BACK TO BASICS - No excuses I am the world's worst blogger

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Hands up who is the world's most pathetic excuse for a blogger? Me! After nearly a year away and lots happening in my life I am going back to basics and doing what I love best, writing about nosh!

Since being away I now work a six day week but outweigh the bad with the good. I've acquired myself a rather gorgeous fiance and someone to share my love of food with for the rest of our lives....poor sod...

Thanks for sticking with me, now off to hunt out what new releases Amazon has to offer me! nom nom nom

FOOD FIND: La Cure Gourmande

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Having spent the past weekend at Disneyland Paris, I was as you can imagine, as excited as little child in a sweet shop. A sweet shop covered in sugar with lashings of golden syrup, treacle no doubt.

I wasn't however, as excited to be faced with the prospect of eating nothing but American food for the next few days. Don't get me wrong I love a good burger and fries, who doesn't, and if you say you don't, well then you're kidding yourselves. The thought of a weekend of burgers however did not fill me with such joy.

So my weekend drew to a close and myself my partner and his younger sister all packed our cases and headed back to Paris Orly Airport. It's an undeniable fact that airports are nothing but droll and mundane. I'd thought the same thought when landing at Orly only four days earlier. Oh how I was wrong, so wrong in fact when I discovered what can only be described as the best French sweet shop I have ever laid eyes / tantalised my tummy / stepped in (delete as which you feel most appropriate)
La Cure Gourmande is my latest recommendation for anyone making a trip to France in the coming weeks, or in fact near future. The sweets and pastries in this shop were something to behold. No euros would ever have been enough to settle my appetite but I settled on a delicious selection of Nougat.

Are you a Nougaaart or Nugget fan?

The individually wrapped squares of Nougat set me back 14 Euros. OK so I hasten to add this was a little extravagant of me but try as I might I simply couldn't resist. Apologies for the terrible quality of photograph of the box, which was, empty by itself exquisite. Unfortunately the photo doesn't portray the true beauty of the in season winter flavour, pistachio, citrus, rose and fig flavour squares, as it was taken in haste on my IPhone whilst settling down with a cup of tea to scoff a few squares with a cuppa but I'm sure you get the picture. I also happened to succumb to the delights of on the till purchases, and picked up a beautifully packaged cone of chocolate olives for my father as a tasty Christmas treat for 8 Euros.

If you haven't yet looked at the LCG website I urge you to, from one fellow foodie to the next, to give it a quick click now. Better still, in France? VISIT! You will not be disappointed

MADE IT: Bill Granger's Paella

Saturday, 20 November 2010

When you watch Bill Granger cooking live, you can't help but fall for his Aussie charm and the fact he always presents himself as a lovely genuine bloke. My mum, the woman who probably (no I lie this is more a fact) owns a million recipes and hundreds of cookbooks, maintains if she met Bill, she'd really like to have him as her mate. And that's the sort of food his cooking easy. Easy food, shared with family and friends to be appreciated and enjoyed. What's not to like?

I was feeling adventurous this week and considering I'd never made one before, well not from complete scratch I decided to make Bill's Paella, from his Everyday Cookbook. Bill never fails to come up trumps with great achievable recipes. If you're going to give this book a go, I can guarantee that you will love Bill's Sticky Chicken with probably the best Asian salad I think I've ever made at home. Its beyond worth a make!!!

Anyway back to my fiesta feast of Paella. I adapted the recipe slightly, to meet the needs of mine and my boyfriend's shall we say, healthy appetites? I added a chicken breast and bought 100g of mussels from Tesco to add a little more protein and flavour. Hand on heart, thanks to Bill, I never thought Paella would be this easy.

Everything I need and a few little extras!

What a veritable feast! This dish pretty much has all my favourite things in it so it was bound to be a winner. I tend to only use Napolina tinned tomatoes. Ok, probably just me being a food snob, but regardless of cost they really do taste better. Only substitute here was having to used smoked paprika instead of sweet. Oh well.

Crisping the chorizo and adding some chicken

I defy anyone who when preparing chorizo can't help but to slip a few slices in your mouth. Bad me I know but the aroma of spicy pork sausage can sometimes prove hard to resist. I browned and crisped the chorizo in what seems like a lot of oil, but the rice base soon soaks it up, so no sleep lost there.

Simmer simmer!

Few mins passed and I seperated my crisp chorizo and chicken mix; it pained me to stop eating bits of sausage! Shallots and garlic were fried together for a few mins, before adding all my delightful spices, the arborio rice (coat in the oil and juices mmm!) and then the chopped tomato and stock. Cover and stir occasionally letting the rice soak up all those lovely goodies in the pan.

A few minutes later...

Give it a few minutes and the pan looked like this, and slightly more promising in the paella stakes. Perfect colour and taste not bad too! Fling in the cooked chicken, chorizo, prawns and mussels, along with some green beans and another ten minutes covered on the hob.

I sense a fiesta coming on!

I gave it the occasional stir to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan; generally on a whole keep your eye on your grub, in the blink of an eye that last bit of sauce or moisture from a dish can vanish, and this lot would be hard to get down your screech without a bit of help from a nice tomato based paprikary sauce.


