Thursday, 20 November 2014

Holiday Food in Paphos, Cyprus

Now that the nights have drawn in, the weather has turned chilly and the only skin I am displaying is my face, my thoughts return to sunnier, carefree times. We spent our August holiday in Paphos, Cyprus. Three long months ago now. Sigh... The heat there meant we could do fewer activities and more laying around the pool. Just my kind of holiday. And not the kind I've done for a while, what with all the kids...

Of course, the highlight of any holiday, for me, is the food. From the fresh seafood...

Seafood















... to the basil growing outdoors...

Basil

...olives, growing by the pool...

Olives


... and of course, tzatziki with every meal!

Tzatziki

We stayed at the lovely Anemi Aparthotel on Posidonos Avenue, very close to Bar Street (which you may wish to avoid) and only a ten minute stroll to Paphos Harbour.

Our first port of call late on the evening of arrival was a Cafe Lounge Bar called Pingouino. Here my first Cypriot meal was Pork Souvlaki. Served with a Greek salad and, yes, a local Keo beer. Ah, we had arrived!

Pork Souvlaki

Due to the heat at that time of year (not complaining, just sayin'), we didn't venture far during the day, so we had many lunches by the pool at the Anemi, in the Turquoise Cafe.
Cyprus Dips was warm pitta served with the four traditional dips - hummous, tzatziki, taramalasalata, and tahini. I ate this most days! I also had halloumi and lountza (smoked pork loin) in pitta which was very filling, and the squeaky cheese entertained the kids!

Halloumi and Lountza

Cyprus Dips


By night we drank many a Strawberry Daquiri, you know, just so the kids could collect umbrellas and other cocktail paraphernalia.




















A non-Greek meal in the gorgeous Gold Sakura Japanese Restaurant, just around the corner from where we stayed. It featured a table at the teppanyaki grill, our very own chef (from the Phillipines!) with his salt and pepper pot routine, followed by a knife skills dance, and he cooked our egg fried rice, sea bream, chicken, and duck tenderloin right there in front of us. Using lots of 'Japanese Coca-Cola', apparently. Which turned out to be Kikkoman Soy Sauce. A great experience, lots of fun. The kids loved the starters too, duck tempura (her new favourite food - she always asks for it now, everywhere we go...) and BBQ spare ribs. Mmm hmm.


BBQ Spare Ribs
Duck Tempura

Seasoning the teppan grill
Love egg fried rice

Prepping the egg fried rice




One (late) morning we sampled the crepes at Vienna cafe 'Crêpe Land', on Posideon Avenue.

Africana Waffle with chocolate ice cream

Oreo crepe: Kashima Bueno

Strawberry and chocolate crepe: Porto Katsiki


Other evening meals included souzoukakia (spicy meatballs) at the Almyra, where we dined on a deck right on the sea. Although it was expensive it could have been oh so romantic...


Souzoukakia at the Almyra

A very nice Italian restaurant, Porto Bello, served pollo bruschetta with sundried tomatoes, chicken and cheese and the Pizza Special - chilli, honey, chicken and raspberry, a strange combo which worked really well. We also received vegetable tempura on the house. Fantastic service too, made all the more special with the Limoncello chaser.

Pollo Bruschetta

Pizza Special

Vegetable Tempura

The Grill Garage was a family run restaurant serving sizzling and traditional Greek dishes, all very well presented and beautifully cooked. We intended to return here. If not for the food, then to read some more of the food-related quotes!

"When engaged in eating, the brain should be the servant of the stomach." Agatha Christie




Pitta with tzatzaki
Chicken Souvlaki

BBQ Ribs with onion rings

Chocolate Brownie with Ice Cream - just for the kids!

The Imperial Chinese Restaurant overlooked a few bars and restaurants, as we sat out on the terrace, but the inside was modern and beautifully decorated with tanks of tropical fish. Eating Chinese food in Cyprus or any Mediterranean country can be dubious, but this place was great. Another one we would have returned to.

Chicken Satay

Duck in Orange Sauce

Spicy Chicken Szechuan

On our last evening, we decided to go traditional at the Mandra Tavern. Rather disappointing to be honest, as it felt like they were just catering for tourists (which I expect they were). If I were to go back I would have what the couple on the next table were having, it must have been about 20 courses!
4 orektika

Kleftiko

Lamb Souvla

Our pre-flight meal was Moussaka at Tampania (TaMttavia), over looking the sea and enjoying one last Keo beer and the sunset.

