Thursday, 29 August 2013

Honeyed Apricot and Fig Galette.

I tend to be a bit of an impulsive shopper, if I see something I want and it is affordable I will buy it. I tend to avoid online shopping where possible as it is easy to get carried away. The same goes with food shopping, despite meal planning and list writing I always seem to end up with extras in the basket. I popped out on Sunday morning to buy some toiletries, pretty boring stuff, deodorant, dry shampoo, lemsips etc... I passed my local greengrocers on the way to boots and spotted some apricots. They were the most perfect vibrant yellow hue and really caught my eye, and of course once I stopped I spotted some plump little figs nestled beside them.

I of course bought half a dozen apricots, and a couple of figs.

Foodie confession time; before Sunday I had never eaten a fig. I had no idea what they tasted like, or even ashamedly; how to eat them? Do you peel them? Do they have a stone or seeds that needs removing? I hadn't a clue. *hangs head in foodie shame*

I took to Youtube and entered "how to eat a fig" into the search box. This incredibly chirpy guy filled me in on the art of eating figs. I am still slightly confused as to why you would get a sore tongue or lips but hey ho.

In typical disorganised-me fashion I had no idea what I was going to do with this fruit. Determined to not let it go to waste I took to the my bloglovin feed for inspiration. Thats when I saw this beautiful blackberry galette from London Bakes.

I was intrigued by the olive oil pastry and just had to give it a go. How better to showcase these beautifully coloured apricots than an open top galette.

The pastry is so easy to work with and it feels a little more virtuous with olive oil than lots of butter. For something as simple as this galette, where the fruit is the star, this understated pastry is perfect. Then brushed with warm honey before baking... Incredible.

print recipe
Honeyed Apricot and Fig Galette
Ingredients
  • 155g Plain Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 90ml Ice cold water
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 6-8 Apricots
  • 1 Fig
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Corn Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Honey
Instructions
For the pastry; put all the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, slowly add the oil until it is distributed evenly, then add the water and lemon juice slowly until it starts to clump together. Quickly knead it into a ball and wrap in clingfilm. refrigerate for 30 mins to an hour. Chop the apricots and fig into quarters and pop them into a bowl. sprinkle over the sugar and cornflower and gently mix. Leave this to rest until your pastry is ready.Roll the pastry into a large circle about half an inch thick. spill the fruit into the center of the circle, leaving an inch around the edge for folding.Then roughly fold the edges inwards, overlapping the fruit (see photo)Gently warm your honey in the microwave for 5-10 seconds. Then brush lightly over the fruit and pastry. I sprinkled a little brown sugar on at this point too.Bake at 180C for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is a delicious golden brown.Eat warm or cold, preferably with ice cream. Enjoy!

This recipe could work with pretty much any fruit, even if it is slightly soft or passed its best! A great showstopping dessert which is actually ridiculously easy.

Next time I make this I am tempted to go with a cherry/almond combo. Or how about a cinnamon apple for autumn? The possibilities are endless! Can you tell I loved this galette yet?

I have entered this recipe into the Recipe of the Week Linky.

Link up your recipe of the week

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Great British Bake Off - English Muffins

Warning, if you haven't watched last nights Great British Bake-Off yet, do not read on. SPOILERS

Great British Bake Off 2013

It was all about bread on the Great British Bake-Off last night. Although the bakes themselves seemed a little uninspiring. Bread sticks? Really? Who makes their own bread sticks? Although after seeing Ali's blue cheese numbers I might be tempted.

I picked Beca in the office sweepstake, she did seem to have a bad night last night with her bendy bread sticks and under-baked Christmas wreath. She is still my favourite though, the banter between her and Mel lifted what ended up being a bit of a dismal week.

Don't get me wrong I enjoyed it, I just felt that the bakes were a bit dull. Bread sticks? I mean come on.

I was super happy to see Ali and Ruby gain in confidence this week after a shaky start. Although I feel Kimberley should of been star baker.

Great British Bake Off 2013

I am still baking along with the show, after the success of last weeks Angel Cake I was raring to try the next technical challenge!

