Cheshire Food Blogger

Thai Street Food at Chilli Banana’s Sunday Buffet

I have been eating Thai food until I pop, again. And this time was even more fun than last time. This time, Chilli Banana Wilmslow were shaking things up at their regular Thai Sunday buffet; introducing more street-food dishes including authentic Thai street carts to serve them up in! I got invited along to sample the whole lot and take some photos of the experience. Here’s how I got on….

We arrived just after 1pm and the place was almost full. Busy across both floors with hungry families, groups of friends and couples (old and young) meandering around the place with full or empty places getting their fill of tasty Thai treats. As we looked at the menu we were amazed at the variety on offer. Our table was upstairs on the terrace (that was covered up, with heaters on) directly opposite a cute Thai cart serving up fresh pork noodle soup… I knew what I was going to try first!

The list of dishes on offer featured an impressive 5 starters, 8 main dishes and 3 desserts plus traditional Thai coffee, all of which were being served up throughout the building. Each serving station had plates and an array of appropriate condiments/seasoning’s to enhance and personalise each dish to your liking.

You guessed correct, we started with noodle soup. Each bowl was made fresh to order by a lovely Thai chef. The dish comprised of a stunningly seasoned broth, pork meat balls, strips of pork, bean sprouts, cabbage and rice noodles.

Once chef had served you a bowl of hot soup, it was then time to top and season. Crushed peanuts and sliced spring onions added lovely texture and even more flavour to the dish. Sugar, fish sauce and chillies added an extra depth of flavour that you could tweak until you got it just how you like it.  This was such a stunning dish and I really couldn’t recommend it enough! A great was to whet the appetite!

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Goyteow Moo Namtok (pork noodle soup) the stunning finished product ❤

Downstairs, in front of the kitchen all of the starter dishes were laid out, being readily topped-up by chefs on the busy shift. We sampled the vast majority of them, and there were a few real stand-out dishes. The Kanom Gui Chai was dim sum stuffed with chives and marinated in sweet soy. They were also referred to as ‘chive cakes’ and they really were delicious.

Another great dish from this selection was the Si Ooah – Northern Thai spicy sausage. This was served in chunky slices, and it was spicy. It was packed full of Thai flavours like lemongrass, chilli and spring onions. I’d not tried this before but I really, really enjoyed it.

The marinated pork and chicken skewers were also gorgeous and the peanut sauce served with the chicken was particularly good. There was also salad bits to choose from if you wanted to keep things light. The only disappointing dish I tried was the vegetarian spring rolls, the filling was a little thin on the ground so all you could really  taste was the pastry.

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selection of Thai starters ❤

By this point, we were starting to get a little full. But there was still sooooo many dishes to taste, so we soldiered on. I wanted to try something a little different so went for the Kow Man Gai – steamed chicken and rice served with cucumber and a rich, fragrant sauce.  The chickens were steamed whole on a rotisserie, which made them unbelievably juicy and tender. I’d not tried a Thai dish like this before but I really enjoyed it and it did feel like quite a clean, healthy option that was still packed full of flavour through the sauce.

Back upstairs, and Bradley was getting stuck into ‘the curry shop’. A stall in the upper floor restaurant that was serving up Raan Kow Gaeng – a selection of Thai red, green and a pork stir-fry curry. We tried the Thai red curry and the port stir-fry… The curry was packed full of bamboo shoots and chicken and had a really nice creamy texture and was mild on the spices. The pork was a little on the salty side for me but overall it was a nice dish and the green beans were really crunchy.

As if that wasn’t enough, we still had some more dishes to try. This was one of my favourites, and I think another lighter option for those wanting to watch the calorie intake. The Pad Thai was stunning. This is one of my favourite Thai dishes, but to have it made fresh to order by a Thai chef and to watch him make it in front of your eyes in the middle of the restaurant is really special. I went for the vegetarian (tofu) option, but they also had chicken.

The finished product was stunning, and again you could add bits and season yourself to get the balance just how you like it with crushed peanuts and fresh lime. It was steaming hot, the tofu and egg tasted fresh and the veggies were crisp and delicious. The chef was a really nice chap too 🙂

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Traditional Pad Thai ❤

So after this epic feast, there was just puddings to go. I must admit, Thai puddings don’t really have anything on English, French or American. But we tried all options with an open mind and were in some cases, pleasantly surprised. First up was the Kanom Krok (coconut cakes) which were again being made fresh on a large purpose made hotplate that gently cooked the coconut milk, rice, sugar and spring onion (yes you read that correctly!) and the other dish we tried was the i-teem Kati (coconut ice cream with traditional Thai toppings). The coconut cakes were nice, quite light and sweet. However, I wasn’t keen on spring onion as a topping, I found this a little too savoury for a dessert!

