Naked Juices

I keep finding myself to be incredibly run down recently and desperately trying to boost my immune system through juices, vitamins and good doses of nutritious food (made challenging by the number of commitments I have and being on the go from 7am until 10pm a lot of nights of the week).

Whilst I know juices come with a lot of sugar, albeit largely natural, and in many ways their making causes the disruption of the quality of the nutrients and so on I still find them to be a great option for increasing my energy, mood and general feeling of well-being. If nothing else perhaps a juice works as a good placebo for me and gives me the impression of the being a healthy soul.

Despite each juice claiming to be very different in terms of ingredients, as is noticeable in the colours, there is an overlap in the taste of each of them which can simply be described as “sweet”. The sweetness of the Green Machine juice always throws me off because whenever I seen green I think fresh, light and raw flavours even though it is the perfect place to slot a few green apples.

The green one is certainly my least favourite of the collection as the feel good factor behind it is probably the smallest, unexpected perhaps given the usual wishy washy messages sent out to people regards green juices, but also because the flavours are pretty mundane with just that confusing follow up of sweetness at the end. I mean people want green juices to go through the feeling of cleanliness not to feel like they have just had a fizzy drink afterwards right? Clearly, given how long it has been on the shelf for it has some advantages and there are groups of people that find it an enjoyable product that justifies the price tag, I am just not that sort of person.

At least the Mango Machine tastes of what it claims to on the label, with the sweetness somewhat being justified, and it leaves the consumer feeling like they have got what they expected; a mango flavoured fruit drink. Whilst this one gives me the good thoughts in terms of vitamins and doing myself some “good” and has the added benefit of actually tasting like the intended product it never feels like it is quite cold enough. The bottle can sit in an effective fridge or supermarket fridge section for hours on end and even if it is opened immediately it just does not feel refreshing in the same way as orange or apple juice tends to after being extracted from the fridge.

The introduction of a new flavour, the Acai Machine, packed with numerous berries and red apples showed the greatest balance of flavour combination, feel good factor and also satisfaction that I have experienced yet suggesting the company understands the need to develop and expand on their current offering. This bottle feels the most like a smoothie that you would get from a stand in your local shopping centre after a hard day of battling for the perfect Christmas gifts and with that feeling, even if the flavours cause you to reminisce about summer, I feel like this is a successful addition to the Naked juices collection.

I would love to find out in the comments below; What are your favourite fruit combinations to go into a juice?

Dairy Milk Big Taste Peanut Caramel Crisp

You might have seen me mention on my blog before that I am desperately in the search for the perfect peanut treat or snack despite being allergic to the little delightful crunchy things…

Generally, I manage to refrain and avoid purchasing things that have peanuts in because having a blotchy swollen face is not exactly one for the yearly photo album but sometimes I just really really realllyyyy want some peanut joy in my life. When that happens I end up buying things like this Dairy Milk Big Taste Peanut Caramel Crisp chocolate bar.
Dairy Milk Big Taste peanut caramel crisp chocolate bar packaging

The Packaging

The appearance of this bar, when you encounter it on the shelves is nothing special, and even the big bold wording on the side does not really attract your attention that much but I have found this increasingly with Dairy Milk bars and how they have not raised above the competition of similarly packaged Milka bars.

The bobbling texture of the bar inside is somewhat obvious as the packaging does not sit flat and evenly despite being carefully placed in a box on a shelf and it really brings down the expectations on the quality of the product. Whilst if they had made the packaging a little tighter it could have ended up in the odd raised bit of the bar from being crushed I do not think it would have made a huge amount of difference and instead potentially increased the sales of it on the shelf because of it at least looking up to usual Dairy Milk packaging standards.

