Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recipe: Spiced Apple and Apricot Chutney

Stocking up my chutney stores! I have a fair few jars now, i might chillour for a bit on my frantic preserving! I love it though, makes me feel all economical and somewhat "Victorian". I used almost all my jellies, jams and chutneys over Christmas as gifts. Homemade preserves, or homemade flavoured spirits (i have made blackberry vodka, raspberry vodka, elderberry vodka, blackberry brandy, etc.) make the best gifts, in my opinion. Because it shows you have put some effort and thought into it, and it's fairly economical as well. This chutney is really nice with smoked cheese, like applewood cheddar....mmm.... have you ever tried that? It's UBER tasty. Reminds me of the countryside, and autumn bonfires, lol!

Spiced Apple and Apricot Chutney (makes 1.2kg) 6 x 200g jars, 94p per jar

750g diced peeled cooking apple
250g diced dried soft apricots
1 small white onion, finely diced
50ml cider vinegar
50ml white wine vinegar
200ml red wine vinegar
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp mustard powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
250g sugar

1. In a large saucepan, bring all the ingredients to the boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Ladle the chutney into jars, allow to cool, and seal. Leave for two weeks before consuming.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Recipe: Masoor Dahl

This recipe is a firm family favourite. Would never want to calculate the calories in it, with all that ghee! But it's the ghee and the crispy spiced onions that give this dahl such a beautiful flavour. The perfect addition to a vegetarian indian thali- have a bowl of dahl, basmati rice, a couple of veggie curries and a salad- perfect. I would say that this soup should definitely be eaten fresh- leftovers dont keep that well really- not that we usually have any!

Masoor Dahl (serves 3) £1.36 per serving, with a naan bread each on the side!

315g red lentils
1.5 litres water
¼ tsp dried ginger
¼ tsp turmeric
130g ghee
2 red onions, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Handful fresh coriander
1 tsp salt

1. In a large saucepan, bring the red lentils and water to the boil, removing any scum or white foam that may form. Once boiled, lower the temperature, partially cover (put the saucepan lid on, on an angle, so it is “half covering it) and simmer for 40 minutes.
2. In a large frying pan, melt the ghee. Fry the red onions and garlic in the ghee for 10 minutes, until the onions are beginning to brown. Add coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper, and fry for a further two minutes. Add coriander and cook for one more minute.
3. Once the lentils have had their 40 minutes, pour the spiced onion mixture into the saucepan. Add salt, and stir round until the onions and lentils have been well combined.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Recipe: Chicken, Cheddar and Sweet Chilli Tortillas

This was a bit of an experiment really but dang did it work! I made a couple of them for dinner all by myself- I know, not the healthiest of choices, but never mind! I love how the cheddar slightly melts and the tortilla wrap become all nice and crispy. A quick and easy thing to grab and nosh on! I would say it probably only takes about 10 minutes to make (if that!) and much less time in order to eat! I reckon cooking a few of these and putting them on a platter would be a good option at a party or a tapas style dinner. With this I just had a little pot of spiced yoghurt to dip in- optional of course.

This recipe helped me win a "Mission Food Services" recipe competition, winning me £250 worth of John Lewis Vouchers! Funny what a couple of little wraps can do, haha (:

Chicken, Cheddar, and Sweet Chilli Tortilla (serves 1) £1.71 per serving.

2 soft tortilla wraps
50g finely grated cheddar
50g torn cooked chicken
Small handful coriander, chopped
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (i particularly like to use Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli dip with a hint of lime!)
A few grinds of black pepper

2 tbsp natural yoghurt to dip

1. Put one tortilla wrap on a plate. Top with all the ingredients, spaced evenly, and put the other tortilla wrap on top. Press down firmly(this helps stop all the ingredients from falling out once put into the saucepan.
2. Heat a non-stick pan on a medium/high heat. Put the stuffed tortilla wrap onto the hot saucepan for 2 minutes. Flip over (gently!) and cook for another 2 minutes. Slice into quarters and serve!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Recipe: Fillet Steak, with Creamy pepper sauce and Rocket Salad

There are not many things in this culinary world that can beat a good steak. A good steak, to me, is very lean- almost no fat atall- and from the fillet. Not a fan of rump or t-bone. I was making this lovely meal for me and nick's 2 1/2 year anniversary. He kept pointing out that it isnt really an "anniversary" unless it is actually annual- but we basically did nothing for our second year anniversary so I thought i'd cook him a nice meal. I like my steak medium rare- although lately i've been liking my meat bloodier and bloodier, closer to rare nowadays. I get my fillet steaks from M & S, they are perfect, and not THAT expensive either. Although i HAD to take a picture of this, it was hilarious- you can't completely see the writing on the label- but it says "remove before microwaving".....who the hell is microwaving aged fillet steaks??? Lol!

