Sunday, 13 August 2017

Dinner at Muse...

I enjoy going to restaurants in an area I have not visited before, so this week I was happy to dine at Muse*, a bar and eatery which is located in the pretty village of Uppermill in Greater Manchester. Muse is owned by the actor Rob Norbury and the venture is set in a pretty, rural area. The stone building adorned with hanging baskets of flowers creates an inviting first impression and inside, the contemporary style continues with exposed stone walls, plush leather booths, neon signs and a sweeping bar area which serves an eclectic cocktail menu. We were warmly welcomed and led to a table in the spacious dining area; the windows overlook the outdoor terrace and a wall of plants adds a tropical air to the space. The menu is varied, with a good selection of starters and sharers, flatbreads, skewers, salads, grill dishes and mains. I was impressed by the variety of vegetarian and vegan options too, something which is often surprisingly lacking in many restaurants.

I went for a starter of tempura soft shell crab with Asian salad and sweet chilli and ginger sauce. The tempura batter was light and golden and the succulent crab worked well with the tangy salad, while the sauce added a sweeter contrast. 

My dining companion decided on the gourmet burger sliders topped with Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce and tomato and served in brioche buns. The sliders made an appetising starter and these are also great to share. 

I consulted the cocktail menu and found a well-rounded offering of classics and more intriguing creations such as the rhubarb sour and the raspberry and cucumber crush. I went for a Rose Bellini and the combination of fragrant rose syrup and prosecco made this a pleasant aperitif, perfect for a summer evening. 

On to mains and I ordered the halloumi curry; this was my first time having a curry made with halloumi and it was creamy and mild with a subtle kick of spice while the addition of butternut squash, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes and chilli spinach added a wealth of flavour. Fluffy saffron rice and naan bread completed this tasty dish which I would order again.

A friend had already recommended the skewers which are something of a signature dish at Muse, so my dining companion chose the mixed grill skewers and he was not disappointed. The plate arrived groaning under the weight of two skewers, laden with chicken and beef fillet, sausage, gammon and roast vegetables the tender meat was complemented by a dressing of Sriracha mayonnaise and the addition of charred piegata bread. This was a hearty main course packed with tasty flavours and ideal to satisfy a larger appetite. 

We also indulged in side orders of truffle Parmesan fries and hand cut chunky chips, both of which were a treat!

On to dessert and I have to say that the Nutella gnocchi alone make a trip to Muse worthwhile, they were crispy and light, reminiscent of a mini doughnut and the Nutella filling was lovely with the salted caramel ice cream and chocolate sauce.

My choice of New York style baked cheesecake with strawberry compote and granola was summer on a plate, with a burst of sweetness from the strawberries, welcome texture from the granola and an impossibly light baked cheesecake which was as good as any I tasted in New York. 

There are several things I loved about Muse, not least the modern interior, delicious food and drink but special mention must go to the service as well. I have spoken before about how much poor service ruins an experience for me, even when the meal itself is tremendous, and service at Muse was attentive and swift throughout from the friendly team. All in all, a lovely evening and I look forward to dining at Muse again. 

27 High St


What do you all think, do you like the sound of Muse and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



*I was invited to review Muse, this meal was complimentary. All opinions expressed herein are my own and honest. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A feast with Santa Maria Latin American Kitchen...

I love to get in the kitchen and whip up a feast, so when Santa Maria kindly sent me some items from their Latin American range, I was eager to create some tasty dishes. I am a big fan of food which packs in diverse flavours and this range is perfect to keep in the cupboard, for those nights when you want a delicious dinner which does not take too much time or effort to make.

I was impressed by the variety of influences, with the products ranging from Brazilian to Argentinian inspired sauces, rice and rubs. Being around chefs so often has taught me that prep and mise en place are the keys to stress free cooking, so the first task was to get the kitchen tidy, wash and chop a heap of fresh peppers and marinate some Quorn steak strips in the Argentinian Barbacoa rub. I poured the sachet of spice rub in to a large dish, placed the Quorn steak strips in and mixed well, before leaving the Quorn to absorb the flavours for a while. The great thing about this dry rub is that while it is meant for use on steak, you can also replace steak with mixed vegetables or a meat substitute.

Once I was ready to start cooking, I decided to start by making the Quorn steak strips in Barbacoa spice rub. I poured some olive oil in to a griddle pan and fried a handful of the chopped peppers until they had softened, before adding the marinated Quorn steak strips and stirring regularly as they fried. You could use a saucepan, but I love using a griddle pan because it gives your ingredients that lovely charring which looks (and tastes) amazing.

