Breakfast at Le Chalet

Christmas spirit is something that can be easily lost when you work in a hospital, so I make extra effort to go and find it. The issue is, I'm not a big fan of the cold. I end up wrapped inside massive coats clutching hot drinks constantly. 

Le Chalet was the perfect place to get some festive cheer, a Ski-Lodge themed pop up restaurant on the 5th floor of Selfridges and so I booked a birthday breakfast for P.  Travelling up a private elevator (which apparently used to be used by Mr Selfridges to transport his wife and later his other dalliances to his offices) you'll find a beautiful, fairy light covered walkway leading into the restaurant. 

We were shown to our seats and quickly ordered some choctails. Alcoholic hot chocolates, could you dream of better breakfast drinks? P ordered the choc-work orange which tasted like a melted Terry's chocolate orange with a kick, and I ordered the Hazelnut, which had a much more subtle nutty flavour! Have a look at the crystallised orange peel on the top, the attention to detail!
 The restaurant was designed brilliantly, from the blankets draped over chairs to keep you warm and the twinkling lights to the open kitchen which filled the place with the smell of cooking food. Our waiter - who you can see in the background of the picture below was wonderful.  Extremely polite and gave excellent recommendations when we were struggling which drinks to pick.

We quickly moved onto the food, and started with a Blue Cheese Fondue. Deliciously salty, it came with a serving of garlicy bread and was demolished in about 5 minutes. This was my favourite dish by far.
We then shared a plate of woodland mushrooms and a ducks egg. Almost cooked to perfection, the salt did start to become a bit too much, but nevertheless the plate was spotless when we finished.

Dessert came in the form of a waffle, topped with caramelised bananas. I've only recently started eating bananas, and I'm still on the fence as to whether or not I actually like them, but dressed in caramel I most certainly do. 

They say breakfast is your most important meal of the day and I can't think of a better way to enjoy it! Le Chalet is running until mid January hurry up and book a table, with its massive windows looking out onto the roofs of Mayfair, it's a meal I won't forget in a hurry. You'll find them here.

Oreo Cookie Cupcakes

Last week was my sisters birthday, which meant for me, I had an excuse to get out my baking gloves once again.

The cake recipe was taken from an incredible cook book, The Great British Bake Off - How to Bake and the icing was my own invention. I cannot recommend this book more! Every recipe works perfectly and I've made a fair few.

I started by making the cupcake itself, following the recipe for chocolate velvet cupcakes. You need: 175ml milk
100g dark chocolate
125g of caster sugar
60g of unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 large egg - pre beaten
150g of self raising flour

Get all your ingredients together and your ready to begin

Start by preheating your oven to 180 degrees and then melt your chocolate in your milk on a low heat - stir it every so often to speed up the process.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add your egg and vanilla extract(I like to add a tablespoon of flour at this point to prevent any curdling from happening).

Next slowly mix in a third of your chocolate, then a third of your flour, then a third of your chocolate (I'm sure you get the gist) until it's all mixed in.

Once it's all mixed in, spoon your mixture into cupcake cases and pop in your oven to bake for 15-20 minutes (mine came out perfect at 17 minutes exactly). They came out, beautiful and domed, smelling delicious. 

Next comes the fun part, or the not so fun part depending on how you view it. I actually mixed up a batch of icing and spend a good two hours practicing to be able to create a swirl I was happy with. It's still not perfect, and I definitely need more practice. 

To make your Oreo icing, you need:
600g of icing sugar
300g of butter
a dash of vanilla extract
12 oreos - middle removed
Put your oreo cookies in a bag and bash them till they're crumbed, then pop all the ingredients into a bowl and cream it until its all light and fluffy. Spoon into your piping bag, and ice away. 

Finally I added half an Oreo to each one and stuck a candle in the middle. My sister loved them and we took them to a friends house where they were promptly devoured, but those photos will be kept to myself. 

Let me know if you make these, I'd love to know how you got on!


