Wednesday 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all have fun spooky things planned for today! I've not gotten round to carving a pumpkin this year, but we have been to an awesome Halloween party at Lovely Liz's house, and I've baked Halloween cupcakes for our friends wedding today. :-)

I spent a bit of yesterday baking and icing with orange buttercream these
Honey & Spice cupcakes...they're from a lovely recipe book I got for my birthday from my lovely mother-in-law, which has 1001 recipes for cakes (heaven!!). The flavourings are of the title; pure clear honey & allspice; I thought that sounded nice and autumnal/halloweeny. I used a real vanilla pod to flavour the butter icing, added orange food colouring & orange/black sugar pearls for simple decoration.

I'm really pleased with how my piping turned out. I've recently started using the blue plastic throwaway piping bags & they are insanely good. I buy in bulk from eBay & I have to say they beat any other piping bag I've ever used. Also have a large star nozzle now, which I'm finding gives much better results.

I hope the cupcakes go down well today at the wedding!

Congratulations Mr & Mrs Cooper-to-be! I know it's going to be a lovely day.

Said recipe book....

Just out of the oven...waiting for buttercream! 

Orange buttercream & halloween sugar pearls. :-)

boxed & ready for the wedding :-)

Halloween Party....

On Saturday hubby & I ventured out to our marvellous friend Liz's house for a Halloween party & had so much fun! Liz had decorated her lovely home, with gorgeous homemade orange & black pom poms, and halloweeny bits, supplied a "blood bar" where she dished out her scrummy warm butter beer lethal punch and put out an amazing spread of food including hot dogs, chilli & rice, homemade corn bread, nachos, red velvet cupcakes, individual chocolate trifles, and homemade chocolate frogs (Harry Potter stylee!) WOW it was all so delicious & we felt very spoilt!
Here's a few pics of the party... (Look at my spooky eyes!!!)


The "Blood Bar"

Red Velvet cupcakes, RIP cupcakes, spiderweb cupcakes & homemade Chocolate Frogs! 

Lovely Liz

Halloween Fireplace!

Look into my eyes!

Our lovely vegetarian friend Lisa in her meat outfit! Brilliant!

Lovely hubby as "Where's Wally from the Halloween special" (his words!)

Homemade Chocolate Frog (yay - you can see my Batman Rara skirt in the background - awesome huh?)



Tuesday 30 October 2012

Lace lace lace...

I am in love with lace.

It's a really big trend this autumn; and's just stunning. It's delicate, intricate, vintage & feminine; so of course I adore it!

I've been having a good old rummage around on Etsy & Pinterest this week for lots of lace lovelies...and here are a few to share with you. Some clothing, shoes, accessories, home stuff, nightwear/lingerie. All available to purchase on (the homemade & vintage online store).

That is all.

Lucy xxx
vintage lace socks

gorgeous lace envelope

lace and burlap favour/jewellery bags

gorgeous black lace lingerie

i am definitely wrapping my xmas gifts like this

lace shoes!!

lace boots!!

gorgeous splash of colour

burlap and lace bunting - love this

lace gloves

cream lace bunting

burlap and lace place settings

lace garters - aren't these the prettiest garters you've ever seen??

lace bridal shoes

stunning lace scarf

original vintage lace dressing gown

vintage lace earrings

a lace pocket - beautiful detail in plain clothing

lace scarf with coral flowers, in love with this!

lace shawl

lace mason jars for candles - stunning

lace and pearl iphone case

absolutely awesome lace skirt - i want this! 

Do all you lovelies love lace as much as me??
Lots of love

Saturday 27 October 2012

Bistro Night @ The Cheese Kitchen

As a special Friday night treat (and to cheer me up as my back is so sore & its driving me nuts being stuck indoors)...My Mr took me out to The Cheese Kitchen on Castle Road in Bedford last night. 

They have recently opened a second premises next door but one, which is now the deli/cheese room and so have been able to turn what was their deli into a 'bistro' with around five tables, which I'm pleased to say is now open on Friday and Saturday nights from 7:00pm, offering a full 3-course menu. 

We were lucky enough to be their first Friday-night diners, and what a treat it was!!

We were welcomed by the lovely Helen and Justin, and looked after incredibly well by our lovely waitress who was just the right amount of smiley, polite and attentive. It wasn't long before we were introduced to the very dashing chef Joris, he is a Parisian whose passion for his food and great quality produce is infectious! He asked if we had any allergies or any foods we really disliked, to ensure we had the best experience possible. We felt special and utterly spoilt from the moment we walked in. The small and intimate atmosphere is very romantic, the soft candlelight, delicious smells from the kitchen & the 2 bottles of Prosecco we drunk definitely added to the ambience! 

We were instantly bought a basket of delicious brown and white bread with a decadently salty butter, which was fantastic as we were very hungry. Next, we chose and were served our wine, which was reasonably priced at £14.95 per bottle, although a house white or red was even more reasonable at around £10 per bottle. Then, most exciting part of the evening - we were given our menus. There are two choices for the starter and main courses (one meat/fish based, one vegetarian) and it was so exciting to know there was little choice, which to me means that the dishes on offer would be very well thought out and cooked to the highest standard - we were not disappointed.

Our choices:
Starter: Poached Cod - with cod cake, sweet aioli and parsley oil
Main: Duck - confit of leg and pan fried breast, Date puree, fennel and crispy polenta
Dessert: Tidied Strawberry Eaton Mess - strawberries, meringue and vanilla cream
Cheese Board - to share

A few minutes after our order was taken we were presented with an amuse-bouche from chef Joris (The term is French, literally translated to "mouth amuser", and is designed to wake up the taste buds before your first course arrives). What a lovely surprise! What a joy to receive an unexpected course! It was an absolutely exquisite pumpkin and roast chestnut soup, served with a swirl of bacon-infused cream (what can be better than anything infused with bacon??) all presented in a munchkin pumpkin shell. So beautiful, so full of deep flavour and subtle sweetness - a PERFECT start to the meal. 

