Introducing…

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Hey everyone! I hope you’re all well! I’m so excited to share this post with everyone!

I’ve been thinking about this project for a while now, and I’m so excited to finally launch it! So here it is.

Introducing…

ELLE’S ÉCRIT, ILS PARLENT

I’m going to be interviewing YOU for a series of special features on my blog! The posts will be written in the form of either profiles or Q&A format. It’s a perfect opportunity for you to meet new bloggers and let your followers learn more about you.

There’s no requirement other than you have to have some form of social media or blog. I’d like to feature a wide range of niches. You don’t have to be following me to take part either!

There are a few different ways we can do this. I can either interview you through DMs on social media. This is likely to occur over the course of a few days. I can also email you a list of questions and you can get back to me when you have time, or we can arrange a voice or video call that would last for no longer than 30 minutes.

I’m going to trial this between January and March, but if it’s successful I’ll definitely make it a permanent feature. I’m aiming for two posts a month, so I’m looking for at least six people to participate.

If you’re interested, please fill out this form. I’ll have a look at your social media and blog, and get back to you! I hope you’re all just as excited as me about this!

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S’mores!

Hi everyone, I hope you’re well! This is probably the easiest recipe ever, but it’s so delicious I had to post it!

S’mores are very American, and they’re not as popular in the U.K., although people do still eat them when they’re camping or at barbecues. I’d never had them up until a few months ago though. Luckily, I’ve found a way to make them indoors, and I’ve been obsessed ever since!

There’s three ingredients: marshmallow, biscuit and chocolate. All of these ingredients are really cheap and available from a wide range of shops. Most newsagents will sell them, which makes them perfect to make in a pinch!

The ingredients can be easily customised to fit different diets. Although I’ve never tried, I’m sure they would taste amazing with dark chocolate and vegetarian marshmallows too. I’ve seen lots of variations on Sweetest Menu’s blog. My personal favourite is putting cookie dough in the middle. I think that would taste like heaven!

We use gas in our kitchen, so I simply put a marshmallow on a wooden skewer and hold it over the flame until it’s toasted. Just be very careful doing it, and make sure that children are closely supervised. If you’re not comfortable doing this, you could use the flame from a candle or blowtorch the marshmallow. I’ve also seen a Buzzfeed version that they make in the oven, but I don’t think you’d get the proper flavour of a toasted marshmallow if you used that method.

By the way, if you’ve never had a toasted marshmallow you’re missing out! They’re so yummy! I could probably eat a whole bag!

Honestly, the best thing to do with these are to experiment! Try melting the chocolate completely, using more chocolate, or trying a different type of biscuit! There’s so many possibilities.

I don’t have a picture because they’re a bit messy, but once I figure out how to make a decent one I’ll add them!

S’mores.

Ingredients (for 1 S’more):

2 digestive biscuits

4 squares of Cadbury’s chocolate or 1 square of Lindt chocolate

1 marshmallow

Method:

1) Soften the chocolate in the microwave. You don’t want it to be completely melted, just a little bit soft so it’s really melty when you bite into it!

2) Put the chocolate on the digestive biscuits

3) Stick the skewer through the marshmallow and put it over the flame, turning frequently. Remove when it reaches your desired level of toastiness.

4) Put the marshmallow on the biscuits, sandwich together and eat!

Tips

Again, be very careful when you toast the marshmallow!

Cheddar, Ham and Spinach Muffins

Hi everyone! I’m sharing another recipe post today!

My mum bought The Tin and Traybake Cookbook by Sam Gates a few weeks ago. At first, I didn’t think there would be anything I wanted to make in it, but a quick leaf through soon showed me that I was wrong!

Most of the recipes in the book are savoury, but there are lots of sweet ones too. I haven’t tried any yet, but I have my eye on a few, specifically the rose pink lemonade scones and the banana bread with hidden fudge pieces. And how good do the salted caramel and pecan blondies sound?

I could go on about the recipes in this book for hours! One of the best things about them is that they use very little specialist kitchen equipment. In the introduction, Gates explains that she wanted to create a book that used very basic equipment that most of us will have in our kitchens already. For example, this recipe uses a muffin tin, a few bowls, a chopping board, a knife, a cheese grater and a spoon. It also comes together very easily, meaning you’re not beating for ages with your arm falling off!

The first thing I tried was the Cheddar, Ham and Spinach Muffins. The mixture came together in less than twenty minutes and then took another twenty to bake. The recipe also says you can freeze them, so you could easily make a batch to last you through the week. We ate them for breakfast, but they’d be great at any time of the day!

Please excuse the terrible photo: I forgot to take a proper one! I’m sure I’ll make these again sometime soon though!

Honestly, please go and buy this book! The recipes are easy to follow and there’s so many brilliant ideas. I can’t wait to make more!

