Sunday, 31 July 2011

Jesmond Mixer Market

Poor Girl's Kitchen Caramel Bar
Good food, a nice atmosphere and unique stalls are all attractive individual aspects to hope for when attending a local market.  It is a huge bonus when all three aspects come together in one local venue. 

The Mixer Market in Jesmond offers a lovely combination of local food (especially baked goodies, mmmmm!), vintage items and craft stalls. It is held on the last Sunday of each month and it has a really friendly, creative and very welcoming vibe. 
Cake Poppins Hedgehog Cake Pop
There appears to be both regular stalls and new stall holders each time which means there are always new things to check out alongside your trusty favorites. 

This was the second time that I've attended the market and I was not disappointed.
Poor Girl's Kitchen Mint Glory-o's
I only wish I had a larger budget since there were some really unique items that would have made great gifts, but as it was this time around, I was totally focused on satisfying my sweet tooth, mmmm..... 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Festival Food

Stoats porridge

Experiencing the Wickerman Festival this weekend was a fantastic way to break myself into the festival phenomenon. 
It was friendly, fun and full of fantastic food (all my favourite f’s in one place!).    
We had a hearty start to the morning: Porridge from Stoat’s Porridge Bar with flakes of toasted almonds, pear and cinnamon.
The Wickerman Festival is a music festival near Dumfries in scotland which has occured for the past ten years over a weekend in July. It takes place in the middle of rolling farm land with a view of amazing landscapes on all sides and moody clouds in the sky above.
I enjoyed my first official Pimm’s complete with a cute branded stirrer which of course I kept (my Dad would be proud!). 

Musical highlights from the weekend include: The Pigeon Detectives, Noisettes, and Feeder
Plus some great scottish bands (Miaoux Miaoux and We Write Letters in particular) played the Solus Emerging Artist Stage and I'll be keeping my eye out for them in future. 
There were also some awesome DJ sets in the dance tents (Utah Saints drew us in for the long haul even when bedtime called!)

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Peanut Butter Cups

This is a reposting of an entry earlier this year from my non-food blog, but since it is food related I wanted to repost it on here.  Plus, these have now become part of my 'baking' repertoire, so it only seems fitting to post it again in order to share the peanut butter & chocolaty love!

I never realised just how straight forward making Peanut Butter Cups could be.  It is pretty darn simple (and I love simple recipes!), a little messy but there are only a handful of ingredients and no actual baking necessary, just some simple melting.

So I finally decided to try it and after finding the recipe on the Joy of Baking page, voila... the results have been taste-tested by my colleagues and friends and have passed the test with a chocolatey thumbs up!

The Joy of Baking webpage makes me drool and there are so many delicious looking recipes to try....hmm.... what to make next?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Pasta Shells with Broccoli and Anchovies

Recently I’ve been trolling through my Good Food magazines from the past few years scouting out new recipes to try and this was quite a simple looking recipe which I thought would make a nice change from the usual weeknight meal routine.

The Pasta Shells with Broccoli and Anchovies recipe uses only a handful of ingredients, most of which were already in the house (who doesn’t have olive oil, lemons, garlic and a cute little tin of yummy anchovies in their store cupboard these days?).

It was quick to make (on the table in less than half an hour) and was rather tasty too!

I left out the chili by choice since I didn't want to have a bright red face for the rest of the evening, but I absolutely loved the combination of anchovy, lemon and broccoli with the satisfyingly chewy texture of the pasta. Delish!

This is definitely going on my list to make again soon.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Lake District Delights

A weekend away is just another excuse to seek out some delicious treats whilst in a new location and of course, a weekend camping in the Lake District is no exception.

In deciding what to explore during a soggy weekend in the Lake District, we were happy to have an insider’s tip for a local speciality in a nearby village.  We had been given a very strong recommendation to try Grasmere Gingerbread. We were told that not only was it amazingly tasty gingerbread, but that the shop itself was in a sweet little village worth visiting.
After tasting it first hand, I’ll go further to say that this is one of the best gingerbreads I have tasted yet. It really deserves to have its own unique category. It is a cross between a biscuit and a cake with a slightly chewy yet crumbly texture. It is definitely worth the long queue out the small shop doorway with the many, many tourists(bus loads!) to get into the tiny shop.

The village itself is also worth a visit with all of its interesting shops and old buildings intermingled along the path. I’m definitely going back to Grasmere in future.

While there, we managed to stumble upon a fantastic little restaurant for lunch. The Jumble Room was just a stone’s throw from the gingerbread shop and had a wonderfully cosy atmosphere with colourful cushions on the seats, children’s artwork and professional paintings of various animals covering the walls.

