Wednesday, 23 September 2015

MADE: Slow Braised Pigs Cheeks - #2 Sherry


As I told you last week, the lovely team at Grey's Fine Foods sent me a biiiig delivery of Iberico pigs cheeks. I cooked them in cider. They were absolutely delicious. Like seriously delicious and I want to make them again very, very soon.

Recipe two - slow cooked in sherry. Cooking these babies in sherry is probably more of a traditional Spanish way of serving these. The flavour is obviously much richer than cooking with cider and, in all honesty, made the dish have more of a 'winter stew' feel. Not that this is a bad thing, I LOVE stew. And this kinda dish with pigs cheeks was too tasty for words.

I'm going to keep it short and sweet, here's pigs cheeks recipes number two.



All you need to serve four:
1/2 kg Iberico pork cheeks
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
175ml sherry
500ml beef stock - I use these
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
Fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp cornflour
Sea salt and black pepper, to season

You can either cook these in the oven (preheated at 150, fan assisted) OR in the slow cooker on high. Both ways will need at least 8 hours.

Whichever way you're cooking, everything except the cornflour needs to go into the casserole dish/slow cooker dish. Obviously mixing the beef stock with boiling water before adding to the dish.

After cooking when the dish is pretty much ready to serve, add the cornflour. Stir well so it does not go lumpy.



Dish up with your favourite veggies. I opted for roasties, carrots and green beans this time.

SO so tasty. I can't get over how nice these taste slow cooked. I definitely think the cider cooked cheeks were my favourite but the sherry cooked ones still tasted incredible.

Let me know which you prefer in the comments below or on twitter.

xo

*HUGE thank you to the wonderful Grey's Fine Foods for gifting me with the pork cheeks for both of my recipes - all views are my own*

Monday, 21 September 2015

ATE AT: The Rum Kitchen, Carnaby


I'd wanted to go to The Rum Kitchen for AGES. Like ages and ages. D and I had tried to book a table months ago but every time it was ALWAYS fully booked (due to it always being on a weekend). 

The Rum Kitchen is about all things Caribbean but with a bit of a twist. They bring together a taste of the Caribbean with flavours inspired by the travels of the guys that founded the place. They have two locations - just off Carnaby Street and Saints Road.

SO being in London with a lunch time free, I ventured there with a pal for a delicious lunch. I was pleased to see that although fairly busy, they had a space for us!


The menu's made up of a mixture of small plates, classic, 'buns' and twists. Then you've got the sides and homemade sauces. They've also got specials at each restaurant.

They also do brunch. Which blows my mind and I SERIOUSLY need to go.


I went for one of the small plates (not that small...)  - sticky barbecue ribs (£7.50) SO GOOD!!



The taste was perfect and had a little spice without being too overpowering. The ribs were much meatier than a lot of restaurant bought ribs so were probably up there with some of the best I've had. Naturally I teamed the ribs with a bowl of sweet potato fries (£4) - perfectly crunchy and seasoned.



R went for the soft shell crab burger with spicy tamarind sauce, ginger aioli (which he tells me was AMAZING) and a guava lime relish (£12). For a side, he had a bowl of sweet potato and yam mash (£4 - which I can also confirm was amazing!) He claims it's probably the best burger he's ever had. So a definite recommendation if you're planning a visit there.

The atmosphere was great. The interior felt really authentic for a Caribbean restaurant, the music was great and all of the food being dished out looked seriously good. The staff were good, but nothing out of the ordinary - professional and helpful but not overly friendly, something I would have expected from that style of restaurant.

All in all, I can definitely recommend a visit here. The food was a strong 8 out of 10 and I certainly be returning for brunch and for another main meal so I can try something else off the menu!

Have you been before? Can you recommend anything else for my next visit?

xo

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

BAKED: Rhubarb and Ginger Slice


I really fell out of love with baking a few months back. I found myself feeling a bit uninspired when making the usual brownies and cookies I always swayed towards. With the end of summer pretty much here, we had some rhubarb leftover in my parents vegetable garden so I decided to do something a little more adventurous than make a crumb - enter rhubarb and ginger slice.

The sour rhubarb works so so well with the sharp ginger and sweet base of the slice. All you need is around 400g rhubarb so this is a great recipe to use up the rest of what's about to disappear in your garden!



