BBC Spring Good Food Show 2016

BBC Spring Good Food Show 2016

Look at these beautiful photos my friend Mrs E took when we went to the BBC Good Food Show last week. I kindly got given free tickets this year and we really made the most of our visit; starting early and taking in a number of interviews and demonstrations in the Supertheatre. I certainly recommend getting at the show earlier; we managed to get round most of the stalls while it was still relatively quiet with the Harrogate International Centre getting busier as it got closer to lunchtime.

I think the Good Food show in Harrogate is always a fun day out for foodies as it gives visitors an opportunity to try new dishes, see demonstrations for gadgets and explore new trends in cooking and drinking. This is the third time I have attended the show since living in Harrogate and I still walk out having learned a new skill and eager to try a new recipe. I think Mrs E and I both most enjoyed watching the Hairy Bikers who were hilarious and produced dishes that made me excited for my lunch despite having only just finished my breakfast.

The only real bad part of going to the Good Food Show is that I always get into trouble or bringing home kitchen gadgets (this year was no exception). Lets just say there will be a heart shaped cake appearing on this very blog at some point in the not too distant future. Now its just the question of convincing D that we really must have a set of Kitchen Aid Appliances, a vegetable box delivery and several cases of Prosecco.

Things I used to worry about when I was 16

Things I used to worry about when I was 16

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Today I came to the shocking realisation that its 11 whole years since I collected my GCSE results. Congratulations to anyone who has just got theirs (or their A Level results). I’m sure they were excellent and reflect a lot of hard work and application. I clearly remember collecting my GSCE’s with my Dad and then walking around the Millgate Centre in Bury eating toffees after enrolling at my Sixth Form.

Anyway, off the topic of food for a day, I was thinking of what i was like at 16. I was certainly less sure of myself than now and uncertain of trying new things. I think if the last 11 have taught me anything its to throw myself at opportunity when I can, life is too short to look back over past events wishing you’d done things differently. So maybe that’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned since properly growing up and moving away – nobody cares what you look like half as much as you unless they’ve nothing better to worry about. Possibly the second best thing I’ve learned over time is; if a male you don’t know is talking to you when you’re out with the girls and they won’t take the hint, there’s always the option of hiding in the toilets for a few minutes.

Anyway, onto a few of my teenage concerns.

  1. My hair. Before I discovered styling products and GHDs I felt like i was constantly battling against my hair which was very wavy during a period when it felt like everybody had identical poker straight hair. The slightest spot of rain left my desperately covering my head – woe betide any drops of water that might make my hair frizzy. Mum if you are reading this I sincerely apologise for the mornings I kept you waiting when you gave me a lift to school because I was busy straightening the front two strands of my hair.

    In hindsight these two particular pieces of hair were like straw from overheating.

  2. Never having had a boyfriend. Oh the hours I spent pondering this one! I went through periods of constant angst over my lack of ability to flirt and talk to boys. I think this is a pretty common concern, but really I needn’t have worried. Once I got to college and everyone got a bit more confident and new friendships formed I myself got a boyfriend and I watched as most of my friends did. Now I see my friends happy and settled – some married and some still single and I think of the fun we had. Not just my boyfriend and I, just my friendship group as a whole, and I sort of wish I was less intense about it. Looking back, relationships develop over time and some of my happiest memories are just doing stupid things with my friends and enjoying the last couple of years at home with my mum and dad.
  3. That everyone secretly or not so secretly thought I was weird. This is no longer a worry. Every single boyfriend I have had has confirmed I am weird. I think everyone is and it’s what makes us unique. Embrace how you make up the rich tapestry of life (even I am not sure if I’m typing that with any level of irony!)
  4. Being that one girl in the statistic who mysteriously became pregnant and was in such denial about it that nobody knew until she was giving birth. I can confirm that this did not happen to me. Being busy with so many extracurricular activities, violin lessons and teenage house parties never left much time to miraculously conceive.
  5. Not being one of those cool girls who goes to gigs all the time and knows about all the latest bands. Even at 27 I wonder how I managed to A) meet a music journalist who would invite me into his world B) Maintain this relationship by feeding said music journalist a steady diet of pie, meatballs and cake. Who knew I possessed such charms?

I think these are the worries of most teenage girls in a happy, cosy home. But thinking about all the people I know of collecting results and things I can’t help wonder how their next 11 years will turn out.

