• Recipe: Mussel pot with beer from Damien Matter

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  • Sanderson – Pure Evoke Mio digital radio launch

    Press Pack
  • Recipe: Quorn Meat Free Chilli burgers with chipotle salsa

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  • Terrariums from The Urban Botanist

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Recipe: Mussel pot with beer from Damien Matter

As a vegetarian I choose not to eat seafood myself, but my husband and sister love it. I was inspired by this recipe for Mussel pot with beer by Australian Chef Damien Matter and wanted to share it with you.

Steamed mussels are such an easy yet extremely tasty dish. You can make the broth with just water and a good tomato base but by adding a splash of wine or in this case some beer it goes to the next level of flavor town. For the broth Damien used 5 330ml cans of Piston Head lager, Swedish beer with a really nice, crispy taste. Eaten straight out of the pot or in a bowl with a crispy baguette, this mussels dish so good you will make it probably the next day for friends that missed out on it the night before.

Ingredients:

• Fresh mussels. About 2 kg
• Tomato paste
• 1 chopped onion
• 4 cloves of crushed garlic
• Salt and pepper
• Butter
• Olive oil
• About 1 and half liters of your favorite beer.
• Parsley.

Method

  1. Rinse the mussels under cold water.
  2. Pick them over, pulling off any beards and discarding any mussels that are broken or gaping open.
  3. In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.
  4. Add the garlic, onion tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook until fragrant and soft
  5. Add the mussels, beer, and half of the parsley. Increase the heat to high, and cover the pan.
  6. After 2 minutes, remove the lid and toss the mussels well with a large spoon. Cover the pot again and cook until the mussels have opened wide, another 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Add the remaining parsley, a knob of butter and another splash of beer give the mussels a final toss, and divide the mussels and the broth among bowls or as Damien does in a large shared bowl or pot. Serve the bread alongside.

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Death_to_stock_Dinner_damo_10Thanks to Damien & DTTSP for recipe and images

 

Sanderson – Pure Evoke Mio digital radio launch

My husband and I have had several digital radios over the last few years, and I have left it up to him to choose the radio each time. Some have been sleek, but more often than not they are chunky looking and usually are black or dark shades. Not very inspiring! I was recently invited along to an event where designer fabric company Sanderson, in combination with technology company Pure celebrated the launch of a range of decidedly more aesthetically pleasing radios.

The radios have been designed to incorporate prints “Chelsea” a floral pattern and “Dandelion Clocks” with a more botanical feel, by leading British manufacturer of fabrics and wallpaper, Sanderson, which have a quintessential British feel to them.

The Floral Chelsea design has been in circulation since 1957, and is a Sanderson classic, with rose bouquets wrapping the Evoke Mio in a nostalgic floral print. I really like the delicate elegance this print offers to this otherwise modern device, and can see it sitting on my desk whilst I blog away.

The botanical design Dandelion Clocks was designed by Fiona Howard and launched in 2008. It is one of Sanderson’s best ever selling prints. I love the combination of contemporary design and the swinging sixties with its range of bold colours.

Both Pure and Sanderson champion styles in home design, which marry traditionally popular prints with a contemporary edge and this can be easily observed in the Evoke collection.

The Evoke Mio comes in two sizes, the D2 and D4, and both offer Bluetooth connectivity for ease of use and are made with high-quality components, hand tuned and built with wooden cabinets to enhance audio. Additionally the radios have aux input for an iPod/ MP3 player, alarm, sleep and snooze timers, high quality OLED display and a kitchen timer. There are optional rechargeable battery packs (for 12-20 hours play time depending on the model) should you wish to enjoy music whilst sipping tea outside.

The radios start at £149.99 and are available from John Lewis.

Recipe: Quorn Meat Free Chilli burgers with chipotle salsa

I recently attended the Quorn BBQ where I got to discover some new flavourful recipes for the summer! This is the first one, one of my favourites!

Serves 2 | 10 mins cooking time Z 426 cals per serving | 5.3g sat fat per serving

INGREDIENTS

  • FOR THE BURGER
  • 2 Quorn Chef’s Selection Classic Burgers
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 ciabatta roll
  • Handful of pea shoots
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp sliced red jalapeno peppers
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • CORN SALSA
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200g sweetcorn
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste, or to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh coriander, chopped

METHOD

  1. For the chipotle salsa heat the oil in a pan and cook the sweetcorn for 2 – 3 minutes or until just starting to brown, stir in the chipotle paste. Cool then stir in the coriander and tip into a serving dish.
  2. Lightly brush the burgers with a tsp of the oil and grill or BBQ for 8 – 10 minutes (as per back of pack instructions), turning frequently.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the ciabatta in half horizontally; brush the cut side with remaining oil and place under a hot grill or on the BBQ to toast.
  4. Place the pea shoots on the base of the bread, top with the Quorn burger and add some slices of red onion. Finish with jalapeno peppers before seasoning with freshly ground pepper.
  5. Serve with the corn chipotle salsa.