All you need for one batch (based on a 20x20 baking tin):

For the base:
90g salted butter, at room temp
120g GF plain flour (you can use a mix of wholewheat and white if you like)
50g granulated brown sugar
A couple of pinches of sea salt

For the topping:
360-400g rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
2 tsp chopped stem ginger
75g granulated brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 lemon - juice only
1 tbsp cornflour

Let's get started...preheat your oven to 180 (fan assisted). Line your 20x20 baking tin with baking parchment.

Grab a medium-large bowl and whisk together your butter and sugar. It should be light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt, mixing until it forms a dough.

Add the dough to your lined baking tin. Press it down with a fork so it is an even base. Pop into the oven for 10-15 minutes (or until lightly browned). When done, put to one side.

For the topping - put your chopped rhubarb into a medium sized saucepan with a tbsp water. Also add the chopped stem ginger and brown sugar. Place a pan lid on but make sure you stir occasionally. This should take about 10 minutes to soften.

Once your rhubarb mix has softened, allow it to cool for around 10 minutes so it is lukewarm. Once cooler, add to a food processor or mini chopper. At this point, turn the oven down to 150.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice. Add a little at a time to the chopper/processor, blending for 30 seconds each time. Finally add the cornflour and blend for 30 seconds of so to avoid lumps in the mix.

Pour the mixture over your cooled base. Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the mixture sets.

Allow to cool before slicing so the mixture can set on top. You should get around 16 slices out of it.


This is such a tasty recipe, even for rhubarb haters. The ginger and sugar combination, make it sweet rather than sour!

xo

Monday, 14 September 2015

MADE: Slow Braised Pigs Cheeks - #1 Cider


Just after I got back from Vegas, the lovely team over at Grey's Fine Foods sent me over a generous delivery of Iberico pigs cheeks and a bottle of Fino en Rama wine. 

Grey's are a Spanish food importer, founder by Javier De La Hormaza in 2012. A self confessed foodie, trained chef and hospitality professional - he's the right guy for the job, with over 12 years experience in some of the best eateries in the UK.

Their range of imported Spanish foods hosts everybody's favourites - beautiful Spanish wines, Iberico hams, the best cheese around and various other deli delights in their impressive catalogue. Not only do they stand out as one of the best Spanish food suppliers in the UK, they also taste test hundreds of products a year to select the best products to seal the deal that they're a firm favourite.

SO, I had a lot of pigs cheeks. A LOT.  1.176kg to be precise.

I had them delivered to my parents house because I figured, if there was anybody that would enjoy tasting these bad boys, it would be them (and also their/our next door neighbour, another self confessed foodie!)

I wanted to do a traditional recipe or a real English gastropub style. With these ideas floating around with these I came to the conclusion of two things - the first being sherry, the second being cider - so I figured, why not split the cheeks and make two different recipes. WINNER!

I opted for one lot (cider) slow cooked in the oven and the second lot (sherry) done for 8 hours in the slow cooker. First recipe up...slow braised pigs cheeks in cider with creamy mash and seasonal veggies.

All you need to serve 4 people (trust me, these are filling!):
Around 1/2 kg of pigs cheeks
1 1/2 bottles (750ml) of dry cider - I used this delight and it was delicious
2 medium sprigs of Rosemary
3 small sprigs of Thyme
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and Pepper, to season
1 oven proof casserole dish - I used our trusty Le Cruset

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan assisted) and allow to heat.

Grab your casserole dish. Pop everything into the dish - if you're in the house while the cheeks are cooking, only put half of the cider in at this point (and the other half part way through cooking). If not, put all of the cider in the casserole dish now.

Allow at least 8 hours to slow cook. The meat will practically fall apart when it's ready to be served.





Dish up with some seasonal veggies and mash...Dinner is served.

xo 

*HUGE thank you to the wonderful Grey's Fine Foods for gifting me with the pork cheeks for both of my recipes - all views are my own*

Saturday, 12 September 2015

TRAVEL: Tips for Frequent Flyers

Flying from Milan to London - beautiful views!

As you'll know by now, due to my constant 'banging on about it' - I travel a lot for work. I travel short haul to Europe but then there's a fair few long haul to the US and China in there too. Flying is tiring, airports are boring and sometimes, the whole experience can be a bit stressful. My motto has now become 'why let it be stressful? Get organised!'

