Saturday, 20 December 2014

Chorizo and butternut squash chilli

Another recipe using up what we had in the fridge, with the addition of sour cream and coriander!

Ingredients (serves 2):
60g chorizo, cut into rough chunks
1/4 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
1 red onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 can of tinned tomatoes
1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp of chilli powder
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1 cup of water
Sour cream and coriander to serve

For the rice...
2 cups of rice
4 cups of water

1. Fry the onions in a little oil until softened.
2. Add the garlic, red chilli and butternut squash and fry for 5 minutes on a medium heat, stirring often.
3. Add the chorizo and chilli powder and fry for a couple of minutes, coating the ingredients with the chilli.
4. Next add the tinned tomatoes, cannellini beans, sugar and water, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, adding extra water if needed.
5. To make the perfect rice, place 2 cups of rice and 4 of boiling water in a pan and leave to cook with a lid on for 10-15 minutes on a medium heat. If you follow these instructions and avoid lifting the lid you should end up with perfectly cooked rice with no need to drain!
6. After 20 minutes, check that the butternut squash has softened in the chilli and serve with the rice, a dollop of sour cream and plenty of coriander! Enjoy!

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Grilled halloumi salad served on a crisp tortilla wrap

Ingredients (serves 2):
For the baba ganoush...
1 aubergine
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of half a lemon

And the rest...
2 tortilla wraps
150g halloumi, sliced 1cm thick
1/2 red onion, quartered
2 lambs lettuce leaves, sliced into strips
50g pomegranate seeds
Small handful of pine nuts, toasted
Small handful of mint, roughly chopped
Olive oil

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees.
2. To make the baba ganoush, prick the aubergine all over with a fork and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, then remove from the oven, lower the oven temp to 140 and allow to cool.
3. Once cooled, peel the aubergine and blitz the flesh in a food processor, adding the garlic, tahini, oil and lemon juice.
4. Place the tortilla wraps on a baking tray and generously spoon over the baba ganoush, spreading all over and leaving about a centimetre baba ganoush free. 
5. Lay the chopped red onion over the top as if you were decorating a pizza, and drizzle the whole tortilla wrap with olive oil and place in the oven for 10 minutes until the edges of the tortilla wrap become crisp and brown.
6. Whilst the tortilla wrap is in the oven, heat a little oil in a frying pan (or ideally a griddle pan) and fry the halloumi on each side for about 3 minutes until they become golden.
7. Remove the tortilla wrap from the oven and layer the halloumi and lettuce on top, sprinkling over the pomegranate seeds, mint and pine nuts, finishing with a drizzle of olive oil.


Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Roasted cod and chorizo

I've made this dish twice now, once with diced pancetta, and once with chorizo. I'd say just make use of whatever you can find in the fridge! Personally I prefer the chorizo, but you could easily chop up the left over bacon from your weekend fry-up!

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 cod fillets
60g of chorizo ring, roughly chopped
3 medium potatoes, quartered
60g green beans, trimmed 
Handful of black olives, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon 
Pinch of chilli flakes
Salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes, then add the green beans and boil for 2 more minutes.
3. Drain the potatoes and green beans and add the chorizo and olive, then shake it all around.
4. Tip the contents of the pan onto a baking tray and place the cod fillets on top.
5. Season the whole tray with the chilli, salt and pepper, then splash the olive oil and lemon juice all over.
6. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, then serve, pooring over the juices from cooking, and enjoy! Simples.

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Mum's pork crackling

For those of you who have seen THIS, here's how you make it...

Ingredients (serves two hungry people)
500g pork belly
1/2 tsp salt
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into perfect roastie sized spuds
1 large carrot, peeled and cut lengthways
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut lengthways
1 large red onion, quartered
A couple of sprigs of thyme

1. Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees.
2. Score the skin of the pork belly creating a criss-cross pattern and rub salt all over.
3. Grab an oven proof dish or roasting tray and place a wire rack on top for your pork belly to sit on.
4. Place the pork in the oven and roast for 3 hours.
5. Prepare your veg by parboiling the potatoes for about 6-8 minutes in boiling water until the edges become fluffy, then drain and fluff up the potatoes some more by shaking the pan with the lid on.
6. After 3 hours, turn the oven up to 200 degrees, add the veg and thyme to the roasting tray underneath the wire rack and coat with the pork fat that has dripped down.
7. Roast for 1 hour or until the crackling is lovely and golden and the veg starts to colour. Make sure you turn the veg and mix it all about half way through.
8. Serve with plenty of gravy and enjoy!

