Thursday, 9 January 2014

New blog!

Hi everyone!

A Happy New Year to you all and a huge thank you for visiting our blog!

We've moved to a new site so all of our blog posts are now going onto our new blog. Please head on over and check out what we've been up to recently by following this link.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

World’s Worst Travel Destinations

Paradise Lost

Appearances can be deceiving ©

To celebrate the publication of our new book, World's Worst Travel Destinations, we are holding a Worst Travel Experiences Competition.  If you think you have a traveling story to tell, when nothing went quite to plan, then tweet your experience for the chance to win a copy of World's Worst Travel Destinations.   

Here's one to get you started...

Sun drenched afternoons spent with a good book in one hand and an ice cold cocktail in the other, listening to the sounds of rippling waves and rustling palm leaves -  you can be forgiven for your tropical island preconceptions.  This is a story about how paradise fell from grace as the glorious Thai island, Koe Phi Phi, became the backdrop to a disastrous weekend.  Sit back, relax and put your passports away, travel to the tropics if you dare.

It all began as I ran barefoot along the beach, I couldn't believe my luck, everything was so beautiful, not t mention tranquil. Oh how things would change.  This dreamlike reality came crashing down as I cut my toe open on a rock. I will spare you the details, just know that after hobbling to the hospital with my foot wrapped in a plastic bag, I had a full bottle of alcohol poured over said foot and was encouraged to look at the beautiful landscape as the procedure was carried out. The rippling blue sea somewhat failed to calm my nerves.  Eek! It goes on…   

© Cico Books
The bus broke down on the way to the airport.  Picture a group of dishevelled Brits pushing a bus along a motorway, all the while I was hobbling on what was kindly dubbed the ‘hammer toe’.  We finally arrived at the airport, when I realised I had left my passport back at the hotel. I wasn’t going anywhere.  Cue an onslaught of even more unfortunate events.  The next twenty-four hours saw me buy more flight tickets (business class were the only seats left), take a very expensive speedboat ride back to the hotel to retrieve my passport James Bond style, make it back to the main land after the boat ran out of petrol, buy a mouldy sandwich, survive a road collision, limp into the airport, buy a second sandwich which was then stolen and finally flop onto my oh too expensive plane seat.  What a twenty-four hours!  Life is stranger than fiction. 

You might hear that tropical islands are relaxing, but don’t believe it.  Phi Phi island is not for the faint-hearted traveller. You have been warned.

- Anonymous Intrepid Traveller. 

Think you have a story to rival this one?  Then tweet it in and let us know your worst travel experiences to win a copy of World's Worst Travel Destinations.  #WorstTravel


Friday, 21 September 2012

Alternative National Cupcake Week

For everyone who is a little bit sick of the sweet and sickly approach to cupcakes!

This grizzly recipe is taken from Lily Vanilli's A Zombie Ate My Cupcake

day of the dead skulls

one batch of chocolate cupcakes (see
page 60)

© Cico Books
white fondant
tubes of ready-colored frosting or
icing pens
luster dust
rejuvenating spirit, a clear alcohol
such as vodka, lemon juice, or clear
vanilla extract
silver dragees (optional)
flower sprinkles
edible wafer flowers

The Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico on November 1st and 2nd, as a time to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, but it is also a time of celebration. Graves and homes are transformed into altars and offerings made to the departed, such as tequila, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and sugar skulls. Sugar skulls can be given to both the living and the dead and are
a common symbol of the holiday.
1. Use a chocolate cupcake as the center of each skull. Remove the paper case and cut hollows for the eye sockets.
2. Roll out some white fondant to a thickness of 1⁄4 inch (5mm) and wrap the cake so it is completely sealed. Use your hands and a ball tool (see page 62) to sculpt a skull shape; the fondant will hold in place, just be careful not to press too hard and tear it.
3. You can then decorate the “skull” however you wish. Look at images of other skulls for inspiration or invent your own designs. Create the main features using tubes of ready-colored frosting or icing pens. You could also use colored frosting and a piping bag with a very small tip.
4. To paint on further details, use luster dust in gold and other colors that has been mixed with rejuvenating spirit, clear alcohol, lemon
juice, or clear vanilla extract (see page 62). The liquid evaporates, leaving the powder in place.
5. Finish off with silver dragees (you could use small balls of colored fondant instead), flower sprinkles, and edible wafer flowers.

Recipe is taken from © Cico Books

In Celebration of National Cupcake Week!


Here is a delightfully sugary recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, as promised.  The Pumpkin Cupcake is the perfect baking project for this weekend, as the weather gets a little cooler - it's a proper winter warmer!

Peter Cassidy ©Ryland Peters & Small

pumpkin cupcakes

These cupcakes are popular at Halloween and Thanksgiving. The light sprinkling 
of cinnamon over the Cream Cheese Frosting gives them a pretty finish.

You Will Need
1 cup all-purpose flour
a scant 3⁄4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
11⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon,
plus extra to decorate
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter,
at room temperature
1⁄2 cup whole milk
2 eggs
61⁄2 oz. canned pumpkin purée
1 quantity Cream Cheese Frosting (page 11)
 a 12-hole cupcake pan, 
lined with paper cases    
 Makes 12

Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until well mixed.
Add the eggs to the mix and beat well (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula).
Stir in the pumpkin purée by hand until evenly dispersed.
Spoon the batter into the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until light golden and the cake bounces back when touched. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the Cream Cheese Frosting on top and finish with a light sprinkling of cinnamon.

