Ultimate Tabasco Menu: #FunWithFlavour

After the success of Tabasco’s #BestOfTheBrunch campaign (check out my brunch recipes here, and here) I was recently contacted again by the lovely people at Tabasco, but this time to be a part of their newest challenge #FunWithFlavour. This time, the bar has been raised and the focus is now about celebrating Tabasco’s uncanny ability to transform almost any dish.

In true food-blogger style, of course I agreed to become a #FunWithFlavour ambassador, and in doing so agreed to the challenge to create my very own ‘Ultimate Tabasco Menu’ – incorporating Tabasco Sauce into a Starter, Main Course and Dessert. An additional aspect was to throw in a cocktail concoction too, which I honestly couldn’t do on my own – so roped in some help from good friend and Bar Manager Nick Whitby, of the award winning New World Trading Company (yes, the company behind awesome bar/restaurants The Botanist and The Oast House). Nick is the genius behind the cocktail creation to accompany my menu. Nice work, Nick! -x-

I decided on a South American theme to my dishes, recently inspired by my visits to local food events and markets. Below is a summary of my Tabasco #FunWithFlavour menu, just click the links for the individual recipes! I hope you enjoy!

Cocktail: Red Chilli Caipirinha with Tabasco Original

Red Chilli Caipirinha created by Nick from @TheNWTC
Red Chilli Caipirinha created by Nick from @TheNWTC

If this doesn’t wet your appetite for a spicy Tabasco infused meal, I don’t know what will! For the full recipe and spec, click here. Thanks, Nick!

Starter: Spicy King Prawn Empanadas, infused with Tabasco Habanero

Spicy King Prawn Empanadas made with Filo pastry & Tabasco Habanero
Spicy King Prawn Empanadas made with Filo pastry & Tabasco Habanero

Empanadas are a staple dish in South America. They are a sort of pasty and are usually filled with minced beef, veggies or cheese and are more than often spicy! I have decided to use a filo pastry here, to keep them nice as light as a starter. For the full recipe, click here.

Main Course: Sirloin Steak with Tabasco Jalapeno Chimichurri

Flat Iron Steak with Tabasco Jalapeno Chimichurri, Spiralized Courgetti & Parmesan dusted chips
Sirloin Steak with Tabasco Jalapeno Chimichurri, Spiralized Courgetti & Parmesan dusted chips

For the main course I decided on the simple yet effective chimichurri sauce to enhance a standard steak and chips recipe! The Tabasco Jalapeno adds the perfect kick to the chimichurri, which also goes well to liven up the courgetti and pea side dish. For the full recipe, click the picture or here.

Dessert: Smoked Chilli Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle 

Cinnamon & Smoked Chilli Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle
Smoked Chilli Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle

Finally, an easy brownie recipe with a hint of Tabasco smoked spice! The Tabasco Chipotle is certainly one of my favourites – it is has a smoked BBQ flavour which almost has a sweetness to it. Very yummy indeed, for the full recipe, click here.

Please Like & Share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram if you fancy trying these recipes at home, and remember to use the @Tabasco_UK hashtag #FunWithFlavour! -x-


Recipe: Smoked Chilli Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle

Finally, here is my dessert course for the Tabasco #FunWithFlavour challenge! As you know, I am not the best at baking (a little out of practice, as I usually focus on savoury dishes). So for my Tabasco dessert recipe, I adapted a standard chocolate brownie recipe from the BBC Good Food website, and they turned out a treat!

Smoked Chilli Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle
Smoked Chilli Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle

The recipe takes about 1 hour in total, and makes 16 squares of brownie. You’ll also need a brownie tin, approx. 20cm by 20cm works best.

