La Sala, Puerto Banus (picture courtesy of La Sala)
There aren’t many jobs that come with a surprise trip to Marbella for the end of year party, but luckily for me, I have one! My sleepy colleagues and I arrived at the office at 5.30am, the cat finally let out of the bag after a short bus journey to Leeds Bradford airport where boarding passes were handout out by the world’s best boss.
Arriving in Puerto Banus just in time for lunch, the afternoon was jam-packed with a bit of work but mostly play, before heading back to the hotel to get read for a night on the town. After our only celeb spot of the trip (a bit of cringe worthy but very fun hob nobbing with Strictly dancer James Jordan) we arrived at restaurant, La Sala.
The table booked for a laid-back 10.30pm, we arrived early to enjoy drinks on the terrace where the outdoor heaters took the edge off the evening chill. A couple of bottles of Sauvignon and a few cold beers later, the 14 of us were shown to our table to enjoy a beautiful three-course dinner. The restaurant was bustling, clearly a popular hot spot, with live music being enjoyed by a mixture of locals and tourists in the bar area, although I do think we were the only party dancing at the table…
Spoilt for choice from a mouth-watering set menu, I opted for; deep-fried Camembert, grilled sea bream with lime risotto and asparagus, followed by a selection of home-made ice cream. Knowing the amount of drinking that was on the cards after said meal, I wanted to keep my choices as light as possible. Dinner was really incredible and I clearly played it well given the amount of wine that was consumed during the hours that followed (no nap required) however, I had super food envy at my neighbour’s spinach and ricotta tortellini with pine nuts. When she was full I ceased the opportunity to tuck in, it was so rich and creamy I could have finished the whole bowl but resisted. An option for next time for sure.
Dinner done we finished the evening nightclub Seven. An Arabian-inspired club with great music and generous measures of spirits. Both venues come highly recommended and made for a great whistle-stop tour of this popular destination. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to nurse my headache…
With the boy working late tonight, my thoughts turned not to a romantic Valentine’s meal for two, but to my pending girl’s night in on Saturday with three beautiful friends from my university days. Starting to think about what I might cook, I turned to Lorraine (Pascale) for inspiration. Some things to consider: Firstly, I actually want to see them, rather than spending the whole evening concocting and creating in the kitchen. Secondly, one is pregnant and I knew there were some food rules around that….Thirdly, one is a recovering vegetarian, brining with it a whole new set of rules!
Lovely pregnant friend quickly sent over a list of menu no-goes which didn’t bring with it too many surprises, except parma ham, who knew? And then of course the wine, but that’s another blog post in itself, the poor girl.
So, Lorraine’s lamb tagine it was. Easy enough to prepare in advance.
That was, until lovely ex-vegetarian friend came back with the vegetarian criteria. Nothing cute. She’s not a vegetarian any more, but she still doesn’t eat cute things. So ducks are out but chickens are in. Baby sheep are a no go but grown up cows? Apparently fine! She is so hilarious. And I am currently adapting Lorraine’s tagine recipe.
And that wasn’t the only shocking food news I received today. Call me naive but I did not know that Lochmuir was a brand name invented by Marks and Spencer, specifically designed to sound like a Scottish village that might farm salmon. The media went mad about it today, but I actually think it’s quite clever…
I'll keep you updated on Saturday's take on tagine.
I love my dishwasher
Two Mother’s Days + a good catch up with old friends = a three-day cook-a-thon Chez Jules.
I didn’t quite realise how much work I’d taken on when my other half and I between us agreed to host three separate meals at our place this weekend, but myself and my good friends Jamie, Delia and Ernst and Julio Gallo (just to keep a spring in my step) managed to pull off the cooking bonanza. I’ll not bore you with each individual menu, but I want to outline a couple of successes for you to try should you find yourself in the same situation.
Success number one: Jamie’s chocolate ganache
You may recall from a previous post that I love Jamie’s book 30 minute meals, but never has one been completed in under and hour and a half in my house….until now. The secret…don’t attempt the full meal, just one course! Ditch the spaghetti and silky salad which Jamie suggests to accompany the ganache and instead, couple the dessert with a simple pasta dish and voila! A 30 minute meal!
Success number two: delicious dauphinoise potatoes
Not a dish I had been able to master until now. But a bit of dabbling with the recipe…and I’ve done it! Slice your potatoes to the width of a £1 coin and layer up into a baking tray or roasting dish. Generously season. Then, boil some double cream, milk, loads of garlic and nutmeg (forgive the lack of measurements – I didn’t use any!) Pour over the potatoes and add a final layer of cheese on top. I used parmesan but today my boss suggested that gruyere is the way forward, so I’ll be trying this out next time! Simply bake for an hour and a half and that’s it. I also found that they can be prepared in advance and just warmed up as required which is very useful indeed when a trip to the pub is on the cards before the guests arrive.
Said potatoes served with stuffed chicken and green beans...on rather large plates
J was flippin' brilliant at pancakes!
Yes, I’m aware Shrove Tuesday was days ago…but I’ve had a cold…this is my excuse for the late posting and I’m sticking to it!
Anyway, this Tuesday I hosted a little pancake party and squeezed some of my favourite friends into my small but humble abode. After a main course of savoury pancakes (basically amended pasta bake recipes) we got onto the important bit…pancake pudding. I was delighted to see my friends’ pancake-eating rituals and we each ate our fair share. I’m making up for it at the gym this weekend!
My cooking-phobic friend J sprang into action as we whisked the mix and started the flipping process. I was incredibly impressed at the first round of pancakes she produced, directing guests to the “pancake station” (top of the microwave) to choose their toppings whilst the rest of us watched on with a beer or two.
And my buttie-loving friend K didn’t disappoint with her choice of topping, or rather, filling. She creatively wrapped a whole banana within the pancake, fajita stylee whilst her other half earned the title of “best tosser” – his pancake toss earned a significant round of applause. Meanwhile, the rest of the boys topped their pancakes with a mixture of every single topping we had. Standard.
The pancake station
Please see below for my first guest blog post from my lovely, esteemed colleague Janelle Hardacre. Enjoy!