Comfort foods

So it’s officially Autumn you guys!

Two weeks ago Fi and I landed back in the UK from Portugal at 12:45 am to pouring rain and cold temperatures – a bit of a shock after the sunny weather that we experienced in Portugal. Talk about the perfect way to herald in a new season! Anyway now we are embracing the cold weather and enjoying it immensely. Goodbye flip-flops, salads and picnics in the park and hello patchwork quilts, boots, warming soups and casseroles. Let’s be honest the most exciting part about autumn and winter is the delicious comfort food that we all turn to. Some of our favourites are roast dinners, pies, turkey & tarragon sweet potatoes, chilli, stroganoff and our newly discovered sausage casserole.

Also there’s the good old tuna pasta, which is what I wanted to share with you today. In the two years of this bloglets existence I can’t believe that this hasn’t been discussed but I think that’s probably because it’s such a simple and easy recipe that we just haven’t thought to mention it! Well that’s about to change as sometimes the simple recipes are the best, right?! I made this last Thursday when we were catching up with friends as we wanted something quick and easy to make that could just be shoved into the oven and left to do its thing!

This recipe really couldn’t be more simple.

1. Start your pasta cooking in the usual way.
2. While the pasta is cooking get started on your white sauce. For a basic white sauce you need to make a roux with the butter and flour and then add the milk continually stirring as it thickens. Then add seasoning. I honestly can’t tell you quantities here as it’s just something that I do by sight. But I’m sure there are some good recipes online if you need them.
3. Once the sauce and pasta are ready you all set to go. Drain the pasta and the mix in two tins of tuna. Next add about half of the white sauce to the mixture.
4. Pour the pasta mix into a dish and then pour the remaining sauce over the top – it soaks through the pasta this way.
5. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and then bake in the oven for about 30 mins.

I have to admit that this one tasted so good, I’m not sure why. It wasn’t quite up to my Mum’s standards but it’s getting there. Quick question: how is it that things cooked by my Mum always taste better? It’s a mystery!

Lau xxx

p.s. listing all our favourite winter warmers has got me excited for the next few months of good food.

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A Trip to Five Guys

A few weeks ago I headed with a couple of work buddies to Five Guys in Covent Garden for some post drinking grub. Yes, chatter about Five Guys opening in London is all over the Interweb, normally with comparison talk about the Shake Shack – FYI, I’ve been there too – it’s good! So anyway I thought I’d discuss it on here to let you all know what I thought. You know me; I absolutely love food and I also love talking about food!

First things first, this is located very close to where I work – dangerous times ahead! We arrived at about 8pm on a Thursday night and joined the back of the line outside the shop – basically there’s a polite English queue to get into the shop – I guess it’s so it doesn’t get too crowded and manic in there. I’m hoping that post Summer Hols this disappears both the queue outside and the crowd of people. There are lovely queue minder people who come along to chat to you about the menu, how it works and of course tell you how long the queue is. For us it was a lovely lady (didn’t get a name, sorry) who explained that it would probably be about a 15 minute wait – that’s fine we said as we weren’t in a hurry. We actually struck up quite a good conversation with the queue lady and thank god we did as she gave us invaluable information, that I’m going to share with you now…portion sizes. Yes portion sizes. So apparently the normal burger, cheese burger or bacon cheeseburger has two patties in it. Yes two patties, thank god we found this out. After hearing this we decided to go for the ‘little’ portion of burgers and fries. I had originally thought that these were the kids meals – but apparently not.

Anyway after hearing that little nugget of information we soon found ourselves at the front of the queue and headed into the restaurant. While you’re queuing at the counter you are standing next to a huge box of monkey nuts which are there for you to help yourself to. I know it’s only a small gesture but it really makes a difference. I stepped up to the counter and ordered my food, then headed to the pick up counter where you can watch your food being cooked.

For £12 I got:

a little bacon cheeseburger – even though it was a small burger it was still plenty big enough. The cool think about Five Guys is you can top your burger with as many toppings as you want, from mushrooms to salad, ketchup and barbecue sauce. Even though we had this option I stuck to just a simple bacon cheeseburger as it’s such a classic and is just my favourite burger combo.

little fries – these were skin on fries and were completely delicious. My only negative comment (if you could call it that) is that the portion was still absolutely huge. When I go back I think i’ll share this size with someone.

a refillable soft drink – the drinks machine is another quirky thing about this burger place. Basically there’s two machines for drinks that give over 200 different flavours. No lie, you pick your main drink, Coke, Fanta still, lemonade etc and then you get all the other options. For example after picking Diet Coke I could have gone for the vanilla, cherry or lime (among other flavours that I can’t remember now). The cups are refillable so you can go up and try again and again. I was boring and went for a Diet Coke – creature of habit, sorry!

