Kenilworth Foodie Fortnight – If you’re in the area come and join us

Kenilworth is running a Foodie Fortnight event from Friday 2nd May until Friday 16th May.  For anyone who’s in town between these dates, pop in and see what the town has to offer.  There will be street food, music and special offers.  Some of the versatile venues consists of businesses such as Warwickshire’s award-winning chocolate specialist Sweet As.  Who will be serving 5 mouthwatering …yes 5 mouthwatering desserts with every light main course ordered at the Holiday Inn.  You have the traditional Andrew Davies Bakeries who will be providing fabulous offers throughout the Foodie Fortnight.  As well as restaurants within the area providing special offers during this period.  I will be updating this post as I explore what Kenilworth has to offer.

 

Quote from the Chair of the Kenilworth Town, Sally Carrick “Kenilworth Foodie Fortnight is back for the third year, but this time it is in May.  The event will showcase the amazing variety of food and drink venues we have in our thriving town.  Participating venues range from fine dining restaurants, pubs and bars to coffee bars and cake shops.  Special Foodie Fortnight menus will be on offer. Foodie Fortnight commences on Friday 2nd May with a host of activities taking place at Abbey End.”

 

Spinach and Asparagus with rich Tomato Pasta Bake – A simple, healthy dish and bursting with flavour

This recipe is perfect for those days when you come home from a hard day and just want to have something quick and simple.  You don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen but you want comfort food.  This is of course, without reaching for the phone to order the all too easy usual takeaway… uh hum in my case on the Tuesday night…Domino’s pizza.  In addition to wanting an easy to cook meal, I also needed to make something gluten free.  My partner has recently undertaken a gluten free diet, so trying to make something that is gluten free, vegetarian and still tastes good for my beloved fussy partner was a challenge!  Each element on this dish is cooked separately, however don’t let the simplicity fool you, as there’s layers of flavour with each mouth full.

As you may have seen from my previous recipes, I include a lot of spinach in my diet.  Spinach, along with Asparagus is very high in fibre, it is rich in antioxidants and rich in iron.  It has also been shown to improve skin health dramatically (which is something I recently learnt).  To preserve the nutrition, I tend to use quick cooking methods such as stir fry, grilling or steaming.  Based on a nutritional calculation, this recipe is high in vitamin A and C.

 

Serves 4.  Cooking time 30 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 300 grams Fusilli (you can use gluten free pasta or even whole wheat pasta)
  • 100 grams Baby Spinach
  • 1 or 2 bunches of Asparagus (approx 14 spears of Asparagus)
  • 700 grams Passata
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 tbsp fresh Basil (chopped)
  • 2 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Italian Herb Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Chilli Flakes (alternatively you can use fresh chilli) optional
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 50 grams Parmesan Cheese
  • 50 grams Mature Cheddar Cheese
  • 40 grams Garlic Butter
  • 5 Cherry Tomatoes cut in half
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

To speed up the cooking process, start off by boiling water in a kettle and turn on the oven to 180C/350F.

Pasta:-

  1. Heat a large pan and add the boiling water from the kettle
  2. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of Olive Oil and add the pasta
  3. Leave on a high heat for 10 minutes

In the meantime, make the Tomato Sauce:-

  1. In a pan heat a teaspoon of Olive Oil or if available Chilli Oil.
  2. Add the shallot, stir and leave for 2 minutes
  3. Add Passata and reduce the heat to a low setting
  4. Add all the following – Basil, Oregano, Italian Herb Seasoning, Chilli flakes, Sugar, Salt and Pepper
  5. Once stirred, cover and leave on a low heat

Spinach and Asparagus:-

Note – To prepare the Asparagus, bend the spear until it snaps.  To do this hold both ends of the Asparagus and bend until the tough part snaps off.  (Optional – Once you have done this, you can peal the skin slightly to make it more manageable to eat and for presentation.)

  1. Heat a saucepan on medium heat and add the Garlic Butter
  2. Once the butter has melted, add the Asparagus and leave for 2 minutes
  3. Next add the Baby Spinach and season with salt and pepper.  Leave until the Spinach has wilted (this should only take a minute or two)

By now your pasta should be reaching the Al dente point, remove from the heat and drain the pasta.  Next, place in an ovenproof dish and stir in half of the Tomato sauce, Spinach, Asparagus and Parmesan cheese.  Now place the remaining sauce and Spinach on top of the pasta.   Next, sprinkle to remaining Asparagus spears, Parmesan and Mature cheddar cheese.  Add the Cherry tomatoes and sprinkle a pinch of Oregano and Italian herb seasoning, along with pepper and place in the oven for 15 minutes until the cheese is golden.

