Sunday, 24 November 2013

Food experiences in Beautiful Bosnia

Interrail Stop 8

To round off our interrail tour of Eastern Europe before hitting the Croatian beach, we visited the beautiful Bosnia and Herzegovina. Definitely one of my favourite places on our trip, with amazing scenery, fascinating markets and welcoming people, but a country still feeling the after effects of the devastating war in the 1990s. We chatted to the locals and absorbed ourselves in the history, and, of course, sampled some of the food!


We stopped firstly in Sarajevo and walked all over the city, visiting the many different places of worship and browsing the markets full of interesting items. Down one of these side streets we stopped for a bite to eat in a little cafe and shared a huge plateful of ćevapčići - tasty little sausages that are a national dish in Bosnia and Herzegovina and can also be found in some of the other Southeastern European countries. Served typically with a flat bread, raw onions and sour cream or soft cheese... it's a kind of kebab that tastes AMAZING!!

After having this for lunch in the cafe, we later found the hostel guys cooking it on a BBQ... which was soooo much more delicious! Less grease but still all of the flavour, and a great way to line the stomach before a night in Sarajevo!


We then traveled down to Mostar, a city you might recognise by its Old Bridge (Stari Most), which proudly stands now as a handmade reconstruction of the same bridge that stood before the war and a symbol of Bosnia's recovery.

During our brief stay in Mostar we went on a trip in a small group to see the small village at the source of the Buna river, Blagaj and the Kravice Falls (the gorgeous scene in the photo at the top of this post). At the river, we we lucky enough to eat a traditional breakfast of Burek and Bosnian Coffee.

We had already sampled Burek on other stops, but this was a different dish again... with the pastry formed into a different shape and filled with either cheese or meat... it was a hearty breakfast for a day of walking, swimming and jumping in at the waterfall!

The Bosnian coffee was strong and rich - not my cup of tea (or coffee!!!) as I tend to prefer it super milky - but it was worth a try and I'm sure it would be delicious if you weren't a wussy coffee drinker like me!!

So there you have it... a brilliant end to our touring around Eastern Europe with some delicious food and some of the best sights. If you've ever wondered about visiting Bosnia, then stop wondering and just go!

Thanks for reading about the food we tasted on our trip! I can't wait to go and see some more amazing sights and try some new dishes some time soon! But for now, keep popping back to see some recipes, cookbook and restaurant reviews...

Monday, 18 November 2013

Super Easy Open Baguette

This was a ridiculously easy but very tasty meal that I cooked for a friend the other night after work. When you want to eat nice food, but really can't be bothered to spend hours in the kitchen, then this might be one for you! You can change the ingredients to anything that you fancy (I think most people would add tomatoes to this but I don't particularly like them), or you might prefer different toppings altogether...

Whatever you put on it, a part-baked baguette topped with tasty bits is going to be a hit! And if you are anything like me, then you just cannot have too much cheese...

Serves 2


1 large part-baked baguette
2 tablespoons green pesto (preferably homemade but if it's going to be a quick after-work dinner like it was for me then shop bought will definitely suffice!)
1/2 red pepper, sliced
4 pieces parma ham
1 mozzarella ball, sliced
freshly ground black pepper


Cut the baguette in half and then top up with the ingredients in the order shown below. Make sure to give a good twist of black pepper before putting it into a preheated oven (according to the baguette packet instructions). I would probably bake it for about 10mins or until the cheese is bubbling deliciously!

Serve with a green salad (delicious with rocket!) and add some roughly chopped fresh basil leaves to compliment the pesto flavours... Enjoy!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

My best ever Fried Rice Recipe

The other night I made the best fried rice ever... it was tasty, healthy, cheap, easy and lasted me a dinner and two lunches! With just a few bits of veg I had left over in my fridge and a selection of Thai flavours I concocted this yummy dish, and I really didn't expect it to go quite this well... It was that good I probably won't be able to recreate it, but I've done my best to write a bit of a recipe for it here so that you can have a go and so I can try and remember how I did it!! Apologies for the big headedness - you will just have trust me that this was just THAT good!

Ingredients (don't trust these completely, alter as you wish, and feel free to add whatever veg you like!)