What you need:

  • 185g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 185g best quality dark chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped into small chunks (for chocolate chips)
  • 4 tsp Tabasco Chipotle
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g golden caster sugar

What to do:

  1. Cut 185g unsalted butter into small cubes and tip into a medium bowl. Break the 185g of best quality dark chocolate into small pieces and add to the same bowl. Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit the bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, not touching the water. Put over a low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix. Once melted and combined, remove the bowl from the pan and leave the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  2. While you wait for the chocolate to cool, position a shelf in the middle of the oven and turn on to 160C Fan, 180C conventional or Gas mark 4. Coat your 20cm square tin with butter and add a some flour – tapping the tin and turning it on each side until the inside of the pan is completely coated in a very thin layer of butter then flour (this will help prevent the brownies sticking). Alternatively you could line the pan with greaseproof paper.
  3. Next, sieve 85g plain flour, 40g cocoa powder and the 1 tsp cinnamon into a medium bowl (to get rid of any lumps).
  4. Break 3 large eggs and 275g golden caster sugar into a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 5-8 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume.
  5. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture from earlier over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Continue folding in a ‘figure of eight’ motion, moving the bowl round after each fold, until the two mixtures are one. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like – you don’t want to undo all the work you did in step 4.
  6. Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and resift the cocoa/flour/cinnamon mixture in, shaking the sieve from side to side to cover the top evenly. Add the 4 tsp of Tabasco Chipotle sauce. Gently fold in the sieved powder using the same ‘figure of eight’ action as before. The mixture will look dry and dusty at first, but if you keep going gently and patiently, it will end up looking gungy and fudgy. Stop just before you feel you should, as you don’t want to overdo the mixing.
  7. Stir in the milk chocolate chunks until they’re dotted throughout.
  8. Pour all of the mixture into the prepared tin, ensuring it is level. Place in the oven for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, open the oven, pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in and bake for another 5 minutes until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin. Take out of the oven.
  9. Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold. Remove from the tin using a knife to gently ease it away from the edges. Cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares.
  10. These brownies will keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.
Tabasco Fun with Flavour Challenge, Smoked Chilli and Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle
Tabasco Fun with Flavour Challenge, Smoked Chilli and Chocolate Brownies with Tabasco Chipotle


Recipe: Sirloin Steak with Tabasco Jalapeno Chimichurri

So, this is my main course for the Tabasco #FunWithFlavour challenge, a sirloin steak served with a spicy homemade chimichurri (using Tabasco Jalapeno), parmesan dusted chips and a courgette and pea side dish.

Sirloin Steak with Tabasco Jalapeno Chimichurri, Spiralized Courgetti & Parmesan dusted chips
Sirloin Steak with Tabasco Jalapeno Chimichurri, Spiralized Courgetti & Parmesan dusted chips

Here’s the recipe, it takes about 45 minutes and serves 2.

What you need:

For the Chimichurri

  • 2 shallots
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • Half juice 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Green Tabasco
  • Whole bunch fresh parsley

For the rest:

  • 2 Sirloin steaks, rested at room temperature and rubbed with olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 1 courgette
  • A few handfuls of frozen petit pois or garden peas
  • 2 portions of frozen oven chips
  • 50g Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

What to do:

  • First of all preheat your oven cook the chips as per packet instructions. To make them taste a little nicer, I usually drizzle a little olive oil on them before cooking and season really well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Make the chimichurri by blitzing the parsley, oregano, garlic, shallots and chilli flakes in a food processor (or chop very finely by hand). Add the olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and some seasoning, and pulse to combine everything to a sauce consistency.
  • Using a Spiralizer or a peeler, slice the courgette into thin strips. Add to a microwave proof bowl with the frozen peas and top with boiling water. Microwave on full power for 3 minutes until cooked through. Drain and cover to keep warm until serving.
Cougetti and pea side-dish with Chimichurri sauce
Cougetti and pea side-dish with Chimichurri sauce


  • For the steaks, heat a griddle pan and cook the steaks for 2-3 mins on each side or until done to your liking. Once cooked, rest for 5 minutes before serving in some tin foil to keep warm.
  • Once the chips are done, remove from the oven and grate over the Parmesan cheese and a little more salt and pepper to taste. Serve everything on the table at once so you can dig-in and enjoy!
Oven chips with olive oil, Parmesan, salt & pepper
Oven chips with olive oil, Parmesan, salt & pepper
Sirloin Steak with Tabasco Chimicurri
Serve on the table for everyone to help themselves


Cocktail: Nick’s Red Chilli Caipirinha with Tabasco Original

Red Chilli Caipirinha created by Nick from @TheNWTC
Red Chilli Caipirinha created by Nick from @TheNWTC

The perfect accompaniment to a spiced steak dinner with all the trimmings… Nick (Brand Head Bartender for The New World Trading Company) has created this amazing concoction of sweet, sour and spicy.