 

Paradosiako Restaurant in Alykes, Greece – If you’re in the area, you must try this place!


“WOW!! Is all I can say about this place! Whilst we (meaning my partner and daughter) were on holiday in Zante (Greece), we decided to explore the lovely Island and ended up passing a town called Alykes in Zakynthos.  The town was clearly a tourist place with its lively restaurants stretched across the beach.  There was a vast array of restaurants and shops that catered for everyone, with of course great vegetarian choices.

 

Picture from Paradosiako website

After reading reviews on the trusted Trip Advisor, we decided to eat at the Paradosiako restaurant. It was situated a bit further away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist part but still within close distance to walk down and enjoy the lively environment.  When we arrived at the restaurant, the waiter asked if we wanted to eat outside or inside, with the weather being so perfect we chose to sit outside.  I thought the waiting staff were very friendly, the service was quick and the staff knew the menu well – which helped when I was trying to choose what to eat.  The menu had a variety of vegetarian dishes, from the traditional Greek food to pasta, to burgers and pizza.  I went for a traditional Greek mezze, whilst my daughter chose what most kids go for…Burger and chips.  My mezze was amazing!  It had a selection of freshly made Polpetes, which are potato cakes seasoned with spring onions, feta cheese, herbs.  Dolmades, which are stuffed vine leaves.  Spanakopita, which is the traditional spinach and feta cheese pie.  Not to mention an assortment of feta cheese, olives and Greek salad.  The food was divine!  It was fresh, had lots of flavour and was very filling.

As for the dessert, I chose the traditional Baklava.  I craved this dessert ever since I arrived to the Island and I was not disappointed at all.  It was finger licking delicious!  With a generous portion it satisfied my craving perfectly, in fact it was the best Baklava I have had so far.  As with all the food we had, you could tell it was fresh and made on the day and reasonably priced.

All in all, it’s a great place, off the beaten track but close enough to enjoy a lovely walk on the beach after a meal. I would strongly recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Alykes.

  • Food Quality  5/5
  • Atmosphere 5/5
  • Choice 5/5
  • Price 4/5
  • Overall 5/5 

Homemade Easter Eggs – Fun activity for kids and a great way to give customised Easter Eggs to friends and family

finished eggsThis year I decided to make my own Easter Eggs.  I thought it would be fun to make these with my daughter, as it’s something different and anything that involves chocolate and making a mess in the kitchen is a winner with any kid.  Now I must admit, by all means I’m no expert at making chocolate eggs, in fact I’ve never made these before!  With this being said, it’s not as difficult as I thought, if I can do this then anyone can do it.  My daughter Tanya and I loved making these, it was priceless seeing the look on her face when we melted the chocolate and seeing the excitement on her face when she decorated her own Easter egg.  Not to mention the thing that everyone (adults included) loves doing – licking the bowl clean…yummy!

I would recommend anyone to give this a go, it’s not difficult and it’s great fun.  There’s a few ways to make an Easter egg: 1. Using a balloon – so in this method you blow up the balloon to your desired size and coat it with chocolate, then remove the balloon and cover the hole where the balloon came out.  2.  Using a plastic/Silicone/metal mould – so in this method you, coat the mould in chocolate two/three times, then remove the chocolate when ready.  Personally I feel the second method is a lot easier and less time consuming than the first method so I decided to use this technique instead.

 

finished eggs2

 

finished eggs3

 

 It’s important to ensure the chocolate is melted to the right temperature, if it’s cold then the chocolate will end up being grainy and wont be good for coating.  However if it’s too hot, then the crystals within the chocolate wont form and you may run the risk of burning the chocolate or even melting the plastic mould.  Ideally you want to get the perfect sheen hear that satisfying snap when you break into it.

Step 1:  Chop your chocolate into medium sized pieces or alternatively do what I did and bash it on your work top whilst it’s still in the pack (takes seconds to do this way and it’s more fun!)

Step 2:  Heat some water in a pan.  When the water has reached boiling point, lower the heat completely and sit a heat proof bowl on top of the pan.  You want to make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water.  This is because you want the steam between the pan and the bowl to gently heat the chocolate.

