Weekend Food Fair

While technically it’s not summer, May seems to bring the beginning of the summer-time events. This includes, the local food festival – bigger than your average farmers market and full of the best of local.

IMG_9486

One of Tunbridge Well’s first offering of the summer season for foodies is The Pantiles Food Festival (13th-15th May 3016).

I popped down on Saturday and the festival was in full swing, with demonstrations on the bandstand, cocktails in the (sometimes) sun, fresh produce, so much cake, oh and obviously many lunch options!

Having just moved house I told myself to be good – peruse the stalls, get lunch if I was hungry and focus on the tea towels hidden in Trevor Mortram I actually needed! Needless to say that was never going to happen.

I was good – with so many options I could have happily sampled some cocktails with lunch and bought all the local jam, veg, alcohol… but I was particularly caught by two stalls.

The Crow Kitchen & Green Apron.

Being allergic to the outdoors otherwise known as a hay fever sufferer, I am currently making my way through all allergy products. In the mean time I’m trying a new one: eating local honey. Local honey is made by your friendly local bees – the important part being local. Hailing from the same pollen you’re reacting to, eating this honey may help alleviate your symptoms – in theory desensitising you to the pollen.

Either way the raw kentish honey from Green Aprons tastes awesome!

My second purchase is so yummy – honestly my reaction. Macarons can sometimes be a bit hit and miss but The Crow Kitchen have got their recipe bang on. Not only are they soft and a little bit chewy but they also come in some great flavours – blackcurrant with star anise anyone?

I went for the box of 9 to show off with when the boyfriend’s mother comes to visit on Sunday. 3 French Vanilla, 3 Chocolate and 3 Salted Caramel.

P.S. Don’t worry if you’ve missed this food festival – they are back again in September (9th-11th).

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Let’s get baking – for Sport Relief

Let's get baking

 

I’m a firm believer in giving something back to society. Whether it’s your time, money or even just a warm smile. You never know what will help – you may even make someone’s day. So whether it’s helping your parents with the dishes, volunteering some spare time or baking for Sport Relief. Try and do something to help someone else this week!

One thing you can do is pop yourself down on the sofa (with a piece of cake – ’cause it’s bake off so it’s rude not to), tune into BBC1 @ 8.00pm Wednesday 17th February 2016, enjoy the general GBBO-ishness of The Great Sport Relief Bake Off and then donate.

Text ‘BAKE’ to 70005 or 70010 to donate £5 or £10 respectively.*

If you’re willing to do more…

From Friday 18th to Sunday 20th March, you can walk, swim or cycle yourselves proud!

Find out how you can get involved here

*Texts cost either £5 or £10 plus your standard network charge. 100% of your donation will go to Sport Relief. You must be 16 or over and please ask the bill payers permission. For full terms and conditions, more information or to donate online please go to bbc.co.uk/sportrelief

Catch up on previous episodes on BBC iPlayer

Tried & Tested: Treacle Tart

This is a new one for me, for someone who loves baking is really quite embarrassing that i’ve never actually made pastry. Opps.

But now I can hold my head high as my first pastry both held the mixture and was most definitely edible!

oh and no soggy bottoms!

IMG_8463You might be thinking, well with a treacle tart the mixture is hardly going anywhere – but when you half drop the damn thing when taking it out of the oven to fill I think It’s pretty damn good that the filling stayed mostly in one place!

My pastry may not have won and prises (I was aiming for the rustic look – honest) but there is only one small piece of the tart left… so I shall leave you with the link to the fantastically simple recipe, my words of advice for this one (below) and wish you good luck as i go in search of a fork… and maybe some clotted cream!

Recipe link: BBC – Food – Recipes : Treacle tart by James Martin

Don’t forget we are baking here, especially with pastry take your time and concentrate! Maybe that’s the way to keep your pastry in one piece

GF Blondies.

So this was not only the first successful gf recipe, but also my first bake in the new kitchen!

So happy to say the kitchen is still in one piece and the blondes were edible. Unfortunately something went wrong (still can’t figure out what) but these blondes didn’t taste like a traditional blondie, however I still ended up with the total gooey, yummy, scrumminess that is a brownie/blondie.

