I’m all tapas’d out

I am stuffed! I literally could not eat another mouthfull! OK give me a few moments and I’m sure I could try and swallow a few more morsals.

I started the day wanting croquettes, I finished the day having made a tapas feast:

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So that would be:
– spicy cheese croquettes
– cheese croquettes
– potatoes bravas
– garlic mushrooms
– marinated anchovies

Ok so all I did with the anchovies was put them on a plate in a pretty pattern but I made the rest as follows:

Croquettes
Take 3 potatoes, peel, chop and place in salted boiling water. Boil until tender. Put the potatoes through a ricer to make the smoothest mash you will ever have. Combine with a spoonful of butter. Split the mixture in half.

Mix a handful of grated mexicana cheese to one half and a handful of mature chedder to the other. Combine and roll into sausage patties.

Roll in flour, dip in milk and roll in breadcrumbs. Place on a baking tray and bake for 20-25 mins in a preheated oven.

Ta daaaa

Potato bravas
Take 3 potatoes, peel chop and boil in salted water until tender. Preheat some oil in a baking tray in the oven, toss in the drained potato chunks and fully coat the potato in oil. Crack over some salt.
Bake in the over for 30-40 mins turning often.

Meanwhile make the sauce. I chopped up 3 tomatoes, smashed 2 garlic cloves and placed on a low heat in a frying pan. Added a sprinkle of chilli flakes, smoked paprika, paprika and oregano. Stirred in a tablespoon of tomato puree and about half a cup of water. Simmered gently until it reached the desired consistency.

Take out the potatoes, pour over the sauce and voila!

Chorizo in cider

Well this was easier than making my accompanying gin and tonic!

Chop up the desired amount of chorizo, pop in a pan with roughly chopped red onion and 2 smashed garlic cloves. Pour over a bottle of cider, bring to the boil then turn down the heat and let simmer for 30-40 mins.

Pour into a fancy bowl and then make out you’ve been slaving over a hot stove for hours!

Garlic mushrooms
3 steps:
1- chop up mushrooms
2- melt garlic butter in a pan
3- put the mushrooms in with the garlic, and keep turning them while on the heat to ensure fully coated with butter

Here’s a close up of my plate full to the brim:

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Delicious! Definitely going to do this again, let me know if you have any other tapas recipes I can try!

Jessica x x x

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Courgette fries

This blog post is exactly what it says on the tin. One of my birthday presents was a chipper and what was the first thing I used it for? Potato you ask, no, obviously it was courgette.

Whilst I used a chipper this could easily be made just by manually slicing the vegetables.

I chipped two courgettes, rolled them in milk and then placed them in a bag and shook them with the following ingredients:
– two heaped teaspoons of flour
– salt
– two tablespoons of breadcrumbs
– smoked paprika
– freshly ground pepper
– garlic powder
– onion powder

Once they were fully coated I carefully lined them up on a baking tray baked them at 150degrees in my fan oven for about 20-25mins.

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This meal looks a bit beige but it didn’t taste it.

If any one has any tips for courgette fries I would love to hear them.

Jessica x x x

Gin tasting @ lazy lounge, Leeds

When I left my last job back in OCTOBER one of my presents was a gin and cake tasting for two. I finally got round to booking it for me and the boyfriend and had it earlier in the week as a continuation of my birthday weekend. It’s based at the Lazy Lounge in Leeds and I think its £20 per person.

We walked round after work, it’s based in Leeds city centre, just off wellington street and as we arrived half an hour early, we settled down with a glass of their house white. I’ve had it before and it’s well worth it as house wines go. As we were ordering I was a bit peckish and saw some snacking ham. What’s that you ask? I had to find out…

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Turns out it’s cured ham in a packet and it’s a tasty alternative to the usual crisps. I was a bit peppery for my liking but that didn’t stop me shovelling into my mouth.

Turning to the important bit…the gin. We were seated at a grand piano which had been turned into a table and which was covered in gin, cake and sandwiches:

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The guy (unfortunately I didn’t catch his name) was AMAZING and definitely knew his stuff. He took us on a tour from gineva to the modern day Gin and along the way learnt how some of the phrases we use to this day evolved via the popularity of gin. For instance “dutch courage” and “quack” in reference to a bit of a dodgy doctor.

It was so interesting to learn about the evolution of gin; tasting the first type was a revelation, and not the good kind!

