In The Kitchen: 5 Essential Reads

For some people, cookbooks can seem like a little bit of a hassle. You buy them with good intention and then you look at the lists of ingredients and hours of preparation time required, and things go downhill from there. Instead, they sit gathering dust on the shelf and those wonderful recipes you envisioned never get made (except that one time… remember?). My mum springs to mind here, because growing up she always had a treasure chest full of books and magazines that lay dormant for “next weekend” she’d say. She is a PHENOMENAL cook might I add, so I guess she had no immediate need for those books but she would whip them out now and again have a quick read then they would go back to their nest, untouched. I’d read them in my spare time and I think visually, I started to appreciate food from there. I grew up to cooking with the aid of mum from around 8 years old and she taught me a hell of a lot, but my love of cookbooks and magazines shaped my creative flare for food and I’ve since loved to buy them myself.

Fast forward 15+ years and I’ll spend hours rummaging through book stores, charity shops and amazon looking for inspiration from my favourite chefs, food icons and influencers. Things have taken a huge shift since the 90s and earlier 00s in terms of what’s available out there on the market. Authors know people want speedy, fresh, flavourful food that can adapt to working family lifestyles and those on both a budget and timescale. More bloggers and health coaches who have made a name for themselves on the internet are creating recipes for their followers. More of us are opting for alternative diets; plant-based, vegetarianism, gluten free, dairy free. Recipe books are being released month after month offering up recipes as diverse as those who buy into them and I personally am thrilled by this. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a brand new read, you know?

So, I’ve taken my time and sifted through my collection and here’s 5 of the best. Not Without Cake champions the vegetarian diet, so there’s a mix of books aimed to keep our health and wellbeing in balance. I hope you’re inspired to go out and try some of these!

Amanda Brocket | The Raw Food Kitchen

My latest addition to the bookshelf is The Raw Food Kitchen which I picked up in one of my favourite homeware stores, Oliver Bonas. Amanda’s philosophy on food and health is really refreshing and she aims to make raw diets accessible and appealing. She manages to break down the meaning of eating ‘raw’ beyond fruits and vegetables, and talks about the benefits to the body, changes you’ll expect, ingredient lists and shares personal stories about her struggle with Candida and gut health. I can relate to this so I have enjoyed learning as I’ve flicked through the many beautifully photographed pages. She also goes into lengthy detail about variations on everyday foods we enjoy (as not to alienate readers) as well as adding a nifty little meal planner before delving into recipes.

If you’re on a new raw food journey and need some realistic inspiration, give this a try. Expect colourful salads, juices, snacks, stir-frys, ice-cream, breakfast foods and more.

Ottolenghi – Plenty More

Plenty More is the book I return to most often. It’s just one of a series of cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi and offers superb recipes and photography that focus on the humble vegetable with strong Mediterranean influence. In his introduction (so well written), he explains his journey to appreciating the vegetarian diet and his influences. Dishes are vibrant, daring and visually inviting, yet with minimal fuss. I think the pictures really speak for themselves! What’s nice is that every recipe introduction is a personal account referencing friends, colleagues and family.

If you get the chance, visit one of his restaurants and deli’s across London. Nopi is next on my hit list!

LEON – Ingredients & Recipes

An oldie but goodie. Londoners know the well-know chain that is LEON – offering naturally fast food and getting us through the hectic working week, but where did it all begin? This book focuses on the founders; Henry, John and Allegra who opened up the first branch in Carnaby Street mid 2004. This book is split into two halves essentially: the first touches on the A-Z of ingredients (this book includes meat and dairy) and the second is the recipe book. So for anyone wanting a thorough lesson in seasonality, sourcing, understanding ingredients, eating habits and local produce then this book will get you an A* grade.

As well as the retro visuals, smooth matte pages and colourful content, LEON does a wonderful job of sharing recipes from the LEON family and is not short on ideas or creative content. From hearty soups and stews, to superfood salads and puddings all in line with the LEON philosophy, there are recipes to see you through the seasons. Wholly worth the read.

