Tomato and Chilli Chutney

This is probably one of my favourite chutneys. It’s spicy, tomatoy, with a lovely caramelised flavour to it. It goes great with hard cheeses, such as cheddar or Gouda! Though I’ve also been known to have it with chips! 

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Ingredients
6-8 Large Vine Tomatoes

3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Garlic Gloves

40g Fresh Ginger

3 Red Chillies

125ml Red Wine Vinegar

250g Light Brown Sugar

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3.

Halve the tomatoes and place into a roasting tin. Throw in the garlic cloves and drizzle over the oil. Season and roast for 25-30 minutes, until nice and sticky and caramalised.

While they are roasting peal and slice the ginger and chop up the chillies. Add to large pan, along with the tomatoes. Take the skin off the garlic and add. Blend together until you have a chunky mixture.

Add the the vinegar and sugar to the mixture and place on a medium heat. When the mixture begins to boil reduce the temperature and leave to simmer.  Leave for about 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour into warm sterilised jar. Seal and store in cool, dark place.

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This chutney gets better with age! Try to leave it for at least a month before diving in!!

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Foxlow, Soho

The much more chilled, baby sister of Hawksmoor, Foxlow has the same fundamentals – good food, great drink, all sourced to the highest standard. They have a few now, Chiswick, Balham, Clekenwell and Soho. This is based on my experience in the Soho branch!!

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I booked a table via opentable.com, I’m lazy and really do hate to talk to strangers on the phone unless I have to! It’s super easy to do and reliable. My sister and I booked in for Brunch at 11am. Everyone knows by now that I LOVE brunch. It’s probably my favourite meal, just edging out Afternoon Tea. It’s more relaxing, full of great food and every now again a glass (or bottle!) of bubbles or a spicy Bloody Mary.

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A mixture of large and small tables, low and high, leather chairs, wood and tiles all give a very cool, relax feeling. Plus it has massive glass windows, giving it a lot of natural light, but still somehow managing to give an almost intimate feel.

I arrived a little early, and with my sister running a little late, I ordered myself a Vietnamese Coffee. These are a small obsession of mind – slightly sweet, creaming, strong, iced coffees! Though this was not entirely what I got here, it was still lovely, and strong; two very important factors for my morning coffee. It was more of a Frappuccino style, blended rather than over ice and not as sweet. I’m not sure if they used condensed milk or not. But it was £3.65 and like I said still tasty!

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When the Big Sis arrived, she ordered tea, though we quickly realised that both of us wanted something a bit stronger. We resisted the bottomless brunch as we both had places to go that afternoon, it was a hard choice I can tell you now! We went for a bottle of their prosecco, Nino Franco, at £28 a bottle it wasn’t the cheapest thing we could have chosen but it was delicious. And we felt very fancy having bubbles with our brunch!

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I went for the Fried Chicken on Croissant Waffle with a Fried Egg! Didn’t your mouth just water reading that! All of their chicken comes from Castlemead Farm. They are all free-range and well looked after which I always think is a bonus when restaurants do this! It shows they care about all aspects of their place, not just making money. It came with sausage gravy but I was offered maple syrup when it arrived – I couldn’t say no to that! It was amazing!! The chicken, which in past experience can be incredibly dry when fried, was moist and almost fell apart soft. The gravy was thick and so flavourful, though I only had a little as, like I said, maple syrup was offered! For me this was one of the best brunches!

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My Sister, feeling greedy, and knowing she was going out to the football after went for the Full Breakfast! And at only £9.75, it was a bargain for the amount you get. Fried egg, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans and toast! All cooked to perfection.

The service was really good to start but as they got busier they didn’t pay us too much attention. We had to go find someone to ask for the bill. However, when I first arrived they were lovely and very welcoming!

I would highly recommend hitting up this Soho restaurant for brunch! I don’t think you can go to wrong.

Why I love Pop Up!!

I know it is probably one of the best marketing ploys of the 21st Century but I love going to a pop up. Firstly, 90% of the ones I go to are in London, I don’t live there now but I read and follow so many other people which publicise these events. I know London has a lot of them, and with so many to choose from, they don’t tend to get as horribly crowded. And they really do try to outdo each other which is great for us consumers!

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The reasons why…

They are always different! I love to travel (if you hadn’t guessed!) and I find a pop up in an area I know and love, can give me that same sort of feeling when I find a cool bar, or a great place to eat in a new city. Even if they are in the same location as ones I’ve been to before, the set up always makes it feel so special. It always helps that they tend to be on roof tops and therefore we go when it’s sunny. And sunshine will make even the worst day that much better.

