17 October 2011

My blog has moved...

Hello everyone,
Just to let you know I have moved my blog to a new one. 
So I would be very grateful if you'd resubscribe to see my new posts on the new blog.

My archive is over on the new blog so you can find all the recipes (and pictures of cats) on there too.
I'll be posting news about my jewellery making on my new website from now on, which is here (and very shiny) www.lazygiraffe.com
Thank you!

12 October 2011

Little Chef, Kettering

I think that has to be the least glamorous sounding blog title I've ever written.

But some of you may know that Little Chef has been undergoing something of  makeover. I watched Heston's Little Chef back in 2009 and from the looks of it there didn't seem to be much hope for Little Chef changing beyond the few restaurants they made over, but now there are 10 new Little Chefs with the updated menu and new diner style decor.

We visited the Kettering West branch just off the A14 on our way down to Shropshire a couple of weeks ago, something I've been meaning to do after Ino at Kitchen 22 blogged about it. The interior is fantastic, booths and diner style furniture with the famous 'blue sky' on the ceiling. Service was fast and friendly and the menu had so much choice. Breakfasts, little light bites, proper mains, puds and a great selection of tea and coffee with reasonable prices.

We were just stopping for a light lunch so I ordered the starter scampi, Mr Giraffe had a mushroom and pepper cheese toastie and we also got a side of chips to share. Oh my were we glad we got chips. If you don't get anything else here, make sure you get the chips. They are the triple cooked affair which Heston Blumenthal has made famous, ridiculously crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. I want to go back now and get some.

The scampi was brilliant, under the batter was proper crayfish instead of the reconstituted seafood mush you normally find, I think this is the first time I've had proper scampi. The toastie was filled with proper mature cheese and a rich mushroom and pepper rattoutile with a tomato base.

This is good food, done properly - everything tastes very fresh and it is clearly made onsite. It is very simple to get food right if you make it right. Well done Little Chef!

For 2 light lunches, a coke, cappucino and a side of chips it was £17, probably more than you'd spend on a motorway lunch but much nicer than anything else you can get off the A14.

If you love chips, go. I think that is my main message.

7 October 2011

A weekend away in a nice little place

Last weekend we stayed at the beautiful Brook Farm B&B in Berrington, just on the border of Shropshire and Worcestershire. It was so lovely, the B&B was so homely and the owner Sarah was so friendly, accommodating and and excellent cook!
We ate yummy breakfasts, walked around the beautiful cottage garden, played with the cats, patted the donkeys and ate in the many lovely pubs in the area. Just what we needed.

I didn't take any pictures of our meals out but I recommend the Rose & Crown in Tenbury Wells, The Queens pub in Ludlow and Chang Thai in Ludlow. The food market on a Saturday in Ludlow is so yummy, and they have a craft section too. And then the market is opened up on a Sunday for antiques and flea, so many interesting finds!

27 September 2011

Changes at Lazy Giraffe Jewellery

There will be some changes afoot at Lazy Giraffe. I will have a shiny new website soon with a shop built in. This blog will be changing to a food only blog, possibly still here or on Wordpress, I haven't quite decided yet.

Whilst I ummm and aaah (and add all of my 90+ listings to my new shop!) here is a sneak preview of it (click to make it larger).

I'm really looking forward to what you all think of the whole site once it is ready, I love how simple it looks and I think it is quite easy to navigate.

More coming soon!

8 September 2011

German Apple Cake

I love apple cake, it is a very autumnal thing and being as it has felt autumnal for about 3 weeks now I think it is the perfect cake to be baking at the moment. I'll start off with a little disclaimer, I didn't bake this cake, Mr Giraffe did, but it was so yummy that it needed to be blogged about.

This recipe is from Honey & Jam - it is a very simple sponge with none of the usual spicing that most apple cakes have, the sponge is very buttery and light and the apples really stand out. The apples aren't peeled which works suprisingly well, especially if you have good quality apples.

I think we/I will be making this again soon!

5 September 2011

Jewellery update

A couple of new things in my shops this week.

A simple pair of textured studs made from recycled silver...

Twisted silver necklace, something I've been working on getting right for a while. Pleased with this effect!

I am having fits and starts of inspiration, hoping to include some new gemstone designs for the autumn soon.