Neal’s Yard Remedies – Healing Foods

I have a lot of love for this book. It is simply a fantastic curation of ingredients, recipes and knowledge on the power of foods to heal the body of ailments. It talks about dietary patterns, the western diet, seasonality and healthy supplements before going into an A-Z of ingredients and properties. Now, I thought I knew about food but this will educate even the most seasoned traveller and foodie out there!

Expect recipes from breakfast to dinner, snacks, condiments and a pretty clever recipe chooser which offers up a list of recipes from the book for specific problems like heart health or detoxing. All in all, a handy book that leaves no stone unturned. You’ll definitely reevaluate your next weekly shop!

Natasha Corrett | Honestly Healthy Cleanse

Alkaline, alkaline, alkaline. It’s the motto of this neat and tidy book from Natasha Corrett. It’s split into four sections: feel good, slim down, high energy and life changing – all designed to cleanse the body over a set amount of days – menu planner included. Natasha gently guides you though the rules of the cleanse, why our bodies should be more alkaline than acidic and answers common questions too. A quick ingredient list sets you up for the next few pages of simple, honest food that looks (and tastes) fab. I enjoy making recipes from this book and it’s one I pick up when I want a quick one week detox.

Summer Style: In Focus

It’s May and I’m so ready for summer! I’m wondering if I’ll get to pull out my stash of floaty fabrics gathering dust under the bed anytime soon? I guess during the warmer months, we tend to experiment a little more with our personal style. We veer away from monochrome and inject a pop of colour and personality into our attire. For me, I like to freshen up my look with understated jewellery, bold lip colours and varied textures in my day to day London life. 99% of the time this is a mix of vintage pieces and high street preppy. I also love to accessorise with a great pair of sunglasses! For some reason, most styles I try on suit me which is a great confidence boost but not so great for the purse strings, you know?! I’ve always enjoyed the freedom of style and since graduating in fashion journalism, I’m happy that I’ve been able to sustain both passions. One accessory I’ve always liked on other people and wanted to try out myself are fashion glasses – usually with non-prescriptive lenses. They really elevate a look into something effortlessly stylish and individual. Like a vintage bag or great pair of shoes, they instantly become the centre piece of the outfit and meaning you can essentially ‘build your look’ around this single item. Good news for those fashion conscious folk who are rushed for time!

Buying glasses online can be a challenge because you can’t always determine how they might look in person, but buying online is a smart and savvy way to find special offers and exclusive styles! It’s also a great place to find new online retailers, share with your friends and read genuine customer reviews. These super sleek Wayfarer frames from Glasses Shop are my new favourite accessory this spring/summer! The two-tone detail and shape really frame my face and the muted browns go with so many outfits without being OTT. Whether you like an eccentric Cat Eye or a squared oversized frame, there is a style to suit every taste. Their range of high quality, light and durable frames extend to prescription sunglasses too which are amazingly affordable, so you can get holiday ready in no time!

So why not make the most of 50% off your order? Use discount code GSHOT50 – includes free lenses! *Excludes sale items.

Glasses Shop offer customised lenses and coatings, and ship internationally so you don’t have to miss out on a stunning pair of cheap glasses this season!

*This post is in collaboration with Glasses Shop. Check out the full range online: www.glassesshop.com

A new way to travel

A place I know and love

Brighton is one of those places where I can disappear to every now and again and feel as though I’ve been well rested, even though it’s just a stone’s throw away from London. I like to travel, even if that means seeing a new city or town in the UK to satisfy the wanderlust. I love the instant change of pace, scenery, sea air and breezy beach walks that make you feel as though you’re abroad, and the nostalgic memories of arcade fun on the pier and inhaling the scent (and taste!) of fresh, sugary donuts. Heading there in a cold December was admitedly brave, but Brighton has never looked so lovely and it wasn’t full of the usual tourists either. Sometimes it really is the simple pleasures in life that mean the most.

