Emilio’s – Arnold, Nottingham

blog, depression, dinner, drinks, Fish, food, lifestyle, nottingham, restaurant reviews, reviews

During my day job, I work in an office

During my evenings and weekends, I desperately try to build my own identity using scraps of traits that I love, but are originally owned by Nigella Lawson, Rory Gilmore, Kristen Stewart and Hayley Williams.  But tales of my ongoing identity crisis are really besides the point.

Going back to the office day job: once upon a time a few months ago, I volunteered to be in charge of our social calendar. That’s right, I am the most insufferable human you have ever come across! As part of my role as ‘social secretary’ (nobody calls me that); I plan an office night out every other month.

This month, we went to Emilio’s in Arnold, Nottingham for a mezze night. I’m still relatively new to Nottingham, having lived here just over a year. Apparently Emilio’s is a long standing establishment, which has been described to me as ‘great for a cheesy night out’. The words Butlins and Hen Do were also thrown around with this description, so make of it what you will. To be honest I thought it sounded like a laugh, so I booked us in.

We’d ordered the set mezze in advance, which cost about £18 a head. Let’s get one thing straight, I fucking love mezze. I love Greek food and most days I have the appetite of a 6’10 rugby player. Mezze caters to all of this. We started with a Greek salad, pita, tzatziki, and taramasalata. As it turns out, I still hate taramasalata. It tricks me every time. I see a pink food in front of me, and it immediately reminds me of tubby custard from the Teletubbies and I feel compelled to eat it to reengage with my childhood. Take that adult life! The salad was awesome though. I mean granted, Greek salad will never be quite as good experienced in the midst of an October chill in Nottingham, as it would be sat, gazing out to the stars settling above the warm, softly lapping waves of the Mediterranean sea. (I genuinely just had to google to which sea borders Greece to check that was right. Jesus.) But yeah, this was still pretty bomb.

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Next up was calamari, and some garlicky prawns in a sort of tomatoey, caper type sauce. I’m not going to lie, neither of these were exactly to die for. The calamari was definitely not home made, which I thought was a shame, as it had that inevitable chewiness of frozen calimari. Weirdly, the best calamari I’ve ever had was at Ask Italian. Who knew? The prawns were definitely the kind of baby prawns you buy in the freezer section in Asda for about £3 a kilo, which would have been fine but sadly, they’d been a little bit overcooked. I will say though, that the sauce had a really lovely flavour to it.

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I swear, this was actually tastier than it looked!

Now from here on out the evening gets a bit blurry. After 2 years spent as a none drinker due to it exacerbating my depression to an unbearable level (mega lolz), I’ve recently started having the odd boozy night out again. I’m generally a bit happier these days and I thought I’d revisit my old frienemy, Merlot. In all honesty I’m not sure it’s a decision I’ll stick with because when I have one sip of alcohol, that’s it. Party Lucy is out to play. I recently watched all 3 of Iliza Shelsinger’s comedy sets that are on Netflix, and she refers to this as her Party Goblin. One sip of liquor and the Party Goblin takes over and bad decisions will be made all damn night. So at this point in the night I’m a glass and a half of red wine in and the Party Goblin is gearing up to do some dumb shit.

I know that the next things that came out were mini spanokopita – filo pastry parcels stuffed with spinach and feta. Mine was actually a bit burnt but I mean, come on. It’s feta and pastry, like I give a shit. There’s not much you could do to that combo to make it taste bad. There was also vine leaves stuffed with lamb and rice, meatballs which I really enjoyed, and a weird triangle of fried halloumi which was definitely reminiscent of a McDonalds hash brown. Again, I’m not complaining. I like halloumi, I like McDonalds hash browns, I see no problems here. Chorizo was the main player for me though. I bloody love chorizo and this one didn’t let me down. Typically, this is the one thing I didn’t photograph.

