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Archive for the ‘Food and drink’ Category

Home entertaining: Flower design serving bowl

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Decorative serving bowls

It’s always useful to own some serving bowls, so you’ve got something at the ready when you’re entertaining. Of course, plain round bowls do the trick fine, but to serve nibbles in style, why not opt for something more decorative like this daisy flower design chip and dip bowl.

The white daisy petals are formed from five ceramic dishes and the look is completed with a yellow bowl that sits in the centre, acting as the centre of the flower head.

Home gift ideas

The ceramic bowl comes beautifully packaged in a yellow and white daisy shaped box, that you can store it in when not in use.

The daisy chip and dip bowl would be great to use at Easter, especially if you’re focusing on a spring theme, plus it would make a lovely gift. It’s available from Primrose and Plum.

Something sweet for Valentine’s Day

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

If you’re planning a special meal for the one you love on Valentine’s Day, these super-easy puddings will draw gasps of admiration, yet they’re (almost) foolproof to make. Even better, you can make them the day before so that you can concentrate on creating the right romantic atmosphere rather than slaving over a hot egg whisk. Here’s what to do:

Quick and easy rich chocolate mousse

For two people, you’ll need:

  • 120g good quality dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids. It’s worth buying the best you can find.
  • 2 eggs
  • tablespoon of brandy, Cointreau or orange flavouring (optional)
If possible, take the eggs out of the fridge half an hour before you want to use them, to let them come up to room temperature. This gives greater volume when you beat them.
Carefully separate the eggs, putting the whites and yolks into separate bowls. Set aside.

Break the chocolate into small pieces, and put it in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds on a low power setting, then remove and stir. Continue to microwave the bowl in 30-second burst until the chocolate is fully melted. Add the brandy or flavouring if using, and mix until fully combined. Let the mixture cool a bit, then beat in the egg yolks.

Using an egg whisk or food mixer, beat the egg whites until really stiff (they should stand up in peaks). Using a metal spoon, carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, trying to keep as much volume as possible. Spoon the mixture into two glasses or dishes, and leave in the fridge to set for at least half an hour. Decorate with cream or chocolate shavings.

For serving in style, we love these Katie Alice ramekins, £10 for a set of two from the English Table.

Katie Alice ramekins

Accessorise your perfect pudding with this cute heart-topped spoons, which are the ideal size to complement the dish. £17.99 for a set of four, available from My Gift Tree.

Heart-topped teaspoons

Heart-shaped shortbread biscuits

For a few extra brownie points, serve these biscuits with the mousse or with coffee afterwards. In addition to a heart-shaped biscuit cutter, to make four to eight biscuits depending on size you’ll need:

  • 125g butter (not margerine)
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 180g plain flour
If possible, leave the butter at room temperature for half an hour to soften. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees celsius.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, then add in the flour, working it in until completely combined (you may have to use your fingers for this bit). Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and roll it out to about 0.5cm thick.

Using the heart-shaped cutter, cut into biscuits and carefully transfer to a greased baking tray. Bake for around 15 minutes until the biscuits are tinged a very pale golden colour, no darker.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar before serving. Alternatively, decorate with drizzles of white and dark chocolate. These can be made three or four days in advance and stored in an airtight container until needed – don’t forget to hide them, though!

Cookie cutters

For perfect results, we love these heart-shaped cutters, £4.99 for the set from the Oak Room. Made from stainless steel with a moulded red top to protect your fingers, they’ll last for years to come.

For maximum impact, arrange your biscuits on this beautiful cake stand, designed by Ukrainian designer Nina Jarema. Available from Cloth Ears, priced at £24.99.

Nina Jarema cake stand

Fresh Design kitchen: January winter warmers

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

A combination of the wintery weather and the post-Christmas blues mean we’re been feeling a bit chilly this month, so it’s off to the kitchen to whip up a batch of our favourite warming recipes.

Breakfast

For a winter’s breakfast, it’s got to be porridge, the ultimate comfort food. There are heaps of variations, so you’re bound to find something to suit your taste, and it’s easy to make. It’ll take about five minutes, so start it off as soon as you come down in the morning, then by the time you’ve made a cup of tea it’ll be ready to go.

