Diary of a Sourdough starter and why we can never be friends

8 Sep wpid-screenshot_2015-08-13-23-37-22_1.jpg

After some mild deliberation I decided to try sourdough again, the last starter eventually gave up and died, well I think? When things go grey and smell bad they are usually dead, my time working in a mortuary taught me that, and to be honest, I was glad. Of the 8 or so loaves I attempted only one came out well. The others were under baked, or over proved. I tried overnight on the kitchen side, in the fridge for longer, more kneading, less kneading and I couldn’t win. This time I intend to try something new, I am going to try research and love.

The last starter was resented and banished to the back of the fridge with the half eaten Christmas chutney and withered spring onions, neighbouring the weird stain I couldn’t scrub off the fridge wall from previous tenants. I would only bring it out to feed it for another round of “don’t cry, it’s only bread” on a Friday night and no belief that it would work. So this time I intended to care for it as I would a pet or tiny human, love it, cherish it and remember to feed it. I started to ask the bakers of the internet their best tips and found a recipe online that looked easy to follow.

So I began my starter…poured it away and did another one because I remembered you shouldn’t mix with a metal spoon, It damages the yeast or something. See RESEARCH.

Day 2

The starter needs feeding again, it’s looking bubbly and smelling a bit sweet so it’s on its way to being what it should be being. This is good, my chest swells with pride and confidence, I can add water to flour and it hasn’t exploded yet. I have had some feedback from a few bakers and it’s all contradicting and confusing. Some of them want me to buy their books and some of them admit they take their starters on holiday. My chest deflates (thank goodness, the spice shelf was being wiped out every time I turned left) and frustration creeps in. No wonder I can’t make the damn stuff work if these professionals can’t agree either. I shut Twitter down, kiss the starter goodnight and head to bed.

Day 3

I ran out of bread flour and so used plain flour, the research thing and “doing it properly” has fallen by the wayside because i can’t be bothered to put my shoes on and go to the shop. The mixture doesn’t look like its doing much and I hope for the best.

Day 4.

Mixture still didn’t look very exciting. It smelled a bit funky as it should, few bubbles. I was given advice on twitter about adding rye flour or wholemeal flour which I promptly ignored and carried on feeding it with plain flour (I kept forgetting to buy bread flour). I also had to transfer it to a bigger jar after not paying much attention to the amount of flour I putting in, so far this “treat your starter with love” thing isn’t going too well.

Day 5

My phone buzzed whilst I was out and I had been tagged in an Instagram picture. My housemate had come home to STARTERGEDDON and the damn thing had turned into “The Blob” and tried to take over the house. The weather had been horribly warm and sticky and it seems to have started a chemical reaction I had not prepared for. I got in the door and the jar had been placed in a bowl where the starter had continued to overflow and had formed quite the bond.

I poured the starter back into the jar, gave it a stir and placed the damn thing in the fridge in the hope it might get it to calm the hell down.

Day 6

There is sourdough all over my vegetable crisper. I’ve put it in the sink and gone to work.

Have had more advice for another expert on Twitter and have been told I need to tip most of it away and go with what I have, it’s obviously now a starter as it has become sentient and has tried to assimilate the peppers it shared the crisper with. I’ve called the government to warn about the impending take over but I was told to stop bothering them. I consider signing up with Periscope to keep an eye on it at work and then realise not even I can be bothered to sign up with and use Periscope. I leave the house and fear for my belongings.

Day 7

I’ve poured it away.

Time for some real talk boys and girls, some of us are not cut out for sourdough ownership. Yes they will tell you it’s easy, they will tell you to do this, that and the other but really go support your local independent bakery and just buy one. I cannot begin to tell you how disappointing and life damaging it is to be thwarted by wet flour. Really.

From now on I only bake bread made from yeast I have bought in a sachet and no I don’t want your “hot take” on that.

Caribbean Week! Jerk fish and chips with lime and coconut water sorbet

28 Aug wpid-imag1037_1.jpg


I’ve been plugging away at this wee blog for a while and have recently been thinking of ways to get it out to a wider audience. I don’t know about the rest of you but i think my pithy hot takes on bean burgers and pumpkin loaves should get as much love as possible, but everyone thinks their kid is the smartest and the most special.

