Autumnal, Cidery Crumble 

Here’s me waving a cautious hello to autumn. It’s still a little frustrating getting dressed in the morning, I’ve discovered a love for dresses with long arms and high collars, these paired with my signature thick tights and red DMs mean I’m quite often sweating by 11am.

Anyway, I try not to allow this sort of weather issue to affect my joy of cold weather eating. The office is full of chats about stews, dumplings, crumbles and the much maligned steamed pudding and I am here for it.

I was sent some bottles of Old Rascal from Thatchers after a balloon flight, didn’t happen and as someone who isn’t a huge cider lover it’s been used mostly for roast pork. However, my office neighbour and I wondered a few weeks ago if cider and crumble could be bedfellows and honestly I couldn’t see why not. Also it’s been ages since I’ve done a recipe and that’s what this blog was supposed to be for. So, please do give this a go and let me know if you try it. We loved it.

To feed 4 greedy bastards you will need;

Filling

  • Around 300ml of sweet to med sweet cider
  • 2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2 small sweet cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • A generous knob of butter
  • A pinch of salt

Topping

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g oats
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 100g butter
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  • Gently melt the  butter and add the cooking apples. When they start to soften add the cider, turn up heat a little and stir occasionally. You’re looking for the apple to get very soft and thicker, almost like a sauce.
  • Once that’s happened add your chunks of sweet apple, sugar and spices plus salt and heat throughout. You want the sweet apples to hold more of their shape so it’s not akin to baby foods.
  • Decant into your crumble receptacle
  • For the topping, either pulse everything into a food processor until crumbly or rub together with your hands until you’re happy. I like a few big, stodgy clumps in mine.
  • Pop into a preheated oven, around 200c for about half an hour or until the top is nice and brown.
  • Serve with custard

Champagne Cream Tea at The Ivy

To celebrate their 2nd Birthday, The Ivy Brassiere in Clifton Village is offering a champagne afternoon tea to diners who like a little fizz with their finger sandwiches. Taken in The Orangery, you will be surrounded by nearly 700 origami butterflies hanging above you, making this already beautiful venue something incredibly magical.

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I was incredibly lucky to have been invited along with a few others to try this indulgent treat on a Wednesday afternoon, a nice experience to have after a week laid up with some rather nasty tonsillitis! I hadn’t been to The Ivy before but was incredibly impressed with the decor, the attentiveness (but not over fussing) of the staff and how special the afternoon felt.

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The tea itself is incredibly generous, with both savory and sweet elements. a groaning three-tier cake stand arrived loaded with truffled chicken on brioche, cucumber finger sandwiches, smoked salmon on rye. The sweets were just as indulgent, including a bite-sized raspberry cheesecake,  an espresso chocolate mousse with salted caramel and a fabulous creme brulee inspired doughnut (I would have willingly sacked everything off for 10 of these). Obviously, it isn’t a cream tea without scones, jam and cream. I go cream first, sorry Cornwall, your beaches are nice and your little pies are lovely but cream first all the way. You also get a glass of Perrier – Jouet to sip on throughout and choice of tea or coffee to be served when you prefer.

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As an extra bit of excitement, every bill comes with your own butterfly to be opened to reveal if you win a prize! The tea is running until November so head over and treat yo’ self.

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Cotham Arms – Review

Nothing warms my cockles like a new pub opening, somewhere new to quaff ale, tell jokes, eat crisps and stop people trying to hang out in my house and drink my booze.

The Cotham Arms is on the previous Chin Chin! site, which according to the history poster on the wall, has been a pub in one form or another since 1861 and sits next to Beerd on St Michaels Hill. Now I do have to get the elephant in room out of the way, despite appearances this isn’t an independent inn but owned by Enterprise (now known as El Group) which some may find surprising.

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When you walk into The Cotham Arms you are met with a very cozy feeling place with what I assumed to be original features including a fire place, stain glass windows, good solid furniture and beautifully tiled flooring. It is hard to brush away the cynicism, Enterprise has evidently spent a good chunk of money making the place fit in with the local surroundings, and they have done it well, but I wanted to be up front about it.

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Anyway, we were greeted by some of the nicest staff I have ever met (seriously) seated and left with a menu. My partner and I are both craft beer wankers and were a bit disappointed to see nothing local on the bar or in the fridge but there is plenty to choose from so we settled with a pint of Lagunitas IPA each. We did note the gin list, a brave move with The Green Man down the road but a nice angle none the less.

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The one thing this pub doesn’t do, is a full, hot menu. Instead, they are keeping it really simple with meat, bread and cheese. Some would say…Ok I would say that is pretty much all you need to live on but that’s also why I fear sitting in unfamiliar chairs. The menu has four choices, a meat board, a cheese board, a cold sandwich or a toasted one. Brilliant. To start we went for a mixed board which features cheddar, brie and stilton cheeses, charcuterie from David Richards of Capreolus fine foods. We also had chutney, olives, pickled onions and thick slices of bread and butter. The board was very generous and made a great starter or snack for two people. The meat was amazing and we both still think fondly about the cured mutton, we must find some for our own fridge. The cheese suffered from being left in the fridge, with the brie and stilton not being very soft to slice but the cheddar was fantastic. Perhaps some “cheese training” might be good here?

