Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Treating IBS with Indigo Herbs

We all live stressful lives in one form or another; it's a facet of modern living. We are bombarded everyday with messages that our brain determines are urgent which leads to a constant state of low-level stress. For others, this low-level stress can graduate into persistent worrying, anxiety, depression and ultimately ill health. 
Earlier this month I was diagnosed with stress-onset acute IBS. I've met several people with IBS before and I think it is more common today than ever before. That said, I had never be informed that it was a side-effect of stress. I truly believed my life wasn't that stressful, but, as it turns out, it kind of is! I run this blog; work nine hours a day in Central London in a highly pressured role; manage my home; plan my wedding; and all the other tasks expected of a functioning home, every single day. It's hard to balance my time and I often feel busy as hell, but I never saw myself as 'stressed'. 

I've suffered with other stress-related conditions in the past (constant headaches, brain fog, exhaustion, lack of motivation etc) but have always blamed things like my diet, inconsistency with exercise, boredom or lack of sleep. I've not really ever made the connection between my day-to-day life and the effects on my health. In many ways this is completely ridiculous - I'm always reading articles about stress and it's effects on your health, I'm a food and fitness-led person and I am a true devotee to sleep. Why I expected to go on running my busy life in the way I have been with no effects on my health, I have no idea. 

So that's where I am now - stuck with a life-long illness that is causing me daily pain. I wake up in the night in pain, I feel sick throughout the day, I'm learning to avoid certain food and I'm feeling unhappy with my constantly bloated appearance. Although there is no cure for IBS there are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms and that's where Indigo Herbs come in. 
I've worked with Indigo Herbs quite a lot in the past. I think their products are fantastic and the range is truly mind-blowing. I mean who even knows what mushroom extract is or how to use it! The team at Indigo Herbs reached out to me recently and I explained my IBS diagnosis. On the website they have blog posts and product pages dedicated to digestive health and specifically IBS. I picked out the Super Cleanse Bundle - a four piece set including tea, essential oil, pulse point roller and massage oil - and peppermint herbal tea which was recommended by my GP. 
You can follow my updates and how I get on with these products on Twitter and Instagram. Have you ever used natural methods to alleviate these problems? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

A Winter Warmer from The Tabl

Fancy winning a Christmas treat? At this time of year we are (rightly so) buying gifts for those we love, but this year Tabl want to treat YOU to a present of your own!
Tabl is a community platform where fantastic food producers, supper club holders and foodie fans can come together and share the love. Whether you're looking for the perfect present for that picky person in your life or chasing the adventure of unknown flavours, Tabl has the answer.

NOW CLOSED
I love taking a healthy approach to classic recipes or adding that certain something to established foods to make them sing, and that's exactly want Tabl want to hear from you. Simply comment below this post, or Tweet me, you favourite winter warmer recipe with a twist! Why not update one of the below fabulously festive favourites? 


  1. Mince Pies 
  2. Leftovers
  3. Christmas Cocktail
  4. Winter warmer drink
  5. Stuffing
Here's my recipe for red wine and honey spiced hot chocolate, or chocolate spiced mulled wine depending on your view point!
Red Wine & Honey Spiced Hot Chocolate


1. Begin with whole milk. It's natural fats will help the chocolate to melt slowly and create a really creamy finish. Pour two mugfulls into a small saucepan and pop the heat on. Low and slow is the game here.

2. Add in your solid hot chocolate. I'm using Cocoba's 71% Ecaudor Origin Dark Chocolate. Allow this to slowly melt down. 
3. Once the chocolate has fully melted add in two table spoons of red wine and a table spoon of honey. Normally one would cook out the alcohol in the wine but I like my treats extra naughty. I've used a Chateau du Fort Pontis (2011) Fronsac Bordeaux and Pearly Queen London Honey from Enfield. 
4. Allow this to reduce down a little and pour into your favourite mug! Enjoy!

NOW CLOSED

Don't forget to Tweet or Comment with your recipe for a chance to win a lovely Christmas pressie from Tabl!

Monday, 12 December 2016

Brunch at Frank's Canteen, Highgate

Hidden away in the residential hills of Highgate sits Franks - a supper club pop-up and brunch hub. Specialising nearly exclusively in pre-dinner dining, Franks has a distinctly European flair with the likes of beef bourguignon and shakshuka both featuring on the menu. We visited for brunch at 11:30 on Saturday morning and it was packed!
The service, initially, was a little slow with later arriving tables served before us. Once we had decided on our food the service was much quicker. The wide, chunky tables are lovely but perhaps a little better suited to a venue with more space - while I am quite open minded when it comes to communal seating, tables of 4 equate to two couples which I found a little uncomfortable. Perhaps investing in thinner tables to give the option of tables of 2 would be a great move for Franks.

We began with two flat whites which were perfectly nice, creamy with a good amount of bitter rich coffee. Sadly the tops were left a little bereft with no latte art - which seems awfully middle class but I do like a bit of latte art. The orange juice I selected was perfectly balanced between sourness and sweetness, which was delicious. 
For food we ordered beef bourguignon for Alex and poached eggs on toast with smoked salmon and homemade baked beans for me.

