Melanie's Food Adventures

17/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
6 Comments

Taste of Grampian 2015

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It’s hard to believe that I’m writing my first anniversary blog, so it seems fitting that the subject of this post should be the same as my first one, Taste of Grampian. This is my third visit to the event, which is now in it’s 16th year, and I have to say this was the best event yet. Lots more exhibitors, great celebrity chefs and fantastic demonstrations throughout the day.

My first stop, as it was last year, was Summerhouse Drinks. Based in Aberdeenshire, Summerhouse Drinks have created the most delicious lemonades, and more recently, the first Scottish Tonic Water, Walter Gregor. I snapped up some bottles, eager to try it out a soon as I got home!

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I was excited to meet up with Susan from Mess in the Ness, who I’d spent the previous Saturday with at Highland & Moray Food and Drink Festival. We headed to the craft tent before heading inside for the first demo of the day with Norman Calder. If you are a fan of The Great British Bake Off then the name will be very familiar to you as he was one of last year’s contestants and probably one of the best they’ve ever had on the show! Susan and I were lucky enough to have seen him the previous week in Inverness. He was just as entertaining and talked us through how to make a Fraisier Cake, a gorgeous French cake with fresh strawberries and crème pâtissière as well as an orange cake flavoured with Cointreau. Norman also brought a massive box of homemade shortbread which went round the entire audience…. we can safely say it was delicious!

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After a quick look round some of the other stands inside, we headed back to our next demo, this time it was last year’s Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle. She was incredibly warm and very comfortable in front of the audience. Like Norman, she told us a few wee stories about the process of applying for Bake Off and how her life has changed since winning as well as lots of baking tips, including one where she recommended adding one egg at a time when making a cake batter and using an electric hand mixer directly over the top of the egg and keeping it in that position until the egg has been completely incorporated before adding the next one. This way, according to Nancy, does away with adding a spoonful of flour with the egg to prevent curdling. During the demo, Nancy made some Flapjacks with Corrello Cherries and Coconut followed by a Pistachio and Chocolate Ring Cake, both of which looked utterly delicious. She even stayed on after to sign autographs and pose for pictures with the large crowd that had gathered!

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I then had a good wander round the stalls and picked up some lovely goodies. I was particularly impressed with Dip Nation, especially the recipe cards that they had produced to accompany each of their dips. I selected three dips and have already used the Roasted Red Pepper Chunky Dip along with the recipe for Asparagus Tart and it was delicious!

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Onwards to Jo Jo’s Jam where I discovered three new chocolate jams to the range! Not one to miss the chance of trying out a new jam, I decided to go for some Blueberry and Dark Chocolate Jam after sampling all three…… both Susan and I were in unanimous agreement that this was our favourite! Fruity and chocolatey, what’s not to love in a jam like that?

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Time for something refreshing before the next demo, so I headed for Portsoy Ice Cream, who were selling the most tempting flavours including Raspberry and Loganberry Sorbet and Chocolate Orange Ice Cream. I plumped for a scoop of Bramble and Elderflower Sorbet and one of Gin and Tonic Sorbet (you HAVE to try it!!!).

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Off back to the arena to join Susan to watch Lady Claire MacDonald, award winning cook and writer, and owner of Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye. They don’t come much more professional than Lady Claire, preparing no less than three dishes using pork, lamb and beef in her half hour slot! She is incredibly passionate about Scottish produce and was a joy to watch.

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The last demo of the day was the hotly anticipated cooking duel between Brian McLeish, finalist of last year’s Masterchef : The Professionals and head chef at Aberdeen’s Moonfish Café and Jean-Christophe Novelli. Poor JC was given a real mixed bag of ingredients and needless to say local lad Brian won the public vote!

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On the way out I picked another couple of goodies. Murdoch Allan Bakers had the most superb selection of cakes and I had to buy one each for Mr Food Adventurer and I.

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Finally, after sampling their new range of chocolate bars, I headed home with some Mackies of Scotland Mint Chocolate as well as some of Berry Scrumpticious Raspberry & Dark Belgian Chocolate Fudge.

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So, that’s it for another year! I just want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my blog over the year and kind enough to leave a comment or two (thanks mum!). Let’s see where the next 12 months will take me!!

