Domestic Sluttery is changing! Visit our new homepage to check out our fabulous makeover.


Friday 28 June 2013

The Boy and His Poison: Negroni Gin Float

If you don't have the excuse of a regular gig as a cocktail columnist, family members start to suspect you of being a bit of a lush. It's with great pleasure I can inform my nearest and dearest that the last few months of being a dedicated bar-louche have been consigned to the 'Domestic Sluttery research' bank.

My taste buds started craving a Negroni this week, but imagine how much more fun the drink might be with a bit of slush-puppy inspired deconstruction.

The Negroni Gin Float consists of two scoops of Campari and vermouth sorbet floating in ice cold gin.  The alcohol the sorbet doesn't even need stirring, it just happily sets into a delicious silky smooth consistency. Just make sure you don't get through too much of the stuff before you serve your guests.

Negroni Gin Float (the sorbet should make enough for 5 cocktails, if you're having two scoops)
For the sorbet you'll need:
  • 150ml Water
  • 50ml Campari
  • 50ml Martini Rosso
  • 50ml Pink grapefruit juice 
  • 150g Sugar
  • Zest of 1/4 of a grapefruit
  • Squeeze of lemon (optional)
For the cocktail you'll need:
  • 50ml gin
  • Grapefruit zest
  • Lemon peel for garnish
Make the sorbet the night before:
  • Add the water, Campari, martini, squeezed grapefruit juice and sugar to a small pan. Gently heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Give it a taste and if you like a bit of tang squeeze some lemon in. It's a matter of personal taste but I think that sugar needs to be kept in check and a bit of lemon or lime is a perfect way to do it.
  • Pour the mixture into a tupperware pot and drop it in the freezer overnight. I don't have an ice cream maker to test but it would make the job easier and avoid ice crystals, although bear in mind the alcohol does skew the freezing process so don't be too heavy-handed, no matter how tempting. 
Then shake (sort of)
  • Using a vegetable peeler at a 45 degree angle take a thin constant strip of skin from the base to the top of a lemon. 
  • Line a small tumbler with the lemon. 
  • Scoop two balls of the sorbet and drop into the base of the tumbler.
  • Drown the sorbet in 50ml of your frozen gin.
  • Grate a little grapefruit zest over the top of the drink to compliment the aromatics of the lemon peel and the slowly melting sorbet.

Friday wishlist: Gorgeous things you'll want to buy RIGHT NOW

The perfect dress. £35 from Oasis.

The perfect teapot. £85 from Anta.

The perfect iPad case. £24.99 from The Fowndry.

The perfect headpiece. £185 from Karin Andréasson.

The perfect leather bag. £59 from Mimi.

The perfect lampshade. £27 from Hunkydory Home.

Sluttery Sales Spy: Joy, Fever & Urban Outfitters

I'm like a salesponge this week, sucking up all the best bargains and squeezing them out over your heads when you're feeling all hot and bothered and in need of a refreshing shop. Whee!


Gem sunglasses, £10 (was £18), Urban Outfitters

Oh, hello Dream Sunglasses - I've been expecting you. Much like the second coming, I wasn't exactly sure when you would arrive, but I'll admit I was selfishly hoping it would be in time for summer. And it seems there is a Sunglasses God after all, because here you are, beautiful and bejewelled, ready to glint and glimmer and turn water into wine and fight UV rays in a peaceful and thoroughly reasonable manner. Praise be.

Triceratops necklace by Origami Jewellery, £80.50 (was £115), Boticca

Life might've worked out differently for the dinosaurs if they'd been made from folded paper. Luckily for us, there exists a snapshot of what history might have been like, thanks to the imaginatively-named Origami Jewellery and their triceratops necklace. He's a whole lot less frightening now, isn't he? No need to call Steven.

Bug earrings, £6 (was £12), ASOS

Following on from Sara's bee-inspired wares, I bring you some more blingsects in the form of these dazzling bug earrings from ASOS. On a related side note, the existence of ASOS Premier - £9.95 a year, for unlimited next-day delivery with no minimum order value - has completely passed me by until now. Don't y'all go telling me you've known about it for years, because all I'll say is, "WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME?".


