Six things I've learnt since trying to grow my own vegetables

One thing I have fallen completely and utterly over in heels in love with is growing my own vegetables and fruit. It's something I've been meaning to do for a couple of years as I've become more passionate about food. But there was always an excuse on why I never took the plunge. Having to fill my time after being furloughed finally gave me the kick up the bum to do it. Now I don't think I will ever not grow food in my garden. I'm already planning what I'm going to grow next year! I have been completely making it up along as I go but here are six valuable things I have learn along the way.

1. Keep an eye on cats
Connor kindly built me a gorgeous raised vegetable bed using railway sleepers. But I noticed as soon as we put the soil on top we had a sudden influx of cats deciding to take an interest in our garden. We had never had a problem with cats going to the toilet in our garden before! All of a sudden I had a lot of number twos on my veg patch. It was so frustrating and completely destroyed my vision of living the good life! We ended up buying one of those cat alarms which send off a high-pitched noise to help scare them away. I also put down some lemons and oranges cut in half as cats don't tend to like citrus. Keep in mind cats are creatures of habit so it will take about seven days before anything starts to work.

2. Be patient
I am not a very patient person by nature but you have to be when you're growing veg. You won't get edible food overnight! I specifically grew vegetables I knew didn't take too long like radishes and lettuce. This kept me interested as I could see the end result quicker. It kept me keen to try other vegetables.

3. Google is your best friend
Growing vegetables is a minefield! Soil, sunlight, pollination are just a few things you need to think about. Treat Google like your best friend. I can guarantee there will be an answer to every single one of your questions. It really isn't as simple as planting a seed and hoping for the best. But that's part of the fun!

4. Don't be afraid to experiment
I really didn't have a clue on where to start so I bought a few seeds  of my favourite vegetables from the garden centre. I planted them in pots to begin with and waited to see if they decided to grow. I had some which took off and others which didn't even get started. Some didn't work because I didn't water them enough, some got completely destroyed by birds and some didn't have the correct soil. You won't have successes 100% of the time. But that just means the successes you do have will be even sweeter!

5. Grow in pots before planting
I found it was easier to start off vegetables in little pots on my windowsill. It stops the seedlings from being eaten by critters and it allows you to keep a close look on how they are faring. I usually transplant them around three times in different sized pots before taking the plunge and planted them outside. Make sure you acclimatise them before you fully plant them outside. I tend to leave them outside for a few hours in the sunshine for a couple of days before leaving them overnight.

6. Make sure you have lots of flowers in your garden
You will need to rely on bees to help pollinate your vegetable so it grows successfully. Bees won't come to your garden unless you have lots of lovely flowers. Something I found out the hard way! I invested in a gorgeous lavender bush and a few wild flower bombs to help entice them.


Three food deliveries to try from London restaurants

Working in London means you're completely spoilt for choice when it comes to top class restaurants. It wasn't until we went into lockdown that I realised just how much I enjoyed the capital's food scene. So I was very excited to discover that some of my favourite restaurants had started to deliver their iconic dishes.  Sadly not all of them deliver outside the M25, I curse living in Essex sometimes! Here are three we've tried over the past couple of months.

Pizza Pilgrims
Pizza is life. I love pizza and would eat it as my last meal if I ever had to choose. I am a massive fan of Pizza Pilgrims. In fact I think it's my favourite pizza chain in London. We ordered their DIY kit, priced at £20 including delivery, which consisted of two ball of dough, mozzarella, olive oil, basil, tomato sauce, parmesan and 00 flour. Online you'll find a PDF of instructions. If you want a pizza different to a margarita then you'll have to buy the toppings separately.  I absolutely loved it and it was so lovely to enjoy restaurant-quality pizza in our home. It couldn't be simpler to recreate at home as all you need is a hot frying pan. You really can't beat the simplicity of a margarita pizza. The basil came a bit floppy but that was to be expected as it arrived through the post. I wasn't too bothered.

