Category Archives: Food

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

I’ve been a huge fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall since the first series of River Cottage in 1997. I’ve fully bought into his snout-to-tail grow-your-own ethos and I love his enthusiasm for good food, be it farmed, foraged or from the high street. This month I had the good fortune to make my third pilgrimage to River Cottage HQ, near Axminster on the Devon-Dorset border.

The River Cottage dining experiences are not a budget affair, though they do represent good value for money, especially if you’re a bit of a foodie.

My first visit to River Cottage HQ was in 2008, it was a gloriously boozy meal, where strangers became friends, bonding over their shared love of Hugh and everything he stands for. It was a wonderful summers evening, we toured the garden, snaffled a few pea pods straight from the plant, ate canapés in the yurt and had the best meal I’ve ever eaten. Ever. 

This November I visited River Cottage HQ with my friends Claire (Good Egg Foodie) and Rachel (Vintage Folly), we were there to experience a River Cottage HQ Dining Event for ourselves. 

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

As a River Cottage veteran (I must be now, surely?) I knew the drill. I knew the tractor would meet us at the top and bump us down the hill to the farm, I knew we’d need sensible shoes and that glamming up too much might result in muddy sequins by the end of the night. I knew the drinks would be local and well chosen, I knew the food would have been grown, born or raised on the farm, and if not foraged or farmed nearby. I knew it would be excellent, and it was.

However, we messed up and arrived late. The gathering darkness brought with it a storm and we missed the tractor. We had to make our way down the muddy hillside track on foot; but we were warmly greeted, given a hot cuppa and a little canapé to nibble on. Once we’d thawed out we explored River Cottage HQ as much as we could in the dark and the wet. Thankfully I have two warm summer visits worth of memories, but the roaring fire in the cottage was enough to brighten the darkest and coldest winter night.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

Before long we were summoned for dinner, I’m a vegetarian so I enjoyed a slightly different menu to my friends, but I wager it was just as good as theirs. The canapés were plentiful, imaginative and delicious. We began with whipped goats cheese with thin slithers of beetroot in cider vinegar with fennel fronds, little cheese on toast bites with piccalilli; blue cheese, mushroom and leek croquettes with date and green tomato dip and several slices of excellent treacle and seed bread.

Another canapé, and for my money one of the highlights of my meal, was the merguez spiced romanesco cauliflower with silky smooth cauliflower purée. An unassuming dish which packed in so much flavour, it was a real joy.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

My first course (though after all those canapés, it felt like my fourth course already) was ravioli with celeriac purée, wild mushrooms and sage. This was a deceptively filling plate, perfectly autumnal and as pretty as a picture. There was perhaps a touch too much oil for my liking, but it didn’t detract from the dish.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

My veggie main course was a crispy parsnip and potato rosti with a poached egg, carrot purée and a chunk of charred savoy cabbage. Every single aspect of this course was perfectly cooked and delicious, but I did feel it needed something to pull it together into a dish, rather than the sum of its parts. My poached egg was a double-yolker though, so I can’t complain really.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

At my last meal at River Cottage HQ I had been utterly wowed by the pudding, so I had high hopes and I’m pleased to say they weren’t dashed. Dessert was a celebration of all things apple – an apple crisp, apple purée, a chunky apple crumble with a topping made from treacle and rye flour; but the showstopper on the plate was the honeycomb (or Hokey-Pokey if you’re Cornish) crème brûlée. That crème brûlée will live a long, long time in my memory. It was perfect and the honeycomb topping lent a deliciously different note to the crunchy topping.

Foodie Experiences: Dining at River Cottage HQ

Dinner was followed by coffee and petits fours; the hurried purchasing of a couple of Christmas gifts from the shop and a bumpy tractor ride up the hill to the car park. 

It was as close to a perfect foodie evening as you can imagine. The meal was virtually faultless, so good I want to book in again next year with my husband. For River Cottage fans and devotees, lovers of good food, or people who are just Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall curious, a dining experience at River Cottage HQ is a very special way to spend an evening and would make for a rather excellent Christmas present.

For more information about a River Cottage HQ Dining Experience, visit their website.

 

We were invited guests of River Cottage HQ and Foodies100, all images and opinions are our own.

