29/03

I start work at 7:30 am some mornings, and although its early I often have a lot of time just to think. London is a little bit quieter at 6:30 on my journey in…

In the past 3 weeks, I suffered a bad MCL knee injury (ligament related), which I am still having diagnostic tests and treatment for. I didn’t realise how much it had got me down until someone at work asked me why I was so quiet and not as cheerful as I usually am. And then I took a second to think, and actually reflected on how I had been acting for the past few weeks, and it was pretty shitty – even if I hadn’t actually realised it.

When I think about it now, I do feel really selfish. Although the pain is moderate, it isn’t actually that getting me down, but the fact that I can’t exercise for a while or play volleyball! Which in the scheme of things, isn’t actually that bad!

As I’m quite active most days, it was a shock to the system to not be able to walk properly, and I think it just built up all these negative emotions, that other people could see! I have had a lot of help too, which some people don’t get. I live about 20 minutes walk from my Station on my journey to work, so my Mum has been dropping me every day, bless her!

I know things could be a lot worse…. so I am trying my hardest to remain positive. I have actually now considered how hard it is for people on crutches or with knee trouble to get around in the City, to be honest I used to be an impatient Londoner, briskly walking within the sea of commuters, but I can now empathise with those that are a little slower… especially because for now I am one of them.

I have also spoken to so many others on the tube or overground that get on with their crutches or knee supports, and its sparked so many conversations. Some are injured from Sport or fitness related like myself, and some from a fall, or general joint trouble. I didn’t realise how common they were, and how many people suffer. It generally makes me thankful that I am still able to walk without much pain now that it’s healing, and that I will be able to in the future, and I know some people won’t.

Stay Positiveeee!

Elena xxx

Raspberry & Chia Seed Jam

Simple Sweetness without the Sugar!

This is my favourite berry mix that I put on top of oats, with yoghurt, or on peanut butter on toast.

Ingredients
150g Frozen Raspberries
150g Frozen Blueberries
150g Fresh Raspberries
150g Fresh Blueberries
1 Medium Orange – Juiced
2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds
4 Tablespoons of Honey

Method
Leave the frozen berries and chia seeds to defrost overnight in the fridge or for 4 hours at room temperature.

Once defrosted, add the rest of the fresh berries and the orange juice and lightly mash. I like to leave mine a little bit lumpy instead of too runny.

Once the consistency is how you like it, spoon in the honey, adding more for sweetness.

Leave the mixture in room temperature for another hour, and then serve!

Enjoy!

Elena xxx

 

Berry & Honey Muffins

I absolutely love baking, and working full time means I rarely get to cook for my own pleasure, it’s usually just a rush to eat something before the day starts or when I come home in the evening. Over the last few years, I’ve tried to incorporate baking, cooking & experimenting with my favourite foods throughout the week instead of waiting until the weekend.

As well as being a lover of everything sweet, I am also health concious and do try to modify traditional recipes so they suit the eating habits I like. Simple things like using natural honey and cinnamon instead of sugar, oats and brans instead of flour all make a difference in a recipes nutritional factor.

Today was Berries & Honey Breakfast Muffins (or a snack), I can make these on a Sunday and enjoy them for an on-the-go breakfast throughout the week, as they will keep for 5 days in an airtight container. So here’s the recipe, which can be adapted with different fruits and flavours depending on your taste :)

Ingredients

2 Large Ripe Bananas
250g Porridge Oats
2 Large Eggs
2 Tablespoons Greek Yoghurt
2 Tablespoons Natural Honey
1 Tablespoon Natural Peanut butter
1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
1-2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Blueberries
Raspberries
(Make it as fruity as you want!)

Method

Pre heat the oven to Gas Mark 4, and grease a 12 dip muffin tray.

In a blender, add the oats, bananas, Eggs, Greek Yoghurt, Peanut butter, and Honey. Blend until almost smooth (a few chunky bits will just give the muffins extra bite).

Once blended, pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the vanilla extract, cinnamon and chia seeds.

In a pan, add half the blueberries and raspberries that you want in the muffins, and heat up until runny. Once hot, marble the fruit through the Muffin mixture.

Spoon the mix into the muffin tray. Add the last of the berries on top, as these will slowly soften whilst in the oven.

Place into the oven and cook for 15 minutes! (Check and 10 minutes and then leave them for an extra 5).

Enjoy!

Elena xxx

The Day I Left My Home Pt.1

I think about returning
as I start to wake,
I let myself get lost in a golden haze
of soaring sun and childhood days
before I sink back into the unknown.
My daughter slumped on the back of her brother
across one border to another
lessening the load for his mother
as I attempt to fight our way,
over seas and ideologies
in search of a safer place for us to stay
which started that day
I left my home.

