16.07

Cider-with-Rosie-Latte-layer-tutorial

Confession: In the past year or so, I’ve become a pretty hardcore coffee addict. Up until about the middle of last year, tea had always and forever been my preferred hot drink of choice- there are even photos of me drinking milky tea from a little bottle as a toddler! But slowly, gradually, my taste for coffee has grown, and now I’d rather have a lovely latte or punchy flat white over a cup of my beloved English Breakfast!

Recently a few lovely Cider with Rosie readers have asked if I might put together a tutorial for how I make the iced coffees that so frequently appear on my Instagram feed, and also how to create that pretty layered effect that fancy cafes make in £3.50 a pop lattes! Though I’m by no means a professional or expert when it comes to making coffee, I have made more than my fair share of lattes and flat whites over the past few months, and have really begun to settle into a little routine of how I like to make my coffees at home. So, let’s get brewing!

Now, let’s talk coffee-making-equipment. There are a billion different ways to brew coffee at home- from expensive bean to cup machines, to the humble and traditional filter method. I use a Bialetti stovetop coffee pot to brew my coffee, which costs around £20 and makes enough espresso for about three or four generous lattes. I used to use a cheaper, non-branded version of the Bialetti (before I accidentally forgot to put water in it before filling it with coffee and putting it on the hob, and set fire to the coffee grounds…) and would definitely recommend going for the Bialetti over any other. It really is brilliant!

Coffee-beans

Though I’m currently hankering after a bean-grinder (as well as a fancy milk frother, and a lifetime supply of Monmouth beans), right now my favourite coffee to use at home is either Lavazza’s ground espresso, or Starbucks medium blend ground coffee. The Lavazza is a much finer grind than the Starbucks blend and so is noticeably richer, but quite a bit smokier too. It really comes down to personal taste which you’d prefer to drink. Jason absolutely loathes the Lavazza, for example, but I adore it! Most blends available in the supermarket cost around £3/4 for a 250g bag, so it won’t have cost much more than a Starbucks/Costa latte if you buy a blend and decide it’s not for you. Now, for the ‘how-to’!

What you’ll need:
Enough ground coffee or espresso to fill up your coffee machine/stovetop pot/cafetiere
Semi-skimmed milk
A flavoured syrup, or brown sugar
A milk frother (I just recently bought this Bodum milk frother, and am really impressed with it!)
Ice (if you’re making your latte iced, of course!)

Making-coffee-Bialetti

- To make a regular latte (not an iced one) just fill up your coffee pot, and brew some coffee. At the same time, measure out enough milk to fill your mug/glass/cup to about 2/3 full, then heat the milk until it’s hot, but not boiling. I do mine on the hob in a milk pan, because we don’t have a microwave and also because I prefer to be able to watch it closely whilst it heats up.

- When the milk is nice and hot, transfer it to a tall jug and use a frother to whisk it until it’s softly foaming and really velvety. Careful not to over-froth it, or we’ll end up with the sort of stiff foam you tend to find on top of a cappuccino instead of a latte! Pour the milk into your mug or glass, and add a small layer of soft milk foam on top.

How-to-layer-a-latte

- Now, for the fiddly part! Take a spoon, rest it on the edge of your glass as shown in the photo above, and lay the tip of it so it just about touches the top of the milk. Slowly, *very* slowly, begin pouring coffee over the back of the spoon into the glass. Try and keep the stream of coffee pretty thin here, and pour with the pot held really close to the glass or else it’ll create too much movement in the glass and split the layers. I find it easiest to put my glass right on the edge of the kitchen work-surface so that I can get the top of the coffee pot level with the glass before I begin to pour, as it’s the easiest way to control the stream of coffee.

- Keep pouring really slowly and carefully until you’ve got about 1/3 coffee to 2/3 milk in your glass, then step back and admire your handiwork! Add sugar to taste (or a flavoured syrup if you’d prefer), stir, and enjoy!

How-to-make-layered-latteLayered-brown-sugar-latte

- To make an iced latte, you can either use freshly brewed warm, or cooled espresso. I tend to brew a pot of coffee in the morning, drink a shot or two of it warm either in a latte/flat white or just with a little sugar, and then let the rest go cold to be used in iced lattes.

- Put two or three ice cubes into a glass, then add in a splash of syrup for sweetness. In the amount of coffee shown in the photos, I used one capful of Starbucks own vanilla syrup.

