Me and Thomas had some much needed time off work towards the end of last month. We’d both been busy in our day jobs in the NHS, so welcomed some time off to do even more cooking and eating than usual!
Day 1 – Smokey Beans & Gardening
Thomas made his standard weekend breakfast dish this morning: Smokey Beans with Hash Browns. It felt a little bit naughty eating it on a Tuesday! He hasn’t got a recipe as such written down for this, he just ‘cobbles’ it together. Below is a rough recipe that I’ve managed to get out of him.
Smokey Beans Recipe:
-Fry up chopped onions until soften, then a selection of beans are added to the pan, depending on what we have in. This is usually a mixture of Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Pinto Beans.
-Throw in some chopped Tomatoes or Passata, and varying spices including Chilli, Smoked Paprika & Cumin.
-Cook everything on a low heat for around 30 minutes, keep stirring, then they’re good to go!
These beans are so bloody tasty! Throw a couple of Eggs in to cook in the mixture for the last 5-10 minutes if you fancy, to turn it into a Huevos Rancheros. It can of course be served on Toast if you have no Hash Browns in, or just serve by themselves.
After a busy morning breaking up our old garden fences and throwing into a skip, for lunch it was using up leftovers with us going away on Thursday.
Thomas’s mum makes some amazing chutneys, and we enjoyed some of her Spicy Tomato Chutney on top of Mature Cheese on Toast (plus Ham for me), with a bit of Rocket salad and Black Pepper.
I stayed at my sister Liz’s that night to help look after her two young kids Archie & Elsie. After putting them down to bed, and waiting for a Gusto order that hadn’t arrived, we opted for a pizza takeout. Enjoyed with a stubby beer of course, I was on my holidays.
Day 2 – Spice Shopping, Samosas & Cooking
After dropping Archie & Elsie off at school and nursery, I met Thomas down at CC Continental Supermarket on Roundhay Road, Harehills, Leeds. We were stocking up on Asian Spices, ready for our charity Curry Night on Saturday down in Shropshire.
This place has literally any spice you can think off. You buy in bulk and its so much cheaper than those tiny jars you get in normal supermarkets. As always at the till were their freshly baked homemade Samosas. That was lunch sorted, 2 Chicken ones for me, and 2 veggie ones for Thomas. I ate mine warmed up with some Tamarind sauce, yoghurt and Mango & Apple chutney that I’d made the other week. These are so good, nice and spicy!
Got home and cooked a veggie wholemeal pasta bake for tea. We had my brother in law David round for tea as he is helping us to put up some new fences in our garden. We also have Emily staying with us this week, Thomas’s colleague. Emily is vegan so this worked for us all. What secret ingredient was used in the pasta? Henderson’s Relish of course. A Yorkshire delicacy, not too dissimilar from Worcester sauce.
We finished the digging and cementing around 9pm, and we now have 4 fences up! The plan is to start a veg patch off once it’s all been done 👍
Day 3 – Road Trip, Cider Museum & Goats Cheese Ice-cream
We started the morning with a hearty breakfast: Baked Beans, Mushrooms & Hash Browns. Thomas had a couple of Duck Eggs on his. I’ve recently discovered that I’m allergic to Eggs so stay away from them now.
Knowing how terrible and over-priced service station food is in the UK, Thomas made some sandwiches with leftovers for us to have for lunch, with a plan to stop off at a nice farm shop enroute for coffee & cake.
We packed up our spices, cooking equipment and headed off on our road trip…..first stop tonight is Hereford.
We picked Hereford as we knew we were in Shropshire Friday & Saturday and thought we’d stop off a night somewhere new. There is also a nice restaurant here of course that we wanted to try!
We came off the M1 motorway near Birmingham so we searched for a nearby farm shop. Oakes, near Coventry, came up so decided to stop here. After eating our sandwiches in the car, we popped in for coffee & cake http://www.oakesfarmshop.co.uk
We arrived at our Air B&B place in Hereford mid-afternoon, checked in, then headed to the nearby Cider Museum, we were in Cider territory after all. After sampling a few local ciders we duly obliged and bought some bottles to take away. The cider was some of best I’ve had, fresh, crisp and full of flavour. Willie Gunn proved to be our favourite.