Review: LiveLean Best of British Meat Hamper

As a keen cook and eater of food I care about what my family put on their dinner plates. This year we’ve been trying to eat a bit healthier, eat fewer carbs and a little bit more protein. My husband has taken up what we call “muddy races”, you know the kind of thing (which fills sane thinking people with horror), run 10 miles and conquer a million military style obstacles. He’s all about the protein and kettlebells, but at the same time he’s a greedy boy who won’t be without his big dinners. LiveLean sent us their 82-Piece Best of British Super Lean Meat Hamper to try out, but were my protein loving carnivores happy?

LiveLean Meat Hamper

LiveLean are a British company supplying mostly British farmed and butchered produce. The LiveLean Best of British Meat Hamper is a huge hamper (it’s currently £59.95 which I think is a huge bargain) and contains the following 82 pieces of meat –

  • Premium Chicken Fillets 5kg (approx 24)
  • Two aged Rump Steaks 6oz
  • Two packs of Best UK Lean Steak Mince 400g
  • Two Beef minute steaks 6oz
  • Two packs of Super Lean Steak Burgers (8 burgers)
  • 24 Lean Steak Meatballs  
  • UK Chicken Burgers 2 burgers, 4oz each
  • 8 Lean Pork Sausages (made with 74% pork)
  • Lean Back Bacon 10 rashers / 400g

The hamper comes in a big box, wrapped in a big silver cold bag and with lots of frozen packs inside to keep the meat cool while it’s on its way to you. The meat all arrived in perfect condition and looked really appetising. I unpacked it and put most of it away in the freezer (tip, separate the 5kg of chicken breasts into smaller amounts which you’d typically use, so for example, portions of four breasts).

LiveLean

It’s probably wise to clear some space in your freezer before you take delivery, as there is a lot of meat to put away, easily enough for our family for a month or so. We put what we knew we’d use over the next couple of days in the fridge and froze the rest.

That night the small boy had sausages for his tea and his dad had one of the rump steaks. The sausages were great, they contain 74% pork and hardly any fat came off them while I was cooking them. The boys said they were really flavoursome. I cooked the steak in a hot griddle pan and served it with a big salad – he said it was one of the best steaks he’d eaten.

I’ve been away for a few days and with the two packets of steak mince I made a huge shepherds pie to tide them over while I was away – again there was very little fat, so little that I didn’t have to bother draining the mince after I’d browned it. 

It all seems like really good quality meat, and what the boys have eaten so far they’ve loved! LiveLean have a whole range of meat hampers of different sizes and with different kinds of meat in them. The quality is excellent, I really couldn’t fault it and I think a little under £60 is a very good price to pay.

If like a bargain, I do have a discount code to use if you’re buying the 82 piece Best of British hamper – just enter HPD5 at the checkout.

LiveLean
To check out the LiveLean Best of British Meat Hamper for yourself, visit their website and don’t forget that exclusive discount code!

 

Giveaway & Review: The EasiYo Yoghurt Maker

Making your own yoghurt at home is nothing new, in the 1980’s my Grandma used to make her own using powdered milk and a weird machine she’d got from somewhere. Yes it was as unappetising as it sounds. Thankfully, around 20 years ago EasiYo was invented and it’s popularity is growing, people are finding out how easy, economical and delicious EasiYo is.

I was sent one of the shiny red EasiYo yoghurt makers to try out. The maker is a fashionable red pod which makes 1kg of yoghurt each time. But what did my yoghurt loving boys think of it and just how easy is it to use? 

easiyo

The red maker is quite lovely to look at, it’s all sleek and shiny and doesn’t look out of place in a modern kitchen. I unpacked it and my box contained the red pod, the 1kg yoghurt jar and some instructions. I was given the banana yoghurt and the Forest Fruits yoghurt flavours to try.

I thought I’d try the boys with the banana yoghurt, they both love banana flavoured anything, so I thought it’s make for a useful taste test.

Making EasiYo yoghurt is incredibly easy and much quicker than I thought it would be. The instructions are on the back of each packet anyway, but you simply mix the sachet with water, give it a good shake and then put it in the pod which is half filled with boiling water. Leave it overnight and you’ve got 1kg of yoghurt to enjoy the next day.

