• Archive for October, 2013

    Country food: in praise of the posset

    by  • 31/10/2013 • Country food • 0 Comments

    Lavender Posset

    Sweet little things: a lavender and lemon posset served with lavender biscuits

    We love that most English of puddings the posset here at Country Homes & Interiors, and we’re fond of all things lavender related too, so choosing this dessert for the blog this week was a no brainer (plus we’re big fans of Paul Hollywood and this recipe is from his new book). A posset is a very simple pudding that dates back to the Middle Ages, and the lemon juice and fragrant lavender in this recipe cuts through the richness of the cream perfectly. (Serves 4–6)

    For the posset
    600ml double cream
    150g caster sugar
    1 tbsp edible lavender
    Juice of 2 lemons, strained

    For the lavender biscuits
    100g unsalted butter, softened
    2 tsp lavender (fresh buds and leaves or edible dried lavender)
    50g caster sugar
    175g plain flour

    1 To make the posset, put the cream, sugar and lavender in a pan. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat a little and simmer for 2–3 minutes, stirring often so the cream doesn’t stick and burn. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then pour into 4 glass tumblers or small dishes, or 6 espresso cups. Leave to cool completely then cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, until set. Remove from the fridge 20 minutes before serving.

    2 To make the biscuits, beat the butter and lavender together in a bowl; this helps release the flavour of the lavender. Add the caster sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Work in the flour with a fork or wooden spoon. Don’t worry if it seems like there is too much flour at this point – it is supposed to be a fairly dry mix. Use your hands to bring the mixture together into a smooth dough. Form the mixture into a cylinder shape, about 4cm in diameter and 18cm long, and wrap in greaseproof paper or cling film. Put in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, until firm. When you are ready to bake the biscuits, heat your oven to 160°C/gas 3 and line a large baking tray with parchment. Unwrap the dough and use a sharp, serrated knife to cut 5mm thick discs from the cylinder. Place these discs on the lined tray, allowing room for the biscuits to spread a little. (You’ll need to cook them in batches.) Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges of the biscuits are just starting to turn golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

    *Recipe taken from Paul Hollywood’s Pies & Puds (£20, published by Bloomsbury), out now. Photograph: Peter Cassidy


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    Country style: Firework party

    by  • 30/10/2013 • Country craft, Country moment, Country style • 1 Comment

    At Country Homes & Interiors, we’re always on the look out for a brilliant idea, so that’s why we like this upcycled vintage case that has been lovingly fitted with shelves and lined with pretty rose fabric. It’s the perfect way to display and serve a warming tipple whilst watching the fireworks from the comfort of home.

    Available in different sizes, these lovely cases from Jasmine Bilson also have lots of uses around the home, such storing and displaying collectables or jewellery.


    Rose upcycled leather suitcase cupboard, Jasmine Bilson. Shot glasses, John Lewis. Drinks and miniatures, Tesco. In bottle, Stag bottle stoppers, Belle & Thistle.

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    Country room: rustic hallway

    by  • 29/10/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    Fancy donning wellies and wrapping yourself up warm for a walk in the autumn countryside in this lovely country hallway?

    Classic country features such as limewashed wooden panelling and a brick floor make a statement and are practical too. Add to the mix beautifully crafted furniture with an artisan edge from John Lewis such as the armoire (great for bulky coats) and bench (perfect for taking off your wellies).  The pheasant cushion and  cosy woollen throw are a decorative way of comfying up the bench.

    Of course, no country hallway would be complete without a peg shelf and a peg specially reserved  for Fido’s dog lead. And don’t forget  rustic baskets – great for storage or gathering autumnal foliage.

    John Lewis Country Matting £175 Water Hyacinth Large Basket £23 Pendleton Armoire Display £999 Neptune Suffolk 4ft Peg Shelf £140 Pendleton Bench £299 Voyage Pheasant Cushion £45 Water Hyacinth Picnic Hamper £65.

    John Lewis Country Matting £175, Water Hyacinth Large Basket £23, Pendleton Armoire Display £999, Neptune Suffolk 4ft Peg Shelf £140, Pendleton Bench £299, Voyage Pheasant Cushion £45, Water Hyacinth Picnic Hamper £65, all John Lewis.

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    Country Christmas workshops

    by  • 28/10/2013 • Country business, Country craft, Country moment, Country style • 0 Comments

    Get into the festive spirit on a creative Christmas workshop run exclusively for Country Homes & Interiors readers. Create your own wreath or master the art of luxury cracker making in one of three beautiful locations across the UK: Cannizaro house in London, The Parsonage in York or Guyers House in Bath. Check out the dates here.

    Come and make wreaths and crackers with us

    Come and make wreaths and crackers with us

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    Country craft: paper rose decoration

    by  • 27/10/2013 • Country craft • 0 Comments

    Papercraft rose decoration, Country Homes and Interiors blog

    Easy to make paper rose decoration as featured in our December issue.

    Learn how to make this pretty paper rose decoration by following these simple instructions from the Country Homes & Interiors team. Featured in our soon to be seen December issue, this pretty flower is made using vintage sheet music but would look equally lovely made with wrapping, craft or wallpaper. Why not have a go following our instructions?

    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?

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    Country garden: planting bulbs

    by  • 26/10/2013 • Country moment • 0 Comments

    Autumn’s the perfect time to plan ahead for some spring colour in your country garden by planting bulbs. Scattering them and burying them where they drop in natural drifts in the lawn or borders is one of my favourite jobs to do now. They look so joyful.

