From now on all my posts will be on katyascakehole.com, i’ve dropped the wordpress part in order to make it a little easier to remember
From now on all my posts will be on katyascakehole.com, i’ve dropped the wordpress part in order to make it a little easier to remember
I was pleased about reviewing this book. I could be confident that the recipes cooked wouldn’t result in me bulging out of my trousers as can be the case when I’m testing recipes. All the dishes looked around the 500 calorie mark which calorie wise would fill me up without jeopardising my waistline.
We really really enjoyed cooking from this book. It’s beautiful to look at and the photos are so tempting – it was fun picking dinners and largely fun cooking them too. I would say that it’s more of a weekend cookbook – although the recipes are easy they are a little fiddly and you might not be in the mood for that after a long day at work. My other caveat is that the recipe descriptions occasionally gloss over a process without giving full instructions. For example – when making samosas you are told to put your filling onto the filo pastry and ‘make samosa shapes’. Well it ain’t that easy! Even after watching a few videos on YouTube I was still struggling! So we had samosa lumps. Oh yes, my very final piece of advice is use more spices than Jamie Oliver suggests. Our curries would have been a bit bland if we hadn’t.
I can honestly say every recipe we cooked was a blinder, so sorting the 8 we cooked into ‘favourites’ and ‘runner ups’ is going to be hard, but here we go.
Truthfully, nothing really deserves to be a runner up, I should really have done 8 favourites!
Writing this up has made me extremely sad that this review is over and that I have to move onto another cookbook – Jamie Oliver Everyday Super Food I will return to you I promise! I’ve been flicking through and there are too many recipes I still want cook. Every recipe we tried was inspiring, colourful, beautiful, delicious and healthy. You can’t really ask for more.
On Saturday I rocked up at Clapham Studios in Lavender Hill, London to attend a food photography workshop. I had no idea what to expect – but as I’m trying to build a career in food marketing I figured it would be pretty useful.
Pictured above was our lovely tutor Carole. In the morning we focussed on technical talk. Aperture, shutter speed, how to make the most of lighting, why it’s important to use a tripod, colour theory etc. Ok this totally was not my favourite bit of the course, but it really was bloody useful.
Next up Aimee the second tutor on the course styled a cake for us, creating a scene for us to photograph. The cake (a four tier butternut squash cake – yum) got adorned with beautiful flowers and the background was made up using autumnal influences, ingredients from the cake and vintage accessories – so things like ivy, leaves, apples, blackberries and butternut squash. It was very informative to see how Aimee put the display together. I’ve always been a bit unimaginative and literal about my food photography – for me it’s just an aerial photo of a plate of food and job done! I now know better.
After a lot of snapping of this styled piece we were treated to a very tasty lunch of homemade quiche and salads and obviously great big slabs of cake! Get in! Lunch was a nice opportunity to get to know everyone in the group – we had bloggers, a personal chef, a pastry maker, a cookbook writer. It was really interesting to hear about everyone’s motivation for doing the course.
The afternoon session was the most fun because we got to be creative. We started with Carole demonstrating a flat lay – i.e. – creating a scene on the floor which you photograph from above. Carole talked us through her creative thought process as she laid out her accessories – making sure to create some layers and movement within the scene. Then it was our turn and we were given free rein to put together our own scene . I got very enthusiastic and did three!
The final part of the class was doing a three dimensional side view picture, so again the tutor showed us what to do – and here layering and getting the sizes of accessories in an eye pleasing order was particularly important. This was my attempt below.
The course gave me so many ideas about how to set up pictures and to be indulgent about really taking my time to get it right. I’ve been practising since and I’m pretty pleased with the outcome! Have a look below. I think my photos are really starting to look professional. I’ve also been shopping for accessory nick nacks on amazon and in charity shops – hence the nice tea towels and vintage crockery. And I bought a white box with lighting (very cheap online) which also makes a big difference to how bright my photos look.
If you’d like to find out more about the courses that Carole and Aimee run here are the links to their websites:
I’ve been doing A LOT of eating in Manchester this year. Jamie and I made it our mission to eat in as many of the best restaurants, supper clubs and cafes in Manchester as we could.
Here’s a little countdown of some of our faves from 2016 in no particular order:
This is a tiny, very homely and simple restaurant that sells beautiful honest Japense food. We had stunning sashimi and tempura, and the atmosphere was delightfully low key and pleasant.
