Recipe: Sweet Potato Soup

I love a good soup. Warming, packed full of veggies, filling and so versatile. You can be ‘naughty’ and serve with a grilled cheese sandwich (try French Onion soup served with a Cheese Toastie – it’s a total game changer!). You can serve with some artisan sourdough for a smart lunch. You can eat it alone and feel very virtuous. It can be a starter, or a main meal in it’s own right. It can be drunk as a lunch at your computer, rushed between meetings. It can be enjoyed in bed on a sick day, or cosied up on the sofa on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Over colder months I eat a lot of soups – it’ a sure-fire way to warm me up midday, whilst remaining low calorie and (usually) low-carb. Whilst I don’t “diet” as such, I do try to make sure my lunches are lowish in calorie whilst still being filling. I’d just prefer to save my calories for a more exiting dinner! This soup fits the bill perfectly.

Absolutely crammed full of vitamins, it’s so, so tasty. The bold flavours trick you into feeling like you’re eating something more substantial (there’s nothing worse than a bland soup for making you feel unsatisfied and reaching for the biscuit tin!), whilst the sweet potato really does fill you up. You can even add red lentils to bulk it up even further. The red pepper and sweet potato is the perfect combination, livened up with a few key spices. Garnish with some extra chilli and you’ve got a perfect warming bowl of goodness.

Recipe (makes 4 lunch portions)

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, with as much skin peeled away as possible and the flesh roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 500ml vegetable stock

Heat a teeny tiny bit of oil in a pan, and fry the onion and celery gently for  5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and continue to fry for another couple of minutes. Increase the heat, add the pepper, sweet potato and stock then simmer for 20 or so minutes, or until the sweet potato is tender. Blitz the soup with a handblender (allow to cool slightly if your blender, like mine, has a tendency to splash liquid everywhere), and serve.

You could be fancy and add a swirl of yoghurt, perhaps some coriander, but it’s pretty good just as it is!

Are you a fan of soup? What’s your favourite recipe?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #29

Another Monday, another “Happy Things” post – although those with a good memory will have noticed that I’ve missed one or two of these. Whoops!

I’ve had a busy few weeks at work, a lot of blog events to go to (and write about) and I’ve been trying to take it a little easier in the evenings I have been at home. Comfort food, catching up with Masterchef and reading a few good books. Oh, and attempting to fix insanely massive tech issues on this blog (it was to the point my hosting company suspended my account and everything disappeared) and trying to deal with Photobucket giving me 30 days to save thousands of photos… yep these happy things posts just slipped my mind! It’s a shame as there’s been many happy things lately…

    1. My birthday! Sure I’m another year old, another year closer to finding grey hairs (I’m convinced I’ve actually gone slightly grey so I’ve upped my dyeing game lately!). But it was a great weekend spent with some of my best friends and my lovely family.
    2. And of course, a lot of food was eaten on said birthday weekend! I managed to tick off two restaurants from my ‘to visit’ list, including a delicious brunch and an *amazing* double carb pizza. Full reviews coming in the new year!
    3. Amazing gifts. I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging at all, but some of the gifts I received this year were truly magical. From a plant pot (can tell I’m getting old!) that fits in perfectly with the rest of my flat decor to a gorgeous Olivia Burton watch. I know I’m not the easiest person to buy for as well!
    4. A pretty good one-to-one with my manager. I don’t share a huge amount about my professional life here, but it’s been quite a tough few weeks at work so to find out I’m actually not screwing things up was a major thing for me recently! Now just to start thinking a bit more positively…
    5. Snow! Some of my colleagues were visiting from India at the time and had rarely, if ever, seen snow so it was super-exciting. Though I find snow at any time exciting!
    6. Opening my M&S Beauty Advent Calendar. I was worried it was’t going to be worth the money but I’ve been really impressed so far.
    7. A New Look Haul. I ordered myself a couple of jumpers and several skirts to update my winter wardrobe and now feel so much happier. I should probably through some older stuff away to make room though…
    8. Buying some really good quality meat. Now, I’m all for living ethically but equally I don’t particularly have any desire to be a vegetarian. Sure it works for some people, but I find I do feel an awful lot better when I eat meat. With that in mind we’re trying to eat slightly less of it, but make sure it’s coming from a better source. It’s costing is a bit more (and my birthday steaks made me pale as we went to pay) but it tastes SO much better. Pork in particular is a total game changer. Now to try and find a better source for fruit and veg – any recommendations?!
    9. Wine, wine, wine. This winter I’ve discovered I really like red wine. There’s a Romanian one I’ve been absolutely loving, but my go-to is a malbec. All the wine please!
    10. Ox Cheeks Braised in Red Wine. Combining two of my big loves – red meat and red wine. It was utter heaven served with celeriac mash and bacon-fried greens. Yum yum!
    11. A realllllyyyy yummy lunch at Bill’s. It’s not somewhere I visit often, but the cod and lentil dish I had was light and tasty and really hit the spot. The Molten Chocolate Bombe I had for dessert wasn’t quite so light, but was just as delicious.
    12. Watching Aladdin at the threatre. It was such a good performance, and the set and effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen on stage. Highly recommended!

