Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Christmas at Lotte's Kitchen

I don't want to boast - but I have a 7ft Pink Christmas Tree! There...I've said it!
All too exciting for words...

We have mince pies filled with my special Boozy Mincemeat ready for you to order and Curried Sausage rolls (my secret recipe...available now in my book!)by the hundredweight!

Not only do we serve delicious food here, we also sell quirky and original giftware and cookware - perfect pressies for Christmas. Lovely brands such as Disaster designs, Bombay Duck, Bath House and Fenella Smith pottery adorn our shelves and there is glitter and lights and pinkness throughout!

One of my favourite gifts is this gorgeous Bunny Rabbit nightlight - battery powered so it can be carried around at nightime - brilliant! I've sold so many of them and I keep having to re-order - because they are sweet (OK, perhaps a little kitsch!)and a perfect stocking filler!

Pop by when you have a chance - you won't have to fight with the hoards of other Christmas shoppers on the high street - At my cafe, you can browse slowly and enjoy cake and tea whilst you do!

See you soon!

Lotte's Kitchen,
2 Keens Lane,
OX39 4PF
01844 355985

Thursday, 28 July 2011


Ooh now, where do I start?
Do I commence with the trouble I had finding a place. Or do I begin with the little seed that was cast in my mind years ago at the tender age of twenty one, just before I got up the duff!
Yes, I think that’s a good a place as any.

In December 1987 I had just returned from Los Angeles where I had gone on a whim. I’d given up my job, rented out my flat in Oxford, sold my car and flown to this strange, gigantic city which at the time, scared the pants off me.

My friend Sandra picked me up in her convertible, accompanied by some bronzed, handsome and all American boys; who I instantly fell in love with. I was pale, probably a little flabby and not at all ready for what LA had in store for me.

I stayed with Sandra, I slept on the sofa at Nick and Greg’s, (two boys I’d worked in Oxford with and who were now chasing the LA movie dream.) the floor of somewhere else, the sofa of somewhere peculiar - in fact I stayed in many places!

I was earth quaked, burgled, mugged and scared 50% of the time on the streets and buses, but, and this is a huge but – LA shaped me, instilled in me an utter love of America and its people, and gave me more ideas to take back with me than my tiny English brain could cope with. In short, I grew up.

Over there I helped out in an American Diner – it was a new one, it was retro and it was glorious. The food, right up my street, the atmosphere, bonkers and I felt completely at home!
As I flew back home I decided that I was going to open up a Diner in Oxford. I wrote a business plan, filled it with everything I had learnt and seen in the States and popped it onto a shelf whilst I decided how I was going to finance it.

Now, my brain does have the habit of embracing tangents – I’m very happy to go off on one regularly – and as I celebrated my 21st birthday on the 19th December (only four days after getting back) I decided I was far too young to settle down and got the map out for Australia and New Zealand. This was to be my next port of call. All I had to do was save some money.
So I got a job – as a nanny.

Sandra came back to Oxford (where her mum lived) to be with her sister who was about to have a baby. January 14th 1988, I held the new born Gemma in my arms and wished I could have one. I was a little broody.
Be careful for what you wish for – January 14th 1989, I gave birth to my gorgeous daughter Daisy!
So, the land down under was put on hold, the Diner shelved and my life took a very different turn.
One I don’t regret for a minute, but one that changed my plans enormously. I grew up a just a little bit more!

So rolling on twenty years, a catering company, teaching in local adult education centres, a demonstration business, a house move, twelve years in television, my first cookery book, a glorious daughter grown up, educated and pretty bloody fabulous – I decided that I’d remove the Diner off the shelf, dust it down and take look at it again. The time was right.

That was two years ago.

I had a good think. I ate at and visited a few Diners, sat down with my lovely friend Jamie Heininck – interior designer extraordinaire – and drew up plans.
It worried me. The investment was going to be huge, and much, much more than I had in the bank.
I was asking myself a pretty important question too - Was this idea really what I’m all about nowadays?
Not particularly.

