Salmon and leek filo pie

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Saturday afternoon, feeling lazy so there's not much going on.  Dave's flopped in front of the TV watching a combination of golf/tennis. YAWN. Time to do some cooking!!

Time for a quick Salmon and Leek filo pie. The recipe is pinched from my library of old Olive magazines, this one is from Aug 2010. The recipe is so quick and easy to make and really tasty. Plus, for not much effort, I think this looks pretty impressive on the plate.


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Travel Bites: Green Beans & Nachos in Newport Beach, USA

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I started this post last night in bed after getting back from Heathrow - having been awake for 30-odd hours aside from the odd snooze here and there. Fortunately I went to sleep and decided to finish it today - which is what I'm doing now at a much more sensible time.

From Sunday - Wednesday I was staying in Newport Beach (just south of LA) for a work project. Optimistically I packed my swimming costume knowing that there were 2 nice pools at the hotel. Of course, as is always the case with these work trips, my costume never saw the light of day as I spent the whole time either working, eating or sleeping! I won't bore you with the work details but I will share with you my food and drink based experiences. I seemed to eat green beans with every meal and a lot of nachos were consumed too.. Fortunately, there was more than green beans and nachos on the menu!

Our hotel was just across the road from a big shopping mall so on the first night we wandered across feeling a little sleepy and looking for a quick bite. We ended up at  the Cheesecake Factory, a huge country wide chain of restaurants offering standard over-sized portions of deep fried American style goodness.

I had the Memphis Burger which was on their 'Glamburger' menu. It was a glorious mess of beef burger, slow cooked pulled pork, bbq sauce, melted cheese pickles and coleslaw. Served with fries, it was just what I needed after an 11 hr flight plus 3 hr delay (all in cattle class of course!). 

Memphis Burger
More interesting than my "relatively" normal portion of burger and chips was my colleagues nachos - chosen from the appetizer menu (ie A STARTER!). The portion looked more like a Man V Food challenge than an appetizer and I was literally dumbfounded by the sheer madness of it all!

Take a look at his before and after - spot the difference!

Before....
After!






The following night we went back to the mall and ate at a really nice place called Great Maple and sat outside in their lovely patio area facing a big fountain complete with heaters (not that we needed them) . The place had a very cool vibe and open kitchens which I always take to be a good sign - after all where do you hide the microwaves? I had their St Germain Nicoise salad - made up of mixed greens, potatoes, green beans, egg, black kalamata olives and seared ahi (similar to tuna) with a gorgeous mustard vinaigrette. Very tasty and reasonably priced too..


Now for the exciting part of my trip. On the last night, the company we were visiting took us out for dinner to the beautiful and very fashionable Laguna Beach. We sat drinking cocktails facing out to sea and enjoying the sunset before having dinner at Las Brisas a Mexican fish restaurant.

 To start with, the table (12 of us) was filled with plates of guacamole, salsa and nachos. Alongside this, bowls of sea bass ceviche appeared. The Ceviche was so gorgeous I had to ask the waiter how it was made so that I can try and recreate at home!

Sorry for the awful quality photos (it was dark in there!)  but here is a snapshot of what we ate!


Ceviche de Robalo 
Wild seabass marinated in tangy lime-orange juice with mango, tomatoes, chiles, onions and coriander  


For my main I had Frutas del Mar which was absolutely delicious! Again, an awful quality photo for which I apologise! 

Frutas del Mar
Grilled Caribbean lobster and sauteed large sea scallops, Pacific prawns, crab and fresh fish with fresh tomato, Spanish saffron, garlic, white wine and olive oil sauce, white rice and vegetables.

Spot the green beans!

This blog is primarily about the East Midlands and yes, this one is about Newport Beach, California which is no where near the East Mids but I just wanted to share all the yummy food I've eaten..

Now for the bad news.. I've put on 3lbs so its salad and watercress soup from now on!! 

Over and Out! 
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Mix and match sausage & bean cassoulet

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I'm off to LA tomorrow for work and won't be home until Thursday afternoon so I thought I'd make something new as a 'last supper' tea for Dave. He'll be living on a mix of pizza and chips and tuna cobs until I return so I felt it was only right to give him something homemade and vaguely nourishing before I left.

