Featured on the feedfeed

The lovely folks over at the feedfeed featured one of my recipes (which you can find here!) on their easy weeknight dinners feed. You can check the feed over at this link here– there’s plenty of inspiration to be found over there in making your dinners during busy weeks just a little bit more exciting!

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Vegetarian Week Recipes

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Dear readers, I’ve been a little quiet in the kitchen — at least, in terms of the blog (of course, I wasn’t totally removed from the kitchen, I have to be somewhere away without a kitchen at all for that to happen!) but you see, some exciting things happened. Namely, I was approached to create some recipes for Vegetarian Week for a local newspaper, the Coventry Telegraph!

So I, along with some other fellow insta-food bloggers, contributed a few recipes to the team at the Telegraph. Have a look if you’re interested to see what the food bloggers and I created (a delicious portobello mushroom and peach sandwich (pictured above), sweet potato fries with honey mustard dip, and a tofu noodle bowl) here.

Matcha white chocolate macadamia nut brownies

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Let me talk about these brownies. No recipe, unfortunately, because I stuck to the recipe from Jamie Oliver’s magazine (the issue 54, if I don’t have that wildly incorrect), and I did follow that recipe pretty much to the T, bar nearly tripling the cooking time (umm, weird).

No, seriously, it said like twenty-thirty minutes. I was a little dubious because some brownies can take far longer when they’re not the packet-mix version, but my dish was pretty big too so the batter wasn’t all that thick or anything…and they just did not cook. They really refused to. I was going back and forth every five, and eventually every ten minutes, until they finally decided to rest in that wonderfully gooey-sticky but firm stage. I’m so glad I persevered.

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Yup, this one’s a keeper.

Recipe goals for this season

I’ve been thinking a little about what I’d really like to make this year as I was making caramel for the first time (it was a sucess! …eventually), and as a sort of incentive to get going through the endless tabs and folders and saved-as-favourites of recipes that I have, I want to make a list of things I really want to have a go at, and ultimately succeed in making.

1. Make the Courtesan au Chocolat pastries as seen in ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

I know, I’m a bit late on the scene. But this isn’t coming from a desire to change it up or anything, or even try and get a handle on creating the recipe since countless others already have a long time ago–however, I do want to give it a shot because a) I recently watched that film, and thought it brilliant, b) it looks fun and rather cute, and c) I want to give choux pastry another go.

I made some (successfully) with my mother when I was still quite young, because I’d begged and begged and begged we’d make some because I was a profiterole fiend back then and she would always mention making them herself years ago. So, we finally did and I hated it — specifically, the smell of making choux pastry. It put me right off them for some reason, and made me think they were disgusting for the longest time. Rather over-dramatic, I think these days, but clearly I was not a fan since I refused to even eat the finished creations. So, let’s forgive and forget and have another shot at it.

2. Make salted caramel sauce.

Image from Sallysbakingaddiction.com

I mentioned above I made a caramel sauce, which is all well and true, and it turned out fine in the end, using only sugar and milk. Now, I want to go for the real thing. Since making the former wasn’t so bad, I’m hoping I won’t be completely useless at giving this a go.

3. Make baked french fries (or any baked root vegetable crisp-like thing)

I’ve tried my hand at making beetroot crisps, sweet potato crisps, golden betroot crisps, sweet potato fries…most of them have gone awfully. Like, not even disappointing, just flat-out bad. Bar the last one, but even then most ended up still soggy, with only a handful nice and crunchy. So, I’d love to give something like this a go, because I will succeed, dammit!

4. Get my baking game on with sheet cakes.

Ah, the wormhole that is the SORTED: food youtube channel. I got recommend them by a friend, and one day I found myself spending most of my time just going through pretty much their entire playlist…(sad). But hey ho, it’s given me plenty of recipe inspiration, particularly in regards to baking, which I really want to shape up this year anyway, and beyond just pretty choux pastries.

So, for starters, I really want to start making more sheetcakes. Not so much to master because they’re pretty damn easy, but so versatile, which is something I just love about them, so I think I’ll start off with the one above and go from there…

5. Create this amazing looking Brazilian Chocolate Caramel Pavê

I mean, caramel…hello, I’m there. This looks SO good, I can already tell I will be making my family fat this year. Too bad 😉

6. Make a magic custard cake

How awesome are these? In case you already didn’t know, magic custard cakes is when you cook a single cake and end up with ‘three cakes’, since as the cake cooks it makes up three layers; one spongey, one chewy (usually), and another like a dense custard. So whether I’m making the one above there, or the matcha custard cake by raspberricupcakes, I wanna be making some magic!

I guess I might keep adding to this, as I keep thinking of things. If you have any suggestions for things I have to master, let me know!

Captain Kirk’s Seafood, Downtown Naples, FL.

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As I’ve mentioned before, there was so much food and sweet treats and just generally delicious things on my most recent trip to the USA just before Christmas, that I’m not doing a one-by-one posting schedule (if you’re interested, however, I totally recommend checking out my instagram feed!).

