You can ring my bell – Eight Bells Inn, Chipping Camden (Church St, GL55 6JG)

We walked into this cosy pub in the heart of beautiful Chipping Camden where a warm welcome was chirped from behind one of the six hand pumped beers.  I thought as we entered, we have stuck gold looking around this low-beamed bar complete with a roaring fire but best of all was the fabulous smell of something delicious being cooked in the kitchen.   On first impressions it seemed impossible to not love this  Cotswolds village inn; please don’t let the food change our first impressions.

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The Eight Bells was a welcome relief after only 50 yards from here we first stumbled into the Lygon Arms, which may be a popular Racing UK venue, but the menu and atmosphere was less than enticing.

We found a table and considered as we were dining at 8.00pm at Charingworth Manor later and it was already 2.00pm we order a lighter lunch of sandwiches, but could not resist a portion of their chips.  The decision to choose sandwiches was not an easy one whilst we watched our fellow diners tuck into a huge Lamb Shank and Hook Norton Beer Battered Cod but we stayed strong.

We ordered a couple of pints of the aforementioned Hooky from Hook Norton  the pubs most local brewery (about 20 miles east) and what a great pint of golden and maltyness. The pub is lovely and we pleased to have found a seat across from the a roaring fire.

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Perfect Pint of Hooky by Hook Norton

Did you know that Hook Norton still deliver to some local pubs by Shire Horse and Dray? If you in the area it would be worth checking the Hook Norton site to see if you can see these beautiful horses in action.

This inn was busy with a gentle hum which felt very calming or maybe it was the pint of Hooky giving the soothing effect – either way we had found a real gem in this corner of the Cotswolds which has a fabulous atmosphere.

Our lunches were served and both were presented neatly with no fuss or garnish on the plate. I’m never sure how I feel about a lack of green on a plate but in the interests of zero waste I trust the Chef to waste any leaves (I hasten to add you can top your order for an extra mix of salad and chips).    The chips were golden and tasty – crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

David loved the Brie and Bacon Ciabatta as it had a great balance of filling to bread and was oozing with hot creamy brie over thick slices of quality back bacon.  What was unexpected was the apple chutney which really added to the mixture and made this creamy, meaty sandwich a ten out of ten for him.

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Brie and bacon ciabatta

The rare roast-beef, was as ordered rare, all too frequently we are promised this but served overcooked but not today.  With lots of peppery rocket, and sweet and spicey horseraddish all in a crunchy ciabatta (did you know ciabatta was commercially only introduced to the UK in 1985 by M&S). This was looking good and it tasted good too but the beef was fighting for its place in the flavour race as it was quite thinly sliced. It was a real shame as they advertise the sandwiches as hearty.  On a positive the beef was tender and of good quality.  Just more slice of beef for the £7.95 would have seemed fairer and given a perfectly filled and balanced sandwich.

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Rare roast beef sandwich

The bill was just under £27 for the two of us before a tip so reasonable value. We really enjoyed our visit to the Eight Bells and next time we are going to Cheltenham we will definitely make a point of calling in and trying their main courses.  If we are organised enough (this pub has 6 gorgeous en-suite rooms which book fast) we would like to stay here so we can sample some more of their excellent kept beer.

So if you are a regular visitor to Cheltenham races I would recommend you put this lovely 17th century inn on your list of considerations, with its beautiful setting and 4 star rooms and a concise and varied menu that is reasonably priced oozes confidence .

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Anzac Biscuits; easier to bake than going to the shops

It was an autumnal Sunday afternoon and after watching Super Sunday, which was a disappointing match (that goal was never offside) I decided we needed cheering up with a cup of tea and a treat.  I could not be bothered to go to the shops for a pack of biscuits on this wet and chilly day so I reached for Mary Berry’s bible to find inspiration.

The first one I turned to was Anzac Biscuits.  It was fate as these are childhood favourites of mine and Mum used to make these moreish biscuits on a regular basis. I probably have not eaten these since I was in primary school. These biscuits are now all about comaraderie and the were originally  baked in Australia and New Zealand to honour the soldiers from the battle of Gallipoli. They were great to bake during rationing as the binding agent is syrup instead of eggs and they are super easy to make without any kitchen wizardry. 

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I fired up the oven and greased my fabulous Bake-Off baking sheet; I love this adonised aluminium baking sheet and really regret not buying another back in 2015.

The ingredients you will need are:

  • 150g (5oz) butter cubed (to speed up dissolving)
  • 1 dessert spoon of Golden Syrup
  • 1 dessert spoon of Maple Syrup
  • 175g (6oz) Sugar (split between Demerara and Golden Caster)
  • 75g (3oz) Self-raising flour
  • 75g (3oz) desiccated coconut
  • 100g (4oz) porridge oats
  • Equipment you will need are 3 baking sheets, small or medium pan, cooling racks and small palette knife or spatula.

The method is so simple, it’s easier than going to the shops to buy biscuits – just follow these steps:

  1. Turn your oven on to setting 160°c fan or gas mark 6
  2. Lightly grease 3 baking sheets
  3. Melt the butter, sugars and syrups in a pan and melt until melted / dissolved
  4. Add the dry ingredients (SR flour, coconut, porridge oats)
  5. Mix your dry into your wet ingredients and stir until combined well
  6. Spoon a heaped teaspoon onto trays (about 9 per tray) and pressing each one with the back of a spoon to flatten slightly.wp-1477239462139.jpg
  7. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  8. Once baked (edges will be a golden brown) leave for 2 minutes to cool slightly before moving onto your cooling racks.

