In case you haven’t heard, it’s been HOT in London over the last few daysweeks months. It certainly feels like months now! The heatwave well and truly set in around June time, and it seems as though it’s here to stay. Luckily we’ve had a bit of rain and a few days of cooler weather just to remind us we are in the UK, but otherwise it’s been a solid few months of sunshine, sweaty Tube journeys and hiding in each shady spot we find. And eating ice-cream. Lots of ice-cream.
I’ve been trying to make homemade ice-cream a little more often this summer. I mean, given we have an ice-cream maker (the KitchenAid attachment) we have no excuse! We’ve found it so fun creating our favourite flavours, including an amazing brown-butter caramel drizzle (so, so good!) – but this is the first non-traditional one we’ve tried. We usually make an egg-custard base and go from there, but this is a cheat which involves no heat at all (which is wonderful, really, given it’s been too hot to consider cooking and baking recently). It’s super-simple, super-easy and only takes a few ingredients. Add in some of your time (most of it is spent waiting at the freezer until it’s ready!) and you’ve got some delicious vegan ice-cream that’s the perfect combination of indulgently creamy and refreshingly lime-y.
I’m not at all claiming that this is ‘healthy’ ice-cream, it’s still got heck of a lot of sugar and fat in it, but it does make my tummy happier than your standard dairy ice-cream whilst still being just as creamy and delicious. I also find the zingy-ness of the lime makes it super-refreshing and thirst-quenching, ideal on a hot day!
Recipe (makes around 6 greedy servings)
400ml coconut milk, shaken well
2 limes, zest and juice
60g sugar, caster is best here as it dissolves easier
Optional – some vegan yoghurt, just to increase the creaminess slightly
This recipe is really easy – simply mix all of the ingredients together, making sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Chill for thirty minutes, then churn in your ice-cream machine until frozen and ice-cream-like (around 20 minutes). Freeze until needed, and serve with extra lime zest. It’s also great served with gingerut biscuits!
If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, chill for around 3-4 hours, whisking every half an hour, then freeze until needed.
This has become a real favourite recipe, and now I’m itching to try other coconut milk ice-creams. Next I’ll be doing a chocolate version, which I’m hoping will be like a frozen Bounty bar!
Given my impromptu break from blogging, I thought I’d do a quick run-through of all the delicious things I’ve been trying lately – and some of the not so delicious too! We’re both quite experimental cooks, so if there’s a particular fruit/veg in season, or some kind of new ingredient we find, we tend to add it to our weekly shop and do *something* with it. Added to this some of the PR gifts I am lucky enough to receive (they’re all clearly marked in this post) and we get to try new foodie bits quite regularly. Some are really, really not to our taste, others become firm favourites. Let’s see what made the cut recently!
In short, Degustabox is a subscription box that sends out a variety of shelf-stable food items, some which are new to the market or are a little bit innovative. Others are well-known, but to be honest that wouldn’t put me off – for example this month we received a tub of Cadbury’s Highlights hot chocolate powder. We all know and love Cadbury’s, but I’m certainly not complaining about receiving that!
More excitingly, we received some Rosie’s Pig Flat Tyre Rhubarb Cider which I really enjoyed – it was fruity, sharp (not overly sweet) and a perfect summer evening drink. I also really enjoyed the raw Salted Caramel Brownie from Pulsin – it was very brownie like, not overly sweet and the perfect non-guilty treat. The London Crisp Company had included a couple of packets, which always goes down well (though W snaffled the salt’n’vinegar, so we’re currently not speaking…). I’m also super excited to try the mixes by Capsicana, I’m still not eating red meat after my illness, but I’m going to find the courage to try the Brazilian spice mix with some beef soon. Not so successful was the Salad Cream. Sorry Heinz, I’m just not a fan!
Other things included a Miso soup mix and some cheesy rice crackers – these have gone to live in my desk at work for when I forget my lunch or need an extra snack. There was also some sparkling Ribena, and an iced coffee with added protein – coffee sends both of us a bit jittery, so I’ll be giving this to a friend who will appreciate it more.
Head over to my Instagram profile and have a look at my story highlights to see everything included in this month’s box!
