Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 2015 Playlist - Spring Forward

Spring Forward Playlist
Now that Spring is here, I've got a bit of a more upbeat selection of tunes in constant rotation here at Pink Julep HQ… With the hour of sleep we lost over the weekend, I think it's helpful to have some music to put a little pep in our steps and get us ready for the Spring season ahead. Now, where's that bottle of Pimm's?

Listen to Spring Forward on Spotify here or click on the track listing image above.

Epoch Firewalker Relaxing Foot Cream

Firewalker Relaxing Foot Cream ℅ Epoch
If you're on your feet all day, wearing heels, working out a lot these days or even someone who's lucky enough to live somewhere warm and wear sandals all the time, you no doubt have tired, sore, dry, cracked feet on a regular basis. I know I do… 

Epoch Firewalker Relaxing Foot Cream is the perfect little treat for after a shower or preferably a hot bath to sooth tired feet. However, if you're busy or too tired for a shower after a long hard day, don't let that stop you… I use this cream any ole time on my feet - it feels that good!

Firewalker is made using Cordyline Terminalis, a small tree with soft leaves used by people in Polynesia for its cooling effect on dry, callused skin and you can certainly feel it the minute you start massaging this lovely cream into your feet. The cooling sensation lasts a good long while. It sort of feels like a minty face mask for your feet.

I'm a big fan of Firewalker and highly recommend it for anyone who could do with a little TLC on their feet after a long, hard day. Epoch Firewalker Relaxing Foot Cream is available online from Nu Skin and is £19.27.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lemon & Lavender Tea Biscuits

I'm not one for cookies or tea biscuits most of the time, but they are the thing here in England and therefore must be available from time to time. Even I'll admit that they do hit the spot with a cup of tea or coffee occasionally and if one has to have a biscuit or hard cookie, it might as well be homemade and interesting. Though I do on occasion opt for the store-bought biscuits out of ease and convenience, I think it's nice to whip up something fresh for guests when there's time and these are my tea biscuits of choice lately… They smell amazing while you mix them up and even more-so as they bake. What's more, they're homemade… Who wouldn't love that when they visit for a cuppa?

4 tablespoons golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon lavender leaves (usually found in the spice section of the grocery store)
100g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
Zest of 1 lemon
175g plain flour
Icing sugar for sprinkling (confectioner's sugar)

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C and lightly grease a large baking sheet with a bit of butter.

2. Put the sugar, lavender and butter in a food processor. Blend using the pastry blade attachment until light & fluffy before adding the flour gradually. Continue blending until a stiff dough forms, similar to the dough for a shortbread.

3. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of baking paper or parchment and knead lightly until the pieces of dough are combined. Place another sheet on top. Using a rolling pin, role the dough out until it's about 1/2 cm thick. Using circular pastry cutters, cut out the biscuits and carefully place each one on the prepared baking sheet. Re-knead and roll the remaining dough to cut more biscuits and repeat this process until you run out. You should get about 10 biscuits or so.

4. Bake the biscuits in the oven at 150°C for about 15 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes or more before removing to a plate and sprinkling with icing sugar.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Chicken Chorizo Chili

This brilliant, vibrant, red dish is absolutely beautiful when steaming hot and sitting before you, but it's just as tasty as it is pretty and the perfect feast when protein, warmth and a kick of heat are what's on order. Simple to make and easy to eat, I like to whip this up when I'm home alone and keep the leftovers for lunch the next day.

This Chicken Chorizo Chili is quite spicy, so if you prefer something a bit milder, I'd suggest skipping the mild chili powder altogether and letting the chorizo do the heavy lifting. However, if you can stand it, the chili powder ups the temperature on this dish, making it perfect for cold or rainy night suppers! This feeds two hungry people or three medium-hungry people, however if you want to stretch it out a bit, try doubling the beans, chicken stock and tomato paste and it will go much further. You might also consider serving this with rice, a sliced baguette on the side or tortilla chips, but when I make it, I love it all on its own… This is one of my favorite wheat-free feasts for when I feel I've overdone it on the pasta & starchy carbs and I need a boost of protein.

Now, I know it may seem odd to add cocoa powder and cinnamon to a chili if you've never done this before, but I must insist that you trust me here. These two ingredients really bring out the flavor of the chicken, chorizo and other spices and they are essential. There won't be a cinnamon chocolate flavor at all - they simply add a roundness to this chili and all other kinds of chili I cook.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets, chopped into bite-sized pieces
500ml chicken stock (from a cube)
1 tablespoon garlic oil
190g cooking chorizo, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt flakes
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

1. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium-large saucepan or flameproof casserole and add the chicken pieces. Continue boiling until fully cooked - this won't take long, maybe 5 minutes or so. Check the chicken by cutting a larger piece in half to ensure it's cooked through and then remove from the stock to a bowl and keep warm.

