Monday, 24 June 2013

Beet Soup and Krakow Style Pork

Interrail Stop Number 2

Our second city stop was the lovely Polish city, Krakow. We toured around the castle, admired the Old Town streets, square and market, as well as paying our respects in a visit to Auschwitz (which was truly haunting but I would strongly recommend it as I learned so much from our tour guide and cannot begin to describe the scale and feel of the place in words or photos).

The day and a half we had in this city felt short, and it is somewhere that I would like to revisit for a longer period, but it was a great stop and we tried some traditional food...

After the yummy dumplings we tasted in Warsaw on the first of our interrail stops, we were looking forward to sampling more Polish cuisine in Krakow. We went to a tiny restaurant/cafe called Kuchnia u Doroty, recommended by the free walking tour group, and shared the famous Polish beet soup with croquette (Barszcz z krokietem) as a starter before two hearty main dishes - a Beef Stroganoff (Strogonoff) and Roast Pork with toast and Krakow style gravy (Maczanka po krakowsku).

Beet Soup


We were unsure about ordering the the starter - beetroot soup, what was that going to taste like? But it was on nearly every Polish menu, so we went for it and it was absolutely delicious!! Satisfyingly salty and full of rich flavours, this warming soup had a winter food feel but without the stodge. The croquette was unusual, with undefinable meat in a pasta-come-pastry-come-potato roll, in a light crispy batter. It was a nice accompaniment to the soup, and soaked up the beetroot flavour when dipped in, but perhaps not the tastiest thing on its own!

Beef Stroganoff

Krakow Pork
The main courses were very large, very filling and unnecessarily carby (as was the case with a lot of the local food!). The stroganoff was good, but quite watery and lacking in flavour. The Krakow style sauce had plenty of flavour, but not entirely sure what flavours they were!! The pork was nicely cooked, as were the mushroom and potato accompaniments,but the toast was literally two slices of plain white bread sandwiching the pork. Obviously, with this much sauce it was just soggy bread, resulting in a very strange main course! 

So all in all, we were pleasantly surprised with the beet soup, and unpleasantly surprised with the mains!! Perhaps we were a little adventurous in ordering one of the only dishes on the menu that we had not heard of, but isn't that the point of trying food in new places?? Anyway, we had a great time, the staff were very friendly, the price was unbelievably low, and the cosy traditional setting made the meal a good one!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Polish Dumplings in Warsaw

Interrail Stop Number 1

So for our first stop on our interrail tour around Eastern European Cities, we went to Warsaw, Poland. We had been told to expect a very industrialised, built up and new looking city, which it was in some areas. But we were pleasantly surprised with the Old Town and castle, as much of what we walked through was gorgeous!

Anyhoo, the food... we had the most Polish dish we could find on the first night... dumplings!! Me and my friend ordered some refreshing lemon drinks, a portion of Great Hungarian Style Pancake (with goulash) and a mixture of savoury dumplings. Absolutely delicious but sooooo filling!!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Why I can't diet and the book that made me try

James Duigan Clean & Lean Flat Tummy Fast

The Book 


I recently bought this book because I'd heard about it at work - James Duigan has been Elle Marpherson's personal trainer and I definitely wouldn't mind looking like her! Published by Kyle Books and priced at only £12.99, this book is all about eating right and exercising right for a flat tummy. There are some healthy everyday recipes that I plan to try soon, and lots of fitness plans. He talks a lot about which foods to eat a lot of, and which ones to try and avoid, and this general health information is why I wanted it. Interestingly, stress, caffeine and spicy food can all be a cause of tummy bloating... maybe I should just cut down on those three things!!

Turkey and Cucumber Snack
In the book there is a 14day diet that looks quite manageable - low carbs but a range of different meats, fish and veg. There is also a 6day diet, which I have attempted this week, consisting mostly of lean white meat, white fish, and a (small) variety of green veg. It also suggests you take fibre, multivitamin and fish oil supplements each day, as your body isn't getting quite everything it needs. Only drinking water, and apart from the occasional squeeze of fresh lemon or lime, no added flavours, sauces, dressings or any sort of cooking oil.

