Friday, March 30, 2012

Addicted to the Internet? Part One

Image: The Plant Journal Volume 1

Things. So many things.

Who wants to know what I'm lusting over? It's mostly homeware-y tid bits.

My friend Alice and I are weirdly into ferns. Alice is obsessed with the Maiden Hair, and here it is, in vase form. (Koskela at Kitchen by Mike in Rosebery sells these). If you're also weirdly into plant life, you should probably pick up a copy of The Plant Journal magazine - which got me wanting one of those Staghorn ferns that were stuck on the exposed brick walls of EVERYWHERE in the 90s.

I also just think these burger coasters are funny. Kitsch, perhaps, but funny.

Typography scrabble! Get outta town, this is the best.

Some ace lace from Araks which is making me want to throw out my entire intimates drawer and start over as a lady.

I had pink hair for a weekend and now I want ALL THE COLOURS. They've been lying the whole time, blondes don't have more fun, pink haired girls do.

I want to buy my boyfriend this watch but we're out of money, in an edgy way (?)

Ps. I'll be back with a recipe for you this weekend, it has CHEESE in it. Oooh yehhh.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ring Ring

We counted three different vases of blooms on each table at the wedding we went to last night, it smelt like The Secret Garden.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Roasted Plums with Red Wine, Honey & Cinnamon

I've been smacking you over and over again with fruit-based recipes lately, but there's no remorse at my end as we're at that time of year when the good weather fades away into something much more bleak. So, my pretties, we must salvage what we can before the inevitable next season is upon us, as sad as it is to see Summer shove off.

To ease us into Autumn I have the easiest recipe ever. It's MULLED WINE IN SOLID FORM! No joke. It's quite tart, and there is a subtle spice cosied up in there, and honey! I forgot to mention the honey, which is lovely. Dark brown sugar is better than white sugar on most occasions, so don't skimp, especially if your plums are a little under-ripe. 

Spoon this over your pancakes, your granola, your porridge or your vanilla ice cream. I blended up half this batch with a cup of heavy cream and half a cup of honey yogurt and churned it in the ice cream machine (which subsequently died, R.I.P) and it was a stunner.

This recipe is a little off the cuff, but in the best kind of way. Adapt it any way you fancy with different spices.

Take about 6-7 plums, blood plums or the usual kind, quarter them, leaving the skins on. Place in a baking tray with two heaped spoonfuls of dark brown sugar, around 2/3 cup red wine, a shake of cinnamon (and a halved and scraped vanilla bean if you have it), a good squeeze of honey to your taste and then give it a stir around to combine. Whack in a 180 degree oven for around 30 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the plums are soft. If you like, remove the plums from the liquid after you have baked them, and reduce the syrup on the stove to make a super-sticky sauce. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dear Tilly

I've swooned over Love Tilly Devine before, but I had to put this up today because I just wanted to reiterate just how completely perfect this bar is. 

They somehow manage to serve up Campari with ruby grapefruit juice all year round with a twirl of orange peel bobbing about, but the remainder of their menu shifts with the weather. We had  the most simple and yet the most sublime tomato salad last night. The colours, the softest dollops of goats curd, the torn basil, salty olives and the crunchy nuggets of toasted bread. It. Was. The Greatest. Made all the better by a window seat.

Have you been yet?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


It's those afternoons at the end of Summer, those swimmingly languid hours, the sand in the sheets, the salt on the pillows and the ice cream in the freezer...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rhubarb and Strawberry Buckle

Have you ever seen the movie Season of the Witch? It's shit. Really awful. Lot's of grimy long hair and muddy witches locked in cages paired with unnecessary sword fights in the snow. (Am I making it sound good? Don't be fooled). It's also the second Nicholas Cage film we've watched in as many days. Ah weekends, how easy you are to while away with bad TV while it rains outside.

Luckily there was also cake around these parts last weekend, good cake too. GREAT CAKE, in fact. Cake with rhubarb, and more of those strawberries I've been hamming on about lately, and a crunchy, craggy, crumble top. I think I may have finally cracked our new oven's bipolar personality. It runs around 15-20 degrees hot, or sometimes cold, whatever it feels like that particular day, which ISN'T HELPING ANYONE TRYING TO WIN AT BAKING.

