Nasi Goreng with Crispy Shallots

I would never have really thought of making this dish, but when UK Shallots tweeted me asking to create one of their recipes, I couldn’t say no. This was the recipe they sent me and it it was so delicious Gary even said he’d pay for it in a restaurant!

All the ingredients arrived in a delightful little orange cool bag which Nippet now seems to be obsessed with.

Anyway unwrapped, here’s everything that I used. Ooh, Waitrose!

How cute is the shallot with the eyes!! I couldn’t bear cutting him up, so he’s still hanging out in our kitchen.

The original recipe is vegan, but we fancied some meat this weekend so we added in some pork that I’d marinated for a few hours in soy, honey, chilli and a little bit of garlic. You could very easily leave this out though and still have a totally yummy vegan meal.

The only thing I struggled with was getting the shallots crispy, the recipe said to fry until golden brown and they would crisp as they cool. Sadly mine never crisped despite almost burning most of them (maybe I over oiled?) but they were still really nice. Shallots are such a staple in our house, I tend to buy them more than onions as they’re so versatile and also because they’re small they’re great if you’re cooking for one.

Find the recipe here!

Disclosure: I was gifted the ingredients for this post by the lovely UK Shallots.

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The Deer Park, Roundhay Review

A couple of weeks ago we decided to venture through the snow to try out The Deer Park’s new menu. We’re regular visitors as it’s our local, and the food has always been really nice, I especially recommend their Sunday roasts! They recently added a handful of new dishes to expand their menu and we couldn’t resist going to try.

I started with the kiln-smoked salmon tacos. The portion was just right with two tacos served in those handy taco holders. They looked great, with sour cream, pickled beetroot and peppers, but they were unfortunately fridge-cold. This really affected the taste as you couldn’t really get any of the flavours, except the beetroot which was sweet and delicious. I think these could have been really nice if they were served room temperature or even slightly warm.

Gary had the lobster and king prawn pot which was really good! Served as a mousse, it a lovely texture accompanied with gorgeous crunchy ciabatta toast. Yum. I definitely had food envy!

For mains, they didn’t have the chicken pie I’d ordered (though they explained the snow had affected their deliveries) which I was really sad about because who doesn’t want pie when it’s snowing outside?? I opted instead for the chargrilled lamb and balsamic kebabs, with chips instead of the couscous salad. The lamb kebabs were really well seasoned with a slight hint of spice, though they were a little bit on the oily side.

Gary went for the roasted pork belly which came with scallops and dauphinoise potatoes, and a rich jus . I’m not a fan of pork belly, but did try a little bit in the interests of the review. It was really tender and the jus was full of flavour.

Pudding was the real star of the show, we chose to share the the Dulce de Leche lava fondant served with peanut butter brittle and praline ice cream. The fondant oozed beautiful Dulce de Leche, we found ourselves spoon battling for the last bite. It was one of the best puddings I’ve ever had!

Overall the new Deer Park menu is good and service was excellent as always. There’s a lot more to choose from now and some really nice sounding dishes that we didn’t try such as the buttermilk chicken and a pan fried seabass, and of course the pie that my heart was set on! I’m sure we’ll be back again to sample some more dishes soon.

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Sukothai, Chapel Allerton Review

I have a confession to make. Here goes: I’m not like, really into Thai food. *gasps*

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fully dislike it, it’s just if we’re talking Asian cuisines I’d rather go for Vietnamese, Chinese or Japanese. I just think I’ve just had quite bad experiences with Thai restaurants. It’s so touch and go out there. Bad Thai curries, only-ok pad thais… I’ve been burned before, and would usually just choose to go somewhere else. 

Until now *dramatic music*. 

I recently went to Sukothai in Chapel Allerton and it has to be the best Thai meal I’ve had in my life. I’m a convert. Now I can be that person that suggests going out for Thai and have a failsafe restaurant to back it up. Sukothai to the rescue.

I was so curious to try here as it’s reputation really does precede it. It’s won countless awards and I often hear great word of mouth reviews. It’s a fairly big restaurant, but it gets REALLY busy. We booked a table on a Friday night and good job we did. People were queuing out of the door (you know it’s going to be good if people are queuing out of a door). 

