DIY Pickled Onions

I’ve talked before about my love for pickled things and this year have really got on board with pickling stuff myself – it’s really fun, very satisfying and also makes great DIY gifts for other food lovers! The latest thing we’ve tried is some pickled onions.


We made a really large batch which made us 7 standard jars, but I’ve scaled down our recipe which will produce about 2 jars of onions.

Pickling things is really great, because once you’ve got your basic pickling mix (usually vinegar and sugar) you can play around with it using different vinegars, spices etc to make lots of different variations.



To start with though you need to peel and brine the onions. Theres a good technique for peeling lots of small onions – cut off the root (like in the picture) and then immerse in boiling water for 30seconds in large batches, then the skins just come off really easily, no more cutting needed! When this is done it’s time for brining, which allows the onion to retain that crunch. For 300g onions use 75g salt dissolved in 500ml of warm water. Cover the onions with the brine in a nonmetallic bowl and leave overnight or for 24 hours. Then rinse well and pat dry.


We like to use a mixture of standard distilled pickling vinegar (the clear stuff) and Aspall cider vinegar for the pickling itself. For this batch we made two types of pickle:

Firstly Aspalls own recipe that I found on the internet which looked really interesting, as it swapped out any sugar and replaced it with honey. You can find the recipe for Honey Pickled Onions on Aspalls website. We actually omitted the bay leaves though, and used half and half on the cider vinegar and spirit vinegar.


The other recipe was for hot and spicy onions. You will need:

  • 150ml Cider Vinegar
  • 150ml Distilled Pickling Vinegar
  • 300g baby onions or shallots
  • 1tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp mixed peppercorns (pink/black/green)
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar



Simply sterilise your jars and lids (I find the best way is to either put them through a dishwasher cycle, or wash thoroughly then put in the oven for 10 minutes) then allow to cool.

Bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil with the spices then turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Pack the jars with onions, then pour over the cooled vinegar mix, making sure the onions are completely covered. Seal and the store in a cool dark place for at least 2-4 weeks before using, but they will keep unopened for up to about 6-8 months. Once opened used within a few weeks.

Another great idea for flavouring the pickle, especially for Christmas would be to add star anise, cloves and a cinnamon stick to the vinegar for a real Winter twist. If you’re planning on gifting the onions, grab some jam jar covers from somewhere like Hobbycraft and you can make them look really pretty too!


Happy pickling :)




If you fancy having  a go yourself, let me know how you get on! You could also have a look at some other ways of pickling and preserving onions such as:


Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way Day 2: Galway to the Dingle Peninsula

Day 2 commenced and this was a packed one with a LOT of driving. (If you missed day 1 find it here). First off we headed about an hour south of Galway, to the Cliffs of Moher. Irelands no.1 premier visitor attraction. On the way passing through some more spectacular scenery with lots of castle ruins and rolling green plains.

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The Cliffs themselves are often shrouded in cloud and fog due to the weather coming in from the Atlantic, but lucky us found on them on a serenely beautiful day.

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Don’t fall over the edge!

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A three hour drive then ensued broken up by more scenery and a short ferry ride (to avoid even more driving!) When the views are like the ones below though, you can’t really complain.

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Arriving in our base for the night, we took a boat ride around Dingle Bay watching the seagulls assault the fishing boats, someone try and rescue their car from the sea (who knows?!) and the bay’s resident dolphin, Fungi.

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I’ve since found out dolphins are a little hard to photograph so we took a video too, I can’t seem to upload it on the blog so you can watch it here. And here’s a statue of the dolphin legend in question.


As if we hadn’t done enough driving for the day we decided to squeeze in a trip around the Slea Head Loop – at the very end of the Dingle Peninsula. Taking around an hour and half to complete, the loop takes in some spectacular views and was probably our favourite place of the holiday. It was pretty deserted too which helped.











I think the seagull thought so too.

That night we ate in a seafood shack called Out of the Blue. Watch this space for the lowdown on some fabulously fresh seafood! Part 3 coming soon….


Review: Tapas Revolution, Grand Central Birmingham

If you live in or near Birmingham, unless you’ve been hiding from the world for the last few months, you will no doubt have heard of the opening of the ‘new’ New Street Station and Grand Central. Amongst the wealth of new shops to spend ALL the money in there is also several restaurants, inlcuding Tapas  Revolution. I’ve been lucky enough to meet the lovely Omar Allibhoy, the Spanish born foudner and owner, on two occasions now so was looking forward to trying out the restaurant I’d heard much about.

The first time I set foot in Grand Central I was a little taken aback to see all the restaurants in an almost food court set up, rather than their own enclosed units. They do all however have their own separated areas seating and staff like any normal restaurant though, they are just open to the hustle and bustle of the shops, which actually can create a nice atmosphere, as long as your not looking for an intimate romantic location!



Our server at Tapas Rev was ultra friendly, and despite it being very busy all the ordering and delivery of the food and drinks was very timely.

I’ve eaten my fair share of tapas whilst abroad in Spain and its islands, some good, some bad, although I’ve not spent too much time in the backstreet pinxtos bars of Barcelona or San Sebastian so i might not be the best person to comment on authenticity, but I know that Omar is trying to bring a taste of authentic Spanish food and tapas to the table.

There was a nice selection of Spanish Beers for Lee inlcuding this interesting one made with Sea Water, and luckily some Sangria on the menu for me. A little mention also for the weirdly beautiful shaped water jugs with a really narrow spout that meant I kept watering the table – next time I’ll be more careful!


