Category: Food and Drink

The Weekly Report

The Weekly Report

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Watching I’ve replaced my Masterchef consumption with Great British Menu. Arrested Development – it never gets old.

Listening to Frank Turner, Metronomy, Little Roy, The Strokes, Black Keys, Black Ghosts, Woman’s Hour.

Reading How to Deliver a TED Talk, lots of interesting stuff about careers here, and plenty of poetry.

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Writing Summer drinks recommendations and pizza party posts, plus pages and pages in my journal and my little poetry notebook. It’s good to get inspired.

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Eating Delicious Ottolenghi aubergines and a post-work ice cream treat. I went to Manchester on Saturday and had lunch at Home Sweet Home. On Jess’ recommendation I tried their cheeseburger toastie. Despite expecting this to be a bit of an overly decadent heavy lunch, it was surprisingly light and absolutely delicious. The sweet potato fries were the perfect mix of fluffy, crisp and salty. We followed up with cakes – a peanut butter and chocolate cake for me with Reese’s pieces on top, a cloudy chocolate and buttercream for Jess. This one was made for Katy Perry’s dressing room! I loved Home Sweet Home – I’ll definitely visit again!

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I also had lots of fabulous food at the Farm Feast on Sunday – it’s all coming in the Food Report, of course.

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Talking about 

Making things genuinely homemade – I really believe in making things from scratch, and it’s so frustrating looking for recipes that use loads of pre-made ingredients. Growing things (I’ve been planting all sorts of things in my little window garden), awful games of would you rather, the price of makeup, how to make cheese, how hell is probably a never-ending iMessage typing bubble, inappropriate dreams, making the jump from 10k to half marathon, how much my style fits Manchester better than Liverpool and blogging – my friends Grace and Kat both started new blogs this week and I’m so excited to read their posts!

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The Drinks Report: Summer days

The Drinks Report: Summer days

Just like this week’s Food Report, I’ve decided to share a few of the things that I’ve been drinking this week.

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Once summer sets in, it’s never too long before I start to crave iced coffee. I’ve been making them at home, drinking them at work and unexpectedly picking them up in the supermarket. I grabbed a Jimmy’s iced coffee completely on a whim one day, but I really enjoyed it. The coffee is good, and the skinny version is still really creamy, so I imagine the original would be even nicer. There is a little sugar added, but it’s well balanced. I swear I spend half my time blogging about how I hate overly sweet drinks, but it’s true! Jimmy’s version probably isn’t going to top a freshly made iced coffee, but it’s a pretty close second, and they get extra points for OutKast references.

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Last week we popped to Lucha Libre for a midweek dinner and a little frozen margharita. If you haven’t been before then definitely get one of these! They’re delicious and come in a whole host of flavours but I can particularly recommend the peach or the tamarind (this is a bit of an acquired taste though!).

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We also popped along to Kaz Gardens, which has reopened for summer, and indulged in a Pimms Cup. It’s probably the biggest Pimms you’ll ever drink, and it doesn’t even set you back a fortune! I’m looking forward to heading back for food soon.

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On Friday we went for the traditional post-work beverage ahead of Light Night and I sampled our newest offering, Ginger Joe. I love ginger beer in all its alcoholic and sober forms, and this was no different – good flavour and great over ice after a week at work!

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To accompany our pizzas on Saturday, I made up a quick batch of sangria. I was absolutely sure I had a picnic jug, but clearly I was mistaken, so I improvised with a teapot. Sangria is the perfect drink for summer days, it brings me many happy memories of interrailing, and it can be made with the most awful of red wines if you have some that need drinking!

What are your favourite drinks for this season?

P.S. You can now follow me on Instagram for more pictures of what I’m up to @millie_epona!

The Food Report: Pizza party and Food Slam

The Food Report: Pizza party and Food Slam

Normally my Food Reports are on a theme, but I ate so much good food last week that I just wanted to share it all!

First up, we went to Food Slam on Friday at Camp and Furnace. It was Light Night and we started with a Bollywood workshop and some singing before heading to the Baltic Triangle to take in the street food delights of what is fast becoming one of the city’s busiest Friday nights. We arrived quite late and so there was a slight shortage at the stalls, which was a shame considering Light Night is always a packed one. This worked out well for us in the end though, as we had lots of little morsels!

We tried Camp and Furnace’s own chips, which were completely divine. I’m not normally overly bothered by chips, but these looked too good to pass up. I didn’t look closely enough at the fryers, but I’m pretty sure these must have been double- or even triple-fried. They were well-spiced, melt-in-the-mouth and topped with an excellent lemon mayo and a dab of tartare too. I haven’t had the chips at Camp and Furnace before, so I’m not sure if this is their usual offering, but if it is I’ll definitely be going back for more!

