Recipe Review: BBC Good Food’s Red Thai Salmon Curry

My first attempt - easy peasy and delicious!

This recipe is one of the easiest things I have ever cooked in my life. If you’re often pushed for time but like eating great food or if you’re entertaining guests but aren’t the best chef in the world then this recipe will become a lifesaver. It tastes far more impressive than you’d think given how quick and effortless it is to make.

The only thing that might catch you out is that you may need to experiment a few times with the amount of curry paste you put in. The first time I made this I didn’t put enough in, but the next time I doubled the amount and it was perfect. Red curry pastes vary hugely in how spicy they are so I’d recommend finding a brand you like and getting used to how much to add. I bought Gang Ped Red Curry Paste from Taj in Brighton which isn’t particularly hot – I found about 4-5 teaspoons was enough, without being blow-your-head off spicy.

Another tip is to steam the green beans for a couple of minutes before adding them to the sauce as I’ve found that the salmon ends up overcooking before the beans are tender enough.

Now, I’m no expert, but if you’re looking to pair this dish with a wine, I thought it went very well with one of my personal favourites – the Kiwi Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc which is available at ASDA and Sainsbury’s for about £5.99.

Qype: In Vino Veritas in Brighton

BrightonEating & DrinkingRestaurants

This place is absolutely fantastic. If you’ve got a fair bit of cash to splash and are after a really top-notch meal then you’ve got to get yourself to In Vino Veritas. I came here for the first time last month with my friends from Elwood Wines and had what was probably the best meal I have ever eaten in Brighton.

Determined to stuff ourselves silly, we started in the bar area with the Tapas/Canape menu which included the most delicious charcuterie plate, king prawns and deep fried mozzarella (£3.95 each) along with our first bottle of wine – I think it was the Hoher Rain, Gruner Veltliner, Geyerhof (£34). Not usually to my taste (a little oaky), but a great accompaniment to the cured meats and seafood.

After this fabulous appetizer, we moved up the spiral staircase to the restaurant area. I started with the Seared Scallops (£7.85) – which were deliciously buttery and cooked to absolute perfection – before moving onto one of my favourite dishes: Rib Eye Steak with Pommes Frites and Green Peppercorn Sauce (£16.75). Divine.

Far too full for real dessert, we ended the meal in the most perfect way – with a strong, creamy liqueur coffee. After four courses and as many bottles of wine (not all to myself, I hasten to add) I felt thoroughly satisfied. Although it would take months, perhaps even years, to work through their incredibly extensive wine list I can’t wait to go back again and start trying.

Check out my review of In Vino Veritas – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: The Lanes Health & Beauty in Brighton

BrightonHealth & BeautyBeauty & WellnessBeauty Salons

Standing in complete antithesis to the calming atmosphere, plinky-plonky music and herbal tea of The Treatment Rooms, The Lanes Health and Beauty offers a young and funky atmosphere reminiscent of the image of beauty salons I gained from watching far too many chick flicks at a young age.

Decorated in cool black and hot pink, the decor is 90s-chic without being cheesy. The staff are generally very smiley and always look glamorous – like they’ve stepped right out of the cast of Hollyoaks. In a good way.

I went here recently with Saltatrix for a pedicure which could not have been more different from my serene, calming and private experience at The Treatment Rooms. Rather than a place to go when you feel like relaxing with a bit of “me time”, this is the ideal spot for a pedicure with one of your girlfriends as part of a shopping trip – huge, American-style, black leather pedicure chairs (with massage function), built-in foot spas, funky coloured nail polish (I went for the bright blue) and most importantly, a glass of Buck’s Fizz (which, let’s be honest, it’s NEVER too early in the day for). The £32 for the Spa Pedicure is SO worth it.

Check out my review of The Lanes Health & Beauty – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Recipe Review: Elwood Wines Olive Cake (a Recipe from Bordeaux)

Olive cake, fresh from the oven and smelling gorgeous

When Elwood Wines held their Wine Challenge at the Blaker’s Park Picnic in June this year, they were serving their wines alongside the most delicious looking bread which, being wheat intolerant, I wasn’t able to sample on the day. So, on discovering that they had uploaded the recipe to their website I absolutely had to give it a go – gluten-free style.

More like a “savoury cake” than a loaf of bread, there’s no kneading, no leaving to rise and no fiddling about with yeast and hot water necessary – my favourite kind of baking. And the end result? A delicious, savoury, cheesy, crumbly delight that makes the ideal late-night self-indulgent supper. So here it is: the Elwood Wines Olive Cake.

