img_3917

Getting festive with a Mince Pie Masterclass hosted by Eric Lanlard and Meantime Brewing Company

There is no better way to get into a festive mood than making Mince Pies! However, what does beat that is when it is none other than “Cake Boy” teaching you how to make them. Yes….the legendary Eric Lanlard.

img_3917

I was lucky enough to be part of a masterclass hosted by Eric Lanlard and Meantime Brewing Company to make festive mince pies with a secret ingredient – a brand new ale.

What has been brewing behind the scenes (pardon the pun), has been a new flavour as part of the Pilot Series by Meantime Brewing Company in collaboration with celebrity chef and Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard called ‘Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale’, a nutty dark ale that’s absolutely perfect for the festive season.

img_3981

The Pilot Series is a range of bespoke bespoke limited edition brews which have a variety of exciting flavours and beers that you wouldn’t normally expect.

Before we started our masterclass, we were all chatting while trying the new ale and I can confirm it is as delicious to drink as it is to use as an ingredient in mince pies! It would even work in cakes.

So to kick off the masterclass, we all positioned ourselves in Eric’s cookery class area and in front of us were already pre-weighed ingredients. Eric explained the importance of exact measurements and what a difference it makes in taste and output.

We all donned our aprons and started mixing the ingredients for the first part, before heating the mixture up on the hob.

img_3982

img_3896

Next we mixed in the ingredients for the filling and tried to resist not eating it out of the bowl as it smelt sensational.

img_3979

Eric gave us each some pastry cups ready for filling and we had great fun filling them with our mince pie mixtures.

img_3901img_3977

Next we cut out some fancy stars to decorate our mince pies with to make them look extra festive and away they went in the oven for baking.

img_3910

In true “these were made in advance” style, out came some mince pies for us to feast on while ours were doing their magic in the oven. We got to take ours home and they were greatly appreciated by the other half when I got home, who was also equally excited that he could try a bottle of the Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale too!

img_3966img_3963img_3914

If you would like to try these Mince Pies, you can do at either the Meantime Brewery Tasting Rooms or at Cake Boy until 22nd December. Trust me they are divine!

img_3915

Alternatively, you can have a go at making them at home and here is the recipe courtsey of Eric Lanlard:

RECIPE: CAKE BOY HAZELNUT ALE MINCE PIES

Ingredients

For the mincemeat

250 g golden sultanas
250 g glacé cherries, halved
250 g raisins
100 g mixed peel
1 tsp vanilla extract, such as Nielsen-Massey
orange zest, finely grated
lemon zest, finely grated
125g unsalted butter
250g dark muscovado sugar
250ml Meantime’s Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale
100gr ground roasted Hazelnut
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice

For the pies
250 g shortcrust pastry
250 g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Method

1. Put all the dried fruit and spices into a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place the vanilla extract, grated orange and lemon zest, butter, sugar and Cake Boy Hazelnut Ale in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved (ensure you do not let it boil). Pour over the mixed fruit and stir gently, without breaking up the fruit pieces. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to infuse for around 48 hours.

2. Once the fruit is infused, pack the mincemeat into sterilised jars and seal. Store in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks to allow the flavours to mature.

3. When you are ready to make the mince pies, preheat the oven to 180C (gas mark 4).

4. Grease 6 individual 10cm diameter loose-bottomed tartlet tins. Roll out the shortcrust pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and then use the pastry to line the tins.

5. Once the tins are lined with shortcrust pastry, generously fill the pastry cases with the mincemeat. It is likely you will have some mixture left over for using again.

6. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. When it is around 4-5 mm thin, brush with a beaten egg. Next, cut out 6 shapes that will be used to top the tarts (this recipe uses a star shape for Christmas). Sprinkle the puff pastry shapes with muscovado sugar, place on top of the individual pies and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and slightly puffed.

Let me know if you do have a go making these and tweet me a picture!

