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(We need to wash our windows…)

Well. Its been a while. Again. Its also been an even busier period than it was during my last stint of silence. I have composed a list of what has been happening to keep you in the loop.

  • We bought a house. Two days before Christmas. Madness. Since then we have spent 3 months working on it intensively. I posted lots of updates on instagram if you are interested in seeing the process. It was very run down when we got the keys, and proved to be triple the work I had naively thought it would be (turns out stripping wall paper and a lick of paint doesn’t always cut it, que re wiring the whole property, new boiler, new radiators, new walls, new ceilings, the whole shebang). Now having moved in though it all feels like a foggy – very dusty – memory.
  • We also bought a shop. Well the building we bought is split over three floors, the top two being the flat and the ground floor and basement making up a small shop. It seemed a bit too good to be true frankly as James was looking for a flat, and I was looking for a shop. At 21 I had no plans to buy anything let alone a flat and a shop, I was simply looking for somewhere to rent. Surprisingly the price and timing was right and as we bought it jointly it was just about manageable. The price was right because of the amount of work required, but after lots of youtube videos and a willingness to get dirty we managed to do a pretty hands on job of it all. Cake icing and decorating are very much transferable skills when it comes to plastering. And I can now open a beer bottle with a screw driver. Lots of important things learnt.
  • During the stripping, plastering, filling, sanding and painting my book was released at long last. Gatherings was published on January 26th by Mitchell Beazley and is available here. I had a great time running all over the country meeting wonderful people at signings and Q&As. And it was a good excuse to get out of my overalls. I have also really enjoyed being sent images of what you are all making from Gatherings. Tweet me pictures @florashedden or on Instagram @sheddenflora. I love seeing them and hearing your stories. I will post a separate blog about the book as well as sharing a few recipes and images very very soon.
  • A new job. I am now one of three new presenters for BBC Radio Scotland’s weekly food programme The Kitchen Cafe. It’s such a joy to blether about food and be paid for it. An added bonus is that as it is radio I can blether about food and not even have to worry about how I look. I love radio. We are on every Thursday at 1.30pm, and all previous episodes are on iPlayer. Tune in for some treats!
  • Another new job. As well as blethering about food on the radio I am now blethering about food in the papers. More specifically baking in the new weekend supplement in The Sunday Telegraph. Read my column every Sunday where I discuss recipes, ingredients and keep you up to date on my other exciting new project (see below). Its great fun coming up with two new seasonal baking recipes each week and has provided the perfect excuse to play about with classic recipes I have been doing for years.
  • And last but not least my other wee project. Well when I say wee, I am opening a bakery. Of course this was going to be what I did with our shop downstairs. It has been a long term dream of mine and so to see it being realised so soon still leaves me speechless. After a long wait for planning permission and a building warrant work is finally commencing next week. You can read the full story about ARAN over at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/aranbakery. I am busy building the website so I will share that with you as soon as it is finished, but in the meantime we are on Facebook, on Instagram @aranbakery and on Twitter @aranbakery if you want to keep up to date with developments (good and bad).

So I think that is about it from me. Its been a busy busy 4 months and I am so sorry you have been so neglected – I will be back soon with lots more snaps, stories and recipes. I promise.

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A few weeks ago I teamed up with the magical people at Magnum for a very exciting collaboration – I was to create my dream Magnum. At first this seemed like an excellent prospect, however upon further thinking I began to struggle. How on earth do you top what is already arguably the best ice cream? Frankly I am thrilled to have any form of Magnum in my grasp, let alone a customised one! Eventually however I decided that I wanted to emphasise the deliciously satisfying contrast between the crunch of chocolate and smooth silky centre. I would of course add more chocolate. And nuts. And my new favourite topping in the form of cocoa nibs. Cocoa nibs are roasted cocoa beans, broken into smaller pieces, and have a strong but bitter chocolate flavour. They made for a perfect pairing with white chocolate, and sweet vanilla ice cream. I also wanted to build my Magnum up in layers or stripes. I think this makes it more playful and enticing, particularly with the gem coloured pistachio slivers. The end result looked like something from the 1920s, and so the Art Deco Dream was born! Perfect with a glass of prosecco during the festive period.

For more information about the #DreamMagnum collection please visit http://www.magnumicecream.com/uk/dream-magnum.html, or search #DreamMagnum on Twitter or Instagram.

