Showing posts from 2018

#21 Expect glitz and glamour at the brilliant Dakota Deluxe this holiday season.

The festive season raised its head last week as we were invited to try out the outstanding new menus being offered at Dakota Deluxe in Leeds.
With a five star rating on Trip Advisor and ranked as the best hotel in Leeds, it is fair to say when we were asked to visit last week to try out their seasonal menus, we were quick with our reply. Dakota Deluxe offers an elegance hard to find elsewhere in Leeds. Guests are welcomed in style with an interior that sets a sophisticated tone. Having visited before, it is quite clear that Dakota Deluxe is a place which means business whilst also providing a backdrop for those who want to kick back, relax and enjoy an excellent experience in fine food and drink.

It is worth mentioning at this point that Dakota Deluxe is part of a small group of exclusive hotels which command exceptional standards. Floor to ceiling windows for example in the 'Boardroom' make the perfect backdrop for corporate events. Similarly, expect a dedicated events team to …

#20 Good food, drinks and gaming at Victoria Gate Casino last Wednesday!

You won’t be left short on good food, drinks and gaming at the brilliant Victoria Gate Casino in Leeds. We were welcomed into their trendy Curve Bar last week to sample cocktails before a three course tasting menu. Overlooking the busy action of the casino floor below; I opted for a Brockmans Bramble signature cocktail. It tasted excellent - fresh and delicately served. With various other names from the Queens English to a Smugglers Mojito – there is certainly an impressive list of champagne, classic and contemporary cocktails on offer here.

We headed to our table for the evening and settled down to excellent food. Like the drinks, the food menu is extensive and serves up vegan friendly alongside the more traditional. For starters, I settled with a delicious whitebait served with crispy kale and an excellent lemon crème fraiche. The grill packs a punch with delicious T-bone, fillet and sirloin options available but tonight I was drawn to the main menu and the Gourmet Burger which is …

#19 Cheeky Bang Bang Pickle with natural yogurt

Ideal as starter, delicious as a side or perfect on its own – this Cheeky Food co Bang Bang Pickle with yogurt will taste simply fantastic. I used this recipe to accompany a starter with poppadom's for a vegetarian curry night with friends – the result – a definite crowd favourite.
Serves: 4. Time: Under 10 minutes to prepare
Ingredients 4 heaped tablespoons of natural yogurt 1 heaped teaspoon of Cheeky Food Co Bang Bang Pickle 1 teapsoon of nigella seeds 1 small handful if chopped coriander
Method 1.Using a decorative side dish - add the natural yogurt 2.Add the Cheeky Bang Bang Pickle on top of the yogurt 3.Sprinkle over the nigella seeds before topping with the coriander 4.Serve as a side to a main dish or simply enjoy on its own as a dip with raw vegetables

A delicious mix of hot Indian scotch bonnet and bullet chilli with fennel, fenugreek, mustard seeds and sunflower oil make this pickle from Cheeky Food Co a delicious choice - find out more at

#18 Raw zucchini, toasted almonds, tomato and truffle oil

Arriving for an all out beer style stag do - i was left unsure whether a visit to Barcelona would include good food - let alone authentic style tapas. I was in fact proved wrong and we actually got the chance to eat in some really fantastic places. We ordered tapas one night and one of the small plates which arrived was this raw zucchini with truffle oil. It tasted absolutely amazing and therefore couldn't help but remember the recipe to then make once i had arrived home.

Serves 2 (ideal as a small plate to accompany a meal or simply brilliant on it own) Time: 10 minutes to make 
Ingredients: 1 large courgette 1 heaped tablespoon of flaked almonds 1 small handful of sun dried tomatoes 50 g of Parmesan cheese  A drizzle of white truffle oil A drizzle of red wine vinegar
Method: 1. Start by toasting the almonds until just brown in a shallow frying pan on a medium heat. 2. Using a peeler, peel the courgette into strips and place into a large mixing bowl. Once the almonds have browne…

#17 Home from Home – An April visit to the Home dining experience in Leeds.

Discretely located and hidden above the shops on Kirkgate, only a sign titled ‘Home’ will give you an idea that something awaits. We opened the door last Thursday and stepped away from the busy street. We climbed a flight of stairs to be met by smiles and a warm welcome – we had arrived at Home – a stylish and comfortable new restaurant from innovative and new thinking chefs Elizabeth Cottam and Mark Owens. Masterchef meets Michelin star – the duo behind Home use each month as an opportunity to showcase the very best in locally sourced and seasonal food.
Taking our seats for this afternoon, it was hard not to appreciate the warm tones and natural light that floods the restaurant at Home. The tables are subtly decorated whilst the restaurant extends into an open kitchen where the chefs and service staff all appear to work effortlessly. In fact, the service at Home crafts a fine balance between relaxed and informal yet orchestrated and perfected. The team here are both passionate and k…

#16 Cheeky Cauliflower with a very Cheeky Chilli Bang-Bang Pickle

I’m roasting the humble cauliflower in a delicious spice mix before topping with a Cheeky Chilli Bang-Bang Pickle. This fiery roasted  and vegan friendly cauliflower dish will serve as the ideal accompaniment to a main meal or will stand alone as a go to Indian style snack. 
Easily serves 2 people 30 minutes to prepare and cook
Ingredients 4 tablespoons of olive oil Half (400g) a washed cauliflower with green leaves removed. 1 heaped teaspoon of ground coriander 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin 1 level teaspoon of turmeric Small handful of chopped coriander 1 heaped tablespoon of natural yogurt (leave aside to make this vegan friendly) 1 heaped teaspoon of Cheeky Chilli Bang-Bang Pickle from those at the Cheeky Food Co. (see link below) Salt and pepper for seasoning
Method 1. Start by preheating the oven to 200 degrees. 2. Mix together the oil and spices in a mug and set aside. 3. Take the washed cauliflower and slice, chop and cut this however you like into manageable but chunky bitesize p…

#15 Sampling all things new at Sukhothai this month...

