Cooking: A Taste of the Algarve with Peri-Peri Prawns and Patatas Bravas

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been to the Algarve, but despite that I still remember the yummy food. I first went at the age of four, and have been for multiple family holidays since (staying in a well-known-but-not-for-good-reasons resort).

 photo Algarve Meal 7_zps0mp322wn.jpgLots of seafood, well-flavored dishes, stews, and beautiful bread spread with sardine paste or garlic butter (not made for romantic holidays, these dishes!), finished with the Creme Catalana. Just perfection!

I was challenged by Jet2holidays to come up with a meal from the Algarve, something new to add to my meal repertoire that I wouldn’t usually think about making. My first thought was a cataplana – a seafood stew usually made with tomatoes. In the end I went more simple, with some simple prawns and potatoes.

 photo Algarve Meal 4_zpsqc6xhlyc.jpg photo Algarve Meal 6_zpsifpv8cp1.jpgMy aim was to skewer these prawns and grill them, but a quick trip to London resulted in me standing at the checkout at 7:30pm buying them. Peckish and tired, making skewers wasn’t going to happen – and this dish we made was ready to eat just about 8pm making it perfect for post-work entertaining. Not that I do much of that, but I can dream!

Ingredients

  • Raw king prawns
  • 250g new potatoes
  • Red chilli
  • Garlic puree
  • 1 lemon
  • Paprika
  • White wine vinegar

 photo Algarve Meal 1_zpscg0glo5x.jpgMarinate the prawns for as long as possible, up to 24 hours. Simple grate the zest of the lemon and the chilli into a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of garlic puree, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and the juice of half the lemon. Toss the prawns through the mixture, cover and leave.

 photo Algarve Meal 3_zpsd6nv1w5f.jpgCube the potatoes and par-boil for around 8 minutes. Drain, then fry in the little oil until starting to crisp. Add the juice of the rest of the lemon, a little garlic and a good tablespoon of paprika. Keep warm in a low oven.

Wipe the pan out and heat over a high heat. Add the prawns and cook until just pink – around 30-45 seconds on each side.

Serve the potatoes and prawns with a simple green salad – ours was just rocket tossed with lemon and olive oil. Eat, preferably outside enjoying the sunshine and warm evenings.

 photo Algarve Meal 5_zpsnr7qrkg7.jpgThis is such a great light dish for summer, and it’s so quick too. I always forget how much I enjoy prawns! Perhaps not truly from the Algarve, but it definitely reminded me of those lovely holidays!

Disclaimer: I was provided with money for ingredients by Jet2holidays. As ever, all opinions are my own – as is the recipe.

Have you ever been to the Algarve? What’s your favourite holiday food?

Lifestyle: “Street Food” Pies

Pies. Quite possibly my favourite type of food. Carbs, fat (probably a little too much!) and protein in one neat parcel, what’s not to love?! Hearty, filling and often made with seasonal ingredients I could eat a pie a week and not get bored. Though possibly a little chubby. I’ve lunched on a fair few pies recently whilst out and about, and decided now was the time to share.

Pieminister (Oxford, but a few other branches)

 photo 2015-02-01 14.33.16_zpsv5gh4d1f.jpgIt was a very, very cold day in Oxford when we ate these pies, so possibly not surprising that most varieties were beginning to sell out. The shop wasn’t the most welcoming. Being in a covered market it wasn’t exactly warm, with hard benches to sit on. Free tap water was available though which gives bonus points!

 photo 2015-02-01 14.33.04_zps9532fnle.jpgW has some sort of beefy pie. Pies are the one thing I seem to have to be really careful with as they often contain tomato pastes, and Pieminister were no exception – boo! I went for a chicken and mushroom (it has a silly name, can’t say I’m a fan of their naming convention!). Crunchy pastry (possibly a bit too hard), buttery sauce, tender chicken, plenty of mushrooms that actually tasted of mushroom. It was all good but overshadowed by the use of herb. Everything tasted a bit dried-tarragon-y and it got a bit unpleasant after a while. No similar complaints from W though, so I’d be willing to try another type.

Mash was a bit sweet and lumpy, and we declined the offer of gravy (which also looked a bit lumpy having scrutinized other diners’ lunches). Overall? Not bad, I’d go again, but not great and a bit overpriced.