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There were also wood-fired pizzas, chorizo burgers and crepes on offer, but I opted for the tacos from Margo and Rita. These were hot, sweet, crunchy with shredded cabbage and zingy with a hastily squeezed lime chucked on top. Delish! I can’t wait to head back for another Food Slam soon.

On Saturday, we continued the tradition of chilled evenings at my house with food and friends. I made up a quick batch of homemade dough, which rose extra quickly in the lovely blazing sunshine, and a proper, rich tomato sauce. Everyone brought toppings along and constructed their own little pizzas to enjoy. This is one of my favourite food options for an ad-hoc evening and it really couldn’t be easier! Ask everyone to bring a bottle too and you’ve got the makings of a party!

I used the simplest of dough recipes. I would say don’t be afraid of messing about with dough – as long as you have flour, yeast, some kind of fat, water and plenty of seasoning you really can’t go too wrong. You can also get a great workout from all that kneading – I find it so therapeutic!

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I also made Jamie’s tomato sauce – it’s quick, easy and delicious. Pop a lid or splatter cover on it whilst it’s boiling down, or your kitchen will quickly look like a crime scene! When sieving, keep all the leftover basil, tomato and garlic back in a little tupperware for later.

I started with a quick garlic bread – this is a good tester for the dough to make sure the oven is hot enough, it makes the house smell fantastic as your guests are arriving and means they have a snack whilst they grab a drink and start to construct their pizzas. Beat some butter with a mashed up clove of garlic and some chopped parsley, smear this on and bake until golden. Flavoured butters are so fantastic, and you could try this with any combination of herbs or spices (I’m dreaming of a lovely harissa butter myself).

To get a good crispy pizza, you may want to use a pizza stone. If you don’t have one, get your oven nice and hot with some baking trays inside (I had my oven on 250ºC with 2 baking trays ready for everyone’s constructions). Slide the constructed pizzas onto the trays and bake for around 10 minutes, or until everything looks nice and crisp and any cheese is melted – everyone likes their pizza differently so let people see how they would like it. The trays help the pizzas to cook from below so there are no soggy bottoms in sight!

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I went for a very simple mozzarella and basil for my pizza, but the others had all sorts of toppings including chorizo, goats’ cheese, olives,smoked cheese, chilli flakes, sweetcorn and tuna.

And what about all those sauce leftovers? You can lengthen them out the next day with some water, wine or leftover passata (I used a little of all three) and make a fabulous pasta sauce. Chuck in a few torn bits of leftover cheese and some more fresh herbs for a quick Sunday lunch. I did this whilst I planned my meals for the week and it was a lovely weekend treat. I like to put some mozzarella in towards the beginning, to let it melt, and then a little more as I serve it for the more firm, milky bits. All about the textures. The next day I mixed some of the tomatoes into couscous as a base for dinner too!

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Have you been to Food Slam or something like it? What’s your favourite pizza topping?

 

The Drinks Report: Taylors Sweet Rhubarb Tea

The Drinks Report: Taylors Sweet Rhubarb Tea

Whilst I was at home last week I benefited from our endless supply of wonderful teas. I drank lots of old favourites, of course, but I did try some new ones including Taylors Sweet Rhubarb Tea. Having seen the gorgeous advert (I loved the Flower Fairies as a child!) and with the flavour highly recommended by my mother, I was intrigued to try it. I had been a little put off by the ‘sweet’ in the title, as I can’t really bear sweet tea, but I think this is just to encourage people that it’s not going to have the sour-faced-wincing effect that unsweetened rhubarb can have.

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The ingredients include sweet blackberry leaves, which I suspect give the bags themselves the fantastic leafy fruity smell, hibiscus and rose hips for the pink colour, and real rhubarb. Given the number of supposedly-natural teas made with only flavourings, this was quite refreshing. All together, it makes for a tangy, flavoursome tea that is still tart and light despite its dalliance with the saccharine. I think it would be perfect with a custardy pudding or a rich, creamy cake – the tartness would cut through all that cream, but rhubarb is still a sophisticated enough flavour for a tea party or an after-dinner drink.

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The Sweet Rhubarb tea is part of a collaboration between Taylor’s and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and the whole range seems to have been lovingly created. The tea bag itself was nice and strong, and you could see all the lovely bits of fruit and herbs inside (no floor sweepings here). The packaging is great and the other teas look fantastic – I’m particularly keen to try the Blackberry & Elderflower, Spiced Apple and the Peppermint (I always want to try new mint teas).

