45 articles Articles posted in Food

Tips For Deep-Fat Frying Food

Photo by Pixzolo Photography on Unsplash

In today’s health-conscious environment, deep-fried foods often take a backseat to lower-calorie options. Every so often, however, it is fun to live a little and enjoy some of these delicious foods. As long as you are indulging in a deep-fried treat, you may as well ensure that it tastes perfect. These tips for deep-fat frying will help you get excellent results every time.

Interestingly, deep fat frying falls under the category of dry heat cooking. Even though you use oil, the cooking process doesn’t require water like simmering or poaching, which is why it is considered dry heat.

The tips below will help keep you safe while at the same time allowing you to get delicious results.

One of the keys to successfully deep-frying food is to choose the right oil. Ideally, the oil that you choose should have a high smoke point so that it won’t deteriorate when it reaches the high temperatures required for deep frying. The best oils are sunflower, peanut, canola, or safflower oil.

Your choice of skillet is also important. A deep, heavy-duty skillet is best. Put oil in the bottom of the pan, leaving at least a couple of inches of space at the top. This is important from a safety standpoint. If the pan is too full, the oil could easily bubble over after adding the food. This is why a purpose made deep fat fryer is a better idea. If you want to know more about what to look for then use this detailed guide to choose the best deep fat fryers.

Thoroughly dry the food you are frying before putting it in the pan. You can either set it out on paper towels to allow any moisture to evaporate or you can cover it with a dry coating of bread crumbs or flour. Make sure the coating on the food is dry, as well, by allowing it to sit for about 20 minutes before putting it in the oil.

Once the food is prepared, you can heat the oil. A medium-high heat setting is best. Ideally, you should use a thermometer that is designed for deep-fat frying. The oil temperature should be between 350 and 370°F. You can estimate the temperature of the oil even if you don’t have a thermometer available by cutting a 1-inch piece of bread and putting it in the oil. Time how long it takes for the bread to brown. If it takes approximately a minute, that means that the oil is about 365°F.

Avoid putting too much food in the pan. Make sure there is plenty of space around each item that is cooking. This will give you more even results. If you pile too much food into the pan, it will lower the temperature of the oil. Then, instead of getting crisp, the food will soak up the oil.

Keep a close eye on the pan while the food is cooking. If necessary, adjust the temperature so that the oil stays between 350 and 375°F. As soon as the food is browned, it is ready to take out of the pan. Use a slotted spoon to remove it so that any excess oil will drain. Make sure the spoon has a long handle. Set the finished food on a paper towel to soak up any leftover oil.

If you have more frying to do, try putting the finished food in the oven at a temperature of about 200°F. This will keep it from cooling off while you finish the rest.

From a safety standpoint, the most important thing to remember is that you can’t mix oil and water. Never place water in hot oil. Adding water to the mixture will lead to an explosion. If the oil starts smoking or if the pan catches on fire, place a lid or cookie sheet over it to douse the fire. Sprinkling baking soda on grease fires may also help. Just use caution so that you don’t cause the flames to spread.

Ideally, you should have a fire extinguisher available in your kitchen. Make sure you know how to use it so that you can respond quickly in an emergency.

Cooking oil should not be reused despite what some people say. Even if you strain it, the oil has already been partially broken down by exposure to heat. This causes trans fats and other unhealthy compounds to form. The best option is to allow the oil to thoroughly cool and then to throw it away

Seven Changes To Your Coffee Habit To Be More Sustainable

Coffee is a very popular drink, but one with a high environmental and ethical impact. How your coffee is grown, the carbon footprint of flying it to you and the waste generated by coffee pods and takeaway cups all cause a problem. With these small changes to your caffeine habit, you can make your coffee drinking more sustainable. 

