Saturday, 25 August 2012

York's Chocolate Story

I went to York earlier this week for a short family trip. I've been to York before with friends and remember wandering through the quaint little shops along the Shambles and having drinks in the bars along the river. I expected a different kind of trip with the family, but never thought it would turn into quite the foodie experience!

I never knew York was home to many of the leading brands of sweets and chocolate's that we have today. The roots of many well-known brands were founded here by three families: Terry's, Rowntree's and Craven's; producing the goods of KitKat's, Terry's chocolate orange's and the humble humbugs (or 'umbugs, depending which part of the country you are from!).

Admittance for one at York's Chocolate Story

We went to York's Chocolate Story which gave a good overview on the history on York's chocolate routes. We also were taught to 'taste' chocolate properly, which involves smelling, hearing, and of course, tasting the actual chocolate. It was quite suprising that putting chocolate in your mouth for a few moments, while holding your nose (preventing you from smelling it) actually stops you from getting the full chocolate taste. After letting go of my nose, I was hit with a real boost of chocolatey flavour. Didn't expect that!

There are many chocolate shops in York. I particularly liked York's Cocoa House. It's a cute little chocolate shop and cafe, offering chocolate workshops from making lollipops, making your own chocolate bar, to more educational ones like the journey of how chocolate comes from the cocoa bean to your mug of warm, fuzzy goodness. They also house a family of cacao plants. Meet Henry...

Henry, the cacao tree

One of my highlight's was going to the Fudge Kitchen. Unexpectedly, we watched the guys making fudge. This was chocolate orange fudge. It was fun to watch and I ended up buying far too much fudge than I could actually handle. But it is very nice and I would recommend it :)

Making fudge at the Fudge Kitchen!

It has to be said, however, people who work amongst large quantities of sugar everyday, are beyond loopy. Just saying...

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Lemon and dill yogurt dressing

Lemon and dill yoghurt dressing

Well, it sure has been a while! Having started a new job, my food blog hasn’t been very active. So, now I want to start it up again, and will start with a simple and quick recipe.

I often make some kind of dip or dressing for salads, pizza or for bread even if it's just simply balsamic and oil. Today, I was having fishcakes and wanted something to go with it. So, I whipped up this quick and easy dressing.


  • 3 tbsp plain, natural yoghurt
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Approx. 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp chopped dill
  • 1 tsp honey

Just mix it altogether and it is ready. Add a bit more yogurt if it is too runny.

Salmon fishcakes, served with salad and a lemon and dill yoghurt dressing

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Back on the Indian food trail - Pani Puri

I love how this country is becoming so much more diverse and open to trying different foods. We have so many foods here that are deemed as being 'Westernised' - dishes from cuisines which have been adapted to suit more western taste buds. Sweet and Sour Pork is a prime example. Theses dishes aren't a bad thing at all (depending on who you talk to), but I really like that I'm seeing more authentic dishes from various cultures. Having grown up scoffing Chinese foods all my life, it's nice to see a bit of pak choi and choi sum available at mainstream supermarkets these days, for example.

I love exploring different cuisines and I'm partial to Indian foods. The spices, aromas, sauces, breads and dips - mmmmm! When I was in Delhi, India a few months ago, we went to a place called Haldarim's which is a popular chain there. We had Indian snacks which I'd never heard of, seen or tried before. One of those was the pani puri. It's so different to any Indian food I've tried before and I really loved it. I was told by the local tour guide that it's a very popular snack in India and you can get this at so many places. It's basically a mixture of potato, onion, chickpeas, chutney and spices (pani) inside a crisp fried sphere (puri) and it comes with a wonderful mint and tamarind spicy water. It's a complete explosion of flavours and texture.

Pani Puri at Haldarim's
Delhi, India

So the other day, wandering about Westfields in Stratford and getting a bit peckish, we came across Indi-Go in the main food court. As we glanced over the menu, I was telling my cousin about the food the other half and I had in India. Noticing the round crisp hollow puri's, I very quickly got excited. It was something I'd never seen being served in the UK before, and my younger cousin was intrigued with my culinary experiences.

We decided to get a couple of dishes and I encouraged her to try an Indian Chai too. She, thankfully, loved them all! In fact, the whole weekend seemed to be a good foodie experience for her which I'm very pleased about. There was a lot she hadn't tried before, and I'm glad that she seemed to really enjoy it!

