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4 Quick, (Mostly) Vegetarian Dinners for Spring

Typically, the weather is yet to make up its mind about which season we’re currently experiencing. I’ve been pushing on with spring regardless under the guidance of the calendar alone – sometimes eating outside, sometimes on the sofa under a blanket wondering how long it’s been since I’ve seen the sky. That’s April for you.

Quick, easy dinners that can be rustled up on a weeknight after a long day at work were my most requested post last year. This year (now that I have a proper job where I have to actually use my brain) that’s all I have time for anyway, so you can expect plenty of these in the months to come.

Spaghetti with Tuna, Capers and Lemon

Spaghetti with Tuna, Capers and Lemon

Boil 150-200g spaghetti in salted water according to pack instructions. Reserve about 1/4 cup of pasta water just before draining. Put it back in the pan with the splash of pasta water and add the juice of a lemon, a can of tuna, a tbsp capers, a generous knob of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Keep the heat under it and keep stirring til rich and saucy. Stir through a handful of chopped fresh parsley just before serving.

Tip: if you want extra greens, stir through a big handful of rocket at the same time as the parsley.

Rhubarb and Lentil Curry

Rhubarb and Lentil Curry

I put a call out on Twitter recently for savoury rhubarb recipes and this one from Jenny Chandler blog came highly recommended by Gourmet Goat. I loved it. It was quick to prepare, warming enough to comfort me in the depths of a rain spell but fresh and new enough (thanks to the rhubarb) to be completely appropriate for spring.

Soften onion (1), celery and carrots (2 of each), on a medium heat and add 3 sliced garlic cloves. Stir in 1 tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp ground coriander and 1/2 tsp chilli flakes. Add 350g rhubarb cut into chunks 150g puy or green lentils (rinsed). Pour in 600ml veg stock, bring to boil then simmer for 20 mins. Add 1 tbsp soft brown sugar, simmer for 5-10 mins more.

Vegan Mac and Cheese with Rocket

Vegan Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is more commonly used as an autumn and winter staple, but I’m easing it into spring by taking the portion size down just a little and adding a great big handful of greens to the bowl. This recipe makes enough for 4.

Boil 200-300g macaroni and set aside. Cook 30g butter and 30g flour together until a paste forms. Gradually add about half a carton of soya milk, whisking all the time to avoid lumps. Keep the heat low and cook to thicken, whilst adding generous shakes of smoked paprika, cayenne and garlic powder. Add salt to taste. If you have some, throw in a handful of nutritional yeast. Finally, add an entire block of vegan cheese*, grated. Mix the macaroni into the sauce and (if you want, this isn’t a completely necessary step) bake at 180C Fan/Gas Mark 6 for around 20 minutes. Serve with plenty of greens.

* the vegan cheese I recommend most highly/that is most affordable is ASDA’s cheddar alternative. See here.

Tofu and Spinach Curry

Tofu and Spinach Curry

This is the easiest dinner in the world thanks to a vital short cut: jarred curry sauce. If you’ve been reading this blog a while you’ll know it’s not a place for food snobs. If you want to rustle up your own curry sauce for this one, fire away. For me, this is the dinner I can pull out of the bag in 20 minutes with next to no effort after a shit day.

Soften 1 chopped onion then add half a block of pressed tofu, chopped into cubes. Once browned, add half a bag of spinach, tearing with your hands before adding to the pan (quicker than chopping). Pour over a jar of curry sauce (personal fave is Lloyd Grossman tikka masala) and cook until spinach is wilted and sauce is piping hot. Serve with rice.

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The Booze Subscription Boxes Worth Knowing About This Year

It’s 2018. Subscription boxes are a thing – nay, the thing. Think of something, anything, and you can bet a start up will have created it in a deliverable format for your convenience.

I get beauty surprises delivered to me monthly thanks to Glossybox to satisfy the part of me that craves novelty treats, and blades delivered to me bi-monthly from Friction Free Shaving to take the ballache out of remembering to replace them.

A concept that is new to me, however, is getting booze delivered to my door. I’ve always been more of a grab-and-gulp girl than a plan-and-pour one. If I know I’ve got a fancy dinner on the cards, I’ll buy a bottle of wine. If I know I’ve got a night out planned, I make a beeline for the Aldi spirits aisle for their holy grail gin.

Having trialled Clara Wine for the past few months, I can totally see the benefits of having bottles arrive monthly. Let’s dive into it.

Clara Wine Subscription Box Review

What’s the deal?

Clara are a UK based wine subscription service, offering monthly wine selections based on a taste profile you provide them with. You answer a few questions online that will inform the bottles they send your way. Each bottle comes with it’s own little infocard that provides tasting notes which make drinking each wine so much more fun.

How much does it cost?

Subscriptions are £48 a month and three bottles are delivered for that price. Personally, that prices me way out. Averaging at £16 a bottle, it’s not a luxury I’d be able to afford myself at the moment.

Fair, but what’s the wine like?

Gorgeous. I trialled the service for three months and I presume it’s a testament to their taste profile and the quality of producers they work with that I adored every single bottle. I can’t speak highly enough of the wine that’s come through my door over the past few months. I’ll miss it!

Clara Wine Review

So would I recommend it?

It’s a difficult one. On quality of product alone, absolutely I would. The best wine I’ve ever tried in my life has been poured in my kitchen over the past few months. But at £16 a bottle, you’d kind of hope it would be, right? I think I’d leave this one at a solid ‘it depends’ – if you’ve got £48 a month to throw at this, I don’t think you’d regret it.

Clara Wine Subscription Box Review

What else is out there?