What you need:

  •  4 wedges of fresh lime
  • 1 sliced red chilli (deseeded)
  • 15ml Vanilla sugar syrup
  • 45ml Velho Barrerio
  • 7.5ml Benedictine
  • 4 healthy dashes of Tabasco Original
  • extra lime wedges and fresh red chilli to garnish
  • Crushed ice cubes

What to do:

  1. Add the crushed ice to your serving glass and set aside.
  2. Muddle the juice of the lime, chilli slices and vanilla together in a cocktail mixer (if you don’t have all the cocktail utensils you can bash up in a pestle and mortar).
  3. Add all the other ingredients to a mixer and shake well.
  4. Pour the well-shaken mixture over crushed ice, and top with a cap of extra crushed ice.
  5. Garnish with chilli, lime wedges and serve.
Red Chilli Caipirinha created by Nick from @TheNWTC
Red Chilli Caipirinha created by Nick from @TheNWTC


Recipe: Spicy King Prawn Empanadas

Spicy King Prawn Empanadas for Tabasco #FunWithFlavour

Spicy King Prawn Empanadas made with Filo pastry & Tabasco Habanero
Spicy King Prawn Empanadas made with Filo pastry & Tabasco Habanero

This is the starter recipe for my Tabasco #FunWithFlavour menu, I hope you enjoy!

First things first, prep and make your Empanadas… This recipe takes about 45 minutes in total and should make about 12. Once you have done this, treat yourself to the cocktail recipe which is here.

What you need:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or you could use olive oil)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded), finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 150g raw king prawns, roughly chopped
  • a good few drops Tabasco Habanero (the hot one!)
  • a sprinkle of Paprika
  • ½ tsp tomato puree
  • juice of ½ a lime
  • small handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 pack of filo pastry
  • some olive oil for brushing

What to do:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 2 minutes, until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the chopped chilli and garlic and continue to cook until softened but not browned (reduce the heat slightly if needed).
  3. Add the roughly chopped raw king prawns and gently cook on a low heat until cooked through (pink & opaque).
  4. Add at least 5-6 drops of Tabasco Habanero for a fiery kick.
  5. Season with a sprinkle of paprika, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Stir in the coriander, tomato puree and lime juice.
  7. Allow the mixture to cool completely before assembly, then discard any excess liquid.
  8. To make the empanadas, take two sheets of filo pastry and lay them on top of one another. Cut the pastry into four, equal horizontal strips. Note: it is best to work with just one strip at a time, so place the other 3 strips under some cling film and a damp towel to keep them from going dry.
  9. Brush the strip of pastry with oil.
  10. Place a small teaspoon of the prawn mixture at one end of the strip. Fold at right angles into a triangle, and keep folding over until you reach the end of the pastry strip.
  11. Brush with oil and place on a some parchment paper on a baking tray, ready to pop into the oven or save for later.

REPEAT this process until you have used all the filling up, I managed to get 12 small samosa-like parcels 🙂

If cooking immediately, pop in the oven for 8-9 minutes at 200C. If making ahead, you can keep them covered in the fridge for a few hours beforehand (just make sure you separate them with parchment paper so they don’t stick).

My take on Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie

On Sunday, I made this wonderful cottage pie recipe from the Hemsley sisters website. It is my birthday next week, and their book is now firmly on my wish-list, as this recipe was so damn lovely. Cottage pie is not something I make often, but with this recipe in mind I will certainly be making it again, which is making me excited for winter again already….!

