10.11

Starbucks-festive-drinks-date

Thursday last week found Jason and I working in the very same office, for once! It’s unusual that I go over and work in the Flourish studios, these days. Between trips to London, days spent baking/cooking/taking photos of the end results, and my inability to string a sentence together unless it’s totally and completely quiet, I don’t often get chance to! Which is a shame, really- mainly because spending time with Jason is my favourite but also because he and his team have a tradition I like to partake in called ‘Filthy Fridays’, whereby they get in lunch from one of Guildford’s finest fast food establishments. This Friday just gone was one of those kind of Fridays, and judging by the smug look on my other half’s face when he arrived home work, it’d been a ‘Meat the Greek’ lunchtime. (Friends, if you ever find yourselves near Guildford and with a growling stomach, get yourselves over to Meat the Greek on Chapel Street. There you’ll find the pita bread of your dreams, charred and filled with fresh, herby chicken, garlic sauce, and chips. Filthy, but so very worth it.)

I’ve been sidetracked! Thursday is what we’re supposed to be talking about! So, in the early afternoon, Jason and I decided to take a quick break from our tasks at hand, and pop up the high street in search of some of those famous red cups. I’d heard tell online that the festive drinks had been released, and cliche though it is, we just can’t resist those sugary lattes. We found them, Jason went eggnog, I went gingerbread, and we made our way back to the office two very happy customers. A few years back I managed to butter up the staff at my local Starbucks enough that they sold me a couple of their cartons of eggnog mix for Jason, so that he could make up his favourite lattes at home. And that’s what I’ll be working on this November, folks…
  Starbucks-red-cups Starbucks-red-christmas-drinks Suede-Oxfords Cider-with-Rosie-winter-date Cider-with-Rosie Rosie-and-Jason-matching-shoes Casual-winter-outfit

What I wore :: Trench coat || Shirt || Jeans || Oxfords {similar} || Hat {+ Jason’s amazing pink-laced Oxfords are similar to these ones here}

Now, how was your weekend? Was it lovely? We did nothing more strenuous than a little banana bread baking (I added a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter to this recipe here, and it was immense), food shopping, mince pie eating, AND I singlehandedly demolished one and a half pots of hummus. (Realising now quite how food-themed this weekend was.) We did work out and take Teddy on a couple of long old walks too, I promise! Oh, and we also watched most of Season 8 of the Office US, and Jason’s brother Joe came visiting with his baby boy Eddie, which meant I got a much needed fix of baby cuddles. All in all, a lovely one!

Now, can we take the briefest of moments to discuss Christmas? Are you gift-buying yet? I feel as though I should be, but I just can’t bring myself to begin. Can someone tell me one of those ‘only X number of weekends left until Christmas’ stats and kick me into gear please? Thanks in advance ;)

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Posted in COFFEE, DATE, GUILDFORD, JASON, WINTER

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05.11

Day-trip-in-Richmond

I decided on Wednesday morning that it’d been far too long since I’d had a trip to Richmond. The last time we went was back in summer when we visited with friends.  I made a quick phone call to my little sister to see if she fancied coming along approximately 30 seconds after the ‘I fancy a trip to Richmond’ thought had crossed my mind, and she did! So Thursday morning we left early(ish), and were in town by 11am.

Richmond at the weekend is lovely, but during the week, it’s magic. It sort of feels like a village instead of a city- quiet and peaceful, but with the added bonus of being able to stop by an Anthropologie whenever you fancy…and I always fancy a trip to Anthropologie.

The main aim of the day was to find a great slice of cake. I had every intention of seeking out some sweet and charming independent cafe I’d never visited before, but then we walked past Hummingbird and…you can guess what happened. I just can never turn down their cream cheese frosting- it calls out my name as I walk past the shop, and before you know it, I’m at the counter! Plus they make an excellent flat white too, which is always a clincher for me.

