Eating out Options: Nandos Part 2

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Following up on my first review of the eating out experience at Nandos I returned recently and thought I would share this other experience. First of all I previously praised the Rubro Iced tea available and commented on how I would try the other flavours on future visits and so I tried the lemon. But I have to say though it was very refreshing it just wasn’t as satisfying as the peach. I shall have to try the berry flavour before I can say for sure which flavour is the winner.

As for the food I was going to go with a salad but I have a confession to make: though I frequently tell people how much I love salads and that I eat them on a regular basis this is a convenient lie. Convenient because it’s easier than explaining the meals I do eat to the ignorant and frustrating individual asking ‘what DO you eat?!’ who finds it difficult to imagine a diet without pasta, bread and meat.

Mini rant aside, though I do enjoy my salads my idea of a salad is very different to what most people’s idea is and I find that often other people’s salad concept (without meat and wheat products) is often rather dull. So though I really enjoyed the Mediterranean salad I ordered on my last Nandos visit and do enjoy salads I have to admit on this visit I was not particularly keen on the idea.

Nor was I keen on the idea of being ill and uncomfortable the next day which, without a little creative thinking, seemed to be the only other alternative. However, I came to a decision: the Mushroom and Halloumi burger with macho peas and spicy rice, my sister a keen candidate for my inevitably discarded burger bun. Unfortunately they didn’t have any Portobello mushrooms left (an excuse to return again to test out the berry Rubio) and so I opted for the Beanie burger (chickpeas, cheese, sweetcorn, pumpkin seeds and lentils) which I had been contemplating getting anyway. And I was certainly happy with my choice, the dinner was very satisfying and full of flavour (I ordered medium heat and poured lots of extra medium heat sauce on top. So here’s my meal in three easy steps:

Step 1- The arrival of what I ordered
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Step 2- What I ordered minus the bun which was now on my sister’s plate
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Step 3- My half eaten burger being enjoyed greatly and topped with lots of medium heat sauce
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As for the side dishes, I had spicy rice before turning vegetarian and so knew I would still love this however I had yet to try the Macho peas. I was very impressed, they have a slight spice to them with a strong mint flavour and like the rice are good value for money satisfaction and portion size wise.

Again, I definitely recommend Nandos I think that it is a very good option for vegetarians as even people I know who are non vegetarian tend to opt for the vegetarian option due to them being more flavoursome.

My only regret is playing it safe with medium spice. Next time I may brave Hot.

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My Hungarian Food Experience

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So recently I went to Budapest for a graduation celebration city break, a city which I definitely recommend visiting if only for the stunning architecture. It was a cultural adventure from visiting the synagogue to watching the opera and of course discovering the food and drink on offer. Unfortunately Hungarian food is predominantly meat and so I didn’t try out the local cuisine, in fact there were a lot more East Asian restaurants than Hungarian and so as you’ll soon see this was predominantly the food I ate.

First of all, I have to put in a mention for the restaurant Imazs as the food was delicious and very affordable and the service was equally excellent. It was just a short walk away from our hostel and because there was plenty of choice on the menu we ended up visiting twice. Here are some of the dishes I enjoyed:

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As pictured above: Vegetarian Pad Thai (the tofu was cooked to perfection), Avocado salad, Cucumber Maki and Tamago Nigiri and Miso Soup.

On the East Asian theme we visited a Japanese tearoom where I had this delicious drink (basically a green tea milkshake yum):

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And there were plenty more café stops. My personal favourite was the Cat Café where there was a range of adorable cats as company whilst we sipped delicious drinks from a menu with plenty of variety including a ‘catpucino’! I had a cinnamon hot chocolate on my first visit and a gingerbread latte on my second.

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I also had my first Iced Chai Latte on the journey back from the baths and it tasted like any other chair latte: heaven:
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Moving on to some more food, we went to a restaurant with a variety of food on offer, though I would not recommend the restaurant, based on atmosphere service and value for money, the food was both interesting and tasty. I wish could remember the details of the soup I ordered but it had rice, spinach and chickpeas the other photo is my friend’s stuffed aubergine starter:
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We also stopped for lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant which specialised in hummus and Falafels. The dishes looked delicious but unfortunately most of them had flatbread and so, avoiding wheat, I went with olives (not pictured) and an eggplant tahini:
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We came across a little sweet store that had tasty and addictive treats! Though I can’t remember exactly what I bought but I do remember that they both contained peanuts as I was having major peanut butter cravings for the entire trip (how Hungarian people cope without peanut butter is beyond me):

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On the last day we stopped for breakfast at a restaurant where I had a mushroom omelette and a latte which I’d developed a dangerous addiction too which has continued since!:

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So that concludes my Budapest food and drink round up. We stayed in a self catering apartment so prepared and cooked most of our meals, I’m really missing eating breakfast out on the balcony but I am not missing struggling to prepare a wheat free packed lunch. Going to the market was a highlight of the trip and I only wish I’d taken a picture of the impressively sized aubergine we picked up from there.

