Nourish and Flourish

Though I have coffee from Coco di Mama quite regularly, it is generally not a place I choose lunch from. Not that I’ve had bad food from there, on the contrary I’ve enjoyed eating lunch when I’ve being there. I think the reason is that there are quite a few choices in the area (of our office) so with that many options, I rarely frequent a single place. However it is the best place for coffee close to the office.

Having little time to get some lunch, the first place I ventured to was Pret, however they were doing well and only seemed to have tuna salad left on their shelves. I decided to head to Coco di Mama, as I thought if I can’t get a salad, I will have a pasta pot.

They were quite scarce on salads as well, my colleague nabbed the last chicken caesar salad. I looked over and went for the vegan nourish and flourish salad pot.

Nourish and Flourish Salad from Coco di Mama

This was mixed leaves, with orzo pasta, tomatoes, mixed seeds, peppers, radishes and other ingredients. I had a balsamic vinegar dressing with it. I also bought a bread roll to go with it.

It was rather tasty, fresh and delicious.

Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil Salad

Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil Salad

This is a very simple salad, that is quick and easy to make.

I take a ball of mozzarella and break it into pieces. You could cut it, but I think tearing it allows the broken edges to capture the dressing. Then add some sliced tomatoes. I like using heritage tomatoes if I can get them, but at this time of year I try and get a fully flavoured tomato. I then add some basil leaves, tearing the bigger leaves in half. I then dress the salad with some olive oil, white wine vinegar, and then season with salt and pepper.

Simple, yet delicious.

Heritage Beetroot Salad

I was staying at the Doubletree Hilton in Ealing and was eating in the hotel restaurant.

I decided to go for a salad for dinner. I chose the heritage beetroot salad with caramelised walnuts, lime juice honey dressing, rocket and grilled halloumi.

I have to say that this was an excellent salad. I liked the thin slices of beetroot and the lime juice honey dressing added sweetness and sharpness. The caramelised walnuts were probably a little over caramelised for my liking, but added crunch and sweetness. The grilled halloumi wasn’t great and I have had better halloumi in other salads. Having said that the overall combination of the salty halloumi, sweet walnuts and dressing and beetroot was really tasty. The different slices of heritage beetroot were great, the candy tripe beetroot having a different flavour to the traditional purple beetroot. The only thing I would say was that for a main course salad it was smaller that I expected. I would probably have added more mixed leaves to bulk it out.

Alongside I had some freshly oven baked bread.

I expected to get a couple of rolls, but was impressed with the quantity and variety of breads in the basket. It was supposed to come with some olive oil and balsamic glaze, but all I got was the butter. I didn’t managed to ask about this, but I was happy with the butter. Most of the bread was tasty.

I did enjoy this meal, salad and bread are two things I really like.  

Spiced Cauliflower Salad

Spiced Cauliflower Salad

This recipe for a cauliflower salad was inspired by a dish I once had in a cafe in Wapping Wharf (sadly now closed).

Take some fresh cauliflower and cut it into thin slices, I usually use about a third of the cauliflower when making the dish.

In a bowl add some mayonnaise, a splash of olive oil and half a teaspoon of curry powder. The olive oil thins out the mayonnaise making it easier to coat the cauliflower slices. The curry powder adds spice and warmth to the dish.

Stir and coat the cauliflower slices with the mayonnaise mix, do this gently so you don’t break the cauliflower too much. I also add some unsalted cashew nuts as well to the salad. Season with salt and pepper.

Gluten Free Couscous

Looking for gluten free versions of wheat based dishes was always challenging, but becoming less so.

We have always enjoyed the prepared salads from M&S, but alas most of them contain gluten.

I had been looking for a pack of gluten free couscous for a while, so when I saw a pack of Clearspring Organic Corn Couscous this looked like a solution.

It was really easy to prepare I added 100ml of stock to 65g of the dried couscous and left for five minutes. I then used a fork to fluff the couscous. I added some diced cooked Mediterranean vegetables and seasoned with olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

I was really impressed, it had the texture of couscous and worked really well.

Dinner at the Spencer

I was over in Dublin for an event and was staying at The Spencer Hotel. A dinner was planned in the restaurant and I was intrigued to see what we would be having. What was nice, was that we could choose from a menu of options.

For my starter I went with the Chicken Caesar Salad. This was crisp baby gem leaves, smoked bacon, crunchy croutons, poached chicken breast, parmesan shavings with classic caesar dressing. It was a nice caesar salad, though the chicken was a little bland. I think if I was cooking it, I would probably have served it with hot chicken, probably griddled, rather than poached. 

For my main course I had the Ribeye Steak with chips. There was a delay in getting my food out, compared to the rest of the group, as there had been a mess up in the ordering (or I suspect someone else decided to have my steak instead of their sea bass, probably forgot what they ordered! When it did arrive, the steak was cooked well and I enjoyed it. I did think they had cooked the steak in an interesting way. It was medium-rare, as requested, but the outside was well cooked, a little too much for my liking. Having said that I did like the dish.

Desert was a trio of desserts, and they were nothing to write home about, so I won’t.

Overall it was a nice meal.

A simple salad

Made a simple salad.

Took some mixed leaves and added the following. 

Halved cherry tomatoes.

Slices of cucumber.

Thin slices of radish.

Strips of red pepper.

Slices of avocado.

You can add dressing to taste.

Spiced Cauliflower Salad

Spiced Cauliflower Salad

This recipe was inspired by one I saw in a magazine.

In a foil lined roasting pan, add some olive oil (and a splash of sunflower oil) and place in a hot oven for ten minutes to heat through.

Cut some potato into 2cm cubes. I used Maris Piper potatoes.

Add the potatoes to the hot roasting pan and roast for ten minutes.

Break the cauliflower into florets and halve the bigger florets, so the pieces of cauliflower are of an equal size. You can also add the cauliflower leaves as well.

Add these to the roasting pan and mix with the potatoes.

Cook for another fifteen minutes.

Sprinkle on some garam masala and stir and toss the potatoes and cauliflower.

Cook for another ten to fifteen minutes, or until the potatoes are crisp and brown.

Remove from the oven.

On a serving plate arrange some leaves of Romaine lettuce. Top with the potato and cauliflower. Add some pomegranate seeds and thinly sliced red onion.

Serve.

Chiquito

I’ve only been to Chiquito a couple of times, but I have always liked the idea of the menu.

We went as a family and had some interesting dishes. I don’t think we were overly impressed with the experience, and I can’t see us making a return visit anytime soon. The food was okay, buy nothing special.

I had the chilaquiles, these were nachos tossed in sauce, oven baked with mozzarella until crispy on top and soft at the bottom, topped with a fried egg. I had mine with the barbacoa beef and chimichurri sauce.

It was just okay, I thought it was interesting with the egg. I didn’t really enjoy the soft nachos.

My eldest went with the chimichanga, fried tortilla packed with rice, refried beans, mozzarella and jalapeño cheese sauce. Served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa.

He did enjoy the dish.

My other son with the topped salad with a chicken + chorizo skewer. 

The salad was mixed leaves, grains, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrot, pink onions and crumbled feta cheese in a citrus dressing. Interesting salad and combination of flavours.

The other dish on the table was a 6oz juicy tender steak, mixed salad and homemade sweet potato wedges.

The steak lacked flavour, and the sweet potato wedges were undercooked.

Overall it was just okay as a meal out, the service was lacklustre.

Salad for lunch

Made a nice salad for lunch. On a bed of mixed leaves I added sliced avocado, halved tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, sweetcorn, slices of radish and some slices of red pepper.