Step 3:  Continuously stir the chocolate until it’s melted.  With the Cooking Thermometer check to ensure you have the right temperature.  For milk chocolate 27-28c (80-82F), for dark chocolate 31–32C (88–90F) and for white chocolate 27–28C (80–82F).  Once the chocolate is at it’s desired temperature, remove from the pan and put to one side, ready to place in the mould.

 

melted chocolate

 

This is the fun part where you can be creative :-) !!  I chose to have a mixture of white and milk chocolate patterns, along with having butterscotch pieces.  You can even add fudge pieces or anything else that takes your fancy.  At this stage, it’s important to coat your chocolate evenly on the mould.  Spread the chocolate too thin and you run the risk of breaking the chocolate when taking it out of the mould.  As for using utensils to spread the chocolate, I used a combination of a small spatula, a brush and simply rotating the chocolate in the mould.  I guess either of these techniques is ideal.

Step 1:  Evenly coat the mould and put it in the fridge to set for 10 minutes.  I chose to have a butterscotch centre piece on one of the eggs, so I sprinkled it the centre of the egg mould and poured a small amount of chocolate around the sides of the butterscotch and placed this in the fridge to dry.  After 10 minutes, I coated the rest of the egg mould and placed it back in the fridge for another 10 minutes.

egg mould

 

mould 2

 

 

finished mould 2

 

mold 3

 

mould 4

 

Step 2:  Repeat first part of step one two more times.

Step 3:  Take the chocolate out of the mould and fill the egg with your desired chocolates/sweets.

filling mould2

 

 

filling mould

 

Step 4:  Combine the two chocolate pieces to make an egg.  You can either melt the edge of the chocolate on a hot plate and place this on the second piece, or brush some melted chocolate on the edge of the chocolate and place this on the second piece.  If there are any gaps between the chocolate pieces, simply fill these with a small amount of melted chocolate.  At this stage, if you wanted to, you can decorate your egg once more.  I chose to drizzle chocolate lines over one side of the egg.

 

combining2

 

combining3

 

 

Things you need:-

  • Your desired chocolate (milk, white, dark chocolate)
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Spatula
  • Pan with hot water
  • Brush
  • Easter egg moulds of your choice
  • Chocolate filling of your choice to place inside the egg

I have deliberately chosen not to put a set amount of chocolate, as the quantity of chocolate varies depending on what type of Easter eggs you want to use.

 

Hummus House in Coventry City Centre – By far the tastiest and mouthwatering Falafel wraps I have ever had!!

falafelAfter a day of shopping with my daughter, we decided to grab a bite to eat in the notorious city centre of Coventry.  We wanted to make the most of the beautiful weather and eat outside, so we walked towards the food stalls.   I decided to go to the hummus house as I craved for their divine and refreshing Falafel wrap.  I have been to this stall once before in Christmas and loved the freshness of the food they offered (not to mention the generous few samples the owner kindly offered with a smile).  Yes…you can go to the supermarket next door, buy a wrap as a meal deal and eat the dense yet not so satisfying wrap but it will not be anywhere close to the crisp tasteof the ones they do in this stall.  The ones in the supermarket have very dense Falafel’s which are mass produced in a factory and do not resemble the true taste, oh and they’re served cold.  The food in this stall is delicious and authentic!!

All my veggie lovers out there…. this place is a must for anyone who is in town!  The flat bread is warm and soft, the salad is fresh and pickles give it the classic tang and crispness, the star of the wrap is of course the light, crunchy yet soft inside Falafel, which is packed with flavours.  Along with this, the Hummus is velvety and goes well with their herb filled chilli sauce.  They also do fresh juice drinks, which is just what you need on a hot day.  Great value for money!

Last time I came here I was a bit cheeky by trying to get the recipe from the owner but failed to get the full recipe as it’s his secret (sshhhhh).  All I can say is that you can taste the fresh parsley, garlic and chickpeas (along with some secret ingredients that make them so soft, scrumptious and tasty).  Definitely worth a visit, you will not be disappointed.  Check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/HUMMUS-HOUSE-UK/115832231916441

 

 

 

 

 

Authentic homemade Chapatis – An ideal Indian flat bread to have with any curry

My memory of eating Chapatis goes back to when I was a small child.  I remember the excitement of seeing my mum make these and having them hot off the stove!  I would say Chapatis are a staple of the South Asian cuisine, you can even say there are numerous versions of this flat bread across the world.  These are made to be eaten with your hands and are ideal to dip into a delicious curry.  If you have friends for dinner, you can get them involved in getting their hands dirty and making their own one…it’s a great fun.

