Thursday, 19 May 2016

Ringtons Victoriana Hamper

In celebration of the Queen's 90th birthday Ringtons have created a gorgeous Victoriana hamper.

I was sent one to review last month.

We often see the Ringtons van around our estate, my girls are baffled when I say the driver is delivering tea - I think they expect to see him carrying out cups of tea.  We don't see enough of Ringtons down here in Yorkshire. When I lived in Newcastle and worked for the council it was always the norm to have Ringtons tea. I forget how good the tea is, and the biscuits - there's no biscuit like a luxury Ringtons biscuit - they're amazing, and we are huge biscuit fans in this house.

My pics do not do the box and contents justice at all. The box itself is beautiful, I was tempted to try make a dolls house from it - but having two girls and one house is a disaster, so I've donated it to school instead.

The tea is very good, I liked all the biscuits - especially the rhubarb one, I was surprised how good the blackcurrant preserve is - I didn't even realise Ringtons did them.

Huge thanks to Ringtons for sending me this, and all the nostalgic memories of living in Newcastle it brought back.

If you haven't tried Ringtons tea then do give it a go, I'm a staunch Yorkshire Tea girl - but Ringtons is a very close second for me, but adding those biscuits into the mix makes Ringtons hard to beat.

If you're looking for a nice gift they do a lovely selection, I had a look at the ladies inspired ones this morning, really reasonably priced and look every bit as good as something from. Betty's, without the Betty's price tag.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Giveaway - BBC Good Food Show Spring

I have a pair of tickets to giveaway to either the Friday 8th or Sunday 10th April BBC Good Food Show in Harrogate.  The winner will pick up tickets on the day. Giveaway runs until midnight on Weds, so even if you don't win then you can get 20% off the ticket price using code: BL20.

Use the rafflecopter to enter, good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 29 February 2016

Pork with marmalade glaze

To celebrate National Marmalade Week I was sent some jars of Mackays Marmalade to use in some recipes.

I had wanted to glaze a gammon joint with the marmalade, but we get pork loins in our butchers pack, these seemed ideal for trying the glaze on.

2 pork loin steaks
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Vintage Dundee Orange marmalade

Mix the soy sauce, garlic and marmalade in a bowl and spread over the pork loins.  I let mine marinate for an hour on each side before cooking.

Cook in an oven at 180 for around 25 minutes, turning over half way through cooking, alter the time depending on the thickness of your pork loin.  Baste the meat with the sauce.

I served these with broccoli and mash.  Delicious.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Tuna Meatballs

My cookbooks have been packed away for what seems like an eternity, I've missed being able to have a quick flick through them for inspiration, so this weekend it was finally time to wade through the depths of our junk piles and retrieve my books from exile.  Well Phil did, I'm not trusted to go amongst the junk without knocking it all over on top of me...

Thursday, 25 February 2016

BBC Good Food Show Harrogate

Don't forget the BBC Good Food Show Spring is being held in Harrogate from 8-10 April.  There will be a variety of Yorkshire based companies there - the press release below details four that will be in attendance.

The stand out company of the four for me would be the fudge one, Phil and I are huge fudge fans, and I most definitely want to try that raspberry prosecco one!

York & Dulgent Fudge:  A growing York business, owned and run by married couple Helena and Phil Wiggins. Being a creative person Helena felt unfulfilled as a solicitor, so she left law and developed marketing skills to combine with her husband’s drooling passion for fudge. Since their first sales on a York Christmas Stall in 2014 selling the Creamy Classic, the company has blossomed as more recipes developed from Raspberry Prosecco to Cheese & Walnut fudge. They now exhibit at various events around the country as well as making and selling their products as wedding favours and to delis, bars and shops.

To find out more, please visit:

Amos & Toms Popcorn: Started in May 2015, Melanie introduced the fabulous flavours of her handmade gourmet popcorn with huge success. She makes her products in her converted garage, where she only uses locally sourced ingredients. She will be appearing at the Show as a 2015 BBC Good Food Show Bursary Award Winner, where she was selected from other outstanding artisan food and drink producers from around the UK, by a team of experts who felt the natural and scrumptious flavours of her products deserved to be recognised.

To find out more, please visit:

Sloemotion is a family business based in the Howardian Hills of North Yorkshire, using local hedgerow berries they produce premium fruit liqueurs, chocolates and chutney. Jonathan and Claire bought Sloemotion in 2006, having established the business together with North Yorkshire farming neighbours back in 2002 and extended the product line to produce more hedgerow produce such as Cherry Brand, Sloe Whisky Chocolate Truffles and Sloe Jelly. Now Sloemotions ruby-rich coloured liqueurs have gone on to win numerous prestigious national awards including, a gold star Great Taste Award for their Bramble Whiskey and the Local Food Producer of the Year Award at the Yorkshire Life Food & Wine Awards in 2010.

To find out more, please visit:

Patrick Macarons & Pâtisserie is owned and run by former designer and builder Tony Patrick, who is new to the food industry, but has a lifelong passion for cooking! His skills to make French macarons came from showing off to family and friends in late 2013, when he decided to take a leap of faith in the product. He has since gone onto win many awards including East Yorkshire Local Food Network Awards 2014, Best Confectionery product for his macarons in 2015 and now he comes to the Show as a BBC Good Food Show Bursary Award Winner from 2015.

