Pergola on The Roof

What I love about London is all the unique pop ups you get in the summer! As I don’t actually live there now it’s hard to squeeze them all in, but don’t worry I do find away! 

With an afternoon free when visiting my family for a weekend, it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with a friend and go to one of these lovely places! 

First on the list was Pergola on the Roof. Situated just past Westfield Shopping centre in West London and both of us based that way it was meant to be! Also helped by the fact it was a gorgeous sunny day (annoyingly though sunglasses were forgotten!) we headed up. We didn’t have a reservation but they do have a few seats available for walk ins. They obviously aren’t as swanky as the reserved ones, just being garden folding chairs but still in did us perfectly. Like I said annoying we forgot the sunnies, the stones reflected a lot of light so I did spend a lot of time squinting at my friend! Thankfully she didn’t take too much offence to it – well I hope she didn’t!! 

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Obviously the first place to start is the bar! After lots of debating we ordered two frozen margaritas…what they don’t mention is you can only get that from the main bar, frustrating but as it wasn’t busy not too irritating. They were pretty good, alcoholic slushes, what’s not to love?! Down side though, and yes we know why it’s the case, but they were served in plastic cups. When it’s around £8 a drink you would think that you would get at least a hard plastic glass but unfortunately not. This bugs me not because no one really likes drinking out of them but they aren’t exactly great for the environment. Maybe something they should think about for next year…or even their winter event! But let’s move on from that, they were refreshing which was exactly what you want on a warm summer day in London. 

After drinking and chatting food was going to happen. Starting with Breddos Tacos, we ordered a couple of Tacos (obviously haha) to share. And man, they were good! We didn’t look amazing while we ate them, but what are friends for but not to mock you while you try not to drop your food everywhere.

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With the second drink in hand we then moved on to 8 Horton Square. Describing 20170507_143625themselves as Mediterranean Food Shack, you really can’t go wrong. If we are honest though, we wanted chips, picky food is what we were after but with Salt n Sauce only serving them with their fish – I don’t think they had prepared for being so busy as they did have just chips on their menu! And with Patty &a Bun being so busy we went to 8 Hoxton Square. And oh we were delighted! With them doing deep fired baby potatoes with probable the best mayo ever we felt like we had landed the jackpot. Safe to say we got our own massive bowls and polished them off easily. I think we will actually need to head to their actual restaurant to try some more of their food soon…maybe when pop up season is over! 

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The atmosphere was perfect – lots of young people with friends, family lunches and definitely some first dates going on. It felt relaxed, yet energetic. There was a buzz that you only get with day drinks in the sun. 

Head up, and don’t forget those sunglasses! 

 

Curried Sea Bass

Summer looks like it is here (for now!) which makes me want to eat light evening meal. I don’t know what it is but the sun is out and I want fish and greens. Fish in general is full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, all a great for the body. When purchasing your fish though, make sure it is sustainably sourced – talk to your fish monger or read the labels. It doesn’t feel like it makes a difference but in the long run it will, we need to care about our environment as much as we care about our own bodies. Sorry to go all eco on you but it is something I do feel passionate about.

Ingredients 

Paste

1tsp Lemon Juice

1tsp ground ginger

½ tsp chili flakes

1tsp gram masala

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp double cream

 

2 fillets of Sea Bass, skin on20170522_200257

 

2 White Potatoes

1 Clove Garlic

1 Spring Onion

2 tbsp Olive Oil

 

3 florets of broccoli

4 large handfuls of Spinach

 

Coriander

Mango Chutney

 

Method

In a bowl mix together the all the ingredients for the paste and stir together until smooth. Spread evenly over the two fillets of fish, place on the baking tray and set aside.

Chop the potatoes into quarters or bit sizes pieces. Place into a large pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for approx. 15 minutes or until tender. Drain (but keep the water) and leave to steam dry. This is useful to get them to a crisp on them later.

Heat up the oil in a frying pan, add the potatoes, garlic and spring onion and fry. Cook the broccoli in the potato water, approx. 7-10 minutes. With the spinach place in a large pan with 2tbsp of water onto a medium heat, place the lid on and cook until wilted.