Melanie, Food Adventurer

 

09/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
1 Comment

Social and Cocktail Night

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I was recently contacted by Social and Cocktail, a Scottish company who offer tailored cocktail packages in the comfort of your own home. How could I resist the offer of reviewing such an exciting idea? I got some friends together the other weekend and had a fantastic evening!

The great thing about having Social and Cocktail involved in your night is that they provide EVERYTHING for a great cocktail evening… all the ingredients, the glassware, a bartender and a mobile bar, I mean how cool is that??

Cameron was our bartender for the evening, and this was his first event for the company. I was amazed that the mobile bar came in such a box but it opened up into an all singing, all dancing bar complete with everything he needed for the evening ahead. Cameron did a grand job of making all our cocktails and explaining a bit about the history of each of them. Each of the five cocktails were fabulous, those being: Cosmopolitan, Woo Woo, Mojito, Appletini and a Strawberry Daiquiri, and I would be hard pushed to choose just one, but the Appletini was rather special! Even the non-drinkers amongst us weren’t left out as Cameron made some “mocktails” which had just as much care put into them.

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I have to say that the best part of the evening came when Cameron invited a couple of my friends up for a cocktail masterclass. Click HERE for a video of that!!

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Everyone who attended the night commented on how much they had enjoyed themselves and we were all in agreement that it made a perfect night in our own village rather a 50 mile round trip into Aberdeen, involving expensive taxis. We are planning our next Social and Cocktail event already as we had so much fun!

Thank you to everyone who came along, to Cameron for putting up with us all and to Damien for contacting me in the first place!

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Social and Cocktail are available for wedding receptions, hen parties, housewarmings, birthdays or just because you fancy a night in with some friends! You can contact them here

I was asked to review Social and Cocktail in exchange for a free of charge event. All opinions expressed in this post are my own (while sober!)

Melanie, Food Adventurer

05/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
4 Comments

Homemade Alfajores

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I have a bad habit of picking up foodie items I look the like of, despite not really knowing what I’m going to use them for, just because I know I *need* to buy them! Hey Boo Coconut Caramel Sauce was one of those purchases, how could I resist a coconut caramel sauce, I ask you?? While flicking through a recent copy of Olive Magazine I spotted a recipe for Alfajores, crumbly soft South American biscuits with Dulce de Leche sandwiched between them and then rolled in dessicated coconut…. yep, I was sold immediately and got started on them straight away! It was then that I remembered about said jar of Hey Boo in the cupboard and decided it would make a smashing alternative! They literally MELT IN THE MOUTH and this is *possibly* why I consumed so many as they were sooooo easy to devour! You’ll love the combination of the coconut caramel and dessicated coconut and it’s lovely to find something just that little bit different to bake and serve up with a cuppa. Right, enough wittering on, let’s get cracking.


INGREDIENTS (makes 12)

200g Cornflour

120g Plain Flour

200g softened Unsalted Butter

Pinch of Salt

60g Golden Caster Sugar

1 1/2tsp Baking Powder

300g Hey Boo Coconut Caramel or Dulce de Leche

Dessicated Coconut (for sprinkling)


 METHOD
1. In a bowl, sift 200g Cornflour & 120g Plain Flour.

2. Place 200g softened Unsalted Butter in a food mixer and beat until light and fluffy (alternatively you could do this using an electric hand whisk or with a wooden spoon by a hand). Once beaten add a pinch of Salt and 60g Golden Caster Sugar and beat again until blended.

3. Remove the mixing bowl from the machine (if using a food mixer) and gently mix the flours and 1 1/2tsp of Baking Powder into the sugar and butter mixture. You want to stop mixing as soon as it becomes smooth, don’t overwork it. At this point you may need to add 1tsp of cold water to bring the mixture completely together, I definitely had to as it was still slightly crumbly. As soon as it’s combined wrap the dough in some cling film for a minimum of 45 minutes (an hour is probably better of you have the time as it makes rolling out an awful lot easier!)