On my last visit, I spent more time than usual in the North Laines, an ecletic quarter bursting with everything from quirky vintage shops, jewellers and Bohemian independent cafés to high street fashion/lifestyle brands, gastropubs and restaurant chains. It’s a gem of a place and I spent hours walking in and out of the busy streets, grazing, browsing and generally lusting over everything in sight. And it’s Brighton’s houses that have me wishing I lived in this sought-after city too… 

Home from home…

After months of eying up pretty instagram snaps of homes around the world I gave in to airbnb’s charm – a unique alternative to pricey chain hotels with the idea that homeowners let out a room or entire property to guests for holidays, business or leisure. The website enables you to navigate through almost 200 countries and cities for accommodation filtered down to style, size, location and price. Each property is listed with amenities and a description from the owner, details about your stay and additional ‘ground rules’. It didn’t take long for me to find my ideal flat in Hove which neighbors Brighton – light-filled, clean and styled with an old English decor. The payment process is simple, and both our host and airbnb kept regular communication until our arrival date. 

Our flat was located in a quiet, leafy suburb within walking distance from the town centre. We rented the entire top floor flat so our host was there to greet us and hand over the keys. The flat not only looked exactly like the photos, but our host was so welcoming and pretty laid back which was a surprise given she was leaving her place in new hands! She showed us around and was out the door with a hop, skip and a jump! “See you tomorrow!” she echoed and we were left to our own devices. But that’s when I realised I loved this idea. A home from home, without the restrictions or expectations of a hotel. The freedom and space to move around, come and go as we pleased and travel in a different way. I was inspired!

Old meets new

The flat was small but perfect for up to two people. There were so many lovely features, like the big sash windows, staircase, vintage furniture and pastel shades of cotton candy, cream and teal throughout. It was uncluttered and peaceful. Jo Malone room sprays were dotted around, a piano and a guitar, and green plants that added a freshness to the space. We spent two days there and had an incredible stay. For a first time trip, it met all expectations and I wouldn’t hesitate to try out airbnb again. I have a place in Europe on my agenda next, but the world is my oyster after all.

Set up an airbnb profile: www.airbnb.co.uk                   Visit Brighton North Laines: northlaine.co.uk

Asian coconut & veggie soup with wholewheat noodles

As soon as winter swings around, the British tradition is always to enjoy a few more warming home cooked meals that can be knocked up quickly without spending hours in the kitchen. For me, by the time January comes around I want to consciously eat cleaner, but still keep that element of comfort food for those cold nights! This recipe is one I created based on my appreciation of Asian flavours and the humble coconut and it also happens to be a brilliant way to use up the remainder of fresh veggies in the fridge come Sunday.

So, all you really need is 20 minutes spare in the evening and you’re good to go. The noodles really bulk out this soup, so it can easily serve 3-4 or if you’re cooking for one then divide out for the week. As with most of the recipes on here, adapt the heat/spice to your liking so if you want a milder flavour just use one chilli.

Serves 4 | Prep: 5 mins  Cooking: 15 mins

Ingredients: 

• 1 large carrot
• 1 small red bell pepper
• 2 spring onions
• 1 small white onion
• 2 green chillies
• 1 garlic clove
• 1 oxo vegetable stock cube or 1 tbsp bouillon powder
• 2 handfuls fresh or frozen green beans
• 200ml good quality coconut cream
• 300ml hot water
• 2 dried wheels of dried wholewheat noodles or rice noodles
• 1/2 tsp curry powder
• 1/2 tsp turmeric
• 1/2 tsp ground ginger
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp sesame oil
• Sea salt and black pepper

Step one: Prep the veggies. You’ll need to peel and cut the carrot into four even quarters and then slice finely length ways. Finely slice the onion, bell pepper and spring onions to even sizes. Crush the garlic clove.

Step two: Heat a large, deep saucepan on a medium heat with the olive oil. Add the garlic, chillies and onion and sweat for 2 minutes until softened.

Step three: Add the coconut cream and water, stir and simmer for 2 minutes before adding the spices, seasoning and stock cube.