Pani Puri (Poori) at Indi-Go
Westfields Stratford City, Greater London

Anyway, back to these pani puri's - or poori's as they are called at Indi-Go. They tasted very similar to what I remember in Delhi, although a little less messy! As you can see from the first picture, everything is separated and it's a bit of a do-it-yourself job. But it does mean that you can put as much or as little of each item as you like into the puri. The ones at Indi-Go are pre-filled with the mixture and only serves the mint and tamarind water separately. This water has quite a kick, so for my chilli-adverse cousin, this was nothing but a good thing.

Looking back to my short trip to India, I remember having this little wonder pictured below which I blogged about in this post about the Indian Accent restaurant. At the time, I had forgotten what this was, as it was served ahead of anything on the menu we chose and I'd forgotten the name. Now, I realise that it's a pani puri - or at least an adaption of! I remember the pomegranate on the top and it also had some yoghurt inside which offered a fresh contrast to the spice and other flavours.

Puri at Indian Accent restaurant
Delhi, India
For the love of pani puri, I will certainly be heading back to Westfields for this. I'm thinking that I can probably get these from places like Wembley and Tooting. Anyone have any pointers?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Spring Onion and Gravlax Pancakes

Pancake day is one of my favourite days ever. I get so excited about it every single year! Even though I never do anything in particular for it, or cook anything fancy or special, I just adore this day. As far as I remember, it always falls on the first Tuesday of February, but in the past couple of years it has been pushed back to later in Feb with Easter being later too.

So two Tuesday's in Feb have passed and it's now Pancake Day again! I've no idea what we'll make later on, maybe just the usual simple batter and fill the pancakes with a mix of fruit, chocolate, honey, or the simple-but-still-delicious lemon and sugar. But already I've started pancake day with little fluffy spring onions pancakes and gravlax. It wasn't even planned!

We make gravlax quite often - we just love the stuff - and we have had quite a supply recently as I got a great deal on a kilo of salmon last week. Probably a bit too much salmon intake for two people over such a short space of time, but I'm not one to waste food, nor do I particularly like freezing fish. So, plenty of gravlax was made! My other half loves gravlax too, which is odd considering he really doesn't like smoked salmon. But after I gave it a go using a wonderful Nigella recipe a year or two ago, there was no turning back.

So with our stock of gravalax (which had significantly depleted after I spent most of the weekend out), spring onions growing well, and pancake day on the horizon, it just made sense to throw it all together! Check out the recipes below, hope you love it as much as we did :)

I'd love to hear what everyone else has made for pancake day! Any unusual recipes, or do you like to keep it simple?

Gravlax recipe

Spring onion pancakes and gravalax
400g (approx.) salmon fillets
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 heaped tsp english mustard
4 tsp gin
A small bunch of chopped dill

  1. Mix the salt, sugar, mustard and gin together to form a paste
  2. Smother the mixture all over the salmon fillets
  3. Cover the salmon with the chopped dill all over
  4. Wrap the salmon tightly in cling film
  5. Store in a container in the fridge for approximately 4 days.

It's ready when the salmon turns a more deep pink colour and has firmed up. To serve, slice slithers of salmon thinly and top with a few drops of the liquid mixture.

Spring Onion Pancakes recipe

Spring onion pancakes

Makes approx 10 pancakes

100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
150ml milk
1 egg
25g melted butter
1 chopped spring onion
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix the flour and baking powder together in a bowl
  2. Whisk in the egg and milk
  3. Mix in the melted butter and chopped spring onion, adding salt and pepper to taste
  4. In a non-stock pan on a medium heat, drop in approx. two tablespoons of mixture. Once the edges look cooked, flip over and cook on the other side.

The pancakes should be nice and fluffy.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Honey Mustard Trout

I've been a little lazy with cooking recently. I do love cooking, trying new culinary experiences, and experimenting with different flavours. But, you know when you just want some food to appear with minimal effort? Minus the pizza or takeaway from the picture too.

Well, that brings me onto fish. So quick to cook and good for you with all it's omega-3 goodness. Those who follow me on Twitter may know that I'm partial to a Fish and Chip Friday but, you know when you actually just don't want all the batter and deep-friedness?

Enter tonight's dinner

I bought trout fillets and I was originally going to fry them on the grill pan with a few chopped tomatoes and some basil leaves. Nice and simple. But, you know when you want something different? I think I made this last week already.

Ok, enough with the "But, you know's".

