Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Ooh la la! A little French cooking

Two food posts in a week? Crazy, I know. This one involves a real chef and considerably more meat than my last one though (which had none)!

One of the more unique invitations I've received through my blog lately was an invitation to learn some French cooking with Three Mobile, as part of their #FeelAtHome campaign. Now, as you know, I do try to keep things relevant on here, if not to vintage then to me personally, and I am actually on Three. I also really like food, so why not?

If you've ever wanted to cook a Boeuf en Croute (really Beef Wellington - not all that French really!), here's how, according to superstar chef Adam from Madame Gautier.

Beef Wellington 

500-600g Beef Fillet steak
350g Ready to roll Puff Pastry For the Mushroom Duxelle
150g Mushrooms (any)
1 small onion – finely diced
2 cloves garlic
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme

For the Pancakes:
4oz (115g) Flour
2 Eggs
Half pint of milk
Pinch of salt
Pinch of mixed herbs


First, you need a snazzy apron... and a big chunk of meat.


Start by rubbing oil, salt and pepper onto the steak, then fry the fillet in a dry pan until it has caramelised and has a deep rich brown outside. Remove the steak from the pan and place to one side to allow to cool. In the same pan, fry the finely diced onion, thyme and garlic for 1-2 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the mustard and cook for a further couple of minutes. Remove the onion and garlic from the pan, add a little oil and turn the heat up before add in the mushrooms. Fry the mushrooms in small batches, so that they fry quickly and caramelise, rather than stewing and leaking all of their water into the pan.

Second, if you have a chef with great knife skills, that helps ;)
Mushrooms... 

Shallots... 

And Thyme. 

Cook em up... 

Cut them into small bits! 

Once the mushrooms are cooked, introduce the onions back to the pan and mix together until even. Chop them or put all of the mix into a food processor and blend until smooth enough to spread. If you like, you can add a splash of cream to help. 



To make the pancakes, crack the two eggs into a jug with the milk, and whisk until combined. Add the herbs and salt to the flour. Slowly pour the milk and eggs on to the flour, whisking continuously until a smooth batter. Pass the mix through a sieve to remove any lumps. Fry 3-4 pancakes in the same frying pan again. This will ensure that all the flavour from the beef and mushrooms is kept, rather than going to waste.

Once all of the components have cooled, you can start to build the Wellington! Roll out the pastry, until it is roughly the thickness of a pound coin. Lay the pancakes out, so that there is enough surface area to fully coat the beef. Spread the mushroom duxelle over the pancakes before topping with the beef. Finally, roll the pancakes and pastry around the beef, before sealing the pastry at the bottom, and trimming away any excess pastry. 

Line with pancakes (see recipe) and slather. 

Put more on top... 

Wrap... 

Score!

When you are ready to cook, egg wash completely and place in the middle shelf of a pre-heated oven at 220C for 35-40 minutes. The longer it is cooked, the more well done the beef will be. For a medium cook, 35 minutes should be sufficient; however this does vary from oven to oven. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

And finally, enjoy! 

This was one of the most delicious things I have ever had. The way it worked was that we all made our own to take away and cook at home. I took no pictures of me doing the cooking (for obvious reasons), but no pictures of the final result either because I rather messed it up. I took it out of the fridge, whacked it in the oven and 40 minutes later it was not so much rare as still completely raw in the middle. I then had to fry the slices individually, so it made for a terrible picture.


Now, if you could just imagine me eating in this dress...

Sacre bleu! The Henri Fleur dress :) 

Thanks Madame Gautier for the experience and Three for inviting me - it's a great thing they're doing, letting you use your data abroad in lots of places. Though luckily for my boyfriend, who gets annoyed with me staring at my phone, the FeelAtHome thing is not available in Turkey where I am going on my holidays soon... so no 'hotdogs or legs' for me! MM, hotdogs.

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Monday, 18 August 2014

Purple frocks & Picnic baskets!



Big news! The latest batch of Heyday Fleur dresses are out and they're pretty fab! I'm modelling the 'Lilac Heaven' for you today, along with this rather snazzy picnic basket! First, let me show you the dress.



All the usual Fleur features - wrap style with rounded pockets (pockets and neckline trimmed with lilac bias binding) and a waist tie, authentic 40s length! The button at the back is a purple flower.



I hope you'll all agree it's really pretty! Also newly released are the Henri Fleur dress, which is beige with Eiffel Towers and the Sweetheart Fleur, which are both gorgeous!

Modelled by lovely Kitten von Mew and Luna Nightingale


And this brilliant Linea picnic basket with its very 60s/70s cotton print, which was sent to me by House of Fraser made the perfect shoot prop!


