Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Roast Chicken with Peaches and Lavendar

I finally got round to purchasing Diana Henry's A Bird in Hand. This was published in 2015 to great critical acclaim. A cookery book dedicated to the nations favourite meat chicken shows the diversity of recipes that chicken can offer. I've made a few of the recipes but this one I chose to share is perfect during the Summer months. The roast chicken was incredibly succulent and the peach gave such moreish and sweet flavour dimension to it.




Ingredients
3 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt flakes and pepper
1.8kg chicken skin-on, jointed into 8 good sized skin on bone-in chicken thighs.
200ml medium white wine
3tbsp white balsamic vinegar
4tbsp lavender honey
5 small, slightly under ripe peaches
8 sprigs of fresh lavender

Method
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan, season the chicken joints and brown them on each side so they get a good colour. You can do this in batches.
Put the chicken joints or thighs into a very large , broad shallow ovenproof dish (both the chicken and peaches need to be able to lie snugly together in a single layer)
Pour the oil out of the pan but don't clean it. Return it to the heat and deglaze the pan with the wine , scraping to dislodge all the bits of flavour there. Boil this until it has reduced to about 100ml then add 1 1/2 tbsp each of the balsamic vinegar and honey. Stir to dissolve the honey , then pour over the chicken.
Halve and pit the peaches and cut each half in two. Dot these in around the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Brush each piece of peach with a little olive oil , then whisk the remaining honey and balsamic together with a fork. Drizzle this over the chicken and peaches and scatter with the lavender (leave some sprigs of lavender whole , use just the flowers from others)

Roast in the hot oven for 40 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through and glazed with the honey and the peaches should be slightly caramelized in patches. If you stick the tip of a sharp knife into the underside of a thigh , the juice that runs out should be clear. Serve in the dish in which the chicken has cooked (you can transfer it all to a warmed platter , but be careful as the peaches will be soft and could easily fall apart).
Serve with roast potatoes and green beans.
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Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Farofa Coated Chicken

I love the online food community and one of my most recent finds was Sous Chef website specialising in hard to find ingredients. I've brought a couple things on there, but what caught my eye with my most recent purchase was the seasoned cassava flour (farofa pronta in Portugese). You see I've had a long love affair with farofa when I visited Brazil almost 10 years ago. I love the flavoursome sand like ingredient which was served often with the national dish, fejoada, but also with chicken and fish. When I returned to the UK, I searched high and low for farofa, I even went as far to purchase the West African ingredient made with cassava tubers, Garri but as there is not a Brazillian community where I live, I wasn't successful. But as I love cassava and with many hard to find items available online, I knew it wouldn't be a long time before this was available online.
Instead of serving farofa as a side accompaniment, I decided to use this to create a coating for some chicken pieces which were crying out to be used.  This makes a delightful change if you want to change up the mid-week chicken meal.

Pre-cooked

Ingredients
4 Chicken legs quarters, skin off and still jointed
1 spring onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns or black peppercorns
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 egg yolk
75g seasoned farofa

Method
Start by marinading the chicken. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl, season with spring onions, garlic cloves, parsley, pink peppercorns, salt, garam masala, cumin and turmeric. Mix well using your hands and leave to marinade for around 4 hours. Crack an egg yolk into a bowl and whisk. On a side plate add the seasoned farofa. When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to gas mark 6, set up the convey belt .....  Dip each piece of chicken in the egg yolk, then coat with the farofa and place in a large oven dish (you may need two). Repeat until all the chicken pieces are coated. Place the oven dish on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 1 hour. 

xxx

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Thursday, 21 April 2016

Preserved Lemon, Za'atar and Honey Chicken

One of the great things about living in a multi-cultural diverse city is that you can find readily available ingredients from all cultures within a few miles radius. I love Middle-Eastern food, I'm aware that it one of the current food trends, but I sampled Middle Eastern almost 14 years ago, as a teenager  (one of my closest friends is half Jordanian). The spices commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking are full of flavour, but there is no heat. I love heat, but I do not want to necessarily want to eat spicy food every day (maybe every other day), but I always want flavour, lots of it. 
I had a number of what I consider to Middle Eastern spices and condiments and wanted to perk up a Sunday roast chicken, with a combination of Preserved Lemon, Za'atar and Honey Roast Chicken. The honey was a last minute and yet wonderful addition to an impromptu rub; it helped to add a golden glaze and to crisp up the chicken. The roast chicken, took the normal to the extraordinary, the preserved lemon and it's juices helped to keep the chicken moist with a slight hint of citrus, the za'atar added an additional depth and the honey further flavour. You must give this a shot. 