2. In a wok or frying pan big enough to hold all the ingredients, heat the garlic oil over medium heat. Add the chopped chorizo and cook for a few minutes until it starts to bronze and give up some of it's red color to the oil. Add the beans, chili powder and paprika and stir.

3. Pour the chicken stock used to cook the chicken into the pan and add the cocoa powder, cinnamon, tomato paste, a pinch of salt and several generous grindings of fresh black pepper. Stir to combine.

4. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and allow this to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until everything is hot and bubbling away nicely. Taste the broth and adjust any spices here as needed.

To serve this dish, I like to transfer the chili back to the flameproof casserole I use for poaching the kitchen and take it to the table with a ladle for family style serving, however this is totally up to you. I would also consider serving in warm bowls so it keeps some of its heat, especially on days when you need a bit of warming up. Enjoy!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Platform Envy

Gotta say, I'm happy to see wedges, chunky heels and platforms coming back into fashion. For one, they're more comfortable, but they also look great with jeans and have a way of making legs look longer! These are the platform shoes I'm loving at the moment… Will you be jumping on this trend bandwagon?

A Visit to Poole Quay & Old Town in Pictures

Poole Quay sits right on the waterside and combined with the Old Town area of Poole is like stepping back in time to a bustling seafront postcard from days gone by. Historic pubs sit alongside shops new and old, museums, amusements and quirky pottery shops complete with lovely sit-down restaurants and street food stalls. There's plenty to see and do and it's well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Among the attractions to visit are the first ever Lush shop, a haunted pub, an amusements arcade, Poole Pottery where you can paint your own pot if you like or watch potters create masterpieces, Purbeck Pottery and Truly Scrumptious, an old-fashioned sweet shop that sells plenty of tempting sweets as well as a wide selection of American candies. Additionally, the high street starts on the quay, so you can easily walk along and try out the local shops, coffee shops and take a trip to Dolphin Shopping Centre. To be honest, the shopping isn't great if you've come from London, but it makes for a nice & easy stroll. Further down the quay you can wonder into the Old Town area and see some beautiful old buildings, a gorgeous church and a few interesting historical homes. Make your way back down to the waterfront for a good gander at some incredible super yachts. If you have time, you can't go wrong with a pizza at Da Vinci's or pop into the King Charles for a coffee or a pint and see if the ghosts appear. All in, Poole Quay is a lovely place to spend a few hours for a good walk, yummy food and a bit of history. It's quirky, scenic and a nice change from the fast pace of city life.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

White Chocolate & Walnut Blondies

My husband is allergic to chocolate. It's not to say he can't eat it, because he can, but too much and he gets a miserable headache. That said, I'm always looking for delicious desserts and sweets that are chocolate-free and there are few things more indulgent that a batch of Blondies. 

Bursting with walnut pieces and white chocolate chunks, this Blondies recipe isn't the gooey kind that you might be used to, but more of a cakey consistency, however they're completely delightful and the perfect compliment to a hot cup of espresso!

115g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g white chocolate (about 1 1/2 bars)
200g walnut pieces
2 eggs
115g soft brown sugar
115g self-rising flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease an 18cm square cake tin with butter.

2. Roughly chop about 3/4 of the white chocolate and set aside.

3. Add the remaining white chocolate and the butter to a saucepan and melt gently over low heat, stirring to combine as needed. When the chocolate and butter are fully melted, give a final stir and set aside to cool. (You can use a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water if you prefer, but I find there's no need if you pay careful attention, stir occasionally and use low heat.) 

4. In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to beat the eggs and sugar together until well-mixed. Then add the cooled chocolate mixture, continuously beating until combined well.

5. Fold in the flour, chopped chocolate and the walnuts until well mixed and quite lumpy. It should be quite think and bumpy with the nuts and chocolate chunks, so don't be alarmed.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and smooth the surface as much as possible using a rubber spatula.

7. Bake at 180°C for 30 minutes or until just set. The Blondies should be a bit soft in the center when they're done. Cool the Blondies in the tin and slice before serving.

These White Chocolate & Walnut Blondies are delicious when they're still slightly warm, but they also keep nicely. Be sure to store them in a sealed container once they're cooled and they'll keep for about a week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Exploring Poole in Pictures

A public foot path that leads to the beach

Poole is a great place to visit if you love a good walk. It seems that everywhere you turn, there's a public foot path leading to a new, not yet discovered magical scene, often times the beautiful seaside. I loved every minute of letting myself wonder, knowing nothing about where I was going and discovering beautiful scenery all along the way.

These beach huts are everywhere and available to rent in the summer.
Seeing the sea for the first time… 
Sandbanks Beach


Perfect beach day accessories including the Poole Watch ℅ Shore Projects

I'm on the hunt for some other great spots in the UK for taking walks and hiking… If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them, so please leave a comment below.