October Foody Wonders

As another month draws to a close it’s time for the inevitable foody round up on this here bloggedy blog and let’s be honest it does seem to all be about the food recently, I think that’s due to the change of weather. After all all you want to do when it gets darker is snuggle up on the sofa with warming food and a hot chocolate, or is that just me?! So yes it’s fair to say that we’ve embraced that this month, particularly with the addition of Salted Caramel Hot Chocolates at Starbucks. Um can we just take a moment to ponder at the geniusness of this idea, someone knight that person ASAP. What a clever person!

20131013-133345.jpg

Anyway enough salivating let’s move on to the foodie delights that we experienced a couple of weeks ago in The Peak District as that was all kinds of awesome! We tucked in to Mum’s much lauded over homemade lasagne and of course exclaimed over the amazingly delicious proper Bakewell Tarts (we were in Bakewell after all so it would have been rude not too!). We also ate at a couple of delicious little spots whilst in the wonderful peaks; the first place that deserves praise is the picturesque Beehive pub which we stumbled upon after visiting the otters in Chapel-en-le-Frith. It was a lovely quaint pub with local beers and the most fabulous food. I had a platter which featured smelly stilton and the most delicious chicken liver pate I’ve ever experienced and Lau had a crunchy and creamy jacket potato piled high with prawn mayo – delicious! If you’re ever in that neck of the woods you simply HAVE to experience it. The other brilliant restaurant we experienced was a restaurant in Bakewell itself called The Pointing Dog and Duck. We had a three course meal, plus cocktails there on the Saturday night and the food was simply divine and incredibly good value too! I think the high points were the individual chicken, leek, mushroom and ham pie, the mojitos and the duck and potato hash which also included a deep fried egg. Simply a-maze-ing!

20131027-135341.jpg wpid-20131017_193652.jpg

20131027-135408.jpg

So enough of the Bakewell reminiscing for one post! We have also been busy bees in the old rhubarb and custard kitchen and we’ve made the following: Oat and Banana Bites, Triple Chocolate Cookies, Pinwheels, sausage casserole (yes again!), Welsh Cakes (my favourite), Chocolate Tea Loaf Cake, Marshmallow Brownies, Peanut Butter Brownies (oh no scratch that earlier comment, maybe this was my favourite!) and our third RSC challenge. Phew what a lot of things! And unsurprisingly most of them are sweet things, oh well what can I say we both have serious sweet tooths!

20131029-083238.jpg 20131029-083304.jpg 20131027-135529.jpg 20131027-135510.jpg 20131027-135315.jpg

This month I also FINALLY experienced the wondered of Five Guys (not once but twice) whoopee! And can I just say – it absolutely lived up to my expectations it was scrumpdidliumptious and I can’t wait to go again. Their fries are delicious and so moreish and the addition of mushrooms to the cheeseburger? Bloody genius even if I do say so myself! We also discovered the GBK app this month so have been making the most of the free bits and bobs with that.Oh and Lau’s been revisiting our travelling month with the L&P from GBK, as she basically existed off of that when we were travelling!  Plus we were lucky enough to eat out at Bill’s (yes I may also have gone here twice, oops), Wembley for burgers (twice here as well – the second time was for the American Football and unsurprisingly they had upped the size of everything for the visiting fans), Nando’s (it had been far too long!), The Rochester Coffee Company, Manor Farm Barn and Le Pain Quotidian for a lovely breakfast treat. Note to self we should most definitely have shared one basket rather than having one each. But hey it was all delicious so I don’t regret any of it!

