Sunday, 27 September 2015

Competition Time - Win a Pair of Tickets to The Cake & Bake Show, Edinburgh

Readers,

I'm delighted to have a competition for you all.  I'm giving away a pair of day tickets to The Cake & Bake Show in Edinburgh.


This is the FIRST TIME EVER that the Cake & Bake Show has come to Scotland and to celebrate, event organisers Media 10 have given me a pair of tickets to giveaway to a lucky reader.

I'm delighted to be an official blogger for this year's Edinburgh event and I can't wait to let you all know what goes on! It's in partnership with The Great British Bake Off and visitors will see Britain's favourite foodie expert Gregg Wallace, celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager, Aaron Craze of Saturday Cookbook, actress and winner of Celebrity MasterChef Lisa Faulkner, TV chef Phil Vickery, French pâtissier and celebrity chef Éric Lanlard, as well as Coronation Street star and Celebrity MasterChef finalist  Wendi Peters. Joining them and whipping up a storm on the Super Cake and Bake Theatre - in association with  Neff, will be the nation's favourite baking stars Jo Wheatley, Great British Bake Off winner from 2011, John Whaite, the charismatic winner of The Great British Bake Off 2012 as well as fellow seasoned baking star Brendan Lynch. These are just some of the famous names on view and each event will be packed with a host of other renowned foodie experts.

For more information, visit the website and if you think this sounds like an event for you, why not try your hand at entering the competition, using the rafflecopter link below... Good luck!

The event takes place from 30th October to 1st November and the tickets are valid for one day only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Product Review: Choco Writers

Readers, back to reviewing again tonight.  I’ve finally had a chance in the new kitchen to get back to baking.  Well, sort of baking… it was more non baking, but a banoffee pie was the result of my non baking efforts, so I shouldn’t moan.

We had the family over en mass today – flat project is almost complete, so we’re finally happy to show the place to people!

Anyway, to the point! Cake Décor recently sent some samples to me of Choco Writers – their new cake decorating product.  I hadn’t heard of them before, but when I worked out what the concept was, I wondered why I hadn’t used them sooner.

Choco writers are tubes of chocolate that you melt in a jug of boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  You then snip the end off the tube and write with them – or create shapes with chocolate: whatever you want!
choco writers

So far, I’ve only used the milk chocolate one – but I hope the others work as successfully as this one did. I had a slight disaster at the start – there must have been a small piece of chocolate still solid at the top of the nozzle.  Nothing was happening so I squeezed hard to free it and covered my tiles in chocolate…. Decorative but not what I was hoping for.  Lesson learn for next time though – squeeze downwards.

So what did I use this for?   I made a banoffee pie for family coming over and wanted to go for a nice topping. I piped some swirls onto a baking sheet, left them to set at room temperature for around half an hour, then gently peeled them off the sheet and topped my cake with the chocolate swirls.  It made it look professionally finished (and was incredibly easy to do).
banoffee pie with choco writers
Finished swirls on top of cake

I’d like to try these out with stencil sheets, to create cake toppers – but so far, I’ve really liked using them. I’ve always found it quite difficult to write with icing, but this would be an easy way to write a message to top a cake.  If you make a mistake, you can always rewrite it on the baking paper and start again.  

My thoughts: these are an incredibly useful addition to a novice baker’s kitchen, as you can create professional looking designs, fairly easily.

Choco Writers are available from Lakeland, priced at £1.89 per tube, Sainsburys at £1.50, Morrisons at £1.53 and Asda is £1.60.  They are also available from numerous cake decorating outlets across the UK.  For more information, visit their website
banoffee pie with choco writers

Disclaimer: I was sent samples of Choco Writers to test and review.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Glasgow Living Part 2 – Mulberry Street Bar / Bistro

Readers, I’m trying to mix things up a bit – some of you may have noticed my baking posts have been minimal of recent and a lot of my writing has been generically foodie focussed.  An impending holiday to Mexico has put cakes on hold for another few weeks.

Anyway, I’ve been adjusting to Glasgow living and decided it was time for part 2 of my Glasgow living series.  I’ve been out and about exploring Shawlands over the last couple of weeks and wanted to feature this weekend’s dining experience in my latest post!