The coconut ice cream however was delicious. The toppings were a little strange (diced sweet potato in a sweet syrup!) but overall this was a lovely way to end traditional Thai feast, particularly when washed down with a cup of kaffee bolan – Thai coffee served with sweet condensed milk. Naughty, but very nice indeed:-)

Overall we thoroughly enjoyed this culinary adventure and enjoyed the vast majority of all the dishes we tried. I think the introduction of street food to the Sunday buffet is fantastic. It adds a new sense of adventure and makes the whole thing a really fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon.

There were lots of families there with young children, so I’d say the buffet was a great place for families and a good way to introduce kids to the exotic flavours of Thailand by allowing them try little bits that they like the look of.

This epic feast has also got us planning our trip to Thailand! Thanks very much to Steve and Mai for inviting me 🙂

Find out more about Chilli Banana on their website here, and to book a table at the Wilmslow Sunday Buffet, contact below:

The Chilli Banana Thai Restaurant,
71 Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire,
SK9 5BQ

T: 01625 539 100

E: wilmslow@chillibanana.co.uk


I was invited to the Chilli Banana to sample the new menu and as such the meal was complimentary, However, as with all of my reviews, my thoughts and opinions are as honest and objective as possible.
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Cheshire Food Blogger

What the Pho?!

Before Christmas I ate out at Pho, Manchester, with my little sister Hannah B. We had a bit of a feast. Plus wine. We were catching up, it was a Saturday. It was all very fun indeed. Here’s a little more about the scran…

Pho brings Vietnamese food to Manchester’s Corn Exchange

Set in the newly refurbished and very stunning Corn Exchange, this place is a true delight. Over 3 floors, the ground floor welcomes you to high ceilings, super-cool decor (including trendy neon lights) and a little bar in the corner that serves some great wines, cocktails and beers. We tried their version of a mojito, rather aptly named the ‘Phojito’ and it was sharp, refreshing and delicious. I also highly rated their sauvignon blanc, and Hannah enjoyed the pinot grigio blush as we hungrily scanned the menu…

The starter collection is extensive “dipping, rolling and sharing is what our starters and sides were made for” it reads… Chicken wings, meatballs and summer rolls, to name a few.

We opted for the rather healthy fresh rice paper rolls (aka Gỏi cuốn) – king prawns meticulously wrapped in sticky rice paper with coriander, vermicelli noodles and pickles. You can choose from either ‘nước chấm’ or peanut sauce – we opted for ‘nước chấm’, a sharp, slightly sour chilli sauce that absorbs into the contents of the perfectly stuffed rice paper as you dunk.

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fresh rice paper summer rolls with herbs, vermicelli
& pickle

Being seafood lovers, we also shared the ‘Muc chiên giòn’ – tender fried baby squid with a salt, pepper & lime dip. The dip arrives separately and you get to mix it up yourself at the table, adding to it as you wish the array of table condiments (Siracha, soy or fish sauce). The squid was piping hot, juicy and fresh. We thoroughly enjoyed it.  The portion size was also very generous, so if you’re sharing like we were there is plenty to go around.

For the mains, Hannah went for prawns, again. Yes, there is a theme occurring. She chose the ‘Xào’ which was described on the menu as a ‘stir fry of chilli & greens in a mild gingery sweet sauce’. We both enjoyed it – but I would not, in any way, describe the sauce as ‘mild’. The sauce was in fact rich, light in its consistency (pictured below) and absolutely slapped you in the face with a fist full of tangy ginger and dark soy. It was amazing. But, I fear, possibly slightly misleading when described as mild!

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king prawn Xào stir fry of chilli & greens in a rich, gingery sauce

I, of course, decided to go for the Pho. I went all out and chose a house special; Pho dặc biệt: king prawns, tofu & flash fried steak with garlic in beef broth. The broth itself was full of flavour, piping hot and contained loads of fresh herbs and veggies which was delicious. The prawns were also really big, plump and juicy. The flash-fried beef however, was a little on the tough side. And I thought the tofu overtook the dish a little so I had to leave a load of it out. But apart from that the dish was tasty, filling, warming and fresh. Next time I’m going to try one of the spicy seafood broths instead! No tofu!

Overall we really enjoyed our meals and I am looking forward to returning to try more dishes. The staff were very attentive, although it wasn’t too busy as we visited at 4pm on a Saturday, so in between the lunch and dinner rushes.

Have you been to Pho yet? What did you think? Would you recommend any other  places to eat in Manchester’s Corn Exchange?

