Festive Yuletide Choc

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Christmas without an oven is proving a trying time for me! Everywhere I look there are gorgeous recipes for mince pies, gingerbread men, Christmas pudding cheesecake, festive sausage rolls…the list goes on and on. I have had to resort to finding no-bake recipes so I can join in the Christmas-time cooking!

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On a recent buzzfeed post specifically for no-bake Christmas recipes I saw one for Christmasy chocolate bark.

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It’s such a simple, easy recipe and looks so tasty, festive and impressive – a steal of a recipe! Great for a quick treat or wrapped up in cellophane and tied with ribbon for a cute gift.

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It took no time and tastes so yummy! Hopefully my work colleagues will enjoy this end of term Christmas treat before we all head home for the holidays.

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Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

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Frugal Feeding’s Sardine Fritters

I was browsing through the latest blog posts on my reader panel when I came across an interesting sounding recipe from Frugal Feeding. It was for Sardine Fritters and the photos of the food looked really good! I was also won over by the fact that sardines are cheap to buy and the recipe is nice and easy for a week-day dinner. We had some tortilla wraps leftover and some yoghurt so I decided to try and make the fritters, served in a soft wrap with yoghurt and cucumber dip with griddle fried onions and peppers.

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You can find the full ingredient list and recipe over at the lovely Frugal Feeding site.

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These fritters are really tasty, with a slight chilli kick and a bit of crunch from the sesame seeds, it’s a dish that has definitely made it’s way onto our repertoire of useful, delicious dinners.

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The City Break Series: Barcelona

This year I have been lucky enough to travel to lots of European cities, and to eat lots of delicious European food. It figures, that as I write a food and baking blog, that it should write some kind of review post for my travels. To this end, I have decided to write a City Break Series about my travels and the food i discovered. These will be interspersed with my normal posts.

We start, with Barcelona…

In August I went to Barcelona with one of my dearest pals, Hannah. We’ve both been so busy over the last year or so, me at work, Hannah studying to become a Trainee Solicitor, that we decided we deserved a little holiday away! We’ve never gone away together before and usually only get a few hours every few months to catch up so we were well-overdue some decent time together! As we’re both summer babies we chose the first week of August to celebrate our birthdays and picked Barcelona as our destination. I’ve always wanted to see Gaudi’s architecture and Hannah was keen to visit a new city and get exploring! Also, it would be guaranteed hot and sunny weather!
We spent 5 glorious days in Barcelona visiting Casa Battlo, Park Guell, La Ramblas and La Boqueria food market. We also managed to fit in some sunbathing by the hotel’s roof pool for some proper relaxing!

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We were really looking forward to trying proper Spanish tapas and after a few ok dinners we found an amazing restaurant called Teleferic. When we arrived it was pretty empty, I think because we ate a lot earlier than the Spanish seemed to. The staff were really welcoming and friendly, and explained that at half seven they would start bringing out all of the different tapas dishes to the bar area where we could then pick and choose. While we waited we shared some potatas bravas which is one of my favourite dishes. Crispy potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli, delicious!

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We helped ourselves to delicate pastry parcels filled with spinach; lightly battered squid; crispy, salty green peppers; Spanish tortilla; olives; chorizo…there were so many dishes on offer, there was no way we could try them all! I would definitely hurry back to try more when I’m next in Barcelona.

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At the end of the meal we were given a complementary glass of bubbly by the waiter which was a nice touch. Each dish had a cocktail stick in it, some were different colours, some were different shapes. These represented the price of the dish and we were charged according to the number of sticks we had at the end. This was by far my favourite meal in Barcelona and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the city.

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We didn’t have paella, but really enjoyed trying different tapas dishes and just picking and sharing a few different dishes at each meal. We also visited La Boqueria food market, just off La Ramblas. This was great, and reminded me of Borough Market, back in London. There were meat and fish stalls, fresh fruit and veg and cheeses and hams.

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The weather was gorgeous, and with the good food and beautiful architecture, it was a great little girly holiday! I will definitely go back to Barcelona, it’s a city for the senses with so many sights to see and delicious food to taste, including really delicious ice cream, that I think there must be lots more to explore.

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Oh I do like to be beside the seaside . . .

. . . or as near to the seaside as one can be in central London!

Tom and I have a habit of sending each other restaurant, pub and cafe reviews and recommendations nearly every day but we struggle to make the time to go to them; they usually just get added to the ever-increasing wish list. Last week Tom sent me a link to the Bonnie Gull, a seafood shack/restaurant/oyster bar not far from work. We decided we’d go with the excuse that it had just been my birthday so we would treat ourselves!

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The idea behind the Bonnie Gull is that everything they serve has been caught that day; there’s a map on the wall where they pinpoint the source of your fish. Originally a pop-up, the guys behind the Bonnie decided to set up shop permanently, bringing a little bit of the seaside to central London.

With its striped blue and white awnings and white wooden chairs and tables you can easily imagine the Bonnie Gull sitting comfortably looking out over Croyde Bay or Saunton Sands (reference to holidays past, spent down on the Devon coastline with my family).

We started with oysters. I always have to psych myself up when it comes to eating an oyster; I know it will be delicious when it comes to it but I still have to get over the fear of eating it! These didn’t disappoint, they were so fresh and tasty and well worth my initial mild panic!

