This website is about food and I will cover anything regarding it. Anything from a TV programme, a book, a recipe, a restaurant review or food thoughts that come into my head. Although it's called Love Food UK, I will cover food globally. I hope you enjoy reading my blog and please leave any comments.
Yesterday, Friday 30th
March, I went to see the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy of
Art and like the De Vinci exhibition it was a nightmare. They had let
far too many people in and there was lots of pushing and shoving, it
was almost as bad as being on the tube during rush hour. I appreciate
that a lot of people want to see major exhibitions, but it's just
greed on the galleries to squeeze as much cash out of people as
possible, okay enough of my moaning.
After the exhibition my
friend and I went to Sheperd’s Market in Mayfair where there are
some great little independent restaurant and café’s. After walking
around we decided on a little French brassiere that had an outside
table. After ten minutes, nobody had bothered to greet us or give us
a menu so we left and mooched around again, but all the other places
were now busy and so ended up going to Sofra a Turkish Restaurant
Unfortunately for us we
hadn't booked a table and just as we were walking out the hostess
said she had a couple of tables. She did advise us they were not good tables
and she was not wrong. The two tables offered where squeezed into
place, but with some loud grumbling noises coming from my stomach we
decided to take one of the tables. To say the next table was close
was an understatement, I thought I was back in the Hockney
exhibition. I and my next door neighbour where having seat wars, to
try and squeeze a few more millimetres of leg room, but we
eventually called a truce once we both had adequate amount of space.
Meze (forgot to take a pic before eating - oops)
We started with a meze
for one, which we thought it was a perfect size to share. The meze
contained tabbouleh, falafel, red lentil patties, baby broad beans
with yoghurt, spinach and feta filo pastry, halloumi, aubergine
ratatouille, sautéed lamb fillet with humus and a nut salad. The
best dish for me was aubergine ratatouille which had a lovely smoky
taste, but each element of the meze were well made and were fresh,
light and a great start to the meal.
Spicy Fish Pot and Spice Enriched Rice
I ordered spicy fish
pot served with spice enriched rice. The dish, cooked in coconut
cream, was vibrate, spicy and the fish was tender, moist and was
really scrummy. The rice was a little salty for my liking, but was
fluffy and well spiced and the heat gently increased with each
mouthful. My friend ordered ali nazik, which was sautéed fillet of
lamb with smoked aubergine caviar with yoghurt and garlic. The lamb
was seasoned well and tender to eat, the aubergine with the yoghurt,
was smooth and wonderfully smoky which didn't over power the lamb.
The staff were helpful
and polite and deserved the automatic service charge, which I don't
agree with, as it should be my decision.
Apart from the awful
table the food experience was very satisfying and one I am looking
forward to trying again soon. Although I will book a table first and
I will not let my stomach over rule my head when it comes to seating
If you make preserves, chutney's and pickles etc, don't throw away
old jam jars in the recycle bin. Clean them in hot soapy water so
that you can remove the label, then store them away until they are
When they are required you will need to sterilise the jars. Put the
oven onto about 100c, clean the jars again in hot soapy water and
place into the oven for about 10 minutes. Once finished take out of
the oven and allow them to cool down then fill them with your
I have decided to enter
the challenge of random recipes, hosted by Belleau Kitchen. The challenge was to
get all your cookery books together and pick the 17th book
in the line. Boy did I groan when I got to number 17, it was Julia
Child's French Cooking Volume 2. Oh why couldn't it have been book
number 18, as it was Angela Harnett's Home Cooking, a lot easier.
Don't get me wrong, I like Julia Child’s' books but the French
Cooking volumes are not easy books and there are some very technical
challenging recipes. I was very nervous about what recipe the book
would open up to.
As I opened the book I
let out a big sigh of relief, as the recipe was Bouillabaisse de
Poulet and if you don't understand French, it's chicken poached in
white wine with Provençal vegetables and herbs. It was actually a
fairly easy recipe to follow, but to make it a little harder on
myself I taught myself how to cut
up a whole chicken see postHERE.
