Foodie Tales: Blueberry-Beet Pudding

I enjoy developing new dishes as well as trying different foods when I'm dining out. But, I've recently been baking a lot and made a new pie for our weekend dessert. I cannot have much sugar in my diet, so I prefer less sweet desserts when it comes to them, if any. But, if you have dessert lovers at home, well you learn to accommodate in some way, right? Here's where you can meet in the middle. I was a stealthy baker and added a root vegetable to the pie-filling. Beets have a sweet taste anyway, so it was perfect.

This blueberry pie crumble has beets mixed in the main filling, so it's quite a healthy twist to the traditional pie or streusel, but very delicious! There's just enough sweetness to satisfy your craving, with a delightful hint of citrus lemon, and almond to balance out the earthy-fruit flavour and rich crust combination.

Ingredients: 
180g (1 1/2 cups) All-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting surface
100g (1 stick) unsalted butter (chilled)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 lemon
1 tablespoon water
pinch of kosher salt

Filling:  
45g (1/4 cup) icing sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
25g (1/4 cup) roasted red beets, chopped small (the size of blueberries)
500g-700g (or 3 cups-5 cups) Maine blueberries - frozen

Crumble:  
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 tablespoons icing sugar/confectioners' sugar
60g (or 1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons) All-purpose flour

Yield: Serves 4-6, or 4 generous servings  
Prep: 10 min. Bake: 35-40 minutes 180 C / 350 F

Method: 

  1. Making the pastry: combine the flour, butter, kosher salt, brown sugar and coconut sugar in a food processor. Mix on a medium speed for about 20-25 seconds, until the mixture has a loose soil texture. Gradually add 1 tablespoon water in the food processor as it's running, until the mixture comes together into a dough. Check the dough. You may need to add a little more flour or water. 
  2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rough circle. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
  3. In a medium bowl, pour in the blueberries and beets together. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon icing sugar on top. Mix for about 5 seconds with a spoon. Set aside. 
  4. Next, make filling: mix together the egg yolks, icing sugar, fresh squeezed lemon juice, almond extract, and lemon zest in a bowl. 
  5. In a separate bowl combine the crumble ingredients until the mixture has a sand-like consistency. Preheat the oven to 180°C. 
  6. Take out dough/pastry. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled pastry to a thin layer (approx. 4 mm). Next, line the base of a 4 cm or 5 cm deep, 20–25 cm round ceramic baking dish with the pastry. 
  7. Spread the filling over the base, then fill it with the blueberries and chopped beets, and disperse crumble mixture on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the pastry is browned, and some of the crumble is browned slightly. Serve warm with a dollop of fresh cream.


Side notes: you can buy frozen beets, or beet slices already cut if you prefer. You may need to add an additional 5-10 minutes to cooking time if frozen. I used the convection oven. *Step 2 alternative: after rolling out dough, it can also be chilled in your baking dish if you prefer. Pressing the dough and forming it with your hands in a thin layer in your baking dish or baking tin, build up dough on sides of baking dish for extra crust. Then, place in freezer for 30 min.


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Life and Insta-Living Vol. VIII

It has been quite a week for me, and I will keep it brief given the situation. I had a family emergency over the weekend, so I was up most of the weekend and my mum was in hospital for surgery. I had to fly for work, then to my sister's place in the span of a few days, so needless to say I am beyond exhausted. All is well now with everything and my mother is already doing better, but I just wanted to let you know this is why I've been a bit away from the blog. Life happens, and family is too important to not make it priority.

As a side note, I racked up a massive amount of air miles in the process, but I may need some eye serum to keep me from looking like a scarecrow.

Staying positive, here are some snippets of my August and September lifestyle moments. Some included new beauty favourites (Periconne M.D., and Dr. Brandt primer), baking with a healthy twist (recipe coming soon), painting vintage French ashtrays in gold, creating our own take-away with baskets I bought for homemade garlic-truffle fries, and autumn decorating.

Don't worry, I have loads of inspiration, fashion posts, and amazing recipes to share with you soon. I will return to the blog come next Monday if not before, so stay tuned.

Thanks so much for all of your lovely comments on my last post, and a special thanks to those who also sent me kind messages. Looking forward to visiting your lovely blogs very soon. I will be on Twitter periodically, but Instagram mostly, because I find it the best way to get inspired (tech-wise) without words. Plus, I love checking out your stylish photos — don't be a stranger, engage, send me your favourite quote, something that made you smile, or let me know what was the best part of your day.
 
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The Art of Décor

There's no time like the present to be inspired for the home than when autumn arrives. And, given the fact that the fall season is literally ushering itself right at our doorsteps in the coming weeks, if you're like me, then of course you may want to have a cushy celebration. There's plenty of time to start your planning, but just in case you need to get motivated, I'm here to help.


