Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Pirlos Dessert Lounge Review

Restaurants specialising in desserts seem to be popping everywhere at the moment, they seem to be the latest trends in the food world. Believe it or not, I have not visited a dessert restaurant before and a few years ago, this notion of a restaurant dedicated to solely desserts, puddings and naughty treats would be unthinkable. There's quite a few dessert places around at the moment and a recent addition to Birmingham city is Pirlo's in Digbeth. My cousin and I visited on a Saturday lunchtime to replace the usual sandwich with a waffle, ice-cream or brownies. The restaurant is relatively large with a combination of sofa style seating area. There is a large counter with ice-creams and desserts on offer. We were seated and quickly presented the menu. 

To kick things off, we ordered a milkshake, mine was an oreo and my cousins was a strawberry milkshake. I was pleasantly surprised that my oreo milkshake (£3.95) contained large chunks of oreo, lashings of creamy and ice-cream and chocolate. Wonderful. My cousins strawberry milkshake (£3.95) was rich and creamy and had a burst of strawberries. 

For the main event, my cousin and I ordered waffles. I chose the Pirlo's Super Special, containing Ferreo Rocher, Strawberries, Bananas and two scoops of ice-cream, I chose vanilla and chocolate (£6.95). My cousin ordered the Create Your Own (£8.95) choosing Strawberries, Banana, Nutella Sauce and Strawberry ice-cream. I thought the waffles would be similar to how I make waffles at home using my waffle maker, how wrong was I. The Waffles were huge, something out of Man vs Food. Presented beautifully, the waffles was decorated with the topping and large scoops of ice cream. I dived straight in. Light fluffy, crispy and chewy waffles with a selection of sweet toppings. I think if I were to visit again, I would share one waffle between two people as I ended up taking half back with me (but I suppose that's not a bad thing as you have dessert for the following day). 

I visited in the early afternoon and we were initially the only customers there, I would have like more of an atmosphere. My cousin assured me though that most people visit dessert lounges in the even. If that's the case I now know where I will be heading for dessert after a meal out.

Positives: Delicious desserts, great location and large portion sizes 
Negatives: As stated, I would have liked more of an atmosphere.

Disclaimer: I attended Pirlos as a guest, as always all opinions are my own. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Fluffy Mango Pancakes

June, July and August are the best months to sample mangoes. They are much cheaper this year and with many exotic fruits more accessible in the Summer months, this is the best time to sample fruits from around the world. I love mangoes, they are very versatile and are great in both savour and sweet dishes. For many years, I ate mangoes the Caribbean way which is to peel the skin and eat the flesh without slicing. It was a messy affair and I'm trying to be more adventurous in using mangoes. As I'm eating more fruits in savoury dishes, I've developed a craving for plump mangoes. 
Near where I live there are stalls at my local market which sells a bowl of mangoes for a £1. Not wanting to waste several mangoes, I went ahead and made some mango jam. If you can't get your hands on mangoes, make pineapple jam or papaya jam. Just make some exotic jam. The heaped tablespoons of jam is a tropical burst in an otherwise ordinarily plain American pancakes. 

You will need a frying pan and mixing bowls
3 eggs
200ml semi-skimmed milk
3 tablespoons of mango jam
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
225 g self raising flour
pinch of baking powder
3 tablespoon vegetable oil

Summer Berries
Salted Caramel 
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, mango jam and demerara sugar. In a separate bowl, mix the self-raising flour and baking powder, make a well in the middle. Pour the milk-egg mixture into the well and whisk until you have a smooth batter.

Pour the oil in the frying pan and using a soup ladle add the batter to the frying pan. When bubbles begin to form flip over and the underneath pancakes is a golden brown colour, flip over. This may take between 1 – 1.30 minutes.  Transfer using a slotted spoon and place the cooked pancakes on a plate with kitchen paper. Top the pancakes with Summer berries and salted caramel.


