Sunday, 27 December 2015

Glasgow Living Part 3 – Reviewing MeatHook Restaurant, West End, Glasgow

Readers, Merry Christmas to you all! I’m back in the blogging loop after several days of consuming pigs in blankets by the bucket load.  Tonight I wanted to tell you all about a trip Mr WhatClaireBaked and I went on last week – to the west end to review a newly opened American style grill called MeatHook.

The brainchild of restaurant manager John, the dining experience includes homemade ketchups and mustards, 100% Scotch beef in all burgers, American southern-style rubs and amazing flavours from the woodchip smoker.

We arrived early and the staff were quick to get us seated at a window booth.  We were a bit taken aback as the restaurant was fairly quiet for a midweek close to Christmas. However, the staff explained that the restaurant had only been open 4 weeks and whilst weekends are fairly full, there’s a bit of work to be done attracting a weeknight crowd.

The layout of the bar and surrounding tables provides a solution for an after-work drink, followed by food and upstairs, there’s a sizeable function area which can host around 120 people – venue hire is free and catering can be arranged for your special event.

Mr WhatClaireBaked opted for one of the American beers from a selection of 5 of the menu, whilst I went for a classic Rioja, to accompany the red meat to follow.

The menu highlights all vegetarian or gluten free dishes, shown by either a (v) or a (gf) – there are a number of gluten free options available and the staff will happily provide burgers without buns on salad and greens instead.
Great bites, sides and fries on offer!


We were intrigued by the halloumi chips on offer – turns out the chef makes his own halloumi.  We opted for a portion of these to share.  Priced at £4.00, both of us felt the portion size was generous and a good accompaniment to our main meals.  Great value for money.
halloumi chips meathook glasgow
Mmmm halloumi chips!

We decided against a starter, going straight to mains with our accompanying haloumi chips.   I went for a bacon and smoked mozzarella burger – the brioche bun was delicious – lightly grilled and the filling was again generous – with delicious bacon and smoked mozzarella topping the Scotch beef burger.   Take note – sides are sold separately, so don’t forget to order these.   I went for the parmesan topped fries. 
My main

Across the table, Mr WhatClaireBaked opted for a chilli cheese dog and a side of rosemary & sea salt fries.  Again, portions were generous and neither of us felt hungry at the end!

His main! 
Both mains were served on wooden platters, with chips in buckets. Each main was resting on a custom print MeatHook greaseproof tissue - which added a great finishing touch.

The staff were great in giving us some time between courses to relax. We weren’t sure about going for desserts, but given reassurance that there were some home-made American classics on offer, we made the commitment.  I went for a classic baked vanilla cheesecake with toffee fudge sauce, whilst Mr WhatClaireBaked went for the hot chocolate fudge sundae. There was a real “all American” feel when they arrived – probably helped by the American rock playing in the background.
dessert meathook glasgow
Baked Cheesecake

The highlight for us was having the chance to speak to Chef Paul, who made a point of coming out to say hello at the end of the meal and checking we enjoyed the food.  I know this isn’t an experience that all guests will get, however, I really appreciated the personal touch.  Paul is clearly passionate about the food he creates and took the time to talk about the planned collaboration work with a Kimchi joint up the road, the use of local butchers for meat and a burger bun recipe that’s exclusive to MeatHook.  He talked some more about the halloumi that he makes – honestly, the halloumi chips are a must try - and also how they make their own pastrami and slow cook their chilli with beans to add a depth of flavour. The ketchup and mustard is home-made too!
Homemade condiments
Would we return?  Probably – if we happened to be over West and were looking for somewhere casual to dine with a group of friends or colleagues, it would be worth a visit.  It’s also a 2 minute walk from Kelvinhall subway station – great if everyone is coming from across the city.

We liked the American classic tunes in the background, more than the Christmas music that was on.  Because it was fairly quiet when we first arrived, the Christmas tunes were amplified – something which we both picked up on.  The American songs were great – they added to the experience, rather than overpowering it.

At a little over £10 for a burger/dog and a side, we felt this was reasonable for the quality of food on offer – both of us preferring to pay a little more for a locally sourced meat, rather than something from halfway round the world. 

Definitely one to watch in the west end – potential to become a neighbourhood favourite once word gets out there.

P.S. for the ladies, there’s also a series of cocktails available for £5.50 each.  I didn’t try one, but believe there’s an enthusiastic barman on hand to make them for you!

MeatHook is located at 2 Partick Bridge Street, Glasgow, G11 6PL.

