No Bother Borek


Spinach and Feta borek


Not long ago, I decided to try my hand at home-made cheese. My first attempt worked but was not very tasty. As I can't stand waste, I looked for a recipe which would take care of my cheese creation.

That's when I came across Borek.



Home made cheese

I always thought anything to do with filo pastry was rather fiddly, as it goes, I was wrong. Now, I won't claim to have made filo from scratch, that would be a step too far, unnecessary too, as commercially bought filo is perfectly acceptable. Please note that a 'proper' borek should be made out of yufka: a large round pastry only slightly different from filo. However, this recipe is for 'No bother borek' and sourcing fresh yufka is not easy.
Borek can be made in several shapes, pies, triangles, small cylinders looking like cigars, or rolled into as a sausage which sometimes wound around itself. I used spinach, dill, chives and parsley but, any greens in season such as cavolo nero will do fine.
Spinach and Feta Borek
Ingredients 

250g spinach
25g dill, chopped
25g chives, chopped
25g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
500g cheese, feta or ricotta -any similar variation will do fine-
2 medium eggs, beaten
1tsp ground nutmeg
400g filo pastry
100g unsalted butter, melted - don't be tempted to skip on the butter-
1tsp nigella seeds optional but these little black seeds make the borek authentic

Method


  • Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7. Line a baking tray with nonstick baking paper.
  • Put the spinach and herbs in a large bowl. Add the cheese, eggs and nutmeg and season with black pepper and salt. Take your time of mixing the ingredients
  • lay 3 sheets of filo on your work station, brush with the butter one at the time and layer together. Put a handful of the feta mixture near one of the short ends of the pastry and roll up. Squeeze the ends of the roll together to seal. Twist the pastry roll into a snail shape and put on the baking tray. Repeat until you run out of mixture.
  • Brush the pastries with butter and scatter over the nigella seeds. Bake for 25-30 mins or until golden brown.
  • If you fancy more recipes along the same lines
  • Try this Greek recipe: Spanakopita
  • For those of you who are watching the calories, why not giving Olga Pie a go

Escape to Ramsgate: Eat at the Empire Room, Stay at the Royal Harbour Hotel

Following an earlier pitch, the editor's reply dropped in my inbox like the cleaver of a guillotine. It said: 'Sorry, I can't think of one reason to send anybody to Ramsgate'. There is little arguing, out of the trilogy of seaside towns at the most easterly point on the Isle of Thanet in Kent, Ramsgate is the middle child.

Sunrise on Ramsgate Royal Harbour
Sunrise on Ramsgate Royal Harbour - picture courtesy of Thanet District Council-
Margate has Turner and is definitely hip, Broadstairs is cute as a button with its own retro-identity, and then there is Ramsgate, still finding its rightful place, and Unique Selling Point.

Ramsgate royal harbour

Could that be its Royal harbour with its beautiful sunrises? the waterfront bustling with cafés, restaurants? or its sandy beach and stunning chalk cliffs?  Sadly though Van Gogh taught here, he didn't stay long enough to get much more than a blue plaque. Moreover, the competition is severe and even all these attributes don't seem to cut the mustard. 


However, in my opinion, the town has something precious which is overlooked as it doesn't appear in any brochure, something which stroke me as soon as I arrived.

Ramsgate is a good-food-town with a popular café culture and hospitality at its heart. A place where foodies, locals and foreign students can enjoy local quality food of their liking without breaking the bank. As I soon found out tucking in a plate of fresh seafood at the recently opened Little Ships, right on the harbour front and opened all day

Ramsgate seafood platter

Next was dropped the bags time at the Royal Harbour Hotel. Talk about location, location, location, the hotel has 28 rooms, 13 of which face the sea and a restaurant downstairs but I'll come to that in a minute.

Twenty years ago, James Thomas chose this building in the middle of a Georgian crescent on Nelson Crescent and made it his new venture. Its transformation was rather spectacular. Every wall, floor, corner, corridor and staircase bears the mark of the owner and his love for collecting. Everywhere you turn to, there is 'something' to look at, and everything is comfortable, well-worn, and frankly charming, in an odd way. Staying at the Royal Harbour Hotel is not very different from paying a visit to an eccentric, bohemian great-uncle.

Ramsgate royal harbour hotel

Our room was spotlessly clean, bright and cheerful with its shades of blues. The bed was comfy, mattress thick. The ensuite was compact, perfect for a short stay, the plumbing rattled only once which seems a miracle when you consider the size and age of the place. The view, of course, stole the show. Even on a grey day, the bobbing boats were enough to keep me glued to the window.