Why would I want to?


Next week I am going interrailing around Eastern Europe, visiting a load of different cities and interesting places I've never been before... for a month!!! I'm so excited and will hopefully be able to share a load of the different food I have on here, so keep reading!

So the reason I wanted to do a 6day diet was to shed some of the Christmas weight that I've still not got round to shedding (yes, I know we're in June!) and tone up a bit for short shorts and bikini wearing on the Croatian beach!! I thought... 6days of boring food, how tough can it be?




Egg White Omelette with Spinach
Tough motivating with nothing flavoured food, tough trying to do more exercise than I've done for a while with a much lower calorie intake, tough turkey that I left in the oven because I wasn't interested in cooking it, tough to refrain from temptation when your sister decides to bake for the first time in years, just tough full stop.

Cobbler and Purple Sprouting Brocoli
Now that's not to say that James Duigan doesn't know what he's talking about. The lean white meat or fish with green veg that he recommends has definitely made me feel less bloated and I feel like I've lost a bit of the chubs around my belly. I do think it is a good meal plan and exercise regime, and probably one of the most healthy and nutritous 6day diets I've seen.

But it's so boring!!! I found that I wasn't craving chocolate or a pizza, instead just desperately craving some flavour!

Baked Chicken and Asparagus

I stuck to it properly for the first two days, then the third day I ate the right food but added a little black pepper and/or lemon to some of the fish and chicken. Then today (day 5) I've decided I'm going to cook dinner. Nothing particularly bad for me, or with too many carbs, but just something to get my mouth tingling!

Haddock with lime and ginger

So yes, I've failed the diet. But I figured if I just eat healthy between now and going on Wed then I won't put anything back on and it won't have been a total waste of time! Good book, good results (probably) but terrible on my part!!! Sorry James, I don't think a quick 6day fix is right for me!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Puff Pastry Treats

Here are two easy recipes for puff pastry that make a great little starter or lunch. I bought ready made pastry and then used it for a mushroom and cheese pasty, and an asparagus and red onion tart.

In these experiments I found that the pastry needed to be thinner for the pasty, so that it doesn't have a dry texture, and you may want to half bake the pastry for your tart before adding the ingredients so that you don't over cook the asparagus.

Anyhoo... delicious pastry treats that can be done again and again with different ingredients and flavours. Yum!


Asparagus and Red Onion Tarts

Makes 2 tarts



puff pastry
egg, cracked and beaten
1/4 red onion, chopped
4-6 asparagus, chopped in half
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
black pepper
parmesan cheese, grated


Preheat the oven to about 180degrees.

Roll out the pastry until it is only a couple of mm thick. Cut into rectangles just longer than your asparagus halves, and fold over the edges. Brush with a little egg.

Fry the red onion and asparagus in a drop of olive oil for 6-8mins until the asparagus begins to soften. Add a healthy splash of balsamic, and season with black pepper.

Fit your mixture into the rectangle of pastry and sprinkle parmesan over the top. Bake in the oven for about 10mins, or until your pastry is golden and flaky.










Mushroom and Cheese Pasty

Makes 2 pasties



puff pastry
olive oil
1/4 red onion, chopped
handful of mushrooms, chopped
black pepper
2 tablespoons of cream cheese
cheddar cheese, grated
egg, cracked and beaten


Preheat the oven to about 180degrees.

Roll out the pastry until it is only a couple of mm thick. Cut into squares ( about 15cm).

Fry the red onion in a drop of olive oil for a couple of minutes, until it starts to soften. Add the mushrooms and a good twist of black pepper. Fry for a further few minutes, until the mushrooms are browning.

Add the cream cheese to the frying pan, and mix in to coat all of the ingredients.

Fit the mixture into one half of the pastry square, leaving space to fold into a triangle. Add the grated cheese.

Brush the egg around the edges, fold the pastry and stick the edges together. You may want to use a fork to add a pattern, or a knife to cut a couple of slits in the top of the pasty. Brush with egg and bake in the oven for about 10mins, or until your pastry is golden and flaky.