Call 0141 339 5068 for reservations or visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for more information.

Disclaimer: MeatHook invited us to dine at the restaurant in exchange for a review. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas Pudding Cookies

Readers, I think this will be my last festive bake of the year… an improvement on last though, when I only managed some peppermint chocolate bark on Christmas Eve.

So far I’ve managed some gingerbread reindeers, chocolate star lollies and now, my latest creation the Christmas pudding cookie.  I can’t take full credit – as I messed around with the recipe last week, I made holiday cookies and dipped half in royal icing then covered them in sprinkles.  Mr WhatClaireBaked mentioned that they looked like Christmas puddings turned on their sides – it hadn’t even occurred to me that they could be puddings.  So I vouched to try again this week and actually make puddings.

These are finished with really simple white royal icing and a fondant holly wreath.  I used a Lakeland holly leaf cutter to make the leaf template then rolled little red berries to stick on. 

Helpful hint – when making the cookie dough, make sure to chill the finished dough for at least 40 minutes before putting the cookies into shapes and into the oven – it stops them from spreading out too thinly.

A very Merry Christmas and thanks to all my readers for continuing to read and support my blog!

Christmas Pudding Cookies
Ingredients (makes around 20 cookies)

220g unsalted butter (softened)
225g caster sugar
115g soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
315g plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
Topping
Whites of 2 large eggs
3 cups icing sugar
Fondant to decorate

Method

  1. Cream butter, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Use an electric mixer if you have one.
  2. Beat eggs together in a separate bowl and gradually add to sugar and butter mix using electric mixer until fluffy.
  3. Add baking powder, cocoa powder and salt to the flour and sift into the eggs, sugar and butter. Fold together using a metal spoon. You should create a dough, once flour is folded in. Bring together into a ball.
  4. Transfer dough ball to a clean bowl and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 40 minutes, ideally an hour, until dough has firmed up.
  5. Whilst dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 190 degrees/ Fan 170 degrees/ Gas 4.  Cover baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  6. Remove dough from fridge and using your hands roll small balls of dough.  Place onto baking sheets, spaced well apart (no more than 4 cookies per baking sheet).
  7. Flatten each ball slightly.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the oven.
  9. Remove from oven, allow to cook on tray for a few moments to ensure cookies retain their shape. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. Whilst cooling, make the royal icing by adding the whites of two large eggs to icing sugar.  Using an electric mixer whisk up the icing until white, smooth and thickened.   Cover with cling film until ready to use.
  11. Make the fondant holly leaves and berries.
  12. Once cooled, spoon icing over the top half of the cookie, like a Christmas pudding.  Top with holly decoration and put in the fridge to set.
  13. Serve once icing has set, or alternatively store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.



Sunday, 13 December 2015

Peanut Butter Nutella Blondies

Readers, I love Nutella.  It probably comes a close second to my love of chocolate. Yes, I’ve been known to be a spoon in a jar type. 

Anyway, the other week, I was craving some sort of dessert with chocolate and went to pinterest for inspiration. I’d heard that blondies were the new brownies but never quite got round to trying them until the other weekend.  Ridiculously easy to make, best served warm with ice cream.

What made these even more enjoyable -  I used my Kenwood mixer for the first time. I inherited it from my Grandma, who is now living in a sheltered house and doesn’t have a need for it.  I was keen to make sure it went to a loving home and by that I don’t mean it would sit in a cupboard for years to come.

My memories of helping make Christmas cakes in it each year, are very fond from my childhood and I’m delighted to say “Maggie” – as she’ll now be known – is going strong.  I’ve also realised that a stand mixer makes the job of baking so much easier – throw everything it and let it do the hard work for you.

video
I’m sharing a video of Maggie in action for the first time in her new home!

Also thanks toClub31woman for the original recipe – I’ve made some adaptations to make it UK friendly.          

peanut butter nutella blondies

Peanut Butter Nutella Blondies

Ingredients

½ cup softened salted butter

½ cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup soft brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup Nutella (warmed in microwave for 30 seconds)
½ bar milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190c/170c fan/Gas 6.
  2. Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla to the mix.
  4. Add the flour and baking powder and continue to mix until just combined.
  5. Add the chopped chocolate, mix into batter, then switch mixer off.
  6. Microwave Nutella for 30 seconds in a microwave proof bowl to soften.
  7. Add the mix to a prepared 8x8 silicone baking tin. Flatten out until even.
  8. Add the Nutella to the top in spoonfuls and swirl into the mixture.
  9. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top has a light crust but it still slightly gooey in the middle.
  10. Remove from tin and allow to cool.  Cut into equal pieces or warm in a bowl in the microwave for 40 seconds and serve with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
    peanut butter nutella blondies


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Reindeer Ginger Biscuits

Readers, I’ve jumped on the pinterest bandwagon and made my own version of the reindeer ginger bread biscuits that I’ve seen all over the internet.  They are ridiculously easy to make… an upside down gingerbread man cutter don’t you know.

