Columbia Road Flower Market * London

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Beautiful Flowers

 

Columbia Road Flower Market is such a lovely place to spend your Sunday morning. You might be tempted to buy fresh flowers in bloom, even if you’re on holiday and have nowhere to put it. It’s a great place to have a stroll, not just browsing flowers, but browsing the wonderful little shops along Columbia Road. You can find shops selling kitchenware, vintage homeware, gardening tools, gifts and trinkets etc. When you feeling peckish and need a little break, there are a lot of cafes in the area, including the infamous Lily Vanilli Bakery. One of the must-go and highlights of my trip, you must stop by for some good cake and coffee. I will write about it in my next post!

One thing very important to note is that most of the shops and the market itself, are ONLY open on Sundays. So it’s suggested to only make the trip down then! And do go down early as the market starts at 8am and ends around 3pm. I spent about 2 hours there but if I did have more time, I would have spent most of my Sunday there.

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Lily Vanilli Bakery

Brixton * London

Returning to London after 7 years was very exhilarating. At first it felt a little unfamiliar, but walking along the big roads and little cobbled stoned streets made me feel like I was back in my second-home once again. My 3 years in London was probably not as well spent as I wish it was. The traveler in me hadn’t fully developed at that time. So this was my attempt of a sort-of redemption for all the regrets I had for so long.

I chose a bedroom in a nice little apartment in Brixton as my home for my 5-day trip. I am ashamed to say I had never been to Brixton. I’m not sure if it is as fun as it is today. The cafe and bistro scene was not as prominent when I was living there, so maybe I shouldn’t be as regretful as I was. But I’m so glad I chose Brixton as my home base! So full of life and filled with people from different walks of life, I enjoyed myself thoroughly being there.

Here are a few places I recommend visiting if you’re in the area!

F.MONDAYS COFFEE
Great coffee with a simple food menu, I’m not surprised I always see it almost full with customers every time I pass by in the bus. As silly as it sounds, honey and jam on toast was such a revelation! F.Mondays is a few stops from Brixton Station but if you fancy a walk, it’s probably about 15 – 20 minutes.

BRIXTON VILLAGE & MARKET ROW
Best to come here Wednesdays – Sundays, because some of the must-go shops are closed on the other days. A great place with a great atmosphere to hang out half a day. Remember to bring a good sum of money especially if you love beautiful homeware at affordable prices! Falcon Enamelware galore!

Some of the establishments I highly recommend:
Federation Coffee
Another space for well made coffee and the most delicious polenta loaf cake I’ve ever had. So good, I had 2 slices.
Rachel & Malika’s
A shop which sells an eclectic mix of knick knacks from all over the world, including bags from Colombia.
Cornercopia Homestore
A cozy little shop that sells vintage/vintage-esque kitchenware and homeware.
Could have spent more money here if it were not the last day and I ran out of money.
Honest Burgers
Delicious burgers. Period.
I ordered the vegetarian burger and a side of delicious onion rings. The good food with interesting company in the form of my good friend Ray, made for a fantastic dinner.

Also Look out for their special weekend flea markets on their website.

There are many other things to check out in Brixton including Pop Brixton – Made out of containers that house different little F&B establishments, it is bustling in the evening when the space comes to life. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s a nice spot to hang out with a pint of beer and soak in the atmosphere. Do also look into the varies grocers to find a wide variety of locally grown produce or other locally made goods like bottled honeys to take home! You won’t be disappointed.

While I have always loved the East side of London the most, Brixton in the South has stolen my heart as well.
Hope you enjoy Brixton as much as I did!

Cherry Pie

With cherries in season, it felt a must to me, to make a delicious pie with gloriously sweet cherries. And taking advantage of the fact that cherries were so cheap and readily available everywhere in the Netherlands, I bought two kilos worth. Maybe a little bit of a overkill, but popping in cherries while I was baking made the whole process even more enjoyable!

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I had been waiting to try out this cherry pie recipe by Yossy Arefi on the Herriot Grace blog and this was the perfect chance. The pie crust was simple to make! I had to make a reduction of the water in the recipe if not it would have been too watery to handle. I suggest adding water bit by bit until the consistency of the dough is to your liking. In my opinion, as long as it comes together well and the dough is firm , it should be fine. If I’m not wrong I used 1/2 or slightly less than what was required.