I served this with my 'attempt' on baked oven chips. I didn't really cook them long enough, and they didn't go crispy, so they kinda ended up as rosemary baked potatoes really. Still, quite nice though. My recipe for perfect oven baked chips still definitely needs a lot of tweaking! Anyway, i certainly had to write down the rest of this recipe, the sauce is so simple but it is just TO DIE FOR. And the salad is basic, but delicious, and works well against the richness of the steak and creamy sauce.

Steak with creamy pepper sauce, rocket salad (serves 2)

Drizzle of oil
2 good quality thick fillet steaks
2 handfuls rocket and baby red chard salad mix
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
250ml beef stock
2 tbsp extra thick double cream
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
Salt, sugar and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. First, prepare your balsamic dressing. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and sugar, until the dressing has become thick and emulsified, and the sugar has dissolved. Set aside
2. Put a frying pan onto a high heat with a little oil. Cook the fillet steaks 2 minutes each side, and put into the oven, whilst you quickly make the sauce. Keep your eye on the steak- removing it when it is done to your preferred state- rare, medium rare, or well done.
3. Into the same saucepan, put in the red wine vinegar- because the pan is still hot most of this ends up evaporating. Add beef stock and bubble down for a couple of minutes. Add cream, and lots of black pepper, and thicken for a further two minutes. Season your sauce with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.
4. Plate up! Put the handfuls of salad, cherry tomatoes, and drizzle over the reserved balsamic dressing onto two plates. Put the steaks onto these plates and pour over the sauce equally (or pour the sauce into a gravy boat if you prefer). Serve with whatever you fancy- oven baked chips or roast potatoes are my favourite things to serve with this dish.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Recipe: Dark Chocolate,Coffee and Walnut Cookies

This recipe is lurrrvely. Coffee and walnut are such a classic combo, and mixed with the flavour of good quality high % cocoa chocolate- such a dream! Also, the coffee flavour doesnt completely overpower, it just compliments the other flavours really- my boyfriend doesn't like coffee (or tea! I don't know how he stays standing to the end of day!) but he still really liked these cookies.

Dark Chocolate, Coffee and Walnut Cookies (makes about 10 cookies) 19p per cookie!

90g butter
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp instant coffee
100g golden caster sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
60g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
30g walnuts, chopped into small pieces

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Melt the butter and dissolve the cocoa, instant coffee and sugar in a saucepan, until all ingredients are smooth. Remove from the hob and leave for 5 minutes to cool a bit, Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until well combined.
2. Stir in the flour and baking powder until well combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts and chocolate. Put in the fridge for about 10 minutes (this makes the mixture easier to work with)
3. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Dollop on the mixture, about a tbsp for each one, spaced out so they don’t merge together. Put into the oven and bake for 10 minutes (you will most likely have to do this in batches).
4. Remove from the oven, leave to cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and serve.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Competition: Delia Online + New Zealand Lamb Competition

Hey y'all! So I entered a New Zealand Lamb and Delia Online recipe competition, and I was shortlisted! When I got shortlisted, I won a shiny new panasonic camera, and I had to video myself making my recipe. My recipe is the 'Spiced New Zealand Lamb and Fruity Wild Rice Salad'- a recipe I have on this site. Now, mine and two other peoples recipes, are vying to win a new Neff Oven- which, lets face it, as a poor poor student, I could really do with!

If you all could vote for my recipe, it could really help. I really really want to win this, especially since all of that "Linda Mccartney Bollocks"- which seriously, dont get me started on, my parents almost got into legal action with em.

