Three months in and my days now seem to revolve around counting down to the arrival and sending of my foodie penpal parcels. So far, I’ve received some really thoughtful and useful parcels and this month’s was certainly a belter, courtesy of my new condiment-loving chum Hannah. One of the nicest things about the foodie penpal scheme is that it encourages you to chat with fellow parcel givers via Twitter and by following Hannah (@Hansyquirk) I discovered we shared a mutual love of all things saucy – specifically the hot stuff, ooh-er.

Having mentioned our mutual appreciation of condiments to Hannah I had very high hopes for August’s package. It was incredibly frustrating therefore when my seriously rubbish concierge Barry missed my parcel’s arrival, which resulted in me having to wait nearly a full week until I could unwrap my monthly treat. Much nail biting was done and Barry was lightly cursed once or twice.

Here’s a litte message from me and Hannah: “GET IT SORTED BAZ!”

Right, rant aside, here’s a peek inside my lovely pink-tissue padded parcel:

 

Just as I’d hoped, condiment Queen Hannah took my love of sauces seriously and furnished me with no less than three homemade condiments – Bacon Jam, Mango Chutney and Chipotle, CHIPOTLE! So far I’ve only tried the smoky and delicious chipotle, but it won’t be long until I’ve hoovered all three – condiments don’t have a good survival rate in my flat.

In fact, I may run another condiment evening. This involves ovening some perfect condiment accompaniments like chips and bread and inviting friends to bring over their favourite condiment. As a group you then sample sauces and take time to appreciate the wonderfulness of condiments. Yes, I really relish chutneys, ketchup, hot sauce and mustards, mmmm! FYI the winner of the first ever condiment evening was a garlic chutney. I think Bacon Jam could be the contender to beat this time round.

Anyway, back to the parcel. Nestled among the condiments was some Wasabi powder (which can of course be used to create a sauce). There was also some very potent lime and coconut delight, which unfortunately didn’t seem to have enjoyed the trip to the Post Office depot and back (THANKS BARRY). Prettying up the package were some cupcake cases and colourful sprinkles and I plan to use these to decorate the lemon cupcakes I’m making this week from the new Hairy Dieters book I”ve been sent to review (heads up, it’s awesome).

And so concludes my August foodie parcel. Thanks Hannah! If you fancy having a package of wonder delivered to your door each month, click on the foodie penpal logo at the bottom of this page, I’d fully recommend getting involved!

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:

Recipe

600g white chocolate

150g butter

200g shortbread

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

Assembly

 

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!

Recipe

55g light brown sugar

50g cranberry and cashew nut mix

200g porridge oats

2tsp ground cinnamon

2 egg whisked whites

Method

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.

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.

After the grumpy drizzly weather of the last few days it seems like LeedsLovesFood  2012 was many moons ago rather than last weekend! Thankfully, I rediscovered the sunshine and joy-filled event when I finally hacked into my camera to retrieve the photos from my second day at the festival (yes, I’m so greedy I went twice because I simply couldn’t eat/buy/carry enough in one single trip).

This blog is a bit of a photo celebration of the wonderful things that I and my very lovely companion, Maria, munched through on our visit on the last day of the festival. I cannot express how much foodie fun I had during my first experience of LeedsLovesFood, it was great to see (and taste) all of the yummy Yorkshire delights and to be reminded of the brilliant restaurants and bars we have here in Leeds, too. What has now come to be known as my ‘sensational snacking Sunday’ has resulted in me adding a few local venues on to my ‘to visit’ list and reignited my love for a few old favourites.

The first festival treat to make it mouthward was some satay from Sukothai, the meat was moist and delicious and the sauce a peanutacular delight.
This was of course nothing less than I would expect from what is one of my favourite restaurants in Leeds, I’m only slightly embarassed to admit that Sukothai being based in Chapel Allerton and Headingley was probably one of the main reasons I put off moving into the city centre for so long.
As I walked along no fewer than six people stopped me to ask where I’dbought the succulent snack (they smelt and looked THAT good). This briefencounter reminded me it’s  about time I took a trip to the north of the city
paid and my foodie respects to them.

Next up was a sweet treat from the Littleroundcakecompany, though I didn’t actually eat this on sensational snacking Sunday but two days before on my solo Friday visit. Here I purchased a beautiful baked Lemon cake, which tasted more like a mini traditional British pud than a cupcake, but tickled my love of citrus flavours nonetheless. I’ll be keeping an eye on their blog for baking inspiration.

 

Back on to the savoury snacks and the next stop was Pinche Pinche for a chicken taco. The hot, fresh salsa on the top alone made it a worthy choice, though I did prefer the pulled lamb version I munched on my Friday trip. This selection once again reminded me I’d been neglecting another one of my former favourite restaurants, who have a whole new menu since I last visited, I think second trip north is now on the menu!

 

 

Despite being ‘hanging’ (her own words) from a night of alcohol-fuelled adventures, my festival companion eventually tried to tackle some of the tempting tastes around her. Maria settled on some sushi from the Chino Latino stall, which looked (and apparently tasted) great. The hungover one’s choice of food and decision to eat using chopsticks very brave and provided entertainment to rival the professional cooking demonstrations at the main stage.

I’ve never eaten at Chinos but rate their bar staff as making some of the best (if not the best) cocktails in Leeds and Maria made some positive noises when she finally got the food to hit her mouth, so I may look at something other than the cocktail menu when I pop in there next.

Finally, tired from our we washed down the food with some refreshing champagne cocktails from Epernay, it was a hot day after all!

Despite the hangover, Maria made room for an Epernay champagne cocktail