And there we have it! Not much too it but packed full of authentic Spanish flavour. The great thing about this dish, is you can change it to suit you. Don't like shellfish? Whip em out? Pescatarian? Chuck out the chicken and chorizo. Possibilities are endless but all in all a great weekday treat, all washed down  with a bottle of Dino Pinot Grigio; deeeeeeeeeeeeeelish

MADE IT: Pret a Manger Carrot Cake

Friday, 19 November 2010

I've got to think in my sheer moments of kindness I am actually quite a nice girlfriend. Having made Jamie Oliver's Sexy Swedish Buns from his latest book, and the outcome being well pretty flat and disasterous, I fobbed them off on my boyfriend to take into work. He works as a security guard in a nightclub and cinema complex, so many cold tiring nights and hey what hungry tired security worker wouldn't like some manky old bun to chew on at 3am?

The failed bun making at home turned into joy for my boyfriend's work mates, when I decided to pass off the flat bun explosions onto him to take into work (craftly sliced into soldiers....who would guess they evolved from disaster?) To my utter amazement, they loved them, god knows why, and have since gingerly requested more cakes from me every Friday, and with a compliment on my cooking I was swayed.

A request went in for carrot cake and I mooched about in my cookbooks, settling with Pret a Manger's Carrot Cake from Food on the Mood. Sadly from my little Amazon post to the left I can see it's pretty out of date this book and a massive $307!!! But let me assure you it was some good cake.

Hands held high I've never been the biggest fan of carrot cake. I've only ever had stodgey supermarket versions or was given it as one of my nan's very favourite cake stock ups from her kitchen, and something about it just didn't do it for me!

This cake was something else. As well as the obligatory carrot, this cake was packed with extras; coconut, pecans, pineapple, you name it and it was in there. God was this cake too good to be true?

Whisking the eggs until double volume

Various goodies for the mix!

Looking slightly sickly...

The un-iced baked cake


Friday, 12 November 2010

I doubt these are the only Posh Pricks one can find in a garden centre.....

MADE IT: Cook Yourself Thin Chicken Katsu Curry

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Isn't that a complete oxymoron I hear you cry? A HEALTHY curry? Well, in the interest of my wellbeing how could I refuse? I was sat catching up on Cook Yourself Thin on 4oD when I came across this saucy little number for Chicken Katsu Curry when Gizzi Erskine was tackling Zoe - the busy professional in the latest ep.

If someone were to at least mutter the word Curry at me I get excited, so I simply had to give this one a try. The low fat part? Instead of being deep fried in a crispy batter, each chicken breast is smothered in egg yolk, seasoned flour and cornflakes. Yes my friends. Cornflakes. As bizarro as it sounds it was bloody delicious; its got me thinking that maybe cornflake coatings for meat are the way forward!

Zoe, featured in the show along with this recipe, was addicted to her favourite curry which comprised of deep fried crispy chicken slathered in an archetypal takeout curry sauce. She ate it most lunchtimes, portioned with rice, eating at her desk. The curse of all offices, the deskside munching. Goddess Gizzi found a solution to Zoe's naughty nibble of choice and I decided to give it a whirl.

Chicken Katsu Curry

Easy and bloody delish. Ok, so the preparation for the sauce took some time and a little effort, but nothing a foodie can't handle! I served the dish with plain white rice and slapped a bit of Pak Choi on the side so I got my five a day. So there we have it, you literally can have your curry and eat it and boy does it taste every inch its full fat rival!


Friday, 29 October 2010

Following a nasty bout of illness I am back! Sadly a kidney infection had me bed bound and unable to cook for a good few weeks and subsequently VERY sad and not being able to make any creations. Fear not friends I am back with a few made it updates from before I was poorly to keep you entertained!

BEEN THERE: West Dean Chilli Fiesta - 6th August 2010

Sunday, 5 September 2010

This review comes at a very belated date and for that I am sorry West Dean Chilli Fiesta! This review comes with great thanks to my Dad for paying for me and the boyfriend to visit West Dean for their annual Chilli Fiesta at the beginning of August.

This was my second trip of scoff to the fiesta, having been a few years back with the rents. If you love all things spice then this is the event for you. Any seasoned foodie will know the good haunts to find various chilli products and condiments, so when shopping here, be savvy and know that the prices are hiked up for the event and with a bit of knowledge you can find many of the products in your local farmshops and delis near home. That and you will save your wallet a considerable amount of beating because hand on heart, you could probably buy one thing from each stall here.

Set in the picturesque grounds of West Dean college, the chilli fiesta comprises of local produce, specialist chilli products, plants, entertainment and more importantly a feast of food!

West Dean Chilli Fiesta - The grounds

A touch of spice was just what the doctor ordered on what was quite frankly a seriously dull and grey day, as you can no doubt see from the pics. After parking up we headed over to pay. The entry cost for two adults at £9.00 each didn't come cheap, but hey, it's the price you pay for a bit of heat! We headed in and started to mosey about at the various stalls. 
Fellow chilli lovers exploring the fiesta

The downside to the fiesta was that due to it being a Friday and pretty typical in the weather stakes, the event was slightly empty, well more empty then at a weekend, when the amount of visitors would get even the most cocooned chilli hater in a fiery mood. As I mentioned earlier, events like this are all about being savvy. Many stall holders were selling three jars of pickles, chutneys, jams or chill based sauces for ten pounds, and let's be fair, when does anyone need ten pounds of condiments at any one time? There are some true gems here, such as Edible Ornament Chillis, which were selling all varieties of rare and hard to find peppers at 6 for £2.

