Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Golden Lion at Wheelton

On a blustery wintery day we paid our first visit to the Golden Lion Pub in Wheelton, a small village near Chorley in Lancashire. The Golden Lion is a traditional pub at the heart of the village and its community, we were warmly welcomed by the owners and the log fire burning in the grate.The pub is traditionally decorated and even has a pool table if you fancy a game, but on to the food. 

The emphasis is on good quality locally produced pub grub, all the favourites are available and everything is reasonably priced, they also have specials and their steak nights apparently are very popular.

We ordered our choices from the menu at the well stocked bar, they had a great selection of real ales according to Mr B, and waited in anticipation of homemade pie and steak pudding (from a local butcher of repute).

 The food arrived piping hot with a selection of fresh vegetables ( always a good sign ) and hand cut chips, yummy ! So visit this nice local pub when you are in the area for traditional lovingly prepared pub grub,  oh and a good pint too !

The pub is dog and walker friendly and has a large car park behind complete with chickens and geese.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Nigella's Clementine Cake

I have to thank my boss at works for the inspiration for baking this recipe, she made this for the "Children in Need" bake sale last week. After digging about in my recipe book collection I located the recipe. The recipe is gluten free as it uses ground almonds instead of flour, so its a handy one to have in case of a ceoliac visitor. The recipe is easy and fairly foolproof, its not the most pretty of cakes but it more than makes up for this flavour stakes.

  • 4-5 clementines ( about 375g )
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder

Put your clementines in a pan with just enough water to cover and bring to the boil, simmer for 2 hours until soft. Keep an eye on the pan ensuring it doesn't boil dry. Drain and cool, once cool split and check for pips, remove any you find. Pulp the clementines in a food processor(all of it), then add the other ingredients and whizz until you have a smooth mixture.

Pour into a greased and based lined springform tin, roughly 7 inches across. Bake in a preheated oven 180c for approximately an hour, as the cake quickly browns you should cover it with foil after the first 30 minutes. Test with a cocktail stick , so that it comes out clean when its done. Cool in the tin, dust with icing sugar.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Slow Cooked Brisket of Beef

I use my slow cooker a lot in the winter, its an easy way to have a scrummy no messing evening meal waiting for you when you come home from work. They take a little getting used to, but once you have learned that you need to hold back on the liquid compared with oven cooking they are easy to use. A favourite recipe in our household is brisket of beef, tender melting well flavoured meat that can be used to create some delicious meals. I get my brisket from Spout House Farm which is near me, but any good butcher should have this for you and in a size of piece suitable for your family.

Its easy to ring the changes with this recipe and use whatever you have to hand, the main rules being the quality of the brisket and the quality of the stock.

  • Beef brisket - rolled
  • Flour - seasoned
  • Onions - chopped
  • carrots
  • bay leaves
  • mixed herbs
  • Beef stock / Beer / red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar or fruit vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Oil

Firstly make your seasoned flour, roughly 1 tablespoon of flour on a plate and add salt, freshly ground pepper and some mixed dried herbs. Roll your brisket in this mixture until well coated and don't forget the ends. Fry off your brisket to seal it in a little oil and to give a nice golden crust. Now place in your slow cooker ( if you don't have one then you can use a casserole dish and the oven instead but its a bit more hassle), next fry your onions and carrots in the same pan, scraping up any brown bits from the meat as this is were the flavour is, until the onions are slighty softened. Next add to the pan the stock / wine/ beer, balsamic, mustard and bay leaves and bring to a simmer, stirring ever so often to again loosen any sticky bits on the pan. Then pour this over your brisket in your slow cooker or casserole dish, put on the lid and if using a slow cooker cook for at least 4 hours on high, but I just leave it all day and it always turns out fine, if using an oven cook on 150c for at least 4  hours, but check every hour or so to see if needs more stock or water as it can dry out. Your brisket is ready when it falls a part when gently crushed with a fork, your gravy  will be well flavoured, thicken if necessary with slaked cornflour and serve with your favourite vegetables. Enjoy !

