Saturday, 13 August 2011

Saturday night in for me and out for Joe

Joe has gone on a real ale Yorkshire pub crawl today with Work Mike and Will, leaving me on my own at home.  I'm hoping he will do a post on it later, but in case he doesn't, they have taken the train to Skipton, and are stopping at every town on the line from Skipton to Leeds to sample some local ales.  Personally, I think it is an elaborate excuse for a piss up, but even that is no bad thing.

Anyway, I have spent the day doing some of my favourite things - food shopping and cleaning (ha)!  But I have made myself some pretty good treats as well.

Lunch was peppers stuffed with cherry tomatoes and topped with bacon which was lovely on a sunny afternoon! It was based on a Simon Hopkinson recipe but slightly adapted as I wanted to go more down the Spanish route.
Roasted peppers stuffed with cherry tomatoes and topped with bacon and basil.  I also roasted a red chilli for 40 minutes which was lovely and sweet with the peppers.

Then tonight I have done breaded turkey and corn on the cob.  I've never done this before, as it's usually Joe's territory, but it turned out really well!  I've also been really nice and done some for Joe when he rolls home drunk later (lucky boy!).  Brief recipe below.
Breaded turkey with corn on the cob and salad (large glass of rose hidden from view).

Breaded Turkey

turkey escalopes, battered to about 1cm thick
fresh basil
teaspoon chilli powder
1 egg
breadcrumbs (japanese if you have them, and if not normal dried breadcrumbs)
oil and butter for frying

Heat the oven to approx 180 degrees.

1.  Batter the turkey with a rolling pin to make it about 1cm flat and even
2.  Mix flour, chopped fresh basil and chilli powder in a bowl with some seasoning.  As always, use the chilli and basil in proportions you like.  You could also swap it for grated parmesan if you fancied.
3.  Beat the egg in a separate bowl, and place the breadcrumbs in a third.
4.  Coat the turkey in the flour mix, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs.
5.  Heat the oil with some butter in a large frying pan.  The butter is not necessary but it does taste better and will turn the breadcrumbs nice and golden.
6.  Fry the turkey on each side for 3-4 minutes.  It should be cooked through, but to make sure, and to crisp up the coating, place in the oven for a further 3-4 minutes.

Mum's blog idea

This is an email that I received this morning from my (Joe's) mum - I keep meaning to put a blog together for her and I'll try this weekend! (after today's real ale pub crawl in Skipton with porkie pies)

"Morning All

I went for a long-ish walk last night (very wet when I got back!) and as I was going up Grange Hill I saw a woman coming down with an armful of sunflowers.  As you would expect, I commented, so......................she gave me five of them!  Apparently she told herself she would do this for the first person to comment on the flowers, how sweet is that!  Maybe I should start a blog called Random Acts of Kindness to counteract mindless acts of violence, much better and there are loads of them I'm sure".

I think it is a great idea!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Friday - Chinese Take Away - Old School Classics

It was a couple of pints post work, then a Chinese take away from Sweet Basil in Roundhay this evening. 

Jo has been against Chinese for a good few years due to some bad experiences, but I am glad I convinced her to try here as it was actually pretty good! The idea was not to eat too much as I am off for a Skipton for  a real ale and pork pie adventure tomorrow.  That didn't quite work out as we have over eaten massively!  Tonight's Chinese was complimented by a bottle of pink champagne which complimented the food perfectly (and impressively was a Christmas gift, which has survived until August (thanks Nic and Audrey!)
Pink champagne - perfect treat after a long week

Over to Jo for the take away review.........

We went to Sweet Basil in Roundhay for dinner years ago.  It was the scene of a very funny but inappropriate debate between me, Joe's mum and his brother so it has always held a special place in my heart.
Sweet Basil on Roundhay Road - worth a visit

It serves both Chinese and Thai food but Joe convinced me to stick with Chinese tonight, for a change.  We started off with crab and sweetcorn soup which was lovely.  Enough for two, glutinous and very tasty. We then had chicken with peanut and chilli hot bean sauce which was awesome (we usually steer clear of bean curd dishes as we are wimps, but this was amazing!) and chicken in sweet and sour sauce.  This caused quite a debate as I was dead against sweet and sour sauce (bad memories from childhood) but this was a pleasant surprise - much lighter and the vegetables were crunchy but well cooked.  Overall, it was a really good alternative to our usual Thai or Indian takeaway, and you get some very satisfying prawn crackers.  Thumbs up Sweet Basil.