We're not exactly carving out jack-o-lanterns just yet, however autumn is my favourite season, and we decided on a harvest brunch gathering in lieu of our usual seasonal themed dinner.

I partnered with Carol and Company to show you how to style dissimilar décor pieces, but give them a seasonal elegance. For this tablescape the theme was a polished, but rustic setting. It has a modern and vintage aesthetic overall.  

We fell in love with a nearby farmhouse along the way, so I used that as my main influence. The juxtaposition of certain elements, such as the copper against the printed paper, and the wood pieces alongside fine china made all the difference in styling. Here, I used both, a table runner and tablecloth together; making an unconventional and elaborate display that also expresses my style.
Kitchen Papers have created a brilliant eco-friendly paper table runner — the vintage-inspired print (of utensils) has a versatile charm. You can go for a countryside style or blend it with diverse elements as I did here. If you're awfully smart, then you might even reuse the table runner again, which would also be perfect for a stylish picnic table, outdoor garden party, or custom cut for smaller size tables.

The charming egg cups are designed by Rae Dunn and were an excellent addition for a hint of sophistication to the setting.

Our table has a retro, warm, and intimate elegance about it that I loved. The rich bold colours, and varied heights of garden and floral pieces give the table an autumn attitude of comfort. It's relaxed and inviting, but not too laid-back.

Autumn In the Details:
If you're looking to spice up classic fall elements like gourds and pumpkins, try using cattails and branches. I incorporated medley for the centrepiece: Chinese lanterns, dried flowers, silk flowers, and cattails to make it naturally suiting for the tablescape.

To add glistening accents to the tabletop, glass acorns and pumpkin pieces were placed atop the table runner. I also used the handy punch to create miniature tree cut-outs.

Making the centrepiece was another enjoyable part for me, and the main attraction, per se — burlap, printed grosgrain ribbon, and rocks added a favourable layer of dimension to the bouquet arrangement.

I hope that you were inspired by this tablescape. What do you think of my table?


Are you decorating your home for the autumn season?


The goods: Printed Utensils table runner by Kitchen Papers, and Egg cups set by Rae Dunn-Provided by Carol and Company, Gourds/Pumpkins-(Buy similar), -Silk leaves-(Buy Similar), Chinese Lanterns, and Cattails-Interior design mart, Lace tablecloth-Vintage, Dinnerware-Reed and Barton (Buy similar), Sheffield China, Eco-printed napkins-c/o Gudrun Sjoden, Handmade centrepiece-Fashion Tales, Leaf/Branch paper punch-Martha Stewart (Buy it here).



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Hugo Boss x Tessuti

UK fashion retailer, Tessuti carries men's designer sportswear and men's accessories, including Hugo Boss. Their latest project involved with Hugo Boss provides your man with the ultimate luxury gift box.

This post is dedicated to the men, and it's always a treat when Mister FT can use some luxe goods for his dapper style. This Tessuti designer gift box is fitted with the absolute starter style "essentials," and more! There's nothing like a man dressed smart, and one who owns proper grooming accessories. This is why he's excited, the box included the following:

  • Hugo Boss leather notebook  
  • Tessuti branded flask 
  • Hugo Boss silk pocket square
  • Tessuti branded pen with leather box 
  • Hugo Boss polo shirt 
  • MenRock shaving accessories (brush, and shave cream in sandalwood) 


Have you shopped at Tessuti stores? 

The goods: Men's Tessuti gift box-Courtesy of Tessuti. Some items can be bought online.
You can shop online for both, menswear and womenswear at www.tessuti.co.uk, or check any of Tessuti's store locations here
Shop Hugo BOSS
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WEEKEND: Links, Style, and Inspiration

I hope that your weekend is going well. As I'm travelling to a very quick weekend away (a semi-autumn wedding of a friend), I wanted to share this post with you. I was fortunate to be included in the round-up of the week on IFB's Links à la Mode. There's much inspiration including tips on finding time for blogging, and a post dedicated to one of my own favourite fashionistas, Tilda Swinton. Check out some of the other posts by fellow bloggers below.

Looking forward to sharing some fun projects, creative styling, and autumn inspiration with you soon.



SPONSOR: Amazon's Shopbop WAYFJames PerseM MissoniL.K. BennettEquipmentTie Neck BlousesPlaid BlousesLeather PantsLace DressesMen's Crew Neck Sweatshirts



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Party Planning with Party Pail



We had a small surprise get together for a friend and crew member that had been away, which ended up being a big reveal that she was having a baby girl. Little did we know that it would be a double celebration.

When it comes to entertaining, creating a fun setting even on a smaller scale can be challenging without the proper party essentials. Online party supplier, Party Pail offers a multitude of options for special occasions and events in their store. Whether you're planning a birthday party, anniversary, or even a wedding reception, there's plenty of selections to choose from and be inspired by.

