Thursday, 27 October 2011

Aubergine Curry

I've made Aubergine Curry (Baingan Bharta) from this recipe lots of times, but on Saturday I decided I knew better and made this recipe up myself... It worked, although was FAR too hot for my taste, next time I do it I will only use half a chilli....

1 Aubergine
1 red chilli
1 large onion
Knob of ginger
Cumin seeds
Tsp ground cumin
Tsp Turmeric
Few Curry Leaves
Tbsp Dried Coriander
4 dessert spoons of chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
Natural Yoghurt


I chopped the aubergine, sprinkled with salt and some fry light and then popped into the oven for 25 mins at 200.

While that was roasting I put some cumin seeds in with olive oil and let that get hot while I chopped the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger.  When the cumin seeds started sizzling I added the onions etc and the turmeric and ground cumin.

When the aubergine was finished roasting I added that to the rest of the curry, with the 4 tbsp's of chipped tomatoes and stirred it round.  I added the curry leaves and then about half the tub of yoghurt and seasoned with salt.
Whenever I've made this dish the yoghurt has split - I'm not sure if it's meant to, but I don't mind it doing that.  I left the curry to cook for another 5 mins and then served with a sprinkling of dried coriander and some bread... I forgot to buy naans!

I loved the flavours, but it was so hot I had to put extra yoghurt in to cool it down!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

La Tasca bloggers event

I am disgracefully late in posting this, due to breaking my phone and losing all the pictures I took. Very annoying...

So - La Tasca, my experience of the Leeds restaurant was that if you were in a group you'd get good service and if you were in a couple you were ignored - and I can't remember what I thought about the food.  Until the event last week it's not somewhere I would have chosen to go.

I opted to go to the event to see if they could change my mind, and to see what the new decor looked like.

We started the event with a Sangria lesson, on making La Tasca's Traditional Sangria, which uses Sangria Wine, Vodka, White Rum, Orange Liquor, Lemonade and fruit and then the Cava Sangria, which used Blackcurrant liquor, Peach Schnapps, Lemonade and Cranberries.  The lesson was very entertaining (you can see from Becca's picture below that we were all enthralled - I'm enjoying the Traditional Sangria here).

After the Sangria we were taken to the carving of the Iberico Ham. We were shown by a member of La Tasca staff how to carve, and told about the history of Iberico and then bloggers were given the opportunity to try it themselves.  I declined the offer, not wanting to sever any of my limbs, or my fellow bloggers.

We were then taken downstairs to eat.  I was really impressed with the downstairs decor - in fact I don't remember there being a downstairs before?

Upon being seated, tucking into some olives and being plied with more lovely Sangria the tapas started coming out.

Albondigas, Chorizo, Goats cheese ciabatta, Mixed bean salad, Patatas Bravas, Gambas Gabardina and more....

It was all lovely - not one dish wasn't of a high quality - but I'd expect that at a bloggers event in fairness.  After eating we were asked to score out of ten, Come Dine With Me style.  I think I went for an 8, which for a tapas meal is a good score for me!  I think the menu has changed quite considerably since I was last in La Tasca, it was concise - splitting dishes into From the Sea, From the Field and From the Garden, which I really liked.  I'd be interested to see how their paella stands up against mine or my Grandma's (who does the best Paella around).

I'll certainly be going back to La Tasca, particularly because people are now encouraged to sit at the bar, have some wine and a couple of tapas dishes as you would do in Spain.  What could be better for a Friday night after work drinks and some food?  I particularly liked the attitude of Declan, the General Manager of La Tasca Leeds, he was passionate, knowledgeable and didn't mind answering our numerous questions.

A big thank you to Manifest Communications and La Tasca Leeds for a lovely evening.

Here's some pictures courtesy of Claire - if you don't read her blog then please do check it out!

Cornucopia Leeds

On Sunday I was invited to the bloggers breakfast at the Cornucopia Leeds event held in the beautiful Corn Exchange building in Leeds.

The event was described as:

An event to showcase the finest food and drink producers in the North of England, from primary produce, fresh from the Autumn harvest, through to the most sumptuous of patisserie ....

So I couldn't wait to go and find out more.  It was quite hard not going in on the Saturday, particularly as so many of my twitter friends were raving about the stalls and produce on offer.

I arrived at the Corn Exchange at 9.30am and grabbed a table with Joe boy and Jo Girl of Food and Biscuits fame and dived into the food after a short guide on what each item was.

