Friday, 31 May 2013

Healthy Fry Up

"When in doubt - have a fry up!" - Typically British, I love a good fry up - even better when it's a healthy one made by moi. I guess you could can't really call this a fry up, can you? Either way, when I don't know what I fancy for tea, I make a cheeky breakfast-esque meal, after all, breakfast is by far my favourite meal so why not make breakfast dinner as well?

All I use is:
2 duck eggs, poached
As much spinach as I fancy
Mushrooms, chopped and steamed in a little butter, salt and pepper too
2 slices of your favourite bread, toasted and smeared in Lurpak
Homemade baked beans

How to make the beans - this recipe probably makes enough for 2-3 people depending how much you like your beans.
All you need is:
1 tin of cannellini beans - harricot beans are also ok
1 tin of chopped plum tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp red wine vinegar (or malt if it's all you've got)
1 tbsp tomato puree
2-3 tbsp water

Saute the onions on a med-low heat in a little oil
Add the beans, sugar and vinegar, stir to coat everything
Add the tinned tomatoes, juice included and the stated amount of water
Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, at least, on a low heat - this allows the mix to thicken
Stir in the puree to thicken further
Add a cheeky bit of pepper to season.

And there you go, homemade baked beans. I prefer these waaaay more than shop bought beans - less salt, less fat content and a much better taste.

I sometimes make my own hash browns too - they're so easy to make.
This is the recipe I would usually follow. I recently tried sweet potato and courgette hash browns at Maramaduke's so will give them a bash next time I make one of my healthy fry ups.

It may seem simple to make this but, just incase; make your hash browns first (if you're having them), beans second, mushrooms next (steam in a pan with a lid on on a low heat - you'll know they're done when they're soft - season with salt and pepper too!), eggs take about 2 minutes to poach and they have to be runny, it's the law don't 'ya know! Same with spinach - it takes hardly any time at all and make sure you season it. 
Dish it up, stick your buttered toast round the side of your plate and you're all set to do. 

Don't forget the HP sauce too, it'd be a sin to miss out on that beauty!

N xo

Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onion Tartlet

Tartlets are SUCH an easy meal to create - especially if you buy ready done pastry that just needs popping in the own. You can vary them as much as you like; Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onions is definitely my favourite, but I often make Spinach, Ricotta and Caramelised Onions and Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables - you can even throw a bit of Salami on for those skeptical about veggie food!

For 6 portions

All you need is:
1 pack/roll of Jus-Rol Puff Pastry - they even do a low fat version now!
2 onions - white, red or a mixture
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Goats cheese - as much or as little as you want; I really throw it on as it's so tasty!
1 egg, beaten - to glaze the pastry
Salt and Pepper, to season

Preheat oven to 180 and drizzle a little oil over a baking tray (big enough to fit the rolled out pastry on)

Chop onion - diced, sliced, whatever you feel like, and fry on a medium heat for a few minutes in a little oil. When softened a little, add sugar, stirring to coat. Add balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar. Turn heat as low as possible and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes - until very soft - don't allow to brown.

While onions are simmering, roll out pastry (so easy!) and slightly roll up the edges to create a little 'wall'. Glaze pastry with your beaten egg - it is not necessary that it is all used, it should be a light coating.

When the onions are done, evenly scatter them over the pastry (in between the 'walls'). Slice your goats cheese, not too thin, and scatter over the top. Season over the entire thing.

Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and slightly browned.

I find it best to serve with a tasty salad and dressing with homemade sweet potato wedges.

N xo

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Oh my Whoopie Pie!

