Food reviews and recipes

Simple and Delicious Spanish Risotto

To make things simple I usually refer to this recipe as a paella, but don’t want to offend any Spaniards as this isn’t a real paella! This Spanish-style risotto is so simple to make and delicious, perfect for the summer to eat out in the garden (or in a cottage overlooking the sea). I would usually try and get a mixed bag of seafood – a selection of prawns, mussels and squid but as I was cooking for someone with a severe allergy to mussels I stuck to squid instead. It’s also a one-pot recipe, which I love as it saves on washing up after too!


Simple and Delicious Spanish Risotto
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This simple one-pot risotto is perfect for a dinner party - delicious, and makes washing up easier too!
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 4 Portions
  • One leek
  • Chorizo sausage
  • 300g rice (doesn’t have to be risotto rice – basmati will do!)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Lemons
  • Peas
  • 300g seafood (prawns, squid, mussels)
  • 700ml chicken or beef stock
  • 300ml white wine
  1. Start by chopping up your leeks and chorizo sausages into bite sized pieces, and set to one side. Start heating up some olive oil in a pan on a medium setting.
  2. Fry the chorizo first.
  3. It will start to release its oils and will be a lovely orange colour at the bottom of your saucepan. When the chorizo pieces have browned slightly, add your leeks and fry until they have softened.
  4. Once softened, add the uncooked rice.
  5. Stir constantly to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the pan, and let the rice soak up the chorizo oil. Coating the rice before adding any liquid will give the dish bite, and soak up all the lovely flavours.
  6. Add the teaspoon of turmeric, and follow that step by adding the white wine.
  7. Keep stirring constantly until the rice has soaked up the wine before adding the stock.
  8. Let simmer for half an hour on a low heat until it has almost cooked completely.
  9. Add the seafood and peas and leave the pan, stirring occasionally for another twenty minutes. Remember to test the rice, and add more wine or stock if it needs helping along.
leeksleek and chorizoleek and chorizofrying chorizoleeks and chorizoSpanish risotto/paella2014-05-10 14.37.49

Serve up with a wedge of lemon and a glass of white or rose! So simple, delicious and more-ish. It also improves with time (must be the wine!) and it will be great to take the leftovers in for lunch the next day.

Spanish risotto/paellaSpanish risotto/paella

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A Baking Masterclass with John Whaite

Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than baking? I was lucky enough to attend a baking masterclass today, courtesy of Baking Mad, led by Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite. The class took place at the Fair Cake school in Greenwich, just along the river Thames. It was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon – baking, drinking prosecco in the sun, and eating cakes, of course!

Fair Cake SchoolFair Cake Schoolfair cake schoolfair cake schoolfair cake schoolfair cake school

We made lemon sherbet cakes and gingerbread soldiers with yellow and white dip, a sweet version of your favourite childhood breakfast. I won’t share the recipe here as you’ll find it in John Whaite Bakes: Recipes for Every Day and Every Mood but it all tasted incredible, and definitely worth trying out for yourselves!

Lemon Sherbet Cakelemon sherbet cakelemon sherbet cakebillingtons

I learnt a few tips from John today that I hadn’t known before – such as listening to your cake. If you’re not sure whether your cake is done, have a little listen – if you can hear a crackling or a popping sound, it needs a little more time. And when you bake with golden syrup/treacle, dipping your spoon into hot water beforehand will make the syrup slide off of the spoon and into the mixture smoother and quicker.

It was a lovely way to spend the day, and I had such a great time! We all got a few Billington’s goodies to take away also – and I managed to get a signed apron too. john whaite gingerbread soldiers john whaite gingerbread soldiers with yellow and white dip gingerbread soldiers with yellow and white dip fair cake school gingerbread John Whaite lemon sherbet cake lemon sherbet cake john whaite

If you ever get the chance to attend one of John’s masterclasses, I highly recommend it!

baking masterclass

Dim Sum at the Dorchester

A few weeks ago I got a severe craving for soup dumplings, or xiaolongbao. I was a woman possessed – those broth filled dumplings dominated my every thought and for a few days, I could talk about little else. Back in New York I used to go to New Green Bo, (now named Nice Green Bo) for a plate of those delicious, succulent parcels of heaven, but I had yet to find anywhere in London to get my fix. Mr A finally succumbed to my incessant whining his curiosity and decided he had to try them for himself. And so we ended up going for dim sum at the Dorchester (lucky me).photo 5photo 2Afternoon tea at the Dorchester might be the most quintessentially English thing you could ever do. Until Mr. A sent over the website I had no idea that they also offer Dim Sum at their restaurant, China Tang. Always one for dumplings over scones, I was giddy with excitement.

photo photo 5 copyOnce you pass through the rather grand lobby, you go downstairs to a gorgeous bar where the atmosphere is quite different altogether.

photo 4photo 4 copyphoto 2 copyphoto 1 copy 3photo 1 copyphoto 1 copy 2 photo 2 copy 2We settled in, ordered a bottle of South African red and asked for the Dim Sum menu. The room was beautiful, and the atmosphere lovely – perfect for a date. I can’t say I behaved particularly well though, as I interrupted mid-conversation to ask if we could order. I think with all the dim sum flying around I was a bit overly excited…

photo 1 copy 4We ordered our dishes in waves, starting with, of course, soup dumplings (or Shanghai pork dumplings on the menu). We really enjoyed most of the dishes – the Shanghai fried dumplings, Siu Mai, beef dumplings and roast pork buns perfectly made. One dish we didn’t enjoy was the BBQ Pork Cannelloni (not pictured) – it looked as grim as it tasted, and in hindsight it sounded horrible so what were we thinking!?

photo 5 copy 3photo 4 copy 3 photo 3 copyphoto 1 copy 5 photo 2 copy 5 photo 2 copy 3The xiaolongbao arrived, and as I opened the lid on the basket Mr. A seemed disappointed. After all my fuss I think he was expecting something spectacular – and to be honest so was I. In New York you could get an order of 8 massive soup dumplings for $4.25 – these dumplings were about a quarter of the size for twice the price. Although tasty, they had nothing on their New York equivalent!

