Treacle Tart Recipe.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe on here and I’ve decided today to share with you all one of my all-time favourites. The British classic; Treacle Tart. Not only is this one of my favourites it also happens to be Harry Potter’s too so if you’re a major Hazza P fan and want to imagine yourself eating supper in the Great Hall why not start off with

I wish I was the type of person that didn’t have a huge sweet tooth, the type of person that doesn’t go out for a meal and feel a bit short changed if we don’t have dessert too, or the type of person that didn’t have a little sweet, sugary devil sat on my shoulder telling whispering in my ear to have another slice of cake, defo get yourself a bag of pick ‘n’ mix and a hot chocolate whilst you’re there babe.

Given the name, you might have figured that treacle tart isn’t exactly the healthiest of options as it’s quite a rich, sweet treat but it’s so delicious even a tiny, little slither will give you a sugar fix. It’s super easy to make and even easier to dollop with a blob of cream and enjoy.

A Treacle Tart consists of sweet shortcrust pastry and then filled with a delicious, sticky filling of treacle/golden syrup, breadcrumbs and lemon juice or zest. For those of your that are gluten intolerant either use gluten free flour in the pastry mixture or buy premade gluten free pastry sheets or premade gluten free tart cases. Similarly for those that are gluten intolerant you could substitute the breadcrumbs in the tart filling with a gluten free bread alternative or even use ground almonds to give it the same texture adn consistency with an interesting nutty twist on the original.

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To make the pastry you will need:

250g plain flour

140g cold unsalted butter cut into cubes

A pinch of salt

2-3 tablespoons of icing sugar (confectioners sugar)

2 medium egg yolks

2-3 tablespoons of cold water

Instructions:

  1. Using either a food processor or your fingertips combine the flour and salt with the cubes of butter and blitz or rub together until it’s reached the consistency of fine sand.
  2.  Add in the icing sugar to sweeten the pastry and then the egg yolks and 2 tbsp of water.
  3. Mix together well (preferably with a metal knife) if the pasty is having trouble forming into a ball and seems a bit too flaky add in the extra tbsp of water to help it all bind together.
  4. Once it’s formed a ball shape, wrap it up and place it into the fridge and leave it to chill for 30 minutes.
  5. In this time, I think it’s a great opportunity for those that like to get ahead of the game, to be a bit more organised. Preheat your oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas mark 6. Tidy and clean up if you’re feeling extra good too.

To make the tart filling you’ll need:

400g golden syrup (told you it wasn’t healthy but it sure is good)

2 medium eggs

100g breadcrumbs (primarily a lot of people use white bread and cut off the crusts but i’ve found that different types of breads and keeping the crusts give a richer, chewier texture. So if that floats your goat and you don’t want the excess food waste then keep them crusts on!)

Zest/and or juice of a lemon

*Optional* You could add things like slices of stem ginger, powdered ginger, fruits like slices of apple, pear, grapefruit etc. I added some ginger because I really like those warm spicy flavours.

6. Now at this point hopefully you’ll have a clean and tidy workspace and your pastry will have been chilled for an adequate amount of time. Next, take your pastry and roll it out to a half inch thickness and line a fluted pastry tin and refrigerate again for another 30 minutes.

7. Once it’s chilled again for a second time line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes. Then take it out, remove the parchment and the baking beans and bake it again for another 10-12 minutes until the pastry is a perfectly golden brown colour.

8. Once you’ve taken it out of the oven, leave it to cool before trimming the pastry edges to neaten them.

9. Lower the oven temperature down to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4.

10. In a bowl mix together the golden syrup, eggs, breadcrumbs, lemon juice and zest and ginger til nicely combined.

11. Pour mixture into the pastry case and place into the oven to cook for about 30-45 minutes or until the filling has set.

12. Serve with clotted cream or vanilla ice cream and enjoy.

How I Decorated My Chocolate MEGA Cake!

Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve done a foodie post and I’ve been meaning to post this for AGES. So seeing as it’s mine and my Mum’s birthday in less than three weeks and then my sisters the following month; now seems like the perfect time to get prepared for birthdays, cakes and even more bigger, brilliant birthday cakes.

So I before I get into all the nitty gritty baking delights (and disasters), I want to just clarify that I am definitely not a qualified baker or anything like that. I just really quite enjoy cooking and baking and it’s always fun to just have a go isn’t it? Plus, I really like getting to eat delicious cake at the end of it all sooooo no one is missing out here?!

If you’re not a great baker I want to share with you these easy steps I took to transform a chocolate sponge cake into looking like this one I made. I’ve seen cakes like this in bakeries, or on Instagram or Pinterest and always thought how blimmin’ awesome they look?! As much as I love my sis I didn’t know how much I’d have to end up forking out on a cake like this; especially a little last minute as well!

So, underneath all of these gorgeously indulgent layers is a relatively simple chocolate cake. One of which I haven’t yet mastered. I’ve tried a variety of different recipes adding things like yogurt, buttermilk, extra oil etc etc into it to make the sponge more moist (sorry to those who don’t love the M word) but nothing seemed to do the trick. I was a bit worried the dry sponge was going to let the whole cake down but I drenched each cake layer with a generous amount of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled in a pan until it reduces and there are no sugar crystals left. Wait for it to fully cool before using) and then filled with a salted caramel and chocolate ganache.

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On the outside of the cake I used a thin amount of chocolate buttercream as a crumb coat. Which basically helps to lock in all the crumbs from the sponge layers so when you let it chill in the fridge and set up you’ll be able to get a much cleaner, crumb free, final buttercream coating. I used a straight and an angled palette knife to smooth out the buttercream on the cake. Theoretically it helps give you a smoother, more defined finish. You can buy them in most cooking/bakeware/homeware stores, Hobbycraft, Lakeland or online too. You can get them so they’re a straight edge for really neat edge or even ones that are ridged if you want to create a lined effect.