4. Once the dough has rested in the fridge, roll out carefully to roughly 1/2cm on a surface. Using a straight 6cm cutter, cut out rounds and place on a sheet of parchment paper or silicone mat ( I bought a fab one recently from Amazon)

5. Keep re-rolling the dough until it’s all used up and then place the tray into the fridge for an hour.

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6. 10 minutes before taking the tray out of the fridge preheat your oven to 180°C / 160° Fan / 350°F / Gas 4. Bake the biscuits for 8 minutes. Don’t worry that they’ve not taken on colour, they’re not meant to. Remove the tray from the oven & leave the biscuits to cool completely on the tray. Please don’t even try to remove them onto a cooling tray as they are super fragile.

7. Once completely cool fill a piping bag with a medium sized nozzle and fill with the Coconut Caramel or Dulce de Leche. Pipe a generous amount onto one of the biscuits and then VERY carefully place another on top to form a sandwich. Don’t try to press the top biscuit too hard as it will crack (learn from my early mistakes dear reader!)

8. Once you’ve sandwiched them all together roll each your finished Alfajores in the Dessicated Coconut so that the filling will stick to it.

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9. They’ll keep in an airtight box in the fridge for a day (2 at a stretch… If they last that long!)


Hints and tips

– Don’t be tempted to spread the sauce onto the biscuit with a knife they are just too crumbly and piping is definitely the way to go.

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04/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
0 comments

Fudgy Walnut Cake

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Oh man, is this a cake!! Deliciously light and full of walnuts and fudge which would be perfect for an alternative birthday cake or for afternoon tea….. or having with a cuppa late at night just because you can 😉

As my baking confidence has grown (I’ve only been doing it for a year now) I wanted to bake a cake for my uncle’s birthday and I spotted this the other weekend while watching The Hairy Bikers. I genuinely drooled at they ran through the recipe and I knew this was going to be a winner. I also knew that I had to include my favourite fudge makers Ochil Fudge into my cake. I first came across Ochil Fudge at my first BBC Good Food Show 2 years ago and it’s safe to say that I’m fairly hooked on the stuff! They have the most amazing selection of flavours, including Cherry Bakewell, Maple Syrup, Sticky Toffee Pudding and my absolute favourite….. Nutella *sighs*

It’s a fairly simple cake to put together and is rather a handsome chap without too much effort! I hope you enjoy.


INGREDIENTS (Serves 12)

For the cake

75g Walnuts

225g Unsalted Butter (softened, plus extra for greasing)

225g Light Brown Muscovado Sugar

4 large Eggs

225g Self Raising Flour

1tsp Baking Powder

For the icing

150g softened Unsalted Butter

150g Icing Sugar (sifted)

250g/9oz Fudge (roughly chopped) (I’ve used Ochil Fudge’s Salted Caramel which is fantastic in this particular cake)

25g whole Walnuts


METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C Fan/190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Butter two 20cm/8in loose-based sandwich tins and line the bases with discs of baking paper/parchment and lightly butter these too.
  2. Put the walnuts in a food processor and blend on the pulse setting until chopped into very small pieces, don’t go as far as making them completely fine as a few larger pieces will add texture to the sponge. Tip the blitzed nuts into a bowl and keep to the side.
  3. Place 225g softened Unsalted Butter, 225g Muscovado Sugar, 4 Eggs, 225g Self Raising Flour and 1tsp Baking Powder into the food processor and blend on the pulse setting until well combined. Remove the lid once or twice and push the mixture down with a spatula so that everything is included.
  4. Add the chopped walnuts back into the mixture and gently stir them with a metal spoon until just combined. Now spoon the mixture evenly into your two tins and smooth the surface with a knife. Bake on the same shelf in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes, or until well-risen and just beginning to shrink back from the sides of the tin. You can see what I mean below.

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5. Remove the tins from the oven and leave to cool for five minutes before running a knife around the edge of each cake and turning out onto a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment and then leave to cool completely.

6. To make the icing, place 150g softened Unsalted Butter into your food processor, and add 150g sifted Icing Sugar and 150g of the chopped Fudge. Blend in the processor until the icing is smooth and creamy, adding 2-3 teaspoons of milk if necessary, so that the icing is light and spreadable. Don’t worry if some of the fudge remains chunky.

7. Finally, place one of the sponges onto a plate or cake stand and spread with half of your fudgy icing before placing the second sponge on top and spread the remaining icing to finish. Decorate with the whole Walnuts and chopped Fudge then stand back to marvel your baking creation!

