Breakfast

Brunch Club

Brunch Ox Club Leeds

A table full at Ox Club Leeds

What’s better than a Sunday morning brunch? Nothing, that’s what! Who doesn’t love that lazy and slightly fuzzy rise followed by plentiful portions and something strong to wash it all down? When it comes to the menu I’m not exclusively a pancake girl, a Prosecco guzzler or a granola fan, because for me variety is the spice of err… brunch. I love it all. Brunch is my bae. I just love brunch. 

Recently, mostly during Leeds Indie Food back in May, I’ve been blessed to enjoy some seriously delicious late morning meals. Mostly with Jen, my fun-loving brunch companion. Now I’ve got the little ones, I find a brunch break is a super convenient way to exercise my social skills. It’s much easier to leave them with their dad or my mother in law during the day because bedtime is a two man job, and I still get to drink! Wahey!

TO DIE FOR Cheddar Bacon Pancakes with Chipotle Maple Syrup, Green Chilli Mac n Cheese and Black Sauce Hot Wings at the Rita's pop-up at Ox Club during #LIF16 - with a glass of bubbly, of course.

TO DIE FOR Cheddar Bacon Pancakes with Chipotle Maple Syrup, Green Chilli Mac n Cheese and Black Sauce Hot Wings at the Rita’s pop-up at Ox Club during #LIF16 – with a glass of bubbly, of course.

Over the past few months we’ve snaffled a selection of exciting, indulgent plates at the Rita’s Ox Club pop-up, and we ate entirely plant-based at Izy Hossack and Noisette Bakehouse‘s In Defence of Plants (which Emma wrote about it full here). Unfortunately I missed out on BundoBrunch which saddens me greatly as Bundobust and Laynes Espresso are two of my ultimate faves. Last year, during #LIF15, I was lucky enough to get a spot at The Man Behind The Curtain x Laynes Espresso early sitting, where I ate, amongst other dishes, a “steak tartare” of watermelon with a mango “egg yolk” alongside a menu of matched coffees. It was easily one of the most creative dining experiences I’ve had – who said breakfast foods had to revolve around bacon, eh? … though in fairness I do love bacon.

Brunch at In Defense of Plants Izy Hossack Brunch

Oat pancakes, dill and potato waffles, granola, fruit salad and two Cherry Shrub fizzes at In Defense of Plants by Noisette Bakehouse and Izy Hossack at Sheaf Street Cafeteria during #LIF16

Nowadays if you’ve got yourself a hankering for a little avo on toast, you’ve never gotta look far. What a time to be alive! Here are the best spots in Leeds for a late morning pick-me-up:

Coffee and a Bloody Mary at Ox Club

Coffee and a Bloody Mary at Ox Club

Ox Club – Anywhere you can order steak before lunchtime is a winner in my book. Try the Steak & Cheddar Eggs, with meat charred on the custom 9ft grill that sits in the middle of their open kitchen, or go for Korean Fried Chicken with kimchi and wild rice. I fully endorse both, as well as the Corn Beef & Kale Hash and the Ricotta Pancakes. Don’t forget a Bloody Mary either. The simple decor is bright and breezy – a top setting to blow out the cobwebs from the night before, and afterwards you can pop upstairs to the roof terrace!

Those pancakes tho, at The Greedy Pig

Those pancakes tho, at The Greedy Pig

The Greedy Pig I’ve written about this gem before and I need to get back there asap. It’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure (a double buggy will do that to you) but they’ve since added multiple new strings to their bow with their evening service The Swine That Dines going strong and a whole new brunch menu. No better pancakes in the city (served with fried chicken – hubba hubba), plus a house black pudding that’ll knock your socks off. That house Merguez looks pretty great too… Not open on Sunday, so save your visit for a sneaky mid-week treat.

Deeelish seasonal pancakes at House of Koko

Deeelish seasonal pancakes at House of Koko

Killer_avo_on_toast__houseofkoko__new_to_Chapel_A._Packed_full_of_chilli__Gorgeous_shop_and_dreamy_soundtrack_too____

Killer Avo on Toast with plenty of chillies, plus a smoked salmon bagel at House of Koko

House of Koko – Tucked away at the heart of Chapel Allerton, House of Koko is a relatively new addition to the Leeds food and drink scene but man has it made its presence known. Try the avocado on toast, in its two different guises – the first piled high with chillies and pine nuts, the second with lemon, feta and spinach. Or go for any of the three options on their pancake menu, personally I like the classic with berries. Dip into their impressive tea menu for an unusual brew while you’re at it. 

Perfection on a plate - Avocado on sourdough with lemon and sumac at Laynes Espresso

Perfection on a plate – Avocado on sourdough with lemon and sumac at Laynes Espresso

My fave - Sweetcorn Fritters at Laynes Espresso

My fave

Laynes Espresso – When I’m going solo, Laynes is the brunch for me. Now serving at their original site on New Station Street, having handed the Sheaf Street Cafeteria reins over to The Grub & Grog Shop, it’s my favourite spot in town for a relaxed start to the day. Another top quality avocado on sourdough, this time with lemon and sumac, or there’s braised beans or one of the regularly changing seasonal specials. Basically, if you like Kasundi and duck eggs, you probably won’t leave disappointed. Served up alongside their top quality coffee too, obvs.

Happy brunching!

