Saturday, 30 November 2013

Cheese Board.

I love cheese, I used to only like cheddar but I've really branched out and like most cheeses now. So the other evening for dinner we had a cheese board as we had bought a few cheeses from a farmers festival. 

We had a selection of crackers and warm bread to have our cheese on and some onion chutney to go with the cheese. I also really like to have apple and grapes with my cheese.

My favourites were the Truckle Mature Cheddar, so creamy and rich; and the Wensleydale Blue, such a good strong flavour. I really didn't think much to the Reblochon, quite bland in my opinion but maybe a good option if you like mild cheese.  

I really love these kind of meals where you can pick little bits and I've had cheese and crackers most evenings when I've come in from work! 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Beef and Guinness Casserole.

This Sunday I made beef and Guinness casserole. I got the idea from Rosie as she had mentioned on her blog how good it was. I made a few changes but it is basically this Jamie Oliver recipe. I warn you now at no point does this dish look nice, in fact at one point it looked so awful I thought I wouldn't be able to eat it. Now I've really sold you on it haven't I?! But for what it lacks in looks it makes up for in how easy it is to cook and taste.

To make this simple casserole you will need:
700g diced beef
500ml Guinness
6 mushrooms
2 onions
2 carrots
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of plain flour
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
pinch of salt and pepper

First up fry the onion, mushroom and carrots just to take the rawness out of them. Then place in the casserole dish.

In the same pan add the beef and flour and cook just until the flour has disappeared, you don't have to brown the meat.

Add some of the Guinness to help the flour along.

This is where it starts looking interesting to say the least. Add the beef and the Guinness and to the pot and add the tin of tomatoes and season. Put in the oven at 180 for three hours and somehow it all turns out alright.

I told you it would be alright. I like a thick gravy so cooked it for a further two hours.

To reduce it to this state. We had this with jacket potato, tender stem and butternut squash.

This is such an easy dish to make as the prep is maybe 10 minutes, so as long as you have the time to cook it, it's a really great dish.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Dubai Weekend.

A while ago now I went to Dubai for the weekend. I didn't get round to sorting the photos out though until this weekend.

I took an overnight flight on the Thursday evening and by 10am on Friday morning I was lying on the beach! My parents were already out in Dubai so I met them at their hotel for a short visit.

On the Friday we sunbathed and then had a speed boat tour of The Palm in the afternoon. It is so hot that to be out on the water with a breeze was so nice as lying in the sun can get uncomfortably hot.

As it is so hot the hotel really know how to look after you and help keep you cool. The staff come round with ice cold flannels, water sprays and little cups of flavoured ice.

On the Saturday we got up early had breakfast and went to the Dubai Mall. This mall alone makes me want to live in Dubai. Shops and restaurant chains I thought you could only get in certain countries seem to have made an exception and have a spot in this mall. If that wasn't enough it is also home to an ice rink, aquarium and the tallest building in the world.

We went up the tallest in the world, from the ground it looks very tall but when we got up there it didn't seem so high. I’m not sure if this is because everything in Dubai is already so tall and large that your perspective is skewed, the air is also quite hazy so you can’t see that far. I’m pleased we went up but I think I was expecting more.

You are still a long way from the top though!!

We then had a look around the shops and then had a hot chocolate at Laduree. I would only recommend buying things in Dubai if you cannot get the shop at home as everything I saw was more expensive than it would be at home.

After this we went back to the hotel and spent the afternoon sunbathing. 

In the evening after dinner at our hotel we went to Bar 44 at the Grosvenor Hotel we had a cocktail there, it was nice but quite dark a bit too manly for my taste. We then went to the other tower to the Siddharta Lounge by Buddha-Bar which was much more my thing, an outdoor bar by the pool it just felt more relaxed.

On Sunday we had a relaxed morning sunbathing on the beach and then in the late afternoon we went to The Burji Al Arab. I was so excited to see inside as it is meant to be one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. It is luxurious in the materials they have used, if you see something gold it is really gold from everything to the bins to the lift. But taste wise it is really not for me the phrase ‘money can't buy you taste’ comes to mind. We went up to the bar on the 27th  floor. The food was amazing. 

To start with we had this fruit tart. So nice!

Next was this slice of beef with some potato puree. I could have had a much larger portion than this it was so good. 

Next up were the sandwiches beef; cream cheese and cucumber; chicken tikka wrap; smoked salmon, quails egg and salmon roe on pumpernickel; and tuna in a squid ink roll. My favourite was tuna in the squid ink roll.  

After sandwiches came the scones and cakes. The scones were nice, just the perfect size and came with jam and cream, and also passionfruit jam which I thought was great. 
The cakes I liked a little less but I think that is personal as I'm not a fan of cream cakes. The chocolate one was my favourite. There was also mini creme brulee which was scrumptious.   

After all that we had a rose sorbet and some chocolates to take home. 

After finishing tea we got a taxi to the Dubai Mall to watch the fountain show. 

To then get home and have the chocolates from earlier. 

On Monday we had a really relaxing day as my flight was late that evening. We spent the day sunbathing and swimming in the sea. In the evening I got a taxi back to the airport got on the plane, landed in the morning and was straight off to work!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie.

Every weekend over the autumn winter months I am going to try and cook something hearty and warming, this weekend I made sweet potato cottage pie.

To serve 9 you will need:
300g Pork mince 
500g Beef mince 
2 onions
1 tablespoon tomato purée
5 large mushrooms
2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes
1 dessert spoon of worsteshire sauce 
2 beef OXO cubes
4 tablespoons of beef gravy granules
5 sweet potatoes

First brown the mince and then drain it on kitchen towel. 

Then peel and chop the onions and cook in the pan used to brown the mince. Cook for arid 10 minutes on a medium heat. 

Add the tomato purée and cook this for a couple of minutes. 

Remove the onion from the pan and add the chopped mushroom cook for 5-10 minutes. 

At this point I divided my mix into two pans as I didn't want to spill any. I added half the onions mince and mushrooms to each pan and then added one tin of chopped tomatoes to each pan. Then add the gravy granules, OXO cubes, worsteshire sauce to the pans or pan if you have a large pan. Cover the mince with water and then leave to simmer until the mix has a thick dark gravy. This takes around 40 minutes. 

Place the mince in a dish and leave while you make the mash. 

Peel and chop the potatoes and boil for around 6 minutes or until soft. 

Drain and mash the cooked potato. 

Then carfully spoon the mash on top of the mince. Use a fork to mark the top of the mash. 

Cook at 180 for 35 minutes. 

The sweet potato mash is still comforting but is much lighter so you don't feel heavy after eating a good portion. It also counts as one of your five a day where as normal mash does not.