Food: Best Eats of 2019

If 2019 was a bad year for blogging, it was an excellent year for food. I ticked off a few restaurants and foods off my bucket list and ate some truly delicious meals. Some dishes I’m still thinking about. This post could honestly be a lot longer that it is as there are so many more places I could mention but I’ve decided to keep it to those that immediately came to mind. There have been many other highlights (Afternoon Tea at Hide, and my birthday pie at Holborn Dining Rooms) but if I included all the food I loved we’d be here for days!

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There’s probably a few entries on here that will come as no surprise, but if I’m honest I think that is testament to just how good they are! And so, without further waffle, here’s my top foodie moments and best eats from 2019…

Best London Eat – Home SW15

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Saturdays should start with runny eggs and copious amounts of tea 👌🏻 #yolkporn

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To be honest, this place could have gotten a whole host of awards. Overall best thing I ate. Best cocktail of 2019 (Summer Cup – a mix of Sloe Gin, Ginger Beer and Grapefruit). Best brunch dish (the Messy Nessie – although controversially I don’t think it is quite as good as the Crab Cakes it replaced on the menu).

Home SW15 is just a short walk from home (and yes, invite friends for drinks there and someone will be standing outside your flat), and we do have to stop ourselves going there every single time we want to eat out. I think the guys would get fed up of us if we didn’t! The service is fab, the food delicious – it’s genuinely an amazing  spot. So good we’ve been some of the last to leave on a Friday, and the first to arrive for a hangover fixing breakfast on the Saturday. Oh, and they do a thing called Mac’n’Cheese Mondays. If that’s not a reason to relocate to Putney I don’t know what is!

And the overall best thing I ate? “Those” Cauliflower Cheese Croquettes. So good when they threatened to take them off the menu there was outrage on social media. The vote that followed was genuinely the most tense 24 hours of my life. But they are still on the menu. They are delicious. If you try one thing I recommend make it these.

Best Afternoon Tea – Number Sixteen

I tried a lot of afternoon teas in 2019 – I think I managed 4 or 5 which is pretty good going! This one definitely wins my vote though, I don’t think I would have changed a thing! A bargain at £23 a head, all of the food was delicious and there was plenty of it. Me and my mum went on a girly date midweek in August and sat out in the garden, which was a beautiful, beautiful setting. I’d definitely return, I’m already trying to work out when I can take my besties there!

Best Seasonal Dining Experience – Darsham Nurseries

 photo Darsham_zpsgqfebvqb.jpgThis was probably our top meal of 2019, it’s one I’m still thinking about 3 months on. A daily menu of small plates designed for sharing, all cooked fresh, literally everything we ate was delicious. The mutton with pickled red cabbage on a bed of hummus was my favourite, although I also loved the spiced cauliflower dish. I then had a Cobnut Meringue with Caramel Apples and oh my word. Autumn in a bowl, it was worth feeling sick on the journey back to our hotel!

Best Foodie Holiday  – Scottish Road Trip

 photo Scotland_zpswcmstdtr.jpgIf I had to list my top 10 meals of 2019, other than Home SW15 and Darsham Nurseries the majority of the list would be Scotland based. We ate SO much good food on this trip. We started with a “five course” tasting menu at The Gardener’s Cottage in Edinburgh, which was closer to eight courses (apparently a cereal-sized bowl of mussels is a snack…) and a really great introduction to communal dining. The next night’s dinner at The Outsider really outshone our expectations, with my trout sat on top of a brie risotto being one of the most inventive fish dishes I’ve tried. And the cheeseboard was huge – W couldn’t finish it, so I got pudding and cheese that night…

We then did a brief road trip around the East Coast – we ate the absolute best fish and chips of our lives in Anstruther (and extra marks as it came with bread and butter and a cuppa as standard). I ate many bowls of mussels, including an absolutely wonderful bowl in a light broth at The Tolbooth in Stonehaven. And this was followed by some Scottish lobster, ticking off my one “to eat” aim of the trip. Oh so good, a restaurant I’d highly recommend if you’re in the area.

 

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Best Ice-Cream – Mary’s Milk Bar

Despite visiting Edinburgh many times, the summer of 2019 was the first time we’d made the trip to Mary’s and quite frankly I’m kicking myself for not going sooner. Both of our chosen combinations were unusual but oh-so-good – my Walnut Caramel combined with Blue Cheese was utter perfection in a tub.