Ramsgate royal harbour hotel

The Empire Room restaurant, in the basement, is in keeping with the rest. Normally, I would have recoiled at the plushness of the large room with its warm-red walls, but by now, I had become accustomed to the décor.

Ramsgate royal harbour hotel

Until recently headed by local lad Craig Mather, the Empire Room has a new head-chef, Michelin-trained Richard Warrington, this is his first Spring Menu. Though Craig is still very much onboard.

Toasted Homemade Crumpets Home-Cured Salmon Gravadlax, Fresh Local Handpicked Crab Tartare, Honey Mustard Dressing,

Our starter, Toasted Homemade Crumpets Home-Cured Salmon Gravadlax, Fresh Local Handpicked Crab Tartare, Honey Mustard Dressing, packed a punch. This is a flavoursome dish saying, 'You are by the sea, enjoy the local ingredients'. He, known for his one-liners, said with an air of triumph 'I always knew, I like crab', but it was the first time, ever, I saw him eating such crustacean without fighting desperately with his food.

Skate Pan roasted local skate with a fresh crab bisque, brown shrimp,  local seven score asparagus, spinach & new potatoes
The mains stole my heart. Pan-Roasted Local Skate with a Fresh Crab Bisque, Brown Shrimp, Local Asparagus, Spinach and New Potatoes. The execution of this dish was just heavenly. Every ingredient was fresh, in season, and local. The bisque was a delight as it didn't overpower the 'scallopy, delicate' taste of the fish. Skate is usually rather expensive but at the Empire Room our two-course meal cost £19.

honey combAnd where else would you find an entire fresh honeycomb for breakfast? but in a good-food-town situated in the 'garden of England', breaming with local talent.

What to do in Ramsgate when it rains

Visit Vinyl Head Record Shop -Twitter picture-
Ramsgate tunnels
Ramsgate Tunnels, the UK's largest network of civilian wartime tunnels where 60,000 people sheltered in WW2 picture courtesy of Thanet District Council
cocktail
Grab a cocktail at Zest Cafe and Bistro bar (Twitter Picture) 

 the shrine of St Augustine
Take a look at the shrine of St Augustine and admire the distinctive designs of Pugin (the architect of the House of Commons)

DISCLOSURE: I enjoyed this stay as a guest of The Royal Harbour Hotel but received no further remuneration and was under no obligation to write a review. Pictures are my own unless stated otherwise. All views expressed are my own, I retained full editorial control, all pictures are copyrighted and mustn't be used without prior permission.






Roast Butternut Squash Sauce & Chilli Chorizo Pasta

Days are turning warmer, but there is still a chill in the evening air. So let's make the most of our squashes. Butternuts, Pumpkins and (my personal favourite) Turbans are all type of squashes which are available in the winter and early spring, before being replaces by their summery cousins, the Crooknecks, PattyPan and Courgettes.

For this recipe, I found my inspiration in the Co-op magazine. Not only that, but I also submitted a picture of my dish in their readers' column. Guess what, Ithe picture arrived second (story of my life). Going through the Co-op recipe introduced me to a different kind of sauce. I found out that tomato was not the only possibility. Butternut squash sauce has the sweetness and the lightness of a the traditional tomato, therefore it works really well. Tastewise, it is a little surprising at first but that is the beauty of trying out new ways.

From a blogging point of view, it was interesting to compare the photographs. A famous food-photographer once told me that a plate of food has a best profile, the same way people do. It is so very true. Another important thing to know is that most food pictures look better is 'warmified' with a filter. So I leave you with 'their' and 'mine' (no filter) and the recipe. Let me know if you make this delightful Roast Butternut Squash Sauce.

