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Restaurant Review – The Milk Churn

A couple of weekends ago, we fancied trying a new place for lunch so I booked us a table at this Hall and Woodhouse pub. Part of the Badger Brewery chain, Ian loves their ales and, although their menu isn’t exactly fine dining, it offers really good pub grub.

I can’t say the pub itself is in the nicest setting but The Milk Churn is housed in a gorgeous building which has a converted barn feel to it.

We started off with a couple of their ales – I love ‘Golden Glory’ which is a light ale with a peach flavour and reminds me of summer holidays camping in Dorset!

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For my lunch, I ordered a Buffalo Chicken Burger which was coated in Frank’s hot wing sauce and served with a blue cheese mayo. This reminded me so much of the chicken wings we enjoyed in America and although the bun fell apart a bit, the chips were really good!

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Ian opted for a Fish Dog which is basically a hot dog with beer-battered cod goujons in place of a sausage, with mushy peas and tartare sauce. It may sound a bit strange but it really worked and reminded me of a slightly fancier fish-finger sandwich (one of my favourite comfort-food lunches!)

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We also shared some hot wings which were a little on the small and dry side for me.

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I always save some room for a pudding and The Milk Churn offer ‘mini puds’ which I think is a great idea if you are torn between two desserts! I ordered a mini toffee cheesecake and a mini chocolate pot.

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The cheesecake was OK but the ratio between the toffee sauce, biscuit and cream were a little off. My favourite by far was the chocolate pot which had a rich dark chocolate mousse topped with vanilla panna cotta. This was a perfect combination and I could have eaten two or three of them!

We had a lovely lunch here at The Milk Churn. I probably wouldn’t come back here for an evening meal as it has a bit of a ‘chain’ feel to it and I much prefer a local, country pub but it was a great lunch venue and we are big fans of the ales served here.

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Recipe – Mushroom and Chickpea Stew

It definitely feels like the end of summer. I usually walk home from my Pilates lesson in the evening sun on Mondays but last night I was wrapped up, running home in the wind and rain. We haven’t caved in and put the heating on yet but I don’t think it will be far off!

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I enjoyed this healthy stew all summer but it would be just as comforting in the coming colder months with a big dollop of sour cream on top.

Ingredients

A glug of olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 teaspoons of turmeric

3 teaspoons of cumin

1 teaspoon of dried chili flakes

Salt and pepper

1 red onion, roughly chopped

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

5 tablespoons of tomato puree

Boiling water

1 courgette, halved and sliced

1 tray of mushroom, sliced

1 can of chickpeas, drained

1 small jar of black olives

Fresh coriander

Sour cream (or natural yogurt)

How to make it

  • Begin by heating the olive oil in a deep pan on a medium heat
  • Add the garlic, turmeric, cumin, chili flakes, salt and pepper and gently fry

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  • Add the onion and fry for another few minutes
  • Next, pour in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and fill the empty cans with boiling water and add them too, stirring well

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  • Bring to boil then turn it down to a simmer
  • Add the courgettes and mushrooms and cook for about half an hour

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  • Add the chickpeas and olives and cook for another 15-20 minutes

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  • Season to taste then serve with couscous, a generous handful of fresh coriander and good dollop of sour cream

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Recipe – Chicken, Courgette and Cranberry Couscous Salad

Anyone else love a bit of alliteration?!

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I’ve only been back to work for a few weeks and I am already craving more variety for my lunches. This salad is really tasty and one I will be making a big bowl of in the coming weeks. I love giant couscous but this would work just as well with the normal variety as well as quinoa.

I have purposely left the ingredients fairly vague as it is a real ‘throw-it-in-as-you-go’ recipe and if I made it again I’m sure I would find something else in my fridge to add!

Ingredients

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3 courgettes, sliced

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded

A small jar of black olives, halved

A handful of cranberries or pomegranate seeds

Half a block of feta, cubed

Fresh coriander

A couple of radishes, chopped

Four servings of giant couscous (or other grain)

How to make it

  • Begin by lightly frying the courgettes in oil until they have started to soften then allow to cool

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  • In a large bowl, add the courgettes, chicken and black olives and season well

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  • Next, add the cranberries, feta, radishes and coriander and mix well

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  • Add the couscous and serve with hummus and flatbreads

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Recipe – The Best Ever Sandwich!

