INGREDIENTS – serves 6

300g giant rigatoni
250g diced pancetta
200g cherry tomatoes
300ml stock
1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 aubergine
1 red pepper
50g grated smoked cheese (I use applewood)
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste


1. Pre-heat your oven to 180oC
2. In a pan of boiling slightly salted water, cook the rigatoni for 4 minutes then drain and set aside
3. In a frying pan, sauté the onions and garlic with the pancetta on a low heat
4. Cut the aubergine into centimetre cubes and add to the onion and garlic
5. Half the cherry tomatoes and cut the pepper into chunks before adding both to the frying pan
6. Transfer the pasta and the lightly browned ingredients into an ovenproof dish
7. Mix the stock and the chopped tomatoes together and pour over the pasta mix
8. Cover with tinfoil and bake in the oven for 30minutes
9. Carefully uncover your pasta, sprinkle over the cheese and return to the oven to go golden brown and crispy for a further 15 minutes.

Enjoy : )


INGREDIENTS – serves 4

1 oxtail (ask the butcher to chop them into 2inch thick pieces)
300g carrot
1 x tin of chopped tomatoes
250g passatta
250ml water
1 medium onion
1tbsp Worcester sauce
1tbsp black pepper
1tbsp mixed herbs
1 clove of garlic
salt to taste


1. Put your slow cooker on low then put in your oxtail pieces
2. Peel the onion and cut into a large dice and add to the oxtail
3. Peel the carrots and chop into cm thick pieces (this stops them breaking down too much) and add them too
4. Add the remainder of your ingredients into the slow cooker, stir and leave for at least 4 hours with the lid on

Enjoy : )


INGREDIENTS – serves 4

8 chicken thighs     
250g panko bread crumbs
250ml buttermilk   
1 tbsp. dried oregano            
2 tbsps. Dijon mustard            
2 tsps. salt          
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper


1. Put the buttermilk, 1tsp of salt, 1tbsp of the mustard and the cayenne pepper into a food bag*, give it a mix before adding your chicken thighs and leave for an hour to marinade.
2. Preheat your oven to 180oC
3. In a separate bag put the breadcrumbs and the remainder of the dry ingredients and give it a good shake
4. With a pair of tongues, transfer a chicken thigh into the breadcrumb mixture and shake until fully coated. Remove then place on a baking tray
5. Repeat until all thighs are fully coated then bake for 35mins
6. Turn the heat up to 220oC and bake for a further 10mins

Enjoy : )

*I prefer to use a food bag as it saves on washing up : )

Italian inspiration

L’antica Locanda – York

I absolutely adore Italy! From the culture to the people and most of all…THE FOOD it is a lifestyle I admire and throw myself into fully when I am there. I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to eat in some wonderful restaurants both here and in Northern Italy and I must say the use of seasonal fresh ingredients does inspire a lot of the dishes I cook.

This weekend I went exploring the lovely sites of York and was advised to try an Italian restaurant called L’antica Locanda. The restaurant is on the cobbled streets of The Shambles, slap bang in the centre of York so be careful if you’re in heels, needless to say I wobbled about a bit and this was BEFORE wine! Behind the restaurant is the market and I had the chance to have a great nosy round in the morning looking at all the lovely fresh produce. The array of colourful vegetables and seafood in particular caught my eye and pretty much summed up my food choice for the evening then and there!

Scallops with ginger and leek
I am and will hopefully always be a seafood lover. From oily fish to shellfish to whitefish, you name it I’ll try it. With that in mind and knowledge of the offerings from trawling the market earlier I was hugely looking forward to dinner. The restaurant is as it says… cosy! We’d bagged a table by the window so we could gawp at passers by (don’t judge me for people watching I know you all love it) The décor was lovely and the background music very subtle which I loved. It made a change being able to carry out a conversation in a restaurant at a normal volume without having to yell across at each other.
King Prawns with rocket and cherry tomatoes
Between the pair of us I am pretty sure we sampled most of the seafood on offer! For starters we had, king prawns at £7.95 and the special of the day, scallops at £9.25. As far as starters go I did think this was pricey but then we did opt for seafood.
I was not disappointed! The prawns were butterflied and cooked so they were full of flavour, meaty and not chewy. The sauce was well seasoned and buttery with a lovely pepperiness from the rocket. The scallops were also cooked wonderfully, they were translucent inside and melted in your mouth with not a single taste of grit. They were served with sautéed leeks in a white wine sauce and a bit too much ginger if you ask me. Be aware though they do come with the roe if you’re squeamish! 

