Bill’s Restaurant – Hammersmith, London.

In the words of ‘Bill’ himself: “Breakfast to bedtime” is the perfect time of the day to head out for generous portions of classic, well cooked, and perfectly styled comfort food..

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries

Joanna and I can confirm this:

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries guacamole

We had actually gone to Bill’s specifically to try the fish and chips that our friends of friends had spoken about (that was my ulterior motive, anyway), but the fish pie, avocado salad and about a dozen other things off of the menu succeeded in tempting us big time…

However, it eventually ended up being the burgers, a gorgeous batch of seasoned sweet potato fries with guacamole and/or halloumi that won us over. Guac wins.

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries

The menu is huge! There are so many different kinds of dishes. And, we all know that if you’re in a proper fish mood, then the starter of crispy battered squid probably won’t do, and it definitely isn’t going to be the right time to try the 10oz rib-eye steak. Or, if you’re craving chips…then you simply can’t go for the mac and cheese – because pasta when you’re in a chips mood is a  no-no unless you have them together. And, then, you have to choose between the skinny, regular, or sweet potato fries. Gah. And lastly, it is quite unacceptable to order a green salad in the same restaurant that sells a range of burgers, beer battered cod and ribs. This is a non negotiable rule of mine: It cannot be done. Ever.

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries

 Indecisiveness kind of plagues this place…but I guess that’s the inevitable curse of variety, good food, and the enthusiastic 2 foodies with the DSLR and candles on the table X…

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries

 

BUT HEY: apparently Joanna has a remedy for indecision. My oh-so amazing best friend has kindly begun to “restaurant train” me. It’s her new routine of not letting me speak/get up from the table or go to the loo unless i’ve decided on something to order, and she convinced enough that there’s zero chance of  me swaying from my choice until we see our waiter again.  Only the truest of friends could handle indecisiveness so gently… (I promise that we aren’t as ‘special’ as we sound…)

BREAD AND OLIVE OIL FOR STARTERS:

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries olive oil pitta dip

- And how does one even begin to describe the fabulousness of Bills’ grunge-like, workshop-style decor?!

Inside bills restaurant cafe hammersmith Inside bills restaurant cafe hammersmith

Once our meal arrived one of the waiters hilariously managed to drop a bowl of fries as he neared the table. We weren’t at all mad! But we got to keep the ones that survived, and enjoyed the second pile of ‘on the house’ make-up fries that swiftly followed. Win.

Joanna was Mrs. Halloumi that evening:

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries halloumi

I actually had to ask her what halloumi even was (a genuine Q by an out-of the-loop foodie). Her response was this:

“It’s cheese. But it’s weird…because, when you bite into it, you can kind of hear it…squeak”.

…I just left her to it.

Later, the dessert menu seemed to require more commitment than we were ready for…Pecan pie…blueberry cheesecake…Eton Mess…yeah, you get the picture. #DecisionSOS.

If anything, Bills prove that your otherwise firmly “favourite” dishes can be impossible to pick between.

…And Bill’s also reminds you just how great Christmas can lights look on a summers evening:

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries fairy lights Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries

We went out to think about dessert and ended up buying frozen yogurt topped with mountains of mini white and pink marshmallows and fudge brownie bites from somwehere 40 minutes away instead.  Thank you Westfield for my first Snog <3 (Although I am still pretty mad at you for housing a broken peanut butter machine, and won’t be forgetting this giant let-down any time soon </3).

BILL’s: we will be back very soon for your pecan pie, blueberry buttermilk pancakes AND your afternoon tea (and your beer battered cod)  – and we cannot wait!

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries napkin

Bill's cafe and restaurant hammersmith burgers fries sweet potato fries

xox

Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze

“The intimate space of your personal life should be reserved only for amazing, beautiful, and radiant souls – those good, wholesome, and loving people…”– Bryant McGill

Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze

What is it with time?

One moment, you find yourself looking at the vast future ahead of you. There is the now, and there is the then…merely an ocean of unravelled time separates these 2 places from each other…and you are perfectly okay with this, since you hold the world in your hands. Time is everything. Time gives you the space to do whatever you please…

But in the next moment you find yourself looking back – yet suddenly, everything has already happened. The ocean of time has disappeared; the scenery has changed. You don’t even remember sailing it. It just rolled away. Chances have gone, and the future still proves impossible to keep up with…you’d like to sit back and reflect a little. But time just keeps moving. You don’t like the pace, but you’ve already learned that time waits for no-one; it carries you away anyway.  Nonetheless, you carry on trusting time to suit you, time and time again…

On a small scale, this could be seen as the beginning and the end of a good song. At first you are excited to hear it, and when you actually listen to it, you just feel happiness – the moment. But the song crawls by slowly, and before you even realize where it was taking you, it comes to an end. Sure, you could hit repeat. But those first 3 minutes can never be recovered.  Everything around you will have changed a little bit more with every round of repeat, the only trace that ‘time’ ever existed is the difference between who you were then, and who you are now.

The seasons will come and go every year, but they will never see the same world.  Between the beginning and end of this cycle we find joy, decisions, unexpectedness, and bad news – life.

Time = a tunnel. A beginning and an end filled with oblivion. And it passes. Quick.