 

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Melanie, Food Adventurer

 

04/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
0 comments

Friands for Friends

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Oh my…. I think I’ve just found my most favourite thing to bake! Perfectly sized, moist and full of flavour, these little cakes will make their way onto your “favourites” list almost as soon as you’ve made your first batch! I first came across them at the beginning of the year when my lovely foodie friend and fellow blogger Jo Blogs Jo Bakes posted a recipe for some Blueberry Friands. I fell in love instantly with them and over the next couple of months I’ve spotted them being made by other friends, all using Jo’s recipe as a base. Why tinker with something that is clearly perfect just as it is? So, here it is, my Raspberry Friands…. enjoy.


 INGREDIENTS (makes 12)

250ml Egg Whites

250g Icing Sugar (I used Sugar and Crumbs Raspberry Ripple Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar, but any flavour to compliment the fruit or just plain is fine)

125g Ground Almonds

100g Plain Flour

1/2tsp Lemon Extract (or zest from 1/2 lemon) (I used Taylor and Colledge Lemon Extract Paste which is excellent)

160g Unsalted Butter (melted, plus extra for greasing your tin)

200g Raspberries (fresh or frozen – if you’re using frozen there’s no need to defrost them)


 METHOD

  1. Grease your friand tin with a little softened unsalted butter and preheat your oven to 200C / 180 fan / 400F / Gas 6
  2. Place 250g Icing Sugar, 100g Plain Flour, 125g Ground Almonds and 1/2tsp Lemon Extract into a large bowl and mix well to ensure combined.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk your Egg Whites until frothy (there’s no need to use an electric whisk for this, using a balloon whisk is enough as all you’re looking for is for the whites to be lovely and frothy)
  4. Using a large metal spoon, fold your frothy egg whites into the dry ingredients until fully combined. Now add 160g melted Unsalted Butter and fold again until just combined before finally adding 3/4 of your Raspberries.
  5. Using your metal spoon again, scoop equal portions of mixture into each hole of your tin adding your remaining Raspberries on top before placing into the oven for 25-30 minutes until they have risen to a golden colour and a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the friend.
  6. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before carefully removing them to cool on a rack.

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Hints and tips

– You can buy cartons of pasteurised egg whites which comes in very handy when making these friands! If you cannot find a carton then you’ll need to get cracking with 6-8 large egg whites (hold onto the yolks as you could make custard or mayonnaise with them).

– If you don’t have a friand tin then you could use a muffin tin instead. I bought mine from here

– Be very careful removing the friands from your tin. Take your time easing them out using a palette knife, gently sliding the knife down the side of each friend and lifting out

– Can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days

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Melanie, Food Adventurer

 

04/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
0 comments

Crème Egg Brownies

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Happy Easter!! I made these last year for family and they absolutely adored them so I’m making them again this year (and probably for many years to come!). There’s not much to love with these to be honest, a chocolatey brownie with a Crème Egg inside…. heavenly!!

Creme Egg Brownies (makes 16)


INGREDIENTS

6 Standard size Cadbury Creme Eggs (frozen for at least 4 hours)

250g Dark Chocolate

300g Unsalted Butter

350g Caster Sugar

4 Large Eggs

1tsp Vanilla Extract

180g Plain Flour

1tsp Baking Powder


METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 190° C / 170° Fan / 375° F / Gas 5 and line a 9 x 9 tin with baking paper & lightly grease before placing your 6 Crème Eggs into your tin, evenly spaced.
  2. Melt 250g Dark Chocolate & 300g Unsalted Butter over a pan of simmering water (or blast in the microwave). Leave to one side once melted.
  3. Place 350g Caster Sugar and 4 Eggs and beat until creamy and pale. Now add 1tsp Vanilla Extract & mix until combined. Pour your chocolate mixture into your sugar & egg mixture and very gently fold in.
  4. Sieve 180g Plain Flour and 1tsp Baking Powder into your mixture and gently fold again until combined.
  5. Finally, pour your mixture over the eggs and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. You’re looking for the top to have a slight darkening of colour.
  6. Once done, remove from the oven & leave to cool completely in the tin before lifting out your baking paper & dividing up your brownies.

