You probably all know that google reader is shutting down tomorrow (if not...yes it is) - sad face. So if you wish to continue following your favourite blogs and have them collated in one place I highly recommend you check out bloglovin'. They also have a service that allows you to import all the blogs you were following through google reader. I use it every day and love it.
If you're not sure about bloglovin' check out feedly. I have just downloaded this myself and particularly love the way it looks on the iPad. I must say though that I am still getting my head round it and am not finding it as intuitive as bloglovin'. Either way, check 'em both out, it's definitely worth a try.

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When we went on holiday the other week I forgot to get rid of the loaf of bread that had been sitting in our bread basket and was about to reach its use by date. When we got back ten days later the loaf was still in perfect condition, not one speckle of mold. That's disgusting, right? And a bit scary as well, because, really, after sitting in our kitchen for over two weeks this loaf should have started to go off, at least a little.

Every time this happens I tell myself that I will have to start making my own bread, that I really need to know what's going into my food. So I find a few nice recipes and go through the ordeal of kneading and proofing and more kneading and more proofing and am generally always happy with the result, because "who doesn't love a freshly baked roll or loaf of bread". That's how these bad boys were born and I still think they are one of the best soft bread rolls I have ever tried.
And then I forget about home-baking, because I just can't be bothered with the whole waiting process.

But when you come across a recipe like this - yep Do It Yourself Bread! - you just cannot resist. Thanks Sinnenrausch for the inspiration. No proofing, hardly any kneading and you can go crazy with nuts and seeds and currants...

Note this bread is nothing like the fluffy HOVIS loaves you get in the supermarket. It's a dense bread with a crunchy crust and a moist flavoursome centre. Amazing just with butter or topped with ham and cheese or to accompany a soup.

Try it and you will never go and buy a supermarket loaf again.

Do you bake bread at home? Tell me about it!

Etta xo

MAKES 1 loaf
PREPARATION 5 mins (15 mins if you use dry yeast)

  • 42g fresh yeast (or 1tsp active yeast prepared as instructed on the packet)
  • 450ml lukewarm water (1 part boiling, 2 parts cold)
  • 500g wholemeal or spelt flour
  • 75g mixed seeds
  • 25g sesame seeds
  • 50g raisins or currants
  • 2tsps salt
  • 2tbsps white wine vinegar 
Note you can replace the seeds and currants with anything you want, use nuts or other dried fruit, just make sure it makes up 150g.

  1. Mix the yeast with the warm water. Add all the other ingredients and knead until you have a smoothe-ish dough. I used my kitchen machine with the hook attachement.
  2. Grease a loaf tin with a little vegetable oil. Add the dough to the tin and top with some oats or nuts if you want.
  3. Add to the cold oven. 
  4. Turn the oven to 170˚C (fan) and bake the bread for 50 minutes.
  5. Take the loaf out of the tin and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Yes that's it - seriously. Delicious!


Right, so, I really love chips... a lot (yep McDonald's ones, too)! If I ever have the choice between mashed, boiled or sauteed potatoes and a portion of chips, it will always be chips. There is a big bag of frozen chips in our freezer, at all times. It's my emergency go to food... you know, it's always easy to rustle up a steak and chips dinner (mmmmmm!!!!) Oh and I'm a skinny fry kinda girl.

And then health conscious me comes along and it's guilt vs taste buds. So I asked myself more recently, what about making my own oven roast french fries? Surely they can't taste as good as the lovely frozen ones?! And they must take much, much longer! What better way to find out than to test it.

  1. To serve 2 you'll need one large spud (or sweet potato). If you want skin on chips, just give it a thorough scrub, if not get the peeler out. 
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 225˚C. Leave the baking tray in the oven. 
  3. Half the potato and then cut, lengthways, into 1/2cm slices and then into 1/2cm wide batons (basically into equally sized fries). 
  4. Toss the fries with 1tbsp olive or rapeseed oil, season with plenty of sea salt and add any other herbs you want, such as rosemary or thyme etc. 
  5. Place onto a the baking tray, making sure the fries don't touch.  
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning the fries half way, until crispy and brown on the outside and soft in the middle. Serve! Note: If you're using sweet potatoes, these will be done in 10-15 minutes.
  1. Pre-heat oven to 220˚C. 
  2. Place frozen fries on baking tray.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning half way.
  4. Serve!

Both options are equally "not" time-consuming. 
Homemade fries are delicious, you know what went into them and if you can handle the fact that they haven't got the super crunchy, slightly rough outer shell of a frozen fry... make your own. They are just as delicious alongside a juicy burger or a big slab of steak, smothered in copious amounts of ketchup, as the old McCain.