A few months back I reviewed choco writers and used these to ice the antlers and faces, as well as sticking the noses to the biscuits.

The recipe is fairly simple and they only took about 12 minutes in my oven.  You want a good crisp biscuit – not a chewy cookie.  The mixture made around 15 biscuits. 

I’m getting in the Christmas spirit at the moment – hoping I might manage another post or two before the man in the big red suit arrives.

reindeer ginger biscuits

Ingredients

175g plain flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g salted butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
80g dark brown sugar
1 small egg
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Method

Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan
Sift the ginger, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and flour into a bowl.  Add the butter in small chunks.
Using your hands, rub the butter into the dry ingredients to create breadcrumbs until there are no lumps.
Add the sugar and stir in the syrup.  Mix all ingredients together until you have a firm dough.  If the mix is a little too soft/wet to roll, add more flour and mix in until a firm dough is formed.

Roll out onto a floured board and cut out the shapes using a gingerbread cutter. Put the cut shapes onto a baking tray lined with parchment and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to make sure the shapes stay in place when baked.
Bake for around 10-12 minutes until dark golden.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.  

Turn the gingerbread men upside down.  What should be the legs, become the antlers and the arms become ears.  Ice on antlers and ears, a set of eyes and find red smarties (or red m&ms) to use as the nose.  Simple!
These will keep for two to three days in an airtight container.


Merry Christmas!
reindeer ginger biscuit

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Readers, I’ve just discovered that it’s ridiculously easy to make cranberry sauce at home.  It’s 29th November (this post isn’t going up straight away) and in less than half an hour from start to storing I’ve made my own sauce.

Granted, mine is a little tarter than shop bought versions.  But it tastes fresh.  The texture is lumpy from the masses of berries.  Not smooth and jelly like.  The colour is rich and glossy, almost jewel like and if nothing else, midway through the cook I can’t emphasise enough how much your kitchen will smell of all things Christmas.

Oh and the best bit. It’s freezeable.  At this time of year we haven’t swung into full on festive madness, so half an hour in the kitchen is feasible.  Also, who needs to know you prepped your homemade sauce weeks in advance?  Simple solution, make, store, freeze and defrost a couple of days before.  Store in the fridge and bring back up to room temperature an hour or so before serving.  

Easy.

Note though – if you are used to the over-sweetened jelly gloop available for 30p a jar, you might not like this…
easy homemade cranberry sauce

Easy Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients - makes 1 medium & 1 small Tupperware tub

250g fresh cranberries
1 cup preserving sugar
Juice of 2 large oranges
Zest of 1 large orange
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Method

  1. Add the cranberries, orange juice, orange zest and preserving sugar to the pan.  Bring to the boil over a high heat.  Add in the cinnamon and stir.
    Cranberries, orange and sugar in the pan
  2. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook out for around 8-10 minutes until the cranberries have burst and gone soft.  The sauce should be thickening by now.
    Bring up to the boil
  3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the pan.  Then, transfer to freezer proof tubs with airtight lids.
    Cranberries burst - fully cooked and cooling
  4. Freeze for up to 8 weeks.
  5. Before use, defrost fully overnight in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.
    And serve!


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Easy Chocolate Christmas Star Lollies

Readers, it’s almost 1st December, so I feel it’s ALMOST acceptable to start talking about Christmas.  Which means… Christmas food. Christmas cakes.  Christmas baking… Just about everything Christmas that you could ever imagine.  For a foodie, it’s a heavenly time of year.

Anyway, I’m a fan of homemade gifts at this time of year… It’s thoughtful after all. 

Last year I made chocolate bark for everyone – super simple.  This year, I’m starting to experiment with chocolate lollies.  A trip to Home Bargains on my day off (best shop ever) resulted in the purchase of a Wilton silicone star mould for £1.29.  There’s lots of things I am thinking about trying… cookie pops being one of them.  But I started off with simple chocolate lollies on sticks. 

