Category Archives: Sheffield

Vegetarians are coming!

Feeling a bit under the weather but have friends Jackie and Phil coming to dinner so, as they are vegetarian, Indian seems the way to go. So on the menu was vegetable biriyani, coconut dhal, fresh raita, naan breads and pickles and amaretto syllabub for dessert (have a lot of amaretti biscuits to use up) . All in all very succesful. The dhal especially was very tasty. I read some comments re the recipe and it was felt it was a little bland so I put the seeds from the chillis in also which could have backfired as part way through the cooking it was extremely firy. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and surprisingly it didnt get its revenge on me in the morning.

Recipes and pics follow. From BBC Good Food site

Vegetable Biriyani

Vegetable Biriyani

Vegetable Biriyani

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small cauliflower , broken into small florets
  • 2 large sweet potatoes , peeled and cubed
  • 1 large onion , sliced
  • 1l hot vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp hot curry paste (Madras is good)
  • 1 red chilli , seeded and finely chopped
  • large pinch of saffron strands
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds (black or white)
  • 500g basmati rice
  • 140g trimmed green beans , halved
  • 2 lemons , juice only
  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • 50g packet salted roasted cashew nuts
  • poppadoms and raita, to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7/fan 200C. Pour the oil into a large roasting tin or ovenproof dish and put in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat through. Add all the vegetables to the tin, except the beans, stirring to coat them in the hot oil. Season with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 15 minutes until beginning to brown.
  2. While the vegetables are roasting, stir together the stock, curry paste, chilli, saffron and mustard seeds.
  3. Mix the rice and green beans with the vegetables in the tin, then pour over the stock mixture. Lower the oven to 190C/gas 5/fan 190C. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the lemon juice and check the seasoning, then scatter over the coriander and cashew nuts. Serve with a pile of poppadums and a bowl of raita.
Coconut Dhal

Coconut Dhal

Coconut Dhal


  • 250g red lentils (also called masoor dal or Egyptian lentils)
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • a handful of fresh curry leaves (find these in the herb section, an Asian grocers, or use coriander leaves)
  • flatbread , to serve
  • 2 medium chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2-3 long pointy green chillies , sliced
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 onions , one finely chopped, one sliced
  1. Put the lentils, coconut milk, the chopped onion, tomatoes, chillies and turmeric in a pan with 300ml water, season and simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
  2. Fry the sliced onion in 4 tbsp oil until crisp, add the curry leaves (or coriander) and mustard seeds and sizzle together.
  3. Pour over the lentils. Serve with flatbread.



Fine Food and Wines Sheffield

Fine Food and Wines

Fine Food and Wines

Went to Fine Food and Wines for lunch on Saturday. I really like this place, its a real Oasis of middle class foodieness on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield. They are just in the process of converting the next door shop into a bistro and I’m really looking forward to being a regular there. I have been twice before, once for lunch where I had a masterful Salad Nicoise where the tuna was barely seared and and the eggs were beautifully soft boiled.

The next I visited with friends was for one of their tasting evenings. Our evening was themed on pairing wines with spicy foods. Its rather social, you all sit on a long table and have about 8 dishes with wine pairings, the food was good but became a little samey by the end and it was frustrating to have just small portions of some of the dishes. The wine tasting seemed a little perfunctory, I would liked to have learned more. However it was great fun and everyone got on really well and we had some great conversations.

Homemade Salmon Fishcakes

Homemade Salmon Fishcakes

On Saturday the lunch menu was great and I would have happily had anything on there but we had a glass each of the house white and the home made salmon fish cakes with a poached egg and a curry mayonnaise with a sauteed potato. It was really marvelous. Initially I was disappointed that the poached egg wasnt oozing but the curried mayonnaise was preventing the dish being at all dry so it worked out well.

Its very interesting to eves drop on conversations in FF&W as everyone is so obviously obsessive about food. Behind us was a big communal table where you can sit and share the conversation which is generally about fantastic restaurants that people have visited or food that they have prepared.

It is a little ‘cliquey’ but cliquey in a good way, cliquey in the way that you would like to be part of the clique! A table across from us was offered a ‘secret’ dish of belly pork which we would like to have been offered but in a way it added to the ‘mystique’ of the place. The owner is a ‘bon viveur’ and circulates and mingles with newbies and regulars alike and the staff join in the conversations also, even the chef. It has a real buzz about the place.

