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cocktail

cocktail
A Winter Cocktail

Life changing magic

Life changing magic
The Life Changing Magic

The perfect lemon tart!

Last week I posted a picture of the treat I had made for a colleagues birthday and it was met with requests for the recipe - so here it is my go to tangy lemon tart!

I made it a few months ago to take to dinner in Manchester but the snow on snakes pass ruined those plans so I ended up taking it to work for the guys there because as much as I'd like to eat the whole thing, alone, with a spoon, it really wouldn't be a sensible idea! Unfortunately the guys at work loved it and I subsequently ended up getting requests to make another one last week for a birthday - but laced with glitter.......and it so many compliments that here's the recipe for you too! 

What you'll need;
  • 1 pre bought pastry case - I like this one
For the lemon filling;
  • The juice of 4 lemons
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 130 grams granulated sugar
  • 80grams butter
  • 3 large eggs and 3 large egg yolks

To decorate
  • Icing sugar/glitter/lemon rind

What you'll need to do;

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. 
  • Place your pre-bought pastry case on a oven sheet covered in parchment paper. Yes - I use a pre bought pastry case. I have no time for making pastry......but if you do you probably have a recipe - if you're lazy like me. Buy one. 
  • Grate the peel of one lemon and juice all four of the lemons. 
  • Add the sugar and the whole eggs and the egg yolks to a saucepan. Whisk them together. 
  • Add the lemon juice to the pan and stir them over a low heat until they are all combined. keep stirring until until the mixture thickens. 
  • Once it's thickened, add the butter and mix until melted.
  • Pour the lemon mix into the pastry case and cook in the over for 8-10 minutes. 
  • Just before you serve dust with a little icing sugar - or if you're feeling fancy, glitter. And eat! 

Start to finish it takes about 25 minutes to make it all and depending on the size of your pastry case you might even have a bit of the delicious lemon surd mixture left for enjoying on your toast! Or you could just make the lemon stuff and eat it from the pan. Its so tasty no-one would judge you! I promise.

P.s. Sorry about the pictures - I hadn't planned to blog it until I was asked for the recipe so these are just some I took trying out my new camera agggggges ago or phone pics! 
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A Swap for dog lovers - #poochpackage is live!


A little while ago Fay at Food Fables sent me a message and suggested we organise a Dog Swap. No, no, not an actual dog swap (although sometimes I do wonder if a none naughty dog might be easier) but a fun, dog stuff, swap to honour our favourite fur friends - especially, as Fay pointed out, it's National Pet Month this month too!

I thought it sounded like the best idea ever - Flash was involved in a Christmas secret santa swap in December and it was so much fun picking out gifts for another pooch (his swapee was a puggle named Ruby) but also opening the box and seeing what we got too!

So welcome to #PoochPackage - a lovely swap for dog owners across the UK who fancy receiving something fun in the post for their fur face!


The swap is open to anyone with a dog, but if you do have a blog, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook account we’d love it if you’d share your swap stories with us on #poochpackage. We’d love to see how much your dog loves their gifts!

All you need to do is fill in the questionnaire below and tell us some bits about your dog. We’ll be matching people up with other fun dog owners around the country so once you have their details it might be worth checking them out and finding out a little more about their pooch!

We’ve set a spend limit of £12 – we don’t want people to feel like they have to spend the earth on their swap, but we figured you could get some awesome treats for £12!


The swap timeline;
  • The sign-up will be open until the end of April.
  • We will assign you your swap partner by the 6th May.
  • You have until the 16th May to send off your package to your swap partner. 
  • If you have a blog/Instagram/twitter account- please share your #poochpackage with us by the end of May so we can see what you received (and maybe what you sent too!)
Signing up is easy – just fill in the form and we’ll start matching you up with a puppy pal!  



So if you're a puppy dog owner and you'd like to get involved in #poochpackage fill in the form. You've got until the 30th April to sign up and then we'll send out your swap partners details! Oh, and invite your friends - the more the merrier, eh!

Also, yes, this was an excuse to post gratuitous Flash pictures.........oh, you want another one - okay then.......

 

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Travel - A trip to Seattle

We arrived in Seattle late after a delayed train, but to an upgrade to a fancy room on the 40th floor with beautiful views of the city. 
We became obsessed with Rachel's ginger beer, and with discovering bars hidden in alleyways or in random apartments - hello Bathtub Gin Co and Upstairs! Both were really small venues and had the most amazing cocktails in both. Bathtub gin had a capacity of 45 and was only accessed by a pretty much unmarked door way. 

