Product Review: Yau’s Sauces

Yau-s-oriental-cooking-sauces-hits-the-UK_dnm_largeAt last Winters Good Food Show we picked up a couple of bottles of Yau’s sauces. The range was developed by Bonnie Yau who grew up in Vietnam. She started off her food career in specialist oriental shops and then opened her own takeaway, but with a slight twist on the usual Chinese. All her sauces are prided on being MSG free, gluten-free and low in fat, which makes a change from the gloopy sickly sweet sauces that can be the norm from a Chinese in the UK.  I for 1 really love Chinese and Vietnamese food, but recreating great sauces and dishes at home is not always a quick experience and often takes a while. This is great from time to time, but lets face it on occasion we all reach for that jar or bottle of ready-made sauce, whether it be for Chinese, a curry or a pasta sauce. In the Chinese market I’ve yet to find a range of sauces that I truly enjoy, particularly sweet and sour, which is a cliché I know, but I love the flavours.

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In Yau’s Sweet and Sour I believe I have found a really great sauce. Its sweet without being sickly and has the under currents of sour and salt that is needed. Its thick and coats the ingredients well without being sticky or gloopy. A real winner. I used the sauce making sweet and sour chicken with fresh chicken breast, fresh pineapple chunks, red and green pepper and onion chunks, stir fried off, and when cooked simply add the sauce, bring it up to temperature and serve!

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As well as the sweet and sour sauce we tried some of the Zum Dipping Sauce. This is intended as a marinade, dip or dressing rather than a sauce. This is so fresh and light and went perfectly with spring rolls, and I also dressed a Thai Style Salad with it and it was delicious. A really good balance of the Holy Grail combination of salt sweet sour and heat.

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I would really recommend trying some Yau’s sauces. Have a look at the product range here. They’re really handy to have in the cupboard for those days when you want someone else to do all the work for you!

http://www.bonnieyau.co.uk

Disclosure: We purchased these products ourselves, and just really liked them so wanted to write about them!

Review: Thai Brasserie, Sutton Coldfield

On my continuing quest to hunt our great local eateries, next stop was Thai Brasserie on Beeches Walk in Sutton Coldfield. I headed over with my friend L, back from university for a few days for a good catch up.

Both lovers of Thai food we were a bit spoilt for choice, the menu was jam packed with Thai favourites.

For starter I can rarely see past the Chicken satay, and a bad one often doesn’t bode well for the rest of the meal as you can see here. Luckily this satay was very good. Moist (hate that word!) chicken and a fiery delicious peanut sauce, although a little oily. L went for the Prawn Dumpling which she felt was perfectly cooked and particular praise to the accompanying sticky sweet soy dipping sauce, which I also tried and declared a hit! We also shared another of my all time favourites, a Yum salad with Beef. This version was excellently executed, super hot (just the way it should be) and full of crunchy fresh veg and herbs with tender beef.

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Mains wise, I strayed from my usual Stir fry type main course and opted for the Thai Red Curry with Chicken and some sticky rice. This was packed full of chicken and thai vegetables and was also very spicy, making my eyes water a little! I loved it ( although I got through two large glasses of water) but I think some might find it too spicy. L had the King Prawn Pad Thai, which looked superb with copious large plump prawns.

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Another great find in our local area, and there was me thinking there wasn’t any good Thai food in Brum, I’ve now found quite a few! Where’s your favourite Thai?

http://www.thaibrasseriesc.co.uk

 

Disclosure: We paid in full for our meal

 

How to…make Chipotle En Adobo

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Chipotle en Adobo is a rich, smoky, spicy Mexican sauce. It is great stirred through ketchups or mayonnaise, on pasta or stirred through other sauces, or even as a dip if you can take the heat. It is used in a lot of Mexican cooking and nothing beats making your own from scratch. This is how we make ours.

Makes about 2 jam jars full.

Ingredients:

  • 100g chipotle peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 small white onion – roughly chopped
  • 150ml water
  • 125ml white wine vinegar
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • 30ml balsamic vinegar
  • 1tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato pureé
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp oregano

Method:

  1. First of all pop all of the peppers in a saucepan and cover them with boiling water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes until softenedIMG_4295
  2. Drain and rinse of the excess seeds
  3. Put a third of the peppers in a blender, along with the onion, garlic, herbs and spices and salt and 100ml of the water
  4. Blend to a smooth paste
  5. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy based pan. Add the paste and fry off for 2 minutes
  6. Then add the tomato puree, rest of the water and the vinegars and continue to cook gently for another 5 minutesIMG_4297
  7. Add the rest of the chillis to the pan and cook gently, stirring occasionally for another 15 minutes
  8. Put the whole mixture back into the blender and blend to a smooth paste, or you can leave it a bit chunky, up to you.
  9. Store in sterilised jars and it will keep for several months (in the fridge once open use within a couple of weeks)

Happy eating :)

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Review: The Pear Tree Crêperie, Lichfield

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The Pear Tree Crêperie is a small café/restaurant within the Heart of the Country shopping village near Lichfield. I’ve been many a time over the years whilst having a mooch around the  shops there which includes some lovely little cook shops and foodie shops as well as some clothing, furniture and homewares.

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The space is set up to be like a typical French Crêperie, complete with red checked table cloths and it has a lovely relaxed and informal atmosphere. It can get very busy, and its best to book at the weekends to be sure of a table.

