In the Kitchen: Shakshuka

 Shakshuka - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

It’s no secret that I’m a big brunch fan. Whether it’s a plate of homemade eggs or a stack of pancakes from one of London’s finest establishments I’m always here for a brunch extravaganza. And while trying a new brunch place is awesome, sometimes making brunch at home is just as good. Not least because you can enjoy it while still in your pjs! We’ve shared some of our favourite homemade brunch recipes on the blog in the past. Like these yummy cinnamon buns, my favourite two ingredient pancakes and this breakfast scramble. But today’s post is a new savoury brunch option. One that’s fairly new to me – shakshuka.

I first encountered shakshuka a year or so ago on copious blog posts and Instagram shots and while it looked yummy I had no idea what it was. Well apart from a mash-up of tomatoes and egg, which looked to go perfectly with avocado! But I knew one day I’d try it and I was sure we’d be firm friends from that point. Fast forward to March this year and I finally tried shakshuka at The Rail House Cafe, and I can confirm that it was indeed love at first taste. There’s something about the spicy tomato and pepper combo that goes perfectly with eggs, as you scoop it up with crusty bread. So delicious. Just look!

Shakshuka - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

So delicious, in fact, that we had to make it ourselves and I can honestly say this is going to become a staple for brunch in our house. While it does take a bit of time, the steps really are super simple without any faff. And the time it takes is so totally worth it. Even better the ingredients are basically store cupboard ones so it’s likely you can make it whenever you fancy it, without any annoying supermarket trips!

Shakshuka: Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil / 1 onion / 2 peppers (a mix of colours) / 2 garlic cloves / 0.5 tsp cumin seeds / 0.5 tsp caraway seeds / 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper / 1 tbsp tomato puree / 1 tin chopped tomatoes / 4 eggs / 40g feta cheese

Shakshuka - In the Kitchen - This and That Blog

Shakshuka: Method

  • *Thinly slice the onions and peppers and finely chop the garlic
  • *Heat the oil in a lidded pan before adding the onions and peppers, cook until softened
  • *Add the garlic and cook for two minutes before sprinkling in the cumin, caraway seeds and cayenne pepper
  • *Stir in the tomato puree and cook until the paste starts to separate, then add the tomatoes and a tbsp water
  • *Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, until reduced a little. Stir in the herbs
  • *Make wells in the sauce for the eggs and drop in each one carefully. Cook until the whites of the egg are just set and the yolks are runny
  • *Sprinkle with feta and serve with fresh bread and avocado

So there we go, super simple right? And super tasty. Basically, you just have to make it. I can guarantee you’ll be as obsessed as I am!

-Fi x

Wishlists: Autumn Wardrobe Update

It’s no surprise that autumn is my favourite time of the year. You all know that I love a cosy jumper on an autumn day. See my Autumn jumper wishlist for more details on that obsession.
Now it’s not only jumpers that I am obsessed with, I’ve also been scouring the shops for other Autumnal pieces. I don’t want too much new stuff as my current wardrobe can easily become my autumn wardrobe. All I need to do is add black tights, a cardigan (or jumper), and some chunky boots. But it is nice to see what’s new in the shops and to possibly treat myself to some new things.
So that’s what I’m sharing today; my picks for an autumn wardrobe update.

autumn wardrobe update

As you can see from the above, a dress is a staple for me at this time of year. It’s an easy way to look put together, while still making minimal effort. I can’t tell you the number of days I’ve just thrown on tights, a dress and a chunky necklace, and then received endless compliments. I’ve had my eye on that navy Oliver Bonas dress for quite some time now. It comes in a couple of other colours too, but navy is my go to colour at all times. I’ve told myself that I have to wait for the sale, so far I’m sticking to that, but it’s tough!

Confession time, I’ve already bought those brogues. I wore the black version of these constantly last year, so when I saw that M&S had them in this wine colour I became obsessed. Anyway I had a voucher so I ended up paying just 50p of my own money for them.

The same time that I bought the brogues I spotted that blazer. I was wearing a navy dress at the time (yes, I have a navy dress problem) and the blazer colour worked really well with it. I like that it’s quite casual, with a relaxed fit, but still looks smart. Plus it’s a good option if I don’t want to wear a cardigan but need another layer.

What is on your Autumn wishlist? Do you do a regular wardrobe update or do you stick to the same pieces each year?