All I can say is… over delivers for price!  My friend and I popped in last Saturday evening – after misdirecting ourselves into the bar next door (looked good, plans to go back), we quickly realised the bistro was adjoining – take note future diners.  Having walked past many times since moving southside, I wasn’t sure what to expect – the signage is swanky, muted colour schemes are appealing and it’s always busy.  A sure sign it’s likely to be expensive?  How wrong could we be!

We took a look at the online menus and after realising it wasn’t ridiculously overpriced, we booked ourselves in for a Saturday night dining experience.  The team couldn’t have been friendlier – securing us the window table, perfect as we didn’t want to stare at each other over a candlelit square table all night.
Photo credit: Mulberry Street Bar & Bistro 
Wine was reasonably priced – we went for a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, coming in at £15.95 a bottle.  A good wine to see us through dinner.  We went for starters and mains (too full by the time dessert arrived).

Miss V went for a Stornoway black pudding starter which disappeared in minutes, whilst I had the mixed tempura which came with prawn, chicken, haggis and aubergine (a soy sauce dip and sweet chilli dip were also included).  The tempura came with a small side salad – I ate it to cancel out the fried calories I’d just enjoyed…

Onto mains – Miss V had a classic thai yellow curry with chicken.  Plate sizes were very generous and the curry was packed with veggies and came with rice.  Decent grub for hungry people! After spending ages going through the extensive menu, I finally settled on smoked haddock with baby potatoes, broccoli a poached egg and hollandaise.  A simple main – served stylishly and just the right amount of food on offer.

So, thoughts on the night… we were less than £50 for dinner for two including a bottle of wine.  Reasonable on all counts.  We had a great table, staff looked after us without spending the meal on top of us and we spent a good two hours at the table chatting, never feeling rushed.  The bistro is small, so I’d advise booking on a weekend and it can get hot in there, when the place is full.

All in all, an enjoyable night and I’m hoping to take Mr What Claire Baked back to enjoy the £6.95 lunchtime soup and sandwich special!

Visit: 778 Pollockshaws Road, Glasgow, G41 2AE

Book a table: 0141 424 0858


Friday, 11 September 2015

Tapas and Beer Matching with Alhambra Reserva 1925

Readers, it’s been an interesting week.  Whilst Autumn has been starting to show signs of arriving… still light in the morning, but not so much at night, I’ve been cranking the lights on, turning the heating on and pretending I’m in Spain.

The lovely people at Alhambra got in touch in August asking if I’d be willing to take part in a tapas campaign highlighting the beauty of beer and Spanish tapas dishes.


Beer… sold to Mr What Claire Baked.  Tapas… sold to the food blogger in the corner.

I should probably tell you a little about Alhambra… the brewery is named after the Alhambra palace in Spain and founded in 1925, it’s regarded as the leading craft brewery in Spain.  The “Alhambra Reserva 1925” of which I received 12 bottles in a beautiful wooden chest, with some stunning glasses to drink from, is ultra-premium and bottled in a dark green embossed bottled (soon to be holding flowers in our kitchen we liked the bottles so much).

I have to confess, at home, I’m not a huge beer drinker, however, in when I’m abroad, there’s nothing better than having a cold beer, on a hot day, sitting on a terrace with friends sharing food and generally enjoying life.

My original brief was to create one tapas dish and share the recipe, however, I got so into this task, I’ve created a few different dishes – all of which are easy to create at home.  As it’s unlikely you’d have a beer and a one dish, here are some different suggestions to get you thinking about trying tapas for yourself.

The verdict: this was a great beer to pair with food and to share that with my readers, I’m hosting a competition for you to be in with the chance of winning a heritage set of Alhambra Reserva 1925. Just answer: What would be your perfect tapa for pairing with Alhambra Reserva 1925? Comment below and you could win a heritage set of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer to enjoy with your own tapa creations!’ (Entrants must be over 18 and Alhambra will send the prize directly to the chosen winner.  Best comment wins. Winner will be announced on the blog).