Best Sweet Treat – Pump Street Chocolate

We discovered Pump Street a couple of years ago, and were very excited to see they’d opened a dedicated chocolate shop in Orford in time for our visit for our anniversary. Unfortunately we’d planned to visit on our journey home, and flooded roads put pay to that – so I put in an eye-wateringly expensive online order for a few bars and now we treat ourselves to a square or two a couple of nights a week. It is pricey but oh-so-good and you really only need a small amount to make it feel like a treat. The Christmas limited-edition Pannettone flavour was a particular favourite.

Best Cookbook – Ottolenghi Simple & The Quick Roasting Tin (joint winners)

Both of these cookbooks we have used religiously over the past year, and have continued to do so in the first few weeks of 2020. We tend to turn to Ottolenghi on weekends, or when we have people for dinner – whilst the recipes are much more simple (as the cookbook would suggest) than some of this others, they are still a little bit more effort, more expensive or require, more washing up that I generally have patience for on a weeknight! My favourite recipe was the Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Mint and Cumin. We cooked this on Easter Sunday which was a rather warm day, but even so it was worth sweltering in our flat with the oven on for so long!

On the other hand the Quick Roasting Tin requires one tray/roasting dish to be washed, and each recipes is only in the oven for a max of 30 minutes. We have all of the Roasting Tin books and to be honest I’d recommend all of them, but this is my favourite. Highlights from this book include the Chilli Peanut Beef, Baked Gnocchi with Ham Hock and Peas, Cinnamon Spiced Aubergines with Bulgur Wheat, Tikka Spiced Paneer, Baked Orzo with Courgette and the Sesame & Thyme Cauliflower Salad. I’d quite happily eat most of the recipes in this book!

Best Vegan Lunchbox – Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad

 photo Spring Green Pasta Salad 11_zpst3vwhb80.jpgReaders who have been around for a while will know that I challenged myself to a year of vegan lunchboxes in 2019 – and this was my favourite of the bunch. Orzo, fresh green veggies, chickpeas and a bright and zingy lemon dressing. It’s something I’ll continue to make as it was just so, so good!

Most Cooked Recipe – Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon (Ottolenghi Simple)

I would say we cooked this at least a dozen times, if not more, over the year. It is the perfect roast chicken recipe – fresh with lemon, fragrant and always cooked well. The carcass from this recipe also makes the most wonderful chicken stock, which I love to do to make sure I’m getting the absolute most I can out of the bird.

Most Visited Restaurant – Home SW15

See above. We visited quite a bit. We already have our first visit of 2020 booked. Looking at their Instagram stories they have some amazing new dishes popping up this year and we’re already excited to head back.

Most Over-Hyped Food – Chocolate Orange Twirls

And yes, I’m still bitter that I didn’t manage to find one of the things. I originally wrote this a week or so ago – and since then I have actually managed to get one (courtesy of Chris Evans on Virgin Radio no less!). Most definitely hyped-up, but it was delicious. As far as I’m aware Cadbury’s haven’t strayed much into the chocolate-orange territory and they most definitely should. An Orange Wispa would be delicious….

Most Challenging Recipe – Homemade Bao Buns with Pork Belly

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Perhaps not challenging as such, but definitely the most unusual and least intuitive recipe we’ve made. And equally one of the most rewarding. A long process as the pork belly had to be cooked a day ahead, not including the long marination time. Then the dough needs some rising time as well – but it was well worth it and is a project we’ll be doing again. The buns in particular were great and I desperately want to try them with crunchy fried chicken, chilli sauce and pickles…

Favourite Food Blogger – The Mother Cooker

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What an overwhelming response to leeks! Some of you even said they are your favourite vegetable. That makes me even more excited to create recipes for you. So we are starting with this leek carbonara with a garlic crumb topping. Simple but indulgent. Hope you love it! Pasta for life and all that. I’ve also put some top tips for growing leeks on the blog. Happy Friday, have a great weekend 🎉 . . . #pastaforlife #carbsarelife #carbs #pasta #leeks #eatseasonally #sowgrowcook #growtoeat #allotmentlife #foodtographyschool #foodblogger #foodphotography #foodblogfeed #carbonara #eatoctober #growing #gardening #food52 #f52grams #feedfeed #gloobyfood #friyay #onmytable #flatlay #heresmyfood #worldpastaday

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I came to The Mother Cooker fairly late in 2019, when that Leek Carbonara recipe went live and seemed to take over my Insta feed. I actually haven’t made any of the recipes yet, but I want to make nearly all of them – and I love the styling and photography, and how foods appear to focus on seasonality and good flavours. I’m sure I’ll be following this blog closely over 2020!

