• Archive for August, 2013

    Time to browse…

    by  • 31/08/2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    The autumn months are fast approaching and what better way to spend them than in front of a wood burner enjoying this month’s issue, whilst enjoying some soul food to keep you warm and inspired with the temperature slowly dropping.

    For the more outgoing readers, take a look at our top 10 foraging hedges so that you can look out for them on those long country walks. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of our favourites, because it’s now possible to read Country Homes & Interiors on the go! Available on your iPad, Nook HD, Kindle Fire and Google Play.

    Country Homes & Interiors

    Read more →

    Country buy: scenic home accessories

    by  • 30/08/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    As the summer starts to fade it’s important to keep the sunny spirit alive. We’ve found some home accessories that capture the feel-good vibe of summer staycations and days spent out and about in the country – create evocative memories to brighten your home with these fabulous scenic finds…

    Create a room with a view with our pick of the best scenic buys.

    Create a room with a view using our pick of the best scenic buys.

    1. Great Barfield Essex watercolour cushion, £45, Dawn Critchley Designs at Not on the High Street. 2. Padstow Map heart, £45, Bombus Off The Peg at Not on the High Street. 3. Beach design door knob, £9, Chocolate Creative. 4. Seasalter Caravans oil painted on reclaimed wood, prices from £30, Jill Pantony at Hazelwood Studio. 5. Clifton Balloons Bristol tea towel, £9.50, Emmeline Simpson. 6. Seaside cushion, £35, Indigo and Rose.

    Read more →

    Country food: Bake Off style bread

    by  • 29/08/2013 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Pack up a picnic and go with this Pesto Twirl loaf

    We’ve all gone baking mad here at Country Homes, what with our efforts for Bake It Yourself last week and the new series of Bake Off back on our screens. This necessitates daily updates on what’s sailing forth from our ovens and conundrums such as what exactly is ‘the windowpane test’ (see below for the uninitiated). Just when we thought things couldn’t get any better, hot off the press the new bread book from last year’s finalist, tank top wearing James Morton, arrived in the office. There was lots of oohing and ahhing as we flicked through. As I’ve got not one but two picnics planned for this weekend, I’m going to try this recipe for the delightfully named Pesto Twirl loaf…

    Makes 1 loaf, for a 1kg loaf tin

    For the dough
    500g strong white flour
    1 x 7g sachet fast-action yeast
    10g salt
    350g tepid water

    For the pesto
    1 garlic clove
    50g fresh basil leaves
    25g pine nuts
    25g Parmesan, grated
    plenty of black pepper
    75g extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing

    1. In a large bowl, rub together the flour, yeast and salt, keeping the yeast and salt separate at either side of the bowl. Add the water and combine into a wet dough.

    2. If you’ve got the time, knead for 10–15 minutes until it passes the windowpane test (see below). This will result in a lighter result than if you decide to use the no-knead method. Once kneaded, rest the dough in the fridge for 8–12 hours, if you can. This will result in a better flavour, but if you can’t then cover and rest for 1–1½hours, or until roughly doubled in size.

    3. While the dough is resting, make your pesto. Using a food processor or blender, whizz together the garlic, basil, pine nuts, Parmesan and pepper. Then, with the blender still running, drizzle in all the olive oil and keep blending into a smooth paste. Meanwhile grease your loaf tin.

    4. Once the dough is rested, prepare a work surface with a sheet of baking paper dusted with flour. Turn your dough out on to this surface, and using floured hands, flatten into a large rectangle about 2cm thick (the shorter side of your rectangle should be the width of your loaf tin).

    5. Leaving a 2cm seam at either of the short ends, smear the pesto over the entire bread. Then, gently fold the seam at one end over the pesto and press down to seal. Continue to roll the bread up from the same end until you get to the other end and have a thick sausage with a spiral of pesto in the middle. Press down the other seam to seal.

    6. Seam-side down, transfer to your prepared loaf tin. Prove for a further 1 hour, or until nearly doubled in size again. Preheat your baking surface to 240°C/ gas 9 about 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake.

