Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

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I don’t know about you, but when I’m having a cheeky pre-dinner cocktail, glass of vino or G&T I like something to snack on. Something savoury, something satisfyingly moreish and occasionally something slightly more healthy than my Cheddar & Thyme Crackers. (although both together would be nice!)

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These chickpeas totally fit the bill. They’re smoky, spicy and crunchy on the outside, with a slight squish in the middle. They’re pretty hard to resist but if you find yourself eating more than a handful there’s no need to feel guilty! Bonus!

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Whipping up a batch of these lovely little morsels couldn’t be easier. A can of chickpeas, mixed with a little olive oil and the spices of your choice, roasted in the oven for 30-40 minutes until crunchy, done! They’re so adaptable too, I’m thinking garlic powder and rosemary next time… (continue reading…)

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Date, Almond, Coconut & Chocolate Energy Balls

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Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you that exercise isn’t really my thing. The closest I’ve come to organised sport is a rather inappropriate Saturday job at JJB Sports whilst I was in the sixth form, not sure what I was thinking there.

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If it wasn’t for the massive amount of cake involved in writing a food blog I doubt I would ever exercise at all. As it stands, there are only 2 things that get me through a painful gym session: an old episode of Downton Abbey on my iPad (new series starts tonight!!) and one (or maybe two) of these scrumptious energy balls.

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Pop a stock of these chocolatey, coconuty, almondy balls in your fridge (or freezer) and you’ve got yourself some bite sized bursts of energy at your finger tips, just the ticket for a post-work workout. They’re also perfect for that afternoon slump, when you just can’t go on without something sweet. Just keep in mind that they’re not chocolate truffles, they’re packed full of dates, and if you get too carried away you may be spending a little more time in the smallest room of the house than you’re used to! (apologies for lowering the tone!) (continue reading…)

Cheddar & Thyme Crackers

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Today feels like a comfort food kind of a day, sometimes it’s the only way to alleviate that Sunday fug and when I think of comfort food, I think of cheese (and mashed potato, but that would make a pretty poor blog post). Thankfully I already had all of the ingredients necessary to make some absolutely marvellous cheese crackers, so I didn’t have to drag myself to the shops.

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These crackers are puffed, flakey and intensely cheesy and would be utterly brilliant at a cocktail party or with a cheeky vino on a Friday night. Alternatively just wolf them whilst slobbing out on the sofa in front of cooking show after cooking show on the Food Network. Sounds good to me.

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They’re predominantly made out of mature cheddar cheese and very little else, which is undoubtably what makes them so completely gorgeous. Joy the Baker’s original recipe makes 70 crackers, which would be much too dangerous in this household, so I’ve halved the recipe. I also decided to sub the spices for thyme, as the gorgeousness of cheddar combined with thyme can’t be beat, and the smell when they’re cooking, oh my word, hold me back! (continue reading…)

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

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For a while there I lost sight of why I started this blog. Swept away by a preoccupation with views, foodgawker and a need for validation, I forgot the reason for this blog’s existence: motivation to cook something new and to improve my photography. I spent a disproportionate amount of time evaluating whether a chocolate cookie or a quinoa salad would get me more views, rather than thinking about what I actually wanted to cook and eat. Suddenly it all felt like too much work and the enjoyment was gone. Combine that with a couple of summer holidays and moving to the other side of the Thames and you’ve got 3 months without a blog post.

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It’s time for a new beginning. From now on, I’ll cook what I want, when I want. If I don’t post every week, it’s not the end of the world. If foodgawker don’t like my photos, I’ll cope. If no one reads my posts, admittedly I’ll be a tiny bit sad but I know my mum will still tune in and that’s good enough for me.

Coconut Macaroons Ingredients

To celebrate this new attitude, I decided to whip something up using one of my favourite foods, the coconut. Coconut macaroons are my idea of heaven, mainly when accompanied with dark chocolate, rendering them reminiscent of a Bounty bar. For those unfamiliar with the Bounty (you poor things!) it’s like an Almond Joy bar but without the almond and soooo much better! (continue reading…)

Apple & Chilli Chutney

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Until today, I’d always lived up to my scaredy cat name and been more than a little terrified of making preserves.  It wasn’t so much making the chutney or jam itself, more the whole process of sterilising jars and keeping everything scrupulously clean.  It always seemed like such a palaver and I was sure I’d mess it up, scold myself with boiling water and  produce a preserve that didn’t last five minutes, rendering the whole thing pointless.

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But then I discovered that you don’t have to boil your jars for ages in a humungous pan of water, you can actually perform the whole sterilisation process in a dishwasher on the hottest setting! I had to give it a go. All I already had the perfect beginners recipe.

