Tag Archives: Market

Guinness Brownies…

I made the fatal error of making a cake for my office to celebrate my birthday. Now, I am “the girl who bakes cakes”. My friend approached me sheepishly the other day with a neatly printed off recipe for these Guinness Stout Brownies with the suggestion that, if I were to do any more baking that I could possibly try making these.  Now, I have seen, and even tried, Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake but these are a whole other story! The recipe (or at least the way I made it) produced the juiciest, fudgiest dense brownies that I have ever eaten (I’ve sampled a few in my time! Especially the day the The Boy’s brother was at Borough Market and helped the guys at Flour Power City Bakery pack their things away out of the rain and came home with a brick of brownie as a thank you!)

So give them a go, they are so easy and so worth it!

Guinness Brownies
Inspired by this recipe

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of Stork, room temperature
350g Bournville Chocolate
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 bottles Guinness Foreign Extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g milk  chocolate chips

– Preheat the oven to 190C and lightly grease a 9×13″ pan.
– Pour both bottles of beer into a medium saucepan, and simmer on medium heat until it’s reduced down by just over half.  It should take about 15 minutes. Leave the beer on the side to cool.
– Mix together flour, cocoa, and salt until evenly combined.
– Melt butter and Bournville in a double-boiler over very low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.
– In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar  until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.
– Slowly to avoid lumps, mix the flour/cocoa mixture into melted chocolate mixture. Whisk in the reduced beer mixture and the vanilla. The batter will be runnier than a normal cake batter, but this is normal. Pour into your baking tin and sprinkle your milk chocolate drops over the top.
– Bake 20 to 25 minutes on middle rack in the oven. Keep an eye on it though and if you think it looks ready stick a skewer in, if it comes out clean then whip them out. Mine only took 20 mins and they were crispy around the edges. It depends how you like them really but 20 mins was perfect for me.
– Cut up the brownies (I cut them too big at first, as in the pics, but they are quite rich so be strict with yourself!) and leave to cool on a cooling rack for as long as you can resist. If you leave them for 20 mins or so then plonk some vanilla ice cream on the top they will be delicious!!

I have put this recipe up for both my Mum and The Boy’s Mum. My Mum asked me for it before I had even made them! I think that they would go down well in New Zealand where The Boy’s Mother lives. I just hope that she can easily get her hands on the Guinness and the Bourneville!!

Fudgy, chocolatey goodness…just perfect now that the evenings are drawing in. I wonder if they would mind if you took them to the pub to eat with a Guinness by the fire?



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Dressing Table Ideas…

When I was at Uni my Mum helped me earn a few extra quid selling my old tat at a Car Boot Sale. It worked, we earned quite a bit but I came back with a car full of other people’s tat too!! The only thing that has survived that haul some six years ago was a dressing table. I spent a whole day stripping the orangey varnish off and another applying a limewash finish and Rennie Mackintosh handles to the drawers. Since then it has gathered dust and gradually turned orange again in my old bedroom at my parents house.

She could do with a bit of TLC

Pine ages in the sunlight to what is fetchingly referred to as a ‘cigarette yellow’ tone, as you can see mine is looking pretty orangey which I think is a little bit of the overhang from the old varnish as well as the sunlight. So, seeing as she has made the transit from the Shropshire countryside and finally been summoned to my house in London after all these years I think she is in need of a make over. What do you think?

I have got a few ideas. I’m definitely going for a white legs, wood top like this:

But I’m not sure that I want to go dark on the top. I like the light wood. We have light wood throughout the house on the kitchen sideboards, on the floors in the hallway and lounge, so I am thinking of keeping the top quite light.  But I don’t think I want to leave it just plain either.  I love these ideas using old French typography:

French Typography Side Table via Curbside Collector

But then I thought that what with all of the crap that I am going to be keeping on it, it might look a bit cluttered. Also, half of the words would be covered up and half revealed so that you wouldn’t get full impact of the text. What to do? I wanted a pattern, I thought about using Rennie Mackintosh as an inspiration as the handles are Mackintosh and I have a Mackintosh jewellery case. But again, I thought that this might be too much. Then I came across this beautiful idea…

Kara Paslay came up with the idea of spray painting through lace. This is genius, it is so feminine and delicate looking-perfect for a dressing table. I had no idea that it would look so pretty!!

So what I want to do is find a piece of lace with a pattern on as large as this one above. I have been scouting around on the net but not come up with anything so large so far. What I would like to do is spray the top white so that the pattern that comes through will be the wood (hopefully!). What do you think? What would you do? Have you had any experience doing anything like this? Any tips?

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Pea Shoot Update

Last weekend I finally got around to using the pea shoots. After the amazing food we had in Italy I was inspired use them in a sunny summer salad or two. They have such a crazy shape to them that they add a fantastic 3D twist to what would otherwise be a normal salad.

Lush, Green and Curly Tendrils

A while ago at WI (yes, I am a member of the WI!) the lovely Rosie Lovell came in to talk to us about setting up her business Rosie’s Deli Cafe in Brixton market (If you haven’t already been you have to check it out; the food, the textiles and the atmosphere are completely unique to Brixton, it’s not like any other London market). She made us a wonderful dip with peas and feta from her book Spooning With Rosie, from then on I was hooked on peas and feta. So, what better way to begin my pea shoot experimentation than with feta?

Pea Shoot and Feta Salad

Pea Shoot and Feta Salad

As this is a salad I’ve just listed the ingredients, use as much or as little of each as you like.