Meanwhile, heat the grill and place the seabass underneath, cook for around 6-8 minutes, until tender. Be careful to not overcook it or catch the paste!

Time to plate up – sprinkle over the coriander and a dollop of mango chutney! Enjoy

Classic Peanut Butter and Cacao Bites

This is a super easy, simple snack – only five ingredients! So I am keeping this post super simple too…

These are perfect for a little pick me up and last about 1 week in an airtight container. Not only are they simple to make there is hardly any washing up! Win win in my eyes!

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Ingredients

90g Oats

35g Honey

70g Crunch Peanut Butter

15g Cacao Powder

2 tsp Sesame Seeds

 

Method

Begin by placing all the ingredients a bowl. Give it a good stir, add two tablespoons of water to loosen up the mixture. Keep mixing until the mixture comes together.Screenshot_20170518-180336

Take a tablespoon of the mixture (approx. 20g) and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until all the mixture has finished, it should make around 12.

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Munch away! These are also perfect with a cuppa 😉

 

 

Mini Road Trip – Wicklow National Park and Glendalough

When we moved to Dublin we promised that we were actually going to see a bit of the country. We had lived in Edinburgh for a year and never quite got round to leaving the city! I worked weekends and The Boy was at uni during the week, making it harder to really get a few days to go somewhere. So this time we said we HAD to see more of the country. Plus all the pictures I’ve seen of Ireland make it look so gorgeous, I didn’t want to miss out.

20161030_103400We hired a car for 24hrs (not long!) but we just wanted to head down to Wicklow and Glendalough for some walks and a scenic drive. We do try to make the journey as part of the day as much as the destination. We went via Greystones so I could try out The Happy Pear café! And oh my, it was so worth the little detour. We 20161030_105722parked next to the beach and walked along the sand up to the café. It was so lovely to be on the beach…it has been a while since I’ve properly seen the sea. The café is a healthy little place with a great courtyard to sit in while you enjoy your breakfast. I went for the porridge with everything on. It was so good and super filling – just what I needed before the long walk we were going to do. The coffee was also pretty tasty. The café was really busy but still the service was quick. Unfortunately though they had already sold out of their avocado on toast but one of those things…just gives us an excuse to go back again. We headed back to the car but walked through the town this time, it’s a classic seaside town which always makes me really happy. Reminds me of my childhood! I could have happily spent an afternoon just wondering around there. But we got back to the car and headed down to Glendalough and the Wicklow National Park.

 

20161030_133432The drive took about 30-40 minutes from Greystones but what we didn’t realise was the rest of Ireland seemed to have the same idea! To get into the car park took us about 45 minutes!! So if you do go down, go down early or try to not go down whenever one else is!! I know that’s easier said than done. Anyways, we parked up and set off. We took the long ish walk (I believe it’s the orange one on their map!) which is about 8km taking around 2 hours. And it was gorgeous!! We went left passed the medieval ruins, which are pretty cool. The most obvious part is the 30m Round Tower. It’s a pretty spectacular building. I loved how the door is high off the ground as to stop intruders coming in. There are also ruins of a Church built in the 6th Century along with all the grave stones. It’s amazing what can survive.

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20161030_150229Not many people were doing the full walk, or if they were they were walking in the opposite direction to us, and even then it was probably only 3 or 4 couples that passed us! We felt truly alone and it was wonderful. The walk was of medium toughness, though take into account we are both semi fit. There is a small incline about half way. This takes you to one of the most beautiful views of the valley! We just stood there for about 15 minutes taking it all in. It helped that the weather was perfect too… warm with blue sky with a little overcast, perfect walking weather in my eyes. Once I had finished taking lots of photos we moved on. You then go into the more foresty part. This is where the Poulanass Waterfall is. It’s so pretty but I warn you now this is where it is a lot busier! It does take away from it a little but it’s still gorgeous. Plus the sound of the waterfall semi-drowns out the other people.

From here, we walked back passed the car park and headed to the Upper Lake. Yet another fantastic view. Between the refection and the mountains it was stunning. There are also a lot of people with their dogs which I find great fun to watch! Watch them bounding in and out of the water. Wicklow is a real family place, it’s great for kids get them out the house and running around.

