Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas Feast at Dishoom, London

Earlier this month I was very lucky to win the competition on Kavey Eats for a Christmas Feast for 2 at Dishoom (named from the comedy 'dishoom' punching noise you so often get in Bollywood fight scenes). I've seen lots of tweets about how great Dishoom is, and I have spent time drooling (and reminiscing) over the menu on their website. So I was really excited to win the prize, plus I never win anything!

The menu is a mixture of Christmassy items (turkey, mince pies, warm spiced pimms) and classic Indian dishes (bhel puri, roti and naan, dhal and chai). Everything was beautifully spiced, just the right amount of heat and lots of aromatic spices, and authentic too but with a little twist.

We started off with a Winter Pimms for me and a Mango and Fennel Lassi for Mr. Giraffe. The pimms was like Christmas in a glass - lightly spiced with a dash of calvados and apple juice. The fennel with the mango lassi was surprisingly excellent, not overpowering at all, it worked just right.

First up we were served a selection of chutneys to go with our meal. Tamarind chutney, a cooling yoghurt and mint raita and a very hot house made chilli chutney.

Next up, bhel puri. This is one of my favourite things to eat in the world ever, everyone should have this at least once in my life - either made by my Mum or at Dishoom - I get the pleasure of being able to try both! Bhel is a mixture of puffed rice, spiced chickpeas, onion, lots of coriander and tamarind chutney. Sometimes with potato as well. At Dishoom the bhel had roasted crunchy chickpeas (a nice alternative to the normal kind) and pomegranate seeds which gave a lovely sweet flavour and extra crunch. I wanted to lick the bowl clean but we were in a public place, so I didn't.

The mains all came at once so at this point we definitely felt like we were feasting! The centrepiece was the 'flaming turkey raan'. A whole turkey leg slow roasted with spices and then shredded, served with crispy crushed Bombay potatoes and charred chilli green beans. Everyone should cook turkey like this.
We also had a lovely vegetable biryani and an amazing deeply savoury and excellently spiced black dhal. . We were also given a selection of roti and naan, all house made, I could see the man at the other side of the restaurant shaping and cooking them fresh to order.

All the food is perfectly spiced, nothing is just pure heat, it is spiced too - quite a different thing and hard to achieve well.

Pudding was some chilli mince pies, lovely crumbly pastry with rich mincemeat and flecks of red chilli, served with spiced custard, yummy! We also had a passionfruit 'gola ice' which was lovely shards of fruity ice, perfect to cool off after the mains.

We finished up with chai, naturally. I had a Baileys chai which does an amazing job of warming you right through. Mr. Giraffe had an ordinary chai which was pretty authentic, and lovely.

We'll definitely be coming back to Dishoom for their normal menu. The bhel puri and the house dhal are worth going back for alone.  The Christmas menu is served until the 24th December, so hurry!

Thanks so much for having us Dishoom, we had a great time trying your menu out!

Pin It

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Beetroot & Goats Cheese Tart

What is the difference between a savoury tart and a quiche? Something I am sure you will all ponder over for many hours...

This is a terribly simple recipe which not only looks impressive (purple food always does) but tastes brilliant too. If you cheat and buy pastry (I'm not telling anyone) then it is even easier.

I have discovered some wonderful goats cheese recently, from the excellently named Wobbly Bottom Farm, they do a range of goats and cow cheeses made from goats and cows on their own farm. My favourites are the soft flavoured goats cheeses, rolled in all manner of lovely things such as piri piri seasoning, black pepper or herbs. Yummy!
For my readers in Cambridge, they sometimes appear at local markets but the cheese is also stocked at the Cambridge Farmers Market outlet on the corner of Lensfield Road/Regent Street.

Beetroot & Goats Cheese Tart
makes one 28cm round tart

First of all either make your pastry, or roll out a sheet of bought shortcrust pastry. Oil or butter your tin, mine was non stick anyway but I have pastry paranoia so I greased it anyway. And then line your tart tin with your pastry. Leave about 1.5 inches overhanging, line with tin foil and fill with dry beans or rice. Blind bake for 15 minutes at gas mark 5 / 180c.