I have always, always wanted a proper picnic hamper - I only wish I had had this in time for the Chap Olympics and the other summer fun... as I type, the rain is lashing my windows (and I even had to dodge showers to take these photos). They sadly seem to be out of stock online but available in some of the House of Fraser shops if you check the stock.


Check out the new Fleurs on Heyday and let me know your favourite!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Great British er... salad?

Since I moved in with my boyfriend at the end of last year, I have got much more into cooking. Not to sound too clichéd but I really enjoy cooking for him. I lived on my own for nearly 10 years, and to be frank, could be satisfied with some toast for dinner - it's way too much hassle to cook (and wash up!) for one. So I rarely bothered. Maybe some super-quick pasta, but that was about it! Now, not only do I have someone to practise cooking on, but he appreciates it too.

Fig. 1

When we met, we did that typical thing of going out to eat a lot, and not doing much exercise (Fig. 1)... as a result, we both put on a fair bit of weight. So, when we moved in together, we turned over a new leaf and now we do low/no carb meals in the evening. No bread, white potatoes, rice or couscous, though we do eat fake grains like quinoa and sweet potatoes. OBVIOUSLY this is not a stringent rule and when we are hungover, all bets are off (= pizza). But I have loads of recipes and meals I make now, mixing it up and changing things I find, to make lots of tasty, healthy evening meals.

Why am I writing about this? Well, you all know I try to keep it on-topic with my blog, but I do do foodie posts and recipes, albeit not for time. But when Waitrose wrote to me and asked if I would put together a summer salad recipe for their Great British Garden Party project, I thought it sounded like a fun challenge. So here it goes!

Presenting...

Warm Summer Salad with smoked paprika squash and avocado! 

This salad has lots of lovely contrasting textures and flavours but is substantial enough to fill you up!

I've topped it with sweet & spicy roasted squash seeds - waste not want not - plus an optional chickpea side to make it more filling. This is a Frankenstein-esque combo of recipes I've absorbed from all over the place over the years!


For the salad:
  • 1 small butternut squash (or half a large one)
  • 1 avocado
  • baby plum or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bag of Waitrose wild rocket salad 
  • bunch fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • half a lime
  • olive oil
For the seed topping: 
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
Method:

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Peel and chop the squash into bite-sized cubes, keeping aside the seeds. Spread the cubed squash over a baking tray or two. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the smoked paprika and cinnamon, mix it all well to ensure it's coated.

Wash the squash seeds and pick out the stringy bits. Put in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, salt (I used a little garlic salt too), a sprinkle of chilli and a dash of honey. Mix well and then spread thinly on a baking tray.

Put it all in the oven and roast the squash and the seeds for 20 or so minutes until the squash is soft.

Then, take a big mixing bowl and chuck in the whole bag of leaves, plus a load of parsley (it's so good for you - the amount is dependent on how much you like parsley), your halved tomatoes and the chopped avocado. When the squash is done, let it cool for a few minutes, then add to the bowl. Squeeze your other half a lime in and mix well.

Dump on a plate and sprinkle with the roasted seeds (which are definitely not slightly burnt and meant to look like that, honest). Eat!


The mixture of textures and complementary flavours work so well in this salad. The soft squash and creamy avocado contrast with the crispy seeds and spices, and the sweet tomatoes with the fresh leaves and parsley taste super fresh. You don't need any extra dressing because the leftover olive oil from the roasting coats everything beautifully, and the lime zing finishes it off perfectly!

But then...

Sundried tomato, chickpea and sweetcorn side!

Sean doesn't find any salad, no matter how many ingredients, fills him up, so the chickpeas are more for his benefit. It adds extra protein too, as well as an extra portion of colourful veg! The flavour is just delicious, with the garlic, spring onion, lime and tomato mixing perfectly - you will just have to take my word for it and try it for yourself.

So, for this optional extra (you can do this while the squash and seeds roast):
  • 1 400g can chickpeas
  • 200g sweetcorn
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 150ml stock
  • half a lime
  • 2 tsp sundried tomato paste or pesto
Chop the spring onions and mince the garlic clove - fry both in a frying pan until just softening. Add the drained chickpeas and use a potato masher to smash them a bit - not too much! Add the sweetcorn and pour in the stock (I used half a chicken cube but veg would be better). Juice your half lime and add with a bit of zest. Stir in the sundried tomato paste, then take off heat and set aside.

If you're taking a photo, put the chickpeas into a separate bowl... if not you can put it all on the same plate and tuck in! ;) 

And the benefit? Eating like this and doing more exercise (him - gym, me - cycling) and we are pretty much back to how we were before!


Thanks to Waitrose for the idea and the vouchers. If you want any other summer salad recipes, be sure to check out the Great British Garden Party page - some lovely drinks and desserts on there too!