Louche Bay skirt, £25 (was £35), Joy

I like everything about the Bay skirt from Joy, number one being the cutesome print. Let's have a closer look:

It's as if Joy have drilled inside my skull and fished out the contents of the dreamworld that exists in my head. The only things they've missed are:
  • A campervan
  • Approx. 14 cats and 1 pug
  • Hilary Devey
  • One of those Turkish Delight jellies that M&S had on sale for about 6 seconds before discontinuing them.
  • Zoom ice lollies (RIP)
  • Fry's Five Centres chocolate bars (RIP)
  • Jeff Goldblum
Aside from all that, I think it's a pretty great representation, don't you?

McGregor skirt in citrus, £29.99 (was £59.99), Fever

Awkward! We've all been there - just taking a casual countryside stroll in our new citrus-print skirt from Fever, when all of a sudden we bump into an equally-beautiful woman wearing her new citrus-print dress. Then lo and behold, a fashion photographer pops out of a nearby bush and demands some snaps. Isn't it all just so inconvenient? Still, orange top lady here has done a mighty good job of concealing her disdain for the situation; Yellow Cardi can't cover up her seething rage.

Check midi skirt, £22.50 (was £45), ASOS

No need to carry around that bulky pad of graph paper now, ladies - just wear this checked midi skirt from ASOS and you'll be able to whip up a quick technical drawing or knitting pattern on your thighs, whenever the mood takes you.


Metallic lace dress, £39 (was £65), ASOS

Well, if you'd told me that lace and metallic finishes could be combined to create a dress that actually looks comfortable, I'd have said DON'T MAKE ME LAUGH. However. Here we have this metallic lace t-shirt dress from ASOS to prove that lacy and shiny ≠ stifling evening wear that you can't wait to get out of at the end of the night. Also: stripes. 

Jovonnista check dress, £30 (was £50), ASOS

I'm getting royal vibes from this Jovonnista dress. The checks remind me of a regal tartan armchair, or perhaps the upholstery in Princess Anne's Land Rover.

First of all, HAIR! Beautiful! Second of all, SKIN! Perfect! Third of all, FRUIT DRESS! Amazing. I'm clean out of adjectives now, but I think it's clear that I'm very much in favour of dressing up as a bowl of fruit.

Any sales success stories this week, you guys? 

Let Her Eat Cake: Hazelnut Praline Cream Cake

Praline cream cake? It's as decadent as wallowing in a paddling pool full of champagne.

If Oliver Cromwell were still around, he'd probably try and have this cake banned. Along with Christmas. Boo hiss Oliver Cromwell.

But luckily, here at DSHQ we love a bit of wanton baking (and wonton making). Especially if it involves praline, which to me, makes everything taste a bit like Ferrero Rocher. Only ever a good thing. But if you're not such a fan of the mightiest of chocolate eighties party treats, then you could replace the chopped hazelnuts in the cake with ground almonds, and add a splash of amaretto to the cream to make an almond-y cream cake.

There he goes. Cromwell turning in his grave again...

Hazelnut Praline Cream Cake
You will need:
For the praline
  • 100g whole hazelnuts
  • 100g caster sugar
For the cake
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 25g chopped hazelnuts
For the filling and topping
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod (scored with a sharp knife to remove the seeds) or a few drops vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 25g white chocolate
  • Fresh raspberries (optional)
Make it!
The praline:
  1. Place 100g of sugar in a saucepan over a low heat. Leave until melting, swirling the pan occasionally but DO NOT stir, no matter how tempting it is. 
  2. Meanwhile, give the hazelnuts a quick toast in a dry frying pan, a minute or two should be enough. Watch that they don't burn. 
  3. When the sugar has completely melted, tip in the hazelnuts and stir quickly until completely covered. 
  4. Spread immediately onto a piece of kitchen foil and leave to harden. 
The cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. 
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a teaspoon of flour with each to help the mixture stay smooth. 
  4. Gently fold in the remainder of the flour and baking powder, taking care not to over mix. 
  5. When just combined, stir in the chopped hazelnuts. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until risen and a skewer comes out clean. 
  7. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 
The filling and topping:
  1. With the help of a rolling pin and a clean tea towel, break the hardened praline into small chunks. (Be careful if trying to break them by hand: I didn't know it was possible to cut yourself on sugar. How wrong I was)
  2. Place the pieces into a blender and pulse until the praline has reached the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Transfer to a smaller bowl. (If you don't have a blender, you could try placing the praline pieces in a zip-lock bag and beating the crap out of it with a rolling pin. The texture won't be so even, but at least you'll have worked out some aggression). 
  3. In a large bowl, add the vanilla to the cream and whip until it has stiffened into soft peaks. 
  4. Stir in around 4 tbsp of the praline, along with the icing sugar, until combined. 
  5. Carefully cut your cake in half. 
  6. Spread the bottom half of the cake with some of the praline cream, grating a little white chocolate over the surface. Dot a few fresh raspberries around and sandwich the other layer on top. 
  7. Spread the remaining cream over the top and sides of the cake. 
  8. Using the rest of the praline, decorate the top, adding more grated white chocolate and raspberries to finish.

