Sunday, February 28, 2010

Recipe: Red Onion, Goats cheese and Red pepper Tart


Hey guys. So this is a delicious recipe, that at first i thought of it really as a storecupboard use-up, but it works out as a very tasty combination of ingredients. Its also very quick and easy, a bit of a 'cheats' recipe, only taking 10 minutes to prepare and 20 minutes to cook.

This recipe was published in "Take a Break My Favourite Recipes" magazine- and won me £25!

Red Onion and goats cheese tart (serves 3-4)

A sheet (rectangle) of ready rolled puff pastry
4-5tbsp red onion chutney
100g roasted red peppers (the ones you get in jars), sliced
15g baby capers
100g soft goats cheese
15g pine nuts
Sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves
Black pepper
1 egg (for egg wash)

1. Heat oven to 200C. Place pastry onto a baking sheet. Score (with a knife) a little border around the edges, and prick the middle to prevent it from rising.

2. Spread the chutney evenly over the middle. Top with all the other ingredients, brush egg round the sides, and put in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with a nice green side salad, or new potatoes.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Mai Thai Restaurant, Bath


Hey guys. So i thought it might be nice to also have reviews on this blog as well, and since i heard that the city of Bath has the most restaurants per square mile than anywhere else in the U.K (except London) i'm already in the right place.

My reviews will be short and sweet, to stop myself ranting on too much about this that and the other, focussing on the food and service.

I start with Mai Thai, a very friendly small 40ish seater Thai restaurant, located conveniently near Bath train station. Me and five of my friends went for a birthday dinner, and were welcomed warmly, and taken to our seats. (The Photo I used here is from the website, and I would say is a good representation of what the food actually looks like)

In terms of the building, I like the decor- the delicately carved heavy wooden tables with glass tops, and the statues of Thai ladies and elephants, but the bathrooms I soon discovered were a bit dishevelled (and you find them down a weird thin corridor with cleaning equipment strewn about carelessly).

Our waiter was very friendly, and brought us our drinks (we had all ordered Singha beers and they complimented the Thai flavours very well) and prawn crackers swiftly. We all had a laugh about the various typos on the menus as well, like "Numerous spies are used to enhance the flavour and to improve that taste".... really Mr Bond?

The menu, which you can look in full on the website http://www.maithai.co.uk/menu.html has quite a lot of choice, and in particular has a large range of interesting seafood options, such as dishes with crab claws or mussels. The dishes are shown in Thai and in English.

For starters I chose the 'Satay Kai Chicken' (or Chicken satay to me and you). The dish was well presented, and I thought the chicken tasted O.K (nothing different), but what I liked about it was that they gave you two sauces with it: the usual peanut sauce but also a delicious sweet rice vinegar sauce, which really brought the dish to life. If I were to recommend a starter however, I had a taste of my partner's (Nick) hot and sour soup, and it was absolutely delicious. It was a coconut milk based broth, with the predominant flavour of lemongrass, and a hint (definitely not an overpowering heat)of red chilli(and when I say that, I mean it- I am a complete wimp with hot food, but this dish was very flavoursome without being too spicy). One of our party's soups arrived about 5 minutes late, which meant we all started eating before her as the food gets cold quickly, which was unfortunate.

For my main course I ordered the " Ped Op Naam Peung" (Thai style roast duck in Thai herb sauce) and as a side dish "Pad Tang Taek" (Soft noodle stir fried with bean sprouts and spring onion). I did think it was strange there was not an option of plain noodles as a side dish, and that instead I was having to order an almost-main course priced dish as an accompaniment. However, when these dishes arrived, this noodle dish was quite big and definitely enough as a side dish for two.

With the main course, I felt there were a few setbacks. About three of the members of our party ordered sticky rice as a side dish. Their orders of sticky rice all arrived in a separate rice bowl- and inside that bowl the rice were in little plastic bags! We all immediately said what it reminded us of: Vesta boil in the bag ready meals. My friends were happy with their rice, but this was their first time trying it, and in my experience (when I worked 8 months in a Japanese restaurant) it wasn't very well cooked. The rice was not soft or sticky enough, it looked too "condensed" somehow. I don't think this boil in the bag method works with sticky rice, and have never seen it done like this before (we always used rice cookers) but i'm open to corrections.

I felt like my main dish had been badly described. It tasted all right, but was in something like a hoi sin/ teriyaki sauce, and the duck was quite crispy (you know when you get that strange texture you sometimes get in Chinese food when something is crispy but then its coated in a very thick sticky sauce, which changes the texture? I find it hard to describe) I was expecting a normal roast duck breast with a thin coriander/lemongrassy based sauce or something along those lines. It tasted nice, was fair enough in portion size, but it tasted quite generic. My noodles had a kind of sesame/soy flavour to them which was quite nice

However, we all had a very nice night, my friend had a very good birthday experience, and I felt it was a restaurant that would be good for large parties of people, due to the relaxed atmosphere of the place.

We got the bill for the meal including tip (which like most restaurants is just added on to the bill if the party is 6 or more) which came to £25 a head. We each had 2 courses, 1 side dish, and two drinks so i consider that a very reasonable price.

I would give them a 7/10 for service, and 6/10 for food, So an Overall 6.5!

Right, hope I didnt go on too much, this is my first restaurant review so be sure to give feedback on how i could improve.

Your obliging chef,

Melanie

Recipe: Spaghetti with courgettes and almonds


Heya guys, so this is my first recipe post on here! Ive got to admit im not the best food photographer in the world but I intend to improve on that.

This is a beautiful, light and healthy pasta dish, that i feel is quite 'authentic', as italian pasta dishes are usually just 'coated' rather than smothered in sauce. It makes a fantastic vegetarian main course. This recipe, along with my "Sweet Potato and Feta Salad" recipe, won me £150 worth of Joseph Joseph Cookware, in an Epicure recipe competition.

Spaghetti with courgettes and almonds (serves 2) £1.60 per portion

150g spaghetti
30g whole blanched almonds
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 courgettes, grated
Knob of butter
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Zest of 1 lemon and a squeeze of juice
Salt and pepper
Parmesan

1. Toast the almonds in a dry pan, wait to cool, then roughly chop.
2. Cook pasta according to instructions (make sure pasta is al dente). Meanwhile fry the courgettes and garlic in the olive oil and butter with lots of seasoning.
3. Once pasta is cooked, add to the courgettes with 50ml of the pasta water. Add parsley, lemon, almonds, a drizzle of oil and mix well. Season to taste, garnish with parmesan and serve!

Chef Melanie

Hello everyone,

I have decided to create this blog, in order to share my passion for delicious food, good home cooking, restaurant dining, and pretty much anything else related to food!

I am also very interested in the nutritional side of food, and may mention something about that every now and then.

I know i am young (19), but i have been cooking since i was eight years old, and have been working in various parts of the catering industry for four years.

I hope to improve on my food photography, and get some yummy recipes up on here- for special occasions, dinner parties, romantic dinners for two, or just comforting easy family meals.

So join me in the kitchen with a good glass of Pinot Noir,

Your obliging cook,

Melanie