Category Archives: Food and Drink

Food and Drink

Cocktail masterclass London

I’m a gin or bourbon kinda gal, resorting to Vodka at a push on rare emergency occasions, so when Accor Hotels invited me along to a bloggers Rum masterclass last month I thought it was worth a shot (see what I did there?!) to broaden my spirit horizons.

If I’m honest, I’ve always been a bit funny about attending cocktail masterclasses. Maybe it’s because there are so many rubbish hen night ones with cheap alcohol and plastic glasses, but as an avid cocktail fan I never believed they could add much to my knowledge.

I am super pleased to say that I’ve found a cocktail masterclass in London worth attending. The cocktail masterclass at the Pullman Hotel in St Pancras was totally worth the trip; I met some lovely fellow bloggers, had a lot of fun and actually learnt a fair bit.

Case in point: when you’re making cocktails, always put the cheapest ingredient in first. That way you won’t ruin the spirits if you mess up. Smart, huh?

cocktail masterclass london st pancras

Before I ramble on, let’s get back to the cocktail masterclass. Above we have a photo of our lovely teacher, demonstrating how to shake a cocktail properly. She kept twelve of us on track after a couple of glasses of champagne each and some cheeky sips of rum. Bravo.
 
rum cocktail masterclass london

The workstations are really cute and super Instagrammable; just look at all the fun tools at your disposal! I had an inkling I was going to enjoy the masterclass when I saw an egg, lemon juice and vials of grenadine and red wine laid out ready and waiting.

rum cocktail masterclass st pancras

There were no budget spirits in this cocktail masterclass and I really did appreciate the variety of ingredients on offer. I learnt that there’s more to Rum than Bacardi and I had the opportunity to try some spirits and liqueurs I’d never had before.

cocktail masterclass st pancras

The space on the right was my working area, before I had a chance to mess it all up. The class is laid out really well so everyone can see the instructor and everyone has their own set of ingredients to use. I’m not sure if you can see it in the fruit bowl, but that bowl had everything in it! Limes, cherries, fresh mint, mango, dragon fruit…

bloggers cocktail masterclass london

We made four cocktails on the night. I’m pretty sure this one was a Jump into Guatamala (dark rum, amaretto, orange juice, pineapple and grenadine). The other cocktail recipes we learnt were for a Rum Sour, a Raspberry Espresso Martini and a Basil Pullman. The Raspberry Espresso Martini was my favourite 🍸

cocktail masterclass london

Here’s me and Emma (from Adventures of a London Kiwi) doing our best to keep our cocktail shakers from exploding. I think we did a pretty good job. Eventually.

I had a really fun evening but I guess the key question is whether I would pay to attend again – and the answer is a resounding yes. £35 for four cocktails on their own is practically a bargain by London hotel standards, and throw in a few friends and you have yourself a great night.

Thank you to Accor Hotels for inviting me along to the cocktail masterclass, and to Sammy for arranging it all. Special thanks to Attila Koroknai for the photos; let’s just say I’m not at my best behind the camera after four rum cocktails…

Courgetti Pad Thai Recipe with Satay Sauce

 Courgetti Pad Thai Recipe with Satay Sauce

To the unconverted courgetti sounds like some silly fad a marketing team cooked up to sell yet another kitchen gadget to the willing masses. Probably via endless picture perfect posts on Pinterest to make you think that you too could make three courgettes look more appetising than a steaming bowl of spaghetti.

I always feel a bit of a fraud when I blog a courgetti recipe, like I’m involved in some kind of weird spiraliser pyramid scheme that I’m not actually getting paid for. I barely believe myself when I write that courgetti actually tastes better than spaghetti with my favourite tomato sauce recipe, and I’m the one eating it.

Since moving I’ve been trying to make eating courgetti a weekly routine. Alex isn’t convinced and I do feel strangely guilty when I place a bowl of vegetables in front of him instead of something more traditionally substantial, but for now he’s pretending to enjoy every mouthful (although he is probably plotting a plausible kidnapping attempt on the spiraliser behind my back). 

