Roots and Fruits Vegetarian Cafe, Leeds

Roots and Fruits Vegetarian Cafe, Grand Arcade, Leeds

I was lucky enough to get chance to meet up with an old school friend who was in Leeds for work recently, and decided to take the opportunity to try out Roots and Fruits, a veggie cafe that had been recommended to me….and it didn’t disappoint!

For a start, I adore Leeds’ beautiful arcardes. I love the glass-fronted shops and cafes, and the nostalgia and elegance of it all. Roots and Fruits is a charming little place which sits beautifully in the Grand Arcade, right in the town centre. The space is bright and airy, cheerfully decorated and informal.

We were welcomed by the friendly Kay, co-owner, and after nattering away finally picked from the ample menu choices, which included daily specials. Although tempted by the burger of the day (yes, they do a burger of the day!!), I opted for the lasagne…..partly because it’s something I don’t often make at home (SO much washing up) and partly because it contained mushrooms (which I don’t get to eat a lot at home because Adam hates them!). It’s actually made with feta as well as cheddar, which made for a super creamy bechamel. It was pretty dreamy actually, and mega filling…so much so that I had to forgo pudding and opted for coffee instead (which was pretty good too).

The cafe is open from 11am until 7pm (it’s a shame it doesn’t open later) and I know I’ll be back often….next time I’ll try the burger of the day and try to save room for churros and hot chocolate afterwards!

Ems x

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Meat Free Week

As you’ve probably seen on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere already, this week is Meat Free Week! The global campaign is challenging us all to give up meat for the week, to get us thinking about how much meat we eat, and the impact of that on our health, the environment and animal welfare. It’s not just about red meat (beef, lamb and pork), but all meat, including poultry, processed meat (like ham, bacon, salami and packaged sandwich meats), fish and seafood.

Going meat free for one week is a really positive step for anyone; The hope being that for the other 51 weeks of the year you’ll consider eating smaller portions or fewer meat-based meals as part of a balanced diet, and also ensure that the meat, fish, eggs or poultry you eat is ethically and sustainably produced. I’ve written about my feelings on meat-eating before, and because this means I eat very little meat (those ‘meat-free mondays’ actually work better in opposite in our house as we’re only really likely to eat meat once a week!) I suppose this week will be relatively easy for me.

And that’s why I thought I’d share a load of recipes to encourage you to take part, and to show you how easy it is to eat meat free….really well! I adore my food, and I love meat and fish and all the rest, but because I am now very picky about these (in terms of welfare mostly) the increased cost means that it’s more of a treat than a staple. I’m sure that this has benefitted my health which is of course a bonus too.

Anyway, for our main meal today (we have this at lunch time, with a lighter supper later) I made a super delicious dish that took only ten minutes and didn’t require any special ingredients at all (in fact, all stuff we had in the fridge already). I cut a courgette into small cubes, and finely chopped up a small white onion (both from our excellent organic veg box from a local farm), frying them both in a knob of butter until soft and golden.

I then whipped up a simple four cheese sauce, by melting another knob of butter in a pan and adding a small carton of organic single cream. I grated in some of the AMAZING smoked Mrs Kirkham’s Lanchashire I bought at a farm shop recently, some organic mature cheddar, organic parmesan, and a little left over goats cheese that needed using up. Once that was all nice and melty, I thickened with a little sauce flour and cooked some fresh gnocchi in a second pan. Then it was just a case of combining the veg, cheese sauce and gnocchi…serving it up and scoffing the lot! SO quick and easy…..very satisying….and of course, meat free!

Well hopefully that’s enough to whet your appetite, and perhaps you’d also like to try some of these recipes to enjoy a week of meat free meals…..

I hope that gives you some inspiration to go meat free for the week….if you’d like any more ideas or advice please do leave a comment as I’d love to encourage anyone to join in!

You can sign up to the campaign here….. Good luck, and enjoy!

Ems x

Food on Friday: A Casa Di Alessia, Otley

A Casa Di Alessia, Italian Cafe, Otley

Having managed to clock up some overtime this week, Adam decided to take an extra long lunch break today, and treated me to lunch out. We’ve been wanting to try the little Italian cafe nearby for ages….several people have recommended it to us and we’d heard they serve great authentic pizza as well as good coffee.

It’s a teeny place, but well located just a minute’s walk from the market square in Otley, on New Market. We managed to snag a little table (there are only two, plus a bar with high stools, but we noticed nobody had to wait long as the service is pretty speedy) and opted to try out the margherita and artichoke pizza slices, as well as the veggie lasagne and long coffees. I believe the owners (who served us!) are a couple….she is clearly Italian and in charge of the cooking….he is clearly local and in charge of the lovely welcome we got!