Patty & Bun
This is so delicious that we're already on our second batch! Patty & Bun is our favourite burger restaurant in London. In we have spent many a night dashing into the Liverpool Street branch after a few drinks before catching the train back to Essex. I honestly cannot rave about their DIY kit enough. It's superb! It seems pretty pricey at first but it is 100% worth it. For £32, including delivery, you get two beef patties, smokey mayo, four brioche buns, four slices of red Leicester cheese, a tub of pickled onions and a tub of caramelised onions. You have enough ingredients to make two Smokey Robinsons and two Ari Golds (my favourite!). The quality of the beef you get is fantastic and they're pretty generous with all of the portions. No scrimping here!

A bacon naan doesn't really sound like much on paper but in reality it's one of the best things you can eat for breakfast. There is just something about the cream cheese paired with the delicious chilli tomato jam. Dishoom does the best selection of breakfast in London and it's always my first choice when someone asks me for a suggestion of brunch. For £23, including postage, you get three balls of dough (one for an experiment), a tub of child tomato jam, cream cheese, coriander and all the ingredients to make a cup of chai. It might sound a bit overpriced but it was such a lovely treat on a Sunday and I would definitely recommend it. We loved it!

What I've been cooking #14: Tin Can Magic by Jessica Ellis Dennison

Since we went into lockdown, back in April, I have been trying to keep a well stocked store cupboard. Those first few weeks when I struggled to buy anything in the supermarkets will forever be ingrained into my brain. It was awful and made me feel glad I often used to buy random tins so that we could have a nourishing meal. Now I have made sure I keep a larder stocked with things that are actually useful. Hannah had been raving about Tin Can Magic for a while and as we went into lockdown I took the plunge and ordered it. Jessica is the founder of 27 Elliotts in Edinburgh championing seasonal ingredients. Her book is full of recipes detailing how to jazz up store cupboard tins including tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils, anchovies and sweetcorn. I love that each recipe comes with a list of substitutions so you can mostly always make the recipes based on what you have indoors. Everything is so simple to make and has tasted delicious so far. I can't quite believe what she is able to make to a humble tin of tomatoes!

Spiced lamb and tomato flatbreads
I think this is my favourite recipe so far. I subbed the mince lamb for some beef as that's what we had in the freezer. I also defrosted some homemade naan from the freezer for the flatbread. This was so simple to put together and the flavours were utterly delicious. The slight heat from the mince paired perfectly with the cooling mint yogurt. I left the yogurt slightly chunky to help add some texture. It hardly took any time at all so would be great for a midweek dinner.

Indian-style creamed corn with naan, coriander and toasted spices
After eating this I think there is such a thing as too much sweetcorn. A can of sweetcorn each seems like a mountain, It was nice but it didn't blow me away. I think it was a little bit too sweet for my tastes. I did really enjoy the Indian-style flavours though.

Chilled chilli tomato noodles with crispy garlic and sesame
Anything that uses miso and I am there holding my bowl out for it to be filled up. This was so good. All of the flavours went together perfectly. I wish I'd used thicker noodles to help soak up the sauce better. This is such a quick dish and takes less than 20 minutes before you're sitting down and scoffing every last scrap. The toppings really do make it so make sure you do them all.

Carrot and thyme sausage braised lentils
Ah this was the best! The leftover dijon aioli is great in a sausage sandwich the following day. We bought some caramelised red onion sausages from our local butcher and they were superb in the dish. I've recently become a massive fan of tinned lentils as they only need to be warmed through. Great if you're a bit time poor and starving hungry!

Tomato and chilli lentil Dahl with quick tomato and lime pickle
I loved the pickle and wished I had doubled the recipe. It was delicious! Once again such simple tins (coconut milk, tomatoes and lentils) made such a flavoursome meal. I'll definitely make this one again as it was so simple. It says it feeds two but we got four portions out of it so it will be good for prepping lunches for the week. It reheats wonderfully!

