Archive for the ‘Kitchen Corner’ Category

Cate Burren of Angel and Blume Interior Design reflects on what we really want from our kitchen and how to go about creating it.

We are bombarded with images of kitchens – not just what they should look like but how we should or could live in them. On TV for example, I am particularly struck by the difference between Downton Abbey where there is a crushing silence if one of the upstairs crowd appears, right through to Nigella Lawson’s programmes which show us how to effortlessly impress, feed and entertain friends without ever leaving the kitchen. The pressure on the presentation of our kitchen and culinary life feels quite full on to me and I remember a while ago that there was an article on how the modern way was to have a shelf full of the latest cookery books and a shopping basket full of ready meals. I am afraid when I read it I felt completely rumbled, although I have long since realised that I prefer eating to cooking – the sense of anxiety rather than joy that I feel when I occasionally watch an episode of MasterChef, or the like, is a clue. The moral of this is that good design depends on honesty about how we live, and there is no shame in that.

There has been a tremendous trend in recent years to open plan living and many walls have been removed and extensions built so that the functions of cooking, eating and relaxing can all be incorporated into one area. At best, this can create a wonderful area for family and guests to all be together but I have found with some of my clients that these spaces need a little bit of division, to allow for different and simultaneous uses of space (as an example, TV and discussion are not always happy bedfellows). However much a cook loves to cook, sometimes having hungry diners being able to watch every blood, sweat and tear can remove some of the joy. The balance between residents of a space feeling connected but having somewhere to call their own is tricky but important.

What goes into your kitchen depends on what other spaces you have available. In the extensive kitchens of old stately homes, there were an extraordinary range of other rooms that alleviate pressure on the demands of the kitchen and some of these are making great comebacks as we mourn their loss both in terms of tremendous functionality and wonderful aesthetic. A larder or pantry are now highly desirable, not just for storage, but also for providing additional worksurface if you are lucky and there are also rooms such as a utility room, laundry room, boot room (these are ideally different as clean laundry and wet coats/dogs don’t work that well together), butler’s pantry or flower room (if you are a bit posh) and others. The position of these rooms within the house, and in connection with the kitchen, are just as important as the location of the kitchen space itself, as they help to take some of the pressure off the gastronomic purpose of the heart of the home.

This relaxed, welcoming kitchen gives the cook space to work while not being disconnected from family or guests who can enjoy a comfortable seat. Photography by Peter Bennett Photography

When planning the storage of your kitchen, I think the first step is to work out what you need to hand on a day-to-day level. I bet this is less stuff than you originally think you need. We all have some items that are used, at best, on a monthly basis but could be less than that – the ice cream maker, the large Tupperware container, the Christmas cake tin, cookie cutters, a fish kettle – and these don’t need to reside in the kitchen cupboards that are much better used for day to day items. If you have storage in the house other than the immediate kitchen cupboards, you will avoid filling your kitchen to the brim, allowing it to function better and not to be overloaded with storage units.

There has always been a saying that when planning a kitchen, you should think of the oven, fridge, sink triangle and it is about how they are positioned and how the chef moves between them. I think their relationship is important but there seem to be more modern equivalents. For example, I think the dining table, dishwasher, plate and cutlery storage is pretty vital, and you could also throw in the sink to that journey. Also, the sink, kettle, fridge, mugs, tea-bag storage is worth a thought if you like a cuppa, and would I be revealing too much about myself if I mentioned the fridge, wine glass, crisp storage relationship?

Whilst planning these routes, it is also worth thinking about where those allowed into the kitchen when the cook is at work, can perch. Bar stools seem to be de-rigueur in the modern kitchen but I always wonder if those four bar stools in a row are a good idea. Certainly for the chef having an island unit between them and their guests keeps them out of the work area but most of us like to face each other (possibly not directly but on a corner or at least so that eye contact is comfortable) when chatting and eating. It’s worth figuring out where on-lookers in the kitchen are to be made comfortable, and whether breakfast or pre dinner drinks or other will be served in the kitchen.

When thinking about a new kitchen, it is tempting to head straight for kitchen showrooms to see what is available. I would strongly recommend doing the vast majority of your planning before visiting. However much help is available at such places, the chances are that the planners won’t ask you about other areas of your home, how much you really like to cook and whether you could manage with less units, worktops or appliances – their job is to sell those and however honourable their intentions, it’s going to be down to you to work out how much, or little, of their products you really need and want.

