Amazing Billy and his gorgeous Chicks

We heard about Billy and Chicks via social media and wanted to try it. We’d heard a lot of good things and as we love southern fried chicken we were very curious about how their chicken tasted. We also found a Timeout voucher online that pretty much sweetened the deal for us (£5 for 2 pieces of chicken, chips and a drink – absolute steal!). But if you find the voucher on Timeout, make sure you read the fine print because you can’t use the voucher on Fridays.

So armed with our Timeout vouchers, on a rainy Thursday, we headed to Billy and the Chicks. If you’re going to Soho Theatre, this is a convenient place for a pre- or post-theatre meal as it’s just around the corner. But be warned that it is a very popular place for cocktails in the evenings so you have to expect a bit of a crush. Lunchtimes are quieter as most of the punters tend to take their food away to go back to their offices.

Window seats looking out on to St Anne's Court

Anyhow, we were seated as soon as we came in (we came at 12 noon and the place was virtually empty). The staff are lovely and while they don’t hover over you, don’t hesitate to ask your questions because they’re really friendly and they know their food. We presented our vouchers and were asked what we wanted to drink. TOP TIP: If you get there early enough (just after 12 noon), you can choose what part of the chicken you want, i.e. breast, wing, thigh, or drumstick, because no one else has ordered and you can have your favourite chicken piece.

Timeout £5 voucher for 2 pcs chicken, chips and a drink

The Timeout vouchers are an absolute deal because Billy and the Chicks are very generous with their chips (skin on potato fries that are almost chip shop like, crispy-crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside! YUM!). I would think one serving of chips would be enough to share between 2 people. The chicken was amazing. The spice mix reminded me of how KFC tasted like when I was a kid. It was very reminiscent of KFC in the late 80s. The chicken is succulent and the flavour isn’t confined to just the breading and crunchy coating on the skin. When you cut into the chicken, you see how succulent it is because the liquid that comes out isn’t oil but juice…lots of it! This is quite easily one of the best fried chicken I’ve had in the Big Smoke.

Free range fried chicken

We also tried the ribs which were okay. The sweet-sour flavour of the ribs was interesting enough to make it stand out slightly from other pure ribs that you could get from fast food places. The ribs aren’t mind-blowingly amazing, but they are okay.

Pressure fried pork ribs in a sweet sticky sauce

The menu is not huge but what they had on there was very complimentary to each other. I was also quite pleased that they served gravy as a side. I’m not quite sure why, but gravy doesn’t seem to feature in a lot of places that specialise in American-style fried chicken. I haven’t tried their gravy though. That’s for next time…because I am going back. The chicken is really good!

Mmmm chicken!

The restaurant space is interesting. There are a lot of interesting photos everywhere – even a mural of Queen Victoria eating a drumstick! I would have wanted it to be lit a bit brighter though. We sat near the large front windows so we could see our food. I enjoyed my eating experience because apart from the food nostalgia, the music was, for lack of a better description, very cool. All the music reminded me of the rap and hip hop music that I liked (mostly songs that were in the soundtrack of Save the Last Dance!) when I was growing up. There is a large dj booth in the corner which convinces me they take their music seriously!

DJ booth

Most fast food places will want to turn their tables over quickly, but at Billy and the Chicks, we didn’t feel rushed. It felt like we were allowed to enjoy and savour our food. The staff are friendly and very zen and I absolutely love the small touches like inserting the straw into the soda can tabs so the straw doesn’t float away. It means that they do think about the customer and what they can do to make the eating experience a little bit better.

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If you want really good chicken, the finger-lickin good kind, visit Billy and his delicious chicks! Even without vouchers, I would pay for the food full price, because it is definitely worth it!

Billy and the Chicks

Salt and chilli belly pork

The original version of this post is in my personal blog.

I used to buy salt and chilli belly pork from Asda prepacked, premade and frozen.  The pork was lovely, and the flavours were simple, uncomplicated and delicious.  There is nothing more enjoyable than straightforward goodness.  But then Asda chose to discontinue the frozen version of the salt and chilli belly pork that I liked (I’d tried the “fresh” refrigerated version and it didn’t taste as nice for some reason).  I’d lost my go-to freezer staple and I didn’t like the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It felt like I was losing a good friend for reasons unknown!

Luckily, I still had the packaging sleeve in my recycling bag so I looked at the ingredients list one evening and thought I could actually make the ingredient list a bit simpler.  The taste reminded me of rotisserie pork that was readily available in the Philippines, so I started from there.  Salt and pepper were the mainstays of this lovely Filipino “fast food” option.

