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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The Fossgate Social (25 Fossgate York) Lives up to its name

Following a great weekend of racing at the fabulous York Racecourse and breaking even despite our best efforts, we wandered around York city seeking a independent eatery for our late luncheon.  Our wandering around was soon rewarded when we came across The Fossgate Social.

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The venue was buzzing, perfectly volume for a lazy Sunday.  Ts and the looming black clouds we avoided the rear terrace and headed upstairs to the first floor and secured a table for two.

David was quick to chose after  short discussion but sadly our neighbours broke the news the meatball sandwich was sold out – good going for 1:45pm  We were tempted by the Mountain Valley Brunches (see board above and I would ask for this you go) but after the weekend’s excesses we played it safe.  David ordered the Ham & Cheese Toasted Sandwich with full grain mustard served on Haxby Bakehouse with beetroot and juicy gherkin on the side.  I decided a Bacon Sarnie  with Tomato Relish was going to hit the spot.  I placed our order at the bar, the staff were instant to acknowledge me and let me know they’d be with me soon and they were.  They took the order and asked if we could wait 20 minutes for the order.  This to me is always a comforting sign, as any good food is always worth the wait.

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When our orders arrived on first look neither of us were disappointed, despite going for the less decadent options.  The bacon was thick and just salty enough and had been cooked well done, as requested.   The tomato relish was divine – as much as I love tomatoes I never have really enjoyed them in relish form until today.  My only mistake was not asking the sociable team where the relish came from or what it was made with.

Cost for 2 drinks (Fentimans Ginger beer and Magic Rock Grapefruit Highwire) and our snacks came to a reasonable £16.  I would comment Highwire is a premium craft beer and this pushed the price up, the food would have been about £11.00)

Fossgate Social is a fabulous independent cafe /bar and I am not concerned I did not ask about the relish as it just gives us another reason to return

 

Raddison Blu (Manchester) – Left me feeling blu

To me what defines a hotel is it’s ability to offer you a home away from home; somewhere you don’t mind being away from your own bed.

It’s not often we stay in 5-Star hotels in a month  so when we do we expect it to be better than we are used to.

I am not unrealistic but what really is the key for a great hotel I think are these five key components :

  1. Great bed as described – double or king as booked, reasonably firm with soft sheets and good pillows
  2. Bathroom – which is well maintained and as clean as a new pin
  3. Controllable heating and lighting
  4. Accessible plug points
  5. Breakfast better than I would have at home

The Raddison Blu had 1 out of 5.

From the beginning there were warning signs – check in was slow; I have boarded a jumbo jet faster, checked into several Vegas hotels faster (possibly one of the busiest cities in the world)  – so why was this so slow?  Probably due to a lack of concierge; as there appeared to be a lot of chat about other stuff by the reception staff.    James, who checked us in, was charming but missed out a key fact – read on to find out about his blunder.

Bedroom: the room was a good size with a good view of the city.  The television did not represent the room size (I can’t find my photo, but trust me it was really small) and yet again we had two singles pushed together!  I do not understand why hotels of this calibre cannot offer couples a bed to share rather than pushing two twins together.  We use the Premier Inns and they can offer double beds as standard.  Again we paid and booked a double room so very disappointed.

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Bathroom : was just ok, yet again evidence of mould/mildew – not cool.The shower was effective and easily controlled. The dresser area was good with the exception of the stool; which was quite old and frayed around the edges. Something you may accept in a low-end B&B but in a 5-Star hotel?

Radisson Blu Dresser
Radisson Blu Dresser

Cocktails : We were dining at James Martin’s so we had some pre-dinner cocktails in the Champagne Bar – that is after the 15  minutes that it took for the waiter to take our order. Why offer a waiting service when it would be quicker to stand at the bar as we witnessed (we were seated by a Maitre’d so no excuses) – the cocktails were good but the choice was not as expansive as compared to other hotels of a similar standard.

Breakfast : we turned up for breakfast around 830am only to be asked by the Maitre’d if we had booked for breakfast (something James had omitted to tell us was advised for this hotel upon our arrival).  It was clear the compact area they serve breakfast in could only seat a small percentage of the hotel capacity. We complained, explaining to the hostess that this was never mentioned at check-in. Under some duress she found us a table but only after telling us several times “we are really busy this weekend”. I would imagine most city hotels around the world are very busy most weekends!