Then there’s also the picture on the front that, as always with this sort of thing, massively overplays the amount of peanuts inside the product. The peanut pieces are not that large and they also give the impression that there are several deep layers of peanut product and does not even show a hint of wafer making it a completely inaccurate interpretation of the product. “Artistic Interpretation” is the line I am sure they would run with if questioned regarding how their packaging always looks so different to the actual product…

Dairy Milk big taste peanut caramel crisp chocolate bar square and interior

The Product Appearance

The top of each square really does look great and I appreciate the efforts to give the impression of it being packed with peanut and reverting to the peanut shell to express that rather than in the uncased version that so many people would be used to. Seeing the shells brings some nostalgia to me and reminds me of a time when we ended up with a huge bag of shells that needed sorting out to get the actual nut from within, a bit of a task but a fun one all the same.

I feel that the design of the bar did have an impact on the chocolate itself and that it lacked that perfect usual chocolate shine; by no means was the chocolate dull or not prepared properly but it looked quite thin in some places and that had a noticeable impact on the glaze of the bar itself. For me the glaze and shine of a chocolate bar really makes a huge impact and it mentally gives me the impression of quality, which I acknowledge is ridiculous, but I really feel that the appearance of the bar itself also represents the general decline in quality and care from Dairy Milk that I have noticed over the last couple of years.

Pattern on top of Dairy Milk big taste peanut caramel crisp chocolate bar

The Product Taste and Texture

Despite all the flaws in its appearance the bar actually passed the taste test and had a good balance between chocolate sweetness and peanut savoury flavour. The peanut taste was noticeable but was not a really strong hit that further helped to create that balance to keep this as a sweet chocolate bar rather than verging onto a savoury treat.

I did find a few issues with the texture and that it was a lot of crunch because of the amount of wafer and peanuts and there was nothing to really soften it up a little and as a result it was quite dry to eat, especially because as mentioned the chocolate seemed to be thinner than normal so did not really melt in the mouth to add that softer texture, and that did disappoint me a little.

Whilst this did hit the peanut craving spot I do feel that there are better and cheaper alternatives available on the chocolate shelves in a supermarket and as a result this is not something that I would purchase again or recommend. People on Instagram have used these on top of things like porridge and overnight oats that they have then popped into the microwave to start melting each square down a little and that works quite well apparently but that is really not at all my scene so something that I have not at all considered trying with this particular bar.

If you have given this bar a try I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

Sweet Patisserie, Croydon (To Takeaway)

There are so many incredible coffee shops and cake eating spots in Croydon, we really are rather lucky. Lucky in the sense that we have pretty cafes with good drinks and tasty food to sit in and socialise given that Fairfield Halls is closed, the town centre is struggling as businesses become increasingly uncertain about whether to stay or relocate with Westfield potentially on the horizon and because unless the weather is good enough to sit in a park or green space there are few other places for adults to actually go and just relax together (Boxpark does not count, it is a noisy area where seat turnover time is intended to be pretty quick).

And whilst I have a couple that do the most incredible tea, cake and food on my doorstep in Addiscombe there will always be the first cafe I visited after moving to Croydon, that used to be just down the road from our old flat, Sweet Patisserie and Cafe on George Street. With lengthy opening hours as well as free Wi-Fi, a variety of hot and cold sandwiches and a cake section with macaroon stand that will leave your eyes lighting up like a child encountering a sweet shop for the first time it is a popular hub for people looking to get a short piece of writing done somewhere other than their home, for business meetings or just simply to relax and catch up. They are never in a rush to turn tables and the staff always provide service and advice with a smile that makes eating in a real joy.

Sometimes though you just want to go home and collapse into bed with a treat after a long day at work, get a little something in for an after dinner treat to brighten up the day or have a variety that suits guests coming round one afternoon or evening instead of desperately trying to make the most perfect cafe going (it never happens when you want it to!). Them having the ability to take it away makes it an even more delightfully perfect spot to pop into on your way home, to work for somebody’s birthday or at the request of your boss to get macaroons for an important client coming for a meeting and it is something that I have to resist doing too often or I would quickly start to look rather like an actual macaroon.