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To be honest, by the time we’d done with these I was 2 large glasses in and getting to the point of drunk where I wasn’t that bothered about food. Shockingly, that is occasionally something that happens to me. Weird things huh? I just seem to reach a level of buzz where I just get excited and want to exert some energy. Like when kids have been forced to sit through a car journey and then a tedious browse through the kids menu at pubs with play areas; and 1o minutes later they’re tearing around a ball pit with the look of the devil in their eyes. That’s me after a couple of drinks. So of course for some reason, myself and two other members of our party decided to have a plank off. Yes. A plank off. Because what goes well with drunkeness and an abundance of greek food? Ab exercises. I swear to God…

So at some point in the timeline, some chicken kebabs came out. I want to call them souvlaki, but I’m not sure if they technically have to be in a pita with salad to truly be called that? If any Greek’s happen to be reading, please alleviate my ignorance? It’s a shame I was so toasted by this point, because I reckon if I hadn’t been, the kebabs would have been the high point of the meal for me. They were (from what I remember) marinaded beautifully, juicy and tender.

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The photos on my phone suggest there was also a dish of rice with something that looks like chilli in a separate dish, but who can be sure? Not I, that’s for sure. I definitely didn’t try whatever it was, as by this point, I was stuffed to the brim and ready to get my dancing shoes on. Which I did. With gusto. And that my dears, is something nobody need hear about or mention from now until the rest of eternity.

Thank you and goodnight.

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Weirdo Quinoa – Recipe

brunch, cooking, dinner, Life, lifestyle, recipes, salads, weight loss, weightloss

So quinoa is weird, isn’t it? Yep. That’s my opening line and I’m sticking with it.

Much like cous cous, I find quinoa tastes like actual granulated cardboard if you don’t do something cool with it. I think that’s the reason a lot of people think they don’t like it. This recipe is different though. (Why does my recipe now sound like its two Malibu and cokes away from telling you it isn’t like other girls?) Try it – if you don’t like it, you can slap me in the face should you ever happen to see me out and about. (Pre-warning – please tell me the slap is as a result of this blog post, just so I know I’ve not accidentally offended somebody. Again.)

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The Mighty Weirdo: Quinoa – this is what you’re shooting for when you cook quinoa, fyi.

This recipe is great for a couple of different reasons. First of all, it’s delicious, so…yeah, always a bonus. Second of all, it pretty much covers all of your food groups. You’ve got your protein in the beans and quinoa, you’ve got veggies, you’ve got starch, you’ve got a little bit of the commonly known food group – nummies, in the feta. It’s an all-round winner.

And for even more bonus points, it’s vegetarian, and can easily be made vegan if you omit the feta. ***Yayyyy for knowing that some of your food choices haven’t contributed to the pain and suffering of innocent animals and are also v fashionable right now.***

People often seem to be in one of two camps about veganism – either the gung ho, ‘you will vegan or else you are dead to me’ camp, or the ‘*rolls eyes* but humans are carnivores’ camp. I’m neither. I like vegan food, I feel better when I eat vegan, I see and agree with all the ethical arguments; but being raised as meat eater for the majority of my life does make it very hard to make the commitment full time. And yes, I know that makes me a pussy. Baby steps.

This recipe is also good for making a big batch, then putting it in the fridge to use for packed lunches. If you’re one of those people who struggle for inspiration in that department, this might be a nice departure from the land of ham and cheese sandwiches and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps.

Anyway! Sales pitch over!

Here’s what you’re gonna need:

  • Quinoa – 2 cups (dry)
  • Water – 3 cups
  • Sweetcorn 
  • Black beans 
  • Feta
  • 1 punnet plum or cherry tomatoes chopped in half
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped v finely
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped v small
  • 1 green pepper chopped into small squares
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Coriander – small bunch
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Here’s how this is gonna go down.

Start by chopping up your pepper, tomatoes, garlic, onion and jalapeno. Transfer to a mixing bowl. I just find it’s easier and somehow ends up creating less mess if I get all the chopping done first.