Tuesday, 21 June 2016


On my most recent trip to Italy, I did not get to sample the rustic Italian salad of Panzanella. I would have loved nothing more to sample panzanella, cooked lovingly by Italian nonna's and overlooking a beautiful scenic view. I first made this rustic salad way back in 2011 when I was just starting out my  cookery book collection and sampling new cuisines and flavours. Gosh, I feel old. Tomatoes are in season and if you head to your local market you can pick up some good fresh and succulent tomatoes.  One of my favourite salad cookbooks (yes I have a small collection of salad cookery books) is a Salad For All Seasons by Harry Eastwood. Whilst this panzanella is not unique (loads of Italians would have their own version and this is a salad covered by many well known chefs), I really like this version. Easy to make, lots of flavour and nothing too complicated. If you want to make this veggie, omit the capers, but keep them in, if you do like me which is to serve with a piece of chicken. Perfect for Summer nights.

Serves 6
1.5 kg ripe tomatoes on the vine, rinsed under the tap
1/2 tsp soft brown sugar
sea salt
300g stale sourdough bread, torn into roughly equal chunks
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
120ml extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, smashed and minced into a paste
2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed under the tap (optional)
1 large red onion, very thinly slice
1 cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and cut into rough chunks
a large handful basil, roughly torn

Roughly chop the tomatoes. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar as well as a good pinch of salt. Let the tomatoes stand for 20 minutes then add the bread. Stand for a further 10 minutes, so that all the tomato liquid at the bottom of bowl I absorbed by the bread.
Mix the vinegar with the lemon juice and olive oil. Toss the tomatoes and bread with this dressing, then add the remaining ingredients before serving.
Making this salad slightly ahead when you eat it means that the flavours will have extra time to infuse and mingle, which will only improve the flavour.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Top 5 Things to Do In Bath

I set myself up a challenge this year, which is to try and visit more places in the UK. So far, I've only managed to visit Bath (although I've had a couple of trips to the big capital, there was little sightseeing). England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are very beautiful, but the weather is unpredictable so I am hesitant to book a break in another city in the UK in case it rains cats and dogs. Also my plan was scarpered due to a trip to Marakesh and Milan, so just eventually getting to visit somewhere in the UK. Why Bath? Well Bath, located in the South West of England in the county of Somerset is known throughout the world due to it being a World Heritage Site, primarily due to the numerous roman ruins that are located throughout the city. Bath's also known for many other things such as stunning Georgian houses, Sally Lunns and Jane Austen. Taking a train ride for a little 2 hours, I spent one cloudy but not rainy Saturday in this picturesque city. It was very busy from tourists from around the world, but with a little planning you can make the most to of the day.

Roman Baths
World renowned and one of the most beautiful historical sites in Europe and rightly so. Open 09:30 - 17:00 (21:00 July/August) and costing £15.00 this is a site you can not miss. This place is heaving with tourists, but navigate your way though the crowd and marvel at the spectacular grounds. Make sure you also get a headset to fully immerse yourself in the history around the Roman Baths. Locating below street level there are four main features, the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and finds from Roman Bath. I was fascinated with the history of how the Baths were made and the running of the baths. My suggestion is to visit her first, I was here for almost two hours as I wanted to be fully informed of the history, oh and take lots of photos.

The church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Bath, otherwise known as Bath Abbey is another architectural stunner. It's a beautiful gothic style grade 1 listed building. I'd recommend making a quick visit, to admire the beautiful windows, the high ceilings and magnificent pews. Entry is free although donations ware welcome. If you have enough time, sit in on one of their worship services. 

Identified as one of the finest example of Georgian architecture in the UK, the royal crescent is simply beautiful. Made up of 30 or so houses, make sure you take a visit and take several photos by some of the most beautiful views in Bath. Number 1 Royal Crescent is home to a historical museum which showcases what a typical Georgian house was like for the wealthy. I really wanted to do this tour, but unfortunately I was 10 minutes late, which I was gutted. I did however see a glimpse of people in period costumes outside the house so was incredibly fascinated about what was indoors. 