Tomato and red wine braised aubergine
This was another great dish! I loved the richness the red wine added to the aubergine. I served it with some homemade sourdough which was perfect for mopping it up. Make sure you proper char your aubergines to get them extra smokey as this really does make a difference to the dish.

Roasted pepper, tomato and lentil soup
There was way too much smoked paprika in this for my personal tastes. I think I would reduce to use a tablespoon because my poor taste buds can't handle it! I used a jar of mixed yellow and red roasted peppers to help make the process a bit quicker. The portions are pretty big and I think you'll get at least five bowls out of this, making it great for meal-prepping!

Five different recipes to try with your sourdough discard

As I mentioned in my sourdough tips post, you will be left with lots of sourdough discard when you start regularly baking. I'm pretty obsessed with getting the perfect sourdough loaf so I seem to have rather a lot of discard on my hands. This isn't a bad thing but it means I am constantly trying to think of ways to use it up. Here are some of my favourite recipes and ones I am using time and time again.

The Boy Who Bakes sourdough chocolate chip cookies
I'm going to be bold and say these are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever tasted. Honestly I really can't rave about them enough. The sea salt and dark chocolate really is a perfect combination. They had the ideal chewy texture and I wish I had made the full batch. I won't be making that same mistake again next time I attempt them!

The Boy Who Bakes banana and chocolate sourdough muffins
I am obsessed with Ed's baking blog. I'm on a roll trying out all his recipes and they are so successful. He really knows his stuff! Not only do I seem to have an endless supply of sourdough discard I also have endless bananas! I'm not really a fan of bananas unless they're in cake so I wait until the ones from our vegetable box are overripe. I have recently become a massive fan of chopping chocolate into chunks rather than relying on chocolate chips. They help to create gorgeous puddles of melted chocolate. These were absolutely delicious and had that tasty sourdough tang.

Izy Hossack's sourdough brownies
Brownies are my arch nemesis  They're the one bake which I really can't seem to perfect, no matter how many times I make them.  These are the best ones I have attempted. The outer ones were still a bit too cakey for my liking but the middle ones had the gooey-ness I have always dreamed off. These were extremely rich and a batch goes a very long way. I'd love to try them next time with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

The Spruce Eats sourdough pancakes
I'm not usually a fan of American-style pancakes. I much prefer the thin crepe version. Usually with lots of sugar and lemon please! But I really do like these! I add blueberries to mine as they're cooking, just sprinkling a few on top. I've made these a couple of times now and they always come out really fluffy!

Bon Appétit sourdough crackers
These are one of the most addictive things I've made. Who knew crackers could be so easy?! Not me! I've tried flaked sea salt, Za'atar, sumac and garlic granules so far as toppings. Garlic ones were a bit meh but the rest were winners! My favourite are the Za'atar ones. They're great to just keep in a container in the kitchen for when hunger strikes. But keep in mind they don't last very long... My boyfriend had the salted ones with some leftover chili and said they tasted just like nachos! 

What I've been cooking #13: East by Meera Sodha

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Meera Sodha. I have all her cookbooks and religiously read her vegan column in the Guardian each week. I'm not sure why it took me so long to order her newest offering East but I finally did a week before the UK went into lockdown. What a great purchase it turned out to be! I'm lucky that I have a well-stocked larder so have most of the cupboard essentials listed in the book. I just need to order in fresh food. Thank the lord for veg box deliveries eh? The cookbook is all vegetarian or vegan with lots of recipes coming from her Guardian column. They aren't the most authentic recipes but rather a riff on recipes from all over East Asia. Meera just has a knack for writing recipes for the home cook. They always work so unbelievably well and she really does know what flavours go together. I know this is a cookbook I'm going to pull out time and time again. The pages are already well loved!

