Monday, April 30, 2012

April Foodie Penpals

Another month and another exciting Foodie Penpals match up! I was sent a parcel by Sarah from One Day I Will See the Sun who thought she would mainly send me a variety of fancy snacks, as I'm always rushing around at work and don't have time to eat much!

Included in this snacky box were loads of different cereal bars including a Keerunch Bar, a Trek Bar, a 9 Bar, a Pulsin' Bar, and some Nakd Bars which I've seen around quite a lot but never tried.

Sarah obviously noticed my love of baking and also included some pink shimmer sugar. Looking forward to making my cakes look super girly and pretty using it!

She also sent me some Roasted Chickpeas from Garbanzo which is great as I really fell for these when we were in Morocco and it's lovely to try some different flavours.

I also got a Raspberry Crumble from Devondale Bakery which I'm saving for a treat to have with a cuppa as it looks really lovely very much like a Streuselkuchen we had in Vienna at Christmas.

Finally there was also a bag of Clotted Cream and Honey Fudge from Radford's Fine Fudge - both Bailey and I were very excited about this and are looking forward to having it as part of an afternoon tea sometime soon. It was very nice to receive something produced in Sarah's local area that we can't get our hands on up here!

What a jam-packed parcel and I loved the Hello Kitty paper that my note was written on - thanks so much Sarah!

My match for this month was Andrea from Made With Pink. I was absolutely stunned by her beautiful blog and beautiful food so tried to make up a box I thought she might like with a mixture of bought items such as some Caramel Callets I picked up when we went to Slattery's and home made treats like Maple Granola and Rocky Road. To see what Andrea thought of my parcel, go to her reveal page on her gorgeous blog here. To check out the rest of this month's Foodie Penpals reveal posts, go here.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pizza Sunday: Courgette, Mint and Halloumi

For today's pizza I thought we could try a combination I've seen around quite a bit lately - courgette and mint with halloumi. We've been very excited about today's Pizza Sunday as we're loving halloumi as always and thought it all sounded lovely together.

Unfortunately, a few too many rums were consumed last night so I'm afraid we firstly forgot to make Marcus' Best Ever pizza base and secondly were feeling the burn a bit today, so the base was from a just add water wholemeal bread mix. Sorry to our foodie readers but sometimes needs must.

Anyway for the toppings, I roasted off some courgette slices and chopped up some halloumi and mint.

I gave the bases a minute in the oven just on their own to start to crisp up a little. I then spread the base with some simple passata mixed with a few herbs and some salt and pepper. 

I popped the toppings on and baked it on my pizza stone at my oven's maximum temperature for about 10 minutes - a bit longer than usual because of the moisture that came off the halloumi. 

The pizzas turned out really nice. The base wasn't too bad and the cooling mint, fresh courgette and salty halloumi were very nice together. I will definitely be having halloumi on pizzas more often. Great stuff. 

Friday, April 27, 2012


Last month we decided to out for a meal with a big group of friends for absolutely no reason, just get out there and have a beer and a nice dinner.  Where to go though?  As we are lazy and we were organising I thought we would go for a restaurant on the Curry Mile.  We had been to quite a few places on the Curry Mile before and we did have a previous favourite but we wanted to try something new.  Luckily I had noticed a pretty persistent trend on Twitter over the past months and that was a long series of people (who we knew were discerning food lovers) banging on about Mughli.

I had previously been put off by Mughli as from the outside it seemed like it might be a bit too modern and had stepped away from the more homely Indian restaurants I was used to, other ventures in to those kinds of places had turned out badly.  

Well I shouldn't have been put off by that slightly shiny exterior because as far as environment and decor goes it was absolutely spot on.  We were lead through the restaurant to our ginormous table which was neatly tucked in to its own boothed area.  The decor is modern but is full of very natural woods and colours which when combined with the slightly subdued lighting makes it an incredibly relaxing place to dine even on a busy Friday night.  The restaurant generally had a great vibe going on, it was busy but no one was rushing, it was lively but nobody was shouting or falling off their chair, it was open but private.

Moving on to the service I have to say that it was also absolutely spot on.  Having worked in restaurants before I know how difficult it can be to strike the right balance with a big table of lively guests.  There was a short delay while we were being seated where we had to wait at the bar but the way it was handled meant we were still relaxed ten minutes later when we were coralled in to our booth area.  Big groups always take a long time to order because they are too busy chatting to look at the menu, they understood this and only swooped in to take the food order when they knew we were ready but offered drinks as soon as we sat down.  When they did take the food order it was done in a lovely friendly manner without taking forever, when there are 20+ guests to serve you can't stop and get everybody's life story.  It might seem like a silly thing to say but I was also confident that I was going to get what I ordered, too many times when a waiter is flustered by a large group it turns into a bit of a food lottery.  The bang on professional but friendly service was replicated again when the plates and plates and plates of food arrived and it was accurately and promptly delivered to the right person with no fuss.  If only other high profile Indian restaurants in Manchester could see how it should be done.

