Sunday, 11 December 2016

A Middle Eastern Feast


Hello!

I made this wonderful feast of Middle Eastern food over summer for some very special Yemeni guests. I've been wanting to write about it and share my tips with you all for quite some time!

I really love Middle Eastern cuisine. It is so incredibly diverse and full of so much flavour. It contrasts quite differently to Indian and Pakistani food. From personal experience, I've found that South Asian foods tends to focus more on creating bold flavours - hence the emphasis on spice! Whereas Middle Eastern food tends to focus more on creating a beautiful blend of complimenting flavours - the emphasis on the latter is more about the balance and the subtelty of flavour. Both cuisines are incredible in their own respects, but for this feast of desserts, I really wanted to pay homage to two classic Arab dishes: basbousa (semolina cake) and baklava, as well as add a Middle Eastern twist to my classic chocolate truffle recipe!

Firstly, the basbousa! Basbousa is a delicious sweet cake made with semolina and soaked in sugar syrup. You can get so many different variations of basbousa - some add orange flower water, others add in chopped nots. I have recreated this cake many times and in my own version, I like to combine cinnamon with freshly squeezed lemons for the syrup. I also like to add my own touch by drizzling the finished cake with a homemade cacao sauce and sliced pistachios. The addition of edible rose petals on top was purely aesthetic, and matches well with the green and pink colour scheme!

I am yet to meet a person who dislikes baklava. Baklava is one of my all-time favourite desserts, and homemade baklava is particularly special to me because you can really taste the difference when you compare it to store-bought alternatives. For the nut mixture you can use pretty much any combination, but personally, I prefer a mix of pistachios, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Drenched in delicious honey syrup and nestled between cinnamon spice, this baklava was probably the best I've ever made - they really hit the spot!

The homemade chocolate truffles were incredibly rich and decadent. I topped them with sliced pistachios, finely diced turkish delight, beautiful rose petals as well as the chopped baklava nut mixture that I had sweetened with honey syrup. The result was an incredibly indulgent and luxurious treat! I loved combining my classic truffle recipe with a Middle Eastern twist. I served these truffles on the baking sheet I prepared them on because I quite liked the look of the chocolate splatters on the sheet. Otherwise, these would make a fantastic gift for any chocolate lover.

For part of the breakfast, I made Greek yoghurt parfaits layered with generous servings of crunchy granola and the baklava nut mixture I had prepared the day before. To avoid this parfait from looking too much like a dessert, I added fresh fruit, pumpkin seeds and finely chopped nuts to the top of the glasses.

Love from,

Iffa
xoxo
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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Sonic Boom


Jacket - Topshop
Top - Pull and Bear
Jeans - Zara
Boots - Koi Couture
Bag - Zara

Hello!

After my previous rather boring, all black post, I thought I would switch things up and post an outfit with a bit more colour. I would never have dreamed of wearing an outfit like this around six months ago, and maybe in six months I will say the same again (awkwardly enough, I'm saying it right now), but in my view fashion should be be fun, even if it is just for the moment. On a side note, I think I was influenced by some sort of 90's/Sonic Boom type of vibe with this outfit. I can't really elaborate on it because I have no idea why or where from.

I was just looking to wear my blue denim jacket in a way which didn't involve something white or black - my normal go-to choices. Even though I would say a denim jacket is a staple piece worth investing in, I haven't really worn it much at all. When I bought this jacket I was so excited and determined to wear it with everything that I even had the back personalised and monogrammed by Hand and Lock in London. I really have no excuse to not wear it more!

Love from,

Iffa
xoxo
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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

All Black in Summer


Hello!

It feels odd to be posting this outfit up on a day when it turned out to be surprisingly pretty warm and sunny. When these pictures were actually being taken it was ridiculously cold, so much so that I ended up buying an extra scarf to try and keep warm. 

This outfit is definitely one of my more 'down day' outfits - the kind of outfits you put together when you have limited time to get ready and frankly, limited patience to either. On days like these you want to look as put-together as possible, but with absolute minimal effort. In these type of instances I tend to go for all black, purely because it's difficult to go wrong when you're only working with one colour in your whole outfit. A less lazy Iffa would have opted for a few dark grey pieces to try and add more texture to the outfit, but for the sake of keeping an honest and realistic blog, I'm glad I didn't.

