Monday, 23 September 2013

Where Has The Time Gone

Okay, will someone please tell me where the time has gone. I decided to take a short break from writing on my blog, because frankly I've got a bit boring since being in Dubai. What I mean is, my passion for food and eating is still there, but what I've been eating has become boring. I've always enjoyed a great curry, but since I've been in Dubai it's got so bad that it's nearly all that I am eating. There is such a large India, Pakistani, S.E Asian community here the ingredients are so easy to get hold of and it is so much cheaper than other foods why wouldn't I take advantage of it.

Masala Dosa with Light Curry Sauce
Also petrol is so cheap here that everything can be delivered, from medicine, to bottled water and my downfall DOSA's. These are pancakes served with a “gravy” and I don't mean Bisto :-). The “gravy” tends to be a light curry sauce, sometimes with vegetables but mostly just lentils. These are actually normally eaten at breakfast, but you can get Masala Dosa's which are the pancakes filled with potato curry and when only 8AED (dirhams), about £1.10, it's very hard not to eat them every lunchtime, it's cheaper than a sandwich and much tastier. I will talk about these in another post as this paragraph cannot do them justice.

Fresh Gamboge

Dried Gamboge
Even though I've been eating a lot of curries, I have been introduced to some new ingredients and recipes, like gamboge, a fruit, from Indonesia and Kerala in India, that is dried and then added to a curry to make the sauce sour, like tamarind. I've actual found a tamarind stock cube that can give a flavoursome twist on a lamb stew. I've been introduced to a wonderful Filipino recipe called adobo, which can be made with chicken or pork, although my first attempt to make the dish was disgusting, but with more practice I'll get there. It's made with vinegar and my mistake was to stir the dish and apparently once you add the vinegar you shouldn't stir it – guess more practice is needed.

Chicken Adobo
I have also been eating out a lot and some good and not so good restaurants. In Dubai they have a thing called Friday brunch. Where the restaurants serve mostly buffet style food at a standard price, with or without alcohol. This is another of my downfalls – If you talk to people they go for a brunch maybe once every 6-8 weeks. I've now been five weeks in a row. It's a great way to try a vast array of foods and flavours.

When people first move to Dubai, they say you get the Dubai Stone, which means that you put on a stone in weight (14lbs or 6.3kg) in your first month and I certainly did that. With all these brunches and curries I'm having to train about 5 times a week at the gym, otherwise I would be a lot bigger than I am now and would be very unhealthy. It's a small price to pay to allow me to stuff my face on some great new foods.

Sandwiches At The Burj Al Arab

Friend and Cakes at The Burj
I have also been doing a lot of reading and below are some links of recipes and websites I've been looking at and hopefully you'll enjoy them also. As these are external links I do not have any jurisdiction over them I just read them as I found them interesting, so don't blame me if you don't like them. :-).

But as I said at the beginning, where has the time gone and I'll have to get my act together and start blogging again.

Happy Eating......

and one of my favourites -

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Beagle - Hoxton, London

The Beagle
In an earlier posting I said that I was really excited about coming home to London, as there was a restaurant called The Beagle, that I was eagerly wanting to visit. A friend pointed it out to me and I liked the look of the menu with dishes like pigs head croquets, octopus stew and odd drinks like bloody mary with chorizo infused vodka and pine made gin, it's hard not to get excited.

On Sunday 2nd June, I managed to drag myself along to the restaurant, I say drag because unfortunately I had over done it on the plane back to London and had one to many – ooops.....will I ever learn. But I was still very keen, as I like to eat my way through a hangover.

The restaurant is under the railway arch at Hoxton and couldn't believe how “trendy” it had become. I remember when Hoxton was seen as a rough area, but it's great to see how things change, just wished I'd bought a property there before it moved upmarket. Even though the restaurant is under the railway arches, the trains did not distract from our lunch or conversation, even though we were sitting outdoors. It's odd to think that the UK is now becoming perfect for sitting outdoors, but in Dubai we are moving indoors because it's far too hot and humid.

Pigeon and Prune Terrine
My two friends and I eagerly studied the menu and struggled as all sounded really delicious. After much prevaricating I ordered something unusual for me and decided on the roast chicken. I eat so much chicken when cooking at home that I like to try something different when I go out, also nobody cooks chicken better than me (how that's for ego :-) ) I've not had a roast chicken since being away so how could I resist one of my favourites. Although it was only the chicken that was roasted and didn't come with all the usual trimmings, it was still roast chicken, but I am jumping ahead of myself
Octopus with New Potatoes
For my starter I went for pigeon terrine with prunes, which came with a light pickled red cabbage and toast. The terrine was very tasty, with big pieces of pigeon and ham hock and the cabbage was tangy and light. My only issue was the look of the dish, the prune looked like a septic sore in the middle terrine and actually decided to give the prune a miss. My friends order the octopus with new potato. They both said it was okay, nothing special and actually found a few pieces of octopus over cooked and very chewy. They also both agreed far too much oil.

