Tag Archives: Food

Hello Fresh

The tag line for Hello Fresh is ‘everything but the chef’. Their hope and aim being to take the hassle out of cooking, delivering you ingredients for recipes, that you merely have to assemble.

What could go wrong…

Well, on the first night, prepped with making a simple stir fry, I pour boiling water all down myself.

I demand a refund!

Of course, I write this in jest, though maybe they should consider an ‘idiots box’ and actually send a chef with each delivery, aimed at people as incompetent as me.

The stir fry itself, titled as double satay was a perfectly acceptable meal. It had a lovely peanut taste as advertised. Ingredients were of decent quality, though the Bok choi was unusable, in that there was hardly any of it.

The Thai basil sent with the box gave a lovely citrus undertone to the dish. Like using lime, but with more a fragrant flavour and something I shall look for more in my future cooking ventures.

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Not a looker, but it’s hard to dress up a stir fry!

 

 

Next up, aubergine and chickpea tagine. I had gone for the vegetarian box by the way, as the options on offer were more appealing to me than the classic box; I’m no veggie however!

A dish like this, hadn’t even entered my consciousness in terms of possible meals I could make; mainly because I don’t own a tagine! This is definitely something I like about Hello Fresh, in that, if you’re ever bored or losing inspiration with your recent dinners, you’re bound to get some new, creative ideas, in ordering a box. The fact you can create your very own cookbook by amassing your favourite recipes, is equally appealing.

The dish was easy to prepare and satisfying in terms of taste and most definitely in satiety! One of the first dinners I’ve had in a long time that has made me forgo my nightly tea and biscuit(s) ritual (that’s right, I know how to live it up!)

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I’d like to apologise for the shoddy cameraship* of this post. *I’m aware this isn’t a word.

Ingredients like the dried apricots and flaked almonds for the tagine and Thai Basil in the stir fry dramatically enhanced both dishes. It’s nice to see, ingredients that can’t be considered essentials included by Hello Fresh, showing that they are not scrimping on money in exchange for quality or flavour.

I did have a few gripes with some of the fresh ingredients received in the box. A half-rotten onion, slightly soft pepper and a quite pitiful portion of Pak Choi would make me consider re-ordering. However, I think the pros outweighed the cons.

Easily pleased I know, but coming home to find a Hello Fresh box on your doorstep, was quite exciting. Maybe a student shouldn’t derive such joy over what was essentially a box of vegetables, but hey that’s who I am now, that’s what I’ve become!

The final dish left to prepare was ‘A virtuous vegetarian curry’; though I pimped it up by adding some chicken. If I had one word to describe it, ‘virtuous’ wouldn’t be it. I’d probably plump for solid; though I can see it contains none of the alliterative attributes or effusive qualities that Hello Fresh were looking for, when searching for an adjective!

The yellow curry paste was mild, without lacking depth. Maybe I’m a carnivore who has gone past the point of no return, but I feel without the chicken I added, mushrooms, green beans and corn would have been inadequate to cull the yearning that is my appetite come dinner time. When I see a curry served up, I become tunnel visioned and in this curry induced, sleepwalkesque state, I don’t have a picture of the finished dish to show. Though presentation has never been a strong point of mine, so you’re not missing match there… as you’ve seen!

 

Using a free gift voucher I received with something I had ordered*, Hello Fresh was definitely worth giving a go and something I’d keep in mind to do again. However, at the usual price of £36, which feeds 2 people for 3 dinners, I feel is a little pricey. Personally, I could spend £5 or £10 more for a whole weeks worth of shopping.

Anyhow, I enjoyed all 3 meals, so I would recommend giving it a go if you can and thanks to Hello Fresh for the voucher (not that it was an entirely altruistic gesture I’m aware!)

*Salt, for the nosey of you reading)

Sometime over the festive period (hopefully) I shall be releasing my very own E-book, based on my travels and subsequently eating whilst on my travels this summer, so keep your eyes peeled!
Of course I will bombard you with reminders when the time nears.

Thanks for reading, Alex

The New Angel restaurant review

Now on a student budget, the frequency of visiting fine food establishments has slowed to a snails pace (presumably a snail not too fussed with how its grass is prepared). However, with John Burton Race back in London and his new restaurant, ‘The New Angel’, offering 50% off, my foodie instincts kicked in and I had to book.

Having been seated by a clearly accomplished waiting team, the menu and breads followed quickly.

I went for an onion and potato bread, followed by a soda bread. The onion variety was a little charred on top, giving it a slightly bitter and unwelcome aftertaste. Though the sweetness of the onion was very pleasing. The soda bread was beautifully soft and trumped the onion and potato.

Look at the aeration on that!

Look at the aeration on that!