Thanks for looking :)


1 September 2011

Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club & Banana Oat Cake

Yesterday I went to the 2nd Clandestine Cake Club for Cambridge held at the fantastic Greens Coffee Co. in Cambourne. You really have to love cake to go to one of these, and fortunately I do. Everyone brings a cake along and then you spend the evening drinking tea and eating your away around all the sugary offerings.

There we over 20 cakes this time and every one looked amazing. I didn't try all of them but I managed 4 slices whilst I was there and took some home - much to Mr Giraffe's delight.

My offering was a Banana and Oat Cake with Elderflower Cream Cheese icing. The cake was originally meant to be vanilla sponge but it came out of the oven dense and flat, and my buttercream failed too. Luckily I'd also made banana bread so I jazzed that up with the icing (made at work the next day, before the club!) which worked really well.


The evening is organised by Miss Sue Flay of tea party fame. I'm really looking forward to the next one.
There are lots of Clandestine Cake Clubs being held by other people around the country - check the website to see if there is one in your town. 

The banana loaf recipe started off wanting to be the one from the Hummingbird Bakery book but I edited it so much it pretty much is a different recipe now. I subbed out a lot of the sugar, used less flour and added oats.

Banana Oat Cake

140g sugar
2 eggs
2 bananas (about 200g peeled weight), peeled and mashed.
140g plain flour
40g porridge oats
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinamonn
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp ground ginger
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

Preheat oven to 170c / gas mark 3. Grease and line a loaf tin. 

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until well combined. Then add in the mashed bananas and mix well again. Fold in the dry ingredients carefully, and then pour in the melted butter and fold again. Pour into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 35 - 45 minutes until cooked through.

Elderflower Cream Cheese Icing

I really struggle with buttercream, it tends to split very easily for me. I love cream cheese icing because it is just as decadent but so so much easier to make. This recipe is based on the Jamie Oliver recipe that goes with his carrot cake.

100g mascarpone cheese
200g full fat cream cheese
2 tbsp of elderflower cordial
85g of icing sugar

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and then spread all over your (cooled) cake.

30 August 2011

Hurray for Fitzbillies

All I can say really is YAY.

The Chelsea Bun is back, and also a whole host of other goodies. I'm so pleased Fitzbillies is back and improved, and also it is a proper bakery where everything is made there, and made properly. We've already had a chelsea bun each but we visited again at the weekend.

I had a perfect hot chocolate (made from ganache made in their kitchen) and a wonderful coffee choux bun. Mr Giraffe had a cheese chelsea bun which is simply an excellent twist on the classic sugary treat - topped with cheese and filled with more cheese, leeks and mustard.

The tea is also very good here, proper loose leaf served in a pot. We'll be back for the coffee and also for lunches.

The re-opening of Fitzbillies really makes it feel like Cambridge is edging towards being a decent place to eat.

26 August 2011

Church Street Gallery, Saffron Walden

I am breaking the blog silence (I did leave you with brownies though, in all fairness!) with some really excellent news.

My jewellery is now available to buy in the beautiful Church Street Gallery, just down the road in Saffron Walden. This is my first ever 'bricks and mortar' stockist so I am very very pleased indeed.

I went along to a preview evening for the Saffron Walden Maze Festival - mainly to snoop at my jewellery on display but also to look at some of the other work. I picked up some amazing wax paper bunting from Mangle Prints, which is now proudly displayed in my studio.

14 August 2011

Ridiculously Good Oreo Fudge Brownies

Bet you are already thinking about when you can next bake.

I am very late to this party, I saw the brownies on Lorraine Pascale's show a few months ago (ok it was January, doesn't seem that long ago!) and ooohed over them and then never got round to making them, which is my usual trick. Ireena made them and so did Katie and I ooohed again.
I kept on buying oreo cookies and they'd get opened and suddenly there were no more oreos. So I bought a pack and hid them at the back of the cupboard for a few weeks, and finally today I made oreo brownies.

I make a lot of brownies but I think these might be the best. Rich, sweet and almost moussey in the middle (from whisking eggs, something I've never done for brownies) and very crispy on top - and then you get an oreo in there too - magic!

You should definitely try these, I think they'd be great in place of birthday cake or even for a dinner party. Or for, you know, eating two in a row. The brownie base itself without the cookies is a great one.

