Monday, 24 August 2009

Martha Mondays - Chicken with Plums

Brette was kind enough to email me the recipe for this week's challenge as the September issue hasn't arrived in the UK yet.

It looked quite good from the recipe and I was pleased to get rid of another pound of plums (we have been eating victoria plums for the last few weeks and they are beginning to get on my nerves!)

We don't like honey in our house, and never have it in the cupboard. I adapted the recipe and used brown sugar instead.

I had eaten one of the plums when I was chopping them up and they were nice and sweet. But when we plated up the dinner, the plums seemed to be more 'tart' which I thought strange considering the addition of butter and brown sugar.

The consensus was that we didn't like the plums. We ate the chicken with rice and runner beans and it was fine.

I am intrigued to find out what everyone else thought and as I haven't seen a photo I can only assume that I did it right until the magazine arrives.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Kew Gardens

I am lucky to have Kew Gardens just over a mile from where I live, but I find that I hold visits for treats. I think if I went too many times it just wouldn't be special.

Mum and I had a free ticket last night so went along (it was an evening event from 6.30pm). We both loved it, as we hadn't been for a couple of years we strolled around the gardens and did the new treetop walk whilst other visitors sat on the park benches with picnic and enjoyed the cooler weather after a week of very hot, sunny days.

Below are some of the photos that I took on my phone camera. If you are ever in the area or travelling to London on holiday I would urge you to visit. It really is wonderful.

Huge urns with petunias were set around the pound in front of the Palm House:

The Temperate House (in the summer they hold concerts in front of the glasshouse, they are always finished with huge fireworks):

The Japanese Gateway:

The famous pagoda:

Friday, 21 August 2009

William Curley Cakes

A few weeks ago was my second anniversary of working at the company I work for. It is especially important as it marks a large change that I made in my life and the beginning of a close friendship.

Jackie and I started work on the same day. We sat in the same office for the first week and have been very good friends ever since.

We wanted to mark our anniversary in a special way. For months we have been gazing into William Curley’s shop on our way to the sandwich shop. The cakes always look amazing and we decided that we would treat ourselves.

These treats were not cheap – at £4.50 each I was expecting perfection, and would have been very tempted to march back in for a refund had they not been good.

However I just want to go back in for more! The cakes were fantastic; we chose a Passion fruit and Mango Entremet and a Black Forest cake. They were lovingly packaged up and after dinner we ate them. First slicing them in half, then admiring them and then devouring them. I ate the passion fruit one first and it was the nicest thing I have ever tried, the mousse was wonderful, the cake at the bottom was soft and just perfect. The Black Forest had just the right amount of alcohol and was rich from such lovely chocolate.

In the box – they had been glued on the bottom of the box to stop them sliding around
(the photo isn’t great because I used my phone camera)

I will be going back for Christmas presents (they sell a range of chocolates, hot chocolate kits and biscuits) and for the odd treat now and then. In fact I am wondering how tempted my mum will be to try these or some of the others (below). Surely another visit this weekend wouldn’t be wrong!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Martha Mondays - Grilled Vanilla Peaches

This is the first Martha Monday and I was excited. Grilled vanilla peaches looked wonderful from the magazine and I like peaches (and ice cream) so it was a winning recipe from the beginning.

There was just one problem - grilling in England is broiling in America. It isn't warm enough to use the barbecue over here, and I wasn't about to get it out from the shed, set it up just for some peaches. Sorry Martha (and Lucinda), but I adapted this recipe!

These were fine. I had the basic ingredients and the supermarket had peaches. They also had vanilla extract which I had run out of - at £4 a bottle its not cheap.

This was also fine. I halved the recipe as it served eight and there are only three of us so I did four peaches. I found it a bit messy cutting the peaches and stoning them when they had been peeled.

As I didn't have the barbecue out I figured that I would grill (broil them). They were due to take 15 minutes on a hot barbecue. I had the grill on hot, but after 25 minutes they still weren't done. By this stage I was hot, and ready for my ice cream.

I threw them on the griddle instead. They bubbled up nicely, the liquid turned more syrupy and I spooned them on to the ice cream.

Mum, dad and I all liked them. They were tasty and I could certainly taste the vanilla. They were really quite good. If the weather in London heats up enough I will haul the barbecue out and do them properly.

I was pleased with the first of the Martha Monday challenges.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Martha Mondays

Brette over at Martha & Me has created ' Martha Mondays '.

The idea is to do a craft or recipe every Monday as a group and then blog about it. As Monday's for me are busy I plan to do my task on a Sunday when I have more time and then blog about it on Monday.

The first task is Grilled Vanilla Peaches from the August Living magazine. As I only received the magazine on Wednesday I have yet to cook anything from it - the chicken salad with tomatoes and cucumber and the butterbeans are on the menu for this weekend.

Results to follow next week.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Look What I Bought

Mum and I had a relaxing time looking around Westfields (my favourite shopping centre). It is so airy and free of people if you arrive early (we were there for 9am).

Here's what I bought:

A quick trip into Topshop revealed nothing great - and everything on sale was in very small sizes (enough to make me turn on my heel and run) but we kept going and upstairs was this lovely top. They also had it in cream and navy but orange worked best.

New Look has the most comfortable shoes. I get through flat pumps very quickly and this shop helps me to be able to continual buy more. The Purple shoes were £16 and the Zebra print £20.

Gorgeous Mark Jacobs Perfume. I previously wore Daisy but ran out. I love 'Mark Jacobs' before I loved 'Daisy' and feel that the original is more classic. I love it!

Of course shopping would not have been complete without lunch - and we ventured on to the South Terrace for lunch at Kitchen Italia. This was our first time trying this restaurant and we both liked it. The large wooden benches were comfortable and in the middle were bottles of different olive oils (extra virgin, lemon, basil, rosemary), a basil plant ready for picking and a cheese grater. The food was fresh and quick.

We started with garlic pizza which was thin and crispy, well seasoned and came on the most beautiful olive board ready for cutting. I then had gnocchi with peas, rocket and gorgonzola which was wonderful (but very filling as gnocchi always is!) and mum had the tomato spaghetti. We were too full to even look at the dessert menu!