The sandwiches and gin and tonic cake were both delicious and well needed. We drunk a lot of gin so needed the carbs.

I think my favourite gin was one which was made out of potatoes which is so ironic because I grew up on a potato farm!

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So if anyone wants to buy me some of this I am not going to refuse!

Pop down to lazy lounge, you won’t be sorry and its a fabulous night out.

Jessica x x x

So stuffed you could put me on a mantelpiece

It was my birthday on Friday and I ended up eating out a lot! Not that I’m complaining because I adore food, but let’s just say I’m contemplating joining a gym this week. Seriously, I looked round one tonight after work!

So….the meals….I hope you won’t be mad but I forgot to take pictures! I just got caught up in the moment (hunger to be specific) and totally forgot…. All 3 times!

1. Friday night at The Pour House, Granary Wharf, Leeds

On my actual birthday we ended up going out for a leaving do at the boyfriend’s work. It wasn’t an all awkward walking round with a bunch of flowers at someone else’s party…
We had prebooked our food a while before so I had almost forgotten what I had ordered. Turns out it was the New York-shire burger at £11.95. (Here’s a copy of the menu).

There was a few of us so it took a while to be served. The burger was alright. It was sold to me as being on the medium/rare side but it was disappointingly well done. I ate it but I finished it in no hurry to order it again. The boyfriend had the val hammer burger and was not impressed. The pulled pork soared but the tasteless burger brought it back down to earth with a bang.

Bottom line- I’d give the place a go again (the gin selection is amazing) but not on a friday night in a large group. If you’re looking for a great burger in a bar, head down to Brooklyn Bar on Call lane. You won’t be sorry.

2. Saturday night at El Bareto, Chapel Allerton, Leeds

I’ve been here before and I will go again. This place is warm, welcoming and tasty, all set in an intimate classic Spanish style, think orange walls, dark wood and rough plaster.

We ordered a bottle of the house wine which was fresh and totally drinkable. We totally forgot about the sangria otherwise we would have had a nice jug of that.

We ordered:
Marinated anchovies;
Jambon croquettes;
Chorizo in cider;
Jeffa potatoes; and
Fried squid
You can find the menu here.

The bill came to just over £40 which was an absolute bargain and we were definitely full afterwards. The two best dishes hands down were the anchovies and the croquettes. If I had to eat those non stop for a few weeks I would be a happy girl!

The only slight annoyance was how efficient it was, we were in and out in about 50 mins, although I can’t really fault them on this, we weren’t rushed at any stage, it just turns out that we know what we like so order quickly and we were quite happy to retreat back home to where icecream was calling out our name.

Bottom line- try this place you won’t be sorry.

3. Sunday afternoon at the Deer Park, Street Lane, Leeds

My family came round on sunday to celebrate my birthday and have a belated mothers day for my mum and Nanna as my parents were away for the actual day. My parents can be quite traditional and like a good pub so I thought this place would be a good shout, it has great food and a good beer selection so my dad was happy despite forgetting his glasses and missing the football.

Despite 8 of us rocking up on a lovely spring sunday afternoon, they managed to fit us in within a few minutes which was a shock considering how busy the place was.  I can’t fault the waiting staff here.

I went for the roast beef dinner as I was told I could have a rare piece of roast beef. Quite a while later the food came out and whilst the beef was most certainly not rare (or even medium) it was incredibly tender, so much so that I didn’t mind. It was accompanied by a generous helping of goose fat roasted potatoes which were fabulous and a fat Yorkshire pudding.

The chatter on our table soon quietened down once we were all busy eating and I don’t think anything was left. We left full, happy and a bit tipsy.

Bottom line- go for sunday lunch

Wow that was a long post, big congrats if you’ve made it this far!

Jessica x x x

Amazing red Thai crab cakes

I made these the other day for tea and I loved them! The picture is not going to do them justice so please do not judge on that!

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They’re served on a bed of spinach and topped with my lovely infamous carrot salsa (see here).

Ingredients (serves 2)
3 x small potatoes
1 x tin of crab meat in brine, drained
2 x handful of spinach
1-3 teaspoons of red Thai curry paste. This depends how hot you want it, see notes below
1 x small cup of milk
1 x small handful of plain flour
1 x handful of breadcrumbs
2-3 teaspoons of butter
1/2 an onion

Method
1. Peel, chop and boil the potatoes until tender in salted water. Drain and mash. I used my ricer and it makes perfectly lump free mash with barely any hassle;

2. Finely dice up the onion and mix with potato and butter.

3. Add the red Thai paste. Now I used 3 teaspoons but in hindsight this was probably too much. It’s not that it’s too hot, but it does take some of the flavour away from the crab. Next time I think I would use 1.5 teaspoons. Ensure the potato mixture is thoroughly mixed.

