Monday, 23 May 2016

A bloggers meet and review of Karaam Lebanese Restaurant Ealing

Through the world of blogging I have made many on line friends whilst visiting their blogs to chatting to them on social media. There are some bloggers that I have met in person at blog events and many have become really good close friends. Last Friday I met up with Jagruti from Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey. We came to know each other about 4 years ago and from time to time we meet up for lunch or go shopping together, we both share the same obsession for collecting blog props.

On Friday we went to Ealing, it was lovely to meet and catch up with gossip and look around our favorite shops. We had lunch at Karaam a Lebanese Restaurant in Ealing Broadway. Karaam has a very casual cafe style decor with wooden tables and some Middle Eastern artefacts on the walls. It is the perfect place to have a casual lunch. When we arrived luckily the lunch time rush had not started and we had full choice of tables to sit at. Being food bloggers we chose to sit at a table that had lots of natural light so that we could take some food photos.

Both of us love Lebanese food and were excited to look at the menu to select  some dishes that we had not tried before.Whilst we sipped on a chilled Lebanese drink called Jallap made from dates, raisins and rose essence,we browsed through the menu as to what vegetarian options they had and also asked the waitress for recommendations about some of the unfamiliar dishes.

We opted to choose a selection of side dishes to share instead of mains as this way we could sample a little of everything.We ordered Makdous which is a dish made from preserved baby aubergines stuffed with walnuts. The preserved aubergines had a salty, tangy bite and the walnut, chilli and garlic stuffing gave the aubergines a wonderful flavour leaving your mouth salivating for another bite. Don't shy away from the shrivelled up look they tasted amazing.

We also tried the Batala Harra Meal which was a platter with hummus, Batata harra (spicy fried potatoes), Falafel, Tabbouleh and Cheese roll (filo pastry spring roll with cheese as the filling.) The Batata Harra, which I usually adore was a little disappointing, it was bland and lacked the flavour we had expected, however the tabbouleh was delicious and very aromatic with the herbs.

Also on the menu was a side dish called Fatayer which we ordered. Fatayer were mini pastry parcels with a lovely spinach and onion filling. The pastry was light and simply melted in the mouth and the spinach and onion filling was really well seasoned and tasted delicious.

The final dish we ordered was the Mousaka'a Betinjan. Having never tried this dish before we were unsure what to expect. When the dish arrived it was an aubergine and chickpea stew with boiled rice.The stew was quite watery and sadly we did not enjoy it as much as all the other dishes.

Each dish was different in taste and flavour, however Both Jagruti and I were in full agreement that the Makdous and the Fatayer definitely stole the show, as they were really tasty and flavoursome and we could easily have eaten more of the same. Being food bloggers we were both intrigued to find out how they were created, unfortunately we did not really get a opportunity to chat to the owner or the waitress so find out the secret recipes!!!

We ended our lunch with a latte and Lebanese coffee which was served in an authentic Lebanese copper pot. Both Jagruti and I had our eyes on the pot which was gorgeous.It would make the perfect food prop!!! We did not sample any desserts so I am not sure what was on the menu.

Food - 4 / 5
Ambiance - 3 /5
Service - 3 / 5

Score - 10  / 15

We would like to convey our thanks to Karaam for inviting us to lunch and Emerz for organising it all. We were guests of Karaam and did not pay for our meal, all the views and opinions shared in this post are of our personal experience.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Windmills #Bostikbloggers

As you all know I am part of the Bostik Bloggers, where each month I get a craft box to create something crafty. This month the box arrived and the theme is garden. Each month when the box arrives, I invite Little M my niece to come and get crafty with me. This month I only had her over for a couple of hours after school rather than the whole day as I have been rather busy. So as soon as she came over we made a Melon and Apple smoothie and enjoyed it with a biscuit, it's a kind of ritual we have to do at every visit, before enjoying our crafting sessions as Little M really likes using my Optimum 9400  blender to make the smoothie.

Little M and I have lots of fun with these lovely boxes. In this month's box there were lots of flower shapes, tree cut outs and beads and buttons. The beads were really lovely but making bracelets would have been difficult for Little M who is 5 and a half so we thought of different ideas of making something.  Finally we settled on making a flower windmill to put in the garden. Although it looks complicated it was actually fairly easy to make although Little M did need help with some cutting and securing the pipe cleaners.