Foodies Festival, Tatton

Foodies Festival, Tatton

My wonderful parents and I were lucky enough to attend one of the Foodies Festivals in Tatton a couple of weeks ago. Foodies Festivals are dotted around the year in different places in the country (Brighton, London Edinburgh and Bristol to name a few locations). The Tatton event had an extremely relaxed feel the Sunday we attended and the emphasis seems to be on taking the demonstrations in, grazing on street food and listening to the local live music. It’s also worth noting that entry for children is free and combined with that and the number of dogs we saw scampering around this is an extremely family friendly festival. Its worth noting that you do have to book yourself onto the demonstrations, I would recommend doing this more so on the Saturday of any event when it’s sure to be busier. However, the booking can be done on the day of the event and the demonstration tents can accommodate a large number of people.

I came home with several new recipe ideas, feeling inspired to try different techniques and also very sunburned on my neck! A big thank you to the lovely people at the Co-operative group for giving us complimentary tickets.

To find out more about the location and dates of future Foodies Festivals visit their website here.

Harissa roast chicken with pecorino topped salad

Harissa roast chicken with pecorino topped salad

Cooking a whole chicken is way more economical that buying lots of packs of chicken portions and generally you can get more from it that you think; especially if you consider making chicken stock from the bones. That said, having the same roast chicken recipe and serving it the same way could potentially get a bit dull so its nice to have variations on a theme. The harissa coating on this chicken adds just this, the crispy, salty, spicy coating is delicious and when served with a salad is lovely on a warm day.

For the roast chicken you will need

A whole chicken (free range costs a bit more, but its way more ethical and tastes better)

Harissa paste (make your own if you wish, but I used shop bought)

Olive oil

Runny honey

1 lemon

Salt crystals and black pepper

2 garlic cloves

For the salad you will need

2 large handfuls spinach

2 large handfuls of vine tomatoes

1 large red pepper

Olive oil

Pecorino

Salt and pepper

(We also had garlic bread with this but I only heated it up, next time I will make my own).

Preheat your oven to 190°C. While the oven is preheating sort out your chicken – remove any string, cut away the excess skin at the top and bottom, remove any giblets. Half your lemon and shove this into the chicken’s rear end. Crush your garlic and add to the chicken’s bum (I feel very eloquent writing this). Squirt some honey up there then add the remaining lemon half and garlic. Spoon over your harissa paste (I used about 1 tablespoon of it), drizzle over a small amount of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon’s worth) and rub this mixture all over your chicken. Sprinkle some salt crystals all over the chicken and add a sprinkling of pepper. Put this in the oven and roast the chicken for 20 minutes per lb of chicken plus an additional 20 minutes (I use a converter to convert metric to imperial for this). Before the last 20 minutes of cooking liberally spoon over any juice to add to the decliousness and make the chicken all shiny and crispy.

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The salad is simple, half the tomatoes, and cut up the pepper and toss them together in a bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the salad and season with salt and pepper. Use a grater to shave pecorino over the salad and serve.

DSC_0625When you take the chicken out of the oven leave it for 15-20 minutes before carving to retain the juiciness of the meat. During this time you can heat up any sides (like I said above we had this with garlic bread, but pasta salad or cous cous would work equally well).

DSC_0626The leftovers for this work beautifully in salads, with cold in sandwiches, or in any curries or risottos you wish to make.

Healey’s Cyder Farm, Truro

Healey’s Cyder Farm, Truro

Last week D and I had a relaxing holiday to Newquay in Cornwall. Not wanting to miss a chance to enjoy a cool glass of cider in the sun and with a certain amount of curiousity about how on of our favourite tipples is made we pootled along to the outskirts of Truro to Healey’s Cyder Farm. Healey’s is most famous for making Cornish Rattler (which is now becoming available countrywide) but they also make more locally available things such as Elderflower wine, Strawberry wine, delicious jams and a range of juices. Unfortunately for me I was designated driver that day so I had to be more selective with my sampling than D, but I still had opportunity to try quite a lot of different things.

