It’s been two years and twelve days since I moved to university. Now that was a stressful weekend – saying goodbye to my boyfriend, realising my stuff and us didn’t fit in the car (mum and sister ended up getting the train) and worrying about everything. Most Freshers this year seem to have started last week, so here’s a great deal to help celebrate surviving your first week.
Hungry House have a great selection of takeaways to choose from (Bombay Mela is on there – woo!) and this year all students with a valid university email address can take advantage of a pretty tasty 25% off. Just head over to their Student Portal, enter a few details and there will be 25% off for you until 5 October. Who knows, maybe there will be more student offers in the future too – definitely worth signing up in case!
Hungry House have also created a great guide to popular Student Takeaways, so if you’re in a major city it might be worth a look – a new favourite to be found perhaps? Either way, I know I’ll be signing up, and whilst I maybe won’t be taking advantage of the student discount (I’m currently suffering from Freshers Flu despite not being at university!) I know I’ll be bookmarking the site for future use.
Disclaimer: I will be receiving a Hungry House voucher for the post, but all opinions are my own.
What’s your favourite takeaway? Indian? Chinese? Pizza? Craving a curry right now…
It’s no secret that both me and my boyfriend are massive foodies, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some part of our weekends always revolves around food. Whether it’s a trip to a farmer’s market or cooking a nice meal together, food is a big part of relaxing together. These past two weekends have been no different, though we’ve done completely different things!
This past weekend was his village’s first “annual” show, and my it was very traditional. Lots of classes to enter (I was unfortunately unable to enter due to not living in the parish), an old-fashioned tombola, and lots of lovely cups of tea being handed around. I was quite taken with the vegetable classes, until I noticed the table with all the dahlias on. These are my absolute favourite flower, so I got a bit snap-happy. Definitely prettier than the ‘funny shaped vegetable’ class!
Of course we also spent plenty of time near the Cakes and Bakes classes. My boyfriend actually entered two – the Victoria Sponge, and the Decorated Cupcakes. Now I personally think the sponge class was a bit of a con – it was a set recipe, but not one of them worked. Very little rise to the sponges, though I’m sure they tasted delicious. Cupcakes, now they are more my thing. Turns out they’re my boyfriends thing too, as his Caramel Apple Cupcakes won first prize! And don’t they look delicious?
Maybe if you all ask nicely he’ll share his winning recipe?!
Outside we were impressed by the ‘Heaviest Pumpkin’ class – look at the size of that beast! Though take a look at the perfectly round orange one in the corner; we suspect this was a bought-in specimen!
The weekend before was significantly less traditional. In line with my aim of getting out more during my placement year, when I found out about a Street Food festival in the next town/village from me there was no question about what we’d be doing. Reigate Street Eats it was! Now I didn’t take many photos, for the simple fact that it took place in a tunnel, it was dark (and slightly smoky, thanks to the pub who set up a BBQ and clearly didn’t know quite how to use it). We also didn’t eat much, only (horror!) sampling one vendor. We did have a massive curry planned for that evening after all!
Having spent much of the summers of my young teenage years in Turkey, I was excited to find out that The Tinderbox were doing Lahmacun. I immediately sent out a tweet pretty much begging for a tomato-free version, and after a bit of a mixup at the van I had my hands on something I’d been craving for over four years. Spicy mince pressed into excellent dough, served in a wood burner, then scattered with lemon, pine-nuts, herbs, seasoned yoghurt and pine nuts before being folded. What could be better?!
Street food at its finest – fresh, hot and tasty, easy to eat, quick to make, relatively healthy and extremely tasty. Thanks for making a tomato-allergic girl very happy Tinderbox! And just look at the woodburning van too – we want one! Having experienced one street food festival I’ve got my eyes set on some of the London ones now – where’s best to go?
Have you been a foodie lately? Would you like to see a recipe for Caramel Apple Cupcakes? Trust me, they were delicious!
Remember my What’s Cooking Wednesday series? I really enjoyed doing that over my second year, but I’m not sure it’s too feasible in my third year – I’m working full-time on placement, and quite often will finish later or more exhausted than expected so planned meals can go out of the window. But I do want a place to show you what I’ve been up to, things that don’t need a whole post but would otherwise go unmentioned. And of course I’m sure food will feature heavily too!