We got tips on some amazing spots for cocktails in Belltown, we visited dive bars and we ate pizza by the slice. We watched the men throw fish at Pike Place, ate our first proper chowder and got bitters making tips from hipster barmen. 
We watched Indian Jones in an old school cinema like it was 1981 again (but what's with the clapping at the end of a film America?) and got photobooth photos taken after 1 or 5 too many beers at The Crocodile

We did all the touristy things the city could throw at us including boat tours, the Space Needle and the EMP music museum - our city pass got a hammering. We walked a lot. Again. Oh, and at some point - I dislocated a rib from my spine.......yes! Ouch!
Bath Tub Gin Co
5 Points Cafe
The Crab Pot
We were told that Seattle wouldn't have enough for us to do for 5 days but we proved that wrong - and if Nike Town was open (sob - closed for a refurb) we might have needed another few days!

There will be a special prize for the person who gets what these photos are about too. "I was just...nowhere near your neighbourhood"

After Seattle we ventured back up to Vancouver for another couple of days. You can read about our Vancouver trip here and the start of our trip in Whistler here!
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The Details

Where we stayed.
We stayed at the Westin on Jim's India trip hotel points which was lovely as we got a bit of an upgrade and as he stays with them in India a lot we got free wifi and breakfasts too. It was a pretty good location for early morning shopping trips before Jim got up and for exploring the city - it was about a 20min walk to the water front and Pike Place. It was also right next to the Monorail stop and a couple of places on our 'Singles' tour of Seattle.

Where we ate and drank
We did quite a bit of snacking or food on the go in Seattle. On our first evening we were directed to the Belltown area by a friendly bar man and we fell in love. One of our favourites was Rocco's - an awesome cocktail and pizza by the slice bar. It's right on the main street in Belltown and well worth the visit. OUu ultimate drinking establishment was Bathtub Gin & Co which is tucked away down a side alleyway. Round the corner was also Upstairs which we found on a recommendation from a fellow Bathtub Gin drinker. We made a point of going to the 5 Points Café after Jim saw it on Diners, Drive ins and Dives. The food was great and it was so divey too! 

Getting around. 
As we were so central we mostly walked everywhere. We did get the Monorail out to the Space Needle and science park area - how could we not. But it wasn't that far as we walked back into Seattle. We got to and from Seattle on the train which was super easy as it dealt with customs at the Canadian end.
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Travel - Our Vancouver Weekends


We arrived in Vancouver in the rain.......even then it looked beautiful. It looked like the place I want to be. The sunshine only made me fall in love more. 
We had two weekends in Vancouver. One with Jim's sister and her husband and one just the two of us. Our visits consisted of seeing The Gaslight Anthem, a lot of sight seeing, even more eating and drinking and catching up with some old friends. We bowled in basements. We saw the Cannucks play. We ate cinnamon rolls bigger than my head, grilled cheese from bona fide food trucks, so many Oysters, the most amazing sushi, loads of 'appies' and found a great $5 restaurant! We met some of the friendliest people in the world. Seriously, everyone is super friendly. We also walked a lot. More than a lot. We walked everywhere. Including round the beautiful Stanley Park. Next time I will take more trainers. 
Cinnamon Bun the size of my head from Scuzzis
I fell in love with these jellyfish in Vancouver Aquarium
Granville Island
Granville Island Brewery
Kitslano, the sea and cocktails!Stanley Park
Meat and Bread! (and other food stuff!)

Gaslight Anthem in Vancouver!
Moms grilled cheese
Go Cannucks Go
The sunset as we were leaving Vancouver by train!

After our first weekend we left Vancouver for Seattle by train. The train trip follows the coast for the main part (and by follows I mean hugs it so closely you think you might fall in.....) and is completely beautiful. Our trip down the coast was during sunset and our trip up through early morning fog! It was just stunning! The train driver on the way back to Vancouver was clearly very proud of his route - he gave us a running commentary of all the points of interest we passed, and as soon as we crossed the border back into Canada, as crazy as this sounds people started waving at the train! 

You'll be able to read about Part 3 of the trip in a few days. If you want to see pictures from the Whistler leg of the trip, then click here!

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The details.