My Pie

 photo IMG_0862_zpssjv2eigj.jpgFirst of all, a moving PIE VAN. Words can’t describe how much joy that gave me. Not as much joy as when the guy gave me 47p off my lunch because I hadn’t quite got enough in my bag (oops).

 photo IMG_0861_zpsckjibkwk.jpg photo IMG_0860_zpshxipns9v.jpgI went for the Chicken and Aspargus, and oh my was it good! Creamy but peppery sauce, lots of chicken, and the aspargus still tasted fresh and crunchy. The pastry was just how I like it, firm but a little soggy. Will’s steak pie was demolished in record timing and was thoroughly enjoyed.

Gravy was meaty and well made, and the mash was delicious. Buttery, creamy, still tasting of potato. I could have eaten a bowlful!

 photo IMG_0859_zpslfmiz3xo.jpgMy Pie came in a few pounds cheaper than Pieminister, and was undoubtedly the better meal. I’m keeping them firmly bookmarked as I’d quite like to see them at a future big event in my life (cutting the pie sounds far more fun that cutting the cake!), and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for them again.

Have you had a pie from these places? What’s your favourite pie filling?

Food: An Indoor BBQ

Maybe no-one has informed the weather, but this week is National BBQ Week in the UK, and when Newman’s Own sent over some goodies for me to try, I knew pulled pork had to be on the menu.

 photo 2015-05-23 19.31.02_zpsu1ds7jpj.jpgMe and W decided to have a bit of a cosy Eurovision night in. Drinks, more food than was sensible and lots of cheesiness courtesy of Graham Norton – a perfect antidote to the day spent in Costa acompanied by engineering notes (I spent the time blogging and laughing in my head – mean girlfriend!).

 photo 2015-05-23 11.03.36_zpsdgwltmhg.jpg photo 2015-05-23 11.03.44_zpsqsiegqin.jpgThis pulled pork is the perfect way to have a BBQ meal without relying on the weather. Sure, maybe it’s not quite the same as slightly pink sausages, burnt burgers and shivering in the cold, but its damn good. And it can be made in the depths of winter – I know I’ll be making it again. We served ours taco-style with wraps, some homemade pickled slaw, refried beans and sweet potato fries.

 photo 2015-05-23 11.09.47_zpsdebkeizq.jpg photo 2015-05-23 19.18.55_zpsxm2i8vqb.jpg photo 2015-05-23 19.21.17_zpskeebmok9.jpgThe pork was super simple, and great value. A tray of diced pork should came in at just over £2 and would have fed far more than the two of us. Simply rub with the Pulled Pork seasoning*, throw in the slow cooker with a teeny bit of water and leave on low for as long as you can. The style of rub meant it wasn’t ‘normal BBQ flavoured’ (i.e sweet, cloying and tomatoey), but instead it was spicy and mustardy. Whilst full of flavour, this marinade also enhanced the porkiness of the meat – not overshadowing it in the slightest. I loved it. Once your are ready to serve, lift the meat out onto a plate, shred with forks. Spoon as much fat out of the liquid as possible before putting the pork back to stay warm.

 photo 2015-05-23 19.26.15_zpsvduf3xku.jpg photo 2015-05-23 18.33.09_zpsfupvsfb1.jpgRefried beans are a staple for me, they are some of my favourite things. Sweat finely diced onions in lard, add in cumin and other spices until fragrant, add beans and squish around until thick and creamy. You can blend for a smooth dip if you want – and top with cheese to be even more greedy. We added some tabasco to the mix too – their new chipotle sauce* is pretty awesome! Sweet potato fries were a bit of a failure – a little mushy and not crisp. I’m determined to crack these over the next few months so let me know if you have any tips!

 photo 2015-05-23 19.16.15_zps4ythbyaz.jpgFood coma, cocktails in my new ever-so-on-trend tumbler jar*, watching the voting and guessing who would receive most points from certain countries, Eurovison is one of my favourite nights of the year. I loved Sweden’s offering and wasn’t particularly surprised when they won – definitely one of my favourite songs of the night!

Did you ‘celebrate’ Eurovison? Have you embraced National BBQ week yet?

