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Thursday 31 October 2013

Top Ten Halloween Recipes

Double, double, toil and trouble... Yup, it's that time again! Halloween is the perfect excuse to gorge yourself on way too many sweets, dress in your best costumes, spend all your money on spooky accessories and, of course, eat and drink as much Halloween-themed food and cocktails as possible! 

Glow-in-the-dark ghost cakes are an absolute must this Halloween. Laura B's clever cakes have left us wanting all of our food to glow in the dark! We'll start with these gorgeous ghosties and see how it goes from there, though. Laura H's Halloween cake is a chocolate orange, spiderwebby treat with a fun chequerboard design lurking inside. 

If cakes are a bit tricky to transport (splattered-on-the-inside-of-a-box cakes are scary for the wrong reasons), try these brilliant bat biscuits instead.

If you dare, try serving some Vodka Nightmare cocktails tonight. It's a vodka and milk cocktail that you drink through a fiery chilli; it's a chilling, thrilling mixture of sensations that you have experience at least once. For the more feint-hearted, there's the Dra-Kahlua, a black-as-night cocktail with the flavour of chocolate orange. While we're summoning the spirits, The Coffin Liner is a devilish cocktail complete with wooden stake and heart. And make sure you try our boozy eyeball jellies.

Not into the whole Halloween spectacle? We're got some less overtly sinister snacks that you can enjoy without buying into the tacky plastic-skeletonishness of the day. Our spiced treacle carrot cake is broodingly dark, but not obviously eerie (and it's downright delicious). Have you tried caranutter pie yet? If this delight still awaits you, now it the time to submit to the salty-sweet wonder that is peanut butter and caramel (spider decorations are optional!)

Now for the age-old conundrum: what do you do with all of your leftover pumpkin? This pumpkin, orange and fig cake uses grated raw pumpkin and is and ideal use for the innards of your giant carved lantern. Pumpkin doughnut-muffins are a seriously great pumpkin-y snack. If you've gone pumpkin crazy, check out our top ten pumpkin recipes.

As well as being All Hallow's Eves, 31st October is also the start of the Mexican Dia de Muertos celebrations, so you could always mark the occasion with some Day of the Dead macarons. At sunset tonight, the Gaelic Samhain festivities begin. This means that you'd be completely justified in pigging out on Cranachan and winter spice shortbread.

Want more recipe inspiration? Check out the rest of our top ten recipe compilations.

Cocktail Hour: The Coffin Liner

Snakes and Cocktails and Owls, Oh My!
This is Halloween! This is Halloween! Halloween, Halloween!

I tend to spend the month before Halloween thinking up amazing costume ideas and then hoping fervently that one of my friends actually throws a fancy dress party. So far my favourites are:
  • An Evil Victorian Pie Seller (with a tray of dubious pies)
  • The Statue of Liberty from the end of Ghostbusters 2 (complete with mini Ghostbusters on my crown and Jackie Wilson playing on repeat)
  • Head Swapping Princess Mombi! The fabulous villain from Return to Oz (I really want to be a Wheeler as they're terrifying but even I can't spend all night roller skating on all fours)

Alas there have been no costumed invites this year, which is probably a good thing as most of these costumes would take an age to create. But I can still celebrate with a drink or two and this glamourous cocktail not only looks like something an undead Marie Antoinette might enjoy but it's got a good kick that'll hopefully make me more amenable to those snot filled bratty Trick or Treaters.

The Coffin Liner
You will need:
  • 50ml Chambord Liqueur
  • 50ml Scotch Whisky (I used Loch Fyne Blended Whisky)
  • 15ml Elderflower Cordial
  • 25ml Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Heart shaped sweet (I used a Haribo, and ate all the leftovers, sorry Trick or Treaters)
  • Cocktail stick or mini staking device of your choice (could be an umbrella, I won't judge)
Make It!
  1. Shake the Chambord, whisky, cordial and orange juice over ice.
  2. Strain into a martini glass.
  3. Drop the heart shaped sweet into the glass and give your guests each a staking device to rid their drink of EVIL! (i.e. eat the sweetie.)
Happy Halloween!

Let Her Eat Cake: Halloween Chequerboard Cake

Happy Halloween DS-ers! Whilst I'm sure many of you will be rushing about this evening, eating as many jelly spider / fang / ghost / eyeball shaped sweets as possible, let us remember that there is always room for CAKE. In honour of the day, we've embraced the classic combination of orange and black to create a chocolate, orange and whiskey chequerboard cake that'll have party guests oooooohing and arrrrrghing (sorry, sorry) and trying to eat a second slice through their latex zombie masks.