Cider-with-Rosie

What I wore :: Ledbury pea coat (on sale right now, too!) || Breton top || Tartan scarf || Jeans || Boots || Bag  (And whilst we’re on the topic, can we just take a minute to note that those are the shortest length jeans that Gap sell, and I still have to cuff them to be able to wear them with boots? Le sigh.)

Storefront Richmond-town-house-rooves Boden-pea-coat Hummingbird-cheesecake-slice

Let’s talk for a minute about cake. I’ve sampled a good variety of the Hummingbird menu, and now it’s high time we got serious about the whole cake-eating business. The three layered cheesecake brownies are good. Really good. The brownie is dense and fudgey, and so amazing paired with the light raspberry-flecked whipped cream on top. The layer cakes are for those of us who like a 3:1 frosting to cake ratio. I ate a slice of the lemon and raspberry ripple cake during last week’s visit so large and so heavily frosted it was almost vulgar, and even though I’m a huge fan of cream cheese frosting (especially lemon cream cheese frosting!) it was a bit much even for me. (I did soldier on and eat the whole slice, mind you. Because I’m a trooper like that, and dedicated to my cause.)

The cupcakes really are where it’s at with Hummingbird, if you ask me. There’s always just the right amount of frosting, they’re generously sized but not so big they become sickly, and the flavours are the best. I highly recommend the S’mores flavour (it’s limited edition though, so you’ll have to hurry!), the carrot cake, and of course (of COURSE!) the red velvet! And like I said, their flat white is the bomb (so strong it’s like being punched in the face with a bag of coffee beans).

Blue-and-white-storefront   Richmond-town-houses

To work off our post-cake stupor, Cesca and I moseyed on down to the river for a walk. Spending time with my sister seems to get more and more special as the years go on. Because of the huge age gap between us (seven years and 364 days!), it’s always felt like we’ve been in two separate worlds. As we’re getting older though, the gap is closing faster and faster. I can’t quite believe that she’s off to college next year, and is not that far off being able to learn to drive. It feels so very recent that I was at that exact same point in my life- panicking over GCSE coursework deadlines, taking my first day of A-level classes (where, fun fact, I was actually taught English Lit by my very own Mum! :), spending the ‘rights of passage’ summer between school and college performing in a production of Oliver and falling for a guy who wound up being my very first boyfriend.

It’s so exciting listening to Francesca tell me all her plans and dreams (she has such big plans!), and to think about how very different we are. Whereas my talents lean more towards the creative and artistic, my sister is as logic-based as they come. She started explaining something about ‘circle theorems’ (or something like that, I don’t even know) over coffee on Thursday, and I’ll be honest, I’d zoned out and was thinking about what lovely light there was and how it was making for easy photo-taking at the first mention of the word ‘denominator’ ;)

So, we’d talked and we’d walked and we’d talked some more, right along the river and back again, and then post-cake sugar high wore off and left us feeling peckish…

Heron-on-the-riverside

^^ This heron was a confident one! And a poser, too…^^

Francesca

^^ My sister is basically Rapunzel in a navy blue parka. Isn’t her hair so beautiful? The photo doesn’t even do it justice! ^^

Richmond-brewery-stores-sign Rosie-in-Richmond Lunch-at-Cote

For lunch, we decided to stop by Cote- partly because the sweet green cafe chairs were too charming to pass up, but mainly because the french fries are the BOMB. We both ordered the cod goujons with fries- little sis ate hers with ketchup, I polished off one and a half portions of tartare sauce, and all was well in the world. Oh, and we made the most of the mild-ish weather and ate outside for what was probably (almost certainly!) the last time this year. Autumn al-fresco dining is where it’s at!