There are only 5 ingredients to this lovely no-fail recipe.  Of course you can change the herb of choice added (I’ve tried dill and it works!), remove the chilli and replace it with just pepper, add soy sauce instead of salt…the permutations can go on forever!  Feel free to customise this recipe according to your tastes!  The beauty of this is that you can make it ahead of time and just store it in the fridge and take it out when you’re ready to cook it.  Oh, and like the supermarket version that inspired me to create this recipe, this freezes well too!  I usually have a pack in the freezer ready for when I can’t think of what to cook for supper.  It’s a reliable old stand-by dish!

Enjoy!

Oh and I’d love to hear how you got on with the recipe, if you try it!

Ingredients:Salt and chilli pork belly

  • 500g pork belly strips, rind removed
  • 1 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 teaspoons chilli flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
  • 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Mix salt, spices and oil together in ziplock lock bag (other brands of resealable bags are acceptable!).  Add the belly pork slices and marinade for at least 2 hours, even better if marinated overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 200C.
  3. Line a baking tin with parchment paper and lay the belly pork slices.  Place in the middle of the oven.  Bake the belly pork slices for 30 minutes, turning the belly pork slices halfway (you can also choose to cook this on the barbecue!).
  4. The belly pork slices will come out lovely and brown.  Cut into bite-sized chunks and serve.
  5. This is great with rice and greens — or if you’re watching carbs like me, just greens (like wilted kale or cabbage, or steamed pak choi or choi sum).

Salt and chilli pork with greens

Cupboard baking: Fruitcake oatmeal cookies

Find the original version of this post in my personal blog

I really wanted cookies.  I mean REALLY wanted cookies.  Although, seeing that I am now in England, let’s rephrase that.  So, let’s start over:

I was craving biscuits!

Okay…no.  It doesn’t sound like me (I am widely popular in my circle for my “Americanisms.”  I grew up watching Sesame Street so my accent is probably more American sounding than anything else), so let’s retrace our footsteps and call what the British call a biscuit a COOKIE.

I knew I had enough ingredients in the cupboard to whip up drop cookies.  I leafed through my cookbooks for inspiration and decided on oatmeal raisin cookies as the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook was making my tummy growl in anticipation!  I started to get the ingredients together and found a bag with about with still a third of the mixed dried fruit and peel languishing in my baking supplies basket.  So instead of following the recipe in the cookbook, I improvised and put together what I’m now calling a cupboard cookie recipe – because you’re basically using ingredients you find in your cupboard!

Ingredients:

  • 135g unsalted butter, room temperature and softened
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 190g plain flour
  • 80g oatmeal (I used wholegrain rolled oats, but quick cooking oats work too)
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 110g of mixed dried fruit and peel
  • 70g ground almonds, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, oats, dried fruit, salt, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ground almonds (if using), until well-incorporated.
  3. Because my hands get tired really quickly, I now, more often than not use a mixer, but this can be done by hand (it’ll just take a lot of elbow power) first with a pastry blender (which I will always call a pastry cutter) and then with a balloon whisk.  Cream the butter and sugars until the mixture is smooth and a light brown colour.  Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until well-combined.
  4. Add the flour and dried fruit mixture to the sugar and butter mixture until combined and you can no longer see the flour.
  5. Drop batter, a heaping tablespoon at a time, onto a lined baking tray (Useful tip: if you’d like more uniform-sized cookies, use an ice-cream scooper.  I use a 45mm one.).  Make sure the cookies are evenly spaced.  I bake 6 cookies per tray.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 11-13 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to sit in the baking tray for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Makes 24 cookies.

Please drop me a line and let me know how you get on with the recipe if you do try it.  I’m interested to know if this recipe works just as well for someone else and if it’s easy to follow!

I look forward to hearing from you!

Fruitcake oatmeal cookies

A gem off the beaten path: Coleman Coffee Roasters

This review was posted on TripAdvisor and on my blog Yellywelly.

Coleman Coffee Roasters front

We came across this lovely café quite by accident.  We were exploring Lower Marsh and the rain started to come down quite heavily.  We were also looking for a place to have breakfast because our usual cheap eat favourite Marie’s on the same street was closed.

We took shelter and the smell of coffee  wafting from the beautifully gleaming vintage espresso machine was amazing!  We were greeted with a really welcome “Hello guys!” so we went further in and looked at the menu.  We were intending to be polite and just have coffee and possibly cake.  But they served Staffordshire oatcakes or “oaties” and there was quite a choice from sweet to savoury fillings for the oat pancakes.  We’d never had oaties before so our curiousity was piqued!  We chose to have bacon and stewed tomatoes.  The aroma of cooking bacon was amazing, and boy were the oaties oh-so-fabulously good!  It rated an “oh-my-God-this-is-amazing!” with my mouth full of oatie-bacon-tomato goodness!  The oaties were light but surprisingly filling.  I expected to feel full and bloated after, but I didn’t.  It was heaven on a plate.

oaties!Now. let’s get to the lovely brew!  I opted for drip coffee because it’s what I do when trying out a new coffee place (my better-safe-than-sorry coffee measure).  I was offered a choice between the Guatemalan and another blend (I think it was Costa Rican blend) and I chose the Guatemalan.  It was very nostalgic for me because it was served on a Duralex looking cup, which reminded me so much of the French coffee cups that my father favoured.  At first I was worried because the drip coffee looked light and watery.  But oh no, was I VERY wrong!  The coffee was rich, comforting and oh-so-flavourful.