 

What were your foodie highlights of 2019? What restaurants or dishes should I put on my list for 2020?

Chat: A Fresh Start for 2020

If I had to pick one word to set as a theme for 2020 (as inspired by Jaye Rockett)  it would be “Fresh”. I want a fresh start. Fresh and zing food after the Christmas cheese and chocolate. I’ve been away from this space for a while and, to be honest, I’ve not got an excuse. If anything I’ve had more time in the last six months than I’ve had for years, but yet sitting down in front of my laptop has felt like a really, really difficult thing to do. Stemming from having absolutely no idea what to do with this space I’ve become very demotivated.

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I’ve toyed with starting again from scratch but I have too much love for many of the posts here to do that completely. I have no thought up a vague plan for this space – you may notice a few periods of outage over the next few months whilst I bring my dream to reality, but bare with me. I hope it will be worth it!

This space will still be predominately food, because food makes up such a massive part of my life. As a couple we’ve set ourselves the challenge to cook 100 new recipes in 2020, making sure we get more use out of the many, many cookbooks we own. Over the past two years we’ve stuck pretty diligently to one new recipe a week, so upping the target feels a fair move. I’ve ticked off three so far, so we’re off to a good start!

We’d also like to become more self-sufficient – as much as we can in a one-bed flat in London with no outside space whatsoever. Grow our own herbs, get proficient at making sourdough (we’ve had two failed starters now, so any tips welcome). We’d like to start using butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers a lot more, although this does contradict our goal of saving for a house purchase slightly! Less plastic, less food waste, more veg. Incidentally the Nectar card app analysed my spend in Sainsbury’s over 2019 and 48% was on fruit and veg, which I’m pretty chuffed with – the stats geek in me loves that app!

Another word I’d choose as one of my themes for the year would be “Hedonistic” – or to be engaged in the pursuit of pleasure and self-indulgence. Be that eating what I feel like, blogging when I want, what I want rather than sticking to a schedule. Going to restaurants that are pricier for the love of food, rather than “just” for a special events.

And in non-foodie news, I’d like to make more time for me and be more present. I’d like to record the every-day moments, and not the Instagram-edited highlights. I’d like to just sit and ‘be’ more. I’d like to discover who I am without the curtain of work life and study to define me. Maybe that’s a bit of both a fresh start and being more self-indulgent!

How are you approaching the new decade?

Travel: Where to Eat in Edinburgh

Oh Edinburgh. This place is my all-time favourite – I honestly love it. I have actually tried on more than one occasion to secure a job up there, but the powers above don’t agree. I’d also be wary of living there as I’d worry I’d lose the magic, if you understand what I mean? But why do I love it so much? It’s a hard on to answer, but the mix of buildings, the winding streets, the green spaces and the plethora of good food options all help!

 photo Where to Eat Edinburgh_zpsmydaltr7.jpgThis was actually our fourth trip to Edinburgh as a couple, and we’ve each been a couple of times separately too. We’ve definitely got a good feel for the city and where does the best food – through good luck and plenty of research! Here’s our top places…

 photo Loudons Edinburgh 5_zpspcfbxesf.jpg photo Loudons Edinburgh 6_zpswetbf3fs.jpg photo Loudons Edinburgh 2_zpsiyxwmo8q.jpgFor Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch: Loudons (link)

This was a place I was *really* pleased to find. The recently opened New Waverley branch was a short walk from our apartment, and conveniently placed partway up the Royal Mile. Well priced, a vast selected of breakfast dishes and a really interesting lunch menu too – anywhere that does mac’n’cheese on toast is a good’un in my books!