Similarly, if you don’t have one of these or don’t want to purchase something you may not use that often if you can find a flimsy piece of clean plastic or something similar to smoothly run against the frosting it’ll help create a smoothed appearance!

Once I had finished the final buttercream frosting and I was happy with it, I popped the cake in the fridge to set up and for the frosting to harden. Usually I’d be a bit cautious about putting a cake in the fridge in case it dried out but as I had simple syrup’ed each cake layer and there was a lot of ganache and buttercream involved already I was hoping it’d be ok.

To recreate the on trend dribbly bits down the side of the cake I made a salted caramel sauce (if you don’t want to do that then cut the middle man out and just buy some!) and poured it into the centre of the top of the cake and spooning it around the top of the cake until it had gently dribbled around the outer edge and letting bigger blobs dribble down the side until I was happy with how it all looked. I was quite quick doing this part, a bit worried it’d quickly harden or that if it went wrong it would ruin the whole appearance. But I found that, unlike how I approach most things in life, if you go slower and with less haste it is so much easier to control the outcome. Who knew eh!?

Then the fun bit begins! I picked up some Kitkats, Kinder Buenos, a Kinder Egg, Mikado (or pocky) sticks, chocolate coated pretzels, Galaxy golden eggs and two chocolatey doughnuts from the supermarket in order to go crazy with the toppings for this. I found some gold food colouring spray in the cupboard beforehand and thought it would be quite fun and make the cake look really luxe by spraying certain things, leaving some bare and part spraying some others. I cut some things diagonally and splayed out the different treats at different angles giving it some dimension and really because I liked how it looked.

It was actually really good fun making this type of cake and doing all the decorating too! I added some ferrero rocher chocolates around the bottom to make it look even more special ( it is a birthday after all!) and also helps if you need to cover anything up you could add a layer of fruit or chocolates and make it look part of the decoration.

There’s something extra special about receiving a homemade cake especially for a birthday treat, knowing someone has put a lot of time and effort into making something yummy for you to eat. So, have fun with whatever you’re creating, don’t worry about whether it’ll look a bit bodged or not because it’ll still go down the same way regardless!

What to see and do in Salisbury, UK.

When you think of Salisbury the first thing that probably comes to mind is a certain news story that hit the headlines last year. Before that you might have belonged to either the camp that had never heard of Salisbury or the one that knew it was near Stonehenge. I know I’m totally biased but I think it’s high time I show that there’s so much more to this beautiful, medieval city than that. Salisbury is my hometown after all so if you aren’t visiting JUST to see the city I was birthed then I want to introduce to you all these wonderful, culture delights.

TOURISTY HOTSPOTS

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Stonehenge

High up on this list of things to see and do has to be Stonehenge. This prehistoric stone circle is found just two miles outside of Amesbury and is probably one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world. It attracts visitors from all over the world so whilst you’re so close; why not tick this one off of your bucket list too.

Woodhenge

Not many people have actually heard of Woodhenge as it turns out. I’ll be honest I didn’t even know it was a thing up until last year when I went there in the summer on a day out with a friend. The neolithic timber* circle is just two miles from Stonehenge and you can enjoy some glorious views of the area from here. *I say timber but I think the original timber circles were burnt down and have been replaced with concrete pillars made to look like timber. Sooooo maybe not quite as impressive as the henge made of stone but still pretty cool.

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Cathedral

The infamous Anglican Cathedral. Whether you’re really into early English Gothic architecture (this building is one of the greatest examples of that. The main body took 38 years to build from 1220), a bit of a fan of tall cathedral spires, standing at 404 ft it’s the tallest in England and attracts tourists from Russia all year round! But seriously it’s a totally gorgeous cathedral, go for a meander round the cloisters and you can even take a look at the Magna Carta inside the cathedral too.

Old Sarum

Old Sarum is an english heritage property just a few miles outside of Salisbury city centre. It is the location of the first settlement of Salisbury with evidence of it dating back to 3000 BC. It’s super interesting if you’re interested to hear about the vast history of this place and in the evenings you can catch a stunning sunset there too.

Wilton House and Gardens

Wilton is a small town just on the outskirts of Salisbury and is home to Wilton House and Gardens. It’s been open to the public since the 1950s and has been used in different tv and films, from The Crown, Pride and Prejudice to Tomb Raider. Fancy, eh!

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FOOD AND DRINK

For my favourite part to talk about we move onto the best place to eat, drink and be merry in the city. I could tell you there’s a whole host of chain restaurants you could visit whilst you’re here but regular readers and people who know me, will know that’s really not my thing. Especially when you could try something a bit different why stick to the same meal you could get in any chain restaurant up and down the country.

Tinga

Tinga is an independently owned Mexican bar and restaurant in the middle of Salisbury city centre. As soon as you enter you are completely drawn in by the colourful, eclectic interior and the gorgeous food matches that vibe completely. I’m usually hesitant about places where they say there is a little something for everyone but they cater to meat eaters and not forgetting us pesky vegetarians and vegans too. They specialise in mexican small plates giving you a fresh opportunity to try something a bit different, like cactus enchiladas for instance! Before them I had never even heard of this!

Craft Bar @ Salisbury Arms

One of my favourite pubs in Salisbury. It’s got a really lovely, relaxed feel throughout, they do great cocktails and even better burgers. I cannot rave about these burgers enough.

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Anokaa

Anokaa is a modern Indian restaurant that is always high up on my list of places I recommend around here. It’s such a wonderful dining experience, the food is exquisite and on selected nights they have live entertainment like a magician going from table to table or belly dancers entertaining the diners. They have an offer for a lunchtime buffet as well and that really is worth every penny in itself.

Market Inn

You might have guessed by the name but the Market Inn is in the centre, overlooking the marketplace. They serve great drinks, even better food and make for great company too if you just wanted to pop in, rest your feet and chat with the bar staff over a cup of tea or two.

