Archive by Author

Dulche Dreams

6 Mar


It’s over a week since I returned from a trip to Argentina and Uruguay and I’m mainly dreaming of this dulche de leche spread which I slathered on toast. Every day. For breakfast. In the glorious sunshine.

x Loulou

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Happily Ever After

10 Feb


A wedding present for a special couple who woo-ed one another over scrabble.

The message is laid out in scrabble pieces on Liberty print paper. I later added their names to the scrabble, as they fitted in perfectly, and the wedding date to the mount.

x Loulou

Bread Bounty

19 Jan


The aroma of freshly baked bread is one of the most incredible smells, especially if you’ve baked it yourself. Having had a go at a few of James Morton’s Brilliant Bread recipes with mixed success, I was really excited to attend the day breadmaking class at Real Patisserrie in Brighton, an amazing cafe/bakery that make the best fruit danish.

Using a sour dough starter, we made focaccia loaves, rye sour dough, white rolls and baguettes, and learnt all the kneading, proving, dusting techniques of a professional. We also had a tour of the kitchens and learnt all about the running of a successful bakery.

Coming away at the end of the day with new bread-making skills, the mystery of sour dough starters revealed – and a little pot of starter to make our own with, and a bag full to the brim of warm bread, was just incredible.

x Loulou

An Italian Christmas

20 Dec

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This year, my work celebrated Christmas by cooking up an Italian feast. We took part in a one day Italian cookery class at Cucina Caldesi, the cookery school attached to Caffe Caldesi in Marylebone. Arriving to the school, down an old cobbled street, felt like stepping into a Christmas carol – the kitchen was strewn with boughs of holy and ivy, nuts and dried oranges.

We were taught how to make fresh tortelli with two types of fillings, stuffed courgettes, pistachio-crusted baked salmon and a dessert of orange and polenta cake, served with baked figs. Once all the hard work in the kitchen was over, we sat down and enjoyed our meal together.

Here’s hoping for a pasta maker in a Pick Me Up stocking.

x Loulou

Happy Birthday, yeah?

10 Dec

For a girl who loves cake – with turrets, please. Happy Birthday, yeah?

x Loulou

Venetian Food and Dreams

5 Dec

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Venice is a real special place to the Pick Me Up house and in Venezia: Food and Dreams, Tessa Kiros perfectly captures the magic and beauty of the city that we love. As well as featuring delicious cicchetti and trattoria-style recipes so typical of Venetian dining, the book is an open love letter to the city, splashed with memories and notes written by Kiros. The book is also stunningly beautiful – with gold-edged pages and foil detailed typography, and packed with rich photography of the food and scenery.

Along with Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook, this is my go-to Italian recipe book, not only for the recipes but for the memories it conjures of time spent in the city – evoking those evenings of aperol spritz, pizza in Campo Santa Margherita, and seafood by the lagoon. These books feed us week in week out, satisfying our appetites for food and dreams with staples such as polenta and sausages, crostini, risi e bisi, and any number of tasty risottos. We’re working up to sarde in saor.

Venetian cuisine really comes into it’s own when cooking for large amounts of people. For a recent dinner, held to celebrate the (alarmingly) five years since Grace and I were living in Venice, we cooked a family-style feast for our seven guests, with recipes taken from these favourite books. With prosecco, aperol spritz, homemade limoncello and tiramisu for dessert all taken care of by our Venetian friends, we concentrated on the savoury, serving a selection of anitipasti to start, followed by a deliciously slow-cooked chicken. The antipasti included crostini topped with rocket and walnut pesto and anchovy and chickpea, a platter of italian cured meats and caprese stacks of tomato, mozarella and bazil. The chicken, Kiros’ pollo con pomodoro in tecia, was slow cooked in a large dish with a stock made from blended tomatoes, celery, onion, wine, rosemary and parsley and served with a hearty helping of creamy polenta and roasted radicchio and red peppers laced with anchovy and capers. Va bene!

x Loulou

Train Reading

28 Nov

Today I spent 5 hours on trains and a lot of that time was devoted to Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Reading on train journeys in such a treat. As I’ve been travelling all over the place lately, I’ve worked my way through a tonne of the books I’ve been meaning to read, but there are always more waiting. I have ‘to-read’ lists and post-its all over the place! Here’s a selection from the list that I’d like to read by the end of the year (and a handy *hint, hint* Christmas list for anyone wondering what to get me). There are classics and New York Times bestsellers, recommendations from friends and Man Booker winners….

