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February 2014

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Ahead of tonight’s official grand opening, I popped into COOK on Great Western Road to check out what they have to offer. I had a lovely chat with new owner, David, about the ins & outs of COOK and found it rather fascinating. I heard of the brand name before but didn’t know the story behind it so it was good to be told the history of the brand, how it’s operated and what his favourite dishes are.

Cook Glasgow

COOK is an independent food business based in Kent whose ethos is to “make remarkable food for your freezer, prepared by hand, using the same ingredients and techniques you would use at home”. Founded in 1997, every dish they create has the name of the chef who prepared the food (along with batch number for quality control) and the best bit is…. it looks and tastes homemade.

The chefs use the same ingredients as you would at home without putting any additional additives or preservatives into the food. They do in some occasions use shop bought sauces such as Soy Sauce or Worcestershire Sauce. If they do use these, they are also listed in the ingredients sticker on the back of every dish as an ingredient and then the contents of the sauce is broken down as a sub-ingredient so you know exactly what you are eating.

In the Great Western Road shop, everything is brightly sign posted and laid out very well. The ready frozen food is kept in big freezers and staff are on hand to chat with you about the brand, food and even giving you advice on what they’d recommend (without being pushy sellers!).

Freezers are broken down into different sections: beef, chicken, pork, fish, vegetarian, family meals, side dishes, dinner parties, indian food, oriental food, diet food (where everything is under 400 calories!), kids meals and puddings. They also cater for gluten free and dairy free as well.

Cook Glasgow

Cook Glasgow

Cook Glasgow

Cook Glasgow

Cook Glasgow

While talking with David, we asked him what his favourite dishes are and out of everything on offer, he had to pick the Indonesian Vegetable Curry with Coconut and Lime Leaf Rice. A intriguing choice given all of the meat dishes on offer but I decided to try it and I put it into my rather lovely wicker basket (no metal baskets in sight in this shop!). The oriental dishes are currently on a meal deal for £10 which includes a main, rice or noodles and a side dish.

After taking up more than enough of David’s time, the pudding freezer was calling my name and my eyes lit up when I saw Apple & Blackberry Crumble… into my basket it went along with some Jude’s Vanilla Ice Cream. After paying, it was time to go back to Ross’s house, put the oven on & get “cooking” and the best part… eating!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Indonesian Vegetable Curry

The Indonesian Vegetable Curry was delicious and creamy. The vegetables were complimented with coconut milk and lemongrass. I would definitely buy this again and possibly add some chicken into it to bulk it up. I got the dish to serve two but if you were really hungry, it would be ideal for one person.

Apple & Blackberry Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream

The pudding was an instant favourite. Finally a crumble with a traditional crumble topping instead of granola. The crumble was buttery along with a good amount of apple and blackberries. The vanilla ice cream we bought was an added bonus. I just wish there was more of the crumble, it’s that good!

Have you been to COOK yet? What are your favourite dishes? I cannot wait to try more!

COOK Glasgow
498 Great Western Road
Glasgow
G12 8EW
Tel: 0141 334 0302
http://www.cookfood.net

Note: During opening week, COOK are offering all customers 15% off.

I’ve always loved Pizza Express, with the Bruschetta Originale being my favourite. Anytime I visit Pizza Express, it is something I always have to order and when I’m craving pizza when on a diet, the American Hot Leggera gets my vote.

Pizza Express recently launched a new seasonal special menu and I was invited along to try it out. The new limited edition menu features a revamped version of the popular dough balls which are baked with Gran Moravia cheese, two new pizzas Vesuvio (Pepperoni and n’duja sausage) and Cipollini (Spinach, sweet baby onions, red onions and mozzarella) which have sweet potato bases and a new dessert for the sweet tooth’s out there; Rhubarb & Apple Crumble.