So, I’ve mentioned my placement. Since the end of July I’ve been working as an Actuarial Assistant in a large insurance firm. Can’t say too much about my job as it’s quite confidential, but I can say I despite the job title of Actuarial Assistant – it seems to be widely used across the industry, but it sounds so basic. Trust me its not, I’m far from an assistant! I’ve learnt so much in time I’ve been there, my mind swims with Excel shortcuts and VBA code each day, but it’s so worth stretching myself knowing this is definitely where I want to be after graduation. If you’re at university and have the chance of a placement or internship, then go for it – it’s an amazing opportunity! My placement has meant yet another move to a different part of the country, and I’m now based in Surrey. I’ll be doing a post about my new place soon, but I have to say I’m liking Surrey so far. I can get to London in under half an hour, and the train is ridiculously cheap too compared to what I was used to.
When I’ve not been sleeping (full time work is exhausting!) weekends have mainly been spent getting to know my area, usually with my man. Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited to review a local Indian, so expect a post on that tomorrow. We also came across a local street food festival, which will be featured soon enough.
You may have noticed an improvement in pictures – meet my new baby! I turn 21 in December and asked for a camera for my parents. Whilst they were in Turkey the Canon EOS M was discontinued and heavily reduced in most places, I’d set my heart on this one so I ordered away. I then decided that as they haven’t paid me back yet I’d keep it! I got it for a really good price, though I think I’ve already spent far too much on a pretty case, and a lens adapter for it. I’ll be putting a 50mm lens on my list now too! I’m under no illusions than a camera will automatically improve my photos, but I think I’d outgrown my HTC phone camera, and my pictures just weren’t doing it for me. Getting a camera has also encouraged me to learn more about photography basics, and I’m slowly but surely seeing improvement. Not overnight, but it is getting there and I’m finally feeling a little more proud of my blog because of this!
And finally, to the food. Having a job = more money = more food. I’ve definitely been treating myself on the food front, no way would I have spent £3.50 on a packet of pastrami as a student. It was delicious though! I’ve also been doing plenty of baking – my Peanut-aires shortbread were spectacularly well received. Amazingly yummy, and surprisingly quick and cheap. I’m still technically a student after all!
That was a longer post than expected! What have you been up to lately?
Before we went away to Edinburgh, I spent hours researching places to eat. Myself and my boyfriend are both students, both on relatively tight budgets, so I wanted to plan away, find deals etc, and make sure we weren’t excessively spending. One of the deals I came across was Urban Angel’s 10th Birthday Celebration, so we decided to go with their dinner deal of two courses for £10.
Whilst thoroughly impressed with the decor of the place (all nice and rustic, an instagrammers delight, though the second photo was taken from their site!) we were a little disappointed when none of the staff knew about the offer. We promptly got it up on our phones (to convince ourselves too!) and we were offered one small plate and one big plate each for the £10 as promised. Whilst it could have been my imagination, I felt service decreased then slightly, it was a little less friendly although still nothing to complain about! In our defence, their website actually stated the offer was running from the 10th June to the end of July, and we visited on the 19th – surely we weren’t the first?! Anyway, onto the food…
I suffered serious food envy when the starters came out. I’d gone for the Handcut Chips with Thyme Salt & Aioli. Whilst it was lovely, I kind-of expected a little more than just a huge plate of chips. Bit of an ordering mistake if I’m honest, the mushrooms would have been a far better bet! I found the thyme salt to be barely noticeable, though the aioli packed a huge garlicky punch – I would have loved that spread on warm fresh bread! Onto my boyfriends far more satisfactory starter – Falafel Balls in a Curry & Coconut Emulsion. I’d avoided these as I couldn’t be bothered with the tomato issue, but after inspected his plate I promptly demanded a taste – they were delicious! I’d probably want my falafels a little crisper, but the combination of flavours was great. One happy boyfriend, one jealous girlfriend!
Onto bigger plates, and I think we were both satisfied – I like to think my dish was the better but in reality I couldn’t try the other! Will went for the Veggie Chilli and really enjoyed it, despite him having an issue with veggie chilli (to be fair, meat ones are better!). I scored with my choice of a Herby Ham Hock Cake with Soft Poached Egg & Hollandaise – yum yum! Again I’d have preferred the cake to be slightly crisper as it was a little soggy, but the flavours were beautiful. The egg was absolutely perfectly poached, there were decent sized chunks of tender ham hock – one of the most different and exciting main courses I’ve tried! I would say that all out dishes required seasoning at the table to taste their best, but other than that it was a pretty good meal for £10 each. We’d happily go back to Urban Angel again, their brunch sounds delicious!