Ingredients
1 large organic chicken
1/2 preserved lemon
2 tablespoon preserved lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayene pepper
2 tablespoon za'atar
2 tablespoon runny honey

Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 5. Insert the preserved lemon in the chicken cavity. In a mug, add the preserved lemon juices, salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, za'atar and honey and give this a good whisk until everything is mixed well. Using your hands, smoother the chicken all over with the marinade. Place the chicken in a large oven tray and cover with foil. Cook for 30 minutes, then remove the foil from the oven tray. Cook for additional 40 minutes, or until when a skewer enters the chicken thigh, the juices run clear. 

xxx

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Monday, 29 February 2016

100 Best Jewish Recipes Review and Giveaway

What's Jewish cooking? I had no idea, I heard that bagels were Jewish, but that's about it. The UK has a large Jewish community in the UK (the second largest in Europe) but yet this cuisine is something new to me. If I had to sum up what I consider Jewish cuisine to be, I would state that the cuisine is diverse, with influences from the Middle East and Europe. In fact, in 100 Best Jewish Recipes: Modern Classics, From Everyday Meals To Food For Special Occasions there are influences from the variety of countries where Jewish communities have migrated to. I certainly think that a lot of the recipes are more Middle Eastern inspired, which is understandable given to the positioning of Israel.  The recipes featured in 100 Best Jewish Recipes are accessible, I am familiar with the majority of the ingredients used in the book and you are like to be access the majority of the required ingredients in your local supermarket. There is a wonderful introduction of Jewish cooking culture, such as the dietary laws, kosher cooking and eating on the Sabbat, alongside the Jewish Festivals. As a lover of all things cultural, I was fascinated. This book is great for accessible, flavoursome and culturally diverse recipes. 


Roast Chicken, Jewish style


Beetroot Borscht 

Oven Fried Chicken

The chapters are split into the following:
  • Small Plates: Recipes to try include: Hummus B'tahina with toasted pine nuts, chicken liver pate Jewish style and Syrian Cheese Puffs.
  • Soups: recipes that appealed to me are: mother's milchike soup, borscht on the rocks and taratour (herbed yoghurt and cucumber soup).
  • Poultry: Recipes to try include Oven-Fried Chicken, Moroccan Chicken Pilaff With Fruit and Nuts and Roast Chicken With Pine Nuts.
  • Meat: Recipes to try include Pan-Seared Rib Steak, Gefilte Paprika (stuffed peppers, Hungarian Style) and Le Gigot Qui Pleure (Kosher-style rolled shoulder of lamb). 
  • Fish: Stand out recipes include: Golden Fillets of Mackerel With A Clementine and Cucumber Salad, Salmon Kedgree and Samak Kebab and Grilled Trout with Sesame Sauce. 
  • Vegetables Dishes and Sides: Recipes that I'll be trying first are Israeli Salad, Caponata Alla Sicilana and Badinjan Kuku (Persian Aubergine Fritatta)
  • Bread, Bakes and Desserts: Standout recipes include bagels, challah, Lithuanian Chocolate and Nut Torte. 
  • Basics
Recipe for Borscht On The Rocks
Serves 6
Ingredients
2 bunches of young beetroots or 600g old beetroot
1 onion
1 carrot
1 3/4 pints of hot water plus 2 vegetable stock cubes
10 grinds of black pepper
1 tbsp sugar

To Thicken
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs
100ml soured cream

Method 
Have ready a large saucepan. Trim the beets, wash thoroughly and peel only if old. Peel he onion and the carrot. Cut all the vegetables into roughly 2.5cm/1 in chunks, then process in two batches until very finely chopped. Put in the pan with the water, pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the liquid is rich, dark red.

Pour the contents through a coarse strainer into a bowl and discard the vegetables. Return the strained beet juice to the pan and leave on a low heat.  Put the lemon juice and eggs into the food processor and process for 5 seconds until well mixed. With the motor running, pour two ladles of the hot beet through the feed tube and process for a further 3 seconds, then add to the beet juice in the pan and heat gently, whisking constantly with a batter whisk or balloon whisk until the soup is steaming and thickened slightly. Do not let it boil or it will curdle. Taste and adjust the seasoning so that there is a gently blend of sweet and sour.
Cool, then chill thoroughly. Just before serving, whisk in the cream. 

