Sunday, 30 June 2013

Three Fishes at Mitton, re-launch event.

It must be 3 or 4 years since we last visited the Three Fishes at Mitton near Whalley, the first "gastropub" in Lancashire and the flagship venue for the Ribble Valley Inn chain which is the creation of the legendary local chef Nigel Haworth and wine expert Craig Bancroft.

                                            THE THREE FISHES

The ethos behind the pub is using fresh local seasonal ingredients in accessible regional menus where you can relax and experience great food and drink in a country pub environment. A lots changed in the food scene in Lancashire over the last 10 years or so and some would say that the Ribble Valley Inn's (there are now 4 pubs in the group) haven't kept up and are not at the pinnacle now of local food, so the talented team have sort to address this by the re-launch of the Three Fishes.

So on an unseasonable summer evening splashing through puddles we made our way to Mitton to see what had changed. Our invitation tempted us with the description of refreshing and contemporary but still a beautiful country inn, discover the new dishes embracing the local seasonal produce.

The location of the Three Fishes is nestled in heart of beautiful rolling Lancashire countryside and the exterior is attractive and neat and surrounded by cottage garden style landscaping, I  must admit I hate going to pubs where no attention has been paid to the surroundings, so, that's the first tick in the box.

We were welcomed inside and shown to our table in the "stable" area and presented with the evenings menu to browse. We had arrived a little early so we could take a few interior pictures, but were soon joined by the rest of the invited guests.

Attractive new artworks adorne the walls from talented artists Rosie Blake, Sarah Maycock and Kerry Hyndman and also my particular favourite was the Beacon Fell - home of Lancashire cheese place mat which I think would make a great gift product.

The interior now features natural oak finishes, matched with calming greys, creams and highlights of red, to warm the interior making an attractive eating and drinking space.

Photographs of local Food Heroes and producers still feature on the walls, some now being in colour as well as black and white. Another feature we especially enjoyed was the free WIFI, often when you are deep in the Lancashire countryside and inside a stone built pub it is normally nigh on impossible to have a decent mobile phone signal, but that's easily addressed by the WIFI. So you could hold a business meeting confident you would still be in touch with the office. For those of you interested the loo's have also been re done too and very attractive they are too, nice smellies also (RVI could may be consider working will a local soap supplier though), I particularly liked the clock face mirror and the new Dyson airblade hand dryer. Another tick in the right box.

Right, on to the food and drink, regular readers will know neither myself or Mr Lancashire Food are massive drinkers preferring to enjoy the occasional glass of wine or beer with food. So rather than plump for a bottle from the extensive carefully chosen wine list, Mr Lancashire Food opted for a pint of good old Thwaites (local brewery) Wainwright and myself for a Mawson's Dandelion and Burdock (designated driver).

Our canapes on the evening were a selection from the Nibbles menu with accompanying sauces, Nigel's Free range breed chipolatas, Cumberland and spicy pork and black pudding with mustard mayonnaise, bacon pastry swirls with homemade brown sauce (good but not as good as my homemade, Nigel I'll sell you the recipe !) and our favourite and now almost legendary Ashcroft's cauliflower fritter with curry mayonnaise. A delicious start to the evening.

We must apologise for the quality of the food pictures and not up to our usual standards as the lighting was a little poor in our area of the pub, this added to the cosy intimate mood for dining but not for the photographs.

Our choices from the dishes to begin were

King oyster garlic mushrooms, poached Pike Hill Farm free range hen's egg, homemade bread. Not the prettiest of dishes but pronounced very tasty by Mr Lancashire Food, his only criticism why serve the bread with butter when you already have all that lovely garlicky oil and may be a little more bread for dipping purposes.

My choice was that retro classic Prawn cocktail, deep ocean prawns, soft boiled free range egg, gem lettuce and classic cocktail dressing. This was very good and the prawns actually had flavour which can sometimes be lacking in many prawn dishes, I especially enjoyed the samphire garnish, the only downside of the dish was I found it a little difficult to eat due to the dinky sideways glass dish and the long shafts of spring onion,  I ended up using my fingers, I had ample homemade bread to go with my dish.