Cheddar, Ham and Spinach Muffins (adapted from Sam Gates’s The Tin and Traybake Cookbook)

Ingredients:

250g plain flour

3tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

½ tsp paprika

Black pepper

130g mature cheddar, grated

50g ham, torn into small pieces

2 large eggs

240ml whole milk

3tbsp vegetable oil

80g spinach, finely chopped

1tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped

Method:

1) Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c fan and line a muffin tin with cases.

2) Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and paprika into a large bowl and season with pepper. Stir in 100g of cheese and the chopped ham.

3) In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk, oil, spinach and chives together. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

4) Spoon the mixture into the cases and add the cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are a light golden colour and bounce back when lightly pressed. Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes before placing on a wire rack.

The Cake Flavoured Book Tag!

Hey everyone! I’d just made a resolution to myself to do less tag posts, but then I saw this one on Got Meghan’s Blog. It’s called the Cake Flavoured Book Tag, and considering how much I love baking, I had to do this one! Anyway, let’s jump into the tag!

Chocolate- A dark book that you loved

Dark books really aren’t my style, so I don’t have many to choose from. One of the darkest that I’ve read is The Madman’s Daughter by Meghan Shepard. I absolutely loved this book as my glowing review shows!

Vanilla- a light read

Why Mummy Drinks by Gill Sims. It’s quite funny, and it’s a good little book to read when you’re looking for escapism!

Red Velvet- A book that gave you mixed emotions

One that I’ve read recently is Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. I really wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t get behind it. I felt like it glamourised illness, although it was interesting reading more about Cystic Fibrosis.

Strawberry- A sweet book

This question had me stumped for a while! I personally think Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman is really sweet. The book covers themes such as sexuality, teenage pregnancy and acceptance. By the end, you really feel as if the characters have grown.

Cheesecake- A book that you would recommend to anyone

I’d recommend This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay because it provides a really interesting insight into the work of the NHS. Reading the book was an emotional rollercoaster. Some parts were tragic, but others had me laughing out loud.

Coffee Cake- A book that you started but never finished

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chambers. I couldn’t get into it properly. I found it really sexist and I just decided not to continue with it.

Carrot Cake- A book with great writing

I know I go on about it all the time but Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout is so well written. I really love her style.

I hope you enjoyed reading this tag! If you decide to do it, please let me know. I’d love to read your responses!

Life Update: Where I’ve Been and my Future Plans!

My little blog has been put on the back burner recently and it’s looking a bit neglected! Since it’s been so long since I’ve written a post, I wanted to do a quick update on what I’ve been up to and my plans for the future.

I’ve been very busy with university this semester, and obviously this was my priority. I’m very pleased to say that I managed to pass the year with a merit! I honestly didn’t think I’d manage it since I had a few low grades earlier in the year but I’m so proud that I managed to pull it off. After summer I’ll be going into my final year, which is a very scary thought!

As most of you will know, the final year of a university degree involves writing a dissertation. The thought of this is so overwhelming! I’m planning to write some posts about my experiences of it, and how I chose my topic. I’d love to read other student’s experiences, so if you know of any student bloggers, please let me know!

I have also been very lucky to get an internship over the summer, and the past month has been a whirlwind of preparing for the interview and then sorting the final arrangements. It’s all happened so fast! I’m extremely nervous about it, but I’m excited to document the process on my blog.

Aside from gaining some practical experience, I’ve also been trying to build my journalism portfolio. I wrote a piece for my student accommodation’s website which you can find here, and also an article for a student magazine on campus. As part of my internship, I have to guest blog about my experiences with the company and I will share all of these posts after summer. I’ve also pitched a few ideas to other publications, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

I definitely lost some motivation for my blog, but I’m back now and I have so many ideas! I’m starting up my ‘Elle’s Écrit, Ils Parlent’ series again. I have lots of exciting interviews planned and I’m always looking for new bloggers to take part! Aside from this, I have a short story and hopefully some recipe posts. I’m very excited to be writing again!

Thanks for reading this post! Let me know in the comments about your future plans, and link your latest post so I can have a nosey!

Shortbread Biscuits!

Hi everyone! Today I’m sharing a recipe for shortbread biscuits!

If I was more organised, these would have been up months ago! I actually made these at Christmas and forgot to take a photo of them. After seeing Ash at Brewed Awakening post a recipe for Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies, I decided that I should upload my recipe!

I’m not very good at making biscuits and pastries. I get very impatient with the kneading stage and usually I get frustrated. But as my favourite Home Economics teacher said, it’s only a silly bit of dough and it’s not worth getting worked up over!

These shortbread biscuits come from the Great British Bake Off cookbook. They go down a treat with my family! I’m not claiming that they’re the best shortbread ever, but they’re easy to make and they do taste yummy!

The mixture of this is super crumbly, so you might find it easier to gather it into two separate balls so it’s not overworked. I don’t usually get bogged down in incorporating every single crumb because I’m lazy.

I cut these using the tops of champagne flutes so they’re small. You could make them bigger, but I prefer having little nibbly bakes at Christmas time. Cutting them small means it’s easier to chill them too. For the second chill, I stack them on top of each other and wrap them in cling film. This is so helpful for if you have limited room in the fridge!