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We headed back and instead of taking the main roads we drove through the park. It was dusk at this point but it was still so gorgeous. And, much like our walk, it was quiet! The roads are super bendy so at points I did get a little nervous. Though I always do when I’m not too sure on the road. It only took about an hour and forty five minutes to get back, not too bad in the grand scheme of things. And it was worth taking the scenic route, to me it just makes it feel so much more special.

I found it so lovely to see this part of Ireland and it really isn’t far from Dublin. You can easily get there by public transport, so you don’t have to get hire a car. I highly recommend going down if you want to get out of the city.

 

 

Adult Brownie Scotch Eggs

Many things led to this recipe! I’ve lived in Dublin now for 7 months (SEVEN! Wow, time has flown by!) and I realised I hadn’t cooked or baked with Guinness. This is poor on my side, one: I live in the home of Guinness and two: The Boy works for them, which has meant we have a lot of Guinness in the house! Plus Easter is just around the corner so we all need a good themed Easter recipe in our lives. Also, why should kids get all the chocolatey goodness…

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Ingredients

Brownies

130g Butter

200g Caster Sugar

3 Eggs

125g Plain Flour

½ tsp Baking Powder

150ml Guinness Extra Foreign Stout

Buttercream

150g Icing Sugar

300g Butter

60ml Baileys

2 tbsp Cocoa Powder plus extra for dusting

 

6 Crème Eggs

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a 25x19cm tin.

Melt the butter in a medium sized bowl and stir into the cocoa until it forms a paste. Slowly add 100ml of Guinness, it will foam! Slowly mix together, this is why you need that medium sized bowl! Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until nice and pale. Add the flour and baking powder and fold together until smooth.  Repeat with the cocoa powder and remaining Guinness.

Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes. They should be soft to touch but baked all the way through, insert a skewer to check they are done. Set aside, and leave to completely cool.

Whisk together the icing sugar, butter and baileys until light and fluffy. Take about a third of the buttercream and place in another bowl. Add the Cocoa Powder and whisk until smooth to make your cocoa buttercream for the outside of the scotch eggs.

If you have a food processor, place the brownie in and pulse until they look like breadcrumbs. If you don’t, don’t worry! Break up the brownies into small ish chunks, using your electric whisk, on the lowest setting whisk until they break up and again look like breadcrumbs.

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Mix the brownie breadcrumbs with Baileys buttercream! Using your hands separate the mixture into 6 balls, approx. 135g each. In your hand, flatten one of the balls, place the crème egg in the middle and fold the brownie mixture around the egg. Squeeze together until you have a smooth ball. Repeat with the other crème eggs.

In a bowl add some cocoa powder ready to cover the scotch eggs

Now it gets messy…

One at a time – using a palate knife, cover the ball in the cocoa buttercream. Place in the bowl of cocoa powder and light roll around until they are completely covered. Repeat until you’ve finished all six!

ENJOY!

 

(N.B –  remove the alcohol and this is great to make with kids – you can even cover in sprinkles instead of cocoa powder!)

Mosa – Sushi Burritos in the heart of Dublin

20170329_180632Every month I get my BBC Good Food Magazine (via my Mother as it’s posted to her house in the UK!). And to my great delight on their feature page was a restaurant in Dublin – Mosa! Not just that it was Sushi Burritos – two of the best things, Sushi and Burritos!! So come date night it was obvious where we were going to go for dinner. It was a bit odd at first as restaurant is a bit of a stretch, probably more café/fast food! They specialise not in the sushi burrito but bubble tea. I know a lot of people love this but I just can’t get over the texture so we didn’t try it. Though I do think next time I go I will, just to see if it was because I had a bad experience once.

20170329_180452There is a wall covered in colourful post-it notes where people have written everything from reviews to love notes to quotes. It’s sweet as you sit there waiting for you food having a little insight into other people’s lives. There are also origami cranes hanging from the ceiling. I have a massive soft spot for the cranes, as a long time ago I made them for The Boy when we weren’t seeing each other regularly.