I know that my obsession with time is borderline psychotic. But IT ISS JUST SO COOL. It makes me feel all philosophical. I believe that anyone who appreciates the passing of time gets to see their trajectory throughout this vast freaking universe. And considering the size of it – that’s actually pretty cool.  Everyone likes to feel a sense of purpose. And pretty much everyone wonders why time goes so ridiculously fast too! Term time starts in 2 weeks. I could have sworn that just last week I had 4 months of holiday ahead.

And do you know what everyone else likes too?

SCONES!

Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze

Strawberry scones specifically…

Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze

They are quite different from traditional all butter scones (given that they were half made with yogurt), and thanks to the strawberries, they were sweet enough without any extra jam + clotted cream. But we called them scones, topped them with egg wash, vanilla glazing, and almonds, before eating them as if they were regular scones anyway. And they were brilliant.

Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze

Scones are amazing:

Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze

Scone ingredients:

  • 3 C flour
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ C (1 stick) salted butter
  • 1 C yogurt/buttermilk (I used yogurt)
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • 1.5 C strawberries, chopped.

Egg wash:

  • 1 large beaten egg.
  • 1 teaspoon/splash of milk.
  • 2 tbsp sugar.

For the glaze:

  • 2 C icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp milk (some recipes write 2, but I didn’t think this was enough)
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • Pinch of salt.
  • ½ C sliced almonds, toasted (in an oven at 180*C for 8 minutes)

Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400F, line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter in small cubes and work into the mixture (you may need to use your hands) until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the milk + egg, and sugar (this is for the egg wash)
  4. Fold in the yogurt + chopped strawberries to the dry scone ingredients.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough into large mounds (about 12-16) onto the baking sheets. Brush with the egg wash and sugar.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking back, and removing when they are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
  7. To prepare glaze, in a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the buttermilk, almond extract, and salt. Drizzle scones with the glaze, and then top with the almonds (they should stick). Let dry for 10 minutes before serving. Scones are best when fresh.

Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze

The smell will tease you for 35 minutes but the wait is so worth it. Enjoy ASAP.

Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze Strawberry Scones with Almond GlazeStrawberry Scones with Almond Glaze Strawberry Scones with Almond Glaze

~ The time keeper x

“When in doubt –  ingest carbs” — Rachel Cohn

Deep Filled Sour Cream Blueberry Pie Bars

“In spite of her desire for a contained universe, her life felt scattered and full of many small moments without great purpose. Although this was only what she thought, it’s what is most untrustworthy about our natures and self-worth – our own realities always differ from the way that we are seen by others...”

― Michael Ondaatje, Divisadero

Blueberry pie sour cream bars Blueberry pie sour cream bars

You might recognize these lovely looking treats from when the first lit up my instagram about 4 weeks ago, but the truth is that these blueberry pie bars have actually been kept under wraps for quite some time now…

blueberries

Blueberry pie sour cream bars Blueberry pie sour cream bars

Procrastination can certainly be a horrible thing, but rest assured; the recipe is here to stay…

Batches of blueberries and heaps of crumble are about to gather and grace your screens with some big time deliciousness.

I present to you, the most fabulous “square pie” ever! (Well, rectangle…)

They are utterly amazing:

Blueberry pie sour cream bars Blueberry pie sour cream bars Blueberry pie sour cream bars

Just look at that clean cut cross section…Just look at it! It is perfection of the most high. Slicing through these was an utterly therapeutic experience, since they have such an amazingly moist, yet firm texture filled with tart, creamy fruitiness. The sour cream makes these bars extremely refreshing, and their yogurt like taste compliments a big cup of breakfast tea too…

These beautiful blueberry pies bars took just under an hour to cook through and twice that to cut them. The wait was so worth it…I think I’m really starting to get over my *continuously peeking into the oven* addiction – baking time keeps getting faster! (To the delight of my inability to be patient).

Blueberry pie sour cream bars

A few days later when I took these into work, morning munch was 100% sorted (and highly rated!)…

And although I really enjoyed them with a dollop of thick Greek yogurt + some cinnamon for breakfast (with some milky tea on the side, per standard), my brother still insists that a double/triple portion with a jug of hot, thick custard for dessert = the best way to enjoy them…Each to their own. These babies went down so well.

The aftermath of these bars is nowhere near as adventurous. Since these squares have disappeared from the fridge, my new bad habit has resorted to being mixing cereal with chocolate chunks for a snack… We all miss these bars!

Blueberry pie sour cream bars

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs/3 small
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream/thick Greek yogurt.
  • ¼ C flour
  • pinch salt
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • ~3.5 cups fresh blueberries

blueberries

Crust/topping ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • ¾ c unsalted butter, chilled + Cubed.

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease/line an 8×8-inch pan.
  2. For the crust: combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.  Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add it to this mixture.  Process until the butter is evenly distributed but the mixture is still crumbly (about 30 to 60 seconds).
  3. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of the mixture for the topping; and set it aside.  Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. For the filling, whisk the eggs in a large bowl, and then add the sugar, sour cream, flour, and almond extract.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Spoon the filling over the crust and sprinkle the reserved topping mixture evenly over the filling.
  5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until top turns golden brown. Wait for 1 hour before cutting and serving or serve out of pan cobbler style.
  6. Yield: 16 bars

Blueberry pie sour cream bars Blueberry pie sour cream bars Blueberry pie sour cream bars

Until next time…

Have a great week!

