Monday, 6 May 2013

Guest blog: Kris's Gluten Free Cordon Bleu

Hopefully I will have a whole host of guest blogs on here at some point or another, today its my Fiance's turn to show us what she is made of.

Kris: One of my favorite dishes is Cordon Bleu but due to Chris having a Gluten Intolerance I can't use bread crumbs or flour, also we are trying to keep the carbs on the lower side so I added a bacon wrap to the recipe to give it a crunchy coating, I used smoked bacon to add flavor to the dish and I used a cream cheese and chive stuffing for the chicken.

Serves 2

  • 2 Whole chicken breast fillets
  • 100 Grams full fat cream cheese (Philadelphia will work)
  • 1 Table spoon chopped chives (fresh preferably)
  • 2 Bulbs, finely chopped garlic
  • 4 pieces of smoked bacon (any veriaty/cut)
  • Olive oil for brushing
To Cook:
  1. Pre heat oven to 180C.
  2. Make a pocket in the middle of each chicken breast.
  3. Mix the chives, garlic and cream cheese and spoon into each breast fillet.
  4. Wrap each chicken breast with 2 slices of bacon and then brush with a little olive oil.
  5. Place into a baking tray or dish and cook for 20-30 mins depending on the oven.
  6. Serve and enjoy.

Chris: I really enjoyed this, I suggested to Chris to combine with a basic garden salad with some grated carrot and radish and spice it up plus a very basic dressing. the ingredients are below.

Spicy Sweet Garden Salad

  • 1/2 Cucumber sliced into medallions
  • 3 Whole tomatoes chopped into slices
  • A bag of mixed leaf salad including rocket (we got ours from the farmers market)
  • 1 Small Carrot grated
  • 2-3 Radishes grated and 1 for garnish chopped
  • 2-3 Table spoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 Tea spoon of salt
  • 1/2 Tea spoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 Juice of lemon

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Weekend in Little Venice Part 2 The Waterway Restaurant Review

I've been passing a certain restaurant on my running route along the canal way from Queens Park to Little Venice and because there are no signage visible from the water way I've not known what the restaurant was called.

I've really wanted to try this particular place out as its not in the heart of Little Venice but just outside and it has a nice view of Sakura (cherry blossoms) and a big old church next to a school which is quite nice for that particular waterway as just up the road are council flats, a motor way and a factory!

The Venue:
The Waterway
54 Formosa Street
London, W9 2JU
Tel: 020 7266 3557

Reviewers: My self and my fiance Kristine both passionate about food, Kris has owned her own catering company in the Philippines and I'm a chef in training.

Allergy notes: The menus had no allergy information however the waiters were happy to change certain things and the menu does mention that. 
Environment: The Waterside is a small to medium sized restaurant which sits right next to the canal side and allows you to watch passing boats or the petals fall off all the local cherry blossom treas, the location is very nice and as its just outside of Little Venice it feels a bit hidden which gives you that off the beaten track feeling just a little bit.

The crowd that was dining were mainly local middle class Londoners who were all chatty but polite and subdued.

We didn't spend much time inside the Restaurant but it seemed cozy and clean inside the main building and I'd guess it would make an excellent meet up spot for friends and locals alike.

The outside has two main areas, the raised, decked canopy area for dining outdoors and a sunken picnic spot which would be nice for a quick snack.

The decor outside is a little off as the childish deck chairs look like they were taken from a park and the metal tables in the canopy area have seen better days, its also a little cramped which can take away from the mood.

Finally I didn't check but my Fiance attests that the toilets were nice and clean. (female)

My score 8/10 
Kris's score 9/10

The Service: We were treated well and it was at a very busy time that we were eating, we were shown our table, brought menus and even the food was delivered very quickly.

When your dining out doors they waiters ask that you give your card to start a tab or to pay cash there and then which I thought was a little odd and did put me at odds a little although you can easily walk off from outside, I would have expected a bit more trust.

I unfortunately was sitting near one of the patio heaters and I felt like I was dining in heat which was a bit too much south of comfortable even Kris who sat opposite me felt it and the heater was behind me.

The cutlery was clean and all matching set which was nice the condiments were a little fast food for me, typical ketchup and mayo in small ceramic pots and mine had some extra sweet chili on the side, the salt and pepper shakers were a little beat up as well!

My score 7/10 
Kris's score 7/10

The Food: For me the food was the most disappointing part of dining at the Waterside, the menu looks great, the food sounds like classy pub food with some twists.

The reality wasn't so good, we both ordered grilled jerk chicken which sounded fantastic, a sweet fruity coleslaw to compliment the spicy chicken. What we got was flavorless barbecue chicken and a coleslaw which had a whole lot of carrots a pinch of sliced apple and a few raisins with hardly any sauce. The chicken was also cooked with rosemary (which I like with pork and chicken) however the herbs were burnt beyond having any flavor and and pretty sure I had two thighs, I prefer thighs but to pay £14.50 and get the cheaper cut of chicken didn't seem right. The worst part of our meal was the chips, they were clearly oven chips, they weren't even the best oven chips I'd even had. 

I'm pretty sure they saved a lot of money cooking thighs, bulking the coleslaw with carrots and buying oven chips but I wasn't happy. 

