Saturday, 24 September 2011

Saturday - a rubbish food festival made up by French Onion Soup!

We have both accepted that we are now officially light-weights - last night we had a couple off beers and shared a bottle of wine at dinner, and woke up with hang-overs! In my younger days me and my friends used to have a half bottle of vodka and two cans of redbull before we even went out into Liverpool for night out!

So there was some debate on how we would spend the day, and decided on the Holmfirth Food Festival as we had agreed to see William of Corder there. As great as it was to see William of Corder, the festival wasn't worth travelling to Leeds for as it was a bit of a none event - maybe we have been spoilt with greats events before, but there really wasn't much going on. We did return with some beef stock for Jo's french onion soup and some pork belly to slow cook tomorrow so it wasn't all bad.

Joe and Will
Jo with her lunch
Home made beef stock
 Tonight's soup was really good, and a great way to show off the onions that we had delivered with our veg box on Thursday - recipe to follow tomorrow.....

Friday Night at Cilantro

Last night Joe and I were invited to Cilantro on Moortown corner to try the food and meet the owner, Russell, who is new to twitter and looking to boost his online marketing.

Russel, who is just 35, opened Cilantro in Pickering in 2009, and expanded to Moortown last year.  Of Bangladeshi origin, his aim is to have a "pan Indian" restaurant serving specialities from across the country.  He is trying to modernise Indian cookery, and considering opening the restaurant for tapas at lunchtimes.  Citing Atul Kochhar as a food hero, he wants to experiment and bring something new to the Leeds cookery scene.

Me enjoying the wine as usual (please ignore the slightly odd blue lighting)
Joe enjoying his wine - his last night on the booze until after the Bradford half marathon on 2 October!
The big shining stars at Cilantro are the main courses.  The menu has a few unusual dishes that you wouldn't find in other local Indian eateries, such as lamb with turnip and a masala sauce, or chicken lavender korma (at the Pickering restaurant).

We went for the Andhra Chilli Murgh with chicken, which is described as spiced deep fried chicken in a chilli sauce with curry leaves and mustard seeds.  The fried chicken is cooked down in the sauce so doesn't have the taste or texture of deep fried chicken.  It is marked as medium hot, and was nicely warming.  We also had the "Cilantro Special" which is fresh water king prawns with onions, peppers, coriander and cumin.  This came with big, juicy butterflied prawns and lots of vegetables.  This one is also marked as medium hot, and I asked them to make it more spicy.  I even explained my difficulties in finding sufficiently hot food in Indian restaurants, which seem to anglicise the spicing levels, but I could have had it hotter.  They came with nice pilau rice and freshly made naan bread too.

We also had starters of crab and coriander cakes and lamb chilli tikka which, while nice, didn't match up to the mains.  I am also a little confused as to why they would serve the crab and coriander cakes with mayonnaise as opposed to a raita (which was perfectly nice with the poppadoms).

I'd recommend giving Cilantro a try - they are a relative newcomer to the Leeds Indian dining scene and looking to do something a little different, so deserve some local support.

Poppadoms - which were nice and warm
Dips, which I think were raita, chilli sauce, mango chutney and spiced onions
Crab and coriander cakes (with mayo!) and a little too much red onion for my tastes.  Very nice pickled cucumber accompaniment though.
Lamb chilli tikka which had some nice flavours
Andhra Chilli Murgh Chicken - a good recommendation
Cilantro special with spicy butterflied prawns - yum
naan bread
pilau rice
Our dessert - not entirely sure what this is - possibly pistachio ice cream with cream and syrup.  Probably wouldn't have this again.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Thursday - Riverford Veg Medley with Egg and yesterday's Pesto

It's Mums birthday on Monday so it was late night shopping for me, while Jo had a few drinks on a work night out. I obviously can't say what we have got her, but she may mention it on her blog on Monday.

Also, yesterday I created my sponsorship page for my running, which will be for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation - I am aiming for a £1000 and am on zero at the moment so feel free to put your hand in your pockets for a good cause! here to find it.

Back to the food, Jo whipped up a Veg Medley (made from today's Riverford delivery) topped with an egg and the left-over pesto that I made yesterday.

Ps. This is a quick mention about some of the brilliant work an old friend of mine is doing on the Wirral at Claremont Farm - check it out here

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Wednesday - Home Made Pesto, Bacon and Spinach Trottole

For the past few months, I have been growing basil and flat leaf parsley on the kitchen windowsill. I was debating which one to use for to make pesto, and decided on the classic choice - see yesterdays post for the recipe that I used.  As a rule of thumb, I go for simple (easy!) suppers and tonight was no different....Home Made pesto, Bacon and Spinach Trottole.....was good though!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Tuesday Night Vegetarian Treats

I've had a lovely evening getting engrossed with wedding things, which has become even better with the croque en bouche competition on the Great British Bake Off (my Tuesday night guilty pleasure).  I'm hoping we might have one at the wedding, and bring a little bit of France to Scotland, so will keep you posted..!

Anyways............In my attempt to assist in Joe's marathon training, I've been trying to come up with different, healthy treats to make sure he gets the right balance of food.  Joe used to be one of these people who thought a meal without meat wasn't really a meal at all. It's taken some time but I think he's finally coming round to my way of thinking.

So step up tomatoes stuffed with moroccan quinoa, which was really good actually!  The quinoa, dried fruits and pine nuts were a good substitute for meat and the whole thing was light and tasty, if I do say so myself!