Where we stayed.
Our first weekend in Vancouver we stayed at The Sheraton Wall centre in a 2 bed apartment. It was perfect for us as it was bang in the middle of downtown and meant we could walk pretty much everywhere. It was really easy to get to Yaletown and Gastown for nights out and restaurants too. On our secon trip we stayed in the Westin Grand on Jim's hotel points. It had an awesome roof top pool (that we didn't get to use but looked beautiful) and again was really central.

Where we ate.
Breakfast - specifically the cinnamon roll was at Scoozis, on a tip from a friend. We had a great $5 meal at the Factory and some awesome Sushi. We had a beautiful seafood platter on Granville Island. On our second trip to Vancouver Jim and I also loved Rodneys in Yaletown for seafood and we had some perfect Korean BBQ too.

Getting around.
Whilst exploring Vancouver we walked. Everywhere. (Well, besides a few late night Ubers with our friends who live there)
Getting back to the airport we took the train. And getting to the train station to go to Seattle we got the bus. Both were super easy to do, even with all our snowboarding gear!
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Travel - A week in Whistler


Over the next few days I'm going to be sharing some pictures from our holiday last month. Our trip started with a week in Whistler, BC so that's where we're starting here........ 

The point to flying all the way round the world was to go snowboarding in some of the best snow in the world. Unfortunately we managed to visit Whistler during the worst snow anyone could remember! Yes. Gutted. And no, don't talk to me about the amount it's snowed in the weeks since we left! But bad snow or not we had an awesome time on and off the slopes. Whilst I'd push for fresh snow everytime, if I can have it, I'm a big fan of some spring slush - which is what we got half the week - the other half we had a little dusting of fresh snow! But the slopes were quiet, the runs that were open were great and with my cheese knees who wants deep powder days anyway!

Off the mountain, Whistler is so, so much fun. So much fun that if you can get me a Canadian Visa and $13million to buy a pimped up house there I will be your best friend forever! And you can come stay with us too, obviously. We had the cutest apartment a short walk from the centre of the village and close to the mountains. We ate some awesome food and drank far more apres than should be admitted, and just had an amazing time! Oh, and I went skiing for the first time in 20 years.........I still feel dirty!

Whistler is, as one friend put it, 'Disney in the mountains' and I think I agree!
View from the plane
Whistler during the snow.
Roxy snowboard looking out over Whistler
Us at Whistler
Caesars, Bulldogs, hot chocolates and Menchies
Oh, Canada!
Fire and Ice
Sea to sky highway!
The route down to Vancouver follows the Sea to Sky Highway - Jim drove our crazy big truck down in rain and fog. The scenery was stunning and I think made even more beautiful by the misty conditions that accompanied us. It was just such a shame we didn't get to stop at the Sea to Sky Gondola because of it!

Now, on to part two of the trip - Vancouver!

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The Details
Where we stayed
We stayed in this apartment in Glaciers Reach. It was perfect as it had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a super stocked kitchen and a hot tub. The complex was the perfect location for day and night. It was really close to the main supermarket and about a 10 minute walk into the town centre. And there was a ski bus stop over the road than ran every 10 minutes or so. We bought our lift passes through a link from the Allura website too and got a bit of a discount on them.
Where we ate and drank
We bought loads of food before we got to Whistler from a supermarket in Vancouver, so we ate breakfast and dinner in the apartment. For lunch we took mountains snacks once before we realized the food was super cheap and amazing on the hill. Our only mistake on the mountain was boarding to a vegan café when the guys wanted burgers! We kind of bar crawled around the town during Happy hours but favourites of ours were the GLC and Longhorns. Poutine and waffle fries were big hits in these places.
How we got around
We hired a truck to take us to and from Vancouver but dropped it off in the middle of the stay. In Whistler we walked round the town or got the ski bus if we had all our gear with us. 

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Chocolate at Home Canapé and Truffles kits.

Last month I was asked if I'd like to try out some chocolate kits from Chocolate at Home*. My first thought was, 'duh, it's chocolate - Yes!' but it's rude to speak to people offering you stuff like that so I was far nicer with my reply. 

And so arrived two really cute boxes containing kits to make chocolate truffles and chocolate canapés! 
I'm going to be honest, given that both the boxes would have fit through a letter box I was dubious they'd be able to contain the ingredients needed to create the truffles and canapés I knew I was  going to be making but I could not have been more wrong. They were just very cleverly packed boxes. 

