Archive of ‘food’ category

Now Cook It with Co-op

 

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I recently came home from work to discover a box full of ingredients on my doorstep. Intriguing, right? Further investigation revealed that it was from Co-op, who had sent me everything I needed to make a Roasted Vegetable Couscous. I have to say, though I like eating (a lot), I don’t do an awful lot of cooking. I’m really lazy, though I am trying harder lately, and this came just at the right time to give me a kick up the bum!

Co-op have teamed up with SORTEDfood to create #nowcookit, an online cooking course that is looking to ‘tackle the cooking skills gap’ that they identified among millennials. Now I totally count as a millennial, even though I’m a little older than the 16-24 year olds mentioned in the research. I have an interest in learning to cook, I just never seem to find the time. #nowcookit is designed to show that you don’t need loads of time, or loads of fancy equipment, and the Roasted Vegetable Couscous showed me that tasty, healthy food isn’t that hard! Something I should have learned before now, I know.

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As well as being available in a full text version, the recipes are also available as videos, from the team at SORTEDfood. This is a fun and engaging video, though it would be entirely possible for the whole thing to come across as cheesy, it doesn’t, and having watched it, I was eager to try my hand at the cooking!

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Anyone who regularly cooks would think that this was a walk in the park – it was literally just chopping up some veg and throwing it into a roasting dish, and then adding the lemon and garlic to give the whole thing some flavour. Cooking the couscous was easy too, and then it all just gets thrown together. The recipe calls for adding some cucumber, tomatoes and Greek yoghurt as an additional salad, but I went without that and just took the whole thing to work the next day for my lunch.

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In all honesty, courgette is not my favourite vegetable. In fact, I have issues with all cooked vegetables (I will eat all vegetables raw but am picky when they are cooked!). But this was so flavoursome that I got over my initial misgivings and enjoyed it very much! The lemon and garlic add so much depth to the vegetables that it was really tasty, and it was so easy.

You can find the Now Cook It course here; there are tips for cooking skills and techniques, and if you sign up for the course, you can earn status and awards. It’s a great source of inspiration, and there are loads of recipes to choose from. Even if you’re a little more adventurous in the kitchen than me!

*Co-op sent me the ingredients for this dish but as always, all views and opinions are my own.

Ultimate Comforts at Pizza Express

January isn’t traditionally the best of months, so popping along to Pizza Express to try out their new Ultimate Comforts menu was a welcome bright spot in a bleak month! The range of comforting and warming dishes has been launched to help us all get through the winter months with a treat.

I headed along to Pizza Express in Colchester; I took advantage of a day off after a long weekend of working hard, and took Hannah along with me (she had spent all weekend working hard too!). The new menu actually features dishes that have all previously appeared on the main menu, but are making a comeback due to customer demand.

Ultimate Comforts Pizza ExpressThe only starter on the Ultimate Comforts menu is Pennette Formaggi, a Pizza Express take on Mac & Cheese. As delicious as this looked, for me, it’s a little too much for a starter, so I opted for the old favourite of Dough Balls. You can also order the pasta starter as a  main, but when I go to Pizza Express, I want pizza!

 

I chose the Barbacoa Pizza – pulled Barbacoa beef, spicy chipotle salsa, garlic oil, mozzarella and tomato. It was quite spicy, but really tasty. it was huge though – I couldn’t manage it all!

Barbacoa Pizza - Pizza Express

As a vegan, unfortunately there wasn’t anything on the special menu for Hannah to have, so she went for her tried and trusted Pizza Express pizza – the Pianta. It’s a cheeseless pizza, and comes with spinach, mushrooms, artichoke, rocket and pine kernels.

Vegan Pianta Pizza - Pizza Express

Despite vague intentions to participate in Dry January (and maybe dry 2017), I ended up ordering an alcoholic drink, because I couldn’t resist the lure of Sloe Prosecco.

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The dessert option on the Ultimate Comforts menu is a delicious Chocolate Fondant. Three courses might seem a bit decadent, but when the food is this good, it’s necessary! Again, there wasn’t a vegan option on the dessert menu for Hannah, so unfortunately she had to sit and watch me eat.

Chocolate Fondant Pizza Express

Now that we’ve finally made it to January payday, if you’re still feeling that post-Christmas slump, get yourself to Pizza Express!

This meal at Pizza Express was provided free of charge. This does not affect the integrity of my review, all opinions are my own. 

 

Burger Club – Love Thy Burger

A little while ago, my friend Lucy and I decided to go out for a burger. It was one of those ‘Let’s do that’ type of plans that didn’t happen for ages, but when it did, we wanted to try and find the best burger we could. The ruminations on this, which came to include our friend Laura, turned into a desire to find the best burger in Colchester, which is near to where we all live.

Our Burger Club plan is hitting a major stumbling block in the next couple of weeks, as Lucy is leaving us to head to university in Kent, and so our club meetings will have to be during holiday times when she comes back to see us. But it’s hopefully going to be something of an ongoing thing, so I hope this is just the first of many posts about burgers!

Not really knowing where to start, I put out a tweet asking for advice, and got a couple of suggestions. In the end, we decided to try Love Thy Burger, a small restaurant on Colchester High Street. It’s nothing fancy, and you wouldn’t plan to spend an awful lot of time in there, but it was a nice place to sit for an hour and eat and chat. The decor is deliberately industrial, it’s clean, and the staff were friendly and helpful. It’s a place where you go and order at the counter, which gives you an idea as to the type of place this is.

