Thursday, 24 May 2018

Chaophraya Restaurant Review

Located in Saint Martins Square, Chaporhya restaurant is one of Birmingham's leading restaurants specialising in Thai cuisine. The two floor restaurant is fantastically located in the heart of the Bull ring and features outdoor seating. Inside, the decor is light, striking and there is a chefs cooking area where you can watch the chefs prepare your meal. The feel of the restaurant is light, airy and welcoming.

Image from the Bullring website

Image from the bull ring 

The restaurant is ideal if you fancy a quick drink with friends or want to do business with colleagues as there are flexible spaces and a private room. Chaoporhya also offers Thai masterclasses if you want to become a culinary expert in Thai cook. The waiting  staff were attentive and helpful, they were able to offer recommendations and suggestions for the new menu.

Chaophraya has a brand new menu which is worth checking out. To start off with, I ordered the Grilled Pork Skewers £7.45, pork marinated with coconut milk, coriander, garlic, palm sugar, honey & oyster sauce. My friend  ordered the Thai Fish Cakes £7.95, spicy fish cakes blended with green beans, lime leaves and red curry with a sweet chilli sauce and crushed peanuts. Both starters were beautifully presented and tasted delicious. The pork was tender and the dipping sauce complimented it well. My friend said the fish cakes were crispy on the outside and deliciously soft on the inside.

For our main courses I ordered Prawn Pad Thai £11.95, the national dish of Thailand, restaurants own famous recipe of Thai rice noodles, stir-fried with egg, vegetables and tamarind sauce. The Prawn Pad Thai had a fiery kick to is and the prawns were succulent. I liked how the tamarind had a tangy flavour. The portion size looked deceptive small but I was pleasantly surprised at how filling the Pad Thai was.

My friend ordered the Royal Sous Vide Lamb Massaman Curry £14.95, Caramelised slow cooked lamb, with home-style massaman curry, coconut milk, carrots and potatoes topped with crispy shallots and cashew nuts. The steamed Jasmine Rice £3.45 was served separately.  My friend said that the curry had a good balance of flavours. 

A lovely dish of what I can only describe as Thai fried chicken, crispy chicken pieces marinated in Thai spices and deep fried was also served. I really enjoyed the crispy fried chicken and could of teen much more.

For desserts my friend and I shared the coconut milk pudding £7.45, A Creamy Rich Coconut Milk Pudding, Served with Sweet Coconut Milk and Toasted Coconut. We also ordered the Sticky Thai Rice £7.45, sweet sticky classic fragrant sweet mango, with sticky rice and warm coconut sauce. I'll be honest the milk pudding was not what I was expecting as it was very wobbly. I much preferred the sticky rice with mango.

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of Chaophraya.



Sunday, 6 May 2018

April 2018 Monthly Eatings

Another month, more fantastic restaurants to indulge in. I visited restaurants in Stafford and Wolverhampton in April.

Zizzi Stafford 

Bella Italia Wolverhampton

The Crown, Wergs Road

Fiume Restaurant Wolverhampton

Chiquitos Wolverhampton


Friday, 4 May 2018

Vegetarian 101 Recipes Celebrating Fresh Seasonal Ingredients Review

This classic vegetarian book by Alice Hart has recently been reissued. The first edition published in 2011 was a classic and critically acclaimed cookery book specialising in Vegetarian cuisine. There are many vegetarian and vegan cookery books being released at the moment, but this book in my opinion will be a classic. There are a number of fresh and delicious recipes which challenges people to change the way they think about vegetarian cooking. I like the flavour combinations and innovative recipes used throughout and although the recipes are innovative, the recipes are accessible. The cookery book has a sleek design with illustrations on the cover and there are a number of accompanying recipes. Vegetarian is currently retailing at £9.99  and is a welcome addition for any discerning cook. 