So here I am, back to feeling like a fraud again because on the one hand I truly adore eating ribbon after ribbon of colourful veg but the other 50% stomaching my handiwork is not quite as convinced. Under any other circumstance I’d never blog a recipe that half the room didn’t really like, but then the sample size for this one is so small and I’m convinced any courgetti converts out there are going to love it, so let’s just get on with it…

Courgetti Pad Thai Recipe with Satay Sauce

Ingredients (serves two)

  • Two large courgettes
  • Two carrots
  • Half a cucumber 
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut milk
  • Garlic
  • Coriander 
  • Soy sauce
  • Lime
  • Fresh red chilies (optional)
  • Beansprouts (optional)
  • Crushed peanuts (optional)
  • Chicken / beef / tofu (optional)

Method

  1. Spiralise the courgettes, cucumber and carrot and put in a large mixing bowl
  2. Heat sesame oil on a low heat and then add one clove of crushed garlic
  3. Add half a tablespoon of light soy sauce followed by two tablespoons of peanut butter and stir
  4. Take sauce off the heat and pour in the coconut milk a tablespoon at a time until you get to a consistency you like
  5. Pour sauce on top of the vegetables and combine so all the vegetables are well coated
  6. Dish up and top with plenty of fresh coriander, red chillies, beansprouts, crushed peanuts and cooked meat or tofu (if using). Serve with a wedge of lime.


Five enticing bourbon cocktail recipes for every occasion

bourbon cocktail recipesFor years I flirted with gin and tequila but as I’ve grown up I’ve discovered bourbon and I can’t imagine going back. I’ll still be sipping G&T’s on a spring day and you better believe that Tequila and Vodka will always have a home on the bar cart, but the spirit I consistently want more than any other is bourbon.

I think bourbon has become a firm favourite because there is literally a bourbon cocktail recipe for every occasion. From a hot toddy to soothe a winter cold to a mint julep on a hot summer’s day, there are numerous bourbon cocktail recipes for every occasion. Every occasion. Not sure how many times I need to write that until I convince you, but I’m going to stop with that because if you’ve read this far you’re probably a die-hard bourbon fan who doesn’t need convincing. Hello, friend.

Bourbon cocktail recipes for every occasion

A refreshing bourbon spiked iced tea

bourbon cocktail recipesIt’s summer. It’s hot outside. All you want to do is cool down on the porch. It’s time to make and enjoy a pitcher of iced tea.

Read more: Bourbon iced tea recipe

When you’re craving mamma’s apple pie

bourbon cocktail recipesWhen you need a slice of mamma’s tasty apple pie, drink your sorrows away (responsibly) with a bourbon cocktail that tastes just like it. Best not served with custard, but who am I to judge. (This recipe tastes much better than it looks!)

Read more: Apple pie cocktail recipe

A grown-up ginger ale float

bourbon cocktail recipesLike a coke float, just with ginger ale instead. And bourbon.

Read more: Bourbon ginger ale float recipe

Doctor’s Orders when you’re under the weather

bourbon cocktail recipesA little recipe I created for when you’re feeling really under the weather.

Read more: Doctor’s Orders recipe

A Hot Toddy on a winter’s day

bourbon cocktail recipeThe ultimate bourbon cocktail recipe? 100% guaranteed to warm you up on the coldest of winter days.

Read more: hot toddy recipe

What’s your favourite bourbon cocktail recipe?

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Doctor’s Orders at South Place Hotel bar

south place hotel bar london

Woodford Reserve bourbon masterclass at South Place Hotel bar London

 

I have some super exciting news… A cocktail recipe I created is going to be on the menu at a real bar!

Seriously, a real bar guys. One with more bottles of alcohol than you can imagine and really comfy seats and one where people may even pay money to drink my drink.

For a girl who grew up creating some seriously weird concoctions in her kitchen this is kind of a big deal. Just think Mum and Dad, all those times you painfully sipped mocktail after mocktail led to this. That hybrid of golden syrup, orange juice, coke and lime cordial was totally worth gulping down.

A month ago I was invited to a Woodford Reserve masterclass at the South Place Hotel bar. Obviously I’m going to enjoy any evening with bourbon as the focus and I had a really lovely time. We all had the opportunity to go away and create our own take on a classic American cocktail and I’m pleased to say that my creation, a little number called Doctor’s Orders, won.

The prize is a place on the menu at the South Place Hotel bar in London, a rather swell place close to Liverpool Street station. I’m not sure when the cocktail will go on the menu but when you see photos of me ordering cocktail after cocktail on Instagram you’ll know it’s available.

In the meantime feel free to make it yourself at home!

Thanks (again) to Woodford Reserve, Stir PR and South Place Hotel bar for the opportunity and for giving me a ‘fact that nobody knows about you’ answer I can use in every awkward team building exercise for the rest of my life.

P.S. you might like this London cheesecake recipe

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The best coffee shops in London to be alone

When I first started this post I’d just met Alexandra for the first time over coffee. We bonded over a mutual appreciation of spending time alone, and briefly discussed the best coffee shops in London to visit alone.

I thought ‘what a great idea for a blog post’ but here we are, two months later, and I’m only just ready to hit publish. I guess I haven’t had much time alone recently to write about being alone!