Honestly, get yourselves down to Home Bargains to pick up one of these moulds for a bargain price, they are brilliant!

christmas star chocolate lollies

Christmas Star Chocolate Lollies

Ingredients (makes 4 lollies)

120g bar white chocolate
150g bar milk chocolate
Christmas sprinkles (I got mine in home bargains for 99p)
2 candy canes (crushed)
4 small round lolly sticks

Method

  1. Crush two candy canes using a rolling pin on a heavy wooden board.
  2. Prepare your moulds by putting a stick in each cavity.
    Prep the moulds
  3. Sprinkle the sprinkles and crushed candy canes into the bottom of each mould. Random is fine, but make sure it’s well spread across the mould space.
    Sprinkle the decor into the moulds
  4. Melt your white chocolate in a microwave proof cup for around 1 minute (remove and stir after 30 seconds).  Check it’s fully melted and pour half into the first mould and half into the second.  Tap the mould against the worktop to remove any air bubbles.
  5. Melt the milk chocolate in a microwave proof cup for around 1 minute (remove and stir after 30 seconds).  Check it’s fully melted and pour half into the first mould and half into the second.  Tap the mould against the worktop to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Transfer the mould to the fridge and allow to set for around an hour. 
    Set in the fridge
  7. Remove the mould from fridge and gently press out each lolly.  Serve immediately or wrap in a cellophane bag and tie with a ribbon to give as a gift. 
    star chocolate christmas lollies


Friday, 27 November 2015

Day Out: Foodies Christmas in Edinburgh

Readers, I’ve been off on my foodie travels again.  Only 45 minutes on the train this time, over to Edinburgh to meet up with the lovely Nikki from Couthie Cantie.

We were asked along to Foodies Christmas, held in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago to help get us into the Christmas spirit.  The event was held at the EICC – just a short walk from Haymarket train station.

Nikki and I arrived earlier and were really glad we did.  By the time we left at 1.30pm the venue was incredibly busy.  Lots of ticket deals were running in the run up to the event and I think lots of visitors took advantage of the offers. 

We arrived in time to register for one of the sessions and despite it being early, we were both keen to head off to the wine tasting.  We had around 40 minutes before the session started so took the opportunity to go and visit some of the great Scottish producers in the artisan markets.  The food areas were split out left and right when you got down the escalator, so we went left first, capturing a glimpse of the cookery demonstrations which were happening in the hall too.

We tried some great ginger beer at the Crabbies stand, then took the chance to see some of the craft beer and gin producers – all with great flavour combinations.
Marvellous Mustards - make your own at home!

Chatting away with craft brewers from Glasgow
Nikki and I were really looking forward to the wine tasting session which turned out to be really informative.  I tend not to think too much about the wines I buy, apart from knowing which varieties  I like.  Our session focused on the Rhone region in France – by the end of it, we were set to book a flight and drive our way from top to bottom.  There were reds and whites to try –the region is famous for its reds, but the whites were equally delicious.  We finished with a dessert wine, making our way through 6 different varieties on our virtual tour of France.


Following our session, we headed back to the other side of the producers market, saying hello to the guys at Poporopo Gourmet Popcorn and our friends at Summer Harvest Oils.  We tried brownies, smoked salmon, cheese and even South African biltong on our travels.  Needless to say, neither of us left empty handed.  I picked up some amazing artisan bread from Mhor, which I got stuck into with homemade soup after the event.
Artisan bread from Mhor

Scotland's only producer of Mead

Our only criticism – either the halls were a bit small or the event was oversubscribed.  By the afternoon, it was almost impossible to get down the aisles in the food village without pushing people out of the way.  A great sign that the event was popular, but frustrating if you wanted to get close to the producers and chat with them.
Enjoying the entertainment


Nikki and I enjoyed our morning at the event and thanks to the organisers for providing us with a couple of free tickets to attend. 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Mojito Cupcakes

Readers, following on from my post on the Mexica party night the other weekend, I thought I’d share my oh so simple recipe for Mojito cupcakes… that’s right folks, MOJITO CUPCAKES. 

Oh so easy to make and you can scale up the rum content depending on your preference. I also made this with dark rum as I had some in the house, but white rum would be the better option.

Also – dried mint worked well… just don’t go overboard and DON’T use it in the icing!

