Christmas Madeleines (plus bonus kitty)

Coming to Poland for Christmas means only one thing – food food food. This is usually accompanied by my family, and a roaring fire, and boards games, but mostly it’s about the food.

A couple of days ago we had to remake our Christmas cake – not because anything was wrong with the first one I made, au contraire, that bad boy was eaten in about 3 days back at the end if November. So, new one being made 2 days before Christmas.

Yet again, I had a ton of cake mix left over, and really just wanted to share a cute alternative to baking multiple large Christmas cakes – I popped mixture into a cute little silicon Madeleine tray and made something resembling the love child of a Madeleine and a tortoise. They only take about 15 mins to bake, and they’re great for festive snacking on!

The cake mix I used was one I’ve been tweaking for a while, mostly because I don’t have scales so play it by ear – but golden syrup, honey, black treacle, mixed nuts and 1500g of fruit are amongst the star players.

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As a little festive bonus, I wanted to introduce you to this guy – this photo is 3 and a half years old, taken when baby boy cat was about a month old (if that). His mama was another stray(ish) cat who used to come stay with us when we visited Poland… Anyway, baby boy has come back to see us…
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He’s now turned into this…

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Pizza Pilgrims

On Friday night, I met up with my friend Adam for a long-overdue catch up – discussing the web industry and conferences, relationships, work and food – i.e. a great way to spend an evening! We headed over to Pizza Pilgrims, who’d just opened up their proper bricks-and-mortar restaurant on Dean Street in Soho – about 10 seconds walk from work, this is dangerous for my bank balance/waistline/originality!

I went for the wild broccoli and fennel sausage pizza – the most amazing soft doughy base, with a delicate flavour of it’s own, then wild broccoli (First time in my life I’ve enjoyed broccoli! I may have to marry one of these boys!), fennel sausage (so refreshing and light – for a sausage, that is!) and mozzarella, it’s a pizza served “bianca” – it has no tomato sauce. I’m a huge fan of biana pizzas, so this was a winner for me!

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They really are the sweetest guys there – James and Thom are so lovely, and they had a whole host of other guys working who were equally friendly, funny and knowledgeable. I’m so glad they’ve got a proper restaurant – the upstairs is street level, so perfect for people watching, the downstairs is bigger and has (gasp!) aircon.

I’m already excited to go back – somebody stop me when I start to actually turn into a pizza, please?

Five excellent things

I love those 5 favourite things style blog posts, so wanted to do one too. (Apologies in advance, these are quick ‘n’ dirty iPhone snaps, my new camera is somewhere in transit… I don’t know where!)

The past few days have been equal parts weird and excellent – weird for having the wrong people in my life, but brilliant because they’re gone now; and even more brilliantly the following things have been a’happenin’!

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Last Thursday, Tesco Love Every Mouthful were doing a promo in Soho Square near work – free (very generous) samples of Eton Mess, showing the best of British summertime. Fresh, ripe strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and mint, together with very rich cream and sweet meringue, very yum! They also had some kind of record breaking (maybe) GIANT Eton Mess, which was supposed to serve 200 or something like that.. It didn’t look that appetizing to be honest, just a massive bowl of cream. Definitely a situation where less is more!

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This was me on Friday before work – I’d spent the week with massive hair because of the humidity, and decided to take control of my locks and tame them with straighteners. It worked, and I was a happy bunny! I also ended up going for after-work drinks to celebrate SysAdmin day, with some of the SysAdmin guys, so I’m glad I had more presentable hair. Even if it was only for 1 day!

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The above photo is almost too blurry to post, but it had me giggling uncontrollably on Saturday. I went out west to Shepherds Bush market with one of my best friends, in search of a very specific fabric for my mama, and we traipsed from stall to stall, shop to shop, showing them photos – and instead of the lobster print fabric, one man said “NO LOBSTER! ONLY SHARK!” – and put forward this piranha-looking fabric. I declined politely.

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On Sunday, my gay best friend Patrick and I went out to explore Chiswick and Hammersmith (he lives there, it’s a schlep for me to get there, but so worth it!). We had a long leisurely Pimms-soaked lunch, and spent the afternoon-evening wandering along the river, looking at ducks, tiny little dogs and handsome men. Winner!