Take a boat trip around Bath
I love a boat trip and this with the hop on and hop off buses is one my favourite excursions to complete whilst away. I took a boat trip with Pulteney Princess which cost £9 for an hour boat trip. Unfortunately the skies were a little grey but I can imagine on a clear day, the views would be breathtaking. Also, I really enjoyed taking in the Bath countryside, watching many people using canoes on the River Avon. There are also some notable sites to see, including a medieval cattle market, the oldest building in Bath, Cleveland Bridge and Bathampton Down. 

No city break for me would be complete without sampling a local delicacy. In Bath, it's a Sally Lunn. Located in a historical building (it's a theme in Bath). A baker fleeing in France developed the iconic generous brioche bun, now known as "Sally Lunn". There's a range of sweet and savoury bun dishes at the restaurant all with scrumptious toppings. As it was lunch time, my cousin and I ordered the Double Bacon and the Salt Beef. Why not try the traditional Sally Lunn Blend Tea, made up with Indian, Ceylon and African Teas. 

Thank you Bath Tourism to providing me with a press pass.


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Courgette, Saffron and Potato Kuku

I love Middle Eastern Food, that's no secret. But more important than that, I love food that is full of flavour, different textures and is easy to make. The best-selling author of Persiana, Sabring Ghaynour (I need to purchase her first book asap) recently published her second book, Sirocco, full of inspiring easy to replicate recipes. Sabrina states that the book is not strictly Middle Eastern but has Middle Eastern flavours and being one that loves Middle Eastern flavours, I promptly bookmarked several recipes to try. This is the first recipe I tried, I was a bit hesitant, after all what is a kuku? It's simply and egg based fritatta dish, this is perfect for lunch or a light dinner. I found this incredibly easy to make and it makes a nice change for lunch.

Recipe for Courgette, Saffron and Potato Kuku
Serves 8 - 10
Olive oil, for dazzling
12 large eggs
500g courgettes, grated, with excess moisture squeezed out
350g potatoes, parboiled, cooled and coarsely grated
1 bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced
1g (about a pinch) saffron threads, ground, then steeped in 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 tablespoons thick natural yogurt
2 tablespoons plain flour
2-3 teaspoons baking powder
2 heaped teaspoons sea salt flakes, crushed
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C, Gas Mark 6. Line a large rectangular or square ovenproof dish with baking paper, then drizzle a little olive oil on to the paper and rub it over the base. (Alternatively, use 2 smaller containers, or 16 muffin cases for individual kuku).
Combine the eggs, courgettes, potatoes, spring onions, saffron, yogurt, flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, season with black pepper and mix until evenly combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared ovenproof dish, ensuring the mixture is at least 2.5cm clear of the rim so it does not overflow during cooking. Bake for 35 minutes (or 25-28 minutes for smaller or individual kuku) or until the top of the kuku is golden and begins to brown. To check if it is cooked, insert a knife into the centre of the kuku - if it comes out clean of liquid (raw egg, in this case) but moist, the dish is down, if it looks wet and eggy then it will ned a few more minutes.
Allow to cool slightly, then flip the baking dish upside-down and tip out the kuku on to a chopping board. Peel off the baking paper and cut the kuku into pieces to serve.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Pickled Cookbook Review & Giveaway

Pickling and Fermenting is a foodie trend that is taking the world by storm. Anyone who is anyone in the foodie world has tried or made a recipe for kimichi, the old art preserving method of fermenting is more popular than ever. Unlike some of the foodie trends that have come and gone, I think this is to stay. I adore making pickles and chutneys, but this book goes beyond that. Containing a number of pickles, sauces and vinegars, there is also a selection of recipes to use all the pickles and sauces that you have made. I think this is where the author, Freddie Janssen, owner of FAT sauces and head of marketing at renowned restaurant Lyles shines.
If you are novice to picking and fermenting (me the latter) there's a handy guide in this book. So far, I've made three recipes: rosemary pickled plums, kimichi and kimichi & stilton grilled sandwich, the latter which I have made twice now.

