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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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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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Why You Need to Read Eat Up by Ruby Tandoh Immediately

I often wrongly assume that everybody I speak to will know who Ruby Tandoh is. Do you ever do that? Love and respect somebody you’ve never met so much that you imagine everybody else in the country must feel the same way about her?

I’ve confused friends, family, unsuspecting colleagues and strangers in the street by yammering on about Ruby without first giving her context, because I’m so used to her that I forget she might sometimes need it.

I’m trying to work on that, and so will remind you at this point that Ruby Tandoh first came into the public eye as a contestant on the Great British Bake Off. Back in its BBC glory days, Ruby didn’t win but came pretty damn close and had me (and my Mum, if I remember correctly) fall a bit in love with her in the process.

She’s since turned out to be a bit of a legend, all in all. Her social media presence has a huge focus on mental health and the importance of looking after it – she even released a zine to that effect called Do What You Want – and she’s not afraid of going against the grain in this new world of food writing that’s so focused on ‘health’ and ‘wellness’. She’s bringing the love and the joy back into eating, and she doesn’t care who knows it.

Ruby’s published three books (she’s 25, by the way) and the title before this one, Flavour: Eat What You Love, was a mainstay in my kitchen for a while after it came out. Eat Up is the first of Ruby’s books that isn’t really a recipe book at all. It contains a smattering of recipes every few chapters, but that’s not what this one’s for..

Eat Up by Ruby Tandoh Review

I don’t know how best to describe Eat Up. I loathe to say it, but to me it ended up taking the shape of a self help book. It was a great big long love letter to food and an unabashed ‘fuck you’ to the individuals and corporations that have historically and do currently profit from making us feel shit about what we do or don’t eat.

It made me examine prejudices that I’ve internalised from years of trying to fit in with the big name food people on the internet. It gave me permission to take pride and joy in what I cook and eat despite the fact that it comes not from the fanciest of farmers markets but from the Super 6 section at ALDI on London Road.

Several times, it felt quite simply as though Ruby was reaching out to me through the pages, grabbing my hand, looking me dead in the eye and saying “you can eat whatever the fuck you like, you know – and enjoy it, too”.

Eat Up by Ruby Tandoh Review

Ruby calls people out – by name, even – for their damaging behaviour in the food world. The Deliciously Ellas, the Tom Kerridges (much as I hate to admit it, he too is guilty of pedalling diets), the Belle Gibsons. She comes for diet culture and she wins with her hands behind her back.

McDonald’s and supermarkets and other food institutions that are absolutely flawed but used by the average person are, of course, discussed. Rationally, calmly, reasonably, and most importantly of all in a way that doesn’t vilify us for enjoying the value of a cheeseburger and the convenience of a superstore.

This book is going to take you on a guided tour of every shitty element of the way we talk about food and smooth it out, unpack it, gently reverse its grip on your mind – but it’s not going to stop there. It’s going to make you fall in love with food (all of it) all over again.

That’s not something I even realised I needed to do until I’d read this book. I thought I – super chill and laid back eat whatever you want person – was immune to the messaging we’re continually bombarded with about what’s good (see also: nourishing, clean, pure) to eat and what we mustn’t eat. But it must have been niggling at me somewhere because by the last page, a load had been taken off.

Eat Up has given me so much. I’ve truly begun to enjoy food even more, and with reckless abandon. It’s allowed me to romanticise and appreciate the food I actually do eat all the more, not the food I think I should probably be eating.

If you’ve ever lost your appetite thanks to an article you’ve read, an Instagram post you’ve absentmindedly digested or a wellness craze your mate told you about, this book is for you.

You can buy Eat Up on Amazon, but I’d recommend checking out Hive as an alternative if you’re able to part with an extra quid, because they’re a really cool bookseller that supports local bookshops.

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