We’d planned to have a ‘dirty’ meal at The Filling Station one night of our holiday – tasty, greasy, bad-for-you American style food, as opposed to local Scottish ingredients and a more romantic environment. We found it to be closed for refurbishment, and we’re particularly taken by other menus especially as we try to avoid big chain restaurants. Then we spied this place over the road…and headed on over to have a menu browse. Within about 30 seconds we’d confirmed we’d be visiting, and the second night of our holiday saw us scurrying up the Royal Mile for a burger fix. The actual restaurant is just lovely, really roomy, far from crammed in, light, perfect level of music, and the decor is just amazing – I took the above photo from their facebook page as it show perfectly both the amazing food and amazing room. The menu is so, so simple – it is pretty much burgers and beers!
The drinks list is presented on a clipboard, and is four/five pages of beers, then a page for soft drinks, ciders and wines (red or white). My boyfriend opted for a sweet Coconut Beer, which he really enjoyed, and which seems to be hugely popular with their customers. Personally I felt it smelt too much like shampoo to even try, but I’m far from a beer-girl. Cider was calling my name, so I went with the unusual Old Mout Kiwi & Lime – it was delicious! Its actually (quite embarrassingly!) the first time since my operation that I’ve drank a whole bottle of cider, the other ‘first’ time actually involved secretly disposing of some down the sink! This is the perfect cider for those who like less dry drinks, its also not as fizzy as some, however its not as sweet as it sounds. They also do a Passionfruit version (they’re available in Tesco!) which I’ve also enjoyed since my holiday.
Having not been particularly well the night before (overeating on top of a five hour train journey, never good!) I was meant to be sticking to something smaller, something a bit more sensible, like a plain old burger, or even one with a little cheese. Did I follow my self-imposed rules? Nope, I went for The Mac Attack – the menu puts it better than I can, but basically its a cheeseburger with mustard and a mac’n’cheese fritter. Sounded like my idea of heaven!
There it is in all it’s glory – it was massive! No way were we picking this bad boy up and eating with hands, it was a cutlery challenge. I’m afraid to say I actually ended up taking the fritter out and eating it seperately as I wasn’t a huge fan of it in the burger, but on its own every element was delicious! The burgers were cooked lovely and pink (love a pink burger!) and were so meaty, flavoursome and juicy. I also loved the beer mustard – I have a thing for mustard at the moment anyway, but this was amazing. It also paired well with the fritter – which was good although I think our were a tad overcooked as they were very solid. Overall I reckon the burgers could have done with a bit more ‘goo’ as everything was a little solid, but it was a damn good burger. Can’t say I was overly impressed with the chips as they were a little dry, I was having major food envy over other tables onion rings though!
‘Fraid to say I got in a little bit of a mess eating mine…I loved the fact there was complete freedom to make up your own burger – I was so tempted to do that! Their Dirty South burger sounded stunning (I couldn’t deal with the hassle of checking tomato content of the pulled pork), my dream burger would probably be a medium-cooked beef patty, topped with a little pulled pork, some spicy-ish sauce, a little cheese, with some onion rings on the side. Mmm…
I’m now craving a burger – what would be your dream burger?
Continuing on my Link Up, today we have Olivia from Land of Soap writing about healthier snacks to take to university. Olivia is a medial student so I’m really interested to have her tips – I know my university lunches could really be improved!
Eating on Campus can get expensive and boring. At my uni the only thing remotely edible from out canteen is chips, but even that gets boring. Taking snacks is an option, hopefully this post will give you a few ideas of some healthier options.
Choose meals and snacks that emphasize protein over carbohydrate. Protein-rich meals and snacks keep your energy levels even. Sugary snacks will give you energy for a while, but they will eventually drop causing you to feel sluggish.
This is not a food, but it is still pretty important to stay well hydrated whilst studying. Drinking water can help you stay alert for a bit longer. Aim to carry a water bottle with you at all times.
