The Handmade Ice Cream Company

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When Steve from The Handmade Ice Cream Company contacted Sophie’s Scran to see if we wanted to sample and review some of their ice creams I must admit, I was rather excited. However, getting the ice cream to me (from Cumbria- where it’s made, to Cheshire) during the week when I am at work in Manchester all day where we don’t have a freezer – did prove a bit of a challenge. So, I roped in my Grandparents to help, as they live in Cheshire, have a large freezer and are generally in the house all day. So Steve dropped it off with them – safe to say, they were more than happy to help, being true Ice Cream connoisseurs themselves…

Steve’s ethos is pretty simple – “the best products require the best ingredients,” so by sourcing the finest ingredients (and if he can’t find them – he makes them himself, having spent 15 years as a professional pastry chef) his ice creams are truly handcrafted. The final products are indulgent, naturally flavoursome and textured. It’s tricky to find a bad word to say…

Let the taste-test begin!

Flavour No. 1: WHITE CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY

As well as looking absolutely stunning, this flavour tastes fresh, indulgent and not overly sweet. The tangy raspberry balances so well with the white chocolate, cutting through the sweetness – a match made in heaven. My Grandma loved this – and that is saying something, as she is usually averse to raspberries after her mother used to crush up aspirin in raspberry jam when she was a little girl – in an attempt to make her take medicine when she was poorly! Steve and his team have helped her appreciate raspberries again for all their wonderfulness 🙂 The raspberry flavour and texture is there – but it’s delicate and not overpowering, with the white chocolatiness sweet and creamy, as expected.

Flavour No. 2: SALTED CARAMEL

Salted Caramel seems to be an evermore popular flavour nowadays, and this one is creamy, sweet with a sharp salty tinge that really packs a punch. The texture of this one is very smooth – almost more like a sorbet texture, which keeps it light, and rather too easy to have ‘just one more scoop’ – lovely. I would have preferred a slightly firmer texture to this flavour, however, I feel like this would go well with a dark chocolate torte or brownie dessert due to its softness. Perfect for an alternative Christmas day pud!

Flavour No. 3: CHOCOLATE

This is a chocoholics dream. A truly indulgent chocolate fix – it comes served with an extremely generous sprinkle of chunky dark chocolate shavings on top, and then them same laced throughout the ice cream itself. The added chocolate shavings add a wonderful texture – a sharp chocolate crunch every now and again really makes this one special. This was one of my Grandad’s favourites too.

Flavour No. 4: CARAMEL, FUDGE & HONEYCOMB

Another one my Grandad couldn’t get enough of – and it’s the same for me. I love honeycomb ice cream, and this one had plenty of perfectly sized honeycomb pieces throughout. The caramel and fudge add a whole other dimension, making this the sort of ice cream whereby all you need is the tub and a spoon. Very tempting just to polish the whole lot off, without sharing. The texture is creamy, the caramel running smoothly throughout with the odd sticky bit here and there where the flavour lingers for a while afterwards. The fudge pieces are small but add just the right amount of solid texture to compete with the honeycomb. Very yummy indeed.

Flavour No. 5: GINGERBREAD

This flavour is somewhat festive. It has a slight citrusy orange taste in the background, which compliments the small gingerbread pieces really well. The ice cream itself is smooth and light, and although it features tiny cakey pieces, they are so small and evenly distributed they come together perfectly. Much nicer than the brash efforts the likes of Ben & Jerry’s make to incorporate cake/biscuits into their ice creams. I feel like a scoop of this would go well with Christmas pud for a nice little twist on the Christmas day classic!

The full range of The Handmade Ice Cream Company’s flavours can be found here, and the great news is they are willing to create bespoke flavours for you – great if you run a restaurant and need the perfect ice cream to serve alongside your decadent desserts!

The Handmade Ice Cream Company allowed Sophie’s Scran to taste their delicious ice creams  for no cost – the review above is a true representation of how we feel about each of the flavours sampled.

You can also find The Handmade Ice Cream Company on Facebook and Twitter, and for any further information please contact: info@handmadeicecream.co.uk / 015395 31021.

The Handmade Ice Cream Company
The Handmade Ice Cream Company

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Tabasco: #bestofthebrunch

Creamy Baked Eggs with Bacon, Buttered Toast & Tabasco

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When I was recently asked by Tabasco UK to take part in their #BestoftheBrunch challenge, I was really excited. How could I refuse?! Everyone who knows me KNOWS I love hot sauce, especially Tabasco Habanero, so I really couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

For the first of my #BestoftheBrunch recipes, I decided to go for something  a bit different. It’s not like me to choose a creamy eggs recipe (as I would usually have eggs with tomatoes for brunch), but I was keen to try this, and wanted to offset the creaminess with lashings of Tabasco Hot Sauce 🙂 who wouldn’t?!