Food: Stepping Into the Industry

The food industry is always something I’ve felt rather passionate about. I’ve preferred to buy from smaller, more independent brands who genuinely care about the ingredients and (most importantly) the final product.

 photo 15c16f2b-b748-45f9-bc38-f7a96dde8243_zps62fd85a6.jpgOne of my dreams is to set up a small company selling frozen pastes in individual portions. Curry paste, pesto, even pasta sauces – they’re great timesavers for busy people yet all too often I can never finish a jar. Homemade is far better and I’ve been making and freezing these things for a while now – and I’d love to share. This pipeline dream is likely to take a backseat for a while as my chosen career is far too time-consuming, but who knows where the future will take it?

 photo Young Entrepreneur Scheme Logo_zpsv655vgfl.jpgAnd if I do decide to go for it, I’ll definitely remember Cotswold Fayre and their Young Entrepreneur award. They are offering £1,000 in funding and on-going mentoring from company Founder, Paul Hargreaves to help progress the chosen business.  An amazing opportunity, not just for the funding but the knowledge you would gain.

 photo Chris Overly_zpsgvzp6din.jpgLast year’s winner, Chris Hannaway, co-founder of Overly said: “Winning this award has been great. As a business, we’ve managed to get a listing with Cotswold Fayre, the UK’s best wholesaler for farm shops and delicatessens. They really are a great team that are so helpful and supportive to new suppliers. On an individual note Paul’s advice has been great. He’s helped me to develop the way  think about the industry and has given me some great ideas as to how we can take the business forward.”

Applications are open until the end of June for 16-25 year olds, so if you have a dream to get a food or drink business off the ground its worth having a go – I think if I had more time I would be applying!

*Sponsored post, as always all opinions are my own.

Would you like to see recipes for some of the freezable sauces I make? What kind of food & drink company would you love to set up?

Restaurant Review: Tomato-Free Pizza @ Pizza Pilgrims

I’ve slowly come to terms with my allergy, and I’m pretty much okay with it all now. Sure, there are evenings where I wish I could dial Dominoes, and I still crave a BBQ sauce (that’s this summer’s challenge!). I’ve gotten used to what I can and can’t eat and have my go-to alternatives. What I really, really hate is having to let restaurants know, having to dissect the menu before I eat out to find out if there’s actually anything suitable – because even the tiniest amount hidden in a sauce can affect me.

 photo 572f2043-ed51-49d6-83ab-f13920999b91_zpsopxtpfyw.jpgI got really excited when Pizza Express launched two white pizzas last season. Only to realise their bechamel sauce contains tomato powder. I think one of them is still suitable, but still. Then I saw a few instagram shots featuring Pizza Pilgrims, noticed a few white pizzas floating about, and promptly told W that we were off for a date-lunch…

 photo 0db576aa-ae9d-4e9d-b20d-bd91b25bf3a6_zpsex0yzs68.jpg photo 2ab553f3-a794-4011-8cf4-367d40046bbc_zpsmvqakaqd.jpgI ordered the Portobello Mushroom and Truffle Oil, and it was immense. Juicy, but still nutty with a good bite, mushrooms where fresh and full of flavour, and the truffle oil added something extra which elevated the pizza from a standard pizza to a delicious treat. The cheese was gooey, the base fluffy, light and well-flavoured. I’d have preferred a slightly thicker and more robust base as I like to be ladylike and shove a pizza wedge into my mouth with my hands, but that’s just me…As far as tomato-free pizzas go, I think Pizza Pilgrims have it down.

 photo 0c365d70-cf39-4235-b9e8-efc7bad6bd20_zpsxstursud.jpgW went for tomato-overload with the Nduja, which he seemed to enjoy. I was just a hugely happy girl that my pizza craving had been sorted – with several branches across London, I know I’ll definitely be hitting Pizza Pilgrims again for a tomato-free pizza hit! We paid for our own meal, and Pizza Pilgrims didn’t know I was planning to review…though the camera may have given it away…

Where’s the best pizza you’ve eaten? I suppose I’d better learn to say ‘allergic to tomatoes’ in Italian ready for my holiday!