Dim SumDespite this, I had such a lovely time at China Tang. The room is lovely, and the interesting paintings on the wall gave us so much to talk about. Dim Sum is always perfect for a date as sharing meals family style is always so much more fun! Be prepared to flash the cash though – although I was treated to this lovely meal I know it must have set Mr.A back a pretty penny.  And although the other dishes were delicious, my hunt for the perfect soup dumplings in London continues…

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China Tang at the Dorchester is located on 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA.

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Brita, Thai iced tea and my first giveaway!

I was recently contacted by Brita to take part in their Better with Brita campaign. Brita products reduce unwanted substances found in tap water, like chlorine and heavy metals improving the taste and quality of water. This is great for cooking, and Brita have partnered with food magazine Delicious in the launch of their ‘Better with Brita’ competition! Brita and Delicious want to find people who are passionate about good quality food, made with filtered water and quality, local ingredients to participate in their competition. The competition invites people to submit their creations to win a chance to attend The Big Feastival to sell their creations and gain recognition. For more information about the competition, check it out here!Better with BRITA logoBrita sent me a Marella jug to try out, and I decided to make some Thai iced tea with some of the tea I purchased while I was in a market in Cambodia. Thai iced tea is deliciously sweet, with a vibrant orange colour and is perfect for a summer drink, if made with fresh and pure water.

photo 2Thai Iced TeaThai Iced Tea

Brita, Thai iced tea and my first giveaway!
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This Thai iced tea recipe is sweet, refreshing and the perfect summer drink.
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: One Pot
  • Thai iced tea leaves
  • Condensed milk
  • Ice cubes
  • Boiled filtered water
  1. Make the tea using the tea leaves, and set to stand until room temperature.
  2. In the meantime, put some condensed milk at the bottom of the glass and place ice cubes.
  3. Once the tea is at room temperature, pour over the tea and stir, adding sugar if desired.
  4. It is very sweet, with the addition of the condensed milk so be sure to taste the tea first!
Thai Iced TeaThai Iced TeaThai Iced TeaThai Iced TeaThai Iced Tea

As part of the campaign Brita are also offering the chance for one of my readers to win a Marella jug (RRP £21)! For the chance to win, simply  leave a comment, or follow me on Twitter and Bloglovin’ below and follow the link below:  This competition is UK only.


I’m also a contributor over at the Fitzrovian – everything you’ll need to know about Fitzrovia in London. If you’re interested, check it out!

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Restaurant Review: Sushi Mania, Golders Green

I’ve found it close to impossible to find affordable, tasty and good quality sushi in London. Having grown up in New York and Tokyo, where it’s so easy to get nice sushi I’ve found that it’s one of the only downsides to living here (that, and the fact that the tube doesn’t run all night). I’m usually pretty open to fusion cuisines, but I can’t stomach the ‘Western’ twists places like Yo! Sushi or itsu do – sushi doesn’t need cream cheese or mayonnaise, and miso soup definitely doesn’t need sugar, in my opinion!

Which is why when a friend told me about Sushi Mania in Golders Green I was sceptical. All you can eat sushi for £15? Considering the only place I’d had nice sushi in London up until this point was Matsuri St. James, which is incredible, but not cheap, my guard was definitely up. But I love being proved wrong, and Sushi Mania definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s definitely worth booking ahead, and going early as this place gets pretty packed! sushi mania

We were one of the first customers at half six, but the place was fully packed by the time our first dishes arrived.

photo 2 Sushi Maniaphoto 3

When you book, you are given a timeframe – around an hour and forty five minutes for your table, so it’s good to arrive promptly. Sushi Mania offers an ‘all you can eat’ menu for £15.80. Usually, all you can eat places are buffet style, which I’m not a fan of. But at Sushi Mania you are given a menu, where you can mark off six dishes at a time. Once you’ve finished six dishes, you can order six more items off of the menu, as many times as you want. There are no restrictions on how many you can order, but some dishes do have supplementary charges. There is one catch though – any wasted or unfinished dishes are charged extra, and you can’t take any leftovers home, so it’s good to pace yourself!

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Mr. A and I usually make it three rounds before we are ready to explode. It is delicious though – all the fish is fresh, and the selection is great! You can get sushi, katsu curry, and even more traditional items like nasu dengaku, which Mr. A had here for the first time. It’s an aubergine dish roasted with miso sauce and they do it really well at Sushi Mania.Sushi maniaSalmon avocado temaki (handroll)

photo 2 copy 2Nasu dengaku

photo 3 copy 2Agedashi tofu (deep fried tofu)

photo 3 copySalmon and tuna avocado rolls
photo 4 copyGyoza

With service and soft drinks (I had a pot of green tea), the meal set us back £35 for the two of us. Considering the quality and the amount of food we had, I think it’s the best value f or money for sushi in London by far! Another ex-pat New Yorker also mentioned that this place having the best sushi in London – so between the two of us – the fussy New Yorker and the picky Japanese girl this place gets our seal of approval.

Sushi Mania is located at 130 Golders Green Road, London, NW11 8HB.

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