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Eating My Way Around: On The Roof With…. Q

29 Aug

I love a pop up. And I love eating. So the arrival of “On the Roof With…” at Selfridges was an interesting concept, and something that I was wholly interested in. I love the idea of taking spaces that are disused, misused or underused, and converting them into exciting new ventures to pique the interest of the masses. Sure, it might end up full of pretentious suits and boujis biatches, but it also might be something worth seeing or experiencing.

And this was the case with “On the Roof with … Q” Brought to you by the guys that do the Q Grill in Camden, the sales pitch was promising:

“We will be bringing a top team from Q Grill in Camden to deliver a BBQ menu unlike any other, paired with a lighter range of delicious summer dishes. On the Roof with Q will be a secret foodie haven that will offer a fun and fresh dining experience alongside a programme of talks from some of the most innovative and influential people working in the food industry right now.’’

With the time that Elle was spending in London drawing to a close, we decided to book the table for a balmy Tuesday and head on up after work. We arrived early and found a seat at the bar, where we sat and experienced some really unusually, and gorgeous tasting cocktails, before being shown to our table. The décor was amazing. Designed to make you feel like you are being transported back to a Victorian garden, the dense foliage and cute little birdcages provide a gorgeous setting to eat dinner, and the food didn’t disappoint either.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

We had a feast of delicious food, including chicken wings, tuna tartare and a huge rack of ribs to share between us. The meat fell off the bone, the sauce was thick and delicious, and we left the experience feeling happy and full.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

If you are in London, I would strongly recommend making a booking. Its one of those pop ups that you need to visit!

On the roof with…. Q runs till the 27th of September

Selfridges |400 Oxford Street | W1A 1AB

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Warning: This Will Change Your Life. Chicken, Edamame and Ginger Soup

2 Apr

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Pret – a -Manger inspired Chicken, Ginger and Edamame Soup.

A few weeks ago I forgot to take lunch into work, and nipped out to Pret to get food on the run. I opted for the Soup-er Healthy Chicken, Ginger and Edamame Soup for a quick lunch, and I’ve not been able to get it out of my head since, with it obviously not appearing on the menu again, like a mirage in the desert.

Like when I was a teenager and insisted on playing the same album on repeat until my sister threw it away, I have become somewhat obsessive about popping in just on the off chance that they have it again, totally prepared to throw my sandwiches at a passing seagull and stock up if ts on the menu. It hasn’t been.111

So I decided to recreate it. I Googled the soup to see if I could find the recipe, and all I found was a soup-er unhelpful pret page telling me about the fantastic wonder of said soup, sans recipe.

But wait……… it did have the main ingredients. I could totally work with this.

Chicken, Ginger and Edamame Soup

According to Pret: dairy free, egg free, gluten free and under 200 calories (unless you buy a cream cake to go with it, or a family pack of crisps).

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Ingredients

1 cooked chicken

3 spring onions

One red onion

3 tsps sliced ginger

1 tsp garlic paste

2tsps tomato paste

2 packs edamame beans

Handful kale (optional, freestylin’)

2 pints chicken stock

Method

Shred the chicken meat from the roast chicken, removing the skin. Heat some oil in a large stockpot and throw in the shredded chicken. Add the diced onion, ginger, garlic paste and tomato paste, and stir. Fry for 2 mins before adding 2 pints of chicken stock. Simmer. Stir in the tamarind paste and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 20 mins.

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Voila!!

Seriously, this soup will change your life.

Have you ever eaten something that you wish you had the recipe for or could recreate yourself?

Eating My Way Around: Cape Town Fish Market, London

30 Jan

This week, I met with one of my best gal pals, and we visited our meet up haunt, Cape Town Fish Market (Oxford Street, London). It’s a restaurant just off Oxford Street, and it does the most amazing seafood. It even has the tag line “any fresher and you would need a fishing rod”, and the fish swim around in massive tanks, which adds to the whole drama of the place. It’s lovely.