I have to give a special shoutout to these heeled boots because are super comfortable and go with literally anything. They're from Koi Footwear and can be found here. I have to confess I'm a loyal Koi customer! Their shoes are always on-trend and affordable, so I end up buying the same styles in a few different colours to match with different outfits.

Love from,

Iffa
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Sunday, 7 August 2016

How to Brunch like a Pro


I'm a massive fan of big breakfasts. Big breakfasts are the perfect excuse to eat some of your favourite dessert foods disguised as 'breakfast' foods (pain au chocolats and pancakes with lots of syrup included). Out of habit, I like to have big breakfasts everyday because otherwise I feel tired and hangry (hungry + angry).

Recently two of my really good friends came up from London and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to prepare a big Sunday brunch feast. I love planning and cooking for dinner parties, but have never really ventured into the world of preparing breakfasts. Now I don't know why I never did this earlier because it was so much fun! It was something different from the conventional dinner party, with the added bonus of putting you in the best mood to start the day.

Although I love looking at Pinterest-perfect plates of food, a lot of the time they just aren't realistic. Beautifully decorated smoothie bowls and perfectly poached eggs may look good for Instagram, but translated into real life they simply aren't practical for the busy working person. This breakfast I prepared was quicker to put together than it may look like, and I wanted to share some tips on how I went about planning it all.

1. Choose a theme

I never really chose a theme for this brunch, but in hindsight I can see that I was really working on a theme centred around fresh fruit and vibrant colours. It was a beautifully sunny day and I really wanted to emulate this by using bright table placemats and the best fruits in season. It would be fun to try other themes like a classic tea party, or if you are part of a book club then host a brunch centred around that. (I hope my book club friends reading this see this as an incentive and a reminder to please read the chapters by the agreed deadline now)

2. Check your local bakery

If you don't have the time to bake your own pastries, check out your local bakery early in the morning (it's worth getting up early for, trust me!) for the freshest and tastiest baked goods. Supermarkets also have bakery sections, but from personal experience, I've always noticed that local bakeries produce better quality and more fresh foods.

3. Get the timing right

Bit of an obvious one, but don't toast your bread or fry up your eggs too early - they will get cold! I waited till my guests were sat at the table ready to eat before bringing out the hot food. In the meantime I laid out individual bowls of yoghurt and fruit which I had kept in the fridge.

4. Attention to detail

It really is the little things that make the biggest differences. Small things like colour co-ordinated napkins to match the table placemats, lit tea lights dotted around the table and pretty crockery and tea sets are all little details which altogether make for an impressive show.

5. Remember to eat

This applies to all food parties you host. It can be so easy to get carried away in preparing the food and setting the table that you forget to eat the food yourself. Please don't do this! Enjoying the meal and the company you're with is probably the best part of hosting any food party.

***

Thank you for reading this post, I hope it has been useful!

Love from,

Iffa
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Friday, 29 July 2016

808s and Heartbreak


808s and Heartbreak was Kanye West's fourth album and marked his biggest departure from the usual style of his previous records. 808s was stripped down, electronic, sparse and mostly auto-tuned. Initially the album was poorly received, some critics describing it as 'laziness disguised as minimalism and vulnerability' (see here). But the album was still a number 1 Billboard hit, and later inspired and influenced the likes of The Weeknd, Frank Ocean and Drake.  

I can't really explain the correlation between a Kanye West album and a fashion blog, but lately I've been interested in people who take stylistic departures from their usual style. I wouldn't call this outfit anything near a 'stylistic departure', or that I am planning to embark on one, but I admire people who have the confidence to want to change, and actually go through with it. I'm trying to use this blog as a way to document all the little changes that I personally undergo until I can look back at the very first post, and then the most recent post, and feel that I too had an 808s and Heartbreak moment.
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Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Best Way to Deal with Negativity and Why


I wanted to share with you guys the reasons behind why I write diaries. It is a pastime which has always helped me in the way I think, self-reflect, block out negativity and maintain a positive outlook on life. I hope that by the end of this post I can also convince you to start writing your own diaries.