The cookery book is split into the following chapters:
  • Breakfast and Brunch, recipes to try include: Pear and Walnut Bircher Muesli and Blackberry Milkshake.
  • Small Bites: stand out recipes include Cumin Potato Skins and Guacamole Salsa, Spring Vegetable Pakoras and Pressed Leek Terrine with Dijon Rice.
  • Big Salads: recipes to try include Warm Salad of Slow-Roast Tomatoes and Labne on Murjadhara, Blood Orange, Mozzarella, Toasted Sourdough and Radicchio Salad.
  • Soups: Stand out recipes include: Summer Minestrone , Beetroot and Porcini Broth.
  • Breads: Recipes to try include: Quick Soda Bread and Pizza Bianca.
  • Fast: Stand out recipes include: Chilli and Crushed Walnut Rigatoni, Potato Cakes with Olives and Poached Eggs and Cashew Fried Rice.
  • One Pots and Bakes: Stand out recipes include: Malaysian Egg Curry and Mushroom Basil Lasagne.
  • Special: Recipes to try include: Pan-Fried Mushrooms and Sour Cherries and Rich Almond Tart. 
There's also handy bits in this cookery book such as sharing a variety of tomato recipes, salad toppings and flavoured water. So far, I've made the Camembert, Watercress and Marinated Figs with Walnut Dressing. Not only was this salad incredibly fresh and light. 

Recipe for Camembert, Watercress and Marinated Figs with Walnut Dressing.
Serves 4
200ml balsamic vinegar
100g caster sugar
2 garlic cloves, brushed
6 thyme sprigs
6 plump figs, halved length ways
4 tablespoon walnut oil
a large handful of watercress, thick stalks trimmed
150g ripe Camembert or brie, sliced
75g walnuts

Place the vinegar, sugar, garlic and 4 of the thyme sprigs in a saucepan and add 100ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute to dissolve the sugar and cook out some of the vinegary flavour. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then pour the halved figs and leave to marinate for an hour or two.
Discard the thyme sprigs and garlic from the marinade and spoon 5 tablespoons into a small lidded jar. Strip the leaves from the remaining 2 thyme sprigs and add to the jar with the walnut oil, a little salt and plenty of pepper. Screw on the lid and shake well until combined to make a dressing.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and sear the drained figs, cut sides down for a minute or so until they caramelise. Remove the pan from the heat, turn the figs over and set aside.
Put the watercress in a large bowl and drizzle with a little of the dressing , tossing to coat the leaves. Add the Camembert or brie, walnuts and divide among serving plates. Spoon the remaining dressing over each plate of salad.

Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publishers.


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Lost and Found Review

The Lost and Found is a stunning, botanical restaurant that was recently refurbished and reopened with a brand new menu and decor. Located in Bennets Street and Grand Central Station, in the heart of Birmingham, the restaurant sells an array of fabulous cocktails and British classics with a twist. The outside decor is deceptive from the outside. I did not realise how grand the restaurant would be inside. The waitress who served us was attentive and polite and could make a number of recommendations what to order from the cocktail and food menu. The inside interior is decadent with gorgeous chandeliers, sweeping stairways. Although the restaurant is large, it also has an upstairs seating area, it also had a cosy feel towards it. First things first, I couldn't visit without sampling a lovely cocktail starting with a penny for the cat (gin, prosecco,  lemon juice, almond syrup & cranberry juice) cocktail £8.95. My friend ordered Storm Bronte (Havana 3 yo rum, Havana club especial, passion fruit, lime juice and blood orange) £8.25.

For the starters I ordered Smoked Salmon, Gin & Tonic Pickled Cucumber, Lemon Cream Cheese and Malted Brown Bloomer £8.50. The starters portion was incredibly generous the salmon was complimented well with the lemon cream cheese. My friend ordered the crispy salami bruschetta with whipped ricotta and fennel £7. My friend shared that the salami was perfectly cured and the portion size also generous.

For our mains, I ordered Chicken Milanese with a sourdough crumb, caper & parsley butter with a fried egg £12. I also ordered a side dish  of £3.50 fried potatoes, garlic mayonnaise & rosemary and also a Caesar salad £3.50. The Chicken Milanese was crispy on the outside and tender within. Shaped in a heart shape, the presentation was innovative. Also, the Chicken Milanese was the largest chicken breast I have ever seen or ate in my life - it was gigantic.  I'm not sure the purpose of the egg, but the caper & parsley butter added a gorgeous flavour combination.  My friend also ordered Cured Fillet of Salmon £14 served with Caesar salad topped with anchovy croutons. A side of fried potatoes was also ordered. My friend said that the salmon was fresh and light and perfectly seared.