Mojito Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 12 large cupcakes)

Sponge

175g self raising flour
175g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
175g caster sugar
5 teaspoons rum
Juice & zest of ½ lime
1 heaped teaspoon dried mint

Topping
125g softened butter
250g icing sugar
1 heaped teaspoon cream cheese
1 teaspoon rum
Zest of 1 lime

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan/Gas 6.  Line a muffin tin with 12 large cupcake cases.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy.   Add the rum, lime juice and zest and dried mint.  Mix to combine.
  3. Add in the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour to prevent curdling.  Mix fully into the batter, then sieve in the flour. Mix to combine.
  4. Spoon batter into each case, to around ¾ full. 
  5. Transfer to the oven and bake for 17 minutes, until golden.   Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Topping

  1. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to a bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix the butter until smooth and lighter in colour.  Add the icing sugar slowly and continue to mix until buttercream is formed. Add the cream cheese and rum towards the end of mixing.
  2. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe a swirl on top of each.  Finish with grating lime zest on top of each cake.
  3. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. 


Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Product Review: Proud & Co Silhouette Oven Glove

Readers, I’m introducing you to a new brand tonight! Proud & Co Kitchenware.

I recently received a gift through the post: a lovely heat resistant, waterproof and non-slip oven glove.  As I’ve mentioned several times, we recently painted the kitchen duck egg blue and it matches perfectly with our new look.
Modelling the glove for the first time!
The design features silhouettes of birds on trees and is an elegant shaped glove.   I really liked the waterproof feature. Often I have wet hands in the kitchen, so it’s good to know these won’t get soaked when I’m using them.

The non-slip feature between the palm and thumb sections are great – so often, when I’m lifting dishes out of the oven, I have the fear that the smooth ceramic of the dish against the smooth traditional oven glove are going to be a match made in disaster – cue pasta bake all over the floor.

The glove will withstand heat of up to 500F – great if you’ve got the oven cranked up high!  Also, genius – the glove is interchangeable for both hands.  Delighted as a lefty – so often people assume it’s the right hand that goes in the oven to retrieve dinner… in my case, definitely not!
proud and co oven glove
Great for lefties!
The hanging loop at the top was great – I hung mine on the oven door for ease of reach in the kitchen.
Handy loop to hang on the oven
The glove is currently available for the special price of £8.99 on Amazon… grab yours before the price goes back up!

P.S. It’s also machine washable.  Great for messy cooks like me. I’m a huge fan of spilling Bolognese sauce regularly on my gloves. 

A huge thanks to Proud & Co for giving me the opportunity to try something new.  Keep up to date on their latest developments over on Facebook.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Mini Banoffee Tarts

Readers, I got back to baking this week.  A lot of my recent posts have been cooking focussed so it’s nice to be back baking again.  This recipe is super simple and can be ready in half an hour.  No excuse not to get your bake on.  I was looking at easy tart recipes online – so many cases have to blind baked.  If you don’t have the time, or the baking beans, they can be hard to make.

This recipe creates a delicious caramelised case – be warned, they are hard when first out of the fridge, so allow to come to room temperature if you don’t want granny to break her teeth.  The advantage of this – the cases are firm and hold the filling and the whipped cream without collapsing.
I made 6 small tarts with this recipe, but you could easily double up the recipe if you are feeding a group. 

This is also a cheats recipe that uses only 6 ingredients… bonus!


Mini Banoffee Tarts

Ingredients

For the cases
75g plain flour
60g soft brown sugar
65g unsalted butter


For the filling and topping
6 teaspoons caramel sauce
1 small banana
½ tub Elmlea double cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c.   Melt the butter in the microwave.  Add the flour and sugar to the bowl, along with the melted butter. Mix until you have a sticky dough.
    Mix ingredients for the cases
  2. Take a non-stick muffin pan and grease the inside of each space with vegetable oil.
  3. Divide the mix into six and either roll out and cut with a large cutter, or use your hands to shape each case into the shape of the tin.  They can look a little rustic but try to keep each to the same thickness and height in the tin if possible.
    Mould in the tin
  4. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes.  When removing from the oven the may have puffed up a bit.  Use the back of a teaspoon to flatten them back out and create the indent for the filling.
    Reshape if required
  5. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.
  6. Whilst cooling, whip up the double cream using an electric whisk until firm.  The peaks need to be strong and be able to be piped.
  7. Once cool, fill each with a teaspoon of caramel sauce, a slice of banana and piped cream. Finish with grated chocolate or a chocolate decoration if desired.
    Fill each case with caramel

    Top caramel with sliced banana
  8. Store in the fridge until 10-15 minutes before serving.  These will keep around 24 hours in the fridge… but probably won’t last that long! 
    The finished article