Allium

Relatively new to Salisbury is the independent, family run, fine dining restaurant; Allium. Situated above the market square, this restaurant is perfect if you want to treat yourselves to a memorable feast.

Baroushka

Baroushka is a fabulous middle eastern restaurant that I adore. Middle eastern food is probably my favourite cuisine and a trip to Baroushka can tickle all my fav taste buds (cheeky). Whether you want to graze over a selection of mezze dishes or jump straight in with one of their mains either way you’ll be in for a treat. Just make sure you’ve left enough room for a pud.

Cafe Diwali

Cafe Diwali serve exciting Indian street food dishes teamed alongside traditional craft beers. It’s such great value for money and you get such a big portion which I LOVE. If you like your Indian food, I’d definitely recommending popping in here for a lunchtime treat. It can get busy (which is ALWAYS a good sign) so best to ring ahead first! I wrote about my first visit here.

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Old Ale and Coffee House

My gastropub of choice when visiting Salisbury I always head here. They serve lush, locally sourced may I add, homely dishes but what’ll keep you coming back again and again is the homely atmosphere, the drinks list as long as a piece of string and the cool decor. Whether you want to stay seated indoors, time it right and join in with the quiz or sit outside (weather permitting) in one of their cosy huts.

Caboose

Caboose is a fun, exciting and new 1920’s themed parlour bar a short hop, skip and jump from Salisbury train station. It’s very art deco, it’s very cool and would make the perf place for an Instagram set up. Cos life is all about the ‘gram sometimes.

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YoYo Bar

YoYo (You’re Only Young Once) is a retro chic bar home to every cocktail you could imagine. Whether you want one to yourself or fancy a kitsch teapot full for two (biscuits included FYI) you’ll have an evening to remember…or not depending on how many cocktails you can drink.

ARTS AND CULTURE

If you’re not dazzled by all the touristy bits, can’t eat anything else in case you might burst and aren’t tempting to wander round all the high street shops you could always check out some of the other things that are going on in and around the city. There’s usually something going on either in Salisbury City Hall or in the Playhouse if you are lucky and can manage to get some last minute tickets to something or if you planned it all in advance.

Just outside of Salisbury is the Sculpture Centre set in the middle of the countryside. They often run events so whether you want to get involved with that or immerse yourself in the exhibits they’re currently holding. You’re sure to have a fun and different day out.

SPAS AND SALONS

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Vita Skin Spa

Vita Skin Spa is home to a broad range of spa, skin and body treatments. Whether you’re male or female, going on your own, as a couple or part of a pamper party you’ll be treated like royalty during your stay.

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Lime Tree Spa

Lime Tree Spa is the boutique spa within Milford Hall hotel offering plenty of different treatments and packages whether you’re looking for a complete switch off from reality or a nice mani/pedi to perk you up and make you feel a bit more special.

WHERE TO STAY

There is an abundance of hotels, b&b’s, Airbnb’s and serviced apartments dotted in and around the Salisbury area so whether you wanted to stay central to the city itself or explore somewhere a bit further afield.

Depending on how you travelled here; there is a station central to the city centre and from there you could get to:

  • Bristol
  • Bath
  • Southampton
  • Winchester
  • Bournemouth
  • Exeter
  • London

Buses throughout the city are fairly regular and reliable (pls don’t hold me to this and come back and tell me off if yours was 3 minutes later than usual tho. Like i’m not magic) so you could go on a sightseeing tour and get to see the touristy bits that way or even head into the New Forest.

I thiiiiink i’ve just about covered everything?! I’m a firm believer there is going to be beauty everywhere and whenever you look for it. I hope you liked reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it up. I’m thinking of going into 2020 with some more of these posts lined up of places i’ve visited in and around my local area. As much as I’d like to travel the world, my budget might not quite cover it plus I’d really love to be able to explore much more of the UK, my own country first as well. There’s so many places I’d love to visit properly and not just double tap on my Instagram explore page.

How To Throw The Perfect Christmas Or New Year’s Party!

*This is a collaborative post*

December really is the month for all the social butterflies out there. Amongst all the evenings spent frequenting pubs, bars and Christmassy market mulled wine tents, work christmas parties, all the other Christmas related festivities in-between and of course pre/post New Year’s celebrations it’s easy to see why it’s the most wooooooonderful time of the year.

You’ve probably been to plenty of parties in your life, for all sorts of occasions. Many will live on in your memories, while others were forgotten about merely days later. If you are throwing a soiree soon, perhaps for Christmas or the New Year, you know which camp you are going to want yours to fall into. However, throwing a party that is remembered for all the right reasons can be particularly tricky at this time of year; especially when the weather is so terrible outside! So whether you’re big on parties or prefer the quieter, chilled nights in, you’re the first to get the booze in or prefer guzzling all the soft drinks and if you are looking to add a bit of sparkle and something special to your party; hopefully there’ll be something for everyone to think about with these handy tips here! 

Location!

The first thing you are going to need to consider before you organise the big bash is where you’re going to host the partaaaay of the year. Are you going to throw it from the comfort of your own home? Or will it be somewhere you’ll need more space like hiring a room at a village hall or a conference room at a hotel? Or pushing the boat out and getting all your mates together for a night away at a bouji AirBnB. Personally, my favourite types of parties are the more lowkey types. The ones where you can comfortably settle in for the night on the sofa with all your friends, shoveling in a handful of crisps and not having to worry about moving onto the next bar or pub every hour!

If you’re going to throw the social occasion of the year at home you’ll need to consider:

  • If you live with other housemates or family members keep any other rooms locked to keep out stray party guests.
  • If you think you all might get a bit carried away whilst having fun, perhaps warn your neighbours beforehand just to stay in their good books!
  • Keep anything you don’t want to get broken out of the way especially if you’ve got clumsy drunken pals.

