Thursday, 29 May 2014

War Horse, Cocktails and Southern food in Covent Garden

For my 26th birthday my lovely mother got me and Dan tickets to see War Horse. We've both been dying to see it since hearing rave reviews from just about everyone and boy, they were right!

Firstly though we went for a spot of cocktails...

We stumbled upon Wolfe's Bar and Grill. It was just round the corner from The New London Theatre on Drury Lane so it was perfect for us. Wolfe's

The interior was lovely, really grand and it had a real feel of times gone by. You could picture 1920s women in their tasseled dresses smoking at the wonderfully snakelike bar.
The curve in the bar gave you a little booth for two, giving you some privacy at the bar. Really great idea.

Oh and did I mention the wonderfully glam mirrored ceiling!

They have a great selection of glasses, the glass really makes all the difference when it comes to drinks. Don't you think? Nothing worse than asking for a white wine spritzer and it comes in a coke glass.
 Their menu was pretty extensive too. Not cheap mind, but we are in London after all.

I went for the Disaronno Sparkling, Disaronno and Prosecco. Strong was an understatement and as I'm not much of a drinker, Dan finished it for me.

He went for a Golden Mojitto, Dark Rum, Cointreau and mint I think. 
They were very good and very well presented.

I did have tassels on my sleeves, I almost fitted in.

War Horse was our next stop.

 I've never been to the New London Theatre before, it was very modern with not much personality but the view was absolutely cracking!

You're not allowed to take photographs during the performance so I grabbed a sneaky two before curtains up. (there were no curtains)

The show was really wonderful! Honestly, you must see it. The actors and horses were at our eye level and they moved amongst the seats so we felt really immersed in the performance. 
The mechanics behind it were mind boggling and I was completely mesmerized by the sound effects. All made by the actors! The horses were almost real. 
Go see it, please, you wont be sorry!

Our next stop was dinner, well cocktails first. Before hand I had found a really promising dinner spot Joe's Southern Kitchen in Covent Garden.
We were early so we nipped down to their basement cocktail bar.

I had chosen Joe's because it had Southern in the title. As I'm sure you've realised by now I am partial to Southern American cuisine. The menu looked promising online, real buttermilk pressure cooker fried chicken, chicken wings and all the sides you'd imagine. 

Hold your horses, the food is yet to come. Firstly lets discuss the cocktail basement.
 Not great. 
Very red lighting and very non southern music. 
I was expecting some Johnny Cash at least, but no. Even a DJ playing dance music turned up. What is that about? 
I did however find some Cash whilst popping to the ladies room.

It was pretty busy in there though

You can enter via the outside steps or through the restaurant.

There were lots of interesting decoration and bits and bobs but again, nothing screamed southern to me.

As I was driving home from the station I decide on a lemon iced tea. It was okay, it needed a bit more sweetness for my taste. It did seem home made though which was a plus.

Dan went for the special, a watermelon martini. It was pretty yummy actually and in the proper glass.

It was finally time for dinner, I couldn't wait to get stuck in. The vibe was better upstairs. Country music played the bar looked lovely, nice metal tables etc. Very nice.

For starters Dan went for the BBQ chicken wings. He was very happy, he is quite the critic so when he says something is nice, it usually is. He actually said that it was the best starter he 'd every had. Quite a statement.
So far so good.

I went for the popcorn shrimp with spicy green salsa. It was nice, the salsa had a good kick to it but I wasn't thrilled. It was maybe a little greasy for my tastes.
The presentation though, was lovely. Skillets and enamel bowls.

For main, Dan went for chicken cooked under a brick. It looked yummy but he wasn't impressed. He said it was a bit slimey and tasteless. He also got a caesar salad which was okay ish.

I obviously went for the traditional buttermilk pressure cooker fried chicken. It was nice, very moist chicken and there was a lot of meat. I just couldn't help being reminded of KFC. I wanted a crispy lightly coloured fried chicken and it was just a little soggy. It just didn't deliver. 

I went for mash and chicken gravy as my side. The mash had a nice texture but lacked in flavor. The gravy wasn't much to be desired either really. We also got a slaw to share, it was average.

So all in all, I wouldn't recommend Joe's. A bit of an all mouth and no trousers place. It had a lot of promise on paper but it was a bit of a let down. 
Those are the worst, I'd much rather a bit of a dive with an incredible menu than a fancy pants place that lets down on the taste. 

Oh and Joe's, play country music if your going for a southern feel. Surely.

Go and see War Horse though and if your a little early pop down to Wolfe's!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Nectarine Scones

"Nectarines?" I hear you ask.
They are a slightly random fruit to pop into a scone I know. I saw them on the Food Network, obviously, but I couldn't find a recipe so I just improvised and they turned out pretty great!

I find that scones can be pretty heavy and carby sometimes but the nectarines really added a freshness. Really lovely for breakfast or to take to work for your coffee break (like I did)

Heres how you go about making them...

What you need:

70g butter at room temp
250g plain flour
50g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
125 ml milk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
A little egg or milk for glazing
A punnet of nectarines

What you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 220 C and then lightly grease a baking tin and line with baking paper.