Laura xx

Out and About: Morden Hall Park

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

We have lived in our home for two years now and yet the area still remains somewhat of a mystery to me. Don’t get me wrong I’ve explored loads of the area, but there’s just still loads more to investigate. Or to experience in a new way, in a new season. For example Streatham Common’s rookery is an entirely different place in the summer than it is in the depths of winter. No less lovely, just different. And that, I’d imagine, is going to be the case for Morden Hall Park too.

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

We first ventured into the National Trust property of Morden Hall Park over the summer and I’ve only just realised I’ve not shared any of the lovely pictures of the park on here yet. How remiss of me! So before we hit Autumn proper, I wanted to share Morden Hall Park in the summer. That way when I visit (and subsequently) share my autumn visit you’ll see just how different it is in autumn. Just imagine these pictures when everything’s covered in the rich red, brown and orange hues of autumn leaves! *heart eyed emoji*

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

Morden Hall Park is one of the only remaining estate on the banks of the River Wandle. The house is lovely and you can learn about the snuff mills in one of the two still standing there. But the real joy of Morden Hall Park is in exploring the beautiful grounds. There used to be a deer park around the estate and now those grounds are free for you to explore. They’re beautiful; from the winding river, to the beautiful rose garden and through the spaces hidden behind the trees.

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

Morden Hall Park - Out and About - This and That Blog

If you’re ever south of the river and fancy a lovely day out, Morden Hall Park must be on your list. As you can see it’s beautiful. Even on a lovely grey summer day!

-Fi x

Life Rambles: An Autumn Bucket List

bucket-list

I think we all feel a kinship for a certain season, there’s just something innate in us that means we’re more suited to one of the seasons more than any other. For me, it’s most definitely autumn. There are so many reasons why it’s the best season ever, but I’m sure that key to this is that it feels like an abrupt change from Summer, my absolute least favourite season. Autumn is epic because it means the return of cooler, darker evenings, but there are still bright and sunny days for us to enjoy, even with a chill in the air. It also means the excuse to wrap up and snuggle down. Simply put it’s bliss.

This year I want to make the most of my favourite season and make sure I experience it properly. With that in mind I’ve made an autumn bucket list featuring all the things I want to do over the next three months. I’m all for a list of things to tick off as I complete them. Isn’t there a complete joy in that?!

Fi’s Autumn Bucket List

*Buy more snuggly jumpers that allow the sleeves to be pulled over my hands
*Spend Sunday afternoon in front of a gorgeous log fire
*Go blackberry picking before making a homemade crumble
*Go pumpkin picking
*Have a pyjamas day and do nothing but knit and eat biscuits
*Embrace mittens attached by string
*Wander along the river marvelling at the city at night with my hands wrapped around a warming drink
*Take a day to watch all of the Harry Potter films
*Bake a proper Pumpkin Spice Loaf
*Go stomping around in the woods with the puppy and kicking the leaves all over the place
*Make a proper steak and ale pie with homemade pastry and an epic warming casserole
*Light candles and read while snuggled under a blanket
*Visit Richmond Park for an early morning walk

What’s on your Autumn bucket list?

Fi xx

In the Kitchen: Chocolate and Vanilla Sandwich Biscuits

bake-off-biscuits

 

I love this time of year, the leaves are falling, there’s a chill in the air and The Great British Bake Off is back on television. I love the GBBO. There’s something so magical about this type of TV, on paper it shouldn’t work, and yet in the great British way of things it totally does. I watched last week’s biscuits week in awe of all the marvelous bakes that were occurring. I was also a little sad, because I hadn’t planned my life well enough to have baked goods with me for viewing.

Well not this week. This week I decided that I would have to make some biscuits ready for the viewing of Bake Off. So that’s what I did, I made sandwich biscuits on Sunday night, and managed to save some for snacking on during Tuesday night’s bread week. I saw the recipes for these biscuits online awhile ago, so they seemed like the perfect choice to bake for biscuit week of bake off blog along.

Ingredients

For the biscuits: 250g soft butter / 50g icing sugar, sifted / 250g plain flour / 50g cornflour / 25g cocoa

For the filling: 50g mascarpone / tsp pure vanilla extract / 110g icing sugar

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 17oC

For the biscuits: beat the icing sugar and butter together / sift in the flour and cornflour, then beat again / divide the mixture and add the cocoa powder to one of the halves / divide each of the two mixtures into 12 balls and place onto a lined baking tray / press each ball with the back of a fork / bake for 12-15 minutes.

For the vanilla filling: mix the three ingredients together.

Once the biscuits have cooled, sandwich them together with the vanilla flavoured filling. 