Breakfast Brownies from the Yummy Yank - these were delicious


 Brioche from Sunshine Bakery with Pudsey Pickles preserves (the Strawberry and Champagne jam was my favourite)

Nanaimo Bar from Fayre by Alley

 Cappucino from Primo's, but I think was coffee from Casa Espresso
Buffalo sausages from Tenter House Farm, with chilli jam from the chilli jam man - a great combination!

It was lovely to have the opportunity to try these, and to have a good chat with Rebecca about Cornucopia and other foodie stuff, and also to sit and chat with fellow food bloggers.

After I'd scoffed some grub I took a wander round the stalls.

I stopped to chat at the Yummy Yank's stall and check out these amazing layered cakes.  After that I was enticed to the flower stall from Ready Planted, and had a lovely chat about the importance of buying British flowers and where to buy the elusive cabbage rose that I want so much!  I was very tempted to buy some lillies but I don't have a vase at the flat, putting flowers in a pint glass just isn't right...

On my way round from there I stopped to chat with Edd from Swillington Farm, the blog post by Elizabeth on Swillington Farm's meat boxes is still attracting readers.

I couldn't go past Lianne's stall without stopping to take some pictures. Her Rose jam had been a big hit over the weekend, no wonder with such lovely presentation.

After trying the buffalo sausages I was intrigued to check out the stall and couldn't resist picking up some Buffalo Burgers, can't wait to eat them.  I also bought the EXTREME hot chilli jam as a Christmas present for my Dad - that'll teach him for putting hot pepper sauce on everything I cook....

The chocolates from Lauden Chocolate looked absolutely amazing, but I managed to resist buying any.  Likewise the fantastic looking Sausage Rolls from Sunshine Bakery - I walked quickly past to avoid being tempted by one!

The next Cornucopia event is a Christmas one 21st-23rd December at the Corn Exchange. I have my fingers crossed there might be a late night on one of those days so I can get along to it too!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Meal Planning Monday

Monday - Butternut Squash and Red Pepper soup
Tuesday - Jacket potato and cottage cheese
Wednesday - Lasagne & salad
Thursday - fajitas?
Friday -  blogger event
Saturday - curry
Sunday - vegetable bake, pork loin, mash

Haven't decided what curry I'll be doing on Saturday, I've been enjoying having veggie ones recently so perhaps a cauliflower and potato one?

What are you eating this week?  You can check out all the other meal planning entries on Mrs M's blog.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Distrikt Leeds

Absolutely ages ago I went to Distrikt for tea on a Foraged Monday with the wonderful Katie Buffalo, one of my favourite people in Leeds.  Here's a picture of us enjoying some sunshine...

Distrikt is a pretty cool place to drink, probably on the verge of being too cool for me, but I'd been in quite a few times regardless of worries I'm not cool enough.  It's always come highly recommended for food, but I hadn't ever eaten in there, so when they tweeted me and asked me to pop in that Monday I thought why not.

I wasn't sure if I should be announcing myself when I arrived, and nobody seemed to recognise me. I'll be honest - I breathed a sigh of relief that I could do a normal review, it's hard to be fully honest when you get a free meal.  I sat at the bar and attempted to pick some wine...

Now picking wine for me - it's fine, picking it for someone who also likes wine, but you aren't too sure if they'll like the same as you isn't fine.  In the end I picked.  I went and sat down and shortly after the wine arrived so did Katie.

We had the foraged menu brought over and picked a selection from that, and from the normal tapas menu.

Whitebait - whitebait is my new love since having it for the first time a few months ago, if it's on the menu then I want to try it!

Pitta and dips - I wasn't keen on the rose one but Katie liked it, and other people I've talked to have raved about it

Pork belly with peaches - I loved this dish so much, pork belly is a huge favourite of mine 

I *think* this was squid with chorizo

Chicken wings

I can't actually remember what this was - Katie help me out here - Crayfish?

We enjoyed our food, the wine and had a good old chat.  The Monday night atmosphere is really nice and relaxed, so I felt very comfortable and not as though I wasn't cool enough to be there at all.  As I can't actually remember what some dishes were a month later I think I'd better start making notes in future - bad blogger.

I went up to pay our bill and asked the lady who'd been serving us if she'd let the person who'd invited me down know that I'd been in. 

Oh dear.  She was the lady who'd invited me down.... Look of horror on her face, profuse apologies that she'd forgotten that I was coming in.... I realised I should have announced myself...