After such a positive start I had high hopes for my main. I truly believe you can tell a good chef by how well they prepare dishes with a range of meats or seafood in. Because different cuts have different cooking times it is an art to do it right and do it well. This being said, I narrowed it down to two choices, mixed seafood risotto or mixed seafood linguine. I asked the waiter his opinion and he said hands down the risotto so that was what I went for. Interestingly, it was the cheaper option at £11.25. I was pleasantly surprised at the value of the main, especially in comparison to the starters. The waiter was clearly advising on flavour and not profit…round of applause to the man!

Mixed seafood risotto

When the risotto came out it was vibrant and looked wonderful. It was clear to see a range of seafood, mussels, clams, octopus and tiny shrimp. The sauce was rich and packed with flavour and had just a little warmth from chilli rather than giving me an overwhelming urge to swill my mouth out with milk (it has happened in the past)! The restaurant included seafood both in and out of the shell which made eating it a bit easier although I did quite enjoy getting stuck in. The mussels were tender, clams sweet and the octopus soft and not in the least bit chewy. I was beyond happy with everything except the rice, it didn’t seem to have the starchiness of an Arborio and seemed to lack the creamy consistency I was expecting of a risotto. This didn’t detract from the flavour though and I still managed to polish it of haha!
All in all, it was a lovely evening in a comforting and rustic environment that reminded me of the warm spring evenings in Bussolengo : )

Comfort food: Picky tea

Rum Ribs with wedges, honey mustard slaw & corn on the cob

Have you ever just got home from work, can’t be bothered and want the comfort of a homey tea? That was my night on Monday. JB was ill and had a craving for potato… It didn’t bode well for the week ahead. My solution to the Monday funk I was in was a picky tea. As a serial grazer it is my idea of heaven. Some of my favourite bits and pieces just served up on a board with napkins… BLISS

The solution to last weeks misery-fest at casa BK was simple, rum ribs! To start the process I boiled the ribs in our homemade chicken stock, bay leafs, peppercorns, a clove of garlic and a chilli that was just pierced a couple of times. I truly believe this helps tenderise the ribs and also means it has added flavour throughout. Whilst that was in I knocked up the marinade. This came together by adding some store cupboard ingredients and one of my favourite weekend tipples, dark rum. The measurements were simple and it was just a case of waiting.

I pre-heated the oven to 180o then drained the ribs and poured on the marinade whilst still hot. After a good shake it was into an ovenproof dish for 45mins, making sure to pour on some of the marinade every 15mins and give them a turn to make sure the ribs were super sticky #yum

Surely you have to have ribs with something to mop up the excess sauce? I went for paprika wedges. Simply quartered some potatoes, drizzled with soy sauce and sprinkled over some black pepper, mixed herbs and smoked paprika. These slid in the oven under the ribs for the final 20mins of cooking.


They do take a bit of prepping but the effort is worth it I promise you! Check out the recipe and let me know how it goes.

Enjoy : ) x 

Burger quest: Round 2

Burger quest

Round 2: Byron vs The Banyan Tree


So we’ve rang in the new year and tried getting used to being back at home and doing a big shop again when I spotted a cheeky little Wowcher for The Banyan Tree in Manchester. With it being January and only a few pennies left in my pocket after Christmas, I have to say a half price meal was a bonus. Aside from meaning I can put off braving the supermarkets for another day (victory) it was also a chance for me to re-start my #burgerquest… WIN!

Banyan Spiced Beef Burger

As per my self set rules, I was hungry and ready to take on a burger. Walking into The Banyan Tree I instantly felt welcomed, it just had a really laid back, chilled out kind of vibe to it and I immediately felt comfortable. Old school beats playing in the background and the staff couldn’t have been nicer.

At £10.95 including sides I thought this was value for money before I even saw the size of it. Now I’d already heard pretty good things about The Banyan Tree so I was looking forward to their burgers. One thing everyone failed to mention was the sheer size of the thing! I mean… COME ON! That thing was so big it need an ice lolly stick to hold it together, that’s right, an ICE LOLLY STICK. 