Moussaka


All photos my own (Smartphone). All TripAdvisor Reviews in the links written by me.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Rabieng Thai, Islington - Restaurant Review

In search of something spicy on a Tuesday evening in Islington, we stumbled upon this little Thai restaurant, a few minutes walk from Highbury tube. The offer of a curry for £5 (Monday-Wednesday) lured us in, and although I'm not going to rave that it was the best Thai ever, it was quite adequate. 

A cosy little room, with tables for two or four, it was quite easy to chat and not do too much people-watching - although the Canadian couple at the next table (approximately four inches away) proved interesting and we got to show off our local London knowledge. The staff were attentive enough - it wasn't particularly busy, and we weren't rushed - so we were able to relax, despite having to pour our own wine. And one waiter must have singed his arm on the candle when serving our main course, but he didn't complain!

For starters we shared Hoi Nueng, steamed scallops in a light soy sauce topped with fried garlic; and Tempura Pak, deep fried vegetables in batter served with a sweet chilli sauce.
The scallops were tender, doused in just the right amount of soy sauce, and I do love that crispy fried garlic taste. The tempura was fine, though I've had lighter batters, and the portion size was adequate.


Hoi Nueng

Tempura Pak
For main course we had Kang Kiew Wan, Thai green curry with chicken, my absolute favourite Thai dish, with sticky rice; and Prawn Panang, with egg fried rice. 
Only four curries come under the £5 offer, luckily both of ours were included. The rice, of course, is extra. Both dishes we perfectly fine, well cooked with all the expected flavours. I found the green curry sauce slightly thicker than I would usually like it, but the Panang was rich and had a great depth of flavour which worked really well with the prawns. 

Kang Kiew Wan

Panang
I would probably return if I just wanted a quick, good value Thai meal near Highbury, although the choice of cuisine on Upper Street is so varied, almost limitless, it would be a shame not to try somewhere different. There were a few lone diners, I noticed, which shows it is pretty good value for money, and has that casual, relaxed feel. Less of the fine dining I fear, but none the worse for that.

143 Upper St
N1 1QY
Meal for two with wine: £45-50



Rabieng Thai on Urbanspoon

Monday, 17 November 2014

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes (again) - Cake Club Recipe

 I don't usually repeat myself on this blog, but I went to a cake club this week where the theme was Cakes or Cupcakes With a Fruit Element. So immediately I thought I'd make those lovely lemon meringue cupcakes again, this time in normal size.
 
We munched our way through banana, cinnamon and honeycomb cupcakes, lemon drizzle loaf, banana cake with banana cream frosting, raspberry and lemon muffins, banana and nutella cupcakes, pear and chocolate cake, soooo much cake...
 
All delicious. And a lovely bunch of girlies. Can't wait for next month!
 
I've collated the recipe from a few different places, so I've made it easier to follow below, even converting the measurements from American to Delia-style. (You're welcome.)
 
cupcake recipe
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

 
Ingredients:
 
For the cupcakes:
 
225 g butter
225 g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
225 g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
120 ml buttermilk
Juice 1 lemon
Zest of 2 lemons
 
For the lemon Ganache:
 
120 g white chocolate, chopped
120 ml double cream
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
 
For the meringue:
 
150 g golden caster sugar
4 egg whites
 
 
Method:
 
For the cupcakes:
 
Heat the oven to 180C (or 160C).
 
Line a muffin tin with cupcake cakes (fruity ones of course!).
 
Beat the butter on a high speed for about a minute until creamy. Add in the sugar and lemon zest and beat for five minutes until fluffy. Then add in the eggs one at a time.
 
Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder, and mix on a lower speed. Then add in the buttermilk and lemon juice until the batter is smooth.
 
Fill your cases about three-quarters full (about 2 large spoonfuls).
 
Bake for about 18-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool.
 
 
For the Ganache:
 
Put the chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl.
 
Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan, and once it's boiling, pour it over the chocolate.
 
Add the lemon juice and zest, and stir from the inside out slowly, until all the chocolate has melted.
 