Now when I talk about being alone, I’m talking about really being alone. As in no laptop, iPad or mobile phone for company. In a world dominated by technology it’s really refreshing to switch off and look straight ahead instead of always looking down. Strange? Certainly. But totally worth it every now and then.

Today I want to share two places I’m comfortable sitting alone in the ‘I’m happy with my own company’ sense, not the freelancer / blogger laptop friendly sense. That’s a whole other blog post right there…

The best coffee shops in London to be alone

nordic bakery coffee shops in london

Coffee with egg and pickled herring on Rye, Nordic Bakery Soho

Louis Patisserie, Hampstead

Louis in Hampstead is a Hungarian patisserie that will bring out the creativity in you. If you can’t decide what cake you want they’ll bring a tray of the most beautiful delights to your table so you can choose. The coffee and hot chocolate are excellent and they also serve loose leaf tea in teacups like your Nana has which is just the best. I love going there with friends but it’s also a place I love to be in alone.

I’m not a hugely sociable person but it’s the one place I go where I don’t mind being disturbed. Whenever I’ve been there alone, lost in a poetry anthology I’ve purchased from one of my favourite independent London bookshops, someone has always struck up a conversation.

I’ve had wonderful conversations about Sylvia Plath, art and poetry workshops in London with strangers in Louis. They’ve been special conversations because I’ve genuinely gained something from them. After all, how often do you speak to someone, let alone a stranger, and gain something inspirational from them?

Find Louis Patisserie: 32 Heath Street, Hampstead (no website)

Nordic Bakery, Soho

My second favourite coffee shop in London to be alone could not be more different from Louis. If Louis represents all that it old and great, the Nordic Bakery stands for everything modern and new. Louis is ornate. Nordic Bakery is minimalistic. Staff wear the cutest denim aprons, the coffee is rocket fuel and I feel like I’m in a different vibrant city every time I visit.

I’ve been to Nordic Bakery plenty of times with other people, but it’s also a place I feel happy sitting alone. Nobody ever starts talking to you in Nordic Bakery. I take a book or pick up a newspaper, and as long as it’s not busy I’ll sit there for a while, gradually making my way through the few dishes on offer. Usually egg and pickled herring on rye. Maybe followed by a cinnamon bun.

Find Nordic Bakery: 14a Golden Square, Soho (www.nordicbakery.com)

I’m not sure I could pick a favourite. Louis is full of creatives. Nordic Bakery is full of trendy media types. There’s a time and a place for both.

Do you have any other recommendations for me? My inner loner is always on the lookout for a new coffee shop to be alone in!

Courgetti recipe with tomato sauce

Courgetti recipe with tomato sauce

The worst thing about Passover is that you can’t eat pasta. And I love pasta. It’s quick and easy to make (you know I’m obsessed with one dish 30 minute meals) and it always tastes good. It’s one of those ingredients you can’t mess up, no matter how hard you try!

The other good thing about pasta is how versatile it is. In winter it’s great with a heavy bolognaise, and in summer I like to make a smaller portion with lemon, rocket and roasted tomatoes.

The fact I can’t rely on this staple at Passover kills me. Two days in I’m sick of meat, I’m sick of potatoes and I’m sick of matzah. So what’s a hangry girl to do? Make courgetti of course!

I’ve put together a little courgetti FAQ for any courgetti newbies…

Courgetti FAQ

What is courgetti?

Courgetti is courgette spiralised to look like strands of spaghetti.

Is courgetti kosher for Passover?

Courgetti is kosher for Passover. The only ingredient is courgette.

Do I need a spiraliser to make courgetti?

No, you don’t need a spiraliser to make courgetti. I bought a small one for eight dollars when I was in California and it has made making courgetti easier, but you can do it yourself with a standard peeler.

If you have any other courgetti questions leave a comment and I’ll get back to you with an answer!

Now for my favourite courgetti recipe – courgetti with tomato sauce.

Courgetti recipe with tomato sauce

Serves two. Double or triple the recipe as needed.

Ingredients
Three courgettes
One tin of tomatoes
One onion
Garlic clove
Anchovies (optional)
Grated cheese (optional)

Method
Spiralise three courgettes. Set aside.

In a frying pan gently fry one chopped onion until soft. Add garlic and chopped anchovies if using. After a minute add the tin of chopped tomatoes to the pan and leave on the heat until the tomatoes reduce. Add any fresh or dried herbs you’d like to include (I love fresh basil).

In another pan heat a splash of oil over a high heat. Add the courgettes and gently stir for two minutes. You want to warm the courgettes, not make them soggy.

