Saturday 31 August 2013

Ocean Bells Coffee Company

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The coffee scene in Watford was dire, to say the least. That's until this past Wednesday when Ocean Bells Coffee Company opened on the Watford High Street. Having found out 2 weeks ago that a speciality coffee shop was opening, I've been excited and they did not disappoint! 
Find it lacking, coffee-wise, over on this side of the pond, Husband and Wife team of Alex and Isabella decided to open one of their own, a coffee shop that definitely won't feel out of place even if it was located amongst the many independent coffee shops in London. I'm making this comparison only because my hubby and I love going around exploring the many coffee shops that have been mushrooming up in the big smoke. We've been hoping for one to open in Watford for the longest time so we are very happy that our wish have finally come true!
They are currently serving a sweetish espresso blend, Jailbreak from Hasbean, that's easy on the palette. Coupled with silky smooth textured milk, it was a joy to drink. I had a chance to speak to Alex so I found out that they are planning to bring in some single origin coffee beans and may have a filter coffee going soon. A guest espresso too, perhaps! I'm definitely looking forward to this, as even though I'm not a coffee connoisseur, I enjoy trying out coffee of different profiles and learning more about them. 

The decor is simple, clean and comfortable, just the right place for having a coffee whilst catching up with the morning papers or having chat with friends.

Decorated with lots of various photos, articles and sketches, it feels pretty cosy too.

As they have just opened, they want to first concentrate on coffee(of course!), cakes and pastries that have been lovingly made by Isabelle. They'll slowly add some lunch offerings once they'll found their feet.
Am sure this will soon be one of my most frequented places when in Watford and be sure to give it a go when you are in the area!

Ocean Bells Coffee Company
133 High Street
WD17 2ER

Saturday 24 August 2013

Sticky Chilli and Mirin Chicken Wings

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Sticky, spicy, sweet, salty and juicy chicken wings....if that doesn't get your taste buds moving, I don't know what will! We only recently discovered this absolutely finger licking good recipe from Sabrina Ghayour and it immediately became one of our fave recipes as we simply couldn't get enough of it!
Ingredients (Recipe from Sabrina Ghayour)
800g-1kg of free range chicken wings
150l of dark soy sauce
75ml of Mirin
4 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce
4 heaped tablespoons on caster sugar
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
2 red chillies
4 inches of peeled ginger
3 cloves of peeled garlic

1) Preheat oven to 150 deg C.
2) Using a hand blender, pour all the ingredients (aside from your chicken wings) into the container that comes with your hand blender and blitz together all your ingredients until your reach a smooth liquid. Place your chicken wings into a large bowl and pour over the marinade and leave it for at least 2 hours.
3) Place the chicken wings in a baking tray.
4) Using a pastry brush, give the wings one last coating of sauce before placing them in the oven to cook for 25 minutes before giving it another brush of the marinade. 
5) Repeat this process another 3 times, marinating every 25 minutes and then allow them to cook for a final 25 mins (total cooking time of 1 hours and 40 mins) before serving. 

Sunday 21 July 2013

Aloo Gobi - Dry Cauliflower and Potato Curry

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Sorry for being a little quiet recently. I've been feeling really tired as my long term-ish medication due to this is being a mighty pain! All I wanna do it just to lie on the sofa and do practically nothing which I feel is a waste of time but I've got not much choice at the moment.
Alright, ranting over......

I don't usually like eating cauliflower however, i simply love this dish! Maybe the spices make a difference? My hubby made this dish and I kinda had a hand in it too since I searched for the recipe, peeled the potatoes (he hates peeling them!) and showed him where some of the spices were so it was a joint effort right. ;)
Ingredients (Adapted slightly from Mamta's Kitchen)
Approximately 500 grams of vegetables in total, as follows:
1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 large or a couple of medium potato, peeled and cut into bite size pieces 
• Handfull of frozen green peas
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chilli, chopped into thin slices
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/4 tsp. chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
A squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala powder
1 tablespoon coriander leaves, cleaned and chopped