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Terrariums from The Urban Botanist

A terrarium is a practical, stylish and easy way to grow plants in your home. Rather like a an aquarium – but for plants instead of fish – these miniature eco-systems enable plants to thrive inside glass vessels without the mess and maintenance associated with traditional houseplant care.

Tapping into the terrarium trend, The Urban Botanist has created a stunning range of contemporary terrariums to suit all spaces – available as Fully Assembled, DIY Kits or Create Your Own (glass only).

Baby botanist

The Baby Botanist range is perfect for kids who are looking for their first foray into caring for plants. A single plant inside a small glass jar (straight or bulbous), simply remove from the box and enjoy!

Aztec

Evidence suggests some of the first terrariums originated from the Mexican and Mayan cultures. The Aztec collection has been defined to reflect this and is defined by strong geometric lines and shapes – perfect for adding a touch of green to a contemporary space.

Supersize

Want to create an impact in a larger space? The Supersize range embodies the same geometric aesthetic of the Aztec range but with terrariums of up to half a metre high.

Pacific

Curved glass and natural rope are the signature details of the Pacific range. Think rustic, organic and simple – evocative of the serenity and strength of the West Coast where the Urban Botanist originated (in Vancouver, BC).

Skyline

The Skyline collection is clean, urban and contemporary with the tranquility of a secret garden. The elegant teardrop, globe and cylinder designs will complement any living space and bring a calming influence to even the most hectic of modern day lives.

Seasonal

Don’t be put off by the name – a Seasonal terrarium isn’t just for Christmas! The Seasonal collection might be themed around our favourite festive decoration, the bauble – but you don’t need a Christmas tree to carry off these super-cute miniature plant globes. Some contain airplants and others dried natural items such as apple and orange slices, pine cones, acorns, cinnamon sticks or even dried baby tomatoes.

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Recipe: Meat free southern fried chicken burger & vegetable wrap

The yoghurt and lemon sauce for these meat free southern fried chicken burger wraps is zingy and fresh for a great flavour twist on the BBQ!

Serves 2 | 30 mins cooking time | 511 cals per serving | 1.5g sat fat per serving

INGREDIENTS

  • 250g Quorn Meat Free Southern Burgers
  • 1 small yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
  • 1 small red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
  • 1 small courgette, cut into batons
  • ½ red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) olive oil
  • ⅓ cup (83ml) low fat Greek style yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) lemon zest
  • 2 large wraps, warmed
  • 1 cup (250ml) rocket leaves

METHOD

Cook the Quorn Meat Free Southern Burgers according to the back of pack instructions.
Place peppers, courgette and onion on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Cook in a preheated oven at 220°C for 18 minutes.
Combine yoghurt and lemon zest, spread over each wrap. Place some rocket down the centre of the wraps, top with cooked vegetables and sliced Quorn Meat Free Southern Burgers, wrap to encase filling and serve.

TIP: Ready made Tzatziki can be substituted for the yoghurt and lemon.

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Interview: Tom Hart Dyke of Lullingstone World Garden

Lullingstone in Kent is home to the UK’s first World Garden, containing plants from around the globe, planted together in their respective countries of origin in a map inspired layout. It is the brain child of plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke who lived through a terrifying experience, and was inspired as a result to create something beautiful.

What was the inspiration for The World Garden?

June 16th 2000 when in captivity a teenage Colombian Guerrilla came over to me and threatened me with death!!! His AK-47 Gun inspired me to scribble plans for an embryonic World Garden in my diary.

Have you always had green fingers?

Since the age of three when my inspirational gardening Granny gave me a packet of carrot seeds and a trowel – I’ve never looked back!

What makes The World Garden special?

We have some 8,000 different taxa in the World Garden and what I’ve created showcases an eclectic biodiverse range of plants some of which have yet to be seen growing in the UK. Whilst also proving that plant hunting still continues to this day!

Who are your horticultural design idols/ inspiration?

My Dear Late Granny was my gardening inspiration as is Roy Lancaster – a legendary modern day plant hunter.

Do you have any personal favourites from The World Garden plants?