I was invited to Pho to review some options from their menu, as during the launch I didn’t get any food as there wasn’t enough to go around. 🙂 However, all opinions are my own and I have tried to be as objective as possible throughout my visit and review.

Sophie -x-

Cheshire Food Blog

King Prawn & Chorizo Stew

I love taking inspiration from other food bloggers, and this recipe was inspired by just that. I recently saw a similar recipe posted by Lindsay from ‘Always Make Thyme,’ except Lindsay’s recipe was a Cod, Chorizo and Chickpea Stew.

After reading her recipe, I soon discovered I also share Lindsay’s obsession with chorizo. I’m still well-stocked up on it too, after my recent visit to the Foodie’s Festival (where I bought my own body-weight in the stuff). So, a Spanish-inspired dish using the meaty, spicy sausage was on the cards anyway, sooner or later!

My creation includes juicy king prawns, sweet potato, chickpeas and spinach and is finished with some fresh lemon juice and parsley. The shrimp paste is optional, but I do find it adds a mellow fish-flavour, which brings the prawns and Spanish sausage together nicely.

This dish serves 4  and takes about 40 minutes from start to finish. It’s a complete meal, but if you want to serve with a bit of crusty bread then you can!

What you need:

  • 5 raw, peeled, king prawns per person
  • 1 chorizo sausage, 225g, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, very finely diced (I used a half of a huge Japanese onion from my colleague’s allotment!)
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced into 1cm cubes
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp smoked (or normal) paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced using a garlic crush
  • 1  tin peeled plum tomatoes, chopped with scissors
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp Calvia Rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp dried Thyme
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach
  • 400ml organic chicken stock (I use Kallo)
  • 1 small pinch shrimp paste (optional)
  • half juice 1 fresh lemon
  • handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

What to do:

Heat the oil in a large, heavy based pan and add the diced onion. Fry over a low-medium heat for 5-7 minutes until very soft and translucent. Add the crushed garlic cloves and continue to gently fry for 3 minutes.

Add the chorizo, paprika and season with a pinch of salt, cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the now-chopped tomatoes, bay leaves, dried herbs and stir well.

Add the chickpeas, diced sweet potato, stock and season with black pepper and the pinch of shrimp paste (if using). Next, stir in the tbsp of tomato puree, cover and gently simmer over a medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes (until the potatoes are tender). Check occasionally and stir as needed.

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Leave the stew to gently simmer, with the lid on

When the timer is up, stir in the king prawns and spinach, and cook for a further 3-5 minutes over the same heat, until the spinach has fully wilted.

Finish with a squeeze of the fresh lemon juice and the parsley.

Serve with crusty bread (if desired) and ENJOY! ❤

Tahini Lemon Biscuits

You might have noticed I don’t really bake that much. I’ve featured some pretty impressive guest-posts by way of showcasing some brilliant bakes, like when I made this lush Raspberry & Coconut Cake with my friend Cee, or when Pamela made these gorgeous Ginger Cakes with Spiced Lemon Cream as a guest recipe. Very yum indeed.

Inspired by last week’s #GBBO biscuits theme, I thought I would get my bake-on again and rustled these little beauties up. I must say, it’s one of the easiest and most delightful recipes I have ever followed. Thanks to the lovely Ruby Tandoh (finalist of the Great British Bake Off, 2013), as I found it in her book “CRUMB” which I got for my birthday earlier this year.

This is the second recipe I’ve made from her book, which is very well laid out, the recipes are simple, easy to follow and the photography is plain and moody, which I like. The balance between the lemon and tahini is delicious, the tahini is delicate, nutty and it’s bitterness is wonderfully offset by the sugar and the mild zing from the lemon zest. In her own words; “The result is a delicate biscuit, as tender as shortbread but without the heaviness.” They really are gorgeous.

Not sure if this counts as a , but I thought I’d share the recipe with you on the blog, as they are so lovely. Makes about 24.

What you need:

  • 120g unsalted butter, softened
  • 120g tahini
  • 120g caster or granulated sugar, I used caster
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180°c/fan 160°c/gas mark 4 and line a large baking tray with a sheet of baking parchment.

Cream the butter, tahini and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then mix in the lemon zest. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, mashing gently under the back of a spoon to combine.

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Cream the butter, sugar and tahini

Roll out 24 conker-size balls from the mixture and space them apart on the baking tray. Pat each ball down to a flattish disc, about 1cm thick. It doesn’t matter in the slightest if the biscuits have little cracks around the edge. You can use a fork at this point to make lines or a crosshatch pattern on the top of the biscuits.

