Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Sometimes nothing feels better than trashing it up a little bit. Night out? Extra eyeliner, all the mascara and a sparkler in my cocktail, yes please. Making Christmas cards? Go bonkers with that glitter, you rock star. And I feel like Halloween is the perfect trashy holiday to go nuts with too. People are rocking lavish, awesome outfits, carving pumpkins into crazy shapes and I feel as if Halloween food can be equally as exciting. Whilst the toffee apple is a delicious, autumnal treat it has so much potential to be cer-razy good and extravagant. CRAZY EXTRAVAGANT GOOD. I'm talking the addition of mini marshmallows, chocolate, biscuit and rainbow sprinkles. That's what we're doing here today, get on board sailor. Oh and if you can find edible glitter too, you win at Trashy Toffee Apples (and life).
I think this recipe makes such a cool girls night in idea. Everyone could bring a different topping and mix their apple decorating up in style. Grab a bottle of wine or two, a pizza and a few retro horror movies and you're ready to roll! I made sure this recipe would work with all hands on deck, by roping in my two lovely girlfriends, Al and Frances to help with making Trashy Toffee Apples for LLK. They are absolute crackers and have enviable apple decorating skills, I'm sure you'll agree.
A quick note before we get going, if you want to make toffee for your toffee apples you will need a sugar thermometer, heavy bottomed saucepan and a fierce production line as you will need to work quickly. Toffee can be a little sassy (and hard going on the teeth) so if you haven't got time for it's sass, you can easily switch it out for melted chocolate. Chocolate is much more cooperative and you can take your time with decorating.
For Trashy Toffee Apples you will need (makes 6):
6 cox apples
6 lollipop sticks
Variation of decorations, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, crushed biscuit, chopped nuts edible glitter etc.
For the toffee:
225g granulated sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
For the chocolate coating:
200g chocolate of your choice, I prefer dark chocolate.
Begin by making your production line. Set out all of your decorations, ready for your apples to be dipped.
Taste test along the way, of course. Al was adamant that she would be in charge of taste testing. Responsible gal, that one.
Skewer your apples with the lollipop sticks and make sure they are secure. I found these sticks were hard to find in large supermarkets and ended up getting mine from an independent homeware shop. To save you time, I'd advise buying them online. You can do so here.
Now if you want to cover your apples in toffee follow the following steps.
If you want to coat your apples in chocolate, simply break up into pieces and melt in the microwave, stirring frequently.
For the toffee, begin by dissolving the sugar and water together over a gentle heat. Once dissolved add the butter and golden syrup.
Bring to the boil and put in your sugar thermometer. Continue to boil without stirring until the toffee reaches 140c or 275f.
Once it reaches 140c, stir the toffee quickly until smooth and then dip quick! If you don't dip quick enough, the toffee will harden and become useless. See, told ya it was sassy.
Teamwork is a winner here.
Dip your apples once into the toffee or chocolate and then into your toppings of choice. Once decorated, place of a tray lined with baking parchment.
Decorating will get messy and chocolate and sprinkles will go everywhere. It's all part of the fun!
Special, delicately placed marshmallow apples may need their own glass or bowl.
Special treatment for a special apple.
Make sure that there are enough decorations to nibble on as your apples set. Al again continued to taste test.
Stand back and admire your handy work.
Demand your ever patient boyfriend to take photographs for instragram.
And an in-situ one, of course!
And before you tuck in, remember to grab a few snaps of your masterpieces!
Then tuck into your apples! All gloriously trashy, all gloriously delish.
ALL THE TRASHY COLOURS.
Friday, 17 October 2014
Instagram of the week: The post-storm skies have been beautiful this week.
1. It's the weekend! *praying hands emoji*
2. Oh how I want Joy's new book, Homemade Decadence. I MEAN LOOK AT THAT COVER.
3. Speaking of cookbooks, Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food looks insane too! Have you been following the TV series? THAT Chocolate Celebration Cake looked like such a game-changer.
4. I am obsessed with this Autumn scarf. Can I treat myself to it because it's a Friday? That's a legit reason, right...?
5. I've been doing a lot of computer work this week and it makes my brain feel like it's turning to cheese. I have definitely needed these tips on how to meditate in five minutes or less. A bit of brain breathing space is essential.
6. Radox pink grapefruit and basil shower gel. I thought adverts lied when they insisted that a shower gel could really wake you up in the morning, but it's actually the truth! The grapefruit scent is so zingy and fresh it really readies me for the morning. Aaaand I can't stop sniffing myself for the rest of the day. #realtalk
7. I desperately want to create a DIY-instagram photo display. I haven't been too inspired by pintrest so far, so do you have any cool ideas?
8. What children around the world eat for breakfast. I find these studies fascinating, especially when the eater is pictured with the food.
9. I've been losing hours watching spoken word poetry this week. Sarah Kay is still such an inspiration, I love her piece Worst Poetry.