I used a splash of bourbon in here for a good, warming kick but you can replace with whatever liqueur or spirit you fancy, or indeed with more orange juice for a kiddie friendly version.

Halloween Chequerboard Cake
You will need:
For the orange batter:
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp orange food colouring (optional, but it'll be much more dramatic!)
For the chocolate batter:
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2 squares dark chocolate, grated
For the ganache topping:
  • 175g good-quality dark chocolate
  • 200ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp whiskey (or rum, or cointreau, or ALL)
Make it!
The cakes:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas mark 5. Grease and line two 20cm baking tins. 
  2. Place the butter and sugar for both cakes in a bowl and cream together until light and fluffy. 
  3. In a separate bowl, beat all of the eggs. 
  4. Add into the butter and sugar mixture a quarter at a time, with a tablespoon of flour each time to stop the batter from curdling. 
  5. Spoon half of the mixture into a separate bowl, and set aside. 
  6. In one bowl of batter, sift in the self-raising flour and baking powder and fold in gently. Add the orange zest, half the juice and the orange food colouring and stir until combined. 
  7. In the other bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa, folding in gently. 
  8. Stir in the grated chocolate. 
  9. Take two piping bags, and fill one with the orange batter and one with the chocolate batter. (Placing them in a tall glass and folding the tops over the rim helps with this!)
  10. Carefully pipe a ring of orange batter on the outside of one tin, followed by a ring of chocolate. Continue alternately until there are six rings, the middle one being chocolate. 
  11. Repeat with the other tin, beginning the other way around (e.g. chocolate first, orange last). 
  12. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and a skewer comes out clean. 
  13. Cool in the tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
The ganache:
  1. Roughly chop the chocolate into small shards and place in a bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, gently heat the cream until it is hot, but not boiling. 
  3. Pour the cream over the chocolate, stirring quickly until all of the chocolate has dissolved. 
  4. Stir in the liqueur or whiskey to taste. 
  5. Cover and set aside somewhere cool for half an hour or so to set slightly. 
  6. When it is ready to use, spread the underside of one of the cakes with ganache, then place the other layer on top. Cover the top and sides with the rest of the ganache, using a palette knife to get a smooth finish. 
  7. Decorate however you fancy! I did a spiderweb pattern on mine by mixing 50g icing sugar with around 1 tbsp of water (add it a little at a time) until it reached the right consistency, then piped on using a piping bag. 

Design Porn: Marie Macon and Anne-Laure Lesquoy

Happy Halloween ... or not. I plan on hiding in the dark from avid treat or treaters (while obviously playing around with Laura B's fab glow-in-the-dark ghost cupcakes). I may, however, get in the Halloween spirit enough to don this rather fabulous skeleton silver brooch. Each of those knee bones connected to thigh bones has been embroidered by French design duo Marie Macon and Anne-Laure Lesquoy. The Conran Shop are stocking a selection of their gorgeous brooches including this exquisite corpse, which is available for £40.

If you think embroidery equals cutesy teacups and love hearts, think again. There's a heavy dose of the macabre running through their designs, like this dripping knife blood brooch, priced at £30.

Drugs aren't fashionable, kids. Oh wait - with Coco Fennell x Karen Mabon's wonderful pill popper dress, and now Macon and Lesquoy's drugs brooch set, I have to admit it looks like the drugs do work. In fabric and thread form at least. This set is also £40.

For style that teeters on the surreal side, or at least offers a smattering of Lady Gaga madness, you need this lobster brooch somewhere about your person. It would look ridiculously chic on a LBD (herein known as a Lobster Brooch Dress). Again, it's £40.

Oh look, they do more winsome designs too. Unless this is a raven who has torn out someone's heart and is about to post it to dead bod's lover? It's called the love letter brooch set so I'm presuming the answer to this question is no. There's hopefully a happier ending to Macon and Lesquoy's story.

I'll end with their owl nighttime brooch set, so appropriate for this night of good vs evil. To some, owls are the cutest creatures - the perfect talisman for this spookiest of evenings. But, to others, they're the devil in bird form (remember, The Owls Are Not What They Seem). At £80 the price is certainly the cruelest of the lot but - like all of Macon and Lesquoy's designs - it would look really rather good all year round, and not just for Halloween.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Captivating Capes

Adding a cape to an outfit instead of a coat is like wrapping yourself in snuggly, instant glamour. Capes either brilliantly dramatic and will make you want to swish about all over the place pretending you're a superhero, or they'll make you look much more sophisticated than you really are. This camel cape from Paisie falls into the latter camp. And it's just £35 in the sale.