What’s made you happy lately? What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

Life: Foodie Bucket List – The UK Version

So I’ve done the ‘home cooking’ bucket list, now it’s time for the UK version. Here’s a collection of the restaurants and places I most want to visit in the UK – by no means is it everything on my list, because that would be a VERY long blog post!

Instead this was just me sitting down for 5 minutes and listing down everything that first jumped into my head – because that’s probably the ones I want to do most, right?! Though realistically if I could just eat everything that would be wonderful…

  • Eat Lobster on the beach in North Berwick. This particular beach holds a special place in my heart, and I just know it would be a perfect meal.
  • Visit Sketch. If only to use the toilets!
  • Try the Hallomi Fries at KERB. My Instagram feed was full of them over the summer and they looked so damn tasty!
  • Eat at Wood Manchester. I actually met Simon (winner of 2015’s Masterchef) a few weeks back at an event run by Magnet kitchens. He was as lovely as he seemed on the show, and the dishes he cooked up were simply delicious – scallops and dahl, 18-hour pork belly, mackerel with goats curd and beetroot. I can only imagine what his restaurant’s food is like!
  • Head back to Pump Street Bakery for another doughnut. That’s how good it was!
  • Try some proper Ramen. Send me recommendations asap!
  • A foodie trip to Wales. I’ve been following Gourmet Gorro for a while and the restaurants he eats at make me jealous for two reasons. One, the food looks delicious. Two, the prices are insane compared to what I’m used to in London.
  • Try alllllll the burgers. Shake Shack, Bleecker Street and Patty & Bun are all vying for my next visit!
  • Eat pasta from a “bowl” of cheese. You can thank Rosie for that craving…
  • Tick off “London’s Most Instagrammable Desserts” – challenge accepted!
  • Visit Bao. It’s been on my list for so, so long and everything looks delicious!
  • Eat at The Fat Duck. Because it just sounds so amazing.
  • The new Copper & Ink (I’m anxiously awaiting their opening) also sounds right up my street. As does The Dairy in Clapham…

What foodie hotspots do you want to visit? What else should be on my list?

Recipe: My Ultimate Chocolate Brownies

This is not a recipe I share lightly. I’ve been making this recipe for yours, but have always kept it a closely guarded secret. You’ll understand when you make these, because they are far, far too good to share.

To me, the ultimate brownie is gooey. Not overly fudgey, but almost like a solid mousse. It needs a paper-thin crust on the top, slightly firmer sides, and a few chocolate chunks thrown in for good measure. It should be insanely chocolatey and rich, but not too sweet. It should absolutely NOT be crumbly and cakey.

And so this is my ultimate brownie. For a fudgier version, simply cook a little longer and keep in the fridge. For a cakier version, look elsewhere.

It’s insanely rich, to the point a square is a little too much, though cutting into 16 feels a little mean. It’s delicious served on it’s own, even better served with ice-cream. This particular batch were baked for a dinner party, and served with a tahini and honey ice-cream, sprinkled with crushed pistachios. Every bit as delicious as it sounds.

Trust me, if you’re a fan of a good brownie, make these. You won’t be disappointed.

Recipe (cuts into 9 or 16, depending on how generous you feel!)

