How we planned our Prague trip!

Lazy me , I wrote this post on the bank holiday weekend but didn’t end up uploading it ! But here it is now ! Followed up of course with my Prague and Vienna trip travel adventures !!

Hello everyone ! It’s Monday and we are all waking up feeling very happy that we are not rushing to work ! London has many food festivals happening all over and also the Notting Hill Carnival concludes today.

Hubster and me have just got back from a 3 day highland tour and so am feeling on top of the world. The highlands are simply breathtaking ….But more on that in my Travel posts later, first let me tell you how my girlfriends and I planned a super 3 day getaway to Prague!

A beautiful reminder of our Highland adventure  – many more to come soon – keep reading my travel posts ! Would love to hear your comments too !

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It was my first ever trip to Europe and Jools who writes a travel blog told us one lazy afternoon over a lazy cuppa coffee how she has been wanting to go to Prague for ever. I actually wanted to go to Spain as my first Europe trip but well Prague sounded good too! Muks who is a travel enthusiast was super excited too and just like that we set the plan into motion. Jools being the smart travel blogger that she is found us a brilliant deal with British Airways and we saved a ton of cash by booking our flight tickets and hotel stay with BA.

Next task up was of course getting MP and me a Schengen Visa. Jools had already got her from a trip before and wanted to make the most of the visa. Fab !

So while I started a new job ,Muks and Jools met for coffee again and did all the hard work of planning the itinerary and Muks chalked out a list of all the documents you need to apply for a schengen visa. Here is a quick look on the Czech Republic visa site for documents necessary – please note this list is subject to change and you can get updated information about how to apply for a Schengen Visa for entry into the Czech Republic from the official website here

  • Print out of valid return ticket
  • Proof of stay  – booking details of your stay in Czech Republic
  • Valid travel insurance documents
  • Xerox of your passport front and back
  • Xerox of visa to prove you are legally in the U.K when applying from U.K
  • Proof of employment if valid
  • Employers letter original confirming that you are on their payroll
  • Bank statement of past 3 months or your partners bank statement if you are financially dependant on them

Of course you will need to carry your original passport and visa / BRP card .

For more information for applying for a visa to visit Prague specifically visit the tourist information website here – they have a fabulous and helpful section with names of places where you can do currency exchange at sensible exchange rates while in Prague .

Jools meanwhile had a brainwave (expected!) and we decided to throw in a day trip to Vienna on Day 2 of our 3 day trip. Brilliant idea I must admit and again she found us a cracking deal with a travel company based in Prague.So a one day road trip to Vienna was planned too.

Now all that remained was for us to get the visa! Which arrived in 5 days promptly – cool or what?! But it was a nervous wait espp for Muks as she is stickler for rules and timelines whereas I am …aheam NOT really the kind that would sweat over things much! hehehe

Muks did tons of research and spent hours online and finally the Czech embassy wrote back to her confirming that on a single entry schengen visa we are allowed to travel within schengen states. Muks and my very skeptical OH breathed a sigh of relief that at the Vienna border control we would face no trouble . All this while Jools was confident we could travel to Vienna too and after reading the email , we had a smug ‘told you so’ attitude which probably irked my OH a bit…but hey a hard core travel blogger and a food blogger who has been bitten by wanderlust both can’t go wrong can they ?

All that remained was to pack our bags, with daytime temperatures of 27 ° C predicted we had sun-tan on the top of our lists !

Wahooooo!!!

Stay tuned to my travel blog post series to find out what happened in Prague and on our exciting one day trip to Vienna! What we saw ( or didn’t manage to cram into our packed sightseeing schedule !) and the exciting Czech food we ate – Schnitzels – yes ! :)

L – R – Moi , Jools and Muks with the Astronomical Clock in the busiest square in the old town – when I first laid my eyes on this magical clock I fell in love with this city of cobbled lanes and  historic monuments … it’s as if every brick had a story to tell… am sure they do actually … if only one could care to ask …

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Radha Krishna Bhavan – Tooting , a review

On a dreary Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago after my weekly Indian shop form Dadu’s at Tooting, not feeling particularly in the mood to cook , we walked into Radha Krishna Bhavan for an early lunch . The place was open and barring one table we could pick and choose where to sit , unusual for a Saturday afternoon , little did I know that minutes later the place would be buzzing with activity.

 

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This is a sea food lovers heaven with authentic ,well balanced south Indian cuisine. We ordered a starter of spicy Vadas – flat, fried lentil dough spiced with green chillies and onion , this was crunchy and delicious and just the thing needed on a boring Saturday afternoon when the weather was playing traunt ! (£2.95)

 

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The first thing I noticed was the many sticker on the glass outside with various ratings from the Good Food Guide, Square Meal etc  and a bright yellow mini menu saying ”3 courses for just £5.95′ ! Super ! That definitely drew us in.

 

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But we decided to go a la Carte and ordered for some Kerala Fried Rice (£4.50)and Kerala Fish curry (£7.50) .The fish curry was yum but the portion size was a bit small to share , same with the rice and we found the rice had more than a generous use of oil but it was delicious all the same.