The service on drinks was a little bit slow but it was very busy – all the tables were full so they were clearly at capacity. We ordered a mixed satay platter to start with which arrived fairly quickly. 

Sadly though we ordered it for three people and there was only two kebabs of each meat. We pointed it out and at the end they only charged us for two people, but hey we would have liked more meat. Anyway after awkwardly cutting the kebabs into thirds, they were absolutely delicious.

There was chicken, beef and pork and a choice of dipping sauces – spicy peanut or sticky soy. The chicken and peanut went together beautifully and the soy was excellent with the other two. The star of the show was the pork – it had a soft melting texture and was so juicy and full of flavour. 

Next up I ordered the Chicken Pad Khing – chicken stir fried with ginger, spring onion and mushrooms. The chicken was soft and tender, in a sweet and salty sauce that just tasted beautifully oriental. The veg was perfectly cooked, not overly done, with a nice crisp to it still. It all had a very clean taste to it too, not greasy at all. My only niggle was the ginger was in huge chunks which wasn’t that pleasant to eat, but that’s more just personal taste. 

My friends ordered the Phed Mamuang Himmaparn (duck with cashew nuts) and the Khao Pad (fried rice) with beef. Both were generous portions and the duck was incredibly tender.

The food was really reasonably priced too, including wine it was less than £30 each. The menu is incredibly big, I feel like I definitely need to go back to try all the different things! All in all I’d really recommend Sukothai, I’m sad I didn’t discover it when I actually lived in Chapel Allerton. If you’re looking for something a bit different, it’s really worth a try.

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The Toastest with the Mostest

Butter, jam, marmite (if you’re that sort). Isn’t toast one of the best things you can make? It’s so versatile, from breakfast to a snack. From a hangover to pre-workout fuel. Toast is a winner.

Fuelled by my love of our crunchy bready friend, I recently did a Twitter poll to find out what the toast topping du jour was.

Butter came out tops, which I was actually surprised at given I’d thrown avocado in there. Granted, it’s not a spread, but it’s damn good. Nobody else agreed (what’s wrong with you people?).

Anyway, the people at Moose Maple Butter were listening (with really big moose ears, I like to think). They challenged me to try their butter, assuring it was all natural and all delicious. How could I refuse.

A week later this bad boy shows up. 

Guys it’s MAPLE SYRUP BUTTER. They get butter, and put maple syrup in it. Oh god, it’s good. It’s definitely not healthy but hey if you’re already slathering your toast in 2 tablespoons of butter then why not go the whole hog (or moose). 

Mmmm. Butter.

Heavily saturated toast. We only had wholemeal in the house. I originally wanted to wait and try it on a crumpet (as advertised – ‘great on crumpets’) but I just couldn’t. 

It’s soooo good. It tastes exactly how you’d expect it would. Buttery. Mapley. Sweet AF. It was excellent on toast but I’ve also been eating it straight out of the tub, because y’know, it’s nice. 

For me, butter definitely wins when it comes to toast toppings, and especially if it’s maple butter! If you haven’t tried this stuff it’s definitely worth a go, especially if you have a sweet tooth. 

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The Lamplighter Dining Rooms, Windermere Review

What a couple of weeks it’s been! I’ve had such a busy run, with changing jobs, having a horrible cold. I start my new role tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited! Anyway, this trip we had to The Lakes this weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Gary had booked us the trip for my Christmas present, and I bloody love a surprise so I was really excited to see what he had in store. We stayed at the Howbeck in Windermere, just a 20 minute walk from the lake itself and from Bowness-in-Windermere. This had acccess to a little spa up the road which we were unsure about at first as it looked well, a lot more like a gym in a sports centre circa 1982, but actually on the inside it turned out to be really pleasant. 

Anyway on to the eating. We ate at the Lamplighter Dining rooms after Gary had spied it on both TripAdvisor and The Guardian. It’s been going for over 20 years, and is attached to a B&B (as are most things in Windermere). 

It was a Friday night and most of the tables were busy. We had a very friendly, local waiter who welcomed us and read out the specials. Gary immediately went for the lamb ballotine – a slow roasted shoulder of lamb, shredded and served with the richest red wine gravy. I wanted the sea bass but they had run out, so I went for the plaice instead.