The pie came out so yummy! So if you have the chance to get your hands on some cherries, you must make it!
Happy Baking!

Recipe by Yossy Arefi
INGREDIENTS

CRUST adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
    • (171g) 1&2/3 cups all purpose flour
    • (171g) 1&2/3 cups rye flour
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • (226g) 16 Tablespoons (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2’’ pieces
    • (120ml) 1/2 – 2/3 cup ice water (I suggest a reduction)
    • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
FILLING
    • (1.2kg) 5 cups pitted sweet cherries, about 2 ½ lbs
    • (134g) 2/3 cup sugar
    • (40-50g) 4-5 tablespoons flour
    • juice and zest of one lemon
    • seeds from 1 vanilla bean
TOPPING
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A few teaspoons of coarse sugar such as turbinado or light demerara

METHOD
CRUST

    1. 1. In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt and sugar together. Add in the butter and quickly rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers. You want the butter to break up into small pieces ranging from the size of peas to lima beans.
    2. 2. Combine the water and apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup. Make a well in the flour/butter mixture and slowly stream ½ cup of water into the dough while mixing gently. Mix until the water is evenly distributed and the dough holds together when you squeeze it. It may look dry, and that’s okay, just as long as it holds together when you squeeze it. If it is too dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time.
    3. 3. Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, gather the wrap tightly around the dough and refrigerate it for at least an hour, or overnight.
    4. 4. After it has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it onto a lightly floured board. Pat the dough into a rough square, then roll it into an 8” x 11” rectangle. The dough will be a bit rough and crumbly and that’s okay! With the long side of the dough facing you, gently fold the dough into thirds. Then turn the dough so the seam is at the top and parallel to your body. Repeat this process 2 more times then divide the dough in half and wrap the each piece in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days before using. I always chill my dough overnight before using it.
FILLING
    1. In a large bowl, rub the lemon zest and vanilla bean seeds into the sugar, then add the rest of the ingredients and toss gently to combine. Start with four tablespoons of flour and If the mixture looks extremely juicy, add in the extra tablespoon of flour.
TO ASSEMBLE & BAKE
  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC
  2. 1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of the dough into a 12” (rough) circle about 1/8” thick and place it into a 9 or 10 inch pie pan. Place in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the pie. Prepare the filling while the dough chills.
  3. 2. Fill the chilled pie shell with the cherry mixture and roll out the second crust. Top the pie with the second crust, trim the edges, then crimp the edges and cut a few vents. Alternately, you can cut the second crust into strips and weave a lattice top.
  4. 3. Slide the whole pie into the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes before you bake it to firm up the crust. When you are ready to bake, carefully and gently brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkle with a healthy dose of coarse sugar.
  5. 4. Put the pie on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 15 minutes on the lowest rack of your oven, then lower the oven temp to 375º and bake for 35-45 minutes or until the crust is deep golden brown and the juices bubble. Cool completely before serving.

Swan Market

Swan Market | Rotterdam | 2.8.15

Being part of Swan Market was a small dream of mind and now I’m so glad to say that I’ve accomplished it after going through quite a few ups and downs to make it happen successfully. Not to brag… But seriously who does this kind of thing on a holiday… I’m so cool… Hahaha… Mmm… hurhur

Anyways, the first of two markets that I did with my cousin, Bettina… Was a real test of my skills and patience.

We had two days to bake at her’s friend’s place. And how glad I was that I had made that decision of time allocated for baking… Because the first half of the day was an utter disaster. We had forgotten to bring the flour that was left in my aunt’s car, then the battery ran out for the weighing scale and the oven which was supposedly bigger and better, was a mystery I had to solve as soon as possible in terms of its settings. Then the first two cakes didn’t rise enough which caused me a bit of a mental meltdown. Fortunately, after I took a break to calm myself down, everything worked itself out in the end. I was pretty exhausted afterward but like any other event I’ve done, all my efforts was worth it!

   

Setting up the stall was very simple. Large wooden planks formed the tables so a table cloth seemed so unnecessary. I lined up the cakes in two rows, placed the flowers to fill up the spaces and done!