The recipe is inspired by Rachel Khoo’s ‘Eggs in Pots’ from her show The Little Paris Kitchen, I have however pimped it up and used this as a great opportunity to try each of the 4 separate flavours; Tabasco Original Pepper Sauce (hot), Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce (mild), Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce (mild, with a slight kick – smokey BBQ flavour) and Tabasco Habanero Pepper Sauce (really hot!)

This recipe takes about 30 mins in total and serves 2 people.

What you need:

  • 4 rashers thick-cut smoked back bacon
  • 150g crème fraîche
  • chopped coriander
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 4 free-range eggs

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Grill the smoked bacon to your liking (I don’t need to tell you how to do this!)
  3. Season the crème fraîche with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
  4. Place a tablespoon of crème fraîche in the bottom of a ramekin, followed by some chopped coriander and a generous splash of Tabasco sauce of your choice (don’t be shy).
  5. Crack an egg on top, add another dollop of crème fraîche and sprinkle with a pinch of salt, pepper, nutmeg and a final few drops of Tabasco.
  6. Repeat the above with three more ramekins (I swapped the Tabasco sauce used each time).
  7. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and pour enough lukewarm water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until the egg yolks are set to your liking.
  9. Serve with lashings of heavily buttered wholemeal toast (for dipping!) and the grilled bacon on the side…

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Of the four sauces, my personal favourite this time was the Chipotle (it’s so rich and smoky – it worked really well with the warming nutmeg and creamy crème fraîche.)

Which sauce do you prefer, and why? Do you have any #BestoftheBrunch recipes you want to share? Feel free to get in touch by commenting below, or send an email to: sophiesscran@gmail.com

Enjoy, Scranners -x-

Restaurant One Eighty, Wilmslow

On my recent quest to find out more about the North West / Cheshire based contributors to The Great British Cook Book – I discovered an absolute gem of a restaurant. Situated on Wilmslow Road in Handforth, just a short drive out of Wilmslow town centre – is Restaruant One Eighty – part of the BW Plus Pinewood Hotel. This year the restaurant and kitchen alone have received a £1.5m renovation, and it shows.

The new 85 cover restaurant, opened in April this year, is visible from the hotel reception and is elegantly decorated with a modern, tasteful touch. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about the menus and dishes. Our waitress offered to talk us through the options; a Seasonal Menu –  which features Executive Chef Colin Starkey’s enhancement of current seasonal produce, all sourced from local suppliers. From this menu you can select dishes individually or sample a 6 course tasting option which Colin has put together, to give a true feel for all the dishes it has to offer.

The second menu option is their A La Carte Menu – a selection of classic starters, lite bites, mains, grills, sharing plates and desserts – all with a modern twist. We opted to combine choices from each menu, to ensure we sampled the best of what Restaurant One Eighty had to offer – and we were not disappointed.

The Food

To start, Bradley opted for the ‘pigs’ in blankets in a sticky mustard glaze. As you can see from the photo, these came served in a cute silver pot stuffed to the brim with juicy, meaty, morish little bites of sticky goodness. He was reluctant, but he let me try one. Absolutely divine, and with a sort of festive feel to them. Not your average starter – but very satisfying, especially for meat-lovers!

I opted for the smoked garlic king prawns, celeriac & pear ‘slaw with dressed lambs leaf. A great sized portion – the ‘slaw had a creamy, mustard flavour which wasn’t at all overpowering and coated the prawns perfectly. A light, fresh, excellent start to get the taste buds eager for the next course…

Beef & Pork Steak Burger
Brioche beef & pork steak burger with applewood cheese, dry cured bacon, onion marmalade and aspen fries
Pink Beef & Steak Burger - slow cooked for 2 hours
Pink Beef & Steak Burger – slow cooked for 2 hours
Aspen Fries, to with truffle oil and grated Parmesan
Aspen Fries, to with truffle oil and grated Parmesan