Smashed Avocado on Toast

Smashed Avocado on Toast with Chilli

Ah, that special moment when you find something good for you that actually tastes nice. As a slave to all things basted in butter and deep fried to oblivion, it’s rare that a “healthy option” provokes anything other than a suspicious side-eye from me. While not 100% skinny-minnie, what I had for brunch this Bank Holiday weekend was packed full of nutrients and had me feeling spritely afterwards, a far cry from that fry-up fugg that comes with crispy pork fat and your weight in carbs before 11am (OMG I love it tho). 

Brunch on the weekend always sounds great. Like, yeahhh I’ll just roll out of bed, open my bountiful fridge and whip up eggs, pancakes, or whatever I have for all the beautiful people in my home. In reality, the need for brunch usually accompanies a hangover, or at least a late night the night before, and you have to be super prepared and full of energy to get it done without killing someone (usually a long suffering other half). That’s where this recipe comes in. It ain’t rocket science. It takes 10 minutes from start to finish and if the ingredients aren’t things you’ve usually got in your fridge and cupboard, it’s a very short shopping list for the day before. 

Smashed Avocado on Toast with Chilli

Smashed Avocado on Toast with Chilli

I always have sourdough in the freezer. It originated because Matt and I can never get through a full loaf before it goes stale, and a back-up stash comes in pretty useful. I buy my sourdough from Leeds Bread Co-op via my neighbourhood coffee shop, and when I get it home, I slice the whole loaf and put half of it in the freezer. You can defrost it in the toaster no trouble, I find it just needs one and a half goes through the defrost setting otherwise you get a cold bit in the middle. It’s great for breadcrumbs too, instead of freezing in slices just blitz in a food processor and freeze in bags. Having a store of crumbs is really handy for dishes like meatballs, fishcakes and mac n cheese – making your weeknight meals so much easier.

To my avocado I add chillies, sunflower seeds and a squeeze of lime. Avocados can be delicious but as is they’re pretty bland, so they take buckets of salt and pepper – perfect for replenishing after a skinful of booze. Personally, I find that spice really helps my hangover so I load up on the hot stuff, sometimes adding a sprinkling of Tabasco too, but you can plus or minus chillies as you see fit. Here’s a bit more info on why this dish is good for you (great for diabetics):

  • Sourdough: easier to digest than normal bread, thanks to lactic acid. Low GI so causes fewer spikes in insulin production.
  • Avocados: monounsaturated oleic acid helps lower cholesterol. Rich in vitamin E, folate, potassium and dietary fibre. Great for skin and hair.
  • Chillies: packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and also capsaicin which does loads of good stuff, including lower cholesterol.
  • Sunflower Seeds: vitamin E helps cardiovascular health, magnesium helps muscles and nerves stay healthy and, yep you guessed it, sunflower seeds can also help reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Lime: keeps scurvy away like nothing else, also thought to be a “diabetic superfood” thanks to high levels of soluble fibre which helps regulate the bloodstream’s uptake of sugar.

Have I sold it yet? Follow the recipe below for a guilt-free, smug-face-inducing way to start your day.

Smashed Avocado with Chilli on Toast
Serves 2
A simple, healthy breakfast recipe with just a hint of spice.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Large Slices of Sourdough
  2. 2 Avocados
  3. 2 Red Chillis
  4. 1 tbsp Sunflower Seeds
  5. 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  6. 1 tsp Flaked Salt
  7. ½ tsp Black Pepper
  8. 1 Lime
  9. 2 Eggs (optional)
Instructions
  1. Scoop the avocados out of their skins and into a small bowl.
  2. Finely chop your chillies, removing the seeds, and add them to the bowl along with the flaked salt and black pepper.
  3. Put the sourdough in the toaster and while you wait, smash the bowl's contents together lightly with the back of a spoon.
  4. When they pop up, chop each slice of bread in two and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of smashed avocado mix onto each half slice and spread out, careful not to obliterate the chunky texture.
  6. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and douse with lime juice.
  7. Add a poached or fried egg on top if you fancy it.
whip until fluffy http://whipuntilfluffy.com/
Smashed Avocado on Toast with Chilli

The Greedy Pig

The Greedy Pig

Ox Tongue Rueben

To call something a “hidden gem”, to me, seems outrageously patronising. An assumption that you’re (YOU, that’s right!) too ignorant or uncool to know about it, or worse, that somehow the owners aren’t doing it right, that they’re not putting themselves out there. “Hidden gem” is not a phrase I ever intend to use to describe a place, but it seems to be the way many of Leeds’ food-loving types describe The Greedy Pig. Similar to Cafe Moor in the market until their successful stint in Trinity Kitchen, if you know then you know – smug faced and full bellied as you walk back to the office from your lunch break.

For me, The Greedy Pig is not a hidden gem. It’s very much out there, ready and waiting, clear as day. It’s something I’m keen to shout about as loud as I can. Just a gem, if you will. Of course, it’s true that sometimes for some, things just slip under the radar. That’s why I’m here, see – to help spread the word. And, if you’re not a regular, you’d be justified in saying that you never gave The Greedy Pig a second glance. It’s a little off the beaten track (North Street, just along from The Reliance) and I don’t think I’d offend anyone by saying that it seems little more than a greasy spoon cafe. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but give it a try and you’ll find there’s so much more on offer than breakfast and tea you can stand your spoon up in. A veritable treasure trove of nose-to-tail cooking, step beyond the (excellent) fry ups and stacks of American pancakes to find brisket burgers, tongue tacos, pressed sandwiches and ruebens to melt your face off.