If there is one cake you're looking to make this season, let it be this one. It's got chopped hazelnuts AND hazelnut meal in it, and dark brown sugar which makes it taste a bit like caramel Nutella, but with fruit. That doesn't really make sense now, but it will when you make this. Which will be this weekend, won't it... The only thing that will be buckling is your knees when you try it (har har har).

Also: If you find a spare three minutes today and you feel like nominating Stovetop in the Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog awards I will send big virtual hugs your way).

All you need to do is nominate for best cooking blog over at (or any other category), it will only take a tiny two minutes, and then a giant hoard of good karma will most likely drop into your life in the next 7 days. You’re the best, thank you.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Buckle
Only slightly adapted from a recipe by the always delicious Emma Knowles at Gourmet Traveller 

250g each rhubarb and strawberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup each dark brown sugar and caster sugar
160g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
220g plain flour
40g hazelnut meal (I just roasted some hazelnuts, removed their skins by rubbing them with the tea towel and ground them up in a food processor)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp each ground ginger and cinnamon
2/3 cup buttermilk 

Hazelnut Topping
80g dark brown sugar
40g plain flour
40g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (skins removed using method above)
20g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Combine all the Hazelnut Topping ingredients in a bowl and stir. Freeze this until you're ready to bake the cake (this will stop it melting into the cake when it's baked)

Mix the chopped rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of both sugars and set aside.

Beat the softened butter and remaining brown and caster sugars until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes, don't skimp on this bit).
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition (scrape down the sides of the bowl to properly mix). Stir in the dry ingredients in two batches and then add the buttermilk.

Fold in one third of the rhubarb and strawberry mixture and spoon into a 24cm-diameter cake tin that has been buttered and lined on the base with baking paper.

Scatter over the remaining rhubarb and strawberries, then top with the hazelnut topping. Bake for about an hour and 15-30 minutes or until a skewer withdraws clean from the centre of the cake. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then on a wire rack. Best eaten on the day it's baked.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New York Eating

1. The Meatball Shop - Bedford Av, Brooklyn
2. My hot date.
3. Entrance to Employees Only - West Village, Manhattan.
4. Shack Burgers at Shake Shack - Theater District, Manhattan.

My friend Amy and I went to NYC last September, and I've been meaning to put this little list together for ages. When we left for New York friends threw piles and piles of recommendations our way, most of which were absolute success stories (thanks, legends!) This list is kind of an amalgamation of all those, plus the haunts we discovered while wandering the streets. It's by no means an exhaustive list, and you may roll your eyes because they mightn't be anything new, but these finds make for happy days indeed. Thanks to Ames for making the perfect table for deux.


Restaurants (mostly in Williamsburg)
·         The Meatball Shop – One of the best meals we had in the US. The perfect example of choosing one thing and doing it really bloody well. The Shop is really casual and the party carries on until about 4am. Head here for simple yet mind-blowing meatballs with a kind of pick'n'mix menu (pick your ball, sides, sauce etc.) It’s an NYC institution and you CANNOT miss it.
·         Diner – One of the most exciting restaurants in Brooklyn at the moment, if there is a wait it will be worth it, their cocktails are fantastic.
·         The Brooklyn Star – Really great Southern-style snacks, think sweet-tea sours, shrimp’n’grits, the best corn bread this side of Mississippi and a really cool bar.
·         Pies and Thighs – Fried chicken. If you’re going to do it, do it here.
·         Five Leaves – Run by Australians, the brunch ain't bad at all. They have $1 oyster happy hour in the evenings too, epic BLTs for lunch.
·         Bakeri – Cute Dutch-style bakery near the waterfront.
·         Blue Bottle Coffee – Amazing cold-drip New Orleans-style iced coffee. There's a huge roastery inside the venue and a permanent weekend wait, but they're friendly and the coffee really is good.

Bars in Brooklyn:
·         Pete’s Candy Store – Not far at all from The Brooklyn Star, it’s a cool dive with live indie bands every night of the week.
·         Night of Joy – With a rooftop strung with lights, Night of Joy is what your grandma's house would look like if you turned the kitchen into a bar. It's also around the corner from the above.
·         Brooklyn Brewery - Always packed and kind of touristy but it’s in a cool area near the waterfront and you should try and see it if you can and buy your dad a t-shirt or something.