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Monday, 13 October 2014

Polpo - a Venetian tapas style restaurant

I think I've found it. The restaurant that I would literally order almost anything, and greedily want EVERYTHING on the menu, just to have a little taster of every single flavour combination it offers.

This beauty of a restaurant showcasing this wonderful menu is Polpo, which serves up Venetian tapas style sharing plates in various locations across London.

The menu is fairly sizable and once you've confirmed with the waiter what is an acceptable number of dishes to order* (avoiding that embarrassing restaurant moment where you over-order and a continuous stream of food begins to head towards your table, whilst you frantically start eating, stacking plates and hiding the evidence...) Anyway, when you've found that number, the menu is simple - you fancy meat, fish, or veg? Little nibbles or bigger plates? Completely up to you, and if you make the mistake of not ordering enough then fear not - just order more and it will come out as and when it's ready.

To start our feast we nibbled on some olives. Not the usual olives we almost always order, but anchovy stuffed olives, coated in breadcrumbs and beautifully fried until crisp and golden, wonderfully salty and deliciously naughty.

The meatballs seemed like the thing to order, so we headed for those next. Disappointingly, once smothered in tomato sauce, the aniseed punch of the fennel struggled to come through our pork meatballs.

The disappointment was soon forgotten however when the clear highlight of the meal arrived: mackerel tartare, horseradish and carta di musica (or to translate - crispy thin flat bread from Sardinia). A delicious dish from the sea, with the bite of horseradish chasing its fin. Adding in the flat bread gave a superb mix of textures to match the mix of flavours.

Being the terribly traditional British foodie that I am, I couldn't stay away from having a typical meat and veg meal and ordered lamb with potatoes on the side. Whilst the potatoes were nothing to write home about (I mean you can't really go wrong with rosemary and garlic potatoes, can you?), the lamb, served with caponata (an Italian aubergine stew) and basil was delightfully tender and grilled to perfection. The sharpness of the capers and tomatoes within the aubergine stew contrasted wonderfully with the sweetness of the basil.

Basil was also a key component with my chosen dessert too when it was paired with a strawberry panna cotta. Not something I had ever experienced before, but it provided a pleasantly refreshing, yet creamy dessert to end a very filling and all round, fantastic meal.

I have been very complimentary of my visit to Polpo, and have very few negative points to make regarding the food. Reading previous reviews however, my one piece of advice would be to avoid busy periods or, like me, visit the Farringdon branch on a weekend, else you will probably be packed in, elbow-to-elbow.

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

*The acceptable number of dishes is 2-3 per person. I'd go for 3. Plus dessert ;) 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Trout en papillote with fennel and dill

Cooking fish en papillote (in a parcel) is one of my FAVOURITE ways to both cook and eat fish. It's really simple to do, and very hard to muck up! It keeps the fish moist and full of flavour and is a relatively healthy way of cooking fish. Plus you can make it a one pot dish by cooking your veg in with it too. This recipe is with trout, but it can work with almost any fish.

Ingredients (serves 2):
Two fillets / whole trout (whatever you can get your hands on!)
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 the juice of 1 lemon
2 large potatoes, thinly sliced (no need to peel!)
Several sprigs of dill
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Baking paper or tin foil

1. Preheat the oven to about 180 and boil the potatoes for 5 minutes, then allow to cool slightly.
2. Place the trout on a sheet of baking paper or tin foil and rub with the olive oil and lemon juice (including inside if the fish is whole).
3. Place the potato and fennel slices on top of the fillet (or inside if whole) and season with salt and pepper, and finish off with sprigs of dill.
4. Bring the edges of the paper or foil together and crimple / fold to keep in place, ensuring that it is a fully closed parcel.
5. Place the parcels on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes (the fillet will cook quicker than the whole fish).You'll now when the fish is cooked if the flesh is not translucent and it flakes easily with a fork.
6. Serve the whole parcel with a side of veg and enjoy!