You’ll need 50g of porridge oats and 350ml of water per person. Put them both in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and stir until the water comes to the boil. Turn the heat down, and simmer for about four minutes until the porridge thickens. Serve to taste with brown sugar, golden syrup, Greek yoghurt, fresh berries, dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips or whatever you like. For a creamier taste, replace half the water with milk.

To serve your porridge in style, treat yourself to one of these gorgeous stoneware bowls (above), £12.50 from Drift Living.

Or how about these Bohemian breakfast bowls, £35 for a set of four from Berry Red?

Lunch

For lunch, may we suggest this incredibly easy vegetable soup? It’s great for using up odds and ends of vegetables, and you can flavour it however you want. To serve four, you’ll need two large onions, six to eight carrots, a couple of parsnips, two large potatoes and a litre of vegetable stock.

Slice the all vegetables into chunks, and gently fry them with butter in a large saucepan until they take on some colour. Add the stock, put the lid on the pan and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. When the vegetables are tender, transfer the soup to a food processor and puree until smooth. If it’s a bit too thick, add a little more stock and adjust the seasoning. To jazz it up a bit, serve with a drizzle of cream, a few chopped chives, some croutons and some crusty bread. You can add pretty much any vegetables you like, but keep away from bitter tasting veg such as winter cabbage and sprouts. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, shallots, leeks and broccoli all work well.

 

Add a little dash to a plain soup by serving it in these cute polka dot soup bowls, complete with lids and their own spoon. £6.99 each, from My Gift Tree.

Create the perfect blend with this cheerful red Guzzini G-Plus blender. Was £70, now £63 from Red Candy.

Dinner

For the perfect warming meal, try our easy chicken curry. For four people, you’ll need:

  • two large, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons readymade masala paste
  • 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Crush the ginger and garlic together in a pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste. Fry the onion and chilli in the oil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down add the masala paste and the ginger paste and cook everything together for a couple of minutes.

Add the chicken, chilli powder and turmeric and cook until the chicken is coloured and sealed. Then add a little boiling water and cook over a low heat until the chicken is tender, adding more water periodically if it looks a little dry. Serve with plain rice.

 

Guaranteed to cheer up a grey day, these handmade and hand painted Lulu plates (above) cost £21.50 each from Boutique Provençale.

Create your own curry pastes and spice blends with this personalised marble pestle and mortar. From £29.99, Getting Personal.

Fresh Design Gift Guide: Christmas hampers for all budgets

Friday, December 13th, 2013

There’s something special about receiving a hamper at Christmas. Unwrapping the parcel, opening the box and peeling back the straw to see what’s hidden inside. Whether it’s been specially made and put together just for you, or been bought ready made, it’s a great gift choice for those hard-to-buy for recipients.

What’s more, many hampers are packed in gorgeous baskets or boxes that can be reused once the goodies are gone, so a hamper isn’t necessarily just a short-lived present.

There are some stunning hampers available, from the ultimate dream hampers and high end luxury gifts, to themed hampers, chocolate hampers and budget-conscious options. Here’s a selection of hamper ideas to whet your appetite, including some on special offer.

Dream hampers

The ultimate hampers we dream of, but are unlikely to ever afford….

Most expensive Christmas gift hamper

The Decadence hamper – if you happen to have a spare £20,000 floating around (no, we can’t believe that price either!), then you could splash your cash on this limited edition hamper from Harrods. It includes, champagne, wines, confectionery, fresh caviar, charcuterie, crackers and much more, all packed into a luxury trunk.

Luxury expensive Christmas gift hampers

If £10,000 is more your price range (?!) then the Opulence hamper contains a selection of high-quality items from some of the world’s best producers. Again, it’s from Harrods.

Dream Christmas hamper

At half the price, the Imperial hamper is available from Fortnum and Mason for £5000. You’ll find a 25-year old single malt nestling alongside Beluga caviar, aged balsamic vinegar and Dom Perignon rose, to name but a few.

Luxury hampers

Hamper gifts with a luxurious feel to them, both in terms of price and contents…

Luxury opulent Christmas food drink hamper

Opulent Christmas hamper, presented in a willow basket and filled with luxury Christmas foods and drinks. It was £339.99, but is now £249.99 at Debenhams.

 

Christmas box hamper

This Contemporary silver hamper from John Lewis is presented in a wooden crate and contains plenty of festive goodies. It’s £100.

