London Fashion Week Round Up!

What can I possibly say about London Fashion Week other than it was completely and totally mind blowingly awesome in every possible way. I don’t think I’ve properly digested everything so apologies if this post seems a little ramshackle – bits & bobs, highlights, favourite collections, outfits etc – too much to tell and too little brain power as yet to configure it neatly in my tiny mind.

I’m not exactly sure where to begin so let me tell mention the location first – Somerset House. Totally spectacular and a perfect setting for an inspiring week of design. The cobbles aren’t so great for walking in heels but the building is so utterly breathtaking, I can overlook that one tiny niggle.

Walking the gauntlet of photographers everyday was also more than a little intimidating. Funnily enough I was mostly stopped by Japanese Mags – which kind of thrilled me a bit, as I’ve always loved Japanese fashion and confirmed what I’ve suspected for a while now…….I need to visit that country!

People watching actually became one of the best aspects of fashion week – I find street style so inspiring and I wasn’t disappointed with the outfits that were rolled out. London has got it goin’ on!

Now, where do I start with the shows. Too many to mention really but my top picks have got to be Daks, Prose, Pam Hogg and for sheer unadulerated drama the award goes to Inbar Spector. Wow! I also keep thinking about how starkly beautiful the Antoni&Alison dresses were – those prints floated my boat big time. Would totally wear all of them.

The Daks collection was faultless, in my opinion, and all totally wearable. Classic British design (okay, the designer is American born but the house is British) with enough of a modern spin to make it feel fresh and totally new. The cut, the tailoring, the palate, all of it wonderful. Love, want, need.

Prose was another standout collection for me. The textures were unspeakably stunning and I love the fact she paired many of her standout pieces with a simple black polo – totally a look I rock, great minds think alike……

Attending the Pam Hogg show was like a frickin’ punk gig. Wild peeps in the queue as well as a show from Janice Dickinson and Jo Wood – could it get any more rock and roll?! Actress Jamie Winstone took to the catwalk in a magnificent dress and oversized bonnet. Despite her small stature she certainly lit up that runway as much as any of her leggy counterparts.

The week was made so much more fun by the fantastic company in the form of my fellow intern colleague, Francisco, and my lady bosses at the Express – fun times!

Of course, if it hadn’t be for the kindness of The Daily Express team, I wouldn’t have had the privilege of attending London Fashion Week at all, so to everyone there, thank you, thank you, thank you!

For me the most exciting discovery of the week was the lack of trends for next season. Yes! This could not make me happier. That may sound weird coming from someone who wants to work in fashion but I’ve always loathed trends – people should look unique and individual, not like clones, dressed head to toe in a look they’ve copied straight from a magazine. Rather a counter intuitive comment from a budding stylist perhaps but that’s how I feel.

If London Fashion Week has taught me anything, it’s that the UK is still a hub for innovation and sheer creativity that knows no bounds. The Central St Martins Masters show I witnessed was proof of that alone. Bizarre and brilliant.

 

From the catwalk to the cafe. The Peter Jensen print which adorned the Embankment Cafe was, to put it bluntly, perfect, and felt like it enveloped all the fashionistas in style whilst they sipped on champagne – free on the first day, wahoo, guzzle guzzle!

A shout out to a show and designer I didn’t have the fortune to see. Vivienne Westwood has long since been a heroine of mine and even though she’s currently in the dog house with the fashion press after saying ‘people have never looked so ugly as they do today’, she’s still my number one.

Her AW2012 collection was outrageous and perfect. It’s probably just as well I didn’t attend the show as I may have squealed with delight from beginning to end. Majorly heart.

All I can say is – bring on Spring/Summer 2013 baby! Bring. It. On!

Oh, and before you go I must urge you to head over to postcardsfromlondon for more Fashion Week fun – doooo iiiiit.

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Vegan Breakfast Yogurt Mix

Much of my ‘cooking’ could (and should) be more accurately described as assembling. That is, I arrange an array of ingredients on a plate or in a bowl and that, for the most part, constitutes my meal. Simples. You may remember me saying all this before, so this is merely reinforcement.