Pizza Express Menu

To start, I ordered Bruschetta Originale (as predicable as ever!) and instead of my usual Sloppy Giuseppe or American Hot, I opted for the Romana base Rustichella pizza (Crispy pancetta, roasted tomatoes, rocket, Gran Moravia cheese, Caesar dressing). My boyfriend, Ross, ordered the “Speciale” Dough balls and then the Sweet Potato base Vesuvio pizza from the limited edition menu.

There isn’t anything bad I could ever say about the Bruschetta Originale, except, I wish there was more pesto. I haven’t bothered asking for more pesto before but I’m sure it wouldn’t be that big a problem. Hopefully. The combination of tomatoes, red onions, garlic, fresh basil and pesto is wonderful on top of a freshly baked piece of bread. If you’ve never tried it, I recommend that you do.

Bruschetta

The “Speciale” Dough balls were rather confusing for me. When we read the description on the menu “our famous dough balls rolled and baked with Gran Moravia cheese”, we thought that the dough balls may be stuffed with cheese. Instead, the dough just had cheese in the mixture. The dough balls were also supposed to be presented with a dip of garlic butter and you could pay extra for either hot n’duja sausage softened with olive oil, or pesto. We asked for an extra dip of pesto but were never given the garlic butter. I do really think that if the dough balls were to be truly “speciale”, cheese should have been oozing from the inside. Don’t get me wrong, they did taste good but something was missing.

Dough Balls Speciale

When I first saw my Rustichella pizza, I couldn’t believe how big it was. A normal dinner plate could barely handle the size of what was before me. I love Romana base pizzas as they are very thin and crispy, I’m not a fan of thick crust pizzas because there is too much dough for my liking. On my pizza, roasted tomatoes and Gran Moravia cheese were complimented with a rocket and caesar dressing salad topped with crispy pancetta. I loved the pizza. The pancetta was cooked just the way I liked it and loved the rocket salad on top. The next time I go to Pizza Express, I will definitely order this again. One problem I did face was the pizza was just too big for me alone. In the end, I got the half of the pizza boxed up to take home (cold pizza for breakfast anyone?)

Rustichella

Slicing Pizza

The Seasonal Special Vesuvio pizza was full of rich flavours with the pepperoni and n’duja sausage and the rocket salad was once again a welcome addition, however, upon first bite, you couldn’t really tell that the base was sweet potato. I like rich tomato bases on my pizzas and my boyfriend loves sweet potato but I think the base was overwhelmed by the toppings. When we picked some of the toppings off one slice and tasted just the base, the sweet potato was more evident. The overall flavours worked well and if you’re looking for something different than your average pizza, this would be it. My boyfriend being my boyfriend ate all of his pizza as well as some of mine. A good sign if ever there was one.

Vesuvio Pizza

Pizza Express Pizza

I didn’t think I could possibly eat anything further but after a good 20 minute break, we decided to try the Rhubarb & Apple Crumble along with the Banoffee Pie. I was really looking forward to the crumble as it has been a favourite of mine since childhood. Unfortunately, I was let down. To me, a classic crumble topping is just butter, flour and sugar crumbled up. However, on this crumble, oatmeal was incorporated and I dislike oatmeal with a passion. It’s a shame really because if I liked oatmeal, I would have really liked the dessert. A novelty with crumble is always pouring the custard (or crème Anglaise) on top, in this dessert, the crème Anglaise was encased inside. I would have preferred a small jug of crème Anglaise on the side so I could pour as much or as little as I liked. Due to the crème Anglaise being below the crumble, the fruit compote became rather soft and more puree like.

Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

To end our evening, the Banoffee Pie was surprisingly light. The biscuit base was buttery and nicely crumbled. The banana’s were caramelised with a toffee sauce and then topped with a rather large quantity of fresh cream. I wish that there was more bananas in Banoffee Pie in general. The pie is just screaming for an equal ratio of banana:cream.

Banoffee Pie

Overall, I enjoyed Pizza Express and found some new favourites that I will be ordering again. The staff were very attentive (only the manager knew I was there for a review) and friendly. It was very quiet when we arrived, only three other tables were occupied, but as we were leaving, the restaurant was near full with the staff coping well. Certain items on the menu are rather pricey, but the quality of ingredients used make up for this.