Roast Chicken with Pazanella
After a long wait, which I asked my friends if I was being impatient and was pleased when they said no and that we had been waiting a long time for our mains. When it did finally turn up, the chicken was moist and the skin well seasoned and crispy. I got the better cuts, thigh and breast but my friend only got a drumstick and a small thigh and at £15.50 felt a bit hard done by. The chicken came with a brightly coloured pazanella that was nice and light, but too much vinegar for my liking. Our other friend order the grilled seabass with roasted fennel – and like the chicken, had moist flesh with well seasoned crispy skin, but like the octopus was let down by the vast amounts of oil.

Seabass with Roasted Fennel
The service was polite and slow with one of them seeming as if she didn't want to be there (maybe she had a hangover like me). Considering it wasn't busy and there were a fair amount of staff I still had to ask were the wine was (a good cure for a hangover – hair of the dog), and we thought it was a cheek that they added a 12.5% service charge which wasn't optional.

Overall, I was extremely disappointed. I had been really keen to visit the restaurant and it didn't live up to all that I was expecting, The Giaconda Dining Room it isn't. I'm not even sure I would say try it out, because it's not worth the price tag, never did find out what the discount was for, see below
Add caption

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Pizza Delivery

Could this happen where you are........Here is a good reason to make your own pizza.....

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Beagle in Hoxton, London

I am flying into London for a short visit on Saturday 1 June and I am really excited because we are going to a new restaurant, that I've never been to before called The Beagle. The reason for the excitement is I love the look of some of the dishes on the menu

Pigs Head Croquette with Aioli
Cuttlefish and Fennel (one of my favourite vegetables) Stew
Rabbit Loin with Beetroot and Butter Bean.

Now to me that sounds great it reminds me of one of my favourite restaurants called The Giaconda Dining Room, you can read a review here.

The as you scroll down to the drinks menu you also see some very interesting drinks.

Bloody Mary, Chorizo infused Vodka
Pine infused gin (not to sure about that, but will give it a go)

Fingers crossed it lives up to it's promise

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Curried Cream Dori, Cauliflower and Cannellini Bean Stew

Sometime when I'm walking around the supermarkets I yearn to see some fish from home, cod, haddock, trout, lemon sole etc. But then I remind myself that I should make the most of fish in Dubai because I won't be here for ever and may never come across them again. When I go to Carrefours in the Mall Of the Emirates, the fish counter is extensive and it's always very busy and I don't have the patience to queue, so I go to the pre-packed section and see what they have and try to choose something different. This time I chose a white fish called Cream Dori. It reminded me of home, as I thought it was part of the Dory family and I like John Dory, so snapped it up.

When I got back to the apartment I looked it up saw that the word dori was part of the dory family, but then as I kept ready I saw cream dori - talk about false advertising. Cream dori is actually a S.E. Asian fish cat fish called Pangasiu and with its rather pungent odour I was really irritated as I was looking forward to just grilling it with some minted butter.

As I mentioned it didn't smell to pleasant, and even after washing and cleaning it still had a lingering smell, but I could tell it wasn't off. The flesh is not dense like other white fish and came come away in my fingers quiet easily and wondered how I could cook this. As I was still a little concerned that the smell would come through in it's taste I decided to make a kind of light curry stew with it, to hopefully mask the aroma and it worked. After cooking the smell was gone and the taste was really lovely and is a perfect light fish for a stew.

  • 100g dried canneilli beans, prepare as on packaging(or 200g canned beans)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 500ml – 1ltr of water – depending on how much liquid you want
  • 400g cream dori (you could use any light white fish)
  • (serves 4)

Make sure you soak and cook the dried beans based on the packaging.

Put the oil in a pan and gently heat. Add the onions and garlic cook until they are soft.

Once cooked add the cumin, coriander and turmeric and mix into the onions and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the cauliflower and beans and mix into the spiced onions and garlic

Add the water and stir until the water turns a light yellow

Gently place in the fish and cook until the cauliflower is tender.

I served this with couscous, but you could easily serve with rice, quinoa or potatoes.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Grilled Salmon with Roasted Fennel CousCous

If you read my blog you'll see that I have been very slack of late with only five entries this year – but now my marathon training has finished and I'm back in Dubai I can concentrate on my favourite hobby – no not running – cooking and eating it :-)........