Definitely give these shortbread biscuits a try! They’re delicious, and perfect for snacking!

Shortbread Biscuits (adapted from The Great British Bake-off Cookbook)

Ingredients:

200g unsalted butter, softened

110g caster sugar

330g plain flour

½ teaspoon ground mixed spice

Method:

1. Beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.

2. Sieve the flour and mixed spice into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon.

3. Using your hands, gather the mixture into a ball of dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 15 minutes.

4. Roll the dough out to about 8mm thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out shapes. Chill the shapes for 15 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 165 degrees fan.

6. Bake the shortbread for 12-18 minutes, or until firm and a pale golden colour. Leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

7. Once cooled, dust lightly with caster sugar.

Tips:

I make mine really small, and they can take between 12-18 minutes depending on how hot the oven is. Just make sure you keep an eye on them and take them out when they are a light golden colour!

I made 30 by using the top of a champagne glass to cut them!

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

*trigger warning: references to drug use*

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well! Today I’m posting a book review of Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. I really enjoyed Big Little Lies, so I was looking forward to this! This review has some spoilers so please click away if you plan on reading the book!

The synopsis of the novel is as follows:

“The retreat at health-and-wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.

Miles from anywhere, without cars or phones, they have no way to reach the outside world. Just time to think about themselves, and get to know each other.

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission. But quite a different one from any the guests might have imagined. For behind the retreat’s glamorous facade lies a dark agenda.

These nine perfect strangers have no idea what’s about to hit them…”

In the novel, we hear from a variety of perspectives. Although I am a fan of multiple points of view, I found there were too many to keep up with in this book, and it was difficult to keep track of who was who. I also found that some of the characters were a little bit unrealistic. I didn’t like the way Jessica was portrayed at all. My favourite character was Frances. I thought she was the most realistic and she made me laugh. Napoleon is also an angel. I was sold on him the second he stood at the back of the crowd because he is over six feet tall. A message from small people everywhere: we should all be like Napoleon!

The parts about LSD really freaked me out and made me uncomfortable. It was definitely a shock when I first read it, but looking back, I think it’s probably quite obvious it’s going to happen! Although it was uncomfortable to read, I liked the metafictional elements within Frances’s point of view. It messed with my head while still fitting with the plot, which to me is what makes it successful.

I can’t decide what I thought of the ending. I felt like it was tied up too neatly, and it was a little bit disappointing. That being said, I did like the ending that Frances and the Marconi’s received.

I would recommend this book. It was very cleverly written, the plot is engaging and some of the characters are very likeable. However, I did prefer Big Little Lies, and if you haven’t read that then I strongly suggest you do! I definitely plan on reading more of Moriarty’s work. I love her writing style and she is definitely one of my favourite authors.

Let me know what you thought of the book in the comments below!

Recipe Testing- Frangipane Fingers!

Hi everyone! I’m doing another recipe review!

I promised my mum I would make her something on Mother’s Day (very easy gift if you’re ever in a pinch!). I specifically said it could have fruit in it. I rarely bake anything with fruit in it since I don’t like baked fruit. The closest I’ve gotten has been the Lemon and Blueberry Blondies I made last year! I suppose since it’s Mother’s Day it was fair enough to make an exception!

Mum chose this recipe for Frangipane fingers from a blog called The Kitchen Alchemist. She has both sweet and savoury recipes that look perfect for summer! The recipe has baked pear and almonds, and it’s not something that I’d usually make. I’ve only recently decided that I like nuts, but I’m always wary to bake with them in case someone is allergic.

The recipe specifically states that it is very easy, yet I still managed to mess them up. I managed to forget to pick up the ground almonds that the mix needs, so I ended up having to grind the flaked ones I bought for on top and sending my dad out to the shop to get more (did I mention I have the best parents ever?). The recipe calls for the flaked almonds to be sprinkled on top of the cake batter with the pear, but I was too impatient to wait and just toasted them all and added them once the cake had cooled. It worked well this way!

The traybake should be baked for about 45 minutes, but I took mine out after 35 because it seemed ready. They were slightly soft, but still yummy!

And as for the pear situation? To be honest, there’s not a lot of pear in it. I think I used about three quarters of one. Each slice only has a couple of pear segments in it, so there’s really not a lot. This is a good recipe to try if you’re not too keen on pears. You can’t really taste the almonds in the mixture either.

I’ve seen lots of bloggers posting fruity bakes recently. Sarah from Sarah’s Cake Blog uploaded a Cinnamon and Apple Traybake that sounds super yummy. Megan from Megan Elizabeth Lifestyle also uploaded a recipe for a Sugar-free Wholemeal Apple Cake that would be good for people who are reducing their sugar intake. I’d love to try more fruity bakes- it might stop me eating them all!

Overall, this recipe was fab, and I can see it becoming a firm favourite in our household!