I’m a country bird with a huge love of our culinary history and a pretty good knowledge of it. I’m English – very – and surely it would make more sense to be true to myself and what I stand for.
Elements of the Diner could still be in my new place – perhaps as a Sunday all day brunch, with short and tall stack pancakes, hash browns, delicious waffles, eggs over easy and a Blue Plate Special – though perhaps that would have to be a Pink Plate special in my gaff!

It was decided, Lotte’s Kitchen was going to be a very English and very me.
Just like dropping my cottage into a new building. It would encompass everything I’d learnt over the last twenty five years; my experiences and travels.

I did it!

Lotte’s Kitchen has been open now for three months – it is more than just a cafe/tearoom. Yes, we have a delicious simple menu – scrumptious sandwiches, toasty toasties, delicious Pink Plate Specials and cakes that are decadent to a degree – but we also sell cookware and giftware – original and just a little bit quirky.
As Lotte's Kitchen has grown, so has another side to the business - we now bake and sell our cakes to order for weddings, christenings, anniversaries, birthdays – you name it. My Iced Fancies seduce innocent customers into a sugary, lustful state from which they take hours to recover!

The atmosphere is relaxed, informal and friendly. My staff are the most wonderful team - you'll always find a smile when you walk through the door.

We don’t have music blaring through speakers – this is an oasis from the real world, where no one is firing advertising at you, and you can ignore emails and telephone calls. Come over, sit on our pink sofas, drink the best coffee for miles around and smother yourself in cake.

Please click on the link below for a fabulous 360 degree view of Lotte's Kitchen


Lotte's Kitchen
2 Keens Lane,
OX39 4PF
01844 355985

Friday, 18 February 2011

Thame Food Festival September 24th 2011

Yes, I know it's ages away - but I just had to tell you some fabulous news. I've been asked to become Patron of Thame Food Festival and it really is a great honour.

I've lived in the area for thirty four years. In 1976, my parents and I moved from Pinner in Middlesex where I spent the first ten years of my life. We arrived with a dog, two cats and ex-battery hen, Matilda to the village of Great Haseley. My parents converted a barn at the top of Mill Lane and we quickly became part of village life. I was so lucky to grow up there - a great community with an extremely safe enviroment. On weekends and holidays, I spent my days in the fields making camps and fooling around with my friends and only came in to eat and sleep. We were safe and sound and I loved every minute of it. I wore wellies everyday until I was fourteen - when I discovered boys could be more fun!

We always shopped in Thame and over the years I've seen many changes. The high street has survived by remaining independant of many chains and I hope this lasts. In the last few years there has been an enormous food revolution around our small islands and Thame hasn't held back. We are so lucky to have many food shops, restaurants and cafes. I've filmed here a few times over the years at places including, The Farmer's Market, Aga Shop, What's Cooking and A Piece of Cake for ITV and the BBC and I've always been so proud to have known and been part of Thame for so long. It really is the most beautiful market town.

I've watched Thame Food Festival grow over the last three years and last year I was completely blown away by how much bigger, better and well supported it was. So many stalls selling delicious produce, great workshops, demonstrations and plenty to eat and drink, see and do. So when the committee asked me to become Patron of the festival, I took seconds to agree.

We aim to grow the festival and each year make it an even bigger success. We want to become the Abergavenny and Ludlow Festivals of the south east! In fact, we'll be better!

If anyone is interested in being an exhibitor this year or indeed want to be part of Thame Food Festival in some other way, then please get in touch with the organisers. They would love to hear from you.
Please have a look at the website and blog on the link below. It's full of wonderful pictures of last year and also has a great video - you may spot me on it! Although, forgive me, I was having a particularly bad hair day - I just didn't realise it until I saw the film!

Looking forward to seeing you there!
Lotte x


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

McLaney Burn's Night

Every year, always and without fail we celebrate Burn's night in the lane. It's an excuse to behave like children, drink far too much than is sensible and of course eat some delicious Haggis - among other delights.