Festive Christmas hamper

The Sparkle and Celebrate luxury hamper from Selfridges contains a lovely selection of festive foods to enjoy, including foods from Italy, Britain and Europe. It’s all included in a hamper basket with signature leather buckles and costs £175.

Themed hampers

Hampers with a bit of a theme to them….

 A taste of Italy food and drink

Italian feast hamper, filled with favourite Italian food and drink, with £25 off, now £125 from Waitrose

Food drink hamper for men

 The Gentlemen’s hamper, containing strong and sturdy flavours, £150 from Fortnum and Mason.

Christmas present cheese gift hamper

The Cheese Lovers hamper, which contains there tasted cheeses, savoury biscuits, chutney and red wine. It’s £50 from M&S.

Champagne, wine and chocolate hampers

Lots of hampers include champagne, wine and chocolates, but these are predominantly made up of these key ingredients…

Wine basket gift

Wine basket hamper, featuring four bottles of wine in a useful bottle holder basket, £50 from John Lewis

 

Chocolate and champagne pamper hamper  Non alcoholic hamper

The pamper hamper, with gifts such as luxury chocolate truffles and pink champagne, £150 from Harrods

Or, for a non-alcoholic version, try the So Jennie & Truffles hamper (£60)

Ultimate dream chocolate hamper

For true chocolate lovers, opt for the Bliss Chocolate Hamper, from Hotel Chocolat. It’s packed with milk, dark and white chocolates for all tastes. It’s £150.

Budget-conscious hampers

Suitable for smaller budgets, but still equally gorgeous….

Afternoon tea gift idea

St Kew teacup basket hamper, filled with items such as tea, shortbread and conserve, £16.99 from Lakeland

 

Chutney and jam hamper gift bag

Holly Jolly gift bag hamper, filled with six award winning products by Hawkshead Relish Company, £10 from Amazon

Make your own hamper

If you’d rather put together your own hamper to meet your budget and ensure the recipient likes the contents, but are running out of time to organise it, John Lewis do a Build Your Own Hamper option, where you can choose the items you’d like included.

 

The Animals of Harley Common: Woodland animal coasters

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Woodland animals home trend

Add some cheer to your coffee table or desk, with these woodland animal coasters.

The Animals of Harley Common coaster set features four cute animal designs – a rabbit, hedgehog, owl and mouse.

The creation of young British designer, Michael Charlton, the coasters are sustainably made from eco friendly bamboo and are produced in the south of England.

Great for adults and children alike, the set of four coasters are priced at £17.99 from E-Side. Our only issue is, the designs are too nice to cover up with mugs or glasses!

Fruit pyramid: Creative fruit storage display

Saturday, February 18th, 2012
Funky fresh fruit home storage ideas

Create a fruit pyramid

In need of a fruit bowl? Why not make a talking point of your fresh fruit by using this fruit pyramid?

The impressive display is easy to create using a specially designed chrome pyramid (no more fruit falling down when you try and stack them creatively!).

There’s space to store 18 pieces of fruit and, as well as oranges, it works well with fruits such as apples, nectarines or peaches.

The design allows air to circulate around the fruit, so they’ll keep fresh and ripen well, without any pieces getting squashed below others.

It’s a clever idea, a fun design and a great new take on the traditional fruit bowl. The fruit pyramid is available for £16.99 from Mocha.

The winner of the London Tea Company tea competition

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Pyramid selection box of teas

Delicious tea selection

Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter our competition, to win a set of delicious tea from The London Tea Company.

A winner has been selected at random from all the entries received as comments on the blog and Tweets and the winner is…..

@SooperSandy who said, “I’d love to sit down and have a cup of Elderflower and Apricot tea with J K Rowling.”

Congratulations, Sandy, we will be in touch with you about your prize! We can supply the tea, but can’t quite manage J K Rowling…

Win delicious tea from The London Tea Company

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Pyramid selection box of teas

Gorgeous tea to win!

At Fresh Design Blog, we love a good cup of tea. So when the lovely folks at The London Tea Company offered us the chance of sampling some of their brews, we did what any discerning tea drinker would do – boiled the kettle and got our favourite china cups out.