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Sri Lankan Prawn Curry

Leave my boyfriend to go spend the last of our Sri Lankan Rupees before boarding our flight home is usually asking for trouble and I have to be honest, some of the ingredients I'm still a little puzzled by
and have no idea what to do with them! But for a select few along with whatever I could find in the cupboard and fridge / freezer, I put to use what I learnt at a Sri Lankan cookery class in Mirissa, and cooked up a deliciously fragrant, cheap curry.

Ingredients (serves 2):
1 red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 inches of ginger, grated
1 green chilli, sliced
2 tsps of turmeric
2 tsps of brown curry powder (from Sri Lanka)
1 cinnamon stick, broken into bits (from Sri Lanka)
4 green cardamom pods (from Sri Lanka)
1 cup of frozen prawns (or your chosen meat / fish)
1/4 of a butternut squash, peeled and cubed (optional)
1 tin of coconut milk
1 cup of rice

1. Fry the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil until softened.
2. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and spices to the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes, ensuring that the onion is coated in all of the spices.
3. Next add the butternut squash and fry for 5 minutes, again coating them with the spices.
4. Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for at least 20 minutes.
5. To make the perfect rice, add 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water to a pan with a lid and leave to cook, without removing the lid, on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes depending on the pack
6. After about 20 minutes cooking time when the butternut squash has softened, add the frozen prawns and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
7. To finish I added spring onions for decoration, deep fried some poppadoms we bought in a  Colombo food market, and severed with a dollop of pumpkin chutney made by my boyfriend's aunt! De-lish!

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Monday, 11 August 2014

The other Tooting Chicken Shop

Anyone who has recently moved outside of Zone 2 will know that there are certain areas estate agents push (and push) and whether you choose to believe their spiel about it being "an up and coming area" or "the next Shoreditch" is up to you. My past experience with a certain group of Coca-Cola supplying rahs, is that most of the time they are telling a load of rubbish and will almost certainly drive you to an area you didn't ask for, for a price you didn't agree.    

So it took me by surprise to find that actually, Tooting is pretty up and coming. I'd been to the Tram and Social before, but anyone who's walked the short walk between there and the station, knows that the choice of shops are really limited to Wilkos and a take-away chicken shop.

But dig a little deeper and just around the corner you will find several trendy bars and a chicken shop of a different kind. 

With a continuous stream of hungry customers forming an orderly queue out the door, at least 25 chickens rotating on a spit and 30-40 shoulders hunched over beautifully succulent pieces of chicken, the Chicken Shop on Tooting High Street is something of a must-visit in Tooting.

The menu is simple - chicken (quarter, half or whole) and sides. Even the wine is simple, just choose your colour. Having no choice of wine may not be to everyone's taste, but as the name suggests, you're not there for the wine.

Once seated, our orders were swiftly taken by the waiter that greeted us. The same attentive waiter gave the personal touch by using the name we booked under and also took the time to run through the menu - although simple, and pretty much non-existent except for the board on the wall, this could perhaps baffle some. 

From then the bar staff looked after us, and once the food arrived I don't think I stopped to have a conversation as my animal instincts kicked in and I began chewing the succulent meat off the bone, making sure no chicken was left.

I can't decide whether the the chicken blew me away so much that the sides of crinkle cut chips and coleslaw didn't stand or chance, or in fact they were just average. Even so, I smothered the chips in the hot sauce and washed them down with the wine, and left the restaurant full and happy.

The prices are not to be sniffed at either - £4 for a quarter, £8 for half and £14.50 for a whole chicken! Just be prepared to wait as they don't take bookings, but every cloud and all that as they do let you put your name and number down whilst you wonder off to the pub. Result.

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Mum's kedgeree - Thai style

When I was younger there were a few staples that my mum used to cook for my family of six. Her specialties were the usual roasts, pork and apple casserole and bangers and mash...