Rosita ushered me back to the table, brought over a couple more glasses of wine and told us some desserts would be coming out to try.  Well you can't refuse a free dessert can you.

The strawberries were delicious, and the cream in the banana was nice - but I regretting trying the banana - I know fine well I don't like warm banana, why oh why do I keep trying with it?  Katie enjoyed it though.

We headed off after these to North Bar for beers, which seemed a superb idea at the time but I fully regretted in the morning....

I'd definitely go back to Distrikt for food, on either the Foraged Monday, or on a Wednesday which is half price tapas night.  I love the fact that Distrikt source locally, from Leeds Market, and that the menu is seasonal and the foraged menu changes by the month.

Thank you to Rosita for the wine and desserts, and I'm sorry for the confusion of not letting you know it was me earlier!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Meal Planning Monday

It's that time of the week again....

Monday      - Leftover butternut squash curry
Tuesday      - stir fry
Wednesday - All you can eat chinese buffet for friend's birthday
Thursday     - Parents for tea
Friday          - Leek and Potato soup using parents homegrown potatoes
Saturday      - Spanish chicken stew
Sunday        - unsure yet, pasta and pesto if I don't get anything more exciting

Catch up with all the other Meal Planning Monday entries over on Mrs M's blog.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Butternut squash curry

I wanted to have something tasty and veggie for tea tonight so whipped up a quick (cheats) curry.


Butternut squash
Korma paste
2 small onions
Green beans
Cannolini beans (in place of chickpeas)
1 pint veg stock
Coconut milk


Heat the paste in a large pan while chopping the onions.

Add the onions to the pan and let them cook whilst chopping the squash.

Add the squash to the pan and then pour in the stock, the coconut milk and both sets of beans.

I cooked the curry for about 25 mins until the squash was cooked.


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Yorkshire Wine School

I apologise for being a bad blogger this week, life is really getting in the way.  I left my job yesterday, ready to start a new one on Monday, the last week has passed by in a complete emotional blur.

So, I have nothing to give you but a press release for an exciting new venture happening in Leeds.  I was invited to the launch but unfortunately have a prior engagement (oh what a social butterfly I am), I'd quite like to go along to one of these events though, and learn more about wine, so I'll be following on twitter and keeping up-to-date.

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Yorkshire’s newest wine school is expecting a fruitful launch

Wine lovers will have good cause to celebrate this month, thanks to a former Oddbins manager who is launching Yorkshire Wine School - running wine courses in Leeds, York and Harrogate.

Laura Kent, who lives in Wakefield, is offering two-hour evening wine tastings, all-day Saturday introductory sessions with lunch, and full eight-week courses - perfect for those who enjoy a tipple and would love to learn more.

The first confirmed venue for the school is the Radisson Blu Hotel in Leeds city centre, with further venues in Harrogate and York to be announced early next year.

The opening of the school, an independent wine education company that doesn’t sell wine, marks a new career move for Laura, originally from Cambridge, who will run the school as part of the network.

Laura worked at Oddbins for almost five years, and was the manager of the Newcastle city centre branch before the company went into administration in April. Suddenly faced with redundancy, Laura saw the opportunity to set up her own wine school, and to make a career out of her passion for teaching others about wine.

Laura said: “Being made redundant from Oddbins was a sad time - I had enjoyed working in several stores throughout the North East over the past five years. However, I have also been helping to run tastings at Newcastle Wine School for two years, and I really enjoyed sharing my enthusiasm for wine with others, so I decided that now was the time to take the plunge and put my experience to good use.

“I saw a gap in the market in Yorkshire to run a successful wine tasting company with a unique level of quality, range, price and location. The courses and tastings at the school offer a great opportunity to try new wines and learn a little more about the subject in a relaxing, friendly, informal environment.

“The school will provide the perfect way to meet other wine lovers living locally and I’m looking forward to seeing what people think of the range of courses on offer.”

Laura has taken the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma and is a member of CAMRA, so she will also be organising artisan beer tastings at the school.

The choice of courses will appeal to all wine lovers, from those with no previous experience of wine tasting, to the serious enthusiast. Laura also hopes to be running WSET courses next year - these qualifications are a 'must have' for anybody seriously considering a career in the wine industry and are also a great way to learn about wine in a concentrated and intensive way.