Step four: Add the remaining veggies except the green beans. These cook the quickest and should be added last to retain the crunch and colour. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Step five: For the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the noodles and green beans and cook until soft. Serve hot and garnish a few spring onions and a drizzle of sesame oil.

zesty orange and almond cake with coconut frosting

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When I’m reading articles, magazines and watching cooking videos for inspiration and new techniques, I often come across this classic bake and I’ve been wanting to try it out for a while. The thing is, I’m not keen on orange within cooking so I was always put off making this myself – that was until I tried it at one of my favourite Lebanese restaurants in London – Comptoir Libanais. I was pleasantly surprised at how subtle the orange flavour actually was, so here is my variation on the delicious wheat and gluten free cake.

The thing I love about this cake is how simple it is to make and the moist, dense texture the ground almonds give once baked. If you want a healthy alternative to traditional sponge bases, then definitely give this zesty cake a try! The addition of coconut in the frosting takes the flavour to a new level, complimenting the fruity orange and nutty almonds.

I’m trying out a new 24mm lens here, so do let me know if you like the photo quality a little more!

Serves 8 | Prep: 15mins  Cooking: 40mins

For the cake:

• 200g demerera sugar
• 200g unsalted butter
• 150g ground almonds
• 150g fine polenta
• 3 eggs
• 1/2 baking powder
• Zest and juice of one whole orange

For the syrup:

• Juice from half an orange
• 1 tsp demerera sugar
• 2 tsp good quality runny honey
• 1/4 cup cold water
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:

• 180g tub soft cream cheese
• 1 tsp creamed coconut
• 1 tsp good quality runny honey
• 2 tbsp unsweetened desicated coconut

Step one: Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees. Line and greese a 20cm round tin and set aside.

Step two: In a mixer, blend the sugar and butter for 5 minutes until creamy. Add the eggs one by one.

Step three: Add the polenta, ground almonds and baking soda and whisk until well combined. Grate the orange zest in and add the juice before giving a final mix by hand.

Step four: Pour the mix evenly into the tin and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown and firm to touch.

Step five: In a small saucepan heat the water, orange juice, sugar and honey on a medium heat until reduced and coats the back of a spoon. This should take 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and set aside until the cake is cooked.

Step six: Whilst the cake is still hot, prick several times with a fork then pour the syrup over the cake and leave to cool.

Step seven: In a small bowl, mix all of the frosting ingredients together until smooth.

Step eight: Smooth the frosting evenly over the cake with a knife and sprinkle with orange zest. Cut into slices and serve cold.

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Salon du Chocolat

Is anyone else desperate for the weekend? A repeat of last weekend would be greatly appreciated and might just give me a little motivation to reach Friday! For the third year, The Chocolate Show returned to West London’s Olympia National for the UK’s biggest chocolate event. Three days of pure indulgence from 16th – 18th October. I’d never been before, but this year I thought I’d end Chocolate Week on a high and give my usual Sunday activities a miss. I quite enjoy these kind of exhibitions with various stalls and interesting things to look at and of course try – there’s always a real excitement in the air.

The event itself was teaming with people, from couples and families, to bloggers, students and tourists armed with their Canons and mouths full. There was a press room in one corner and a fashion show on the other. Who ever knew clothes could be made out of chocolate!?  I spent the afternoon milling around watching live demonstrations, trying decadent chocolates and sweets and learnt about the chocolate making process from bean to bar. I tasted liquid chocolate from a tap (literally!), tried Magnum’s brand new premium range, talked with several international vendors and generally soaked up the atmosphere!

A few stand out places included the insanely good salted caramel brownie from Bad Brownie (pictured above), one of my favourite French brands Valrhona, the beautifully packaged Rococo Chocolate and every travellers essential read, Food and Travel Magazine. It was an insightful day to say the least and for the avid chocolate lover, it’s definitely worth the £12.50 ticket whether you want to learn more about the craft or just experience a different side of London’s food culture. Here’s a few snaps from the day… enjoy!

