Friday, 25 February 2011

Sunshine Bakery, Leeds

Chapel Allerton, just outside of Leeds, seems like quite a nice place to live. They have an excellent Mexican restaurant, an Indian home delivery service that delivers authentic Indian food and they have the Sunshine Bakery...

On what turned out to be a tour of everywhere we like (foodwise) in Leeds. Sunshine Bakery was our first stop. The last time we went it only had one table, this time it had managed to squish a few more in to accommodate its evening supper club.
It is decorated in a quaint tearoom style with food and drink served on mismatched china, basically this place defines cosy and intimate. Our initial intention was to get some of the bakery's epic cupcakes but seeing that they now had a delicious sounding lunch menu we decided to stay and make a meal of it.

We opted for the Sunshine Beefburger (me) and the Pork belly and sausage meat sandwich (Other Half), both came on the bakery's homemade tomato and pesto bread with salad. The burger, which came with bacon and cheese, was very juicy, slightly pink in the middle and very flavoursome.

For dessert we (naturally) got cupcakes. Sunshine Bakery cupcakes are quite special, lighter than air sponge with masses of various toppings ranging from peanut butter, double chocolate, strawberry and mango, Eton mess plus Britians Best Cupcake 2010 - Mango and Banana.
Cupcakes usually are sickly sweet things usually sacrificing flavour for extravagant decoration, these cupcakes avoid this. They are full of flavour but still remain quite light allowing for more than one to be eaten at a time without that sickly feeling afterwards.

The final bill for two sandwiches, two cupcakes, tea, coffee, a pot of chai tea plus two of the tomato/pesto teacakes (it's a teacake not a barm or a bap or a bread cake, deal with it and move on) another cupcake and a large brownie to takeaway came to £24. An absolute bargain.

If you live in Leeds or the surrounding areas, go for a visit if you haven't already.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Sticky Honey and Lemon Chicken

This a recipe from Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers. It looked good and thats usually enough of a reason for me...

Sticky Honey and Lemon Chicken
3 Chicken Thighs (skin and bone on)
Juice of one Lemon
2 Cloves of Garlic (crushed)
1-2 Tbsp Honey
1-2 Tbsp Grain Mustard
1 Tbsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Mix the lemon juice, garlic, pepper, honey and mustard in a bowl.
Add the chicken to the mix andensure it is well coated.
Leave for a few hours/overnight to marinate. shake the mix up every so often.

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Place the thighs on a roasting tin and pour over the rest of the marinade
Cook for 40 minutes, turn half way through to ensure its well coated.
Remove from the oven and serve.

Eat and enjoy, prize for person who gets the messiest.

Verdict: sticky, soft chicken and a deliciously messy plate of food, also easy to alter according to preference, more lemon, less honey etc..

Vanilla Rose Cake

Here we have a guest recipe from  the person regular readers would know as the Other Half. This was her cake for this months Clandestine Cake meeting.

Vanilla Sponge Cake

225g unsalted butter, at room temp.
225g caster sugar.
210g self raising flour, sifted.
25g cornflour.
1 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract.
3 tbsps semi-skimmed milk, at room temp.

 Preheat the oven to 160 degrees, line a cake tin with greaseproof paper.
 Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is pale and smooth, this should take 3 - 5 minutes.
 Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
 Add the eggs to the creamed mixture, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition, alternating with the dry ingredients, and finally add the vanilla extract and the milk.
 Beat well after each addition but do not over beat.
 Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until raised and golden brown.
 Insert a skewer in the centre, it will come out clean if cooked.
 Once they are cool decorate with buttercream icing.

Buttercream icing

 115g unsalted butter, at room temp.
 4 tbsp semi skimmed milk, at room temp.
 1 tsp vanilla extract.
 500g icing sugar, sifted.
 Pink food colouring.

In large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth using an electric hand mixer.
Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.
To colour, simply beat in a tiny drop of pink food colouring.

Rose petals

1egg White
Enough roses petals as required

Take the egg whites and whisk lightly to break them up.
Pull apart petals from a pesticide-free (organic) rose. Choose petals free of blemishes or bend marks.
With a small, fine brush, take a little bit of the egg white mixture and evenly apply over the entire surface of the petal, starting from the centre out.
Sprinkle sugar evenly over the petal and place on drying racks until completely dried. They will be hard. If the petals are small and if the drying racks are spaced too far apart, place on paper towels to dry.
When finished, transfer to an airtight container until used. Properly stored, they should keep for a couple of weeks.