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Let the biscuits cool on the baking tray, before transferring to a rack

Bake for 12-15 minutes; the edges should be golden brown. The biscuits will be very crumbly when first baked but leave them on the tray and they will become firmer as they cool. Once cold, transfer them to a wire rack.

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Lemon Tahini Biscuits ❤

Cheats Sunday Roast with Hache Steaks & Roast Summer Veg

If you live as a couple, like I do with my boyfriend, Bradley, making a full blown roast dinner for just the 2 of you can be a real faff. There are loads of elements to a well-executed Sunday roast; perfectly roasted joint of meat, the all-important roasties and of course the nation’s favourite, Yorkshire puds.

The point I am trying to make is that sometimes, you want a complete roast but it’s not worth getting sweaty in the kitchen for hours for just the two of you. I’m sure you all have other things you would rather be doing… 😉

So, Brad and I have 3 solutions to this (that we rotate on a regular basis); 1. go to the pub for a roast, The Bulls Head is a stone’s throw down the road and their roasts are great, 2. go to one of our parents’ house for the traditional family Sunday roast with all the trimmings, or 3. make an easier, trimmed down version in the comfort of our own kitchen.

Today I want to share with you just one of my varieties of option 3. An easy, less-fuss-than-your-average Sunday roast that still tastes great, has (most) of the trimmings and is actually a lot less calorific. Using the hache steaks means you still get a big slab of juicy, tender beef, it’s just not from a whole roasted joint. Using instant gravy granules is a great substitute for proper gravy (afterall, you can’t make proper gravy without fat from the roasted meat anyway) which has hardly any calories in comparison. A roast isn’t a roast without Yorkshire puds, so don’t panic – I’ve not left those bad boys out.

I say give this a go one Sunday! Easy peasy. From start to finish this takes about an hour and serves 2, with a few leftovers for a midnight snack if you wish!

What you need:

For the Roasted Summer Veg

  • 4 British carrots
  • 2 large courgettes
  • 5 shallots
  • 2 tbsp Calvia Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Calvia Honey
  • 1 tsp each of coriander seeds and cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh Thyme

For the Yorkies

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 large egg

For the rest

  • 2 hache steaks, I use these from Muscle Foods
  • 4 heaped tsp of gravy granules
  • 1 pack of Cheshire Farm Roast Potatoes
  • Choice of greens for steaming (I used fresh broccoli and frozen petits pois)
  • Bisto instant gravy granules (chicken or beef)

What to do

First of all, make your Yorkshire pudding batter. Combine the flour, milk and egg in a bowl and mix well (I use a hand blender). Once fully mixed, cover and set aside in the fridge until later.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Next, prepare your veg. Chop the carrots and courgettes into 3cm chunks and arrange in a single layer in a roasting tray. Peel and halve the shallots and add them to the tray too. Drizzle with the Calvia rapeseed oil and add the thyme, bay leaves and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Give the pan a good shake so all the veg is evenly coated.  Pop in the middle shelf of the preheated oven, and set the time for 40 minutes.

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Using a pestle and mortar, grind the cumin and coriander seeds well and set aside.

Prep your greens by washing, chopping and adding to a steamer pan, ready to steam later.

Remove the Cheshire Farm roasties from the packaging and place on a roasting tray. Add to the middle shelf of the oven, alongside the roasted veg. At this point, add a tbsp of rapeseed oil to a yorkshire pudding tray (I use one like this) and add to the top shelf of the oven, to heat the oil before adding the batter.

After 15 minutes, remove the roasted veg from the oven and give it a stir. Add the balsamic vinegar, Calvia honey and spices and return to the oven. Check your roasties and turn them over now – this is your last chance!

At this point, you should have about 25 minutes left on the timer. Perfect for Yorkshire puddings. Carefully remove the yorkshire pudding tray with hot oil from the top shelf, and add 1 ladleful of the batter to each dip in the tray. Return the tray to the top shelf of the oven and don’t open the door until it’s ready (allow at least 20 minutes before opening the door)!

On the hob, heat water to the boil in a steamer saucepan ready for the greens, and also set a heavy-based griddle pan or frying pan over a medium heat ready to cook the steaks

Put the veg on to steam for 10 minutes over a low simmer

Lightly oil the steaks and add to the hot pan, cook for 3.5 mins on each side for medium-rare and if they are done before the veg and the rest of the roast, remove them from the pan and wrap them in tin foil until needed. This will keep them hot and will tenderise them further as the meat rests

Prep your gravy by mixing boiling water (from the steamed veg if you can) with the instant granules as per the packet instructions

Hopefully, everything should come together at around the same time! Plate up your feast, serve with English mustard and creamy Horseradish and voila, your cheats roast is served!

