May, 2013


29
May 13

Upper Deck

 Upper Deck 2

Upper Deck is the newly opened restaurant at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel in Dorset. Overlooking the beautiful Christchurch Harbour and Hengistbury Head, it is very tastefully decorated and comfortable spot from which to admire the stunning views.

The menus are designed by local chef Alex Aitken, and use a good selection of locally-sourced produce, including Sopley asparagus and plenty of locally sourced fish. There is plenty of choice available on the menu, including an A la carte menu, sharing platters and a tasting menu with matched wines if you fancy it.

Upper deck1

The wine list offers plenty of choice and we particularly enjoyed the Billecart Salmon Rosé champagne as an aperitif. To start, we shared a grilled tiger prawn served with rocket, and grilled Sopley asparagus with a poached egg. Both were delicious, light starters and reasonably priced at around £6 each.

For our main courses, we tried the lamb which was served with a ratatouille and spinach and dauphinoise potato. This was a great main and every component of the dish was really delicious and well cooked. We also tried the rib eye steak which was served with a sauce of your choice, chunky chips, grilled tomatoes and a watercress salad. The steak was very good indeed and cooked as requested. It was a great, simple main course which was well-executed.

For dessert, we really enjoyed the chocolate fondant, which was perfectly cooked and portioned – it was just the right amount. The crème brûlée was really good, too, with a perfect thin sugar crust on top.

Upper Deck is a great destination for lunch or dinner and is one of the top restaurants in the area. It is smart, but relaxed with a lively feel and offers really good, well-cooked food.


27
May 13

Las Iguanas, Oxford

Las Iguanas

Las Iguanas

Mexican food is enjoying plenty of attention of late. There is so much more to Mexican food than many people realize – it’s full of fresh flavours and interesting ingredients.

Las Iguanas is chain of Latino-themed restaurants that seems to be moving with the times and has introduced a new menu offering freshly made authentic Latin American dishes originating from Mexico and Brazil. It’s a lively restaurant to eat at, with loud music and cocktails flowing, and this was certainly the case on a recent visit to the Oxford branch on a Saturday night to see things for ourselves.

The menu offers loads of choice, from sharing dishes, to more predictable mains, such as fajitas, and a range of interesting Brazilian main dishes, including feijoada. We started with a very good mojito each and a selection of tasty nibbles, including some grilled king prawns and the Las Iguanas deconstructed guacamole which was very good indeed.

It’s great to see so much of the menu is gluten free, and dishes are marked accordingly making ordering easy. For our main course, we tried the fajitas which were cooked in a delicious spicy, smoky blend of spices, and the galinhada, a Brazilian paella type dish with rice, prawns and chicken which was very tasty and interesting to try something a little different.

For desert, we really enjoyed the Mexican mess – a twist on Eton mess made using a sweet hibiscus syrup drizzled over cream, meringue and berries.

Las Iguanas really surprised us by just how good the food was. It is fairly priced and there is plenty of choice on offer, too. We found it to be a great place for an informal, relaxed meal with plenty of allergy-friendly choices on offer.


25
May 13

Roasted cinnamon plums

Roasted cinnamon plums

Roasted cinnamon plums

Somehow roasting fruit or vegetables seems to make them even more delicious. I love to roast tomatoes and peppers and keep them cold in the fridge to add to salads. It really brings out their sweetness and loses their acidity.

The same goes for plums. Especially those you so often get in punnets that never seem to ripen properly. This is a great way to use them up. They taste amazing and make a great dessert served with ice cream, or even a tasty breakfast, with some plain yoghurt.

Make sure you use a good non-stick baking tray though, such as this excellent one made by Judge, as the juices become very sticky, you don’t want to be chiseling them off once they’re cooked as roasted plums become very soft indeed.

Roasted plums

Roasted plums

Roasted cinnamon plums

Serves 4

Ingredients 

1 punnet plums

5 tbsp cinnamon sugar, or 4 tbsp caster sugar mixed with 1 tbsp cinnamon

Method 

Preheat the oven to 170C. Halve the plums and remove the stones. Lay out cut side up on the baking tray and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for around 20 minutes until soft. Serve hot or cold. They keep well in the fridge in a Tupperware container.