  • 185g unsalted butter
  • 180g dark chocolate – I favour using Cadbury’s Bournville in brownies as it melts well, is a good price and I love the flavour
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder – I use raw cacoa powder, however if you use a normal cocoa powder I would recommend reducing the sugar by 10-15g.
  • 100g chocolate, chopped into chunks – we used more dark chocolate for these, but white chocolate works really well
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g golden caster sugar

Cream and line a 20cm square tin. Cut the butter into small cubes and tip into a medium bowl along with the dark chocolate. Melt slowly over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Once completely melted leave to cool to room temperature.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and add the sugar. Whisk together with an electric mixer (we used our KitchenAid) until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. The mix should be roughly doubled in volume. Slowly pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mix, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula until the mix is one colour – be careful not to knock too much air out of the egg mixture.

Sift over the flour and cocoa powder, and continue gently folding until you have a fudgy looking mix. Stir through the chocolate chunks, then add to the prepared tin. Bake at 160C for 25-30 minutes, or until just set (the middle of the mix should no longer wobble when you shake the tin) with a papery crust. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the tin, then lift out and cut. If you’re impatient, cutting whilst still warm will result in a gooey mess – still delicious, but not exactly presentable.

For me this is the perfect brownie – gooey and rich, in need of a spoon for be eaten. Add different types of chocolate chunks, stir in some walnuts – or even use as part of my S’more brownie recipe. You won’t be disappointed, except when you’ve finished the batch!

How do you like your chocolate brownies? What’s your go-to brownie recipe?

Life: A Food Lovers’ Christmas Gift Guide

At first I worried about what to include in this gift-guide – but in the end I’ve pretty much published my own wishlist (minus the odd MAC lipsticks and socks I’d included!). Some of these things I’ve since kindly received for my birthday (thank you to those generous friends and family!), some are still on my Christmas list, and some are waiting to be put on the wedding list next year (looking at you, Joseph Joseph!).

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For the Cheese Lover

It’s only in the last 18 months or so that I’ve gotten properly into cheese (before I’d stick to cheddar and the occasional sprinkling of parmesan), it’s safe to say I’m really looking forward to some festive cheeseboards this year! There’s also quite a few cheese-related gifts I’d love to see under the tree on Christmas day… this set from Oliver Bonas has been on my radar for a long time.

And of course, being a fan of Switzerland means melted cheese is just one of the food-related ways to be heart. These Tabletop Raclette Grills* are the perfect at-home date night companion.

For the Wine Lover

Clearly I’ve grown up recently, because I’ve gone from a ‘wine with special dinners’ type of gal to one that realllyyyy enjoys a good wine. I’m not a huge drinker, though, so we can often be round trying to fashion a bottle stopper to keep it fresh for the next day. This Kate Spade stopper would solve that problem! And, ya’no, sparkly.

For the Chocolate Lover

Now chocolate is something I’ve ALWAYS loved! I’m of the firm opinion that if you gift me some Dairy Milk, or a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, I’ll be a happy girl. However I also love more artisan chocolates. We picked up some delightful (and shockingly expensive) bars from Pump Street Bakery in Suffolk a few months ago, which we’re slowly savouring. I love visiting Cocoa Amore in Leicester for some of their delicious pralines.

But for a real chocolate lovely, I highly recommend attending some kind of cookery class or workshop. I spent a wonderful morning at Ginger Whisk Cooking School* with Lucy (you can see one of the recipes we worked on here) – the bulk of the day was spent learning how to temper chocolate, and experimenting with flavourings. I loved adding fruit and herbal teas to mine, and am working on a couple of flavour combos to share with you all soon.

For the Style-Conscious

Much as I love cooking and eating, I also want my kitchen and dining area to look pretty. Of course, it helps with the Instagram game too (you can come follow me here). There’s the ultimate in kitchen chic the Kitchen Aid, or slightly more budget-friendly Kenwood kMix* (though neither come cheap!). I would also be the first person to admit that I’m in love with dining sets right now – plates, bowls, cutlery. Whilst we’ve just invested in some new bits and pieces, I’m still totally lusting after this Habitat set.

On the more practical side, anything from Joseph Joseph gets my vote. I’d love one of their bins, but who can spent three figures on a bin?! Slightly more realistically, I’d love their compact cutlery drawer organiser – sad I know!