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BUILD YOUR OWN ART DECO DREAM

4 white chocolate Magnum ice creams

150g dark chocolate (at least 65% cocoa solids)

75g pistachio slivers

50g cocoa nibs

white rose petals to decorate, optional

prosecco to serve

Gently melt your chocolate using a bain marie. Transfer into a piping bag and snip a little off the end – you only require a small nozzle. Lay your Magnums on a tray lines with greaseproof or silicon paper. One at a time pipe dark chocolate stripes up each Magnum. You can drizzle the chocolate all over if you would prefer. Working fast as the chocolate with begin to harden quickly, sprinkle one strip with pistachio slivers and another with cocoa nibs. Alternate between the two. Return each one to the freezer once complete. If possible make sure they remain flat to prevent any damage. You can store them (covered) for up to two weeks once decorated. Serve with the rose petals and prosecco for an indulgent treat over the festive period.

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  • Laura - Hi Flora! The Great British Bake Off just hit the US on Netflix, and I happen to be watching the series you’re in. I like to google all the various bakers, and found your blog. Your photography and recipes are simply a dream! I wish you a lifelong successful career, you’re off to a great start! All the best. –LauraReplyCancel

  • Georgia Davies - Hi There,

    Just to let you know that I’ve created a guide on how to create the perfect cheeseboard, which could be of interest to your readers. It’s ideal for beginners or for those looking to make sure their cheeseboard is well balanced.

    You can find the infographic here: https://www.daffodilhotel.co.uk/blog/expert-tips-for-the-perfect-cheese-board/

    If you enjoy the piece it would be amazing if you’d consider republishing the infographic on your site florashedden.com ? If so, we’ve added some easy embed codes that can be simply copied and pasted onto a page/s of your choosing.

    Also any feedback or comments would be very much appreciated.

    Kindest regards,
    GeorgiaReplyCancel

fas_0779A few weeks ago I was sent a very exciting package from Marks and Spencers. It contained some cracking pots and pans, both of which are wonderful to use, and the pan is perfect for shaksuka due to being ovenproof. I was also sent some gorgeous tableware, and if you browse the whole collection here I think you will agree it is pretty hard to go wrong! Marks and Sparks does it again! Also by chance I already owned (and loved) their cast iron grill pan so all the pieces were in place for a #superbrunch. All too often during lazy mornings in the kitchen it can be tempting to cook a big sugary stack of pancakes then ladle them in syrup. Or even go full fry up and turn a blind eye at just how much frying you are doing. Below I hope to inspire you with a healthier and arguably tastier brunch that will leave you feeling satisfied but not sluggish and ready to start your day (are afternoon if you are anything like me…). Best served and enjoyed in your pyjamas of course!!

 

On a side note I need to apologies for being away recently – lots of exciting things planned and hopefully I will get to tell you about them soon. There was also the small matter of turning 21 last week! I will share some snaps of what was a very memorable night soon.

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#superbrunch – Serves 4

All ingredients can be found at your local M&S, www.marksandspencers.com

CHILLI AND RED PEPPER SHAKSHUKA

1 large white onion, or 2 small banana shallots

good plug of olive oil

1 red pepper

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

100g fresh cherry tomatoes

1 tsp dried chilli flakes, or if you can get your hands on them Aleppo Peppers are great and add a smoky kick to proceedings

a few drops of tabasco

1 large clove of garlic

3-4 eggs, depending on how many you are serving

salt and pepper

lots of chopped parsley

a little parmesan cheese to finish, optional

Greek yoghurt

Pre heat the oven to 200C. Start by finely chopping your onion(s) and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in an oven proof frying pan (see the link above for the CHEFS RANGE pan) on a medium heat. Cook the onions until softened. Add the pepper and continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes again until soft. Whack the heat up a bit and add the tinned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes (you can leave them whole if you like but I prefer halving them) and the chilli flakes. Stir well then add a few dashes of tabasco, more if you like your tomatoes hot! Mince the garlic and add to the pan. Stir again and allow to blip away on a fairly high heat for 5 minutes. You want to reduce the tomatoes down but not dry them out. Once the sauce has thickened make little gaps in the pan to break your eggs in to. Crack some fresh black pepper over the top and season very lightly with salt. Transfer the pan into the oven for 4-6 minutes checking regular so you don’t over do the eggs. I love my yolks runny so tend to cook them for less but of course it is up to you! Once cooked sprinkle over the parsley and a little parmesan. You can also add cooling dollops of yoghurt for your guests. Serve immediately either on its own or with toasted slices sourdough.