It is slightly amusing though as whilst I love the place and their cakes it is very rarely myself that goes in there to collect anything and instead my partner is normally the one sent off shuffling in to try and figure out the lay of the cake-filled land. The items I am talking about today were ones he picked up after nipping into the cafe with a friend and deciding to get me a couple of items for when I finished work an hour or so later and I often find it better to avoid going in there myself because I have this horrible habit of going for the same things rather than stepping outside my comfort zone; melon macaroon would not usually be at the top of my “Things To Consider Buying” list.

Although writing this post I am very tempted to end up walking through town, rather than getting the bus between work and home, and popping in for a panini and tea before getting some cafe to go. Given the constantly terrible weather in Croydon at the minute though that idea will probably very quickly seem less appealing when stepping out into the cold air and considering battling with all the eager beavers pushing through town to try and get their Christmas shopping done early (you can just sense their smugness from half a mile away).

The chocolate piped design on top of the icing on the cake throws me off whenever I go into the store and look at the carrot cake because my mind just cannot process an association of a chocolate leaf with any part of a traditional style carrot cake. If anybody can explain the connection then please do feel free to share the knowledge in the comments below! Once I have gone beyond the chocolate leaf and am able to focus on the cake itself there is a wonderfully sticky and slightly sweet icing that really helps to compliment the spices and more savoury notes of the cake it is holding together. And much like any good piece of carrot cake this one managed to have a few significantly long strands of grated carrot in to serve as a reminder that it is made on sight and full of good hearty ingredients. It is the sort of cake you could ask the staff about and they would be able to provide you additional information as it appears often on their shelves.

Both the macaroons that I had were packed with flavour, soft and swishy with a great texture throughout and for £1 each you would want them to be. The price tag of a £1 is of course the going rate for a macaroon and these are certainly well worth it, from what I have seen a lot of people have a macaroon or two with their coffee whilst sitting down for a business meeting – a little sweet treat without hurting the waistline too much!

The melon one particularly blew me away because it actually tasted incredibly like a fresh watermelon! I am struggling to imagine you having a coffee or tea with a melon macaroon but they make your mouth water so much with intense flavours that you could just get a few to have as a midday treat.

I would love to hear about your favourite flavour macaroon in the comments below or over on twitter.

The Day I Went To Croydon Business Awards 2017

It blows my mind that a year and a bit ago I was stepping back into the workplace, my first proper full time role really, after suffering from a serious deep battle with depression.

I didn’t really know what to expect and if nothing else hoped it would provide some steps to talking to people and not spending every single day staring at four walls alone. In that time though I have learned a lot and developed a huge variety of skills resulting in me being a key part of the team.

And one night in October I joined colleague and the two directors of my workplace at The Grand Sapphire, Croydon for the 2017 Croydon Business Awards. We had made it to the final of the Customer Service award and had high hopes of our daily efforts being rewarded.

Chandelier with blue lights

The venue itself was stunning. Arriving at the front of venue in a dodgy red 2010 Ford Mondeo from a local cab company, a reminder of why the service we provide at work is a breath of fresh air to many, I was not looking too impressed. The building does not at all look grand or worthy of hosting an awards night.

Moving around the corner though I was amazed to encounter a golden entrance alongside a red carpet and fully suited and booted guy welcoming people in. The entrance around the side of the building looked pretty spectacular and the interior with its lights and chandeliers was just as stunning. It was certainly a venue that suited the event and helped to provide a feeling of comfort and belonging, once we had got through the entrance itself and away from the harsh white exterior and uneven tarmac outside.

Table settings for gala dinner Place settings and awards brochure

The tables were tightly packed with booklets, place names, table gifts and all the usual glasses and cutlery making for a cosy affair of accidental foot kicking and clashes of arms but it was nothing too extreme and whilst the compact feeling was obvious and with a room full of people it was only slightly uncomfortable on the heating front. The sort of uncomfortable that makes you regret wearing new shoes as your feet get increasingly warm and jarred in some tightly strapped on heels and that makes listening to Kevin Day properly a real challenge.

