Thursday, 8 January 2015

Craft & Dough, Kelham Island, Sheffield

The Milestone team seem to be a bit on the roll at the moment and, in addition to taking on Fancie last summer, they've now opened Craft & Dough in Kelham Island.

Located in the old Green City Coffee cafe/bar near Kelham Island Museum, Craft & Dough specialises in two things. Beer (Craft) and Pizza (Dough). It's a great combination - when done well.

And I guess I must approve as I've been twice since it opened. See, since moving to Hillsborough, we've been drinking in Kelham Island more than ever before. It's kinda walkable from our house; via a quick stop off at New Barrack Tavern that is... But, although the beer is great down there, we've been desperate for somewhere new to eat. You know, somewhere not quite as formal as a fine dining three courser at Milestone, but somat a little more formal than a pub lunch.

Well, Craft & Dough seem to have hit a few nails on the head. With a complete refurbishment to the premises, the interior is cool and contemporary but warm and inviting. Service is friendly and knowledgeable and the pricing is spot on (£4.50 - £9 for a rather decent sized pizza). What's more they have a very reasonable loyalty card deal - buy six, get one free.

But what will continue to pull me back time and time again, has to be their craft and dough. The beer list is plenty interesting with the likes of Anchor, Flying Dog, Founders, Left Hand, Hitachino and Nøgne Ø available. And, the pizza? Oh my. Toppings include many delicious things such as ox cheek, smoked duck breast, Nduja, smoked salmon and Bombay mix (not all on the same one... obvs). But, more importantly for me, their bases are pretty fine too (I HATE deep pan).

Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of what I mean...


Sheffield Food Blog
The bar and the kitchen area to the right.

Sheffield Food Blog
Ploughman's starter was like no other ploughman's I've ever had... in a good way.

Sheffield Food Blog
Crafty Cuts - is there anything that ox cheek can't improve?

Sheffield Food Blog
Tandoori chicken - fresh and delicious.

Sheffield Food Blog
Nduja - had just the right level of heat for me!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Bolognese - Midweek Meal

Every week I sit down to the laborious task of meal planning. I open a word document, split it into two columns, plan the week's worth of lunches and dinners down one side and a shopping list down the other. 

Sure, it's geeky, but I do like a good list. What's more I like to ensure we have a varied diet whilst keeping food waste to a minimum. Having said that, it isn't half time consuming especially as I struggle to recall meals that I've cooked in the past, resulting in lots of research and/or waiting for inspiration to hit.

And on @MissStephWalker tweeting about her own troubles with meal planning, I decided it was about time that I got my act together and create some kind of document that I could refer to when planning my own meals. AND... the blog seemed to be the perfect place to start doing this. 

So I'm going to start blogging some of my midweek meals here. They'll be easy peasy and relatively cheap, so good for midweek teas - so don't expect anything too exciting! Hopefully I'll end up with a decent bank of meal ideas that I can turn to for inspiration each week. You never know, you might find it useful too.

First up I'm going with a Bolognese. This is something that most people learn to cook when they first move out of home and I've tried many different varieties over the years. My current favourite is far from authentic, but it's really easy and relatively healthy so it's great for a midweek tea. However, because I like to soften the veg quite slowly, it can take over an hour to prepare, but it's worth it given the number of portions you can get out of it!


Sheffield Food Blog - Midweek Meals

Bolognese
10 portions
Ingredients
2 onions (diced or finely sliced)
4/5 carrots (finely diced)
3/4 sticks of celery (finely diced)
One pepper (any colour, sliced)
2/3 cloves of garlic (finely sliced)
Two field mushrooms (chopped)
Around 300mls stock (chicken, veg or beef will be fine)
Around 300mls red wine (I always stick leftover red in the fridge - it seems to last longer and it's great for cooking)
A good squeeze of tomato purée
4 tins of tomatoes
Teaspoon of dried herbs (I used basil and oregano, but standard mixed herbs would be good and fresh herbs (especially thyme) would be better)
1kg of beef mince
Couple of handfuls of red lentils (rinsed thoroughly)
Oil for frying

Heat a splash of oil in a large pan over a low heat. Add the onions, garlic, pepper, carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until soft.

Assuming you don't have the real thing, make the stock up in a jug, add the wine, tomato purée and herbs. Once the veg has started to soften, add the mushrooms and cook a little longer. If you find that the pan is starting to dry at any point, I'd add some of the stock mixture rather than more oil.

Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the rest of the stock mixture and all four of the tinned tomatoes. Turn up the heat so that it all starts to bubble a little. 

I then like to cook the mince in a separate pan as I can drain the fat off when it's cooked. I also use a fork to stir it as it cooks so that it doesn't go all lumpy.

Once cooked I add the mince to the main cooking pot, sling in the lentils, bring the mixture to the boil and simmer (lid half on) for around half an hour - basically until the lentils are cooked and the consistency is to my liking.

Serve with pasta, courgette spaghetti (strips of spaghetti, steamed for 3/4 mins), or use as a stuffing for vegetables.

Variations
You could replace some of the veg with courgette and aubergine.
Experiment with the meat you use - you could use a mix of pork and beef mince for instance. Adding chicken livers or bacon won't exactly hurt either!
Add chilli and/or smoked paprika for added flavour.

So, what are your favourite midweek meals?

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Pot-roast pheasant with cider and bacon

A few weeks ago I spotted that Cod & Cockle were selling fresh pheasants and wild rabbits at a reasonable price. As I hadn't cooked any game in a while I bought a couple of each for the freezer. I didn't have any specific plans for them, so they've been sat in the deep freeze ever since. 

Finally, with Christmas on its way out, I fancied cooking one of the pheasants. So, last weekend a surplus of bacon (yes, I was surprised too) and a few bottles of rather nice Montano cider led me to defrosting one of the birds for this pot-roast pheasant recipe.