I highly recommend their Benny’s – my classic with smoked salmon was rich with a perfect hollandaise and couldn’t-be-better runny yolks. My husband also loved his massive Benny stack which came with haggis, black pudding, bacon, tomato chutney and the compulsory poached eggs…

 photo Hula Juice Bar Edinburgh  4_zpsdhp4bw1f.jpg photo Hula Juice Bar Edinburgh  5_zpsmzwnkpmq.jpg photo Hula Juice Bar Edinburgh  8_zpsmktemrni.jpgFor Brunch or Snacking: Hula Juice Bar (link)

This has been our go-to for years. Whilst I am very, very sad about the removed of the cheese-on-toast side to their soups (if their Haggis & Potato Soup is available you must order it), we still squeezed in multiple visits into our trip. Their smoothies are yum (favourites are the Nutty Professor and the Frangipani), the bakes on point. They also do really, really good porridge with a healthy portion of Nutella…

 photo The Gardeners Cottage Edinburgh  7_zpsqtirzflm.jpg photo The Gardeners Cottage Edinburgh  9_zps5n3stxdb.jpgFor a Fancy Dinner: Gardener’s Cottage (link)

I’m going to be doing a full review of this place, but if you’re a foodie then this is my biggest recommendation. The building was once a derelict cottage on one side of Calton Hill, and is now home to some bloody good cooking. The seating is communal style, there’s limited choice (particularly in the evenings) and you absolutely have to book – and pretty much everything we ate was delicious. Go hungry though, we ordered the five course dinner, but it turned into more like eight…

For a Really Fancy Dinner: The Kitchen (link)

This is where W took me on the weekend we got engaged, and it’s got it’s Michelin Star for very good reason. I still think about the dish involving the pig ear (3.5 years on!). Pricey but if you’re celebrating then why not?!

 photo The Outsider Edinburgh 5_zpsfbgxmz8z.jpg photo The Outsider Edinburgh 3_zpscvijcmwr.jpg photo The Outsider Edinburgh 1_zpszxqrxxzu.jpg photo The Outsider Edinburgh 6_zpsc7ioljq9.jpgFor Dinner with a View: The Outsider (link)

I really, really loved this place. What looks like a slightly shabby modern pub on the street opens up as you walk through – big windows with a lovely sunset view of the castle. Service was super-friendly – despite the only waiting staff we saw being rushed off her feet with a nearly full restaurant.

I ate a delicious dish of Sea Trout with Brie Risotto which was flavoursome, indulgent and yet still quite light, and W enjoyed a Hake Fillet with Chorizo and White Bean Broth. My Lime Tart to finish was delicious, and the *massive* cheeseboard W ordered was a gorgeous selection of cheeses, some very good oatcake, apple, grapes, quince paste AND a massive wedge of sourdough. Best thing was he couldn’t finish it, so I had to help. #winning!

This is another one where they will be a full review…

For Ice-Cream: Mary’s Milk Bar (link)

I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to visit Mary’s as it’s somewhat an institution, but we finally did. SO. GOOD. We somehow managed to arrive just as the sun broke through the cloud, so didn’t have to queue (by the time we’d ordered the queue was down the street) but it would be worth queueing for. Creamy gelato, crucially not too soft, and some really interesting flavours.

The blue cheese ice-cream in particular was wonderful – just a hint of blue cheese, then a stronger flavour in some mouthfuls, never over-powering. I’m wishing I could have some more of this! I paired it with a Cinnamon ice-cream which was the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. W’s choice of Peanut Butter & Paprika (so good!) with Whisky Marmalade (needed more whisky) was also solid.

Other Recommendations

In the past we’ve also had good meals at Urban Angel, The Dogs, and Pickles – though it’s been a good few years since we’ve visited these spots. I’ve also got The White Horse firmly earmarked for our next visit, and I really want to visit Makars Gourmet Mash bar too. Stockbridge Market on Sundays is a great visit, particularly if you have cooking facilities (the pie stall looked so good), and they also have plenty of street food options – the queue for the Japanese dumplings was huge, so I imagine they’re good…

Have you ever visited Edinburgh? Where do you recommend?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #63

Happy Monday! I’ve got all the “back to school” feels right now, and it’s probably the first time since I graduated university that I actually miss that September reset button.

Potentially it’s the fact that I’m no longer studying (because despite the fact that I’m so glad I’ve finally qualified, I do miss working towards something!). I kinda feel like my life is a tad empty to be honest – which thinking about it is understandable. This time last year I was juggling planning a wedding, starting a new role at work and studying hard. Fast forward a year and the wedding has been and gone, I’m fairly comfortable in my role and the studying has ended. I’ve even planned our holidays for another year. What next?!

Despite the moan, the best thing to come out of qualifying is time. I now have something called evenings and weekends to do whatever I want with. And that privileged is something I’ve been trying to make the most of. Sorry bank balance! So, what have I been up to lately…?

