Wednesday

Amazing (but long) lamb curry...

Serves 4/6 

Takes up to 4 hours.

Ingredients:

Spices:

2 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds 
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tbsp black pepper corns
1 clove
1/4 ground cinnamon
10 cardamom pods

others:

Madras curry paste x 4 tbsp
fresh coriander
fresh mint - handful
2 tbsp oil
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
300ml stock
1.5kg lamb, diced
300ml natural yoghurt
salt and pepper
lime juice
Spinach - about 2 really good handfuls

Pre heat oven to 150c.

Toast all the spices together in a dry pan for a minute until the spices begin to smell. Find your cardamom pods and take the black seeds out of the shell. Transfer all spices to a pestle and mortar and cool before grinding to a fine powder (I get bored after 10 minutes of trying to get it to be a fine powder, but it's fine with a little texture to it).














Put a large pan on the heat and add the oil then the curry paste and ground spices. 




Add the tomatoes an stock then bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and place in the oven for an hour and a half to really get the curry flavouring.



Fry the lamb pieces until browning before adding to the curry sauce. 



Return to the oven and cook for a further 2 hours/until the lamb is tender. 

Stir in the mint and yoghurt followed by sprinkling the coriander on top and lime juice. Add the spinach and let wilt into the sauce - Stir. 



All done (finally)- it's long but so delicious and so worth the effort!
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Tuesday

Lovely local...Gola Fulham Road

photo from golalondon.com

The parents were down for the weekend and to break away from the norm of heading into Kensington or Chelsea my Dad requested we go somewhere 'local' to my flat. I have walked past Gola many times and loving the warm and buzzy atmosphere it seems to have, I booked for the 4 of us and scoured the menu several times before our visit. 

The tiny 'higgledy piggledy' restaurant was packed from 7:30pm right through to when we were leaving, with tables still coming in for their fix of home-cooked Italian foods. I mention this, as the menu stresses (and on-line) that their emphasis is on quality and authenticity (not what it looks like on a plate). You are to be 'treated like old friends' eating food as they would in their own home. They also strongly ask you to not change the dishes as they believe their dishes are perfect as they are - ok, noted!

It's a very 'cute' restaurant, lit mainly by candle and fairy lights so please excuse the photos as I didn't want to disturb too many diners with an obnoxious camera flash! 

The wine list ranges from £20 bottles to some £50+. Dad chose a wine which wasn't available and so they brought over a more expensive red and offered it to us for the bottle price we chose... how splendid!?! We were also given some home-made arancini and focaccia bread as an appetizer (n.b. no cover charge either). The cheesy, arancini risotto balls were so delicious we were pleased to then be served another version minutes later that had just been cooked, again these went pronto and before I took a photo!!

The menu is split into antipasti, pasta, secondi, pizza's and sides. On our visit there were also specials consisting of 3  more starters and 2 mains. One of these made my mind up before looking at the antipasti 'San Daniele ham and Burrata'- This happened to be Mum's choice also. The burrata (mozzarella mixed with cream) was exceptional and for those of you that love soft Italian cheese I urge you to try this as it is delicious! The sweet San Daniele ham (the other famous ham apart from Parma) also was exceptional. Mr D opted for the Calamari and my Dad had the Tuna Carpaccio with ricotta cheese, olives and celery.  Both were presented nicely and the Calamari to note, was perfectly crispy and not greasy at all. 


San Daniele and Burrata
Calamari
Tuna Carpaccio











Our mains were a choice of wild boar ragu (the waiters favourite) for the men, seafood linguine (a mix of prawns, muscles, crab and squid) for Mum and I opted for the saffron risotto with scallops. These were all decent pasta/risotto dishes, a little on the small side for the boys but perfect for Mum and I. The ragu was rich in flavour, coated the pasta nicely and served with lashing of parmesan cheese. 


Seafood Linguini
Wild boar ragu













Saffron and scallop Risotto
The linguini was coated in a really scrummy garlic, white wine and parsley sauce which was simple but really moreish and the seafood was more than ample. The risotto caused me to have slight food jealousy, as scallops being one of my ultimate faves, made me a little put out, all I could see was one lonely little queenie scallop on top of a vast amount of oozy, yummy yellow rice. The risotto was good and perfectly gooey and I really enjoyed the saffron element to it, so much so, I am going to try and re-create this at home (with more scallops!) if I do I will be sure to post it.

In a bid not to stuff our faces, we opted out of puds and finished off our wine to end a really lovely evening. I am so pleased I finally made it here and to have Gola as a local being one that does authentic Italian food. The pizza's I am told are a must, in which case, I look forward to returning soon... 