We couldn’t come to a pub priding itself on toasties without trying one so I opted for us to share a Cotham Arms “Rueben” and the “Mother of all Bacon Sandwiches”. I asked what made the bacon sandwich so good and was told “it just has a lot of bacon in it”…well you can’t argue with that logic.

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The Rueben, isn’t a Rueben, if you want one of those got to Pickled Brisket, but it is good. Pastrami and brie are stuffed betwixt two slices of bread, topped with pickles and *something* that gave it a kick, if I had to guess I would have said horseradish and put in the paninni machine. Definitely a decent toastie. The bacon sandwich I would describe more of a 2nd cousin of Bacon Sandwiches. It was good, it was crispy, it came with a choice of sauce on the side for dipping but it was about as big as you would make at home, I was expecting something a bit more extravagant but as bacon sarnies go, it was good. No rubbery bacon or stringy fat to contend with here. Both sandwiches for the price (£5) and size could benefit with a bag of crisps on the side as standard if you hadn’t munched your way through a sharing board before hand.

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I took my pudding to go, a rather indulgent salted caramel brownie, a choice I had to make from a delicious list of cakes and sweets, which was taken home and eaten in front of Bake Off. I wish I knew where these were from and I hope they are buying local. Same for the bread, chutneys and pickles.

All in all the pub ticked the boxes I look for, warm, cosy, nice stuff on the walls, gorgeous staff, something drinkable and a pile of games. The food isn’t gormet but it’s good enough, no faffing about with people wanting to order big plates of over indulgent food, no going into a pub you like only to be standing around whilst diners take over the tables (I think I moan about this a lot). I hope Enterprise get something local on the bar and make use of the great staples we have on offer in the city but all in all, I would go back.

Find The Cotham arms on FB here and Twitter here, they’re a friendly bunch!

 

 

 

 

New Cafe”The Epiphany” Opening At The RWA

Bristol’s top barista Alex Zeal will open a modern, chic café at The Royal West of England
Academy (RWA) this August. With the help of Bristol’s queen of cakes, Bethen Reid, the new café will serve locally-sourced treats and award-winning coffee in the stunning surroundings of Bristol’s oldest gallery.
The Epiphany at the RWA is the brainchild of Alex – a finalist in the Bristol heats of the UK Barista Championships – and Bethen, who creates deliciously decadent bakes for top eateries like Boston Tea Party and The Vintage Birdcage Cakery. The new café has found its home in Bristol’s RWA – a spectacular Grade II* listed building in the heart of the city.

The fuss-free, contemporary menu will focus on high-quality, locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients, treated with love and care. Lunches will include a selection of frittatas, tarts, wraps and salads, plus warm, Hobbs bread sandwiches, generously filled with top ingredients like Portobello mushroom, mozzarella, red onion pickle and olive tapenad.

Every Sunday, the menu will feature a star ingredient that is grown or produced by one of the pair’s many foodie friends. The tarte tatin, made from rhubarb grown on an allotment in Easton, and the soup that uses courgettes and peas from a garden in the Forest of Dean, illustrates Alex and Bethen’s commitment to local fare, cooked with care.

As home to Bristol’s premier barista, The Epiphany at the RWA will specialise in world-class coffee. Alex is so dedicated to the perfect cup, he will be sourcing beans in Peru shortly before the opening event. The café will also serve a hand-picked selection of wines, locally-brewed artisan beers and Canton teas.

To launch this exciting venture, Alex and Bethen invite guests to a special evening party, where there will be a chance to sample the menu and enjoy an espresso martini on the RWA balcony. If you would like to go, head to their event page 

The event will include free access to the RWA’s current exhibition Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768-2017.

Set against the backdrop of the RWA’s breath-taking marble interior, The Epiphany will suit fans of great art and gorgeous food alike.

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Bristol Pudding Society  @ Bristol Spirit

I’ve been a wee bit quiet on here of late. Mostly due to starting my new job in March which is taking up all of my time during the day. I’m not complaining about that AT ALL, my old job had me sitting around doing nothing for a lot of my time. Despite people assuming that would be a dream come true, it was dull.

Apart from starting a new job and basically being a boss at it, I also started a Pudding Society . I’d seen them mentioned in the past, there’s a hotel that runs one that myself and a friend wanted to go to, but without a car and a bag full of cash, it quickly became one of those “one-day” things. I lamented the lack of pudding dedicated evening in Bristol on Twitter and was told to do it myself. So I did.

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Luckily a good friend owns a lovely bar called Bristol Spirit with a brand new kitchen and gorgeous seating area. I floated the idea past her and she was game for a challenge. Location sorted I just needed a menu and some customers.

