Sunday round up. 28/02/2016

What a week!

This was the week I really upped my overnight oats game, all part of a blog feature I’m doing at the moment in collaboration with Holland and Barrett. If you follow me on Instagram¬†you’ll know that this week I posted an image that started a little bit of debate. The below image is of my overnight oats with a dollop of manuka honey on top. Some people thought it was an egg yolk… You’ll just have to take my word for it; it wasn’t!

Cheshire Food Blog

This week I also attended a fantastic cookery class in Wilmslow, run by the lovely Gemma AKA You Say Tomato. She showed us how to cook 3 really easy ‘Deliciously Doable’ dinners, and we sat back and relaxed whilst she whipped them up in front of our eyes.

Quite the hostess, there were nibbles and drinks provided too, and it was all based at her lovely house.

I discovered how utterly divine polenta can be when cooked right (image below of Gemma’s “lemony mushroom ragu on oozy polenta with kale pesto“) which really, honestly, blew my mind. Read more about my evening at You Say Tomato on the blog later this week.

Cheshire Food Blog

So what else has happened this week? I reviewed some Bombay mix flavour crisps and wasabi flavoured popcorn on the blog. Which were very scrumptious snacks indeed.

I also watched the Brit Awards, did you? I have officially decided I’m a ‘Bieliber’ now too, his performance was great. James Bay played guitar for him on stage, which made it for me and really captured my attention. I also thought Rihanna killed it, and the tribute to David Bowie at the end was awesome.

And to end a great week – we had family friends over to stay. I cooked a Moroccan feast, in a tagine from Morocco and using all the authentic spices. Keep your eyes peeled for the recipe to follow.

Our friends brought their puppy along to stay (she’s called Billie and she’s a blue Staffordshire Bull Terrier), and I thought, as it’s Sunday, you might enjoy another doggy picture. So here you go…. JUST LOOK AT HER! ūüíďūüėćūüíď

Cheshire Food Blog

Finally, I had a CRACKING gin and tonic at the Bull’s Head, Mobberley (my local) which was beautifully garnished with lime peel and juniper berries.

Cheshire Food Blog

I hope you’ve all had a great week too.

With love,

Sophie -x-

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Ten Acre snacks.

I really love crisps. They are my ultimate favourite snack, ever. Did anyone read this recent article in the Guardian, about the potential fall of crisps due to the rise and shine of posh popcorn? Well I did. And it made me a little sad. I for one don’t think Brits will ever fall out of love with crisps. And I don’t think they will every be fully replaced by ‘poshcorn’ either.

Which is exactly why, when a company called Ten Acre snacks (who specialise in both varieties of snack) contacted me I was excited to taste them, and see just how a brand can target both crisp lovers and popcorn addicts simultaneously.

Surely one product would be stronger than the other? Surely most flavours would be savoury, thus making them not so appealing to all the sweet-toothed Tessies out there?

I simply had to investigate…

A Manchester based company with a ‘free from’ attitude

Brought to us by Yumsh Snacks who say they make snacks that everyone can enjoy, and when¬†they say everyone, they mean everyone. Pioneering a concept they call ‘free-from plus’ their snacks boast an impressive list of things they are free from:

Gluten, dairy and MSG. Plus, they are vegan, halal and kosher.

So, if that’s what they are free from, the what are they full of? First of all they are British. All of their¬†potatoes, flavourings and packaging are sourced from the UK. And they are made in small batches in the UK too, which I think is very impressive.

I was very generously sent their full range of 10 flavours of hand-cooked crisps, and seven flavours of hand-picked popcorn. Here’s my summary of their stand-out flavours (the full list of flavours is at the bottom of this post).

Crisp taste-testing

The Secret Of Mr Salt –¬†Ready Salted Crisps

I know what you’re thinking. Why is she starting with the boring flavour? Well, my friend. These are not boring. They were the first packet I sampled and they were delicious. It was mainly the texture that got me (which is applicable to all other flavours I sampled).

