August 2012 archive
I’m going to start this post with a gush warning – I always try to give a balanced and objective account of my Eating out Adventures and keep the superlatives to a stomachable level, but there’s a pretty solid chance that this blog might turn into a full on gushing waterfall of praise for my new food crush Hepworths Deli.
For those who haven’t yet stumbled upon this new kid on the deli block, Hepworth’s is situated just off Leed’s main street Briggate in Thorntons Arcade. Through the day it’s proprietor Joe Hepsworth concentrates on selling salads, platters, sandwiches and other deli delights, but as of August 16th Joe – who also runs catering firm Hepworth’s Kitchen – has also launched a pop up restaurant, giving a select number of diners the chance to experience his higher-level culinary skills.
Like most food bloggers, I tend to use catching ups with friends as a bone fide excuse to eat out, particularly if there’s somewhere new in town that I’m plotting to try. On this occasion the new place to eat+old friends equation was a real winning formula, so much so that my two former housemates and I have decided to try and schedule a catch up every time Hepworth’s holds a pop up restaurant evening and here’s why…
For just £20 per head we were served a sensational five course fresh summer menu, which can be viewed here. Upon arrival at the small (but surprisingly light and airy) deli, we were greeted by a very friendly waiter who talked us through the menu, opened our BYO red wine choices (ooh I do love BYO), brought us some water for the table and promptly presented us with our first course, this beautiful amouse bouche:
Pea Veloute mint oil and peashoots amouse bouche
Despite not usually being a fan of peas – they are the only thing I don’t eat aside from beans – I polished this off very quickly. The fresh mint oil perfectly cut through the sweet and creamy pea flavour, though rich, the small serving meant it was just enough to introduce a range of flavours without leaving us too full for the treats to follow.
Ham hock terrine, spiced apple chutney toasted brioche, petit salad
For my starter I opted for the ham hock terrine and chutney, which as you can see, was presented beautifully with the aid of some very pretty red amaranth (something I’m now trying to search out and use myself as it added great colour without a strong taste). The terrine was meaty but not overpowering in flavour and tasted great with the light brioche and sweet, fruity chutney.
Panfried mackerel, Thai salad
The panfried mackerel looked equally as attractive, and since it was consumed by one of my fellow diners in around three minutes – presumably tasted equally as good, too.
Panfried bass, lime quinoa, coriander dressing
Since I plumped for the meat starter I followed with the fish main course. I really love citrus flavours and often use lemon or lime juice in place of vinegar, so the lime quinoa was a proper treat for me, though the sweet tomato salsa on top of the fish stopped things becoming too sour. The fish was soft, moist and simply seasoned, another winner!
Braised beef, spiced carrot, red wine jus
I was pleased with my choice of main, but I couldn’t help but be a little jealous when I spied the main my friend Laura had picked – the mash alone had me salivating! Thanks to the generous portion she received I was lucky enough to get the chance to sample both the mash and braised beef; the shin was melt-in-the mouth perfect and the mash as creamy and smooth as it looked (I’m replaying eating it right now, Mmm!)
Strawberry shortbread cheesecake
When dessert arrived there was a collective table ‘oooh’ and it’s not hard to see why. The disconnected strawberry shortbread cheesecake featured homemade shortbread crumble, strawberry ice cream, cream, purple basil and strawberry pâté de fruit and was a real adventure on a slate. The sweet and intensely fruity jelly of the pâté combined with basil made me audibly ‘mmm’ several times, to the point where I zoned out completely and had my own ‘When Harry met Sally’ moment, enjoying every lingering mouthful to the point I almost didn’t realise that my ice cream was starting to melt.
Once I regained composure we were able to indulge in some after dinner coffee and have a quick chat with the chef himself. When Joe revealed he was only 26, I felt a little ashamed of my worldly achievements to date, to have so many culinary strings to his bow (the deli, dinner party catering and now the popup restaurant) and to be seemingly handling them all so well is quite a feat. In the days since I have intermittently been determined to learn the art of patisserie, sign up to a French language course, or at least learn sugar craft.
