Monday, 30 December 2013

Elephant and Castle Hotel, Newtown, Powys.

I'm sure many of you have enjoyed the annual work Christmas meals out with colleagues over the festive season. I'm always intrigued to what restaurants will offer this time of the year, and whether they will offer the traditional turkey and Christmas pudding or will they completley take customers by surprise with an unusual twist or take on traditional dishes. When the Elephant and Castle Hotel in Newtown, Powys, was chosen as the venue for my works Christmas too, I was not expecting great food, as my previous experience of eating in hotel restaurants has been disastorous.
The Christmas menu was £25 for a three course meal and evening entertainement which I considered to be good value for money. The location of the hotel is situated on  the main high street in Newtown,  and is directly behind the Elephant and Castle pub and we had to approach the hotel via the pub.
Initally when I walked into the pub, I hoped that I wouldn't be eating my meal in there as it was a typical "pub" and as this was the first time I visited I was unsure where the hotel part would be located. Luckily, our group were quickly escorted into the hotel where groups of different people who were also  having their work Christmas meal were taking their seats.
The room where the meal was served was incredibly light; the walls were white and appropriately festivly decorated. Within 20 minutes of being seated, several fresh bread baskets were placed on each table. The smell of the fresh bread quickly filled the room, and I was impressed with the large chunks of bread and that the bread certainly looked "homemade". For my starter, I chose smoked salmon and prawns which was served with a slice of toasted bread and a wedge of lemon. There was plenty of salmon for the starter and I could tell that it was a premium quality of salmon due to the taste, texture and appearance. The prawns were quite small and was hidden underneath the salmon; I would have prefered king prawns to match the portion of salmon that was given. My colleague ordered the eggs benedict, which I thought looked far more superior and tantaslising compared to my starter, and my colleague reported that her starter was divine and decadent.

Elephant and Castle Hotel
The main event, or should I say the main course was turkey breast with stuffing, chipolotas and roast potatoes. Alternatives offered was roast beef, leg of lamb and a vegetarian option which was a spinach and feta cheese filo pie. My turkey was moist, succulent and tender and the roast potatoes were cooked through and crispy. All mains were served with a selection of seasonal vegetables, unfortunately the sprouts were not cooked properly and were unedible, but the broccoli and carrots were cooked properly and I gladly piled the cooked vegetables on my plate.

Elephant and castle.

The piece de resistance was the chocolate torte, which was (a shocker) too rich for me. The presentation of the torte was sublime and the torte was served with ice cream and a berry sauce.  I absolutely adore chocolate, chocolate cakes and bakes, but I found this to be chocolatey, if there is such as thing, too dense and too rich. I managed to eat half of this but had to hold up the white flag and left the remainder.

Having my Christmas meal here has changed my opinion on hotel restauarnats and would perhaps dine out at more hotel restaurants following my experience.

Positives - Good value for money, food was presented well, food was pleasant, the restaurant was light.
Negatives - The sprouts were not cooked properly.

I reviewed this restaurant because I love good food and am addicted to eating out.



Thursday, 11 July 2013

Turkey meatballs

As part of my healthier eating plan I have been trying to find more creative ways to make my favourite dishes lower in fat or carbohydrate or both. Turkey mince is readily available in supermarkets and is a great alternative to the higher in fat, beef mince. I've been flicking through my favourite cook book, Nigella Kitchen and came across this recipe for turkey meatballs in tomato sauce. I was pondering for a long time whether turkey meatballs would be edible, let alone taste nice (I've been accustomed to beef mince for such a long time). I think what helped this dish is the use of seasoning and slow cooking. I served my turkey meatballs with vegetables and one slice of garlic bread, so my meal was super healthy (well except for the garlic bread) and tasted nice too.
Here is how my turkey meatballs turned out:

The recipe for turkey meatballs can be found when you click on the recipe link.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Maple syrup hot dogs and Cajun turkey wraps.