Honey, soy and ginger braised tofu
Up until we went to Malaysia last February I always avoided Tofu like the plague. I was convinced it wasn't for me. Then I had it fried and suddenly everything changed. Smother it in cornflour, fry it in batches and you'll be greeted with something incredibly addictive. I added the extra step of coating it in cornflour in this recipe and it made all the difference. The sauce was sweet and spicy thanks to addition of gochujang, fast becoming one of my favourite things to add to a dish. I served it with roasted purple sprouting broccoli and some brown rice. As soon as I took my first bite, I vowed to make it again.

Paneer, tomato and kale saag
Admittedly I kept things fairly traditional and used spinach instead of kale. I had loads in the freezer and didn't want to make an unnecessary trip to the shops to buy kale. I love cooking curry, eating curry and the smell of curry. It just feels so homely to me and proper comfort food. I'd have it everyday for dinner. I've only recently been cooking with paneer at home but I'm addicted to the cheese. I served this with some pilau rice and it was delicious. I halved the recipe for two people but kept the same qualities for four with the sauce. I like my curries to be very saucy! I'd love to try it with kale to see how it differs.

Sun House chilli eggs
Wow this had a kick to them! I love any type of baked eggs and as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it out. I loved the fact it wasn't as saucy as other baked egg dishes and the addition of cheddar cheese was a game changer.

Mushroom bao
I made bao. I can't quite believe it! Five years ago I didn't even know how to boil pasta, I started baking then moved into teaching myself to cook a few years later. It still blows my mind when I manage to create something edible and delicious! These turned out to be quite fat and in hindsight I should have rolled them a bit thinner and made the recommended 10 rather than eight. But I am so happy with out they turned out and it was fab to use the bamboo steamer I treated myself to in lockdown. I couldn't believe how simple these bao were to make. Meera's instructions were flawless!

Black-eyed bean and chickpea usal
I added extra broth to this so that I had more to dip my bread into. This didn't wow me at all and I think it's the recipe I enjoyed the least. It just didn't spark any joy and I didn't immediately think I wanted to make it again after I had finished. To me, that is always a good sign of any recipe.  It's great to use up those tins at the back of your cupboard and it does make a quick, simple lunch.

Sodha family masala omelette
I made this for lunch to eat alongside a simple mixed, green salad. As always I do the full recipe and we eat it over two days.  I subbed in Kasmiri chili powder for the green finger chilli and dried coriander leaf for fresh as that is what I had in the house. We've got to work with what we've got! I preferred the Sun House chilli eggs and would suggest you make that one instead.

Kimchi fried rice
Kimchi is one of those ingredients that I always pick up if I see it in our local Asian supermarket. It's such a great store cupboard essential and you can make so many different types of dishes with it. I love the tang of the fermented cabbage. Fried rice is pure comfort food isn't it? This version lives up the expectations I gave it. I loved it! I imagine it'll be even better as leftovers the next day. Definitely do not skip the fried egg on top!

Five cookbooks helping me get through the pandemic

My secret cookbook obsession is not a secret. It's hard to put into words just how much I love them. I love how the transport me to a faraway place and I am obsessed with the stories which come with each recipe. Food is so personal and so deeply ingrained into all cultures. I read them like novels and my favourite thing to do on a weekend afternoon is to read one cover to cover, making notes and googling the history behind each dish. However, I fear one day the house may collapse under the strain. They are in my kitchen, on my coffee table, under my bed, in my loft and hiding in the spare bedroom. One day I will get my dream kitchen with a library attached to house all my 300+ cookbooks. One day.

I have been a demon in the kitchen since we went into lockdown in the U.K. Cooking and baking is the only thing which seems to be keeping me sane right now. According to social media, it seems to be the same for a lot of you out there. Despite owning far too many cooking than a normal person should, I seem to be going back time and time again to the same ones. The cookbooks where I can pick any recipe at random and know it will always be a corker. The books with unidentified splashes on them, turned over pages and ineligible notes scribbled over the copy. They are the books which bring me comfort. Here are my top five cookbooks I wouldn't be without during a pandemic. What are your favourite cookbooks?

