Food Glorious Food

Food Glorious Food
Please sir, can we have some more?!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The first day of the rest of our lives recipe

Following on from my interlude with Peter Gabriel, i've decided to dice with good intentions and create a sure fire winner of a recipe that will make sure i'm healthy but full in the Winter months. Especially in all this snow, it must be 4 inches at least outside my front door...

This recipe is a firm favourite in the Hard-sworth Household for it's meaty taste
(with or without the sausage - leave it out if your'e veggie you won't miss it), and filling texture. It's cheap, not particularly time consuming and packed full of goodness. It keeps well for up to a week or so and it's good to transport to work for lunch. If you struggle to get your 5 fruit and veg in , then this soup is a pit stop check box...

Sausage & Lentil Casserole Soup

Serves 4; Approx 7 WW Points (+ 4 for bread roll)
Prep: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 1hr approx


1x tablespoon Olive Oil
2x Crushed Garlic Cloves
1x Large onion diced
1x celery stick sliced
6x carrots cubed
half swede - cubed
half 500g pack of red split lentils pre soaked if required , read pack
4x medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
800ml Knorr vegetable stock
4x pork sausages
Flat leaf parsley
Salt & Pepper
1x tablespoon mild chilli powder
1x tablespoon cumin seeds
lemon juice to taste


Place the sausages on a baking tray in a prelit oven, Gas Mark 6 for 30-35 minutes untill cooked through.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a large pan and add the garlic, onions and celery, saute for 2 mins

Next, add the potatoes, swede and carrots and the chilli powder, saute for 10 mins, adding a little water if required to prevent mixture burning/ sticking. Add Cumin seeds and Salt & Pepper.

Saute for another 5 mins then add 800ml of your chosen vegetable stock, bring to the boil and keep it bubbling for approx 20 minutes.

Next, add the lentils and simmer for a further 5 minutes

Remove the sausages from the oven and cut into slices, the thickness of a £1 coin, add to the broth and simmer for a further 5-10 mins untill thickened and the veg is cooked and the mixture takes on some flavour from the sausages.

Taste and season as required, a squeeze of lemon juice adds bite.

Serve in large bowls with warm, crusty bread and a scattering of flat leaf parsley.


If you have any other warming soup recipes, you'd like to share on the page, then feel free to leave a comment. They'd be most appreciated.

I wanna be a sledgehammer

As human beings, we find inspiration in the most unusual of places, and today i take comfort in the words of Peter Gabriel. Please stick with me on this one...

As i lay in my bed feeling very much under the weather and wondering how i managed to put on more weight whilst following the weight watchers plan, the lyrics to 'I wanna be your sledgehammer' turn vivaciously around my skull..

'You could have a steam train if you'd just lay down your tracks...'

My Eureka moment had finally arrived aged 26 and a half years old on a snowy Tuesday afternoon in late November.

Yes, i just discovered that the reason for this rollercoaster effect that has often featured in many aspects of my life, not just my up and down weight, was that maybe my framework was a little off and maybe, just maybe i haven't quite 'lay down my tracks', i haven't even given myself a chance really, I just seem to expect results straight away.

Well with a clearer mind and a worn out ipod, i set about looking at my meal planner to start. I try and do a meal plan every week that will cater for Rob and I with our differing tastes and wants, and i decided that this week's will be different.

It's difficult to live a dual existence. One half of my personality ( I call this my heart), is very much an accomplished foodie, a soul that is never happier than when sampling some home cooked goodness, cooking for a crowd, or dining out in the newest restaurant to celebrate or to hunt for that certain je ne sais quoi...

However this calling, this certain disposition most common in Taureans similar to mysef, does not come without it's antagonisms.

The other half of my personality, the Jekyll to my Hyde, and often referred to as my Brain, often tells me that food isn't the be all and end all of life, that there are other activities to find enjoyment in such s para-gliding, wind surfing, skydiving, mountain climbing, sailing and walking. I've often believed that were i to give this side of my personality a running chance, no pun intended, i could be a dedicated outdoors type, grazing on organic produce, taking in fresh mountain air and holiday bliss would consist of the Swiss Alps and French Ski slopes with spur of the moment purchases more likely to be salopettes than a double chocolate chip cookie.

If i lay down the tracks less haphazardly and if i include a switch so the train can change direction every so often, i think i'll find a more balanced life before me. Taking everything in moderation rather than burning myself out before crossing the finish line is key. I just never expected Mr. Gabriel to be the catalyst in this experiment.

First stop - the meal planner, 'one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind' etc...

