29 November 2013

Word of the Week

This week when I was reading, I came across a word I had never heard of before. I wrote it down to look up in the dictionary later on, and I thought to myself, I'll write about this on my blog, because then it is more likely to stick, and maybe you will learn something new too - or maybe you have a better vocabulary than me and already know this word.

The word was 'bonhomie' - frank and simple good heartedness.

"So now, to prove he was happy, here he was, trying to sparkle with bonhomie."*

The funny thing with words, vocabulary and language is that we judge people and their intelligence, or worth, according to what words they know, and to what extent they can deliver a strong sentence or speech, whether it be in writing or in the spoken word. But how is that a measure of worth? How is that a measure of intelligence? It is something that interests me and I think about it a lot, and I do wish my own vocabulary was more varied as language is one of the greatest gifts in life. It is something that is never finished. Language and words - they are what keep us alive.


27 November 2013

Winter Comforts - Chocolate & Banana Crumble

The other day I was thinking about puddings. I love pudding. I have it every day, whether it be in the form of a cookie and a cup of tea or a bowl of ice cream, I have this need to finish a meal with something sweet. I might have a problem. Anyway, for some reason I thought of this chocolate and banana crumble. Out of all the crumble combinations, this one has to be my favourite. I asked my mum for the recipe, because, seriously guys, it is amazing, and you have to try it too.

It tastes like barbequed bananas with melted chocolate stuffed inside the skins, with the added comfort of everyone's favourite crumble topping. A perfect taste of summer as we head further into winter. Plus, it's quick and cheap to make. No time consuming peeling of fruit or hefty chopping involved, this is the easiest and, in my opinion, nicest crumble to eat during the colder months. It even tastes good cold. My mum couldn't find the recipe anywhere so she estimated the quantities and it all turned out OK. 
I pinched the recipe for the crumble topping from Delia's Complete Illustrated Cookery Course book, which you can purchase here.

Recipe for Chocolate & Banana Crumble.

Serves 6.

Ingredients - for the filling:

  • Juice of half a lemon. 
  • Four bananas. 
  • 200g dark chocolate. 
  • Two tablespoons of demerara sugar.
For the crumble topping:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 35g butter
  • 35g soft brown sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Roughly chop the chocolate with a sharp knife or one of these fancy things that I found in my mum's kitchen drawer. I have no idea what it's called but it does the job brilliantly.

2. Put the chopped chocolate to one side in a bowl, and peel and chop the bananas.

3. Spread out the bananas into an ovenproof dish. Pour the lemon juice and the demerara sugar over them. 

4. Mix it all together so all the bananas are covered well in the sugar and lemon.

5. Add the chocolate and mix in with the bananas.

6. Now to make the crumble topping - bung everything into one bowl and rub together with your fingers. Or if you're lazy use a food processor, but I find this takes up more time and more washing up.

7. Sprinkle the topping over the bananas and chocolate and spread evenly with a fork.

8. Pop into the oven for about half an hour - keep an eye on it - and when it's browning slightly on the top it's done and ready to eat. Serve with a glass of milk. YUMMAY.

Will you try your hand at this recipe? Let me know in the comment box below or tweet me @hello_flower. I'd love to see photos if you do decide to make it.

25 November 2013

Coffee Time at Emmeline's Homebaking - Abergavenny

On Friday I convinced my sister and dad to spend a little quality time and come with me to the relatively newly opened Emmeline's Homebaking in town for some coffee and cake. I had been once before about a month ago and knew I had to write about it; the cake they serve is truly exceptional and I have yet to find anything like it anywhere else in the area.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the sight of this enormous cake - I think it was an orange and almond cake with a meringue topping - just one of many incredible creations on display.

Situated just up from the high street in Abergavenny, Emmeline's takes a quiet back seat from all the cars and busy shoppers of the town. This is the place to come if you want a truly relaxing experience with your tea and cake. The atmosphere is welcoming and homely, and the decor is lovely - like a collection of dining rooms in one big room. Plus, anywhere that has a bookshelf as big as the one at Emmeline's is good enough for me.

