Garlic Mushroom Nutroast and My First Roast Dinner!

Yes, I had got to the age of 25 and never made a proper, full blown, British Roast Dinner. Pretty shocking really considering how much I love food/cooking, but roasts have never been one of my favourite meals and I just wasn’t fussed! But, now we are moved out and in our lovely new flat, I decided the time had come for me to tackle this most British of lunches. I asked Ben what vegetarian delicacy he wanted me to conjure up, thinking he’d say mushroom wellington, an exciting pie or some kind of bake. His answer? Nutroast! Well, if that is what the boy wants, that is what the boy will get!

I Googled extensively to find the best nutroast recipe in the world but none were quite what I wanted, so I combined two! My recipe is mainly this Hairy Biker’s Nut and Spinach Roast, with the addition of a garlicy, mushroom stuffing, as seen in this recipe. I just loved the idea of buttery, garlicy mushrooms nestling in the middle of the nut mixture and I thought it would help to keep it all lovely and moist. The Hairy Biker’s recipe was really good and we had most of the ingredients on hand; only really having to purchase the chopped nuts and cashews. I made a few substitutions like using parmesan cheese instead of Gruyere and eliminating the mint (because I don’t like it!) and the sundried tomatoes (too expensive!!) and I really don’t think it made any difference. I hardly ever follow recipes exactly, I think they are made to be played with!

All the ingredients in the bowl, ready to be mixed! I had to buy the bowl whilst in Sainsburys because I realised we didn’t actually have one…or a kitchen scales…so it was quite an expensive shop if I’m honest.

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It smelt really lovely with all the fresh ingredients and herbs, I was feeling very virtuous mixing it altogether! Ben chopped the mushrooms using our super duper hand-me-down food chopper which has CHANGED OUR LIVES!! We used to stand there for hours chopping mushrooms insanely small as I can’t stand them anything bigger, so this gadget is a real life saver!

chopping mushrooms

Frying them in butter, garlic and olive oil…in our defence, this was just before Christmas and therefore the gluttony was absolutely acceptable! The butter kept them really moist and juicy…yum.

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Once all the ingredients for the nutroast were mixed together, we put half the mixture in a greased loaf tin before adding the layer of mushroom filling. It was looking really promising!

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I then added the second half of the mixture and put it aside for a bit while I cooked my potatoes. My first ever roast potatoes!! How exciting. After some indecisive Googling, I selected Nigella’s roast potato recipe, figuring that if they were a complete fail there were plenty of other people’s to try! I had faith in Nigella though, she’s too pretty to get things wrong in my personal opinion.

Here are the little beauties, waiting to boil! I had no idea how many potatoes to boil to feed two people so I erred on the side of caution and did…an obscene amount.

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Here they are, post fluffing!!! That was some serious fluffing. I also added a bit of flour to help along the fluffing process and it definitely did!! As you can see I made a bit of a mess…

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We chucked the poor babes into a roasting tray filled with molten hot olive oil and the sizzling was merciless, I almost felt bad for them.
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45 minutes later…they looked like this!

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They bought a whole new meaning to the words ‘fluffy potato’ and I was immensely proud of them. And also slightly embarrassed to admit there were only 2 or 3 left once we’d had our lunch…oops.

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Everything then started to happen really quickly; the potatoes were ready but the nutroast needed a few more minutes. My yorkshires and stuffing was ready to go but the peas and broccoli was yet to be boiled. My roasted vegetables were beautiful, apart from the sprouts which were like burnt little fingernails. Nice! This resulted in a pretty stressful 5 minutes with both of us shuffling around our kitchen, opening oven doors, poking forks into things and apologising for repeated bumps. We decided to just eat the sprouts straight from the baking tray because they were actually delicious but I couldn’t bear to put them on my perfect plates.

Finally though, every item apart from the nutroast was ready, so Ben started plating up whilst I wrestled the nutty beast from it’s bed.

To be fair, I didn’t have to wrestle it; thanks to my over zealous buttering it slipped cleanly out of the loaf tin with a gentle tap! No-one was more surprised than me and we stepped back for a few seconds to take in this miraculous coming together of nut and vegetable.

