Sunday, 31 October 2010

Ale #3 Roosters 5 Spice Pumpkin Ale

Appearance: Golden ale

Aroma: Spicy with a slight hints of pepper

Flavour: Multi spiced - cloves, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg with pumpkin undertones

Why its on here: Its Pumpkin conditioned!!! Twitter on Friday was flooded with rumours about Roosters latest offering, a five spiced pumpkin ale served from a huge pumpkin. Pubs lucky enough to have delivery, (that I'm aware of) of this beery beast included Mr Foley's and North Bar in Leeds and the Tap on Sheffield Rail Station. I was lucky enough to be in range of Mr Foley's when I heard about their delivery so I duly paid them a visit. It was well worth it, not just for the novelty value but because it was an excellent beer. Not overly spicy and very smooth with the occasional sweet note. I could have willingly sat and drank it all day.

Check out their website of how it was done: Roosters Pumpkin ale

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Bakewell slice

Having received a subscription of BBC Good Food as a housewarming present, the cover recipe of this months issue has been taunting me since it arrived so I thought I would have a go making it.

Bakewell Slice
225g of Plain Flour
110g of Butter
25g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
few Tbsp of water.

5 Tbsp of Raspberry Jam
100g frozen raspberries
25g Flaked almonds

200g Butter
200g Caster sugar
100g Ground almonds
100g SR Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Almond extract
4 Eggs, beaten

Mix flour, salt and sugar together, rub in butter until mixture resembles bread crumbs
Add the yolks and a couple of tbsp of water and bring the ingredients together with a knife until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. Add more water if needed.
Wrap tightly and rest for half n hour or so in the fridge.
Roll out and place in a lined traybake tin.
bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 8-10 mins until very slightly coloured.

Dot the jam over the pastry, the heat of the cooked pastry should soften and spread the jam, and scatter raspberries over randomly

Add all the ingredients to a bowl  and mix well with an electric hand whisk
Spoon over the raspberries and smooth out.

Pastry before oven
Raspberries and jam

Just before the oven

Scatter over flaked almonds and bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 - 40 minutes.

Verdict: Sweet, soft almond sponge with sour raspberries, delicious with a cup of tea or reheat gently in an oven and serve with custard.

Test Space Kitchen 2, Leeds

After the delightful experience of the first Test Space Kitchen, I was quite happy to find out the next one would have a fish and seaside theme.

Here's what the line up looked like this time:

Marvel at the giant knickerbocker glory!
Compete in the extreme jelly-eating competition!
Gasp in wonder and delight at our very own Sunshine Bakery’s award-winning cup cakes!
Laugh (heartily) at rib-tickling comedians!
Risk health and dignity in the game of Super Secret Shots!
Taste the delicious twisted fish & chip stylings of Fish&, created by Andrew Critchett and Fiona Rotheray!
Play the well-know Hit Things With Other Things game!
Throw caution to the wind with Russian Roulette Vol-au-Vents!
Listen to fantastic, fruity and downright filthy sea shanties!
Enjoy a special, seaside-themed YouTube DJ set by the wonderful Tim Ineaux

The location this time was in another room of the stunning Temple Works and was a bit more informal this time with a variety of tables and stools instead of the lines of tables of the first. This time around they seemed to be concentrating on the entertainment more than the food, which was the centre piece of the whole event last time.
The entertainment prior to the meal consisted of several, end of the pier, style stalls including a coconut shy, minus the coconuts, but with the more than satisfying range of smashable ornaments with Sunshine Bakery cupcakes for the crack shots (Me! woop!). Another stall consisted of 6 shots with a dice to decide which one you would receive, I was lucky and ended up with Butterscotch Schnapps and a black vodka. The final stall consisted of a roulette table with various canapes, again I appeared to be lucky, avoiding the spiked chilli canapes.
Random Shots

Canape Roulette
My prize cupcake
Kinckerbocker Glory
The food this time around consisted of fish and chips with a twist courtesy of Fish&, apparently there were different batters. The one I received was lemon flavoured but there was a chilli one floating around. It was very tasty, crispy batter with soft flesh. Afterwards Indie Ices came round with Mango Kulfi ice lolly's which were really lovely and then the huge Knickerbocker Glory was served which was very very sweet but tasty.

