Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my lovely readers of my blog. Hope to see you next year with more scrumptious cookbook reviews, restaurant openings and travel destinations.


Monday, 19 December 2016

What I ate in Lisbon

I recently spent 3 days visiting the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. Whilst there isn't the same opulence of attractions compared to other European cities such as Paris or Rome, there is certainly a number of things to do. If you love good food and good wine, Lisbon offers a number of culinary delights from codfish to pastel de nata and milk bread, here is what I ate in Lisbon:


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Jamaican Bun Loaf Cake

Last year, I shared a Caribbean Christmas tradition that's popular in my household, Black Cake. This year, I'll be using the festive dried fruits to make Jamaican Bun. Many Jamaicans eat Bun - a rich, fruit soaked loaf cake over Easter, but more and more of my family members are eating bun over Christmas too. This year, I will be doing the same. Not being one for Christmas pudding or traditional Christmas cake, I'll be baking this load cake and topping with seasonal cheese such as Stilton and apricots or wenyesdale with cranberries. If you are feeling particular indulgent, the leftovers, if there's are any, makes a wonderful breakfast. 

Butter for greasing
75 g butter, diced
2 tablespoon treacle
100ml red wine (or semi-skimmed milk if you are going alcohol free)
75 g dark muscovodo sugar
350g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon all spice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon gravy brownings
1 teaspoon ground ginger
75 g raisins
50 g mixed peel
1 egg yolk, beaten

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4 and grease a 900 g loaf tin using butter. In a mixing bowl, add the butter, treacle, wine and sugar heat in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. In a separate mixing bowl, add the self-raising flour, baking powder, mixed spice, all spice, nutmeg, gravy browning and ginger, make a well. Pour the wet ingredients in the well and mix well using a wooden spoon. Add the raisins and mixed peel – mix again. Transfer the mixture to a loaf tin and smooth over using a spatula. Brush the loaf with the beaten egg.  Bake on the top shelf for 40 minutes. To test whether the bun is cooked, insert a skewer if there is no mixture on there it is ready. Leave to cool slightly before turning over and slicing.

You can eat the bun with butter, jams or if you want the traditional, slices of butter with cheddar cheese.


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Poached Pears in Mulled Wine

A really simple and delicious Christmas inspired dish, which fills your home with warm spices and fragrant smells. I can be hit and miss with pears, but I love how juicy and succulent the pears are soaked in the mulled wine. What's more, they make a great low fat dessert and are incredibly easier to make. My photos do not do this dish justice, but go beyond that and you will discover a wonderful Winter delight.

Makes 2 jars
1 lemon, halved
4 pears

For the mulled wine
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
225g caster sugar
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 whole nutmeg, grated
1 vanilla pod
1 bottle red wine

You will need
2 sterilised Kiner jars

Put all the mulled wine ingredients into a pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
Meanwhile, squeeze the halved lemons into a bowl of cold water. Peel the pears and, as you peel each one, place in straight into the bowl of lemon water.
Add the pears to the simmering wine and then remove the pan from the heat. Take a large sheet of greaseproof paper, scrunch it up and press on to the pears to keep them submerged. Cover the pan with a lid and leave for 1 - 1/2 hours until tender.
Remove the pears from the liquid and set aside. Bring the wine to the boil and then boil vigorously for 10-12 minutes until the liquid reduced by one-third and is syrupy. Strain the liquid. Place the pear into sterilised jars, pour over the liquid and seal.


Monday, 12 December 2016

Sicily: Recipes from an Italian Island

Before I share lots of seasonal and Christmas recipes, I want to transport you to the culinary delights Mediterranean island of Sicily. This cookery book, Sicily: Recipes from an Italian Island with it's vibrant cover and stunning recipes give a comprehensive history of the largest island in the Mediterranean sea. With cookery books which focus on a specific cuisine, I like to be transported and be immersed in the recipes, stories and history and what not better way then seeing stunning on location photograph
 I learnt so much about Sicilian cuisine by reading this cookery book: their love for seasonal foods, the influence from East and West which makes this cuisine so different from the mainland and the love of keeping food simple. What I really liked about this cookery book, is that even in the depths of Winter, there are a number of accessible, seasonal and stunning recipes. Many of the recipes include accompanying beautiful photography alongside some quirky illustrations. Sicily rrp is £25 and is currently on sale at £20 on Amazon.

