22 April 2013

A Little Break...

I was hoping to avoid doing this, but due to exam commitments, I am going to have to take a bit of a break from blogging -goodness knows that I'm not even getting a chance to do anything to blog about other than revision!! I'll be writing when I can, but in the meantime, keep up with me on Twitter, especially on Mondays at 8:00pm for #FoodBloggers chat.

Speak soon,

Eleanor xx

15 April 2013

Take Three.

#1. This mysterious package arrived last week. I couldn't think what it was for a minute, then, with a suppressed squeal of excitement, I realised that it was my signed copy of The Little Paris Kitchen and original print from the lovely Rachel Khoo. As soon as I have a chance to get to our local framers, which annoyingly only runs 9-5 Monday-Friday, I will be displaying my print with a few other pieces above my desk to keep me inspired. So thank you again Rachel; I couldn't think of a nicer, more unique prize to celebrate The Little Paris Kitchen's first birthday.

#2. This weekend I visited an artisan food market. Saturday was the second market since it started running on a monthly basis, and it really was excellent. We picked up a few bits for the week ahead, including a lovely sourdough loaf, and a plethora of scones. I also discovered Butterflies Chocolates, a new company that produces beautiful chocolates, with lots of innovative flavours. The theme for this month was rhubarb, which I love and am craving. Actually, I think buying some for stewing may have just become a necessity...

I'm looking forward to trying a few rhubarb-based recipe's. Where I work the chefs make the most beautiful rhubarb Panna Cotta, and, more simply, I am awaiting summer with glee so that I can make a strawberry and rhubarb pie, inspired by Cupcakes and Cashmere. A family favourite pairing is rhubarb with ginger; whenever a crumble is knocked up in my household, a few chopped up pieces of crystallised ginger is an essential.

 #3. Commuting just got a whole lot nicer. Remember my new bike basket? Well it got it's first commuter outing today. It seemed to cope with the swap from flowers to folders quite happily, and cycling home from the station today, in the first proper bit of warmth and sun this year, was absolute bliss. While waiting for my train this afternoon, the relaxing spring picture was continued as I sat outside with a cup of real leaf green tea from Filmore and Union, flicking through a copy of Grand Designs magazine. It's the little things that count.

14 April 2013

Design Solutions

Today I have a little challenge for you all: what should I do with this space?

My room is almost finished now, having received my curtains last week, and just needs really two things: my photos and pictures getting hung up, and deciding what place in this little gap. To help set the scene, I am planning on popping my decorative hangers on the wall above, and pinning a retro print above my bedside table, to the right of the photo.

I need just a little extra area for sticking stuff displaying my things. Some of my ideas so far:
  • A chair or stool
  • A small table
  • A slim chest of drawers (like this)
  • A mannequin for holding bags and jewellery
 What do you think? Do you like any of these, or do you have some better ideas of your own?

12 April 2013

Currently Lusting: Anthropologie's Homewears

As the world is undeniably a global village, a lot of the blogs that I read and follow are based in America, or are in London and have access to flagship stores and travel the world like the airport is part of their daily commute. Consequently, I hear about a lot of global brands that we don't have the same access to in the UK, including Anthropologie. I hadn't really bothered look at their website until now, figuring that it wouldn't be as good an experience as visiting one of the London shops (WHY are there two or three stores across London, one in Edinburgh and nowhere else? I mean, they could have put one in Cardiff or Birmingham, just to spread things out a little? Gah).

Anyway, eventually, I caved in, looked online, and fell head-over-heels in love with all their home accessories, especially all their patterned bowls. I just wish that they stocked more!
While the large bowls create a lot of impact, I love the idea of brightening up my morning yoghurt or porridge with one of their smaller bowls.
Anthropologie has also got lots of sweet little things for around the home. I adore this notebook:
And, while I know that loads of people have this little owl pot, I think it would make a lovely gift, or a treat for yourself.
What are you currently lusting after?

10 April 2013

Pizza Nights

To round off Miriam's visit, we organised a pizza night. It is such a good, relaxed way to spend an evening with friends and is good for catering for lots of different people and tastes.