If you’re throwing a party in a public place like a hall or something similar you’ll need to consider:

  • You’ll have to pay. I feel like this one goes without saying and there may be a waiting list or might be all booked up by now for Christmas dates already.
  • You’ll be allocated a certain amount of time and will have to clean up fully at the end as well. I don’t know about you but in my opinion nothing quite kills my partying buzz like whipping round with a hoover at the end of the night.
  • There might be restrictions on what you can do and whether loud music is permitted.

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Perfect that guest list!

Now I don’t know about you but sometimes in life it’s nearly impossible to have completed blended friendships groups. You’ve got your family, your friends, your work friends, childhood friends, old family friends the list could go on and on. They’re all great and you adore them all equally but when it comes to hosting a shindig before you click send to all to all your FaceBook pals you might want to just double check who you actually want there, who’ll probably RSVP yes and not even bother to turn up at all and who’ll defo come through for ya and will bring a bucketload of snacks and a playlist to make Steve Aoki quake in his boots.

Have a theme!

When we think of a theme, the first thing that may come to mind is Halloween. In fact, Christmas and New Year particularly lend themselves well to themes – everyone is feeling a little more fun and more prepared to ‘let go’ and immerse themselves in the festivities. It doesn’t have to be anything too over the top (it’s your party you can do what you want to cry if you want to) Dress up to the nines for a Glitz and Glamour Hollywood theme. Have a purely Christmas themed shindig and everyone has to wear the most Christmassy jumper or go a bit wild with it. Or finally, set it to a particular decade or era and get some great pics to cherish forever (as long as everyone is game with a night of fancy dress!) or plan the night around an exciting Murder Mystery event.

Mix up the music!

Music is a must at any party, whether it subtly plays in the background or becomes more of a focal point with a dance floor. If your budget (and space!) can stretch to it, hire a professional DJ – they know exactly how to read a crowd and get them up and on the dance floor. Sometimes the really cheesy ones are the best too, there’s nothing quite like having a giggle with all your mates as you all get up singing and dancing to Living On A Prayer for the third time that night! Similarly, if you’re looking for a much cheaper alternative creating a playlist of all your favourites, cheesy classics are a must I’m afraid (soz I don’t make the rules but ABBA do) ask one of the party attendees to be officially in charge of the Spotify playlist or just simply put the radio/music channel on in the background!

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Consider the entertainment!

For many parties, music is the sole form of entertainment, but if you want your party to be a little bit different, consider other forms of entertainment. When you’re surrounded by all your friends or family sometimes it’s nice to have a little something extra to do as well  (aside from the annual tradition of the character assassination about my work life/ love life and repeat). Board games in recent years have had a real revival. Gone are the days of just spending hours cooped around a small table playing Cluedo and Trivial pursuit til the small hours with your great Aunt Ethel and there’s an ocean of the most hilarious games and activities for groups to do. Whether you want to organise the tradish style drinking games like beer pong or never have I ever? The App Head’s Up is a great way to integrate people and have a laugh. 

I’m really into silly games especially the types where you learn something brand new about innocent Sheila from accounts. I’ve seen a lot of hubbub about Big Potato Games a fun company from the UK who create some really entertaining games for big groups to small gatherings alike. Cards Against Humanity is always an absolute belter for getting everyone in the fun, partying spirit. Similarly you can find loads of fun different games to play if you have a quick search on Amazon.

Usually the idea of organised fun to me sounds as much fun as poking myself in the eye but if you’re after a really fun activity with all your pals this festive period check out what’s going on locally in your area. Pub quizzes are a great way to get together and sometimes (if you’re lucky) win some fun prizes. I’ve never won a pub quiz in my life but we’ve got free rounds for the best team name which is always fun. Or check out Fizz Box to see what exhilarating activities are on offer in your local area.

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Plan your food and drinks!

Food and drink are essential at any party, whether you are planning a fab finger buffet or a three-course formal dinner. However, the last thing you want to be doing is spending all night slaving away in the kitchen and missing out on all of the fun. Order in some pizzas for the group to share and feast on throughout the night. Crisps and dips are the best part about a social gathering if you ask a little piggy like me. Make something fun for everyone to get involved with like a tex-mex station with guests to make fajitas, tacos and overloaded macho nachos. Or if you fancy having a cocktail making and shaking sesh for the evening; grab all your alcoholic beverages, different spirits, soft drinks and fruit juices and make like you’re all fully trained bartenders and enjoy testing out each other’s creations.  

Fingers crossed that these tips will hopefully help you to plan and throw a party that no one will forget this Christmas time. 

A Vegetarian Afternoon Tea at The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath.

 

Can you think of anything more quintessentially British than enjoying a splendid afternoon tea in the Royal Crescent Hotel which is nestled in the heart of historic Bath’s crescent? Unless The Queen and Mr Bean were sat at the adjacent table.

I visited The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa for the first time a few weeks ago with my sister and it’s just as grand and luxurious as one would imagine and I cannot wait to share my wonderful dining experience with you all.

We were promptly lead through the house, into the tranquil gardens and taken into the foyer of The Dower House restaurant where we were offered the choice of eating indoors or choosing one of the many tables outside. Seeing as it was such a beautifully sunny and warm day we opted for the latter. The resident robin even joined us at our table on many occasions throughout our visit. You’d hasten to forget you were in the middle of a beautiful, busy and bustling city as it was just so relaxing and quiet in the grounds of the hotel.

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We were seated at our table and handed some menus to choose which type of afternoon tea we’d like and which blend of tea we want to accompany it as well. The Royal Crescent really do cater for everyone with their choices of afternoon teas. First up was the Royal Crescent Afternoon Tea (£37.50 per person) which they say is designed more for those with a savoury palate. The sandwich choices you receive with this are:

  • clarence court egg, smoked cheddar, spring onion and mustard cress.
  • Roast beef with a horseradish mayonnaise and watercress.
  • Corn fed chicken and a basil and lemon hummus.
  • And finally a smoked salmon sandwich with a lemon and chive cream cheese.