Not a cut of pork I’ve been too familiar with in the past, we picked up a fillet and have done a couple of things with it (one will serve the two of us generously!). We stir-fried it in a Thai dish which was delicious, and we also wrapped it in a mix of spinach and parma ham, encased in pastry and served as a Wellington. Yummy and a lot cheaper than you’d expect!
Jamie Oliver’s Bean Burgers
(Picture by Delicious Magazine Australia, who published the recipe)
I have been wanting to make decent bean burgers for years, but so often they are either too mushy, too bland, too ‘raw spicy’, or just too difficult to fry. However this is definitely the best recipe I’ve tried – it’s got a decent texture, it fries pretty well (and also works from frozen too). I do tend to fry in my oven-proof pan, then throw in the oven when I finish off a salad, and I also tend to leave off the seeds – but they’re still damn good. I love to serve with pink pickled onions in pittas…
Speaking of Pittas, these bean burgers work *really* well in the BFree Pittas.* I find these pittas to be super tasty – not quite as good as homemade, but really good when you want to fill them. They hold together reasonably well, taste almost grilled, and are thin enough so they don’t take over from the main event. I’ve also really enjoyed them filled with a Mexican grilled chicken and salad concoction. They are also wheat and gluten free as far as I’m aware!
We recently attended another workshop at Bread Ahead Bakery (read about the Doughnut one here) – all about Sourdough. It was quite technical, I came out feeling as though I’d been back to school, but it was wonderful too. We came home with lots of bread, which we enjoyed as a posh chicken sandwich, toasted with avo and (using the rye bread) spread with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon and cucumber.
I’ll be doing a full review post in a few weeks, but if you’re interested in starting to bake more sourdough then I highly, highly recommend you try this class. If you want a bit of baking fun, maybe try one of their other classes as it was more intense than the Doughnut one.
Ben & Jerry’s ‘Diet’ Ice-Cream
It’s true! It doesn’t sound like it should be right, but our loyal friends Ben and Jerry have indeed launched a Moophoria range which is billed to have 50% less fat that similar ice-creams. I like to enjoy my ice-cream without worrying about calories, so I’d never have bought this, but we tried the Caramel Cookie Fix at SCOOP and really, really enjoyed it. You couldn’t tell it was low-fat and the textures were spot on. I’ll be buying more!
SCOOP, by the way, is an exhibition all about the history of ice-cream. It’s short and sweet (quite literally), but was a good way to spend 45 minutes in Kings Cross and involved spending 5 minutes in a giant freezer (perfect during the heatwave – worth the entry fee for this alone). You get to make your own ‘cheats’ ice-cream, try some glow-in-the-dark stuff and buy some unusual flavours (Dandelion anyone?!) when you’re done. I also learned so much about my favourite cold treat, so it’s well worth it.
As an added extra, my go-to ice-cream this summer has been Sicilian Lemon Curd & British Raspberry Ice Cream from the Co-Op. It’s like a fancy raspberry ripple and is SO good!
I mentioned this alcohol-free drink for wine lovers a while back, but thought I’d be a little more detailed here. Basically it’s soft drink that’s designed to mimic wine – in that it’s not too sweet, has a more complex flavour and enhances food. It’s also got a blend of vitamins, minerals and amino acids meant to replace those usedup in dealing with alcohol – whilst I’m not overly convinced by the science behind this, I did find the drink super thirst-quenching on a hot afternoon. It is, however, very botanical and fragrant which put my friends off. I was the only person who actually liked this, but I have to say I’d happily buy another bottle. There’s a Rose version too which I’m desperate to try…
When I agree to meet a friend for a drink, the heatwave made us change our minds towards iced coffee. Then nowhere had ice. We ended up going to Ed’s and ordering milkshakes – not only did the metal cup feel wonderful to hold, but my Nutella Milkshake (made with fro-yo rather than ice-cream for apparently 90% less fat – yikes!) was absolutely delicious. Thick, creamy and absolutely full of Nutella flavour. Yum yum yum…
Yep, I’ve nearly reached the age of 25 and I’d never eaten a Chinese before last weekend! Embarrassing I know, but now I’ve tried it I’ll definitely be back! We were invited to try out the menu at Royal China* and on the whole it was a success. There were dishes that weren’t to our taste, but Crispy Aromatic Duck? New favourite thing! I’ll be reviewing the restaurant in full so keep your eyes peeled – but what is your go-to Chinese dish? I need to know what I should try next!
