Thursday, 30 October 2014

Roast Pumpkin Soup

This rich, warming soup is perfect for an autumn night. Nutty roasted pumpkin and glorious melting cheese come together for the perfect supper to snuggle up with and keep the spooks at bay!



Ingredients 
Serves 6

Soup
1 small pumpkin (1.3 – 1.6kg)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
850ml vegetable stock
425ml whole milk
25g butter
Salt, pepper and ground nutmeg, to season
Croutons
2 thick slices crusty white bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

To serve
100g melting cheese, such as gruyere or mozzarella, grated

Method
Preheat oven to 240 °C. Start by cutting the pumpkin into quarters, scoop out the seeds, then cut each quarter in half. Brush the surface of each section with the oil and season with a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper. Pop into the oven to roast for 30-35 minutes, or until the flesh is soft when tested with a skewer.

While the pumpkin is roasting, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a high heat, add the onion and stir. After 5 minutes, turn the heat down low and leave the onion to cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once the pumpkin is cooked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Add the stock and the milk to the onion and turn the heat up to medium. Once the mixture is simmering, scoop out the pumpkin flesh and add to the pan along with the seasoning of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Turn the heat down to low and leave to gently simmer for a further 20 minutes.

This is the perfect time to make the croutons. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the bread into cubes and toss in a bowl with the oil and salt and pepper seasoning, making sure each crouton gets an even coating. Place onto a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, until they are light and crispy.

Next, puree the soup using a hand blender or food processor and whizz until smooth. Season to taste, and when you’re ready to serve, slowly reheat the soup over a medium heat – keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t boil as this would compromise the taste. Ladle into warm bowls, top with a handful of croutons and a generous scattering of cheese. 

Snug up and enjoy!

By Millie Norton

Friday, 24 October 2014

When I Grow Up...

There's nothing better than uncovering a hidden gem, and you'll definitely be in for a treat if you take a trip to MoonKo in Sheffield. We caught up with Debbie to find out a little more about what makes them so unique... 


How did MoonKo come about? 
When I became a mum for the first time, I was torn between going back to work and doing something I was passionate about, whilst spending as much time as I could with my little one. Being an artist myself I know how hard it is commercially to make money and make an income, so I wanted to provide a platform in which I could support graduates, students still studying etc.  From there it just evolved and grew, from a small idea to something I am really proud of and love. 

Have you always had an interest in design?
I have always loved design, which probably comes from my background. My dad is an amazing garden designer, who has done the odd Chelsea Flower show. He has a passion for simplicity and likes being surrounded by beautiful objects and floral influences, which has definitely rubbed off on me! I love the unique quality and quirkiness that British design brings to creative sector. It’s inventive, intuitive, not afraid to be bold, ask questions and be controversial as well as incredibly commercial.


What do you think of the growing Arts scene in Sheffield?  How does the shop fit into this? Sheffield is an amazing place (although I am a Brightonian) and I’ve lived here for 15 years, it’s my home.  It’s wonderful. It feels more like a village then a city - with the peaks on your door step. It’s such a creative place and always has been, it’s just more folks are taking notice. It’s full of little hubs, in the old industrial quarters where artists, makers, musicians are creating, recording and getting noticed. The shop is based on a Division Street,where there are lots of wonderful independent shops. and sits in an old 1960s prefab building, with the remnants of Sheffield past round every corner. The folks of Sheffield have been so supportive of our shop; it showcases lots of up and coming design, textiles, ceramics, home-ware you name it, from Sheffield and around the British isles. We also have regular pop up shops and exhibitions. My passion is for MoonKo to showcase such amazing work, that folks take notice, that here in Sheffield, there are beautiful and commercial wares being made.

 How does MoonKo work together with emerging talent?
I do lots of things outside of the shop, working with great organisations and charities, such as Ghost of Gone Birds and The ONCA gallery.  I work with emerging talent , not just sales in a shop context, but exhibitions, commissions etc.


