Recipe | Italian-style sausage casserole

Weather in London has been so confusing lately. I’d leave home in the morning feeling too hot in a sweater and come back home in the evening with frozen (and most probably wet) feet. Which I hate.

However, it kind of gives me the licence to eat both summer and winter food within one day. Which I love. Because salads, avocado and grilled meats VS stews, and soups and cheeeeeeeeese!

In a desperate attempt not to choose between the best of two seasons, I tried to reconcile both within one dish. And I think I might have succeeded with this Italian-style sausage casserole! In your face stupid confusing weather!

For 3-4 people, you’ll need:Cake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipe1 onion2 celery sticks, half a red chilli (feel free to adjust to your own taste), 6 sausages (I used Waitrose’s Toulouse sausages but any kind would work as long as they’re not too sweet. I think vegetarian sausages would work too, maybe add a bit more smoked paprika to balance it out…), as much garlic as you can take (I’m French, so I used 5 big cloves, but you definitely don’t have to!), 1/2 a bowl of uncooked white beans (you can also use a can, in which case you’ll want to skip step 1), 1 bowl of kale, thyme (as much as you like, which for me means A LOT), 1 can of chopped tomatoes, 1 vegetable stock cube1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.

Cake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeStep 1: Put the beans in a big pot. Cover with water. Add salt and cook until tender (about 30-40 minutes). Then rince under cold water and set aside.

You can do that step in advance (or even skip it all together by using canned beans!)

Cake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeCake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeCake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeStep 2: Dice the vegetables. Cake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipe(yuuuup, that’s A LOT of garlic! #sorrynotsorry)Cake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeCake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeStep 3: Chop up your sausages in bite-sized chuncks (I usually do 6-7 with each sausage)

Step 4: Put your diced veggies in a big pot with a spoonful of olive oil. Cook until slightly caramelized. 

Cake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeStep 5: Add the sausages in and cook until they’re almost entirely cooked through. 

Step 6: Add in the beans, the stock cube, the can of tomatoes and half a glass of water. Add salt and pepper, thyme and smoked paprika too. Cake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeTime to taste (you know, in case you need to adjust the seasoning or something… 😜 )!
Cake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeCake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeStep 7: Once your casserole has bubbled away for 5-10 minutes and has almost reach the right half-way between soup and stew consistency, stir in the kale and let it cook for another 5-6 minutes. 
Cake + Whisky | Italian-style sausage casserole recipeStep 8: Spoon into bowls in some kind of artistic way. It’s obviously not my forte (but I do know a brilliant fix: add mozzarella on top and melt it for a few minutes in the microwave!).

Step 9: Eat in excellent company while watching the weather change through the window (or you know, re-re-re-watching Friends for the 700th time… I won’t judge!)

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Recipe | Italian-style sausage casserole

Yelp’s After Hours Bubble Tea Event at Bubbleology | All the bubbles! | Notting Hill

One of the reasons I love London so much is that there’s always something new to explore. Which is closely related to one of the most challenging things about this city: finding a way to keep track of what’s going on!!

For a few weeks now, I’ve been trying out the Yelp app, which is the perfect pocket companion to any London explorer. It allows you to keep track of the places you’ve visited (thanks to the check-in option), give you the opportunity to read reviews before you pick a place to go out for dinner (bye-bye dodgy restaurants!) and even to write some yourself. Basically, it’s like the whole of London has suddently became your best friend and wants to give you tips about what you should check out (or not).

