Lottie Loves: 44

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Instagram of the week: Autumnal evenings are for wood-burners, thick socks and the winning combination of Strictly and Downton. #oldsoul

1. Emma Watson's HeForShe speech at the UN. A perfectly crafted address that is so important and I hope its recognition will start to carry forward the ideals it sets out.

2. Lena Dunham gives great advice. I can't wait to read Not That Kind of Girl.

3. It was Josie's birthday last Wednesday. I went back home to visit her and we had quite the giggle. It's a treat to have my sister as my BFF (read: there is always someone you can share 2 for 1 cocktails with).

4. I'm so thrilled Gogglebox is back. I only started watching it last year but I loooove it! I think it's such a clever idea and these two always make me laugh

5. I cut all my hair off last week. Ok, slight exaggeration. I'm loving running my hands through it and feeling those freshly cut, blunt tips. I'm weird, ok?

6. I was inducted onto my Masters degree yesterday. It was scary and exciting and awesome. I can't wait to get cracking. Also kudos on the marketing strategy, Loughborough. #iamhere

7. Speaking of my Masters, I feel SO OLD. All the freshers have arrived back at university and they look tiny and eager and YOUNGER THAN EVER! Scary, eh? But on the subject of freshers, I enjoyed reading Simon Pegg's letter to his student self. Time to get living, chaps.

8. Isn't it satisfying to have a life laundry day? I love getting all those tiny, irritating tasks out of the way in one fell swoop and then rewarding myself with a peanut butter kitkat.

9. Glazed Apple Fritters (!!!).

10. Puppies vs. Stairs. Because every weekend (actually scrap that to every freaking day) should feature puppy videos. It's only right.

Have a happy weekend, friends!

Joy's Apple Pie Biscuits

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Whenever someone poses a challenge, I can't turn it down. I think I have my Dad to thank for that. He taught me to take all competitive events seriously, from backgammon to badminton (see 21 secrets overly competitive people will never tell you for more details) I can't help but take on a challenge with gusto. Consequently when Joy posted her second Baking Bootcamp challenge I was all YAAAASSS I must try this (even though I'm not even eligible to win... told you I was competitive). I also wanted to have a crack at these awesome Apple Pie Biscuits because 1. caramelised apples and 2. cinnamon sugar. Making these biscuits is practically good sense. So you should probably start reaching for the self-raising flour just about now.
These biscuits are just the bomb diggity straight out of the oven, but will keep for 1-2 days. But be warned, J and I polished off half of the biscuits within half an hour. They are kinda dangerous like that...
I've followed Joy's steps pretty much to the letter and only slightly adapted the recipe and cooking time due to my buttermilk substitution. Feel free to come along for the delicious ride here where I've converted the recipe into grams, or pop over to Joy the Baker for the gorgeous original post and details of how to enter Joy's Baking Bootcamp yourself!

For Joy's Apple Pie Biscuits (makes 12):

For the filling:
1 large bramley apple
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp soft brown sugar

For the biscuits:
260g self-raising flour
60g cold unsalted butter
2 tbsp granulated sugar
180g yoghurt mixed with 60ml milk (buttermilk substitution) 

For the topping:
1 egg
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 

Preheat your oven to 220c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. 
Begin with your butter. Put in a pan over a medium heat and melt. 

Peel and finely slice the apple then once the butter is all melted add them to the pan along with the cinnamon and brown sugar.

Stir with a wooden spoon and resist the urge to tip the whole thing into your face!!
Cooked until the mixture is glossy and the apples still have bite. 

Set the pan aside and then turn your attention to the biscuits. Cube the cold butter and add to a bowl along with the flour. Pinch together into breadcrumbs, as if you were making shortcrust pastry.

Stir through the sugar then make a well in the flour and add 2/3 of the yoghurt and milk mix to begin. Stir the mixture together until it is sticky and holds well. Add more yoghurt and milk mix if the mixture is too dry.

 Turn out onto a well floured surface.