Do you make your own fries? Tell me about it!

Etta xo


While I absolutely love the idea of breakfast and the older I am getting the more I appreciate its importance, I find it the most hard-going meal of the day. This is particularly so during the week, when I feel I should be loving my bowl of granola and Greek yoghurt but much rather would be devouring a light and fluffy almond croissant or a handful of chocolate digestives.

I am all over our cooked breakfasts on the weekend - but these take place at around 11.30am rather than 7 and don't have to be scoffed down because there is a train waiting to take you to work.

If I had what I craved for breakfast every morning I'd be one round, overweight ball and, truthfully, no one wants that ;)

A few months ago I came across these bad boys on Jeanine's gorgeous food blog Love and Lemons and thought to myself "hmmm this could be nice".

So out came the muffin tray and grater and I made us a whole batch of beautifully moist apple and cinnamon muffins - they are full of fibre, there's plenty of fruit, no butter and hardly any sugar. Not to mention that at approximately 200 calories each there is zero guilt.

Right now they live in my freezer and are whopped out every other evening to defrost for a healthy and delicious breakfast. Place them under the grill for a couple of minutes in the morning to warm through and crisp up the top.

I am planning to experiment and alter this recipe in the future, by using different fruit, nuts and seeds.  And if you are a little bit more adventurous and after a heartier breakfast muffin try these courgette and cinnamon muffins (yes courgette!!).

What's your go to every day breakfast?

Etta xo

MAKES 12 Muffins
COOKS 25-30mins

  • 100g plain flour
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 50g porridge oats , plus 1 tbsp for the top
  • 4 tbsp soft brown sugar, plus 1tbsp for the top
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 apples, grated
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 150ml fat-free yoghurt
  • 6 tbsp rapeseed oil 
For the filling
  • 1 small apple, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2tbsp raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
  • 1tsp brown sugar

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. 
  2. Mix the flour, oats and the sugar in a bowl with the cinnamon. Stir in the apples, baking powder, eggs, yoghurt and oil and mix everything together until you have a smooth batter.
  3. Mix the raisins, cubed apples, cinnamon and brown sugar and leave to sit for five minutes.
  4. Grease a muffin tray with a little rapeseed oil.
  5. Half fill the muffin tray with the batter, then add the apple/raisin mix to the middle making sure it doesn't touch the sides. Top with the rest of the batter.
  6. Mix 1tbsp of oats and 1 tbsp of soft brown sugar and sprinkle on top of each muffin.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden, risen and cooked through.
You must try one while they are still warm, absolutely divine.


For Father's Day we made the bestest Soy Glazed Ribs you can imagine. My dad had to work, so I didn't cook this meal for him but cooked it more as a tribute. The recipe reminded me of his beef and "black egg" stew, which used to be one of our favourites when we were kids and no one cooks this stew like Papa Din does.

I came across this recipe on one of my all time favourite food blogs Spoon, Fork, Bacon and thought yep we'll give this a go and make it our own. There was a little resistance from Mat, because ribs are hard to get right and no one likes chewy bits of meat that hold onto the bone for dear life. But once he tasted the fall off the bone pork, smothered in the sticky soy and honey glaze he was sold. Served alongside a generous portion of brown rice and an iced cucumber salad this dish is a real hit.

To me it tastes like genuine Chinese food, fresh and flavoursome and not even close to any of the gloopy dishes you get from your Chinese takeaway.

We are definitely making this again and next time we'll have dad around ;). 


Etta xo 

COOKS 1.5hrs

For the Ribs
  • 600g pork spare ribs (or 4 good size ribs)
  • 3cm piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (make sure your ginger is fresh or otherwise it'll be stringy and hard to cut)
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used rapeseed oil)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 235ml plus 2 tbsps low sodium soy sauce
  • 355ml shaoxin wine or dry sherry
  • 25g sugar
  • 3 tbsps honey
  • 1tsp chilli flakes
  • 2tsp 5-spice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Honey Soy Glaze
  • 160ml braising liquid
  • 4tsp honey 
Iced Cucumber Salad
    • 1/2 a cucumber, cut into matchsticks
    • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2tbsps rice wine vinegar
    • 2tbsps sesame oil
    • salt and pepper to season
    • brown rice to serve (I am rubbish at getting brown rice right and it always takes ages so until I've figured this one out I recommend using the microwave version. M&S's rice is lovely.)
    • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
    • a couple of tsps of sesame seeds