They have the most delicious crunch – but aren’t too hard like some other hand-cooked crisps out there. Lightly salted but enough so that the seasoning can cut through a decent scoop of plain hummus (which I enjoyed alongside the packet).¬†A fine bag of crisps indeed.

When the Pepper Crack‚Äôd –¬†Black Pepper and Sea Salt Crisps

As above, but with lashing of freshly ground black pepper. Which gives them a great little kick. Also sensational alongside a good pot of hummus for dipping.

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beautiful Bombay spices

When Bombay Got Spicy –¬†Bombay Spice Flavour Crisps

I love Bombay mix, and have honestly never come across a bag of crisps this flavour before. They were delicious, warming, spicy and a great balance of flavours that really did remind me of a handful of Bombay mix. These would be great by the bowlful when you have friends over as something a little different and unexpected.

Pastrami In The Rye –¬†Pastrami Flavour Hand Cooked Crisps

These little beauties were peppery and salty and meaty, all with the same great texture and crunch.¬†Again, another well executed and innovative flavour. Making Walker’s weird and wonderful range look even more horrendous!

 

The Story of When the Cheese Met the Onion –¬†Cheese and Onion Flavour Crisps

Cheese and onion are my favourite flavour crisps, and I have to admit I like the Walker’s variety. Other attempts at cheese and onion just seem to take it too far. Kettle Chips’ mature cheddar and red onion are too intense: too cheesy, and too onion-y.¬†These ones however don’t try to be overly fancy. They are just cheese and onion, very well done.

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delicious crisps with a crispy crunch (that doesn’t break your teeth)

Popcorn taste-testing

Sweet and Salty 

I’m starting with this one, as in our house, we consider ourselves connoisseurs of sweet and salty popcorn varieties. I know that’s not a thing, but trust me – it should be. We have tried alllllllll the brands. And we have our favourite. Here’s how this one holds up: The balance between sweet and salty is good. The sweet pieces are in the form of crystallised chunks that have a light crunch to them. And the rest are dusted with a light salty powder.

So they haven’t¬†quite¬†replaced my favourite brand yet, but their other inventive flavours more than make up for it…

Wasabi 

Well, this flavour is amazing. The best wasabi flavoured product I have tested to date (apart from the real thing). Hot, spicy, gets up your nose a little bit like English mustard. Again, this flavour features the light, crunchy, crystallised kernels which had an almost sweetness to them. Mindbogglingly full of flavour. Nailed it.

Cappuccino

I took one look at this flavour in the extensive collection and thought ‘no’. Just no. Cappuccino flavour? That will be awful, I said. There’s no way that one will work, I said. So I left it until last. Boy, on boy, was I wrong. It was my second favourite after the wasabi and completely different. Much sweeter than I had imagined, with a subtle coffee flavour that added a welcomed bitterness. Delicious and very clever indeed. Hats off, chef.

Overall, I really enjoyed this taste test

The fact that these products are made self-contained here in the UK is great – it’s nice to see a company really embracing¬†what we have here instead of importing bits and bobs from elsewhere.

I thoroughly enjoyed both the crisps and the popcorn, but slightly more so the crisps as they are pretty much my Achilles heel. Their flavours are inventive, well executed and their branding is cute and honest. Packaging lovely. I am not surprised they have won awards. They are a really great product, and there is something for everyone.

You can read more about Ten Acre snacks on their fun and cute website.