20131027-135325.jpg wpid-IMG_20131016_202225.jpg  wpid-FB_IMG_13820962283458081.jpg

 

Oh and I forgot to mention we tucked into a lot of seasonal delights, first up were the Screme Eggs, perfect Halloween fodder and then there were some Mousse Snowman – they’re new so had to be tasted! Then Lau discovered the wonders of Oat so Simple porridge pots, perfect when you’re in a rush but don’t want to be tempted by a chocolate croissant at your desk. Have you tried any of the flavours yet? I think the Apple and Blueberry is my current favourite, although it is a tough call!

wpid-IMG_20131008_183350.jpg wpid-IMG_20131025_210726.jpg 20131027-135547.jpg

So there we have it a month of wondrous food, what lucky people we are and I wonder what delights we’ll receive in November. Personally I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the wonders of Christmas goodies. Can you really beat mince pies, gingerbread men, Starbucks Christmas drinks and sticky ginger cake? No I don’t think so either!

– Fi xxx

Advertisements

Ready Steady Cook #3

Hello foodie friends and welcome to part 3 of our attempt at Ready Steady Cook. If you need a reminder of past events then check out Part 1 and Part 2 here.

I’m going to start off by saying that we have slighty changed the rules around here. Basically we’ve realised that £5 is a pretty tough amount of money to get enough ingredients to do two courses. With that in mind we have updated the rules (see them here) so that instead of a £5 limit there is a 5 item limit. So the buyer picks five ingredients and challenges the ‘cook’ to make a two course meal for two people with them. All makes sense yes?

So onto part three of the challenge. Below are the ingredients that Fi picked for me to cook with.

wpid-IMG_20131026_205853.jpg

Turkey steaks, blue cheese, creme fraiche, caramel chocolate and shredded wheat.

Obviously with ingredients like this I knew I would be making a main course and pudding – nothing knew there then. I swear sometime soon we will end up with a starter and main in this challenge!

So first off I decided to make a turkey pasta dish with the turkey, blue cheese, creme fraiche and other ‘store cupboard’ ingredients. Here’s what I did.

  • Chopped the turkey steaks into smaller chunks.
  • Prepare and cook the pasta as normal, I also added some leftover broccoli that needed using up into the pan to cook with it.
  • While the pasta and turkey are cooking start on the sauce. Here I used a basic white sauce recipe then at the end I added a good chunk of blue cheese and a generous spoon of the cream. Stir this until you get a really creamy sauce.
  • Once all these are cooked drain the pasta/broccoli and add the turkey and blue cheese sauce to the pan.
  • Mix together – we also added some spinach leaves as we always have these in the fridge.

20131029-083304.jpg

So there we have it – a delicious blue cheese and turkey pasta for our main course. Seriously this was so good that I am debating using blue cheese in all future sauces from now on.

For the pudding my first thought was to melt the chocolate and mix it with the shredded wheat – kind of like your basic Easter nests – to make a tray bake. I then thought that I could take the Halloween theme and cut up the tray-bake into coffin shapes and give out to trick or treaters. So that was the plan, except then I actually started and I realised that caramel chocolate reacts differently to being melted than normal Cadbury’s chocolate. Basically it started to cool straight away, I don’t know if it’s because I used the microwave or if it’s just the caramel factor but I literally only had time to mix the two ingredients quickly together (using a lot of muscle) and shape into ball shapes before they had hardened! So we had truffle shaped caramel chocolate shredded wheat things. Not the best looking things, but quite tasty – if you could deal with the chewiness that is.

20131029-083238.jpg

So now over to Fi for her scores on the doors!

Use of ingredients: 8/10 – I thought the two courses were a fairly obvious choice for the ingredients, but they all worked so well that I can’t mark Lau down for that!

Ingenuity: 7/10 – The idea of chocolate coffins was inspired (even if it didn’t work) so I’m going to give Lau a 7/10 for ingenuity. Plus blue cheese in a sauce was the best thing ever so extra points for that!

Taste: 8/10 – everything was truly delicious and I could eat that pasta dish every day for the rest of my life and still adore it!

Lau xxx

One simply amazing afternoon tea

Hooray it’s Friday, well done to us all for making it to the last day of the working week. What a RESULT and a massive pat on the back to us all. I can honestly say this week has dragged, it’s felt like ten weeks in one, what is with that?! Hopefully you’ve all had much easier weeks than me – tell me all about them we’d love to hear more!

