Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Eating Out in Manchester




I don't eat out that often as I genuinely enjoy cooking at home and prefer it most of the time, however since I moved into the city centre I have been eating out more and enjoying some fantastic Manchester food that I wanted to share with you!



Beef & Pudding on Booth Street was the chosen destination for a Sunday lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in a while. I've heard a lot a good things about it so wanted to try it out for myself.


We both went for the Sunday lunch, I had beef and my friend had turkey. If you're looking at the above photo and thinking 'oh my god that's a lot of food!' then you can imagine how I felt when it was placed in front of me. Rather overwhelmed to say the least!


It turned out they had given us both double portions by mistake. We of course didn't get charged for it, but I did feel bad about wasting the food as there was no way on this earth I could eat all of that. I had to leave room for dessert after all.


As you can see my leftovers are enough for another full meal. The yorkshire puddings were delicious as was the gravy. (I really liked the gravy!) The beef was delicious and they were nice thick slices. I wasn't a fan of the roast potatoes as they weren't crispy enough for me, but the ribbons of corguette were delicious and I don't even like corguette so that is saying something!


We chose the dessert plank for afters which included a banoffee cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate tart, eccles cake with cheese on and a bakewell cake. There was cream and custard and some zig zags of caramel and chocolate sauce over the board it was served on.


I really didn't understand the cheese on the eccles cake, and after trying it we scraped off, then it was fruity with delicious layers of pastry just how it should be! The chocolate filling in the tart was rich and heavenly, but the pastry was a tad on the thick side. Both of the sponges and the cheesecake were scrumptious and I'd happily have them as full puddings next time.


The service was very good and the staff were friendly and helpful. After polishing off a bottle of rose, we had a cocktail each. I chose a lime daquiri... wow it was so good!! I loved this cocktail! Very tasty. I would go back just to have one of these again.


For a birthday lunch with a friend we chose Steak & Lobster, which is inside the Radisson Blu on Peter Street, as she is obsessed with seafood. The concept is simple - for £17 you get a 10z rib eye steak or a whole lobster. Both come with unlimited fries and salad. Best idea ever! We decided to get one each and share.


The service was fabulous, our waiter was very friendly and attentive. It was quite quiet in there for a Saturday lunch time which surprised me, but it is tucked away inside the hotel so it probably doesn't get noticed as much as it should. It was my first time having lobster and it was amazing! So juicy and succulent. The steak was fairly average in my opinion, I wasn't blown away by it but it was nice and tender. The lobster was the star of the show and next time I will be having a whole lobster all to myself!


The fries and salad were really good too, it was great to know you could have as much as you liked. My friend loved the salad, the dressing was slightly vinegary and I could definitely taste parmesan in it too. The waiter wouldn't reveal the secret mix of ingredients though!


Afterwards we headed to Ginger's Comfort Emporium which is inside Afflecks Palace on Church Street. It's hidden away in a corner on the first floor, but is well worth a visit. The ice cream is so rich and flavoursome. I had Chorlton Crack (aka peanut butter and salted caramel) and Raspberry & Rose flavours. My friend had Strawberry and Plum, Juniper & Gin.


The next day my boyfriend's mum and sister were visiting. They are both vegetarian and have some issues with dairy, and my boyfriend is vegetarian too. So we headed to Dough in the Northern Quarter. They have lots of dairy free, gluten free and vegetarian options on the menu. Above is a dairy free rocket pizza which was very spicy!


This really is such a great place if you have dietary issues as almost everything on the menu can be altered for your diet. My boyfriend chose the goats cheese and caramelised onion pizza which looked great and packed with toppings. He really enjoyed it and it wasn't around for long! I didn't take a photo but my boyfriend's mum had dairy free vegetarian gnocchi with roasted veg.


I was the only meat eater of the group so I went all out and had the paella pizza. Chicken, squid, prawn and chorizo! So delicious, I loved this topping idea as paella is one of my favourite dishes and it's translation into pizza was yummy. We all really enjoyed the meal and it was a great atmosphere for lunch. The staff were also really friendly and attentive.

