Sunday, 30 January 2011

PIN, Leeds

PIN is a new little bar on Dock Street just off Brewery Wharf. PIN is part of the Leeds Brewery empire which includes; Midnight Bell, Brewery Tap and the recent acquisition of Garden Gate.

PIN by their own definition is a contemporary cafe bar, nicely designed with an entire wall of mirrors which gives the impression that its larger than it actually is. It is quite a cosy place with a mixture of tables and sofas.

After seeing several great reviews about the quality of the food, we wandered along on a Monday lunchtime to check it out.
The place was quiet as you would expect on a Monday lunchtime and we warmly greeted with menus and asked if we would like a drink. I opted for Leeds Best out of the two hand pumps on the bar, the other was Leeds Pale. I hope they put another pump on with Midnight Bell or the latest Leeds Brewery seasonal.
For food I went for the classic PIN Burger which had been declared the best burger in Leeds by several people, the Other Half went for a Stilton and Mushroom Pie.
The burger didn't disappoint. A huge meaty, herby, well seasoned, slightly pink burger served with glorious homemade chips, salad and a lovely jalapeno relish which added just the right level of heat to the burger, all washed down with a well kept ale.

The final bill for two came to £24 (with drinks), good value for the quality of the food served.

Highly recommend a visit

Pin on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Oreo Brownies

This recipe was recently on Baking Made Easy by Lorraine Pascale so I thought I would give it a go.

Oreo Brownies

165g Butter
200g Dark Chocolate (Grated)
3 Eggs
2 Egg yolks
2 tsp Vanilla Extract (or the seeds of one pod)
165g Soft light brown sugar
2 Tbsp Plain Flour
1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
Pinch of Salt
154g pack of Oreos (or use another chocolate biscuit if you are not keen on Oreos)

Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a 20cm square baking tin.
Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat
When melted remove from heat and tip in grated chocolate.
Leave for a minute or two then stir together
Whisk eggs, egg yolks and vanilla together until eggs are light and fluffy.
Add the sugar in two additions, whisk between each addition, pour it in the side of the bowl to avoid knocking the air out.
Whisk until the mixture becomes stiffer.
Pour the chocolate in, again round the sides.
Add flour, cocoa and salt and fold in.
Fold in about 3/4s of the packet of Oreos, broken up.
Pour in the lined tin and break up the remaining biscuits and spread around the top.
Cook for about 25-30 minutes, the middle should be gooey.
Leave to cool in the tin.
Remove from the tin and cut up and enjoy.
Just out of oven
Just before oven

Verdict: oh so very very very very good.....did I say how good they are?

Monday, 24 January 2011

Pan-Fried Mackerel with Rocket and Potato Gratin.

With Hugh's Fish Fight (if you don't know what this is then go here, read about it and sign up) singing the praises of fish such as the Mackerel, I decided to have a go at cooking it, so I headed to Leeds Market and the impressive range of Fishmongers to get hold of some. I picked up two huge fillets (filleted there and then) and the head and bones for the bargain price of £2.80. I did plan on making fish stock with the remains but researching recipes for fish stock all stated not to use mackerel due to being to oily.

Being the first time I had cooked this fish I decided to keep it simple and not do anything extravagant which would detract from the flavour of the fish itself.

Pan-Fried Mackerel with Rocket and Potato Gratin

1 Mackerel Fillet
1 Tbsp of olive oil
Knob of butter

Gratin (makes two portions)
2 Large potatoes
150ml Double cream
1 small onion or several shallots
1/2tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Nutmeg (grated or ground)
50g Butter

Rocket Leaves

For the gratin
Slice the potatoes into thin slices, place into a pan of water and bring to the boil, Drain and set aside.
Melt 3/4 of the butter in a pan and add the onion and cook gently until soft and sticky.
Pour in the cream, pepper and nutmeg and bring to the boil then remove from the heat.

Grease an oven proof individual pie dish with the remaining butter and layer the potatoes and the cream, make sure the top layer of potatoes is completely covered by the cream.
Bake for about 20 mins until golden on top (180-200C)

For the fish
Heat the oil in a pan until searing hot.
Season both sides of the fish with black pepper and salt.
Place in the pan, skin side down and hold down gently to stop the fish curling upwards.
Once the skin is crisp (about 1-2 minutes) add the butter to the pan and turn over and repeat on the other side.

Place on the bed of Rocket and pour over the juices left in the pan.


Edinburgh Bars and Pubs

On our visit to the Scottish capital we (naturally) visited some quality bars and pubs that the city had to offer. Below are a selection of my favourites.


 Bow Bar 
My favourite pub in Edinburgh. A small old fashioned pub with old style signs and pictures on the walls. It has about 5 ales on at any one time but its real selling point is its massive collection of malt whiskys with over 200, most of which are on display behind the bar.

Guildford Arms
The first pub we went to on our arrival. A rather nice pub with about 8 ales on at one time usually from Scottish brewers. Styled in a traditional Victorian theme with wooden beams and intricate decorations on the walls and ceilings. It has an excellent atmosphere of an evening time.


