Sunday, 17 September 2017

Hidden Bangkok - An Insiders Guide to the City


Readers, as you may have seen over on Instagram, I’m just back from Thailand. I first went as a backpacker when I was 22.  We island hopped, wore very printed textiles, carried backpacks and went to Full Moon.  7 years on, we had a much more refined couples affair.  I’m hoping to pop a few posts up from this trip, but I’ll start tonight with Hidden Bangkok.

Bangkok used to get a bit of a bad name as a seedy city, covered with neon lights and dodgy backstreet alleyways. Now, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, there are still some “interesting” streets and sights, but on the whole, it’s a bustling metropolitan city and a fusion of east meets west.  This was my third visit to Bangkok and this time, because I’d seen most of the main tourist sites, felt we could dig into the heart of the city a little further.

Today I’m featuring some great hidden spots in Bangkok that you might not fall over on the tourist trail…

A  Place To Lay Your Head

This time we stayed in Chinatown – it’s a bit off the transport links – nearest metro is about a 10 minute walk at Hua Lamphong and not near the Sky Train, but don’t let that put you off.  The cheapest “superior” room at the Shanghai Mansion is about £50 a night and for that you’ll get a big bed, decent en suite and a clean, Chinese themed hotel with a jazz bar in reception, good cocktails, an on site spa and some huge fish in pond.  It’s also right on the main street of Chinatown – with street food galore (see next point).

Embrace The Street Food

As mentioned above, the heart of Chinatown is the perfect place to try some of Bangkok’s famous street food.  There were endless choices available on Th Yaowarat and a short walk down the street – out of the hotel, go right, cross the road, led us to the best Pad Thai we’d had all holiday.  I can only describe it by the family affair with some plastic chairs, where somebody makes the dumplings and next door the girl and guy are cooking up the pad thai at lightning speed.   If you manage to find it based on those instructions, I’ll be delighted.   I also had the best spring rolls of my life – about 8 fried beauties for 70p.  Now, even harder instructions – the spring roll lady is fairly elderly and her stall is down one of the side streets.  If you come out of Shanghai Mansion, go right, head down the road Th Yaowarat, it’s on that side, in one of the side streets off to the right. Again, if you find it, I’ll be delighted.
chinatown streetfood bangkok

Don’t be scared to embrace street eating – just take a safety first approach.  Look for vendors that are busy and are feeding locals as well as tourists.  If it’s roasting hot and there’s no signs of refrigeration, watch meats and seafood. Perhaps your first attempt at Oysters should be from a restaurant?! We were absolutely fine and ate street food many times during our stay in Thailand – everything from traditional dishes to fried potato with pizza seasoning, then dumplings, gyoza, waffles on a stick with sprinkles, spring rolls and ice cream.  For those on a budget, you’ll get fantastic cheap eats – our favourite pad thai was less than £5 for BOTH OF US and that included a couple of beers and a side portion of dumplings. Bargain.
pad thai streetfood bangkok


Visit a Sky Bar

With all the money you’ve saved on food, you can afford to splurge on one night out that’s a bit special. Bangkok has a number of great sky bars where you can buy a drink and sit out on the terrace admiring the skyscrapers and twinkling lights of the streets below you.  I can’t speak for them all, but we visited the Speakeasy at the Hotel Muse located on the 24th floor.  Uber is dirt cheap in Bangkok, so even if you are a bit away, it’s worth the journey.  Everything is dark wood, 1920s themed indoors – the cocktail bar is out on the terrace – and the music is good.  We went on a Friday night about 8.30pm and managed to get a table outdoors however, it had started to get pretty full as we left to go to dinner.
bangkok skyline
Views from Speakeasy on 24th Floor of Hotel Muse 

Beers by The Chaoporya

The famous river that runs through the city is a hotbed of water traffic – from commuter boats to neon lit dinner cruises.  If you fancy a beer off the beaten track (and some food if you are hungry) look no further than the Samsara bar.  It’s about a 5 minute walk from Th Yaowarat and not that far from the Hua Lamphong MRT Metro Station.  It’s literally a cabin type structure with about 6 tables – some of which are right on the water.  It’s a little difficult to find as it’s a bit of walking down an alleyway, searching for the right door, but this all adds to the fun.  There are a fair few cats living in the place – pets I presume.  The venue has a small handwritten menu and once they are out of something it’s scored off.  We didn’t eat dinner, but we did enjoy a beer by the river and some hot nuts whilst enjoying the view and watching the river cruises sail into the night. 