    7. Instead of scoring the top, brush it liberally with oil to preserve the pattern inside. Turn the oven down to 210°C/gas 6½ and bake for approximately 30–35 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Throw a cup of water on to the bottom of the oven at the beginning of the bake for extra lightness and better crust. Cool completely before slicing.

    What is The windowpane Test?
    This is a quick test to make sure your dough is done. Simply pinch off a small piece of your kneaded mix and leave it to rest on your fingers for a few seconds. Then, gently stretch it out using your other hand into as flat and wide a piece of dough you can. If it easily tears, it’s not done. If you can stretch it into a flat sheet that lets light shine through when held up to the light, you’ve got a well-kneaded dough. Once you know your dough is properly developed, play around with it a bit; get a sense of what it feels like. You’ll very quickly recognise this feeling in future. If you’re ever unsure, just try the test again.

    *Recipe taken from Brilliant Bread by James Morton, published by Ebury Press today, £20. Photograph by Andy Sewell.

    Read more →

    Country style: Lived-in linens

    by  • 28/08/2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    There is something very relaxed and luxurious about crumpled linens. This is a versatile, mix and match look that combines effortless country chic with the rustic styling of a  French loft. Being both feminine and hardwearing you can experiment in the same spirit with the rest of the bedroom décor, for example by teaming peeling shutters and a distressed wooden planking wallpaper  with a feature wall in a soft pink rose design. For more ideas on Autumn decorating take a look at our trend special- October issue- out now!

    Walls: Freya, Sanderson:  Scrapwood, Piet Hein Eek, Bodie & Fou.. Valance: headboard, Bemz. Lazy Linen, Loaf.

    Walls: Freya, Sanderson: Scrapwood, Piet Hein Eek, Bodie & Fou.. Valance: headboard, Bemz. Lazy Linen, Loaf.

    Read more →

    Country room: romantic bedroom

    by  • 27/08/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Understated natural shades are ever popular and this gorgeous country bedroom incorporates a delicate colour palette of whites, neutrals and soft limed pastels to create a relaxing, pared-down retreat.

    The fabrics and wallpaper are from Harlequin‘s new Poetica collection, which is sure to appeal to nature lovers as they are inspired by the English countryside. Reminiscent of a nature lover’s scrapbook, whimsical prints include botanical studies with a contemporary edge, plus distressed-look textured printed plains, embroideries, weaves, appliqués and floaty linen voiles to accompany them. Wallcoverings, such as this weathered wood-effect design, form an eyecatching backdrop to the botanical motifs.

    For maximum effect, make the centrepiece of the scheme a beautiful cream wrought-iron bed and add extra character with eclectic pieces such as the wonderful vintage wirework table.

    Wallpaper: Drift 110562 £44 a roll; voile curtain: Poetica Voile 141053 £38 a metre; curtains: Floria 120243 £42 a metre; bed throw: (front) Papier 120236 £38 a metre, (reverse) Anouskha Pewter 130052 £44 a metre; cushions on bed (l-r): Papier 120236 £38 a metre, Poetica Weaves Caneva
    130942 £45 a metre, Poetica Weaves Cheviot 130928 £45 a metre, Caprice 130900 £52 a metre, Papier 120236 £38 a metre; cushion on floor: Poetica Weaves Parquet 130918 £45 a metre; all Harlequin. Available from September.

    Read more →

    Country craft: bench cushion

    by  • 25/08/2013 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Bench cushion

    Dine in comfort with this stylish bench cushion made using Mini Bouquet, 1252-1 on Linen, £70 a metre, Elanbach.

    Entertain guests in comfort and make this stylish cushion to fit a kitchen or dining bench. We used pretty Elanbach fabric for this craft idea, featured in our latest issue – out soon!! For easy to follow instructions visit housetohome.co.uk

    If you like this idea we have lots more easy craft projects for you to try. Or for more country crafts, recipes and room ideas, why not try our new Country Home Ideas app?

    Read more →

    Country garden: help our wildlife

    by  • 24/08/2013 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Have you noticed how many butterflies and bees there seem to be about at the moment? All this wonderfully warm, sunny weather we’ve had has brought them dancing into our gardens in increasing numbers. It’s great news, since overall UK wildlife species are in decline.

