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

 

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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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Lemon Drizzle Traybake – #zestybaker

Never baked Lemon Drizzle before yesterday  but a dear colleague is moving on to new challenges and this cake is her favorite.  It’s taken me a while to find the elusive 30 x 23 cms tray that Mary Berry uses  (if you follow me on twitter you may have caught my grumblings).   I was tempted to pimp this but i’m playing safe today.

So what next…

Grease and line your  30 x 23 cms tin with baking parchment/paper (remember, if you use larger tin you wont get the same rise).  Line your tin I and heat your oven to 140°c (fan) or Gas mark 3 then weigh out and prepare your ingredients but hold on for the crunchy topping.

You will need

  • 225g Softened Butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 275g Self-raising flour
  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of milk
  • finely grated rind/zest of 2 lemons

For the crunchy topping you will need

  • 175g granulated sugar (beware not to use a finer grade or you will not get the crunch)
  • Juice of 2 lemons (beware to to use large lemons – read on to see why)
  1. Measure the butter, caster sugar, SR flour, baking powder,eggs, milk and lemon zest/rind into your bowl and beat until well blended.  Remember your butter must be soft to touch before your start this process.
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  2. Turn your mixture into the greased/lined tray and gently level
  3. Place the tray in the oven on a middle shelf for 35-40 minutes – or until the cake has pulled back from the sides of the tin and if you gently press the middle if fingertips you see it spring back
  4. Leave the bake in the tin to cool for five minutes.
  5. When times up, turn it out on a cooling rack and carefully peel the parchment/paper from the base and leave to cool further
  6. Make your crunchy topping by mixing the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to give a runny mixture
  7. Spoon this over the cake while it is still warm
  8. Cut into squares once cold.
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Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake by EatBakeBlogBG

Lessons learnt

My oven was slightly too hot – school girl error – always check your temperature or expect that doming.

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The lemons, despite being fabulously juicy, produced a lot of juice which is never a bad thing.   However  I think the amount of juice they produced took the crunch from the topping – too much juice to sugar.  It could also have been that the bake was too warm and melting the sugar .  What I do know is that baking is a learning curve and next time I will measure juice to try and find that perfect mix and use a more averaged size lemon.  In the meantime a cheats sprinkle of granulated the morning after gave these the crunch they deserved.

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Big juicy lemons – too much juice to sugar for the topping

Every cloud has a silver lining as these lemons gave me an incredibly zest and moist lemon drizzle and I look forward to baking this again but next time with some savory thyme.

Hope you like this and my pictures and if you try this with a twist then please share your thoughts.

If you like my blog why not follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Louise x

EatBakeBlogGB

 

Return to Ego (@Beverley Arms Ackworth)

We returned to Ego on Thursday as we  needed a pick-me-up and I really fancied a good steak.

Thankfully, Ego were able to accommodate us at short notice which was a surprise as they are incredibly popular mid-week which I attribute to their specialist offers.  Tonight was Kebab night, and before you ask I do not mean Donner, I could have been tempted to falter from my desire for steak.

We were  greeted cheerily by one of the hosts and were offered a choice of table by the window (I much prefer this area, as I am not a fan of some of other areas of the restaurant which have a little too much atmosphere).

We do rate Ego and the main reason is for the great staff, they are warm and friendly and when it counts bold and not afraid to deal with issues where so many hide or mismanage. The customer service skills of this team are a credit to the restaurant and their infrequent weakness in the kitchen are forgiven for deftness of the front of house team.

The food ordered was the chicken Liver and rosemary pate and deep fried brie for starters. Then for our mains I ordered the fillet steak with skin on chips and David ordered the lamb rump with risotto and green and spring onion pesto.

The starters we served, the pate was very chilled as before I wish the kitchen would hold this back and let it reach somewhere near room temperature.  Maybe if they made this in a terrine and served a slices this could achieved.  If you like me believe certain foods taste best at certain temperatures you might like this article .  The pate as it warmed tasted great, although the rosemary as not detectable –  I am assuming this rosemary was only present in the butter used to seal the pate.   The marmalade of chilli tomato as a side was left by me but it was very much enjoyed by David – he preferred this with his creamy brie over the orange and apricot marmalade he was served.

