Valentines at The Ivy, Clifton Brasserie

Valentines at The Ivy, Clifton Brasserie

AD – This blog post contains a gifted meal from The Ivy Brasserie.

Last night Finn and I were extremely lucky to visit the Ivy in Clifton, which is very local to us for an early Valentines meal to review the selection on their menu and have a little quality time together. I have been to The Ivy a few times now, and have enjoyed many delicious meals in a beautiful setting. The restaurant oozes sophistication and a relaxed candle lit atmosphere perfect for a Valentines date night, or maybe even Galentines!

This year, The Ivy made sure that they welcomed this annual tradition and added a few things to their menu in order to help those celebrating really get into the tradition of the occasion. A passionfruit Cosmo was added to the cocktail selection, which had me at heart eyes straight away. I am absolutely obsessed with passionfruit, and am not at all partial to a Cosmo, so the two together sounded like absolute heaven. It did not disappoint. The taste of sweet fruit, with the sharpness of Vodka, meant for a balanced and utterly enjoyable aperitif prior to our meal.

To start our meal, I chose the Buffalo Mozzarella salad and Finn had the Duck Liver Parfait. The Mozzarella salad was delicious, paired with crispy artichoke and a truffle honey glaze. It was the perfect mixture of saltiness and sweet, as well as the soft texture of the mozzarella with crispy pears. The Duck Liver Parfait is a dish that both of us have enjoyed recently, and as ever, it was delicious. Smooth and creamy in texture, with a beautiful meaty taste, paired with some soft mouth watering brioche.

The main event – well except not in the case of this meal – I chose a new edition to the menu, Chicken Bourguignon. Having enjoyed many Beef Bourguignon, I had never tried a Chicken alternative, so I was feeling extremely excited to give it a go. Crispy Chicken, with some extraordinary creamy mash, a creamy mushroom and bacon lardon sauce all together with some sprouting broccoli. All I can say is, wow it was exquisite. It is everything I love in a meal and really tasted like a real treat for such a special occasion. Finn went for a Steak, which he said was extremely good with a luscious red wine sauce and some thick hand cut chips.

With our meal, we enjoyed a light and crisp red wine, Pinot Noir from New Zealand. I am the biggest red wine lover, and thoroughly enjoyed this one that our waiter Dominic suggested. It was the perfect balance in texture and taste with our entire meal.

To finish, obviously I had to try the Valentines dessert. To begin with, the dessert was absolutely beautiful. Served on a slate plate with gold detailing, the stand out red sorbet cake was without a doubt the most beautiful dessert I have ever been served, made even more perfect for the event with a white chocolate heart placed on top. The dessert itself consisted of a vanilla cake sponge at the bottom, filled with creamy ice cream and surrounded by a fresh and vibrant raspberry sorbet. I cannot even tell you how delicious it was and only wish I could let you taste it as you read this review. To finish the dessert it was topped with some cream, fresh raspberries and as mentioned the white chocolate heart. For ultimate indulgence, it was also served with a little pot of warm white chocolate sauce, bringing the whole thing together.

IT WAS HEAVEN.

As you can imagine, what with the cocktails, wine and large variety of food being served, I was feeling pretty giddy at the end of the meal and utterly full to the brim. It was all just so delicious and the perfect way to celebrate the most romantic evening of the year… if not one day early!

On Our Menu:

Passionfruit Cosmopolitan

Pinot Noir, New Zealand 

Buffalo Mozzarella & Duck Liver Parfait

Chicken Bourguignon & Sirloin Steak 

Valentines Cake & Chocolate Truffles

This meal was gifted and in collaboration with The Ivy Clifton Brasserie. All views and opinions are entirely my own.

Thank you to The Ivy Clifton for a wonderful evening and thoroughly enjoyable meal.

Gluten Free Christmas Bakes

Gluten Free Christmas Bakes

Imagery by Hana Dallimore Photography

So the season of eating is upon us and I have already eaten more Christmas calories than I am proud of. A few weeks ago I started to be a lot more careful with my diet, reducing my gluten and dairy intake because of bad bloating and tummy cramps. Since doing so I am so much better, but it has been a struggle with all the Christmas goods on offer. The three recipes featured in this post are all cakes that I enjoy at this time of year, as well as enjoy making. I decided to try and recreate them all gluten free and am so happy with how they turned out. I mean, the brownies were already gluten free because I used ground almonds….which taste SO much nicer! Anyway, all I had to do was replace the flours for gluten free and voila, the perfect bakes this season.