Onto our mains, I chose the Blackberry farm rare breed 100% pork sausages, new potato salad, crispy onions, garden leaves and mild English mustard. Not the first combination that springs to mind but I suppose its a twist on sausage and mash with onion gravy but for summer, so I was intrigued to try it. The potato salad made a nice change and had just the right amount of freshly snipped chives in it to cut the richness of the dish, the crispy onions provided a good contrast to the sausages and the mustard quite pokey considering it was a mild version.

Mr Lancashire Food opted for Steak Diane, Angus Sirloin medallion, cultivated mushroom sauce, shallots, French mustard, brandy cream, fine cut chips. On ordering Mr LF was informed this would be served medium (he normally prefers he steak a little more rare) but he went with flow and still enjoyed his steak, fine cut chips look great but as with most men I think he would have preferred real chips, they disappeared all the same however. I tasted the sauce and it was lovely, deep, rich and very tasty.

Ooh dessert time, what to have ? after much deliberation and fighting off the urge to plump for the local cheese board, Mr LF decided on the Black Forest Cheesecake (another twist on a retro classic), I knew he wouldn't be able to resist it as he loves chocolate. Macerated black cherries, kirsch, Valrhona chocolate layers and chocolate ice cream. Gone in moments and I didn't get to taste it !

I went for the homely Summer Fruit Crumble, a classic. The best summer fruits and apples served with clotted cream. Warming and delicious  plump juicy apples, strawberries, plums under a crumbly crust served with a large pot of very naughty rich clotted cream.

We finished our meal with coffees, the staff easily coping with my request for decaff  but they forgot our baby homemade eccles cakes, I probably wouldn't have been able to fit it anyway.

We had a lovely evening and experienced some great local food and drink in beautiful surroundings, also taking opportunity to catch up with other foodie friends in the process. My only disappointment on the night was Nigel Howarth didn't put in appearance as I was looking forward to chatting about local food with him, may be I'll catch up with him another day.

Thanks to Ribble Valley Inns for the kind invitation and the complimentary meal for two on the evening. I was not paid for this post or requested to undertake a review and the views expressed are my own or Mr LF's.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Sumac roasted potato wedges

For the last couple years there has been an increased interest in the food of the Israel, Turkey, Libya and Tunisia and the near middle east, personally I think  this is  mainly due to works of  Yotam Ottolenghi. He has brought a new flavour palate to the UK, so much so that sumac and z'atar now  routinely appear on most supermarket shelves. We enjoy sumac sprinkled on oven baked potato wedges which have been tossed on little olive oil and roasted for about 40 minutes until soft and golden, delicious served with a garlic yoghurt dip or as a side dish.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Opportunity to help a new local business and win £25 voucher towards a bespoke cake or cake class.

I was recently approached by one of my fellow clandestine cake clubbers who is also Market researcher as to whether I would assist her in surveying the baking community of Lancashire about what they would like to see in a new cake shop that was opening in Chorley.

          Wedding Cakes by Ruth

Given that I am local gal and like to support local businesses I said yes !

Ruth Potts from Cakes by Ruth in Chorley.  She is a professional baker of celebration cakes, she teaches amateur bakers how to decorate cakes and icing techniques and is opening a cake shop in Chorley in September this year.  The shop will be where she bakes and decorates her cakes as well as holding decorating classes and hosting children’s parties.  In order to help Ruth know what bakers (amateurs and professionals) want from a high quality local cake shop she has commissioned this survey to ask the bakers themselves.  There is a prize of a £25 voucher to go towards a cake decorating lesson or a cake.
So all you have to do to have a chance with winning this voucher is complete a short on line survey. Apologies to readers from outside Lancashire but I don't think survey would be of much interest to you.