 

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Hungry for more we decided to experiment with some Vellappam – a pancake made of fermented rice with ground coconut and coconut milk with a  lacy egg like appearance . These were light yet  filling and 2 panckakes per dish came with the curry at a combined price (£7.95 ) .The pancakes were mopped up with the accompanying  curry –  a spicy King Fish Malabar.

 

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With no room left for dessert after this we decided to skip and just get ice lollies on our way home ;)

 

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I’d definitely recommend you visit Radha Krishna Bhavan if you are looking for delicious and authentic  flavours of South India at budget rates in a clean , welcoming atmosphere with quick service head (opposite Sainsburys on Tooting High Street)

 

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*This review was written by me of my own accord . I bore the expense of this meal. All views  expressed as always are my own and no monetary compensation of any sort by provided to me by either the restaurant or any other third party.All opinions expressed are valid for this particular visit .

Square Meal Bloggers Meet at Boyds Brasserie

Square Meal is one of the review websites that I post my reviews too and they invited me for a lovely afternoon tea with other blogger reviewers to the very posh Boyds Brasserie at Trafalgar Square , in July .

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That day I was under the grips of a massive , massive Hayfever attack (which went on to develop into a full blown pollen induced chest infection – who knew an innocent bunch of flowers could do something so evil !?!)  and therefore starting the evening with several cups of warm tea was just what I needed ! In spite of it being a really warm evening I enjoyed cradling my hot cuppa and chatting up the other bloggers. Boyds also had a very special treat for us – Brut Ruinart Rose Champagne – I had to unwillingky refuse though …

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The potted shrimp was silky and luxurious and was polished off in no time.

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We had a selection of lovely sandwiches made with soft bread and they went down a treat .

  • Salted Beef, Pickled Cucumber, Dijon on Brown Bread
  • Egg Mayonnaise & Watercress on White Bread
  • Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Dill on Brown Bread

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The scones served with strawberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream were next and Susan told us about the ‘Scone Test’ , apparently if you twist your scone and breaks away in half without much fuss , it has been made well and is fresh too ! So we all spent the next few minutes trying to ‘break’ our scones , twisting our faces into weird construed frowns and scaring the staff in general ;)

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That is Emily putting her scones to the test ! 

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I gave up after a while resigning to the fact that trying not to die of Hayfever was already too much work for me. I decided to also focus on the other sweet treats that came with the warm scones  – Fruit Cakes, Mini Chocolate Eclairs , Lemon Drizzle Cake, Lemon Curd  and the very tempting Mini Strawberry Tarts.

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It was one of those blogger meets where all the bloggers who came were really were friendly and conversation flowed easily . Each one followed the others on twitter and instagram and on other vitual spaces all this while sharing our foodie adventures.

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L R – : @MyDailyDose8 ,Ele – @cakeoverworld and Snita – @herfavfood

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Far Right : @Mitzie8cake

I quite agree with what the Food & Drink Guide 2014 has to say about the  Boyds Brasserie :

‘Unashamedly British, Boyds delivers quality food and service in opulent surroundings, with a nod to its Victorian heritage, but with none of the stuffiness that might imply. After just one visit to the buzzy bar, glamorous lounge and relaxed modern restaurant, I can promise you’ll fall in love and become a regular guest of this superb restaurant.’

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No wonder then that they have just won the OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award for the third time in four months!

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Last but definitely not the least came these cute mini ice creams – I didn’t dare try one though…took all of me to stop myself from devouring these treats !

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By the time we left the sun had set on London and there was a pleasant much needed breeze waiting to greet me as I stepped out in the chaos before being swallowed up by the evening crowds heading into the tubes , everyone in a rush to get home .

I kept smiling to myself seeing the voucher in our goody bag with an invitation for a dinner for two at the Boyds Brasserie .

*With  thanks to  Square Meal for the invite and to Boyds Brasserie for hosting us. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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Vegetarian Sausage Satay

Wait a bit ? Did you read that right? Absolutely yes ! Vegetarian Sausages are exactly what I have used in this fab recipe sent by my sister who turned vegetarian a few years ago. She doesn’t even consume eggs.  I am far from becoming a vegetarian but love to experiment with lighter options and so was delighted to receive some samples from Secret Sausages which I had sampled first  at FBC 2014 a few months ago and  I recollect  really liking  the the flavours.

I was sent 3 different flavours to experiment with:

  • Rosemary & Garlic – Garlic , Green Beans,Mixed Peppers and Rosemary
  • Honey Bee – Sweet Corn , carrots, peas and honey
  • Chilli and Coriander – Chillies , coriander , onion , sweet corn and carrots

 

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This recipe can be used with the sausages chopped and served as a starter or else as a main with sides like potato or sweet potato mash and green peas .

