Places to visit: Weekend away to London

IMG_3047Hey!

Last weekend my boyfriend Oli and I went away to London. Even though he absolutely hates fish, one of my Christmas presents was a sushi making workshop at Yo! Sushi in St Paul’s. I’d completely forgotten about it until recently and thought it was the perfect excuse for a cute weekend away.

I deliberated over where to stay in London for such a long time but settled on Victoria as that’s where we were arriving and leaving from. We arrived into London Victoria at noon and, after getting lost due to my dire sense of direction, arrived at St James’ Court, a Taj hotel to drop off our bags. Having paid similar prices to stay in pokey rooms in London before, we were pleasantly surprised at how lovely (and fancy!) the hotel was, and how spacious the room was. Our room looked out on to the pretty courtyard below which doubles as a restaurant in summer. The staff were friendly and very accommodating during our stay (even letting us check in 3 hours early for no extra fee). There are several restaurants within the hotel, including the Michelin starred Quilon restaurant or if you’re on more of a budget their Bistro 53 accepts tastecards for 50% off food. The hotel is in an ideal location- just round the corner from Buckingham palace, Big Ben and the London eye and only a twenty minute walk up the Mall to Piccadilly Circus. Will definitely stay here again, perfect location and good value for the cost.

jamies-o.jpg (640×408)We’d booked tickets for the matinee performance of Book of Mormon, so after checking in and leaving our bags at the hotel, we headed to Piccadilly circus in the lovely sunshine. For lunch, we decided to get a bite to eat at Jamie Oliver’s Popup Diner, which is just off Piccadilly circus and has a takeaway downstairs and a sit down restaurant upstairs. The food on the menu is mostly burgers, hot dogs, ribs and chicken wings. We sat upstairs and I had calamari and Oli had a burger. The food was nice and not too expensive, but not anything special really. It’s about twice the price in the restaurant as the takeaway, so if I went again I’d definitely just get food from the takeaway!

IMG_3049We then headed to the Prince of Wales theatre to watch The Book of Mormon, which was absolutely hilarious. Written by the makers of South Park, it’s a religious satire musical about two trainee Mormon missionaries who get sent to Uganda to share their beliefs. It’s definitely worth seeing!

IMG_3053After the theatre, we went for a bit of shopping on Regent and Oxford Street, where we stumbled upon Ponti’s Italian Kitchen. It’s on Duke Street, just round the corner from Selfridges. The food was delicious-  I highly recommend it. IMG_3054We had the Mixed Italian Cured Meats platter to share for starter, with lots of salami and parma ham. I had the Prawn Linguine for main and my boyfriend had the Spaghetti Carbonara. They also have a restaurant in Oxford circus where they put on Pizza school classes in the evenings, so I’ll  definitely be going there again next time I’m in London.

We decided to nip to Covent garden on the Sunday morning for some more shopping. We had lunch at Maxwell’s bar and grill with my new tastecard, which made our food 2 for 1 (brilliant if you’re a cringey bargain hunter like me!). I got a fillet steak and my boyfriend got a burger. The steak was brilliant, definitely worth much more than it cost with my tastecard! It’s also cocktail happy hour all day on Sundays so I had a Raspberrylicious cocktail- definitely worth a try.

IMG_3085We then headed to St Paul’s for our Yo! Sushi workshop. Sushi is one of my favourite things, so I was really excited for it.  We learnt how to make loads of different things, including my favourite, Salmon and avocado hand roll. IMG_3059It’s harder than it looks, especially when you have to flip the rice over without it falling apart! We left with so much sushi too which was great!

Had a great weekend in London and would recommend the Book of Mormon, Ponti’s and the Yo sushi workshop to anyone going soon!

Sofia 🙂

Homemade apple crumble

Online shopping is so handy, especially since I’ve only just got back from a fortnight at home for Easter. But when my Asda shop arrived yesterday all my apples were either bruised or holey and there’s nothing worse than eating a bruised apple.  I didn’t want to waste them so I decided to make a crumble. It doesn’t take long to make and tastes great!

Preparation time: 10 minsIMG_3043

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves 4

Great when served with ice cream, single cream or custard.

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Venison and pork sausage casserole with red wine

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Whilst I was visiting a friend in Oxford a few weeks ago her mum made the best sausage casserole I’ve ever had. I decided to try it for myself with a mixture of venison and pork sausages. It’s quick to prepare and ideal for a family meal or a dinner party, and can be done in the oven or in a slow cooker.

Serves 5-8 depending on portion size. I served it with mash and broccoli and cauliflower cheese.

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Nut-free Carrot Cupcakes with cream cheese icing

IMG_2748Thought I’d give carrot cake a go for my Sunday afternoon baking. This really works as an alternative if you don’t like nuts. Could also sprinkle candied lemon or orange, raisins or chocolate instead of fudge like I did.

Takes less than an hour from start to finish and makes 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 100ml sunflower oil
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 150g dark muscovado sugar
  • 175g grated carrot
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten

For the icing

  • 50g butter, softened
  • 180g cream cheese
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 100g mini fudge chunks

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rainy Sunday baking: Scones and Lancashire Eccles cakes

There’s nothing better than baking on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Scones only take about 30 minutes from start to finish and I haven’t made them in a long time so thought I’d give them a go. I usually alter recipes I find quite a lot, but Mary Berry’s Devon scone recipe (DK Complete cookbook) is pretty faultless.  Perfect when served with clotted cream and raspberry jam.

I’ve never made Lancashire Eccles cakes before so thought I’d have a bit of an experiment today. I adapted a recipe by Delia Smith and experimented with seasoning, pastry thickness and overall size. I made the pastry in this recipe but for Eccles cakes in under 30 minutes use ready made puff pastry instead.

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