Monday 6 October 2014

Toffee Apple and Walnut cake

For the odd reader that still floats about in cyberspace, you may have noticed that this blog has been on a sort of hiatus for the past few months.

After the rather hectic last couple of months, things have begun to settle down allowing me to do a bit of baking and attempt to resuscitate this little blog from it's food coma.

Since I last blogged, I have had a little wander around Europe for a couple of weeks where I ate and drank some very fine things.
I have moved house for the 7th time in 9 years. I have left Lincolnshire to return to Yorkshire after a 3 year absence and last but definitely not least; I  have quit one job to begin a new job in another school.

So quite an eventful few months.

So to the food, well to quote a little known TV programme; 'Winter is coming' and with it brings all manner of delicious warming bakes.
This one I spotted on the Good Food Calendar which I have finally stuck up 9 months after getting one and it uses the all time classic flavours of toffee and apple. I do recommend Good Food/Olive very highly as all the recipes work due to their triple testing which is more than I can say for some recipe books (looking at you, Heston, you bald git). This one worked perfectly and tastes gorgeous, especially when warmed slightly. I substituted pecans for walnut because pecans are quite expensive and walnuts work just as well for half the price.

Recipe available here:


Wednesday 16 July 2014

World Cup Food Challenge, Erwtensoep & Poffertjes, Holland

That's all folks, over for another 4 years. You were magnificent Brazil 2014.

There was the great; Herzlichen Gl├╝ckwunsch, Deutschland!
The good; So close, Holland.
The bad; Yes England, I'm referring to you
The utter hilarious: The Brazil National Football Team'.

But as the World Cup ends, so does its food challenge and no matter how late I am to finish up, finish up it must.

I've moaned about Dutch food before and the final two recipes in this challenge are hardly the most inspiring but Dutch food is hardly going to set the world on fire. I am off to the Netherlands in 3 weeks and I don't hold out much hope of finding much decent Dutch food.

So to wrap up the challenge I decided to make Erwtensoep (Split Pea Soup) and Poffertjes, which are the Dutch equivalent of our drop scones in the way they are cooked in order to 'puff' them up.however these are proved with yeast which gives them a deeper flavour and well worth giving them ago.

The soup speaks for itself, a simple vegetable soup made with split peas flavoured with, traditionally, smoked sausage. I made a few tweaks to it by using garden peas to give a fresher flavour and because I couldn't find any split peas, I also swapped the sausage in favour of a few nice butchers sausages.

500g frozen peas
2 small potatoes, cubed
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 bay leaf
1 litre of veg stock
4 pork sausages, I used Lincolnshire

Bake your sausages at 200C on a baking sheet until fully cooked
Fry the onion until soft and golden then add the celery and carrot, fry for a further 5 minutes.
Add the potato, bay leaf and veg stock. season and leave to bubble until all veg is soft.
pour in the peas and bring to the boil.
Blend to your required consistency.
Slice up the cooked sausages
Return to the pan and stir in the sausages.


Recipe available here


Thursday 3 July 2014

World Cup Food Challenge, Boterkoak, Holland.

 and the Dutch march on......

But for the love of all that is holy do they leave it to the last minute. it was a tough game to watch, Holland vs Mexico, with the attacking speed of Dutch football being sucked from their very bones, I can barely stand up in 38 degree heat, never mind play football at the highest level for 90 minutes. It's a good job that future World Cups are held in cooler climes......

but as the Dutch march on, so does the World Cup Food Challenge, I'm down to one team now with the cruel dismissal of the Chilean national side.

 I'm quite lucky having this team left in with their vast culinary history and repertoire, I mean if it was Spain, I would be struggling to find dishes at this point....

Anyhoo, sarcasm aside, I did find a dish with a glorious name; 'Boterkoak' which literally means: Butter Cake.

This is essentially the Dutch version of our shortbread only with mooooooooore butter, it is traditionally served in small pieces with coffee, which literally means that the Dutch are wusses and can't handle the butter, bless.