Do incredible stonebaked pizzas. The white pizza below called Ancozzese, with wild broccoli and tuscan sausage, was sensational. Rudy’s is a gorgeous and effortlessly trendy glass fronted venue in a pretty square in Ancoats. The staff were lovely and the venue was buzzing.
This is a glamourous art deco venue and they serve fabulous meat – steaks are the focus although other options are available. The service is impeccable and it feels like a treat being there.
I love going to Trove just for a coffee or lunch. But they also do brilliant supper clubs. We recently went to the Maple supper club – every dish had maple syrup in it. It was mouth wateringly good food. In the photo below, on the left are homemade pittas, falafels, pickles and courgette salad and on the right is lemon almond tart with balsamic strawberries. I didn’t want the food or the evening to end.
I met Neil Buttery when he was running a pastry class with Cracking Good Food. As he was such an ace pastry chef I wanted to try his new restaurant, the Buttery. It’s an intimate venue, with arty vibes and a welcoming atmosphere and just damn good pies, beers and wines and all at very good prices.
This classy new venue opened at the beginning of the year. The interior is elegant and stylish and their tapas is equally excellent. Along with some other wonderful dishes, I ate the best tortilla of my life – moist, rich and herby.
We popped in here for a cheeseboard one evening. Lunya feels so spanish. Sitting up at the bar (which is next to their deli), Lunya felt alive with hustle and bustle, and the cheeseboard was divine. We came back a few days later to try their restaurant upstairs, but the atmosphere just wasn’t the same as the buzzy excitement of the bar area.
In May I went to Eddie Shepherd’s supper club for the second time. He’s a charming host and his 14 courses of experimental and delicious vegetarian food were just as good as the first time.
On hearing that Brassica Grill had been nominated for a Manchester Food and Drink Festival Award , we were keen to try it out. Whilst my starter and main were good, they weren’t memorable, what stood out was the delightfully relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the restaurant and the staff were adorable. AND most importantly my pudding was off the scale: raspberry souffle and lemon thyme ice-cream.
The recently opened Allotment vegan restaurant is one of the best meals I’ve had this year. Taking vegan food to another level. It’s high end food, I’d say on a parr with the quality of food served at the French. The shiitake terrine with berries blew my mind, the creamy rich pate complemented by the sweet sharpness of the berries. And the aubergine chargrilled ‘steak’ was so beautifully seasoned it would give any meat steak a run for it’s money.
And ten of the places I still want to eat (I could easily make this a list of 30 if I wanted to – there’s too many good restaurants!)
What are your favourite places to eat in Manchester? Please comment below so I can add them to my wish list!
Nigella’s How to Eat is considered to be a cooking bible for many. It’s held up for it’s beautiful prose and her ability to empower the reader to cook confidently and intuitively. It’s also known for being good for explaining classic recipes in a really straight forward way – roasts, stews, pastry, victoria sponges, trifles – it’s all there.
I fully expected to be wowed by this 1998 legendary cookbook. It had been sat on my shelf for two years untouched apart from a stunning mushroom ragout I made as part of the 69-er cookbook challenge. Neglecting this book had actually been more to do with it not having any photos than anything else. But I felt duty bound to review read it as part of my ‘Cooking the Books’ series because I’m such a big Nigella fan.
My Nigella experience until this point has been a heady one. I’ve been cooking her recipes for over seven years and everything I’ve ever cooked (with perhaps two exceptions) has been not just a success, but a true triumph. Her recipes combine incredible and exotic flavours with an idiot proof recipe – allowing me to be lavished with praise by work colleagues and dinner party guests in exchange for very little effort on my part. Favourites included the toffiest banoffee cheesecake, the sweetest, juiciest egyptian tomato salad, a fragrant courgette and lime curd cake, a dense chocolate guinness cake and the laziest, but most impressive cherry cheesecake. In fact I could fill the page with my Nigella wonder dishes – she’s done a lot for me (and my popularity!).
But How To Eat was a different deal. It was classic food (little of her more recent fun stuff) and if I’m honest a little on the dull side! And the sprawling way it’s written and designed makes it an uphill battle – there’s Nigella ramblings about general cooking and eating advice, interspersed with haphazard recipes on the same page and with NO photos. I really wanted to like it, but I found it a drag. However as you can see below we did still enjoy some really tasty food so I won’t knock it too much! I guess I just didn’t find it punchy and inspiring like her other books.