Easiyo

I made the yoghurt the day before we needed it, put it to one side and let the yoghurt maker work its magic. A little over 24 hours later (it works in 12 hours, but you can leave it for 24 hours and you get a better set) I opened up the yoghurt maker, tipped out the water and opened up the jar. The banana yoghurt had set firmly and looked really thick and creamy. I dolloped some into a bowl with some sliced banana and gave it to the boy as an after school treat.

But what did the boys think? Well… they loved it! The small boy, originally sceptical that it didn’t come in a pot has been demanding seconds and even thirds of it. It’s thick, creamy and delicious and contains no artificial ingredients, is gluten-free, vegetarian and full of nutrients. I’m sold on EasiYo, and I think he is too!

Easiyo

It’s incredibly easy to make, and it makes 1kg of yoghurt at a time, which makes it really economical. Plus it’s pretty fun to make with the kids, especially ones who like mixing things up in the kitchen. There are a huge range of flavours and styles of yoghurt to choose from, from very low fat yoghurt to indulgent creamy yoghurt. We’re looking forward to trying them all out!

You can find more information about EasiYo yoghurt on their website.

WIN An easiyo yoghurt maker and two packs of yoghurt

To be in with a chance to win a shiny red EasiYo Yoghurt Maker and two packets of yoghurt mix, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will receive an EasiYo Yoghurt Maker and two packets of yoghurt mix.
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Recipe: Halloween Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Every year I carve a pumpkin at Halloween and every year without fail I’ve guiltily tipped the insides of the pumpkin into the compost bin. I tell a lie, one year we did try and make something but it was so inedible we tipped that straight in the bin. 

This afternoon as my son and I sat around the kitchen table carving the pumpkin and scooping out the gloopy insides, I felt really bad about tipping the pumpkin innards into the bin, so I decided to try and bake a pumpkin cake of our own. 

I consider myself to be a bit of a safe baker, I can do 100 variations of sponge cake but anything more complicated I’ve always shied away from for fear of failure. I sat at the kitchen table and puzzled over what to do, in the end I came up with a slightly experimental recipe for a pumpkin cake and a hope that it would work, it did and it was delicious.

pumpkin cake

This pumpkin cake recipe does make quite a lot of cake batter and there was enough to make one decent sized cake and 12 yummy cupcakes. We used the flesh, the firm pale bit, not the slimy gloopy bit. We cut our chunks of the flesh and grated them. We found we had 300g or so, though I think if you found yourself with more pumpkin than that, then the recipe is quite forgiving and would accommodate another 100g or so with no problems.

The pumpkin kind of melts into the cake when it’s cooked and you’d never, ever know what the spooky surprise in your cake really is. I suspect if you wanted to make this cake outside of pumpkin carving season a grated butternut squash would work just as well.

pumpkin cake

pumpkin cake
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Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Icing

If you've carved your pumpkin and you don't know what to do with the leftover flesh, here's a cracking recipe for a cake which you can decorate as Halloweeny as you want.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 8
Author Jane Arschavir

Ingredients

For the cake...

  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 200g butter or margarine
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp mixed spice, ground
  • 5 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 300g pumpkin flesh, grated
  • splash of orange juice if the latter needs loosening

For the frosting...

  • 80g unsalted butter, soft
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 4 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 200g cream cheese

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 190.

  2. Cream the golden caster sugar and butter together.  Once light and fluffy stir in the beaten eggs, mixed spice and cinnamon. Add to bicarb of soda, salt and sifted flour and fold in until the batter is smooth. If the batter seems a little stiff add a splash of fresh orange juice to loosen it. Stir in the grated pumpkin.

  3. Put a dessert spoon of the batter in 12 cupcake cases and bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

  4. With the remainder of the batter, pour into a lined 8 inch cake tin. For ease I used one of the paper cake tin liners you can buy and my tin was quite deep (4 inches). Bake this cake in the oven for 50 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cake inside for a further 10 minutes, then remove and cool on the rack.

To make the frosting...

  1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together until smooth, add the cinnamon and stir thoroughly. Beat in the cream cheese until the mixture is well combined. Put in the fridge to firm up for 20 minutes.

  2. Once your cakes are cool they can be iced, you can either pipe on the frosting or smooth it on with a knife, decorate however you want, I sprinkled some spooky sprinkles on top of mine.

