Central London is overflowing with places to eat. Some are great and some are amazing! In the past couple of years, I’ve come across more and more beautiful restaurants complete with gorgeous flower walls, plush velvet seats and white marble tables.
One place that I could simply not get enough of was a little hidden gem I discovered on instagram was Dalloway Terrace. It’s chic outdoor dining but with the feeling of being inside. The restaurant is located on the terrace of the Bloomsbury Hotel – it’s elegantly styled and the feature walls are ordained with the most wonderful flower arrangements that are changed every season.
When I went in May, they had their Spring arrangements with white and cream flowers. Then when I went again in June, they had just put out their Summer arrangement of pink and yellow.
Love healthy, freshly prepared food? Love Asian or fusion food? If the answer’s yes then this is a place to visit when going on a foodie find. Discovering new places to eat has become a new hobby of mine. I love trying out different dishes and cuisines and when I was asked to come along to Buy & Bite’s new opening launch last week I was thrilled!
Spring is here and summer is just around the corner. I’m loving the slightly warmer weather we’ve been experiencing in London this week however I know it’s not going to last. I’m sure there will be forecasted rain by the end of the week or so.
Last week I’ve been keeping myself and the kids busy, especially as it’s still the Easter holidays and I really want to make it the most for the kids. I’ll be off furlough and back at work next month and as I work weekends, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to spend as much quality time with them then so I’m doing my best to now.
WellBox Hampers & Food Gift Boxes
Last week I was contacted by WellBox who wanted me to review one of their most popular food gift boxes. Of course I accepted – anything in the name of food! 🙂 I was kindly sent the Entice hamper to try out and boy was I in for a nice surprise! As I don’t drink alcohol I asked for a non-alcoholic option to review and here’s what I got….
A selection of 11 delicious snacks and sweets
Yep! 11 delicious, tasty, fantastic snacks and sweets. My favourites have to be the dark chocolate orange honeycomb bites – man they’re good! Then it’d have to be the olives (I love olives!) and the crunchy corn snack. The snacking cheese bites are fantastic but they’re definitely strong so if you’re not a big fan of cheese… you’re not going to love them. Just telling you now.
A list of everything that came in my food gift box is below.
Serene Inspirational Affirmation Card
This is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever received in a food hamper. You can sometimes forget about yourself in the midst of things and these little affirmation pick-me-ups seem like just the things you need to read or see.
1 meal donated to a local person in need through our charity partners
Another reason to love these WellBox food gifts hampers is because they are giving back to the community – your local community to be exact. With every box purchased, the company donates a hot meal or meal provision to someone in need from your local area with the help of Barnabus Manchester. You can learn more about this on their website.
It really is a gift that keeps on giving – or at least – gives back. For anyone in need of corporate gifting ideas, this is the one you ought to be adding to your list. After receiving mine, I would be more than ecstatic if my employer sent me a hamper!
Personalised Printed Message from you or your company to the recipient (one message per order)
Alongside a personalised printed message, you should also get a little loyalty card that says to upload a photo of your box on social media, to get a special 20% discount off your next order… that got my attention for sure and of course I uploaded a photo!
There are a few friend and family member’s birthdays coming up so I will be kindly taking up that offer. 🙂
Free UK Delivery to your office, or your team member’s home address
Alongside free delivery which is a no-brainer, you can make also one order and send to multiple addresses. Choose from entering the addresses yourself onto their secure site or you can choose to send an email link to your recipients and they can complete their address directly to cut out the faff.
Review: WellBox Entice Food Hamper
The WellBox Entice hamper has a wonderfully curated selection of sweets and savoury snacks as well as a lovely bottle of something bubbly, whether that’s with or without the alcohol.
It’s definitely a gift box for sharing so I naturally shared mine with the kids. The weather hadn’t been on our side (plus we couldn’t wait any longer) so we decided to have a home picnic and sample all of our delicious snacks and treats!
All the snacks were well packed and the drink came in its own special blow-up bottle case to make sure it didn’t smash during transit. Very thoughtful indeed!
I also got this lovely motivational affirmation card in the WellBox hamper. It was super sweet. I think these affirmation cards would be greatly appreciated if this food gift box was given for employee appreciation as well as for friends and family.
Mighty Fine Honeycomb Bites in Dark Chocolate Orange
Buttermilk Cornish Fudge in Strawberry Bellini
I Love Snacks Mixed Roasted Nuts
I Love Snacks Italian Olives
Serious Baked Snacking Cheese
Nudie Snacks Premium Toasted Coconut Chips
Lovecorn Sharing Pack
With vegan, halal, gluten-free and non-alcoholic options available, there really is a box to suit everyone.
Supporting Small and Local Businesses
WellBox are an events and staff gifting company from Manchester, UK. The charity they work with, Barnabus Manchester is also from the UK. Even though corporate gifting is their main focus, they allow single-box orders so you really can just order the one. If you have friends and family with similar bdays you can order both to be delivered on the same day or schedule for different days. Snazzy or what?!
Whenever I can, I try to make the change and support small and local businesses. It’s nicer and you feel like you’ve actually helped someone else out by investing in their business. I have many friends who have started up their own small businesses and am so proud of them all. Being a small business owner is no mean feat especially during these tricky times of covid.
