Thursday, 14 December 2017

Historic London, Leadenhall Market and Pizza Express

The city of London is full of culture, it has amazing listed buildings and has history that goes back to the first century. One such place in the East End of London is the Leadenhall Market a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station. The market was built on the site of a Roman Basilca in the first century. After the Romans left, sadly the site was left to ruins. It was only in the 1300 that it was relisted and it became a meeting place for poulterers and cheesemongers. It was in 1400’s that the Leadenhall market became the hub of the east end as it became the best place to purchase meat, game, poultry and fish.

As the market grew in popularity a granary and a chapel were added to the site and in 1463 the market became the most important centre of commerce as the beam of tronage and weighing wool. In 1488, the market grew bigger as the leather merchants set up there and in 1622 cutlery was also sold at the market. Sadly after so much growth, the great fire 1666 wiped out and destroyed many parts of the market. The market was rebuilt after the fire and it was divided in to three parts, the beef market, green yard and herb market and it continued to thrive. In 1881, the market had another refurbish and many of the stone structures were replaced with wrought iron and glass. The building was listed as a Grade 11.

In 1900 the market went through another restoration process and it had a Victorian setting with the roof and cobbles. The poultry market continued to thrive in the market until the mid-20 th century now the market is a modern retail centre with the Victorian features of cobbled floors, ornate glass roof and beautiful architecture reminiscing of the old London. The market has had some very famous people visit it such as Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens and for those die hard Harry Potter Fans, the Diagon Alley scenes  from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone were filmed in the market.

I had the opportunity to Visit and dine at the recently refurbished Pizza express set in Leadenhall Market. The restaurant is set in a lovely Grade two listed building. Its recent refurbishment has really enhanced the beauty of the building. The original stone features and wooden beams have been brought back to life and used to accentuate the décor. The restaurant has capacity of 165 seating indoors and 22 seating outside is spread over two floors.

It has been tastefully furnished  to fit in with the historic building . The use of  beautiful paintings, low lighting, mirrors and the addition of appropriate dining  booths and seating has given this pizza express a setting that is modern  but retaining the historic feel and mood of the market.

The restaurant is open Mon-Friday , since the area around is full of city dwellers and not much activity happens around there at weekends.

The restaurant also offers pizza making parties, hosts corporate parties and is available for private parties too.

Unlike any other pizza express restaurants I have visited this certainly was my favourite in view of the ambience, setting and décor.

The food was of course delicious too. The olives and sundried appetisers and the dough balls were a lovely start to the evening together with glasses of prosecco.

The pizza making class that followed was enjoyable and the chef was very funny and engaging. There was a good vibe during the pizza making session.

It was great to mingle with other bloggers as our pizza creations were cooked. My vegetarian pizza was cooked to perfection and was delicious.We finished off our evening with coffee, Baileys and Limoncello.

I was a guest of pizza express all the views and opinions are of my experience of the evening. I really enjoyed visiting the restaurant, the pizza making class was most enjoyable as was the food and drinks. At the moment pizza express also offers a 3 course Christmas menu. I would highly recommend visiting Leadenhall Market and dine at the Pizza Express it is a lovely experience.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Finding the perfect Dinner Service

I have just recently had a kitchen clear out, I have de cluttered all my broken, chipped and mismatched china. I am in the process of replacing everything. Luckily there are so many sales and black Friday deals, that it was the perfect time to do a spot of research. My search led me to the Debenhams dinner set range and I am really pleased to find out there was a massive on line sale and there are 30% - 50%  discounts on a majority of the range.

Ideally I want to purchase a range for daily use, one set for entertaining and I also wanted a basic set for my daughter who is a new graduate living away from home.

A few of my favourite sets that I have short listed are:

My first choice for the formal dinner ware is this Denby - Cream glazed 'Monsoon Lucille' 16 piece dinnerware set. 

The design is inspired by a 1950's lace panel. The gold fine design on soft cream china is elegant and very ornate. It would grace any dinner table beautifully. The set is freezer, microwave, dishwasher and oven safe to so it’s perfect for the modern lifestyle.
The set is on sale for £121.80

I also liked Novello 12pce Dinner Set is part of the Belleek Living Novello Tableware range. I adore the blue/ grey swirl design on the white. The set looks dainty yet robust in its own way.

The set consists of 12 pieces; dinner plates, 4 side plates and 4 bowls. This design is inspired Georgian architecture, this is a modern and extremely stylish and dishwasher and microwave safe.
The set is on special offer at £59.00

Royal Doulton dinner sets are very well known for their quality and class. This luxurious 'Platinum Trim' formal dinner set from Royal Doulton is made from white porcelain. 

