Saturday, 30 November 2013

Omar Allibhoy and The Rice House - La Arroceria

I have mentioned before how hard 29 year old Madrid born chef, OmarAllibhoy is working to get Spanish Tapas into every home and I was very pleased to be invited to his pop-up evening meal a ‘La Arroceria’ held at a great place in Chiswick Park (Maggie & Rose a private members’ club) and concentrating on rice the staple of many Spanish villages.

We were given a drink of Sangria (or two!) on arrival and waited in anticipation to see what culinary treats Omar had in store for us!

Omar came out of the kitchen to introduce us to the menu and the significance behind it and then disappeared to produce some really mouth watering and tasty dishes.

It is hard to get a photo of Omar in focus as he never stands still!!
Rice is a popular ingredient in Spanish cooking, not just for the traditional Paella.  Arrocerias or Valencian Rice House which are now all over Spain are where you can pre-order rice dishes to take away.  Omar wanted to show us the versatility of rice with different types of rice dishes e.g. dry (arroz seco), brothy (meloso) or soupy (caldoso).  We sampled four rice dishes including Omar's signature Paella from Valencia (Paella Valenciana)

Our starter was delicious featuring a huge grilled, garlicky prawn (Gamba a la plancha) as well as garlic bread, what Omar called a tomato dip (Salmorejo) and thin slices of ham.


Along with the starter we were offered a black pudding and goats cheese salad (Ensalada de morcilla y questode cabra) - My friend Val loved this but goat's cheese is the only cheese I really don't eat!

Omar carried out huge pots and pans of each of the following courses such as this one a squid, prawn and squid ink rice (Arroz negro).

I had never tried pasta or rice with squid ink before and probably won't again although I do appreciate the chance to try it.  It was a bit 'inky' for me but was perfectly cooked and elegantly presented!

Seafood Paella (Arroz a banda) was the second dish and this time I really liked it.  I frequently order Paella when we are in Spain and am rarely disappointed and certainly was not with this one!

My favourite Paella of the evening was Lobster Rice (Arros caldoso con bogavantes), this really floated my boat!

And for the grand finale - Valencian chicken & rabbit paella (Paella Valenciana)!

And then to round off an already sumptuous meal we were treated to a sweet surprise indeed.  This dessert was a sort of custard but without any milk or cream and if translated it is called "Fat from Heaven" custard (Tocinillo de cielo)

All that fantastic food came out of a relatively small kitchen!

Check out the size of that paella pan!
I was the guest of La Arroceria with my friend Val and we both thoroughly enjoyed our evening. Good luck for your future Omar!

Surprise Suffolk Family Pub Lunch

I love alpacas and after seeing a TV programme about an alpaca farm in Suffolk I wanted to visit the place on our weekend visit to my daughter who lives in Ipswich with her husband and two sons.  I contacted the alpaca farm through their Facebook page and they said come on down we are open both days.

Well we were very disappointed with the welcome we got, we didn't feel welcome at all and left looking for somewhere to get some lunch.

We had passed a few interesting looking pubs on the way to the alpaca farm and on the way back chose the Kings Head in Yoxford completely by chance.

We couldn't have been made more welcome and it seemed we arrived just in time!

Within the next thirty minutes the dining area filled right up and I would say when the locals fill a dining room for Sunday lunch it must be good!

The staff looked after us really well and made a fuss of the children making sure we had everything we needed for them.

For starters we ordered a baked camambert cheese with onion chutney and placed it in the middle of the table with a plate of extra bread slices.  It gave us all something to nibble on while we waited for the main courses.

The food was locally sourced where possible (eg Suffolk ham and more).

The food and fun we had follows below:
"I can cut it myself Nanny, I don't need help!"

Boy G happily munching on his child's meal whilst mum has some camembert

Mr R waiting patiently for his lunch

Liver and bacon with mashed potatoes and onion gravy - Mr R's favourite!

Local Suffolk Ham, Egg & Chips

Chicken Breast wrapped in bacon with BBQ Sauce and topped with cheese

Long as I am eating I am happy!