For further information on Meantime and The Pilot Series, please visit meantimebrewing.com

I was a guest of Cake Boy and Meantime Brewing Company. All views and photos are my own. The recipe is courtesy of Eric Lanlard.

img_1581

24 random facts about me – plus 10 bonus ones ;)

To celebrate my 24th birthday (plus 10), here are a list of random facts about me 🙂

  1. This is probably a super obvious one but I love a good classic Mojito.
  2. I was born in Mombasa, Kenya and then moved to Nairobi when I was 16
  3. I speak English, as well as Swahili and Gujarati (but not so fluently).
  4. My favourite dessert is a creme brûlée.
  5. I studied at Cardiff for undergraduate university, followed by Manchester, for my postgraduate, where I got a M.Sc. in Marketing
  6. However, somehow ended up in Banking, specifically Investments. Hello Stocks and Shares and Funds :p
  7. I am the only girl in my family amongst 6 brothers (1 real and 5 cousins).
  8. I can be a real diva.
  9. I have an addiction to handbags. My argument is that they are Investment pieces.
  10. I can play the piano, although haven’t done so in a while.
  11. When I was young I tried to learn Karate and failed.
  12. ….Same with ballet. I can’t dance at all.
  13. Despite growing up in Africa, I have only visited Tanzania, Zanzibar, Egypt, Morocco and Mauritius on the continent so clearly have a lot more travelling to do.
  14. My favourite part of the world is the Caribbean and I am convinced I must have lived there in a past life as it is my happy place.
  15. I once built an app to promote tourism in Kenya called Our Kenya.
  16. I have tried sea urchin sushi (and hated it).
  17. I have also tried eating Ant eggs when I was in Mexico City
  18. ….As well as grasshoppers (don’t judge)
  19. I am happiest on a Catamaran, out at sea with a glass of rum punch in my hand.
  20. I love animals, and spend a lot of money fostering elephants and rhinos in Kenya.
  21. I am obsessed with Cats so if anyone feels sorry for me a kitten would be a great present!
  22. I am a terrible driver and have not even tried to take a test yet as I drove my mum’s Jeep into the British High Commissioner’s fence in Kenya.
  23. I have kissed several Giraffes.
  24. I prefer coffee over tea

Ten bonus facts 😉

  1. I would choose Red wine over white wine
  2. My favourite perfume is Lancome Miracle
  3. I have a belly piercing as well as multiple ear piercings
  4. I can’t blow bubbles with chewing gum
  5. My dream destination is Bora Bora followed by the Galapagos Islands.
  6. I travelled by myself for the first time to Mexico City this year.
  7. I am obsessed with Adam Scott (the golfer)
  8. I actually own a golf kit but am pretty terrible at golf.
  9. My best friend and I have seen a ghost when we were younger
  10. My all time favourite movie is My best friend’s wedding
img_6039

Conquering my fear of heights at the ArcelorMittal Orbit Slide #RideTheSlide

For someone with a phobia of heights and not a daredevil by any means, going on the ArcelorMittal Orbit slide, designed by Belgian artist Carsten Höller, as part of a team afternoon, with R, M and P, filled me with dread and when the day arrived I was a bundle of nerves.

What didn’t help was I read reviews that stated “not for the fainthearted” and for “adrenalin rush seekers.” I am a wimp.

img_6030

img_6053

The ArcelorMittal Orbit, which is Sir Anish Kapoor’s sculpture in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to me, looks like a giant Shisha pipe, and the slide looping around it from a ground level view is slightly terrifying. You can even choose to abseil down it but I personally don’t have the courage to go that far! It is pretty new, having opened towards the end of June.

img_6088img_6091img_6094

Once we took the short DLR ride from work to the park, we first went to the viewing platform, which has an alternate view of the cityscape of London, the Olympic park and Stratford in general. It is lovely up there and you can even walk on the outside bit with a mesh floor. Just don’t look down if you are scared of heights!

img_6039img_6040

We then walked down the mesh stairs to the floor where the slide starts from and joined the queue of excited people waiting their turn, as well as onlookers watching each person take the plunge. You could hear lots of screams, but it was unclear whether they were of terror or excitement.

It is said to be the world’s tallest, longest and fastest tunnel slide and guaranteed to give you a hair-raising London experience. It definitely did do that.

The scariest bit is when it is your turn to go,  you have to push yourself down the slide into the unknown and as each person took their turn, most let out a scream or gasped, which really did not help mine or M’s fear, and the closer we got to our turn the more I was starting to chicken out.