Prawn crackers the size of saucers

Crab and sweetcorn soup

Sweet and sour chicken

Peanut and chilli hot bean chicken - words all in the wrong order but really good!
As an addendum to last night's post, the carrot cake was really nice but really moist.  It might have benefitted from squeezing some of the moisture out of the carrots before mixing them in!  I have updated the recipe.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Thursday night's eclectic mix! Curry and Cake

This week it is my turn on my work's baking rota.  Given our "healthy" mission at the moment, I've managed to fool myself into thinking carrot cake is healthy cake.  It does contain a vegetable!  So while Joe was out running (again!) I busied myself making a carrot cake (recipe below) and sprucing up the curry left over from the other day.

We had turkey and lentil curry and a vegetable side of spiced carrots and peas, which was the surprise treat of the meal.  It wasn't meant to be as hot as it was, but I used a chilli kindly donated by Jo (another one, I know), from Joe's work.  She grows them on her allotment which is very impressive and it had an unexected kick!  She has given us some potatoes and green beans, so expect to see them featured over the next few days.

On another note, on Monday 14th August, Joe and I are off to Jamie's Italian for a free night of food and wine.  We get to sample anti pasti and pasta along with some lovely wine, which sounds fab - pictures next week!

Jo from Joe's work's tasty homegrown veg  - thank you!

spruced up curry including coriander grown on the kitchen window sill.
Curry, spiced vegetables and naan.  Perfect for a Thursday!
 Carrot Cake Recipe

250ml sunflower or light olive oil
225g caster sugar
3 eggs
225g self raising flour
grated nutmeg
250g grated carrots  (by the way, 250g carrots is more effort than you think - give yourself some time!)  Also, I'd advise squeezing some of the moisture out of the carrots or you will have quite a squigy cake!
pinch bicarb
pinch baking powder


This recipe has been adapted from one on the channel 4 website (which appears to be aimed at children - probably gives you an idea of my baking prowess!) which you can access here.

1.  Heat your oven to 180 degrees (160 for a fan oven) or equivalent for gas. Grease and line a tin approx 16cm by 26cm.
2.  Put the oil and the caster sugar into a bowl and whisk for a few minutes until well combined.
3.  Add the eggs to that mixture one at a time, whisking in between.  The mixture should notably thicken with each egg.
4.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and nutmeg into the bowl.  The amount of nutmeg will depend on your taste, but avoid putting in too much because it can become overpowering (and a bit nasty).  
5.  Fold in the sifted flour and other ingredients with a metal spoon.
6.  Fold in the grated carrots and make sure everything is combined but don't overmix!
7.  Pour the mixture into the tin and cook for 40 minutes.  It should rise and be nice and golden, and a skewer should come out nice and clean.
8.  Leave to cool for a few minutes, and then remove the cake onto a cooling rack.

When it's cool, ice as you wish.  Lots of people suggest cream cheese icing, or butter icing, but I have gone for lime water icing (lime juice and lime zest with icing sugar, mixed til runny enough to pour).  This is largely because I am rubbish at icing cakes (as demonstrated below), but also because I fancied being a bit old school!

Me grating carrots.  Excuse the expression but I'd been at it for a long time by then.  I think we might need a new grater!

The finished product, which is undervalued by this picture - it looks awesome!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Wednesday night - Fail!

Joe has gone to the cinema tonight with Hunter Pig, and I have just returned home after a very long day so tonight's dinner is undeniably pathetic!  I took inspiration from the treats Joe makes when he doesn't have much time and had fish fingers and a salad.  I'm at least going to tenuously claim that the salad is a salad tartare, as it has capers and gherkins in it!

Fish finger and salad treats - poor effort!

I was also meant to be making a carrot cake for work tomorrow, but it's too late for all that nonsense, so that now has to wait until tomorrow - sorry work people!

