Wednesday, 27 June 2012

York Clandestine Cake Club - As good as chocolate event

Yesterday was my first event as an organiser for Clandestine Cake Club.  I was feeling the pressure and quite hot and bothered, but managed to get through the event unscathed - albeit with a speech that wasn't so great, but public speaking isn't really my call in life!

There were some absolutely fantastic cakes and I met some lovely people.  I'm looking forward to the next one already.

There was a fantastic selection of cakes and some great flavours.

I love how far Clandestine Cake Club has come over the last 18 months, from 12 of us in an office space in Leeds to clubs all over this country, and a spattering of clubs forming abroad too.  Lynn has worked so hard on the club and is a true inspiration.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Tarka Dal

I love Indian food, and especially love it without meat, so I decided to make a dal, also wanting a nice cheap recipe and one that wouldn't call for vegetables that only I like to eat.  I used this BBC Food recipe for Tarka Dal, but used dried chilli rather than fresh green ones, having forgot to buy them at the supermarket.

Boy was that a mistake... I put too much chilli in and ended up making this inedible for me.  So, so hot!

I liked the texture, and the flavour of this dish though, so I would make it again.  But I'd use less chilli and make sure I have some yoghurt/creme fraiche in to calm it down so I can eat it.

I have some yellow split peas left to use up - thinking of putting them in a soup, anyone else used them for soup before?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Breakfast Bran Buns

I adapted this recipe from my Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book after being inspired by Lauren seeing she was making the Breakfast Bran Muffins.

I don't have a muffin tin, it must have been left behind at one of my many moves because I know I have had one at some point over the years... So I made buns.

As this isn't the proper Hummingbird recipe I hope they won't mind me giving out my version of it.  If you don't have the Cake Days book I really would recommend it - I'll be making their Apple Strudel Cake for my first event as organiser of York Clandestine Cake Club!

280g wholemeal flour (the one I found in supermarket is self raising, so I used less baking powder)
50g porridge oats
50g bran flakes
20g sultanas
20g dried cranberries
20g sunflower seeds
1 heaped tsp baking powder
60g soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
250ml semi skimmed milk
2 eggs
85g stork, melted


Oven on to 180 and bun cases placed in bun tin.
Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl, then add the honey and combine with dry ingredients.
Pour the milk into a jug then crack the eggs into it and mix together well.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in milk and egg mix.  Combine well.  
Add the melted butter last and coat all mix with it.
Scoop spoonfuls into the bun cases and then bake for about 22 mins (or less if your oven is fan).

I really liked these buns, but they'd definitely be better as muffins - but the fact they're smaller is letting me use the excuse to eat two at once.  They're definitely filling and I absolutely love the cranberries in them.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Meal Planning Monday (on a Tuesday)

It's Monday, and Monday means Meal Plan time.  We normally do our weekly shop at the beginning of the week, but I think we can wait till Thursday to go - or I may treat myself to an online shop.

Monday - Tortelini in a quark, tomato and herb sauce, green salad leaves, chicken goujons
Tuesday - fridge forage - jacket potato, left over roast veg, quark & edam cheese
Wednesday - freezer forage
Thursday - Tomato soup & fish finger sandwiches
Friday - kids choice - meat, broccoli, peas, potatoes, gravy
Saturday - Day out (Seaside/Leeds for Red Hot Buffet)  kids choice - warm chicken salad
Sunday - Tarka Dal

I haven't made the Tarka Dal before, I know it's something that I'll like but not sure Phil will - it might end up being the one and only time it gets made!

I'm also going to have a go at making some breakfast bran muffins this week (except mine will be buns because I don't have a muffin tin).

As usual you can link up with the other meal planners on Mrs M's blog.

Guest Post - Discovering a new wine

The wonderful Beccy is joining us again with another fabulous guest post for the wine of the week feature.

I have a little confession to make about this post. Rather than heading out to the shops to try something new or grab something on offer I have been a bit naughty and pulled a bottle of something I have fallen in love with out of our ‘booze fridge’ at home! (Yes – we actually have a separate fridge in our kitchen dedicated purely for alcohol!!)

