The land of frites, pancakes and bagels

Last month we were extremely lucky to spend a long weekend exploring the beautiful city of Amsterdam. As well as doing all the touristy stuff – Anne Frank’s House, the Van Gogh Museum, a canal boat trip, searching for tulips, etc – we had a few foodie things we wanted to tick off our list whilst there.

We obviously had to experience frites and mayonnaise, which is practically an obsession in Amsterdam. On pretty much every street there’s a small takeaway shop selling them in paper cones – so cute! We didn’t go for the paper cone serving option, mainly because we were in torrential rain all weekend and paper and water aren’t the best mix! Instead we opted to shelter in a small pub during torrential rain and have them then. Let’s be honest we weren’t even slightly disappointed – the combo is a winning one!

One surprising thing we discovered whilst there was a cafe chain called Beans and Bagels, which as the name suggests is all about the coffee and bagels. I’d recommend this to anyone fancying a simple and filling breakfast. We got coffee and bagels (with numerous toppings) for about 10 euros which wasn’t bad considering how much we had. Also it introduced me to the idea of cream cheese and chocolate sprinkles on a bagel – genius!

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Before I mention the best foodie thing about the whole trip   I need to mention the sheer amount of cake and coffee stops we had on our weekend – it was almost obscene! But hey a good tourist survives on a full stomach so multiples coffees and cake – in particular this banana bread, which lets be honest is basically a breakfast food is essential!

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The absolute crowning glory of our trip occurred on our final day when we trekked across the city to experience one of the most highly recommended pancake places, at least according to the internet and multiple guidebooks. We were not disappointed by The Pancake Bakery in the slightest. Not only was the restaurant cute and quirk, it also happened to make the most amazing pancakes. They were huge and the toppings weren’t just toppings they were embedded in the pancakes, yes embedded in the pancakes. I really have to try this out myself one day! After much deliberation I settled on a banana, apple and raisin topping, with lashings of maple syrup and molasses – delicious. Lau went for bacon and apple and our friend had a random concoction of onion, bacon, mushrooms and cheese. I definitely think mine was the most superior pancake. Hands down.

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So that was our Amsterdam culinary experience – anything you would have suggested/added from your own travels there?

– Fi xx

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Granola

So confession time. I have a tendency to get into a bit of a rut when it comes to breakfasts and I become obsessed with one breakfast for weeks at a time. It usually revolves between Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, Sainsbury’s Oat and Raisin Granola or a Porridge pot with sultanas and banana. It gets so bad that sometimes I have to remind myself that other breakfast foods exist other than my current item of choice as otherwise I’ll be eating the same breakfast for two or three months at a time!

Recently I realised I was in a granola rut, yet I didn’t want to pull myself out of said rut completely, I just wanted to change the type of granola I was eating. Namely I wanted to make my own. Now I’ve made granola in the past (read about that here) and it’s really easy, so lord knows why I stopped making it but having decided to mix things up I stumbled across this recipe for peanut butter granola. My first thought on this? Oh my. I mean wow I love peanut butter but would never have considered it for a granola recipe. But as soon as I heard of it I was sold!

Having tried the recipe I have to say it’s the granola recipe to beat all the granola recipes ever. It’s so easy, so cheap and so delicious that I defy you not to love it! The combination of nuts and oats is just ingenious and it reminds me of oat and fruit cookies, you know those really brilliant ones that you used to get in Starbucks in the US. Simply amazing.

Do try it and may I suggest you add sultanas to the trays about half way through cooking as they really do add something amazing to the recipe. Then the only thing you have to work out is what to eat it with… My current favourite is simply with milk but natural yoghurt and raspberries is a close second! Enjoy.

– Fi xxx

Kedgeree

A few weeks month or so ago, whilst curled up on the sofa under my favourite patchwork quilt, I spotted an illustrated recipe for kedgeree in the January issue of Jamie’s magazine. I’ve never had kedgeree, in fact I can’t even say it properly {it’s ked-j-ree not ked-e-gree – who knew!}, but it’s been something I’ve always wanted to embrace as I just knew I’d love it. I mean rice, egg and fish – what’s not to love?

Anywho after reading just how simple it was I added it to January’s food list and last week we set about making it and obviously it was a bloody triumph! Not only is it easy-peasy, but it’s also cheap as chips (thanks to discounted fish) and unbelievably tasty. Kedgeree is now on my easy to do and to impress-people-with-list, so I’m going to share the recipe we used.

We didn’t follow Jamie’s recipe religiously (as we didn’t have all the ingredients) so we just used it as a guide. Annoyingly I can’t find Jamie’s original recipe online, but the one here is very similar if you want to get it straight from the horse’s mouth!