Wanderlust

A great spot attached to a hostel, Wanderlust is an Aussie style cafe with good coffees and has an epic brunch menu.  We were the only people in when we got there, but the brunch was amazing. It’s on the way to the Golden Budda, so if that’s on the list to visit, keep Wanderlust in mind.  They have craft sodas, free wifi, a bit of a hipster vibe and serve on wood and in skillets (sorry plate lovers) but the food is freshly cooked and is worth the wait.   See photo.
brunch at wanderlust bangkok



Monday, 11 September 2017

Jazz Apple Cinnamon Crumble

Readers. I've returned safely from my Thailand adventure (blog posts coming soon, promise) and for now have a lovely little easy recipe for you to try, in conjunction with Jazz Apples.

Have you tried them before?  They are a cross between a Braeburn and Royal Gala apple and are grown in the UK.  They are tangy, yet sweet and are perfect for both snacks and for cooking with. They can be kept in the fridge (meaning they will last around 4 weeks) and you'll find them available year round.

This very easy, 6 ingredient crumble is made without dairy, so suitable for a range of diets. It’s slightly lower in fat than a traditional buttery crumble, but makes for a tasty, filling and warming Autumn dessert.  This recipe will make between 4-6 individual crumbles, depending on how full you make each ramekin. 

jazz apple cinnamon crumble

Ingredients

6 medium Jazz apples (I found mine in Sainsbury’s)
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Crumble Topping
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
2 heaped tablespoons porridge oats
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 heaped tablespoon coconut oil (solidified)
Pinch of cinnamon

Method

  1. Peel, core and chop 6 Jazz apples and add to a medium sized saucepan with a lid.  Add the sugar, cinnamon and water.
  2. Heat the hob to medium and add the pan of Jazz apples, sugar, cinnamon and water to the hob.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for around 20 minutes. Keep the lid on the pan for the first half of cooking time, you can remove halfway through if the apples are looking a little watery.  Stir during cooking and remove from the hob once you have a soft fruit stew.  Allow to cool.  The mix should be fairly smooth and sweet.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180c (fan) and grease 4-6 ramekin dishes. Whilst the oven is heating, make your crumble topping.
  4. To make the crumble topping add the flour, oats, cinnamon and sugar to a bowl.  Mix together. 
  5. In a separate cup, melt the coconut oil in the microwave for approx. 40 seconds until melted and liquid. 
  6. Add the melted coconut oil to the dry mixture and stir to bring the crumble together. 
  7. Add even amounts of stewed apples to the ramekins, to between half and three quarters full.  Then, add the crumble mix on top.  Pat down until flat on top of the apple.
  8. Add the ramekins to a baking tray and transfer to the oven.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until golden on top.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.   Serve with vanilla ice cream, or if keeping to dairy free, serve with raspberry sorbet.
jazz apple cinnamon crumble

This post is sponsored by Jazz Apples

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Glasgow Living Part 26 – The Dhabba, Merchant City, Glasgow

Readers, August has completely disappeared… as witnessed by my lack of posting. I’d love to say it’s because I’ve been on holiday.  It’s not.  Although, I am going to Thailand in September, so not all is bad with the world!  It’s a long overdue break. With an upcoming wedding and a million things on the go at work, I very much look forward to chillin out for a week. 

But back to the present and the latest exploits from my Glasgow food blog.  Last Thursday, Mr WhatClaireBaked and I were invited along to The Dhabba.  They’ve recently updated around a quarter of their menu and as I learned last week, have been a Merchant City institution for 15 years now.  There was a real mix of guests - most slightly older than us – groups of workmates and a big party arrived as we were leaving.  I’d say The Dhabba is one of those places that people keep coming back to. 

The Dhabba specialises in north Indian cuisine – if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to visit India, you’ll know that roadside diners over there are known as dhabbas.    The food was amazing.  It was beautifully presented – with care and attention.  The waiting staff were also good fun, having a bit of a laugh as we didn’t know the chaat pakodi was meant to be eaten with our hands.  I also had never had gulab jamun (why oh why, I don’t know… it was delicious) but more about that later!