The survey window is now open  will close on Friday 12th July at 5pm.  The winner of the free prize draw will take place on Monday 15th July.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

CCC No 16 - Strawberry and rose swiss roll for South Lancashire CCC visit to Thru the Looking Glass, Wheelton (16th)

Summer is in full swing in Lancashire and we have been really lucky to snaffle a great venue for our June clandestine cake club meeting. Our meeting was hosted at the delightful vintage tearoom "Thru the Looking glass" tea room is situated in the quaint Lancashire village of Wheelton, just outside Chorley. This gorgeous vintage tea room is so cute and so beautiful, delightfully quirky and has beautiful teas, coffees and of course CAKE ! 

Lynn the owner is also a very talented Interior designer as well and she stocks a great range of fabrics and interior design products. Thru the Looking glass also prides its self in catering for gluten and lactose free diets as well. 




Delightful outside seating area


Our theme for our meeting was "Vintage Classics" taking its inspiration from the tea room and our members rose to the challenge wonderfully, producing an array of delightful summery vintage creations. My bake for this meeting was a Strawberry and Rose Swiss roll the recipe is below.

The cakes we enjoyed
  • Toffee apple cake
  • Black Forest cake
  • Caramel cake
  • Pineapple upside down cake
  • Victoria sponge with cream
  • Battenburg
  • Cherry cake (apologies to Anne as I missed photographing your cake)
  • Weetabix
  • Strawberry and rose swiss roll

We had a wonderful time sipping tea and munching cake on a lovely sunny Lancashire evening, our members old and new had travelled from near and far and thoroughly enjoyed our hidden gem of a location. Many I am sure will be back in the near future to visit this lovely tea room.

What you need to make the strawberry and rose swiss roll
  • 3 eggs - free range, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 100g self raising flour - sifted 
  • 170g caster sugar
  • Fresh strawberries - hulled and halved and sliced
  • 200ml double cream - whipped to soft peak stage
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam (thinned slightly with the cordial)
  • Rose cordial
  • Greased and lined swiss roll tin
What you do 
  • Firstly pre heat your oven to 180c 
  • Now whisk the egg yolks and vanilla paste with 3/4 of the caster sugar until pale, light and fluffy
  • In a separate bowl now whisk the egg whites , gradually adding the remaining 1/4 of the caster sugar until you reach soft peak stage. I use my trusty Kitchenaid mixer.
  • Now gently fold a large spoonful of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture to loosen it and the fold in most of the egg white mixture trying at all times to retain the air in the mixture, now sieve in the flour gently and fold in, finishing with the last of the egg white.
  • Now that the mixture is well incorporated, pour into the prepared tin, smooth with a palette knife if necessary.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 -15 minutes, until golden and well rise and tested cooked with a cocktail stick.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the tin
  • On another piece of baking parchment turn out the sponge, quickly removing the top layer of paper.
  • Using the remaining piece of baking parchment , gingerly roll the swiss roll up still containing the paper. This is so the roll can cool folded to prevent cracking.
  • Whilst your roll is cooling, mix the whipped cream with the jam and rose cordial, just gently you are going for a ripple effect and prepare your strawberries.
  • Once the sponge roll is cool, unroll and spread the whipped cream mixture across roll and the strawberries , then gently re roll using the paper to assist rolling it back up.
  • When roll dust with icing sugar and decorate to your taste, I used strawberries and rose petals on a vintage plate inherited from my Nanna.

And here's a cheeky image of fellow blogger Rachel (Vintage Folly) suitably vintage styled enjoying the tea and cake !

                                                  Photo: Tea and The Clandestine Cake Club at 'Thru The Lookin' Glass' to end an amazing girly day with Beth :-)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Baked sausages and sweet baby tomatoes

Who doesn't like sausages ? I love this dish as its one of those which you can pull together in a few minutes and then bung in the oven for an hour or so whilst you do something else, yet the results taste like you have been slaving our a hot stove for hours. The other great thing is if you have any leftovers (unlikely but you never know) is its fab served with pasta the next day. Loosely based on a JO recipe this is a great italian style family friendly dish.