MUSHROOM AND APPLE TOASTS

2 eating apples, Braeburn for a sweeter variety or Granny Smith if you like a bit of sharpness

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp apple juice

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp of sesame or white poppy seeds

8-10 slices of bread, I like sourdough or a seeded loaf

200g mushrooms, mixed if you would like

olive oil

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 clove of garlic

salt and pepper

50g goats cheese

 

LOTS of fresh parsley

Start by making the apple salad. In a bowl whisk together the lemon and apple juice and the olive oil. Season lightly. Finely slice the apple into sticks – there is no need to peel them.  Toss them through the dressing then add the sesame or poppy seeds. add some parsley then set aside. Heat the gridle pan on a high heat then place the slice of bread on to char. There is no need for oil. Once you have dark lines turn over and repeat. Remove from the heat. Finely slice your mushrooms and add to a saucepan with a little olive oil. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Strip the leaves off the thyme sprigs and add to the pan, alongside a clove of very finely chopped or minced garlic. Cook for a further few minutes. To assemble spoon the mushrooms on top of half of the toasts then crumble over some goats cheese. Do this whilst still hot so that it melts. Spoon the apples on the remainder of the toasts. Finish both with a drizzle of good quality olive oil and a little black pepper.

 

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As a long time fan of Farrow & Ball, you should have heard the squeal I made when this proposal arrived in my mailbox. A huge part of what I do day to day is based on aesthetics, for which I need tones and colours. And only the best will do. When I worked in the gallery I practically memorised the F&B colour chart, changing my favourite shade weekly. Brassica and Inchyra Blue are still very high up there. To celebrate their 70th anniversary however they have launched a new range of dreamy wallpapers that hark back to the design and print orientated 1940s. The three new patterns all reflect the period in their own wee way, but when given the choice Arcade and its pretty scallop design was the one for me. I loved all the colour schemes, but this softer green tone reminded me of eucalyptus and all things natural.  A cake was then commissioned and I set about creating a sugar showstopper to match the scheme – the result is a simple wee almond cake filled with hedgerow jam and finished with a vanilla buttercream. The macarons were made to be the colour of James White. It was a lot of fun and certainly filled up my pinterest board with 40s interiors!

Happy Happy 70th Birthday Farrow & Ball – no doubt you will be the champions of colour for another 70 years!

For more information on the new wallpaper range Latest & Greatest visit here.

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  • Ginger and Spice - Such a beautiful cake! You always style your bakes so well, so much work gone into it and definely worth it! XxReplyCancel

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A few weeks ago I received a very exciting golden package in the post. It was weighty and shiny and I knew it was stuffed to the gunnels with chocolate. GODIVA chocolate to be precise. For me the best thing to do with a high quality chocolate is cookies. Though they are baked, the flavour is never changed in a cookie or biscuit, unlike in cakes and sponges. It also allows for lots of your own improvisations which is always a bonus. Here I have used two types of their chocolate (why wouldn’t you?) and some hazelnuts for added texture (again why the heck not!?). However if you would prefer white chocolate and pecan cookies you can simply substitute like for like. Almonds would also work, as would salted peanuts with milk chocolate. Endless possibilities. I have published a few cookie recipes on here before, always convinced it was the one. But, although I still love my previous one and do recommend it, I would argue this one is fail safe. AND, for an extra bonus, results in a lovely cracked top which I think is very aesthetically pleasing.

Happy 90th Birthday GODIVA – long may you cocoa concoctions continue!
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GODIVA CHOCOLATE, SEA SALT and HAZELNUT COOKIES

110g unsalted butter

50g dark brown sugar (dark muscavado)

150g caster sugar

210g plain flour

1 large egg

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g GODIVA 72% dark chocolate

100g GODIVA dark sea salt chocolate

75g hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large saucepan melt the butter gently on a low to medium heat. You don’t want it to bubble or spit. Remove from the heat then add the sugars. It will look like its split but don’t worry. Stir in the flour and set aside to cool down for 5 to 10 minutes. During this time chop your chocolate roughly. Toast the hazelnuts for a few minutes using either a shallow frying pan or hot oven. They should be golden and fragrant. Chop roughly also. Once your dough has cooled stir in the egg baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, chocolates and hazelnuts. The chocolate will melt if you add this when the dough is still hot so do let it cool properly. Once you have a smooth dough line two large baking sheets or trays. Roll balls of dough, approximately 1-2 tbsp worth of mix. Place the balls on your sheets, well spaced apart and bake for 10-12 minutes of until light golden but still soft in the middle. Allow to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely. Repeat with any excess dough. They will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

 

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  • Shristi - These cookies are amazing! I have always tried to make cookies that are soft in the middle but always failed this recipe is perfect, Thanks for sharing xxReplyCancel

    • Flora - Thank you so much for giving them a go. Really glad you liked them!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Beat - My brother is the General Manager of South East Asia GODIVA! Must tell him about your fabulous recipes.ReplyCancel