Normally I like to bake and vary my recipes until they are just how I like them and my own recipe. However, I was in the mood to bake and had not come across the box of my baking books and notes, so to the internet it was for a new gf recipe / inspiration. I like cooking Jamie Oliver recipes, they are fun and so simple to follow, so you can really enjoy the cooking / baking process. I have never used one of his recipes for baking before but the recipe was original and delicious – so I’m sold!

Now for the ingredients: the recipe was gf, using gluten free flour and baking powder, however with the small change of honey to maple syrup the blondes could also be vegan. I had never cooked with soya yoghurt before so I did my best to stick to the recipe and discovered that I really like soya yoghurt – great in smoothie too by the way! Finally, I need to mention the use of honey as a partial sugar alternative – it adds another level of flavour into the mix while keeping the mixture a malleable consitency.

GF Blondies // 2015

GF Blondies // 2015


 

•  Click here for the Jamie Oliver recipe  •

“Let them eat cake”

Easter Cake. 2015

Easter Cake. 2015

This may be a controversial title to my post, as it’s hotly debated whether Marie Antoinette actually uttered the words…

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”

… however, despite the history of this phrase – cake, in my mind, is never a bad thing. Annoyingly I was recently diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, meaning cutting out gluten for a while. This gave me a great chance to sample the free from isle (where I surprisingly liked some items more sans gluten, etc), it also gave me inspiration to give gf baking a go… luckily for me this ties in nicely with gbbo’s new idea for a ‘week’.

I’m off to sunny, sunny Greece this week so in my absence I have queued a few of my recent (more successful) experiments… along with the afore promised posts. Turns out moving house – pretty stressful… and all your baking utensils (and everything else you own) is never in the right place when you need it! Now life is getting to something resembling ‘normal’ for this house I can get back to writing and sharing all the things I’ve been discovering in my new location.

Breakfast inspiration from Golden Oats

If you haven’t checked out GoldenOats.Com – do it now… this is my lovely friend Georgia Plummer’s blog. She posts mainly about awesome food, normally various breakfasts, so I thought I would try one out for myself.

Honey Nut Granola. 2015

Honey Nut Granola with Pumpkin Seeds & Dried Apricot, Strawberry Yoghurt, Raspberries. 2015

This is her very scrummy, healthy banana nut granola.

I love this recipe for the fact it takes literally two minutes of effort and has five ingredients. You can do this one in your sleep!

So I swayed off course a bit and used porridge oats instead of rolled oats and peanut butter instead of almond butter… oopsie – but it still tastes just as good. Another bonus with this recipe, you can be thrifty with your ingredients.

Here’s Georgia’s recipe or you can check out her original post, over on Golden Oats, HERE.

Healthy Banana Nut Granola
Ingredients
  • 2 cups/200g rolled oats
  • 1 Very Ripe Banana, Mashed
  • 2 tbsp Almond Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Honey/Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
Method

First, preheat your oven to 160 degrees (fan) or equivalent.

Then, place all of your ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together until the oats have combined into little clusters. I use my hands for this bit – so much quicker.

Now, scatter onto a non-stick baking tray, which has been greased with a small amount of olive oil. I drizzled a bit on and used some kitchen roll to spread the oil around and soak up the excess.

Georgia’s Handy Tip No.1: “I tend not to line my tray because the heat from the metal tray helps the granola to become crispy more quickly.”

Cook your granola mix on the top shelf of your oven for 30-40 minutes. Make sure to turn the granola with a spoon every 5 minutes to ensure all the clusters turn a beautiful golden colour and get nice and crispy.

Georgia’s Handy Tip No.2: I like to turn the mixture around the tray to make sure that the middle goes to the outside and the granola cooks evenly.

Once your granola is cooked, leave to cool until it reaches room temperature. Now it’s the fun bit… choose your container of choice and add your extras.

Extras
  • Sultanas, raisins or your favourite dried fruits
  • Toasted almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Or any other nuts

You can either eat as is or serve with fresh or dried fruit, milk (normal, soya or nut) or your choice of yogurt.

Enjoy & check out Golden Oats for more breakfast inspiration!

My Indulgent Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies

If you’re looking for the ultimate pudding indulgence, you may have to look no further….

Personally, I’m a big brownie fan and spent most of my second year of uni feeding my housemates varying recipes until I perfected my basic brownie mix.