Have you been to Pizza Express? What are your menu favourites? Have you tried the new limited edition menu additions? Let me know!

Pizza Express
20 Provan Way, Glasgow G34 9DL
Tel: 0141 771 5979
http://www.pizzaexpress.com

PizzaExpress Glasgow Fort on Urbanspoon

When it comes to self-esteem and confidence, our outer appearance often affects how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us. While looks aren’t everything, they still leave an impression and influence how society views us. Therefore, details like clothing can be key to boosting our self-image and building certain relationships. So whether you wear expensive designer ensembles or only buy clothing from thrift stores, you are often defined by how you dress. This can impact various elements of your life, particularly in your career.

Style is a personal statement that highlights our personalities and illustrates how we feel about life and society. In addition, style can be an indication of our level of confidence and self-worth, and, according to a Self Growth article, there’s a strong link between the way in which people feel and their styles of dress. For the professional, it can also affect your career and help elevate you in your industry. Therefore, it’s vital that you show up looking your best.

Many businesses and companies have done away with business suits and conservative dress codes, often allowing their employees to dress more casually and relaxed. This makes it easier to integrate your own personal style in your work wardrobe and can also make dressing for the office more fun. While it may be difficult to discern what pieces work well in the office, you can mesh some of your playtime attire with your work wear to pull off a range of fabulous looks you can sport when you’re on the clock (and off).

In line with the growing trend of creating a more relaxed office environment, companies are allowing their employees to “dress down” or dress casually. From jeans to trainers, many employees are donning attire made more for a Saturday afternoon at the movies, not for a Monday morning meeting. This not only eases the burden on your purse, but it can make your morning routine run smoother as you don’t have to worry about details like ironing with these simpler pieces. This isn’t an excuse to show up at work disheveled or unkempt. It also doesn’t mean you can’t look sophisticated.

If you opt to wear jeans to work, make sure they’re tailored, don’t have any rips or holes, and aren’t too tight. Ditch the flats for some pumps and put on a blouse instead of a plain cotton shirt to dress up this relax style. On the flip side, you can make your professional pieces more casual with some spunky alterations. Pair plain, dark-coloured trousers with a blazer in a funky pattern, print, or unconventional colour scheme. Vogue’s spring collection is full of conservative blazers, dresses, skirts, and blouses, as M&S reveals, which can be combined with your more laid-back pieces. For instance, a grey sweater vest and plain, white blouse can bed dressed down with a denim skirt or flats in a bold colour or unique materials.

Your clothing suggests certain things about your personality and lifestyle, so it’s important to be mindful about what you wear in a professional setting. While the relaxed nature of most modern workplaces has changed what we wear in the office, we must still be mindful of the items we choose to wear. However, by maintaining a few key conservative pieces to wear along with your more casual gear, you’re sure to look sophisticated, as well as cute and comfortable—all of which can aid you in furthering your career.

Disclaimer: This is a guest editorial post

I received a box of goodies from Maille UK a few weeks ago and ever since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what recipe to create. Within the box, I received Balsamic Vinegar with Bitter Orange Peel, Mustard with White Wine, Roasted Onions and Wild Thyme and lastly Mustard with White Wine, Red Pepper and Garlic.

I’ve been using Maille wholegrain mustard for a good number of years but I’ve never used any of the flavoured varieties. I have to admit I’m not a HUGE strong mustard fan, English Mustard and Dijon are evil as far as I’m concerned but with Maille I’ve found a happy medium.

Before deciding which variety of mustard to use with the chicken, I tasted a little spoonful of both jars. Both mustards were a little sweet and not too strong. I loved being able to “pop” the mustard seeds with my teeth for an extra kick. For me, I instantly loved the Roasted Onions and Wild Thyme variety and knew that it would complement the Chicken more than the Red Pepper variety. I think that I’ll create another recipe with the Red Pepper and Garlic mustard but using Lamb.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged a recipe and what better way to get me back on track than using some good quality ingredients and my new Olympus camera to take mouthwatering photographs?

