In the Kitchen

Feeling Special On Mother's DayOoh, I love Mother's Day. It is the day that Husband really steps up his game. The kids, well Moozles anyway, is thinking about all the presents she would like to 'buy' for me. And Dubz, well, Dubz is trying to figure out how he can get some more superhero toys. But anyway, I don't require diamonds or a Michelin-starred restaurant. But it makes me happy that my family make a little fuss over me. So I thought I would share some things that will be making my Mother's Day a bit special.

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Family Lunch at No.1 Duke Street

We eat out at least once at weekend, and we're always on the lookout for a great family restaurant. We are quite lucky to be spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants in south west London. But I am still always on the hunt for restaurants that our whole family will love. Besides delicious food, you need gracious service (that isn't slow) and comfy seating. Last weekend, we were lucky enough to find all these things at No.1 Duke Street in Richmond upon Thames.

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Korean BBQ at Han in New Malden

We had the in-laws visiting this weekend, and they kindly offered to babysit on Saturday night. The first thought whenever we get the offer of babysitting services is 'cinema or new restaurant?' Since we were feeling too tired to sit in the movie theatre for two hours, we decided to go to a restaurant we've been keen to try out. So we went to Han restaurant/karaoke bar in New Malden.

If you live in/near New Malden, you will know that it has the highest concentrated Korean population in Europe (around 20,000) and is even referred to as Little Korea. I have been wanting to try Korean barbecue for ages, but Husband and I have been intimidated to go as we had no idea what we were supposed to do or what we should eat. We have both been to Han before (but separately) for karaoke with friends/colleagues. Han is known for their great karaoke rooms and it's a popular spot for groups who don't want to go into central London to sing their hearts out (plus it's open til 1.30am on a Saturday night).

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London For $150

London is known for all its wonderful attractions and sights, beautiful buildings and fabulous restaurants. But it is also known to be an expensive city, to live in and to visit. But how much do you think you need for a fun, and busy day out? Armed with $150, which converted into £116.52 that day), last weekend Husband and I set out to see how much fun our $150 could buy.

First stop - Selfridges department store on Oxford Street. Oxford Street offers the best of shopping in London. Selfridges is a beautiful place to shop, and has a lovely food hall to boot. But you don't need to spend a thing. Just enjoy some window shopping. On the fourth floor, they have a Travelex desk. We picked up a Travelex Multi-Currency Cash Passport card. Basically you can order online (which is cheaper than doing it in the store), and get a debit card for the country that you're in. It's the modern-day traveller's cheques. There's a pin and you feel secure if you lose it. Also, you can put a certain amount of money on the card, which would be great when you're budgeting. ...continue reading

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Tea for Two at Harrods

For Christmas, Husband was given a voucher for a cream tea for two at Harrod's. But since The Georgian Restaurant was booked up during all the Saturdays in January, Husband kindly gave me the voucher so that I could take a friend. So today, one of my mummy friends and I went for an early tea while the kids were at school. If you've never been to The Georgian before, it's a beautiful restaurant. And there is an enclosed terrace on the side which feels quite relaxed while still elegant.

I have previously had the afternoon tea at The Georgian. For £39 you will be served tea, sandwiches, cakes, scones and a trifle. But on this occasion we had the cream tea, which is quite economical, considering the opulent surroundings. For £15, you can have tea and four small scones. The scones were delicious. And as it was lunchtime, we also ordered the Truffle & Parmesan Fries. My friend is partial to the combination of truffle and parmesan (she regularly has it on her popcorn) and adored the fries.

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Our Vegetable ChallengeOkay, there's something I have to admit. Husband and I eat a lot of meat. Like every night for dinner. And we always say we should try and have a vegetarian-based dinner once a week (like Meatless Monday), and every week we fail. So when ao.com asked us to eat six vegetable-based meals out of seven days, I was excited for the challenge. Husband was not. And even suggested that I was a bit crazy for accepting the challenge. Hmph. 

So the week before Christmas, we said 'see ya later lamb, peace out pork, and bye bye burger'. And we filled the fridge with vegetables. Lots and lots of vegetables. And since Husband is the superior cook in this relationship, I handed him the recipe cards and wished him good luck.

From top to bottom, here are some of the delicious vegetable-based dishes we enjoyed: spiced root vegetable soup; spiced vegetable biryani; tofu and asparagus pad thai; and mushroom, spinach and potato pie. We enjoyed them all, but the biryani was my favourite. Not only was it delicious, but it was extremely filling.

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I love cookies. And one of my favourites are pecan sandies. I have an old recipe from this blog which I've amended slightly to make them a bit festive and turn them into Winter Walnut Cookies. These are probably the most loved cookies that I have ever made. People eat them and make lots of 'ooh ahh' noises, and then they are snaffled up in minutes.

Winter Walnut Cookies

Walnut Sandies
225g salted butter
65g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
250g all-purpose flour
100g chopped walnuts
25g icing sugar/confectioner's sugar/powdered sugar (for later)
 

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla, salt and flour until well-mixed. Add walnuts. Roll into cling film and chill in refrigerator for at least two hours, but you can leave it up to one month.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 165C/150C fan-assisted oven. Shape dough into balls and bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool down for 5-10 minutes, then roll in icing sugar (although I've specified an amount of icing sugar, I just throw some in a bowl). You can store these cookies for up to five days in an air-tight container. The recipe makes about 35-40 cookies, depending on the size you make them. I like them a little smaller so I can just pop one straight into my mouth. Hmmm. ...continue reading

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Sunday Roasts Every Day!

