Friday, 18 April 2014

Tea 4 2 - Manchester


I have been meaning to publish a short post on a new restuarant / cafe/ bar in Manchester that I initially spotted whilst on a conference for business in the city.

Whats so special about a cafe in Manchester I hear you all cry, well this one has an extensive gluten free menu ( there is loads of choice) !

The venue is easy to find just off the main drag from the Arndale to Piccadilly and is decorated in a oh so funky white and pink (chaps don't be put off its just funky and cool not girly), the cakes in the window tempt you inside.

I was in a bit of a rush so plumped for a sandwich but the menu is amazing and even features afternoon teas (gluten free) and the cakes well they looked amazing. My sandwich was great and featured some of the best gluten free bread I have tasted, according to the waitress they have its specially made in Cornwall / Devon and shipped up to them.

The table next to me was also enjoying the food also and couldn't believe it was all gluten free, price wise  it was competitive too. Their menu caters to all tastes and can be viewed on their website, they also stock an extensive range of gluten free beers as well.

Their website is here

    Embedded image permalink


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Blood orange, lemon and almond cake

On a recent visit to my local greengrocers I was pleased to see that blood oranges were in season, juicy sweet and full of orangey flavour they make a great addition to the fruit bowl. Combined with a classic lemon this is a gorgeous zesty bake, the blood orange adds a beautiful orange hue to the cake, this recipe is based on Nigella Lawson's clementine cake which in turn is based on Claudia Roden's orange and almond cake, I am pretty sure Fiona Cairns has a version too.

This recipe is reliable and naturally gluten free, its a plain Jane of cake that packs a glorious flavour punch, juicy, zesty and ever so slightly adult. I couldn't resist decorating it with the little viola's coming into flower in the garden, those little cute faces calling out to me.

The cake require no real skill and I now have a short cut route of cooking the orange and lemon, rather than boiling in water for a couple of hours,you can avoid the steamy kitchen by microwaving in a covered bowl for about 8 -10 minutes until soft. Easy !

Its great to be able to use the lovely unsung blood orange in a recipe and a great celebration of spring. You can substitute any citrus fruit, lemons, clementines, all work fine, just keep the quantity roughly the same.

What you need

  • 1 orange and 1 lemon, ideally organic and unwaxed (if you can't get blood orange ordinary works fine)
  • 6 eggs - large free range 
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • Springform cake tin - approx 8" diameter, oil sprayed
  • Icing sugar to dust
  • Violas
What you do
  • Firstly you need to cook the orange and lemon, you can either boil in water for approx 2 hours until soft, or alternatively microwave for about 8-10 minutes
  • Allow the soft whole fruit to cool and cut open to remove any pips.
  • Preheat the oven to 170c fan / gas mark 5
  • Now pulp in the food processor until a fine puree
  • Now add the other ingredients, pulse again until you have a smoothish mixture
  • Pour into your prepared tin and smooth the top
  • Bake for approx 50 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean and the cake is a gorgeous golden colour, cover with foil if it appears to be darkening too quickly
  • Allow to cool full in the tin
  • Dust with icing sugar and serve

Serve on a platter or cake stand strewn with viola's, spring has sprung !

I am entering this post in for the blog challenge Simple and in Season created by Renbehan and hosted this month by Utterly Scrummy Food 

                                               Simple and in Season NOW OPEN

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Coast at the Glendower Hotel, Lytham St Annes.

The Glendower Hotel is a family run hotel in the genteel seaside town of Lytham St Annes, recently refurbished, MR LF and myself were lucky enough to invited to the press launch lunch in their newly opened restaurant "COAST".

With the emphasis on seafood, COAST is set to become the dining destination for locals and visitors alike once word gets out of the quality dining experience now available. Supplied by local fishmongers - Lannigans and the farmers of the Fylde's rich agricultural lands, the menu is a great showcase of local produce, cooked with love, care and attention.

Craig Brown has recently been appointed of the Head chef at COAST, formerly of the gastro pub chain Green Crab, Fylde Rugby club and the Villa Country House Hotel. The talented kitchen team want to provide a classic twist across the spectrum of British Food, with a strong emphasis on local ingredients.