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It really was a thing of beauty. I was so pleased it had not only held together but actually looked like a nutroast loaf!! We quickly realised the brown crispy bits were the best and there was a gentle jostle whilst cutting to ensure we each got our fair share.

My very first roast dinner, plated up beautifully for one very hungry boy ๐Ÿ™‚

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It got a double thumbs up from Ben and he actually leapt out of his chair, came round to my side and kissed my hand before returning! Quite the reaction!

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This was my plate; I’m a very naughty girl and have an unnatural hatred for peas so I passed on them and took extra carrots. We did have gravy obviously, but it would have ruined the photos so I waited til afterwards to drown my plate in the dark, rich liquid. Otherwise this would have been a ridiculously dry meal. The nutroast? It was fantastic. The Hairy Bikers got exactly the right mixture of herbs and ingredients so the end result was intensely flavoured, while still allowing the flavour of the nuts to shine through. You could really taste the grated carrot too which I enjoyed, it kept it quite fresh and interesting. We had the rest of the nutroast sliced for sandwiches the rest of the week, with lovely brown seeded bread and a squirt of naughty ketchup. Delicious!

Some more close-ups just so you feel you were actually on the plate with the rest of the food.

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As with all roast dinners, 2 hours of prep/cooking resulted in about 8 minutes of eating before the crumbs and drops on the plates served as the only reminder of what was once there. This was slightly depressing and left me a bit deflated but then I remembered we had the rest of the nutroast for sandwiches!!

I feel my first roast dinner was a resounding success and whilst this isn’t a recipe to be making every single Sunday as it is a bit labour-intensive, I’ll definitely be keeping this combination recipe in my repertoire for the future.

P.S As I have been so good all year, Santa bought me a brand new Canon EOS 1100d/Rebel T3 for Christmas! So brace yourselves for some photos on this blog that are actually not taken with my iPhone!! Exciting times ๐Ÿ™‚

Epicentre – Paignton

Another foodie story from our trip to the ‘English Riviera’ to celebrate our anniversary! I’m doing these all in the wrong order and I’m not entirely sure why – we actually ate at The Orange Tree on Saturday night, Epicentre at Saturday lunchtime and TJ’s on Friday night. But I’ve done them in the opposite order…

So, Epicentre is a vegetarian cafe/bookshop/art centre/music venue in the centre of Paignton. Jack of all trades! I found the cafe while searching for veggie places to eat in Paignton – whenever we travel somewhere I always try and find somewhere that does good vegetarian food so that Benji can sample some exciting new stuff ๐Ÿ™‚ Their menu was extensive and varied and they are the only veggie cafe in Torbay so it was pretty much a definite!

We rocked up to the cafe about noon on the Saturday after a morning spent shopping and exploring the pier. When we walked in I was a little apprehensive…the cafe was tiny and there was a big group of about 15 people sat in the middle talking and laughing and singing really loudly. There was one guy sat with a laptop and a coffee and all the other tables were occupied but no-one was eating. Hmmm. No one greeted us or acknowledged our presence…it was pretty awkward. In an attempt to assess the situation and decide what we wanted to do we squeezed through the crowd towards the back of the cafe, where there were a number of bookshelves groaning under the weight of hundreds of books and magazines. We held a brief, intense, whispered conversation where I essentially said I would like to leave and Ben said he wanted to stay and give it a try. He won. Our whispering must have been louder than we thought because a guy came up to us with a questioning look on his face – we assumed he was the owner. I asked him if they were serving food and he said they were and told us to find a seat…he then realised there were none and asked a teenage boy if he wouldn’t mind moving. I’m pretty sure he did mind but he moved nonetheless and we sat down at a table by the window with a nice view of the high street outside. Phew! I really hate to give anywhere a bad review and the food at Epicentre was amazing as you’ll see, I just think they need to work on their first impressions!

