Thursday, 19 July 2012

The incredible nutshell

The rather faded "In a nutshell" on Chesterfield road was there for as long as I can remember, and was a great place for veggies and health food fans to grab a few essentials. Unfortunately though as time went on, the lady who owned it grew older and more tired and with it, grumpy. It was because of this that I didn't care too much for the shabby little shop with its worn around the edges sign and staff.

But all this has changed! 

The brand new "The Incredible Nutshell" comes with a huge array of exciting new ingredients and enthusiastic and friendly staff too! It's spacious and well organised produce is appealing to the eye and tummy, plus its vintage d├ęcor really adds a characteristic charm to the place, and the unusual window display really catches peoples eye and draws them inside.

The new owner is keen to keep things as local as possible, from the fresh cat lane bread, to  rescue battery hens eggs from a local lady and another Pakistani  woman from the refugee centre at st marys who makes authentic onion bhajis. They are looking into adding honey and organic vegetables to the exciting range of foods including the more adventurous ingredients such as sumac, miso and coconut oil. Certainly a wider range compared to your usual health food store.

Plus they are the only place in Sheffield to sell happy kitchen brownies, my favourite! Get yourself down there, if it's sunny then take a seat outside and enjoy a cat lane scone or authentic Pakistani bhaji washed down with a refreshing healthy drink.

Charity dinner for the long well walk.

On Friday I took part in one of the most challenging services I've ever had to do!
It was all for a good cause, my good friend Liam Garcia's charity the Long Well Walk, (Click the link for more info).
Fusion, had allowed use of the premises free of charge and myself and the other three chefs were volunteering our work for the night.
It started with an unveiling of the load of beautiful local food that had been donated from generous suppliers across sheffield. We had a few minutes to decide what to make (we had been given a few clues as to what was inside, otherwise it would have been near impossible!).
We came up with eight different meals including wild mushroom and rice noodle laksa, venison meatballs in a tomato sauce, berry klafoutis, seabass fillet with fennel and spiced chocolate with chai tea.
The catch was that we only had TWO hours to prepare these eight courses, and for over 50 diners!!
I wasn't exaggerating when I said it was one of the most difficult services I've ever done!
We managed it though with only a few hiccups and the event was a raging success, raising over £850 for the charity.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Thai Punna Review

It's not often I go out for Thai food, mainly because Chinese is my favourite cuisine from east Asia. A few nights ago I fancied a change though and as I cycled past Thai Punna, I realised I'd not yet sampled their food so I decided to pay them a visit.

It was just gone half six and as I walked through the door, I noticed the chef's were sat down. Once I entered though, they all sprung to life and gave me an enthusiastic greeting. As there were no other customers inside, I'm guessing they were passing the time by watching the folk of London road, going about their lives.

I was shown to my seat, declined the obligatory prawn crackers and treated myself to a coconut, orange and peach cocktail which was creamy, tangy and thirst quenching. Just what I needed after a hard days work.

I went for Tao hu pat (that's stir fried tofu to me and thee), accompanied by "healthy brown and jasmine rice".
As I waited for my food I took in the elegant surroundings, modern with deep red walls and wooden floors with beautiful crafted elephants and buddha's decorating the place and adding character.

My crisp shirted and charming waiter glided over with the food, and apologised for the, what must have been around seven minutes wait.
The mound of sticky, two toned rice had the distinctive jasmine aroma with a woody background, it tasted comfortingly bland with a satisfying chewy-ness.

A light aroma of lemongrass and coriander from the tofu dish enticed me to dig in. It tasted rather mild. I was expecting a more full on flavour, so was a little disappointed. At least the vegetables were still crunchy. Really though, when I eat Thai food, I want it to be so fantastic that upon looking at me it becomes obvious that this is the real deal, due to my profuse sweating and panting, whilst simultaneously sporting a very content look on my face.

About half way into my meal I received dining companions in the shape of a rather miserable couple who found nothing better to talk about than complain to each other about the traditional Thai music playing over the speakers, and stated that "there is nothing worse".They must never watch the news then...

The bill came to around £11 and I got a free piece of Thai candy.

Food - 6.5/10
Service - 10/10
Value - 7/10

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Real people's recipes - Vegetable and coconut curry!