We ate at Madams & Adams that evening, which describes itself as a casual fine dining restaurant serving small plates.
The highlight dishes were the Whipped Goats Cheese which cane with Beetroot Curd, Savoury Granola & Candied Beetroot, and the Rabbit Croquettes with fermented Plums & Lime Yoghurt. Then to finish it, the winning dessert had to be the Goats Cheese Ice-cream!! Honestly it was amazing! It was all of course washed down with some Willie Gunn cider! https://www.madamadamhereford.co.uk
Day 4 – Wild Garlic & Chocolate Vinyl!
What had started off as a relative normal food day turned into something very random indeed! Breakfast was provided by our lovely Air B&B host Melody……free range eggs from their garden chickens, homemade sourdough bread, butter, jam & marmalade.
It was a short 45 minute drive from Hereford to Ludlow. We met Thomas’s friend Liz for lunch down at CSons at The Green Cafe https://thegreencafe.co.uk. It was a beautiful spot right next to the river.
A few dishes were shared between us including; Cauliflower Pakoras with Dahl & Piccalilli, Labneh with Chickpeas, Flatbread & Harissa, and Broccoli with Dukkah. We left room for dessert and had Lemon Posset with Ginger Biscuit and a Chocolate Tart with a Coffee & Mascarpone Cream.
After lunch we went on a foraging hike, on the hunt for wild garlic, and Liz knew just the spot. After walking a few miles we found it. It’s the leafs of the wild garlic plant that you pick, before it starts to blossom in late spring. We picked a couple of bags full before heading back to Liz & Rob’s where we were staying the night.
Wild garlic is really tasty, it’s fresher and more subtle than your usual shop bought garlic. Liz made a Wild Garlic Pesto that evening and we enjoyed it on some homemade pizzas.
After pizzas and a few glasses of red wine, we were introduced to chocolate vinyl! I didn’t even know such a thing existed. A local artist makes chocolate vinyls from using the grooves of existing records. The chocolate record actually plays on a normal record player. I thought it was a joke at first, until I heard Hot Chocolate being played from their record player! We then broke up the record and ate the delicious chocolate vinyl!! The evening finished with a glass of 4 year old homemade Damson gin!
Day 5 – The Curry Night
The next morning we headed 20 minutes further North in Shropshire to Coalbrookdale as we were staying at another one of Thomas’s friends Elspeth’s house for the night.
As well as catching up with Elspeth, we were also cooking a curry at her kids school to raise some funds as part of a charity night. There were around 40 people there and Thomas had been planning the menu for a few weeks. I was on hand as his sous chef.
For starters, there was a Chaat Salad (Red Onions, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Chickpeas, crispy Samosa pastry, puffed rice, Yoghurt & Tamarind), along with sliced deep fried Patra leaves. Check out Thomas’s blog on these tasty spicy snacks https://toomanycookingblogs.wordpress.com
For mains there was a selection of curries and a Mango & Pineapple chutney that I made last week. The curries were Thomas’s classic Roast Potato curry, as well as Slow Cooked Mutton, Dahl, Coconut & Chickpea, and Chicken & Tomato.
Finally for desert there was Yoghurt sweetened with Jaggery (raw cane sugar), Mango & Pineapple syrup, and Kewra water (a type of floral water). Chopped Mango and toasted flaked Almonds were then sprinkled on top.
Thomas’s food went down really well (those of you who have had eaten his curries before will know just how good they are). His food literally blew peoples minds!! He took the compliments in his usual modest way.
Next Up: Isle of Wight & Veggie Month
Keep posted for my next blog, where I’ll be telling you what we got up to on my recent trip to the Isle of Wight, when I visited for the first time a few weeks back. Oh, and I’ve turned vegetarian for the month in April, so will be writing up my experiences of this shortly!
x The Messy Cook x