Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup

As spring begins to unfold and the weather changes to beautiful sunny days and chilly evenings, I like that we can still enjoy warming and wholesome soups. Butternut squash is so versatile and there are various ways to use it in soups, curries, salads etc.

This recipe is created by Chef Annie James at Sunrise of Tettenhall  for Sunrise Senior Living who make sure that all of their recipes are nutritious and tasty, making them great for everyone, not just the elderly. Of the many recipe options they sent me I choose to make this one because I simply adored red lentils as those who read my blog will know. The buttery aroma of onions sauteing which filled my kitchen was simply amazing and very satisfying. Needless to say the soup went down and treat and even normally fussy hubster greedily licked his bowl clean – no better compliment than that folks ins’t it? I must admit I couldn’t resist adding a bit of my own personal finishing touches as my palate is so used to all the spicy and tangy little ad-on’s that I normally use 😉

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

Serves:4  Preparation Time: 10 minutes  Cooking time: approx 25 minutes Ingredients:

  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 150 gms butternut squash – peeled and diced into bite sized bits
  • 12 gm unsalted butter
  • 2 red onion – peeled and chopped fine
  • 3 carrots -peeled and diced into small bits
  • 60gm dried red lentil ie. masoor dal – split without skin
  • Sea salt with a hint of garlic
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • small quantity of fresh coriander to garnish
Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

Method:

  • In a large saucepan or stockpot melt the butter on a medium flame
  • Saute’ the finely chopped onions in the butter for just under 4- 5 minutes till they turn a beautiful golden brown colour and reduce
  • Then add in the chopped carrots, squash and saute’ for a further 2- 3 minutes

    Bite sized Carrots and Butternut Squash sauteed in butter and onion

    Bite sized Carrots and Butternut Squash sauteed in butter and onion

  • Now stir in the vegetable stock and the red lentils.
  • Reduce to a low flame and let the soup simmer gently.
  • Cook until the vegetables and lentils are tender.
  • Allow the soup to cool down to room temperature, then using a hand blender puree’ until smooth or like I did give it a whizz in your food processor.
  • Season with sea salt with a garlic or plain sea salt and add a generous sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Garnish with a just a small amount of finely chopped fresh coriander.
  • Serve hot ideally with a warm crusty bread with a dollop of butter. If your conscience allows it stir in a small amount of fresh cream into the soup or smother your crusty bread with some freshly made garlic butter 😉
Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

*With thanks to Sunrise Senior Living and the  PR team for reimbursing the expense for ingredients . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

GODIVA CHOCOLATES FESTIVE GIVEAWAY

In early October I was invited to the Godiva ‘Experience Christmas’ preview at the posh Godiva store located at Regent’s Street,London, where their range of luxurious chocolate-filled hampers, Swarowski adorned gift boxes, seasonal whiskey truffles and hot Chocolixir in new flavour sensations was revealed to a few select people from the food industry, journalists, bloggers and food writers.

1-14th Oct'14 Godiva Christmas event

To fully understand why Godiva is such an iconic brand the story of Lady Godiva must be shared.

Legend has it that when Lady Godiva, an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman and wife of Lord Leofric, protested against the taxation of his subjects a deal was struck: fair Lady Godiva would ride through the streets of Coventry, “clad in nought” but her long tresses, and if the population remained in shuttered buildings, their tax burden would be lifted. The following morning she made her famous ride, the citizens graciously stayed inside and Leofric kept his word and reduced the taxes.

Godiva Giveaway Nov'141

Lady Godiva won the hearts of many and her legend has lived on through the centuries. Nowhere is her passion, purity, sensuality, style and boldness more symbolised than in Godiva chocolates, which in turn, am sure win the hearts of those who taste them.

Known worldwide for being irresistibly delicious Godiva chocolates are a treat for all the senses. These decadent chocolates and pralines are made to produce thrilling tastes, textures and sensations in each and every bite by creative Chef Chocolatiers who uphold the Godiva values and by using the finest GMO-free ingredients that are used in every single aspect of Godiva chocolate making to create the highest quality end result – the most sumptuous chocolates imaginable.