I grabbed a couple of menus and we poured over them, trying to decide what to order from the vast selection. We got drinks first – Ben chose freshly squeezed orange juice and I was in the mood for an exciting drink (I almost always order Diet Coke…dulllll) so chose an iced mocha. I got a whole pint of it! The lady who served us was lovely and I love that she asked if I wanted dairy, soy or almond milk. I panicked at this unexpected decision requirement and got dairy although on reflection I should have got soy as it is both delicious and lower in calories. Next time!

After much deliberation we placed our orders. The menu at Epicentre consists of burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, soups and salads as well as a ‘Mexi Cali’ section which has burritos, quesadillas and nachos! It’s really cool because with all the options you have a choice of which protein to add – tofu, soy burger, bean burger, tofu burger or veggie hotdog! They even have a vegetarian cheesesteak sandwich with wheat steak. Ay-may-zing. After we’d ordered we had about a 15 minute wait in which we could smell our cooking lunch wafting over from the out-of-sight kitchen and making us extremely hungry.

When our lunch was bought out, I was absolutely blown away! I ordered the ‘pesto burger’ with the tofu patty but souped it up with multiple toppings and add-ons because I’m greedy. I really wanted pesto to be a component of my lunch having not had it in ages but I also wanted avocado, cheese and onions which weren’t included with the pesto burger. Possibly because they don’t go? Anyway. The guy was really accommodating and said it was no problem to add on all the greedyboy extras. And curly fries, obviously, we always get curly fries if they are an option. Ben even said ‘Look! Curly fries are the same price as normal fries!’ This is a very rare occurrence and an opportunity not to be missed.

So I think the photos of my burger speak for themselves:

I have to say I was slightly intimated by the sheer height of the burger and the obvious difficulty I would have in picking it up. ย This was not a lady-like meal – by the end I was covered in ketchup, cheese and avocado and the less said about the crumbs in my hair the better. As you would expect by the appearance of the food in the photos, my burger was delicious. The tofu patty in particular was in fact a bit of a life-changer – I had never thought to use tofu in this way. I asked the guy how he made it and he said it was crumbled tofu, garlic, seasoning, liquid amino and a bunch of other stuff I can’t rememeber and wish I’d written down. I’ll definately be trying to recreate these though as it was seriously the nicest vegetarian burger I’ve ever had. The rest of the ingredients – fresh, juicy tomato slices, caramelised onions, rocket, carrot ribbons and what seemed like an entire avocado were all packed into the ciabatta bun and complimented the patty perfectly. But, the star ingredient was the pesto! I don’t know if it was home-made – it definately tasted like it and judging by the freshness and quality of the other ingredients I would guess that it was. Strong and pungent with a course texture it was spread liberally on both halves of the bun, ensuring a pesto-y taste to every mouthful. My only complaint would be that the ciabatta bun was not toasted and got a little difficult to eat towards the end. But that’s mainly because I’m a wuss and need to man up when it comes to supersized lunch portions.

Ben’s burger looked a little less impressive but that is only because he quite sensibly didn’t add 57 additional toppings to his.

He went for the ‘Western burger’ – a Fry’s patty drenched in BBQ sauce with caramelised onions. He actually wanted to get the tofu burger but forgot to specify when he ordered so he just got the regular one, bless him! He absolutely loved his though and preferred it to mine so it all worked out well. I tried a bite of it and I was really impressed with the rich, smokey sauce. Yum!

So both our burgers were delicious. But, the real highlight of the meal came from a surprising source….

A condiment!

We asked for ketchup with our curly fries, natch, and recieved this exciting bottle of organic goodness! It was the most flavourful, intensely tomato flavour we’d had since the infamous tomato flatbread at Disney’s California Grill. I had no idea ketchup could taste this incredible having been very loyal to Heinz from an early age. We’ve decided we will be tracking down this wonder product ourselves so we can dip curly fries in it to our hearts content.

Our bill at Epicentre came toย ยฃ17. Not a cheap lunch but a small price to pay for delicious, freshly cooked vegetarian food and the feeling that you are supporting an independent cafe. The group that was in there when we arrived left about 40 minutes later, leaving the place nice and quiet. We think it was a walking group or something that meets in the cafe due to it’s central location. Just something to bear in mind if you visit Epicentre on a Saturday lunchtime! Overall though we had a wonderful experience here and we will definitely be back if we are in the local area again.