How do you see Moonko in 5 years’ time? 
Wow, MoonKo in five years… there is a thought. Well, I would love to see more MoonKo shops open. Hopefully MoonKo will grow, supporting more amazing makers, creating jobs and supporting charities.

What's next for Moonko?
Lots of lovely MoonKo products and collaborations... watch this Space!



Interview by Victoria Rodrigues O’Donnell

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

DIY Clay Antler

It’s September and autumn is slowly establishing itself, so we wanted to share an easy DIY that can help you make that transition from summer in a small and inexpensive way. 





What you will need: 
White, air drying clay
Sand paper 
Optional: 
Waxed paper 
Tape 
Paint 


Step 1: 
Prepare your surface and clay. Clean the surface you will use just to make sure you don't get any hair or dirt on your clay. We decided to put some waxed paper down to save ruining our surface and secured with painter’s tape (it's easily removable). Divide your clay in half and take the portion of clay that you will not use and wrap it back up to prevent it from hardening. 


Step 2: 
Make the main branch. Mould the clay into a single clay branch that should be a bit thicker as it will be the base of the other branches you will add. 


Step 3:
Make smaller branches and attach them. This is where you can get creative. You can use the main branch as a guide to add as many small branches as you want. We made two branches and divided one of those into two more smaller branches. When you attach the smaller branches, make sure to add enough clay at the point where it connects to strengthen the link. Use your fingers to smooth it out and lessen its width. 


Step 4: 
Once you get the look that you desire, let it dry according to the instructions on the clay packaging. Once it’s dry, go back to sand the small bumps or imperfections that may be apparent and clean off the dust with a small rag. A little imperfection is OK and adds to the homemade look. We picked white clay because it has a natural off-white colour so if you don’t want to paint it, it still looks rather stylish. 

By Valerie Moreno 

You can find her blogging over at Nuance andBubbles Blog, taking daily snaps on Instagram, Tweeting away or pinning inspiration here

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Meet... Copper Garden

For the next instalment of our Meet the Blogger... series we grilled menswear fashion student Jessica from Copper Garden. Read on to find more about the girl behind the blog...



My name is Jessica, but you can call me Jess. I'm 22 years old and a fashion student at University for the Creative Arts in Epsom. But unlike 90% of design students, I do menswear.I would be so lost if I didn't blog and I definitely think my bank balance would be a little bit healthier.. but I sure as hell wouldn't be having as much fun.I love cosmopolitans, have a car named George and I want a pet sheep. I'd be lying if I said I was anything close to normal - but the best people are the weirdest!

Ok, first up who is 'Copper Garden' for those that don't already know? 
Copper Garden is a little 5ft2 girl named Jess - or myself. I'm 22, living just outside of London and studying towards a degree in menswear design.

How long have you been blogging, and what made you want start it in the first place? 
I began with YouTube at the age of 16/17 but my camera was terrible and despite doing quite well, I got embarrassed when people I knew found out (hence the video I did with fellow youtuber 'its simply beauty' about why you shouldn't be embarrassed). It wasn't until I was almost 19 that I realised I missed the community so I began a blog - again with terrible pictures. I kept it secret from everyone until my boyfriend saw blogger open on my laptop and he's been my photographer ever since! 


 What inspires your blog posts?
I go to lookbook quite a bit for inspiration, there are so many amazingly dressed people around the world who post to there so its good for getting ideas - its helped me wear clothes that haven't left my wardrobes in months or years! I do mostly post my own personal style pictures because this is what I most enjoy reading and find the most enjoyable. Its also cool to think that in a few years, I can look back and compare my style then to now.

How would you describe your style? 
 Quite boyish. I don't tend to wear many feminine shapes, patterns or styles. My main outfits include trousers and an oversized top! I think my style is a mixture of Alexa Chung and the Olsens 

What three items can you not live without?
My Macbook (ironic as it just broke), Canon 600d and iPhone - how typical of me! Can I say four and add a cosy jumper?



