Thursday, 26 February 2009

Birthday Food

Currently Listening to: "Maybe I Will" by Julia Nunes

Last week was a very long week, I had to juggle composing my opera with celebrating my twenty-something birthday... I know, it's a hard life! With it being so chaotic I didn't have time to cook even one meal, so spent most meal times in either a pub, restaurant or greasy spoon cafe. So I thought, rather then write a blog about what "I" cooked, I'll do one about what I didn't cook.

Day 1 (my twenty-something Birthday)

It has become somewhat of a birthday tradition with my mates for us to head to our local greasy spoon called Daiquiri's (now I know a place named after an alcoholic drink is never a good place for breakfast but stay with me...) for breakfast.

This place is truly amazing, in the morning it's a quality breakfast joint, as the day wares on it become an even better Mexican bar/restaurant. The food here is 2nd to none for the price range, with a full English (and half pint of orange juice) cooked to perfection for £4.50 how can you go wrong?! The thick bacon is grilled not fried, the beans are Heinz not some cheapo make and the sausages and pretty damn good too.

In the evening I went out for a meal with my housemates & co. and after a bit of faffing about ended up in one of Cardiff's two new "Wagamama's". Now I was quite excited because several mate have been raving about this chain. When I got there I was somewhat confused as I didn't really fancy soup... was kinda stuck! Anyway after trying to workout what everything was I settled for the "Salmon Ramen" - noodles in a pork and chicken spiced miso soup topped with a grilled fillet of salon, seasonal greens, menma, spring onions, wakame and carrots. garnished with mixed sesame seeds. Now I must say I really like the flavours of this dish, but because it is just one HUGE bowl of it and nothing else I felt it became a bit sameish. For desert I shared (now that is showing my age) the White Chocolate and Ginger Cheese Cake... YUMMY!
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it and will be going back sometime, I just don't rave about it!

The whole day was washed down with some sublime cocktails in local bar Milgi. I had - from what I remember:

  • Fruit Salad Martini - taste just like the sweets!

  • Espresso & Vanilla Daiquiris - the sophisticated vodka red bull. The Sailor Jerry's gives a great Vanilla twist whilst the three coffee beans placed on top really finish off the presentation.

  • Organic Milgo Mojito - which is: Muddled organic basil, lime, gin, lychee liqueur & elderflower sugar. Sounds random but is sooooo refreshing.
Day 2 (the day of the offical birthday party)

One of my sisters came down for the party so we went out for a meal before hand. Unfortunately Pizza Express was rather busy so we headed up to the new GBK (Gormet Burger Kitchen - right next to Wagamama) which was another first for me. As per neither I nor my sister could decided on what to have, luckily we were both torn between the same two burgers:

  • Pesterella - 100% Aberdeen Angus Scotch Beef Burger, pesto, mozzarella, salad and relish.
  • Chicken, Camembert and Cranberry

So we ordered both between the two of us and shared. I loved them both and really couldn't pick a favourite. Now this is a place I certainly am gonna rave about!

Day 3 (the morning after)

After waking up rather hungry and dry mouthed we headed to our local new Varsity Bar for some grub. Now I never expected to say this but I had one of the best pizza's I've ever had... I ordered a Breakfast Pizza (which is literally a full English on a pizza) and it was amazing. The base was stone baked with seemingly freshly made dough served on a wooden chopping board. Now I wouldn't normally fork out £6.95 on a pizza from a pub but this was worth it.

Anyway, all that talk about eating out just makes me want to get back in the kitchen!

Expect a flourish of home baked food soon...

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Great Balls of Fire!

Currently Listening to: "String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 110 - Largo" - Dmitri Shostakovich

In an attempt to finish off my fresh pasta before I go training up north this weekend so went to a recipie I learnt when working in a gastro pub.

Meatballs in Tomato and Chilli Sauce and Pasta

I used my usual Tomato and Chilli Sauce and cooked the pasta as I always do, but the meatballs is a first for this blog!

Serves 2 (6-8 meatballs)
  • 120g lean beef mince
  • 120g pork mince
  • 2 tablespoons of fine bread crumbs
  • 1/2 small onion,finely chopped
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 table spoons of water
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 pinches of black pepper


  1. Mix all indgredients together and form in balls about 2" in diameter
  2. Place on grill pan and grill on high for about 12-15min turning regularly
  3. Put in pan with sauce and warm through
  4. Serve with pasta

Anyway, got to keep this short as I have a lot of work still to do... oh the joys of being a student :(

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

"Tiny salmon swimming in a stream..."