The savoury options for this particular afternoon tea are:

  • Smoked salmon toast, smoked paprika, lemon zest and topped with caviar.
  • A bite sized sausage roll topped with a honey and onion seed glaze.
  • Bath chap (which is a cut of pork) with a mustard mayonnaise, pickled radish and sorrel.
  • Cucumber filled with a caraway spiced goats curd and topped with a charcoal emulsion.
  • Saffron and honey yoghurt topped with mackerel tartar and a fennel and red onion salad.

This afternoon tea is then simply finished off with an individual verrine topped with a crescent biscuit, a warm scone, Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry preserve and a bath bun with cinnamon butter.

If you have a sweeter palate or want to opt for the more traditional afternoon tea, the Authentic Afternoon Tea (also £37.50 per person) This offers all the same sandwiches as above but rather than getting a plate of savoury minis you get seasonally changing homemade cakes, pastries and sweet delicacies.

If that’s not all they even offer a children’s Afternoon Tea (£19.50 per child) which I think is the sweetest idea. The thought of a little party of children dressed up in posh frocks and polished shoes having a fancy garden tea party makes even me feel gooey and smiling like the Cheshire cat.

My sister opted for the Royal Crescent Afternoon Tea and I chose to have the vegetarian one with a copious amounts of earl grey to wash it all down with. I really liked that, if you’re having an afternoon tea with someone you don’t necessarily have to have the same one. Makes life a lot smoother for those with dietary requirements as they also cater for those who are vegan or nut/gluten intolerant as well.

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The dainty finger sandwiches I had were filled to the brim of these delectable fillings:

  • Avocado, guacamole and mustard leaf.
  • Roast red pepper with a basil and lemon hummus.
  • Cucumber, dill, black pepper and lime
  • And finally it was a little tomato and chutney sandwich.

They were delightful, fresh and different to what you’d usually get with an afternoon tea which I really enjoyed.

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The savouries I had included in this afternoon tea were delicious and so different to what I was expecting. Starting from the top item at the back was a bite sized mushroom and truffle sausage roll topped with a honey and onion seed glaze. The depth of flavours from the rich umami flavours from the truffle and mushrooms to the sweet, delectable hit from the honey at the end really finished off this little treat.  To the right of that was a warm truffle, brie and grape tart. Brie and grape is just a marriage made in perfect food heaven, combine that with a warm, buttery pastry and you’ve got yourself this little bite of happiness. Beneath that is a savoury choux bun, something of which I had never tried before and was really intrigued by. It was filled with a mouthwatering tomato, basil and lemon cream making it such a lovely and delicate light bite. Next from that was a thick slice of cucumber, which had been partially hollowed out and filled with a caraway spiced goat’s curd and topped with a charcoal emulsion. This too was something I had come across nor tried before and was eager to try it for myself. It was refreshingly cool and wonderfully unique to something you’d expect to adorn your plate. I loved the addition of the very on trend charcoal emulsion as well. Last but definitely not least was the saffron and honey yoghurt you can see in the glass jar on the plate. The silky smooth yoghurt was topped with feta cheese, ribbons of red onion and a fennel salad. Before I start to sound like a broken record I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like the things I tried here. The amber hued yoghurt had the subtle floral flavours of saffron combined with the saltiness of the feta and the tartness of the red onion it was completely sublime. I don’t think I could have wolfed it down any faster!

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A close up shot of the saffron and honey yoghurt pot.

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The warm truffle, brie and grape tart in all its glory.

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In between the savoury and sweet tiers we had these delightful lime posset verrine’s topped with a crescent biscuit. It was gorgeously creamy and tangy serving as the perfect palate cleanser.

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Now moving onto the pinnacle of an afternoon tea, it’s not complete without scones with jam and clotted cream. Their warm scones were perfect, so you can just tear them in two with your hands. Whether you eat your scones with jam and cream or cream and jam; these’ll go down a treat.

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If these are new to you as well they are sweet enriched dough buns, studded with sultanas, sprinkled with sugar and a sugar lump placed in the middle.

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As you can see the sugar lump hidden inside the bath bun still remains nearly completely intact. These are perfect with lashings of jam and cream or slathered in cinnamon butter.

I absolutely loved my visit to The Royal Crescent Hotel and am definitely thinking about when I’ll next be returning or even sampling some of their main restaurant menu.

Pub Supper Box Review with UOpen*

Subscription boxes over the last few years have really had a giant surge of popularity; what’s there not to like about receiving a mystery parcel in the post once a month from yours truly?! With an abundance of different types available these days so whether you want to spoil a loved one with a fun gift or just treat yourself to a little something.

Recently I was contacted by a company called UOpen and they offer the biggest range of subscription boxes you could imagine. With such a wide variety of boxes they offer something for literally everyone and anyone. So whether you’re a fishing fanatic, crazy about cocktails or curious about crafting; the guys and gals at UOpen have got you covered.

UOpen offered me the chance of receiving one of their subscription boxes as a gift and I jumped at the chance quicker than you can say two for one on all cocktails for the rest of the night for people called Abbie. Staying in is the new going out; especially if you’re a billy no mates like me, so I picked the Pub Supper Subscription box to try out.  I wanted the pleasures of going out to my local pub (without the extortionate prices, sticky floors and fighting; and not just for a table) but all from the glorious comfort of my own home and sat on my sofa watching boxsets in my jammies. 

pub supper box

I love going to a pub. There’s far more enjoyment for me in a nice, cosy, old man pub with cheap pints and board games aplenty than in a packed out club or bar. If you sympathise with me here or maybe just know someone who’s a pub fanatic; this box might just be right up their alley.