These recipes are all ideal if you need something fast to put together that look perfect on your Christmas table and taste delicious!

The Best Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients | 125ml coconut oil // 300g dark chocolate // 300g caster sugar // 200g ground almonds // 1tsp GF baking powder // ½ mashed avocado // ½ tsp vanilla extract // 3 eggs // pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan). Line and grease your chosen tin.

Start by melting together the chocolate and coconut oil on a low heat until completely melted. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the avocado. Add the sugar, almonds, GF baking powder, vanilla and eggs. Mix together thoroughly. Then fold in the chocolate mixture and a pinch of salt.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes. Leave to set.

Spiced Orange Cake

Ingredients |  3 eggs // 200g butter // 175g GF self-raising flour // 1tsp GF baking powder // 2tsp orange extract // zest and juice of one orange // 1tsp ground ginger // 1tsp ground cinnamon // 1tsp all spice // ½ tsp ground nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan). Line and grease your chosen tin.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Then add the eggs and mix together. Using a sieve, add the flour, baking powder and spices. Fold all these ingredients together. Finally, add the remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

 

Transfer the batter into your tin and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Put a skewer through the cake to check to see if it is cooked. Keep an eye on the cake and cook until the skewer run clears.

I decorated mine with just melted white and dark chocolate, however a cream cheese frosting can work too!

Christmas Gingerbread

Ingredients | 180g GF self-raising flour // 2tbsp ground ginger // 1tbsp ground cinnamon // 2tbsp whole milk // 150g black treacle // 75g soft brown sugar // 75g butter // 1 large egg

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (180 fan). Line and grease your chosen tin.

First of all you need to soften the treacle to make it easier to handle. I followed Delia’s way of doing this by placing the tin in a small saucepan with some barely simmering water. I left it for just a few minutes then took out of the water.

In a large bowl, sift the flour and spices together, followed by the milk. Set aside.

Now, place the treacle, sugar and butter into a saucepan with 75ml water. Heat and gently stir until melted and blended. Don’t let it boil. Add the syrup mixture to the dry ingredients, beating with a wooden spoon. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin.

Bake the gingerbread for about an hour, or until a cake tester runs clear through the sponge. Take out of the oven and let it cool. Cover with icing sugar and serve with mulled wine!

 

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Grey Serving Plate – Biggie Best

 

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These recipes are my own.

Scrumptious Lemon & Courgette Cake

Scrumptious Lemon & Courgette Cake

Imagery by Hana Dallimore Photography

Lemon cake has always been one of my favourites and something I will reach for at any tea party or coffee catch up. I think it is just the balance of sweetness whilst also being able to enjoy a sharp and citrus flavour. Paired with poppy seeds it is just pure bliss for me. During a blog shoot with my amazing photographer Hana, we went along to one of her favourite coffee stops in Bristol, where I tried the most delicious lemon and courgette cake. Since I had tried it, I just couldn’t stop thinking about how good it was and had to get my baking hat on to see if I could make something just as good. I have never ever baked before with courgette, but was optimistic as the one I tried was so good and I have heard very good things from people who use it a lot in their bakes. I used the base of a recipe I found online, but to be honest as with anything I cook or bake, I massively ran off course and went with what I thought was best. All in all the recipe has turned out to be very simple and not as time consuming as I had thought. It was light and fruity, whilst being moist in texture and the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cup of tea.

For me, a lemon cake has to be extremely sweet and lemony. It cannot be dry and must always have a soft texture. These are always things that seem very simple to achieve in a bake, but in theory can be quite hard to get right. For this recipe, your biggest challenge is the courgette as it holds a lot of water. Once grated, ensure that you take as much water out as possible.

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Skill: Easy 

Ingredients:

200g Courgette // 200g Caster Sugar // 1 Egg // 125ml Vegetable Oil // 200g Plain Flour // 0.5 Teaspoon Salt // 0.5 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda // 0.5 Teaspoon Baking Powder // 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon // 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract // 2 Lemons (Zest and Juice)

Icing – to ice I used the shop bought vanilla icing as I hate making butter icing and actually think it works really well with this recipe. However, you could easily make your own or add a lemon glaze.

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan). Prepare your chosen cake tin with baking paper.

Start by grating the courgette. I just use a normal cheese grater and try to get it as fine as possible. Empty all the grating out onto a clean tea towel and press as much as possible to remove excess water. The tea towel is usually dripping wet by the end.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg until it is a think liquid. Add the vegetable oil and sugar and thoroughly mix together. Then, add the courgette and mix again.