We will definately come back for lunch and we are looking forward to sampling the bistro when it opens, go and give it a try it is a really special place which Sheffield should treasure.

Score 8.5/10

Rafters Restaurant Sheffield

I don’t think the people of Sheffield would mind me saying that there seems to be a dearth of good restaurants in Sheffield. Reliable chains such as Strada, Loch Fyne and Cafe Rouge are present and correct but more interesting choices are few and far between. On Friday we took some friends out for a birthday celebration to Rafters Restaurant in Ranmoor. Rafters has been there since 1994, and was taken over by Chefs Marcus Lane and Michael Sabin in 2001. The food is Modern European with a subtle french influence. When I arrived the room was filling up quickly with other diners which is always encouraging to see. The menu we were offered was:


Fritter of soft shell crab with a crab claw & avocado salad, ponzu mayonnaise.
Ploughman’s: warm goats cheese, ham hock, onion marmalade, piccalilli with sage focaccia.
Steamed new season English asparagus with lemon hollandaise, baby brioche & parmesan shavings.
Poached sea trout with confit of Jersey Royals, pickled cauliflower egg & caper dressing.
Home smoked duck breast with a salad of baby kos leaves, smoked feta and a raspberry & walnut dressing.

Main Courses
Roast rump of Derbyshire lamb with a broad bean puree, English asparagus and an almond & parsley sauce.
Fillet of pork wrapped in pancetta with a baby flan of peas and artichokes and a sauce of puy lentils.
Grilled fillet of sea bass on a bed of vine tomatoes & basil with a clam vinegrette.
Chargrilled fillet of Angus beef with a pressed pate of salt beef & green peppercorns, roast shallot and truffle puree with a Shiraz wine reduction.
(£3.00 supplement)
Tart of summer vegetables glazed with mustard & herbs on whipped potatoes.

Summer pudding with Pimms’ jelly & clotted cream sauce.
Strawberry parfait, strawberry sabayon, strawberry frappe.
Valrhona dark chocolate cone filled with milk chocolate mousse, served with orange sorbet.
Blueberry curd and mascarpone cheesecake with baby waffles and vanilla syrup.
Locally sourced cheeses:
Hunters House (cows milk Brie)Hawes Dairy (Blue Wensleydale) Lancashire creamy farmhouse
Served with an olive, celery, apple and walnut salad.
(Filter, latte, cappuccino and espresso)
And petit fours

Three Courses

We were giving an interesting amuse bouche of smoked haddock with cream cheese in a parmesan basket with what looked like a tempura caper berry. It was very nice indeed. Bread was very interesting, warm rolls stuffed with interesting combinations. I had the rather gross sounding tomato and curry stuffed roll but it was absolutely delicious. I was only sorry that they didn’t come round again!

Smoked Trout

Smoked Trout

I had the poached sea trout to start, with the beef to follow. The sea trout sounded rather hearty as a dish and I was slightly worried about being too full for the main but I was a relieved when it arrived as an elegant tower of sea trout supported by a wonderful, slightly tart potato and cauliflower salad. Great start. My companions had the asparagus which looked verdant and fresh and the soft shelled crab which looked fresh and crisp and was portioned perfectly.

Fillet Steak

Fillet Steak

The mains of beef were pretty good. The meat felt a little tough for fillet. I thought that the provided steak knife for fillet steak would be overkill but it was actually required to easily cut the meat. It was cooked medium rare as I asked but somehow seemed less than tender. The accompaniment of a pate of salt beef was interesting but in my opinion overbalanced the dish on the meat side. The small (for 4) portion of side vegetables didnt help this matter. The sauce was well flavoured though a bit clarty (good Yorkshire word!) probably a bit of over eagerness with the cornflour. It wasn’t bad though and it was quite nice as a whole.

Dessert was excellent. Again, a well constructed tower of bread, summer berries, clotted cream and a Pimms jelly riding atop. I have to admit, I couldn’t taste the Pimms in the jelly but it was a great idea.

Service was excellent and unhurried, we asked for a digestive interval after the main course and without hovering they seemed to instinctively know when we were ready for dessert.

Rafters is deservedly a favourite amongst discerning diners in Sheffield and its good to see that it has not been swayed by the constant obsession with adding ‘twists’ to classic recipes and instead produces top quality, jolly interesting food.

Score 8/10