You can serve this
either rice or potatoes. It was a really scummy dish and one that I
will enjoy again and again. It was also a healthier dish that I have
been having of late.
3tbls extra virgin
1 large onion, peeled
and finely chopped
2 leeks, peel and
4or 5 tomatoes, peeled,
seeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic,
1kg whole chicken cut
up into 8 (or 8 chicken thighs)
pint of white wine
pint of chicken stock
1 bay leaf
fennel seeds, crushed
2 pinches of saffron
5cm/2” orange peel
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
or 4 drops of Tabasco
salt and pepper to
Heat up the oil in a
casserole dish and add the onion and celery and cook for about 10
minutes. Stir frequently and ensure the mixture does not brown.
Once soft and tender
add the chopped tomatoes and garlic, cover and cook for another 5
minutes. Stirring frequently again to ensure nothing burns.
After the 5 minutes,
salt the chicken and place in the casserole dish, spreading the
vegetable around and on top of the chicken. Cover and cook for
another 10 minutes.
Pour over in the wine
and add some of the chicken stock, until the chicken is just covered.
Add the herbs and add salt and pepper to season. Be careful with the
salt, as you've already add some on the chicken and in the chicken
Cover and either slowly
cook on the hob or in a preheat oven of 325f for about 25-30 minutes
or until the chicken is tender.
You can purchase Julia Child's French Cooking Volume 2 from the link below
I am doing a new recipe
from Julia Child's French Cooking Volume 2 for a cooking challenge,
recipe will be posted soon. The recipe requires a whole chicken to be cut
up into pieces. Normally I would have just bought chicken thighs as
our local supermarket doesn't have a butcher to cut it up for me.
But I thought what the
hell, I would attempt to cut a chicken myself. In the Julia Child's
book there are written instructions on how to cut poultry, but I
prefer visual instruction than written ones and some of what was
written went over my head. Luckily for me we have YouTube and I found
several videos on the subject. I watched a few of the videos and
picked the one that appeared to best show how it was done.
I followed the
instructions and didn't realise how easy it was to do. I did have a
little problem getting the cartilage out, but overall I was very
pleased as you can see below.
Also it gives a great
tip of keeping the bones, you would discard, in the freezer until you
have enough to make a great chicken stock.
Seeing as it was very
simple I will attempt to actually bone the chicken, which I guess
will be a lot harder and will try my patience more :-)
Last week we were told
to cut down on the amount of red or processed meat, to help reduce
the risk of cancer. Like we didn't know that too much red or
processed meat was bad for you. It's also bad for the climate,
because the amount of methane coming out of these animals are
creating more harmful green house gases than pollution from driving
(see links below) But since this so called revelation was announced,
it's like my psyche has gone into naughty kid mode. Since being told
to cut down on these harmful meats I've subconsciously started eating
more. The only non red meat dish I've eaten in the last 10 days was a
fish pie! I can hear you say “well that is healthy”, O ye of
little understanding of our fish pie. It has more cheese in it than a
cheese fondue for 6. Although it's delicious you can almost feel your
veins clogging up as you eat it (recipe to come in a future post).
The healthy eating
after Christmas and New Year is well and truly over and this dish has
actually has both red and processed meat, ooops :-). Another bad
thing about this dish is it has lots of flavour and very tasty and
it's a dish that I am going to have to ration.
2tbsp olive oil
350g onions, peeled and
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2x400g tinned tomatoes
1tbsp white wine
450g lean mince beef
2tbsp chopped basil
1tsp dried oregano
1 medium egg, plus the
yolk of another medium egg
2tbsp chopped parsley,
plus extra to garnish
3tbsp freshly grated
salt and pepper to
12 rashers of smoked
This recipe serves 4 people
Heat the oil in a
flame-proof casserole dish, add the onions with two thirds of the
garlic and gently fry until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
Stir in the tinned
tomatoes, salt, white wine vinegar and cinnamon. Bring to the boil,
cover and then simmer for about 20 minutes.
In a separate bowl, add
the minced beef, basil, oregano, breadcrumbs, remaining garlic, egg,
egg yolk, parsley and 1tbsp of the grated parmesan and mix together,
I loved using my hands, but a spoon is okay, if you don't like
getting your hands dirty.