Our mains were served and the steak looked good. It was cooked to order medium-rare with a lovely rocket garnish a garlic dressed plum tomato and a dish of skin on chips.  The fillet had good crunch on the outside with a pink and rare centre. I get so fed up of being served overcooked steaks #Cowshed

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The only extra not welcome on this plate was the huge chip – which is not on my shoulder!  Shame  the chef let a meal leave his kitchen like this.

David’s dish of Lamb Rump was tender and cooked medium and sat on a rich and creamy risotto finished with zesty pesto (and no chips in sight).

Our bill came to £50 which included 3 drinks and after our Ego discount was applied.

The quality remains to be good at Ego one day I look forward to them having local produce on the menu.  We will continue to support our local restaurant and hope that the kitchen team can raise their game to mirror the A team working front of house.

If you’d like to read more of my food adventures your can follow me on Twitter or Instagram.

Louise

 

 

The Cow Shed (Northgate, Wakefield); meat me elsewhere

Our greeting upon arrival on a snowy Wednesday night in February was not the best.  I can only assume the waiter had just had some bad news.  The word “disengaged” is the best way of describing his demeanor.

We were shown to the seating  area on the first floor, as the table before us was running behind and about 15 minutes later we were at our table.  We ordered a glass of red (£6.25) and a bottle of Speckled Hen (£4.00)  which were served without so much a word, or a smile – I hoped this was not an omen of things to come.

The atmosphere was lacking on this snowy Thursday night especially after the early bird diners had gone us a’la carte diners were left quite alone.  The barn upstairs looks lovely on first impressions, but it needs a bit of TLC on the decor and a full rather draft cracks sealing up.

The starters we chose were Duck and Port Parfait with ginger marmalade and toasted ciabatta (£6.95) – the parfait was overpowered by the jam it was too sweet and sticky for this delicate and smooth parfait.    David ordered the Brie (£5.95) it was deep-fried, the story ends there, it was unmemorable which is a travesty for any piece of cheese.

The owners of the restaurant talk about local produce, however there is no reference to the provenance of the produce which is infuriating when we have some many great butchers and farms to be proud of within  a short distance.  Surely, you would be proud and publish your partnerships?

The fillet I had ordered (medium to rare) had good flavour, but this was undone as it had been overcooked.   As someone who cook’s a fillet or rump steak nearly every Saturday night I would say this had come straight off the grill without being rested; the meat was dry with no juice.  The Rib Eye with Blue Cheese again was flavoursome but too dry .  The side of peppercorn sauce (£1.55) which was so so.

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When I dine out I want to be wowed.  I expect a professional chef to be able to cook a steak to order and to know to let it rest.  It might have been the end of a busy service but there was no pressure from the dining room as it was now quiet so no excuses.

Total bill was £70.65 excluding service.

What is interesting is this restaurant continues to be a success in Wakefield where others have failed.  All I can think is that the good people of Wakefield have not had a great steak cooked to perfection.    For now we will continue to either eat steak at home or dine at Goucho in Leeds.

Thyme Bistro (Cannon Hall Barnsley); a refreshing change

Our first trip to the lovely Thyme Bistro at Cannon Hall was a refreshing change as so many times this type of venue with captive audiences fail; read more to find out why I rate Thyme Bistro.

We arrived about 1245 and were advised there was about a ten minute wait for a table and were shown to the patio area; where we enjoyed the views and perused the menu .

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We were seated close to the counter displaying their wonderful choice of sweet treats; which already had caught the Ord brothers eyes. The bistro has a lovely buzz and considering it is very child friendly you are not deafed by the excitement of little ones.  The bistro is clean, light and bright. The offer free WiFi throughout and a seperate dining area for those with dogs (clever idea).

Our waitress took the table’s order of five meals; two of which were specials and one kids meal and all choices were available.  Not long after two of the specials were removed from the blackboard (good to see this being updated for incoming diners).

Two of the five specials ran out by 1pm – this must be a good sign?