Richmond-clock-tower Richmond-flower-stall

And after a quick pit stop back to the bakery to pick up cakes for Jason, and an eye-wateringly huge payment was made at the NCP pay station (I can’t even begin to tell you how much it was. It’s too painful a memory.) we were home! The drive back down the motorway was beautiful- we drove right into the sunset, and the whole time I kept shouting over the radio to Cesca about how I’d forgotten what winter light looked like and how much I love the half hour right before sunset for taking photos. And, in much the same way as I did when she talked to me about trigonometry and circle theorems, Cesca tuned me right on out ;) And such is the magic of the sibling relationship! <3

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Posted in AUTUMN, COFFEE, DAY TRIPS, FAMILY, FASHION, LONDON, RESTAURANT

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08.10

Coffee-walnut-four-tier-layer-cake

Today’s is my sweet fiancé’s 27th birthday! Jason’s one and only birthday as a ‘fiancé’ no less, and his last before he becomes a husband! 27 is set to be a big year ;) To celebrate, we’re taking the day off and heading out into the countryside for a jolly, and then going for dinner in the evening at his family home. Expect photos, because that’s just how this works, right? ;)

This year, Jason requested coffee and walnut cake, please and thank you. We toyed briefly with the idea of doing Jamie’s chocolate cake, with that amazing looking nougat frosting and the chocolate crispy layers. Carrot cake was mentioned, too. As was good old Victoria sponge. We even discussed a Devil’s Food…before remembering that we always find chocolate cake deeply unsatisying. Eventually though, coffee and walnut cake (that stalwart of the country fair bake sale stand) was settled upon. I actually made this cake last year for Jason’s birthday, but have done a little tweaking with the recipe to take it up a notch or two since then! Mainly by ramping up the coffee flavour in the frosting by using fresh espresso instead of powder (never enough coffee for us!), and slicing up the layers to make this cake a four tier-er.

Making Jason’s birthday cake each year is one of my favourite annual traditions. I like to think that in years to come, I’ll look back on all the years and years of cakes that’ve been made in various different kitchens, and feel fondly nostalgic…even more so than I do normally! But even aside from all this silly sentimentality, this cake’s set to be a tasty one! We’ve yet to cut into it (as much as I’m dedicated to the art of photography and food styling, there’s nothing that’ll make me cut into someone else’s birthday cake merely for the sake of a great photo ;) but liberal amounts of both the batter and frosting were consumed yesterday, and I can confirm that it’s a good’un. (Maybe my lunch yesterday consisted of cake batter and frosting with a token Nakd bar thrown in for ‘health’. Maybe I sat on the living room floor eating frosting off the spatula yesterday afternoon, looking dejectedly at the post-photoshoot mess around me and wondering how to get away with not clearing it up Maybe not. There’s just no way of knowing.)

So, to the recipe!

How-to-put-together-layer-cake Coffee-and-walnut-layer-cake-recipe

The recipe is adapted (barely, because it’s pretty perfect as it is) from Nigella’s coffee + walnut cake recipe in ‘Kitchen’. Serves about fifty million people (look at the size of it!).

Ingredients ::
50g walnuts
225g caster sugar
225g soft unsalted butter
200g plain flour
4tsp instant espresso powder
2 1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs
2tbsp milk

For the frosting ::
525g icing sugar
260g soft unsalted butter
3tbsp fresh espresso
Walnuts + dark chocolate, to decorate

- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, then butter two sandwich tins and line the bases with parchment paper. For the cake, begin by putting the walnuts and sugar into a food processor, and blitz until the walnuts have been broken down into a fine crumble.

- Add the sugar mixture into the bowl of a mixer, and beat together with the butter until light and fluffy. Measure out the flour, espresso powder, bicarb and baking powder into a separate bowl, and mix to combine. Whisk the eggs in a jug.

- Add half the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mix, followed by half the beaten eggs, beating well between each addition. Continue until both the dry ingredients and eggs have been combined into the butter and sugar mixture, and the batter is smooth and well combined.

- With the mixer on low, add in the milk a tablespoon at a time, until the batter reaches a lightly whipped dropping consistency. Feel free to add in a splash more milk if the batter stills feel thick after the initial 2tbsps have been added.

- Divide between two prepared sandwich tins, carefully smooth the tops flat, then bake for between 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden brown and springy to the touch. Allow the cakes to cool for around 10 minutes in their tins, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. When the cake are completely cool, carefully slice them in half. I found that scoring a halfway line round the middle, then cutting bit by bit in a circle was the easiest way to do this.