I have a sweet tooth, so for pudding, I ordered the Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding with spiced toffee sauce and clotted cream £6. My friend ordered the  Millionaire's Shortbread £8 with dark chocolate, sticky  whisky caramel, honeycomb and a rich chocolate ice-cream. The sticky toffee pudding was rich and indulgent - exactly how a sticky toffee pudding should be. 

I would definitely visit here again, not only is this place great for cocktails but also the food is pretty amazing too.

Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Lost and Found.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Barista School at 200 Degrees Review

A few weeks ago, I received an invite to check out the barista school at 200 degrees coffee shop in Birmingham with a couple of fellow bloggers. I love coffee, but I'm more of an instant coffee type of girl. Although I like to have the occasional cappuccino, latte and frappuchino at a coffee shop, I'm not one to visit coffee shops several times a week. As much as I love coffee, I know very little in the art of making a proper coffee using ground beans. So when I received the invite, I had to take the offer so I can go back to a classroom and learn all I need to know on how to make the perfect barista.

First thing is 200 Degrees is an independent coffee shop with a few shops across the Midlands. The shop that I visited was located on Colmore Row, in the heart of Birmingham. 200 Degrees have two floors, the first floor is where you can buy luscious coffee and lunch, on the ground floor is where they host the barsita class. The barista class is held once a month and is held in a light and airy room.

The knowledgeable teacher for the barista class was Alex who expertly taught myself and other keen bloggers the art of making barista. Also part of the class is learning all about the history of coffee, where in the world coffee is made, the process it goes through before it becomes much loved coffee beans and arrives in the UK. I found the information about the history of coffee informative, yet relaxed, knowledgeable and Alex expertly  answered all our many questions.

After our coffee lesson, we got to sample the coffee that is made on the professional coffee machines which cost a whopping £3,000. The bloggers first learnt all about the difference between a good and bad espresso. After we were taught about the importance of collaboration of water and crushing the coffee beans when making an espresso, I was given the opportunity to make my own espresso. Now, having never crushed my own coffee beans before, I initially struggled with using the coffee machine  I certainly didn't have the nack initially. However, once I realised how to do this, I was making several espressos - they were strong but good.

Following our successful go at making an espresso, we began to make lattes.

After we learnt how to make lattes, the group settled with a luscious light lunch. I must say the sandwiches and cakes were absolutely delicious.

Have I tempted you enough to treat yourself to a barista class? If so, check out 200 Degree Barista Schools website where you can book and learn how to be a master barista. 

Disclaimer: I was invited to check out the barista class from 200 Degrees. All opinions are my own. 


Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Green Burgers by Martin Nordin Review

When I think of burgers I automatically think of juicy, succulent beef burgers, full of fat and flavour. I occasionally think of chicken burgers, although they are not as superior as beef burgers, but cooked and seasoned right, a chicken burger  can be a wonderful thing. But green burgers? In all honesty healthy nutritious burgers was not the forefront of my mind, but when I saw the press release for Green Burgers, I knew I had to check it out. The cookery book by Martin Nordin showcases the art of
the ultimate veggie burger, creating original and interesting combinations of a vegetarian burger.
As there is a growing movement to eat more vegetarian food there are a number of inspiring recipes such as pulled sweet potato burger with feta cheese, marjoram and black vinegar mix , baba ganoush and barlotti burger with burrata and fried tomatoes. Green Burgers is currently available from Amazon for £10.22 and with so many innovative recipes it is definitely worth the cost. 

There is a range of stunning accompanying pictures for many of the burger recipes. 

