Life is so hectic. I spend the weekdays rushing around after the kids. And even if I have free time, it is spent on errands and laundry (apart from the occasional break to watch The Real Housewives, heehee). The meals that I cook for my children are made quickly, and easily. Then on Saturdays we normally have a family outing and eat out. Sundays are my favourite day. It is the day we try not to make plans. We have a slow day, where we have fun at home. We play puzzles and Lego, Moozles does her homework, we watch an afternoon movie. And then, oh then, we eat.
One of my favourite British traditions is that of a Sunday Roast. Meat (usually lamb, but sometimes beef or pork in our house), potatoes (roasted or mashed), some kind of green vegetable and Yorkshire puddings (even though they are traditionally served with beef, my family loves them, especially my son who demands them with every roast).
This weekend we had a family lunch in east London to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday. I love trying out new restaurants so I was eager to visit Formans Restaurant in Hackney Wick. The restaurant is located in the H. Forman factory (they are the oldest curers of salmon in Britain). The factory was designed into a salmon-like shape (see my last photo).
Ooh, 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.
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.
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).
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.
Okay, 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.
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.
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
I love the Southbank. Besides the wonderful views, there is a lot of fun and culture to be had there. This week there are free activities at the NatWest Family Fun Zone, including story telling, face painting, magic shows and various workshops. We went yesterday and Moozles and Dubz had loads of fun. They had their faces painted, went on a Pigby Trail and made Pigby pigs in the Aardman Animation workshop.
There are also blank cards which can be decorated and you can write messages for the kids at Evelina London Children's Hospital. Pop into the dome, located on the Riverside Terrace, from the 17-24 December 2015, but please try and leave a donation for the hospital. It is the season of giving, after all.
While at the Southbank, there is lots to see and do. You can mooch around the lovely Christmas market, enjoy the street performers, take a ride on the vintage carousel or have lunch at one of the many family-friendly restaurants. If you're a NatWest customer, you can get 20% off at Strada until the 24th December (just show your bank card), as well as a few other restaurants at Royal Festival Hall. You can also get 10% off at Foyles bookshop (great if you haven't finished your Christmas shopping) and a discount on the BUMP Roller Disco.
We had lunch at Strada, one of our favourite Italian restaurants. I love their pasta, but I had a pizza craving so had the Parma Pizza while Husband had the Pumpkin Caramelle. Both were beyond yummy. The kids' menu is such a great deal. The kids get a starter, main, dessert and drink for only £6.50. And they are nice and full afterwards.
So if you're thinking about coming into London this Christmas break, why not pop into Winter at Southbank Centre with NatWest for a festive fun time?! Just set aside 45-60 minutes for the Natwest Family Fun Zone and time for a family lunch.
We were invited to visit Winter at Southbank Centre with NatWest and have lunch at Strada for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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.