Monday, 29 May 2017

MPM: 29th May 2017

Ah, bank holidays. I take these extra days of rest very seriously, to the extent that I have not bothered dressing today. Here I am, on the sofa, in my pyjamas. The cat, who is having a bath beside me, approves.

That is not to say that I have entirely slothful: I have baked bread, made Caesar salad dressing and a quick Asian style pickle, all for tonight's tea. All this lying around makes a girl hungry.

The diary is pretty empty this week so plenty of meals at home. We've ended up with chicken twice next weekend but that's ok - we like chicken. I may flip Friday and Saturday's meals if I'm feeling energetic enough to cook on Friday night.

Monday: Caesar salad to start with, followed by a steak bahn mi. Yeah, I'm not sure what the theme is either. We've never had bahn mi before, but we're loosely following this recipe which sounds delicious.

Tuesday: fast day - soup

Wednesday: tomato and ricotta pasta bake. I've got in mind to try and recreate the baked Ziti dish that I ate from Sbarro back in the days when I lived near a Sbarro. I don't believe that they have any UK branches now.

Thursday: fast day - soup

Friday: chilli con carne (freezer diving at the end of the working week.

Saturday: D's choice - an Ottolenghi recipe from his "Jerusalem" book: chicken with caramelised onions and cardamom rice.

Sunday: Chicken ballontines with spring veg and hasselback potatoes.

Have a good week all!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Mr P's Curious Tavern, York

I wrote a post about the lovely Skosh a couple of weeks ago and failed to mention the other York venue that we visited that day which is equally worthy of note.

Andrew Pern is the holder of one of Yorkshire’s six Michelin stars at The Star Inn at Harome. In recent years he has started to extend his empire, and back in 2013 opened The Star Inn The City in York which I think (checks archives) that I have written about here. It’s a bit more accessible in terms of price and style than the mothership and was a very welcome addition to the York restaurant scene back in the days when not a lot seemed to be going on. Now, Mr Pern has opened a second York venue: Mr P’s Curious Tavern, and it was to here that we repaired on a sunny Friday lunchtime at the beginning of May.

It has to be said though, we were labouring under a slight misapprehension – based on the name, we were expecting a pub, and popped in for a pint and, perhaps, a sandwich. It is not a pub (even if it does boast an impressive bar with a be-yoo-tiful array of gins) rather, a restaurant serving what our waitress described as “Yorkshire tapas” which description I quite like, although I suspect many Spaniards may object strongly to the cultural appropriation. We left having consumed rather more than we were expecting (although certainly not as much as we could have done), and not really minding a bit.

The highlight was probably the potted confit duck – as the name suggests, this was gloriously rich but the richness was admirably countered by the fruit and nut topping which also added an interesting textural contrast to the silky pate.

Also recommended are the great big crispy, salty rings of calamari with an unbelievably moreish seaweed salad cream. I can never resist fried calamari when I see it on a menu and these were well handled.

The d├ęcor and the way in which the food was described and subsequently presented was quirky and kitsch which I personally find appealing but, I suspect, could be highly irritating to those who favour clean lines and white linen. Such people would do well to steer clear (and perhaps take themselves off to the slightly more ascetic sensibilities of Skosh). For the rest of us, there is much to enjoy here and hurrah to Andrew Pern for finding more ways to bring his celebrations of Yorkshire food to us Yorkshire foodies.

Mr P's Curious Tavern
71 Low Petergate
01904 521177

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Recipe corner: An Ottolenghi yoghurt dressing to see you through the summer

It may seem odd to add, to the distinguished archives here on WW Foodie, a recipe that essentially a salad dressing.  For a start, the instructions are pretty much, “Place stuff in a blender and switch on”.  But I wanted to make a mental note of this particular dressing because D and I have come to the conclusion over the past few days that it is one of those things (like bacon, butter and cheese) that makes EVERYTHING taste better.

It’s an Ottolenghi recipe and he serves it as an accompaniment to leek fritters (the recipe can be seen in full here – the fritters themselves are lovely).  But we’ve drizzled it over salad, used it as a dip, added a dollop atop a pile of tagine and couscous and it just perks it all up.

D’s lunch today is a box of somewhat dubious looking cold leftovers – even these, he reports, are delicious when accompanied by a swirl of the magic green sauce.  So, with barbecue season fast approaching, I think that this might be one to have in the fridge at all times for splatting, spreading and dunking purposes.  The below makes one healthy sized batch that seems to keep quite happily in the fridge for at least five days. 

Cook’s notes: the raw garlic does make it quite punchy (perhaps avoid eating before a first date) but I see no reason why you couldn’t add a green chilli into the mix for some additional heat.  We used a Kenwood mini processor to make this – a kitchen gadget that I could not be without as it is perfect for chopping and blending small amounts is easy to use and, importantly, easy to clean.  Highly recommended (although please note that they do not sponsor me.  I’d quite like to be sponsored and provided with lots of lovely free stuff because I have no shame but Kenwood most definitively do not.)