And every Year, always and without fail we feel utterly appauling the next day - but I have to say it really is worth every aching head and interesting bruise (Crossing the lane in the dark, full of wine is a dangerous past time! Not for the faint hearted).
We are really very fond of each other, and a neighbourhood party on a freezing January night really cheers us up.

There is also a little bit of fund raising that goes on in the background too. Any money left over from the food and drink kitty is put to a good cause. Be it the children's village cricket club, football club, or the Twinnie's nursery. This year however, we decided to use the money to fund our own speeding campaign in the lane.
We are quite frankly sick of the eejits who treat our little lane as a rat run. Of the large lorries - way beyond the legal weight tonnage - who end up taking out trees, verges and my WING MIRROR in the lane by their over excited Sat Nav.
I am personally sick of the people who really don't give a monkeys about our children and older generation that use the lane to stroll to the school bus or shops. When asked to politely slow down, we are usually shown variations of the fingered salute or told to 'something' off! Nice.

A few weeks ago we got together and privately purchased some '20 mph' stickers for our wheelie bins. On rubbish day, we stuck them on and placed the bins outside our cottages. Oh, but we were proud. Little green soldiers, lined up on a mission. The red, white and black signs boldy directing the drivers to drive a little more carefully.

Did it work?
Not entirely sure - but our next stage of the plan will hopefully make more of an impact. Funded by the silly night on the tiles, our customised wooden signs will soon be placed in the verges, on the trees and in our front gardens.
We are planning our slogans, short and sweet at the moment. '20 is plenty', that sort of thing. Personally I favour 'Don't live here? Well don't drive down here!' but I'm wondering if this isn't a little unfriendly!

So, as with all of our previous Burn's nights, we eat a different course at a different house. This year, I started it all off with Fizz and nibbly things at mine. We moved to Caroline and Nick's for the starter, Phoebe and Dave's for the main, some of which was prepared by Robyn and Simon, and finally we fell through the door of Rob and Julia's - for pud... and cheese....and whisky.
A little later, we all fell through our own front doors and some of us actually made it up the stairs before falling asleep!

First and most importantly, the Burn's night cocktail - guaranteed to set the pace for the evening. This year, I sprinkled some edible glitter into a champagne flute, added some of my evil-home-made plum vodka and then filled what space was left in the glass with cheap pink fizz. Marvellous. And hic.

My nibbly things were nice and substantial - my version of that instant cheese fondue - the baked camembert. It was removed from it's packaging, placed back in the bottom of the box, wrapped in foil and cooked at Mk6 200c for 20-30 mins until all soft and floaty to the touch - when pressed, feels a little like a waterbed! While this was cooking, I sliced an onion and cooked it slowly in 1oz butter and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup until soft and caramalised. I then scooped the lid off the cheese and spooned the onions on top.... Scrumples.

I added some capers and tons of chopped parsley to my little garlic bread nibbles - a strange looking paninni bread I picked up at Waitrose a while ago. Found them in the bottom of my freezer and thought ... why not? The capers added an intense saltiness to the bread, which was dipped in garlic butter - not spread - so as to ensure a crispy and buttery nibble!

My third dish was a fennel seed spelt pancake, topped with creme fraiche mixed with diced beetroot and chives. This was then adorned with a slice or two of cooked smoked salmon, a little bit of beetroot and some gold edible glitter! Why glitter? Well because I can I suppose - and because I like it on....everything!

And so to the rest of the meal...please excuse the hazy photos - the lighting was softer and so was my grip on the camera... ( I blame the plum vodka)...

Delicious Cullen Skink care of Caroline...

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, with the supporting cast of the very wonderful underated curly kale with heaps of butter....care of Phoebe, Dave, Robyn and Simon...

Reading the 'Ode to the Haggis'.... badly.

Now, I don't have any pictures of our time at Rob and Julia's. Only one of the pud.

Two reasons. Number one - I was so in love with the Raspberry Roulade, I completely forgot to take any other photos. And number two? I fell asleep shortly after I ate it!