On to the mains, Bradley AKA meat-lover of the century, OF COURSE opted for the steak burger. And this one did not disappoint.  A brioche beef and pork steak burger with applewood cheese, dry cured bacon, onion marmalade and aspen fries. To say this was a taste-sensation would be an understatement. As you can see from the image (*drools*), the meat was pink throughout, mouthwateringly succulent and it was perfectly seasoned. We later found out from Colin that the burgers are slow-cooked for 2 hours in a water bath to achieve this amazing ‘melt in your mouth’ taste and texture. A really excellent burger – one that would be tricky to replicate at home, so if you’re in the area I urge you to go and try it.  As for the glossy, soft brioche bun – perfectly glazed for that amazing high-shine finish. It just seemed to ‘hug’ the burger so neatly, which is a breath of fresh air compared to many burgers out there which are served on thick slabs of bread, making it almost impossible to pick up and eat properly. The aspen fries (coated in truffle oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan) were also to die for, crispy, soft and a great sized portion. This was a very impressive main course indeed!

Seared Sea Bass with warm fennel, tapenade and sauce vierge
Seared Sea Bass with warm fennel, tapenade and sauce vierge
Seared Sea Bass - beautifully presented
Seared Sea Bass – beautifully presented

I opted for a more ladylike option of Seared Sea Bass with a warm baby fennel salad & new potatoes, tapenade and sauce vierge. What a delight – the sea bass was crispy, tender in the middle and the potatoes were sauteed and slightly buttery.  The sauce vierge was fragrant with basil, a delicate accompaniment to the fish which was seasoned to perfection with beautiful, floral presentation. Altogether an excellent fresh and satisfying main course, leaving just the right about of room for pudding…. 😉

The above dishes were all from the A La Carte menu – however, when it came to dessert time we decided to switch it up a notch, why ever not?! Both puddings were from Colin’s Season’s Menu – it was rightly noticeable that this menu showcases a more ‘fine dining’ approach, and it was so good to be able to combine the two experiences.

Berry Trifle with Limoncello
Berry Trifle with Limoncello

I chose (after much deliberation, as they all sounded so divine) the Black Berry Trifle with Limoncello. The description didn’t give much away – all I knew was I love trifle, love limoncello and was intrigued by the element of mystery and anticipation – so I went for it, and it’s safe to say it was a great choice. The dish was a deconstruction of the traditional trifle – all the elements were present, just not in a way you would expect, which I loved. The edible dark chocolate pot was filled with a silky fresh cream and topped with a sweet biscotti and flaked almonds. Around the edge of the plate were little drops of sweet limoncello blobs, a sharp berry compote and some crunchy dried berries. All in all a great variety of textures and flavours – hats off to the chef!

Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola
Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola

Bradley, once again, chose the richest and most decadent dessert option possible – Michel Cluizel chocolate & caramel with Maldon sea salt, honeycomb and granola. Just wow. The chocolate was divine – smooth, silky and felt very indulgent, a real treat. This was offset perfectly by the salty crunch to the granola sprinkles. An absolutely perfect finish to an excellent dining experience!!

The Great British Cook Book (TGBCB)

Colin Starkey, the Executive Chef at Restaurant One Eighty, has also contributed a fantastic looking dish to The Great British Cook Book., and he was kind enough to share some images with me. The pictures below are of his Galloway-breed Ribeye beef steak served with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean sauce to accompany. Doesn’t it just look incredible?!

Ribeye beef steak with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean oyster sauce
Ribeye beef steak with tempura Oyster, duck fat chips and a rich, clean oyster sauce

The recipe is available now in TGBCB, and is adapted to be accessible and easy for people to recreate at home, as with many other dishes in the book.

The Final Dish for TGBCB
The Final Dish for TGBCB

Colin’s restaurant has already been awarded an AA Rosette and has also received excellent reviews since opening in April. If you would like to find out more about Restaurant One Eighty and to see their current menus, click here. Colin also posts regular foodie updates on Twitter, to keep updated follow @ColinStarkey37.

On a final note – if you would like to purchase or download The Great British Cook Book, you can do so here (which is the official site, and also the cheapest place to purchase the online copy!)

With love, Sophie’s Scran -x-

Baltic Cellar, Manchester

When I was lucky enough to be cordially invited to the exclusive launch party of Baltic Cellar, Lloyd Street, Manchester – I felt honoured. I only started my food blog in August this year, and the response I have received from the foodie world so far has been fantastic. So as you can imagine, I was looking forward to this one. And, I have MDOG_MANCHESTER to thank – so thanks dude 😉

The invitation promised flames, grills, vodka on-tap and a mind-bending surprise… How could I possibly refuse?! Well, I couldn’t of course, and I was so eager that Bradley and I were the first ones there and had to be told on arrival (red carpet and all) by the Tuxedo-clad bouncers to come back in 5-10 minutes when the hostess had arrived! I was excited, to say the least. Lesson learnt – next time ‘fashionably late’ is perhaps the cooler option.

