bank holiday brunches

I know I’m not great as a food critic because I always let the quality of my company affect the quality of my experience when dining out. So I have to apologise if my reviews are too chirpy. However here goes, the Agsieb guide to food and drink across the capital.

Exmouth-Coffee-Company-3

A little hop, skip and a jump up the road towards Aldgate East you’ll come across the new(ish)ly refurbished Whitechapel Gallery (incidentally their Dining Room is fantastic) and just next door the equally new(ish) Exmouth Coffee Company.

Normally I would be straight for the coffee but having already had 2 before lunch, I thought best not, however the yummy smell and piles of beans ready to roast (in house) gave me high hopes for next time.

Exmouth-Coffee-Company-2My veggie quiche and salad were an excellent combination and I will definitely be heading back again to sample the collection of pastries and cakes, which have good reviews from others online. The staff were friendly and efficient, and the open plan kitchen meant that you could see the chefs at work, something I always like. We also admired the decor, mostly the tiles, I just love these industrial type of beveled edged wall tile; something for my future kitchen I think!

Exmouth-Coffee-Company-1

All in all well worth a try if you’re in the area, I hope you can find as good quality company to share it with!

summery soups

To keep the summer going that tiny bit longer I’m making the super-easy & super-delicious pea & mint soup with a little twisty taste of fresh, sweet basil.

Ingredients:
A chunk of butter
A glug of olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 red onion, diced
1 potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
800ml vegetable stock
800g peas
a great big handful of fresh mint leaves
a handful of fresh basil leaves
salt & pepper
4 table spoons of soured cream and a little extra to garnish

To Make:

Heat olive oil and butter in a deep saucepan, chuck in your garlic and onions and cook until it looks soft.
Add the stock to the pan, and put in the potato, simmer for 15 minutes (or until the potato is soft).
Empty in the peas and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Add in the mint, basil and a wee bit of salt and pepper (to your preferred amount) and take it off the heat.

Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender and blend the mixture until smooth. Add the soured cream and blend a bit more. Season to your taste.

If you are going to eat the soup straight away – transfer it to the pan and heat it up for a couple more minutes. Serve up in a bowl with a teaspoon more soured cream and a little mint leaf, to show off. Alternatively you can eat it cold.

If I’m being good I tupperware-up some portion sizes and freeze them to take to work and have as a healthy lunch with some fresh bread. Nice for a bit of a change from sandwiches.

Enjoy!

delicious… jamie’s simple stuffed veg

We have TOTALLY fallen in love with this recipe, it is so delicious that I had to share it with you all. Its from Jamie Oliver’s book “Jamie Does…” and tastes so good that we’ve even taken to making the rice on its own to replace the times we have potatoes. The recipe below serves 4.

You will need:
2 large firm beef tomatoes
2 large yellow bell peppers
2 large red bell peppers
100g shelled pistachios
4 cloves garlic – chopped
200g long grain rice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 fresh red chilli – deseeded and finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
600ml vegetable stock – stock cubes will do
200g Greek feta cheese, crumbled
small bunch of mint leaves – picked and finely chopped
small bunch of flat leaf parsley leaves – picked and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato puree

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6

To make:

Cut the tops off the tomatoes and put then to one side.  Use a spoon to carefully hollow out the inside and get rid of that bit. Halve the peppers lenghtways, keeping the stalks intact. With a sharp knife and a spoon, carefully get rid of the seeds (if you could only find small peppers like us cut the tops off, like the tomatoes, but you may want to include a couple more peppers).  Place all these vegetables into an appropriately sized deep sided oven dish.  You want them to fit nice and snug.

Toast the pistachios in a dry frying pan, keeping them moving so they don’t burn.  When they’re done tip them into a pestle and mortar and roughly crush, then put them to one side.

Add a glug of oil to the pan, put it back on a low heat and add the onions and garlic.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft but not coloured.
Add the rice, oregano, chilli and a good pinch of salt and pepper.  Pour in half of the stock (300ml) and cook for around 7 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly, so the rice gets coated in everything and doesn’t stick to the pan.

Remove from the heat and stir in the crumbled feta, fresh herbs and bashed up pistachios.

Carefully stuff the hollowed-out peppers and tomatoes with the hot rice mixture so it comes just to the top.  Don’t over fill them as the rice will expand when it cooks.  Put the tops back on the tomatoes and drizzle a few glugs of oil over the lot.

Mix the tomato puree/paste with the remaining stock and pour into the baking dish, around, not over the veg.

Cover tightly with kitchen foil and bake in the hot oven for around 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and transfer to serving plates.

Serve straight away with some yummy salad and fresh crusty bread.

Voila, the finished article! It may sound too tricky, but trust me it’s not, and all your hard work will be well worth it.

how to make tasty christmas gingerbread

As a little Christmas treat I thought I’d let you all share this gingerbread recipe. Handed down to me through generations (well my stepmum via Delia), they’re easy to make and are a great last minute Christmas gift. Come on you needed something to do on Christmas Eve before you crack open the Baileys!