I found this version a lot lighter than the usual recipes, perfect for these cold (yet sunny) Sunday’s after an afternoon of pottering about and a walk to the local pub.

Due to the contents or my fridge and larder, I had to improvise slightly, as I only had 1 cauliflower in and no courgettes. So instead of doing a full cauli mash (which uses 2 full cauliflowers), I substituted one for a sweet potato and combined the two. It worked a treat! Instead of the diced courgette, I used frozen petit pois.

Below I have provided the full, original recipe and have added my tweaks in brackets. The recipe takes about 2 hours from start to finish and serves 4. It is suitable for freezing. 

What you need:

For the Cottage Pie Filling-

  • 1 tablespoon of ghee or butter (I used butter)
  • 500g of good quality, lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion/leek finely chopped (I used onion)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium courgette, finely diced (I used petit pois instead)
  • 250ml red wine
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon of dried or 1½ teaspoons of fresh thyme plus some to garnish (I used dried thyme, and seasoned with fresh parsley)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried or 1½ teaspoons of fresh, roughly chopped rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A small handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 350 – 400ml of hot good quality beef, chicken or vegetable stock (I used a Kallo Organic chicken stock cube)
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • 1 large pinch black pepper

For the Cauliflower/Sweet Pot Mash-

  • 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large cauliflowers, remove outer green leaves and roughly chop the into equal sized pieces (I only used 1 cauliflower)
  • (1 medium-large sweet potato, washed, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks)
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of butter to blend and 2 teaspoons of chopped up butter to top the mash
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • 1 large pinch black pepper
  • Optional 2 teaspoons of chopped chives or 1 finely sliced spring onion (I used spring onion)
  • Optional 60g of mature cheddar cheese, grated (I used 30g Parmesan cheese)

Serve with-

Steamed buttered greens: I steamed some tenderstem broccoli and some fresh spring greens.

Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie - filling in progress
Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie – filling in progress

What to do:

  1. Brown the mince in half a tablespoon of butter (or ghee) and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the remaining butter and sauté the onions, celery and carrots, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and gently fry for a further minute.
  4. Return the mince to the pan and stir in the  tomato puree and red wine. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced.
  5. Add the stock and simmer with the lid on for at least 30 minutes – we like to slow cook for up to an hour adding more stock or water if it’s starts to get dry, (which I did – slow cook for 1 hour if you can).
  6. Once cooked, stir through the petit pois and fresh parsley and taste for seasoning.
  7. Add the peas after the rest of the filling is cooked to avoid over cooking
    Add the peas after the rest of the filling is cooked to avoid over-cooking them
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C.
  9. Add the chopped sweet potato to a pan of boiling salted water and simmer for 10 minutes until tender, drain and set aside to allow the steam to evaporate.
  10. In a saucepan, steam the cauliflower and whole garlic cloves with just a few tablespoons of water, lid on, for 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Use a knife to check.
  11. Remove the saucepan from the heat, drain any excess liquid and add the sweet potato, butter, grated cheese and mustard. Blend or mash until creamy and smooth. If it’s too sloppy or wet allow the mash to evaporate on a low heat. (I just used a potato masher – the consistency wasn’t completely smooth, but it was well-mashed with a little texture)
  12. Season to taste and add the spring onions or chives.
  13. Take a large oven dish or individual dishes and fill to two thirds of the beef mixture, then top with the cauliflower mash. Use a fork to criss cross over the top and dot with bits of butter.
  14. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden. Finish with a sprinkle of chives or some some fresh thyme leaves (I finished with fresh parsley, as that’s what I had in, it was lovely).
The dots of butter make all the difference :-)
The dots of butter make all the difference 🙂

Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie - the finished product.

Hemsley & Hemsley Cottage Pie – the finished product.