20
May 13

Moddershall Oaks

Moddershall Oaks

Moddershall Oaks

Moddershall Oaks is a newly built spa retreat nestled in 14 acres of parkland in Staffordshire. It calls itself a retreat, but is in fact a small, luxury boutique spa, with just 10 rooms, or suites as they are known here. It also offers a large spa, salon, gym and award-winning restaurant.

The suites at Moddershall Oaks are large with a private patio and outdoor hot tub. From here, you are free to wander the hotel and hop from the spa to the pool to the relaxation room, as you wish. The hotel has a strong emphasis on pampering and offers a whole host of hair and beauty treatments.

The Spa

The Spa

The restaurant at Moddershall Oaks is open all day, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, with the evening meal being the highlight. Using as much produce from local suppliers as possible, the dinner menu offers five courses with a wide selection of wines and cocktails to accompany your meal. The highlights for us were the chicken terrine, and the 28-day aged Staffordshire steaks. The menu offers a good range of choice with around 7 choices for starters and mains and a separate vegetarian menu available. Allergies are catered for with notice.

If the weather is nice for your visit, there are some woodland trails you can enjoy a stroll around. There is also a tennis court with free racket hire and bicycles which you can borrow, again free of charge.

Moddershall Oaks is a great place in a lovely setting to come to get away at any time of the year. It’s an extremely comfortable place to stay, whilst you are pampered and very well fed. A visit is highly recommended.


13
May 13

Homemade lemon curd with Vivien Lloyd

The ingredients to make lemon curd

The ingredients to make lemon curd

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I have recently been discovering the art of preserving. I’ve made jam, chutney and marmalade, and recently my attentions turned to curds.

Vivien Lloyd is one of the UK’s leading preserves experts and her latest ebook entitled Fruit Curds: Make and Bake has been guiding me through every step of the way.

Curds are an often forgotten preserve, but are absolutely delicious, much more so homemade than shop bought, and have all manner of uses in cakes, desserts and ice creams. The first time I tried homemade curd, I was absolutely blown away by the flavour – it is in a completely different league to anything else I have tried.

Making curd is not difficult and the process is shown in much detail at every stage with photos and videos which are really useful as you know exactly how the curd should look and feel throughout the process.

Vivien’s book shows you how to use your homemade curds in baking producing a range of incredibly delicious cakes and desserts.  If you’re interested in starting to make your own curd, I highly recommend this ebook, as it contains all the information you’re ever likely to need, and some really special recipes to make, too.

Vivien has very kindly allowed me to share her extra special Lemon Curd recipe with you here. Do give it a go and let us know how you get on. Vivien Lloyd can be found on Twitter as @vivienlloyd.

Making lemon curd

Making lemon curd


Lemon Curd


Lemon curd is the best known and my favourite curd with its rich flavour and bright colour. This is a traditional, tried and tested recipe and one to consider for competitions. I first made this recipe during my early days of preserving and it has become the one I return to most often. This recipe was first published by HMSO in 1929, Home Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables.

Makes about 1.25kg/ 2¾lbs

300ml (½ pint) freshly squeezed lemon juice ( 5-9 lemons)
215g ( 7½oz) unsalted butter 
700g (1lb 9oz) granulated sugar
300ml (½ pint) fresh eggs (5-6 eggs)

1.Wash the lemons and peel them very thinly with a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife before squeezing out and measuring their juice. Place the butter and sugar in an ovenproof  bowl over a large saucepan of barely simmering hot water. Add the lemon juice and lemon rind, and leave until the fat has melted.

2. Lift the bowl off the pan and leave to cool slightly. Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl but do not whisk them. Gradually stir in the fat mixture, then strain the curd through a sieve (leaving the peel behind) into a clean bowl and place it over a saucepan of barely simmering hot water.

3.Stir continuously until the mixture is slightly thickened- the curd is ready when it just coats the back of the spoon. This will take about 15-20 mins. Do not over-cook or it will curdle. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 5 mins, during which time the curd will thicken slightly.

4. Sieve the curd for a smoother texture. Pour into clean jars, taking care to fill them absolutely full. Press a waxed disc waxed side down on the surface of the curd and leave to cool. Cover the pots with a cellophane cover when cold. Store in a refrigerator and eat within 4-6 weeks.