It is safe to say – Baltic Cellar delivered on all that was promised, and then some. These guys truly know how to eat, drink and entertain you. Basically, they know how to party – and I am now told they are taking bookings for Christmas – so if you’re looking for something with a bit of a twist, I would highly recommend this place.

Set just down the road from Albert Square (the Christmas-capital of Manchester), Baltic Cellar is exactly that – the entrance is on the street, with windows and steps looking down towards their main seating area and large bar. To entertain us in the queue was the amazing performer Beth Sykes (pictured above), who put on a flawless fire show, complete with actual flame swallowing. Very impressive.

Once inside, we were greeted with ‘Champagne’ and canapes – a simple yet very effective collection of Latvian and Lithuanian cheeses, cooked meats (Polish smoked sausages, smoked hams), olives and grapes. All were fabulous, very morish – but my favourite had to be the perfectly hand-crafted smoked salmon and creamed cheese eclairs…  a super light and fluffy filling encased in a pretty little choux pastry parcel. So, so good, I think I ate about 15…

Then was time for a short entertainment interval – the wonderful Beth Sykes again, but this time a change of costume and style completely. It turns out Beth is an incredible, mesmerising and extremely talented contortionist. A true artist, ‘mind-bending’ indeed, I couldn’t take my eyes off her – neither could Bradley… Ahem.. OK, now back to the food 😉

Next, we were to be seated for dinner: a traditional Russian ‘Zakuski’ (Russia’s answer to Tapas) whereby you sit together, drink vodka and eat a traditional selection of salted herring, Russian salad (like a chunky coleslaw), pickled and marinated cucumber and Salo (cured fat, I wasn’t too keen on this, but I did give it a go!) As we were seated, the Russian drinking rules were explained to us, something along the lines of: the person who wears the Russian hat must pour the drinks. They must always pour one for themselves when pouring for others. They must hold the bottle by the neck… Thank fully, being the designated driver, I managed to stay sober and avoid the hangover… This also meant I remember all of what happened next!

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On to the Mains… Well, as you can imagine, we were all rather full by now. The main feast however was yet to begin – as now followed a beautifully presented small-servings platter of homemade savoury delights:

  • Beef Goulash, a tender and slow-cooked warming stew with paprika, carrots and onions.
  • Chicken & Mushrooms, served with hand-picked forest mushrooms in a sharp creamy sauce.
  • Bigos, a traditional Polish dish which stews the rich flavours of sauerkraut, smoked sausage, smoked ribs, cabbage, onions, plums and wild mushrooms – so incredibly tasty.
  • Chicken Cedar, chicken in a light creamy sauce topped with cedar nuts.
  • Vegetable Ragu of braised cauliflower, carrots, peas, potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Pork Stroganoff, a traditional 19th century Russian dish served with lean pork strips and a rich, tasty sauce.
  • Grilled Meats – Chicken or Salmon Shashlik,  we tried the salmon only, which was cooked on an authentic Baltic charcoal grill. Marinated and ‘slow grilled,’ it tasted incredible. This  was my favourite dish of the evening, as the fish was mouth wateringly succulent and cooked to perfection.

The the side-dishes were also excellently seasoned; creamy mashed potatoes, spicy rice and skinny, crispy fries. Yum.

Then, this happened…

Possibly THE most decedent, varied, sweet and indulgent (and biggest!) dessert selection I have ever seen in a restaurant (not counting my nan’s pudding spread a family Christmas buffet…) Although we were full to the brim, there was no way we could refuse trying these little beauties – all homemade: Cheese Cake, Honey Cake, Chocolate Cake, Napoleon Cake (Polish variation called Kremowka). Just divine. The berries helped cut through the sweetness with a little sharpness and bite – the perfect end to a true Baltic Feast.

All in all, the dishes were hearty, authentic, homemade and very morish. The party was swinging, the staff extremely attentive and knowledgeable about each dish and the vodka (so I am told), was excellent quality. I will leave you with a few images which capture some other highlights of what was altogether an excellent evening. Thank you.

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If you would like to make a reservation at Baltic Cellar, please contact Inesa on 0161 971 6047 or click on balticcellar.com!