Once it has cooled, place a wide-tipped nozzle in an icing bag and spoon the Ganache inside. Dip the nozzle into the centre of the cupcake and squeeze a tsp or so of Ganache inside the cake. It doesn't matter if it spills out a little.
 
For the meringue:
 
Whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, and whisk on a high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form.
 
Spoon the meringue into an icing bag fitted with a large flower nozzle, and pipe on top of the Ganache-filled cupcakes.
 
 
Sprinkle with lemon zest or lemony sprinkles...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Monsoon Indian, N21 - Restaurant Review

Twice in a week I visited Monsoon. Before that it had been a few years. Shame on me. It's a great local Indian restaurant (if you live in North London, that is). Friday nights are relatively busy, but without booking a table we were seated straight away. Thursday nights, much quieter, but perfect for a cosy chat in your preferred booth.

The décor is contemporary, with the traditional touch of white linen tablecloths, and bow-tied waiters. Waiters who, on the whole, were friendly and attentive, and we weren't kept waiting at all, even on the busy evening. In fact, we were so busy chatting, we kept them waiting...

The menu is extensive, and includes practically everything you would expect from a typical Indian restaurant. And surprisingly good value. For four of us, we paid just over £90, including two bottles of wine. And they deliver... which is why we went there, as a little flyer came through the letterbox that morning, not just on it's own, but in a sealed envelope, with a stamp and everything. Good PR, guys!

For starters, it's always good to share, and we tried chana chat, a chickpea and chilli dish; the Monsoon tandoori mix, which does as it says on the tin; and of course, the onion bhajis, always my barometer for checking how good an Indian meal is. Very good! The mint sauce and the lime pickle were just to my taste.

Tandoori Mix and Chana Chat
For mains, we sampled all of the following: chicken tikka balti, saag chicken, vegetable biryani, prawn saag, chicken bhuna, chicken korma, chicken cylon (that's cylon, not ceylon - that's what it says), a tarka dal and the essential peshwari naan and pilau rice. I couldn't fault any dish and although we shared, the portion sizes were just right.



Chicken Ceylon, Prawn Saag, and Vegetable Biryani


Tikka Balti, Saag, Bhuna, and Korma - all chicken!
I'll certainly be returning to Monsoon. Not only is it, in my opinion, great value, but it's right on the doorstep of the N21 pubs, and well worth the five or so minute walk down from the Green. The only negative thing I would say is that the bathrooms were FREEZING!


Monsoon Indian
10 Station Road
N21 3RB
020 8360 6909 or order online for takeaway

Meal for two including drinks ~£35-40


Square Meal Monsoon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Home-cooked Chinese Takeaway

So not really a take-away at all. I had some visiting friends for dinner, one of whom is a budding chef. I showed her how to make wontons, the way I learned at The School of Wok, and it turns out, she is waaay better than me at fashioning them into golden nugget shapes! Check out Jeremy Pang's video for the recipe. (Disclaimer: the ones that look like wet blankets were, in fact, still delicious.)
All the ingredients were from See Woo Supermarket on Lisle St, in London's Chinatown.


Not being in possession of a deep fryer, we baked these babies for about 12 minutes at 180 C, spritzing them with oil.

school of wok
Wontons

For mains I made Sichuan Chicken, as I've done before, only this time I coated the chicken in ground Sichuan peppercorns and cornflour. Some crunchy bits, but the flavour was all there. Rich and sumptuous, the sauce is lightly spiced and slightly sweet, with a delicate savoury tang.
Served with a simple Egg Fried Rice (literally, boiled rice, fried with some soy sauce and frozen peas, with a beaten egg turned in).

chinese food
Sichuan Chicken with Egg Fried Rice


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Afternoon Tea Delight - The Great Denby Cake Off

Denby Pottery are running a competition to find their favourite Afternoon Tea recipe. 

Stem&Ginger and I have collaborated to create a delicious seasonal chocolate gingerbread cake. It is rich, moist, and delicately flavoured with ginger and cinnamon. The cocoa and chocolate chunks give it that extra opulent bite! Comfort cake at its best.

Perfect for a cold damp autumn day with a cuppa and a friend.