We nipped into our local Budgen's supermarket in Mountsorrel earlier and bought some lovely Farmer Fear's pork sausages which were on offer so I decided to make a cassoulet. With this in mind I started browsing my cook books and looking at various recipes online but couldn't 100% decide on which recipe to go with. There were various online which looked appealing, in particular by Gino D'Campo, Nigel Slater and Jamie Oliver. But, as I said, none felt quite right so I created my own amalgamation of several different variations on the theme.

 Farmer Fear meats comes from quality local farms meaning there is little impact on the environment and no carbon footprint. I am a BIG FAN..

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Review: Not so much passion as luke warm crush - Valentinos

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UPDATE: THIS PLACE HAS NOW SHUT DOWN 

My first restaurant review. Chosen restaurant was Valentino's on Nottingham Road in Loughborough.

Our table was booked for 8pm and we arrived to see just 1 other person there and he left shortly after we arrived. The restaurant itself is quite small with about 20 seats in total but beautifully decorated to a high standard. Music was playing which also helped create an ambiance despite us being the only table in (for most of the night).

Valentino's is an Italian/Mediterranean restaurant with heavy Greek influences.

Before you sit there judging, I will openly admit that we had 3 starters between 2 of us. As my first review I wanted to make sure we get a good overview! So, garlic doughballs, meat balls in tomato sauce and grilled halloumi arrived quickly to the table. All homemade and very reasonably priced at between £3.50 - £4.00.

Grilled Halloumi - photographed on the sly!
For my main I had Chicken Souvlaki which was grilled chicken kebabs served with greek salad, home made chips and a twist on tzaziki. Dave had their 'Roman meat feast' which consisted of the Chicken Souvlaki, Marinated Lamb Cutlets and a Lamb kebab, also served with chips and a side salad. The lamb kebab was a little on the chewy side but the cutlets and chicken were beautifully marinaded and very tasty (obviously I helped myself to some of Daves!).

Chicken Souvlaki
Roman Meat Feast.

The Lamb Cutlets were the nights winners..

For pudding Dave had a vanilla cheesecake, again homemade and very tasty -  it was also a massive portion which suited Mr fatty fine (only joking gorgeous!)....

As previously indicated, the restaurant was very quiet tonight but the service was quite slow. There was a wait to pay whilst they sorted the other table out but the bill was very reasonable at just over £42 for 3 starters, 2 beers, a bottle of house wine, 2 mains and 1 pudding. We used a Gourmet Society card which gave us a 25% discount so the bill should have been around £56.

The one thing that let the whole evening down was the Glacier Fox mints left on the bill plate. I popped mine straight into my mouth and then watched Dave in slow motion open his wrapper to reveal 2 ants stuck to the mint. 2 hours later, I'm still wondering if I ate one.. .or two... well I guess its all protein!

Overall here are my scores:

VALUE FOR MONEY - 6/10 
QUALITY - 6/10 
ATMOSPHERE - 5/10 

Would we return? Probably not, although I feel quite sad about that. I wanted it to be great - this is a small local business which has the potential to be amazing but small attention to detail points let it down. 

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Steak & Mushroom Pie (rude garnish optional)

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Recently made redundant and with a love of cooking, eating and drinking here I am typing from a medium sized Leicester-shire village in a small flat somewhere near you (in the grand scheme of things). Welcome to my chatter about all things food related.

Last night my brother and step brother came round for dinner. At their request I made a pie. Not any old pie, a Hairy Bikers steak and mushroom double crust pie. In my mind, every pie should have a pastry garnish and on this occasion I felt the need for something comedic. So, pastry penis it was. Granted, I went over the top with my egg wash but I'm sure you'll agree it looked pretty tasty!

Steak and Mushroom pie

Pages from the Hairy Bikers cookbook

I understand that the Hairy Bikers aren't necessarily considered the height of culinary excellence but I tell you now, their 'Perfect Pies' book is a revelation in my house. I've made dozens of pies from it and find the recipes simple and easy to follow. Well recommended! 

On Saturday night we're out for dinner at the Pillings Lock Marina near Quorn, Leicestershire. They have a new chef who was excellent at her last place so high expectations! I will report back.. 

I think I've written enough for my first post. 

OVER AND OUT!
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