Do you live as a couple, or maybe a house share with friends? What’s your favourite thing to cook and eat on a Sunday? Tweet your pictures to @sophiesscran on Twitter or give me a tag @sophiesscran on Instagram! I would love to see your #happySunday snaps ❤

Lean Sausage Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a dish I really, really love. It pretty much hits alllll the mid-week dinner sweet spots: nutritious, check. Quick, check. Minimal washing up, check. It’s also perfect for a weekend brunch, especially when you team it with bacon and warm baguettes like I did with my ‘Hungover Breakfast.’ But, if you’re looking for something different and healthy to rustle-up in the evenings: then this variation of the dish for you.

This is probably as good a time as any to point out how versatile this dish is too: if you don’t like mushrooms, swap them for diced peppers, or leave them out. If you’re not keen on spice, skip the cayenne pepper. If you’re veggie, lose the meat and add more of the stuff you like. If you’re feeling naughty and fancy using all pork sausages then WHY THE HELL NOT! In this version, I use half pork sausage and half chicken sausage. This isn’t because only half of me was feeling healthy that day, honestly… It’s because my boyfriend’s ‘bulking’ and I’m doing exactly the opposite – so sometimes we just have to meet halfway. Using all of either sausage, or a mix of the two doesn’t matter. It still tastes great, so do whatever you fancy.

The possibilities really are endless with this dish. I’d love to see your creations, so make sure you tag me @sophiesscran if you try this one!

This recipe serves 2 hungry people and you should have some leftover for lunch (bonus). It takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook from start to finish. Equipment-wise, all you need is a large, heavy based frying pan and a working grill.

Lean Sausage Shakshuka <3
Lean Sausage Shakshuka ❤

What you need:

  • 2 chicken breast sausages, I use these ones from the mighty Muscle Foods
  • 2 lean pork sausages
  • 1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 60-70g sliced mushrooms (about a quarter of a punnet)
  • 2 heaped tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • fresh coriander to serve (optional)

What to do:

  1. First of all fry (in a little coconut oil) or grill the sausages until just cooked through, then slice and set aside.
  2. If you’re using the same large frying pan, give it a quick wipe with some kitchen paper, then add some more coconut oil and gently fry the onion for 2-3 minutes. Then add the sliced mushrooms and stir-fry until softened.
  3. Pre-heat the grill to medium (180° C).
  4. Add the garlic to the pan and stir well, then add the spices. Stir everything really well as the spices release their aromas.
  5. Add the sliced sausage back to the pan, along with the tin of chopped tomatoes and stir. If the mixture looks a little dry add just a splash of water, and bring to a gentle simmer for 8 minutes or so while the sauce thickens.
  6. Make some space for the eggs, then crack them on top of the mixture and lightly season to taste. Transfer the pan to the grill and heat at 180° C for 3-4 minutes, checking them regularly to ensure the eggs are cooking gently. Reduce the heat slightly if needed.
  7. Remove the pan from the grill and top with finely chopped coriander, and if you like it spicier, some hot sauce on the side!

 

I was recently contacted by Adjustable Beds to see if I wanted to take part in their “Breakfast In Bed” eBook which is coming early 2016. I have submitted this recipe to be part of the eBook, as I think this is a lovely recipe to eat in bed with a brew on a lazy Saturday morning!

Keep a look out for the full eBook coming in January next year, I can’t wait!

Cheshire Food Blogger

Ollie’s Mulberry and Apple Jam

Morning Campers!

I’ve not treated you to one of these for a while, a lovely guest post plus special recipe, this time from Ollie Nuttall – Head Chef at Cheerbrook Farm Shop & Butchers in Nantwich, Cheshire. A local lad born and bred in the Nantwich area, Ollie started cheffing in his early teens and has learnt some of his craft whilst working in various well-rated establishments across Cheshire. He worked as sous-chef at Brunning & Price’s Old Hall in Sandbach and then went on to work at Cheshire Cat Pub Co.’s The Three Greyhounds, in Allostock, Knutsford. Both pubs serve delicious, creative, comforting classics that are consistently well-executed and both in absolutely gorgeous settings.

Being on the creative side of the academic spectrum, and with a passion for food that shone through from an early age, Ollie decided to pursue a career as a chef to follow his ambition. When I met up with Ollie to find out more about why he loves what he does (and to try his delicious jam) he was quick to tell me that no two days are the same. The job is always keeping him on his toes; coming up with new recipe creations based on the freshest, seasonal produce Cheshire has to offer and serving them up in the idyllic setting of Nantwich.