Seven Changes To Your Coffee Habit To Be More Sustainable

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  1. Don’t use takeaway cups. One of the biggest problems with coffee is the volume of non-recycled waste that is produced by takeaway coffee. Paper cups, cardboard sleeves, plastic lids and plastic straws often end up in landfills, even when they can be recycled. Instead of using these, take your own reusable cup. You can even buy ones that collapse flat to take up less room in your bag. Buy a fun cup and get in the habit of carrying it with you.  
  2. At home, don’t use single serve coffee pods. These pods are incredibly popular, but most can’t be recycled. Even the ones that can be usually aren’t, as they usually need to be sent back to the supplier and can’t just be put out with the rest of your recycling. Instead of using pods, treat yourself to beautiful fresh coffee, like Third Wave Coffee, and make a habit of drinking fantastic coffee at home.  
  3. Swap single use filters for reusable ones. Paper filters are often bleached with chlorine, so as well as creating more waste, they’ll also leak chemicals when they reach landfills. Instead, use a reusable filter, like a metal one. Less waste, and your coffee will taste better. 
  4. Treat yourself to a manually brewed coffee. Auto-drip coffee machines are cheap for a reason. They use a lot of plastic, and break often, meaning all that plastic gets thrown away. A manual option makes your coffee more of a routine, and is kinder on the environment. 
  5. Read the packaging carefully. Look for information on whether you can recycle the packaging. Check for symbols to confirm the coffee is organic or fair trade. Do some research into your preferred coffee brands to make sure they’re paying growers fairly, and doing what they can to reduce their carbon footprint.   
  6. Don’t waste leftover coffee grounds. You can add coffee grounds to your compost heap or straight onto your plants. The nitrogen in the coffee grounds acts as a great fertilizer for your plants. If you add the grounds around the flower beds, the nitrogen also acts as a natural bug repellent, keeping ants and other creatures away from your plants. The smell of coffee can also work well to discourage neighbourhood cats from using your garden as a litter box. 
  7. Don’t use a coffee pot with a warming plate. The plate is left on for long periods, which uses up a lot of energy, wasting electricity. Consistently warming your coffee also over-brews it and can end up burning it, making it taste worse too. For better tasting coffee that doesn’t waste energy, buy a thermal coffee pot instead to keep your coffee warm for longer. 

Who Would You Share Your Crisps With? #MustBeWalkers

Who Would You Share Your Crisps With?! Picture the scene – it’s 1996. Euro ’96 is in full swing. Neon clothes and Adidas tracksuits are all the rage, and a group of feisty women called “Spice Girls” are topping the charts with their high-kicking, zig-a-zig-ahh-ing hit ‘Wannabe’. The whole world is thinking about whether David Beckham is going to score, both on the pitch and off with Posh Spice.

It’s the summer between year 7 and year 8, and with a year of senior school under my belt, I think I know everything there is to know about being a grown up. My Nan and Grandad had moved to Lowestoft, but brought their caravan to a site in Essex for the summer, where we’d visit them and spend the day playing outside the caravan. I remember vividly asking if we could listen to the chart show on the radio and dancing to Wannabe with my cousin Laurie, each choosing a Spice Girl to emulate (if I remember rightly it was Baby for me and Sporty for Laurie!).

Nan always made the BEST picnics whenever we went on days out together- homemade ham rolls, cartons of Um Bongo and she’d only ever pack Walkers Crisps. She had very high standards, my Nanny Rene!

Spice Girls music evoke a lot of memories of my early teenage year and this day is one of my favourites. I can’t quite believe that was 23 year ago, and now that my grandparents are no longer with us, it’s all the more precious.

Spice Girls have teamed up with Walkers Crisps, 22 years after the first time, to create a new advert, which you can see here:

Despite his love of Walkers, the Spice Girls superfan jut cannot bring himself to share his crisps. I won’t lie; I’d find it hard to share them too! Aside from the people I love, there are very few people in the world who’d get my Walkers. Here are a few of them:

Jeremy Corbyn

We all know how much I love our Jez, so I’d definitely share my crisps with him, and luckily enough almost all of the Walkers flavours are suitable for vegetarians, so I wouldn’t need to worry about him not eating meat.

Keanu Reeves

Keanu is basically the coolest guy on the planet. As a family, we have a huge fondness for Keanu and he definitely deserves to share my Walkers!

Helen Sharman

Helen was the first British astronaut and the first woman in space. She’s got honorary doctorates from no fewer than 11 universities and she’s a HUGE inspiration to females, especially in the STEM fields. Plus, I bet you can’t get any decent crisps in space!

Who Would You Share Your Crisps With?!

Walkers is looking for a GENUINE Spice Girls superfan – The campaign will run on TV and digital throughout the summer schedule from 2nd June until the 21st July 2019. Check out some of the top entries we from the challenge leading up to the ad premier. For more information visit www.walkers.co.uk/besteverfan.