Our stall fitted in very nicely with the rest. The market was filled with so many wonderful stalls selling food, homemade trinkets, vintage wares, clothes etc. I personally bought quite a lot of things… Scarves (my crazy obsession), jewelry, a bag and wooden buntings. Self-control was pretty difficult!

People were very generous with their kind words, praising the look of our table and the cakes on it. Some devoured our cakes on the spot and had nothing but kind and generous word to say. It was very encouraging!

At the end of the day, we were tired but also felt extremely proud of ourselves of what we managed to accomplish considering our initial issues and circumstances.



Swan Market | The Hague | 16.8.15

To be honest, I enjoyed this market much more than the last. I don’t know if it was because my other cousin Brian joined the fun or because the customers here were even friendlier and more enthusiastic with their purchases, but it was such a fun day! Bettina and I have every intention of setting up a cafe in the Netherlands and we felt that The Hague seemed the best choice. This market reaffirmed our choice and hopefully, I would be able to call this lovely city home.

Preparation for this market went much smoother than the previous. We decided to bake from Bettina’s home, even if we only had two small ovens that took quite long to bake. We figured we would take the risk seeing how it was seemingly much more convenient and economical to do so. And thankfully we did as we finished everything on schedule and was more well-rested for Market day. Clearing up after so far has been a bit slow as the next day we were in much needed recovery mode… haha…

     


   

Other Stalls

  

  

Our stall at Swan Market nearly didn’t happen and I’m so glad it did. It was such an eye-opening experience as a stall owner and a dream as a shopper. I wanted to buy so many things! If you are in the Netherlands, you must check it out. They open on some Sundays throughout the year in different cities so do check their website for updates! Hopefully I will have the chance to be part of it again someday soon.

Lot Sixty One Coffee | Amsterdam

  
Finding good artisanal coffee in the Netherlands is like finding a diamond in the rough and so far, I’ve been able to find just ONE good cafe in every city. 
In Amsterdam, there is Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters. Located at Kinkerstraat 112, it’s not too far away from Amsterdam’s central station. Not a short walk but worth the walk as you explore the city along the way. There, they roast their coffee beans for in-house use, wholesale and retail.  

  

They serve coffee and a few options of tea and baked goods. The great thing about going there in summer is being able to sit outside under the sun but still keep cool with the subtle passing breeze while drinking a nice warm cup of joe. 

    
If their main branch is too far for you, you can also grab a cup at their little pop-up at Urban Outfitters at 31-33 Kalverstraat which is one of the main shopping streets in central Amsterdam. I don’t know how long it’s going to be there but no harm in dropping by if you’re in the area, I guess. 

  

  
A more permanent fixture for Lot sixty one coffee and located just around the corner of the Famous Red Light District of Amsterdam is Ivy & Bros – a really kinfolk-esque cafe that has a good looking menu and of course, brilliant coffee. Located between 2 branches of the infamous The Bulldog coffee shop, it’s a nice quiet place to hang out to avoid the hustle and bustle outside on the streets.

 Hello chocolate tart.  

  

  They also sell a bit of homeware and jewelery pieces. Sit there long enough and you’ll be tempted to buy something. 
 

Happy trails in Amsterdam! 

Petite Apartment In Paris

It was love at sight when I saw this listing on Airbnb. The interior was so chic, clean and cozy.  I especially adored the little loft that the bed was nestled in. Located on the 6th floor (technically 7th, since it starts from level 0), it has a great view from both its own window and the window just outside the apartment, along the stairwell. The walk up as you can imagine, is always a little tough.. But I took it as exercise to burn of the pastry I ate throughout the day. Carrying your luggage up and down can be abit of a struggle, but to me, it was very worth it. 

The kitchen and bathroom are located just under the loft. The kitchen has all the necessities you need, including a microwave, fridge, oven and washing machine. 

Over the railing on the other side of the loft (in view in the first photo), you can see directly into the shower and wash basin area. Thankfully, no view of the toilet bowl. And surprisingly, no whiff of it either, if you know what I mean. Hur hur. 

The bed was so comfy and cozy, I found it difficult to wake up. With a small window up on the ceiling above the bathroom, the whole apartment was well lit and well ventilated and the small breeze that occasionally came through allowed me to snuggle in nicely beneath the covers.