Mmmm coffee!The staff are lovely, very friendly, so very helpful and they know their products.  They’re happy to explain what they sell, what you’re options are and they give you lovely recommendations.  They also love what they’re selling.  That’s key!

This isn’t quite on the main road from Waterloo Station, but this is definitely worth a visit.  The space is small and there are only a few seats, but that’s part of the charm.  If you have the opportunity to wander around Lower Marsh, pay the lovely folks at Coleman Coffee Roasters a visit.  It is DEFINITELY worth it!

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Where chicken is no laughing matter: Absurd Bird

This review was originally published via TripAdvisor.

Remember our chicken bucket list?  Well, we haven’t forgotten about it.  As I said in that post, I love chicken so any place serving chicken is a must-visit place for me.  Even it it’s just once, however, I will definitely be going back to Absurd Bird on 54 Commercial Street (near Spitalfields Market) in London.
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You come into an interesting space with the bar in front. The seating spaces are interesting. There are interesting booths and long tables with homey upholstered benches.

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The space is great because one wall is made up of huge glass panels allowing the natural light to come in. The light fixtures are very interesting – gilded bird cages!

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The food is definitely no laughing matter.  We ordered the fried chicken sliders with a

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAside of sweet potato fries and the chicken and waffles with a side of coleslaw.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen the food arrived I took a huge intake. The portions were so generous!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe yummy sweet-sour coleslaw is more a salad sized serving instead of a side-sized serving and is a perfect side to the chicken.

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It is excellent value for money and what we ordered was delicious! While we ordered on main meal and side each, I think what we ordered would have fed 4 people. The servings are generous and they are certainly worth every penny you pay for.

We didn’t order any alcoholic drinks but they serve lagers and cocktails I think.

The staff are amazing and very attentive without being helicopter servers! You do get a chance to relax and enjoy the food that you ordered.

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The (Chicken) Bucket List!

Chicken is probably my favourite meat.  I mean, truth, currently have a lot of pork in my freezer at the moment (I once had a 2kg pork shoulder joint hiding in the bowels of my tiny freezer) but my meat of choice is chicken.  It’s so versatile and is probably the healthier option (granted, fish is probably the healthiest option but if you want a perfect middle ground, trust me, poultry is king!) than pork or beef.  I’ll take chicken any which way.  I love it baked, broiled, stewed, poached, steamed, roasted, barbecued…I could go on.  I’d probably eat chicken however way it’s prepared. I may have already done so.

My all-time favourite chicken dish, however, is Southern fried chicken.  I loved it so much that every time I hear of a chicken place that claims to serve “proper” Southern fried chicken, I ask Alan if we can go and try it out.  Thankfully, Alan is almost always too happy to indulge this particular obsession.

I’m truly grateful that Alan shares my passion for finding the perfect fried chicken (Southern).  We scour – well, okay, scour is probably too strong a word – we peruse social media, read through the food section of newspapers and magazines to read about these chicken-serving places and make mental notes of the places that we want to visit.  We’ve discussed chicken places to death so it dawned on me that the next step in this fried chicken journey was to put together a list of chicken-serving places that we wanted to try.  So we’ve written up a rough list of the places we’ve either tried or want to try.  The qualifying characteristic?  They claim to serve some sort of fried chicken.

And so…presenting our chicken bucket list!

1.    Roost
2.    Spit and Roast
3.    Mother Clucker
4.    Bird
5.    Clock Jack
6.    Wishbone
7.    Red Dog
8.    Jubo
9.    On The Bab
10.    Stax
11.    Ruby Jean’s Diner
12.    Joe’s Southern Kitchen and Bar
13.    Chooks
14.    Meat Liquor
15.    Rita’s Bar and Dining
16.    Eat 17
17.    Jackson and Rye
18.    Clutch

So watch this space as I write through the (chicken) bucket list!

How to cook rice…perfectly

How to cook riceI thought an infographic would be useful.

Cooking rice has always been a daunting task to a lot of people.  But if you’re Asian, rice is a staple, so cooking rice is a skill that (should be) learned early.  There are various ways to cook boiled rice.  Some people boil rice and then drain the liquid.  My mom taught me early and most Filipinos will use what is known in the rice bowl circuits as the absorption method.  I love this method because, despite a lot of disbelief, the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (even if you don’t use a non-stick pan).

The steps are simple and I hope the infographic helps!  Any questions, please leave them in the comments section.  I’m definitely happy to help.

This infographic is also downloadable!  Click here.