Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Recipe: Aubergine and coriander dip

Aubergine and coriander dip

I've never been a particular fan of aubergines and as they're not at the top of Mr Kate's veggie list I've never actually cooked them myself. But when I saw two reduced from £1 to 15p each I thought it would be worth giving them a shot.

We were having fish and veg for dinner so I thought I'd whizz them up into a dip to serve on the side. With some fresh coriander on the windowsill waiting to be used, aubergine and coriander dip it was!

Here's how I made it:

1) Pre-heat the oven, wash the aubergines and dry.
2) Prick the skin of the aubergines with a fork.
3) Place in a baking tray and drizzle a little olive oil over the aubergines.
4) Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the skin is all wrinkly.
5) Leave to cool for a few minutes and then scoop out the flesh.
6) Whizz the flesh up in a food processor along with the juice of a lime, a finely chopped garlic clove, a few handfuls of fresh coriander and a glug of olive oil.
7) Add salt and black pepper to taste.
8) Serve with a little fresh coriander sprinkled on top.

This dip would be great with carrot sticks or pitta bread and I certainly would try aubergines again after this tasty experiment!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Restaurant review: La Pazienza, Northampton

La Pazienza, Northampton

I’ve walked past La Pazienza on Northampton’s Wellingborough Road several times since it opened earlier this year but never ventured in. So when a two courses for two (and coffees!) for £17 Groupon deal popped up I thought it was the ideal opportunity to try out the new Italian eatery.

My experience didn’t get off to a very promising start when I called to book a table – I asked if I could book and was told to ring back in 10 minutes as they were busy… Why answer the phone if you’re busy? If I call a restaurant and no one answers I take that to mean they’re either closed or busy serving and I’ll call back later. To actually answer and be told to ring back… well, that’s just not good customer service in my book.

As a result, I wasn’t expecting great things when we arrived but I was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed into a pretty dining room – spotlessly clean, tastefully decorated and neatly laid tables with pristine pale green tablecloths. Someone has clearly paid a lot of love and attention to the room.

Our waiter was perfectly pleasant but we were surprised that our starter order was taken and he left before taking the order for the mains – coming back ten minutes later! Mr Kate asked for fritata for his starter and was told they had none left. He then asked for octopus salad and was told they had none left. He then asked for the coppa salami and was told (can you see a theme developing here?) they had none left… Three out of the eight starters were off the menu so we both went for the easy option and ordered bruschetta with fresh tomato sauce.

With the fuss of ordering, our expectations were lowered once again but were soon raised when the bruschetta arrived. A very generous portion of two huge slabs of bruschetta each but we devoured every bit of the bread laden with delicious finely chopped garlicky tomatoes. Things were looking up!


The mains arrived in good time and I went for fusilli pasta with a tomato and tuna sauce whilst Mr Kate plumped for a classic spaghetti carbonara. Both dishes were thoroughly decent and we ate every last bite. Good home-cooked comfort food.

Tuna and tomato pasta

A nice touch during our meal was the chef coming out to every table to enquire how their meals were – something that doesn’t happen very often in restaurants these days but was a happy addition to the experience.


We were both too full to sample a dessert but as coffees were included in the Groupon deal I did opt for a hot chocolate to get a little post-dinner chocolate hit! And the hot drinks certainly didn’t disappoint – Mr Kate’s Americano coffee hit the spot and my hot chocolate was deliciously frothy (as all good hot chocolates should be!).

The total of our food and coffees bill should have been £30.15 but was just £17 with the Groupon deal.

If you’re after a warming bowl of comforting pasta then La Pazienza is a good place to try for a quick bite and ideal for families. If you’re after something a bit more ‘restauranty’ then it might not be for you but it is well worth a visit for decent home-cooked food in pleasant surroundings.

La Pazienza, 268 Wellingborough Road, Northampton.
01604 949017