They have a great offer for card holders, so we often meet up on a Tuesday and gorge on the most delicious sushi; California rolls with tempura prawns and a mango wrap, melt in your mouth sashimi and all different types of nigiri, plus wasabi mayonnaise, kohlrabi sauce and of course, soy glaze. It’s a bit pricey, but with the deal card it makes it really reasonable for good sushi (and I am a massive sushi snob) and honestly, I would go on a non deal night, it’s that good.

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Sushi, it makes miso happy

They also have a fairly extensive menu, including my personal favourite, the surf and turf. You think you know surf and turf, right? Hunk of steak covered in prawns?

You can’t even begin to imagine.

This surf and turf is out of this world, and features a real twist on the classic. Instead of steak they present you with twice cooked pork belly, and replacing the prawns are some dainty little scallops. The whole thing comes with wilted spinach, and is by far my favourite meal out. in fact, I love to try different things if I go to the same place twice, but on this occasion, I JUST CAN’T. I fear that I might get food envy if anyone else chooses it and I don’t, so I hedge safely and choose my favourite. And I am never disappointed.

This is my local go to when guests from out of town visit as it’s a bit of a crowd pleaser, and although its busy if you book you are generally guaranteed a table. The staff don’t rush you (I was there 20 mins before my friend this week and they happily let me sit with my wine and browse Facebook) and the general feel of the restaurant is happy and chilled. Just my jam.

Have you been? What is your favourite place to take guests when they are in your town?

Eating My Way Around: Burger Lobster, London

28 Jan

I’m a foodie. When I say that, I would like to caveat that I am not one of those foodies who thinks that there should be a big plate and not a lot of dinner on it, nor am I the type of person that eats things like ‘seafood foams’ or ‘chicken basket’ (the latter sounds slightly more like the fare you would expect in KFC rather than a Michelin star restaurant, but I digress 🙂 ) I simply love food.

Doesn’t matter what food. There is very little I don’t like. Living in a city like London, I am like a child in a sweetshop. Spoilt for choice on interesting cuisines to nibble on or places to visit. I have a list as long as my arm of restaurants I have heard about on the grapevine, and I like to go and see as much as I can.

In 2013, I crossed off some really good ones, including Shaka Zulu (Camden, London – read my review here) and Balthazar (Covent Garden, London) but this year I am upping the ante and eating my way through London, one mouth-watering morsel at a time.

This weekend, we visited Burger Lobster in the City, one of the 5 of this chain in London. The premise is simple, there are no menus, you simply have the choice of burger, or lobster (with the added bonus of a lobster roll). You can have the lobster grilled or steamed, but they are the only choices (the cocktails menu however, is pretty extensive!).

Simple. Perfect. Having heard great things about the lobster roll; a brioche bun stuffed to the brim with dressed lobster, complete with fries, side salad and an amazing lemon and garlic butter sauce, I plumped for that. And I wasn’t disappointed. If you ever come to London then you need to get yourself there and try it out. its by far the best lobster I’ve had in a while, plus its nice to have it all de-shelled before its plonked in front of you (I know I’m a heathen but it prevents me from getting covered in it).

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The dessert is pretty simple too. There are 2 options, and they change regularly. The white and dark chocolate parfait was AMAZING – all in all, a fantastic lunch.

For an additional secret tip, I recommend visiting the City location on the weekend. Soho always has a line right round the block during lunch and dinner sittings, but with the weekend being mostly closed in the city, the tables are a lot easier to get and there isn’t much need for a reservation.

Where are your recommendations for fantastic places to eat out?

Biscuiteers Blogger Meet Up, Notting Hill

17 Dec

When Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy emailed me about a blogger meet up, I was dubious. I find these things really awkward, talking to people I don’t know and trying to find a common ground, when essentially we have all been grouped together over such an ambiguous love, words.

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Biscuiteers, physical location in London’s Notting Hill

But when she mentioned biscuits, I was there. I mean really Lauren, you should just lead with that!

