28 May 2015

Sponsored Video: Yeni Raki

Slow down and chill out people! That’s the message from top UK chef Ollie Dabbous who has a problem with folk eating speedy dinners (we apologise in advance Ollie!).

Ollie’s UBER COOL restaurant Dabbous has teamed up with Yeni Raki – a twice distilled spirit derived from grapes, to launch a table in his restaurant dedicated to this spirit.

Ollie Dabbous
Popular in Turkey, Yeni Raki has complex flavours such as notes of fennel and an aniseed finish. In Ollie’s central London restaurant, which I understand is impossible to get a table at (until I’m proven otherwise), the Raki table facilitates slow eating which is where you'll truly appreciate Yeni Raki.

So, if the chef likes the idea of enjoying food and Yeni Raki on the slow side, then we will as well!

With a whiff of summer in the air and long lazy evenings, Ollie introduces us to a stunning BBQ lamb shoulder with pickled vine leaves, served with cracked wheat and a yogurt based sauce. He salts the lamb for two hours, gives it a good wash and dry, a generous drizzle of oil, then barbecues it in a rather interesting inside barbecue until tender. He then brushes the meat with rosemary and carefully flakes the meat into pieces. Ollie serves the lamb on a bed of cracked wheat, pinenuts, herbs and his amazing sauce – so lush looking that you probably shouldn’t watch this video at all if you are starving hungry!

This just leaves ones question then, will you be enjoying Yeni Raki in the ‘spirit of slow’ this summer?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Yeni Raki, all thoughts are our own.

26 May 2015

Gaylord Restaurant, Soho (Review)

Gaylord Restaurant, Soho

A good Indian restaurant can be hard to find. Gaylord Restaurant is one of London’s oldest and most elegant restaurants situated just North of Oxford Street and Soho. It’s going to be 50 years old next year!

With high ceilings, white walls and white table cloths adorned with red candles, it feels spacious, modern and more premium to one which you might find in your own local neighbourhood.

When we received the menu, all we wanted to do was touch it. The writing is embossed and the illustrations look expensive whilst the actual weight of the menu is surprisingly heavy. You just know from there on that the food is going to be well presented (unless proven otherwise of course).

Before we began, we were given complimentary poppadum's with some great dips including a rather moreish mango and lime combo. And for drink, although there was a good wine selection, we stuck with Cobra and Kingfisher beers!

To start with, we shared ‘Dilli Ki Aloo Tikki’ – small potato cakes filled with spices and lentils served with a rich tamarind chutney and yoghurt topping. I found this too rich but my vegetarian dining companion loved it! We also had a really fun starter – a taco with a truly Indian twist – paneer cheese with a mint dip and spring onions presented in what appeared to be a pink wire frame car – a first for me!

I opted for a prawn coconut curry with lime and spices. It wasn’t as hot as it should have been temperature wise and seemed to have too much surface oil. My dining partner had an amazing paneer curry which was very tasty and pretty to look at and was served with some beautiful naan breads!

Unfortunately, we were full by this stage and sadly couldn’t manage to eat a dessert.  If you like traditional Indian desserts such as ‘Gulab Jamun’ which is a popular Indian hot dessert made from cottage cheese and dipped in syrup – then this is your place!

Service was excellent with friendly waiting staff! Next time you want to grab an Indian in central London, do consider Gaylord for a memorable experience.

Address: 79-81 Mortimer Street,
               W1W 7SJ

Disclaimer:  We were invited to the restaurant for review purposes, all thoughts are our own.

25 May 2015

Crème Brûlée with Shortbread Spoons Recipe

Creme Brulee with Shortbread Spoons

Whilst we were in Paris I couldn't resist ordering crème brûlée for dessert but sadly it didn't live up to my expectations and when I returned home I decided to make my own.  I chose a recipe by Delia Smith which isn't the usual oven cooked version but a quick method where everything is cooked in one pan and produces a rich and creamy dessert.

