Weekly Eats 15th April 2017

It’s been a full and interesting week of eating I can tell you.  But it nearly always is with me.

In my new ‘Weekly Eats’ blog posts I’m going to give a quick overview of recipes and foods Jamie and I have enjoyed trying during the week.

I’ll dive right in:

Sunday evening

Nigel Slater: lentil and spinach pie from My Kitchen Diaries II

A delicious and comforting sunday evening meal and very simple to make.  I especially loved the spinach being mixed in with the mashed potato topping.

weekly eats Nigel Slater lentil and spinach pie
Nigel Slater lentil and spinach pie

Monday Afternoon

Gluten free white chocolate and raspberry brownie from Simone’s Bakery at the Arndale Centre.  I was getting my eyes tested at Specs Savers nearby so it seemed too good an opportunity to treat myself to a ‘healthy’ cake from Simone’s.  I used the phrase ‘healthy’ lightly as I think most of the cakes despite being vegan/gluten or dairy free tend to be packed with sugar and fat in some form.  They are always very tasty though.

weekly eats Gluten free white chocolate and raspberry brownie from Simone's Bakery
Gluten free white chocolate and raspberry brownie from Simone’s Bakery

Monday Evening

Albondigas and courgettes with tomato-Serrano sauce from Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci.  All of Ali’s recipes are superbly flavourful and as per usual these meatballs packed a punch.  Ali has Italian parents and you can taste the Italian influence in all her food.  I just can’t eat too many Inspiralized meals or I get hungry – I can only do so many carb free meals.  But once a week is perfect.

weekly eats Albonditas and courgetted with tomato-Serrano sauce from Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci
Albondigas and courgettes with tomato-Serrano sauce from Inspiralized by Ali Maffucci

Tuesday Evening

Spaghetti with piquant brocilli from Hope Cohen’s Fast Fresh + Simple.  Super quick, super tasty!

weekly eats Spaghetti with piquant brocilli
Spaghetti with piquant brocilli

Tuesday’s Cakey Treats

Carrot, coconut and banana cupcakes from The Green Kitchen. I’m trying to get back into my healthy baking so these were ideal. These cakes only contained a tiny bit of sugar in the form of maple syrup and honey as most of the sweetness came from the bananas and carrots.  And the cream cheese icing really topped it off. Lovely.

weekly eats carrot, coconut and banana cupcakes
Carrot, coconut and banana cupcakes

Wednesday Night

Beef, lancashire blue & red onion sourdough pizza at Tariff and Dale in the Northern Quarter. I met up with some mates to go to fabulous Rudy’s for pizza – but it’s so popular there was an hour and a half wait for a table and we were too hungry to hang around that long.  Luckily Tariff and Dale provided us with very excellent pizzas instead!

weekly eats Beef, lancashire blue & red onion sourdough pizza
Beef, lancashire blue & red onion sourdough pizza

Thursday Evening

Spaghetti with spinach and feta from Hope Cohen’s Fresh, Fast + Simple.  Just like Hope’s other recipe, ridiculously quick and easy and utterly mouthwatering.

weekly eats Spaghetti with spinach and feta
Spaghetti with spinach and feta

Good Friday

Spiced and fried haddock with broccoli puree from Simply Nigella (served with sweet potato wedges) and for pudding death by chocolate pistachio dark chocolate torte with berry coulis from Alessandra Peters’ The Foodie Teen.  Jamie’s parents came over for lunch and were really wowed by this lunch.  It was pretty yummy.  The torte was truffly and gorgeous.  I’m excited about the leftovers in our fridge!

weekly eats Spiced and fried haddock with broccoli puree
Spiced and fried haddock with broccoli puree
weekly eats death by chocolate pistachio dark chocolate torte with berry coulis
Death by chocolate pistachio dark chocolate torte with berry coulis

For more ‘Weekly Eats’, I’ll be back next week!