Thursday 27 June 2013

The Emma Bridgewater Summer Sale

I can't resist an Emma Bridgewater sale. I love her designs, but since I live with a cat who apparently things smashing mugs is a suitable hobby (my last EB purchase lasted less than a week), I'm reluctant to buy them full price. This biscuit tin is cat-proof and only £5.95 - that's a good place to start.

Apparently this dinosaur plate is for children. That's why it's small. Nope. Now it's for biscuits and sandwiches and snacks. It's reduced to £7.95.

This London skyline teapot is a bargain - now £29.95 down from £75. And there's a skyline mug.

Badger badger badger badger... mushroom (African snaaaaaake)! This badger mug is now £10.50. Your tea will taste better if you sing stupid badger songs while you make it.

Your brilliant gravy needs a brilliant gravy jug.

Embrace the crumbs. Embrace the summer sale.

What have we been reading recently?

It's a wonder we got any writing done at all this month with all of the reading we've been doing. Here's what we've had our noses in this month.

Sian: After falling completely head over heels with The Night Circus, I had a bit of a book hangover and I couldn't settle on a new book for a while. I opted for a classic I've been meaning to read for years: Donna Tartt's The Secret History. I'm right in the middle, loving every single second of it. It's epic but utterly compelling.

I'm also reading a collection of Ted Hughes' letters, but only in very small doses. They're absolutely going to break my heart.

I have no idea what's next bookwise, but I do have my eyes on some magazines: I am really looking forward to reading new women's magazine Libertine and I'm itching to get my hands on It's Nice That's Printed Pages.

Frances: I’ve read some fab books this month. Capital by John Lanchester was the first book I read on my Kobo and was perfectly suited to the format. Focusing on a street in south London, it features short sections on the everyday lives of each of its residents, from the Polish builder to the banker eagerly awaiting his bonus. It’s horrendously sad, hilarious and heartwarming.

Going back in time, Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart is a bonbon of a book. It’s her memoir of a sweet summer spent working in New York in the 1940s, at Tiffany. Celebrities, jewellery, friendship and heartbreak, there’s no great dramas in this story and the tale is even more lovely for its simplicity.

I’m now reading Jane Maas’s Mad Women – her memoirs from working as an advertising woman in New York in the 60s. If you’ve watched Mad Men, you’ll have already guessed that her experience of the city won’t be quite as innocent as Marjorie Hart’s, but it’s inspiring reading none the less. Jane Maas and her contemporaries were some ballsy women.

Laura B: My month of reading has been somewhat stymied by the fact that I'm knee-deep in books about HTML, CSS, SEO and other mind-frying initialisms. However, I have managed to squeeze in a little light literary relief. I re-read Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, a slim volume and an easy read, but one which is inspiring for runners and non-runners alike (or lapsed runners, like me). Then, I finally got round to reading The Fault In Our Stars by John Green after hearing everyone raving about it, and now I understand what all the fuss was about. Terrific. You'll read it in a night but remember it for years.

Next up, I'm going to read The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales, ahead of seeing Sofia Coppola's film of the same name. The true story of Hollywood's notorious celebrity-obsessed burglary gang? Yes please.

Laura H: This month, I've been drawn in and completely fascinated by Niki Segnit's The Flavour Thesaurus. Err, what, parsnip and anise? Olive and white chocolate? Segnit explains the reasoning behind often-combined flavours and lifts the curtain on some surprising pairings. With a great tone of voice and recipes embedded in the text, what starts off as a quick dip into the pages to check out a flavour combination turns into hours of revelation.