1. Ottolenghi's Simple
I simply adore this book and have done since I first got my grubby paws on it. I should really make that lemon and blueberry loaf cake again. There are a surprisingly good amount of recipes which can be made with store cupboard essentials and I have been taking full advantage of them. I've been really enjoying making the vegetable side dishes to enjoy with a BBQ in this warm weather.  Apart from the avocado butter, which was not worth the faff, everything I have cooked has come out perfect. Ottolenghi just has such a special way with flavours and he can do no wrong in my eyes. He is probably the food writer who I refer to the most in my cooking. We are an Ottolenghi household haha!

2. Meera Sodha's East
Admittedly I am cooking lots from this book because I am going to be reviewing it soon for my blog. But even if I wasn't, I would still be religiously flicking through the pages to hunt for something to cook. I didn't think anything would come close to my Fresh India book but Meera seems to have done it again with her latest offering. I love the fact she takes inspiration from all over Asia, putting her own spin on them. I am still raving about her mushroom bao. I can't believe I made bao! I just adore how she always puts fresh produce at the forefront of all her recipes. I feel we need all the veg in a time like this!

3. Rachel Allen's Home Baking
I love to bake and have never had as much time on my hands as I have now. So I seem to be baking non-stop! This is my favourite baking book. There is such a great range of bakes, from easy peasy to quite the challenge.  I love the combination of flavours she chooses. Her date and banana bread is a great riff on a classic. Over the next couple of weeks I want to try my hand at tackling the biscuits chapter. I don't really make many biscuits or cookies so would like to expand my repertoire.

4. Dishoom cookbook
Oh how I miss the London restaurant scene! Alas I shall have to just recreate it in my own house. This is such a beautiful cookbook, if not one of the most beautiful I own. It almost reads like a novel and the stories inside it are perhaps better than the recipes. It's given me such a yearning to visit Mumbai and see it for myself. The recipes are far from simple. But if you're looking to lose yourself for a few hours in your kitchen then this is the book for you. Some of the ingredients are obscure, unless you love to cook so you may have them, but they can easily be ordered online.

5. Meera Sodha's Fresh India
Two Meera books in one list! Can you tell I have a favourite? If you love India food then your collection really isn't complete without this in your collection. The ingredients are always so easy to find, recipes are easy to follow and there is a emphasis on vegetables. All three things which are essential in lockdown cooking. I haven't actually attempted anything from her pudding chapter so need to make that my mission over the next few weeks!


Five different types of bread to bake during the lockdown which aren't sourdough

There is something about this pandemic that is making people take up creating sourdough. I can completely understand why. Sourdough is quite time consuming and really is a labour of love. When better to give it a shot that when you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands. But if like me you're a little intimidated by sourdough, I killed my first starter and have yet to try it again, then here are five different types of bread to try. They are also a labour of love but a little less intimidating than the king of breads. I'll make at least one type of sourdough before the lockdown is up...

1. Challah
All I vaguely knew about Challah was that it was a Jewish plaited bread. I had never tried it before and judging by various recipes I gathered it was a sweet bread. I found an Ottolenghi recipe online in his Guardian column and thought I would give it a try, The recipe was so simple to follow and most of the time it was just left to prove, leaving you free to do other things around the house. It is tricky at first to try and get the braiding correct but once you have got your head around it you'll be fine. I adored the way it looked. It is so shiny! It's definitely one I will make again and I can't believe I haven't tried it before. We enjoyed it with just a lick of butter but people have suggested enjoying it with jam or cream cheese. It makes a great breakfast bread!

2. Pitta bread
I love a good pitta. they're just so versatile. You can use the in dips, stuff them with your favourite sandwich ingredients or use them as a quick pizza base. Mine didn't quite get the puff I was hoping for but they were absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe from Honey & Co's highlights on their Instagram feed. It can sometimes be a bit tricky following along with a highlight reel because it moves so fast. I make sure I weigh out the ingredients beforehand to ensure I don't get left behind. This recipe was so simple and there was something so satisfying taking off the frying pan lid to see bubbles had in fact been created!

