Monday, 28 November 2016

BYRON, WESTFIELD WHITE CITY

I have always been quite scathing about Byron and would never choose to go there. However several of my friends rave about it and I recently saw they were doing "Freakshakes" i.e. enormous milkshakes and so I decided it was time to give Byron another go.....not that I needed much persuading, I do love American food.

Byron opened in 2007 after it's founder Tom decided that it was impossible to find the American style burgers he so adored in London. His mission was simple - good quality burgers made with top ingredients. I am also a HUGE fan of American burgers - my favourites are Shake Shack closely followed by Five Guys - so in my opinion, Byron has a lot to live up to.

The menu is right up my street starters such as chicken nuggets and wings - then different types of burgers - a cheese, bacon cheese, a chilli one, a barbecue one and more including a monthly special. This month it is the "Cheesmas No.1" There are also chicken burgers, salads, a variety of sides such as mac and cheese and onion rings and fries. Plus there is a children's menu with a mini main, side and drink all for £6.50.

Despite nearly devouring a tin of quality street the night before, we were all hungry. We started with nachos which we all love and I can safely say they didn't disappoint. The chips were crispy and they were smothered in cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Just like the mission statement, all ingredients tasted very fresh and even though it was a generous portion, we were fighting for the last tortilla chip!



Arabella had the mac and cheese - she enjoyed it and I did "try it" a couple of times - I don't think it is as good as homemade mac and cheese and found it slightly bland however I was the only one complaining. Arabella polished the whole lot off.



Her favourite dish however was the cheesy chips - thin crispy fries covered in a cheese sauce - Pascal turned his nose up but Arabella and I loved them. They were even better than shake shack fries and Arabella announced that she would happily have them as her main!



Pascal had a cheeseburger served medium rare with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. He was so happy he could have it cooked nearly way he liked (he likes it as rare as possible) and really rated it. I found it a little "meaty" and it is not my best but I think that is just me. 



Pascal also had an iceberg wedge with blue cheese dressing, crispy bacon, croutons and chives. This was excellent and I was jealous I hadn't ordered one myself as it would have gone brilliantly with my main.



I ordered the chicken burger with no bun, buffalo sauce and extra blue cheese. I enjoyed this but next time I would have the fried chicken breast - probably double the calories but we can't always be good. I liked the kick of the buffalo sauce and I liked the salad it came with but I would have preferred Pascal's iceberg wedge as I mentioned. At least I won't get it wrong next time.



Finally the main reason for our visit - the freakshake - this is a extra thick milkshake with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, brownie, chocolate and caramel sauces and crushed honeycomb. There are two flavours - Oreo cookie or Reese's peanut butter cup. We went for Reese's......





I notice now that ours was missing the caramel sauce and honeycomb - we didn't notice at the time. It was good - right up my street - I would have preferred more Reese's in it but that is because I am a complete piglet, it was certainly satisfactory and it hit the spot.

So I reckon I am now a Byron convert and I can understand why there are nearly 70 restaurants in the UK and 40 in London alone. I will say that they are not my favourite burgers but there is plenty on the menu that I liked and more items that I am keen to try plus whilst you aren't eating particularly healthy food, at least all the ingredients taste extremely fresh. Service was friendly and efficient and it is very child friendly. I am already looking forward to my next visit.....thankfully there is one down the road!

Byron

The Loft,
Westfield Shopping Centre,
London
W12 7GF
Tel: 020 8743 7755

Square Meal

Saturday, 19 November 2016

CRISPY PANCETTA, CHIVE & SOURED CREAM JACKETS

I am not the biggest potato fan, I literally only really like them if they are covered in cheese however as Pascal and Arabella are fans, I thought I should try a potato recipe for a change. I made this last Sunday but I have had even less time for my blog recently as I moved house last week; however I am pleased to report I now have a much bigger kitchen which has inspired my cooking. We christened our new house with my best recipe ever - Mac and Cheese and then made these potatoes (a new favourite) the next day. These took a while to cook, around an hour and twenty minutes, but they were very easy.

Ingredients for 2 people:

2 baked potatoes (around 300g each)
4 tbsps of soured cream
75g cheddar cheese, grated
3 tbsp of chives, chopped
100g pancetta

To serve:
We cooked them with roast pork belly



Preheat the oven to 200C / fan 180C / gas mark 6.

Bake the potatoes for at least an hour until they are tender and then remove them from the oven.



In a bowl mix together the 4 tbsps of soured cream, the 75g of cheddar and most of the chives.



Scoop the middles out of the potatoes and into the bowl, leaving a shell inside the skins to hold them firm. Mash together the potato with the soured cream, cheese and chives and season.



Spoon the mixture back into the potato skins and re-bake for 10 minutes.