Assembling is good. Easy. It requires…….no boiling, no frying, no sauteeing, no roasting, no cooking of any kind. Just a bit of chopping – there’s always time for chopping in my world – and some minor construction aaaaand hey presto, you’ve got yourself a meal. Or something alluding to it anyway.

This breakfast yogurt mix, as I like to call it, is one of my more effortless endeavours, which means that even the worst of cooks should find it more than doable.

Of course, it comes with a little instruction, namely in the form of chopping and the execution thereof. You see, I’m a stickler for appropriate chopping and also happen to be firmly of the belief there is some, not too technical, technique involved. Not that I’m a whizz with the knife skills exactly but I do try – you won’t find hunks veg in my stir fries, for example, nor would I dream of julienning a carrot for a casserole. If you get my meaning.

With this dish (if you can even call it that) I went for small and perfectly formed with the exception of the strawberries, which I chose to slice just for a bit of added interest, texture, whatever. Obviously feel free to chop your fruit and nuts however you chose but I fear you may have a somewhat underwhelming experience if you veer from my recommendations as stated below. Jus’ Sayin’!

ingredients

1 ripe banana

6-7 strawberries

2-3 tbsp rose water

1/4 cup unsalted pistachios

2 medjool dates

1 cup vegan plain soya yoghurt

2-3 tbsp plain rolled oats

1 tbsp agave

1 tbsp desiccated coconut

handful of toasted almonds

1 tsp cacao nibs

method

wash, hull and slice the strawberries. place in a bowl, cover with the rose water and leave to steep for 10minutes.

combine the oats and yogurt, stir thoroughly and set aside.

peel the banana, halve it length ways, carefully halve it again and then chop into small pieces.

remove the stone from the dates and cut into small pieces – you should get 12 pieces from each date.

roughly chop the pistachios.

time to layer – banana, strawberries, pistachios, dates, yogurt, in that order and repeat. Top with the agave nectar, desiccated coconut, flaked almonds, cacao nibs and remaining pistachios.

Breakfast is served!

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Black Bean Chilli & Vegan Cornbread Loaf

 

That title is surely stuff dreams are made of and yet I am even hesitant to post this two parter recipe for several reasons.

Remember when I said I was trying to chillax when it came to my blogging? Not putting myself under too much strain? Pffftt, who am I kidding! I’m fairly certain all my fellow perfectionists out there would agree that is easier said than done. Would I be right? Nod in agreement.

So, the lighting in my new flat is essentially pants. Couple that with having to shoot all my photies at night and you get a batch of pretty dreadful shots of food looking either anaemic or at the very least underwhelming – there’s only so much my limited photography skills and fancy dslr can do!

Nether the less, I shall upload this anyway because, quite frankly, it’s a little winner. The cornbread – which I am still perfecting – was a peculiarly massive hit, particularly with the Hubster and the chilli was made even more delectable with the addition of dark chocolate. Of no great surprise to many of you I am sure, chocolate and cocoa are magnificent additions to any great Chilli.

I hope then that you will forgive the below par photos and instead merely enjoy the food. After all, that’s what really matters.

Black Bean Chilli

1 onion, diced

2 peppers (1 red, 1 yellow), roughly chopped

400g or approx 2 cups chopped canned tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

400g/approx 2 cups cooked black beans

3 minced garlic cloves

1 red chilli, de-seeded, sliced and chopped finely

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chipotle powder

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

splash of vegan worcester sauce

few drops of tabasco

4-6 small squares of best dark chocolate

pinch of sugar

salt and pepper

oil

heat a little oil in a heavy based saucepan. add the onion, season and allow to sweat for several minutes before adding cumin and then the peppers. clamp on lid.soften the onion and pepper for a few more minutes before adding the garlic and chilli.

stir in the tomato puree until everything is coated before adding the tomatoes. add a pinch of sugar and the remainder of the spices, worcester and tabasco sauces, season, stir to incorporate and simmer for around 20mins.

tumble in the beans, season, taste for spice and add a little more chilli powder is necessary. simmer for a further 15-20mins and then just before serving stir through the chocolate. the sauce will turn thick and glossy. close lid and allow everything to amalgamate before serving.

serve with freshly chopped cilantro (coriander), sliced avocado and cholula hot sauce. tortilla chips go well with this dish, as well as…..