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Glory of Yorkshire ( Whitby as the gem in it's crown.)

There's nothing quite like a trip to the seaside to get away from the constant ringing of phones, the ping-pong game of emails and some very tense looking shoulders.
A few weeks ago, Rob and I decided we needed a break, and we couldn't have been luckier with the timing of our trip to Whitby!

Upon arriving at the corner guest house, near the Kyber Pass, the sun was beating down upon us, seagulls chirping away merrily and the smell of good old fish 'n chips filled the air. We went straight to our room- An amazing Georgian four poster, bed affair oozing with romance ;), we unpacked and then headed out to get some of that fine sea air we've been pining for, for some time now.

A trip to the beach for some frisbee, and some serious shopping on the west side of the harbour later, we were quite hungry so decided to stop for a jacket potato with chilli and a Prawn Sandwich at The Pier Inn ( which we later realised was a bit of a dive - see above)and then at a lovely little patisserie called 'Marie Antoinette's' for a cake and coffee fix.

As you can see above, the cakes sparkled like sugary jewels amidst an aroma of strong coffee and cream - we had fallen helpless and so ordered some treats to give us energy for the much anticipated exploring ahead.
Rob ordered a cappucino and a Strawberry baked cheesecake, and I ordered a Mocha and a 'tarte au citron'. Both were completely out of this world and should be made illegal, so as not to intoxicate others with the high from their sugar and cream content. The coffee's were absolutey perfect, and decentley priced at around £2.00 each. The taste of my 'Tarte au citron' lingered long after the cheesecake and had a perfect balance of fruity, zingy and sweet! Heaven.

We picked up the pace for a walk through the abbey and museum and up those 199 steps, before stopping for yet more tea in the YHA at the top of the climb. Rob was getting a little sunburnt and we were both yearning for a bit of shade, so called it a day around 6pm, after much tea and even more walking to chill out at our lovely B&B for a few hours.

Our first thoughts, upon awakening after a brisk power nap was 'Where shall we go for dinner?' Being our first night in Whitby, the answer could have only been ' The Magpie Cafe.' quite possibly one of the most popular restaurants in Yorkshire, let alone Whitby. We eagerley turned up around 8pm and queued for a respectable 20 minutes out the door, before being seated to a lovely, quiet corner table with a harbour view. The first thing that struck me was the fact that the seat was still warm from the previous customer- certaintly not a bad sign, the second was that the waitress was a down to earth- yorkshire lass, with a great sense of humour and a happy to help attitude.

The smell of such a traditional seaside dish as 'fish n chips' had been driving us crazy since we arrived, and so our obvious choice of main was Magpie's small Haddock and Chips with a good helping of mushy peas. It states inside the menu just next to the word 'Small' that customers should; 'remember these are yorkshire portions, so leave some room for desert..'
Quite right! There was nothing small about the feast that arrived at our table around half an hour later, these were indeed yorkshire size and every bit as glorious as you'd expect! I ordered my Haddock without the skin on because I can not bear skin on fish, and was advised from our waitress that it would dry out the fish a little bit- i didn't believe them, and when it arrived I have to say i was not in the least disappointed, the fish was still the juiciest i've tasted and full of ocean flavour!The flesh and batter combo were just heavenly- Yummy! The Maris piper chips were cooked to perfection, although as usual there were far too many to eat and that's coming from a Yokshire lass. Rob's Haddock was cooked with the skin on and when I sampled some of his, it flaked off the fork it was sooo juicy!

I should have mentioned we'd ordered starters, just to put you in the picture.
I ordered Whitby Scallops with Asparagus and Pancetta and Rob ordered a delicious Whitby Crab Salad with a tart Marie Rose sauce. Yummy again! Both dishes were unbelievably fresh and well balanced in terms of flavouring. This banquet was washed down with a few glasses of beer and their house white wine, which was very crisp and cleansed the palette as well as rendered me utterly 'tipsy.'

Unfortunately and in the interests of personal safety there was no room for desert, not even space to share one, so we both rolled out the door of Magpies ready for a drink or two in 'The Shambles' Pub over the bridge.
It was 'Alternative' night in the pub and loud renditions of 'Audioslave' were pumping out of the speakers as goth's and oaps mixed together in unison. What a perfect end to a perfect day!