 

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Melanie, Food Adventurer

04/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
0 comments

Time for Teabag Biscuits Infused with Moroccan Mint

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I recently came across a rather fantastic cookie cutter seller on Etsy called Sweet Savanna Cookies. Alex is truly amazing and can custom-make cookie cutters as well as having a fantastic range of cutters ready to buy. Initially, I wasn’t sure about purchasing items all the way from Australia but I have to say I’ve been seriously impressed! Great quality cutters that travelled across half way across the world in 8 days! I have doubts over the UK’s 2nd Class Post system at the best of times so heaven knows how they arrived so quick, but arrive they did.

The first cutter I was excited to use was my teabag cutter! I have wanted to make some cute little chocolate dipped biscuits for a while, so when I saw this particular cutter, I knew I had to buy one. Instead of your run of the mill plain butter biscuits, I decided to mix it up a bit and use some glorious dried Moroccan Mint leaves from Miss IntegriTea. I met Cindy from Miss IntegriTea a couple of years ago at my first BBC Good Food Show in Glasgow and we’ve kept in touch ever since. I’m a huge fan of her teas and have tasted pretty much all of them! My favourite, by far is the one I’m using here as it’s incredibly refreshing and I thought it would go brilliantly with the dark chocolate I’d planned to use in the biscuits. They’re dinky little sized biscuits, which you could bake without any additional flavour or with something like lemon, orange or coffee, and are perfect to go with an afternoon cuppa. They’d also make a great present, adding a printable teabag label from Pinterest, you’ll find some on my “Printables” board.


INGREDIENTS (makes 24 small teabag biscuits)

2-3tbsp Moroccan Mint Tea Leaves

60g Caster Sugar

170g Plain Flour

110g Unsalted Butter (softened)

1/4tsp Baking Powder

100g Dark Chocolate (broken into small pieces)


METHOD

  1. Place 2-3tbsp Moroccan Mint Tea Leaves and 60g Caster Sugar in a blender and blitz until fine (if, like me, you still have small pieces of leaves remaining then grind the remains with a mortar and pestle until fine).
  2. Tip the minty sugar mix into the bowl of your food mixer with 170g Plain Flour, 110g softened Unsalted Butter and 1/4tsp Baking Powder and mix on a low speed until everything is combined.
  3. Once combined, pop your biscuit dough onto your work surface and wrap with clingfilm, pressing into a round, flattish shape, before placing into the fridge for around 20 minutes to firm up.
  4. Remove your dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface before using your cutter to cut out your teabag shapes and placing onto a lined baking tray. Using a metal or wooden skewer, make a small hole at the top of each biscuit. Now place the tray back into the fridge for 20 minutes (this allows the biscuits to keep their sharp shape and prevent the small holes closing back up.
  5. Preheat your oven to 180C / 170 fan / 350F / Gas 4 10 minutes before you plan to take your tray out of the fridge and then place in the oven for 10-14 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you’re looking for the edges to begin to darken. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely (if any of the holes have closed again then use your skewer while the biscuits are still warm to open them again).
  6. Once the biscuits are completely cool, place your broken-up Dark Chocolate pieces into a glass bowl and microwave until melted (check after 30 seconds and give the chocolate a good stir before heating again).
  7. Dip each biscuit into the melted chocolate, roughly 1/3 up and allow to dry (I propped mine against bowls, but you could also thread them through a metal skewer and let them dry that way. If you can find room in your fridge they’ll dry quicker in there).
  8. If you wish, thread some bakers twine through each biscuit before serving.

Hints and tips

– These can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days.

– If you wish to include another flavour then add this at the beginning, along with the other ingredients.

– The uncooked biscuit dough will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days and in the freezer for up to a month.

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Melanie, Food Adventurer

04/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
0 comments

Ox and Finch Review

I had to write a full blog post for my recent visit to Ox and Finch as I didn’t think a couple of pictures and a few words on Facebook could justify just how fantastic an experience it was. Opening a little under a year ago, Ox and Finch, in the Finnieston area of Glasgow, is fast becoming one of those go-to places to eat. The foodie world seems to have come in droves, particularly after the restaurant was awarded the Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand just a few months after opening it’s doors.