But I still wasn’t really sure of what to expect and was a mixture of being fueled by excitement, optimism and the usual anxiety monster lurching within. Given the size of the room and the way that the venue presents itself I imagined it had a number of staff and agencies it could call upon to provide table service, drinks deliveries and general organisation but it all felt rather disjointed…

Vegetarian starterCheese tomato and more starter

The food, by the time the highly inexperienced and very clearly sixth-form kids had actually figured out how to get food to tables and follow up the fact that several tables were missing several plates of food rather than them dashing off to random corners of the room with it, was fairly tasty and the portion sizes were incredibly generous. The staff in the kitchen clearly had their act together a lot more than the waiting staff (mainly due to a lack of a head waitress or common sense kicking in to remind them to do one table at a time and follow the same order as tables as the others pouring out of the kitchen). I have a real bugbear for bizarre table service and this was peak levels of frustration…

The mozzarella and tomato stack was a great fresh way to start the meal as the ingredients were clearly brought in and prepared the same day and there was the added complexity of two different types of tomato to help bring that added flavour punch as well as texture difference. I even managed to take apart the tangle of fresh leaves on the top and get some taste of green from them as well. All in all a good start to the meal, once y’know it actually arrived 15 minutes after the rest of the table got the same plates of food, and it gave me a sign of hope for the following courses.

Chicken main courseChicken, potatoes and veg main course

After a few more awards were dished out it was time for the mains to be plated up and distributed. I had opted for chicken on a bed of potatoes with a variety of greens, in this case a hefty piece of broccoli and wilted spinach, and at first sights I was a little unsure. The greenery had been put into the middle of the dish and I feared that would cause it to continue cooking and end up going from just right to over-cooked.

It was however well balanced and delicious. The chicken had managed to remain juicy and full of flavour, the vegetables still had a tiny crunch to them and the potatoes were buttery and melt in the mouth delicious. The vegetables had been served in sharing dishes before the main dish arrived so that needed to be eaten first and the plates could have done with being a little warmer given the peculiar serving method but the food itself was tasty and a sprinkle of pepper really helped to finish the dish off. Such a hefty portion in a warm room with an evening gown on meant that I was super stuffed and ready to burst afterwards so I was pleased of more awards being on the menu.

Fruit bauble dessert

Given I was so incredibly full after the main course I only took a simple item off of the afternoon tea tiers placed on the table.

You might think me overly dull for going for a little bauble style ball filled with fruit but if I told you it was some of the freshest, most full of flavour and juicy fruit I had eaten in a long time you might think differently. An intense burst of fragrant freshness was just what the end of the meal needed.

Team photo dress from Asus brand Maya Tall section

It sounds like I an being particularly grumpy about the whole thing but, if you read my posts here and on social media often you will know, I am not.

The evening was a wonderful experience and the food was delightful too. My place of work happened to come second and as a relatively new SME we can’t complain too badly about that.

I would certainly recommend to be venue but if you’require planning on holding a big do there probably best to be get your own waiting staff in as well as providing a logical distribution plan.

Vegan Banana Bread

The topic of banana bread has not come up here for over a year, after making a sugar free banana bread, and given I have now got another recipe that I adore that produces delicious results in a few super simple steps figured it was as good a time as any to return to it.

vegan banana bread and bananasNot only does banana bread allow you to not end up wasting those bananas that have been left exposed to the elements for a little too long but it is an incredibly versatile food that can be had for breakfast, a snack or dessert and with the ability to eat it plain, with margarine, a spread or something entirely different (chilli jam for instance) swished across the top of the top of a slice.

This vegan banana bread has a wonderful texture of a light crumb, not at all being dense to eat and also being lovely and filling with a whole whack of energy being packed in. The flavour of banana came through a little but was lifted and altered depending on the topping of each slice and the dates helped to add an additional level of flavour depth as well as a slightly different few bites of texture. I chopped some dried dates up into random but fairly small sized pieces and then mixed them into the mixture; I did not roll them in flour or anything and they remained evenly spread throughout the mixture through cooking so there should be no issues with something similar falling to the bottom.