What these guys do is labour intensive. They’re smoking their bacon, brining meat, simmering pans on the hob for hours, packing pies, rolling scotch eggs and baking an array of sweets. The service is always friendly and relaxed, it’s probably my favourite laid back brunch/lunch spot – somewhere Matt and I go on my way into the office, to catch up after he’s been on the road for a busy weekend. Sometimes they do events too, selling their deli items and nose-to-tail tapas. Next up, they want to start opening in the evenings. To do that, they need to fund an accessible toilet for their customers. So they’re running a Pie, Mash and Gravy night, tonight, to raise money. I’m going along, paying a fiver (excellent value, as always) and getting a rich, meaty pie and all the accompaniments in exchange – and hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to go in the evening again.

My main reason for writing this post, is not just for The Greedy Pig – a business I love and would like to show my support for – but to encourage all of you, no matter where you’re based, to show your favourite cafe, restaurant, shop or coffee spot some love. From someone who runs one, albeit not customer facing, life can be tough out there for an independent business, and just knowing it’s there and thinking that’s nice isn’t enough. Use it, visit, speak to the owners, recommend it to others. These amazing spots won’t be there if they don’t make enough money, so go in, eat well, pay for it, and tell everyone you know. 

The Greedy Pig, Leeds

Beef & Blue Burger with Twice Fried Chips

The Greedy Pig

Veggie Breakfast with Spicy Corn Bread

The Greedy Pig

American Pancakes with Greedy Pig Smoked Bacon

The Greedy Pig

If you’re in central Leeds tonight then go on, make the trip. The menu goes as follows (please note: despite all the offal on the menu, vegetarians aren’t ignored at The Greedy Pig):

1) Celariac, Barley & Shiitake.
2) Beef, Stout & Lentil.
3) Butternut, Chickpea & Spinach 
4) Rabbit, Fennel & Ham Hock.

The Greedy Pig 58 North St Leeds LS2 7PN | @the_greedy_pig @thegreedypigkitchen

The Blue Cheese, Bacon & Apple Wafflewich

Blue-Cheese-Bacon-Waffle-Sandwiches-11

I finally got a waffle iron. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and it turns out it is, officially, the best. But I didn’t want to go about my first foray into the waffle world the predictable way. Waffles and syrup are a delicious combo, for sure, but let’s be real: it’s the easy option. I wanted a challenge. I wanted to set the bar for the waffle game high. So when I made blue cheese, bacon and apple sandwiches for lunch this week, I swapped the bread for waffles. Turns out, this is life changing stuff.

Blue-Cheese-Bacon-Waffle-Sandwiches-3

Blue-Cheese-Bacon-Waffle-Sandwiches-4

All credit for this idea must go to Joy the Baker for bringing us Waffle BLTs with a side of ginger cat in May. They looked so delicious they’ve barely left my consciousness since I read the post. I used her recipe for my waffles with some tweaks – purely because I live in the UK and couldn’t get all of the ingredients. Sure, they’re mostly made up of standard stuff. Things like eggs, flour, baking powder, you know the drill. But obviously, the best waffles – just like the best pancakes – contain buttermilk. I used to be able to find it in my local Tesco, but then one day it disappeared from the shelf. I could make my own – buttermilk is a simple byproduct when you make your own butter, which I quite fancy doing, but haven’t got round to yet. So until then, I’ve been working on the perfect ratio of yogurt to milk to replace it in baking recipes. For me, it’s working well as four parts yogurt, one part semi-skimmed milk.

Blue-Cheese-Bacon-Waffle-Sandwiches-7

Blue-Cheese-Bacon-Waffle-Sandwiches-6

Once the waffle mix was made, it was time to talk fillings. Breakfast foods are nothing without crispy, salty pork fat, so naturally bacon was a clear match. Streaky and smoked, please! Baked on a sheet in a 175º oven until dark and glistening. Blue cheese adds some creamy sharpness, while apple brings tartness and crunch. Squeeze over some maple syrup and you’ve got a party.

The warmth of the freshly made waffles brings the fillings together in a series of gooey, squidgy mouthfuls, and I could’ve eaten eight of these in one sitting. Cut them into quarters and devour around the breakfast table with friends, with no one speaking a word. I spent last night out in Manchester with three of my best lady pals, and I plan on making a large pile of these tonight to banish the hangover I’m nursing from one too many Zombie cocktails at the tiki bar.

Blue-Cheese-Bacon-Waffle-Sandwiches-8

Blue Cheese, Bacon & Apple Wafflewiches (makes 8 waffles or 4 sandwiches)

nb. my first batch of waffles had to sit around a bit, and as a results weren’t as fluffy when it came to eating them. Learn from my mistake and don’t even switch that waffle maker on to heat up before you have all your fillings prepped.

