"Pure style is my way of life... a blueprint for living in the 21st Century"
21 December 2014
Festive greetings and wishes for a healthy and happy New Year to all my blog readers .
I haven`t forgotten the recipe for the cheesiest biscuits ( in the taste sense )to rustle up over the holiday. Adapted via Prue Leith`s Cookery Bible (every kitchen should have one) the recipe is easy on kitchen skills. If made a couple of days in advance and stored in a tin, it is useful to crisp the biscuits in a warm oven for a few minutes to bring out the flavour . Or chill the biscuit dough in the fridge, ready for rolling out and baking some tasty snacks for a last minute get together.
225g plain flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
225 gruyere , pecorino, or strong cheddar, grated
2 tablespoons English mustard
3 teaspoons paprika
Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a couple of baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Put the flour and into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture is like breadcrumbs.
Add the cheese, salt, pepper, mustard, paprika and egg to bind. Make a paste and roll into a ball.
Roll out on a floured board, or, for less mess, between two sheets of greaseproof paper to a 5mm thickness. Cut into squares, ( or rounds, or rectangles or whatever shape you want) and brush the remaining egg.
Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Two hours in the seething crowds on Oxford Street and its environs: I`m spent. The frisson of buy- it -now mania has brought on shopper`s block . Gimme a pink rose from the garden and a box of Chocolate Bendicks mints for sanity.
Wake up in Somerset to the first frost whites. Spend a happy half hour at Kimber`s farm shop stocking up with current cheese passion Godminster organic cheddar and a food parcel with local minced lamb for student daughter, who later posts the moussaka she has rustled up. Tres resouceful of her.
An uplifting shoot at the house with beautiful crafted made-in-Britain pieces. I would so very much like to kidnap the ash and chestnut Shake cabinet by Sebastian Cox and keep it in my bedroom for ever.
Thinking about christmas baking which will include the usual chocolate and chestnut cake, and my new favourite savoury: crispy gouda biscuits from a recipe in Prue Leith. I will post a shot next week from an up and coming batch if they haven`t been gobbled up. Chocolate and chestnut cake
400g peeled chestnuts chopped;125g caster sufar; 125g chocolate min 70% cocoa solids; 100g butter
for icing: 125g chocolate as above; 15g butter; 15ml fresh orange juice; 15m; grated orange rind
Process peeled chestnuts and sugar until smooth. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan. Add chestnut/sugar paste and mix until smooth. Turn into a greased cake tin and chill in the fridge overnight.
My mother’s coffee cake was as much a part
of childhood as the roast on Sunday.
died fifteen years ago
and I haven’t
been able to pin down the coffee-flavoured
and textures until last
weekend when I downloaded
Cloake’s Perfect coffee and walnut cake. Apart from my mum`s touch,
I think the light brown sugar element is what was missing in my previous attempts.
Here is the recipe with a few tweaks, and
sans walnuts because I prefer
my coffee cake without .
It was the pudding queen at a family get-together
in my `secret
shed` glowing with candlelight at the bottom of the garden. Basically I dressed up
the garden shed with candles and tea lights in jam jars, spread the table with a white cloth and unwound a cable from the house for a heater. It was snug and good to be semi-outsde on a
dark autumn evening.
Heat oven to 180C and grease and line the
bases of 2x20cm cake tins
Mix the coffee with ltbsp boiling water and
leave to cool.
Beat the butter and sugar together until
light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture. Once incorporated sift in the flour ,
baking powder and salt and fold in with a large metal spoon, adding the coffee,
Divide the batter between the tins, if very
stiff add a little mili. Bake for 25minutes . Cool for 10 minutes in the tins
and put on a wire rack to finish cooling.
2tbsp coffee with ltbsp boiling water and leave to cool.
Beat the butter until soft, sift in the
sugar, salt and add the coffee and cream. Stir until fluffy and smooth.
Spread one cake with
just under half of the icing, and place the other
cake on top. Spread the remaining icing on top.
