Monthly Archives: October 2009

Bloggers Lunch at Pizza Express

Starter

A few weeks ago, Margaret (from Kitchen Delights) and I, were invited by We are Social to sample Pizza Express’s new Leggera range of starters, pizzas and deserts. The Leggera range is the lighter option of their menu featuring a pizza with hole in the middle that is filled back up with salad and options for starters and dessert. The dishes are designed to be around 500 calories and are low in saturated fat. We went to the restaurant, in Brindleyplace in Birmingham.

Margaret and I both had the same starter. We chose the ‘Crostini al Pomodoro’, which is ciabatta bread topped with tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil, garlic and oregano. It was served on rocket with shavings of grana padano and balsamic syrup. We both enjoyed our starter but I found my ciabatta to be very crisp and at one point, when I tried to cut it, it flew across the table. It was quite embarrassing! Otherwise, apart from that, it was a great start to our meal.

Main

We decided to have different pizzas for our main. Margaret had ‘Margherita Leggera’ that had mozzarella with tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil, garlic and oregano, topped with basil leaves on it. I had ‘Gustosa’, which had prosciutto, mozzarella and slices of Portobello mushroom with yellow peppers and thyme on it. We both agreed that pizzas were lovely, full of flavour and fresh tasting. Our only complaint was the limp appearance of the rocket salad in the middle of pizza. It just needed to be refreshed in water or something to make the whole appearance of the dish look better. I did however think it was the best pizza I have ever tasted at a pizza restaurant of any description and I will be having it again.

Desert

For dessert, Margaret stuck with the Leggera range and had ‘Sotto Zero’, which is two scoops of low fat natural frozen yoghurt topped with blackcurrants in syrup with a dark chocolate straw. I moved away from the Leggera range and had ‘Lemon Gelato’ that is lemon ice cream and it was served with a dark chocolate straw as well. The service was excellent and the waiting staff were really nice and friendly.

I would to thank We are Social for inviting Margaret and I to sample the Leggera range and I would like to say a very big thank you to Margaret as well as we had a fantastic time and talked non-stop for nearly 3 hours. It was a great day out and I would like to do it again soon.

I will be back sometime next week with tales of biggest baking challenge yet.

Happy Cooking! :-)

Farewell to Floyd

Garlic and Coriander Chicken

Some of you may have noticed that when the great culinary legend, Keith Floyd passed on a few weeks ago, that I made no mention of it on this blog. The reason I did not at the time is because I had spotted this bloggers competition on the UK Food Bloggers Association to cook one of Floyd’s dishes, an adapted version of one of Floyd’s recipes or to create your own inspired by him. The competition is the idea of James Brewer of Back to the Chopping Board, a fantastic new blog and Julia Parsons, of the well known A Slice of Cherry Pie blog and the creator of the UKFBA.

Keith Floyd was a legend in my mind. I remember watching his shows as a child and wanting to travel around the world and cook. I unfortunately do not travel around the world much at the moment, but I am, hoping that will change in future. However I do cook. Ocassionally, with a glass of red wine in my hand too!

David Pritchard, the producer who discovered him and brought us all his shows was helped by Keith into bringing Rick Stein to our TV screens. Another culinary genius, in my opinion. Therefore, I think we need thank David for bringing us both Keith and Rick as they are an inspiration to many and have helped to change the face of british food over the last 20 years.

My tribute dish to Keith Floyd is his Garlic and Coriander Chicken, which comes from the Floyds’s Great Curries cookbook. I slightly adapted the recipe by using ready ground spices (they were already open) and reducing the quantities for 2 people. Also, I was ill at the time of cooking it so was limited to my local shop, which sells no fresh coriander.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp of corainder, cumin and chilli powder
  • 3 tsp veg oil
  • Yoghurt and mint dip and salad to serve

Method

  • Put garlic and salt in pestle mortar and crush.
  • Add other ingredients and mix into a paste.
  • Rub over chicken and leave to marinate for 2 hours.
  • Cook in oven for 20-25 minutes at 190°c
  • Serve with yoghurt and mint dip and salad with a glass of red wine to toast Keith. Enjoy!