The Butterfly House

Although the weathers taken a funny turn the past couple of days, I'm trying to soak up as much of London as I possibly can before I move again. This time, my travels led me to a large tent at the Natural History Museum. Back for it's 6th year, the tropical greenhouse was in full swing. 

Buy your tickets, walk through a set of heavy doors and enter into an indoor woodland. Filled with hundreds of beautiful, fluttering butterflies that are truly captivating to look at. The greenhouse contains nearly 50 different species of moths and butterflies, but depending on how far into the summer you are, you'll see an abundance of some more than others.  All the photos here were taken on the boyfriends incredible camera. He just bought a macro lens and had a wonderful time testing it out. Also, I'm getting a little tired from calling him the boyfriend, from henceforth he shall also be known as P.

You can watch the butterflies in their natural habitat, and if your patient enough you can even watch them clamber out of their cocoons. Curly haired girls be warned, its incredibly humid in there! Be prepared for frizz.

 And some very pretty flowers too.

It's not all butterflies though. Check out some of these creepy crawlies. We managed to get talking to some of the volunteers working that day. Wonderfully knowledgable and helpful, they showed us where to find eggs and caterpillars, and even lifted up leaves so P could get some photos.  I learnt that I was very lucky to have a butterfly land on me; only 2 breeds will, as the food receptors(incredibly technical term there) can be found in the feet of many, and can be damaged by the oils in your skin. 

I think the second one was a very hungry caterpillar 

The Butterfly House is open from 10am to 5pm until mid 
September. It's a photographers heaven, the perfect place for little kids or even to go for a date. 


Birthday Bumf!

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, but I've been having far too much fun to sit down at the laptop ( I know, I know, I'm a terrible blogger)

A couple of weeks ago the boyfriend planned a surprise birthday for me. He told me to get dressed up and I ran around hunting for the perfect dress like a maniac the morning of the party! I found it in topshop, the beyonce dress! However mine had green stripes instead of black ones. 

For the first part of the surprise we headed to Urban Golf where I was met by some of my closest friends for an hour of golf. I've been telling the boyfriend that I wanted to play golf for ages, and didn't he do well! 

The super clever screen tracks your swing and shows you where the ball would end up on the green if it was real life! The boyfriend had never played golf before, but luckily one of my closest friends is a bit of a golf master and gave him a mini lesson. 

After dinner we headed to my favourite burger joint! Carnaby Burger Co. The boy and I found this place one day last year and figured we'd give it a go, and since then we've been back so many times. They really don't disappoint with utterly scrumptious burgers, but my favourite part is the multitude of veggie options. I've recently become a pescetarian, and truthfully I think soon enough I'll be veggie, however finding decent burgers for those of you who don't eat meat, can be pretty tricky. 

As there were so many of us, I got to try 3 fantastic burgers. I started with a Southern Style Quorn Bruschetta Burger. You bite in and get a delicious mouthful of a brioche bun, a Quorn escalope, tomatoes, basil,  pesto and swiss cheese. Not to mention the perfect pesto mayo dip that accompanied the chips; just heavenly! 

Next I moved onto the Falafel burger. Again a brioche bun, cucumber raita, melted cheese and a giant falafel all sandwiched together to make my taste buds tingle. The best part however is the peppercorn gravy. Ultimate win in my books.

Finally I made room for a bite of a cheese and aubergine burger with a red pepper relish. It looked fantastic, and tasted even better. I finished up feeling stuffed. Seriously, look at that cheese!

So just when I thought there would be no more food, this beauty came out of the kitchen

A gold cake, made by my fantastic boyfriend. Like I said, he definitely did well.  I had an incredible birthday made all the better by the staff at Carnaby Burger Co. who were amazing at accommodating all of us, especially when we had a few unexpected guests turn up late!

Find them at here or at 4 Newburgh St. London. Pop in if you've been shopping around oxford circus and I promise you you wont be disappointed. They deliver too! 


Somerset Days Out

I'm winding down with work at the moment and so been given a few random days of. Last week, I jumped in the car, picked up a friend and headed up the M5 to the North Devon Coast.  Isn't this drive incredible?