 

Using a sieve, add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Fold all these ingredients together. Then add the lemon zest and juice, as well as the vanilla extract. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together until you have a smooth cake batter.

Transfer the cake batter into your prepared tin and place in the pre-heated oven. If you are using a loaf tin, the cake may need an extra ten minutes just because it is much deeper. Keep an eye on the cake and add foil to the top if it is starting to catch.

Decorate your cake as you please and ENJOY!

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Jumper – Boohoo

Cake Stand – Waitrose

 

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This recipe has been created using the AllRecipes Website, however slightly adapted.

No Longer Counting the Calories

No Longer Counting the Calories

Since my early teen years I have always been very body conscious. I have never been extremely thin, in fact my weight is extremely up and down, and like many other people it can really affect my mood. I don’t find that eating healthily comes naturally to me, and I am awful when it comes to dieting. I have zero will power. Last year, when going through some relationship problems and being stressed all the time about my health I lost so much weight. I joke that ‘it was the best diet I ever went on’, but it really was. Obviously, I then had major surgery and was sat on the sofa for a good 6 months, so I regained everything and up until a few weeks ago I felt awful in myself. For some reason, something ticked in my brain in the last few weeks, not just because my weight is starting to go down again, but I think I naturally am developing a much more healthy attitude towards it.

Living a healthy, balanced lifestyle is about fuelling your body with good and nutritious food, whilst also being able to enjoy a giant slice of chocolate cake, guilt free!

I think I am definitely one of those people who loves to enjoy life and thinks that it is way too short to waste doing things that you don’t enjoy. I appreciate entirely that we need to remain fit and healthy to live a long and happy life, although I do know that giving into cravings and enjoying unhealthy food is also the key to living long, and truly happily. So what are the best ways to do this, and what attitude shall we have to make sure that we are able to carry this out on a daily basis?

Everything in Moderation

The best and most successful way to stay healthy is by really understanding that it is everything in moderation. If like me you enjoy carbs and cake, there is no reason why you cannot have this in your diet, however in moderation. For example, if I have a slice of cake in the week and I m trying to be good I will tend to have a much smaller portion. Same with carbohydrates. I will never be someone who can give them up, but I try my best not to eat them with every meal and put more veg on my plate in proportion to my protein and nutrients. Also, a big thing I have got a lot better at, is if I have already had a sweet treat in a day, generally I won’t let myself have anything else. Having two would not be in moderation.

Realistic Exercise Regimes

Exercise is very important for our bodies, although I do truly believe that you have to stick to a good balance. Realistically going once a week isn’t enough, but in my view any more than four is way too much. Don’t push yourself too much mentally and create unrealistic goals. The only way I manage to get there, which I do have to admit doesn’t happen every week, is to mix my workouts up and not take it too seriously.

Homemade Meals & Snacks

With it being said about everything in moderation, I also think the best way to stay healthy is by most of your diet being made up of homemade hearty meals. In the food shop there are so many items available designed to make our lives easier, however there are very few that are good for us. I enjoy making food from scratch knowing exactly what is in it, whether it contain loads of butter or sugar. As long as it doesn’t contain the crap preservatives and chemicals found in other products, in my head it is totally okay. Try to be as organised as possible with your food prep and ensure that you are always choosing homemade alternatives as opposed to shop bought items just because they’re easy.

Ignoring the Scales

Something I learnt years ago is that for me, the scales are a no go area. Not only do I find it a horrible feeling of how low you can feel after seeing the number, but also I have learnt that it doesn’t actually matter. Really, if you are exercising correctly and are toned, you will have a lot of body muscle, therefore you will be heavy. Personally, I go purely on dress size, what I am able to wear and how I am feeling in myself. The weight on the scales doesn’t matter in the slightest and we all have a very unhealthy attitude towards it at some point in our lives.

Breakfast

Always eat your breakfast. I have always been so awful at this, mainly because my stomach just can’t really take it when I wake up, which I know is the case for a lot of other people. However, I have learnt that it is so much better for your body and your diet if you do. I can never eat anything massive, unless it is after a Sunday lie in, however even something simple like a banana can really do the job.

Home Routine

Having a good routine is the easiest way of staying on track, staying healthy and making good choices for when it comes to food. This doesn’t just mean having a routine when it comes to work and general life, but also how you use your spare time. I have got into a good routine now of which evenings I cook fresh meals, which mornings or evening I go the gym and even when I am having my rest time. Staying up to date with everything can really help you to stay on track.