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Waterlily love




Ever since I got into vintage clothing, Trashy Diva has been right up there as one of the best repro brands out there. Given that's *cough* ten years this year... that's a very long time! I have amassed quite a few of their dresses over the years and, without exception, they are all lovely - they truly never disappoint (though it must be said that some are on the shorter side for a lanky git like me). So when they got in touch recently and asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing something from their brand new Red Waterlilies collection, I of course jumped at the chance! I also opted for something a little different this time.


The Trixie Romper in Red Waterlilies is what I decided upon, and having had weeks of gloriously hot weather here in the UK, its arrival coincided perfectly with the abrupt end of said beautiful, playsuit-friendly weather. Instead I dodged some rain showers and serious wind to take these photos. Thanks, Hurricane Bertha.


Let me tell you about everything I love about this playsuit. The shorts are perfectly 1940s - very full and flattering. They keep you decent in the wind too, being shorts and not a skirt. I think the length is great, too - covers up the upper thighs without being too long... though it must be said again that I am quite tall!


Pockets!

The bodice is tucked and draped to be flattering and quite supportive! The straps are also adjustable with a button to fasten and three buttonhole heights, which is brilliant if you're long-bodied like me. I often find playsuits to be too short in the torso - not that it was a risk with these in the end as the rise is authentically 40s and long. I have the straps on the middle button so there's room for someone who's even longer!


I like the shirring at the side which gives it a little leeway on size though I found it came up slightly large. It's not sized the same as the dresses, which come in standard dress sizes, but in XS to XXL. I went for the M as my measurements of 37" bust and 27" waist would seem to need it but I definitely should have gone for a S - hence the belt! But I think it works perfectly with said belt.


Did I mention how much I love the fullness of the shorts? I headed off for a picnic after this... not really - I'm just pretend posing with a picnic hamper before I ran back home to put on a jumper.

Bamboo Earrings - Bow & Crossbones
Bamboo Bangles - Outerlimitz

Please come back summer - all is forgiven!

Thank you to Trashy Diva for giving me this opportunity... to catch a cold. ;) Seriously though - only love for this fabulous brand!

Do you have any favourite TD pieces from now or days gone by?

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Glorious Ginger

It's really about time I did this particular King's Ginger Adventure, but it's only been now that the timing has been right and the stars have aligned to enable me to go. Glorious Goodwood, I came, saw and conquered you (sort of), all in the name of The King!



Goodwood Racecourse has a long and illustrious history. From its early days as a flat horseracing course for local officers, as opened by the third Duke of Richmond in 1802, to part of the current Duke of Richmond's son, Lord March's vast Goodwood estate, Goodwood has played host to many a royal over its two centuries. On its second year as a racecourse, the then Prince of Wales' (later George IV) horse Trumpator beat the Duke's horse Cedar. I'm sure the Duke was none too pleased! Side note: just found Trumpator's lineage and pedigree

Edward VII at Goodwood

Edward VII arriving at Goodwood

And Queen Alexandra doing the same

Contrary to the pictorial evidence of his wife arriving there, Edward VII often attended Goodwood with his mistress Alice Keppel (apparently a rumour abounds that he left an illegitimate daughter in the area...no comment), though it looked a little different in those days.

Goodwood Racecourse in 1912 (a little late)

And now - extra stands, extra railings and extra people!

Edward VII famously described the summer racing meet as a "garden party with racing tacked on". As we all know by now, he loved a good shindig! He was also a huge fan of horses, racing and betting. There is still the King Edward VII Stakes race run at Epsom every year. He owned several champion horses, one of which, Minoru has his own Wikipedia page with some lovely stories, inclusing this one about him winning at Epsom in May 1909, the first time a King (or Queen) had had such a victory.
The victory for the "Royal" colt provoked "the wildest scenes of enthusiasm ever known in England", including a mass rendition of the National Anthem as the King led his horse to the winner's enclosure. Minoru himself was "swallowed up" by a crowd of supporters, several of whom attempted to obtain souvenirs by pulling hairs from his mane and tail, while his owner was informally congratulated with cries of "Good for you old sport!" and "Well done Teddy!". Minoru's victory was the first in the Derby for a reigning British monarch. The King received many congratulatory telegrams, his favourite reportedly being one which arrived from Argentina and read: "Minoru, England. Congratulations from your father– Cyllene."
But despite being a conservative dresser and something of a stickler for traditional dress codes when on official Royal business, King Edward VII actually set a new trend for Goodwood attire. Instead of the morning suits and top hats that were de rigueur at Ascot and Epsom, King Edward started to wear linen suits and panama hats to the more southern meets and caused a fashion sensation that has lasted to this day.  

Horse sculpture in the Richmond Enclosure

The Telegraph says, 'According to Debrett's it was his championing of more informal attire in the first few years of the 20th century that granted the hoi polloi licence to wear the same. And according to Christopher Hibbert's biography of Edward, Winston Churchill later assured his mother that it was the King's "sensible example" that meant "everyone wore tweed suits" to Goodwood. As well as tweed, they wore flannel and linen, and on hot days the recently introduced Panama hat, too.'