Despite being primarily a place where cider is made, this is a highly family friendly day out; with a cider and jam making tour, farm animals and tractor rides. There are several tour options available including the Classic tour and a more extensive tour. We opted for the Classic tour primarily because D’s stepfather is a farmer and we have ample opportunity to ride tractors back at home, but this option is perfect for those visiting with smaller children. The staff at Healey’s are friendly and enthusiastic and full of interesting facts. I had a basic knowledge of how my favourite apple based drink was made but a lot of blanks were filled in during the tour.

The tour concluded with an opportunity to sample nearly the whole range of ciders, juices and wines made on the premises. Being a responsible sort of person when it comes to drinking and driving (don’t drink and drive kids!) I had a few tastes before moving onto the apples juices (juice made from Katy apples is a winner). We stayed a while after the tour to visit the farm animals; making friends with the horses and goats. The restaurant is also lovely, it is clear that nearly everything is made on the premises and the food tastes all the better for it. I indulged in an apple themed cream tea (D had a pasty to mop up the cider).  To finish we spent a small fortune in the gift shop (the best holiday sovenirs are cider themed it would seem). The music we listened to on the way home was accompanied by a rather exciting clink of bottles.

If you’re in the area and fancy a visit to Healey’s details of their location can be found here. Or alternatively contact them on their twitter page.

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I like to think an intellectual discussion went on between these two
The happiest little glasses ever

DSC_0537DSC_0538DSC_0542IMG_0416The happiest little glasses everIMG_0438

Crab, courgette and tomato gnocchi

Everyone has food they eat when they’re alone. Something the people they live with dislike but the person in question not so secretly adores. For me one of those things is seafood and another is bread and cheese. D reviewed a gig in Manchester last week and I took full advantage by cooking crab gnocchi and eating it on the sofa (D is surprisingly strict about eating sat at the table). The beauty of this dish is that is takes about ten minutes to cook from eating up your pan to putting it in a bowl so you can go from hungry to stuffing your face with carb based delights in no time.

For crab gnocchi you will need:

1 pack gnocchi

About 150g crab meat (fresh or tinned is fine)

10 cherry tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

Salt and pepper

1 clove garlic

About 10g butter

1/2 courgette

About 4 basil leaves

 

Cook your gnocchi according to the instructions on the packet. While this is cooking half your tomatoes. Crush your garlic and fry on a low heat in the butter. Sprinkle in the chilli powder and season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and use a potato peeler to peel in the courgette so that it forms ribbons. Stir in the gnocchi and the crab meat and tear in the basil leaves.

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DSC_0611 This goes spectacularly with a glass of wine.

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Quick lemon drizzle cupcakes

Quick lemon drizzle cupcakes

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I think I won some top girlfriend points this week. D has a new job and for his last day in his old office I whipped up a batch of these babies. (I think I get extra marks for not eating 1 and sending him in with the other 11). Anyway, these babies are perfect for when you really fancy a lovely lemony cake but you don’t have the time, or inclination to wait for a larger loaf to bake. Plus, I think lemon cakes are perfect for spring as they taste so fresh.

To make 12 lemon cupcakes you will need:

For the cake

the zest of 2 lemons and the juice of 1

4 eggs

225g sugar

225g butter (melted and set aside to cool)

225g flour

Lemon curd

To decorate

About 200g icing sugar (I didn’t really measure this out, I made it by eye)

The juice of 1 lemon

A bit of water

Preheat your oven to 180°C. In a large mixing bowl whisk your eggs and sugar until they leave a trail on the surface of the mix. To this add half your butter and sift in half your flour, Mix well and add the other half of both. Once all the ingredients have formed a smooth mix grate in your lemon zest and add your juice. Don’t be stingy on the zest – my parents have both told me that the flavour of the zest is more important than the juice in this type of recipe.

DSC_0569DSC_0570DSC_0571Separate this mix into 12 cake cases in a muffin tin. Once this has been done add half a teaspoon of lemon curd to each cake (this sinks while baking to create a lovely lemon filling).

DSC_0573DSC_0575Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown on top and are firm to the touch.

DSC_0576To make your icing combine the lemon juice and the sugar. Add a little water to the mix until the icing consistency is runny (add more icing sugar if you go a bit mad with the liquids). Drizzle the icing over the cakes while they are still warm.

DSC_0579I’m told these cakes were pretty popular at D’s work yesterday. Apparently there were sticky fingers all round! I can’t wait to make another batch so I can try one myself.

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So