You may wonder why something as simple as a sandwich has made it onto a recipe page but this lunch was so good I felt I had to share!

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Ingredients

A glug of olive oil

1 chicken breast

1 teaspoon of honey

2 slices of bread, toasted

Mayonnaise

One ripe avocado

Salt and pepper

A pinch of paprika

A pinch of chili flakes

Salad leaves

2-3 cherry tomatoes, sliced

A handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

How to make it

  • In a frying pan on a medium heat, gently fry your chicken breast in the oil until cooked through
  • Drizzle over the honey and allow to slightly brown before removing to cool then slicing
  • Take your toasted bread and spread one slice with mayonnaise
  • On the other slice, crush the avocado and season with salt and pepper than add the paprika and chili flakes
  • On top of the mayonnaise, add the salad leaves
  • On top of the avocado, add the sliced tomatoes and chopped coriander

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  • Lay on your chicken pieces

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  • Carefully put your two pieces of bread together and enjoy! x

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Recipe – Coca Cola Chicken

After indulging in chicken wings on an almost daily basis whilst in America, I was craving chicken again so had a play around with this recipe. I call it Coca Cola chicken but it is akin to a very mild, sweet barbecue sauce and one that makes the meat almost fall off the bones. You can make this with drumsticks, wings or even thighs.

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Ingredients

A glug of olive oil

9 chicken drumsticks

One can of Coke (I used Diet Coke)

One tin of chopped tomatoes

One teaspoon of wholegrain mustard

Salt and pepper

Some fresh coriander

How to make it

  • In a large pan, add the oil and chicken and brown for a few minutes on each side on a medium heat
  • Pour over your can of Coke, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes
  • Now add the chopped tomatoes and mustard, season well and stir
  • Lower the heat slightly and allow to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring regularly, until the sauce has reduced and thickened

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  • Remove the chicken legs and scoop up the rest of the sauce
  • Serve warm with some fresh coriander and my Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

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Travel Diaries – New York (Part One)

Right, I think I’m feeling awake enough to make a start on some holiday posts! I love making a record of our adventures and when previous trips pop up on Timehop, I’m really grateful to have this little corner of the internet to look back on fun times.

In case you didn’t know, my husband Ian and I spent two weeks travelling down the East Coast of America, stopping off at New York, Atlantic City, Philadelphia and Washington DC. Today’s blog post will be part one of the five days we spent in New York.

Day One – Monday 27th July

So our holiday started with a 4:30am alarm clock although I think we were both awake before then, a bit too excited to sleep! After a big mug of tea (me) and coffee (Ian), his parents and their dog George very kindly dropped us off at Bristol airport with just enough time for me to purchase a new perfume (L’Impératrice by D&G).

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We flew with Aer Lingus, which meant having to go via Dublin. I hadn’t flown to the States via a connecting flight before and after this experience, I’m not sure I’d be in a hurry to do it again. We sat on the runway at Bristol for about 45 minutes meaning when we landed, we were really late for our connecting flight. Cue a mad dash through Dublin airport and security and arriving on our next flight a bit hot and bothered. Not the best start and I definitely needed a large G&T afterwards!

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Apart from that drama, it was a fairly uneventful flight…bad food, good films and I also read Mindy Kaling’s book ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?’

We landed mid-afternoon and after a bit of hanging around at the airport, we caught our transfer and were dropped off at our hotel, The Ameritania, which was a couple of blocks from Central Park, right in the centre of Broadway.

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My first impressions of the hotel were good. I would say that the décor was not my style but it was very modern and clean, the staff were so helpful and you really couldn’t beat the location. Our room  wasn’t huge but again very clean, luxurious and modern with a lovely bathroom, really comfortable bed and good views. We weren’t sure about the ‘Lover’s Intimacy Kit’ which was included in the minibar though! I think the only thing that could have made our stay more perfect was free wifi as we had to go to Starbucks over the road for it.

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After settling in, I was quite ready for bed but knew I had to stay up and try and get on US time. We walked up to Central Park and had a leisurely stroll around, sussing out our running routes for the next morning and taking in the atmosphere. It is without a doubt my favourite space in New York; a little oasis amongst the hectic pace of the city.