I made three alterations - I didn't include the 2 extra egg yolks - mainly because I didn't have enough eggs but really I felt it was a bit unnecessary. The chocolate was just broken into small pieces, I think grating chocolate would get melty and messy! And I had some fudge chunks lying around so I put those on top before baking, they melted into the batter and then when cooled became crispy and sticky, yum!

Recipe on BBC Food.

10 August 2011

General eatings

I've been doing some good eating lately (whilst trying to lose a bit of weight, hmmmm, not working), so I thought I'd condense some of the yummy things into one post.

First off, lovely greengages in my garden. The wasps are eating most of them but we managed to save a few, a recipe coming up soon for Plum Crumble Bars.

Have any of you been watching The Good Cook? I'm sure I've seen Simon Hopkinson before but I can't remember where, and wikipedia doesn't jog my memory, but that is beside the point! I have really been enjoying the programme, the filming is interesting - sometimes over the top - and the recipes are really really good. I made the aubergine feta and parsley recipe over the weekend and it was fantastic. Sure to please veggies and meat eaters. Next on my list is the baked parpadelle, cheese and onion pie and the piedmontese peppers.

Next up, broccoli pesto. I like pestoing (I made a new word!) things. Asparagus, peas, broad beans, and of course basil. In my attempts to be healthier I tried out the Double Broccoli Quinoa recipe on 101 cookbooks for lunches this week. The pesto is nice, a little more woody than other vegetables - I think a handful of sweet frozen peas would help here. Although I also skipped the cream to be healthier, which is probably what it needs.

Last Saturday I asked Twitter where to go for a decent  coffee and a slice of cake in Cambridge, The lovely Miss Sue Flay suggested Jocalatte on Burleigh Street. I was not disappointed! Lovely fresh homemade cakes, great coffee and in a beautiful vintage style tea room setting. I'll be going again. They also do little homemade chocolates and cute cupcakes.

I think that is my foodie round up done, a new recipe featuring greengages coming tomorrow :)


9 August 2011

Lavender Wholewheat Scones

Until now I have only ever used lavender in my bath, probably like most of you. There are a few things that lavender really works with especially sweet things. I've heard lovely things about lavender panna cotta, I've eaten lavender shortbread before. I've seen some people put it with lamb but I'm not entirely convinced about that.

I had been given some very nice strawberry and rhubarb jam and the best thing to do when you get jam is make scones! The perfume of the  lavender in the scones works really well with the sweet jam, and I think the wholemeal flour makes it nutty, meaning the lavender doesn't overpower.

I am by no means an expert on scones yet, these still didn't have the required oomph that I was looking for, I think they need self raising flour, which I keep forgetting to buy. And in fact I keep forgetting to get more plain flour too, hence the reason for wholemeal - which worked out nicely anyway!

I used this recipe, subbing with wholemeal and 2 teaspons of baking powder. And my lavender was in the form of homemade lavender sugar (grab a bunch of lavender flowers, hang upside down for a month, remove purply bits, add to a jam jar of caster sugar, wait a week), so I just replace the plain sugar with that.

The lavender comes through really well, not too soapy and just the right amount of perfumeyness.
They are perfect for a tea party!

3 August 2011

My first jewellery making class

Yesterday I took my very first jewellery making class!

I've been making jewellery for nearly 5 years now and all of my techniques are self taught via all the wonderful craft blogs out there and the tutorials you can find on YouTube.

One thing I really wanted to learn properly was pearl knotting, and a commission for restringing a pearl necklace spun me on to book a class and go. At first I thought I really wasn't going to ever get it, like most things, but after a few test pearls I was feeling confident to make the whole necklace.
The class was run by Sally at The Beaderie in Cambridge, only 5 people which was just right and Sally is an excellent teacher. I came back with a lovely freshwater pearl necklace which felt like a great achievement in 2 hours. Along with the commission I have to make I have plans for knotting some chunky long necklaces with some of the millions of beads I have left from past bead buying sprees.

2 August 2011

Kale Chips

Kale is one of those vegetables that I do like but always ends up getting left in the back of the fridge to go off. I received some in my veg box and after a week I really really needed to use it up. I normally put it on pizza but we weren't having pizza so I made kale chips, which I've heard about before.

Kale chips are super duper easy, it is nearly not a recipe.
Just wash your kale, remove the stalky bits and tear in to medium sized pieces. Drizzle over some olive oil and season, toss to cover all the leaves.
Bake in a low-medium oven (about 150c) for 10-15 minutes, turning every five minutes to stop them buring - mine caught a little bit which means they go a bit bitter.


