Patty and Bun

As you have probably guessed, we love burgers. We were told by some foodie friends of ours that Patty & Bun, in London (near Bond street) is THE place to go for burgers. So off we went…

There is always a queue outside Patty & Bun, a table for two on a Wednesday evening was a 45 minute wait, were salivating, deciding what to get and eagerly awaiting our burgers.

The inside is very small, the place probably only seats around 35 people, it has a very ‘cool’ vibe. It was extremely busy, we got a little bench table which was fantastic.

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On the recommendation we went for the ‘Ari Gold’ burger, a delicious looking cheese burger with a brioche bun and Patty & Bun mayo. We also ordered rosemary fries which were fantastic, I love chips and these were no exception – I would happily have eaten buckets of them. The burger was somewhat disappointing. Don’t get us wrong, it was great, a fantastic burger. We were expecting the best burger we had ever had and it wasn’t that. We were lucky enough to have a ‘Street Kitchen’ burger at a food festival last week and that was AMAZING.

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Friends of ours that have frequented Patty & Bun think that perhaps we just had a bad evening, all restaurants have them. The burger was good and we would probably give it 7/10. Definitely go and try Patty & Bun, if you do, be sure to order the chicken wings, they are sensational.

Banoffee Pie

It really annoys me when people say things like, ‘I really can’t cook’. Anyone can cook, they just have to try. There are plenty of tasty meals and treats that require minimum effort for maximum taste, Banoffee pie is one of these.

To start with, you need a biscuit base. You can use digestives, but I prefer the humble ginger nut biscuit as it adds a little more bite. Put a packet of the biscuits into a food bag and beat them to death, they will soon resemble bread crumbs. Melt around 100g butter, mix this in with the breadcrumb biscuits and press into the bottom of your dish. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Now, you need the caramel filling. If you are in a hurry, use Carnation Caramel, all ready for you to go. Alternatively, boil a can of condensed milk in water for around an hour, it will become delicious caramel! Spread the caramel onto your biscuit base, then add sliced bananas. Ripe bananas are best.

Now, whip your double cream. I like to add a teaspoon of vanilla essence and around 25g icing sugar. Spread the cream onto your caramel/banana base. I like to add some cadbury flake on top of the cream for extra flavour and decoration.

You can make one big banoffee pie, or individual smaller ones. It is a simple, but tasty desert, that is sure to satisfy everyone that eats it.

Honey and Walnut Loaf

I love loaf cakes because you can just mix them up and throw them in the loaf tin. They are fairly straight forward to make and this one requires no icing, so it is minimum effort for maximum taste!

Ingredients

  • 190g butter
  • 190g plain flour
  • 190g caster sugar or golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 30g greek yoghurt (plain yoghurt is also fine)
  • 3tbsp runny honey
  • 70g chopped walnuts

Method

  1. Grease your loaf tin and line it with baking powder
  2. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beat
  5. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well
  6. Add the yoghurt and mix together
  7. Add the honey and walnuts and mix it all together
  8. Pour the cake mix into your loaf tin and bake for about one hour
  9. Enjoy with a cup of tea!

How quick and easy was that?

The Garden House

The Garden House is a delicious and reasonably priced restaurant café in the historical city of Rochester near to where we live in Kent. I had lunched here before with a friend and we were both very impressed, so when in Rochester again and looking for a lunch time treat, I knew where to go.

The inside is very cosy, with around 6 tables in total. It can be hard to get in but we were very lucky. The shelves in the restaurant are filled with delicious Italian produce for sale, sources and pastas we had seen in small delis in Rome.

The menu is quite vast for a cafe and features open sandwiches, paninis, soups and salads, there is something for everyone. The Garden House also has a fantastic and reasonably priced set menu, 2 courses for £8.95, this is what we decided to go for.

I started with a delicious vine ripened tomato and basil soup, it was simply fantastic and much better than my own tomato soup.

Toby went for homemade hummus and olives, the home made hummus was fantastic.

On to the mains, I went for cold poached salmon with salad and potatoes and a delicious honey mustard dressing. The salad was spectacular. Sometimes I feel that Salads leave me disappointed and wanting more, but this was SO satisfying. The salmon portion was very generous too.

Toby went for a buffalo mozzarella salad with a pesto dressing. Again, the portion sizes were great and the mozzarella was so fresh and unlike any we have tasted in this country before.

We washed this down with a glass of pinot grigio, perfect. I would highly recommend The Garden Cafe and a visit to Rochester, the city (it has a Cathedral!) has a great deal of history to offer.

Ebly

So it is one of those unfortunate evenings when you do not have the time or energy to put together a culinary masterpiece, what do you do?

A recommendation is to give Ebly a go. This tasty stuff can easily fill out a meal of quick and easy food such as some roasted vegetables and meats.