It’s not a wine I had heard of a few months ago but myself and HID joined a company called Naked Wine (more about them another time) last year and ordered a few mixed cases to see us through the end of the BBQ season. Having really enjoyed all of the wines from their cases we decided to ask them for recommendations for our Wedding in August. We really wanted to choose a wine that the majority of people would like, that could be drunk with food and also that was a quaffing party wine and key, one that wasn’t too strong! I have a weird aversion to white wines that are 13 or 14%; I like to think I can blame my fuzzy head on them and try to get wines at 12% or less – especially for midweek consumption.

So with all those ideas in mind we contacted Naked Wines and a very kind chap suggested a few different red and whites wines, along with a Champagne for us to try and we had a rather exciting couple of weeks trying the lot. Not sure our livers enjoyed it as much though!

 The clear winner in the white wine category for me was a Benjamin Darnault – Picpoul de Pinet.

Picpoul de Pinet is a French wine and I guess if you haven’t tried it it’s probably closest related to a fresh crisp sauvignon blanc. This wine is really clear in the glass and dry with a hint of fruit. In short it’s incredibly drinkable. So drinkable in fact that last night I managed to have guzzled half the bottle before even serving up dinner – pea, mint and feta omelette with salad since you ask!

Whilst I am not certain that a serious wine snob would plump for this, it is genuinely a crowd pleasing wine which could be matched with most types of food and is a lovely wine to drink just on its own, which is exactly why we thought it would be perfect for the wedding. I think I have discovered a new favourite and we have had to store the copious amounts that we have bought at my Mum & Dad’s to stop us from dipping into it! Obviously an additional case had to be ordered to be kept at home, just to remind us how good it is!

If you wanted to buy from Naked Wine it’s about £10 a bottle. However they do case discounts and cash-back for members (Angels) and offer free delivery deals too so it’s definitely worth looking into. Otherwise a quick Google search shows lots of other Picpoul wines at supermarkets including Tesco and Waitrose. A slight aside but we liked it so much we ordered the same bottle at a fancy restaurant in Devon to go with our seafood. It was delicious but at £27 a bottle - more than we’d usually like to spend when we’re out - it’s an absolute steal if you can get a good bottle for at home.

I really want to hear what other people think of Picpoul de Pinet, particularly if you are usually a sauvignon blanc drinker like me. Could you be converted?

We think our wedding guests will really appreciate the efforts we’ve been too so that they don’t have to quaff the usual ‘catering house wine’ – otherwise known as paint –stripper!

Thanks for reading and if there’s enough demand, I’ll get HID to write a review on the red wine we selected for the wedding too – the Galodoiro Vinho Regional Lisboa 2009 from Portugal. He loves it and to be honest, whilst I wouldn’t normally drink red wine, I do too. 

Huge thank you to Beccy for another guest post - and I would love to hear 'HID's thoughts on the red wine!  Sauvignon Blanc is a favourite for me when drinking white wine, so I'll definitely be looking this one out when I can drink again!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Choccamocca Tray Bake

I used this recipe from Jane Hornby as the basis for my cake, but as usual added my own twist to the recipe.


For the cake:
250g Self Raising Flour
250g stork marg
300g soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs (one large and 2 medium, because I had 1 large to use up!)
50g cocoa
Half a pack of 70% chocolate, chopped up
3 tsp instant coffee, with small amount of boiling water

For the icing (not shown in pics - sorry):
100g icing sugar
50g stork marg
2 tbsp cocoa
1 cap full tia maria
splash of milk just to loosen the icing

Oven to 180. Disposable tray greased.

I followed Jane's method of melting the butter then adding that to the sugar, eggs and vanilla after it had cooled for 5 mins.  I then added 200g of the flour.  In order to be able to make my cake 'choccamocca' I decided to do 2 mixtures and then marble it in the tray.  I split half the mixture to another bowl and to that one added the dissolved coffee - I added the extra flour to this to firm up the mixture.  In the original bowl I added the cocoa and the chopped chocolate.