Beautiful Ruins – Jess Walter

The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

NW – Zadie Smith

Dust – Hugh Howey

The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje

All Quiet on The Orient Express – Magnus Mills

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp – Eva Rice

The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

Wish me luck!

X Loulou

Resort Florals

22 Nov

After an autumn of leather-capped sleeves and all things grey, I’m currently longing for florals, which might explain why I’ve fallen head over heels for Valentino’s Resort 2014 Collection.

Resort collections have always seemed so romantic to me – designed especially for that spring cruise or trip to your private tropical island – and these magical, feminine dresses with bold embroidery and colourful florals make me want to fly away, pronto.

Sadly way out of my budget,  but we can all dream, right? Perhaps it’s time to for us Pick Me Up girls to have another go at recreating a catwalk look.

x Loulou

Pineapples

21 Oct

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Have I mentioned I love pineapples? My collection of pineapple necklaces is growing at a frightening rate. But they make me happy…

X Loulou

Leather-capped Sleeves

12 Sep

I’m not usually one for autumn – all the sensible boots and muted colour spins me into a case of the SADs – but this year I’ve embraced the season, leather-capped sleeves and all. Celine paved the leather way with this beautiful pleated skirt and the high street followed – I now boast a leather skirt, grey, leather-sleeved dress from M&S, and you can’t get an H&M t-shirt these days without a healthy dose of leather trimming. Zara have always done a mean line in leather jackets and, right now, this quilted number is the one I’m after…

x Loulou

Pick Me Up in Paradise

28 Aug

20131203-215104.jpgNothing better than a good old-fashioned holiday.

X Loulou

Bruschetta

13 Aug

Bruschetta is one staple lunchtime treat that has appeared on our plates all summer, in various forms. It makes a simple, thrown-together summertime lunch; toasted slices of fresh bread are scraped with a garlic clove, then topped with a delightful mix of cherry tomatoes, capers, basil, prosciutto, a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon. Another popular variation involves a combination of smashed avocado, chilli, garlic and lemon. Delicious.

I’m already thinking of ways to adapt this into a hearty autumnal snack – topped with a warm chilli or crispy pancetta and chestnuts, perhaps.

X Loulou

The Novel Cure

23 Jul

Pick Me Up Blog - Novel Cure

I loved this idea at Latitude Festival this weekend – a bibliotherapy ambulance administering literary remedies for common ailments; the novel cure. Sign up for a consultation, share your ailment – stuck in a rut, heartbroken, stressed – and a book is suggested to help you on the road to recovery.

It got me thinking about which books have acted as a cure for me in the past. There are those which struck me in a particular way at a particular time, some so devastatingly sad that they trigger a ‘life’s not so bad after all’ reality check and then those so unashamedly uplifting that I turn to them again and again as pure escapism, a comfort blanket, a distraction.

The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith
A psychological thriller to get wrapped up in. Tom Ripley is cold and calculating, yet endearing, and you end up willing him to succeed as he ends up in predicament after predicament, swapping comically between identities in a bid to survive at all costs. The description of 1950’s Italy is delicious.

Bridget Jones’ Diary, Helen Fielding
A huge cliche, but I don’t think there are many women of my generation for whom Bridget isn’t some kind of icon (dare I say role model?). Returning to read this book is like catching up with an old friend for a good, ridiculous gossip.

The Secret History, Donna Tartt
I think the first time I read this was just before I went off to university. I really enjoyed it. Not sure what that says about my expectations of uni, but I’ve loved this book ever since.

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Magically nostalgic, this is an epic story of dysfunction and demise. I wish I’d had a teddy bear called Aloysius.

One Day, David Nicholls
Whatever you do, don’t watch the film. Anne Hathaway very nearly spoiled my reading of this book forever. Oh, Dex and Em, Em and Dex. My faded copy has been read and re-read, passed around to a dozen or more people and somehow made it back to me. Best consumed in one sitting, in one day.

x Loulou

Quesadillas

14 Jul

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Were it not for the fact that we were ravenously hungry and keen to get back out in the Sunday sun, I would have photographed the delicious broad bean, pea and new potato quesadillas that we rustled up this afternoon. A photograph from the recipe book, Thomasina Miers of Wahaca’s Mexican at Home, will have to suffice until next time…

To make, tortillas are half-filled with a cheesy mixture – onion, garlic, green chilli, crushed new potatoes, broad beans, peas, tarragon, mint, lime juice and feta – and then folded in half and fried or griddled until lightly toasted on the outside. To serve, the quesadilla’s are quartered and eaten with homemade salsa, guacamole and a green salad.

Ours were all the more tasty due to the proud inclusion of homegrown legumes.

x Loulou

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