Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Ken Hom's Quick Orange & Lemon Chicken Recipe

Don't you love it when you find a quick, easy recipe for dinner that uses up store cupboard ingredients? Here is an excellent recipe by Ken Hom, from July's BBC Good Food, adapted as ever to suit my lack of Chinese greens, which has distinctive authentic Asian flavour and is ready in about half an hour. 
easy chinese recipe
Orange and Lemon Chicken
Serves 3-4
400 g chicken fillets
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
Zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Fresh chopped coriander
1 cup rice
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Half a courgette, diced
3 spring onions, chopped
Mix together the soy sauce, rice wine and cornflour. Add in the chicken, cubed if you wish, and marinate for about 15 minutes.
Place the rice in a saucepan with 2 cups of water, cover, bring to the boil then turn the heat off, and allow it to cook in its own steam. Do not remove the lid!
Heat a wok or frying pan with the oil, and add the chicken, with some salt, the lemon and orange zest and the chilli flakes. Stir fry for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the sesame oil and give it about 3 minutes before stirring in the fresh coriander for a further minute.
Meanwhile, in another pan, stir-fry the garlic, with some salt for 30 seconds, then add in the courgettes and spring onions, and fry for about 3-4 minutes until soft.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Comedor Grill and Bar, Islington - Restaurant Review

Wine Wednesday. What better incentive for a choice of restaurant for a midweek catch-up with friends? Located on the Highbury end of Upper Street, Comedor Grill and Bar is unintrusive and you could walk past if you weren't headed there intentionally. I had booked ahead, as off the back of the recent World Cup Brazilian frenzy I had heard great things about South American steak. Billed as an Argentine Restaurant, serving a range of classic and modern South American dishes we were quite literally drooling over the many cuts of steak available on the menu - from classics cuts such as fillet and sirloin, to Comedor cuts like Churrasco and Assado, cooked using traditional Argentine methods, marinated in the chef's own marinade, brushed with chimichurri, and cooked to your liking with a sauce of your choice.
I couldn't fault the starters; a traditional empanada for me, the traditional Argentinian pastry, filled with spicy beef and served with an aji sauce (a hot pepper sauce) with lime. Exquisite empanadas. One just wasn't enough; crispy baby squid wrapped in mooli radish and served with chilli jelly. Succulent on the inside with a light crispy batter; and seared tuna - thinly sliced tuna splashed with soy sauce, ginger, chilli and sesame. Simple yet tasty. All served up on long white plates, giving the dishes a contemporary feel.

Baby Squid with Chilli Jelly
Seared Tuna

Spicy Beef Empanada

Main course options were varied and set apart from the steak menu. The fillet, although relatively expensive, was largely, cooked perfectly and eaten with large hand-cut triple-cooked chips. The Chicken Aji Panca was a lighter option, succulent and juicy chicken in a milder chilli marinade, and the Entrana (sliced rare steak) and Goat's Cheese Mash was soft and creamy as promised, the distinctive goat's cheese flavour was subtle yet palatable.

Fillet Steak

Chicken Aji Panca
Entrana and Goat's Cheese Mash
For dessert, we all went for the Ecuadorian Baked Dark Chocolate Torte. A warm mousse-tart served with pistachio ice cream, there were actually moments of quiet as we indulged in this divine dessert.

Ecuadorian Baked Dark Chocolate Torte

The service was excellent, friendly, attentive and good-natured, particularly when asking for our free glass of wine with our main course! Every Wednesday Comedor offer a glass of wine with every main course ordered - you do need to ask specifically for the #WineWednesday offer! Ah, the power of Twitter...
There is also a great offer on Mondays - 50% off all steaks. Certainly worth another visit very soon.