Anyway, if you could go onto this link and vote for me, it would really help, thanks V V V much- Mel wants to win!!!!.......again.....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Recipe: Moussaka

I'm not one for blowing my own horn(....allright I am....just a bit!) but this is one of THE NICEST things I have EVER cooked. EVER. I mean, i'm not sure how traditional it is when compared to Greek or Cypriot recipes, but it's still lush. I believe roasting the aubergine off first, in nice thin slices, avoids the aubergine from becoming hard or slimy- a horrible texture you get sometimes in some other Moussakas. Try serving this with a delicious cucumber, tomato, kos lettuce, and mint salad.

Moussaka (serves 3)

1 aubergine, sliced into thin rings
2 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
1 small white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
500g minced lamb
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp dried mint
300g diced ripe tomatoes
30g butter
1 level tbsp plain flour
100ml skimmed milk
15g finely grated parmesan
30g crumbled feta
1 egg yolk
Small handful Fresh parsley, chopped

1. Heat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper, and lay the slices of aubergine on it. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
2. In a saucepan, fry the onions, garlic and olive oil on a medium heat, covered, for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat, and add the minced lamb, stock cube, cinnamon and mint. Cook for ten minutes, or until browned.
3. Add tomato puree, and cook for a couple of minutes. If there is a lot of fat, drain some of it away from the pan. Add chopped tomatoes, and cook covered, on a low/medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Whilst the lamb/tomato is slowly simmering, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter, stir in the flour, add milk, and once thickened, add the parmesan and feta and stir in. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the egg yolk. Don’t worry if the sauce is ‘lumpy’, once the dish has cooked in the oven it will even out.
5. Preheat the oven dish to 180C. Pour the lamb mixture into an oven proof dish. Evenly layer the aubergine slices on top of the lamb. Pour the white sauce over the aubergine, and smooth over with a spoon. Put in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, garnish with some freshly chopped parsley, and serve!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Recipe: Vegetable and Chickpea Cous Cous

What a feast! This is a perfect side/ salad dish to make for a big gathering, like a barbeque or coctail party- because it is delicious, filling, and suitable for the vegetarians as well! It's absolutely scrumptious, and freezes very well too. I've used a red pepper here instead of the yellow pepper. Any colour will do, no worries!

Vegetable and Chickpea Couscous (serves 5 as a main, or 8 as a side dish) 83p as a main, 52p as a side dish.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 courgette, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
3 chestnut mushrooms, diced
700ml (using 3 vegetable oxo cubes) vegetable stock
300g couscous
1 tsp paprika (plus extra for sprinkling)
2 cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar and pestle
Small handful fresh coriander chopped
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
½ tsp salt

*for garnish*
15g finely grated Parmesan cheese
30g Toasted almond flakes

1. Cook onion and courgette, covered, on a medium heat, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pepper and mushrooms and cook for a further 10 minutes, covered.
2. Add paprika, cardamom, salt, and coriander, chickpeas and tomato, and cook it for a couple of minutes. Add vegetable stock and bring to the boil.
3. Once brought up to the boil add couscous. Cover immediately and take off the heat. Leave for six minutes then fluff up with a fork. Place into a serving dish, sprinkle over the parmesan, almonds and paprika, and serve!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Recipe: Chicken and Mushroom Hotpot

This a delicious, warming, and moreish chicken hotpot. A perfect dinner for two, served with some steamed broccoli. Using the slicer attachment on the food processor makes the prep for this recipe so quick as well- such a handy peice of kitchen equipment! If you dont have a food processor, just slice the potatoes as thinly as possible, and add an extra 5 minutes to the cooking time at stage 4.

Chicken and Mushroom Hotpot (serves 2) £1.78 per portion, £1.90 with 80g steamed broccoli on the side.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
100g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
200g diced chicken breast
1 tbsp plain flour
100ml chicken stock
100ml white wine
100ml skimmed milk
½ tsp dried thyme
450g red rooster potatoes, peeled
40g butter
Salt and pepper

1. Fry the white onion in 2 tbsp of the olive oil, on a medium heat, in a casserole dish. Add the mushrooms, chicken, the other tbsp of olive oil, and fry for a further 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the flour until the ingredients are well coated. Add stock, wine, milk and thyme, and bubble down for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste.
3. Heat the oven to 180C. Put the peeled potatoes through a food processor with the slicer attachment on. Layer the thin slices of potato on top of the creamy chicken mixture, and dot pieces of the butter all over the top.
4. Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper, cover, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid, and put under a hot grill for about 5 minutes, or until the potato slices have become golden. Serve!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recipe: Quick Cajun Chicken