M even almost gave her ticket away to another lady at one point who wanted to go but the tickets were sold out. So glad she didn’t and lesson from this is really recommend booking in advance!

We were soon kitted out in dodgy looking head gear, tight arm pads, and if you weren’t wearing trousers, you were given knee pads too.  I am so glad we weren’t allowed our phones or cameras up there so there is no evidence of how bad we looked!

You can store your belongings safely in lockers as I am sure you don’t want to lose anything in that slide.

Once it is your turn to go on the slide, you are given a upmarket version of a helter skelter style mat, that you have to keep your feet firmly in and hold on to.

We sent R, our manager first, as we were still so scared, and he didn’t even scream as he descended down the structure, absolutely loved it and waited for each of us to arrive at the end.

M went next and it took her a few minutes to pluck up the courage to go through with it and in the end the attendant pushed her down. She let out a scream initially, and as I was going next, I could see her arrive at the end on a screen next to where I was lying down and waiting my turn, and she looked terrified, which made me more nervous so I said to P, that I couldn’t go through with it.

A few words of encouragement later from P, and there I was, lying down ready to experience the slide. I couldn’t bring myself to push myself down as I was totally freaked out at this point and so I asked the attendant to push me while I shut my eyes.

In order to go down the slide correctly, you have to lie down, tuck your chin in and keep your elbows in.

After 178 metres of scary but exhilarating twists and turns, loops,  jumps and a little bit of throwing around whilst weaving 12 times around the structure at rapid speed,  I arrived at the bottom, having absolutely loved all 32 seconds of it.

I won’t lie, the scariest bit is right at the start when you are initially about to go down as you have no idea what to expect, but after a few seconds it is amazing! You can get glimpses of the city and Olympic stadium as you go down if you haven’t closed your eyes, as the top part of the slide is clear.

The last stretch is a 50m drop named the  “the bettfeder” (bedspring in German)  for a final bit of butterfly inducing fun, before you finally come to a stop into the bright open.

It is less scary than a rollercoaster, and you definitely do get an adrenalin rush, which I discovered, I was actually fine with.

I was left wanting to go straight back up on it, and as I chatted to M and R, while waiting for P to arrive at the finish line, we all felt “euphoric”, word of the day by M. I would definitely go again and next time it will be less shrieks and more attempts to catch glimpses of the views as you go down the structure.

img_6092

I really recommend booking tickets in advance. The Slide cost £15 for adults, £10 for children. Even if you are scared of heights, it is so worth it, not that bad at all, and so much fun! Something to do at least once 🙂 You can go grab food or drinks in neighbouring Westfield after, meaning you can make a day out of it.

For more information and to book tickets go to: http://arcelormittalorbit.com

img_5980

Coconut Water and Mint Ice Cubes 

In the heat it is so important to keep hydrated and if you don’t like drinking plain water, here’s an idea to spruce it up in a healthy way without cordials or mixers.

I have simply filled an ice cube tray with Innocent coconut water with a pinch of chopped fresh mint leaves in each slot and frozen these.

All you then simply do is pop a couple of Coconut Water and Mint Ice Cubes into your glass or bottle and not only will the ice keep your drink cold, it will infuse the water with the flavours of the coconut water and mint. Delicious!

Keeping hydrated is very important because, aside from preventing you from getting dehydrated:

  1. It boosts your mood
  2. It prevents headaches
  3. It helps keep your mind sharp
  4. It helps digestion
  5. It helps keep your blood pressure relatively normal

What are your favourite ways to stay hydrated?

This post is in collaboration with Innocent Coconut Water, which is best served chilled.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – Volunteering opportunities

Everyone who knows me, knows how much I respect the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a charity that looks after and rehabilitates orphaned elephants in Nairobi, Kenya.

It was founded in 1977 in memory of David Sheldrick and it is run by Dame Daphne Sheldrick and her daughter Angela Sheldrick.

If you are in Kenya, you can visit the orphanage between 11 and 12 for the feeding time where you get to see the groups of orphaned elephants having their milk, which is made from a special formula created by Dame Daphne Sheldrick after many many different trials. You can also book private time with the elephant in advance during the evenings, but this is dependent on many factors so worth doing well in advance. The entrance fee goes towards their care.