I used the Mary Berry recipe for English Muffins from her Complete Cookbook. I do love Mary Berry but this book is a bit of a shambles, the index doesn't match the page numbers and the recipes lack detail.

This recipe is not at all what they used on the show, no butter or eggs. Just a basic bread dough really. They still tasted like English muffins should though!

print recipe
English Muffins
Ingredients
  • 500g Wholemeal Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 7g Sachet of yeast
  • 250ml Almond Milk
  • 125ml Hot water
Instructions
I mixed the flour, salt and yeast together in my Kitchenaid while I measured out the wet ingredients.I added the hot water to the milk and slowly poured it into the flour (with the Kitchenaid on low).I continued to knead the dough in the mixer (fitted with a dough hook) for around 5-7 minutes, until it was smooth and elastic.I left it to prove in a warm spot for around an hour, until doubled in size.I knocked the dough back and gave it a quick knead.I rolled the dough to around an inch and a half thick and cut out 8 muffins (well 7.5 really).I left these to prove again on a lightly oiled baking tray loosely covered in cling film.After 30 minutes I then proceeded to cook the muffins in a warm frying pan. I gave it 6-7 minutes on each side.

What did you make of last nights show? Do you have your favourite picked yet?

Next week it looks like its going to be il flotante (floating islands) and trifle. Neither of which has me too excited. Are they running out of bake ideas?

I added my post to the Bakers Anonymous GBBO Bake-a-long. Go check them out and see how everyone else got on this week!

GreatBloggersBakeOff

I have also linked up to The Great Blogger Bake Off. Hosted by Jessie and Jenny

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Walkers Mighty Lights - The perfect crisp sandwich

So we all know about my sordid and dirty love affair with crisps, I went on alarmingly about it here. What can I say, I just love those crispy little suckers.

Now lets get down to the nitty gritty and talk flavours. As a child I was all about the prawn cocktail, I couldn't get enough. My mum used to buy the big multi-packs to go into packed lunches and the two packets of prawn cocktail barely lasted an hour after purchase.

Weirdly I can't stand prawn cocktail these days, far too sweet. My adult palate has adapted and I am all about the cheese and onion these days. Give me a back of walkers cheese and onion and two slices of bread and I am in crisp-sandwich heaven!

For the optimal crisp sandwich you need the most basic of white bread, slathered in butter, a liberal sprinkling of crisps and you are good to go. The most important step in creating the perfect crisp sandwich is the smoosh (a technical term). Simply push down with a flattened palm onto the sandwich, this breaks the crisps into smaller, more manageable pieces and stops too many falling out when eating.

These Mighty Lights are actually really tasty. I am always a little wary of "diet" or "low fat" crisps as there is always the danger of losing flavour and texture along with the calories but these seem to find a good balance. They are ridged like the Walkers Baked variety but are not as thick or crunchy (much better for crisp sandwich purposes).

Mighty Lights have 30% less fat and at 114 calories per pack (3 Weight Watcher's Propoints) they'd make a great addition to my lunch box.

Mighty Lights are available from all major supermarkets at around £1.90 for a pack of 6.

They are available in 3 flavours; Lightly Salted, Roast Chicken and Cheese and Onion. The cheese and onion were the clear favourite in our house. The "lightly" salted were in fact incredible salty and neither of us enjoyed them. I would definitely buy the cheese and onion variety again.

Are you partial to a crisp sandwich? What is your guilty pleasure food?

this is a sponsored post

Monday, 26 August 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 26th August

Happy Bank Holiday! These is nothing quite like a three day weekend to cheer me right up! It has been a long couple of weeks at work as everyone has been on holiday except me, making for quite a lonely working environment.

Thankfully normal service shall resume tomorrow.

So this week is insanely busy! I am out pretty much every night so the meal plan reads more like an itinerary.

Tuesday
We are off to The Stand comedy club in Newcastle after work. The food at The Stand is insanely good but I am not sure we will have time to eat beforehand.

Wednesday
Today would of been my Mum's 51st birthday. So the family are heading out to dinner at Unos on the Quayside. We are determined for it not to be a somber occasion and to celebrate over good food and plenty of drinks.