Next I'm carrying on my Crime spree and reading The Instance of the Fingerpost by Ian Pears. I'm looking forward to a bit of Victorian mystery and mayhem. Anyone read it?

Hazel: I have read Katrina Meynink's Kitchen Coquette book from cover to cover. This is really rare for me as I usually just skim over the blurb and get straight to the recipes but this book is hilarious. It's divided into meals and drinks for life events from first dinner dates (apple crumble soufflés), what to take to a work do (spice doughnut muffins with rhubarb jam - YUM!) to breakups (mostly booze fuelled). I really can't recommend this one enough, the recipes are brilliant, the photos are gorgeous and it's genuinely really funny and heartfelt, total top cook book I've seen in a long time.

When Ian Banks died recently it reminded me how much I loved his first book The Wasp factory so I have started re-reading that a good ten years after my first visit. I struggled with some of Bank's other books but there is something quite wonderful about his very first, it's dark and explicit and not for the squeamish.

What have you been reading this month? Share your recommendations with us!

Eat me: Alice in Wonderland Accessories

"'Well, I'll eat it,' said Alice, 'and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door; so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!'" If the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland teaches us anything, it's to not just eat or drink anything labeled "Eat Me" or "Drink Me" without first considering the consequences. I'm pretty sure there are few consequences to helping yourself to a cup of tea and a biscuit from these Lewis Carroll inspired glass tea and biscuit jars, from Primrose and Plum. They're £14 for the pair, then you could be whisked off to Wonderland every time you sit down to a cuppa and a biccie.

"Soon her eye fell upon a little glass box lying underneath the table. She opened it and found in it a very small cake, on which the words "EAT ME" were beautifully marked in currants." If, like me, you don't like currants, you might need to label your cakes in a different way. This cake topper and cocktail stick set, from Miss Cake is just the thing and would be perfect for a tea party with the Mad Hatter. It's £5.49 for the set and they come in a massive choice of colours.

Now that you've suitably labelled your cakes and biscuit, you'll need something to serve them on. Quite honestly, you'd be guaranteed to impress with any of the plates from Eleanor Stuart's Alice Collection on Etsy, but I particularly love this one with the Mad Hatter. It's £20 for a side plate and £30 for a dinner plate each one is fine bone china and decorated by hand using traditional methods. 

So, come and join us for tea, "We're all mad here."

All quotes are from Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.

Etsy Pick: Shop Miss Ella's cutest animal bags

Miss Ella seems to have been cribbing on the precise ways to make us like her: she has a fondness for furry creatures, she's a UK-based Etsy seller (Norwich to be precise) and, possibly most importantly, she's a maker of lust-worthy bags and accessories.

Did I mention Ella liked furry creatures? They can be found scampering all over her shop, but it's on her animal bags they make their biggest paw print (found thanks to a tip off from the ever reliable Frankie). Look, it's a bag shaped like a cat! If that doesn't make your inner five-year-old clap your hands with glee, I suspect you're lying.

There's a bear bag too - identifiable from the shaped wooden handle ears (Attenborough has nothing on me). Each animal is available in a number of different fabric finishes, or you could request your own custom version.

These bags look as if they are made with a whole lot of love and care, carried through to every pocket and lining.

And, for all the fashion conscious bunnies out there, there's even a bag shaped like a rabbit.

Fallen head over fluffy tail for the bags? They're all priced at £65 each. There's a wide range of cheaper goodies available in Ella's shop too, such as this cat collar or her nail decals. Well, hop to it!

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Rob Ryan for the V&A

Oh, Rob Ryan. Sometimes your unashamed sentimentality is a little much for a Wednesday afternoon, but not today. Not when there's an exclusive new print produced especially for the V&A. It's called You Are My Universe.

Moons circle planets
and planets circle stars
and every star and galaxy has
its place in the universe, and you and I will
circle each other for you will always be at the heart of my

universe and if you want me - I will always be yours.

This gorgeous lasercut print is £95 and a limited edition of 500. It's one of the five new prints intended to be the perfect wedding gift (this is actually the most expensive of the new prints - prices for the collection start at £25). I can think of a few couples getting hitched later this year who would love such a special present.