I'm not really a Jack Wills fan, it's all a little bit sensible for my liking. But this pure wool cape is an exception to my very fussy rules. It's damn expensive at £199 from ASOS, but it's rather lovely indeed. I need a dog and a countryside pub immediately.

If you fancy playing dress up, this vintage 1950s cape could be the answer. This is the perfect Halloween dress up for lazy people - it looks like you've made an effort when you haven't at all an you're just wearing your normal clothes. It's made from beautiful Russian wool and it's in a size 12. Someone lend me £115 please? I'll let you have a swish about in my brilliant new cape.

I wasn't expecting to find a gorgeous tweed cape in Dorothy Perkins, and yet this one is quite splendid. It's £65 so the wool isn't going to stay looking good for long (in fact, it's only 46% wool), but if you fancy swishing about until spring next year, it's a good option that will look smart with everything you own.

Oooh, the most beautiful (and cheapest) cape of the bunch might be hiding in H&M! Usually the only thing hiding in H&M is me. Under a pile of coats. Away from crazed bargain shoppers who don't put things back on the rails in an orderly fashion. I might spend £34.99 and order this gorgeous black cape coat online instead. It needs a hat, a magnifying glass and a newspaper to hide behind.

Tall Girl Treat: Woolly, Woolly Awesome

I'm rubbish at cold weather: every year it takes me by surprise and every year I end up shivering due to being the least gifted layerer since that guy in every superhero film ever who just walks around with his shirt off.

I was bemoaning that fact earlier this week when Long Tall Sally sent me the Nordic cardigan from their winter collection that I had completely forgotten I'd asked to try on. HOORAY, TERRIBLE MEMORY!

Cardigans, and indeed undoable knitwear of any kind, are terrific. You can put them over anything rather than having to worry whether they will "work" with your outfit, like a jumper, or a knitted personal assistant. 

Moreover, I'm a sucker for any sort of pattern that could be classed as Fair Isle, nordic, or "somebody probably just vomited over this but let's sell it anyway."  I love this one. It's also incredibly soft and the sleeves obscure most of my hands, which is a total joy when you are used to constantly tugging on sleeves in a hope that you'll stretch the fabric.

I enjoyed it so much that I immediately went into Narnia* and took photos in it. Please to admire my best street style blogger poses.

*The slightly Mad Men-esque loos at work where really you wouldn't be surprised to find a faun as long as it was female and thus adhering to the loo code. 
 You purse your lips that much, right? Or has that bypassed duck and gone straight to heron. Moving on.

Historically, great places for cardigans for tall girls have been the following:
  • Monsoon - I still yearn for those angora wraps with silk ribbons c. 2005
  • H&M - always excellent for jersey basics
  • East - aka, Mum shop. Totally bought a teal long one after my mum lent me hers one Christmas

Completely love the patterns on these East ones, like a wonderfully evocative cross between a forest and a snow shaker. (Which reminds me - TANGENT - remember the gorgeous ASOS forest dress? They've brought out a new purple and sleeveless versions.)

Back to the knitwear. You can get them in navy or black and they cost £85. That is a significant outlay for a cardigan, so do what I did and casually stalk the sales until you find one.

 Seriously, I don't know why this girl is looking so cross when she is wearing The Best Cardigan In The World™. I've been quietly stalking this one for ages, despite the fact one of my friends asked me if I already owned three (negative! Those are other items).

I don't believe in elbow patches, but I don't mind these. That is how much I enjoy this cardigan. It's £29.99 from H&M.
Monsoon's cardigans are all utterly dreadful this season, but their knitted dresses are as excellent as ever. I shrunk mine in the wash about two years ago and have refused to stop wearing it, they're that good. This Eva one is £59 and slightly flared so it doesn't do the dreaded wet suit effect on your hips which is nobody's friend.

This is positively discreet by my standards, but I couldn't resist crowbarring this in at the end. This lovely waterfall jacket from Next is £38 and the perfect compromise between warmth, cardigans and patterns. Fit.

Stichin' Kitchen Accessories

Celebrations are in order people, after 3 long months of waiting my kitchen ceiling has finally been fixed! Since July there has been a dirty great big hole decorating one half of the ceiling when it had the temerity to go and fall down. One of the best things about renting is when stuff goes wrong, somebody else comes and fixes it (which I love). One of the worst things is when they don't. For. Three. Bleeding. Months.