I was quite surprised when I opened them that the kits were so easy. I'd set aside an afternoon to make them both as I was expecting it to require a lot of 'making' but in reality they are both very simple to do. The truffle kit came with teeny balls of chocolate to be filled with the truffle centre and the canapés came with some great pre-made chocolate cups to pipe the mixture into. 
First up I made the chocolate canapés as I had decided to take them to dinner at a friends that evening and wanted to make sure they'd be set in time. It was so simple - I just melted my mixture with some cream ready to pipe into the canapé cups - but as a sneaky addition I added a little bit of amaretto to the chocolate mix - because how could that not be an awesome addition? 

Once I had my filling mixed it was just a case of piping it into the cups.....and stopping Jim from eating it! Oh, and decorating with a few slices of orange and some of the nuts that came with the kit.....for such little work I was so impressed at how well they turned out! And they tasted delicious too!
Next up I tackled the truffles. These were simply a case of melting down the filling - but carefully as it was being piped into a chocolate surrounding so the instructions made it clear you needed to make sure it wasn't too hot, and piping it into the chocolate truffle moulds. 

Having made truffles the messy-hands-covered-in-chocolate way this was a bit of a revelation to me. It was so easy and mess free. The only messy part came when I started to dip the truffle in some melted chocolate to make the nuts stick to the outside! And even then it wasn't too bad - I just trailed chocolate all over the kitchen side! 

I bagged most of these up as a little treat for my dad as he's a huge chocolate fan and quite honestly, with the canapés we'd eaten enough sweet stuff that day!
All in all it probably took me an hour to do both which left far more time for playing with Flash - the most important weekend activity. 

The kits would be great for people who are kitchen challenged, or kids that like to get involved with baking but maybe don't have the best results......or maybe for mailing out to a friend if they need a bit of cheering up. Although at £13 and £16 they aren't the cheapest gift around. 

I did think that maybe they were a bit simplistic but then again they are probably not aimed at people who live with an ex chef who like to make everything from scratch - but that man also thought they were really delicious too so what does he know? 

*I received the kits for free but was not paid for this review. 
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The Gousto Box!

Before our holiday the kind people at Gousto sent us a food box to try*. Now if you know Jim and I you'll know that we love food, and that he's the chef in our house, so whilst we were both excited to see what was in the box - I think he might have been more excited by the contents. 
As we unpacked the box we were met with 3 compartments, one containing all the fresh, tinned and dry ingredients we needed, a cute little recipe binder that you add to as you order more boxes and an insulated bag filled with the perishables. The bag was filled with a sheep's wool that is compost able so went straight in to the neighbours compost bin once the meat was in the fridge. 

The boxes say the contain everything you need to make meals for either 2 or 4 people for 3 days at a time - and we were pretty pleasantly surprised to find that it did. So often these things require you to add bits, but every thing was included - I think we might have needed to add a drop of oil to the pan but that was it!! 
Our box contained the ingredients to make a Sicilian Pork Bake, Jerk Chicken with Rice and Beef Stroganoff. 

We started with the Stroganoff - one because it was the quickest to make and it was late on a Friday night and we'd just got home from work, and two because we really fancied pasta. The joke in our house is that Jim can take 3 hours to make beans on toast so it was really interesting (read amazing) to see that it took him pretty much the specified half an hour that the recipe suggests it will. Now, I failed massively as a blogger as I didn't take any pictures of the finished meals because, and I wont lie about this, because I was just hungry and wanted to eat. But the stroganoff was delicious. But disapointingly made in the kitchen with nothing flambéed at the table.

Our next meal was the Jerk Chicken - As I am a complete spice wimp mine was a version without any chilli in it, but Jim relished in the chance to add a bit of the scotch bonnet that came with the recipe to his portion. The chicken was lovely but my favourite was the rice - it contained kidney beans and cinnamon - something I'd never have thought of adding but really really enjoyed!

And then our last meal was the Sicilian Pork traybake. Unfortunately I am apparently a fussy eater and I'm not a fan of fennel or olives, and as these are main components of the dish after the pork, this wasn't my favourite - I basically just just ate the pork - but Jim loved it so what do I know?  
So all in all we had a great weekend sampling the Gousto box. I'll be honest I'm not sure that it's something we'd do every week as we're rarely in together for 3 full meals as we're both usually rushing off to somewhere in the evening but it's certainly something that we'll be ordering again - probably for a weekend -especially as I've had a look through the recipes available and I really want to try the Fish Burger and the Panzella Salad!

If you want to give Gousto a go - pop over to www.gousto.co.uk and use the code OHGOSH for a lovely little discount!

*We were sent the box for free but not paid for the review.
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