The Iced Tea cheered me and up and made me think that their cocktails might be something they excel at, it was mild, sweet and fresh at the same time.

In hindsight the next time I dine out and write a review I'll make sure to order a different meal than the other reviewers and maybe ask for the speciality first, so I apologize for that, I did however notice the Waterside Burger looked very good and was very popular.

It looked hand made, it looked juicy and it had a toasted sesame bun to go with it.
I talked to a couple who had the burger and although they were very friendly and polite they gave a very vague review which isn't really worth mentioning they said it was OK basically. Our waiter informed me that it was the most popular dish there, it still came with the oven chips though!

Based on the food, we didn't order any desert I wasn't going to pay any more money for the cheapest of ingredients.

Overall they save a lot on ingredients in the meals and if you do eat there and enjoy burgers go for that and or buy an ice tea or something mixed, we will go back again for drinks but probably not food.

My score 5/10 
Kris's score 7/10

Final verdict: 
My score 6.5

Kris's score 7

I wanted to give it more, I really did, its a nice location but they should focus on their food more, mainly the ingredients.
We will try the Summerhouse which is a floating restaurant owned by the same group just a bit further up the canal, some time soon and run a comparison.

Weekend in Little Venice Part 1 The Unexpected Boat Show

I'd decided this weekend to go and check out the The Waterway which is a small restaurant just on the way to Little Venice from where me and Kris live in Queens Park.

Once we got there I was told that there were no tables outside available under the canopy area, which I think is the nicest area to look at and its where I wanted to eat so although the really friendly waiter tried to sell me on the idea of a canopy less picnic style table or a small table just inside the front door, I was not swayed in the least. It had been raining so I didn't want to be soaked and the table inside just looked dark even though it was next to a window, so I asked if I could book a canopy table for an hours times and come back, which they did so I was very happy and decided that we would walk to the main canal junction in Little Venice and grab a coffee at the Waterside Cafe but to my great surprise I hadn't even realized the Little Venice Boat Show was happening!

The last time I'd come here I'd been living in Stratford so it was nice to be able to come and go so easily. The cafe was far too busy as there were more that 5 times the normal amount of Little Venice visitors so we took a walk down the stalls towards some of the larger chain coffee shops.

We did pass a very nice chocolate specialist store called Chocololo where the chef had a large selection of special chocolate treats, as we were just going for a coffee and really hungry as we were waiting on a table we decided to get something, Kristine convinced me that the chocolate strawberries were the way to go and I didn't really put up a fight, go on then! We grabbed a tub of white and dark chocolate strawberries and headed to the local Starbucks.

Unfortunately we only had time to glance at some of the other stalls as by the time we had our coffees we had to walk back or avoid missing out on our table.

I've written a review of the meal we had at The Waterway Restaurant as a separate blog so please go and check it out, much more information about the restaurant also.

We did return to the festival to grab some new herbs for our ever developing garden and we both agreed that we had an awesome day out even though the we didn't know if it was rain or sunshine.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Chris and Kris's Hash Browns

I've always liked hash browns I think of them as the chips of the breakfast world, I don't know if you agree with that but its how I like my starch in the morning, however, I don't really like most of the store bought ones and the recipes that I found online looked a bit plain and didn't seem to agree on how to cook them so I figured I'd make my own the way that I wanted to.

I was horribly injured during this fry up and had to hand over the cooking and preparing over to Kris only 5 minutes in and since this is a new recipe then shes just as responsible as I am, hence her name on the title!

I found the ideas here quite easy and fun, I didn't want to use eggs, I already had eggs in my breakfast, I wanted to use the starch from the potato, I wanted to grate first and cook later so I decided to part steam and part fry the mix. Its important to steam as it keeps a lot of the starch which would wash away with boiling, I also wanted them a bit lighter and sweeter so I added some carrots to the mix.

"Viola hash browns the way that I want them!"
Please try this out and let me know what you think.

Serves 2

Main ingredients:

  •  2 small to medium size floury potatoes
  •  2 small to medium carrots
  •  1/2 small to medium onion
  •  15-20 grams of unsalted butter
  •  1 tea spoon of sage
  •  1 tea spoon of rosemary
  •  1/2 tea spoon of sea salt
  •  1/2 tea spoon of black pepper.

To cook:

1. Clean and peel the potatoes and carrots.

2. In a clear microwavable bowl add the butter and herbs and put into the microwave on defrost for 30 seconds or until the butter melts, if you have Pyrex you could place it on a hob or into a pan with a little water. 

3. Peel the onion and cut into quarters.

4. Grate the potatoes, carrots and onion straight into a collider if your going to steam above a pan or into the container for the steamer if you have one.

5. Steam for 8-10 mins then place the grated mix into the bowl with the melted butter and add the salt and pepper.

6. Stir the mix with a spoon and roll into balls with your hands (see picture)

7. Place the balls onto a clean surface such as a cutting board and pat down with whatever instrument you think will do the job, we use a silicon spatula, you can pat them back into any shape that you want at this stage.

8. In a large pan pop whatever cooking oil you wish and fry until golden brown on each side.

9. Serve with what ever else you fancy, ideas could include bacon and eggs as we did, Wiltshire ham and eggs, you get the idea!

10. Enjoy.

Allergy advice:
Gluten free, Nut free.

Diet types:
Paleo friendly if you like potato.