Our waiter brought us some mini poppadums and chutney to enjoy as a snack, whilst we waited on drinks and starters.  Just enough to leave us happy, but not too full!
the dhabba glasgow

I kicked off my meal with koliwada jheenga – king prawns with a spicy savoury glaze which were ever so slightly crispy.  They were brilliant – clearly a popular item on the menu as I saw a number of other diners getting stuck in.  Mr WhatClaireBaked went for gol gappa chaat – bite sized crispy puffed bread, spiced potato and chickpeas which afterwards we learned were designed to be picked up and eaten in one mouthful. The culture lesson was appreciated – we’ll know for next time!
starter at the dhabba, glasgow

I went for a dish from the tandoor oven for my main – the smokey flavour from the chicken was incredible.  I thoroughly enjoyed my malai murg and went for a rich mild sauce with my chicken.  The portion size was just right – as was the ratio of chicken to sauce.  Mr WhatClaireBaked went slightly more daring with a lamb bhuna – perhaps India’s most famous lamb dish.  
main course, the dhabba glasgow


We shared sides and this was more than enough – a portion of cumin basmati and a traditional plain naan, to scoop up any leftover sauce.
main course, the dhabba, glasgow

Usually, after an Indian, I’ve no room for dessert, but honestly, the gulub jamun was worth keeping space for.  It’s a traditional Indian dessert, although I’d never tried it before.  Little reduced milk dumplings are soaked in sugar syrup and served warm with vanilla ice cream.  The mix of hot and cold was great and it was a bit like a tiny donut in texture.   After saying he didn’t want anything, Mr WhatClaireBaked definitely sneaked AT LEAST HALF OF MINE. 
dessert, the dhabba, glasgow

The Dhabba’s latest menu update is only the third time since 2002 that it’s made changes to the menu.  It’s testament to a loyal customer base that enjoys its timeless classics and traditional menu that doesn’t date.

You’ll find out more by paying a visit yourself to the venue in Candleriggs, Merchant City, Glasgow. 


You can also keep up to date with The Dhabba via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter 



Disclaimer: I was invited along to The Dhabba to try the revised menu.  Any opnions expressed are my own. 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 25 – A La Carte Menu at Alston Bar & Beef Glasgow

Readers, after a spell of ill health last week, I’m finally back at the laptop, editing pics and typing posts up.  After our really lovely visit to Alston Bar & Beef the other week to try out the new pre-theatre menu, I was delighted to come back again to try out the new A La Carte menu.

Alston is fast becoming a Glasgow favourite of mine – from somewhere I didn’t know existed a few months back, to one of my steak hot spots in the city.  As I mentioned previously, it’s hidden away UNDERNEATH Glasgow Central Station, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is a station food joint.  It’s a bar with great cocktails, fantastic gins and on top of that, it’s a restaurant with amazing steaks.  There are veggie options on the menu, but I’d suggest this is more of a meat eaters paradise.

The pre-theatre menu is incredibly well priced and as you’d expect, the al a carte menu is more expensive, but comes with greater choice and more indulgent starters and mains.  There’s a an epic selection of steaks to please everyone at the table and we were blown away by some of the starter combinations.

Note – the potion sizes are significant, so I didn’t get as far as sampling the dessert menu this time.
I kicked off dinner with a gin cocktail – the cucumber cooler this time round, made with Hendricks and infused with cucumber.  Mr WhatClaireBaked went straight for a beer… for this man, it’s the classic combination.
cocktail alston bar and beef glasgow

I went for the Arbroath Smokie and crowdie roulade to start which was served with a charred corn on the cob (corn that came off the cob fairly easily – relief!) potato foam and a parmesan tuile.  Everything came together beautifully and although rich, I made the effort to finish it…
starter alston bar & beef Glasgow

Mr WhatClaireBaked loves scallops –these were seared with burnt ends, served with butternut puree, crispy onions and a green chilli emulsion.  Again, a beautifully presented dish, coming in at £12, but worth the money.
scallops alston bar and beef glasgow

Despite the huge choice of steaks available, we both settled for a 300g sirloin each.  I had mine with plain butter, rather than garlic – it arrived softened nicely, to melt quickly on top of the steak.  The butter portions are generous, so I’d advise a little at a time, rather than emptying the entire pot on the steak.   Not one to mess about with sides – it was skin on chips all the way – these arrived well seasoned, fairly chunky and guilty as it is it was… I may have dipped the odd or two in the butter.
starter alston bar & beef Glasgow

We went for a second side to share.  I LOVE padron peppers when I go to Spain on holiday and it’s very rare to find them here… or when you do, they are always a bit bang average.  Alston have these perfected.  Blistered skins and served with smoked sea salt, they are great to pick at, during a main. 

Alston’s new a la carte menu is definitely worth making the trip out for… and if you do go…. Please don’t forget to have a steak.
padron peppers alston bar & beef glasgow

Oh and those padron peppers… I can’t rate them highly enough.

To keep up to date with the latest news from Alston Bar & Beef, visit their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.  

