Frugal Feeding’s Sardine Fritters

I was browsing through the latest blog posts on my reader panel when I came across an interesting sounding recipe from Frugal Feeding. It was for Sardine Fritters and the photos of the food looked really good! I was also won over by the fact that sardines are cheap to buy and the recipe is nice and easy for a week-day dinner. We had some tortilla wraps leftover and some yoghurt so I decided to try and make the fritters, served in a soft wrap with yoghurt and cucumber dip with griddle fried onions and peppers.

20131111-204549.jpg
You can find the full ingredient list and recipe over at the lovely Frugal Feeding site.

20131111-204657.jpg
These fritters are really tasty, with a slight chilli kick and a bit of crunch from the sesame seeds, it’s a dish that has definitely made it’s way onto our repertoire of useful, delicious dinners.

20131111-204823.jpg

The City Break Series: Venice

At the start of September my family and I departed for a long weekend trip to Venice. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go somewhere more, so my excitement levels were pretty high! One of my favourite books growing up was Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli, and her descriptions of the city were so vivid that I was desperate to visit that part of Italy.

20131110-105229.jpg
When I was at college I did a project all about Turner and his paintings of Venice, again this just increased my desire to visit the city.

20131110-112837.jpg
I’d never realised before that the islands of Venice are shaped like a fish, which you can see when you study maps of the city. I was worried that I’d built the city up so much in my head that when I arrived it somehow wouldn’t live up to my expectations. This was so not the case, it’s as beautiful and enchanting as I’d hoped and every photo you take looks fantastic – I don’t think it’s possible to take a bad photo of Venice!

20131110-110321.jpg

20131110-112613.jpg
Obviously, the food was another great reason to visit Venice: pizza, pasta, gelato…..bring it on!

20131110-113146.jpg

20131110-113249.jpg
We rented a gorgeous apartment overlooking a canal in the Dorsoduro region, near the Accademia bridge. We had a roof terrace which was great for having the whole family round for dinner – one night we got a load of takeaway pizzas, Italian red wine and all watched the sun set from the roof – bliss.

20131110-113536.jpg

20131110-113422.jpg

20131110-113445.jpg
My grandad is a huge ice cream fan, and he always loves buying them for everyone if we’re on a trip anywhere. He has an amazing knack of hunting out ice cream vans as well, we were once walking along the Thames and he said how much he fancied a 99 flake, we rounded the next corner and there sat a bright, colourful ice cream van! Obviously in Venice, we wouldn’t need to hunt around for long to find some delicious gelato. On every corner you can find row upon row of gorgeous, smooth, creamy gelato flavours and it was so hard to choose, good job we were there for a few days and could try more than one flavour!

20131110-113057.jpg
Our holiday to this city of romance didn’t fail on the love front – on our last night while having dinner on the pontoon, my Aunty and her partner announced they had gotten engaged! It was the best news and the loveliest way to end our holiday to Venice! There were quite a few happy tears shed while we enjoyed caprese salad, lobster, tagliatelle, tiramisu and champagne!

20131110-114026.jpg

20131110-114630.jpg

The City Break Series: Barcelona

This year I have been lucky enough to travel to lots of European cities, and to eat lots of delicious European food. It figures, that as I write a food and baking blog, that it should write some kind of review post for my travels. To this end, I have decided to write a City Break Series about my travels and the food i discovered. These will be interspersed with my normal posts.

We start, with Barcelona…

In August I went to Barcelona with one of my dearest pals, Hannah. We’ve both been so busy over the last year or so, me at work, Hannah studying to become a Trainee Solicitor, that we decided we deserved a little holiday away! We’ve never gone away together before and usually only get a few hours every few months to catch up so we were well-overdue some decent time together! As we’re both summer babies we chose the first week of August to celebrate our birthdays and picked Barcelona as our destination. I’ve always wanted to see Gaudi’s architecture and Hannah was keen to visit a new city and get exploring! Also, it would be guaranteed hot and sunny weather!
We spent 5 glorious days in Barcelona visiting Casa Battlo, Park Guell, La Ramblas and La Boqueria food market. We also managed to fit in some sunbathing by the hotel’s roof pool for some proper relaxing!

20131023-222242.jpg

We were really looking forward to trying proper Spanish tapas and after a few ok dinners we found an amazing restaurant called Teleferic. When we arrived it was pretty empty, I think because we ate a lot earlier than the Spanish seemed to. The staff were really welcoming and friendly, and explained that at half seven they would start bringing out all of the different tapas dishes to the bar area where we could then pick and choose. While we waited we shared some potatas bravas which is one of my favourite dishes. Crispy potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce and aioli, delicious!

20131023-222712.jpg
We helped ourselves to delicate pastry parcels filled with spinach; lightly battered squid; crispy, salty green peppers; Spanish tortilla; olives; chorizo…there were so many dishes on offer, there was no way we could try them all! I would definitely hurry back to try more when I’m next in Barcelona.

20131023-222815.jpg
At the end of the meal we were given a complementary glass of bubbly by the waiter which was a nice touch. Each dish had a cocktail stick in it, some were different colours, some were different shapes. These represented the price of the dish and we were charged according to the number of sticks we had at the end. This was by far my favourite meal in Barcelona and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the city.

20131023-223533.jpg
We didn’t have paella, but really enjoyed trying different tapas dishes and just picking and sharing a few different dishes at each meal. We also visited La Boqueria food market, just off La Ramblas. This was great, and reminded me of Borough Market, back in London. There were meat and fish stalls, fresh fruit and veg and cheeses and hams.