Cooking The Books: Ottolenghi ‘Plenty’

Ottolenghi’s Plenty has been an absolute pleasure to review.  This man makes you fall in love with vegetables. He serves them in unexpected and delightful ways. Cooking from Plenty made me very happy. And at no point did I feel that there was anything missing due to lack of meat or fish.

So here’s my run through of the eight recipes we tried out, starting with the favourites.

Favourites

  1. Aubergine and lemon risotto. Ottolenghi may cook with vegetables but that doesn’t mean his dishes are low calorie.  This dish had a lot of butter in, but it tasted so good. Incredibly rich and creamy as you scoop out the goo of a charred aubergine to mix in with the risotto rice.
  2. Courgette and hazelnut salad.  Admittedly we deviated from the vegetable theme here and ate it with roast chicken, but hey we would have been hungry without a bit of protein.  Griddled courgettes combined with roasted hazelnuts, parmesan, basil leaves tastes superb.
  3. Tomato, semolina and coriander soup.  So semolina is a rather fascinating addition to this dish.  It thickened the soup and even provided it with a few accidental potatoey like dumplings. Tasty.
  4. Mee goreng.  Apparently this is a really famous Malaysian dish, but I’d never had it before.  I am now an official fan.  Stir fried tofu, pak choi, french beans, noodles and a chilli and soy sauce. Salty and interesting.
  5. Crunchy parpadelle.  A lovely creamy pasta dish made with double cream, sprouting brocolli, mushrooms and an exciting topping of crunchy panko breadcrumbs and lemon zest.  I really loved this one!
Ottolenghi 3
Aubergine and lemon risotto
Courgette and hazelnut salad
Ottolenghi 1
Tomato, semolina and coriander soup
Ottolenghi 2
Mee goreng
Ottolenghi 5
Crunchy pappardelle

Also very goods

  1. Mixed beans with many spices.  Jamie chose this and I thought it sounded a bit boring.  I was wrong.  Beans can be very delicious in the right spicy sauce.  So tasty that I had two enormous plates full of the stuff.
  2. Butterbeans friend with feta, sorrel and sumac.  Jamie wasn’t such a fan of this dish, but I love butter beans and feta and dill so I was happy as larry!  It was lovely and creamy and comforting with the dill and feta adding a bit of intrigue.
  3. Soba noodles with aubergine and mango.  An unusual  and enjoyable dish.  The mango gave it an interesting sweet and sour flavour.
Mixed beans with many spices
Ottolenghi 6
Butterbeans friend with feta, sorrel and sumac
Ottolenghi 7
Soba noodles with aubergine and mango

I loved cooking from Plenty.  Ottenlenghi is a creative genius – the dishes are so colourful and imaginative – they really lit up our evening meals. Although sometimes there’s a lot of butter and cream in his recipes, I think they cancel themselves out because all the vegetables and other ingredients are so healthy. I will definitely be returning to this book for more vegetable worship.

69 in 69 – I’m raising the bar

We’re only on day 14, and we’re up to 15 recipes, so it feels appropriate to change the challenge to completing 69 recipes in 69 days.  I’m sure we can do it and I’ve moved the deadline day to 28th July instead of end of September. Go us!

And rather than drown you in detail, here is a quick whistle stop tour of all the nine recipes we cooked this week:

Beetroot Brownies: Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache (all the cakes in this book are made from vegetables).  These brownies were a revelation.  Easy to make even if the beetroot peeling and chopping was a little messy on the hands.  And MY GOD, they packed a punch – moist, rich, earthy.  I couldn’t get enough of them.

Moroccan chicken kebabs and panzella salad: Good Housekeeping Step by Step Cook Book. I’ve wanted to make panzella salad ever since I had one that blew my mind in Tuscany a few years ago.  Who would have thought that some stale bread, tomatoes and cucumber could taste so good?  But it’s quite something.  And the whole meal was a magical combination for a stunningly sunny bank holiday sunday.