Serves: 2 as a main with a side of mash and peas

Ingredients  – enough for 2 packets with 6 sausages each

  • groundnut powder – 5 heaped tbsp
  • Garlic purée
  • Green Chillies – 3
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander or one large packet from the supermarket
  • Oil 3 tbsp
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Red onions – 2 large
  • Tomato – 1 medium sized

 

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Method 

  • In a dry sauce on a low flame heat 1 tbsp oil and add the chopped green chillies and garlic purée.
  • Then add the  the groundnuts powder and roast this mixture for about 2 minutes , stirring continuously ensuring it does not burn.
  • Turn off the flame and add freshly ,finely chopped coriander leaves, salt , sugar and lemon juice.

 

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  • Allow this mixture to cool down and then coat the sausage with skin with the mixture thoroughly.

 

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  • Refrigerate the marinated sausages for an hour.
  • Before you remove the marinated sausages from the refrigerator make the onion and tomato mixture.
  • Chop the onion into long thinstrips.
  • Heat 2 heaped tbsp oil in the same saucepan and sauté till they caramelise.
  • Add the chopped tomato and sauté for another minute.
  • Then remove the marinated sausages from the refrigerator and saute on a griddle pan with very little oil sprinkled onto it.

 

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  • Mix the sausages  in the onion – tomato mixture.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes and green peas as sides.

 

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Why not try my recipe for a fabulous Meatless Monday meal ?

*With  thanks to Secret Sausages  for the samples. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

London’s Hottest Food Trends with Loyd Grossman

Excited to know that I would be introduced to Londons Hottest food trends at an ”Evening of flavour” I made my way to the Underground Cookery School –   @cookinglesson . I love going to events hosted at this venue and I seem to have developed a great comfort level with the warm staff who always make our evenings special.

 

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The mention of Loyd Grossman sauces – @LoydFood #GetFlavour- brings to mind their telly ad showing  the man himself as a young boy keen savouring food seasoned with sauces made by him and that always comes back to when I see the bottles on supermarket shelves, as it did when I saw a huge table full of various jars and sachets of  their cooking sauces .

Cru Coffee aka Cru Kafe –   @crukafe , helped set the mood for the evening with their rather nice looking coffee based cocktails and many of the bloggers even tried their hand at mixing some of the cocktails , but I was already under the grips of a massive hay fever attack around that time and steered clear of the cocktail counter, although I must admit it took all of me to not steal a sip or two off my friends glass – darned Hayfever …. few months of sunshine with an opportunity to drink cold beer and eat plenty of ice cream and this mad Hayfever keeps me away from all of it …

Predicting food trends is probably as or even more difficult than predicting who stocks will rise or fall in the stock market ,but The Food People @thefoodpeople  – seem to have it all figured out and they shared some of their research with us foodies that evening.Their research also takes into consideration what the twitterati and food bloggers talk about,and is an indication of the future of food blogging in a way me thinks..

A staggering 37000 food outlets cater to London’s hungry tummies alone, which is quite a number,one that makes one wonder what tricks one would need to have up their sleeves in order to survive and stand out from the crowd?! So what exactly are the Hottest Food Trends that will dominate  London city ,and rule the cities taste buds?

The folks at The Food People shared  :

  • Burgers ,fries and all things American are here to stay including the rather fantastic cronut! ( Cronuts,Duffins and now Crodough – what WILL people come up with next ?!) (I had a huge craving for sinking my teeth into a juicy burger with smoky crispy bacon yesterday and I did just that by cajoling my colleagues – they didn’t need much coaxing really ,  to go to our fav high street burger haunt – I guess that says a lot about how trends affect our choices huh? )
  • The magic of Mediterranean cuisine is not going to fade anytime soon, so lovers of Greek and Lebanese food – rejoice!
  • Mash – ups ( think ”Ramen burgers” (!!) and ”Nacho lasagne” ) are hot right now too, classic meets new age mantra in a savoury war with gastronomically pleasing results – who can complain?

Top Trending styles are :

  • Small plate or tapas style dining with loads of opportunity to sample various dishes and have sharing platters doing the rounds. I can safely say I like the sound of this trend the most.( I spent yesterday evening at an authentic Spanish tapas bar and I can easily say that it is something I enjoyed thoroughly and my opinion is no way skewed by nature of having consumed over 6 glasses of the most delicious Sangria I’ve ever had!)
  • Meaty, smoky, spicy and moorish – no not the only BBQ  food just plain and simple ”Dude Food” has charmed not just the dudes !

The flavour trending  in 2014 is CHILLI – whether fiery or  sweet, Chilli that is the STAR of the trend wagon! Now that one made me smile! ( I love using chillies in my cooking, think it has to do with how we prepare and relish our food back in India ,where chilli powder has a place of prominence in our beautiful round spice boxes which are a must in every Indian kitchen. So enamoured am I that even though I have very less space in my kicthen the size of a postage stamp , I still went ahead and  purchased 2 small potted chilli plants one with bright yellow chillies and one with with deep aubergine coloured ones to keep on my kitchen window sill. They taste so good, promise to have them feature in my recipe posts soon! )

Future Trending cuisines are going to be Persian ( fresh,light and plenty of choice for vegetarians! ) , Israeli ( Lucky me I have an autographed copy of Ottolenghi’s book ,thanks to FBC this year!) and Greek ( Not the heavy ,oily stuff that been churned out but the beautiful,authentic flavours that feel like summer on your plate!)

