Cheshire food blogger

Sunday round up 31/01/2016

So, it is finally here. The end of January. I think I speak for us all when I say. THANK. GOODNESS!

It’s been 6 long weeks of ‘dry January, or ‘Veganuary‘ and all sorts of other efforts people make to change their lifestyle habits for the better. As you probably know, I haven’t participated in either this year – but I have been keeping an eye out on the experiences of others. And feel like I have learnt some lessons (all be them vicarious) in the process. Here’s my round-up of January happenings…

 

Veganisim is probably on the rise. You know I love meat. And cheese. And eggs. But, saying that, I also love meat-free feasts on a regular basis too. And do make a conscious effort not to overindulge when it comes to eating meat (for reasons related to health, budget and sustainability). Brighton-based food blogger Cate in the Kitchen went on a Vegan-adventure this January. It was very interesting to watch. She came up with some cracking recipes and also failed quite epically one on occasion when she ate a cheese burger with all the toppings from Meat Liquor. Very entertaining indeed. Catch up here.

Food waste is still a trending food topic. It’s still making the headlines. It’s still a huge issue. And I can’t tell you enough how much I absolutely hate food waste. In an attempt to minimise food waste in my house, I have started to use Google Sheets to plan meals, build my shopping list and make use of things I already have in the cupboards/fridge/freezer before buying more. These efforts, along with online shopping, are so far working well to keep food waste in my house to a minimum. If you would like £20 off your first shop at Ocado…. click here. If you would like my recipe for this bacon, pea and spinach pesto pasta for the Staple Food Challenge click the image below:

Bacon, Pea and Spinach Pesto Pasta (4)

Pescatarianism kind of sort of appeals to me. A little bit. Watching Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Food Fight this week made me really crave seafood. As did my visit to the Seafood Pub Co. I eat seafood quite often as I really do love it. But I don’t incorporate it into my diet regularly enough. This week I have ordered some mackerel, seabass and have cod and king prawns in my meal plan for the week so will be experimenting with some new recipes. Whether or not I can give up meat to go entirely pescatarian, however, is another matter. But a damn sight easier than veganism! That’s for sure.

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Giving up booze is one thing. But moaning about it… is another. I’m sure giving up booze for January is a great way to detox and lose a few pounds. But I have seen so many people on Twitter (and in person) moaning about it. IF YOU WANT A GLASS OF WINE JUST HAVE ONE!

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And finally… I booked a holiday. A trip to Northern Italy. To flounce around eating red meat and carbs and cheese and drinking the finest of wines. And I can’t bloody wait.

What have your thoughts been on January and it’s many trials and tribulations? Are you as glad to see the back of it as I am? Share yours thoughts (and rants, if needed, in the comments below!)

Sophie -x-

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The Fenwick, Lancashire, Seafood Pub Co.

The Fenwick is set in the quaint, Lune Valley village of Claughton which is between Lancaster and the more picturesque Kirkby Lonsdale. Part of the Seafood Pub Company group who have seven pubs across Lancashire (four of which offer rooms to stay over), it’s rooms have recently been refurbished. The main building is over 250 years old, which means lots of character both inside and out with oak floors, beamed walls and ceilings, and stunning open fireplaces. The traditional but stylish décor and friendly staff also add to the overall charm of this wonderful place.

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We arrived at 5pm and were greeted by Chris, a very friendly face who signed us in, offered us a drink at the bar and showed us to our room. He explained that all rooms were in the out-buildings, which was a very short walk round to the side of the pub’s main entrance.

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The room was beautifully welcoming, very nicely decorated and smelt just a little of fresh paint. Scenic black and white framed photography adorned the walls and the general colour scheme was cream, light greys and charcoal with gingham throughout. We stayed in the Deluxe Double Junior suite, which comprised of a double bed, dressing table, small bay window and a hallway that lead to the bathroom. The room was carpeted and had a lovely flat screen TV on the wall and a great selection of speciality and traditional teas and coffees, with fresh milk available if requested.

The soft furnishing were particularly luxurious, from the thick, super-soft and warm woollen throw to the lovely cushions on the bed. I also really liked the wooden wall cladding which really added to the stylish feel of the room.