It is sometimes topped with flaked almonds but I had some Brazil nuts spare and they seemed much more appropriate

250g butter
250g caster sugar
250g plain flour
1tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
handful of Brazil nuts, halved

Weigh the flour and sugar into a bowl.
Melt the butter, gently in a saucepan and add the vanilla extract.
With an electric whisk, whisk the melted butter into the dry mix until fully combined.
Whisk in the egg
Pour the mix into a lined cake tin (20cm) and arrange the Brazil nuts in a pattern of your choice.
Bake for 25 minutes at 175C (fan).


World Cup Food Challenge, Chilean Fish Stew, Chile

I've seen a few World Cups in my time on this little spinning rock. France 98 was the first proper one, finally being old enough to appreciate the beautiful game and it's highs (Michael Owen vs Argentina) and its lows (Why Beckham, Why?). Since the, like most England supporters the belief has waned and now it's a case of when not if, we get dropped out of a major tournament.

Since we failed to qualify for Euro 2008, I've enjoyed watching tournaments more when not paying much attention to England and holy hell has Brazil 2014 been an enjoyable tournament. there have been few teams that have not come flying out of the box in terms of goals, attacking football and just sheer brilliance.

Brazil vs Chile proved no exception, brilliant end to end football from a team highly tipped for the title on their home turf and the underdogs who took the game straight to them. Of course it went to penalties, that stomach churning 10 minutes of impending doom (for England fans anyway) and it just wasn't to be, the underdogs fought bravely but were beaten in the end.

But their food lives on while their World cup dream dies and my choice for the final Chilean meal was inspired.

There is always one recipe that stands out during these types of challenges and this Chilean Fish Stew is the one that has stood out by a nautical mile.

Soft flaky fish in a creamy spicy, tomatoey fish broth made into a filling meal with the addition of new potatoes complimented by fresh herbs, It's heaven in a bowl.

The original recipe gave measurements in cups, which is the most idiotic measuring system on the planet so instead I just  took the ingredients and went with it.

This recipe traditionally uses Conga eel but any firm white fish will do and feel free to throw in some shellfish as well if you like.

400g white fish, in chunks
1 onion, thin slices
2 cloves of garlic
400g cherry tomatoes, chopped
200g new potatoes, halved
1 heaped tsp of hot smoked paprika
1 small bottle of white wine (187ml)
half a litre of fish stock
half a bunch of parsley
salt and pepper
small pot of double cream
handful of fresh coriander

Fry the onion and garlic together until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until soft and starting to break down.
Stir in the paprika.
Pour in the wine, stock , potatoes and parsley and simmer for 20 minutes until soft.
Pour in the cream and season to taste.
Add the fish and cook gently for a few minutes until cooked through.
Serve with coriander sprinkled on top.


Friday 27 June 2014

World Cup Food Challenge - Pavlova, Australia

Last but not least, the whipping boys of Group B: The Aussies.

It's a bit unfair to call Australia the whipping boys of the group, considering Spain's performance. As far as I'm concerend they have had a decent tournment considering the group of death they were put in. I had good plans for this country mainly revolving around kangaroo but several things got in the way of me getting hold of some and by then it was too late. However, I have got it in my head and I've found that Leeds Markets stock kangaroo fillets, so they will be cooked and sampled at some point.

Even though this is World Cup challenge, Wimbleydon, got into the swing of things on Monday and everyones favourite Brit (for now) as got off to a flying start so to incorporate all things Australian and all things British, I decided to make a Pavlova with Strawberries and Cream but.... if you have an aversion to all things Aussie, drop it into a glass and boom, Eton Mess.

4 eggs whites
250g caster sugar
1tsp cornflour
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp white wine vinegar

tub of strawberries, chopped into chunks
600ml double cream
2tbsp icing sugar

Seperate the egg whites into a bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk until stiff peaks form.
Whisk in the caster sugar 50g at a time until fully combined.
Whisk in the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and set aside.
Preheat the ovento 120 C (fan) and draw a circle on a sheet of non stick baking paper.
Spoon the meringue onto the circle, with high sides and a well to hold the cream and strawberries.
Bake for 1 hour then switch of the oven and allow the meringue to cool inside.

to prepare...
Whip the cream until it holds a soft peak and then whisk in the icing sugar, pile high on the meringue and top with lots of strawberries.