Recipe – Herby Lamb Steaks #MeatMatters

Herby Lamb Steaks*This post is an entry for the #MeatMatters Challenge, sponsored by Simply Beef and Lamb. Learn more about the benefits of cooking and eating beef and lamb along with recipe ideas and inspiration here: https://www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk/*

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a meat-lover. Steak is one of my favourite meals and my mother-in-law’s lamb stew is basically my all-time best comfort food. Lamb is something I love to cook and eat but I do tend to favour the ‘low and slow’ method of cooking, which means that dinners around lamb usually have to be carefully planned and executed.

So when BritMums and Simply Beef and Lamb challenged me to come up with a recipe for beef or lamb which could be cooked in under 30 minutes, I thought this would be a great opportunity to make something quick and easy with lamb. Lamb is such a great meat for the family to enjoy; it’s packed with protein and provides four essential vitamins and minerals which help reduce tiredness and fatigue.

I wanted to pair our lamb with ingredients which were both seasonal and packed a nutrition-punch, so here’s what I made:

Herby Lamb Steaks with Spring Greens and New Potatoes

Recipe - Herby Lamb Steaks #MeatMatters
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A tasty way to enjoy lamb in under thirty minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: Lamb
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Lamb steaks (we allowed two per adult and one per child)
  • Garlic - five cloves
  • Rosemary - half a cup, finely chopped
  • Sea Salt - one tablespoon
  • Spring greens - Two heads, shredded
  • Olive Oil - one tablespoon
  • Shallots - two, finely chopped
  • Mustard seeds - one tablespoon
  • Apple cider vinegar - two tablespoons
  • New potatoes - 500g
  • Knob of butter to serve
Instructions
  1. Boil a kettle and cover the new potatoes with boiling water on the hob, allowing them to simmer for around 20 minutes.
  2. Crush the garlic cloves and combine with the chopped rosemary and sea salt on a plate
  3. Lay each lamb steak on the herby mix on each side to coat
  4. Place herby lamb steaks under a pre-heated grill on high and cook for around 5 minutes on each side for medium rare (7 minutes on each side for well-done if you don't like any pink inside your lamb)
  5. While the lamb and potatoes are cooking, add the olive oil to a pan and gently start to heat the shallots until they're translucent.
  6. Add the mustard seeds and stir
  7. Add the shredded spring greens to the pan and allow to wilt for five minutes, turning frequently so that the shallots mix in and don't start to catch
  8. Once the greens have wilted down, add the apple cider vinegar, stirring through quickly before taking off of the heat.
  9. Drain the potatoes and stir the butter through until melted
  10. Serve

I could tell this recipe was going to be a hit as Husband shouted down “dinner smells AMAZING!” while I was cooking, and the girls kept asking for minute-by-minute updates on when it would be ready!

Having a dinner which centred around lamb ready from fridge to plate in under 30 minutes was fantastic and the whole family agreed that it was one of the tastiest meals we’d had in a long time. It was absolutely jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals, so I felt extra happy about feeding it to my family and the fact that it was all made using products which were in season was an even bigger bonus as it meant that the meal was super fresh.

The meat was grilled and only the tiniest amount of oil and butter were used to create the side dishes, making this a really healthy, well-balanced dinner. The girls love lamb steaks because there are no bones to deal with and they were so tender and juicy after being grilled – I think this may even be my new favourite lamb dish.

If you’d like to see the other beef and lamb dishes that people have created for the #MeatMatters challenge, head over to Twitter or Instagram and search for the hashtag.

Nostalgia Foods

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As we grow older and our palate develops, we discover a whole new way of eating. We are introduced to different foods, changing cuisines, experiment with our own recipes, and try food we never thought that we would. We can become cultured, bordering on being foodies, loving experimentation and something new, innovative.

Nevertheless… sometimes, you just can’t beat food that tastes of the past.

We all have that one food that is liable to trigger our sense memory and make us think of another time in our life. It might be the taste of an ice cream we once ate on holiday; even if we nibble it in our kitchen on a grey day, it reminds us of walking on the beach with the sun on our skin. It might be sampling a few retro sweets and being transported back to our school days, almost as if we can feel the scratch of our school uniform against our skin once more. It doesn’t have to be sweet, of course – sometimes it can just be the taste of an evening meal that reminds us of the food our Mum used to serve each evening.

There is a real power in nostalgia. For all our changing tastes and experimentation with different cuisines, there is something inherently comforting about food that is familiar and brings with it a smile of days gone by. Rather than ignoring the food of previous years, experiment in a new way and see how it can blend in.