We arrived to a busy event at the brilliant Sukhothai last Tuesday as the team hosted an evening of fabulous food. We became the first to try and sample their new menu which has not seen a change in 15 years. We were greeted with smiles and a warm welcome before ordering a round of Singha’s and taking our seats at the bar. It would be fair to say we were excited for tonight’s new menu. We had visited earlier in the year and remarked then on how good Sukhothai produces a feeling of Thailand through good food and excellent service. Tonight was no different; commenting again on how Sukhothai cares for those who visit in both of these ways. 
(Sukhothai have four restaurants - we visited their restaurant located on the South Parade in Leeds)
Sukhothai was busy with early evening diners. We picked up our drinks and made our way from the bar and into the restaurant. As we did so we couldn’t help but take in the pictures of Sukhothai’s history. Owner Ban Kaewkraikhot has worked hard to build …

#14 Visiting Sukhothai

Sawasdee Ka! Five-star food treatment is exactly what we got after visiting the award winning Sukhothai restaurant in Leeds last night. Meaning the ‘dawn of happiness’ Sukhothai did exactly that – as both of us were overwhelmed with the quality of food and service which was presented to us.
We settled at our seats in the busy restaurant located on the South Parade in Leeds. We ordered drinks – namely the bottled Chang so familiar with this fabulous part of south east Asia - before reading through the menu and ordering our food this evening. It must be noted that the list of food at Sukhothai is extensive and truly authentic (owner and head chef Ban Kaewkraikhot opened her first UK restaurant in 2002 in Chapel Allerton following 8 years of running her restaurant in Bangkok).
Having decided our starters, we were not waiting long until we were served our food. First up was a Satay Gai consisting of skewered and grilled tender chicken served with a deliciously smooth peanut sauce.We also …

#12 Beer can chicken

Beer butt chicken may have origins stateside, but it was Jamie Oliver who really kick started the idea of oven style beer can chicken here in the UK. The lager adds flavour but its real beauty is keeping the moisture (constant steam) through a full roast. Alternatively – a can of cider would work equally well here. This is my version and includes just about any dry spice you can lay your hands on! It is easily adapted and you should experiment a little with the spices substituting those you may not have. All of my recipes have been tried and tested. All photos are my own.
Serves 4 
Ingredients 1 medium organic and sustainable chicken 1 half can of lager 1 heaped tablespoon of light muscovado sugar (alternatively dark if you have it) 1 teaspoon each of – ground cumin, ground coriander, yellow mustard powder, garam masala, turmeric, ground black pepper, fennel seeds ½ teaspoon of ground chilli powder. 3 tablespoons of olive oil A good pinch of Maldon sea salt
To garnish 1 handful of chopp…

#11 Sardines with red rice, quinoa, Skyr and pomegranate.

Gloriously nutty and super food healthy - this simple dish follows on from my last recipe where I am using sardines as the centre piece. Alongside the sardines, i am also taking inspiration from my recent Iceland trip. I am using Skyr yogurt for extra taste and all round balance. It can be easily adopted by using brown rice and normal Greek style yogurt if the Skyr isn't available.

Serves 2 - 15 minutes


1 tin of sardines (120g)
125g of cooked red rice and quinoa mixed
1 whole pomegranate with seeds set aside
1 small handful of packet mixed seeds (sunflower and pumpkin work well)
1 small handful of chopped coriander - enough for a heaped tablespoon
2 tablespoons of Skyr Icelandic style yogurt
Extra virgin olive oil


Firstly cook the red rice and quinoa mix as per packet instructions. Serve the rice mix. Meanwhile, place the sardines on top of the rice mix and dollop with a generous serving of Skyr (about a tablespoon per serving).

Sprinkle the pomegranates and mixed …

#10 Toasted sourdough with sardines and smashed avocado (makes 2 servings)

Superfood overload – healthy and nutritious – this simple but delicious recipe will make lunch times a meal to look forward to. All of these ingredients listed below are readily available in the supermarket. You will find the mixed lentil and sprout mix in the fresh produce section.
Ingredients: 1 avocado – cut in half and scooped into a bowl 1 sourdough loaf 2 tins of sardines (6 small individual sardines are needed for this recipe – I have found each shop bought tin contains around 4 individual sardines) Mixed lentil and sprout mix Extra virgin olive oil Seasoning
Method 1.Smash the avocado with the back of a tablespoon in a round bowl. Meanwhile, toast the sourdough. Once toasted, roughly spread the avocado on the sourdough. 2.Open the sardines and place each on the prepared sourdough. 3.Sprinkle a small handful of the mixed lentil and sprout mix over each sardine and avocado before finally seasoning with salt and pepper. 4.As a final touch – drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil.

#9 Velkomin a Islandi

We picked up our tour guide ‘Vlad’ at the airport in the usual fashion of looking around for boards held up with our names plastered across in bold writing. Before we travelled we'd imagined what Vlad might look like. We imagined him to maybe resemble a Viking (he did indeed resemble a Viking, only a little shorter in height and less hair) Vlad led us to our coach and there we met his accomplice – and driver - ‘The Silver Panther’ – we never understood his name fully and so we settled with ‘Vlad and Pinkie’ (Pinkie because we thought the 'Pink Panther' sounded better than the 'Silver Panther') – It was taken in good spirit and so on we travelled to our first taste of Iceland – an all you can Italian pizza restaurant.
Grendavik is an affluent harbour town by all accounts but appeared no different to other towns we visited – typically characterised by isolated houses in a rainbow of colours – some blue, others red. Each town was quiet – Iceland is an outpost for sur…