Recipe: pea pesto for crostini

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For my little rooftop birthday party I made platters with crostini and topping, inspired by What’s Gaby Cooking, and I also made her pea pesto as I thought it was a nice addition to the spread.

It’s delicious on a crostini on it’s own, but also with ricotta or burrata and cured ham. I like that it’s fresh and filling (for a spread) and has a hint of spice to it!

Pea pesto spread, serves 6

Adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking’s recipe.

150 g frozen petit poi, thawed

a handful fresh basil (or mint)

1/2 garlic clove

3 tbsp grated parmesan

1/2 lemon, the juice

1/4 tsp chilli flakes 

salt and pepper

Mix together all of the ingredients in a food processor or using a stick blender, but not too fine as you want a little texture. Season to taste. Serve with crostini. 

Birthday week!

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July’s fourth week started as usual with work, of course, and in the evening lots of prep for a little party the following day. I made a huge batch of crostini and a square chocolate cake.

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The next day I had to go down to The New Forest for work, and when I got back home I quickly assembled the food for the evening on platters, and together with the first guest we carried it all upstairs to the roof terrace.

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We had olives, crisps and dips and lots of crostini and toppings (more on this in a separate post), prosecco and rosé.

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The sun was shining and the night was worm and it was so lovely to catch up with a few of my girl friends before heading off on holiday while also celebrating my birthday a little. I hesitated on organising something this year because the last week before holiday is hectic enough anyway. But I’m glad I did as we had such a lovely evening!

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When I brought out the cake with ‘Happy birthday’ candles the girls first thought I was lighting candles for myself, but no, instead they were for my friend Gaby (her birthday is two days after mine and in the same week) to blow out (although the wind sort of did this for her!).

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When the roof terrace closed we all squeezed into the same lift with food platters and baskets with glasses etc and I couldn’t resist taking a selfie as we giggled all the way down to my floor. Where we finished the party in the living room (which was almost too warm!) drinking a last little glass of rosé.

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The next day the heatwave continued, and got a little worse, so after doing errands in the afternoon I headed up to the rooftop to relax after work.

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Oh, how I love this terrace! The view is incredible despite the taller buildings surrounding it, and on a hot day the breeze and the fresh air (far away from the polluted streets below) is so refreshing.

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As the weather forecast had promised the heatwave culminated on my birthday, with a whopping 38,6 C – the highest temperature in the UK ever (or at least since measuring temperatures in the mid 1800s began). It was not just hot, but also humid and stifling at the same time. I’m a seasoned sun-worshipper and by a beach this temperature is lovely to me, but trying to work from home in a flat where the windows don’t open enough it was less enjoyable. So I took my water bottle filled with ice (that melted in a flash) and my laptop and worked from the roof. There wasn’t much shade to be had midday but it was still much nicer than indoors.

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In the evening I took a taxi south for dinner, and as I was sitting there reading my book and enjoying the air con, the rain started. The sort of rain where the skies literally open and pour out buckets and buckets of water. I’m sure you can imagine the humid afterwards as it evaporated from the scorching streets.

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For dinner I had plenty in advance booked us a table at The River Café, the iconic Italian London restaurant by the river, that I for some reason hadn’t visited yet, although it’s always been high on my list.

So it was a real treat to sit outside in a lovely breeze enjoying champagne and a lovely dinner with my handsome man while the sun was setting on the Thames.

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The following day we treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast before work, and in the evening we drove to the countryside to spend the weekend there.

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On arrival we drank rosé on the deck and I toasted two weeks of holiday starting right then and there!

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For dinner we were served Coronation Chicken, this iconic dish invented for the Queen’s coronation. And although it contains yellow curry powder (which is not a favourite of mine), it was just a hint of it and really enjoyed the creamy chicken with a hint of fruity sweetness.

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The next day we had a lie-in followed by a dip in the pool and in the evening we had steak and chips for dinner.