Ingredients

175g/6oz Soft Brown Sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
2 tablespoons black treacle
200g/7oz diced butter
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda
450g/1lb Plain Flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons ground nutmeg
3 teaspoons ground ginger

To Make
1.    Here’s the slightly scary bit: put the sugar, golden syrup, treacle and 2 tablespoons of water to the boil, once it does, take it off the heat straight away.
2.    Add the butter and the bicarbonate of soda (the mix may froth)
3.    When they’ve melted, slowly add in the flour and spices (if the mixture is too wet, put a little bit more flour in but not too much as it should be a little bit sticky)
4.    Go and play Christmas games (you know… “Charades”, or “Who am I”) for 1 hour while the mixture cools.
5.    Come back and preheat the oven to 180ºC. Roll out your mixture to about 1cm thick and cut it into lots of Christmassy shapes bake for 10-12 minutes.

If you want you can ice them, or just eat them plain. My favourite way to have them is just out of the oven with a glass of cold milk.

Merry Christmas! xx

tasty tommies

It’s been a while but I’m coming back with a double post.

First up there’s my delicious tomatoes that in all this hot weather have ripened into the tastiest dinner accompaniment. Here they are on the vine and then ready to be made into a posh fish finger sandwich, along with some fresh rocket also from the balcony. Yum!

for all you marmite lovers

 

Now here’s a delicious breakfast or afternoon treat! Best served warm, when I made them I added extra cheese and extra marmite to make them even tastier!

For the ingredients…

140g self-raising flour
140g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g cold butter, cut into small cubes
85g mature cheddar, grated
1 egg
1 tbsp Marmite
2 tbsp Greek or natural yogurt
3 tbsp milk, plus extra to glaze

 

To make:

Heat oven to 190 degrees. Mix the flours and baking powder in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt. Add the butter and rub with your fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in ½ of the cheese and make a well in the centre.

Whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour into the well. Bring the mixture together to make a soft, but not sticky dough. Add a little more milk if the dough is too dry.

Roll out to about 2cm thick on a floured surface. Stamp out the scones using a round cutter. Put on a baking sheet, brush with milk and scatter over remaining cheese. Bake for 10-12 mins until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

EAT!!

 

tart!

Hello, domestic goddess here.

So on my week of vegetarianism I have tried to be a little more adventurous in my cooking (as in actually cooking things instead of just heating things up). Here’s another very successful recipe of the week – although I did have some issues with pastry, and flour, and my outfit for the day (note that black t-shirts and flour aren’t an attractive recipe!).

So come on kids… try it yourself… it’s DELICIOUS.

Agsieb’s Pea, Tomato, Courgette and Ricotta Tart
(Stolen from Delia)

Serves around 6 people, although we had a quarter each with just salad and that was pretty filling.

Ingredients

250g shortcrust pastry
100g peas fresh or frozen
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion sliced
1 courgette, diced
250g pot ricotta
2 medium eggs, beaten
3 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200c, gas mark 6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a circle shape, about 3mm–4mm thick. Then use the pastry to line a 20cm deep loose-bottomed flan tin. Line with foil and uncooked rice or dry beans and bake for 12–15 minutes until pale golden (this sounds like a waste of rice unless you like it so much you want to cook it again – use the same rice next time!). Remove foil.

2. While the case is cooking, cook the peas in a pan of boiling water until just tender. Drain. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion and courgette for 5 minutes until softened and golden. Add the peas and stir together.

3. Beat the ricotta with the eggs, milk and seasoning. Stir in the peas and onion mixture and use to fill the pastry case. Arrange the halved tomatoes around the edge. Scatter with the Parmigiano and bake for 30–35 minutes until golden and puffy and ta daaa! serve up hot or cold. (perfect for a more interesting lunch box!!)

And just to make it even more exciting; here’s a little tip (mama agsieb used to do this when we were little) – if you’ve got any leftover pastry use it to make some jam tarts. They only take about 20mins so not as long as the others but they are seriously yummy.

uncle leon’s falafel

If you’ve never been to Leon you’re missing out, they’re a small chain of London based resaurants and they make food “naturally full of flavour and goodness with seasonal ingredients, olive oil and fresh herbs and spices” yum!

They recently released the Leon cookbook which you will all be running out to buy once you’ve tried this recipe for sweet potato falafel:

Ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes (orange inside), around 700g in total
1½ tsp ground cumin
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1½ tsp ground coriander
2 big handfuls of fresh coriander, chopped (about 30g)
Juice of half a lemon
120g gram flour
A splash of olive oil
A sprinkling of sesame seeds
Salt and pepper

(Makes about enough for four – I made a bakers dozen)

1-2. Get your ingredients ready. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F and roast the sweet potatoes whole until just tender ( about 45 minutes to 1 hour). Turn off oven, leave the potatoes to cool, then peel.

3. Put the sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, ground and fresh coriander, lemon juice and gram flour into a large bowl.

4. Season well, and mash with your hands until smooth with no large chunks. (I was too eager to eat so i missed this bit out but you’re supposed to stick it in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes) When you take it out, your mix should be sticky rather than really wet. You can add a tablespoon or so more of gram flour if necessary (the water content of sweet potatoes varies enormously).

5. Reheat the oven to 200C/400F. Using a couple of soup spoons make the mixture into falafelly looking things and put them on an oiled tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the bases are golden brown.

6. Serve up for eating! We had ours with brown rice, sprouting broccoli and to celebrate the beginning of the british asparagus season; steamed asparagus (they’re also really good with a bit of aïoli if they’re a bit dry for your liking).

Enjoy!