Hope you enjoy! Love Sophie -x-

SpamellaB’s Guilt-free Ginger Cakes with Spiced Lemon Cream

As you may have noticed, my food blog is somewhat lacking in something… Can’t quite put your finger on it? Well, I will tell you. It’s SWEET STUFF! This is just one of the reason’s I am really excited about this blog-swap with the amazing Health Food Blogger Pamela ‘SpamellaB’ Bustard of www.spamellab.com. Since we met last year at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival, we have been friends ever since. So this post-swap is long overdue!

[A note from Pamela:] When Sophie and I decided to write a guest recipe for each others’ foodie blogs, it was a surprise to think it had taken us this long to exchange a piece of our love for food! I love reading Sophie’s informative restaurant reviews and visually brilliant recipe posts; her passion and personality shine through.

As I focus on clean eating and gluten-free treats, I wanted to make something that looks indulgent for her readers but can still be enjoyed totally guilt-free! You can use normal flour if you wish, and also make this into one big cake or loaf but keep in mind the cooking time might need to be extended. I hope you enjoy!

What you need:

Ginger Cakes:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ cup stevia or other natural sweetener
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 150g unsweetened apple puree (either cook peeled and chopped apple chunks, or buy in supermarkets in the canned fruit aisle – much quicker!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 4-6 tbsp milk (can use cow’s milk, soya or almond)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Spiced Lemon Cream:

  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • ¼ tsp each of ginger and cinnamon
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Spamella B's Ginger Cakes with Spiced Lemon Cream...
Spamella B’s Ginger Cakes with Spiced Lemon Cream…

Get baking!

  • Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and grease (and if possible, line) your loaf or cake tin. I used four small Gugelhupf tins but it’s up to you which you prefer – the mixture will make enough for about 8-10 servings.
  • Put the dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, ginger and sweetener) in a large bowl and mix well.
  • In a blender, whizz up the apple puree with the eggs, yogurt and 4 tbsp milk until you have a smooth consistency. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir gently until all combined and you have a thick batter-like texture.
  • Spoon the mixture into your prepared tins and bake for at least 30 minutes – if you have divided up the mixture between smaller tins, the cake(s) should be ready by now – you want them to be risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean. For larger cake or loaf tins, you may need to cover it and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, leave to cool for 20 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.


  • For the ‘cream’: Put the coconut milk, ginger, cinnamon, honey and vanilla in a small pan and heat on a high heat until it’s nearly to the boil. In a cup mix together the cornflour with about 1 tbsp cold water and mix to a paste. Whisk this into the coconut mixture and continue whisking on a low-medium heat until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon rind, then, leave to cool.
  • Ready to indulge? Simply spoon some of the sauce (either warm or cold) on top of the cake, add a few pieces of crystallised ginger if you wish and tuck in!




Don’t they just look amazing! Thank you so much to Pamela for baking these absolute little beauties for my blog – and for bringing a bit of sweetness which my blog clearly needed! -x-

Keep up to date with Pamela’s blog posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any more of her wonderful ‘indulging innocently’ recipes.

For Pamela’s blog, I rustled up a Gluten Free Harissa Falafel with a Quinoa Tabbouleh. Click the link to see the recipe and feel free to share!!

Mr. Sherick’s Shakes

I was recently contacted by The Food Sauce UK to sample some of Mr Sherick’s gourmet milkshakes. Now available in selected shops across the UK, I get the feeling you may be seeing a little more of these naughty little bottles of pure indulgence.

“Crammed full of the finest, ethically sourced ingredients, beautifully blended with fresh British milk, and made extraordinary with exciting bursts of flavours and texture. A little bit of heaven in every bottle.”

That’s the description on their rather groovy website, and I must say, flavour-wise they do live up to expectations. I noticed that in a couple of the creamier flavours, palm oil was present on the ingredients list. Although it says ingredients are ‘ethically sourced’ the individual ingredients are not listed, nor is there any mention of sustainable palm oil usage. So, I contacted Mr Sherick himself to clarify. He got back to me right away to confirm that “the palm oil we use is from certified sustainable sources.” He went on to confirm that “all our ingredients are ethically sourced and our factory is SEDEX affiliated.” I was pleased to hear this, although I do think they could make a little more effort to state this on their site, which is pretty but not very forthcoming with information.

