Review: Slate, Mountsorrel

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It's been rainy all day and I've been far too busy at work. But, light was at the end of the tunnel - a Tuesday night treat with dinner booked at Slate restaurant in Mountsorrel.

From the outside, the restaurant looks good, trendy wallpaper and candles can be spied through the windows and there always seem to be people in. After months of walking past, we finally decided to give it a go. In fact, its one of the few restaurants in the local villages we've not eaten at.


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Cold Weather Chicken Casserole

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When the weather looks like this: snowy street scene

All I think any of us really want is the sofa, PJs and comfort grub like this:

chicken and potato one pot

This is a great 'chuck it in and leave it alone' stew which for me seems incredibly old fashioned - I imagine families sat eating this in homefront britain, black out blinds up and gas lamp burning! The sauce is quite thin with this recipe so don't expect a thick slurpy broth. This is a mop it up with some crusty bread situation.

Ingredients, serves 4
  • 1kg floury potatoes thinly sliced
  • 4 large chicken pieces on the bone
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 medium sized suede diced
  • 600ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
Method: 
  • Preheat oven to 150C/ gas mark 2
  • Layer half the potato and half the onion slices in the bottom of a casserole dish and season with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of fresh thyme (dried is fine if you have none),
  • Brown the chicken pieces in a frying pan for around 10 mins. You will need a fairly high heat for this and careful - the fat will spit!
  • Put chicken into the casserole and throw in the carrot and suede and remaining onion. Add the stock and season again.
  • Top with the remaining potato slices and pour over any chicken fat/juices from the browning - yes, additional fat but browns the potatoes and makes them taste extra lovely.
  • Top with foil and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours until the meat is tender and veg all cooked through.
  • Take foil off and grill for last 10 mins so that the potatoes are golden brown.
frying onions and potatoes

Browning chicken drumsticks in a frying pan




Enjoy!

Gingey Bites Winter Chicken Casserole

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Mountsorrel Spice Cube - takeaway heaven

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How terrible is this weather! It seems to me that the snow stops being fun as soon as you start working full time. Pulling the curtains open to that snowy white scene on a week day fills me with dread these days. I work around 25 miles away from home with a choice of two routes - countryside or city centre! On Friday it took me 4 1\2 hours to travel home, usually it would take 50 mins. Leicester just cannot cope, everyone goes into meltdown! By the time I got home I wanted nothing more than the sofa, my PJ's, wine and a takeaway.

Mountsorrel Spice cube restaurant menu

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Midweek Supper: Prawn Egg Fried Rice

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A nice recipe inspired by a Cantonese Fried Rice dish in Gordon Ramsay's World Kitchen but with a few Gingey twists along the way!

Ingredients, serves 2
  • 100g cooked prawns
  • 2 free range eggs - we love Burford browns!
  • 1 onion sliced
  • Handful frozen peas
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1/2 chilli finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 150g cooked white rice
  • Soy sauce, salt & pepper to season
Method:
  • Heat a dash of vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan and frythe onion, garlic, chilli, carrot and green beans for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the prawns and handful frozen peas and fry for a further 2-3 mins then move the mixture to the side and add a dash of sesame oil.
  • Add two eggs and scramble them in pan. Allow to set and then stir in with the rest of the vegetables.
  • Add the cooked rice, soy sauce and season. 



So quick and easy - next time you have the urge to call the Chinese takeaway, put the phone down. This is egg fried rice at a fraction of the cost and time! 

Gingey Bites Egg fried rice with prawns
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Cheap and Easy Beef Curry

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This is really cheap and easy to make. Its a good end of the month meal as the ingredients aren't too expensive, so why not add it to your meal plan for the week before pay day? Its a bit different from usual - where you'd expect a curry to contain chunks of meat, it contains minced meat instead.

 

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Review: Nigellissima, Instant Italian Inspiration

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My lovely sister bought me Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration for Christmas - my first Nigella cookbook, and most pleased I was too. I enjoy watching her on TV, her passion for food flows through her words and I know some people find her irritating but I just love watching her programmes.


The recipes are broken up throughout the book by gorgeous full page photographs. Even though a lot of Nigella's recipes are very easy and simple, the photos make them look soooo appetizing!

The idea is to make Italian cooking simple and she certainly does this. Most of the recipes are very simple to make, even if the ingredients list is long. Chapters cover Pasta, Flesh, Fish & Fowl, Vegetables & Sides, Sweet things and An Italian Inspired Christmas. Unfortunately I was too late to use the final chapter this year but I'll certainly be trying some of the recipes out next year.

Turkey breast stuffed with Italian sausage & marsala steeped cranberries, Struffoli (sweet little dough balls) and Papardelle with chestnuts and pancetta all sound delicious and a far cry from the drab dried out turkey and roasties we're so used to.