 

Christmas Baking – Crumbled Pies & A Cinnamon Swirl

Crumbled Pies

Ingrediants

100g Unsalted Butter
200g White Flour
Dusting of Icing Sugar
1 Grated Orange Zest
1/2 Grated Lemon Zest
200g Mincemeat

Topping
25g Ground Almond
2 Tsp Sweetened Cinnamon
25g Unsalted Melted Butter
26g Soft Light Brown Sugar

Method

Heat the Oven to Gas Mark 4 and grease 16 hole muffin tins. (I use one of 12 and one of 4 as this is what I have in the kitchen).

To make the Pie Pastry, rub together with your fingertips, the butter and white flour. You should do this until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Add the grated orange and lemon zest with the icing sugar.

To turn this into a dough, mix in a splash of water, around 3 tablespoons should do. You can always add more if it fails to come together.

Once it has formed, lightly knead and then set aside to chill – this needs to be about 20 minutes so the dough has time to develop.

Once time is up, roll dough on a lightly floured surface.

Once rolled, cut out with circular cutters until you have 16, re-rolling to get as many as needed.

Fill each hole with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat, I usually like to sprinkle some cinnamon on the top here, but this isn’t to everyone’s taste.

Topping

Mix together all the ingredients needed for the topping, ground almond, cinnamon, melted butter and soft light brown sugar. This should also resemble breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the mince pies. Drizzle with honey, or a sprinle of almond flakes, you can experiment with different flavours here!

Cook on Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes, checking after 10, when they are golden brown, good to serve & enjoy Hot or Cold.

Enjoy!

Elena xxx

 

Drinking & Dining in London Hot-Spots

London. One of the most vibrant cities in the world and yet most of us can’t decide where to spend our lunchtimes, evenings or weekends. From drinking in the cocktail bars of Soho to dining in five star restaurants of Canary Wharf, (or grabbing a pizza from an ‘eat with your hands’ takeaway) it’s time we tapped into all that London has to offer…

After working for a company that opened my eyes to the world of client entertaining, I decided (without much self-persuasion) to explore some of the cities culinary kitchens, sky-high watering holes, scenic hot-spots and hidden gems to bring you some of the all the venues I have found to be perfect for socializing on a reasonable budget. 

Oyster Shed

Angel Lane, Monument

What to try: Pearl Barley and Wild Mushroom Risotto, Red Cabbage Steak, Crème Fraiche

Tucked away beneath new office builds, The Oyster Shed sits quaintly alongside the Thames. On approach it’s difficult to determine what you are walking into, but the inside opens up into a spacious mezzanine dinning area that is light, bright and airy. The floor to ceiling windows stream in the cities’ sunlight. Quoted as a Gastro-pub, the Shed over exceeds with it’s adventurous specials menu, extensive wine list and fabulous views of the river. The delicious flavors of the pearl barley risotto were both soft and rich, and the red cabbage steak unlike anything I had ever seen – all presented with perfect precision. The laid-back friendly atmosphere is perfect for a working lunch or casual evening drink, and definitely worth the hunt to find!

Book Here →

Jamon Jamon

Soho, Camden, Islington 

What to try: Mixta paella (seafood and chicken), Parrillada de Carne (meat barbecue) 

The authentic taste of Española found in London. Jamon Jamon offers a fantastic range of Spanish dishes with plenty of kick. The Meat platters and tapas plates are particularly impressive served in generous portions by friendly attentive staff. Emphatic with intimate tables its better suited for a dinner with friends that a quiet date, but the happy go lucky atmosphere makes you feel like you are amidst a Spanish fiesta. I would recommend trying the sangria, but they boast a varied wine collection too, and the waiters will usually suggest one for your meal choice.

Book Here →

Haz

Bishopsgate, St Pauls, Premier Place, Houndsditch

Haz_menu-8
What to try: Kalamar (Fried squid rocket and yoghurt sauce), Cevizli Kasarli Kofte (Grilled minced lamb with walnuts & halloumi cheese)

Turkish cuisine with a elegant twist. With all authentic ingredients, Haz turns a simple kebab into a meaty masterpiece.  The menu displays all the cultures classics including mixed meze platters, charcoal grills and a sizable selection of seafood including fried sea bass and grilled swordfish. The venues itself is stunning with a spacious dinning area that overlooks the professional kitchens and abundant wine cupboards. Genuine hospitality, scrumptious food and generous portions.

Book Here →

The Blues Kitchen

Camden, Shoreditch, Brixton

AITXyOzVHd7Sobc8SE1nEh_vjjhy8e2QiXFYWcZNurw-610x406What to try: Catfish Jambalaya (Pan fried catfish fillet & prawns served with rice & peas & a Cajun spiced crayfish sauce), Three meat BBQ.