The room had a big wardrobe built-in to the wall in the hallway that connected the bedroom to the bathroom. Ideal if you were staying for a couple of nights and a good use of the space, I thought. The door to the bathroom was a stunning dark oak with a black latch; which matched the polished, oak-cladded floor in the bathroom and the beautiful beamed ceilings throughout the main bedroom.

The bathroom was stunning. The floor was warm and welcoming, the towels were pristine, white and fluffy and the shower was huge; with one giant head then a smaller head which could be removed and used separately. The bath was also very generous, roll-top in style with the traditional taps and shower-head in the middle. Definitely room for two!

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Cheshire Food Blog

As we arrived back downstairs for dinner, we were greeted by a busy, bustling restaurant and a queue at the bar – always a good sign! I ordered a gin and tonic, and Bradley a cider. I was offered a choice of gins, and I must say, I am not much of a connoisseur so I opted for Bombay Sapphire and Bradley had a pint of the Aspall’s Harry Sparrow cider; a lovely, medium-dry taste.

The gin was delicious. It was garnished with fresh orange peel and served with Fevertree tonic which is just divine. The orange peel really added a beautifully fragrant taste to the drink, which I drank the vast majority of before remembering to take the photograph… Oops!

So – onto the food. As it’s the Seafood Pub Co. we thought ‘when in Rome,’ and being avid seafood lovers we were really excited to see so many enticing dishes on the specials board. However, note that The Fenwick is named a ‘Steak and Seafood Pub’ and there was an impressive steak offering on the menu too – all cooked on their Robata grill (a Japanese style grill which uses fire and flame to cook meat and fish with maximum flavour).

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To start, I opted for the mussels, which were actually served in a creamy cider sauce with bacon pieces and toasted brioche (our server, Harry, explained the dish had changed since the specials board was written!)  Bradley went for the king prawn bruschetta (from the normal menu) served with cherry tomatoes on garlicky toasted, crusty bread.

Both starters were delicious. The mussels were HUGE, juicy and so clean with the beards fully removed (an absolute must if you ask me). The brioche was lightly toasted and not too filling, which I thought was an excellent accompaniment. The sauce was delicious and a really lovely consistency that was perfectly seasoned… I practically licked the bowl clean. 🙂

Brad’s prawns were also humongous. Juicy, meaty and cooked to perfection. He devoured the entire thing, even all the tomatoes, which surprised me as he’s not the world’s biggest fan of vegetables… A really delightful and satisfying pair of starters.

Onto the mains, and I just could not resist the black cod. It tasted as good as it sounded on the specials board, and as it looked. Two big pieces of black cod were served on a bed of noodles, and although the flavours of the dish were strong – the cod held its own in being the centre of attention with its silky texture and naturally buttery flavour. A hint of spice from the fresh red chilli was excellent – one of the best fish dishes I have eaten.

Brad opted for the tuna steak, again from the normal menu rather than the specials board. Harry asked how he would like it cooked – pink or cooked-through. Having opted for pink, when the dish arrived we both agreed it was the largest tuna steak we’d ever seen! Extremely succulent and full of flavour and seasoned really well. The creamed spinach beneath was also delicious, and the Parmesan fries were the cherry on top. A really great dish.

We ordered a bottle of the Chablis to accompany our meals. It was light, crisp and slightly fruity and went really well with all of the dishes we ate.

For pudding- we kept things really simple. We chose the caramel chocolate pot with salted peanut praline. It was like eating a posh Snickers bar. Really delicious and a nice way to end an excellent meal.

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After a great night’s sleep in the comfy bed (with plenty of decent pillows) we were down from breakfast at the agreed time for 9:30am (you could choose any time from 7-10am). Fresh fruit, juices, bread to toast, cereals and fresh milk were laid out on a table for you to dig in which accompanied the main breakfast, which you selected from the menu.

We ordered coffees, the Lancashire Breakfast and the Wild Mushrooms with poached eggs on toasted brioche. Both dishes were delightful – the breakfast was so fresh and a nice touch was that the hash browns were home made, and delicious. The eggs were as fresh as they get with bright orange yolks, and the mushrooms on the toast were full of flavour and varying ‘meaty’ textures. My only gripe would be that the coffee wasn’t great. A simple cafetiere of coffee with a sugar cubes instead of sachets would have been a nicer touch than the machine coffee, but other than that I really cannot complain.