Have you tried Taylors Sweet Rhubarb tea? What’s your favourite fruity tea?

The Food Report: Moose Coffee

The Food Report: Moose Coffee

On Sunday morning, after two nights of partying, it was definitely time for brunch.

Moose Coffee Menu Liverpool

We decided to head along to Moose Coffee on Dale Street, considering we’d never been before. Despite having read some mixed reviews, it is always very busy so we decided there must be a reason for that. We did have to wait a little while for a table, although this was partly our fault for turning up at 11.30am, but the service throughout was excellent once we were seated.

New Jersey Moose Eggs Benedict at Moose Coffee Liverpool

We both had New Jersey Moose a which I would highly recommend – excellent potato hash, softly poached eggs and a zesty hollandaise that I could have done with another spoon of, all on top of a bagel. It’s double carb so not the healthiest way to start a morning, but as a treat it’s excellent.

Cinnamon Apple and Salted Caramel Pancakes at Moose Coffee LiverpoolCinnamon Apple and Salted Caramel Pancakes at Moose Coffee Liverpool

We followed this up with some Cinnamon Apple and Salted Caramel Pancakes. To be honest this was excessive and we were quickly defeated by the mountain of food! I think I prefer a thinner pancake, but if thick American pancakes are your thing then I would say these would fit the bill well. The salted caramel was good (there could have been double the amount) although the apples were a little undercooked despite being fresh and tasty. I probably wouldn’t order these again but I would definitely go back for the poached eggs – I especially appreciate that you can combine Benedict and Florentine in one meal. The prices were a little higher than your average Liverpool brunch, but nothing extortionate. All in all, I would visit again – maybe slightly earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon – I want to try their burger with cheese and bacon sandwiched in a doughnut. It just sounds so grossly delicious.

Have you been to Moose Coffee? Where is your favourite place for brunch?

The Food Report: Picnicking

The Food Report: Picnicking

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In a departure from our usual evening Nom Nom Clubs, this month we decided to go with a picnic. This was a slightly different style, with less of the communal cooking and chaos (although Olivia and I still got together for some of your preparations). Instead, we all arrived with our offerings, popped out some fantastic picnic blankets courtesy of Kat.

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We ate: a taleggio and roasted vegetable galette, homemade scotch eggs, sumac griddled halloumi, cheese straws, orzo salad with prawns, asparagus and feta, caramelised red onion quiche, mustardy potato salad, pesto chicken wraps, blueberry muffins, strawberries and blueberries.

We drank: Joe’s homemade ginger beer and Olivia’s homemade lemonade. They were both great! Olivia has promised to share the recipe so head over to her blog for that soon.

Everything was delicious, and whilst I love the kind of picnic that has party rings and salty snacks, it’s nearly always better to have a homemade feast.

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Of course no picnic is complete without games! We played some ridiculous bat and ball, threw some poi around and had a very civilised game of boules (I even won a couple of times!). We finished up with a marvellous Winstones ice cream. I went for the coffee one and it was creamy and perfect.

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We had a really lovely day and we were so lucky with the weather. I’ll share my quiche recipe with you soon, as I seem to talk about quiche all the time at the moment!

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What are your favourite picnic foods?

The Drinks Report: Fending off a Cold

The Drinks Report: Fending off a Cold

This week I am under the weather. In many cases, quite literally, as Liverpool has decided to see out April with some very seasonal showers. But figuratively speaking, I’ve been coming down with something for a couple of weeks and over the last two days it’s really started to make me feel groggy, achy and sad. I’m a firm believer in feeding a cold, so this evening I’m serving up sausages, mash and peas, with lots of proper gravy. Comfort food at it’s absolute finest.

What else do you do when you feel ill? Google it, of course. If you’re me you Google all the natural cold remedies, and decide to brew up a hot toddy with it all. What I’m going to list to you now sounds absolutely disgusting, but is actually delicious and is already soothing my throat and reviving my brain.

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I filled my biggest mug with water twice and popped this in a pan with a cinnamon stick, a lemon and ginger tea (it always makes me think of the Thick of It obsession with lemon zingers), and a chamomile and honey tea (Twinings ones). I forgot to pick up a fresh lemon but the tea just about made up for it. I chucked in a good pinch of cayenne pepper, cinnamon and turmeric, plus a little cider vinegar (I usually measure it in the cap, so I put a couple in for this). Then a tablespoon of honey (you could add more, or I have seen other drinks like this with fruit sugar) and a glug of port. You could leave the alcohol out, or add the one of your choice, although I would recommend one of your warming hot-toddy ones such as whiskey or brandy, rather than a vodka or, say, Malibu.