Serves 2-3
two white fish fillets (I actually just used cheapo frozen white fish!)
1 portion of rice (about 1/3 cup)
1 large carrot, grated
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
2 eggs
olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
about half a broccoli (cut the florets into small pieces)
2 lemon grass stalks, chopped finely
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
1 chilli, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3spring onions, chopped
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Thai sweet chilli sauce
salt and pepper
a large handful of fresh coriander, chopped roughly

Recipe (or something similar!)

Bake the fish in the oven for 15-20mins depending on the size of the fillets. Boil a pan of water and add your rice. Cook until it is soft and then drain. Mix the grated carrot with the sugar and white wine vinegar. Crack the eggs into a jug and whisk with a fork. Leave all these to the side for later.

Put a dash of oil in your wok over a medium-high heat, then add the onion and broccoli and fry until the onion starts to soften a little.

Then add lemon grass, garlic, chilli and red pepper and fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the carrot mixture and spring onions and fry for a further minute before tipping the veg into a bowl, leaving the wok empty.

Put another dash of olive oil into the wok and add your whisked eggs. Keep moving it around with a wooden spoon until the eggs begin to cook, making sure that none of it sticks to the pan.

Add the ready cooked rice and mix in. Make sure all of the egg is cooked, then add your veg mixture.

Mix in your soy and sweet chilli sauces and season with salt and pepper.

Finally, throw in as much coriander as you like (it's my favourite herb and an essential flavour to this dish!), mix altogether and serve.


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Fabulous Food in Slovenia

 The sun's out and it's taken me back to my interrail tour around Europe in the summer... so today I thought I'd share a few of the delicious food experiences we had in Slovenia. This beautiful country was probably up there as one of my favourites - some of the scenery reminded me of Italy but without the price tag and some of the buildings reminded me of Austria! It was absolutely lovely and we managed to try a range of tasty dishes...

Interrail Stop 7


Street Eats

We stayed in the capital Ljubljana for a couple of nights, exploring Lake Bled and Lake Bohenj on one day and the city and castle the next.

Just around the corner from our hostel was a bakery called 'Dunajska Pekarna' that made the best chocolate croissant I have ever had. Seriously. It was warm and soft with melted chocolate in the middle and crispy pastry around the edge...  YUM!

On the topic of tasty sweets, we also sampled this traditional Bled cream cake: 'kremšnita'. Lake Bled (photo above) was probably the highlight of our stay in Slovenia. Famous for the island in the middle of the lake, the area has also got a name for this incredible cake. Looking at the photo you might think that it would taste sickly or stodgy, but you must trust me when I say this is just SO GOOD! Light, fluffy cream and custard in the middle, with a satisfyingly sweet pastry base and topping... I repeat, SO GOOD!

This next street eat is Börek (or burek) and doesn't just appear in Slovenia. With Ottoman origins, we came across it in the former Yugoslavia countries, each putting their own twist on the style. In Slovenia, the burek that we ate was meat filled and tasty! Shaped in a spiral and then shared between the two of us, this was a great meal on the go. We couldn't decide exactly what it was made from - it seemed to be a dough somewhere in between filo pastry and pasta (!!) - but whatever it was, it was delicious!

And last but not least, the smell of Nutella tempted us to try another pancake - very similar to those that we had in Belgrade, but this time we chose a sweet filling. I don't think that I need to say very much for you to know that this was just awesome!!

So by the end of our stay in Slovenia we had sampled several of the street eats and (though I may have left with a couple more pounds in weight!) none of it broke the bank!

Meal Out


As none of the food was particularly expensive (and all totally yummy!) we also treated ourselves to a meal out to a restaurant recommended by our hostel owner. The restaurant was called Gujzina and was not far from the main square and the triple bridge.

It was a beautiful restaurant and we were lucky enough to be seated at the window. We admired the loveliness of the whole thing and then proceeded to order the cheapest meal we possibly could (I know it's a bad way to choose from a menu but we were running out of money!!), settling for a set two course meal for two, including a white wine spritzer each! When the food arrived, believe me, we could not have been more delighted at the meal we had chosen!