This recipe is fresh from the fruit in his garden – juicy mulberries and big cooking apples. As they were ripe and ready, he wasted no time in turning them into this scrumptious jam which is perfect on scones or even just a slice of toast. He admits, this is not something he’d usually make, but as it’s a great way to use up what nature’s provided (and save money on future pots of jam!) he thought, why not. It only cost £4 for the sugar, and 30p for the lemon the only gadget you might need to make the perfect jam is a big heavy saucepan and a jam thermometer

This recipe takes about 1 hour and makes about 2.5kg (5 lb) of jam, or 6 jars full.

What you need:

  • 1.5kg (3 lb) mulberries, washed
  • 600ml (1 pint) water
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 500g (1 lb) cooking apples (prepared weight), peeled, cored & sliced
  • 1.75kg (3.8 lb) jam sugar
  • A knob of butter

What to do:

  1. Wash 6 largish jam jars, and place on a tray in the middle of the oven at 100°c to sterilise them. Leave them in the oven at this heat, until the jam is ready.
  2. Place the mulberries in a preserving pan (large heavy based saucepan) with half the water and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until soft and pulpy.
  3. Place the prepared apples, lemon juice and zest in a separate pan with the remaining water, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add the apples to the mulberries in the preserving pan, and stir in the sugar.
  5. Continue stirring until all the sugar is dissolved, then add the knob of butter.
  6. Boil the jam for 10-30mins and use a jam thermometer to test the temperature (It could take longer than 30mins)
  7. Test for a set using the jam thermometer, and when setting point is reached, take it off the heat and remove the top layer using a slotted spoon.
  8. Remove the jars from the oven, and divide the jam into them equally then add the lids.

Do you have any fresh fruit growing in the garden, which you could turn into jam? Gooseberries are in season at this time of year, as well as red currants, blueberries and cherries!

Let me know if you’re making a jam this summer and use the hashtag #sophiesscran to show me your creations.

Follow Ollie on Instagram here for more food ideas and recipe inspiration.

Ollie's Mulberry & Apple Jam <3
Ollie’s Mulberry & Apple Jam ❤

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Fries & Slaw

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Slaw & Fries… YUM
After sharing the photo of this dish last night on Facebook and Instagram, it’s had a really positive reaction so I thought I’d better get the recipe up ASAP!

So last night, my friend Charlotte (Cee for short) came round and I hadn’t seen her in a long while. She’s been living in Austraila on a working holiday, then travelling the world for the last 6 months and this was the first time I’d seen her in almost 3 years. In Austrailia, she worked as a deckhand/cook on various fishing boats. Some were shrimp boats, some pearling boats. As well as getting stuck into the hard graft of the fishing, she also did a lot of cooking. A cake a day on most occasions!

We were therefore surprised (but very happy) to discover on Cee’s return that we both have found a love and comfort in food that we can now share together.

Cee is joining me this weekend at my place in Mobberley, for a good old catch up but also to get our bake on. Last night we rustled up this amazing Buttermilk Fried Chicken (based on Gizzi Erskine’s recipe from Skinny Weeks and Weekend Feasts).

Here is the recipe if you want to try it at home. All in all it takes about 15 mins to prep, then 15-18 minutes to cook each batch of chicken (depending on how much you use). This recipe serves 4 hungry people.

What you need:

  • 2 free range eggs
  • 100ml buttermilk
  • 50ml ice cold water
  • 30-50ml hot sauce (I used 50ml of Encona Original Hot Pepper Sauce)
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • Oil for frying, I used approx. 1.5L vegetable oil

What to do:

  1. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or in a wok over a medium-high heat, to 180°C. If you don’t have a Thermometer and are using the wok method (like me) then don’t let the oil smoke – if it does it is too hot. Use a small piece of bread to test it first, if the bread browns nicely after a few seconds – it’s ready.
  2. Beat the eggs and buttermilk together with the water in a bowl, then stir in the hot sauce.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, black pepper, white pepper, salts and garlic powder.
  4. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, then coat well in the seasoned flour.
  5. Fry the chicken in the oil in batches, starting with the thighs as they take the longest (17-18 minutes). Then the drumsticks, which take about 15 minutes.
  6. Tip: to check if the chicken is cooked, take a piece out of the fryer using a slotted spoon and cut open to check the meat is no longer pink.
  7. When ready, drain on kitchen paper and serve (they will keep warm in the oven whilst you cook the next batch).

This recipe really was delicious and so perfect for a weekend treat! I served this with homemade coleslaw (recipe to follow) and regular oven fries seasoned with plenty of salt & pepper.


If you try this recipe I would love to hear how you get on! Use the hashtag #sophiesscran in your photos.