The school’s tastings and courses will focus on specific wine regions, grape varieties and countries. The eight-week introductory course will involve tasting wines from all major wine-producing countries, including France, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Australia and Chile.

Yorkshire Wine School is the 7th in the successful network, which has Wine Schools in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Lancashire, and Hertfordshire. Chris Powell set up the first School in Newcastle in 2000 and is now looking to open further new Wine Schools in Edinburgh and Bristol.

Chris said: “I am delighted to welcome Laura as the newest member of the Local Wine School network. I have no doubt that her experience at Oddbins and her enthusiasm and passion for the wine industry will help to make Yorkshire Wine School a great success.”

All courses and tastings are available to buy as gift vouchers and can be ordered online. For more information about upcoming dates, prices, and venues, please visit, or email

Follow Yorkshire Wine School on Twitter - @Yorkshirews
Like ‘Yorkshire Wine School’ on Facebook

Monday, 10 October 2011

Meal Planning Monday

It's the week before pay day so I'm trying to avoid a big shop.  That means a vegetarian/freezer week.

Monday -      Pork loin, mashed potatoes, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower cheese (at parents)
Tuesday -      meeting a friend for a drink after work, need something quick - pasta and pesto.
Wednesday - fishcakes, I have fish and leftover mash in the freezer to use up
Thursday -     Stir fry - noodles, peppers, babycorn, spring onions, soy sauce, ginger, chilli
Friday -         my leaving do from work, and pay day.  Liquid tea...possibly a pizza?
Saturday -     Curry
Sunday -        Roast chicken

The chicken that I have on Sunday will give me chicken for a couple of meals next week.  I'll also make some for the flatmate, if she's in.  I'll be getting a free range chicken, so it will be an expensive food shop.  I only buy free range chicken, so I usually only have it around pay day.

I'm unsure what curry to do on Saturday, I really like Paneer so if I can find some I might make that.  I need to do a trip to Leeds market for fresh veg and fruit so I'll look there and see if I can find some, if not it'll be a butternut squash one.

Lunches for this week will be salad, I have some cous cous in the cupboard so will make up a big bowl and flavour it with lemon and herbs.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Leek and Potato Soup

This is one of my favourite - and easiest to do soups that I make regularly.


Potatoes (I use roughly about 4 medium to small ones)
2 Leeks
salt and pepper

1L vegetable stock
1/2 pint milk


Chop the potatoes into smallish cubes and then chop the leeks.  Sweat them in a large pan in a knob of butter.  When slightly browned add the veg stock, season and simmer.

When the vegetables have softened blend the soup using a hand blender.  I like to leave it pretty rough so there's still some chunks of potato to enjoy.

Lastly add the milk, this thickens it a little and makes it a touch paler.  I use skimmed milk, but for a richer version use full fat.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Cauliflower Soup

This is another recipe I had up on my old blog, no pictures to go with I'm afraid.

1 Large cauliflower chopped into florets
1 Large potato chopped into chunks
1 Medium onion, chopped
1.2L Chicken stock
600ml Skimmed Milk
small tub of crème fraiche 
Salt & pepper


Chop the vegetables then tip the cauliflower, onion and potato into a hot pan of melted butter.  Let it sizzle then turn the heat down, pop the lid on and sweat for about ten mins, making sure you stir it a couple of times.

When that's done pour in your chicken stock, bring to boil, and pour in your milk. Bring to the boil yet again then reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 mins.

Next step is to blend, blend, blend till it's smooth!  

Lastly season to taste, add in the crème fraiche and heat back through ready for serving with some crusty delicious bread.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tomato Heart Soup

Another one brought over from my old blog - I made this soup last year when I had some tomatoes to use up and jazzed it up with some heart shaped pasta from Millies in Leeds.

1 clove garlic
1 onion
6 large tomatoes
1 Litre veg stock
spoonful of creme fraiche
grated cheese (if you're a piggy, like me)
3 tsp sugar
tiny splash of balsamic
cup of pasta


I chopped up all the veg and threw the onion and garlic into cook. When they'd done I added the tomatoes and sugar and left them to cook for 10 mins, with the lid on the pan, giving it a bit of a shake every so often.

I got a little bit wild at this point and threw in a splash of balsamic to bring out the flavour, then seasoned with the salt and pepper.

Next up I added in the veg stock and left it to simmer for 15 mins.  After that I blended it all, then added in my pasta and cooked for another 5 minutes till that was done.

