The lazy girl’s spanakopita

Spanakopita 1

great blogger bake off logo

This week on Great British Bake Off is pastry week. Groan…

Now here’s my confession. I really don’t like making pastry. My impatient nature means I have never made pastry from scratch and to be honest, apart from the odd apple pie, the only proper pastry I’ve made is spanakopita – a Greek spinach and feta pie.

I’ve been making spanakopita for a few years now and although fundamentally tasty, they’ve always been a bit sub-par in my eyes. When Rosie from Cider with Rosie posted her version of spinach and feta pasties, I realised how lazy I’ve been with my technique! I was using shop-bought puff pastry, I wasn’t squeezing enough water out of the spinach and I was taking them far too early out of the oven. So having taken inspiration from Rosie, I’ve upped my game a bit for my last batch.. although I have to admit I am still using shop-bought puff pastry (I will never make pastry from scratch on the weeknight. Never.)

Spanakopita 4


INGREDIENTS

375g ready rolled puff pastry
500g spinach
200g feta
2 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
3 crushed cloves of garlic
Salt + pepper
Nutmeg
Milk

Spanakopita 2


TECHNIQUE

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C.
  2. In a saucepan on low heat, add the crushed garlic cloves to a bit of oil, then slowly add the spinach to the pan, allowing them to wilt. Flavour with salt and pepper and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg.
  3. Once wilted, place the spinach into a strainer and allow to cool slightly. Squeeze as much water as you can from the spinach.
  4. Break apart the cooled spinach into smaller pieces into a bowl and crumble the feta in. Mix with the lemon zest and the yolk of 1 egg. If you want, add a little squeeze of lemon juice for an extra tang.
  5. Cut the pastry into 6 equal squares. Divide the spinach between the squares and place in the middle of the pastry squares.
  6. Beat 1 egg and use the beaten egg mix to brush along the edges of each pastry square. Fold the pastry squares into triangles and fold the edges over to form a tight seal. No liquid should be leaking out of the pastry. You can use a fork to add indents to the edges.
  7. Brush a bit of milk over each pastry to help brown the pastries. Use a fork to make two holes in the top of the pastries.
  8. Put the pastries in the oven for 20-30 minutes (depending on your oven) until they have puffed up and brown.
  9. Enjoy with a salad on the side!

Spanakopita 3

Porcelain kimono

Kimono Outfit 1

Kimono – Tesco F&F / Vest – Topshop / Jeans – Topshop / Heels – Clarks / Necklace – Hong Kong boutique

Kimono Outfit 4

Kimono Outfit 5

Kimono Outfit 2

Kimono Outfit 3

I have to admit, these photos had been long forgotten about until I did a little scour through my camera’s SD card today and found them! The kimono was a lucky find from Tesco (I do like picking up nice clothes whilst doing my grocery shop!); light, airy and also reminds me of those antique blue porcelain plates.

My project this weekend is to start the process of a little re-design of Girl in Brogues and (eek!) moving it to a self-hosted domain! I love WordPress.com to pieces, but I’d like a bit more freedom with playing around my little piece of the internet. If anyone has any tips, please give me a shout! I need all the help I can get!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Toscakaka Swedish almond cake

Toscakaka cake (2)

great blogger bake off logo

It’s Wednesday today and that can only mean one thing in my house – Great British Bake Off! Much to the disgust of my male housemate, us female housemates are glued to the telly from 8pm like our lives depend on it. He knows that if he so much as tries to change the channel, expletives and possibly violence may be used!

I think it’s wonderful the blogging community has such a devotion to GBBO. Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed bloggers have been taking part in #thegreatbloggerbakeoff, where bloggers bake a recipe that links up with that week’s episode. I’m taking part for the first time this week, which is European cake week.

Toscakaka cake (3)

It’s very difficult picking a recipe from a whole continent of delicious bakes, but as I have a fondness for Sweden, I narrowed it down to Toscakaka cake (I haven’t been able to stop saying that word since I first found the recipe on the Telegraph website!).

The Toscakaka cake is a sweet-scented soft cake with a caramelised almond topping. There are a few variations on the internet, but the recipe I chose added an orange zest to the sponge. When I made this cake yesterday, I was trying to make a curry at the same time and managed to burn my almond flakes three times whilst trying to toast them! Lesson learnt – do not overstretch yourself in the kitchen if you are trying to only slightly burn something.