    This year, though, I’m also going to try layering bulbs in large terracotta pots – it’s aptly called ‘lasagne planting’ – and hopefully results in a succession of gorgeous blooms all through spring because as one species dies down there’s another coming up right behind. Clever!

    Bulbs need good drainage, so cover the holes in the base of the pot with crocks and a few centimetres of compost. Start with a layer of bulbs that flower latest in spring, such as narcissi, alliums, fritillaries and some varieties of tulips. Add another layer of compost, then mid-season bulbs, such as hyacinths, snowdrops and earlier varieties of tulips. Finish off with dainty early spring blooms, such as grape hyacinths, crocus, scilla or chionodoxa. Cover with compost and water in, making sure the pot doesn’t dry out through winter. It’ll be worth the wait!

    Try Avon Bulbs for a huge range of autumn bulbs or Sarah Raven for collections of narcissi and tulips in heavenly colour combinations.

    Planting bulbs, Country Homes and Interiors blog

    Choose a pretty mix of orange tulips and scented narcissi. Photograph iBulb

    Planting bulbs, Country Homes and Interiors blog

    Go for dramatic good looks with different varieties of tulips in shades of purple. Photograph iBulb

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    Country buy: Betty & Walter

    by  • 25/10/2013 • Country style • 0 Comments

    There are many reasons to love the lifestyle brand Betty & Walter; the timeless vintage/retro vibe of the designs, the sentiment behind the name – it’s inspired by Aunt Betty & Uncle Walter and the creative founder is Lisa Levis who you may remember as Lisa Stickley, the British designer renowned for her unique illustrative prints on chinaware, kitchen textiles and accessories.

    Here’s our pick of the hottest pieces from the new collection; we want these on-trend monochrome mugs…

    Betty-Walter-Mugs-Country-Homes-and Interiors-blog

    Bone China mugs, £8 each, Betty & Walter

    Love the 50s feel of this Tulip design featuring bright bundles of tulips, inspired by Aunty Betty’s fondness for fabulous florals. Also available on equally chic kitchen aprons and pinnies.


    Cotton tea towels, £8 each, Betty & Walter.

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    Country food: pear and almond tart

    by  • 24/10/2013 • Country food • 1 Comment

    Pear and almond tart

    A slice of perfection if ever there was: pear and almond tart

    This confection of poached pears, almond cream and crisp pastry is an absolute delight, especially when served warm.

    SERVES 8

    For the poached pears
    4 pears (Williams are good)
    about 300ml water
    1 vanilla pod, split
    1 cinnamon stick
    250g caster sugar

    For the sweet pastry
    80g unsalted butter
    130g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
    pinch of salt
    30g sugar
    1 free-range egg yolk
    1 tbsp water

    For the almond cream
    125g softened unsalted butter
    125g caster sugar
    125g ground almonds
    3 medium free-range eggs
    2 tbsp rum

    To finish
    apricot jam warmed with a little water
    1 tbsp sliced almonds

    1 Peel the pears, cut them in half and remove the cores. Pour about 300ml of water into a large pan and add the vanilla pod, cinnamon stick and sugar. Bring to the boil, then add the pears and simmer  for 20 minutes. Leave to cool.

    2 To make the pastry, cut the butter into small pieces and leave it to soften at room temperature. Sift the flour and salt, place them on the work surface and make a well in the centre. Add the butter and sugar and gently work together with your fingertips. Add the egg yolk and gradually draw in the flour, adding drops of water as you go. When all the flour has been incorporated, shape the dough into a ball, but do not overwork it. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

    3 For the almond cream, whisk the butter and sugar until pale, then add the ground almonds. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and finally the rum.

    4 Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3mm and use it to line a greased 28cm flan tin. Prick the pastry base with a fork, line it with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans, then bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and put the pastry back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the base has cooked but not taken on too much colour. Leave the oven on.

    5 Spoon the almond cream into the tart base, then arrange the sliced, drained pears on top, with the pointed ends towards the centre. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. When the tart is cooked, warm some apricot jam with a little water and brush it over the surface. Sprinkle the tart with toasted sliced almonds and serve warm.

    *Recipe from The French Kitchen by Michel Roux Jr, (Weidenfeld & Nicolson,  £25, orionbooks.co.uk), out now

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    Country room: pretty children’s room

    by  • 22/10/2013 • Country style • 2 Comments

    Country Homes and Interiors blog, Country Days, country children's bedroom

    Rug: Abacus Calypso 42102,  £149, wallpaper: Candy 70507 and Best of Friends, both £30 a roll, curtains: Best of Friends 120128, £30 metre, upholstery: Mimi Check 130780, £26 a metre, cushions and throw: a selection of fabrics from the Mimi Checks & Stripes Collection, all Harlequin

    Put the fun into a country children’s room with lively mismatched patterns and punchy colours to chase away those ‘grey day’ blues. And here’s a scheme that’s sure to appeal to little girls who are past the princess stage but still want a girly and cute space when their friends come round for a sleepover.

    This is a room that’s full of ‘must-have’ ingredients. Stylish young ladies will love the feature wall and curtain fabric by Harlequin that’s adorned with rows of hand-holding friends, while a plain wall is great for showing off children’s treasured artwork. A country feel is added with colourful checks and stripes, a statement Louis XV chair and traditional-style cast iron beds. Don’t forget to make playing on the floor extra comfy with a rug inspired by abacus beads and plumped-up floor cushions.

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