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Friday Favourites - Summer Cookbooks

 

Today The Amazing Blog wants to share with you some of our #amazingfinds with four new cookbooks that have encouraged us to create some fantastic international dishes for our friends. Our gastronomic journey starts with India moves onto to Morocco and then the Philippines and returns back to the UK just in time to put the BBQ on!

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Let’s kicked off by something of a whirlwind of inspiration in the culinary prowess of Asma Khan, who moved to the UK in 1991 from Calcutta without any knowledge of how to cook, but a firm belief in the power of food to bring people together, and the opportunities created through this to forge new friendships, learning of different cultures and traditions along the way. Although it was British constitutional law which focused her attentions to begin with, having finished her doctorate in 2012, she turned her entrepreneurial talents towards the kitchen, and has been gaining awards and garnering attention ever since. As a descendant of the ancient Rajput Suryavanshi Bargujar clan on her paternal side, and pioneering tea planters in Darjeeling from her maternal ancestry, Asma’s heritage is undisputed, and her book ‘Asma’s Indian Kitchen’ is a delicious romp through India’s rich history, and culinary voyage. “Your food should feel like an embrace” she tells us, and such warmth emanates from the pages. Beautifully photographed and with anecdotes peppered throughout, her book really is a delight to enjoy in and out of the kitchen! Her Shahi Kofta - or lamb meatballs in a rich gravy - are a sensation, as are her stuffed bell peppers - or Bharwa Simla Mirch to use the correct terminology … useful to know, especially if you fancy trying out her award-winning restaurant Darjeeling Express in Soho. Published by Pavilion Books for £14.99  and available here .

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If Morocco is more your thing, then Nargisse Benkabbou is offering up “Casablanca - My Moroccan Food” to encourage us to whip out that tagine, and start making magic with the amazing flavours of her culture, but often with a mix of Western dishes too. Again, here we don’t just have a culinary manual to enjoy, but rather more an introduction to how these foods fit within the gloriously colourful culture and traditions. Nargisse began sharing her feasting knowledge originally through a highly successful blog, ‘My Moroccan Food’, and this book is the natural result of those posts. If you are partial to a spot of marinating - and who of us aren’t - then try the Sweet Chermoula Seared Beef, which promises a ‘flavour bomb’, and we love the idea of a dish taking us to far-flung places with the aromas of Casablanca which are promised in the Amlou Rolls.So many temptations to try, and written with a warmth and friendliness utterly reminiscent of Morocco herself. Octopus Books have brought us this one, priced at £20 and available here 

 

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Perhaps the Philippines as a gastronomic destination gets your taste buds going? The New Filipino Kitchen is another huge spectrum of different tastes and flavours from the myriad of islands with so much to explore, and brought to us digitally thanks to Jacqueline Chio-Lauri who has edited a collection of fascinating stories, giving extra meaning to each recipe from a wide ranging assortment of cuisine masters - and all for us to try from the comfort of our laptop. Describing the chapters under the heading of simply ‘seafood’, ‘meat’ or ‘desserts’ feels a little like short-changing this extensive jaunt around those 7000 or so islands which make up such a vibrant nation. However, the ‘New Filipino Kitchen’ is a serious contender for our attention if culinary escapism is your thing. Quite unique with the information it relays, this book could send us into a frenzy - imagine if you will ‘Stuffed Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves and Eggplant Salad with Toasted Pancetta’, or to translate that properly and pay due homage, ‘Inihaw Na Isda At Ensaladang Talong’ … Well Imagine it no longer, simply turn to page 36, and enter Tasting Heaven! Both digital and hard copies are available on Amazon here from £15.18

 

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Now, it would seem churlish not to include a cookbook with origins a little closer to home, and of course there is an enormous library of titles to choose from, but one which stands out with an irresistible edge is the “Fresh Veggie BBQ” by David & Charlotte Bailey,encouraging us to embrace the outdoor option of serving up a meal from a vegetarian friendly barbecue menu. Completely eschewing any notion that vegetarian food has to be less colourful or indeed tasty, David and Charlotte give us 60 recipe options like ‘Caramelized Bananas with Vanilla Ice Cream’, ‘Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips’ or - and this one is seriously tempting ‘Wild Mushroom & Artichoke One-Pot Pie’ to dispel those myths completely. However, this time of course our kitchen is found in the great outdoors through the tradition that is ‘barbecue’ which of course is a culture within itself. With advice on the different options open to us, from using dutch ovens to the very impressive discipline of burying our ingredients in hot ash and embers - otherwise known as ‘rescoldo’, we have an encyclopaedia of vegetarian goodies to try out -and with the weather back here at home offering us it’s most favourable conditions (Ok well that was in July perhaps not August!) We can’t be the only ones twitching to get those charcoals burning! Published by Pavilion Books with an RRP of £14.99 here the ‘Fresh Veggie BBQ’ is a must.