Dr Oetker’s “Yes It’s Pizza” Vegetable Based Pizzas (link)*
This is pizza, but not as you know it. A unique new range of vegetable dough based pizzas, with further tasty toppings create a really vibrant pizza – and I’m not kidding, the beetroot base is BRIGHT! I had to keep checking the packaging to make sure I wasn’t eating tomato!
The pizza doesn’t taste too strongly of beetroot, the cheese is nicely flavoured, and the toppings of courgette, peppers and ham is a really good combo. I certainly enjoyed it and would be happy to eat it again and again!
Cold Brew Tea
I know Twinnings have recently launched something as it’s all over my Instagram (not sponsored – I’ve not been involved with the campaign!), but Sainsbury’s have also launched their own brand rather of cold-brew teabags. The flavour combos are a bit more limited, but they are a *lot* cheaper and I’m a fan. The one with Watermelon and Lime has been a winner so far…
After announcing loudly at work that courgettes are my favourite vegetable (try living that down in an all-male team…) my boss presented me the next day with some monsters he’d grown himself. Absolutely huge (one only fitted into my fridge at an angle) – so I’ve eaten a lot of courgette recently. Think tarts, soups, pastas and even cake. Of course my Courgette Risotto featured too…I’ll be doing a post with some of my favourite courgette recipes soon.
*Items marked were gifted – but all opinions are my own. No money exchanged hands for this post!
What foodie things have you tried lately? Has anyone tried the new Malteser Buttons? I’m determined to get my hands on some!
I’m one of those people that will pretty much always bring their own lunch to the office. Despite getting a really generous allowance in our office canteen each day, I’d sooner control what I’m eating (and how much, our servers are more than generous!). I also can’t imagine ever feeling comfortable with buying lunch everyday – at £5 (at least) near our office the thought of spending upwards of £100 a month on lunches alone is pretty horrific compared to our modest food shop budget.
Bring my own lunches allows me to save money, up my veggie intake (because vitamins), and choose exactly what I want to eat. I tend to make enough of the same thing to last 2 or 3 days, simply as it’s easier, but also never making enough for the whole week. I certainly don’t want to eat the same lunch every single day! These next few recipes are just some of the ones in my regular rotation…
Homemade falafel are one of my favourite lunches, whether I’m in the office or at home. They’re also great to have on stand-by as a snack or emergency dinner (I freeze them and heat in the oven from frozen). I usually serve them with a giant salad and some kind of grain, though I do love them piled into wraps with hummous or yoghurt….
Beetroot and Yoghurt Salad
I absolutely cannot get enough of this salad. Based on this BBC Good Food recipe, it’s creamy and tangy from the yoghurt, spicy from the harissa, earthy from the beetroot and crunchy due to the chickpeas. Mint leaves add freshness and served with homemade pitta bread it’s the perfect low-fuss light lunch. I sometimes add extra green to this in the form of spinach, watercress and/or rocket, I can imagine it being the perfect side for a BBQ too…
This is the only recipe in this post that I can’t imagine working well as a lunch-box – ideally you’d want the veggies to be warm and the yoghurt fridge-cool. But it is the perfect weekend lunch, and one I know I’ll be making again and again…
One of my favourite bakes of 2018 so far, these spicy sausage rolls are perfect for lunch on the go. I’m determined to fill my freezer with them ready for impromptu picnics in the sun! Hot with harissa, flaky pastry and flavourful filling, they are a far cry from the soggy sausage rolls you can buy from certain high-street retailers…
It might be a mouthful of a recipe title, but this is so super-easy and quick to make. Packed full of protein, I love this in my lunchbox for work, or warm on a study day. Perfect served with a simple green salad, you can find my recipe for one including chorizo here. If I fancy a change, I also LOVE this recipe. I kid myself the amount of kale makes it healthy, but given I also pile in a mountain of feta I’m not too sure…
I recently wrote a post about my favourite frittata recipes (including an amazing Pesto, Spaghetti and Spinach one) so if that’s your kinda thing then check it out!