Godiva Chefs Selection

As always I would like to share a slice of my experience with you by offering ONE lucky readers to enjoy a box of Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde 16 chocolates from Godiva by entering a simple giveaway, to find out how have a read through the easy T& C’s.

Wishing all my readers a very, very Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year, may the spirit of Christmas fill your hearts and lives with warmth and joy and may you forgive and forget any old bitterness and embrace with joy the goodness of spirit , only then will the true magic spin it’s web around you…or so I think..:)

GODIVA CHOCOLATES FESTIVE GIVEAWAY

ONE lucky winner can win this fabulous prize ! Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde Box of 16 chocolates from Godiva

Godiva Chefs Selection from Charlottee

How to enter the giveaway:

You too could WIN a box of Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde Box of 16 chocolates from Godiva, all you have to do is :

  1. Follow me on twitter – @manjirichitnis
  2. Tweet out the following –  with Chef selection box of 16 chocolates from
  3. Leave a comment below telling me who will you share your box of Godiva chocolates and also mention your twitter handle. I will find you on twitter via the hashtag so it’s not required for you to mention your twitter handle in the comments. Do not share your email id in the comments please.

Godiva Giveaway Nov'14

Please have a read through the Terms and Conditions below:

  • Winners will be picked using Random Number.
  • Deadline for entering this contest is 31st December’ 2014 midnight GMT.
  • Entry is open only to residents of the U.K except Scotland and Ireland.
  • All entrants must be 18 years old and above.
  • ONE lucky winner will be chosen using random number generator.
  • The giveaway prize is as mentioned in the post. Neither Godiva or I am liable for any damage of goods in transit.
  • Please allow a minimum of 15 days for delivery of the prize, which may reach earlier or later. The chocolate box will be sent directly  by Godiva.
  • The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available.
  • I retain the right to DISQUALIFY any entrant who do not complete all the 3 steps mentioned above.
  • The winner will be notified on 2nd January’ 2015  on Twitter by me and here on my blog post. I shall tag the lucky winner on Twitter via their twitter id . If you are declared as the winner you agree to allow me and Godiva to contact you via email id  to arrange for the goody bag to be sent out to you.
  • If the winner fails to respond by 5th January’ 2015  then another winner will be chosen.

*With thanks to Godiva and their PR team for inviting to their exclusive Christmas event . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Images Wiki unless watermarked as ‘travelsfortaste’.

CONGRATULATIONS to the LUCKY winner of this fabulous GIVEAWAY of a box of Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde Box of 16 chocolates from Godiva !!!

AND The lucky winner is : Hold your breath! …….

TRACY K NIXON – Twitter id : 

While you are here why not have a look at the other giveaways on my blog and increase your chances of winnings cool freebies!?!

  • Win one of TWO Goody Bags from KNORR packed with 2x of EACH Knorr flavour pots and stock cubes to participate click here.
  • Win one beautiful Hotel Chocolat gift bag with fabulous cocoa cuisine products, to participate click here.
  • WIN 5 delicious sauces from the WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces, to participate click here.

xmas_Google_Cover_2120x1192px

Cooking with WORLD FOODS at the School of Wok and WORLD FOODS Giveaway – CLOSED

Cooking out of jar is something we resort to only when we are really hard pressed for time or in a situation when we simply do have access to fresh ingredients, but there are few jarred sauces that defy this belief and World Foods sauces I think deserve to be one of those. The reason I say this thank to a really well planned and executed cookery class at the School of Wok courtesy WORLDFOODS and expertly conducted by Head Chef at School of Wok Jeremy Wong.

WORLDFOODS produces a range of seven ready-made sauces totaling 51 variations in all with tantalising Asian dipping sauces, pastes, noodle sauces, stir-fry, cooking sauces, marinades, chutneys and salad dressings . The best bit is that they do not use preservatives and artificial flavorings. AND their products are food allergens free, trans-fat free and gluten free with no artificial preservatives, coloring or flavouring. The aim being to produce and  maintain a  range of “clean” products that are suitable for Vegetarians, Vegans and Celiacs.