For starters Gary ordered the scotch quail eggs with black pudding and chorizo, I just had some olives because I wasn’t super hungry for a full dish.

The scotch quail eggs were wonderful with a lovely soft yolk inside, surrounded by the crumbly black pudding and chorizo sausage mix.

 The mixed olives were really good quality, a satisfying combination of Nocellara and Kalamata. Very moreish and great with my house white wine.

Next up came the mains. Gary’s lamb was the real winner here, it tasted incredible with rich flavours of blackberry, red wine and rosemary. The meat was shredded, and very tender. It came with a wonderfully rich gravy and mash potato. 

My plaice was excellent too, really delicately fried with a little dusting of flour. The chills were spot on. Our one gripe was the roasted vegetables that came with both dishes, there was nothing green, just a trio of parsnip, swede and what appeared to be more potato. A little bit of cabbage or broccoli wouldn’t have gone amiss.

We finished up with the sticky toffee pudding to share, this was absolutely great. Really intense toffee flavour and served in a salty caramel sauce with ice cream. It was spot on, and felt reminiscent of something your gran would make (I’m just guessing here, neither of my grans ever produced a sticky toffee pudding). 

Overall the Lamplighter was a great choice, serving no-fuss, simple and well made food in a really friendly and welcoming environment. The staff really made the meal, the service was impeccable from start to finish and we felt at home the minute we walked in. Definitely give it a try if you want something hearty and home cooked in The Lakes! 

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Top eats of 2016

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog while ironically, I’ve been stuffing my face with delicious food. Hey, it’s Christmas. How was yours?

Everyone has been moaning about what a bad year 2016 was, and yes, it was pretty awful between losing David Bowie, leaving the EU and seeing far more of Boris Johnson on my TV than I would have liked. But in between all of that I’ve been lucky enough to eat some fantastic food, so here’s my incredibly positive round up of 2016 eats. 

1. Slow cooked lamb at Arbutus, London 

This lamb was the star of this beautiful (and surprisingly cheap) pre-theatre meal before Les Mis early this year. It was so succulent and rich, and came with celeriac, lettuce and some kind of mystery powder (no it wasn’t drugs). On writing this I just had a quick Google of them to see what they were currently serving but I’m gutted to discover they have now closed! 

2. The cheese trolley at The Lawns Restaurant, Thornton Hall Hotel

This cheese board was incredible. I’ve never had epoisses like the stuff we found here, it was life changing cheese. Thornton Hall hotel itself was gorgeous, and the rest of this meal in The Lawns Hotel was one of the most elegant dining experiences I’ve ever had. 

3. Black bean, chorizo and sweet potato chilli 

Melty black beans. Soft sweet potato. Spicy chorizo. This was one of my favourite things I made this year after FINALLY finding black beans in a supermarket. If you haven’t made it yet, you need to try this. 

4. Franco Manca, Chiswick

Now this was an excellent pizza. Soft artichokes, crispy chorizo, gorgeous stretchy base. We ate here before seeing living legend and my personal idol, Beyoncé, at Wembley. A delicious lunch and a brilliant day.

5. Eating around Skiathos

What would a round up of the year be without mentioning holiday food? We ate some incredible food this year in Skiathos, including this glorious stifado. Greek food at its best. 

6. Tofu saag style curry  

2016 was very much the year of the curry for me, having not really liked it that much previously. But, tastebuds change! Now I absolutely love making curries, including this tofu version with lots of spinach. Easy, healthy and filling. 

That’s it! 2016 has been a great year for food. What were some of your favourite dishes? 

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A Cup of Christmas with The Kettle Shed

TEA! Who doesn’t love tea? I usually drink several cups of English breakfast during the day, green tea after lunch and camomile or a fruit tea before bed. So when I was asked to review some new teas I jumped at the chance!

The Kettle Shed are an independent tea start up based in London. Their slogan is they ‘give a cup’, every time their tea is sold they donate tea to homeless shelters all over the country. Not only do I love a good play on words but this charitable aspect of the brand is really appealing. 

Anyway, onto the tea! 

I was sent two teas to try from their Christmas range – eggnog and gingerbread. The teabags are little silky ones that are fully biodegradable, but really let you see the different ingredients in the bags. 

