Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Monthly Eatings - August 16

I eat out a lot, every week, sometimes 2 or 3 times a week. Although I review restaurants on my blog, I visit too many places to write a post for every singe restaurant. So, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my monthly eatings. Here are the restaurants I visited in August.

Tapas Brindisa London Bridge

Fiume Italian Restaurant

Toby Carvery

Original Patty Men

Looking forward to September's Eatings.



Friday, 26 August 2016

Beef Koftas

I adore Middle Eastern food and will regular prepare a Middle Eastern spread to indulge on a Friday or Saturday evening. It occurred to me recently that although I've cooked a lot of recipes from the award winning and Honey and Co restaurant but never actually shared a recipe here on my blog. For me, after work eatings should always be quick and easy, yet flavoursome. This is where koftas come in, in particular these wonderful scented beef koftas (I normally have lamb koftas) were delicious. I served this alongside a lovely Middle Eastern spread of tabouleh, hummus and some salad.

For the kofta
2 slices of thick white bread 
enough milk to soak the bread (about 240ml)
1 large onion, peeled (about 120g)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
600g beef mince
4 teaspoon whole caraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
130g kashkaval cheese (I used cheddar cheese)

Remove the crusts from the bread and soak it in the cold milk for 10 minutes. In the meantime puree the onion and garlic together in a food processor till completely smooth. Squeeze the soaked bread and put in a large bowl with all the other kofta ingredients. Mix well until combined.

Divide the mixture into 12 balls of about 80g each (about the size of clementine). Cover and chill for at least an hour before cooking. This will help the flavours to combine and enable the protein in the meat to stick everything together. 

 To cook the kofta, set your grill to the highest setting. Lightly grease a roasting tin or baking tray and place the kofta on it with a little space around each one. Cook for about 6 minutes, then turn them and cook on the other side for another 6 minutes. They should be a roasted brown colour and bouncy to the touch. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Caribbean Food Week Street Party Spread

Caribbean Food Week #CFW2016 is entering it's fifth year with the celebrations starting on August 22nd - 29th. Grace Foods, the UK'S number 1 Caribbean food and drink company will be hosting series of foodie events in Windrush Square in Brixton. They've asked food bloggers to come up with their best street party spread and Caribbean recipes using the beautiful hamper that was given. Now, living in Costa del West Midlands, the weather is not always the best. But what I love about Caribbean food is that it's perfect for the warm weather but also gives a tropical element in colder rainier climates. Anyway, I invited some of my friends round and had a light afternoon feast of some Caribbean inspired foods using some of these products. 

Jerk pork chops
Rice and Peas
Fried Plantains
Callaloo Balls
Tomato, Celery, Spring Onion and Coriander salad.

Other items that I would of have included if time permitted were saltfish fritters and festivals.

Now as my hamper contained Jerk BBQ sauce it was only right that I marinaded the pork chops with this. This was simply, a couple of drizzles on each pork chop and baked in the oven. Of course, if the weather permits use the barbecue. There are many rice and peas recipes out there on the net and via cookbooks and you need not to worry about the quality of the beans as having used Dunns River Peas and Beans they make a wonderful rice and peas. The callaloo (a wild form of spinach) was turned into a lovely side of callaloo balls, simply by adding breadcrumbs, egg yolk, Dunns River Tropical seasoning and then rolled into balls. 

I already use many of the products included in the hamper and know how wonderful and authentic they taste. If you get chance, visit your local supermarket as there is likely to be special offers on some of these wonderful products during #CFW2016. For more Caribbean Food Week inspiration check out other entries and recipe ideas via their Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: I received the hamper for review purposes.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Tower Bridge Review

As I'm visiting London on a more regular basis and taking in the sites, I thought it was time I visited Tower Bridge. Now, London has many bridges and at first I was getting this bridge with London Bridge (I blame the popular song by Fergie) mixed up. It's not until my friend pointed out that Tower Bridge is the bridge that lifts up to allow ships to pass, I remembered it from the many films that feature this iconic bridge.

Now, as with all tourist places, this place was heaving with tourists and as it was a sunny London day, there were lots of people of all ages and all cultures visiting. As I approached Tower Bridge I marvelled at the engineering works and it's sheer size.

After collecting my tickets, my friend and I entered the lift and travelled up several floors to the North Tower. Once the lift opened, there were old footage of the tower's construction and some insightful information on how many men were employed and how long it took for the bridge to be built. Looking up, there were waxworks of men on steel bars completing the bridge - they were incredibly brave.