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake with Cinnamon and Honey Frosting


Stem and Ginger
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

Serves 8-10
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Decoration: 20 mins


Ingredients:

120 g unsalted butter
150 g dark muscovado sugar
2 eggs
240 ml buttermilk
100 g molasses
270 g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60 g cocoa
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
Large pinch of nutmeg
½ tsp salt
4 tbsp crystalized ginger, chopped
180 g chocolate, roughly chopped, plus extra for decoration

For the Frosting:

200g mascarpone cheese
50 g unsalted butter
120 g icing sugar
1 tbsp runny organic honey
¼ tsp cinnamon

Method: 

Heat the oven to 180 C, and lightly grease 2 round 8-inch tins.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and dark muscovado sugar together until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, followed by the buttermilk and molasses. The mixture may look a little curdled.

Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt, and mix until you have a smooth batter. 

Fold in the crystalized ginger and chocolate, taking care not to over-mix.

Divide the mixture evenly into two tins. Bake for 35-40 mins, until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.


Once cooled, slice off the dome-shaped tops for an even cake, or if you prefer, leave it whole. (You could use the excess to make chocolate gingerbread cake pops!)

Making the frosting by creaming the cheese and butter together for about five minutes until soft and fluffy. Add in the honey and cinnamon and then sift in the icing sugar. Check the taste until you are happy with the sweetness and consistency, adding more icing sugar if needed. Beat until smooth.

Spread some of the frosting over the bottom cake, the stack the second layer on top.
Coat the entire cake with the frosting, as thick as you wish, and sprinkle some chocolate on top.

Enjoy!
Chocolate Gingerbread Cake
Afternoon Tea

Food Styling by Annie Hall (that's me!)
Photography by Karen Wall at Stem&Ginger

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Imli Street, Contemporary Indian Restaurant - Restaurant Review

 The best part of Indian food, for me, is the starters. I could eat them all evening. And sometimes do! Curry, I love, of course, but would be perfectly happy to just eat my way through the starter menu in any Indian restaurant. Which is why I was drawn to Imli Street, a few minutes walk up Wardour Street in Soho. Previously known for it's tapas-style Indian dishes, it has now become a contemporary, cool and classy restaurant, serving 'railway cuisine', a take on Indian street food, served to passengers travelling by train across India.

The décor was modern and sleek, the bar at the front offering cocktails and drinks should you wish to wait there for your friends, and the atmosphere was humming with tourists and Londoners alike. The staff were friendly and most accommodating, particularly when we couldn't decide which of the many dishes  on the tempting menu to choose from.

We (eventually) chose two appetisers: Malachi Amritsari, which is Tilapia (a sort of white fish) fillets in a seasoned gram flour batter with ajwain - an anti-flatulence spice! It worked, I'm sure. The fillets were tender and the batter crispy and just the right amount of spicy. The minty sauce accompaniment was delicious. Shikampuri Kebab, a ground chicken tawa-kabab with spices & fresh herbs. At first we thought this was the fish dish, it was a little dry and crumbly, hard to distinguish the flavours, but mixed with the sauce, it worked well. 


Shikampuri Kebab and Malachi Amritsari 


 Next we shared one tandoor dish, Tandoori Jhinga, a marinated prawn dish, served with more of that lovely mint sauce; a main, Lamb RoganJosh, just to be able to compare to our 'usual', and it did so most favourably; a Tadka dal, a spiced yellow lentil dish; a Pulao rice; and a Peshawari Naan. Portions in typical Indian restaurants tend to be huge - I can never understand how one person can eat so much rice, but everything was perfect. We pretty much licked the plates clean and were left satisfied and not over-stuffed. The only downside was not having anything to take home for Himself! 


Tandoori Jhinga, Lamb RoganJosh, and Tadka Dal

Dessert was Chocolate Pataki, a nutty chocolate brownie, served on a sizzling hot skillet, doused in chocolate sauce by our waiter. Novel, and yes, delicious (and more-ish!). All washed down with the very delectable Trebbiano white wine.

I look forward to returning to Imli Street soon (every two weeks, we promised each other!) and trying more from the menu. And perhaps a cocktail or two...


167-169 Wardour Street
W1F 8WR
020 3589 1689
Meal for two including wine: ~£85


Imli Street on Urbanspoon Square Meal