Chicken, Bacon & Leek Pie

I’m not going to lie, by the time it gets to Friday I am exhausted. I want to curl up on the sofa with James and nod off in front of the TV or a book; if I am awake past 10:30 pm I am impressed. I imagine the getting up at 6:15 am and 3 hours of commuting every day is what probably does it. Friday night dinners therefore need to be comforting, filling (so that hunger isn’t likely to wake me up early in the morning) and a tiny bit naughty, a treat for making it through the week and all its obligations.

Chick, Bacon & Leek Pie

This past Friday I decided to make this and I am so glad we have leftovers for another night because it performed all its tasks admirably, it tasted delicious and far more indulgent that it was. This is evident by the poor quality of photos because I just wanted to get that pie in my face!

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Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm – The Book Tour

I’ve stepped away from book review posts, I love to read but I love to blog about food. However, some books just blur the lines between food and books and inspire recipes, so I have to share them. I often blog about Rebecca Raisin’s books (and I often wish I lived in them) and this one is just far to fabulous to not share with you (I already have once in fact). I suggest you read the whole Ashford (Connecticut) series beginning with the Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy, moving onto Sarah’s bookshop (who is soon going on an adventure in Paris with a Paris mini-series is on the cards) and then find yourself at the Maple Syrup Farm (and eagerly awaiting all the Rebecca Raisin books that are yet to be released). I could not put this book down, I even had to read it on the bus (and I cannot read on buses at all), it was all consuming and fabulous and just the escape I needed (what I need more though is the sequel).

Secrets_at_MSFarm_1

When Rebecca announced she was doing a book release blog tour I jumped at the chance! I tell everyone I can about how much I love her books, so I thought I’d shout it from my blog too.

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Fruit & Honey Flapjacks

I went for dinner at my dearest Jenny’s house a couple of weeks ago and her mum had baked something delicious. They were flapjacks but they were fruity and delicious and I needed the recipe ASAP. Luckily she obliged but of course I changed it up a bit, I’m so pro real butter but I was using these for my ‘healthy’ mid morning snack so I subbed the sugar for honey. The recipe was half honey and half sugar but I made it all honey. I know that sugar is sugar is sugar but I just feel better when the bees made it. Oh, I also subbed half the dried apricots for dried cranberries because I really love dried cranberries.

Fruit & Honey Flapjacks

These are the perfect balance of nutrition and naughty, in my eyes, they are packed with fruit, seeds and nuts but also have that sweet, buttery deliciousness. These may be good for you but I’m not deluded that they are healthy in the sense that if you are torn between a banana or this, have the banana, but if you are torn between the triple layer chocolate fudge cake or the fruity flapjack then this is the choice to make because IT IS DELICIOUS. Unfortunately I was just sent a photo of the recipe so I am unable to credit it but I will do so as soon as I find it!

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Banana & Nibs Cake

The Hotel Chocolat cook book ‘A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate‘ is a rare one in that it has two banana bread recipes, not only that but they are in the breakfast section; now that, is someone speaking my language. I’ve already posted one of those recipes on the blog which contained coconut butter, spelt flour, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate and pecans, I was excited just reading the ingredients, never mind eating the cake. That recipe was delicious but it is only fair that I try the other recipe too and this recipe is amazing too. It is so hard to choose which I like best and Gingerbread Jenn threw a total, delicious, spanner into the works by combining my favourite parts of each recipe into one new recipe, which I have yet to try but most definitely will be.

Banana bread

There can never be enough banana cake recipes in the world, it really is such a flexible, delicious, comforting and warm hug of a cake. The previous banana cake recipe I made was Angus Thirwell’s (co-founder of Hotel Chocolat) and this recipe is Jon Bentham’s (Executive Chef of Hotel Chocolat).

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Fresh Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream

Some weeks call for a lot of ice cream and this week has been one of those; with a master’s deadline zooming towards me at alarming speed, an appraisal, the stress of concert tickets I wanted more than almost anything else and several nights of being unable to sleep, I am one emotional ball of “GIVE ME ICE CREAM”. I have had my ice cream maker bucket in the freezer since the sun hinted it might be summer soon, waiting to make ALL THE ICE CREAM. It didn’t quite work out that way, we’ve been so busy, but earlier this week I knew it was time. There was no contest on flavour, I’ve been on a huge mint chocolate binge recently, which is odd. I’ll forever be a praline/hazelnut dark chocolate girl but earlier in the year it was chocolate orange cravings and now we’re into the warmer months of the year it is refreshing mint chocolate’s turn to fill my every waking thought. Dark chocolate though, always.

Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream

I turned to my David Lebovitz book ‘The Perfect Scoop’ and found the recipe for his fresh mint ice cream because if I was making mint ice cream then I sure as hell was going to be using my beautiful mint plant. It turns out I needed ten more times the leaves I had available but I think the mint flavour was strong enough (although I am desperate to try it with the advised amount). Perfect scoop it was, this was the best consistency ice cream I have ever made, it scooped straight out of the freezer. I credit my new spatula with this progress in making ice cream because it is the spatula that David Lebovitz waxes lyrical about and when the recipe said ‘until it coats the back of the spatula’ and it coated the back of the spatula, I just knew it’d be the right consistency custard this time.