After a truly hearty breakfast to set us up for the day, we were ready for an adventure. We decided not to do the local walk as we only had wellies and the floor was too icy for a hilly trek. So we drove along the beautiful countryside to Kirkby Lonsdale and then up to Lake Windermere which in total is about a 40 min drive up the road. Kirkby Lonsdale had some lovely, quirky shops and restaurants and Windermere was it’s usual, picturesque self (especially in the snow!)

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Cheshire Food Blogger

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Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Fenwick and would highly recommend it as a romantic getaway or a trip away with family or friends. The staff were a lovely bunch with an excellent sense of humour. The food is of excellent quality; from sourcing the finest seafood and ingredients, to creating a menu that is varied, creative and very well-executed. The rooms, decor and finishing touches are also to an excellent standard.

I very much look forward to visiting more of the Seafood Pub Co.’s establishments and trying some more of what they have to offer.

To book a table or room at The Fenwick in Lancashire, visit seafoodpubcompany.com for more information.


We stayed and dined as guests of The Fenwick and paid for all optional extras. All opinions and images are my own. ❤
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The Railway Cafe, Alderley Edge

This place is kind of a dream. I visited late last November with my good friend Becky to celebrate her birthday. We both love adventurous food, gin, cocktails and decent restaurants with a bit of character so we thought this place sounded perfect. We visited on a Saturday taking advantage of their early bird deal: 20% off if you order before 6pm which I thought was a really great offer.

From the outside, the place looks warm, cosy and inviting. You walk in through a dark, curtained porch then straight into the bar and dining space. The place has plenty of character: the dark polished wooden floor has panels of intricately pattered tiles and the general décor is rustic and trendy. When a place gives me ideas for the decoration my own house, I automatically feel at home.

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When we arrived, the place was empty, but it was early and the staff were seemingly preparing themselves for a busy evening ahead. They gave us the best seat in the house; a cute table for 4 in the middle of the restaurant, opposite the bar.

We first perused the impressive cocktail menu – a great mix of gin cocktails; some short, some sweet, some with a spicy twist (guess which one I went for?). As it was back in November, and I can’t remember exactly which ones we chose: all I will say is that Becky’s was sweet, mine included chilli. They were both delicious. We drank 2, each.

Ready to eat – we studied the menu. It’s a mixture of snacks/nibbles, small plates, large plates (you can tell roughly by the price of the dish how big in size it is likely to be – advice from the manager who gave us the menus and offered to talk us through them). As we were spoilt for choice we decided on a mixture of small plates to share.

We ordered/devoured:

  1. Lamb Sliders mini lamb burgers in a toasted brioche, garlic mayo, cucumber raita and pickled onions
  2. Chilli Imli Chicken Wings ginger-tamarind glaze and cracked black pepper
  3. Super Green & Quinoa Salad with kale, tender stem broccoli, poached pear, asparagus, chilli and candied pistachio
  4. Beetroot & Avocado cumin yoghurt and garlic toasts
  5. Gunpowder Chips hand cut and served with garlic mayonnaise

It was kind of a feast. We could have done without the chips, but they were beautiful, and we thought it’s Becky’s birthday so ‘f*ck it’. No regrets.

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The lamb sliders were amazing. The meat was slightly pink in the middle, absolutely packed full of warmth and flavour from a gentle array of seasoning and spices and the accompaniments really complimented and enhanced the flavours. The buns were so, so soft and squidgy too. They were delicious.

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The chilli imli wings were also divine. So fresh and steaming hot, they arrived first with finger bowl to-boot. This was going to be messy. Sweet, sticky, meaty morsels of satisfaction. The portion size was impressive too.

The quinoa salad was an explosion of sweet, healthy flavours that did well to cleanse the palate between mouthfuls of the other dishes. In it’s own right, it was a big bowl of goodness that was filling enough to eat with perhaps just one other small plate as a main course for one person.

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The beets and avocado were lovely, so many layers of flavour and texture from the crunchy toasts to the sliky texture of the beet/avocado salsa on top. The ‘gunpowder’ chips were chunky, fluffy in the middle, crisp on the outside and seasoned really well with a dusting of chilli and paprika.

