A Birthday Surprise, Yummy Eats & Yak Yeti Yak

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Hope you all have a great day!  I’m posting early today as we’re off to London for part 2 of M’s birthday surprise 😉

Thank you for all the kind birthday wishes left on my blog for M (or ‘Mr Bit of the Good Stuff’, as Candy calls him 😉 ).  On Monday, M turned the ripe old age of 40 and, to mark the occasion, I had 2 great surprises lined up for him (one for Monday and the other for today) 🙂 

Both M and I have got a keen interest in art but unlike me (who hasn’t got an artistic bone in her body) M is a dab hand with a pen, pencil or paintbrush.  For a while now, he’s been mentioning that he’d like to have a try at stencil graffiti art so, on his birthday, I arranged for Stuart, a graffiti artist, to come to our house and give M a 1-2-1 tutorial. 

As well as being an artist in his own right, Stuart travels all over the UK and internationally to teach individuals and group workshops.  I was so grateful that he was able to stop by Monday to spend a few hours with M.

It rained non stop on Monday, so Stuart and M had to squeeze in our very messy garage.  Both Lil’ L and I were fascinated with Stuart’s suitcase full of spray cans.  Here’s one of many photos that Lil’ L took of the suitcase 🙂

Stuart was a great teacher, not only helping M with technique, but also in the development of his creative ideas for the two canvases that he was going to produce.  Here’s a shot of M in action (minus his head as he wants to remain anonymous 😉 )

The two pieces of work he produced are already hanging on our living room walls.  They’re not bad for a first attempt are they?



He’s definitely got the spray painting bug now and can’t wait to have another go.  Luckily, I’ve got another surprise lined up for him today  😉

While the boys were busy being creative in the garage, I decided to get creative in the kitchen and try out a new recipe.  Since I had some ready-made puff pastry sitting in the fridge, I decided to have a go at making Viva’s Chestnut Pate En Croute.  It was so simple to make, and ready in less than 30 mins. 

I cut it into four large slices, and gave a slice each to Stuart, M, Lil’ L and the last one for myself.  The feedback was very positive, and M suggested that this bake would be great for Boxing Day dinner.  While it was delicious as it was, next time round I may add some chopped chestnuts, pine nuts and porcini mushrooms to make it even more special 🙂

Here’s how I made it:[print_this]Chestnut Pate en Croute (based on Viva’s recipe)

Serves: 4
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 mins

2 onions, chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g / 3 1/2oz button mushrooms, sliced
Half a tin of unsweetened chestnut puree (a full tin is 435g, so you want 215g)
2 tbsp fresh soft breadcrumbs
1 tbsp brandy
salt and pepper
1 sheet of Jus Rol ready-rolled puff pastry (rectangular, not round)
soya milk to glaze


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6
  2. Fry the onions and celery in the oil in a large saucepan, covered until the onions are transluscent.
  3. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and cook for 2-3 mins.
  4. Mix in the chestnut puree, breadcrumbs, brandy and seasoning until everything is well combined.
  5. Unroll the pastry and place carefully on a lightly-oiled baking sheet.  Pile the chestnut mixture lengthways down the middle third of the pastry.
  6. Make diagonal cuts 1cm / 1/2″ apart on the pastry on either side of the chestnut mixture.  Fold these up alternately to make a lattice covering it.  Brush the pastry with soya milk and bake for 20 mins or so, until browned.


Viva has produced a fantastic mini guide full of delicious vegan Christmas recipes.  The guide can be accessed online here.  I’m planning to try out a few more of their recipes over the next couple of weeks.

After we’d had lunch and said goodbye to Stuart, we headed into Bath as Lil’ L wanted to take his dad to the cinema to see Arthur Christmas in 3D (another birthday treat).  All of us really enjoyed the film.  Arthur is a very sweet, kind hearted guy 🙂

For dinner, we went to one of our all-time favourite restaurants in Bath… The Nepalese ‘Yak Yeti Yak’

So what do I love about this restaurant?  Basically everything! … The delicious food, the great ambiance, the gorgeous interior, and their stunning dinnerware.  I must get me some of those brass platters and bowls 😉

We opted for the veggie set menu ‘Dal Bhat Tarkari‘ (rice, dal, aloo channa, popadum, fresh stone-ground chutney, dhai, and our choice of individual vegetable dishes – Chyauko Tarkari (stir fried mushrooms), and Aloo Tamar (fermented bamboo shoots stir-fried with new potatoes and black-eye peas).  Between the three of us, we’d soon polished off the lot!