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Everyone is always so happy – because it’s new and you have to want to go (and stick out the queues sometimes!) people are always so happy and bubbly. Even the servers that have probably worked 12 hour shifts for the last 5 days are loving life and so excited, which let’s be honest makes me way more excited.

The effort that some of these guys go to just amazes me, they can work months for just a few days or weeks of an event. It’s incredible the details they think of, from an idea they create themes, ensuring all of it flows, from the to the hall way leading to it to the tables you sit at, to the outfits for the staff to the colour scheme to compliment them.

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Food – yes it tends to be a little pricey but it’s always great! These hard workers bosh out perfect snacks every time. And I love when a pop up is based entirely on food – I went to Bloodies Kitchen pop up in Selfridges for some cookies and milk (yes you read that right!). It was a little expensive but it was worth it. Going with a couple of friends for a pure sugar high is such fun. It has now changed to someone making roll up ice cream right in front of you; and yes it’s also AMAZING!

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If you have food you must have drinks…and much like food it can be expensive. But it’s always so much fun getting something I wouldn’t normally get – frozen margaritas anyone? Small side note and slightly annoying thing is 90% of these places serve their drinks in plastic! It’s a pet hate of mine, I understand why they do but either way would be nice to have glass.

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The views you get are always unique. Whether you are on a roof top or a boat the views are always a drawing point of the event. Rainbow Afternoon Tea on the Thames, passing some iconic buildings while munching my way food so incredible food will go down as one of the best experiences ever! Oh and with bubbles!!

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There are two down sides –

Sometimes they just aren’t done well. I’ve recently had this, where the event was just poorly organised and we ended up missing the sun on the roof. That reason we came!

You wish they would stay like that forever! Sometimes a day, a week, or even a summer just isn’t enough! But that’s the beauty they will always make you want more…

 

Have you been to any this Summer? Did you enjoy them? Or just find them over priced?

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Tart

I love having family and friends over for dinner… or using my mums kitchen to bake for them. I find it so therapeutic and love seeing them devour the food I’ve made them. As I’ve not been home lately, I’ve been on the hunt for a new recipe to wow them with over birthday season. This is September for us with four of us born in the month plus my sister in law is at the end of August and now my niece at the beginning of October! It’s nice to find some new desserts to test on them!

I can’t wait to get back and make This for them. It’s super easy to do and can be made the day before. It lasts about 4-5 days in the fridge but is best on the day it’s baked.

Use the caramel sauce from Salted Caramel Sauce – aka Heaven in a Jar!

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

225g Plain Flour

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150g Chilled Butter

25g Icing Sugar

1 Large Free Range Egg

Chocolate Ganache

175ml Double Cream

 

175g Good Quality Dark Chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids

 

15g Unsalted Butter

1Tbsp Golden Syrup

Method

Make your caramel sauce first using and leave to cool.

To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl and add the cubed, chilled butter. Rub together using your finger tips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sift in the icing sugar and lightly stir in. Add the egg and mix to form a soft dough. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, till it is about 3mm thick! Line a rectangular 30cm fluted tin, press the pastry lightly to the corners and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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Heat your over to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Blind bake your shell – do this by lining the pastry with baking parchment and filling with ceramic beans or rice if you don’t have any! Back for 10-15 minutes. Remove the beans and bake for a further 7-10 minutes or until golden. Set to one side and leave to cool.

While the pastry is baking make the ganache. Chop the chocolate into small chunks and Place into a heat proof bowl and pop to one side. Place the cream into a sauce and put on a low heat until simmering. Pour over the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the butter and golden syrup and continue to stir until fully incorporated. Set to one side to cool, but not set!

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Once the pastry shell is cold and the ganache cool, spread over the Salted Carmel Sauce.

Ensure you get into the corners. Follow this by pouring over the ganache, till to the top of the pastry case. Chill for 1-2 hours before serving.

Serve straight from the fridge! Add a little sea salt on the top to bring out extra flavours!

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ENJOY!! 

The Open Gate Brewery, Dublin

First of all a little disclaimer as I don’t want some people to get all antsy about it… The Boy is a Brewery at Guinness and works for the Pilot Plant which provides the beer for the OBG. But this is my view and only my view.

SOME OF THESE BEERS WILL END UP ON TAP AT YOUR LOCAL PUB OR THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD. OTHERS WILL NEVER LEAVE THESE WALLS.

– GUINNESS WEBSITE

If this statement isn’t motivating enough to get you try some of those exclusive beers…With seven beers on tap, rotating as and when they run out, you rarely get the same beer twice. This can be a great thing – I love to try something new, but every now and again disappointing when they don’t have one on you really liked. Though I have learnt from this and have started to get a growler to take home if I really love it. Another great aspect of the Brewery!

