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My philosophy

This blog is dedicated to my love of eating, cooking, writing and reading about food. In it you'll find recipes, book reviews, restaurant reviews and various other food related bits and pieces.

Monday, 31 August 2009

And to finish....

Now I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people who can't resist a good bargain- in principle. If I'm in the supermarket and I see something on the reduced counter that I can see some vague use for, then generally, I'll buy it (and deal with the consequences later).
As we all know, these are difficult times, and all over the world people struggle to survive on what little food they have. Yet according to we throw away over 6.7 million tonnes of food, every year- most of which, could have been eaten!

I'm a firm believer in taking responsibility for my own actions. For example, I bought a punnet of peaches at a re
duced price last week. I had to throw two away because they went mouldy, but I chose to economise, rather than waste by salvaging what I could and turning them into something tasty; my Peach and Apple-Berry Crumble.

Peach and Apple-Berry Crumble
For the Filling:
5x Ripe Peaches (peeled, stoned and cut into 1/4s)
2x Apples (peeled, cored and cut into chunks. I used Granny Smiths as they were in the fruit bowl)
A splash of Lemon juice
100g Mixed, frozen berries
50g Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Plain Flour
A good pinch of Ground Cinnamon

For the Topping:
300g Plain Flour
200g Brown sugar
200g Butter (plus extra for greasing)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C or Gas mark 4.
2. Place the Flour and Sugar in a large bowl and combine. Gradually rub in the Butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
2. Place the fruit in a large bowl and with the Sugar, Flour, Lemon juice and Cinnamon. Stir well until the fruit is coated.
3. Butter a large ovenproof dish. Place the fruit mixture into the bottom, and sprinkle on the crumble topping.
4. Bake in the oven for roughly 40 minutes until the crumble is lightly browned and the fruit mixture is bubbling.
5. Serve with custard/ice cream or a good dollop of Clotted cream!

Serves 6

Seafood Medley Risotto

For about a week now, a sad, lonely Chorizo sausage has sat in our fridge, doing nothing but take up valuable space. Well I thought 'tonight's the night.' The Chorizo's destiny to reach the table has finally been realised!
It's pouring with rain outside, and summer is well and truly over. So, I thought I'd bring a touch of sunshine into the kitchen in the form of a Seafood Medley Risotto (featuring the aforementioned Chorizo!).

Seafood Medley Risotto
100g Sliced Chorizo
200g Cooked, mixed seafood
1 Onion, finely chopped
1 Clove of Garlic, crushed
1 Red Pepper, chopped
A few strands of Saffron infused in 750ml hot Chicken stock
225g Risotto Rice
The juice and zest of a Lemon
A pinch of Cayenne Pepper
A good splash of White Wine
2-3 Spring Onions, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Dry fry the Chorizo on a medium heat to release the oils and slightly brown the meat. Carefully remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
2. Add the Onion, Spring Onion, Garlic and Pepper to the pan, cook till golden.
3. Next add the Rice, stirring for about a minute, until the Rice is coated in the oil.
4. Add the Chorizo, Lemon juice & zest, Cayenne Pepper and White Wine.
5. Begin adding the stock, a little at a time until the Rice absorbs it.
6. Keep adding more stock until the Rice is al dente.
7. Now it's time to add the seafood, as this is already cooked, it simply needs warming through.
8. Season to taste, adding more chopped Spring Onion as a garnish if desired.

Serves 4

Saturday, 29 August 2009

And so it continues...

Today has been a weird day. I had an amazing start to the day when my meeting with a local publishing company went exceedingly well, leading to more freelance work. This freelance work will not only give me scope to develop their website, it will also get me the exposure I need as more of my work gets published- finally!
As if that wasn't enough, I sent the director of one of my favourite shows- Supersizers Go... an email at the beginning of the month, and he got back to me today. All I can say is, what a lovely chap! Maybe it's time I stopped being such a negative Nancy and realised that sure, the world can be a tough place, but it's full of nice people willing to help you along the way.

What a week- eh?

Thursday, 27 August 2009

F-ing Hell!