Meanwhile fry the pancetta in a dry non stick pan until crispy.




Finally sprinkle over the baked potatoes with the rest of the chives and a little more soured cream. We served ours with roast pork belly.






These were really good - very flavoursome and so easy. I would say these are great for both winter and summer - I loved them with the roast pork but they would work equally well with a barbecue or just a green salad. If all potatoes tasted like this, I would have them more often! Nutrition Facts Widget Image

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

CHICKEN PARMIGIANA WITH TOMATO SPAGHETTI

Life is starting to get back to normal now my baby is 3 months old although it is certainly not like I remembered....to start with I just have so little time. Leaving the house takes forever and I just seem to take ages to get anything done. I do miss the freedom I used to have but then I wouldn't change a thing as I am obsessed with Olympia - she is so cute and smiley and her little giggle melts my heart. 

Anyway I finally got round to cooking a new recipe today and it was a winner. It was a Waitrose recipe and took about 20 minutes - not surprisingly I added extra cheese!

Ingredients for 4 people:

300g wholewheat spaghetti
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
25g fresh basil, shredded
2 chicken breast fillets
1 egg, beaten
50g breadcrumbs (panko or golden)
200g mozzarella, sliced

To serve:
Parmesan, grated



I like to start by preparing all the ingredients - cutting the tomatoes, onion and basil, slicing the chicken and mozzarella, beating the egg and boiling the water for the spaghetti.

This recipe is quick but there is a lot to do at the same time.

Cook the pasta in a pan of salted boiling water according for the packet's instructions. Mine took 10 minutes.



Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and add the onion for 3 minutes and then mix in the tomatoes, paprika, basil and a dash of water (about 50ml) and season. Cook for around 7 minutes and then just before the pasta is ready, pop the tomato mixture in a blender and puree.









Cut the chicken in half horizontally and dip first in the egg and then the breadcrumbs and coat as evenly as possible. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken for around 8 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked through with no pink meat. Just before it is ready, preheat the grill to high.








When the chicken is ready, top with a couple of slices of mozzarella and pop under the grill for around 2 minutes until the cheese is melted.




Finally once the pasta is ready, mix with the tomato sauce, a sprinkling of Parmesan and then serve with the chicken.




This is something I would order in a restaurant and it did not disappoint. Both Pascal and I adored this and in fact Pascal's only complaint was it was too small - he definitely wanted an entire chicken breast to himself. I also had made the mistake of freezing the basil as I had originally planned to cook this last week - I wouldn't recommend it as it was so soggy - fresh basil would definitely be better! 
This only took around 20 minutes to make and I will definitely make this again - I am sure Arabella will also be a big fan.
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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

CACIO E PEPE

When we go to our favourite restaurant Gola, Arabella and I always order their Cacio e Pepe dish. Since Olympia was born we haven't been able to go out for dinner as regularly as we used to so last Friday night I decided to try and cook this pasta. The recipe comes from Olive magazine and it looked pretty quick and easy, you also end up with a side of garlic oil for salads or pastas.

Ingredients for 2 people:

200ml sunflower oil (I used olive as that is what we had in the cupboard)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
80g butter
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp of oregano (I used dried but you could use fresh and chopped)
50g Parmesan, finely grated
250g spaghetti


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta and cook according to the packet's instructions. Ours took ten minutes.


Meanwhile pour the oil into a frying pan and add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic changes to a golden colour. As soon as this happens, strain it through a metal sieve into a heatproof bowl. I didn't read the metal part and managed to kill our sieve!!





Anyway shake off any excess oil from the garlic and then spread it on kitchen roll to cool down and set the oil to one side.


At the same time, in a frying pan add the butter, black pepper, oregano and a splash of cooking water and cook on a low to medium heat until all melted.


When the pasta is ready, drain and then put it back in the pan with the butter mixture. Add the Parmesan, but don't stir it. You want it to sit and melt from the heat of the pan otherwise it can turn into cheesy balls (although that sounds good to me too)! I didn't have the patience to wait for it all to be melted but I did 75% of it.




Add the golden garlic and season to taste - we added a little salt. Mix all together.



Finally serve immediately with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan.


I am afraid to say that for me this wasn't as good as Gola's cacio e pepe but I think that is because their sauce is a lot creamier. Pascal, on the other hand, preferred it as he doesn't particularly like cream. The whole recipe was very quick and easy and I love that it barely used any ingredients. I think you could also add a few chillis if you wanted to spice it up a bit. I like that we now have some leftover garlic oil too - I remember when I was a child, I used to visit a restaurant in Lanzarote that did a salad with just lettuce, lardons and garlic oil - so I am going to be trying that this week!