After many trips to America I finally experienced the Whoopie Pie! I thoroughly enjoyed making these as they are something I have always wanted to try. You can make all sorts of changes to the recipe which is what makes them so much fun! Have a go and see what variations you can come up with!
All you need is:
180g plain flour
120ml skimmed milk
190g brown sugar
120ml soured cream
half a teaspoon of baking powder
half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
55g cocoa powder
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
115ml sunflower oil
1 handful white chocolate drops
1 handful milk chocolate drops

Buttercream filling:
200g butter
400g icing sugar
1 tbsp skimmed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 170 (fan oven) and line two baking trays with baking paper (trust me; it makes things much easier later on)

2. Gently heat the milk and stir in the sugar. Once heated and mixed together, take off the heat and add the soured cream

3. Leave the milk etc. to cool down a little. At this point, mix together in a seperate bowl the flour, bicarb, baking powder and cocoa.

4. Now your milk etc. is cooled, mix in the flour, sugar and oil in your pan. Pour these ingredients into the bowl and  floud in with the flour concoction.

5. If you have a piping bag you can pipe 8cm circles with the same amount of spacing between each one. HOWEVER, an easier was it putting two or three dessert spoons worth into a circle, leaving a reasonable amount of space in between each one. Bake them for around 8 minutes, or until, when testing with a skewer, it comes out clean.

6. Leave these to cool on your baking trays; it’s now time for the butter icing! Beat together the softened butter, icing sugar and vanilla, followed by the milk; make sure the buttercream is light and fluffy!

7. When the whoopies are finally cool, take a teaspoon and pop two tsps of buttercream onto the flat side followed by a seconded on top (flat side onto the buttercream. Repeat with the rest of the whoopies.


If you want plain whoopies rather than chocolate, don’t put the cocoa powder in. Instead add 55g extra plain flour. You could then use melted galaxy chocolate instead of the buttercream, crunchy peanut butter or marshmallow fluff (very popular with the Americans!)

N xo

Halloumi and Chorizo Salad

Most people complain about salads saying they're boring, tasteless and 'too healthy'. Well, I like salads and they aren't boring. You can do a lot with salad to make it appetising and obviously, they are healthy.

D reacquainted me with my love of salads recently; the one he made was incredible. He's all about the chicken, croutons, lime and something-secret-glaze. 

So, last night I thought 'right, I need to attempt to be a bit healthier!', I even turned down Vicky's infamous Red Thai Curry, heartbreaking! I decided on Halloumi, chorizo, sundried tomatoes and some grilled plum tomatoes and, I'm not going to lie, I drowned the mixed leaf salad in balsamic vinegar - I cannot get enough of the stuff.

Salads are pretty simple to throw together and by adding halloumi and chorizo, you don't feel like you're just eating rabbit food.

Here's the end result:

Halloumi, Chorizo, Sundried Tomatoes, Grilled Plum Tomatoes, Spinach, Mixed Leaf and Balsamic - tasty!

See, salad isn't boring. Here's a few others I've had recently, and some I think need trying. Jump on the bandwagon and have a salad - go on, I dare you!

1. Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad - Smitten Kitchen
2. Beetroot with Feta and Pear - Jamie Oliver
3. Spring Panzanella - Smitten Kitcen
4. Sweet Potato and Feta Salad - BBC Good Food - I add pine nuts to mine!
5. The Ultimate Greek Salad - Nigella Lawson

N xo

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Kashmiri Kitchen - Ecclesall Road, Sheffield

Last night Vicky and I ventured to Kashmiri Kitchen on Ecclesall Road. This is now the third time I've eaten there, and definitely the best. The first time I'd had a little too much to drink to appreciate the food, the second I had take out so it wasn't quite this same; this was the one. Ridiculously helpful staff, delicious food, a nice atmosphere - the works. The restaurant itself is quite small, 12 tables if that, so I'd definitely recommend booking. The service is so quick, I'm not sure if it's because we ate fairly early, but they really were on the ball. If you want an Indian that's not the norm for this country - you want some authenticity, not a standard Jalfrezi or Korma - then Kashmiri Kitchen is for you. The spices used and the way it is cook makes for a phenomenal taste that's rich in flavour and really is the real deal.