One dish that she used to make has fallen out of fashion, but remains a classic - kedgeree.

This is a recipe that experiments a bit with tradition, using simple Thai ingredients to add a bit of edge to the usual curry flavour. It's traditionally a breakfast dish, but works just as well as an evening filler. Just remember to keep the windows open as you cook it!

Ingredients (serves 2):
200g smoked haddock fillets
2 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped
A few knobs of butter
Olive oil
Fresh coriander - stalks chopped, leaves for garnish
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin 
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp of lemon grass, sliced
1 small red chilli, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1cm ginger, chopped
2 cups of rice 
1 tsp fish sauce

1. Place the fish in a saucepan and add 3/4 pint of cold water, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 8 minutes with the lid on. 
2. After the 8 minutes, pour the liquid into a jug, remove the fish and wrap in foil. In the same pan add a knob of butter, a splash of olive oil, coriander stems, lemongrass and chilli. Give this a few minutes and add the spices, ginger and garlic.
3. Now you're ready to add the rice. Treat it like a risotto and coat the rice in the buttery, fragrant herb and spice mix. 
4. Pour the liquid reserved from cooking the fish into the rice mix and leave to simmer with the lid on until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked (if needs be add more water).
5. Next flake in the fish (skin removed), the eggs, a couple of knobs of butter and the fish sauce - mix and season to taste.
6. Garnish with the coriander leaves (and more chilli if you fancy).


Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The great Italian feast

Before you read this, I must warn you, as soon as you start to feel like you want to go to this restaurant, book it - book it right now. It is an extremely popular restaurant and you could wait weeks, months to get a table there. And it's really easy to see why.

So first, the details:

Al Boccon di'Vino

And where do we start?

Firstly, there's no menu. Which as a massively indecisive foodie, this is a dream. Just sit back, a glass of wine in hand, and wait for course after course of deliciously fresh Italian food to be presented in front of you. Now bear in mind, when you sit down you'll probably not find your feet for another five hours. This is for two reasons: one, due to it's huge popularity the seats are back to back and getting up seems like a massive mission, especially when, two, you eat so much you will literally have to roll out of the restaurant when you finally reach course 15!!

Yes, 15 courses... I think. I have never been to an Italian wedding, but I am told that if you do this is what you should expect. From starters of charcuterie, to numerous fish courses, followed by pasta, risotto and then a grand meat course, finished off by something sweet, your taste buds are lured in every direction until you can no longer lift up the fork.

In every mouthful you could taste the time and effort taken to source each of the ingredients. Like the mozzarella, served with an aubergine stack and asparagus. It was like no mozzarella I have ever tasted, so beautifully creamy and basically dissolved in your mouth. Incredible.

I absolutely love scallops, so when a tower of beautifully presented scallops within their shells stood at the centre of our table, my mouth just started to water. All smothered in butter and roe still intact, they were devoured within seconds, slipping down far too easily - I only wished there were more!

So we'd had meats, cheeses, grilled veg and fish - I think it was then at that point that I was starting to feel full, and perhaps could have done without the ravioli and risotto which followed. Both rather bland and not particularly something to write home about, but it was not long until the whole restaurant was presented with whole roasted lamb.

Now even the fullest stomachs in the restaurant were sent into a roaring hunger as the gorgeous smell of the lamb filled the restaurant. Each of us turning around to take a peak at those who were served first. I don't think I can put into words how good the lamb tasted, each bite was so succulent and tender, it just melted in your mouth. My stomach had now resembling a pot bellied pig's, positioned me further away from the table, but still I couldn't help going for more. It was simply irresistible.

A definite hard dish to follow, yet still I managed to find room to try the panna cotta served with a strawberry compote...with a side of chocolate brownies and a pineapple! And it didn't stop there, if you fancied it you could also have coffee and Limoncello, but full to the brim and it being 11pm, I was ready for a taxi home (sized extra large)!
 Obviously all of this does come at a price, and £45 will put many off. With this price though comes delicious food and a great atmosphere, perfect I think for a special occasion with a large group of people - especially with the hassle free no menu and set price (easy for bill splitting too!) That said, I do think that I could have sacrificed some of the dishes for the wine which was priced at £25 a bottle.