I’m so glad I went. What I experienced was the cutest little shop, Biscuiteers, and a collection of really lovely girls all icing biccies to their heart’s content, and getting covered in sugar syrup in the process.

There were pre-iced ones so we didn’t feel like total idiots, and we iced bauble and Christmas tree shapes, trying desperately to make them look even a little like the ones the lovely ladies who work there had crafted. Not so lucky in my case, but I had fun all the same!

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DIY Gingerbread house. SHUT. UP

The shop is darling. They sell all sorts of iced cookies, from day of the dead masks, to Superman, to an entire nativity crafted out of buttery biscuitness. Sadly, my godforsaken iPhone has died since the event so I am having to borrow photos from the other girls there to give you a visual idea, but if you ever find yourself in Notting Hill, go forth and find them. You will be plunged into a biscuity heaven!

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Biscuitty montage courtesy of ruthlgarner.com, who is a whizz with a camera!

I also met some lovely girls there, including Ruth from The Planned Adventure, Becca from Urban Flipflops and Amber from Amber Nouveau not to mention the lovely-as-ever Lauren who writes over at Aspiring Kennedy, and orchestrated the whole event. Check them out, all well worth a read.

Happy Holidays!

Let Them Tweet Cake!

16 Sep

The last few weeks have been manically busy with birthdays, sick people and work so once again, writing has taken a backseat.

* Slaps hand and promises to try harder in future*

I’ve been on hand making chicken soup, buying cough medicine and generally doing a Florence Nightingale routine for various people, and as everyone who has ever come into contact with me knows, I am a notorious feeder. I genuinely believe that you can show love through food, feel better from the right veggies and garner comfort by eating. This might go against any advice by doctors, but you know what, I am laughing in the face of the doctor. Some food nurtures the body, other food nurtures the soul. And although I appreciate and recognise the importance of a healthy, balanced diet (blah blah blah) I also know that a birthday cake makes you feel the love. RIGHT?!

I had 3 birthdays in August, and for each and every one, I made a cake. There were a few touch and go moments, a dusting of tears and maybe, just maybe, a minor temper tantrum when all the fiddly little wafer curls kept falling off one of the cakes, but on the whole they were fairly successful.

1) The Boy’s Birthday Cake

Picture the scene. As much chocolate as you can physically get into a cake, with a ribbon twisted round the outside, for added effect. If I was Willy Wonka’s wife, it would be a really happy union.

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2) Mother Superior’s Birthday Celebration

This one was a hard task for me. My Mum doesn’t like chocolate cake or many chocolate based products, so I had to revise my tried and tested method to create something she would like. I swapped out the chocolate cake for lemon cake with lemon marmalade baked in, and decorated the outside with hazelnut wafer curls. Winning.

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3) Workmate Celebrations

One of the girls on my team also had a birthday, so I decided to show the love with cake. Why not. We had seen pictures on Pinterest (where else?) of a Pinata cake, and so with inspiration from the Great British Bake Off, I decided to go forth and have a go. The man in the supermarket thought I had an eating disorder as I stockpiled Smarties and various types of chocolate, but all in all it was successful, and a definite show stopper for the future!

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What have you guys been up to lately?

We Are Tinkering In The Kitchen!!!

30 Nov

Little Tinkers,

Thank you for all the kind words over the last week or so and I apologise for the dramatic “I bid you adieu” and then no more posts!

I’m sick again, (it doesn’t rain, it pours!!) so I’ve barely raised my head from the pillow this weekend, but I am starting to feel a little more alive.

And I have good news! Jules has taken the helm on the new project and cooked up some great stuff, so we are now operating on our own blog at http://www.tinkeringinthekitchen.com.

It might not stay looking like that as we are deliberating behind the scenes as to turning it into something fabulous! But we would love you to follow us there too. We promise it will be just as amusing 🙂

In fact, we are running a bit of a competition; if we can get 300 subscribers before Christmas we will give away this fantastic gift.