Going out for food with Vicky is always fun. Despite the fact I live with her and our friend Luka at the moment, we always have a story or two for one another. The staff seemed quite intent on preparing our food but we'd sat down and started nattering away that we barely noticed the menu in front of us. We quickly decided on a round of poppadoms with a chutney tray and the Seekh Kebab, which is lamb mixed with herbs and spices cooked in their tandoor (an Asian clay oven).

Now, I will throw my hands up and say my stomach took over my brain at this point, we wolfed the starters down that quickly, it's only on the last mouthful I realised I hadn't taken any pictures for you. Luckily, I imagine you will all know what poppadoms and chutneys look like and the kebabs were a long, rounded strip laced with spices and a little salad on the side. I'm not fantastic at describing things as you can tell but obviously the way we wolfed it down can be reassure you how tasty the starters were.

In literally about the space of 10 minutes, the mains had arrived. I decided on the Choosa Handi - a delicious, tomato based curry with Kashmiri spices - and Vicky decided on Keema Mutter - a lamb dish, slow cooked with garlic, ginger and green; quite a bit hotter than mine! We then ordered a plain rice each and a garlic naan to share. Here's what arrived...

Choosa Handi

My glamorous assistant with her dish, Keema Mutter
Garlic Naan

Tasty, tasty food - Choosa Handi, Rice and Garlic Naan.

Verdict: Rather impressed! Friendly staff, rapid service, delicious food and CHEAP. Honestly, the menu is dirt cheap. For what we had it came to about £16, ok, so we had iced water but even with something a little more adventurous, you're looking at £20 for a two course meal for two! I definitely think for anybody that likes Indian food, with a bit of a difference might I add, this isn't a place for those of you who worship the Tikka Masala or Rogan Josh, this is for those of you who like a curry that's a little more authentic in taste. Get yourselves here, have a try, I promise you will not be disappointed.

They don't have their own website but you can find the full menu on Just Eat to have a look at whether you're wanting delivery or just a quick browse before you pay a visit. They also offer 50% off with Taste Card. What more could you want?!

And if that can't tempt you, have a look at this, shhhh!

N xo

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Twit-twoo Owl Cake

My best friend Emily has a little bit of an obsession with owls! We all aren't sure why, we don't know whether it's because they're cute and fluffy...but we love her anyway and we encourage her obsession.

It was her birthday back in February (yes, a few months overdue but better late than never!) and we agreed this year not to spend too much, so instead, I made her an owl cake. It was VERY fiddly, it took me and 3 and a half hour to get it right (well not really 'right', it's still not brilliant) but she absolutely loved it! 

I adapted it from this recipe and rather than write exactly how I did it step by step, have a look at the original version - it will be much clearer and better explained than I could get across to you. Have a go for yourselves! I'm going to try and make a cat cake soon for my best friends birthday coming up next month. I shall report back; hopefully with good news!

N xo

Easy-Peasy Tiffin

Fridge cake? Sounds revolting, right? Well, I thought that...but I was wrong, so read on and experience this ridiculously easy and delicious cake. I've always liked Tiffin but was never actually aware how it was made - no baking at all, it's all about the fridge!

All you need is:
120g butter
25g sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp honey
250g broken biscuits - I used digestives but rich tea are okay too
2 tbsp drinking chocolate
1 tbsp cocoa powder
50g raisins
25g glace cherries
125 melted chocolate, melted (I used double this as my dad would complain if not!)

In a pan melt the butter and mix in the sugar, milk and honey. Make sure it is all mixed well.

In a bowl, break the biscuits into small crumbs while the butter mix is melting.

You need to add half  of the crumbs to melted butter along with the drinking choc and cocoa powder. 

Now you need to mix this all reeeally well. Once you've done that, add the rest of the biscuit crumbs and raisins and cherries. And again, mix well.

Tip the mix into a lightly greased sandwich tin and press down well. This is the base of your Tiffin so it should be about 2cm thick. Now you need to play the waiting game and leave this in your fridge for 1 to 2 hours to set.