Plumed Horse, Edinburgh

The Plumed Horse is a one star Michelin restaurant located on Leith Docks, Edinburgh. The restaurant is at the top of the street that is referred to as the Michelin Mile consisting of the Plumed Horse, Restaurant Martin Wishart and The Kitchin.

The restaurant itself is very cosy with a max of about 20 tables on two levels. We were warmly greeted and our jackets taken but we were however 20 minutes early (makes a change for us), the restaurant were very accommodating and informed us that it wouldn't be a problem but there would be a small delay in taking our order, which we were fine with. We were shown to our seats and given the menus to browse and very delicious canapes to enjoy.

We each opted for the 6 course tasting menu with coffee and petit fours at £65 per head.

Veloute of Cauliflower, Quail Egg, Chives

 Sauteed Fillet of Sea Bream, Hand Dived Scallop, Chickpea, Smoked Haddock & Crab Casserole, Saffron & Mild Curry Spices

Terrine of Woodpigeon & Foie Gras and Thyme Brioche.

 Loin of Venision, Clapshot, Shallot puree, Duchesse Potato and venison jus.

 This was the pre dessert and was like a little lemon meringue in a glass

Honey & Clotted Cream Parfait, Mulled Wine Poached Plums

Petit Fours 

As you can see from the pictures, all the food was beautiful and it tasted beautiful as well. I could talk about each dish but I don't want to bore you so I'll just do highlights. My personal favourite was the loin of venison, it was cooked to perfection, soft and juicy and I could have literally eaten that over and over. The richest dish was the fois gras and wood pigeon, this was the third course and as divine as it was especially with the beautiful brioche, I was glad there was a break between that course and the main because I was struggling after it. The fish dish was also superb, the soft sea bream combined with creaminess of scallop went very well with the delicate curry flavours of the sauce.

Service was excellent, informative, friendly and not overbearing. The restaurant does not turn its tables allowing for very calm and unrushed service. The meal overall including the coffee took a good 3 hours which just breezed by. 

Overall, excellent value for a Michelin tasting menu, the experience and service received. It stands up well next to its more well known neighbours.

50-54 Henderson St
Edinburgh, Midlothian EH6 6DE
0131 554 5556

Plumed Horse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Chocolate, Honeycomb and Truffle Cake

It took me awhile to think up an idea for this months Clandestine Cake Club, then I got an idea and then another one and another one after that, therefore I decided to combine them. So I give you Chocolate, Honeycomb and Truffle cake......

Chocolate, Honeycomb and Truffle cake
The sponge
16oz self raising flour
16oz Butter
16oz Caster Sugar
8 Eggs
3tbsp cocoa Powder

First, weigh out the flour and then remove 3tbsps. replace with 3 tbsp of cocoa powder.
Stick everything else in the bowl and whisk until all combined.
Divide between two lined cake tins and bake in a preheated oven (190C) for about 45 minutes, check its done by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake, if its clean on removal its done.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

80g Butter
160g Caster Sugar
80g Golden Syrup
2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Melt all ingredients gently in a pan and then slowly boil.
Boil gently until mixture turns a golden honeycomb colour, if it starts to colour quicker on one side then give the mixture a swirl, don't stir.
Once a golden colour as been achieved (about 5 minutes of boiling), tip in the Bicarbonate of Soda and stir in gently, it should expand in the pan.
Tip into a greased tray and leave to cool and chill for a few hours until solid.

Whisky and Spiced Rum Truffles
Blog Post coming soon

Chocolate topping
300g Dark Chocolate
300g Double Cream

Over a pan of simmering water, Melt the chocolate in a bowl
Once melted remove from the heat and pour in the cream, stir until combined and smooth and glossy.

Make sure the cake is level when they are sat on top of each other, if not then slice of the offending area until they are both level.

Grind the honeycomb, use any method you like such as
food processor or beating it with a rolling pin.

Take 3-4 tbsp of the chocolate topping and mix in some ground honeycomb, use this for the middle filling.

Sandwich together and drown the cake with the remainder of the chocolate topping. smooth it round so it is completely covered.

Sprinkle the ground honeycomb across the top and place the truffles in a nice pattern on top.


(more pictures of the processes will be coming soon)

Clandestine Cake Club - Sweet Valentine

The sequel to Cake Cornucopia. this time held in the location of the Secret Tea Room due to a cancellation of the previous venue.

The theme this time was Sweet Valentine - show your love and affection for baking with delicious sweet decorations and flavours, over the top hearts and flowers

Me and my fellow bakers responded to this brilliantly with over the space of an hour cake after cake kept arriving each as delicious looking as the last, the amount of sugar eventually putting a fellow guest to sleep amidst the chatter afterwards.