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Top – New Look

Shot in – Tincan Coffee House, Bristol

We enjoyed:

Lemon and Courgette Cake

Caramel Shortbread

Hearty Latte

Lemonade

Old Fashioned Tea

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I have not been paid to feature any brands, and all views and opinions are my own.

Posh Beans on Toast

Posh Beans on Toast

What makes a perfect Sunday morning brunch? To me, one choice is beans on toast with a  vanilla latte. It is by no means the healthiest meal on the menu, but in my eyes, calories don’t count on Sundays. After flicking through Deliciously Ella a few weeks ago I stumbled across a recipe for homemade beans and was instantly tempted to give it a go. To be honest, in the end I landed up doing it a little free hand and threw it together with what I had in my cupboard. In my head I actually thought they were going to be so much more difficult to make, but in fact were incredibly easy. But most importantly, they are so delicious, and so much better than the traditional canned product that we are all so used to eating. I do think it is one of those things that once you have eaten these, you will never go back to the old ones. These have so much more flavour, and naturally contain so many more nutrients which is obviously always a bonus.

I never thought I would sit down and write about how delicious these baked beans are. They surprised me on every level and are the perfect lazy weekend breakfast, work time lunch or even easy dinner.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cooking Time: 1 Hour

Skill: Easy

Ingredients:

500g tinned haricot beans

2 garlic cloves

3 Fresh Tomatoes

2 tins chopped tomatoes

tomato puree

1tbsp honey

1tsp paprika

salt and pepper

Serve with Chilli Avocado & Sourdough

Heat your pan on a medium high heat. Start by frying the garlic with a little oil and the honey. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium low.  Cook for 30 minutes until bubbling.

As an alternative to honey, you can use a little syrup or a teaspoon of sugar.

Add the puree, paprika  and beans and cook for another 10 minutes. In this 10 minutes it is usually the perfect amount of time to make the rest of your meal. My choice is always avocado and chilli with sourdough. I find that these taste best the next day, however they can be eaten straight after cooking.

Store the beans in an air tight container in the fridge for a few days.

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This recipe is entirely my own.

Rosa Tapas | Bristol

Rosa Tapas | Bristol

Last week, I was lucky enough to visit Rosa Tapas situated in the heart of Bristol on Whiteladies road. I have been meaning to go for so long, for my love of tapas and because of how many people I have heard raving about it. I absolutely adore discovering new places to eat so as you can imagine, I was extremely eager to try Rosa out. I don’t go to Whiteladies very much, but always love going whenever I do. It is one of the main reasons that I love living in Bristol. There are so many different places to go, just minutes apart and they are all so different. Rosa fits into Bristol perfectly, with its unique brand and cosy interior. When we walked in it instantly felt warm and somewhere where you can easily relax and enjoy a good meal. It has a very romantic theme, with dim lights, candle settings and wood interiors, however without the cheesy addition that sometimes comes with this. The restaurant was buzzing, with people enjoying their Friday evening, good music and drinks in flow.

My favourite thing about the restaurant itself has to be the interior (obviously not to mention the food). It was so welcoming and it felt so nice to feel at ease the minute you step through the door.

Finn and I were made to feel welcome for the whole of our visit, and I must say the staff are a real credit to the Rosa brand. Not only were they friendly and attentive, but their knowledge and clear passion for the job completely shon through. Whenever trying somewhere knew, one of us usually does ask what they would recommend to try and particularly from a blogging view we try to get a variety of dishes to really experience what they have to offer. The lady who served us (I am SO sorry, I forgot to get your name!) was extremely helpful in helping us choose, not only recommending the dishes she enjoyed, but also the ones that the chef is the most proud of. It was an extremely personal service, whilst also being very chilled and easy to experience. From start to finish they were all incredible.

Drinks

To drink, I obviously had to start with a cocktail, which unfortunately had to be my one and only because I was driving. I say unfortunately not only because I love a few drinks on the rare occasion that I am out on a Friday night, but also the cocktail I had was AMAZING! Obviously I had to go for the ‘Rosa’, which consisted of vodka, fresh passion fruit, limoncello, raspberries and thyme.  It was a cocktail with a punch and the perfect balance of flavour. The sweet fruit balanced out the sharp taste of spirit, whilst also managing to refrain from being too sweet and overpowering. I am extremely fussy when it comes to cocktails as I need them to be very balanced in flavours to enjoy them. This was more than perfect for me.

