East Z East Manchester: Christmas Menu

It was a pleasure to be invited to East Z East’s launch of their Christmas menu a few weeks ago; as you are well aware I love all things spice and can’t resist a decent cocktail. This place has plenty of both – as well as wide range of milder curries & mocktails for the more faint-hearted (or designated drivers!)

Their Riverside branch is in a great city-centre location on Blackfriars street. They even offer a convenient valet parking/concierge service free-of-charge, which is a great asset if you’re a non-city dweller. The building is modern, trendy, well-lit and has a sophisticated feel to it. It’s not your average curry house, it kind of has an elegant, luxurious twist to it which I liked.  We were greeted by the manager and shown to our table, seated in the large private dining room upstairs, where we could play our own choice of music through the sound system – great to add an instant party atmosphere!

To drink, I decided on a mocktail, (sadly), as I was driving… but I must say, it was deliciously fruity, refreshing and hand-prepared in no time. The rest of the cocktails all looked really impressive, each featuring different fresh fruits and funky shaped straws (pictured above, top left: the East Z East Touch Mocktail – Strawberry, raspberry and blackberry shaken with elderflower and cranberry juice).

So – the food. First of all I think 3 courses for £21.95 is excellent value for money from a Manchester city-centre Christmas menu. To start we were greeted by the BIGGEST tray of chutneys, pickles and yogurt selection I have ever come across, along with a couple of poppadoms each – just enough to get the taste-buds tingling.  There were 8 different chutneys to choose from; and the plum chutney and chilli pickle were amazing. The lamb chops were meaty, well spiced and morish, the chicken tender, juicy and had just the right amount of charcoal grilled goodness on the outside. Yum.

Next were the curries… Pictured below are the two curries I tried; the Balti Seafood and the Murgh Tikka Makhani. The seafood curry featured huge king prawns and was in a medium-spiced balti sauce, similar to a bhuna in heat and intensity. The Makhani was like a tikka-massala but without the coconut. Instead it featured the more ‘grown-up’ flavours of cream, pistachios, almonds and tomatoes. An altogether more delicious answer to the overly-common ‘tikka masala’ – and I liked it. Garlic naan breads, cooked to perfection, thin, bubbly, crispy – just how I like them (as the last thing you want o do is fill up on thick bread, especially if you’re on the cocktails!)

Finally, the puddings. I must admit, I don’t usually go for puddings when I go for a curry. I usually find I’m too full so don’t bother. However, when the place has it’s very own ice-cream bar, featuring flavours such as Ferrero Rocher… I could not resist. Pictured below are just two desserts from the Christmas Menu;  Gulab Jamun (a sort of sweet dumpling, served warm with madagascar vanilla ice cream (a really delicious, sweet, light option – I would highly recommend) and a Swiss Chocolate Cheesecake served with (any) scoop of ice-cream from the ice-cream bar… 😀 both desserts were an absolute delight. They have both made me think twice about desserts in an Indian restaurant, the perfect end to a mini-culinary adventure!

Click here for more information about East Z East and to enquire about Christmas bookings, contact 0161 834 3500.

 

 

 

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Grandad’s Sausages: Breakfast & Posh Dogs

Grandad's Sausages - Perfectly Packaged for #BritishSausageWeek
Grandad’s Sausages – Perfectly Packaged for #BritishSausageWeek – scroll down for more amazing pictures!

As you may have noticed from some of my previous recipes and social media posts, I am rather a fan of a good old sausage. Sausages are so versatile, tasty, quick and easy – if you’re a meat lover you’d be daft not to have a constant stash of good-quality sausages in the fridge. And these ones are awesome.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of Grandad’s Sausages as part of celebrating British Sausage Week, which was earlier this month 3-9 November. I got the chance to meet up with Matthew Woodward and his business partner Michael – we met in Chorlton; it was pouring down with rain and it turned into a sort of ‘drive-by’ pick up, which was very funny and felt a bit like we were doing something dodgy. But we weren’t, honestly, just casually picking up sausages… 😉

Both Matthew and Michael are really nice blokes. I will certainly be ordering more of their sausages in the future, and my own Grandad has already told me he wants some next year for his famous Summer family BBQ’s! Their sausages come in a range of different succulent flavours (the ones bold & italic were included in my sample):

  • Traditional British Pork
  • Olde English
  • Lincolnshire
  • Cumberland
  • Pork & Welsh Leek
  • Pork & Somerset Apple
  • Pork & Crushed Garlic
  • Pork & Fiery Chilli
  • Pork & Bury Black Pudding
  • Pork & Cranberry
Selection of Grandads Sausages
Selection of Grandads Sausages

 

Breakfast with Grandad’s Sausages:

First off had to be a traditional full-English breakfast/brunch. I just grilled them (hardly any fat came out) and served with plum tomatoes, fried egg ‘sunny side up’, black pudding & buttered toast. I had the Cumberland & Lincolnshire, and Bradley (boyfriend/partner in crime) had the Traditional Pork and Olde English. All super-succulent and perfectly seasoned, very meaty and even more morish. No need for bacon as well when the sausages are super tasty.