I love Puya raimondii (“The Queen of the Andes” – also the world’s tallest flower spike – originally from a collection I made in Bolivia; Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ – with it deliciously fragrant oily foliage and dazzling bi-coloured flowers OH and how can I forget the world’s smallest Gum Tree – Eucalyptus vernicosa – “The Varnished Gum” – originally collected by me in 1999 in SW Tasmania. All such fabulous characters!

How do you go about choosing a new addition to The World Garden?

Something that personally tickles my fancy, sometimes a well-known plant, furthermore a plant that is a floral emblem of a country/state/region etc. is important – such as the Californian Poppy.

What are your top tips for anyone wanting to start adding exotic plants to their gardens?

Just go for it, the world is your exotic oyster! Whatever conditions you have and size of your growing space – you’ll always be able to grow something exotic looking.

Take a look at my Day in Kent to see more photos of the World Garden.

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Review: Anker Portable External Battery

Running out of phone battery is such as hassle. Unless you have a power cable with you and a ready supply of electricity there’s nothing you can do to bring your phone back from the dead. I have had this problem many times, usually at blogger events where my phone has to go longer without charging than on a normal day. This is particularly painful when I am not sure how to get home and usually rely on my nice travel app to show me the way.

Having spent a day out in London with some bloggers for work a few weeks ago I decided to look into other options. One of the bloggers with me, Evelyn from MissyBlurKit, came fully prepared with a number of portable external batteries which saved the day as she kindly let me recharge my phone via her battery. Having decided never to go through that experience again I decided to invest in my own portable battery.

I did some research and with some guidance from my husband I settled on the Anker 2nd Gen Astro E5 16000mAh 2-Port (3A Output) Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank with PowerIQ™ Technology for £20.99 from Amazon. Described as Amazon’s #1 charging brand, Anker has a large range of portable batteries – I wanted to make sure I had one with a large capacity that wasn’t too bulky for carrying around with me on days when my phone might need a boost.

My Anker battery’s capacity of 16000mAh from its premium LG battery cells is impressive, being able to charge the iPad Air more than once, the Galaxy S5 four times, the iPhone 5s over seven times and other smartphones multiple times. I usually carry 2 phones, a camera and a kindle with me, so the fact that it can offer so much charging power is a big thing! The battery takes about 8-9 hours to recharge. Using it is simple – attach one end of the included Micro USB cable to the battery and plug the other into your device! It also comes with a handy carry case and a built in torch!

I really like the LED system which shows you how much power is left in the battery and lets you know when it is fully charged. I tend to keep it fully charged at all times just in case. As for being portable, the battery’s dimensions are 6.2 x 2.3 x 15 cm and at 308 g it does have some weight to it which means I really only have it with me when I foresee a long day (I like to avoid having a heavy handbag!)

All in all I really like the product, it certainly offers peace of mind when I am out and about! It has a simple and sleek design and is easy to use and monitor via the LEDs. I am awarding the Anker Portable External Battery 4 out of 5 stars and will continue to rely on it to keep my devices going!

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4stars

Review: Sephora Smoothing Body Scrub

Often I don’t have time for a ‘full service’ shower when I can pamper myself from head to foot, but when I do get the chance I like to include a body scrub in my routine to remove dead skin cells and generally ensure my skin is looking healthy and happy – especially in winter when it can look a bit dull!

Lucky for me my sister recently visited Paris for a few days and she popped into Sephora to pick up some goodies. She brought me back a collection including the Sephora Smoothing Body Scrub in vanilla. It is described as an exfoliating cleanser that leaves skin delightfully soft and scented, it has been dermatologist tested and the gentle formula suits all skin types. This is important for me as I find that some harsher products can strip my skin of moisture and leave it gasping for a drink.

Sephora says that this product is ultra luxurious – perfect for a longer more indulgent shower, and the formula gently cleanses, while effectively removing impurities for skin that looks and feels satiny smooth. I often find that body scrubs can feel a bit too gentle, I enjoy a more coarse scrub which I can ‘feel working’ and this product is certainly one of those. I get a great feeling of satisfaction having used this product as my skin feels soft and refreshed and the lovely rich vanilla fragrance makes this a real treat.

I have a soft spot for the Sephora brand (I was heart broken when they left the UK) and believe that the Smoothing Body Scrub has lived up to my high standards I set for their products. I recommend it to anyone looking to get softer, glowing skin. I happily award it 4 out of 5 stars.