World Cup Food Challenge - Churros, Spain.

Oh Spain, I had such high hopes for you. My tapas feast for the finale was well underway and then.....and had to get completely hauled over the coals, utterly ripped apart and made to look like a Sunday league team by the magic of RVP and Robben. A staggering performance from the incumbent World and European champions.

So with my tapas dream turning to ashes, I was left with only one chance to cook from Spain. This was a difficult job with there being no shortage of tasty Spanish food, recipes and ingredients available. Was I to stick with my tapas feast? or choose something else?

Well it had to be something else, the feast just wouldn't be the same with Spain being unceremoniously drop kicked back across the Atlantic, so instead I opted for a recipe that I've always wanted to have a go at but never got round to. Churros.

For the uninitiated, Churros are the Spanish (and Mexican) equivalent of a doughnut, only instead of being round and filled with Jam, they are long and thin, coated in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and then dipped into whatever you fancy. I personally recommend a fruit compote or melted chocolate.

This recipe is simplicity in itself but.... it is far easier with two people.

First off, make your dough....
250g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract
50g of butter
350ml water
pinch of salt

Weigh out and seive together the flour and BP into a bowl, make a well in the centre.
Boil the water and pour over the butter and vanilla extract in a measuring jug, stir until fully melted.
Pour into the well and beat with a wooden spoon until a thick smooth dough is formed, allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Thats the easy part all done. Now...

Set up two trays, one with 150g of sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon, mixed together and spread out. the other tray is to be covered with kitchen paper to absorb excess fat.

Next , fill a pan with about a litre of sunflower oil and slowly bring to about 150C, a piece of bread dropped in should brown within a minute.

While the oil is heating, transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a medium star nozzle, or a circle one if you don't want ridges.

Pipe into the oil to the desired length then, preferably with another person, cut off the end of the churro once the desired length as been piped.

Deep fry until golden brown, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon onto the paper and then roll in the sugar. repeat until all the batter is used.


Thursday 26 June 2014

World Cup Food Challenge - Escabeche, Chile.

To South America and the next country in Group B; Chile.

Chile have had a decent start to their world cup campaign, coming second in their group which can be considered a successful outing so far as they weren't the favourites to escape to the last 16 with the European powerhouses of football Spain (ha!) and Holland, taking up residence.

So what to cook...

Chilean cuisine has very strong Spanish influences and because of its location of the west side of South America has vast amount of seafood at it disposal. Scouring the internet I stumbled upon a recipe for escabeche, something I've wanted to but never had the opportunity to try.

Escabeche simply means 'pickled' and consists of fillets of fish, quickly fried or poached then soaked in a pickling liquor to marinade until serving.

So having decided to give Escabeche a go, I needed a recipe, enter River Cottage with this delicious recipe: Escabeche of mackerel. The recipe is also available in River Cottage Fish, which you really need to have in your collection.

I stuck to the recipe instructions with everything apart from the fish, I fancied rainbow trout and after trying it, it works fine.

The end result was delicious, lightly pickled fish, not to the extent of rollmops, and with a lovely spicing. You can almost feel yourself filling with virtue at the healthy deliciousness of it all. Give it a go.

World Cup Food Challenge - Appel Taart, Holland.

It's hard getting back into this blogging lark after a period of absence, a fairly lengthy period of absence looking back at the date of the last post. I have had stuff to blog, but little time or motivation to do it. I needed a challenge....

Fortunately the second greatest show on earth, The FIFA World Cup kicked off just under two weeks ago now and a team of crazy bloggers have been rounded up by @ewanmitchell to cook dishes from the all the participating countries, sound familiar? The good news this time, is there is only 32 countries and each blogger is responsible for 4 of them to cook with them through the tournament.

