You ask for it and you get it, guys and dolls: the bolognese recipe to beat all bolognese recipes. The rather impromptu Instagram Stories how-to I posted a few weeks ago received more comments than any other Story I have uploaded to date.

A lot of drool emojis. A lot of recipe requests. A lot of “why don’t you just use a packet sauce, Lela?”.

Because once you have the best you don’t mess with the rest, mi amigos.

Luckily, this bolognese looks (and tastes) far more complex than it is in practice. The recipe is all about layering flavours and textures, not any kind of culinary finesse. My favourite part of the recipe is actually its secret ingredient – a can of Nescafe Azera Nitro. I’ve only added it to the recipe within the last month and a few swigs of its super-smooth, nitrogen-infused coffee practically turns the moreish sauce into edible velvet.

(If that’s not selling point enough, it’s also worth noting that a caffeine and carb combo might be the undiscovered pick-me-up food hack of the century.)

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
– Your pasta of choice (I’m not going to be precious about it – the magic is in the sauce)
– A can of Nescafe Azera Nitro Americano (to taste)
– A glug of cheap red wine (scientific measurement)
– A box/tube/of high quality passata
– Three cloves of garlic
– One large carrot, finely chopped
– One onion, finely chopped
– An aubergine, some mushrooms, or whatever else you like the ‘squish’ of
– A 500g pack of beef mince (or a vegetarian substitute)
– One beef stock cube (again, so veggie if preferred)
– A large stalk of celery, finely chopped
– Two raw chillis
– One red pepper
– A lifetime supply or oregano (or about 10 tablespoons)
– Cacao nibs
– Two bay leaves
– High quality olive oil
– One tablespoon of truffle oil
– A sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano or grated cheddar
– Salt and pepper (to taste). A good salt, like Halen Mon (my favourite) or Maldon (more readily available), will make a huge difference.

How to make the best bolognese in the universe:
1. Chop all your veg to death. Microscopic style.
2. Throw your garlic, chillis and onion into a small pool of olive oil in a large frying pan. Cook at a medium-high heat for one to two minutes.
3. Add the rest of your chopped veg incrementally, based on weight. This translates to carrots first, celery last.
4. Season with salt and pepper once cooked and push to the side of the pan.
5. Next to the veg, pop your mince in and cover it in oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Once one side is browned, flip the mince over neatly and oregano the bejesus out of the other side.
7. Break the mince down and combine with the veg. Add the truffle oil and sprinkle a beef stock cube over the mixture.
8. After a minute or so of cooking, cover everything in passata, sprinkle on some cacao nibs, and dust in as much dried chilli as you can handle.
9. While that cooks, prepare your pasta in a separate pan.
10. As the liquid begins to reduce, add glugs of wine and Azera Nitro Americano. The wine will add sweetness, if preferred, but I prefer to pour more coffee in. Taste as you go.
11. After ten or so minutes – when everything smells and tastes like you’ve died and gone to Italy – combine the sauce and pasta.
12. Dish out with some Parmigiano Reggiano and drink the rest of the wine you didn’t use. Bon appetit!

best bolognese recipe
best bolognese recipe
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murder mystery dinner london
I am a murder mystery kind of woman. Like many of you, I was raised on ridiculous slasher films and televised crime scene investigations that were as entertaining as they were disconcerting.

In fact when Billy and Stu proved my killer theory correct (horror OGs, you know what I’m talking about) at the ripe old age of seven I genuinely considered a career in crime-solving. At least cinematically.

Murder mysteries are puzzles, personified, and I could not get enough.

When I spotted an overnight murder mystery package on BuyAGift (looking to buy someone else a gift, natch) I couldn’t pass it up. And I’m so glad I didn’t.

After receiving my code it took nothing but an e-mail to book a night at one of Murder 57’s London murder mystery dinners and that fateful night (I could contain myself, but I won’t) began with a mingle around a Kingston hotel’s bar.

Before long, ‘dinner guests’ became cast members and a woman I’ve never met got bludgeoned to death. It was bloody fantastic.

Over the course of the next few hours, The Boy and I took short breaks from a delicious three-course meal to play a modern Nick and Nora Charles. With the requisite level of booze and banter.

At £179 for two, it was killer value (excuse the pun). The night was immersive, the room was cosy, and the clues were complex enough to elicit the most ridiculous murder motives I have ever seen a group of adults come up with. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Not sure how to spend Halloween this year? This has your name all over it.

shania twain outfit
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reusable notebook
Timeless. Innovative. Groundbreaking. They aren’t words I would ever imagine using to describe an A5 notebook.

Nonetheless, they fit my GreenStory notebook to tee. So much so I’ve decided to dedicate an entire blog to the humble stationary.

(Before you call the asylum, it’s absolutely worth your time to hear a sister out)…

I came across GreenStory a few weeks ago and immediately wanted to kick myself for not thinking it up first. Their concept is so simple, ethical and powerful it could drive a million earth-loving entrepreneurs mad.

Essentially, GreenStory sell reusable whiteboard notebooks. Notebooks that serve every conceivable schedule. Notebooks with endless add-ons and planners. Notebooks that are built to last through every idea, day, list, and project you need them for.

If you can’t tell already, I’m bloody obsessed with mine. I ordered the A5 all-in-one GreenBook, a luxe vegan leather notebook cover (in Sand), a handful of pens, and hit the ground running.

When everything arrived, my oft-troubled OCD went wild. Everything is customisable. The brand offer a huge range of erasable, ‘clickable’ pages and add-ons that allow you to fill your notebook with your exact needs. You can quite literally plan, list, and create to your heart’s content without ever having to throw something away.