Burgers: There are many interesting recipes to check out: Deep fried Mushroom and Quinoa Burger with Purple Sauerkraut and Garlic Mayonnaise, Black Bean Burger with Cheddar and Caramelised Onions, Black Bean Burger with Baba Ghanoush, Grilled Spring Onions and Roasted Pine Nuts, Twirled Aubergine Burger with Homemade Tomato Ketchup and Caramelised Onions, Chickpea and Grilled Pepper Burger with Dill-Dunked Cucumber Salad
Burger Buns: Recipe to try include: Sweet Potato Buns, Poolish-Based Burger Buns and Brioche Buns.
Side Orders: Stand out recipes to try include: Deep-Fried Sweet Potato Crisps, Double Deep-Fried Chips Dunked in Cheese and Fresh Herbs and Barbecued Corn on the Cob with Garlic Butter. 
Pickles, condiments and other accompaniment: Recipes to try include: Garlic Mayonnaise, Pickled Gherkins and Pickled Red Onions.

So far, I've made the BBQ Portobello Burger which was very fill in and flavoursome. 

Recipe for BBQ Portobello Burger with Caramelised Onions and Saint Agur Cheese.

For the 6 burgers
4 grilled and steamed spring onions.
600g portobello mushrooms
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 tbsp butter
100g sourdough bread
300ml BBQ sauce
2 eggs

Caramelised onions
2 onions
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

To serve
120g Saint Agur or other creamy blue cheese
6 burger buns
butter for buns
finely chopped fresh chives

Grill and steam the spring onions. Cut the mushrooms into 5mm (1/4 inch) cubes. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the mushrooms and fry them so that they take on colour, for 10-15 minutes.
Chop the steamed spring onions and add them and the garlic to the mushrooms in the pan. Add the butter, reduce the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes, stirring. Remove the frying pan from the heat and allow it to cool a little. Then add the bread, BBQ sauce and eggs. Stir so that everything is well combined.
Take a handful of mixture at a time and shape into 6 round patties, either by hand or using a food ring. Put the patties in the fridge for at least an hour preferably longer, then they will hold together better when you fry them.
Peel and chop the onions for the caramelised onion mix. Put the chopped the onions and the butter into a cold saucepan. Cook over a medium heat and put the lid on.
The onions will soon start to release liquid, and the flavours will be concentrated a a result of their cooking in their own juices. Stir with a wooden spoon about once every 5 minutes for 30-40 minutes, and check that they are not burning (If you notice they're starting to get too dry you can add the vinegar earlier).
Pour on the vinegar, increase the heat and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring until considerably reduced. Put to one side.
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/GAS mark 4) using the grill function.
Heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the patties for a few minutes on both sides, until they develop a nice colour and a crispy surface. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and grill in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
Put little cheese on each patty and cook for a little longer in the oven, until the cheese has melter. This won't take long, so keep an eye on them.
Butter the buns on the cut surface and fry them quickly in a frying pan or grill them in the oven.
Place a patty on bottom of each bun. Splash on a heaped spoonful of he onion mix and top with chives.

Disclaimer, I received a copy of Green Burgers for review purposes. 

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Stellar Electric Wok Review

A few weeks back I received one of the latest products from leading kitchenware suppliers Stellar, an electric wok. I was very intrigued to review an electric wok as I've never seen one before. The new Stellar Electric Wok, is much more than a wok. The 35cm diameter makes it perfect for entertaining and is easy use in the kitchen and large enough to easily prepare a stir fry for a family of over 4. The wok is also non stick which ensures easy clean up and as it has large carrying handles,  once the power cord is detached you can serve straight to the table.

The Stellar Electric Wok has variable heat temperatures from level 1 = 90C to level 5 190C and it achieves the high temperatures associated with traditional wok cooking. I found the wok incredibly versatile as it can be used to shallow fry, braise and stew. So far, I've made a stir fry as expected and everything cooked incredibly quickly. I have also used the electric wok to make a one pot African dish, jollof rice. The typical selling price is about £50 but shop around you may find it cheaper. It's available here. I think this wok is worth every penny and make a great investment piece.

Other great facts about the electric wok is:

  • Fast - Circular heating element for a quick, even heat
  • Vented glass lid - Allows you to steam your food.
  • Cook then serve at the table, thanks to the detachable cable and cool to touch handle. 
  • Easy to clean
  • 2 year domestic electric guarantee. 

Disclaimer: I was kindly sent the electric wok by Stellar for review purposes.
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