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Peach, Almond & Bourbon Pie, an Update on Sponsored Content & Project Bacon

Forgive the photo - it was taken at 6am in a mad dash to the airport

Forgive the photo – it was taken at 6am in a mad dash to the airport

Well, hello folks. Greetings from the Tyrrhenian Sea. I am on a short cruise checking out the offerings of Indian chef Atul Kochar on the P&O Ventura cruise ship. I was in two minds about cruises. In hindsight, for someone who loves boats, ferries and slow travel, this seems a little daft. You know when you sometimes just get an idea in your head? Anyway, while not actually on holiday (I have freelance work to do, and I am finishing Project Bacon), I am loving the lull of it all, punctuated with the pop of activity when we dock at a port. It suits my binary speed setting. I love to be busy buzzing around checking out new things and new eats, but when I am not, and when I can, I love to relax, read, watch films, and drink wine.

It comes at the end of a crazy week. I spoke at a great new blogging festival Blogstock, which I really enjoyed. It was on Food Blogging 101, and when I get time, I will put together a summary for you. It is all from my point of view, and relating to my experience of course, but hopefully it will be useful for you.

From Blogstock I headed to Wilderness, dragging a small red suitcase, and a red shopping trolley full of waffle makers for my Sunday Bacon Club there. A Wilderness Victorinox tent on my shoulder. A big one, I wanted to almost stand up this year. By the time I made it via trains and buses, I was fit only for a glass of wine. Happily, my favourite Morito was there to provide one.

Sunday Bacon Club went well, despite the torrential rain. We were at capacity with 36 people, which was exciting. I need to arrange some more in London and elsewhere soon. I came back to London to meetings with M&S, who I spent my last day in London filming with and cooking lots of steak and tempura. I will share that soon. I have had much worse Tuesdays.

[Photos from Corfu – which surprised me and taught me – again – not to judge in advance]

Which leads me tidily to an update on sponsored content. You were all so supportive when I announced it, and I was so grateful for that. I had thought long and hard about it but, ultimately, I really care about what you think, it is very important to me. I have done just a few bits to feel my way, and figure out how it can all work here. Most importantly, I chose sponsors carefully, and the key is that the creative is all mine.

So far, the result has been more recipes (like for my Irish Beef recipe work, which I loved doing), and travel content (my next piece  will be guide for you on Rome which includes some of my very favourite places, sponsored by O2 Travel).  The money raised through all of my sponsored work will help to support me, and allow me to focus more energy here. I am also going to be re-investing in the blog. It needs a thorough reorganisation and redesign, and I want to invest in better technology, software, and camera and video kit. The aim is more content, some of it supported by brands, but always with my creative. Once things settle after the summer, sponsored work will always be buffered by lots of my own meanderings. It will support them, giving me more time to write in the end.[Read more]

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Mango & Lime Friands (Two Versions: Buttery & Dairy Free)

Mango & Lime Friands

Mango & Lime Friands

Sweet! I want something sweet! And full of sunshine. I can no longer take the grey, grey sky that hangs so low over my head.

Friands remind me of Australia. Bright blue skys, rolling frothy seas, cliff walks, great breakfasts, and all of their wonderful cafés. We have many great Australian cafés in London now too, and the friands are popping up, but like everything, you really can’t beat making them at home. They are so simple and take a maximum of 10 minutes to prepare, and 12 – 15 minutes to bake. You will be stuffing your face with friands in no time, and your biggest problem will be trying not to eat them all.

I love a friand but I don’t need twenty of them squeaking at me from the kitchen – eat me! eat me! eat me! – 6 is too many but it is the least you can make so make sure that you can share them with someone, or some colleagues. Maybe you are not like me and have some self control, but I know that if there are 6 in the kitchen, then I can and will eat 6 of them. I will start with one, have a second, contemplate a guilty third, and from then on it is pure trauma as I try to battle their sirens call.

The recipe is simple. Based on the French financier, but using only egg white (which makes them so light), the friand is composed only of butter, sugar, egg white, flour and ground almonds with the fruit of your choice. I chose mango and lime today as there was the most gorgeous mangoes flirting with me from outside the window of my local Caribbean butcher. Divine. Lime gives it the perk it needs, and gives me that gentle hint of invisible sunshine, which I really need right now.[Read more]

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Boozy Raspberry Chocolate Brownies

Boozy Raspberry Chocolate Brownies

Boozy Raspberry Chocolate Brownies

I am up to my eyes in bacon boxes, book writing and other work, so today I must be brief. Rather than disappear as I have done when very busy lately, I will write briefer posts and today, I will share with you one of my favourite indulgent recipes, my recipe for boozy raspberry chocolate brownies.

If you are afraid of baking, this is the recipe for you. So easy, and very delicious, this rich dark chocolate batter, spiked with pops of bright juicy raspberry is virtually impossible to screw up. I promise you. It also tastes like it was much harder work. The perfect recipe?

Boozy Raspberry Chocolate Brownies

Boozy Raspberry Chocolate Brownies

[Read more]

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Baking, Yorkshire Rhubarb & a Recipe for Rhubarb, Pistachio & Rose Frangipane Tart

Rhubarb, Pistachio & Rose Frangipane Tart (Recipe)

Rhubarb, Pistachio & Rose Frangipane Tart (Recipe)

I am not an obsessive baker like many food bloggers. Certainly not in the sweet sense. I love salt, broth, tender meat, spritely vegetables and all the other things that make savoury sing. I have always loved confectionery, especially making it, and I am partial to a lemon meringue pie, victoria sponge, swiss roll and lots of old school classics, but that was it when it came to home baking. I simply wasn’t all that inspired to explore beyond that. I was happy with my salt.

Then something changed. In the last few months I have developed a sweet tooth (which sits nicely next to my very happy salty one). In fact, I think that all of my teeth might be salty, and now there is one shiny sweet one in the mix.

And then there is rhubarb. Lovely pink tender rhubarb. Slender and elegant, the rhubarb of January in the UK is Yorkshire forced rhubarb (also called champagne rhubarb), grown in the dark in long sheds in the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle, and harvested by candlelight (it is an old Victorian technique). It spends a lifetime stretching for the light but never reaching it, trapped beneath the terracotta urn that houses it. Yorkshire rhubarb brightens January, and I always look forward to it.

Rhubarb, Pisctahio & Rose Frangipane Tart

Rhubarb, Pisctahio & Rose Frangipane Tart

Rhubarb goes beautifully with pistachio and rose and I was recently reminded just how much I love simple frangipane when I baked David Lebovitz lovely Galette des Rois. Frangipane is a simple almond cream, made with ground almonds, egg, butter, sugar and aromatics (rum and almond extract for example), but it can also be made with ground pistachios, and in this case, rosewater. [Read more]