If the photo of Little Miss above hasn’t already made you take a look at the gift hampers, I would definitely recommend you to check it out. Especially their wellness boxes, you get goodies as well as snacks which is pretty cool and there’s even a curated box for men… perfect for the Father’s Day that’s coming up soon hint hint!
NB. We were kindly sent the Entice hamper box by WellBox to sample in collaboration for a product review on the blog. All photos, words, opinions and content are my own and must not be reused without my consent.
A couple weeks ago I bought these cool silicone bundt cake moulds from Amazon and I can’t get enough of using them. They’re so easy to use and clean – also, two moulds for £13.99 is a bargain! I’ve used them to bake all sorts of cake. I’ve used the swirl one to make coconut and banana cake, marble cake and now I’m using the more traditional-looking Bundt mould (doughnut-ring shape) to make lemon drizzle cake and now, red velvet Bundt cake. Just in time for Mother’s Day too!Initially I was going to make a lemon Bundt cake topped with edible flowers but I’ve missed the delivery for those so I’m opting in for this red beauty instead.
I found out that Bundt cakes are basically the same as standard round cakes. There’s no different in taste – something I used to think was a thing. Their unique doughnut-ring shaped design is pretty much what sets them apart your usual cake so you can use this recipe to make your red velvet cake in a round cake tin, square cake tin, tray bake – whatever you fancy!
Super moist. Super rich. Super yummy!
This rich, red velvet cake is super moist with a velvety texture, thanks to the added buttermilk (more on this later). It’s super-rich but not overly sweet, thanks to high quality cocoa powder and… coffee! More on this secret ingredient later too. And then what makes it super yummy? The deliciously tangy cream cheese frosting that it’s topped off with. If you’re not a fan of cream cheese frosting, no worries because I’ve got you covered with a vanilla buttercream frosting recipe instead. Happy days!
There are LOADS of red velvet cake recipes out there. I’ve been trying out quite a few before learning how to perfect my own version. My ultimate red velvet cake recipe is an adapted version of both RecipeTin Eats and Something Sweet Something Savoury – by selecting bits from each recipe I was able to make something amazing to my taste and liking. Check out the originals below:
The MAGIC ingredients in my red velvet Bundt cake…
This is an absolute MUST. I’ve made red velvet cake before without buttermilk and it’s okay but it’s more on the sponge cake side instead of the unique texture red velvet has. You can buy buttermilk from the supermarket or alternatively, you can make your own buttermilk mix.
A lot of the recipes I see opt for plain flour (all purpose flour) instead of self-raising flour (cake flour). I’ve never been able to make a good red velvet using plain flour. It always seems to comes out really dense. Maybe I need to try it with the baking soda and vinegar combo to get it to fluff-up and rise more. Nevertheless, I like the light and smooth texture I get from using self-raising flour and baking powder so I’ll stick to what I know best on this one.
Food colouring gel or paste NOT liquid
Forever, I’ve been purchasing the little red food colouring gel tubes from the supermarket and kept wondering why my red velvet cake wasn’t as red as the ones we buy from the bakeries and shops. I then came across Sugarflair’s extra red food colouring paste on Amazon and OMG THIS STUFF IS AMAZING! The reviews said you’d only need a small amount and boy they were not wrong. I used 1/2 level teaspoon to get it as red as in my photos. Literally that’s it. I don’t usually make it as red so would use amount 1/4 level teaspoon. I’m sure it’s the same stuff professional bakers use.
PLEASE don’t use liquid. Liquid food colouring works better with liquids or at the most, buttercream frosting. For cakes, you need a paste or gel.
This is not a traditional ingredient and no, it’s not going to make your red velvet cake taste like coffee cake. However if you do add too much, it might make your cake taste more like chocolate cake than anything else. You only need a tiny amount and the reason for adding in coffee is because coffee enhances chocolate. This was something new I learnt from Something Sweet Something Savoury’s recipe.
Because we’re not loading up with cocoa powder in a red velvet cake, the chocolatey taste is just too mild – the coffee really brings it out and gives depth to the flavour. Fine instant coffee will do if you don’t (I don’t!) have expresso powder. I use Nescafe’s Azara americano instant coffee because it’s fine like a powder and mixes easily with a bit of water. It also smells amazing and is actually my favourite instant coffee. 🙂
The Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Recipe
This delicious can’t-stop-won’t-stop-eating-it cake will yield about 8 good slices or 6 very generous slices.
For the cake: 200g self raising flour, sifted 200g light brown sugar or golden caster sugar 100g unsalted butter, softened 100ml whole milk + 2 tsp lemon juice (to make the buttermilk) 2 medium/large eggs 2 tsp baking powder 2 tsp vanilla extract 2 tbsp high quality cocoa powder (I use Green & Blacks organic cocoa powder) 1 tsp fine coffee powder (add with 2 tbsp water) 1/4 tsp of Sugarflair maximum concentrated paste red extra (you can use an alternative red food colouring gel or paste and adjust the measurement accordingly)
For the frosting: 225g icing sugar 100g unsalted butter at room temperature 1 tsp vanilla extract 100g full-fat soft cream cheese (for cream cheese frosting) 40ml whole milk (for vanilla buttercream frosting)
Prep for buttermilk: add milk into a cup and slowly add in the lemon juice as you stir continuously. It will start to feel a little thicker. Leave to stand for at least 5 mins. If your milk has curdled, don’t be afraid, add a little extra milk then before adding into your cake mix strain it through a sieve.