Gola restaurant on Urbanspoon
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Monday

Man-buying

It's safe to say that when faced with buying for any man in your life husband/boyfriend/lover/brother/father it fills most girls with a little (if not a lot of) dread...

With valentines day coming up if you are one to buy their loved ones something here are a few ideas I think are fantastic this season:


Pocket squares:



Brighten up a suit/DJ for an event or dinner simply by changing the 'hanky' in the pocket aka 'pocket squares'. These are by new London based accessories brand Leo Joseph and are so colourful girls have started to pop the pretty silks onto their handbags as well as buy for their men's suits. At £40 these are a great gift and I think you'll agree absolutely gorgeous. All made in England and the company are part of the WWF business foundation so you're doing your bit for nature too. 


Keep him warm:


There's nothing less-manly than a man shivering in this blooming cold weather we're having. If yours suffers in the cold or simply refuses to wear a decent coat these Uniqlo 90%down 'Ultra Light' vests not only look stylish but they fit snugly underneath overcoats, Barbours and blazers. They're also a respectable £39.90 and come in a range of colours to suit all styles. Personally the navy, black or grey are best for work wears as they are a little more subtle than say the orange they also stock! 






For the traditionalists:


I came across this little gem of a British company when trying to find a Christmas present for my father. The English Shaving Company stocks all forms of shaving paraphernalia needed for that smooth baby face or the dodgy facial hair grooming your man may require. Having a decent razor not only improves your shave but it helps your skin also. The razors also fit regular Gillette razor heads so there's no extra spending on expensive add-ons!



For the Henry's:

If your man likes a spot of outdoors, William Powell has a great selection of hunting, shooting and fishing objects and clothing from the very expensive (and beautiful) hand-made guns to (what I call) 'loo-books' for your country gent. There's also a great selection of drinking utensils in the form of these great shot glasses that rest-assured will be appreciated when full of whisky on a cold shoot day! 


For the trendy's: 




Urbanears headphones come in a range of colours and fabrics - (my fave are the tweed as shown above) prices start at £50 for a plain colour of £70 for a fabricated pair. They fold up easily for travel needs and are exclusive to The Conran Shop. The sound quality is high speck and they have some really funky colours in the range. 


For your food lover:

Every man I know is a cheese fanatic and therefore this Duo cheese knife set is perfect for anyone whom like to show off a cheeseboard at the end of the evening. The shorter one for hard and semi-soft cheeses whilst the longer one is best for soft cheese. For £59 they also look the business too!



Wine guzzler:


Aerators: We bought 2 of these funky looking devices as Christmas gifts and both were received greatly. I was so happy to then find they were featured on television, not long after purchase, as one of 'the gadgets to have for 2013'. Vinturi red wine aerator does the job of allowing your wine to 'breathe' without the painful wait time. Letting your man enjoy a decent bottle of wine the moment he steps in from work = a happy man! 





Mr D and I do not tend to do Valentines gifts, a card (to me) is more than enough, as i'm not entirely sure why you need a specific day to let that special person know how much you love them, trust me, they know even without gushing 'I love you' on a teddy bear holding a heart...annoyingly us girls tend to have a way of signalling without realising!! However, if you do then I hope the treats above have helped with some inspiration for your man-buying whether it be a Valentine or not. 

L x
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Sunday

Getting cold feet?


I suffer horribly with cold feet due to terrible circulation - 'Raynaud's phenomenon' (to those of you who like tech-words, although mine is thankfully very mild!) I have my lovely Dad to thank for that gene! If you suffer the same I really have every sympathy, it's horrible. My feet are never warm and at the moment I have taken to wearing two pairs of bed socks to sleep in...sexy I know!

So, ski-season now in full swing I am on a mission to find some warm and practical day-night boots... easy? No, unless you want to look like you've shoved your feet in bin bags with tyres for soles... I therefore list some of my finds to suit all budgets and heel hight preferences (mine is most definitely flat in these conditions!):

For blow-your-budget booties Burberry have brought out some gorgeous boots for the colder months...


These Stanmore suede shearling lined are practical and fashion forward which is what the lovely people at Burberry HQ set out to do. The rubber sole, although slightly ugly if you ask me, will grip when going from apres-ski to bar and keep even the most up-to-date fashionista's tootsies warm and stylish. I love the buckle and the zip detailing at the front of the boot.£375



These are my ultimate favourites! Again, Burberry, annoyingly I found these on my quest and now I cannot get them out of my head and sadly the price tag is ££££ - cry! Biker Shearling Alaska Boot these would be fabby with jeans or dresses to give a great biker-chick look and have sheep sking inside to keep you snug. You may be a lucky one and find them on sale if you do some hunting however they are still £595 on the Burberry site - in.my.dreams...