What might seem odd is I am now going to try and lose some weight – you would think with all the running and training I did I would not need to lose any. But in fact I was eating like a whale to help gain strength to run the 26 miles. But now it's time to take it off.

When I was training my personal trainer showed me an eating plan to help with my running. You could tell it was written by a dietician and not a foodie as it's SO boring and bland I just laughed at it. Of course grilled chicken breast, with tomato salad with five new potatoes is nice and healthy – but hello.....flavour where are you. In my eating plan I am going to try and get as much flavour and textures in there as I can and fennel is a great start in both camps. Fennel is one of my favourites as I love the slight liquorice/anise flavour and according to some it has some very good medicinal properties ( ).

I was using fennel in my last entry and wondered if I could actually do another recipe so soon, even if I did write it up more than a month ago, what the hell, I enjoy fennel, and this recipe is simple, low in fat, high in omega 3 and the salad leaves and fennel can be used as part of your five a day

  • splash of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb – washed and sliced (keep the leaves and put to one side)
  • 100g dry couscous
  • boiling water to cover the couscous or vegetable stock (optional)
  • 2 pieces of salmon fillet
  • salt and pepper to season
  • lots of mixed salad leaves (my favourite is baby spinach, watercress and rocket) but any is fine.
  • (serves 2)

Heat the oven to 180 and put the sliced fennel on the tray and rub in a splash of olive oil.
Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the fennel has started to brown not too much though.

After about 10 minutes, make up your couscous, depending on the pack instructions. I normally just add the couscous to a bowl, pour over the stock ( I use a stock to add a bit more flavour) and then pour over the boiling water so it covers the couscous. I then place tin foil or plastic covering and put to one side for 5-10 minutes.

Place the seasoned salmon under the grill and cook until pink. I actually like my salmon cooked rare, but you can cook it as long as you prefer.

Once the fennel is cooked, roughly chop it up and stir it into the couscous.

Place the mixed salad leaves on plate put the grilled salmon on top and place the fennel couscous around the side and enjoy

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Chicken and Fennel Meatballs

Where does time go, I cannot believe it's been so long since I last wrote an entry for my website. I am still creating and eating new recipes and I have been visiting new and exciting restaurant and I'm even reading a lot on food in general. I've even written a lot, but something always seems to drag my attention away and I forget to upload them

Two of the biggest distractions have been ill health and training for the Brighton Marathon. I am really pleased that I've had my running because I've been having big issues trying to stop taking some really nasty painkillers. I've learnt a VERY important lesson when it comes to taking painkillers. Ensure you read up on them, before, during and after taking them. I've had some horrible and nasty withdrawal symptoms coming off Tramadol and Dihydrocodiene. I would even say that the withdrawal was worse than the pain I was taking them for. If you have been taking either of these pills for a long period of time ensure you talk to your doctor before coming off them (this is just my personal opinion and you should speak to a qualified doctor before, during and after taking these tablets).

As I mentioned I am doing the Brighton marathon on April 19th 2013 and it's been a struggle exercising, but food has been a great help. One thing about running is you need a lot of carbohydrates and protein and this recipe supplies both, the carbs in the wholewheat pasta and the protein in lean chicken, not only that it's low in fat and full in flavour. This is my first marathon and I am doing it for The Food Chain, seems appropriate as this blog is about food. Its a small charity, that is purely run by donation as it gets no government or local council funding. It's provides food and nutritional education, as well as group meals for people that are HIV+ and there families. Food is very important in keep the immune system healthy which is vital with people HIV, it's also help negate the effects of some very nasty retroviral drugs they have to take. There is still a lot of stigma regarding HIV and the group meals are a good way for isolated people to be able to come together for support.

If you would like to help me raise £1,000 you can donate at If you cannot donate but you have some spare time you can volunteer or just want more information about the charity you can at

There are two stages to this recipe, the sauce, which is a basic Italian tomato and basil sauce and the meatballs. I started with the sauce first as the longer it has to cook the better and the meatballs only need cooking for about 20 minutes in the sauce.

Tomato and Basil Sauce
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 1tbsb tomato purée
  • 2 tbsb chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (possible sugar to sweeten)

  • 500g chicken mince
  • 1 onion, finely grated and water removed
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb – finely grated
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 2 tbsp oil

Freshly chopped basil for garnish

Place a saucepan an the stove, add the oil and onion and gently fry for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and again gently fry until the onion and garlic are soft.

Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, basil and season to taste and cook for a minimum of 20 minutes. I will advise that the longer you cook it the better. Sometimes I've added a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten it a little

Whilst the sauce is cooking, place the chicken mince into a bowel.

