Royal Inn on the Park-Sunday Roast Heaven!

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After a mean bout of illness over the past couple of weeks, my cooking and dining-out endeavours have been non-existent. Hence the substantial lack of blogging. Now on the mend, I thought what better way to aid my recuperation than by spending a cold Sunday afternoon in a cosy pub with a roast dinner.

Being vegetarian, finding a pub that provides the perfect veggie roast is not easy. That’s why time and time again, I always find myself going back to Victoria Park’s Royal Inn on the Park. Not too far from where I live in east London, this friendly family pub never fails to impress. With a menu that is pleasing for meat eaters and veggies alike, I was torn between the veggie roast and the puy lentil and porcini pie with goats cheese mash. However, as it was Sunday, it only seemed appropriate to opt for the roast. And here it is-walnut, aubergine, leek and squash nut roast with Yorkshire pudding, porcini gravy and all the trimmings!

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As my boyfriend and I were enjoying relaxing with drinks and newspapers, we were in no rush to leave so ordered a couple of desserts. Bread and butter pudding with pistachio ice-cream for me and vanilla and mascarpone cheese cake with mixed berries for him.

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If you haven’t already sampled the delicious food in this pub, I’d strongly recommend that you pay a visit and treat yourself one afternoon!

Royal Inn on the Park
Victoria Park
Hackney
London
E9 7HJ

http://www.royalinnonthepark.com/

A chilli Saturday night

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Last Saturday, I found myself having a night in by myself with a few DVDs. I decided to take the opportunity to cook a huge veggie chilli without having the boyfriend there to moan about the lack of meat!

I’ve tried a range of chilli recipes over the years, including with vegetables and Quorn mince. I’ve found this little pocket-sized cookbook to hold the best chilli recipe.

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Available on Amazon for £5.

The recipe in the book states to use aubergines. Sadly, my local shop didn’t have any in stock but I found that mushrooms worked just as well. I also added a dash of red wine to provide a further depth of flavour.

INGREDIENTS (makes 4-5 portions)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 red or yellow peppers, de-seeded and chopped finely
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
800g canned chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
200g chopped mushrooms
2 small courgettes, chopped
400g canned kidney beans, drained
A splash of red wine
1 tbsp tomato purée
A pinch of sugar
Chopped spring onion

METHOD
1) Heat oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and peppers, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes.
2) Add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli powder, cumin and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
3) Add the mushrooms, courgettes and kidney beans. Stir in the wine sugar and a drop of water if too thick.

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4) Return to the boil, then cover and continue simmering for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve over rice with a sprinkling of chopped spring onions.

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On its own, this is actually a relatively healthy and low calorie dish, particularly if using brown rice. However, I was in the mood for some Saturday night stodge so I served it with sour cream, guacamole and nachos. Delicious!

Camden’s inSpiral Lounge

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I’ve often been drawn to the quirky exterior decor of inSpiral Lounge when passing by on Camden High Street, so the other day I finally decided to venture inside. Situated right by the lock, inSpiral serves as an eco-friendly vegan cafe offering a wide range of cooked and raw healthy dishes, as well as a selection of smoothies, herbal teas and other organic products.

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The warm lighting, soothing incense smells and mellow music make this the perfect place to escape the general chaos of Camden. The window seats provide overlooking views of the Lock; a perfect place to sit and watch the world go by.

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After much deliberation, I ordered a raw sunburger which contained seeds, nuts, mixed leaves, lentils and a delicious vegan cream cheese. In addition, I had a berry bliss smoothie and enjoyed relaxing with this wholesome and healthy food.

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A delicious looking selection of vegan cakes and ice-creams were available but as always, I felt too full for any dessert!

As well a being a great place to eat and drink, inSpiral Lounge hosts a range of diverse live music events, as well as open mic nights so I imagine that this place gets very interesting during the evenings.

A lovely dining experience. I’ll definitely be visiting this place when I’m next in Camden!

inSpiral Lounge
250 Camden High Street
NW1 8QS

Une journée de la cuisine française

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A day of French cooking.

With a few days off work this week (teacher perks), I’ve mainly been watching ‘Coco Before Chanel’ and I’m currently 38 pages away from completing Hugo’s classic, ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame’..Unfortunately, I have the heart-wrenching feeling that this isn’t going to end quite like the Disney version!

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With a bit of a French theme occurring, I decided to devote a day to cooking several recipes from my new French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier.

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The beauty of this cookbook is that it’s made me think of ingredients that I’d never normally use together and it has definitely broadened my culinary horizons. It’s even led me to a spot of baking, something I don’t normally do.
I set myself the challenge of making a mammoth 6 dishes and with my extra long shopping list, I set off for the supermarket. A couple of hours (and a dented bank balance) later, I returned with all of my weird and wonderful ingredients and got to work.

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I’ve featured the page numbers by each dish, should you decide to purchase this lovely vegetarian cookbook.

Caviar d’aubergine aux olives noires (aubergine and black olive caviar, p60)

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Used as an appetiser and served on crackers, this similarly resembled an olive tapenade. Having never sampled real caviar, I’ve little to compare this to but the distinctive flavours and smooth texture made this surprisingly more-ish!

Champignons farcis aux prunes (mushrooms stuffed with plums, p128)

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Stuffed mushrooms make a classic starter to any meal which is why I chose to make these. After my initial apprehension at using fruit in a savoury dish, I was impressed with how well the plums complimented the mushrooms.

Cake au potiron et semoule de mais (savoury pumpkin and cornmeal quick bread, p179)

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With Halloween looming, it only seemed appropriate to make a pumpkin-based dish! This was my first attempt at making any form of bread and I was rather self-satisfied. I served this with the main dish but it also tasted delicious slightly warm with some soft Brie on top.

Pates rose vif (shocking pink pasta, p115)

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The quirkiest of all dishes, this linguine dish was made bright pink by the beetroot, garlic, cream and cumin sauce. Weird but wonderful!

Gratin de choufleur au curcuma et noisettes (cauliflower gratin with tumeric and hazelnuts, p171)

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A rich and creamy side-dish.

Poire et le gâteau aux amandes (pear and almond cake, p143)

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A pear and chestnut cake recipe in the cookbook, I made some amendments as chestnut flour is so hard to find. I used buckwheat flour instead, mixing crushed almonds into the batter, as well as placing some flaked almonds on top. Lovely with a dollop of clotted cream!

Now to say this was a French feast would be an understatement; my boyfriend and I will be feasting off the remnants for days to come! Although this was a little pricey and required A LOT of hard work, I thoroughly enjoyed my French-themed cooking day. My ‘French Market Cookbook’ turned out to be a brilliant birthday gift. Merci beaucoup!