Monday, September 1, 2014

Chicken & Rice Soup


Soup is an integral part of my Autumn/Winter diet. I love soups and since I work from home most of the time, having leftover soup in the fridge or freezer is always a lunchtime lifesaver. Hoping to reduce my pasta intake from overdosing on Chicken Noodle Soup, I came up with this worthy alternative that features rice instead. Feel free to add more veggies - I made this with what I had in the house, but on a more plentiful day, I might add celery as well. The Cayenne pepper and chili flakes give a bit of a kick to the soup which I love, especially on cold days, but if you're not a fan, feel free to reduce them or eliminate them altogether.

Ingredients
6 1/2 cups low-salt hot chicken stock (more if required)
2 small carrots, cubed
1 cup frozen green peas or Petit Pois
400 − 500 grams uncooked chicken breast, cut into small pieces
2 cups cooked rice
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Put the stock into a large pan with a lid. Add the raw chicken and bring to a boil. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium.
  2. When the chicken is fully cooked, skim any fat from the top of the soup and discard.
  3. Add the carrots, frozen peas and cooked rice. Bring to boil again.
  4. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low. Salt & pepper to taste and clamp on the lid. Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve hot.

This soup is great as leftovers - it usually keeps for me for the week in the fridge, however you can also freeze this soup. Just thaw before warming. 

Smoky Cheese Straws


I've posted a cheese straws recipe before, but this is a bit different. the addition of smoky cheese really makes a difference - the depth of flavor from the smoked cheese is really incredible. I love these as a snack, with soup or even on a platter with charcuterie, cheese and other nibbles when I'm entertaining. These are also great to have around for your kids to enjoy after school or to throw in their lunch boxes. Yum!


Ingredients
1/2 cup (115g) plain flour
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Coleman's Mustard Powder
3 1/2 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter
1/4 (55g) cup shredded mild cheddar
1/4 cup (55g) shredded smoked cheddar or other smoked cheese
1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds
Extra butter for greasing
Extra flour for dusting

Method

1. Put flour, salt and mustard powder into a mixing bowl and whisk together. If you don't have a whisk, a fork will work just fine. This is my method for sifting - I don't even own a sifter.


2. Add the butter. If you have a pastry cutter (pictured above) use it to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. If you don't have a pastry cutter, you can just use your hands to rub the butter into the dry ingredients.


It should look something like the photo above - crumbly and dry.


3. Add the cheeses.

4. Pour in half of the beaten egg. Set the other half aside to use later.

5. Using your hands, work the egg and cheese into the mixture until it forms a ball of dough.

6. Take the ball of dough out of the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap (aka cling film). Place the wrapped dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or if you're impatient like me, 10 to 15 minutes in the freezer should do it. You just want the dough to get a little bit firm so it's easy to roll out.

7. While the dough is chilling, prepare two large baking sheets. You don't have to use grease-proof paper, but I finds it keeps the baking sheets from getting too dirty so they're super easy to wash afterwards. Whether you're using grease-proof paper or not, grease the surface with the extra butter.

8. Leaving the dough in the fridge or freezer, prepare a rolling space. I prefer using a piece of grease-proof paper to keep the mess at bay, but it's not required. You will however need to dust the surface you're using with flour as well as the rolling pin.

9. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to about 1/4 inch or about 1/2 cm thickness.

10. With a small knife, slice the dough into strips about 1 cm wide, though you can make these as wide as you like.

11. Transfer the strips to the prepared baking sheets and pinch the sides several times down the length of the straws.

12. Using a pastry brush if you have one, or your fingers if you don't, brush each strip with the remaining beaten egg.

13. Sprinkle the egg coated strips with sesame seeds - use as many or as little as you like. Bake at 400°F / 200°C / Gas Mark 6 for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. If using the grease-proof paper, remove the paper with the straws still on to a plate to cool. If not, just let the straws cool on the pan before serving.


If you're lucky enough to have leftovers, store them in sealed plastic container or in a sealed ziplock bag and enjoy munching on them throughout the week!

This recipe will yield about 15 straws, however it's easy enough to double or even triple the recipe if you're entertaining.

Smoky Cheese Straws make a lovely party food and can be made a day or two in advance if you're hosting quite a lot of people. For day-to-day, I find they also make a lovely accompaniment to soups & salads, but sometimes I make them to just have around as a simple snack.


Of course as with anything cheese-related, these little nibbles are quite tasty with a glass of vino and if you're having guests for drinks, they're the perfect finger food to have on hand for providing a bit of soakage. They look great on a plate, but when I'm entertaining, I love to serve them upright in nice glasses, jars or small steel buckets dotted around the room for easy access with pretty little cocktail napkins.

Almond Latte Cocktail


I had a hunch that mixing coffee liqueur and amaretto would be a winner and I was right! This cocktail looks and tastes like an iced latte with a kick. My Almond Latte Cocktail has a lot of similar qualities to Bailey's Irish Cream, but because I used skim milk in an on-going effort to cut fat and calories wherever possible, it's not as creamy and thick. The bonus is that's it's also not quite so heavy so you can have more of them without feeling like you drank a pot of double cream. This little cocktail is simple to make and sinfully delicious - perfect for enjoying fireside as the temperatures drop this Autumn!

Ingredients

40 ml vodka
40 ml Toussaint Coffee Liqueur
40 ml amaretto
160 ml skim milk
Cocoa powder

Method

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake really well. The better it's shaken, the foamier it will be. Use a spring strainer to strain into a small glass - any other strainer will inhibit the foam. Lightly sprinkle cocoa powder on top and serve cold.