The Hummingbird Bakery is quintessentially British; a bakery first set up in Covent Garden and brought the Red Velvet Cupcake into the public eye! I’m pretty terrible at cupcakes but I have this book and I can guarantee they rarely go wrong, so good are the recipes. We are also aiming to get 300 followers on Twitter (@Kitchen_Tinker) in this time too, so if you enter on Twitter and subscribe you will automatically get entered twice. Yay!!

We will announce the winner at random on the 1st of January if we reach the target, and pop the prize in the post there and then, so one of you lucky people will get a lovely prize to blow away the January blues! If you don’t want to be entered please follow us anyway, we need the support!

This is available to everyone, so get following!

And just as an aside, thanks for all the positive comments and great response to our new effort. Jules and I are very touched.

Lots of Love

‘Belle

xxx

To Your Posts… Let The Bake Off Begin!

27 Aug

My sister and I decided, in normal penniless fashion, to spend the Bank Holiday weekend together doing sister activities. Last night we had bruschetta for dinner (messy, don’t choose for restaurant fodder!) and watched I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and Don’t Mess With The Zohan. The latter was a bit disappointing but the first was hilarious.

So this morning, armed with a weekend at the gym, we decided to have a bake-off, after initially planning to visit my Granddad and then for plans to change. Neither of us bake very often, preferring to cook savoury food, but in total exercise avoidance it seemed like the best idea.

We baked three types: carrot cakes, vanilla and lemon, and mixed up the icing while we waited for them to cook. And they were a success! If you know me at all you will know I cant do puddings, and I am so bad at baking a cake that my hopes were shattered when it came to making GCSE choices, and I was asked kindly to not choose home economics after putting too much baking powder in some cakes and taking out all the muffins in the oven.

(cupcakes with vanilla icing and raspberries)

We impressed ourselves. The kitchen became a production line of icing and piping, of hearts and flowers and icing sugar inhalation. My little sister managed to get carrot cake mix all up the wall and on the white cupboards that my mum keeps so pristine, with her saying “Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have pressed the turbo button on the whisk”.

Yep, I am impressed with what we created. We coloured icing and added sprinkles etc, until my sister, ignoring what I said, decided to try colouring some herself. It resulted in her being covered in red food colouring and looking like the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

(my sister is so creative!)

But she persevered, and created cute little cupcakes, while I went for speed and simplicity. It was so much fun! the grass in the one above is made of icing mixed with desiccated (or defecated as my sister calls it) coconut and lots of food colouring.


The piece de resistance in my opinion has to be the cookie monsters. You can see the one at the back left was my first attempt as his eyes are a bit squiffy (or ‘the one that did drugs’ as my sister calls it) but I gradually improved, although my fingers are now bright blue and stained from food colouring.


(Cookie monster cupcakes. Made with mini Maryland cookies, white chocolate buttons and desiccated coconut. I wanted to make red Elmo ones too but as Danielle pointed out, no one likes coconut except me, and I cant eat them anyway).

(Ginger cupcakes. Vanilla icing mixed with powdered ginger, with crystallised ginger chunks.)

(my creations!!)

Shame my cupcakes are all dressed up with nowhere to go. I’m going to take some round for Lou tonight, and I hope Lilly likes the Cookie Monsters!!!

Hope you are all having a fantastic weekend. I have started a Facebook page for this blog in addition to Twitter (apparently social media is where all the cool kids are!) so if you subscribe or follow anywhere please like it. I hate that its called a fan page but ill post updates there that are too long for Twitter!!
‘Belle xx

Sweet and Savoury ~ It Just Ain’t Right.

25 Aug

It’s a minefield out there. I’m talking specifically about food mind, otherwise this would take far too long and bore you all to tears, but food is rich subject. There’s so much of it!

I’m a simple creature so fancy pants food annoys me. Ok it looks pretty positioned there in the middle of the plate for all to see with swirls of pesto round it and a little parmesan crust hat, but WHERE IS THE REST OF IT?! If I wanted minimal eating I would pick the unwanted vegetables out of the food tray in the bottom of the fridge. I mean really.