Now the small print is out of the way, happy tapas creation folks! (Don't forget to enter the competition too!)

Chorizo Croquettes

Ingredients - makes 14 large round croquettes or 18 medium
1 pack sliced chorizo, chopped into small pieces
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons grated hard cheese
Salt and pepper to season
1/2 teaspoon powdered garlic
Egg wash (made with 1 medium egg and a dash of milk, beaten)
Plain flour
Breadcrumbs
1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp mixed herbs to add to breadcrumbs

Method
  1. Peel and chop potatoes.  Boil over a medium heat on the hob, for around 25 minutes until cooked.  Mash and add chorizo and powdered garlic, mix to combine.  Allow to cool.  Add salt and pepper to season and mix. 
    Add chopped chorizo to mashed potato

  2. Once cooled, shape into small round balls.  Coat with flour, then egg wash (this helps the egg to stick and the breadcrumbs to stick to the egg).  Mix the breadcrumbs with herbs and seasoning.
    Make balls!

  3. Roll each ball in breadcrumbs and transfer to a fridge/freezer proof tray or plate.
  4. Repeat until all mix is used.  If you have too many – transfer to a freezer tub and freeze the extras until you need them. 
  5. Chill the ones you wish to cook in the fridge for 2 hours, or if pushed for time, in the freezer for 1 hour, then transfer back to fridge - you want chilled, not frozen! 
    Roll in breadcrumbs
  6. Heat oil in a large, heavy based pan to 185c (I use a cooking thermometer to check this).
  7. Cook 4 at a time for around 4 minutes, or until, golden brown.  Remove from oil using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll, to remove any excess oil.  
  8. Serve immediately with aioli for dipping.

 Beer Battered Prawns with Lime & Coriander Mayonnaise

Ingredients - serves 2
Vegetable oil for deep frying.
1 pack fresh king prawns, washed and coated with plain flour
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon lime juice, ½ teaspoon coriander (mixed together)
For the batter
75g/2½oz cornflour
75g/2½oz plain flour
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
188ml/6½fl oz Alhambra Reserva 1925

Method - 
  1. Start by creating the batter.  Sift cornflour and plain flour into a medium bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre, add the egg, Alhambra Reserva 1925 and whisk from the centre outwards, until just combined. Lumpy batter isn’t a problem! Allow the batter to stand for a few minutes in a cool place.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pan until around 185c.  Be careful – hot oil is dangerous!
  4. Coat the prawns in flour, then dip the prawns into the batter and carefully add to the hot oil to deep-fry in batches for 2 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
  5. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  6. Mix the mayonnaise, lime juice and coriander together to form a dip. Serve immediately. 

Patatas Bravas

Ingredients - serves 4
2 large baking potatoes (peeled and chopped)
Sunflower oil for cooking
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Bravas Sauce
Tin chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons mayonnaise
½ teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon paprika
1 chopped onion

Method
  1. Make the sauce by adding the onion and garlic to a pan. Fry until softened.  Add the paprika, sugar, chilli powder and tomatoes to the pan.  Simmer for 25 minutes until cooked through, then stir through the mayonnaise, whisking out any lumps
  2. Whilst the sauce is cooking, Peel and evenly chop two large baking potatoes. Drop into a pan of salted water and par boil for 10 minutes until tender. Preheat a frying pan with sunflower oil and shallow fry until potatoes turn golden and are crispy.
    Chop potatoes evenly
  3. One sauce has cooked down, put into a blender and blitz until a smooth sauce is created.  Pass through a sieve to remove any lumps.
  4. Plate up the potatoes, top with sauce and serve immediately.
    And serve!

Chorizo with a Red Wine Glaze

Ingredients - serves 2
½ chorizo ring, cut into small round chunks              
75ml red wine
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon honey

Method
  1. Preheat the pan and fry the garlic for 2-3 minutes.  Add the chorizo, red wine and honey.
  2. Cook through until the sauce has turned into a thick glaze. Serve immediately.
A tapas feast - from Grenada to Glasgow!
Disclaimer: Alhambra sent me a series of products to sample and match with food. Any opinions expressed are my own.