Daily Style September 1, 2014 - Simply Chic

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The London Dungeon



As Summer turns to Autumn, I can't help but be dragged along with it. I love the Fall - it's my favorite time of year and though Spring is often thought of as a time blooming with promise, for me this happens every year as the weather chills and the calendar starts to fill up. I love Autumn events and all the holidays leading right up to Christmas. One of my favorites is Halloween, so naturally as the seasons change, I start to dig into murder mysteries and all things spooky. We're talking Pretty Little Liars on iTunes, Charmed on Netflix, scary movies at the cinema and of course, spooky trips to some of London's darkest attractions.
One of my favorites is The London Dungeon. I have been before, but since moving to its South Bank location, it's had a bit of a makeover. It seemed like a good time to revisit this old haunt (pun intended) and I was pleasantly surprised by the changes - it just keeps getting better! Visiting the dungeon is like taking a trip back in time to a London of years past when Jack the Ripper roamed the streets and safety was an unaffordable luxury for most. Old British characters are introduced little by little as guests descend further and further into the darkness including Sweeney Todd & Mrs. Lovett, Guy Fawkes, a cruel torturer, a tough judge, Jack the Ripper and more. It's creepy for sure, but lots of fun. On top of brilliant storytelling and realistic 360° sets, there are also rides and experiences that make the London Dungeon one of the greatest thrills in our fair city. It's quite funny too, it should be said and while spooky, it's certainly not too much for the faint of heart or the kiddos. The naughty jokes will fly right over their heads and the scary bits are few and far between. My favorite parts of my visit to the London Dungeon were two rides. The Drop Dead ride is super fun - it simulates a mass hanging by hurling visitors up and down at speed. New to me is the Tyrant Boat Ride, a water ride that's fun and funny with a few twists to get your heart rate up. 


It takes about 1 1/2 hours to go through the whole attraction, but I would suggest allowing a little more time than that as there may be a queue to get in. I strongly suggest booking tickets in advance to reduce waiting times as much as possible since the attraction is very popular and there may be a wait for entry and/or ticket collection. Tickets range in price from £15.95 to £25.20 and are discounted for online bookings. Children under 4 years old go free. There are photos taken during the visit which can be purchased for an additional charge at the end of the trip as well as a gift shop. Conveniently located walking distance from Waterloo Station, the attraction is easily accessible by train or tube. The London Dungeon is great anytime, but I'd definitely recommend it as something fun to do around Halloween!

An Evening in Roma

An Evening in Roma

I recently held the first dinner party we've had since moving to London with more than just a couple of guests and I found myself getting really into it. I served Italian food, so naturally it seemed appropriate to go whole hog, right on down to the music. I love to create a whole atmosphere to go with a dinner and this playlist worked out perfectly… Why not put push play, boil up some spaghetti and open your favorite bottle of Barolo tonight? When in Rome…


While you're at it, check out the other Pink Julep playlists available and if you have any special requests, just leave a comment below! 

Daily Style August 28, 2014 - Surf's Up!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Bakewell Soap Co. After Exercise Deep Muscle Relief Rub

Deep Muscle Relief Rub ℅ Bakewell Soap Co.
If you're hitting the gym pretty hard these days, there's no doubt you're sporting some sore muscles to go with your toned physique. Luckily the fabulous folks at The Bakewell Soap Co. have you covered with their After Exercise Deep Muscle Relief Rub

This little tub packs a powerful punch of muscle relief. Cooling, calming and soothing, After Exercise is just what I needed after a hard workout at the gym. It has a smooth texture, perfect for massaging tired, sore, cramped up muscles and it doesn't have an overwhelming scent as so many muscle rubs do. I've experienced immediate relief and comfort while using this product, which helps make a repeat performance seem doable. What's better? It's free from paragons, SLS, artificial colors and synthetics. After Exercise Deep Muscle Rub is £8.95 and available online from The Bakewell Soap Co.

How do you soothe your tired muscles after a sweat sesh at the gym? 

Aromatherapy Associates Natural Exfoliating Scrub

Polishing Natural Exfoliating Scrub ℅ Aromatherapy Associates
I've never had much luck with body scrubs. They're either too course, too perfumey or too oily. The oily ones make a mess of the tub and sometimes make it slippery, resulting in my freshly exfoliated self slipping and sliding all over the place - not cool. That said, I have been in desperate need of a good scrub lately and I decided to go to a brand that has been reliable for amazing bath & body products in the past. I'm a big fan of Aromatherapy Associates Polishing Natural Exfoliating Scrub. It smells incredible and feels great on the skin. It's not too oily, but provides plenty of moisture. Truly a luxury, I can't say enough about this incredible product.

Like any other body scrub, just grab a dollop of Aromatherapy Associates Polishing Scrub and apply it in circular motions on the area you'd like to concentrate on. Don't plan on skimping… I started with my feet and elbows every time I tried this product, but managed to have scrubbed my whole body before I was finished. It's slightly addictive and about the closest thing to a spa trip you could experience in your own tub. The scrub contains sea salt, coffee and grapefruit, all of which contribute to leaving skin revived and revitalized and with a good moisturizing afterwards, it's perfect for relaxing before a good night's sleep!

The Aromatherapy Associates Polishing Natural Exfoliating Scrub is £37 and available via Aromatherapy Associates or Feel Unique. Don't bat an eye at the price tag - you deserve to treat yourself to this little indulgence and while I'm thinking about it… It's never too early to start stocking up on gifts for Christmas and Autumn birthdays - this is actually the perfect present for busy friends who deserve a little luxury!