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Back in November, I visited my sister in New York and one lunchtime she presented me with a platter of round slices of toasted french bread, smothered in melted cheddar and served up with this chutney on the side. She’d made the chutney to use up a glut of apples from an apple picking trip to upstate New York and I immediately knew this recipe had to go on the blog. However, a lack of glass jars and me constantly forgetting to order them, combined with my preserving phobia, led to a 3 month time lag. (continue reading…)

Vegan and Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies with Almond Butter Swirls

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When my friend Rebecca comes to stay, I pretend to be a tourist. Together we visit London zoo, art galleries and museums. We wander the streets and admire landmarks, and we also spend a lot of our time on missions to specialist shops and eateries. As Rebecca is, rather stressfully for a keen baker like me, a strict vegan.

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I’ve come to utterly love our weekends, not least because our Saturday nights are usually finished off with a cocktail or 2. So when she came to stay this weekend I felt she needed a treat, something to sustain her through our endless tourist ramblings. It was time to take on the challenge of vegan baking.

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There was only one place to go for guidance and that was the wonderful blog, Minimalist Baker. Dana features lots of vegan recipes, all tirelessly tested and tweaked, so I knew she’d see me right. And oh boy, did she! (continue reading…)

Sticky Ginger, Dark Chocolate Dipped, Flapjacks

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First thing’s first, I must apologise to anyone who clicked though to this post expecting to see some pancakes. Nope these aren’t pancakes, they’re granola bars, but as far as I’m concerned oats, butter and golden syrup = flapjack.  Sorry Americans!

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My boyfriend’s first and only attempt at baking, and in addition, the first thing he ever cooked for me,  was some coconut and apricot flapjacks. They may have crumbled into tiny shards, but they were utterly scrumptious.  Therefore, flapjacks have a special place in my heart. And then, I saw Nigel Slater dip a flapjack into melted dark chocolate and I almost fainted.

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So when one of my friends requested a tray bake that could possibly be eaten for breakfast, I knew what had to be done.  Admittedly the addition of chocolate makes these a pretty decadent breakfast but it’s only a thin coating, go on treat yourself! (continue reading…)

Lavender Marshmallows

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Guys! Guys! Guys! (To be shouted in the Brooklyn accent of my tiny niece) I beg you, I implore you, make your own marshmallows, it’s an absolute revelation.

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The inspiration for this recipe came from evening at Mark Hix’s marvellous restaurant Tramshed. What sets Tramshed apart is the fact that its menu is super simple, offering you the main course choice of either chicken or steak. Between the 4 of us, we ordered both a whole roast chicken and a massive steak and let me tell you, these guys know what they’re doing. However, it was the dessert that really knocked me out.

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Our choice of dessert consisted of a chocolate fondue with fresh mini donuts and marshmallows for dipping, insanely decadent. I don’t think I’d ever eaten a freshly made marshmallow before and they just blew me away. They were fluffy, sweet and moist, they melted almost instantly in the mouth and, thankfully, they bore absolutely no resemblance to the packaged, chemical ridden variety. (continue reading…)

Spiced Honey Roast Almonds

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A lovely weekend back home with my family, involving plenty of good food and a wonderful Christening, (Yes, I finally have my first Godchild, Harry, and he is utterly gorgeous!)  resulted in no daylight time in my own kitchen. Therefore, I was forced to invade the family kitchen and whip up something quick, simple, yet oh so good!

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Is it just me, or are almonds just the best thing ever? Not only do they taste amazing in their natural raw state (and apparently lower your cholesterol), but they’re also a dream cake ingredient, the perfect addition to granola, essential for a beautiful macaroon (I simply must master these soon!) and the key ingredient of my all time favourite, frangipane. But what’s more, roast them up, drizzle them with honey and spices, and you’ve got something seriously special on your hands.

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This was my first attempt at home roasted nuts, but I needn’t have worried, it really is simple. As long as you set your kitchen timer and don’t abandon them, there’s very little risk of them burning, they’ll just turn a slightly darker brown, their taste will be intensified and your kitchen will smell amazing! (continue reading…)

Salted Pistachio & Dark Chocolate Biscotti

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Salt and sweet, for me it’s a life long love affair. Despite the fact that I’m as British as bangers and mash, my childhood lunch of choice was most definitely the all-American peanut butter and jam sandwich, PB and J if you will / must. (I’m sorry, I just can’t call it jelly, you have to draw the line somewhere!)

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As I’ve matured (umm…) and developed a mildly crazy peanut phobia, so my tastes have evolved, but my salty/sweet love has not abated. I could eat chocolate covered pretzels until they’re coming out of my ears, but my most recent obsession is the salted chocolate chip cookie.

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Having previously whipped up a very tasty batch of salted pistachio and dark chocolate cookies, I was keen to find out whether a salted biscotti would work equally well. And let me tell you, salted chocolate seems to work in just about anything! (continue reading…)