Our meals were served within 20 minutes and the first to arrive was David’s Battered Haddock which was setting the bar on  looks.  Served with hand cut chips and mushy peas (as sponsored by illy) and good portion of tartare sauce looked good value at £9.95.  The batter was golden and the fish was moist and flakey as were the chips which were superb; as good as you should expect in a gastro-pub. The only irritation was the peas in an espresso cup (nearly as annoying as slates instead of plates).

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My order of the Cajun Chicken Burger was topped with bacon, cheese served with and hand cut chips and corriander soured cream – an  impressive stack.  I would have removed the bacon to reduce the calories  but  it was encrusted in the cheddar which was in turn melted to the chicken so I enjoyed it in all its glory.  The chicken was moist, the only issue was it lacked spice this maybe due to the flavour being overpowered by the cheddar and bacon.  Yet again the chips were spot on just a shame the chose to serve a soggy and slightly rotting salad garnish.  If it was my choice I would have served the Cajun burger with less cheese and let the spices do the talking.

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A good choice of hot and cold drinks are available and for the real ale lover they offer,albeit bottled, Black Sheep.  I enjoyed a fantastic illy cappuccino.

Overall I think pricing is fair for the quality.  Service is with a smile although we did note some misunderstandings within the team and it would be interesting to see if they can handle the pressure on a sunny day when there are more dinners.  

My recommendations to the Thyme Bistro would be to lose serving peas in coffee cups, ensure your garnish is not decaying and be bold with your spices.

Overal I recommend you dine at Thyme. We will be returning for seconds and hope that next time it deserves full points.

 

If you’d like to read more of my food adventures you can follow me on Twitter @EatBakeBlogGB  or Instagram with my reviews published on TripAdvisor as Louise Winder.

Louise x
http://www.LouiseWinderFoodAndTravel.com

#EatBakeBlogGB

 

Bill’s Breakfast Breakdown (Dale Street Manchester)

This has always been our go to place when travelling around the UK.  So far we have been to Bill’s at Brighton, Cheltenham, Durham, York, Leeds and now Manchester.

We went here for breakfast on Sunday morning instead of having the £20 full English at the Lowery Hotel; we just could not imagine how they could deliver such an outstanding breakfast when the hotel is lacking in its former glory, but that is another review.

We arrived at 10am and were promptly seated.  The restaurant was very quiet; we must have missed the Sunday rush!

We ordered a pot of Tea for one, an Americano,  two of Bill’s Breakfast £7.95 (one with a side/extra of Crispy Potato at £1.25 and one a side/extra of Black Pudding at £1.50) which we would  share.

Drinks arrived soon after with our breakfasts following about 5 minutes later.

When we first started going to Bill’s I am sure you got two of each of  your extras with regards the potato and black pudding (and David assures me it was the case and my memory is not failing me). I’m not sure that at £1.50, a slice even with overheads that is a fair deal for a slice fat!  Especially if it is killed through overcooking!

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The more I think, the more I do not see Bill’s as being good value.  If you took off the black pudding we are paying £8 for two eggs, effectively one sausage, 3 pieces of streaky bacon (the cheapest cut of bacon) the smallest tomato  half, and two pieces of small-ish toasted bread (the eggs are small; so use this as a guide if you require more evidence).

We regularly have breakfast at two beautiful farm shops in Yorkshire that have won awards for their quality and they charge £9.00 for their full english – with no extra’s to pay for (see picture 2).

Quality is hit and miss. Sometimes you get crispy bacon and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you get soft eggs and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you get a soft and juicy tomato and sometimes you get an unripe under-cooked version but most of the time you do get overcooked Black Pudding!

On a positive note the staff were friendly and the toilets are generally spotless.

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Picture 1 Bills Breakfast and Picture 2 Farm Shop Breakfast the latter is cheaper.

My final observation we always have to wait for a table at our local establishments (they both hold about 50 covers) unlike Bill’s which in the last year I have not seen busy at breakfast…now that may be coincidence but I doubt that considering how many branches we have been to.  What is consistent is Bill’s inconsistency which is quickly relegating this from being our  go-to place for breakfast.

 

Cost £22.70 (before service) as at March 2016

If you’d like to read more of my reviews then you could follow me on Twitter @EatBakeBlogUK

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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