You will need

  • Quality sausages (high meat content ) - ask your local butcher
  • Small cherry tomatoes / cherry plum or similar
  • 2 garlic cloves - peeled and finely chopped
  • Selection of fresh garden herbs (bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, oregano in my case)
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Oven proof dish of appropriate size
What you do
  • Place the sausages, tomatoes in your ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the herbs and garlic and tuck in the bay leaves and rosemary, drizzle with oil and balsamic vinegar and a little black pepper
  • Bake in a preheat oven at 180c for approx 45 minutes until the sausages are cooked and the tomatoes  soft and a little caramalised
  • Serve with your choice of chunks of bread, mashed potato, pasta or in our case potato wedges.

We had this dish served with sumac potato wedges and rocket salad

Friday, 21 June 2013

Banana and blueberry loaf

As regular readers will know I hate waste, so another variation on Banana loaf was required to use up a couple of spotty bananas from the fruit bowl. I always buy organic fairtrade bananas as they taste so much nicer and more intensely banana than the ordinary type, combined in this recipe with one of my favourite superfruits blueberry, the resultant loaf is very moreish. Its a another cup recipe and is very easy, just line your tin and mash your bananas, other than that its an all recipe.

  • Plain flour - 2 cups
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup soft butter or quality margarine ( I like to use butter as the flavour is better in this recipe)
  • 1 cup caster sugar (you could use granulated)
  • 2 eggs - free range
  • Vanilla paste - 1 tsp ish
  • 2 ripe bananas - mashed
  • 1 cup of blueberries
You'll need a 2lb loaf tin, lined

  • Just place all ingredients (except for the blueberries) in a large bowl and beat until you have a smooth mixture, I use my Kitchenaid mixer !
  • Then gently fold in the blueberries and pour into your prepared loaf tin
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 170c for approx 50 minutes, until cooked when tested with a skewer
  • Cool in the tin initially and then on a wire rack
  • Keeps well in airtight tin and would also freeze as well

Monday, 17 June 2013

Pretty cupcakes using Sugar Sheets from Craft Company - a review

Recently was given the opportunity to carry out a review post for the Craft Company, an on line company which specialises in cake baking and cake decorating products. I had to choose £10 of goods for review so after much browsing on their website I plumped for a selection of sugar sheets. I have never used sugar sheets and was intrigued as to how they would perform in a domestic setting.

As regular readers of my blog will know I am not a fantastic decorator and prefer a more homestyle form of decoration for my bakes, the sugar sheets looked like something that might be useful and where a little different from the usual, when I am decorating I tend to use fondants and cutters.

The delivery service from the Craft Company was excellent and my chosen products arrived the next day well packaged and in one piece. It was recommended to use the sheets in a warm kitchen which is what I did, I decided to bake some basic vanilla cupcakes and dress them with a simple vanilla and rose buttercream using the shapes I cut from the sugar sheets to decorate them.

The sheets varied slightly in thickness and I found some to be more difficult to cut than others and had to resort to using a meat mallet to cut the shapes with the cutter, the resultant shapes could be used to decorate biscuits, cupcakes or larger cakes. After a while the sheets did become a little more brittle so you need to work quickly to get the best results, all in all I probably wouldn't buy sugar sheets again as I tend towards a simpler finish for my cakes but think they would be useful if you had a lot of the same type of decoration to produce.

The Craft Companies website has some useful video tutorials on using this and other products so for cake decorating supplies the company is definitely worth checking out, the prices look competitive and the delivery service is good.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Pendle Hill Cakes

I love looking at handwritten family recipe books and archives, the yellowing papers which hold our counties culinary heritage, recipes which are handed down from generation to generation. I have been kindly lent by my neighbour his families recipe book which I think dates from the early 1900's and runs through his Mother's early married life and their rich local cooking and baking heritage.

Within its bounds I have discovered a number of recipes which I have never heard of before, one of which is Pendle Hill Cakes ,which would appear to be a form of a sweet biscuit. The Pendle area of Lancashire is a wild and achingly beautiful place, forever associated with the infamous witch trails of 1612, interesting given that the recipe book is from the Leyland area at least 20 miles away from Pendle Hill.