Olhao council has some grim proposals for `modernisation` including the removal of
calcada cobbles, see below, in favour of shopping mall style smooth grey slabs and seafront lighting all football floodlight bright. It is easy to destroy centuries worth of beautiful detailing when there`re millions in the bank combined with inappropriate architectural plans and ill-informed Council types. I have sent my objections together with everyone in the Olhao community who wishes to keep it`s visual spirit which is what makes this little town so human and special.
Up with the lark. 4.30am actually. Ring at the door bell. Dog barks loudly and wakes me from dream where a shoot is submerging the house in folds of paper. Stagger downstairs and peer through the knobbly glass door panel. Vague outline of man in motorbike helmet. Panic. It`s a smash and grab raid? "Who is it ?". ``Pizza". "Pizza, pizza who? " I say. "It`s paid for " he says, and hands over a box from a thermal bag. " "
It`s 4.30, I didn`t order this, and it`s stone cold" I say, and stagger upstairs. Someone has messed up at pizza HQ.
Wish the `instant` of nocturnal fast food delivery , could be applied to building work. One thing leading to another is what building is all about. The attic bathroom project would have been done and dusted but for this week`s discovery of a wasps` nest, parts missing, and paint colour mixed with the wrong base. Plus the soggy fallout from the unfortunate incident in the downstairs bathroom when X and X removed the lavatory as part of the panelling job, and flooded the ceiling below. `You`ll have to get in your plumber` they try. Hmmmm. "You did say X and X were competent at removing bathroom fittings" I remind the contractor. And on, and on it goes.
Oh well. There`s always the garden. My touchstone of sanity. Spring is at least a month earlier than last year and we are soaking up the scents of bluebells and frothy blossom like parched drinkers. Best job of the week has been raking bag of grave in the relining of the pathways between the parterre beds. They look refreshed, almost like clean linen.
Unsurprisingly, I`m longing for the weekend. I think that spring lamb will be on the menu for our Easter feast. This recipe with roasted artichokes and spring greens is from my book .
The Japanese arrive as the cherry blossom froths in next door`s garden. It`s a shoot for Mrs Magazine Japan`s oldest womens` publication. I am Mrs Pure Style cooking with herbs from the garden and sharing my recipe tips with the enviably porcelain smooth face of Mrs Magazine, actress and singer, Miki Imai.
Some things are lost in translation, but east and west over tea and lavender shortbread have a mutual feeling for the simple and beautiful. Photographer Okemi Kurosaka neat and efficient as her glossy black fringe snaps until the shadows are long and we have picked the bones clean from very English spring lamb cutlets with rosemary and garlic.
Chive pesto also goes down well on my Japanese date: chop a handful of chives and process in the hand whizzer with pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, grated Parmesan , salt and pepper.
Getting orders for the borders!!! and Press, too... Here`s the latest thumbs up from Living Etc who also feature them on the Editor`s front page of ` Inspiration`
Loading up Richard`s van for delivery to Olhao. I have my first holiday tenants soon, and want them to enjoy crisp sheets and soft pillows, floaty cotton awnings, and lanterns. Seems mad to to be sending mats, chairs, folding beer tables two thousand miles south when you think items as prosaic as these might be found locally. They can... and they can`t if you`re picky, like me and get get stuck on wanting what feels/looks right not what is simply available. Fussy yes, but would you want stacking plastic loungers at Pure Style Portugal? .
Not so much flat calm, but rippling : wavy black and white linen/cotton for another take on the stripe theme
Together with the unfurling of the garden`s first tulip, I receive green fingered excitement from the forthcoming Chelsea Fringe alternative
garden festival. Masses of events: sign me up for a walk on
London`soldest nature trail at the Horniman museum and the drawing and
sketching classes on Hampstead Heath.
Lunch break. A gorgeous painterly arrangement of salads and salmon by location caterer, Laurence Mash has just landed on my desk. The crew downstairs is enjoying the tastiest and most visually appealing shoot grub that has appeared in my kitchen for a very long time.
Clumps of grass between the cobbles and pantiles sprouting wild flowers show winter in Olhao was as extreme in rainfall as in the chill we endured here. So releasing to peel off wool layers and sun bathe under blue sky spring busy with swallows, tweeting sparrows and swooping nets of silvery homing pigeons . We trundle to the market and load the Rolly Rolser with armfuls of wild flowers, eggs, asparagus and oranges.