Once the Quorn steak strips in Barbacoa rub were ready, I placed them in an ovenproof bowl and put it in the oven on a low heat while I set to work cooking the rest of the dishes. Next up was the Cuban chilli Sofrito sauce and I followed the same method as before, frying diced peppers in olive oil, before adding vegetarian chicken style pieces and frying them until they were cooked through. Next, I added the sauce and left the chicken style pieces to simmer in the sauce for a few minutes, stirring regularly until piping hot. Again, I transferred the Sofrito chicken style pieces in to an ovenproof dish and placed them in the oven on a low heat alongside the Quorn steak. Next, I fried the remaining peppers in olive oil, adding more chicken style pieces and frying until cooked through, before adding the Brazilian Xinxim peanut sauce to the pan and simmering over a medium heat for a few minutes until hot. I put the Xinxim chicken style pieces in to the oven with the rest of the dishes and I also placed some tortilla wraps in the oven to warm up.

Meanwhile, I put mature grated cheddar and sour cream in to bowls, heated up the Arroz Rojo (spicy red rice) according to the instructions (you can heat this on either the hob or in the microwave) and set the table with some cute watermelon napkins I bought at Tesco.

I love meals where everything is served communally and people simply help themselves to whatever they feel like, so I put everything on one table so that the feast could begin.
I also mixed up a cocktail which I thought would work well with the food, a Tropical Chilli Martini which was a real hit with everybody and complemented the food.

The dishes were all popular and I was amazed by how much flavour was concentrated in to each one. I loved the smoky barbecue taste of the Barbacoa marinated Quorn steak strips and the Sofrito was fiery and satisfying, while a garnish of fresh pineapple added a burst of sweetness. It was hard to choose a favourite, but mine was the Brazilian Xinxim peanut sauce, as the mild and creamy flavour was lifted by hints of zesty lemon and ginger. I served everything with a pile of warm tortilla wraps and we filled tortillas with each of the dishes, adding sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese on top.

It was a lovely dinner party and we enjoyed the dishes, I love the fact that the Santa Maria range means you can create a party at a moment’s notice and sit back and relax with your guests rather than slaving away in the kitchen all night. We did not get around to trying the Caribbean pineapple and chilli sticky sauce this time as we already had so much food, but I look forward to sampling it soon.

What do you all think, do you like the sound of the Santa Maria Latin American range and which of these dishes would you like to try? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,



Sunday, 6 August 2017

Summer cheesecake pots...

Summer calls for a lighter dessert and these cheesecake pots are the ideal sweet treat at the end of a meal and perfect for summer parties and barbecues. You can make these quite quickly, so this is a handy recipe to have lying around for when surprise dinner guests appear. 

They are simple to make and the zesty lemon adds a light and Mediterranean flavour, which is sure to bring a little dose of sunshine to the table even on gloomy days.

125ml double cream
250g cream cheese (such as Philadelphia)
100g caster sugar
1 lemon, zest and juice
130g crushed up biscuits (such as Hob Nobs)
50g Butter
Raspberries or strawberries to top
Dark chocolate squares to decorate (optional)

Place the biscuits into a clear plastic bag and seal, then crush with a rolling pin. Set aside.
In a pan, melt the butter over  a medium heat, then stir the melted butter in to the biscuit mixture to create the biscuit base mix. Layer the biscuit mixture in to the base of the cheesecake jars.
In a mixing bowl, whip the double cream with the cream cheese, caster sugar, lemon zest and juice until it forms a light and fluffy mixture. Spoon the cream layer over the biscuit layer, (you can also place another biscuit layer in between if you wish and top with more of the cream layer). Top with the fresh raspberries or strawberries and a square of dark chocolate if desired.

For a twist, I added a layer of crushed cornflakes to one of the pots (on top of the biscuit layer) and this version would work well as a brunch pot for the weekend. I think these would look great as a part of a breakfast buffet, served with a platter of pastries, fresh fruit, Mimosas and coffee. You can swap raspberries for redcurrants or blackberries too or try the desserts with pineapple or mango for a more exotic twist and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the top. 

The problem is these look almost too good to eat when they are ready, almost that is! Instead of cornflakes you could also add granola to create another twist on the brunch pot version. 

What do you all think, do you like the sound of this recipe and would you try giving it a twist to serve at brunch too? As always I cannot wait to hear your thoughts and thank you so much for reading this post.

Until next time,