Friday, 18 November 2011

Smoked haddock and leek chowder

This is one of my favourite soup, so warming and comforting. Its loosely based on a recipe in "New Covent Garden Soup - Book of Soups" one of my extensive collection of cookery books. I first had their version off their stand that used to be on London Euston railway station, on a business trip. I make my version fairly regularly throughout the winter season, its easy to substitute the smoked haddock for salmon or prawns and the leek for onion, you could also add sweetcorn too.I used Leeks today as I had a fresh supply from the garden.

  • Large knob of butter
  • 2 large leeks - cleaned and chopped
  • 2 large potatoes - peeled and chunky chopped
  • 500ml fish stock - a stock cube is fine
  • 1 largeish piece of smoked haddock, cooked, de-skinned and flaked and any bones removed
  • Pepper
  • Dill Weed

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add 2/3rds of the chopped leeks and potatoes to the pan, cook gently without colouring for about 5 minutes, then add the stock and bring to a simmer, cook until the vegetables are just softened. Now allow your soup to cool and use a stick blender to liquidise until smooth. Now add the rest of the vegetables and bring back to simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, if you need to add more water you can do, add the flaked fish and dill weed, taste and season. You probably won't need any salt as smoked haddock is fairly salty.

Serve garnished with parsley or a swirl of cream or both if you wish.

Cosmopolitan - Chorley

The last few months has seen the opening of a new restaurant in Chorley - Cosmopolitan is a Restaurant, wine and cocktail bar. The food is modern Mediterranean in style but they also have a tapas menu. Situated on  St Georges St, right in the heart of the town this is an ideal venue for a pre theatre meal. The building itself is an old stables conversion and is fronted by a courtyard seating area, inside it is cosy and rustically decorated.

We were warmly welcomed on a chilly evening and ordered from the early bird menu, which had plenty of choice for all and was very reasonably priced at 2 courses for £10.95. 

The portions were very generous and well presented, generally the food was very good, my first course was the homemade chicken liver pate which was nicely herby. Hubby's first course was a huge hummus, olives and oil and vinegar selection, with 2 types of bread. Ours main arrived quickly and were piping hot, my vegetable risotto was well flavoured and very filling. Hubbys steak was cooked as requested (rare) if a little stringy and was accompanied by a nice pepper sauce and  seasonal vegetables. We had no room for desserts so they will have to wait till our next visit. 

Cosmopolitan is nice addition to the dining venues in Chorley town centre.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Food Bloggers Unplugged

I have been tagged by Sue @Twitottee to take part in the fun of #foodbloggersunplugged, the idea being to tag another 5 foodie bloggers to keep the initative on a roll. Sounds like great fun to me and enables us all to understand more about our fellow foodies, so I am happy to take part.

The questions we have to answer are as follows:-

1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
3. Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is?
4. Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was          it, what was it?
5. Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is?
6. What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
7. Who taught you how to cook?
8. I'm coming to you for dinner what's your signature dish?
9. What is your guilty food pleasure? 
10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

Finally...tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions...like a hot baked potato...pass it on!

Use this home made expensive Food Bloggers Unplugged  logo (below) on your blog and link up with the hashtag #foodbloggersunplugged on Twitter.

So here goes 
1.What, or who inspired you to start a blog ?
My hubby, he kept moaning about how I should be sharing all my makes with the world, I had a slow start but now really enjoy blogging all things foodie.

2.Who is your foodie inspiration ?
Got to be Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall,I have appreciated his work for years, just wish River Cottage was a bit nearer to Lancashire.

3.Your greasiest, batter-splattered food /drink book is ?
It's Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course, all the pages are falling out and its very tatty. 

4. Tell us about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it ?
That's a difficult one as I have eaten loads of lovely things in lots of different places. Think the best and most memorable was a fabulous meal in Dunworly, Southern Ireland at Otto's Creative Catering, a fabulous slow food, locally sourced/ produced organic venue. The food was amazing, all grown or produced on site and the meal was topped off by playing with dolphins on the nearby beach. Its now closed as Otto and his wife (Hilde) have retired. Darina Allen has visited too.

5. Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is ?
Carl Legge @CarlLegge on twitter, I love foraging and using different sustainable ingredients. I am also very interested in Permaculture and Carl is an expert in all of these things.

6. What would be the one kitchen gadget you would ask santa for this year ?
Another bowl for my beloved Kitchenaid mixer.