In a nice big bowl, mix up the dry ingredients and then using your hands crumble the butter into the mixture until it looks like sand. Now still using your hands fold in the milk, eggs and vanilla extract.

Do not mix too much! It takes the air out. You've been warned.

Now sprinkle in your chopped up nectarines (skin on). Pop in as many as you like, depending on how much fruit you like.

Once its all mixed up, separate the mixture into balls and place on the baking paper. Leave a little room between them for when they expand.

Now brush them with a little milk or a beaten egg to give them a nice shine.

Now bake in the oven for 15-18 mins until golden brown.

Serve them warm...mmmmm


The basic scone recipe was from the lovely Angel Adore
You can buy her book too, The Vintage Tea Party. Its great.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Raspberry Corn Cakes and a Fire

Dan has a lot of cuttings to burn, being a gardener and all so from time to time we like to make a bit of a 'thing' out of the fire. I like to make us something, usually something sweet to eat and Dan picks the music, usually country and as the evening goes on we huddle up to the fire, getting closer and closer to the flames and warm our hands over the smoldering ashes. It's pretty fun but you do stink of smoke for days!

This time I decided to make Raspberry Corn Cakes with Lemon Curd inspired by Diners, Drive ins and Dives as usual. So firstly lets see how to make these beauties!

The recipe that I used had missed out the eggs, without them the corn cakes just crumbled so I added an egg and they worked out well. 

What you'll need:

1 cup of corn meal (polenta)
1/3 cup of all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp melted butter
1 cup of fresh raspberries
1 egg

What you need to do:

You need to add all your dry ingredients together in a big bowl and mix them all together. Now pop your egg into a jug and add your buttermilk and give it a mix with a fork, now along with your buttermilk/ egg mix add all your wet ingredients to your dry and whisk until its all incorporated. There will be a few lumps but thats ok.

Now heat up a pan with a blob of butter and ladle in your mixture. Once your corn cakes have settled in a bit add your raspberries.

You know when to turn your corn cakes over when they start getting bubbles on top. Wait until there are bubbles everywhere on your cakes and then carefully flip them. Keep an eye on them once they are flipped as the raspberries burn easily. 

Repeat this until all your mixture is used up. You can pop it into a sealed container in the fridge for a day or so and have some tomorrow if your too full tonight, naughty!

I cheated and got my lemon curd from a jar (I know, shame on me) but you can be good and make your own, I have done before and it's pretty easy and defo tastes better!

You can see the original recipe here and she also shares her lemon curd recipe.


Dan looks pretty pleased with his corn cakes doesn't he?

And Lex wanted in on the photography! Poser

Once it got dark we started the fire, it gets pretty flamey actually. 

I'm not really sure what's happening here.

Me looking moody as usual

Lex vanished and we found her here, she got too cold to be outside so sought out her dressing gown. Yes she has her own one! 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Cajun Corn Pudding & Peach Salsa

Yes, you guessed it, another southern recipe! Cajun Corn Pudding this time. It sounds a bit gross, the word pudding and all, but I promise it really isn't. It's meaty, a little spicy and a little sweet, it real comfort food. Well obviously as it is souther.
This recipe is from Diners, Drive ins and Dives and I came across it on The Food Network and you can find it here 

We had a little BBQ, even though it was pretty cold and windy, for Dan's mum and dad the other week and these are two little side dishes I knocked up. Any excuse for me to test some new recipes.

What your going to need:

Butter for the baking dish
1/4 cup fine breadcrumbs
4 ears of sweet corn (or a can of sweet corn)
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 slices of bacon, chopped
3/4 cup diced onions
3/4 cup diced bell pepper
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
5 eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

What you need to do:

Firstly preheat the oven to 190 C and butter the bottom and sides of a baking dish, sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly to coat the bottom and sides of the dish. 

Cut the corn off the cob or just empty a can of corn like I did (cheat!) Heat some olive oil in a pan over a medium heat, add the corn, 1 1/2 tsps salt and cayenne and saute for 2-3 mins. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Now add onions and bell peppers and cook them until they are a little soft, not too soft though. Leave a little crunch. Remove it all from the heat.

In a medium bowl whisk the cream, milk, eggs, parmesan, cornmeal, sugar, pepper and nutmeg until frothy. Add the corn mixture from the pan and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 mins until firm. Serve it hot from the oven!

It is seriously yummy! My mum was doubtful when I handed her a huge bowl but she loved it and asked for more.

I also made a little peach salsa to go with the BBQ'd mackerel. It was pretty spicy but the peaches added a nice sweetness.

What I used:

1 can of peach slices
2 tomatoes
1/2 a lime
1/4 white onion
1 yellow pepper 
1 green jalapeno
1 tbsp sugar

What you need to do:

Chop everything up into the same sized pieces and pop them into a bowl, I only added a few of the seeds from the jalapeno. If your brave, add them all.

Squeeze over the lime juice and sprinkle over the sugar. Give it a good mix up and pop it in the fridge to cool a bit.

We served it with mackerel from the BBQ but you could add it to tacos or with a salad maybe.

Try out the recipes and let me know what you think in the comments section below. I'd love to hear from you.