My final thought on your kitchen is to not regard it as any different than the rest of your home, and with that in mind, I would consider incorporating things that you might consider to be for other rooms in your home. I mean things like bookcases, rugs, accessories, lamps, chairs, artwork and so on, depending on your taste. Your kitchen has a different functionality to the rest of your home, but it doesn’t need to exclude comfort, an aesthetic layer or indeed to look or feel like a different space.

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Just like any other room in a house, creating the perfect kitchen is all about making sure that the final details are in place to make it feel like home and full of style. A few final kitchen accessories that are both pretty and practical, and will help give your kitchen that individuality it may be missing, giving your kitchen that all important character.

Tansui Glass Bottles from Nkuku

These beautifully shaped glass bottles from Nkuku are perfect for storing your olive oil or balsamic vinegar and they make a lovely companion for a rustic or country style kitchen.

I came across these ceramic spice spoons and instantly fell in love, what sweet little designs! Hang them in a row above you cooker, so that they’re in a handy spot but also become an interesting but simple design feature.

Ceramic Spice Spoons from The Future Kept

If you want to give your spices and herbs even more individuality, empty them from the store jars and into some fun like a vintage jar; there are loads of Etsy, both in sets and single items. I love this emerald green pot, which would like great on the counter, and could be even be used for other kinds of storage.

Vintage Poole Pottery Spice Jar from Annascupoftea on Etsy

To accompany your jars, a handy utensils pot won’t go amiss, this one from Garden Trading is made from raw marble and looks fantastic; a great option if you want a minimal look. Your utensil holder will be the perfect place to store these beautiful gold serving spoons, they’ll look good on the table and in the kitchen when not in use.

Utensil Holder from Garden Trading

Brushed Gold Serving Spoons from Not on the High Street

I love this silky looking sugar bowl from Holly’s House, the pearl-like coating and cute gold button handle make it great for everyday use and pretty enough for those special occasions. It also has a matching pot and milk jug if you want to complete the look.

Powder Sugar Bowl from Holly’s House

Who could resist this little dotted pepper grinder from Anthropologie, the gold dots give it a playful nature against the cool marble.

Gold Dotted Marble Pepper Grinder from Anthropologie

Tea towels are made for practical reasons, but sometimes you just need a very pretty one to look at, like this adorably designed Clarke dish towel from Anthropologie.

Clarke Dish Towel from Anthropologie

Finally, for when you need to keep your cool whilst trying out a new recipe, or preparing a meal with all your family surrounding you, keep your cookbook firm in place with this gold wire stand from Rockett St George.

Gold Wire Cookbook Stand from Rockett St George

From big decisions to small accessories, making your kitchen special is all about finding its personality and presenting it to the world and yourself; as well as making it a fun, stylish place to be in.

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Kitchen storage is a problem that most homeowners face, no matter how much we may try to de-clutter, we generally always find ourselves needing more and more as the years go by. Whether you are installing a completely new kitchen or just looking for some extra space, finding innovative ways to add storage will help to tackle the problem, while also adding stylish detailing and some personality to the heart of the home.

‘Witham Oak Plate Rack’ from Rowen & Wren

Gorgeous plates were meant to be displayed, especially if there’s no more room left in the cupboard. This simple but beautiful rack from Rowen & Wren will let your crockery do all the talking.

Our dishwasher at home has recently broken, and so we’ve decided to take on the challenge of washing up everything by hand. However this means we need to pay a little more attention to the sink area, which is becoming a tad more cluttered with, mostly clean, dishes than usual. A quick solution that won’t take up too much room is this dish rack from Willow & Stone; it’s far more stylish that the generic pieces you see, whilst still holding the same amount of items.

‘Tilmo Dish Rack’ from Willow & Stone

Another way to keep your sink area tidy is with a handy, but adorable bucket to store your fairy liquid and scrubbers in. I like this little one from Willow & Stone, its sweet enough to almost make you forget that you actually have to wash up.

‘Wash up Bucket’ from Willow & Stone

Sometimes you might have the cupboard space but are in need of some extra compartments inside it. A few baskets to segregate your potatoes from your onions can make life a whole easier. If you like your traditional style baskets, these grey rattan designs from The Basket Company in different sizes will do the job nicely.

