Tag Archives: food

Bill’s secret Marmite menu

Years ago we had family friends who lived in Brighton. Every now and then we’d head down to see them, stopping at this little independent restaurant called Bill’s for brunch on the way.

Today Bill’s is a nationwide chain, with branches up and down the country looking just like the original. Amazingly the quality of the food and drink hasn’t changed either.

As a huge Marmite fan I was very excited to be invited to try a secret Marmite menu they were offering at the end of January.

marmite menu bills restaurant

Choosing what to eat didn’t take long. For £12 you got a fancy cheese on toast and a Bloody Mary (or for £10 you got the toast and a Virgin Mary).

marmite bloody mary

The Marmite Bloody Mary was good. Really good. Bill’s have always done a decent Bloody Mary but the mix of Chivas Regal whisky, Harvey’s Bristol Cream and a Marmite reduction gave it an extra special hit.

You needed a large appetite to get through the cheese on toast.

marmite cheese on toast

Two slices of crunchy sourdough swimming in melted cheese and Marmite. And topped with two perfectly runny poached eggs.

bill's poached egg

We got a side of broccoli because we’re healthy like that.

broccoli bills restaurant

And I gotta say that it’s the best broccoli I’ve ever had in a restaurant. It pretty much deserves it’s own garlicky, crunchy and flavoursome review.

When the bill came we were presented with two cute little Marmite samples to take home with us. I’ll be saving mine for a pimped up Bloody Mary.

mini marmite sachet

It’s the perfect brunch but we ate this for dinner because we like to do crazy things like eat breakfast for dinner sometimes.

Essentially a Bill’s brunch is the perfect meal whatever time of day, whether you’re a Marmite fan or not. And what other national chain can you think of that could serve perfectly cooked poached eggs every. single. time. you visit?

Our meal was complimentary but as always all views are my own.

5 dishes you have to eat in Rome

tartufo food to eat in rome

One of the best things about going on holiday is the opportunity to try new food, whether that’s eating all the Pho in Thailand or all the frites in Belgium.

On our recent trip to Rome it was a little harder to find dishes we hadn’t eaten before. Italian food is a staple part of the British diet, and although Spaghetti Bolognese and a Margherita pizza almost certainly tastes better in Italy, we were keen to try as many Roman dishes as possible.

What to eat in Rome

Roman artichokes

They say the only food you can live off exclusively is the avocado, which is a real shame because if I had to eat only one dish for the rest of my life the deep fried artichokes I had in Rome would be a serious contender.

The best artichokes I ate in Rome were from a little restaurant in what was the Jewish ghetto. After all, where better to eat carciofi alla giudia than where the dish was invented centuries ago? The fried artichokes were heavily salted and absolutely delicious. Worth the Ryanair fare alone if we’re being honest.

Tartufo

Large enough for two to share, the Tartufo at Tre Scalini is the richest, most decadent thing you’ll eat in Rome – and that’s saying something.

The famed Tartufo was created in 1946 uses 13 varieties of Swiss chocolate. If that’s not rich enough for you, it’s topped with whipped cream and a wafer too. It’s mightily expensive (in fact two coffees and a Tartufo cost more than lunch with wine earlier that day) but if you want something chocolatey this is the place to visit. Plus Tre Scalini is in Piazza Navona so you can tick Bernini’s fountain off the list too…

Aperol Spritz

After a wander through the streets of Rome nothing is quite as refreshing before dinner as an Aperol Spritz. Best enjoyed seated outside a small bar for ample people watching opportunities.

This cocktail isn’t exclusive to Rome although nothing says La Dolce Vita meets the 21st century quite like Aperol and Prosecco topped up with soda.

Pizza Bianca

Pizza is pizza, right? Wrong. Not all pizza is created even, and Pizza Bianca is up there with the greats. Think a foccacia style base sold by the square and crisp on the outside.

I’m sure every Roman has a best Pizza Bianca place, but I bought a great slice from an always busy hole in the wall joint in Trastevere called I Suppli.