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It costs £19.95 for a monthly payment per box in which you’ll receive roughly between 8-10 premium pub snack goodies. So it’s not just your bog standard soggy peanuts and a tiny packet of scampi fries round here. The box I received had a plethora of delights inside, the majority of which I can say I’ve never tried before. Unfortunately for me there were quite a lot of meat based items but as I was sharing this experience and all the contents with my family, they sampled all the things I could not.

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One of the first things that caught my eye was this packet of Brave roasted peas coated in a warm and spicy paprika and chilli flavouring. These little bites were super crunchy and super moreish; a little sprinkling in your hand just was not enough. They feel a lot healthier than snacking on some super salty peanuts so if you’re looking for something a little bit different instead to try to fill that savoury void these would be an excellent choice.

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But if nuts remain a pivotal part of your predrinks, feast your eyes on these Graze mixed nuts. You get chilli & Lime covered cashews and salt sprinkled peanuts and almonds. The chilli on the cashews is a little bit warm so if spice isn’t your thing, maybe stick to the peanuts and almonds. I love that this mix is a little bit different from what you’d usually find in a pub, bar or in the snacks aisle of a supermarket. And the chilli and lime flavours of this go so nicely with something tequila based or a light beer.

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I am not a fan of olives but I’m really glad these were included in my box as some people do actually like these sad salty grapes. Specifically those people being my sister and mum. They’re a popular bar snack and go nicely with most beverages.

 

What’s a party without gossiping over some wine and crisps?! First up was Scrubby’s Sundried Tomato and Basil flavoured hummus chips which I could have eaten a whole lorry load all to myself to be honest. I love hummus and I’ve tried a few different types of hummus crisps before but these ones were next level as they were complete with some top notch italian style flavours. Next was Nando’s very own Peri Peri grooves Spicy Chicken flavour potato crisps. I didn’t eat these (cos veggie) but even before I turned vegetarian I wasn’t a huge fan of chicken crisps but these smelt a whole lot better. More like Nando’s scent with a bit of chicken flavour as well. 

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I’ve had these salt and vinegar mini rice cakes before and they are absolutely gorgeous and I could easily scoff loads. You can get them in the bigger size or normal rice cake size as well which is the ones I’d usually opt for, but having this grab bag gave me more opportunity to shove more in my mouth than you should. These low cal snacks are perfect if you’re choosing to not have crisps but still want the acidic tang that salt and vinegar snacks give you.

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So I don’t want to keep banging the drum to the same tune here BUT I am vegetarian so I didn’t eat these. They’re a bit different as it’s something I didn’t imagine would be included. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m a veggie and don’t mix in the meat eating pub snacking circles so obvs it wouldn’t be something I’d choose for myself.

Last but not least in my pub subscription box were two different bags of pork scratchings. We had the Awfully Posh ones which were chilli and roasted garlic flavoured (fancy!) or the Mr.Porky crispy strips. Now to me this is a original classic for country pub snacks. In my local they have a massive glass barrel on the bar filled to the brim of pork scratchings.

On the whole, I really enjoyed the Pub Subscription box even though some of the items I received weren’t all 100% suited to my tastebuds; it provided a variety of different snacks to please a wide and varied crowd. Not literally obvs they’re not Jesus with their loaves of bread and a couple of fish. I’m sure if this was a service I kept up with ordering each month, there would be a whole host of different sweet or savoury snacks inside that would tickle even the fussiest of tastebuds.

Some people may argue that the price seems a bit steep but I think with these types of things it’s excellent if you’re having friends round for a party or if you are a pub connoisseur and to unwind in the evening in your arm chair with a nice bottle of something (no lambrini huns pls) and to delve deep into your monthly box. If you went to a pub with friends or picked up some new, fancy bits whilst food shopping and bought 8-10 different nibbles and snacks I don’t think you’d get much change out of a £20 either and this is delivered straight to your door in a nice big box too.

If I could change one thing about this I think it would be really nice to include what alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages would pair well with which snack. I think that would be a really nice added touch and tie the whole experience of it so well together. Other than that I really liked it.

With a snazzy subscription box like this in your home or ordered just for a special occasion; There’d certainly be no FOMO going on.

*I received this subscription box from Uopen in exchange for a review. As always my thoughts, feelings, opinions and images remain honest, genuine and my own.*

How To Make Homemade Smartie Cookies.

These sweet snacks used to be my absolute favourite treat when I was younger. After talking to my sister about them recently we discovered you cannot find them ANYWHERE. I looked all over and searched high and low in pretty much every supermarket and online (that’s how desperate I became for my sugary fix) and started to feel like this is the hidden conspiracy item or I was a victim of the Mandela effect; did they even exist? Did I make them up and had been living in a cookie induced lucid dream for years?!

Also, side note, if someone finds these being sold somewhere real soon I’m going to sound like such a weirdo conspiracy theorist aren’t I! If I get a comment from someone saying they bought these in Tescos just a few days ago I’m going to actually go mad. But anyway!

So I made some of my own that I think taste pretty similar to the real deal and how they used to taste but given the fact that it’s been the best part of about 10 years since I remember having one they might not be bang on but they still tasted pretty good so if you fancy making some of your own give this recipe beneath a go.

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Ingredients:

  1. 150g softened butter
  2. 150g soft light brown sugar
  3. 75g caster sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  5. 1 large Egg
  6. 250g plain flour
  7. 1 tsp baking powder
  8. A pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. (optional)
  9. smarties (other sugar shelled chocolates are also available)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and if you wanna be super organised (unlike me basically) line a baking tray as well.

  • Firstly, combine the softened butter and sugars in a large bowl. The more I’ve gotten into baking over the last few years, I think you actually really notice the difference when using cold butter, room temperature butter or softened in your bakes. By using room temp or softened butter it enables the sugar and butter to mix together a lot quicker and a lot easier. Plus it means you don’t have to have a mini bicep workout in the kitchen. In this recipe I used both white caster sugar and light brown sugar. The addition of the brown sugar gives the bake a darker golden colour and a slightly more fudgy taste.