‘Rectangular Grey & Buff Rattan Deep Wicker Storage Units’ from The Basket Company

If you wanted something a touch more contemporary, these crates from Rowen & Wren are a great combination of modern and functional design.

‘Madly Wooden Storage Crate’ from Rowen & Wren

If you’ve run out of surface space, wall mounted items will be your new best friend. Just like the plate rack earlier, they are an absolute space saver, and can also become a lovely feature, even linking together a dining and kitchen area. This wall rack from Angel & Boho is great way to make a decorative feature out of your herbs, it comes with a few boxes but you can always add more as your collection grows, giving you an accessible and interesting way to grow and display them.

‘Wall Racks with Boxes’ from Angel & Boho

This wall unit from Cox & Cox is a contemporary alternative to wall cabinets. With a variety of spaces to store an array of items, this unit can house a small collection of everyday essentials. It’s a great idea if you live in a rental and can’t add more cabinets or change the layout, or if you have a very small amount of space to work with.

‘Industrial Style Iron Wall Unit’ from Cox & Cox

Storage is also about organisation, and making sure that everything has a rightful place. Jars and containers are a life-saver, especially if you have a few different types of food you need storing. LSA International do some amazing contemporary pieces that’ll add both a design element and a storage solution to your kitchen. The Lotta and Mia containers are my favourites in their collection, both simple and stylish.

‘Lotta Container’ from LSA International


‘Mia Container with Cork Lid’ from LSA Interational

Kitchen storage seems like a tiresome task, but with a little research there are a whole load of ways to add creativity and style to your kitchen; and with a strong lists of solutions to hand, you’ll never be unprepared again.

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Updating a kitchen is quite a sizeable task, perhaps one of the biggest you can do in a home. If you don’t have the time, patience, energy or funds to redo an entire kitchen, you can easily inject a bit of freshness into a kitchen’s look with the addition of a few new kitchenware accessories. Whether you want to change the style, or just give the room a little facelift you’ll be surprised how far a few pieces can go.

While there are endless amounts of products and accessories out there, I’ve picked out just a few from all different styles you give a taste of the possibilities.

If you’re a keen baker (or even if you’re not) you’ll love this hand-painted rolling pin from Anthropologie. The beautiful decorative style means it’ll look just as wonderful when it’s not in use as well as when it is.

‘Sissinghurst Castle Rolling Pin’ from Anthropologie

Staying in the bohemian style, these petite mugs from Oka are so charming! The hand decorated cups are just the right size for an after dinner beverage, plus they’ll look divine on display, their bold colours are really eye-catching, making them the perfect way to complete or start a collection of beautiful crockery.

‘Florya Mugs’ from Oka

If you’re interested in re-doing your kitchen in a more contemporary style there are hundreds of ways to go about it. I’m not usually a fan of pink, but these Schiap plates from Oka are rather special. The clean candy-pink stripes and black rims give the classic style a glamorous twist.

‘Schiap Plate’ from Oka

Another pretty in pink addition to the kitchen are these luxurious bowls from Heal’s. Their effect is created from hand applied metallic lustre. They’re a fantastic update to a contemporary table or kitchen, and are the perfect injection of colour to neutral palette, especially if you want to create a high-end, feminine look.

‘Polka bowls set of four’ from Heal’s

Whether you’re getting good use of out if, or just mainly using it for decoration, a beautiful pestle and mortar is a must-have for any kitchen. This shallow, stone one from Holly’s House is a lovely contemporary piece that will show off whatever spices you crush up in there.

‘Stone Pestle and Mortar’ from Holly’s House

A kitchen bursting with colour can really take your breath away, but you may not always want your surfaces and cupboards to reflect this. Instead, choose your accessories to channel your inner rainbow. I absolutely love this bubble glassware collection from Graham & Green. The hand-blown pieces purposely have tiny air bubbles to create a light and airy appearance. They will look gorgeous littered around a table, tucked up on a display cabinet or dotted around a kitchen to tie a theme together.

‘Bubble Glassware’ from Graham and Green

Another special piece from Graham & Green is this antique plate holder. Perhaps you have some wedding plates you want to keep safe, or just want to jazz up your ordinary, everyday crockery you can display them in this stylish holder.