Sunday Roast Pork

Master Cheeky!!

Serious son-in-law!

Lunchtime Heaven - Liver & Bacon and a fresh pint of Adnams bitter!
If you are in Suffolk, north of Woodbridge and the A12 I would recommend you try the Kings Head in Yoxford for some excellent food and some lovely draught beer from the nearby Adnams brewery in Southwold.
If you are travelling from a distance I would recommend you book for Sunday Lunch - you can ring them on 01728 668871 or email them.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Winter Warmer Recipe Challenge - Sausage Casserole and Cheesy Two Mustard Potatoes

Boy it's been cold outside and the perfect weather for a sausage casserole winter warmer recipe.

I was set a challenge to come up with a warming winter recipe using a selection of products sent to me by Unilever.  My recipe is a Sausage Casserole with CheesyTwo Mustard New Potatoes

As I was the winner of a sausage casserole competition recently and the prize was a new stock of sausages and bacon I naturally thought of making a different sausage casserole for this challenge.


Sausages get popped into the cast iron frying pan and browned on all sides. I put them into the casserole whilst I cooked the onions and bacon.

As most of my meals start with onion and garlic and a glug of olive oil, I sautéed some thinly sliced onion and minced garlic. 

Into the frying pan I added three onions, peeled and sliced and cooked until browned along with one packet of back bacon cut into chunks. 

When these were ready I added them to the casserole with the sausages.


In the frying pan I added Knorr beef stock pot and Knorr beef gravy pot, 1 Tbsp tomato puree, 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1 Tbsp Bovril and when warmed through I added it to the casserole.  Towards the end of the cooking I will be adding a good glug of red wine!


Into the oven, covered at 180oC for about 35-45 minutes.  If you want to thicken the liquid at this point you could add some gravy granules.
To serve this I boiled new Charlotte potatoes (unpeeled) and cut into pieces and when soft I drained them. 
Back into the cooking pot (the residual warmth helps keep the potatoes warm and the butter to melt) and added 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, salt&pepper and a little bit of milk.


After taking them off the heat I added some grated cheddar cheese and then added 1 Tbsp Maille wholegrain mustard and 1 Tbsp Maille Dijon mustard with honey.
The above was served with carrot batons and made enough to serve four.

I received a hamper of goodies from Unilever but was not paid to write this recipe.  All recipe and opinions are my own.











Thursday, 21 November 2013

LactoFree - lactose free cooking

I was recently invited to an event by Lactofree who make a range of lacto free products now widely available in supermarkets around the country.  The event was held at one of the premises of L'atelier des Chef the fashionable London cooking school.

I wasn't really sure what lacto free meant but it was soon explained. Milk, cheese, butter etc contain lactose and this can cause gastro-intestinal reactions in some people.  People who are lactose intolerant suffer symptoms of nausea, stomach cramps and bloating. Lacto intolerance is the body's inability to produce enough of the enzyme lactose which helps the natural sugar (lactose) be digested properly.

L'atelier Des Chefs cooking school in Central London provides a range of classes and this includes lactose free classes.

Lactofree make a range of products such as whole and semi-skimmed (fresh and UHT) milk, butter, cream, cream cheese, hard cheese, ice cream and fruit yoghurt and on the evening we were able to try cooking with all of the products at different cooking sections ready for us.

I was very pleased to find that there was no taste difference in these products and to test I asked Mr R to make the coffee over the following couple of days and not tell me if he used Lactofree or regular semi-skimmed milk.  I was not able to tell the difference!

I took my friend Val with me - she's always up for some cooking fun.

First of all scallops which were pan fried in the Lactofree butter.

It's also great when you get to meet up with fello blogger friends.

A creamy curry sauce using Lactofree double cream.

Lactofree cream cheese on tiny blini pancakes with smoked salmon slices.


And finally turning cupcakes into mini creations with piped whipped cream cheese, mmmm tasty!

Even if you are not lactose intolerant it never hurts to leave it out of your daily cuppa from time to time.  I will be buying it in the future. Thank you Lactofree for my goodie bag of great products. All opinions are my own.