Cacio e Pepe

Fresh homemade pasta. Tons of Parmesan. Plenty of black pepper.

The simplest dishes are nearly always the best and Cacio e Pepe would be my go to dish if I lived in Rome. I won’t even attempt to make this at home as it relies on fresh al dente pasta to make it remotely edible.

I had this on our first night in Rome in a little restaurant in Trastevere. It took everything I had not to go back every night just to eat it all again.

These are my favourite foods to eat in Rome – what are yours?

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Roasted tomato quinoa salad with hummus recipe

roasted tomato quinoa salad with hummus recipe
I’ve been on a bit of a health kick recently (I bought a NutriBullet and it’s not gathering dust in the corner) and then I came down with a cold. You’re meant to feed a cold, but all mine wanted was carbs, chocolate and crisps.

Chocolate and crisps had been banished from the flat, so that just left the carbs. Thankfully laziness kicked in so I didn’t have to test my self restraint; I remembered there was a batch of quinoa in the fridge already cooked and ready to eat.

Quinoa mixed with chopped cucumber and rocket isn’t the most desirable of lunches so I decided to take it up a notch with the other ingredients I had on hand. I had some leftover tomatoes lying around that needed using up so I shoved them in the oven on a low temperature to slowly cook.

Once the tomatoes looked nice and roasted I emptied a tin of chickpeas into the NutriBullet along with a spoonful each of tahini and olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a little water and a couple of garlic cloves.

30 seconds later I dished up the quinoa and tomatoes and dolloped a generous spoonful of hummus on top, adding a sprinkle of sunflower seeds on top for good measure. A nutritious, nourishing lunch that even kept those chocolate cravings at bay.

Roasted tomato quinoa salad recipe

Ingredients

  • Quinoa
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Rocket
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hummus

Method

Quarter your tomatoes and place in the oven for 30 minutes on a low heat. Cook quinoa according to packet instructions (instructions vary). Once quinoa is cooked and has cooled add to mixing bowl along with the tomatoes, chopped cucumber and rocket and mix well.

Serve with a dollop of homemade hummus on top and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

Hummus recipe

Ingredients

  • Tin of chickpeas
  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Tahini
  • Olive oil
  • Water

Method

Rinse the chickpeas in cold water and place in NutriBullet. Add the garlic, tahini (if you don’t have tahini use more oil), olive oil, lemon and a couple of tablespoons of water. Blend. Check hummus and add more olive oil or water to adapt the texture to your taste.

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Nordic Bakery Cookbook

nordic bakery cookbook

Earlier this summer I was invited to breakfast at the Nordic Bakery near Baker Street. The Nordic Bakery in Golden Square has long been one of my favourite places to relax in London so it was nice to visit another of their locations.

I had the pleasure of meeting some lovely bloggers on the day as well as Miisa Mink. Miisa co-owns Nordic Bakery, wrote the Nordic Bakery Cookbook and does a ton of other interesting stuff too. I have a feeling that if you want to learn how to use your time effectively to make it count Miisa is the person you need to speak to!

When I spoke to her over breakfast that day at Nordic Bakery it was just before my birthday and I must have let that little detail slip. Lo and behold, a signed copy of the Nordic Bakery
Cookbook made its way to me to celebrate and I’ve been celebrating with it ever since.

My favourite cake recipes so far are the Banana Cake and the Orange and Poppy Seed Cake. They’ve turned out perfectly each time which so rarely happens and the flavours are outstanding. Nothing is showy or overbearing, everything is just perfectly balanced and a delight to eat. I’m yet to try my hand and the bread recipes but I’m confident that if I follow the directions they’ll be a success.

You don’t have to watch The Bridge or be obsessed with white floorboards to enjoy Nordic food. If you’re yet to try any Scandinavian food please dip your toes in the water with a trip to Nordic Bakery. I heartily recommend (and am quietly salivating over) the herring and egg sandwich followed by a hefty cinnamon bun, all washed down with a strong flat white. You can visit with friends, but if I’m honest, the Nordic Bakery is most enjoyable when you just need that hour alone.