All hail the quinoa salad! Quinoa is quite often my grain of choice at lunchtime – it’s filling, light and doesn’t irritate my stomach. It’s also a great base for loads of different flavour combinations, though my favourite way to eat it is slathered in a ginger-y, zingy peanut butter dressing together with plenty of crunch fresh veggies (see this recipe). I also can’t say no to a salad which combines quinoa with citrus flavours, feta, nuts and pomegranate seeds…
We all have that one dish in a restaurant that we always order, no matter what. Whilst in most places I do try to order something different each time, in Bella Italia I always, always go for the Pollo Siciliana. Pasta tubes with chicken, courgette, and spinach in a creamy tarragon and lemon sauce, it’s zingy, indulgent and totally yummy. I always say I’ll try something else but I find it pretty irresistible!
It’s also a dish I find myself craving quite often, but eating out costs pennies and this gal is saving for a wedding after all – so I made it myself. This one isn’t *quite* the same as the original, but it’s super quick to make and satisfies the craving. I’ve cut out the chicken to make it meat-free, and switched out the spinach for kale as I prefer the texture. I’ve also added peas to up the veg content. The result is a dish that’s super zingy with lemon and packed full of veg. I’ve kept the flavour intense by slowly frying garlic and dried tarragon, adding a splash of white wine and using the best quality pasta I could find. It’s relatively guilt-free too – with the cream limited to a single splash and no cheese added. The perfect mid-week meal!
Recipe (Serves 1)
50g good quality pasta
1 medium courgette
2 handfuls kale, thick stems trimmed and discarded
1 handful frozen peas
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
Pinch dried chilli flakes
Splash of white wine
Splash of cream (double or single works fine – as does creme fraiche, mascapone etc)
First up, slice the courgette thinly (around the thickness of a £1 coin). Fry in a little olive oil with some black pepper until starting to soften, then set aside. In the same pan add a little more olive oil, turn the heat down as low as possible and add the crushed garlic clove, the tarragon and the chilli. Allow to cook slowly for around 10 minutes, adding the lemon zest halfway through, whilst you boil the pasta and steam the kale.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and reserve a mug of the pasta water. Turn the heat up on the garlic and add the wine, before allowing to almost fully evaporate. Add in the pasta, steamed kale, peas and courgette, along with the lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Toss together until the peas and defrosted and warmed through, adding pasta water if necessary to loosen. Stir through a splash of cream, and serve immediately. Ideally with a glass of wine and your favourite TV series.
Before I start, I should make it clear that this isn’t going to be a debate about whether you *can* eat meat completely ethically. Eating meat or not is a personal choice for each and every one of us to make, and one thing I don’t care for is pressure to do one thing or the other. What I do care for, however, is making sure what ever I eat makes me feel good both in terms of health, yumminess and ethically.
If you are completely against eating meat, this post probably isn’t for you. I eat meat. I find my body and mind becomes unhappy without it, and so I eat it. I also grew up with grandparents running a smallholding, so I’m comfortable with the idea of meat production and have been around that kind of thing from a fairly young age. If you’re not particularly comfortable with that idea, I’d suggest stopping reading now.
Buy Higher Quality Meat
Our goal over the next year or so is to transition to only buying meat from our butches, who assure us their producing farms rear happy and healthy animals. It means a lot to me that the meat I eat has been raised well, has seen sunshine, ran around in fields. The issue with this approach is, of course, the price. It is expensive.
For some meats, the quality of butcher-bought items far outshines it’s supermarket equivalent. In particular I find pork and steak to be infinitely better sourced from our butcher. Chicken breasts and mince I’m more on the fence about, though there is still a difference. I don’t dare try a whole roast chicken from the butcher as of yet, as I know it will bring on childhood memories and there’ll be no going back.
By buying higher quality meat, not only do I feel better about the life that animal was able to have, I’m also able to support smaller, local business and farms. Any time my money has gone to ‘Bob the Butcher round the corner’ rather than Tescos is good for me!