Thursday
I am off to Brewdog Newcastle for an afternoon-tea style blogger event. I will be sure to fill you in on the details of this as it sounds pretty exciting. I mean cake AND beer? Win.

Friday
I have no out-of-the-house plans! So I am cooking Jerk chicken fajitas with rice and avocado salad. I bought this jerk seasoning from The Spicery, I am excited to try it.

Its unusual for me to have such a busy week but I am really looking forward to it. It is probably a good thing I am so busy so I won't have time dwell on Wednesday too much.

So not your conventional meal plan, should be a good week non the less.

I have entered my meal plan into Mrs M's linky.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Ninety Nine - Gourmet Fast Food - Newcastle

When most people think of Newcastle, they think of stag and hen parties, the Big Market, binge drinking, Geordie Shore, NUFC fans with their shirts off on Sky Sports News, etc... This does make me a little bit sad, there is so much more to my city than this.

Newcastle is a beautiful and historic city with so much going on beyond the stereotypical nightlife. The food alone is something to shout about for me. There are so many wonderful restaurants and food-events in Newcastle. I've spoken about the cake & pie clubs, the Boiler Shop Steamer event and the Urban Night Feast (which is coming back in October!!!)

There is also the Eat Festival this month which has so many events, pop-ups, classes and opportunities to try new things. I have bought tickets to the Tea Owl Pop-up Picnic in September, and I am also eyeing up the Eat-Along Sushi event (anyone want to go with me?)

So as you can see there is so much more to Newcastle than you see on TV. Anyway, that is enough of the sales pitch...

Ninety Nine Newcastle Review

Before I got a bit sidetracked there with professing my love for my city, I was going to talk about a new restaurant that has opened in the city centre. Ninety Nine is a small cafe/restuarant located beside Grey's Monument. I heard about it from a few fellow foodie bloggers on twitter. Hearing so many people whose opinions I respect greatly raving about 99's burgers, I knew I had to try one.

The cafe itself it quite small, the chalkboard menu's have regularly changing specials and also doodles and messages which gives the place a relaxed feel. All the pots of fresh herbs along the counter add a lovely freshness to the place and also smell really good. (I love the smell of fresh basil).

Ninety Nine Newcastle ReviewNinety Nine Newcastle Review

I was a little overwhelmed at first as there were so many things I wanted to try. The fresh pasta looked wonderful, the salads were fresh and interesting, no limp lettuce and soggy cucumber in sight!

I opted for a classic burger with sweet potato fries and a soft drink (meal deal for £5). It was pretty busy so I took my gourmet take-out back to my office for the all important taste-test. The sweet potato fries were OK, if a little soggy but I loved the spice they used to give them a little added kick.

The burger was delicious! The burger itself just melted in your mouth. The bun was lightly toasted, the salad was peppery rocket and the relish had a lovely sweetness to it. I was really impressed. I definitely feel that a quick and easy decent burger was hard to come by in the city centre and thanks to Ninty Nine I shall never be forced to eat a sub-par McDonalds out of necessity again.

Ninety Nine Newcastle ReviewNinety Nine Newcastle Review

I will definitely be heading back there for some salad or pasta soon. Someone posted a photo of a chicken, bacon and avocado salad on twitter and it looked heavenly!

You can follow Ninty Nine on twitter here.

So, in conclusion... Come to Newcastle, we have good food.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Great British Bake Off 2013 - Angel Food Cake.

So the Great British Bake Off series 4 started on Tuesday! I have been pretty excited and a little apprehensive about this series. I absolutely love the Bake Off, Series two is part of the reason I started baking and blogging more often.

Series 3 was a bit of a disappointment. I didn't warm to many of the contestants, the bakes were uninspiring and it all started to feel a bit cynical to me.

After one episode I have high hopes that its going to be a good series, I already have a few favourites.

Great British Bake Off 2013

Frances, Howard and Beca all showed their creative flair in the first episode and I am excited to see how they get on over the whole series. Rob and Lucy were also good but they weren't really prominent in the first episode.

