The Unicorn Cookbook is coming!

When I begun this online baking adventure 5 years ago, I always had a dream that one day in the future I’d get the opportunity to turn these online pages into my own cookbook. What I didn’t quite realise is that it would happen this soon.

My little notebook is full of creative ideas be it recipes, cookbook titles or baking business plans, but when the opportunity came knocking to partner with Urban Outfitters and create The Unicorn Cookbook I simply couldn’t say no. From that moment on it’s been nothing but a whirlwind of excitement, exhaustion and pure happiness. I can’t say it’s been an easy process but making a dream come true was never going to be, and looking back, the entire process has taught me so much. Moreover, I’m so proud to be able to flick through the pages and say that all the recipe ideas, styling, photography and the writing is ME, and believe me as my own worst critic it’s takes a lot for me to be proud of myself.

So with that I am absolutely delighted to announce that on 12th October The Unicorn Cookbook hits the shelves exclusively with Urban Outfitters.

What’s it about? Well in a nutshell…it brings to life the magical realm of mighty Unicorns. Brimming with sparkles and rainbows it features recipes such as The Magical Explosion show stopper cake to Dreams on Toast and is packed with more ideas perfect for parties and times when all you want to do is spread some joy and unleash your inner unicorn.

I’m so excited for you all to see it and really hope you love it as much as I do. Keep your eyes peeled for more announcements, teaser recipes and giveaways as the launch date approaches over on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages.

12.10.17 the countdown is on!! #TheUnicornCookbook

 

Behind the scenes at a Whole Foods Market & the best brownies I’ve ever made!


Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a Whole Foods Market. From freshly ground coffee, an array of savoury artisan breads and delicious sweet treats the bakeries have all the goods to make anyone’s day delightful and a few sunny weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting all the bakers in the High Street Kensington Branch to gain an insight into their world.

Whole Foods Market is well known for their organic approach in baking, only using eggs that are free-range and non GMO fed and only using flour that is unbleached and unbromated. You also won’t catch any artificial colours, flavours, sweetness or preservatives in any of the food they sell which means when you walk into theirs stores and smell the amazing aroma of freshly baked breads and cakes, you know that you’ll have a hard task finding anything better.

So what happened during my visit and where do the best brownies ever come into it? Take a read on and let’s find out.


08:30 – The introduction

I arrived at 8:30am sharp to the welcome of Madga, one of the Whole Foods Market bakers. As she stood equipped with chef whites and a net cap, it was clear the outfit I’d selected for the tour was not worth the anguish the night previous but needs must for food safety and as I adorned the chef whites and net cap i suddenly felt like part of the team. So with that off we went on the Whole Foods Market tour…first stop The Bakery.


08:45 – The Bakery

The bakery was possibly the most impressive part of my visit with their sour dough line up a particular highlight – I wish I could have bottled that smell and taken it with me, but instead I settled for tasting as many of the different flavours as I could.  That smell wouldnt have been possible without their starter who I was delighted to be introduced to. Aptly name “The Mother” she took pride of place in their tiny kitchen bubbling away waiting for her next feed. I’ve always been fascinated by bread and used to wonder why on earth people named their sour dough starters, but to see how alive “The Mother” was made it so clear that they deserve a title and she in particular deserves that name.

Their Kensington branch is of few stores who bake their bread daily, using the freshest ingredients including Shipton Mill Organic Flour. Whatever bread you’re after, you’ll find as they offer so much choice from sourdough, focaccia, bagels, ciabatta and crusty French sticks which I was able to see being both shaped and baked before being whisked away and taken up to the Patisserie kitchen.


09:15 – The Patisserie

Eventually Madga managed to get me out of the bakery and upstairs to the cool patisserie kitchen which was a warm welcome on that hot morning. I was visiting on a particularly quiet day but nevertheless the bakers were busy in their day getting all the delicious cakes and tarts ready for the shop floor. In one corner a baker was busy decorating the chocolate orange….while in the other corner another was bringing out freshly baked croissants and lining them onto trollies.