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  1. Date night at Home SW15. Of course we couldn’t not have our first date night in months anywhere else! We had cocktails and cauliflower croquettes to start (the dream!) and then I had a delicious lamb dish with peas, broad beans and courgettes. These guys certainly know how to make a huge hunk of meat taste light and delicate! I also had a bloody lovely dessert of some kind of Greek pastry with pistachio ice-cream. Dreamy!
  2. The Lamb & Feta Meatballs from my favourite cookbook, Ottolenghi Simple. So. Bloody. Tasty.
  3. An at-home brunch of Potato and Gochujang Braised Eggs. Absolutely amazing, and Gochujang is my new favourite thing. And this post is turning into the Ottolenghi Appreciation Post.
  4. Heading out for a midweek afternoon tea with my mummy. I’d wanted to visit Number Sixteen in Kensington for a while but it’s always fully booked at weekends – but it’s so worth taking a day off for! By far and away the best value afternoon tea in London, in such beautiful surroundings.
  5. Going a gym. This is quite a big thing for me with various body confidence issues, and it’s actually taken me 11 months since the initial enquiry to sign up. If anyone has any fitness class recommendations please let me know!
  6. Some really good veggie burgers. These in-season Beetroot Burgers from the Waitrose magazine were so, so good, though we’re trying out a couple of changes to the recipe this week. I’ll be posting my version soon. We also remade my absolute favourite bean burgers for our vegan lunch challenge. I’ve forgotten how tasty they were!
  7. A new Zara dress. No, not THAT Zara dress, but one I love far more. I’m saving it for our first anniversary!
  8. Speaking of our first anniversary, I’m trying to work out where to go to celebrate. Any Suffolk recommendations?!
  9. A morning spent repotting my houseplants in the sun. It felt so good to get my hands dirty!
  10. Things from the internet I’ve loved lately:

How was your summer? What are you looking forward to this month?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #62

Happy Monday! I’ve been absent from posting for a few weeks – a few techy issues with this space (hosting recommendations anyone?!) and life just got crazy busy, but yet again I’m hoping to be back for good. Since I last posted I’ve had some *amazing* news too which has distracted me slightly…

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  1. I qualified! Yes, right at the beginning of July I got the results for the final exam I took in April and I passed. I’ve essentially been working towards this goal since I decided on my career path at the age of 14 and it isn’t easy. A mathematical degree plus 15 professional exams – tick!
  2. A cheeky cookbook purchase. I couldn’t resist The Quick Roasting Tin and already it’s well worth it. The Courgette Orzo is a winner, and we’ve also loved the Cauliflower Tabbouleh.
  3. Making more Rosemary Focaccia. It’s just so good!
  4. A solo shopping trip. I treated myself to a couple of dresses, some new gym clothes and (because I’m oh so grown up) a coolbag for picnics. The few hours by myself wandering around the shops was bliss!
  5. Purchasing my first Charlotte Tilbury lipstick. Glowing Jen from the Hot Lips 2 collection is the perfect match to the limited MAC lipstick I lost a few months ago. I’m now guarding it with my life…
  6. Eating seasonally. August is probably my favourite month for this as I just love it. You only have to look at the Waitrose magazine for inspo – all the beetroot recipes are on my list to make!
  7. Picking blackberries on Wimbledon Common. They are quite early this year but still super tasty.
  8. Trying on *that* Zara dress and really loving it. I didn’t buy it as I see about 5 a day around London but I kinda regret it, especially now I’m seeing people dye it. I’m imagining it would look great in a mustard yellow or bottle green…
  9. A very rare takeaway treat – we got a big boneless KFC bucket to share and it was gooood. I’m in love with their gravy, and I have to say I think the move to slightly chunkier chips was a good one.
  10. Typing this blog post whilst eating a packet of Oreos. I love them!