Currently Listening to: "Don't Worry Be Happy" - Bob Marley

I had two fillets of salmon in the fridge that needed to be eaten and I didn't want to do my usual Canjan Salmon Salad and I had no potatoes in to do Salmon and mash so I put my thinking cap on...

Salmon & Broccoli Pasta with a Tomato, Basil and Mascarpone Sauce

The Sauce (serves 2 - I've chilled the 2nd portion for my lunch tomorrow!)
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • a large pinch of freshly chopped basil
  • 2 Tablespoons of Mascarpone Cheese
  • a small pinch of salt
  1. Blend the tomatoes
  2. stir in the basil and salt
  3. Melt the Mascarpone on a low heat
  4. Add the tomato and simmer for 3-mins

The rest of the dish...
  • Fresh Pasta
  • A hand full broccoli broken into small sprigs
  • 2 Salmon fillets
  1. Put the salmon in the microwave (I know I'm usually anit-micro waving, but it really does cook salmon very well) for about 2mins 30sec (750watts)
  2. Whilst the salmon is cooking cook the pasta (with a pinch of salt and a drip of cooking oil) and broccoli in the same pan. If you use fresh pasta this should work out just the right amount of time to keep the broccoli nice crunchy and full of flavor. If you're not using fresh pasta add the broccoli for the final 1 min.
  3. Once the salmon is finished break into chunks, mix with sauce and warm through slowly.

This really is one of my favourite pasta dishes. The chef at my local Italian take away has promised to teach me how to make "the best" fresh pasta, can't wait!

Quick Cake to share MKII

Currently Listening to: "America" by Razorlight

After a short stint in the pub we decided to use up the rest of the half dozen eggs, but with Tesco now closed our imagination limited to what I had in stock to make more Quick Cakes!

Firstly we went back to the Raisin mix we did, however this time we added a blob of jam. We didn't mix it in, just let it sink so it'd stay together like in a doughnut...

This worked really well and I prefered it to the original version.

Next (after a quick game of Pro Evo) a mate had the genius idea of doing Chocolate Orange, so with a few heaped tea spoons of Belgium Hot Chocolate powder mixed with ca. 50ml of bitty orange juice.

The orange flavour was good, but we need to think about increasing the chocolate flavour...!

Finally we made one by mixing in golden syrup... need I say anymore!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Quick Cake to share!

Currently Listening to: "My Friends - Sweeney Todd" by Stephen Sondheim

Well it's been a very long time I last blogged and I really do miss it so I decided to kick things off again and keep my blog alive!

Dissertation boredom and final project insanity is starting to kick in so today I decided to try something I've seen on a few blogs recently - "5 min Cake". Much to my disgust my local Tesco doesn't sell "Cocoa Powder" so I've adapted the recipe and tried out a few flavours. We've experimented and adapted the method to come up with what we think is a rather good formula:


  • 4 Tablespoons of normal flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 4 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 2 Pinches of Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 Tablespoons of Milk
  • 3 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • Flavour of your choice!
  1. Mix Flour, Baking Powder, Sugar, Salt and you chosen flavour in a large mug.
  2. Add the egg and lightly mix.
  3. Pour in the Milk and Oil, and mix well.
  4. Put in Microwave at full power (750watts) for 3mins.
  5. Let stand for 30secs.
  6. Empty onto plate and eat straight away!
We have so far tried three flavours: Coffee, Vanilla & Raisin and Chocolate. A wee warning, for the flavours to work well you need to make it quite strong... we don't know why but it takes a lot to get the flavours come through.
Our first attempt was coffee, so to make the flavour we used two heaped tea spoons of instant coffee mixed with two table spoons of boiling water.

This cake was nuked for 4mins which was too long as the texture was rather rubbery, and we only put in half a tea spoon of baking powder making it rather heavy.

Vanilla & Raisin

By now we'd learnt out lesson about over nuking and using too little baking powder. For the vanilla and Raisin we put in some vanilla extract and raisins into the mix. This made a beautiful texture and flavour.


Our local Tesco is rather lame and doesn't stock Cocoa Powder so to make this flavour we took a large lump of Nutella and mixed it with a little bit of boiling water before adding to the mix.

In retrospect we should of used more nutella as the taste wasn't strong enough...

These cakes are great quick and easy to make, I can see them becoming a drunken munchies snack in my house!

Watch this space for more flavours and the continuation of my blog!