 

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John Quilter also known as the ‘Food Busker’ – @JohnQuilter – then went on to cook some brilliant fusion food for us using Loyd Grossman cooking sauces , all the while entertaining us and telling us how he has added his own imaginative touch to all the dishes based on the food trends.This fusion of food and format came onto our plates as :

Lobster Thermidor with juicy ,buttery lobster in a cheesy pot with a small amount of samphire for that salty taste of the sea.

Korean Fried Chicken topped in a thin ,drippy batter infused with vodka which lends a fabulously crisp quality to the coating ,so unlike thick bulky batters that we see otherwise.These were topped with ribbons of crunchy spring onion which were dipped in ice cold water to give it a sharp crispy edge.These vanished off the plates as they were passed around , I lost count of how many wings I gobbled that evening ;)

 

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We also had Sashimi, Iberico Schnitzel and oxtail sliders. All finished by a show stopping Panacotta with just the right wobble beautiful vanilla specks all over with a side of peaches smothered in amaretto and a crumbly sprinkling of buttery crushed biscuits.

 

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So Londoners , those food trends should keep up in the know of how the food scene in our vibrant ,multi-cultural melting pot will be tickling our taste buds. Thanks to the ‘Food Busker’ we relished food that has yet to hit city restaurant menus created using the well researched and flavourful sauces from Loyd Grossman. So next time you are in a mood for a culinary adventure and shudder at the thought of cooking from scratch ,confidently reach out for a jar of one of these sauces knowing that it can create something as brilliant as the Korean Fried Chicken! ( Need an easy recipe to make some yourself this long weekend? Give me a shout in the comments below and will send you the recipe that was shared with us ,in a flash !)

Check out what Helen had to say about the event go here here.

Disclaimer: With Thanks to Loyd Grossman Sauces for a fabulous ‘ evening of flavour’ with the Food Busker – John Quilter. Many thanks to Cru Coffee and the efficient team at Underground Cookery School.

 

Creamy Oatly Oat Cream Pasta with crunchy green Salad

I remember tasting Oatly for the first time at FBC earlier this year  ,it was a very pleasant taste,the chocolate one even better. All of us at Food Blogger connect this year got a generous bag of Oatly products to take home. The ‘milk’ went used up pretty quickly so I went and got us some more but the Organic Creamy Oat,basically a single cream, I was waiting to experiment with. Since the product is bursting with the goodness of all things organic and is dairy free I thought why not keep everything about this pasta gluten and dairy free . So I got some Lactofree mature cheddar cheese and also some pasta which is made from Italian rice and corn therefore making it dairy and gluten free. Oatly cream uses organic rapeseed oil so my cooking medium is …you guessed that right organic rapeseed oil! And since the cream also contains sea salt as one of the ingredients I have used my trusty smoked Maldon sea salt in here too :)

This pasta dish can’t get any better can it? Ok wait till you hear what OatLy Creamy Oat is all about…It’s made in Sweden using entirely organic ingredients. The fat content is absurdly low 3% over 9.6% in regular cream.Besides it tastes like cream made from cow’s milk and is packed with fibers.

Ingredients – For the pasta

  • Dairy and Gluten free fusilli Pasta 150 gm
  • Smoked Bacon 200gm
  • 1/2 of a 250 ml tetra pack OatLy cream
  • a bunch of spring onions
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic with their skins on
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs 1 each
  • a pinch red chilli flakes
  • Maldon sea salt to taste

 

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Method –  For the pasta

  • Boil the pasta in a saucepan with some rapeseed oil and allow it to cook completely.Sprinkle some sea salt into the water while it is boiling.
  • While the pasta is boiling get started with preparing the sauce. Chop the spring onion into bite size pieces.
  • In another saucepan add 1 tbsp olive oil and place on a medium heat ,when the oil is hot ,crush the garlic with the skin on and add into the hot oil.
  • Allow the garlic to brown and then add the spring onion, when the onion begins to change colour add the bacon pieces and reduce the flame.

 

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  • Let the bacon cook for about 5 minutes  till it turns crisp and yummy while stirring occasionally till ensuring it doesn’t get burnt.

 

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  •  Reduce the flame and then pour the Oatly oat cream into the bacon mixture and add a sprig each of thyme and rosemary.
  • Cover the sauce pan and allow to cook for about 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add freshly crushed black pepper and sea salt to taste and some chilli flakes.
  • In a plate add the cooked pasta after draining excess water and pour the bacon and cream mixture over the top.