 “In geometry, whenever we had to find the area of a circle, pi * radius squared, I would get really hungry for pie. Square pie.”

― Dan Florence, Zombies Love Pizza

Blueberry pie sour cream bars Blueberry pie sour cream bars blueberries Blueberry pie sour cream bars

Tash x

The Breakfast Club Soho – Birthday Breakfast

“Does trust have to be earned. Or is it simply a matter of faith?” 
― Nicholas Sparks, At First Sight

Firstly, I can’t believe that it’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve posted something up on here – time is flying so quickly. I decided to give myself a blogging break over my ‘birthday week’ to just enjoy the food, music and photo’s without any pressure to write it all down as fast as possible…and it has been worth it. So, here is the first of three posts in tribute to my final year as a teenager…my fabulous little birthday week (making use of hash-tags wherever possible)

University re-starts exactly one month today. Opinions about this remain mixed… #SoNotReady.

Le birthday morning was lovely, however. I woke up at about 6:30am, way before everyone else – I realized that I can’t remember a birthday where it hasn’t been sunny, and that’s how I was confident that it wasn’t going to rain. #ProfessionalGeographer.

A while later, I went downstairs to find my youngest brother on the living room carpet in his pyjamas, attempting to iron his ‘casual-smart’ trousers so that he could “look nice” for “my birthday breakfast”…. I just wanted to hug him; it was a ridiculously cute (if hopeless) sighting that he definitely won’t be living down any time soon. Then, after pulling the other bro out of bed so hard that he actually managed to hit the floor, we went out to get stuffed with BIRTHDAY PANCAKES at the breakfast club in Soho. #DayMade.

IMG_6034The breakfast club soho pancakes

Despite getting there well before 10am, we still had a 35 minute wait or so. The queue got bigger and bigger during this time, so that by the time we left it had tripled in size. We found it funny how even though central London is utterly deserted in the early morning (The BC is tucked just behind Oxford Circus) – a tiny little establishment like the BC could have such a huge line. The BC doesn’t just have customers – they have devout fans that will wait 35 minutes or more for their Elvis shakes, eggs, and unlimited maple syrup; even if there is a love hate relationship based on the ridiculously tiny size of the BC in the first place…I had to remind my brothers of this at least 3 times during the queuing process. They were reluctant and whiny at firsts, but from the moment they set eyes on their finished orders, they were converted and feeling sorry.  #Converted #DevoutFans #PowerOfThree #RightHere.

The breakfast club soho all american The breakfast club soho elvis shake The breakfast club soho pancakes

Amazing:

The breakfast club soho hot chocolate marshmallows The breakfast club soho walls decor interior

And so, birthday breakfast 2014 was just that…

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There were marshmallows, hot chocolate, and bacon and berries too. The pancakes were finished with vanilla cream and icing dust and drenched in maple syrup (or sausages and eggs in the case of my bro’s) and all in all, it was perfect. There are no other words. I love the breakfast club. I wish I could bring myself to have something different every time I go, but I can’t – American style, syrup drenched Pancakes don’t surrender easily (although the Benedict style huevos have always looked good)….Maybe next time?

Lol. Who am I kidding?

Nonetheless, the BC = a birthday brunch done right. If you live in London and you haven’t been then you MUST go!

The breakfast club soho pancakes merchandise The breakfast club soho inside

The end.

brother and sister

 

:)

Banana & Walnut bread with Blueberries, Greek Yoghurt + Lemonade drizzle

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous…” 
― Albert EinsteinThe World As I See It

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

It was only today, that this beautiful blueberry-banana bread waltzed majestically out of our oven, ready to grace a thundery Monday morning with its heavenly sweetness, moist (Greek yogurt!) interior + it’s tangy lemon drizzling…

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!Tea time will never be the same again: (Can you believe that this recipe is low fat?)

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

Who knew that that stray old lemon (which has been haunting the bottom drawer of the fridge for months) actually served a purpose? And who would have guessed that those 2 freckly old bananas were actually not destined to become 5-minute pancakes tomorrow morning? These questions are more genuine than they are dramatic:

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle! Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

And you know what? This loaf cake has a nerve. Having slyly placed itself at the front of the recipe queue that I already had lined up for this month, it smugly told the other cakes and goodies that it was tastier than they were – and jumped right ahead of themso that it could be first onto the blog…

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle! Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

Cheeky.

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle! Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle! Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

So right here you see it; a ‘fast track’ upload that was decided on by the cheeky loaf cake itself – because it really is just that special…

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

I’ll leave you to be the judge from here.  Can you resist?

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

Ingredients (for the loaf):

  • 1.5 C white flour
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ C vegetable oil
  • 4 small eggs (or 3 large)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 2 small-medium freckly bananas – about ½ cup (mashed)
  • 1 C chopped walnuts (I blitzed them in the food processor)
  • 1 C chopped blueberries
  • 1 C Greek Yoghurt (Low fat is fine)
  • Optional: Juice of 1 lemon.

Ingredients (for the lemon drizzle):

  • 1 C icing sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tsp milk (more or less depending on how thick/runny your icing ends up being)
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, walnuts, and sugar) for the loaf.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the sugar and oil first, before adding the eggs, vanilla, salt, and bananas.
  3. Combine wet + dry ingredients. Add the yoghurt now, and the blueberries last.
  4. Bake in an oven pre-heated at 180* for 35-40 minutes, or until risen and browned. Leave to cool inside the oven with the door shut for about 10 minutes (this makes it firmer), before leaving to cool for at least an hour before icing.

