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Brunch hotspots in London
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Brunch is one of those fantastic things to do in the weekend when it feels like you have all the time in the world. It's a perfect activity to do with your best friends, family, your lover or even alone if you feel like spoiling yourself. My favourite thing about brunch is that you can eat and drink whatever you want; sweet, savoury, meat, fish, vegetarian, coffee,  Bloody Mary's, juice, anything goes. And if you're indecisive you can even get dishes that combine all the good things, such as bacon pancakes, yum, whoever came up with that is a true genius.

Brunch started being a thing in late 19th century England. And as I am living in London, I'm lucky to have lots of choice when looking for a good brunch place. Some of my favourites are:

J+A in Clerkenwell, it's a lovely cafe hidden in a courtyard just of the main road. They have a lot of choice, but the only real reason you should go is simply because they have bacon pancakes.

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Bistrotheque in East London, it's quite hard to find if you don't have the address, so it's a place where true locals go. The restaurant is really light and they have a live pianist, to make your brunch even more enjoyable.

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Oxo tower Brasserie at the riverside, I wasn't too impressed with the look of the restaurant itself, but they present the food beautifully and it tastes great.

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And I still really want to go to the Duck & Waffle and Beagle. I'd love to hear what your favourite brunch places are, so let me know in a comment :)

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Sweet potato burgers
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Who doesn't love a good burger now and then? I certainly do. Burgers used to be the kind of unhealthy food you could only get at snackbars, but nowadays (especially in the UK) burgers are everywhere. They come in all sorts, made from beef, chicken or salmon, topped with crispy bacon, truffle mayonnaise, avocado, quails eggs and so on. And the best thing is that burgers are not necessarily unhealthy anymore! You can eat them bunless, with salads as a side or you can just go for a veggie burger. I would normally not switch my beef burger for a vegetarian version, but I'll make an exception for these delicious sweet potato burgers I found on BBC Good Food. The ingredients for four burgers are:

  • 140 gr brown rice

  • 850g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

  • olive oil

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds

  • 1 small red onion, very finely chopped

  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

  • small pack basil, leaves finely shredded, stalks discarded

  • 1 avocado

  • 2 tbsp lime juice


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Preparation:

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cook the rice following the pack instructions, then drain. Spread the rice out on a baking tray to steam-dry – it needs to be as dry as possible before adding to the sweet potatoes.

  2. Meanwhile, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil and the cumin. Season and spread out in a large roasting tin in a single layer. Roast the potatoes for 30 mins until tender and coloured, but not too crisp. Meanwhile, put the sunflower seeds in a cup, cover with water and set aside to soak while the sweet potatoes cook.

  3. Put some olive oil in a small saucepan and set over a low-medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, for 5 mins. Add the chilli, and cook for 5 mins more until very soft.

  4. Drain the sunflower seeds, pat dry on kitchen paper and tip into a large mixing bowl with the sweet potatoes. Crush gently using a masher or the back of a fork. Add the rice, onion mixture, half the basil and seasoning to taste. Continue to crush together until the mixture is well mixed but not smooth. Form into 4 x 10cm diameter burger patties. You can be make them up to 48 hrs ahead – keep covered and chilled until needed and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 mins before cooking.

  5. Put the patties on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Roast for 30 mins until warmed through and beginning to brown.

  6. Make the salsa in a bowl by combining the avocado with the lime juice, remaining basil and seasoning to taste.


You can serve the burgers on a bun, with fries, or salad, whatever you like. Enjoy!

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In the mood for Italian food
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Summer may be officially over, but we can always try to recreate the taste and feel of summer with a good recipe. With all the photos coming in from Milan Fashion Week (especially those from the colourful Dolce & Gabbana show) I'm personally craving the taste of Italy, and so I wanted to share a pasta dish that a friend of mine once cooked for me and that always brings back my memories of the Tuscan sun even when I'm in (rainy) London.

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.08.33 Street style in sunny Milano

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Ingredients for approximately 4 servings

  • 400 gr. pasta (I always choose a large type of pasta for this recipe, such as Conchiglie)

  • 200 gr. truffle salami (if you can't find truffle salami, you can use normal salami and truffle oil)

  • 1 large red onion

  • 400 gr. chestnut mushrooms

  • 4 hands full of rucola

  • 12 sundried tomatoes

  • 200 gr. crème fraîche

  • parmesan cheese

  • olive oil


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Preparation method

  1. Cut the onion

  2. heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan, add the onion and cook until soft

  3. In the meantime cut the mushrooms, and add them to the onion

  4. Boil water for the pasta and cook them following the instructions on the package

  5. Cut the salami in small strips and fry for a couple of minutes

  6. Cut the sun-dried tomatoes in half and add them to the pan

  7. Stir in the crème fraîche

  8. Add the rucola and mix well

  9. Drain the pasta when it's ready and add to the sauce

  10. Serve with parmesan cheese


Buon appetito!