After ordering, an amouse bouche was quickly served; a mushroom soup with a parmesan tuille. In terms of amouse bouche of mushroom soups that I’ve had in the past, this was probably the finest (surprising amount of competition there). Really deep, rich pure mushroom flavour. The tuille I felt was a little stale and had to revert to the uncivilised, yet welcome practice of dunking.

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For starters, I decide to shun the advice of the maitre’d (very good he was by the way) of going for the salmon, instead opting for the scallops, served with onion bhaji and pickled vegetables. Beautifully cooked and presented, if perhaps a little small. I felt however that there could have been a little more of a curry hit in the curry elements and a bit more pickle in the pickled elements. Still a pretty solid starter. Let’s go for a 7/10

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Choosing a main was nigh on torture (albeit being nothing like torture). I would have happily eaten all of the mains offered (aren’t I a  saint) and had to place my trust in my sister to choose for me, as I was that pathetically indecisive. Her verdict being the pigeon with savoy cabbage, a truffle and madeira sauce, with a mushroom and foie gras tart.

The smell emanating from the dish was just lovely. The pigeon was succulent and perfectly pink. The skin wasn’t crispy, instead melted away to gamey deliciousness. The sauce was deep in flavour of madeira and truffle, balanced perfectly. While rich, it was harmonious with the dish. Savoy cabbage was a nice accompaniment; can’t really say much more about that! But the best thing about the dish and in fact the whole night (barring the company of my sister of course … she paid!) was the mushroom and foie gras tart. Delectably smooth foie gras, worked perfectly in the crisp tart shell, with the earthy mushrooms finishing off a wonderful mouth feel (whatever that means!).  It was a most enjoyable dish. To parallel the theme of indecisiveness here, I can’t decide between an 8 or 8.5/10.

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Dessert was aesthetically stunning; a strawberry and lemon mille fueille, with raspberry sorbet and italian meringue. I almost felt bad taking my first spoonful (well, not quite)… then I tasted it. Ooh, just lovely. Fresh, light, indulgent; all words that I look for in any dessert!

It was a tad hard to eat, with the mille fueille taking a little persuasion to break free and I felt there could have been a touch more zing in the lemon element, but I’m knit picking. The italian meringue was of the highest quality, putting my own attempts to shame. The real pleasure of this dessert was the number of different combinations, making each spoonful interesting. From the texture of the crisp millie fuille with the varying creams and meringues around the plate. The flavours of raspberry and the marshmallowesque of the meringue. 8/10

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Coming in at under 30 quid a head, including a glass of wine, ordered out of a fear of looking cheap by my sister, represents very good value for money. I feel if I were paying full price (£55), perhaps an extra amouse bouche and or a pre – dessert, would have sweetened the deal (pun intended).

Not that I have any power, influence or even credibility, but I’d give it a Michelin!

Thanks for reading.

Like, comment, share if you wish, you know the drill!

Nearly made it to 2000 views on my blog, so thanks to anyone who has pushed that number up (I’m sure even my Jewish mother couldn’t have done that by herself!)

May be reviewing the Taste of London festival in June (though don’t hold me to that).

I will post a special review (well for me anyway) at some time in August … Osteria Francescana. So you all have that to look forward to!

Thank you

My week of food heaven; revisited

So, I blogged last week about how I was going to treat myself, to live in a haze of pure food ecstasy for a week. 

I ate well yes, but wasn’t the best food week I could in visage, missing a few inclusions that weren’t possible to, well, include. 

A trip to a top restaurant would have been there, a visit or two to my local south Indian (Sai Mantra), which serves perhaps the tastiest food I have ever eaten. Maybe an afternoon tea to top it off.

But being a university student, and thus on a university student budget, my week of food heaven was a rather watered down version.

Still, I ate pretty well most days.

I started with a lovely, fresh fillet of Cod. Pan fried and served with spinach and a caper butter. 

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The next night was the star of the show/week. A lovely breast of duck. My all time favourite meat. Because of the high esteem I hold it with, I kept it very simple. Simply rendered the fat until it was nice and crispy in a pan and finished in the oven for 5 or so minutes. Slicing into it and finding that glow of pink rare meat was particularly satisfying. Of course don’t forget the seasoning.

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I served with a very fresh, tasty asian salad. I mixed fish sauce with lime, sugar and soy. Add chilli, spring onions and pepper (veg). Then fresh rice noodles and tossed. Very much recommend and worked nicely with the duck.

Craving the salty, sour, sweet salad again and with some leftover ingredients left in my fridge, I made it again. This time I very quickly fried some thin strips of chicken and spiced it lightly. Took me about 10 minutes to make this and was just very tasty.

I then headed to the comfort foods. A big serving of bolognese. Can’t go wrong, say no more!

 

Finally, another of my favourite salads;  the recipe you can see in my backlog. Giant couscous, roasted veg, caramelised walnuts, beetroot – bliss.