For the icing:

  1. Drop the sugar into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and stir until you reach a good consistency.
  2. Add the milk one teaspoon at a time – you can add more, but you can’t remove what’s already been put in. Check that you are happy with the consistency before pouring it over the loaf.

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle! Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle! Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

Can you believe that this cake only met the whole family about an hour ago, yet everyone is already absolutely besotted with it and seemingly using it as a perfect excuse to spoil their dinners. It’s just a pity that there is already only less than half of it left…?! (Are brothers only good for finishing off cake?) But I guess that’s a good sign anyway… :)

And just while we’re here…is anybody else also a fan of life’s strange little coincidences? I’m currently loving them!

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle! Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle! Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!

Greek yogurt blueberry and banana bread - with walnuts and lemon drizzle!Tash x

 

BBQ Food & Family time – It’s birthday week again!

“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon – to me, those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language…” 
― Henry James

So, here we are: after being treated to a lovely + relaxed day off, followed by one day taken on leave, before a slow (5pm) start the next day, and finished with yet another day off – I think it is fair to say that this weekend definitely understands the true meaning of “the dream rota”. If only every week of the summer had been something like this…

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It was just this time last year that myself + my cousins baby, – J celebrated our birthdays with a joint family BBQ party. This year was slightly different however. With half of the family across the country/world, J’s 2nd birthday was celebrated with a slightly quieter, but nevertheless delicious summer BBQ!

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It was warm and sunny for the whole day. (Except for that 2 minute burst of rain which cleared up in no time – because the rain knows its place on BBQ days…)

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And also, kids are so ridiculously natural in photographs! I always say that posing kills the emotion of a photo (even though it’s so hard to pose without posing) thankfully though, none of these actually guys understand what it means to *sit still and smile* for any photo = the perfect snaps.

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Family BBQ’s are the best. Summertime is the best, and flame grilled sausages are even better! (BBQ’s are one of the rare occasions of the year where I actually enjoy meat).

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I heart summer! (And days off).

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It was a happy day, and I can’t quite believe how much this little guy has grown up!

IMG_5723IMG_5716And ooh – I must mention that I am currently loving love Maja’s recent blog idea! – She has a new ‘morning’ series where she basically gets a guest blogger to write about their morning routine, based on a round of pre-set questions. Why do I enjoying being so nosey? I have no absolutely idea! But I really, really do love reading about the little things/habits/inspirations that streak other peoples’ daily routines, and the magic that keeps them alive + interesting! I actually came across Maja’s blog via Tania (of whose paradisiacal photos + blogging style I have long been addicted to…) – who explained how Maja was currently featuring her morning routine! I really enjoyed reading it and maybe you will too – so definitely do check it out!

Meanwhile, I am currently not loving how my mum has shoved an entire box of Earl Grey tea bags into our jar of Yorkshire (normal, black) tea. Earl grey tea sipped first thing in the morning when one is expecting some breakfast-y milky-ness is seriously un-cool.  I had no idea even that EG was such an acquired taste! The bottom line: you don’t appreciate what you have until it has been polluted with 200 or so EG tea bags…

Right now, I dare say that I feel…refreshed? I may be just! It has certainly been nice :)

However, the end is not near…Saturday next week (a mere 6 days away!) is my BIRTHDAY! And wow – I have never seen an entire year pass so fast!

But for now, let’s all make the most of the remaining BBQ season…

Tash x

Gail’s Bakery, Bloomsbury – Home to the worlds most photogenic cheesecake…

“Just because you don’t live near a bakery, it doesn’t mean that you have to go without cheesecake…”

Hedy Lamarr

Gail, you are amazing. Your bakery is a minimalist’s haven; and I can’t wait to come back and raid your kitchen…

That sounds a little like a love letter, doesn’t it? Well rightly so, because GAIL’s bakery is truly wonderful…

More often than not, I get to photograph cake-stuffs that need zero words; Gail’s bakery however, has just gone into negative words… There are quite simply NO words for this cheesecake!

Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London

Agree with me.

This vanilla cheesecake is the logo that represents my first time in the bubble that is Gail’s. This cheesecake is topped with dusted blueberries that make it even more photogenic. This cheesecake basically hogs the spotlight of Gail’s cake counter…

Dear Mr Cheesecake, please Say CHEESE…

Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London

Perfection, perfection, perfection!

Louis (Geography buddy…OCD freak, compulsive planner…businessman + lover of good food) and I, took a walk to Gail’s following a catch up at Honey and Co, Bloomsbury. Despite being sternly informed by one of the ladies at Gail’s that closing time was in 15 minutes sharp (ugh)we had just enough time to scour the cake counter and take some photo’s before chilling outside the shop with some iced teas/coffee’s and cake…

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The selection was just enough to be stuck for choice, without being struck down by indecision. Perfect. The bakery/cafe space is small, yet spacious and welcoming. The design is plain, but clean cut and rather warm.

I must admit though, that despite my fixation with the cheesecake beauty, I did kind of commit ‘cheesecake addict suicide’ when I strayed and opted for the carrot cake instead of Le cheesecake…Sorry cheesecake! I had to love you and leave you for Louis, but I definitely did enjoy that forkful of your dense delightfulness…We will be meeting soon again, I know it.