  1. Use Sweets As An Addition To A Dessert

If you like to bake, you could make the most delicious dessert using all the new techniques that you have picked up over the years. Spin sugar, craft with pastry, drizzle with a ganache. Then, for that nostalgic twist, add a few old-style penny sweets on the side. Not only do they add an extra flavour, but they can make the resulting dish extra Instagram worthy!

  1. Old Cooking Techniques

There’s no doubt that we know more now about food and nutrition than we ever have. In the midst of all this knowledge, we have abandoned several methods of cooking. When was the last time you fried something with butter rather than coconut oil, for example?

The best way to bring out old flavours on occasion is to use old cooking methods. Fry with butter, opt for boiling over steaming – you’d be surprised the way it can release flavours you thought you’d forgotten. It doesn’t have to be every day, of course, but it can be a nice twist for a special occasion.

  1. Have An Evening Of Nostalgic Food

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If you want to keep fun with nostalgia to a minimum, then a one-off treat night every few months could be just the ticket. Think of it: a starter of a prawn cocktail and nibbles, a main meal of simple meat and vegetables, and a dessert of spotted dick with a few sweets on the side. It’s the quickest way to make yourself feel like you’re 16 again!

Making Our Own Raw Chocolate with Indigo Herbs

Indigo Herbs Raw ChocolateSince I’ve been on a ketogenic diet, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about nutrition and what we should be putting in our bodies, which in turn has made me hyper-conscious about what is in the food we eat. Even on a rare “cheat” day, I’m checking labels and have still been known to shun food which are pure sugar or artificial ingredients, which is why I was really intrigued when Indigo Herbs offered to send me one of their raw chocolate kits, containing everything we need to make our own raw chocolates.

So what, I hear you ask, is raw chocolate? Well, the guys at Indigo Herbs say it a lot better than I can:

“Much of the Cacao bean’s natural goodness gets destroyed in the heating process of conventional chocolate making. Consequently the feel good factor often experienced when eating chocolate is significantly more noticeable with raw chocolate because much more of the feel good chemical compounds remain intact. The Cacao bean is naturally so rich in nutrients that when the ingredients are handled and processed at low temperatures, these micro-nutrients remain available.”

The kit was really beautifully packaged and would make an excellent gift for an health-conscious foodie, and it was so simple to make that I let Sausage and Burrito Baby help too. The instructions on the kit are really clear and concise and I think Sausage could actually have managed all by herself if it wasn’t for needing me to sort out the bain marie. We made them at the dining room table and the whole room smelled AMAZING by the time we’d finished.

In terms of taste, the chocolates were genuinely some of the best I’ve ever tried. The brazil nuts and goji berries, combined with the slightly bitter raw chocolate flavour made them feel decadent and satisfying – there’s no way you could over-indulge on these because one or two is enough to well and truly satiate your sweet tooth. Before I cut carbs out of my diet, I had a monster sweet tooth and could eat chocolate almost endlessly, but eating a diet which consists mostly of savoury food has sort of reset my taste buds, making even the smallest morsel of sweet food enough.

Obviously, the beauty of these chocolates is the ingredients. There’s literally nothing in them which isn’t totally natural and the sugar comes from agave nectar which is a low-GI sweetener and doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar. Nutrition-wise, the chocolates have 72 calories per portion, which is made up of 4.9g carbs, 3.1g fat and 1.2g protein – perfect for someone like me who is on under 20g of carbs per day – keeping these in the fridge to have with a cup of coffee as an afternoon pick-me-up would not only be a welcome addition to a largely savoury menu but is also a real morale booster. There’s huge mental value to being able to treat yourself to something which is basically guilt-free when you’re on a restricted diet.