Before departure, my fellow diners and I all left our email addresses and urged Joe to put us at the top of the mailing list for Hepworth bistro events. I often consider Leeds to be unrivalled for the good mix of quality restaurants on offer in a relatively small city, but the pop up restaurant fills a new niche entirely – restaurant quality food with an ‘at-home’ atmosphere, topped off with a cosy setting. For these reasons I’m predicting tables at future events are going to book up very fast indeed, I just hope I’ve said enough to get some kind of preferential treatment.
In the name of providing balance to the universe, I’m following up my ever-so-healthy and dairy free flapjack bun post with this, the most sinful and dairytastic of snacks. As you may have gathered from the post, I created this fantastic but fat-filled rocky road recipe as a departing gift to the good folk at Epiphany, where I worked up until last week. Just like my time with the lovely employees at Epiphany, this recipe is full of unexpected treats and the odd lump and bump in the road (lovely smooth linking there!)
Because I was creating a recipe that I wanted others to enjoy, I put aside my dislike (and fear) of white chocolate and embraced it fully to create a truly milk-laden recipe. The recipe itself was loosely based on Nigella’s traditional rocky road recipe, which I happen to think is the ‘best ever, never fails’ recipe for squares of joy. Working to the principles of Nigella’s rich dark recipe, I came up with this creamier version:
600g white chocolate
100g rich tea biscuits
75g dried cherries (not glace)
200g marshmallows (cut up)
150g rose and lemon turkish delight (cut up)
5 tablespoons golden syrup
Stage one: Rocks for the road
I wanted my rocky road to be aesthetically pleasing as well as kind on the tastebuds, so I chose ‘rocks’ that would provide colour as well as texture (the biscuits, cherries, turkish delight and marshmallows) and mixed them all up in a bowl.
Stage two: White nice cement
Creating the cement for my road was suprisingly tricky. As a bit of a white chocolate novice I wasn’t anticipating just how tar-like the mixture could become.To make yours super smooth and avoid panic, heat your butter, white chocolate and golden syrup together very slowly and remove from the heat immediately once it’s melted together.
Stage three: Laying the path to indulgence
The final stage is to mix your rocks into the chocolaty goo and press down into a lined baking tray to cool before cutting into teeny tiny squares (this stuff is rich). I covered mine with a fine coating of icing sugar using a sieve to make it look a little prettier, though you can definitely go without the extra calories!
I rustled up these low-cal treats the other week for my foodie penpal Sarah over at Northwestnosh as I’d really wanted to send her something homemade, but she’d said in her email that she wasn’t a fan of stodgy or calorific foods. I adapted the recipe from the book Only 100 calories published by the every reliable M&S and as well as being low fat they had the added bonus of being dairy free, which made them a winning snack for me, too!
55g light brown sugar
50g cranberry and cashew nut mix
200g porridge oats
2tsp ground cinnamon
2 egg whisked whites
The original recipe used cranberry, chopped apricots and hazelnuts, but as I had a snack bag of cranberry and cashew mix in the cupboard, I made a simple switch and upped the level of oats to compensate for the lack of apricots. I also increased the amount of cinnamon as I’m a real cinnifan! Making the buns was a real five minute job, all you need to do is pour your frothed egg whites into the mixed dry ingredients, pat into balls and fill bun cases laid out in a tray.
The final step is to bake at 20 minutes at 190c, which should make the oats look and taste nicely toasted. These buns are really fragrant when they come out of the oven and though they don’t have the sticky or butteryness of normal flapjacks, they still have plenty of crunch and texture.
These last really well if kept in an airtight container, so they’re great for adding to packed lunches or even taking to work for breakfast if you’re in a rush. Next time I make them I plan to use dried papaya and pineapple in place of the cranberry and cashews and to add in some dessicated coconut to create a tropical flavour.
If there’s one foodstuff that has helped mould my identity it’s cheese (there’s a pun in there) I’m a true turophile – hard, crumbly, soft, veiny, spreadable, blue, melted, any way it comes – I LOVE CHEESE. However, in a cruel twist of fate I’m also allergic to cow’s milk – something that’s gotten much worse as I’ve gotten older and seems to be particularly triggered by the good stuff, namely nice cool glasses of milk, sauces made with cream, and, my enduring first love, CHEESE.