“If its not messy there is no point doing it” is what i tell people who look in horror at the sink after i’ve cooked

So as Grace Foods (who i won an awesome hamper from last year) were on the look out for food bloggers to take some Caribbean ingredients and turn them into something delicious so thought i better apply and i managed to get picked for the Caribbean Week Challenge. I received canned coconut water, hot pepper sauce, creole pepper sauce (the household LOVES this stuff), hot and spicy chicken fry mix and a jar of wet jerk seasoning and after a bit of deliberation i settled on the very English fish and chips with tartare sauce. What better way to celebrate the mix of cultures in my city of Bristol? The coconut water threw me a bit, by threw i mean i had to choose between booze or something else and in the end settled for a pudding so anyone can try it.


This came out very spicy so feel free to alter the ingredients or omit anything if you can’t handle it.

For two people

For the fish you will need

  • Two white fish fillets (i used cod)
  • Few dollops of jerk seasoning
  • One egg per two fillets
  • Scattering of spicy seasoning to taste (this is marketed for chicken but i thought what the hell?!)

For the chips you will need

  • One large sweet potato cut into chunky chips
  • Seasoning
  • Olive oil

For the tartare sauce you will need

  • 200ml mayo
  • Two tblsp capers chopped finely
  • One shallot, chopped finely
  • Juice of half a lime (its Caribbean!)
  • Hot sauce to taste

For the sorbet

  • One can of coconut water
  • 3tsps white sugar
  • 50g creamed coconut
  • Juice of one lime



Pop your fish into a shallow dish and marinate in the jerk seasoning for about an hour. Whilst you are doing this prepare your sweet potato, season, shake in oil and pop into the oven, around 200c.

Put all the sorbet ingredients into a pan and melt the creamed coconut slowly. Leave to cool completely then pour into a tupperware box and put into the freezer. This will take a few hours to freeze.

Prep your tartare sauce, simply add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Never buy it pre-made again!

Retrieve your fish and gently remove the excess jerk, coat with egg and then coat with the dry seasoning. Place on grease proof paper and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, turning half way. You can fry but be careful that the fish doesn’t stick to the pan.

Don’t forget to give your chips a shake.



Bean Burgers, the more you eat the more you upset your boyfriend

10 Aug

I will put the warning at the top here folks. These are not a first date dinner recommendation. I enjoyed them immensely but the after effects nearly left my relationship in tatters. I implore you to stand downwind to all those who love you if you get gassy eating beans like i do.

These are everything i try and promote on my humble little site, cheap. tasty and easy. This is very much a store-cupboard raider meal and you can choose to go as big or simple with additions as you like. I did mine with lime creme fraiche, salsa and hummus with a little spicy cheese and to be honest…i could have left he cheese off. I know, i was just as surprised.  As avid meat eaters the BF and i were satisfied and these are very easy to make veggie or vegan if you have those sorts of people in your life.

I would also highly recommend getting a burger shaper. Yes you can just use your hands but as this recipe makes six you can freeze the rest for the future. I got mine from Amazon and comes with the wax disks too for less than a fiver!


You will need

  • 2 tins of kidney beans, strained and washed
  • Half red onion
  • 1 egg
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tblsp salsa (if you don’t have any then try tomato puree)
  • Spices to taste, i used paprika, cumin seeds, dried chilli seeds and dried Italian herbs
  • Plenty of seasoning.


Put your oven on at around 200c

Tip the beans into a bowl and go at it with a potato masher or fork until about 75% of the beans a crushed. Finally chop the onion and throw in, same with the garlic cloves and salsa. Next add your spices, i just do this by eye but you can afford to be adventurous, and your seasoning. Finish with the egg and breadcrumbs and give it all a really good mix.

Either use your hands or your gadget to make six burger patties and arrange them on a baking tray. Bake for around 20-30 mins until they are warm through with a nice crust.

Serve with toppings of your choice but to copy me take a few dollops of creme fraiche and juice a lime on top, mix well with plenty of seasoning and spread over a toasted bun. Use the rest of the salsa if you used it. The world is your bean burger oyster however! Try with a fried egg, with peanut butter and bacon, onion rings or whatever you fancy!


Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Review

29 Jul

Dear reader, i am not going to bore you to death with the usual trope-y intro of “Bristol has it’s fair share of cocktail bars” and then list my favourite. I would assume the majority of you are here because you already know who they are or can Google “Bristol’s best cocktails” and decide for yourselves. Instead, this is going to be a very picture heavy post because, quite frankly, the cocktails at HMSS are a pleasure to look at as well as smell and taste.