Even better yet, from time to time, Yelp actually organises events for you to meet other members! So on Friday, I grabbed one of my very best friends (who was visiting for the weekend) and we headed to Bubbleology in Notting Hill to the Yelp Afterhour Bubble Tea event!Cake + Whisky | Bubbleology Notting Hill Bubble TeaWe were greated by a wacky lab in the window… Mad scientist themed party? YES please!!Cake + Whisky | Bubble Tea at Bubbleology Notting Hill Cake + Whisky | Bubble Tea at Bubbleology Notting Hill After taking a good look at all the scienc-ey artefacts (and clicking a few pictures of us lounging around…), it was time for the bubble madness to begin!Cake + Whisky | Bubble Tea at Bubbleology Notting Hill First up, pick up some tea from the very long list of flavours availables (here, apple-tea-ni or strawberry daiqui-tea). Add some chewy tapioca bubbles (they’re the dark ones and the most traditional topping) for good measure. Cake + Whisky | Bubbleology Notting Hill Bubble TeaNext up: move on to the less traditional, much more colourful side of things. Go crazy and add popping bubbles (they quite literally explode when you bite into them, it’s really fun!) and/or jelly bits… Better get a variety of colours and tastes too (you know, in the name of research…).Cake + Whisky | Bubbleology Notting Hill Bubble TeaTadaaaaaah, you’re really to go! All that’s left to do is find the classiest way to slurp those bubbles up! (I still haven’t quite found out, but I’m working on it!!)Cake + Whisky | Bubble Tea at Bubbleology Notting Hill Cake + Whisky | Bubble Tea at Bubbleology Notting Hill If you need a little snack, Bubbleology has you covered too as they also serve delicious macaroons that are just as good as the one you can buy in the most luxurious of places! Except that they’re much cheaper (yay to that!!).
Cake + Whisky | Bubble Tea at Bubbleology Notting Hill Mingle with other Yelpers for a little while…Cake + Whisky | Bubble Tea at Bubbleology Notting Hill Grab another cup of bubble tea. Repeat. It’ll all make for a very nice night indeed.

What? Bubbly drinks in pretty much any flavour you can think of. Bubbleology doesn’t usually serve the cocktail versions of their teas (but I really really wish they will in the future as I fell in love with the strawberry daiqui-tea and our romance simply can’t end up that abruptly… Please help?)

Where? Bubbleology, 45 Pembridge Road, London W11 3HG

* disclaimer: Drinks & nibbles were courtesy of Bubbleology for the event. Yelp events are free to attend for registered members and they’re a lot of fun! Join in now, we can be buddies

Yelp’s After Hours Bubble Tea Event at Bubbleology | All the bubbles! | Notting Hill

Ottolenghi | The sure-fire way to fall in love with salads (+ CAKES!) | Islington

I’ve never quite understood people who say they don’t like vegetables. I mean, there are SO MANY, surely, there are a few that you actually enjoy eating, right? But this sort of debate no longer matter as I’ve now found the best place for picky eaters to fall in love with vegetables (and for veggie lovers to have the best lunch ever!)!!

It is hardly a secret that Ottolenghi is one of the top food spots in Islington (queues don’t lie!). And just in case the fame wasn’t enough, they put all sorts of cakes in the windows (but we’ll come back to that latter)…

Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonThe restaurant itself isn’t much of a looker if you ask me. It just looks very clean and simple, loads of white, design chairs (which are surprisingly comfy!) and this pretty cool (because made of recycled cardboard!!) massive sculpture that covers the full length of the wall.
Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonBut before you get seated, you better get a good look at the goodies on offer that day!!Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonI absolutely love the salad bar and would happily munch my way through it every day for lunch if that was an option.Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonThe vegetarian filo parcels looked pretty ace (that is, until I read the words “goat cheese”… I must be the only French person not liking cheese, but I really really can’t stomach it!)
Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonAnd what about this sweet potato dish? Looking at the pictures, I kind of regret not ordering it…
Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonBut at the same time, the plate that was (very quickly) put in front of us was pretty much perfect? We went for the roast chicken leg (MASSIVE bit of meat!) with sides of the new potato salad (de-licious!), white cabbage, kale, carrot and grape slaw and roasted aubergine with yoghurt.

The chicken was perfectly cooked and very moist (plus the thigh was de-boned, which made it much easier to eat!!).The slaw was quite anis-ey, so if you’re not really into this, skip it. Luckily, this isn’t my case, and it was probably one of the best slaws I’ve had in London, thanks to the zingy orange dressing and the refreshing grapes which balanced the strong flavours of fennel seeds and cabbage perfectly. I absolutely love the potato salad as well. But the real winner on that plate is most certainly the roasted aubergine. If you still put aubergine on the list of the vegetables you don’t like, please do me (and yourself) a favour and grab a table at Ottolenghi for lunch ASAP. I promise it wil change your mind on aubergine, which much too often ends up overcooked/rubbery/chewy/greasy. Here, you’ll only get crispy skin and melt-in-the-mouth flesh and you’ll fell in love almost instantly.

Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonAnother thing that’ll make you fall in love with Ottolenghi is the cake display. I wonder if anyone is actually able to resist ending their meal with a few treats…

I quite obviously couldn’t do this in a million years. Instead, I made the only responsible decision there is when faced with such a delicious-looking buffet: I ordered more cakes than we were people. Because I’m an adult and YOLO (but I’d use any excuse to eat cake, so if you have any I could be using next time, please send them my way!!).Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonCake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, London
Starting off with the Elderflower cheesecake topped with blackcurrant. The cheesecake at Ottolenghi are usually quite dense, but that’s the way I like them best so I was in cake-heaven!Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonCake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonThe Almond & Orange cake w/ Chocolate Ganache didn’t quite find its way to my heart as I found it to be a bit on the dry side (+ it wasn’t quite orang-ey enough for me compared to the other flavour-packed dishes!). The ganache was quite lovely though!Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, London(It seems I was taking too many pictures and SOMEBODY wasn’t really happy that he had to stop eating his cake!)Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonCake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonCake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonNow let’s be serious for a second. If you’re as much of a peanut butter lover as I am, you MUST rush to your closest Ottolenghi and get one of their Smore’s. Or a dozen (definitely g for a dozen!!). They’re quite simply a peanut butter-lover dream come true: peanut butter and soft meringue sandwiched inbetween two crumbly peanut butter biscuits and covered in dark chocolate and crushed peanuts. Heaven. Cake + Whisky | Ottolenghi, Islington, LondonThere’s also a small deli if you’re still feeling a bit peckish on your way out (we weren’t). But now that I look at the picture, I realise they’re also selling good tahini paste, which I’ve been looking for for ages. So I suppose I’ll HAVE TO go back some time this weekend to pick up a jar. And maybe a few more of those Smore’s…

What: The best roasted aubergine ever. Even our waitress couldn’t help but be excited when advising the lady sitting next to us who wasn’t sure if she should get the aubergine or the potato salad.

Tip: Don’t skip the cake. No diet is worth skipping cake at Ottonlenghi for. If you’re not very hungry, just have cake. or get some to take away (any excuse, really!)

How much: If you look at the prices on the menu, it might get scary pretty quickly. £17 for a plate with salad and chicken isn’t cheap. But the portions are MASSIVE (we shared it between the two of us and were both pretty full. And they don’t look at you weirdly for doing this, in case you wondered!), so you should end up paying around £15 per person with drinks, and cakes. Loads of cakes. Which really is not unreasonable at all!

Where: Ottolenghi, 287 Upper Street, London N1 2TZ

Ottolenghi | The sure-fire way to fall in love with salads (+ CAKES!) | Islington

Franco Manca | Pizza dates | London

When it comes to date, most people think expensive, Michelin-type restaurants, where you have to dress up to get in.  I usually think small, rather busy restaurants that would let me sit there for the entire evening, sipping wine (or cocktails, I’m rather flexible you know!) and eating all sorts of delicious things straight from the plate. But that might very well be because I’m not really good at booking tables, or planning dates in advance for that matter…

One of our favourite places to visit for un-planned dates (and general meals out) is Franco Manca. We go pretty much every single time we’re near Warren Street. We went when my friends visited from France. We even went for brunch on Valentine’s day! And also some time last week…