Breakfast at our B&B was included and served pretty darned early, so we rose and shone at 8am to make sure we got in on the action.
We awoke to some scrambled eggs and simply gorgeous smoked salmon washed down with about 4 cups of coffee and some fresh orange- good comination of brain food, protein and vitamin c to kiss goodbye to the dreary effects of alcohol the night before. And we were off, ready to start the day, beginning with aboat trip along the river Esk and into the harbour, then the mouth of the sea. The sun was out in full force as the waves lapped at the boat and the temperature was soaring to 28 degrees. Tranquility and calm descended upon us and we took in the view of life ashore, remniscing about what it could have been like in the old days and what life as a fisherman could be like.

The day held much promise and lived up to all our expectations.
Activities included sailing away down the river, taking in some great views on the Pier, walking around the quaint little streets and shopping till we dropped, picking up some real bargains along the way. We had lunch in 'Gatsby's' which looked quite cool and art-deco from the outside, with pics of Rita Hayworth, The Rat Pack and a few classic Marilyn pictues, but we were let down by the choice and I settled for a Chicken & Mozarella Pannini with some coleslaw, and Rob had a Prawn Cocktail, both were bland and overpriced. Not worth much more blogging space to be honest.

We then frolicked around on the beach some more, playing frisbee and dipping our toes in the freezing water!
The temperature may have dropped a few degrees at this point. We decided to take in the glory of the seaside amusement arcades and went for a few goes on slot machines and '2p' machines. Rob also won me a powder blue teddy, affectionatey named 'melons' as that was the branding on his tag, we liked it and so, stuck to it. We played crazy golf and bowling as well as shot a few hoop of basketball, before it was time to go back for a powernap again. The beauty of a break is not feeling guilty for taking a powernap- which i often do at home, because i feel like i should do some washing, or tidying etc.

Later that evening, we were on the hunt for a foodie experience along the same lines as the night before in Magpies.
Rob is in no way a fan of indian food, or so i thought, untill i mentioned either going back to Magpie's again or trying 'Shafiq's- a recommended Pakistani Indian restaurant on the east of the river.
We fancied something different, so i decided to persuade him to give it a try- my word were we glad we did.
The service was exceptional, although the waiting staff seemed to shy away from talking to me for some reason and prefered to serve Rob first, i wondered if it was cultural, so need to look that up.
In terms of the food, we ordered the following;
Starters; Lamb Chops and a King Prawn Butterfly in Tandoori spices.
Mains- Chicken Jalfrezi with egg, Chicken Makhani and shared a Mushroom Pilau rice. To accompany these dishes we ordered some Poppadum, a pickle tray and a Peswari Nan. For drinks we had the most delicious house chardonnay i have ever experienced- again i need to look up what it was called, and some Cobra beers.
The whole meal was like erotica for the tastebuds- and thats an under exageration. The butterfly king prawns were the biggest and juciest i have ever seen, mixed with lime, chilli, curry paste and ginger- this was perhaps the highlight of my foodie life. I doubt i will ever taste prawns that divine in my life. My curry was fragrant, warm and earthy and Rob's Murkhani was sensational. A mild, nutty cury with pistachio and almond at the core of its palatte.

I can not describe the euphoria of that meal, and i swear we are not on commission. At just over £50 for two this place should be the reason people go to Whitby. No joke.
Again, laving with full, happy stomachs and having bonded over some particularly wonderful topics of conversation, we sauntered off into the night for another evening of drinks, heat and walks along the pier.

I was on the phone to my mum telling her about the restaurant when the sight of the looming, peach sun stopped me in my tracks.
Never before have either of us seen such a perfect sunset ( not even on a trip to Goa) as we did that night. The splays of coral and peach shimmerring accross the ocean as the sun sank into an aquamarine cocktail.
This was an incredibly private moment and whereas i'll share my food thoughts with you, matters of the sun set are a completely different matter.

Just make sure you pay a visit to Shafiq's next time you're around and from there, the magic just brings itself.

The next morning, and our final morning in Whitby, we awoke again for breakfast. Rob had scrambled eggs again ( He's much more well behaved than me) and i had a hearty full english! It's absolutely ages since i enjoyed the naughtiness of this breakfast and so i enjoyed every last morsel of pork, eggs, tomatoes, beans, mushrooms and crispy hash browns, all washed down with another cups of coffee and some freshly squeezed orange juice. What a way to start the day! I admit, my heart was beating faster than usual, yes, but thats nothing another trip out to sea couldn't sort out!
More shopping and sea faring continued in the sweltering heat untill it was just about time to board our train. Just before we did, we stopped for a banana milkshake and a ginger beer in quite possibly the gem of the trip! A little bikers cafe just next to the station called 'Whistlestop Cafe', which had countless bikes outside and long haired, leather donning legends!