Preparation and Cook Time: 15-20 minutes all in

Waffles adapted from Joy the Baker:
180g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp Granulated Sugar
50g  Unsalted Butter, melted
2 Eggs
230ml Yogurt
70ml Semi-Skimmed Milk

For the filling:
150g Gorgonzola Cheese
12 Rashers of Streaky, Smoked Bacon
1 Apple
50ml Maple Syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 175ºc and place your bacon on a baking sheet with a rim, lined with foil. While the oven heats up, crumble your gorgonzola. Slide the bacon into the oven and set the timer for 14 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, mix all of your dry waffle ingredients. In another bowl, mix your wet ingredients. All at once, add the wet to the dry and mix with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Don’t beat the life out of it, you want a few lumps left so nice big bubbles form as they cook and you have a light, fluffy waffle.

3. Leave your mix to thicken as your waffle iron heats up. By the time the iron is ready, the mix will be super thick with bubbles already forming. Cook according to your waffle iron’s instructions. When they’re done (mine took 2 and a half minutes each), remove from the iron and place on a wire rack – this will prevent unwanted sogginess and create ultimate crunch. Repeat until you’ve cooked the whole batch.

4. Remove the bacon from the oven, leave to drain for a minute on kitchen paper. Slice the apple and then assemble your sandwiches. I went for cheese first, smooshed into waffle number 1 with a fork, bacon next, then 4 slices of crisp Granny Smith, drizzled with maple syrup. Take a big bite. Heavenly.

Blue-Cheese-Bacon-Waffle-Sandwiches-10

Blue-Cheese-Bacon-Waffle-Sandwiches-9

Courgette & Yogurt Loaves: a Recipe for The Yogurt Council

Courgette-&-Yogurt-Loaves--4

A few weeks ago, something quite exciting happened. I won a competition! Love Yogurt were looking for an official “Yogurt Stylist” to work with them on a few recipes as part of Yogurt Week. It was easy to enter – just upload a pic of your favourite recipe including yogurt for a chance to win. I did that, and after being shortlisted due to my Instagram likes (big thanks to all of you for following and liking my pictures – I really appreciate it), my shot was plucked from the other nine finalists by a couple of expert judges: Jo Sweetman, top nutritionist and advisor to many of the UK’s biggest food brands, and Karen Burns-Booth – food writer, blogger, recipe developer and food stylist extrordinaire who runs Lavender and Lovage.

I like courgette bread. I’ve been making it a lot over the past year or so, so my recipe for the competition was easy to come up with. It’s a much more nutritious way to consume baked goods than a sandwich loaf or a cupcake, it tastes really good, and the vegetable content means it stays moist too. I’ve tried it lots of different ways, but this recipe is the one I’ve settled on. The pecans and sunflower seeds give it an extra bit of bite and the spices provide a subtle warmth. In baking, I think yogurt really comes into its own. I use it a lot in place of buttermilk in recipes – since that isn’t easily obtainable here in the UK. Yogurt adds a tangy freshness and makes for a really soft, light crumb. What I like most about these loaves is the way they rise – giving you that perfect, golden dome bakers everywhere long for.

Courgette-&-Yogurt-Loaves--3

The image above is the competition winner. I chose to keep things simple and according to feedback, that’s why the judges chose me. They liked that the recipe was clear and achievable for even novice bakers, and that my photos were styled in a clean and honest way. The recipe is simple – completed in little over 30 minutes, and the loaves will last for around five days in a sealed container.

Courgette & Yogurt Loaves (makes 6 small loaves)

nb. If you don’t have small loaf tins you can use one large loaf tin and enjoy in slices, or you can split the mix into 12 and use a muffin tin for smaller, snackable bites.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

120g plain flour
120g wholemeal flour
140g courgette, grated
2 large eggs
125ml natural yoghurt
100ml vegetable oil
30g pecans, chopped
20g sunflower seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, together with the vegetable oil, yogurt and vanilla.

3. Drop in the grated courgette and set aside.

4. In another large bowl, combine all dry ingredients except the pecans and sunflower 
seeds.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture about a quarter at a time until a batter forms.

6. Fold in the chopped pecans and sunflower seeds.

7. Grease your loaf tins and divide the batter between them.

8. Place in the oven and bake for 18-22 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown.

9. Leave to cool and enjoy plain or spread with butter.

Courgette-&-Yogurt-Loaves--1

I’m pretty chuffed with my win. I’ve been putting a lot of work into my styling and photography over the past few months – trying to post quality over quantity, with really top notch images. That’s mainly because those are the type of posts I enjoy reading on other blogs. It’s nice to get confirmation that it’s paying off! I’ve had a lot of feedback recently from you guys, telling me that you like my photos and I really appreciate it – thank you. Hopefully I can keep improving.

As for the prizes, I won £1000 prize money (!!) which I intend to plunge right back into the blog. I’ve bought a new 50mm camera lens so I can capture higher quality images, and I’ve invested in some cooking equipment to bring some more diverse recipes to Whip Until Fluffy. Those of you who know me will know that my ambition is to integrate food styling into my day job, so this is a real boost to morale and a very welcome surge of funds. I also won a trip to the South of France to take part in an edible food styling masterclass with Karen of Lavender and Lovage at her home there. I’ve just had the date confirmed and I’m so excited to be going – I can’t wait to pick up new skills, travel and take advantage of a fantastic opportunity to do the thing that I love with someone I can learn a lot from. On top of those prizes, I now hold the title of Official Yogurt Stylist for 2014, which means I am working with The Yogurt Council to come up with more recipes to really show how versatile and tasty yogurt can be.