For the Adventurous

Again, I’m going to advocate a cookery class here – there’s nothing better for getting stuck in with a cuisine you’re not totally familiar with. I’d never cooked any Chinese food before I helped out at Wok for 1000, but I’ve definitely caught the bug. I’m hoping to attend School of Wok for a class or two in the New Year so watch this space!

For the Cookbook Lover

There was just so many cookbooks I wanted to add to my Christmas list this year – it was hard to whittle them down. I mean, I could have included them all but I kinda didn’t want to risk being in a situation of having 15 hardback books to bring home on the train!

Top of my list is definitely The Roasting Tin – I’ve heard such good things and the recipes sound incredible. I can also highly recommend Fress*. Not only is the book absolutely stunning, but the recipes are lovely to boot. The cover recipe (a roasted cauliflower salad) is unbelievably good. And of course, there’s the book that appears to have taken over Instagram this festive season – Nigel Slater’s Christmas Chronicles. It’s as beautiful in real life as it appears in pictures. I’m also after Jamie’s new book (of course!) and as I’m looking into cooking more Asian Food I’ve featured Rosa’s Thai Cafe book high on my wishlist.

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For Those Who Are Difficult To Buy For

Got everything? Not quite sure what their taste is? Want a lasting gift? I love, love, LOVE subscriptions. Whether it’s cheese toasties through the post (I need to try this at some point), a wine delivery, or a foodie magazine I’m all for a gift that last a whole year long. We’re already subscribers to BBC GoodFood, but I’ve love to read more copies of Delicious Magazine as their Instagram account is SO inspiring. Sure, the recipes are pretty much always online, but flicking through a magazine of seasonal recipes is part of the fun of cooking for me!

And if all else fails – restaurant vouchers are always an appreciated present. My parents bought us a voucher to visit Duck & Waffle last Christmas (read my full review here) and it’s probably one of the most thoughtful presents I’ve ever received. In the past I’ve also bought a giftcard to visit Pollen Street Social, so it’s a great way to gift a treat meal out!

*Some items have been gifted, though all opinions are my own as always!

What’s on your wishlist this year?

Food: Christmas Cooking Tips & Ultimate Orange & Whisky Mince Pies

Now, I could apologise for the early mention of Christmas but I won’t. Because actually it’s not *that* early. Stir-up Sunday has been and come and IT’S DECEMBER TOMORROW. In just a few hours it’s acceptable to start decorating my lounge, wearing festive jumpers and humming Christmas carols. And so it’s time to start talking about the best bit of Christmas if you ask me. Whether it’s a roast turkey or goose. Traditional dinner or buffet. Whether you prefer the main event or the Boxing Day leftovers. A good Christmas Dinner is the bit I always look forward to, and the part that always makes me sad when it’s over. And lucky for me, I got to start the Christmassy eating early this year!

On a rather grey and wet Saturday we headed to The Cookery for #AEGTasteofXmas. Welcomed in with Prosecco (the best kind of welcome!), we watched some excellent demonstrations (though I still cant’ handle filo pastry to save my life!) and made mince pies (whilst dancing along to the Buble Christmas album!) before being treated to a rather large Christmas dinner.

Here’s just a few hints and tips I picked up to perfect your Christmassy cooking (although you can read a few more via the link!):

  • Buy cheap mincemeat and jazz it up with extras. Add extra festive spices, some orange zest, a good splash of booze. You can mix it up extra how you like it!
  • Always make pastry by an open window. If your room is too hot, keep popping the bowl in the fridge to stop the fat melting. Oh, and handle your pastry as little as possible. One re-roll is okay, any more and your pastry will suffer. You have been warned…
  • Make a simple and light starter. We whipped up a veggie wellington – roasted veggies wrapped in filo pastry. It took no time and was super-scrummy!
  • Test the temperature of our oven. It’s rare they will be exact to their dial, so an oven thermometer is essential for cooking. You’ll notice the difference once you start cooking meat at the correct temperate!
  • Always, always, always rest your meat before carving. A large turkey will stay warm covered in tin-foil for a good hour or so – meaning you can turn up the oven to crisp up your roasties/pigs in blankets/yorkshires.
  • Make extra brussel sprouts. They’re awesome in bubble’n’squeak the next day!