Preheat your oven to 160’C degrees / gas mark 3 / 320’F degrees and lightly grease your cake tin or silicone mould with a little butter or oil and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, soften the butter then add in the sugar. Mix well until everything has combined – it’ll look like soft buttery sugar dough, almost like cookie dough mix.
Beat your eggs separately before slowly pouring it into your sugar-butter mix. Whisk until you see that a smooth consistency has formed with no lumps but be careful to not over-beat if you’re using an electrical whisk.
Add in the ‘wet’ ingredients – vanilla extract, red colouring, coffee (already mixed with the water) and buttermilk, then whisk until it’s just about mixed in.
Add in the ‘dry’ ingredients – sifted flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, and gently fold into the mix until there’s hardly any lumps. try not over-do it with the mixing here otherwise it can make the cake dense. The batter should feel a little heavy – I find it similar to pancake batter.
Pour into your cake tin or mould. If you’re using a silicone mould, place your mould on a baking try first before pouring to ensure the cake bakes evenly and avoids any spillages as the moulds will feel heavy and wobbly.
Place into the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 40-45mins. Use a wooden skewer or small knife to see if the cake has cooked thoroughly, if not, bake for another 5mins and check again.
Once done, remove from the oven and leave aside for 5-10mins. DO NOT take it out of the silicone mould too soon or you’ll risk it breaking and may be hard to remove. For the silicone mould, pull the sides away from the cake first then place a plate over the top and flip over. Gently press the sides and lift the mould off, it should release very easily.
Allow to cool whilst you prepare your frosting. Remember, whilst your cake is still warm you can’t add the frosting unless you like a runny mess on your plate. Allow the cake to cool in the fridge if you want to speed things up.
To make the frosting – add icing sugar to the room-temp butter and mix well until a smooth paste forms. Add in the vanilla extract and EITHER milk for a vanilla buttercream or add the cream cheese for a cream cheese frosting. With the cream cheese, careful not to over-beat as it will result in a runny consistency. Chill in the fridge until 10mins before use.
Remove the cake from the fridge and add your frosting. You can decorate your red velvet with a little crumb topping by pinching some of the cake from the bottom and ta-da! The ultimate red velvet cake.
Making this cake? If you do give my ultimate red velvet cake recipe a go, please tag me in your photos – I want to see! Instagram: @manny.wandering / Twitter: @manny_ngo / Facebook: @thegreenwichmummy
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NB. This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through clicking a link, I may receive a small commission on qualifying transactions (at no cost to you).
This week I have been indulging myself in baking delicious desserts. I’ve gotten a little bored with baking and photographing cakes – too much browns and beiges I wanted to shoot something a little more fun and summery. I was looking back on the blog and came across this old favourite of mine. Well, it’s actually Daddy P’s favourite recipe and it’s been a while since I made it for him. Behold, my deliciously tangy but sweet lemon posset dessert pots!
The lemon posset creme pots tastes like a citrusy creme brûlée and the texture is similar to a rich chocolate pot. It’s velvety smooth and oh so delicious! A word of warning though – this dessert is very sweet so if you are watching the calories or don’t have a sweet tooth, it’s best to avoid this one. Daddy P likes his lemon pots super sweet so I normally use 100g but for the sake of the rest of us, 80g sugar is sweet enough. If you prefer even less sugar, us about 50-60g sugar with the recipe below for a tart lemon taste. That should get you salivating!
Even though this dessert is very sweet, the tangy lemon juice does offset some of that sweetness and creates a refreshing balance. Enjoy it with a black coffee and shortbread (here’s a recipe for both!), or sparkling elderflower and mint for the perfect summer accompaniment.
Lemon Posset Creme Dessert Pots Recipe
This dessert is very quick and easy to make and follows a similar method to making custard. You can also swap the caster sugar for golden caster sugar or light brown sugar. Simply double up the measurements to yield 6 pots.
Time: prep – 5 mins, cooking – 15 mins, chilling – up to 4 hrs Serving: 3 small dessert pots or ramekins
300ml double cream
80g caster sugar (use 60g for less sweetness)
1tsp vanilla extract
x1 lemon (squeezed)
lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
optional – toppings for your pots ie. lemon curd, melted white chocolate or shavings, berry compote or crushed ginger biscuits
Add the double cream, vanilla extract and caster sugar to a saucepan, preferably a heavy-based pan to prevent the cream boiling too fast or burning, and stir continuously on a medium/high heat with a whisk.
When the cream looks starts bubbling from the sides of the pan, take the pan off the heat or reduce to a very low heat.
Whilst stirring, add in the lemon zest and the freshly squeezed lemon juice. You’ll see the cream turning into a thick custard consistency.
Stir briskly a bit more then leave to cool for around 5 mins before pouring or spooning into the tall ramekins or glass pots. If you don’t want to bite into any lemon zest, you could strain the mixture through a sieve as you pour into your pots. This also helps to remove any lumps from your lemon creme.
Place in the fridge to cool for 4 hours (or overnight) then enjoy them alone or accompanied with some shortbread biscuits.