IMG_9577 (Copy)

Once we had a brief introduction from Jeremy, we were each asked to pick a partner to cook with and since I was going to be eating the duck and Nayna is a vegetarian we picked other partners and Fiona and me started working on the ingredients.

Jeremy showed us some really amazing knife skills and we sliced a pepper like I’ve never done before using a rather huge cleaver imported straight from the Far East. In spite of both Fiona and me still having wrists in bad shape we managed this bit smoothly thanks to picking up some basic techniques that Chef Jeremy very lucidly explained.

IMG_9548 (Copy)

The mention of Panang Curry duck with Thai basil stir fry  made my mouth water. On the menu was a also a Masaman roast poussin and for the vegetarians  similar dishes using the same WORLDFOODS sauces but with aubergine replacing the duck and delicious and cute squash used in place of poussin. I love paneer and the squash was stuffed with paneer – I felt slightly greedy especially when I saw the beautiful roast squash was taken out of the oven – turning a visible shade of green (with envy – which scared Fiona a little and Nayna a lot 😉 !). The vegetarians also made Rendang tacos.

IMG_9523 (Copy)

After the veggie chopping when we started cooking I was really impressed with the huge portion of duck that we were going to cook and it watching the duck sizzle and ooze its fat and juices on the pan made my tummy rumble in anticipation of a fab meal.

IMG_9580 (Copy)

What happened next was the most interesting part of the evening – we learnt some cool wok handling skills and the basics of how to get a stir fry going, I even managed to get a really cool video of Jeremy giving us some amazing tips – why not head over to my Instagram feed and watch the video now?!)

After our cooking session we sat down to a delicious meal and really enjoyed the the taste of the dishes – fresh and full of flavour – nothing that you will expect coming out of a jar – ever! The Lemon drizzle cake made with WORLDFOODS lemongrass paste had a beautiful fluffy and light texture and was irresistibly yummy. I am not a fan of traditional lemon drizzle cakes and find the sharp citrusy taste overwhelming but the milder lemon grass was a very welcome taste for me and I really think that this is going to be my favourite not so secret ingredient for my future bakes!

IMG_9601 (Copy)

With minimal prep done for us, I picked up some excellent knife skills and cookery tips, ate some gorgeous Asian Fusion food and spent a very pleasant evening in the company of some old food blogger friends and met some more really lovely bloggers. The most important part was the superb time management by Jeremy and his efficient in house chef.

1-2014-11-13 20.47.45 (Copy)

WORLDFOODS have kindly agreed to give ONE lucky reader a selection of 5 delicious sauces to experiment with so you too can create asian fusion foods using natural ingredients in the comfort of your own home.

worldfoods sauces (Copy)

How to enter the WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces Giveaway with sliceoffme blog:

How to enter the giveaway:

You too can WIN 5 delicious sauces from the WORLDFOODS rangeall you have to do is :

  1. Follow me on twitter – @manjirichitnis
  2. Tweet out the following –  sauces with , to enter head to sliceoffme blog 
  3. Leave a comment below telling me what is your favourite asian dish and your facebook name used to like my FB page. I will find you on twitter via the hashtag so it’s not required for you to mention your twitter handle in the comments. Do not share your email id in the comments please.

Please have a read through the Terms and Conditions below:

  • Winner will be picked using Random Number Generator.
  • Deadline for entering this contest is 5th January’ 2015 midnight GMT.
  • Entry is open only to residents of the U.K except Scotland and Ireland.
  • All entrants must be 18 years old and above.
  • ONE lucky winner will be chosen using random number generator.
  • The giveaway prize is as mentioned in the post. Neither WORLDFOODS, nor I am liable for any damage of products and / or contents in transit.
  • Please allow a minimum of 25 days for delivery of the prize, which may reach earlier or later. The sauces will be sent directly  by WORLDFOODS.
  • The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available.
  • I retain the right to DISQUALIFY any entrant who do not complete all the 3 steps mentioned above.
  • The winner will be notified on 6th January’ 2015  on Twitter by me and here on my blog post. I shall tag the winner on Twitter via their twitter id. If you are declared as the winner you agree to allow me and Knorr to contact you via email id  to arrange for the goody bag to be sent out to you.
  • If the winner failS to respond by 8th January’ 2015  then another winner will be chosen via Random Number Generator.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE LUCKY WINNER WHO HAS WON 5 DELICIOUS WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces

Sarah Davies 

*With thanks to WORLDFOODS and the  PR team for arranging the fabulous sauces for my giveaway and inviting me for the event. A special thank you to School of Wok and  Jeremy for his time, generosity and teaching me some cool skills . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own

Festive Feast at Bengal Quay to celebrate the launch of their New Menu

Last week hubster and me were invited for a preview of the new menu launch at Bengal Quay. So after work on a Monday evening we both made our way from different parts of the city to the beautiful docklands area. I had never been on the DLR before and as I saw the beautiful landscape unfold it put into a very dreamy mood, something to do with the tall buildings and the water reminded me of the amazing south Mumbai roads, glitzy five star hotels and a gorgeous coast line. I could almost feel the salty sea breeze on my face.

Situated within walking distance from South Quay station this Indian – Pakistani restaurant has a fabulous new menu, as we were about to find out.

1-Bengal Quay 8th Dec'14 - New menu Launch3

I was delighted to finally meet Asma Khan who runs the popular supper club called Darjeeling Express and also the lovely Lisa who writes guest posts for my Fiona’s blog London Unattached.

It was chilly evening so I stuck to my trusty drink of cognac with warm water – Remy Martin this time and hubster too stuck to the same, the other guests enjoyed good red and white wines while the others tripped on tall glasses of Mango Lassi.

The starters were a selection of seafood which made hubster and me very happy as you my readers know well by now about our seafood obsession! We loved the Salmon Sooa which was Scottish salmon flavoured just right and wrapped snuggly in a little portion of banana leaf, it was melt-in-your mouth soft and I would go back just for this and of course the Lamb Nihari – Slow Cooked Lamb Shank in Pakistani Nihari Curry with Onions and Lemon – though opinions over which was the best dish at the table were a bit divided between hubster and me who went nuts over the Venison and Afghani chicken – humm.

The use of cute wooden clips to secure the banana leaf, the stainless steel lemon squeezer and that tangy tamarind chutney made me feel so very much at home.

The other starters were Imli Scallops – a very different approach to spicing up scallops with Indian spices and Tandoori Monkfish which was just the right kind of flaky and went down a treat – thumbs up from both OH and me.

1-Bengal Quay 8th Dec'14 - New menu Launch

The mini seabass fillets served with tangy crispies were served with a bhel like mixture in cute cones – which are always welcome for chaat fans like hubster and me and we really liked the seabass – but clearly this not the case with the rest of the table who had mixed reactions. This unusual combination seemed to work for us and was presented very nicely too.

The mains arrived and suddenly there was no navigation space on the table and we were very- very spoilt for choice.

I mopped up with buttery garlic naan the delicious Diced venison in red wine and mushroom curry  – which disappeared fast from the serving dish and as a majority vote it became the star dish of the evening. The special fried rice was great on it’s own while the pulav rice was great with the lamb shanks. The lamb nihari gravy was fabulous and the meat was cooked to fall-off-bone perfection , for all meat fans out there – this dish is something that you must not miss! Game is not easy to pair with spices and serving it up in a curry form with mushrooms seems to be a winning combination – Asma too was very intrigued and happy with this dish in particular.

Neither hubster nor me are fans of sweet or creamy gravy but the Afghani chicken was fantastic, the mild curry flavoured with saffron and cream and the delicious soft chicken was just too good to resist – the chef did something very right with this dish folks.

1-Bengal Quay 8th Dec'14 - New menu Launch1

The tarka dal was comforting and done to expected standards, which is always a good sign in any authentic Indian/Pakistani restaurant.