We'd been driving for ages trying to get to Croyde Bay, and eventually saw signs for Beach car parking. In a split second, I'd turned the car, parked up and was walking onto warm sand. It turned out that we hadn't found Croyde Bay at all, but instead had gotten to Saunton Sands. Just as pretty, it's a less touristy than the others, frequented mainly by surfers and families. We found a pretty spot, laid out in the sun, chatted and read magazines for a while.

I tried to go for a dip, but the water was freezing so I hurried back and got an icecream instead, one cold treat for another! Kelly's butterscotch and chocolate for me, and honeycomb and chocolate for my friend. It was huge and I couldn't eat it fast enough! It was melting so quickly that I'm sure more was on my hands than in my mouth. 

After a long long stint of sunbathing, we went for a walk and started clambering up the sand dunes in flip flops (it's really hard and really quite funny) 

Check out those beach huts! I love the colours

Wandering of the sand dunes and into a much more secluded part of the beach, theres a beautiful little private bay, albeit slightly rocky.

Followed by a pool of algae:

The day was finished with fresh fish and chips and I drove back home, feeling happy and refreshed. I highly recommend North Devon if you ever need a break from a busy schedule. It's the perfect place to get away, and easily one of the most beautiful parts of England that I have ever seen. One last picture to show you just how beautiful it really is.


Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I love a good carrot cake so I’ve tried a few and while I don’t really want to oversell this, I think I’ve found the best recipe of the batch. A deliciously moist sponge with the perfect amount of spice interspersed with chunks of walnuts and pecans to add some depth to the texture.  I based my recipe on the one from the hummingbird bakery, but adjusted it slightly to make them spicier. Pecans and walnuts for extra flavor, and cupcakes because what could be better than your own mini cake. 

Just look at that perfect dome! 
To make your own you do need a whole host of ingredients; 300ml of vegetable oil, 3 eggs, 300grams of brown sugar, 300grams self raising flour, 1/2tsp of salt, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp of ginger, 1tsp of nutmeg, 1/2tsp of ground cloves, 1tsp vanilla essence. 300grams grated carrots, 75gr chopped pecans, 75 grams of chopped walnuts.  I managed to get 20 cupcakes out of this recipe.

Once you’ve gotten all of that together, you want to whisk together the eggs, sugar and oil until you have something that looks like this:

Make sure you’ve got plenty of air mixed in; it helps with the fluffiness of the cupcakes later on. Add all your dry ingredients to this, gently folding them into the mix. The batter will start to thicken up and be much nicer on the eyes. Finally, add your vanilla essence and you’re done.

Pour your mix into muffin trays filling them 2/3 of the way.  These rise beautifully so don’t over do it, bake for exactly 22 minutes at 170 degrees and finally you’ll be left with these. PS. Ignore the ones in the middle on the far right and left they were misbehaving.

Personally I think these are best straight from the oven, with a cup of tea. If you manage to have any left over by the time they’re cooled, cream cheese icing on top is pretty much the perfect pairing.

Check out these beauties : ) I took them to work the next day and they were demolished by 11am.


Tom's Deli

Brunch is possibly my favourite meal of the day. It's the epitome of a lazy day for me; a nice lie in, and then hop over to somewhere delicious to have someone else make me food. 

A little while ago, the other half and I decided to go to Tom's Deli in Notting Hill. To me this place is like an alice in wonderland grotto for food. Sweets, coffee, salad bar, you name it; plus it has stars hanging from the ceiling so it gets a thumbs up from me.  It's always full, so we got there early and managed to find a seat in a dark back corner. By the time we left the queue was halfway down the street. 

I got avocado, poached eggs and salsa on toast, and  he got the veggie breakfast. Both cooked to perfection, and utterly divine.  I scoffed down all of mine and probably half of his. 

lollipops the size of my head!
If you'd like to visit you can find Tom's at: 
Tom's Deli
226 Westbourne Grove
W11 2RH
020 7221 8818