I made a similar stuffed Chicken Breast recipe last year but wanted to revamp it and so my Chicken Breasts stuffed with Maille Mustard and wrapped in Parma Ham was created. Within the chicken there is a hidden secret of cheesy goodness (two types no less!) and I served the chicken with balsamic glazed carrots and creamy mash potato. It’s quick, very easy to create and hardly any mess. Sounds good to me!

hicken Breast stuffed with Maille Mustard and Cheese with Mashed Potatoes Garlic Mushrooms and Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Chicken Breast stuffed with Maille Mustard & wrapped in Parma Ham with Maille Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar with Bitter Orange Peel
  • 4 tbsp Mustard with White Wine, Roasted Onions and Wild Thyme
  • 8 slices of Parma Ham
  • Grated Mature Cheddar Cheese
  • Grated Mozzarella Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Carrots Batons
  • Cocktail Sticks

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180° celsius
  2. Butterfly each chicken breast and then spread 1 tbsp of mustard on one side. Sprinkle the two types of grated cheese on top of the mustard and then fold over.
  3. On a clean surface, put two slices of Parma ham down, slightly overlapping each other and the stuffed chicken breast on top. Wrap the Parma ham around the chicken slowly until it is all covered. Secure with a cocktail stick and place on a baking tray. Repeat all the steps until all 4 breasts have been done and then place in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Parboil the carrot batons for 5 minutes and then drain into an oven proof dish. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the carrots and then place in the oven at the same time as the chicken for 20 minutes or until al dente.
  5. The Parma ham should be cripsy and the juices running clear from the chicken when it is fully cooked. If the juices are still not running clear, pop it back into the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
  6. Serve the chicken with your choice of vegetables. I served mine with creamy mash potatoes and garlic mushrooms. The dish would also work well with rosemary and garlic roast potatoes.
https://ananyah.com/2014/02/15/chicken-breast-stuffed-with-maille-mustard-wrapped-in-parma-ham-with-maille-balsamic-glazed-carrots/

 

When the movies depict the world of casino gambling they often do not get the gambling details down very accurately, but the most popular casino film scenes are all about cinema. Sites like JackpotCity.co.uk/online-roulette have brought gaming back to the masses, so to gets some inspiration for your poker skills, check out these great fims:

Casablanca

This movie shows that famous casino scenes go right back to the golden era of Hollywood filmmaking, and the roulette scene in this 1942 classic is a key dramatic one. Marking a sea-change in the attitude of protagonist Rick (Humphrey Bogart), the rigging of the roulette game to get the young couple the money they need to get away from Casablanca shows his latent humanity beginning to emerge.

Rain Man

This is another unforgettable casino movie scene, as Charlie (Tom Cruise) and Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) hit the blackjack tables at Vegas. The purpose is for Raymond to use his autistic maths skills to count the cards, but the fact that Charlie is prepared to expose his brother to the lights and noise of the casino – despite his discomfort with them – again tells us a great deal about his character as well.

Casino Royale

To be honest, virtually all of the James Bond movies have a classic casino scene in them, but the one from this 2006 re-energising of the franchise is probably the most popular. It captured all the high roller glamour traditionally associated with Bond, but also reminded everyone that he is also supposed to be a dangerous risk taker – here facing off against arch villain Le Chiffre at high stakes poker.

Ocean’s Eleven

A movie centred on a Vegas casino heist obviously has lots of memorable casino scenes, but the one with the late Bernie Mac as an irritated blackjack dealer accused of cheating is perhaps the most memorable. His embittered “you might as well call it ‘whitejack’” is one of the sharpest lines of dialogue in a movie where almost everything on screen is razor sharp.

I love nothing better than good songs, turned up really loud to drown out my surroundings and lose myself. In this mixtape, I’ve added songs that I currently can’t get out of my head. I’m going to try my hardest to create mixtapes more frequently as well as blog more (I’ve finally got my blogging mojo back and I’m coming back with a bang…. or a killer beat!)