Craig's ethos, is that fresh produce is absolutely essential to exemplary food. Right here in St Annes, COAST is in an exceptional location for sourcing the very best ingredients from both land and sea.

Our delightful amuse buche, a great start to a lovely meal, accompanied by some great artisan style breads and olives.

After making our choices from the wide ranging menu, Mr LF chose the ham hock terrine with homemade piccalilli and granary bread, a perfectly balanced dish with enough poke in the pickle to offset the rich porky terrine.

My choice was the asparagus with crispy egg, as I was intrigued by the pink grapefruit and citrus hollandaise. A delicious combination  and the citrus flavours worked beautifully alongside the asparagus and egg.

On to our mains, Mr LF chose the hotpot, which was a deconstructed version and apparently tasty enough to give Lancashire's Michelin starred chef a run for his money. The dish was also a generous man sized portion.

Given that COAST's emphasis is seafood I chose the plaice dish which included the ultra local ingredient "Lytham shrimp". A delicious balance of flavours and textures which had been prepared with great attention so that the fish was perfectly cooked and the samphire crunchy, just like I like it !

For dessert we both selected the chocolate mousse, which was also the most popular dessert dish with the rest of the table too. A decadent combination of chocolate and cherries which rounded of the meal beautifully.

The service was attentive and friendly and we loved the driftwood feel to the decor, providing a modern contemporary ambiance to the restaurant. 

The Glendower Hotel is part of the Best Western Group and is situated on North Promenade, Lytham St Annes. Over looking the iconic Sand dunes, the 60 room hotel is ideally situated for short break, weddings, corporate events and has stunning coastal views.

Lunch was provided on a complementary basis however I was not required to write a review (positive or otherwise), all comments, views and opinions are my own.

Monday, 31 March 2014

April 2014 - Chris Brown of Browns Butchers, Chorley

Chris Brown of Browns Butchers, Chorley.

Our featured foodie this month is Chris Brown, a fourth generation family master butcher from Chorley, home to the famous prizewinning Lancashire Haggis. Brown's is a traditional family butchers that stocks a wide range of local quality meat.

They make their own sausages (including gluten free), haggis and black pudding and stock those hard to find cuts such as beef skirt, tripe and cow heel. They are everything a butcher's should be and more besides. Just so you all know haggis is a Lancashire delicacy not Scottish (see below) and Browns is a very fine example, when I have served to friends a fight normally breaks out for the last portion.

The family butchers has been established since 1932 in the town and has loyally supplied generations of Chorley familes with all their meat needs. Their award winning (most recently BPEX) produce is avaliable online and in the shop in Chorley town centre, they also are on facebook too as Lancashire Haggis.

So on with the questions
  • What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ? 

  • ‘Liber Cure Cocorum’ is a cookery book in verse dating from around the year 1430 in the North West of the County of Lancashire in North-West England. I particularly like this as ‘Haggis’ is mentioned and as far as I’m aware this is the earliest record of haggis, which leaves a question as to where it originated from? The recipe follows if anyone fancies giving it a try!


Recipe Ingredients:

1 lamb’s paunch (stomach)
1 lamb’s heart
600g lamb kidneys
300g lamb (or beef) suet, shredded small
6 eggs, beaten
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp dried hysopp (buy from herbal or online stockists)
1/2 tsp dried savory (buy from herbal or online sto

  • What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Traditional home cooked foods nurtured to their peak of excellence!

  •  If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
This a difficult one to answer! I’m sure I would be working in or around the food industry. I find new ideas fun and love nothing more than coming up with new twists on old ideas. We have been very lucky in the respect that we have come across a few old recipes such as burgers, sausage and black pudding that had been produced by my grandfather many years ago. So with a little input we create many new ideas and flavours infusing old with new.

  • Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
Unfortunately I cannot manage without the range of equipment I have as most of it was bought for a particular job or jobs. But I guess the humble pen would be the absolute as my memory sometimes these days lets me down.

  • Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
Robert Burns would be a must. To ask his views on our ‘Haggis’ and other products. I think another interesting guest would be Gorden Ramsey to ask his opinions and he may throw a few tasteful ideas around. Obviously if conversation tires a little at least we have a Scottish connection.