Grandads Sausages Full English Breakfast
Grandads Sausages Full English Breakfast

 

Posh-dogs with Grandad’s Sausages:

Next up was my take on ‘posh-dogs,’ where I used Pork & Fiery Chilli, Pork & Somerset Apple and Pork & Welsh Leek. I warmed a poppy seeded baguette in the oven at 150 degree for about 5 minutes, grilled the sausages in a griddle pan on a medium heat for about 20 minutes, turning regularly until cooked-through and crispy on the outside. I served them with a little rocket and plum tomato salad, some fried shallots, English mustard and a little ketchup. All of the sausages tasted brilliant, all with seasoning subtle yet distinct enough to be able to really appreciate the different flavours.

Grandads Sausages Posh Dogs!
Grandads Sausages Posh Dogs!
Grandads Sausages Posh Dogs served with poppy seed baguettes, rocket salad and fried shallots
Grandads Sausages Posh Dogs served with poppy seed baguettes, rocket salad and fried shallots

Being a chilli lover, my favourite was the Fiery Chilli of course. Just the right amount of chilli for a nice little kick. So, so good as a ‘posh-dog’. I urge you to try it!

Grandads Sausages Posh Dogs - a taste sensation. Highly recommended!
Grandads Sausages Posh Dogs – a taste sensation. Highly recommended!

For more information visit grandadssausages.com!

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry with Saffron & Pea Rice

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry with Saffron and Pea Rice

This beast of a curry is easy to put together and is a fantastic winter warmer. It’s indulgent and packed-full of a variety of spices that gently compliment each other really well. It’s slow cooked, so chose a casserole steak. If you have a little extra budget (or if you’re feeling fancy) you can use a better quality cut like Sirloin which is what I used.  I asked a local butcher and this is what he recommended. It gave it an amazing ‘melt in your mouth’ sensation… so if you can, go for it.

You can vary the heat by upping the amount of chilli used (fresh or powder) – but I would strongly recommend you don’t, as you will lose the delicate aromas of the ginger, cinnamon, cloves and coconut. The curry is also paired with a super-easy pilaff rice which compliments this perfectly, and will also go well with many other different curries, so you could also try the rice with a different dish if desired.

I serve this with mini garlic and coriander naan breads, which I make the ‘cheats’ way by buying plain mini naan breads from the supermarket and topping with butter, some ‘Very Lazy’ jarred garlic and chopped coriander (stems and leaf) before popping them in the oven and cooking as per the instructions. Easy!

This dish can be knocked together in about 2.5 hours and this recipe serves 5 people. It’s perfect for a weekend dinner party, so if that’s what you’re planning, double the quantities to serve 10 – and you might even have some left over for lunches in the week. All round win-win situation. I really hope you enjoy!

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry with Saffron and Pea Rice

Beef Curry – What you need:

  • 2-3 tablespoon of Sunflower oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon fresh root ginger, grated
  • 1.5 cinnamon sticks, halved
  • 3 cloves
  • 1.5 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 1 fresh chilli, left whole (optional)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1.5 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1.5 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 kg diced casserole steak (or Sirloin as mentioned above)
  • 1 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 200ml water (if doubling the recipe to serve 10, skip the water and use 3 tins of coconut milk)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • a large bunch of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Beef Curry – What to do:

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, garlic, ginger and cinnamon. Gently fry for about 10-12 minutes until the onions are soft and golden.

2. Mix in the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes, then increase the heat slightly and once the onions are sizzling, add the beef with a pinch of salt and pepper and fry until lightly browned.

3. Next, add the coconut milk and water (or just coconut milk if you are doubling quantities). Also add the fresh red chilli if you want to infuse a little extra heat, and the kaffir lime leaves.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, to let the beef gently braise and absorb the flavours.

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry simmering on a low heat
Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry simmering on a medium-low heat

4. Stir in the ground almonds and continue to simmer with the lid off (so any excess liquid evaporates) for 30-40 minutes – until it reaches the desired consistency.

5. Before serving, allow the curry to rest for 10 minutes off the heat. Remove the cinnamon sticks, whole chilli and kaffir lime leaves and garnish the curry with plenty of fresh coriander leaves.

6. Serve with the saffron and pea rice (recipe below) and garlic & coriander mini-naan breads for the ultimate taste sensation! 🙂

Garlic & Coriander Mini Naans
Garlic & Coriander Mini Naans

Saffron & Pea rice: What you need:

  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • a pinch of salt
  • dash of boiling water
  • 450ml water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • 250g basmati rice
  • 150g frozen petits pois

Saffron & Pea Rice: What to do:

  1. Grind together the saffron and salt using a pestle and mortar or in a small bowl with the back of a teaspoon, add a dash of boiling water and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium sized, heavy based saucepan and once hot, stir in the shallots. Gently fry for about 8 minutes, or until soft and golden.
  3. Add the bay leaf, clove and peppercorns and gently fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Mix in the rice, stirring until it is well coated in the oil. Fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add the frozen petits pois and saffron water mix, followed by a further 450ml water. Cover and bring to the boil over a medium heat. As soon as the rice boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. You can stir once half-way through, seasoning with salt to taste.
  6. After cooking for 10 minutes, the water will be absorbed. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a tea towel. Leave to steam for 10 minutes until serving.