Once mixed together,
roll out 12 evenly sized meatballs and place on a plate. Take one
meatball at a time and wrap 1 streaky bacon around each meatball.
Place the meatballs on
top of the tomato sauce. Put the lid back on the casserole dish and
place in a preheated oven of 180c/gas 4/350f for about 45 minutes.
When about to serve
throw in the extra parsley and the 2tbsp of fresh parmesan.
I have been rather lazy
of late regarding making bread by hand. I have a bread maker and it's
so much easier to just throw in a bread mix, press a few buttons and
hit the start button and two hours later, lovely hot fresh bread.
But making bread is
great, I enjoy getting my hands messy as I bring all the ingredients
together. I also enjoy kneading the dough, as it's a great way to
remove some pent up frustration. Many a time I have had a certain
MP's face in my minds eye which helps me pound the bread even harder.
If you've never made bread you should try it as it can be very
I have never made a
wholemeal loaf before as I thought it would be harder than making
white or granary bread as the bread grain is tougher and if it
doesn't get enough kneading it could be very tough once baked. But I
kneaded the bread, by hand, for 15 minutes and it came out very well.
This recipe makes two
loaves and I didn't have two loaf tins and so I made two different
shaped loafs bread. I used the tin for one loaf and rolled the second
loaf into a flat bottomed round bread. Once baked I allowed to cool
and placed one loaf in the freezer.
2tsp easy-blend dried
about 450ml (16floz)
225g (8oz) strong plain
450g (1lb) strong plain
1tsp caster sugar
25g (1oz) butter, diced
If you have two tins,
greasy both tins.
Add the yeast to the
warm water and stir together.
Sift the white and
wholemeal flour into a bowl and add the salt, caster sugar and stir
together. Add the butter rub into the flour mixture.
Make a well in the
middle of the blow and add the warm water and yeast and bring the
mixture together into a wet dough.
Place the dough onto a
floured surface and knead the bread. If you are doing this by hand
you should knead the bread for a minimum of 15 minutes and 10 minutes
if by a machine. The mixture will be very sticky but as you knead the
bread it will firm up.
After kneading the
bread place the dough into an little oiled bowl and cover. Place in a
warm location until the bread has risen to twice the size (approx 2
Knock back the dough
and knead again for a couple of minutes. Split the dough into two and
roll into an oblong, if you are using tins, or any shape if you are
Leave to rise again,
for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to
230c/450f/gas 8. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes and the reduce the
temperature to 200c/400f/gas 6 and bake for a further 15-20 minutes
or until the bread has risen and is lightly browned. The bread should
sound hollow when tapped underneath. Turn out and place on a wire
rack to cool down.
When I moved to moved
to London, I loved Camden on a Sunday, the independent clothes shops,
the market and independent restaurants gave it all a great buzz. Now
jump a few years (OK a lot of years) and my tolerance for Camden on
Sunday is lacking in enthusiasm. In fact I try to make an effort not
to go anywhere near Camden on a Sunday, it still has the market,
independent restaurant and shops, but it's all too busy for me.
Luckily for me the
restaurant was next to Camden Road train station rather than the
tube, so was away from the crowds. The restaurant is a French
brasserie which has a great interior, very shabby chic. I loved the
ceiling which had different design patterns on I, it looked like it
was made from different wallpaper all very quirky. The lamp shades
appeared to bet cut down decanters which blended well with the
overall design of the restaurant.
The menu had the
traditional french fare, moules marineres, escargot for starters and
cassoulet (toulouse sausage rather than confit of duck) and beef
entrecôte for main course. But on a Sunday, they do a roast, this
week it was roast beef. A bit odd considering roast dinners are an
english dish and not really french, but I did smirk because the
french nickname for the british is rosbif, so maybe the joke was on
I ordered the home
cured salmon terrine and my friends and partner ordered the scallops
baked in muscadet and cheese dressing. The salmon terrine was lacking
in salmon flavour, there was too much mayo, raw onion and potato and
overall was not good. The scallops were well cooked and moist, but
what stood out was they left the coral on, which my friends really
liked, these days a lot of restaurants remove them, which is a shame.
