Monday, 10 June 2013

Hangover Cure: Part 1

Brunch Frittata

This is a wonderful and simple recipe for brunch and it contains all the necessary ingredients to help ease the worst of hangovers. You can use up many odds and ends from the fridge as it’s easy to adapt and a great way to use up leftovers. We used 4 cheeses which sounds a little extravagant but you only need a little of each so be creative and tell us what worked well for you.

Ingredients- Serves 3-4

6 medium eggs
4 rashers of smoked bacon
Handful of new potatoes, sliced thinly and boiled until cooked through
1 red/orange pepper, cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 birds eye chilli, finely chopped
25g of each cheese, we used feta, parmesan, mature cheddar and goats cheese
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves
A little oil


  • Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and lightly oil an oven-proof dish.
  • Add a little oil to a frying pan and when hot fry off the bacon until crispy. Remove. In the same oil fry the onion and pepper for a few minutes until they soften, then add garlic and chilli. Cook for a further 2 minutes, set aside to cool.
  • Add the eggs to a bowl and whisk lightly. Add 3 tablespoons of cold water and season the eggs with salt and pepper.
  • Add the cooled bacon, potatoes and the onion and pepper mix. Stir gently to mix.
  • Add the cheeses and mix again, pour the mix into the oven-proof dish and place in the oven for 35 minutes.
  • Once removed from the oven, scatter with a few basil leaves and serve with a green salad, Serve hot or cold.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

A Shameless Plug

I'm Back!

Hi to all my loyal readers, I'm still here despite the lack of posts of late but normal service will resume soon. In the meantime here's a shameless plug for the project I've been putting together.

As many of you know I'm obsessed with spices, so for those similarly addicted check out our sister site on

More blog posts to follow soon

Sunday, 14 April 2013

When Only A Cake Will Do

Gluten Free Chai Tea Loaf

It’s a baking day but I probably should be outside enjoying the first sunny day of the year but I’ve a craving for cake that must be fulfilled. This tea loaf takes a little time but for any of you who like chai tea, the spicing of this cake is delicate and tastes better a day or two later as the flavours develop further (nothing lasts that long in my house) whilst the cake remains moist due to all the tea soaked fruit.

You can use your favourite chai tea mixes but I have infused the milk with my favourite spices by bringing it up to nearly boiling, then leaving to cool completely. Once the milk is infused, strain the milk through a sieve and discard the spices. I used a 2lb loaf tin but you can make 2 smaller loaves if you have 1lb tins and put one in the freezer to eat another time.


1 tea bag (your choice, I used English breakfast tea)
50ml milk
2 inches cinnamon
1 star anise
200g mixed dried fruit, I used sultanas, cranberries and raisins
10 crushed cardamom pods
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 nutmeg, grated
Pinch of salt
200g butter, softened
200g light brown sugar
250g gluten free self raising flour
additional pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon
3 eggs


  • Make a strong cup of black tea. Discard tea bag and put in a large bowl. Add dried fruit and allow the fruit to plump up while the tea cools.
  • Add milk to a saucepan. Add whole spices and vanilla bean paste, then bring the milk to just below boiling. Turn off the heat and allow the milk to cool completely.
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one and mix well. Add the cooled milk and 50ml of the cold tea mixture.
  • Add the soaked fruit and stir gently with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Fold in the flour until you have a smooth batter. The mix will seem a little wet but the cake is cooked for 50-60 minutes in a low oven (140 degrees).
  • Pour into a greased 2lb loaf tin and place in a preheated oven. Check after 50 minutes by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is done. Leave to cool completely.
  • Serve as it is or spread slices thickly with butter. I hope you’ll agree it’s delicious.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A Great Dinner At Last

Brabernec’s Restaurant

187 Wellingborough Road
Telephone: 01604 634428

It’s been a long time since I last went to Brabernec’s and not due to any unfortunate incident or poor food, in fact quite the opposite. I remember the food having been excellent, the service friendly and the whole evening enjoyable and despite friends and colleagues saying I should go again, I had hesitated. Perhaps and I admit, somewhat irrationally I was worried it might shatter that fond memory if I found it changed from my rose tinted and aging happy memory.

I needn’t have worried. We hadn’t booked, something I recommend you do. In fact we had no idea what we wanted to eat that night and had been wandering up and down the Wellingborough Road in the drizzle trying to gain some inspiration.