Whilst the pastry blind bakes make your filling.
For the filling you'll need:

3 small beetroots - peeled and grated
3 medium eggs
about 50g of parmesan, finely grated
50ml of milk
1 teaspoon of creamed horseradish
small handful of chopped parsley
About 75g of soft crumbly goats cheese

Whisk your eggs in a bowl and then mix in your milk. Then add in the rest of the ingredients except the goats cheese and stir to combine.
Remove the pastry from the oven when it is light golden brown and nearly cooked all over (keep the oven on), remove the beans/rice and the foil. Whilst it is still fairly warm trim the excess pastry from the edge of the tin. Leave to cool slightly for 5 minutes before adding your filling in, hot pastry and cold eggs don't mix too well! Scatter the crumbled goats cheese over the top of the tart, or slice into rounds and place on top.

Return to the oven for 15- 20 minutes until the mixture has a slight wobble in the centre, but is cooked everywhere else. Cool for as long as you can bear before eating it!

P.S. I am sorry for the Instagrammed photos, normal properly taken photos will return some day, probably when the light levels are better.

Pin It

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Spiced Chickpeas with Peppers

This is a dish based on a lovely chickpea salad I had for lunch, and inspired by it and the desire to make it better it became a very nice weeknight dinner. I used dry chickpeas, soaked overnight and whilst I was at work, soft fried peppers, lots of homegrown chilli, garlic and spices. I siimmered for a while and then topped with feta cheese and piled onto warm flatbreads.

I used dry chickpeas here because they do taste nicer, I find they are less floury, but you can substitute canned. I didn't make the flatbreads, but instead use the new Warburtons square wraps, they are based on the idea of tortilla wraps but are thicker and less like chewing on plastic than the normal 'mexican' style ones you find in supermarkets. I'm going to use these for square tacos soon!

Spiced Chickpeas with Peppers

100g of dry chickpeas, soaked overnight and boiled for 10-20 minutes til tender
Or 1 can of chickpeas.

2 bell peppers sliced into thin strips
1 teaspoon of honey
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

1 large clove of garlic
1 large green chilli (red chilli if you like it hot!)
1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
Squirt of tomato ketchup
Salt and pepper

Boil your chickpeas whilst you do the peppers, if you are using dried chickpeas.
Cut your peppers into thin strips and fry on a high heat for a few minutes with some seasoning. Add in a little honey and the red wine vinegar and then pop the lid on and reduce the heat. This will soften the peppers. Simmer gently for 10-15minutes.

Fry the garlic and chilli in olive oil for a minute or so, then drain your chickpeas (either after boiling or from your can) and throw them in. Add in the spices, tomato ketchup (yes it seems a bit strange but it gives the dish a sauce and tomato-ey flavour) and season. Stir in your softened peppers. Simmer for 5 minutes to let everything flavour the chickpeas and peppers, add a splash of water in it if looks a bit dry.

Pile into bowls and serve with some oven warmed flatbreads and feta cheese on top.
A sprinkle of chopped coriander wouldn't hurt either.

Pin It

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Cooking from the River Cottage Veg Book

Never before have I made so many recipes from a recipe book before. I think I am like a lot of people, I buy cookbooks promising to try all the recipes, I look at the pretty pictures, feel my stomach grumble, make one or two and then resign it to the shelf. Google is a lot quicker if I need to find a recipe in a hurry so my books get neglected.

I've loved the recipes from this book, and we've been watching the TV programmes too. Mr. Giraffe became a vegetarian nearly a year ago so I'm really glad to find a book full of many recipes that are inventive and veggie.
Our favourite by far is the broad bean and pea bruschetta - we use frozen peas when there are no broad beans in season - topped with crumbly goats cheese or feta. A small portion makes for a lovely side to a plate of pasta too.

We've also made the polenta chips, the mushroom stoup (make lots of this, it tastes better the next day), beetroot soup, aubergine parmigiana (Sainsburys basics 'italian hard cheese' is veggie and also tastes pretty good) and the beetroot tarte tatin.