But that's all water under the plasterboard bridge because I can now cook again without fear of lumps of concrete dropping into the goulash! And I'm after some gorgeous tidbits to re-christen my favourite room in the flat. Like this eye wateringly bright tea towel from Zara Home which is covered in books! In fact Zara Home is groaning under the weight of gorgeous tea towels at the moment like this way-too-nice-to-actually-use Kimono pair.

All of Zara's tea towels are £9.99 or less for two so that's one for mopping up messes and one for framing?

Even though I don't technically own my kitchen it's still My Kitchen in every sense of the word, but if anyone forgets that I can just point them at my name spelt out in Oliver Bonas' Alphabet tea towels, possibly followed by a sassy finger click. They're £7.50 each.

I love orange, problem is it looks completely ghastly on me so I compensate by buying lots of orange knickknacks. And now I can add this incredibly bright and (more importantly) educational tea towel from Pineapple Retro for £8.00.

Sticking with the bright colours can I just say how much I love these lickable candy striped oven gloves from Ben De Lisi? They're £12.00 from Debenhams.

Stylish aprons are essential kitchen wear, especially if you're hosting a dinner party and you a) don't want to get spaghetti sauce all over your lovely frock and b) don't want to wear that novelty naked torso apron your boyfriend got for barbecuing. Anthropologie has an amazing selection (Siany featured this gorgeous poodle one a few weeks ago) but my favourite this adorably named Tea and Crumpets one, it's £28.00 and probably the closest I can get to wearing orange!

I have a friend with an almost unhealthy love of all stag themed things (to the point her other half has banned any further stag shaped anything entering the house) so I'm sure she would adore this Sophie Allport Stag apron as a sneaky Christmas present, he can't ban it if it's a gift right? It's £14.00 from John Lewis.

We love a bit of Rory Dobner here at Sluttery HQ and his selection of monochrome printed napkins are no exception. They are all pretty amazing but this Smokey Fish is by far the best, look at his little french fishy frown! They're £8.50 each from Graham and Green, so these may be for extra special occasions only.

Every kitchen has room for a little art and all the better if that art imparts some sort of food based wisdom like this tasty Crawfish print from Woah There Pickle, it's £15.00 from their Etsy store and would complement the Holy Trinity print I already have perfectly.

Baking for Beginners: Glow-in-the-Dark Ghost Cakes

Who you gonna call? Cakebusters! 

I am extraordinarily proud of these adorable little dudes. In fact, when I told a friend today that they were perhaps the pinnacle of my baking life, he responded by telling me they were the pinnacle of not only my baking life, but my ENTIRE life. I don't know where to go from here. I MADE GLOW-IN-THE-DARK GHOST CAKES!

A minor technicality, these do not glow in the dark of their own accord. They need a blacklight to activate the quinine in the icing (just like our glow in the dark gin jelly). But Glow-in-the-Blacklight Ghost Cakes just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? And I'd have to poison you to make them glow by themselves. Don't make me poison you. Just get your hands on a blacklight, and get glowing!

Glow-in-the-Dark Ghost Cakes (makes 12 large or 24 small cupcakes)
You will need:
  • 12 cupcakes, or 24 fairy cakes, baked and cooled (Reader, I bought mine ready-made and I have no shame. We have approx. 2,459 cupcake recipes* to choose from, if you're less of a lazy beastie than me)
    Actual number may vary, but probably only slightly.
  • 300g unsalted butter, brought to room temperature
  • Around 500g icing sugar, although the exact quantity is all a bit experimental. Have plenty on hand, is what I'm saying!
  • 4 tbsp tonic water - this is the magic that makes your ghosts glow
Props and equipment
  • Googly eyes x 24 or 48, depending on your number of cakes (buy them at Hobbycraft, Paperchase or larger supermarkets. You can even get edible ones! Or just use chocolate chips for eyes)
  • A blacklight - I used a UV torch. Maplin is a good bet!
  • Piping bag and a large round nozzle
Make it!
    Just two glowing ghosties, hanging out
  1. Arrange your cupcakes somewhere spacious and flat. This is now your glow-in-the-dark ghost factory.
  2. Beat the butter, 300g of the icing sugar, and the tonic water until smooth. 
  3. Start adding more icing sugar, bit by bit, and whisking it in until you have a goodly thick buttercream icing that can hold a peak. If you think all that icing sugar is making the icing a bit too sweet for your tastes, substitute cornflour for this step.
  4. It's a good idea at this point to test the glowingness of your icing, by switching off the lights and shining your UV light on it. Add a little more tonic if you're not happy with the glow to non-glow ratio.
  5. Fill your piping bag with icing, and pipe a ghost shape atop each cupcake. It might take a bit of practice; remember you can dump any failed icing attempts back in the bowl and reuse the cupcake base for a second try. I found it best to start in the centre and swirl around and up three times, leaving a half-centimetre gap around the edge to allow for spreadage. 
  6. Add two googly eyes to each cake. PLEASE remember to ask people to remove them before chowing down. Sometimes people can be very silly.
  7. Turn off the lights. Turn on your blacklight and ta-da - they glow!  
And when the lights go up... you wouldn't suspect a thing
Happy Hallowe'en, everyone!