Disclaimer: I was invited along to Alston to sample the new a la carte menu.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Beer Bread and Cheesy Beer Dip with Krombacher

Readers, you may have seen my other recipe post the other week for Krombacher, featuring fried chicken and mini steak pies – perfect snacks for summer gatherings in the garden.

This is my second recipe post for Krombacher Low Alcohol Beers and today I’m teaching you all how to make homemade bread with beer and a delicious gooey, cheesy, chorizo dip to dunk the bread in.  Set aside a few hours to do this, as the bread needs proving time, but it’s so worth it.

Both of these have been made with the Krombacher Low Alcohol range - perfect for those avoiding the booze!
krombacher beer bread

Ingredients

Bread
1 supermarket pre mix bread bag – I used a Sainsbury’s Multiseed Loaf Kit
1 bottle Krombacher Pils

Beer Chorizo Dip
1 tablespoon butter
1 packed diced chorizo
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4oz cream cheese
½ Bottle Krombacher
½ teaspoon garlic granules
2 handfuls grated cheddar or mozzarella
6 drops Worcestershire Sauce


Method

Bread
  1. Start by making the bread according to pack instructions.
  2. Instead of using water according to the pack, swap this for the same amount of Krombacher beer.
  3. Mix according to instruction, then set aside to prove.  Bake according to pack instructions.
  4. Serve warm, from the oven, cut into chunky squares to dip.
krombacher beer bread and dip


Dip

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c (fan oven).
  2. Add butter to the pan over a medium heat on the hob.  Add the chorizo and fry.  Add the cream cheese, mustard and half a bottle of beer.  Stir until cheese is melted. Once melted down and mixed together, remove from heat and add in the grated cheese and Worcester sauce.
  3. Grease a cheese baking dish (Camembert baker type dish is fine) – you may need two depending on the amount of mix. Transfer the mix to the dish(es).
  4. Bake each dish for around 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and there is a crust on top.  
  5. Serve hot from the oven with the freshly made bread.


Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Krombacher Low Alcohol Beer. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

So… Just WHAT Is Private Dining?

Readers,  the joy of blogging is uncovering new and exciting food experiences.  Sometimes it’s the joy of educating others about my experiences and other times, it’s talking about new stuff!

Take for example, The Private Dining Directory.  It’s a one stop shop for all things private dining in the UK.   You can select by city, then venue and discover all the best private dining spots in your city (local or otherwise).

private dining directory


Alas, WHAT IS PRIVATE DINING, I hear you ask?   It’s not just for the rich and famous.  There are plenty of opportunities when private dining could be relevant. You’ve a group of customers coming up from London and you want to take them for dinner?  Why sit with everyone else, when you could have a room to yourself?   You want to treat the management team as they’ve worked really hard?  Make them feel special with a private dining experience.  Just got engaged?  It’s a great way to bring both families together and meet in a quiet space.  Congratulations on your engagement… suddenly it’s time for the hen and you’re a classy lady… why not consider private dining?  You get the picture.
The Private Dining Directory lists by occasion, so it’s not just personal events you can enquire about.  You can search for conference and meeting spaces, wedding venues and even a special place for a proposal.

The idea of this directory is really useful.  I’m currently engaged and searching for wedding venues in or near Glasgow was a case of check out what you know, then ask Google the rest.  For venues listed on the directory, it’s an easy way to see what they can do, approximate pricing and how many the venue can hold.  There’s the option to check availability if you’ve got a chosen date, or you can add a number of venues to the enquiry form and send out an enquiry to a few places if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

This is a great little resource for individuals searching for dinner somewhere different (a fair few of these have a small minimum of around 8 people – probably not that hard to get to) or could be useful for marketing, PR and corporate relations professionals looking to impress their colleagues with their knowledge of the local dining scene… just with a little help.

For more info, check out the directory's social pages on Twitter and Facebook.



This post is sponsored by The Private Dining Directory. 

Glasgow Living Part 24 – Lunch Menu at Ardnamurchan

Readers, as you’ve probably gathered, it’s been all go on the blog this month.  I’ve done a fair few reviews as well as recipe postings which has kept me busy.

Today I’m talking all things Arnamurchan – the amazing Scottish restaurant and bar at the top of Hope Street (across the road from the Theatre Royal). As a Scottish food blogger, it’s always an honour to be asked along to try out new places.