The poached eggs on both dishes were absolutely perfect. They had beautiful orange yolks with plenty of runniness and excellently cooked whites - well done chef! On my plate, the portion of smoked salmon was absolutely exceptional and in fact better value than buying a packet the same size in a super market! The watercress salad was also well dressed and cut through the richness of the dish as I had lots of big, protein-rich flavours. 
The beans, homemade and bright red, were sadly too watery. The sauce needed to be much more reduced and the onions cooked down more into a sticky sweetness to have that sticky, moreish, almost creamy texture that I want from baked beans.

The story was quite similar with Alex's Beef Bourginon. The crisp fried bread was great under his poached egg. It was not at all greasy, really crisp and a lovely addition to the stew. The beef was, in part, quite chewy and slightly undercooked and the sauce again was quite watery and needed much more reducing to give it that sumptuous richness that comes from a good Bourginon sauce. The herb salad was refreshing and brought a lightness to this classically rich dish.
  Overall while I enjoyed my visit to Frank's it's not one that I would rush back to. I would love to see the sauces reduced down more to really infuse the great flavours they had in them and let the dish really sing. I think the table situation isn't that big a deal if you're not bothered by sharing (perhaps I'm just picky) so don't let that put you off. It's a solid brekkie if ever you needed one.

Thank you Frank's for hosting this review. All opinions are my own. 


Friday, 9 December 2016

REVIEW: Yuu Kitchen, Aldgate

Yuu - haha - know when two Aussie's set up a restaurant you're in for a fun night. When those Aussie's are previously of ICEBAR, Nobu and Zafferano you're definitely in for a treat. And that, my friends, is exactly what Yuu Kitchen is.
Opened earlier this year as part of the regeneration of the Aldgate area, Yuu Kitchen specialises in the fun, freshness and flavours of South-East Asia and the Pacific ring. Comic book references and modern-manga pop art bring this refreshingly traditional cooking style right up to date, offering a point of difference against the hundreds of South-East Asian establishments across London.

The menu is decorated with South-East Asian turned London favourites: bouncy bao buns, 7Up-braised pork belly, poke bowls, jalapeño tostadas, pot stickers and so much more. Plus, the open kitchen means you can chat with your chefs while they prepare these delicious dishes! I also love the fact that wine, bubbles and beers are all on tap, creating a casual vibe for all-night feasting! 




We began with pardon peppers which were slightly sweet from the yuzu dressing  and could have done with a little more salt. Alex then enjoyed a bowl of chicken wings which were really tender with a salty and sweet sauce. The wings were not too sticky even though covered in sauce and remained crispy - no mean feat
Next we tucked into spring rolls. The chicken and pork spring rolls had lots of different flavour profiles with a slight aniseed touch from star anise. Sadly there was slightly too much salt. The veggie spring rolls were filled with rice noodles sweetcorn and shiitake and enoki mushrooms then wrapped in salad leaf with shiso, coriander, Thai basil red onion and chilli with zingy chilli dressing. YUM!
The scallop and prawn dumplings were sweet yet meaty and worked excellently with the black vinegar. There was also a peppery finish from cracked black pepper on the top. Contrastly, the butternut squash dumplings were served with a dulce de leche textured sesame sauce. The flavour was sweet and warming, with a creamy texture to the filling. The small sweet corn kernals gave a little crunch.
Our highlight dish of octopus was cooked for 50-60 minutes (depending on size of octopus) then soaked over night in sake, mirin and soy then soaked. It is then finished on the Big Green Egg. The topping salad of red onion, baby coriander, normal coriander and red aramath and dressing of garlic and ginger brought so many flavours and textures to the dish, but the octopus was never overwhelmed. The meat was perfectly tender, basically the best octopus ever, and not at all tough to chew. 
Alex's dish of Iberico baby back ribs, marinated low and slow in 7Up, ginger, garlic and five spice was also finished on the Big Green Egg. The meat simply slid off the bone and was, in his words, just mmmmmm.
Gosh, we really ate so much! We opted for two types of bao: the wasabi mayo with soft shell crab wasn't too hot at all but sadly really overwhelmed the delicate crab and I could hardly taste it. The pork bao had the crunch of peanuts which worked brilliantly against the soft bun and tender pork, with subtle hint if chilli  to end.
Finally we ended with a dish of aubergine, caramelised and served astonishingly hot. The sugary flavour actually worked nicely with the melting, soft texture of the aubergine. Our final dish of Kobe fish was served with green beans and shiitake, then finished with hot sesame oil. The green beans had a nice crunch, the fish a firm texture (almost cured and similar to seared tuna) and the dressing was very light. 
What can I say, we really went for it at Yuu Kitchen! I would absolutely thoroughly reccomend you going RIGHT NOW. The chef is an absolute dream (sit up at the bar for chats) and the food is exceptional. Yuu Kitchen currently host a range of deals and offers with more coming in the new year. You can check them out here: http://www.yuukitchen.com/yuu-promotions/

Thank you Yuu Kitchen for hosting this review. All opinions and images are my own. 