Edible Ornaments Chillis

I treated myself (I'm so outrageous and extravagent....) to £2 worth of sweet bell and jalepenos, after a suggestion from the stallholder that 30mins stuffed with soft cheese in the oven and these chillis would be a tasty delight. Burning delight morelike. Thirty minutes in the oven even stuffed with a cheese and chive filling I created and they were bordering on the realms of giving me and my boyfriend severe ring sting the next morning.
What was a true delight however, was when it came to lunchtime and us deciding what to eat. After about five undecided laps of the site we plummed for Carribean and our choice definitely didn't disappoint our buds.
 Clara's Carribean Kitchen
We plummed for Clara's Carribean Kitchen and its curried Mutton with Rice and Peas. It was authentic, traditional and bloody tasty. At a reasonable £6 we had a tray stuffed to the brim of mutton rice and salad.

MMMMMmmm.... Mutton Rice and Peas

We were actively encouraged by the stall staff to help ourselves to the various sauces on offer as well; obviously we happily obliged! My boyfriend couldn't get enough of the hot pepper sauce and for me it was all about the chilli mayo, I could have literally eaten a TUB! Find the sauces here

Other highlights of the fiesta include the nursery field where you can buy your very own chilli plants ready to take home and start cooking with. For me personally, it's a must visit part of the event. The variety of chillies on sale were ideal for any location and home, whether big or small. After some deliberation I decided to go for a pot of Medusa Chillies, partly because they looked really cool....ok that's a bit of chilli vanity coming through there for you.


All in all this event is fantastic if you love your life with a bit of spice and are searching for some hard to find chillies or just want some advice growing your own. The event is annual and well worth searching out if you are in the area. From fiery firecrackers to burning birdseyes, it's guarenteed you will find it here.

MADE IT: Pret A Manger Alfresco Chicken Salad

Thursday, 5 August 2010

When it comes to eating out food on the mood can be the ultimate godsend. From its humble beginnings as a simple array of bland sandwich fillings came salads, soups and sushi to tantalise even the most monotonous of office desks.

I, for one do not work in an office, but I will quite frankly have nothing stand in the way of me getting a morish lunch. When a string of late shifts at my part-time work as a shop sales advisor came up, I needed something delicious to get me through a 3pm til 10pm shift. Why people need to buy clothes and general merchandise until 10pm is a factor even after five and half years working in a shop I will never understand; however my mission for a tasty break time treat beckoned.

I found this little number in a £3 bargain find by Pret a Manger - Food on the Move.

So I'm not going to lie this salad took a bit of effort. To make the renouned Pret seasoning, used on all their signature salads and sarnies, various spices had to be fried, cooled and stored for shaking over your salady creations. Another set back? The mildly spiced yoghurt dressing for the chicken. Slightly longwinded and not really adding a huge deal to the salad, but a welcome little hint of warmth nonetheless.

Still all in all a hearty and filling salad, ticking all the right boxes with my favourite ingredients. A fitting make at home tribute to a shop bought favourite.

MADE IT: Bang Bang Chicken Salad

Monday, 2 August 2010

For some salads are a curse. A nasty diet requirement. Rabbit food. Tasteless. For me salads excite me to what some might think is an unhealthy level! So when it came to a tiring Friday afternoon and I wanted something light this salad got my tastebuds banging!

A big bowl of Asian salady delights

A simple Bang Bang chicken salad satisfied my buds and was nothing but easy to make. I found the recipe in a magazine or book. To be fair this house is laden with folders full of recipes, books, you name it any cuisine, any obscure ingredient and we would have a recipe for it.

 Bang Bang Chicken Salad

From what my foodie mind can recall the tasty dressing was a concotion of crunchy peanut butter, hot chilli sauce, garlic, soy and veg stock. All whisked together and drizzled over a crunchy mix of iceberg lettuce, raw carrot and a few bits of celery. Topped off with a sliced cold roasted chicken breast, this made a refreshing treat for a Friday evening.

The only downside? Always resourceful, I stored my excess salad for lunch at work the next day, transporting an individual Tupperware pot of dressing to drizzle over. Sadly the dressing doesn't refridgerate well, so unless you want a Peanut and chilli yoghurt to accompany your salad the next day, keep your dressing outside of your fridge!

EATING OUT: The White Swan, Swaythling, Southampton

Monday, 26 July 2010

I'm not going to deny it I am seriously skeptical when it comes to eating a roast out. Whether it's just because I have been lavished by amazing roast dinners by my parents when I was a  child I will never know but for some reason when I eat out, roasts just don't seem to cut the mustard.

My boyfriend's sisters birthday came around recently, and as she was busy the majority of the day with rehearsals on a Sunday daytime, he thought what better than a sunday at the pub with a carvery. At the time we were on holiday in Cornwall and mooted the idea for a fair few days whilst away, and then it came. The more I thought about carvery's the more I had an insatiable urge for one. Each night we went to bed and it came again, so when the Sunday arrived I was literally gagging for some roasties and slabs of meat with a slathering of gravy and sauces.