I’m genuinely really impressed by the kit on so many levels – it looks good, it contains everything you need, its easy to use and the results are fantastic. I’d be thrilled to receive one of these kits as a gift and also love the fact that I feel confident in giving them to my children because the ingredients are all natural. Thanks to Indigo Herbs for introducing us to raw chocolate – we’re definite converts! (Get Your Raw Chocolate Kit here)

Waitrose Party Food – A Family Review

At this time of year, one of the things that I love to do is try new food and recipes and I can usually be found watching some Christmas-themed cookery show or another, such is my obsession. However, this year I’ve decided to dial back the stress and try to have a more chilled-out festive period, which is why I was particularly interested to try out the Waitrose Party Food range. One of the main appeals is that everything that needs to be cooked goes in at the same temperature, so although you have to get your timings right, you don’t have to wait for an oven to heat or cool between cooking sessions, which made life SO much easier when prepping it all. Here’s some of what we were sent:

Waitrose Party Food

  1. Waitrose Christmas 12 Bourbon BBQ Pork Waffles 230g (£6.00)
  2. Waitrose Christmas Cheese Toasties Selection 110g (£5.00)
  3. Mixed Mini Pie Selection – Chicken & Gravy 400g (£6.00)
  4. Mixed Mini Pie Selection – Beef & Stout 400g (£6.00)
  5. Waitrose 1 chipotle 4 chilli sausage rolls (£2.49)
  6. Waitrose Party pork crackling straws 130g (£4.00)

We were also sent Christmas olives with snowballs 320g (£5.00), Waitrose Chai Spiced Chocolate Nuts 220g (£4.99) and Waitrose Maple Caramelised Cashews 175g (£4.99) but they got devoured by my lot before I could take a picture! We have a bit of a family ritual of going to my MILs on a Saturday evening and either cooking or having a takeaway together, so I took the party food with me to get some varied opinions and basically everything went down really well!

The waffles were definitely a hit and the smoky, almost sweet barbeque sauce added a lovely flavour to the softness of the waffles. The cheese toasties were lovely little savoury morsels that I probably could have eaten about ten of, all by myself! My Sausage found the chipotle sausage rolls to be a tiny bit too piquant for her taste, but the rest of us loved them so just beware if you have chilli-wuss kids! The pork crackling straws were like an amazingly delicious alternative to a breadstick and went beautifully with the apple sauce, but BEWARE if you have any dental issues – they’re really hard and crunchy and only get harder and crunchier as they cool, so definitely not or anyone prone to breaking of teeth!

The only thing which was a little hit-and-miss were the mini pies – the beef and stout ones were really tasty, with a rich gravy and crisp pastry, but the chicken ones were less of a hit – not bad or unpleasant, just not really a flavour that any of us found massively appealing.

Largely, we were really impressed with the quality of Waitrose Party Food and the ease of cooking, and for a small family gathering it would be ideal as party nibbles, however I’m not sure that the individual prices would be ideal if you had more than around 10 people to feed. Having said that, people usually shop at Waitrose for the quality of their items, not in order to get a bargain, so maybe this is a moot point?

Everything was sent to us about three weeks ago, right when the family was in the middle of a nasty bout of gastroenteritis, and I was able to freeze everything which is also a huge bonus, meaning that it would be really easy to buy ahead of time and bring out for cooking closer to Christmas, and I’m actually planning to go and get us all a few bits for New Years Eve as they’re ideal for a casual evening at home with Jool’s Hootenanny and a few bottles of fizz!

Have you tried the Waitrose Party Food? What did you think? Leave me a comment below.

Think Lunch Is A Bore? Think Again, With These Fabulously Tasty Ideas

Do you find that you struggle when it comes to thinking up healthy yet interesting lunches for you and your family? Don’t fear – most of us do. Lunch is a difficult meal to put together, much more so than breakfast or dinner. It’s not as simple as just grabbing a bowl of cereal or making toast like you do with breakfast. But you also don’t tend to have the time that you have when cooking your evening meal to come up with something both tasty and inventive. This is why a lot of us resort to the huge array of meal deals that supermarkets offer, or why a lot of our children eat school dinners rather than taking packed lunches. But if you’re ready to spice up your family’s current lunch routine, take a look at the following ideas for some inspiration.

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Lunch boxes

The lunchbox is a staple of many people’s daily lives. Whether we’re making them up for our kids or taking them to work ourselves, they are a good way to ensure that we have full control over what’s going into our bodies. These days, there a variety of different styles of lunchboxes that enable us to be much more creative with what we put in them. For example, you may choose a lunch box that is simple a one-section tupperware box. Or, you may go for a ‘bento box’ style; something which has lots of different compartments. If your children are fussy and don’t like it when different foods touch each other, this is a perfect option. Make sure the compartments are varied. For example, you may have pitta bread in one, hummus in the other, carrot sticks in one and a sweet treat in the last one. This isn’t just a children’s lunch box either – it’s perfect for you to take out of the house too.