What’s made you happy recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #61

Woohoo, officially halfway through 2019! June went by in the blink of an eye (and probably a good thing considering the weather for most of it!) and we’re into July. Less than six months until Christmas (yes I went there…) and our main holiday of the year already over. But what a holiday it was, I’m tempted to rename this post Happy Monday: The Scotland Edition…

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  1. Our holiday. It deserves both a point of it’s own and several other points; it was wonderful. We started with a few days in Edinburgh (my all-time favourite place) and then did a mini roadtrip up the East Coast and then back down through the Carigorns. I absolutely loved it and am itching to explore more of Scotland. Maybe next year…
  2. Scottish seafood. Seriously amazing. One night in Edinburgh I declared I’d had the best bowl of mussels ever, only to take that back a few nights later. We had mussels by the bucketful, lobster, clams, langoustines and so much fish. Just gorgeous and so fresh. Oh, and also the best fish’n’chips ever too.
  3. Communal dining. We ended up doing two communal/family dining experiences during our holiday and both were lovely. It was great to talk to other diners about anything and everything – do you know of anything similar in London?
  4. Ticking off a bucket list item. One of the above communal dining nights was at Ballintaggart Farm, somewhere I’d wanted to visit since reading about it in a foodie magazine last summer. It was beautiful – absolutely faultless food, wonderful service and stunning scenery. So yep, ticked it off the bucket list, but now I absolutely have to stay there.
  5. Scottish strawberries. Some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
  6. Cheese and wine night. On one of the evenings we decided to cosy up in the little studio we’d booked with some local produce and a good bottle of Malbec. Turns out Scotland does cheese rather well, and venison salami is just as delicious as it sounds.
  7. Speaking of cheese, on one night my husband ordered a cheeseboard and couldn’t finish it. So I got dessert (a black lime tart FYI) and cheese. Best. Night. Ever.
  8. A curious dish of Sea Trout with Brie Risotto. Not a combination I’d have thought to put together (and one I was scared to order, but my other choice was tomato-ed) but it was absolutely delicious. Just the right amount of cheese to add richness without overwhelming the fish.
  9. Seeing a polar bear (or four!). As they’re W’s favourite animal we took a day to head to the Highland Wildlife Park, and I unexpectedly really enjoyed it. I thought the enclosures were some of the biggest and well thought out of zoos/parks I’d visited, the animals certainly seemed well cared for and the keepers were passionate and clearly loved ‘their’ animals. Seeing one cry as a litter of Artic Fox pups left their den for the first time showed that! I also may or may not have teared up at the sight of a pack of wolves…
  10. Not eating a bad meal *at all* during our trip. A combination of good luck and meticulous planning.
  11. Finally tracking down my dream dress. I’ve been looking for a linen, pinafore-style, button down midi in black for months and picked one up in the Urban Outfitters sale. It looks dreadful online so I’d not ordered it as an option, but promptly spent the saving (and some more) on a skirt as well.
  12. A vegan afternoon tea at Café Forty One. Part of a day out with my little sister before she starts full time work (how did THAT happen, still feels like she’s in primary school?!) – it was delicious, especially the savouries, and we followed up with Science Museum Lates.
  13. A green bowl of goodness. After over-indulging on holiday this was much needed – quinoa in a coriander-mint-spinach dressing with roasted broccoli, more spinach, avo, seeds, chilli and a little feta. Yum!
  14. An extra week off in London. Not as enjoyable as I had planned (came back from Scotland with a fun-spoiling stomach bug) but I managed a few days out, including a much awaited trip to Lina Stores. Good pasta, I tell you that!
  15. Afternoon tea with my best friend. We were invited to Whittard’s Tea Bar in Covent Garden to celebrate National Best Friend’s Day and it was the perfect day-date. More to come very soon!
  16. Gorgeous weather. Need I say more?!
  17. Actually, we also managed to have good weather in Scotland, which was a surprise. Despite carrying out raincoats *everywhere* we only got rained on once for around 20 minutes, and instead got a little sunburned.
  18. Barbeque with friends. Good company, delicious food and a few board games…
  19. Feeling inspired on Instagram for the first time in a while. Check out my feed and let me know what you think!
  20. Iced Chocolate. I’m sat in a coffee in Shoreditch (get me!) writing this with an iced chocolate and it’s wonderful.

Do you have any holiday plans for the summer? Hope you’re making the most of the lovely weather!

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #60

June already – we’re nearly halfway through 2019 and I have to say it’s sped by for me! I’ve been crazyyyy busy with studying (up until April anyway) and then work that I feel like I’ve barely had time to stop and breathe. I’m hoping things are slightly less hectic over summer as quite frankly I could do with a break…

These last two weeks have been fairly uneventful. We *finally* emptied and fully defrosted the freezer so my priority has been filling it back up again (something about having a freezer full of healthy homemade meals makes me so happy) and there’s been some much needed catch ups with family and friends.