And now it’s time to share my favourite mince pie recipe. I confess I’m not a huge fan of these (dried fruit is just not my thing!), although these are just about acceptable in my eyes. Zesty with orange and a little boozy, if they’re served warm and with enough cream I can just about look over the dried fruit situation.

Recipe – makes around 12, easily doubled if you’re hosting a party!

  • 250g plain flour
  • 65g icing sugar
  • 190g cold butter
  • zest and juice 1 large orange
  • 2 tbsp whisky (or other festive spirit, I imagine brandy would work well!)
  • 250g mincemeat

Mix half of the orange zest and juice in to the mincemeat, along with the whisky, and leave to sit whilst you make the pastry.

Rub the flour, icing sugar and butter together until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the remained orange juice and zest, and stir with a knife until the mixture begins to clump (add a spoon of cold water if there’s not quite enough juice). Tip onto a floured surface and knead very briefly until smooth before flattening into a disc, wrapping in cling-film and chilling in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Re-dust the work surface (top tip – use bread flour to dust surfaces as it’s finer), then roll out the pastry to approximately the thickness of a £1 coin. Use an 8cm cutter to cut out rounds, then press into a 12-hole non-stick bun tin (don’t grease the tin!). Re-roll the trimmings to the same thickness and stamp out the tops – as these have alcohol in I prefer to leave the tops slightly open so it’s not *too* boozy*. Spoon about 1 tbsp mincemeat into each base and press on the tops, then bake for 20 minutes until golden and crisp. Cool for a few mins, then remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.

Are you a mince pie fan? Will you be baking festive treats this year?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #28

Another Monday, another “Happy Things” post – although those with a good memory will have noticed that I’ve missed one or two of these. Whoops!

I’ve had a busy few weeks at work, a lot of blog events to go to (and write about) and I’ve been trying to take it a little easier in the evenings I have been at home. Comfort food, catching up with Masterchef and reading a few good books. Oh, and attempting to fix insanely massive tech issues on this blog (it was to the point my hosting company suspended my account and everything disappeared) and trying to deal with Photobucket giving me 30 days to save thousands of photos… yep these happy things posts just slipped my mind! It’s a shame as there’s been many happy things lately…

  1. It’s my birthday week! I don’t think anything could be happier than that, HA! I have a day off to do absolutely whatever I please, a breakfast planned on the big day, an order in for a steak-night-in and a family lunch the next day. Looking forward to it!
  2. My first Christmas dinner of the season. And thanks to the fancy AEG ovens it was perfectly good and just so tasty. I am desperate for my own kitchen so I can have my own…
  3. My work Christmas party. We had our 2016 party in February, so there was 9 months between them – but it was a great night. We had a cocktail making workshop (excellent) and “Christmas dinner on stick” (not so excellent). And I felt surprisingly good the next morning too!
  4. Picking up the M&S Beauty Advent Calendar.
  5. W making the tastiest (and quickest) veggie curry we’ve had in a while. Yum yum!
  6. Doggy cuddles. I nipped to my parents for the night over the weekend – instead of getting the much anticipated bed to myself, I found myself clinging to the edge whilst a certain terrier snored in the middle…
  7. Making one of my favourite chicken dishes. We rarely buy chicken breasts, but splurged on some ‘premium’ ones (wincing at the price slightly!) and pan-fried with a leek and mustard sauce. So good.
  8. An evening at Taste of London. Read Saturday’s post to find out more!
  9. Wandering around a garden centre looking at (and buying!) Christmas decorations. Hello middle agedness!
  10. Homemade marshmallows in hot chocolate. It’s my new obsession.

What’s made you happy lately?

Food: Overindulgence @ Taste of London

Taste of London. A place where some of London’s best restaurant’s come together under one roof. Somewhere where I can try several of the places on my list in one go – a small plate at each, making a decisive about how quickly I need to tick them off properly. Basically Taste of London is my dream way to spend a few hours.