For dessert, I had Kir (coconut creamed rice lightly spiced (with cardamon, I believe), sweetened, sprinkled with toasted shredded coconut and served chilled).  This dessert was totally scrumptious and I can’t wait to have a try at making it myself.   

All in all, Monday was a great day of fun-filled activities and eats, and I hope M enjoyed it as much as I did 🙂 

Time to head over now to Jenn’s WIAW party and see what my foodie friends are eating.  Hopefully I’ll get some inspiration for Christmas. 

I still have no idea what I’m going to be cooking over Christmas and as I’m hosting this year, I really need to get organised.  At the moment, I’ve a huge urge to go to the supermarket and buy lots of ready made food and be done with it.  I’d much rather be playing games with the family and watching movies than slaving away in the kitchen.  But, is that too much of a cop out?  What do you think?

16 thoughts on “A Birthday Surprise, Yummy Eats & Yak Yeti Yak

  1. Wow, what an awesome gift for your husband! I always think experience gifts are the best kind anyway. All of your food looks delicious! I still don’t know what I am making for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day either…too much to do still between now and then. But I certainly don’t think a little help from the grocery store is a cop out at all. At this time of year especially, it is much more important to spend time with loved ones. And I’m sure they’d rather have you with them than in the kitchen. Merry Christmas!

  2. Manga man! Great work – M should definitely keep it up .

    My ‘M’ made ginger biscuits and cornish pasties yesterday – yum.

    The biscuits will be given away- if I don’t get there first! 🙂

    1. Thanks! He’ll be taking commissions very soon 😉
      Ginger biscuits and cornish pasties sound delicious! I might have to borrow the recipes off your ‘M’ and see if I can veganize them 😉

    1. Thanks Fran! The pate en croute is really easy to make. I’m definitely going to make it for Boxing Day lunch. Today I bought the porcini mushrooms and pine nuts to make the next one extra special 🙂

  3. I think you can go for a balance, even if you just cook one big dish and get everything else pre made I think that’s pretty good – at the end of the day the most important thing is spending time with people 🙂 I love graffiti art! When I was doing youth work we’d get graffiti artists in and it was always so successful! Off to check out Viva’s recipes now!

    1. Yep you’re right, it’s all about balance. I definitely don’t want to be spending hours in the kitchen missing out on all the family fun. I’ll make a nut roast tomorrow morning and a pate en croute on Boxing Day, then the rest of the food can be buffet style. I’ve bought lots of delicioius deli stye food like olives, sun dried tomatoes, and vegetable pates which I’m looking forward to tucking into 😉

    1. I absolutely love Nepalese food, and I’m sure you will too. You must give it a try if there’s a Nepalese restaurant in your neck of the woods.
      M definitely has the graffiti art bug now. He’s itching to find something else to spray. I just need to keep him away from our walls 😉

  4. Well you know the ready made food wouldn’t make you feel good once you served it. It does seem like a nice option, but it just wouldn’t taste the same as the delicious items you put together.
    I’ve gotten to the point I don’t even like to buy pre-packaged anything, because in the back of my mind I am like “I can make that myself.”
    Your Pate En Croute looks delicious and yes I think mushrooms would be a fantastic addition.
    Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the holidays with all of your family!
    Merry Christmas Sharon!
    I got your package and Oh My the treats are so scrumptious.

    1. You’re so right Rachel! I have bought a couple of pre-packaged foods – a ‘chicken style’ soya thing and some ‘chicken style’ bites. We’ve never had anything like this before so it’ll be interesting to see whether we actually like it or not (if it tastes too much like meat then I definitely won’t like it). I will make the dinner centrepieces for Christmas Day and Boxing Day from scratch as I don’t want to disappoint the family with pre packaged foods that we haven’t tried before. I think I’ll go for a nut roast for Christmas Day and the Chestnut & Mushrooms en croute for Boxing Day. What are you planning to cook?

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