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I decided to go down the “homely Sunday Lunch” pudding route as I am a home cook, not a chef. Bristol Pudding Society  is not the place to go to if you want a twiddly sugar work encasing a delicate something or other, I want this to be somewhere you eat to excess and don’t mind I have the serving aptitude of a dinner lady.

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I completed my first “service” on Sunday and it went brilliantly. It couldn’t have gone better and everyone left feeling stuffed and a wee bit drunk in some cases after pairing their courses with Bristol Spirit’s fine cocktails.

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Sam and I have agreed to make this a regular thing and I am now a resident pop-up, words I never thought I would say. I am finally starting something that’s my very own that people actually want to come to!

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If you would like tickets, head over to my website and click the link. At the time of writing, we still have space for 9th July and 6th August. Magic!

I also had a lot of people ask me how to make the Beetroot Ketchup, obviously, they need to read my blog more often!

Massive thank you to friends that let me use their pics for my promotion, I forgot to take any.

 

Soughdough Hot Cross Buns, I make the mistakes so you don’t have to. 

As there is nothing more dull than relentless positivity, I thought I’d share with you a recent failure of mine. Of course, like most of my failures the dreaded sourdough was involved, but this time I was at least prepared for the experiment to go a bit wrong.

I’ve been nailing traditional white, sourdough loaves recently with weekly practice and,  with it being Easter I thought I’d set myself a challenge.  I would eschew the traditional use of fast action yeast and play the long game.

My first clue that this might be a bit of a nightmare was a lack of clear and concise instructions by anyone I knew or had heard of. I messaged Duncan from Thoughtful Bread and asked him for guidance on ratios of starter to flour. He’d never tried it before but gave his best guess and I went on my merry way. I Googled around, found one recipe here that most people used a base and tweaked so it seemed like a good start.

I thought I’d start the first 12hr prove using wholemeal bread flour… Because I’d forgotten to go and buy more white flour. You can see why this may have started off poorly. After mixing the starter with milk and flour it was left overnight to do it’s thing. Next morning I had something that looked like it had grown, so far so good. I mixed with my 2 year old Christmas mincemeat, more flour and butter and left to rise again.

It didn’t seem to be doing much, I wacked it in the Kitchen Aid to knead as the dough was so wet, I was warned by the recipe it would be so soldiered on. I was then instructed to “form” the dough balls. I did my best but the structural integrity of the buns had been compromised, no amount of adding flour was helping. I left them to rise but noted they seemed to just be getting wider.

Coming back to them they were resembling more hockey pucks than fluffy buns but I persevered, diligently adding my crosses as tradition dictates and bunging them in the oven.

Well after half an hour at 210 as instructed I had gooey, flat discs. After another 15 minutes I had burnt, gooey, flat discs. Brilliant.

I glazed them anyway in case, miraculously it made a difference (it didn’t) and took a deep sigh. When cutting them open,  they were still wet but I tried a piece and actually, taste wise, not bad. The boozy fruit and the tangy dough worked well together, it’s just a shame overall they ended up… Well… Crap.

You live and learn!


Thanks Chris for summing up the whole experience in one picture

Upside down, pineapple “your grandmother made this” cake

Yesterday I bought a pineapple to take to a barbecue. Last year i discovered that putting pineapple on the grill after you cooked up some pork belly was bloody delicious and was looking forward to repeat performance. However, by the time i got around to it the coals were cold and i wasn’t that hungry anyway so back home it came. Sat with a hangover i knew i wouldn’t use the pineapple for anything, i don’t like it in sweet and sour dishes, i wouldn’t use it on pizza and my life is too short to be making smoothies.

Of course the only option left was an upside down cake, something i could attempt to do in a hungover state (though if you are worried that you shouldn’t be drunk in charge of a knife use tinned fruit). A splash of rum will sort out your hair of the dog requirements.

You may want to practice at making the pineapple lovely and neat, i however have no flare for presentation as the pictures will tell. I joke that friends would enjoy my food even more if i blindfolded them.

You will need

butter (for greasing)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 a ripe pineabpple, sliced into rings and cored or 6 slices canned pineapple in juice (plus 3 tablespoons of the juice)
11 glace cherries (approx. 75g total weight)
100 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100 grams soft butter
100 grams caster sugar
2 large eggs
Splash of dark rum if wanted

– Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter and flour a tin (go for a pie dish or similar)
– Slice the pineapple (or fish out the rings) and put into a pain with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar. Cook and caramelise the rings and add a splash of rum if you want to.
– Once browned, place the rings in the bottom of the tin and fill the rings with the glace cherries and then pop them in the spaces in between.
– Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, butter, caster sugar and eggs into a food processor and run the motor until the batter is smooth or pop it all in a bowl and mix (i never bother with creaming the butter and sugar first etc, as far as i can tell it makes no difference and the eggs are less likely to curdle).
– Bake for 30 minutes, then ease a spatula around the edge of the tin, place a plate on top and turn it

Look at it in all its pineapply glory
Look at it in all its pineapply glory
Bringing 70's realness
Bringing 70’s realness