Become a ‘Flexitarian’ or Part-Time Vegetarian
Whether you see this as a ‘failed vegetarian’ or not, this is something I personally have seen become a lot more common recently. I have a friend who eats and cooks only vegetarian dishes at home, but will eat meat whilst eating out. I myself try to eat vegetarian breakfast and lunches at least 6 days a week, and a vegetarian dinner a couple of times a week (I’d love to up the dinners, but W isn’t quite on board!).
This is kind of similar to eating less meat, but handy if you’ve got a member of your household who isn’t too fond of eating full-on veggie meals! In essence, you’re making the same meals as before, but using less meat – say around half. You can then bulk it out with veggies and pulses, so you’re still eating a ‘meat’ meal but with less impact to the environmental and your purse.
I usually add lentils to bolognese to reduce the mince needed, and a decent chilli-con-carne just begs out for lots of beans (kidney, black and borlotti are my go-tos). Chickpeas add a great texture to curries, whilst adding an egg to a fish pie is a great way to up the protein.
Eat Local/In Season
This is important whether you’re vegetarian or whether you eat meat. There’s very little point in proudly proclaiming you’re helping the environment by not eating meat when you’re eating carrots from Spain, sugarsnap peas from the US, brocoli from Jordan, avocados from South America, if you’re eating Strawberries in the winter.
Eating seasonally is SO important. Eat what’s good at that moment will mean not only does it taste better, it’s also travelled less, and will likely be cheaper too. There’s something about a perfectly fresh British strawberry that is a million times better than one that has flown several hundred miles to get to your bowl of sugar and cream!
Choose Sustainable Meat & Fish
This is particularly important for fish – there’s so much overfishing going on, when it’s not at all necessary. Instead of cod, try pollack or coley. Oily fish like salmon can be replaced with mackerel. You’ll find these options are often so much cheaper – we can buy two mackerel fillets for less than £2 which is a great thrifty meal that’s packed full of proteins and good fats.
Food wastage is my ultimate pet peeve. I hate it. I hate the thought of shops and restaurants throwing out perfectly good food (I’m the first to ask for a doggy bag when I can’t finish my meal!), it annoys me beyond words when we have to throw out food at home. We’ve taken to trying to use every single bit of meat we buy, getting the most value out of the money we spent.
The easiest example is a whole chicken. There’s not many Sundays that go by without us enjoying a Roast Dinner, and chicken is our go-to because, lets face it, it’s the cheapest. We’ll usually get a large chicken, which will serve us generous for our roast, and will also do at least two other evening meals (and usually either a couple of lunches or a meal for one). Not only this, but we’ll also use the carcass for making stock – and it’s not as difficult or as time consuming as you’d think. Sure, a three hour simmer makes the best stock, but I frequently only give it half an hour or so. And to make it even more thrifty? Don’t cut up fresh veggies to use making stock! We throw all the odds and ends (onion tops, celery hearts, carrot peels, even onion skins) into a bag in the freezer, then use this to make stock. One large bag of veg offcuts, one chicken carcass and around 3 litres of water, simmered for up to four hours on the lowest heat possible, will give the nicest chicken stock you’ve tasted – and all out of ingredients that would have otherwise been thrown away.
Basically, one chicken will do us a roast dinner, 2-3 evening meals and stock for 3 further meals. More ideas for using up leftover roast chicken will be coming up in a post soon, but read this for an initial guide…and know that my current favourite involves frying shredded chicken with chipotle paste and piling into tacos with an avocado and sweetcorn salsa. Delicious!
Are you a meat-eater, vegetarian or do you try to combine the best of both?
A year on from my trip to York (almost to the day, I believe!) and I’ve finally gotten round to getting this post live. Whenever we head off on any trip food is at the very front of our minds, and it was no exception when we went to York – albeit with the exam stress I planned a bit more last minute that I usually like to! I asked for recommendations, read plenty of blogs and reviews – and we ended up eating some wonderful meals. Here’s just the top 5…
Pig & Pastry
Highly recommended by Amanda, this was high on my list for somewhere to visit. It was a tad over-busy for my tastes (it’s popular with mums and buggies, and it’s titchy-tiny) but we sat outside in the Spring sunshine which was really rather pleasant. W ordered the Chorizo Scrambled Eggs and, whilst the portion size wasn’t huge, it was good value for the price. The eggs weren’t the creamiest we’ve had, but far from the worst, and the chorizo was both perfectly tasty and perfectly cooked.