10. Josie sent me this brain-exploding adorable video this week. I'm so glad she's my sister.
Have a happy weekend, friends! x
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
As you already know, we went crazy for Gaudi in Barcelona. But alongside our Antoni escapades we also squeezed in some touring, tapas and a half day of relaxation! We like our travels a little jam-packed and crazy, if you couldn't already tell...
Barcelona is a fantastic city to wander through. The main roads are cool and cosmopolitan whilst the narrow side streets are full of character and history. There is a real mix of architecture and style that makes Barcelona an exciting city that features both the old and the new. Before I get onto the touring in Barcelona, I want to show you just a couple of shots of the diversity that Barcelona has to offer.
Barcelona's Arc de Triomf stands over a long stretch of pedestrian road.
We strolled past people JOGGING in 35c heat (!!). This part of Barcelona has an almost Los Angeles like feel about it.
Then we turned down a side street and were greeted with imaginative, colourful graffiti. This city keeps you on your toes, for sure.
But I'll tell you about the touring now.
Meet Leon. An incredible London-born guide who now lives and works in Barcelona after falling in love with the city. His style of touring is enchanting. He is energetic, informative, funny and so creative. This tour was one of our favourite things to do in Spain. If you want to bag a spot, then visit Sandemans and book yourself a place! Sandemans offers free tours and at the end of the tour you can leave a tip for your guide.
I want to take you along for a little of our tour, Leon showed us some truly gorgeous spots and incredibly interesting sights.
After cleaning, it has only recently been uncovered. It's a fee to go inside but is a beautiful sight from the outside if you'd like to admire. It's well worth a wander past.
Just opposite the Cathedral is a rare piece of Picasso street art named El fris dels Gegants. Apparently it depicts a Catalan festival that involves a human tower, which a child climbs then holds up 4 fingers. It's a funny one, hey?
Leon took us onwards, showing us beautiful churches including this one with the fabulous rose window.
And this modestly designed Catholic church.
We wound through beautiful, narrow side streets.
Stopped for a lunch of champagne sangria and sandwiches for lunch.
Then we headed down to Columbus' Column (who incidentally is the only Columbus statue not to be pointing towards America, but to Algeria, as the Catalans refused to fund his voyage).
And our tour finished with Leon in Downtown Barcelona. If you get the chance to get on one of his tours, I urge you to do it. I can't imagine a better person to have introduced us to the city. As we were in the area, we had a quick wander up La Rambla, but it's nothing too special and full of tourist traps. However, the living statue street performers are worth a look if you fancy it!
So after a couple of busy days of touring and sight-seeing, we found ourselves with a free morning. J proposed the (frankly crazy) idea that we might like to lie on a beach for a couple of hours, to unwind you know, as I hear people do on their travels.
We walked down to Barceloneta, the beach most convenient for the city.
I have to say, it wasn't the best beach. Very busy and full of merchants trying to sell drinks, clothes and even offered a massage to J... The sand was kind of dusty and it was hard to switch off with so much going on around.
But we got to read our books, catch some rays (read apply factor 30 and sit in the shade) and do a little chilling. If we had more time though, we would've caught the train up the coast to a quieter, more natural spot. But you live and learn to allocate more than 3 hours for a little relaxation!
Once we dusted all the sand off ourselves, we still had one important thing to do in Barca. Sample the tapas! I had big dreams of snagging a table at Quimet & Quimet or Tapas 24, both of which has fantastic reputations for tapas.
However I hadn't factored in that lots of restaurants close in Spain on a Sunday and Monday, the days we were looking for lunch. Sadly my choices above were unavailable and I had to start my tapas hunt over. Eventually we settled on Taller de Tapas, a tapas chain. The food is good, as is the atmosphere and location but I desperately missed a sense of authenticity and tradition. However it's great for dipping your toe into concept of tapas.
You can sit inside at the highly polished bar, complete with smiling barman
On one of the long wooden tables
Or outside in the plaza under a canopy. We like a little fresh air and people watching, so opted for seats outside.
We poured carefully over the menu, eager to make the right decisions from such a vast choice! We ordered all at once and each dish zipped out of the kitchen once ready.
First up, Patatas Bravas with garlic mayonnaise and spicy paprika sauce. Fried potato was not what I expected... It was tasty, but a little strange.
The sizzling prawns cooked in a clay pot with chilli, garlic and mountain herbs were much more satisfactory. Arriving at the table literally sizzling, smelling delicious and looking ever so tempting.
Quickly followed by the small fish catch of the day, fried and served with lemon. This is one of my favourite dishes. Thoroughly smothered in lemon juice, these little fish are utterly moreish.
But the highlight of the meal, by far, was the pot of sizzling artisan Astorga chorizo braised in Asturian cider. They were delicious, melt-in-the-mouth morsels of flavour. Rich and smokey and slightly addictive! I wish we had bought some Spanish chorizo home with us, it was just to die for.
We rounded off our meal with grilled green asparagus with walnut dressing. Crunchy asparagus, nutty dressing and a light and delicious way to finish lunch.
And after that last mouthful, we headed to the train for the last stop on our adventure. I've got one more Spanish blog post coming your way and it's full of Madrid madness. Stay tuned!