A little background information:

Andrew Sherick, founder of Mr Sherick’s Shakes, former M&S Food Buyer and Chairman of the British Sandwich Association, launched his Shakes in Selfridges in late 2013. Consumer research and his own love of sweet, indulgent treats, identified a gap in the market for premium, luxurious milkshakes aimed primarily at adults.

Mr Sherick’s Shakes first launched in Selfridges in October 2013. Harrods shortly followed suit, as did selected Waitrose, Booths and Partridges. Alongside launching into some of these excellent food stores, they have also won a number of awards including the ‘Gold Innovation Challenge award’ at the Lunch! 2013 show, and ‘Best New Product of the Year 2014’ for the ‘Pot Au Choc’ shake, from The Grocer.

The flavours I sampled were:

  • Pot Au Choc
  • Hint of Mint (same base as Pot Au Choc but with a ‘hint’ of mint)
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Softly Banoffee
  • Strawberry Pavlova

I found all of the flavours to be truly indulgent, and at almost 500 calories per bottle – I wouldn’t expect any less! You can absolutely tell that they use ‘real’ ingredients, as none of the flavours are smooth – they each contain real pieces of the actual ingredients. For example, the Strawberry Pavlova contains real meringue pieces, and the Softly Banoffee contains real toffee pieces, and so on. I really liked this in the chocolate shakes (being a chocolate lover,) but it was quite strange swallowing real pieces of softened meringue with the strawberry shake. It’s nice to have texture, but I think it works better in some of the shakes than others.

Maybe I am missing something, but I do think it would help if their website contained the shakes nutritional information, so people could make more informed choices about whether or not they are willing to spend a big chunk of the days calorie intake in one small little bottle of joy. 🙂

Mr Sherick's Pot Au Choc flavour - yummy.
Mr Sherick’s Pot Au Choc flavour – yummy.

My favourite shake was by far the Pot Au Choc. You can really taste the Belgian chocolate – and I would certainly consider swapping this for a donut or a pudding after my lunch time sandwich… if I ever did that. The packaging and design is also gorgeous – certainly very aesthetically pleasing and unlike any other brand – I think a true representation that these shakes really are like no others on the shelves.

Overall, the shakes are lovely, once you get used to the texture, and sheer and utter indulgence. However, in recent times where people seem to be more and more health conscious (and becoming more attracted to ‘natural juices’ and ‘detox smoothie’ products), I am not sure these will be on the top of my shopping list, as I too am aiming to slim down for the summer!

Mr Sherick's Shakes - the full range in all their glory.
Mr Sherick’s Shakes – the full range in all their glory.

Disclaimer: Mr Sherick’s Shakes were sent to me on a promotional basis, to sample the flavours, via the wonderful The Food Sauce UK. 

A humble pub lunch at The Hawk Inn, Haslington

Haslington is a quaint little village on the outskirts of Crewe, Cheshire. It has a church, a few shops, some lovely thatched roofed houses, a cafe, a chippy and a handful of pubs. Most of the pubs are mainly just for drinkers, however, one of them has made a special effort to become a foodie attraction in the village – The Hawk Inn.

Ran by Tim Cooke, who has been manager there for a year now, has a new Social Media manager on board – Becky, who kindly invited me along to try their food and let them know what I thought.

We arrived at the pub at 1pm, went straight over to the bar to be greeted by Tim himself, who was serving some locals at the bar. A warm, friendly welcome, he seated us at a lovely table in the dining room, next to the window with a view of the thatched roof houses.

I noted they had recently been awarded a hygiene rating of 5 – which was excellent to see, and they proudly displayed the green sticker on the door into the dining room.

We were offered drinks straight away, and given the menus to ponder. Our drinks arrived promptly, and we got straight down to business, examining the menu  and deciding what to eat on this sunny Spring Saturday afternoon.