OPTIONAL – you can add toppings to your lemon creme dessert like a dollop of lemon curd or white chocolate, crushed ginger biscuits or even a berry compote for a fruity twist.
If you give this recipe a try, let me know in the comments below. X
This post was first written and published on this blog in May 2015.
I’ve been vegan since around 2005. Since then I’ve eaten out many times, and it has become easier and easier. In London, you can now get a vegan version of almost anything. Here are a few take- home tips for uninitiated:
Vegan meal delivery services and ready meals
When our Baby was first born, we became experts in opening organic tins to eat. It’s surprisingly tasty when you’re hungry, and we’ve carried on buying them. (It’s best to avoid sugar and salt, but, well, sometimes we can’t be bothered). You can find some such items on offer at: Ethical Superstore, TheVeganKind or Greenbay. You can also order a bundle of easy vegan meals to freeze from allplantsor The Book Plant Based Kitchen.
How to tell a takeaway you are vegan
There is no need to feel embarrassed about expressing your preferences, so long as you are polite about it, the staff will generally be happy to help. If not, then there are plenty of other choices to try out there! Some places also let you filter their menu by allergens, which makes life much easier. Even if they do, write a note in the comment box at the end of the order form and add your own number. Or better still, phone. Either check the website for the number. On ‘Just Eat’ you can find the phone number of the place by clicking the bit of the page which says ‘click if you have an allergy’.
Non-vegan ingredients to check for on menus
Ask if meals are cooked in butter or ghee, contain yoghurt, cream, cheese or paneer. Eggs don’t usually show up unexpectedly, but check to be sure. Where dishes include oyster sauce, you can just ask for this to be removed. Obviously, also avoid meat and fish.
How vegan dishes are labelled on menus
Generally speaking, ‘V’ on a menu means vegetarian (no meat or fish). ‘V+’ or ‘VE’ tends to mean vegan (no dairy, eggs or honey), and ‘GF’ means gluten free. Not everyone is clear that gluten free and vegan are different concepts. The menu might only label things as vegetarian, in which case ask for clarification.
South Indian restaurants are great for vegans. We found one in Plumstead a while ago. Other Indian, Nepalese, Carribean and Ethiopiean places often have vegan options, just avoid cream and butter (such as in tikka masala, korma, or often with spinach). We once went to an Indian restaurant which said they cooked everything in butter, but this is rare. Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai places tend to be fine if you order tofu and avoid oyster sauce. Nowadays, many pizzerias offer a vegan cheese option if you ask.
Remember the sprinkles!
Us vegans often sprinkle extra nutrients on our meals, such as: nutritional yeast, ground flax and sauerkraut.
Vegan home deliveries near Greenwich:
Hullabaloo – vegetarian, with branches in Greenwich and Deptford
Vegan masala or korma made with coconut and cashew milk is lovely and mild for little ones. These are not usually vegan! You can also try black bean lentil dal, soya chunks with aachari, or vegan ‘butter’ naan bread, as well as the usual Indian takeaway favourites.
This was the last cafe we visited before I became pregnant. I later returned with Baby when they were about one year old. We finished off a chai tea and a meal while waiting for my friend, so ordered another when she arrived. Baby was very enthusiastic. I remember the staff as friendly, there was nice music, and you could watch passers by through the window. You can find them on Uber Eats or Just Eat.
We’ve stopped off here a couple of times for a healthy curry, salad (with fruit) and turmeric latte. The cafe is part of a day spa, with a philosophy based in ancient Indian medicine. It has high chairs and baby changing facilities. Staff kindly ignored me when I borrowed a shower in the toilet to wash baby sick out of my hair… You can find them on Deliveroo.
Eat of Eden – vegan, branches in Lewisham, Brixton, Clapham and Shepherds Bush
Organic Carribean mixed platters with plenty of vegetables, proteins and also finger foods. The Brixton branch of which has nappy changing facilities and step- free access for buggies. Find Eat of Eden on Just Eat
Burgers, chips and other pub grub to try if you are missing meaty junk. Find them on Deliveroo
Vegan sauces and cheeses
You can order vegan sauces and ferments from Walworth based The Omni Collective. Artisanal vegan cheeses are cycled for free to local postcodes by Peckham based The Odds.
Persepolis – vegetarian, in Peckham but delivers to Deptford
Middle Eastern gooey things to dip chips into. Select the ‘make vegan’ tick box option. We went to Persepolis for my 30th birthday. There were highchairs, a children’s menu, and little meze meals to order and share. Many meals were decorated with a vertical cheesy wotsit. Daddy decided not to propose that day because I had a cold.
This contribution post was written by guest writer, Helen Long from Vegan Family Guide – your partner in compassionate, plant powered parenting.
Bring sunshine into your kitchen this November with flavours from Morocco and Sicily!
For a limited time only, meal box delivery company, Mindful Chef has partnered up with Naturally Fast Food chain, LEON to provide you with an enjoyable restaurant experience at home with two exclusive recipes. These limited edition recipes will be available on the Mindful Chef website from November 8th to 21st -all you’ll need to do is order your box by November 17th..