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Saturday, 30 January 2016

Chicken Liver Pate

I love meat and have grown, through my love of food, a greater respect for animal products that I eat. I never really took the time to think of the process it takes to slaughter an animal, I knew it happened, but when you are buying chicken breasts, or the supreme cuts of meat from the supermarket, you can become desensitised with the process. I have adopted a "nose to tail" philosophy, in part inspired by April Bloomingfield's philosophy, in that no part of an animal should be wasted. Although this recipe is not her beloved pork, I've used an overlooked piece of chicken, the livers. Cheap, delicate and full of flavour, I used this part of the chicken to make the classic, chicken liver pate, with seasonal pears and a leafy salad. This dish would make a lovely lunch, or light evening meal. My pate lasted for 7 days in my fridge, so you can nibble your way trough this throughout the week. 






Ingredients

200g butter, (reserve half, 100g)
1 onion, skin removed and sliced.
1 apple, stem removed and diced.
1 tsp fresh age
400g chicken liver
2 tbsp creme fraiche
4 tbsp dark rum

Method
Melt half the butter in a frying pan, and the onion and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring, until soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the chicken livers and apple, cook for around 5 minutes. The livers should  be brown on the outside and pink on the inside. Add the creme fraiche, sage and rum and cook for a further minute. Salt and Pepper to taste. Transfer 1/2 the chicken livers, apple and the 1/2 remaining butter to a food processor and pulse to a paste, add the remaining butter and pulse further - try not make this become too liquidy. Transfer to a sterilised jar and 3 tbsp of the butter in pan. Leave to cool and chill in the fridge.
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Thursday, 16 July 2015

Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken

Quick, easy, fuss free and the oven does all the hard work, that's the sort of dish I'm after a long day at  work. I still want to eat well, but I just haven't got the energy to be slaving over the stove. I've found that a bit of preparation goes a long way, meat seasoned the night before and quick accompaniments makes an otherwise stressful midweek meal to stress-free heaven. I'm sure most of you have tried honey and mustard chicken before, this is that dish, but given an exotic twist with the addition of pomegranate seeds. I adore pomegranate seeds and many people are surprised to know that pomegranates grow in the Caribbean so this is something I have eaten since a child. I often chuck a handful over cooked chicken to add a sweet taste to the ol bird. With this evening meal, I added the pomegranate seeds 5 minutes before the cooking time had completed. The result is a spicy, sweet and fruity evening meal.
Here is how my Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken. 
Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken.

Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken.


Mustard and Pomegranate Baked Chicken.

Recipe adapted from Leiths How to Cook.
Serves 4
30g butter, softened.
2tbsp Dijon mustard.
1tsp caster sugar.
1tsp paprika.
1/2 lemon.
8 chicken pieces.
80g pomegranate seeds.

Method
Heat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6
Put the butter, mustard, sugar and paprika in a small bowl. Juice the 1/2 lemon, add to the bowl and mix to a smooth paste. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side down in a shallow roasting tin.
Spread half of the mustard paste over the chicken pieces. Season well with salt and pepper and bake in the oven for 15 minutes
Turn the chicken pieces over to skin side up, spread with the remaining mustard paste and sprinkle with pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. To check that the chicken is cooked, remove the piece to a plate and cut down to the bone on the non-skin side; the juices should run clear. 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time, scatter the pomegranate seeds over the chicken pieces.
Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving dish. Pour over any pan juices.

Enjoy.
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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Classic Cobb Salad plus Giveaway.

I'm all for a good salad, but it has to be filling. I'm not one for a plate of lettuce, tomatoes and spring onions. How boring. Instead, I like my salads to be filled with a variety of ingredients, appealing to the eye, a combination of meat and leafy vegetables with some dairy thrown in the mix. I've been trying to have more salad, mainly at lunchtime, as I can easily get into a repetition or a cycle for a better word of eating the same sort of lunch until I become tired of it. I do hope to grow from liking salad to loving salad and for it to be included as the main show for my evening meal and not as a small starter a prerequisite of better things to come Whilst I'm getting there, I spent an evening gathering some of my salad books (it seems kind of weird to have several salad books but not love salad, but that's being a cook book addict) and writing down some recipes that I must try in Spring-Summer 2015. Harry Eastwood's A Salad For All Seasons, came out on top with the variety of salad recipes to try and this Classic Cobb recipe coming a resounding top. Not sure what a Classic Cobb salad, well Harry states that this salad originated in California in the Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant and is a combination of greens, eggs, chicken and cheese). 
I thoroughly enjoyed the different flavours, textures and the colourful presentation of the salad which was served with a beautiful salad dressing. My version of this recipe is slightly different as I did not have all the ingredients at hand, however it still taste scrumptious. I used my trusted OXO Good Grips Salad Dresser. Dressings made in this salad shaker can last up to 3 days (perfect for salads in the following days) in the fridge and makes a fashionable to your kitchen table. 
Here is how my version of the Classic Cobb Salad.
Classic Cobb Salad