 

  • Combine the egg and the vanilla extract together then pour into the sugar and butter mixture and stir until fully blended. Even though there’s a lot of sugar in these super sweet cookies by adding the vanilla extract gives the cookies an extra, deeper flavour throughout. Most supermarkets stock extracts or essences in the home baking aisle and if you want to make this recipe your own you could try using different flavourings like almond, coffee, caramel or even a salted caramel essence instead of vanilla.

 

  • Once all the wet ingredients are fully combined sift in the dry ingredients until it’s formed a dough like consistency. I added in the spices in at this point it’s completely optional I only used a small amount as I didn’t want it to overpower the whole thing but I felt that it just added a little something extra.

 

  • Place the dough in the fridge for about 30-40 minutes to let the flavours develop and the dough to harden up.

 

  • I sliced the cookie dough into 1 inch thick circles, rolled it into a ball between my hands and placed on a tray. I then pressed in a handful of smarties into the cookie and then baked for between 10-12 minutes until golden.

Perf with a cup of tea or glass of milk or eating every single one after the other when no is looking…

 

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Sweetcorn Chowder.

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*This post contains gifted items from Indigo Herbs however the words, pictures and opinions are all completely honest and mine*

Hello! I love soup. This isn’t how I start all conversations, but maybe it should be from now on..? But going back to my first point I really do love soup it’s probably one of my favourite things to cook if you can call throwing a load of veggies and spices into a big old pot and letting it simmer for a few hours before blending. Like howwwwww is this cooking?! Why when there are so many wonderful soups available to make is Gordon Ramsay so angry and stressed all the time when he can just throw some leeks and potatoes in a pot and put it on the heat and chillllllllll.

So I made a sweetcorn and apricot kernel butter chowder and it was just as fancy and delicious as it sounds. This was the second time in my life I had ever had sweetcorn chowder, the first time was when I was a lot younger and was on my lunch break and stumbled into a little cafe from the wintry rain. FYI I didn’t literally stumble, which is shocking given how clumsy I actually am.

I didn’t remember whether it was just because it was a cold, wet November day that the piping hot soup and thick crusty bread tasted so good or because it was genuinely really nice. But nevertheless I decided to retry this and make it for myself and my family.

This recipe is super simple and could feed a whole village (as long as the village had no more than 10). I like to double up on recipes like this in case someone wants seconds or even to have for a quick lunch the following day

I used:

  • 1kg frozen sweetcorn kernels. Tinned or fresh is also fab.
  • 1 large white onion finely diced.
  • 2 celery sticks finely chopped and diced.
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic.
  • 500g waxy potatoes. It was roughly about 3 medium sized potatoes if that’s any help!
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of apricot kernel butter. I used this one from Indigo Herbs which is very smooth and creamy.
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder.
  •  800ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tin of coconut milk.

Start off by putting the chopped onion, celery, garlic into a pot on the heat with a glug of oil for a few minutes letting it sweat off til it softens and goes a delicate golden colour.

From there add in the vegetable stock, coconut milk, salt and pepper, turmeric and the washed, peeled potatoes on a high heat Stirring it for a few minutes. The added coconut milk helps give it a rich sweetness but if you would rather not use this you could use regular cream, milk or leave it out altogether. Similarly this and the potatoes thicken up the whole soup.

Pour most of the sweetcorn into the pot but leave a generous handful behind. Leave that to simmer for about 30 minutes and using an immersion blender, blend until it’s smooth.

Adding in the Apricot kernel butter and the remaining corn kernels, stir and serve whilst still hot. By adding in the Apricot kernel butter it gives the soup a nutty savoury flavour as it can be quite sweet with all the coconut milk and corn it evens the whole thing out.

Perfect on a stormy evening in front of telly with a good series on if you ask me.

 

Nut & seed butter alternatives // Indigo Herbs *

 

Hiya! I hope you’re all well! I’m very excited to be sharing with you today the first of many posts I’ve written alongside a company called Indigo Herbs. Indigo Herbs is a health food company from one of my favourite places in the UK, set in the heart of Glastonbury in Somerset (if you’ve never visited, you definitely have to at least once! It’s the most unique town) They stock a wide range of organic Superfoods, high quality herbal powders, aromatherapy oils and Herbal Teas to name just a few. As someone who’s interested in health food and general health and well-being, I really love how informative their page is AND how great their prices are! It’s easy to spend a small fortune on health foods and as someone who used to work in a health food shop I know that before you know it you need a bank loan on just stocking up on good quality basic ingredients!

As I’m so passionate about wholefoods and health foods I was really happy to be able to work alongside Indigo Herbs and try out their range of nut and seed butters and share a whole host of different, easy recipes that literally anyone could do. I’m not the world’s greatest cook or baker but I really enjoy creating bakes in the kitchen (as long as it doesn’t take too long to clear up after as well) I love peanut butter I eat it with slices of apple, sandwiches, on toast, added into sauces or curries, mixed with porridge or brownie mixes or even straight from the jar with a big old spoon. Drooling at the thought I won’t lie. So I was super excited to be able to try this whole range; as a lot of it I hadn’t ever tried or used before. Plus I really LOVE the fact that their butters are all organic and raw so they’re still packed full of all the proteins, vitamins, minerals and nutrients and hasn’t been heat treated or lost in the process of making of them.

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So first of I’m going to start with the nut butters. I’ve tried almond butter before in the past but I’ve never had walnut butter or hazelnut butter.

Almond Butter:

Probably my favourite apart from the OG peanut butter. It’s rich, thick and creamy but not too sweet. High in Vitamin E, B Vits it’s a great source of dietary fibre and protein plus tastes great swirled through some brownies, banana bread or on a rice cake for a perfect afternoon snack.