I came up with a super simple recipe that went down a treat. Always a winner when the other half enjoys it :)

Honey Mustard Trout recipe

Honey trout mustard,
served with asparagus


  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • 1 tsp aioli
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 80ml water
  • 2 fillets of trout, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix the mustard, aioli, vinegar and honey together.
  2. Add some oil to a grill pan and when ready, add the seasoned trout fillets skin side down.
  3. After about 3 minutes, add 3/4 of the prepared mixture on top of the fillets. The mixture will run down and start caramelising in the pan.
  4. Turn the fillets over and then add 80ml water to the pan. For the remainder of the cooking, the mixture will thicken into a lovely sauce.
  5. After 2 minutes more add the remaining mixture.
  6. After about 1-2 minutes, the trouts should be cooked through.
  7. Serve

I served mine with some asparagus today. Happy dining!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Christmas food bonanza

Are we done with Christmas yet? Not me, I'm still blogging about it.

Christmas is all about food and family, right? I see a lot of family that I don't get much of a chance to see throughout the year, and we all gather round and eat, eat and eat. Here is how my Christmas usually goes...
  1. Christmas roast dinner at lunchtime
  2. Chinese hot pot in the evening
  3. Chinese dim sum lunch on boxing day
  4. This year, we added an evening round at a family friend's for even more Christmas dinner, but on Boxing Day
I have to say, the food at Christmas is pretty awesome. I would say that my Mum's is most awesome, but a lot of people say the same, don't they? Feast your eyes on this bad boy. My Mum not only cooks a Turkey roast, she does about 3 or 4 other types of meat roasts along with all the veggies. And they are all awesome.  This year we had:
  • Roast meats: Whole turkey, lamb, beef, and pork
  • Vegetables: White sweet potato, roast parsnips, potatoes, carrots, asparagus, Brussels sprouts
  • Stuffing: Balls wrapped in bacon
  • Gravy: Beef gravy, and lemon and orange turkey gravy

For a good few years running, we have then gone over to see family and have a Chinese hot pot in the evening. Basically, a whole load of raw food is put onto the table, ready to cook on a portable gas stove with a metal pot on top. The pots are filled with stock and the various meats and vegetables are put in to cook at the table.

Table set up for a Chinese hot pot

This particular stove has a little plate that goes in the middle where you can fry as well. Here are some satay King prawns in action and you can see the broth bubbling away, infusing the foods being cooked inside it.

Fried satay king prawns

There are also usually a variety of sauces and dips around the table to add some flavour to the foods.

Now, I could talk about normal dessert after a Chinese meal, but I would only mention oranges and tangerines. Good fortune and all that. But instead, I will show you this chocolate cake. No, not just any chocolate cake – Marks and Spencer chocolate cake. They always have beautifully presented desserts for Christmas and this was a lovely, not too heavy, and yummyful chocolate cake. Yes, I know that 'yummyful' is not actually a word.

On Boxing Day, the food fest continues. Usually, we are out for dim sum. I'd now like to take a moment to explain what dim sum actually is and I am encouraged to explain as I have come across "dim sum" on many sample wedding menu's recently (in an attempt to find a wedding venue, not just for the fun of it) and each time I ask what they mean, it's not actually proper dim sum. 

So what is Dim Sum?
Dim sum is a style of Chinese food that is served in small portions. Much of it is steamed or served on small plates. Think of Spanish Tapas, but a Chinese version of it. Lots of small dishes for sharing. It's usually served on a Sunday afternoon and in many Chinese restaurants, they bring round the different types of dim sum in trolleys and then you pick what you want. My family and I often meet our relatives for dim sum and drink tea. This is known as Yum Cha which if directly translated, means 'drink tea'.

I'll talk more about dim sum in another blog post. Firstly, because this is getting far too long. And secondly, I should take pictures to show :)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Christmas Foodie Gifts

I love all the foodie gifts I got for Christmas. There were all kinds including these below – gingerbread mix and cutter set, homemade cookie jar mix, a spice recipe book, chocolates, and a chutney and pâté hamper set.

Gingerbread cookie mix

I really liked the lovely oat and raisin cookie mix in a jar which my friend @fashion_bandit made. I like how it's already measured out and layered up beautifully in this jar. It's a really lovely homemade gift.

I first saw this idea from a Twitter find: Scarlet Bakes. Look at how beautifully presented all these jars are on the website. It makes it so easy for someone to bake a fresh batch of goods without having to get larger quantities of each ingredient either.

So I couldn't wait to get baking with these oat and raisin cookies from my friend. So quick and easy – all I needed to do was combine with the wet ingredients, shape and put in the oven and cool! These were so yummy. I wanted to wrap some up and give them to friends but my partner and I ended up eating them all! We haven't quite finished with the festive indulgence :)

Oat and raisin cookies

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