The bar has replaced Charlies bar, the 80’s themed cocktail place just to the left of the steps leading down to Clifton Down train station by Sainsbury’s on Whiteladies Road. You wouldn’t even realise it was there if you hadn’t noticed the gun shaped door handle (i need to know where they got these…)


As you enter the building you step through an telephone box (ask your parents) into the main room. The place is decked out in rich woods, comfy sofas, high tables and stools around a beautiful bar. The decor is what i would describe as “James Bond in London” lots of nods to classic spy films, a large printed map with pins and strings, a gun cabinet, a secret door to the toilets with special knockers to work out where you should be and passport themed menus.


After a chat with owner Elliot, who is one of three that also owns and runs the sister bar The Cocktail Trading Company in London, my partner ordered me a “Welcome to Kentucky have a nice day” as i had had my eye on it for months after seeing his pictures from a drinking session in London.


Now before i describe the cocktails i should point out that these guys like a pun and they love playing with their drinks. Half the menu is filled with your classic cocktail, maybe with a twist, something you wouldn’t have thought to put in there before. The other half is the “fun” part. Cocktails in Chinese takeaway containers, cocktails in welly boots, cocktails with candyfloss and marshmallows all populate this part of the menu and i will admit i was skeptical. We have all been to places that love sticking style above substance and i was initially worried this was going the same way. Plus i am a misery and usually hate anyone trying to hard.


Thankfully after asking “how do i drink this?” my cocktail in takeaway box was tried, tested and found exactly how i wanted. The flavours of Jim Beam, Ginger and Plum, Yuzu Juice and Macha Tea worked beautifully together, not one overpowering the rest. I don’t, as a rule, enjoy whisky or bourbon but this was refreshing and delicious and finished far too quickly. Who would of thought i of all people would have waxed lyrical about a drink covered in dried noodles but it works!


My partner and I went through four cocktails each all around £8-£9 each and HMSS also offer large punches to share between four. These included the best Mint Julep i have ever tasted, a beautiful Sherry Cobbler that tasted like Christmas on a tropical island and a “Tu Whit Tu Whoo-Woo – vodka, sage, peach & cranberry, prosecco. Owl, candy floss” what more could you possibly want in a drink? We were blown away by the quality of ingredients, the knowledge of the staff and the awe inspiring back bar. Having it so close to the train service means its easy enough to get to for those that don’t have a BS8 postcode with happy hour between 4:30 and 5:30 i can see this place being a firm favourite with the local office workers (myself included!).


You can find Her Majesty’s Secret Service online on Facebook here and Twitter here

Ooodles of noodles – Peanut and lime noodles!

1 Jul

To continue my peanutty theme of late and to stretch the noodle madness out a bit further from my previous review i bashed out a really simple recipe for homemade peanut and lime noodles last night for lunches. Whole thing took about 40mins to make include cooking the chicken (you may omit if you do not partake in eating flesh). This is another “bung in what you got” recipe, i’ll share what i put in mine but i’m not your mother, do what you want.

To make 3 – 4 lunches you will need:

  • Two roasted chicken breasts (or thighs if you want to save some money, i would cook and debone 4 of these but i prefer breast meat personally)
  • Two/three rectangles of egg noodles (these tend to hold their structural integrity when left for a day or two)
  • One red pepper
  • One red chilli
  • Handful of peas
  • Handful of sweetcorn
  • Juice of one lime
  • 100g crunchy peanut butter
  • One tablespoon olive oli
  • Two tablespoons soy sauce
  • Two tablespoons sweet chilli sauce

Cook your chicken breasts and cut or pull into shreds. Set aside in a bowl

Cook your noodles according to the instructions, drain and set aside in the same bowl

Cook off your veggies in a pan with a little oil until just soft, add to the bowl

In a separate bowl whisk together you oil, lime juice, peanut butter, soy and sweet chilli sauce, taste and adjust (i used posh peanut butter that had no added sugar so you may want to start with less sweet chilli if you used something cheaper)

Pour this mixture into the bowl and mix well with forks, try and get everything coated evenly and the noodles distributed properly.

Pop into takeaway containers and refrigerate.

NB: I did add broad-beans too but i didn’t peel them properly and they weren’t very good, up to you if you want to use them.