Entertainment after the food came in the form of amateur comedians, which were quite amusing. Especially when one of them decided to set an 'official' world record by rolling a Malteaser down a measuring tape into someones mouth. Guess who was the unwilling recipient  of the Malteaser!! There was also one of the greatest responses to being heckled I've seen, dragging them up to play rock, paper, scissors. Genius.

I had to leave early due to a prior commitment but apparently later on there were dancers with candyfloss.

Another good evening courtesy of Test Space Kitchen, its a pity that this is the last one. 

Monday, 25 October 2010

Roundhay Fox, Leeds

Right, where to start with this one.
The Roundhay Fox is a nice looking pub next to Roundhay Park and Tropical World. Traditional in design and very large with multiple rooms away from the large bar. We headed up there a couple of weeks ago for Sunday lunch.
When we got there the pub was rammed and there the problems began. After eventually finding a table a rather nervous waitress came over and took our drinks and food order. The drinks themselves took 20 minutes to arrive, after again asking for them. When they did arrive we were told there would be a 30 minute wait for food, surely this information would be better when the actual order was taken? 40 minutes after the actual order the starters arrived and we were told that the wait time for food had increased to an hour but because we had ordered earlier we might be ok.
I do not blame the waitress for the bad service at all, it was her first day, obviously thrown into the deep end with little training and didn't even have a finish time for her shift.

For my starter I ordered minestrone and pumpkin soup which can only be described as very bland, lacked any seasoning and the pumpkin was non existent. My main of roast beef was better, the beef was well cooked, juicy and pink and the gravy was delicious. Shame about the packet Yorkshire puddings though but by this point I was happy to have any food. We decided to skip dessert having been there for two hours already. The final bill for four came to around £50.

I think the problem with this place is the menu or menus. They had essentially three on the go. The usual everyday menu, the fixed price Sunday menu and a roast menu on a blackboard. Now to me this is idiotic. The kitchen would have to be huge to cope with that amount of choice especially for a place this big. Surely a better option would be to have one Sunday menu consisting of different roasts and a few veggie options and concentrate on making them brilliant, with real yorkshire puddings for example, they are already part way there because the beef and gravy was worth returning for.

It's a shame really, I was looking forward to eating here, I may try again for an evening meal but I will give Sundays a wide berth in future.

Roundhay Fox
Princes Avenue,
01132 693352

Roundhay Fox on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Random Continental-style Dinner

After trying and failing miserably to get a booking for one of the restaurants me and the Other Half wanted to visit, we decided to have a few beers then head to the local supermarket for a stay at home dinner, here's what we left with;

Italian Prosciutto, French Saucisson with herbs, Chorizo, Sliced pork loin with herbs
French Goats Cheese, Applewood smoked Cheddar,  Pecronio
Sundried Tomatoes, Olives, Rocket
Breadsticks, Crackers, Garlic and onion dip, Ciabatta

Total came to £22, bit pricey you may think but considering we would have spent more than that eating out and there was easily enough for four people it wasn't bad at all. Sandwiches for the next few days I think.

Quite nice way to spend an evening working through tasty meats and cheese

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Mixed Bean Chilli

The second recipe I have attempted from BBC Good Food Magazine in an attempt to liven up my evening meals.

Mixed Bean Chilli - serves four
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Red onion, roughly chopped
1 Yellow Pepper
1 Tbsp Cajun spice mix
2 x can mixed pulses
400g can of chopped tomatoes
150ml Vegetable Stock
1 Tbsp Dark chocolate
4 Tbsp Sour cream

Fry onion and pepper in the olive oil for 5 minutes
Add Spice, Pulses, Tomatoes and stock.
Cover and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes
Remove from heat and stir in dark chocolate until melted.
Ladle into bowls and top with Sour Cream

Serve with whatever you like really, I made wedges again (I might be addicted).

Verdict: Proper winter warmer, filling with a lovely spice burn.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Moroccan Chicken with Rosemary Wedges

My diet has become rather boring recently mainly because I am rather lazy when it comes to cooking for myself, so armed with the latest issue of BBC Good Food Magazine, I have decided to try out a few new recipes and then stick them on here.

Moroccan Chicken with Rosemary Wedges.