This recipe comes from my lovely auntie, Mado. I've asked her a few questions to give you a bit of background behind her, hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed hearing the answers!

Where abouts did you grow up and when did you move to Sheffield? In Kharian, Pakistan. I moved here when I was 16, March 1967. I came here to join my family, I had a headache for seven days and was depressed because of the lack of sun. The first time I saw snow, I fell over! I thought televisions were too small because I was used to watching cinema screens. the first thing I ate was toast with butter for breakfast and I thought it was awful because I couldn't taste the butter at all. I soon found out that food here had no taste or smell compared to back home.
Who do you like cooking for? Family and friends.
What is it that you enjoy about cooking? I find it really therapeutic and relaxing, and I enjoy it because I am good at it! It's easy for me. I also like the fact that people enjoy my food when they eat it.
What are the inspirations behind this dish? I wanted to make something different from my usual curries, this was an experiment that resulted in a dish that a lot of people really like. It's very healthy and it can be enjoyed by vegan and meat eaters alike. It's my own creation.
What would be your last meal? It would probably be a mixed lentil curry with a salad of cherry tomatoes, red onions, radishes, cucumber and quinoa. Pudding would be carrot halwa.

Sweet potato, courgette, green bean and coconut curry.
This is a delicious, rich and creamy recipe full of flavour. When served alongside salad and rice and beans it makes for a very satisying dish.

2 Large Onions
4 cloves Garlic
Thumb of Ginger
Tin Coconut milk
2 courgettes
Green beans
1 Sweet potato
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder

Fry your onions, garlic and ginger together with salt until the onions have softened.
Add your veg and spices and fry for a few minutes longer, until the vegetables are slightly tender.
If it starts to stick add a splash of water.
Now add the coconut milk and cook until the potatoes are soft.

Sweet potato, coconut, courgette curry. Vegan, gluten free and delicious!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Easy Filo Satay Parcels Recipe

Don't be scared of filo!
As long as you've got a damp (clean!) tea-towel for tucking the sheets in whilst you are rolling them then you'll be fine. The moisture prevents them becoming brittle and breaking.
These are great for making the day before and leaving rolled but uncooked in your fridge. Perfect for dinner parties! The recipe is vegan but is easily adaptable to include chicken if you eat meat. Make this recipe even easier by using a pack of ready to stir fry vegetables available at waitrose or sainsburys.


  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • As much sweet chilli sauce as you can take!
  • Filo Pastry and a flavourless oil for brushing
  • Thumb of ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • A selection of vegetables or a mix of veg and chicken.
  • (I used 2 courgettes, a punnet of mushrooms, 2 onions, a red pepper and an aubergine)
  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling


  1. Heat the top 3 ingredients in a small pan until thickened slightly, season to taste.
  2. Chop your vegetables (and chicken if using) so they are all a similar shape to one another (or open your packet of ready prepared vegetables)
  3. Stir fry along with the ginger and garlic until cooked and set aside.
  4. Now pour over your satay sauce from earlier and mix it together with the lovely veggies.
  5. Lay out your damp tea-towel and place the filo inside, folding the towel over it so it remains moist.
  6. Wrap the filo around the filling using this method. 
  7. Brush with oil and sprinkle with the seeds before baking at 180 degrees until golden.
  8. Enjoy!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Vegan Currant Scones Recipe

Who doesn't love scones? The answer is no one! Scones are delicious with butter and/or jam and a cuppa tea. A perfect afternoon pick me up! This is a very versatile recipe and you can substitute the currants for any dried fruit. You could even try making savoury ones by omitting the sugar and adding herbs and olives etc.
I've found thinly sliced apples, a few walnuts and a pinch of cinnamon is especially inviting.

450g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
90g sunflower oil
3 tbsp sugar
200g currants
300ml rice milk

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder and oil together until it resembles breadrumbs.
  2. Add the sugar, rice milk and currants then bring the dough together, be careful not to over-knead the mix as it can make the scones hard!
  3. Roll into two 2inch circles and cut into triangles, as you would a pizza
  4. Bake at 180 for about 15 minutes until risen and golden.
Hope you enjoy the recipe!