The elephants arrive at the orphanage either because they have been the victim of their mothers being poached, or from being separated from their herd. The elephants range from nursery orphans to slightly older ones. They stay here with the keepers before being moved on to be slowly rehabilitated back into the wild.

 

You can help this cause in so many different ways, which include fostering an elephant, either for yourself or as a gift for a loved one. I have quite a few elephants I have fostered, as well as Maxwell the resident rhino.

https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/fostering.asp

img_4298

As well as fundraising events, such as the elephant run, you can also volunteer your skills to help in the UK and US. You will be amazed to know that there is a very small group of amazing people who work behind the scenes full time for such an incredible cause and the amount they achieve is superb. However, sometimes during busy periods, they welcome as much help as possible.

I have personally volunteered twice so far at their UK office in Surrey, and hope to continue as much as I can. I did this as part of my community day offered by my place of work so it is worth checking if your work place offered similar days to give back.

 

The DSWT does not take on volunteers on in Kenya for a number of reasons. Firstly, caring for the orphans is a long term commitment and the keepers care for them as a temporary family and are with them for up to 10 years.

Enabling local Kenyans the opportunity play a part in the hand-raising of orphans helps create an affinity with the species and the keepers then share this conservation message with their families and communities, further spreading this essential conservation message.

Furthermore, paid or voluntary work in Kenya by foreigners requires a Work Permit, whilst walking in the bush brings with it an element of danger and, understandably, the government does not allow a foreigner to be exposed to this without armed escort.

You can,however,  volunteer in both the US and UK for outreach events and administrative support. You can request to be added to the list of volunteers at:

US: infous@sheldrickwildlifetrust.org and you will provided with an application.

UK: infouk@sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

I receive monthly emails which detail the type of help they require.

As an example, I have put my excel and marketing skills to use in the UK office helping with database maintenance as well as trends analysis to help plan fundraising  events better in the future. You can also help with fundraising events, stock taking and manning stalls at major events.

img_4314

If you are keen to find out more about this cause, Kristin Davis has also produced a fantastic documentary called Gardeners of Eden which gives great insights into the work the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust does and can be viewed on iTunes and Netflix. For more information visit: http://officialkristindavis.com/gardeners-of-eden/

For more information about the cause you can also read more here: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

img_5065

Symmetry Breakfast – The book launch of #CookLoveShare

My absolutely favourite Instagram account, Symmetry Breakfast, who tease us with stunning breakfasts everyday, finally has their first cook book out called Cook Share Love.

Filled with beautiful photos of breakfasts and amazing recipes, this is definitely a book to have and cherish forever. You would never struggle to find inspiration for a breakfast idea again!

This would make an amazing present too as its different, creative and has something for absolutely everyone. I was amazed to find idlis in it as I flicking through, and it truly encapsulates worldwide cuisine.

img_5056

What started off as a romantic gesture from Michael Zee to his boyfriend, fashion designer Mark van Beekin in the mornings when they first moved in together, has won hearts around the world and he now has a cult following of over 600K Instagram followers!

Every morning Michael posts a photo of a different breakfast laid out identically and with perfect symmetry. Just look at a snapshot from their feed below. How beautiful is that?

 

They recently celebrated their 1000th breakfast and here is to many many more wonderful, creative combinations!

We celebrated then book launch at the Hoxton in Holborn, complete with a beautiful cake by  Lily Vanilli,  which had an amazing rainbow interior. Such a pretty cake 🙂

Seriously how adorable are they? The cutest moment of the night was when Michael stood in front of everyone to say his thank you speech and actually proposed to Mark. There were tears in the room, it can’t get better than that! Congrats Michael and Mark ❤

img_5067

 

There were delicious cocktails available to drink on the night too! Loved the G&Tea.

Michael is one of the loveliest guys you will ever meet and is so humble despite the enormous success. He is so down to earth, always smiling and has an amazing personality.

I was lucky to have met him last year at an event at Smith & Whistle, and he has inspired me every single day since!

Thanks for a wonderful evening Michael and Mark and my signed book 🙂 Here is to many more amazing breakfasts, success and a wonderful future for you both in this new chapter in your lives.

If you aren’t already, follow Symmetry Breakfast on Instagram @symmetrybreakfast, and you can buy the new book, Cook Love Share on Amazon now.