3. White loaf of bread
My New Year's resolution was to not buy a loaf of bread this year and instead make them. So I was really keen to have a solid white loaf recipes in my arsenal. I love scrolling through Instagrammer Sophie from The Scandi Cook's feed. She does a cracking sourdough but also has a great white loaf. The instructions are so simple to follow and it makes a foolproof loaf. I've made it a few times now and each time has been just as delicious as the last.

4. Scalded rye loaf
I love Claire's Instagram and I own her book New Kitchen Basics - although I have yet to cook from it which I must rectify immediately1 She puts cracking recipes on her grid which always sound so simple yet incredibly delicious. I knew I had a bag of rye flour hiding away in the cupboard which I had bought from the Aldi 'Special Buy' aisle on a whim. I absolutely loved this bread and am already planning on making it again. It tastes a bit like wholemeal bread, quite nutty in places and has the best crunchy crust. It's chewy and so flavoursome. It works great as toast once it has lost its freshness.

5. Bagels
Bagels are a labour of love which makes them a great weekend project. Or a weekday isolation project! I used Edd Kimber's New York Style bagel recipe from his blog as I am obsessed with his Instagram at the moment. I didn't realise they had a 12 hour prove time otherwise I would have done them just before bed and let them prove in the fridge overnight. Serves me right for skimming the recipe! I substituted the malt syrup for honey. I wasn't sure when I would use malt syrup again so I didn't want to buy any especially. I much preferred the poppy seed bagels as I felt they gave them so much more flavour.

Tried and tested online recipes using store cupboard essentials

One thing I have learnt during this pandemic is that I was a secret stockpiler before it was cool. I've been quite pleasantly surprised and a little shocked at how much I have squirrelled away in my cupboards. My store cupboard may look a little different to yours as I have a habit of always picking up random ingredients. But hopefully you might have some of the same ingredients and will be able to give these a go. One thing I have been enjoying recently is being a bit more creative in the kitchen as I usually only get the chance over the weekends. Here is a round up of some recipes I have sampled and ones I'm definitely adding to my regular rotation. I have made a note of things you can sub or what I have used instead.

Mushroom and lentil pearl barley risotto from Jack Monroe
If you're looking to cook on a budget or you have lots of random tins to be used up then you need to head to Jack's blog pronto. I love how inventive the recipes are and really think outside the box. I have no idea where the bag of pearl barley came from but I'm not complaining! Tinned lentils are a great lifesaver. They're already soaked and cooked so are really easy to chuck into vegetarian dishes. Add them to salads, use the instead of mince in a lasagne or pop them in a rice dish to bulk it out a bit. I used frozen spinach as my greenery option and it turned out great. Scattered with a generous helping of parmesan cheese, we really enjoyed this for lunches throughout the week. I can imagine myself making it again during this lockdown!

Seeded wholemeal soda bread from BBC Food
Soda bread is a great option if you're struggling to source yeast from the supermarket. It's best eaten on the day of baking with a generous slab of butter. I used all pumpkin seeds because that was what I had in the cupboard and it came out delicious! This is a great option if you need a quick bread as it's so simple to make. There is no need to wait for it to prove, you stick it straight into the oven once it has been tied. Try not to make the dough too flat as it doesn't rise much.

Brown butter rum banana bread by Milli Taylor
If you haven't seen Milli's BBBB doing the rounds on Instagram then you must be living under a rock. You can find the recipe in her highlights on her Instagram page. I didn't have any rum as it's not something I drink but I found a non-alcoholic version which I had been gifted in a Holland & Barrett goodie bag. Milli suggests using tea as a substitute to soak the fruit. Once again I had to make a few substitutions as times are strange. I used currants as my fruit and dark brown sugar. The substitutions worked perfectly and it is the best banana cake recipe I've tried. I absolutely loved it! I have plans to make it over the weekend again.