The restaurant is on one of the main drags into Northampton Town centre and looks tiny from the outside, set in a parade of shops it’s easy to miss but it would be a real shame if you did. I will say from the outset this was the nearest to a perfect evening of food and service we have had since beginning this blog.

I apologise first for the lack of photography, let’s see if I can do the food justice in words alone.
The menu is quite traditional with an equal amount of classic dishes, some seasonal game, fish and vegetarian options. The crab and mango salad was delicious and that’s from a seafood novice and there was so much of it I thought I might struggle with the main course. The dressing was rich and creamy but nicely offset by the diced fruit and crisp lettuce.
My partner had a black pudding salad, once again the serving was substantial with large chunks of black pudding fried to textural perfection, crispy on the outside while soft and yielding inside.

The mains were equally substantial. I chose blade of beef and I chose very well. It was incredible, I know it’s just dinner but it’s a dish I could eat again and again. The slow braised meat gave way at the merest touch of the fork, it’s succulence added to by a delicate sauce made with beer. We were offered a choice of sauteed potatoes or mash but the waiting staff gave us both as we struggled to choose. Each dish came with a generous serving of vegetables. My partner had Beef Wellington, again a beautifully cooked to medium rare cut of beef wrapped in pastry, despite our bulging stomachs we bravely ate our way through.

I want to comment on the service a little further. From the moment we arrived we were entertained by knowledgeable, friendly and unfussy front of house staff for whom nothing seemed like too much trouble. It’s the way it should be when eating out but many places get this so wrong. We ended up lingering over a brandy as dessert seemed like a mountain neither of us could climb.
For such great service, delicious food and drinks, the bill came to just under £70 and in our opinion worth every penny. We’ll be returning soon as there’s a few dishes I have to try before they change the menu. If you haven’t been yet, I think it’s a must go to restaurant in Northampton.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Another Touch of Sunshine

A Turkish Inspired Feast


I’ve never been so busy, hence the recent sporadic posting. There’s exciting news on the way blog-wise but I don’t want to jinx things so for now I’ll just say I’m juggling projects like crazy.

Back to the cooking. I don’t know about everyone else but I’m bored of winter, we had snow yesterday and there’s more forecast on the way accompanied by below freezing temperatures. It’s dull and I want some sunshine and warmth. If you feel the same way, try this recipe, it’ll help shift the winter gloom if only for a short while.

This sumac chargrilled chicken is delicious, granted it is not the world’s prettiest dish but it tastes damn good. I’ve added a roasted onion side dish dressed with olive oil and pomegranate molasses and a chilli spiced yoghurt dip.


 Sumac Chargrilled Chicken

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 pack of chicken thigh fillets (about 500g)
3 cloves garlic
2 sprigs of thyme, or lemon thyme if you can get it
1 lemon, cut into 8 chunky pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sumac
Salt and pepper


  • Flatten out the chicken thighs on a plate and drizzle with the olive oil, scatter with garlic, thyme leaves, sumac and salt and pepper. Massage into the chicken until nicely coated and set aside in the fridge for about 1 hour to allow the flavours to penetrate the chicken.
  • Heat a chargrill pan until searingly hot. Lay the chicken flat into the hot pan, add the chunks of lemon to grill amongst the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes on each side until cooked through.

Roasted Onion and Pomegranate Molasses


3 large red onions (or 4-6 small) cut into wedges
Sprig of thyme or lemon thyme, leaves only
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp olive oil


  • Heat oil in a large frying pan, when hot add wedges of onion and thyme. Turn heat to low and cook gently until onions have caramelised and softened.
  • Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper. Turn out onto your serving dish, drizzle with olive oil and pomegranate molasses, mix gently and serve.

 Yoghurt Chilli Dip


3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp tumeric
Salt and pepper


  • Add all ingredients to a bowl, mix well and chill until needed.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Actually Tasted Quite Like Boot

Bootleggers Bar

Set during the Flavour Prohibition

My partner came home late after meeting a friend down from Manchester and asked if I'd been to a new bar called 'Bootleggers', a speakeasy-themed place previously called the Workhouse on the Wellingborough Road. He'd popped in for a couple of beers and there had been live music and a good atmosphere, he'd not sampled the food but the thought that a lively bar offering pulled pork sliders and ribs to name a few dishes had opened up had to be worth a visit.