If you want to add something other than dried dates in then cacao nibs or chocolate chips would be quite good, especially if you choose to reheat it a slice at a time, but also other dried fruits or glace cherries should work well. I know that some people mix cocoa powder into their mixture but I think that finding one with a high enough percentage to keep it vegan makes it a lot more expensive than a cake that is essentially just using up aged ingredients needs to be (it also tends to make it a lot heavier and denser which I think can really ruin a banana bread).

I generally stuck to the exact recipe, including the sugar type, but did add a mixture of mixed spice and cinnamon given we have plenty of both in the kitchen cupboard. The term “mashed banana” is always something that I struggled with and whilst the banana was largely mashed up there was the odd chunky bit remaining but when it was baked these small lumps seemed to have warmed and melted into the rest of the mixture so if, like me, mashing is not your speciality no need to fear! If you do want really mushed up banana then put them in a baking tray, still in the skins, at about 120°c for 30 minutes and then on peeling they will be very easy to squash.

What do you like to add to your banana bread to make it that little bit more interesting in terms of texture and flavour? More importantly though, what do you put on your slice of banana bread?

The Day I Went To A/W #CoopWineTasting

I was so excited to receive an invite to the Autumn Winter Co-op wine tasting event in London for last month. After going to the one in May for the Spring Summer collection I had a rough idea of what to expect but was on the look out for that perfect red wine to enjoy over the festive season.

So after getting ready I hopped on a train at East Croydon to City Thameslink and enjoyed the short walk from the station to the Co-op’s London Warwick Street office just around the corner from the Old Bailey and St Paul’s Cathedral. Even though I had gone into the building before I still nearly walked right on by with the lack of legible signage on the front of it.

Wine glass of prosecco on a plastic box of hay

As always, I was the first person to arrive and Gyles, the senior wine buyer going through the wines, offered me a glass of Prosecco to sample and enjoy whilst waiting. It was a gentle Prosecco and really helped to cleanse and refresh the palette which ahead of a session of wine tasting was certainly needed but unlike a lot of Prosecco it did not seem to be quite so violently bubbly and that made it that little bit more delightful. The Co-op Irresistible Prosecco, recently voted Which? best Prosecco on the high street, is available to purchase in stores for £7.99 and would make a fantastic welcoming drink to a dinner party this season.

After everybody had arrived we gathered around to discuss the wines on offer and how they pair with different foods commonly eaten over the Christmas period. From salmon and turkey to pork pies and cheese to macaroons and mince pies we covered a whole cross section of the Christmas and Boxing Day feast traditions to see how certain wines matched different types of food.

We even sampled some Co-op gingerbread tortilla rolls that were crispy, corny and just had the slightest hint of Christmas spices to them to go with the prosecco. They were an enjoyable little snack and again great to have around whilst welcoming people in and at £1.50 a bag well worth a try.

Red wine and sweet pastry treat

One of my favourite pairings during this section was the first mince pie of the season, which alone was incredible and I will be hunting down in the Co-op this festive season, combined with a 10 year old tawny port. Port is traditionally something that makes me a little nervous as there are so many different types and the way that they are aged can give them a really oak sort of flavour but this one was smooth, full of flavour but not overly powerful and a joy to drink. Especially when it converted the mince pie into Christmas pudding and brandy butter levels of flavour.

Mini bottle of red wine

I was also extremely pleased to hear the lengths that Co-op are going to for making themselves more available to the travel audience or festival goer with their wine. This includes a plastic bottle with rather nifty plastic cup attached for things like Malbec red wine (which just so happens to be an absolute delight as a cheeky evening glass of wine in the bath).

The flavours of the red wine were light and fruity and whilst it did not feel overly strong in taste it did have various levels of structure that made it an enjoyable and tasty wine for an evening of unwinding without the risk of smashing a glass bottle everywhere with slippy hands! The cup design also proved to work extremely well with the rim being soft and not at all irritating to the lips making it very easy to imagine drinking this on the go where no cups or glasses are available (though I do worry that if you put this down on a train tray or table that a bump in the tracks might derail the fun and cause a wine spillage instead).