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Breakfast queue

We were served our tea, which after some considerable time would not brew a deeper shade of warm milk.  I am sure Newby of London is an excellent brand but it was just not to my taste or maybe it requires two teabags per pot!   I made my way to the breakfast buffet and really wished we had not bothered.  We were greeted by greasy potatoes, overcooked sausages, cremated bacon and  dried up scrambled eggs and luke warm baked beans.

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Enough was enough.  We abandoned breakfast and sought out the duty manager as I had to share my feelings and disappointment. I was genuinely offended that the Radisson Blu think this standard of breakfast for (£15 / person) is acceptable from such a prestigious brand.   We had a conversation about all of the above and the outcome was we were refunded for our breakfast as a token gesture.

I cannot not recommend the Radisson Blu Manchester. The staff were underwhelming in the face of any adversity they claimed.  The overall offering we experienced was substandard compared to other 5-star  hotels within the City.  Especially, those that offer better prices with better breakfasts that do not have the mantra “we are very busy this weekend”.

 

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.

Ego at The Beverly Arms

It’s no Ego trip (Donaster Road, Ackworth)

This review focuses on our first impression of Ego at the Beverley Arms  and a few comments on our subsequent visits.

We booked in on day 3 of trading at the newly opened Ego at the Beverley Arms.   We arrived at 730pm and were quickly seated our drinks order was taken about 15 minutes later.  There is a lovely buzz about the place with a hint of chaos from a new team which added to the excitement and anticipation.  I am craving an excellent restaurant locally and hope this fits the bill.  However they clearly can seat over 100 covers so I hope they have the experienced team to handle this with their extensive menu.

Around 745pm we placed our order from the a la carte menu ordering the Chicken and Rosemary Pate and Moules Marinieres to start. Followed by Moroccan Lamb  Tanjine and Iberian Belly Pork, served on a bed of spinach with black pudding.

The starters arrived around 15 minutes, they were nicely presented (although no finger bowl for the Moules!). The Pate was very chilled so the flavour was lost and the toasted bread  was not really toasted.  The moules, a starter portion was served in a main course bowl #disappointment. The upside was they were juicy and the mariniere sauce was creamy with just enough garlic so they can be forgiven what I see as teething problems.  I do hope the Head Chef orders some small pots to avoid disappointing their diners.

The main course arrived an hour after our initial order.  The Moroccan Lamb was well presented in the Tajine.

Ego at The Beverly Arms
Lamb Tajine

The was no shortage of olives in this dish, the cous-cous, as promised was lightly buttered (and very fluffy), the vegetables were tasty in the rich sauce, the lamb however as tougher than you’d expect for a slow cooked dish.  There was plenty of tzatziki and corriander to compliment.  Overall this dish was tasty – however – I think it is overpriced at £15.95 considering the lack of provenance and the average quality of the lamb.

David enjoyed his belly pork – the sauce was rich and pork was tender and had a wonderfully crisp top. Again though the pricing is high, you can find similar dishes and more plentiful plates for less (consider this is not served with any vegetables or carbohydrates).

The Dauphinoise Gratin was a fraud it was more like Lyonnaise Potatoes; in summary it was cheesy potatoes – not the wonderfully rich creamy garlic dish you’d expect.

Dauphinoise Potatoes
Dauphinoise Potatoes at £3,25 (that’s a desert spoon for reference)!

It was quite late by the time we finished our mains so we did not order a further course or coffee.

Overall we were not bowled over by Ego at the Beverley Arms, I think  the Ego brand may think they are stronger than they are. In my opinion they have some evolving to do.   We paid over £50 (inlcuding a small carafe of red wine) and in my experience I have paid less for more.  In future, we will dine on their special nights as their main course prices match that of a an established city restaurant with great service.

Our second experience was on the steak night this improved upon our first visit. The latest visit was for a family meal for 8 which was better than our first trip but still a long way off, stronger service is needed again the gap between starters and mains was noticible with no apologies and we were left alone far too long with regards to drinks orders as not all the party were wine drinkers.

I give Ego 3 out of 5 and hope that this soon will improve and would recommend you try but if you are too a keen cook you may wish to book in for a specials night first.

If you like my reviews you will find more on Trip Advisor or follow me on Twitter @LouiseWinder

Louise x

#EatBakeBlog