Classic Cobb Salad

Classic Cobb Salad
Recipe for Classic Cobb Salad
440 Calories per portion
2 1/2 of your five a day

Serves 6
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
1 medium avocado cut into squares
salt and pepper, to taste
3 large eggs, boiled for 7 minutes
200g streaky smoked bacon salad
2 onions
2 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp vegetable oil
8 medium, ripe tomatoes on the vine
6 handfuls romaine lettuce, washed and roughly torn
6 handfuls watercress leaves torn from the stem
200g roasted chicken meat, roughly torn
100g mature cheddar cheese, shaved with a potato peeler

For the dressing
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 small garlic cloves, minces
4 tbsp walnut oil
a good pinch of salt.

Method
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a salad shaker (I use Oxo Good Grips) and give a good shake. Taste and season if needed.
Squeeze the 1/2 lemon over the avocado chunks and toss to coat. Season well with salt and pepper. Peel the eggs and roughly chop them.
Fry the bacon in a large, dry frying pan. Once cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Lightly wipe the pan with paper but don't ah it.
Next toss the onion slices in the flour. Heat the vegetable oil in the pan and fry the onion slices over a high heat until golden and crisp all over. Set aside.
Cut the tomatoes across the waist and scoop out the seeds and middle with a teaspoon. Roughly chop the flesh and discard the seeds.
Toss the leaves in half the salad dressing and arrange at the bottom of your serving platter. Next, add the seasoned avocado, followed by the tomatoes, chicken, bacon, chopped eggs, fried onions and cheese. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over and serve. When helping yourself, make sure you dig in and get a bit of everything.

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Botanist, Birmingham Review.

I never heard of The Botanist restaurant before, although I have, of course, heard of Botanical gardens so after doing some research I had some idea of what to expect when the lovely people at The Botanist invited me to their media lunch. Located at the trendy part of the city (14-16 Temple Street) and with opening times from 12 noon - 12am (2 am over the weekend), this is one of the must visit restaurants in the second city.  The Botanist's motto is "concept like no other, offering soon to be world-famous selection of botanical cocktails, craft beers and ales, champagne and wine. Food inspired by the deli, rotisserie and BBQ. With live music every night, sublime social times are guaranteed".  As I walked up Temple street and found the outside of the restaurant, I was instantly impressed with the beautiful decor outside such as the beautiful outdoor steel, the style and design of the chairs in what I consider to be the al fresco area, the beautiful and diverse plants and the lighting: I could not wait to see what other delights I would find indoors. 

I was greeted by further beautiful lighting area and a very impressive bar area. I enjoyed watching the  stylish bar tenders mix and make all the gorgeous cocktails I almost forgot to order my cocktail! There is a comprehensive range of cocktails in the cocktail menu, such as the signature The Botanist (which I ordered), Cherry and Sage Sling, Passion Fruit and Basil Crush, The Chocolate Rose, Rose Cosmo and Strawberry Martini. Mmmm, such dazzling and tantalising flavour combinations there, but I chose the Botanist cocktail: it was fresh, cool, fashionable and classy. Most importantly, it tasted incredible, the elderflower and jasmine syrup really came through which helped to balance the vodka and Havana rum.






