The Desserts of Summer – Lemon Frosted Pistachio Cake

I already wrote about this cake from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries when I was also writing the blog A Year of Living Gorgeously, so there’s more cake-y description, links and photos here

However the inlaws are in town, so the Minx and I whipped up another cake and I made a few modifications to the original recipe to make a bigger cake, so I’m writing out the full recipe here.


Here’s the cake in its latest incarnation.  Perhaps one day the Minx and I will manage a tasteful version.


I have a 23cm cake tin instead of the 22cm one specified in the recipe and used to end up with a slightly flat cake, so I have modified this by ‘adding a little bit more’ to the butter and dry ingredients which seemed to work although they weren’t precisely calculated.  The amounts I used are given below. In order to keep the ratio of dried ingredients to wet similar, I also added one tablespoon of olive oil, which I’ve used before in dense, moist middle-eastern type cakes such as this and which was a super successful addition.

If you want the original recipe for a 22cm tin then there is a link here.

Lemon Frosted Pistachio Cake (from the Kitchen Diaries, with slight modifications)

275g butter

275g Caster (baker’s) sugar

3 eggs

Shelled pistachio nuts 100g

Ground almonds 130g

A large orange

1 tsp rosewater

1tbsp olive oil

75g plain flour


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/Gas 3.  Line the bottom of a non-stick 23cm cake tin with baking parchment.

Cream the butter and sugar in a food mixer until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Blitz the pistachios to fine crumbs in a food processor, then add them, with the ground almonds to teh butter an dsugar. Finely grate and squeeze the orange, then stir it in with a the rosewater. lastly fold in the flour with a large metal spoon.

Scoop the mixture into the lined baking tin and bake for fifty minutes (I usually need to add 10-20 mins but start checking at 50) covering the top lightly with foil for the last ten minutes (I never bother). Chek the cake by inserting a metal skewer (I use uncooked spaghetti) into the centre. It should come out fialry clean, without any wet mixture stuck to it. Leave to cool in the tin before running a palette knife around the edge and turning it out.

Decorate with icing made from 200g sieved icing sugar and the juice of 1 lemon.

You all know how much I love my American readers (and er, those in Liberia and Myanmar), but today I really can’t be arsed to translate all the quantities into pounds and ounces.  If must insist on being pretty much the only nation not using metric measures then Google is your friend.


Little Bo Peep

Funnily enough one of the things I miss most about England is sheep.  There is something so very quintessentially English and homey and comforting about a windswept hillside dotted with fluffy white blobs – a sight I don’t think I’ve ever seen in America, the land of the cow.

Lamb here is an exotic meat – tucked into a corner of the supermarket at the end of the huge counters displaying every possible cut of beef, chicken and pork, and viewed with some suspicion.  It’s rarely on the menu in restaurants, I’ve never had it served by American friends in their homes, and a waiter once told me that I may not like a lamb dish because the lamb taste might be ‘too strong’.

Anyway, I like this story, because it is so very English, so very charming and so very sheepy.  Vegetarians may be aghast to note that not only did sheepbreeder Louise Fairburn make her wedding dress from the fleece of her Lincoln Longwool sheep, but she served lamb from her flock to her guests.




Full article here, {via Rose-Kim Knits}


And speaking of owls…

…I’m very much loving the new bamboo owl mobiles from one of our favourite suppliers Petit Collage.



For UK peeps we also have her beautiful wooden owl collage for sale on mirrormirror.


Lorena at Petit Collage has also brought out a couple of fun owl-y packing tapes



Must think about getting all these in the shop.


While we’re on the subject of real estate…

this has just gone on sale for $25million in Brooklyn, NYC. This is apparently twice the previous record price for Brooklyn, but, truly you can see why.  I think I could live here quite easily, if anyone fancies gifting me $25million.  The clocks all work too…





See the full slideshow here


Wise Guys


We all loved the Mibo Beetle stickers I blogged about earlier this year (and no, I haven’t yet done anything to personalise the car) and today I found out about another cool idea from the Mibo website – downloadable, print-at-homeable OWLS.

The Minx and I will be making these on Monday after we return from camping.  That is if our fingers can move for the chilblains and frostbite – after last week’s record high temperatures, temps have plummeted this week and the weather forecast for the weekend is awful. I will be attempting to blog my camping experiences from my new iPhone (the silver lining to my car being broken into on Tuesday).

Speaking of iPhones, has anyone get any favourite apps they want to share?  Either for me or the Minx? If you have a pre-schooler about the house you could do much worse that to download Smacktalk. 


Thanks for the Mention

A few nice mentions since I’ve been back blogging properly.

The Roasted Corn Soup was mentioned on Shelterrific

Amy Ruppel’s State Animals were much admired and mentioned on Shelterrific and the fabulous Whorange

My new sofa was also mentioned on Shelterrific.