Take the grated onion and squeeze as much liquid out of the onion as you can. I should warn that it will hurt the eyes more than just slicing them, and add it to the chicken mince

Squeeze most of the liquid out of the fennel, but not as much as the onion, so keep a little moisture and again add to the chicken mince

Add salt and pepper to season and mix all the ingredients together and then roll out between 10-15 meatballs.

Take the oil and place in the frying pan and bring to a high heat. Add a few meatballs at a time and brown each meatball all over.

Once browned remove and add some more. Once complete add the meatballs to the tomato sauce and cook for about 20 minutes.

Serve with any pasta, but I would recommend wholewheat pasta as it's add a nice nutty flavour. When plated up sprinkle on some freshly chopped/ripped basil.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Spicy Curried Parsnip Soup

My friend Lyd, was going to Moscow for a short break and gave me a load of vegetables that would have gone off, because her husband, Raj hates them. In fact we joke about his phobic tendencies to vegetables unless he has them curried. So, with his wife being away I have decided to make a soup for him and he can't complain because I'm making spicy curried parsnip soup, he did say he liked his veggies curried.

One thing though about making soup in my hotel apartment is the lack of utensils, although I am in a different hotel before Christmas and this one has a better kitchen, it still lacks a lot of basic utensils. Mind you how many hotel apartments have you stayed in were they have a hand blender in the cupboard, so I had to compromise. I didn't have a measuring jug, I don't have a masher or as I said and hand blenders. So I made it up as I went along. Below are the utensils I had at hand, to measure and mash the parsnips with

I also put two green chillies to give it a kick. I might have been a bit stupid as it's very spicy, even for me. It's what I call a double burner, if you want to know what it means you'll have to leave a comment asking because it's not the nicest of descriptions :-) - bet that's got you thinking.......Apologies for the pictures, but I still do not have a camera and I'm relying on the iPhone 3, which is not very good.

25g butter
splash of oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 green chillies (if it's too much 1 will do without the seeds
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
5 average size parsnips, diced
2 tbls curry powder
500ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper to season
250-500 water (maybe)
(serves 4 as starter)

Put the butter and oil into a pan, turn on the heat and let the butter melt.

Add the onion, chilli(es) and garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 5-10 minutes stirring to ensure the garlic doesn't burn

Throw in the parsnips and mix into the onion mixture

Add the curry powder, again stir into the mixture and cook for about 4-5 minutes

Add the vegetable stock and cook for 10-15 minutes. If you have a blender, blend until smooth. If like me you've only got a slotted spoon, mash all the ingredients together.

Add more water if it's too thick for you.

Serve with fresh warm crusty bread.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Paprika Beef Casserole

Being a typical Englishman, I watch the weather in the UK, even though I’m in Dubai, but hey that is what we do. I saw that the UK was suffering from a lot of snow and as usual, the country comes to a grinding halt. I don't know if it was jealousy or was it home sickness, but I really wanted to be there. Dubai is nearly always lovely and sunny, but I've been brought up with contrasting seasons, not just sunny with cooler temperatures. There is nothing like sitting in a warm house, with a beautiful white garden eating with friends a tasty slow cooked casserole. I guess I could just be romanticising because I'm not suffering the delayed public transport, the bitter cold winds and the grey nasty slush as the snow melts. So to commiserate with my UK colleagues I made a slow cooked beef casserole and shared it with some UK friends, who are also in Dubai, so that we could reminisce and chat about the weather as only people from the UK can do – for hours :-)

To make this meal as English as possible I was also serving mashed potatoes with lashing of butter, with those vile miniature cabbage like veggies – you know which ones I mean – Brussels sprouts. Why have them if you don't like I can hear you say, I am having friends over and they love them, so it would be unfair if I didn't serve them just because I am not a fan, although I can eat a few of them.

I cooked this the night before as I wanted the flavours of the paprika to really have as much time as possible to enhance the flavour of the beef. Also it would help the beef to break down the tough tissues to make it as tender as possible. I cooked the casserole for over 6 hours in two sittings, but you really don't have to cook it that long. 2 hours is fine, but trust me though it does taste better the longer you cook it, as my friends agreed.

  • 500g stewing beef
  • 2 tbsp paprika (smoked if you have it)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g white beans
  • 500g beef stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to season
  • (serves 4)

Pre-heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4

Take the stewing beef and mix in the paprika until it's covers all the beef

Take a heat resistant casserole dish and add the oil and bring to the high heat

Add a little of the beef at a time to brown. Once browned, remove and add some more beef. Repeat until all the beef has been browned.

Turn down the heat and add the onions and garlic and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft. Stirring occasionally to stop them from burning.

