that in the Roux post. It’s a goodie.

I am continuing to stuff my face because it’s my most favourite thing to do and I’ll keep you posted on places of note. Would love to hear your Spitalfields/Shoreditch recommendations though – I’m going a bit snow blind from all of the choice around there…

Two months of good times…

After last year, I made a commitment to myself to celebrate the small stuff more and not get bogged down in ‘woe is me’ and it seems to be working.

So here’s all the awesomes that have happened in 2015 and the things I have to look forward to in March…

Starting at the very beginning, the wino and I completed a 1,000 piece jigsaw which we started on New Year’s Eve. Got to admit, I did wonder about what had happened to us (for the last few years we’ve either thrown amazing parties or gone and stayed in beautiful country cottages for the festivities) but staying in, eating nice food, drinking pink champagne and doing a jigsaw with the love of my life was exactly what I needed! And it meant that I could be a good daughter for the first time in about 30 years and take my dad to the temple on New Year’s Day. Oh yeah, already winning at 2015.

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I know I’ve hardly said anything about it at all, but I also went on a fantastic holiday in January. You can read all about it, if you’re so inclined, but what was particularly awesome about that trip, other than it being utterly gorgeous, were the wonderful friends we made whilst sitting by pools and drinking gin.

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I’ve had a lot of fun days out with fabulous friends in London – all day drinking (twice) in Soho (and food obviously – ramen at Bone Daddies, pizza from Pizza Pilgrims, brunch at Balans), lunches in Granary Square (and playing in the fountains obviously), a day out at Borough market, brunch at Riding House Cafe and drinking a lot of gin on one day.

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There’s been a lot of quality family time too – my cousin came over from Canada for a spell to visit his mum. We celebrated his birthday this week at a delicious local Sri Lankan restaurant, which was only mildly ruined by the “Greatest Hits of the 1980s-2000s… on pan pipes” CD they insisted upon playing.

I took my darling niece and nephew on a half term day out which included Big Hero 6, Wagamama and Shaketastic. They are too cute for actual words. And we had neon sugar pancakes on pancake day.

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I have started to build up my work portfolio and feeling confident that I may actually be able to afford to get my hair cut and nails done soon. Because, whilst looking like a crazed mountain woman is fine when you’re working from home in your pyjamas, people in actual offices don’t seem to appreciate the wild eyed insane look. Lord knows why.

I had a midweek daytime trip to Ikea (actually not hell on earth then, if you can do it) and have finally got around to framing some of the prints that have lived in tubes for years and bought some lovely new plant pots and succulents to give me something else to look at whilst I work my day away.

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And coming up in March – I’m hosting a gigantic dinner party, my dear friend turns 40 so most of the rest of the month is celebrating him (not nearly enough time to do him justice, quite frankly), I’ve got a couple of friends coming to stay and I’m looking forward to seeing what else comes up to surprise me.

Life is looking a lovely shade of pink at the moment – there’s been some downs too, but what’s the point in reminding yourself of those? It’s all about onwards and upwards and putting a smile on. And getting a haircut.

What do you have to be grateful for so far this year? And what’s coming up to put a smile on your face? I’d love to hear about it.

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