They come in many different flavours so there must be one you might like. A plus side is you can stock up and not worry about them expiring soon. If you put a few in your bag, they will be ready when you need them. If you feel adventurous you can make your own cereal bars, I personally mix 1 cup raisins,1/4 cup smooth peanut butter ,1 cup roasted unsalted almonds, loosely chopped, 1 1/2 cups rolled oats together with warm honey. I spread the mixture out to set in a shallow baking tray, and once it is set it can be cut into cereal bars. Pros– little to no preparation required Cons-some varieties can be very high in sugar
Fruit and Veg
Grapes, strawberries, carrot sticks and cucumber slices make great finger sized snacks. Carry them in a small container, and you will have a noise-free snack for when you absolutely must eat in the library or a lecture. These fruits and veg are mess free so, making them the ideal study partner. Pros– ultra healthy Cons– not suitable for really hot days, (warm cucumbers are the weirdest thing I have ever eaten)
This is not the most interesting idea, but there is no denying the fact that they are filling. Almost anything can be turned into sandwich fillings so do not be afraid to experiment. Add variety to your sandwiches by using tortilla wraps, pitta bread or hotdog buns. Pros– Highly satisfying snack Cons– Requires time to prepare
Nuts are full of healthy fats but they can be calorific if you devour the whole bag! A reasonable amount is about 30 grams(a small handful). Nuts provide vitamin E, calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as a significant source of protein and fibre. Throw some in a sandwich bag or a small lunch box to nibble on when you become peckish. Pros– a protein source packed with minerals and Vitamin E Cons– calorie dense making it easy to eat too much
Popcorn Popcorn is a slightly healthier alternative to crisps. If you want you can make your own in the microwave, but if your anything like me its probably easy to get a multipack bag. Popcorn contains more protein than any other cereal and more iron than eggs or spinach. Pros– fun to eat Cons-Thirst, I wonder why popcorn makes me thirsty.
Thanks Olivia for the interesting insight into portable foods for university – I’ve realised I’ve completely overlooked taking nuts, which is strange as its something I ate a lot at sixth form! I’ll definitely be looking at overhauling my lunches next year.
Welcome to the second in this series…of me spreading some blogger love (and also being a little lazy through exams!). Today I’m going to go through some of my favourite food blogs. I’ve read food blogs for years, since way before I discovered Bloglovin’, and so it feels lovely to be able to share some of my absolute go-to blogs if I want a recipe, opinion, or just some inspiration. Remember, one of my favourites has been nominated for the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards by me (I mentioned it here, but I genuinely wish I could nominated everything!)
Now, warning, this post may make you hungry…
First up we have Thoroughly English. I guess you could call this a lifestyle blog, but I started reading because of the lovely recipes, and the amazing photography. Food photography is (in my opinion) one of the hardest to get right and I’d love to improve. Bess’s photos are absolutely lovely, her writing style is so relaxed and I really need to make this Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup soon!
Next up we have Handbags & Cupcakes, which is another blog which could also go in the lifestyle category…but I put it here because I just love her Peanut Butter Brownies, they are delicious and not too bad for you, what’s not to love?! Rachel got highly commended in the Lifestyle (I think!) category last year, and it’d be lovely to see her there or better again this year.
Now its the girl who actually inspired me to start blogging, Lottie from Lottie’s Little Kitchen. I found her blog via my boyfriend (they go to the same university) and I have been forever grateful as I really look forward to seeing her recipes every week. Her Herbed Roast Chicken inspired my very first Roast, and it was rather delicious if I say so myself!
I’ve not been reading this next blog very often (for just over a week actually) but its fast becoming a favourite. Katie’s Kitchen Journal is another blog with beautiful food photography and one of my favourite layouts – her recipes look awesome too! I really want to try her Courgette and Lime Cake!
Finally I’ve had to include Pinch of Yum, as it has one of my most favourite recipes – I must post my version sometime! I probably unattractively dribbled when I first read the Chicken Bacon Wild Rice Soup post!
Did reading this post make you hungry? Writing it made me a little peckish, so much so I may have treated myself to half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s at the laptop – Peanut Butter Cup is my flavour of choice! Remember to vote for your favourite blogs in the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards!
It’s national Pie Week this week (as I found out walking into Tesco’s to shelves of special buy pastry) and I couldn’t be more excited. I love pies, they form some of my favourite meals. They are just so filling, so versatile, and also pretty quick to make – they freeze really well, so whether you make your own or buy them in you can just throw one in the oven, then come back in a hour and cook some veg. Delicious meal with very little effort.
I prefer to make my own pie (although the Chicken & Ham Pie from the butchers nearby is hard to beat!) filling and then top with ready-rolled puff pastry. I’ve never had the time to make puff pastry from scratch, although I aim to give rough puff a go in the next few weeks. I can, however, make a pretty decent shortcrust. As most students will know, I suffer from a lack of freezer space and often its impossible to freeze fully made-up pies. Its easier and more space-efficient to spoon the filling into a bag, seal, and squeeze in the tiny gaps available. When I do this I really need to make my own pastry, and that’s where this recipe comes in!
I’ve managed to devise the perfect amount to cover my ‘individual pie dish’ – ie the smallest rectangle dish Le Creuset make (I buy mine discounted – and couldn’t recommend the brand enough!). It covers the filling, and leaves just enough to double round the edges to make a thicker, crunchier crust. Not only this but it is extremely quick to make (I can make it in five minutes, before a 9am lectures, then just roll out, cover and bake when I get in) but it is relatively flaky and buttery, and extremely flavoursome from the seasoning. Not quite as good as puff pastry, but a good second-best!