First up to try was Eggnog! Eggnog tea? At first I wasn’t so sure, but here it is, all brewed up:

Surpringly it was quite a dark tea, I’m not sure what I’d expected, maybe something yellow! It was actually really nice, a lot nicer than I thought it would be. It really did taste like eggnog, with a delicious almost caramel flavour and strong taste of cinnamon and Christmas spicing. It was definitely a different sort of tea, but I could really imagine myself drinking this curled up by the fire with a mince pie. 

Next up was the Gingerbread tea. Now I’m a really big fan of lemon and ginger tea so I was really excited to try this one. It came in adorable packaging – like a little shed! 

This was also quite a dark brew, with a pleasant gingery taste. The vanilla really brings it into gingerbread territory rather than just a ginger tea. It really tastes very festive and would be great with a big slice of Christmas cake. 

I really enjoyed trying these teas, if you’re into tea I would definitely recommend checking out The Kettle Shed. 

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An Evening of Gin Tasting with Slingsby

I don’t know about anyone else, but my idea of heaven for a Friday night is gin, gin and more gin. I was recently lucky enough to attend a fantastic evening of tasting with independent gin brand, Slingsby.

Slingsby source all their ingredients apart from juniper (which they plan to grow themselves soon) from their base in Harrogate, using botanicals grown in Rudding Park, teas from Taylor’s of Harrogate, and distillation using Harrogate spring water. The gin really does taste excellent, and it’s a lovely story that they are so locally sourced.

The tasting took place at The Faversham in Leeds, which until Friday I thought was very much a student bar but it looks like it’s been recently renovated, and now has a brighter more grown up feel.

The evening started with a classic G&T using Slingsby London Dry, their signature gin. Needless to say, this didn’t last long. You could really tell the quality of the gin, it had a real crisp, fresh taste.

After this, we had the London Dry as a neat taster, coupled with a game terrine with a quince jelly and potato veloute. I didn’t get a picture of the veloute but it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, a super soft creamy potato. The game terrine was so good I had two. The richness of the meat paired perfectly with the gin which really cut through the flavour.

Next up we enjoyed a cocktail of the London Dry, with elderflower liquer, lemon, tonic water and garnished with dill and some black pepper. Herin lies the problem of trying to blog a gin event – getting tipsy and forgetting to take pictures of the actual drinks!!

After this we tried the Navy Strenth gin. Slingsbys explained that it was made at 100% proof (which works out at around 57% ABV), so that if it rolled into the gunpowder on board navy ships, the gunpowder would still be flammable. I’ve honestly never tasted gin so strong, I could barely handle the neat serving. Fortunately this was then served in a ‘Sbagliato Negroni’ , a bit like a negroni but topped off with Prosecco, which made it infinitely more drinkable!

We finished off with my favourite of the night – rhubarb gin! This was absolutely gorgeous, so well balanced in flavour. It was sweet without being overpowering, perfumed without catching in the throat. This was served with dessert which included little balls of apple crumble. The gin went so well with these, it really was like an apple and rhubarb crumble! We then enjoyed a rhubarb gin Bellini style cocktail with a rhubarb Bon Bon at the bottom. So. Good.

It was a great evening, and if you’re a fan of gins looking for something new I’d really recommend trying Slingsby. My only regret is not taking more pictures of the actual cocktails! All of the gins we had were gorgeous though and you could really taste the quality of the botanicals. I’m definitely now a convert to rhubarb gin!

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A taste of Greece: Eating around Skiathos

Yes, I went to Skiathos like almost a month ago. Yes, it’s taken me a month to write this (I’ve been busy, ok??!). So Skiathos is one of the most beautiful places I’ve holidayed (is that even a verb?). If you’re looking for something fairly inexpensive, authentically Greek and NOT full of stag and hen dos, Skiathos is a great choice.

Stay as close to Skiathos Town as you can. The island itself is only 20 miles or so big, so you’re never very far away from anything – but it would be tricky to get into the town at night when the island bus stops running. Skiathos Town itself is a treasure trove of lively little bars and shops spilling out onto streets, and tiny cobbled passages and back ways to explore. Like any Mediterranean city, it wakes up at dusk, offering amazing food, cocktails and gelato until late.

I’m not going to go through every dish we ate but I had some personal highlights below – excuse the photography quality, most of these meals were a bit dimly lit!


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