This serves four but can be divided or the rest can be saved for another day.
4 Chicken Breasts
Splash of Olive oil
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tsp ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp ground Cumin
400g Chopped Tomatoes
150ml Chicken Stock
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Salt and Pepper

Heat oil in a large frying pan, fry chicken in honey until golden.
Mix in the spices, stock, tomatoes, zest and lemon juice.
Bring to the boil and simmer for around 10 minutes.

as many potatoes as required
sprinkle of rosemary
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Chop potatoes in wedges and mix with rosemary and olive oil in a bowl
Cook in pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius until golden brown

This is supposed to be served with  rice or couscous but I had Spuds to use up.

Verdict: Simple yet very tasty

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Birthday Cake - Decoration

The Finished Product   

Regalice- any colour you like, 500g pack will make double the roses you see in the picture.
Icing sugar - to dust
The Bud

First leaf wrapped around

Get a small ball of Regalice about the size of a ping pong ball. Roll in you hands until it softens and become more pliable. Divide into 7 small balls.
Shape the first ball into almost a bowling pin shape. Shape the second into a tear drop shape and wrap around the first ball. Continue with the remainder of the balls, shaping into a tear drop shape and wrapping around the main bud. gently smooth the joins of the petals and, very gently, slightly pull the petals away from the bud to fan out the rose.
Leave to air dry

Icing sugar to dust

Dust a clean surface with icing sugar. Roll out a small amount of regalice. cut out a small leaf from the rolled out icing with sharp knife, indent the leaves with the knife to create the veins. You can buy leaf cutters to speed this process up and make them a bit neater. Drape over a rolling pin  and leave to dry, this gives them their curved shape.

Attaching to cake
Buy a little pot of edible glue from a cake craft shop or online, its cheap and effective. Brush the bottom of the rose and place on the cake, leave to dry.

Icing sugar is your best friend, rub your hands and surface with it when shaping, stops the icing sticking.

Birthday Cake - Icing

1kg Regalice
2 Tsp Apricot Jam
icing sugar - to dust

Roll out 1 kg of regalice on a icing sugar dusted surface until thin and is large enough to completely cover the cake. Brush the cake with the jam to ensure the icing doesn't slip off. Lift the rolled out icing with a rolling pin and drape over the cake. Trim off the excess with a sharp knife and slightly tuck in the icing underneath to give a neat edge.

Top Tip: Do not buy an icing smoother, instead get a piece of the excess roll into a ball and wrap up with cling film, this will smooth out any finger prints and bumps on the cake.

Birthday Cake - The Cake

 Every year I tend to get slightly creative for the Other Halves's now traditional birthday cake. This year I wanted to have a go at sugarcraft while keeping the cake fairly basic. I am going to do this over a couple of posts so you don't get bored reading.
Firstly I will get the easy stuff out of the way:

Victoria Sponge with Jam and Butter Icing

225g SR Flour
225g Butter
225g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
2 tsp Baking Powder

Stick all ingredients in a bowl, beat with an electric hand whisk (or a wooden spoon if you want a work out).
Divide equally between two 8 inch circular tins and smooth out the surface with a spoon.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20-25 minutes.
Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean its done.
Remove from tins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Butter Icing
225g Icing Sugar
110g Butter
1 Tbsp Milk
Beat butter till smooth and then beat in half the icing sugar.
Beat in the milk then continue with the rest of the icing sugar

Cover one cake with jam and the other with the butter icing and sandwich together. Voila!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Secret Tea Room, Leeds

Chocolate Cake
Since starting this blog, it has provided me with a number of firsts, eating a deconstructed whole hog in a rundown building surrounded by strangers was a particular highlight. This weekend provided yet another, My first underground food event.

For those of you that do not know, an underground restaurant, supper club, tea room etc, is an event run by a brave individual in their own home. Strangers book a place, turn up at a secret location, usually only disclosed a few days prior, eat (hopefully) tasty home cooked food, pay a donation then leave full and happy (again hopefully). They are usually promoted by word of mouth and social networking. These events are not strictly legit due to health and safety, licensing and other council hoops that usually have to be jumped through. This is usually why they are secret and people do not pay but instead donate a suggested fee.

The Guardian has an interesting article about it here: Underground Restaurants.

So upon hearing that there was a new underground restaurant gaining quite a good reputation right near me I swiftly booked a couple of places for me and the Other Half.

My first underground restaurant was actually a Tea Room and wasn't underground but held in the owners lovely home. Run by the mysterious 'Bakelady'. 12 lucky people, once a month, are served a selection of sandwiches, savoury tartlets and mouthwatering selection of cakes, macarons and scones alongside loose leaf tea and freshly ground coffee and all for the bargain price of £12 each.