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We then walked over to Times Square which was a bit of a mistake as it was packed with people waiting for Tom Cruise who was there for his latest film premiere. We finished the night with a bite to eat and of course I had to order ribs for my first meal!

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Day Two – Tuesday 28th July

Thanks to the time difference, I was awake at about 5am to see a beautiful pinky-golden sunrise from our hotel window. Ian and I both packed our running gear for this holiday as we decided we should try and balance out all the eating and drinking with a few morning runs. I never thought my running shoes would make it into my holiday suitcase but I’m so glad they did! Running through the streets of New York before everyone else was up was kind of surreal but also a chance to see a different side of the city. A near-empty Central Park was beautiful and it was refreshingly cool too.

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On my list of foodie places to go was a café called Argo Tea and I was pleased to see one on the way back to the hotel. They did an amazing iced chai tea drink which I had every day we were there!

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After a quick Starbucks, we bought our Metro passes and headed Downtown to Battery Park. It was absolutely boiling the whole time we were away and the air-conditioned trains were a godsend for getting around the city.

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The first thing we decided to do was to take a trip to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Previously when we visited New York, we got the free Staten Island Ferry past the island which was OK to see it but this time we wanted to get a bit closer. We got a ferry over to Liberty Island, had the first of many audio guides and enjoyed great views of the green lady as well as back over Manhattan.

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Next, we hopped back on the boat, this time to Ellis Island and its Immigration Centre. I found this place fascinating. It was well set out, the exhibits were really interesting and it not only told the history of immigration to America but really challenged my views on it today too.

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The grand hall was impressive and having travelled there by boat, you could really imagine how people would have felt decades ago, arriving and seeing the statue before starting a new life in America.

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After getting back onto dry land, we were really hungry so walked to South Street Seaport where I had read about some cool foodie places. We stumbled upon ‘Smorgasburg’ with lots of individual stalls selling a great variety of food and drinks. We settled on some local beers, a Vietnamese-style beef brisket roll and the best lobster roll I have ever eaten!

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Fed and watered, we walked through the Financial District and visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It didn’t feel right to take lots of photos inside but it was a fascinating and very moving, sombre experience. I didn’t think the actual exhibits were particularly well laid out (lots of waiting for the people in front to move before you could see the displays – I would recommend going early before the crowds) but it took you through the events of the day using video clips, artefacts, newspaper reports, answerphone messages and parts of the actual Twin Towers. Outside we saw the two huge memorial fountains too.

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We decided to end our day at one of my favourite places to eat in America: Bubba Gump! Yes, I know a Forrest Gump-themed restaurant isn’t the height of culinary sophistication but I order the same dish every time (Cajun-spiced mahi mahi and shrimp with a bourbon sauce) and loved it!

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Right, that’s it for Part One…the next one should be up tomorrow x

Restaurant Review – Timbrell’s Yard, Bradford on Avon

Today’s post was an unplanned lunchtime visit but one that made me very happy to have found this restaurant! A few weeks ago, Ian and I were having a wander around Bradford on Avon’s summer fair and felt a bit peckish. There weren’t that many food stalls so we were on our way to buy some picnic ingredients when we stumbled across this place.

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Timbrell’s Yard is tucked away from the main high street, right next to the river, and is housed in a beautiful Grade 2 listed building. As it was a lovely sunny day, we opted to sit outside as we looked through the menu. We decided to get some little bites to share from the bar menu and I think this was a great way to get a feel for how good the food is at this place.

We had chorizo sausage rolls, served with fennel seeds and a great crunchy apple slaw, salami chipolatas with a spicy hummus, popcorn cuttlefish with paprika mayonnaise (a lovely twist on calamari and aioli) and cauliflower and smoked cheese croquettes with a truffle aioli. I loved the way everything was served with an individual dip or accompaniment which really completed the food.

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My favourite dish however was the BBQ beef brisket served with a very spicy hot sauce. The meat was so tender and well-cooked and absolutely delicious – I was very tempted to order a second portion!

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I popped inside to have a look at the dining area and it is such a gorgeous space. The menu is seasonal and local and we are definitely looking forward to coming back soon.

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I am now off to carry on tackling our mountain of holiday ironing and packing up our suitcases ready for our holibobs! x