This recipe made a total of six vanilla and six chocolate sandwich biscuits.

biscuits-homemade

I feel like Paul Hollywood would be very happy with this bake. The biscuits are quite simple, with a lovely buttery texture, and then the icing comes in with a super sweet kick and the two work well together. I probably could have made each biscuit slightly smaller and then made more than just 12 so that’s one to remember next time I crack out this recipe.

If you want to see what other lovely bloggers are baking then check out the hashtag on twitter or instagram and head on over to Amanda’s blog for the rest of the link up.

*this recipe is from Sainsbury’s magazine, you can find it here.

Laura xx

Wishlists: Autumn Jumper Love

Now that we are in September we can totally talk about Autumn, right? For me Autumn is all about long walks in the woods, curling up under a blanket with a good book, and of course jumpers! My weekend wardrobe during Autumn and Winter basically consists of jeans and a jumper. I save the tights and dresses for the slightly smarter weekday situation and aim for pure comfort on Saturday and Sunday. This obviously means that I have quite a good jumper collection, but I am always looking for more. In my opinion too many jumpers is just not possible. Although my bank account would disagree, so in the hopes that I don’t keep buying all the jumpers I’ve decided to share my Autumn jumper wishlist with you. 

Autumn Jumper Wishlist
Is it crazy how many slogan jumpers there are out there right now? I’ve seen so many in the shops and on Instagram. The three in my Autumn jumper wishlist above are all from New Look and I’d happily wear all three of them. Spoiler alert: I’ve already purchased the yellow ‘sisterhood’ one, as I love it so much. And I don’t have a yellow jumper (or at least I didn’t until now)! Saying that if the mustard one from Joules falls into my wardrobe I am totally on board with that. They are two different very different shades of yellowafter all.

Looking at the above picture it looks like I have a bit of an obsession with grey jumpers. As exactly half of the jumpers on my Autumn jumper wishlist are grey! But grey is a classic colour right, and who cares if I have at least two, okay three grey jumpers already? If I had to pick just one I think I’d go for the chunkier one at the bottom right, as I love that lace up detail. What do you think? What would be your Autumn jumper of choice? 

Laura xx

In the Kitchen: Homemade Bread

The smell of fresh bread is one of my favourite smells in the whole world, I’m sure I’m not the only person to say that. I can’t walk past a bakery without looking longingly at the bread display and trying to convince myself that I need that loaf or baguette. It really is one of life’s simple pleasures. I don’t think I could live without it. Just for context, I’m typing this while eating slices of toasted tiger loaf which have been smothered in butter and strawberry jam! Apart from eating it, the second best thing about bread, is making it. Homemade bread is everything. There’s just something about working those few ingredients into a tasty treat that makes me happy. The kneading and working of the dough is a little like therapy, without the expense!

And then finally the smell of bread cooking in the oven and the way it permeates the rest of the house, it’s wonderful. It almost makes me giddy with happiness.

I make bread quite a lot but the only homemade bread recipe in existence on this blog is a Serrano Ham and Mozzarella Quick Bread from a past bake off blog along ages ago. What is puzzling to me is how much I love to make bread, and yet how little I’ve discussed it on here. Well that’s about to change as today I’m sharing my basic white loaf recipe.

Recipe for Homemade Bread

Ingredients:

450g strong plain flour
1 1/2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vegetable oil
300ml tepid water

Sift the flour and yeast together in a large bowl. Mix in salt and add the oil and water. Mix together to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes or use a dough hook on a stand mixer. You want the dough to be smooth and elastic.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover. Leave in a warm place for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size. Alternatively: leave the dough in the fridge overnight.

Next lightly knead the dough before shaping into a loaf shape and placing on a floured baking tray. Leave to rise for a further 30 minutes.

Dust with flour and cut the top of the bread in a cross shape. Cook in a reheated oven (200C, 425F or Gas 7) for 40 minutes. Tap the bottom of the loaf to check it’s cooked – a cooked loaf will sound hollow.

Enjoy your freshly made homemade bread with lashings of butter and jam.

So there you have it. The simplest bread recipe there ever was. Go forth and enjoy some fresh baked goodness.

Laura xx

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #87

Hooray for Friday! How have the last seven days been for everyone? My week has been good, although it has felt like the longest week ever. I don’t know why that is. Maybe because people are all starting to return from their summer holidays or maybe it’s because I’ve got an upcoming holiday. Either way I’m not really complaining. This week has been a good one, there have been plenty of things that have kept me smiling and that are worth mentioning in this Friday favourites list.