‘Antique Plate Holder’ from Graham & Green

If you enjoy a little mid-century style, take a look at this adorable storage jar from Heal’s. Taking its influence from the 1930s and 1940s, designer Cressida Bell created this little champ, perfect for keeping your biscuits in!

‘Trees Storage Jar’ from Heal’s

Another retro piece of kitchenware that will make your home that extra bit special are these Art Deco style trivets. The geometric style is super swish and elegant and will work as decorative pieces when not in use.

‘Outline Trivets’ from Holly’s House

Last but not least, if you can’t get enough of some geometric shapes, these flamboyant tea towels with an eye-catching pattern should do the trick. Swap out your old, fading tea towels for some fun, vibrant new ones.

‘Scholten & Baijings set of two tea towels’ from Heal’s

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We’ve all experienced the odd culinary disaster, particularly in the baking department (me more than most I suspect) and whilst presentation will never make things taste better, a minor collapse (a de-thawing for example) could be brought back from the brink of the dustbin by a gorgeous platter or cake stand. Should such an event occur in your household, I have some presentation suggestions for you.

Baileys Home pressed cake stand

Pressed glass cake stand by Baileys Home £48

Rockett St George cake plate

Bone China ‘Beautiful Alchemy’ Cake Plate by Rockett St George £20.50

Anthropologie cake stand

Handcarved Acacia Cake Stand by Anthropologie £30.00 – £54.00

Graham and Green pressed cake stand

Pressed glass cake stand by Graham and Green £41


Anthropologie cake plate

Anthropologie cake plates














Holly Frean Gallus Dessert Plate at Anthropologie £14 each

The White Company cake stand


Stoneware Cake Stand from The White Company £35


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One of us in the office (who is still extremely young) had a birthday this week and our lovely Jenny who is a cake baker supremo made this little beauty and it was absolutely delicious. I have to admit that this picture is from Woman and Home, where you can also find the recipe – our cake was just as lovely but the office mugs are not quite as photogenic.



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This is one of my favourite cakes, it’s so moist and has just the right balance between the tangy lemon and sugar. Most lemon drizzle cakes use icing sugar for the syrup topping but I like to use caster sugar which forms a delicious crunchy texture as the cake cools. This is a really simple recipe, always a crowd pleaser and it’s perfect with a cup of tea!

*Editors note* Unfortunately jenny’s cake was so good we ate it before thinking to take a photo! So the photos below are of similar lemon drizzle cakes, with thanks to floracuisine.co.uk and goodtoknow.co.uk

Image credit: floracuisine.co.uk

Lemon Drizzle Cake


About 200g unsalted butter

About 200g golden caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

4 large eggs

About 200g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

2-4 tbsp milk (optional)


Juice of 1-2 lemons (depending on how juicy they are!)

50g caster sugar

When I make this cake, I’ll usually weigh the four eggs first then use the same quantity of butter, sugar and flour but 200g shouldn’t be far off. That way you should get the perfect texture every time. All your ingredients should be at room temperature before you start, particularly the butter and eggs, to make sure your cake rises beautifully!

  • Preheat the oven to about 160°C
  • Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a mixer or using a handheld electric whisk until very pale and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between. Don’t worry if the mixture curdles slightly.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder then add to the mixture bit by bit. Gently fold the mixture (don’t whisk!) using a plastic spatula or metal spoon until all the flour is incorporated and you have a smooth cake batter.
  • Add a little milk to loosen the mixture slightly if it’s too thick. You don’t want it to be too runny so add a spoon at a time and see how it is.
  • Pour into a cake tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes – 1 hour. Test the cake to see when it’s done by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean it’s done.
  • While the cake it baking, mix together the lemon juice and sugar.
  • When the cake is done, take it out of the oven but leave it in the tin. Poke holes all over the cake using a skewer or fork and pour the lemon juice and sugar on top then leave to cool in the tin.

Elderflower and lemon drizzle cake

Image credit: Goodtoknow.co.uk

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I am so excited…it’s Pancake Day! Here’s my easy foolproof recipe:

pancake day pancake day

One batch (makes 6-8 pancakes depending on the size of your frying pan)

  1. 100g plain flour
  2. 1 egg
  3. 200ml milk
  4. 50ml water
  5. 2 tbsp melted butter
  6. Pinch of salt

If you are mixing the batter by hand, place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Crack the egg in the middle and mix the milk and water together in a jug. Beat the egg with a fork or whisk while adding the milk and water mixture a bit at a time and gradually bringing in the flour until you have a smooth batter. It should be quite thin and just coat the back of a spoon or ladle. Alternatively you can mix it all together with a handheld whisk or food processor. Then add the melted butter and a pinch of salt and let the batter rest for a little (about half an hour).

Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Melt a knob of butter and use some scrunched up kitchen paper to wipe a thin layer of butter onto the pan. Spoon some batter into the pan using a ladle, swirling the pan around at the same time to cover the bottom as thinly as possible. Use a spatula or palette knife to loosen the edges and flip the pancake over when it is golden brown underneath. Flip the pancake using a utensil, or flip the pan if you’re feeling brave! Cook on the other side for a few more seconds and turn out onto a plate. Place the pan back on the heat, coat with butter again and repeat!

I love mine with lemon and sugar, such a classic! For me it has to be fresh lemon juice and granulated sugar (for the crunch!) but why not try maple syrup and bananas, berries and whipped cream or chopped nuts and chocolate sauce. Don’t have a sweet tooth? Savoury pancakes can be just as delicious! Try roasted vegetables and creme fraiche or smoked salmon and cream cheese. The possibilities are endless! However you have them, I wish you a fabulous Pancake Day!

Image with thanks to: Donegal DailyPasha Events

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The Angel + Blume blog has a new recruit! Jenny, our very talented Project Manager, is also a secret chef / master cake baker so we have persuaded her to share some of her favourite recipes with you.

First up, to celebrate Chinese New Year (which finishes today) is her recipe for Chiffon Cake (which we have sampled and can vouch for). Over to Jenny to talk us through it:

pandan cale pandan cake

‘This beautifully soft and super tasty cake is also known as Chiffon Cake for its light and airy texture. You can use a variety of different flavours but Pandan is definitely my favourite! Pandan is a tropical plant found in South East Asia. The leaves have a delicate, fragrant aroma and are often used in Asian cooking. My very talented Auntie Linda taught me this recipe a few years ago and I have made it countless times for family and friends ever since. It’s my Mum’s favourite and she requests it almost every time I visit! If you want to try another flavour just substitute the Pandan flavouring and coconut milk, for example use the zest and juice of lemons or oranges. Delicious!’

pandan cake pandan cake

‘I have used Pandan essence and Pandan paste in this recipe which you should be able to find online or from good oriental food stores. You will also need a chiffon cake tin which is quite large with a hole in the middle (like a Bundt Cake tin) but most importantly, it must be aluminium and not non-stick as it cools upside down in the tin and the cake will slip out of a non-stick tin and collapse.’

(Images with many thanks to Heaven in a Wildflower. Unfortunately we ate all of the cake that Jenny made before thinking to photograph it. Ooops. But luckily we found these beautiful photos on the lovely Heaven in a Wildflower blog.)

Pandan Cake Recipe

Ingredients for Mixture 1

7 Egg Yolks
3oz Caster Sugar
100ml Coconut Milk
3tbsp Flavourless Cooking Oil (e.g. Groundnut Oil)
1tsp Pandan Paste
1tsp Pandan Essence
5oz Plain Flour
1½tsp Baking Powder

Ingredients for Mixture 2

7 Egg Whites
¾tsp Cream of Tartar
3oz Caster Sugar

1. Preheat oven to 160°C.

2. Make Mixture 1 first:

a. Beat the egg yolks and sugar with an electric whisk until very pale and smooth.
b. Mix together the coconut milk, oil, pandan essence and pandan paste and pour into the egg yolk and sugar. Beat well until combined and smooth.
c. Sift the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture adding a little at a time. Use a plastic spatula or metal spoon.

3. Make Mixture 2:

a. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar in a large bowl until soft peaks form
b. Add the sugar a little at a time and continue beating until very firm. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down.

4. Add half of Mixture 2 to Mixture 1 and fold in very gently. Once combined, fold into the rest of Mixture 2.

5. Pour into the pandan cake tin and bake for about 1 hour

6. Once the cake is done, keep it in the tin to cool but turn the tin upside down, raising it if necessary. Keep in the tin until completely cold, if you try to take the cake out while it is still warm, it will collapse. Once the cake has cooled, use a knife to cut around the edges of the tin.

7. Serve on a plate and enjoy!

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