Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Tapas Launch Party

Last night I was invited to independent restaurant Same Same But Different in Bath, to celebrate the launch of their new tapas menu. The intimate event saw an array of local faces and media types, so it was a great chance to meet some fellow 'foodies', who understood my need to take lots of photos of the food! We enjoyed a complimentary a Kia Royale upon arrival, and our glasses were duly topped up throughout the evening. The service at Same Same is as friendly and personal as you could hope for, so you truly feel like part of the family.

Myself with restaurant owner Toni Waterfall

 The regularly changing tapas board

A tempting array of canapes  

Endive filled with smoked salmon, crayfish and cucumber shavings, topped with creme fraiche and caviar.

  Perfectly crisp chorizo slices

Myself with Little LAB owner Kat Spreadbury

We couldn't have asked for a more generous hospitality, and left feeling pretty stuffed - that's pretty unusual for events like this! 

Same Same is a great place to visit for a cosy evening sharing some tapas, but it's also one of our favourite breakfast destinations, serving a killer Eggs Benedict. Last year they won two awards at the Bath Good Food Awards, for Best Cafe and Best Up-And-Coming Chef. Despite such recognition, it remains one of those places that's always filled with regular faces, and feels slightly off radar. So if you're feeling a bit fed up of identical soulless chains, Same Same is the perfect antidote, providing something a little...well, different.

Check out their website and be sure to add it to your list of places to eat when you're next in Bath.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Blueberry-Banana-Yoghurt Smoothie

Some of the things that happen in our house on a weekend morning:

  Any amount of a lie-in that is at all possible.
  Cuddles in bed with our cat Lulu.
  Blanket den building.
  Dancing in our pyjamas.
  Making a leisurely breakfast, whilst dancing, in our pyjamas.

Sometimes for breakfast we make smoothies. And very often that smoothie is this Blueberry, Banana and Yoghurt flavour. Oh and doesn't that lead us very nicely to this little recipe! 


Blueberry-Banana-Yoghurt Smoothie

(for 2 big glasses as seen, or 4 small)

2 bananas
250g blueberries
1 cup plain natural yoghurt (approx 200ml)
50-100ml orange juice
1 tbsp honey

Whizz all of the ingredients except the orange juice in a blender on a high speed, until smooth. Add a little orange juice at a time, blending as you do so, until you reach your perfect smoothie consistency.

If like me your blender is broken, put the ingredients into a large plastic jug and blitz with a hand blender. This method is actually preferable if you dislike washing up big appliances on a weekend. In fact that's a silly thing to say, who likes any sort of washing up on a weekend? 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Whole Bagel

There aren't too many places in Bath where you can get a decent lunch for under a fiver - but, there is always The Whole Bagel. It's a huge hit with locals, and since moving to their flashy new premises complete with seating areas and an outside terrace, it seems the only way is up for this local independent. 

I love eating at places where they do one thing and do it well, and although you can choose to have your filling in a wrap or baguette, I would probably stare in horror at anyone who chose to do so. The chewy bagels are the star of the show here. You can choose from plain; sundried tomato and olive; poppy seed; multiseed; everything" (meaning all of the seeds - not as scary as it perhaps sounds); cheese and jalapeno; cinnamon and raisin. Say whether you'd like it toasted or straight up, then select your freshly made filling from the tempting menu.

My partner had the Caesar - a tasty combination of chicken breast,  sweet roasted peppers, Caesar dressing and crisp cos lettuce - and I had the Oriental, a kind of fusion bagel consisting of shredded aromatic duck with plum sauce, sliced cucumber, spring onion and cos lettuce. 

From my experience these are two of the best options on the menu, but other winners include the Mighty Swiss (Wiltshire ham, Swiss cheese, tomato, mayonaisse and mixed leaves) and the New Yorker (pastrami beef, red onion, tomato, mustard, dill pickle and mixed leaves). Also you have to give one of their freshly made smoothies a go - my favourite is the Pash 'n' Shoot, a tropical sensation of passion fruit, pineapple, mango and orange juice. Strange name though, really.

Grab a bagel when you're next in town, and if you see Mike, say hello from me.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Steak Tagliata for Two

You may remember that my boyfriend bought me Nigella Lawson's 'Nigellissima' Italian cookbook a few months ago (see?). Well, when somebody buys you a cookbook you're sort of obliged to cook them something from it - I think - or is that just me? At the very least, if your boyfriend buys you a cookbook you can be fairly certain he's going to want you to cook him something from it.

So here's another wonderful wonderful recipe from it that we had for our Valentine's Day dinner (see previous post for the 'must-make-room-for-it'-dessert). This Steak Tagliata is a surprisingly cheap treat, as you share one big steak between two. I bought a 400g sirloin steak at Morrisons for around £3.50. It's also easy to prepare and ready in little more than 10 minutes. 