The first thing to mention here is the past weekend. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but a trip to Leeds will always make it’s way onto the Friday favourites list. Fi and I headed up north to celebrate a tenth wedding anniversary. Aside from how old it made me feel, it was a lovely trip. It really was a flying visit, with less than 24 hours in the city. But that was enough time to explore, eat good food, drink delicious drinks and natter away for an evening. We also lucked out on the way home with our seats being moved into first class. While we didn’t get all the perks of first class, like the free gin, we did get the extra comfortable seats and extra leg room and I can certainly get used to that.

So Tuesday was a run day and I wasn’t feeling up for an early start, but I also hate running after work. I find it so hard to get home and then go out for a run, so instead I ran home from work. So number two on the Friday favourites list is a lovely six mile run through South London. It really, really cleared my head. Don’t you just love how running can do that? The pounding of feet and the beat of the music removes all the noise and helps bring clarity. Also I found a few conkers on my run across Clapham Common, which was excellent news. That should keep all the spiders out of the house now that the weather has changed.

Next on the list is a trip to Picturehouse Central with some friends from Wales. They’d had a day playing tourist in London so Fi and I met them for drinks at Picturehouse Central after work. Luckily for us the rain cleared up and we were able to bask in the sun on the roof terrace and catch up on all the things. There’s something wonderful about meeting up with friends that you’ve not seen in a long time and everything being as relaxed as it always was.

My Mum stopped by for dinner this week, with the dog, and made her excellent lasagna. Everyone must have their own favourite meals, right? Well this is one of mine. It’s probably in my top five meals of all time, so of course it makes it into the Friday favourites list this week. I don’t know how she does it, but the combination of pasta and tomato and beef is divine. Plus the crunchy top layer is the perfect, and worth fighting for!

We’ve only got half of Friday left and then it’s the weekend. Like I said, this has been a long week so a weekend is definitely needed. Aside from a long run (again) – hooray for half marathon training! – my only plans are puppy sitting. My parents are away so it’s the perfect excuse for time with the doggo. I’m doing Friday night and Saturday day and I can’t wait. Obviously they’ll be a long walk, or two because Little Miss Lunabean will demand it. I’m also hoping to possibly enjoy the Autumnal weather with piles of blankets, good coffee and some board game time. Hooray for weekend plans.

How has your week been? And what are your weekend plans? Do share, I hope you have a great one.

Laura xx

The Home Front: August House Update

So it has been five months since our last house update, whoops! I was going so well with posting three in a row and then it all went to pot! In my defense I think April was quite a quiet month in regards to house stuff. So maybe that’s why these posts disappeared from my brain. Although lord knows how I can try and excuse missing four posts! Anyway, things have been fairly busy over the last few months and we have a fair bit to catch you up on, so let’s dive straight into out August house update.

August House Update - The Home Front - This and That Blog

August House Update: What’s been ticked off the list?

First off the garden is flourishing! Granted there were a few missteps thanks to a frosty spell in June followed swiftly by a scorcher of a few days. But thankfully most of the plants are still doing well in our flowerbeds. So far it’s a mix of mint, lavender, sage, daisies, hydrangeas and pansies. Plus a couple of tall bush/tree things that I have no idea the names of. Oh and the latest news is that we’re now growing strawberries, courgettes and tomatoes too. Go us. Frankly I’m just amazed things haven’t completely died over the last few months.
We’ve also finally sorted out the fireplace. Hooray! Anyone that’s read the other few house update posts will know that we were really not keen on that fibreglass fireplace. It was such an important thing for us to fix. Now that it’s gone and the wall has been replastered and repainted we’re just so happy. It really has made such a difference.

August House Update - The Home Front - This and That Blog

August House Update: What jobs have we progressed with?

Top of this list is the living room as while the bulk of the fireplace is done and dusted we’re left with a few finishing touches. Firstly we need to choose tiles for the hearth. So far we’ve narrowed it down to the options here and here. What do you think, which one do you prefer? We want something simple and maybe with a touch of red to tie in with the sofa. Stickers seem sensible for a number of reasons. Firstly they’re cheaper than proper tiles and they’re a lot simpler to fit than ones with grout. The final reason is it means we can change our minds if we want too. As you may have spotted we’re seriously indecisive! As well as tiles we also need to fit a mantelpiece of some description but we’re struggling to choose one – we just can’t decide what will work. For now we’re going to hand a picture frame there in the hopes that a mantlepiece won’t be needed!

August House Update: What’s next?