Put the courgetti in a bowl and pour the tomato sauce on top. Serve with grated cheese on top, if you’d like.

Other courgetti recipes

Courgetti is extremely versatile and you could make lots of different toppings. You could make a tomato and tuna sauce, use courgetti instead of spaghetti to make this avocado spaghetti recipe or top with your favourite bolognaise recipe instead.

Enjoy!

P.S. You might like this kosher for Passover sweet potato burger recipe too. And you should break your pastry fast with this London cheesecake recipe!

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Doctor’s Orders: an Old Fashioned recipe

old fashioned recipe

UPDATE: I won! You’ll be able to order your very own Doctor’s Orders bourbon cocktail at the South Place Hotel bar in the near future. More details here if you’re interested!

For years gin was my tipple of choice. Gin and Tonics, gin and elderflower cocktails, gin in teacups… I was your walking talking gin-lovin-early-twenty-somethin gin stereotype, and it was great.

Then two years ago something magical happened. I discovered bourbon, and I’ve never looked back.

Sure, I’ll have a G&T on Christmas Day. Perhaps even in a beer garden in the height of summer. But when it comes to what I really want to drink and making my own cocktails, it’s bourbon all the way. Whether it’s a hot toddy in winter or a bourbon ginger ale float in the summer (or neat in a good glass just about whenever) I can’t get enough.

A few weeks ago I joined some fellow bloggers and bourbon enthusiasts for a Woodford Reserve masterclass at South Place hotel with Tom Vernon, Woodford Reserve’s ambassador (best job ever?).

woodford reserve south place hotel

Aged for seven and a half years on average, Woodford Reserve is one of my favourite bourbons to drink. It has cherry and caramel undertones and is on the sweeter side of the spectrum, which I think makes it a great introductory bourbon. I get a hit in the back of my throat just smelling the stuff.

old fashioned south place

On the night we were treated to an Old Fashioned which went down oh so perfectly on a Monday night. Afterwards we were told to think about our own cocktails, and were given an opportunity to get our own bourbon cocktail recipe served at South Place hotel.

So here’s my shot. I’ve reimagined a classic American bourbon cocktail and created my very own Old Fashioned recipe. It’s called Doctor’s Orders and I hope it will make you feel better. Even if you’re already feeling pretty good.

Doctor’s Orders: an Old Fashioned recipe

A traditional Old Fashioned recipe features sugar, bitters, orange and bourbon. Today I’m switching the sugar and orange for honey and lemon, two magical ingredients that perk you up when you’re not feeling your best.

If honey syrup sounds complicated, it’s not. Just mix equal parts of honey and water over a low heat and let cool before adding to the cocktail.

You could switch the angostura bitters for your own homemade lemon bitters, but after experimenting I decided not to. The lemon should slice through the sweetness of the honey but shouldn’t be the focus of the drink.

I also tried using a honey liquor that we had in the cabinet, but decided against using it. For me an Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail that can be rustled up anywhere as everyone should have access to the ingredients. Most people don’t have honey liquor at home so for me that was a deal-breaker.

Ingredients

Woodford Reserve bourbon
Angostura bitters
Lemon
Honey syrup
Ice

Method

Mix a single measure of honey syrup with a small squeeze of lemon in a glass. Add a couple of drops of bitters and a double measure of bourbon. Top with a small handful of ice cubes. Stir gently and garnish with a slice of lemon.

Thanks to Woodford Reserve and Stir PR for a great night, and good luck to all the other bloggers participating! Can’t wait to try making all of your cocktails.

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The best tomato and spinach soup recipe

tomato and spinach soup recipe

A few years ago I met some friends in Oxford. It was a typically British wet and windy day and I got soaked on my way to the station. By the time I got to Oxford a couple of hours later I was still wet, shivery and well on my way to having a cold.

We met at Oxford station and, surprise surprise, it was still raining. At this point we decided to forego a leisurely search for a nice restaurant and settled on a Jamie’s Italian a couple of streets away.

I don’t remember much about the meal, aside from the excellent company, and the tomato soup. The tomato soup was great. Chunks of juicy tomato and plenty of pepper. Naturally I’ve spent the last couple of years trying to replicate it at home.

Before you get your hopes up, this tomato and spinach soup recipe isn’t a replica of the Jamie Oliver starter that still features in my dreams. Instead it’s my healthy, nutritious and tasty mistake – a sidetrack supper on my way to ultimate tomato soup success.

Tomato and spinach soup recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tin cherry or chopped tomatoes
  • Passata
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 100g spinach
  • 1 tin cannellini beans
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • Chili flakes
  • Tablespoon of oil
  • Splash of red wine
  • Bay leaf

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large pan on a low light. Add the onions and gently sweat. After 15 minutes add finely chopped garlic and a sprinkling of chili flakes.

