Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Goats cheese and caramelised onion tarts

I've been at it again! I just can't help but cook up a storm in the kitchen... and on the menu tonight? Goats cheese tart. I recently made some mini bite-size goats cheese and caramelised onion filo pastry tarts for a colleague's birthday party, and they went down so well I thought I would make a great big dinner sized one. Here's how I did it:

First I cut up three red onions and fried them at a medium heat with a drizzle of oil. Just as the onions began to soften and brown I turned down the heat and left them to cook more slowly, stirring occasionally to ensure that all of the onions were evenly cooked. The key to extra tasty onions is the cook them over a long period of time to allow the natural sugars in the onions to caramelise. I usually cook the onions for about 45mins to an hour.

About 10 minutes before the onions are finished cooking, I added a few pinches of sugar to help the caramelising of the onions and also a generous splash of balsamic vinegar to cut through the sweetness. While the onions were just finishing off I greased the ceramic tart dish and prepared the filo pastry (I cheated and bought some pre-made pastry). I used 4 layers of filo pastry with a brushing of water to make sure that the pastry stayed together during cooking. It's important to not have too many layers of pastry otherwise it doesn't cook all the way through and is soggy... it needs to have a nice crispy crunch to serve as a contrast to the soft onions and goats cheese.

I filled the pastry tart with the caramelised onions and layered the goats cheese generously on the top, and popped in all in the oven at 180 degrees for roughly 20 minutes so that the filo wasn't over cooked but so that goats cheese has melted. Then I served the tart with a fresh salad and a drizzle of the balsamic vinegar... et voila! This goats cheese tart easily served four people and was delicious, I thoroughly recommend!

I even had enough filo pastry left over to make some little bite-size cheese and bacon tartlets... I put a dollop of soft cheese in the centre so that they weren't too dry, fried the remaining onions with some chopped up bacon, topped with a little grated cheddar cheese and popped into the oven until the filo pastry is thoroughly cooked... scrumdiddleyumptious!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Shopping in Hastings Old Town

Well, I have had a very busy week this week. On my days off work I have been shopping and baking for parties. Yesterday I spent the day looking round museums with the family for my sister's birthday... its been a lovely week! I kicked the week off with a little explore of Hastings Old Town with Danny. The Old Town has a little bit of everything: old, new and everything in between. I adore cupcakes and I love these cute little cushions, book ends, and notebooks that I found in Scatter Box in George Street. I also loved the white painted furniture in Scatter Box too. The white painted furniture was something that I found all over the old town.

I LOVE the old fashioned birdcages that are scattered in the antique shops in Hastings. I have always wanted one, but have never been sure about what i would do with it or where I would put it... perhaps I will wait until I have a bigger house so I can adorn it with lots of beautiful old things without it having to take up space of more necessary things... like my books, computer desk, or fish tank. Seeing as I have been living in a tiny one bedroom flat with my boyfriend for the past two years, I have been limited with the amount of pretty things I have been able to fit into the flat... but one day I will be able to have more room for such things!

In the tiny backstreets of Hastings Old Town lie the best little antique and junk shops where you can find some truly lovely little treasures... with more than just a teeny bit of a sprinkling of randomness and madness. This gorgeous little chandelier was a highlight, and there was some old white painted pieces of furniture too. Probably the pieces that have inspired the new ones in Scatter Box. It was in these little antique shops that I bought a wonderful little enamel bucket with some roses painted onto it, which I plan on planting some herbs in when I move into the new House on Saturday!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

A New Children's Bookshop in the Heart of the Old Town

This is an old post that I have been meaning to publish for a few months... late is better than never! :)

When I'm up in Leeds for university I love living in a city, but when I come home it makes me appreciate and love my little coastal home town all the more. Hastings old town has had a lot of newer shops, bars and cafes open up over the last few years injecting new life into that end of town. On my latest visit back home for the summer I noticed a new book shop opening up in the heart of the old town in George street......