The coffee came in a cafetiere which stretched out to four full cups - a nice change from the stingy single cups you get for double the price in other coffee shops. The crockery was gorgeous, too. 

And the cake. Oh my gosh, the cake. 
My dad and I shared a slice of the peanut cake. I cannot even describe how perfect it was. The sponge had peanuts dispersed throughout, and it was just the right balance of sweet and salty with the peanuty-caramel ganache on top, a final topping of cream and a sprinkling of chocolate and peanuts. It tasted like a snickers bar in a cake, and yet it wasn't too rich or gacky (yep, made up word) in texture.

The coffee could have been a little stronger - but that is purely down to taste. The last time I visited I had a smaller cafetiere for one and it was just right, so perhaps it all depends on the size you go for. 

At Emmeline's they provide a vast range of wheat free cakes, which is great for those who are intolerant. Sarah chose the wheat free rhubarb and raspberry cake - a slightly more summery choice but delicious all the same. A lot of places get gluten and wheat-free so wrong; their products can be dense and heavy and a lot of the time, tasteless. Not at Emmeline's. Somehow their wheat-free cakes taste just as light and fluffy as the ones made with regular flour.

My aim is to go back and try every single cake they have. There are so many original and interesting flavours, including a Lindt chocolate cake(!) There is also a large range of teas to choose from if you're not a coffee person, and lots of Lindt chocolate - the best. Check out their Facebook page for more pictures and information.

23 November 2013

Celebratory Lunch at The Courtroom Cafe - Crickhowell

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I recently got offered a real grown up job at a publishing company(!) which I happily accepted - still can't quite believe it. I  am due to start in January so I have plenty of time to kit myself out with a new wardrobe and plenty of stationery and mentally prepare myself for my first ever full time job. This all came about quite ironically after I posted about post uni life and living back with my parents. The timing of these things, eh.

When I received the news, my dad was there to congratulate me and he suggested we go out to celebrate. So, we drove over to Crickhowell to The Courtroom Cafe where we ate and drank and talked and I made plans too quickly for my brain to keep up with and scoffed down the most delicious pasty and salad.

If it hadn't been for my dad's recommendation, I probably would never have discovered The Courtroom Cafe. It is a shame that these independent shops sometimes go unnoticed, as we often go for the safer options of the chain coffee shops and cafes because we know what they offer and what to expect. I am making a conscious effort to step out of my comfort zone and discover different, more independent and local places to visit and review, because they deserve the trade just as much as the larger, more successful chains.

I'm not sure if The Courtroom Cafe was once an actual courtroom, but the layout and set up of the room certainly felt like it might have been. Quirks like that are what please me, and make me want to visit again.

It felt kind of old fashioned inside, like old people had decorated it, and the menus were somewhat dated, but in an endearing way. It did not detract from my experience or any of the food. In fact, it made the place stand out from the other more pristine and modern cafes lining the main street in the village. 

I had been to The Courtroom Cafe once before this visit and enjoyed an elderflower presse and a fruit scone. But since I had missed lunch this time I went for something more filling. The curry and lentil pasty caught my eye and I ordered that with salad and a bottle of the elderflower presse that I had last time. My dad ordered a pot of tea and a piece of prune and ginger cake. The service was speedy and the food delicious. I will probably order exactly the same thing when I visit next time.

Traditional tea and original flavours: prune and ginger cake.

Refreshing and sweet elderflower presse and one of the best lunches I have had all year. Yes. All year. On my plate was a medley of beetroot, carrot, coleslaw, pasta, cucumber, tomato, couscous and potato salad, all accompanying the main component of a warm curry and lentil pasty. It was fantastic.

I was so pleased with my food and drink during my visit. It was the perfect celebratory lunch and I have my dad to thank for treating me. Afterwards we wandered around the shops in Crickhowell and I bought Burn After Reading from a charity shop - I have to say, you should always check out the DVD sections in charity shops, you never know what gems you might find. 
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