Store in an air tight container if you can resist eating them all before they have cooled.

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Louise x

 

Sam Smiths Spread Eagle (Nostell/Wragby Wakefield) This is no euphemism 

It was a hot summer bank holiday (yes you read correctly) and a restless couple recovering from a busy family weekend felt indecisive. Then in a moment of clarity and a desire to enjoy this sun we headed to Nostell  Priory on foot to walk in their beautiful grounds.  We set off then after about 15 minutes and despite all good intentions and previous refusals, I was convinced we should try the Spread Eagle for lunch.  My hesitation was maybe unjust but I had they worst glass of red wine in a Sam Smiths pub in Durham; and I have drunk Retsina.  We headed into the pub and out into the beer garden to find a bench with a wonderful views.

We ordered two pints, one being a beer shandy for myself as there was really no other choice as I find the Sam Smiths range of soft drinks dreadful.   We had already agreed we would play it safe with a cold lunch, despite the pull of a venison burger, we ordered two sandwiches – resisting a bag of crisps (my achilles heel, if you thought Brad Pitt played a weak man, well trust me, he ain’t got nothing on me when it comes to those bags of saturated fat).

Our sandwiches, tuna fish and a ham salad, were delivered to our table about 15 minutes later by a smiley and helpful young lady.  Both sandwiches were presented pleasantly, had an unexpected garnish of crisps and salad (bang goes my syn limit for the weekend – put it in front of me and I will eat it).

The granary bread has a great crunchy crust and held its own against my hungry grip, and tasted as good.  Both we filled well and topped with fresh and crisp salad – a real winner and a pleasant surprise.

 We had two pints for under a fiver – a true bargain; the Yorkshireness is taking over in this Cheshire imigrant.

Lovely view.

Summer time pints at the Spread Eagle

 

The proof in the pudding will be when we visit to try their Sunday lunch – to me this is the true test of a good pub as if you cannot offer a good sandwich, pie and roast dinner you should not be offering food.

We enjoyed our visit to the Spread Eagle as the pub is clean, has good staff (whom clearly take pride in their work) and it offers good pub food at a reasonable price and would recommend if you are visiting the local area and are in need of a refreshment you consider this pub.

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Sunday Chorizo Brunch from Delia Smith

Isn’t it funny how we can forget about dishes in our repitoire and they disappear into fond food memories.  Well today, I decided to revisit this wonderful dish that I disovered via my first food hero Delia.  My bookshelves are full of her books but this new wonder foodie resource DeliaOnline has become a go to for me.

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Delia recommends a shallow gratin dishe measuring 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, which will hold one or two eggs I use my Falcon enamel round pie dish or the recatangular version.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 75g of Chorizo (today I used a cheat)
  • Red pepper (cut in half, quarters then sliced thinley into lengths)
  • Onion (medium sliced in spears)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (chopped)
  • 4-5 Really ripe tomatoes *
  • 3-4 free range eggs
  • 50g Cheddar or any good melting cheese
  • Shot of Dry Sherry; this is optional
  • Salt and pepper

 

Method

Step 1 turn your oven on to 180ºc (fan) or gas mark 4.

Step 2 deseed the pepper, remove the white flesh cut in half, then quarters and slice finely into lengths.

Step 3 Peel your onion and cut in half and cut into thin spears.
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Step 4 Boil your kettle and put the tomatoes into a large (1 litre Pyrex jug) and cover the tomatoes.  Within 1 minute they will be ready to be skinned.  Some of the skins might be difficult to remove, I leave the odd bit on.  (Delia removes the seeds I prefer to leave the seeds in; each to their own).

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Peeling tomatoes

Step 5  next chop the tomatoes  into pieces and then finely chop the garlic.
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Step 6 heat a pan (I used a small wok for this dish) with about a tablespoon of oil (I used rapeseed) when the oil is hot add the chorizo pieces to brown them off, I added a slug of Oloroso Sherry just to make it that little bit more spanish.  Once cooked off I then place these into the dish I am going to use.

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Dry sherry

Step 7  Add the onion and pepper to the pan and cook on a high heat, until  they are starting to soft with brown edges – this will take about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickeness of the slices.

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Step 8 add tomatoes

Step 8 add the chopped tomatoes and garlic and cook for 1 minute more and return the browned chorizo to the pan.  Give it a good turn around to meld all the flavours.

Step 9 season well with freshly ground salt and black pepper.

Step 10 take the pan off the heat heat and place the mixture  in the dish.  Break your eggs into the dish (as I am using a one pot I space these out equally) .  If you use indiviudal dishes then sit you eggs side by side on top of the mixture.

Step 11 now you should have the mixture with eggs sat on top so season and sprinkle each one with your grated cheese.

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Ready to bake

Step 12  place the dish or dishes on the baking sheet on the top shelf of the oven to cook for 12-15 minutes (or a little longer, depending on how you like your eggs).

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Thanks for reading my blog and I would love to read your comments. If you like my blog then you can follow me on Twitter @EatBakeBlogGB or read my restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor.

Happy blogging.

Louise x

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