This is very good for those occasions when you come home late and you just can'y be bothered to cook. It's basically just chucking some chicken and red onion in a dish with some spices, chucking in the oven, and 35 minutes later it's all done! I've been a bit poorly over the last couple of days so have not really been bothered to cook, and have mostly been surviving on chicken noodle soup (or get-better-in-a-bowl as I call it!), but this was nice to have for dinner. The green things I have on the side of this dish are spinach pancakes (in honour of shrove tuesday this week!). They were quite nice, but theres still a few tweaks I need to make here and there, before they're ready to write up on here!

Quick Cajun Chicken (serves 1)

250g diced chicken breast
1 red onion, diced roughly
1 tbsp Schwartz Cajun Seasoning
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
Fresh coriander to garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Put all ingredients into an ovenproof dish, mix up until everything is coated equally with the spices and seasoning. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
2. Remove from the oven and stir up. Put back into the oven for 15 minutes, and serve, garnished with coriander.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Recipe: Briam

"Briam" (Bree-Am) is a delicious traditional Greek potato and vegetable bake. I had this dish loads of times when i went to Crete a few years ago, and completely fell in love with it. It's the simplicity of Greek food that i adore so much. I got a traditional Cretan cookery book, and most of the recipes have a few ingredients, cooked simply, and all of which usually(even the desserts) contain lashing of good olive oil! Traditionally you would crumble a type of mild goat's cheese called "Mizithra" over the top once it's come out of the oven, but I can't find it anywhere in England, so I use Feta, which seems to me to be the closest alternative to it.

Briam (serves 4)

550g courgettes, halved and sliced
550g potatoes, peeled and sliced fairly thinly
4 large ripe tomatoes, 2 squished up, 2 sliced into wedges
1 red onion, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp dried oregano
200ml vegetable stock
60ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
50g feta cheese, crumbled

1. Heat to 180C. Mix all the ingredients together well in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into a large baking/roasting dish, and smooth over as much as possible.
2. Put into the oven for 55 minutes. Every 15 minutes with a spoon, “pat down” the vegetables as much as possible. This is to make sure the potato cooks. You should not stir the mixture; otherwise it will break down too much.
3. Once the potato is cooked, and the dish looks well roasted, take out of the oven and crumble over the feta cheese and some extra chopped fresh parsley. Serve!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Recipe: Chargrilled Pork Loin with Mustardy Mash

When I served this to my brother, he took one bite and said "you better have three more of these coming after this one- these are soooo good". O.k so it doesnt take much to impress my brother- as long as it involves a large slab of meat he's a happy boy, but i've gotta agree with him here- this is certainly the nicest pork dish i've made. Pricking the meat with a knife or fork, helps the marinade to permeate the pork. Marinating in the lemon juice also helps to tenderise the steaks before griddling.

Chargrilled Pork Loin Steaks with Mustardy Mash (serves 2) £1.90 per serving

For the pork:

2 nice plump pork loin steaks
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
10g chives, chopped finely
Salt and pepper

For The Mash:

800g red rooster potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 tsp English mustard
2 tbsp of double cream
30g finely grated cheddar
Knob of butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the steaks into a bowl, and prick them all over with a fork or knife on both sides. Put all the other ingredients over the pork, cover, and leave to marinade for at least 2 hours.
2. Start boiling the potatoes (they should take about 15 minutes to be soft enough).
3. Meanwhile heat a griddle pan onto high heat. Remove the steaks from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and place onto the hot griddle pan, and cook for 4 minutes. Turn over to the other side, spoon a couple of tablespoons of marinade over the top, and cook for a further 3 minutes.
4. Drain the potatoes and mash. Stir in the English mustard, double cream, cheddar and butter. Season to taste, and serve with the pork.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Recipe: Apple and Mint Jelly

This jelly is really lush. Since I made all those different flavours of crabapple jellies last autumn i've really got into the nack of making them! They aren't much harder to make than jams really, it just involves two more stages, the boiling of the fruit and then the straining. Then you just chuck the liquid in a pan with all the sugar and neccessary flavourings, and heat up until it gets to a setting point, like you do with jam. This jelly goes fantastically with roast lamb- a big chunk of melt-in-the-mouth roast shoulder of lamb, with a generous spoonfull of mint jelly- what more do you want!?!?