Somehow we had room for pudding, but again, we opted to share. We went for this delightful little chocolate and coconut mousse with coconut shavings, strawberries and big shards of thin, dark chocolate that just melted in your mouth. It was light but delicious and a great way to end such an absolute feast.

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Overall I was really impressed with the exciting and well-executed menu that The Railway Cafe has to offer. These guys also own two excellent Indian restaurants in the area (Mughli in Knutsford and Rushholme – the latter being my favourite of the two because of it’s more laid-back style). Find details on them both and Railway Cafe at them at www.mughli.com or tweet them @mughli. ❤


Note: We paid for our meals and Railway Cafe did not know I was reviewing their food.
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Sunday round up. 17/01/2016

Ok so I forgot to post my weekly round-up yesterday, whoops. Here it is, in a nutshell, with pics. ❤ #HappySunday

  1. In the news this week experts suggested labels be added to food packaging to show how much exercise is required to burn the calories consumed. In all honesty, this idea shocked me. Can’t people be trusted to find out for themselves?! And what if someone generally lives a healthy lifestyle but eats the odd pizza on occasion. Do we really need to be guilt-tripped into an oblivion? No. We do not. LEAVE US ALONE!!
  2. My fluffy eggs recipe got featured in a proper recipe eBook which features “Breakfast in Bed” recipes from nine food bloggers from around the country! Exciting times indeed. Download the FREE eBook here.
  3. I ate black cod for the first time, at a wonderful pub in Claughton, Lancashire. It was delicious. More on that on the blog later this week!
  4. I discovered Evelyn’s, a new restaurant in Manchester and it was stunning. The menu is full of deliciousness, but I tried their Korean fried chicken and seafood ramen and mdog.me has added it to the #JanuarySales section on his site…. Check it out and grab 50% off their amazing food while you can!
  5. I went to the Lake District. It was proper snowy up there. Real, crisp, bright white snow. Everywhere. It was a wonderland ❄️ and must have made a welcome change to the sodding rain for the locals.
how many calories........? WHO CARES!!!!!!!!!!!!
how many calories……..? WHO CARES!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Black cod. What a thing of beauty ❤
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delicious seafood ramen at Evelyn’s – get 50% off in January whilst you can
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Thai Street Food at Chilli Banana’s Sunday Buffet

I have been eating Thai food until I pop, again. And this time was even more fun than last time. This time, Chilli Banana Wilmslow were shaking things up at their regular Thai Sunday buffet; introducing more street-food dishes including authentic Thai street carts to serve them up in! I got invited along to sample the whole lot and take some photos of the experience. Here’s how I got on….

We arrived just after 1pm and the place was almost full. Busy across both floors with hungry families, groups of friends and couples (old and young) meandering around the place with full or empty places getting their fill of tasty Thai treats. As we looked at the menu we were amazed at the variety on offer. Our table was upstairs on the terrace (that was covered up, with heaters on) directly opposite a cute Thai cart serving up fresh pork noodle soup… I knew what I was going to try first!

The list of dishes on offer featured an impressive 5 starters, 8 main dishes and 3 desserts plus traditional Thai coffee, all of which were being served up throughout the building. Each serving station had plates and an array of appropriate condiments/seasoning’s to enhance and personalise each dish to your liking.

You guessed correct, we started with noodle soup. Each bowl was made fresh to order by a lovely Thai chef. The dish comprised of a stunningly seasoned broth, pork meat balls, strips of pork, bean sprouts, cabbage and rice noodles.

Once chef had served you a bowl of hot soup, it was then time to top and season. Crushed peanuts and sliced spring onions added lovely texture and even more flavour to the dish. Sugar, fish sauce and chillies added an extra depth of flavour that you could tweak until you got it just how you like it.  This was such a stunning dish and I really couldn’t recommend it enough! A great was to whet the appetite!

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Goyteow Moo Namtok (pork noodle soup) the stunning finished product ❤

Downstairs, in front of the kitchen all of the starter dishes were laid out, being readily topped-up by chefs on the busy shift. We sampled the vast majority of them, and there were a few real stand-out dishes. The Kanom Gui Chai was dim sum stuffed with chives and marinated in sweet soy. They were also referred to as ‘chive cakes’ and they really were delicious.