I wanted to show you some of their trimming pieces that I used for a recent styling shoot. I decided to add some hand crafted décor for this intimate gathering as well. I loved the magenta colour in the MADHOUSE black orchid plates, which were part of the main colour focus. The abstract print was also incredibly eye-catching.

These DIY tassels are made from crepe paper. I gently pulled on some of the strips to add depth to the overall aesthetic. The paper flowers (and tassels) were made from this tutorial. This was an adorable way to have an early afternoon respite and catch up with the ladies.

Style Ideas In a Pinch: 
Pressed for time? No worries, use a Sharpie or metallic marker to draw simple shapes or doodles on balloons to give your theme personality. I drew random squiggled lines in different scales. Marbles and acrylic beads also worked well as my embellishment to the balloons.

I added loose sequins, giving the slight addition of sparkle to the table top.
Cut pieces of streamers in an ice bucket and have them drape down, then fill the bucket with paper flowers and balloons. These are some concepts that I created for our themed decorations.

Here are three of my style tips below to help make your table decorating (with prints and patterns) easier.

print tipsHow to decorate DIY party
What do you think of our fun table gathering? 


The goods: MADHOUSE Black orchid melamine dessert plates (similar collection), Striped straws, and crepe paper/streamers in black and magenta, Mini curved plastic plates-Courtesy of Party Pail. Metal ice bucket (buy similar), White streamers-Art supply, Polka dot straws-Target. Wall stencil decal-eBayTassels-DIY, Paper flowers-DIY, Floral painted teapot-Arthur Wood-Donegal. Truffle recipe here. Maple cashew and maca yoghurt recipe here



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DIY Décor: Paper Trimmings

I love to use old and new elements for entertaining décor, and I have a tendency to make a lot of trimmings year round from materials that we already have. There's remnants of fabric, paper, etc. Hence, there's usually not much that goes to waste with my home projects.

This week I will show you some very simple and stylish ways to incorporate trimming details, which is also perfect for the transitioning season into autumn (just swap out these colour combinations with your themed hues).


Lately, I've been reminiscing about creating 3-dimensional paper flower cards for family members  a childhood pastime. and one of many art projects that we learnt in school. These paper flowers and tassels that I created below are just two simple ways to spruce up any environment, in this case it was apart of an event that I recently decorated, so stay tuned.

You can really save a lot of money by making it yourself if you have the time. This is a basic formula to use for paper flowers and tassels, then you can get really complex the more that you create. For the tassels, I also made a few other versions using Mylar and metallic tissue paper for another project.

Materials: 
1 package of solid tissue paper, (cut in 10 cm x 20 cm strips)
Crepe paper
Scissors
Jute twine, or yarn
Ruler (optional)
Sequins (optional)
Stapler (optional)

Flowers
I used four to eight sheets of tissue paper since I made medium and large full flowers. *(Note: To start, you may cut the sheets in half to lessen the scale of the flower, or fold the sheets of stacked tissue paper in half twice). *My smallest flowers were cut at approx. 20 cm for length x 10 cm wide to start. Cutting your stacked sheets ahead makes it a lot easier.
How to make paper flowers DIY
  1. Stack the four sheets of cut tissue paper on a flat surface. 
  2. Fold the paper in a fan-like style (accordion shape) approx. 6-8 folds. Make sure it's as even as possible. As you fold, give each crease a firm press with your fingers. 
  3. Next, staple the centre of your tissue paper, or if you're hanging your flowers, then make one small slit on each side at the centre of the folded tissue, and attach the string by tying knot, floral wire also works well. (see image)
  4. To make petal edges, line up edges at centre and trim the edges of the tissue paper at a point. You can also make the edges rounded, etc. 
  5. Start slowly separating each layer of the tissue paper, forming a gathered bunch upward (this makes the flower). Using your fingers, pull each layer from the inside outward to fluff your flower. Adjust tissue paper for petal as desired. You can make them as large or small as you prefer. If you grab the bottoms of the flowers it gives you a more defined flower bottom. 
I added silk stems and leaves to the bouquet as well. 
How to Make Paper Flowers

Tassels:  
Determine how short or long you want your tassels (don't worry if you make them too long you can always cut them at the end). I made mine approx. 28 cm long. Crepe paper comes in varied widths. I used approx. 4 cm-5 cm width.
DIY Tassels
  1.  Fold your preferred length of crepe paper in half (I used approx. 56 cm as my length then folded it in half = 28 cm). Repeat this step until you have 3 sheets of crepe paper. 
  2. Line each piece up folded on top of one another, and carefully start cutting crepe paper in even strips from bottom to the top, but leaving approx. 3 cm of crepe paper uncut. (*You may use a paper weight or small piece of tape if needed to hold in place as you cut).
  3. Unfold each of the crepe sheets flattened, and lay them on top of each other. Next, start to roll the layered pieces together tightly along the uncut area (the centre) of the crepe paper. 
  4. Using your hands, twist the rolled piece tightly in opposite directions to form a loop. *I simply twisted the bottom of the loop closed, which works well if you have a firm hand, otherwise use tape or decorative adhesive trim to hold loop together. Repeat steps 1-4 to make other tassels.
  5. Now add the tassels to your cut yarn or twine to hang, and enjoy the party. 

