Beef Wellington Tarts

Beef Wellington TartsBeef Wellington is a traditional English dish that consists of a beef filet smothered in mushroom duxelles and foie gras pate and wrapped in pastry, then baked until golden and rare in the middle. If you ever watch any of the Gordon Ramsay shows it’s a dish you would know well, as it’s so easily destroyed by contestants trying to win the next big chef prize thing. So you see this dish a lot on menus in traditional fancy restaurants with a high price tag to match!

But sometimes you just don’t want to go out for dinner. Every so often I like to have a nice meal in the comfort of our own home. So I wanted to make something special for my husband for date night, and while this is such a ‘wow’ dish, it’s actually quite simple to make. Beef, mushrooms, foie gras, thyme, puff pastry. Simple ingredients that come together to make something unbelievably delicious. Slices of rare filet atop white wine mushrooms and fois gras, all laying on a bed of puffy, buttery pastry. Let’s just say, it was gobbled up happily and washed down with a gorgeous red Cotes du Rhone. Looking for a way to fancy up your Friday night? These Beef Wellington Tarts will make you feel like you’re at a top restaurant, without the hefty bill at the end!

Beef Wellington Tarts*Now I know the ethical issues with foie gras, so please feel free to use chicken liver or mushroom pate instead.  Continue reading

Mini Pumpkin Spice Doughnut Muffins

Mini Pumpkin Spice Doughnut MuffinsIt’s October folks! Leaves are changing color, the temperature is dropping and the sun sets earlier and earlier each night. But to most of us food bloggery people out there, that means just one thing: our Pinterest feeds are completely pumpkin-fied. I mean, it’s pretty much all pumpkin from August to December isn’t it? I’ve been thinking about which pumpkin based delights to make this year, and it’s really tricky living in the UK as NO ONE eats pumpkin in a sweet way. My husband still thinks pumpkin pie is weird (how I married him I’ll never know!). What better way to fulfill my American autumnal cravings than spiced, super moist bite size muffins that just scream Fall?Mini Pumpkin Spice Doughnut MuffinsThese muffins are great. Quick to mix together, bake in less than 15 minutes and are oh so satisfying. I love the way that the cinnamon sugar creates this kind of crust that encapsulates the spicy pumpkin sponge inside. These Mini Pumpkin Spice Doughnut Muffins truly are a treat for any occasion, not just breakfast! If they last longer than a day in your house, they can keep in an airtight container for a few days however the moisture can melt the coating. Just toss again in cinnamon sugar to freshen them up a bit!
Mini Pumpkin Spice Doughnut Muffins

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Portugal in an Instagram: Porto Edition

Bridge

Here’s Part Two of our beautiful summer vacation, in the picturesque Porto, Portugal. The bridges are absolutely stunning! Also, the whole city is in layers as it’s on a hill. Makes for amazing views and tired legs!PortoWe were lucky to have 3 beautiful days in this amazing city.Cathedral

The cathedral. I love this photo because of the sky. I mean, have you ever seen a sky more blue?Super BockSuper Bock is one of the major beer companies in Portugal. Refreshing and very light, so drinkable! FrancesinhaA dish that needs a bit of explanation: The Francesinha. It is a Portuguese sandwich made from bread, ham, sausage, steak and roasted pork covered with melted cheese and a tomato based beer sauce. Sometimes also topped with a fried egg. Sounds strange, but I wish they had this in San Diego for those mornings after a few too many drinks!

FrancesinhaThe inside of the Francesinha! We had this meal down by the Douro river at a Francesinha festival. There were muiltple restaurants, famous for serving this Portuguese delight, with pop ups open. It was an amazing way to introduce ourselves to Porto! Continue reading

Portugal in an Instagram: Lisbon Edition

Lisbon

Our summer vacation was in beautiful, sunny Portugal this year! As a country I have never been to before, I was SUPER excited to explore the picturesque sights and the delicious food. Here are some snaps from half of our trip, in the lovely Lisbon!

Arriving in Portugal

Arriving in Lisbon!