This is how we made it:

You will need:
Round plate
Crepe paper
Pipe cleaner
1 inch Foam polystyrene square
2 flower shapes (1 large and 1 small) and button.

How to make:

1. The plate had a crinkle shape around the outer edge. We cut slits 1 inch long and 2 inches apart around the plate to make petals.
2. We folded back every other petal and stuck it down with glue and also sellotape to secure it to make our flower shape.

3. We stuck the large flower shape in the middle of the plate and then the smaller one on top.
4. Using a pencil we then pushed a hole in the center of the flower.

4. We then threaded the pipe cleaner through the buttonholes in the button and pushed the pipe cleaner in the hole in the centre of the flower.

5. Using the pencil we then pushed a hole in the polystyrene cube and threaded that onto the pipe cleaner and secured it to the back of the plate.

6. We wrapped the crepe paper onto the wooden stick and secured it with sellotape.

7.To finish our flower windmill we coiled the pipe cleaner to the stick and our flower windmill was complete.

Our flower windmill did not spin in the wind as much as we would have liked it to , this is because we secured it with a pipe cleaner rather than a pin for safety reasons. However Little M was really excited with it and immediately wanted to plant her Flower windmill in the garden.

This post is part of the Bostik bloggers box challenge by Tots 100. All the craft items used in this post were supplied by Merrily Crafts.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Mixed Berry and Beetroot Smoothie.

Beetroots are very high in in antioxidants, have an excellent source of folates, vitamin C and vitamin A.Beetroot when consumed uncooked aids in the protection of heart disease, strokes, to lower cholesterol and helps with anti aging.
We try and eat beetroot in salads and also use it in cooking but since beetroots are better eaten raw, I also sneak them into my smoothies. The earthy taste compliments most fruit but I particularly like to add beetroot to apples and berries. This mixed berry and beetroot smoothie has a lovely fresh earthy taste.

print recipe

Mixed Berry and Beetroot Smoothie
Luscious summer berries and earthy beetroot makes this smoothie deliciously tasty and healthy too.
  • 1 Small beetroot peeled and diced
  • 12 Strawberries hulled and diced
  • 100 g Blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon Agave Nectar
  • 1 cup Ice cubes
  • 50 ml Water
1. Add the ice into the Optimum 9400 blender and semi crush it.2. Add the strawberries, blueberries, beetroot and agave nectar with 50 ml water and blend together for 1 minute.3. Pour into tall glasses and serve
Prep time: Cook time: None Total time: Yield: 2 servings

I used my Optimum 9400 to make my smoothie, you can use any blender that can crush ice.The Optimum 9400  is a powerful blender that grinds, pulses, chops, grates, cooks and makes icecreams at a flick of a switch. You can read a review about my Froothie Optimum 9400 here.
At the moment  the Optimum 9400 is available at a special offer introductory price of £339 which includes a 30 day trial so that you can return it back postage free if you are not totally satisfied with it. I love options like this because I feel that if I do invest in a gadget I want peace of mind that I can be100 percent happy with it.Also being a brand ambassador for Froothie any one purchasing through this post can you can get  Extra 2 years warranty to get this use the code "Special Ambassador Offer" on purchase

Flavours of Lisbon cookery class with Monarch Airlines

I have flown with Monarch Airline  to many holiday destinations, but it was only a few weeks ago that they added a  new flight path to Lisbon flying from Birmingham, Manchester and Gatwick.. In celebration of this, I was invited with a group of bloggers to attend an evening hosted by Monarch Airlines to sample and cook some dishes from Lisbon.

After enjoying some drinks and nibbles, it was a hands on cookery class at L’Atelier des Chefs to learn some Portuguese cooking.

We loved our Bright purple aprons, the royal colours of Monarch Airlines and got ready for our cooking experience.

The menu of the evening was Carne de Porco a Alentejana , this was a pork and clam dish that is very famous in Portugal. 

For the vegetarians the recipe was adapted and we created a tomato based stew with spicy hot baked aubergines.

The dessert we made was Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard Tart). These mouthwatering tarts were made with melt in the mouth flakey pastry and filled with a delicious custard filling.

We were guided through the different cooking stages with demonstrations and then we prepped all the ingredients in small groups and prepared our main course and the dessert. 

Once the food was ready we sat down to enjoy a delicious Portuguese meal accompanied with wine and soft drinks.

My friend Heidi and I really had an enjoyable evening as guests of Monarch Airlines. All views and opinions in this post are of my experience of the evening.