My Teams:
Group B
Lets start things off with my team of the tournament and my tip for World Cup glory; The Dutch.
The Dutch have had a blinding start so far, 3 wins out of 3 and Van Persie and Robben on blistering form. While wondering what to make for this country I was told to give their apple tart a go and they didn't have to tell me twice when it comes to baking or pies.
It's an interesting recipe this one, a bit of a cross between a pie and cake, with a bread style crust. it's very simple to make, far easier than the English apple tart and taste delicious with slightly tart apple, spicy cinnamon and sweet bread/cake holding it all together.
175g butter
175g plain flour
175g self raising flour
1 egg
1tbsp water
zest of one lemon
3-4 large slightly tart apples, think Braeburn not Royal Gala, cut into small pieces
50g sultanas
1tsp cinnamon
50g sugar
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp Apricot Jam
Make the filling, add the juice of the lemon to a bowl
Core the apples and slice into small chunks, add to the lemon and stir to make sure they don't colour.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix together well, set aside.
Beat the butter until light and fluffy, add the flours, the egg, water and zest of lemon. mix together to make a soft, not sticky dough.
Remove a third of the dough and set aside. press the remaining dough into a lined 20cm cake tin, making sure it is even and goes up the sides of the cake tin.
Fill the tin with the apple mixture.
With the reserved dough, make a lattice effect over the top of the cake and then place into a preheated oven at 170C for 45-50 minutes until golden on top.
Melt the jam in a small saucepan and stir until smooth, brush the top of the cake once removed from the oven
Serve with sweetened cream or vanilla ice cream


Wednesday 9 April 2014

Wild Garlic Quiche

 It is the season of Wild Garlic, a lovely food season where people (like me) can pretend to be scouring the wild for their tea and returning home victorious to a well earned pint after a hard day's searching, foraging and gathering.
I may have exaggerated a little there as I am quite fortunate to know of a good stash of wild garlic a mere 2 minutes walk from the OH's flat, but hey when finding food in the wild (local park) it's something to be slightly pleased about.

Anyway, it's a relatively simple plant to find. It grows like wildfire and it has very nice and edible little white flowers attached to it. It also has a very distinctive strong smell and chances are you will smell it before you see it. There is about a month left of the season so you still have plenty of time to find some.
 As well as obtaining some wild garlic, the kind folks at Barber's 1833 recently sent me some of their excellent cheddar to sample. Matured for at least 2 years, it is a delicious cheese with a rich taste that only comes from decent cheese that has had time to develop its flavour.

Pondering what to make with it (before I ate it all) I did think about making a classic rarebit but with spring in the air and the clocks going forward, I only had one option and I had to make the first quiche of the year.

Using a standard quiche base of eggs cream and milk, I grated a good chunk of cheddar in, alongside sliced up wild garlic leaves. I also added nutmeg to the pastry to liven it up a bit. The end result was delicious, cheesy, creamy quiche with the cheese balancing well with the wild garlic and not getting completely drowned out, a perfect spring time treat.

200g plain flour
100g butter
1 egg yolk
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

100g Chedder Cheese, grated
8-10 leaves of Wild Garlic, rolled into a cigar then finely sliced
150ml double cream
100ml milk
4 eggs
1 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper

You will need a 20cm fluted, loose based tart tin

Add the butter to the flour and rub together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
add the water and stir with a knife to combine, then knead together quickly to combine until a soft dough.Wrap tightly in clingfilm and leave in fridge for at least half n hour.
Get two sheets of cling film, spread one across the work surface, place each mound of dough in the middle and spread the other sheet over the top. Roll out gently in between the two sheets of cling film (this method stops any excess flour being added to the pastry and drying it out). Remove the top layer and using the bottom layer drape the pastry gently into the tin and press gently into all edges. 