176 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1RG 
020 7354 2843
Open Daily: Mon-Fri: 5pm - 11pm / Sat-Sun: 12pm - 11pm

Square Meal Comedor Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, 4 August 2014

Y'Thai, Stokesley - Restaurant Review

Saturday night in Middlesbrough. Thoughts of coconut and chilli. It had to be Thai. There weren't that many options, surprisingly, although there is a great choice of restaurants in the Boro. The power of Twitter (thanks to Andrew FisherLove MiddlesbroughKazoova, and Colleen Grogan) led me all the way to Stokesley, about 10 miles outside Middlesbrough, to Y'Thai. In my head I'm chanting 'Why aye, Y'Thai' all the way there, but this, I am reliably informed, is Geordie or Mackem speak, so apologies to all my Northern friends for my cultural confusion.
For me, Thai food is all about the starters. I could eat them all night! We chose the Satay Kai (Chicken Satay) with Peanut and Cucumber dip, the Kung Hom Pha (Crispy Wrapped King Prawns) with Sweet Chilli Sauce and (for comparison purposes only, honest) Poh Pia Pak (Vegetarian Spring Rolls). All delicious. Served with a pretty lotus leaf-shaped carrot garnish. Nice touch. There's a great selection of starters, all reasonably priced (comparing them to Down London prices), all typical authentic Thai dishes.
Crispy Wrapped King Prawns with Sweet Chilli Sauce
Vegetarian Spring Rolls
Chicken Satay with Peanut Dip
With some reluctance, we moved on to main courses. I only say this as I love the starters so much. It didn't take long before my Gang Mussaman (Chicken curry with potatoes) - a fragrant, heavy, coconut-based curry - transported me back to Koh Samui. Only two chillies on the menu, so I asked for an extra one, and it didn't disappoint. Himself had the Panang Nua (Beef Red Curry) - a lighter coconut-based dish - which was probably not the best we've had (well, we have been to Bangkok!) but pretty good all the same. It wasn't as spicy as I would have expected, but the flavours and spices were all there.
The service was excellent, attentive without being over-bearing, and the atmosphere was humming. Some traditional Thai d├ęcor set off the evening nicely, and the choice of beers, Chang, Tiger, and Singha, were also reminiscent of our travels.
For a tasty Thai, I would definitely recommend Y'Thai.
A shout out too to Boro Cars for getting us back safely. The app is awesome!
4 High St
Tel: 01642 710165

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Dosa Houze, Middlesbrough - Restaurant Review

Last time we ate out in Boro, we visited Dosa Houze on Victoria Road. We had such a good meal I wrote the following review for Tripadvisor:

I've eaten lots and LOTS of Indian food in my life, but have never really had the opportunity to try Southern Indian cuisine before. I love spicy food, and I love trying new things, and going out for an Indian meal usually means onion bhajii, chicken jalfrezi, pilau rice and a peshwari naan. However at Dosa Houze, the waitress first introduced herself and asked if we had ever tried it before. When we said no, she explained all the dishes and recommended the best way to try each course. We had dosas to start, a pancake made from rice flour and ground lentils, served with a variety of fillings - I had paneer and spinach with a kick of chilli - and a coconut/peanut chutney and a spicy sambar soup. The chef can judge by the hotness of your soup how hot you will like your main course!

For main course, I chose the thali with three curries - a coconut chicken, a tamarind prawn, and a fenugreek lam - served with an Anchra style naan - unlike the naans served in the Indian restaurants I'm more familiar with, but just as delicious. The tradition is to eat with your (right) hand, so mopping up the curries with the bread was a sensual as well as delicious experience. My only disappointment was the chicken coconut curry - it had a chicken soup flavour, so I wouldn't have that again, but otherwise it was a most inspiring and enjoyable meal. My husband had the chicken biryani, which was again accompanied by the spicy sambar and a salad, he liked it all but the chicken was a little dry.


Overall I loved it, the ambience was lovely, the decor was a bit one-sided - by the window way beautifully ethnically decorated while further in was quite bland, and in need of some more attention. It was possible to see into the kitchen where the chefs were working too, which is always a good sign!
I would definitely recommend this restaurant for Southern Indian food. Don't go expecting your usually chicken tikka masala or saag aloo, try something different, you will not be disappointed.

Now we are back, and I'd love to return, but they are SHUT! What's going on?
Due to unexpected problem, we had to shut down today, we are not able to inform our customers who have booked with us today. OUR SINCERE APOLOGISES TO ONE AND ALL FOR THIS INCONVENIENCE. PLEASE ACCEPT OUR APOLOGISES."
Unexpected problems... well, now I have one, as this was what I was most looking forward to this trip Up North! However I'm sure they'll be up and running again before long, and when they are (before Tuesday I hope!) I'll be first in the queue...
Dosa Houze on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Zebra Print Birthday Cake

 My beautiful little girl turned eight this weekend. Ever since March, she has known she wanted a Zebra Print cake - since seeing my gorgeous friend's Leopard Skin Cake!