 We arrived at a little train station near Leeds, no I am not telling you which one it's a secret plus I'll probably be beaten up if I did, we were immediately grabbed, black bags placed roughly over our heads, shoved into the back of a van and driven to the secret venue...
Ok it didn't happen quite like that, the address was disclosed a few days earlier and we made our way to the venue which was pointed out simply by an arrow leading round the back of the house.

We were first to arrive but were joined very quickly by 10 other excited people and the feast commenced, delicious finger sandwiches of carrot and homemade hummus, roast ham and chutney, poached salmon and egg and cucumber. Alongside these were little divine homemade tartlets with cheese and Yorkshire chorizo. attention then swiftly moved to the sweet options, little lemon macarons with Limoncello filling, buttermilk scones with jam and clotted cream (I have to pay a personal thanks here for being provided fruit scones after a comment I made on my blog 3 months ago about preferring fruit scones, exceptional service thank you very much.), a delicious squidgy chocolate cake and the most interesting option; a Guinness tea loaf served with Wensleydale cheese. As a Cumbrian born and bred this was a new one on me but strangely it worked and was a very good combination. All this was washed down with a lovely Chinese oolong tea, a tea I haven't tried before and is now on my to buy list.

Before everyone tucked in
Scones and Tartlets

It was a superb way to spend a Saturday, excellent company, conversations, food and service. The 3 hours we were there just seemed to fly by, I highly recommend you visit a local underground restaurant or start your own, although good luck if you want to visit this one, 3 Michelin star restaurants have shorter waiting lists.

The Bakelady's Website:

The Blog that started it all:

Sunday, 10 October 2010

My First Christmas Cake

Tiny Tim

I am a long time fan of fruit cakes and will usually pick fruitcake over the usual varieties but what I've never done is actually make one. With Christmas approaching this seemed like a good time to have a go.
Why are you making it in October I hear you ask? well unlike its chocolate and sponge cousins, a fruit cake matures and improves over time when stored in a cool dry place and wrapped tightly up. The quality of the cake is also improved by 'feeding' the cake at regular intervals with an alcohol such as whisky, brandy etc.
So without gilding the lily and with no more ado (salute to the first person who names the source of this quote) here is the recipe I have used for my first ever Christmas cake.

  1lb Currants
 8oz Sultanas
 4oz Raisins
 2oz Glacé Cherries
 2oz Cut Mixed Peel
 1  1/2 oz Ground Almonds
 1/4 tsp Orange Rind
1/4 tsp Lemon Rind
4 Tblsp Brandy
10 oz Self Raising Flour
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp Mixed Spice
8oz Butter
8 oz Soft Brown Sugar
6 Eggs
1 tbsp Black Treacle
Add the first 8 ingredients to a bowl and pour over the Brandy, mix well and leave, at the very least. overnight. I left mine from Friday night to Sunday late afternoon.
Cream the butter and sugar together and rub into the flour, mixed spice and salt.
Combine this mixture with the soaked fruit.
Add the treacle and the beaten eggs and mix well.
Line your chosen tin, for this I used a 8 inch square tin but feel free to use what ever tin you like such as small round 4 inch tins or larger 6 inch tin but try and use a deep cake tin.
I think lining tins is a horrendous irritating part of baking (mainly because I cant do it properly) so here is a guide courtesy of HRH Delia Smith: how to line a baking tin.
Place it in a pre-heated oven at the appropriate temperature and time

Baking times
For an 8 inch square tin: 160 degrees Celsius for 1 hour and 10 mins then 140 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes.
          6 inch round tin: 160 degrees Celsius for 1 hour  then 140 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes.
          4 inch round tin: 160 degrees Celsius for 1 hour then 140 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.

These times are a guide, after the time as passed, stick a skewer into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked. if not stick it back in and check every 10 - 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and tin and place on a cooling rack. Pierce the cake at several points and pour a few tablespoons of brandy over the cake. This is called 'feeding' and can be done weekly or monthly up until Christmas.

Once cooled, wrap in baking paper and then again in foil and store in a cool dry place.

Sit back with a cup of tea and wait for Christmas and my icing post!

This recipe is borrowed with thanks from The Bakelady over at:, go check out her lovely blog and other baking recipes.