To find out more, please visit:


The Rattle Owl, York

Disclaimer - I was invited to have brunch at The Rattle Owl, our meal was complimentary.

The Rattle Owl is currently ranked on Trip Advisor as no37 out of 646 restaurants in York, the rating merits of Trip Advisor we won't get into this evening, however, with such a good rating I'm surprised I hadn't heard of them before an email dropped in inviting us to brunch. 

They're a 42 seat restaurant on Micklegate - I'll be perfectly honest, I don't think I'd ever been on Micklegate before, my knowledge of York is appalling.  I've certainly been missing out though, there's an Oxfam bookshop and a rare bookshop just waiting for me to have a leisurly browse in.

When I think of brunch I always think of Sex and the City, the four friends meeting to catch up on gossip and relax.  Brunching with kids is not relaxing. Certainly not with my kids in any case.  But I decided to take up the challenge, and off the four of us went for brunch.

We headed up on Saturday, taking advantage of the new Tadfaster bus service, finally connecting us back to York on the East of Tadcaster - a 20 minute limited stop service.  As they were doing a special £1 fare on Saturday it seemed fate to go along and check out The Rattle Owl.

 When we arrived at The Rattle Owl we were given a warm welcome, shown through to our table and a high chair fetched for the smallest one.  We were in a quiet corner with a few other diners enjoying their brunch.  Sadly I think their enjoyment dipped a little as we arrived, seeing as both my girls knocked their waters over and proceeded to wail inconsolably for a good five minutes. 

The kids were given books and a card and some crayons to try to help keep them occupied while we waited for our orders.  Children are offered a smaller portion of the normal brunch menu - I asked for a small portion of scrambled eggs on a piece of sourdough for each of them - not listed as such on the menu, but it wasn't a problem to order. I did feel a bit ridiculous asking for something off menu, but I hate to waste food, so I'm finding the confidence to ask for things not to be put on the plate that I know the girls won't eat.  Phil opted for the Full English, and I opted for Poached Eggs Benedict.  I ummed and ahhed between that, the vegetarian breakfast, and butternut squash, chorizo and onion hash.

We didn't have long to wait for food, and once eating the girls settled down a bit and cheered up, so Phil and I were able to relax a little.  The girls both enjoyed their scrambled eggs, the portion size was just right for them so I wasn't left mortified by the amount of food left.  Phil's breakfast was excellent, he particularly enjoyed the black pudding, but I thought the star of the plate was the sausage. My Eggs Benedict was delicious, the hollandaise had just the right amount of tang for me  and the poached eggs were perfect.

Despite us being a bit stressed out with the girls and worrying about them disrupting other diners, I found the atmosphere of The Rattle Owl to be really laid back, the way the girls were talked to by staff, the books/colouring available and the general nonchalance at a gallon of water going everywhere made it obvious that families are very welcome and not an inconvenience.

We will definitely be returning - most likely without the girls, so we can try the Breakfast Cocktails - the Brunch Martini has my name all over it, and I really do want to try that butternut hash.  I'd quite like to organise a brunch out with the girls, one to consider for my birthday. 

Thank you very much to Lucy for inviting us along, and to the staff at the Rattle Owl for being so friendly and accommodating for us, and our grumpy girls.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Mercers of Yorkshire

As a BBC Good Food Show blogger we're to be sent a product each month, from one of the shows contributors.

January's products were from Mercers of Yorkshire, this is a brand I followed on Twitter, but had yet to sample anything from.

We were sent the caramelised red onion marmalade, and the lemon curd.  I'm a huge chutney fan, so couldn't wait to tuck into the onion marmalade, but lemon curd isn't something I would often pick.

So far I've had the chutney with cold meats, in a chip butty and stirred a tablespoon of it into the sausage and chickpea stew I made last week - it's safe to say I like it - a lot. The texture is pleasing, chunky but not too chunky, a good balance of sweet and tangy vinegar, and a great colour. It was gorgeous on my chip butty - why have I never tried chutney on chips before? Comfort heaven.

The lemon curd I've been more conservative with, I've had it on trumpets, and used it to make a lemon curd cake. I found it to have a mellow lemon taste, with lemon curd I always expect something super tangy, but this is more refined. Not too sugary too, which is a plus for me.

Sausage and chickpea stew
6 decent sausages - I get mine from Wards butchers in Tadcaster
Quarter of a packet of dried chickpeas (or a tin of chickpeas)
1 large carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
200ml beef stock
1 carton passata
1 tbsp Mercers red onion marmalade
Squidge of garlic pureé
Squidge of tomato pureé
Sprinkling of dried parsley

Soak the chickpeas as per the instructions on your packet.

Cook the sausages in the oven, then chop into chunks and put to one side for later.

Spray a large pan with fry lite, add the squidge of garlic, then tip in the carrots and celery. Let this cook for five minutes.

Make up the stock - add a tablespoon of the onion marmalade, stir well to combine it with the stock.  Pour over the vegetables.

Add the chickpeas, the passata and tomato pureé. Season to taste - if you wish and cook until the chickpeas are tender.

Include the sausages into the pan, cook for a few minutes longer. Sprinkle over the dried parsley.


This made the most delicious sweet yet tangy and flavoursome stew. The chutney really lifted a plain tomato sauce and made it something wonderful.

I've enjoyed trying both products, and will definitely purchase more of the red onion marmalade. I'll also be on the look out for their beer chutney, my mouth is watering just thinking about having some of that with some delicious cheese!