20131023-223056.jpg

20131023-223131.jpg
The weather was gorgeous, and with the good food and beautiful architecture, it was a great little girly holiday! I will definitely go back to Barcelona, it’s a city for the senses with so many sights to see and delicious food to taste, including really delicious ice cream, that I think there must be lots more to explore.

20131023-223347.jpg

20131023-223448.jpg

PTI take on Jamie Oliver

Last week, instead of the usual summer party bar night, we at PTI decided to change things up a bit and go for a group cooking lesson at Jamie Oliver’s Recipease.

After a quick drink in the pub to settle any cooking nerves, we headed off to learn how to make Thai Green Chicken Curry. It was set to be a fun and interesting evening, not least because Marie really doesn’t like spicy hot food – would she try the end result? That was the challenge!

20130901-165116.jpg
For keen cooks and Jamie fans, Recipease in Notting Hill is great! Split across two levels with a kitchen/demonstration area in the centre of both, there’s a shop downstairs full of sauces, spices, pots, pans and gadgets, and a cafe upstairs where you can look out at passers by or watch novice cooks learning anything from Mexican and Vietnamese street food to knife and bread skills. I’ve been wanting to go to a lesson there for ages so I was really excited and going with the team from work made it really fun and definitely added an element of competition between us!

20130901-163031.jpg
Our teacher was friendly and knowledgeable and didn’t seem to mind when, like I’m sure everyone else does, we asked her whether she’d met Jamie and what he was like! The recipe was simple but the finished curry was probably the best Thai curry I’ve ever eaten. It was so fresh and fragrant and tasted even better for knowing we’d made it from scratch and it hadn’t taken forever. I think sometimes we can be put off cooking by complicated sounding recipes and long lists of ingredients but this recipe was easy to follow and the ingredients are all available from the local supermarket so there’s no excuse really! Alongside the curry we learned to make a little chilli tomato salad that went really well with the dish and the chopped pistachios in it add a really nice crunch!

20130901-163412.jpg
Cooking in a group was really fun and then sitting down on long benches after to eat our meal together was really nice. It was a great choice of social activity and I know some of us are already looking at booking onto another lesson!

20130901-163636.jpg
. . . Oh, and Marie did try her curry!

20130901-164323.jpg

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside . . .

. . . or as near to the seaside as one can be in central London!

Tom and I have a habit of sending each other restaurant, pub and cafe reviews and recommendations nearly every day but we struggle to make the time to go to them; they usually just get added to the ever-increasing wish list. Last week Tom sent me a link to the Bonnie Gull, a seafood shack/restaurant/oyster bar not far from work. We decided we’d go with the excuse that it had just been my birthday so we would treat ourselves!

bonnie_logo

The idea behind the Bonnie Gull is that everything they serve has been caught that day; there’s a map on the wall where they pinpoint the source of your fish. Originally a pop-up, the guys behind the Bonnie decided to set up shop permanently, bringing a little bit of the seaside to central London.

With its striped blue and white awnings and white wooden chairs and tables you can easily imagine the Bonnie Gull sitting comfortably looking out over Croyde Bay or Saunton Sands (reference to holidays past, spent down on the Devon coastline with my family).

We started with oysters. I always have to psych myself up when it comes to eating an oyster; I know it will be delicious when it comes to it but I still have to get over the fear of eating it! These didn’t disappoint, they were so fresh and tasty and well worth my initial mild panic!

1235135_10151802999832863_2080712905_n

Tom then had queenies which were something new – they’re like small scallops and were served raw – they melted in the mouth and were full of flavour! I started with one of my all time favourites, mussels with a light cider, bacon and cream broth and some amazing bread – perfect for mopping up the cider!

20130829-072548.jpg

For my main I plumped for the much-loved classic, fish and chips. These weren’t just any chips however, they were beef dripping chips and they were deliciously crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The haddock was nicely battered and the mushy peas and spicy Shack Ketchup were equally tasty. Tom decided to try John Dory and it looked and tasted so good, it was quite a meaty fish and the sauce it was served with was really nice.

photo3

I could probably have managed one of the delicious sounding desserts but not to appear too piggy we decided to just share the cheeseboard instead! Needless to say this was also really tasty and rounded off a great dinner!

I am going again in a few weeks and am excited to see what fish and shellfish will be on the menu that day – I can’t wait!

photo4

Supporting our local food producers

This weekend has become a total food-fest for me and Tom: we discovered Forest Hill were holding a mini food market in the station car park so we popped down the road for a little look-see and it was well worth the visit. We enjoyed an anchovy, caper and olive wood-fired pizza made in the back of an adorable little pizza-oven-van and I treated myself to a carrot-cake cupcake. We tried some wine produced in Forest Hill and some homemade damson jam which was delicious!

20130303-165209.jpg

20130303-165227.jpg

20130303-165241.jpg

We also decided to go and take a look at The Horniman Museum which is amazing, it’s a local museum with acres of gardens and fruit and veg patches tucked away in Forest Hill. We wandered around the gardens looking at all the food they’re growing and enjoying the amazing views across the whole of London. I’m so excited we’ve found a local garden, it will be such a nice spot for walks in the summer!

20130303-165600.jpg

20130303-165616.jpg

20130303-165636.jpg