Gin Thyme Lemonade

30 January 2015

After a long and busy week, Friday is finally here. With this in mind I thought I'd share a quick recipe with you; one that's the perfect way to end a busy week and see in the weekend.

Gin Thyme Lemonade

Quick, easy and refreshing. Be sure to buy a good quality lemonade for this recipe, you want it made with real lemons for that zingy flavour.

75cl bottle of traditional lemonade
1 small bunch of lemon thyme (ordinary thyme will do)
lemon, sliced.

Pop two or three ice cubes into a tumbler and add a measure of gin. Top up with the lemonade and add a few sprigs of thyme and a slice of lemon. You could insert several sprigs of thyme into the lemonade bottle a few hours ahead of serving (remember to screw the lids back on tightly) for a stronger hit of thyme. Feel free to omit the gin for non-drinkers.

As featured in the January 2015 issue of The Simple Things
Photography: Buttercup Days

A Gathering for Friends

26 January 2015

I love nothing more than hosting a small informal gathering; inviting friends to my home to share a home-cooked meal together.

Invariably, I will cook a simple supper; unfussy but considered. I will allow myself time to plan and prepare. For occasions such as these I will bypass the busy supermarket and head to a local greengrocers, fishmongers and bakers to purchase what catches my eye. Having done some research browsing through my cook books, food magazine tear-outs and the internet, I'll usually head to the shops with something in mind; a stew, a robust winter salad or something as vague as some locally caught fish, herbs and good bread or maybe just a determination to track down the first of the blood oranges. I’ll probably pick up some flowers from the florist to – nothing grand, just a few pretty blooms to place in an old jam jar or a small vase #littletouches.

The weekend before last we had some friends come down to stay. These were old friends from where we use to live. With kids, work and busy lives we don't see each other as much as we'd all like, so this was an occasion we were all very much looking forward to. I believe times spent with friends sharing food and conversation is so good for you; there really is nothing quite like reconnecting around the dinner table catching up on each others lives, whilst lingering over a meal and a bottle of wine (or two). 

For me every such meal needs to end with a pudding. I often plan my menu from the pudding back. I used this occasion as an excuse to try out a recipe from a new cookbook of mine, Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. The recipe was Set 'Cheesecake' with Plum Compote. It is a deconstructed cheesecake, where the compote, cake and crumble are made and kept separate. Other than the fact I can never resist a cheesecake, I was drawn to the recipe as its components (which were easy to prepare) could be done so 24 hours in advance. Having pudding ticked off the list the day before appeals to my ‘control' streak. Here are a few pictures of the said pudding. It was delicious and there was enough leftover the next day for photographing and eating (again).

Click here for a link to a greengage compote version of the same recipe.

A New Job + Parmesan & Thyme Popcorn

7 January 2015

Happy new Year. 

I'm starting the year off with some doubly good news. Those regular readers of this blog may recall that  I had some of my work published in The Simple Things back in September. Well not long after that, they commissioned me to create and photograph a series of 'snack' recipes to accompany a feature they were to run on book clubs. The feature is out in all its glory in the January issue of the magazine. I will run the recipes over the next couple of weeks here on the blog, but if you can't wait that long go grab yourself a copy from any good newsagents. I promise you won't be disappointed.

The second bit of news also relates to The Simple Things: I am their new Shopping Editor! The position was given to me back in November when I was launched straight into their February issue. That coupled with the onslaught of Christmas meant I'm only just sharing my news now - not that it has really sunk in quite yet. The roles means that I can indulge in my passion for design - sourcing lovely new products for the home and self and discovering wonderful independent retailers and creatives for my 'Shop of the Month' and 'Designer of the Month' columns that run alongside my product pages every month. My debut issue is the February one, so not too long to wait until see will my work in its good old fashioned print form. I can't wait.

But, back to the recipe. Parmesan & Thyme Popcorn did feature on the blog some time ago, but I am taking the liberty of running it again, along with a couple of the new images that I took for The Simple Things. 

Parmesan & Thyme Popcorn (makes plenty)

This is a super-quick savoury snack to make and one that can be adapted to what you might have in your fridge. Feel free to swap the Parmesan for another hard cheese and the Thyme for another herb – Marjoram or finely chopped rosemary would be perfect. The melted butter, cheese and herbs mix together and form a kind of pesto that coats the popcorn. Warning: these are very moreish.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 tbsp popping corn
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese
a good handful of thyme, leaves picked.
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan. Tip in the popping corn and cover with a lid. Allow the corn to pop over a medium heat, giving the pan a little shake now and again. Once the popping ceases remove the pan from the heat. Take care when removing the lid - there may still be a bit of popping activity going on. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan.

Tip the popcorn into a large bowl and add the melted butter, grated parmesan, chopped herbs and seasoning. Mix throughly, taste and add further seasoning, more herbs or cheese depending on taste.