Cafe Royal
Situated next to the Guildford Arms, Cafe Royal is a combination of a pub and a restaurant. The main drinking area is the circle bar a stunning room designed with stained glass windows, muriels, mirrors and wood panellings. A good place for a drink.

Jolly Judge
After wandering around the castle for a few hours a beer was needed, so we wandered down the royal mile looking for somewhere new. The Jolly Judge is located down a little alley in between a couple of touristy shops. It is a very cosy pub with a large fire and a good selection of beers. Brew Dog's Alpha dog was on when we visited.


99 Hanover Street
A lovely cocktail bar that was round the corner from our hotel. what impressed me with this place was the care that went into making each drink. The drinks took awhile to reach us after ordering but they were superb and reasonably priced for a city centre cocktail bar.

Under The Stairs
This as the name suggest is an underground bar with an entrance that would put most off but inside was a lovely cosy bar with table service and some of the nicest grazing cheese and meat platters I have seen.

Hard Rock
It's touristy, It's cheesy but I like it. Nuff sed.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Heather Honey Scones

Inspired by my recent visit to the the Balmoral Hotel and with the the Bakelady running a scone challenge, I decided to make some Honey Scones using a lovely pot of Heather honey I picked up in Edinburgh. Most supermarkets should have some form of heather honey or other different types such as blossom, acacia etc... and I emplore you to buy a decent pot for this recipe just for the superior flavour, or instead of using a supermarket, find and support your local supplier. For those of you living in Sheffield the Sheffield Honey Company is the local producer but I'm sure there is one near where you live.

This recipe is really simple and can be quickly made in about 30 minutes.

Heather Honey Scones (makes 8)
225g Self Raising Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
50g Butter
7 Tbsp Milk
1 Tbsp Honey (warmed slightly)

Rub the Flour and salt together with the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the milk and the honey to the mix and bring together, using a knife, until a soft but not sticky dough is formed.
Knead together quickly to make a smooth dough.
At this point either roll out with a rolling pin, (to about 1cm thick) and use a cutter or do what I do and rip bits of the dough and mould into a scone shape using your hands, I like the scruffy and non uniform look it gives to the scone.
Place on a greased baking tray and brush with milk.
Place in a preheated oven at 230C for 10 minutes.

Serve with jam and clotted cream, if anybody uses squirty cream I will hunt you down and confiscate the remainder of your scones.


Thursday, 20 January 2011

Afternoon Tea at the Balmoral, Edinburgh

For the Other Half's birthday (which was in October) one of her presents was Afternoon Tea at the Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh and because I'm nice I splashed out on the Champagne Afternoon Tea.
Afternoon tea at the Balmoral is served in the hotel's Bollinger bar, a rather nice champagne bar (as the name suggests) with its own harpist who plays from an overhead balcony.

We were warmly greeted upon arrival and our coats were taken to be hung up, we were given the menus to look through containing a quite extensive tea menu of which I opted for a Silver Needle white tea, a very delicately flavoured and fragrant tea. First to arrive on the table was little circles of shortbread followed by a quite impressive tower of sandwiches, scones and patisserie.

Fresh Salmon and cucumber
Honey roast ham
Egg mayonnaise and pepper
Tomato, basil and brie
Beef and red onion marmalade

Fruit, Heather honey and cinnamon scones served with jam and clotted cream

Blueberry cheesecake
Mini Bakewell tart
Sponge cake

All the food was superb and there was plenty of it as well with both of us very full and sleepy afterwards, my personal favourite was the Tiffin and the heather honey scones which I plan to make at some point. Service as you would expect was excellent, the Other Half couldn't manage to eat all her scones and requested to take them home, this request was willingly met and the takeaway box was topped up with more shortbread, a lovely touch.

Excellent food and service, a lovely extravagant way to spend an afternoon.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Chocolate Chili Cake

Having never had the opportunity to sample a chocolate chili cake and being in a chocolaty mood, I decided to give it a go.

Chocolate Chili Cake
250g Butter
300g Light Muscavado Sugar
100g Plain Flour
100g Self Raising Flour
4 Eggs
300g Dark Chocolate
2 - 4 Red Chili's

200g Dark Chocolate
200g Double Cream

Preheat the oven to 160C
Line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs a bit at a time, add a bit of flour if mix starts to split.
Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, leave to cool.
Once cool add chocolate to the mixture.
Fold in the flour to the mixture.
Chop chili's finely or crush into a paste and add to the mixture.
Spoon into the cake tin and bake for about 1.5 hours and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.

To Decorate
Use a bread knife to cut the cake horizontally in half.
Melt the chocolate in the same way as above, remove from heat and stir in the cream until smooth and glossy.

Spoon about a quarter of the choc/cream onto one half of the cake and sandwich the halves together.
Spoon the rest of the choc/cream over the top and spread across and down the sides of the cake.

Serve with a brew

Verdict: Squidgy, rich, chocolaty with a little chili heat, Lovely.