So far I've only tried one recipe from the book - shortcut sausage meatballs - and for me, it turned out to be more of a shortcut than Nigella said as I used some mini sausages left over from Christmas. They are the perfect size for the meatballs. You can see the recipe on the BBC Good Food website here.

I substituted the garlic oil for chilli oil and the finished result was rich, warming and very filling. Great for a weeknight supper.

Next on agenda are:
  • Chicken under a brick
  • Cod with broccoli and chilli
  • Pork Belly Slices with chilli and fennel seeds.
I will of course report back!
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Mums Favourite - Chilli Pineapple

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This is a really quick blog post to just share the easiest pudding in the world. Its not everyones cuppa but my mum literally adores this and requests it all the time! I guess its Caribbean in origin but I saw it online a couple of years ago and its so simple!

All you need is a pineapple, a red chilli, sugar and water!

Put equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan and gradually bring to the boil, stirring to melt the sugar. Let is boil for around 6 mins until the syrup forms and starts to thicken. At this point, add the finely chopped chilli (no seeds!). It might be worth checking the heat pre-cooking as dependant on the chilli's strength, you can put more or less in. Cook for a further 1 - 2 mins then pour over slices of pineapple.

This would probably work with mango too, and a scoop of ice cream or sorbet. Try it, its surprisingly refreshing!

Sorry for the poor quality photo!

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Griddled lamb chops with creamed spinach

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This weekend was the first in a long time that we had to just 'chill'. Aside from being at a friends for dinner on Friday night, the weekend was ours.

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Olive Magazine Challenge! Bagels

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One of my new years resolutions was to improve my cooking skills and try new things in the kitchen. With this in mind, whilst flicking through the latest issue of Olive magazine, I hit upon their new 'challenge' feature. BINGO! I've always been a big Olive fan and to date, my most successful blog post continues to be my 7 meals for £35 feature.

So, here we are typing in front of a cooling rack full of bagels. That's right - I made bagels! I'm fairly sure they won't win any awards and you'd certainly think twice before putting them in your shopping trolley but at least I tried and.. they actually taste pretty good!

home made bagels from the Olive magazine challenge
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Review: Mary Berry's Baking Bible

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2012 was well and truly the year of Mary Berry - and I'm quite confident that her popularity will continue on and on! I for one am a huge fan, I was swept away with the GBBO wave long ago and have no desire to get off! Until very recently, my cooking repertoire focused pretty much solely on savoury cooking and one of my new years resolutions is to bake more. So, leading us nicely into this post - lets talk about Mary Berry's Baking Bible.


This is a big old book with over 250 recipes to choose from, catergorised by the following sections:

  • Classic Cakes 
  • Fruit and Nut Cakes 
  • Spiced Cakes 
  • Chocolate Cakes
  • Celebration Cakes 
  • Special Cakes 
  • Traybakes and Flapjacks 
  • Biscuits and Cookies 
  • Fancy Biscuits
  • Shortbreads and Bars
  • Baking for Children
  • Tarts and Pastries 
  • Breads
  • Fruit Breads
  • Buns and Scones
  • Hot Puddings and Pies
  • Souffles and Meringues
  • Cheesecakes
  • Cake Decorations 
As you can see, the list is pretty extensive. To be honest, I'm sure that some of these catergories could be merged but I felt it was worth including the list to show just how extensive this book is - 'bible' is most definitely the right word.

Most of the recipes are traditional and they are written clearly and concisely, making them easy to follow even when there is no picture. The photography is simple and elegant and every picture makes your mouth water! At the start of the book, there is a conversion table and full chapter covering the basics - everything from what equipment you need to terminology. Very useful for a new baker like myself!

Recipes I've tested so far:

Chocolate Victoria Sandwich - 'Classic Cakes' p43.
Probably the nicest cake I've ever made. The sponges were springy and light and the butter cream was just right, I thought there wouldn't be enough but as its very sweet, you really wouldn't want much more.
 
mary berry chocolate sponge cake
 
Classic Rich Christmas Cake - 'Celebration Cakes' p135.
By far the biggest challenge for me to date - over a period of three weeks I made this cake (at the request of my mother!). The result was moist and really tasty. I don't really eat Christmas Cake but this one was really pleasant. Granted, I need to work harder on my holly leaves next year!   


gingeybites mary berry christmas cake

Melting Moments -  'Biscuits & Cookies' p196.
I entered this into the wonderful Belleau Kitchen random recipe challenge in November - see my full post here.


Overall, I really rate this book. Its got enough variety to satisfy the seasoned baker but its introductory chapters and easy to follow recipes will give confidence to even novice bakers (like myself). Keep up the good work Mary!
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