Many thanks to our hostess for opening her home to accommodate us all.

I think that's enough from me, I'll let the cakes do the talking.....

My Chocolate, Truffle and Honeycomb cake
Lynn's Lemon and Lime Cake
Karoline's Kentish Chocolate Cake
Helen's Lemon Merigune Cake

Mikes Spiced apple and beetroot
Clair's Vanilla Rose Cake
Eleanor's Blueberry Cake
Lucy's Chocolate and ginger cake

Steph's Chocolate and Raspberry
Georgiana's Cherry and Almond birthday cake

Jealous yet? Come along to the next one then.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Selkirk Bannock

I spotted this recipe in this month edition of Good Food. It seemed simple to do and looked good. The article next to the recipe stated that it was apparently Queen Victoria's favourite, well if it is good enough for her.....

Selkirk Bannock
7g Sachet of Dried Yeast
1tsp Caster sugar
250ml Warm water
500g Strong White Flour
70g Lard/70g Butter (or use all butter) - melted and cooled
450g Sultanas
50g Light Brown Sugar
Milk for glazing

Mix the yeast, caster sugar and water together in a large bowl, leave for 10 minutes until it starts frothing.
Tip in the flour and 125g of the Lard/Butter and mix together to form a soft dough.
Knead for 5 minutes then place back into the bowl, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise until doubled in size.
Knock back the dough by kneading for a minute or two.
Add the sultanas and brown sugar and knead in well.
Shape into a round and place in a 23cm deep cake tin that has been greased with the remainder of the butter.
Leave again to rise for 30 minutes or until doubled.
Brush with the milk and place into a preheated oven (160C Fan/180C if not)
Bake for 50 minutes until risen and browned
If it starts to colour earlier and still requires cooking, then cover for 10 minutes with foil.
To check if it is cooked, the bottom of the bannock should sound hollow when tapped.
When completely cooked, remove from oven and eave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Serve toasted or warmed with plenty of butter and a cup of tea.



A recipe so simple, quick and delicious, it makes you wonder why people actually buy this stuff in shops.

300g Plain Flour
300g Butter
75g Caster Sugar (plus a bit extra for dusting)

Beat the butter with sugar, with an electric whisk until light and fluffy.
Tip in the flour and beat together until it is crumbly.
Use your hands and bring everything together to a sticky dough.
Press into a greased 27in tart tin and smooth round with the back of a spoon.
Bake in a preheated oven (160C fan assisted, 180C if not) for about 30 minutes or until golden.
Remove from oven.
While warm and still in the tin, cut into wedges and dust with caster sugar.
Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Stick the kettle on and enjoy.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Chicken and Papaya Curry

As well as writing my own, I like to read other people's blogs particularly food blogs. A particular favourite of mine is Belleau Kitchen written by a guy called Dom.

Recently he posted a recipe challenge in which participants had to pick at random a recipe book they owned. From this choice they had to flick through the book and stop at a random recipe and then cook that recipe regardless of what it is and without cheating and changing to a more preferred recipe.

The book I ended up picking was Gordon Ramsay's Great Escape and the recipe that I landed on was Chicken and Papaya Curry.
This would normally be a recipe I would probably glance at and that would be it, with it not being my usual preference in terms of food and curry. That, however, would be against the spirit of the challenge so here goes.....

Chicken and Papaya Curry (serves 4)
500g Chicken thighs (skinned and boneless)
1 tsp Ground Turmeric
1 tbsp Oil
2 Medium Onions (finely chopped)
3cm Fresh Ginger (peeled and grated)
3 cloves of Garlic
1 Green Chili (deseeded and finely chopped)
150ml Water
6 Tbsp Raw Green Papaya (finely chopped or pureed in a food processor)
Juice of one Lime
Coriander to garnish

Cut the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and mix with seasoning and the turmeric
Heat the oil in a wide frying pan and add the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger.
Fry for 5 minutes until the onions start to soften.
Add the chicken and mix well.
Fry over a high heat for a few minutes then add the water and the papaya.
Reduce heat to a simmer.
Cook for 20 minutes until chicken is tender and the sauce thickens.
Add the lime juice and season to taste.
Transfer to a warm serving bowl and garnish with fresh coriander.

Verdict: Very impressed. Very light and fragrant with each distinct flavour getting a chance to show off and with a lovely undertone of heat from the chilli. I will definitely be making this again and probably using this method to pick meals again because I wouldn't have made this otherwise.