Homemade Gluten Free Sausage Rolls

I have used Jus-Rol puff pastry in the past and have been pleased with the results, so I was intrigued to see their gluten free puff pastry and wondered what it would be like to use.

Jus Rol Gluten Free Puff Pastry

It comes as a ready rolled sheet which I sliced in half and filled with some sausage meat before rolling it up and placing on a baking tray. I made slices in the top of the pastry and brushed with beaten egg.

This was then baked in a hot oven for around twenty minutes.

Homemade Gluten Free Sausage Rolls

They worked very well, the pastry I think it needed to be a bit more flakey, but it was really easy to use and tasted very nice.

Time for a rather nice Flat White

Harris & Hoole

When I am in London (and elsewhere) and needing a coffee I try and find somewhere not only new, but try and find a place which I wouldn’t find locally in the South West, whether that be an independent, or a “local” chain.

I enjoyed the coffee I had at Kiss the Hippo for example.

So on my most recent trip to London and arriving early for my meeting I decided to go for coffee and chose Harris & Hoole.

The welcome was warm and friendly and I ordered a flat white, as one does.

Flat White

The seating was somewhat communal with a large table and counters. There was additional seating downstairs, but I didn’t go down and have a look.

The coffee was really nice and I enjoyed it.

Time for a Flat White

I was at the services on the M42, and rather than go into the main building, I went to Starbucks, which stands alone, mainly as it is a drive through (not a thru) but has a “normal” bit as well with tables and chairs.

Flat White

I ordered a flat white, like I usually do, and I was reminded why when it comes to coffee that I rarely go to Starbucks as the coffee tasted as though the beans had been over-roasted, so great coffee taste, but left a rather unpleasant burnt after-taste.

Despite the coffee, the flat white had been prepared really well, the milk was smooth, velvety and light as it should be. I quite enjoyed it in the end.

Gluten Free White Choc Chip Biscuits

A simple quick recipe for Gluten Free White Choc Chip Biscuits.

 Gluten Free White Choc Chip Biscuits

This is a simple recipe for gluten-free biscuits. You could of course use the same recipe with regular flour.

They are quick to make and quick to bake.

Ingredients

1 standard egg.

Take the same weight of the egg in cold butter.

Twice the same weight of the egg in plain gluten-free flour.

Same weight of the egg of sugar.

Vanilla essence.

Handful of white chocolate drops or chips

Take the flour, and add the cold butter, cut into small cubes. Combine the butter and flour by rubbing the butter into the flour, until there are no lumps and the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Then stir in the sugar and the white chocolate chips. You could of course use milk or dark chocolate chips if you prefer.

Add the egg and vanillla essence combine until the biscuit dough is smooth.

How you could take spoonfuls onto a banking sheet, but what I do is wrap the dough in cling film and cool in the fridge for a fair few hours. This firms up the dough, so then you can roll it into a 2cm roll of dough and then slice it into 1cm rounds.

These rounds can the be placed onto a baking sheet or tray.

One tip I have is to crunch up and screw the baking parchment into a ball and then unscrew it. This means it lies flat on the baking tray. The biscuits will spread to about twice their original size, so leave plenty of space around each

Bake in a pre-heated oven, at 180 degrees for about six minutes until the edges are brown.

Place on a cooling rack.

Enjoy.

Two Three Bird Roasts

I blog about what we eat for Christmas lunch, mainly to remember things that worked well and for those that didn’t, not to repeat that mistake.

We now have a tradition of having our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. We’ve done this for ten years now. We do this for a few reasons. On Christmas Day itself, the children are often too excited to sit down for a long meal, so don’t eat or enjoy the meal or the occasion. It also usually means I spend a fair few hours in the kitchen, which means I miss them opening and playing with their presents. I also find it quite demanding to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, whilst creating a wonderful dining experience.

Having the meal on Christmas Eve means that we can both spend a bit more time preparing the meal (less stressful in itself) and enjoy eating the meal (as do the children). As a result for them it helps pass the time on one of the more exciting days of the year as they anticipate the arrival of a sleigh full of presents being pulled by eight tiny reindeer!

As to what we eat on Christmas day itself, well we have lots of lovely leftovers, cheeses, pickles, hot bread, etc…. quick and easy to prepare and delicious.

I had originally planned to cook three roasts for our Christmas lunch. With limited space in the oven and thinking we might have too much food, in the end I decided to cook only the two three bird roasts and leave the beef joint for Boxing Day, which was an excellent piece of beef and I will blog about at later date.

The main roast was a turkey stuffed with chicken and duck, along with a pork, plum and sloe gin stuffing.

This was an excellent roast full of flavour.

We also had a three game roast, which was a pheasant, stuffed with partridge , pigeon and a pork, apple, calvados stuffing.

We were less impressed with this roast, it lacked flavour.

Overall it was a nice meal and enjoyed by all.

Time for a Coffee: Top Ten Blog Posts 2019

This year I have written 54 blog posts, last year I only managed 35 blog posts.

Tenth post was on how I found the Pork Ribs at Wagamama back in 2011

Wagamama Pork Ribs

The post at number nine was the time I had teriyaki lamb at Wagamama.