Fresh Pea Shoots, whole

Feta, broken up

Fresh Mint Leaves, torn

Rocket, use as your salad base

Twirls of Lemon Rind

Fresh Lemon Juice, to taste

Olive Oil, to taste

Black Pepper, to taste

Pine Nuts, handful

The sweetness of the pea shoots is complemented by the saltiness of the feta and the twirls of lemon look so pretty twirling along with the pea shoot tendrils. This is a great tasting fresh, summer salad that looks as sunny as it tastes.

This next salad I think is a bit naughty really, you can make yourself look virtuous and salad munching whilst satisfying your cravings for sugar and cream all at once!

Pea Shoot and Goat's Cheese

Pea Shoot and Goat’s Cheese Salad

Fresh Pea Shoots, whole

Cooked Beetroot, chopped but not too small

Goat’s Cheese, (e.g. Chevre) ripped into pieces

Red Chard

Lambs Lettuce

Balsamic Vinegar, to taste

Black Pepper, to taste

Hazelnuts, handful

The sweetness and the freshness of the pea shoots works really nicely with the sugary beetroot. They both complement the creamy flavour of the goat’s cheese. Cutting through all of this is the sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar making this salad full of the sweetness of summer.

Whilst I am mentioning hazelnuts, The Boy and I were sitting out on the balcony the other evening and discovered that one of the trees that over hangs it is a hazel! We are looking forward to collecting them in September and coming up with ingenious ways to use them.

The Boy and I wolfed down these lovely salads along with some parma ham and bread for mopping up the left oil and vinegar, delicious! So what do you think? Aren’t they just so dramatic looking? They turn your plate into a kind of  fairytale cottage garden! If you grow yourself some pea shoots I’d love to know what you did with them.


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Planting the balcony…

One of the main reasons we wanted to buy 2ndhandhouse was because of all the lovely outside space. We have a terrace off the kitchen that has been covered over by the previous owner and is perfect for storing our bikes, our barbecue, our DIY equipment and my kitchen herbs. I am hoping it will have a mini greenhouse effect too so I can maybe grow some tomatoes (btw it has proved quite successful at growing pea shoots, more on that later).

The small balcony at the front gets all the afternoon sun so is perfect for an after work G&T listening to the grunting of the tennis players on the municipal courts next door.

And there’s more, we also have a terrace off the lounge that is accessible by a huge sliding door. This one gets all the morning sun and so is perfect for pottering around with a Sunday morning coffee having a poke at the flowers and watching the kids running backwards and forwards from the park next door. The wall of the terrace is half height and contains a planter section. This is such an unusual feature, I doubt that you would see a new build, which has made space for growing plants. Now, the previous owner had thrown in a couple of chive plants in the pot but they were looking worse for wear and had been allowed to flower (apparently you shouldn’t do this if you are planning on eating them-any one have any thoughts on this?). They were also fighting for a place amongst some admirably staunch cow parsley.

So I decided to replant the planter. At first I had my heart set on something like this…

You can purchase this beautiful example from here.

I loved the idea of a chic little neat hedge, with the bright green contrasting with the white painted wall making me think that I was somewhere in the med.

But then The Boy pointed out that it might make the wall appear too high. This is true and if I am honest, I work 10 hour days…when was I going to find the time to trim the thing? Who did I think I was? A Stepford Wife?! So I was back to the drawing board…

I was sitting outside a Cafe Brera in the sun waiting for The Boy a few weeks ago, a theme which will no doubt recur during my blog (turns out that he had ripped his designer denim shorts that had been specifically designed for cycling…whilst getting on his bike). A lady walked past and ran her hands through what she thought was a rosemary bush. Brera had neatly planted up white planters with rosemary and positioned them around the outside terrace area. However, the woman recoiled as she found out, disappointingly, that they were plastic! This tableau came to me as The Boy was doing his best to shoot down my ideas without offering any alternative.

So a plan was formulated to plant Rosemary which would waft a lovely smell into the lounge and we could use for cooking. I also wanted to keep the chives so, to tie in the grey-green of the rosemary and the purple of the chives, I planned to plant Lavender too (after allaying The Boys fears about bees…we need bees I told him, bees are good).

My big sister and her hubby came to stay (queue a panic to fix up the spare room!) to see the new house and give us an excuse to have time away from DIY. We took them to Columbia Road Flower Market. I adore this market! If I could get myself out of bed every Sunday morning I would go every week! Just to look! Although it is very difficult not to buy too.

I cannot believe that I forgot to take my camera, it is such a beautiful market and not only that, it is proper London market, with proper salt-of-the-earth London stall holders guv’nor. Everything is so well priced and so pretty.  It is really hard to focus and not buy everything!

But The Boy helped me lock down on what I really wanted and even suggested buying a few pretty little Thyme plants with purple flowers. They fit in perfectly because of the colour and add an extra level to the planter as they are quite low lying compared to the rosemary and the lavender. And Voila…here is the finished planter…

Obviously, it needs to fill out a little...

Before I finish up, what has become a ridiculously long looking post I have to tell you about where we went for lunch on the way home! It is called Leila’s Shop. I can’t find a website for it but there is a stunning write up of it on this blog. I have read a few reviews of the place and I have to agree that the staff could be a little more friendly and a little less condescending but the food more than makes up for it. It is all very simple; sandwiches, soups and salads but the produce is really tasty. We had a dressed green salad that I have literally been dreaming about ever since and I am going to try to recreate (stay posted).

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