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Friday, 4 July 2014

Rock the Ballet -- Review

I recently went to see Rock the Ballet at the Peacock Theatre in London.  I have to say I am a massive fan of ballet and I always will be.  I find it amazing that these people have dedicated so much of their life to becoming supreme athletes.  There is always something awe inspiring about seeing humans perform at the top of their abilities, performing feats us mere mortals cannot even comprehend.

The performance was split into two parts and carried out by a cast of six men and one woman.  I liked the first half and thought it was a great show of a mix of jazz, modern and contemporary dance.  It did however miss that certain something that makes you forget about where you are and solely think of the performance in front of you. 

It was the second half that blew me away, it was a great fusion of modern and classical dance with some acrobatics thrown in for good measure.  My favourite part was the first song after the intermission which was accompanied by a magnificent show of strength and flexibility, with one guy holding a handstand and changing into different variations flawlessly.  I have to applaud the female dancer in all of this as she was fantastic.  She naturally caught your attention when on stage and kept it with her flowing transitions.

I would have loved to have been able to take some photos to show, but unfortunately as with most performances photos and videos were prohibited.

This is not the sort of ballet to take a die-hard classical ballet fan who loves the more original pieces such as Swan Lake and the Nutcracker.  It is however a fantastic opportunity to branch out into the more contemporary and openly expressive world of dance.

Although this ballet is no longer running at the peacock theatre I wanted to write this review to show that great evenings at the theatre do not have to break the bank.  This performance only cost me £19 and it was worth every penny.


All in all, I absolutely loved it! 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Healthy and Fresh Salmon Summer Curry Recipe

Healthy and fresh are not often words you would associate with a curry but there are so many ways to make your favourite meals healthy. This is my recipe for a mild light summer curry loosely based on a Thai green curry process and should serve 3-4 people.



Cooking equipment:
·         Deep sided non-stick frying pan
·         Blender
·         Chopping board
·         Sharp knife

Ingredients for curry paste:
·         Juice of half a lime
·         2 shallots
·         3 fresh mint leaves
·         3-4 kaffir lime leaves (dried)
·         3-4 cloves of garlic
·         3 small green chillies (for a spicier curry I would double)
·         Small handful of chives
·         1tsb (5ml) of whole cumin seeds
·         2tsp of whole coriander seeds
·         2tsp of ginger
·         Good glug of extra virgin olive oil



Ingredients for curry:
·         3 fillets of fresh salmon
·         Half a baby cauliflower
·         Half a pack of baby corn
·         2 small or 1 large onion
·         1 bell pepper
·         1 white flesh sweet potato (normal sweet potato would be fine)
·         1 pack of samphire (roughly 90g)
·         2 sticks of celery
·          2-3 cloves of garlic
·         Squeeze of lime juice
·         1 can of light coconut milk
·         1tbsp of coconut oil (I had ran out so I used Vitaspread)
·         Salt and pepper to taste
·         Long grain brown rice (roughly 75g per person)



The paste needs to made first, this is done by blending all the ingredients together with enough olive oil to give a consistently similar to pesto.



Once the paste is made, heat the coconut oil in the pan.  Finely dice the onion and garlic together and thinly slice and chop the sweet potato, add them into the pan on a medium heat.  While they are browning slice the celery and add to pan along with the curry paste.

A little tip I have for when using celery is to break a bit off at the ends and drag it down/up the celery.  This gets rid of all the stringy bits and gives the celery a nicer texture.

 De-skin the salmon and slice into large chunks and add to pan.

I de-skin salmon by slicing close to the skin, I then grip the end of the skin firmly and hold down the flesh with the knife and pull firmly but gently to remove it.

Chop the rest of the vegetables to your liking, I chopped mine fairly chunkily then add to pan.  Mix ingredients gently as you don't want to break up the salmon too much.  Add the coconut milk and cover with a lid or large plate, turn the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes.




While the curry is cooking put the rice into a pan and cover with boiling water, so that the water is 1 inch above the rice.  Cook the rice according to your packet instructions, usually brown rice needs around 30 minutes and often needs a top up of water.

I would recommend checking both the rice and curry every so often.  Always make sure the rice is covered by water and stir occasionally.  Ensure all salmon and vegetables are covered by the milk. Try to avoid stirring the curry as this breaks up the salmon.