It's the little things that make travelling easier - pre-airport, waiting at the airport and during the flight. I try and pack at least two days before I travel. I make a list. I tick things off to check as I pack. It may seem OTT but when you've been living out of a suitcase on and off for 3 months, it definitely helps. 

I have a little clutch bought for me by an ex-colleague (it's so cute, from Beyond Retro) that I keep my passport, currency, travel documents, business cards, a pen and, usually, my phone in there too (you can guarantee it ALWAYS falls to the bottom of my bag and I can never find it!) Simple things like sorting out your hand luggage liquids into a resealable bag and having them in your hand before you get to the front of the security queue (along with your laptop/any electricals) is a real time saver too. 

As far as travel clothes go, I always keep it simple. A dress and leggings, dungarees and a top - something like that. Usually with a pair of Birkenstocks, New Balance or French Sole ballet flats so they are easy to slip on and off as well as being really comfortable.

This may all seem a bit much but, trust me, it makes life so much easier being organised. Having all of your things sorted a few days before, boarding passes printed, keeping things in certain places so you can get to them fast...it all results in a stress free experience.

Copenhagen -> Budapest

Very few people like flying. It can be pretty boring and sometimes scary - I am fine once I'm in the air but take off and landing make me so, so nervous. You've just got to think 'I'm on here for this amount of time, I've just got to keep myself busy and look after myself'. Here's a few things I do to keep myself feeling fresh and to avoid boredom:

WEAR EARPLUGS - my dad swears by them, I hate them (plus, with a tragus piercing, earplugs are a difficultly as I'm sure some of you will know). A few months ago I was suffering really badly with ear ache so tried ear plugs for the first time during a short-haul flights. I hate to admit, it made a huge different and now I wear them on every flight. They drown out other peoples noise, general flying noise and leave your ears feeling normal when you get off rather than with that weird echoey feel.

KEEP YOURSELF OCCUPIED -  with music, magazines, a new book, a notebook to write or draw in, the in-flight films. There's plenty you could do to kill a few hours. Watching a couple of films can allow you to pass 3 or 4 hours of time. 

GET SOME SLEEP (WITH AN EYE MASK!) - If you're flying for more than 4 or 5 hours, I definitely would recommend getting some sleep. And, to be honest, I normally end up having a bit of a power nap on short-haul flights too. My main tip with getting sleep is to wear and eye mask. Team that with your ear plugs and you may even get a slightly deeper sleep because you're avoiding a lot of that background noise and those horribly bright lights. 

SKIN CARE - Make a small tube of hand cream part of your hand luggage liquid collection. Plane travel sucks the moisture out of your skin so moisturise your hands (feet and legs too if you fancy!) whilst flying - at least once! I also always carry a small tub of vaseline too - perfect for keeping your lips hydrated and also, if you put a little bit inside each nostril, it helps to fight any germs/bacteria on the plane to prevent you from getting sick!

HYDRATE! - As well as hydrating your skin, drink PLENTY of water. Also, avoid coffees and alcohol whilst flying or this will - it's known to make the effects of jetlag worse but also for the way it dehydrates your body.

MOVE AROUND AND STRETCH - Even if you're only flying for a couple of hours, get up at least once. If it's long haul, once every hour-hour and a half. I've suffered with restless legs quite a bit recently due to constant flying but walking around and having a bit of a stretch whilst flying has definitely relieved the problem a bit. I also make sure I practice some yoga stretches as often as possible before and after flying to improve my circulation. 

EAT - lets face it, plane food is awful. Full of salt, crappy food with next to no nutrients. I always grab some nuts, fruit or healthy bars from the store before boarding the plane. I pack healthy natural-sugar bars (like nakd or natural) in my case so I always have something on hand when I'm away too.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, TRY AND RELAX! - I'm a nervous flyer. I really don't enjoy it - I'm relatively fine when we're up in the air but take off and landing fill me with dread. One of my flights back in June went through horrific turbulence - thankfully it was only London to Milan - but still, I was a nervous wreck. You HAVE to stay calm - meditate, deep breaths, stretch, sleep, music - whatever, just relax. 

I hope some of these tips help you. They're by no means 'expert' tips, just some things that tend to help me pre, during and post travel. 