That’s all for today folks. I will be back hopefully at the weekend with review of a meal I had recently at Pizza Express.

Happy Cooking! :-)

An Interesting Week!

First, of all I would like to apologise for the tardiness of my blog post. I said on my last post that I would be back last weekend, not this weekend. This post is going to be a bit unusual as I need to tie up a few loose ends so that my normal blogging schedule can resume.   To begin, I would like to tell you about my crazy week this week so that you may understand why my blogging is haphazard at the moment.  It is one of many crazy weeks that I am currently experiencing but is an extreme example . Then, I would tell you about a couple foodie treats that I found in a recent work trip to Scotland, followed by a recipe and finally,  I would like to  discuss the new Virgin1 cookery entertainment programme called ‘Restaurant in Our Living Room’.

My Week!

Last weekend was spent baking a large cake for a 3 year old’s birthday party (future post on the blog), attending the birthday party and going a few beers afterwards. Then I decorated and mowed the lawns at my parent’s rental property before coming home to get ready for my work trip on Monday.

Monday and Tuesday was spent on a work field trip with first year archaeology students in Monmouthshire, Wales visiting archaeological and historical sites. We spent Monday night staying in a reconstructed Iron Age Roundhouse sleeping on hay bales. Sleep was only achieved by drinking local ale and mulled wine!

Me outside the Roundhouse

Wednesday was spent doing half a day at work (I had a lie in to recover from Monday and Tuesday), popping to Tesco and visiting my in – laws.

Thursday started as a normal day but as I pulled onto the car park at work, my power steering pump broke and I had to call the AA. This resulted in me and my car having to be towed home at the end of my day at work. I was very late back and very tired after all the additional stress the day had created. To make matters worse, I am getting a brand new Ford Fiesta on the scrappage scheme in 5 weeks, so my car only had to last until then. The pump is to expensive to replace so it looks like it is the train for the next few weeks!

Friday started off bright and early as I had to get the train to work. I got to work ok but did not feel 100%. I carried on for a couple of hours but didn’t feel any better so I came home, went to bed and caught up on cookery programmes on the Sky +.

Today, I feel a bit better. However, this post is being brought to you by the power of Lemsip Cold and Flu capsules.

Scotland

A few weeks ago, I spent a week in Scotland in the Cairngorm Mountains on a field trip with students. I would tell you about a couple of foodie treats I discovered while I was there. No pictures, I am afraid. It was a work, not a foodie trip.

  1. Mountain Café, Aviemore – This café serves excellent coffee, freshly made home-made cakes and lovely food in general. It was one of the highlights of the trip and I recommend that you go and experience it for yourself.
  2. Clootie Dumpling – which is quite similar to a Christmas Pudding but has slightly more cinnamon and nutmeg in it. In the Cairngorms, the place to get it is at the Speyside Heather Centre where they sell it 21 different ways! (there are lots of red squirrels near by too)

A Recipe: Apple and Damson Traybake

A few weeks ago, I discovered that I had lots of apple and damsons in the fridge. They needed to be cooked with as soon as possible as they had been sat there waiting for me to do something with then for a while. I saw this recipe in the Tesco Magazine and decided to adapt it.

Apple and Damson Traybake

Ingredients

* 100g (3½oz) softened butter

* 175g (6oz) self-raising flour

* 1tsp baking powder

* 175g (6oz) demerara sugar

* 2 eggs

* 1 lemon rind

* 2 apples, diced

* 20 or so damsons, stone removed and chopped.

Method

* Preheat the oven to Gas 5, 190°C, fan170°C. Line a shallow 20cm (8in) square cake tin with baking parchment.

* Place all the ingredients, except the apples and damsons, into a large mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.

* Stir in the apples and damsons and spread into the tin. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and the centre is firm to touch.

* Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out and allowing to cool completely. Cut into squares. Keeps for three days. Enjoy!