Measuring-milk-for-iced-latte

- Pour in enough milk to again fill your glass about 2/3 full, and then carefully begin pouring in espresso directly onto one of the ice cubes. Pouring the coffee onto an ice cube will slow down the stream of coffee as it hits the milk, and allow it to float right on top! If you’re using warm espresso here, it might be easier to just pour over the back of a spoon again because the ice will melt too fast otherwise.

- Keep pouring carefully, then when you’ve got about 1/3 coffee to 2/3 milk, stop pouring and again step back to appreciate your handiwork! Add a straw, mix, and enjoy!

Iced-latte-recipeIced-latte-marbling

And that, as they say, is it! I think it’s such a lovely way to serve coffee at the weekend, or if you’ve got friends round for coffee and a slice of cake. The layering might seem a palaver but is *so* satisfying to do, and even if the layers do break it’ll still create a pretty ombre effect in your coffee!

Do let me know if you give it a go, and don’t forget tag me in on Instagram using the hashtag ‘#ciderwithrosiecooks’, so that we can all be cliches and ‘gram our coffees together! ;) Happy layering!

Layered-coffees

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Posted in COFFEE, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, RECIPE, TUTORIAL

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15.07

Sprout-and-Johnnie-Boden

Would you take a look at that cute face above? That’s Sprout, and she’s pretty much the unofficial Boden mascot! Well, maybe the official mascot, since her image is appearing on the front of a few items of Boden’s beautiful Christmas collection this year! But, we’ll get on to talking about the Christmas collection a little later! First up- that walk!

Friday started in much the same way as Thursday did- with fresh coffee, and spectacular breakfasts at The Bull. Even though the day at River Cottage had been such a foodie one, I woke up ravenous and enjoyed another plate of The Bull’s amazing smoked salmon plus a bowl of granola, yoghurt, and fruit for breakfast. The rest of the day’s activities were something of a mystery to us, and our plans had been debated and guessed over at much length during the previous day or so. We’d been told to bring our wellies and that we’d be going for a walk with Johnnie (Mr Boden himself!), but didn’t even know where we’d be once we finished walking! Or actually, where the walk was going to begin, for that matter…

The cars and lovely cab drivers arrived bright and early to pick us up, and took us deep into the countryside before telling us to get out, and take a hike. Hah. I’m kidding. But seriously though, with landscapes like these all around us, how could we not want to head out on two feet and explore!…

Boden-on-the-road! Cider-with-Rosie-Boden Boden-butterfly-walkBoden-Dorset-walk-views

Johnnie led us on a four mile walk all through the meadows and up and down hillsides, stopping to point out some of the most beautiful vistas and wildflowers, and also to tell us stories about Sprout’s penchant for squirrel-chasing. I’d not been on a walk for almost a week by the time Friday rolled around, and it felt amazing to get out and stretch my legs again after days of indulgent eating and drinking! The weather was warm and dry (we lucked out the whole trip!) and the morning was a pretty glorious one.

It turned out, the walk we were taking led us right to the beautiful Mapperton House, for an afternoon of exploring, flower-arranging, and lunching in the grounds! Mapperton is owned by Caroline and John Sandwich (descendants of the most famous Lord and Lady Sandwich!), and was voted the Nation’s most beautiful manor house a few years back! It really is stunning! After a quick coffee and a shoe change (turns out wearing wellies in 20+ degree weather is not the most pleasant of experiences) we headed over the old stables to learn a little about flower arranging with the British Flower School.

Boden-Sprout! Cider-with-Rosie-British-Flower-School

Charlie talked us through all of the flowers she had available for us to work with that day (my favourites were the roses, which smelt better than any I’ve come across since I was a child) and showed us the basics of how to arrange a simple, rustic bouquet.

Now, I’m going to level with you. I’ve always had this (entirely ridiculous) impression that flower arranging looked not too tricky. I’d thought privately to myself for years ‘Pah! How hard can it be, it’s just cutting all the flowers to the same height and bunching nicely coloured ones together! You can’t really go wrong, can you?’

Wrong. You can.

It (not surprisingly at all!) is a lot more fiddly than it looks, and requires a whole lot of skill! ‘Well of course, Rosie!’ I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘of course!’. I’ll tell you now that if this whole blogging thing fails me, I will NOT be pursuing a career in flower arranging. Despite not having any God-given flower arranging skill whatsoever, I had an absolute whale of a time putting together my bouquet outside in the sunshine, and learning more about the flowers Charlie and her team grow at Mapperton. We spent the rest of the day eating ploughman’s lunches and ice creams for dessert, exploring Mapperton’s grounds, and talking non-stop about everything from the merits of countryside vs. city living, to perfectionism, dog-owning, hen parties, and bread-making!