Vegan Cornbread Loaf

1 cup finely ground polenta (this is crucial – it must be fine ground)

1 cup plain all purpose organic white flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup sweetcorn puree

1/2 cup sweetcorn kernels (canned or frozen but obvs. thawed)

3 tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped

1 cup soya milk

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup maple syrup, agave or sweet freedom

1/4 cup canola( rapeseed) oil or oil of your choice

pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/390 degrees fahrenheit. grease a loaf tin with vegan margarine spread – or coconut oil?

mix the polenta and flour and stir through the baking powder, bicarb, salt and pepper.

in a separate bowl whisk together the sweetcorn puree (basically sweetcorn kernels whizzed in a blender with a little soya cream), soya milk, water, oil and sweet freedom (or whichever sweetener you favour).

make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. using a spatula gradually incorporate ensuring not to overwork the mixture. gently stir through the sweetcorn kernels, chopped tomatoes and a good grinding of black pepper. immediately pour into the prepared tin. sprinkle over a little sea salt and fresh grind of black pepper. bake in oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

cool for 20 mins before removing from the tin and allow to cool completely before slicing.

enjoy x

 

 

 

 

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Simple Stir fry

Like most of you, I am pushed for time in the evenings. Used to a more leisurely evening scenario this new 9-5 thing (or 10-6 to be more precise) is pushing my cooking know how to the limits, as I strive to get dinner on the table before it’s time to curl up in bed. Not as easy as it may sound.

You see, when I get home from work I must have a cup of tea before any real kitchen activity begins. So, let’s say I arrive home at 7pm, have my cup of tea, chill for a half an hour whilst catching up on the worlds tweeting, facebooking and all other such essentials, I will not be cooking any time before 8pm. Fact.

Now, let’s say my preparation time (including deciding what we fancy chowing down on plus chopping and whatnot) takes me 20minutes (and it pretty much does) that leaves me 40minutes to get everything cooked and tasting, well, edible, before 9pm – 9pm is the last reasonable time you can eat before people think you’re either bonkers or Spanish. I am neither. Okay, perhaps I am a little bonkers but I am most definitely not Spanish.

Anyhoo, 9pm  is still a reasonably reasonable time to be eating – especially given we don’t slumber till 12 at the earliest – and I’ve always preferred to eat late. Except, dinner is not on the table by 9pm. Tonight was 9.30, the night before 9.15 and I’m even sure we ate past 10pm one evening last week. So, you see, I am failing. Hard.

Perhaps the only time we ate early recently (and by early, I mean 8.45) was when I prepared this simple stir fry. It was a bish bash bosh affair and can only be described as a non recipe. I, therefore, will try and accurately express in my recipe below how exactly a non recipe goes. Ahem. Here goes.

ingredients

bag of stir fry veg (with beansprouts)

handful of mange tout

1/2 onion

3 spring onions

1 cup of pre-prepared marinated tofu

2 garlic cloves

1 thumbsize piece of ginger

1/2 red chilli

pre-cooked rice noodles

coconut oil

tamari

umeboshi plum vinegar

freshly chopped coriander

method

slice the onion in half moons. heat a little coconut oil in a frying pan. add the onion.

mince the garlic, ginger and chilli.

add the bag of stir fry veg and mange tout to pan and stir on a high heat for several minutes before adding the minced garlic, ginger and chilli. season with tamari.

when the veg has softened a little add the marinated tofu and fry on a high heat for several minutes. add a splash of ume plum vinegar.

toss in the rice noodles and season with tamari and more ume plum vinegar. stir to incorporate the veg. slice the spring onions (asian stylee) and add to pan ensuring the noodles don’t stick to bottom of pan.

lower the heat and stir through the freshly chopped flat leaf parsley.

serve with spring rolls (f.y.i. the co-operative do the best vegan spring roll – jus’ sayin’!)

Did I make it simple then?

I agree.

Fail.

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