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2015 films, the second quarter

I’m a couple of weeks late on this post but here are a few reviews of the films I’ve seen in April, May and June. Sadly San Andreas isn’t on the list, I really wanted to see that. Have you seen it? Recommend it?

Fast & Furious 7 (2015) Poster1) Fast & Furious 7

I have a thing about this genre of film, far fetched action, I just absolutely love it. For example The Expendables films are up their in my ‘most favourite films’ list and I’ll watch anything with Statham in (the voice and looks help but really it’s the type of film he is in). I was super excited about this film and also dreading it; I knew there would be a tribute to Paul Walker in it, which there absolutely should be, but it had me in absolute floods of tears. Knowing how close those guys were in real life, seeing it amplified throughout the film and then watching the cast pay tribute to him by retiring his character from the series and privately saying their goodbyes through the help of Walker’s brothers and CGI, was rather emotional. That aside, the film was fantastic; completely far-fetched and unrealistic. F&F 7 sees Toretto and his team hunted by the brother (Statham) of the bad guy that they left in a coma in the previous film. Toretto and ‘family’ then end up caught in the middle of something much bigger, a terrorist organisation  and a government body. The terrorist organisation have taking hostage a hacker who has created the technology ‘God’s Eye’ that can track anyone, anywhere in a matter of minutes, promising to change the face of warfare if in the wrong hands. The government organisation want the technology for themselves and offer Toretto the chance to use it to track down Shaw (Statham) with it, if they get their hands on it. Queue ridiculous stunts, flying cars out of planes, Dwayne Johnson doing his thing and many a drag race. We also see Letty back in the team. It is everything it should be with a side of knife to the heart. A wonderful tribute to Paul’s memory. I can’t bring myself to give such a poignent film a number out of 10 but it was brilliant and ridiculous, just how I like it.

Cinderella (2015) Poster2) Cinderalla

I went to see this film with a friend (a fellow Disney lover) for her birthday. I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t love Maleficent (as I expected it to be darker) but for Cinderella I was expected a charming prince and a quaint, princess inspired story and it did exactly what it says on the tin. It was a lovely (especially visually), slightly too cutesy, live action version of the Cinderella we love. I secretly only went to see it because Helena Bonham-Carter was in it, but it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours. I’m not sure I would rush to watch it a second time, but I am glad I did. 7/10.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Poster3) Avengers: Age of Ultron

We love Marvel and all of the Avengers films and character films. That being said, I found this the weakest of them all. Which was sad because I purposely didn’t watch any trailers, so that nothing was ruined and as a piece of cinema it was magnificent. As a film and story though, I thought it just lacked substance. I still enjoyed it but there were no ‘moments’ like there are in all the other Avengers/Marvel films, I couldn’t even pick a favourite moment because I couldn’t really remember any stand out scenes. I just felt it focused too much on the special effects and the visual side of things and lacked in story line. Having said this, I’ve never read the comics but it may be accurate to those but there was a lot left unexplained that could have done with being explained. 7/10

Home (2015) Poster

4) Home

I took my little sisters to see this as I’d heard great things about it. Unfortunately though, I didn’t love it as much as it appeared other people did. The first half I didn’t love but by the end of it I was emotionally invested and it turned out to be a nice story. If you haven’t seen it or heard about it, aliens come to Earth, running away from the Gorg, the aliens take over Earth, thinking they are improving the simple humans’ lives. One alien though, Oh, is a little different and finds himself in close contact with a real life Human, a little girl called Tip. It seems both have a lot to learn about each other, in their quest to find Tip’s mum. 5/10.

Jurassic World (2015) Poster

5) Jurassic World

I was dubious about this film, I’d heard mixed reviews and the despite having a love of dinosaurs stemming from my obsession with them as a 4 year old, I was not in a film mood when I went to see this film. I was nodding off in the adverts in fact. However, once it started I was hooked, I loved this film. It was fun, charming, packed with dinosaurs and Chris Pratt was excellent. I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it again, it was such a good combination of edge of the seat and heart warming. 8.5/10.

French Toast and Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm

This recipe is inspired by (and features in) the latest book (due out on July 17th) Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin. Rebecca has written some of my absolute favourite books, all (so far) set in the deliciously quaint town of Ashford, Connecticut with her gang of incredible characters. The relationships between the characters literally warms my heart and I want so badly to move to Ashford and be their friend. Whilst Lil (who I’ve blogged about here, here & here, and reviewed several Rebecca Raisin books in this post) is my kindred spirit in these books, this book focused around Lucy who is an artist and a totally new character who has been made to promise her mum (whom she cares for) that she’d take a year for herself and get on the first bus out of town. I couldn’t help but love Lucy and don’t get me started on the mysterious maple syrup farm owner Clay, what a character he was! I could not put this book down, I HAD to know what happened and despite it not being officially out yet I am in desperate need of the sequel to it. I HAVE TO KNOW, it is imperative. In this book Lil cooks Lucy some French toast and I realised how long it had been since I’d rustled up this favourite for breakfast myself.

French Toast

So here goes, my recipe for French toast…

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