Living close to the pub we opted for The White Swan in Southampton, and despite the disappointing reviews I had read online about eating here, we ignored them and set off. This pub, is what we would call our 'local' so we visit here on a regular basis. We worried that seven of us would have to wait a while and linger until seated, but we were noted immediately and offered a high seated table or a twenty minute wait to sit in the crowded restaurant area. High seated table thanks! The boyfriend's younger sibling is slightly adverse to veg but opted for a delicious looking fish and chips kids meal. We were told when to order our carvery's in order to time it with her meal coming out. Top marks on service!


Meats on offer included Gammon, Beef and Turkey. Being the glutton I am I opted for all three, topped off with a generous yorkshire and stuffing and sausage trimmings. I had about 20 parsnips and a load of broc, but felt seriously let down by the roasties; I'm sorry but NOTHING comes close to my dad's. NOTHING.

Still mega good carvery and the reviews online proved to be total tripe. Looking at the photo above is making me want to go back for another now, and at a reasonable £8.99 for all day Sunday, I can see no reason why not to ;)


White Swan
Mansbridge Road, West End

Telephone :(02380) 473322

FOUND IT: Best Sandwiches in London - Valentinos, N1 OHQ

Thursday, 15 July 2010

I'm a sucker for a good sandwich. I came across sheer unadulterated sarnie heaven when I recently went up to London for the Graduate Jobs Fair. Alas, I found no jobs there, zilch, nada; nothing for a recently qualified Journalism graduate anyway. I was told by the media related stands I was over qualified for what they were offering and that they didn't have things 'suitable' in relation to my qualifications. 

I was utterly disheartened. I have applied for well over 200 odd jobs since graduating in November last year, and have never once been told the reason I can't get one is because 'you're too qualified' I felt slightly relieved that it wasn't just me. My fabulous bessie friend of 11 years, hugely brained, intelligent Chemistry extraordinaire from Oxford University, can't find a work either. It sickens me her intelligence is going unnoticed, so all in all we were pretty bummed by the whole trip.

But there are reasons why certain people are better friends to you than others. How someone can just know you and do something to lift your mood and lose your worries. So Emma, this one's for you. Gagging for grub, she pointed out a quaint sarnie bar across the road. So tottering over in our interview best, we entered ready made sandwich utopia. Every filling out? Salads, meats, dressings. THE-ABSOLUTE-WORKS.

Chicken, Bacon and Lettuce Roll. Hello lunchtime!

I made a decision in haste, and now can see I perhaps should have deliberated my deli decision more, but even a simple combination of Chicken Bacon and Lettuce came up trumps. Check out the size for starters! It set me back a measley £2.80 something? Bargain and not a salty ready made sarnie additive in sight!
When I was studying at University, I had to complete compulsory work experience. Living in sleepy Hampshire didn't offer much in relation to Journalism apart from the mundane local newspapers and free handout publications. So, searching for pastures greener, I commuted to London daily, to work at some of the countries top selling women's consumer glossies. Ok, so I'd be the first to admit it wasn't all glamour, and yes it was more Devil Wears than me wearing Prada, but I can vouch for one valuable skill I learnt; where to find the best delis, sandwich bars and eateries in the West End. There were numerous times I was sent out on a round. "Sophie can you please go across the road?" "Yeah sure" "I want one slice of wholemeal toast with marmite cut in half" "Ok...."

So in my time I'd been to some pretty good and pretty abysmal cafes, but this one topped them all, for sheer value for money and quality, not to mention gut busting sizes. I don't think I ate for at least three hours after this. A personal record.

345 Upper Street

TASTE IT: Lusty Pirate Cornish Pasty Flavour Crisps

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Sometimes some food creations just boggle your mind so much, however revolting they may sound you simply have to try them; for curiosity's sake if nothing else!

I remember, many moons ago a family trip to our favourite beach one hot summer, in which me my parents, my sister, my aunt, uncle and two of my cousins packed up our cars with our seaside essentials and spent the day basking in the sun. When it came to lunchtime we tucked in to a veritable feast of goodies, including Donut Flavoured Skips. Yes. Skips. The child delighting melt in the mouth prawn cocktail star shaped crisps. Weird and quite frankly horrifying as it sounds they did exist!

It just so happened that it was down to me reminiscing about vile flavour crisps when I was in Tesco Penzance and came across Lusty Pirate Cornish Pasty Flavour crisps. And so it began again.

 Ahoy there me hearties!

Yargh! Ok so with my pathetically lame sense of humour, I actually took great pleasure in  picking up a  bag of Lusty Pirate, although I don't know how lusty the hairy fella on  the front is! I couldn't resist and for the sake of 60 something pence and bringing a mildly interesting post to G&G readers I thought I'd give it a go!

To be fair nothing competes with the nastiness of donut flavour crisps and I'm pretty sure nothing ever will, but in my honest tastebud's opinions, these tasted like any other packet of steak and onion crisps. How someone would recreate the flavouring of pasty pastry on a crisp does nothing but baffle me. Ok, so this was an impulse foody buy, and would lose any enjoyment value if you could purchase it anywhere BUT Cornwall but sometimes food novelties can be fun. If for nothing but a giggle over a Lusty Pirate!