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    1. Solo pizza night. I finally picked up Sainsbury’s current tomato-free offering – a Fig, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola combination which was super cheesy. I enjoyed half of it with a large salad, then the rest worked wonderfully cold in lunchboxes (not vegan, but beating food waste!) the next day.
    2. Fresh mango. I can’t stomach mango juice or mango flavoured things (it was the last thing I drank before coming down with a very bad stomach bug last summer) but fresh mango I’m currently loving! I really love it in salads right now, so fresh and tasty…
    3. Raspberry Gin. We picked some up that’s made in Northamptonshire and it is delicious. Definitely going to be my summer drink of choice!
    4. Some good #yearofveganlunches salads. I’ve been adding a harissa-lemon dressing to cooked lentils and serving with roasted figs and coconut, or some roasted beetroot. So good.
    5. Finding a reduced packet of Mini Eggs. I definitely didn’t eat enough of them at Easter…
    6. Picking up some of the country’s best (in my opinion) pies AND my favourite local sausages from a butchers in Canterbury. That place is probably the thing I miss most from uni, apart from my friends of course!
    7. Amazon Prime. Because when a board game you’ve wanted for a while price-drops by 80% I want to get my hands on it asap.
    8. Getting dates in the diary for lots of dinners with friends. There’s going to be a lot of cooking in the next few months!
    9. Seeing one of my plants grow lots of new leaves. Makes up the the slow death of the aloe vera plant…
    10. A really good sandwich – milano salami, garlic mayonnaise and roasted fennel in baguette. The perfect Saturday lunch!

What’s made you smile recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #59

Oh, how I love Bank Holiday Mondays – that extra day almost makes me feel as though I’ve had a week off! After a crazy few weeks at work it was definitely needed!

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  1. More recipes from Ottolenghi Simple. I know, I’m obsessed. This time I’m loving the Harissa and Confit Garlic Roast Potatoes. Roasties will never be the same again…
  2. Making a really good Chicken Tikka Masala. It tastes just like the takeaway curries of my childhood (before the tomato allergy!) but with a lot more spice and flavour. I think my recipe is just about there so I’ll get it written up soon!
  3. Reading and loving a book that’s a little out of my comfort zone. I’m in the process of joining two book clubs (though can’t make the first meet of one of them, sob!) and one of the books wasn’t really my thing. I’m a lover of gritty crime novels, but trying something new was fun!
  4. A new floor table for next to our dining table. (1) I no longer need to put the full light on when I want to see what I’m eating and (2) it fits our smart bulb so I can get Alexa to turn the light on/off (or different colours!) for me. It’s the little things!
  5. Sainsbury’s have started to make own-brand Lactofree milk. It saves me 50p a week (which isn’t something to be scoffed at if added up over the year).
  6. Finding the perfect khaki-green shirt dress in H&M. A good midi-length, decent material and a really nice belt – all for under £25! I justified it using the money saved on own-brand milk (see point 5)!
  7. Getting good feedback on presentations at work. I’m having free trouble with imposter syndrome at the moment so I’m trying to concentrate on that – any tips on how to feel more confident in your abilities?!
  8. Knowing I get to eat my all-time favourite salad tonight – it’s a combination of blue cheese, leftover brisket, mint, apple, pear and croutons and it is the oddest and most delicious bowl ever…
  9. Racing against the clock to cook one of Jamie’s 15 minute meals. Has anyone ever managed it?!
  10. An absolutely delicious meal at Copper & Ink. I’ve wanted to go since wayyyyy before it opened and it didn’t disappoint. Well worth the journey of nearly an hour from my place!

What’s been putting a spring in your step lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #58

Happy May Monday! As with the last fortnightly update, I’m so pleased to be back to regularly (almost at least!) blogging – it gives me the creative outlet that I would struggle to get in my day-to-day life. Much as I love my job, creativity is not something it hugely offers me and so doing this on the side works so well for me – and concentrating on my other love of food is pretty much a double win. And this last fortnight has certainly been full of good food…