The what’s next question is simple to answer – it’s the kitchen. We’ve finally decided not to redo the whole thing, which you may remember was our original plan. Instead we’re going to give the cabinets a facelift, get a new oven and new work surfaces. Once we’ve saved a bit of money anyway. So for now it’s all about the investigating, getting quotes and pinning bits onto our kitchen ideas Pinterest board. Basically we’re saving ourselves £4k as a result. Go us and our adulting decisions!
So there we go, not a huge amount to show you, but we’re definitely getting there. The kitchen and garden shed are the only major projects left on our house list now. Yippee!
-Fi x

The Book Corner: August Reading Update

Hi team! I hope you’re all well on this fine Monday! Today’s edition of the book corner is my August reading update. Also known as the update where I hit my Goodreads 2017 challenge of reading 52 books. Hooray for that. I’m not quite sure how I’ve managed to read so many books already but I’m pretty pleased with that. So onwards to see what delights I’ve read this month.

August Reading Update - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

August Reading Update #1: Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor isn’t out for another couple of months, but I was lucky enough to get a proof ahead of time. It’s being billed as the big kids book of this Christmas and the next big magical series for kids. And it’s all of that and more. It’s the most brilliant book – full of fascinating characters, intriguing secrets and a magical story. Townsend has created the most phenomenal world for us all to explore and enjoy.

The story follows a young girl, Morrigan, who is seemingly unloved by her family and who is destined to die on her 11th birthday. Until that is she’s claimed by a crazy magician to become his hope at winning a place in the Wondrous Society – the city’s most prestigious (and secretive) organisation. Morrigan must compete in a series of Hunger Games-esque tasks with 500 other kids for the chance to enter the society. This is a page-turning adventure that had me hooked from start to finish. Most definitely a good book and most definitely not just for kids.

August Reading Update #2: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

I’ve always been a huge Sophie Kinsella fan, ever since I read the Shopaholic series. I was pretty obsessed with those books as a teenage if I’m honest! but it’s been a while since I read anything by Sophie, but thankfully My Not So Perfect Life is as brilliant as all her other books are. It looks at the reality behind the Instagram world and how selective we are on what we post and how bad that can be for us all in the long run. This was a classic tale of a girl our of her depth being pushed to the brink and losing everything before realising what’s important and following her dreams, oh and falling in love – of course! It was just the perfect summer read.

August Reading Update #3: Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence

I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages, ever since it started getting hype last year, but alas time just disappeared. Until now that is. And I’m glad I finally read Orangeboy as it’s a brilliant book and I’d say essential reading for all. In the sense that you can see how people, particularly teens, can end up in situations that spiral out of control too fast for them to handle. And how doing the right thing isn’t always as clear-cut or as simple as you might thing. Patrice’s story is beautifully written and the teenage voices felt so real and correct. I can’t wait to read her most recent book, Indigo Donut, if it’s anything like Orangeboy it’ll be astonishingly good.

August Reading Update - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

August Reading Update #4: He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

This book is marketed as a gripping, twisty read and it’s most certainly that. It’s the tale of a young couple who are witnesses to a rape and the fall out of this one horrific act for all involved. About 50 pages in it becomes clear that it’s not just he said/she said in terms of the rape case. There’s definitely more going on in this story, as things aren’t quite what they seem and you quickly start to question the four main characters. In that sense it’s in the same vein as Gone Girl, with constant changes over who can be trusted. Sadly I felt this book went too far with that premise. I didn’t think it was necessarily plausible that certain characters acted how they did. Particularly in the reveals at the end. The last 60 or so pages were definitely a let down for me.

August Reading Update #5: S. T. A. G. S by M. A. Bennett

S.T.A.G.S is such a fun read, it’s packed with filmic references and set in a wondrously unattainable world. A world of shooting parties and country estates, servants and ballgowns at dinner. But underneath all of that S.T.A.G.S is about what we’ll do, or more correctly, put up with in order to make friends and be accepted.

If you’re a fan of Gosford Park and Cruel Intentions then you’ll love this YA read. It’s a page-turner of a book about a young girl, Greer who doesn’t quite fit in at S.T.A.G.S, the upper class boarding school she’s just started at. As a scholarship student she couldn’t be more different from the rest of S.T.A.G.S’ students who are all glossy and rich. With no friends at the school she jumps at the chance to attend an exclusive weekend of hunting, fishing and shooting at the country estate of Henry, the leader of the cool pack. But as the weekend arrives and her fellow oddball guests, also social misfits, start to get injured Greer begins to wonder if things are really as they seem… Who can she trust and will she make it back from the weekend in one piece?

So there we go, my five reads from August. Have you read any of these books yet, and if so, what did you think of them. Let me know!