Who have been your favourites so far? Have you picked your winner already?

This year I have decided to bake-a-long with the series, I am going to try to bake one thing inspired by the show each week. There will be a weekly linky over on Bakers Anonymous if you fancy joining in too.

Great British Bake Off 2013

I baked this cake before watching the show so found myself falling into some of the same traps the contestants did in terms of greasing the tin.

Although, even with its wobbly shape and slightly dipped top it is bloody delicious! The floaty, light texture is simply heavenly. I think I may have found my perfect cake! I followed Ruth at The Pink Whisk's recipe and it was really easy to follow. I opted to make mine lightly lemon in flavour (mainly because I ran out of vanilla!).

print recipe
Angel Food Cake
Ingredients
  • 9 Egg Whites
  • 120g Plain Flour
  • 250g Caster Sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp Cream of Tartar
  • Zest of one Lemon
Instructions
I started by measuring out the flour and sugar and sifting both (separately) 4 times. You want the finest powder possible.Add 40g of the caster sugar to the flour and sift together one final time. (it is worth the hassle, honest)Pop the egg whites and cream of tartar into your stand mixer (or a large bowl if your using an handheld) and beat until very stiff.Add the remaining 210g of caster sugar to the egg whites gradually, beating well between each addition.Then gently fold in the flour (and lemon zest) making sure it is totally incorporated. Try to be gentle, you don't want to knock all the air out of those egg whites.Gently put the mixture into a NON-GREASED tin and bake at 170C for 40 minutes. Once cooked, invert the tin onto a cooling rack and leave to stand until cool. Gravity should do its thing here and leave you will a nice tall angel cake!

I used a funnel/angel food pan which I bought from Amazon here.

Although, Steph from Riverside Baking used a bundt tin and was successful.

Great British Bake Off 2013Great British Bake Off 2013

I was expecting this bake to be a bit faffy but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was, I will definitely be making it again in the future. I may need to find a use for 9 egg yolks though as it seems a bit wasteful. Anyone for custard?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Glazed Roast Chicken - Love Every Mouthful.

Is there anything better than a nice Roast Chicken? Yes, a Glazed Roast Chicken!

It is no secret that I am a lover of all things food. When I am not physically eating something I am probably planning my next meal. Some might call it obsessed, I prefer passionate. Whatevs.

I was contacted by Tesco to cook a recipe from their Real Food website and talk about their Love Every Mouthful campaign. This campaign aims to encourage the nation to celebrate food, be creative with every day food and relish every mouthful! Sounds great right?

For this campaign Tesco conducted some research of the nations top family meals and discovered that Newcastle's favourite meal is the classic roast dinner. While this is a little unimaginative I can definitely see why, who doesn't love a roast?

We do tend to have a roast most Sundays, not only is it delicious but the leftovers tend to last us for a few days after, either going into a pie, filling sandwiches for lunch, or thrown in pasta. It is also that point in the week where me and Paul sit down at the table, no distractions, and talk. I can definitely see why roast dinner was voted #1.

In case you're interested, Newcastle's top 5 were;

1. Roast Dinner 16%
2. Steak 8%
3. Lasagne 7%
4. Spag Bol 7%
5. Pizza /Pasta Meatballs/ Casserole 4%

All a bit same-y and boring for me, I'd of liked to have seen some spice, stir-fry, chilli, tacos...

Glazed Roast Chicken

I opted to do a slightly different take on a roast dinner, a beautifully rich glazed chicken. The glaze is sticky and full of flavour. It is a very easy way to add a different dimension to a roast chicken. I really loved the smell the glaze gave, my whole house smelled wonderful while it was cooking.

I would say this is not a traditional roast chicken and I wouldn't serve it with gravy. It is a nice summery alternative to the usual though, served with roasted new potatoes and broccoli.