That’s it, voila! It's such a great way to give character to your décor, and add a bit of elegance and style. Stay tuned, you will see these in a feature coming up soon. I also made sequins tassels, and hand painted flowers.

What do you think of these paper trims?  
*See the fabulous tassel garland styled here.

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Lodge Creations: Kitchen Traditions

Lodge has been making their cast-iron cookware for over 100 years, and for good reason — excellent quality, craftsmanship, and longevity. Cast-iron cookware is also amongst many serious cook's prime favourites to use.

In collaboration with Lodge Manufacturing Company, I christened my very first cast-iron skillet in the kitchen and trust me it did not disappoint. I used a foundry preseasoned twelve-inch skillet to fry, sear, blacken, bake, and more in the past few weeks.

Now, I understand why my grandmother, and even my great-grandmother always had a cast-iron in their kitchen for certain dishes… there's a difference in cooking when you use a cast-iron, but it's the cook's preference. Some people swear by them, and others prefer to use non-stick pans for most cooking. I use both. I also have an enamel dutch oven that I use, and knew that I'd eventually want to use a cast-iron skillet for cooking after growing up with one.

I recently had the pleasure to review the cookbook, Cast-Iron Nation by Lodge. As a home cook and gastronome myself perusing through this cookery book was very exciting, as I've not had many of these dishes. I must admit, it was enjoyable to read through the recipes and choose which ones I was going to try out for our dinners and weekend gatherings. I was up for the challenge, so I went forth and began to read, flip, and plan.

The layout of this book is helpful because it provides the reader with good insight on the founding family (Joseph Lodge), as well as blurbs about each recipe with their authors. It's easy to follow and includes tips for proper cast-iron care, and essential information about how to re-season your pan.

I love Thai food, so my first recipe to try was the Drunken Noodles (seen below) with Thai chiles, it's quite popular. I opted to do a vegetarian style using mushrooms and cauliflower as the main focus. I've had a similar dish with prawns, only with Chinese lo mein, so I knew that I would like this one.

The irony in this recipe is that there isn't any alcohol at all, the recipe comes from St. Louis, Missouri cookbook author, Naam Pruitt. She states, that "because of it's spiciness, it's supposed to sober you up!" Nevertheless, that did not deter us, we are a spicy-cuisine enthused household, and it was delicious!

Above: Texas fried cat fish, and Veggie (cauliflower/tomato, etc.), and truffle pan pizza.

What's Cooking Inside


This Cast-Iron Nation cookbook contains a plethora of great American cuisine. The book has recipes from top chefs, and cooking teachers to restaurant owners, and food bloggers. And, there's mouth-watering images to make you close your eyes and wish you could take a heaping bite of something straight through the pages. Another benefit is that if you cook by weight like me, then you will be happy to know that there are easy to understand cooking equivalents with a chart in the back of the book.

There is an abundance of specialty recipes from all over the US, including many Southern associated dishes, such as cornbread, some with modern twists. However, you'll also find a North-western recipe like Chef Kären Jurgensen's Rosemary and Bay-Poached Peppers and Eggs. Then, there's cleverly titled sides, like the Potato "Lodgekes" (latkes) by writer Peter Kaminsky that will just make you smile — these were also good by the way, but we added red pepper oil to give it a bit of a kick!

I used my cast-iron to cook a few of my own favourites: pecan pancakes, cauliflower-blue cheese pizza seen above (with a minced truffle homemade crust, of course), and grilled cheese with tomatoes, fresh basil, and Gruyère. Go ahead and drool, I'll wait ...

I'm looking forward to using this skillet to experiment with new dishes, perhaps make "grandmother's apple cake" found on page 270, or my mum's baked French Toast, a family favourite. I will periodically let you know when I try even more recipes from this cookbook. I think I'll definitely make the Winter Vegetable Chili soon, although tonight's request is Trout Almondine.

One thing that's seems to hold true with everyone that I encounter who have used a Lodge cast-iron is that it will certainly last a very long time.

Thank-you Lodge for welcoming me into the family.


Have you or anyone in your family used a Lodge cast-iron before?  
The goods12" Cast-iron Skillet, and Lodge Cast Iron Nation cookbook (Buy it here)-Provided by Lodge Manufacturing Company. Shop the brand and other Lodge accessories here
*Interested in knowing how these iconic cast-irons are made, then view this video.


Shop Lodge Cookware


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