Pizza dough from BBC Good Food
Pizza is my all-time favourite food. I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I had the choice. But for some reason I'd never attempted my own dough. I always felt a bit intimidated but decided lockdown was as good a reason as any to pop my cherry. This recipe asks you to grill it outside but I whacked my oven up to the highest temperature. I let it warm up for 30 minutes and then cooked each pizza for 15 minutes. I managed to get four pizzas from this recipe. I'd love to try lots of different toppings and not be restricted by my lockdown fridge. So many ideas!

Chocolate and oat cookies from Thida Bevington
Yet another recipe I had seen popping up all over my Instagram feed. I finally had some time to try it out! The recipe can be found in Thida's highlights on her grid. I dropped off a few care packages on friend's doorsteps and they said these were the best cookies I've made. I loved them and can't wait to experiment with different flavoured chocolate. I have some Reeces Pieces chocolate chips in the cupboard which I think will work perfectly.

Grilled potato salad from Bon Appetit magazine
I am obsessed with Bon Appetit's Test Kitchen on Youtube as well as the website. I tend to stick to their savoury recipes as working in cups whilst baking is not the one for me. It seems to be a reoccurrence in my kitchen where I keep finding random pieces of veg to use up before it goes completely bad. I came across this recipe when I was looking for an idea for potatoes to have with some pork kebabs I had found in the freezer left over from a BBQ last summer! It had a great Asian vibe going on thanks to the rice wine and fish sauce. It made a lovely change from the traditional potato salad I make with mayo and vinegar. I used a white onion instead of a red, scattered a standard red chilli over it and vetoed the fresh basil as I didn''t have any.

Five of my favourite food documentaries on Netflix

I am obsessed with making food, watching food and thinking about food. In short, I am always thinking about my stomach. I'm really interested to hear the about different cultures and thought process about food. I love how it has the ability to evoke certain emotions and bring people together. My favourite type of documentaries are the ones which pair food and travel together. Two of my ultimate passions! Netflix has some great food documentaries if you're on my wavelength. Here are five of my favourites on Netflix.

1. Ugly Delicious
Consisting of eight different episodes, Ugly Delicious focuses on iconic dishes sties into American culture. Presented by restauranteur David Chang, the show dives into the history of each food which defines the United States. You have pizza, fried chicken, Shrimp, tacos, home cooking, BBQ, fried rice and anything stuffed. It takes a step back into time and analyses the different waves of immigration over the years, detailing how it shaped existing dishes and what extras they bought to Americas with them. It absolutely fascinates me how closely food is tied to politics and this delves straight into it! Make sure you watch his second documentary series called Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner too.

2.  Street Food
If this show doesn't make you want to jump on a plane straight out of the UK then I am afraid there just might be something wrong with you... Since coming back from Malaysia last Feb I have become obsessed with street food and feel extremely sad it's not really much of a thing in Europe. Trying the different types of street food was the highlight of our trip to Malaysia. This series visit nine different cities all over Asia and focuses on one particular stall who is unbelievable at the dish they make. It informs you of the origin of their story and all their trials and tribulations. I love how it offers you an insight into the culture and history of each city, explaining why food is so important.

3. Salt Fat Acid Heat
This cooking documentary series is hosted by chef and food writer Samin Nosrat. Samin learnt her trade at Californian restaurant Chez Panisse before branching out and working in Italy before writing her own cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat. Consisting of four different episodes, each named after one of the most important principles of cooking which help make it taste delicious. She goes to Italy to see how they work with olive oil and create the most delicious looking focaccia. Mexico is also on her list of places to visit as she learns about how they work with acid in their dishes. One episode takes her back to her roots as she heads to Chez Panisse. My favourite episode was when she headed to Japan to see how they cooked with miso which is now one of my favourite ingredients.