One thing's for sure- Whitby is one of the most characterfull places i've ever been and it's cuisine might not be the healthiest in the world, but there's a point of difference to this place, which made us glad we hadn't just forked out £500 each for a package holiday to the Greek Islands.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Here's one we made earlier

The bitter snow and treacherous ice of late has been the talk on everyone's lips, Oh, well that and the fact that Leeds United beat Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in potentially a decade at the weekend.( Come on you whites...ahem)

It's at times like this when the weather is cold and we've got the shivers that we need a little something to warm us from the inside ( I know the Leeds win was indeed heart warming, but i meant something that's much better for the soul...)

Having been ill with flu like symptoms for over a week now and not having had much time to go shopping, also feeling reluctant to order home shopping at the risk of it not arriving in these blizzards i needed some help- fast.

I was in need of a pick-me up that wouldn't break the bank, so i looked to a trusted favourite and cupboard staple of the Hardy family's for decades- the Patak's Curry.

Now, i have been to India before and sampled many a delicious curry over there- including a particularly fragrantand wonderful Goan curry.
I have visited a few good curry houses in Leeds before owned by Asian families or industry men that know what they're doing when it comes to spicing things up, i've even attended a friend's wedding at a Sikh temple where the tradiotional curries and dahls was part of the buffet- incredible!
You wouldn't necassarily think you could get that kind of authentic quality when it comes to supermarket bought curries would you, that is untill you've tried a Pataks Curry my friends.
(I promise i don't have shares in Pataks or work for their PR Team)

Since i was 15 years old and Curries (What us Brits thought were proper Asian curries anyway) came into fashion in a big way, my mum always used to buy Pataks curry paste.
I never knew why she didn't just buy us all an indian take away or buy a jar of sauce, because it turned out she was making it wrong for years- Mum used to put a measely spoon of Pataks paste in and vastly wrong quantities of water as well as green peppers and carrots mixed in with chicken or lamb, so what was produced was very watery curried soupy- rice. ( We still ate it because we knew no different)
It wasn't untill years later after i had my first proper curry at Akbars in Bradford that i realised she'd been doing it wrong and that curry was supposed to be quite saucy, firey and hot.

When we made it the next time i made sure we followed the jar instructions ( at least 1/4th a jar of paste mixed with tomatoes and water) and left out the carrots and peppers and what came out of this wonderful purple, exotic jar was absolute heaven to me.
Nearly every hung over Saturday evening i managed to nurse myself well again with one of Mum's fab curries.( I don't think their Vindaloo is half as spicy as it should be, and they are all generally milder than the more authentic ones in general-but they managed to sweat the booze out of my pores anyway!)

Since i've left home now and have to fend for myself- whenever i have a curry craving and i can't quite stretch to a full blown indian banquet from the local take away, i keep a few jars of different curries in from Pataks and get my fix that way.

Favourites include a Pataks Chicken Madras with pilau rice
( Veet do a good microwaveable one for around £1.35 if you can't be bothered to buy your own turmeric, saffron and cardamom to flavour your basmati rice, or even better- but more calorific is the Uncle bens microwave pilau rice which is a bit more expensive at around £1.60, but seems to have a bit more of a kick to it- both serve 2)
Pataks Lamb Rogan Josh with Basmati Rice and a Peswari Naan from Sharwoods
Pataks King Prawn Balti with Mushroom Pilau Rice and a few onion bhaji's ( Sainsbury's are bang on)

Best Naan range and Chutney range ) lime and mango varieties) as well as great pickles go to Sharwoods

Best Saag Aloo goes to Sainsbury's or M&S- in fact Lidl had a geat one last week for £1! Bargain

The pickle tray and Naans, Chappati's or Poppadoms and other accompaniments are optional, and we usually only eat them on special occassions or when friends come over to help.

The moral of this story is that you need to make sure you always have a jar of Pataks in, some good quality chicken breasts, handful of onions and a can or two of chopped tomatoes so that when this blizzard like weather strikes or you have a curry craving but no money, you won't spend the rest of your days crying into a chapati, with nothing to fulfill your eastern needs and the slum dog millionnaire sound track on repeat as you rock yourself to sleep in a corner wearing a blanket and sucking your thumb.

This is, admittedly not a swanky restaurant review, nor is it an advert for Patak's curry pastes and sauces, but it is a good, honest food review for when you're on a budget or having a lazy day.
Pizza and chips aren't always the answer to everything when times are tough financially and you can't be bothered cooking too much.

I'd choose a curry any day, and if i was pushing the boat out, i'd probably go for a more authentic one, but if all else fails, there's always a Pataks.