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All available flavours:

  1. The Secret Of Mr Salt –¬†Ready Salted Crisps
  2. When the Pepper Crack‚Äôd –¬†Black Pepper and Sea Salt Crisps
  3. When Bombay Got Spicy –¬†Bombay Spice Flavour Crisps
  4. Pastrami In The Rye –¬†Pastrami Flavour Hand Cooked Crisps
  5. How Chicken Soup Saved The Day –¬†Chicken Soup Flavour Crisps
  6. When the Chilli got Sweet –¬†Sweet Chilli Flavour Crisps
  7. The Story of When the Cheese Met the Onion –¬†Cheese and Onion Flavour Crisps
  8. The Amazing Adventures of Salt and Vinegar –¬†Salt and Vinegar Flavour Crisps
  9. When Hickory Got BBQ‚Äôd –¬†Hickory BBQ Flavour Crisps
  10. The Day Sweet and Sour Became Friends -Sweet & Sour Flavour Crisps
  11. Cousin Maisie‚Äôs Fennel and Lemon Popcorn –¬†Fennel and Lemon Flavour
  12. Ambrose Popperley‚Äôs Wasabi Popcorn –¬†Wasabi Flavour
  13. Aunty Winifred‚Äôs Sweet and Salty Popcorn –¬†Sweet and Salty¬†Flavour
  14. Captain Theodore‚Äôs Lime and Sea Salt Popcorn –¬†Lime and Salt Flavour
  15. Cornelius Popperley‚Äôs Sour Cream and Chive Popcorn –¬†Sour Cream and Chive Flavour
  16. Lucia Popperley’s Cappuccino Popcorn- Cappuccino Flavour
  17. Cousin Penelope‚Äôs Strawberry & Cream Popcorn –¬†Strawberry & Cream Flavour

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Sunday round up. 21/02/2016

This week has been a little up and down.

Mainly ups, but some downs. Then I read this article thanks to¬†my¬†best friend, Jodie, and things seemed to gain a little perspective. If you haven’t yet read it, I urge you to. I think it’s applicable to most people. It’s addressed “To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind In Life” but is a¬†particular good read if you’re possibly, potentially, maybe having a brief ¬†‘mid-twenties’ crisis. You’re welcome.

A highlight of this week, without a shadow of a doubt, was curry night at my old man’s. It’s also his birthday today – so shout out to Pete and happy birthday from your number one favourite blogger, Sophie’s Scran!

Dad loves curry. He always has done, always will do. His recent stint living in north Manchester and desire to take a ‘healthier’ approach to eating curry almost daily,¬†saw him ditch the takeways and has started making his own from scratch instead.

Curry Night at Dads (9)
chicken tikka, wholespices and spices simmering in the pan with masala gravy

Inspired by a¬†cookbook he got this Christmas (Atul Kochhar’s Curries of the World), he’s been experimenting will all sorts of new, authentic Indian flavours and techniques. So on Wednesday he made Atul’s British chicken tikka masala complete with homemade chapatis and¬†chickpea dhal.¬†Served with¬†wholespice infused basmati rice.¬†We even tweeted a picture to the twice Michelin starred man himself (Atul, that is), and he kindly tweeted back with his approval. Well done, Dad!

 

Curry Night at Dads (10)
homemade fresh chapatis, ready to be dry-fried in the skillet
Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
puffing up to perfection, Dad’s homemade chapatis
homemade masala gravy - the basis of many curries in Atul's book
homemade masala gravy – the basis of many curries in Atul’s book
the finished feast ‚̧

Sticking with the positives, we are dog-sitting this week for Brad’s parents. It’s so lovely to have their staffy/collie cross, Vinnie,¬†with us this week. We took him on a three hour trek around Tatton¬†Park yesterday, which also gave me the opportunity to browse their food offerings…

In the Housekeeper’s Store they sell all sorts of fancy local ingredients including venison reared on site. I’m making a Moroccan tagine for friends next week, so picked up¬†some mutton,¬†which I thought might be nice instead of lamb. All will be revealed next week!

In the meantime, here’s a cute picture of Vinnie absolutely living the dream after his walk!

It's a dog's life!
It’s a dog’s life!

Have YOU had a good week? I sure hope so. Happy Sunday, anyway.

Sophie -x-

Korean pancakes with leftover roast beef

As you can probably gather from my blog, I don’t have the sweetest tooth. In fact, I’d go as far to say I’m not really a fan of sweet things. THERE, I SAID IT!

