Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I am Prepped!

This morning marks a small achievement. Several weeks ago, I was luck enough to have been invited by the lovely Vanessa Kimbell to the launch of her first cookery book, Prepped! I travelled to Northampton for the day to meet Vanessa and her team of Preperatti. I can now safely say that I have become firm friends with some of the wondeful ladies I met there. Including the wonderful Vanessa. You can read more about the launch party on my Hello! Magazine.com blog here:


I waited to pick up a copy from the launch, and Vanessa very kindly signed my copy for me. I sat on the train back to London engrossed in the book. I had to put it away for 5 minutes when I hopped off the train at Euston to change connection, and then out it came as I hopped on the Victoria line. All the way back to Brixton. By the time I returned home, I had read most of the book, cover to cover. But more importantly, I had formulated a plan. The very next day, I practially cleared Lakeland out of Le Parfait jars and glass bottles. I bought every pack of caster sugar on the shelves of my local shop. I kid you not. They did look a little perplexed seeing me purchase roughly 26 kilos of sugar on a friday night. Very quickly, I started to build up a collection of flavoured sugars and syrups, and I set out to cook my way through Prepped!

And I've now done it. My cupboards are now even more stuffed full of bottles and jars. I even have some presents made for Christmas. My personal favourites are the jams, elderflower syrup, the caraway soda bread and the spiced lamb and rhubarb tagine.

So Vanessa, I am officially Prepped! and have loved every minute. I just hope my own cookery book is half as good!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Fun and Frustration

It’s the weekend. I’m back in Dorset. The weekend didn’t start how I had planned. We’ve been overrun with orders this week. Part of me is thrilled that Go Free is doing so well, but it is sheer hard graft just ensuring everything is done. And by everything, I mean the most urgent tasks. My to do list is endless. But I don’t want to moan. Sometimes life feels a bit surreal when you are driving cakes around the country at 11pm on a Friday night, having not slept for at least three nights in the week. I had to stop at Fleet services for a cheeky snooze – I was literally falling asleep at the wheel. I am two weeks off of my 27th birthday. Part of me is really proud of everything I have achieved to date and all the exciting plans that lie ahead of me. The other part of me, however does wish I could just relax and enjoy life a bit more like my friends. I can’t remember what it’s like to come home in the evening and just relax. I’m always working until the wee hours. Always thinking about the next steps and just getting through, day by day.
But this weekend hasn’t all been about hard graft. On Saturday I was lucky enough to meet with my wonderful friends Nicole and Philippa. It was such a treat to see Nicole, my oldest friend and her beautiful baby boy, who are over from Paris. We went to the local pub and sat in the sunshine. I spent the morning in my nearest town, Wimborne. I had an interview in the diary for my Hello! Magazine.com blog. It went so well. I was genuinely touched by how lovely some people are. I also stumbled across some exciting new foodie destinations in town which I will be blogging about soon. There is a great energy in the Dorset food world at present.

On the way home, I was practically pulling the car into the driveway, when I noticed a neighbour had put out a stand of vegetables from her garden. I screeched to a holt and jumped out of the car and relieved my very sweet elderly neighbour of some lovely runner beans and marrows.  Together with some really lovely damsons and rhubarb I picked up from the greengrocers in town, I knew I had a busy afternoon ahead of me.  I laid everything out in the kitchen when I got back and just had to take a snap it looked so good

There is something so satisfying about cooking at the weekend. It is so different when you are not pushed to get a meal on the table quickly. I picked up some lovely Yorkshire rhubarb and made some jars of Vanessa Kimbell’s rhubarb jam from Prepped.

I decided to make the scone recipe from the book too

There have been some advantages to being antisocial.  I am saving.  I feel about 10 years old again as I have been asking for money for my birthday. I’m going to be buying a super duper Canon SLR camera and a Macbook Pro. I am embarrassed by the quality of my photos and my elderly laptop is on its last legs.  So, I hope my blogging will be looking much better in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Keeping busy, eating well

It’s been a funny few weeks. I am based in Brixton when in London. You know what’s happened there. What is more, Go Free has exploded order-wise recently, so I have literally been working round the clock to get everything done. However, as busy as I have been, I have managed to find the time for some great food.
I recently had a lovely supper at my friend Julia’s house in Fulham. Julia is such a wonderful friend, a real inspirational, and a great cook. My friend Laura was there too. It was such a fun evening spent with two of my favourite people. We drunk Kir Royale and reminisced about when we lived in Paris. Check out this amazing chicken tagine Julia made

I seem to spend my days running around trying to fit in everything I need to do. So when I get in of an evening, I am invariably ravenous. I’m sure this is partly down to sheer greed, but there are some times when only a pizza will do. It has to be homemade. This was my supper last night. Sorry the photo is a bit blurry. I took it on my phone. You can clearly tell I was in a rush to tuck in!

Why not try and make pizza at home? It is simpler and more delicious than you’d think. Here is my fail safe freefrom recipe. N.B. I put parma ham and mushrooms on the pizza in the photo.
Free From Kitchen’s Thin & Crispy Pizza
-          150g Wheat and gluten free bread flour
(A blend of rice flour, potato flour, tapioca flour & xanthan gum)
-          ¾ tsp baking powder
-          ½ tsp salt
-          ½ tsp sugar
-          1 tsp Sunflower oil
-          ½ large free-range egg, beaten
-          75-110 ml lukewarm water
-          7g dried fast action yeast
1)      Preheat the oven to 200°C/400F/Gas Mark 6
2)      Grease a baking tray with sunflower oil
3)      Pour the lukewarm water into a measuring jug, and stir in the sugar and yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes.
4)      Sift the flour into a bowl, add the salt and baking powder and make a well in the centre.
5)      In a separate bowl, whisk the sunflower oil and egg together until well combined, then pour into the sifted flour with the yeast mix.
6)      Mix well for a couple of minutes until the dough until the dough is smooth.
7)      Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel or cling film and leave for twenty minutes in a warm place.
8)      Transfer the dough onto the baking tray and roll out with a rolling pin. If the dough is too sticky, you can grease two squares of greaseproof paper or sheets of cling film with sunflower oil, place the dough between the sheets of paper and roll out with a rolling pin.
9)      Bake the base in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and add your toppings and bake for a further 10 – 15 minutes until toppings are melted and bubbling and the base feels crisp.