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And then Monday came along, back to work – with this little surprise joining us at lunch time. Meet Bix, my colleague’s dog. He’s about 3 and a half months old, and the sweetest, softest little bundle of cutes! He was so excited (we were too!) and entertained us all by chasing his lead/a sponge ball/kitchen roll, and toppling over, and cuddling us, and snoozing randomly. Definitely made for an excellent Monday at work!

Looking back, I’ve had 5 really good days, with happy things everyday. I love this!

Love Warsaw

Apologies for being so lax recently, I’ve had a lot going on. Suffice to say, I’m feeling quite free, positive and back to my usual self now – happy panda.

A few weeks ago it was my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary. They met and were married in Poland, so what better way to mark the occasion than a big family trip back to Poland. My parents, brother and his fiance, our family friends – how could I say no!

As part of my contribution to the celebrations, I decided to make origami hearts for them. Lots and lots and lots of origami hearts. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen the photos and the progress, but now I can finally share the full story.

I decided I wanted to make something to decorate the house – after trying various flowers and animals with origami paper, I settled on hearts. I opted to make 400 – based on how much paper/time/space I had for them (in the end they had to be transported by parents – who didn’t know what they were – on the flight, because the box was too big for my hand luggage). I told my brother and sister-in-law about them, and they decided to make 400 too. Then we started doing some maths, and decided to go for 840 in total.

1 heart each for every month they’ve been married. 420 months of marriage.

It was one of the loveliest weekends I’ve had this summer, I’m very close to my parents and I’m happiest when surrounded by friends and family, full in love, in the most beautiful place in the world.

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This was the process for making hearts – first a few.. then a few more.. then hundreds. Stringing them up was the tricky part.

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Feeling like I’ve missed my calling in life (party planner!) I also stocked up on heart shaped balloons, bunting with hearts on, and tissue paper – to make the cute tissue paper pompom flowers above. My brother, sister in law and I effectively spent all of Friday finishing making hearts, blowing up balloons, making flowers, and decorating the house. Holiday schmoliday! (I jest, it was actually brilliant to hang out with them!)

Of course, there was a lot of food for everyone – and given we’re still a bit British even when in Poland, we drank a lot of Pimms. A lot of Pimms. I don’t seem to tire of it!

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Happy and full, we spent a wonderful evening with friends, watching the sunset, playing badminton, telling stories and… unfortunately, getting bitten to the point of insanity by the crazy mosquitoes!

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It really was one of the best weekends I’ve had for a long time. So content. Missing it very much.

Haché Burgers

Last night I had the pleasure of attending The Critters – a web industry awards bash now in it’s 3rd year. I’ve been to all 3 events and it’s always good fun. This time round, it was held at Modern Jago – a Microsoft pop-up space for creatives in Shoreditch; the setting is the old Rochelle School, a cluster of buildings created in the 1880s – I loved the venue, the old school house feeling, the layout. Really great setting.

Whilst the event itself was brilliant, and I’m sure there’ll be many embarrassing pictures over the next few days (as well as the stonking hangover I have at the moment!), what I really wanted to share with you today was this baby!

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This oozy, cheesy, bacony, burger goodness is from the good people at Hache – described as burger connoisseurs, they don’t disappoint. I went for the Steak Canadian – a well crafted juicy burger, topped with the most amazing sweet cure bacon (I’m still daydreaming about this bacon, is that weird?) and them smothered with deliciously strong mature cheddar cheese, melted to perfection. All of this popped inside a brioche bun = heaven.

I do love a good burger – I’m a MEATliqour girl generally speaking, but I was so satisfied with my choice here. We shared sides so I had my pick of onion rings and sweet potato fries. The onion rings? Giant, fluffy, crispy bad boys; the sweet potato fries equally excellent, creamy and soft on the inside, but the perfect bite on the outside.

I am one happy camper, and definitely recommend Hache if you’re in London – there are 4 locations, Camden, Shoreditch, Chelsea and Clapham.