I made my way through to the most spectacular part of the exhibition: the glass floors. There are spectacular views of London from 42 meters above. I enjoyed watching the iconic red buses, watch those who are cycling and walking. I was lucky enough to walk across the glass floors when there was a bridge lifting which was simply breathtaking. If you are brave enough, walk across the glass floor, some were brave, others were scared.

After walking the glass floors, head to the glass ceiling part of the exhibition and view in some beautiful views of London.

 Once you have finished taking photos of the London landscape, head to the Engine Rooms.

A quote from the website states "A trip to Tower Bridge isn't complete without visiting the Victorian Engine Rooms". Unfortunately, due to my train heading back to the Midlands, I was unable to do this.  But, I wish I had just to see how the steam engines were back then.

I definitely think Tower Bridge is one of the places which you must visit when visiting London. It's also a great place for children and families too.

Single tickets cost £9, family tickets start from £14.10.

Disclaimer: I received complimentary tickets for Tower Bridge. 



Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Not Just Jam Review

I am a keen jammer, pickler, chutney and curd maker. In fact, my kitchen and cabinets are filled with different jars of preserved goodness. Summer and Autumn are the best season to turn seasonal fruits into something that will last a little longer. I have quite quite a number of books on preserving and when I read the press release for Not Just Jam, I knew that this would be a welcome addition to my collection. The author, Matthew Evans, gourmet farmer of The Fat Pig is also an acclaimed food writer and chef and knows a thing or two about preserving.
There are several different types of preserving covered here from the obvious jam but also to cordials, dried pastes and relishes. What I really liked about this book is there are a variety of fruits that are easily found in season from January - December here in the UK, often with a slight twist. So far, I've made the Late Summer Peach Jam which was supposed to be accompanied with amaretto but I paired mine with some Limoncello that I purchased in Milan. Whilst this is not only good for spreading on toast, as I have done in the below pictures, a couple of tablespoons would also great for sprucing up puddings and cakes. I added a couple of tablespoons of late summer peach jam to my bulla bread and butter pudding which offered a refreshing sharpens to my pudding. I've bookmarked so many more and will be making some of the fantastic cordials.

This book is divided into the following chapters.
Preserving Basics: all the fundamentals that you need to ensure your preserving process goes well. Also a handy guide to what fruits work well with the different types of preserving techniques.
Jam and Conserves: Some of my favourite recipes include Strawberry and Pimms, Pear and Cardamom Jam, High Dumpsie (how fabulous does that sound) and Late Summer Peach Jam with Amaretto.
Jellies:  Recipes that I bookmarked are: Blueberry and Balsamic Jelly and Blackberry and Apple jelly.
Preserves: Some of my favourite recipes include: Vanilla Peaches, Cinnamon-Spiced Nectarines with White Wine and Apricots with Orange Blossom Nutmeg.
Pickles and Relishes: Stand out recipes include: Dill Pickled Cucumbers, Dark Brown Pickle and Park's Lemon Chutney.
Sauces:  Recipes to try include: Real Brown Sauce, Australians- Style Barbecue Sauce and Siracha Chili Paste.
Curds and Pastes: Stand out recipes include: Passion fruit Curd and Mandarin Butter.
Cordials, Squashes and Syrups: Some of my favourite recipes include: Raspberry and Peach Cordial, Strawberry and Basil Syrup and Blackcurrant and Licorice Squash.
Dried and Candies Pastes: Recipes to try include: Five-Spiced Pear Paste and Dried Citrus Peel.

The Recipe that I will like to share with you all is the Late Summer Peach Jam with Amaretto

2kg late summer yellow peaches, a combination of ripe peaches and some that are a little green to get a higher pectin level.
1kg sugar
120ml lemon juice strained (you will need about 6 lemons)
2-3 tablespoons amaretto

Wash and sterilise ten 300ml jars
Cut the peaches in half, then quarters, remove the stones, then slice each quarter into thin wedges. Reserve the stones in a container in the fridge.
Put the peaches in a late glass or ceramic bowl, then add the sugar and lemon juice and stir well. Lay some plastic wrap on the surface to stop the peaches discolouring, then cover the entrée bowl in more plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, get the stones and crack then open, removing the little kernels inside. Tie the kernels in a muslin bag.
Pour the peach mixture into a large jam pan, making sure to scrap in all the sugar and juices clinging to the bowl. Add the bag of kernels and put the pan over the medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil over ugh heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat slightly to maintain a health gallop and cook until the jam starts to thicken, anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes. emote from the heat and check the set. If it's ready, remove the bag of kernels carefully with a pair of tongues, then add the amaretto to taste and stir through.
Pour into warmed jars and seal. Best opened in the dead of winter. Store in the pantry until opened, then in the fridge.