- To make the frosting, put the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of a mixer, **hang a tea towel over the top of the mixer to stop the sugar going everywhere!** and then beat until the butter and sugar start to clump together.

- Brew a double shot of espresso, then whilst it’s still warm, begin to add it to the frosting a tablespoon at a time with the mixer on a slow speed. I probably added a dash more than the listed 3tbsp, but give the frosting a taste after each tablespoon of espresso has been beaten in and stop when it’s ‘coffee-y’ enough! Beat the frosting on a high speed for a minute after all the espresso has been added, to make it beautifully light and fluffy.

- Put the base layer of cake on a cake stand or serving plate, and then spread with a generous amount of frosting. The frosting is a fairly stiff one and won’t spill out, so can be spread right up to the edges of the cake. Build up the cake one layer at a time, then finish with a final topping of frosting. Top with walnuts and chocolate shavings (drag a sharp knife over the back of a bar or chocolate), and serve to your favourite person on their 27th birthday :)

Coffee-and-walnut-cake-recipe Nigella-coffee-cake-recipe

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Posted in BAKING, BIRTHDAY, CAKE, COFFEE, RECIPE, SWEET

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16.09

How-to-make-cinnamon-lattes

When it comes to coffee-making, things have moved on a bit in our house since my last tutorial. A ROK espresso machine arrived in the post a couple of weekends back (delivered by a delivery man I see so often we’re now on a first name basis…) and has been the cause of a mini-coffee revolution around these parts. As much as I loved my old 6-cup Bialetti stovetop pot, being able to brew just enough espresso for one (sublimely tasty!) coffee is brilliant beyond belief. And it doesn’t hurt that the ROK a thing of beauty, either. Let me tell you more about it…

ROK-portafilter ROK-espresso-machine

The coffee machine is a manual one, which ROK say gives greater control over the espresso it makes. You just fill up the little portafilter with ground coffee, use the tamp to press it all in tight, pour freshly boiled water in to the top of the machine, then push down the two metal arms to force the water through the coffee grounds and brew the espresso! It’s blissfully quiet, and like I said previously, brews just the right amount of espresso to make a generously sized latte/flat white/cappuccino. I’ve been so impressed by the quality of the coffee too- the only thing that isn’t so amazing is the little manual milk frothed that comes with the machine, but I’m still so happy with the little Bodum one I bought during summer that it’s not been a problem at all! It looks so very swanky too- I was nervous that it would look out of place in our little kitchen, but it’s so handsome I’ve been leaving it out on show 24/7!

Now, let’s get on to the cinnamon part of this cinnamon-themed tutorial.

Making-espresso-with-ROK Untitled-1

To make the cinnamon syrup that’ll flavour the coffee, just put one cup of water and one cup of granulated sugar into a saucepan. Then break up 3 cinnamon sticks, and add them in with the water and sugar. Heat the mixture over a medium flame until the sugar has completely dissolved, then simmer for 8-10 minutes until the syrup has thickened ever so slightly. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve, and then decant into a bottle.

To make the latte, brew an espresso using your coffee machine, and heat up enough milk to fill your mug two-thirds full. Take it off the heat just before it boils, then use a milk frother to whisk up the milk and get a nice velvety foam. Pour the milk into the espresso, and then add in a couple of drops of the cinnamon syrup. It makes the coffee taste extra rich and smooth, and more festive than should be legal so early on in autumn!

Cinnamon-syrup-recipe Cinnamon-latte-recipe Homemade-Starbucks-cinnamon-latte-recipe

The ROK espresso machine is available to buy from Selfridges, who sent me through this one to test and review here on Cider with Rosie. It’s definitely more of an investment than the pod coffee machines that are so popular right now, but in my opinion is in a whole league above when it comes to making great coffee. Perhaps one to put on this year’s Christmas list?

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Posted in COFFEE, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, TUTORIAL

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