The result was a surprisingly light pumpkin cake, full of autumnal spice and not at all pumpkiny. I urge you not to tip your pumpkin innards in the bin, but to try this instead. You won’t regret it. I promise!

pumpkin cake

Casa Costello

Five Delicious Vegetarian Comfort Food Dishes

I turned vegetarian when I was 13 and there’s not a lot I miss, but on a cold winter night I do sometimes hanker after the slow cooked, deep flavoured chilli my Nan used to make. Thankfully after lots of practice I’ve finally nailed the recipe and managed to make it vegetarian too.

Most of the warming comfort food dishes from my childhood were meat based – family roast dinners, my Nan’s amazing beef chilli, corned beef hash, shepherd’s pie and bubbling stews cooked so long the meat almost melted in your mouth.

There’s something about cooking up some comfort food which makes you feel like you’re showing your family some extra love. I enjoy throwing a few things in the slow cooker and knowing that by tea time there will be a delicious meal ready for my family.

Vegetarian comfort food can feel a bit hard to come by, so I’ve created and shared some of our favourite family recipes on my blog, here are five of my favourite vegetarian comfort food recipes – 

Vegetarian Galletes

vegetarian comfort food

These are a recent addition to my comfort food repertoire. They’re really easy to make, utterly delicious and once you get the hang of it you can fill them however you want. I made a Goats Cheese, Caramelised Onion and Quince Galette and a Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette. Both were absolutely bang on and real crowd pleasers.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

vegetarian comfort food

Now autumn is here my soup making pot is starting to see some serious action. Cauliflowers are cheap and plentiful in the shops, so I recreated my favourite soup, but with a cheesy twist. Try my very delicious Norwegian inspired Cauliflower Cheese Soup.

Spanish Style Bravas Sausage Casserole

vegetarian comfort food

I’d had it in my head to make a big Spanish style bravas sausage casserole in my slow cooker for a while. This summer hadn’t been up to much and I was desperate to start rustling up comfort food dishes, and this was the first one of the season. I made my sausage casserole with Quorn sausages, but you could very easily make them with your favourite meaty sausages if you’d prefer. I made the sauce in the slow cooker and let it bubble away gently to itself for a few hours. The recipe is really simple and it’s now a firm family favourite.

Authentic Armenian style Imam Bayildi 

vegetarian comfort food

Imam Bayildi is basically stuffed, baked aubergines. They’re simple to make, you can prepare them ahead of time and then cook them when you need them and they are melt in the mouth gorgeous. I like to use good quality ingredients in this recipe as every single mouthful zings flavour. Fresh vegetables and herbs are essential, they’re packed full of flavour and these sunshiny aubergines are a little bit of summer on a cold autumn evening.

Easy Microwave Jam Sponge

vegetarian comfort food

No vegetarian comfort food round-up would be complete without a pudding. This incredibly easy to make and very quick to cook microwave jam sponge is just the ticket to warm your cockles on a cold winter evening. All you need are a few store cupboard ingredients, ten minutes of your time and you’ve got a good pud that’ll make your family smile.

Voucherbox.co.uk have a great blog post about the five healthy foods that can actually save you money, and if you want even more money off your online shop they also have plenty of Sainsbury’s vouchers which you can use.

vegetarian comfort food

Baking: Make Your Own Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

October is one of my favourite months, I love the autumn colours and Halloween is always a good excuse to get the mixing bowls out to create something spooky to celebrate the occasion. We don’t do trick or treating, but we usually have a party for some of the small boy’s friends, or a little Halloween tea party of our own. I tried my hand at making some spooky Halloween cupcakes for the occasion and I was quite pleased with how they turned out.

Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

The cupcakes were really easy to make (you can read my fail-safe sponge cake recipe here) and take very little time to knock up with a food mixer, though I sometimes mix my cakes by hand if I can’t be bothered washing the mixer afterwards.

Once my little cupcakes had cooled, I made a buttercream. I made quite a lot of buttercream because I had several batches of cakes to decorate for various occasions. To make my buttercream I put 500g of soft unsalted butter in the food mixer and beat it for a minute or two to soften it up properly. I then added 500g of sifted icing sugar and beat them together until they were thoroughly combined. As you can see it’s just equal amounts of each ingredient, so depending on how much buttercream you need you can make more or less.