Disclaimer: Many thanks to Murdoch books for my review copy.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Pineapple and Passion Fruit Fool

I wasn't sure whether to call this dessert a fool or a mess , as it contains meringue which is a nod to the classic Eton Mess but then as I wanted to scale down the creamy "fool" dessert, I opted on naming this dessert a fool. I love Summer, all those colourful and accessible exotic fruits which instantly takes away my craving for cake. When the nights are long and bright, I like to treat myself after work to a refreshing dessert. This is relatively healthy for me, but incredibly sublime. If possible, use fresh pineapples, they are ridiculously cheap this time of the year.

Makes 4, (you will need a food processor and four dessert bowls).

200ml Greek yogurt
500g fresh pineapple, skin removed and sliced.
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 shop brought meringues
2 passion fruits

Add the Greek yogurt, pineapple and caster sugar in a food processor and blitz until the pineapple pieces are almost smooth but there are still some chunky pieces in there. Now it's time to layer up. Pour a couple of tablespoons of the yogurt-pineapple mixture in the dessert bowl, followed by 1/2 meringue (crushed in your hand then topped onto the yogurt) per dessert bowl and a further 2-3 tablespoon of the yogurt-pineapple mixture. Top each dessert bowl with 1 1/2 of the passion fruit.


Friday, 5 August 2016

London Eye - Champagne Experience Review

I recently visited London, it's something I do on a more regular basis over the Summer months, to explore one of the most visited tourist attractions, the Coca Cola London Eye. I love visiting the famous landmarks which light up the London Skyline. I can't believe it took me so long to visit this attraction, so last weekend, my friend and I braved the very large crowds from all over the world to take in stunning views of the capital. The London Eye is world's largest cantilevered observation wheel which reaches a whopping 443 feet and was opened in 2000.

As soon as I got off the tube (Westminister, although Waterloo is the nearest tube station), the London Eye was an imposing and yet beautiful landmark. As I walked across the river bank, I'm glad that I gave myself enough time to navigate through the crowds (London Dungeons and London Sealife is axon on the same strip). If you are able, pre-book your tickets, the queues are ridiculously long, I visited on a Saturday so this was expected.

 I had fast track tickets which enabled us to skip the queues. However, I decided to do one better, my friend and I upgraded to the champagne experience which only cost £5 when you have fast track tickets, this, to me, enhances an already unforgettable experience. 

From here we had a magical experience, being ushered to the champagne lounge, relaxing in the gorgeous champagne bar. When it was our turn to board the London Eye, our guide, the lovely Nikki, guided us on the capsule, after skipping the queues which was fabulous. 

There were not many people on the champagne experience, which was great really as there were more room in the capsule and more opportunities for me to take lots of photos. As soon as our door shut, we descended into the London skyline. I was a little worried about the motion feeling of the capsule moving or even worse, shaking, but I need not to worry as I could barely feel the capsule moving. 

Inside the capsule there is a bench style seating area, alongside Ipad style tablets which shows the various London landmarks in several languages. As we were taking in the breathtaking views of famous landmarks across London and the river Thames, our hostess with the mostess poured us each a glass of champagne - it was good champagne too. As I took in the ambiance, I was able to snap away. 

I loved the views of Big Ben, Westminister, Wembley, The Shard and sites that I am not familiar with such as the Battersea Power Station. 

The ride lasts 30 minutes. Saver tickets are from £21.20, fast track tickets are £29.45 and champagne experience from £31.95. The London Eye is from 10:00 - 21:30 during August. My only regret was that I did not view the 4D cinema experience, this is included free in the entry ticket, unfortunately I was rushing off onto my next adventure.

Overall: There is a reason that this is one of the most visited tourist sites in Europe, breathtaking views of London and a memorable experience. After an experience, I always ask myself, would I visit again? Of course I would! 

Disclaimer: I attended as guests of London Eye, although I paid the additional upgrade fee for the champagne experience. 

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