Dinner and cocktails at Mamounia Lounge Mayfair

A little while ago we headed across London to Mamounia Lounge Mayfair for dinner and cocktails. They’d invited us down to sample the new Chef Specials and who am I, queen of fusion, to turn down the opportunity to try a new take on Lebanese and Morrocan food?

Word of warning – my photos are seriously awful. It’s super dark in Mamounia Lounge which I like but that means my poor phone couldn’t snap a decent shot :(

Thankfully unlike my take on fusion, which is usually accidental and only happens because I’ve run out of ingredients and sure cumin is going to work just fine with leftover Vietnamese basil, the fusion dishes at Mamounia Lounge actually worked.

It was a Saturday evening so naturally we started the night with cocktails. You don’t generally associate Lebanese or Moroccan restaurants with excellent cocktails so I was surprised to see an extensive list of options to choose from. I tried the classic Mamounia which was like a mojito. It was excellent; incredibly sharp with an underlying sweetness to take the edge off the acidity. Similarly Alex’s Charlie Sheen was far more flavoursome than I expected; I’m not one for fruity cocktails but I could have drunk those all night.

After a round of drinks we tucked into a couple of starters. The homous with truffle was presented beautifully and had just the right amount of truffle. When it comes to homous I’m a traditionalist, but as I eat homous all the time it was good to go out and eat something different to what I eat most days of the week.

The second starter we shared were the sardines. I love sardines but they’re often presented in an unappetising manner and that puts some people off. This is definitely a dish even newbie sardine fans can enjoy. Even my nan would have liked them as they weren’t too fishy!


Personally I think starters are the best part of every meal so I easily could have ordered everything on the menu and enjoyed a mezze main. However we were keen to try more of the fusion menu so we ordered the sea bass and the stuffed vegetables to share.

There were two pieces of sea bass on the plate alongside some vegetables. This was plenty for me but those with larger appetites might need a side or two. Alex ate most of the stuffed vegetables but the mouthfuls I had were really good. Each vegetable was stuffed with a different filling, so even vegetarians get a bit of variety for once!

Pretty full we were just going to share a selection of briouat for dessert, but we were tempted into trying the chocolate fondant too. The fondant was cooked perfectly and the briouat went down nicely alongside a welcome glass of mint tea.


This isn’t the usual type of place I’d visit but I had a thoroughly lovely time. The service was excellent and on a Saturday night the live music and belly dancer make it a really fun place to visit. I’m looking forward to going back one summer evening for shisha on the pavement upstairs!

Our meal at Mamounia Lounge Mayfair was complimentary but as usual my views are all my own honest thoughts. A big thank you to Abby for organising and to everyone at Mamounia Lounge Mayfair for a lovely evening.

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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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The best chicken avocado salad recipe

best chicken avocado salad recipe

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I think avocado might just be my favourite food in the entire world. Avocado slices on toast with chilli flakes. Homemade guacamole. Avocado spaghetti. And chicken avocado salad. Especially this shredded chicken version, which is the best chicken avocado salad recipe I’ve ever guessed my way into creating.

It’s not the prettiest looking chicken avocado salad in the world, but then anything that has shredded chicken in it rarely is. What I like best though about this chicken avocado salad recipe is that it is a substantial salad. A salad that is actually a meal, not just a few leaves on your plate. It’s filling, nutritious and really tasty too.

Crispy lettuce, shredded chicken and ripe avocados keeping each other company in the salad bowl. Mingling with lime juice and fresh coriander. And complimented perfectly by a non-alcoholic mojito (recipe coming soon…).

The best chicken avocado salad recipe

Ingredients (serves two):

  • Leftover chicken or two chicken fillets
  • Two ripe avocados
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Juice of half a lime
  • One clove of garlic
  • Olive oil

Method:

Peel the first avocado and place it in a blender with half the lime juice, a clove of garlic, chopped coriander, chopped mint and a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Set aside.