    1. Mix all the salad ingredients in a bowl, stir thoroughly and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Then take out and refrigerate while you're cooking the ribs.
    2. Rinse the ribs under cold water and place in a large pot. Fill with water and add the sliced ginger. Place pot over high heat and boil for 30 minutes, skimming the fat from the surface as it forms.
    3. Drain and rinse rib pieces in cold water for a second time, removing any excess fat, debris and ginger. 
    4. Pre-heat the oven to 170˚C.
    5. Place a large Dutch oven, heavy bottom pot or any other large, oven-proof pot over medium-high heat and add oil. Add the ribs and season with salt and pepper. Brown for about 3 minutes. Add the ginger, chilli and 5-spice and cook for a minute or so. De-glaze the pot with the wine and leave to bubble for a few minutes. Now add the sugar, soy sauce, garlic and honey.
    6. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover and place the pot in the oven.
    7. Cook for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and turn the ribs. For the last 15 minutes remove the lid.
    8. Scoop 160ml (approximately 2-3 ladles full) of the sauce into a small pot (skimming off any excess fat) and stir in the honey. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by 1/3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
    9. Serve the ribs on top of the rice, spoon over the sauce and brush the meat with the honey soy glaze. Top with the spring onions and sesame seeds and serve alongside the iced cucumber salad.
    We enjoyed this with an ice cold glass of Tsingtao beer.


    I've been just a little on edge lately, to say the least. This was mainly due to the weather (which has been atrocious in the UK) and the fact that I felt I didn't have the time or energy or motivation to do anything. Our flat has been a pigsty and our to-do list seemed endless.

    And finally our long deserved summer holiday came along. We pulled ourselves together and spent two days turbo tidying the flat, ticked almost all the to-dos, stocked up on sun-screen and packed our bags to fly to the sunny island of Gran Canaria. 

    This, without doubt, has been the most relaxing holiday I have ever been on. So relaxing, in fact, I felt tired from not doing anything. I read three books, swam, sun-bathed and ate copious amounts of delicious food, not to mention the Gin and Tonics.

    The food was simple but amazingly delicious and I particularly fell in love with Papas Arrugadas con Mojo - small potatoes dry boiled with plenty of salt and served with the traditional spiced red pepper sauce. Mat made the yummiest Piementos de Padron, which are small green peppers, pan fried in olive oil and lots of rock salt and are sweet and bitter and salty all at the same time. Delicious and a little bit like playing Russian roulette - you never know when the spicy one is going to hit you. Dipped in home made alioli they are just heaven.
    Oh and not to forget the Queso Fresco - be warned once you start eating a round of this silky smooth goats cheese you will eat the whole thing in one go (yep we did!) - that's how good it was.

    The island of Gran Canaria is not beautiful at first sight - pretty barren in most areas it seems to be all rocks, sand, grey dust and tired palm trees. Then you spot the odd bright green plant topped with a bright pink flower and think to yourself "oh how pretty". That is until you see the beautiful blue sea and big areas of green and even more of the stunning flowers and succulents, all set against a dazzling blue sky - now that is when you are truly blown away. I think it's those pretty areas which take you by surprise that make it a particularly special place.

    The verdict: We'll definitely be going back!

    What's your summer holiday destination this year?

    PS: Excuse the photo overload ;)


    Most people I know have never had Goulash before and boy are they missing out. My nan made this, my mum makes it and now I make my very own version. Mum's Goulash consists of a good cut of stewing beef, smoked paprika, water and salt - that's that. She throws it all together and then stews it on the hob for the rest of the day. Her Goulash is the business, full of flavour and naturally thick from all the lovely meat. When I tried cooking Goulash her way it didn't really work out. So I decided to experiment a little and came up with my own version. I use onions, carrots, cayenne and lots of vino. Although it takes a long time to cook, this is a zero effort dish, which is great just thrown together on a Sunday morning and eaten for dinner. Serve with pasta (particularly nice with tagliatelle or homemade ribbon pasta), rice or crusty bread and a side salad and you've got yourself a mouthwateringly delicious comfort dish that will taste even better the next day and the day after.

    Have you got any family stew recipes up your sleeve?