Roast Butternut Squash Sauce & Chilli Chorizo Pasta
Roast Butternut Squash Sauce & Chilli Chorizo Pasta

Roast Butternut Squash Sauce & Chilli Chorizo Pasta

            Ingredients
         
1 butternut squash (about 900g)
400g Co-op Irresistible penne
½ x 225g Co-op chorizo ring, diced
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked, or ½ tsp dried
2 tbsp chopped Co-op mixed nuts
1 tbsp Co-op mixed seeds
350ml chicken stock, made with 1 stock cube
1 tbsp cornflour
200ml Co-op semi-skimmed milk

     
        Method
     
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6
Halve the squash vertically and remove the seeds
Put on a baking tray and roast for 40-45 mins, until caramelised and tender
While the squash is roasting, cook the pasta according to the pack instructions
Drain and set aside
Gently fry the chorizo and onion in a nonstick pan for 6-8 mins, until the chorizo has released its natural fat
Stir in the chilli and thyme, then cook for another minute. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, then toast the nuts and seeds for 2-3 mins in the pan until golden
When the squash is cooked, scoop the flesh into a large saucepan
Add the stock, then blitz with a hand blender until smooth
In a small bowl, mix the cornflour into the milk until lump-free, then stir into the squash sauce, along with the chorizo and onion mixture
Simmer for 2 mins, stirring, until thickened slightly, then toss through the cooked pasta
Serve scattered with the nuts and seeds.

Want more Butternut Squash recipes click here
Chestnut & Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash

      And last but not least, because it is nice to share
Cook Blog Share

Prestige Flowers Bouquet

Sponsored Post

Prestige bouquet flowers

Prestige Flowers is a leading UK florist online. As we know, the internet doesn't do any favours to its merchants and some trades come out of the experience without smelling of roses. As always it is important is to be able to redress the balance when feedbacks are not showing a company at its best, and it seems to me that Prestige Flowers is doing just that.

Prestige bouquet flowers

The bouquet I received to review was made with high quality stems arranged by trained florists. How do I know that? My very first job was in a flower shop. Prestige Flowers bouquet was an arrangement made to please, all in shades of pinks and greens.

My Lomond arrangement looked very much like its picture on the website. The bouquets are sized not by the stem, but by the worth of the flowers. Therefore the extra £5 for a medium bouquet is reflected in the value and rarity of the flowers.

The delivery was prompt and my instructions followed. The flowers were carefully packaged with a wet pouch around the tip of the stems to keep them watered. The box was strong and there was a card with essential tips and, a voucher for next time.

Prestige bouquet flowers

Disclaimer: I was sent this bouquet for this review. As always opinions are my own.


5 Recipes Celebrating the Humble Leek

leeks

The humble leek doesn't have to play second fiddle to the main ingredient. How about making leeks the star of your meal. Looking back at 12 years of recipes, here is what I found on Pebble Soup for you.

Let's start with Leek and Mustard Cheese Tart. This recipe is adapted from my signature dish Tarte á la Moutarde

Two for the soup fans: Leek and Chickpea Soup, a hearty, warming, one-course dinner which is comforting and low calories. The other couldn't be more different, it's a sophisticated cold soup, perfect as a starter for occasions, think St David's day, Mothers' day: Rocket Vichyssoise.

A savoury crumble where Leeks and Caerphilly are cooked down together in a gooey filing Savoury Crumble : Leek and Caerphilly/ Cheshire Cheese Crumble difficult to find a recipe more Welsh than this.

Fifth recipe but not least recipe, a classic Leeks au Gratin, an easy dish for when you are in a hurry seve with a salad or a thick slice of focciccia and you have a 10 minutes dinner preparation.

How do you celebrate Leek Season?



Pear Frangipane Tart

 Pear Frangipane Tart copyright Solange Berchemin

There is something definitely something a little quaint about Frangipane (butter, eggs, ground almonds creamed together). The sweet smell of ground almonds seems to be engrained in our collective memory if that makes sense. I read somewhere that in medieval times ground almonds was an essential ingredient and cooks used to sculpt marzipan into fantastic shapes.

In France, frangipane is best used on Epiphany for La Galette des Rois. Did I have the King's galette in mind, was it the meal at Drakes, or simply the few pears languishing in the fruit bowl? whichever it was, using a few shortcuts, a Pear Frangipane Tart was quickly whipped up.

                                              Pear Frangipane Tart
Ingredients

I used a shop-bought sweet pastry and I used it chilled, It's much easier all around.

For the Frangipane
175g soft butter
175g caster sugar
175g ground almonds
3 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 pears cut, cored and sliced.

Other recipes use plain flour. I didn't.

Method
Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5

Roll out the chilled pastry and line a 28 cm flan tin. Use a deep one if possible.

Cream all the ingredients together using a mixer, starting with the butter and sugar, then the sugar and last when it's all creamy add the eggs and the almond extract.

Spoon the frangipane mixture into the pastry case, level and arrange the pear slices on the top.

Cook for 45 minutes or until the filling is golden brown.