This was my second visit after dining with my lovely friend Heather last year when we met up for BBC Good Food Show Glasgow. It was the perfect end to a special weekend so I worried that retuning again would be different. You know that way when you’ve raved about a restaurant to someone, only to have eaten there again and suddenly you feel like you saw the whole thing through rose tinted glasses and the person now sitting opposite you is looking in that “Why have you taken me here??” way……

Fortunately, this was not the case and it was just as phenomenal as before. The atmosphere of a restaurant cannot be created or conjured up in an office of a PR company somewhere, it’s a beautiful combination of food, staff, other diners, and to a lesser degree for me anyway, the décor. Ox and Finch has a wonderful relaxed feel to it. There’s no chaos in the open kitchen, the staff are visible but not in your face, offering guidance to those unaware of the sharing plates menu on offer, all in all I love everything about the place.

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After being shown to our table, I was drawn to the Wines of the Month blackboard and couldn’t help but love the name of their Red “Smoking Loon”. Having lived in the North East of Scotland for most of my life, I was more than aware that “Loon” was the name given to a young man or child from that area, and so, despite never ordering a glass of red wine in my life, we decided to order the carafe….. it was wonderful!

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Ok, so you really want to know about the food, don’t you? Frankly, I don’t blame you. The menu offers Scottish and European in a small plates style and is split into Snacks; Raw, Cured and Cold; Seafood; Vegetables; Meat and Desserts….. Pretty good so far, right??

Mr Food Adventurer and I decided to plump for 3 dishes each and then see how we got on….. this turned out to be a wise move in the end! I went with Beetroot, Orange, Candied Pecans and Golden Cross Goats Cheese; Mushroom, Tarragon, Spinach and Tallegio Tart and Chips with Truffle Oil and Roasted Garlic Aioli…… Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Why the hell did she pick chips???” To which I would reply, “I dare you to order them and not turn into a drooling mess as you eat them”.  Everything was just as good as I had hoped. My heart genuinely sang as the dishes were brought over to our table and I tucked in.

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Mr Food Adventurer chose Sea Bream, Shredded Thai Salad, Chilli and Peanuts; Rabbit, Ham Hock, Foie Gras and Pistachio Terrine with Gingerbread & Pear and finally King Prawns, Harissa, Chickpeas, Parsley and Feta (your mouth watering yet??). All were given massive thumbs up across the table.

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Despite being fit to burst at this point, we couldn’t help but cast our eyes back over the desserts. My attitude was that I probably might not get back to dine here for some time so I wasn’t about to leave without having something sweet to round things off! An order of Lemon and Earl Grey Baked Alaska (yes, it was as good as it sounds) was put in and we shared almost all of it before admitting defeat!

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And so, with a full belly and a heavy heart, it was time to leave. I genuinely can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a meal out more. Yes, the company was rather fabulous but the food shone in every plate and I can’t wait to go back……

Luckily this shot doesn’t show me hanging from the door begging not to leave!

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All opinions expressed are my own….. Mr Food Adventurer paid the bill 🙂

Melanie, Food Adventurer

 

03/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
0 comments

Heavenly Homemade Bounty Bars

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Forget everything you know about Bounty Bars! I guarantee that you won’t want to buy a shop bought one ever again after making these bad boys! Super moist inside, these little bars of paradise will quickly become a firm favourite in your home. They’re dead simple to make, involve no baking and contain just FOUR ingredients! You ready??

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INGREDIENTS (makes 16 small bars)

100ml Condensed Milk

75g Desiccated Coconut

200g Icing Sugar (sifted)

200g Dark Chocolate (you can choose milk if you’d prefer but I think it would make it a little too sweet… that might be your thing though 🙂 )


METHOD

  1. Measure out 75g Desiccated Coconut and place into a large bowl with 100ml Condensed Milk and mix well together before adding in 200g Icing Sugar and mixing again until it all comes together and is well combined. The mixture will be thick and a little sticky, but not so much that you can’t handle it.

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2. Form the mixture into a ball and place onto your worktop. Split into 16 pieces, rolling each into a ball and then into a squat sausage shape before placing onto a baking sheet. Once you’ve rolled them all, place the sheet into the fridge for an hour to firm up.

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3. Once your hour is up lay out a piece of greaseproof paper onto your worktop (you’ll be placing your chocolate covered bars onto this in a minute) and place a baking sheet underneath.