Expectedly we were stuffed to the gills and the prospect of consuming a selection of desserts seemed impossible. But that was only until the dessert plates arrived at the table of course 😉

The Indian in me was very happy with not one but two mango desserts to gobble – though the mango sorbet was definitely my favourite. Chocolate brownie came with a very unusual companion – a moreish passion fruit sauce which complimented the gooey chocolate taste very nicely. Again a winning combination.

1-Bengal Quay 8th Dec'14 - New menu Launch4

Nestled in the by lanes of London’s business hub and a stones throw away from Canary Wharf this is a place I would recommend you visit and do not miss the Lamb Nihari, Afghani Chicken and the passion fruit sauce and brownie and if you can allow yourself the guilty pleasure the mango sorbet too. But if you cannot visit anytime soon and spend time then you MUST take away the Venison curry to mop up with plain pulavAND some garlic naan!

It’s after such a meal that I forget that I am in London and walk out with a wide grin on my face half expecting to see a Bombay black cab whiz past, I feel I will be passing by my favourite Bombay sights and take in the familiar sounds and the magic of my darling city … until I actually step out into the biting cold and the cold breeze envelopes – but then in so many strange ways I find even this comforting as we stroll into the quiet night air, the sense of intense activity behind the deceptively quite larger than life glass mammoth buildings of Canary Wharf  is obvious to the those who care to observe and the bright Christmas lights can’t help make me feel warm and fuzzy inside – a feeling I could get used to very easily.

*With  thanks to Humayun Hussain and Bengal Quay for the invite. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review .All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Find the menu here follow me on Zomato

Bengal Quay on Urbanspoon

Indian Masala Omelette with Happy Eggs

Weekend mornings demand a good breakfast, especially if you have had a tad too much wine on Friday evening 😉

I love making a simple Indian omelette and my dinner guests who stayed with us for the night, last Friday, had to be fed a hearty breakfast before they set out to go home. Like my aai I am obsessed with feeding people and cannot imagine sending off guests on an empty stomach.

Luckily, now that I am part of the Happy Eggs Taste 100 Blogger network a  #happyeggtastemakers, I had 2 boxes of these lovely Happy eggs at home, red onion or the Mumbai pink onion which I buy from my fav Indian-Pakistani grocery store and loads of frozen coriander.

1-IMG_9227 (Copy)

This is a very basic recipe for the Indian masala omelette- with a bit of twist , added in my me . I also love adding in cheese and bulking it up with ham or sausages which I did for my guests, but hubster is a purist of sorts when it comes to the masala omelettes (read fussy hehehe) and so made 2 huge omelettes , one using the recipe that follows and another with the cheese, sausages and Parma Ham – so… so… so… good !!

Indian Masala Omelette

Serves:2

Ingredients: 

  • 1 medium sized red onion or pink Mumbai onion chopped fine
  • 3 Happy eggs
  • 1 green chillies chopped into fairly large chunky pieces- easy to pick out for the faint hearted!
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 /4th  tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • 2 large tbsp butter
  • Salt to taste

1-IMG_9195 (Copy)

Additional Ingredients to bulk up the omlette:

  • 1 cheese single
  •  2 sausages
  •  2 thin slices of Parma Ham
  •  1 /2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1.5 medium sized red onion.

Adding the garam masala is something I like to do as it gives the omelette a fabulous amped up flavour but feel free to leave that out if you aren’t a fan ,

Method:

  • Finely chop the red onion.
  • Chop the green chilli into fairly big pieces so they can be picked out by those that don’t want to chew on them.
  • Crack the happy eggs into the bowl.
  • Add in the chopped onions, green chilli chopped, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Whisk with a fork till the mixture foams and is well aerated , this will give you a beautifully ‘fluffy’ omelette .
  • Then add the chopped coriander and mix again.