Following the recipe in the book which didn't include an oven temperature or the length of time to bake for , we have baked the Pendle Hill Cake, and if we do say so ourselves its pretty delicious and definitely deserved to baked again. The resultant "cake"  is actually  in texture a biscuit,  what is it about "up north" where everything is a cake ! Chorley Cake, eccles cake  goosnargh cake, shortcake, etc, but they aren't cakes in the traditional sense.

On my recent visit to BBC Radio Lancashire I also made an appeal for "lost" forgotten food recipes so we will have to see what other culinary delicacies turn up. I can't trace any other recollections of the Pendle Hill Cake. The recipe contains flour, meal (I am assuming oatmeal), sugar, butter, egg and a little baking powder, then baked in a hot oven. The instruction said to roll out 1/4 inch thick and cut with a round cutter. So here we are ta dah ! the Pendle Hill Cake a re found classic.

The resultant "cake" is deliciously oaty and crumbly and stores well in an airtight tin. I haven't posted the full recipe as its still work in progress and still very variable when baked, humidity seems to make a big difference to the resultant "cake".

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Chive flower vinegar

At this time of year the garden is bountiful, full of promise and flowering its heart out. I have always had a passion for herbs considering them some of the most useful plants in the garden, as they combine culinary and medicinal uses with great texture and form and in the case of chives stunning flowers too.

Chives, spikey pinky purple flowers erupt from the top of the plant, they are attractive to insects and attractive to me. The flowerheads are a great addition to a salad, but to capture their lovely sweet spicy oniony essence for a little longer you need to make chive flower vinegar. This lovely light vinegar is ideal in salad dressings, with fish or just to ring the changes and its such a gorgeous colour.

All you need to do is collect enough chive flowers to lightly pack your chosen jar and then select your vinegar, white wine or champagne vinegar works well as it allows the lovely flower colour to be extracted to create a pinky hue to the condiment. You leave the flowers steeping until the vinegar is your desired hue and has the required level of chive flavour. You could also make this with wild garlic or garlic chives but the resultant vinegar wouldn't be such a beautiful colour.

I am also adding this to the lovely Lavender and Lovage's Cooking with Herbs challenge 


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Fluffy puff puffs - gourmet marshmallow review and giveaway !

Recently I received a small box in the post and was intrigued as to its contents, it was a light as air. I was pleasantly surprised as to its contents having agreed to the review I had forgotten that I was expecting a delivery from Fluffy puff puffs, the Gourmet marshmallow company. I was sent four flavours to sample, now I'm not a real fan of commercial marshmallows, the pink and white one's you see in the shops as I don't think they taste of any thing, well that's were Fluffy Puff Puffs differ. 

Our sample pack contained
  • Lime Punch
  • Love currant & white chocolate
  • Raspberry & white chocolate
  • Sugar & spice

You could really taste the flavours in the mallows, berry, chocolate, spices, unlike other commercially produced mallows which are full of rubbish , these are totally different, due to their being no preservatives in them, so they only have a relatively short shelf life of 6-8 weeks and the texture is also so very different too. There are loads of other flavours available plus seasonal variations, here are just a few to tempt you
  • Key lime and ginger pie
  • Salted caramel
  • Dark chocolate peanut butter drizzle
Made using the finest ingredients, including Belgium chocolate, these mallows are artisanal, gourmet, decadent and above all very delicious.

Luckily for you Fluffy Puff Puffs are  allowing one of you to taste their delicious mallows too. The prize will feature two flavours, white chocolate peanut butter drizzle and the new Raspberry mallow.

How do I enter the Giveaway?

  • Simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below. 
  • To be in with a chance of winning you must complete ALL the required fields. 
  • All entries will be checked and verified before a winner is announced.
  • You can increase your chances of winning by Tweeting on a daily basis.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a random winner.
  • The competition runs from 10/06/13 to 30/6/13 .
  • If you win, you MUST send me your delivery details before 12pm on 01/07/13, or the prize will be passed to the next person drawn.
  • Please see the Terms and Conditions on the Rafflecopter widget for the rules and more information.


                                                         Fluffy Puff Puffs
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