Apple and Mint Jelly (makes about 600g) Makes 3 x 200g jars, £1.21 per jar

800g diced cooking apples (cores and all!)
1300ml water
15g fresh mint leaves, torn roughly
350g sugar to 500ml of drained apple liquid (70%)
50ml of white wine vinegar, to 500ml of drained apple liquid (10%)
1 tbsp dried mint

1. In a large saucepan add the diced apples, water and fresh mint. Bring to the boil and then simmer, lid on, for 35 minutes.
2. Strain through a jelly bag/muslin for 3 hours.
3. Put the apple liquid with the appropriate measures of sugar and vinegar into a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil, skimming any scum that forms at the surface. Stir constantly for about 15 minutes.
4. Pour into jars and wait to cool and set. Seal with a lid.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Recipe: Garlicky Roasted Butternut Squash

This is such a scrumptious side dish, so nice to be honest I could eat a whole bowl of it on it's own! I love butternut squash, and coating it in this delicious herby garlicky oil really helps it to get a beautiful texture whilst it roasts away in the oven. This would be a lovely accompanient to any cut of meat, or it is VERY nice (this is how i had it last night) on the side of a feta and spinach pie, with some salad.

Garlicky Roast Butternut Squash (serves 3 as a side dish) 74p per person

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp olive oil
10g fresh parsley leaves (plus a little extra for garnish)
½ tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp sugar
4 cloves garlic
800g (about 1 medium) peeled and diced butternut squash
½ large white onion, diced roughly
Salt and pepper

1. Heat the oven to 200C. In a food processor, blend together the extra virgin olive oil, normal olive oil, parsley, rosemary, paprika, garlic and sugar.
2. Put the diced butternut squash and white onion in a bowl with the garlicky herb mixture and mix it all together with your hands until the vegetables are well coated.
3. Put the squash into a roasting dish, season with salt and pepper and put into the oven for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven, stir the mixture in the roasting dish, and put back in the oven for a final 15 minutes.
4. Garnish with a little extra freshly chopped parsley, and serve!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recipe: Smoked Paprika Chicken and Bean Stew

This chicken dish is absolutely beautiful- the combination of the hot smoked paprika with the sweet sherry and the earthy beans and kale is PERFECT. A sort of spanish-inspired dish really. One of the last wintery recipes i'll have until i start getting onto the seasonal spring ingredients, like young greens, asparagus and broad beans. If you can't get borlotti beans, kidney beans are a good substitute.

Smoked paprika chicken, kale and bean stew (serves 2)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts, diced
1 red onion sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp smoked paprika
100ml sherry
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin borlotti beans, drained
½ tsp sugar
100ml chicken stock
100g kale
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnish: natural yoghurt

1. Cook onions, garlic and chicken for 10 minutes, or until starting to brown.
2. Add sherry and smoked paprika, and cook for 4 minutes.
3. Add all other ingredients except kale, and cook for 5 minutes. Add kale and cook, covered, for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Season to taste and serve, maybe with a few dollops of natural yoghurt.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Travel: New York Day Five

Guilt-trip all over from last night, this morning we got all packed up and put our cases behind the reception. We were still leaving today, but at 11:50pm, so we didn't exactly wan't to be hauling around all our heavy luggage through Manhattan all day! We had some breakfast, i had some sausages with fried potatoes which was lovely, and LOADS of coffee this morning. I knew I would need that caffeine boost for later on in the airport.