Polly’s Pantry – Milford-on-Sea

Now, my review of this delightful New Forest tearooms is going to be quite obviously biased because…my parents own it! But I realised I’ve never mentioned it on the blog and it is a big part of mine and my families life so this needed to change.

Me and Ben travelled to Milford-on-Sea last Sunday to visit Polly’s for the first time, embarrassingly, in about a year. It was also the last day of the Milford-on-Sea Food Festival so we wanted to catch the Farmers Market and general shennnanigans that were taking place on the Village Green.

We arrived in a very windy Milford about 1pm and after a cursory glance at the market decided to head for the warmth of Polly’s before we tackled the stalls.

My Dad works full-time at Polly’s and is the resident chef, manager and general jack-of-all-trades. Because Sunday was expected to be a busy day what with the Food Festival and all, my Mum also came down with him to work for the day. So it was a real family affair!

It was absolutely heaving when we walked inside but we were able to squeeze onto a table for 4 at the back of the tearooms which was later switched to a table for 2 after I offered to swap with 2 ladies who were meeting friends.

My Mum and the two girls working that day were bustling around taking orders so we had a good amount of time to choose our lunch – a bonus because I was really having trouble deciding (as standard.)

Polly’s serves a full breakfast menu til 12 noon (Full English’s, sausage and bacon baps, scrambled eggs etc) and then an extensive lunch menu which includes jacket potatoes, sandwiches, baguettes, panini’s, omelettes and hot meals like ham, egg and chips. I was torn between a hot, buttery baked potato and a simple chicken mayo baguette. In the end the jacket potato won out and we actually both ordered them; mine with ham and cheese and Ben’s with the classic combo of cheese and beans. My Mum scolded me as a ham and cheese jacket potato is not TECHNICALLY on the menu but if you remember from the Morgan Christmas 2011 post, my Dad does a mean baked ham and quite frankly it would have been rude not to sample some.

I took some photos of the interior as we waited for our lunch – as I said before I am biased but I think it is so pretty! There is a collection of vintage teapots on shelves all around the tearooms which always get lots of attention and admiring looks from customers.

As a bit of a treat our lunch was brought out by the Chef himself! Very exciting, I like to think he only does this for extra-special customers.

Here is my jacket potato…I think the photos speak for themselves!

Ben’s was equally resplendent;

We were especially impressed with the generous portion sizes! I loved that we got sides of salad and coleslaw as they paired perfectly with the potato and helped make the dish more of a meal. Needless to say, we were absolutely stuffed afterwards and I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t even finish it! I picked out all the ham and ate it though. Obviously.

I seriously was gutted that we couldn’t manage dessert as Polly’s is world-renowned (ish…) for it’s cakes and sweet treats, many of which are displayed proudly in the windows causing serious pedestrian hold-up.

I would (obviously!) recommend Polly’s Pantry but I hope you can see past my honestly biased review and choose to visit based on the quality of food shown in my photos. Our lunch was delicious but I wish I had taken a photo of the cream tea – two huge homemade scones with vats of clotted cream and jam to slather all over them, plus a pot of tea, with change from a fiver – the cries of delight from customers as they receive their plate says it all!

A Tale of Two Pubs

My boyfriend lives in Bishops Waltham and there are a lot of nice pubs in and around the area that we enjoy visiting. We recently went to two in the space of a couple of weeks so I thought I should feature them on the blog in case anyone is thinking of gracing them with their presence – they are both independent pubs and its difficult to find information about them online.

First up is the Barleycorn Inn, right in the centre of Bishops Waltham village. We’ve been coming to this pub for years and the food is terrific – delicious, huge portions and very reasonably priced. They change the menu all the time so you never really know what will be on offer until you arrive!