I then put half of the buttercream in a tub in the fridge to use at a later date, I put a quarter in a piping bag with a piping nozzle (I use a large star) and popped that in the fridge to firm up a little. With the remaining quarter of icing (still in the food mixer) add orange food colouring, just a few drops at a time until you get the Halloweeny orange colour you want. Once you’re happy with the colour, pop it in the fridge to firm up a little – though not so much that you can’t pipe it.  I always find freshly made buttercream is too loose to pipe with until it’s had half an hour in the fridge.

Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

I had been sent some spooky decorations by Cake Angels. I really like using Cake Angels decorations, they’re simple to use, are often quite fun and look great. The Halloween decorations are no different.

I made three different kinds of spooky Halloween Cupcakes…

With the orange buttercream and using a palette knife, I smoothed the buttercream on top of the cupcake (choose cupcakes which don’t rise above the edge of the paper case for this). I then took a Cake Angels Halloween cake topper and placed it in the middle of the cupcake, then sprinkled some of the Cake Angels Halloween sprinkles on. The small boy enjoyed helping to decorate the cakes like this, almost as much as he enjoyed eating them.

Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

Using my large star piping nozzle I piped icing onto the Halloween cupcakes and topped them with a cake topper, some I added sprinkles too. I used both the plain white buttercream and the orange buttercream for this. 

Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

These Witches Hat Halloween Cupcakes were a bit of an experiment. I’d spotted some ice cream cones in the reduced section in a local shop. I bought some black get food colouring and spent some time the night before carefully painting my ice cream cones black, leaving them to dry overnight.

When it came to icing my witches hat cupcakes, I piped orange icing (for hair) onto the cupcake, then carefully pressed the hat/cone onto the icing. To decorate, I dabbed some buttercream onto the back of one of the Cake Angels decorations and stuck that to the hat. If I’d thought it through a bit more I would have made a buckle and belt for the hat out of royal icing. I will next time.

Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

These spooky Halloween cupcakes were lots of fun to make and would be a great centrepiece for a Halloween party. They were tasty too – too tasty. They didn’t last long before they were spirited away into our bellies!

Cake Angels decorations are available from a wide range of supermarkets (I’ve seen them in Tesco and Co-op) and from specialist shops.

I was sent some Halloween cake decorating goodies by Cake Angels, all images and opinions are our own.

Review: Y Fabrica – Californian & Mexican Diner

Last week the stars aligned and a much needed good thing happened – I won lunch for two at Y Fabrica in Didsbury. Y Fabrica is where the Mud Crab Cafe used to be, it recently opened following a total rebrand and now specialises in serving a colourful menu of Californian and Mexican food. I decided to take my husband out for lunch, we don’t get much time without the small boy, so we were looking forward to eating a meal without having to make small talk about Paw Patrol in between courses.

I’d been checking out the menu at Y Fabrica since it opened. I confess my eye was caught by the very decent looking cocktail menu, lots of tequila based drinks and with several twists on the classics, I know I won’t be happy until I’ve worked my way through the lot. My first cocktail port of call was the Mai Thai Ting – a classic Mai Thai but served with Ting, like Lilt but better. Fruity, refreshing and the perfect foil for what was to come.

Y Fabrica

Y Fabrica has a big selection of “small plates” to choose from – like tapas but a bit bigger and heartier; as well as bigger plates such as burgers, lamb tagine and fried chicken (amongst others). As it was lunchtime we chose a selection of small plates to share. It’s very easy to have a simple light lunch here, or order more small plates (like we did) and have a greedy Friday treat of a lunch.

Y Fabrica

We ordered the adobo pork belly taco with apple slaw, pico de pina and salsa verde and the roasted poblano and sweet potato taco with pickled red onion, refried beans and crumbled feta cheese.

On the side we had a Mexican pizza filled with black beans, avocado and mozzarella, topped with a fried egg (carnivores can have chorizo instead); guacamole and tortilla chips, grilled corn on the cob with chipotle mayo and Parmesan; tempura of calamari with black aioli and a stack of chargrilled sweet potato fries.

Y Fabrica

If you want a light lunch, the tacos are a great place to start. Each serving of two tacos is piled high with fillings. My roasted poblano and sweet potato taco was deceptively hearty and bursting with freshness. The taco packed a little kick which was in part soothed by the cool creamy crumbled cheese on top. It was very well balanced. Husband who gave up smoking and took up pulled pork instead, wolfed his down with the demeanor of someone who hadn’t had a hot meal all week. 