Naturally Fast Food at home with Mindful Chef x LEON
You’ll be rolling meatballs, simmering sauces and slicing the ‘slaw in no time with these two new recipes. As always, your box will contain all of the pre-measured ingredients in your limited edition box PLUS you will also receive a jar of the iconic LEON’s vegan garlic aioli (per recipe) which you can serve on the side of your delicious LEON lunch. The two recipes you can choose from are Moroccan Meatballs and Sicilian-Style Meatless Meatballs.
What’s the hype about food boxes?
Working from home can be stressful and figuring out what to cook for your next meal can even be more challenging. This is why many people have taken a liking to food delivery boxes such as Mindful Chef, Gousto and Hello Fresh. The Mindful Chef x LEON boxes are delivered directly to your door which saves time, money, packaging and food wastage. The portion sizes are expertly measured out for you so you don’t have fiddle around with measuring spoons, jugs etc. Simply sit back, cook as per instructions (which are easy to follow!) and enjoy.
“Make LEON’s juicy Moroccan Meatballs at home, featuring grass-fed beef and their unique spice blend! Serve with a fresh tomato sauce, crunchy red cabbage and kale slaw and a dollop of LEON’s iconic aioli.“
NEW: LEON Sicilian-style Meatless Meatballs recipe
“Recreate LEON’s Sicilian-style Meatless Meatballs at home, starring beluga lentils, aubergine, black olives and lemon zest. Spoon over fluffy brown rice, top with a luscious tomato sauce and enjoy with a dollop of LEON’s iconic vegan aioli.“
NB. This post contains affiliate links. If you do click on the links and make place an order, I may receive a small commission on qualifying transactions. Photo Credit: LEON – all photos should be credited to LEON respectively.
We’re not going to let lockdown take away our summer completely are we?! With the sun shining away this week, why not get into the kitchen and cook up a mean treat for your family at home this summer. There’s no need to go away just yet and a summer party or mini-BBQ at home might be the best way to go. If you have a slightly bigger space and are seeing people in your social bubbles, you could even try to organise a mini-festival!
I took the kids to visit a friend in our social bubble this week and she has a massive outdoor communal garden where we were able to create a mini-retreat space for the kids. We had a pool so the kids could take a dip when it got too hot, a healthy picnic lunch, games for the kids to play and we ended the evening with kids yoga. It was an awesome day and we all had an amazing time!
How to throw a sizzlin’ summer party…
Depending on how much effort you want to put in, you can still throw a decent party by doing the following:
setting the scene
save time by preparing easy to make food
get the music and drinks flowing
get out the party games
take photos to remember the day
Setting the scene: have a party theme
If you’re stuck for inspiration or your Google search is not you any justice, I’d highly suggest checking out Pinterest. It’s an amazing media platform where you’d find photos for absolutely anything. I usually like to do a brief search on Google before heading over to Pinterest to find examples of what my theme/concept is. There’s usually many variations and interpretations of “summer party idea” so try to be as specific as you can ie. ‘summer tropical party idea’ or ‘vintage summer party idea’.
If you’re also going to be hosting for friends and family in your social bubbles, it might be easier to use disposable party-ware but forget all the plastic stuff. Party-ware has officially stepped up their game with recyclable, compostable and biodegradable disposables so it’s more friendly to the environment.
Swap your plates, cutlery and straws for these beauties. They look so pretty too! I’ve found a whole range on Party Delights and Amazon offers both square and round plates.
I’ve got my eye on a super-cute children’s 6pc bamboo set on Amazon- they’re easy to wash and nicer to use than plastic tableware which we have quite a few of now.. no more breaks and chips woop woop!
Save time by preparing easy to make food
As much as I love to cook, I actually hate preparing food for a party. I find it’s too time consuming and so much planning need to go into it. I’d simply rather buy something already made well than trying to DIY for the first time, or get a caterer in. However, there are a few simple dishes that I love making for a party which don’t require too much time, I’ll have to upload my own recipes for some of these but here’s my list of easy-to-make dishes:
Need more recipe inspiration? Tesco have 10 quick BBQ recipes that are simple and easy to follow. They look super tasty too!
Get the music + drinks flowing
No party is a party without music. The easiest way is to connect your phone or electronic device to the speakers and you’ve got your own sound system. You can also play music straight from your TV if the speakers are loud enough. We have our own mini speaker that’s mega-powerful for its tiny size. Forget all those big name brands, the name you need to know is ANKER. My friend told me about this brand and I’ve not looked back since. I got my SoundCore bluetooth speaker for a third of the price I would’ve paid for a Sony speaker. Simply connect it to bluetooth on your phone and that’s it – music! On my phone I use Spotify and another music app to play YouTube videos so I can use my phone whilst the music plays.
Having a variety of drinks at your party is a good idea. We’re not drinkers in our house so I’m not sure what is the best one to choose but from what others have told me, summer alcoholic beverages are a treat, such as PIMMS, strawberry daiquiri cocktails, rum punch, sangria, and prosecco. Binary Botanical offer a range of gluten-free, vegan beers
If you’re T-Total like us, then these drinks might quench your thirst:
Alcohol-free alcohol – Kopparberg do an alcohol-free cider, Shloer is another great supermarket name and alternative to wine, Seedlip offer a premium range of alc-free botanical gins. For mocktail lovers, try Sipling cocktails which are alc-free and Outfox for a range of non-alc wines
lemonade and ginger beer are summer party staples – I love the shop bought stuff but if you want to get more involved, try making your own homemade version
summer fruit smoothies – The Honestly Good Smoothie Co. for ready-to-blend smoothie bags help cuts down prep time and saves on wastage
naturally spiced soft drinks – with choices like tamarind, ginger and sorrel, Carisips have got you sorted
Get out the party games
Party games are fun for everyone. Best children’s games include giant ring toss, giant snakes and ladders or connect-4. You can usually purchase these from Argos. Other kids games that only need a few or no props include:
team races – eg. relay race, egg and spoon race, sack race
hide & seek
who am I (using post-its or sticky labels)
We nabbed a cheap plastic kids bowling set for £5 from a cheap store. If you want games that won’t cost a penny, Thifty Parent and Buzz Feed have a decent list of games you can play.