Another great dish from this selection was the Si Ooah – Northern Thai spicy sausage. This was served in chunky slices, and it was spicy. It was packed full of Thai flavours like lemongrass, chilli and spring onions. I’d not tried this before but I really, really enjoyed it.

The marinated pork and chicken skewers were also gorgeous and the peanut sauce served with the chicken was particularly good. There was also salad bits to choose from if you wanted to keep things light. The only disappointing dish I tried was the vegetarian spring rolls, the filling was a little thin on the ground so all you could really  taste was the pastry.

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selection of Thai starters ❤

By this point, we were starting to get a little full. But there was still sooooo many dishes to taste, so we soldiered on. I wanted to try something a little different so went for the Kow Man Gai – steamed chicken and rice served with cucumber and a rich, fragrant sauce.  The chickens were steamed whole on a rotisserie, which made them unbelievably juicy and tender. I’d not tried a Thai dish like this before but I really enjoyed it and it did feel like quite a clean, healthy option that was still packed full of flavour through the sauce.

Back upstairs, and Bradley was getting stuck into ‘the curry shop’. A stall in the upper floor restaurant that was serving up Raan Kow Gaeng – a selection of Thai red, green and a pork stir-fry curry. We tried the Thai red curry and the port stir-fry… The curry was packed full of bamboo shoots and chicken and had a really nice creamy texture and was mild on the spices. The pork was a little on the salty side for me but overall it was a nice dish and the green beans were really crunchy.

As if that wasn’t enough, we still had some more dishes to try. This was one of my favourites, and I think another lighter option for those wanting to watch the calorie intake. The Pad Thai was stunning. This is one of my favourite Thai dishes, but to have it made fresh to order by a Thai chef and to watch him make it in front of your eyes in the middle of the restaurant is really special. I went for the vegetarian (tofu) option, but they also had chicken.

The finished product was stunning, and again you could add bits and season yourself to get the balance just how you like it with crushed peanuts and fresh lime. It was steaming hot, the tofu and egg tasted fresh and the veggies were crisp and delicious. The chef was a really nice chap too 🙂

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Traditional Pad Thai ❤

So after this epic feast, there was just puddings to go. I must admit, Thai puddings don’t really have anything on English, French or American. But we tried all options with an open mind and were in some cases, pleasantly surprised. First up was the Kanom Krok (coconut cakes) which were again being made fresh on a large purpose made hotplate that gently cooked the coconut milk, rice, sugar and spring onion (yes you read that correctly!) and the other dish we tried was the i-teem Kati (coconut ice cream with traditional Thai toppings). The coconut cakes were nice, quite light and sweet. However, I wasn’t keen on spring onion as a topping, I found this a little too savoury for a dessert!

The coconut ice cream however was delicious. The toppings were a little strange (diced sweet potato in a sweet syrup!) but overall this was a lovely way to end traditional Thai feast, particularly when washed down with a cup of kaffee bolan – Thai coffee served with sweet condensed milk. Naughty, but very nice indeed:-)

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed this culinary adventure and enjoyed the vast majority of all the dishes we tried. I think the introduction of street food to the Sunday buffet is fantastic. It adds a new sense of adventure and makes the whole thing a really fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.

There were lots of families there with young children, so I’d say the buffet was a great place for families and a good way to introduce kids to the exotic flavours of Thailand by allowing them try little bits that they like the look of.

This epic feast has also got us planning our trip to Thailand! Thanks very much to Steve and Mai for inviting me 🙂

Find out more about Chilli Banana on their website here, and to book a table at the Wilmslow Sunday Buffet, contact below:

The Chilli Banana Thai Restaurant,
71 Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire,
SK9 5BQ

T: 01625 539 100

E: wilmslow@chillibanana.co.uk


I was invited to the Chilli Banana to sample the new menu and as such the meal was complimentary, However, as with all of my reviews, my thoughts and opinions are as honest and objective as possible.
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Fluffy Eggs and Mushrooms on Toast

Scrambled eggs on toast is a wonderful veggie option for brunch, especially at the weekend. Here is my recipe for a quick, simple and satisfying breakfast that you can rustle up in no time.

#bestofthebrunch
#bestofthebrunch

Weekends are all about a lie-in and a decent brunch – if you ask me. Here’s a weekend breakfast classic which is quick, easy and not all that unhealthy. Fluffy scrambled eggs with herby mushrooms on granary toast. Mmmm. A splash of Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce at the end tastes great and helps if you have a hangover!

You’ll need a wok or a large frying pan for the scrambled eggs, and a little separate frying pan is perfect for the ‘shrooms.

This recipe serves 2, and takes about 10-15 minutes in total.

What you need:

  • 5 free-range eggs
  • a dash of milk
  • a small handful of finely chopped, flat-leaf parsley (or you could use thyme or coriander – whatever you fancy)
  • a big handful of sliced chestnut mushrooms
  • a shallot, very finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  •  2 knobs of butter or spreadable Lurpak
  • a little bit of olive oil
  • 4 slices of granary bread
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

What to do:

  1. prep your work station – get the wok and frying pan ready on the hob, toast in the toaster (but don’t toast just yet) and get your plates and cutlery out ready.
  2. crack your eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork, adding the dash of milk and salt and pepper. Mix in half of the chopped parsley.
  3. put one of the knobs of butter into small frying pan with the olive oil, and wait until it starts to foam. Then, add the sliced mushrooms and chopped shallots (if using). Leave them to fry gently, tossing every 30 seconds or so.
  4. add the other knob of butter to the wok and again, wait until it starts to foam (a medium heat should do it), pour in the eggs and using a wooden spatula start to stir them immediately, continuing to stir until they start to come together.
  5. pop the toast down in the toaster!
  6. as the eggs cook – turn down the heat, but keep folding them over with the spatula.
  7. check your mushrooms to make sure they are going nice and golden, and add the chopped garlic and the rest of the fresh parsley for the last 30 seconds or so.
  8. by this point you should be ready to bring it all together, get your toast buttered and serve the scrambled eggs on one slice, then a generous pile of the mushrooms on the other.
  9. season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of Tabasco hot sauce to taste! Enjoy!

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Sunday round up. 10/01/16

I’ve decided to start writing a quick Sunday round-up post by way of summarising the week’s happenings, good or bad. This week, overall, has been pretty hectic. Back to work was full on. Most evenings all I wanted to do was get in, eat, bath and sleep. Which is pretty much all I managed, plus the odd blog post here and there. But that’s OK. The main thing is… WE MADE IT. We survived the first week back to normality, now that Christmas is but a distant memory.

So, I have decided to focus on the good stuff. Some pretty cool things happened this week…

Here’s a quick summary of this week in words and pictures:

A recipe for the most epic steak I have ever eaten in my entire life EVER was published on the blog.

I purchased, cooked and ate beef reared ethically and locally, just 1 mile from my house!

Saturday afternoon cooking saw Twitter endorsement from the woman herself (I made a recipe from Gizzi Erskine’s Healthy Appetite book and she tweeted her approval). Swoon.

On Monday, I was featured on the blog at work in their “a day in the life of” series. Read here to find out what I get up to in my day job… Cringe!

I did my first online shop with Ocado. I was really, really impressed. WHY have I not done this sooner? I will be featuring my thoughts on online shopping on the blog very soon. In the meantime, if you would like £20 off your first Ocado shop, message me on Facebook with your email address and I will send you a voucher 🙂

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THAT STEAK THO! click for recipe ❤
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super cringe but kind of interesting if you want to know about my day job!
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Online food shopping is the future, why have I only just done it?!
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Flat Iron steak with rocket, Parmesan & potato wedges

So it’s nearly the first ‘proper’ weekend after the Christmas and New Year break… How is everybody feeling? Are you ready for another feast yet? If not, fear not, as this might just get you in the mood…

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This recipe is a real weekend treat – Flat Iron steak with all the delicious gastro-pub style trimmings. Consider it a big, fat WELL DONE to you if you’ve been watching what you eat this week. It’s now time to treat yo’ self. This meal also really does make you feel as if you’ve just eaten out at your favourite pub or Italian eatery but for a fraction of the price too, which is even more brilliant in January of all months.

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400g Flat Iron steak from the butchers at the Cheshire Smoke House.

Flat Iron steak is also known as butlers’ steak or shoulder top blade roast. It’s from the top of the front leg of the animal (hence the name shoulder) and is packed full of flavour and marbled with a fair bit of fat. Make sure you ask your butcher to remove any excess fat or gristle so you can just get on with cooking and enjoying it.