A cold meat board starter with freshly baked bread was our first treat of the evening - a tantalizing selection of meats with smooth pate, a tuna mix, cheese and salad accompaniments - I don't think I could have picked a better starter than this, it was absolutely delicious!

A warm, hearty stew of red meats and potatoes was our next treat - a prekmurski bograč - served in a delightful little dish hanging over a candle. The flavours were similar to that of a Hungarian Goulash, but not quite the same. The menu described it as a Slovenian stew, including pork, beef, venison, potatoes, onions, garlic, pepper and salt. I'd love to know what other spices they used to create this yummy dish!

And our final treat for the evening was the bill... 22.90 Euro for both of us, including the drinks!! So if you're ever in Ljubljana then make sure you try this restaurant!

Delicious food, friendly locals and amazing scenery, Slovenia is definitely one to go back to for a longer stay. To round off our trip to this lovely country, I just want to leave you with on last photo...

Saturday, 12 October 2013

First Meal in my New Flat

I'm back!!! I finally have internet in my new flat so I have loads to share with you... There's still some meals from my trip around Eastern Europe and a family holiday to Pollenca and, of course, tons of recipes from my own cooking and books!

I thought the best place to start would be the first meal I cooked in my new kitchen... it's a lovely open plan kitchen/dining/living room - perfect for entertaining as I can cook while still chatting to my friends! So the dish is just a very simple Chicken Tikka Masala - not fancy but absolutely fool proof and very tasty! So welcome back everyone, pour a glass of wine and enjoy the recipe!


Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 3 (great for 2 people with leftovers for the freezer!)

olive oil
2 chicken breasts
1 onion (I used red this time but I normally use white)
large tablespoon of tikka masala paste
2/3 cup of rice
1 red pepper
6-8 mushrooms
tin of chopped tomatoes
handful of flaked almonds (optional)
handful of fresh coriander leaves
1 naan bread
2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt (optional)

Chop all of the ingredients and get a pan of water boiling ready for your rice.

Put a deep frying pan on a medium heat and add a dash of olive oil. Add the chicken and fry until it has turned white.

Add the onion. As the onion softens add the tikka masala paste and stir until it is covering all of the chicken.

Cook the rice according to packet instructions (I usually put it on at this stage and the timings tend to work well).

Add the peppers and mushrooms to the pan and fry for a few minutes, mixing with the chicken, onions and paste.

As the veg softens, add the tin of chopped tomatoes, most of the almonds and coriander. Leave to simmer and absorb all of the flavours for about 5 minutes. If you are serving with naan bread then put it in a preheated oven.

If you want a creamier curry then add natural yoghurt, but it is still delicious without!

Drain and serve your rice and spoon on your curry. Sprinkle the remaining almonds and coriander over the dishes and eat!

So there you have it... the simple and tasty dish that I made for my friend as the first meal in my new kitchen! It's a really great basic recipe that you can mix up with different meats, different veg and chilli if you want to add some more spice - delicious with spinach added towards the end of cooking if you fancy a tikka saag!

A good one for a Saturday evening if you fancy making it tonight or it can even be a fairly quick mid-week meal... have a lovely weekend folks and enjoy!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Food Delights in Belgrade

Well after a few weeks of dissertation madness, I've finally found time to blog again! Apologies that it's been so long, but I will attempt to make up for it with some more regular posts this month... finishing off the amazing food we had on our interrailing tour of Eastern Europe, some delicious meals from a family holiday to Pollenca, Majorca, and of course, some of my own recipes!!

Interrail Stop 6

So back to the interrail tour... this time I'll share with you some of the tasty treats we had in Belgrade, Serbia. We had a couple of stops before this in Budapest and Bratislava, but chose to spend our money on the beautiful and relaxing public baths instead of tasty dinners out.... so we were back to trying the local cuisine in Serbia.

? Kafana

One of the famous landmarks in Belgrade, the ? pub and bistro is about 200 years old and serves traditional Serbian food. From our experience of the local food, that means basically dishes with lots of meat and carbs - very  filling, stodgy and greasy - but oh so tasty!!

I think these few days in Serbia just about finished us off with greasy food, but we loved eating it at the time! The meal out to ? was absolutely delicious - I had a traditional burger which was nothing like burgers that we know in the UK, but more like a huge slap of meat mixed up with onions and shaped to about the size of my face!!