EATING OUT: The Bay Restaurant, Penzance, Cornwall

Sunday, 27 June 2010

When my annual summer hols came around this year, me and the man decided instead of living off a daily diet of pasties and cream teas, we would opt for a touch of sophistication and spend an evening wining and dining ourselves at a local eaterie.

Staying in the centre of Penzance in a quaint cottage, we chose to dine at a restaurant recommended by the company we booked our holiday abode with, and it most certainly did not disappoint. The Bay Restaurant in Penzance welcomed me and my partner with open arms to a modern gallery setting, with fantastic views overlooking the bay of Penzance and landmark St Michael's Mount. On a warm June afternoon the location and views proved in a word, stunning.

We were instantly greeted by a welcoming member of staff, who seated us in a lounge area just outside the restaurant and promptly brought us our drink orders, which we happily drank, admiring the local art displayed around us.

After five minutes enjoying our drinks and the beautiful surroundings, we were presented with the menus by the restaurant manager, who again was nothing but polite and helpful and took our orders, listening attentively to both our starter and main course choices. We were the seated to our table for the evening, again with fantastic service; our drinks carried for us by staff.

The fantastic service continued, and we were greeted again by a well presented and polite female member of the waiting team, who presented us with two choices of fresh bread, Onion or Pumpkin. Both of us plummed for Onion, and the fresh bread was moist and packed with flavour. My one reservation? A bigger slice would have been nice but that's only down to my sheer gluttony and love of food! My partner had spent a while musing over his starter and main, but eventually chose for Brocolli and Blue Cheese soup to start. After a few enthusiastic noises he assured me his soup was in two words "sooooooooooooo good" and devoured the bowl.

I opted for a light salad of Duck breast, accompanied by a salad of peach and strawberry with a honey mustard dressing. I am, in some situations, mildly fearful of fruit in salads not intended for dessert purposes, but this was a true delight.

Duck Breast with a salad of peach and strawberry in a honey and mustard dressing

This dish was nothing but sublime. I have to give top marks to the creator and chef of this dish, who used on trend shoots and leaves to create this salad. The warm duck breast was a treat, perfectly cooked and full of flavour. The texture of the peach complimented the delicate shoots and the light drizzle of dressing, which boosted not drowned the salad. A top choice on my part. I would have happily eaten seconds.

Moving onto mains, my boyfriend assured me that he wanted a filling and hearty main, and stuck with Honey roasted chump of lamb, caraway savoy cabbage and and apple fondant. He devoured the plate and had ample mashed potato left over; complimenting the chef on the large side vegetable portions. I, chose to experience something different, and due to the fact I would have loved to have sample a piece of each of the main courses on the menu, chose to eat the Vegetarian assiette; stuffed vine leaves, vegetable filo parcel, squash puree, pickled wild mushrooms with spinach, tempura aubergine with aioli [v].

Vegetarian assiette; stuffed vine leaves, vegetable filo parcel, squash puree, pickled wild mushrooms with spinach, tempura aubergine with aioli [v]
This was a true delight from start to finish. Admittedly it wasn't as hearty as my boyfriend's main but it tickled my tastebuds and delighted my culinary senses. The tempura aubergine had the perfect crisp outer coating and the pickled mushrooms where a real treat. Although a little small, each piece of this dish was well constructed and cleverly presented, more importantly extremely tasty. The presentation of the plate needs to be commended because if it went on looks alone this dish would already have been a winner.

With plenty of room left for dessert and the desperate need to indulge, (when on hols, of course!) we both finished our evening with a tasty chocolate fondant.

Chocolate Fondant with Liquer Reduction

The fondant can prove to be the bain of many chefs kitchens, but this one was worth the 15 minute wait as stated in the menu (time to freshly cook don't you know!) The outer was crisp and broke into the lovely chocolatey oozey centre any foodie looks for in the perfect fondant! The size was perfect to follow the two courses before and rounded off a perfect meal at a lovely restaurant.

All in all, what a night. The service was first class and faultless. The staff were polite, enthusiastic and knowledgable whilst maintaining high standards at all times. The food was contemporary, full of flavour and perfectly timed so we could thoroughly enjoy the beautiful surroundings and modern artworks around us. If you are visiting the West Country, be sure to visit this Cornish delight. 


The Bay Restaurant

Britons Hill
Penzance, Cornwall 
TR18 3AE

Telephone: 01736 366 890
Gallery 7 days in summer 11.30 to 5pm
Restaurant Sunday to Friday all year  12 to 1.30 Lunch, 2.30 to 5 cream teas, and 7 nights 6pm to 9.30 [last orders] Dinner

MADE IT: Jamie Oliver's Crunchy Salad - Jamie Does...

Friday, 18 June 2010

There is something about Jamie Oliver's cooking which makes me physically want to devour every cookbook before I've even attempted cooking anything from them. The food is simple, it's modern and is achievable! Hoorah a realistic cooking companion!

I was very lucky to celebrate mine and my boyfriend's anniversary this month, and being the fabulous individual he is, he treated me to Jamie's new release 'Jamie Does..' and believe you me this book DOES NOT (pun...yet again I am sorry) disappoint!