Glazed Roast Chicken

print recipe
Glazed Roast Chicken
Ingredients
  • 1 Medium (1.4kg) Chicken
  • 6 1/2 tbsp Clear Honey
  • 5 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • Small piece Grated ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 5 tbsp Rice wine
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 200CCombine the honey, soy, ginger, garlic and rice wine into a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes (stirring occasionally) until thick and sticky.Put the chicken into a baking tray and brush on half the glaze.Roast uncovered for 50 minutes, then brush on the remaining glaze.Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes until cooked through and the juices run clear.

You can find the original recipe here.

I did not enjoy the lemon-y potatoes so decided not to include them here, they did not cook in the 30 minutes stated and the lemon was very overpowering. I would of much preferred some simple boiled new potatoes.

Glazed Roast Chicken

The Glazed Roast Chicken was juicy and packed with flavour. We had our Sunday roast with it, then used the rest in sandwiches and salads for lunches. Even Ruby the cat had a little bowl of it and it barely touched the sides! A big thumbs up from all of us.

For more information on Love Every Mouthful please visit www.tesco.com/LoveEveryMouthful or join in the conversation at #LoveEveryMouthful

Tesco provided the ingredients for the Glazed Roast Chicken

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Hungry Student Cookbook.

Its hard to tell with my youthful complexion and juvenile taste in jewellery but it has been over 5 years since I was a student. I remember my first day in halls like it was yesterday. I was the first of my student flat to move in and spent the whole day finding excuses to go into the kitchen to try and catch a glimpse of my mysterious housemates.

The day before I moved in, my Mum took me to Ikea to buy the essentials; which is my mind were scatter cushions and candles, but in hers were pots, pans and cutlery. (She was right, of course)

She also bought me a little student cookbook, it was the most valuable present ever. Many meals were prepared from that little book. It helped me plan meals, save money and win over my housemates with my awesome cooking skills.

I have no idea what happened to that little book, it is probably sat in a box in a cupboard somewhere, but if you have a child/friend/relative heading off to Uni in September and want to get them a little going away gift a cookbook is the thing I would recommend. There are heaps available but the "Hungry Student" series by Charlotte Pike is a particularly good one, with over 150 recipes in each book! They are a great starting point for someone moving away from home for the first time (or even a non-student who is not a natural-cook).

It is basic enough that even the most inexperienced cook would be able to follow the recipes, but also has a lot to choose from to keep a more adventurous palate happy. I decided to try a couple of basic recipes to see how they turned out. I opted for a nice fruit scone recipe and a loaf of artisan bread.

The recipes were really easy to follow and wielded great results! As a more experienced baker there were things I would of changed or added (or over-complicated) but for a basic scone/bread recipe it was perfect really.

I decided to try something from the Vegetarian book so turned my homemade bread into a wonderful bruschetta. Bruschetta is one of those things I always tend to order in restuarants but never make at home. I really need to start seeing it as a nice lunch option rather than an appetiser.

I watched Julie and Julia a few months back and in one of the scenes Julie and her husband were eating bruschetta for dinner and it looked so wonderfully fresh and vibrant. It is easy to get stuck in food ruts, eating the same meals over and over again. This recipe reminded me that I should branch out and try different things.

These three books are a wonderful addition to any parental care package, or a nice leaving gift to anyone you know going off to University this September. They are a bit of a bargain at 7.99 each, although I hear a few supermarkets are dropping the prices in the run up to September!

Thank you to Charlotte and Quercus for the review copies of the books

Monday, 19 August 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 19th August

Another week, another meal plan. I have been pretty good at sticking to the meal plan lately but it tends to be lunch times and snacking that is my downfall. The scales are not my friend at the moment. I wouldn't mind if I was enjoying it, but I am jut eating crap for the sake of it really.

So if someone could kindly kick me up the bum and remind me how great I felt a few months ago? Cheers?

Monday
The boyfriend is off out to watch the football so I am just feeding me. I am thinking some sort of chicken salad or omelette.

Tuesday
Pasta bake, I'll make two individual ones, mine with lots of vegetables and his with lots of meat.

Wednesday
Pork chops with jacket potatoes and salad.

Thursday
Quorn chilli with brown rice and spicy peppers.

Friday
Steak night! Aldi do wonderful sirloin steaks so we decided to treat ourselves this week. We will probably serve them with homemade wedges, or sweet potato fries.