A boasting blues bar serving “Cajun comfort food”! This lively kitchen plays host to several musicians/bands throughout the week that fill the venue with life and soul. Their ever changing ‘Burger of the month’ will entice you to choose the same thing over and over again. If you are feeling adventurous the menu offers Cajun delicacies or Texan BBQ all smoked by in-house smokers with a blend of hickory, oak, mesquite and fruit woods. With the atmosphere just as inviting as the food, this is a must-visit if you are looking for a night of smooth entertainment and a satisfied stomach.

Book Here →

L’anima Cafe

Appold St, Shoreditch

LanimaCafe045What to try: Agnolotti all’ anatra (braised duck raviolli)

Translated as ‘The Soul’, L’anima deliciously lives up to its name. As one of the leading Mediterranean spots in London’s city, it offers an experience that oozes sensuality. The perfect balance between food & drink, it offers a great wine selection and lots of Italian classics with a twist. Perfect for an evening drink or meal, L’anima boasts a beautiful bar area with elegant booths and low lighting for luxurious ambiance.

Book Here →

Buona Sera

Northcote Rd, Wandsworth

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What to try:  Linguine Allo Scogliolinguine with prawns, baby squids, mussels, cherry tomatoes, garlic and chilli

The family run Italian restaurant is the picture perfect embodiment of Mediterranean food, hospitality and lifestyle. Set in the middle of South London, Buona Sera is it’s own namesake offering authentic, cosy Italian evening where friends and families dine at large tables. Reminiscent of Sicily, the menu is made up of all cultural staples and a large selection of seafood. The linguine allo scoglio is a spicy melody of prawns and pasta in a rich tomato sauce, so stay away if you don’t like the heat…or alternatively cool yourself down with the restaurants amazing selection of gelato…chocolate, hazelnut, cappuccino, orange, lemon, coconut, vanilla, strawberry..the list continues!

Book Here →

Aqua Spirit/Aqua Kyoto 

Regent St

What to try: Green tea wasabi yuzu prawn tempura

Aqua Kyoto serves contemporary style Japanese food with a side of beautiful dining in an ultra glossy rooftop setting. This is the perfect place to go for a drink as the Aqua Spirit bar is adjacent to the restaurant.The quality of the sushi is exceptionally high with explosions of flavors and presented so delicately you are almost sad to ruin the plate. The cocktails menu is packed with all the classics and served in elegant new world style glasses, perfect for a high-end evening. The rooftop terrace overlooks London’s skyline, perfect for a summers night or an evening of entertaining.

Book Here →

Dirty Martini

St Pauls, Monument, Islington, Covent Garden

What to try: New Collection Dragon fruit & pomegranate martini, Espresso martini

Located in several spots around the city, Dirty Martini is the perfect place to mix it up in drinking terms. At the heart of London’s nightlife scene, the venue itself is perfect for an evening of drinking and sophisticated socializing with friends. With an array of cocktails included in extended happy hours and platters of finger food to choose from it makes entertaining in the city seem an easy breeze.

Book Here →

 More to Explore…

Happy International Woman’s Day!

IWD.PNG

Maya Angelou – Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Simple Spaghetti From Scratch

Ingredients

6 Large Eggs
600g Italian 00 Flour

Method

Empty flour onto a board (you can use a bowl if preferred) and make a dip in the centre. Beat the Eggs and then pour into the dip.

Slowly working from the inside towards the outside of the dip, mix the eggs with the flour, running the mixture through your fingertips.

Repeat this until the Eggs and flour have combined and you have dough!

Knead the dough thoroughly, as this will allow the ingredients to develop to make the perfect pasta.

Once finished (your dough should be a silky texture) you will need to leave to cool for at least 20 minutes before rolling it out and fashioning into shapes.

Some people like to use a pasta machine, I do have one at home, but this can be done the traditional  way.

kitchen-aid-pasta-maker

If you do have a machine, then take a lump of dough (no bigger than an apple) and run through the machine – it should be on the widest setting. Do this for all dough and repeat the process 5 times.

Tip: Make sure you dust with plenty of flour so this doesn’t stick, keep sprinkling if you see it getting stuck.

This rolling process means you are working the dough, the ingredients are combining and perfecting your pasta.  If you can, try to work through all the width settings on the machine, as this will ensure you pasta is stretchy and lump free.

Once you are satisfied, roll the dough through the machine into a rectangular shape, then fold in half, and in half again until you have a square of dough. For the final time, run your ready made square through the machine until you have got a long golden piece of dough!

Now – you can choose the shape and width you like. Cut and shape away! Try to do this within a minute of rolling out the final piece.

Tip: If your dough becomes too dry, this is an indication that you may need to stop playing around with it, pasta dries out very quickly.

After either hang on a spaghetti tree or place on individual trays.

Cook and Enjoy!

Elena xxx