There are booths and tables in the restaurant and there’s a downstairs section or you can takeaway. There was some great music playing quite loudly which really helped set the tone to the place and we had no issue getting a table which always helps. Overall it was the perfect place to go after a few drinks, it was quick, tasty and a bit fun too. I’d definitely suggest it if you’re nearby sometime. You can check out the website and full menu right here and plan your trip!

Happy burger eating!

Lau xxx

This post was first posted on Lau’s Rambling Corner.

Link love, inspiring images and a quote

I thought I’d share a few bits and pieces that I’ve spotted around the internet recently that have really tickled my fancy. by sharing them on here not only will you guys see some lovely looking things, I’ll also have these ideas bookmarked for future inspiration. Yes it’s true. I am a genius. FACT.

First up on my list of loveliness, are a few yummy looking recipes that I’ve seen recently and really want to try. A while back I saw these yummy gummy sweets on the brilliant blog A Beautiful Mess and ever since I’ve been obsessed with them. They look yummy and seem so simple to make, I think these need to be added to the ‘must make’ list! Also this frozen yoghurt from shutterbean.com – um yes something that contains bananas, peanut butter and is also virtually calorie free. What’s not to love?! As for more savoury things, I’ve been dreaming about this delicious looking aubergine and halloumi parmigiana a lot lately. Doesn’t it look scrumptious? Also The Skint Foodie’s recipe for pollock fish cakes sounds out of this world. I’ve never cooked with (or eaten for that matter) Pollock before so I think this recipe would be a good starting point…

Pinterest has been really inspiring recently, I have fallen head over heels in love with the following things – aren’t they all aces? I tink these would all be wonderful in our rhubarb and custard kitchen.

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We have open shelves in our kitchen which I love for showcasing all our recipe books and crockery, but I sort of wish I could make ours look as great as this – look at all that colour!

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pyrex......especially vintage pyrex

Does anyone else want some vintage beautiful coloured pyrex now they’ve seen this image? Or is that just me?

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Personalized Monogrammed Drinking Jar (Set of 4)

Making personalised drinking glasses might just need to be my next kitchen DIY

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I thought I’d finish this post with a quote I read recently about food, by Dorothy Draper. I really like it and think it might be the next quote for our kitchen chalkboard. What do you think of it?

Eating is really one of your indoor sports. You play three times a day, and it’s well worth while to make the game as pleasant as possible.

Fi xxx

Focaccia

A few weeks back, on a lazy saturday morning, I stumbled across the Hairy Bikers. They appeared to be living the dream as they baked focaccia al fresco in Venice. Yeah, like I said living the dream.
This got me thinking, why not try making focaccia myself? I’ve not really dabbled in bread making in the past, as you’ll see from the fact that our bread recipes have all been done by Lau. Case in point: here and here. Nevertheless I thought why not, it can’t be that tricky right?!

Well no it’s not tricky, but it is a bit of a faff isn’t it? I mean talk about needing patience (something I’ve always been in short supply of). From making the following focaccia recipe I’ve realised that I like a recipe that you make and then bake. None if this make a bit, leave it for a while, add something more then leave it a while longer and then oh look baking time. No that malarkey is far too much hassle for my liking! Even if the resulting focaccia is pretty darn scrummy. Anyway I followed a recipe I found online here. So what you’ll need is:

  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 475g plain flour
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 3 tsp sea salt flakes
  1. Start by putting 125ml warm water into a large mixing bowl with 1tsp of yeast.
  2. Leave for 10 minutes to bubble, before adding 75g of the flour.
  3. Stir together, cover with cling film and leave to stand for 45 minutes.
  4. In your second bowl mix the rest of the yeast with 250ml warm water.
  5. Leave to bubble for 5-10 minutes before adding to the first floury mixture.
  6. Add the oil, 2tsps salt and the remaining flour.
  7. Mix to a dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  8. Put in an oiled mixing bowl and cover with cling film.
  9. Leave in a warm spot for 90 minutes or until it doubles in size.
  10. Knock the air out if the dough and shape into an oiled shallow roasting tin.
  11. Cover and leave for 1 hour.
  12. Preheat a baking sheet in the oven at 220°c.
  13. Sprinkle the dough with the remainder of the salt.
  14. Bake the dough for 15-20 until the dough is golden and has risen.
  15. Eat, enjoy (and have a rest)!

– Fi xxx

Ready Steady Cook #1

So hello and welcome to the first installment of our Ready Steady Cook cooking challenge – I’m going to come up with a short catchy title, I promise – let’s start today’s post by looking at the ingredients that Fi picked for me to cook with…

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one aubergine / 250g beef mince / one can of evaporated milk /

one pack of raspberry jelly / a tin of peaches

Honestly when I first saw this selection of food I had a bit of a panic. I had no idea what I was going to cook. I just couldn’t get my head around what to do with these five items. Straight away I separated the aubergine and mince into the the savoury main course and the remaining three ingredients into my sweet desert option. Then I set about brainstorming. A good 24 hours later I was set and ready to go, with a beef and aubergine lasagne and a peach and raspberry trifle. I decided to get cooking on the bank holiday Monday so that I’d have plenty of time to get everything done as I knew there were a lot of steps that I needed to get through.