Stuffed tomato with quinoa
The stuffed tomatoes
Joe also decided that he was going to put our home grown basil to good use and make pesto for the first time.  It looked quite hard work with lots of pounding in the mortar and pestle, but the results are pretty impressive and will be for dinner tomorrow or Thursday!  I'm really looking forward to it!

Home grown basil
Grana Padano cheese
The other ingredients, ready to be pounded
Single press olive oil
Gennaro Contaldo's pesto recipe
The finished product

Monday, 19 September 2011

Monday - Cauliflower & Ham Bake

Just a quick one tonight - up to date at last! (Jo was meant to do this but she has gone to bed!!)

Cauliflower & Ham Bake
The red wine

Sunday - 10k Runs and Rib Eye!

If you read this you will know that I manged to rope Jo into doing a 10k run with me. We entered the Hoylake 10k which is in my home town and was  all for these guys so a very good cause....Nick Bro also joined us (much to his despair as he had a cold or something - boo hoo!). After the run at 11am, the plan was to watch the Liverpool game - it was great to see Family Hosny but the match was terrible with a 4 - 0 Spurs win..pah!!

The day started with porridge which Jo (being Scottish) is an expert at making
A pre run shot. As you can see Jo was overjoyed to be involved
I can speak for us all (including Nick Bro) that we enjoyed the run. The weather was pretty good and the wind wasn't too bad considering the seaside location. The official times are not on the website but I think I finished in around 42.40 mins and Jo in around 53 mins which is a great 1st 10k time, with Nick close behind - I don't think I have ever seen anyone so sweaty as him and he borrowed by headphones - YUCK!!!!

We got back to Leeds with a the rib eye from yesterday with us (thanks Mum), so Jo did a perfectly cooked steak with oven baked chips - just what we needed after the days exercise.

Oven baked chips
Perfect for us - rare!!!

All the good stuff
A well deserved beer

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Saturday - Aubergine & House Parties

After a lazy morning, we decided to head into West Kirby for a wander around the shops; we had grander walking plans but the rain led to a re-think! Last week I used the power of twitter to inquire where the best cafe was - West Kirby has a lot of choice in this area, and although Mum thought Sweat Pea was good, I decided on Abergine via twitter recommendation. Over to Jo......

Aubergine is a little tea room/cafe just off the Crescent in West Kirby.  It was doing a roaring lunch trade when we pitched up yesterday afternoon and we snatched the last table.  The room is stocked full of original period features and quirky decorations like knitted cakes and blackboards.  The menu is mainly sandwiches, with some paninis, jacket potatoes and salads.  There are also daily deals, including a soup and sandwich of your choice plus tea or coffee for under six quid.  When we visited one of the specials of the day was a goats cheese and onion marmalade ciabatta with salad, which both Joe and his mum opted for.  I went for a jacket potato with prawn marie rose (justifying it on the basis that I needed carbs for today's 10k - tenuous!!).  We also had coffees and an earl grey tea.

My prawn marie rose was lovely and had big prawns rather than the usual diddy coldwater prawns, although I was a little disappointed as I'm fairly confident that the potato was microwaved, but it was good and ate much more than I should have!  Joe liked the special, although it was very big (I'm not sure you can complain about too much food for £5.95 though!) and the onion marmalade was a little too sweet.  The coffees could be tidied up too, and I don't think the flat white was as described.  Overall it was good fare, and if the service had been a little chirpier we would have been happy. 

We've since found out that two of the chefs were off on Saturday, so they were doing the best they could with smaller resources.  I'd definitely give them another chance as the atmosphere was great and everyone else has said they are great - I wouldn't write Aubergine off yet.

Coffees - a flat white (but not quite) and a cappucino
My earl grey - love the cup and my tea pot was never ending!
Goats cheese and onion marmalade on ciabatta - nice but massive!
Jacket potato and prawn marie rose - with some lovely big prawns
After lunch, we were straight into discussing dinner and decided on rib eye steaks for the 3 of us. In West Kirby there is only one place to go and that's A.I Roberts butchers! - great product and great service. As well as the meat, we bought some local jam that I am looking forward to having for breakfast tomorrow.

Butcher art
Meols strawberry jam

Jo and I then decided to go for a pint at the Plasterers Arms in Hoylake - a great local fisherman's pub with a nice atmosphere and a good selection of drinks.

                             The Plasterers

There we were joined by Shereef and Steph who are great friends of ours. They are aware of our pork pie hunt, and brought me one from a local bakery called Fahys. It was a very nice, but the pork pie wasn't up to the required standard unfortunately - the search continues!....

Shereef with pork pie

We decided that after a big lunch, steak would be too much so Mum made ham sandwiches and home made chips....yum!

Our good friends,  Al and Jess, recently moved house and got engaged so they organised a house party to celebrate (it was also Jess's birthday today so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!). We didn't hang around too long as we had the 10k on Sunday, but when we left the party was getting started and we heard that everyone had a top drawer time.

What I haven't mentioned so far is that Al (and lots of other people it seems!) reads our blog and for Al it is his 'guilty pleasure' - brilliant! When I said I wanted to take a picture of them for the blog they both got a little excited and nervous at the same time -  here they are with some of the canapes that they demanded I take pictures of (its crazy what a little fame can do to people).