Being a trainee primary school teacher, anything that encourages young children to be excited and motivated to pick up a book, and enjoy reading is a good thing. The Bumper Bookshop for boys and girls is doing just that!

The books are displayed in a child-friendly and appealing way for young children and are aimed to allow children to access the books in the shop with ease.

It's a wonderfully colourful bookshop, decorated with hand prints, paint splats, bunting, images from storybooks and arts and crafts.

What makes this little bookshop so special in my mind is that it is not just a shop, it's a cafe too! Allowing parents to have a a cup of tea and a cheeky slice of carrot cake while their children enjoy the books and a cupcake.

The Bumper Bookshop for boys and girls also regularly has events that allow children to get involved in arts and crafts, listening to stories at "storytime", sing songs, have parties, get involved in book-themed events, book signings, and above all else, have fun!

As a child I used to love our family weekly trip to the local village library which was conveniently at the bottom of our road, and if I was a child now with this wonderful bookshop within a stone's throw away from where I live, I would definitely spend most of my time there! I think it's a lovely addition to the old town, and when I have either had a nervous breakdown from the stress of teaching or feel like I need a change, I would love to open a similar kind of shop and spend my days organising arts and craft activities with children, baking and selling cakes, and getting children enthusiastic about reading.

Find the Bumper Bookshop on Facebook, or their website.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Some Vintage Polka Dot Etsy Delights!

Polka dots have always been popular since the 20's. They have been consistently incorporated into designs through almost every decade of the last century, particularly with dresses. I'm a self-confessed polka dot addict and I have a dozen or so polka dot dresses of various styles, not to mention polka dot bags, accessories and home-ware. Whilst trawling the Vintage items on Etsy I found a selection of dresses from almost every decade.

1930s polka dot dress
I particularly love the large flower accessory and the lace collar.
ETSY seller: greendragonlady

1940s polka dot dress
This dress design is very flattering for the more curvaceous lady such as myself. The longer sleeves conceal the upper arms, the neckline and waistline show off my curves. Also, being a shorter lady, the length is great, not too short or too long.
ETSY Seller: SmallEarthVintage

1950s polka dot dress
If I had to choose clothing from one decade to wear I would definitely choose the 50s. Normally I go for the more Rockabilly inspired 50s polka dot dress with the petticoats and halter-neck, but Iadore this double layered dress, best shown off whilst spinning and jiving. I also love the red shoes and belt, all I would need to add is some red lipstick and a flower in my hair!
ETSY Seller: fabgabs

1960s polka dot dress
I love the colours of this dress the classic combination of black, white and red. This style of dress has recently been revived in the latest fashions and high street stores and has become very popular. I, like many women love this dress design... however I find it very difficult to find one that suits me, I usually have to avoid block colour teamed with high necklines, as I have a larger bust and this style lends itself to the more slender among us.
ETSY Seller: SecondWindVintage

1970s polka dot dress
Love, love, love the slouchy pockets, white trimming and oversized collar of this dress. It would also be a great day dress and worn out in the evening with some bold white accessories, perhaps some chunky beads, high heels, and a bow in the hair.
ETSY Seller: Reruns

1980s polka dot dress
Technically I suppose this is an oversized jumper, but I love the large polka dot print. This would look great with a large buckled belt and maybe even some brightly coloured tights to jazz it up.
ETSY Seller: heartcity

1990s polka dot dress
Polka dots, pure and simple. I would team this with a cute little brightly coloured cardigan.
ETSY Seller: VioletVariance

2000s polka dot dress
This is a polka dot dress currently for sale on ASOS. It is totally the kind of dress that appeals to me, and it encompasses some of my favourite things: polka dots and bows.

Overall, although I totally love the 1950s rockabilly style, I would have to choose to buy polka dot dresses in this decade; that way I would be able to pick and choose the best aspects of the designs from the decades gone by whilst skipping the low points of fashion from each era. If you are looking for something handmade or one-off vintage then Etsy is the place for you, and there will always be a dress (or any other item of clothing for that matter) that appeals to you and will compliment your style.