For the base we knead together all the ingredients below for 10-15 minutes and leave to prove for a couple of hours, before rolling into 6-8 small pizzas.
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 250g plain flour
  • 5g dried yeast (or 10g live yeast)
  • 10g salt
  • 325ml water
  • 1 tbsp oil (I use olive)
A tomato base is a must; if you have time, make your own from scratch, using 500g sieved tomatoes, roasted for 30-45 minutes with olive oil and garlic. My favourite cheat however, is to use a little pasta sauce, such as puttanesca , instead. The best thing about this is that we usually end up with half a jar left, which means I can use it to make a quick eggs in purgatory!
 My favourite toppings -
  • garlic-infused oil, artichoke hearts, mascarpone, Parmesan and basil
  •  Tomato sauce, prosciutto, black olives, peppers and mozzerella
  • Tomato sauce, onions, basil pesto and goats cheese
  • Others -Hawaiian, chicken and sweetcorn, whatever I can find...
To cook -have the oven preheating to it's highest setting. Ideally you should have a pizza stone as this cooks the pizza much faster. Alternatively use a tray, and give an extra couple of minutes in the oven. Stick the pizza stone or tray in the oven to get hot whilst you roll out your pizza. Slide the rolled pizza dough onto the stone (hot: use oven gloves!). I find that it is easier to add my toppings onto the pizza after placing on the stone; just remember to use oven gloves and a heat-proof mat!
Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the pizza or exposed toppings are starting to look a little charred. This only takes 6-9 minutes in a domestic oven, but if you're lucky enough to have an outdoor, wood-fired oven, you an have pizzas made in under two minutes. Now if that isn't fast food, I don't know what is!
Do make sure that you save a little dough (and room in your stomach!) to make a sweet pizza. I've heard of lots of fruity varieties, but I adore spreading on lots of soft Nutella, bananas and chopped hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds. The Nutella tastes even better on a warm pizza, and the caramelised bananas are heavenly.

9 April 2013

Take Three

#1. The sun finally came out and brought with it a little warmth to the wintry April air. Admittedly the briefly pleasant spell has blown over and away from our little island, but it was enough to bring some spring flowers out, including the Narcissus that I bought for in my room, and it is now too late for them to change their minds. So even if the sky looks rather gloomy once again the ground (and my window sill) look vaguely cheerful.
#2. I was really excited to get Emily Schuman's book Cupcakes and Cashmere, inspired by her blog of the same name, especially as it arrived earlier than expected. Miriam and I enjoyed flicking through over morning coffee. I've also been reading Kate Mosse's Citadel, which was excellent.
#3. The Great British Sewing Bee (8pm on Tuesdays on BBC2). Specifically Tilly's gorgeous -and presumably handmade -vintage-style skirts and dresses, and Lauren's pretty tops. Actually, I've just been reading Lauren's 'about' page on the Sewing Bee page and I am feeling pretty inspired, so go have a look.

5 April 2013

Spring Cycling

The sun seems to have finally come out in time to give us a proper, blustery April, albiet a little cooler than desired still. I'm not sure if it is going to last, but I'll be making the most of the weather while I can. Tomorrow, I am meeting one of my oldest friends, Miriam from Coffee Chanel Lipstick, who is staying for a few days, and we'll be marching out to go shopping, regardless of the weather. So excited!

Today however, the sun was reliably present, and I took myself off into town on my bike, and finally bought myself a bike basket. I'm such a sucker for nostalgia, and the fact that I can now ride in style without bags piled onto my back is making me feel pretty pleased with myself. I'd love to have a vintage-style bike too, but since they come with a pretty hefty price tag, I'll definitely be sticking to my trusty little hybrid bike.

I'd had possibly preferred  a larger, slightly more durable model, but hopefully this will be just what I need, especially as I am planning to start cycling as part of my daily commute.

I'm really ready for some warmer weather now -all my winter clothes are wanting a break! Roll on summer! xx

4 April 2013

All Change!

Hello lovelies!

I thought I'd tell you about some changes that will be happening to Coffee With Croissants. While this is mainly a food blog, regular readers will have noticed a few different posts creeping in from time to time.
While love of food may be the sincerest of loves, I also wanted to start blogging a bit more about some of my other interests, and create a more organised schedule for posts with regular features.

So, alongside all my usual foodie posts, Coffee With Croissants will be filled with pieces on interiors and architecture, vintage/flea market rummaging and will tie it all in with lots of lovely photos. Speaking of interiors, I am just waiting to have my curtains made, and I will be able to show you my finished bedroom, after showing you my little shopping haul for my room here.

Some new posts that you can expect to see:
  • Monthly interior's moodboard
  • Places of interest
  • What's in season/ingredient of the month
  • Environmently friendly collections and brands for food, interiors, fashion and make up
  • Take three -three things to inspire you or that have made me smile
...and of course, all my usual recipes and thoughts!

I'm also looking to redesign Coffee With Croissants. I've got it all sketched out on paper, so I will just be waiting on a quiet weekend to get it all done and set up online, although this may need to be after the joy that is exams...