Want to take a look at my competition? Browse the #YogurtStylist tag on Instagram to see what I was up against – the competition was stiff #humblebrag. Runners up include @me_and_orla who runs the beautiful Me and Orla blog, @kateveggiedesserts who makes amazing cakes and sweet dishes from all kinds of veg at Veggie Desserts, @sylviahappiness who writes at Happiness is Homemade, and @eat_your_veg who caters for the little ones over at Eat Your Veg. All gorgeous entries well deserving of the prize – it’s genuinely such a pleasure for me to be counted side by side with them.

Courgette-&-Yogurt-Loaves--2

I’ll be reporting back on my adventures over the summer as well as sharing the links to the recipes that I write for The Yogurt Council, so you can look forward to lots of content from me over the coming months. And in conclusion, thank you. For reading, commenting, liking and sharing. I really appreciate every single person who reads my blog and I value your feedback, so drop me a note down in the comments or over on Twitter @whipuntilfluffy to say hi. Follow The Yogurt Council over at @LoveYogurtUK on Twitter and @LoveYogurtUK on Instagram.

You can now also Like my page over on Facebook if you fancy it – find me at Whip Until Fluffy.

Filmore & Union, Leeds

Filmore & Union, Leeds

I can’t lie, health conscious food is not something I usually look for when I’m dining out. Meals out are generally a treat, something I don’t eat at home and, let’s face it, preferably something fried. I know I know, that’s not the right attitude. But sadly, a carb lover never changes her spots. However, being a diabetic, my choices are often limited, so I appreciate that something of a food haven exists for those with dietary requirements, and that a diet-savvy alternative is there for those who want to dine out without fearing the calorie intake.

About two weeks ago I had lunch at Filmore & Union in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds City Centre. It’s kind of an odd spot. A cluster of tables sectioned off in the middle of a shopping centre, albeit a beautiful and upmarket one, the design of the place is modern and rustic. It’s gorgeous but it’s not an obvious lunch choice, especially on such a cold and blustery day in January. Arriving with hands bundled in pockets, I was pleased to see patio heaters belting out waves of warmth, with an army of fluffy throws on the backs of chairs, perfect for covering chilly knees. Obviously this kind of venue will flourish in the summer, but I snuggled up and within 5 minutes I’d already forgotten the draft. The environment was relaxed, some customers sipping on tea, others tucking in for 2 courses. The restaurant manages to be airy, open and light but without being loud. Holding a conversation across a table was easy, unlike a lot of shopping centre eateries, and the presence of other diners and wait staff was unobtrusive.

Filmore & Union, Leeds

Filmore & Union, Leeds

We started with juices. Just the menu itself is a pretty good read, packed full of seasonal information and health tips plus information on the brand’s philosophy. Eat Clean, Eat Pure is the idea. To your smoothie or juice, you can add loads of healthy boosters including chia seeds, echinacea and vanilla whey protein powder, depending on what you’re in the market for. I opted for the Joluxe Immune Booster (£3.75)  juice. It’s made up of blended yellow pepper, carrot, ginger and orange. I topped it off with an Aloe Vera shot (£2) for an added kick up the immune system’s backside. Aloe Vera is a super healer, they say, great for digestion.

Now I’m not big on fruit, I’m a naturally savoury person, so I was interested in trying something vegetable heavy. The juice was zingy, tangy, it seriously sang inside my mouth. I genuinely felt shaken up after I drank it, more alert and productive for the few hours that followed. Plus it left none of the sticky aftertaste I dislike from packaged juices. The best thing about it was purely how orange it was, a great change from the dull greens and browns I usually associate with juices and smoothies. Lauren’s smoothie, Super Antioxidant (£4.95) was packed with strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, apple, mint leaves and coconut water. Jen went for the Raw Choco Fix (also £4.95), made from almond milk, raw cacao, raw cashews, banana and agave syrup. It was weirdly chocolate bar like, but with none of the sickly, cloying characteristics. Healthy and indulgent at the same time! None of the three drinks we tried were overly sweet or filling, which contrasts with the juice bar experiences I’ve had before. They felt clean, simple and fresh.

Filmore & Union, Leeds

For my main I went for an Open Steak Bagel with Sweet Onions, Tomato Salsa and Tzatziki (£12.95). The steak was cooked perfectly, pink in the middle and with a charred crust. There was barely a chew to it and loads of fresh, juicy crunch from the salsa. I was pleased with the generous portions, wrongly thinking eating healthy meant eating small, the bagel came piled high. On the whole, I enjoyed it, my only criticism is that the dish was a little sweet. The sweet potato and caraway chips promised a bit of spice but I couldn’t taste the caraway and I didn’t really think they were necessary, they left a sweet aftertaste I could’ve done without, with no crunch or heat to balance them. The salsa, onions and tzatziki were all very good, but without something spicy or sharp to cut through it the bagel fell just short of full marks. I’d have preferred it with a small side salad or slaw, and maybe a slick  of wholegrain mustard on its lid. My second choice would’ve been what Lauren ate, the Asian Smoked Salmon & Sweet Potato Fishcakes (£10.95). Again a generous portion, two round fishcakes sat atop curly kale and orange segments, with pomegranates and almonds dotted in. The dish was an absolute beauty.