The choice on the menu, I must say, is a little basic. However, this is not an issue if the dishes are well executed. Starters on offer consist of the all-time pub classic, traditional prawn cocktail, and then a few others which were a little more ‘outside of the box’ including spicy chicken wings, loaded potato skins with cheese and bacon and tempura king prawns. Being seafood lovers, we both opted for the prawn options – I chose the classic prawn cocktail and my guest the tempura king prawns. The prawn cocktail, I must say, was lovely. Very fresh, juicy, plump prawns, a lovely salad and the bread was delicious – soft, wholemeal and lightly buttered. The presentation was delightful, as you can see from the photograph. My guest’s tempura king prawns were a little on the small side, and I am not sure if there were homemade or not – but – they tasted nice, and turned out to be quite morish along with sweet chilli dipping sauce. Overall, two nice starters.

Traditional Prawn Cocktail
Traditional Prawn Cocktail
Tempura King Prawns, served with salad and a sweet chilli dipping sauce
Tempura King Prawns, served with salad and a sweet chilli dipping sauce

Our starters were cleared promptly, and we were asked if we would like the main course right away, or if we would like a little break. As not to rush things we opted for a break, which gave us chance to have a chat with Tim about some other things the pub is now offering. He told us about how they have a pizza oven onsite, and are using it to make homemade, stonebaked pizzas which they serve Wednesday to Saturday 6-10pm. Also available for customers to take away if they pre-order and collect. Popular with the locals, this addition to the menu offered a nice alternative to the more traditional pub grub. Tim was kind enough to bring one out to show us, and even though (for my taste) it looked a little undercooked – the ingredients were clearly very fresh, and the pepperoni smelled delicious.

On to the mains. Again, a very traditional choice of mains on offer; all homemade pub classics such as Steak & Ale pie, Beef Lasagne, Vegetable Lasagne, Curry of the Day, Gammon Steak, Beer Battered Fish & Chips, Scampi & Chips and a Classic Burger topped with bacon, cheddar cheese served with a homemade coleslaw. All of these dishes are also available in smaller, Light Bite options served at lunch time. Also on offer during lunch is a variety of sandwiches and jacket potatoes.

The pub also offer a range of 21 day aged steaks (a 10oz Rump & Sirloin), but unfortunately these need to be ordered a day in advance. This is good in the sense that you know the meat is fresh and from a reputable Butcher – but not so good if you fancy an impromptu steak dinner! All their meat, however, is sourced locally from the wonderful Glebe Farm in Astbury, Cheshire.

'Light Bite' 5oz Gammon (usually served with a fried egg & homemade chips)
‘Light Bite’ 5oz Gammon (usually served with a fried egg & homemade chips)

Our mains arrived promptly and we both opted for ‘Light Bites’ – I chose the classic scampi and chips, a little guilty pleasure of mine… and my guest was ‘being good’ on her healthy eating regime – so she opted for the 5oz gammon, which they were happy to serve with a side salad instead of the usual fried egg and chips 🙂

Traditional Scampi & Chips - a pub classic favourite
Traditional Scampi & Chips – a pub classic favourite

The scampi was lovely, typical pub grub which really hit the spot. The homemade chunky chips were the real showstopper – light and fluffy inside but really crispy on the outside and not at all greasy. The gammon steak was an excellent sized potion, perfectly cooked and a really lovely slab of fresh, juicy meat from their local butcher.

With hearty portions for both starter and mains – we really did not have room for puddings, but there was a good selection on offer – Hot Belgian Waffle served with homemade toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream and Treacle Sponge with custard, to name a few.

Overall the visit to the Hawk Inn was pleasant, tasty and welcoming. Although the food is very traditional in its offerings, it is well executed, locally sourced and in many cases homemade.  They are clearly making a good effort to appeal to wider audiences, by introducing their stonebaked pizzas to the menu – and should be commended for that. The atmosphere was a little lacking, but perhaps because on a sunny day like today, most punters were out and about enjoying the long-awaited sunshine. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quaint pub lunch in the area where you can catch up with friends or family, without the distraction of a ‘hustle and bustle’ atmosphere that is present in many other pubs nowadays.