You can simply erase small errors or completed tasks with the felt eraser on the back of your Magic Pen or erase full pages using the microfibre wipe and a few drops of water (their spray can also be used when your pages haven’t been erased in a while!).

Beyond the obvious eco benefits, you can also scan pages using the iOS ‘Notities’ or the Camscanner app for direct-to-digital backups (which I do, often!). It is also crazy light, crazy green, and crazy handy. The cover alone not only feels like velvet in the hand but is filled with pockets for everything (it has become my business card and receipt holders of choice).

It’s funny really, I used to be such a little notebook collector. Since my adolescent introduction to Harriet The Spy and her very important lined sidekick, I have kept an erratic slew of thoughts and lists in many forms. When I was in high school I opted for the sparkliest pads around and would doodle a whole lot of nothing in fruit-scented ink before airplaning pages to my friends. When I was going through a tough time as young adult I kept a white, pocket-sized notebook and used it as a tool to process hurt feelings, letting go as I recycled each day’s page. When I was getting my NCTJ, it was a veritable stream of illegible shorthand notebooks shoved into every bag I owned.

I lost the habit when I started carrying laptops, phones and cameras where my thoughts used to be.

It wasn’t until I was listening to an interview with one of my favourite chefs, Samin Nosrat, that I realised how much I missed the company of a notebook. She used her own as a manifestation journal, recording her goals and ideas so she could process them and remain accountable. It was a practice I had unknowingly adopted over many years and one I now believe made me stronger and smarter.

They don’t call it taking note for nothing, eh? The GreenBook is, undeniably, time and money well spent (and they offer a 10% student discount for those of you who need a helping hand like I did!).

reusable notebook
reusable notebook
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little blue door london
It has been a hot minute since I’ve recommended a bar-first venue to you gastro-obsessed babes (takes one to know one!), but I think The Little Blue Door might just tick all your boxes.

Firstly, the concept is ridiculous. The venue itself is hidden behind a blue residential door and is managed by a ‘bunch of friendly flatmates’ who want you to treat their quirky little house like its your own.

If you’re not drinking the hipster Kool-aid, you’ll realise that it is – in fact – a bar. With food and cocktails. Like other bars.

What sets its apart is its infectious attitude. The Fulham-standard ‘flatmates’ are audacious, unusually attractive, and welcome you with the affection of a best friend at a house party. It’s weird. And wonderful.

Settling into their Shoreditch-style sitting room, I sifted through their list of cocktails (all based on the flatmates’ favourite films and TV shows) and settled on the Godfather Part II. Like revenge, it’s a drink best served cold, and blended a promising mix of Slane Irish Whisky, Disaronno, apple and cloves.

My mid-week sensibilities opted to steer clear of their house party hooches (like The Mick Jagger Bomb -Bombay Sapphire Gin, Crème de Violet, Maraschino & Prosecco) but bookmarked them for a future weekend visit to their ‘recovery buffet’.

The food, after all, was surprisingly great; the best philly cheese steak I’ve had this side of the Atlantic (with arguably better bread), a truffle-heavy mac & cheese, chips as crispy as their salt & pepper squid, and all the trimmings.

I planned my second visit (supper club, I’m coming!) before I finished my first. It’s a schismatic set-up but one every guest seemed to love – if that’s not blog-worthy, nothing is.

little blue door london
little blue door london
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Bar a few ‘accent’ pieces, most of the non-sartorial things I own are so carefully compiled they can be thrown together anywhere I move and make a house a home. It was a conscious choice; I knew white, gold, black and reclaimed wood would always work together no matter what era or price point I found each piece in.

It has, however, meant I haven’t taken the time to update my ever-travelling home interiors in years. Even after moving into the refurbished riverside military barrack of dreams.

I needed to scratch the itch and was quite literally enveloped in the perfect way to do so while on a weekend trip to the seaside. Though I wouldn’t be able to fit the four-poster bed I was luxuriating in inside my own bedroom, I could make my own hotel bed at home.

Rather that simply changing the look of something, I could tackle the feel. I could treat myself to a hotel-worthy mattress and raid the end-of-season sales for luxe new bedding to match.

It was the mattress that stumped me. While I have always been able to find luxury shopping deals with Sherlock-style sovereignty, I had no idea where to start with mattress shopping. Then, along came Leesa. In an inarguable muddle of modern mattress ‘concepts’, Leesa piqued my interest with five-star review after five-star review. To which they’ll now have to add my own.

The Leesa mattress is different. It has been designed from the inside out and meticulously engineered to offer a universally comfortable sleep. Their three premium foam layers work together to contour around your body (squishy pressure relief, tick!), support your core (no matter how you sleep!), and regulate your temperature (unlike many mattresses that offer this level of comfort!). And they believe in it so much they offer a 100-night free trial with free delivery and returns.

They’re also wildly easy to set up. Your mattress comes wrapped up in a box – whether it’s a single or a super king – and you simply unpack it onto your solid or slatted foundation to begin. From there, you simply unwrap it from its plastic and watch it expand into its full shape.

From there, it’s love at first night. We were genuinely distressed to get out of bed the first weekend we set it up.

If you’re thinking about treating yourself to your very own, I’ve managed to wrangle a discount code for you to receive £100 off the Leesa mattress of your choice! Simply use the code LELALONDON at checkout (and know that each purchase does some good, as well, as Leesa donate one mattress for every ten they sell and plant a tree for each order)!

The Leesa mattress is also available to try in the London and Kingston-Upon Thames West Elm locations before using my discount code online.


happy home

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