I made the mistake of splodging all the chocolate mixture into the greased tray first, then adding the coffee mixture to that.  As you can see from the pics I ended up with all chocolate at the bottom and coffee at the top - next time I do this I'll do it a splodge a time of each.   When all the mixture was in the tray I used a knife to attempt some marbelling.

I baked this in our (not very good) oven for 35 mins, as indicated by Jane's recipe, but then added another 10 mins.

When the cake was cooked I took it out to cool and made another schoolgirl error - I turned it out of the tray.  I don't know why I did this, every other time I've made a tray bake I've always, always left it in the tray and then decorated.  As I turned it out disaster struck and it started to crack!  I enlisted Phil's help and we turned it back over - it fell apart!  Argh! I decided to patch it up with the icing so whipped up basic buttercream to my usual 50g stork to 100g icing sugar, then added cocoa powder and a cap of tia maria (if I wasn't pregnant I'd have been a bit more liberal with the Tia Maria) the icing was a bit too dry so I added a splash of milk to loosen.  I then spread that over the cake and went wild with sprinkles, hoping they'd disguise the cracks!

The cake tastes great, cracks and all, and I have learnt not to turn the cake out of a disposable baking tray!!

The top - you can see a wee bit of swirling

The underneath - all the chocolate splodges and a bloody great crack!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Jamie Oliver's fish pie

A few weeks ago I really fancied fish pie, so headed to google and found this Jamie recipe as I'm still a bit wary of eating prawns while pregnant we just had some frozen coley as the fish part of our pie.  I also added a little bit of creme fraiche and opted to leave out the optional tomato.

It didn't look all that appetising when I dished up - in fact I declared it to look like vomit... but it tasted lovely.

The lemon made the pie really tangy, and the grated veg made it like no other fish pie I'd had before.  I loved it though and will definitely have this again, but probably sticking to the likes of cod/coley/haddock/smoked haddock and leaving out prawns and salmon.  I'm glad I went for adding the spinach, some extra greens are always needed.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Meal Planning Monday

It's that time again, last week flew by!   For the first time in a long time we stuck to the meal plan from last week.

This week on the menu is:

Monday - Goujons (chicken for Phil, fish for me) and salad
Tuesday - Pasta and pesto, crusty bread
Wednesday - Sausage, mash & beans (I might eat out)
Thursday - Mushroom risotto
Friday - Pitta bread pizzas, potato wedges, salad
Saturday -  Cottage pie & peas
Sunday - Roast pork, dauphinoise potatoes, veg

I'll be having salad and lots of fruit for lunch.  I seem to be hungry all the time at the moment, especially at work.  I've only gained 3Ib's up to being 19 weeks - I hope this isn't signifying the start of extreme weight gain for me!  I was big enough as it was!

As always you can find the other meal plans on Mrs M's blog.

Friday, 8 June 2012

My love of the Freezer

If you read my meal plan for this week you'd know I was planning on having a freezer forage for Thursday and Friday night.  These types of meals make me remember how much I love having a freezer.

In my mind I'm still cooking for three (or four) so we regularly have leftovers which I have a naughty habit of putting in a plastic tub in the freezer without any kind of labelling and then forgetting they're there, so I'm often found looking quizzically into the frozen plastic boxes and wondering what on earth could be in them.

On Thursday we used up some potato waffles I had lurking in one of the freezer drawers, some left over fish pie from Tuesday from the fridge, and some good old beans.  (I like to have a supply of at least four tins of beans in the house, and panic slightly when the number is lower).  While I was searching the freezer I came across a large tub of what could have been curry, vegetable stew or a thick soup, so decided to defrost that for this evening's meal.

It turned out it was a sweet potato and pea curry that I'd cooked a few weeks back.  I also had 4 naan bread jammed into the freezer so quickly defrosted and toasted them up to accompany it.

The curry was a little mushy and baby food looking, but was very tasty!