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On the Sunday we helped out at the village fete, selling tea and cake to visitors. Unfortunately the weather had turned since earlier in the week and it was torrential rain and quite cold for summer, but luckily people came anyway and of course they all wanted tea and cake to warm up!

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After the fete we had pizza for dinner before I caught the train back to London, but I also had time for some doggy cuddles – much needed after the cold downpour!

Monday drinks, pub party and a baby shower!

 

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The third week in July started with drinks! My food blogger colleague and friend Malin, from Malin’s Diner and her friend Jenny were in London for a few days. So on the Monday night we met up for drinks at Rooftop St James’s by Trafalgar Square, to enjoy some mojitos and the lovely view! 

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It was lovely to catch up and chat for a bit, but afterwards I went home to have an early night after a full-on weekend away. 

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On Tuesday I worked as usual and in the evening I made scrambled eggs for supper. I topped them with parmesan and served them with wilted spinach and fried courgette. Super simple but sooo yummy!

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Wednesday I had another night in, but had store-bought mushroom ravioli with fried mushrooms and heaps of parmesan for dinner. A quick supper I eat fairly often when I want real (i.e. not processed or takeaway) but can’t be bothered to cook.

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Thursday was very similar but I made rosti with creme fraîche, lumpfish roe and chopped red onions for supper. Another speedy weeknight favourite.

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On Friday after work I quickly whipped up some cake bases before I went to Earlsfield for a friend’s 30th birthday celebrations.

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It was a fun evening and I was clearly too busy chatting as the only picture I took was this one of my burger. IMG_6356.jpg

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Saturday I woke early (for me) to get the cake ready for my friend Laura’s baby shower. I panicked slightly decorating it and although it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it too it looked quite cute and tasted lovely (always use tried and trusted cake recipes when attempting more advanced decorations, as that way at least you know the cake will taste good!).

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It was a cosy Mummy-to-bee themed brunch in Wimbledon and afterwards we mooched around the shops for a bit before saying goodbye.

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Sunday I had a long awaited LIE-IN and as I didn’t have any plans (that was my plan!) and needed to recharge I stayed in bed reading most of the day. What an utter luxury! In the evening I ordered sushi instead of cooking to really have a full day to myself without any chores or tasks. Heaven!

 

Market Harborough: a seriously good hot chocolate!

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On a grey day earlier this year I insisted on a little trip to Market Harborough when we were nearby for the weekend. We had a little walk around the quaint town, looking in a cookshop (I’m always drawn to those), some clothes shops and did some errands.

After a couple of hours it was tea time and we looked around for a nice local café, but we could only see the big chains which was not very appealing. But then we spotted a nice looking chocolate shop. And they had chairs in the window, and so must be serving something. Maybe hot chocolate?! Which was on my mind anyway since it was a cold and grey day.

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They were almost about to close but let us in anyway. We got to try different types of chocolate and choose which one we wanted for our hot chocolate. I opted for a milk chocolate while by boyfriend chose a darker one.

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We also got to choose a truffle each to go with the hot drink and then we sat down. We got a large cup of warm frothy skimmed milk (it goes better with the chocolate than whole milk they explained) which we added our chocolate buttons to and stirred until they had melted.

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I really liked that we got to do this ourselves (it felt like a lovely little ceremony, much like pouring tea through a tea strainer and adding milk and sugar) as it added to the anticipation of the drink, which (of course) was utterly delicious. Definitely one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had! The crunchy salted caramel truffle I got was lovely too and I can’t wait to come back here and stock up on both chocolate for drinking and some lovely truffles.

Cocoa Amore, 14 The Square, Market Harborough, LE16 7PA

Cinema, nights in and a weekend in the country

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Last week was really nice! On Monday after work we had dinner (steak frites and affogato for me) at Sophie’s Steakhouse before we saw Yesterday at the cinema. It was the perfect summer feel good film! So cute and great music of course, but fairly predictable.

I was supposed to meet up with friends on Tuesday but it got cancelled so instead I had some leftovers from the weekend for dinner and watched Big Little Lies.