 ~ The Burger of Liberty. Forgive the less than amazing photography skills! ~

We all had something different from the menu. Lucy had the Scorchio, with chilli jam, Monterey Jack Cheese, smoky streaked bacon, jalapeno and lime mayonnaise, and LTB’s own spicy sauce. She liked it, but declared that it was probably a little hot for her. Perfect, I should imagine, if you like your food spicy!

Laura had the Cheesy Lee, with red onion marmalade, Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and ketchup. She liked hers a lot!

I had the Burger of Liberty with red onion marmalade, pastrami, gherkin, American mustard, Monterey Jack cheese, tomato, lettuce and mayonnaise. I think I liked my burger the most out of the three of us; it was the pastrami that really gave it the edge! It tasted like America, which I think has a lot to do with the aforementioned pastrami, and I really liked it.

We got all three sides that are available; rosemary fries, onion rings and coleslaw. The fries are great – the rosemary really adds something different!

Ultimately, Love thy Burger is a really nice place to grab a quick bite. It feels nice to sit in there and eat and chat, and the staff were friendly. I’ll definitely be going back; it’s the perfect place to grab something quick and the burgers taste great.

 

Sourced Locally Fortnight

Sourced Locally Fortnight is a two-week celebration at the East of England Co-op that does exactly what you think it does: it celebrates locally sourced food and drink The aim is to show how amazing local farmers, butchers, brewers and bakers are, and to make buying local food as easy as possible. At a time when many people are concerned with their carbon footprint and where their food comes from, it’s good to know that there is a place where you can shop and worry less about that sort of thing (if you’re in the East of England, that is!).

I was provided with some vouchers so I could shop at an East of England Co-op, and sample some of the local produce that was on offer. I never do a ‘big’ shop at a Co-op, as I find it a bit more expensive than the other supermarkets, so it was fun to take a look and see what I was missing!

I shopped in the middle of the Sourced Locally fortnight, so there were a couple of displays in store with a great selection of food and drink. I hadn’t realised what a selection there would be, to be honest, expecting it to be mainly fruit and vegetables. On the display as soon as I entered the store, there was jam, pasta, apple juice, tea, coffee, cakes, cookies – so much stuff! I had to be careful not to spend everything I had just on this display!

In the end, I was pretty pleased with my selection. I got pasta, pasta sauce, ice cream, vinegar, tomato sauce, strawberries, jam, salt, steak, coleslaw, potatoes and loads more! I really wanted to get some Wilkins & Sons jam, because Tiptree Jam Factory is a favourite, and I also wanted some Maldon Sea Salt, because I spend so much time in Maldon. Everything else was very local, of course – the potatoes were from a farm that is very, very close to where I work!

Because I had all this yumminess, I had to make something nice for dinner, so I had steak, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and sweetcorn. The steak and potatoes were the Sourced Locally items, and they were just delicious! And then I just had to eat some Rossi’s ice cream for dessert. That was never going to last long in my freezer.

I’m really pleased with everything I got with my voucers, but I have to say that ultimately, I can’t afford to shop like this for myself. The items are good quality, and taste amazing, and the price refelcts that. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to regularly shop at those prices, but I’m pleased that I’ve had my eyes opened to the vast range of food and drink that are available from local sources, and I think I’ll be going back to stock up on certain things (the steak for a start!).

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Five {Pancake Toppings} I’m Loving Right Now

It’s Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras; whatever you choose to call it, it basically gives you licence to eat. Which is nice, because I don’t really need any encouragement to eat, but when the name of the food is in the day of celebration, you can’t really argue with that.

I don’t always get around to eating pancakes on Pancake Day. The truth of the matter is that I get bored of them really, really quickly, so after one and a half, I’m done. I probably won’t even end up having any today, but I’ll just defer my eating to another day, possibly at the weekend, and I’ll be having at least one of these toppings when I do.

Nutella

These days, it seems Nutella is pretty much everyone’s go-to pancake topping, and I’m no different. I could easily eat Nutella out of the jar, but as that’s probably frowned upon, I usually try and eat it like an adult, with something. I had Nutella on pancakes at my friend Lucy’s house fairly recently, when it was World Nutella Day. They were so yummy that there’s no reason not to repeat that.

Lemon and Sugar

This might be considered the more boring option these days, but it’s what I am used to – we never had chocolate spread or peanut butter or anything fancy when I was growing up, it was always lemon and sugar. I love the Jif lemons that you can still buy, and so this is definitely always still an option for me.

Banana and Peanut Butter

I can be a bit weird around a banana – even a hint of squishiness, and I’m out of there. But as long as the bananas are firm, combining them with peanut butter is a sure winner. Peanut butter is a bit like Nutella in that sense – I can pretty much eat it at any given moment. 

Ice Cream and any sauce

I love ice cream, especially when it’s paired with something hot. Ice cream and apple crumble is the best, y’all. So adding it to the top of a pancake straight out of the pan is a winner, and then drizzling over chocolate sauce, or raspberry sauce, or maple syrup is the way to go. it leads to the inevitable weirdness of eating ice cream with a fork, but that’s easily ignored.

Any Fruit

If you’re trying to be good, fruit is a good way to go, particularly if you drizzle with some sort of sauce. Which probably negates the good, but you know, nobody wants a dry pancake. I’ve actually been using a sugar alternative in my tea a bit recently, after Clark’s sent some Carob Fruit Syrup to my office to encourage us to join their Swap Your Sugar challenge, so maybe that’s a good option for my pancakes too.

I know there’s a school of thought that suggests you can go savoury with your pancakes, but it’s not one I subscribe to. I’m all about the sweet, so there’s not a vegetable or a sausage in sight here!

What do you have on your pancakes?

I know this might read like a sponsored post, but it’s really not. I just spotted the Clarks on my desk while I was writing it!

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