Do you create your own mixtapes? If so, leave a link in the comment area. If you haven’t made your own mixtape, give 8tracks a go, it’s rather addictive!

♫ Mixtape 5: If I Lose Myself

  1. Crying For No Reason- Katy B
  2. Rather Be-C lean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne
  3. Crooked Smile- J Cole feat. TLC
  4. Dark Horse- Katy Perry feat. Juicy J
  5. Adore You- Miley Cyrus
  6. If I Lose Myself- One Republic
  7. Drunk In Love- Beyonce feat. Jay Z
  8. F For You- Disclosure feat. Mary J Blige
  9. Who Do You Love (Remix)- Trey Songz
  10. Same Girl- Jennifer Lopez

Cake. Who doesn’t love cake? I was invited along to one of Glasgow’s newest cake shops on George Street to try their delights and to be introduced to Juliane Grasekamp, Snuggle Muffin’s 21 year old owner.

Snuggle Muffin opened it’s doors last year in the heart of Glasgow at 120 George Street and has quickly taken off as a local favourite for high tea and American style dining. With it’s friendly atmosphere and extensive cake menu, Snuggle Muffin looked to Disney for inspiration for their personalised customer service.

It’s not all cakes though, with locally sourced produce, gourmet sandwiches, waffles, pancakes and french toast all on offer, Snuggle Muffin has fast become a popular breakfast and lunch hot spot for those seeking refuge for the busy streets.

When I walked in, tables were jam-packed with fresh sandwiches, cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries, s’more bites and much more. My eyes instantly lit up and I knew that I made the right decision in not eating dinner before the event. I grabbed a latte (as well as a pink champagne and marshmallow cocktail!) and sat down to chat with some fellow bloggers awaiting the rest of the invitees. It was also my first proper chance to use my shiny new camera and the photos turned out great, if I do say so myself!

S'More Bites, Snuggle Muffin

Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Snuggle Muffin

Raspberry Cupcakes, Snuggle Muffin

The evening started with a little introduction by Betty & Bee before Juliane discussed her love of baking and her path leading up to opening her own shop. She is very impressive for a 21 year old. Not many 21 year olds would ever put themselves in this position!

Betty and Bee

Juliane Grasekamp Snuggle Muffin Owner

The food was delicious. I started (responsibility) and had a couple of pastrami sandwiches. I love pastrami and these were superb. The bread complimented the pepperiness of the pastrami and was not overloaded. Just the right amount of salad and mustard. Definitely something I’d want to order again. I then tried some s’more bites, strawberries, mini cupcakes and a little brownie bite. I wasn’t overly keen on the s’more bites due to the marshmallow topping being too sweet for me (annoying teeth!) but I couldn’t fault anything else.

Sandwiches, Snuggle Muffin

After we had a chance to network and eat, it was time to watch a demo on cupcake decorating before getting our competition gloves on for #ScottishbloggerBAKEOFF. We were given ready baked cupcakes and our challenge was to decorate the cupcake with our choice of icing and toppings. It’s been a very long time since I decorated any cupcakes but as they say…. it’s like riding a bike, well… I still had it. I decorated my cupcake in purple buttercream with some love heart confetti and purple glitter. I was very impressed with my own handy work and so were Snuggle Muffin because I ended up winning. Oh yes! My prize was Afternoon Tea for 2 and I can’t wait to go back to Snuggle Muffin to eat more Pastrami Sandwiches and get my little hands on a Pistachio Cupcake that I spied on their website.

Scottish Bake Off Competition

Scottish Blogger Bake Off Competition Entry

I had a lovely time at Snuggle Muffin and ended up in a sugar coma afterwards, which is no bad thing! I’ll be reviewing my Afternoon Tea when I go back so stay on the look out for that.

Where is your favourite place for cake? What is your favourite cake? Let me know!