Thursday, 18 August 2011

Cookie by Name, Cookie by Nature

So it's a sunny Sunday in London. Myself and three of my best friends find a table on the top of Covent Garden market outside Chez Gerard. The Pinot is flowing and we put the world to rights in true Sex and the City style. We managed to smuggle in a few sweet treats in the form of Ben's Cookies. YUM. I love the distinctive Quentin Blake illustration on the packaging and the hand drawn lettering.

Friends, wine, cookies and laughs = the perfect Sunday. Even if it did mean a rather bad head on Monday. Oh well. You only live once.

Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych

As part of a friend's hen do in London recently we went for afternoon tea at One Aldwych, a five star modern hotel in Covent Garden. Light, sleek and luxurious with lots of glass and huge floral displays protruding from palm trees in the lobby, this was very different to the afternoon tea experiences I've had so far.

We had a long table for nine and were handed the tea menu as we sat down and served water in sparkling glasses. Those of us drinking champagne were brought beautiful flutes of bubbles and we all said 'cheers' to the hen.

The food was served on cake stands as you can see in the photo with a selection of finger sandwiches, asparagus and duck egg, scones with cream and jam, Eton mess, treacle tarts, chocolate brownies and strawberry cream cakes. Lots of sugar! The most impressive part for me was the Pimms jelly served in a long shot glass complete with small skewer of fruit on top.

Priced at £35 for the champagne package this was about an average price for afternoon tea in London. We were there for two hours and were suitably stuffed rolling into black cabs outside the hotel to go back and get ready for the Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.

Next stop is afternoon tea at The Ritz to get some full on chintz and old school charm at round tables with silver tea pots and floral crockery ;-)

Monday, 8 August 2011

Salmon & Super Food Farfalle

The first new pasta dish this evening was a success. I chose farfalle pasta and cooked a light fish sauce with:

Olive oil, garlic, onion, sea salt and black pepper
2 x salmon fillets
1 x courgette
1 x large handful spinach
1 x large handful watercress
1 x small handful flat leaf parsley
1 x tub Weight Watchers creme fraiche
Freshly grated parmesan for two

The pasta was cooked to packet instructions. The garlic and onion were softened in the olive oil then I added the courgette. The salmon fillets were then added along with the spinach and watercress. Once the salmon was almost cooked I cut it into chunks in the pan. Then on went the creme fraiche and the parsley and the mixture was heated through until the salmon was ready. The farfalle was then drained and everything mixed together and heated through in one pot.

I served it with freshly grated parmesan and black pepper. Enjoyed by one hungry, slightly sweaty husband returning from football.

Mission Pasta

You know how sometimes you just get on a mission to do something? Well my current mission is to cook with every different type of pasta available in the supermarket.

I cook with linguine and penne almost every week so they are off the list. First in the shopping trolley tonight were:

Orzo
Farfalle
Tripoline

All best pronounced in an enthusiastic Italian accent. Watch this space.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Tomato & Chilli Pasta

I bought some 'Lumaconi' pasta from the Sainsburys Taste the Difference range at the weekend. The pasta is shaped like mini conches and really lends itself to the chunky vegetable sauce I made on Saturday night.

After chopping lots of cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, red pepper and spinach, I cooked them up with some olive oil, red wine and dried chilli flakes. Realising I didn't have enough chopped tomatoes for the whole dish, I poured in some of this Pizza Express Arrabbiata sauce. It was very tasty and all together provided just the right amount of kick.

Topped with freshly grated parmesan, this dish got the ultimate seal of approval; husband found eating the leftovers straight from the pan in the kitchen.

Romantic Dinner Table

A lovingly prepared dinner deserves to be eaten at a beautiful table. With this in mind we always have flowers in the middle of our dinner table. It's also a way of bringing the Cath Kidston effect into our home a piece at a time.

This week we have yellow and white roses purchased courtesy of Tesco's summer voucher exchange. I swapped a £5 clubcard voucher for £10 to spend on flowers. As well as the roses we have a striking lilly and iris bouquet in a vase by the front window giving our home an extra sprinkle of kerb appeal.

Channelling Popeye

I cannot stop eating spinach! It is the new must have food accessory in our house as it goes with absolutely everything. Spinach in salads, spinach in pasta, spinach in curry, spinach in sandwiches, spinach in soup. Sometimes I just reach in and eat handfuls of the green leafy super food in the same manner as crisps.

At this rate I fully expect to be displaying Popeye sized muscles by Autumn.

Beautiful New Dining Chairs

I'm totes in love with this new pair of dining chairs we bought recently. Every time I walk into the room they bring floral pleasure to my eyes. In fact, they are so beautiful I'm having second thoughts about all the fancy dinner parties I'm planning as I don't actually want anyone to sit on them.

These beauties are from Dining Room World and were £250 for the pair. Worth every penny!