The Sunday write-up #2

Roush Birthday

1. Yesterday was the boyfriend’s birthday! I’ve never known anyone to be more of a child at heart. We celebrated his birthday by going to a soft play area with his baby cousins (it was more the children were accompanying us, rather than us accompanying them!). It was incredibly fun going down the slides and jumping in the ball pits. We then went back to his aunt’s house to blow out the candles on the Radio 1 cake I made him.. although he was slightly miffed at how round my miniature model of him was!

2. I was a bit sniffly and a bit groany at the start of the week. Colds are not fun, but unfortunately, it is an occupational hazard.

3. I’ve been watching: Glue on E4. Attracted by the Alt-J ad soundtrack, I was worried this was going to be a bit like Skins (there’s only so many teenage drug-fuelled benders you can watch before it gets boring), but I do like how sinister they’ve made the countryside. Definitely puts a spin on farmers!

4. This week I became qualified in Advanced Life Support! It was a difficult two day course (doing chest compressions all day can tire you out!), but luckily I passed the exams at the end.

5. Today I’m heading off to a spa in Kent with the boyfriend as a bit of grown-up birthday treat for us both – I’m looking forward to a massage and facial!

The Sunday write-up #1

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake

I’ve realised I don’t really talk much about my day-to-day life on this blog. It is a lifestyle blog in that I do post a lot about baking, clothes and restaurants, but let’s get real – I’m a young doctor living outside of London – those are rare moments in the week! Here’s what really went down this past week:

1. I baked my housemate a sweet + salty chocolate cake straight out of a Hummingbird Bakery cookbook for her birthday. After taking a whole evening to make, we could only manage one sliver each, so we took the rest into work for our colleagues! It was so, so rich.

2. I went to see The Saturdays on Friday night at Wembley Arena! It was all sparkly costumes, male dancers in firemen costumes and belting out “THIS.. IS.. WHERE.. MY.. HEART.. TAKES OVERRR!” I also managed to get a fair bit of celeb-spotting done – Marvin Humes, Aston Merrygold, Jade from Little Mix and umm.. Vince Kidd?!

3. I spent yesterday lounging around my friend’s new deluxe house in South London – I love catching up on all the gossip with some of my second family, and it turns out that her landlord is quite a well-known period drama actor! Oooh, quite the namedrop!

4. I’ve been watching: Cilla on ITV. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking forward to this three-part drama. 50s rock ‘n roll + Sheridan Smith + Aneurin Barnard = TV magic. I’m just waiting for ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’!

5. I’ve been debating between renewing my gym membership or just finding a yoga studio to join. The treadmill and I are not friends and I have really been enjoying the unexpected challenges of yoga classes. Maybe another try of Davina’s workout DVDs?

What have you all been up to this week?

New look!

NewBlog

Hi everyone! I’m really really happy to introduce the new Girl in Brogues blog!

I’ve been wanting to make a few changes to the blog for a while, but felt a little limited over on WordPress.com; so I decided to make the big move over to my own self-hosted domain. Despite a few initial glitches and a bit of stress moving my content over, I’m so proud to introduce this new look blog. Here’s what’s changed:

1. Girlinbrogues.com is now the only way to access my blog and I’m waving goodbye to my WordPress.com account – but don’t worry, I’m migrating all my WordPress followers to this website. If you’re an email subscriber, you do need to subscribe again though!

2. After a few weeks of browsing through various themes from web developers, I finally settled on this theme from Light Morango – it’s far lighter and airier and I like to think a little easier on the eyes! She has a lot of great themes and the installation was so easy – a definite recommend from me.

3. A new header, which is still pretty simple but I feel reflects the personality of this blog a lot better than the last one.

4. And finally, I’ve added the Disqus comment system! Hopefully it’s far less faff for everyone to comment now!

I’d love to hear what you all think of it – please follow the new blog here on Bloglovin!

The lazy girl’s spanakopita

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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.)

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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

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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!

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Porcelain kimono

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

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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! It was a pretty muggy day, and the boyfriend and I were heading off to visit his younger cousins for a relaxing hang-out day – cycling in the park, playing basketball in the garden and having an impromptu barbecue. 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

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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.