Walnut Butter:

I had never tried (heard of) Walnut Butter until I tried this and I was actually really pleasantly surprised! I really like the taste of walnuts anyway I know some people find them quite bitter or like they kind of metallic/rancid taste to some of them which puts a lot of people off. I’ve found that the Lidl own brand ones are really nice and creamy tasting if the bitter taste you often can get puts you off! Nevertheless I was kinda expecting the familiar savouriness but it was creamy to start and had that bitter nut butter finish. Spread it generously on some toast and top with some berries and a drizzle of honey for a perfect, quick and different breakfast.

Hazelnut Butter:

If you’ve got a sweet tooth like me this’ll certainly be up your alley. It’s nice and sweet and speckled with those lush hazelnutty grains. Adding it to already chocolatey recipes like a breakfast cacao smoothie will be like you’re drinking a fresh glass of nutella in the morning. YUM.

Moving on from Nut Butters to their fellow seed butter pals (was I the only one who didn’t actually know this was a thing???) Maybe I just have my heads in the clouds but I didn’t realise what you could do with seeds other than sprinkle them on the top of some meals and bakes. But I’ve really enjoyed trying these, adding them to things I’ve baked or cooked and actually broadening my tastebuds.

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White Sesame Tahini:

This is deliciously creamy and is basically just milled sesame seeds until it forms a paste. You can add it to soups, as a salad dressing or if you’re as addicted to Hummus as I am this is a great tahini to use and it’s so simple to make. Just chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and oil, absolutely incredible if I do say so myself.

Black Sesame Tahini:

Just the same as white tahini but made with black sesame seeds. It’s rich in taste and in colour with a gorgeously glossy black shine to it. It’s full of B Vits, minerals and protein I love how it adds a really bold colour to bakes.

Sunflower Seed Butter:

This one I was most pleasantly surprised by it reminded me a little bit of peanut butter as it was smooth, creamy and sweet but much lighter and runnier in terms of texture compared to old faithful PB. Whether you use it for savoury or sweet cooking or baking, it adds a subtle creamy flavour. Perfect in cookies, hummus or in a dressing.

Apricot Kernel Butter:

Y’know those stones inside an apricot turns out they actually have uses. Who knew? Apricot kernels are high in vitamin E so it’s great for skin, hair and nails (eat it obvs don’t use it as a shampoo…Well you do you but it tastes good and I would probably recommend not putting on your face or hair ha!) It’s also quite rich in vitamin b17 which is a component of cyanide so best not to eat the whole jar. But then so are a lot of fruit seeds like apple pips so best to avoid those too if you can! On Indigo Herbs website they state it tastes sweet, rich and a bit like Amaretto and I TOTALLY got that. I dolloped some on top of a slice of wholemeal toast and ate it in about 7 seconds. Gurt lush.

Hemp Seed Butter:

I don’t really know much about the flavours of hemp, eating it or using it in cooking or baking. It’s really good for you, it’s a complete protein full of all the essential amino acids perfect as an energy source if you’re veggie or vegan or just want that added protein in your diet. Described on their website as peppery and creamy and it couldn’t have been more spot on. I added this into salad dressings and slathered it on the top of a cauliflower steak for a really unique, umami flavour profile.

Pumpkin Seed Butter:

Last and but by no means least is pumpkin seed butter. This taste just like pumpkin seeds with that similar smoky earthiness flavour to it. I used mine to make a pumpkin seed pesto pasta which was divine but if you wanted a sweeter flavour add some honey, maple syrup or some cinnamon and other spices!

Just to reiterate this was a gifted post courtesy of Indigo Herbs and the lovely Claire but all the thoughts and opinions throughout are honest and genuine. I really hope you enjoyed this post as much as I loved taste testing these! I’m so excited to share more nutty and seedy butter recipes with you all very soon!

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you hadn’t already noticed I have a huge sweet tooth and is there a better way to spend an evening than sinking into the sofa for The Great British Bake Off semi finals this evening than in front of the fire with a big plate of gorg homemade cookies.

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These are a firm family fave and taste beaut cooled slightly straight from the oven when they’re all soft, warm and fudgy still.

They’re super simple to make and you could do it all in one big bowl so less washing up is always a winner. This recipe makes roughly 12 cookies. If you’re an ultra organised person this the type of thing you could make and then roll into a sausage shape and freeze and cut off a slice when you fancy a cookie (like you’d only have one???) Or even just have as cookie dough.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • 125g softened butter.
  • 100g soft light brown sugar.
  • 125g golden caster sugar.
  • 1 egg.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 225g plain flour.
  • 200g chocolate chips/chunks/ a bar cut into shards.

HOW TO:

First off preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray.

Cream together the butter and the sugars until fully combined. I’ve used a combination of light brown sugar and golden caster sugar to give it that slightly darker colour and also to make the texture a bit gooey and fudgier.

To that add in the beaten egg and the vanilla.

Sift in the plain flour and then add in the chocolate chips. I actually used a dark chocolate because that is my favourite. Plus I really like the combo of the sweet cookie and the bitter dark chocolate. If dark chocolate isn’t your fav, once you’ve got the basic cookie recipe down you can swap things around to please yourself, like white chocolate and a cranberry, milk chocolate and fudge pieces, a swirl of nutella and some chopped hazelnuts, or one of my faves, a piece of dairy milk caramel shoved in the centre so when you bite into it you’ve got that delicious gooey middle. YUM.

Using a tablespoon I scooped up some of the dough and then using my hands, rolled it into a ball shape pressing it down on the top slightly as I did so.

Putting it in the oven to bake for about 8-9 minutes so they are still warm and soft in the middle. Leave to bake and set up in the oven a few minutes longer if you want a crispier bake and it’s golden around the edges.

I swear the time waiting for them to cool are almost as long as treadmill minutes??? I sprinkled them with some sea salt and served. Nigella who?!

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What’s your cookie of choice?

MUCH LOVE. x