So good to eat with sun on the face sea in the air. This demands something celebratory like buying a net of
amejoias boa for clam and tomato pasta. I shower and soak the shells in the sink, picking out any broken ones. They feel smooth and cool, with a promising weightiness like solid chocolate eggs.
I chop tomatoes, garlic and fry until soft. Some pepper, dregs of white wine from last night, and then the sauce is ready for the clams. Steam under the saucepan lid, shake frequently and after seven minutes or so the clams open like buds in a speeded up film to reveal tender flesh and juices with a fragrant shellfish taste
We spoon clams and sauce over bowls piled with
spaghetti or any other long type will be right. This is an athletic dish: twirling strands of dripping pasta around one`s fork, sucking the last bits from the shells. It takes me back to being 18 and the
spaghetti vongoles of my first Italian summer.
The wind continues to cut like iced knives, but at least there`s some green shooting going on in my shed. These are the sweet pea seeds I planted last autumn, and I`ve been pinching out the top leaves so that side shoots are encouraged to grow. Look at them stretching towards the light.
Good Friday. I make hot cross buns from the recipe in my book. My version only requires one proving of the dough which means they`re heavier than buns made with two. But less fuss to make, and delicious toasted and spread with butter. The mighty mxing bowl, my favourite , is part of an order to replenish stocks of house kit that has worn out or gone too far gone to repair. The last bowl met a shattering end on the kitchen floor.
A clump of self seeded violets in my vegetable patch is visual treasure. The flowers are edible, too.
White crunch outside. Crystalised
petals and leaves piped with ice. Wouldn’t mind a pair of fur lined boots to go
with digging in the last bulbs. Frozen toes, frozen ground, not fun to hack at
with spade but good for strength.
was ….boogying, Yes I Can, to Seventies’
band ‘Kool and the Gang’. Played at every rubbish wedding disco I’ve been to it
was a revelation to hear the authentic
Live beats of ‘Celebration’ and
‘Ladies Night’. Found very odd that many people viewed the stage through smart phones,
arms stuck up in the air and blocking the view. But rubber beer bottles v. good
In town and eyeing Christmas presents I’d
like to give: Rococo sea salt chocolate; striped cotton pyjamas from Toast;Diptyque woody scented Feu du Bois candles. And, if no limits, a Hans Wegner oak and corded seat
armchair, inspired by the story I have written about Danish architect Pernille
Arends, in this month’s Elle Decoration. You will love the retro Scandinavian white and wood features of her fifties’ home.
Going local I think a hyacinth vase
with bulb is a perfect present, see this from Alleyn Park garden It comes in clear, green, and lilac, too.
On the homemade front I’m giving jars
of quince jelly boiled up from fruit I picked from a friend’s tree in Somerset.
I have an open pot which as well as dolloping on toast with butter I spooned into gravy with white wine and
juices from the pheasants I roasted on Sunday. Only a fiver for the brace from
Brixton farmers’ market – brilliant value and tasty.
Taking my maths O level three time was as
painful as getting the new website up. I have to say that if I were one of the sweet and patient boys at
would be hairless after nursing me through a hundred panicked calls in learning
how to use the website manager. But
Hooray! I’m in business.
Do have a look at the new Pure Style shop, and the
delicious colour bands. (I noticed that
White Company shooting here this week, used them as props!)
The garden. The place where I can have some control when the uploads
don’t, the links go nowhere and paste text paste text is like severe aerobics for hands and fingers.
I’ve planted 8 of the 16 beds with about 125
tulip and alium bulbs – Got them this year from Rosecottage plants,
who have rather good deals, and an amazing array of both
aliums and tulips
I’ve got a bit behind with posting this- so
a week ago when I shot these pictures it was warm and sunny enough to down tools for half an hour and cook
up sausages on the bbq. The end of the garden by the shed catches the afternoon
rays in autumn and is a brilliant
spot for the purpose.