 Hope you enjoy, Scranners! -x-

Lunchtime trip: Chapati Cafe, Chorlton

Fabulous, friendly service
Fabulous, friendly service

If you have an appreciation for good homemade food, Indian/thali cuisine, different flavours, textures and spices all on one platter – this place is a must-try.

It’s laidback cafe style, quick, super-friendly service and value for money are all second-to-none for a lunchtime jaunt or a bite to eat with your buddies. They are open from 11:30am – 7:30pm, so it’s ideal for lunch or an early dinner. This place is awesome.

Their mint and coriander sauce was a highlight for me amongst all their other amazing flavours and textures. It is refreshing and sharp and really works well to cleanse the palate between bites. You can have any combination of tender meat and lovely veg dishes, I went for the one meat 2 veg option, which worked really well. We were in-and-out within about 25 minutes, perfect timing as we were on our lunch break from the office. It is safe to say we all loved it, and at an average price of £5.50 per Thali (steel plate pictured below) we will certainly be back for more!

Here are a few snaps of our visit there a couple of weeks ago:

Spiced lamb curry, bombay potatoes and a dahl (lentil) dish, served with a samosa, chutney, rice & chapati
Lightly spiced minced lamb curry, bombay style potatoes and a tasty dhal (lentil) dish, served with a veggie samosa, pickles, rice & chapati
Authentic, simplistic decor and wall art
Authentic, simplistic decor and wall art really caught my eye. The mismatched tiles on the wall look great, I want them in my kitchen!
If you like to turn up the heat...
If you like to turn up the heat… a handy bowl of freshly chopped chilli on the counter – a nice touch and an easy way for spice lovers to turn it up a notch!
Aimee went for the chick pea veg option, extra pickles and no extra chilli's!
My buddy Aimee went for the chick pea veg option, and the chicken curry instead. Both of which were highly commended by her. She had a cold too, so the she welcomed a bit of spice to help!

For more information, please visit: www.chapaticafe.co.uk and if you’re in the Manchester area, make sure you pay them a visit!

The Great British Cook Book

The Great British Cook Book

Fellow Foodies, listen up! This is big news, and something I have been waiting to share with you all for a few weeks now, but hence my busy work schedule and holiday to Gran Canaria it’s taken me a while for me to get the chance… I hope after reading you’re as excited as I am about this carefully crafted thing of foodie beauty!

I have received some exclusive information about an innovative new cook book, set for release later this month. It’s been years in the making and is aptly named: The Great British Cook Book.  The makers behind the book have undertaken a nationwide search to find 200 different and diverse dishes from the 10 regions of Great Britain. The book is a celebration of our diversified nation and features a variety of Chefs, styles and foods to please any pallet.

The book will include 20 recipes from each of the 10 areas of the Great British Isles, which include London and the South, the North West,  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. One thing that really caught my attention, is that the book does not purely feature ‘AA Rosette’ or ‘Michelin Star’ restaurants/Chefs but will cover a range of different venues that are passionate about food, use innovative and inspiring recipes with locally-sourced produce.

Another great element to the book is that it has been joined by some real household names such as; Rick Stein, Michael Caines and Nigella Lawson (to name a few). Adam Simmonds (Great British Menu winner 2014) is the books main ambassador, stated;

“When the guys first came to me a few years ago, I knew nothing of this magnitude had been done before and was instantly hooked on the concept, the support from the Chef world has been truly amazing!”

Gary Allen, Project Director for the book also quoted:

“We wanted to combine our love of food and some of the amazing Chefs and food producers we have come across through the years of working in the industry. The book has a real commitment to raising awareness on using local and sustainable produce where possible, just like some of the reader’s favourite chefs and restaurants. All book sales will be donated to Macmillian Cancer support and Hospitality Action.”

The book will feature 50 starters, 100 mains and 50 desserts as well as 10 in-depth features of unique and traditional trades in the UK. Some areas covered are Butchery, Fishmongers, Baking and Home Growing; offering a rare insight into how these traditional trades work in our modern society.

I really feel this book is going to take us fellow foodies on the ultimate food journey, through a culinary array of cooking techniques, flavours and produce origins. The makers of the book have done all the hard work, so readers just need to kick-back and enjoy the detail presented, and hopefully cook and share the recipes for years to come.

Over the course of the next 2 weeks, I will be posting further information about the North West based contributors to the book, before it’s release on the 20th November, so watch this space!

In the meantime, for more information, please visit www.thegreatbritishcookbook.co.uk or follow on Twitter @gbcookbook.