If you’re using leftover chicken shred it into small pieces with two folks. Alternatively poach your two uncooked chicken fillets by placing them in a pan of cold water (ensuring the water covers the chicken by an inch) and bringing to a boil. After boiling for 10 minutes simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and not pink inside. Leave to cool for thirty minutes before shredding.

Put the shredded chicken in a bowl and mix with the avocado mixture until combined. Chop the lettuce, cucumber and second avocado and place in serving bowl. Top with the chicken mixture and serve.

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Fancy china, delicate finger sandwiches, arguments about whether the cream or jam goes first on the scone, tiers of cakes, maybe even a cheeky glass of champagne. Is there anything quite as delightful as afternoon tea?

My friend Katie had been asking us to go to the Prêt-a-Portea Berkeley afternoon tea with her for years and eventually we caved in (such a hardship…). So one Saturday afternoon we put on our best frocks, met at Hyde Park Corner station and prepared ourselves for a decadent feast.

The Berkeley Afternoon Tea

Berkeley afternoon tea

The Prêt-a-Portea afternoon tea is inspired by, you guessed it, fashion. The menu is transformed every six months to follow the changing seasons in fashion and we were able to enjoy Autumn/Winter 2013.

Paul Smith china

Afternoon tea is served on this fine-bone china by Paul Smith for Thomas Goode. How pretty is it?! I love the bright colours and they really brighten up the tables in the Caramel room where tea is served.

Paul Smith china

The tea menu at the Berkeley was good. The choice isn’t huge but sometimes that’s a good thing as who really wants to spend fifteen minutes reading a list of teas? You can order as much tea as you want and you can change your tea from pot to pot. In the end I simply went for the Berkeley blend which was perfect, followed by a pot of fresh mint tea at the end.

Prêt-a-Portea sandwiches

After you’ve chosen your tea it’s time for the sandwiches. Between us we had a vegetarian, pescetarian and someone who is gluten free so our plates of sandwiches varied slightly but we all thought they were delicious. But to be on the safe side, we happily agreed to a second serving of sandwiches just to make sure.

Prêt-a-Portea savouries

Next we tried a selection of savoury treats. I’m not entirely sure what was what but it was nice. By this point we needed something sweet and really wanted to try the cakes…

Prêt-a-Portea cakes

Can you blame us? Talk about something that almost looks too good to eat.

Burberry Prorsum heart patterned ginger biscuit trench with caramel icing

First up, the Burberry Prorsum heart patterned ginger biscuit trench with caramel icing. It might be the closest I get to the real thing so I savoured every bite! It was nice but a bit more ginger would have been great.

Prêt-a-Portea cakes

This plate of cakes was the business. They looked too good to eat but that didn’t stop us. I did wonder whether it would be a case of design over substance but I needn’t had feared – these were some of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. My favourite was the Giles antique gold chocolate feather set on a base of Sacher torte. Although the Saint Laurent essential Autumn red “Classic Duffle 6” Victoria sponge cake bag came in a close second.

Prêt-a-Portea cakes

Afternoon tea wasn’t quite perfect – we were missing our fifth spice girl! She’s off in California so we thought we’d let her know what she was missing out on. Anything to keep her away from kale smoothies.

Prêt-a-Portea doggy bags

Just when we couldn’t eat anymore the prettiest doggy bags turned up at our table. I’ve never treated a handbag so well in my life; getting those treats home safe and sound on the tube was a mission!

At £39 a head, Prêt-a-Portea at the Berkeley isn’t an everyday indulgence. It’s a lot of money for some tea and cakes but we spent a good three hours there chatting, having fun and eating some lovely food. It’s a special treat, an excuse to dress up and something to look forward to (you need to book months in advance).

We’re now thinking where to go next for afternoon tea later this year. I’m a big fan of The Modern Pantry but would like to try somewhere new – any suggestions?