10/10 so far, let's get to the food.  Jules ordered the Mixed Vegetable Sindhi (as it was something she had not tried before but sounded right up her street) along with a Chana Masala side dish and the obligatory plain rice.  

I went for Chicken Jalfrezi with a pilau rice and peter's naan bread (naan drizzled with garlic oil, chilli flakes + fresh coriander).  

While we were waiting for the main course there were plenty of papadums being delivered which tasted fresh and crisp with some really nice pickles and sauces to go with them.  

When the main course arrived we were not disappointed.  My Jalfrezi was the best I had ever eaten, a real hot edge but with bags and bags of flavour.  

Add to that the delicious naan breads which, although not like the usual doughy oversized pillows made out of garlicy bread, were a real treat and didn't leave me feeling over full.  

I must mention the rice as well which is perfect to taste but is served in a small metal pot.  The benefits of this are that the rice really does stay hot even after being on the table sometime.  Overall I must point out that the portion sizes are probably a little smaller than the usual Indian restaurant and normally I am all for big portion sizes but I think the food was so rich and full of flavour that absolutely the correct amount appears in front of you and you don't feel like you have gorged after the event.  Everyone up and down the table that I spoke to said their food was top notch, the only person who was slightly disappointed was Jules as she thought her curry's sauce was a little bit thin and there was slightly too much heat and not quite enough flavour, not a bad meal by any stretch of the imagination but didn't quite match everybody else's experience.

My only regret of the night was not treating myself to one of the cocktails I have heard so much about, again Mughli does not fit with the usual Indian restaurant stereotype of just serving Kingfisher lager and G&Ts for the ladies.  Our good friend Jeni had a virgin mojito and then she had another one so they must be good.  To put it bluntly Mughli is now my favourite Indian restaurant and I want to go back as soon as possible.

Mughli on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sugar Junction

The other weekend, my wonderful friends Fi and Hannah were in Manchester for a limited time only - the afternoon to be precise. They were keen to go for a spot of ladies' lunch and I knew I had to think of somewhere cute.

Having heard excellent things from many sources about Sugar Junction, I had been looking for an excuse to go to this place for ages, and here it was.

We rocked up at lunchtime on a Saturday and I was surprised to see the place was chockablock after having thought to myself moments earlier how quiet Manchester city centre seemed that afternoon. Obviously everyone was indoors enjoying delicious tea and cakes.

So of course the first thing you notice about Sugar Junction is that it isn't only vintage it is actually achingly vintage - with every corner adorned with lovely little old fashioned details. Right up my street of course but would probably annoy the hell out of someone like my friend Steven Doyle.

We pulled up a pew in the corner which actually had the same sofa and armchairs that we used to have in our uni rental house in second year which was a nice trip down memory lane for us. Actually at the time we hated that darned furniture but it looked dead sweet in cosy Sugar Junction.

For drinks, Fi and I both had teas and Han had a mocha. I went for the Chai Tea which I had never tried before and I absolutely loved it and have since bought myself a box. Fi had her usual Earl Grey which she said was really strong even when she asked for some more hot water and didn't actually like it. It was all presented to us in pretty china anyway which of course made us feel even more ladylike than we already are.

For food I knew I had to go for the Macaroni Cheese as I had heard everyone on Twitter banging on about it and it lived up to expectations. I loved the presentation in a gorgeous heart-shaped dish and it tasted lovely - perfectly cooked pasta, super cheesy, amazing crunchy texture of the topping and a great call to have the option of a tomato on top which I of course went for.

Fiona ordered from the specials board - Baked Fennel and Mackerel Salad and she said she loved it. The bit I tried was really delicious.

Hannah went for the Warm Roasted Root Vegetable Salad which Hannah said was nice but I thought it didn't look as good as ours. I did try one of her sweet potatoes and thought it was nicely cooked. Everything was very filling which meant we didn't have space for a slice of cake unfortunately!

We were very happy with our Sugar Junction experience and thought the atmosphere of the place was fabulous. The waitresses were very lovely and seemed like they hadn't a care in the world and weren't rushing around like waitresses normally were and they stopped to have a nice chat with us.