To serve I poured it into my dish, and whacked in a generous helping of creme fraiche and a wee bit of grated cheese.  I had mine with some cheese on toast.

I didn't get a good picture of the soup in the bowl, but you can see from these pics how cute the pasta is.

Spiced Ginger Cake

I was looking through my old blog trying to find this recipe a while back.  One from the archives...

I loosely followed a recipe from Waitrose.


225g treacle
2.5 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp milk
125g soft dark brown sugar
125g butter (softened)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt


Get your oven on to 175, Gas mark 3 and then grease a small square tin (or a dish if you can't find your tin like me...) and then line the base of the tin with grease proof paper.

Pour the milk and the treacle in small saucepan and melt treacle into milk over light heat.  When that's done take off the heat and add the baking powder.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then gradually add the egg.

Mix in the treacle mixture from the pan to the butter, egg and sugar and then sieve in the flour, ginger and salt.

Pour into your greased tin and bake in the oven for 45 mins.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Auchentoshan whisky tasting event

Last weekend I was invited down to Nation of Shopkeepers to attend a whisky tasting event for Auchentoshan, a single malt scotch whisky, and to have a bite to eat.

Auchentoshan (pronounced Ock Un Tosh Un - not Ockytoshy as I was calling it several hours and several drinks later...) is a distillery up in Glasgow, and is the only single malt whisky to be triple distilled, bringing the spirit upto 81%, and is matured in casks that previously contained bourbon, sherry or fine wine.

The press release explained:

Auchentoshan is a whisky that’s targeted at guys and girls who enjoy the finer things in life but who might not have tried aSingle Malt before. With packaging and branding that are contemporary and sophisticated, it’s increasingly the choice of those who want to be educated and knowledgeable about the contents of their drinks cabinet. As a whisky that likes to do things differently, Auchentoshan triple distils every single drop, making it the smoothest and most delicate tasting Single MaltIt likes to work alongside and support like-minded creatives who choose to push boundaries in their fields.

So to the event...

I arrived at Nation of Shopkeepers, feeling uncomfortable as always as I do in there - I have never been, and never will be, cool enough to feel at home in there.  I ordered a diet coke at the bar and upon paying asked where I should be for the event.  That sparked some confusion in the staff and after one staff member asked another, who I assumed to be in charge of sorts, I was told to "stay there, someone will find you" in a rather offhand and unfriendly way.  If I'm honest I nearly left at that point, had it not been for Katie (Leeds Grub) arriving I would have walked out.

We sat down and after half an hour or so of chatting Katie asked again at the bar, she was given similar offhand treatment, but luckily a representative from the whisky tasting stepped in with a friendly greeting and things eventually got moving.

We had some food, the less said about that the better - the picture below says it all, and then went outside for the event.

While we were having the food we were given a couple of the Auchentoshan and ginger ale drinks to try.  I'm actually a brandy drinker, and I always drink that just with some ice, whenever I've had whisky I've had it in the same way, so it was interesting to try it.  I wasn't sure at first but it really grew on me, I could see myself drinking this on a night out rather than the usual vodka or gin.

We sat down at the tasting and the table filled up quickly, I'd guess the other tastees were all university freshers, but they were game for trying it and asked some good questions.

We started off with the Auchentoshan Classic which had hints of vanilla and citrus, we were told to swill it round in the glass then slowly take 4 sniffs to get the scents rather than a nose of booze fumes, as you repeated the process the scents developed more each time and I could really smell the vanilla.

Next up we tried the 12 years old, which had more of a nutty and toffee taste.  If I've remembered correctly this one we were told to pop our hands over the top of the glass and then splash some of the whisky on it, then pop the glass down and rub your hands together and then smell, this really brought out the different scents.

Last up we tried the Three Wood.  This whisky is matured in three different cask types, bourbon, Spanish sherry and then Pedro Ximenez sherry.

This was my favourite of the three (and also the most expensive, typical for me!).  It had a strong depth of flavour and was really moorish.  I could easily have had three or four of these.  The butterscotch sweetness was just right, not too sweet, just to give a hint of the flavour.

I really enjoyed the event, and I'll be looking out for the Three Wood to buy as a Christmas present for my Dad, not because I want to try it again of course....  The tasting really opened my eyes to whisky, a spirit I never normally bother with, and I'd love to try some more in the future, particularly now I know some tasting techniques!

Sorry Katie, couldn't resist popping this one up!