Beef and aubergine lasagne

Bought ingredients – aubergine, mince

Store cupboard ingredients – onion, pasata, herbs, lasagne sheets, milk, butter, flour, salt & pepper

Here’s a look at what I did…

  • chop the onion and fry in a little oil
  • once softened add in the mince and brown off
  • add in the pasata and the herbs and simmer over a low heat to lose some of the liquid
  • meanwhile slice the aubergine along the longest length and then make your white sauce using the milk, butter, flour and seasoning
  • Now layer the lasagne up. I went for a thin layer of mince, aubergine, lasagne sheets, white sauce, meat, aubergine and so on. Finish with a layer of pasta and then the remaining white sauce
  • Cook in the oven – takes about 30 minutes.

Peach and raspberry trifle

Bought ingredients – evaporated milk, peaches and raspberry jelly cubes

Store cupboard ingredients – eggs, margarine, sugar, flour and vanilla essence

and here’s what I did…

  • first I made a basic sponge cake, with all the ingredients from the cupboard. Thank god we make a lot of cakes in our house!
  • make the jelly as per the packet instructions
  • I read online here that you can whip evaporated milk into whipped cream so this was my aim. I did think about using the milk in the lasagne but thought that this might be a better option instead – just to try something different.
  • Right next it’s time to layer up the trifle. I cut the cake into squares and started by layering that at the bottom of the bowl. Then goes the jelly, the peaches and the cream, I did three layers of everything ending with the cream on top.

Yes I do realise that my pudding would have looked a lot better if it was in a glass bowl, but we don’t have one so in came the second option *must add to my christmas list*. I was also tempted just to make two small trifles, but then I would have been left with a lot of extra jelly and cake so I thought why not make a mahoosive one – practice for the next Evans family Christmas maybe…

I had so much fun making these dishes, personally I loved the aubergine with the lasagne, it gave a lovely flavour throughout the dish. Plus it was so filling – luckily I’d been spinning so I was hungry!

The pudding was slightly different, the jelly and the cake were delicious but there was a slight issue with the whipped cream – I forgot to snap a picture but it went into the fridge all full and when we took it out to serve the cream had basically disappeared – we were just left with a bit of foam. We decided to dive into the dish anyway and actually it was great, all I can think is that the sponge had soaked up the cream as it was so soft and perfect with the jelly and peaches. Plus both Fi and I aren’t huge fans of cream so actually I think this worked in our favour!

Now the only thing left is for Fi to get marking my dishes…

Use of ingredients: 8/10 I’ve gone with eight because I think an aubergine and beef lasagna was a genius way to mix the ingredients – and it hadn’t even crossed my mind! As for the missing two points, well I think Lau should really have used the milk in the two meals, that would have shown true cooking cleverness!

Ingenuity: 9/10 A trifle was inspired, I would never have thought of making a cake with these ingredients, and using the evaporated milk as cream was rather clever I think – so bonus points for that!

Taste: 9/10 Both parts of this meal were seriously scrumptious. I particularly loved how the aubergine flavoured the lasagna and the milk softened the cake, so delicious.

Until next time… Lau and Fi xx

August baking and eatings

Yes, it’s that time again! A new month, means a recap on what the two of us have been eating, the restaurants we’ve visited and of course what we’ve been cooking. So what have Fi and I been up to this month foodwise?

Well in Wales there was vegetarian lasagna of amazingness (as mentioned here), butter buns (extreme levels of delicious) and welsh cakes by the dozen (not even slightly exaggerating here), which reminds me we really should make our own soon….

Then we were in Leeds where we had a delicious Thai meal and a relaxing picnic in Roundhay Park.

Aside from the eating out while we were away we also managed to make it to The Yard, Shake Shack, The Seahorse Pub, Flutes at Wembley Stadium, Five Guys, Wagamamas and Del ‘Aziz. Not bad for a month between the two of us!

Now for cooking and baking ourselves there’s definitely been more going on this month in comparison to July. We cooked up some turkey burgers with friends in Leeds. Then we both made cakes at seperate times for sharing with work people. I picked whoopie pies to make, you can check out our original whoopie pie post here and my updated one from this time of baking them here. Fi made herself (and her work friends) some oreo brownies from a Lorraine Pascale recipe.

Also this month we’ve started a new cooking challenge – read more on that here and keep your eyes peeled for the recipes that came out of this challenge.

Plus in other baking related news the wonderful show that is The Great British Bake Off is back. Yippee!! We both just love this show!

What about you lovely people, how has your month of food been?

Lau xxx