This new release from everyone's favourite Essex boy, sees Jamie journey around some of Europe's favourite destinations, stopping off to create some culinary delights on the way. For a flover, (food lover, new lingo, get in the know ;o) this book pretty much delivers on every level.

You've got the variation of the more adventurous recipes such as Confit Duck or Beetroot Gravadlax (drool) to the more easy simple snacks of topped bruschettas to speedy salads like this little number I tried out, Jamie's Simple Crunchy Salad!

 Jamie's salad came up trumps and was probably one of the easiest and quickest tasty salads that I've done for some time. Ok, so my fridge was pretty bare to say the least when I assembled this salad, but that's the beauty of Jamie's cooking; it's so easy even a cooking novice could create some of these dishes, and like me adapt to what you want in them. Definite winner!

NEW FOOD BUY: Cheese Cheese and Chilli Popcorn

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

I really can't resist treating myself to something foodie when I'm out. Whilst most 21 year olds would be spending any spare dosh on booze, I'm in my local garden centre's farm shop stocking up on tasty goodies!

My lastest bought on a whim produce consisted of the following: Y Fenni Cheese - a cheddar flavoured with grain mustard and real ale (drool), Chilli Red Leicester, Pain is Good Jalepeno Popcorn and a bulb of smoked garlic. An odd combo I'll give you that but I had to resist the urge to buy for the sake of my credit card's wellbeing.

L-R Y Fenni Cheese, Chilli Cheese, Pain is Good Jalepeno Popcorn and Smoked Garlic

I have to admit the thought of Jalapeno popcorn filled me with joy, but on this occasion I felt slightly let down. I left it for a few days resisting the urge to shovel down a whole packet. When I did eventually decide to open the pack and whack it in the microwave me and the boyfriend were looking forward to a bowl of spicy delights to munch on whislt watching a film.

  Tasty Treats!

Alas, all that greeted us was the faint taste of authentic chilli flavouring and an overwhelming smell of pungent cheese. Shame really was looking forward to this for a while. All in all a fairly good buy. Must stay out of local farm shop more often to avoid food related bankrupcy!


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

How do you feel about making Whoopie? No, not that kind! Whoopies are the latest food craze to hit the sweet market, soon overtaking the ever loved cupcake. Can it be so I hear you cry? Whoopie pies are a long standing Amish tradition originating from Maine and Pennslyvania, and a staple in any Amish lunchbox. So what's the deal? The 'pies' are created from two rounds of cakey substance, in the case of the traditional Amish pies, chocolate, and sandwiched together with a luciously rich chocolate butter icing. Sounds like sweet treat heaven.

As the Whoopie craze is relatively new over here in the UK, I was suprised to visit my local Marks and Spencer and see they were already bang on the food trend wagon and were stocking three varieties of the pies! In the interests of Gusto and Glee (naturally) I simply had to sample some of the latest IT cakes for myself. But what was my verdict?

The Marks and Spencer offerings came in at a reasonable £1.99. For the more adventurous of you, why not try investing in Sarah Billingsley's aptly titled 'Whoopie Pies' and making them for yourself?

 The pies were to me, what seemed a perfect size, but alas proved hugely sickly. It's probably just my British sensibility but a cup of tea is definitely needed to wash these bad boys down. If you like your cakey treats sweet and rich then these are for you. 

The sponge was light and almost resembled the great sim plicity of a child's chocolate chip  sponge fairycake; leading me to slightly reminisce about the good ol' cakes. As deceptively small as these pies look they pack a sugary punch, perhaps with a little too much rich chocolate buttercream icing. I know, it almost pains me to write that; that I'm professing to the world that an inch thick of milk chocolate buttercream icing is bad....

If you are tiring of over decorated cupcakes and meringuey macaroons aren't floating your teatime treat boat then make whoopie and get your hand on some pies!

WATCH IT: Julie and Julia

When it comes to cooking sometimes a tv programme just doesn't cut the mustard (sorry, pun intended!) I've been a Nora Ephron addict for years, and Julie and Julia is no exception. Based on two true stories this film is centred around two women and their two loves of all things food.

Centred on Julie Powell, a woman disgruntled with her day to day depressing job whose brainchild (sorry again, intended pun) is to create a blog, recording her plight cooking all 524 recipes from renowned chef Julia Child's cookbook in a single year.

Everything about this film is joyous. Whether you are watching Julia Child and her husband Paul eat their way around France or Julie Powell struggling with the Lobster Thermidor you can't help but fall in love with their stories and their united passion for cooking.

The story follows two stories, flicking from Julia's muched loved days in Paris, learnt cooking and creating her cookbooks, and Julie's desperation to find a purpose in life and her career, by doing the only thing she knows best, to cook.  It's hard not find a soft foodie spot in your heart for the characters portrayed by Amy Adams and the irrepressible Meryl Streep, who as Child is nothing but faultless. You'll find yourself in utter buttery coated food heaven with this ones my friends!

The best part of this update? I picked up a copy of the DVD with Julia Child cookbook for the bargainous price of £7 in Tesco. A steal. Not only do I own a heartwarming story that tantalises my tastebuds and makes me, let's face it, downright ravenous, I now am the proud owner of 30 of Julia's best recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. (available in full hardback version, see right) Hoorah! Now I get my chance to perfect the art of Boeuf Bourguignon et La Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin. Bliss!