If you’re using canned black beans, whip those out at this point and give them a rinse in a sieve before adding those to the veggies, along with the sweet corn and feta. Give it all a jumble together. If you’re anything like me, at this point you’ll be taking a second to admire the pretty colours. This step is optional, and entirely dependent on how much of a hippy you feel like being on that particular day.

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Can you paint with all the colours of the mountains? Can you paint with all the colours, of the veg? (Guess I left out the black beans)

Next is the quinoa. You’ll need to rinse this before you cook it so that it doesn’t taste bitter. Put it in a sieve, under running water. I’m never 100% sure why, but for some reason, it seems to produce little bubbles which then go away when it’s rinsed. Oooooh bubbles.

Then you want to boil your water in a sauce pan, add your quinoa, pop a lid on top of the sauce pan, reduce the heat and simmer away for about 10-15 minutes until your quinoa is soft, fluffy and has absorbed all the water. Separate the quinoa with a fork and set aside to cool down a bit, whilst you make the dressing.

I prefer making the dressing in the nutribullet, because I am a lazy, millennial so and so. If you don’t have a nutribullet, or a blender, you can still make the dressing – just use a sharp knife to chop up your coriander and give it all a mix in a bowl – simples. As it stands, I just pop everything into the nutribullet, whiz away for about 30 seconds, and there you have it.

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Looks like mould, is actually delicious dressing.

Your final step is to mix the cooled quinoa into the veggies, stir in your dressing and then try not to eat the whole bowl in one sitting. Also – try serving this with nachos and using this as the ‘dip’. So. Damn. Good.

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Oh mama.

Enjoy your weird quinoa, y’all!

 

 

The Best Quesadilla In The Whole Dang World

cooking, food, mexican, recipes

 Ok, so granted I haven’t eaten a great deal of quesadillas in my time so my heavy praise here is possibly a tiny bit misguided. And arrogant, given that I made this dish myself. But hey! Idiocy aside, this is still a pretty fantastic meal. Whilst I was living at home, the only Mexican foods we regularly ate were fajitas and chilli. Don’t get me wrong, my parents are foodies too (that’s where I get it from), and when they cook they do it right; but Mexican was never really something we explored too much. Since moving out, I’ve loved having the opportunity to cook for myself on a daily basis and try out new recipes. This one was a bloody corker, let me tell you! The construction process for this out of body experience inducing dish is as follows:

  • Spray one side of a fajita wrap with fry light, turn over and line half the wrap with thinly sliced chorizo (the kind you get in the deli meats section, with the salami and prosciutto).
  • Sautee sweet potato in a none stick frying pan with a bit of fry light
  • Once your spud is cooked, mix in some chopped coriander and crumbled feta.
  • Spoon the potato mix on top of the chorizo lined half of the wrap.
  • Fold the ‘blank’ half of the wrap over to make a taco shape, then load the whole thing back into the non stick frying pan and leave to crisp up. Once one side is crisp and golden, flip and repeat on the other side.
  • Take out of the pan, cut and DEVOUR.

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I haven’t listed exact measurements here, because honestly I think it’s a case of your personal preference and good old fashioned common sense. If you find feta to be very strong, just use a little bit, or switch out for a mature cheddar. If you love coriander, load her up! Play around and figure out what tastes good to you. I do believe though that this combination of flavours go together so damn well that there’s just no way you can make this dish taste bad. What I also love about this dish is the ability to ‘healthify’ it. This was a weekend meal for me, so I just used the standard ingredients as listed above. For a week day meal though, you could easily add in some spinach or mushrooms to the sweet potato mix (as long as you precook and squeeze out excess liquid) to boost your veggie intake. You could also use a whole wheat wrap instead of a white one to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your nutritional buck out of your carbs. Serving the quesadilla with a big side salad or some broccoli stir fried with chilli would make this a perfectly simple week night dinner that doesn’t compromise on flavour. On a similar note, the strong flavours of chorizo and feta mean you really don’t need to use a huge quantity of either ingredient. There are so many ways you can adapt this dish and make it your own, super healthy version. Get creative and try not to drool too much!