In my freezer you'll usually find: random leftovers, some kind of bread product (currently 2 bagels & 2 naan breads, but usually a pack of pitta breads so I can quickly whip up a pitta bread pizza), ice lollies (8 soleros), oven chips, potato wedges, frozen peas, prawns, frozen fish, veggie burger type things, unused fresh pasta, random frozen veg (spinach at the moment) and wine cubes (perfect for rustling up a super quick prawn linguine).  When I lived in the flat I would usually have an emergency pizza in the freezer, but I can't see pizza lasting long in our freezer!

Being pregnant there aren't any wine cubes, and it's been a while since I picked up any fresh pasta - frozen tortelini and a tomato, basil and philadelphia cheese sauce are a lazy tea favourite, so I'll have to stock up on those next time I see some on offer!

In my two weeks of maternity leave before baby is due I plan on doing a lot of batch cooking and freezing portions of things like curry, bolognese, chilli, cauliflower cheese... so I have something in the freezer that can be just thrown in.  I lack inspiration with batch cooking though - does anyone have any exciting suggestions to tempt me away from 20 plastic boxes of bolognese?!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Blog Love 4 - Northern Food

I'm a big fan of Dave's blog Northern Food, living not so far from where I was brought up I often recognise where he's been locally which I always enjoy reading.

The reviews on there are honest and to the point, exactly what you want from a review.  I'm eagerly awaiting the next instalment of the Bacon Sandwich quest - a good bacon butty is close to many people's hearts, what could be a better quest than to find the best bacon butty?

Check the link above to go to the blog, or you can also follow on twitter - @NorthernFood

Monday, 4 June 2012

Meal Planning Monday

Happy Jubilee Bank Holiday!

As it's Monday and we're going to do our weekly shop tomorrow I'd better do some meal planning for this next week.

My meal plan for last week didn't really go to plan, I didn't feel like cooking on Friday and nothing could make me want a fish pie on Saturday - I ended up with a jacket potato, cheese and beans.  Yesterday was spent celebrating the jubilee with a parade and then a trip to the carnival.  I ended up having a burger and a crepe rather than the pork we should have had.

So this week:

Monday - M&S Dine in for two, burgers, chips, apple pie and Phil has a bottle of wine
Tuesday - fish pie, asparagus, peas
Wednesday - Phil's spag bol, with fruit salad for pudding
Thursday -  freezer forage, although I need to try and see what there is in there!
Friday - freezer forage the 2nd
Saturday - ready meal for Phil (the joy of being on call) and a meal out in Harrogate for me
Sunday - BBQ, my Dad's birthday so will be descending on the parents

A fairly cheap week for us at the supermarket, we just need some mince and then fresh fruit and veg.  And lots of milk - my latest craving (or greedy desire) are chocolate milkshakes.

We'll be heading out late tonight for the lighting of the Tadcaster Jubilee Beacon to end our jubilee celebrations.  What are you eating this week?

As always you can catch the rest of the meal plans on Mrs M's blog.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Little Tokyo, Leeds

I went for tea with my lovely friend Mrs P on Wednesday night.  We had a milkshake to start with at iCandy, just up from Primark, and then headed down to Little Tokyo.

I would have loved to try a Bento box but my pregnant belly just doesn't like getting too full, so I went for the 12 veggie sushi rolls. (12 were a mistake, I should have had 6).  Mrs P went for a chicken noodle dish which looked fab, but alas the bump has an aversion to chicken so not one I could try.

Like most people who hadn't eaten in Little Tokyo before I was surprised by how nice the inside is, the outside makes it look - well cheap really.  But inside is lovely.  I liked the fish pond, but the stairs upto the toilets nearly finished me off!

My veggie sushi was lovely, I'll be glad when I can eat raw fish again (not to mention pâté, how I mispâté!).  I'll definitely be going back for a Bento box, the others I saw out on tables looked fantastic.

My milkshake from iCandy was really good too, I wish I'd taken a picture.  I'll definitely go back there again for a milkshake and something delicious and sweet to eat.

Are you a Little Tokyo fan?