As for said carrot cake however…c’mon…it’s CUBED! I repeat: CUBED!

Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London

With three beautifully cemented layers of thick, creamy cream cheesiness… (I am sorry but not sorry for the lack of adjectives) and square cut edges, it is 100% the most irresistible cube that I have ever come across in my whole life.

What. A. Slab:

Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London

Here are some of the other goodies that are also on display in Gail’s:

Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London

As we walked away for the evening, we could see + smell the fresh bread being served with some seriously good looking dinner dishes, next door @ Gail’s Kitchen. Dinner at Gail’s needs to happen sometime very soon, the food looked so wholesome and tasty!

Their boxes are also so cute! We walked out feeling as if we had purchased something of a little more luxury…a great touch!

So, if life ever leaves you lost, lonely, or confused… always go and find a box like this to read:

Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London

…Before going on to blame Gail for your cravings.

Gail's Bakery, Bloomsbury London

If you are ever in London, then definitely do visit GAIL’s bakery and then raid their kitchen! http://www.gailskitchen.co.uk/

See you soon GAIL’s!

And have a great weekend all!

Love Tash.

A Liebster Award – Woop!

Okay so first off, Anna is the best. Anna; thank you SO much for taking the thought to nominate me for a Liebster award – you are the best. Have I said that already? Perhaps I should say it again anyway…You are the best! (And this nomination made my week).  I was totally unprepared for this, but after a week-long dose of procrastination, I am finally ready to get the ball rolling and throw together some answers in gratitude. Thank you!

liebster-award

  1. What’s your best childhood memory?

Aaah! I have absolutely no idea. I am the worst at choosing between anything and everything. Most of my memories are in pictures anyway, like snippets of a collage or the senses of scenes; Christmas mornings, endless summers at The George Hotel by the sea, birthday cakes and candles, the smell of church, new year’s eve’s, Sundays spent with dad making crisp sandwich towers (yes, you read that right), Saturdays spent with mum when dad was at work, and lots of spaghetti on toast…That is not to mention every other day spent with my two crazy  baby brothers in crime (who can probably remember more than me). Can I substitute in all of these instead please?

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  1. What’s something you regret, and how would you change it if you could?

Not liking peanut butter the first time I tried it and throwing the jar away in disgust. I was #12yearsyoung and utterly stupid. If I could go back in time and change this I would make the sandwich all over again and eat it anyway.

  1. What makes you smile?

Genuine smiles, happy people, terrible jokes, nice customers, sunrise, sunset, and watching new daddies dote on their daughters.

  1. What is the first thing that you do in the morning?

Break-the-fast!! No joke. I always wake up ravenous. I generally do try to distract myself from heading straight to the kitchen but the hunger signals win almost every time. Being an early riser (I’m talking 5am here) doesn’t combine well with dawn hunger and weird shift hours. Tea always has the right of way in the morning routine though; the kettle goes on first. FYI: Mornings without tea are not a thing, and should never attempt to be.

  1. Who is a hero in your life?

My dad: for 19 years of never complaining about the laundry and lifts; for never being ‘too tired’ for a bike ride, and for never being too ‘busy’ to rescue me from my homework crises. And mum: thank you for trusting me over and over again to use up all of the food you bought me in the fridge before it goes rotten (I never will). Thank you for letting us all drive you mad anywhere and everywhere and for forgiving us every time. Thank you for bringing us ice lollies in your handbag when you picked us up from school – even if they were melted because you were 30 minutes late. Thank you for cooking 5 different evening meals, and for teaching us not to waste money. You always have so much time for others.

  1. Do you prefer a home-cooked meal, or to go out to a restaurant?

This is tricky! We only really eat out as a family ‘for the food’ when the cuisine is Italian, Turkish, or Indian. We already know what we can or can’t make authentically, and so we either will or won’t bother to cook whatever it may be accordingly. For example, although my mum is part Indian, we rarely make our own curries, so we have a Nepalese run ‘local’, which even after 25 years = still a huge treat for us all; and the ambience of eating there is a major bonus on top of the food. However, I also love anywhere with big portions of simple, stodgy comfort food (Fish and chips anyone? Or how about a huge, juicy burger with skin on fries and mayo?!) When it comes to simple food, I eat out purely for the ambience. I love how you can move to a completely new environment to eat/celebrate in – someplace completely different to where you live/work/play every other day and enjoy comfort food with a friend. I also love how you can scour the city for a hundred different restaurants which all serve the same old thing in a different way. Dining out can be made magical by good service and decor – even if many times out of 10 the food could probably be better made at home. The point is being able to have a nice day out. My mum’s motto that we follow is: “Never pay for what you can have at home”…so I just never order spaghetti Bolognese or ice cream when out.

  1. What would be the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?

House hunt! Something huge, isolated and beach side with massive floor-ceiling windows + vast wood floors sounds about right. I’d set aside a decent chunk of it for charity too, and put it towards orphans in developing countries. The last thing I’d even think about buying would be cars…yawn. Coming to think about it, I’d probably buy a warehouse of peanut butter or something – set for life.