Delia makes a caramel and pours this over the chilled desserts but I always like to top mine with demerara sugar and then use a blow torch to brown and caramelise the sugar.

I love breaking into the topping with a spoon and if the shortbread spoon breaks then this just adds to the fun!

Having made this version I still prefer the oven cooked version which I find is lighter and not quite so rich.

If you prefer more custard than topping then narrow deep ramekins are best but if you, like me, love the topping and prefer a shallow custard layer, then these shallow gratin dishes are ideal.

570ml double cream
6 large egg yolks
4 teaspoons cornflour
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
a few drops pure vanilla extract
demerara sugar

You will need: 6 small ramekins or 4 large ramekins - the dessert requires making a day in advance to give the custard a chance to chill down and set.

1.  Mix the egg yolks, cornflour, caster sugar and vanilla extract together.
2. Heat the cream in a saucepan until it reaches boiling point and then pour it over the egg yolks whilst beating with a whisk. Return the mixture to the saucepan.
3. Place the saucepan back onto a medium heat. Whisk until the sauce has thickened - which should only take a minute or two.
4.  Pour the custard into the ramekins and leave to cool. Cover each ramekin with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
5. Remove the ramekins from the fridge and cover each one with 1½ teaspoons of demerara sugar. Spray with a little water and then using a blow torch caramelise the sugar by moving the flame around until the sugar is caramelised.

If you fancy making the shortbread spoons........

Shortbread Spoons

You will need: a silicone spoon mould that is suitable for oven use
175g plain flour
75g caster sugar
175g salted butter, at room temperature
75g fine semolina
extra caster sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
2. Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and rub together until it resembles large breadcrumbs. Bring together to form a dough.
3. Take small pieces of the dough and press into the spoon moulds.  Place the mould on a metal tray.
4. Bake for approximately 1 hour until pale golden.
5. Place the mould onto a wire rack to cool. Remove the spoons carefully, any that break are the cooks treat.

23 May 2015

Boekenhutskloof The Wolftrap Rosé 2013 (Review)

The Wolftrap Rose Wine

We like to drink our rosé wine well chilled, preferably in the garden on a hot summers day and find it's perfect either on it's own or with food. We love the bright pink colour of this rosé and just look at that eye catching label. A refreshing dry wine with the taste of berries and a hint of spice.

Spritzers are fabulous on summer days - add a few ice cubes to your glass along with either raspberries, strawberries or mixed fruits, pour over some chilled wine, top with sparkling water and decorate with more fruit.

Country of Origin: South Africa
Brand: Boekenhutskloof
Current Price: £24.19 for a Case of 3 bottles.
Available Amazon.co.uk

Encona Spicy Marinades

We made our first barbecue a couple of weeks ago and fingers crossed that during this Bank Holiday the sun will shine and we'll manage to enjoy another one.

The Encona Moroccan Harissa Marinade is the perfect blend of chilli, with medium heat to give a fiery kick, along with a mix of fragrant spices and herbs. We marinaded chicken, red pepper and white onion kebab skewers but lamb will work equally well.  The cooked kebabs were delicious and full of the most amazing flavours. We were sent the Korean BBQ Marinade too and I'm looking forward to trying this out when we next have a barbecue.

RRP £1.99 Available at most supermarkets.

Disclaimer:  We were sent the above products for review purposes.

20 May 2015

Hardys Wine for International Chardonnay Day 23rd May 2015

Hardys Stamp Sparkling Chardonnay

I love bubbles and this Hardys Stamp Sparkling Pinot Chardonnay NV is stunning. Hubby opened the bottle and it went off with a very lively and impressive 'pop' which brought a smile to our faces. When poured into the glass there are lots of tiny bubbles and the well chilled medium-bodied drink went extremely well with our barbecue.
Available: Asda £8.99

We are amazed by the fascinating fact that 4,467 bottles of Chardonnay are sold every hour! Whilst we are in the mood for a few facts, Chardonnay is the main grape used in champagne,

Fingers crossed for warmer weather this weekend and to celebrate International Chardonnay Day on Saturday, 23rd May this new premium William Hardy Limestone Coast Chardonnay 2014, with a very impressive label, is a real winner.