First, measure out 250g self raising flour (I tend to use Dove’s Farm Gluten & Wheat Free Self Raising White Flour) and, using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in 4 free-range eggs (use large ones – medium ones don’t give you quite enough liquid). Once the flour and eggs are thoroughly blended together, add a 175ml glass of dry white wine and half a glass of extra virgin olive oil. Using a whisk, beat into the egg and flour mix until you get rid of all the lumps.

Next add to the mixture 200g pitted sliced black olives (you can buy them already sliced – which saves a LOT of time), 200g cubed ham or lardons (cooked, not raw – I fried the lardons in a small amount of olive oil) and 200g grated cheese (make sure you use a hard cheese like gruyere, edam, cheddar or emmental).

Stir these in quickly and poor all of the mixture into a lined loaf tin. A word of warning though – I used a 1lb loaf tin greased with olive oil, but the loaf didn’t hold together too well. I’m not sure if it was because of the depth of the tin, or because of the lack of gluten in the flour, but I think that a flatter tin (perhaps roasting tin) lined with greased baking parchment would be better. That’s what I’ll be using next time.

Anyway, back to the recipe. Place in the centre of a pre-heated oven (200°c/400°F/Gas mark 6) and cook for 60 minutes.

Freshly baked Olive Cake #nomnomnom

Once cooked, cut into cubes or slices and serve with red or white wine. I would recommend the Cotes du Rhone 1er Cote 2007, La Ferme du Mont (£9 per bottle/£54 per case) or the Fairtrade Thandi Sauvignon/Semillon 2009, Thandi, South Africa (£6.75 per bottle/£40.50 per case) – both are available from Elwood Wines.

Sex and the City 2: Trashy, sexy, funny… and just a little bit racist?

**SPOILER ALERT**

Last night – like millions other women – I got dolled up, went out for dinner, drank a few cocktails and headed to my local cinema to watch the eagerly anticipated Sex and the City 2. As much as I was so desperate to love it, so desperate to emerge from the cinema in floods of happy tears feeling empowered and sexy, I just felt more than a little bit bemused…

For the first hour, the film had every promise of being even better than the first one. Samantha was on top form, popping hormone pills left, right and centre; Charlotte’s perfectly polished exterior was gradually cracking due to a permanently screaming child; inevitable tensions were beginning to emerge in Carrie and Big’s marriage; and Miranda was sliding back into her crazy workaholic personality that drove Steve to have his affair in the first movie… Oh, and Liza Minelli performed Beyonce’s Single Ladies at the gay wedding of the century. Utterly genius. I could feel myself being drawn in at an unstoppable pace, luxuriously enjoying the most self-indulgent chick-flick ever.

Then, it all just went wrong for me.

In some bizarre twist, Samantha was given an all-expenses paid holiday to Abu Dhabi by a wealthy hotel owner/film-maker. Again, for the first 20 minutes of their holiday, this all seemed an incredible stroke of genius, where else to put these four impossibly glamorous women than amongst gorgeous desert scenery, luxuriously decorated surroundings and in suitably ludicrous outfits?

That was before it all declined into a slightly racist farce.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an open-minded kind of gal who enjoys edgy, borderline-offensive comedy as much as the next person. But this movie just went a step too far for me, coming across as a depiction of four ignorant forty-somethings outrageously voicing their prejudices by making some incredibly rude assumptions about women in burkhas and other traditions of middle-Eastern countries. It wasn’t even done in a satirical way – Carrie genuinely seemed to think that a woman lifting her veil to eat french fries was something that should have been in a zoo. That made me a little uncomfortable, I don’t know about anyone else. At least I think it made me uncomfortable… or was I spectacularly missing something?

Another distinctly cringe-inducing element for me was the fact that Samantha seemed to turn from the outrageous, sex-obsessed woman that we all know and love into a mutton-dressed-as-lamb, menopausal, nymphomaniacial banshee. Of course, this led to her being arrested, which bizarrely led to her having the most frightening condom-waving breakdown in the middle of a marketplace.

There were, to give the trashy chick-flick its due, some incredibly funny and touching moments such as Charlotte and Miranda’s heartfelt mum-to-mum exchange, Carrie and Big’s tearful make-up and Stanford and Anthony’s wedding vows, just to name my personal favourites. I just can’t help but feel that over all it tried far too hard to better the first movie, which was wonderful in its simplicity just like the television series. I wish they’d all just stayed in New York where their personalities actually belong.