4. Rotten
Now two series in, Rotten focuses on the problems on supplying food. It looks at popular and on-trend food and investigates on how the popularity is affecting the world around us in terms of corruption, fraud and consequences. Each episode focuses one on type of food and interviews people who work in the trade, manufacturers and distributors. It really does make you think about the food you're consuming and encourages you to make better choices.

5. Chef's Table
If eating out is one of your passions then you will love this programme. Each episode does a profile on some of the most renowned chefs in the world. There are six series so lots of get stuck into, making it perfect for a lazy weekend at home. I loved hearing about what inspired their culinary journey and where their influences came from. My list of restaurants to try has grown even longer since watching their programme!

#52recipes: recipes 42 - 46

Alison Roman's baked eggs with chickpeas and chorizo from Dining In
Chickpeas are my boyfriends nemesis so obviously I try to cook them in lots of different ways to try and make him come to his senses. I hit the jackpot with this recipe! Connor told me this was his favourite way of eating them. I think the crispness really helped, it gave them a lot of texture. We enjoyed it for dinner with lots of crusty bread. Baked eggs just aren't for breakfast!

Ottolenghi's aubergine and lamb koftas
These made me feel like a pro! It tasted just like a dinner I'd pay for in a restaurant. The end result of the koftas was juicy and flavoursome. The aubergine salsa was a fantastic finishing touch and really bought the dish together. I'd definitely make this again if I was looking to impress anyone!

Meera Sodha's Gardener's World pilau from Fresh India
We ended up just having this on it's own without any curries to accompaniment it. It was really filling and works just as well as a main meal as it would as a side. It tasted really fresh and was the perfect dish for a balmy summer's evening. The leftovers made a great packed lunch for the next day.

Ottolenghi's tahini and halva brownies
I cannot say enough about how delicious these were! They are up there as my favourite brownies I have ever made. Halva and chocolate are a match made in heaven. They were perfectly gooey and I loved the double nutty taste of the halva and tahini together. Why isn't tahini used more in baking? It's a revelation! 

Ottolenghi's chilli fish from Simple
It's not often I come across what I would class as a dud from the world of Ottolenghi but this chilli fish was disappointingly average. There was hardly any heat to it and it was just a bit bland. The overriding taste was of tomato and it just wasn't what I was expecting from this dish. Definitely not one I'll be in any rush to make again.

Restaurant review: My Neighbours the Dumplings, Clapton, east London

Connor first heard of this restaurant from the Off Menu podcast with Ed Gamble and James Acastor. We've been trying to build up a list of restaurants in London to try with the view to having a day out, just us two, once a month. First on our list was My Neighbours The Dumplings. We chose it because it's based in Clapton and we wanted to scout some wedding locations. It's all getting real now!

My Neighbours The Dumplings is a Chinese dumpling house and sake bar based in east London. They have a separate menu for lunch and for dinner, we opted to visit for lunch this time. We arrived about 12.30 and it was pretty empty but within 30 minutes it really started to fill up and created a buzzing atmosphere. Keen to try as much as we could, we decided to order every dumpling on the menu. Our best decision of the day!

Keep in mind the food doesn't arrive all at once so expect it to be staggered. So what did we order? Juicy lamb and coriander dumplings, fragrant wonton soup with pork and prawn, tasty veggie dumplings and steamed squid and cod dumplings. The lamb and coriander dumplings won the taste test hands down. I could have ordered three more portions! Although we could have eaten more, we left lunch feeling satisfied but not over stuffed which made a nice change! I would recommend ordering a couple more dishes if you're particularly hungry as four portions won't be enough.

My Neighbours The Dumplings was delicious and I'm so glad we finally got to tick it off the list. I thought the prices were a little high but this is hipster land! Service was pretty attentive and we didn't feel like we were being rushed. I don't think I would rush back especially to visit but if I found myself in Clapton again then I would definitely hit it up. I want to try the dinner menu as the crispy pork belly sounds absolutely delicious.


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