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Photo sources top to bottom: my own, Phil Oh, Alessandro Garofalo / Indigitalimages.com, rest: my own

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Peach & Prosciutto salad
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The weather is getting better and better which means that the time for summer salads is upon us again. I recently tried this salad with peach and prosciutto and this will definitely go on my favourites list. I absolutely love summer fruits like strawberries, raspberries, and peaches because it's so easy to make great dishes with them. They are perfect for smoothies or cakes and when you combine them with cheese, herbs or prosciutto (like in this recipe) they make for a delicious salad. You can eat this salad for lunch or even for dinner, but you might want to add some ciabatta for some extra filling. The ingredients you need for approximately two servings are the following:

  • 120 gr. mixed leaf salad

  • almonds, about a small handful

  • 3 peaches

  • 120 gr. goats' cheese

  • prosciutto, about 6 strips

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp vinegar

  • 2 tsp honey

  • 1 tsp mustard

  • optional: ciabatta


These are the quantities I used, but you can adapt them to your personal preference.

Preparation method

  1. Cook the prosciutto for 2-3 minutes or just before it gets crispy. Let it cool down and cut it into small pieces.

  2. Peel the peaches and slice them.

  3. Chop the almonds, and cut the goats' cheese.

  4. Then mix the almonds, peaches, prosciutto and goats' cheese with the mixed leaf salad.

  5. Whisk the olive oil with the vinegar, honey, and mustard and drizzle over the salad.


Enjoy!

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Coffee cravings - London
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A couple of years ago the UK was definitely not a coffee country. If you wanted a proper cup you really had to just drink tea or go to a coffee chain such as Starbucks, Costa or Cafe Nero. But a lot has changed since then. Especially in London. Of course, there's still a Starbucks on almost every street corner, but if you know where to look you'll find a lot of nice coffee bars that serve very good coffee. These are some of my favourite places which I found through The London Coffee Guide (2014) and by just wandering around.

Store St. EspressoThis coffee bar, which is around the corner of UCL, was my coffee haven during exam time. Store St. is a really nice light cafe with friendly staff. Perfect for a quick coffee to go as well as for catching up with a friend.

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The AttendantThe Attendant is located in a former Victorian public lavatory, which might as well be the most original location for a coffee bar in all of London. It does sound a bit weird to have coffee in a place that people used as a loo, but it's actually not. The place is renovated in a very stylish way to make sure everyone enjoys their coffee and food to the fullest.

Monocle caféThis cafe is a spin-off from the Monocle magazine. Just like the magazine it's very polished and quite hipster chique. It's a small cafe so perfect for a quick coffee before you go and explore the shops of Marylebone or indulge yourself in the art at the Wallace Collection.

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AppestatAppestat is a lovely cafe located in the Camden Passage in Islington. The owners are really friendly and I always find it a pleasure to go for a coffee there. Apart from coffee, they sell a range of artisan products such as cheese and charcuterie.

The Coffee Works ProjectNext to Appestat you can find the Coffee Works Project, which is always buzzing with life. The best thing about this cafe is the garden in the back, which, if the weather allows it, is a perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Look mum no hands!This is a coffee bar and bike shop in one, so you can have a coffee while you're waiting for your bike to be repaired. Look mum no hands! is a very colourful place, decorated with cool bike accessories. The coffee as well as the food is delicious.

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Some other places I'd recommend are: Ginger & WhiteNude Espressoand Shoreditch GrindBut this is really just a small selection of the great coffee bars in London. I'm sure that in a months time I've already visited places I could add to my favourites list.

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Festive pear & rosemary cocktail
pear_rosemary_coktailI am a big fan of cocktails and especially like drinking them on festive occasions such as Christmas and New Year's Eve. They usually look pretty and they add a little extra to a party, especially when they are homemade. This pear and rosemary cocktail is not too difficult to make if you have the right equipment.

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The recipe is as follows:

  • 50 ml Vodka

  • 25 ml pear puree

  • 10 ml simple syrup

  • 10 ml fresh lemon juice

  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary


  • Gently muddle the rosemary sprigs in the base of a shaker. Add the remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

    I personally love the interesting herby flavour the rosemary adds. And this cocktail is not too sweet, so it suits (almost) all tastes.

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