If you're like me and you love your grub and nothing more than a film with a happy ending then this will be right up your cooking street. If you want to find out more about the film then check out the trailer below. Guaranteed winner!!

WATCH IT: Cook Yourself Thin

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Hoorah! Now we can have our cake and eat it courteousy of Gizzi Erskine! Cook Yourself Thin returns for a new series this coming Monday on Channel 4 at 2.55pm and I personally can't wait. Sure dieting is trying but not trying to be tasty enough. The solution?? Gizzi and her tasty recipes. Cakes on a diet? Yes you can my friend!

Gizzi is best known for her role as one of the presenters on the original CYT series for Channel 4, and a prominent face on Sky One's Taste. She takes the reigns on her own for the new series to bring us the latest way to diet. We can't wait to sample some of the tasty treats promised for us in this new series.

Chicken Tikka? Skinny Chow Mein and Sticky Toffee pudding? Gizzi is bang on the money with this one. What's better is some of the recipes are available now at Channel 4 so why not get a head start with your guilt free cooking?

If you're from the rare breed of individual who can munch without guilt, then why not treat yourself to Gizzi's Kitchen Magic, (right) a book of pure delight from the kitchen's most glamorous cook!

EATING OUT: Banana Wharf, Ocean Village, Southampton

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

 A glorious summer evening, eating fine food and glugging fine wine and gin and tonics by the marina. Surely a recipe for dining heaven? This month's latest eating out experience was provided by Banana Wharf in Ocean Village Southampton. For those of you who have not visited the South of England's most famous port, have missed the beautiful scenery that the lucrative Ocean Village has to boost, not to mention numerous boats, luxury yachts and to-die-for penthouse apartments (I can dream)

For a special treat, me and the man decided to head out for a meal; him paying, I am the luckiest girl alive :) Just to play on the safe side, we booked a table for the two of us on Bank Holiday Monday and planned an early eat out at 6.30pm to take our time and appreciate the lovely sunset and take in the scenery.

On arrival we were greeted fairly quickly. It seemed pretty promising and we were escorted to a TFT (table for two) We walked past numerous tables all enticing, but where ushered to a table shoved against a window next to a middle of the dining area till point; instead of sitting opposite to each other and gazing lovingly into each others eyes, I sat facing forward and my boyfriend to my immediate right hand side of a square table. Loss in brownie points front of house. 

I had lived under the assumption that due to the prices of Banana Wharf that it was a high end fine eating establishment but in reality it lends its cuisine to just good pub food. We plummed to order a starter and selected the Banana Wharf combo (£15.95)

Selection of chicken wings, crispy calamari, whitebait,breaded mushrooms & tandoori chicken skewers, Served with a selection of dips

I was a tad disappointed at not being told what the two dips actually were by waiting staff  (probably just my picky tendancies however it is rather nice when waiting staff know their stuff), but the order arrived at almost record speeds of about ten minutes, commendable as we were both starving. The whitebait was crisp as were the mushrooms which without the usually associated garlic mushroom flavouring were compensated by a tasty garlic mayo and raita. The chicken skewers delivered generously on portion size but seemed to hint more to an Asian five spice flavouring rather than true tandoori. As a non-lover of any seafood accompanied by suckers, I stuck to eating the calamari rings which were complimented by the dips with my boyfriend assuring me that the baby squid were very nice. After a few pickings and plate clearings we easily polished off the sharing platter easily, and overall yeah pretty enjoyable, but how can you get deep fried veggies and seafood with mayo based dips wrong?

We ordered our mains in simultaneous time to our starters but were still overwhelmed to have our mains delivered only eight minutes or so after our starter. My man opted for a Green Thai curry described as a spicy curry sauce made with green chillis, coriander, coconut milk & Asian style vegetables and served with coconut rice. He chose to have added chicken breast, which came at a cost, bumping the price to £11.50 from £8.95. He had been anticipating its arrival since ordering but felt like he was left wanting more and failed to finish his dish. I however being the true glutton that I am, settled for Surf & Turf. Adding to the fillet steak were 4 King prawns in garlic butter (at a premium!! of £8.95 extra)

8oz chargrilled fillet steak £20.95, Served with chunky chips, grilled beef,
tomato & mushrooms
How can the above not be delicious. I must take a moment now to publicly declare my undying love and devotion to my boyfriend for being so kind hearted and loving into treating me to such a massive (in all terms of the word) dinner!! Luckily we had a Delicious Dining voucher (if you live in Hampshire it's well worth giving them a look here for discounts at local eateries) giving us an ample amount off our bill  but even so boyfriend brownie points fully deserved!

Sad thing was I was still full from my starter and the little time I was given to digest the first course that I didn't nay, physically couldn't finish all this food. CRYING SHAME. Due to the sheer cost and fullness we opted to skip dessert and head home. All in all our whole eating experience with Banana Wharf was so unbelievably quick we were out of the restaurant bill paid less than an hour of being there; almost giving a whole new definition to fast food.