After 10 minutes add the tinned tomatoes, passata and splash of red wine, stirring to combine. Bring to the boil and allow to reduce.

Once reduced add the cannellini beans, vegetable stock and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and then allow to simmer for two hours.

Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach, stir and serve.

Sushi making class at Kuriya Keiko restaurant

Last week the nice people at Zomato invited me to a blogging event. I rarely meet any fellow bloggers so to do so, over food and cocktails, was an absolute treat. The bloggers I met on the night were interesting, entertaining and such fun to be around. Plus they didn’t judge me for photographing my food before eating it :p

plumtini cocktail kuriya keiko

We met at Kuriya Keiko, a restaurant and sushi making cookery school in Holloway. I arrived slightly flustered after train delays but quickly settled down with a plumtini cocktail. I was expecting a tooth decayingly sweet mocktail but the plumtini was sumptuous. I’m not entirely sure what was in it but it warmed me up a treat.

kuriya keiko cookery school

After we’d settled in Keiko welcomed us and invited us over to the cookery school area. We each received an apron and another plumtini, the consumption of which I’m going to blame on my rather messy sushi rolls…

It was the first cookery class I’d been to and I thought there was a great balance between learning something new and still having fun. It was a relaxed, light-hearted environment and I still managed to come away with a new skill. A lot of that is down to an excellent teacher and I’d definitely recommend the class to anyone looking for a basic understanding of how to make sushi.

sushi making class kuriya keiko

After making our first round of sushi rolls we moved onto the slightly more complicated inside out rolls.

tofu gyoza kuriya keiko

Keiko whipped up a batch of gyozas whilst we ate our homemade sushi and miso soup, then we tucked into the gyozas (veggie for me with garlic chives, cabbage and edamame).

Everything was delicious and we were also treated to a glass of Nigori Sake at this point. I’ve only ever drunk sake when I’ve sneaked a sip from someone else’s glass and I’ve never really enjoyed it. The Nigori Sake though… wow. It was unlike anything else I’ve tasted before and was quite a treat. Apparently it’s from Tsukino-katsura, the oldest brewery in Fushimi, Kyoto, and it’s exclusively served at Kuriya Keiko in the UK. Just one of the many reasons to go back.

tofu katsu kuriya keiko

After the sake we headed back to the restaurant area where dinner was served. At this point I was pretty full but managed to squeeze a few pieces of katsu tofu in. And some yuzu kosho chicken. And the best salmon teriyaki I’ve ever had. Needless to say I was pretty full by the time I left.

Have I said how nice a time I had enough already? I’d definitely recommend it as a cookery school and I think I’ll be heading back there for dinner the next time I’m in the area. Huge thanks once again to Kuriya Keiko for the class, fellow bloggers for a lovely evening and Alexandra from Zomata for organising the whole shebang.

Find out more about Kuriya Keiko here

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Strawberry tequila cocktail recipe

strawberry tequila cocktail recipe

Dry January didn’t last very long. Last Friday night I just needed to get creative in the kitchen and ended up making a Strawberry Tequila fizz. There was a small amount of champagne leftover which had lost most of it’s fizz that I couldn’t bring myself to throw away, and a handful of almost gone strawberries that needed to be used up. Add a bit of lime and the last drop of tequila taking up space in the cupboard and ta-dah, the perfect ingredients for this strawberry tequila fizz cocktail recipe.

After three weeks of no alcohol, only the odd cup of tea and lots of water I craved something with colour and flavour. This ticked the colour and flavour boxes and I savoured it more than ever. The Friday night cocktail service has resumed.

I used champagne, but prosecco or sparkling wine will do the job too. I wouldn’t buy a bottle of anything sparkling especially for this recipe, unless you love this recipe so much and want to make it en masse for a party. Personally I’m not a fan of putting perfectly good champagne in a cocktail, and only make champagne cocktails from the leftover remnants at the bottom of the bottle that nobody had the capacity to drink the previous night.

Similarly don’t rush out for strawberries if you have raspberries in the fridge already. I haven’t tried it, but I reckon blackberries would work well too. The drink has the potential to be pretty potent so if you’re serving it in a tumbler instead of a champagne glass, keep an eye on the amount you’re pouring out.

Strawberry tequila cocktail recipe

  • Tequila
  • Leftover champagne
  • Strawberries
  • Lime

Take four soft strawberries and chop them into small chunks. Place in a jug and muddle until all the juice has been released. Squeeze a quarter of a lime into the jug and sieve into a glass. Top with champagne.

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