4. Break up your 200g Dark Chocolate into small pieces and place into a microwaveable bowl and place into the microwave to melt. You should check the chocolate every 30 seconds for the first minute, taking the bowl out each time to give it a good stir.

5. Once your chocolate is melted, dip each of your little naked coconut bars into the bowl, ensuring that they’re completely covered in chocolate before removing and placing onto the greaseproof paper. Once you’ve done them all, place back in the fridge for another hour to harden.

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Hints and tips

– Bars can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

– For an extra Tropical hit, add some finely chopped glace cherries into the mixture at the very beginning.

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Melanie, Food Adventurer

03/06/2015
by Melanie McEwan
2 Comments

Hedgehogs and Tigers and Piggies….. Oh My!!!!

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Can you possibly think of a cuter way to eat bread rolls? These adorable bread animals are simple to make and a perfect accompaniment to soup at lunchtime or for a little one’s sandwich. I have to say I had great fun making these with Wee Food Adventurer and his friend when they had a playdate this morning. You can’t help but smile as you snip the dough to make the hedgehog’s spikes or adding ears to the tiger! Safe to say the rolls when down a storm with both boys, and us mums! Let your creative juices flow and create as many different animals as you can think of!


INGREDIENTS (from a recipe by Jo Wheatley) Makes 10 rolls

300g Strong White Bread Flour

1/2tsp Salt

1tsp Caster Sugar

1tsp Fast Action Yeast

100ml warm Water

50ml warm Whole Milk

10g Unsalted Butter (softened)

Currants (20 if you’re decorating all of your rolls as hedgehogs)

1 large Egg (beaten)

Black Food Paste (if you wish to make some tigers or bears)


METHOD

  1. Place 300g Bread Flour into a bowl (if you’re using a food mixer, just use the bowl that comes with it). Pour your 1/2tsp of Salt in one side of the bowl and 1tsp Yeast on the other side and rub both into the flour separately (salt kills off the yeast which is why you need to keep them separate!). Now pop your 1tsp of Caster Sugar into the bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Mix your 100ml warm Water and 50ml warm Whole Milk in a jug then add the softened Unsalted Butter and mix until it starts to melt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and then slowly pour in the warm liquid and mix well to combine.
  3. If you’re using a food mixer then insert your dough hook and allow it to knead for 7 minutes, if you’re doing this by hand it will be around 10-12 minutes until you reach a point when the dough is soft and smooth.
  4. Put your dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm before leaving to prove for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. You’re looking for the dough to double in size.
  5. Lift out your dough onto a work surface (no need to add extra flour) and knead for 1 minute (this is called “knocking back the dough”) before dividing equally into 10 balls. You can now shape them however you like depending on the animal you have planned! I’ve described each in Hints and Tips at the bottom of the recipe.
  6. Divide the 10 rolls between 2 baking trays and then cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to prove for another hour.
  7. Around 10 minutes before the end of proving, preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°Fan / 400°F / Gas 6
  8. Once the rolls have finished proving, push a couple of currants into the dough for eyes if making the hedgehogs and then brush them all with egg wash before using a pair of scissors to snip little spikes onto each roll (if making hedgehogs).
  9. Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden and have a hollow sound when tapped. Once done, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack until ready to eat!

 


Hints and Tips

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To make the Pig – pinch a small amount of dough off the ball and form 2 little ears and a nose. Dip your finger into the egg wash and then stick them onto the main ball of dough using the egg wash as a glue. Once the dough has had it’s 2nd prove, and after they’ve been brushed all over with the egg, place 2 cocktail sticks into the nose to make the nostrils (this allows the holes to stay open while they bake).

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To make the Hedgehog – form the dough into a pinecone shape before proving for the 2nd time. Make sure you leave the snipping of the spikes until just before you place them into the oven to keep the spikes as sharp as possible.

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To make the Tiger – pinch a small amount of dough off the ball and form 2 little ears, again using the egg wash as glue to stick them on. Once baked and cooled, squeez a little black food colouring paste into a bowl and use the end of wooden skewer to create the eyes and the stripes (a small firm paintbrush will work equally well).

 

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Melanie, Food Adventurer

 

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