My breakfast, however, was better in terms of both portion size and taste. I went for a special, involving a toasted muffin, a spiraled Cumberland sausage and creamy Hollandaise sauce. It was buttery, herby and absolutely delicious. Even the slight over-charring on the sausage failed to put me off scraping the plate clean.
No trip up to York is complete without a trip to Betty’s, and I finally posted my full review earlier this month. We avoided the usual Afternoon Tea, instead sampling a selection of dishes from Betty’s Swiss heritage. In essence it was a lunch of cheesy carbs – can’t get better than that!
We completely lucked out here, as I only heard of the place the week before our trip – and somehow managed to grab a table at the last minute. One of my best meals of 2017, it was utterly delicious. We had a selection of small and larger plates shared between us – it’s a seasonal menu, mainly British ingredients but with clever twists. Highlights were a cod, pineapple, coconut and lentil dish, and I also loved a mackerel and melon combination.
This is the kind of place I really, really wish existed in London. We spent a good few hours in here, with a wine flight for me and a port flight for him, chatting about everything and anything. We also put together our very own cheese and meat platter – which was excellent value and the perfect size for a meal for two. Everything was beautifully fresh, even the bread. It also introduced me to Old Winchester Cheese (it’s a kind of cross between parmesan and cheddar and is my favourite cheese ever). The only downsides were the desserts which, whilst yummy, were rather overpriced.
Brew & Brownie
Despite my brunch at Pig & Pastry being super yummy, this turned out to be my favourite place in York. Perfectly located for a pit-stop for coffee and cake (or a brew and brownie!), the breakfast we had on our final day was also really good – and the portion size so generous it even defeated W.
Their Brownies were excellent, with a variety of flavours available daily – my personal favourite being the Terry’s Chocolate Orange one (something about that combination of flavours is just so delicious). Hot Chocolates were both rich and light at the same time, though the lightness was perhaps diminished at my insistence of having cream and marshmallows. I highly recommend you visit here, if just for cake.
Breakfasts were also excellent. I went for the pancakes, and a year on they remain some of the best I’ve ever, EVER eaten. They were served with syrup, yoghurt and a perfect tart fruit compote – and nope, I couldn’t finish them. I enjoyed trying though! W also couldn’t finish his (a very rare occurrence!). He had ordered the Black Pudding Stack (black pudding & smoked back bacon stacked with fried hen’s egg, cherry tomato, mustard dressing, toasts). It didn’t sound overly filling on paper, but it was huge. It looked absolutely delicious, but with roasted tomatoes I obviously couldn’t steal a bite…
And this, my friends, is my all-time favourite way to eat eggs at home. I mean, I LOVE boiled eggs with soliders, I love scrambled eggs (especially with pesto and parmesan) but these are whole-new-level yummy. It’s got the gooey running yolk of the boiled egg, combined with the comforting creaminess that reminds me of a pile of scrambled eggs. Best of both worlds and I could quite literally eat them every day of the week.
It took me quite a while to get the timings down for these – I’d been sticking to the “safer” method of cooking the ramekins inside of a roasting tin of boiling water but actually I find it works better just popping the ramekins directly in the oven. Whatever method you choose, once you get your cooking times right (ovens can be funny creatures, the one in this flat DEFINITELY takes longer to cook things that our previous one) I am pretty sure you’ll fall in love with these eggs too. Creamy, peppery, a little bit cheesy. They can be jazzed up and cooked on top of things (mushrooms and leeks both work really well). But whatever you do, serve with a giant pile of buttered toast.