…And with all these delicious ideas, we’re preparing to cook up a storm this Bank Holiday weekend!

Woodsetton Art Pottery's Workshop

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After a long week, there's nothing better than doing relaxing and creative activity. We think that pottery achieves just that, allowing us to take the time-out immersing ourselves in something that doesn't involve work, emails or social media. Something we actively try and encourage at The Amazing Blog, so we were excited to learn more about the Woodsetton Art Pottery's classes.

We came across Woodsetton Art Pottery's is the brainchild of Lorraine Bates, who aims to tailor classes, ensuring everyone leaves with a newfound knowledge (whether you're brand new to pottery, or more experienced). Based in Woodsetton, West Midlands, there is a space for everyone, from beginner classes to throwing and glazing. With a maximum of seven people per workshop, the courses aim to improve everyone’s creative skills, gaining optimum knowledge and interaction with a pottery professional. The studio is also well equipped, with electric potter wheels and a range of equipment for hand builders and sculptures.

The beginner's pottery course includes hand building, extruding and sculpting. The aim is that every student will learn to throw on the wheel, giving the opportunity to let your inner child out (and to get your hands dirty in the process). If you choose only to do this course, then you can make use of Lorraine's extensive experience, paying £2 per piece for her to tidy/turn your work, with subsequent biscuit firing, glazing and glaze firing. This means that however skilled you prove to be (or not), you will leave with a professionally finished piece.

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For a more advanced course, Lorraine offers throwing courses. These are a day long, with a maximum of five students, allowing each person access to their own wheel - improving throwing and turning techniques. Alternatively, if glazing is your interest, then there is also a separate glazing workshop. Here you will learn to apply different glazes, colours and dippings, to make your pieces true works of art. The created pots can also be decorated with sponging, stencilling and brushing.

The Raku Day workshop is slightly different, allowing students to bring in their own works from home (size permitting), to decorate and glaze in the workshop. The extensive experience of Woodsetton Pottery will ensure that you leave with new glaze recipes, with the focus being to teach correct mixing techniques, including ways in which to reduce oxidisation.

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If you’re interested in enhancing your creative personality, the workshops run from 10am-4pm during both the week, and on Saturdays. There is also the possibility to arrange a group workshop for you and your friends. Up to six wonderfully decorated objects are included in the fee, which will be bisque fired and glazed, and available for collection within four weeks. Generally, day courses are £75 each (Monday to Friday) and £90 on Saturdays, You can also purchase gift vouchers as a special treat for loved ones. You might like to attend a workshop in August (subject to availability)⚱17th August - Places - £90 - Throwing on the wheel plus associated handbuilding and decorating techniques. Suitable for beginner or those honing their techniques.⚱25th August - Places - £90 - Throwing on the wheel plus associated hand-building and decorating techniques. Suitable for beginner or those honing their techniques. Otherwise from September onwards course dates will 3 months in advance. Please visit their Tumblr page here to see an extensive list of specific workshops and prices. Enjoy!

Pure Style of London's Reed Diffusers

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Having a well-scented home can make a huge difference to a first impression. So walking into a hallway that is less than fragrant with the aroma of damp dog and musty coats is an absolute no-no. Finding a solution to produce a continual mood enhancing fragrance all day is a tricky one. From a safety perspective however pretty candles are they cannot be left alight all day. Therefore the trusty reed diffuser offers a more practical solution. This is why we at The Amazing Blog, were very happy to try out three fragrances from Pure Style of London’s Room Diffusers.