100g Greek yoghurt
100g sour cream
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp salt
20g roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
30g roughly chopped coriander leaves
Open blender (or food processor).
Insert ingredients.
Close blender. 
Ensure blender is plugged in.
Press button to blitz.
When the whole is a uniform green, check the seasoning and then set aside ready for use.

Monday, 15 May 2017

MPM: 15th May 2017

I feel quite aggrieved that it is Monday morning already – I am sure that the weekend wasn’t long enough. Mind, what there was of it was very pleasant – I caught up with my Mum over coffee, got an overdue haircut (more of a mow when you have a curly mop like mine), watched the Masterchef final (Alison was robbed! Robbed!,) and Eurovision (the UK was robbed! Robbed!) and did some cooking.

Our feast of asparagus on Saturday night was absolutely gorgeous. As well as the frittata, D made a batch of asparagus soup from this recipe which I would highly recommend (but with the addition of a pinch of white pepper at the end to make the flavours really sing). Making asparagus into soup has always felt slightly sacrilegious but this was enough to convert me.  D removed the tips, as suggested in the recipe, and we roasted these separately and served them drizzled with an intensely flavoured garlic and herb yoghurt dressing. Gorgeous.

This week is shaping up to be just as yummy. One thing though – the weight loss has definitely stalled a bit recently; there have been too many missed fast days, too much laxness on non-fast days and my daily hops onto the scales have dwindled which is always a bad sign. So today marks a bit of a reboot: I want to make it into that elusive next stone bracket which is 4.3lbs away – a couple of good weeks could see that off. Game face on!

Monday: Fast day – soup

Tuesday: We have lamb left over from Sunday’s slow roast shoulder, so I am going to do an approximation of this Nigel Slater lamb and apricot tagine and serve it with couscous and a drizzle of the remaining yoghurt dressing from Saturday which should add a bit of zing.

Wednesday: Fast day – soup

Thursday: I’m out for the evening, so we’re going to freezer dive for a pot of something that we can eat early. Not sure what this will be yet but we’ve definitely got some chilli in there, some curry and some moussaka so plenty of options.

Friday: I’m making mackerel kabayaki which is a dish that I ate out recently and adored. I’m planning to serve it with sushi rice and a carrot, ginger and sesame salad – all new to me and it’s probably not at all authentic to bung them all together but I think it sounds tasty.

Saturday: D is cooking pork with risotto and a sage and walnut pesto in an attempt to use up some of the sage that is currently taking over the back of our garden.

Sunday: Sausages (homemade, from the freezer), mashed potato, red onion gravy. Perfect Sunday fare.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Recipe corner: A spring frittata

I always think of frittata as the slightly coarser cousin of the omelette. An omelette, to my mind, is a delicate, buttery thing with minimal ingredients. A frittata is far less rarified and a fantastic way to showcase whatever produce happens to be in season (or lurking at the bottom of the fridge). I once read that it is not the done thing to treat a frittata like eggy waste disposal but (and I feel the same way about pasta bakes) sometimes throwing in whatever you happen to have on hand produces a thing of great beauty and, even if it doesn’t, it will be perfectly and agreeably edible.

For all that, here a little bit of advanced consideration has been applied to produce something that sings of the season. I first saw a recipe for this particular combination in a Waitrose magazine, but have tweaked the method slightly to suit.

Cook's notes: if you asparagus is very slender, you probably don’t need to worry about pre-cooking it but we've been getting some MONSTER stalks here. You could switch out butter for oil if you don’t want to faff around with melting it but I do happen to think that when butter and eggs are brought together, good things are bound to happen. With regards the herbs, I used dill because I love it, but any of the softer, milder, greener herbs (parsley, basil, even mint) would also work – your rosemarys and sages and thymes would probably overwhelm. Your frittata dish could be a large, ovenproof frying pan or a cake tin (NOT loose bottomed) would work fine - I plumped for a 24cm Le Creuset pie dish which was PERFECT.


250g new potatoes, thickly sliced
Bunch of asparagus
15g butter
Tsp dill
Heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
6 eggs
75g Gruyere cheese, grated

Serves 2 - 4

Heat the oven to 180 (160 if, like ours, your fan oven is somewhat enthusiastic).

Put the new potatoes in a large pan, cover with cold, salted water and bring to the boil over medium heat.

Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends and chopping each stem into 2-3 cm lengths. Set a large bowl of ice cold water to one side. Once the water has come to the boil, set a timer for 6 minutes and, once it goes off, add the asparagus to the same pan for a further minute. Then you can drain and put straight into the cold water to stop the cooking.

Melt the butter (the microwave is probably the easiest option for this). Using a pastry brush, thoroughly coat the inside of the dish.

Drain the vegetables, pat dry and evenly distribute across the bottom of the dish.