The cookery book is split into the following chapters:
  • Introduction
  • Palermo & Its Street Food, recipes to try include: arancine, chickpea fritters and Sicilian pizza. 
  • Antipasti, stand out recipes include:sardine patties, Romano Peppers Stuffed with Pork Mince & Herbs.
  • Soups, recipes to try include: Broad Bean & Fennel Seed Soup. 
  • Contorini, stand out recipes include: Sicilian Chips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Spicy Almond Crunch. 
  • Pasta, Rice and Couscous, recipes to try include: Romanesco with Pasta, Slow-Cooked Beef & Sausage Ragu and Pasta with Aubergines & Tomato.
  • Meat and Poultry, stand out recipes include: Chicken Parmigiana and Rack of Lamb with Citrus Gremolata. 
  • Fish, recipes to try include: Tuna Steaks in a Quinoa Crust on Courgettes and Grilled Mackerel with Caponata. 
  • Dolci and Cocktails, stand out recipes to Clementine & Almond Slice and Coffee Chocolate & Walnut Cake,

Recipe for Sweet & Sour Aubergines

2 large aubergines
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for roasting
salt and ground white or black pepper
1 onion, cut in half from root to tip and thinly sliced into half- moons
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed
4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 celery heart and eaves rough cut in 1 cm cubes
50g stoned green olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoon capers in salt, rinsed
200g tinned whole tomatoes roughly chopped
2 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
3-4 white wine vinegar

To Serve 
Cocoa power
toasted almonds or pine nuts
a few mint leaves.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Hardie Grant for sending me a review copy of Sicily: Recipes from an Italian Island. 


Monday, 5 December 2016

Monthly Eatings

November proved to be a month of adventure, trying old favourites and trying new cuisines. From carvery to Nigerian and some peri peri in-between, here is what I ate in November.

Shabab - a lovely Indian restaurant, one which I have visited on numerous occasions. On this visit, I ordered a delicious sagwalla, the first time truing this and was scrumptious. 

Toby Carvery - Home of the British institution that is a carver. I piled my plate high and dived in.

Silverspoon - My first time trying Nigerian food in a restaurant setting. I went very traditional with an egusi. Delicious, but very peppery.

Nandos - This month, I visited a lot of chain restaurants including this one which I have previously snubbed. The chicken platter went down well.

Harvester - another family favourite, pub grub at it's best.


Monday, 28 November 2016

Spanish Tomato Breakfast Toast

Hardly a recipe and is something you can quickly through together, I really wanted to share a breakfast that I''ve been eaten most this month: Spanish Tomato Breakfast Toast. You have probably seen some snaps on my Instagram, but there is something moerish about about the tomato and garlic  on top of warm toasted bread. My only rule for this, is to let the tomatoes stand for the required time, as ice cold tomotates on toast is not good. I also like this breakfast as it's good for you, Shelina Permalloo, winner of Masterchef, who also lost an amazing 3 stone, states that this recipe is 140 calories per serving. Wonderful.

3 plum tomatoes
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt 
2 sliced pumpernickel bread (I used bog standard brown) bread

Finely chop the tomatoes and garlic and place in a bowl. Stir in the olive il and salt, then leave to stand for around 15 minutes. Drain off some of the excess juice from the tomato mixture before you serve it.

Warm or toast the bread slices, top with the tomato mixture and eat straight away.


Monday, 21 November 2016

Cakes, Bakes & Biscuits - review

When I think of the National Trust, I think of imposing stately homes, rich English culture and stunning countryside views. Until last year, I didn't realise that The National Trust released cookery or baking books until I reviewed the fabulous The Picnic Cookbook. Well there's another book from The National Trust specialising on baking. There's a strong emphasis on English baking as per expected as there is an historic love affair in Britain and cakes. The majority of the recipes are beautifully illustrated and all the recipes have clear instructions. 
My favourite chapter in this baking book is Regional Cakes, not only are the cakes look delicious, many of the recipes are historical and unique to that particular region.With so many baking books on the market, I like the feel of this book: accessible, compact and informative. The rrp is £9.99, but it's currently on Amazon for £7.99. I also think this baking book would make a great Christmas present for all your baking friends. 