Now I have the basics under my wing, I branched out and went for a more grown-up brownie show stopper. I love this brownie as it’s very rich, but the sharpness of the raspberries cut through the chocolate leaving a lovely balance of flavours.

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies. 2015

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies. 2015

Presentation is everything with food. You can serve the best tasting food ever, but if it resembles just being thrown at the plate you got out of the back of the cupboard, well firstly you’re going to have trouble finding an Instagram filter that will help you out and secondly when you serve it up, no one is really going to want to eat your creation.

For a brownie, I recommend keeping it simple. I served this creation on the baking parchment it was cooked in (it had that nice browned edge look going on) and a large wooden chopping board to offset the chocolate colour of the brownies and really make the raspberry hue pop.

Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies
Your tools
  • Silicone spatula or wooden spoon
  • Baking parchment
  • Baking tray/tin (I use a 20×30 medium edge tray)
  • Saucepan
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Sieve
  • Scales
The Ingredients
  • 200g Dark chocolate
  • 100g Milk chocolate
  • 250g Salted butter
  • 400g Light brown sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 140g Plain flour
  • 50g Cocoa powder
  • 200g Raspberries
My Method

To I measure out the ingredients to create a simple, clean and quick working environment. Baking should be fun, not stressful – so cut yourself some slack by starting out organised!

Now grab your saucepan and add the butter and sugar. Next break up the chocolate into the pan and place on a medium to low heat and melt your ingredients slowely – stirring as you go.

Once melted, remove from the heat.

**On my first attempt I didn’t quite manage a smooth melting mixture (confession: I forgot to stir as it melted). I ended up with a split mixture, but if this happens to you don’t worry… just switch up the next two steps by putting the flour in first to bring the mixture together. Sorry – but this will take time and a good mixing arm.

If you have a nice smooth chocolatey sauce, it’s now time to mix in the eggs, one at a time. If you’re like me and are a bit of a weakling, wait for the pan to cool a bit and mix straight into the pan rather than a mixing bowl. Just make sure it’s cool enough as your don’t want your eggs to cook!

Now to grab your trusty sieve and carefully stir in the flour and cocoa powder. You should now have a lovely brownie mixture and so it’s time to add your raspberries. I only added roughly half at this point, pushing the rest into the mixture once in the baking tray (this just makes the brownies look pretty when cooked!)

Spoon or pour your mixture into your tin, lined with baking parchment and then either place your raspberries randomly and push into the mixture or create a pattern to wow with.

Now it’s time for the brownies to go into a pre-heated oven, set to gas mark 4 – leave for half an hour. The brownies should still be gooey in the middle if you take them out then… do your best to wait for them to cool and then cut into squares and devour.

Enjoy!

The Cook’s Kitchen Candle

Kitchen Candle. 2015

Kitchen Candle. 2015

This is one of those stumble upon purchases that you end up completely loving and going back for more…

To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have bought my first, or even second for that matter, Laura Ashely’s Cook’s Kitchen Candle were they not in the sale. That’s not to say they’re not worth the RRP, it’s just I’ve become such a candle enthusiast that I had to give myself a price limit… anything over that and I must stick it on the Christmas list!

It may not seem much, but £10 for a candle is unfortunately just above my self imposed limit, so to see this range in the sale for £6.30 I was a pretty happy bunny. My first purchase was the Olive & Italian Lemon Candle, which gives a subtle but fresh sent to the air. I chose the citrus scented candle thanks to the lemon element, I am a massive verbena fan – unless it starts smelling like toilet cleaner, then I’m out. However, this was not the case so I then went back and purchased the Mandarin & Ginger Candle. I use a lot of ginger and lime in my kitchen, so this candle complements the smells I fill the house with. Again, it’s a really subtle scent, yet still refreshing.

Kitchen Candle. 2015

Kitchen Candle. 2015

This candle also comes in a handy little pot – the famous ‘Kilner’ inspired, if you will. I love a candle with a lid, as much like perfume I tend to flit from scent to scent. It really bugs me when dust settles on the candle and the flame then freaks out when you come to light it again as it burns off all the dust – too much candle drama for me…

There are two other scents in this Cook’s Kitchen Candle range: Sea Salt and English Apple & Mint. These are no most definitely on the 21st wish list!