Never to be defeated I indulge my habit when I can by concentrating my cheese munching efforts on goat and ewe varieties, which have the added bonus of tending to be lower in fat. And, when I’m feeling really naughty and just can’t help myself, I go a bit wild and eat some mature cheddar and brace myself for the consequences. Cheese is a very beautiful thing and is without a doubt my favourite food and not being able to eat mass amounts of the most common kind has forced me to be more creative in the kitchen. This recipe was borne out of a deep and unquieting yearning to indulge in an old food favourice – macaroni cheese. The photo’s really don’t do justice to this cheesy carborific treat, which is cow’s milk free. I included a small amount of the hard ewe’s cheese pecorino in both the sauce and topping of my mac and cheese to intensify the flavour, but you can leave it out if you want to keep things soft and creamy.
Recipe (serves 6)
500g pasta (I used a mix of wholewheat and white conchigle)
six thick rashers of bacon
two cloves of garlic
two teaspoons dried thyme
wholewheat dried breadcrumbs
one beef tomato
300g goat’s cheese log
100g pecorino (grated)
700 ml soya milk
lump of sunflower margarine
two level tablespoons flour
salt and pepper to season
two tablespoons dijon mustard
Stage one: Pasta perfect
There’s no pretending this recipe is good for you, but throwing some wholewheat pasta into the mix made me feel like I was at least trying to compromise. I boiled up 250g of white and brown pasta shells with a pinch of salt and drained before tipping into a ceramic lasagne dish. I chose conchigle instead of macaroni as it’s easier to get hold of the wholewheat variety of the former and the shells keep lots of lovely cheesy sauce inside them once baked.
Stage two: Garlic+Bacon=Barlic or Gacon?
This meal was a real treat so I used a whole packet of thick bacon roughly chopped and cooked with the two cloves of garlic sliced. This made the bacon nice and garlicky and the garlic nice and salty (yuuuum!) I didn’t add fat to fry my bacon and drained off the fat in the pan afterwards (again doing my best to be good).
Stage three: Bulletproof goat’s cheese sauce (made with La Roux)
I used a hefty amount of flour in my roux as I was afraid the soya milk wouldn’t thicken well and I knew the goat’s cheese would mask any flour flavour. After adding my soya milk gradually to the pan I stirred in the mustard and melted in my 300g of goat’s cheese, which I chopped into chunks.
I cut some (but not all) of the rind off, which is why there are a few visible chunks in the photo on the right. The rind itself melted away once the mac went into the oven to bake. I also added to the sauce around a third of the pecorino, some salt and a good hard dose of cracked black pepper.
Stage four: Crusty crumb
After mixing the bacon and sauce through the pasta (above) it was time to assemble for baking. I sliced the beef tomato and laid it flat across the top of the mac and cheese (extra vitamins right there) and coated the top in a mix from the remaining pecorino, dried thyme and breadcrumbs. I then baked for 20 minutes at 200C and voila!
I made this when a few friends were over to stop me going on a huge cheese binge all at once, but it’s so deliciously rich (as mac n cheese should be) just a small portion with a green salad is seriously satisfying!
Over the last few years Sous le Nez has repeatedly been recommended to me as a place of tasty eats, but the fact its location was a bit of a mystery meant it took quite some time for me to get round to paying this cozy little eatery a visit. It was during a trip to the nearby Restaurant Bar & Grill that I finally spotted this subterranean treat situated under Quebec House on Quebec street, right under my nose…ba-boom-ch! And from this point onwards I was looking for an excuse to finally pay it a visit.
I should probably admit that during the five whole days I spent in Paris last October most of my meals were sourced from the local Lidl or purchased from snack stands at a music festival. On this basis, it would be a bit of a stretch to claim I was any kind of French cuisine expert, that said, I was thoroughly aware of a purposeful French undercurrent when I eventually wandered down the steps into their bar area on a busy Thursday evening to celebrate bagging an exciting new job (whoop!)
The bar area was truly bustling with people enjoying after work drinks or dining from the bar menu and so I was a little disappointed when we were led through to a less ambient dining area where the tables were just a little too close together for my liking. The menu was French inspired with a few English twists, a little like the accent of our eager waiter, who slipped between a French and broad Leeds accent rather jarringly! We decided to dine from the Menu du Soir, which at £24.95 for three courses an half a bottle of wine is cracking value and one of the restaurant’s virtues previously extolled by my friends.