This baking book is split into the following chapters:
  • The Basics: Classic recipes include Maderia cake, Lemon Drizzle Cake and All-in-one chocolate cake. 
  • Traditional Favourites: Recipes to try include Victoria Cake, Everyday Coffee Cake and Carrot Cake with Lime Topping. 
  • Regional Cakes: Stand out recipes to try include: Suffolk Fourses, Bath Buns, 18th Century Pepper Cake, Kedleston Marmalade and Norfolk Tart. 
  • Scones and Slices: Delicious recipes include: Florentine Slice, Ginger and Treacle Scones and Cherry Almond Scones. 
  • Teabreads and Loaves: luscious recipes to try include: Date & Wanut Loaf, Barm Brack and Marmalade & Apricot Teabread. 
  • Bite-sized treats: recipes to try include: English Madeleines, Espresso Express and Battenburn Cupcakes. 
  • Fun for Little Ones: Stand out recipes to try with your little ones: Jam donuts, Cheery Buns and Rocky Roadsters. 
  • Savoury Treats & Breads: Recipes to try include: Courgette, Feta & Spring Onion Cupcake and Beautiful Bread. 
  • A Lighter Bite: Luscious recipes to try include: Upside-down Polenta Plum Cake, Cranberry, Pecan & Maple Syrup Flapjacks, 
  • Sweet Something: A lovely selection of jams & preserves including: Apricot Jam and High Dumpsie Dearie. 
I baked the Date & Walnut Loaf, which I adapted to Date & Cashew Loaf as I didn't have any walnuts at hand. I think you could use whatever nuts you have at hand. I found this cake incredibly moreish, I didn't think the combination of dates with nuts would work, but it did superbly. 

225g self-raising flour 
50g walnut loaves (I used cashew nuts)
1 tsp mixed spice
75g butter
100g light or dark soft brown sugar
225g whole dates
150ml water
2 large free range eggs, beaten
2 tbsp sesame seeds

1) Preheat the oven to 180C, 350 F , gas mark 4. Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.
2) Mix together the flour, walnuts and mixed spice.
3) Place the butter, sugar, dates and water in a pan and bring gently to the boil. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes. Add to the flour, spice and nuts with the beaten eggs and beat well.
4) Turn into the prepared tin, hollow the centre a little and sprinkle the top with the sesame seeds. Bake for 1-1 1/4 hours until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
5) Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve sliced with butter.

Many thanks to Pavillion books for the review copy. 


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Ackee and Bacon Tart revisited

Ackee and Bacon Tart
Ackee, the plump yellow fruit with black seeds, which tastes similar to scrambeled eggs is the national fruit of Jamaica. It also is one half of the national dish “Ackee and Saltfish”. Although ackee is a fruit, it is primarily eaten in savoury dishes and must be cooked before eating. Ackee only grows 
in warmer climates so I have always eaten tinned ackee, but that’s ok, the plump yellow fruit still tastes wonderful, whether it’s from a tin or not.

 My nan would often cook my sister and I, Ackee and Saltfish, or Ackee & Bacon for a quick and easy evening meal. In this dish, I combine my love for ackee and bacon with my love of pastry, in particular tarts to create this wonderful breakfast tart. Depending upon my mood, I will have a slice of my ackee and bacon tart with a dollop of ketchup, or garlic mushrooms.

Ackee and Bacon tart
Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes
Number of servings 6

You will need
A frying pan, measuring jug, whisk and a 28cm fluted loose bottom flan tin.

For the pastry
1 ready to roll shortcrust packet

For the filling
1 tbsp vegetable oil
155g bacon lardons
1 red pepper, stems removed, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, stems removed, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, stems removed, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced.
300g creme fraiche
3 eggs, lightly beaten
75g medium cheddar cheese.
1 tin (280g) of ackee

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, place the pastry in the tin, trimming off the excess, line the tin with the baking parchment and fill with dried pulses. Bake on the top shelf for 15 minutes, remove the dried pulses and bake for a further 5 minutes.

Whilst the pastry is blind baking, pour the oil in the frying pan and cook the bacon lardons, sliced peppers and spring onions for around 8 minutes.

Pour 300ml crème fraiche, eggs and 30g of the cheese in a measuring jug and whisk. Open the tin of ackee, drain the water from the tin and set aside. 

Once the pastry has blind baked, remove from the oven, scatterthe bacon, peppers, spring onions, ackee and pour over the egg - creme fraiche mixture. Finally, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the tart. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the filling no longer wobbles.  Leave to rest for 5 minutes before slicing to wedges.

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