But what really bothers me (in a slight rain man fashion) is people who mix sweet with savoury. And I know I’m not alone in the world (thank god for Sam) so let the ranting commence.
It’s not right.

Why ever would you put jam in a sandwich?

I will give a certain amount of leeway to people who eat white bread jam sandwiches, but brown bread? That’s like putting a good heap of lemon curd in a jacket potato. It’s just not done! There are so many choices for the common sandwich, like cheese and pickle, or ham and tomato, why do you have to get greedy and start adding in dessert? Pineapple on a pizza? Lemon chicken? A lemon? With chicken?! No thank you very much. Raisins in curry? You can keep them and I’m not even going to start on the whole duck smothered in pieces of orange. You are over complicating it!

Apple. With cheese. I can’t even start on this, it annoys me too much. But the worst one is when you go out for dinner and you get some salad with whatever you ordered, and it comes with a flower in it. thats just taking it too far.

There are, as always, certain exclusions.
• Pork with apple sauce. Allowed. In fact I quite like it.
• Red cabbage with apple. As above.
• Bread and butter pudding. Tolerated as the bread is sweet.
• Lamb tagine. I hate to say it but I like the apricots. Shudder.

I don’t care if it’s the new thing or a ‘taste sensation’ I don’t want it. Quelle fromage!

Little Miss Accident Prone

13 Jul

I shouldn’t be allowed out of my room unsupervised.

Yesterday I felt under the weather and a little grumpy, so I went home fully intending to watch crime watch (which cheers me up*) and go to bed early. I stopped by the supermarket to get me some cold and flu medicine, and aimlessly wandered about, trying to navigate the maze of old people and their trollies, and buy something worthwhile.

You could tell I felt ill. I normally come out with at least one vegetable and some cheese related produce, but I bought only loo rolls, some new pillow cases, pesto, cosmo and some mini chicken kievs. I obviously wasn’t planning a culinary master class, so cooked the mini chicken kievs and put some chips on. that’s what I love about being single. If I want to eat guacamole with peppers for five nights on the trot for dinner, I can without someone saying “really? For the FIFTH NIGHT?” judge lest ye be judged and all that. On a similar note, if I want to eat cream cheese off a hula hoop, or dip Pringles in cream cheese, I can. As much as I want. Without talk of soup or a carrot, or “what are you having that’s actually in a food group?” cheese, hello?!

Anyway, so I cooked the little kievs and got distracted by taking all the lovely clean and dry washing out of the tumble dryer (whoever invented those things. I love you. My clothes always smell of magic and not of mould like they do in winter when you live in a flat and have no tumble dryer or outside space. all clothes get hung from curtain rails and dryers, and you smell like you fell in a pond). When I went back to them all the garlicky buttery goodness had oozed out, so defeated I put them on a plate. On went the TV (another rare thing) and I bit into one, a little distracted.

The next think I knew I was dancing round the room screaming “bastard!!!” at no one in particular, although the rabbit looked particularly affronted. This was a rogue mini kiev; still full of its burning filling, and it had gone off like a grenade. Wanting some sympathy, as my sympathetic housemates were out at the time, I text my mother and sister, and the responses were both the same.

“Were you eating dinner naked?!”

The long and short of it is that I now have a blister the size of a fifty pence right on my boob (that’s what you get for wearing a v neck top and eating without protection) and a blister on my chin. Which REALLY hurts and I keep knocking (putting makeup on this morning, fun times!).  Note to self. Eat only salad. It cannot harm you.

*I love crime watch. It cheers me up because although it’s all doom and gloom, murderers and rapists and unsolved mysteries, I like it when they catch the killers and scumbags. I get an elevated sense of faith in the general public, and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Yep, some psycho may have robbed someone’s nan for their pension money, but Kirsty and the team bang them up and sort them out. Much better!