Tapas | small dishes of Spanish cuisine, traditionally served with drinks.

 

Hummus & Goats Cheese

 

I am the biggest goats cheese fan, so with Finn not being that fussed, this was all for me. The hummus was amazingly creamy and packed with flavour, which was incredible with the sharp salty taste from the goats cheese. To add texture, it was topped with chickpeas, dates and apricot. The dates and apricot did a great job of adding sweetness to the dish, as well as the variety of texture. Served with bread, this to me was the ideal start to a meal or as an accompaniment if you visited just for a drink in the day or evening.

Pork Tenderloin

To try a variation of the meat dishes, the pork tenderloin was my choice, served with green runner beans and mint. I don’t know about you, but I personally find pork the hardest meat of them all to cook, particularly chops. I always manage to overlook it as I worry I could poison someone by not doing it for long enough so it just lands up being chewy. Obviously, I don’t have the skills of the Rosa kitchen team, as this was everything that mine isn’t. The meat was deliciously tender, with beautiful juices and a perfect balance of sweet and saltiness. The beans were really nice for added crunch and a kick of vitamins.

Patatas Bravas | translated to ‘Spicy Potatoes’

My view is, how can anyone go for tapas and not order patatas bravas?  I think it is one of my favourite types of potato and if it is on the menu anywhere, I am ordering it. Rosa did a great job of nailing this Spanish classic. As it should be, the potatoes were crispy on the outside and perfectly fluffy in the middle, topped with the traditional aioli and tomato sauce. The aioli is a traditional sauce made with olive oil and garlic, then paired perfectly with a spicy tomato sauce. These little potatoes were packed with flavour and were everything I had hoped for out of the dish.

BBQ Rump Steak

For us both, this was the highlight of the tapas dishes and we are still both going on about how good it was. With us both being huge steak fans, this obviously was the first thing we knew we wanted to order. Cooked in the Rosa barbecue, the steak was served with some amazing puffed rice and gochujang. It was cooked to perfection, pink in the middle and a melt in your mouth texture. The addition of the crispy rice was such an amazing effect with the meat and was the ideal accompaniment to add a variety of texture to the dish. If we go back, I wouldn’t be surprised if Finn just orders himself three plates of this.

Black Pepper Squid

This dish was all for Finn as I cannot stand sea food. He is a big fan, so we ordered it for him to enjoy. Due to the fact that I can’t stand it, I left this part of the review to him as I wouldn’t even be able to tell you if it was good or bad. In his words he said it was amazing with an incredible warmth from the black pepper that perfectly complimented the squid. It was the perfect balance of texture and flavour, and Rosa managed to turn an ingredient that can often be bland into something very exciting with a huge kick of flavour.

BBQ Trout

I am a huge fan of Trout, however it is something that I just don’t eat very often. There is no particular reason for this other than I often forget about it. Trout is very similar to Salmon, however I would say a little denser in flavour. In Rosa, it was served with miso, spring onion and pickled cabbage. These are all things I would never have the enthusiasm to create at home, but all worked amazingly together.

 

 It was an amazing combination of a taste of the sea with a slight sourness from the cabbage and strong but mellow taste from the fish. The fish was also cooked to perfection, with slight crisp on the outside whilst still being pink in the middle. I cannot stand over cooked fish. I was a big fan of the dish and would love to try and recreate something similar at home.

That Dessert

To finish our meal, we had one of the most delicious desserts I have ever tasted. For me, having a huge sweet tooth, this was the star of the show and the cherry on top of a delicious meal. We actually chose to share our pudding, however if I had known that it would be that delicious I would never have agreed! So, it was a while chocolate and vanilla panna cotta with crunchy meringue type biscuits, apricots and pistachio. It was absolutely incredible and I would completely recommend that you go to Rosa simply to try this. It was the perfect balance of sweet, with a subtle sharpness from the apricots and mellow nuttiness from the pistachio. In terms of texture, everything contrasted each other exquisitely, with the creamy panna cotta, gentle crunch from the biscuits, and extra bite for the pistachio and soft apricot. Every component was mouth wateringly delicious, and really showed off the skills of the talented chefs in the kitchen of Rosa Tapas.

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This blog post is in collaboration Rosa Tapas and Socialight App. However all views and opinions are my own.

Thank you so much to Socialight for the opportunity to review Rosa Tapas, and to the whole team at Rosa for the delicious food, amazing hospitality and wonderful evening. We will be back!