I’m glad I did this How To Eat immersion, just so I can say I’ve read it as it’s held in such high regard. But it’s definitely not a book for contemporary recipe inspiration! Yes it was written in 1998 so you can’t expect it to be that modern, but Nigella’s Domestic Goddess was written in 2000 just two years later and is bursting with adventurous, inspiring bakes that still stand up in 2016. Clearly things got better on the recipe front for Nigella after this first book. But that’s my slightly negative experience of the book, if you like Nigella’s writing style and want to learn how to cook some classics in an idiot proof way – fill your boots!
The chance to visit the beautiful architectural phenomenon Victoria Baths AND eat food by the Real Junk Food Project was too good to pass up! Jamie and I signed ourselves up back in August. I didn’t really think more about it other than, how cool, I’m going to a beautiful old building and I get to try celebrity chef Mary Ellen McTague’s food. I was also excited about experiencing The Real Junk Food Project who make their dishes with food donated by supermarkets and other food suppliers that would otherwise be discarded. What a great concept.
However Jamie’s mum came round for a cuppa a few days before and gave a whole new angle to Victoria Baths. This was a place that meant a huge amount to her. Christine’s eyes lit up when she heard we were going. Not only had she gone there as a child for her weekly bath, but it’s where her mother had done her washing. Her mother would go there on the same day every week with her friends and they would sing their hearts out to pass the time while they did the washing. It was a place of community and happy memories for Christine. And as a young adult she had gone there with work colleagues to enjoy the Turkish Baths where you apparently you got scrubbed to within an inch of your life. That had been a lot of fun too. So going to the 110 year birthday celebrations took on added meaning and depth after that lovely insight.
It was a Thursday evening and as we arrived we were given a glass of prosecco and were given free reign to wonder around the building. And what a treat that was. We started in the Turkish baths area where deck chairs, towels and scrubbing tools were laid out artfully to help stoke up your imagination as to what it must have been like.
Then we went into the pool area which just felt opulent and beautiful. We loved wandering around taking photos of the old changing booths and walking up to the spectators gallery and enjoying the fantastic views from up there.
And after a bit of pleasant ambling and prosecco sipping it was dinner time! I had no idea how this was going to work other than the food had been donated that day from supermarkets, bakers and other food suppliers and Real Junk Food Project muster up a menu based on the goods that come in.
This was the menu we received:
Roast cauliflower and rice with cumin, ginger and lime
Lentils, paneer, tomato and coriander
Roast courgette and pepper
Sweetcorn and seafood chowder
The food was delivered as sharing plates – dish after dish was brought out and we piled stuff on our own plates. In my enthusiasm I took hearty portions of everything thinking we had got our full quota of food on the table. But no, more goodies kept coming out, recipes that weren’t even on the menu. I may have been full but I had to keep trying everything obviously! This was Mary Ellen McTague’s food – I wasn’t going to miss out on any of it.
My overall impression of the food was that it was very good, imaginative and wholesome food. Fine dining it wasn’t – it wasn’t that fussy and finessed – it felt more like an amazing and exotic buffet – which was a vibe I loved.
Firm favourites were definitely the garlic sourdough (great idea) – and the bread was apparently sourced from Trove Bakery. I also LOVED the scotch broth, which had us all baffled because it was most definitely not a broth – it was in fact pearl barley with some very tasty lamb on top. No idea if there was a change of mind regarding the initial idea of scotch broth but either way I was very happy with the succulent, earthy risotto-ey outcome. I was a big fan of the creamy sweetcorn and seafood chowder too.
I thought the sharing plates were great for a party atmosphere. What better way to get to know your table neighbours than by passing around new intriguing dishes that you have to identify and discuss! Especially as there seemed to be several additional curveballs like spinach, chorizo, chicken and a watermelon salad that weren’t on the original menu.
The evening ended with a delicious slice of birthday cake with chocolate icing and a lovely speech from Corin Bell, Director of Real Junk Food Project Manchester and chef Mary Ellen McTague. They run regular pop ups in Manchester where the food is provided on a pay as you feel basis. They had wanted to contribute to the Victorian Baths birthday celebration as it was a cause that they identified with – taking something old and finding a new purpose for it.