The oat cream will give you a  thick creamy sauce and the smoked bacon adds deep,rich flavours to this pasta dish.Its great for those who are lactose intolerant or those simply looking for a switch .Add some grated lacto free cheese for a truly cheesy and deliciously satisfying pasta carbonara.I know this dish isn’t vegan because of the bacon so if you want to make a vegan version using smoked paprika breadcrumbs for the texture and smoky taste ,also to replace eggs and go vegan use  soft tofu puree . I have skipped using eggs and honestly I didn’t miss them at all in the sauce. So its not really a carbonara but yes it’s just as silky and creamy and smoky and yummalicious ! :)

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Ingredients – For the salad

  • 1 medium sized white onion
  • 8 juicy cherry tomatoes
  • 8 chestnut mushrooms
  • 1/2 a bag of crunchy mixed salad leaves
  • 8 stems of tender purple asparagus
  • 8 stems of tender purple broccoli
  • Cranberry flavoured vinegar
  • 1 tsp rapeseed oil
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Maldon smoked sea salt to taste

Method –  For the salad

  • Chop the tender stem purple asparagus roughly into bite size pieces keeping the spear head intact , do the same with tender stem purple broccoli. I loved the colour so I picked purple, its absolutely fine to go with the regular green stuff but the colours in this finished salad are so vibrant! Set aside and move onto the mushrooms and onion now.
  • Chop the mushrooms into bite sized pieces ,then chop the onion in half and then slice it fine lengthwise
  • In a saucepan heat the olive oil.
  • Saute the garlic with skin on in the hot oil and when it turns brown add the mushrooms in .Let them cook for about 1/2 a  minute.
  •  Add the onion,asparagus and broccoli  into the saucepan and stir for about 1  minute on a low flame we don’t want the greens and the onion to cook and loose the crunch and bite , just give them a bit of flavour so they sit well with the leaves.
  • Take the saucepan off the bowl and allow to cool.

 

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  • In a salad bowl was and add the salad leaves , give them a good slosh of cranberry vinegar,sea salt and cracked black pepper and give them a good ol’ shake so that the vinegar coats the leaves well.
  • Place the green and onion over the salad leaves and throw in some juicy red cherry tomatoes on a vine or salad tomatoes into the salad. Give another sprinkling of Maldon sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • If you want to bulk up this salad add 2 boiled eggs halved on top and serve with a cheesy bread or focaccia as a side with a creamy mushroom or chicken soup for a wholesome but light and healthy meal option! Keep the bukled up version of this salad vegan , again by replacing boiled eggs with fresh large chunks of tofu.
  • This salad is bursting with goodness and packs in a great punch of flavour with the cranberry flavoured vinegar and the meaty mushrooms and crunchy tender stem asparagus  and broccoli feel so lush together when you bite into them ummmmm

 

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I am quite happy with the end result of this pasta and have another 250 ml tetra pack of Otaly CReamy Oat to experiment …wonder what will come out of that lovely little pack , now where is my thinking cap ?!

 

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Dead Easy Desserts – 30 minutes or less – August’2014

Hello Everyone! I know I have been MIA for a while but just been attacked by a terrible tummy bug amongst other things…

But am over that now and can’t wait to get back to sharing some great recipes .But before that I have some exciting news! I will be hosting Dead Easy Desserts for Sarah of Maison Cupcake for August .AND there is a theme this time around , yes a theme, ! Last month the theme was Raspberries .

To me nothing screams summer like Strawberries do right?So the theme for August 2014 is STRAWBERRY

So put on your thinking caps and get creative in the kitchen!

Errrm… just need to rattle off a few rules , don’t worry nothing scary just a few steps to bear in mind which will make life easier for all of us.

Dead Easy Desserts – 30 minutes or less – August 2014  – Theme Strawberries

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How to enter your blog post into Dead Easy Desserts:

  • Blog any dead easy dessert, pudding BASICALLY anything sweet , all you need to do is ensure it can be whisked up in well 30 minutes!
  • Dead Easy Desserts runs from 1st Aug  to 29th Aug with full round ups of all entrants who have mentioned the challenge in their published post.
  • Short cuts and cook ahead elements are actively encouraged i.e. using sauces, frozen fruit, left over bits and pieces as a component. So long as assembling/the bit where you actually cook it takes under 30 minutes that’s fine. Chilling/setting time need not be included within the 30 minutes.
  • Add the URL of your post to the linky below. This a blog hop so feel free to add the code to your own post so your readers can admire the entries received so far.
  • Please be mindful of copyright, we don’t mind if you’ve adapted something from elsewhere or you made it from scratch. But if you submit something found online or in a book, just tell us where you found it rather than tapping it all out in your post.
  • I don’t mind you submitting your entry elsewhere to other challenges but please be mindful of other events’ rules.
  • We will try to retweet any posts using #deadeasydesserts that @ mention @maisoncupcake and @manjirichitnis BOTH.

Thats all! There is a linky at the bottom of this post but if there is a gremlin in the system and you are not able to link ,please drop me an email with your entry at fruitsnveg@yahoo.com

Now that we have the nitty-gritty out of the way how about some inspiration ? Have a look at the yummy entries in last month Dead Easy Desserts on Sarah’s blog Maison Cupcake with the theme Raspberries ummmm don’t you just love the pop pink- red colour of those delicate summer berries just waiting to be eaten !