  1. What do you admire most about yourself?

Ummm. This is hard! I like how I can always encourage myself to be ‘work focused’ even when I have zero motivation. I’m kind of O.K. at setting goals and working towards them. I also quite like being a reflective person. I hate this question! I can feel all of my bad traits laughing away as I delve in for some positive ones…

  1. What is the most-watched movie/DVD in your collection?

Dear John! I don’t really watch many movies, but Dear John is definitely one of my most watched. However, my family has every season of Everybody Loves Raymond on DVD, so we watch that pretty much every day. Other than that, I still frequently sit down to watch the childhood favourites that I haven’t quite managed to grow out of yet…It Takes Two, Madeleine, The Parent Trap, Uncle Buck, Stuart Little, Enchanted, Ink heart…Again, I can’t choose between any of them!

10. What’s a nickname you’ve had or one that you would give yourself?

Moustache, Tasha-banana, Tim, Tish…They get old easily! Some of my friends used to call me the “time-keeper” because I always seem to reflect on the how fast or slow time has passed or what the future holds – It is habit!

11. What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?

Oh my god; VANILLA. I would do anything for Vanilla. In Italy, my aunty went slightly crazy when she bought us all ice cream and I decided to have a wild combo of *drumroll*… Vanilla, Cream, and Straciatella – despite being surrounded by more exotic flavours like Kinder, watermelon, mango, hazelnut, tiramisu and mint (to name a few!)…She just didn’t understand that I’d adore nothing more than 3 variations of beautiful old Vanilla :) (although pistachio is a close second!). As a flavour, vanilla is silky, rich, elegant and sophisticated… There is just something about the sheer essence of vanilla that makes me want to dedicate my life to it forever and ever. Vanilla can never be *too sweet* in the same way that the fruit + chocolate flavours can be. Vanilla is creamy and luxurious…. Chocolate ice cream has never appealed to me – it doesn’t even taste like chocolate?! And I hate the colouring of strawberry and raspberry ice creams.

P.S. I’m not even a fussy eater; I just defend Vanilla. Always…

Provide 11 random facts about yourself.

  1. I’m incredibly indecisive. Give me a decision, and I won’t make it.
  2. I am terrible at writing essays. I literally cannot organize my thoughts or prioritize what needs to be said, so I try way too hard and wind up writing out everything. Needles to say, essays that I write turn out terribly, my language is a mess, and I come across as being downright confused. This isn’t so great, given that I am only ¼ through university. I don’t seem to have the same problem when I write about things that I genuinely enjoy though…
  3. I generally trip over my own feet at least 3 times a day. Skills.
  4. I am a major procrastinator. I think that this stems from perfectionism…I want to do things perfectly…so I wait for the perfect moment (which we all know never comes around) …and by the time I realize this it’s too late to have any motivation and so I wind up dreading having to do the task ahead according to my own high standards…It is an addictive way of life.
  5. I love country music.
  6. I didn’t like cheese until I was like, 17. You heard right. Until I was 17 I hated cheese. Cheese-less pizzas were a thing. Cheese on toast never happened, and cheese with crackers seemed gross. Times have definitely changed.
  7. I am a self diagnosed misophoniac. Misophonia is basically a psychological condition where certain sounds will drive one mad. Although these sounds are just regular, non-bothersome background noise to anyone else…they will aggravate the misophoniac to create tension, anxiety, stress and bubbling anger. E.G. If someone slams a door, or a ‘noisy’ car drives past me, I get seriously annoyed and would literally give anything to hurl a huge hammer towards the source of the sound – hard. It feels as if the sound is on loudspeaker, violently tearing through my whole body and making me shake and causing my head to spin. This is unfortunate since, in London of all places, it is literally impossible to take a peaceful walk anywhere – you simply cannot escape the rough growls of badly maintained cars, super-loud buses and those horrible, horrible motorbikes… Drama queen? Maybe. Miso-phoniac? Definitely. Gah.
  8. I can’t sing. The end.
  9. I want to live in Australia! The weather, the beautiful houses, the beaches, the people, the food, and the accents…yes please!
  10. I live in a bubble of organized chaos. I purposely misplace bits and bobs to places where I want them to be. My workstations + handbags are complex universes with laws of their own. I totally tend to shortcut my way to organization. My mother calls this scatty; I call it organized chaos.
  11. I classify myself as a firm ‘introverted extrovert’ (think about it for a bit). This is definitely a thing, too. (Read “The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking)!

And now…it’s MY turn! I nominate:

  1. Alex| http://www.kenzielife.com/
  2. Molly| http://yestoyolks.com/
  3. Rachel| http://www.bakerita.com/
  4. Erica| http://www.cannellavita.com/
  5. Leigha| http://theyoopergirl.com/
  6. Tash| http://www.tashlovesfood.com/
  7. Kacie| http://www.withlovekacie.com/
  8. Ash| http://www.kickashmom.com/
  9. Kim| http://lovintheoven.com/
  10. Tash| http://www.theperfectionist.co.uk/
  11. Tania| http://www.joyfelicityjane.com/

 Here are your questions!

  1. What qualities do you love most about your best friend?
  2. What’s your opinion on meat consumption?
  3. What is the kindest gesture that someone could ever do for you?
  4. What was the worst birthday that you ever had?
  5. What would you say are your worst traits?
  6. What is your favourite song right now?
  7. What was something that you always used to wish for when you were younger?
  8. What would you name your first (or next) child?
  9. Have you ever done something that you instantly regretted? What was it?
  10. If you only had one week to choose + take a vacation, but an unlimited supply of cash (starting from tomorrow) – where would you go and who would you take?