With a rolling pin, roll it over the top of the tart tin to take off the edge.  
Prick the base with a fork to stop it from rising in the oven. Return to the fridge. 
Preheat the oven to 180C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

Push up the edges of the pastry slightly to compensate for shrinkage.
Bake blind for 15 minutes then for a further 15 minutes normally to dry out and bake the base.
Once baked, brush the base with egg white to create a seal.
Lower the oven temperature to 150C

In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk, cream and nutmeg until fully combined. Season to taste.
Stir in the cheese and wild garlic and pour into the tart casing.
Bake at 150C for 30 - 40 minutes until slightly golden.
Allow to cool before serving.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Amazing Graze

Yesterday was the start of the second annual music and street food festival held in of all places, a church.
Run by the food heroes of Manjit's Kitchen, Amazing Graze is a collection of great street food, quality beer and an eclectic mix of musical acts, ranging from DJ sets to HipHop to Acapella. It is running today as well so still time to get yourself down there.

We were there for a good few hours merrily drinking and eating away a pleasant Saturday afternoon (with a brief interlude to shout at a certain horse race results). The street food itself, ranged from the usual pulled pork and paella to something a bit more adventurous from the makers of Leeds finest breakfast, The Greedy Pig.

The Pig, having escaped from their usual little cafe, had on a 6 option tapas menu, using all the parts of an animal that usually get neglected.

Naturally I had to try them all and between me and the OH we ordered the lot. The OH went for a terrine, meatballs and Ox heart kebab.
I went for the Ox heart kebab, thick chunks of tender spiced heart, griddled to perfection.
Scotch Quail eggs, quail eggs wrapped in sausage meat and liver and finally one of the finest pieces of offal I have ever tried with the Ox Tongue Taco, thinly sliced spiced tongue with salsa, curd cheese and pumpkin seed.
After a few hours and a few beers, the final tapas arrived with Stu from the cafe in the form of Black Pudding wontons, a product so simple but so good, crispy wonton pastry with a black pudding filling served with sweet and sour onions. Superb.

Having digested a bit, I decided to opt for a relative newcomer to the street food scene, Banh mi Booth, their van is still currently being built but this hasn't affected the food, with them offering an excellent selection of Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) and noodle dishes. I went for the pork and received a very large sandwich filled with pork, vegetables, herbs, chillis and a fried egg to put the final nail in the food coma.

After a few more beers, we decided to call it a day and headed back to town but not before getting an ice cream (caramelised banana sorbet (left) and golden syrup (right)) for the road from the always excellent Gingers Comfort Emporium.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Flapjack with Dark Chocolate and Raspberry

 It has been a very busy week at work and is only likely to get busier as it is approaching that delightful time in the academic year known as coursework/exam season. Roll on the 11th June when it will all be over but until then we have to power through. To aid this, I decided to go a bit old school and make a baking classic, a good old flapjack.

Never underestimate the wonder of a well made flapjack, Golden buttery oats that are sweet, crunchy and chewy that can be eaten on the go or lazily with a cup of tea and your feet up, glorious.

A good flapjack should consist of 50% porridge oats with the rest made up of equal quantities of proper butter, sticky golden syrup and golden caster sugar. Various dried fruits can be added but these are strictly optional as is my final ingredient.

Now the flapjack is wonderful on it's own but it's even better with chocolate, but it has to be dark... milk is too sweet and white...well lets not go there.

I picked up a bar of Divine's Dark Chocolate with Raspberries to go on top, it's a delightful chocolate with little tangy bits of raspberry in it which go really well in cutting through sweet flapjack and bitter chocolate.