There was a great choice, which I understand changes daily….several vegetarian and meat pizzas, meat pasta, calzones, soup of the day, salads and all sorts. Everything we saw looked delicious and fresh.

We didn’t wait long at all for our coffees, and our food arrived soon after too. I have to admit, we’ve been struggling for a decent coffee since we moved, and so these were easily the best we’ve had in Otley….rich and chocolatey, with an excellent crema. The food portions were much larger than we’d expected (we didn’t seem to mind though) and both pizzas were REALLY good. I love ‘proper’ thin dough bases, and these were clearly made fresh with really good mozzarella loaded on top. The pasta was SO yummy….it was seriously creamy and cheesey, and filled with spinach and mushrooms. Even Adam enjoyed his half and he doesn’t usually like mushrooms AT ALL!

The whole visit fitted neatly into our lunch hour, including walking there and back….perhaps on a quiet day we’ll hang around for an extra coffee or two….we will go back for sure. AND the whole meal (way too much for a usual lunch, but it was our main meal of the day!) came to just £11.40. Such good food and such good value.

I’m afraid I didn’t get any photos as I was too eager to yum everything up, but I nabbed the one above from the owner’s entry on Trip Advisor, where you can see many more great reviews so you don’t have to take my word for it!

Ems x

Foodie Friday: The Copper Beech Tea Room

I do love a quaint little tea room, and when we recently found this charming place I knew it would become a firm favourite. In fact, we took my Mummy there last weekend for her birthday, and she just adored it too!

The Copper Beech Tea Room is actually part of the Copper Beech Art Gallery, which is just a short drive away from Hitchin, Letchworth or Stevenage in Little Wymondley. The gallery sits within an oak-beamed barn on a working farm, and hosts both resident and guest local artists, as well as workshops….. you can learn cake decorating, painting in many styles, mosaicking, lino printing, hand applique, gilding and lots more! The owner actually spotted the self-made dinosaur necklace I was wearing, and once we got chatting about what I do invited me to bring some of my work along for her to see and perhaps sell!

We love having a wander around the gallery as we wait for our drinks to arrive, but then it’s time to settle down in the darling little tea room!

Nothing matches in the cosy little cafe….there are charmingly mis-matched chairs, tea cups on totally different patterned saucers and art work of all styles on the walls. One wall is dominated by a gorgeous large dresser, upon which stand various home made cakes for you to gape at! The menu is great for us…nearly all veggie, but plenty varied to boot. There’s a quorn spag bol, toasted ciabattas with your choice of fillings, pasta dishes and soup. For just £7.50 you can get any drink of your choice with any main meal, and for £10 you can also choose a cake!

On our most recent visit I opted for the mushroom bake, which is a seriously yummy sort of pattie with loads of cheese inside and all crispy and breadcrumby on the outside. All the main meals come with delicious home made coleslaw, pasta salad and a nice leafy salad (which I am happy to say is not dominated by rocket or raw onion which often spoils a side salad for me!). Adam and Mummy had toasted ciabattas, both of which were devoured! We can also really recommend the (pictured) stuffed mushrooms (with with parmesan risotto or with goats cheese and onion marmalade) as well as the goats cheese puff which we’ve had on previous visits.

Tea for one comes in a pretty little tea pot, whilst my hot chocolate was served in a huge mug topped with stacks of cream and hundreds and thousands! The meals are way too big to be able to tackle a cake straight afterwards (especially as the cake portions are massive too!) so our waitress kindly wrapped up our two slices of pineapple cake and slice of apple cake to take home! We made the right choice too….the huge portions made a nice pudding about an hour after we got home, and then stretched to pudding after our supper too! Both cakes were amazing to boot….seriously tasty and moist, just like a home made cake should be.

We’ll definitely be going again soon and couldn’t recommend the place enough….it may be small but it’s certainly perfectly formed, and beats the in-town chain lunch haunts hands down!

Ems x

Weekend left overs

Further to our relatively lazy weekend, it was a simple supper for Saturday….mainly made up of whatever we could find left in the fridge before Sunday’s trip to Waitrose. I don’t think our efforts were too shabby though, as the resultant dish was hearty, comforting and delicious. Not too naughty either!

Collecting up all the vegetables we needed to use, we made up a sort of casserole or broth. We included (in the order that they were chucked into the pan)…….garlic, red onion, potatoes, carrots, parsnip, red pepper, red cabbage and peas. We cooked these up with a veggie stock (I like Kalo’s Organic Vegetable Stock Cubes), plus some secret ingredients…..Worcestershire Sauce, Mushroom Ketchup, Thyme, and the sacred Aromat.

With a hunk of crusty bread, this easily makes it onto our list of top home cooked meals, and is by far one of the easiest to boot!