Ash have a great store on the King's Road and also an on-line shop with a 48hr shipping policy. They have a number of styles and colours in boots, shoes and trainers around the £100-300 mark. The designers have a really passion for footwear design and practicality with inspiration taken for some of their designs from all over the world. These Titan boots on the right are a great 'vintage-inspired' leather and would work well for every day use. Ash was my brand of choice and I went for the Tilt in black...


Uggs - we CANNOT get away from these ugly, snuggly, cosy pockets we plonk onto our feet since our university days... and Emu Astralia have some great alternatives that are just as cosy but have small detailing to them so they aren't so straight forward and plain. The Prarie Lo at £185 will be as warm as toast, wear well and be perfect for your 'off duty' outfits or your commute to work. 





ASOS have hugely expanded over the last few years - who remembers when they just stocked own product and a few 'As Seen on Screen' items?! Now it's full of designer, high street and one off's for almost everything men and women need. Therefore I urge you to head here for your first boot mission and have a hunt. Ones that caught my eye were as follows...




left: ASOS Altitude Jodhpur Ankle boot £55 I'm in love with these (I know i'm shoe obsessed!) A slightly more fashion-forward look to your average jodhpur style boot. Great detail and would be a great 'chuck on' pair to have - nice heel hight too!



Whistles Stinger Black Strapped Ankle Boots £150 a decent-high heel hight and sturdy, I love the fastening detail on the outside edge and there's also a brown version which is pretty funky, with a contrast leather insert. Would be lovely with thick tights and dresses. Shown below.




 ASOS Chief leather knee highs £75 a great staple knee 
high, I wear my LK Bennet boots to death. Real leather, a hidden inner fastening for ease and a stretch panel at the back of the boot for comfort and fit. These will see you through the winter months and look great pulled over jeans and with dresses.

Rag and Bone, a newcommer to the Sloane Sq/Kings Road shopping area, fantastic jeans, great tees and dresses however, at high end prices. These boots are also available on ASOS.com and perfect for those of you that cannot bear to not be in some form of heel but want some stability on the ice.
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Friday

Happy Burns Night all...

photo: http://www.macsween.co.uk/recipes/haggis-neeps-tatties/

I love a Scottish knees up and Ceilidh is one of my favourite dances at weddings as it gets everyone dancing and in good spirits (and rather sweaty).


If you are heading to a Burns Night tonight I wish you a wonderful fling ahead...



Address to a Haggis:

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o' need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An' cut you up wi' ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve,
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
"Bethankit" hums.

Is there that o're his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi' perfect scunner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro' bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whistle;
An' legs an' arms, an' heads will sned,
Like taps o' thristle.

Ye Pow'rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

nope...I haven't a clue either!! 
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Easy tikka masala


Curry is one of my favourite cuisines so when having people over for an 'easy supper party' on a Friday evening I want ease and something that cooking the evening before will only enhance flavouring... Curry!

Here's my version adapted from several people's recipes and using curry paste for a cheats ingredient.

Serves 4:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 tbsp tandoori paste - I used Patak's
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
8 cardamom pods
1 large white onion, finely chopped
11/4 inch piece fresh ginger grated - see cheat below
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
150ml of chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 lemon juice
salt

Cut your chicken into bite-sized chunks and mix with the paste and yoghurt. Leave to marinade in a non-metallic bowl in the fridge OVER NIGHT. 



Heat oil in a large pan and add the cinnamon, cardamon pods and onion. Fry for about 5 minutes until the onion begins to brown. The add the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper.



These frozen ginger pouches from Saino's are fantastic, saves grating and also prevents buying a huge amount of ginger that will end up going in the bin. 

Add the chicken and the marinade to the pan and fry for 4 minutes.




Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, garam masala, lemon juice and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for 10minutes...






All set... serve immediately or the next evening with some Pilau rice and warm naan...delicious!


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Thursday

Pizza East (West)


Two of my girls and I popped up to my old stomping ground of Ladbroke Grove for a good old gossip over wine and pizza at Pizza East. The (now) chain, first opened in Shoreditch and set the bar high for gourmet pizza and inventive toppings... following the success of this establishment they (quite rightly) branched out to feed the masses in Notting Hill, at the North end of Portobello Road, and more recently Kentish Town. 



I for one had been wanting to go here since it opened the doors and therefore extremely pleased we found an excuse to try it out. 