I Love Lisboa

I think I love this place already…

Metro

One of the simplest Metro systems I have ever used. Helps that the map is so pretty!The Tram

The famous Tram! Also useful as a canvas for street artists.Tour de Portugal

We were lucky enough to be walking by when the Tour de Portugal was coming through the square. They go properly fast!Bairro Alto

The Bairro Alto! The streets that lie atop the hill that burst with life at night. This is where all the bars are and where you can go see the sorrowful Fado singers.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria

Strawberry Rhubarb SangriaIt’s official, summer is over. This week I go back into the classroom and I look at the calendar, longing for the next holiday break. So this weekend we wanted to really enjoy ourselves before we say goodbye to another lovely summer. And what better way to enjoy yourself than a fruity, sparkly sangria?

My husbands godparents started their own allotment. Here in Britain, most people don’t have back gardens large enough to grow fruit and veg, so they rent a plot of land to do their gardening. We went to have a look and it was absolutely amazing! From corn to raspberries and potatoes to rainbow chard, they have truly begun a beautiful and fruitful garden. They had been so successful that we actually came away with about 5 bags chock full of the freshest, organic, most loved veg in the country. So obviously on the long drive home my mind was spinning with ideas for how we could put all these lovely veg to good use. The overflowing bag of rhubarb got me thinking…

Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria

I’ve made cakes, muffins and crumbles before, so how else could I use the perfectly pink hued, tart and tangy rhubarb? I’d seen it used in recipes for sangria before, and thought it would be a spot on combination. Most sangrias can be sickly sweet, but the sour notes in the rhubarb would take it to a whole new level. But- the fruit that soaks up the booze can be quite delicious, too. So go ahead, throw some strawberries in there! And while you’re at it, forget the wine, use some bubbly! We want this Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria to be special. And now a toast: To summer, you were great while you were here, and you will be missed. Until next time. Cheers!

Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria Continue reading

French Onion Bruschetta

French Onion Bruschetta

I LOVE French onion soup. It is definitely one of my favorite soups for so many reasons, I mean how many soups are there that are topped with bread and melted cheese? Mmmmm… But, French onion soup can take quite a long time to make, as well as being quite filling and pretty much a meal in itself (Hello cheese!). I wanted to have that satisfaction of a French onion soup with a bit less fuss. Why not just change the construction of the soup and have a few punchy bites of French onion flavor? It’s too hot for soup anyway. Let’s try some French Onion Bruschetta.

This bruschetta is AWESOME. Slowly cooked and caramelized onions are infused with thyme and soak up tasty beef stock and brandy. The smell when you’re cooking the onions is just to die for. One tip here: make sure you don’t skimp on onion cooking time. It could take as long as 45 minuted to get onions that are properly brown, soft and caramelized. Before adding the liquid, make sure the onions are cooked down enough. Once you’ve cooked perfectly sweet and rich onions, a toasted baguette is topped with gruyere cheese and melted under the broiler for that melty cheese goodness that makes me crave a hot bowl of French Onion Soup. Then it’s as simple as topping the cheese with the onions, sprinkling with more cheese and a dash of fresh thyme! Simple, easy and one of the best bites I’ve had in a long time.

French Onion Bruschetta

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Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes

Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes

Thick and fluffy, super yummy, smothered in syrup and stacked to the ceiling. The ideal way to enjoy pancakes. I’ve made lots of different pancakes and used may different recipes (see here, here, here and here), but these are my new favorite. You can tell just by the batter that the pancakes will be super thick and fluffy, which was exactly what you want for a leisurely weekend breakfast. I bought a beautiful punnet of local strawberries the other week, you know the kind that you can smell from a mile away. I opened up the fridge to get milk for my cup of tea, and the sweet scent was overwhelming. In that instant, I had an epiphany, well I guess more like a sudden and staggeringly strong craving. Pancakes. It had to be pancakes. But not any old pancakes, Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes.

Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes

These pancakes are the perfect morning pick me up. The sweet strawberries really shine in a batter that’s not too sweet that seems unnaturally full of air. The main tip here is not to over-mix your batter. You will lose all the fluffiness and end up with “flat as a pancake” pancakes. No bueno. But then there’s your accompaniments. A pad of slightly salted butter is brilliant or maybe even a strawberry compote. But honestly, when it comes to pancakes I’m a purist. There’s nothing better than smothering your steaming hot pancakes with real maple syrup.

Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes

By the way, what do you think of my cute new tea towel? Check out the last photo for my favorite bit!

Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes

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