Even now, the gents' dress code for the Richmond Enclosure at Glorious Goodwood reads: 
At all race meetings in the Richmond Enclosure, gentlemen are required to wear jackets and ties, cravats or polo-neck sweaters. For the traditional, linen suits, waistcoats and the archetypal ‘Goodwood’ Panama hat can be worn, as popularised by King Edward VII in the early 20th Century.
I wasn't in the exclusive Richmond Enclosure, but it was still nice to see lots of both linen suits and panama hats everywhere.




And uniforms, which are always allowed!

Anyone know what these uniforms are?

Men aside, it was Ladies' Day at Glorious Goodwood when I attended - the middle of the week but most definitely not an average kind of a day. Apparently, famous ladies' man Tom Cruise* was there awarding prizes, as well as the usual (in this case) minor royalty in the form of Zara Phillips and... the one and only Carol Vorderman. Suffice to say I didn't get to rub shoulders with the elite, although, thinking about it, I should have used my miniature bottle of King's Ginger as a passport in... who could turn me away? Next time!

Being a 'stylish and relaxed occasion', there's no absolute rules for anyone, even ladies. We are encouraged to wear hats, it's not a requirement, but the vast majority do. I absolutely did!


It's not difficult to get a good spot to watch the action. I watched several races, from the stands...

This was the Lily Langtry Stakes, named for his Majesty's most well-known mistress... 
I had to get a photo!
I got up close and personal as the riders went out for the final race!


Though King Edward would most likely disapprove of such reserve, we only placed one bet all day, and it was for the final race. One of the horses was called Angelic Upstart and, as my mother writes books about angels, it was only right to place money on that aptly titled horse. One whole pound - each way. So our horse had to come in either first, or in the top three. He was on at 12/1, so it wasn't a particularly safe bet, hence the £1 stake.


Halfway round the course and Angelic Upstart (number 10) wasn't in the top 5. But then!


Ahead by a nose in the final furlong... Angelic upstart only won!! 

The largest part of the fun at Goodwood (or any racing) is the excitement building as they come around the final bend, people starting to cheer and shout loudly as it all reaches a crescendo in that final half furlong! And to see your horse actually win... What brilliant fun! 

We left a full £13 richer (would have been more but they apparently took the favourite horse out at the last minute so the winnings were adjusted down) and feeling on top of the world. Needed a nip of KG after that. 


Lucky mascot or what? 



A toast to the King!

Thanks for reading the latest instalments of my King's Ginger adventures. As ever, please do check out the site and find out more about this delightful drink. I may be serving it myself at an event soon... more on this later! 

Today's recipe contains champagne to toast Angelic Upstart! The Ginger Royale is dangerously delicious (by which I mean it is very easy to drink a lot of it, take it from me)!


Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

PS * Tom Cruise a ladies man? *cough*


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Field of Dreams part 6 (Chap Olympiad 2014)

Regular readers will know that the Chap Olympiad is a major event in my summer. This year marked my sixth (I think, possibly seventh) excursion to the Chappist field of dreams and the fourth year of wearing matching outfits with my dear Vintage Mafia. We have worn Heyday Fleur dresses (twice) and Miss Bamboo, but this year it was Collectif Clothing.

Back when there were more! 2011 with Heyday's Shona

2012 in toning Fleurs again

2013 in Miss Bamboo dresses!

I have long since given up taking photos of my own since they essentially look the same every year, but this did mean that I didn't capture our outfits myself. My lovely boyfriend took an Instagram of me, but that's about it.  I am in love with this outfit! 


Luckily Chap Photographer extraordinaire and all-round lovely lady Stephanie Wolff was on hand to take some action shots of us!


We are wearing:
Jeni and I in the top and sarong shorts, Bethan in the top and skirt. 
Finished off with our favourite Swedish Hasbeens heart sandals, in pink and teal 


My role at the Olympiad is of a helper rather than a punter. Bethan runs the show, Jeni and I manned the registration and sign-ups table in the morning, and scored the 'Well Dressage' contest as usual in the afternoon.


Stephanie also captured this nice one of me and my darling Sean.


... as well as this one of me looking slightly mad with my darling Lydia!


Lydia is the bambina of my dear friend and former Mafiette Naomi Thompson of Style Me Vintage Clothes fame. What a cutie! 

Roll on next year - what shall we wear then?! 


Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

PS Accessories fans may be very interested to know she has a new book coming out in the autumn in partnership with the other lady who knows everything there is to know about vintage, Liz Tregenza - Style Me Vintage Accessories. Exciting!

Take a look!

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