British people love a Sunday roast dinner. And I love a roast dinner too. What's not to love? Yorkshire pudding? Good. Meat? Good. Vegetables? Good. Stuffing and mashed potatoes? Good. Giant parsnips? Good. The only problem is that you normally just have it on a Sunday. But at Toby Carvery, you can have a roast every day. Every. Day.

Now the crazy part is that I had never been to Toby Carvery before. Even crazier? Husband had never been before either. So last week I got a break from dinner preparations and dirty dishes, while the four of us went for a roast dinner. On a Wednesday.

The first thing I liked was that after ordering our drinks, we were able to go get our roasts. This meant no waiting around while the children got hungry and grumpy. The second thing was that we all enjoyed our food (which was plentiful). There is nothing more annoying than going out to eat but having to give the kids a snack when we get home. And third, the cost was quite reasonable. For two courses each, plus alcohol for the grown-ups, the bill came to £42.

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A Night At Rossopomodoro & John Lewis Kingston

As a Stay-At-Home-Mum, I sadly don't have a work Christmas party to attend. But luckily as a blogger, I sometimes get invited to Christmassy events. Last week, the lovely people of John Lewis Kingston invited me and some other bloggers for an evening of crafts and yummy food.

Now, I am not very good at crafts. But give me some Cava and I am happy to have a go. We all had a good laugh and got a chance to chat before dinner. If you haven't been to John Lewis Kingston recently, they have a new pizza restaurant: Rossopomodoro.

If you've never been to Rossopomodoro before (there are 11 restaurants - nine in London, one in Birmingham and one in Newcastle, they make the yummiest pizza straight from Naples. You can even watch as they make the pizzas (and there are pizza-making parties for kids). We all shared some olive and sun-dried tomato breads. And as I had been before, and eaten the pizza, I tried the seafood pasta. We were all too full for dessert but finished the meal with more Cava and some mint tea.

If you're after a nice, and not slow, family meal in Kingston, why not pop on over to Rossopomodoro. The kids menu is a great deal (£7 for two courses and a drink). And you'll love the pizza, I promise.

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I was invited for a meal and a craft for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

 

A British ThanksgivingThanksgiving Day in the USA is the fourth Thursday of November. In the States, the Thursday and Friday are public holidays so it is a time to get together with family and friends, whilst eating more food than humanly thought possible. As an American expat, we normally celebrate Thanksgiving the weekend before or after, whenever we can squeeze in five hours of cooking and eating.

We had our Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend. A traditional American family dinner, with some European touches. We of course had a whole turkey (very difficult to find a fresh one at this time in the UK, but a frozen one is easy to get), sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes. But in honour of my British husband and half-British children, we also had Yorkshire puddings and parsnips. And this year, we embraced the French culture by forgoing an American green bean casserole for Provençal Stuffed Vegetables.

So why have I included a French dish into my American-British meal? Well, Tesco recently asked me to join in their Festive Food Swap, and promote the fact that you can find world foods so easily at Tesco. I love that I can pop into my local Tesco and get everything I need for an international meal. Besides lovely festive foods from around the world, like stollen bites, mince pies and panettone, you can also find such British treats like traditional fruit cake, Christmas pudding and mince pies.

A British Thanksgiving

I was a bit worried what the kids would think (they aren't even that fond of American food, bar burgers and hot dogs). But my daughter loved it, and had seconds of the stuffed tomatoes. My son, who is three, refused to try any (but he wouldn't even try the parsnips and sweet potatoes, hmph). Husband and I loved the stuffed aubergines and courgettes (that's eggplant and zucchini to my American readers). Not only was it easy to make, but it was delicious.

Thank you to my fellow blogger, Muriel from French Yummy Mummy, who sourced this recipe from Mirabeau en Provence and then shared it with me. If you would like to make it too, here is the recipe.

PROVENÇAL STUFFED VEGETABLES

Ingredients: 4 tomatoes, 2 aubergines, 3 courgettes, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, herbs de Provence, 1 clove of garlic, 300g pork mince and 300g beef mince. (serves four)

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Wash and dry vegetables. 
  • Cut the tops off the tomatoes and spoon out into the flesh.
  • Cut the courgettes and aubergines in half, lenghtways. Spoon out the flesh.
  • Rub the vegetable boats with salt and olive oil.
  • Combine the mince in a mixing bowl, with mustard, finely chopped clove of garlic, 1 tbsp herbs and salt and pepper. Once mixed, fill the vegetables with plenty of meat.
  • Bake on a tray in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on your oven.
  • You can add goat's cheese or mozzarella towards the end of baking so that it melts nicely (we used cheddar cheese).

This dish is supposed to go well with rice or salad and crunch bread. But we thought it went well with our Thanksgiving dinner. Bon appétit!

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I was invited to swap festive recipes with other bloggers for the purpose of this post. Tesco has given me a box of goodies and a giftcard to help with groceries, but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.