Toscakaka cake (4)

Toscakaka cake (1)

If you are interested in other bloggers taking part in #thegreatbloggerbakeoff, I know that Megan, Jaclyn and Shannon are a few of the many I have found! Leave your link if you are taking part too!

Madeleines

Madeleines (2)

Well hello!

I almost feel a bit guilty for leaving this blog for so long without even a note about why I’ve been away or whether I was even coming back! Things sort of just snowballed recently. I moved to a different city, had a change in job and have been trying to make new friends in an unfamiliar environment again (oh, the life of a doctor). And to top it all off, my mum was very worryingly admitted to hospital for a month. As she lives overseas and there being no easy way of me being able to see her, I found it difficult to concentrate on much else. Thankfully, she is out of hospital now and recovering at home with lots of rubbish TV and my dad’s awful cooking!

Although all these new changes were exciting, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit less myself and less perky the last few weeks. So I decided to combat it with a new gym membership and new baking equipment. I bought myself a very handy scallop tray from TKMaxx of all places, perfect for those little French cakes called madeleines.

Madeleines are an old favourite of mine; I have so many grainy memories of eating madeleines as a child on shopping trips with my mum. They’re softer than your average cake slice and speaking from personal experience, much easier to scoff a large quantity in a short time!

Madeleines (1)

I decided to try Michel Roux Jr’s classic madeleine recipe with a lovely hint of lemon. I was surprised how fast it was to make a batch! I’d recommend watching the video with the recipe for handy tips on how to make the perfect madeleine. I’m already thinking of possible variations on the classic! Raspberry madeleines anyone?

PS. Thank you to Charlotte, Pieternel and Mia for the Liebster Award nominations! It looks like I have a lot of questions to catch up on – my next post is for you!

Madeleines (3)

Senzala Creperie

Senzala 1

Senzala 3

Senzala 2

Senzala 4

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already Thursday! I’m halfway through my week off, but I’ve managed to use this valuable time off to catch up on sleep, try out a few new exercise regimes and do a bit of shopping. After a very sleepy morning yesterday, I decided to drag myself out of the house to buy a yoga mat, catch some rays and get a very late lunch. When I don’t have the energy to go into Central London, I like catching the bus to neaby Brixton, which if you haven’t been to, is one of the most lively, rich areas of London.

One of the best parts of Brixton is Brixton Village; I’m so.. so lucky to have it near to me. It’s a veritable smörgåsbord (love that word) of cafés, restaurants, cute little boutiques and food stalls. It’s easy to spend a lot of time wandering around in the market, just because it’s so difficult to pick between the many unique restaurants. It’s foodie heaven!

I decided in the spirit of the World Cup to try out a Brazilian creperie called Senzala, which is situated across from Honest Burgers in the market. They offer a wide selection of savoury and sweet crepes, as well as tapas, milkshakes and ice creams. The boyfriend later asked why I didn’t just go to My Old Dutch – because this restaurant is so much better than My Old Dutch, don’t even compare the two!

I chose to have the healthy light option of chocolate milkshake – a glass of 80% chocolate ice cream, 15% chocolate chunks and a very small amount of whatever else goes in a milkshake. It was beautiful. I drank all of it. I found it really difficult to pick between the crepes, but I’m glad I chose the King Prawn Cajun savoury crepe. It was the best thing I have had all week, filled with juicy prawns, peppers, onions and cheese, as well as a whole lot of cajun flavouring. I really really wanted to finish it all off, but alas, I was sort of defeated after the milkshake.

If you ever head down to Brixton and want some recommendations of which restaurants to go to, I’m definitely here to help. I’ve been to a far few and they’ve not disappointed me yet.

Senzala
Brixton Village Market
41-42 Coldharbour Lane
London SW9 8PS
senzalacreperie.co.uk

Banqueting House

Banqueting House

Banqueting House 3

Banqueting House 4

Banqueting House 2

Today as part of my week of solitary wandering (*a tiny violin plays in the distance*), I went to chow down on some much needed Malaysian home comfort food in Rasa Sayang, Chinatown, then decided to take a little visit to Banqueting House. I quite enjoy finding out about the history of the British monarchy and I’ve spent a fair bit of time wandering around a few of the Historic Royal Palaces in London, so unfortunately I was a little bit disappointed in comparison when I visited Banqueting House.