It comes as a 12 piece set and includes 4 dinner plates, 4 side plates and 4 cereal bowls. The set is dishwasher safe only. With this is mind I think it would only be practical for occasion use.
The set is on sale for £65.00

For that alfresco dining and summer days the sea green and white Denby 'Azure Coast' range is perfect. The white plates with a mosaic type blue design is both modern and stylish and smart

The stoneware set is practical for daily use since it is, dishwasher, freezer and oven safe. It comprises of 4 x dinner plate, 4 x tea plate, 4 x cereal bowl and 4 x mug. The set is on sale for £188.30

The Denby Jet sixteen piece dinner Set is very masculine, so I am not surprised that my husband really likes it and it was his first choice. It has a smart urban feel with its bold, gloss black with soft dove grey finish. 

This stoneware set is dishwasher, oven, microwave and freezer safe and consists of 4 x dinner plate, 4 x tea plate, 4 x mugs, 4 x bowls.
The set is on sale for £161.00

For my daughter I thought this Home Collection Basics - Blue 12 piece stoneware dinnerware set is real good value for money. 

It is dishwasher and microwave safe. It includes 4 x cereal bowls, 4 x dessert plates, 4 x dinner plates

This set is only £40.00, for a student its affordable and will not be too upsetting if any of the pieces should break!!!

I really like the look of all the sets I have short listed and I think I am going to go for the “Monsoon Lucille” for entertaining, the “Home Collection Basics” for my daughter  and the “Denby Azure Coast” for daily use.

Whilst shopping for dinner sets, I did get sidetracked and stumbled across a range of lovely kitchen ware and electrical gadgets on their website. I instantly fell in love with the Chrome Pressure King Pro - 3L, 8-in-1 Digital Pressure Cooker, . With its 8 pre set settings it would be the perfect kitchen companion for a working parent like my self to create healthy delicious meals in minutes. Do check it out and see what you think.

What do you think of my choices what would you have picked???

**This post is in collaboration with Debenhams. Images used with permission from Debenhams.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Tidbits in my Pantry from B&M

This month I am really excited to show you some tidbits that I got from B&M stores. For those of you who are not aware B&M stores are a type of department store where you can purchase toys, household goods, home furnishings, electricals, kitchenware, stationary and food too.

This time of the year they have a lot of Christmas themed products too.The store offers great bargain and value for money items and lots of deals on food products too.We have a small office at work and wanted to put up a mini tree and have some nibbles and treats for Christmas.

I managed to pick up quite a few things for under £20.00. Our tree decorations had seen better days and needed to be replace badly. I picked up some lovely Christmas bobbles, tree decorations in gold and shimmering champagne pink which will look great and give the tree a much needed face lift.

For our Christmas snacks table I bought  some really delicious savory nibbles such as nuts, bruschetta bites, crackers and pringles too.

For the friends with sweet tooth, I picked up sweet treats too such as these Guylian chocolates, shortbread, Christmassy chocolate wafers in the adorable snowman tin and chocolate coins  and chocolate biscuits too.

I do love shopping at B&M as I can be assured that I can get lots of value for my money and make it stretch further. This is great as I can stick to my budget and not go over it.

Are there any money saving tips that you can you have? Do share them with me in the comments below I would love to know them.

**This post is in collaboration with B&M Stores.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Avocado Supper Club

Avocados also known as the alligator pear, are considered a superfood as they have lots of health benefits. The avocado is high in protein and has mono-saturated fat which is the good fat. They are low in sodium and fructose but high in potassium, and essential vitamins and minerals such as fiber, vitamin K, B5, B6 and C and foliate.  

Eating an avocado a day helps to lower the risk of heart disease, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and helps the body efficiently absorb fat soluble nutrients. It also reduces arthritis symptoms and lowers the risk of certain cancers. It helps to maintain good eye health and also promotes weight loss.
Avocados can be eaten in salads, smoothies, added to soups and can be substituted as spreads or used in baking too.

Before you eat the avocado make sure your avocado is ripe, it usually takes avocados 4 to 6 days to ripen. You can tell when they are ripe by gently pushing down on them. A ripe avocado should give a bit when you add pressure, if the avocado is hard it means it is not yet ripe. You can speed up the ripening process of the avocado by placing it in a paper bag with a banana or apple. The ethylene gas released from the apples and bananas will cause the avocados to ripen faster.

I was recently invited to attend a masterclass in Avocado carving followed by a Avocado supper club sponsored by Avocado fruit of life and Hello Fresh Kitchens in London. 

