17.12

Cider-with-Rosie-Royal-Albert-Kings-College-Carols-10

H A R K   T H E   H E R A L D   A N G E L S   S I N G . . .

A few months ago, my Mum messaged my sister and I to let us know that, as a Christmas treat, she’d booked us all tickets to the King’s College Choir carol service at the Royal Albert Hall.

We’ve all loved the King’s College carols for as long as I can remember, and they’ve been part of our Christmas celebrations always.

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We arrived into a London early in the evening, and found it to be unseasonably mild yet seasonably sparkly.

Fairy lights lit up the trees along the roadsides, and wreaths hung on almost every front door we passed as we made our South Kensington station over to the Albert Hall. Dinner was eaten on the hoof, and comprised of a selection of M&S’s finest treats…

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I always feel as though the Royal Albert Hall is kind of hidden. It seems to be tucked away so well that it only appears at the last moment as you walk towards it, lit up though it is with warm orange lights.

Though of course, the lights outside were nothing to what was within…

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We took our seats in the hall, and, like almost everyone else there, spent a good ten minutes or so gazing in awe and snapping photo after photo of the beautiful trees either side of the organ.

It looks like scene from Hogwarts, don’t you think?

Though perhaps that’s just because I’m rereading HP and the Philosopher’s Stone at the moment, and have just got to the description of Great Hall and its twelve sparkling trees lit up with golden bubbles and real fairies…

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We found songsheets tucked between each of the seats and so warmed up our voices with a little discussion about our favourite Christmas carols, whilst the Philharmonic orchestra began to warmup on stage.

At 7.30 on the nose, the lights dimmed, and the King’s College choristers stood up ready to sing in the centre of the stage, with the Philharmonic choir to their left and right.

The opening notes of ‘Joy to the World’ began, and what followed was just…magic.

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Choral music often leaves me with a lump in my throat, but hearing it live like this was something else.

The voices of the choristers, some of whom looked so little they can’t have even reached a double-digit age yet, were so beautiful and angelic and haunting that my hair prickled and goosebumps came up on the backs of my arms.

The music seems to wrap around you, in that space, especially if you take a moment to close your eyes and feel it ringing around the hall.

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My favourite pieces from the night were ‘O Holy Night’, which was played with the full orchestra and has been my favourite piece of Christmas music for as long as I can remember, and ‘The Shepherds’ Carol’ which is my Mum’s favourite piece but was a new one to me.

The evening ended with three carols for us all to join in on- O Come All Ye Faithful, Good King Wenceslas, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. As we all sang, I noticed so many of the families sitting around us leaning closer to one another, heads on shoulders and hands holding hands.

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It made my throat tight, hearing 5000 people singing those familiar songs with their messages of love and peace, and feeling the festive spirit in the room.

It truly was something special.  

After the concert finished, Mum, Cesca and I nipped back across to Embankment, and then walked the final way back to Waterloo across the river, which, as I’ve said so many times before on this blog, is my favourite thing to do in London when I’ve got a little time on my hands.

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It was a pretty perfect evening, all in all.

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Posted in CHRISTMAS, FAMILY, LONDON

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15.12

Cider-with-Rosie-Broadway-market-6

A   V I S I T   T O   T H E   M A R K E T ,   &   F A I R Y   L I G H T S   A L L   A R O U N D . . .

I thought perhaps we’d begin this week with week with a walk-through of the weekend just gone, since it was an especially lovely and joyfully festive one. That sound okay? Okay, let’s get started…

~ ~

That right there, in the cover photo, is the greatest grilled cheese I’ve ever eaten. It came courtesy of Morty & Bob’s in Netil Market this weekend, where Tania, Freya and I met for lunch on Saturday afternoon.

So good in fact, that Molly looked on longingly whilst we ate…

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The girls had been raving to me about those grilled cheese sandwiches for months, and so there was never even a question of ordering from any of the other food trucks at the market. In fact, I have no idea what else there was on offer, because we made a beeline for those sandwiches the moment we arrived at the market!

We placed our order and waited patiently (kind of…) for our lunch to arrive, waking up with coffees from the little coffee truck just next to our seats.

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The sandwiches arrived having crisped to perfection, and inside, along with the molten cheese, were garlic and truffle mushrooms that took the proceedings up to a whole new level.

I ate mine dipped in a little sriracha, and it was a dream. You *must* go, if you’re ever over in the direction of London Fields!

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The rest of that afternoon was spent cosied up on Freya’s sofa, drinking hot chocolate and tea and eating doughnuts and talking talking talking until I felt like we’d held our very own sisterly therapy session.

All this, by the light of Freya’s sweet Christmas tree and to a soundtrack of Michael Buble’s festive album. Pretty perfect, if you ask me.

~ ~

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Sunday Jason and I spent rushing around like a pair of headless chickens- buying and decorating our own lovely tree, visiting family, sorting out the house for the arrival of the puppy in a couple of weeks time, and nipping over to visit her and her littermates too!