The London Tea Company produce a wide range of tea, from classic favourites such as English Breakfast, Earl Grey and Vanilla Chai, to herbal teas such as Camomile and Peppermint, to a wonderful gourmet range of inspiring flavours, such as White Tea, Elderflower & Apricot, Peppermint, Spearmint & Strawberry and Red Berries.

We were lucky enough to sample a broad spectrum of teas – the English Breakfast tea did us proud when we ran out of standard tea bags, the Earl Grey is perfect for afternoon tea and many of the gourmet tea bags were surprisingly delicious. In particular, the surprise hit was the Peppermint, Spearmint and Strawberry (I’ll admit caution at the sound of this strange combination) but it works amazingly well and has just the right balance of the two mints and a hint of fruitiness.

As well as serving them hot, many of the teas also work well as iced teas – which is perfect for the summer months. We’d recommended trying iced White Tea, Elderflower and Apricot, or iced Peppermint, Spearmint and Strawberry tea. Just brew the tea for three minutes in a couple of inches of hot water, then top up with ice and cold water.

The teas are made from organic tea leaves (many of them are also Fairtrade) and both the boxes and pouches are biodegradable. Some of the teas are available as traditional envelope tea bags or loose tea, whilst others are in the form of pyramid infusers.

You can explore the full range of teas available over at the London Tea Company’s website and online shop, plus they’re on Facebook too. All of the teas are very affordably priced, with a canister of pyramid tea bags (which is great for storing teas in even when you’ve finished the first lot) priced at only £3.99 each.

London Tea Company Competition – Win Tea!

If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a fabulous selection box of teas (shown above), with lots of exciting flavours to try, leave a comment below and tell us which London tea you’d most like to try and who you’d love to drink a cup of tea with.

For one extra entry, simply tweet the following on Twitter: “@FreshDesignBlog Put the kettle on! I’d like to win gorgeous London Tea Company tea”.

A winner will be selected at random from all entries received after the closing date (10pm on Tuesday 21st June).

The competition is open to those in the UK and ROI only (see full competition terms and conditions).

Christmas tree hanging biscuit decorating kit

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Decorated biscuit kitMake biscuits to hang on your Christmas treeChristmas tree shaped biscuits

If you love the idea of having special handmade biscuits hanging on your Christmas tree, or of giving them as gifts to other people, but are a bit pushed for time, then this kit is a real time-saver.

The biscuit making part is done for you, as the kit comes with ready made biscuits in the shape of Christmas trees and stars. The fun part of decorating the biscuits is down to you and you get everything you need to create stylish and creative decorated biscuits, including roll out icing, shape cutters, piping gel, a rolling pin, edible lustre dust, silver balls and brushes.

As the idea is to hang the decorated biscuits on a Christmas tree, you’re also supplied with small cellophane bags, red ribbon and elastic metallic thread.

This would be a great kit to do with children in the run-up to Christmas, and if 10 decorated biscuits isn’t enough for you, then the biscuit recipe is included in the set, so you can more yourself.

The Christmas tree hanging biscuit decorating kit is created and sold by Little Rose Bakery and costs £17.99. For more details, take a look at their website.

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Decorated Cookies: 20 to Make

Scarlet Bakes homemade delicious cookie mix

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Make your own cookie kitScarlet Bakes make your own cookie kitsDelicious white chocolate and cranberry cookies

I first came across Scarlet Bakes at a local Farmers Market, where it was hard to resist the delicious cookies they had available. As well as selling homemade cookies, they also produce a great range of cookie mixes.

The homemade cookie mixes are layered up attractively in glass kilner jars (which you can re-use) and come with an easy-to-follow recipe. All you need to do is add butter and eggs and, bingo, you’ve got cookies ready to bake!

The ingredients for the cookies are high quality, without artificial colours or flavours, and they use local organic flour, British oats and fairtrade vanilla. In most cases, they also sell gluten free versions too, which is a really nice touch.

The cookie mixes make a lovely gift, especially for anyone who’s a fan of baking. They’re available in a great choice of flavours, including rainbow cookie mix, triple chocolate chip cookie mix and the super yummy white chocolate and cranberry cookie mix.

The Scarlet Bakes cookie mixes are £12 each and each 500ml kilner jar of ingredients makes between 18 and 20 cookies, which seems good value for money.

 
 
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