I get mine from the Cheshire Smoke House (just outside Wilmslow) and at £5.99 for 400g that EASILY feeds two, this is such excellent value for money as well as down right delicious.

I cannot stress the importance of rest time in this recipe, so do not skip it and you should end up with something really tender, pink and juicy.

What you need:

  • 400g Flat Iron steak (at room temperature before cooking)
  • sea salt flakes
  • black pepper
  • chilli flakes
  • 2 medium potatoes (I like Maris Piper)
  • olive oil
  • balsamic glaze (I use this one)
  • half a punnet button mushrooms
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • half a pack of ready-to-eat rocket
  • 15-20g freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

What to do:

Lightly rub both sides on the meat with olive oil then season generously with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and chilli flakes. I find one pinch of chilli flakes per side of the steak gives enough ‘heat’ but if you like it fiery, add more.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees.

Cut your potatoes into even sized wedges. Add to a large pan of salted, boiling water and par-cook for 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander and allow the moisture to evaporate from them. Transfer to a roasting tray and drizzle/toss with plenty of olive oil, then season well with sea salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for 30 mins – turning once to ensure they cook evenly.

Half the mushrooms and add to a small frying pan with the ghee, garlic paste and dried thyme. When the wedges have 15 mins cooking time remaining, turn on the heat beneath the mushrooms to the lowest setting. These will now cook slowly until everything else is ready. Keep and eye on them and stir/toss when necessary.

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Mushrooms with ghee, garlic paste and dried thyme

Heat a heavy-based griddle or frying pan read for the seasoned steak. When the pan is nice and hot, add the steak and cook for 2 mins on each side. And no more than that for a nice, rare and juicy steak.

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steak on the griddle with the mushrooms sizzling away.

Immediately remove the steak from the pan and wrap in tin foil to rest and keep warm for up to 10 mins (but at least 5 mins). This bit is the key to epic steak – so don’t skip it!

Arrange the rocket on each plate, sprinkle with Parmesan shavings and drizzle with the balsamic oil. Add the wedges and mushrooms to the plate and slice your steak diagonally with the sharpest knife you own.

Dig in & enjoy.

Sophie -x-

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Brad’s juicy portion with plenty of wedges and loads of garlic mushrooms!
Cheshire Food Blogger

What the Pho?!

Before Christmas I ate out at Pho, Manchester, with my little sister Hannah B. We had a bit of a feast. Plus wine. We were catching up, it was a Saturday. It was all very fun indeed. Here’s a little more about the scran…

Pho brings Vietnamese food to Manchester’s Corn Exchange

Set in the newly refurbished and very stunning Corn Exchange, this place is a true delight. Over 3 floors, the ground floor welcomes you to high ceilings, super-cool decor (including trendy neon lights) and a little bar in the corner that serves some great wines, cocktails and beers. We tried their version of a mojito, rather aptly named the ‘Phojito’ and it was sharp, refreshing and delicious. I also highly rated their sauvignon blanc, and Hannah enjoyed the pinot grigio blush as we hungrily scanned the menu…

The starter collection is extensive “dipping, rolling and sharing is what our starters and sides were made for” it reads… Chicken wings, meatballs and summer rolls, to name a few.

We opted for the rather healthy fresh rice paper rolls (aka Gỏi cuốn) – king prawns meticulously wrapped in sticky rice paper with coriander, vermicelli noodles and pickles. You can choose from either ‘nước chấm’ or peanut sauce – we opted for ‘nước chấm’, a sharp, slightly sour chilli sauce that absorbs into the contents of the perfectly stuffed rice paper as you dunk.

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fresh rice paper summer rolls with herbs, vermicelli
& pickle

Being seafood lovers, we also shared the ‘Muc chiên giòn’ – tender fried baby squid with a salt, pepper & lime dip. The dip arrives separately and you get to mix it up yourself at the table, adding to it as you wish the array of table condiments (Siracha, soy or fish sauce). The squid was piping hot, juicy and fresh. We thoroughly enjoyed it.  The portion size was also very generous, so if you’re sharing like we were there is plenty to go around.