Lifestyle: A Foodie Day in Brighton

I’ve already mentioned it a couple of times on here, but I LOVE Brighton. The atmosphere, the unique shops, the vintage-y house bits and the FOOD. In December I had THE most delicious sandwich, but when me and Libby had a girls day out a few weeks ago when went one step further to damaging my diet. Actually, two steps…

 photo b785ba77-40c4-4066-a26c-c7e8440adb4e_zpszfx0enic.jpg photo 70f42ff4-0781-43a5-a4fc-62746e43b5d7_zpsvjr1x18z.jpgLunch was the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and my first experience of the chain. I have to say I much prefer Bryon, but it was pretty yummy. The burger was a touch dry, improved with the addition of gooey American cheese and plenty of mustard, and for shoestring fries they were rather moreish. My drink was fab and great value, I highly recommend the elderflower fizz. But burger-wise, Byron blows this place out of the water. And now I’m craving a burger…

 photo 8b381d07-5f4a-4e2c-a5f0-d9725b52e740_zpsl08uastb.jpgCome the end of the afternoon we were starting to crave cake, and stumbled across the cutest little teashop. Catwalk Cakes do amazingly themed wedding cakes, but also tasty afternoon tea-style snacks. They also have a good range of gluten-free and vegan choices too. We shared a huge pot of tea, and ordered a gigantic slice of cake each.

 photo 474fca55-5227-4580-8877-a7e3d623ff13_zpsngoet8iz.jpgLibby had the rainbow cake – and multicoloured it certainly was! This was probably the best rainbow cake I’ve tried as despite all the colouring it wasn’t heavy or dry. It was extremely sweet though!

 photo 2015-02-07 18.20.46_zpsnqdsfkbr.jpgI plumped for the Vegan Blueberry Cake, and am desperate to know what they put in their icing – it was so buttery and creamy! The blueberries gave it a lovely tang, they were sharp and fruity, and the whole thing was pleasantly moist. I’m not always a cake person, but if all cakes were like this I’d be converted!

High on sugar we stumbled back to the train station. I might have only lost 2 pounds in weight that week (and many more from my purse in Boots that day…) but it was worth it!

Are you a fan of an afternoon cake? Where’s your favourite spot?

Lifestyle: Healthy Asian Food with #LVLoveLife

I finally attended my first blogger event, and I’m a lucky girl because it was a fabulous night!

 photo fc9eedfc-4f83-48ca-b32f-9a7c805584ad_zpsdzgbhckl.jpg photo eaa15bed-9aa1-4203-bad4-d70fadaf953a_zpsoxp5jnnm.jpgBased at the Smart School of Cookery in St Katharine’s Docks (now one of my favourite spots in London), we were shown how to make a feast which was as good for us as it was tantalising on our tastebuds.

 photo 54d6c4ff-8d58-418c-b210-4cda51cfa9a7_zpsznmo3exw.jpg photo db27c1e7-5a90-4c36-9658-c63fbd84c007_zpsk38v9tus.jpgMy favourite course of the night was the first, but it was so spectacular nothing could have topped it. A light salad of rocket and courgette ribbons, dressed with lime, topped with spicy, sweet prawns (courgette for the veggies!) – this was a revelation. I will definitely be recreating this in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for the recipe! So simple, but bloody delicious!

 photo d4c34cca-342a-4689-9cc2-4436d27db682_zpsdnxt7zhd.jpg photo ec726f08-98f7-4709-9679-6ce3f9b562af_zpsgc3lct8c.jpg photo e72a4421-1977-46ee-b75a-e3b3f49ddb66_zpsxygtjbbt.jpg photo 2d12d8e8-73fd-4862-8e8f-3ab24d5610d3_zpslocozbn9.jpgThe veggie-noodle broth which followed was still delicious, but I can’t say I fell in love with it. I felt that although it was bulked out with courgette and carrot, it needed some other vegetable to give it a bit of life. The crouton was pretty delicious though, and not just because I made those!

 photo 3653fce0-3400-43f9-9988-9cb5961cd6fa_zpsatxdlc3b.jpg photo IMG_9733_zpsq9mfcxym.jpgCheck out my croutons! Plus you get to see the red lip I spoke out this week in action, albeit vamped up with a red lip liner!