4. Gently stir in the crab meat. Be careful not to break up the chunks of meat too much, you still want bits of crab in there.

5. Separate the mixture onto 4 patties. Dip first in the flour making sure it’s fully coated, dunk in the milk and then carefully roll in the breadcrumbs to get a nice even coating. Repeat with the remaining patties.

6. Place on a baking tray in a pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes at about 180 degrees depending on how golden you want them.

Serve immediately with something fresh to counteract the spicy red Thai curry flavour and to enhance the crab . There’s plenty of potato in the fishcakes so don’t worry too much about a more substantial side. Two of these each was more than enough to make us feel full and sleepy on a cold wet English night.

Let me know how they turn out for you

Jessica x x x

Freezer food

With my old job towards the end I was arriving late and leaving early. With my new job I arrive early and leave late. Sometimes very late, other times just late enough to make me too tired to go and cook a meal from scratch.

So for the last couple of months I haven’t been eating as well as I used to. I decided I had to do something about this. Last weekend I did an online shop and bought loads! I even got some of those metal takeaway containers for ease and lack of appropriate Tupperware. I think the boyfriend was a bit confused when he took in the shopping!

I made:
– beef and ale stew with lentils (3 portions)
– Mexican bean stew (3 portions)
– fake cassoulet (5 portions)
– lasagna with leek sheets (4 portions)

Here’s a few shots pre-cooking. Unfortunately I got stressed/tired and forgot to take any more:

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Fake cassoulet

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Beef and ale stew with lentils (lentils not included in the photo)

I was going to make chilli as well but realised I already have masses in the freezer from when I continuously make too much.

We had to do a bit of a re-jig in the freezer to make sure it all fit but afterwards it felt awesome to know that I can have good homemade food when I want and with very little effort. I can either defrost them ready for cooking or just bung them in the oven frozen on a low heat.

They’ve already come in really handy. The boyfriend had a leek lasagna when I went out for drinks and food with the girls (and I know he is eyeing up the other single portion) and last night we ordered a takeaway using justeat, then half an hour later received an email saying that our order had been cancelled as the takeaway was closed. I was so annoyed as I was looking forward to tasty fuss free food so we just put a Mexican bean stew in the oven and made some homemade chips in the oven. Although it wasn’t the Chinese I was craving I didn’t feel bloated afterwards and saved us a bit of money!

Let me know if you want to see any of the recipes for the meals above, I’ll cook the meal again and make sure to take more photos/notes.

What’s your favourite food to cook for the freezer, I’m already getting ideas together for my next big cook.

Jessica x x x

What a winter warmer

I love it when the weather gets colder and you can just scoff comfort food without feeling guilty or too stodgy. This meal was perfect and satisfied that empty cold hole in my stomach after trudging through cold drizzly rain from the bus to get home.

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The photo isn’t amazing (but when are mine?). It was really tasty though and at the end of the day that’s what matters.

Ingredients (serves 2)
4 good quality sausages. I used pork and apple for the sweetness
3/4 of a red cabbage
1 onion
Few mushrooms
Handful of spinach
Tablespoon of red jam (I used raspberry)
Splash of red wine vinegar
Drizzle of oil
Vegetable stock and water

Method
1. Drizzle some oil into a large pan and fry the sausages until they’re browned on the outside. Don’t bother making sure they’re cooked all the way through, they’ll be cooking for a while.
If the pan dries up at all pour some hot water in to de-glaze the pan and get the juices up.

2. Meanwhile dice up the cabbage, onions and mushrooms. Throw into the pan with the sausages and stir.

3. Add the red wine vinegar and jam and stir to combine. You want the sausages and cabbage to be coated in a nice sticky substance. Leave for a few minutes.

4. Pour in the water and vegetable stock (I’d say about a mug’s worth) and leave to simmer. Go away and wash up or watch TV with a glass of wine. Check on it every so often and add more stock if the pan is looking too dry.  I left mine for about 20mins but I was REALLY hungry. To be honest it probably could’ve done with more time simmering but my hunger took over.