Let me know of any tips you may have too!

xo

Friday, 11 September 2015

FIVE FOR FRIDAY #38

 
It's a couple of weeks since I've done a Five For Friday now...last week I was crazy busy in Milan. Hard life! And, to be honest, this week has been equally as busy. I didn't get back until late on Sunday night and this week I've had a long trip, rushed around catching up and headed back up North for the weekend to catch up with family and head over to Manchester to see my bestie.

This coming week...I FLY TO NEW YORK. I am so ridiculously excited you wouldn't believe. Four days of it are for work but I have three days of playing tourist. AHHHHH!! I CANNOT WAIT. I'm going to pop together a 'New York Diary' all about planning your time there, where I ate and all the nitty gritty that you'll probably need for planning your own trip. I feel like it's going to be the trip OF DREAMS!

So, this week's Five For Friday...

NEW TATTOO - Yesterday I had a brand new tattoo and I LOVE IT! It's on the back of my left arm and crazy sore at the moment (and pretty red, hence no photos!) I love tattoos and how each one represents something in my life. They aren't necessarily really in depth stories behind each other, but they all signify a memory.

WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER - My housemate and I started watching this on Netflix when we got back from Milan. It's bizarre in parts but there are also a lot of laugh out loud moments. Definitely worth a watch but power through the strange bits!

NEW PROJECTS - I'm really excited to be part of an exciting new project through work and one of our clients. It's all related to Ivy League fashion and how it's still relevant in the UK. It's really exciting what we are putting together and I can't wait for the launch in November. More info to come!

F&F AUTUMN RANGE - There are some BEAUTIFUL things in the new F&F Autumn range at Tesco. I'm a big advocate of F&F clothes and you can guarantee that on a normal day, I'll have at least one item of F&F on. I'm in love with their burgundy suede shift dress and a-line skirts.

READING ON THE TRAIN - I rarely get time to read a good book anymore. That's why I love train journeys - it makes me sit for at least an hour and power through a few chapters. I've just started reading my uni friends newly published book and am thoroughly enjoying it so far. SO happy for his success!

Happy weekend lovely readers!

xo

Monday, 7 September 2015

MONTHLY GOALS: September

 
I can't believe we're already 9 months into the year. I can't quite believe Autumn is approaching and Christmas is around the corner. August was a ridiculously busy month for me. I think I spent about 9 days in the country due to (mostly) work trips and a brief holiday. It was an incredible month and possibly the best I've had since my 2013/14 backpacking trip. I somehow managed to stick to my August goals as well...
 
An August Goals recap:
 
Actually relax - I definitely spent time during my holiday relaxing as well as getting a few days in while I was in Vegas too. Shopping and pool time both thoroughly deserved!

Plan my New York trip - All done. List of restaurants prepared, tourist days planned. I'M SO BLOODY EXCITED I COULD BURST. It's the best possible trip to round off 3 months of travel.

Get organised - Thankfully I did. My time in between travelling was spent getting everything in line for the next trips.

ENJOY my holiday to Budapest - I absolutely loved Budapest and I can't wait to get a couple of reviews down on the blog. It's a great city and crazy cheap as well as being absolutely beautiful.

Capture my travels - Not just in photos but embracing the memories too - Achieved. August has been an amazing month. I've been lucky enough to holiday as well as have the time of my life in Vegas for work.

SEPTEMBER GOALS

SEE ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING HUMANLY POSSIBLE IN NEW YORK - I have three days. On your marks, get set, go...!

PLAN A SHEFFIELD AND A LONDON TRIP - I need to see my friends, SOON! I miss both places sooo much but finding time to get there is always a struggle.

NOT WORRY ABOUT MONEY - It's going to be an expensive month BUT a fun one. So I need to let my hair down and not worry about what I'm spending too much OR let money worries allow me to miss out on things.

TRY AND HAVE A MONTH WITHOUT BUYING MORE THAN 10 ITEMS OF CLOTHING - I have a problem. A massive problem. I can't stop buying clothes. My wardrobe is going to burst. Note to self: October goal - if I haven't worn an item of clothing for more than 6 months, CHARITY.


SLEEP - I can't remember what it feels like to sleep for more than 5 hours each night. I want my 8 hours back!

Have you got any goals for this month?

xo