Pleasant and plentiful is my summary of the dining experience, with a generous amount of freshly baked bread and naughty but nice portions of lovely rich salted butter offered up during the short wait for our starters to arrive. I opted for the chicken liver parfait with piccalilli and toasted brioche. Which looked something like this (only not quite so grey – thanks iPhone!)
The parfait was velvety smooth, which contrasted well with the sharp piccalilli that could only have been improved by more crunchy cauliflower. The brioche was buttery, fluffy and soft, but curiously untoasted – which was a shame as I think it would have made for a better mix of textures. For the main course I plumped for pigeon, char-grilled chorizo, bubble and squeak and thyme and rosemary jus, which if you squint, vaguely looked like this:
As a sauce lover I was suitably pleased to find my plate laden with the saucy jus and the pigeon and chorizo did not disappoint this fan of salty meats. However, the hefty portion of bubble and squeak was found a little lacking as it could have benefited from a little longer in the pan to crisp up it’s skin, again for a better range of textures. The buttered seasonal vegetables (green beans, new potatoes and carrots) that were served as an accompaniment were also a little on the soggy side.
When it came to desert time I doubted (just for a second) my ability to work through three such generous courses, but the glazed lemon tart with orange sauce and chantilly cream looked too good to miss. Imagine this, but more colourful:
In the end I greedily consumed every last crumb as to waste such beautiful pastry would surely have been a crime and as the tart was anything but a slight slice, I did feel a little bit bloated for my troubles.
Overall, Sous le nez didn’t disappoint and I can see why it was repeatedly recommended as a venue for good value group meals. However, as a date venue it didn’t quite hit the mark for me – perhaps we were in too early to catch any romantic French vibes.
It’s a slightly belated affair for my foodie penpal parcel post this month as I’ve just got back from a trip up north (where I bought lots of lovely local treats) so I’ve not had a chance to write about the lovely package I got courtesy of Lucy at ofallygood, much of which has been long since munched (but not forgotten!) There was so much packed into this hand delivered box of treats that it’s hard to know where begin, so I’ll start off with a photo:
I just about managed to cram everything into the photo though it was a bit of a struggle because as a local lady Lucy had even included some thoughtful non-food items in the mix for me too. First up were some mini samples of some Neal’s yard products, which smelt absolutely delicious but were unfortunately inedible. That said, my skin has definitely benefited from their use over the past week. Also included in the non-edibles were some seeds for flowers that are said to attract bees – these were especially thoughtful as I live near a canal so can hopefully do my bit to make the area where I live have even more of a buzz (see what I did there?)
Moving swiftly onto the foodie treats, Lucy had included some nice things to snack on as well as some baking bits and bobs as I’d told her I was planning to get stuck into the cupcake craze in the next few months. Alongside some pretty cupcake cases I found some colourful petit fours cases, an F-shaped cutter and some glitter writing gel pens (ooooh sparkly!) I’ve not managed to use these yet but I’m planning a baking spectacular this weekend so I can get stuck in.
I wasted no time whatsoever in consuming the snackable items in the box – namely some delicious (and delightfully dairy-free) homemade pistachio shortbread and yu! mango snacks, both of which I managed to yum up on the day of delivery (oops). I ate the short bread with a glass of homemade meadowsweet cordial, which is a really light and refreshing alternative to elderflower. I’ve found the cordial particularly useful as it soothes poorly tums, which I’m prone to because of my cow milk allergy. Lucy also packaged up some meadowsweet tea for me and as a recommended hangover cure I’ve got it safely stashed for use next weekend as it’s my work leaving do next Friday evening. Finally, I’m yet to use my black garlic, which I’m planning to incorporate into a really simple pasta dish so I can appreciate the promised balsamic flavour.
This was only my second month of foodie penpals and I must say I was blown away with just how much effort Lucy had gone to in putting together my parcel, she’s set the bar high for the months to come! As for myself, I packaged up some sweet and salty snack for Sarah over at Northwestnosh this month, so if you’d like to read about the dynamite liquorice I picked up for the self-confessed liquorice afficinado, skip over to her blog now.