I ordered the
spatchcock poussin, with dauphinoise potatoes with a bearnaise sauce.
My friend order the same but with garlic and herb sauce and chips and
my partner ordered the duck breast with an orange and cognac glaze
with a herb risotto and roasted vegetables. The duck was well cooked
and the risotto was firm and creamy which my partner thoroughly
enjoyed. The spatchcock poussin should really have been called half a
small chicken, because it wasn't spatchcocked at all, but it was well
cook, The skin was crispy and the flesh was tasty and moist. The
bearnaise sauce, if that is what you can call it, came in a little
bowl and was terrible. Bearnaise sauce is suppose to be a smooth
butter sauce with herbs, this sauce was cold and lumpy, there was no
butter flavour and was totally overpowered by tarragon and raw onion.
Luckily the dauphinoise was perfectly cooked with a wonderful hint of
cream and garlic which was not overpowering. My friends poussin was
also well cooked, but the garlic and herb was actually butter and not
a sauce as mentioned on the menu.
The staff were very
helpful and polite, but appeared to be struggling. Empty plates took
a while to be removed, at one point a couple next to us had their
main course turn up but the plates from their starters had yet to be
With all my moaning we
did really enjoy this place and will certainly be back and so don't
be put off. With the Tastecard we saved ourselves a quarter of the
bill, it could have been a bigger saving, but we had a lot of drinks.
Hopefully when we go back they will have ironed out the little
mishaps and that terrible bearnaise sauce.
Every time I go to our
local supermarket I always go into the fruit section, but unless it's
for lemons or lime for my gin, I end up walking straight through.
But, every so often I get a guilt complex and end up buying fruit.
Unfortunately though the fruit normally ends up in a compost heap,
because when I get peckish I prefer cheese with high baked water
biscuits or home made popcorn than an apple or an orange.
Whilst I was away
sunning myself on a beach last week, my other half bought some
bananas, when I got back they had gone a little ripe – okay very
ripe. But I thought I need to deal with my compost habit and make
something with them, also I need to boost my five a day and so
decided to make banana and pecan muffins. Well as you will see, I
will get one of my five a day, but unfortunately I also get a good
kick of refined sugar and salted butter so not sure my doctor would
This is a really tasty
recipe and I was a little surprise as I prefer my bananas green to
yellow rather than brown. But this recipe is best with very ripe
Also I dare you not to
lick the bowl out after putting the mixture into the muffin cases. I
almost made 11 instead of 12 just so I could eat more of the gooey
muffin mixture..hhhmmmmm. But be sensible as raw eggs do not have a
great reputation regarding salmonella.
1tsp bicarbonate of
3 large ripe bananas,
about 450g (1lb), peeled.
125g (4oz) golden
1 large egg, beaten
50ml (2fl oz)milk
75g (3oz) butter,
melted and cooled
50g (2oz) pecan nuts,
toasted and roughly chopped
Line a muffin tin with
12 muffin paper cases.
Sift the flour,
bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl and put to one side
Mash the bananas in
another bowl with a fork. Add the caster sugar, beaten egg, milk and
cooled melted butter and mix together until well combined.
Add the banana mixture
to the flour mixture and again mix until well combined. Add the
toasted pecan and stir into the mixture.
The mixture should be
lumpy and almost like a batter consistency rather than a smooth cake
Half fill each muffin
paper case and place them in a preheated oven to 180C (gas mark 4)and
cook for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer to a wire rack
and try not to eat them all in one sitting – trust me it's not easy
Since I started this
blog I have realised that I have written a lot about slow food, (by
this I mean food and recipes that you cook for more than 60 minutes)
rather than making things like chicken wrapped in bacon, tuna with a
wasabi sauce etc and it seem I am not going to slow down, as again
I've cooked yet another slow dish. I have always enjoyed food that
has plenty of time to cook so that the flavours have plenty of time
to blend into each other to produce tasty tender food. Also I am bit
tight when spending money, so I tend to buy cheaper cuts of meats
which can still produce superb tasting meals, so no wagu beef, just
good old stewing steak – well for now anyway.