But, this place is worth a special mention. Most people were confused/surprised at the thought of  a Naples in Florida, but those who did know the place almost always mentioned one thing; stone crabs.

Now, I’m totally a seafood person. I can’t get enough of it. It’s amazing. But crab? It’s great, it just doesn’t seem to taste of all that much. I guess it’s just in comparison to other types of seafood that makes me not get all that excited about crab.

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But was I really going to say no these amazingly huge jumbo stone crab claws?

Um, yeah. Of course I wasn’t!

Course’, it wasn’t cheap (at all). But was it worth it? Definitely. Massive crab claws (seriously, huge, like the size of my whole hand), plus a deliciously sweet-sour mustardy sauce to go alongside. Yes.

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On top of that, I couldn’t resist sampling a little of their (rather reasonably priced) seafood bisque (plenty of crab was in there too!), since a cup of it was like less than 7 dollars or something. Superb. If you are ever in the Naples area, then yes, I too will totally recommend you try the stone crabs, even if just once!

Trip to Naples, FL, USA – Dec 2014.

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You may well have noticed I’ve been AWOL for a while. I have to admit, in amidst everything going on, I completely forgot to check my posting schedule. Oooops. However, part of that blip in posting has been due to being away for quite a while in Naples, Florida, just a few hours away from Tampa and on the opposite coast from Miami.

In case you were interested in catching up on all the good food I ate (there was SO much), I sincerely recommend checking out my instagram (there’s a link to the right that should help, and my username would be emmasarahax), and scrolling a little bit down to see all the delicious plates.

And, man, I get the hype about Florida now.

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I mean, it’s just gorgeous. Blue sea, blue skies, so green, and errr….gators? Great times. But to get back to things, it’s such a beautiful state, full of good food and good sceneries. I totally see why it’s a retirement haven. So in amongst all the outlet shopping and lazing like a gator on the beach, I did have some killer food. Those chicken, avocado, three cheese, salsa and veg quesadillas? Killer.

This lobster roll?

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Fab. Enough lobster to feed an army. I’ll tentatively say I get the love for lobster rolls now. It’s pretty damn good.

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We stayed right by the beach in Naples, but most of the place is just so lush and green. I’m totally in love.

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And to have a quick glance at some other things I ate, here’s a few other snaps (but like I said, instagram’s gonna be the best catch-up around for my trip. Just scroll down a little until you hit mid-Dec–you’ll be able to tell by the palm trees!)

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A fantastic dulce de leche sponge cake. So fluffy!

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Some brown-rice sushi from the Whole Foods Store for breakfast in bed. This was just a normal store in Naples, but it kicks the butts off the ones in London for sure! I wonder what the giant flagship ones would be like…

So all in all, I’m a bit like this gator right now…can’t…move…after…eating. Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, and have a wonderful New Years!

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Dinner at Vinotheque, St. Julian’s, Malta.

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Yes, I realise we’re talking a long time ago. Like, months ago. But you know, I realised I hadn’t posted these gorgeous pictures, and it’s bitterly cold and the frost seems to bite your cheeks and nose when you’re out, so what better time for a little reminiscing on sun and summer? (more on sun in a minute, in case you’ve noticed I’ve been quiet for a little while now).

So, without further ado, I present these gorgeous plates from a wonderful evening at a restaurant from our summer trip to Malta. Vinotheque utilises the French style of cooking, and though we returned for a second night and it was much less successful (it was a sort of grill/buffet evening, probably where we went wrong there), this first trip was utterly delightful from start to finish.

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First up, I chose rabbit livers on brioche. Too much goodness, seriously. Plating, unless at one of those swanky-slate-plate-types of places, is usually incredibly generous in Malta. But, in this case, I didn’t hesitate to scrape the plate clean. So creamy, so indulgent.

(I would regret it in the end not really.)

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Dad chose the chicken liver pate, with toasted brioche. Again, very generous with three thick slices of the pate. Again, creamy and rich, but delicious.

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Mum chose a lighter starter (very wise) and went for the special, beef carpaccio. Look at those colours! I have to say, most places in Malta do a very good beef carpaccio. Clearly a favourite around the island, and when the quality is like this 99.9% of the time, I can definitely see why.

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And for the mains. Oh, boy. This first trip happened to coincide with a special lobster-centred menu, and all 3 of us chose from that menu for our mains. Dad and I both went for this risotto with two gigantic claws. I honestly could not finish my plate for the life of me–it’s the one fault I find with Malta, the portions are entirely too big! However, I presume that’s precisely how the Maltese like it…

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And for my mother, the lobster spaghetti. Simply beautiful, and again, a wiser portion size decision. Despite the less successful second try, this restaurant honestly impressed me so much. A little quirky, with the décor clearly mimicking the interior of a French bistro, service was great, and the food was phenomenal. What more do you want?