Simple Carrot Cake

Delicious as a pudding or a tea-time treat. I like mine served with a cup of English breakfast tea. The Cake Slice and Cake Plate are both available from my online shop. Happy baking! Sophie X

Cake Slice carrot cake. jpg

Cake Slice and Cake Plate available from www.sophieconran.com

Ingredients:

250g golden granulated sugar

200ml sunflower oil

2 organic eggs

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon marmalade

250g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 medium carrots peeled and grated

A hand full of chopped dried apricots (soft ones)

The juice of ½ an Orange

 

Pre heat the oven to 180C

Butter your 12 x 8 rectangular cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.   In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, eggs, nutmeg, cinnomon and vanilla with an electric whisk for 5 minutes. Add the marmalade and whisk through. Stir through the flour, bicarb and salt until well combined. Mix in the carrots, apricots and orange juice. Pour into the tin. Cover with foil and bake for an hour or until when poked in the centre with a skewer it comes out clean.

Now make your icing.

For the Icing:

1 heaped tablespoon marscapone

1 heaped tablespoon cream cheese

1 250g tub Ricotta

Grated Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

2 tablespoons of icing sugar

 

Mix everything together in a bowl using an electric whisk until smooth. Cover with fling film and store in the fridge until needed.

 

 

Gardening

There’s nothing I love better than pottering in my garden and now is the best time to start planting bulbs, I get mine from Blombs bulbs, which have a huge selection. Here are some pictures from my garden which I hope you enjoy looking at. I would love to see some of your pictures so do tweet them to me @sophieconran. Sophie X

Garden blog

garening blog 2

peonie blog

New Pots and Pans!

I am so thrilled to announce the launch of my new pots and pans, which include saucepans and frying pans. I have designed these with the lovely people of Portmeirion, who, as ever, have been a total joy to work with. I have designed these new pieces to be not only practical and safe to use in the kitchen but also elegant additions to your cooking utensils. The 2 colours are ideal for showing up the colour in your ingredients while cooking plus I have designed them so that they are very easy to clean, which I’ve always battled with when using other pots and pans! I hope you enjoy using them, why not try out this gorgeous summer frittata recipe using my frying pan? Sophie X

Fritata cookware

SERVES 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 long red pepper- trimmed and de-seeded

1 ½ courgettes – trimmed

1 red onion- peeled and cut into 1/8

3 small cooked potatoes- peeled and sliced

3 cloves of garlic- chopped

½ teaspoon chilli flakes- optional

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

8 eggs beaten

25 grams of grated parmesan

A handful of flat leaf parsley- chopped

 

Heat the oil in your frying pan on a medium to low heat

Cut the pepper lengthways into 4 and then slice each strip into 2cm pieces, do the same with the courgette and add to the hot oil along with the onion, gently stew for about 20mins until all of the vegetables are soft, stirring often.

Add the chopped garlic, chilli flakes and potatoes then season. Continue cooking for about 5 mins.

Beat the eggs, parmesan and ½ the parsley together in a bowl.

Turn up the heat a little and pour in the egg mixture.

Don’t stir but allow to cook for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the bottom.

Pop under the grill until cooked to your liking- I prefer it a bit under cooked as I find it gets a rubbery texture if over cooked.

Sprinkle the rest of the parsley and serve with a crisp green salad and friends!

 

Green & Lean Juice!

Finally the sunshine is back! Why not celebrate with a delicious & refreshing smoothie? Plus if there are any sore heads after the bank holiday weekend then this will be the perfect cure! This is great for breakfast or a tea-time pick-me-up. Sophie X

Juice

A generous handful of spinach

A piece of cucumber roughly 6cm long

1 kiwi, chopped, skin removed

1 pear, chopped, skin left on

½ a large mango, chopped

A few sprigs of fresh mint

A splash of coconut water

A small cup of water (add more to your taste)

Handful of ice

Gousto – 50% off your first orders for my readers!                

Gousto Sophie Blog

The other day I was approached by Gousto, the brilliant recipe box service that provides you with all the ingredients in the right proportions to cook delicious meals at home. They asked me to sample some of their recipes so I picked 3 to cook with my kids, Coco and Felix. I must admit, it was a very hard choice as there are so many exciting recipes and they all look and sound delicious! The ones I finally managed to pick were spiced chicken with Persian style bulgar, poached salmon with courgette latkes and sweetcorn fritters with grilled halloumi and zesty salsa. They were all easy to follow and fun to make, and my whole family thought they were delicious!

I think Gousto is a brilliant concept. It encourages you to put your cooking skills to good use and it is extremely convenient. I found the website to be simple and easy to use and the ingredients were delivered on time and were lovely and fresh. It takes the hassle out of deciding what to cook every night too, which if you have kids can sometimes become a bit of a struggle especially during the long summer holidays! It removes that pressure but still allows you to try new things all the time.

Gousto have kindly said my readers can receive 50% off their first Gousto box! Simply enter the code SOPHIE50 into the discount code box on their website. I promise you will not regret it! Sophie X

Gousto blog

Notting Hill Carnival!