7. Who taught you have to cook ?
A combination of my Nanna, My Mum and my domestic science teacher at school.

8. I'm coming to you for dinner whats your signature dish ?
Tough one as I like to experiment and it changes, I am known however for my courgette recipes.

9. What is your guilty food pleasure ?
Peanut butter on plastic bread toast.

10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn ?
I used to be a member of a "blacked up" morris dancing group !

My bloggers I am tagging are (you must say this in a tension building manner)
  1. Carmela Hayes - Carmela's Kitchen 
  2. HonieMummy  - 
  3. Carla - Orangemartini
  4. Irwin Kraus - The Amateur peasant
  5. What Kate Baked
If you have been tagged you will need to link to A little bit of heaven on a plate. 
Go on join in and have a bit of fun. 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sultana slab - a great traybake

I am entering this tray bake in Ruth "The Pink Whisks" Traybake challenge, Ruth was a finalist in 2010 series of the "Great British Bake Off" and has gone on to host a fabulous baking blog. I made this bake for Children in Need.

  • 450g sultanas
  • 3 eggs - free range please
  • 350g Sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 225g butter
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Approx 8 by 12 inch roasting tin / tray bake tin


Preheat your oven to 160c, grease / oil your tin, I use oil spray to make things easy. Place your sultanas in a large pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and gently simmer for approximately 15 minutes until your sultanas are plump and juicy. Meanwhile in another bowl mix the eggs, sugar and almond extract. 

Drain the sultanas and put them back in the pan along with the butter to melt with the residual heat, if they need any help just put on a low heat, until all the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and allow to col slightly. Now add the egg mixture and then the flour and baking powder, mix thoroughly. Pour into your prepared tin. Bake for approx 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Cool in the tin and when cool cut into slabs, hence the name. Keeps well and will also freeze.


Mocha Ginger Biscotti

Biscotti are hard italian biscuits, which are usually served with coffee as breakfast or a snack. I love all things Italian food wise and make a number of different of types of biscotti, I like the combination of flavours in this bake, chocolate, coffee and ginger, its a bit festive and smells wonderful when baking. It makes a great gift served in a pretty metal tin or clear glass "kilner" style jar decorated with ribbon. I am entering this recipe in Vanessa Kimbells blogsphere campaign "Lets make Christmas".


  • 100g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 120g sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp ground coffee
  • 30g dark chocolate - roughly broken 
  • 2 eggs beaten (use free range)
  • 2 balls of stem ginger - finely chopped

Heat your oven to 180c. Sieve flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in your food processor, add the sugar, coffee and chocolate. Process until finely ground. Add the eggs and process until you have a firm dough, don't panic if it looks fairly sticky, it will be OK, quickly add the ginger and fold in. If you need to make the dough looser add milk. Tip it out onto a floured board, gently form into a log and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 150c. Allow your log to cool, then using a serrated knife carefully cut into 1cm wide slices. Lie these on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until firm. Then allow to cool completely on a wire rack, then store in a jar or air tight tin.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Celery, apple and Lancashire Cheese salad

Celery is a pretty underrated vegetable. Most the recipes you see it in are for some form of waldorf salad , well my hubby doesn't like nuts so that crosses most of them of the list straight away, most also feature mayonniase too. I like the combination of celery and apple so I thought I would combine this with a good Lancashire cheese and see what I got.
Fenland Celery is a hierloom variety , that has a beautiful nutty mellow flavour and is crunchy and not at all stringy, so special that protective geographical indication status has been applied for.

The resulting salad was delicious and crunchy, dressed with rapeseed and balsamic vinegar.

Celery cake

As I love all things baking and having been kindly sent a sample of Fenland Celery to experiment with, its an heirloom variety grown in a traditional way, so special that PGI status has been applied for. I thought I would have a go at a celery cake. Yuck, I hear you all cry, after a little searching on the internet I discovered a few recipes which use celery as a baking ingredient, all are from the USA where people experiment a little more than here. The recipe uses mayonnaise as its fat / oil content, but don't let that put you off, I have done other mayonnaise recipes before and they have always turned out fine, the chocolate one being the best (of course). But that's a post for another day. I am using american cups so the recipe is a doddle to follow.

  • 3 cups plain flour - sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs free range
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mayonnaise ( low fat is fine)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups apples, peeled, cored and  diced
  • 1/2 cup celery - finely diced

Preheat your oven to 180C, oil and flour a 9 inch round cake tin.