1 August 2011

The Hole in the Wall, Little Wilbraham, Cambridge

I think Cambridge maybe in danger of becoming a good place to find good food. Slowly, very slowly new places are opening up which are inventive, yummy and good value. The opening of The Hole in the Wall Cambridge by Masterchef finalist Alex Rushmer has been much anticipated by foodies in Cambridge, especially me!

We went along for Sunday lunch on the most beautiful sunny day. The pub is set in a very pretty Cambridgeshire village, lots of cute cottages, well-kept gardens and scenic countryside.
The pub itself is also very nice-  a 16th century building with beams and low ceilings. Inside it still has quite a pub feel, I don't think a great deal has been done to the decor since they moved in, maybe something they are working on? Some of the fixtures are a little dated and the carpet is the extremely 1970s, but it doesn't really matter once you start reading the menu.

The menu comprises of 3 starters, 3 mains and much to my glee FOUR puddings. This is a good start. Often so many restaurants stick a couple of puds on, ice cream and cheese. Ice cream is not pudding! Vegetarians are catered for here too, only one dish on the starters and mains but both were fantastic and well thought out.

For starters I had the pea & ham soup which came with toasted brown bread. It was sweet and fresh with lovely smokey pieces of ham in the soup, I could have done with a bit more bread though, only one small piece for a large bowl of soup. My husband had the tomato and mozzarella salad which combined at least 4 different kinds of tomatoes in an olive oil and basil dressing with creamy mozzarella. The green tomatoes were my favourite, crisp on the outside and very soft in the middle, perfect.

For main I had the confit duck with pork cassoulet and very creamy mash. The duck was done to perfection, fall off the bone and the cassoulet had huge chunks of slow cooked pork inside. My only complaint would be that it was quite under seasoned, though salt and pepper were provided.

The vegetarian main which my husband had was really really well thought out. The peppers had been pre roasted til smokey and soft then stuffed with cous cous studded with aubergine, courgette and deep fried cheese, yes deep fried. It was then covered with goats cheese and cooked til bubbly.

The choice of puds was, as already mentioned, excellent. On the menu was a honeycomb cheesecake (my choice), lemon tart with blackberry sorbet, mirabelle plum charlotte and chocolate peppermint pots. My cheesecake was fluffy and rich at the same time, with a gingery based and a creamy top with chunks of honeycomb inside and on top.

My husband had the plum charlotte, we’d previously had the excellent apple charlotte at Le Gavroche so it had a lot to live up to. Whilst it wasn’t as good as Le Gav it was brilliant, the bread was so crispy and the inside very soft and full of plummy goodness.

We will definitely be going again soon, the food was excellent and the menu varied. The service was a little shakey but they’ve only been open for 2 weeks. I think now is an excellent time to go because so much seasonal produce is on show.

The Hole in the Wall Cambridge
Primrose Farm Road,
Little Wilbraham,
CB21 5JY


25 July 2011

Weddings, Jewellery and Food Blogging

This post is about something totally lovely. Over the last year or so I have found and met a group of local food bloggers in Cambridge, via the awesomeness that is Twitter. We've been to a Secluded Tea party together, had mulled wine and mince pies, eaten at the best Chinese restaurant in Cambridge (Peking Restaurant) and are planning many more foodie events in the next few months.
One of these lovely people is Nora, or Norathesplorer as she is known by her food blog readers. She was getting married this summer and asked me to make her a pair of Classic Pearl earrings for her special day. I love making bridal jewellery and I especially love making it when I know the bride.

 photography by Lauren McGlynn

She kindly sent me a picture of her on her wedding day, with the earrings on which go so well with her beautiful green dress. She also had a second dress which was a white gown which also went very well with the earrings.

Thank you Nora for making my jewellery part of your day, and for letting me blog a picture of your lovely wedding!


Isn't the Internet a lovely thing?

Weekend pictures

Lots of pictures from the weekend. A vintage looking Jess, making lavender sugar, coffee and cake at Greens Coffee Co , Jess atop a fence, making catnip 'strawberries' from Mollie Makes tutorial, made a gingham cushion cover, salt and pepper popcorn, found 'Home' old sign in the garden, first garlic harvest.