From a very young age I have always been keeping random journals and scrapbooks, but it was from the age of eleven that I decided to religiously start writing diaries. I would buy a big new journal for each year and would fill it with everything from poems written at 3am to train tickets and random flower petals pressed between pages. Back then I did it because it was fun (and because social media was a myth), but now looking back, I didn't realise that I was creating a timeline of how I matured and grew up. Reading through my old diaries now, I can see how my views developed, how my style of writing changed, alongside random little life events which I otherwise would never have remembered today. Since realising this, I have made it my aim to continue writing diaries, to document as many significant and insignificant personal thoughts and random train tickets to random places as I can. 

And I want to encourage you to do the same. Why?

1. You will get to know yourself better
Writing has always been seen as a classic form of self-expression. From eloquent poetry to random scribbles and drawings, it's fascinating how a simple pen and some time can paint a picture of your deepest thoughts. Keeping a diary is one of the best forms of self-expression because you can be completely honest with yourself, there is no pressure to censor your thoughts when you are writing for yourself.

When trying to explain this point to friends, I like to use social media as an example. Social media is great, but in essence, when you are updating a status or posting a tweet, you are doing it for other people to interact with and for other people to validate. But when writing a diary, you are doing it for yourself to read and look back on, it is a form of self validation. Trust me when I say you will be surprised at the things you write when you put yourself in an environment completely free from societal views and pressures. You will discover views you never knew you had, causes you never knew you cared about and things you never knew you loved.

There is no better way to understand and to know yourself than by allowing yourself the time and space to question and give space to the views you really hold. Socrates's famous adage to 'know thyself' springs to mind here; this form of self-reflection paves the road to long-established wisdom.

2. It's incredibly therapeutic
Sort of related to the first point, when writing a diary you have the opportunity to jot down absolutely anything pressing your mind. It's a way to give a voice to whatever you are keeping suppressed inside you. People let out their anger and stress in different ways, I prefer to 'make' something out of any negativity I am feeling, the end result being something I can look back on learn from (a positive). Developing this type of emotional intimacy where you can convert negativity into a form of positivity is incredibly useful when you're facing hard choices and want to make the best decisions.

Writing diaries is a way to control the intensity of your emotions because when writing, you are reducing activity in a part of your brain called amygdala (responsible for memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions). As a result, you will feel calmer, happier, and ultimately more content.

3. Something to look back on
We take pictures to remember memories for the future, similarly, we write poetry to capture our deepest thoughts and put together collages to collect our musings and aesthetics at the time. It is impossible for us to recreate a picture taken in the moment, just as it is impossible for us to fully experience again the emotions we were feeling at a particular moment, in a particular frame of mind.

When you start writing a diary, you will eventually build up a catalogue of all the things you would otherwise eventually forget. It is a pretty incredible feeling to be able to look back on something you wrote a few years ago, or even a few weeks ago, and to think 'I can't believe I went through that!'. It's a good feeling, it encourages you to keep going through whatever you are going through, and it helps you to appreciate the little details in life that otherwise go unnoticed.



Thank you for reading this post, I hope it has been useful!

Love from,

Iffa
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Sunday, 17 July 2016

Pink Bomber


Hello!

If you've been reading my blog for a long time then you're probably already familiar with the fact that I wear a lot of men's clothing. Not only is it significantly cheaper, but I just generally prefer the loose fitting and playing around with a slightly different structure to women's clothing. This is my brother's jacket (I hope you can't tell), but I tried to make it look more feminine by really focusing on enhancing the pink tones in the outfit. That being said, if I really wanted this outfit to look feminine, I would have swapped the Stan Smiths for heeled boots and ditched the backpack and stacked bracelets, but decided not to. Part of the fun of fashion is being able to mix and match totally contrasting styles and make something your own. And life's too short to be spending £55 on a Topshop bomber jacket anyway.

Love from,

Iffa
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