This is one of the things i learnt to make from my lovely grandma, i must say my mum tried to teach me but we always ended up bickering over the size of the Chapati and that i was too slow – sorry mum ;-).  I started making these at the age of 10, I remember getting frustrated that they didn’t turn out the “normal way” instead of being round they ended up looking like a map of Africa!  Time has flown by so much with experience that i can make these with my eye closed and so will you :-)

Makes 9 – usually not larger than 6-7 inches in diameter but feel free to make them smaller or larger.

Takes up to 20 minutes (depending on how long it takes you to make one)

Ingredients:

  • 250g Chapati flour – ideally wholewheat as this is a healthier option
  • 1 tbs of oil
  • 200 ml of warm water – you may not need all the water

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Saag Paneer (Spinach with Indian Cottage Cheese) – Very healthy and tastes great!

With the high fibre spinach and the Indian cottage cheese this dish has been a weekly staple in my family.  Saag Paneer is something you will find in pretty much any Indian restaurant and many homes.  When I have had this in the past, one of the things I remember this dish having is lots of Ghee (clarified butter) and the Spinach being over cooked in a pressure cooker until it loses its healthy goodness.  It doesn’t have to contain the extremely heavy and unhealthy Ghee (clarified butter) and neither do you have to cook the Spinach until you can no longer taste the Spinach! (no offence)

Everyone makes this their own way.  I started off by understanding the basics of this recipe and worked my way up to create what I have now.  One thing I will say, is with Indian cooking you can make any Indian dish your own – don’t be afraid to try and experiment new things.  I choose to have this with Chapatis, however you can have this with rice (white or brown), Naan bread, Poppadoms or even an accompaniment to another great curry.  If you would like to make homemade Chapatis, which is very simple to make then take a look at my recent post Authentic homemade Chapatis – An ideal Indian flat bread to have with any curry

A lot of people I have spoken to have either not come across Paneer or have been too scared to try it.  Paneer is a wonderful accompaniment in many dishes and is used widely around the world.  It has a dense but yet soft and fresh texture.  You could say it’s similar to mozzarella but only that it doesn’t melt.  Paneer is an Indian version of cottage cheese, it’s made using yogurt and milk that has been cooked, then strained for a period of time.  I have to admit I have not attempted to make this at home, simply because it’s easily available in many supermarkets and Indian stores (and because i’m a bit too lazy)!

saag paneer with chappatti3

 

Serves 3

Cooking and preparation time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 350 grams SpinachPicture12
  • 226 grams Paneer
  • 1 large Onion
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbsp or a thumb sized piece of Ginger
  • 2 Green Chillies (depending on how hot you like your curry)
  • 1 tbs Cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs Mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp Lovage (optional but makes all the difference)
  • 1 tbs Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • Salt to taste
  • half a tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 to 2 Cassia Bark pieces
  • 1 cup water

Preparation:

  1. The spinach – Put washed spinach in a pan, on high heat.  Add half a cup of water and occasionally stir to ensure all the spinach has cooked.  Once the spinach has wilted (this shouldn’t take longer than 5/10 minutes at the most) take off the heat and put to one side for 10 minutes, or until cooled a little.  Now puree the spinach in a processor, you still want the texture of the spinach so one or two pulses should do the trick.  Once pureed, leave to the side for use later.
  2. Paneer – Cut the paneer into 1cm cubes or bite sized pieces.  Heat some Fry Light (or oil) in a pan and cook the paneer until golden brown.  Once this is cooked, leave to one side for later.
  3. Spice mix – In a pan on medium heat, put in the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and lovage.  This will temper the spices to bring out the flavours, try not to burn the spices as this can have a bitter taste.  Once you can smell the spices and they have browned, remove from the heat and crush in a mortar and pestle (or a spice blender).  Try to finely crush the spices as much as possible.
  4. Last but not least, puree the garlic, ginger, onions together with the chilli’s.

Cooking:

  1. Heat a pan on medium to low heat with Fry Light (oil).  Add the garlic, ginger, onion, chilli paste, along with cassia bark and let this cook for 5 to 10 minutes.  Now add the spinach puree and paneer and leave for a few minutes.  Next add salt to taste, nutmeg, garam masala, turmeric and ground coriander.  Leave to cook for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to cook and mix in well.  Once the saag paneer has cooked, serve with your choice of chapati, naan bread, rice and enjoy your nourishing meal…

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I’m back and I can’t wait to share my recipes with you

Hello my fellow people,

I would like to apologise for not posting anything on my blog lately.  I have recently moved house and for those that have moved, I’m sure you can understand how hard it is.  After three weeks of non stop work on the house, I am finally able to start enjoying the simple things like having a cup of tea and relaxing in a clean house that doesn’t look like a hoarders house (no offence).