    To help stop this decline, the Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts have got together to urge gardeners across Britain to provide wildlife-friendly habitats. In October they plan to launch a campaign ‘Wild About Gardens Week’ during which the public will be urged to ‘do one thing’ – whether that’s sowing wildflowers, planting nectar rich perennials or creating a pond.

    We’ve definitely been doing our bit here on Country Homes & Interiors to encourage more wildlife. This week our rooftop garden was abuzz with honey bees, who can’t get enough of the masses of flowering herbs. And while we’ve been out and about, we’ve been spotting other natural beauties – we’ve even managed to get a few snaps of them…

    Making a bee-line for our irresistible marjoram

    This tortoiseshell was spotted by Deputy Editor Sara in Essex last week

    This is a tiny mint moth resting on a geranium in my garden – so sweet!

    Not one of ours, sadly, but we loved this fuzzy bumblebee, sent in by the RHS

    Read more →

    Country buy: Harvest must-haves

    by  • 23/08/2013 • Country style • 1 Comment

    As we enjoy the hazy days of late summer, our minds turn to all things harvest related – you’ll have seen it’s already in full swing in the fields surrounding where Rhoda lives. The change of seasons brings a rich new colour palette for decorating inspiration and plentiful seasonal produce to make into delicious treats for the pantry.

    My shopping pages in our October issue (on sale next week) are brimming with buys to preserve the moment of an autumnal harvest –  in the meantime below is a little something to get you in the mood

    Moodboard of a seasonal harvest.

    Our moodboard to share the joys of a seasonal harvest.

    Main shot: Table runner and cushion fabric, Nyssa, £34 a metre, Villa Nova.  Table cloth, £95, The linen works. Chairs, from a selection at Rabbit & Rhubarb. Cutouts: Linea Seed Pod storage jar in Yellow by Michelle Mason, £16, House of Fraser. John Leach teapot, £78, David Mellor. Paris Rustic Wooden Crates, £21 each, Not on the high street. Copper saucepan, £69, Marks & Spencer. Oak board, £43.50, JME Collection from Jamie at Home. Sticker labels, £6.95 for four sheets, Liberty.

    Read more →

    Country food: gourmet mini burgers

    by  • 22/08/2013 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Lamb and mint sliders with roast potatoes

    One of the growing food trends this summer has been gourmet sliders, the mini cousins of the burger. Seen everywhere from restaurants and bars to festivals and beachside, there are not many that can resist the lure of these cute little burgers served in hordes on sharing platters – great food for the Bank Holiday. It’s important to use the very best meat: Worcestershire based Muddy Boots promotes ethically farmed British meat with total traceability, which gets a huge tick from the Country Homes & Interiors team. Co-founder  Miranda Ballard has got a new cookbook out. Try this recipe for the weekend, a roast dinner in miniature that serves 4. It tastes great in a bun, but even better served inside two roast potato rounds…

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    8 roughly-equal rounds of potato, unpeeled
    200g lean minced/ground lamb
    6 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
    3 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
    1 tablespoon beaten egg
    a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    a handful of watercress
    4 cocktail sticks

    1 Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas 4. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the oil on a baking sheet and lay the potato slices on top, mix to coat and sprinkle with black pepper. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.

    2 Put the lamb in a bowl with the mint, breadcrumbs, egg, and salt and pepper. Work together with your hands until evenly mixed. Divide the mixture into quarters and shape into four slider patties. Press each slider down to make them nice and flat.

    3 Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan/skillet and fry the sliders over medium–high heat for 4 minutes on each side until cooked through.

    4 Put one potato round on each serving plate and put a cooked slider on top of each. Top with a few leaves of watercress and finish with another potato round. Put a cocktail stick through the middle of each slider to hold them together and serve.

    *Burgers & Sliders by Miranda Ballard is published by Ryland Peters & Small at £9.99 and is available from www.rylandpeters.com. To find out more about Muddy Boots, visit muddybootsfoods.co.uk

    Read more →