Pastry Ingredients (for a big one-person pie – I am greedy, and I also like lots of pie and no other carbs!)
How to Make Pastry (also, it’s easy to double/triple/quadruple the quantities if you’re feeding more than yourself – just keep the ratio of half-fat-to-flour!)
Add the flour to a mixing bowl, and season well. My preferred seasoning is a little salt, plenty of ground pepper and a little dried thyme. Tip the butter into the flour. The butter should be cubed, and straight from the fridge.
Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until its all breadcrumby. No, that’s not a word, but its a good description of what you’re aiming for!
Now get some cold water in a glass, and add a drop at a tip to the mix. Stir vigorously with a knife to combine, and only add enough water so that the pastry just comes together.
Tip the pastry onto clingfilm, and put in the fridge for at least an hour, or until its nearly dinner time! Then you want to roll it out until it’s about the thickness of a £1 coin.
Typically the day I make this pastry for photographing is the day it fails and decides to stick to my marble surface, and then sink into my pie filling. It was still lovely and crisp though!
You want to bake your pie for about 45 minutes at 180C, until it’s crisp and golden. Brush with melted butter, milk or egg if you want it shiny, though I don’t usually bother.
This pie filling was something quick I knocked up – I sweated down an onion and some garlic, added chicken breast and sealed, then fried some mushrooms off. I then added half (soya) cream and half chicken stock, some lemon juice and seasoning, then simmered for a bit. I find this kind of sauce freezes really well and is so adaptable!
So that’s how to make my version of a simple shortcrust pastry. Let me know if you try it out! Its also a pretty cheap recipe too – far cheaper than buying ready made pastry.
I don’t think that much beats a good pie. I like making my own, I really do, but sometimes you just don’t have the time. I also don’t have the patience to fully encase my filling in pastry and sometimes I just want the stodge. Sometimes you just want to buy a ready made pie and devour it.
Chicken pies are all very well and good, but steak pie is just better. Unfortunately I’m really limited on the steak pies I can buy being allergic to tomatoes. Reliably I can buy Waitrose’s and Pukka’s, although I’m told Morrison’s are me-safe too. When I noticed Pukka All Steak Pies were reduced to £1 in Tesco over the weekend I simply had to buy one. It ended up photographing quite well, so thought I’d review it too!
After 30 minutes in the oven (from chilled) you have what is to me a perfect pie. Crispy pastry on top, but stodgy and almost soggy underneath. Filled with a thick gravy and properly big chunks of meat. Served with plenty of veg and a little extra gravy, its my perfect meal. Normally I wouldn’t serve mash with it, but I had potatoes to use up.
I personally think that, although people frown on them (they are sold in chip shops after all!), Pukka pies are really good quality. I’ve never had any fatty or grisly meat in there, just decent chunks of what actually looks and tastes like steak. The pastry isn’t crisp all the way round, but I kinda like that. Its comforting! I can’t say I’d necessarily spend more than £1 on one of these, but I’m happy to treat myself if I spy these on offer. I’m a girl who likes pie, and this girl says that a Pukka Pie is a pie worth the buy!
Last week I completely forgot to write this post…oops! Instead I will start this week’s installment with a few pictures of my meals over the past seven days;
Some amazing food here – including chocolate sausages, and a red wine gravy – details to come soon! Now onto this week’s menu:
Wednesday – Lentil Korma
Thursday – Something with Leftover Rice
Any ideas? I don’t really fancy fried rice, which is a bit annoying as that’s what I’d usually go for!
Friday – Cottage Pie
My freeze is full of these, so I will take advantage as I’ve had a bit of a poor week in the vegetable eating.
Saturday – Three Bean Chilli
I think I’ll let Friday & Saturday’s meals be interchangeable so I can adjust based on the quality of my veg!
Sunday – House Dinner
We have a guest cook of a housemate’s boyfriend treating us to a meal this week, and I have no idea what is planned. I took an extra turn last week and made Cottage Pie for 6, which ended up being a mammoth but very delicious task!
Monday – Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry
I’ve been craving one of these for quite a while, so fingers crossed I’ll have enough veg leftover – I’ve not been to do a proper food shop in two weeks already, so am running a bit low!
Tuesday – Carbonara
Something quick and easy for shopping night, and carbonara is probably my favourite pasta dish anyway!
Have you eaten something extra-yummy lately?