The ingredients in all our mains were clearly so fresh, their colours jumped off the white background. Obviously nothing had been sitting around, there wasn’t a wilted leaf or past-best vegetable in sight. They looked, shock horror, like they’d been pulled right from the ground. Imagine that! The 100% Fresh, 100% Natural produce is a huge part of what Filmore & Union are offering and for me that’s a massive plus. They make a point to source their ingredients from the local area, so there’s every chance your lunch has come from ground to plate within hours.

Filmore & Union, Leeds

Filmore & Union, Leeds

We finished off with dessert, of course. I have never seen so many beautiful but virtuous looking cakes in one place at one time. The counter was overflowing with platters and cake stands offering everything from a gluten free lemon & polenta cake to a vegan chocolate and blackberry cake. It looked good. Like, the kind of good where there’s absolutely no guilt to come from ordering a pudding. It feels like it’s actually the right thing to do. The whole menu obviously caters fantastically for those with dietary requirements and the cakes really don’t disappoint, with more range than I’ve ever seen before. I opted for a Banana, Oat and Flaxseed Muffin (£3.75). There are a lot of oats in my diet for their low GI credentials (again, the diabetic thing), keeping blood sugars level without the peaks and troughs that simple carbs can bring, something that the whole F&U menu boasts. The muffin was a good way to round off the meal, it was fluffy, and came with a deep, nutty texture you don’t find in mass-products desserts in chain coffee shops and cafes. I loved it and I will go back for it again, maybe to take out for breakfast on my way to work. The other desserts our table ordered looked scrumptious, without fail. Even the giant Granola Bar (£3.95) got me salivating. It was so interesting to see a sweet menu really come alive with unusual ingredients, not a nasty in sight. Plus, every dessert comes with a little pot of natural yoghurt and a few berries. A lovely little touch, as if your halo could shine any brighter.

Filmore & Union, Leeds

It was lovely to go back to work without the hangover from a too-large lunch. So many times I’ve come a cropper to grabbing something too heavy in my lunch hour, giving me a headache and having me snoozing at my desk all afternoon long, to-do list forgotten. It’s good to know that you can eat a great meal and leave with a spring in your step, without the threat of the inevitable sugar come down. I’d really recommend Filmore & Union to those looking for not just low cal or carb, but a nourishing, nutritious option for lunchtimes, breakfasts or early evenings. For me, it’s probably best as a brunch spot. They have a great bagel menu, plus muesli, porridge, granola and more. They have a good range of teas and organic coffees, and I’ve already waxed lyrical about the healing power of the juices. It’s also an ideal fit for its environment. The Victoria Quarter is beautiful, with a huge sky light, amazing architecture and luxury stores. F&U is a great pitstop to rest your aching feet, or a great place to drop off anyone who’s holding you back. Got a husband dragging his feet? A nagging teenager? Leave them here, there’s free wifi. The prices are, I think, slightly high. So just bear that in mind when you’re adding extra shots to your smoothie.

I think it’s also important to add that the staff were incredibly knowledgeable about the menu. They answered all our questions, made some great recommendations and really had me feeling like I was in safe hands. If you’re gluten free or vegan, lactose intolerant or allergic to anything, you can really put your confidence in this lot and you won’t leave unhappy.

If you eat clean or you’re trying to be good, you’re going to love this place. If you’re partial to a chicken nugget… maybe not, but give it a go, it might change your life! I haven’t been converted, I’m afraid I’m too devoted to burgers, but I am interested in trying more. Open to eat in and take out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 8am-7pm, Thursday 8am – 8pm, Sunday 9am-6pm.

Filmore & Union Restaurant and Express Bar Victoria Quarter Leeds LS1 6AZ | @FilmoreandUnion

Disclaimer: The Victoria Quarter invited me down to try Filmore & Union free of charge. That has had no effect whatsoever on my opinion. All honesty here, friends.

 

Overnight Oats: 2 Ways

Overnight Oats

Let’s start from the beginning. I never thought I’d be an oats for breakfast kind of a gal. My dad tried relentlessly for years, but porridge was never really for me. There was always something about the warmth of it, mixed with a weird, wallpaper-paste texture I just couldn’t stomach. And, of course, my parents didn’t believe in adding sweetness to anything when I was a kid, so bowls of soggy oats were always just that… soggy oats. Now I’m a grown up and I can mix fruit, honey, jam, goshdarnit even chocolate, into my oats, I thought I’d give them another go.

So, at the start of this month I resolved to take breakfast into work with me. I’m a terrible breakfast-dodger. And when I do it, let’s be honest, it’s usually pastry. In a bid to banish hunger and to eat less for lunch and throughout the day in general. I started filling the new Ball Quilted Jars I got for Christmas with natural yoghurt, a small layer of rolled oats and then topping them with some frozen berries. It seemed healthy and cost effective, best of all it tasted nice! After a few days I started toying with the idea of tarting it up a bit, and having read what seems like 101 recipes for overnight oats, I rustled some up one night. The rest is history.

Real talk: these oats take less than five minutes, they sit in the fridge overnight and you can just grab em on your way out of the door. Great for eating at your desk, or hell, even on the bus. They mostly contain ingredients that don’t need to be fresh (I use frozen fruit, generally) so you don’t even need to be that organised. They can be varied in so many ways you’ll likely never get bored. If you’re not great at diary, switch for almond milk. Guys, there is literally no excuse. Never is a day without breakfast to be seen again! Plus, get yourself some jars and COME ON your breakfast has never looked so cute. Totes adorbs. Get decent quality (the kind with lids that seal, Kilner will do nicely) and you can cart them around willy-nilly. Not a spill in sight! And if jars aren’t your thing, no biggie, tupperware will be fine. Just pick something that seals tightly.