Happy cooking!
Ariel

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Taking advantage of the summer sun -- Pancakes in the garden

I made a little resolution with myself to take more advantage of the days in which we have nice hot weather, which is a rarity in the UK! Since it was Sunday and I didn’t feel like doing anything too adventurous, I simply had a late breakfast of crepes/pancakes and fresh fruit outside in the garden.  

Sometimes it’s not necessary to go out and spend money to enjoy the sun. If you have a garden, balcony or patio I would definitely recommend you take more advantage of it. As it’s a warm evening I am currently in the garden, typing away for this post. There’s just something that’s so nice about being outside in good weather, it’s a real mood uplifter.

Crepes are so quick and easy to make that I’m shocked by the amount of people that buy readymade.  In the case of crepes they taste so much better fresh!  Unfortunately I didn't think to blog the process of making them, but I will share my recipe.

Cooking equipment:
·         Large mixing bowl
·         Weighing scales
·         Non-stick frying pan
·         Whisk (an electric one will make life a lot easier)
·         Flat spatula
·         Sieve (not essential but does make whisking faster as there are less lumps)

Ingredients:
·         160g plain flour
·         360ml semi-skimmed milk
·         1 large or 2 small eggs
·         1 tbsp of sugar (I wanted mine slightly sweet, don’t add if you want savoury crepes)
·         1 tbsp of any oil suitable for frying (I used coconut oil)

Sift the flour into the mixing bowl, add the sugar and make a small well for the eggs.  Crack the eggs into the flour.  Add half the milk and whisk till the mixture is smooth, add the rest of the milk and whisk again.  Personally I think the batter tastes best after it has had 30 minutes to rest. It really improves the texture as it allows the batter to thicken.  If you are in a rush they can be cooked straight away but ensure the mixture has been whisked properly.

Put the frying pan on a medium heat and pour a thin layer of oil on top.  Pour roughly 2 tbsp’s of the batter into the pan tilting it so you have a nice thin even covering.  Cook for roughly a minute and flip over for another minute.  The pancake should look golden in colour if it’s not cook for longer. Once cooked flip out onto a plate and cover with another to keep warm while the others cook.

This recipe should give you roughly 3-5 crepes depending on your pan size.  I had mine with fresh berries and crème fraiche.  These taste great with lemon and sugar, maple syrup, bananas and cream, really anything sweet!  For a more savoury crepe skip the sugar, for toppings in savoury crepes I am a massive fan of fried mushrooms and cheese.  Just experiment with what you like, crepes are great base for most things.


 I am sorry for the wordy post and I will leave you with a photo of my breakfast.


Lush review -- The comforter bubble bar

Yes it’s another lush review!  I recently went into lush and as I had just been paid I had a bit of a buying binge.  So expect quite a few Lush reviews to follow as I use the items. 

I have to be honest I love nothing more than relaxing in a luxurious bath with some help from lush.  I have recently just finished using the comforter bubble bar it cost me £4.50, and is one of their pricier bath items.

I picked this for it's bright colour and sweet fruity smell.

I personally really love the smell hence why I bought it, but it is a very sweet smell that I think for some would induce a headache. The bubble bar lasted me for three baths but if split into quarters would easily last four.

What the comforter looks like in the bath when half the bar is used:

When crumbled into running water the bubble bath creates lots of foamy bubbles and gives a gorgeous deep pink colour.  I have to be honest though even though I used half of the bubble bar I felt the smell was not as strong as I had hoped.


What the comforter looks like when a quarter of the bar is used:


The production of the bubbles doesn't seem to be altered by using less, but the colour does drop from a deep pink to a paler pink. Unfortunately the strength of the smell also decreases.

A little tip I find useful for producing maximum bubbles more rapidly, is to use a shower head and spray over the bath water.

On a scale of 1-10 how likely am I to buy again:
I would say 5
I really love the amount of bubbles produced and the colour the water turns too.  However for £4.50 I don't think it's amazing value. I feel the smell doesn't linger long enough and I felt no benefits for my skin.  You can definitely get four decent baths out of it but for me, I personally think two is my limit as splitting into quarters greatly affects the smell. I do like this bubble bar and would be happy to receive it as a present as it does produce nice foamy bubbles and does smell good. For the price though I would not purchase it again for myself. 

Do I think the comforter bubble bar would make a good present?
Yes
As long as the person likes very sweet fruity smells and enjoys baths. 