Sluttery Travels: "Catch it, Cook it, Eat it" at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Dorset

There's something about the name Dorset that instantly makes me think of ace things: The Archers, sunshine and seaside fun being in the top 3, throw in a luxury spa hotel, a fishing trip and cooking masterclass from incredible chef Alex Aitken and Dorset will now forever more be my favourite little county (don't tell Kent or Somerset). 

Just a couple of miles up the Jurassic coast from Bournemouth lies the hidden treasure that is Christchurch and nestled on the waterfront is the Christchurch Harbour Hotel and Spa.

I was there to check out their "Catch It, Cook It, Eat It" breaks which sees you taken under the wing of the completely charming chef patron Alex Aitken for 2 days (he catered Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullum's wedding you know). We arrived on the Friday evening and were shown to our rooms over looking the beautiful harbour. Huge beds, flatscreen TV, showers big enough for two (always a bonus) and mini bar stocked with beautiful wine, beer and juices, hello! There was even a little Krups coffee machine in the wardrobe (which took about 10 minutes to figure out how to use - top tip: err... fill water tank first) and free wifi so you can "check-in" on Facebook and make all your friends super jealous.
Super massive comfy beds and what a view of the sea meeting the sky!
That evening we headed to The Jetty restaurant in the grounds of the hotel overlooking the quay. We were given a champagne masterclass about Billecart-Salmon champagne, seriously hunt it down it's wonderful - it's also their house champagne. Alex came out to chat away with diners, he told us that the previous week a blue shark had been caught in the bay! That was my challenge set, Jaws here I come!
Amazing seafood, cheese soufflé and kickass espresso martini
I woke up early and decided to head down to the hotel's spa to soothe away my fuzzy champagne and espresso martini head (you MUST have one, they are so good they even appear on the breakfast menu),  I was there at 7am and had the place entirely to myself. It was my kind of spa, no bright harsh lights, all dark and enveloped with gentle music and aromatherapy steam room and sauna, although I spent most of my time in the hydro-pool being bounced around by bubbles, perfect hangover cure.

An al fresco breakfast overlooking the water put paid to any lingering blurriness as I tucked into a feast of fruit, pastries, smoked salmon and the creamiest most buttery hollandaise ever. Definitely ready for going after Jaws fishing.
Have breakfast on the terrace looking at this view...err yes please
Just a 5 minute stroll from the hotel is Mudeford Quay which was just beautiful, you can buy crab lines and hunt for your prey off the quayside, buy a tub of shellfish to tuck into over a pint or even hire a windsurfer for the afternoon.

We headed out with Alex on board Offshore Rebel skippered by the lovely Jamie. Before becoming a chef Alex worked as trawler man so he knows his fish which meant we were in very good hands. There were 8 of us on our trip and only 3 had fished before but Offshore Rebel is equipped with hightech fish finders so prettty much as soon as we dropped our lines in the mackerel began to jump on! Jamie and Alex went round taking the fish off the lines and putting them in the water tank and sometimes we were reeling in lines with 4 fish wriggling on them - it was ACE.
Jamie helping take mackerel off the line, a dog fish and all our fishy bounty
I haven't been sea fishing in about 8 years and managed about 60 fish, enough to earn me the title of Fish Ninja (a badge I wear with pride).  It wasn't just mackerel though, others caught beautiful bream, a few dogfish and even a garfish which has blue flesh and a green skeleton! It meant that after a few hours surrounded by glorious views out at sea we returned to the quay with a huge cooler full of the freshest fish imaginable. Word of warning though, wear sunscreen! The water reflects the rays and we all came back looking like freshly cooked lobsters!