Friday, 25 November 2016

Wine Tasting at The Vestry with Bodegas Valdemar

Earlier this week, the lovely Colleen from Blonde Across the Pond and I attended a wine tasting event at The Vestry, Clerkenwell. Housed just next door to the iconic Fox & Anchor pub, The Vestry is a modern wine bar taking on those 1980s preconceptions and offering something truly unique in the area. 

* Apologies for the lighting in some of today's snaps *

I've not attended a wine tasting before so I wasn't too sure what to expect but I absolutely loved it! I mean, it's wine and food. What's not to like! Our hosts were Rioja winery Bodegas Valdemar with Jesús Martínez Bujanda Mora, the fifth-generation of the winemaking family, guiding us through the evening. We sipped on stunning Spanish wines while tucking into perfectly matched British plates from The Vestry's delicious new menus. The whole evening has inspired me to get into wines a little bit more and perhaps consider a wine course. Any recommendations, please let me know. 
We began with oysters, dressed in a touch of sherry vinegar, salt and lemon juice, perfectly paired with a light and refreshing Conde Valdemar Rosado 2015. The wine was made from a blend of 85% Garnacha and 15% Tempranillo giving a silky texture and floral flavour.
Next was an intriguing white Rioja, something I have not experienced before! The wine comes from Valdemar's iconic vineyard (apparently) the Alto Cantabria, which boasts a top of the hill position overlooking the Ebro river. The Tempranillo Blanco 2015 has only 10,880 bottles produce so we felt incredibly lucky to be sipping on this smooth, creamy wine. The flavour was quite savoury, perhaps a touch oaky, and worked well with the salty seafood combo of tempura squid and salt-baked prawns. 
Our first red of the evening was Conde Valdemar Reserva 2010. Again this was a blended wine with 85% red Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and 5% Garnacha which gave a rich but not too rich finish. It worked perfectly with my pairing of aubergine, red peppers and capers while meat eaters enjoyed Aylesbury duck livers on toast. 
Our second red wine of the evening was from the Inspiracion Valdemar collection - a modern take on traditional Rioja wines. The Las Seis Alhjas Graciano, 2010 - an excellent year for this vintage - was paired with pork belly for the meat eaters, thanks to its creamier texture and light finish, and roasted cod with mashed potatoes, watercress and a mustard dressing for me. The wine was light enough to work well with teh fish but the creamy notes really complimented the mustard cream sauce. 
Our final wine for the evening was an absolute treat - a Conde Valdemar Gran Reserva, 2004, magnum! This heavy wine was the perfect finisher to our meal as the meat eaters enjoyed Aberdeen Angus hangar steak with chilli, parsley and garlic, while I tucked into a truly delicious bowl of potatoes, parsnips and (I think) salsify in a rich onion puree with roasted onion shavings. This isn't on the menu so I feel really honoured to have been served this rich, warming bowl of yumminess. It was the best pairing of the evening in my view, and really rounded off our experience. I was enjoying it so much I forgot to take a photo! Sorry!

Throughout our time at The Vestry, Jesús was incredibly welcoming, thoughtful, helpful and open to questions. Even after five glasses of wine (and good quality wine at that) I didn't feel drunk, perhaps a little tipsy, and felt I was able to enjoy each sip throughout the evening at a really good pace. This has really excited me for future wine tastings and pairings. Make sure you check out the 'What's On' page of The Vestry for future events!

Thank you to The Vestry for inviting me to this wonderful event. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Friday Nights at Fu Manchu, Clapham

Claphamites rejoice! Fu Manchu remains king of the cocktails in your postcode and even with a strip to rival Ibiza, the tucked-away bar and restaurant really is worth the trek.
Last Saturday, we were invited to to dance the night away to emerging talents at Tokyo Lounge, returning after a small break to Fu Manchu. The atmosphere at Fu Manchu is always electric, eclectic and exciting and Tokyo Lounge works to showcase some of the hottest new DJs.

We sipped on spiced-laced cocktails and heady jasmine Concotions before hitting the dance floor to live acts from Knapp Brothers and Iago, and Jonny Tawn of Jive Talk. I can assure you there was a lot of big dance moves going on - thank god we wore trainers! 
I opted for the Lady Jasmin with Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau, jasmine syrup, lemon juice, egg white and bitters. The flavour was truly extraordinary, with botanical notes and a creamy, soft finish. One also felt rather glamorous with a martini glass in hand! My guest went for a spiced Mai Chai with Ron Zacapa 23-year old rum, Kracken black spice rum, orange curaco, and lime juice with a sprinkling of chai tea syrup - it's like my favourite winter drink but with a bloody good kick of rum!

Thank you to Fu Manchu for hosting our evening of dancing and drinks! 

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