Mini little plastic cup filled with red wine

It was not just plastic bottle Wine & Go that won me over, available for a whopping deal of £1.99, but also a pouch of wine that comes in a little pricier at £2.49 that allows for real wine travel flexibility whilst also being fully recyclable. Both the bottle and the pouch were Malbec and they did both have a slight different taste to them but it is clear it works well as a wine type that does not need to be in a traditional bottle as the pouch one was also full of flavour and incredibly smooth to drink.

I will admit though that I poured my pouch into a proper wine glass, rather than trying it out of the pouch like you might do on a camping trip with limited equipment, and part of me would be interested to see if drinking it from the pouch changes the flavour intensity or ‘texture’ of the wine.

One Glass Malbec wine for Co-op

There’s also mini cans of sparkling pinot grigio… if pouches or plastic bottles are not your thing and you have a desire to have an alcohol beverage whilst trying to make it look like some fancy coca cola! It tastes better when poured from the can, but if you have a cup to hand I don’t see why you would get a can, and drinking wine out of a can is just a little tiny step too far for me to get behind (perhaps my opinion would be changed if I was taking one on a lengthy train journey at the start of a fun short break away). This is one that I probably wouldn’t recommend (my partner wasn’t a fan too), sorry Co-op but I guess if every person loved every single thing immediately the world would be a boring place.

London dry gin and tonic water

Irresistible Co-op dry gin

So in the biggest announcement of them all the Co-op are bringing out their own brand of GIN! That’s right guys now you can get 5% back onto your membership card just by purchasing some absolutely delicious gin and mixers to go with it. Not only does it taste fantastic and like one of the best gins I have tried in a while but it also has an absolutely beautiful label that accurately reflects the contents and everything on offer. The price for this will also be a steal when it hits the shelves with a purchaser getting change from £20 (even with a bottle of tonic water or similar!).

Co-operative own brand 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

Bottle of rose wine by Jacob's Creek

As well as gin the Co-op have also got on board with the low alcohol trend. At the Spring Summer wine tasting event they had one of these on offer, a Vinho Verde that was best served very chilled but I found leaving in my freezer for rather too long, but now they have also introduced a Slender White and a Slender Red that targets the weight loss community that still wants to have a good time. I was informed by some people attending the afternoon that it worked out between 2.5 and 3 Slimming World syns a glass and both come in at a tasty £6.99 a bottle.

A low alcohol white wine

Pink 'not official' prosecco

Fun fact: If you come across something that is pink but has a distinct feeling of pinot grigio then it probably is! In Italy though they are trying to change a few things that means it can actually be called pink pinot grigio but at the minute that is not an official term so producers have been having to get creative! And yes pink pinot grigio is as delightful as you might imagine it to be and, with the interesting pink packaging, this makes a lovely gift or special treat for an occasion.

And in more good news the wine world is catching up with craft beer in terms of labels and exciting packaging. Traditional shaped bottles with their predictable cute and whimsical labels are on the out and carefully crafted pieces of artwork are on their way in. From labels that have photographs of graffiti from right around the corner of the wine production centre to hand designed pieces like the one below the wine world is really getting into it. With many of the average shoppers knowing that they want a white wine they are more likely to pick a bottle up to read the label if it stands out on a busy shelf; admit it you have done it at least once because it sounds alright and is usually the sort of thing you go for but the bottle looks the best of the bunch!

Craft beer style label on a white wine bottle

Red wine in bottle with rustic label

I have to admit that my excitement levels reached pretty high pretty quickly when near the beginning of proceedings we were introduced to Co-op Irresistible Christmas macaroons in a variety of flavours including my personal favourite; raspberry. These would make absolutely delicious alternatives to a traditional Christmas dessert but also make a fantastic coffee table piece for having friends round or, more probably, whilst doing some last minute frantic Christmas wrapping at 11pm and needing a snack to get you by. Pair them with a bottle of 2014 Domain Lassarre, Cave de Gan Jurancon and not only will the flavours of the macaroons be lifted to an intense level of flavour but also provides an incredible balance of sweetness and joy. I could probably talk about these macaroons and the wine all day so instead save me the hassle and just purchase both and try them for yourselves!