Beat your eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy, now add the mayonnaise and beat until well incorporated. Now add your flour and milk in thirds, beating after each addition. Fold in your apple and celery and pour in your prepared tin, bake in for approximately 1 hour to 1 hour 15 until well rise, golden and cooked through when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool initially in the tin, carefully remove after 15 mins and finish cooling on a wire rack.

If you want to ice, mix apple juice with icing sugar and drizzle on top. 

The resulting is delicious and moist  !!!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Hotel Chocolat - Christmas Gifts

I have been lucky enough to be selected as one of the chosen food bloggers to review some of Hotel Chocolat Christmas range. Hotel Chocolat is the high street and mail order retailer of high quality chocolate products, their web site is a treasure trove of all things chocolatey, I choose two products to review and awaited eagerly for my goodies to arrive.

My first choice was a box of 6 Alternative Mince Pies, a chocolate cup of salted caramel topped with praline. I must admit I was little disappointed at the size of the pies, the flavour however was lovely, I am a fan of salted chocolates and caramels. These pies would make a nice stocking filler if a little pricey for that special person in your life, especially if they don't enjoy the ordinary mince pies.They come packaged in a cute little box which is festively decorated.

My next selection was a Mini Christmas Wreath, a cute wreath shaped chocolate , a wonderful mix of quality milk and dark chocolate for that intense chocolatey hit which is so enjoyable, the mix also has cranberries, cookie pieces and whole caramalised hazelnuts in it. This is a full 100 grammes of weight and is intensely satisfying, the wreath would make a great gift for just about any one and is wrapped in a cellophane wrapper tied with a Hotel Chocolat ribbon, to give a designer edge to the presentation.

Hotel Chocolat have a facebook page and also can be followed on Twitter @HotelChocolat

Chocolate ginger cake

I love ginger cake, the warming spice is one of my favourite flavours and now that the weather is starting to cool this is a great bake to make. This cake combines a traditional ginger cake recipe with chocolate. Everything is improved by adding chocolate isn't it !

  • 150g butter
  • 150g dark brown sugar
  • 150g treacle
  • 225g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 190ml milk
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 100g plain dark chocolate- chopped
You will need a 20cm square cake tin or a deep roasting tin - oiled and lined


Heat the oven to 150c, melt the syrup, butter and sugar in a large pan over a low heat, then allow to cool slightly. Quickly add the flour, spices and bicarb, beat in and then the egg and milk, lastly add the chocolate chunks. Work quickly to mix until smooth, pour in your prepared tin and bake in your preheated oven for approx 40-50 minutes, until well risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, can be consumed as soon as cool but benefits from being left to mature for a couple of days in an airtight tin to become sticky. 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Cox Cookies and Cake - Adults Only cupcake book

What do you get when "Cake Boy" Eric Lanlard & fashion designer Patrick Cox work together ? a very funky uber hip twist on the cupcake. Cox Cookies and Cakes is a baking recipe book with a difference. the complete opposite of the saccharine sweet twee recipe books that feature gingham, butterflies and small furry animals. 

The black glossy book has shocking pink page edges and is distinctly aimed at the more adult market, showing how cupcakes and cookies can still be hip and cool. Kylie and Liz Hurley can't be wrong can they ! Heh the foreword is even by Sir Elton John no less. 

Eric as a master patisserie insists that his cakes taste amazing as well as looking amazing, something that other cupcake books seem to forget. Most of the recipes in the book are illustrated, but some of the pages are black so it could be difficult to read the finer points in a dimly lit kitchen, the recipes range from Red Velvet cupcakes to Black Skull cakes and look to be detailed. 

Content wise there are some more unusual bakes which may intimidate the more inexperienced baker and some of the decoration may be a bit edgy, thongs for example, for those used to the butterflies and flowers style, but the recipes I tried came out well.

I experimented with the Espresso brownies, which in the book features crystallised ginger not something I normally have in my store cupboard store I skipped the  ginger from the recipe. The brownies were moist with a mocha choc flavour and in celebration of the style of the book I used a gold glitter spray to decorate them. 

I was lucky to be given the opportunity to review this book by Octopus Publishing, the book is available to purchase on Amazon.
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