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!
A few weeks ago I visited this lovely country pub for my boyfriend (and his dad’s – December/January is an expensive time for me!) birthday. We ate over a Sunday lunchtime, although didn’t go for the ‘Sunday Lunch’ option as a full menu is always available as well as one roast joint.
For clarification – I was not invited to dine by the establishment, and have received no compensation for this review. All opinions are entirely my own and that of my dining companions. Images are from the restaurant’s website, as I didn’t want to use my camera at a birthday dinner. I did email asking for some photos, but the restaurant is understandably busy so I’ve just taken what I could find (after asking for permission of course!).
I was impressed immediately by the very warm welcome. We rang ahead to warn them of my tomato allergy, and on arrival I was given an annotated menu, with things I definitely couldn’t have crossed off, things that were definitely safe ticked, and items which could be altered also marked. This was definitely THE best allergy response I’ve had, so hats off to them! I was also seriously impressed by the use of local ingredients – they even just locally grown/made Northamptonshire oil for frying.
The restaurant/pub itself is very cosy. Smallish rooms (around 5-7 tables), with a lovely gas stove which I was lucky enough to sit directly in front of. I loved that the tables were big though – our table for four was large enough to spread out, which we were thankful for. I hate places where you are all crammed on a teeny table!
We were allowed plenty of time to make our choices, lingering over the bottle of red we ordered. No idea what it was (whilst I enjoy a glass, I’m not a wine expert at all) but it was rather good.
To start, others ordered the Battered Tempura Prawns, and the Scotch Egg. I went for a Duck Leg Hash.
My hash was delicious. The idea of gravy and egg together isn’t one I’d have thought of, and to be honest even having eaten it the thought makes me want to vomit slightly. But it was delicious, and something I’d order again if I felt brave enough. If I was to be critical, it did lack duck – I’d have liked a little more for texture. Everything was perfectly cooked, with a wonderfully runny egg, and properly thick and meaty gravy. It was a massive portion though!
The verdict on the prawns was high praise – crispy and airy batter, a nice spicy and tangy sauce, and a good crunchy salad.
However the biggest case of food envy for the whole table was the scotch eggs. Perfectly crisp and perched on a punch mayonnaise dressing, they looked amazing. They looked even better when cut into, vivid yolk (the sign of good quality eggs) bursting out. I’d never had a proper Scotch Egg before, but I’ll look out for them from now on. I only had a bite, but I’m already craving another…
Onto mains, and the other three in the party all ordered the Slow Cooked Red Wine Beef, whilst I went for the Confit Pork Belly.
I didn’t try the Beef (it being one of the firmly crossed out items on the menu) but it was highly praised. According to others it was rich and melting tender, although one did comment it could have done with a kick or tang to the sauce. We were so impressed with this dish we are preparing to buy Ox Cheeks (the cut used) to make our own version.
My pork was, unfortunately, a rather mixed plate. The pork itself was delicious, and one of the best flavoured and textured bits of belly I’d eaten. The crackling wasn’t so good, and was in fact chewy to the point I was worried my mouth would stick together. Bacon-y vegetables were perfectly cooked and tasted delicious, once I picked out the burnt onions. Not sure if the burn was deliberate or not, but I’d prefer my veg without it. Having said all of that, I really did enjoy the dish – I think the quality of the rest of the meal may have made me slightly picky! And I was suffering food envy as I spotted the Roast Sirloin and Homemade Yorkshires over the other side of the room…
Despite already being full, we finished the meal properly with desert. I went for the Bailey’s Creme Brulee, and other choices were the Ginger Cake and the Doughnuts.
I didn’t hear much about the Ginger cake, but it was devoured and seemed to go down well.
My creme brulee had the perfect crunchy topping, and was creamy and light. The Baileys was only a light hint, for which I was thankful as it wasn’t as sickly as I had feared. The shortbread served alongside was excellent – really good, short and buttery. I could’ve taken a tin of this stuff home!
The star of the show was the Doughnuts. Served in a brown paper bag, searing hot and with a pot of runny jam, they were amazing. Very obviously freshly cooked (and in fresh oil too!), I can honestly say this was one of the best desserts I’ve ever sampled. Again I suffered from food envy.
I can’t comment on the price of the meal as a whole as I didn’t see the bill, however I felt menu prices were reasonable for the quality – you can view the full menu on their website.