Time for teriyaki lamb

The eighth most popular post on the blog was about using a pre-prepared pack of ingredients from Morrisons, to make Chicken Fajita.

Chicken Fajitas “made easy”

Seventh most popular post, was about the time I was wondering what to eat in Sheffield’s Meadowhall, but in the end, went to Yo! Sushi.

I wasn’t sure what I was in the mood for…

The sixth most popular post was not about just any pork medallions, but Marks and Spencers’ Pork Medallions.

Marks and Spencers Pork Medallions

Dropping two places, the third most popular post was Basil & pine nut margherite, a simple pasta recipe.

Basil & pine nut margherite

Like last year, reminiscing about Newquay Steam Beer was the fourth most read post on the blog.

Newquay Steam Beer

Third most popular post on the blog, climbing from eighth position, was about the Pret A Manger Italian Chicken Salad I had in 2013. I have had it quite few times since.

Pret A Manger Italian Chicken Salad

Second most popular blog, having been top for two years was Sirloin for Beef Wellington? This was a response to the high ranking of another post about using sirloin steak in a Beef Wellington rather than fillet steak due to the way people were (at the time) searching Google.

Sirloin for Beef Wellington?

In at number one Chilli Squid from Wagamama, maintaining it’s top position as the most popular post on the blog.. This post was one of the many on the blog about squid, however it is now quite old being from 2011.

Chilli Squid from Wagamama

So there are three posts in the top ten about my visits to Wagamama.

So popularity appears to be dependent on older posts being found via Google searches.

Nice Bao Buns

I don’t actually recall when I had my first Bao Bun, a filled steam bun, but I think it was from the SheSellsSushi stall at one of the Bristol Street Food markets.

I’ve had some really nice ones, and some which were rather disappointing. I have also made them at home as well, well made is a strong word, I bought some ready prepared, steamed them, and added my own filling. That’s almost “made”, but I am keen to try and make some properly one day.

Needing lunch quickly and having parked at the Westfield Centre in West London, there was a wide choice of places to eat but in the end I did quite fancy giving Master Bao a try.

As this is a shopping centre, there are a range of outlets all with a common eating area. You order at the counter, take a electronic gizmo and when it buzzes you collect your food. Not the best way I think of having a nice lunch, a bit too fast food for me, but it works.

I ordered the lunch deal of two bao buns and a side dish. My first choice of bao was the shiitake mushroom bao.

shiitake mushroom bao

This was mushrooms cooked in a teriyaki sauce and served in a hot fluffy bao. It was rather nice, I wouldn’t say I was blown away, but I did enjoy it. The bun was warm and fluffy, and the mushrooms very tasty. It was a bit messy to eat, but I got there in the end.

My second choice of bao, was the chicken bao made with 24 hour marinated fried chicken, fried wasabi, kimchi and coriander.

chicken bao made with 24 hour marinated fried chicken, fried wasabi, kimchi and coriander

I enjoyed the crispy chicken and the accompaniments added a nice spicy extra to the dish. The combination of textures, soft vegetables, crispy chicken and soft bao, was a delight.

As I had chosen the chicken bao, I chose a side dish and went with the pork dumplings.

pork dumplings

These were nice and tasty, steamed and then finished off in the frying pan.

Overall I really did enjoy the dish and would certainly go again.

Time to choose the squash

I wanted those crispy cauliflower bites again, however in the end it wasn’t to be. It was time for a another visit to Wahaca, this time the branch in Fitzrovia which I have been to before and had a lovely meal.

It was early evening and I hadn’t expected the place to be so busy, but it was basically full. The manager though was wonderfully welcoming and made a real effort to find me a table. This level of customer service was excellent and made me feel welcome. The place was really busy and noisy, but that really added to the atmosphere. As with other branches of Wahaca, this one had its own style and decor. It was quite dark in the restaurant, but I am not sure if that was intentional, or that on the occasions I have visited the place it has been in the evenings!

Since that previous visit the menu had changed, as it does quite often. I had intended to have one of the specials that I missed out on my most recent visit to Wahaca which were the grilled fish tacos. Alas that wasn’t meant to be, as they had changed their specials to the Christmas ones, and I didn’t fancy the turkey dinner taquito! I did think about getting those crispy cauliflower bites again, however in the end I decided I should choose something new.

I was quite hungry, so I did order some nachos and guacamole. 

nachos and guacamole

There was a decent portion of guacamole and the nachos were crunchy and not too salty.

So what of my street food choices? Well I went with three dishes and my first choice was the duck croquetas, these are crispy duck & sweet potato balls with smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa.

duck croquetas, these are crispy duck & sweet potato balls with smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa

They were a delight, crispy outside and smooth tender inside. Great flavours and the smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa was delicious and really complemented the croquetas.

On my last visit to this branch I had really enjoyed the butternut squash.

I really enjoyed this dish, was full of flavour and very tasty. I think it could have been improved if the squash had been peeled, but the flesh of the squash did come away from the skin despite this. I really liked the chargrilled aspect of the dish and you could taste that in the squash. This dish is advertised as vegan, and I suspect people might avoid it, but if it comes back onto the menu, go for it, it was delicious.