NB I am by no means the inventor of these recipes. These are simply my favourites, tweaked from the hundreds on Pinterest; the ones I’ve been turning to again and again throughout January. Give them a go! Make sure you report back on what you think. Got a recipe you love? Share it!

OvernightOats4

Raspberry Coconut Overnight Oats – this one is fruity, almost tropical. A nice change from the creaminess of regular milk. I find it to be an energising and fresh way to start my morning.

1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1/4 Cup Berries (I use frozen mixed berries, but you can use fresh)
1 Tsp Light Brown Sugar

1. Go ahead and pop your oats in the jar. Place the berries on top. Sprinkle your brown sugar on top of them. You could also use honey in place of the sugar – one large squidge from a squeezy bottle should do it.

2. Pour your milk on top of your layered ingredients. Half a cup or to the top of your jar, whatever comes first. It’s worth taking this slowly, wait for the milk to soak through for a few seconds, those guys are absorbent!

3. Screw your lid on tightly. Give it a shake. If you use frozen berries your milk will turn pink – pretty! Pop it in the fridge and don’t come back until morning.

OvernightOats6

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats – great for those cold mornings, the spice adds something comforting. You can also warm this one up if you fancied!

1/3 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 Banana, mashed
1/2 Apple, diced
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp Ground Almonds
1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1. Pop your oats in. Pile on the mashed banana, this gives the oats a lovely silky feel. Chuck in the ground almonds and cinnamon and stir it up.

2. Throw in your diced apple and then top with milk. Screw the lid on tight and shake it up.

3. Pop it in the fridge. When you serve up, sprinkle a little cinnamon on the top. Yum!

Overnight Oats

Original Fry Up Material: Burger Edition

Original Fry Up Material

Last week, friends, I ate three burgers in six days. Let me tell you about it.

Original Fry Up Material turned up at the December changeover of Trinity Kitchen. They’re currently mid-way through a double stint, which means they’re here until February 23rd. Obviously, their main shtick is breakfast. In their own words “ace all-day and on-the-go breakfasts inspired by our respect for the great British fry up with a little soul and celebration of brunch culture from across the pond” (KERB). I’ll tell you now, I’m yet to taste the AM offerings. But I do have a date lined up next week, so don’t panic. I’ll report back.

Original Fry Up Material

So OFM also serve burgers. There are four on offer. The Cheesy and The Veggie come in at £6. The Sweetsmoke and The Bacon Blue, more specialist if you will, come in a little pricier at £7.50. I’ve had a Sweetsmoke, and the Bacon Blue…twice. I’m a devil for that blue, let me tell ya. Late last year, I touched on my criteria for a winning burger in my review of RARE. Let’s not beat around the bush here. Both the texture and taste of the Bacon Blue were eye-rollingly, heart-singingly perfect. I am genuinely salivating just thinking about it. I don’t take perfection lightly – burgers are some srs bznz, after all, and everyone is different. I have friends, for example, who turn a bit pale at the idea of a burger being pink in the middle. Some folk may look for a bit more structure. Some prefer a crustier bun. You get my point. That’s cool. But for me… man. This is it.

Original Fry Up Material SweetSmoke Burger

Original Fry Up Material Bacon Blue Burger

Everything is buttery soft, with gloriously caramalised edges to add a bit of chew without having to do any real work. The bun is a pillowy brioche with a gleaming, glazed dome that collapses in your hands as you chomp. The meat is packed loosely and it’s juicy. Pink, but not in a scary way. So juicy, in fact, that it’s hard to get through the whole burger without it disintegrating in your hands. On our first visit, my friend ate the second half of hers with a knife and fork. She is quite a classy lady, but still, this was necessity not choice. Juice ran down our chins, melted cheese dripped down our fingers, we all shut up.

I love this burger. So much. I thought it might be a fluke, so I went back. You know, just to test. IT WAS THE SAME, GUYS.

Original Fry Up Material

I think the Bacon Blue is the best burger I have ever eaten. The Sweetsmoke is good, but a little sickly for me. Still 10x better than 90% of the other burgers I’ve eaten, though. The title of my best burger is perhaps contested by a small joint in Seattle called Lil’ Woody’s. Classic burgers, served on their lonesome without meal deals and pointless garnishes, just wrapped in wax coated paper and served in a red plastic basket. One of the best single mouthfuls I ate during our 3 week long gastronomic adventure across the Atlantic last September. OFM’s offering is not dissimilar in attitude. The only side on the menu is chips. As much as I love onion rings, fried pickles and all that jazz (and trust me, I really do) that simple choice signifies that they have their priorities where they should be, with the burgers. I’ve heard complaints that the chips are too salty. For me they’re just fine, delicious in fact, but I’m a chronic over-seasoner. If you’re touchy about your salt, ask them to go easy. It’s also worth noting that the produce used to make everything on OFM’s menu while they’re in Leeds is 100% self-sourced from Yorkshire. There’s also an OFM “FryPA” on offer for all those after a craft beer, made in partnership with The Great Yorkshire Brewery. What more could you ask for? Well… the staff dress like quirky butchers. Just sayin’.