We had it with some home made curry and simple veg. It is a brilliant alternative to rice and couscous and is perhaps even better when cold!

Ebly is fairly hard to come by and only a few Waitrose stores stock it, but if you ever see it around, get yourself a box and perhaps this will become a staple of your kitchen cupboards too!

Tomato Soup

So if like us you are feeling a bit distressed that the weather has taken a turn for the worse, then perhaps some tomato soup could warm you up. Tomato soup holds memories for me of being of school sick as a teenager, now I love how quick, easy and nutritious a bowl of homemade tomato soup is…

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 jar of passata or 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • 350ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Chop and fry your onion in olive oil until soft and slightly brown, add chopped garlic
  2. Add your chopped carrot and celery and fry all together until soft, add water if it gets too dry
  3. Once this is softened, add your passata or chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper
  4. Add vegetable stock and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, add some fresh basil
  5.  Whizz the soup and it is ready to eat, if it seems a little too thick, add some more water
  6. Season with salt and pepper, sometimes I even ass a little pesto. Ideally serve with homemade bread!

Cardamon Loaf

This recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery ‘Cake Days’ cook book, a baking bible.

Ingredients

  • 190g unsalted butter
  • 190g plain flour
  • 15 cardamon pods split and crushed
  • 190g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 30ml soured cream
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees
  2. Mix together the butter and sugar
  3. Add the eggs and mix
  4.  Add the flour and mix
  5. Add the crushed cardamon pods
  6. Add the vanilla essence
  7. Add the soured cream and mix
  8. Add the baking powder and mix
  9. Put in a greased loaf tin and bake for 60 minutes

This will smell amazing as it cooks. The flavour reminds me of Indian sweets, it is a very interesting flavour and the loaf has become a favourite in our house!

Pecan Pie

I really enjoy cooking and love seeing people enjoy the food I have cooked, I love throwing dinner parties because it means I have a reason to spend my whole day in the kitchen cooking food!

Being a pecan lover I decided to try my hand at a Pecan Pie. IT WAS SO GOOD. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet but the pie was delicious and I enjoyed the compliments from our dinner guests.

You will need to do the following to make shortcrust pastry:

  1. Mix 110g butter with 225g plain flour until crumb like
  2. Add 1 egg and 80g sugar and mix until a pastry like dough is formed, chill in the fridge for around 30 minutes
  3. Roll the pastry onto a greased pie dish, cover with greaseproof paper and baking beads, bake at 180 degrees for 15 minutes
  4. Remove from the oven, remove the baking beads and bake for another 5 minutes
  5. Remove from the oven and leave the pastry base to cool whilst you make the filling
For the Filling:
  1. Melt 110g butter with 120g golden syrup and 225g soft light brown sugar (this smells amazing as it melts)
  2. Break 100g dark chocolate into chunks and put at the bottom of your pie base
  3. Roughly break 230g pecans and add put in your pie base
  4. Beat 3 eggs and then add this to the golden syrup/butter/sugar melted mix and beat
  5. Pour this over the base with the pecans and chocolate in
  6. Bake at 170 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 140 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes, the pie will looked cooked but should have a slight wobble in the middle
  7. Allow to cool and eat and enjoy!

Pre-oven

Stained Glass Pasta

Pasta can be so dull and is often used as a bland meal filler. It can however be the main attraction as we found out a couple of weeks ago with an intense masterclass from a real Italian about how to make Stained Glass Pasta. The idea is simple, make your pasta using a traditional recipe and then create pasta sheets with it using a pasta maker. Make it as thin as you dare and then lay it out on a flour dusted surface. Place on half of the long thin sheets, various herbs (the greener the better, basil and coriander are great) and fold over. Run the sheets through the pasta maker again to seal in the beauty.

What you are left with is a clear understanding as to how this type of pasta gets its name.

Let the pasta dry for about half an hour and use as you would use any other fresh pasta sheets. In simpler dishes the flavours of the various herbs will come through, but in a more complex dish like a lasagna, the flavours will amply augment the existing flavours.

Curry Time

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I adore spicy food. Being Asian I often felt out of place at school when other children would have chicken dippers and chips for dinner and I would have aloo gobi and chapatis. I now appreciate curries very much and often find myself craving a good spicy curry.

Whilst curry houses can produce very meals, Mother Somal has taught me how to make authentic curry from scratch. Healthy and super tasty, you really cannot beat it (even if I do say so myself).

The basic recipe for any curry:

  1. Fry onion, garlic, ginger and finger chillis in oil or butter until brown
  2. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes
  3. Add tumeric powder and garam masala, this begins to thicken and is now your curry base
  4. Add your meat or veg of choice (chicken, cauliflower and potato, chickpeas, aubergine, marrow – curry anything!)
  5. Cook through, add hot water if the mixture gets too dry and season with salt and additional spices to your taste
  6. Eat and enjoy