So that's my last week of eating out lots! I recommend trying out all the places I visited as I would go to all of them again. If you're interested in visiting any of the restaurants mentioned, click on the links for more info. Happy eating!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Elderflower Cupcakes




I was recently asked to make some cakes for an amazing cause called Finding Your Feet. The charity was set up by friends of Corrine Hutton after Corrine tragically lost both legs below the knee and both hands after a life threatening case of septicaemia. Some of my colleagues know Corrine and along with a cake sale, this weekend they are also climbing Ben Nevis twice on Saturday, then cycling from East to West coast Scotland on Sunday to raise money to buy her some hi tech prosthetic hands. There was no way I could refuse such a worthy cause!


I decided to make Elderflower cupcakes as I had recently bought this cordial, and I thought it was a great summer flavour that would go down well at a bake sale.


I started by mixing together 160g butter and 200g caster sugar,


I added 4 tsp Elderflower cordial, the zest of half a lemon, 3 large eggs and 2 tbsp milk and whisked in. Finally I folded in 175g self raising flour, 65g ground almonds and 1 1/2 tsp baking powder.


The oven in my new flat gets very hot and bakes things quite fast so I would recommend baking them a normal oven on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes.


I used this awesome tool to make the flowers on top of the cupcakes. I got mine from ebay here.


I used my silicone rolling pin to roll out some white fondant, then used the cutter provided to cut out the flower shape.


Making sure to match the shape of the fondant to the mould I placed it on the 'in' side.


Gently, but firmly I pressed down with the other side of the mould.


And tah dah! A beautiful flower is created! I did often get a hole in the middle of them as I was doing this, but as I was going to add a centre I didn't mind but you could roll the fondant thicker to avoid it.


I used my madeline pan for them to dry in.


Once they dried I used buttercream to stick a white shimmer pearl in the centre. I used the same buttercream as I pipied on top of the cupcakes which was made with 530g icing sugar, 250g butter, a hint of green food colouring and 2 tbsp Elderflower cordial.


I also sprinkled over some silver shimmer powder for extra sparkle!


All of the cakes got sold which I was really pleased with, they raised around £150 from the sale in total which is fantastic. The elderflower flavour with the hint of lemon is very delicate and would be perfect with a glass of elderflower cordial and sparkling water! These would also be great at a party or afternoon tea.



I am entering these into July's Treat Petite hosted by myself and Cakeyboi where the theme is Summer.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Treat Petite July



Welcome to Treat Petite July!

Last month we all headed back in time to reminise over Childhood Memories, some great bakes were entered and it was so much fun to see what all the bakers enjoyed growing up. Head over to Cakeyboi to check out June's round up.


This month's theme is...



It's finally here! There have been lots of sunny days recently which certainly inspires lots of great summer baking. Maybe you'll make something with strawberries and cream Wimbledon style, a cool ice cream cookie sandwich or a cocktail inspired cupcake. Anything that reminds you of summer, is made using fresh summer fruits, or gives you that summer feeling is allowed!

Remember the idea behind Treat Petite is quite simple – it’s any sweet treat you can think of that’s not a big cake! From cookies to macarons, krispie treats to truffles; we want to see any delicious concoction you conjure up in the kitchen that is individually portioned!! And don’t worry; cupcakes are permitted.

Here are those all important rules;

1. Email kat.buckley@hotmail.com by the 25th of the month, midnight at the latest – include in the e-mail your name, if you have a blog the URL of your post and name of your blog, recipe and a photo (640x480pixels max) of your bake.

2.  If applicable post your bake onto your blog and link back to Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, stating who is hosting that particular month

3. Follow Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer blogs via the Google Join this Site button, if you haven’t already.

4. If you tweet use #treatpetite and mention @MrCakeyboi and @BakingExplorer – we will retweet

5. Add the challenge logo to the post and ‘Treat Petite’ as a label to the post

6. Use any recipe as long as the source is noted

7. Add your photo to the ‘Treat Petite’ Pinterest board and request access from Cakeyboi

8. Feel free to enter old posts as long as you update the post and meet all the requirements above!

If you have any questions at all, please contact Cakeyboi or The Baking Explorer.