We didn't have much planned for this day i guess, as part of the day involved leaving the hotel and all that airport malarky (which by the way, takes 10 times more if you are travelling to or from America, when compared to Europe. The Americans are SO careful about all the checks and everything. I suppose you can't blame them really...). However, today me and my friends went shopping in Soho, and had a meal in China Town. Bought a few lovely things in Soho- a nice bracelet, a cool neon orange croptop (to wear in Glastonbury Fest- not EVER anywhere else of course!!) and a nice cheap pair of skinny jeans. I'm not sure though that i was terribly impressed by Soho, or Chinatown infact. I thought Soho would have been a very posh area, but really it was just a bit of a slummy place with a few expensive shops really- thats all. And China Town- My God! How terribly underwhelming! I mean,I have been to the one in LA and it was much nicer, much more colourful exotic fruit + veg stalls and dragon-y things lying about. This place was just a dump really. Our tutor took us to a little restaurant called "Jaya". The food was allright but i wouldn't really reccomend it that much. Our group of 31 ate in a sort-of "banquet style"- they brought out several dishes and we all served ourselves from these big platters. That would have been a cool idea if the different dishes hadn't arrive at such radically different times like it did. It was like, yaay, a few spoonfuls of beef in black bean sauce........waiting.....waiting....oooh here comes another dish! Oh wait its just some plain rice, which we dont have any other dishes at this time to have it with. And the chinese female managaress, even though she had agreed previously with our tutor how much the group was going to pay, she tried making him pay more AND tip more at the end- which was so rude and ridiculous, they were like properly arguing and everything. Its like- we just brought 31 people to this dump that was completely empty, and now your making us pay more? Yeah- Basically, a little lame. Still, the group had fun, messing around with chopsticks though, haha.

After the meal it was kinda time to go back to the hotel, grab our bags, and start our long journey back to good ol' blighty!

So what did I think of The Big Apple? Well i had a wonderful time, and i found the trip really interesting- as usually all the people I hang around with/ my friends are all at least 30, so i suppose it was a bit of a change to suddenly be hanging round with two dozen 16 year olds, lol. It made me realise that in some ways, I am younger than i think, and that every so often i do miss having friends my own age to hang around/ go out for meals/ socialise with. The girls that I was staying with reminded me so much of my friends i had at school as well, so the whole experience was fairly nostalgic. But then again, i reckon there must be a reason why over the past few years i haven't made any friends my own age. Don't know what it is, but perhaps i act like i'm in my forties without even realising it. Also, my opinion about my own generation still remains the same- 90% of the people my age that I have ever met (and basically everyone on this trip except the girls I was hanging about with) are utter screaming morons. They are into crap music, they are repetitive, they talk about absolutely NOTHING, they have no class, and they are utterly obsessed with how themselves and others look. And they say the most stupid things as well, its just like, GOD shut up. They may be able to get better A levels than me perhaps, but could they cold a reasonable conversation in a group of people at least double age- No. Hell no.

Sorry, going on a bit of a rant there. I liked New York, but i'm not sure I liked most of the "New Yorkers". Here is a brilliant example of the New Yorker attitude:

I see them as more British in a way, than America. Remember- I am totally over-generalising here. But i have met Calafornians, Nevadans and Floridians, and overall they much more friendly and more what we would think of as stereotypically American (you know, the whole "have a nice day!" thang). New Yorkers (the middle aged/older ones at least- the true new yorkers) are much more sarcastic and ironic, like the english, and they don't suffer fools gladly. If you say anything stupid, or ask perhaps a bit of a touristy question, they are a bit aggressive about it, like "what? you mean The Chrysler building? whaddaya mean? huh!?". But i guess you tend to have more rude people in capital cities- a lot of people will say people in London or Paris are ruder than people in the rest of the country. I could certainly vouch for that.

I felt like i got so much done and saw so much. The only thing i didn't really bother with was going to see a Broadway show, but i feel like i hadn't missed out too much really. It was really expensive (about $130/£100 a ticket) and i'm not too big on the theatre anyway.

I didn't fall in love with the city, and i think the only reason i would come back would be to go with my boyfriend or friends again- and show them around the sites. I feel the most knowledgable about a city after leaving it than i ever had before- after five days i feel like i could bring back people and show them round- as if i had lived there!

Overall a fun, yet tiring trip. When i go for my next holiday, i wouldn't mind having a bit of a lazy beach holiday really. Just sleeping as much as I want, eating loads, drinking coctails, and getting a bit of a tan. I love all these holidays when you see all the sights, and walk around everywhere- but next time i go away, i just want to relax, let go a little- have a bit of a break.

I'm thinking somewhere in Italy next, so maybe my next foodie travel blog entries will be all about pizza, pasta and gelato! Until next time, Ciao Bella!