To me, there seemed to be two parts of the restaurant, the bar and live area, then the restaurant area, I'm unsure whether this was due to the media event, but either way, I felt it work. After a a chat with Lorna from Lets Eat First, I walked past a cool looking male singing and playing the guitar. The seating area is large, but the seating arrangement, felt cosy and quite intimate. After oohing and ahhing of the lighting above me, admiring the menu design, oh and other guests food, I began to order my own. For starters,  I ordered the chicken and rum liver pate (£5.95) and also sampled some of Lorna's pork scratchings (£3.50) and onion rings (£2.95). The presentation of each starter, in particular my chicken liver rum pate was revolutionary, inventive and the theme "Botanist" thoroughly in-cooperated in the presentation. I found my starter, presented in a mini plant pot, tasted luxurious, creamy and I loved the texture of the ginger biscuits on top of the pate. For my main course, I ordered The Botanist Deli Board, where you can chose 4 items out of a selection of 21 for £9.95. I chose the houmous, Greek salad, Coronation Chicken and Chorzio, all served with Turkish flatbread. And because I'm greedy I also ordered side dish of "properly seasoned chips". 









I admired Lorna and her sisters main course dishes the Hanging Kebabs (£10.50-£13.50) was visually impressive and the Lamb Tagine (£12.75) was vibrant and colourful. I decided to pass on ordering any desserts as I was absolutely stuffed, however for those who have appetite for dessert, the description for the Warm Chocolate Fudge Cake, Rum Baba and Banana and Coconut Kebab. 




Overall: The latest must place visit in Birmingham, fabulous cocktails, beautiful food and a vibrant environment.

Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of The Botanist.

The Botanist Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato xxx
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Monday, 30 March 2015

Hoar Cross Hall Luxury Spa Resort - Review

Hoar Cross Hall, Luxury Grade 2 Listed Spa Resort and Hotel, located in the heart of Staffordshire is probably the best known and most revered spa in the Midlands. I have heard friends talk about their visit to Hoar Cross Hall,  how fabulous the different steam rooms and facilities are and how relaxed they felt after visiting. I've heard all about the luxurious the treatments and how grand the rooms and the Italian gardens are, so this place has been on my "must visit place for 2015. When I saw a spa package deal on Secret Escapes earlier on this year I thought Christmas had come early. The spa package, for £200 included breakfast lunch and dinner and overnight stay for two people, which is some discount, considering the usual price for this package is  £160 per person. I booked this deal for a Monday night stay as I wanted to fully explore the spa on a relatively quiet day. 
On the day of my overnight stay, my expectations remained high and the driveway leading up to the spa was incredibly impressive. I felt I was approaching Downtown Abbey, so grand and regal was the imposing buildings and vast the land, I had a glimmer of what it would be like to be the lady of the manor.

Image courtesy of Hoar Cross Hall
There are two entrances to enter the spa, one for overnight stays and for day spas. As my nan and I were staying overnight, we enterd via the overnight stay entrance, as we entered we were greeted by beaming friendly staff, grand Italian chairs and fresh fruit. The following day, I spent time near the day entrance, which was equally grand with beaming staff, fresh fruit and Italian furniture. My only thought is that there were two separate entrances as the spa is located on lower ground level alongside the day entrance and the overnight spa entrance is nearer the bedrooms. Check in times were at 2pm and whereas in other hotels you can request to check in earlier, the sophisticated wrist band that we were given meant that the rooms could not be opened for check until 2pm. The spa access was granted from 11am and luggage could be held in storage which was handy as we arrived at 1pm. During check in, I was informed that tours of Hoar Cross Hall estate were available, but I decided to pass on this tour. 

Spa
There are two main areas for spa use: both areas have two beautiful 26 meter pools.  The first area has a steam room and sauna, jacuzzi with an adjourning relaxing lounge are I spent time briefly in there when visiting the steam room. I observed an aqua class occurring there, which looked like a lot of fun. I spent the majority of the time in the hydrotherapy section, where there was two powerful jacuzzis which operated on a 15 minute on and off basis. In the hydrotherapy section, there were four other spa sections; a back section, a foot massage section, power jet and the cold plunge which was only for the brave. The large swimming pool also has a cave style section, which although looked interesting I did not venture in there. I spent the first and following day mainly in the jacuzzi area I found this the most relaxing and I'm in love with the jacuzzi. The photos that I have taken are quite limited due to no photographs to be taken in the spa (I do hope they forgive me!), but I have also included some from their website. 
Spa area.

Image courtesy of Hoar Cross Hall.

Image courtesy of Hoar Cross Hall.


Treatments
There is a range of treatments available from manicures, pedicures, hair treatments, to facials and full body massages. I initially planned to have a hot stone back massage, but due to a recent horse riding accident, I had to give this plan a miss. My nan had a First Element Facial, which uses natural mineral products to address your needs and concern, resulting in a revived and rebalanced complexion. My nan spoke highly of how relaxing and revitalising this facial was and stated that I must have a facial the next time I visit the spa. The treatments range from £35 - £100. 