The Mexican pizza was a large tortilla, folded and filled with refried beans and avocado. It looked as pretty as a picture with the sunshiny egg on the top. I thought it was delicious, I’d love it to have a big handful of coriander inside the pizza – but I’m a coriander addict and I suspect if I asked, they’d throw some in for me.

Y Fabrica

Deserving of special mentions were the chunky sweet potato fries – chargrilled for a smoky flavour and tossed in some delicious but secret seasoning, I reckon these might be the best sweet potato fries in Didsbury. The tempura of calamari with black aioli was also a bit special, the light and crispy tempura had finely sliced chilli and coriander flecked throughout, and the black aioli made with squid ink looked appealingly arresting on the plate. 

Y Fabrica

I was by this point (remember, this was a supposed to be a light lunch) feeling a little drunk on food, but we were determined to have desserts. Hubs went for the caramelised apple and cinnamon burrito served with cream cheese. His sweet burrito smelt deliciously autumnal, of apples and cinnamon. Once he devoured it, he grunted with the kind of approval he reserves only for good puds. 

I opted for the peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwich with caramel sauce. I’d seen photos on Twitter of this highlight of the dessert menu and it did look awesome. In real life it was much bigger than I was expecting. Two freshly baked peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, each around 4 inches in diameter, sandwiched with ice cream and caramel sauce. It was huge and I could only finish half, a fact which makes me feel disappointed in myself even now. If you like peanut butter, it is absolutely worth saving extra room for this ice cream sandwich, or sharing it with a peanut butter loving friend.

Y Fabrica

Replete, husband opted for a coffee and I had an espresso martini before we went our separate ways and back to work for the afternoon. We’d had an excellent, laid back lunch and some valuable quiet couple time together.

Our meal at Y Fabrica was really enjoyable. I’ve long felt that Didsbury really needed somewhere casual but grown up, a place where you can grab a taco or two and a frozen margarita (how I’ve longed for frozen margaritas in Didsbury).

The staff (shout out to the lovely Huw) were delightful, very helpful and keen to explain the new menu, recommending dishes along the way, and were attentive without being overbearing.

I’m pleased to see so many veggie options on the menu too. The food feels vibrant, fresh and healthy without being pious about it. I reckon I must have had about 800 of my 5 a day without even noticing.

It’s good to see the old Mud Crab Cafe getting a new lease of life as Y Fabrica, it’s even better that it’s round the corner from my house and has met my long hoped for wish of tacos and margaritas within walking distance. A good addition to Didsbury village, we’ll be back!

Y Fabrica is at 747 Wilmslow Rd, Didsbury, Manchester. You can find Y Fabrica on Twitter.

We were invited guests of Y Fabrica (I’d won lunch for two). I was not asked to blog about my meal, but we enjoyed it so much I wanted to write about it and show off some of the nice pictures we took.

Recipe: Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette

Last week I made a rather excellent Goats Cheese, Caramelised Onion and Quince Galette. It was utterly delicious and incredibly easy, so spurred on my my previous success I decided to make another. Behold my Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette.

This was very much a spur of the moment, what do I have in the fridge that I can use kind of deal. I had some nice looking cherry tomatoes, some feta which needed using up and some red pesto. The rest, as they say is history. Rather delicious history.

Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette

As with my Goats Cheese, Caramelised Onion and Quince Galette, this Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette is ridiculously easy. You could even buy some ready made pastry if you don’t fancy making your own, though making your own takes minutes and is very simple and satisfying. Follow my easy recipe for a lovely simple supper.

Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette
Serves 6
This Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette is a lovely hearty autumnal dish, great for the family and even non-veggies will enjoy it.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
527 calories
31 g
138 g
40 g
11 g
24 g
177 g
400 g
2 g
1 g
13 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
177g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 527
Calories from Fat 355
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 40g
62%
Saturated Fat 24g
122%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 138mg
46%
Sodium 400mg
17%
Total Carbohydrates 31g
10%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 2g
Protein 11g
Vitamin A
26%
Vitamin C
5%
Calcium
21%
Iron
7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. For the shortcrust pastry –
  2. 100g butter
  3. 225g plain flour
  4. 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves – I used fresh but dry would be fine
  5. tepid water
  6. pinch of salt
  7. For the filling –
  8. 150g of feta cheese
  9. 50g of cheddar cheese, grated
  10. 1 tablespoon of red pesto
  11. Handful of cherry tomatoes
  12. Dab of butter
  13. Salt & pepper
  14. 1 egg
Instructions
  1. 1. Make your pastry. Rub the butter and flour together in a bowl until they are like breadcrumbs. Add your thyme and salt and combine. Gradually add the tepid water a couple of spoons at a time into your bowl until you have a ball of dough that isn’t too sticky and wet or too dry. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for half an hour or so.
  2. 2. Roll out your dough until it’s about the thickness of a pound coin and roughly the shape of a circle approximately 30cm in diameter. Place on baking paper on a baking tray.
  3. 3. Crumble your feta cheese and cheddar and place it in the middle of the pastry, leave an edge around the sides of about 6 or 7cms so you can fold the pastry up to make the classic galette shape later.
  4. 4. Top the cheese with a tablespoon of pesto and halve your cherry tomatoes and arrange them artistcally on top.
  5. 5. Take a pastry brush and brush beaten egg around the visible edge of your galette. Now take a look at my picture of the finished galette. You will need to bring the sides of your galette over the sides and covering the top, leaving the middle of the galette open. Fold the sides in sections, working anti-clockwise so they roughly overlap. Gently press the folds together. It is meant to look rustic.
  6. 6. Brush with the beaten egg and dot the quince slices on the top with some butter.
  7. 7. Bake in a pre-heated oven 200°c for 45-50 minutes until golden brown.
  8. 8. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes, and then serve.
Notes
  1. This serves 6 for lunch, or 4 hungry people. I served my galette with new potatoes and salad.
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calories
527
fat
40g
protein
11g
carbs
31g
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I loved the saltiness of the feta, if you were so inclined you could throw in a handful of olives too. This Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette would be perfect for a weekend lunch with a leafy salad. It’s so tasty even carnivores wouldn’t complain!

Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette

Recipe: Norwegian Inspired Cauliflower Cheese Soup

In 2003 we had a long weekend in Kristiansand in Norway. It was December and the Christmas lights made the city twinkle at night, the snow was piled high in the streets and it was cold, bitterly, bitterly cold.

We’d venture out and dash in and out of shops, sit drinking steaming cups of coffee in cafes and we’d eat at night in the bistro downstairs from the hotel. Hubs was determined to sample as many Norwegian delicacies as he could, reindeer was a favourite. I am veggie and there wasn’t much choice for me, so I lived on Blomkålsuppe, a Norwegian cauliflower soup. I loved it and I’ve lusted after it ever since.

Now autumn is here my soup making pot is starting to see some serious action. Cauliflowers are cheap and plentiful in the shops, so I decided to try and recreate my favourite soup in the world, but with a cheesy twist that my son would approve of. This morning I made some very delicious Norwegian inspired Cauliflower Cheese Soup.

I’d been sent some cheese from Wyke Farms to try out and I decided to use some in my Cauliflower Cheese Soup. Wyke Farms cheese is widely available in supermarkets, and I always buy a lot of it when I go to the International Cheese Awards. A good Cheddar is an essential as far as I’m concerned, I doubt we go a day without using some in one way or another.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

I decided to use the Extra Mature Cheddar in my soup – it had a lovely subtle tang which I knew would compliment my soup nicely. Cheddar is a perfectly versatile cheese, it melts beautifully and we use it almost as a seasoning. The Wyke Farms Cheddar is a traditional farmhouse style Cheddar which is made in Somerset, which is as it should be.

This Cauliflower Cheese Soup really is very simple, incredibly hearty and exactly like a lovely comforting hug in a bowl. Serve with warm crusty bread, or if you’re feeling especially Scandinavian try it with rye bread.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup
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Norwegian Inspired Cauliflower Cheese Soup

This Cauliflower Cheese Soup really is very simple, incredibly hearty and exactly like a lovely comforting hug in a bowl. Serve with warm crusty bread, or if you’re feeling especially Scandinavian try it with rye bread.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 21 minutes
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 900g cauliflower florets - fresh or frozen
  • 300mls hot vegetable stock
  • 400mls milk
  • 100g Wyke Farms Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese
  • Salt, pepper, ground chilli flakes

Instructions

  1. Gently fry your onion in the butter and olive oil until it's soft. 

  2. Add your cauliflower florets to the pan and stir. Add the hot vegetable stock and 300mls of the milk. Add a little salt, pepper and ground chilli flakes, then put the lid on the pan and simmer until the cauliflower is tender.