    SERVES 4
    PREPARATION 10mins
    COOKS minimum 2.5hrs

    • 800g good quality stewing beef (at room temperature)
    • 2 red onions, sliced
    • 2tbsps tomato paste
    • 2 stock cubes (beef) diluted in some hot water
    • 1 carrot diced
    • 10 chestnut mushrooms, diced
    • 3tsp smoked paprika
    • 1tsp sweet paprika
    • 1tsp cayenne pepper
    • 350ml strong red wine
    • salt and pepper
    • 1tbsp corn flour
    • oil (use a neutral oil such as rapeseed)
    • lettuce, dressed with oil and vinegar to serve
    • pasta or crusty bread to serve

    1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C. In a large oven proof pot (we used a lidded enamel pot) heat a little oil. Fry the onions, on a medium to high heat, for a few minutes until soft and starting to brown. Add the meat a little at a time and brown on a high heat. Note: It is important to brown the meat in stages. If you throw it all in at the same time it'll start stewing and release too much moisture, which may result in tough chunks of meat.
    2. In a small bowl, mix the tomato paste with the spices. Once the meat is sealed add the tomato/spice paste and fry for a few minutes until the meat and onions are well coated. Turn the heat up to high and cook for another minute or so. 
    3. When the bottom of the pot is dry and all juices have evaporated, deglaze the pot with your red wine. Mix in the diluted stock cubes and some salt (I added 1 teaspoon but this is entirely up to you and your taste buds) and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the liquid starts to reduce. 
    4. Pour in 500ml of water at room temperature, stir and cover with a lid.
    5. Place the pot in the oven and leave to cook for 2 hours, checking every half an hour that you have enough liquid and the meat isn't burning. You may need to add a little water every now and then.
    6. After two hours mix in the mushrooms and carrots and place in the oven for another half an hour. 
    7. At this stage you can take the goulash out and carry on with stage 8 or you can leave it in the oven for as long as you like. The longer it stews the better and more inense it will taste. Just make sure you have enough liquid in there and nothing is burning.
    8. In a small frying pan heat up 2 tablespoons of oil. Once hot, add the corn flour a little at a time and stir until you are left with a smooth paste that starts to bubble. If it's too thick add a little water.
    9. Take out the goulash from the oven and mix in the roux. Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. This is optional, but I like to take out a couple of ladles of the goulash and whizz it with a stick blender and add it back to the stew for extra thickness.
    10. Taste for seasoning and serve over pasta or rice alongside a bowl of lettuce.

    Super yummy with a glass of red wine or a cold pint of lager.


    Have you seen the name of this cake? It sounds a bit like a dream right? Like a peanut buttery, chocolatey, scrumptious, nom-nom dream. Yup, and so it was.

    For years I have avoided buying cup measures, just because I don't get the whole idea of measuring every ingredient I am using with one set of cups, having to wash them each time, rather than using good, old-fashioned grams and milliliters. This means that I missed out on a ton of delicious American recipes. This is how convinced I was not to use cups.

    And then it was my colleague Anthony's 30th birthday. I know, big deal, right?! Well, and Anthony luuurves the Reese's Pieces (who doesn't) and I found this amazing chocolate and peanut butter cake recipe and then I succumbed and went and bought cup measures.

    I have to say it was so worth it. I usually don't like icing, ever, but this peanut butter icing was so good we ate the leftovers with a spoon and even froze some for... errm... peanut-butter-icing-ice-cream.

    As complicated as it all sounds, this cake is pretty easy to make and you can prepare most of it the day before.

    What's your favourite birthday cake?

    MAKES 1 3-tier 20cm (8") cake (I made a 2-tier, 18cm cake and 12 cupcakes. If you decide to do this, too, note that the cupcakes will only take approx. 15mins to bake.)
    PREPARATION 25-30minutes
    COOKS 30-35minutes
    (you'll need an electric mixer for this recipe)

    For the sponge
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 1/2 cups sugar
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup neutral vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil)
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
     For the icing
    • 285g (10 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 115g (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 5 cups icing sugar, sifted
    • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
    • 150g grated dark chocolate

    1. Preheat the oven to 175˚C.  Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8" (20cm) round cake tins. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of baking or waxed paper and butter the paper.
      Note: If you don't have 3 cake tins (or 2 in my case), or an oven big enough to accommodate all tins, you can bake one layer at a time. It takes a little extra time but the hassle is 0.
    2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the prepared cake tins.
    3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks and let cool completely. Note: this cake is super soft and springy and I found it easier to keep the baking paper on until the last minute. If you have enough space, ideally place them into the fridge until you're ready to ice. 
    4. While your sponge is cooling, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. 
    5. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
    6. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup of the peanut butter frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Note: Make sure you crumb your cake first to avoid any bits of sponge showing in your frosting. If you've never iced a cake before this video is great! 
    7. Leave the iced cake to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Cover with the grated chocolate and serve.
     All I can say now is - AHAMAAAZING!!!