The Banqueting House is on the doorstep of Central London, just opposite Horse Guards Parade; it’s a pretty unassuming building, blending in with all the other stone buildings on Whitehall. When you enter, a video in the Undercroft tells you about how the building was built by James I for entertaining and gambling and half a century later, Charles I is famously executed on the pavement outside Banqueting House.

After the video, you can climb the stairs to enter the Banqueting Hall, which is the impressive feature of this site. It’s a large airy room, where you can lie down on bean bags and look at the famous painted ceiling by Sir Peter Paul Rubens from the 17th Century. Although the architecture and design of the hall is quite spectacular, the visit was quite bland in comparison to my other visits to palaces. There was no added information or interactive features. It was just a large, albeit grand, hall with some bean bags.

I guess if you’re interested in architecture and art, it’s worth taking a look at the Banqueting House, but at £6 for admission, I couldn’t help but feel that my trip out of the house was only made worthwhile by the Malaysian food, rather than the Banqueting Hall.

Have any of you been to Banqueting Hall before?

The Understudy

The Understudy

The Understudy Quote

I was in a bit of a reading funk a few weeks ago after starting a pretty heavy novel. You know when you are reading a book that’s not really your style but you stick with it just in case it grows on you? It just made me not want to read and want to play more Candy Crush (I have passed a lot of levels in the last month!).

I am a big fan of David Nicholls, so naturally I thought that The Understudy would be a good book to ease me back into reading. And it did help! It’s a funny, enjoyable book; a great holiday read if you don’t want to think too much on a hot beach.

Stephen C. McQueen is not a very successful actor. Despite dreams of being Cary Grant, he has only had a run of playing corpses and the title role of Sammy the Squirrel. He desperately wants to impress his ex-wife and daughter, but has never had his big break. Stephen is the understudy to Josh Harper, one of the world’s hottest film stars. But life starts to get complicated when he meets Josh’s wife Nora and hatches a plan to finally make it in showbiz.

You may be disappointed with The Understudy if you were expecting an equivalent to David Nicholls’ other cult novels. If you are looking for something emotionally akin to One Day, this is not the book. It’s not a tearjerker and I didn’t find it as funny as the awkwardness of Starter for Ten. It’s the equivalent of a Katherine Heigl chick flick on paper – enough fun giggly bits, but you’re not going to be thinking about it afterwards.

Rating: 3.5/5

Next up: The Violet Hour by Katherine Hill

Estée Lauder Clear Difference BB creme

Estee Lauder BB cream

Estee Lauder BB cream 2

The weekend is here! It’s Friday evening, it’s hot outside and the air (literally) smells like heat and sweat. This sort of weather makes me want to go completely make-up free, tilt my head towards the sun and try to unsuccessfully burn my face into some sort of tan. So in completely off-topic fashion, I’m actually going to share a new BB cream I bought!

I’ve never tried BB cream before (another reason why I am not a beauty blogger). I went on the hunt for it because I was sick of using my tinted moisturiser which was exacerbating my acne, and then not using cover-up and have my acne on show.

Estée Lauder BB creme claims to do quite a lot – conceal, hydrate, protect etc. (I tend to gloss over these bits!). When I visited the Estée Lauder counter, the lovely lady at the counter (they always have such perfect make up on) showed me three different BB creams they offer at the moment. It felt sort of like Goldilocks and the three bears – I didn’t want anything too heavy, but wanted it to conceal and possibly help the spot problem. I went away with the Clear difference BB creme.

Now I’m pretty sure you’re meant to blend this with a brush, but I’m far too lazy and hasty and I use my hands. The creme blends in really well and conceals pretty well. It’s not as concealing as foundation, but it does the trick if you don’t want people to notice that really red spot on your chin. When you first put it on, it does feel a little bit creamy and heavy (probably due to the added SPF 35), but after a few minutes, you barely notice it’s there. And despite the Estée Lauder lady saying it doesn’t last very long, I found it lasted a whole day out – pretty good!

In terms of my acne, it hasn’t been as disastrous as other products. Maybe just a spot or two extra, but I’ll live. Although this creme was a bit more expensive than I would usually go for at £34, I hope that from what I’ve seen so far that it’s a worthwhile investment!

Do any of you use BB creams? Any recommendations?