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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.

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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!

Bistrotters

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Two months ago, I started writing about my little adventure to Paris for my birthday. A long break later, and I still haven’t written about the highlight of my trip, a cosy yet polished restaurant called Bistrotters.

It’s a shame that my memories are a little faded now and the photos are a little amateur; Bistrotters was carefully hunted by the boyfriend after being sold on Tripadvisor as one of the best new restaurants in Paris. Because the restaurant is the size of a small shopfront, you can’t just walk in; a table has to be booked weeks in advance and then you have to confirm your reservation 48 hours in advance. Sounds a bit over the top, but in a way, it made the anticipation a little more special!

When we arrived, we were greeted by a friendly face from the website. François, the owner, was the perfect host; polite, charming and made all the guests feel like VIPs. He even surprised us with an additional taster dish of delicious minty samosas!

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For starters, I had the salmon terrine, which was a really refreshing combination of smoked salmon, goat’s cheese and.. wait for it.. mango! Totally unexpected, but worked so well. The colourful sweet potato crisps that were scattered across the plate also made this dish my favourite of the night. The boyfriend had the Bistrotters foie gras, which he assured me was excellent as well.

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For our mains, I had the squid risotto, which was a small, rich portion balanced out by the crunch from the fish and noodles. There was possibly an unnecessary side of butter/cream(?), as the risotto was already quite heavy with cream. I feel the the boyfriend had the better bargain of the night with his lamb shank – so delicate, it fell apart so easily and went well with the ratatouille beneath.

I have to say that at this point of the meal, I was already blown away by Bistrotters and crossing my fingers for a sister restaurant in London. But then François left us with one more surprise..

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What a lovely restaurant! Moist chocolate fondant with a side of Parisian charm. What more do I need to say?

Bistrotters
9 Rue Decrès
75014 Paris
France
bistrotters.com

Liebster Award

LiebsterAward

I feel incredibly grateful when I see comments on my blog, especially when it means I get to know other bloggers a bit better! I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by 3 lovely ladies – Mia, Pieternel and Charlotte. This award is all about getting to know other bloggers and it’s been great reading a little more about these ladies. Now it’s time to pay it forward!

Since I was given 3 sets of different questions, I’ve decided to combine them all below! I bloody love questionnaires.

1. When did you start your blog?
I started my blog one Christmas after being given some lovely pearl earrings by the boyfriend. I can’t lie, I wanted to show them off, so I naturally started a blog!

2. Why did you start blogging?
Just to show off the earrings. No, actually I really like taking photographs, visiting new restaurants and sights and I really wanted to document it somewhere. It’s a good break away from practicing medicine.

3. What is your favourite blog (over 2000 followers)?
Park & Cube – she has a great sense of humour and her photography is beyond this world!

4. What is your favourite blog (under 2000 followers)?
This was incredibly difficult to pick, but Take Courage is a beautifully edited blog – I can’t believe she has less than 2000 followers!

5. Who/what is your biggest inspiration?
Audrey Hepburn.

6. What was the last photograph you took?
Last photo I took was silly selfie to send to the boyfriend!

7. Fave instagram at the moment?
thedogist – amazing collection of dogs daily!

8. What is your favourite fragrance?
I don’t really wear fragrance. So I only have one very old Boss Orange perfume which I quite like!

9. What is your favourite make up brand?
I think recently I’ve been depending more and more on high-end brands like Clinique and Estee Lauder. But my ultimate beauty product is YSL Touche Eclat – I couldn’t live without it!

10. Your favourite film?
Hmm. Hard one! This isn’t strictly a film, but I can quote the BBC Pride & Prejudice adaptation!

11. Do you prefer summer or winter?
British summer!

12. Do you prefer pastels or brights for your nails?
Generally pastels, or even dark colours!

13. Do you have any piercings?
Just earrings.

14. What is your favourite high street shop?
Zara.

15. Favourite music artist?
Sooo so hard. Currently I’m listening to a lot of Alt-J, but the Smiths probably. And Spice Girls of course, ha!