FIRST PRESERVES CURDS ebook cover2 sm 02


8
May 13

A day with Lesley Waters

Lesley Waters in action

Lesley Waters in action

Dorset is a very foodie county, renowned for its excellent produce flavoured by many celebrity chefs. One of those is Lesley Waters, who has been a regular feature on our TV screens for years. Lesley fell in love with Dorset just over a decade ago and made Dorset her home, converting a beautiful stone cottage on the rolling hills near to the Somerset border to create her own cookery school.

I recently spent a day at the Lesley Waters Cookery School with Lesley herself,  hosted by Aga Rangemaster, cooking with some of the best of local produce. Lesley is a very dynamic lady and a wonderful teacher and hostess, making sure everyone gets involved and touches, smells and watches everything.

The cookery school itself is absolutely beautiful, with stunning views from every window. Inside, the kitchen is decorated in a rustic yet modern style, with both walls kitted out with gorgeous deep red Rangemaster cookers. Lesley is a fan of the Rangemaster cooker, which is a delight to use, with fan assisted ovens which make baking accurate and gas hobs which are easy to control and cook with.

We made a range of Lesley’s signature dishes on the day which we enjoyed for lunch with a glass of fizz and I’m delighted to be able to share one of my favourite dishes of the day with you below.

Peppered scallops with puy lentils

Peppered scallops with puy lentils

Peppered scallops with puy lentil dressing

Adapted from the original recipe with permission

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

12 scallops, hand-dived and cleaned

Sea salt

Pepper

2 tbsp torn basil leaves

10g butter

4 tbsp puy lentils, cooked

For the dressing 

5 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

110g wild rocket leaves

110g sundried tomatoes

Method

1)   Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the scallops and season with salt and pepper. Cook for around 2-3 minutes on each side. Add the basil, butter and lentils and allow the scallops to cook for a further minute in the butter.

2)   Mix the oil and balsamic vinegar together and add the rocket leaves and tomatoes. Mix well to evenly dress the salad. Place on a plate and top with the scallops and lentils. Serve immediately.


7
May 13

Designer cakes

Alessi designer cake moulds

Alessi designer cake moulds

If you love design and are interested in style, it’s always curious to see how it comes together with food.

Alessi is a company which produces all manner of designer home wares, and are now making designer cake moulds. I was fascinated to see how these would work and keen to give them a go. I thought they would lend themselves best to a dense type of cake, so I immediately thought of this delicious favourite recipe.

Lemon and almond designer cakes

Lemon and almond designer cakes

Lemon and almond cake

Makes 12 individual cakes

Ingredients

250g butter or margarine

250g caster sugar

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp lemon extract

5 medium eggs, beaten

250g ground almonds

50g plain flour, gluten free if needed

Method 

1)   Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease your cake moulds and set them out upside down on a baking tray

2)   Place the butter and margarine into a large mixing bowl and beat together well until light and fluffy. Add the almond and lemon extract and mix in thoroughly.

3)   Add the eggs and beat into the butter and sugar well

4)   Now add the ground almonds and sift in the plain flour and fold into the mixture. Spoon into the prepared cake moulds and bake for 20-25 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean.

5)   Remove the cakes from the moulds and allow to cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and enjoy.


3
May 13

Lemon polenta muffins

Lemon polenta muffins

Lemon polenta muffins

If you love cake, like me, but sometimes keep half an eye on how much you’re enjoying, these delicious mini muffins might just be for you. They’re wheat free and really quite nutritious for cakes.

Polenta cakes tend to be a little more crumbly by nature, so for the best results, use a really good quality non-stick tin, such as this one made by Judge, and make sure it’s greased well if you are not using paper cases.

Lemon polenta muffins

Makes 12 mini muffins

Ingredients

75g butter

75g caster sugar

75g fine polenta

75g ground almonds

1 large free-range egg, beaten

Finely grated zest of one unwaxed lemon and 1 tbsp lemon juice

Method

1)   Preheat the oven to 180C

2)   Line your mini muffin tin, or grease well. Set aside

3)   Place the butter and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together well until light and fluffy

4)   Add the remaining ingredients and beat together well.

5)   Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown

Featuring WPMU Bloglist Widget by YD WordPress Developer