Thanks to Tim and his team for welcoming us along.

Sophie -x-

Disclaimer: Tim invited me and guest to go along to review the pub’s menu and picked up the cost of our food bill in doing so.

Beef Keema Curry with Steamed Basmati Rice

I wanted something different to cook with lean minced beef. As most foodsters, I have the usual dishes nailed – spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne, lasagne, so craved something new and a little bit more exciting. Inspired by a visit to Dilli, Altrincham, where a colleague of mine ordered Lamb Biryani which looked incredible – I decided to spice things up a bit and go about creating a new recipe I hadn’t tried before – Beef Keema curry.

Beef Keema Curry served with mint yogurt and steamed basmati rice
Beef Keema curry served with mint yogurt and steamed basmati rice

This recipe only takes about 40 minutes and serves 4-6 portions. You can swap out the birdseye chillies for a milder variety if you’re not that keen on spice.  I used Turmeric and Garam Masala for the spices, but you could use curry powder instead of the Garam Masala. I would say the turmeric is essential for that authentic Indian depth of flavour, and wonderful vibrant yellow colour.

For the rice – I follow Jamie Oliver’s ‘Light and Fluffy’ steamed basmati recipe. It’s brilliant and it does exactly what it says on the tin, and works every time. I have pasted it at the bottom of my keema recipe – if you are making them to serve together, start making the rice once you put the curry on to simmer. That way they will both be ready at the same time.

For the mint yogurt – I just mix one teaspoon of mint sauce with 4 tablespoons of natural yogurt, and serve with a dollop on top at the end. Simples!

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed oil (or you can use olive, or vegetable oil)
  • 500g pack lean minced beef
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 2 birdseye chillies, one of which is de-seeded (optional depending on how hot you like it!)
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 carrots, cut into small chunks
  • 200g frozen petits pois or garden peas
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoons natural yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon mint sauce
  • 1 small bunch coriander, chopped
  1. First mix the mint sauce and yogurt, then set aside in the fridge until serving.
  2. Heat some of the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the mince beef, season and cook until browned. Then remove from the pan and discard the excess fat and set aside.
  3. Whiz the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies together in a food processor or chop them all finely. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan, and fry the mixture gently for 2 minutes until onions soften. Then add the chopped carrots and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  4. As the carrots begin to soften , add the browned mince and mix everything together well.
  5. Next add the garam masala and turmeric and fry for another minute, before adding the veg stock and simmering for 30 minutes with a lid on or covered with foil. Stir occasionally.
  6. Remove the lid and add the frozen peas, and cook for 5 minutes. At this point, the liquid should be mostly absorbed.
  7. Just before serving, remove from the heat and stir in the coriander.
  8. Serve with brown pitta bread, steamed basmati (recipe below) and a dollop of the mint yogurt from the fridge.

Jamie Olivers Perfect Steamed Basmati Rice (serves 4):

  • 350g white basmati rice
  • sea salt
  1. Put a large pan of salted water on a high heat and bring to the boil. Rinse the rice in a colander under running water for about 1 minute, or until the water runs clear (this will stop the grains sticking together later).
  2. Add your rice to the boiling water and wait for the grains to start dancing around. From that point, boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the rice in a colander. Pour 2.5cm of water into the pan, put it back on the heat and bring it to the boil again, then turn down to a simmer.
  4. Cover the rice in the colander with foil or a lid. Place the colander on top of the pan of simmering water, and let the rice steam over it for 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and if you’re ready, serve immediately. If not, leave the foil or lid on and put aside until ready to serve – it should stay warm for about 20 minutes.
Alternative serving suggestion - mix the a portion of the curry and rice together, for a biryani style dish - perfect for leftover lunch!
Alternative serving suggestion – mix the a portion of the curry and rice together, for a biryani style dish – perfect for leftover lunch!