Please leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts on all this!
Until next time,
Eleanor x

2 April 2013

Back to Basics -Victoria Sponge

Happy Easter everyone! Sorry about the quiet week; I've been a little bit busier than expected (namely, the renewed need for revision in preparation for exams...) and I've spent much of the past two days in bed ill, feeling rather sorry for myself. I've been having to take things slowly, attempting my first bit of food this evening -still a bit much for my stomach -and staying in bed way longer than usual; I'm normally an early riser for somebody under-twenty and I couldn't imagine staying in bed all day every weekend and holiday!

So it seems appropriate that my planned post is about going back to baking basics and keeping it simple. While I have been becoming increasing adventurous in the kitchen, even more so in my daydreams, I thought it would be worthwhile going back to square one and reintroducing myself to the classic Victoria sponge. In pretty much anything that I bake, I can always find a little issue that stops it from being perfect and so I felt that going back to this old staple was needed for a quiet weekend.

When I was younger, I was never particularly bothered about a Victoria Sponge. I found, too often, that the cakes presented to me were dry and gritty and plain; why chose blandness when your childish hands can reach for a soft rich chocolate cake? In my eyes, there was never a contest.

Of course, my tastes have developed much more now, and I have found myself appreciated the simple sponge. Buttercream is more popular at the moment than mounds of whipped cream (yuck!) and a few considered additions can make all the difference. Recently, a friend and I shared a slice of Victoria sponge, laden with strawberries and truly, it was five minutes of heaven. The cake was cooked beautifully, soft and full of air and lightness, but moist and creamy as you bit into it. That is my idea of a good sponge.

You can hardly alter a classic, but a little addition of cornflour -an ingredient I've blogged about here -does add a little something...
  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
  • 210g self-raising flour
  • 15g cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • milk (about 2-4 tbsp)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180'C. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins.
Cream the butter and sugar together for a good few minutes, until lightened in colour and 'fluffy'. You know the drill by now, I'm sure. Add in the eggs slowly, one by one, adding a tablespoon of flour inbetween each to avoid any curdling. If you can be bothered, separate the eggs first and give the whites a quick beating beforehand to help make the cake even lighter. You'll be able to add the eggs more slowly this way too. Beat in the vanilla extract, before folding in the flour, cornflour and baking powder. If needed, add in the milk -you're looking for a dropping consistency where the cake mix will fall off an upturned spoon in a satisfying blob. Spoon into the cake tins as evenly as you can.

Pop into the oven for 25 minutes until golden, and the sides are coming away from the tins. Allow to cool, before turning out onto a cooling rack. Once cold, fill and ice your cake. I wanted to make a slightly more transport-friendly cake this time round, so I omitted the buttercream and added only some of my homemade damson jam. For my buttercream recipe, click here. Equally, white chocolate buttercream would be nice too. If leaving the top plain, dust over with icing sugar.

 Packman cake!! ;)

1 April 2013

Handbook of icings

Seeing as icings are used pretty interchangeably, I've included all my go-to's here. The first two are taken more or less directly from the Hummingbird Bakery; any others are my own variants or are credited:

TIP: Beat the butter before adding the icing sugar. It will give you an idea of whether or not it is soft enough, and will make any other ingredients easier to incorporate. Either that, or start it all off by hand.

Basic Buttercream:
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted a couple of times
  • 80g butter, softened
  • 25ml milk (whole)
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
Gently cream the icing sugar and butter together, starting it off by hand to save mess. Start to beat, adding milk a drop at a time until you have the right consistency. The icing should be stiff enough to hold it's shape for piping. Continue to beat for at least five minutes with an electric mixer until the icing is nice and light. Transfer into a piping bag, and get icing!

Cream Cheese frosting

  •  300g icing sugar
  • 50g softened butter
  • 125g cream cheese, cold
Beat the icing sugar and butter together with an electric whisk on a low speed until well mixed. Add the cream cheese and beat until incorporated. Turn up to a high speed and beat for a good five minutes.

 Chocolate Buttercream
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 100g softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g chocolate, melted (I think this is best with white, but you decide...)
Beat the icing sugar, butter and vanilla extract together for five minutes, before adding in the melted chocolate. 

Lemon Buttercream:

  • 250g icing sugar, sifted a couple of times
  • 50g butter, softened
  •  Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tsp lemon curd
  • Milk -I needed 10-15ml.
Gently cream the icing sugar and butter together. Add the zest and curd, then start to beat, adding milk a drop at a time until you have the right consistency. The icing should be stiff enough to hold it's shape for piping. Continue to beat for at least five minutes before icing.
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