Quiche Bites

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DSCF1314Here is an easy vegetarian and wheat free make in advance snack for on the go lunch or breakfast: Quiche bites.

What you’ll need (suggested ingredients):

3 eggs
Handful of washed and cooked kale
Grated cheese
Half a red onion sliced
Handful of boiled frozen peas

using 3 eggs makes about 9 bite size quiches.

Whisk together the eggs in a large bowl or jug and season according to preferences (salt and pepper) add the other ingredients ( kale, cheese, peas and onion) to the egg mixture. I had cooked and the peas and the kale but left the red onion raw. This is optional but I also added a dash of milk. Then I simply distributed the mixture into a grease proofed muffin tray and baked in the oven at 200°C for 15-20 minutes.
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And there you go: vegetarian and crustless bite size quiches. I tend to serve them with a salad for an easy packed lunch, they are also a very adaptable recipe as you can add any number of different ingredients to use up any leftovers. It would also be easy to turn this recipe into a meat version, I would suggest using some Pancetta pieces.

 

Four Simple Ways to use Tinned Tomatoes

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Tinned chunks of tomato are a cupboard staple for me, the easy and inexpensive way of turning a pile of ingredients into a satisfying meal. Here are four simple ways of using them to create tasty vegetarian and wheat free meals.

Option 1- Quinoa, Courgette and Mushroom Lasagne:quinoa lasagne     

This recipe was inspired by the recipe Joanna Soh features in her video which can be seen here. As a side note, if you have not watched her videos I highly recommend them for fitness and diet advice.  I omitted the white sauce for my version of the recipe because I don’t think it’s necessary to maintain the taste.

For this dish which makes two portions I used one medium onion, a good handful of mushrooms and one courgette and sautéed these in olive oil before adding chilli powder. Meanwhile I boil a portion (I don’t tend to measure when I cook and just rely on guesswork) of quinoa in water. Once done, I put the vegetable mix in a deep dish and pour in half a tin of tomato chunks before layering on the quinoa and grating cheese on top, place in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, and that’s it!

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Option 2- Aubergine, Courgette, Chickpea Moroccan Tagine:

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Who needs meat in their tagine? For mine I chopped up half an aubergine, half a courgette, one sweet pepper and one medium red onion, let these cook in olive oil in the pan and sprinkled in some chilli powder. I then threw in a third of a large tin of chickpeas (which had been rinsed, boiled and drained), half a tin of tomato chunks and a small handful of chopped dried apricots and then let it simmer in the pan on low heat. Add in a spoonful of honey and squeeze in a slice of lemon and give it a quick mix. I serve it on its own but if you can eat wheat then cous cous would be a great accompaniment to this dish.

 

 

 

 

Option 3- Curry:WP_20140423 13

The great thing about curry is you can make it with pretty much any ingredients and it will always be satisfying, so a wonderful way to use those leftover vegetables or the remainder of the tin of beans from a previous dish. I’m going to talk through just two possible currys that I have made for myself recently, each one made two portions (yay for leftovers).

The first, as pictured above was a simple chickpea, lentil and spinach curry, I was a little restricted in ingredients at my parents house so it really is simple and easy to make. I used one medium onion, half a bell pepper, one courgette, a large handful of shredded spinach, a portion of red split lentils (soaked in water, boiled and drained) and half a tin of chickpeas (rinsed, boiled and drained). While the veg was cooking in the pan I added a good amount of chilli powder before adding the tomato chunks and lentils and letting the curry simmer on a low heat.

WP_20140502 32For the second curry (pictured above) I was able to add a few more ingredients from the comfort of my student kitchen. I cut up one courgette, half an aubergine, a handful of small mushrooms, one red onion, a large handful of shredded spinach and two cloves of garlic. I cooked the veg in a pan with olive oil with turmeric and chilli powder as well as some Thai green curry paste to add some great flavour and spices. I then added half a tin of tomato chunks, some red split lentils (soaked in water, boiled and drained) and a large spoonful of Greek yoghurt and a little bit of water. I let the curry simmer on a low heat before serving up half of the curry with some rice. The other half was stored in the fridge for some tasty and easy leftovers.

Option 4: Veggie Chilli:DSCF1271

Like curry chilli is a great dish for throwing together any leftovers you have. Normally I use courgette and aubergine (clearly my two favourite vegetables) but I wanted to mix it up this time and I was having a ‘mexican’ themed food week so I used: Chestnut mushrooms, chopped babycorn, black beans, yellow bell pepper, red onion and of course kidney beans. This is such a simple dish, just sautee the chopped veg with a clove or two of garlic and chilli powder before adding the chopped tomatoes (and any beans) and allowing to simmer. This is a great dish for making at the beginning of the week for easy heat up meals later in the week or storing leftovers in the fridge. I served my first portion over a baked sweet potato which was just delicious:

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Hope this has given you some inspiration for kitchen experimentation!

Feotw- 10/06/2014

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So here are a few little food experiments I have been enjoying over the last fortnight that I thought I would share with the online world:

Homemade Potato salad:

DSCF1360Here is my take on the potato salad. Boiled potatoes flavoured with salt, pepper and mayonnaise mixed with chopped raw red onion, spring onion and cooked chopped asparagus and garden peas mmm.

Pineapple Stir Fry Lunch:

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Pineapple is my new favourite cooking ingredient. Here I stir fried it with sliced pepper, baby corn and Quorn pieces with a dash of chilli powder and a bit of tomato puree. I then put it in a lunch box with a few cherry tomatoes for an easy and tasty packed lunch.

Veggie Pasta

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Of course I opted for gluten-free pasta for this. This sauce is a mix of butter beans, chopped courgette, red bell pepper and red onion with a bit of spinach thrown in and chopped tomatoes. I seasoned with salt, pepper and chilli powder (because yes even pasta should be spicy).

Sweet Potato Hashsweet potato hash
This is my new favourite go-to brunch recipe. Boil or microwave a sweet potato then chop into chunks and fry in oil until brown and crisp, here I also fried spinach and chopped cherry tomatoes then topped with avocado slices and a poached egg. Mushrooms are also great in this dish.

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I would do a whole blog post on these delicious snacks but honestly this was even more of an experiment than my usual recipes, I literally just threw together some ingredients and put in the oven hoping it would all work out. Luckily it did. I used a mashed banana and mixed in some oats and raisins before stirring in a mixture of honey and peanut butter which I’d heated in a bowl in the microwave. I added some cinnamon before laying out the mixture on some foil sprayed with cooking oil and baked in the oven. I cut the result into squares for snacks on the go.

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A basic but forever enjoyable dish. I marinaded sliced tofu in a mixture of soy sauce and paprika and cut up cabbage, asparagus, red bell pepper and red onion. I stir fried them with tomato puree and added some Greek yoghurt before adding in the cooked rice noodles. Totally satisfying and leftovers for lunch the next day.

Experimenting with Homemade Veggie Burgers: Trial 2

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This post details my second encounter, read about the first here, with making my own veggie burgers- the cauliflower quinoa burger:

DSCF1270As can be seen above I served mine with a poached egg with a salad of spinach, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. As always my recipe is rather vague but I believe that cooking is an art and not a science and I wish to inspire rather than instruct. And after that little piece of wisdom here goes:

Ingredients you need:

-One small red onion
-Two cloves of garlic (adjust to taste)
-Half of a red Bell Pepper
-Half a cup of Quinoa
-A handful of shredded spinach
-A few florets of Cauliflower

I actually originally intended to add butter beans but me being forgetful I didn’t remember this until the burgers were already done, but feel free to test out this addition to the recipe yourself. I think that cauliflower makes a superb ingredient in homemade veggie burgers as it really helps to hold the patties structure without the addition of binding ingredients like eggs, bread crumbs and flour.

So, first of all I cut up and sauteed the onion, garlic, pepper and spinach whilst the quinoa and cauliflower were being boiled. when the quinoa was done and the cauliflower was sufficiently soft (sliding off a sharp knife) I drained these and put all the ingredients in a pan before proceeding to mash these with a potato masher (again if you have a food processor feel free to use this instead though it’s rather a good arm workout to do it by hand). You should have something that looks a little like this:

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Now distribute the mixture into burger patties, ensuring to flatten and round them into shape. I made five burgers in total with this mixture but of course it depends on the size you wish. I cooked one in the oven immediately but saved the other four- sealed in cling film and a freezer bag, ensuring they were lying flat, in the freezer for future convenient veggie burger meals.

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The burgers take about 40-45 minutes to cook on 200 degrees Celsius in the oven. And so there you have it, a new way to use the ever adaptable cauliflower and to avoid the processed store bought veggie burgers. Have fun experimenting!

Inspired by… Coconut Curry

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In my Las Iguanas eating out review I raved about how delicious their coconut curry dish was, and I have to say I have recently become a little obsessed with coconut (I’m not only talking food but shower gels and perfumes). And so it wasn’t going to be long before I made my own inspired coconut curry.

The Ingredients (for three portions):

cocnut curry ingredients

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A large handful of washed and boiled kale
  • Three chopped chestnut mushrooms (or any type of mushroom)
  • Large handful of chopped green beans
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • A handful of chopped carrots (I used Chardonnay)
  • A handful of garden peas (frozen)
  • 1 chopped spring onion
  • Half a cup of cooked red split lentils
  • A dash of Turmeric
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • Half a can of coconut milk
  • Thai curry paste
  • A large spoonful of Greek yoghurt

Serving suggestion: Whole grain basmati rice

Pretty simple really, chop up the vegetables and then sautee  in a large pan in olive oil with the turmeric and curry paste. Then throw in the already washed, cooked and drained kale:

curry veg in panNext pour in the chopped tomatoes and the coconut milk and stir in. I also added in the peas at this point. Then add the lentils and then leave to simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes or so to thicken. Add the greek yoghurt during the simmering time and also prepare the rice:

Simmering away and making my kitchen smell oh so delicious:

curry in panAnd then ready to serve:

coconut curryTasty! And I love having leftovers, curry tastes even better the next day.