This was actually my second visit to the restaurant – a few weeks ago, I visited with some friends for the pre-theatre menu, booked through 5pm (honestly, try it, you won't be disappointed).  We had such an amazing experience, I was delighted to be invited back to review.  Pre-Ardnamurchan this place was a big pub that I’d never felt the urge to go into.  The new owners have invested heavily in the décor – moving the bar, exposing the brickwork, putting in industrial lights but still keeping a Scottish feel with just enough touches of tartan than it’s modern, not twee.
 
interior at ardnamurchan glasgow
Booths are available for larger groups

kitchen at arnamurchan glasgow
View to the open kitchen 

I had really high hopes for lunch here after our lovely dinner a few weeks previous – note – the wine list is fantastic and the guys behind the bar know their stuff – they’re well trained and polite. 

This time, as we were in for a lunchtime visit, I went purely for a soft drink and got stuck into their new lunch menu.   The choices are for 1,2 or 3 courses, starting at £7.95 for one course.  We’d definitely recommend the two courses at £9.95 – with the portion sizes, there was no way we’d have got to dessert as well.  We didn’t feel we needed it.  Quite a few dishes have supplements but these were only £1.00 each, so not breaking the bank if you do want to try some of the more premium offers. Although this could add up quickly, if you chose them for each course.

We both tried different starters – Mr WhatClaireBaked keeping it classic with chicken liver pate, toasted bread and fig jam.  Pate to bread ratio was great (he reported this back, we discuss it every time one of us orders pate in a restaurant). 
starter lunch menu Ardnamurchan


My starter was amazing – venison Bolognese hache – think venison meatballs, deep fried in breadcrumbs with a bolognese sauce.  They were SO GOOD.  Crispy outside, soft inside,  tangy sauce for dipping. Recommended as the stand out starter on the menu.

starter lunch menu Ardnamurchan
Next up, Mr WhatClaireBaked went for the venison burger served on brioche with a red onion relish and skinny fries – it came with a toasted bun and the venison was cooked properly – still pink in the middle.  It looked great, but for the purposes of avoiding “double venison” – I looked at it longingly across the table.

I love a chicken and bacon club – the Arndamurchan version came in a ciabatta rolls with mustard mayo and was also served with skinny fries. I went for this as my main.  It was incredibly filling and coupled with a decent sized starter, made for good value for less than £10 a head.

The waiting staff told us that the sticky toffee pudding was the best in Glasgow – we’ve yet to prove this, but if anyone else has been to Arnamurchan, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts!
lunch menu Arnamurchan Glasgow


Also for coeliac and gluten free friends – there are a few options for you which are highlighted on the menu.  Fear not!  

For more info, or to book, visit the website.  You can also keep up to date with the restaurant on Facebook, and Instagram.

Disclaimer: I was invited along to enjoy lunch for two in exchange for a review. Any opinions expressed are my own.


Monday, 17 July 2017

Beer Snacks & Low Alcohol Beer with Krombacher

Readers, I’m back experimenting in the kitchen again as it’s officially Summer (also known in Glasgow as TAPS AFF) and beer and bbq season.   The lovely people at Krombacher were in touch recently, to see if I’d be willing to do some kitchen experiments with their low alcohol beer.

This is the first of two planned posts showcasing interesting things you can do with beer as well as drink it.  Take note, these recipes have both been made with Krombacher low alcohol products – from the biggest family owned and operated brewery in Europe.  You’ll find these beers to be produced according to the Germany Beer Purity Law of 1516.  Both the Pils and the wheat beer I’ve worked with here are low alcohol and actually taste like beer.

krombacher low alcohol beer

These are great for drinking as well as cooking – various statistics are showing adults are shunning alcohol or attempting to cut down as part of a healthier lifestyle.  In Scotland, we have fairly strict drink driving rules, so one of these low alcohol beers at an afternoon barbeque could be an option – especially when you’ve had too many carbonated soft drinks like you're at a a children’s party!

So as well as enjoying these as part of a low alcohol lifestyle, I’ve cooked up a few recipes to share with you all for Summer entertaining season – all perfect snack foods to enjoy with a low alcohol Krombacher or two!