Take photos to remember the day
Take photos of the day to remember either on your phone, tablet or electronic device. Snapfish (10cm x 13cm) and SuperSnaps (6.7cm x 7.7cm) offer retro square prints that have that cool, polaroid picture effect to make your day really memorable. I’m still torn on getting an INSTAX square camera for Little Man’s birthday but that’s an extra splurge I don’t think I want to get into.
We’re currently low on rice and pasta at home right now. With no car to drive to the bigger supermarkets and our little Sainsburys Local and nearby Iceland has a long waiting queue that seems never-ending. A big shop is due soon and I managed to get a delivery slot one evening next week so hopefully that’ll tie us over for another month. I really try to not use the delivery service to let others and more vulnerable get a chance to order delivery but sometimes these little journeys to the local shops cause us to pay much more as they’re premium prices.
Homemade vegetarian burgers
We have a big bag of uncooked chickpeas that I’ve been wanting to tackle but couldn’t be bothered to… until now. We didn’t have all of the ingredients needed to make a curry so I had to re-think about what else we could make. Then I had the idea of making chickpea burgers! Why I never thought of it before who knows but I’m glad I came to my senses. Uncooked chickpeas need to be soaked in water overnight before they’re ready to use so make sure you do this too. Fill water to fully submerge the chickpeas and by the next day they’ll be softer. Boil them until they’re firm but soft enough to squish with your thumb and forefinger.
We had leftover buns from when we had Linda McCartney mozzarella burgers the day before. I can also make a really nice sweet and tangy fried onion garnish so thought that’ll do. I looked up chickpea burger recipes and went for the first link I saw which happened to be a recipe from BBC Good Food for chickpea & coriander burgers.
I knew I’d need eggs (which we had) but didn’t know what else to add to make the burgers. We didn’t have coriander or breadcrumbs but the burgers still came out amazing. Also we ran out of cumin so I subbed that with garam masala (has a similar warming taste to cumin), turmeric, ginger and smoked paprika. If you don’t have any of these then you can make do with salt, pepper and garlic, puree or fresh clove is fine (which I’d forgot to add but it was still delicious without).
How to make your deliciously simple chickpea burgers
This recipe is suitable for vegetarians however to make it vegan friendly, swap out the egg for a substitute, chia seed or flaxseed water creates a similar eggy-consistency which might work well.
When I made this the other day I kind of eye-balled the chickpea and water measurements so use your own judgement. The recipe in BBC Good Food called for more lemon juice and lemon zest but I found just 1/4 lemon juice was enough – this was fresh squeezed, not the bottle kind. I used garam masala which has a slightly more ‘curry flavour’ taste than cumin, try both and see which you prefer.
You should be able to make around 2-4 good-sized burger patties (6 at a stretch) with this recipe. If there’s only two of you, you could make four chickpea burgers and stack up them up.
Choosing your bun
Choosing a bun really sets the foundation of how your burger will turn out, especially if you like to toast them (we do!)… our favourite is toasted brioche buns because they’re light, fluffy and taste buttery but it is loaded with fat and calories so not great if you’re looking for a healthier option. Here are a few bun choices you can choose from…
brioche bun (our favourite!)
white morning roll
roti or flatbread (healthier option!)
Adding your toppings & condiments
You can go wild with what you decide to top your burger with. There’s tons of condiments out there and who’s to say you can’t even make up your own version? We love our own version of pico de gallo which we make really simple with just tomatoes, onions and balsamic vinegar. Here are a few suggestions in case you can’t decide…
cheese or vegan cheese
bistro salad mix
pickles or gherkins
pickled vegetables (daikon, carrot, radish)
fresh sliced onions
homemade salsa or pico de gallo (fresh, chunkier version)
mayo or vegan mayo
sriracha hot sauce
We didn’t have a lot of ingredients at home so we had to keep it simple. Trying this recipe again, I’ll add in spinach, perhaps a few sliced gherkins or pickled vegetables to add more crunch and tang or go for a little pico de gallo instead. We ate our burgers with homemade potato wedges drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Yummy!
Without further ado, here’s the recipe…
Easy Chickpea Burgers Recipe
Serves: 2-4 people Prep time: 20mins (minus pre-soaking and boiling of uncooked chickpeas) Cooking time: 20mins
Patty mix: 500g chickpeas, pre-soaked and boiled from uncooked (drained, if from can) 1/4 lemon juice 1 clove garlic, crushed 1 tsp ground turmeric 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 1/2 tsp garam masala or ground cumin 1/2 tsp ground ginger Pinch of black pepper Pinch of Aromat seasoning (use salt if you don’t have it) 1 medium egg 1/2 medium onion, chopped and diced 2 tbsp oil for frying
50ml water (have 10-20ml extra in case your burger is too dry/crumbly) 4 morning rolls (or any buns of your choice)
Add into a food processor or blender (I used my nutri-bullet) the chickpeas, egg (or egg substitute for vegan option), all dry seasonings, garlic, lemon juice and 50ml water.