Time Out? Not Quite

Can you believe it’s October? Cue the search for autumnal knits, impending winter blues and the transition into much chillier mornings! The past three months have honestly flown by and proved to be one of the biggest tests of character and determination in my adult life. From exciting career ventures to new writing opportunities, the years of hard work as a graduate trying to find direction and stability in the ‘big smoke’ seem to finally be paying off (mini fist pump!). Who knew I’d be creating content and leading social media for some of London’s biggest restaurants? I certainly feel the pressure but more so, I feel privileged.

I dabbled in the thought of food/lifestyle writing but never thought it would happen considering I studied a fashion orientated course. But this blog was just the start of me living out my real passions – food, writing and photography. I get to write about food and drink across social media for most of my day, attend ridiculous events and be a part of creative and business decisions. I’m not stuck to my office chair or a uniform all day and I work in a creative part of the city. Yes it’s fast paced and demanding, but then I remember I’m 24 and this is just the beginning. Working in the media/creative industry is always going to be challenging (especially for a female with an ethnic background, unfortunately) but it’s what I live for and it’s what I’ll always strive to do.

I’m currently involved with something else that came as a great surprise. I became a Timeout London Tastemaker. Essentially, it’s an ‘exclusive club’ for a select few, from budding writers and culture enthusiasts, to foodies and students in this vibrant city. For writing weekly reviews on the website, we get freebies and tickets for theatre shows, gigs, film screenings, cultural events and such like. For someone like me who reads the magazine religiously every Tuesday (guilty pleasure), its pretty amazing to be writing for the website and readers. It’s wholly voluntary so we don’t get paid by Timeout and there’s an application process involved, but it certainly is nice to be affiliated with such a huge name and be a part of the TOT squad. I’m always darting around the city trying new restaurants, pop ups, bars, shops and art galleries with friends so for me it’s an ideal way to incorporate my hobbies with my love for creative writing. It means my Canon never leaves my side and has inspired me to feature a shiny new ‘Review’ section on Not Without Cake coming very soon! So, no time out for me anytime soon but I’m embracing the journey. Stay with me x

 

Stockholm travel diary: A city of food & culture

I couldn’t go abroad and not document my foodie adventures. Of course for this here blog, but also because I genuinely love food/lifestyle photography. It’s a great way to savour memories and it’s an instant conversation starter, too. There’s something more exciting about eating out on holiday that differs from here in London and the UK generally; the curiosity of not knowing what you’ll find and I suppose the freedom to chose whatever you want, whenever you want without any preconceptions. The choice to plan and dress up for a special dinner, or have an impromtu pit stop as you explore. It’s also things like the hospitality and service, the menu, social surrounding and the satisfaction (hopefully) of giving that new discovery a thumbs up afterwards.

Over the course of our four days in Stockholm, we actually tried quite a few different cuisines. From traditional Swedish/European breakfast food, to authentic Italian lunches and flavour-packed Indian dinners. Amongst all of that, we discovered bakeries, fruit and veg markets, quaint coffee and dessert cafes and some of the best pistachio ice-cream I’ve ever indulged in. I’d done my research before heading out, so there were a few places I just had to tick off my to-do list. Here’s a few of my favourite spots across the city that’ll take you from dusk til dawn.

Broms – Karlaplan

Chokladkoppen – Gamla Stan (Old Town)

Hötorget (Haymarket Square) – Norrmalm

Vapiano – Sturegatan, Östermalm

Fabrique – Drottninggatan

Stockholm travel diary: Hotel Hellsten

For the last year, Sweden has been on my hit-list of countries to visit, so when my other half booked us a trip there this July for my birthday, I was ecstatic. We headed to the capital, Stockholm, for four incredible days and it certainly lived up to my expectations. The city has such a cool and attractive aesthetic; from the building designs, to the high street fashion, cafe culture and street style. Although it’s built of many islands and surrounded by water (which is pretty breathtaking!) amongst the lush greenery I noticed there were many similarities to big cities like London, New York, Paris and Berlin which carried a nice sense of familiarity, yet there were many elements that set Stockholm apart. I couldn’t wait to explore!