Once back to the hotel we quickly changed and headed for our seafood masterclass on the terrace. Fishing was thristy work and therefore cold ciders and champagne went down a treat as Alex showed us how to prepare our catch.
Our catch is ready to be given the Alex Aitken treatment
We had the most wonderful mackerel ceviche, BBQ'd bream, a smoky chorizo cassoulet made using the dogfish was a revelation (most people throw them back over the side of the boat) and lots of crispy tempura mackerel. Alex's tales of fishing and farming kept us all laughing as we moved through the dishes. He's one of those chefs that wants to feed people, he's had michelin star honours and has decided to go back to keeping things simple, beautiful and letting his amazing local ingredients shine, he's my kind of chef, the kind you want to hang out, drink cider with and watch him cook.
BBQ, tempura and ceviche mackerel and smoky dog fish cassoulet
Dinner that evening was at the Upper Deck which has been styled like a 1940s cruise liner, think Titanic meets Mad Men, total relaxed glamour with potent cocktails and gorgeous staff. They even have a menu called "Bring me food and drink" where you pay £39 (£70 including wine) and they just keep bringing you amazing food and drink over the evening, and the food is just wonderful. They have put so much thought into their menus, they offer cocktail suggestions for just about everything, you really do feel like you're on holiday and are being spoilt. The staff are also super friendly, we noticed that every one of them who appeared from the kitchen was laughing or smiling, next time you are out for dinner have a look at the faces of the guys coming out of the kitchen, not often they are smiling!
The Upper Deck bar and restaurant, ace place for espresso martinis!
I slept like a log in the massive bed and once again headed to the spa first thing for a swim and spa session before breakfast on the terrace and an amazing aromatherapy massage, they also very kindly gave me some kind of mega moisturiser for my lobster face.
I really did fall completely in love with the hotel, the food, the location and the fishing, in fact once I checked out of my room I went for another wander to the quayside and ended up off on a second fishing trip! This time however I was able to take the fish home with me. Don't worry if you think you'll be a bit crap at fishing, there were two 5yr olds out with us on the second day and even they caught plenty of fish!
Gorgeous beach huts (one sold for £170,000!)  and yep a dog on a board
I really didn't ever want to leave Christchurch, I'd definitely found my happy place, heck I'm a girl who ALWAYS wears a bit of makeup when I go out and I was so happy and comfortable there I went make-up free. I really haven't stopped raving about it since I got home, I've been eating loads more fish than before and am already planning my return.

Their Catch it, Cook it, Eat it" package is an absolute BARGAIN too, from just £125 per person per night you get:
- Two night stay in one of the inland rooms
- Dinner allowance of £30 per person on your arrival night in the new Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant
- “Catch it, Cook it, Eat it” with Alex Aitken - fishing trip & cooking your catch with our award-winning chef
- "Bring me food” tasting menu at the Upper Deck Bar & Restaurant on the second night
- Full English Breakfast each morning
- Full use of the Harbour Spa, excluding treatments
 AMAZING huh? I really want to go with a group of friends and it would be perfect for a hen weekend! GO (and take me with you!).

 I was a guest of the Christchurch Harbour Hotel who also supplied the first photograph at the top of this post

Sluttishly Savoury: Mango & Avocado Scallop Ceviche

Ceviche is AMAZING. Basically, you can make a fancy seafood dish by wielding a knife and squeezing a lime, and then forgetting about it for two hours. No cooking, no poncing about, and hardly any washing up. I repeat: ceviche is AMAZING.

If you want to know the sciencey ins and outs, you won't get them from me. Something to do with the lime juice in the marinade curing the seafood? All I know is a) it works, and b) it is delicious.

I've gone for scallops because they're on offer in my local Tesco and I'm a sucker for a scallop. Preparing them in this way is a Good Idea, because overcooking a scallop is heartbreaking yet oh-so-easy to do. There's no chance of doing that here because we're not cooking, are we? You'll end up with fat, juicy, flavoursome scallops which simply melt in your mouth. That, combined with the perfect combination of mango and avocado, makes this a heavenly summer starter or light lunch.