A small bottle of wine with colourful bites

Co-operative seasonal shelf-bought macaroons

I had an absolutely wonderful time at the Coop Wine Tasting A/W event, I mean wine and gin and food hellloooo, but it also gave me the chance to find some bottles that would work really well over the Christmas period and gave me consideration to try a few things that I would not usually plonk for (for instance Malbec wine, when did I become such a fan of red wine?!). All I need now is to figure out what is happening over the Christmas period so I can pick up my membership card and take a trip down to my well stocked and decent sized Co-op.

Pork And Mushroom Pie From Leftovers

Generally roasting a bit of meat is the east bit of cooking for me. You just need to make sure the oven is at the right temperature and any herbs, spices, liquids or fillings have been added added to the meat before cooking it and allowing it to rest for a while before serving.

Finding something interesting to do with the leftovers that allows the roast flavours to still come through whilst also ensuring it does not go dry and rubbery is much more of a challenge but with a bit of consideration, love and time it is possible.

One of the last roasts we (I say we like me and my partner did it as a collaborative effort and it was not just me cooking away) did involved a pretty hefty piece of pork that created enough leftovers for several different meals. To also ensure that some of the vegetables and potatoes, that were getting close to the end, were used up it seemed sensible to do a pie with the only thing in this meal not specifically leftover and needing using up being the puff pastry bought specifically (c’mon who has time to make their own puff pastry).

Pork and mushroom pie, broccoli and mash

I took a lot of inspiration from a Delicious Magazine recipe but did make a couple of changes and would make some more adaptations if attempting this recipe again in the future as whilst it was good there were a couple of things that stopped it being truly fantastic.

Okay, firstly this is an issue with me cooking a lot but not actually having much knowledge with skills and technicalities, figuring out “The leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs” is a lot more difficult that you might imagine. Like you cannot just brush your hand along it is a backwards moment and they will all fall off, as I foolishly assumed, as they are pretty secure and instead you need to have a battle around with them a little to get the required amount. Give yourself time to do this.

Secondly, Whilst this certainly has enough liquid for the pie contents itself I am always torn because putting a gravy with a dish that has a saucy element feels wrong and I can rarely bring myself to do it. This means that all of a sudden the pie goes from an adequate amount of liquid to not enough to be able to put some onto/with the vegetables or mash potato and you have to eat those speedily to ensure they stay at least semi-warm (again this is probably because we should microwave our plates or something before serving and I hate eating cold food if it is meant to be warm). I would recommend increasingly the amount of liquid slightly in equal ratios.

Thirdly, there is an issue with the above and it is something I had already noticed in the one I made with current quantities of liquid; you need a massive dish to stop the pastry from coming into contact with the liquid. We had the issue that the pie could either be long, flat and just about having the contents cover the dish or going for a deeper pie where the liquid came slightly higher up and nearer to the pastry. Obviously putting the pastry onto anything means that unless you happen to balance it on there really well the middle bit will be a touch saggy and if you go for a deeper pie there is the risk of the pastry hitting the liquid. Essentially make sure you have a dish that allows for a thick layer of contents but still keeps enough room for the pastry to droop and expand without risk.

Finally, do not be afraid to go to town with “zest of 1 lemon” as it really seems to get lost in the creamy mushroom sauce flavours and the pie really appreciates that extra boost of freshness and tang against the remains of the roasted pork.

You can of course use fresh pork for this recipe as well but I really think that using leftover roast pork added an extra level of flavour to the dish and because it is getting cooked in liquid it does not at all go dry or chewy and instead manages to soak all those flavours up.

An enjoyable dish that does not involve as much effort as “pie” often suggests to people and it really is a great way to use up some of those leftover items in your kitchen after a roast and week of eating is complete.