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  1. Another bank holiday weekend full of fun and relaxation. Though it sadly lacked the sunshine and warmth of Easter, the early May bank holiday weekend brought board games (mainly Ticket to Ride, Catan and Forbidden Island) and a delicious roast chicken dinner made up entirely of recipes from Ottolenghi Simple.
  2. Speaking of that roast dinner, the Two Bean Two Lime Salad is quite possibly my new favourite thing. THE most delicious way to eat your greens!
  3. We also used the Bank Holiday to try out a new recipe – and made Pork Belly Bao! I was really pleased with how these looked and tasted given we’d never tried anything like this before. Definitely worth a go!
  4. Unusual Jaffa Cake flavours from M&S. The jury is out on the Peach & Passion Fruit (limited edition, grab a pack and let me know what you think?) but I’m very intrigued by the raspberry ones so watch this space…
  5. A surprisingly good throw together salad of chorizo slices, cheddar, salas leaves, mint and lemon. Yum!
  6. A solo dinner of fish fingers. We’re on a freezer run-down to de-ice it, so managed to score a solo dinner to nab the fish fingers. Such a guilty pleasure! Though unfortunately we’d emptied the freezer of bread so I couldn’t pop them into a sandwich…
  7. Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cakes. A classic and a goodie – and a recipe I’ll be sharing very soon.
  8. Kindle Unlimited. I’ve finally started shelling out for it and it’s the best decision ever. Though very glad I waited until post-exam as there are SO many page-turners available. I’m also joining a couple of book clubs so it’s been alllllll the reading for me!
  9. A whole month of clear skin. Let’s hope I haven’t jinxed it!
  10. An absolutely delicious dinner at The Royal Oak. I didn’t try the signature Njuda Scotch Egg, but my Pea Salad was delightfully fresh and my Bavette Steak with Wild Garlic? So good. I also thought £40 for those courses plus two large glasses of very decent wine wasn’t bad at all. But maybe I’m too used to London prices?

What have you been loving lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #57

Happy Monday! I’m proud to say that there has not been radio silence this last fortnight, with a couple of blog posts actually making it through the drafting-editing and all the way to the publishing stage. I’m so thrilled to be back typing away in my little online space, although I’ve recently had a paddy, thrown all my toys out of the pram and decided I hate a lot of the photographs I’ve already shot. And so now I’m facing reshooting a load of recipes… so yep. On the plus side, that means making and eating them all again…

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  1. The glorious sunshine of the Easter weekend. Not only was it the first time I could actually enjoy the Bank Holiday thanks to exams being before Easter (the novelty!) but the weather gods did us proud. Getting some much needed Vit-D is definitely a highlight of the last fornight!
  2. I also took an extended break, heading up to my parents the Tuesday before Easter to celebrate my Dad’s birthday, get in some doggy snuggles and just get out of London. I love living in London, but there’s something about the (non-polluted) fresh air and being able to get out into the countryside that makes me so happy.
  3. Ottolenghi’s slow-cooked lamb shoulder with mint and cumin. Yes, I regretted having the oven on for more than 7 hours on the hottest day of the year but this was absolutely bloody delicious. We’ve always done a lamb roast on Easter Sunday but this was definitely the best. And the leftovers. Ooft. So good.
  4. Speaking of the leftovers, I played around with another of Ottolenghi’s recipes – the spiced shepherd’s pie with butterbean mash. Using leftover meat (with was so tender it carved with a spoon) it was fairly quickly pulled together and the butterbean topping was dreamy.
  5. Is it bad that I’m mentioning the same cookbook three times in one Happy Monday post? We made the Za’atar Leek Eggs for a pre-walk breakfast on Easter Monday and they were so good. We should have maybe cooked off the stock a little more, and our eggs were a tad over, but yum, yum, yum. Preserved lemons are my new favourite ingredient.
  6. And speaking of the walk – we did a lovely 5-ish mile circuit from Kingston, through Bushy Park, through Hampton Court Palace Gardens (the informal ones, because free!) and back down the Thames. We saw an incredibly friendly deer, lots of dogs and had a picnic. Bliss.
  7. A pub lunch in the Leicestershire countryside. Not only was the price of it insane (2 beers, 2 white wine spritzers, 2 lemonades and 3 sandwiches with fries – £33 thank you!) but it was delicious. Beef sandwiches with really good cold but rare roast beef, crispy salty fries and a well dressed salad. Worth the sunburn sitting in the beer garden! (yes, I was wearing suncream)
  8. Taking my grandma through my wedding photos. Such a lovely moment!
  9. Catching up with my girlies. It felt like ages since I saw them (it wasn’t, but I was so distracted with exams I didn’t make the most of it!) so it was lovely to spend some time giggling away.
  10. An afternoon tea. Not a fancy one at Hide this time, but a buffet version to celebrate our friend’s engagement.

What’s made you happy lately? Did you enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend?