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A bit about my blog and why I started it

I really started getting serious about food and the sourcing of ingredients when I met Tom Beeston, and you can read about in this blog post here.  It’s worth a read as it really does explain my philosophy about food, and how I came to it.

You can follow me on twitter if you feel like it @westleyjam from which this blog took it’s name.

Food Diary – Weekend of Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st March

Saturday 30th

Markets

Two markets this week, firstly Twickenham market; tomatoes, mergeuz sausages, eggs and freshly cooked lamb burgers for myself and the eldest. Later morning it was off to Barnes market; butter, mutton chops, apples, gordal olives stuffed with chillis, and from the Real Cheese Shop some lovely Yorkshire Blue cheese.

Dinner

Maki rolls for the eldest from Barnes, while the youngest and myself enjoyed the crunchy sourdough baguette from Flower Power City.

Tea

With it still feeling like Winter despite being the start of Spring, it was a warming Toad in the Hole with beans and red cabbage. 

ToadInTheHole-BeansRedCabbage-30Mar2013ToadInTheHole-OvenDish-30Mar2013

I’m still finding it hard to prevent the batter sticking to the dish though, which is annoying.  Maybe I’ll have to go for some silicon or non stick baking pans instead of the Denby Regency Green dish.

Sunday 31st

Dinner

As we failed to make a proper lunch at Giraffe for Mother’s Day as we were too early, we headed over the lock at Richmond, to a much less busy restaurant. Although nothing to set the world on fire, my baby back ribs were tasty and not too dry.

Tea

BolognaiseRecipe-WithSpaghettiWith supplies of bolognaise sauce in the freezer running low it was time to make a big batch, and for once enjoy it fresh out of the pan.

The girls love it with spaghetti – any food that playful is always fun for kids. So once simmered for a few hours, the sauce was served up with spaghetti, a drizzle of olive oil and a handful of parmesan.

Aside from the meal for four, the freezer received another twelve tubs for those times when a quick easy meal is required.

Food Diary – Monday 25th to Friday 29th March

Monday 25th

Dinner

Gail’s Bread from Waitrose, a rosemary and potato bread made into cheese and salad sandwiches.  One with farmhouse Red Leicester cheese and red onion, another Double Barrel Lincolnshire Poacher with red peppers.

Tea

Thai chicken curry, using up some of the left over roast chicken, with onions and red peppers, birds eye chilli, coconut milk and boiled rice. To be honest, it had a proper kick as I put in two chillies which were a wee bit hotter than the standard dried jalapenos I normally use.

Tuesday 26th

Breakfast

Gail’s bread with salad and some mayonnaise.

Dinner

YumBunBentoBox-26Mar2013When The Rotary Bar and Diner appeared in Old Street, it also came with a pop up from Yum Bun who have been Chinese steamed buns at various markets in London.

They do a very tasty ‘bento box’ with two buns, two vegetable gyoza, miso soup and salad, all for £7.50.  I had a chicken with tartare sauce and pork with hoi sin sauce.  While the pork and hoi sin sauce was tasty, the chicken with tartare sauce and chilli sauce was definitely the winner, and the buns were beautifully light and fluffy.  It’s become a favourite in our office and no surprise, decent food at a reasonable price makes it hard to resist.

Wednesday 27thBreakfastCroissantsCheeseAndChilli-27Mar2013

Breakfast

And unusual breakfast today, using up some croissants from home, but with savoury fillings of aged red Leicester; one with chilli jam and another with chilli jelly.

Dinner

Finished off the last of the Gail’s bread with tomatoes, lettuce and mayonnaise.

FarfalleWithMerguezAndRoastRedPepper-27mAR2013Tea – School Run

A crowd pleaser for the kids, pasta with a tomato sauce base, but with added chipolata sausages and some sweetcorn thrown in to provide a bit more the carbohydrates.

For myself and the better half, I did a grown up version of the same dish with mergeuz sausages, roasted red peppers and smoked paprika in the tomato sauce instead.

Thursday 28th

Work

Two pleasant deliveries at work. Firstly, we all received a personalised Thortons egg for Easter. Then through the post arrived my delivery of spices and noodles from Steenbergs Organic.  They do a really fantastic range of spices that are otherwise difficult to source, including organic rose and orange blossom water for my North African dishes.

SteenbergsDelivery-March2013ThortonsHuddleEgg

Dinner

Toby showed me a great little Vietnamese restaurant round the corner, Chao in Whitecross street, which serves one of the best Bahn Mi around (crunchy baguette with spiced meat, coriander and cucumber).  It was absolutely heaving with a pretty long queue already by 12:30.

I went for a BBQ Pork Bahm Mi, a Spicy Hue Broth and a couple of pork Bahn Cuon (steamed filo rolls). Once I tucked in it was obvious why there is always a long queue. The Bahn Mi was wonderfully crunchy and tasty, and a mile away from a sad baguette from a standard sandwich shop.

Tea

In the evening it was off to a party at Bounce – allegedly the home of ping pong, just off Chancery Lane. It had surprisingly good nibbles for a catered event with the highlight being some pretty decent pancetta and olives.

Friday 29th (Good Friday)

Dinner

Manic spring cleaning, so a simple meal of soup for all of us.

Tea

Being Good Friday, it had to be fish and chips from Mario’s, skate for me, cod for the girls and the better half.  It’s rare to find a chip shop in London that does more than just cod and haddock, and skate is a lovely treat.

Food Diary – Weekend of 23rd and 24th March

Saturday 23rd

Markets

On the 4th Saturday of the month I always head off to West Ealing farmers market for my month supply of Lincolnshire Poacher two year old cheddar and unpasteurised milk. At the same market I bought some tomatoes from the Tomato Stall, apples and pears from Perry Court Farm, and some pesto twists from The Celtic Bakers.

Dinner CottagePieWithRedCabbage-23March2013

Soup with bread for the girls and pesto twists for myself.

Tea

Cottage pie with red cabbage and broccoli. It’s worth nothing that my youngest girl’s favourite vegetable is broccoli, which is why you may see it cropping up in many of our meals.

Sunday 24th

Dinner

Using bread I got into the bread machine as soon as I got up it was a breakfast brunch for our house, poached egg and bacon butties.

BrunchDuckEggYolk-24Mar2013BrunchDuckEggBackBaconTinnedToms-24Mar2013

Tea

Sunday roast this week was chicken, with mash, green beans and sage and onion stuffing followed by a desert of lemon drizzle cake, made with help from the eldest.

RoastChicken-24Mar2013

This time I made the lemon drizzle cake with a Tala 2lb loaf liner that I normally use when making malt loaves. This was an excellent move as the lemon and icing sugar glaze stuck well to the sides of the cake instead of forming a puddle on the plate.

LemonDrizzleCake-24Mar2013

Food Diary – Monday 18th to Friday 22nd March

Monday 18th

Tea

SweetAndSourPorkWithPineapple-18Mar2013With some roast pork left overs from Sunday’s roast, and half a pineapple sitting on the kitchen table, it had to be sweet and sour pork. 

I normally grate beefsteak tomatoes for the sauce, but at this time of year they’re not readily available so I went for a tin of chopped tomatoes.  As they are a bit sweeter, they needed a bit more vinegar, salt and soy sauce to sour it up but it did the job.

I also put on some chocolate orange brownies for a departmental meeting tomorrow, with a couple of mini brownies for the youngest who prefers them not to contain candied orange peel.

Tuesday 19th

Dinner

A simple salad made with living salad leaves and pancetta.  I was hoping that the living salad would by a good alternative and brighten up the desk but our office is such a harsh environment with very little natural light so the pour thing struggled to survive.

Tea

ChickenPastillaAndSpicyCousCous-19Mar2013With the Moroccan stall back at the farmers markets, we had chicken pastilla with spicy cous cous.

The cous cous is a variation on Jamie Oliver’s recipe from The Naked Chef book. It includes cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, chilli and I add some spring onions just after the chicken stock to give it some crunch.

The important thing I learnt about cous cous was to not touch it once you have added the chicken stock. It may be hard to resist, but if you can manage it, the cous cous should stay pretty loose instead of becoming a stodgy mess.

The accompany the pastilla and cous cous, is some thick Greek yoghurt with chopped cucumber and orange blossom water.

Wednesday 20th

Dinner

One of our work lunches from Abokado, a Fragrant Red Thai Shrimp Pot. Personally a bit lack lustre and not enough chilli kick and spices for me. I think the brown shrimp were overcooked too, probably a result of the sheer number of meals they have to deliver at the same time.PastaWithVegetables

Tea

School run, so a simple pasta with broccoli, baby corn and asparagus.

Thursday 21st

Dinner

A bit of left over pasta from the school run yesterday.

Tea

For tea I cooked Spanish tortilla; thick egg omelette with red peppers and charlotte potatoes as a base, served with a light side salad.

Friday 22nd

Dinner

A departmental lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant, Huong. I really enjoyed the starter of beef wrapped in betel leaves, followed by some very well cooked and tender stir fried squid in tamarind sauce.

TeaLuckyChipJohnCandyBurger-22Mar2013

In the evening it was off to a gig by Dead Sons (a Sheffield based band)  at the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green, which had the added advantage of being host to an outlet of Lucky Chip that Toby from work mentioned some time ago from it’s Netil Market venue

This week’s special was the return of the double pattie John Candy burger, which I ordered with wasabi and ginger fries.

It was a fine, if messy affair to eat, and the wasabi and ginger was a great alternative to the standard ketchup, although the chilli cheese fries that Toby ordered weren’t bad either.

Oh yeah, Dead Sons put on a good show, although were so determined to be louder than either support acts they did clip the sound on the sound system rather too often.

Food Diary – Weekend of 16th and 17th March

Saturday 16th

Baking

Off to our first swimming gala in the afternoon, for the eldest, so I had to be a bit more organised than normal.  I got up early to get a white loaf through the bread machine for soup at lunchtime and for sandwiches for the gala.

I also made some chocolate brownies, as one of the other parents was spending her birthday at the gala.  This was my standard brownie recipe, but the variation where I use candied peel and a bar of Maya Gold rather than chilli chocolate.

Lunch

With a fresh loaf, it had to be soups for lunch for me and the girls.  Heinz tomato for the youngest and Baxters Italian Wedding soup, a firm favourite of the eldest.  The Italian wedding soup comes complete with meatballs, pasta and an array of vegetables and is very tasty.

Dinner

For the girls, I made some sandwiches with tuna and sweetcorn to get them through the gala – which was a smart move.  It started at about 5 o’clock in the afternoon and didn’t finish to well after 8 o’clock.

For myself and the other half, once the kids were in bed, I picked up a bag of chips from Mario’s, the lovely local chip shop we have in Isleworth, so it was an guilty pleasure of chip butties on the bread made in the morning.  Awesome.

Sunday 17th

Market – Chiswick Farmer’s Market

Due to the gala I’d moved my market visit to Chiswick Farmer’s Market this week.  It has a few regulars including the Thee Olive Tree, March House Farm and Ringden Farm.  It also saw the return, after a couple of months break, of a Moroccan stall you can find at Hammersmith, Barnes and Chiswick.  They make a lovely chicken and vegetable pastillas and spicy lamb flatbread.

Dinner

After the market me and the girls headed off to Waitrose and then swimming in Brentford. The eldest couldn’t handle waiting for lunch to arrive, so chomped on the Lamb flatbread as we drove around.  The youngest went for another tuna sandwich when we got back, using up some of the left over filling mixture from yesterday.

Roast Pork

For the Sunday roast, we had a market meal, with a leg of pork from March House Farm, with apple sauce using bramley apples from Ringden Farm.

Food Diary – Monday 11th to Friday 15th March

Monday 11th

Dinner

CousCousSalad-11Mar2013Feta and couscous from yesterday’s mezze, used with some lettuce leaves and tomatoes for a tasty salad.

Tim Tam Slam

Some at work, back from holiday in Australia, brought back some Tim Tams and so I tried a Tim Tam Slam, where you bite off both ends and such tea through the biscuit. Apparently you can do it with a penguin biscuit too.

Tea

With some of the left over Lebanese flatbread, we had mergeuz (March House farm) sausages with salad, tomato puree mixed with Ras Al Hanut spice blend (from Steenbergs) and garlic mayonnaise. Very tasty, the Ras Al Hanut really makes all the difference.

Tuesday 12th

Dinner

Having bulked bought the Waitrose Paleta Iberica de Bellota when it was on offer, it was another simple ham salad. I’m going to have to be more imaginative when it runs out, although I will miss the ham.

ThaiPrawnJungleCurry-12Mar2013Tea

Back in January I used half a sachet of Thai Taste, Kaeng Pa, or Jungle Curry Paste, and hadn’t got round to finishing it off.

While half a packet was perfect in the Thai soup I made back in January, it provided one almighty kick when mixed with only a single 160ml can of coconut cream to make a prawn curry with peppers and red onion.

Wednesday 13th

Dinner – school run

A simple meal tonight, pork loin steaks, potato wedges and brocolli followed by some granola bars with cranberries from the in-store bakery in a Sainsbury’s near work.

ProperBreakfast-PotOfTea-14Mar2013Thursday 14th

Breakfast

The last of the barmbrack, toasted, with a pot of rose tea for breakfast at work.  It really relishes lashings of butter – it’s not healthy, but it’s very tasty.

Bar – The Book Club

A few pints of after work beers (London Fields Wheat Beer) at The Book Club on Leonard Street meant I was a wee bit late home, so it was cheese and biscuits by the time I got home.

Friday 15th

Dinner – Rotary Bar and Diner

Recommended by Toby, we headed down to a new pop up restaurant that has appeared right near our office called the Rotary Bar & Diner which provides another refuge for those who like a proper burger and top notch American classics (you can see their menu here).

Rotary-HotChickenWings

We both went for hot chicken wings as a starter, which although not actually that spicy were completely and utterly awesome.

Not especially spicy but I can forgive that.  The breadcrumb coating was incredibly crunchy, and underneath the chicken was juicy and succulent.  Very fine.

For my main I chose the Rotary burger, and Toby went for a Fried Chicken burger, with both being served with dripping fries. 

Rotary-BurgerRotary-DrippingFries

The burger came served with a classic gherkin, cheese, bacon, relish and the surprise ingredient, lightly pickled red onions.  The pickled red onion was fantastic, providing a very clean finish to the juicy burger. 

Rotary-AwesomeSauce-PickledRedOnion

Highly recommended, and I can’t wait until the have tuned in their BBQ smoker and the currently crossed out items on the menu appear for real.  Definitely a great addition to the Shoreditch food scene.

Dinner

After such a hefty lunch, and after another few cheeky pints before heading home it was cheese and biscuits again.  Never a chore for me though.

Food Diary – Weekend of 9th and 10th March

Saturday 9th March

BreakfastBergamotCrumpets-OnePintTea-9Mar2013

I keep forgetting to take in some  of my Bergamot marmalade to work, so for once, had a proper breakfast with buttermilk crumpets from Waitrose and a pint mug of Early Grey tea.

The mug was a 200th anniversary craftsman mug from Denby pottery – and one pint is perfect for a single teabag made in the mug.

Markets

Today it was Barnes Market for three reasons; more butter needed from the Gilcombe Farm stall, cheese from The Real Cheese Shop on the high street and some loose leaf tea and coffee beans from Orange Pekoe on White Hart Lane.

The bonus this week was spotting some escalope of organic rosé veal at the Gilcombe Farm stall, perfect for the classic of Austrian dish of wiener schnitzel.  Not cheap, but all the hard work of beating out the steak already done for you.

What looks like a fairly standard cafe, Orange Pekoe, in Barnes, is actually a haven for tea and coffee lovers, with stocks over 40 loose leaf black teas, over 20 green and herbal blends and also a selection of over 10 types of coffee beans ready for grinding at home.

I was running low on Rose Congou, my favourite, but also added some Keemun tea, and a Milky Oolong which actually smells of milk before even brewing. Finally, some coffee beans, this time Ethiopian Limu Wild Grown.

Lunch PoachedDuckEgg09Mar2013

For both myself and my eldest daughter it was a simple lunch of packed duck egg and toast, while the youngest just went with bread, cucumber sticks and some cheese sticks cut of a block of mature cheddar.

The duck eggs are awesome for poaching, loads of egg white sealing the runny yolk perfectly.

DinnerRoseVealEscalopeDone

With the youngest at a birthday party for tea, and the better half working late it was just myself and the eldest for tea.

She wasn’t completely certain about the idea of veal escalope.  I convinced her that it was fairly similar to the chicken katsu meals she’s eaten at Wagamamas and in the end she was very happy and requested it again. 

I made a mushroom sauce to go with some broccoli and fries and even though was only my second time with this dish, it was relatively easy to make.  All in the preparation really.  I’ve will be writing up the recipe really soon.

Sunday 10th March – Mother’s Day

BrunchMothersDayGiraffeBrunch

For Mother’s Day we headed out to Richmond to Giraffe, our normal venue, although this time we were so cautious about getting there on time, we were so early at 11:30 that we were on the breakfast menu.

This turned out to be a top result, as we both went for Huevos Rancheros, the Mexican breakfast, mine with extra mushrooms.  The tortilla was lovely and crunchy underneath, and with a dash of Tabasco Chipotle sauce the fried eggs really came alive.

Tea

As we’d missed on having any mezze style food at Giraffe I decided we’d have a stab at creating a version of it at home.

MothersDayMezzeOverview

On the way back from Ikea, I stopped off at Brentford to pick up a pack of Lebanese flat bread and some Cypriot cheese which I was hoping was halloumi but turned out to be a variant of feta.

MothersDayMezzePlateFor the main platter I roasted some red peppers in the oven, and the feta cheese on a griddle.  From Barnes market we had some gordal olives, forestiere olives with chilli and mushrooms, feta stuffed red chillis and some dolmades (stuffed vine leaves).

The meat was from Waitrose, Seleccion Iberico de Bellota and Antipasto Misto.

MothersDayMezzeBowlsAndCousCous

In addition to cucumber sticks, a bowl of hummus, and the ridiculously massive flatbreads I also made some sides. Spicy North African couscous, some Greek yoghurt with cucumber, Cypriot feta cheese with cherry tomatoes and olive oil,

It’s the first time I’ve made the effort to do a full mezze platter, and although it took a bit of time, it we really nice to have it all laid out properly.