Original Fry Up Material

Original Fry Up Material

Now, coming in at a similar price to local competitors Reds True Barbecue and Nation of Shopkeepers, I do think OFM is a little expensive. £10 for a burger with chips is a restaurant price for a meal in a place which is no doubt cool, but still undeniably a food court. Having said that, I understand that something is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. And I am definitely willing to pay for it. I spent £22.50 on burgers last week alone, which is retrospectively maybe a little bonkers. It does prove though that I think they’re worth the buck. There are ways to cut corners, chips are £2.50 but the portion is huge. My friends and I fell into the trap on our first visit of buying a portion each but you can happily share.

In short, get your wallets out and grab ’em quick. These burgers are only here for another month and if, like me, you plan to get at least five in before they go, you’re going to have to get a move on.

Original Fry Up Material Trinity Kitchen Trinity Leeds Albion Street Leeds LS1 5AT | @OFMLondon

Sweet Potato Hash with a Fried Egg

SPH7

Brunch is nice. It’s like breakfast, but also like lunch. It’s great on Sundays. You can have it out, you can cook it yourself. It’s very flexible. Brunch is nice.

I’m partial to a bacon sandwich.I like a full english too, but sometimes I just want to do things a little differently. In America the massive breakfasts are always my favourite meal. The concept of “Home Fries” makes me very happy. Potatoes? Fried? For breakfast? Winner. So last weekend I wanted to do a different take on the whole home fries thing, make it more seasonal and maybe spice it up a little. Sweet Potato Hash is what came of my adventure.

Number one, sweet potatoes are great. High in fibre, relatively low in carbs and deeeeelicious. In Autumn I tend to use them a lot, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas time when they’re featured on every food blog around the web. If you’re a hater, this would work fine with normal potatoes too (Charlotte, probably) but the sweetness with the spice works really well here and creates a lovely balance. Number two, there’s a meat element here but there doesn’t haven’t to be. If you’re a veggie, just take that meat out and maybe add some green peppers or aubergine (mushrooms are the devil’s work so don’t even talk to me about that. I’m told it would probably work but I just don’t want to hear it, alright?). My original idea for this was to use lardons or pancetta, but alas the cupboard was bare. Instead I chopped up some leftover pork sausages and chucked them in. The char on the fatty meat is the best. Just use whatever meat you got!

You can fashion this dish to whatever suits your needs. I like it hot so I used 2 whole chillis and a good, thick paste of spices. Tone it down if you like, but I think the spiciness is all part of the fun. Alternatively, you could whack a little sour cream on the side to cool things down. Just tart the creamy stuff up with a little salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped parsley. For toast, you can bake your own bread if you’re feeling flash. I bet you’ll feel very accomplished. But let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got time for that on a Sunday morning. Pick up a good loaf from your local baker or supermarket. The crustier the better. Sliced white won’t cut it here.

I’d make this dish again in a heartbeat, in fact, I may well make it tomorrow. It’s a different take on a traditional brunch and has an rooty, warming flavour ideal for this kind of year. Get your brunch on!

SPH5

Ingredients (makes 2 generous portions)

1 Onion, diced
1 Large Sweet Potato, cubed
1/2 Cup of Chopped Sausages or Bacon (whatever you have)
2 Cloves of Garlic, thinly sliced
2 Birds Eye Chillis, diced
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
Salt to taste (I used approx 1 tsp)

2 Eggs
4 Slices of Crusty Bread
Chopped Parsley to Garnish

Method

1. Once you’ve done all your chopping, get the onion in a frying pan over a medium heat with a tsp of oil (I used a light olive). We want to brown these guys not just soften them, so don’t be tempted to turn the heat to low. After five minutes, add in the garlic and the chillis. Keep it moving and keep an eye on it, we want the edges to catch but we don’t want to burn it to a crisp. You want to add the garlic to the pan after the onions are already partially cooked as garlic needs far less cooking time and can turn bitter. This way your slices will be browned and chewy upon plating up, not burnt.

2. Throw in the meat and cook for five minutes. The edges should be turning brown when you add the sweet potato. Turn the heat down to low and leave for five more minutes. When everything but the potatoes are starting to form a crust (they’ll look a little anaemic – it’s ok), throw in the spices and mix to coat all the ingredients in the pan. Pour in half a cup of tap water, turn the heat up to medium-high and cover with whatever you can find. As long as there’s some steam circulating you’ll be fine, no need to worry about a perfect fit.

3. After ten minutes remove your lid. The water should have reduced to a paste and the potatoes should be starting to get tender. If a few bits look black, no worries, the char only adds to the flavour. At this point, use your judgement. If your potatoes are still solid, add some more water and recover for a little while longer. If they’re just a little hard in the middle, keep them over the heat for another few minutes until a fork goes through easily. Season with a sprinkle of salt.

4. When the potatoes are soft in the centre, make two gaps at the edge of your pan for the eggs. Crack them in and leave to cook for approx 4 minutes. They’ll be done when the edges start curling up from the pan. While they’re frying, toast your 4 slices of bread. Pile them on 2 plates and drizzle with olive oil. Carefully remove your potatoes from the pan and spoon them on top of the toast. Then use a fish slice to place your egg on top. Sprinkle with a little more salt and some chopped parsley. Serve alongside a little bottle of Tabasco.

SPH8