  3. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for ten minutes. Using a blender (I used a stick blender), blend the soup until smooth. I added the remaining 100mls of milk at this stage as my soup was too thick. If your soup needs loosening up add some extra milk.

  4. Stir in most of your grated cheese and stir until it has melted through. Taste the soup, you can always add more cheese if you think it needs it. Add any extra salt, pepper and ground chilli flakes if you think it needs additional seasoning.

  5. To serve, spoon into bowls and sprinkle a little extra cheese on top. Serve with warm crusty bread.

Recipe Notes

If you'd like to garnish your soup with caramelised cauliflower like I have, remove a cooked floret from the pan before you blend the soup and pat dry.

Thinly cut it into slices and gently fry with some butter until golden brown. Gently lay it on top of the soup and serve. Delicious!

You could use frozen cauliflower for your soup. Just defrost it thoroughly first and you’d never know once it was blended up. It’s frugal too.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Cauliflower cheese soup is the ultimate comfort food. What comfort food dishes will be warming your cockles this autumn?

For more information about Wyke Farms visit their website.

Note: I was sent some cheese from Wyke Farms to try, all images and opinions are my own.

Pizza Express delivered to your door by Deliveroo

Pizza Express is one of our favourite restaurants to eat out at as a family. We all love pizza and pasta, the dough balls are to die for and they are really child friendly. Pizza Express is now available to be delivered straight to your door by Deliveroo, so we decided to put them to the test.

This weekend was an incredibly busy one for our little family. I spent most of it out of the house working and the boys spent most of it in the park running about. We all arrived home on Sunday evening, tired, hungry and in need of a lazy few hours cuddling on the sofa in front of the TV. I was in no mood to cook, so we decided to order Pizza Express and have it delivered to our door by Deliveroo.

Deliveroo

I’d downloaded the free Deliveroo app a few weeks ago and every so often I had a little explore of what was available in our area. The app is really easy to use, choose the restaurant you would like to order from and just select what you want to order, pay for it and it’s delivered to your door by a friendly chap on a bike.

We ordered the Etna Pizza – a succulently spicy Romana recipe, where nduja sausage is paired with sweet and spicy roquito chilli peppers. The Etna is exclusively available for Deliveroo customers. 

Deliveroo

I went for the Padana Pizza – goat’s cheese, mozzarella, tomato, caramelised onion, spinach, red onion and garlic oil. And the small boy had the Piccolo American Set Menu – dough balls, pepperoni pizza and a little brownie. We grabbed a side of crispy, fluffy Potato Nocciola too – we were hungry!

Deliveroo

The Deliveroo app helpfully has a countdown clock to show you where your order is up to – once it’s out for delivery you can even track your delivery on the map. I thought this was cool and my husband thought I was some kind of psychic – “our pizza is at the lights outside the nail bar in the village” etc.

Our meal arrived piping hot, I was impressed at how hot it was actually. The delivery charge is £2.50 and on a cold night when you’re all tired, I think it’s worth paying for delivery. The convenience of having someone hand you your meal half an hour after ordering it is a nice treat, and it’s always good to eat something I’ve not had to cook myself.

We all sat quietly munching through our pizzas. The small boy had the dough balls (always excellent), an American pizza, which was essentially a pepperoni pizza and a small brownie. He polished off every scrap and asked if we could have it for tea again – yes!

Deliveroo

My Padana was very filling, loaded with toppings but I thought it could have done with another few minutes in the oven to really crisp up the base. 

Hubs had the Etna – he loves spicy things so this was perfect for him. He polished it off in double-quick time and like me his only criticism was it needed a little longer in the oven to crisp the base.

If I’m being picky – my favourite pizza wasn’t available (the Soho if you’re asking) and I couldn’t see a way to customise your order, so you can’t ask for no mushrooms for example. But we were all impressed and we would definitely order Pizza Express delivered by Deliveroo again. 

The spicy Etna pizza is exclusively available for Pizza Express customers to order by Deliveroo mobile app, through the Deliveroo website or through the Pizza Express website.

This is a collaborative post.