Enjoy!
Sophie -x-

Dine Around the Dome, intu Trafford Centre

Last Thursday evening, I got to stand-in for the wonderful M-Dog at what was honestly one of the best food events I have attended. As M-Dog was off on his jollies, lapping up the sunshine, he was unable to attend, so that’s where Sophie’s Scran stepped in.

We were to ‘dress for dinner,’ and arrive promptly at 6:30 to dine for 7:00, starting in the 360 Champagne & Cocktail Bar for welcome aperitifs (Elderflower Martini’s). And boy were they delicious – the perfect mix of dryness, sweetness and a little sourness from the lemon garnish, they were honestly delightful. It was at this point we could acquaint ourselves with each other; there was about 15 of us in total, all female and all bloggers. This was with the exception of Justin the PR Manager and Jason the photographer! At this point I did wonder if M-Dog would fit in with this fabulous but rather ‘girly’ mixture of Fashion, Beauty, Mummy, Lifestyle and Food bloggers… but then I remembered he’s a dog. When foods on the table, he isn’t fussy in the slightest!

Our first stop was Café Rouge, a lovely little French restaurant on the first floor of intu Trafford Centre’s Orient. On the menu here was Ceviche de Salmon. Atlantic Salmon slices cured in lime and marinated in chilli, red and spring onion, finished with fresh coriander, olive oil and served on baby gem lettuce. This really was a delight – so fresh, clean and a great hit of coriander which I loved. The paired wine was a lovely Saint Etalon Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and tangy which went perfectly well with the fish.

Next port-of-call was the wonderful Carluccio‘s, for a sensational array of anti-pasti style dishes which were all ready laid out on the table, waiting for us to just sit down and dig in. I absolutely love sharing plates – so was in my element here. The dishes on offer were; Pepolata Arancini – crispy fried pepolata (a delicious Italian red pepper sauce) and mozzarella rice balls, served with a (rather addictive) red pepper mayonnaise for dipping. Also served was Caponata, a traditional Sicilian aubergine sweet and sour stew served chilled with toasted focaccia for dipping. And to accompany, a selection of Salumi (thinly sliced meats from Carluccio’s deli), Parma ham, Milano Salami, Napoli Salami, and a delicious herb-roasted ham. The whole selection really was to die for – and went wonderfully well with the selected drink – Aperol Spritz, refreshing and very summery. It felt like we were dining al-fresco.

As if this wasn’t enough, we were only half way through our Dine Around the Dome experience! Just a very short walk across the way to the very vibrant Las Iguanas. Here, we feasted on the following dishes: Mexican spice-dusted corn chips with tomato salsa and the juiciest Peruvian olives. Empanandas in two varieties lamb and mint which was fantastic, and also brie and mango, which I was sceptical about at first but actually really enjoyed it. A lovely Mango and pecan salad which was really fresh and complimented all of the other dishes well. Churrasco Skewers – honey glazed chicken and halloumi served with Manioc root fries. I wasn’t too keen on the fries, I found them heavy and quite oily, but the halloumi and chicken on the skewers were sensational – especially the cheese which was juicy and soft and not rubbery in the slightest! The drink of choice here was the fantastically fruity Mando Collins (Absolut Mango vodka, triple sec, orange & mango juices, topped with lemonade). The most refreshing cocktail I have tasted in a while!

By this point my tummy had stretched a little and was somehow ready for the next and final savoury course of the evening. We were treated to authentic, homemade Japanese and Korean dishes at the lovely Wokooshi – an independent, family-run restaurant in the heart of intu Trafford Centre’s China Town. We started with a Korean dish called ‘Beef Bulgogi’ which was amazing – the Beef is marinated in Korean soy sauce, sugar and black pepper then cooked on a sizzling hot plate. Wrapped in a lettuce leaf and dipped in a hot sauce – this was a seriously tasty dish. Next was the salmon Teppanyaki, which was cooked to perfection. The owner came out to talk to use about the dishes, and told us how they buy the salmon whole, then use the whole fish for the various dishes on the menu (such as the sushi and this Teppanyaki dish). Another Japanese dish served was sizzling Seafood  Udon Noodles, which had lovely scallops and king prawns. The final dish was Korean – Spicy Chicken Bibimbap, made with steamed rice served in a hot stone bowl topped with chicken, carrots, kimchi, mushrooms, bean sprouts and seasonal greens. It is then mixed at the table with chilli paste and a fried egg. I must say, I love spicy food but this was a little on the too-hot side for me! However, as it was the owner who served the dish for us at the table, he did say that other pastes were available so the dish wasn’t always this hot. Served with a stunning Sake (Sho Chiku Bai Nigori Sake), a light Japanese Black Beer (Asahi Premium) and the most delicious sparkling Sake (which was like Japan’s answer to Processo, honestly, this was so delicious. That’s the Processco shortage sorted!!)