Aside from only using one bird (there were only two of us but I wanted the full amount of cabbage and sauce), skipping the sage (it's not my favourite herb and I didn't fancy forking out for a full pack) and sticking some pre-cooked slices of new potatoes in with the cabbage (I had some lurking around in the fridge), I followed the recipe to the letter.

It was relatively quick to prepare, and very easy. More importantly, it was bloody lovely! The pheasant was moist and tender, thanks to the pot roast method, and the cabbage, with its bacon and cream sauce, was delicious. Also, as I'd made the full amount of cabbage and sauce, there was plenty leftover for a wholesome lunch the next day. I just wonder whether it would have benefited from the addition of a little wholegrain mustard...

Sheffield Food Blog - Pot Roast Pheasant

Sheffield Food Blog - Pot Roast Pheasant

Got any suggestions for how I should cook the other one?

Sunday, 4 January 2015

2014

I started 2014 full of confidence and excitement. I ended it in a state of confusion and anxiety. In some ways 2014 has been a bad year - in others it's been tremendous. One thing that I am quite sure about is that I want to be happy. Sounds obvious right? Yes, but how many of us actually live our lives doing things that make us happy? I'm guessing a lot of us are stuck in the rut of doing things because we feel they're the 'right' thing to do.

Well, throughout 2015 I'm going to concentrate on being happy. My goals are quite simple. I'll be writing for fun a lot more than I have over the past couple of months. That means there will be a lot more blogging going on. I'm also determined to start reading again - I blame my English degree for ruining my love of a good book, but it's time to get back on it. And, I'm going to get a dog. I've wanted one for as long as I can remember and we were going to get one when we moved house, but I convinced myself it wouldn't be the 'right' thing to do.

See, doing the 'right' thing doesn't seem to have got me very far and I'm sick of it. Time to be happy.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Anchorage Bar and Kitchen, Sheffield

Located in the former Bar 23/Fitzwilliam and West unit in West One, Anchorage is the latest venture from the guys behind The Harley and The Wick at Both Ends. 

With a complete refurbishment of the venue, an exciting drinks menu (covering all the important angles including wine, cocktails and beer) and East Coast style food, Anchorage is one of the most interesting places to have opened up in town this year.



One lunchtime, Gav and I found ourselves at a loose end, so we decided to give Anchorage a go. Sadly, the upstairs restaurant, the area that I hadn't spent any time in since the refurb, is closed in the day, but we found the mezzanine area in the bar perfectly comfortable. 

The Express Menu had caught my eye a while back and I decided that I'd put it to the test on this visit. With two courses for £12, or three for £15, this menu, on the face of it, is incredible value. 



I started with squid. Coated in a light batter and deep-fried, the portion was larger than I expected given it was on the Express Menu. More importantly however was the fact that the rings were perfectly cooked. A chipotle mayonnaise was a good dip, although it could have had a little more heat for my liking. Overall I was impressed and would order the dish again.

Gav ate off the standard menu and chose the Chicago ribs (£5.50) which were fab. The meat fell off the bone and the bourbon BBQ sauce had a good kick to it.



In terms of mains, I couldn't pass on the flat iron steak and, once again, I was impressed. It was another decent portion, the meat was tasty, well seasoned and served rare - as requested. A side of coleslaw was good, but my fries were quite anaemic looking (although absolutely fine on tasting) and I think the plate would look better (and fuller) if things were served directly on it rather than in little tubs. Gav had the buttermilk chicken (£9) which came with fries, spicy coleslaw and devilled eggs which he thoroughly enjoyed.



Feeling a little greedy we'd also ordered extra sides of mac & cheese (£4) and Boston baked beans (£3) which were great - especially the mac & cheese which had a really good flavour - but totally unnecessary as we were beyond stuffed by the time we'd finished! In terms of drinks we had an Anchor Porter (on keg) each and I also had a glass of the rather delicious Australian Shiraz with my main.

I'm so pleased we both enjoyed our visit to Anchorage - I think it looks great and it was good to find that the place has both style and substance. I can't wait to try it on an evening - I need to explore that wine menu a little more and we've both got our sights on the Tomahawk steak...

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Filthy Gorgeous, Sheffield

The Abbeydale Road-based Filthy Gorgeous recently got in touch to see if I fancied trying one of their fruit and veg boxes. And as I had found myself in a bit of a Lidl formed rut, this offer couldn't have come at a better time.

Deliveries take place on a Tuesday and I was pretty excited to see what I'd received as I drove home from work that evening. Packages are exciting enough - food packages are REALLY exciting.



The large fruit and veg box had a good mix of day-to-day veg such as potatoes and carrots, along with a few more interesting items such as fresh shii-take mushrooms and a romanesco cauliflower.

Everything was really fresh and, although it's organic, it kept well too. Taste-wise we noticed a real difference - especially in the potatoes (of all things) and I found that I was cooking more veg based meals. This wasn't just to use the produce up, it was because I didn't want to end up serving the veg just as a side - I wanted to make the most of it all. Highlights included shii-take mushrooms cooked with fennel and greens and whole romanesco coated in a herb butter and baked in the oven. The fruit was good too - especially the grapefruit and the clementines which were juicy and sweet.

The large fruit and veg boxes retail at £19 a pop and you can choose to have them delivered as a one off or on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis - which is great for those who would like to dip in and out (like me). 

There's a variety of box types available including the mixed box, the salad box, the kitchen essentials box and the gourmet box. I'm currently thinking it could be interesting to get a box every 6-8 weeks or so, just to challenge myself to cook something new once in a while. And, with box contents being uploaded onto the Filthy Gorgeous website every Friday, I could just order a box whenever something unusual comes up. 

I'll keep you posted on how I get on!