I wanted to share with you my version of these savoury pancakes I made last night, a variation on this great¬†recipe¬†from¬†the Three Little Pigs blog ‚̧ thank you, ladies!

This version serves 2 and takes about 20 mins¬†from start to finish. It’s a great alternative to sweet pancakes, and possibly the best way of using leftover roast beef EVER.

What you need

For the dipping sauce

  • 1 tsp of sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 3 tbsp of light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 ¬Ĺ tsp of rice vinegar

For the pancake mix

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water, plus a splash extra if the mixture is too thick
  • 1 large egg (preferably¬†free range!)
  • 100g of cooked beef, shredded or thinly sliced (reserve some for serving if desired)
  • half a courgette, spiralized or use a peeler to cut into ribbons
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • handful of coriander leaves, for serving
  • Sunflower oil for cooking

What to do

For the dipping sauce, mix all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

For the batter, combine the flour, water and egg. Add a splash more water if the mixture is too thick. The add in the remaining ingredients, mix well and season with a little salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, ladle in half of the mixture and spread around the pan so it cooks evenly.

Cook on a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes until the bottom turns golden brown. Shake the pan every minute or so to ensure it doesn’t stick. Flip the pancake and fry for a further two-three minutes on the other side, until the cooked through and the pancake is crisp.

Repeat the process one more with the second half of the mixture. Cut the pancakes any which way you like, or serve whole. Top with the coriander leaves and extra shredded beef (if reserved), drizzle on some of the dipping sauce and serve with the rest of the sauce to dunk!

Garlic-roasted veg with whole wheat fusilli

In my opinion, meal prep is the only way you can guarantee¬†eating healthy, tasty lunches¬†throughout the week. At work, I’m super busy, so I don’t have time to faff about going out for lunch. Plus, I don’t want to spend unesseccery money on stuff that doesn’t make me feel good about what I’m eating.

This is one of my favourite desk lunch recipes. It’s quick and easy, full of texture and flavour and¬†can be made ahead in bulk. Plus it’s a great way to use up nearly-stale bread¬†instead of wasting it. Just wazz up one to two slices in¬†a food processor and you’re away.

This recipes makes 2 hearty lunch portions and takes about 20 mins to rustle up.

I was recently sent some healthy infused rapeseed oils from Borderfields as part of their #IsBetter campaign. I already really rate rapeseed oil as an alternative to olive oil, as it’s much lower in saturated fat but still great to cook with. These infused oils are lovely and will be cropping up in a few of my recipes this month. Thanks to Bordefields for sending them over!

What you need

For the roast veg:

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 peppers (whichever colours you prefer)
  • 2cloves garlic, whole
  • 2tbsp. garlic infused rapeseed oil (I used Borderfields)
  • handful of cherry tomatoes

For the pasta:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic infused rapeseed oil
  • 140g whole wheat fusilli
  • 50g fresh brown breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano all work well)
  • handful of fresh basil, roughly torn, plus extra¬†to serve
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, to serve
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

What to do

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Roughly chop the veg and arrange in a roasting tin along with the 2 cloves garlic. Drizzle with the oil and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands to make sure everything is coated. Pop in the middle of the oven for 35 mins, tuning once halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta until al-dente.¬†In a large saucepan, heat the other 2 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat. Once hot, add the breadcrumbs, dried herbs and minced garlic, stir well. Heat gently until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown, but make sure they don’t burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil leaves.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the breadcrumb mixture. Stir well to ensure everything is coated. Add a little hot water if you feel the mixture needs loosening a little.
  4. Separate the pasta mixture in to two Tupperware’s and top each with the roasted veg and a¬†fresh grating of Parmesan cheese.¬†Keeps in the fridge well for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or¬†re-heated in the microwave for lunch!

What are your favourite pasta dishes, or healthy make-ahead lunches? Use the comments below, I would love to hear your thoughts!