I was fascinated how much they had got prepared that early in the morning but Madga confirmed that they had lots of mix ready made in large batches which saves time. She took me into their cold store to show me and I was distracted by their mince pie filling.

“Have you already got mince pies in preparation” I asked

“Yes of course Christmas is in full swing,  we have to start preparing our flavours at least a year in advance” she replied ”

I was in awe of their organisation and loved watching all the bakers bustling in and out of the cold store, grabbing things here and there but smiling all the way. It was so clear they loved their jobs, and I’m not surprised.

As we left the cold store I was distracted again by their huge ovens to the left of me.

“Ohhh what’s in there?” I asked as I peeked into the window of their giant oven.

“Ahh those are our brownies” Magda replied, as one of the bakers opened the door to bring them out releasing what I can only describe as the smell of heaven.

“Oh wow okay so I’m going to need the recipe for these please” I begged

Madga laughed “Of course” as if that wasn’t the first time she’d been asked that question

 


09:45 – Shopping

After the tour and with my mind set on getting home and baking those brownies ASAP, it was time to buy some ingredients using some of Whole Foods finest.

First stop was of course Shipton Mill Organic Flour and I wanted to get as big a bag as I could carry on the train so opted for the 2.5k packet.

If I was making brownies I obviously needed chocolate so second stop was their chocolate aisle on the hunt for some unique and organic chocolate to use. I was determined to use something I’d never used or even seen before and found BlanxArt. This was the perfect choice as it was one of the creamiest dark chocolates I’ve ever tasted.

I also wanted to try some different sugar to the standard caster sugar which has been a staple in all my baking for all these years. I was keen to try something new and also as organic as I could find so opted for Equal Exchange Organic Raw Cane Sugar.

I could have easily spent longer browsing their aisles and filling my trolley with every wild and wonderful new ingredient I stumbled upon but my strength can only go so far so I had to stop there…next time I’ll be bring reinforcements.

For all ingredients visit your local Whole Foods Market of visit WholefoodsMarket.com.


WHOLEFOODS| THE BEST BROWNIES EVER


Makes|16 Brownies

Preparation time| 30 minutes

Baking time| 45 minutes


550g sugar

350g unsalted butter

6 eggs

400g good quality dark chocolate

350g flour

190g chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3 and grease a 20cm x 20cm brownie tin.

In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the 400g chocolate until smooth.

Melt the butter slowly in a pan then pour over the smooth chocolate and whisk the two together until silky.

Leave the chocolate/butter mixture to cool for 5 minutes.

In another large bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together until combined, but try not to overwhisk as you don’t want to add in too much air.

Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and sugar mixture and combine well

Sift the flour into the mixture and add the chocolate chips then carefully fold it all together using a large metal spoon.

Pour the batter into your prepared brownie tin and bake in the centre of your oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour checking.

You want the centre to still be a little wobbly when you remove the brownie from the oven as this is what ensures you get the gooey brownies we all dream of.

Leave them to cool on a wire rack for a few hours or overnight (covered with a tea towel) then cut them into 16 equal squares and dust with some icing sugar.

Serve with strawberries and cream for the ultimate brownie dessert.

Alternative additions

300g chopped hazlenuts

300g chopped macadamia nuts

550g white chocolate chips

For more information on Whole Foods Market UK and any of the ingredients I’ve used for The Brownies please visit http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/kensington or pop into one of their many stores around the UK.

 

 

 

 

Pip & Nut | Nut Butter Balls & Cookbook Review

You know you’re an official Nut Butter Nutter when you get as excited as I did seeing that my favourite nut butter brand Pip&Nut had created a beautifully presented cookbook.  Dedicated to the versatility that nut butter has in the kitchen the book begins with a brief but very interesting introduction into Pip Murray and how she launched her business in 2015. It then goes on to talk about the humble nut (and seeds I should add), the various types and their healthy benefits followed by a quick lesson on nutrition and the importance of protein and ‘good fats’ in a healthy diet. Finally, before it gets onto the recipes we’re given a step-by-step guide on making you own DIY Nut Butter – perhaps my favourite part of the whole cookbook.