Whisk the eggs, season well and stir through the mustard and the herbs. Pour over the potato and asparagus mix and then place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove, sprinkle over the cheese and return for another 15 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbling and the frittata is cooked through.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Skosh, York

Long-time readers will know that, up until 2012, D and I lived in the beautiful city of York. Although we are now settled in our little corner of North Leeds, it took a long time for me to stop missing my former home. But one thing that Leeds always had going for it over York was the food scene. Beyond the myriad of chain restaurants (presumably there to provide a sense of the familiar to York’s massive tourist population) and the plethora of pubs, there weren’t that many places that I’d recommend to a foodie friend. And the fact that our beloved J. Baker’s Bistro Moderne closed its doors not long after we left seemed like a sign from the universe that our move to Leeds was the right one.

Now, though, it seems as if York is beginning to up its foodie game. Andrew Pern is extending his city empire (of which more in a later post), there is a fabulous looking little street food market tucked away near The Shambles and Skosh has opened its doors to the paying public. As soon as we read Jay Rayner’s rapturous review, we knew that we had to go, a conviction only strengthened by the fact that the head chef there previously cooked at another late lamented friend, Van Zeller’s in Harrogate.

Skosh is situated on Micklegate, home of the Micklegate Run – a string of pubs in close enough proximity that hen parties minimise the risk of falling off their heels while they stagger between them. I would not let this put you off – you generally can’t move for hen parties in York and there is little danger that they will teeter their way into Skosh.

If you were a cynical sort, you might think that the people who designed the place did so by ticking every current trend box they could think of. There is the open kitchen at the back where the chefs toil away in full view of the diners. The menu of small plates rather than courses. An ironic take on an item of fast food. A multitude of global influences. But the minute you actually start to eat, all is forgiven. Because the cooking is really rather wonderful.

We started with a hen’s egg apiece – cheesy froth covering bosky mushrooms and a brief, sour kiss of vinegar. It was the only one of the dishes (according to our waitress) which did not particularly lend itself to sharing and I for one am glad that we got one each – we used our fingers to clean the inner shell of every last delicious smear. Oh, and talking of finger licking – the Skosh fried chicken with brown butter hollandaise was utterly fabulous; if everything was served with brown butter hollandaise, the world would be a better place.

Having had a slightly later and larger lunch than expected, we tried to be restrained with regards ordering but couldn’t resist a dish of mackerel and eel “kabayaki”, one of several dishes which nodded towards Japan. The fish was sticky and sweet and a joy in its own right, but became still further elevated by a swipe through the delicately saline oyster cream. It was undoubtedly a good choice but now, reading back through the menu as I write this, I mourn slightly that I missed out on crisp lamb belly with charred hispi and sumac, and chargrilled octopus with black olive caramel to name but a few.

On to “afters” and we simply couldn’t resist one of the two savouries on offer – a toastie with Baron Bigod brie, winter truffle and pickled turnip. Goodness, but this was a perfect combination. And, finally, a chocolate moelleux accompanied by a miso caramel ice cream which was so good that it reduced us both to silence (and more plate licking). If you are a fan of salted caramel than I urge you to try miso if you see it pop up on a dessert menu – it might sound slightly peculiar but it is utterly delicious.

So there we have it – an excellent new addition to the York restaurant scene (thank you, Mr Rayner for the tip off), which, judging by the busy, buzzy atmosphere when we were there is going down pretty well. Great news for York – and the perfect excuse for those of us who miss the place to travel back there even more regularly.

Monday, 8 May 2017

MPM: 8th May 2017

Hello friends! It seems daft to open posts with apologies for going a bit quiet, especially when the Internet at large probably neither cares nor notices when the lights of the WW Foodie temporarily go out. My Mum has been texting me asking for blog posts though so…

I do, in fact, have things that I want to say including a couple of gorgeous meals out recently and a fridge bottom pasta bake that turned out to be a thing of such absolute beauty that it needs recording for posterity. But before all that, let us turn our attention to meal planning since it is, of course, Meal Planning Monday.

As is so often the case recently, it is not a long plan. There’s two fast days in there and a night when D is out and so I’ll be home alone (I think there is some tortellini in the freezer which I will toss in butter, Parmesan and black pepper – bliss!) But what of the other nights?

Tuesday: Smoked haddock and leek fishcakes. Don’t know much about this dish – D is in charge. I am making him cook smoked haddock and leek fishcakes because a few weeks ago we went out for my father in law’s birthday. We went to a pub for dinner and D ordered at the bar. I requested smoked haddock and leek fishcakes and, for some reason best known to himself, he ordered me scampi. It was not the end of the world since I am quite partial to scampi, but scampi is not smoked haddock and leek fishcakes. So this week’s fishcakes are recompense fishcakes.

Thursday: A freezer dive – most likely chilli con carne which I will accompany with rice and cucumber in herby yoghurt.

Saturday: Asparagus night! I am going to make a delicious sounding asparagus frittata which also makes use of the new season potatoes, and D wants to do an asparagus whip. I also think some sort of lightly dressed salad will be in order, with raw asparagus shavings. We will follow this seasonal feast with some little cups of lemon posset.

Sunday: Slow cooked shoulder of lamb on boulangere potatoes. We’ve been making this recipe for years and it never disappoints. Some sort of green on the side (I quite fancy the idea of doing a petit pois a la francais which is basically peas and shredded lettuce lightly cooked in stock).