Have you tried cook’s candles? Let me know what you think and your favourite kitchen scents below…

Wake up sleepy head – it’s time for breakfast

We can stay up all night, swapping manly stories… and in the morning, I’m making waffles!

// Donkey from Shrek
American Pancakes // 2014

American Pancakes // 2014

Shockingly I have only recently discovered these awesome breakfast treats myself. And no – that’s not due to my love of the lie-in, I’ve just never been that experimental with my breakfast. I do have my boyfriend, Alex, to thank for this introduction (I assume I may get in a little bit of trouble if I don’t acknowledge his influence on this matter!) So, with this in mind I have posted the recipe for the first American pancakes I tried below:

YOUR BASIC AMERICAN PANCAKES

Recipe (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 3 large/medium eggs (free range)
  • 115g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (heaped)
  • 140ml milk (I use semi-skimmed)
  • A pinch of salt

Method:

This recipe actually works really well if there are two of you in the kitchen. You can get the pancakes and toppings all sorted and plated up so you sit down at the same time, both feeling like you’ve contributed! One of you takes the pancake prep, the other the toppings prep. But don’t worry if it’s just you – this won’t be too much work! And if there are more of you, you can take shift work on this – or maybe one day, if you’re lucky, reach the coveted ‘breakfast in bed’.

First of all you might want to start off by getting organised. Utensils wise, you will need: two large-medium bowls, a large non-stick pan, a ladle, an electric whisk, a mixing spoon, a set of scales, and a spatula. Plating-up wise you will need: four plates, four sets of knives and forks, various bowls and plates for your toppings. It is also a good idea to have a warm plate on a very low heat in the oven to keep your pancakes warm until you’ve finished cooking all of them – the same goes for keeping your crispy bacon warm, if you’re cooking a lot.

First of all separate your eggs. You want the whites in one bowl and the yolks in the other. Next add your flour, baking powder and milk to the bowl with the yolks and mix everything together. This should form a smooth, thick batter.

Now add the salt to the egg whites and whisk until they form soft peaks. (I use an electric whisk, otherwise you will be there all morning!) Then carefully fold the whites into the batter.

Next, heat your pan on a medium heat. Ladle a spoonful of batter into the pan (repeat one or two more times depending on the size of your pan). Leave for a minute or two, until the bottom starts to go firm and golden in colour. At that point, use your spatula to flip the pancake over and cook the other side until golden too.

Repeat until you run out of batter.

Finally, stack up your American pancakes on the warm plate to serve.

Now for the fun bit – the toppings!

I first tried these fluffy delights back in the summer of 2014. I had just returned from Provence, in the South of France, and Alex cooked me a welcome home breakfast. We had the classic bacon and maple syrup, then a summer berry mix (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries & blueberries) and finally – just to be extra decadent – some lovely honeycomb brought back as a present for Alex from my hol’s. Served with some orange juice, what could be better?!

American Pancakes // 2014

American Pancakes // 2014

I still maintain that the classic crispy bacon and sweet, sticky maple syrup is the best thing for your American pancakes. But I will concede that this may not be either practical nor healthy for the everyday and should maybe just be saved for those occasional lovely and lazy Sunday mornings!

A popular healthy alternative is to add blueberries. These little blue fruits can be served in or on your pancakes, and taste lovely with a dollop of plain yoghurt. You could also great the zest of a lemon or orange into the batter for some citrus zing.

Summer berries are another great go-to with American pancakes. They are fresh and healthy and especially if you’re serving with syrup, they can help to cut through the sweetness with a sour hit.

Another choice is a more savoury classic: bacon and egg. Scrambled is my go-to choice for this dish, but you can experiment and see what works for you.

A new one I am looking forward to trying is sliced banana, with a drizzle of honey. If you fancy indulging your sweet tooth, this topping also works well with chocolate chips thrown into the mix.

I have also heard of Nutella (sorry not a fan) or the very Wimbledon – strawberries and cream.

The beauty of this breakfast is its versatility, it can be a healthy daily go to or that decadent once a month thing. It’s completely up to you, mix and match your toppings and fillings and let me know what you’ve tried below…