Tuesday 29 October 2013

The Best Book Subscriptions

We've been massive bookworms recently and the storm over the weekend gave us all a brilliant excuse to stay inside and lose ourselves in our latest reads. Now, you might have spent all of your money on excellent magazine subscription but just in case you've got some pennies left after yesterday, here's a round up of the best book subscriptions in the UK.

Mr B's Reading Year.
We're a little in love with Mr B. How ace does their book spa sound? We've been yearning after a Mr B's Reading Year subscription for ages. It might have something to do with the 90s magazine style quiz that you have to complete before they start sending you books (most of Team DS would fill out that form just for fun, and need extra paper for our answers). You get 11 carefully-selected paperbacks for £135 a year.

The Willoughby Book Club
The best thing about Willoughby is that you get lots of options. Cookbooks, classics, contemporary fiction, books for kids (did anyone else have the Chip book club at school? That was the best.) These make the perfect gift. Prices vary depending on which subscription service you go for, but you can choose 3, 6 or 12 month stints with the cheapest options costing around £30.

If those gorgeous grey covers aren't enough to entice you, their book selections should be. I'll always have a soft spot for Persephone. They print neglected fiction and non fiction from 20th century writers - nearly all of them women and then wrap them in beautiful covers and give you a free bookmark with each book. That's a publishing venture that I can get behind. Prices are £60 for six months and £120 for 12.

Daunt Books
If there was a mainstream bookshop we'd trust to pick out our books, it would be Daunt. As well as having kids subcription options, they've also got choices between hardback and paperback. And if you're a bit of a non-fiction buff, they've got an option for that. No quiz option, sadly - you email to tell them your preferences. The mixed options look the most fun - 12 paperbacks are £165.

The Folio Society
Not strictly a 'books in the post' membership (because hello bankruptcy) but if you have a Folio Society habit, there are a whole bunch of perks to the membership (it's free if you've spent £120 on Folio books). You get discounts on future books, personal recommendations, a members magazine and exclusive events. We really really want to go to those events.

Have we missed any brilliant book subscriptions? Tell us in the comments!

It's a Wrap: Terrific Turbans

If you've met me in person over the last year, chances are I'd have been wearing a turban. Or, if not a turban, some kind of a twisted scarf headband device. Though I don't know what brought about my turban obsession - perhaps too long over Christmas looking at glamorous vintage ladies on the internet - I'm not alone. Judging by the amount of turbans, or turban-style headbands in the shops at the moment, it's a look that's continuing to grow in popularity. If you're feeling unsure about wearing your first turban, just take a look at this gallery of stylish turban wearers, from all decades for some inspiration.

What I love about my turban is that it instantly makes the dullest outfit look that bit more exciting. Starting off gently, this velvet pailette headband would bring the party element to an otherwise plain outfit. It's £28 from Anthropologie, and is available in three different colours.

Or, for a look that takes more inspiration from the glamour of Studio 54 than Gatsby (both great eras to study for turban style), Anthropologie are also selling this shimmery, sparkly wire-winged velvet turban for £16.

Emin and Paul make turban-style hairbands in a huge range of colours and patterns. This dotty turban is perfect for everyday wear and is £20.

If you want to go a little fancier with your fabric, Emin and Paul can help with that too. I love the Ikat meets digital pattern used for their red floral turban, again £20.

Even your plain everyday headband - like this block stripe headband from Topshop  - seems to have a little twist in it at the moment. At only £6, this like the gateway drug for full-on turban wearing.

Finally, a proper turban! ASOS's velvet turban will keep you toasty and stylish during winter escapades (though River Island's black headband gives you the look in an easy-to-wear hairband). If you wanted to go all out for impact you could add a glittering brooch to the front of the turban. And seeing as the turban is only £12, you can probably afford to buy that new bit of sparkle. Or...

... you could get the look ready-made in this blue velvet feather turban from River Island. I'd be tempted to cut off the feathers (too hen-do for my liking) but, for £12, it's probably the cheapest way possible to feel ridiculously glamorous all through winter.
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