British-Flower-School Wild-flowers-British-Flower-School-Mapperto

Now, I’m hopping around in the timeline here, but I need to tell you all about Thursday evening! I had to keep this for a second post, you see, or else yesterday’s would’ve been about half a mile long ;)

After having spent the day at River Cottage we came back to the hotel, and, after a quick freshen up (read: removing random dried bits of dough from my hair) went up to the hotel bar for a preview of Boden’s Christmas collection! The collection is (predictably) completely stunning- all bejewelled accessories, bright Fair Isle knit jumpers, soft mohair scarves, jacquard print trousers, and vintage-inspired boxy faux-fur coats. There was so many incredible items, it made me almost start wishing away the summer! Especially amazing were a pair of metallic loafers that’ll be part of the Johnnie B Christmas collection. I fell SO hard for them, and will be picking up a pair just as soon as the collection becomes available online! No photo I’m afraid- I was too busy mentally pairing them with everything in my wardrobe to remember to take a photo…

Champagne-glasses Boden-Christmas-knitwear

^^ How perfect are those Fair Isle jumpers? Roll on winter! ;) Also, spot the Sprout-themed knitwear above… ^^

Boden-Christmas-collection Mini-Boden-Christmas-pyjamas

^^ Mini Boden tartan pjs! ^^

We ate dinner in The Bull’s private dining room after the collection preview, and the evening was a lovely one. I ate duck breast with a cognac and cardamom sauce on bok choi, and then the tastiest dessert I’ve had in a long time. Homemade strawberry marshmallows, with honey comb pieces, meringue, and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Divine! Again, no photo, partly because it was pretty dark by the time we ate dessert, and also because I’d inhaled it before even the thought ‘maybe I should’ve taken a photo of this’ had crossed my mind! ;)

Duck-cognac-sauceBoden-Christmas-in-July-press-trip

I know I said it at the end of yesterday’s post, but I really can’t thank Boden enough for taking me away on such an incredible trip. Not only was it mind-blowingly generous and the most wonderful treat, I came away feeling so inspired and full of vigour and enthusiasm for returning to work. Spending a few days talking to so many passionate, driven, like-minded people about the way they run their businesses was absolutely invaluable, and filled me with new focus and energy that I’m excited to channel into my own projects.

So a HUGE thank you to the wonderful team at Boden for inviting me along, for being the most attentive and fun hosts, for keeping us all topped up with bubbles from the moment we arrived in Dorset to the very last stretch of train journey back into Waterloo, and for an unforgettable experience! And roll on Christmas time, because I can’t wait to add those metallic loafers to my wardrobe!

* I’m wearing Breton top from Boden, dungarees from New Look, & my trusty old Hunters.

** Boden’s Autumn collection is being released in the next week…eyes peeled everyone!

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Posted in BODEN, DOG WALKS, PRESS LAUNCH, PRESS TRIP

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14.07

Cider-with-Rosie-Soda-bread-River-Cottage

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in the past couple of years of blogging, it’s that the fashion industry runs on an entirely different time schedule to most of the rest of the world. Whilst we’re out enjoying the sunshine wearing our floaty sundresses and wide brimmed hats, clothing companies are already working hard on collections two or three seasons in advance and have this year’s Christmas collection all ready to drop! It’s incredible! ‘Christmas in July’ is a big thing too, I’m learning. Retail companies preview their Christmas collections in July, so the month winds up becoming a bit of a summer/winter/Christmas melting pot!

Last week, the lovely team at Boden invited me along to their ‘Christmas in July’ press trip down to River Cottage in Dorset, to celebrate the upcoming launch of their beautiful Christmas collection. And if Christmas is a time of excess, generosity, joy, and indulgence- the trip was about as Christmassy as you can get in the very height of summer! Let me tell you more…

We (me, a few lovely folk from Boden, several other bloggers, and some journalists) met in that famous meeting spot beneath the clock in Waterloo late afternoon on Wednesday, and boarded a train to Crewkerne armed with what felt like a hundred suitcases and bags. I’d intended to get some work done on the journey down to Dorset, but wound up spending the entire train ride talking non-stop with the lovely Natasha and Katherine and didn’t get so much as one single photo edited! It was worth it though, of course!