Griddled nectarines with feta salad: Good Food 101 Veggie Dishes. This was a saturday lunchtime quickie – just a few simple ingredients compiled in ten minutes.  A gorgeous, light combination of salty feta, sweet melty hot nectarines and fresh mint.

Jamie chose a slow roasted Persian Lamb recipe with pomegranate salad: Good Food 101 Slow-Cooking Recipes. I was not keen – it involved pomegranate molasses and a pomegranate – I wasn’t convinced we’d find either of those in the Stockport suburbs of Hazel Grove.  However Jamie’s enthusiasm won out.  He even MADE the pomegranate molasses!  The thing that impressed us most was the pomegranate salad.  Yes the lamb was succulent and delicious (four hours of cooking in molasses), but the salad was tart, juicy and beautiful – a wonderful compliment to the lamb.

Smoked haddock with white beans and parsley : Gordon Ramsey Cooking for Friends was last friday night’s supper treat.  Jamie found it a bit fiddly – there was pureeing and faffy stages to the dish, but as the consumer of the dish, I was delighted.  It was stylish and showy to look at and just felt like something that you would be served in a posh restaurant.  Bacon and smoked haddock is a great combination and the bean/thyme mash was lovely.

Jamaican chops: Caribbean Food Made Easy with Levi Roots.  A week day simple dinner for us – pork chops slow cooked in a fiery, sweet tomato sauce with celery, peppers and lime. Easy to assemble, tasty and comforting.

Salmon fillet wrapped in proscuitto with herby lentils, spinach and yoghurt: Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef was a desperation choice.  It was late in the evening and I needed to pick something easy for the next day.  Everything else in this cookbook looked long-winded, but when I spied this I was a happy girl.  Speedy, simple and healthy.  And it really delivered.  It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing dish but prosciutto and salmon REALLY works – the salty meat enhances the salmon and those herby lentils were a nice earthy, flavourful background to the dish.

Keralan Coconut Curry: Anjum’s Indian Vegetarian Feast.  Another beautiful book that had never been cooked from. The curry was creamy, spicy and had lovely depth – for me it was delicious but nothing earth shattering as I’ve had many similar curries, but it really wowed Jamie.

Spurred on by last week’s pitta success I baked oatmeal and potato bread: Home Baking Cookbook.  It was a cheap and easy number (apart from having to make the mash which was a pain!).  Admittedly we did burn the entire top of the loaf, but it really had no affect on the flavour.  It was a dense bread wholesome bread – perfect for making picnic sandwiches with the leftover feta from the salad. I’m definitely getting into this bread making thing – it’s satisfyingly easy and I love the therapeutic process of kneading the dough.

It’s been an intense week of cooking and eating and I’ve loved it.  This challenge is proving to be a real adventure – it’s a heartening and nostalgic experience re-connecting with my neglected books.   Fancy joining me in a similar challenge? Comment below and fill me in!

 

 

 

 

 

It all got a bit Willy Wonka at the Vegetarian Supper Club

Eddie Shepherd is a purely vegetarian chef – and he’s VERY experimental! Think Heston Blumenthal meets Simon Rogan meets a magician.  An evening with Eddie is a colourful culinary adventure.  I went to one of Eddie’s supper clubs in November and raved about it so much that I booked an eight seated supper club especially for myself and some friends.

It was advertised as a ten course taster menu, but as we discovered on arrival there appeared to be fourteen courses.  I was unfazed – I had after all easily demolished seventeen courses last week at L’Enclume.