I'm all for quick and easy evening meals and that's where some of the BBC Good Food books come in handy.  One of my favourite books from the series which I have resurrected is BBC Good Food 30 Minute Suppers, available from Amazon and some Asda stores. I picked this cook book up for £3 and this  contains 100 recipes. This cook book is divided into 6 chapters:
*Quicker than a takeaway
*Keep the kids happy
* Superhealthy but super-quick
*Meat-free favourites
* Easy Entertaining
* Something Sweet

Both of my two recent creations from this book is under the chapter "keep the kids happy" which shows how much I am a young kid at heart. The Maple syrup hot dogs were super easy, I used good quality pork sausages, drizzled with maple syrup and baked these in the oven for around 40 minutes, turning over half way through the cooking. The reason why this took longer than the 30 minutes, is I do not have the best cooker, but with most good cookers the sausages could cook in 30 minutes. I then placed the sausages in baguettes and served with a side salad, simple easy and delicious.
Maple syrup hot dogs

The Cajun turkey wraps turned into Cajun turkey baguettes as unfortunately my tortilla wraps had bits of mould (oops). However, the turkey baguettes tasted delicious and was cheap and healthy quick mid week meal.
Cajun turkey baguettes

Here is the link to maple syrup hotdogs and cajun turkey wraps


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Turkey club burgers

I must have been living under a rock the whole of my life, for I have not heard nor have come across a turkey club sandwich prior to buying my latest favourite book, The Burger, published by Love Food. Perhaps Club sandwiches which contain turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato are more common in America than in the UK. The closest sandwich I can think of to the turkey club is the BLT, bacon lettuce tomato, which I will probably in-cooperate into a burger some time soon.
The turkey club burgers are extremely easier to make, and I prefer to make burgers using chicken or turkey mince as there is not the risk of over kneading. I think the addition of the bacon added a crispiness and the lettuce and tomato must have contributed towards 1 out of my 5 a day so it was a winner all around.
Here is how my Turkey Club burgers turned out:
Turkey club burgers.

Turkey club burgers
Turkey club burgers

As you can see, I added a sprinkle of mature cheddar cheese and a leafy salad. I placed my burgers on toasted ciabbata bread, as per usual for a turkey club sandwich. This is yet another burger recipe which I will make again and again, and I thoroughly recommend this cook book for all the burger lovers out there.

Recipe for turkey club burgers
Makes 4
450g fresh turkey mince
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
6 bacon rashers
8 slices farmhouse/ciabatta bread, toasted
2-3 tbsp ranch - style dressing
lettuce leaves
tomato slices
(I always add 55g cooked long grain rice to the burger mixture as this prevents the burger falling apart when cooking).

1) Combine the turkey mince with the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper in a bowl. Divide the mixture into four equal-sized portions and shape each portion into a thick patty.
2) Cook the bacon under a grill for about 8 minutes, or until crisp.
3) Spread each slice of bread with about 1/2 a teaspoon of the ranch-style dressing.
4) Heat a frying pan, and fry the burgers on around 8 minutes each side.
5) Place each burger on a slice of the toasted bread, add the bacon, lettuce leaves and tomato slices, drizzle with a little more dressing and top with the remaining toasted bread. Serve immediately.


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Turkey and cranberry burgers

I certainly have posted many a burger recipe in my blog life time especially my low fat chicken burgers, my low fat turkey burgers, my mexican chicken burgers and my mushroom and chickpea burger. I also have made the classic beef burgers, but have not blogged about this. On my Facebook page, I have a whole album dedicated to burgers, which better shows my love for this dish.
This burger is quite unusual to my other burgers, as the recipe suggested to use rice in the ingredients. I can only suspect that the addition of 60g of rice is to add texture and to help bind the mixture together. It worked, and I would go far to say this is one of the best turkey burgers I have made. I decided to add the cranberry and burger sauce to the burger bun, as cranberry and turkey is not just for Christmas. This will be a definite flavour combination that I will be making time and time again in the future.
Here is how my turkey and cranberry burgers turned out:

I also added fries and jalapenos to my burgers, who would have thought my usual turkey and spring onion burgers could be transformed in such a beautiful way.
Recipe for turkey and cranberry burgers, adapted from my 1 Ingredient, 4 Ways cookbook (published by Marks and Spencers).
Ingredients - serves 4
55g rice
450g lean minced turkey
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground allspice
vegetable oil, for frying
salt and pepper
spring onion
cranberry sauce
burger sauce

Cook the rice in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain rinse under cold running water then drain well again.
Put the cooked rice and all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix together well. With wet hand, shape the mixture into four thick burgers.
Pour a little oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add the burgers and cook for about 10 minutes, turning them over several times until they are golden brown. Remove from the pan, and place the burgers in a burger bun, and top with a dollop of burger ketchup and a tablespoon of cranberry sauce.


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