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Quick and easy healthy tortilla recipe to serve 2


Tortillas are pretty much a thick omelette with potato that originated in Spain.  They are great for breakfast, lunch and even dinner accompanied by a side salad.  Another plus is they also taste great cold so are perfect for summer picnics.

Cooking equipment you will need:
·         A whisk (I find a fork is a good replacement, when mixing egg yolks and white)
·         A bowl
·         Chopping board
·         A knife
·         Non-stick frying pan

What ingredients you will need:
·         4 medium or large eggs
·         Half a large red bell pepper (normal peppers are fine also)
·         1 large onion
·         2 medium tomatoes
·        Half a pack of samphire (this adds a delicious saltiness naturally)
·         Half a pack of asparagus 
·         1 medium potato, (I used half a large baked potato from the previous night to reduce cooking time)
·         2-3 cloves of garlic
·         Oil or a suitable spread for frying (the only unhealthy aspect of this meal).
·         Salt and pepper to taste

In the case of oils I would recommend coconut oil for the healthiest option but I used Vitalight which is a dairy free spread.  Olive oils are unsuitable for frying as they have a low smoking point and often will burn food that is to be fried or give it a bitter taste.

Any vegetables suitable for shallow frying would be fine for this recipe I just used what was in my fridge at the time.  To drastically reduce cooking time I used previously cooked potatoes, any leftover roasted, boiled or baked potatoes will do.  Any leftover vegetables would be great to use as well, as they can be thrown into the pan at the same time as the eggs.

Chop the vegetables to your liking, I prefer mine quite chunky.  Place 2-3 tablespoons of oil or spread into a pan on a medium heat.  Finely chop the onion and garlic then add to pan, brown off for a couple of minutes and add the rest of the chopped vegetables.  



Wait to add the potato just before the eggs if using pre-cooked, and if un-cooked finely chop and add to the onion and garlic at the beginning and brown off for about 5 minutes.

While the vegetables are frying crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk together.  After a another couple of minutes add the egg mixture.


Once the egg is added turn the heat to low and slowly fry until the top of the tortilla has stiffened.  You can now either flip the tortilla or my personal preference place under a medium heated grill for a few minutes. 


Once this is done the tortilla is now cooked! season with salt and pepper to taste, remembering that if samphire was used this will add a salty kick. This tortilla should provide for two when served with a side salad.  I made mine using iceberg lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and red pepper, which I drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Rocket is also tastes amazing with it.

This is a healthy recipe but because I was feeling naughty I decided to fry some halloumi off and have that as well.

If you are using a good quality non-stick pan no extra oil is needed simply slice the halloumi into 1cm thick slices and place into the frying pan on a medium heat.  After a few minutes turnover and cook for a couple more, take care not to burn them though as the second side will cook much faster.  When done the halloumi will turn a nice brown colour as shown below.


To keep the recipe healthy forgo the cheese.  Experiment with the fillings and see what you prefer taste wise.

I will now leave you with a photo of my finished meal. Happy cooking!


Friday, 6 June 2014

My first blog post and a Lush space girl bath bomb review

After thinking about it for a very long time I have finally decided to start a blog, and my first post will be a bath bomb review from Lush.


I have to admit I am quite obsessed with Lush.  I love the variety of amazing smells that greet you when you enter the shop, how friendly the staff are and of course the fact it's guilt free shopping as everything is responsibly sourced.  The only downside to Lush is some items are quite pricey.  So I was delighted when I came across the space girl bath bomb, which smells gorgeous and was only £2.35.

The space girl bath bomb has an amazing smell and a nice but not over the top sprinkling of glitter.
The slightly fruity perfumed smell personally reminds me of parma violets which are one of my all time favourite sweets!

Now down to what the bath bomb actually does in the bath: 
 and the answer unfortunately not very much. It turns the water a nice purple colour and there is a slight glitter to it, but that is all. The thing that really makes me love this bath bomb is the smell.


On a scale of 1-10 how likely am I to buy again:
I would say 7  
I absolutely adore the smell! Who doesn't want to bath in the scent of their favourite childhood sweet.
The only downside is I don't feel the bath bomb does anything for the skin and the smell doesn't linger for long, but for £2.35 I dont expect miracles. 


Do I think this would make a good present?
Yes
This greatly depends on the person though, this bath bomb has a very strong sweet like smell which I don't think would appeal to everyone. Visually though the bath bomb is pleasing and has a nice shape with a sprinkle of glitter.