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The Food Report: Salty and Sweet

The Food Report: Salty and Sweet

I have a bit of a problem. I am a serious lover of salty and sweet things. It is with great delight that I have observed the world get on board with this trend. I want it all: chocolate covered crisps, salted caramel anything, peanut butter and golden syrup sandwiches (that’s definitely one of my childhood foods). But my favourite, and most accessible, salty sweet snack is popcorn. It’s something I’ve been doing for years, making the cinema mix sweet and salty together, putting my hand over the top to shake it all up and then licking the greasy salt and sugar off my hand in a disgusting fashion.

But a combination of the salted caramel obsession that started out as artisan but is now ubiquitous, along with the fact that popcorn has become the snack du jour, sold in bags like crisps and marketed to us as a guilt free treat, everyone’s at it.

In the interests of science and this blog, I decided to review a few. All for you, of course.

I had a few kind friends to help out pre-supper club (yes we ate snacks before the feast).


First up, Marks and Spencer’s offering. This is marketed as ‘guilt free snacking’ which should probably set alarm bells ringing in the first place. I really don’t care about the calorie content but this is actually the most calorific, if that’s something that interests you. This was also our least favourite of the popcorns. There wasn’t enough salt or sugar involved, so this was mostly bland popcorn in a less-than-well-filled bag.

The Metcalfe’s Topcorn came in second in our (mostly-unscientific) poll. This was mostly well seasoned, with a good balanced of salt and sugar, and a satisfying little crunch to their outer shell.

They were just pipped to a win by…

Propercorn had the full package, starting with a well-filled popcorn package! This one had the perfect mix of salty and sweet, with well-coated popcorn that had flavour and crunch on every piece. I’m pretty sure the trick is that Propercorn is made with brown sugar, so it’s a little sticky and luxurious (pretty impressive at only 129 calories). It’s completely delicious and available from Tesco; it’s rapidly becoming my favourite snacky treat. We highly recommend it!

Do you love sweet and salty popcorn? Next time I take on a popcorn trial I’m going to add Tyrrell’s and Joe & Seph’s to my list. They do a double salted caramel version. And smooth caramel, mirin, soya and sesame. I have some pretty strong feelings about this.

The Drinks Report: Twinings Green Tea

The Drinks Report: Twinings Green Tea

I’ve mentioned my love for green tea before. I’m on a quest for the perfect cup now. The perfect cup will probably come from a loose leaf, but for day-to-day I am currently enjoying the Twinings range.

Mint green tea is essentially a gateway tea. Everyone loves mint tea (you don’t? Keep drinking it, everyone likes it eventually), so this is a good way to get into green tea if you’re looking for the health benefits but aren’t sure about the flavour.

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Lemon is for zingy moments and extra good in the morning when you need a little refreshing wake-up (especially if you’re trying to replace a coffee habit!). The Peach and Cherry Blossom is luxurious and fragrant, almost like the Earl Grey of green teas. I also really like the Twinings packaging and their teas are often on offer in the shops (this is how I ended up with 3 flavours!).

When you’re brewing, don’t forget my tip to avoid burning the leaves!

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Sitting in the sunset with a cup of Peach and Cherry Blossom Green Tea whilst my new Lily-Flame candle, a gift from Mama, fills the flat with the wonderful springy scent of freshly cut grass is a rather wonderful way to unwind from the day.

Have you tried Twinings Green Tea? Which brands of green tea do you like?

P.S. If you enjoyed my post on the Farmers’ Market a little while ago, I would love it if you took a look at this petition to stop the council selling it off!

 

The Food Report: Triple pudding

The Food Report: Triple pudding

A Sunday night meal at my Nanny’s usually means at least two delicious puddings to choose from (or rather say “yes, please” to both). Special occasions, though, call for extra sweet treats, especially with so many of us round the table. For Easter Sunday I found myself faced with three puddings.

The first was hidden away in its own paper parcel.

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The second was a banoffee pie with the thickest buttery biscuit base I’ve ever seen and plenty of cream on top.

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The third was a pavlova with chocolate running through the meringue and mangoes with strawberry syrup all over the top. Both of these were stunning, although I’m sure everyone feels like that about their grandmother’s cooking.

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And what about that exciting parcel? It was a simnel cake, of course! Our whole family are absolutely obsessed with marzipan, so a marzipan-topped cake with a hidden almondy centre is pretty much our dream celebration. It’s a traditional Easter cake but we’ve been known to demand it for birthday cakes in the past, such is our love for it.

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We washed everything down with a glass of limoncello and some coffee. Luckily I cycled a late night 10k to cancel some of it out.

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What did you eat this Easter Sunday?