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Sweet potato burgers recipe

passover sweet potato burgers recipe At Passover food is limited, and for those of us who hate matzo you can end up eating a lot more meat than you usually would. This isn’t ideal so I spend a lot of time in the kitchen trying to create healthy, kosher for Passover alternatives.

I love burgers so I thought it was about time I tried making a vegetarian one. The trouble with veggie burgers is that you usually need breadcrumbs to help them bind as the ingredients are quite wet. Although you don’t need matzo meal for this recipe, a thin coating on the outside of the patties before they are baked will ensure they don’t stick to the tray.

These veggie burgers are made from sweet potato which is filling, nutritious and tasty. They are also super cheap to make (essential for balancing out the more expensive meat meals at Passover) and the recipe is scalable, so you can modify the ingredients to your own needs. These will keep for a couple of days in the fridge and I reckon you could freeze a batch too, although I haven’t tried that myself. For the Sephardis out there adding some beans of your choice will help bulk the burgers out and provide more nutrients.

Passover sweet potato burgers recipe (makes 8 burgers)

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 egg
  • Sprinkling of matzo meal

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees (fan).
  2. Pierce the sweet potatoes and cook in the microwave for eight minutes until soft.
  3. Whilst the sweet potatoes are cooking, crush the garlic and dice the green pepper and onion. Mix together in a bowl.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are cooked scoop out the flesh and mash with a fork. Mix the sweet potatoes with the onions, garlic and green pepper.
  5. Crack an egg into the mixture and mix until combined. Add a sprinkling of matzah meal if you don’t want the burgers too soft in the middle.
  6. Make eight balls from the mixture, roll in matzah meal and place on a baking tray (ideally non stick and use baking paper). Use your hand to flatten the balls into patties.
  7. Bake for fifteen minutes, flip the burgers, bake for another fifteen minutes.

I’ve made a batch of these in advance for lunches this week. I will just reheat a couple each day and top with avocado and sweet chili sauce. If avocado isn’t your thing try grilling a slice of pineapple. It’s delicious on top of the burgers and if you’re feeling adventurous sprinkle some chili flakes over it before it goes under the grill.

I hope you like this sweet potato burgers recipe! Make sure you check out this post for one final treat before passover!

P.S. you might also like this kosher for Passover courgetti recipe with tomato sauce

French Toast Recipe

French toast recipe
Is there anything better on a lazy Saturday morning than French toast for breakfast? How about French toast that takes a mere five minutes to prepare?

My French toast recipe is simple and easy to make. Serve it with leftover berries or get adventurous with whatever combination of toppings you prefer. Some of my favourites include Nutella and banana, peanut butter and strawberry jam, fresh lemon juice and sugar, cinnamon  and maple syrup and vanilla sugar. For those of you who prefer savoury to sweet I’d recommend Marmite with cheddar cheese on top or with a fried egg and a slice or two of bacon (never tried that myself but it sure does smell good).

French toast recipe for two

Ingredients

  • Four slices of challah
  • Two eggs
  • One tablespoon of oil
  • One teaspoon caster sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Berries
  • Honey

Method
Slice four thick slices of challah, or any other white bread going spare. Brioche works well as does anything that has turned stale.

In a wide shallow bowl hand whisk two eggs with a teaspoon of sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Soak a slice of challah in the eggy mixture on both sides. Repeat for the last three slices.

Heat one tablespoon of oil on a high heat in a frying pan. I like to use rapeseed oil but it doesn’t matter too much – just stay away from oils with a heavy flavour like olive oil. Carefully place each slice of challah in the pan, turning after two minutes.

When the challah is looking golden brown plate up. Top the French toast with berries and drizzle with honey. Serve warm.

I grew up with eggy bread and only heard it described as French toast when I started to see it appear on breakfast menus. Since then I’ve discovered new ways to make French toast, including Smitten Kitchen’s boozy french toast recipe.