Notting Hill map

Being a resident of Notting Hill, the bank holiday carnival is always a highlight of the neighbourhood calendar and my friends, family and I gather every year for a big party.

If, like me you are a huge fan of West Indian cuisine, then you will be in your element at carnival as there are so many amazing stalls, in particular along Westbourne Park Road. The smell of simmering curried herbs and spices alone will be enough to tickle your tastebuds. A particular favourite of mine is jerk chicken, which is best eaten with your hands!

My brother Tom’s amazing Mexican restaurant, Crazy Homies, will be serving the best margaritas in town over the weekend and his pub the Cow will become home to a reggae dukebox in collaboration with Rough Trade. There will be an upstairs dance hall in the Cow on Sunday and Monday, which will be well worth a look in!

My friend Gazza’s bar on 103 Talbot Road is also worth a visit. He’s been keeping carnival alive since 1976 with his amazing, vibrant and upbeat music.

I hope you have a great time if you go, let’s hope the weather is sunny for it and come and say hello to me if you’re there! Sophie X

 

WIN 2 VIP Tickets to Decorex 2014!

Image: Decorex

Image: Decorex

I really enjoyed my live Twitter chat I did with Decorex on Thursday afternoon and loved answering all the interesting questions as they came in. You can view it here! http://ubm.io/1oOaP0I  I’m so pleased to announce that Decorex have very kindly offered to give away 2 VIP tickets to their fabulous exhibition at Syon Park on 21st-24th September. All you have to do is head to my Facebook page and like and share the post. I can’t wait to go this year and am so looking forward to seeing all the fabulous exhibitors. Looking forward to meeting the lucky winners there. Good luck! Sophie X

 

Moving Office!

Image: Poppy Tinkler-Hunt

Image: Poppy Tinkler-Hunt

The ever-expanding Sophie Conran team has officially moved offices after 8 years in my home in Bayswater. We are now located between Hammersmith and Olympia in a gorgeous light and airy studio. The move itself was very therapeutic and great for having a good old Spring clean. I couldn’t believe some of the things I found hidden away in the drawers. There were copious trips to the rubbish bins and lots of sorting through samples. When we arrived at the studio, we had a chair assembling competition, which Julia, my fabulous PA won. Only once had you assembled your chair could you have a celebratory glass of champagne. However it all became a bit too much for some who didn’t want to get left behind so sipped and assembled at the same time. Very multi tasking!  Sophie X

Port Eliot Festival

Last weekend, my family and I went to Port Eliot Festival down in Cornwall. It was an amazing weekend full of lots of music, good food and seeing lots of weird and wonderful things. It took place in the grounds of an amazing medieval stately home, which added to the magic of the weekend and brought everything to life. It was a treat for the senses wondering around the grounds seeing all the amazing things, like fascinating talks by William Darlymple, amazing cooking demos from Mark Hix and tantalising crochet lessons. Sharing the fun and music with my family enhanced the magic of the festival and I would really recommend going next year for all those seeking weekend adventures! Sophie X

Image: Michael Bowles

Image: Michael Bowles

Lemon Meringue Pie!

This is a totally delicious summer recipe and one that I really enjoy baking. It’s perfect after a long, lazy Sunday lunch or as a delicious tea-time treat. These heart embossed plates are from my online shop, I love using them to serve delicious puddings such as this one.

lmp copy

 

SERVES 10

You will need a 22cm (8.5 in) tart ring

 

For the Pastry:

250g (9oz) sweet shortcrust pastry, made with 75g (30z) butter, straight from the fridge, 25g (1oz) caster sugar and 150g (5oz) plain flour, pinch of salt and enough chilled water to bind (see page 14)

1 egg yolk beaten

 

For the Filling:

4.5g (1.5 oz) cornflour

1tbsp cold water

juice and zest of 2 large organic lemons

300ml (10fl oz) boiling water

90g (3oz) caster sugar

4 egg yolks, lightly beaten.

 

For the MERINGUE

4 medium egg whites

250g (9oz) caster sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F/ Gas 4). Roll out the pastry and line the tart ring. Prick and blind bake, using baking beans, for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and brush the pastry with the beaten egg yolk.

Mix the cornflour, cold water and lemon juice and zest. Stir in the boiling water until is smooth and transfer the mix to a pan. Simmer over a medium heat until thick: about 3 to 4 minutes.

Beat together the sugar and egg yolks with an electric whisk until pale and creamy. Then, whilst beating, slowly pour in the lemon mixture until thoroughly combined. Pour into the tart case and allow to cool and set.

Preheat the oven to 220˚C (425˚F/ Gas 7). Meanwhile, using an electric whisk, whisk in the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Continue whisking and slowly pour in the sugar, until combined. Don’t go too fast or the meringue will collapse; the slower the better. Once all the sugar is mixed in, use a palette knife or spatula to spread the meringue over the top of the tart, then bake for 15 minutes.

Serve with fresh cream and a few raspberries, if you like.