“Admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own.”
– Lisa Lieberman-Wang
I had no idea what to expect when invited to spend a day in an immersive Miele Countertop Steam Oven masterclass at London’s Rosewood Hotel with Frederick Forster (Head Chef at Le Pont de la Tour) – besides the obvious culinary fangirling – but left feeling like I had discovered health hack everyone has been looking for.
Having steamed very little beyond vegetables in my own kitchen, I was amazed to chat with Frederick about his personal experiences with Miele’s slick little appliance. He taught our small group of ‘foodie types’ how to create everything from fresh yogurt to kedgeree with a perfectly poached egg to steamed veggie bao buns to one of the juciest cakes I’ve ever had the pleasure of nibbling – all in the steam oven.
As far as the science of steam in concerned, the process actually allows food to retain more of its vitamins, colour, nutrients and texture, making it something of an arch nemesis to a traditional microwave (which, as you probably know, zaps the life out of any food that dare enter). In fact, it takes up little more room than one but proves 100 times more useful, healthy, and impressive. Its knack for simultaneous cooking on three levels without flavour transfer even bests most conventional ovens. The possibilities are truly endless.
Over the next three months, I’m going to be recreating a few of Frederick’s recipes at home and reporting back to you with a few of my own.
Having spent so much of my childhood pirouetting, spank-stepping, and piqué turning, I recently found myself with a near-neurotic need to get my dancing shoes back on. Without the tyrannical competitive edge of my youth, that is.
This – along with some furious Googling – landed me with a month-long BikiniFIT pass to Seen on Screen Fitness that has made me sublimely happy. Rather than hoarding masses into a Zumba studio and teaching them to “dance”, Seen on Screen holds song or mashup-led dance classes taught by professional dancers all over London. This not only means you learn to dance like the likes of Beyonce, Justin, Britney, Rihanna, but you get a adrenaline-pumping sweat on with the best of the best in the industry.
I have adored every single class and teacher I have had the pleasure of spending time with over the past month; even after making the body-trembling mistake of following a Fifth Harmony Masterclass with a Lemonade mashup masterclass the day before an eleven-mile hike across the Seven Sisters.
For the final class of my first pass – a Beyonce Formation workshop – I donned a few new dancewear investments. While doing a little menswear gift shopping on Infinities, I realised they not only had the trainers I had wanted for ages (which are always sold out in the ‘ladies’ version) but a solid selection of ‘menswear’ that could make me feel as badass as my decade-long unisex dance heroine.
You can see the duds in action in the Instagram video, below.
What I Wore:
Neon sports bra (similar here)
Denim button-up shirt (similar here)
Polo Ralph Lauren terry track pants in Silver/Grey from Infinities
White NIKE Huarache Run Ultra Trainers from Infinities
When the launch of Flora Freedom and The Boy’s birthday came along at the same time, it only seemed serendipitous to make the most gloriously gooey vegan chocolate fudge cake you’ll ever lay lips on.
I’ve made a non-vegan version of this bad boy a few times but as I’ve started eating mostly vegan and vegetarian food at home, I thought I’d challenge myself to make a vegan alternative. The good news? It is better than its non-vegan counterpart.
This is thanks in large part to Flora Freedom; the brand’s new plant-based butter alternative is completely free from artificial preservatives, colours and flavours, has 60% less saturated fat than butter, and is Vegan & Vegetarian Society approved.
Whether you’re swapping dairy out for a day or a lifetime, this spread (and this cake!) are essentially vegan squad goals.
For the icing and filling –
75g Flora Freedom
175g icing sugar
3 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp of soya or coconut milk
For the cakes –
175g self-raising flour
2 tbsp cacao powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g caster sugar
2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 tbsp water mixture (works as an egg replacement)
150 ml (1/4 pint) sunflower oil
150 ml (1/4 pint) soya or coconut milk
2 tbsp golden syrup
To garnish –
Vegan/dairy-free chocolate of your choice, grated (I adore the Artisan du Chocolat Orchid & Orange Blossom Dark Bar, for flavour, but it is completely up to you!)
How-to make the best dairy-free chocolate fudge cake, ever:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/350F then grease two 18cm (7-inch) cake tins.
2. Sieve the flour, cacao and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl, followed by the sugar. Mix well.
3. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add the syrup, egg replacement mixture, oil and ‘milk’ of your choice. Beat well with an electric whisk until smooth.
4. Spoon the mixture into the two tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.
5. Remove from oven and leave to cool before turning upside down onto a cooling rack.
6. To make your icing, place Flora Freedom in a bowl and beat until soft. Gradually sift and beat in the icing sugar and cocoa powder then add enough of your chosen milk (a splash tends to be enough) to make the icing soft and spreadable.
7. When cool, ice the top of one cake with your icing and sandwich the other cake on top. Then cover the sandwich’s sides and top with the rest of the icing.
8. To ‘jazz it up’, use a knife to carve a light swirl into the top of the icing (it’s not easy – as my mistakes show! – but perfection isn’t necessary) and garnish the sides with your grated chocolate pieces.
Last week, I finally made it down to the Fashion and Textile Museum with Farfetch and a few blogging loves to view the designers’ showcase and left completely charmed.
From the 1970s, Ottavio Missoni chose large wall hangings – made with knitted patchwork – as the focus for his artistic expression and all things artistic (the exhibit features pieces from Gianni Monnet and Sonia Delaunay) and tactile (just wait until you see the triangle of archived pieces) tell the couple’s sartorial story beautifully.
We chased the excursion with a trip to the 31st floor of The Shard for afternoon tea at Aqua which, though brilliant, paled in comparison to the viewss and reiterated just how powerful art and architecture influence our concepts of beauty.