Add the beef and tinned tomatoes and stir altogether, trying to remove any bits stuck at the bottom of casserole dish.

Then add and stir in the tomato purée, white beans, beef stock, bay leaves. Do not add seasoning yet.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about an hour. Take the casserole dish out of the oven, turn down the heat to 150c/300f/gas 2

Stir the casserole and taste, then add any salt and pepper you require.

Cook for a minimum of 1 hour, but as I said earlier, the longer the better.

If the casserole looks like it's drying out, add more water.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Zesty Chicken and Root Stew

Just because I'm in Dubai where it's hot and warm, doesn't mean I still can't eat those comfort foods, that are perfect for cold weather. Recipes, like beef and rosemary casserole, beef and ale stew, Spanish chicken and chorizo are all perfect comfort foods for cold climates. But to be honest I don't care what the temperature, you can't beat stews or casseroles and this one is going to be added to my favourite list. This recipe is also perfect if you are run down, got a cold, or in my case, a hangover. As it's packed full of vitamins and minerals, its low in fat with the cleansing effects due to the lemon juice.

I wanted a big stew and so cut the vegetables as big as I can. I also want big pieces of onion so cut them Asian style, cutting against the grain. I actually only added the lemon juice at the last moment and it made a great recipe just a little different and much for the better in my opinion. My friend said that adding lemons to recipes is a very Greek thing, which is not something I was aware of. Apart from the turnip and sweet potato I didn't peel them, I just scrubbed the skin clean.

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut Asian style
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small carrots, diced into large chunks
  • 1 large parsnip, diced
  • 1 large turnip, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 potato, clean and diced
  • 1 leek, clean and diced
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin removed and de-boned, cut into large pieces
  • 700ml of chicken stock
  • 2 tsp fresh or dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper to season
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • (serves 4)

Place the oil into a large pan and heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic again stirring occasionally to stop it burning.

Add each vegetable to the pan, stirring into the mixture. Once all added cook for about 4-5 minutes again stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken and mix into the vegetables. Add the chicken stock, tarragon and season to taste.

Cook for a minimum of 20 minutes and just before you serve add the lemon juice.

Serve with fresh crusty bread or rice.

Apologies for the picture quality, but my camera is broken and had to use my old iPhone.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives

Happy New Year and I hope 2013 brings you, health, wealth and happiness. I also hope you enjoyed Christmas (if you celebrate it) and a great New Year. Now it's back to the normal day to day things, like work, exercising (need to after what I've eaten in the last two weeks) and trying new and exciting recipes. This recipe is a a great little recipe and perfect for cleansing the body after the excess of the festive period.

If you've looked around my blog, especially the recipes section you will see that I have made a lot more chicken dishes than any other. The reason for that is chicken tastes great, it's healthier than most other meats and it is very versatile. You can roast it, poach it, add it to stews, casseroles, barbecue it, the list is endless and I am always on the lookout for more chicken recipes and came across a great one by Angela Harnett. It's from her Taste of Home book, rrp £25, but lets be honest, would you expect a bad recipe from Angela H?

I am a BIG fan of the skin on chicken, especially when the chicken has been roasted and the skin is crispy and lightly covered in salt and pepper. But when it's been cooking in liquid the skin becomes slimy and not as tasty. For this recipe I left the skin on whilst cooking it to help add flavour then removed it when finished cooking, but you can leave it on if you prefer.

This is a really light and fresh recipe but be careful as if you add the lemon too early it can make the sauce very bitter. In fact next time I do this recipe I will not use the whole lemon, but will juice it and take off the rind and add that to the recipe.

The recipe says to just serve on it own in a bowl, but I was hungry and served it with cous cous but you could serve it with rice or with just some warm fresh crusty bread.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 chicken thighs or 4 chicken legs cut into two
  • 1 onion, cut Asian style
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 lemon sliced (or the rind and juice of a whole lemon)
  • 4 thyme twigs
  • 50g butter
  • 100mg water (or maybe less)
  • 200g tomatoes, quartered
  • 50g olives (black or green) or 25g of olive and 25g capers
  • salt and pepper to season.
  • (serves 4)

Heat the oil in a frying pan and brown each side of the chicken. Don't put to much chicken in the pan otherwise you'll end up stewing the chicken rather than browning it.

Once browned, add the chicken to a heat resistant casserole dish and add the sliced onion, crushed garlic, lemon, thyme, butter and 100ml of water and cook for about 15 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, olives and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the chicken is just done.

Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further 3-5 minutes. Add seasoning before serving, but personally I didn't need any salt

Serve in a bowl, with cous cous, rice or a fresh crusty bread.