Wok to Walk, Parkstreet

30 Jun

East Asian cuisine is becoming a roaring success in Bristol and seems to be the next big thing after the “Man Food” (URGH)/Pulled pork/BBQ saturation we have experienced in the last few years. Bristol has had its core Asian restaurants with Nomu on Whiteladies Road serving Sushi and cocktails, Cosmo doing the high end buffet thing and Wongs doing opulent Chinese restaurant dining these are but a few of our long standing favorites.

The new kids on the block including Bao Wow and Chilli Daddy are offering a bit more of a “food to go” vibe that is popular with the Lunchtime deal hunters and office workers looking for something a bit different to a sandwich or a burger.

Unsurprisingly then the franchised and Internationally known noodle bar Wok to Walk has landed in Park Street Bristol and after a bit of a shaky start with opening times is offering freshly cooked, customisable noodle and rice dishes cooked pretty much in front of you.

The restaurant itself was very clean and tidy looking (though the tiling on the walls didnt seem to be quite finished!) and the staff were friendly and explained the menu well. The whole thing works a lot like Subway, choose your base which is a range of noodles, rice and a pure veggie option with a base price then choose your fillings which include two different types of mushroom, tofu, duck and pak choi. The fillings are charged separately so you can control what you want to spend easily. You then choose your sauce and can add a “topping” if you are so inclined. The base noodles come with veg and an egg so you can, as i did, limit yourself to just two toppings and still get a decent portion.


Please excuse the lens flare, it was bloody warm today!

I chose the Udon noodles (the big thick ones) and added chicken and pak choi and went with the peanut sauce (my obsession with all things peanut is becoming a serious problem). My friend has been eating Vegan for the past month was able to order his noodles without egg and was impressed with how easy it was to choose a meal that catered for his needs. He picked four options which included tofu and mushrooms and opted for the hot sauce. Drinks were £1 and we both chose a can of pop, my meal was around the £7 mark with a drink and his £8.50 with a drink.


Toppings range from 75p for beansprouts to £1.95 for the duck breast

The portion was very generous, the chicken was lovely and soft and the pak choi had been chopped into thick chunks. The noodles were lovely and soft and the peanut sauce had a little heat in it which i really liked. My friend also enjoyed his and mentioned the hot sauce “really crept on him!”. A few of the tables had chilli sauce and soy on them and they also offered the same in sachets for those literally taking their Wok to Walk. The table chilli sauce had lots of seeds, it was too busy to ask if it was homemade but it did look it.


Another nice touch is the nutritional calculator on the website for those on calorie controlled or similar diets, allowing you to make informed choices about your meal. Also, as mentioned before, the company seem very invested in making sure that you are able to be catered for if you do follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.


All in all i would say for a regular treat the cost is a bit out of my price range but say once a week or so i would be happy to spend about the same on a decent, hot lunch that can be eaten in or taken away and far better for your than a sandwich and a bag of crisps.

Honey & lime chicken with blue cheese sweet potatoes

18 May

Chatting to a friend this weekend he was telling me about how much better his life was without social media. Of course I pulled this face


I love social media, I love blogging, i love the relationships I’ve built, the sharing of ideas and events, the support, everything.

What better way to celebrate our differences than to blog a recipe he and his wife introduced me to? Mashed sweet potatoes with veins of delicious salty blue cheese and a dash of cinnamon, very rich and indulgent but really easy. The chicken, a recipe I adapted from a Buzzfeed article, takes a little more work but barely.

You will need

4 chicken thighs
1/8 cup of olive oil
1 lime
1.5 tblsp honey
1 chilli
2 peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
35g blue cheese
1/2tsp cinnamon
Carrots, enough for two


In a food processor put in the oil, juice of the lime, honey and chopped chilli. Whizz until combined and thick. Poor into a sandwich bag, place the chicken in the bag and give it a good rub to get the marinade in all the best places then pop in the fridge for a minimum of an hour, preferably overnight. Once ready, season and pop onto a rack and into a oven heated to 200c and cook until the skin was crispy and the juices run clear.

Whilst the chicken is cooking boil or steam the potatoes until soft all the way through, drain and place in a bowl. Crumble the cheese and cinnamon and give it a good mix.

Serve with steamed carrots and tweet your pictures as my friend will never know

Around 635cals per portion



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