After voting on the F-word website many months ago, for Delifonseca to become Britain's favourite restaurant, I'd heard nothing back and thus assumed the worst.
We may not have won the privilege of sharing a kitchen with Gordon Ramsay himself, but I certainly don't feel like a loser- as I might have tickets to dine in the F-word restaurant! How cool is that?
So not only will I get to meet Gordy himself (if I get through), but I'll actually get to critique food on television!
My plans for world domination continue...

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

You'd have to be clucking mad to eat at Nando's!

I had a vague memory of eating at Nando's some years ago. It was nothing special, just simple, inoffensive food. As of last Sunday, my impressions have certainly changed!
As a bit of a last resort, we decided to grab a bite to eat in Liverpool One's food court. Nando's was the only place still open- so what choice did we have?
The menu read: chicken, chicken, and more chicken! If it wasn't their breasts, it was their livers or their poor wings! Don't get me wrong, I'm an omnivore at heart, but how many innocent chickens
are slaughtered a week just to keep up with the demands or these hardcore chicken fans?!

With the option of having a whole chicken, or even two to myself seeming a bit daunting, I opted for the chicken breast fillet in a pitta with salad and chips on the side- simple!
Now I hate to harp on about chicken, but when I say these people like chicken I mean it! The chips even tasted like they'd been deep fried in chicken fat- not a drop goes to waste here!
To top-off our evening, we had a poultry panto act, in the for
m of our cap wearing waiter. He regularly, seemingly appeared out of nowhere, often startling us with his idle patter- I never thought the phrase "Okey Dokey!" would cause someone to jump out of their skin, but he certainly had a knack!
Between dropping cutlery on us and messing up our beer order, we actually had a really good night!
Must have been the company!
My advice- go and see the
colonel if you want chicken!

Monday, 24 August 2009


I'm currently bombarding people to read my blog and join my facebook and twitter page- I know I'm not that tactful- I'm just passionate about what I do, honest! You'll all reap the rewards when I start dishing out my secret recipes and giving out freebies etc...

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Great news fans!

As of today, you can now follow me on Facebook (click on the banner on the left hand side)and Twitter! Hurray!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

My next conquest...

You may think there's a bit of a pattern emerging here... just to make things perfectly clear, I DO have an undying love of all that is cake!
And with that in mind, I'll be trying my hand at some new recipes in the coming weeks, including Chelsea Buns with oodles of cinnamon, and a bit of history about the Cornish cream tea and other British traditions. So until then, savour the thought and keep on cookin'!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Bistro Franc- 16th August

You know what they say; "better late than never"... well I visited Bistro Franc on Sunday and have only just got round to doing the review today- oops!

Bistro Franc is the third addition to the expanding family of French restaurants in Liverpool City Centre. With the same laid back French vibe seen in Bistro Jacques and Bistro Pierre
tro Franc holds its own, with it's quirky charms and make-shift wine bottle candle holders.
It was on a whim that my partner, my friend and I decided to go to this restaurant, as it had reached the crucial point in our evening out when we would either continue the festivities, or simply go home early.
We knew the outstanding reputation that the locally established duo of French Bistro's held, and were amazed at the incredible Sunday dining deal- 2 Courses plus a bottle of wine per person for only £13.95!- definitely a deal we wanted to take advantage of.
We started with a bottle of house red and perused the menu, so many dishes took my fancy and I reached the crucial decision of having a starter, rather than a pudding (usually unheard of for me!)
I chose the Wood Pigeon and Beetroot Salad, with Hazelnut Oil dressed Salad, as I'd never tried pigeon before. The nutty notes from the slightly overdone bird, complemented the hazelnut oil, as the acidity from the beetroot cut through the richness of the dark, gamy meat. I thoroughly enjoyed
my starter, although it was over in a bite or two!
For our main course, we all liked the look of the Fillet of Beef (which we payed a supplement for) and enquired with our attentive waitress, as to how they cooked the steak i.e was the steak English medium-rare, or French medium-rare. Upon her advice, I decided to have my steaks rare.
And when those three plates of sizzling steaks arrived, we simply couldn't wait for their accompanying vegetables. One bite of this melt-in-the mouth steak was enough to know that this was a fantastic choice of restaurant.
Served in a brandy, pate and mushroom cream sauce, on a crouton, to say this was cooked to perfection would be very cliche, but indeed, it was. The gratin dauphinoise, was garlicky and creamy, the cabbage rich and flavoured with red wine, and the al dente mangetout and carrots
complemented the meal as a light side.
Every mouthful of this meal was a sheer pleasure to eat, as we washed down the final mouthfuls with more wine. Regrettably, I had to pass on the final morsels to my fellow diners, as I couldn't finish it and wouldn't hear of one scrap being wasted!
On a separate note, my partner opted for the cheese board instead of his started and was severely disappointed in what he received- not a Brie de Meaux or indeed any French cheese in sight. So my advice, stick to the desserts- or sort your cheeseboard out!
My overall verdict- BOOK IT!