Cake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonWe’ve been so many times we barely glance at the menu anymore! We do, however, check the specials’ board, as they’re often stuffed with brilliant specials, extra toppings and general good suggestions!Cake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonCake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonCake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonGod I love open kitchen! Watching the cooks do their thing (especially when that thing is pizza!) keeps me very entertained while I’m waiting for my food!
Cake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | London
Alright, I WAS actually checking if it was our pizza being preped!
Cake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | London10 seconds later (I kid you not, it’s THAT fast!), and there you go! A perfectly cooked, slightly charred sourdough pizza! 
Cake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonFirst, we had burrata. Creamy, beautiful burrata. Every time it’s on the menu, I can not not order it. I could eat this all day, every day, and never get quite bored of it. Especially if it comes with toasted sourdough & a few cherry toms!
Cake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonCake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonThen we tried to be reasonable by sharing a pizza. We went for the n°6 (the one with chorizo). But we didn’t exactly stick to the plan, as we ended up adding many extra toppings (namely green peppers, olives and garlic pesto)… oops!Cake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonAs you can see, our experiment was rather a success! Of course, you might argue that this is all thanks to the delicious, light, pillowy yet slighty crispy dough, or the high quality of the ingredients used, but I think my inner creative genius was also involved!Cake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonNo matter how stuffed you are, there’s always, always room for pudding! In that case, a chocolate and hazelnut cake with vanilla ice cream! Not exactly chocolate-y enough for my taste though… but then I have pretty high standards!Cake + Whisky | Franco Manca | Pizza | LondonEspresso mastro!

What: One of London’s best sourdough pizzas. That’s what they’re know for and that’s what they do well. Don’t bother with dessert, it’s not really their forte.

Tip: Yes, you’ll want some garlic pesto with that. And probably a bit of olive oil too to dip the crust in.

How much: The bill usually comes to around £20 for two people. No, I don’t know how they do it either.

Where98 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4TR (they have many other restaurants in London though, so you might want to check their website!)

Franco Manca | Pizza dates | London

Healthy Living | 3 ways to build habits that stick!

I’ve never been one to fight against adversity. When things don’t quite work out the way I’d like them to, I usually either:
1. Figure out a way around it, that’d allow me to get to the same result. I could for example, give up on that level of Candy Crush I’m stuck on until I have enough magic candies to win it easy-peasy. Or get somebody to open all cans for me (I’m so bad at handling can openers that my dad formally prevented me to do so a few years ago).
2. Simply consider that this one thing is simply “not for me” and just give up. Running? Not for me. Swimming? Not for me. Cycling? Most certainly not for me. (See the pattern here?)

And yet it is when I go over that sort of things that I get the most rewarding results. Up to two years ago, I would have SWORN aubergines were not for me. It is now one of my favourite vegetables. Crunches were also not for me. They’re still not my best friends, but I’m working on it. And it was the same for a number of other things: un-doing my make-up every day, drinking enough water, stews… All sorts of things.

Cake + Whisky | How to build habits that stick - 3 tips

I’ve been on the “good habit building” roller-coaster so many times I’ve stopped counting. But I’ve learnt a thing or two along the way, that are making it easier for me to fulfill my goals…

1. Reminder – Apps and trackers:

Call me crazy but I don’t think there’s anything quite as satisfying as ticking things off a to-do list. I already confessed my addiction to tracking apps in my “How to drink more water” post, so you won’t really be surprised to hear that whenever it comes to building new habits, I turn to them as well.

I still use Water Your Body to keep track of how much water I drink and I’ve started using Coach for all my other goals. Even if it’s not the most easy app to use at first, I like the flexibility it gives me in terms of goal-setting (you can pick goals from a list or create your own + you can decide how many times a week you want to perform a certain action).

And you get to tick that box once you’ve accomplished any of your goals that day (which clearly doubles my happiness since 1. I kept up with my habit 2. box-ticking is so satisfying!)!!

2. Routine – Not getting bored:

The other day, I was mid-way through my third set of 30 squats when I finally realised why it had been so difficult for me to keep exercising every day; it’s not that it was especially difficult, or that it hurt me; I was just bored of going through the exact same routine every evening.

When it comes to staying motivated, I truly believe variety is key… You wouldn’t want to eat brownies for breakfast, lunch & dinner every day (or would you?) so why have the same packed lunch or exercise routine every day?

Speaking of which, I’m currently working on some healthy packed lunch + snacks recipes… so hopefully there’ll be some ideas for you to get inspired by over here soon!

3. Rewards – Planning (possibly buying) them ahead of time:

When I came back from Barcelona, I felt both exausted and stronger from all the walking we had done in three days and I didn’t want to let go of that habit. So I made a deal with myself: I would walk to and/or from work every day, and with the money I’d save doing so, I’d treat myself to something nice at the beginning of the following month. Having my eyes set on the prize (a proper pedicure, if you must know!) help me stay focus and stick to the habit (I haven’t missed a day yet and I’ve saved over £20 already!!), so I’m considering extending this little experiment to my general workout routine in the future…

How do you achieve your healthy-living goals? Any tricks to build habits that stick? 