I will definitely be taking Bailey to Sugar Junction so he can try it out for himself, in fact I reckon we should try an afternoon tea sometime. Nice food, lovely place and friendly staff - a great place to spend a relaxed Saturday afternoon.

Sugar Junction on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

7x7 Link Award

We were very honoured when Carol Anne of Foodie Penpals fame nominated us for the 7x7 blog award! 

The rules of this award are as follows:
  • Thank the blogger who bestowed this award upon you and link to their blog. Thank you very much Carol Anne – and here is a link to the nomination page so you can check out her other nominees. 
  • List 7 random facts about yourself. 
  • List 7 of your own blog posts for 7 given categories. 
  • Nominate 7 more bloggers. 
Seven random facts about us: 
  1. We once ate three portions of fish and chips in one day in three different chippies on a trip to Northern Ireland.
  2. When you Google Peru's biggest chain roast chicken restaurant - Pardo's Pollo a la Brasa, a photo of Bailey's hand reaching for a chip is the first images result.
  3. Even though I am usually a strict pescatarian, for the last two years I have gobbled down snails on a school trip to France so the kids can't argue that I'm not joining in the snail tasting evening.
  4. Bailey doesn't like peas, but he does like mushy peas. He also doesn't like sweetcorn, but does like corn on the cob.
  5. The first meal Bailey cooked for me was Sausage and Leek Mash. The first meal I ever cooked for Bailey was Vegetarian Lasagna. 
  6. Bailey once almost choked to death on a giant pretzel.
  7. A holiday we dream of going on is a gastronomic tour of Italy.
Our seven post categories:
  1. Most Beautiful: Raspberry and White Chocolate Cake 
  2. Most Helpful: Tex Mex Feast
  3. Most Popular: Onion Bhajis
  4. Most Controversial: EastZEast 
  5. Most Surprisingly Successful: Baked Bean and Sausage Casserole
  6. Most Underrated: Kyotoya
  7. Most Prideworthy: Christmas Dinner in Vienna
Our 7 nominations for the 7×7 link Award:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


What with breakfast being the most important meal of the day and all, Bails and I are always on the lookout for new ideas for yummy morning treats.

Since lovely Bailey bought me Jamie's Great Britain as a little present, I have to admit haven't made many things despite having spent quite a lot of time admiring its pages. I decided I wanted to try out the 'Light and Spicy Kedgeree' recipe so pencilled it in for one Saturday morning. Then it turned out that Roy would be joining us for brekkie that day anyway - the perfect breakfast guest!

Making the Kedgeree was lots of fun. It did require a fair bit of multi-tasking but I love cooking up a storm on a quiet Saturday morning anyway. I loved the way the kitchen smelt like a deliciously spicy curry house while I was cooking too!

I was very happy with our Kedgeree breakfast. It was delicious and while eating we had a nice chat about the origins of Kedgeree. Roy and Bailey loved it, Roy kept saying how tasty it was and it was really hearty and kept me full most of the day. Although it worked great as a breakfast I would say this could really be eaten at any time of the day.

We will definitely be making Jamie's Kedgeree again, Bailey has had a great idea for how we could make it more posh - by adding some yummy squid to the recipe! Would be delicious. Thanks Jamie!

300g basmati rice
salt and pepper
3 eggs
2 onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 heaped tsp garam massala
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 red chillis
A bunch of coriander
A large fillet of haddock
6 bay leaves
2 lemons
1 tsp turmeric

Cook the rice in a saucepan of salted, boiling water and cook through according to the packet instructions. Put the eggs in to boil in the same pan as the rice too, for about 6 minutes, then drain the water off. Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion and garlic and place in a frying pan over a medium heat.

Add the garam massala, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, ginger, salt and pepper to the pan with the onions. Chop the chillis and the stalks of the coriander add them too. Stir fry for 10 minutes.

Prepare a saucepan with enough water to cover the haddock fillet. Add the bay leaves to the pan of water and poach the haddock for five minutes.

Take the fish out of the water and allow to cool down a bit.

Remove the skin and flake up the fish.

Add the rice into the frying pan with the onions and spices, season and mix well. Add the juice of one and a half lemons and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Roughly chop the coriander. Sprinkle the turmeric and half of the coriander into the pan and add the flaked haddock too.

Cover the Kedgeree for a few minutes while you peel the eggs and cut the rest of the lemon into wedges. Plate the Kedgeree up and top with the boiled egg quarters, the rest of the coriander and the lemon wedges.



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