With popularity of e-commerce subscription-based purchases are trending, Pure Style of London had the clever idea to create their Home Fragrance Club. Here you can customise your own home fragrance gift with a choice of different sizes, colour of the containers, caps and reeds and more importantly, the fragrances. Offering high-quality and locally hand-crafted room diffusers, Pure Style of London’s aim is to make people’s lives more convenient, adding fun value to everyday life. On their website, you can choose between a one-time-purchase gift set or a subscription to be delivered to your doorstep all year round. Either way, you’ll find it easy to change your order at any time, with no contract, and therefore, no commitments.

For us a well-scented office is a must and is what helps us to kick-on throughout our busy day. One of our favourite combinations from Pure Style of London is their Bergamot & Lime diffuser which we chose to put in their very chic white glass container with white reeds - it is almost ethereal looking. The fragrance is lively, stimulating and bright creating a deliciously fresh atmosphere all day long. Another must-try is the Earl Grey, which reminds us of drinking a well-deserved cup of tea, delicate but equally refreshing. However, we mustn’t forget to mentioned that we also particularly liked the Fresh Linen. This delivered a blend of cotton flower and mimosa, offering a refreshing aroma to remind us that spring is not far away. That said, all nine premium fragrances are guaranteed to emit a beautiful and long-lasting scent. Check them out here.

The Fragrance Club works with a simples 3-step process: Select – Choose – Personalise. Decide on your preferred fragrance, size and the colour of your bottle and diffuser reeds,. Their packages start from £10 monthly, or £29.50 as a one off, click here to see for yourself.

Africology Coffee and Rose Diffuser

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Who doesn’t love entering into a beautifully scented room? Here, at The Amazing Blog, we have a weakness for reed diffusers as they are safer and more versatile than candles. At this time of year, we want a room fragrance that has both warmth and freshness, this is where one of our favourite beauty and lifestyle brands Africology never fails us. Our regular readers will remember our post on their Rose Body Balm where we commented on their African heritage and how they capture the key flora and fauna of Africa in their ingredients.

Africology has as range of five different fragranced Atmosphere Reed Diffuser sets. We tried the Coffee and Rose diffuser, which for us was absolutely delightful. From its simple, elegant packaging to its sophisticated tawny glass bottle design, it offers soft warm top floral notes combined with the rather interesting and more robust coffee ones, making it a more weighty fragrance and perfect for that heady romantic evening ambience. Apart from its elegant design that will complement any décor, this diffuser is long-lasting; we had ours on the go for at least 3 months!

This diffuser is made from only 100% natural oils. It is very simple and easy to use, just open the bottle and place the diffuser reeds into the bottle until the reeds are fully coated with liquid. Wait about 5 minutes and take the reeds out and insert the opposite dry end of the reeds back into the diffuser. To enhance your home with this long-lasting and evocative fragrance, purchase the Africology Coffee and Rose Room Diffuser here for £45.00. Or at their newly opened London store here.

The Magic Flower Company

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We know you might not want to hear this, but, winter is well and truly coming. Although this resonates with dark early evenings, and dreary and grey days, we at The Amazing Blog try to marry up the cosiness of hygge, and brightness of limited daylight. When we came upon the Magic Flower Company, you can’t imagine our excitement at discovering that their fresh flowers last for up to one year! What better way to brighten up your home than with freshly cut flowers that don’t require water, remaining hassle-free all year round. We were more than rather impressed with their Magic Roses, Magic Foliage and Magic Flower Arrangements.

Based in a small village in Suffolk, The Magic Flower Company was founded by entrepeneur Jack Hinshelwood. His company harvests flowers at their peak, preserving them with a unique biodegradable preservation formula. On the website, there is a plethora of floral arrangements which are regularly updated on a seasonal basis. We received 12 Antique Cream Premium Magic Roses, which were delivered in a stylish black box through the post. As you can see from the photo (above), they are the perfect ‘winter white’ and 9 months on, still have pride of place in our office. We cannot urge you strongly enough to invest in these beautiful long-lasting roses - frankly for us, gone are the days of receiving half dead and wilted flowers from a florist’s delivery van!

The designs come in different sizes and prices, which are adapted to meet popular trends and styles, and we rather like the statement flowers of the Cream Hatbox Design. Furthermore, on their website, they offer different gifting options, such as the Mini Present Box or Presentation Rose, which offer more simplistic arrangements. The flowers are available here in different styles, all of which are updated on a monthly basis. To purchase your own Antique Cream Magic Rose, then click here. A single rose is £8.95, or treat yourself to a magic 12 for £94.95.