This particular visit was a Friday lunchtime on a very rare weekday off for us – we’d been to Disneyland Paris all week and got back late the night before. After a lovely lie-in we sorted ourselves out and walked down to the Barleycorn for a well needed glass of wine (it was a very stressful return journey, we may have missed the Eurostar…) and some lunch. The pub was really quiet and although the weather was pleasant, it was still early March and we opted to sit inside the cosy, dimly lit restaurant area. We ordered drinks and then sat back to peruse the ever-changing menu with the help of the very friendly landlord who pointed out veggie options for Ben.

Ben opted for the vegetarian bean burger which he’s had before and loved, but unfortunately they were all out that day! It was no problem though and he quickly chose another meal, a cheese and pickle sandwich and chips. A boy of simple pleasures! However, there was a fair amount of other meat-free options – sandwiches, jacket potatoes etc and a couple on the specials board, had he changed his mind. I was tempted myself by the caramalised onion and brie tart but opted instead for one of my favourites, the bacon and cheese ‘Barley’ burger with crinkle cut fries.

The burgers here are all homemade and freshly cooked and you can really taste the difference! The bacon ‘Barley’ comes with a generous portion of crispy bacon, cheddar, onion rings, red onion and BBQ sauce piled on top, with a HUGE side of fries and salad. So much food! And all for the bargain price of ยฃ7.95!

Ben was very pleased with his cheddar and pickle sandwich which again was VERY generous with the cheese! It came with a large side salad and tortilla chips and he also opted for the homemade chips – big, fat seasoned wedges, perfectly cooked.

The Barleycorn has a wide selection of desserts that we are rarely man enough to sample due to the marvellously obscene portion sizes.ย The sticky toffee pudding though, is the best, a proper British stick-to-your-ribs dessert.

We would really recommend the Barleycorn if you are visiting Bishops Waltham – it’s a lovely independent pub with great food and reasonable prices and, more importantly, a huge, fabulous beer garden! Perfect for sharing a jug of Pimms in on a hot (okay, warm) British summer day.

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Our next pub is the Robin Hood in Durley. It was a gorgeous freakishly warm March day and we decided to walk even though the pub is situated on a main road. Luckily the traffic was pretty quiet as it was a Sunday and we actually had a very pleasant walk.

We arrived about 2.30 and were relived to see that they serve food all day on Sundays, as we had thought we may be too late for lunch. We peeked round into the garden to check if there was space and luckily there were a few free tables so we headed into the bar area to order drinks. Drinks weren’t overly cheap with a pound odd change from a tenner for a glass of rose and a Stowford press. We perused the two extensive specials boards which each had 10 or 12 mains and starters on, lovingly etched in colourful pastel chalk. I was quite taken with the idea of the butternut squash and sage risotto with blue cheese crouton, but it sounded rather heavy and dinner-like and I was forced to achnoledge that a. I was very unfortunately on a diet and b. this was only lunch. We grabbed our drinks and headed outside, asking a passing waitress to bring us a menu on the way.

Perched on a wooden picnic table with a welcome umbrella shading us from the sun, we decided on our lunches, placed our order and relaxed while we waited. The Robin Hood does have a really lovely beer garden with a huge grassy field area at the back and a nice wooden decking area at the front. There are plenty of chairs and tables and we noticed that lots of people were coming in just for a drink, rather than lunch, thus vacating their tables quickly.

Our food arrived within about 10 minutes which we thought was really good considering how busy they seemed. We both ordered the roasted red pepper, olive and mozzarella ciabatta.

Now I have to say, I was slightly disappointed with the contents of the ciabatta. Sparse was the word. There were lots of lovely fat olives but only one strip of roasted pepper in each sandwich and a scant amount of mozz (although it looks adequately filled in the photo, all the topping was on the edges!) There was also no sauce or dressing or anything – I felt a good strong pesto would have carried the filling a lot further. It was enjoyable though and not unreasonable for the price (ยฃ5.95) with a lovely side salad dressed with honey and mustard. We were very restrained and managed not to order a side bowl of chips although we were relieved when we saw that the ‘chips’ were in fact thin, floppy McDonalds-style fries!