Restaurant in Our Living Room

Restaurant in Our Living Room

You may have noticed that a new cookery entertainment show has appeared on our screens in the last couple of weeks. The show is called ‘Restaurant in Our Living Room’ and it is about couples competing against each other to run a restaurant for one night in their living room. It is shown on Thursday nights at 9pm on Virgin 1. The show has caused a lot of debate and discussion in the foodie world – see for example MsMarmiteLover’s article in the Guardian a week or so ago. I am not going to enter this debate, I think you should all make up your own minds as to whether you like the show or not. I think it is like ‘Come Dine with Me‘ on steroids!

I have been asked by Holler to tell you about the map community that has been created as part of the project, but run totally aside from the TV show to allow food lovers to get involved with the ‘pop-up’ restaurant trend themselves. The map offers a way for existing or prospective restaurateurs /diners/ produce sellers to get in touch with each other and discover what is available in their area. This is also a great way for vegetable gardeners, allotment owners, jam makers, beekeepers and so forth to let people in their area know they have stock for sale, and generally for such services to use the site to promote themselves for free. I think this is great idea, however I was slightly disappointed by the lack of people in my area so please join and help make this a success for everyone.

To get involved the website is here.

You can also join the Facebook group here.

That’s all for now folks. I will be back as soon as I can with another post.

Happy Cooking! :-)


Down on the Cyder Farm!

Good afternoon all. This post is my final post about Cornwall and it will mostly be about my trip to Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm. I will also be giving you a few more foodie places that I recommend that you go to in Cornwall.  Anyway, back to trip to Cornish Cyder Farm (by the way, I am not spelling ‘cider’ wrong, ‘cyder’ is the Cornish way of spelling it) We went to the Cyder Farm on the last day of our trip to Cornwall. It was a lovely sunny day and although it is free to go into the farm, you have to pay £6 per adult to see the apple orchards on a tractor tour and have a guided tour of the factory and museum.  We paid and had a 2o minutes wait until the first tour was due to start so we went  straight for the free sample tasting. Stuart and I tried all the cyders but our favourites was the Cornish Rattler and Healey’s Classic Cyder. I also tried Healey’s Cyder Apple Brandy which retails for£75 per bottle. (See picture above) However, you can pay £3 per sample to try it and I did. It was lovely but quite strong for 11:30am on a Tuesday morning! I spoke to  one of the members of staff who told me, they are planning to sell the brandy in a smaller and cheaper bottles soon.  We had lunch at the café on the farm. I had Healey’s apple juice and scones served with home-made raspberry and apple jam, with clotted cream. It was yummy! Stuart had a Cornish Pasty which he liked quite a lot as well. We to shop after this and purchased a few bottles of cyder to take home for presents and one for ourselves of course!

Our trip to the cyder farm was an excellent way to end our short holiday in Cornwall and I would like to recommend them for your next visit to Cornwall, along with few other places below:

  • Halzephron Herb Farm which sells wonderful sauces, chutneys, dips and all sorts of other stuff. It has lots of free samples of its products so you can try before you buy. It is well worth a visit.
  • Fore St Deli –  which has such a fantastic display of fruit and veg, I am inspired to start cooking before I even enter the shop.
  • Trevaskis Farm - which I have never visited. It was recommended to me by Mapperz (his blog is here) who unfortunately gave me the recommendation as I was coming home from Cornwall so it is on my list for the next time I visit. Please visit it and tell me what it is like.
  • The Harbour Deli (The Wharf, St Ives TR26 1LG) – which is relatively new opening in St Ives and has no website, as far as I can tell but one thing it does do, is sell ready meals from The Cook Kitchen. This is a company which specialises in ready meals which actually taste good and are made by real people! (the person who made it name is on each meal) We brought a few and took them home with us and we are very happy with them. I am going to order some more on-line as they are good quick dinner when you are busy.
  • Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall Restaurant - I have visited here twice and had a great meal each time. You must try the tasting menu with wine. It is the best and with great views of Watergate Bay,  it is the best restaurant I have ever been too!
  • Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip Shop – Not the cheapest fish and chip in the world, but it does excellent fish which you can have cooked any way you like. It does the best chip shop curry sauce that I have ever tasted. I have never been to any of restaurants so I cannot comment but if you have been, please let me know what you thought.

That’s all for today. I will be back again over the weekend with a brief post about my trip to Scotland and  my first recipe in a few weeks. Until then,

Happy Cooking! :-D

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