“The Nut Butter Cookbook takes the most simple and straight forward ideas and turns them into over 70 delicious, beautiful works of art”

It’s very rare that you’ll catch me reading a cookbook like a novel, but the evening this arrived it came with me bed and I read through the first half word for word.

I never knew quite how many uses there were for one of the hottest condiments on the shelf but The Nut Butter Cookbook takes the most simple and straight forward ideas and turns them into over 70 delicious, beautiful works of art. Take toast as an example. To us peanut butter on toast is a convenience meal, something we slap together in a hurry as we rush out of the door in the morning or need a quick snack. Pip&Nut make toast a meal to be taken seriously, so seriously that they have a whole section of the book dedicated to it. From Chilli and Coriander to Grated Apple and Maple Syrup you could quite literally have nut butter on toast for breakfast lunch and dinner. I had the pleasure of trying their Chilli and Coriander Peanut Butter on toast during one of their events last week and it was probably the best slice of toast I’ve ever eaten.

This theme of simple and delicious ideas runs throughout the book with savoury, sweet and liquid recipes. Obviously one of my first ports of call was their baking section. From tarts, muffins, brownies through to smaller bites like the Cashew Oatmeal Drops and Protein Balls I made last weekend, there isn’t a recipe in there that is too complex or difficult to replicate.

I’m not new to a Protein Ball, and followers of this blog will know that I’ve made plenty before. However, previously I’ve included oats in them all as my way of keeping them filling. The Pip & Nut version doesn’t have an oat in sight meaning they’re completely gluten/carb free and use the energy from the nuts and dates to fill you up. The best thing about these balls is that you can experiment as much as you like. Pip gives you the base ingredients and then asks you to follow a ‘pick and mix’ style method, suggesting the nut butters and ingredients to use as the fillers and coating. There are no hard and fast rules though and with these you can certainly colour outside the lines by adding whatever takes your fancy – in fact Pip welcomes that, it’s just the combinations she suggests are the ones we know work perfectly.

“There are no hard and fast rules though and with these you can certainly colour outside the lines by adding whatever takes your fancy”

I’ve included the recipe below for the two flavours I made | Pistachio, Cacao and Cashew Butter and Cacao, Chia and Coconut Almond Butter. Both are equally as delicious as the other..seriously I can’t make a decision on which is better. Have a go for yourself and let me know which you prefer?

Head to your nearest Wholefoods or Oliver Bonas to find the book OR simply order online at Amazon (if you’re prime it’ll be with you by lunchtime the very next day)

You can find most Pip&Nut Nut Butters in your large grocery stores, Wholefood supermarkets or head to her website an buy direct from there – http://www.pipandnut.com/shop/



Makes | 15 -18 balls

Preparation time | 20 minutes


The Base

60g raw almonds

120g date, pitted

40g dried cherries/cranberry


Nut Butters

Cashew Butter

Coconut Almond Butter


The Filling

20g chopped almonds, pecans and pistachios

2 tbsp. cacao

1 tbsp. chia seeds


The Topping

Finely chopped pistachios

3 tbsp. cacao


Pistachio, Cacao and Cashew Butter

Blitz the base ingredients in a food processor for 3-5 minutes or until it forms a sticky dough.

Add 2 tbsp. cashew butter, the mixed chopped nuts and 1 tbsp. cacao and blitz again until combined. but not completely smooth so you keep some texture.

Pour the finely chopped pistachios onto a plate, then take a tsp of the mixture and roll it between your hands to make a bite-sized ball.

Roll each ball around in the chopped pistachios until coated.

Store refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to a week.


Cacao, Chia and Coconut Almond Butter

Blitz the base ingredients in a food processor for 3-5 minutes or until it forms a sticky dough.

Add 2 tbsp. coconut almond butter, the mixed chia seeds and 1 tbsp. cacao and blitz again until combined. but not completely smooth so you keep some texture.

Pour the caao powder onto a plate, then take a tsp of the mixture and roll it between your hands to make a bite-sized ball.

Roll each ball around in the cacao until coated.

Store refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to a week.