Overall though, this is a lovely pub and the beer garden is the real star. Perhaps the quality of our food was down to the busyness of the pub – there was a 50th birthday party going on inside plus large groups of families all ordering lunch. I would like to go back one evening to sample the dinner options – my mind is still on that risotto!

Morgan Christmas Dinner 2011

This is just a fun little post, I wanted to show you what we had for our Christmas dinner this year ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m very strict in my Christmas traditions, it has to be the same every year. Exactly the same! I still live at home but my brother has moved out and he comes home every Christmas and we all spend the day together. We don’t have anyone else over; just the core four! ย We open all our presents in the morning and then sit down for lunch about 1pm…by which time we’ve all had a drink or 4 and feeling generally quite jolly.

This was this years beautiful table setting, expertly laid by my Mum to include party poppers, placenames, candles and crackers.

Our starter is always the same, cooked and assembled by Head Chef AKA Dad. We have beautiful smoked salmon and king prawns over lettuce, with a lovely zingy lime and chilli dressing and crispy bacon bits on top. This years dressing was a bit of an experiment as my Dad said he’d added quite a bit more chilli than usual. As we were eating, he tentatively asked for our opinions. I personally was a big fan, the chilli gave the whole dish a great kick but my Mum and brother were not quite as sure. We’ll have to see what becomes of the dressing in 2012!

After a pleasant break in which we received our first “table present” (a tradition carried on from our childhood which cheered us up immensely remembering that after all our main presents were opened we would still have these to come) the various dishes which made up the main event started appearing on the table.

Stuffing balls and sausages wrapped in bacon (a must have for any Christmas dinner!)

Perfectly roasted potatoes and parsnips.

Homemade bread and cranberry sauces!

Carrots and Brussel sprouts…not my favourite but unfortunately a vital component of Christmas lunch. I forced down a couple…well maybe only one…half.

My plate, laden with meat, awaiting the onslaught of accompaniments!

And here, in all it’s glory, is my finished plate. We actually got new plates this year which was quite exciting, lovely big white ones which eliminate the age-old problem of overcrowding. Unfortunately my eyes were slightly bigger than my belly and as much as I tried, I was only able to eat about 3/4. Still a pretty good effort I think but very difficult to come to terms with at the time. My favourites were the gorgeous roast potatoes and my Mums homemade cranberry sauce.

I was so stuffed that I couldn’t even contemplate dessert, opting instead for a couple of soothing glasses of delicious, creamy Baileys. A perfect ending to a perfect lunch and another successful Morgan Family Christmas!

Leftovers Sandwich (or create the leftovers, if necessary, I won’t tell)

One of my favourite foods in the whole world is the humble sandwich. I often take sandwiches to work for lunch but I am not a fan of ‘boring’ sandwiches – cheese, cheese and ham, pickle, egg mayo etc…I like to make my sandwiches worth my while and they tend to be really quite special. If I take a boring sandwich to work I am often so uninspired by it by the time 1pm rolls around that I naughtily buy soup or crisps to accompany it, thus negating the whole point of bringing my own healthy lunch and saving money.

So, I spruce my sandwiches up and spend the whole morning eagerly anticipating the moment the clock reads 13.00 and I can fling open the fridge and devour my lovingly prepared meal.ย In my Hello Kitty bento box too of course.ย Wrapped in foil, not clingfilm, I have a funny thing about clingfilm. It just doesn’t look as nice.

One of my all-time top sandwich fillings is one that only presents itself to me a few times a year. When I look in the fridge and realise I have all the components available, the angels are surely smiling down at me. It is of course, the Leftovers Sandwich. Yep, it needs capitals. This particular sammie is rarely found during the spring and summer months, preferring really to lay low until the winter creeps in, the 25th of December to be exact. If you’re lucky you may stumble across this sandwich in it’s wild and unorganised form following a Sunday roast which was rather overcatered for.

This particular sandwich presented itself to me one day in late November when I was, very unusually for me, off workย with a headache and cold. As I stared into the depths of the fridge, willing a lunch to form, I spotted the key components of cold turkey, brie and cranberry sauce. Almost daring not to breathe, I glanced over to the counter silently praying…yep, tiger bread. Lets do this.