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4stars

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Barbecuing with Quorn

As you know by now, I am a vegetarian, and when it comes to summer time nothing is more frustrating than being invited to a BBQ and not really have many options when it comes to food. I often find I have to bring my own Quorn options with me – but I am a pain because I always want mine to go onto the BBQ first to avoid  contact with meat!

I was very happy to have been invited to come along to Quorn’s summer BBQ event again this year – you might remember last year we enjoyed an evening in the sun in West London? You can see my post here.

This year we were at the newly opened London BBQ School based in Peckham, South East London, in an outdoor space with 4 monster ceramic BBQs. No messing about! Each BBQ was set up with a different recipe:

  • Chilli burgers with chipotle salsa
  • Sausage and vegetable sticky skewers
  • Southern fried chicken burger and roasted vegetable wrap
  • Swedish style meatball kebabs

I will share the full recipes in some later posts.

We were divided up into teams and got cracking on the recipes. They were all pretty quick and simple, although the ingredients were already to go unlike in my kitchen at home! Most of the recipes involved chopping of veggies, making of sauces and then putting it all together either with skewers, a bun or a wrap!

All the dishes were so tasty! Many of my fellow bloggers were surprised at just how flavourful the dishes were – Quorn is known to be a bit bland – but as someone who has enjoyed their products for over 10 years I was certainly not surprised at how good they were!

My favourite dishes were the chilli burgers (a revelation with a sweetcorn relish), and the southern fried chicken wraps which had a fantastic squeeze of lemon, giving it a great zing!

With Quorn mince coming in at 90% less fat, 50% less calories and with 500% more fibre than lean beef mince this is certainly a healthy option for anyone looking to have some healthy options during the week – even if you’re not vegetarian.

There’s great news for gluten avoiders and vegans as Quorn will be introducing products for both shortly.

I had a really great time cooking and eating at this year’s Quorn BBQ and I look forward to having more creative ideas for my BBQs from now on!

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Review: Dinner at Clerkenwell & Social

When I heard that there had been a new cocktail and pizza place open just across from where I work in London I knew I had to try it. Cocktails and pizza some of my favourite things! I went along to see what all the fuss was about with my sister to try out their food and drink and check out the interior. Clerkenwell & Social serves unique house infused cocktails made with home made bitters & syrups and hand-crafted pizzas situated in the heart of Clerkenwell in St John Square. They have a team of mixologists creating all sorts of  fantastical sounding (and looking) drinks from a wide range of mixers unique to the establishment.

On entering the venue my eyes darted all about spotting the quirky interior design. From neon on the walls to books hanging from the ceiling, and not forgetting the stylish succulents displayed in the window. I really like the look and feel of Clerkenwell & Social with it’s wooden furniture and hipster feel. Having found a table I browsed the cocktail and food menus whilst I waited for my sister to arrive. There is a good range of different drinks, most of them twists on classic cocktails with all sorts of interesting ingredients such as tarragon and cinnamon syrups as well as home made Louisiana style bourbon. We were lucky enough to have visited during 2for1 Cocktails Mon-Fri 5pm to 8pm.

For our first drink we tried the ‘Moby Kick’ – coffee flavoured rum, house infused triple sec and espresso shaken with a dash of home made cinnamon syrup. This cocktail was presented simply in a glass with coffee beans on top and was simply delicious. Perfect for any coffee lover! To go with our drinks I went for the ‘foraged spinach’ pizza made with tomato, mozzarella, foraged spinach, black olives, egg & parmesan. My sister went for the ‘Nduja’ pizza – tomato, mozzarella, spicy Nduja sausage & pancetta. The pizzas were of a generous size and we both really enjoyed the thin base and tasty toppings. You can’t beat a egg on a pizza!

We went on to try a number of other cocktails during the night including: ‘Much Ado About Rum’ dark rum infused with tamarind juice with molasses shaken with lemon juice and ice. This cocktail came served in a plant pot and garnished with a sugar cane! We also tried the ‘Pride & Passion’ Martini (vodka, passion fruit, home made vanilla syrup, lemon juice garnished with a passion fruit). I think this was very sweetly presented as the passion fruit on top looked like a little boat!

My far the most theatric cocktail was ‘Love is a smoke’ which I watched being prepared very closely! The cocktail is made with merlot, aperol & campari infused with home made Louisiana style bourbon and infused with smoked apple-wood chips! It was amazing watching the mixologist infuse the smoke into the drink. A real spectacle. I love how this cocktail was served in little goblet style glasses.

My sister and I very much enjoyed the unique atmosphere, cocktails and tasty food and award Clerkenwell & Social 5 out of 5 stars. I look forward to my next visit!

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5stars

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