16. Nicest country/city/destination you have ever visited?
Bali.

17. If you could sum yourself in 3 words, what would you be?
Sweet-toothed affable doctor!

18. What is the saying you would like to live your life by?
The day before my final exams my mum gave me this quote from Winnie the Pooh – “Promise me you will always remember that you are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

19. If you had to choose, what would be your favourite word?
Ooh not sure.. lots of medical words are quite fun! Let’s go for discombobulation.

20. If you could change one thing (about anything), what would it be?
I’d want everyone in the world to be a little bit less selfish.

21. What is the book which has had the most impact on your life?
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.

22. What is your favourite kind of cake?
Pureee chocolate!

23. Are you an early riser or a night owl?
Early riser.

24. If you weren’t alive now, which era would you most like to be alive in?
The 50s.

25. What would be your perfect day?
Pancakes for breakfast, wandering around a National Trust site then karaoke in the evening!

26. What is your biggest dream?
It used to be to become a doctor, but now it’s just to be impossibly happy the rest of my life!

27. Do you prefer a red, nude or pink lip?
Red.

28. What’s your favourite way of removing makeup?
Water and cleanser!

29. Most important wardrobe staple?
Oh man, a good basic tee!

30. Best thing you ever bought?
My Nikon D3000.

I nominate just 5 people for the Liebster award – Georgie, Jane, Sharon, Lisa and Flick – feel free to answer the questions below!

1. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
2. If you were in a police movie, who would be your crime-fighting partner?
3. What are your favourite flowers?
4. What is your favourite catchphrase?
5. Pick a TV programme – Who Do You Think You Are?, Eastenders or Broadchurch?
6. Describe your perfect evening gown.
7. What are you better at, fibbing or breaking bad news?
8. You have to pick an outrageous outfit to wear for Halloween – what would it be?
9. Pick another blogger and tell us why you love them.
10. What’s your breakfast cereal?
11. Who’s your favourite TV chef?

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!

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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!

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Bonjour, Paris! — Day 1

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Bonjour mes amis!

It has been too long! I hope you haven’t missed me. To make up for my absence, I’m compiling a little diary of my recent Parisian adventure. The lovely boyfriend organised a short weekend trip for my birthday, as I’ve never properly been to Paris. [note: I don't count my traumatic trip to Paris Disneyland as a toddler because it left me with a residual fear of rollercoasters! Eek!]

And now I’m wondering why I haven’t visited sooner! Paris was everything I imagined it to be and more. There was beauty in every street corner and in every French word I heard; it was like meeting an old friend after so many years. After watching Amélie many years ago, I took a disappointing module in French during university (I just couldn’t get the grammar), but this has got me thinking I should try the tortuous process again so I can at least sound like Audrey Tautou!

I hope you enjoy my little diary of Paris. I can’t wait to go back to explore more.

THE EIFFEL TOWER

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After catching the first Eurostar train, we decided to make for Eiffel Tower. Even though it was gloomy with grey skies, we couldn’t help but be a little taken back by such an iconic landmark. As we didn’t pre-book tickets, we waited for over an hour under the tower to catch the slightly unnerving lift that runs through the columns, but the moment we reached the Second Floor, suddenly the sun came out!

CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES

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We walked down the Champs-Élysées from Arc de Triomphe, hunting for burgers and the infamous Ladurée. There was a long queue of tourists waiting to get their signature little green or pink box of multi-coloured macarons. I chose salted caramel, vanilla, Venezualan chocolate, raspberry, strawberry and lemon. I managed to resist them until I returned to the UK, but within 10 minutes of taking my first bite, all the macarons were gone. Que c’est délicieux!

JARDIN DES TUILERIES + LOUVRE

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Hat – Topshop / Blouse – F&F / Shorts – Topshop / Bag – Zara / Shoes – Clarks

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Our final stop for the day was reaching the end of the Champs-Élysées, where there is the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries. We drew up some chairs next to the main fountain to sunbathe and people watch. There were a lot of couples taking in the romantic Parisian air and making the most of it! We then walked a short distance to the Louvre; a lot of people were doing the ‘I’m touching the tip of Louvre‘ pose, so instead the boyfriend decided he’d make me look like a hobbit instead, ha! Now that’s what love is.

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