And I was mentioned on local Wallingford Seattle blog Wallyhood – though that was on the occasion of my second car break-in this year (yep, I’ve had a ton of luck with cars this year), so we’re not too happy about that one.

If you’ve blogged about either the blog or the shop recently and I haven’t mentioned you, then do let me know.


Alexander McQueen’s (Ex) East London Home

As you know around here we’re rather partial to a peek at fashion designers’ houses (we’re looking at you Matthew Williamson, Betsey Johnson and Vanessa Bruno), so here for your delectation and delight are pictures of Alexander McQueen’s East London townhouse. {From the Real Estalker via the HolyMoly mailout – yes I do read it}

I don’t think it’s fair to make this a ‘Go Fug Your Room’ candidate as these photos are only estate agent’s photos and don’t fully reflect McQueen’s personal style, but it’s still interesting to snoop.

Personally I’m finding this rather boring.  As you may have guessed I’m not hugely into minimalism at the best of times, but this strikes me as rather boring minimalism. My main gripe is with all the square and boxy built-ins – I prefer a few elegant curves in my rooms.  And that house looks as if it dates from the 1850s? so it probably had quite a few nice original features – ceiling mouldings, fireplaces etc -  which have all been summarily destroyed.

I also have to say that this house could benefit hugely from a bit of American-style home staging – some pictures, maybe a rug and a funky chair here and there would make all the difference.


I am loving the roof deck (though for me the glass skylight directly above the bed is not exactly a selling point), the pond thingy (pool?) and what we can see of the outside spaces though. Here the minimalist lines are softened by the plants, though a few flowers wouldn’t go amiss.


Anyway, if this house is for you it will only set you back 1.7 million pounds (I’ve just got a new computer and now have no idea how to find a pound sign) or around $2.8 million.  Please bear in mind though, that this house is in Hackney, one of the, shall we say, edgiest areas of inner London.


So(fa) Exciting!

This is apparently what our new sofa looked like before it left the manufacturer. So fabulous to see it with the cone legs at last. It looks even better than I thought it would. Ameer and his team have done an incredible job.

It should be delivered next week, so then we get to see it in situ and sit in it. Can’t wait!

Custom 56 Sofa - Oasis White - Couch (2)

Custom 56 Sofa - Oasis White - Couch (3)

Custom 56 Sofa - Oasis White - Couch


River Mirrors

I’m sorry and I’m enjoying life in the US more than I ever thought I would, but from a design perspective I still wish I was living in the UK, there’s so much fabulous stuff coming out of there.

A case in point are these spectacular ‘River Mirrors’ by British artist and designer Caryn Moberly {via The Art of C}.




Each River Mirror is created from beautiful pieces of burred elm and resemble water flowing between the natural banks of a river.  Caryn uses the natural undulating shape of the tree to form the ‘river banks’, and so no two mirrors are the same.

I find the choice of wood particularly poignant – as a very young child I lived close to a stand of magnificent elm trees and remember feeling quite overwhelmed by their height and majesty.  It pains me somewhat that, due to Dutch Elm Disease, it is unlikely that my daughter will ever see a mature elm tree in all its glory.


Adventures in Knitting – Blocking and Stitching

I’ve just finished knitting a cardigan for me – the first garment I’ve knitted for myself in about twenty years – of which more anon when I’ve taken some pictures.

In the meantime, though. I decided that I really ought to focus more on finishing off my Interminable Blanket, as I’m getting so bored of having it hanging around.  I’ve been gently knitting up squares in the background – I’ve decided to make it 5×4 squares instead of the original 4×4 in order to make it a bit more practical – and recently decided to bite the bullet and start sewing them together.

The first order of business is blocking – washing the squares and pinning them out to stretch them. I wish I’d done this a bit sooner, as it is so inspiring when a screwed up bundle like this,


turns into lovely smooth even flat squares like these


I then took my courage in both hands and started sewing.  Sewing and me have developed a hate/hate relationship over the years, so I was by no means convinced that I’d be able to come up with a neat enough seam, given that the seams on this project are pretty visible.  But after several false starts and lots of undoing and redoing I’ve come up with some seams that look pretty good to me.

Here’s the first row of five blocks all sewn together


And here’s a close up of the stitching


I’m hoping that the edges will unfurl again as I sew the strips of blocks together and add the lace edging, though the whole thing will probably need another blocking when it’s done.

All the way through this I’ve not been sure that I’d be able to sew it together well which I realise now has been somewhat demotivating. The knowledge that I can actually do it AND make it look good AND that the process isn’t even painful has made me set to like a thing possessed.  I’m hoping to have this finished this month, only about five and a half years after I started it.  I do wish I liked the colour more though.