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp dried chili flakes

1 tsp dried oregano 
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 steak (300-400 g)
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
Freshly cracked black pepper

Heat a griddle pan on a medium heat. 
In a dish (that will fit the steak later on), combine the extra virgin olive oil, chili, oregano, salt and red wine vinegar. Slice the cherry tomatoes.
Oil the steak lightly and put it in the hot pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side for a rare steak.
Place the steak in the marinade for 1 minute, then turn over and leave for 1 minute on the other side. 
Remove the steak and place on a chopping board.
Place the cherry tomatoes cut side down in the marinade and leave for a minute to soak up the juices, while you cut the steak diagonally into slices. Arrange the steak on a serving dish or atop a bed of rocket as I have done.
Pour the cherry tomatoes and the marinade on top of the steak. 
Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan, if you have it, season with black pepper and serve immediately.

Nutella Cheesecake

I made Nigella Lawson's Nutella Cheesecake for dessert on Valentine's Day, because I'm a bit of a  feeder and seem to express my love with obscenely generous offerings of food.

This cake serves 12-14. So yes, on reflection it was a tad excessive for a romantic dinner for two...but forgetting that, it was amazing. And kept many happy friends supplied with cheesecake for days afterwards. 

It also happens to be very simple to make, yet people are bowled over by it. Show your love with cheesecake. It's totally fine.

So here's your ingredients list. As you can imagine from Nigella, she doesn't hold back. You're going to have to use up a whole jar of Nutella, so you need to be OK with that...

  • 250 gram(s) digestive biscuits
  • 75 gram(s) unsalted butter (soft)
  • 400 gram(s) nutella (at room temperature)
  • 100 gram(s) hazelnuts (toasted and chopped)
  • 500 gram(s) cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 60 gram(s) icing sugar

Break the digestives into the bowl of a processor, add the butter and a 15ml tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump. Add 25g of the hazelnuts and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture.

Tip into a 23cm round springform and press into the base either using your hands or the back of a spatula. Place in the fridge to chill.

Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and then add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture, and continue beating until combined.

Take the springform out of the fridge and carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Scatter the remaining 75g of chopped hazelnuts on top to cover and place the tin in the fridge for at least four hours or overnight. Serve straight from the fridge for best results.

You don't have to finish yours with a cocoa powder heart. Just for some reason I got a bit carried away with the whole Valentine's Day thing. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Pancake Day now creates a fierce debate in my kitchen. It's a toss up (thank you) whether to have traditional crepe style pancakes with lemon and sugar, or fat squishy American ones dripping with maple syrup. Today we had the latter, served with berries and bananas alongside. This is my fail-safe recipe that makes 12-15 pancakes:

200g self raising flour
 100g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
200ml milk

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl or jug.
Whisk the egg in a separate bowl and add the milk.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and pour in the milk and egg mixture. Whisk to combine, gradually drawing the milk into the flour.

Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, and add a knob of butter.
Once melted, cook your first batch of pancakes: I do mine in batches of three, and you'll want a good heaped tbsp of batter per pancake.
Cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side, until golden, then flip over and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Keep them warm on a plate in a low oven while you repeat, until the mixture has been used.

Serve with an array of pancakey accompaniments. Maple syrup is obligatory.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Where Chefs Eat

I'm really quite excited about this new book. It's an international restaurant guide, based only on recommendations from 400 of the world's best chefs - arguably the toughest critics. It covers a range of establishments and price points, from the best place for a quick breakfast in New York, to hidden noodle bars in Japan, to high end fine dining in Paris.

I love the idea of working my way through these tips on my travels. Of course the recommendations may become dated quite quickly, but I guess that's even more reason to buy it now and get out there.

Happy exploring!

For more information visit the website.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

BLT Bistro Salad with Ranch Dressing

I like to think of this salad as a kind of lovechild of the BLT sandwich, and a classic French 'bistro' salad. It's like a guiltless BLT I suppose - perfect for this time of year when you want some satisfying, but are perhaps trying to eat fewer carbs.

The assembly of ingredients includes: 

salad leaves - sliced vine tomatoes - green beans blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes - 1 boiled egg, quartered - smokey bacon rashers, griddled until just crisp and cut into bite-sized pieces

I served it with a simple homemade ranch-style dressing. I know its not the most innocent of dressings, but it's delicious. Whilst looking up recipes I found some that used plain yoghurt in place of the buttermilk, so next time perhaps I'll give that a try to cut the calorie content. But if that doesn't bother you, this one's a winner!