Food
I had high expectations of the food at Hoar Cross Hall, not because I was dining in a regal stately home, but because of the rave reviews friends have spoken about the gourmet culinary experience. As we arrived at 1pm, we ordered lunch from the champagne bar a chicken club sandwich and Staffordshire beef burgers, hand cut chips.
For the evening meal, there was a 3 course set meal. We ordered a pear and walnut salad and prawn and crab ravioli for starters, I felt the prawn and crab ravioli was nice but he sauce was lacking something. For the main courses we ordered the T Bone steak for a £6 supplement with homemade chips and the leg of lamb. The steak cooked medium, a perfect pink, succulent texture and the crispiness of the chips. My nan reported that the lamb was succulent, lightly seasoned and came of the bone. For dessert, I chose the passion fruit tart with a peppered meringue (the dessert name sounds oh so Michelin) and my nan chose mandarin cheesecake which having a mouthful I found this not to sweet, perfect creamy texture. The following day was breakfast and after a hearty evening meal, I decided to go light with granola jars and watermelon juice for breakfast. My nan chose the full English, which was reportedly traditional and delicious. For lunch, there was a buffet with a variety of hot dishes such as lamb stew, jacket potatoes, mini tarts and vegetables. There was also a selection of cold dishes of roasted vegetables and hummus, and a selection of cold salads. 

Lunch in the champagne bar.

Set menu for dinner.


Dining room area.

Breakfast and lunch.

Bedrooms
The bedrooms were also a beautiful feature of the package, each room is named using a princess or countess title which added to the regal element of the spa package. The standard room features a double bed or twin bed, Italian sofa, chair, television, dressing table and stool. The bathrooms were light and simplistic. Complimentary shower gels, body lotions and shower caps.  The majority of the rooms have views of the Italian gardens. I was in love with the Italian furniture and design throughout the rooms such as the curtains and the bedding. 
Bedroom.

Staff
All the staff were incredibly helpful, from the waiter to the receptionist to the handy man. No-one walked past without saying hello, which I feel is important. I just fell in love with the grounds and the beautiful decorations.
Vase.

Overall: This is a fabulous spa break in the heart of Midlands if you desire rest and relaxation.

Disclaimer: I paid for this via Secret Escapes, I was not asked to write a review, but thought I would share how fabulous this spa is. 

xxx
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Friday, 20 March 2015

Crunchy Nut Chicken

I'm such a big fan of Lisa Faulkner's The Way I Cook cookery book, the recipes are easy to make and taste delicious. This recipe, in it's original form was cornflake chicken which immediately caught my eye when I brought this book. I amended the original recipe and used crunchy nut as it was the only cereal I had at the time. Apparently coating chicken in cornflakes and rice krispies was in vogue in the 1980's he decade I was born, but by the time I was a little older, it was a dish no longer in fashion. I was puzzled why would anyone coat chicken pieces with cereal, but as they say, don't knock something until you try it. I found using the crunchy nut added a moerish sweet element and was a healthier alternative of one of my favourite dishes, fried chicken. I think this dish is fab for children and for grown ups who want a quick and tasty meal. 
Here is how my Crunchy Nut Chicken turned out:
Crunchy Nut Chicken

Crunchy Nut Chicken pre cook.

Crunchy Nut Chicken
Recipe for Crunchy Nut Chicken.
Ingredients
Serves 4-6
Olive oil
250g crunchy nut cornflakes
1 egg
50g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
125ml milk
1 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
8 skinless chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks or a mixture)
sea salt and pepper
salad and garlic, mayonnaise, to serve.

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 and lightly grease 2 baking sheets with olive oil.
Pour the crunchy flakes into a large sandwich bag; seal and then lightly crush with a rolling pin. Pour into a large flat dish or roasting tin and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, flour, milk and cayenne pepper until smooth. Put the chicken pieces into a bag with dusting flour and plenty of salt and pepper. Seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken evenly.
Dip each chicken piece in the egg and milk mixture first and then roll it in the crushed cornflakes, making sure each piece is evenly coated.
Lay the coated chicken on the prepared baking trays and then transfer to the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Serve with a side salad and some garlic mayonnaise.

xxx
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