Next on the list is the rest of the book - but more specifically the cauliflower pakoras, chickpea ketchup curry (for a day when we are feeling lazy!) and the beetroot and chocolate ice cream.

I cannot recommend this book enough, whether you are veggie or not, it is huge so you'll find something you'll like. And I agree with Hugh that we all need to eat less meat, not no meat but a lot less than we eat now.

I've also forgiven Hugh for cutting his hair, this book has made up for him having run of the mill short hair.

Pin It

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Jolly Scholar, Cambridge

Update: The Jolly Scholar has now closed and has been replaced by the Cambridge Brewhouse, read my review here.

Since I heard the Jolly Scholar had opened I was quite keen to go, it was formerly the Bun Shop which is a pub that was crying out for new owners and refurbishment. The Jolly Scholar is very gastropubby, in the decor and the menu. Inside it is lots of oak, old style furniture and little Cambridge themed decor - ie the punt suspended on the ceiling.

They popped up on Groupon recently so I bought a voucher, thinking that if it wasn't up to much then at least it only cost me £12 for £35 worth of food. Anticipating it being very busy due to the voucher (our experience at using a Groupon for The Rice Boat taught us this) we booked for 6pm, although when we arrived it was pretty quiet - a good sign, or not?

The Jolly Scholar is part of the same group as The Jolly Sailor in Orford - a very good place to find something yummy to eat, and of course a great place to find seafood. Mussels are one of my favourite things to eat so I ordered these, and Mr. Giraffe ordered the veggie burger (halloumi burger with other fried veg) with aioli & sweet potato chips. Both were good, a nice start. The mussels were very very fresh with a lovely white wine sauce and a slightly too huge portion of very nice crispy frites. The sweet potato chips that accompanied the burger were great too, they know how to do chips here.

Unfortunately the puddings let us down. I had a broiche & marmalade bread and butter pudding, which was perfectly acceptable if a little soggy, I like my bread and butter pudding to have a crispy top. The custard was however homemade, not the flouro Birds stuff. Mr's berry crumble was a huge disappointment, the berries were nondescript and mostly full of seeds and the crumble top was dusty and uninspired. Such a shame.

We loved the mains, but the puds let us down and so did the service. The restaurant was pretty quiet which only made the rather brash member of staff behind the bar barking orders at his staff sound even louder -  this also meant that the waitresses were quite nervous and obviously under undue pressure.

I don't think I'd pay full price here, the whole experience wasn't up to scratch despite the main courses being nice.

The Jolly Scholar
King Street, Cambridge

Pin It

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Sort of Sea Spiced Aubergine

Whilst it might seem a cliche, since Mr. Giraffe became vegetarian we've been eating a lot more aubergine, a lot of people describe it as being meaty - although I don't really see that - but it is very substantial which means it is easy to make it the centre of a meal.
This is my 'sort of' sea spiced aubergine, it is probably not very authentic but it has all the right mix of flavours - deep savoury, chilli burn and a little sweetness. This always takes me longer to make than I think, due to the fact that aubergines take SO LONG to roast. After they are roasted the dish comes together pretty quickly though.

Sea Spiced Aubergine - serves 2

2 medium sized aubergines
olive oil
2 fresh chillies

For the sauce
2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons of  Tamari (or just add in another tablespoon of dark soy sauce)
2 teaspoons of chili bean paste (or any good chilli sauce, or sambal oelek)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
2 teaspoons of honey
juice of 1/2 a lime

Heat the oven to 180 degrees c / gas mark 4.
Line a baking dish with foil and wrap your aubergines and chillies up in the foil, drizzle with sunflower or a mild olive oil before you seal. Roast in the oven for about an hour to an hour and a half, about half way through remove the chilis and turn the aubergines. Slice the chillies in to small pieces. If you don't want too much heat you can use 1 chilli, or leave the seeds out.

For the sauce mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with the roasted chillies.