Go, Go!!

It’s taken me so long to actually stop procrastinating from writing this, but I promise that I have a whole big bunch of new recipes up my sleeve for the next few days. I can’t wait to put them up and bare a million and one new delicious food photos to the world!

Have a great weekend! And Anna…thanks again! :)

Tash <3

Liebster Awards are a fun way to get to know other bloggers and discover some new regular reads!

Here are the rules…
1. You must link back to the person who nominated you
2. You must answer the questions given to you
3. You must pick other bloggers to be nominated for the award
4. You must create ten questions for your nominees
5. You must let the nominees know that they’ve been nominated.

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The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Frosted with cream cheese and pecans

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie…”

– Jim Davis

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

When was the first ever time that you had your first taste of carrot cake?

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

Mine was inside a bus station Costa on one girly, Saturday afternoon with Joanna. Since it was getting so cold, dark and wet outside, we had decided that it was about time to cross last thing off of our shopping lists – two super sweet vanilla/cinnamon lattes were most certainly due.

A square cut Brownie? Pecan slice? Millionaires shortbread? All of the usual suspects in the counter plagued our decision as we eyed them up from our maroon seats by the right hand corner window…

“What’s a carrot cake taste like?” I inquired.

“Let’s split one” – was her answer.

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

Sooner or later, she knew well enough that her side of the cake definitely wasn’t going to be having as much icing as mine…

It was 100% love at first bite, and Joanna is still just as generous today as she was then.

I should also point out that Miss Joanna is the same angel who also cut me first ever slice of cheesecake – like, ever. We were 15, and her mum remains one of the greatest cooks/bakers of all time. It happened on yet another Saturday afternoon. It was pretty much from here onwards that my love for all things cream cheese in tandem with cake was born…

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

Joanna: I dedicate this carrot cake and the (magical) icing to you… <3

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans. The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans. The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

This is the best carrot cake ever…Ever. I am convinced because the moistness of every firm slice, in addition to the silky soft frosting simply cannot be argued with. The cross section is also undeniably beautiful:

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

I actually made it welcome my family back from their 10 day holiday (there was no more irresistible way to apologize for the state of the house). Carrot cake is one of my dad’s favorite cakes of all time. On the other hand, my mum usually hates sweets -but she loved this cake:

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans. The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

In fact, every single time I visited the fridge in the days following their return – yet another slice of this circular, cream cheese frosted beauty had disappeared…Visitors wanted more, and even my own family were cutting themselves ‘slices for later’ – only to set these bagged slices down again on a covered plate right next to the rapidly disappearing cake. Less than a week later, 2 thinly cut slices are the only remnants of the gigantic cake that once was….

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans. The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

My mum said that the cake itself was perfectly “moist”, and not overly sweet, although I don’t think that the same could ever be said for any kind of cream cheese icing (it’s in the name). This cake was so delicious that it didn’t even need the icing to be properly addictive. This cake captured more hearts than one.

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

This cake also makes a great breakfast. Dropped into a big bowl and heaped with a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt + extra cinnamon – you have a well balanced way to start the day. The chopped pecans add extra substance, and the cream cheese alone ensures that you stay full all morning. In this house, it is honestly a case of breakfast or never…

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 C white flour
  • 1 C finely grated carrots (I blitzed pre-grated carrot in the food processor)
  • 1 C tasteless vegetable oil (rapeseed, sunflower)
  • 5 medium eggs + 2 yolks.
  • 2 C white sugar.
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence.
  • 3 tbsp three spice/pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 C chopped pecans (food processor shout out)
  • A plash of milk/evaporated milk/buttermilk.

For the frosting:

  • 2.5 C icing sugar
  • 1 C butter (I use a ratio of 1C butter to 2.5 C sugar for any butter-cream based frosting).
  • 1 pack and a half of cream cheese (Any more was too much, any less was too little). (220g/7.5Oz or so)
  • 1 tsp vanilla.

Method:

  1. Combine the wet ingredients: Cream the oiler and sugar, before adding the eggs and vanilla last. Do not over beat; just integrate them loosely.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugar, carrots, powder, soda, and the salt.
  3. Mix the dry and wet ingredients thoroughly, add the pecans and a splash of milk to make the cake batter runny enough to pour into a tin.  The milk will help to make the cake fluffy and even lighter than the vegetable oil will have made it.
  4. Fold the pecans into the batter.
  5. Split the mixture between 2/3 cake tins.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (3 tins) at 180* (Fan). The cake will go considerably darker once it is ready – just poke a toothpick inside to double check near the 20 minute mark. Adjust the cooking times accordingly for 2 tins (30 mins approx)
  7. Cool in oven for 10 minutes before removing from the oven and cooling for at least an hour before frosting.

Cream cheese frosting (ridiculously easy):

  1. Empty the softened cup of butter into a large bowl, adding the icing sugar gradually. Use a fork/whisk to stir everything together. The icing should be spreadable and getting considerably smoother the more you whip it.
  2. Add the 1.5packs of cream cheese (if you add any more it may get too runny to spread).
  3. Spread between the cake layers + use to frost the top! (It might help to refrigerate the frosting for about 15 minutes before doing so. I didn’t, and I found *neat* frosting to be quite a challenge – but I got there in the end. The frosting looked see through initially, but after a couple of hours in the fridge it solidified and covered the entire cake in a more opaque manner).