We stayed in the Vasastan area of Stockholm, close to neighboring areas Norrmalm and Ostermalm, and our hotel was about a 15 minute walk from Central Station (or two stops on the underground) on Luntmakargatan 68. Like my Prague travel diary, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the hotel itself. Hotel Hellsten is a boutique hotel housed in a 19th century building with a relatively compact, homely feel. There was a mix of antique and modern furniture dotted around. Initially, the staff were so attentive and a speedy check in meant no time wasted. The communal areas off the reception included a ‘living room’ seating area with unlimited free fresh coffee and tea (this seemed to be the done thing in Stockholm!), an eclectic cocktail bar and a small glass-enclosed breakfast room to the back of the property where there was also a courtyard with seating. What I loved most was the unusual nooks and crannies that gave the hotel so much character.

We stayed on the top 5th floor in a ‘Single Lit Room’ which is essentially a small double room. But what a room! They have a range of others, including superior rooms and suites, but this was perfect for our needs. Everything matched the hotel theme perfectly. Exposed brick walls, floor length curtains, high ceilings, real wood flooring and an incredible distressed wooden bed frame. It was all quite romantic. The bathroom was neat with a walk in shower and grey slate tiles – dreamy! Luckily for us, our room had the ideal spot to see the glowing sunset and rooftops each night, too.

Of our three nights there, I had no complaints. There was no noise from other guests, housekeeping was faultless and the room also had free wifi. The little touches throughout the hotel also made it special, from the piano in the Hellsten Earth Bar to the candlelit candelabra in the living room and old fashioned bookshelf. The breakfast spread was sufficient although some things weren’t to my to taste. We spent every day and evening out so we’d have lunch and dinner around the city, which is how we usually spend our holidays. I would definitely stay here again and recommend it to city travellers; it’s convenient, clean and unique in style. And if you’re anything like me and enjoy a good photo opp, then it’s very photogenic!

Honey Glazed Carrot, Roasted Red Onion, Feta & Spinach Salad

Admittedly, I’ve had a few weeks off from blogging. It’s been a busy old month, in every sense, but a good one at that. It’s always nice to catch up with old friends, venture out of the insanity of London, try new things and spend time setting Summer goals. And, along with the improving weather comes renewed energy and inspiration for this here blog.

Since the Bank Holiday festivities are in full swing and it’s the last day of National Vegetarian Week 2015, I figured a summery salad dish would be fitting for impromptu BBQ’s and friendly gatherings. We all love a bit of al fresco dining and this dish is perfect sharing food as an accompaniment to other side dishes and mains. Or, if you’re anything like me, you’ll devour this alone with some crusty bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar! I find this is best eaten whilst the roasted veggies are still warm and fragrant as a contrast to the cold spinach leaves and crumbly feta cheese. You could also add toasted pumpkin seeds or roasted cherry tomatoes for a slightly different variation on this salad.

Serves 2 – 4 | Prep: 10 mins  Cooking: 30-35 mins

For the roasted veg:

  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 tbsp good quality runny honey
  • 1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs (e.g thyme, rosemary, basil)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 80g baby spinach leaves
  • 50g crumbly feta cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • Olive oil

Step one: Pre-heat your oven at 175 degrees. Peel, half and then quarter the carrots. You should get 8 even sized pieces from each carrot. In a similar way, half and quarter the onion so you have small wedge shapes.

Step two: Line a baking tray with baking paper. Add the veg and coat evenly in olive oil, seasoning, cumin and mixed herbs. Bake for approx 25 mins.

Step three: At this stage, drizzle the honey over the veg and return to the oven for a final 10 mins. You want a deep brown caramelised colour on the carrots and onions. Take them out of the oven and set aside whilst you assemble the salad ingredients.

Step four: On a large serving plate or mixing bowl, add the spinach leaves, crumbled feta and warm veg (plus any sweet honey juices!). Dress the salad with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh lemon juice before serving.

*This will keep for two days in the fridge, but is best eaten on the same day it’s made.