My supplies started to dwindle slightly and the rest of the week faded into territories not worth blogging about. 

Also, made some bread rolls for lunches. Best lunch I had though was spicy scrambled eggs. Onion, chilli, spring onion, tomato, eggs, cumin – really satisfying and a good way to use up things in the fridge. 

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So, what would your week of food heaven consist of. Would you go for those comfort classics; bolognese, shepherds pie, basically any mince based dish. Or splash out on luxury ingredients and visit your favourite restaurants?

Let me know. 

Thanks for reading

Like, comment, share; you know the drill!

 

Week of food heaven

Seeing as though I spend very little on alcohol (and when I do, it is for red wine, to use in my spag bowl), I have a fair amount of money leftover in my weekly budget. 

Having eaten fairy well so far this term, I thought I could step it up a notch. 

So my week (in food) will consist of duck breast, cod, spaghetti bolognese, Schnitzels, perhaps even a curry

I was thinking of rubbing my duck with five spice and serving with a fresh asian rice noodle salad

Serve my cod with puy lentils; possibly make a red wine sauce

 

Any ideas, suggestions as to how best to treat my ingredients?

What would be your week of food heaven consist of?

I shall be posting at the end of the week, hopefully describing the success of my week

Chakra restaurant review – Mutton dressed as lamb!

As we turned up to Chakra, we were a little embarrassed. I thought I had booked for a standard curry house, but the white leather interior and people in suits put an end to such thoughts.

Our poppadoms had been deliberately broken up. They were trying too hard, I don’t know how such touches were meant to add to the experience, but rather trying such things as they felt they had to, to make a ‘posher Indian experience’. This ended in a rather comical scene where my brother (who had recently fractured his finger), was trying to put some chutney on a crumb of poppadom (maybe you had to be there!)

We were even given an amouse bouche; a red bean thing. Nice enough, but I started to think they were trying to be something they weren’t. If you want to be an upmarket restaurant  then you have to serve upmarket, better food, not just pretend to do so.

As the mains arrived, all I could think was ‘mutton dressed as lamb’.

The food was cold and lacked that deep depth of flavour. Give me a good old curry house all day long to this. There is a reason why places like Benares are successful. They have managed to Westernise and modernise their cuisine, without losing real, delicious Indian flavours. Chakra tried to poshen it up and failed. How does breaking the poppadom in to tiny pieces add to the experience; it doesn’t!

The service by some of the waiters was, like the food, a little cold. When taking our orders, their eyes would drift else where and showed little interest or respect to us. At my favourite Indian place (Sai mantra in Gants hill), they often forget cutlery, the menus are old takeaway menus and the waiters speak little English, but they are polite and appreciate the custom; again this over robotic, often rude waiters yet dressed nicely, all day long!

Indian spiced Chicken

All I did here was find any Indian ingredient I could find and chucked it together; but it worked well enough.

Using a pestle and mortar, pound; fenugreek, cumin, caraway, fennel, coriander seeds.

Add some garlic and ginger

Now turmeric, curry powder and oil.

Make some slashes in the chicken supremes and get in there with your hands

Leave to marinate as long as you can.

Heat the griddle. I spread some apricot jam on the chicken before hand, which worked a treat. Get a nice caramelisation going, before finishing in the oven.

Serve with and how you like!

Enjoy, let me know what you think and how you would improve.

Chinese beef soup

Another of my dad’s concoctions (although not really an original dish, I think the Chinese have been making a similar dish for hundreds of years before).

There are two ways to go with this – either a quick, lunch or the full shazam

 

I’ll start by giving the quick, lunch version and then tell you what I would do to make it a bit more special (no offence Dad). 

 

Mushrooms, carrots, spring onions, chilli, ginger

Noodles

Beef stock (we only had shop brought – worked fine)

Water

Soy sauce, fish sauce, five spice

 

Really all there is to do is to combine it all together. 

Cut the veg, chill and ginger very small and thin, particularly the carrot. 

It is quite nice with the carrot to still be slightly raw – so the soup does;t have to cook for too long

Add them to the water and stock.

Add in the soy, five spice and fish sauce, along with the noodles (remember the noodles will continue to cook, so if anything undergo them)

That’s it really

Extremely fast, simple and surprised me with the flavour punch it provided.

 

To refine the dish slightly, the main and most obvious alteration would be to use better stock

The soup would make the ideal dish after a whole roasted duck the night before, using the carcass for the stock and any left over meat – like a chicken soup, but an Asiany one and duck!

Maybe some crushed peanuts to add some more texture or perhaps cut your carrot at slightly differing thicknesses to get a sort of carrot three ways thing going on

You could also make it slightly more substantial, by packing it full of other veg (maybe a greeny leaf like some sort of cabbage)

Add what you will. Please let me know suggestions, comments so on

Enjoy and of course happy new year to you all