I wont lie, I was intimidated. So let’s break it down. The burger was made up of a toasted brioche bun, two thick beef patties, two slabs of bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and some of their bloody mary ketchup. To make it less of a challenge (yes I wussed out and no I don’t care) I removed the bacon, all the cheese and gave it a good weighty palm to thin it out a bit. It worked. I could just about take a bite out of it now but it wasn’t pretty!

The patties were well seasoned with loads of flavour but they did fall apart slightly, the brioche was still warm and wasn’t soggy but the winner for me was that bloody mary ketchup.  
HOLY COW!! I just wanted to soak in a bath full of it. That stuff was amazing, it had a warmth and tang to it that went perfectly in the burger. I am not ashamed to say it… I was defeated. It is a challenge I would happily take on again though.

Now for the comparisons… it was a toughy, although the burger had a better flavour at The Banyan Tree, I am all about having my red meat how I want it so Byron tops out on that one. When it comes to sides and value for money though, the tables are turned. Those chunky chips with sea salt sprinkled on where hands down champions over the slightly soggy sweet potato fries at Byron. All in all it was a close call. but when it comes down to it it’s the burger that counts. I give the Banyan spiced beef burger a solid 8.5/10 but the Byron classic is still tops for me with 9/10.

Sometimes, size really isn’t everything : )

Food ritual anyone?


Pizza Friday

This all started about 3 years ago… when there was an outfit between work clothes and pjs… we’d both had a tough week and I wanted to do something nice. I didn’t want to wait 45mins (+ 25mins decision time) for a delivery so I raided the deli section of the local supermarket for a range of meats and sufficiently pongy cheeses (for him) and knocked up a pizza dough. Throw in a couple of cold beers and pizza Friday was born. Since then it has been a weekly ritual at casa BK!

So yesterday, aside from it being the first week back after a break from work, it also feels like the longest. In order to chase away the January blues JB and I brought pizza Friday back into our home.

Our pizza’s have taken on a variety of shapes and sizes in the 3 years we have been doing this and the range of ingredients changes according to season, availability, laziness or just because (valid reason might I add). One year I grew yellow courgettes and chucked those on for colour.

I always use strong bread flour and fast action yeast*. It speeds up the whole process after a long day at work and it is sooo simple to do. Once the dough is done it can rest in a warm place while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. I am all about the tomatoey base of a pizza, it is my belief that there is no such thing as too much. I mix tomato puree with minced garlic, oregano, black pepper and loosen it with water or olive oil to help it spread more easily.

Then it comes to the toppings, we have our standard bell pepper and mushroom and that is were all similarity ends. We are so lucky to be within spitting distance of some great produce. @Katsouris has a deli with lovely mozzarella and sun blushed tomatoes as well as a range of other tasty picky bits.

One of our favourites is a little polish stall on the outdoor section of the world famous bury market : ) It is run by a lovely couple who are always more than happy to let you try before you buy and recommend a range of ingredients to suit what you are making. We got some pancetta cut as we asked (in thick slabs). Some of it became pizza fodder and the rest we saved for a spaghetti carbonara.

I am a fan of all things veggie with a dash of meat whereas JB is full blown carnivore. If it used to moo, quack or oink he’ll have double. Same with the cheese, I’ll have non cheesy cheese and he switches between a smoked applewood and a goats cheese. That’s the great thing about homemade though, you know what is in it, choose what you want on it and it takes 20mins prep time and a swift 8mins in the oven.

Some of our fave pizza Friday’s…

It is comfort food at it’s best and long may it last. Here’s to feeling comfortable : )

*warming the outside of the bowl you rest the dough in helps it rise quicker.

Burger quest

Round 1: Manchester Central – Almost Famous vs Byron

A burger is usually the last thing I’d dream of ordering from a menu, in fact I’d usually even go as far as saying I am not a fan. “SAY WHAAATT!” I hear you shouting. I know, I know. It all harks back to university and post drink hankerings for food. Those of you that know Sunderland or went to University there will remember the beauty of a Chilino’s ‘dirty burger’ after a night at the point! Never the less I’m sure we have all had that experience after a night out. Needless to say that put me off the taste of burgers for a good few years.