4-IMG_9198 (Copy)

  • I add in the turmeric as it has loads of health benefits – it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant, and our guest who do not consume turmeric on a regular basis loved the idea.
  • Now add in the cheese – torn roughly if it using a cheese single or crushed if using a soft cheese or crumbly cheese, sausages and Parma Ham.Lightly beat the egg mixture once more with a fork to mix well.
  • Place a big pan on medium heat and when it begins to heat up melt the butter.
  • See the photo below – when the butter begins to sizzle and pan resembles what you see in the image then it’s the right time to add the egg mixture.

3-IMG_9197 (Copy)

  • Move the pan around so that the mixture spreads evenly and cook on a low flame for about 2 minutes .
  • When the omelette leaves the sides of the pan ,slightly lift it with a wooden spatula and check , if it has browned it’s time to FLIP ,  you can tell by the aroma wafting around too.6-IMG_9200 (Copy)
  • With a big wooden spatula gently flip over and cook on the other side, I place a lid over my pan at this stage to trap the steam and it also gives me a really fluffy omelette, of course it will fall flat if you don’t serve immediately.
  • Once done, turn off the heat and cut in half using a wooden spatula. Fold and place in between hot buttered toast for a fabulous breakfast.

An Indian masala omelette,served at breakfast with hot buttered toast and hot cups of masala chai , I think is a breakfast fit for a king – Made better with Happy Eggs I say!

7-IMG_9201 (Copy)

I am so egg-cited to be part Happy Eggs Taste 100 Blogger network, they  sent  me this beautifully packaged cute box with a massive chocolate cookie made using Happy Eggs and a lovely picture of the latest campaign – Top of The Flocks – where Happy Eggs produced an original album of classical music following a study by the University of Bristol looking at the positive benefits of music on hens.The results showed that Happy Hens prefer Bach to Beyonce – they have refined taste these hens! Happy Hens produced 6% more eggs in nest boxes playing classical music compared to pop! Awesome or what?! – always good to know where your eggs are coming from isn’t it?!

Ahem… as you can that by the time I actually got around to taking a photo of the welcome kit , hubster and me had managed to devour most of the cookie …well , don’t blame us  – it was soo yum!

1-IMG_9230 (Copy)

*With thanks to Happy Eggs for taking me on as part of their Exclusive Blogger Network and  for a complimentary voucher sent with their cute welcome pack . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Le Restaurant de Paul – Boulangerie transitions into a restaurant

Originating in France in PAUL bakery  continues to be be a family owned company  five generations on. Today they are present in more than 25 countries  in London, Washington, Dubai, Tokyo  ,Singapore and Moscow. They have been the go to bakery for authentic French bread, cakes and pastries for Londoners with  30 other branches located across the length and breadth of the city.

Their first bakery in London at  Covent Garden has recently become a  full fledged  restaurant . We were invited there for a relaxed dinner on Sunday evening .Located in the heart of theatreland , its walking distance from Covent Garden tube station but I prefer walking from Waterloo station . Walking beats taking the crowded tubes and my reward is a beautiful walk by the river with stunning views of the London eye on one side and St.Pauls cathedral on the other.

The famous black shop front with the name in stately lettering made famous by Francis Holder in 1993, is difficult to miss amidst the evening crowds, theatre goers and many shops.The aroma of freshly ground coffee beans is a welcome olfactory assault that is complimented by the the beautiful display of meringues, cakes ,pastries and fresh bread .

1-IMG_9007 (Copy)

4-IMG_9010 (Copy)

The restaurant was packed when we arrived  and the front of the restaurant which functions as a delicatessen  had people queuing up for French bread , coffee and cake at the counters up front when we reached , so we busied ourselves taking pictures of the beautiful baked goodies .

5-IMG_9013 (Copy)

6-IMG_9014 (Copy)

Our waitress for the evening was a smart young lady who showed us to our table a beautiful semi circular sofa against a wall and comfortable chairs on the side. The beautiful décor which is comprised of hand picked antiques is pleasantly distracting and a lot of photos later we finally settled down.