Healthy Living | 3 ways to build habits that stick!

Brick Lane’s Beigel Bake | Salt beef or smoked salmon? | London

Beigel Bake on Brick Lane is a London institution that’s been around for as long as I can remember. It’s open 24/7 and there is always, ALWAYS a line. Not really surprising considering the value for money those guys offer!

It’s all made on site (watching the bakers make the bagels will keep you busy while you queue!), very generous (I swear there was half a pack of cream cheese in my bagel!), and stupidly cheap too!

Cake + Whisky | Brick Lane Beigel Bake | LondonIt might look a bit dodgy, but do not run away!
Cake + Whisky | Brick Lane Beigel Bake | LondonDecisions, decisions… (I wanted everything!)
Cake + Whisky | Brick Lane Beigel Bake | LondonThat time I manage to click a perfectly non-blurry picture… of the brown paper bag! #failCake + Whisky | Brick Lane Beigel Bake | LondonCake + Whisky | Brick Lane Beigel Bake | LondonThe smoked salmon + cream cheese: fresh, slightly sour cream cheese and the most melty salmon; a real beauty! And look at the bagel dough! Very springy, but still soft and pillowy…
Cake + Whisky | Brick Lane Beigel Bake | LondonBut the kind of all bagels is without a doubt Beigel Bake’s Salt Beef! Generous chunk of meat, just teased by the spicy taste of American mustard… it doesn’t get much better!Cake + Whisky | Brick Lane Beigel Bake | LondonAnd a picture of Shoreditch, just because!

What: Beigels in all their glorious forms. But it would be a mistale not to get the -massive- salt beef. Or the -ridiculously indulgent- smoked salmon with cream cheese!

Tip: When you’re there, you might as well grab 6 plain bagels to put in your freezer and use for emergency breakfast/brunch/lunch/dinner… You know what I mean!

How much: Ridiculously cheap: plain beigels are £0.30 a pop; smoked salmon + cream cheese will set you back 1.60 and London’s best salt beef beigels are a bit over £3.

Where: Brick Lane Beigel Bake, 159 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB

Brick Lane’s Beigel Bake | Salt beef or smoked salmon? | London

Herman Ze German | Wurst + Pommes bitte! | London

They claim that their Wurst is Ze Best… I had a bit of time to kill (and needed to grab lunch before taking a very special cab back to work!), so i thought I’d check out if Herman Ze German lived up to its expectations!

Cake + Whisky | Herman ze German | LondonCake + Whisky | Herman ze German | LondonCake + Whisky | Herman ze German | LondonI like short menus(= it takes me only 10 minutes to decide between 5 types of sausage!)Cake + Whisky | Herman ze German | LondonBready goodness or healthy sides?Cake + Whisky | Herman ze German | LondonAll the Fritzt drinks!! Cherry or melon?Cake + Whisky | Herman ze German | LondonIsn’t the branding too cute?Cake + Whisky | Herman ze German | LondonHooray for lunch in the sun! Cake + Whisky | Herman ze German | LondonCurrywurst mit Pommes. The wurst was good (not too greasy, good flavour), but I’m not sure I liked the curry sauce that much (it was a bit too sweet for me). The chips however were very VERY good (with loads of curry-salt)!!

What: German sausage in all its forms (including vegetarian), grilled and served in buns, with chips or a side salad. But trust me, you’ll want the chips! Other German goodies also available (giant pretzels, sauerkraut…).

How much: Currywurst + Pommes was £5.95 I think. Rolls around £5. Sounds like a great lunch deal to me!

Tip: No matter what you do, GET THE CHIPS (and probably the free crispy onion topping too, because YOLO)!

Where: Herman Ze German |19 Villiers Street, London WC2N 6ND

Cake + Whisky | Lindt Bliss Taxi | LondonMy drive back to work! The Lindt Bliss taxi no less! Want to win your own trip (inc. Lindor and the most adorable driver in London)? Click here!

Herman Ze German | Wurst + Pommes bitte! | London