We ordered the soup of the day, Carrot Orange, which came with two pieces of the most delicious fresh homemade bread (a piece of white and a rustic, nutty brown bread) alongside the bowl. It was just what we needed to refuel for the rest of our afternoon of exploration.

Our next treat came the following day and was a completely random find down a cobblestone alleyway in Kendal. 

After learning that the Chocolate House was not open on Sundays(d’oh!) we were keen to locate a suitably quaint & cutesy alternative place to grab something to eat.  

We wandered along an olde worlde looking alleyway and happened upon the Hamper Tea Room. I knew straight away from the look of it that it was a gem.  It was a very welcoming little tea room tucked away off the main high street. 

We ordered our toasted sandwiches and a cafetiere of Farrer’s Italian Roast coffee and after finishing that off we didn’t hesitate to order one of the many desserts on offer. 

It was hard to choose which dessert to try, with all the traditional British puddings represented as well as local ice creams and whatever cake and other baked goodies were on offer that day.

In the end, I chose Sticky Toffee Pudding with custard and I was not disappointed.     

Hampers Tearoom: 14 New Shambles, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4TS

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Swedish Fish

These brightly coloured gummy candies are one of my absolute favourite treats!

I was very excited when I found out that IKEA sells bags of Swedish Fish and now after a trip to the Scandanavian flat-pack hub my sweet tooth is happily satisfied for a little while at least.   

Swedish Fish (and Sour Patch Kids as well, mmmm!) were the highlight of watching neighborhood baseball and softball games in my childhood memories of summer....forget the sporting event though, I was all about the treats.

We used to get them in little baggies from the snack stand at the local park. They were counted from a giant wholesale tub and individually bagged up with 25 in a portion.  It was perfectly kid sized.   

And if memory serves me right, they were the bargain price of only 25 cents a bag!  What can you get for 25 cents these days?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Stained Glass Jello

My first attempt at Stained Glass Jello

In my search to find fun new Fourth of July treats to make I came across this ingenious little recipe for Stained Glass Jello (or Stained Glass ‘Jelly’ if you are in the UK).  Somehow I managed to not hear of it until now, but boy have I been missing out!
I came across the recipe on Brown Eyed Baker’s blog where she had beautiful photos of her red, white and blue stars made in honour of the Fourth of July.
Her photos definitely made me want to go out and buy some boxes of jello and get the kettle boiling right away!  And that’s exactly what I did...
I chose random colours that I liked the look of since I didn’t have a particular holiday theme to go with: black currant(purple), strawberry(red) and raspberry(pink).
I had to Britify the recipe a little, but I was easily able to find all the necessary ingredients.
Personally I think the condensed milk combined with the gelatine has a nice flavour all on its own (I fancy making a big bowl of it to snack on!) and its creamy sweetness offsets the fruity squares of the jello perfectly.
Just a side note, next time I make these I will not cut the squares with a serrated knife (oops!) so take heed not to make the same lil’ mistake yourself if you are keen to take a photo of them, unless you like the extra texture it creates?!
Here is the Britified version of Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe for Stained Glass Jello:
(she lists The Food Librarian as her original source for the recipe)
These quantities make a 9x13 pan of Stained Glass Jello which can be cut into whatever shapes you please.
Raspberry, Strawberry & Black Currant Stained Glass Jello

  • 3 packets of fruit jelly (colour combo of your choice)
  • 397g tin of Carnation sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 sachets of Dr Oetker gelatin
  • Water
1.     For each flavour of jelly, dissolve one packet in 8oz of just boiled water from the kettle.
2.     Pour into a smallish square container so the jelly is thick enough to cut into cubes once chilled. 
3.     Chill at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible, then cut each of the jelly flavours into small cubes.  Spread the cubes out in a 9×13 pan in the pattern of your choice.
4.     Mix two sachets of gelatin powder with 4oz of cold water in a medium sized bowl.
5.     Once the gelatin is mixed into the cold water, add 12oz boiling water and stir well. Stir in the full tin of condensed milk and let cool.
6.     Pour the cooled milk mixture over the jelly cubes in the 9×13 pan. At this point you can choose to skim off any small bubbles that are created from pouring the condensed milk onto the jelly, or not, it’s up to you. I found it difficult to catch all the bubbles so I left a few here and there which didn’t seem to have a huge effect on the finished product.
7.     Chill overnight or at least 3 hours until firm and then cut into desired shapes. Now share them with your friends, don’t eat them all yourself like I was tempted to do!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Peanut Butter Brownies

This is a repost from my original blog. I wanted to share it again since I have been thinking that I need to make this recipe again quite soon.