I loved making this for her...

zebra theme birthday
Zebra Print Birthday Cake

9" square cake (recipe x 2)
7" square cake (recipe x 1.5)
White sugarpaste hand-painted with black food gel colouring mixed with vodka, inspired by The Krazy Kool Cakes.
Fondant bow in pink sugarpaste based on Make Fabulous Cakes.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Skinnee Chicken (with homemade kebab shop chilli sauce) Recipe

Flicking through August's Good Housekeeping, scanning for a spontaneous, quick supper, I came across a promotion for a brand of cooking spray, and a Lebanese recipe for Chicken Fattee, by James Ramsden.
Chicken Fattee is a Lebanese dish made up of layers, based on dried bread toasted in butter, with various toppings, the top layer always a yoghurt dressing. I had only about half the ingredients - which is why I've re-named it - so I improvised (a lot) and ended up with a delicious grilled chicken dish served with a chilli sauce just like one you'd get in a decent kebab shop! (Not that I would frequent one of those too often... ahem.)
Himself was pleased anyway...
lebanese chicken recipe
Chicken Skinnee

Serves 2
400 g chicken fillets
Olive oil (in spray form if you have it)
1 tbsp harissa spice mix (use ras el hanout for a real Lebanese flavour)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 stick cinnamon
300 ml tomato passata
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tortillas (or pitta)
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
3 inch cucumber, diced
Grill the chicken for about 3-4 minutes each side. Slice into bite-sized pieces.
Pan-fry the onion for a few minutes, then add in the garlic until softened. Add the harissa spice mix, chilli flakes, and cinnamon and fry for less than a minute then add in the tomato passata, red wine vinegar, and sugar. Simmer for about 15 minutes until thickened.
Dice up the salad - red onion, pepper and cucumber.
Grill the tortillas, with a spray of olive oil, for 1 minute each side until crisp, then quarter.

Serve the tortilla, topped with the tomato chilli sauce, then the sliced chicken and salad.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Zilouf's Islington - Restaurant Review

My brief for a girlie night out (really out, not just the local pub - Mums On The Town) was cocktails, cocktails and some food to set us up for the evening. Zilouf's ticked all the boxes. Located towards the Highbury end of Upper Street, we entered a seemingly regular pub, the clientele young, gorgeous and trendy (we fitted it perfectly, obviously). At the back, a dining room, cosy and quirky - some of the wallpaper could be construed as slightly rude, were they leaves, were they...?

Lovely, attentive and knowledgeable staff advised us on the cocktail menu, classics with a twist. Or, as we discovered, 'blow-the-head-off-you cocktails!' First round was a Margarita, a Mojito and a strawberry Daiquiri, giving the nod to the classics, along with a Hoxton 100 (ginger, lychee, chilli, lemon and fizz) and an Overproof Hurricane (a blend of rums, pineapple, Cointreau, lime, spices, and passionfruit). Strong, was one word. Second round was mainly Hoxton 100s. Oh yes, good choice.

The tapas-style small plates were perfect for sharing. Of the ten dishes on the menu we ordered eight, leaving out only the sprouting broccoli (I mean, who needs that on a night out) and the steak tartare - it's too rare for some people. But the dishes we chose were a selection of mouth-watering plates, all modern with an Asian-fusion theme. From the pork belly to the prawn toast, the flavours were zingy, fiery and oh-so-tasty, the seared salmon was 'lush', the cuttlefish fritter, 'unusual', and the spiced crispy beef the 'chilli-est' dish we had. A couple of vegetarian options - beetroot and feta salad, and a miso and apple concoction complemented pretty well, as did the triple cooked chips with mustard aioli. Feeling full - but not too stuffed, it was great to taste a little of everything, and head out for the rest of the evening with tingling tongues, taking the atmospheric buzz of Zilouf's with us.

270 Upper Street 
N1 2QU
Tel: 020 7226 1118
Cocktails: £7.50-9.00
Dinner: ~£35 p/p
Square Meal Ziloufs on Urbanspoon