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Located just behind the main Storehouse it can sometimes get looked over but it’s well worth a look in. Book online for only €6. For this you obviously get your entry but also a flight of beers (or pint!) of your choice. You really can’t go wrong. Once you finish those don’t worry you aren’t just limited to the one, they have a fully functioning bar so carry on ordering away. Though sorry if you’re travelling with kids, this is a strictly over 18s venue! It is also now Wednesday-Friday, adding another day just before summer.

I enjoy going in and being surprised by what they have in – see if I can find that beer to fit my mood, normally a post rough day at work or Friday Night Drinks! But if you can’t wait they do try to update their website with what’s on. On a side note, it’s a shame that their Twitter is clearly run by a Marketing Team so the vibe of the place is never really given off. Lots of structure, less fun, and well much more marketing! And they don’t have Instagram! Clearly the thoughts of someone who enjoys their Social Media!

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The bar actually looks onto the brewery, or more realistically is part of the brewery! You can see all of the equipment, barrels and every now and again a late worker! This is great, especially if you’re as noisy as I am. But remember it’s a working brewery, so pretty much just giant stainless steel vessels, but still pretty cool to see.

Obviously I have to write about the beers so I’ve just picked a couple that I loved from my last visit –

Citra IPA – You can actually get this one in a few select pubs and bars in Dublin which is great! Lots of citrus flavours coming through from the hops with a slight pinie note. This is a great summer beer.

Hells Yeah – Unfortunately this is one of those that has left us now! I actually got the last ¾ of a pint! But it deserves a mention… Made with German Malts and Hops gives this German style beer an authentic taste. Slight malty with a little bitter edge to it. It’s well balanced, and very easy to drink!

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So whether you’re visiting with friends or live in the area, pop down to the Open Gate Brewery for a cheeky one…or two…or three

Hoppy Beer Pickles

With the boy as a brewer and endless amounts of beer that comes into the flat I decided to do something other than just drink it, much to do his disappointment.

Beer Pickled Pickles!

These are so easy to do and really taste fantastic. I recommend a hoppy beer, here I used Lagunitas IPA but I’ve also done it with one of the boys brews for my sister wedding! Use whatever beer makes you happy, though I wouldn’t recommend a stout!

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As it’s just two of us here I made this into a smaller recipe, but you can easily double or triple it! Just up the quantities and jar size!

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Ingredients 
100g Beer
150g Apple Vinegar
100g Granulated Sugar
15g Yellow Mustard Seeds
10g Whole Peppercorns
20g Pink Himalayan Salt
1tsp Chilli Flakes
400g Snacking Cucumbers

Method
Place the beer, vinegar and sugar into a pan. Place on a medium heat and stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients, bar the cucumbers and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Sterilise your jar. Do this by filling up with hot, soapy water, rinse clean and place in the oven on a low heat for 10 minutes. Or wash in the dishwasher. Your jar needs to be warm when you fill it though.
Top and tail your cucumbers. Slice into quarters and put them into your jar standing up right. Try and wedge in as many as you can.
Pour over the pickle mix, covering the cucumbers. Knock out the air bubbles by lightly tapping on the surface and seal.
Leave for at least 4 days before devouring. I recommend a good cheese board with some hard cheeses or in a cheese toastie!20170806_141524.jpg

Salted Caramel Sauce – aka Heaven in a Jar!

When I first started making caramel sauce I was told never to stir it, to just let it caramelise on its own. And what I’ve discovered through the years is that it’s so wrong! You can stir it, I encourage it. I find that if you don’t you can end up burning the sugar. This is more so if you are using larger amounts.

I eat this by the spoonful when it’s still ever so slightly warm, I’m too impatient to wait for it to cool! This is an incredibly versatile recipe and can be used in so many ways. The sky is the limit.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

500g Caster Sugar

1 tbsp Water

180g Unsalted Butter, room temperature

1 tsp Vanilla extract

250ml Double Cream

1tsp Pink Himalayan Salt

 

Method

Put the sugar and water in a large, heavy bottom pan and place on a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar starts to dissolve.

While this is happening, cut up your butter into cubes. Place the cream into a microwave able dish and heat for 30-45 seconds until warm, but not hot!

Once the sugar has completely caramelised and is light brown in colour take off the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Stir until the butter has melted.

Slowly add your cream and salt and place back onto the heat on a low temperature. This will help you as the cream with form a lump in your pan. Keep stirring until a lowly smooth caramel sauce forms.

Allow to cool before use.

This sauce will keep for up to one month in an airtight jar in the fridge. Use at room temperature.