Overall an enjoyable yet highly expensive treat, but the rushed nature of our visit meant that we weren't given the time to admire the beautiful marina setting whilst thoroughly enjoying our meal at the relaxed pace you expect when eating a fine meal. Although polite and efficient, I felt something was missing from the dining experience which could have been provided by the staff if their service had just eeked out a little further than just a polite hello and taking an order. A mild level of interest in what we have ordered or a small amount of interaction with the customer would bring the service to a top level.


Banana Wharf Ocean Village
Ocean Village,
SO14 3JF

Telephone: (0)23 8033 8866
Opening Hours
Monday to Sunday: 0830 - Close

SNACK ATTACK: Marks and Spencer Salad Wraps

Thursday, 27 May 2010

You know the feeling. Mid afternoon comes and the hunger pains strike. Tempting as it may seem to scoff a chocolate bar or that sneaky packet of crisps those nasty blighters are rammed full of calories and hidden fats. My new favourite snack? Marks and Spencer Salad Wraps.

Tasty and only 30-50 Calories a pack? Definite winner.

These little wraps knock up a measley 30 - 50 calories a pack! A definite winner in my book. My personal favourites are the Sweet Chilli Prawn Wraps & Mango Salad Wraps.

 Guilt free snacking at its best

 These refreshing wraps are packed full of flavour and come with their own accompanying dip; the sweet chilli has a punchy kick! The perfect guilt free treat for a hot summer day!

FOOD MUST HAVE: Cakewich Sandwich Cake Mould

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

 Isn't it great when food and stupidity mix? My new food love, not that this is entirely practical, is the Cakewich mould. If you've mastered the basics of birthday cakes and royal icing, give this one a whirl. Ok so Perpetual Kid stocks some truely ridiculous stuff, but the food related comic items are great gift ideas that stimulates your inner silliness! We likey!

Check out the mould here -> CAKEWICH SANDWICH CAKE MOLD

FAVOURITE READ: Mexican Food Made Simple - Thomasina Miers

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Here's what my nose is stuck right in at the minute. I'm a great lover of Mexican food and I’d wasted too many restless nights dreaming of owning my very own Mexican bible and low and behold, here it is!

My culinary prayers were answered this month with the release of Thomasina Miers’ ‘Mexican Food Made Simple’ waltzed onto my bookshelf.

Since purchasing this title from the new godess of Mexican eating I've tested a few of the recipes and hand on heart can assure you they don't disappoint. I've mastered the art of dry roasting for my salsas and now know how to make THE best guacamole; no comparison with the nasty shop bought alternatives. The night when my mexican medley was served was a night of happy eating from me and my boyfriend. Nothing quite beats the satisfaction of fresh tasting mexican flavours, made at home. The time has come my friends.

This book is pure cooking magic. Far from greasy Tex-Mex alternatives, this book goes back to traditional Mexican roots, compiling of refreshing soups and in season alternatives to firm favourites such as burritos and the sometimes troublesome to make tacos. Love your tortilla chips? Fear not as Tommi Miers has got it covered, with recipes ranging from traditional tomato salsa to some more adventurous alternatives. If that sounds too hot to handle then wash it down with a thirst quenching margarita or a baked cheesecake featured in the final chapters of this book. This quite simply is a must buy and to be frank a real investment.


You can pretty much rest assured that when it comes to Come Dine With Me, it's all about the Marmite. You either love it or hate it. My poor boyfriend, is definitely on the hate team, and I take it publicly now to apologise to him for the copious amounts of time I have made him watch it on a weekday afternoon. For that, I am truely sorry.

But try as I might to resist it, I truely can't. I don't know what it is, maybe the fact that people around the UK generally can't cook and on the whole serve up some pretty disgusting looking stuff, or perhaps the downright audacity of some of the contestants. Who knows. I really can't get enough of it and sometimes, yeah I'm sort of ashamed to say it.

If you're feeling in a party frame 'o mind and have four friends, all of mildly irritating personalities, Come Dine With Me has released the ultimate guide to dinner party perfection, available to buy now. Feeling more adventurous? Why not apply, Channel 4 are always looking for new contestants. So if you can't cook, have an extrovert personality and fit in to any of the following: camp, middle aged female, businessman, young blonde, quirky indie types then applications are being taken.

Anyway because I'm feeling generous here's of my favourite eps, with 'The One and Only Linda Lennon, and quirky John, not to mention Leeds' very own answer to Elton John! . Sadly I couldn't find my ultimate fave, Series 1, Episode 3 from 2005 featuring the quite frankly legendary Vera, who made raspberry coulis by "Ya mix a bit of raspberry jam wit' bit'a hot water'" You couldn't make it up.

NEW FOOD LOVE - Marks and Spencer Food to Go - Raspberry Panna Cotta

Monday, 24 May 2010

Here's today's new food love. Retail giant and renowned food favourite Marks and Spencer have today announced via their Facebook page (very 21st century M&S, kudos!) the launch of their new and improved Food to Go range.

Our must try? Mini Sublime Raspberry Panna Cottas complete with mini spoon!! Perfect for on the go fine eating. This dessert, one of the world's most elegant custards deriving from Italy is a crowd pleaser at any foodie circle, and makes a welcome change to the mundane chocolate bars and sweet alternatives found on the desks of Britain.

I'll be sure to be buying one of these on my next visit to my local M&S!

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