20131025-112924.jpg20131025-112938.jpgAnyway enough Friday celebrating from me, let’s get down to the point of this here post; today we’re all about the cake and tea as we’re recapping on a (not so) recent afternoon tea of loveliness. It’s been two months since we both experienced our first proper afternoon tea, so please do forgive my tardiness. I’m not sure what got into me, perhaps all the cake I consumed made me forget about the adventure, whatever the reason I profusely apologise and let me now fill your mind with the wonders of sugar heaven!

20131025-113007.jpg

So our very first proper afternoon tea took place on a gloriously sunny summer’s day in London town at the beautiful Palm Court at the Langham Hotel. This is one of those places that is most definitely known for its afternoon teas (no less than three people recommended it!) and now I can see why – it was scrumptious, sensational, opulent and such a treat. Perfect for our celebration of a friends engagement and trip over from the UK. I will definitely be recommending it a lot in the future!

wpid-20130905_131516.jpg wpid-20130905_134036.jpg wpid-IMG_20130906_175239.jpgDown to the nitty-gritty of things though, what did we actually nibble on and guzzle down? Well we started with the obligatory glass of champagne (let’s be honest it had to be done!) and then we scoured the list of 40+ different teas before making interesting choices. Then we had our ‘starter’ of blackberry jelly in sophisticated shot glasses before tucking in to a delicious array of sandwiches. There was literally a mountain of five different fillings (all on different breads) and we were then offered extras from a silver platter no less than three times. I must have had about five of the egg ones as they were absolutely mouth-wateringly good.

wpid-20130905_133057.jpg 20131025-113042.jpg 20131025-113101.jpgNext up on the food front were the homemade scones with clotted cream and jam. What was great (for those who are picky eaters anyway) is that the scones were a mix of plain and fruit ones. Plus the scones were warm AND once again we were offered extras – amazing! After scones there was the mini cake selection, which was displayed so beautifully as you can tell from the pictures. The cake selection consisted of strawberry meringue lollipops, mini Victoria sponge cakes, dark chocolate mousse/shortbread concoctions and my absolute favourite, the miniature banana cakes.

wpid-20130905_140404.jpg wpid-20130905_140649.jpg 20131025-113220.jpg 20131025-113149.jpg wpid-20130905_133053.jpg wpid-20130905_143440.jpgOnce we’d munched on all of these we were absolutely stuffed to the brim and feeling very lucky. It really was a wonderful treat and I am now constantly trying to come up with reasons for booking it again, I’m currently struggling as I’m not sure that it being a Saturday counts sadly! Have you ever been somewhere so wonderful for an afternoon tea, which were your favourite bites and where would you recommend we visit in the future? We’d absolutely love suggestions! Fi xx

Chocolate Tea Loaf

I spotted this recipe yonks ago on the BBC good food website here and have been itching to make it ever since for a couple of reasons; one it’s a chocolate cake and it looks super easy. And two it’s a loaf cake and I have never made a loaf cake – don’t ask me why, but it just has never happened!

Anyway I got the chance to make this a few days ago when I found out that it was a work friends birthday and therefore cake was needed. Cue me offering to make this chocolate tea loaf in time for Friday. I followed the recipe exactly so I’m not going to type it all out again. Just use the link above if you do want to bake it yourself. What I will say though is that this loaf is so moist it’s unbelievable. Plus you get slight goey bits where the chocolate chips are. Next time I make this I’m tempted to add in a few white chocolate chips too. Just for a bit of extra colour.

20131013-133445.jpg

All my taste testers loved the cake, it was the perfect thing for a Friday afternoon pick me up. Another excellent point to make is that loaf cakes are so easy to transport. I just wrapped it up in the baking parchment and away we skipped to work. Easy as pie (even if it is a cake!).