 My friend had something that we expected to be chicken... but it was unlike anything we had eaten before... basically chicken flattened to within an inch of its life and then rolled up around something that we couldn't name and coated in a sort of batter/sort of outer crisp. And somehow it tasted amazing! Then we shared a Serbian salad (basically cheese, tomato and white cabbage) and it just about balanced out all the stodge and grease.

The atmosphere of the place was awesome - we didn't get there until about 11pm as we had to run back for more money (being cheapskate tourists, we hadn't brought out enough cash!!) and the restaurant area was still buzzing. There were musicians playing to the tables and waiters happy to advise us on dishes.

A lovely meal and great place to try some of the unusual traditional dishes... definitely would recommend if you are visiting Belgrade. There's also an interesting history to the current name (involving the Church opposite disapproving of its name years ago as it was suggestive of a place of drinking and merriment, so they changed it to ? as a temporary name and then never changed it to anything else!)


From a street cafe we also tried a Serbian palačinka... much like French crepes but somehow thinner and bigger, and we watched them make them like this!

We had them filled with ham, cheese, sour creme... yummy!! (although not to be eaten often - each mouthful felt like a day's worth of calories!!)

Pijaca/Green Market

Now a lot of the fruit and veg was cheaper around our Eastern Europe travels than it is in the UK, but nowhere was a cheap as the Belgrade Pijaca - we must have spent less than £2 and ended up with all of this!! Needless to say we had an all veg stir fry that night (and the day after, and the day after that!!) A great place to just wander around but you will come away with a lot more than you went for!!

So there you have it... after several weeks of not posting, here is a lengthy post about all the different food we sampled in  Belgrade!! I'd definitely recommend the ? Kafana and the Pijaca. Oh yeah, I should also mention that they give you a free shot of rakija on the morning walking tour... it's absolutely gross so take a bottle of water!!!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Red Lion at Stone Edge

Sunday Bistro Dinner with Family

Photo from The Red Lion Website
As a celebration for my grandparents finally moving into the cottage next to us, we went out for a delicious pub dinner at The Famous Red Lion at Stone Edge. If you have ever visited Derbyshire then you have probably visited the pub-come-functionroom-come-bistro. Or if you are ever in the region then it is well worth a visit for quality food and a lovely rustic setting.

Right up on the hillside between Chesterfield and Matlock, in a lovely stone building with rich wooden beams and furniture inside, The Red Lion at Stanage (as everyone calls it) is relaxed and typical of the area, while still upholding a sense of quality. Luckily for me, my parents house is close enough to this pub that I can call it my local!

As there was a large group of us, we managed to test most of the small Sunday Bistro menu. One thing to be aware of with this pub, though, is that they change their menus regularly so don't have your hopes up for one of these tasty looking dishes!!


We had a selection of starters ranging from Foie Gras to Fishcake, Black Pudding and Poached Egg to Salmon Tartare, and even a good ole Tomato Soup.

I had the salmon dish which was served with quails eggs and onions - it was absolutely delicious. The salmon had a great texture, not too rubbery as it sometimes can be when its uncooked, and a lovely flavour combination with the delicate eggs and my favourite ingredient, onion.

Everyone enjoyed the starters, but I think there were some envious of my Salmon Tartare... Comparing it to the tasty but not particularly special fishcakes, it seemed to be in a different league!!


The main course was a lot more like the typical pub food that we might expect from an English countryside pub. A couple chose to try the roast dinner dishes, from tender beef to tasty pork with apple sauce, both served with crispy Yorkshire puddings.

Others were tempted by gammon steak with fried egg and chips, or the more delicate mushroom risotto or sea-bream with capers.

I opted for a very basic, but very yummy fish and chips - the chips were fat chunks of potato with a gorgeous colour and a crunch to match, while the haddock was flaky and delicious with a light and crispy batter, and the best part of the dish was the proper mushy peas which hid under the fish.


And this needs no introduction...

All in all a great family meal, a fabulous pub and a relaxed place to go for a good quality meal. The Red Lion at Stanage... proving that sometimes the local is the best!