It's one Italian that's going to be tough to beat...

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Monday, 17 February 2014

The bright lights of Xquisite

So I had just moved to Tulse Hill and couldn't wait to try the local restaurants. Two weeks in and I had already tried four - it's nice having a new kitchen don't get me wrong, but spending two weekends shifting boxes and building furniture, cooking is the last thing I want to do (ok maybe not the last, but you catch my drift).

Before even moving here I already had one place in mind that I wanted to go, Bubbas - a Caribbean restaurant in the old station building. I had heard pretty good things about it and it had been on my list of places to go for a while. So you can imagine my disappointment to find that it had closed, sadly due to the owner passing away. But it would appear that in the very same building, a new Caribbean restaurant had taken it's place: Xquisite.

So it's Friday night at 8.30pm the restaurant should be buzzing with customers yes? No. Peak serving and barely anyone in sight, I was intrigued to find out why. 

Walking in we found the staff to be friendly and polite, if not a little bit slow and once we finally ordered a drink from the somewhat poorly stocked bar (I'm still convinced they had just popped to the corner shop), we had come to the conclusion that this slow service may be something of a theme and not wanting to put up camp for the night whilst we waited for each course, we decided to skip straight to the main.

Glass now empty and still no food. After several "can we get you anything else?" - we got their hint.

We'll have a starter.

And woosh just like that, out comes the soggy non-crispy salt fish fritter as if it had been waiting for us to order it all along. Not lacking flavour, but definitely lacking texture. Not the sort of filler you want whilst we wait for our mains.

But finally they arrive - mine a beautifully slow cooked oxtail stew with rice and salad, and my boyfriend had a fantastically spiced shrimp curry. 

Although the flavours of the stew were gorgeous, I'm not actually sure what it looked like let alone what colour it was supposed to be, if you look at the pictures you'll see what I mean. 

The nauseating lights of Exquisite switched from one colour to the next, setting my senses in a spin. Although the tender meat fell off the bone it was hard to see what was bone and what wasn't, creating a frustrating experience. 

I found closing my eyes quite useful - I could actually start to enjoy the taste, which was actually delicious, really delicious. Unfortunately for my boyfriend, having my eyes closed made for poor company. Feeling sick it is then.

Needless to say we didn't order a dessert and swiftly ordered the bill and left.

I am disappointed by this restaurant, partly because of the hype I had built up prior to it and it's proximity to my front door but also because the flavours of the mains were spot on. However I really didn't enjoy the experience so perhaps I could order to take out next time, but way in advance to avoid any long waits!

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Lamb & aubergine curry with pomegranate

This curry is verging on tagine, but that all depends on how much spice you add to it. With the pomegranate in this you can definitely afford a bit of extra spice! If you go too far, just add yoghurt!

Oil for frying
250g cubed Lamb
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
Bunch of fresh coriander, stalks finely chopped, leaves left for dressing
Half an inch of ginger
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground turmeric 
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 baby aubergines, halved and sweated
Tin of coconut milk 
A pint of stock (lamb if you have it, chicken if not)
Bag of spinach
1 pomegranate
Basmati rice to serve

1. Fry the lamb in the oil on a low heat until golden brown.
2. Set aside the lamb and in the same pan soften the onions.
3. Once the onions are softened, add the garlic, ginger, coriander stalks, chilli and spices and fry for a couple of minutes. 
4. Now add both sets of tomatoes and the baby aubergine, fry for 5 minutes until they start to break down.
5. In go the stock and coconut milk and re-introduce the lamb.
6. Simmer the curry for 25-30 minutes. If it begins to go dry, just add water.
7. Now add the spinach and pomegranate seeds allowing some of the pomegranate juice to fall in too. Then cook for 10 more minutes.
7. Serve with basmati rice (cooked 1 part rice to 2 parts water) and a sprig of coriander.

Enjoy! :) 

Yelly-fi-felly-food-belly x