First things first, we needed some carbs up in this sammie. What do you mean bread is a carb? Get out. Although we had no leftover roasties (extremely rare in my household) we did have a few new potatoes in the fridge, which to be honest looked to be on the way out so I turned the oven on and got to work slicing. Slug of olive oil, salt and pepper, they went in the oven for about 20 minutes. I sliced the bread, big old thick slices, go hard or go home. Into the toaster it goes.

Once toasted, I spread the bread with cranberry sauce and layered on a couple of slices of lovely creamy brie. Brie + cranberry sauce = The Christmas Dream. I then placed a couple of slices of turkey on the bottom slice of bread and waited very impatiently for my potatoes to be done.

After what felt like DAYS they were perfect, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I had of course cooked enough for a family of four so I saved half for a leftover-leftovers sandwich the next day, bonus! I layed the potatoes on the turkey and topped the whole thing with some lovely leaves for a bit of greenery and texture. The top slice of bread was placed carefully on top and I then pressed down on the sandwich slightly to try and encourage some kind of stickage to make for easy lifting. A swift slice down the middle and the Leftovers Sandwich was complete.

 

 

 

I very bravely ate the entire thing but felt very ill afterwards and had to lie down for an hour before I felt recovered enough to tackle the washing up. Very big lunch and I must stress this is not normally what I take for a Tuesday at work! I was off sick and Leftover Sandwiches are incredibly healing. I strongly recommend trying this sammie, really got me in the mood for Christmas!

Watercress Burgers

My boyfriend lives in Bishops Waltham (a little village about 10 minutes away from me in Hedge End) and every so often the Hampshire Farmers Market travels to BW to set up camp in the village square for a few hours on a Sunday. We always try and take a trip down to check out the market which always has a wide range of fresh and seasonal local produce. One Sunday in the summer we were quite taken with a stall that sold watercress burgers, falafal and sausages and once we’d tried a few samples we stocked up on their delicious produce! My boyfriend bought the watercress sausages and a pasty and I bought a couple of watercress and cheese scones. We toasted the scones and ate them for lunch with butter and they were amazing. Unfortunately, the sausages were only in date a couple more days after the market and we just didn’t get time to eat them so we had to throw them away! A very dark day indeed.

However, a couple of weeks ago we were buying some groceries in the Bishops Waltham Co-Op and we stumbled upon a selection of aforementioned watercress goods in the fridge! We bought a pack of four watercress burgers and more or less sprinted back home to try them.

Once we got back, I studied the packaging as Ben heated some oil in a pan. The company is called Cresson Creative and they have a lovely little website detailing the story of the company and how they started. I was excited to learn that the watercress used in all their products is grown in Alresford, a few miles away from us near Winchester! Doesn’t get much more local than that! They are Vegetarian Society approved and the ingredients form a motley crew of watercress, cheese, onions, garlic and mustard and some breadcrumbs to bind them together.

 

 

We were pretty hungry so I am ashamed to say we cooked all four at once!

While Ben pan-fried the burgers I toasted some ciabatta bread and sliced the ball of mozzarella we had bought (there really was no need for added mozzarella with burgers that are mainly cheese but we couldn’t resist!) The burgers crisped up really nicely on the outside and stayed soft and gooey on the inside – perfect! Ben had the genius idea of laying the sliced mozzarella on the burgers as they cooked, causing the milky cheese to melt slightly and adhere to the top of the burger.

Once they were cooked to our liking (an abundance of burnt crispy bits on the edges!) we piled them on our ciabatta with a splodge of Heinz ketchup and jammed the lid of the roll on top. No side accompaniments were needed, this was a very humble lunch.

The watercress burgers were delicious with a really unusual flavour that I hadn’t come across before. Obviously the addition of cheese in the mixture was an excellent idea and our greedy mozzarella topping only enhanced this. These would be an excellent replacement for the tired-looking Quorn or spicy bean burgers usually faced by vegetarians in the summer months and generally make a nice change from beef burgers. Delicious!