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Wednesday I went down to The New Forest for work and had lunch in the sunshine. In the evening I had some more leftovers (so handy) for supper and chilled out with Chicago Med.

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On Thursday I packed for the weekend and caught some sunshine on the roof terrace.

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And on Friday I took the train north to spend the weekend in the countryside. Friday evening we had a cosy dinner and on Saturday there was a big party with people of all ages, games in the garden and a lovely lunch outside! In the evening we had a small dinner and on Sunday we slept in, had a nice breakfast and watched the Wimbledon final (so intense!!).

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We went back to London in the evening. It was a full on weekend but it’s also very restorative to get away from London for a few days and breathe some country air!

 

Recipe: creamy chicken thighs with white wine, tomato and herb d’Provence

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I came up with this easy chicken dish last week when I was making baked aubergine with tomato and mozzarella for supper; something I could have eaten on it’s own with just a side salad, but as my boyfriend prefers aubergine in moderation I also roasted some potatoes, courgette and peppers in the oven and made this chicken dish. My thought were to echo the cheese and tomato elements in the baked aubergine but using cream instead of cheese. It worked really well and I will definitely serve these together in the future too!

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Creamy chicken thighs with white wine, tomato and herb d’Provence, serves 2 

4 chicken thighs (with skin on), washed and trimmed (I like to trim off excess skin and fat) 

butter and oil for frying

50-100 ml dry white wine

400 ml double cream

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp soy sauce

1/4 stock cube chicken

1 tsp herb d’Provence  

salt and pepper

Fry the chicken thighs skin side down on medium-high heat in butter and oil until golden (approx 5 minutes), then fry the other side for the same amount of time. Add salt and pepper. Add the wine and lower the heat to medium-low. Add cream, tomato paste, soy sauce and the stock cube. Let the sauce thicken while stirring with a wooden spoon. Turn the chicken a few times so it cooks evenly. When the chicken is cooked through (test it with a knife), after aprox 5-10 minutes, add the herbs and season to taste. If the sauce gets too thick, add more cream or a splash of wine and adjust the seasoning. 

Girls night, pub dinner and another concert!

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I started last week with a terrible head cold, so apart from work I didn’t do much the first three days of the week. Monday I worked, heated a frozen pizza for dinner (oh, the glamour!) which I ate in bed in front of Chicago Med before going to bed early.

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Tuesday I substituted the pizza for a Shake Shack delivery and on Wednesday I ordered a gyros, but otherwise the days were very similar.

By Thursday I finally felt well enough to leave the house in the evening and met up with my friend Laura for a burger and a catch-up which was SO lovely!

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Friday I did some work errands in the day (coincidentally the weather was lovely!) and in the evening we had dinner (calamari, steaks and fries) at the pub in the beer garden. So nice to sit outside and eat!

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On Saturday we slept in and had eggs and pancetta for breakfast. Then we just chilled and watched some How I Met Your Mother before we got ready to go to yet another Wembley concert.

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We wanted to get there early so as not to miss the bands we wanted to see and the concert started already in the afternoon. We really enjoyed Kaiser Chiefs, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam and of course the main attraction – The Who! Such fun!

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For dinner we got burgers as soon as they opened at 5pm, as everyone in our little group of four either already were, or were about to be, hangry. We had some drinks too and before The Who came on stage two of us got a Belgian waffle with chocolate sauce and ice cream to share. Yum! As the concert ended we left as soon as we good and as it was raining we walked as soon as we could to the tube station. So lucky not to have to queue like we have done in the past.

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Sunday morning I had a lovely lie-in (while somebody else was playing golf), ate cold pizza for breakfast and read on the sofa with a face mask on.  In the afternoon I went food shopping and later I cooked us a nice dinner of baked aubergine with tomato and mozzarella, creamy chicken thighs and roasted vegetables and salad. For pudding we had berries and lightly whipped cream. We also managed to book flights for a little trip in August!