1-2 hours passed? It should now be set. Get that bad boy out of the fridge. Melt your chocolate on a med-low heat in the microwave - only do short, 30 second bursts though so it doesn't burn. 

Pour melted chocolate over evenly over the biscuit base. 

Remind anyone of this? - Extremely annoying but I guarantee this will be stuck in your head now!

Now you've poured the melted chocolate on...more waiting. Back in the fridge for another half an hour to an hour to set before cutting into tasty chunks. I got about 12 chunks from mine; and my Dad was disappointed as he pretty much demolished those on his own. Double batch next time, Dad?

N xo

Monday, 27 May 2013

My new toy.

Whenever I see that little apple, my heart skips a beat...not quite, but I love Apple products. I know, I know, 'expensive', 'you're paying for the name', blah blah blah but truly, Apple products are fantastic. Thank you Steve Jobs, R.I.P.

Easy to navigate, sleek looking; iDeal ( for a technophobe like myself.

And here he is...

Meet my new toy, the iPad Mini. 
I have a feeling I will not be putting you down for some time, my friend.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Great Gatsby - Division Street, Sheffield

Possibly my favourite bar in Sheffield, The Great Gatsby. Stylish, comfortable and stocking every drink you could possibly think of (even Whisky dating back to before your grandparents were born - The owner's motto "those with acquired tastes know where to come!"). We usually would go in the evenings or late at night - not only do they do the most incredible cocktails, their DJ's always play amazing sets, oh, and the food isn't too shabby either! 

I chatted with the owner a long while ago when the place first opened and he told me about starting up the bar and his thinking behind it; he decided on naming the bar after the Fitzgerald classic because of his admiration for the 1920's, the literature, Fitzgerald's iconic novel itself and the idea surrounding the prohibition...quite inventive really!

Beards only...

Look at all of that may be inspired by the 1920's but there is no prohibition here!


Cocktail, my dear?
Let's get comfortable...

Nick Deakin Artwork
Check him out on Twitter or his website.

A very comfortable chair

A cheeky peek at the menu for you foodies.

A cup of tea later, we were ready to brave the relentless English weather, umbrella in hand.

Check them out online, on Twitter or on Facebook.
N xo

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Dog & Duck - Old Clipstone, Nottinghamshire

My parents and I really are creatures of habit when it comes to eating out spontaneously. For years we have frequented the Dog & Duck in Old Clipstone - 10 minutes from our house, always impecable food and a very...different atmosphere. The D&D has been around way before my time, my Mum worked there when she was my age and it was in business a long time before she even worked there. Over the years, the place has changed dramatically. Originally, it was your typical spit and sawdust pub, with your regular Friday night drinkers, just what a beer-loving man wants from a pub; now, it is a bistro, chaotically decorated in a way that you'd think would be hideous, but there's actually something quite appealing about it. Mixes of wallpapers, chandeliers  thorn-like chairs, Buddha's  velvet poofs, name it, they've got it, but honestly, it just works. I don't know how and I don't know why, but people always go back, and not solely for the food.

See what I shouldn't work, but it kind of does...
 Important things first: the menu.
 I have been saying I will have the Halloumi and Sweet Potato/Butternut Squash Puree Tortilla for months and never got round to it...last night was the night.

And here's the beauty - not what I expected at all. Halloumi and delicious tortilla squares on a bed of courgette and aubergine ratatoullie with the puree and baslamic...and a little watercress, mmm! 

Food served so well seems a shame to eat! But...I did, I wolfed it down and cleared the plate. Very, very nice!

Trust me when I say this, the food is always top notch here. I'd definitely recommend the meal I had and my parents had Rump Steak and Boston Beef - both highly rated. And you can't beat a Scampi Salad at lunch time with crusty bread. 

I'm one for trying new restaurants, new foods, new experiences...but I would go back to the Dog & Duck time and time again.

Oh, and I'm sorry about the poor quality iPhone snaps, I forgot to take my camera!

Visit their website for a sneaky peak at their delicious menu!

N xo