Recipe – to make 1 pot (I like to serve one egg per pot, you could probably add two but I find the cooking times even more difficult to master)
A small amount of butter, to grease
3 tablespoons creme fraiche seasoned with a little salt and plenty of black pepper
1 medium egg
A small handful of grated parmesan
Heat the oven to 160C, and lightly grease a ramekin with butter. Add in one tablespoon of the seasoned creme fraiche, and sprinkle over a third of the grated cheese. Crack in the egg, spoon over the remaining creme fraiche (try to cover the yolk, but be careful not to burst it!), then cover with the remaining cheese. If you’re adding any veggies, saute them in butter and add in between this layer of creme fraiche and cheese. Pop onto the middle shelf of the oven and bake until the eggs are cooked to you liking.
I like quite runny eggs, with the white not-quite-set and mine take 10 minutes in my oven. I reckon you’d need 12 minutes for fully-set white, 15 minutes for set but still soft yolks, and 20 for a fully set egg.
And now I’m craving these eggs. It’s currently coming up to half past five on a Sunday evening, we have a roast chicken in the oven – is it appropriate to have a dish of these a snack?!
Now, Betty’s is well known for it’s cakes, it’s pastries, the Afternoon tea. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that their heritage actually encompasses not only Yorkshire, but also one of my most favourite countries – Switzerland. The founder of Betty’s was indeed Swiss and their influence still shines through on the menu today. From luxurious chocolates to a hearty rösti to traditional Bircher muesli, there’s hidden Swiss delights throughout the menu.
And with it being a bitterly cold afteroon and our trip to Switzerland still a few months away (our visit was shamefully nearly a year ago!) it would have been rude not to indulge…
It was a tough decision, but in the end we were both happy with our plates of food.
I went for the Swiss Alpine Macaroni, with Penne pasta, dry-cured bacon, new potatoes and a rich cream
sauce, with copious amounts of melted Raclette cheese. Oh my. This was good. However first thought of putting potatoes into a cheesy pasta dish deserves a medal. The bacon was thick, so that it was both crisp and juicy. The pasta was perfectly cooked. The cheese sauce strong, but not too overpowering. I’d happily eat this again. And again. And again.
W ordered the Bacon & Raclette Rösti – A Swiss speciality of grated potato, Gruyère cheese and cream,
pan-fried with bacon and topped with melted Raclette cheese. This, with the addition of the cream, was richer than the ones we’ve tried in Switzerland, but delicious none-the-less. I’ve just checked their current ‘specials’ menu and there’s a glorious sounding Turkey & Cranberry Rösti (yes, I am writing this review on my Christmas break, Lord knows when I’ll actually get round to posting it).
We’d planned to order a small selection from the Cake Trolley for pudding, but these mains were rib-busting (in a good way!) and we were far too full. Another time that Engadine Torte will be mine!
Have you ever been to Betty’s? Did you stick to tea and cake, or try some of their Swiss dishes?
Despite my extensive collection of cookbooks, I’m all too guilty of Googling for a recipe or some dinner inspiration. It’s something I’m trying to change, and one of the ways I’m combating this is that when I do Google, I try to use a blogger’s recipe rather than from a standard recipe site.
This has two benefits – one in that I’n boosting their views (always good to give something back to the community I guess, especially as I *try* to go for smaller bloggers), and two in that it’s giving me some (much needed) photography inspiration. And I’ve found some damn good dishes too…
These are just the ones I have personally tried and loved. Some of them I might have edited slightly, then posted the results on my own blog, some of them I love just how much they are.
Now this is super-yum. I generally leave out the feta unless we have it for other recipes (mainly because having it unaccounted for in the fridge leads to me baking it with honey and slathering it on bread), but the combo of spicier sausages and squash is a winner. So, so tasty!
Half Baked Harvest’s Chicken & Orzo One-Pan – link
This is one we made only the other week. Super simple and, although it can take a while, it doesn’t take a huge amount of chopping and hands-on time. The next time we made this we’ll probably leave out the lemon slices as they were a tad bitter for our tastes – and I’ll be trying other versions too. I’m thinking a combo of mushrooms and parmesan would work so nicely with the chicken and orzo! The best thing about this recipe? It uses a small amount of wine, so the rest of the bottle needs drinking…
Rhyme & Ribbons Lentil & Mushroom Bolognese – link
You know me, I loveeee a Bolognese. Amanda was the person who first inspired me to make a vegan mix out of mushrooms and lentils and I love her for it. This is the perfect dish to have in the freezer as it defrosts easily in the pan with a bit of water, and it’s also great to take to work and heat in the microwave.