Keep an eye on this great German brand by following on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 

Beer Battered Fried Chicken with Krombacher Pils Low Alcohol

Ingredients (makes 8 pieces)
8 mini breast fillets
Plain flour for coating

Batter Mix
½ cup plain flour
½ cup Krombacher Pils Low Alcohol
1 egg beaten
3 cups veg oil for frying

Method
  1. Dry off each chicken fillet with a paper towel then season with salt and pepper.  Then, coat each fillet in plain flour.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat one egg, add in the flour and Krombacher Pils Low Alcohol and mix together until a smooth batter is formed.  Then dip each floured fillet into the batter, coating on both sides. Shake off any excess.  Transfer to a plate and refrigerate for ½ hour before frying to settle the batter.
  3. Next, add the oil to a DEEP heavy based sauce pan and heat the oil to 350F – check using a temperature proof kitchen thermometer.  Don’t let it get too hot.  Alternatively, if you have a deep fryer, you can cook in there (I don’t have one).  Please be careful handling pans of hot oil.  It can be dangerous. 
  4. Once the temperature is reached, aimed to maintain this during cooking.  Cook fillets 2-3 at a time, turning throughout cooking.  Cook time for breast meat should be 8-10 minutes. Turn during cooking.  Remove from pan using a slotted heat proof spoon, then drain on kitchen towel.  Cut through one of each to check meat is white and fully cooked.  Serve immediately with bbq sauce.
  5. Be careful – do not touch the oil and pan until it is fully cooled down and dispose of the oil responsibly.
    krombacher beer battered fried chicken


Mini Steak & Beer Pies with Krombacher Weizen Low Alcohol

These take a good bit of time to prep but are worth it.  You might end up with leftover meat – fear not, it can be frozen and used at a later date.
krombacher mini steak pies


Ingredients – filling (will make a minimum of 10-12 mini pies)
400g diced beef
1 bottle Krombacher Weizen Low Alcohol
2 beef oxo cubes
1 onion (sliced)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp all purpose seasoning
Dash Worcester Sauce

1 egg beaten (for egg wash)
Pastry – 2 rolls of pre rolled puff pastry

Method
  1. Slice the onion, add to a large heavy based pan and begin to fry and soften before adding the garlic.
  2. Toss the meat in plain flour and add to the saucepan, start browning. 
  3. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix, then straight after, add a full bottle of Krombacher Weizen Low Alcohol.  Mix together and cook on a medium heat for around 5 minutes.  Once starting to boil, transfer to a slow cooker and cook meat on low for around 7 hours.
  4. Once your meat is cooked, begin to assemble the pies.  Start by greasing a muffin tin and preheat your oven to 180c (fan).
  5. Take your pre-rolled pastry and cut out a large circle and a slightly smaller circle for the lid.  The large circle should fit in the muffin tin and reach the top on both sides. I used a wide topped cup as my guide and a narrower mug for the lid of the pie.
  6. From the two rolls of pastry, prepare 12 large and 12 smaller circles.  If desired, you can re-roll the pastry to make more. 
  7. Place each of the larger circles into the muffin tin to make a case, then spoon in your cooked meat to each to around ¾ full.   Next, using a damp finger, go around the top of each case and put on the smaller pastry circle – making sure it is well sealed to the case around all edges.
    How to prep and fill each mini pie
  8. Repeat with the remaining mix until all are topped and sealed.   Wash each with a pastry brush and beaten egg.
  9. Transfer to the oven, bake for around 20 minutes, or until pastry is golden and the meat is hot.
  10. Remove from the oven and muffin tin, then serve immediately.




Disclaimer – this post has been sponsored by Krombacher beers. 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 23 – Afternoon Tea at Willow Tea Rooms

Readers, I took my mum on an adventure last week for afternoon tea at the Glasgow institution which is the Willow Tea Rooms.  They have two sites in the city centre – one on Buchanan Street (enjoyed by the tourists) and one within Watt Brothers on Sauchiehall Street.

We visited the Buchanan Street Tearoom and were seated upstairs in the Chinese tearoom – painted blue.  Go up the stairs and you’re treated to a two level tearoom, with Rennie Mackintosh inspired furniture and his signature style dotted throughout the venue. It’s incredibly traditional and charming, with the waitresses dressed in black dresses and white aprons.
Willow Tea Rooms
Interior of Willow Tea Rooms 


We went for the afternoon tea at £12.95 per person – which visitors flock far and wide for.   You start by choosing your tea from the vast selection of loose leaf (I went for the Cranston blend), then pick your choice of cake from the cabinet.  But more about the giant strawberry tarts later.

Our afternoon tea arrived shortly after, served on a traditional three tier display with finger sandwiches on the bottom.  Top marks to our lovely waitress who shared the selection of sandwiches with us when we ordered and allowed us to make a few swaps (we’re not a family of egg mayo lovers).    They were cut into dainty finger shapes, crusts removed and on fresh, soft bread. 
afternoon tea willow tearooms


afternoon tea willow tearooms

Next level up, our cream scones were waiting – a choice of plain or fruit – with traditional clotted cream and jam.   A little shortbread round was also on the plate, to enjoy with our tea.  After much debate on the cream versus jam, which goes first on a scone, we tucked in.  Let it be known that you’ll get proper home baking at Willow Tea Rooms. There’s no “bought in” cakes here.   It’s a real bugbear of mine when you go for an afternoon tea and are presented with untidy sandwiches and frozen cakes (I’ve been somewhere before, where there was definitely ice in the middle).  Not here though, the scones were home-made. 