All the way through service remained friendly, and I left unwillingly (though partly because it was cold and wet outside, and I’d fallen in love with the stove). I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch at The Red Lion, and wouldn’t complain if I got the chance to visit again. I’m currently working out how to get to one of their Sunday breakfasts (a full fry up, papers, tea/coffee and Radio 2 for £7 – my idea of a perfect weekend morning!), something I definitely want to experience, so I hope it won’t be too long before I return. Until then, I highly recommend this restaurant (and their Valentine’s menu also looks amazingly good, with plenty of dishes I’d love to sample!). They also have wonderful looking hotel rooms, the kind I’d love to stay in for a romantic short break, and run a cookery school which comes highly recommend to me. So much to try! Let me know if you do visit this wonderful place – a hidden gem in Northamptonshire!
It was recently my turn to cook dinner for my housemates; I wanted something warming and comforting so pie was the obvious choice. But I also didn’t want to spend forever cooking! I mean, I do have work to do, and Simulation homework doesn’t do itself (though I wish it would!). In the end I decided to experiment with a quick version of a Chicken & Ham Pie, using a few cheat ingredients.
It turned out to be just what I wanted. The sauce was thick, creamy and full of flavour, the pastry crisp, and enough meat to feel like a good meal without it costing the earth. Served with some mash and plenty of green veg it was certainly a success! Admittedly not the cheapest recipe, but very nice for an occasional treat – I’m sure you could make it thriftier buy roasting a whole chicken breast, making your own pastry/sauce but that really isn’t the point with this cheat’s version!
3 chicken breasts
1/2 packet shredded ham hock (I got mine from Waitrose)
Can of condensed chicken soup
Can of condensed mushroom soup
1 small onion
Seasoning – I used plenty of pepper, onion and garlic powder, a little parmesan and around 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 pack ready-rolled puff pastry
This made enough for two large pies (easily feeding four), one large portion of filling leftover, and 4 pretty sizeable sausage rolls with the leftover pastry.
Finely dice some onions (I have a confession to make – I recently started using a mini food processor to do this for me, and am wondering why I didn’t start sooner!), then soften in a little butter over a low heat.
Meanwhile chop the chicken into relatively big chunks, and fry on a high heat in some oil until sealed. Then add in the onions.
Pour in the two cans of soup, adding around half a tin of water to each one to ensure everything is out.
Stir gently until lump-free, and season with your chosen seasonings.
Gently stir in half of the ham – it will break up slightly.
Divide between pie dishes, topping with the remaining ham.
Top with pastry. If you want a nice shiny top, brush with milk, beaten egg or melted butter.
Bake for around 20-30 minutes at 180C, or until puffed up and golden.
Serve with plenty of vegetables and mashed potatoes, if you like.
Now I’m not saying this is the most impressive of dinners, the most refined of meals. It was just damn tasty and easy to do, and is great for feeding a larger number of people. If you want to make a meal for housemates during a busy period this is just what is needed, and I reckon it would be perfect for busy mums to – its quick enough to prepare after work, or you could even assemble it all in advance and just bung it in the oven.
I also adapted a crumble recipe to make a savoury topping for the leftover filling – for one serving rub 80g of flour in 50g of butter, add plenty of ground pepper and a little parmesan cheese, scatter over the filling, and cake until the filling is very hot, and the topping golden and crispy. Yum yum!
NOTE: This recipe forms an entry to the Co-Op Electrical Shop’s Winter Warmer competition, the details of which can be found here. In short, bloggers are challenged to create a recipe of their favourite winter warmer, be it stew, pie or pudding. I love winter recipes, as I’m just a lover of cosying up by the fire with something comforting, so I’m hoping the organisers will share all the entries in one place!
I can’t believe this is the tenth post of this series! Last week’s menu is all fully updated, so its time to decide what I’m cooking this week…
Wednesday – Cottage Pie
I batch-cooked a load of this tonight – I always add loads of veg to bulk it out, so managed to get four meals out of 200g of mince. I never remember to take photos when I’m cooking with mince (it always looks so unappetising!) but I will aim to get this recipe on the blog too as it’s just great.
Thursday – Sausage Casserole
Another vegetable based meal – I’m going to add celery and carrots to the casserole for extra yumminess!