For the mains, Hannah went for prawns, again. Yes, there is a theme occurring. She chose the ‘Xào’ which was described on the menu as a ‘stir fry of chilli & greens in a mild gingery sweet sauce’. We both enjoyed it – but I would not, in any way, describe the sauce as ‘mild’. The sauce was in fact rich, light in its consistency (pictured below) and absolutely slapped you in the face with a fist full of tangy ginger and dark soy. It was amazing. But, I fear, possibly slightly misleading when described as mild!

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king prawn Xào stir fry of chilli & greens in a rich, gingery sauce

I, of course, decided to go for the Pho. I went all out and chose a house special; Pho dặc biệt: king prawns, tofu & flash fried steak with garlic in beef broth. The broth itself was full of flavour, piping hot and contained loads of fresh herbs and veggies which was delicious. The prawns were also really big, plump and juicy. The flash-fried beef however, was a little on the tough side. And I thought the tofu overtook the dish a little so I had to leave a load of it out. But apart from that the dish was tasty, filling, warming and fresh. Next time I’m going to try one of the spicy seafood broths instead! No tofu!

Overall we really enjoyed our meals and I am looking forward to returning to try more dishes. The staff were very attentive, although it wasn’t too busy as we visited at 4pm on a Saturday, so in between the lunch and dinner rushes.

Have you been to Pho yet? What did you think? Would you recommend any other  places to eat in Manchester’s Corn Exchange?

I was invited to Pho to review some options from their menu, as during the launch I didn’t get any food as there wasn’t enough to go around. 🙂 However, all opinions are my own and I have tried to be as objective as possible throughout my visit and review.

Sophie -x-

Cheshire Food Blogger

Food for Thought – a Healthy Study Guide

Back to work, back to school. Same difference. We all dread it. I hope your Monday wasn’t too horrific?

Some of you may not know this, but I used to work in a school as a teaching assistant. And I almost went back to uni to train as a teacher.

Then things changed. Government funding cuts back in 2011 meant my precious place on the PGCE Psychology course got scrapped. Along with that of about 25 students in the same boat as me. So, after a seocond attempt not working out either, I decided it wasn’t meant to be. So back to the drawing board, and that’s when I took the opportunity to work for an IT company in Manchester and London. And here I am now working for a top organic search agency near Chester.

But – my time spent as a TA was fun. I met some really smart, funny and innovative kids. And also some right little sh*t bags. But, I can honestly say in their own ways, they were all fantastic and I do feel privileged to have worked with (and hopefully helped) some of those kids along the way.

So when the opportunity arose to help form this ‘healthy revision guide’ for GCSE students, I was excited to get involved.

A revision guide, with a difference

An online focus took place to gather top revision tips and tricks in order for the revision guide to be shared with current GCSE students. Those involved include current students, former students, health and fitness experts and teachers.  All giving their best tips for a healthy revision schedule covering topics such as diet, exercise, sleep and music and how they play a vital role in a young person’s revision tactics.

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Eating the right foods during stressful times

Health food expert @SpamellaB gives her advice on the best food to eat during the exam period, and I have used her top tips as the featured image on this post (see above).

I think she is right, a mix of complex carbs and protein make for the best breakfasts. Eggs, milk, nuts, fruit, lean meat, baked beans, wholemeal toast are all great options. Bananas are life savers. Based on my own experience, this advice for eating the right foods during exam times doesn’t just apply to students. In all walks of life, eating well, or as well as you can, during stressful times is key to getting through it in one piece!

Some days at work I find I am more stressed than usual. Perhaps because I have a lot on my plate or  have a tight deadline to work towards. But sometimes, I actually know I am more stressed because I am hungry (AKA hangry). I just can’t function properly if I don’t feed myself well. And this must be the case for loads of kids who struggle through their exams due to eating badly, skipping meals or consuming too much sugar.

Taking the advice here will hopefully help at least a few kids along the way to a healthier revision schedule. Better revision means better results. And better grades at school, well, the sky’s the limit!

Below is a little sneak-preview of some of the other pages, and see below to the link to download the full eBook!

The full eBook is completely free and can be downloaded via the link below:
A Healthy Revision Guide For GCSE: Free Download

 

Cheshire Food Blogger

Cheshire Food Blogger