  • What advice would you give to your younger self ?
I originally thought that I should have listened to my fathers advice a little more in depth! But as I’ve finished up with the running of the family business then maybe I listened a little to well!!

  • Describe your style in three words ?
Work orientated — Adventurous ! - Ambitious ! -  Approachable !

  • What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ? 
Sausage filler attachment, that allows production of Lorne sausage!

  • What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Taking the helm of the family business as the fourth generation owner. I feel very honoured to now have the reins and I hope I can look after my customers as they have always been looked after, I’m always striving to build on my business and offer top quality at affordable pricing. I’m currently running a loyalty scheme with a monthly free draw, plus I put a cut on every week at a reduced rate to give a little back as we all know times are difficult!

  • What is the worst mistake you have made ?
I cant single out any individual mistake. So really I can only say any that have been made are taken on the chin an used as a learning curb.

  • Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldn’t expect !
I have a very sweet tooth! But cant say Cadburys melted on a fillet steak was my best idea. But I did make a sausage which contained chocolate, the kids loved it ;-)

Smoked haddock, leek and pea fishermans pie

I love fish pie, nursery comfort food at its best. This week I decided to make a variation on the classic and it proved a popular dish, definately something I would make again. Pretty economical too as I was able to utilise mostly ingredients from the freezer or store cupboard, the tasty dish is gluten free and utilsed some of the stock powder I had kindly been sent by Essential Cuisine.

I really like Essential cuisines range of stocks as they are not over salted and very tasty, they are very like homemade stock, light in colour and allergy friendly. The smoked haddock I used in this recipe was from a frozen pack but I prefer if possible to use undyed smoked haddock if you can get it, any other white smoked would work too. The peas were frozen petit pois but you could easily use ordinary peas if that is all you have. I had the leeks and creme fraiche in the fridge and potatoes in the cupboard.

What you need
  • 2 smoked haddock fillets, skinned and de boned - cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 leeks, topped tailed and cleaned. Cut in to fine circles
  • Essential cuisine fish stock powder - make to about 150ml stock
  • Creme fraiche
  • Dill 
  • Cornflour
  • Frozen petit pois / peas - ramekin full
  • Salt and pepper
  • Potatoes ( 1 used 2 large poatatoes for 2 people)
  • Butter or vegetable oil
What you do
  • Gently heat a little butter or oil in a large frying pan, add the leeks and cook for a few minutes until they are starting to soften
  • Add the fish pieces and cook very gently until just coloured, now add the peas to the pan and the creme fraiche (I used about 2 tbsp), the fish stock and dill.
  • Simmer gently until you have a sauce of your desired thickness, if necessary thicken with slaked cornflour. (Slaked is when the cornflour is mixed into a paste with little water or milk or stock). Taste and season
  • Place the pie filling in your chosen dish and allow to cool
  • Meanwhile cook your potatoes for your mash, once ready then mash with a little butter and season to taste
  • Place the mashed potatoes on top of your pie
  • Pre heat the ove to 180c and bake for approx 25 minutes until golden on top and the sauce is bubbling
  • Serve immediately

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Banana and chocolate buckwheat cake, naturally gluten free.

I have a new love in my life ! Mr LF doesn't need to worry as its a flour. Yes a flour, buckwheat flour, naturally gluten free and with a beautiful light nutty wholesome flavour. It makes amazing cakes which are light and tasty. Unfortunately Mr LF isn't as keen as I am on the flavour of the wholesome little seed.

Closely related to sorrel and rhubarb this fast growing plant with white flowers is grown in China, Russia and across the world, but not much in the UK. Its seed is ground to produce flour which is used pancakes, cakes and breads and also in soba noodles and  buckwheat pasta. The achene is also make kasha, in the production of gluten free beer and whisky  and is eaten sprouted in some countries too.

Naturally gluten free is a great addition to the bakers store cupboard, its a finely ground flour which is light brown in appearance.

To make this cake is a pretty simple all in one method and the resultant cake is moist and flavourful, personally I like the buckwheat flavour, some may not. Its slightly earthy and nutty but definitely not unpleasant, reported to be rich in minerals and good for your cardiovascular system.