I see such quantities of cream cheese as the mother of a cake which is half carrot, and half cheesecake…the best of both worlds in a single tin.

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

Lastly, this cake has given me some real baking confidence! In fact, the first ever carrot cake that I baked myself went completely wrong…the bottom had rapidly sunk to below sea level, the icing turned out to be runnier than bad custard, and the inside was way too moist and gooey.  The cake batter hadn’t even split between the pans because at the time, we only had one single cake tin

“Fail. Fail. Fail” screamed the oven.

My first (and final) attempt to cut the thing in half also didn’t end up well at all. Needless to say, this failure (and the entire morning I’d spent pressed up against the oven window) ended up in hurt.I remember trying to convince my family that it was ‘eat-able’, but the half baked batter quite simply refused to behave itself and ended up in the bin within no time. Nobody wanted to bag a spoon of cream cheese custard and burnt orange mush…ouch. So, we fast forward to about a year onward; I have a stronger desire to do carrots some real justice…and now, it seems like the patience and whipping of cream has paid off…BAKING IS EASY! That feels liberating to say – in capital letters too!

This cake must be seen to be believed. It is huge.. Nevertheless, don’t expect it to last very long. You had best bake hungry.

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans. The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans. IMG_3699 - Copy

When was the first time that you ever have carrot cake?

What’s your favorite type of cake and why?! Share!

The most heavenly Carrot Cake of all time – Cream cheese frosted with Pecans.

Tash x

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini – When tomatoes invade…

“PASTA!!” 
― Hidekaz Himaruya, Hetalia: Axis Powers

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

I rarely ever buy pasta in restaurants, since principally; it can be made so easily at home for just a fraction of its dine out cost…It always seems like such a shame to spend money on pasta that could otherwise have been a giant made-for-you pizza, or just something else that’s not so easily ‘home-makeable’.

However, if this ricotta and spinach filled pasta were somehow listed on a restaurant menu, then I would have truly no choice but to snap it up in heartbeat …

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

And could you blame me?

…#Madformacadamias

Except: there is no restaurant around here anyway would be able to re-create this kind of deliciousness…this plate represents a whole new level of personalized, pasta paradise…

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

I am already a dedicated sucker for any dish that is amazing purely because of the way that the ingredients have been thrown together. And like so, a no fuss, 15 minute dinner with absolutely zero prep after one seriously long day= exactly my kind of thing.

“The promise of carbohydrates makes me deeply emotional.” 
― Katie GraykowskiPerfect Summer

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

Maybe I cheated, and maybe I didn’t – But I get pasta points for the imagination anyway; Italy has gone nuts…

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

And P.S: one single block of Goats cheese is worth a thousand and one words in itself:

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

And macadamia nuts are 100% the cherry on top:

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

I can’t really write up a recipe for this post. I mean, the tortellini was pre-packaged and the (jar) sauce was far from being homemade and fresh – but I do feel that this leaves lots of pockets for taste enhancement with future attempts! Meanwhile, the emphasis here is meant to be on the sheer blend of crunchy, salted macadamias with the creamy goat’s cheese and, of course, – the basil-based and starchy, tomato goodness laying within…

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

And also, can you believe that I met a guy who was afraid of tomatoes earlier today? He had a funny way of expressing his fear too. The whole conundrum went something like this:

Table 17 ordered poached eggs on toast; but table 17 didn’t realize that poached eggs are served with a complimentary tomato…

Table 17’s order then arrives at table 17, but Mr 17’s eyes bulge at the sight of the juicy red, freshly grilled tomato accompanying his yolks and toast. Ahem -Table 17 didn’t warn me of his lil phobia…Next thing, Table 17 is squirming in his booth as the plate nears him; he begins to explicitly freak out. By the time table 17’s breakfast has hit the table, Mr 17 shrieks “Get rid of them! Remove them! I hate tomatoes!” His hands were in the air and his face was becoming increasingly desperate –

“I HAD NO IDEA THAT THIS DISH CAME WITH TOMATOES!” Before long, he finally calmed down and was welcomed back to reality with a tomato-less plate of egg (served by a confused me) – because apparently, you can’t just appreciate the culinary gesture by leaving the poor old tomato aside in silence…Table 17 turned out to be one baffling bundle of amusement.

What is life without tomatoes? No pasta, no pizza, no ketchup…no tomato. With anything! Without tomatoes, this macadamia dish wouldn’t be able to look so photogenic…

Tomato love <3

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

The bottom line is that: Nuts added to filled pasta = a match made in heaven. This taste satisfaction can be enhanced with heaps of creamy coats cheese; a nice tomato sauce and, perhaps some spinach if your fridge is (still) screaming at you to get rid of it…Imagine the possibilities with other cheeses, nuts and veg…I also feel like this could work nicely with a pesto/pesto cream cheese in lieu of the tomato sauce! (Food for thought if you have issues like Mr 17).

Soft Goats cheese and Macadamia Tortellini

Try it soon! It takes literally 10-15 minutes to make, if not less. And if you don’t like nuts (or tomatoes), then you are missing out big time…

Have a great week!

P.S. I have the most immense carrot cake recipe coming soon! Check out my instagram for a sneak peak ;) #tripledecker – I am so excited to share it with you all!

Tash x