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Tom then had queenies which were something new – they’re like small scallops and were served raw – they melted in the mouth and were full of flavour! I started with one of my all time favourites, mussels with a light cider, bacon and cream broth and some amazing bread – perfect for mopping up the cider!

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For my main I plumped for the much-loved classic, fish and chips. These weren’t just any chips however, they were beef dripping chips and they were deliciously crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The haddock was nicely battered and the mushy peas and spicy Shack Ketchup were equally tasty. Tom decided to try John Dory and it looked and tasted so good, it was quite a meaty fish and the sauce it was served with was really nice.

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I could probably have managed one of the delicious sounding desserts but not to appear too piggy we decided to just share the cheeseboard instead! Needless to say this was also really tasty and rounded off a great dinner!

I am going again in a few weeks and am excited to see what fish and shellfish will be on the menu that day – I can’t wait!

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The Liebster Award

This week I received a lovely notification; that a fellow blogger had nominated me for a Liebster Award!

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So a big thank you is in order to Emma, over at teapots and twine, for nominating me for the award. If you don’t know Emma or her blog, you have to go over for a visit, it’s just lovely. My favourite of Emma’s posts are about the best places to find vintage-y shabby chic items for the home – I really want to go and have a wander in some of the shops! Emma and I both studied English at Exeter Uni and share a love of Jane Austen, vintage furniture and home cooking.

I’d not heard of the award before so I did some research and found that the Liebster Award is given to those blog writers with fewer than 200 blog followers by people who enjoy reading their posts and want to help share each others’ work. It seems like such a nice idea and a great way to get introduced to other members of the blogging community!

So, the rules are as follows:

You must thank the person who nominated you

Answer the 11 questions posed by your nominator (see below)

Pass on the award to 11 new recipients

Pose 11 new questions to your bloggers

These were Emma’s questions for me:

1. What is your favourite blog and why?

One of my favourite blogs is Foodimentary – National Food Holidays. Every day I get an update on which tasty food holiday it is, always accompanied by delicious-looking photos. The posts also come with food history which is really interesting for a foody blogger like myself!

2. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I love blogging because it’s an opportunity to be creative; whether it’s cooking, craft, writing, photography; and you can then so easily share your thoughts, cakes, photos, with the whole world. And then in turn, you are opened up to a whole new world of blogs, and the blogging community, who are just this huge bunch of people all wanting to share and learn and enjoy. It’s also a nice way for me to switch off when I get in from a busy day at work and get creative.

3. If you could interview any famous person in relation to the subjects you blog about who would you pick?

I would like to interview Paul Hollywood, and before you all say it’s because he’s such a silver fox (!), it’s actually because bread is probably the thing I’ve struggled most with since I started learning to bake. I would love to get some pointers on where I’m going wrong and how to improve the dough that I make. It’s just a plus that he’s got such lovely blue eyes….!

4. What is your favourite home comfort?

Eating butter and marmite on toast, preferably from a freshly made loaf, snuggled up on the sofa with a good old Sunday afternoon film

5. If you could become an expert at something what would you want it to be?

I’d love to become an expert at patisserie – some of the cakes and pastries out there are so intricate and gorgeous to look at, it would be amazing to know how to create something like that

6. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting a blog?

Go for it, most definitely. Don’t hesitate, just get stuck in. You can blog about anything, I’ve come across such a huge range of blogs, covering such a wide range of topics that really the world is your oyster! And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, the blogging community is so friendly and welcoming, it’s like a big family!

7. Describe your perfect day?

My perfect day would be to go to Borough Market with Tom, buy some delicious food, and go for a walk and a picnic in the sunshine and just spend a lazy day eating and relaxing with him

8. What would you like to be doing in five years time?

In five years’ time I would like to be baking in my own home, with Tom off somewhere in the house playing his music, and either still working in the marketing industry in some creative form or working towards owning my own cafe/deli/bakery!

9. Who would you love to see start a blog?

I’d love to see my sister start a blog – she’s so creative, her photography is beautiful, that I’d love a chance to see more of her work – especially as I don’t live at home anymore so I don’t get to see her or her photos as often as I used to

10. Who would you least like to be trapped in a lift with?

Hmm there’s probably quite a few people, but someone i would find it difficult to be trapped in a lift with is Keith Lemon, from Celebrity Juice!

11. What is your motto for life?

My motto for life….well I don’t really have a life motto, but a good one would be “Keep calm, and eat cake!”

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Now it’s my turn to nominate 11 bloggers, and I’ve chosen the following lovely people (the majority of my 11 are foodie bloggers). These lovely people have been wonderful enough to visit my blog, like my posts and start to follow me on my blogging journey so I would like to share the Liebster love and award them with nominations:

Scarletscorchdroppers

Edibles & Travels

Rosamund over at The Daily Muse

Cooking with Charl

Pud Bakes

Soup du journalism

A Small Insight

So, hear me

House of Herby

Edible Substance

The Suburban Cook

My questions to you all are:

What made you start blogging in the first place?

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

Where is your favourite place you’ve ever travelled to?

If you could choose only one, which would you keep: bread, pasta or potatoes?

Are you a sweet or a savoury kind of person?

What is your favourite book?

What is your favourite film?

Which is your favourite cuisine from around the world and why?

If you could have anyone over for dinner who would it be and what would you cook as your signature dish?

What have you learned since you started blogging – any tips that you would pass on to other bloggers or people thinking about starting a blog?

Which famous person would you love to meet and why?

Have fun everyone!