Mango & Avocado Scallop Ceviche (serves 6 as a starter)
You will need:
  • 160g fresh scallops, corals removed 
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • Juice and pulp of 2 medium limes
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or the equivalent of finely chopped fresh chilli)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small mango, cubed
  • 1 small avocado, cubed
  • Large handful fresh coriander, roughly torn
  • Salt and pepper 
Make it!
  1. Slice the scallops lengthwise at least once - plump scallops could require slicing up to four times so that they're thin enough to 'cook' in the lime juice. Pop them in a wide, flattish bowl so that they're evenly spread over just one layer.
  2. Add the red onion, lime juice and pulp, ginger, chilli and olive oil, stir thoroughly, then cover with clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for at least two hours (overnight is perfectly fine, if you're being startlingly organised).
  3. Once the ceviche has done its sooking up of flavours, add the mango, avocado, coriander and salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently so as not to bruise the soft fruits.
  4. Serve each portion on a scallop shell* (Martha gave me the idea!) if that's your sort of thing, and indeed if you're the kind of person who fills their pockets with shells every time they go to the beach (me). I won't cry if you decide to just go for a plate or bowl, but I will think less of you.
  5. Garnish with a little more coriander. Sit back and watch your guests gasp in awe at your pretty scallop shells. 
  • This ceviche also tastes awesome served on Little Gem lettuce leaf - get everyone to dig in and help themselves!
  • I love having hot potatoes with cold food - if you feel the same, may I suggest some fried potatoes with a little chorizo stirred through?
  • Check out Sara's ceviche recipe for a salmony take on it. 

Cardboard Safari

 I can understand why some people think the whole trophy head thing is a bit macabre, but I'm a fan of them in the right setting. In the dining room of a Baronial castle in the Highlands of Scotland, it seems fitting, in a three-bed semi in suburbia, it's just not. If you don't happen to live in a gothic mansion or a hunting lodge (I don't suppose many of us do) you can still decorate your wall with the mementos of hunting. If you don't mind hunting cardboard animals. Actually, you don't even have to stalk the prey yourself, Cardboard Safari have done that for you, too.

It you prefer your animals local, I'm sure you'll love the stag's head at the top of the page. His name's Bucky and he looks like quite a proud fellow. I rather like this elephant head, he looks like a friendly chap (and completely unfazed at having run head-first into your living room wall), he's just gently surveilling the room from his vantage point Be warned, though, if you get up to any shenanigans in his presence he'll remember then forever. Elephants have notoriously good memories, you know.

This is Fred. I'm a bit concerned that I might start hanging things on his antlers given half a chance, although, on a positive note, I'd never have to untangle a necklace again! If a moose like Fred isn't doing anything for you, why not opt for a bison or a longhorn instead? All of these heads start at £14.99 for a small one (ranging through to £49.99 for one that's 60cm wide) from Lazybone UK. They're packaged flat, so even though you don't get to hunt them yourself, you'll get a bit of challenge from slotting them together properly, which is probably worth a trophy in itself.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Speedy Suppers: Easy Baked Sea Bass with Couscous

I have once again fallen in love with couscous, it's ready in ten minutes flat and can be pimped up with whatever flavours you fancy, have it cold like a salad or hot like Elizabeth's brilliant roasted vegetable couscous. If you are not a fan of sea bass then use whatever fish takes your fancy, king prawns would also be brilliant cooked like this and I went all vegan for a fortnight and had it topped with roasted marinated tempeh.

Baked Sea Bass with Couscous (serves 1)
You will need:
  • 1 sea bass fillet
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • fresh herbs (whatever you fancy, I used fennel and chives)
  • salt and pepper
  • 25ml white wine (or water if you prefer)
For the couscous
  • 1 mug of dried couscous
  • 1 heaped tsp powdered stock (veg or chicken)
  • boiling water
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 5 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • handful fresh herbs (mint, parsley, fennel,dill, chives, chervil all work really well)

Make it!
  1. Preheat your oven to its highest setting (around 235C/455F/Gas Mark 8). Put your couscous in a bowl and stir through the powdered stock. Your couscous will have instructions of how much boiling water to use but I just pour enough to cover by about 1cm, that basically works for me every time regardless of how much couscous I use. Stir and cover with a tight fitting plate and leave for at least 10 minutes. 
  2. Rinse and pat dry your fish and lie on a big sheet of tin foil. Season then lay over the herbs and lemon. Fold the tinfoil around the fish to make a pocket at the top that you can pour the wine in then seal so no steam can escape, put on a roasting tray and bake for 12 minutes. Remove fish from the oven and leave to rest whilst you stir the herbs, onion and tomatoes through the couscous. 
  3. Pile onto a plate then pour over the juices from the baked fish, finally top with the sea bass and scatter over some more herbs. I've become addicted to the Thai chilli sauce Sriracha so I'm basically squirting this on everything.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...