If you’re not a wine person, there are a whole host of other options knocking about on the internet. Check out Crafty Nectar for premium ciders, Craft Gin Club for gin or Honest Brew for craft beer.

Crafty Nectar Review

Where to Eat in Brighton | March 2018

I’ve had an idea. I’m about to start a new job – a slightly better paid job – which is going to open me up to a little bit of disposable income that will allow me to go out and eat in actual restaurants.

As much as I love to share food finds with you, I’m not so keen on writing about them. I’m no Jay Rayner, full page restaurant reviews are not where my skills lie.

So, I’m gonna round up all the places I’ve eaten and loved each month in this new blog series. It will be titled ‘Where to Eat in Brighton’, be dated for the following month, and detail places that fed me brilliantly in the previous month. I’ll always publish it on the 1st of a new month. Making sense?

From now on you’ll have somewhere that you can check each month to see recent opinions on delicious places to eat in Brighton. This means that you’ve got an easy resource to read and I’ve got a (relatively) small job to do.

A few snaps of the food, a brief description of everything, a real quick in and out to give you just enough info. I can’t be arsed trying to find original ways to discuss the ambience and instagrammability of the interior. Again, I’ll leave that to the experts.

We’ve got a particularly excellent start to this series thanks to February being the birthday month of both me and Tom. We ate out a whole lot, with each other and with other people, to celebrate.

Noodles Soup

37 West Street, Brighton, BN1 2RE

Noodles Soup, West Street, Brighton Review

This is where I took Tom for his birthday lunch after seeing it about six million times on Rosie’s Instagram (which, by the way, is the place to be for Brighton food).

I had the laksa with chicken and egg noodles and Tom had honey roast pork. Along with the dumplings and spring rolls on the side, our meal came to a grand total of £19.90.

I don’t have the authority to call this place authentic, but I can only presume that it’s the real deal. I’ve never had noodle soup like it, the flavour of that broth is something else. The service is delightfully un-British, brisk and to the point. Come here for a quick meal ASAP if you’re a noodle person.

The Salt Room

106 Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2FU

The Salt Room, Brighton

If you’ve got a special occasion on your hands (Mother’s Day very soon), this is the place to book. The Salt Room delivers everything to the highest standard. You’re never gonna leave this place feeling short changed. I definitely recommend you check out their extra AF afternoon tea (which I’ve previously reviewed) but this month my Mum took me for their lunch set menu for my birthday.

3 courses for £20 saw us enjoying an amazing mackerel and pear starter, a main course that was equally divine but its details now escape me (I’ll get better at taking menu pics as this series goes on, I promise) and ginger cake. It’s recommended that you grab a carby side at around the £4 mark to go with your main.

(It’s a seafood restaurant, just an FYI in case you hadn’t clocked from the name and stuff from the sea is not your bag)

The food is outstanding and customers are treated like royalty. Let them know it’s your birthday before booking and they’ll even bring you out some fancy truffles to finish you off.

Petit Pois

70 Ship Street, Brighton, BN1 1AE

Petit Pois, French Restaurant, Brighton

Petit Pois (a cosy little French place not far off the seafront) is where I chose to dine courtesy of my Valentine on recommendation from Rosie, my Mum, and everyone else that’s ever been there.

I think their set menu is a strong contender for best value food in the whole city. At 3 courses for £13.50 – a meat dish, a fish dish and a vegetable dish – even on a Friday night it’s cheaper than most of the chain restaurants, and the food is lush.

Use the booking system on their website and they’ll drop you an email to confirm availability. This place is hot at the moment for good reason, if I had to choose one restaurant from this list that I insist you try it’d be this one.

 

Patty & Bun

56 Ship Street, Brighton, BN1 1AF

Patty & Bun

The above pics are from Patty & Bun‘s launch night earlier this month at which I was a guest. They’re a small chain that have just opened up on Ship St (right opposite The Font) specialising in filthy burgers.

The selection of sides is modest but they’re all excellent. I particularly loved the ‘thunder thighs’ (£6, bottom left) – deep fried chicken thighs in a smoked jalapeno butter sauce, the wings (£6.50) are great too. After gorging on chicken to begin, I went with the ‘ari gold’ cheeseburger (£8.50) with a big old hunk of fried cheese added, this is something you can do to any of their burgers for an extra £4 and I strongly recommend that you do.

Semolina

15 Baker Street, Brighton, BN1 4JN

Semolina, Brighton

Is this my favourite restaurant in Brighton? Quite possibly, it’s definitely my most frequented. This is where we go if ever my Grandparents come to visit because they both adore it too.

They have a weekly changing set menu – 3 courses for £15 – that runs from Wednesday to Saturday 12-3pm. I’ve never had a single course from this menu that I haven’t adored. Nothing that I’ve been ‘meh’ about, ever. I’ve reviewed Semolina in full before if you wanna learn more about them.

Pictured above is minestrone with kale pesto, roast cod with shrimp butter, beef and pork belly ragu with gnocchi and pana cotta with almond and orange cake.

7Bone

120 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2AE

7Bone, Hove

Another new (well, new-ish) burger joint is 7bone, way out in the depths of Hove. These guys are gonna set you back a little less than P&B thanks to their basket deals (any main + dirty side for £11.95 or any main + regular side for £10.45) but for me its hard to choose between them.

I’d say the food at P&B just slightly had the edge, but if you want to spend a little less, walk a little further and get waited on by the sweetest waitresses (they were all so lovely) then 7bone is your bag. I went purely because The Brighton Girl grammed a picture of their one big chicken burger that has hash browns in it, so it’s good for the novelty factor too.

Et voila. This is probably gonna be real clunky in its first couple of months so bear with me while I find the right groove. See you next month for more of the same..

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