Hello everyone! Hope you all had a lovely weekend.
Things have been pretty hectic round here lately, hence the lack of posts. Our place has been an absolute building site (while Mat's building us some beautiful bookshelves) and nothing is in its place. And while I have been cooking (every now and then) I haven't really had the time to share anything on my little blog. So to start the week here's a simple method to spice up your shop bought pickles.
All you need for this is a jar of good quality pickles (we love to use good old pickled onions), 3-4 birds eye chillis (if you don't want it too hot use a milder chilli) and patience.
Prick your chillis with the tip of a knife, open the jar of pickles and push the chillis in between the pickles. Close firmly and shake to move the chillis around in the jar. Refrigirate for a couple of weeks and then enjoy. The longer you wait the spicier your pickles will be. We're hoping that ours will be ready for Chrimbo :).
I find this is the best way of cooking, exchanging recipes, with no exact measurements, taking them home with you and making them your own.
This stuff is amazing. It's got all the flavours of a full blown bolognese (and more), it's cheap as chips and super quick and easy to make. Oh and you can drink the rest of the wine once you're done cooking (or while cooking ;))
The perfect winter dinner, this dish just screams comfort and you can rustle it up in under 45 minutes. If you feel worn out after a hard day at work, make this and you will defo feel much better.
So here it goes:
- 8-10 good quality sausages (we used Lincolnshire Sausages), meat removed from the casing
- 1tbsp fennel seeds
- 1tsp chili powder
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 8 chestnut mushrooms, really finely chopped or blitzed in a food processor
- 2tbsp tomato paste
- 1tbsp Worcester Sauce
- 300-350ml strong red wine
- 1 cube beef stock, crumbled
- 400g wholewheat penne (cooked to instructions)
- salt and pepper to season
- olive oil
- parmesan to serve (optional)
- Heat a pan over a high to medium heat (ideally don't use a non-stick pan) and toast your fennel seeds until fragrant but not brown. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind until crushed but not super fine. You can also use the end of a rolling pin and a bowl if you don't have a pestle and mortar.
- Heat a bit of olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onions and garlic for a few minutes until the onions start to soften (about 5mins).
- Add the sausage meat and fry over a high heat until nicely browned. Stir in the tomato paste until the meat is well covered and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, chili powder, fennel seeds, Worcester Sauce and stock cube and stir until everything is well combined.
- Pour over the wine, stir in and leave to simmer for just over half an hour. Make sure to stir occasionally.
- After half an hour season to taste and make sure the sauce is nice and thick. If it's still runny leave to simmer for a few minutes.
- Serve with the penne and sprinkle with some parmesan. Oh and enjoy the rest of your wine alongside it.
Sunday was meant to be a busy, busy day of meeting with friends I hadn't seen in ages, indulging in a yummy Sunday Roast and enjoying London on a weekend. But it wasn't meant to be, as one by one everyone announced they had been hit by the flu wave.
So there we were all dressed, ready to go and couldn't quite make up our mind what to do. Our mind was set on roooooast, but it was raining so much outside you thought the world was coming to an end.
Ultimately it took us about three hours to decide whether we in fact wanted to venture out in the torrential rain and another two where to go. It had to be close enough for everyone to get to, it had to still serve Sunday Roast at 5pm and it had to be good.
The White Hart in Crystal Palace it was. All reviews were good, it was close enough and looked nice and cosy.
This is one of those pubs I go into and wish it was my local. It's got a good selection of beers, wines and spirits at various price levels. The interior is inviting and cosy and the punters are a healthy mix of middle-aged locals and a few trendy hipsters (just enough for it to be bearable).
The menu had a nice selection of roasts, ranging from 21 day aged beef, leg of lamb, pork belly, roast chicken and a vegetarian nut roast option.
After craving a Sunday Roast all day we ended up going for steak and burgers. Yep... that's how good we are at making up our minds.
I had a 21 day aged rump steak, served with chips, rocket and a grilled tomato. You could choose from a bernaise or peppercorn sauce at a wopping £2 extra (bit steep). The steak was cooked to my liking, although a bit on the chewy side, the chips were hot and crispy and the sides tasty. The sauce on the other hand, while edible, was a bit disappointing.
Susie and Mat both went for the Cheeseburger, topped with pulled pork served alongside chips and burger sauce. When I ordered I was a bit upset that we couldn't opt for a medium cooked burger (health and safety bla bla) and braced ourselves for the usual dried out to oblivion patty. Fortunately we were pleasantly surprised; the meat was juicy and there was a good amount of smokey, moist pork. Over all pretty good.
By this point I was really quite happy with our choice of pub and kept going on about how we should go there more regularly... until we had desert! And yes... it was the biggest let down ever. £5.50 for a sliver of Salted Caramel Tart, which was meant to come with clotted cream and instead was served with not so nice ice cream, is really not too cool. Susie and I had the Sharing Desert which consisted of a quarter slice of Caramel Tart, a soggy Lemon Cheesecake (crumbled to bits), a pretty nice slice of brownie, ice cream and some tinned cherries which created a watery pool of pink sugary water on the plate. For £8.50 very disappointing!
Overall I really liked the White Hart. It's a great pub to go to and socialise with your mates, the food is ok, the drinks are good the atmosphere is lovely. We'll defo go back (maybe just for a drink)!
Rating 6.5/10 (and just because the desert was so awful and the condiments and extras over-priced)
The White Hart
96 Church Road,
Tel: +44 (0)20 8771 9389
Seafood risotto is usually something I'll order when we go out to our local Italian. Something I'll have alongside a large glass of wine and indulge in, reminding myself along the way that this is a treat and I cannot have it every day.
So yesterday, after we spent a good couple of hours cleaning our kitchen we rewarded ourselves with this yummy dinner of deliciousness and a large glass of G+T.
Just in case you fancy a bit of a posh dinner date for two but can't be arsed to leave the house. Here it goes.
- 150g risotto rice
- 12 king prawns, defrosted
- 7 asparagus stalks, cut into small chunks, set the tips aside
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 600ml fish, chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 glass white wine (150ml)
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- a handful of chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to season
- olive oil
- 1tbsp butter (optional - you can just add more olive oil)
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Once hot fry the onions, celery, garlic and chili flakes until the vegetables start to soften. This will take about 5 mins.
- Add the butter and keep stirring until it's all melted. Add the rice and stir until it's well coated and starts to go slightly translucent.
- Pour over the wine and simmer, stirring continuously for about 3 minutes. You will see the starch being released from the rice and the liquid will start to thicken slightly.
- Add a little bit of the stock, stir and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally and keep topping up with stock when the mixture starts to look a little dry. Make sure you always have enough liquid in the pot so it doesn't stick. After 10 minutes add the chopped asparagus (not the tips) and stir.
- In the meantime heat a little olive oil in a pan. Once the oil is very hot, add the asparagus tips. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes, until the asparagus starts to brown. Sprinkle with some sea salt and deglaze the pan with the juice of 1/4 lemon. Set aside for later.
- Once your rice has been cooking for about 15-20 minutes add the prawns and half the chopped parsley. Stir, until everything is well incorporated.
- After about 20 minutes your rice should be done. The rice should still have a little bite to it with a smooth, velvety consistency. If you feel it's still too hard, cook for a few more minutes, adding a bit more stock if necessary.
- Taste for seasoning, squeeze in the juice of 1/4 lemon and serve topped with the remaining parsley and the asparagus tips. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
This dish goes sooooo well with a nice zingy Gin and Tonic, some candlelight and a nice date ;)