Lau xxx

Perfectly Simple Welsh Cakes

Greetings friendlies, how are you this merry day?

Today on this here blog I’m going to share one of my all time favourite cakey things with you – Welsh Cakes! My history with these baked goodies goes a little bit like this: for as long as I can remember whenever we’ve seen my Mum’s best friend, nicknamed the Welsh Wizard (thanks to her Welsh heritage), she’s always armed with freshly baked Welsh Cakes. It’s one of the main things I remember from being knee-high to a grasshopper – arriving at her house to the aroma of Welsh Cakes and eating about twelve during our stay or having her produce a tin of them as soon as she gets out of her car!

It’s fair to say that I’ve become addicted to these lovely yummy morsels and it’s most definitely a tradition that I adore. They are frankly absolutely scrumptious in all their squishy, doughy, fruity brilliance and I love them, but considering my absolute love for them it’s absolutely ridiculous that I’ve never made them – a travesty I know! Anyway last Christmas this friend gave us her family recipe and the baking stone needed so that we could get on with making them ourselves. Hooray! So finally after ten months we finally got round to making them and let me just say they did not disappoint, they were as scrumptious as I’ve always remembered and I now just might make them all the time!

So anyway here’s the secret family recipe so all you lovely people can give them a whirl, you lucky things!

When you consider the five ingredients it’s even more ridiculous that I’ve not made them before as they are all store cupboard essentials, so no special trip to the shop is needed. Shame on me! So anyway you will need:

  • 8 oz self raising flour
  • 3 oz margarine
  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • A sprinkle of raisins/sultanas

And to make them, it couldn’t be easier, just follow these six simple steps!

  1. Rub the flour, sugar and margarine together
  2. Add the eggs, which you’ll have beaten already and mix together to form a dough
  3. Just before the dough is ready to roll out, sprinkle in the sultanas or raisins
  4. Roll out the dough until it’s about a cm thick and cut out your shapes – circles are traditional
  5. Pop onto your heated and buttered baking stone  and heat for about 5 minutes on each side, until they start to brown
  6. Eat! It’s customary to eat them warm with a sprinkling of sugar and spread of butter but it’s not essential.

20131006-200651.jpg

20131006-200705.jpg

20131006-200718.jpg

20131006-200728.jpg

Let me know if you give them a whirl and fall in love with them as I’ve done – I’ll be surprised if you don’t! Happy baking.

– Fi xx

Halloween inspired link love

Isn’t it weird how Halloween has become a holiday thing in the UK? I don’t remember celebrating Halloween that much when I was younger. It was really all about Bonfire Night instead. In fact I don’t really remember going trick or treating at all. I do remember that the first Halloween costume I made was for my first year at University, before that the event doesn’t really register. I also remember watching numerous American TV programmes where countless American kids were dressing up and trick or treating, but it wasn’t something that happened in our country. But now it’s quite a big craze in the UK. It feels like slowly each year it’s become a bigger event, celebrations have got bigger, more shops have embraced the spooky paraphernalia and now we have more trick or treaters knocking on the door each year. Why is that? Is it just the commercial side of things latching onto a new money making event? Hmm, interesting.

Anyway enough of my ramblings! Fi and I both decided that the best way to celebrate Halloween was to share a few of our favourite Halloween themed things currently floating around the internet. We are of course going to do some Halloween inspired baking for the actual day, at the moment we are debating the merits of either gingerbread skeletons or some kind of spooky ghost biscuits. We will of course add whatever gets made, but for now feast your eyes on these spooky ideas…

First checkout these free printables from the lovely ladies over at A Beautiful Mess. I think the poison bottle labels are my favourites and would be perfect if you were planning a Halloween party.

Then there’s these Haloween silicone icing moulds from Lakeland. Don’t the finished cupcakes look excellent? I think it just takes the humble cupcake to the next level.