Enjoy with cream or vanilla ice-cream.

You may fancy something a little different, but still with pears, try this Pork Burger with Pear recipe


this recipe is link to
Cook Blog Share





Plates of Seduction at Drakes of Brighton

A visit to Drakes of Brighton starts at the bar with a pre-dinner apéritif. Select from the comprehensive list of bespoke cocktails and premium spirits and enjoy. An array of past and present celebrities have been known to do the very same. Indeed, it doesn't take much imagination to picture Cate Blanchett's reflection in the glazed cabinets or Sophie Dahl enjoying the stunning view of Brighton pier from the Regency lounge.  
Drakes Brighton Bar
Drakes of Brighton lounge bar picture courtesy of the hotel
To report on the best finds for special occasions, we need to experience them ahead of time. Christmas in July is now well known to Pebble Soup readers who, therefore, won't be surprised to read about Valentine's in January. 



This is how he came to savour a fragrant drum of light golden coloured 10 years old Ardberg from the Isle of Islay, while I opted for my favourite cocktail, a Love Potion, before moving on to the restaurant:


Don't be fooled Drakes isn't your round-the-mill 'Hotel-Restaurant'. It is one of buoyant Brighton's food-scene most popular and acclaimed fine-dining places. Still, it remains affordable. The quality of its dishes has not passed unnoticed, Drakes appeared in the Good Food Guide 2018, for the 10th consecutive year. 

I don't know about you, but when it comes to dining out, I relish with anticipation everything which goes with or prolongs the experience. My favourites are the small pauses between dishes, so much the better if they are filled with a few surprises. Which is exactly what happened at the start of the evening. To set the tone, our waiter delicately slid on the immaculate white table cloth, 'une assiette de foie gras' topped with a crispy nutty shard.


From the start, our sommeliere demonstrated extensive knowledge of wines and food pairing. She relished the challenge that was our choice of dishes. Indeed how do you pair foie-gras, scallops and soup with one wine? 
Pinot Gris from New-Zealand is the answer, and from then on, I knew that our pre-Valentine outing was in safe hands.



Seared scallops, Jerusalem Artichoke purée, Pancetta Jam and Salmon roe

Seduced by the name He had ordered a 'Crème Dubarry, Harrogate Blue Cheese Mousse and Walnut Oil'. 

Now pay attention, this is the background bit: 
Jeanne Du Barry was a high-class prostitute who had a liaison with King Louis XVI. She soon became his favourite and Marie-Antoinette's arch-rival. The moral of the story is they all lost their heads a little later, during the Revolution. 

And now for the foodie bit:
There is a difference between Crème and Velouté. The distinction resides in the liaison of the ingredient(s). Cream and egg yolk are used to bind a Velouté when a Crème calls for cream only.

Andy Vitez worked at Drakes as a Sous-Chef before accepting the position of Head-Chef. This is a chef who relishes working with local produce of the highest quality. Nowhere was it more apparent than with the Beef Fillet with Chateaubriand Sauce, a melt in the mouth, tender morsel, I was told, served with a glass of Carmenere, a wine harvested at 14% of alcohol, a happy moment.
Here, I could tell you a little about Monsieur de Chateaubriand but since this is our Valentine's date, I would not like to bore you. Let's therefore, continue with dessert: a Poached Pear Tart with Yogurt Ice-Cream. I wouldn't be surprised if a re-creation appeared on Pebble Soup HQ 's table soon.

Fillet of Steak at Drakes of Brighton

The accomplished range of dishes and the fantastic pairing are not the only reasons to choose Drakes for a special meal. With 40 cover only, the restaurant never feels packed. Moreover, the staff takes time to engage with every single diner, our waiter was knowledgeable, witty and discreet.

Dining at Drakes is an exquisite experience replete with chic and charm. With all the accolades received and its reputation for hosting celebrities, Drakes could be elitist but it's not the case at all, well-worth stretching the budget a little on a special day. 

Facts file:

A 2-course meal cost £37.00, £48.00 for 3 courses plus 12.5% service charge

At the bar classic champagne cocktails cost £10.50, Drakes will whip you up a treat from £8.50 less for a glass of spirit

Drakes, 
44 Marine Parade, 
Brighton BN2 1PE
01273 696934
drakesofbrighton.com


Disclaimer: Our dinner at Drakes was complimentary for review purposes. All views are my own. Pictures are my own unless stated otherwise. Please ask permission if you would like to use any of the content.


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