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
A squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together.
Store the dressing in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

To make things even simpler, and to save washing up, mix the ingredients together in a clean jam jar that you can then keep in the fridge.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Café Kino

Holding an enviable street position in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol, is Café Kino. This not-for-profit co-operative, owned and operated by its workers and run in part by volunteers, has become a real hub of the local community.

The interior space is open and light (something important to me in a cafe, remember?) with high ceilings, exposed white brick walls and a beautiful old tiled floor. This creates a calming atmosphere that is very conducive to studying, so I found myself spending a happy hour or two here, catching up on some reading.

It's easy to see why the space lends itself well to meetings and events, something that is heartily encouraged as the café's vision is to provide "an inspiring community space and focus for independent cultural and political activity". I'm not quite sure how politics come into it, but there is an interesting social scene here, with events from live music to life drawing classes. 

All of the food is vegan and vegetarian (although they do offer dairy milk for hot drinks, so don't let that put you off if soya lattes aren't your bag) as well as organic, fair trade and locally sourced where possible. Basically ethical in every area that you could think of! 

The menu looked fresh and enticing with homemade soups, salads and dahl on offer. 

I chose a soya latte and a homemade flapjack, which seemed to contain walnuts, poppy seeds and orange zest. It was wholesome yet delicious, and especially so considering its lack of butter or honey. In fact I should have asked them how it was made...I imagine it must have contained vegan butter, or else I can't think how it would stick together...maple syrup, perhaps? Coconut oil? I'm not sure. But I digress. That flapjack has confused and dumbfounded me.

Go and check out the laid-back vibe of Café Kino yourselves. And if you solve the Great Flapjack Mystery, drop me a message would you?

Miss P x

Monday, 4 February 2013

Teriyaki Tofu with Brown Rice

I would love to tell you that I made my teriyaki sauce from scratch...but I didn't. So now that's out there, let's accept it and move on.

After a day at uni I fancied a quick and healthy supper, and having some vegetables in the fridge that were desperate to be used, this fit the bill nicely.

Cut 100g tofu into cubes and place into a bowl. Pour over 1 tbsp teriyaki sauce and leave to marinade for about 30 minutes. You can at this point add some fresh garlic or ginger, if you have any. 
While this is marinading, rinse 75g of brown rice and add to a pan of boiling water. Reduce to a simmer, and leave for around 25 minutes to cook.

Prepare your vegetables. I used broccoli, chestnut mushrooms and a carrot. After a quick chop, clean and a grating of carrot, they're ready. 

Remove the tofu from the marinade. Heat some sesame oil in a wok on a high heat. Add your tofu and mixed veg, and stir fry until the tofu is starting to crisp on all sides, and the vegetables are lightly cooked. This will only take 5 minutes. Add a drizzle more teriyaki to the pan, and stir it through.

Drain your rice, and pile on the tofu and vegetables. Add fresh coriander, if you have it, or sesame seeds would also work well. But I was hungry, tired, and haven't quite got my head together for the week yet, so I just ate it straight up, sitting in my kitchen and talking to my cat. True story.

Casa Mexicana

Late Saturday night: Casa Mexicana, Bristol. An obscene amount of Mexican food and Margaritas went down...

We had excellent Margaritas; tiger prawns fried in garlic and chilli butter; nachos with extra jalapenos and chorizo; sizzling chicken fajitas; the most amazing shredded beef burrito; refried beans; and a casual last minute order of 'Carne Asada' grilled rump steak.

This was definitely the best Mexican food I've experienced, and in fact one of the best meals out in recent memory. Casa Mexicana (despite the arguably cliché name) has made a big name for itself, having been rated in The Guardian's 'Top Five' Mexican restaurants in the country, and twice voted The Times 'Best Mexican Restaurant'. Despite such high praise, Casa Mexicana retains the intimate service that you'd expect from an independent - upon arrival we were swiftly moved from our original drafty table next to the door, and this was handled with such charm that you got the impression nothing was too much trouble for the staff here. Later, a friendly waitress pulled up a seat at our table to take us through the menu, offering us her recommendations.

The authentic food is undoubtedly what draws people here, and the place seemed full of locals and regulars - but the laid-back atmosphere and service makes you want to make a return trip. Well, that and the burritos. Muy bien!

Friday, 1 February 2013

At Sam's Kitchen Table

I had to get out of the house to do some work today, otherwise housework suddenly seems very appealing and all intentions of studying get forgotten. So I headed for Sam's Kitchen on Walcot St in Bath. I was quite productive, despite getting momentarily distracted by cake - a slice of their lemon, rosemary and polenta cake which was deliciously moist. The use of rosemary is perhaps a bold move but, as usual, they pulled it off to create a subtle new flavour combination. Bravo Sam!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...