You will need:

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • Two eggs (hard-boiled)
  • Lemon juice
  • 160g of Smoked herring
  • 1 tsp Garam masala
  • 1 Fish stock cube
  • Onion

And then follow these super simple instructions…

  1. Make up 340ml of fish stock
  2. Fry the onions with a little garam masala and oil
  3. Add the stock, a few drops of lemon juice and the rice and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked
  4. Remove the skin and bones from the fish and chop up and add to the cooked rice mixture
  5. Add the two eggs and mush *technical term* into the mixture
  6. Mix everything together and EAT!

One thing I would say is that it could have been improved by the addition of some veggies. We were feeling lazy and couldn’t be bothered to go and buy anything, so just used what was in our cupboards – an onion – but I would definitely add spinach, mushrooms, peppers, etc in the future. Not just for flavour but so that it’s a smidge more filling. Not essential but worth bearing in mind.

– Fi xxx

January 2014 Eats

Hello lovely people and welcome to our little update on what foody delights have been occurring with us this month. Wow January has been a long month, but as you can see we’ve mainly managed to survive it by eating lots of yummy things! Yay to us right.

January Eats

Cooked
Kedegree
RSC#5 – Cod with bacon and a tomato sauce
Butternut squash pasta
Butternut squash risotto
Steak and potato wedges – the stuff of dreams!

Baked
Apple and Blackberry Crumble
Bourbon Biscuit brownies (as see on this rambling corner)
Avocado brownies
Bread & Rolls
Granola (coming soon I promise!)

Eaten
Dinner at Five Guys
Pizza and quiz fun at the Elephant on the Hill
Brunch at Tom’s Kitchen. Look out for a post about this soon.
Drinks at the Tinder Yard
Dinner at The Seahorse Pub (One of our favourite places ever – their sticky toffee pudding is to die for)
Lunch at Denbies Vineyard

What about you lovely people? What have been your food highlights this month?

Lau xxx

Avocado Brownies – sort of

So here’s the thing, I happen to have an obsession with brownies, an unhealthy obsession to them if I’m honest. Whenever I spot them in a cafe it’s almost impossible to not have one and I’ve baked so many different variations – let’s see there was the scrumptious plain chocolate onesraspberry and biscuit ones, some featuring butternut squash, ones with mint and then there were the Oreo ones and the marshmallow ones, basically anytime I see an interesting recipe for brownies I have to give them a whirl. This obsession is not always great because of course gooey, chocolate brownies are not altogether good for you now are they? Plus how can anyone have just one homemade brownie? It’s basically an impossibility, well for me anyway. If you can do, then yay to you. I would be jealous but you know I’m too busy eating my fourth brownie of the day!

Anyway recently I discovered a recipe on the wondrous Pinterest for brownies that were healthy and only 27 calories a pop! Amazing right? I mean imagine the guilt free brownie scoffing that could ensue at just 27 calories a brownie?!?! It’s my ultimate dream! What makes them healthy I hear you say? Well you replace the butter and sugar with other ingredients, namely yogurt, Stevia and avocado. Yes avocado – don’t worry you don’t get the flavour of the avocado it’s purely for texture. Let’s be honest that would be a bit weird wouldn’t it? Needless to say I had to make them straightaway (or at least once I found all the ingredients, Stevia is not that easy to find FYI). My only issue with these brownies? Well there not really brownies. They’re more cakey than that and quite solid – there’s none of the gooey middle you get (and want) in a brownie in these. Don’t get me wrong they are nice, once heated in the microwave and covered in custard, but they’re not really brownies – at least not in my book. You should definitely make them, but treat them like a healthy cake and you’ll be much happier!

So here’s the recipe, which of course you can find over on the awesome blog Undressed Skeleton, which is chocked full of awesome looking food!

1 avocado – 3 eggs – 1 cup wholemeal flour – 1/2 cup cocoa powder – 1/3 cup hot water – 1 tbsp vanilla extract – 6oz fat free vanilla yogurt – 5 packets of Stevia – 3 tbsp dark chocolate chips – 3 tbsp agave nectar

Beat the avocado, eggs and yogurt until there are no avocado lumps, next add the vanilla extract and Stevia and beat until fully combined.

In a different bowl combine the water and cocoa together to form a paste (I needed to add a bit more water to get the right consistency). Then add to the avocado mixture and mix well.

Finally add the flour and combine again before pouring into the pre-greased brownie tray

Sprinkle with chocolate chips and cook on 180 degrees for 20 minutes.