We stayed at the Bull Hotel in Bridport, which serves insanely tasty food, has a fabulous bar, and a fabulously eclectic range of rooms. After a few cocktails in the hotel bar on Wednesday evening, we hit the hay in preparation for Thursday’s busy day at River Cottage. Turns out though, not even the sedative effects of a great strawberry daiquiri will allow you to sleep through a dawn chorus of seagull-screams, and I wound up being awake so early the following morning I actually had time to squeeze in a quick workout before going down for breakfast!

The-Bull-breakfast

After breakfast (coffees, smoked salmon, granola, yoghurt- the works!), a spot of top-speed blogging & email-answering, and some intense outfit deliberation (I brought basically my entire wardrobe with me…) we jumped into cabs and headed out West in the direction of that most famous of farms.

River Cottage is set back from the road, in its own little valley. The views were pretty spectacular, and we couldn’t have been more lucky with the weather. You know how Jason and I have been having an on-going debate for a good three years or so now, about whether we should move somewhere more urban or entirely rural when we next decide to move house? Well, after spending a couple of days down in Dorset, I text Jason and was all ‘Okay, you win. This is pretty great. To the countryside we go!’ It made him a VERY happy man!

River-Cottage-viewsRiver-Cottage-Farmhouse

We started out the day at RC with a batch of fresh drop scones, some more coffee (pretty much I drank on the trip was coffee, cocktails, or champagne. Boden know how to show a girl a good time!) and collectively Instagrammed enough photos that we actually maxed out the wifi. But I mean, River Cottage is basically one giant Instagram photo, so what on earth were we *supposed* to do?! The drop scones were tasty, but the granola they were topped with was even better. Super nutty and poppyseed-filled. Yum.

Drop-scones-with-granola-and-lemon-drizzleCider-with-Rosie-River-CottageRiver-Cottage-Boden-cooking-school

Before getting started in the cookery school, the head gardener took us on a tour round the kitchen gardens and farm. River Cottage is completely organic, and listening to the head gardener Will speak so passionately about the merits of farming sustainably, eating locally, and generally living well was incredibly inspiring. I’d like to say that it’s given me a new-found enthusiasm for gardening and growing my own veg, but I’m still too much of a wuss around bugs to be much use in the garden. I’ll be passing on the inspiration to Jason instead, and let him take charge of our grow-your-own endeavours…

River-Cottage-gardensPear-treeRiver-Cottage-pigs 

^^ We met the pigs! They were adorable, with muddy noses and stubbly backs. ^^

Cider-with-Rosie-in-Boden-River-CottagePicking-redcurrants-at-River-Cottage

The first half of the day’s cooking lessons were spent focusing on bread. The chef who lead our classes for the day, Andy, gave each of us a little starter from the River Cottage kitchens for us to work into our own loaves, and showed us a few different techniques for kneading the doughs. The dough we made was so much wetter and softer than any I’ve ever made in the past, and it made for a beautiful loaf. I did spend most of my morning trying to remove strands of my own hair from the dough I was kneading though…long hair problems.

River-Cottage-Cookery-SchoolRosie-River-CottageCider-with-Rosie-with-Boden-at-River-Cottage

Whilst our first loaf of bread proved, we got on with making loaves of fresh soda bread! This was definitely my favourite thing we made during the day- the loaf was so warm and nutty and rustic, and above all, SO easy to put together! No kneading, no proving- just mix and bake!

The loaves all got taken out of the ovens one by one, and brought outside to be eaten alongside our lunch in the kitchen gardens. Lunch was an incredible rainbow affair- a starter of light vegetable soup (with broad bean broth, and soda bread + butter on the side), and a main of beetroot, fennel, and courgette salads with charcuterie made from River Cottage’s own pork! We ate outside in the sunshine, and it was all pretty idyllic. And surreal too, to be sitting enjoying my lunch with so many inspiring women (bloggers like Sasha who I’ve admired for such a long time, writers and editors from The Telegraph, Cosmopolitan, & Vogue, and the passionate team from Boden itself), in that famous kitchen garden! Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention that whilst we were cooking, Hugh himself popped in to say hi to us all! Yep. It was a pretty cool day!