 What do you get up to when you're not blogging? 
 I'm normally doing uni work, seeing my friends and boyfriend, making some menswear to add to my portfolio or watching Hollyoaks. Its my guilty pleasure. 

 Tell us something no one else knows about you... 
 I absolutely love Star Wars and Harry Potter.

What other bloggers are on your reading list?
 I follow a nice mix of bloggers, I love reading my feed and seeing a mixture of fashions. My current favourites are Tilly Jayne, Paige JoannaThe Fashion Wonderland, A Design Rookie and so many more. I couldn't give you a favourite!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Bon Appetit...

We were lucky enough to be invited to Three's French cooking class in celebration of their new Feel At Home tariff. We sent our self-confessed Francophile features writer Amy along and she wasn't disappointed...

"On a hot Saturday afternoon I arrived at Madame Gautier cookery school to learn how to cook Filet de Boeuf En Croƻte. (Or beef wellington to you non-foodies). Our lovely teacher Adam began with a demonstration, showing us firstly how to cook the mushrooms with shallots and thyme (seriously the most amazing mushrooms I have ever eaten), then prepare and seal the beef and finally demonstrating how to wrap it up in puff pastry. Then it was down to us to attempt our own; cue lots of questions asked and answered with plenty of patience by Adam.


"I learnt so much in this class including my favourite tip on chopping onions without tears; leave the root on until the last minute and breathe in through the mouth and out through the nose. I only started eating meat last year after a number of years as a veggie and have never cooked beef before. The class gave me so much confidence in handling and cooking beef, which was an added bonus for me.  And we all got a taste of Adam’s demo dish, which was delicious.



"We took away our dishes to bake at home – this resulted in me carefully carrying it home on the tube, nursing it like a small child.  It made it home in one piece and was baked and eaten the following night… it was damn tasty and earned me some brownie points from the boyfriend!"





If you would like to attempt to make your own, here’s the recipe.

Beef Wellington
500-600g beef fillet steak
350g ready to roll puff pastry

For the Mushroom Duxelle
150g mushrooms (any)
1 small onion – finely diced
2 cloves garlic
1tbsp Dijon mustard
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

For the Pancakes
4oz (115g) flour
2 eggs
Half pint of milk
Pinch of salt
Pinch of mixed herbs

Start by rubbing oil, salt and pepper onto the steak, then fry the fillet in a dry pan until it has caramelised and has a deep rich brown outside. Remove the steak from the pan and place to one side to allow to cool.

In the same pan, fry the finely diced onion, thyme and garlic for 1-2 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the mustard and cook for a further couple of minutes.

Remove the onion and garlic from the pan, add a little oil and turn the heat up before add in the mushrooms.

Fry the mushrooms in small batches, so that they fry quickly and caramelise, rather than stewing and leaking all of their water into the pan. Once the mushrooms are cooked, introduce the onions back to the pan and mix together until even. Put all of the mix into a food processor and blend until smooth enough to spread. If you like, you can add a splash of cream to help.

To make the pancakes, crack the two eggs into a jug with the milk and whisk until combined. Add the herbs and salt to the flour.

Slowly pour the milk and eggs on to the flour, whisking continuously until a smooth batter. Pass the mix through a sieve to remove any lumps.

Fry 3-4 pancakes in the same frying pan again. This will ensure that all the flavour from the beef and mushrooms is kept, rather than going to waste

Once all of the components have cooled, you can start to build the Wellington. Roll out the pastry, until it is roughly the thickness of a pound coin.

Lay the pancakes out, so that there is enough surface area to fully coat the beef. Spread the mushroom duxelle over the pancakes before topping with the beef.

Finally, roll the pancakes and pastry around the beef, before sealing the pastry at the bottom, and trimming away any excess pastry.

When you are ready to cook, egg wash completely and place in the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven at 220C for 35-40 minutes.

The longer it is cooked, the more well done the beef will be. For a medium cook, 35 minutes should be sufficient; however this does vary from oven to oven.

Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

By Amy Peck