So when I saw the roasted butternut squash tacos, with a creamy cashew nut and herb mole, citrusy tomatillo salsa and pumpkin seeds, of course I had to choose it.

roasted butternut squash tacos, with a creamy cashew nut and herb mole, citrusy tomatillo salsa and pumpkin seeds

It was a very different dish to what I had before. As you can see it was a couple of tacos filled with chunks of roasted butternut squash. The dish before had been very different.

Chargrilled Crown Prince squash grown by Riverford Organic, served with kale & cashew nut mole

It had consisted of large chunks of chargrilled butternut squash.

However though it wasn’t the same dish, I really enjoyed the new tacos version, it was full of flavour and very tasty.

My third choice was hard, I did consider the mushroom tacos, but in the end I went with something I had ordered before which was buttermilk chicken flour tacos served crispy fried with pink pickled onions & spiced mayo.

buttermilk chicken flour tacos served crispy fried with pink pickled onions & spiced mayo

They were delicious, great textures and flavours.

The table services was excellent, friendly and efficient. Despite how busy the place was, the food arrived in good time. You can tell how popular this place was, as I left there was a huge queue of people waiting for tables. Will I go again, well I will, if I can get in next time.

Time to kiss the hippo!

No I have not been eating hippo…

I was on my way to Coco di Mama in Fitzrovia when I noticed next door another really nice looking cafe, very fresh and smart. Lots of light wood, bright lights and wooden furniture.

Kiss the Hippo

A very bizarre name, Kiss the Hippo Coffee, but I am always willing to try a new place for coffee. I went in and there was a warm and friendly welcome. It was quite early in the day, so wasn’t too busy. I ordered a flat white. I was then able to sit down and the coffee was brought to my table.

I do like it when coffee places do that, so much nice, than standing around waiting for your name to be called in an impersonal manner.

So what about the coffee?

Flat White

Well it was lovely.

Time for Tacos and Cauliflower

I have been a few times now to the Wahaca branch at Soho and have enjoyed my meals there, so with time for lunch, I decided to head there again.

It was just after the lunch time rush, so the place was quiet, but I was given a warm welcome and lead to a table. Each Wahaca I have been to, has a different feel and look and the Soho branch has a unique individual environment. There is a somewhat industrial feel to the place, but it’s warm and friendly, not necessarily cold and inhuman.

I looked over the menu and as it has been some time since I last went to Wahaca, there were some new choices on the street food menu. 
I did think about having my usual grilled steak tacos. Last time I was at the Soho branch they did a new (more expensive) version of the dish with ribeye steak. Back then I said:

The new recipe called The Rib Eye, consists of two larger corn tortillas with chargrilled steak and is served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole. You do get more steak and it is very tender compared to the skirt steak they use to do, but it is also more expensive, about three pounds more than the old steak tacos price (60% more expensive). It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the tacos, I did, but I felt that the original recipe was really good and this wasn’t much of an improvement and certainly not a 60% improvement. I probably wouldn’t order them again.

The new version is similar to the original version, but you have to have the cheese, unlike the original version where it was an option. However this time I decided that I would have something different and would not go with the steak.

I did think about having the buttermilk chicken tacos again, I have enjoyed them before. However as I was thinking about having the crispy cauliflower bites, I decided that I didn’t want too much crispy stuff, so decided to choose something else. For similar reasons I also decided not to go with the duck croquetas, crispy duck & sweet potato balls with smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa, which I really liked the sound of. When the waiter came to take my order, he showed me the specials, there were two, the grilled fish tacos looked interesting and tempting.

In the end I went with some beef tacos, grilled chicken tortillas and the crispy cauliflower bites.

The first dish to arrive were some slow-cooked beef tacos with mild spices, with black beans, served in three soft corn grilled tortillas.

slow-cooked beef tacos with mild spices, with black beans, served in three soft corn grilled tortillas

These were excellent, the beef was full of favour, not too spicy. I really enjoyed the addition of the pickled cucumber on top of the tacos. It was a great blend of tastes and textures. They are certainly something I would order again.

The next two dishes arrived at the same time. One of the things you either like about Wahaca or you don’t is that dishes arrived when they are cooked rather than all coming together. This is fine if you are sharing dishes or eating alone, but less great when as a group or a family you have ordered individual dishes.

The first of the pair of dishes was two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa.

two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa

These were generously filled and I really enjoyed them. The chicken was sightly over-grilled for my liking, but they were still nice. I liked the avocado and the green tomatillo salsa added some nice spice to the dish.

My final dish was the crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.

crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli

These sounded really interesting and they looked great and tasted even better. I was really pleased to have ordered these. The little florets of cauliflower were covered in a light buttermilk batter, deep fried and were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. When I have tried to cook this kind of dish at home, I find that my batter is too thick. This kind of dish and inspired me to try again with a lighter thinner buttermilk batter. The roast serrano allioli was interesting and really worked well with the cauliflower. I think this was my favourite dish of the trio I ordered and would like to have them again.

The service was excellent, warm and friendly welcome, attentive, efficient service. Overall these were three excellent dishes and I really enjoyed them.