I was unsure as what to expect but believe me, I was totally bowled over with the entire evening. Look at the amazing menu that was served at the supper club.

The evening started with a masterclass and a demonstration by Food Stylist Colette Dike of Fooddeco in the art of Avocado carving.  

To carve the rose you peel the avocado and de -stone it after which you rub it with some vinegar or lemon juice to stop it going black. 

Next you slice the avocado as thinly as possible and then lay out the slices in a long line overlapping each other. Finally starting at one end you start to roll the slices to create the rose which can then be transferred to a rice cake or a plate.

You can serve the Avocado flower as a starter, drizzled with a vinaigrette dressing and garnished with chilli flakes, poppy seeds and rose petals. 

I really enjoyed creating and carving my own avocado rose which I was rather proud of as I had not done it before.

After the masterclass, we had a chance to mingle over more avocado inspired mocktails and cocktails before we sat down to enjoy a delicious avocado themed supper at a beautifully decorated table.

The starter of sweet corn fritters, served with an avocado centre, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese drizzled with tangy dressing and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds was absolutely amazing. I really enjoyed it as it had all the flavours and textures well balanced.

The main course was spectacular, an avocado bun served with a quinoa burger, avo mayo and sweet potato fries. It was very innovative way to use the avocado itself to sandwich the burger.

The highlight of the evening was the dessert, a vegan avocado and pecan chocolate brownie served with dairy free ice cream, chocolate shavings and raspberries. It was delectable and you would not have guessed that the brownie was vegan.

The meal was delicious and I am totally inspired by the recipes and hope to make more use of avocados in my recipes.

 I was a guest at the Avocado supper club and all the views shared in this post are of my personal experience.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Chai Spiced Banana Muffins and The Vegan Cook book review

My favorite all time fruit is banana but I am rather fussy as to how I like like my bananas. I like to eat them when they are just yellow as soon as they go a darker yellow and brown spots appear I don't like them. That is when they are perfect to add to smoothies and for baking.

My second favorite thing is spices and I love masala chai spice, you can read all about my masala chai spice post here which shows you my love for this awesome fragrant tea spice. So when I was reading The Vegan Cookbook by Adele McConnell, I was really excited to see a recipe for Chai Spiced Banana Muffins. I did not need too much persuasion to recreate the recipe.

The Vegan Cookbook  has 100  recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner together with some love sweet treats and desserts. The book is beautifully illustrated and has inviting food photos.I really like the fact that the author has added symbols to the recipes to annotate if they are soy-free, seed-free, raw, gluten-free, nut-free and sugar free.
The book is perfect for anyone who has newly become vegan as the recipes tips ans ideas are very useful and easy to follow.

Book Details :The Vegan Cookbook By Adele McConnell
ISBN 978-1-84899-338-9
Retails  £9.99

My score for the book: 12/15

Content -4/5
Recipe Instructions-4/5

** I was sent a copy of the book to review as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Coming back to the Chai Spiced Muffins, sadly the first batch I made were really dry and not sweet enough as the original recipe does not have any sugar added to it and relies on the natural sweetness of the banana. I recreated the recipe for the second time but this time I added half a cup of brown sugar to the recipe and also sprinkled some sugar on top of the muffins. I also added a touch more liquid and the muffins turned out much better. Vegan muffins do not have the same texture as normal muffins and these were a little more dense, more like banana bread than muffins. Despite this we did enjoy them.

I took inspiration from the original recipe from the book and below you can see my version that I recreated with minor changes.

print recipe

Chai Spiced Banana Muffins
Delicious Chai flavoured Muffins, that are vegan and healthy too.
  • 2 cups Plain Flour
  • 1/2 cup (plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling) Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Chai Spice
  • 2 Ripe Bananas
  • 3/4 cup roughly chopped Pecans
  • 1/3 cup Sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C/ 375 degrees F2. In a jug add the coconut milk and the vinegar and keep aside.3. In a large bowl, add the bananas and mash them up with a fork. Add the oil and vanilla and the milk mixture from the jug and whisk together.
4.Sieve the flour, spices, baking powder straight into the bowl. Add the sugar and gently fold the mixture till combined. Fold in the chopped pecans.5. Divide the mixture into the cake cases and sprinkle a little brown sugar on the top ,bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown. 6. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12

** NB If you want to make your own chai spice mixture mix together 1/2 teaspoon cardamon powder, 1/2 teaspoon clove powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon all spice and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder.

Do you enjoy muffins, what is your favorite combination? Do tell me in the comments below.

I also  have a copy of the Vegan Cook Book to giveaway to one simplyfood reader so you too can create your own mouth watering Vegan recipes.

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