Bistro Franc
Church House
Hanover Street
L1 3DW
0151 708 9993

I had a hankering...

Yesterday, I decided with today being my day off that I'd go on a picnic. And you can't have a picnic without cakes, right?
Anyway, for some time now, I've fancied a decent chocolate eclair, and have been disappointed at the quality of the shop bought ones. So I decided to make my own...
Having only made choux pastry on one other occasion,
I was a little unsure of myself, but low and behold, they turned out very well! So thank you Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr, for you simple, but very effective recipe!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Saleems's Sweet Centre & Restaurant- 11th August

Saleem's restaurant was established in 1971 (making it one of the oldest Balti restaurants in the area), and is nestled amongst Birmingham's famous Balti Triangle. After surviving the tornado that hit Birmingham back in 2005, Saleem's re-opened its doors in December 05, displaying a modest refurbishment, with their resounding reputation still in-tact.

As we passed by, I couldn't help but gaze in wonder at the window crammed full of various pastel coloured sweets, each one hand crafted in shades of pistachio, orange and rose. Having a prominent sweet tooth, I knew I'd be taking some of these exotic candies home with me.

After being seated, we were presented with individual dishes of sliced onion in chili sauce, which my ravenous partner quickly devoured. Not being a fan of raw onion, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this offering. We then continued with poppadoms with more chili sauce and raita, which I swept up the remaining onion with. The vegetable Pakoras were a delight, the crispiest I'd ever eaten!

Since this was my first experience with a Birmingham Balti, I asked my native guides for a bit of background on the food, and the way it should be eaten. I was told that bread was the way to go, but we decided to have rice on the side as well. Although the service was a little slow, I think we all appreciated the prolonged gap between the starters and the main course- a chance to breathe!

I opted for the Balti Chicken Mix which contained Dall, spinach and mixed vegetables. I also shared some Pilau Rice and Saleem's Special Nan (which I can honestly say, was the nicest nan bread I've ever eaten!)
I asked for my Balti with a medium heat, and it certainly delivered. Packed full of tender meat, colourful vegetables and spices, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal but found myself full a lot quicker than I'd anticipated! (Must have been all that bread!) The rice was lovely and fluffy with a bit of bite to it- just the way I like it, and the nan... let me paint you a picture- imagine a soft, fluffy flat bread cooked in Ghee, so it's got that lovely rich, buttery flavour, with caramelised almonds and coconut, creating a light syrupy topping- divine.

To finish I simply had to try the authentic Indian desserts, (that weren't Kulfi!) We managed to make some room in our already full stomachs, and shared a portion of Rasmalai- which consisted of paneer, soaked in the Southern Asian version of Clotted Cream with Pistachios. And although they were a good palate cleanser after the curry, I didn't make that much of them. The Gulab Jamun however, remains a firm favourite of mine. These sweet succulent balls, made of double cream and flour were served in a sticky syrup flavoured with saffron. Although my fellow diners insisted they were too sweet- I rather liked them!

After having our fill, we left our table of empty Balti dishes, bowls and baskets and went to pay the bill. Remembering to ask about the sweets in the window, I had a conversation with the manager and he cut me off some rather big chunks of the different fudge-like sweets. Luckily one of my party popped their head round the door, and I was able to share these samples, otherwise, I think I might of exploded! Leaving the restaurant with a bag full of goodies, and an insight into the tradition that is, the Birmingham Balti, I can certainly say that I'll be back for more!
So my verdict is BOOK IT!, let them do the washing up!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Famous Birmingham Balti

After dating a Brummy for nearly 5 years, it seems strange that i've never had one of the famous- Birmingham Balti's before, doesn't it?
Well, tonight that's going to change. We're back in Birmingham for a couple of day's and tonight's the night! So stay tuned
for my review!