Dead Easy Desserts – 30 minutes or less – July 2014 Round Up – Theme Raspberries

Wonderful quick & easy French Summer Dessert :le vacherin glace’ by Croque Maman blog

 

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No Bake Raspberry Cheesecake mousse by Family Friends Food Blog

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Sweet Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Quickie Raspberry Chia Jam by TasteSpace blog

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Triple Berry Parfait with Cashew Cream by Style Nectar blog

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Lemon Bavarois with Raspberry Syrup by Style Nectar blog

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And last but not the least this No Churn dairy free vegan raspberry ice cream by Sarah of Maison Cupcakes who created the #deadeasydesserts challenge.

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Uni brings Nikkei Cuisine to Victoria

The largest Japanese settlement outside of Japan is in Peru and the unique fusion cuisine that is Japanese Peruvian is called Nikkei.Fiona invited me to accompany this time to discover Nikkei , she is an award-winning freelance writer and marketing consultant who currently writes about travel and London lifestyle for a number of publications and runs her own London lifestyle blog called London Unattached.

So it was a bright summer Monday afternoon that I trooped in Uni (the Japanese word for the sea urchin, a Japanese delicacy) restaurant and sushi bar designed by Andrew Martin, in Belgravia minutes away from the travel hub that is Victoria station.

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I was shown to a cosy table downstairs.

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For starters I got some steamed edamame with a spicy chilli and garlic sauce (£4.50) and some refreshing green tea served in a typical cast iron heavy pot which I would love to have as part of my growing food prop collection which now occupies every corner or of our tiny rental flat much to the chagrin of my hubby – I guess the last straw was trying to pass off a very heavy cast iron pot as a ‘place to keep his usb drives and wire hehehee

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I had happily managed to forget my phone at home and therefore Fiona tried in vain to inform me of her delayed train. Blissfully unaware of this I sipped my tea and munched my edamame all the time trying to ignore some stuffy banker type folks on the table next to me talking shop – how boring…

So when Fiona arrived she managed to move us to a bigger table away from the ‘big boy talk’ as she aptly called it and onto a table where I could dump my bags and lay my camera lens and other paraphernalia – I do not travel light …

To make life easier we chose to have bento boxes for our mains and mine came with the udon noodle and fish cake soup while Fiona had a light Miso soup. I was feeling ravenous by the time the soup arrived and devoured it in a flash! (£24.5 per bento box – comes with soups, salad, sushi, & maki, main dish, side, rice and dessert)

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Nabe Udon  – Noodle and Fishcake Soup with Prawn Tempura.

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Beautifully light Miso Soup

My Bento box had Kaiso Wakame  – seaweed salad ,prawn and carrot tempura, main of duck tataki – seared duck breast finely sliced and dressed with mirin and soy, fried rice and sashimi selection. The duck tataki was deliciously morish, I also loved the seaweed salad and the sticky fried rice with the sashimi was very filling.

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Fionas bento box came with steamed rice and anticucho sauce  black cod and was very appetising , to read in her own words read her review of our lunch at Uni here.

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We washed down our Bento lunch boxes with some chilled sake.

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The very polite manager came and urged us to experiment with some of the Nikkei range from the menu and we were served two stunning dishes.

Tiraditos of Yellowtail with kizami wasabi,Yuzu and fresh mint presented in a creative and stunning display, it was delightfully fresh, sharp in taste with a delicate balance of colour and flavour. (£15.5)

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Wildly beautiful looking salmon tartare tacos with cucumber,tomato,masago and creamy miso were crunchy and melt in your mouth creamy all at one once exploding with a light flavour in every bite – delicious! (£6)

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Stuffed to the gills now I had to walk around click a few pictures and allow for some space to be created in my tummy to fit in some dessert ;)

To my amusement the very attentive young lady on the staff showed us how the colourful lamp shade were made from bottle of campari that could be detached and well glugged , given it was a hot summer afternoon I think it was a great idea that Fiona ordered us some Pisco Sour shots instead ;).Never having tasted these before I downed them in one go much to my own peril, the sake already in my system the shot gave me quite the buzz!

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Thankfully my cooling Matcha Gelato worked wonders and cooled me down several degrees -phew!

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Fiona managed to stay light with desserts too with a selection of fresh fruit.

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The creation of former Nobu chef Rolando Ongcoy, the menu at UNI offers a good selection of grilled meats ,fish, sushi,sashimi, selection of tempura and maki. The Peruvian influence is prevalent throughout UNI’s menu, ceviche and tiraditos peruano included.

The bar area upstairs also has plenty of seating on high stools and around the bar, perfect for knocking down Peruvian fav’s like the pisco sours or coconut-based Chilli Mojito.

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Victoria being a very office space kind of area is lucky to have Uni in its midst now, with bite sized healthier meal options ,seven- dish bento boxes for short lunch hours are on offer at a price of course. So the big banker boys and girls can have their financial pow-wow meets in the fancy cubicles or basement vaults if you please which can seat about 10 – 12 people, and if the huge ice buckets with bottles of chilled Moet and the power talk we overheard from the table next to us are anything to go by then Uni is already a haunt for these suited and well heeled office folks!