There was everything there. Every type of food you could imagine. Chinese dumplings which smelt INSANELY good. Classic French. Cheese. Indian. Thai. Everything. I quickly instructed W that we would share everything so we could try more things – a plan I’d highly recommend. I’m only gutted that we arrived already feeling pretty stuffed from a festive cookery class with AEG (more to come on that one!).

We started by trying to have a wander and gauge what was about. Spoiler: we failed miserably. Going onto the site afterwards to try and write this post I realised just how many places I wanted to go to. Bubbledogs and Kricket both got missed which I’m pretty damn gutted about!

First to be ticked off was Bao, which has been on my list to try for what feels like forever. The Fried Chicken Bao
(soy milk marinated chicken, Sichuan mayo, kimchi, coriander) was everything I hoped for. A little on the small side for £6 perhaps, but full of flavour. The chicken was both crunchy and moist, and the sauce spicy and sweet. The Bao bun was also delicious and it’s pushed the place further up my list.

We then wandered off to find the dish that, for me, turned out to be the dish of the night. Farang’s Roasted Peach Massaman Curry (seasoned with peanuts, sweet basil and wild ginger) was utterly amazing. Sweet, salty, spicy and perfectly balanced. How they managed to keep the fruit so perfectly cooked is beyond me. Damn good and something I’ve been craving all week.

We took a quick break from the savoury options and headed over to Action Against Hunger’s Doughnut stall. We split two options. The Peter Gordon (pear and ginger compote stuffed doughnut
crunchy maple cornflakes, basil icing) was absolutely delicious whilst the Dan Doherty (coffee, Amaretto and almond) was a tad too sweet for my taste. Both good though, and better than quite a few doughnuts I’ve tried recently!

It was then time to hit The Cheese Bar. We picked up their Four Cheese Truffled Macaroni Cheese and it was…okay. If I’m honest I was disappointed – it lacked a real cheesy depth of flavour, and I didn’t really taste a huge amount of truffle either. It wasn’t bad, and maybe I’d have enjoyed it more had I not been totally and utterly stuffed. Their grilled cheese looked pretty epic though! This is definitely a place I want to visit to see what they can do…

Our final dish was one which confused me. Moro serve North African and Spanish dishes and the flavours in our pick were certainly good. Grilled quail with beetroot borani and pistachio sauce balanced on a fine line of freshness and richness. It was herby and vibrant, so colourful, but utterly filling. Our real complaint was that it was impossible to eat with plastic cutlery on a paper plate.

And with that we left. Clutching our bellies, it was a long tube journey home!

Unfortunately Taste of London was limited to one weekend, and one weekend only, but the good news? They’ll be back! From the 13-17th of June they’ll be in Regents Park and I’ll definitely be there – and starting with an empty belly this time…

*I received two tickets and some meal vouchers as part of an AEG event, however was under no obligation to write this post – I loved the evening and wanted to share all the delicious food!

Have you ever been to Taste of London? What did you think?

Recipe: Creamy & Cheesy Cauliflower Sauce

This sauce has been a revelation for me. I bookmarked the Pinch of Yum recipe YEARS ago, but finally gotten around to trying it  few months back. I was feeling slightly worse for wear on the run up to exams, wanted something comforting for lunch, something filling but that wouldn’t have me in need of a lie down after eating. This fitted the bill perfectly.

If you didn’t know it had cauliflower in it, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was just an ‘ordinary’ cheesy white sauce. There is perhaps a hint of nutty roasted-cauli taste, but so little that I’ve managed to feed this to cauliflower haters with no problems whatsoever. It’s reasonably low in calories (compared to my usual recipe!) yet tastes so indulgent and rich. It freezes far better than a traditional white sauce, making it perfect for study day lunches. Tossed with a good pasta, stirred into rice or even thinned down into a soup (I like to use chicken stock to do so) it’s become a firm favourite.

I’ve even used it to make what turned out to be a pretty awesome cauliflower cheese – add to roasted cauliflower, top with extra cheese then grill until golden. Perfection without all the calories!

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Recipe (makes around 6 portions)

  • 6 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 large knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cauliflowers, split into medium-size florets
  • 75g grated parmesan (or other cheese of your choice), finely grated
  • 1/2 cup milk (more to taste)

Toss the cauliflower with the oil, season with salt and pepper, then roast at 200C for around 20 minutes, or until very lightly charred and fork-tender. Meanwhile slowly cook the garlic in butter over a slow eat until soft – don’t let it brown or it will taste bitter. You could also add some fresh herbs to the pan – rosemary is particularly good!