If you’re in Brooklyn on a weekend, head to Smorgasburg food market on Saturday, it's a curation of the best street-food in the whoooooole woooorrrrrld. It’s on the Williamsburg waterfront and overlooks the Manhattan skyline. The flea market is on Sundays in the same location.


·         Café Gitane in the Jane Hotel is wonderful for breakfast or a late-afternoon wine or something. There is a really cool bar in The Jane too, lots of moody lighting and velvet chaises.
·         Victory Garden frozen yogurt in the West Village is delicious too, salted caramel frozen yogurt made from goat milk! Win.
·         Balthazar – Obvious, I know. But it’s still got it. Get a steak or moules frites and pretend you're rich and fancy.
·         Momofuku Ssäm – The hyper little sister of the MF family. We actually seriously over-ordered here and were SO full we couldn’t move. But make sure you get the duck! And the country hams, they are like no other. And the pickles, and the pork buns, and everything...
·         Momofuku Milk Bar – Opposite Ssäm. Cookies, cereal milk ice cream, crack pie - legendary.
·         Shake Shack - The burgers! Maccas-ish, perhaps. But they’re famous for a reason, you have to try one at least once.
·         Prosperity Dumpling. Tiny place in china town and could be the cheapest dumpling hit you'll find. Only around $2 for 12 pork and garlic chive dumplings. A hangover haven.

·         Employees Only – Set behind a fortune teller shopfront, push past the heavy velvet curtain to enter. EO is one of the best cocktail bars in the world and that is NOT a Sophie Exaggeration, it's TRUE. Their signature dish is a hand-cut steak tartar with crostini which is mixed with spices, sauces, pickles and capers at your table. Try and sit up at the bar if you can, that's where all the action is.
·         Please Don’t Tell – At the back of a hot dog shop. Walk into the phone booth, pick up the phone and dial one, the back of the booth will open into the bar, crazy cocktails with fun novelty value. Curry martini anyone?
·         For wine head to Terroir, it’s got one of the most dynamic lists in the city, the owner is a bit mental but he’ll find you something wacky to try.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Late Summer Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

The funny thing about living with five housemates, is that when you boil the kettle to make a cup of tea, and you shout out (politely) to ask who wants a cup, everyone says yes. Three cups Roobios, one with skim milk, one with whole and one without. One Earl Grey – sans milk, and one English Breakfast with Light White. And the kettle only fills four cups. It’s hard! Well it was hard for James, who was making the tea in the first place. But it’s nice, having all these friends around all the time. It's especially nice when you need a few hungry tongues fit for taste testing. 

I brought home a kilo of late-summer strawberries from the King's Cross Organic Market last weekend (which is so close to our house and so cheap that I'm going to be there every Saturday) and pinched my mum's ice cream machine to whip up a batch. I wanted to celebrate the last week of this dismal summer and say cheers to the fruit that have stuck it out, even with the lack of sunny days. 

A million years ago, when we used to picnic at Nielson Park beach on the evening that school broke up, a family that always joined us introduced me to something great to do with strawberries. They packed a little tub of sour cream, and a small box of brown sugar and the berries were dipped in one after the other. I loved the tartness of the sour cream and the caramel in the sugar, and when I was researching strawberry ice cream recipes and came across David Lebovitz's recipe for a sour-cream based mix, I had to try it. The result is a bit like frozen yogurt with a swing of tang which is lovely, really. The berries glow a perfectly clichéd baby girl pink.

Cya summer. Thanks for being completely average this year. I hope to see you next year with your game face on and your sunny socks pulled up high. Leave the rain for Britain to slosh around in.

Strawberry Sour Cream Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop

Makes about 1 litre

450g hulled strawberries - sliced
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tbs vodka
1 cup sour cream
1 cup thickened cream

Make sure your ice cream machine's churning cylinder has been in the freezer overnight.

Mix together the sliced strawberries, sugar and vodka and let macerate in a bowl at room temperature, covered in cling wrap, for around an hour, stirring occasionally. This step allows all the juice to seep out of the fruit, helping with the pink colour.

Pulse the strawberries, sour cream and thickened cream together in a food processor until blended but still a little chunky. Place mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for an hour until completely chilled. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the instructions (which is usually for about 20 minutes).