Also posting a thank you to Dog Eyes and Sam who spent a few days in Padstow last week and brought us back some yummy olives from Rick Stein's seafood restaurant.  Their trip sounded fab and they gave the seafood restaurant a big thumbs up.

I thought at first they were fishy olives, which sounded a bit weird! But you can sleep easy, they are just in lemon and garlic. Phew!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Tuesday - Curry night!

We both got to leave work a little early today as the Leeds rumour mill was going crazy with rioting in the city center - unsurprisingly nothing happened (not yet anyway!). Instead the hooligans are looting in Manchester and I am pleased to hear they are making their way to Old Trafford (I was make a joke about them heading to Goodison Park and finding nothing, but that would be too easy!)

Anyway, after a 7 mile run I came home to a home-made turkey curry and very nice it was too;

Monday, 8 August 2011

Monday - Back to the healthy stuff

I returned home this evening after a hour or so beating Big Dog at pool, to a dinner of baked salmon, quinoa and vegetables ready and waiting for me - I am well looked after! 
What you can't see is that I had a slice of 'best of both' as I have had no proper carbs all day!!
Big Dog - I won 4-2

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Sunday Afternoon Stark Brooks BBQ Special

This afternoon Joe and I attended a Stark Brooks barbeque at his Managing Director Sally's house in Cheshire.  We had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and ate some tasty barbeque foods, which put ours to shame!  We were treated to steak, spicy sausages, minted lamb burgers, marinated chicken, salmon and prawns, as well as masses of sides.  I think the biggest thumbs up went to the minted lamb burgers, which tasted awesome. 
Barbeque yumminess
Joe's plate, including minted lamb, sausages and chicken - fatty!
A very well stocked booze table - always good!
Some of Joe's work colleagues and partners - that is quite the stare Soraya!
DLT enjoying a chilli hotdog.
Sally MD - thanks for the barbeque! (and to Gron who managed to avoid the pictures!)
There were also some pretty fab desserts - a lemon cheesecake and a black forest chocolate cake.  As usual, Joe and I were a bit hasty in the munching and took the photos half way through.

Lobster Mike eating an entire slice of cheesecake cake in one go - quite a skill!
Work Mike and Soraya - what is he looking at??

Crazy Joe went for another 10k run when we got back to Leeds and had the below for dinner - a smoothie with chocolate protein shake, milk, Wirral blackberries, peanut butter and half a banana - Yuck!!!!

Saturday - Surfers - West Kirby

We decided to go to Surfers in West Kirby for dinner last night.  Joe has been visiting this place for years so it's a bit of a nostalgia fest for him.  

It's a fun little place, that serves steady-away diner type food and at the moment has a set menu with two courses for £12.95.  Having been pretty healthy all week, Joe put the idea of burgers in my head, and there was no way I was going to have anything else!  Everyone plumped for the burgers, which come with a variety of toppings, including chilli, pineapple, cheese, peppers, onions, mushrooms etc.  We also had starters of chicken goujons, calamari and sticky ribs.  The food was good, but nothing to get too excited about.  However, overall, we had a very fun night, and it only cost around £80 for four people to eat and two bottles of wine!

The vino - unfortunately they had run out of all but 2 of the white wines.  I'm sure this is a good sign as they must have been very busy!

Chickek goujons


Awesome sticky ribs - falling off the bone - fantastic!

Joe's burger.  You get a choice of lots of toppings, so Joe went for the more unusual cheese and pineapple option.
"Shy" Auntie Karen.

Sunday Breakfast special - The Spotty Blue Tea Pot - Hoylake

I think this is the first breakfast that we had blogged about, but I wanted to give a mention to The Spotty Blue Tea Pot in Hoylake (click here for info). It is great to see this sort of place on Market Street, as hopefully it is sign of more to come in the area.

We popped in for breakfast - poached egg and a flat white (my new coffee of choice) and Jo had granola, yoghurt and local honey; all well made a great value at £8.60 for the lot.

They use local suppliers which is a big thumbs up!
Some of the spotty blue pottery they sell
Jo perusing the Sunday papers
Our breakfast
We both highly recommend it and next time I am home I will be purchasing a spotty blue mug to add to our eclectic mug selection!