Pop the cauliflower, parmesan, garlic and buttery juices (discard any herbs) into a blender and whizz until smooth, gradually adding the milk until you have your desired consistency. Chill until ready to use. I find this sauce keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, or in the freezer for a good long while.

Enjoy stirred into tasty for a comforting meal without the guilt! Next time I make this I’m planning to try it as a base for a white pizza…

What’s your current favourite recipe?

Lifestyle: Eating Out on a Budget

I love food. It goes without saying really, given that I run a food blog, but I live to eat. To me food isn’t just a fuel so I can get on with my life, it’s one of my genuine pleasures and I get so much out of a good bite to eat. Whether it’s a perfectly cooked steak, gorgeously runny egg, exotically spiced curry or even a comforting roast dinner, a good meal to me is the fastest way to my heart.

Prioritize Spending

This is generally how we “afford” most of our meals out and expensive cooking ingredients. Yes, we don’t see the problem in shelling out upwards of £100 on a meal for two (or more, especially now I’m out of university). However as a couple neither of us are into nights out, and nor have we ever been.

I personally would never dream of spending more than £10 on an evening of drinks, whilst I know friends, colleagues and family who wouldn’t think twice at spending £50, £100 or even more. And that’s absolutely fine. They enjoy a  night out. I see a tray of shots as a fancy dish I could be eating. It’s each to their own, and I put my eating out more highly than alcohol.

Eat Mid-Week

Quite a few restaurants will sneakily put their prices up Friday-Sunday – midweek meals are generally the cheapest. There will also often be special deals which are just too good to miss. Putney Pies does a deal on a Tuesday which makes it a lot more affordable!

Purchase Discounted Vouchers

As well as popping restaurant vouchers on your Christmas and birthday wishlist, you can also pick them up at a discounted price on Zeek*. Whilst the savings aren’t massive, you can easily save anything up to 10% by purchasing  restaurant vouchers using the app. It’s mainly chains on offer, though I do love Bella Italia’s courgette and chicken pasta!

If you know where you’re off to, getting a small amount of money off a voucher can make all the difference. You can generally treat it as a giftcard too, meaning it can be used alongside other discounts. Double win in my books!

Visit “Cheap” Restaurants

Cheap doesn’t have to be McDonalds, or a soggy fridge-cold sandwich from Tesco! Whether it’s tacos at Wahaca (the two of us can generally eat for around £25 including churros) or pizza at the Dynamo, there’s a lot of reallllyyyy good places to eat that won’t break the bank. A little time spent searching means we’ve got a bank of cheaper restaurants that we really want to try – have a looksie on Time Out for inspiration!

Utilise Lunch-time Offers

Dining in pricier restaurants is, for us, only usually possible at lunch times. Case in point is when we took a trip to Pollen Street Social earlier in the year. It’s a pricey restaurant (main courses start at around £35 and the portions aren’t *huge*), but with a three-course lunch offering at £37 it’s a lot more reasonable than it seems at first. We actually purchased a lunch voucher in advance, and so only paid for teas/coffee on the day – and we’re still treated to both appetizers and petit-four too. Definitely worth it if you want a real treat without completely blowing the budget!

Steer Clear of Alcohol

I love me a glass of wine as much as the next person – but it’s pricey. I’ve been to many a restaurant where the cheapest bottle isn’t far off our weekly food budget, so it’s quite rare that we’ll indulge. I’ll avoid soft drinks too – I’d far sooner spend an extra £10 on starters rather than a glass of lemonade! Tap water all the way here…

Keep An Eye Out for Soft Lauches

A soft launch is a chance for new restaurants to test their menu, kitchen and staff before they are officially open. Sure, the service might but a bit hit-and-miss but the food is usually delish and you can get a decent discount – up to 50% is normal. I’ve used hot-dinners.com in the past to see what’s popping up!

*I was gifted a small amount of Zeek credit in exchange for a post, although all opinions (and other tips) are my own!

What are your tips for eating out on a budget?