1. Heat the oil in a wok.
2. Add the cumin seeds and wait until seeds splutter. Be careful not to let them burn.
3. Add ginger, garlic and red chillies. Stir-fry for 10 seconds or so, until lightly browned.
4. Add the cauliflower and potatoes and sprinkle the turmeric, coriander, chilli powder and salt on top.
5. Stir-fry well for 30 seconds or so and then lower the heat to almost minimum.
6. Cover, add peas after 10 mins and cook until the potatoes are cooked through, stirring from time to time. If the vegetables are fresh, no extra water needs to be added. Otherwise, sprinkle some water when it looks too dry, just enough to stop it from catching.
7. Sprinkle lemon juice, garam masala and two-third of the coriander leaves on top, stir and mix gently.
8. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining chopped coriander leaves before serving.

Sunday 9 June 2013

Grilled Sweet Miso Aubergine

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It should come as no surprise that I really love eating aubergine, in all kinds of ways judging from the various aubergine recipes I've posted such as Marinated auberginesPanko crusted aubergine and Pasta Alla Norma. I really like its texture and it ability to take on flavours perfectly. Another one of my absolute favourite is the Grilled Sweet Miso aubergine. Initially, I thought that I could just buy sweet miso, plonk it on the sliced aubergine and throw it in the oven but no, it's easy but not that easy! This dish makes a great appetiser or a side dish. We had it with some grilled shio koji salmon recently and that went down really well!
1 Aubergine (sliced into rings of about 1 cm thickness)
1 Spring Onion (sliced)
1 tbsp Sweet Miso Paste
2 tbsp Mirin
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
Black Sesame Seeds
Light Olive Oil

1) Preheat oven to 200 deg C.
2) Place sliced aubergine on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush with olive oil.
3) Roast it for about 25 - 25 mins or until it's cooked.
4) In the meantime, mix the sweet miso paste, mirin and brown sugar until you get a smooth paste. Add a little water if it's too thick. (Please also note that measurements are only a guide as store bought miso has different degrees of saltiness so it's best to taste and adjust accordingly)
5) When aubergines are done, take it out of the oven, top each slice with some of the paste and spread it around evenly. 
6) Sprinkle some black sesame seeds on each slice and place it under the grill for 2-3 mins until the paste bubbles.
7) Once done, garnish with sliced spring onions and serve. 

Saturday 18 May 2013

Restaurant Bror, Copenhagen

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I really like restaurants whereby chefs take the time to come out to the dining room to serve, meet and chat with their customers. It somehow brings out a personal feel to eating out and of course I'm someone who gets excited when I meet chefs so I will always look forward to the experience! Opened by Noma's Alumni Sam Nutter and Victor Wagman in April this year, Restaurant Bror was just that! 
With owners and head chefs, Victor and Sam
Having started the restaurant with only their own investments, they have decided to first serve simple and good food made from the best seasonal produce of the region. Portions were really generous so yes, you won't definitely won't go away hungry! The dining area was simply decorated, casual, bright and comfortable.

Having perused the menu, we decided to go for the tasting menu (355ddk = approx £40) which consisted of 4 courses chosen by the kitchen). We somehow thought that the portions couldn't be too big so we also ordered the catfish cheek, considered a snack in the menu, again thinking it'll be small pieces of fish but boy, were we wrong! We were very surprised when the whole catfish head was served and it was huge! Sam brought us individual plates so that we could get stuck in and I think we did a pretty good job of eating practically everything except the bones! Fresh, succulent, meaty packed with collagen and swimming in its own delicious juices from when it was cooked, the meal started off very well indeed. We noticed that the table behind us only ate the fried pieces of cheek on the top and left behind all the good stuff! I certainly hope that the kitchen didn't think that we were too greedy! 

The tasting menu then started off with Pike, Cucumber in a light pine broth. It was light and refreshing, perfect after the slightly heavy snack we had before. The pine broth was really interesting with a mild bitter after-taste. 