Then pat into a rectangle. 

Gently roll the dough  into a rectangle about 1-2cm thick.

Now pile the apples onto one half of the dough.

And fold that baby over. Pinch the edges together and smooth until sealed.

Cut into 9 pieces and transfer to the lined baking sheet.

Beat the egg and glaze each biscuit, then mix the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle each piece generously. You can never have enough cinnamon sugar!

Bake for 14-16 minutes until golden brown and deliccccious

Instagram asap, willpower WILL be gone in a matter of seconds.  

Devour. Thanks, Joy!

Lottie Loves: 43

Friday, 19 September 2014

Instagram of the week: A throwback from Valencia. Spices make me happy.

1. I will never get over how brilliant photobombs are. Wedding photoboming = 100000 points for you.

2. Katie put up this UH-MAZING Spiced Apple Cake with Rum Caramel and Pecans. I've already decided it's going to be my cake of the Autumn. I mean RUM CARAMEL?! Oh my...

3. People - JUST EAT THE DONUT. Jheez.

4. Greying weather and falling golden leaves. These things make me so happy. I'm an Autumn gal, for sure. Chunky knits and bonfires are on their way.

5. Have you taken a peek at BBC's new iWonder page? I'm kinda in love with it. Such a good idea for curious georges like myself.

6. 15 career tips from smart women. Preach it.

7. I tried this Celeriac, Apple and Bacon salad this week. It was delish. I hadn't used celeriac raw before and found it to be quite delightful. Another recipe for the Autumn repertoire.

8. Disclaimer: this is a loser-y one. Recently J and I have been watching Classic Who Wants to be a Millionaire. It's a massive guilty pleasure. So bad BUT SO GOOD.
Now you can get on with judging me.

9. If you're a regular here, you'll know I have a thing for stationary and journals in particular. I LOVE these DIY Gold Leaf Notebooks.

10. I can't express how excited I am for the return of Strictly and Downton Abbey. I am old but I simply don't care because of sequins and Maggie Smith!

Have a happy weekend, friends! x

A Day in Valencia

Thursday, 18 September 2014

I think it's about time I told you about my Spanish adventure. Initially I thought I'd divide these posts by location, but as J and I crammed in EVERY POSSIBLE ACTIVITY EVER I'm going to have to break our adventures down a little more. I'll start at the beginning (because that seems sensible, right?) on a sweltering Valencian day. I didn't really have any expectations for Valencia as our next stops were big cities with big reputations (Barcelona and Madrid), but I was delightfully surprised! The city is a beauty! Colourful, bustling and full of exciting food and culture. We tried to pack in as much as we could in our first day exploring the city. So, fresh off the plane with the sun kissing our skin we were practically giddy to be exploring. I'm going to take you along with us and show you what we did, where we stayed and what we ate. It's a jam-packed post, so grab a cup of tea and buckle up!

We caught an early start after a night at Pension Universal. To maximise funds for paella, museums and sangria J and I stayed in hostels all over Spain. With a little research and a good sense of humour, they can be perfect for the explorer looking to save on funds. Don't rule them out. 

Pension Universal was great. Located just off the main square in Valencia it was equipped with private rooms, clean shared bathrooms, a kitchen, common room and friendly and helpful staff. Each room comes with a fan and has its own balcony.

The view from ours was gorgeous, and only made us all the more eager to explore. So let's get down to it, shall we?

I'm a big fan of walking around a city to get my bearings, so we began our day by venturing into the city and ending up in Plaza de la Virgen.

It really is a beautiful place. The floor is tiled in marble giving the whole city a sense of old grandeur. 

After a quick map check we headed over to Valencia's main market, Mercat Central. There are no supermarkets within the city centre, so all the locals head to Mercat Central to do their shopping.

The atmosphere is incredible. Locals haggle whilst tourists browse and sample produce. Money and goods exchange hands and there is a constant bustle within the place.

The building itself is amazing. It is almost church-like, and is quite beautiful.