As I’ve said before I
prefer to use chicken thighs and it's the same with this recipe.
Thighs have more flavour and moisture, whereas chicken breast will
dry out. Thighs are also cheaper, which goes with me being tight when
spending money :-). These days you can get chicken thighs already
skinned and boned, but you pay a little more for it. Now I do
purchase these as I’m to lazy to skin and bone chicken thigh,
you've got to have a little luxury from time to time :-).
This dish has a slight
sharp taste, due to the wine and low fat crème fraiche. Don't let
this put you off because this is a really tasty dish, best served
with rice, but you could serve with mashed potatoes and veg.
500g skinned and boned
chicken thighs cut into
2tbsp extra virgin
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic,
2 sticks of celery,
2 portabello mushroom,
cut into pieces
300ml dry white wine
300ml chicken stock
Heat the oil in the pan
and add the onions, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then add the crushed garlic and cook until the onions are soft and
Add the celery and
mushrooms and gently stir in until the mixture has coated all the
celery and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Place the chicken into
the pan and again gently stir for about 5 minutes.
Turn up the heat and
add the wine and bring to a rapid boil. Keeping boiling until the
wine has reduced by half. Then add the chicken stock and again bring
back to the boil.
Once boiling reduce the
heat until the liquid is just simmering and cook for a minimum of 60
minutes. Stir occasionally and check to ensure that the liquid does
not evaporate and add more stock if required.
My other half has been
asking me to make a Lemon Drizzle Cake for a few weeks now, so I
scanned a couple of recipes and thought I can't be bothered, to much
hassle. But, I am going on holiday on Monday (5th March),
to lay on a beach for a week in the sun and he is not coming. So, I
feel a little guilty (only a little) and so decided I would attempt
my first ever Lemon Drizzle cake.
I went on the internet
to get a feel on how to make the cake and found a few versions and I
decided to make a version that contain lemon curd see HERE for
recipe. Also as my better half loves lemon curd there is loads
leftover so he can have some tasty lemon curd on toast whilst I am
away. I am also baking this in a loaf tin, so strictly speaking it's
a loaf not a cake, but let's not quibble.
As I'd never had or
made this cake before I wasn't really sure what to expect. Also I
said I wasn't a fan of lemon curd but my other-half does, see
previous post, and was even more unsure. As with other recipes I have
cooked, I was pleasantly surprised. It is a fairly robust cake, but
is moist, almost gooey in parts, because you pour a lemon syrup
through the cake. It is also not that much hassle to make and will
become a bit of a popular cake in our house.
I have split the recipe
in two, because the syrup can be prepared whilst the cake is baking.
Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake
1 large lemons, unwaxed
225g (4oz) self raising
pinch of salt
125g (4oz) butter cut
2 large eggs beaten
112g (3.5oz) of caster
1tbsp lemon curd
Line a 900g (2lb) loaf
tin with a loaf tin liner or non stick baking paper. Preheat the oven
at 180C (gas mark 4)
Grate the zest of the
lemon into a bowl and squeeze the juice into the same bowl and place
to one side.
Sieve the flour and
salt into a large bowl. Place the butter into the flour and rub
together until you have a breadcrumb like mixture. Add the beaten
eggs, the grated lemon, the lemon juice and the lemon curd and mix
Put the cake mixture
into the loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until it has risen and
golden. Use a skewer to test to see if the cake has cooked. Push in
the skewer and pull out if the skewer is clean it is cooked. If there
is some mixture on the skewer, cook for a few more minutes and try
Once cooked, take out
of the oven and let it cool, into the tin for 10 minutes. Then remove
from the loaf tin, but keep in the loaf tin liner or non stick baking
1 large lemon, unwaxed
450ml of hot water
125g (3.5oz) caster
1tbsp lemon curd
Using a vegetable
peeler, carefully peel the lemon and place the peel into 450ml of hot
water and leave to stand for about 30 minutes,
Juice the lemon and put
to one side.