This was followed by a big slice of flavourful pork terrine with radish salad made with the perfect combination of meat and fats. The waitress did say that there was black garlic in it but we couldn't taste or see it.
  Next up, we had a short rib of beef, ramson and cauliflower for the main course.
The very tender piece of beef, coated in a chicken gravy glaze went well with the broken down cauliflower. The ramson or wild garlic sauce added a touch a spring to the dish!
By now, we were so stuffed so I was glad that light desserts were served. First up was a buttermilk ice cream with blackberry sorbet and walnut milk. The balance of flavours were great in this dish as tartness of the sorbet was mellowed out by the walnut milk and ice cream. 
Their ability to balance flavours was again proven in the rhubarb and milk dessert.
It was on the whole a good meal, made more enjoyable with friendly yet non intrusive service and we got to speak to Sam quite a bit. It was an office day for Victor but we managed to get it out for a quick photo. That truly made my day!

Monday 25 March 2013

Honey Granola

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If only I knew it was so easy to make healthy, not so sweet granola at home, I would have started to make it long ago instead of getting the sugar laden commercial available ones. It's all thanks to Giulia of Mondomulia for pointing this out in her recent post. I will definitely be making this over and over again, throwing in whatever nuts or dried fruits I feel like eating at the moment......The possibilities are endless!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ingredients (Adapted from Mondomulia)
2 cups jumbo oats
1 cup pecans, chopped roughly
20g dried coconut flakes
50g dessicated coconut
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup honey
100g mixed dried berries(I used Urban Fruits Superberry)

1) Pre-heat oven to 150 °C.
2) Chop the pecans roughly and mix them with oats, dessicated coconut and coconut flakes. Add the cinnamon powder.
3) Add the wet ingredients, olive oil and honey, to the oat mixture. Stir until evenly coated, adding more honey if required.
4) Spread the granola out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, stirring half way through, until golden.
5) Remove from the oven and let cool completely, until the granola has set. Stir in the dried berries.
6) Store in airtight containers.

Friday 22 March 2013

Marinated Aubergine Inspired by Honey & Co

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We've been on a middle eastern kinda kick recently, having first watched Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast. After catching it on TV, I immediately made a reservation at the highly recommended Honey & Co. Opened by the husband and wife team of Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer who have both been chefs in one of Ottelenghi's restaurant in London, they aim to bring childhood memories of home cooked food to the masses.This is what they've done with fresh, clean, well balanced, simple dishes that burst with flavours! The cakes are magnificent too! Even though we've only tried the very moist and moreish chestnut cake, i've heard rave reviews of some of the other items especially the Chocolate Krantz Cake.(search for it and I'm sure you'll be happy just looking at it!) We will definitely be going back soon to check out the rest of the menu.
Very Appetising Marinated aubergine that gets the tastebuds moving
Melt in the mouth Ox cheek sofrito with quince and bay leaves
Tender Pomegranate molasses chicken, served with a texture and flavour amazing cracked wheat salad with pistachios and barberries
Warm, moreish and moist Chestnut cake, salted caramel sauce, vanilla cream

My Lovely hubby then surprised me with Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi latest cookbook, Jerusalem but not before I tried making the marinated aubergines. Once I get some basic middle eastern ingredients such as Pomegranate molasses, barberries, sumac and zatar, I'll be so 'getting my hands dirty' cooking from this book!

Ingredients (From Delicious Days)
3 medium sized aubergine
olive oil for brushing
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

5 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp lemon juice
1 small red chili
3-4 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1-2 garlic cloves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 200°C (~390° Fahrenheit) and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Trim both ends of the aubergine, then cut each in two equal sized halves width-ways. Now cut each piece into six to eight wedges, depending on the aubergine's  initial size. Key is to obtain (almost) equally sized wedges.

2) Generously brush the wedges with olive oil, place on the tray (skin side down) and season with sea salt and black pepper. Bake in the oven (middle level) for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tips have turned brown and the wedges feel soft to the touch.

3) Meanwhile prepare the marinade: In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, chopped red chili, chopped coriander, chopped garlic, sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.

4) As soon as the aubergines are done, dump them into the bowl of marinade while still hot and carefully stir (the wedges should not be mashed!) until everything is well covered. Serve after an hour at room temperature, or keep in the fridge (in a container) for some days. Enjoy with bread.

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