While Paris did not win my heart, this apartment did very much. It was so comforting to stay in that I would look forward to coming back at the end of the day. So if you’re ever in Paris, I do recommend this petite apartment

  
    
    
 

FIG TOASTS WITH BUTTERED HONEY

Fig, Thyme & Honey

When I saw the photo of this dish on the cover of Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady, I knew I had to try making it myself. Anything with fresh figs is very appealing to me because it is, to me, considered a very rare and not to mention, very expensive fruit. Being able to get my hands on fresh figs on the first day of my trip here was like finding gold… which may sound pretty sad to alot of people out there… but when a small box of 4 figs cost 12 Singapore dollars in the supermarket… the rush of buying 4 for 2 Euros is electrifying. A little over the top emotionally, but I speak the sacred truth. lol.

So if you get to lay your hands on a fig or two, you should definitely make this dish as well. It’s sweet and savoury at the same time and the taste is out-of-this-world good. Plus, very easy to make. So no excuses on not having the thyme to do it. hurhurhur. Sorry, I had to.

FIG TOASTS WITH BUTTERED HONEY
Serves 4

2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Sprigs Thyme, or 1 or sprig rosemary, plus more for garnish
3 Tablespoons HOney
Flaky Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
6 to 8 Slices of Sturdy Grain Bread
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for Drizzling
4 to 6 Fresh Figs
Stilton to serve (optional)

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the thyme. Once the butter is fluid, pour in the honey. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook, swirling the pot often until combined and bubbling thickly, 1 to 2 minutes. Set asisde.

While the honey and butter are simmering, grill or toast the bread, with a few drops of olive oil brushed on each side. Slice the figs thickly and arrange in mosaics upon the toasts. Use an offset spatula or the side of the blunt knife to squish the figs into the toasts, so that the flesh spreads and softens.

Pluck the herbs from the honey and discard. Drip the syrup onto the figs from a height, twirling and circling the spoon so that the oney falls in sweeping arabesques. Season the toasts with more salt and pepper and a few fresh herb leaves. Serve right away, alone or met with a wedge of stilton at the table.

ENJOY!

Fig, Thyme & Honey

My Birthday Cake

Strawberry Shortcake

I don’t know if it’s normal for someone to make their own birthday cake… even if that someone might be a baker. I figured I would use the excuse to bake with the tiny strawberries which I have only ever seen here in the Netherlands. While very adorable, the strawberries are very sour, so I cooked them with sugar to make strawberry compote that was place in between the layers as well as on top. Made such a difference!

Frosting the cake was a little tricky because I didn’t have a frosting stand, but it worked out pretty good, thankfully. Definitely need to remember to buy one before the Organic Market I’m going to be part of next weekend! But more on that on a future post… hopefully!

After blowing out the huge sparkly candle on the cake, the extended family and I had a small slice of cake each. The double dinner before that probably wasn’t such a good idea… but I can’t say no to homemade Indonesian food and then pizza. Seriously.. who can?! It was a great 29th birthday dinner!

Happy New Year!

cakeshnyI love being inspired by what other people do.
Linda Lomelino has been a huge inspiration for the longest time and after reading her book, my head has been spinning… in the best way possible.

So thanks to her,
I’ve finally come up with a few new cakes to welcome the new year.
The lemon cake and the walnut coffee cake
are two of the three new cakes M&M will be offering.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of some of the cakes and frosting
Linda makes, in her recipe book. So these new cakes are more inspired by her flavour combinations, more so than the actual cakes. Just wanted to make that clear, if not everyone would think  I’m blatantly copying her. Blargh.

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cakes-76872 014 has been a rocky year for me and M&M.
It started off really quite horribly, but it ended on a better note as compared to last year.
In between there were ups and downs, a lot of lessons learnt…
And I’m feeling more motivated than ever to push forward and bulldoze through 2015 with great fervour. Whatever happens, at least I know I’ve given it my all.

And as for this blog..
no promises on how much time I’m going to spend on it.
Hopefully, my love for it rekindles bit by bit again.

Happy New Year my loves~
May the new year bring about more exciting and happy times!
Never stop chasing your dreams.
Never stop wanderlusting!
xx