5. When you can take no more, stir in a handful of spinach and serve.

And there you go, a perfect wintery meal which doesn’t take that much time or effort but will satisfy that hole!

What’s your favourite wintery treat?

Jessica x x x

Cauliflower Chinese rice

I’ve made this a few times now and it’s definitely a hit in my kitchen. It’s inspired from a dish in the book “favourite mince recipes” here, which I have made various changes to.

I did originally used to make it with rice but I’ve recently decided rice isn’t my favourite thing and I’ve started replacing it with different carbs/replacements. Cauliflower works great in this dish as it absorbs the flavours much more efficiently than rice.

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Ingredients- serves 2
150g-ish turkey mince
Half a carrot
1tablespoon oil
1 onion
1cup peas
1 cauliflower
2 eggs
2 sprinkles of crispy fried onions
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
Splash of sesame oil

Method
1. Grate the cauliflower and place to one side

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(Just in case you needed to be told how to grate something)

2. Fry the mince, onion and carrot in the oil. Once cooked remove any excess oil from the pan.

3. Meanwhile mix the tomato sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil and soy sauce together. Feel free to alter the amounts of each ingredient to suit your taste buds.

4. Add the cauliflower and frozen peas to the pan and stir to absorb the flavours. This needs about 2 mins max.

5. Add the sauce mixture and stir to combine. It takes a little while to properly mix the sauce in. I usually do this while frying my eggs (below).

6. Fry the eggs and serve on top of the cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle with the crispy fried onions and serve immediately.

Best served with some spring rolls you can just bung in the oven to cook while you’re cooking the main event.

I think this is a fabulous quick, tasty mid week meal which looks like you’ve put more effort in that you really have.

Let me know if you make anything similar with cauliflower rice.

Jessica x x x

Leek lasagna

OK so obviously this isn’t actually leek lasagna:

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This was tea on Friday night. I had planned to make lasagna with leek sheets rather than pasta sheets but the boyfriend decided he was going home home for a leaving party, so I was left to cook for myself.

Now in these situations I would always usually have prawns seeing as he hates prawns and I adore them. However he only decided he was going away after I had had my dinner of a prawn sandwich with prawn cocktail crisps so you could say I was all prawned out.

Bearing this in mind I thought I’d make myself some good old fashioned comfort food with the contents of the fridge, loosely based on my original planned meal and completely thrown together.

Ingredients – serves 1 VERY hungry person
70g-ish turkey mince
Half an onion
1 chestnut mushroom
1garlic clove
1 leek
1 potato
Half a pint-ish milk
1 tablespoon flour
1tablespoon butter/marg
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
25g strong white cheese
Sprinkle of nutmeg

Method
1. Peel and chop the potato then boil in salted water until tender.

2. Fry the mince with the chopped leek, onion, mushroom and minced garlic.

3. Add the drained boiled potato to the mince mixture and stir to allow the potato to soak up the flavours.

4. Make a quick cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a pan and once melted add the flour. Quickly stir to mix and them slowly add the milk until you’re happy with the quantity and consistency. Sprinkle the nutmeg in. Add the cheese cut up into rough chunks (or grated) and stir the mustard through.

5. Once the cheese has melted add the sauce to the potato and mince mixture and stir through.

6. Serve immediately and preferably with a gin and tonic. It was a Friday after all.

As I kinda just threw this meal together I wasn’t really paying attention to portion sizes and this actually made quite a lot. I intended to leave leftovers for Saturday but I decided to just be greedy and eat the whole thing..maybe that was the gin talking though.

Anyway hope you like my leek lasagna. Give it a go…this is a meal I’ll repeat for the boyfriend once it gets colder…proper comfort food for a rainy day.

Jessica x x x

Wedding menu cards

It was a bit of a slow day in the office today and a colleague who is getting married over the weekend decided that I could design the recipe cards for her tables.

She has a Parisian theme so i tried to stick to this theme. I found some great images on google which I copied and then digitally altered to achieve the look I could visualise.

Font wise I thought it should be elegant as isn’t that what Paris is really all about? I chose a font with a bit of a curl for the heading and the classic ‘book antiqa’ for the main body.

I only had Microsoft word to play with so my options for design were limited unfortunately.

I put together two different looks for her:

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Sorry its not great quality. It does look better once printed though.

She chose the design on the left and I think it’s received the seal of approved from her fiancée.

Which one would you have chosen?

Jessica x x x