To the food…I managed to convince The Boy that he wanted to go halves, which was a miracle in itself! I went for the California Dream – Crispy chicken, sesame seeds, avocado, cucumber and mayo. While The Boy went for the Fantastic Salmon – lettuce, 20170329_181150avocado, salmon and lots and lots of mayo! He was definitely glad we went halves as mine was definitely the better one. The Salmon was just not as flavourful, and had way too much mayo on.
The sizes were also pretty small, definitely more snack size than dinner size. Two things wrong here – the price is not snack size and we went there for dinner! So we ended up getting some popcorn chicken which was deliciously salty.

20170329_182621The service was great! They all seemed to be really happy bubbly people. It’s always so nice getting great service in places, however big or small they are

In all it was good but that’s just it, it was good…nothing to spectacular. I might go back again but there is a lot of other places I would like to try before I do.

Summer Fruit and Thyme Jam AND Bakewell Tart recipes

HAPPY SUNDAY!! It’s spring time (ish!) and I’m getting into preserves and fermenting recently. I think it’s great to stop wasting food but also I find it’s really therapeutic. It’s great to get a product at the end that shows such love and care. It’s also a great way to liven up your cupboard – no more plain strawberry jam for us! You can also use smaller jars and give them to friends and family as gifts.

I know these berries aren’t in season, they literally are called Summer Berries but I’m new and wanted to try with some fruit I knew before doing anything too crazy. I used frozen berries but you can obviously use fresh when they get into season. 

And what’s better than using your homemade jam in a Bakewell tart! It’s also a great way to show off, how many times can you say that it’s completely homemade. So here are the two recipes for you…but don’t worry if you don’t like Bakewell Tarts, the jam goes fantastically on toast (even with some cheeky peanut butter too!)


Summer Fruit and Thyme Jam

650g Mixed Berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, red currents and black currents!)

1tbsp water

35ml lemon juice (approx. half a lemon or use pre juiced)

550g Caster Sugar

1.5tbsp thyme, finally chopped

 

Yields approx. 0.5l

 

Place all the berries with the water into a deep, heavy bottomed pan and place on a low heat for 10 minutes to soften. Add the lemon juice and sugar, stir and bring to the boil until it reaches 104°C.

While you are doing this sterilise your jars! Turn your oven to the lowest setting and place your jars in there for about 15 min.

Take the jam off the heat and use the wrinkle test to check it’s ready. Do this by placing a spoon in the jam, using another spoon, on the back of the spoon push a strip through the jam. You are looking for it not to spring back. Stir through the thyme leaves

Spoon into your jars and seal! Your jam should last 6-12 months unopened. Once opened consume within 4-6 weeks.
Bakewell Tart

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

150g butter, chilled

25g icing sugar

1 large free-range egg, beaten

Frangipane Filling

150g butter, softened

150g caster sugar

150g ground almonds

1 large free-range egg, beaten

1 tsp almond extract

Icing

300g icing sugar

1 tsp almond extract

3tbsp Water
Method

First start with the pastry. Measure the flour into a large bowl with the cold butter. Using your finger tips, rub the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add in the icing sugar and stir using your hands. Pour in the beaten egg and mix to form a soft dough. It can be a tad sticky but it will be fine. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, approx 5mm thick. Place into your 23cm/9in fluted flan dish. Pop in the fridge for 40 minutes. 

Pre heat your oven to 180C Fan/200C/Gas Mark 6.

Scrunch up some baking paper and place on top of your pastry. Fill with baking beans, or in my case uncooked rice! They both do the same trick! Just make sure you push it into the corners. Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and take out the rice and bake for a further 7 minutes. Remove and reduce the heat of the oven to 160C Fan/180C/Gas 4 Leave to cool while making your filling.

For the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, egg and almond extract and mix.

Place 5tbsp of your lovely homemade jam into the cooled pastry case. Spread evenly, making sure you get into the edges. Top with your frangipane mix. Carefully push this to the edges making sure you can’t see any jam. A spatula is the easiest way for doing this. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until golden-brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.

For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in the almond extract and about 3 tablespoons cold water to make a smooth, fairly thick icing. When the tart has cooled completely, spoon the icing on top and spread to form a smooth surface. Leave to set the icing to set (I know it’s hard! But you’ll hate yourself if you don’t) serve in slices. I recommend some yogurt and some raspberries to top it, makes a great dessert!