Place the water and
zest into a pan and bring up to a boil and let it boil for about 10
Add the caster sugar,
lemon curd and 1tbsp of the lemon juice into the pan and boil for
about 10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about a third.
Once complete take off
the heat and allow it to cool down for a few minutes.
Pierce the cake in
several place and very slowly pour the syrup over the cake. I found
it best to pour a little at a time and leave a gap between each pour,
to allow more of the syrup to soak in.
Use the peel of the lemon to decorate the cake and place into airtight container and keep for a
The last time I tried lemon curd I wasn't a fan,
but like most kids, I was into things that were sweets rather than
foods that were sharp, give me a curlyl wurly than lemon drops any
day. My “better” half has mentioned several times that he loves
lemon curd, but as I remembered I wasn't a fan I wasn't going to make
some, but he was more than welcome to do so, but guess what, he
didn't and I did.
reason I made it was because I was going to make a lemon drizzle
cake. As the recipe required some lemon curd I thought I would prefer
to try and make some. I've found that most things made at home from
scratch are much better than massed produced products from
supermarkets and it was a wise decision.
incredibly easy to make and far superior to other lemon curd I had
tried as a kid, or maybe its because I have just grown up
(allegedlly) and my taste buds have changed. But I loved the sweet
sharpness of the curd and am now a convert, but seeing how much,
sugar and butter that goes into making it, it's not going to become a
zest and juice of 4 medium lemons
medium eggs, beaten
(4oz) butter, cut into pieces
(12oz) golden caster sugar
all the ingredients into a double boiler, or a large heatproof bowl
set over a pan of simmering water. Stir the mixture until all the
sugar will dissolved. Continue to heat gently, stirring frequently
for about 20 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of the
spoon. DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL OR IT WILL SPILT.
the lemon curd through a fine sieve. Pour into some sterilised jars.
Store into the fridge and use within two weeks.
To sterilise jars,
preheat oven to 140c. Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water.
Rinse the jars and lids and place, bottom up, on a baking tray and
place into the oven for 10-15 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow
I am not a fan of fruit
in savoury dishes, the very thought of sultanas in a curry makes me
shudder and I can't even write what I think about pineapple on a
pizza as I'd have lots of complaints. If I go to a friends house or a
restaurant and I find fruit in my dishes, I eat them first to get
them out of the way (sad I know), at least I'm not rude by not eating
it or spitting it out. But I thought I can't talk about food if I am
not prepared to push my boundaries on my likes and dislikes (although
still not prepared to eggs were the yolk is hard, that is one
boundary I will never cross).
We had some turkey left
over from last nights dinner and I was struggling to decide what to
make with it. After scanning the internet I found a recipe that would
challenge my dislike of sweet things in savoury dishes.
As I was preparing the
dish, I was checking the seasoning and I liking what I was tasting,
But, as we are still trying to keep to healthy diet, I carried on
cooking but was not looking forward to this dish. The last 15 minutes
I had to add dry apricots, which made me squirm at the thought of
fruit in the dish. I then put the turkey into a bowl and served it
with cous cous I was pleasantly surprised, the dish was light with
bold flavours from the cinnamon and apricots. Although I enjoyed
eating the dish, I am still not going to be a big fan of fruit in my
dinner, but I guess the more I try it the more I will get use to it.
2tbsp flour seasoned
2tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion cut into
3 cloves of garlic,
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground coriander
400g tinned tomatoes
400ml chicken or turkey
75g dried apricots
2tbsp almonds flakes
1tbsp fresh coriander
Put the turkey in a
bowl and mix in the seasoned flour and put to the side.
Put the oil into a pan
and add the onion, garlic, cinnamon and coriander and cook for 5
minutes. Place in the turkey and cook for another 5 minutes stirring
Add the chickpeas,
tinned tomatoes and chicken stock, plus the flour that was left over
and cook for 1-1½ hours, or
until turkey is tender. For the last 15 minutes add the dried
Just before serving
stir in the almonds flakes and fresh chopped coriander.
I served this with
cinnamon and almond cous cous, see recipe HERE