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  • Website:Uni
  • Opening Times: is open for lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday inclusive

*With  thanks to Uni for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Uni on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Dinner at The Brasserie , Tower Guoman – a review

On the day of the Mens Singles Final when Djokovic won  the match against Roger Federer ,I had an invite to go dine with a few fellow bloggers at The Brasserie at the Tower Guoman. I must admit the match was so engaging that I was glued to the tv and only in the game that I was just to nervous to watch so I dragged myself out and kept pestering a dear friend of mine in whatsapp till she gave me updates of almost every move on the court …. I was hoping that Djokovic would win and also hoping that the match would end before I hopped onto the tube and lost network… Lets just say that all invisible divine forces were with Djokovic ( and me )that day coupled with his awesome performance, just as I was about to get into the tube… there it was..,… message I was hoping to see on whatsapp…. ‘He won’… which led to a very comical impromptu gig on the staircase by me watched by bemused passers by…heck a good win deserves a dance ..at least ! Bonus points to all those who also watched this match to oogle at Boris Becker …teehee

After that I needed a refreshing drink and just as I was settling in the beautiful area  just outside the Guoman, an open air bar  and siping my cocktail gazing up the Tower Bridge was perfect. Chilled Prosecco, Cocktails and Mocktails flowed while we chatted up with the manager who also had dinner with us later .Meeting my friends after Food Blogger Connect was fun and camera lens choices, food photography ,the Wimbledon final results and the stunning view dominated our conversation. Before long the rain decided to play spoil sport and we were ushered inside to our huge table at The Brasserie.

I took the seat the far end of the end but the view from any where inside is just as brilliant , it’s the first time I was so close to the Tower Bridge and you can be guaranteed you will have the best seats in town at The Brasserie with superb views of Butlers wharf thrown in.

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The table was neatly laid out with our special menu for the evening there and fresh bread , warm and just out of the oven with 3 different dips arrived.

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Our rustic bread selection with truffle oil and olive oil.

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To go with our Rustic Bread selection we had the smoked paprika dip – the bright orange one and my fav of the 3, one with chives in the middle and a plain one which I found a tad too salty.

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I choose to have the Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart to start off my meal with – it sounded very appetising – Tomato olive salsa,balsamic reduction,pine nut,sekura cress – hummm yes please.

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The thin crisp  pastry base was not one bit soggy or eggy, the grilled Manchego cheese ( a cheese made in the La Mancha region of Spain from the milk of sheep of the manchega breed) tasted great in combination with summery veggies like asparagus and grilled peppers and the salsa was very good ,I loved the taste of the olives and hints of fennel, the cress made the whole dish so fresh not just to look at but to taste too.

The Head chef Kamaldeep Singh (left) and his colleague decided to take us through the process of how the new menu was created , the origin of ingredients and basically make us hungry for more!

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Madeleine seated next to me choose the other option as her first course :Peppercorn Cured Beef Carpaccio – Manchego cheese , home cured tomatoes,charred artichokes,mizuna and micro cress. I was avoiding red meat that so was very happy to photograph her dish and ask how it tasted but equally satisfied with my light tart.

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The carpaccio was hammered thin and artichokes placed over – it looked great, to find out in her Madeleine’s own words what she thought of her dish go check out  her review here.Very happy with my first course, I expected the second course to deliver and impress me a bit more. Must say my Pan-Fried Fillet of Sea Bass served with diver scallop,caper crushed potatoes,mixed bean salsa and ‘sauce vierge’  did not fail to do so. It looked amazing and I had to photograph it from various angles – we food bloggers!

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But  this was simply delicious and worthy of praise for more reasons than one – made using farmed sea bass responsibly sourced scallops, a lighter than most sauces that usually accompany a fish main the scallop sat one a delicious pea puree and cream base.

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The mixed bean salsa tasted great with the morish caper crushed potato, the cress balancing off the dish in a subtle way.Nayna my vegetarian food blogger friend chose to have the Spinach and Ricotta Raviolli made with heirloom tomato salsa and served with freshly made basil cream sauce , to read her views go onto her blog here.Our first wine of the evening accompanied the first course , Vidal sauvignon blanc from New Zealand , aromas of gooseberry, passionfruit and guava lead into a palate that exudes tropical and passion fruit flavours.

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After that very satisfying sea food dish ,we moved onto the next course , I stayed away from red meat again and the Garden pea,mint and pecorino cheese risotto was fabulous for me , I love my rice and many a times I really need some to complete my meal and make it me feel full, maybe a psychological thing but coming from the coastal side of western India ,fish curry and rice is our most staple everyday far.One of the staff members asked me where I was from and when I said Mumbai, pat came the next question which I was sort of expecting – was the sea bass as good as the Pomfret, well no! For me pomfret is the king of  all fishes on this planet – but its a matter of what taste one has grown up with and our method of cooking is also so very different. But yes Sea Bass , Salmon and Basa are my favorite buys,best eaten fresh on the day of purchase ,hate frozen fish,tastes muddy and weird in curries especially.