It was sole destroying not being able to cook for the first two weeks, we ended up eating ready meals which lost its novelty after the second day.  Unlike most people who tend to start the “lets get healthy regime” this time of the year, I have had a late start due to the house move…this has given me time to research and think about what is actually healthy and what should I be eating.  By all means I’m not intending to go on a diet where I cut down on food and starve myself for a month – I just want to have a balance of good food which is healthy, has the nutrition I need and I can sustain on an on going basis.

Watch out for my post folks, as I have been looking forward to sharing with you the things I have learnt and some great recipes that are healthy but still tastes delicious!  Hopefully you will enjoy these as much as I have :-)

Any feedback on the recipes are more than welcome.

Jamie Oliver’s Diner in London Piccadilly – Worth a visit

Created by artist Jay Jay Burridge

A huge Dinosaur hanging at the top of the staircase – Created by artist Jay Jay Burridge

I came across Jamie Oliver’s Diner with my partner and daughter on New Years Eve.  My first impressions were that it’s going to be expensive for what you get.  Looking at the kids menu, a meal was £9.  I thought to give it a go, as it was New Years Eve and it’s something different to try (we rarely visit London).  There was a waiter at the door who let us in.  Walking up the stairs it was like being in another world.  It was like entering an American style diner with desserts in a revolving glass holder, Dinosaur phrases marked around the restaurant and a lively atmosphere.

When arriving up the stairs, there was a waitress who took us to our table, She was very friendly. whilst we took a seat and looked at the menu, I was mesmerised by the funky surroundings and liveliness of the restaurant.

I have to say the variety for a vegetarian option was very poor, I would have expected more!  Never the less, I decided to order the only veggie choice for a main meal on the menu – the Happy Cow Veggie Burger, which came with a side of House Rainbow Slaw and Pickles.  I also ordered a side of Skin-On Fries to share.

I must say the service was very fast, I was expecting a long wait but within 15 minutes of ordering our food, it was on the table.  They definitely did this right!  The burger was amazing which consisted of smashed Edmame, Chickpea and Pinto beans.  The texture held very well, unlike other bean burgers which can contain a more sloppy texture.  Along with the delicious burger,  I had the not so ordinary fries, which had Jamie’s twist of thyme cooked with it…it made all the difference.  The Slaw was crunchy and had the right amount of dressing which was not over powering at all.  This finished off with a bite of crunchy cucumber pickle and a tangy chilli made the meal above the average burger meal.  My partner and daughter also enjoyed their food.

jamies-food

Overall, worth a visit but vegetarians be warned….you’ll get bored if they continue to have little options for us!!  I must say the price was actually spot on, in fact, it was the same as paying for a meal at Nandos…great value for money.

  • Food Quality  5/5
  • Atmosphere 5/5
  • Choice 1/5
  • Price 4/5
  • Overall 4/5

 

Mini Bagel Pizza’s – Ideal for New Year party buffet….so easy to make in just three steps!

I thought I would share my sister-in-laws idea for making simple but scrumptious pizza.  She came across this idea a few years ago when we were having a Halloween party.  Ever since, I have moved away from the frozen pizza and have been making these fresh and delicious pizzas.

This has worked a treat at parties.  It’s inexpensive, takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and it’s so simple to make.  Everyone from a small child to an adult will enjoy these tasty bagel pizza’s.  I haven’t taken any pictures as they were eaten so fast but I promise to take pictures next time I make them. :-)

As it’s New Years Eve tomorrow, I thought I would post this for anyone who wants to add this to their list of party food.

Makes up to 16 slices based on a bag of four bagels.  Takes roughly 20 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of bagels
  • Cheese – quantity varies on your preference
  • Passatta (you can use any pizza sauce)

Step 1 – slice the bagles across to make two halves and place on a baking tray

Step 2 – Add pizza sauce and cheese (or a choice of any topping)

Step 3 – Place in the oven at 220oC for roughly 15 minutes

Once cooked I usually halve the bagel again, to make it easier to hold.

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