Back to the strawberry tarts.  These things were HUGE.  We’re talking several strawberries, big dollops of cream, delicious short pastry and loads of strawberry tart jelly which I love. They easily filled the top level of the cake stand and were worth waiting for.  I always feel a summer isn’t complete without the arrival of a Strawberry tart (favoured around Wimbledon season, just in case you are wondering!)  For me, these were the highlight of the afternoon tea.
strawberry tarts the willow tearooms


Mum and I both enjoyed our visit to this Glasgow institution – a favourite with both locals and visitors to the city.  You’ll find Willow Tea Rooms Buchanan Street at Number 97 – towards the lower end of Buchanan Street - for people who are new to Glasgow.  Head up the stairs and you’ll be greeted by friendly waitresses showing you with a table.  Be prepared for a short wait if you haven’t pre-booked, especially during peak times in the day.  And don't forget to try the strawberry tarts! 



For more information, keep up to date with Willow Tea Rooms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Disclaimer:  I was invited along to Willow Tea Rooms as a Glasgow Blogger to try their afternoon tea menu in exchange for a write up.  Any opinions expressed are my own.  

Friday, 7 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 22 - Dinner at Monty's Finnieston

Readers, I had a great start to my week of annual leave visiting new restaurant opening in Finnieston.  Many of you will remember Monty’s as the old Montgomery’s Café – a neighbourhood jaunt favoured by locals.  Under new management, Monty’s is now fully refurbed and looking fantastic.  It’s gone from neighbourhood café, to trend bistro with a fantastic menu, great chefs and really refined dishes.
Monty's Finnieston


We were lucky enough to be asked along to try out dinner at the newly refurbished venue and I’ll start by saying that this is one to watch in the area.  I think it could gain a great reputation very quickly.  The challenge will be getting the locals back in to see it in a new light.

Dinner started with an amuse bouche which was much appreciated whilst we waited on our starters coming.  I took a bit of time to check out the new décor – it’s got a real industrial feel with exposed brickwork, copper lighting and big wooden tables and booths.  There’s also a small bar through the archway and in the evenings, after food service, you can come in, grab a table and enjoy drinks.

Amuse Bouche, Monty's Finnieston




Our starters swiftly arrived – I went for the courgette and cheddar fritters, whilst Mr WhatClaireBaked went traditional with Scottish smoked salmon, capers and bread. Both were delicious, a decent size and hoovered up!   
starters monty's finnieston

starters monty's finnieston

The choice of mains was fantastic – ranging between £12 and £18 (roughly!) for a main course.  I had checked out the menu online and had my heart set on the venison loin which didn’t disappoint.  Delicious, rich, cooked pink and served with creamed savoy cabbage and bacon, with butternut squash.  The portion was just right – it was an incredibly rich dish, so I didn’t feel the need for more.  Mr WhatClaireBaked went for the chicken and risotto, which was equally beautifully presented and filling.  
venson main monty's glasgow


Not one to turn down dessert, I went for the cranachan – but a modern take on a cranachan – served as a parfait, with raspberry sorbet, homemade toasted granola and fresh raspberries.  Mr WhatClaireBaked struggled his way through ice cream, after saying he couldn’t manage dessert, then stared longingly at mine!!!!
dessert monty's glasgow


We were really impressed by Monty’s.  The menu is fairly Scottish, with decent sized portions presented stylishly in a great modern settting. If you are popping by, don’t forget to check out the huge world map on the ceiling – a relic from the old café.


You’ll find Monty’s on Radnor Street in Finnieston. They also offer a brunch menu and are open right through to late evening.  Why not visit their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Disclaimer:  I was asked to come for dinner for two in exchange for a review.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Glasgow Living Part 21 – Pre Theatre Menu at Alston Bar & Beef

Readers, I’ve had a great month of reviews and socialising with other bloggers.  I also love how much of a community there is in Glasgow.  

My latest adventure was to Alston Bar & Beef. Alston’s new manager was really keen to engage the blogger community, so brought in a few of us in small groups to try out their new pre-theatre menu.  I went along with Foodie Explorers and EmmaEats for a night of socialising!