Okay, so this recipe is super dangerous – because you’ll never be able to throw potato peelings away again. We don’t tend to make the dip, just adding plenty of spice to the potato and devouring whilst still hot enough to burn our fingers. It’s a Sunday afternoon staple for us as we prepare our roast.
Fesenjan was the favourite thing that I cooked in 2017, and having already made my first batch a few weeks ago it’s safe to say it’s still a dish I love. Amy Liz’s was the first recipe that I tried and, whilst I’ve edited it since (my version is here) it’s still a classic. It’s slightly safer in it’s spicing so would be the way to go if you hadn’t eaten any of the flavours before.
This is one of my go-to lunches – it makes a *tonne* of the stuff, it lasts really well in the fridge and it’s just so damn tasty. I have edited the recipe slightly (mine is here), but the original is still super tasty. The dressing is one you really have to make to your own tastes – I like a zingy kick from the lime personally.
Okay, so I don’t get the chance to do her level of toppings on the regular morning (read: ever, because I’m always far too hangry to go that far) but I’ve taken her method of cooking my oats to heart. A long soak (I do tend to do around 20 minutes in boiling water), a slow simmer. My porridge is 100x better!
A bonus of being a foodie blogger is that is gives you the perfect excuse to visit new places. And when a pancake parlour popped up in a charming little town not too far from my parent’s, welllll I just couldn’t say no! Olney is a favourite place of ours to go for a few hours – cute little shops and boutiques, an excellent monthly farmer’s market and a nice country park nearby to take the dog. Now this place has opened there’s yet another reason to visit.
Olney Pancake Parlour was the venue for a mum-daughter-sister date, and what a choice it was. Yes, it was insanely busy on a Saturday afternoon and, yes, service was a little slow. It was noisy with sugar-high children but that was all part of the charm. I do think perhaps table service would work slightly better, given the dishes were a little cold once the server eventually located the correct table, but that’s my biggest gripe.
With Olney being the birthplace of the pancake race, there’s already a fair bit of pressure on them to get their pancakes right, and thankfully they do. You can choose between a traditional Olney-style pancake (a little bit like a less sugary, less buttery version of a French crepe in my opinion) or a stack of fluffy American-style ones. There’s a whole host of savoury or sweet options, and vegan pancakes are available on request. Sounds good, right? The toppings were even better.
I went for the Terry’s Chocolate Orange (chocolate orange ganache, Terry’s chocolate orange, mandarin and chocolate sauce) on a traditional-style pancake and it was DELICIOUS. The orange flavour came through perfectly, cutting through the chocolate to ensure it wasn’t overly rich or sickly. The small scoop of ice-cream was just the right amount, and the addition of Terry’s Chocolate Orange segments on anything are fine by me.
My mum also join me on the traditional pancake front, going with an Apple & Blackberry Cinnamon Crumble. I really liked this, although she felt it was perhaps a tad overpriced, a little too sweet and far too much cinnamon. Well, I guess you can’t please everyone! Personally I loved the texture-combo, with the silky pancake, soft fruit filling and buttery biscuity crumble.
And then there’s was my sister’s Triple Chocolate Brownie American Stack (brownie chunks, chocolate sauce, Maltesers and Smarties). This was absolutely huge, and well worth the premium for the stack. I, quite predictably, had to help her out in order to finish it and can vouch for the fact that these were some of the best American pancakes I’ve eaten. Light, fluffy and just the right tough of sweetness. I definitely enjoyed this, though perhaps not the right choice for the faint-hearted!
Oh, and if you’re not in a pancake mood then there’s a whole host of other options – salads, breakfasts, sandwiches, paninis, jacket potatoes. But quite frankly if you’re not in a pancake mood I’d perhaps suggest you go elsewhere and leave a table spare for me! Now all that’s left is for me to return and try their pancake-themed Afternoon Tea…
What is your favourite pancake topping?