Surprisingly we started with a ‘butterfly’ iced tea, but not any old iced tea – this was purple iced tea with a metal tea bag of dry ice – all made with entirely natural products – not a load of food colouring. And we each had cute mini teapots to pour our own tea. It was sweet and tasty, the dry ice beautifully blending the fragrant flavours.

iced tea
Butterfly tea

Next up was my favourite course! Maybe not for flavour, but for true interactive experience. Eddie told us to look behind us and behold, there were eight pretty, decorative baubles hanging from the ceiling in his lounge. We had assumed that it was just decor, but no that was our next course. So far, so Willy Wonka. It was tofu, dandelion and pickled apple served in a perspex bauble with a hole to access the food. The experience was made more enjoyable because all the guests were hanging round the ‘work of art’ gasping and trying to work out what the hell it was.  A great ice-breaker.  The dish itself was a perfect sweet and savoury combo.  And to be a true food wanker – umami is the Japanese word to describe that sweet spot of flavour that rests between sweet and savoury.

Hanging food
Tofu, dandelion, pickled apple

For course three things got even more Willy Wonka with what looked like a glow stick.  The menu told us it was Chamomile and Raspberry. Basically a raspberry puree with fresh mint that we had to suck it through the stick! Not my most elegant moment, but very delicious.

glow stick
Chamomile and raspberry

The remaining eleven courses were equally glorious! Although not quite as Crystal Maze – everything else we just had to shovel down our gobs in a more straight forward manner.  I think once the ice was broken amongst the guests with the first three ‘wonder’ courses, we were free to kick back and enjoy the food a bit more.  A wise move on Eddie’s part, as we were pretty inebriated by the end of the night and Eddie might have a had a few smashed baubles and glow sticks had they occurred at course thirteen and fourteen.

What I loved about the evening was just how tactile and thought-provoking the whole affair was.  Eddie was a delightful host – enthusiastically introducing each course and explaining what it was.  There was not a quiet moment in the entire four and half hours we were there – each dish was a great talking point.

The feta with pineapple sauce was another good ‘umami’ course.  I suppose cheese and pineapple is a classic, but this was a delightful take on it, the saltiness of the feta in rich contrast to the super sweet pineapple. And the onions marinated in blueberry vinegar (obviously) draped on the feta were an attractive and tasty bonus.

pineapple and feta
Feta, pineapple

The cured egg, truffle and smoked yoghurt was whacky and awesome.  It tasted smoky and otherworldy and was scoffed in one happy mouthful.

egg
Cured egg, truffle, smoked yoghurt

A couple of favourites from our November supper club were back on the menu – warm walnut bread with homemade creamy butter was a big hit.  And the deep fried halloumi with potato fondant and a creamy dill sauce – whilst a bit on the conventional side for Eddie – was comfort food at it’s best – and a pleasantly hefty portion after all those little mouthful sized-courses.

halloum
Halloumi, potato, dill

And then there were the puddings!  My boyfriend’s favourite was the fennel pollen, blueberry and lemon candyfloss – which I have to admit was pretty cool.

candyfloss.jpg
Fennel pollen, blueberry and lemon candyfloss

For me, the most intriguing pud was the cherry, coconut and chocolate which was a combination of a mousse and ice-cream.  Eddie theatrically prepared it in front of us on what was called an ‘anti-griddle’ – a contraption that looked like a 1980s photocopier. This piece of equipment can go as cold as minus fifty degrees and exclusively freezes the bottom piece of the food you put on the ‘griddle’.  Which left us with a creamy dessert that was half ice-cream at the bottom and unfrozen mousse at the top.  Eddie Wonka at his best!

ice cream
Cherry, coconut, chocolate

And as a massive chocoholic the final pudding was entirely pleasing to me – a bergamont and juniper truffle wrapped up like a present in shiny rainbow cellophane.  A simple fun touch that appealed to the child in all of us.

Truffle
Bergamont and juniper truffle

I apologise that I’ve been unable to describe the flavours of the various dishes I ate in detail.  The problem with eating fourteen experimental courses with so many flavours that were new to me, is that it’s difficult to have a clear memory of it all (and the booze may not have helped!). But, every course tasted sensational and was a visual feast!

I had a whale of a time as did all my friends, and for £40 (and it’s BYO) it’s brilliant value for money.  To find out more go to Eddie’s website:

http://www.veggiechef.co.uk/