17716_217716_1

source

Plus you could get the cupcake stand from Lakeland too. The perfect way to present these beautiful cakes. One great thing about this is that it’s made of card, so it’s easy to take apart and store until Halloween shows it’s spooky face again.

16541_1

source

Also checkout this drippy nail DIY from honestlywtf.com. Isn’t it great? These are the perfect nails for Halloween. I’m definitely going to be doing these in a couple of weeks.

revlon1

Isn’t this romper set so cute? Not that I have kids but If I did and I wanted to dress them up in something seasonal – this might just be what I picked! Check it out at Not On The High Street here.

normal_personalised-pumpkin-halloween-romper

Finally I discovered lots and lots of lovely things on Etsy – that place is dangerous you guys!

paper straws / photo booth props / retro treat bags / bat cupcake wraps / bunting

All these bits and pieces would be perfect for a Halloween party. I’m actually be upset that I didn’t get organised and host one. Maybe next year…

Lau xxx

Ready Steady Cook #2

Massive apologies one and all as it’s taken me FOREVER to actually write up this post about part two of our Ready Steady Cook challenge. I’m not sure what’s taken me so long apart from life generally getting in the way, so sorry about that and let’s get back to the business of a cooking challenge! As you might remember it was Lau’s turn to choose the mystery ingredients for me to cook with, and she presented me with the following: Scottish mackerel fillet (£2.00), milk chocolate (30p), a potato (98p), basic digestives (31p), Spinach (50p) and a pot of double cream (85p). In total my six ingredients came to £5.04, so only marginally over budget and actually if you remove the cost of the squares of chocolate and numerous digestives that I ate during the cooking process then we’re probably under budget! 20130922-162959.jpg

I was ever so slightly concerned when presented with my ingredients, not the sweet ones as I knew straight off what I’d make with those, but with the mackerel. Confession time: I’ve never cooked with mackerel before and I’ve only ever eaten it in pate form so I wasn’t sure where to start! I automatically thought pie but I didn’t know what kind really, but thankfully my good friend, the Good Food website, came to my rescue as I found this recipe for a mackerel pie which contained all of my ingredients. Perfect you say? I followed the recipe almost exactly:

  • Boil the potatoes until they are almost ready to eat
  • Cut them into chunks and lay half of them on the bottom of the two dishes
  • Remove the bones and skin from the fish and throw the flesh on top of the potato layer
  • Add the remainig potatoes to the top
  • Pour over the cream
  • Cover the dishes with foil and bake on 190°C for half an hour
  • Remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes until brown (or you’ve lost all patience!)
  • EAT with a side salad of spinach leaves

This mackerel pie was absolutely scrumptious and I can highly recommend it for the upcoming cooler evenings. As for the pudding side of things, I went for a simple rocky road recipe as with biscuits and chocolate it was begging to be done! Thankfully we have a massive collection of nuts and dried fruit in the cupboard so I had lots of options to add to the ingredients Lau gave me. For the Rocky Road I simply:

  • Melted the chocolate in the microwave
  • Mixed together the broken up digestives, raisins, sultanas, flaked almonds, hazelnuts and cashews in a separate bowl
  • Combined the two
  • Pressed the mixture into a lined tray
  • Cooled it all in the fridge for two hours before cutting them into large squares

This is possibly my favourite pudding idea, as it’s just so so simple and tastes divine. Also you don’t really need a lot to make it scrumptious! So there we have it my two yummy dishes: Mackerel and potato creamy pie and rocky road – yummy! Now we just need to know what Lau thought of my endeavors. So Lau, over to you…

Use of ingredients: 10/10 – I felt a bit mean with these ingredients, but Fi used them so well that she really does deserve top marks. 

Ingenuity: 7/10 – the fact that Fi picked something completely new deserves high marks, but the rocky road appears quite a lot in the flat so I think a seven is fair here. 

Taste: 10/10 – Totally delicious and the fish dish is one of my new favourites.

– Fi and Lau xx