And oh my GOD! The goods on offer are insane! Fresh, local and amazing. How I wish there were more places like this in the UK.

We bought a few pastries for breakfast along with loaves of fresh bread.

 And armfuls of fruit!

The fruit was huge! I tucked into a peach on my wander round the market, and I felt like I'd fallen into James and the Giant Peach!

But my favourite stall was one full of dried herbs hanging in bunches, loose teas and spices.

The whole place smelled phenomenal!  

It inspired me to bunch, tie and hang my own herbs. 

I know I have rambled on, but the market had everything you could hope for and if you're ever in Valencia you have to visit! It's open Monday - Saturday 7am-3pm.

After spending a good couple of hours exploring Mercat Central we thought we should see a little more of the city.

Valencia Cathedral claims to have the Holy Grail, and eagerly we went along to get a peep. However upon arrival we found that the church charged to see the Holy Grail and roped off the main portion of the church, too. Hmph.
Ever the frugal tourists, we stopped for a photo and moved onto a church just next door that was free of charge to visit!

The Basílica Virgen de los Desamparados was beautiful. Small, ornate and spiritual. We sat listening to the murmur of voices and studied the painted ceiling. A few moments of calm during the heat of the day.

We spent the late afternoon lounging in Valencia's dry riverbed. Now the Gardens of Turia, this 9km stretch used to be the river Turia. However in 1957 the river flooded badly, many lost their lives and the city was devastated. The city decided to divert course of the river and left the riverbed dry. 

The leafy trees and old bridges offer shade from Valencia's sun.

The perfect place to kick off your shoes and enjoy some chapters of your book under a canopy of leaves.

After breathing in the fresh, green air of the riverbed we made our way back into the heart of the city, spotting warm Valencian colours around every corner. 

Hi there! 

The ivory buildings of Valencia change with the light, becoming warmer as the sun starts to sink.

After a little siesta we made our way out to dinner. However, being a pair of eager beaver Brits we rocked up to our desired restaurant around 7pm. For Spaniards, this is silly early! We compromised and whiled away our time with dessert before dinner.

We queued up for gelato from Gelateria llinares, about a two minute walk from Plaza de la Virgen. The place is popular but the service is quick. We were out with our gelato within five minutes. J went for glazed donut and white chocolate whilst I went for dulce de leche and twix. OH MY WERRRD were they good. If you have a hankering for gelato whilst in Valencia, hit this place up!

Then as the sun started to sink below the buildings, we made our way to Bodego de la Sarieta (want directions, click here!). Apparently this is the place to get paella in Valencia, so as you can imagine I was hopping with excitement to sit down and try Valencia's signature dish.

 You'll know you've got the right place when you see Le Chat Noir sitting outside.

We settled down outside in the still, warm air and enjoyed cold beers poured into frosty glasses.
OH MY whoever invented frosted glasses deserves a medal of some sort.

Bodego de la Sarieta is tucked away from the main hustle and bustle of Valencia, so you really feel like you're sitting in a local find.
I took pictures of strangers dining as per usual. I do wonder if they ever notice.

The service is pretty chilled. Not slow, but it gave me some time to snap up some photos of Bodego de la Sarieta's beautiful setting.

After about a 25 minute wait a huge Valencian paella made its way towards us in a classic paella dish. I was practically dribbling in anticipation!

Traditional Valencian paella is made with rabbit and chicken and the stock is made with saffron. Mixing seafood and meat is sacrilege, as is adding red pepper! A far cry from the Anglicized version we have back in the UK.

J squeezed over lemon juice and I dribbled a little more.

We tucked in, dishing out generous spoonfuls each. I'd love a squeeze more lemon but the flavour was just phenomenal. Our waiter popped back over as we were finishing up and told us to scrape the bottom of the pan, assuring us it was the best part. To me, it tasted a little like popcorn!

The whole experience was a delight and it felt as if we had dived into Valencia head first.
Until next time!

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