If you make them I’d love to hear your thoughts, I’m intrigued to know how you ate them and if you’d class them as a brownie or not…

– Fi xxx

Originally posted on The Adventures of Fi on 20th January 2014.

Fabulous Fudge

So let’s talk about fudge, lovely creamy, crumbly, delicious fudge. I’m a big fan of this stuff, and like to ignore that fact that I’m essentially eating a vat of butter with each mouthful as it’s just so darn delicious. The taste alone is reminiscent of childhood day trips when you’d be rewarded with the crinkling sound of the paper bag as it was unfurled and your Mum proffered you the bag to choose your very own piece. What dreams are made of I’d say.

As much as I love fudge (all flavours, I’m not picky) I’d never considered making it myself. I assumed it was so super-duper hard and complicated that it would involve some form of life endangering sugar boiling. Apparently that’s not the case, who knew?! Certainly not me, but thankfully the Domestic Sluts sorted me out, and when I finally got round to making fudge just before Christmas it was a revelation. Honestly one of the simplest things to make, and not only is it delicious but people also think you’re some sort of domestic marvel – when in reality all you’ve done is melted and stirred some ingredients. Bonus!

I made two types of fudge for Christmas, a plain fudge (recipe below) and this mince-pie fudge and both were marvellous, although possibly sweet enough to send you into a sugar coma after a couple of crumbs – so you’ve been warned. One thing I would say is that you should stir the fudge until you get a really golden colour as I stopped a little too soon on the plain fudge recipe and it didn’t quite set properly.

You can check out the plain fudge recipe I used below or read the original recipe that Domestic Sluttery posted here.

  • 230g slightly salted butter
  • 453g caster sugar
  • A tin of condensed milk
  • Melt the butter
  • Add the sugar and mix together.
  • Add the condensed milk and stir continuously for 10 minutes whilst bringing to the boil. Once its bubbling, turn the heat down and stir for another 10 minutes
  • Pour into a greased brownie tin and leave to cool.
  • Cut into squares and EAT!

See easy peasy – right! I bet you can’t wait to give it a whirl. I enjoyed making eating the fudge so much that I’m now trying to decide on what flavours to make next. Currently I’m torn between this layered mint chocolate fudge or this Peanut Butter Fudge one. I also saw someone tweet about a Malteaser fudge recently, which sounds intriguing I just can’t remember who it was! What do you think, any thoughts on what flavour I should try next?

– Fi xx

p.s. I’m a bad food blogger and failed to take ANY pictures of said fudge. What a fool I am!

Cook, Bake and Eat do Ready Steady Cook #5

Hello lovely people and welcome to the first round of Ready Steady Cook in 2014. This time it was Fi’s turn to choose the five key ingredients that I had to cook with. For some reason I was really looking forward to getting stuck into this challenge – I think because I didn’t do much cooking in December, so I was itching for a chance to get going. The five ingredients that Fi picked are below…

 

broccoli / cod / passata / brown rice / bacon lardons

As soon as I saw these ingredients I was grinning as it seemed like the perfect chance to create something warm and delicious for dinner. So that’s exactly what I did on the first Sunday of January. Aside from the ingredients that Fi gave me I also used 1 red onion and 3 tablespoons of double cream as we had some in the fridge already.

Here’s what I did to create cod with bacon and tomato sauce on brown rice.

1. Fry the chopped onion until slightly soft, then add the bacon lardons (NB we only used half of the bacon in this pack) and continue to fry. While this is cooking, cook the broccoli in the usual way. Preheat the oven to 180 ̊C and place the cod in some oiled foil ready for the oven.

2. Once the bacon is cooked add the carton of passata sauce and some herbs. I went for some mixed herbs as I wanted an italian flavour to the dish. I don’t have amounts as I just did it by taste and smell as I went along (sorry). Once you’ve started the sauce you can cook your rice – I did this in the microwave as I could leave it alone for 18 minutes, only stirring every now and again. Once the rice is in put your cod in the oven for 17 mins.

3. Once the sauce has thickened add in the double cream, this makes the sauce really creamy, but isn’t strictly necessary. We had some leftover in the fridge so I figured I may as well throw it in! Leave the sauce to simmer until your fish is cooked.

4. The rice, cod and sauce should all be ready at around about the same time, so now just construct your plate of food and enjoy!

Just a quick note to make – This gave us twice as much sauce as what we actually needed, so next time we would use half the amount of passata, the bacon and the cream.We’ll definitely be making this again as it was scrumptious!

Lau xx

p.s. Check out the new banner that Fi made for this series in 2014. I love it 🙂