What you need
  • 180g of buckwheat flour (if you are ceoliac then ensure its been processed in GF environment)
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs - free range please
  • 160ml sunflower oil (or other oil with no flavour)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 3 small very ripe bananas - mashed (I freeze mine when going over ripe and they are perfect when defrosted)
  • Handful of chocolate chips (I used buttons, ideally chopped up)
What you do

  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Oil spray a 8" round loose bottom cake tin and base line
  • Mix together the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt, until well mixed.
  • Add the eggs, oil and vanilla to the bowl and mix until jut coming together, stir in the mashed bananas and chocolate chips. Like muffins don't overwork the mixture.
  • Tip into your prepared cake tin and smooth level
  • Bake for approximately 40 minutes until risen and tested cooked with a skewer, try not to over bake
  • Cool in the tin on a wire rack, then remove from tin and enjoy !
The cake stores well wrapped in foil in a cool dry place for a few days, you could probably freeze it but I haven't tried this yet.

As for Mr LF's aversion to this flour, I am not beaten yet and am planning more bakes which might persuade him otherwise yet.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Lekue - Cheesecake royale

For our most recent cake club meeting I thought I would make a cheesecake and as our theme was "A right royal do !", I decided on a marbled royale cheesecake and this was a great opportunity to utilise my Lekue ceramic / silicone baking mold, which seems especially suited to baking a cheesecake in. As I now baking gluten free I used a baked nut base as the crunchy cheesecake base instead of the usual biscuit mix. It worked pretty well but did suffer slightly from separating from the cheesecake top.

The Lekue mold performed very well and is a good addition to the keen bakers equipment cupboard, the mold was easy to use and the ceramic base made an attractive serving platter.

  • To make the base use 
  • 1 cup finely crushed almonds (I crushed flaked almonds by hand) 
  • 1 cup almond meal 
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar 
  • 5 tbsp butter softened 

Mix all ingredients together and press firmly in your tin or mold, bake in a preheated oven at 180c for about 15 minutes until golden, it will hardened on cooling.

For the cheesecake top
  • 400g cream cheese (full fat) 
  • 150g dark chocolate 
  • 1 pot of creme fraiche 
  • 85g caster sugar 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract 
  • Grated white chocolate to serve

What you need to do
  • Pre heat your oven to 160c 
  • Melt the chocolate, I used the microwave in 30 sec blasts or alternatively using a bain marie 
  • In a separate bowl mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, eggs and creme fraiche together until smooth. 
  • Split the mixture in half and add the cooled melted chocolate to one half. 
  • Now add alternative dollops of the two mixes to top the base , swirl together and level 
  • Bake in the oven until just set, for me this was about 50 minutes, cool in the oven with door slightly a jar so the top doesn't crack. 
  • Once cold, place in the fridge and serve with the grated white chocolate sprinkled on top.

Note :- The Lekue mold was kindly provided by Lekue for review and test purposes, all thoughts and opinions are my own as to the product.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

"A Right Royal Do ! " at The Royal Oak Riley Green - South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club

For the 23rd Meeting of South Lancashire we were kindly invited by the team at The Royal Oak at Riley Green to hold an event in their lovely country pub, hence our theme of "A right royal do !"

Our small intimate gathering was hosted in a cosy area of this pub famed for its quality beer and food, we were also lucky enough to even have cake baked for our meeting by the award winning Executive Chef - Chris Rawlinson.

                             The Royal Oak

Our lovely members enjoyed a fine selection of cakes all with a suitably Royal theme, all treats fit for the Queen.

Marbled Royale Cheesecake by yours truly

Queen of Sheba Cake by Katherine

Classic Queen Victoria Sponge by Carla

Queen Mother Cake by Jane

Chocolat au Royale made by Chef Chris
 We were warmly welcomed by all the staff and enjoyed chatting with staff and club members about all things cakey including  memorable bakes from previous meetings and ideas for forthcoming meetings. The Royal Oak is great for a drink with friends or for an enjoyable meal, the cake made by chef Chris was amazing !

Thanks to all the staff at the Royal Oak for being great hosts and also to our lovely members and their guests for great selection of cakes and cake stories.

We have previously reviewed the Royal Oak and its food when it first opened here


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Spiced apple chickpea cake

Recently I have been experimenting with cake recipes that are naturally gluten free or are made with alternative flours or no flour at all. I have previously dabbled with cakes made with chickpeas and beans previously including one that ended up being featured in The Clandestine Cake club cook book and they turned out well. The gluten free chocolate cake is of particular note , the link is here.