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At home lunches

If you are able to make and eat your lunch at home, you are able to exercise a little more freedom over what you can have. For starters, you can have hot food at home. But still, you don’t want to be spending more than a few minutes making your lunch, especially if you are in the middle of a working day. It can be tempting to snack on unhealthy food options if they are at your fingertips. But, there are now so many great health products on the market that there’s no excuse not to get involved. Soup, for example, is great for aiding a well-balanced diet – you can get healthy soup flavours by GLORIOUS! both online and in store.

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Lunch on-the-go

If healthy eating is your priority, you may be conscious about where you buy an on-the-go lunch from. You only have to look at the hundreds of ingredients on the back of supermarket sandwich packs to know that they’re probably not all that good for you! If you do need to get a meal deal whilst you’re out and about, go for ones that don’t come with sauce if you can help it, and choose from any ‘lighter’ ranges. Alternatively, look out for independent delis and sandwich makers who will be able to serve you a freshly made lunch with minimal additives.

Beat ‘The Mondays’ with Marmite #MarmiteMondays

Marmite. Probably one of the most divisive foodstuffs in the UK with people either firmly in the ‘Love’ or ‘Hate’ camp and rarely in-between. However, whether you love it or hate it, the guys at Marmite have uncovered a terrifying malady which is affecting the whole country, called…THE MONDAYS! Symptoms of The Mondays are as follows and should be monitored closely:

  • Monotony
  • Overtired
  • Negativity
  • Dilly-Dallying
  • AHHHHHHH-gitated
  • Yawn-y

Here’s what the guys at Marmite had to say about Marmite Mondays:

Following years of not-very- scientific study, we found that millions of ordinary families across the nation are afflicted by a terrible made up condition.

They are victims of a Case of The Mondays – a debilitating condition that leaves those affected feeling bleurghh. A bit mehhh. Or even mweurghh on a Monday morning.

Thankfully, Marmite on toast for breakfast has been found to be our pseudo-scientific remedy. It’s anecdotally proven to help families smash through the start of the week.

If you’re suffering from this condition and want to report a case of The Mondays, call the Marmite Monday Helpline on 0800 832 1835.

Hate Mondays. Love Marmite.

Do you find yourself suffering from The Mondays? I know we do, especially if we’ve had a good weekend and don’t want it to end; that can make a bad case of The Mondays 100 times worse! Fortunately for us, Marmite is a favourite of ours. Our top five ways to eat Marmite are:

  1. Marmite on crumpets with melted cheese
  2. Marmite soldiers with a dippy egg
  3. Marmite toast on thick white bread with lashings of real butter
  4. Added to a Cottage Pie during cooking to give it a rich, savoury flavour
  5. Marmite rice cakes

Are you a family of Marmite lovers? If so, what’s your favourite way to eat Marmite? We’d love to hear from you if there’s a new and delicious way to eat Marmite that we don’t know about yet so please do leave us a comment below…not least of all to cheer us up on this slightly dreary Monday!

Our Family Lunch at Giraffe (review)

GiraffeThis summer holiday has been a bit of a culinary eye-opener for us in the Mum’s the Word house as we’ve been reviewing different restaurants each week and this week’s meal was at Giraffe. Giraffe’s strapline is “Freshly cooked food for everyone served to the sound of great music. Guaranteed to make you feel good!” so we took the girls and MIL with us again to get a good overview of how well they cater for all ages.

Technically, Lakeside is our closest Giraffe but we opted for Chelmsford for a bit of a change of scenery and I’m glad we did. It’s right in the middle of the high street and super easy to find, plus it’s right by the river which was lovely on a sunny day. In fact, it would be a really nice location for an early evening drink and dinner, so next time we go I think I’ll leave the kids at home and just go with Husband.

On the way there, Sausage (who’s recently got her first mobile phone and uses ANY opportunity for a good Google-up!) decided to read the menu to MIL to give her an idea of what she could choose and I think it made MIL a little wary, given that she prefers slightly plainer food and Giraffe’s menu is full of things with exotic sounding ingredients. However, once we got there and she had a chance to read the menu for herself, I think she realised that there were plenty of things she liked.

The kids menu doesn’t have starters but the adults ordered starters and we all ended up sharing, which is something we do anyway as we’re a bit like a wolf-pack, letting each other tuck into our grub. MIL had a garlic flatbread, Husband the chicken gyoza with sweet chilli dipping sauce and I had the Tuscan lamb meatballs.