 This cookery book is split into the following chapters:
  • Pickles: recipes include cucumber dill pickles, szehuan pickled watermelon, rosemary pickled plums and bang mi pickles.
  • Fermentations: recipes include NYC Deli Pickles, Proper Kraut, Kimichi and FAT Sesame Kimchi.
  • Sauces: stand out recipes include: FAT Kimichi Hot Sauce and DIY Sriacha.
  • The Recipes: recipes to try include: The Ultimate Meatball Sandwich, Dan Dan Noodles, Kimichi & Stilton Grilled Sandwich  and Green Tomato, Mustard and Pork Belly Bun. 
  • Drinks: recipes include Rhubarb & Jamine Water Keifr, Ginger Beer and Tepache-ilada. 

Recipe for Kimichi & Stilton Griled Sandwich 
Makes 2 sandwiches
softened butter, for spreading
4 slices of good-quality white bread
3 tablespoons F.A.T seasme kimichi (or use one of the many kimichi recipes found online)
2 tablespoons good-quality Stilton 
2 good handfuls of good-quality, grated cheddar cheese.

Spread the butter on one each slice of bread, and don't be shy. If using a toast maker, put 2 slices of bread, butter side facing down, on to the grill.
If you don't have a toast maker, heat a large, heavy-based pan over medium heat. Put 2 slices of bread butter side facing down, in the pan.
Now add the toppings in this order: kimichi, spring onions, Stilton and cheddar. Top the sandwiches with your remaining sliced of bread, butter side facing up. 
If using a toast maker, press down hard so things don't start falling out, and toast until done. If using a pan, put a sheet of foil or baking paper on top of the sandwiches followed by a casserole dish (the weight of the casserole will press the sandwich down). Fry over medium to low heat, until golden on one side, then flip over and repeat with the other side. When ready, the cease should be melted and the toast golden brown. 

The lovely people at Hardie Grant are giving one lucky reader a copy of Pickled. To be in with a chance, follow the below instructions.
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Sunday, 5 June 2016

Orange Marmalade Pork Burgers for National Barbecue Week

I love a good ol burger; juicy, succulent and with interesting flavours, I eat burgers all year round. Many people eat more burgers in the Summer months, when the barbecue is out, Summer is longer and al fresco dining is the order of the day. To celebrate National Barbecue week May 30th - 5th June,  Four Walls, a company who provides inspiration and ideas for your home, is teaming up with bloggers to create all things barbecued related. As BBQ's are a great way to use out outdoor space in our homes, there are some interesting articles on their site.
I wanted to create a recipe something a little different for National Barbecue Week and combined my love of pork and citrus to make pork and orange marmalade burgers. Pork burgers is perhaps less popular then beef but I think it's a great base for adding flavours and for something a little bit different. The orange marmalade adds a tang to the burgers and the mustard adds a slight heat. I served my orange marmalade burgers with fries, plantain chips, rum punch and a serving of scotch bonnet peppers. 

Makes 4
500g lean pork mince
2 tablespoon orange marmalade
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon English mustard
1 tablespoon salt
4 burger rolls

Cheddar cheese

Add the pork mince, orange marmalade, garlic cloves, rosemary, mustard and salt in a mixing bowl. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together until everything is well mixed. Try to ensure that you do not over mix everything as this is likely to make a tougher burger. Shape the mince into 4 patties and place (on a plate) in the fridge to firm up for at least 30 minutes. When your barbecue is ready place the burgers on the grill and cook for around 10 minutes, flipping over several times and until the juices run clear.



Thursday, 2 June 2016

What I ate in Milan

I promise this is the last time I'll share all my delights from Milan. As a foodie, one which plans my meals in my head anyway days in advance, I thought I would share what I ate in Milan. As you will probably see from my photos, there was not a diet inside. There's carbohydrates, gluten, fat and calories: I enjoyed it all.

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