It was a very straight forward recipe and an extremely satisfying treat for anyone who likes the flavor combo of chocolate and peanut butter(definitely one of my favorite combos!).

I had my eye on this recipe since the May 2011 Good Food magazine arrived on my doorstep a couple months back, and I finally did get to bake these deliciously gooey, incredibly more-ish, peanut buttery brownies myself.

They definitely came in handy to perk up a certain someone after his bicycle was stolen (grrrr!).

The combination of peanut butter & chocolate sure is a healing mix!  

Monday, 4 July 2011

Red, White and Blueberry

Happy Independence Day to Americans out there!

I may not have had a fancy fireworks display to view whilst eating char-grilled animal flesh over here in jolly ol’ England but I was celebrating in spirit with a themed dessert of fresh fruit (blueberries & cherries) on top of a shop bought meringue (alas, I haven't drudged up the courage to make homemade meringues yet). 

Although after seeing some of the amazing red, white and blue deliciousness available on the Internet I know that I definitely need to up my game for next year.

For those in the UK I wish you a 'Happy Independents’ Day!'

I did my part for Independents' Day by purchasing some Panda liquorice candy from an independent health food shop in Newcastle called Almonds & Raisin. It's a great little shop in Princess Square, near City Library, but sadly they do not have a web page (or at least one I can find).

They sell all sorts of items that one would classify as healthy and ethical.  Amongst these are delicious candies, cookies, interesting teas, and of course soy products of all kinds. 

So if you are in need of something that you can't seem to find in the average grocery store, you may just be thrilled to find it on a shelf in Almonds & Raisins.  

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Tofu & Spinach Cannelloni

Whilst flipping through BBC's Good Food magazine sometimes there is a recipe that just jumps out at me and practically screams that I have to try it. This was such a recipe.
I finally had the chance to make Tofu & Spinach Cannelloni which had caught my eye in June’s Good Food magazine. I think it was mainly the fact that the recipe used silken tofu and I am keen to figure out how to use it more often (especially since buying it by accident once and not knowing what to do with it).
Plus I’ve learned a couple of important lessons from my efforts at making this dish. What was classified as an ‘easy’ recipe turned into a fight against unruly pasta, dried lasagne sheets to be precise. 
I thought I was being clever by using up a half box of dried lasagne which I already had in the cupboard even though the recipe called for fresh sheets of lasagne (in order to roll it into the tube shape that cannelloni is known for).  Partly being frugal and partly being stubborn, I figured I could cook the dried sheets first and use them in the recipe just as easily as fresh sheets of lasagne. Having never cooked dried lasagne sheets before I thought it’d be easy-peasy (usually I just let the dried sheets cook from the liquid within a lasagne which always works well).  Boy oh boy, was I wrong. 
Unfortunately, I neglected to take photos of the hideous clump that came out of the pot, but believe me when I say it was not pretty.  I do not understand the physics of why individual pieces of dried lasagne would migrate to one another in a big pot of boiling water and magically fuse together, but this is basically what occurred.  
Luckily, I had another box to steal some spare sheets from and cook up (individually this time, ha!). I was able to finish making the dish even if it wasn’t quite picture perfect and even though my tubes were actually more like squashed parcels due to mutant dried lasagne sheets, it tasted OK.  
I have definitely learned a lesson for future dishes: dried lasagne to be used dry, and the next time that I’m itching to make cannelloni I will be using fresh lasagne for sure.  

Friday, 1 July 2011

Thank Crunchie It's Friday!

Crunchie Close-up
 I decided to share this particular photo because it made me want to eat chocolate, so I figured why not at least visually share that Friday feeling with you folks.  I do love a Crunchie (or any chocolate, who am I kidding?) whether it be Friday or any day of the week.

I dug this photo out from the depths of my 2008 folder.  It was taken with my little point & shoot camera as part of a short online digital photography course which was aimed at getting people excited about digital photography.  I think it worked.  The course was definitely what encouraged me to finally take the plunge and upgrade to a DSLR camera.  It also totally whet my appetite for taking crisp, clear, colourful photos of beautiful and delicious food.  At the time I was also excitedly fritzing around with Photoshop, hence the colour/black & white combo effect.
For those of you not aware of this honeycomb deliciousness created by Cadbury which is famous for its “Get That Friday Feeling” ad campaign, you can read about it on Wikipedia here:
Off I go now to buy myself a Crunchie...