Blitz on medium power or until the texture is smooth but a little chunky for texture. If it’s very smooth, don’t worry as the next step will add some texture to the patty.
Transfer the contents into a mixing bowl and add the chopped onions. If the patty mix looks too thick and crumbly add in a little water and stir or mix with your hand. Make sure you don’t add too much water as the patty needs to hold its shape when frying.
Turn on the cooker to a medium heat (number 3 or 4 on electric cookers) and add the oil to your pan. Take a small handful of the mix and roll into a ball. Flatten it into a patty/burger shape around 1cm to 1.5cm thick. I wouldn’t advise on patties thicker than 2cm.
Place gently into the hot pan and fry for about 3-4mins or until golden (golden brown if you like crispy bits) then turn over and fry on the other side.
Take off the heat and place on your bun.
Add your favourite toppings – we topped ours with a really simple pico de gallo style dressing, mayo and cheese for Daddy P and cheesy sautéed mushrooms for me.
Sit back and enjoy! You can team your burger with a side salad, homemade coleslaw, wedges (like us!) or chunky chips.
It’s been sooooooooo long since my last giveaway that I can’t even remember what it was! Pancake Day is coming up and to be honest I was supposed to have hosted this giveaway a little while ago (in Jan!) but I’ve got my butt back on track and it’s finally live!
With Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday (Feb 25) fast approaching, it’s time to get back into the kitchen and start cooking or baking! For Christians, Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent, traditionally a period of abstinence, associated with clearing your cupboards of goods such as sugar, fats and eggs. Traditionally, pancakes were eaten on this day to use up these foods before the 40-day fasting season of Lent began.
You can find a link to my healthy pancakes recipe here if you’re a little stuck on inspiration. The crepe maker from AO.com was super easy to use and 1-2 spritz of oil goes a long way. I’ve always loved cooking and baking but recently I’ve been very lazy. There’s more recipes you can find here on the blog and this year I’m going to make it one of my goals to add more to it. I think I’m going to try making savoury pancakes this year so make sure you come back to see what I get up to.. of course, the recipe will also be up on the blog. 🙂
Not a big fan of pancakes? No problem, you can always make something else using the same set of ingredients if you want to keep it traditional. You could try making a crepe (French pancake) which is similar to a pancake but is thinner and a little more crispy – it can be served with savoury or sweet toppings.
Healthy hearty Shakshuka / Photo: Unsplash
Banh Xeo – Vietnamese savoury pancakes (egg and gluten free!)
Chocolate protein pancakes
Tasty omelettes / Photo: Unsplash
Crepes; thinner and lighter pancakes / Photo: Unsplash
For other alternatives you could even opt for omelettes or eggy bread (French toast). There’s a neat little recipe in the Kitchen Capers cookbook for the latter. 🙂 For those wanting something a little more healthy with a few more ingredients, try a shukshuka. There’s actually a simple recipe for this in the cookbook too! The word shakshuka comes from Arabic, meaning, “a haphazard mixture” or “all mixed up.”
If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can try egg-free pancakes and crepes by using substitutes like flaxseed or chia seed and water which you’ll leave overnight to create that eggy texture. I found this recipe for fluffy vegan pancakes on Tasty.co, check it out! If you prefer savoury, try Vietnamese savoury pancakes, known as banh xeo – they’re eggless and gluten free as the batter is made from rice flour, a little bit of corn flour, tumeric, salt and water. It’s absolutely delish! I can’t believe I haven’t uploaded a recipe on here! I’ll do that soon along with the savoury English pancakes.
WIN! Kitchen Capers cookbook by David Banks
Kitchen Capers is a funny little cookbook filled with lots of tasty recipes made simple. It’s great for people who don’t want to faff around with complex jargon and boring text. Every recipe is laid out in comic strips which are nice to look at and good to have a little giggle. The kids and I certainly did at some of the comic strips!
(V) this coconut curry contains fish which you can omit for a full vegetarian dish
So in The Greenwich Mummy’s household, Daddy P recently decided to stop eating meat products, adopting a pescetarian diet. I, however, still enjoy my meat products on top of our new food diet. The popular new label for people like me is ‘flexitarian’ – someone who is semi-vegetarian and enjoys vegetarian meals but still consumes all animal, fish, egg and dairy products.
Being Vietnamese, I love my meat dishes but we also have a lot of healthy vegetarian dishes too which is a nice balance. Our little family have been on this pescetarian diet for about 4 months now and the transition has been really smooth. The kids don’t mind it and Daddy P has done really well considering he was the biggest meat-eater out of all of us. He hasn’t missed eating meat at all! I guess because we’re still eating fish, shellfish, egg and dairy products we’ve still got a wide variety of protein sources in our diet so it’s not too noticeable. Some may even say cutting out red meat is a healthy thing to do.