 photo 4e6728c5-612b-4809-959c-2ff3cee4e4d2_zpsmkyeqwea.jpg photo b8c07a53-547c-4c4e-9538-14a54d4978a0_zpswq0rgqbb.jpgThe final course was nearly as delicious as the first, a chicken curry made with very little oil, the chicken was ridiculously tender, the sauce sweet, coconutty and a little spicy. A kick from the garlic, ginger and coriander were the main flavours, offset with zingy-ness from the lime. I felt it would have taken a bit more chilli though! The sticky rice was also a revelation. I’ve never thought to bake rice, but it worked so well. Slightly crunchy it matched the creamy curry perfectly. Now I just need a pan suitable to go in the oven…

I definitely came away with some fabulous cooking hints too. Never cook with olive oil (I’ve always avoided it anyway!), and grate ginger and chilli straight from the freezer. I’ve been freezing my chillies for a while now but have always defrosted them to end up with soggy, sweet things. Now I know where I am going wrong there will be no stopping me!

 photo 6e1a31fc-0a4e-486e-912a-bfedf4213830_zpsgytqzxy1.jpgWe were all invited to the event by LV as part of their #LVLoveLife campaign. I’m very grateful, not only for the yummy food, but also the chance to meet some of my favourite bloggers – check out Immy May, Jasmine Charlotte, Not Quite Enough and Champagne & Chutney.

Have you took part in a cookery class before? What are your top cooking tips?

Lifestyle: The Best Sandwich in Brighton

I promised you sandwich porn last week, and here it is in all it’s glory.

 photo 2014-12-13144609_zps4e42ec7d.jpgDalinsky’s make their own salt beef and pastrami, serving it in pretty huge sandwiches along with mustard, pickles, sauerkraut or any combination. I left off the sauerkraut as the stuff scares me. They also offer chicken soup (which smells fantastic) and a grilled sandwich which W devoured. I went for Team Pastrami (I can’t eat it from the supermarket now!), he was Team Salt Beef, and together we stood on the North Laines, freezing and making ‘foodie’ noises. Honestly one of the best sandwiches I’ve had.

 photo 2014-12-13144010_zps3366a8f2.jpgSandwiches are made to order, served on a bed of their salads. In December there was a dill potato salad, a more traditional (though not gloopy) slaw, and a colourful and tangy red cabbage mix. The red cabbage was stunning – I’d pay for the recipe! Everything was crunchy and fresh, the bread was amazing quality…and the couple themselves were completely adorable.

 photo 2014-12-13155214_zps0ba9b629.jpgIf you’re ever in Brighton, be sure to go and have a chat and a taste. It pays off so much to support local suppliers, and these guys lived round the corner from where their stall was, salting the beef and making the pastrami themselves. A trip may be made to Brighton in the not-too-distant future for another of these beauties!

What’s your favourite sandwich filling? I used to think you couldn’t beat plain old ham, but this changed all that!

Lifestyle: Mother Clucker Fried Chicken

I have a little secret: KFC is my guilty pleasure. I don’t have it often, and even when I do there’s not much of it (a Boneless Banquet for One at most, but generally a Lunchbox – crispy strips are the best!) but I do love it. I could quite happily go without fries, there’s something about the heavily seasoned, juicy, slightly-greasy-but-still-crunchy chicken that really does it for me. Homemade is great (see my recipe) but admittedly doesn’t have the naughty factor that I start craving every few months.

 photo IMG_0650_zpse1df98cd.jpgBUT, dare I say, I think I’ve found something better. After heading to the Art of the Brick (a pretty fabulous art exhibition made of LEGO – seriously go if you find yourself with time between now and January) myself and boyfriend were rather hungry, a little chilly, and getting damp from the lovely November weather. But hey! Street food 100 yards away from the exhibition can’t be turned down. Despite the half-mile walk past warm places to a cash machine and back again… After a debate between a filthy (in a good way) looking cheeseburger and some kind of Venezuelan goodies, we saw this little van. The converted US Army ambulance houses Mother Clucker Fried Chicken. Mac’n’Cheese drew us in, but we added some crispy strips to share. And we are glad we did!

 photo 8872e244-8ec3-4586-bd14-edb2ef17a5d7_zps97de56be.jpgThe Mac was damn good to be honest. Creamy, but weirdly light (though I still left a good amount – it was huge!). Not exactly crispy on top, but there was a contrast between soft pasta, gooey sauce, and more cheese. Decent seasoning, and a great kick from the chillies scattered in the sauce (which were still fresh and juicy too). I need to experiment with adding fresh chilli to a mac’n’cheese, it adds a great freshness. I’m sure you can expect a recipe soon!