When the aubergines are ready, remove from the dish and let them cool so they aren't going to burn your hands off when you slice them. They should be very very soft and collapsed slightly.
Cut your aubergine into rough chunks, about 2 inches.
Heat up a large frying pan or a wok, add in some sunflower oil and then your aubergines. Fry for a minute and then pour in your sauce, followed by a little hot water if it is a bit dry. Simmer for 5-10 minutes on a medium to low heat.

Serve with egg fried rice or fine egg noodles.

Pin It

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Hinds Head, Bray

All I really need to tell you is, go to The Hinds Head. Go go go. Especially if, like me, you can't afford The Fat Duck. We dined from the A La Carte but the Set Menu is good value at £27.50 for 3 courses.
Now here are some pictures that will make you hungry.

'Hash of Snails' - garlic pan fried snails on sourdough with pistachio puree and shaved fennel.
Snails are surprisingly like mushrooms, except a bit more meaty. I was not freaked out about eating them, which was good.

Shaved lemon salad with goats curd and salad leaves and walnuts. Mr Giraffe's starter, the really thinly sliced lemons were excellent and the goats curd so good -  I need to find out where to buy goats curd.
My main course; Shepherds Pie with Sweetbreads
totally amazing, so meaty and the mash with the crispy top was beautiful.
Bubble and squeak cake with mushroom parfait, crispy quails egg and leek & potato sauce. Despite there being a lot of meaty dishes vegetarians are well catered for, this was lovely and featured the same kind of crisp crust as the shepherds pie.

Triple cooked chips , obviously we had to order these.
My lemon tart, I love lemon tarts that come with crispy creme brulee like tops, it came with a syrupy hazelnut syrup, nuts go well with lemon surprisingly.
Quaking Pudding (c 1700.) with shaved apple. This may sound odd but it tasted really traditional flavours and quite rustic. It came with a little bit of paper explaining what the history of the pudding was too.

We really enjoyed our meal at the Hinds Head. Definitely a place that will always impress you. I'd love to go back. Any place that can serve snails like that wins with me. The menu felt quite similar to Dinner, which we are yet to try. I think the famous meat fruit features at the Hinds Head sometimes too.

Pin It

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Apple & Maple Syrup Flapjacks

I have a slightly traumatic history when it comes to flapjacks. Ok maybe not traumatic, but unsuccessful certainly. Every time I've made them they've stuck hard to the pan, requiring a chisel to get them out and extra strong teeth to eat them. I think I even chucked a baking tin in the bin once because they stuck so hard.

The other thing about flapjacks and me is the time I worked for an oat seed company, every year at a big event we did there would be trays and trays of flapjacks to give away to visitors. Being as we had to be at the show at about 7am every day and there was little time for eating most of us survived on the flapjacks, and by day three I didn't want to see them ever again til the next year.

Anyway, a craving Mr. Giraffe had today and a rush of confidence in my baking skills lead me to make these. I used the recipe from The Pink Whisk (fancy iPad to view them is optional but useful when you are in the kitchen!) but subbed the golden syrup for maple syrup, plus I added another tablespoon of it in for extra flavour. As part of my extra flavouring a lovely local apple was grated into the mixture along with some cinnamon.

Apple & Maple Syrup Flapjacks
adapted from The Pink Whisk

160g butter
115g sugar
2 tbsp of maple syrup
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
240g of porridge oats
1 apple, grated

Preheat your oven to 160c fan / 180c / gas mark 4

Melt the sugar, butter and maple syrup in a saucepan over a low heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat and add in the other ingredients and stir well.

Pour into a greased and lined brownie tin.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then cut into pieces. Then leave to cool in the tin before removing the pieces.

Ruth points out that the mix will look quite pale, and although you don't get the nice golden brown-ness, it does mean that the mix doesn't set rock hard in the pan like my past attempts! This way you'll get lovely soft flapjacks.

Pin It

Monday, 17 October 2011

All Change

You are hopefully looking here because you've been redirected from my old blog, I have been chopping and changing things around (this is my excuse for the lack of recipes lately) and I now have my own website dedicated to jewellery and this blog which is all about food. Hurrah.