This recipe is based on the same basic recipe but I fancied including grated apples and spices to provide a fruity flavour in place of the chocolate plus I have bought a lot of apples recently as I am also planning on having a go at using apple sauce / puree as a butter alternative in baking so watch out for that post too.

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans (as our friends across the pond call them) are used as the flour substitute yet you still get some rise, the recipe is also lower fat as it has no added oils or butters. The cake is lovely and moist and is great served on its own or as a dessert if served with cream, custard or yogurt. You would never know it contains chickpeas at all, plus it smells amazing whilst baking all cosy and comforting.

What you need
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp lebucken spice (I used Steenbergs but you can come up with your own spice mix, may be incorporating cinnamon, cloves, ginger or what ever else takes your fancy)
  • A couple of cox apples - grated keep the skin on 
  • Lemon rind
What you do
  • Grease a square cake tin roughly 9" by 9"
  • Pre heat your oven to 180C
  • Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor until they become a fine paste , now pulse in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Pour the mix into your prepared tin, don't be alarmed the mixture will be very runny
  • Bake for at least 45 minutes until golden, set and risen. Test with a skewer to make sure its cooked through
  • Cool fully on a wire rack
  • Cut into squares and store in an airtight tin for a couple of days if it lasts that long

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Chicken chow mien

As you have probably gathered by now, I am not a fan of takeaways and ready made sauces preferring to make my own. Not only do they taste much better, they are less expensive and you are in control of the ingredients. As a child I enjoyed the occasional takeaway and one of my Dad's favoured dishes was a chicken chow mien along side a char sui pork.

In adulthood I started making chicken chow mien as a quick and easy supper dish that could be quickly whipped up on return from work, the vegetable ingredients are infinitely variable depending on whats in season (or more likely whats in the fridge!), as long as you have some source of protein and some noodles you have the basis of a chow mien.

Its also recipe that is easily converted to gluten free buy substituting rice noodles and tamari for the egg noodles and soya sauce. Its extra tasty served with prawn crackers or kurups if you are wanting more of a Chinese banquet. This recipe can be on the table well within 30 minutes so is very family friendly too and is a fun dish as it features noodles which are normally popular with youngsters.

The recipe also uses five spice, typically a blend of star anise, cloves, cinnamon,sichuan pepper and fennel, but some have ginger, turmeric or nutmeg in the blend. I adore the fragrance of five spice I think its the star anise that makes it so special , but may be its the blend of yin and yang or the balance of sweet, salty, bitter, sour and pungent all in one mix.

What you need
  • Chicken ( or prawn or tofu or quorn), cut into bite sized pieces
  • Cornflour - about 1 tbsp
  • Five spice - about 1 tbsp
  • Wok oil / Sesame seed oil
  • Vegetables to stir fry (I used welsh onion, red pepper, mange tout peas, courgettes, mushrooms) - chopped ready
  • Soya Sauce (or Tamari if you need gluten free)
  • Noodles ( use rice noodles if you want gluten free)
What you do
  • Firstly have all your ingredients to hand
  • Tosh the chopped chicken in the cornflour and half the Chinese five spice
  • Put the noodles on to boil as per the instructions on the pack (normally between 3-7 minutes)
  • Heat your wok or large frying pan containing the wok oil until very hot, add the marinated chicken and fry quickly until starting to colour golden
  • Add the vegetables, the rest of the five spice and stir fry until everything is cooked
  • Season with soya sauce
  • Switch of the heat and add the drained noodles to pan, mix thoroughly
  • Serve immediately on warmed plates sprinkling with more soya sauce if you like.
My lovely cakey foodie friend Clare over at Good Egg Foodie has just launched a new blogger campaign "Spice Up your life" for cooking with spices. As our recipe is using Chinese five spice it should definitely spice up your life.

                                               SPICE UP YOUR LIFE RECIPE LINK UP

I am also linking up to Fab Fast Food March family foodies challenge , for recipes that are family friendly and on the table in under 30 minutes over on Bangers and Mash and Eat Your Veg


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