3-IMG_9018 (Copy)

Our two sharing ,one a charcuterie and one a vegetarian platter arrived with a large tray full of colourful glass jars stuffed with bright ,preserved vegetables – which were used as a base to rest the sharing platters wooden boards on – now that is going to be an idea all of us will end up using for our food photography !

7-IMG_9031 (Copy)

The charcuterie is a selection of saucisson, jambon cru, coppa, rosette,terrine,smoked duck breast, pickled baby onions ,cornichons,butter and assorted breads.

3-IMG_9027 (Copy)

The veggie platter was such a beauty – so colourful and fresh – selection of grilled and marinated vegetables,tapenade,aioli,hummus,sauce vierge and PAUL cheese gougere.

Heidi enjoyed her oven baked Camembert and  toasted Campagne bread.

2-IMG_9026 (Copy)

If anything these starters had made us hungry for more and our mains were so good that when they arrived all conversation came to a standstill ….

My main of Loup de Mer – Pan roasted fillet of sea bass, braised fennel with sauce vierge was flavourful and the sauce was faulous , my sea food loving self was very , very happy!

08-IMG_9041 (Copy)

I also had a delicious side of Gratin Dauphinios – Traditional French potato gratin   (£2.95)

9-IMG_9033 (Copy)

We shared a bottle of red which went well with the mains – a French Pinard Classique  2013 – best described as a lively bouquet of plum, bluberry and hints of blackcurrant on the nose, the palate is beautifully rounded, soft and juicy.

4-IMG_9020 (Copy)

Our group of food bloggers had these fabulous French delights :

Clockwise Top left to right – Demi Poulet au Grain Rôti à l’Estragon – Roasted free range corn fed half chicken marinated in tarragon ,lemon & garlic ,green salad (£12.50) ,

Saucisses de Toulouse – Traditional course cut Toulouse sausages served with crushed buttery potato mash & Bordelaise sauce (£10.50)

Poivron Fraci  (£7.50)  and

Confit de Canard aux Olives – Slow-cooked duck leg, crushed buttery potato mash, black olive & red wine sauce (£10.50)

Pauls restaurant sept 2014

I am glad I could squeeze in some dessert as well after all that food – I really needed some coffee so mini macaroons paired with a latte it was.

Am positive that I shall be returning to dine at Le restaurant de Paul and would highly recommend that you check it out for yourself – a taste of authentic French food in the heart of  London – with a sensibly priced menu too – Why not ?!

Have a look at what Karen had to say about our foodie meet up here and what Heidi thought about the food at PAUL here , Nayna’s thoughts are penned down here , Tina , who is still dreaming about gougeres, shares her thoughts here ,the lovely Sylvia shared her thoughts here. Read Karen’s post with beautiful photos here.

Stuffed Marrow Bake

It was on a sunny  summer sunday morning that I finally went to the local car boot sale to look for any treasures that I may find to use as food props and found this beauty .

1-IMG_9056 (Copy)

But it wasn’t just this beauty that we came home with. We found a a beautiful marrow and I instantly knew what we would be having for dinner. sometimes things just come to you by some sort of divine alignment of separate incidents to become one . I had some Lactofree mature cheddar cheese which I was looking to experiment with and this was the perfect chance to use it in a bake. Had a packet of smoked bacon cubes and yes had some cute , tiny bottles of olive oil which had been sent to me .I normally would infuse my own oils and always have a big bottle  of olive oil into which I stuff a few cloves of crushed garlic , some chill flakes and fresh herbs – the oil adds beautiful depths of flavour in whatever I use it for and because it is a lovely bottle , it looks pretty on my kitchen counter too – which reminds me I need to get around to doing this again soon – hummm

Also I had these bright and colourful mini chilli plants now sitting on my window sill ,looking all pretty and waiting to be used – yellow and deep aubergine coloured chillies – this was going to be one colourful bake !

1-2014-08-17 18.40.24

So this beautiful marrow came home with us and just like that became part of our dinner plans…..