William Hardy Limestone Coast Chardonnay

Food pairing recommendations are to go with fish and chips - we drank this crisp well balanced white wine with salmon and this is definitely a wine we will be putting in our basket on our next supermarket shopping day.
Available:Tesco/Asda/Morrisons/Ocado £9.99

Disclaimer:  We were sent the above wine for review.

13 May 2015

Peroni Cocktails at The Parlour Bar, Canary Wharf, London

Cocktail tasting The Parlour Bar, Canary Wharf, London
Don’t speak too soon but it looks like summer may finally be here. And if you're in any doubt, then let me present you with the evidence.

The Parlour Bar in London’s Canary Wharf have just launched their exclusive Peroni beer garden. Set under tall leafy trees is a charming wooden finished bar serving pints of beer and surprisingly - beer based cocktails.

If you have never had a beer based cocktail, you probably aren’t alone. I was a little sceptical when I heard about it and couldn’t really grasp how it would work. But OMG! These cocktails are without doubt some of the smartest we’ve tasted for a long time.

The Italian Spritz
With a mix of sugar, lemon, elderflower cordial, white wine, topped up with Peroni, this cocktail will be the most refreshing cocktail going on the hottest of balmy summer days.

The Italian Bramble
Bringing together sugar, lemon, crème de mure, Tanqueray and Peroni, this long drink was very moreish and a little too gluggable. Perfect come rain or shine!

Don’t forget to grab a fab sharing board as well. So for a taste of the La Dolce Vita, get yourself down to Canary Wharf soon, sharpish!

The Park Pavilion
40 Canada Square Park
E14 5FW

Disclaimer:  We were guests of The Parlour Bar, all thoughts are our own.

11 May 2015

Malted and White Bread Rolls

Salmon and Rocket Bread Roll
Salmon and Rocket Bread Roll
I'm in bread making mode at the moment and for me it doesn't matter a jot whether the dough is made in my breadmaker or in the food mixer, there's one thing for sure it won't be me kneading the dough for 10 minutes my arms just aren't strong enough!

I bought an artisan malted wheat flour from one of the discount stores, it was an amazing find, a bag of artisan 'OO' flour found it's way into my trolley too and I'm feeling pretty chuffed with my supermarket finds.

Baked Malted and White Bread Rolls
The baked rolls
The recipe I've used is for a breadmaker but it can be followed and adapted for a mixer using the dough hook. Just be sure to give the dough a first rise until doubled in size before shaping the bread rolls.

A reusable non-stick tray liner, also a find at the discount supermarket, is really useful it saves greasing an oven tray and then the dreaded washing up.

Makes: 12
1 tsp easy blend yeast
350g strong white bread flour
150g strong malted bread flour
1 tsp sea salt
15g butter
300ml water

1. Place the ingredients into the bread pan as per the instructions for your breadmaker.
2. Select the white dough option.
3. When the dough is ready turn out onto a silicone mat and knead to knock out the air.
4. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and shape into rolls.
5. Place them onto either a greased, floured or lined baking tray to prove.  I like to place mine fairly close together so they join up when they bake.

Dough rolls ready for rising

6. Cover the rolls with oiled clingwrap and leave to rise until double in size.
7. Preheat the oven to 220oC.
8. Remove the clingwrap and sprinkle some malted flour over each roll.

The risen bread rolls dough

  9. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
10. Place the rolls onto a wire rack to cool.

Malted and White Bread Rolls cooling

More bread inspiration:
Sunburst Rolls
Feta, Tomato and Rosemary Flowerpot Breads
Italian Style Bread