The pups are six weeks old now and were *full* of beans. In fact, I spent most of the visit with at least three puppies mountaineering up my jumper at any one time!

Which is my ultimate favourite way of spending a Sunday afternoon, let it be known…

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We did manage to spruce up the house ready for Christmas too, in between all that puppy snuggling.

Baby poinsettias are now dotted here and there, candles are lit in every corner, and I scavenged the loft for every set of fairy lights we own to use around the house.

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And *now* it feels like we’re finally ready for Christmas! Just no-one ask me how many gifts I’ve yet to get sorted, alright?

p.s. If you’d like to see more of how this December’s been panning out, you might like my YouTube channel! Subscribe to stay up to date with my videos, if you’d like :)

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Posted in CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS TREE, HOME, LIFE LATELY

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13.12

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A M P E D – U P   H O T   C H O C O L A T E .

Christmas is the time for many things- celebrations with family, mountains of food, bucks fizz in the mornigs- but it wouldn’t be complete without a little chocolate.

I always seem to crave chocolate more than normal during December, and reckon advent calendars are to blame. Because what’s the most surefire way of developing an insatiable chocolate craving? Why, eating a mini-mouthful of chocolate first thing in the morning, of course!

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I decided this week to have a go at making the kind of super thick and rich hot chocolate you get from the likes of Said and Angelina, and it turned out to be much simpler than I’d expected.

To make, simply pour 250ml of whole milk into a pan, along with 100g of grated dark chocolate. Heat slowly, stirring the whole time, until the chocolate has melted into the milk and become smooth and thick.

If you’d like to, add in a pinch of cinnamon, sugar to taste, and a spoonful of softly whipped cream on top. The amounts listed above make one large cupful of hot chocolate, but I reckon it’s best served in smaller portions, divided between two people.

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To serve alongside the cookies, how about some homemade sugar cookies? I used Hummingbird’s recipe (seeing as it’s an American cookbook, and what better place to get a cookie recipe from?), and it worked a treat.

   

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In other news though, royal icing is FAR harder than you’d imagine, isn’t it?! My first attempts were most definitely *not* worthy of having their photo taken! ;)

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08.12

Cider-with-Rosie-Panettone-French-toast-10

T H E   U L T I M A T E   F E S T I V E   B R E A K F A S T

Would it be presumptuous of me to say that this recipe could just be the answer to all your Christmas morning dreams? It would be, wouldn’t it…

Instead, let me say this- forget scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, or crumpets and toast, or even a Full English- this panettone french toast is what Jason and I will be eating at approximately 8.30am on the 25th of December this year.

And that’s a fact!

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Panettone French toast really is the most festive breakfast imaginable- Christmas on a plate, you might say!

Thickly cut slices of sweet, fruit-flecked panettone are soaked in a cinnamon and vanilla infused egg mixture, then gently fried in butter until golden and fluffy.

The slightly dry cake becomes soft and pudding-like when cooked up French-toast style, and the addition of a little cinnamon to the proceedings adds a little ‘spice’ to balance out all that sweet.

And, what’s *most* important to know, is that the recipe is simplicity itself! Have I convinced you yet?

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Jason and I always pick up a panettone whilst buying our Christmas tree each year, to be eaten over the course of that happily festive day.

But now that this recipe’s become such a household favourite?

I think we might need to start buying more than just one…

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The ingredients as below produce 4 halved slices of French toast- enough to serve two people. The recipe is easy to multiply though- for every portion of French toast (i.e. 1 round slice, or 2 halved slices of panettone), you’ll need 1 egg, 40ml of milk, and 1.8th tsp each ground cinnamon and vanilla extract.

Ingredients ::
2 thick round slices of shop-bought Italian panettone
2 eggs
80ml, or 1/3 cup semi-skimmed milk
1/4tsp ground cinnamon
1/4tsp vanilla extract
Jam/fruit compote/syrup/icing sugar to serve.

- Take a good quality shop-bought Italian panettone, and cut two 1inch round slices- one slice per person.

- In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Don’t worry if the cinnamon is a little lumpy- it won’t matter a bit!

- Soak the panettone in the egg mixture one slice at a time, until between the two slices, pretty much all of the egg mixture has been absorbed.

- Heat a small knob of a butter in a large non-stick frying pan, then gently fry each slice of panettone in turn for a minute or two per side, until puffy and slightly browned.

{If you’re cooking for more than a couple of people, you might like to put the cooked French toast in a low oven to keep warm whilst you finish frying.}

- Cut each slice of French toast in half, and then serve with a dusting of icing sugar, a drizzle of your favourite syrup (I used golden syrup here, but maple, agave, or even honey would be just as lovely), and a spoonful of something fruity.

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Buon appetito, bon appetit, and…happy eating!

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Posted in BAKING, BREAKFAST, CHRISTMAS, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, RECIPE, SWEET

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