My quest to not buy lunch actually went really well last week! I had leftovers most days, or sandwiches. As a reward everyone in the office went out for lunch on Friday to Ninos, an italian restaurant in the city centre. I think saving something nice for a friday will help me stick to my homemade lunch pledge.

I think this week I will treat myself to a healthy lunch from Ninety Nine, a new gourmet takeaway near Grey's monument. A review will be on the blog soon.

In other news; BAKE OFF STARTS TOMORROW!?!? Who is excited?

I have entered my meal plan into Mrs M's linky.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Meal Planning Monday - 12th August

It's Monday so its time for some serious meal planning. I have been all over the place recently, I don't know if its the weather or just a general summer apathy to organisation but I feel like I haven't cooked a proper meal in weeks! I have eaten out a lot, ordered in an awful lot and eaten many bowls of cereal for dinner. Not good.

I feel like I start all my meal plans saying this but here is me trying to get back on the straight and narrow.

Monday
Pasta bake with Swedish-style meatballs.

Tuesday
Quorn Chilli with brown rice (or possibly enchiladas depending on which we fancy)

Wednesday
Chicken thighs with sweet potato mash (or roasted) and brocolli

Thursday
My Healthy Carbonara with bacon and asparagus.

Friday
Sweet chilli salmon fillet with homemade oven chips and salad.

I am making a bit of a pledge not to buy lunch too much as I have been hammering M&S for the past few weeks. So I have stocked up on salad items, bread and sandwich things, soups etc... I have also bought some snacky bits to keep in my desk drawer, healthy things to try to keep me away from the naughty office cakes and biscuits.

I was sent some Katy's Kettle Corn flavour pop chips last week so I have shoved them all in my desk drawer. They are a great mid-morning snack as they taste a bit like crunchy nut cornflakes! Plus as 128 calories a bag its better than the cake or danish alternatives.

How do you resist temptation in the office?

I have entered my meal plan into Mrs M's linky.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

48 hours at Edinburgh Fringe ... Yes Please!

I have entered #48HrFringe with Premier Inn

Edinburgh Fringe. It is one of those events that I have always wanted to go to but never got around to actually doing. I have hopped on a train to Edinburgh numerous times, I love the vibe of the city, the architecture, the food... It is a lovely place to visit and I am lucky enough to live just over an hour away by train.

When I saw the Foodies100 were running a contest to win 48 hours in Edinburgh for the fringe festival I started writing this post. But alas, as I have never been to the fringe I don't really know what I would do in those 48 hours. There is just so many events and I wouldn't know where to begin!

The idea of this little post is to transport myself to a fantasy world, me and friend have £500 to do with what we want! What would we do? I suppose the answer is... As much as we can possibly fit in!

I want to wander the streets, see shows in unique venues, experience new comedians and maybe catch a few favourites. I saw Sarah Millican's preview at The Stand in Newcastle recently and it was brilliant, so I would love to see the whole show. Browsing the fringe programme is not helping in my deciding what I'd like to see issue, it all looks great! So many diverse acts, not just comedy, music, cabaret, art. Sounds like my idea of pure heaven. I love the look of Late 'n' Live but I am unsure I will be able to stay up that late!

I don't claim to be an expert on all things Fringe, but I would relish the opportunity to immerse myself in some culture for 48 hours. Also we haven't been able to get away anywhere as a couple this year so a little romantic break wouldn't go a miss.

I'd probably spend most of the £500 on food, one of my favourite bloggers, Ever So Juliet is based in Edinburgh and I'd love to try some of the places she recommends here. Lovecrumbs looks amazing!

As I would likely be visiting with my boyfriend we would need to factor in some sort of burger place and perhaps some whiskey drinking. I am sure we could manage that!

This blog post is my entry into the Foodies100 competition as part of Premier Inn’s Festival Fringe campaign. If I win my ideal 48 hour Edinburgh Festival Fringe weekend, I’d love to stay at Haymarket.

So, have you been to the fringe? Are you going this year? I would love to hear your fringe stories or recommendations.

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