Stuffed Marrow Bake 

Ingredients

  • 1  beautiful marrow
  • 3 heaped tbsp grated Lactofree mature cheddar
  • 3 flakes of garlic chopped fine
  • 500 gm smoked bacon cubes
  • 4 tbsp sweet corn
  • 2 medium sized red onions
  • 2 tbsp chilli infused Terra Rossa Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • Sea salt to taste

Method

  • Chop the red onions lengthwise , set aside.
  • Cut the marrow into half and scoop out the insides and discard , I know I should have saved them for making something else …

 

2-IMG_8492 (Copy)

 

In a saucepan heat 1 tbsp chilli Terra Rossa Olive Oil.

  • Sauté the chopped garlic first and when it begins to brown and the aroma explodes into the kitchen its time to add in the chopped red onions and toss them around till they begin to change colour.Then add the smoked bacon cubes and cook on a medium flame stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
  • Then add in the sweet corn and mix well for about a minute , season with sea salt and chilli flakes.

 

3-IMG_8493 (Copy)

  • Remove the saucepan with this onion, bacon and sweet corn mixture  off the flame and set aside.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment and brush some olive oil on the marrow inside out so that it has a bang of flavour when you bite into it.
  • Stuff both halves of the marrow with the mixture.

 

4-IMG_8497 (Copy)

 

  • Wrap the stuffed marrow halves in foil and bake for half an hour at about 180°C – I have a fan oven , please adjust time accordingly to suit  your oven.
  • Remove from foil  and add the grated Lactofree mature cheddar cheese on the top.
  • Then bake again without foil till the cheese browns or for 10 minutes approximately.
  • Serve with a warm fresh baguette or a cheesy bread – simply so that you can scoop every single bit of juicy goodness as you eat.

Terra Rossa oils - product shots

 

The Terra Rossa oils ,I received a pack of 3  exquisite Jordanian infused extra virgin olive oils – chilli and lemon infused oils and a unfiltered, cold dripped Sinolea extra virgin olive oil. Not only is it good to have in the store cupboard , I think it makes for a lovely gift idea too ! Yes it isn’t too early to start planning your x’mas gift list is it ?

It is incredible how much flavour this humble marrow packs in. I cannot wait to use it again in soups and stews. Yes it’s autumn and we are going towards colder weather . So along with getting those woolies out we also need to get started with beautiful soups and stews hummm – the seasons they are a changing ! This easy recipe is perfect for busy weekend evenings ( or for a lazy Sunday evening when you want to spend some time watching telly sipping a glass of wine and chilling out rather than slaving in the kitchen!) when you do not want to compromise on flavour and want a wholesome meal too. For a meat free option replace the bacon with a spicy potato and cauliflower mix . Whatever you choose to add as the stuffing, the result will always be satisfactory – that’s the nature of this beautiful marrow ….

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

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 !

1-DSC_0003 (Copy)

 

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 …

7-IMG_8116 (Copy)

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.

 

1-2014-08-16 12.54.53 (Copy)

 

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)

 

2-2014-08-16 12.56.48 (Copy)

 

6-2014-08-16 13.09.31 (Copy)

 

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.

 

1-2014-08-16 13.21.16 (Copy)

 

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.

 

2-2014-08-16 13.21.41 (Copy)

 

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.

 

3-2014-08-16 13.50.44 (Copy)

 

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

 

5-2014-08-16 13.07.56 (Copy)

 

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)

 

3-2014-08-16 12.57.11 (Copy)

 

*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 .

1-IMG_7947 (Copy)

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 …

7-IMG_7935 (Copy)

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

3-IMG_7931 (Copy)

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

5-IMG_7933 (Copy)

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 😉

2-IMG_7950 (Copy)

That is Emily putting her scones to the test ! 

6-IMG_7948 (Copy)

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.

1-IMG_7940 (Copy)

5-IMG_7944 (Copy)

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.

1-IMG_7929 (Copy)

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

3-IMG_7942 (Copy)

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.’

2-IMG_7930 (Copy)

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

3-IMG_7951 (Copy)

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 !

4-IMG_7954 (Copy)

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.

6-IMG_7934 (Copy)