450g Oats
150g Butter
150g golden caster Sugar
150g Golden syrup

1 bar of Dark chocolate with raspberries (if using)

Line your chosen baking tin, I used a 23cm Pie dish, about an inch deep.
Weigh out the oats into a bowl.
Add the butter, sugar and syrup to a pan and then melt and stir gently until fully combined and a lovely golden liquid is created.
Pour in the oats and stir well until all oats are coated.
Pour into the tray and flatten down and smooth over with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 30 minutes at 150C until golden on top
Allow to cool
Melt the chocolate gently in a bowl over a pan of simmering water then drizzle over the flapjack as you see fit.
Serve and enjoy.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Creme Egg Brownies

I am a broken man this weekend. My very soul has been shattered and my liver has packed its bags and gone on holiday in protest. Yes, I drank a little too much alcohol combined with a lack of food and now I'm suffering for it.
Don't worry though, I am on the mend, assisted by these little beauties, which I made today.
I have been wanting to make creme egg brownies for an age, yes they are all over the place but I worship at the alter of the creme egg and combined with a gooey sticky brownie then its all good my friends.

The recipe I used is adapted from Lorraine Pascale's Oreo brownies which has served me well in the past, obviously this time I omitted the Oreo's in favour of the creme egg.

Creme egg brownies
165g Butter
200g Dark Chocolate, broken up.
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
165g light brown soft sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the chocolate, set aside and allow to melt, stirring occasionally until fully combined.
Whisk the eggs with the vanilla until light and fluffy
add the sugar to the side of the bowl in two goes, whisk between each addition.
Pour in the chocolate and fold in gently.
Fold in the flour, salt and cocoa.
Pour into a lined tin, I used a large pie tin but a standard 20cm square baking tin will suffice.
Slice the creme eggs into halves or quarters and arrange over the top.
Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes at 170C (fan)

Allow to cool slightly then use the baking sheet to lift it out to cool completely.
Serve and enjoy.

I can already feel my soul healing... until next weekend.

Thursday 27 February 2014


Last week Me and the OH went off on one of our food tours across the country, usually our destination is London but instead to break from tradition we headed North to our second favourite city, Edinburgh. Now when we go on holiday or go anywhere in fact, it is all about where we eat and drink, I tend to plan this very far in advance and then read menus up until the day we go. This post is about what we got up to and the excellent things we had to eat
The Hanging Bat

A new find and a lovely craft beer and gin bar. Below is the epic beef po'boy sandwich with mac and cheese and burnt beans and chorizo

The Bow bar/Queens Arms
Two of the finest whisky bars in Edinburgh. Many many whiskies were drunk.

Bramble Bar
Another new place, cracking well priced cocktail bar in a hidden location. If you find the laundrette, you've found it.


Vesper Martini

The Dogs

This place is amazing, simple food done incredibly well without fuss. plenty of offal for the more adventurous but 'safe options if you ain't, also one of the waiters reminds us of Richard o'Brien from Crystal Maze.

Devilled Ox liver, onions bacon and mushrooms

Pork belly with Skirlie (oatmeal, liver and kidney)

The Kitchin
A return visit to arguably Scotland's finest restaurant. This wasn't on the original plan having previously visited, but my dad was joining us for the day and there was no where else I'd rather take him. The lunch menu is a bargain, 3 course plus appetiser and bread for £28. I ordered a second pudding because I'm greedy and like puddings.

Pheasant Jelly with quail egg and Confit pheasant leg

Bouillabaisse with mussel and cod cheeks
Ox Leg with cannelloni of ox tongue and vegetables
1st Pudding - Pistachio Souffle
2nd pudding - Vanilla cheesecake with Yorkshire rhubarb

Circle Cafe
Epic breakfast at Circle Cafe

Under the Stairs
Another 'hidden away bar' serving one of the best meat and cheese boards I've seen.

Castle Terrace
Our final meal in Edinburgh, the sister restaurant to The Kitchin run by Dominic Jack.
We were very impressed with this place and it gave me the dish of the week with the absolutely stunning pork dish below, I've never eaten a pork dish as good. This was again £28 for 3 courses.

Manhattan (not much of a wine drinker, me)

Tartare of Gurnard with Yorkshire rhubarb

Selection of Pork with Apple
The selection: Pork fillet, Pork cheek, Breaded trotter, Pork belly, Bacon, Black pudding and Chorzio. Unbelievable value for a set lunch option. I would have happily paid £28 for this alone.
Creme Brulee

Mini Cheese course
Petit Fours