It was nice to see quite a small menu with a good evenly spilt selection of meat fish and vegetarian. As well as the tapas they serve breakfast, and it was nice to see some traditional dishes like Pan Con Tomate, which I love, on the list for this. We chose a selection of 6 dishes for lunch on the recommendation of our waitress:

  • Torreznos con mojo dulce – crispy pork belly with sweet and spicy sauce
  • Albóndigas con salsa – beef meatballs in a vegetable, tomato and white wine sauce
  • Calamares fritos – deep-fried squid with alioli
  • Croquetas de bacalao – deep-fried cod and bechamel croquettes served with alioli
  • Patatas bravas – deep-fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and alioli
  • Selección de charcutería – jamón ibérico de bellota, chorizo ibérico and Serrano ham



Cod Croquettas


Patatas bravas

I always order the Calamares when eating tapas, firstly to annoy my husband as he thinks the stuff is the devils work, and secondly becuase I think if it’s done well, its a good testament to the quality of the food.  Luckily for me, it was perfectly tender, had a light batter and the alioli a large garlic hit. There was a lack of tentacles (shame, as I always enjoy these bits!) but I guess they are appealing to the masses so it’s to be expected.



I won’t go into minute details with the food, they had only been open for 5 days when we went after all, but overall they were really pleasant eats with good bold flavours and all well cooked. The spicy sauce with the pork belly was a delight and the charcuterie seemed good quality and good value.


jamón ibérico de bellota, chorizo ibérico and Serrano ham


Pork Belly


Pork Belly

I almost cried when we were told they had sold out of churros for dessert but I guess this is just another reason to head back soon!

A good addition to Birmingham I feel, particularly against some mediocre new recent openings, and although it is part of a ‘group’ of restaurants (this is only the 4th one, and the 1st outside of London I believe), the emphasis does seem to be on quality which is nice to see. With it’s location as well, I’m sure it will be a resounding sucess.


Review: Chi Kitchen, Debenhams Birmingham


Chi Kitchen is the recently opened restaurant on the 3rd Floor of Debenhams in the Bullring, Birmingham. It serves a diverse all-day dining menu influenced by Thai, Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean cuisine. They have enlistedrestaurateur Eddie Lim, owner of Thai institution the Mango Tree  in Belgravia to help with the concept too. I’m not always so convinced by places that try to serve so many cuisines but a department store is probably as good a place as any to have something like that due to the mixed tastes of the passing trade.


Laura from Full to the Brum and I were invited along a few days after they opened to sample some of the food and give some feedback on what we thought. With this in mind, we know after speaking to some of the chefs on the night that they are very much still developing and tweaking the menu and are keen to get peoples opinion and feedback on what they enjoyed.

I was quite taken by the decor of the space – light woods mixed with a bright teal colour was right up my street. Teal is the colour that we had as our ‘wedding colours’ so I was smitten! There’s a long bar with an open kitchen at one end and part of the restaurant has a panoramic view out towards Chinatown.




Drinks wise there’s a small list of classic cocktails and a couple of more unusual ones , as well as the usual beer and wine choices. I tried a Hibiscus Fizz whilst Laura had the Bangkok Fizz. I enjoyed mine very much – the sweet hibiscus flower with the dry champagne is a winner for me.


Food wise, as we were there to try out the food we opted to let the chef cook us portions of whatever he felt like from the menu.

From the light bites/starters section:

  • Popcorn shrimp – Deep fried tempura shrimp served with wasabi mayonnaise
  • Prawn and chive dumplings
  • Chicken and prawn siu mai
  • California crab roll
  • Salmon maki
  • Spicy tuna Maki
  • Chicken satay  – Succulent pieces of chicken skewered and marinated in lemongrass and coriander served with peanut sauce







Out of these the sushi was the standout for me – all very well made and flavoursome and the fish very high quality. The addition of the various little toppings on the sushi and the drizzles took them to a high level. Not quite as good as Sushi Passion for me, but a good deal cheaper! The satay was succulent and nicely spiced with a strong hint of lemongrass. The 2 dim sum were decent but I thought the fillings could have been seasoned more. The popcorn shrimp was a good idea and the prawns well cooked but less of the dressing would have been better for me as it made the whole thing a little soggy.

From the Mains

  • Thai green chicken curry – with Thai aubergine, sweet basil leaves and chicken
  • King Prawn Pad Thai
  • Korean steak – Sirloin steak with Korean Bulgogi sauce served with wasabi mash




Of the few mains we tried I thought the Green Curry was delicious. It was very spicy and I loved the addition the the thai aubergines and thai basil – ingredients that you don’t see enough. The Korean Beef was really well cooked and the sticky sweet sauce lovely, although I could take or leave the wasabi mash. Less successful was the Pad Thai, we both found it overly sweet and didn’t have that salty and sour balance that Thai food should have. The chef totally took this on board and agreed it needed tweaking.

With so much food there was no way we could contemplate dessert, probably as a good job as unbeknownst to us, we were the last in the restaurant, and the store, as on walking out we realised that all the shutters were down and locked!! Feeling slightly like criminals we found a security guard to lead us out down the back stairs and onto the street. So, a note to shoppers – if you’re dining there in the evening – beware of the closing time!

Overall it’s promising place that would be great for a break from a day of retail therapy with a wide range of options to suit all the family.

Disclosure: Our food at Chi was free of charge. Opinions as always are honest and defiantly not influenced by almost having to spend the night in the Debenhams home department!


Review: Ganesha, Streetly

My commute to work is about 45 mins, and when you drive the same route twice a day for enough time you begin to notice even the tiniest detail and changes that occur! One particular commercial space in a small row of shops and restaurants in Streetly that I pass  is now on it’s 3rd reincarnation in what seems like as many months, although its probably a little longer than this. The latest to occupy the space is Indian ‘fine dining’ restaurant Ganesha. We tried out the places there before (both Thai) and if I’m honest we weren’t keen on either so last Friday night decided to pop along and see if we thought that Ganesha would fair any better and stand the test of time.

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