The menu has a long list of savoury galettes and sweet crêpes, along with some mixed salad items and my favourite, French Onion Soup. The galettes are made with buckwheat flour sea salt and water, hence the brown appearance whilst the crêpes are made from wheat flour, milk, eggs, sugar and fat. Both are made in the traditional Breton way from Brittany.

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On this occasion I went for a bowl of the aforementioned soup and a Goats Cheese, Tomato Coulis and Walnut Crêpe. Lee also had a bowl of the soup and had the Mushroom Stroganoff Crêpe. The crêpes are always packed with filling and not overcomplicated. They make for a really taste lunch or mid afternoon sweet or savoury treat.

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On this occasion we didn’t have room for a sweet one too, but I’ve previously had both the  simple lemon and sugar, as well as the more indulgent Profiterole Crêpe. Both are delicious.

If you’re ever in the area its well worth a look for lunch.

Heart of the Country Village,
Swinfen, Nr. Lichfield,
Staffordshire
WS14 9QR

http://www.peartreecreperie.co.uk

Disclosure: We paid for our own meal, and all opinions expressed are honest and our own

Brown and Green Delicatessen

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Just a quick post today to tell you all about a recent little discovery: Brown and Green Delicatessen. We discovered their fantastic shop on the Trentham Estate on a visit over Easter, and on further research actually discovered they have a few more dotted over England.

They pride themselves on bringing together local, ethical and artisan food and drink. Supporting local producers, caring about seasonality, finding new and distinctive produce and looking for high standards of animal welfare.

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The produce differs from store to store, and the range of goods they have in their shop on the trentham estate was staggering. Fresh fruit and veg, a butchery and deli coutner as well as tonnes of homemade chutneys, preserves and a whole host of other things. I enjoyed seeing some of out favourite local producers on their shelves, including Just Oils and The Kitchens’ Fine Food Co. Definetly one of the best Deli’s I have come across in recent times, a shame it’s a bit far away from us for that weekly shop!!

Have a sneak peek inside the store below!

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http://www.brown-and-green.co.uk

Brown and Green
Trentham Shopping Village
Stone Road
Trentham
Nr Stoke-on-Trent
Staffordshire
ST4 8AX

Glammed Up Mac & Cheese

pmDSC_0027 DSC_0023 This dish is perfect for those chilly nights that are creeping in. We were trying to use up some bits left in the fridge at the end of the week – we had the end of a few different bits of cheese, a few rashers of bacon and a jar of artichokes! So we threw it all in and so was born this slightly glammed up version of Macaroni Cheese (except even the pasta is not macaroni….its Casaracce, but it works just as well!!) I have rounded up the ingredients slightly to make the dish for 4, as what we made was only enough for 2 hungry people or would have stretched to 3. We served with a simple green salad, red pepper and asparagus and light vinaigrette. ( Gotta do something to pretend you’re not only eating carbs, right?) Serves 4 Ingredients:

  • 60g butter
  • 200g artichoke hearts, roughly chopped (the jarred kind)
  • 6 rashers bacon, chopped (back or streaky will do)
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 600ml milk
  • 50g plain flour
  • 150 g hard cheese like cheddar/parmesan ( we used a mixture of wooky hole cheddar, worcestshire sauce flavoured cheddar and a hard ewes milk cheese)
  • 350g pasta cooked al dente (macaroni ideally, but we used casaracce which is also a thin tube like pasta)
  • salt and pepper to season

Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F 2. Add half the butter to a large frying pan and melt. 3. Add in the chopped bacon and fry until cooked through. Add the spring onion, garlic, shallot and artichokes and continue to fry until softened and just becoming golden. DSC_0015 4. Add the rest of the butter until melted 5. Add in the flour and stir vigourously and it will coat all the ingredients. 6. Slowly add in the milk bit by bit stirring continuously and you will notice it thickening up at a rapid pace. DSC_0017 7. When all the milk is added reduce the heat a litre, add the mustard and 2/3 of the cheese, stirring until dissolved. 8. Season to taste and then add in the cooked pasta and stir until all coated well 9. Transfer to an oven proof dish and bake for 15minutes DSC_0019 10. After 15 mins remove from oven, scatter over the remaining cheese and bake for a further 10-15mins until golden and bubbling.   Happy eating :) DSC_0028 DSC_0024   DSC_0025

Win a Food Birmingham Membership Card!

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I’ve recently teamed up with the new Foodie Membeship Card in Birmingham, Food Birmingham, to be their official blogger and bring you some reviews and insights in to Birmingham restaurants, so watch out for my posts, there’ll be some different stuff to what you can read on my blog too. To celebrate this, I’ve got 5 Food Birmingham Membership cards up for grabs for 5 of you lucky people. The Food Birmingham Card gets you either 25% off, 50% off or 2 for 1 deals across the many restaurants they work with in Birmingham and the surrounding area. It’s only just launched this September so new deals are being launched all the time. Some of the current inclusions are Chung Ying Central, Sushi Time, East Z East and many more. All the deals and offers can be found on the website, so its easy to look up and book in! IMG_5554 The cards will RRP at £39.99 for a years membership and are available to buy online. So if you want to get your hands on one of these cards for free, enter my competition below! ———> a Rafflecopter giveaway Terms & Conditions

  • You need to be over 18 to enter and live in the UK
  • The competition will run from Saturday 11th Oct – Saturday 18th Oct
  • The winners will be selected at random by the competition software and notified within 48 hours
  • The winners will have 72 hours to provide me with their details for postage or another winner will be drawn
  • The competition holder bears no responsibility for lost post, or any actual involvement when using the card going forward.