I would be really grateful if you could re-subscribe (is that a word?) to this blog so you don't miss out on any posts, there will be new ones with new recipes soon. All my old posts are on this blog now so you can still find all the recipes and general waffling from the past few years.

Thank you!
(p.s. I'd love to know what you think of my new jewellery website).

Pin It

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Little Chef, Kettering

I think that has to be the least glamorous sounding blog title I've ever written.

But some of you may know that Little Chef has been undergoing something of  makeover. I watched Heston's Little Chef back in 2009 and from the looks of it there didn't seem to be much hope for Little Chef changing beyond the few restaurants they made over, but now there are 10 new Little Chefs with the updated menu and new diner style decor.

We visited the Kettering West branch just off the A14 on our way down to Shropshire a couple of weeks ago, something I've been meaning to do after Ino at Kitchen 22 blogged about it. The interior is fantastic, booths and diner style furniture with the famous 'blue sky' on the ceiling. Service was fast and friendly and the menu had so much choice. Breakfasts, little light bites, proper mains, puds and a great selection of tea and coffee with reasonable prices.

We were just stopping for a light lunch so I ordered the starter scampi, Mr Giraffe had a mushroom and pepper cheese toastie and we also got a side of chips to share. Oh my were we glad we got chips. If you don't get anything else here, make sure you get the chips. They are the triple cooked affair which Heston Blumenthal has made famous, ridiculously crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. I want to go back now and get some.

The scampi was brilliant, under the batter was proper crayfish instead of the reconstituted seafood mush you normally find, I think this is the first time I've had proper scampi. The toastie was filled with proper mature cheese and a rich mushroom and pepper rattoutile with a tomato base.

This is good food, done properly - everything tastes very fresh and it is clearly made onsite. It is very simple to get food right if you make it right. Well done Little Chef!

For 2 light lunches, a coke, cappucino and a side of chips it was £17, probably more than you'd spend on a motorway lunch but much nicer than anything else you can get off the A14.

If you love chips, go. I think that is my main message.

Pin It

Friday, 7 October 2011

A weekend away in a nice little place

Last weekend we stayed at the beautiful Brook Farm B&B in Berrington, just on the border of Shropshire and Worcestershire. It was so lovely, the B&B was so homely and the owner Sarah was so friendly, accommodating and and excellent cook!
We ate yummy breakfasts, walked around the beautiful cottage garden, played with the cats, patted the donkeys and ate in the many lovely pubs in the area. Just what we needed.

I didn't take any pictures of our meals out but I recommend the Rose & Crown in Tenbury Wells, The Queens pub in Ludlow and Chang Thai in Ludlow. The food market on a Saturday in Ludlow is so yummy, and they have a craft section too. And then the market is opened up on a Sunday for antiques and flea, so many interesting finds!

Pin It

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Changes at Lazy Giraffe Jewellery

There will be some changes afoot at Lazy Giraffe. I will have a shiny new website soon with a shop built in. This blog will be changing to a food only blog, possibly still here or on Wordpress, I haven't quite decided yet.

Whilst I ummm and aaah (and add all of my 90+ listings to my new shop!) here is a sneak preview of it (click to make it larger).

I'm really looking forward to what you all think of the whole site once it is ready, I love how simple it looks and I think it is quite easy to navigate.

More coming soon!

Pin It

Thursday, 8 September 2011

German Apple Cake

I love apple cake, it is a very autumnal thing and being as it has felt autumnal for about 3 weeks now I think it is the perfect cake to be baking at the moment. I'll start off with a little disclaimer, I didn't bake this cake, Mr Giraffe did, but it was so yummy that it needed to be blogged about.

This recipe is from Honey & Jam - it is a very simple sponge with none of the usual spicing that most apple cakes have, the sponge is very buttery and light and the apples really stand out. The apples aren't peeled which works suprisingly well, especially if you have good quality apples.

I think we/I will be making this again soon!

Pin It