 photo IMG_0651_zpsc9c9c5bf.jpgThe chicken, the main event, was just as good. A really decent kick from what tasted like far more than 11 herbs and spices, I reckon KFC would taste bland after these. In fact, there was a huge need for a nearby drink, these combined with the Mac’n’Cheese provided a pretty hefty kick to the back of the throat. Not a hint of sogginess, some parts were even too crunchy – though these served well as a mac-scoop (I’m a classy lady!). The meat was insanely juicy, ridiculously tender. I never wanted it to end. Apart from when I got full, and even then I debated saving it to eat cold a few hours later (I didn’t, I wanted to go to Liberty’s and decided they wouldn’t appreciate fried chicken being carried in).

For the amount of food, the price wasn’t tooooo bad. Street food isn’t cheap anymore, it’s too trendy for that. Spare change isn’t going to cut it, this lunch of a mac each, a portion of crispy chicken and a drink cost a potentially eye-watering £17. But it was damn good, filling, warming, and I’d happily pay it again. KFC, however, now feels overpriced. Currently found at The Truman Brewery, I highly recommend you sniff this van out!

Now I’ve spilled my secret, what’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food? Any street food vans you recommend?

Review: Flava-It With Meat Lust (& THE Crispiest Wings)

 photo 2014-09-22182550_zps73fc0616.jpgI love chicken wings. If I wasn’t so self-conscious about making a mess they would be my go-to order in Nandos, and I’m desperate to try some of the London-based wing restaurants too (damn you allergy!). When Meat Lust got in touch about sending me over some marinades, a quick check revealed they’d advise against me having them, but would my family like a try. Fine. I was hugely jealous, until I got the parcel and read the packet. Turns out only the Original BBQ flavour contained tomato, with the three other flavours I was sent being Chloe-safe. I was over the moon, my parents not so as I promptly snuck them back to my Surrey hideaway.

 photo 2014-09-22182613_zps30cd5dea.jpg photo 2014-09-22193827_zps8790a955.jpgBuffalo wings* were the first to be tried out, and I think this was my favourite flavour. Not too sweet, not too spicy, but still a flavourful kick. These marinades are super simple. Scatter the powder over the meat (I rubbed it in slightly) and leave for 10 minutes. That’s it. I would recommend leaving for longer if you have time, but 10 minutes is perfectly fine if that’s all you’ve got. Now for crispy wings here’s a tip I’ve stolen from good ole’Jamie Oliver (probably one of my favourite chefs, as I just love his recipes). A tablespoon of medium ground polenta over your wings before they go in the oven, and they will be crispy, with a texture almost as though they have been deep-fried. I’ve recently been using some Maizemeal* from Real Foods (an amazing site for health foods and a whole range of toiletries and other exciting things. I like to browse it on a Sunday afternoon over cake and tea…). Super quality, crunch and flavour, superior to any I’ve bought from a supermarket. Bake the wings for 30 minutes, turn and bake for another 20. Super crispy skin, moist flesh. The may look a little black in my photo, but they weren’t far from burnt. Utter perfection, although the tray was a bugger to clean.

Louisiana BBQ was my least favourite flavour, far too sweet for my liking, although it did go pretty well with the pork ribs. Ghost Chilli was exceptionally hot, but really good too. I think I would have loved this flavour had the wings been cooked a little better – the lack of polenta made them a little greasy (sorry dad!). No pictures of these two as I was nearly too ill to eat, let alone photograph my food. But despite my general disease, the food still tasted good. I’ll definitely be picking up a few more of these marinades for next summer! I will say however that the photos on the packets aren’t really representative of what you end up with – they definitely weren’t any sauces produced, but delicious all the same.

Disclaimer: I was sent four marinades to review (one of which has killer tomato in, and has been left with family to trial), but this doesn’t alter my opinions at all. I was also (separately) sent the polenta/maizemeal from Real Foods, and again my opinion is unbiased.

What’s your favourite flavour to marinade meat in? Will you be trying any Meat Lust products?