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The  pecorino cheese added a subtle tangy taste to this very morish and filling risotto, its easy to get this dish so wrong because often the seemingly easier to make dishes are the toughest to produce to perfection . I am a great fan of the risotto that my elder sister hubby makes , he is a trained chef but now a very busy and senior marketing head honcho so it’s very rarely that we meet and even more rarely that I get to eat the risotto he makes. Ah sweet nostalgic family moments, only truly good food can bring on such an attack for me.. :)

By now the light had really faded and my risotto photo and all that follow look terrible!

I must admit Madeleine was very kind and allowed me to have a taste of burnt celeriac which I loved with some of the calvados sauce I scooped it off her plate with from her Confit of Gloucestershire Pork Belly. She enjoyed  my cheesy risotto too.

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The 14 hour low heat cooked pork belly looked so very appetising, the burnt celeriac adding to the earthiness of this dish,the cinnamon compliments the pork  and the savoy cabbage and compressed apple give it a tart almost tangy twist on the side. This was washed down with several glasses of a full bodied Chilean Merlot – Errazuriz , almost opulent with notes of berry and cassis fruit.

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It’s at this point that I slipped into blissful food coma and saw this beautiful rainbow emerge right in front of my eyes… the photo does no justice to the what we actually saw…

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That is us at the table – L- R – Bintu who blogs at Recipes from a pantry, Nicki who blogs at Baking Beardy,seated opposite her is Fiona who writes an award-winning blog – London Unattached,Nayna – who blogs at  Simply Sensational Food her other blog is Citrus ,Spice and all things Nice, and the lovely Madeline who blogs at Kitchen Journeys and documents heart healthy recipes at From the Healthy Heart.

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Was too full by now and the dessert platter served with a large shot of margarita in shot glass lined by sugar , managed to cut the sweet taste that was bound to settle on the palate after cheesecake ,a panna cotta that failed to impress because I was expecting the usual wobble and a refreshing pista flavoured ice cream  – my fav from the selection.

As we strolled out for an impromptu photo session and gazed happily at the beautiful Tower Bridge,I couldn’t help but wonder that though the exterior of  the Tower Guoman leaves one wanting the view of two world Heritage Sites – Tower Bridge and the Tower of London certainly makes up for it!A massive refurbishment project is on the cards too.A few more plus points include a convenient location within easy reach of the financial district, Canary Wharf, the Excel Centre, London City Airport, historic Greenwich, the West End and Westfield Shopping Centre. Also the newly launched menu at The Brasserie definitely warrants a visit. The menu is bold and one where the chefs have really gone the extra mile to hope that if they try ambitiously to achieve the Zero Mile Ingredient mark and grow their own herbs fresh on the terrace garden which is to come alive very soon!

The staff was very polite, genuinely attentive and ensured we had a great evening.

*With  thanks to The Tower Guoman for the invitation. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review . All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

The Brasserie at the Tower Hotel on Urbanspoon

Square Meal

Yum Chaa – Fitzrovia – Review

Absolutely bored and craving a afternoon out ,a close friend and me decided to check out Yum chaa sometime early february. As soon as we walked my eyes fell on this beautiful and welcoming armchair – its the kind of chair that you can sink into and loose yourself in!

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Lucky for us it was in a quite little corner where we could pour our hearts out to each other!

The counter had a beautiful  display and she decided to have the Chilli Chilli Hot Chocolate. I was having a very difficult time trying to decide which tea to have from the amazing range available of Black and Red teas.

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I finally settled for a red tea and a little something to bite into….in the quite pauses between our excited chatter I gazed into my tea cup…wishing I could tell what the future has to hold simply by gazing at how the bright red tea sediments lay there… if only …

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Loved their quirky note asking for ‘Valentines Day Funds’ now who can refuse a tip when coaxed like that? (espp when it will be used to buy an Adele album!)

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The quirky christmas tree kept the corner with the shelves a bit festive and the white washed walls seemed to have a sublimia soothing effect. The general atmosphere of the place is the sort where you can settle into a huge armchair , armed with a tea of your choice and spend hours sipping it alone or not. Its the kind of place you would take a good book to and settle in with a warm pot of tea, allow the tea to percolate and loose yourself in the pages of your fav storyteller.

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We lost track of time and almost over two hours later when Yum Chaa got really  busy we decided to let someone else take over our cushy chairs…reluctantly almost, promising ourselves that we would be back soon , very soon…

The shabby chic,relaxed atmosphere , mis-matched furniture, white washed walls and their amazing range of teas on offer will stay with you long after you walk out of the place and of course their catchy crazy name Yum Chaa is something you won’t forget easily!

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Disclaimer: I’ve written this review of my own accord and was this visit was paid for by me. I was not required to write a positive review and was not compensated monetarily for this post.Like all my previous posts about events and reviews, ALL opinions expressed here are entirely my own.