After this epic journey from France, Italy, South America, Japan and Korea – it was up to the The Captain’s Lounge for desserts. We picked our desserts at random – and I just so happened to pick one of my favourites – Tiramisu! Homemade by Pesto – yet another of the Trafford Centre’s restaurants. Up in the lounge we all enjoyed our desserts, Nespresso coffees and an Espresso Martini. Absolutely delicious.

Overall this event was fantastic. It was really well organised and the hosts seemed to genuinely want us to have a great time, it was clear in the way that they looked after us so well.  A big thanks to them all for making sure it all ran so smoothly. I will certainly look in at the Trafford Centre’s dining hotspots in a different light going forwards, knowing now that they do have bespoke and original menus. I especially cannot wait to return to Wokooshi with my boyfriend to try out their Sushi and that heavenly sparkling Sake!

View from the Captain's Lounge, Trafford Centre. Photo Credit Jason Lock
View from the Captain’s Lounge, Trafford Centre. Photo Credit Jason Lock

Dine Around the Dome event at the intu Trafford Centre, Manchester. This was a PR and Marketing event and as such all meals and drinks were complimentary.
Picture © Jason Lock Photography, www.jasonlock.co.uk

Review: Splendid Kitchen, Manchester

A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend, his friend and I ventured out of Cheshire and into Manchester to get a proper ‘scran’ on and make the most of Splendid Kitchen’s 50% off food bill in April. In their own words:

“Splendid Kitchen serves a very British take on the best of American cooking. Our hot dogs are made using only the finest locally sourced butcher’s sausages and our beef burgers are hand made in house, while our Big Plates take influence from both Britain and the United States to create something we like to call ​’Northern Soul Food.’ “

So we were greeted & seated by very lovely, friendly staff. Great first impression. The place is casual, cool and trendy, which I liked a lot.

First off, the corn dogs were amazing – so fresh, perfectly seasoned sausage and the corn coating was light and fluffy, with a great mustard dip. Seeings as these guys specialise in sausages, and have their very own company, The Splendid Sausage Company – I expected nothing less, they really were fantastic.

 

Splendid Sausage Corn Dogs – yum!
  
Corn Dog with homemade mustard
  
Slider Sharer
 

We also tried the Slider Sharer and this was great, however I did think the half-brioche buns tasted a little stale, but, saying that – this could be because they are a part-bread, part-brioche mix which I am not used to, so that could explain the difference in texture!

 

A damn good tasting/looking chicken burger!
 
Monkfish Tacos
 
Onto the mains, a highlight for me was that chicken burger. It looked fantastic and tasted great too. Crispy, well seasoned and perfect amount of salad/slaw. The Porklife hotdog was also epic. Slight meat sweats induced afterwards but I would expect nothing less from such a mighty meaty morsel. I went for the Monkfish Tacos – slightly disappointed with these as the Asian slaw didn’t live up to much – but, I had plenty to be getting on with with my Pizza Fries, which were fantastic, and actually tasted just like PIZZA!

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Pizza Fries
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Chilli Fries with homemade Guacamole
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Pork Life Splendid Sausage Hotdog!
Other sides we tried were the Pulled Pork Mac n Cheese, and the Chicken Bites Mac n Cheese – both a little on the salty side but overall my friends enjoyed them. Naked fries were lovely, and the homemade Guacamole was delicious, fresh, very yummy.

Finally, the puddings. Bradley and I shared the Malteaser Chocolate Sundae, which was absolutely was heavenly – especially welcomed after such a savoury feast! It had loads of ice cream, fresh cream, toffee sauce and sprinkles, but somehow wasn’t too over-facing (despite what the photo my suggest!) The Blondie with ice cream and cream was so lovingly devoured by my friend that I can only but image he enjoyed this too. Don’t share dairy, kids!  As if we hadn’t had enough by this point, there was still room for a little strawberry milkshake, which was also delightful and I drank the whole thing in one.

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Epic ‘blondie’ for dessert
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Malteaser Chocolate Sundae was to die for!
 
A cheeky little strawberry shake to wash it all down
 
Overall, we really enjoyed the meal and would return. Next time I hope to attend one of Splendid’s Kitchen Takeovers, the Nasi Lemak on in May if I could but I am on holiday then! (It’s 18th May, a date for your diary!

We paid for our meal in full, less the 50% discount which has been on offer throughout April to celebrate Splendid’s birthday.