Recipe taken from The Hummingbird bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, photography Peter Casidy © Ryland Peters & Small


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

National Cupcake Week!




We all love a good cupcake and now we have the perfect excuse; we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, diet (schmiet).  National Cupcake Week is upon us, so get sprinkling that glitter and roll out the royal icing, this calls for a feast!

The simple cupcake, developed in 19th century America, has become so much more than an easy and quick cake making solution. Now a symbol of culinary creativity, just search ‘cupcakes’ on the internet and you’ll be met with the latest artistic creations.  Cupcakes are even nudging the traditional fruitcake out of the wedding day limelight, as cupcake towers scale new, matrimonial, heights. 

As well as gracing our wedding receptions, cupcakes have become an on-the-go treat and are synonymous with the wondrous Hummingbird Bakery restaurants. Revolutionising cupcake flavours across the board, we have been spoilt with Red Velvets, Caramel Frappes and Peanut Butter and Chocolate treats.  The best part is, these can be tried at home using The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook , so a cupcake craving can be satisfied anytime, day or night, in the comfort of your own kitchen. 

If all this sugary goodness and sappy sweetness is making your stomach turn, Lily Vanilli has the answer. For all you cupcake dissenters, A Zombie Ate My Cupcake certainly obliges. The traditional cupcake gets a re-vamp in a celebration of the macabre, as sugary roses are swapped for frosted skulls.  Why not try the Earie-Eyeballs for taste?


A sugary sweet Hummingbird recipe will follow, along with a gruesome extract from Lily Vanilli, for the rebellious chefs among you!  

Enjoy Your National Cupcake Week!

Friday, 14 September 2012

An Evening full of Real Mexican Food

Proud Authors

Get your signed copy of Real Mexican Food from Waterstone's Covent Garden!

Yesterday evening, our day’s work done, a group of us hotfooted it over to Covent Garden Waterstones in happy and hungry anticipation. Our lovely authors Felipe Fuentes Cruz and Ben Fordham, co-founders of Benito’s Hat Mexican Kitchen, had invited people to come along to celebrate the publication of Real Mexican Food, a book packed to bursting point with tantalizing recipes for burritos, tacos, salsa and as we discovered, much more! 

Felipe hard at work!
Felipe, whose grandmother provided much inspiration for the recipes in the book, treated us to a demonstration of how to make an authentic salsa verde, using fresh green chillies and tomatillos. Not for this chef the mosquito whine of a high-tech blender. Instead he gently pulverized the ingredients in his trusty molcajete or pestle and mortar – a giant-sized volcanic rock of an affair. Then we sampled totopos (homemade tortilla chips), delicious and as far removed from a Dorito as you could care to imagine. There were also little bowls of esquites (oregano sweetcorn with crumbled feta cheese), tostadas de frijol (fried tortillas with black beans) and taquitos dorados de papa con dos quesos (little fried tacos filled with the fluffiest mashed potato, cheddar and feta). What a winning combination! All recipes included in the glorious book.
Delicious Esquites

Staff from Benito’s Hat weaved through the crowd carrying aloft trays filled with mini margaritas, so that before long the sound of Felipe’s pestle upon mortar was accompanied by a contented schlurping through straws and a steady sound of munching.
It was a veritable Feast
 We’re over the moon to have published this book and to have the chance to work with people like Ben and Felipe, whose passion for good food is as contagious as it is genuine. And how pleased it makes us that despite the growing rise of the use of Kindles, people still pick up books and marvel at the beauty of them. Thank you for hosting the event Waterstones. That was a lovely evening!


Friday, 1 June 2012

How to Make Bread wins Best First Book at the GFW Awards

On a balmy Wednesday night, a nervous team from RPS arrived at the glorious Fishmongers' Hall overlooking the Thames to attend The Guild of Food Writers Awards. We weren’t the only ones looking apprehensively around the room and reaching for a calming glass of perfectly chilled rosé – shortlisted candidates for these coveted awards included Yotam Ottolenghi, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Diana Henry, Tracey McLeod, Sheila Dillon and many more. We were there to support, cheer and cross fingers for our author Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, whose book How to Make Bread was shortlisted for the Jeremy Round Award for Best First Book. Emmanuel seemed calm and collected while the rest of us became increasingly twitchy as the winners were announced and we awaited our particular category. 

Emmanuel Hajiandreou 

When the moment came and Emmanuel was announced the winner, we whooped – we had beaten Lucas Hollweg, cookery journalist for The Sunday Times, and Bryn Williams, star of the BBC’s Great British Menu and head chef of Odette’s in London. Emmanuel teaches bread classes and bakes award-winning bread. His book is a testament to his passion for teaching and creating simply beautiful bread and we were all thrilled that the judges recognised his talent. His speech was short and sweet – he thanked his wife, everyone at RPS and particularly Steve Painter for doing an exceptional job photographing and designing the book. Emmanuel’s trophy is an elegant vase engraved with his award and name which he insists will be displayed high up and under lock and key – so as to stop his young, inquisitive son Noah from using it as a football… We all went home fizzing with pride and excitement and full of hopes for future award-winning books. Watch this space.

Céline Hughes, Commissioning Editor, How to Make Bread

How to Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, 
Ryland Peters & Small, photography by Steve Painter