We were seated in the downstairs area of the restaurant where the interior is also worth a mention, as it is fab! Huge floor to ceiling windows, aged-wood shutters, vintage lamps and exposed white metal ceilings shows off Martin Brudnizki's skills of interior design. There's a bar towards the back of the room and two enormous pizza ovens on the left with busy chefs creating the yummy delights. 'Bar style' seating is around the 'kitchen' where you can watch them make the pizza's from scratch and also drool over the pork belly which is center stage as one of the toppings. 

We each ordered a glass of house wine... one red, one white and one rose all came in their cute individual carafe and all decent for a house choice. 



We ordered the olives and Marcona almonds which, sadly, we gobbled before I took a decent photo! However these were the large delicious, sweet, bright green olives you get in Europe, no bitter taste to them at all (I even think Mr D would approve).

The pizza's of choice were:


Burrata, Spinach, tomato, black olives
San Daniele, tomato, mozzarella, basil, chilli
Spicy sausage, mozzarella, tenderstem broccoli
All toppings were of good quality, fresh and plentiful. The doughy base was delicious - Crispy, fluffy edges and most importantly - thin! The favourite among the three was the San Daniele pizza and the spicy sausage was a great mix of flavours and textures. 

Standard pizza size is 10 inch, which, being 3 girls we could have coped fine with two pizza's to share and an avocado side salad - it looked delicious on the next table FYI. But it was nice to be able to try a wider range of toppings from the menu. Prices start at £8 and then head up to £14 for your more exotic toppings with most settling around the £11 mark. There's also great options for your non-pizza loving friends.

Again, even as full as we were Miss G cannot spy a Tiramisu and not order one, so we ordered and addedd in a salted caramel and chocolate tart with three spoons - both got the 'oh my god' stamp of approval - yum. 
Tiramisu
Salted caramel and chocolate tart
Nibbles, two courses and a glass of wine came to £26pp inc service which I was more than happy with. I will definitely be going back...in fact know my choice already!

Note: the restaurant gets very busy towards the end of the week and operates a no booking policy...therefore if it's full, head across the road to George's fish and chip bar where you will find (as voted) 'the best fish and chips in London'. It's been a Notting Hill institution since opening it's doors in the early 60's, cramped but fun and cash only. Jamie Oliver to name one celeb 'chef' treks to this place for his Brit foodie fix. Absolutely no contest over 'Daddy or Chips' here, chips would win hands down (sorry pops)... 

Pizza East Portobello on Urbanspoon
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Monday

Busaba Ethai

It has everything going against it to make many dislike Busaba Ethai...

One: It's a chain. 

Two: you sit uncomfortably close to people you don't know 

Three: the staff are in-your-face friendly

Four: the room smells of incense so strong I am quickly taken back to my 13year old self wandering into the hippy shop back home thinking it was THE place to be... it wasn't. 


Despite this, Busaba is Mr D and I's fail safe place to go to when in need of Asian food. The King's Road branch is one of their newest, however, they have others in Wardour Street, Westfield and Bird Street to name a few of their London locations. They also have a base in Bicester, to which keen shoppers (from personal experience) start queuing from 11:30am to get a seat...

We were seated, as always, by a smiley member of staff whom asked us where we would like to sit. Today - by the window so we watched the shoppers meander in the now grey sludge on the street - not so pretty today.


Mr D has the same every time 'crispy chicken' with lemon grass, chilli sauce, shallot and daikon (a type of white radish). It's delicious, juicy and perfectly crispy - a guilty pleasure.


It's January, and like the rest of London (it seems), we're trying to be healthy and therefore Mr D went for a veg side in the form of Chinese broccoli with garlic and shiitake mushrooms. It's good but no where near as good as the 'Morning Glory' they have on the menu which is seriously good (us English call it 'water spinach' - how boring?!)


I always try something different every visit. Today, as it's cold, I went for one of the 'Soup noodle' dishes, Tom yam Talay (extra spicy), seafood in a spicy sour soup with vermicelli noodles. Yummy soothing soup with a (slight) kick - I am a chilli freak. The seafood was a mix of prawns, baby squid and Asian fish cake, no scrimping here as there was plenty of each and a handful of spinach. It was exactly the warming yumminess my tummy craved.


If you are also squid fiends, like us, then try their Thai calamari. The batter is so light you only notice the crispy texture ever so slightly and the ginger and peppercorn flavouring is lip-smackingly good. So, naturally we also had a side of this as well.  


The most noticeable thing about Busaba Ethai is that you can actually taste that the food here is fresh and made on site - it is simply divine and makes you want to eat here again and again... and for £15 per person it's well worth sitting next to a total stranger for an hour or so of your life...

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