We went early one evening during the week, perhaps a little unfair to judge but the website promised 2 for 1 cocktails so it would have been churlish to pass this by. The pub is large and although money has obviously been lavished on the theme, it has a massive identity crisis with wide screen large plasma screens displaying rolling news visible whereever you choose to sit and indefensible modern pop music blaring in competition for your senses, surely a trick missed in terms of the theme there where a laid back vibe would be more in order.

The menu was pretty extensive, I would say there were poor offerings for vegetarians as meat was most definitely key. The prices are very reasonable, on a par with many lower end chain pubs but we ordered in hopeful anticipation the 'Bootleggers Platter' and the 'Pulled Pork Sliders'.

The sliders arrived first, three mini burgers with what I can only describe as something that may have at one point been pork drenched in a sweeter than I thought possible to make... barbeque-ish sauce. To fully comprehend this taste sensation, think meat paste from a jar doused in a sugary liquid, slightly warm. I'm sure that's enough for now.

The platter arrived. The delights that awaited us as shown in the picture made the sliders seem at least edible. I shall briefly elaborate as I shudder with the memory. Breaded chicken drumsticks, such as those 'Mum might get' from a well known freezer shop. The crumb was dry and flavourless while it was difficult to locate chicken flesh due to the amount of gristle.
The ribs were devoid of texture drenched once again in a sweet sickly sauce. If you've ever been unfortunate enough (or drunk enough) to try microwavable ribs you may just understand our disappointment. It gets worse.. read on.

The Italian meatballs were a revelation, or at least they were for me, never having suffered tinned meatballs as a child. They were once again lacking in texture and the tomato sauce did not improve matters, they were so poor my partner described the offending meatballs as tasting like someone had eaten them once already.

The onion rings and fries in balance were lovely, served hot and crisp, lacking in any seasoning but we were very hungry by this point. Dips served with the platter failed to impress, a standard barbeque and chilli sauce while the ice cream scooped glutinous mass was allegedly sour cream.

By this point the 2 for 1 cocktails were much needed, we tried to order a pitcher each but they weren't included much to my annoyance. The cocktail menu was substantial so two Aged Cubans were duly ordered. They arrived in due course, served in jam jars they tasted like vaguely alcoholic slush puppies with the merest hint of both rum and mint.

I think it unlikely we'll revisit but to balance out my cruelty, the prices are very cheap £14 for the two dishes. In fact our two cocktails outside the offer period would have cost the same as the food. It is a shame when somewhere a little different comes to a town dominated by chain pubs and restaurants we want to love it. In fact had the focus been on the quality food, we'd have gladly paid more and I feel this is a missed chance for a new venue. They could do worse than to take a look at my recipe for Pulled Pork, a shameless plug I know but it's gone down well with readers.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Review Me

Farm Fresh Recipes from the Missing Goat Farm

I was quite excited to receive my first recipe book to review so when the postie shoved it through the letterbox the glorious thud of potential culinary inspiration arriving got me as excited as a child on Christmas Eve.

Written by Heather Cameron, the preface of the book tells her story of taking on a run down farm in Vancouver, her work as a stylist and her experiences of cooking for and with her young daughter.

The natural and homely photographic style throughout is engaging while the recipes are set out by seasons with ideas for breakfasts, snacks, main meals, desserts and options for preserving seasonal fruits and vegetables. With a similar climate here in the UK many of the ingredients are readily available so recipes are achievable and accessible.

The recipes are simple and maybe a little pedestrian for the experienced cook but there are some lovely ideas to encourage children to try new foods and help in the kitchen. I loved the ‘Breakfast to Go’ recipe, a savoury cheese and bacon muffin (I used a gluten free bread roll cut into cubes). My slight niggle about this recipe was a lack of seasoning listed, it did need a grind or two of black pepper and additional salt but that was for my own personal tastes. I know parents cooking for their children may omit additional seasoning in many recipes.

Many recipes are very sweet and while full of fruit I can’t quite bring myself to agree that the recipes are healthy, perhaps better for children than over-processed shop bought treats but too sugary for everyday fare.

In conclusion a great book for novice cooks, particularly if you are lucky enough to have space to grow your own fruit and vegetables, or live close to a good farm shop or market. I have bookmarked several of the preserving recipes for the summer when I hope my dwarf fruit trees provide abundant harvests.

Retail price £18.99
Published by CICO BOOKS