Weekly Eats 29th April

I’ve had a pretty epic and colourful week, including a 21 mile hike in the Peak District, hanging out in a beach hut in Lytham St Annes and some leisurely time in London.  Luckily the food has been top notch and varied too.

Let me talk you through it:

Sunday night was a Diana Henry Change of Appetite number – kale pesto and wholemeal pasta – earthy, tangy and gorgeous.  The perfect food for a hangover as we were recovering from a 40th birthday party the night before.

Then Monday and Tuesday were London days, and my foodie friend Lolita had lots of exciting venues in store for me, starting with Mildred’s the vegetarian chain where I had a truly exceptional Tokyo Bowl.  Great flavour and fantastically vibrant to look at. Obviously we then had to have a pudding after our healthy lunch, just to even things out, so we popped to Ottolenghi in Islington.  What a marvellous venue. Very sleek, minimalist and modern.  And the cakes were excellent too.

Tuesday’s expedition was to Books for Cooks, the brilliant cookbook shop in Notting Hill.  They have a three course lunch menu from their tester kitchen for just £7.  It’s a great atmosphere -friendly and welcoming and rather theatrical.  We were treated to butterbean and onion soup, ricotta and spinach dumplings and a roasted lemon cake.  All so good.

food Diana Henry's kale pesto and whole wheat penne
Diana Henry’s kale pesto and whole wheat penne
food Tokyo bowl at Mildred's
Tokyo bowl at Mildred’s
food Plum crumble cake at Ottolenghi's
Plum crumble cake at Ottolenghi’s
food 3 courses for £7 at Books for Cooks in Notting Hill
3 courses for £7 at Books for Cooks in Notting Hill

I was back in Stockport for Tuesday dinner and Jamie cooked up a healthy option to counterbalance all my London pigging out.  It was an Inspiralized recipe: lemon, garlic, brocilli and bacon and it hit the spot.

On Wednesday I had more travelling exploits as I headed up to Lytham St Annes with friends and spent the day in a beach hut.  It was freezing but glorious and what a fun day we had. Lunch was a picnic from Booths made up of quiches, salads, cheese and baba ganoush. Ideal beach hut fodder.

Thursday night, again I was feeling the need to up my healthy food intake so we did a ‘bikini bolognaise’ from the Inspiralized cookbook – made with courgetti and turkey mince.  Very spicy and tasty.

Finally I finished the week on Friday with a 21 mile hike in the Peak District with Fresh Walks.  A glorious and exhausting day.  I was delighted to come home to a divine Diana Henry dinner that Jamie had rustled up: griddled aubergines with date, walnut and yoghurt salad with kisir (a pomegranate and tomato taboulleh).  Definitely one of the best things I’ve eaten all year – the kisir was tangy and sweet, and the date and yoghurt salad was a creamy and delicious contrast. It was the perfect end to my mamouth day and week.

I’ll be back next week for more updates from my eating adventures – watch this space.

food Lemon, garlic, brocilli and bacon
Lemon, garlic, brocilli and bacon
Food Lytham St Annes
Lytham St Annes
food A Booth's picnic
A Booth’s picnic
food Lytham St Annes beach huts
Lytham St Annes beach huts
Food Inspiralized bikini bolognaise
Inspiralized bikini bolognaise
Food Peak District 21 mile hike - I have no idea where we were though!
Peak District 21 mile hike – I have no idea where we were though!
food griddled aubergines with date, walnut and yohurt salad with kisir
Griddled aubergines with date, walnut and yohurt salad with kisir

Eating Three Courses for £7 at Books for Cooks, the Famous Notting Hill Cookbook Shop

I need to clarify to begin with that I didn’t in fact eat three courses for £7, I ate two courses for £5.  But I needed you to know that you COULD eat three courses for £7. This is such a deal!

My friend Lolita let me in on this hidden gem back in May.  Books for Cooks is a fantastic bookshop entirely dedicated to cookbooks and so it’s my idea of heaven.  And! Even better they have a daily test kitchen where they sample recipes from their cookbooks and serve them to the public at a meagre cost.  I was shown photographic evidence of the food Lolita had eaten and I knew I had to go as soon as possible.

My visit wasn’t entirely straight-forward.  I was accompanied by my friend Vic and her toddler Bella, both Vic and I accepting the challenge of entertaining a toddler during quite a fancy meal.  We could do this surely! Well Bella was certainly as enthusiastic as me about the cookbooks. She merrily pulled as many as she could off the shelves to have a good old look.  As the delicious starter (chilled minted pea soup) arrived, it became apparent we would need to eat in shifts.  One to walk Bella outside, one to eat and repeat!

Chilled Minted Pea Soup

Chilled minted pea soup then?  Little did I know how much I would like a cold soup – it sounds a bit weird.  But it was thick, refreshing, sweet and delicious – it was a winner.

Next up was beef bourginon with crushed new potatoes.  What’s not to love about a beef bourginon? It was admittedly a small portion, but with pudding in mind and it only being midday, this did make sense.  And it really was a rich, tender bourginon and those great buttery crushed potatoes on top were a lovely touch.

Beef Bourginon with Crushed New Potatoes

Unfortunately despite having plenty of room for a pud, Bella had reached her saturation point.  I jealously surveyed the three varieties of cake being doled out (guinness cake, apricot sponge and carrot and walnut cake).  I just about managed to be a grown up about it, promising myself that I would return one day and have the full three courses.

The day’s menu and the delicious cakes I nearly ate
Delightful Bella, momentarily distracted from pulling all the books off the shelves

I heartily recommend you visit the test kitchen at Books for Cooks whether you are interested in the cookbooks or not, you will be very interested in the delicious and bargain priced meal.  The staff were lively and welcoming and clearly loved having their bookshop crammed with greedy customers.  I will most definitely be back to browse the colourful bookshelves and eat more food.

Find out more about Books for Cooks here: https://www.booksforcooks.com/