So why would i put myself though this? Well it happens to be my fiancée’s favourite food! After years of coming up with other places and dodging the ‘burger joints’ I decided to bite the bullet and get over it… Surely nothing could go wrong? I had one, figured it wasn’t so bad and have eaten a few mediocre burgers since. Surely it had to get better I asked myself. So I have decided to jump on the bandwagon and join the quest for the best burger in a 10 mile radius!

Obviously there had to be some ground rules:

  • The burger has to be as simple as offered
  • I had to be hungry to fully appreciate it
Almost Famous – Famous Burger
Now I am most definitely not a burger aficionado however I do know what I like! The first burger to set the bar was the famous burger from Almost Famous. At £8.00 with no sides it was reasonably priced for a city centre burger.

As required I was hungry and definitely looking to wrap my jaws around a burger. I was disappointed as at the time, all the burgers had cheese on (I am most definitely not a cheese fan). I asked for it without and it took a while to arrive and yet it still came with cheese. At that time I was ravenous and thought ahh well, I’m sure it’ll do. 

The famous burger was not to be sniffed at, two well seasoned beef patties, cheese, lettuce and sauce on a brioche bun, this thing was so big it needed a kebab stick through to stop it sliding about. I took the first bite expecting to be disappointed and I was most definitely not! The burger was juicy and full of flavour despite being well done and the brioche bun was soft. Definitely a high standard to beat. I was starting my quest with a very respectable 7!

Byron – Classic Burger
So the competition? The classic burger from Byron. At £6.75 it was one of the cheaper burgers I found. Firstly they asked me how I’d like my burger cooked, who does that? I was wonderfully surprised. I’m a girl that likes my red meat medium rare and that was what I opted for. 

When my burger came it was cooked to perfection. A well seasoned patty on a crisp toasted brioche bun giving it a good colour, it had the standard lettuce, as well as a slice of (what looked to be) beef tomato and red onion for crunch with a decent sized dollop of mayonnaise. It was served with a huge wedge of pickle. Nothing faffy about it just awesome, well cooked meat. The patty was thick and well seasoned and had a lovely caramelised edge.

Hands down this was the best burger I have EVER tasted so far! It is everything I believe a good burger should be, the meat spoke for itself, was full of flavour and was cooked how I want it and not how someone else thinks I should have it. A solid 9 on the burgometer  : )

I have to say, I am getting excited about trying out it’s rivals x

Same old breakfast BLAH!

How do you like your eggs?
My New Year’s resolution was to become a healthier, better me (never heard that one before right). Okay so you’re thinking hang on… it’s December? I know. However, like some of you may have done, I conveniently forgot my resolution until people started asking what I was doing THIS New Year’s Eve.

In September, I decided to make a change and have been exercising more regularly and being better about what I eat. For a serial sweet binger like me this was set to be a difficult task. I persevered and now in December, over 3 months since I started, I have something to show for it. My jeans fit better and I FEEL better too.

When I began thinking about how to change (my body thanked me for dropping my breakfast of doughnuts and chocolate) I knew I still wanted tasty food and variety. I came across breakfast smoothie recipes, soups and shakes… I need to chew to feel like I’ve eaten so liquids only are a no-go area for me.

Today I decided to get adapting, I absolutely adore mini quiche so used the same principle without the pastry and just added a few of the things I like to eat. It’s packed with protein and I found they were a good way to get my daily dose of veg in early on. There are many versions of this recipe on line but this is the one that makes me smile the most : ) by adding the onions and peppers in raw, I felt it added a bit more texture to these bundles of yum.
After : )

Ingredients – makes 12
6 medium eggs
1/2 pepper
1 small red onion
100g raw smoked bacon 
50g cheese (I used mild cheddar)
50g mushrooms (I used chestnut)
black pepper and mixed herbs to season
spray oil

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees
2. Finely dice your pepper, onion, bacon and mushrooms 
3. In a bowl, crack your eggs and add your diced ingredients
4. Add your pepper and mixed herbs then stir
5. Spray a 12 hole muffin tray with oil
6. Carefully spoon your mixture into the cake holes and bake for 15 mins or until golden on top.

Let me know what you think x