A curry is a great dish to enjoy any time of the year, similar to soups, but I especially love it in the winter and the summer. Winter because you can have a mean hearty curry to get you through the cold nights. Summer is a great time for curries because you can make it taste as light and as fresh as you like.
I originally wanted to make a haddock and butternut squash cashew curry but my local Sainsbury’s had run out of butternut squash so I bought some sweet potato instead and came up with this recipe. It tasted fantastic! I’m afraid my photos don’t do this dish any justice so you’ll have to just take my word for it. 🙂 It tastes like a cross between a Thai curry and a creamy fish dish. If you like your curry with heat, add in some chilli flakes but I preferred mine mild so made it without any spices.
Haddock, sweet potato and vegetable coconut curry recipe
2-3 haddock fillets (leave this out to make it a vegetarian/vegan dish)
3-4 whole carrots, sliced
a handful of green beans (frozen or fresh)
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, sliced or diced
1 vegetable stock cube
2 tsp mild curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1-2 tbsp sunflower oil for frying
200ml coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
On a medium heat, add the oil to the pan and fry onions until soft then add the sweet potatoes and fry for a further 7mins until soft but firm inside.
Add the dry seasoning (curry powder, garam masala, cumin, salt and pepper) then add the veggie stock cube to 100ml water and pour into the pan. Let everything simmer for about 15mins.
Add in the fish, veg and coconut milk and simmer for a further 7-10mins or until the fish is cooked and falling apart (flaky looking).
Last week I went along to my local IKEA store for a foodie workshop event called “Waste Not, Want Not”. It was hosted by the lovely Melissa Hemsley from Hemsley + Hemsley and was about making the most with leftover food and learning how to not throw anything away.
We were ushered into the sleek kitchen showroom by Maria from IKEA Greenwich who ticked us off the registration list as we entered. Melissa poured us all a glass of water, sparkling lemon or lingonberry mixed cordial. We were then told that we were going to receive Melissa’s latest cookbook, Eat Happy as a gift which was a wonderful surprise.
IKEA X Melissa Hemsley workshop
Melissa then introduced herself to us and talked about her love for cooking and how she lives by the “waste not, want not” motto which was the take-home message of this workshop. Growing up with strong Filipino traditions and culture, she explained to us that her mother made sure she never wasted food. I think it must be an Asian thing as I always remember my parents saying the same thing to me when I was young and as a result, I too rarely waste food. I always had to finish my bowl of food and was never allowed to throw it away… or else there’d be trouble.
The workshop was supposed to include a live cooking demo of her delicious banana bread bake but because of some technical issues, it didn’t happen so instead we got lots of tips and advice from Melissa on how to build a ‘waste not, want not food bowl’ from unwanted bits and bobs sitting in the fridge (there’s also a recipe for this in the Eat Happy cookbook).
Food glorious food
She constructed a simple, beautifully presented bowl filled with chickpeas, boiled eggs, radishes, green beans, a leafy salad and feta cheese – all topped off with a light dressing. I love healthy food bowls but never really knew how to construct it properly so seeing it done was very helpful. We all chatted about food and how some foods can have so many ways of cooking it or eating it. For example when eating an orange, instead of throwing the rind away, zest it and use the shavings to infuse sugar or add it to another dish. Alternatively you can even save the rind and use it as pot pourri.
During our chat, Melissa pointed out the delicious cake that caught everyone’s attention; the banana and apple bread bake! She posted up the recipe on her instagram page @melissa.hemsley the following day and I was keen to give it a try. It smelled so so divine at the workshop, I knew I had to get back to baking.
The banana bread bake came out so soft and fluffy. I don’t know if that’s how soft it’s supposed to be but I love it like that. Occasionally, a heavier banana bread hits the spot but this evening a lighter version was perfect. I decided to make mine a little different and changed the recipe slightly – simply because I didn’t have all the ingredients at home so just made it up as I went along which turned out great!
RECIPE: Banana and apple bread bake
Here’s my adapted version of Melissa’s banana and apple bread bake. To make this yummy dish vegan-friendly, simply swap out the eggs for a chia or flax seed mix, or another egg substitute. To make it gluten-free Melissa suggested quinoa or buckwheat flakes. If you’re allergic to nuts, use only coconut flour if you’re okay with coconuts otherwise you can try it with another flour ie. polenta or millet.
3 ripe medium-sized bananas
1 apple; 3/4 grated for the bake and 1/4 sliced for decoration
50g ground almonds
25g coconut flour
100g rolled oats
4 medium eggs (for a vegan alternative, swap for soaked chia seeds or egg substitute)
150g coconut oil
1tsp baking powder
1tsp allspice seasoning
1tbs brown sugar
Preheat oven to 180C/350F or gas mark 4
Add all ingredients (apart from the bananas and apple) together in a blender and blitz until smooth
Add in banana and apple and blitz further to your desired consistency (with or without lumps)
Pour into a lined loaf tin and add the decoration apple slices
Bake on the middle shelf for 50 minutes
Do the knife test to ensure the bread bake has thoroughly cooked inside then leave on rack to cool
There’s so many different ways to recreate this banana bread and that’s the real beauty of it. I’m thinking of adding in chocolate chips or orange rind next time too to spice it up a little bit more. If you give this banana bread bake recipe a try, let me know how you get on with it! 🙂