One thing to be clear about – this is for people who lovvveeees their meat.  No rude jokes at the back please.  The clue is in the bar and beef name.  Alston for those of you who don’t know, is UNDER central station in Glasgow.  No joke.  You go in through the main entrance to Glasgow Central, it’s on the left, down the stairs.  Terribly unassuming from the outside, but once down underground, there’s some cool blue and purple lighting and a great buzz.

Don’t be put off by the fact it’s inside a train station.  This is NOT station food.

The set menu – pre/theatre is served Monday to Thursday 12pm to 6.30pm and Friday and Saturday between 12pm and 4pm.

We started our night with a cocktail each from the extensive menu.  I  love my gins as you probably know.  I started with a little raspberry gin cocktail (Raspberry Royale) before moving onto Argentinian Malbec to go with the steaks.
alston glasgow
Raspberry Royale Cocktail


I started with the tweed valley brisket and smoked cheddar croquettes (think posh potato croquettes) which were delicious.  Soft and smooth in the middle, then crispy on the outside.  I felt I couldn’t go to Alston and not order steak so went for a classic 227g bavette and chips.  I’d also recommend a focaccia to share at the table if you’re happy to get your carbs on. 
alston bar and beef glasgow starter

steak alston bar and beef glasgow

By this point I was starting to feel full and was concerned I wasn’t making it to dessert, but undeterred I continued on.  I cheated slightly, only going for lemon sorbet for dessert, but was assured by my dining partners that the poached pear and chocolate brownie on the menu were also delicious.

dessert alston glasgow

For value, you’re probably best going for at least 2 courses – one course will set you back £10, 2 courses are £13 and if you’ve room for dessert, 3 courses are £16.

I loved the vibe of Alston – the low lighting made it feel like a proper night out, even though it was a Thursday – and it was fairly busy around the bar and restaurant, creating a great atmosphere for everyone in the venue.
alston bar and beef glasgow

 For more info, visit the Alston website or visit their social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Disclaimer: I was asked to visit Alston to review the new menu. Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Glasgow Living Part 20 - Dinner at The Counter Custom Burgers

Readers, we tried another new experience last week.  Dinner at The Counter.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a custom burger joint and you’ll find it tucked in the corner of Springfield Quay in Glasgow.  It’s also the first UK franchise of The Counter, which is found across America and other cool locations like Dubai.
the counter glasgow inside sign

Fairly simple concept, go to your table, either order from the menu or, if you’re like us and enjoy variety, get your tick box notepad and pencil out and start selecting your protein, cheese, sauce, toppings, premium toppings and sides.  Single burgers and toppings are £9.50 and £13.50 for a double.  Sides are £3.25 each and you can also add premium protein or toppings if you are that way inclined (charges apply).
Pick a topping... any topping.


We really enjoyed our first trip – a special shout out needs to go to the tots we shared as a starter – bacon, spring onions, potato tots, cheese and ranch dressing arrived in a big bowl. There was more than enough for 2 people in there and was a great warm up to our burgers. 

the counter glasgow

The restaurant also has a varied drinks menu including a range of virgin cocktails.  We went mid week and I didn’t really fancy alcohol, so this was a nice alternative.  So often soft drinks are just a bit boring.
virgin mojito

The food came quickly, so if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat before going onto somewhere else, this is a good shout.  However, although it’s fast, the food is of a good standard.  A choice of buns were available  - including gluten free – and also, the venue serves halal meat, meaning it’s a great choice for large groups with various dietary requirements. On and when you choose your sauce it's served on the side.  #cleanhands

the counter glasgow
My burger - chicken, roast peppers, mozzarella, turkey bacon, side of fried onions and fries
The staff spent time taking us through the menu, checking our food was ok and made sure we always had drinks, but without being overbearing.  We also appreciated the chat with the Manager who gave us some background to the company and told us that the team were trained by the American arm of The Counter, to install the right vibe and values from the day The Counter opened.  
the counter glasgow
Inside The Counter


Some people may question the location – it’s definitely more premium than many of the other dining places at Springfield Quay and with that in mind, it’s worth making a special trip south of the River Clyde to visit.   It’s easily walkable from the city centre if you have 20 minutes to spare.

Glasgow’s had a great month of “firsts” and I’d recommend visiting this place whilst it’s the first of its kind in the UK (and I suspect it won’t be the only one within a few months!)

To find out more, be sure to follow The Counter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Disclaimer:  I was provided a meal for two in exchange for a review.  Any opinions expressed are my own.