Next came our cod starters (my husbands favourite course of the night!) ... a lusciously meaty, yet delicate and perfectly moist, flaky piece of cod, served on a crispy fried cod cake, which cut through the freshness of the fish perfectly, making the dish feel wholesome, filling, and giving it that edge of decadence only fried-food can! The aioli and parsley oil and hint of lemon in the sauces complimented the fish and added unbelievable flavour to this dish. We were seriously bereft upon taking our last mouthfuls - the sort of food you never want to end. 

How could chef Joris top this...had he peeked too soon we wondered? No need to worry, as the duck (my favourite course) had just as much to offer its eaters as the first course. The duck breast was pink and juicy, plump and full of the sweetness and spicy tones you expect from a decent breast of duck. The confit (my personal highlight) was just exquisite; so tender, so full of flavour that you can only get from duck fat! The meat was accompanied by crispy polenta (a new favourite of mine, I've now had polenta on 3-4 occasions and most definitely am going to start experimenting with it in my own kitchen) which was soft and tender in the centre with a perfect crust; to me it has much more to offer in terms of flavour than potato - and who can resist that bright sunshine colour on your plate? A first for me last night was trying the fennel, which was expertly poached and then pan fried (to dull the strong aniseed flavour down so that it perfectly complimented every part of the dish, according to Chef Joris) and how right he was - it was put simply; just scrummy! The fig puree bought the whole dish together and just made it sing! Slightly less sweet & pungent than the usual plum sauce you would expect with duck; the fig was an earthier flavour with just the right amount of sweet and saltiness to make this dish rise above other duck dishes I've tried.

Yes...we still had room for pudding, and what a delightful offering it was. What more could you want, cream flavoured with real vanilla pod seeds (is there anything better than seeing those little black specks of loveliness??), shards of sickly sweet meringue (mmmmmm) and fresh, juicy, sweet strawberries with a gorgeous compote to boot! A perfect nod to a little English heritage (Eton), while presenting it as less of a mess and more a michelin-style pud to be proud of! ;-)

Finally (and purely because we were at The Cheese Kitchen you understand!) we indulged in a cheese board to share. How could we not eat cheese at The Cheese Kitchen, it would be sacrilege not to! We were served a beautifully soft and creamy Somerset Brie, a rich Oxfordshire Blue, and a with oaty crackers; a perfect end to a truly splendid meal. 

I have to say for the quality of the food, the complexity of flavour, the warm and efficient service, all in a sweet and intimate environment, and just a stones throw away (almost!) from our front door, we were elated to discover this little gem of a place; and will most definitely be returning & waxing lyrical to all who will listen about our experience. 

The whole meal came in at we think a very reasonable £76 (this included two bottles of Prosecco at £14.95 a bottle)....faultless. I have to say that each course was small-ish in size but perfectly formed, and I would recommend going whole heartedly into a full three courses (or more!) if your budget allows. We came away pleasantly full - but had we had just one or two courses we may well have come away feeling a little peckish. Go for it, treat know you deserve it!

And all you ladies will be rushing back just to get a 'hit' of Chef Joris' Parisian accent and dashing good looks ;-) Trust me.....


Lucy xxxx

wise words from Alain Ducasse on The Cheese Kitchen menu! 


Friday 19 October 2012

My silly Mr...

I'm stuck at home feeling very sorry for myself with a very painful back problem that's driving me nuts, and my silly husband always manages to put a smile on my face somehow! This week it was a genius picture sent during the work day, using part of his lunch as a prop!!!! I laughed so hard. It is definitely the little things in life that you can take for granted, like the efforts of people you love trying to cheer you up on a gloomy day!

I'm reading a book at the moment which I would highly recommend called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and in it she describes her journey of discovery when trying to become happier in all elements of her self-admitted already fairly happy life. It very much inspires the reader to do the same, no matter how happy, or unhappy you might feel, there is always room for improvement. And one of the things she suggests is to give silliness a try.

And do you know what, she's got a point...

I live with Mr Silly himself, and he's certainly taught me a thing or two about happiness.

So here's his latest silliness to share with you all....

(he's obviously VERY busy at work, while sometimes squeezing in time to arrange silly photos, you understand!)

Lucy xxxx

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Fun Family Day Out at LONDON ZOO

At the weekend my hubby & I headed out for the day to London Zoo. I hadn't been there since I was a wee one & I was surprised at just how much fun I had. We went with my hubby's parents, brother & brother's girlfriend, who was our amazing guide for the day. She knows so much about animals & seemed to know the zoo like the back of her hand.

We got a really good deal through National Rail and got 2 for 1 entry when we showed our train tickets! What a bargain!

We walked round all day & literally didn't miss a single animal. I got lots of nice pics I thought I'd share with you guys.

My favourite animals were:
Spider monkeys
Sea horses
Tiny yellow frogs
All aquarium fish! :-)

It really was such a fun family day out & I would recommend it to anyone who fancied something a bit different. We didn't have any children with us & still had a great day out.

You'll need good walking legs though as the only down side to the day was the immense back pain I'm suffering from at the moment, which made the walking very uncomfortable at times. :-(

Ho hum...will hopefully get to the bottom of that issue soon, as have my MRI scan tomorrow! Don't let that put you off, all you healthy peeps with backs that aren't damaged can definitely manage a gentle amble around a zoo! :-)

That's all for now!

Enjoy the pics....

Lucy xxx