Friday, 7 August 2009

Holly's Marvellous Mushroom Stroganoff

1x Onion (finely chopped)
3-4 cloves of Garlic (crushed)
A small pot of Double Cream
A punnet of Mushrooms (sliced)
A teaspoon of Mixed Herbs
1x Vegetable stock cube (dissolved in 200ml hot water)
A tablespoon of
Mushroom Ketchup
A small glass of Red Wine
A few drops of Truffle Oil
Salt and Pepper
Sunflower Oil
  1. Start by frying the onion over a moderate heat in about a tablespoon of sunflower oil. When slightly transparent and golden, remove them from the pan.
  2. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, and heat before adding the mushrooms. Again, cook these gently until golden.
  3. Add the garlic, cooked onions, herbs, vegetable stock, red wine and mushroom ketchup.
  4. Reduce the heat and allow this to simmer for roughly 20 minutes.
  5. Once the liquid has reduced sufficiently, add enough cream until the right consistency is achieved. At this point you can add a few drops of the truffle oil.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. When the cream has warmed through in the sauce, then you're ready to serve your sumptuous meal with rice and green beans.

Bon Apetit!

Product of the Month

L'Aquila Truffle Oil Light
This Godsend, known as
Truffle Oil to you and me, can often make the difference between an everyday Risotto and a spectacular one.
This Truffle Oil is infused with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but trust me, it doesn't lose any of its potency and complex, characteristic flavours.
Simply add a few drops to your favourite dish such as Stroganoff, Risotto, Soup or even Bolognese and watch the flavours come alive!

"the diamond of the kitchen" Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

The Triumph of the Truffle
The modern word Truffle originates from the Latin term tuber, meaning 'lump'.
Since Ancient times, people have enjoyed the complex, unrivalled flavour of the truffle. Ancient Egyptians were said to have dipped whole truffles in goose fat and cooked them en papillote. The Ancient Greeks and Romans believed truffles to have therapeutic properties, namely as an aphrodisiac!
The origin of the truffle remained a mystery, during the Middle Ages being thought of as manifestations of the devil. It was only when French Botanist Claude Joseph Geoffroy classified them as a mushroom in 1711 in his paper Vegetation de la truffe, that people began to understand them a bit better.
During his reign, King Louis the 14th was said to rave about this small, knobbly ingredient. So much so, that it came into 'fashion' and has remained in favour ever since.
Since the 17th Century, the most popular means of gathering truffles, has been to use specially trained dogs or pigs. The animal remains on a leash throughout the hunt, and when it settles on a spot, the digger carefully removes the mature truffle, taking care not to disturb the younger, immature truffles. The digger then carefully replaces the earth around the truffles and moves on in the hope of discovering more.
From the 70 different types of black and white truffles found around the world, 32 varieties remain in Europe. The black truffle of Perigord, being the most valuable. Black truffles can be peeled and grated, sliced, lightly cooked and infused. It's not advisable to cook white truffles as their distinct, peppery flavour can be lost in the cooking process.
Truffle Oils- infusion or confusion?
As a modern culinary ingredient, the intention of truffle oil is to impart the flavour and aroma of the truffle into a dish without overpowering it. Some manufacturers choose to use synthetic ingredients to imitate this distinct flavour process, whereas others claim to use truffles or the by-products of truffle harvesting in the production. Some claim that it's impossible to capture the taste of the truffle in an oil. I say, stick to your budget! If you can afford the real thing, go for it, if not, stick to these flavourful infusions- remember it's just a mushroom...right?

Local Stockists
Online Stockists
What you can expect to pay
Anywhere upwards of £3.99, it completely depends on the quality of the Olive Oil and the infusion itself.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Hello, and welcome to my restaurant review blog- with a difference.

Please bear with me as I get this thing up and running and try to get my head around August's review.

In the meantime, expect the unexpected and prepare to be educated and enthralled in all things food related!

To keep you tantalised for the time being, does anyone remember this oddity of a show? Absolutely bizarre! Wonder why it didn't catch on?