Kitchen-Garden-table-at-River-CottageRiver-Cottage-vegetable-lunchMaking-cheese-at-River-CottageLabneh 

Post-lunch, we headed back in to the cookery school so get started on making canapés and cocktails that would be perfect for a Christmas party! Andy whipped up a batch each of fresh labneh (strained yoghurt cheese) and lemon-scented curd cheese, and we got cracking cooking courgettes with fennel tops to go with the cheeses, and mini potato rostis to act as a base for smoked duck breast and homegrown redcurrants.

The final part of the day was spent whipping up some smoked sloe gin cocktails, which were punchy enough to knock your socks off! The smoke gets passed right through the sloe gin, then lingers on its surface for a minute or two before disappearing. Can you even imagine how amazing they’d be to serve around Christmas time?

Smoked-sloe-gin-cocktailsRiver-Cottage-Boden-Christmas-in-July-canapes 

^^ Four types of canapés! :: Garlic roasted tomato + labneh, smoked duck breast + redcurrants on a potato rosti, fennel-topped courgettes + curd cheese, & sweet gingernuts topped with yoghurt and berries! ^^

We’d chosen to walk right down to the farmhouse from the road when we arrived at River Cottage in the morning as opposed to being driven, but after all that food, we felt it was probably best to hop in the truck for the journey back up to the cars! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever eaten so well as we did that day! The trip to River Cottage was just brilliant, and I left feeling so inspired and keen to experiment more with my own cooking. I’d absolutely recommend it, as a day trip, mini-break, special treat, or perhaps even a hen-do! More details on the huge range of courses can be found here, if you fancy finding out more.

The biggest thank you both to the team at River Cottage and to Boden, for such an amazing day! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I’ll be sharing photos from our countryside walk with Johnnie, and also a little sneak preview of Boden’s Christmas collection!

* Outfit details for the above! :: Trousers: Boden. Tee: Topshop. Shoes: Office (similar).

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Posted in BODEN, COUNTRY WALKS, PRESS TRIP

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12.07

Mappenden-succulents

Saturday, Saturday already! Where on earth have the past few days disappeared to? This week was all set to be such a regular, quiet one round these parts, and then all of a sudden it became a week so very out of the ordinary and exciting that I’m still kind of reeling! I could easily go on for a good couple of days (and totally intend to, next week!) about how brilliant it’s all been, but adventures and excitement and busy-ness aren’t really what these little posts are all about, are they? They’re all about the more mundane, intangible moments that I might otherwise forget entirely! So here’s a little list of just such ‘happy things’ to be getting on with, and I hope you have a very lovely weekend! :)

1. Making friends with the lovely duck family on our pond! All week we’ve been feeding the ducklings right from our front door, and obsessively counting them to make sure all six are still alive and well. They’re just the cutest little things, and I kind of want to keep one as a little pet. Teddy wouldn’t be too kind to it though, I shouldn’t think…

2. Seeing Jason come back from trips to the gym feeling so energised and happy. It’s kind of amazing what exercise does to your mood and wellbeing, isn’t it?

3. Being able to talk ‘shop’ the past few days, with so many inspirational and passionate and intelligent women.

4. Restocking my t-shirt supplies. All my old ones had gone kind of baggy and misshapen, so I did a mini-blitz at GAP earlier on in the week, and now my t-shirt drawer is a happy place again!

5. Watching the sun set whilst on the train home from London. The journey home to Surrey from Waterloo gives the most incredible open-sky views, and the sunset on Tuesday was a really special one.

6. Having a little hotel room time all of my own! I’ve been making full use of robes/beautiful toiletries/being able to stretch out like a starfish in bed! ;)

7. Days and days full of glorious sunshine! (also, not burning. God bless moisturisers with built in SPF)

8. Having finally grown my layers out long enough to do milkmaid braids for the first time in ages!

9. Being reunited with my boys last night. Jason opened the front door, and Teddy came tearing across past the pond towards me. I got just the tiniest bit choked up, I was so happy to see them both!

10. Coffee. All day, every day. I can’t get enough!

Three posts I’ve loved reading this week :: Gillian’s beautiful photos from a trip to the Highlands || Garance’ perfectly curated ‘vacances’ essentials || + Carin’s ‘unpacking’ post- because her photos are my absolute favourite right now!

What’s made you happy this week? I feel as though I’ve been out of the loop, blog-wise, this week, so will you link me your favourite post from your own week’s posts (or just one you’ve read!) in the comments, for me to have a little read of? I’ll look forward to browsing through them all!

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Posted in 10 THINGS, HAPPINESS

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