Starters

Giraffe - Starters

The girls took a great liking to MILs flatbread; luckily it was HUGE so we all had a bit and there was still some left at the end! It was really nice, soft in places, crunchy in places, just garlicky enough without being overpowering. My meatballs were truly delicious, lightly spiced lamb (which you’d expect to be fatty but really wasn’t) in a rich tomato sauce which was almost like a stew. Serving it with a warm tortilla was perfect as it allowed me to mop up all the sauce afterwards! Husband’s gyoza were the real star of the starters though; the dumplings were lightly fried, so they were just crispy but still soft in the middle and the nouc cham sweet chilli sauce was flavourful and sticky, just how it should be. Husband and I didn’t find it spicy but MIL found it a little hot for her taste, so if you’re not a fan of any sort of heat they might be one to avoid.

For our mains, the girls chose from the kids menu with Sausage opting for a cheese and tomato quesadilla while BB went for a chicken wrap. Husband had the jerk ribs and sweet potato fries, MIL had the chicken Milanese and I had a chilli beef burrito.

MainsGiraffe - Mains

One thing I liked about the kids menu is that it actually offered some really diverse dishes. Sure, there are burgers and fish fingers on offer but there are also noodle bowls, grilled salmon and salads. I think we’re long past the era where kids are served bland, uninteresting food while the adults tuck into a culinary delight so it was refreshing to see some nice options for kids. Sausage really enjoyed her quesadilla (she’s a huge fan of all things Mexican) and BB loved her wrap (which I had a nibble of, for science, and found really fresh and tasty), although she couldn’t eat it all.

Husband’s jerk ribs were a hit; the meat itself was deeply seasoned although both Husband and I commented that they could have stood to be a lot spicier as there was none of the heat that we usually associate with jerk, however they were still very pleasant. I’m not a fan of sweet potato but his fries were a hit with everyone else! MIL actually really enjoyed her main after being worried about not finding a dish she’d like and said that the potatoes were especially nice.

If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t a fan of my burrito. There was nothing wrong with it, per se, and it was exactly how you’d expect a burrito to be, but it just wasn’t to my taste. The sour cream was a nice addition but the mince beef mixture inside was overwhelmingly smoky and I really didn’t like the pink onions which seemed halfway between raw and cooked, but not one or the other.

Dessert was what I was REALLY looking forward to. I’ve never tried churros before but spend enough time on hipster food websites to know how trendy they are and I’ve been wanting to have them for AGES…let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed! Sausage and I both had the churros, her from the kids menu and me from the adults and we both seriously enjoyed them. The chocolate dipping sauce was really rich and almost bitter but the perfect accompaniment to the sweet, crispy dough; a very indulgent end to our meals.

Desserts

Giraffe - Dessert

MIL had ice cream (take a look at Jane’s Kitchen Miracles for the best ice cream makers) and chose one scoop each of vanilla, chocolate and cherry which was an inspired choice. The cherry ice cream tasted like actual cherries! BB had a kids brownie which came with ice cream (beware, the brownie is HOT! and will burn little mouths if eaten without caution) and polished off as much as she could manage. I think Husband was the winner again with dessert choices; not usually one for mega sweet food, he pushed the boat out and chose a banana waffle split. I cannot emphasise enough how delicious it was. The waffle was chewy and the butterscotch sauce was like a liquid Werthers Original on the plate! Husband’s one minor complaint was that the banana could have stood to be cooked just a little more.

I also need to give an honourable mention to the drinks: Sausage had decided on a “Hippy Hippy Shake” smoothie (pineapple, passion fruit, mango, banana, pomegranate juice) before we even got there and BB followed suit, both of which got polished off in about three seconds. Husband had a strawberry smash which was literally some smashed up strawberries in a glass, topped with soda and mint, and it was SO refreshing! I went for the Orchard Pig Sparkling Apple and Elderflower and enjoyed it so much that I immediately started Googling to see where I could buy more! All a really nice alternative to the usual soft drink offerings.

Aside from a couple of very minor glitches, I think our Giraffe experience was really positive. The staff were incredibly polite and helpful (activity sheets and crayons for the kids are ALWAYS a winner) and the actual setting of the restaurant was really pleasant. We enjoyed the food and all commented that it’s definitely somewhere we’d eat again. Thanks so much to Giraffe for being the place that I finally lost my churro virginity. I’ll remember it forever…