Category Archives: Cake

Bandstand Tea Room – Leamington Spa

Myself and Mr Gourmand recently got caught out by a freak thunderstorm close to the Pump Room gardens in Leamington Spa and decided to jump into the first coffee shop we good which was the Bandstand Tea Room. As you can tell from the photographs, The Bandstand Tea Room, named after the band stand across the road, is a quaint little place with decorative wallpaper and delicate ornamental features fitting for a fine tea room in York or Edinburgh.

interior

There was a great selection of teas all housed in pretty silver jars, I particularly liked the shabby chic cabinet that housed them.

cakes

There wasn’t huge variety of cakes, but the ones on offer were home made, nicely presented and looked delicious.

chocolate cake

I went for the Chocolate Cake as recommended by the waitress which was an incredibly indulgent, rich, chocolaty delight, that truth be told I struggled to finish – at this point Mr Gourmand jumped in to finish what I plainly couldn’t! The ratio of buttercream to cake was good, this is something that some places get so wrong but on this occasion it was perfect.

latte

Mr Gourmand went for a Latte to wash down the chocolate cake he stole from me and his own cake.  Next to the latte you can just see a glimpse of the Victoria Sponge Mr Gourmand ordered. He does order some odd cakes, but I think he chose wisely this time as it was beautifully light and delicious! although it looks like the cake was filled with just a bit too much buttercream it was actually a perfect amount and very light and airy.

arthur coffee

Look at Baby Gourmand’s face, even he was glad to get out of the cold rain!

Overall we had nice cake and coffee which is all you can ask for, however it was a little pricey and certainly fell into one of the most expensive coffee shops in Leamington, but for those special occasions when you really fancy the best cake, I would go again. The chocolate cake was a bit special!

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Wholegrain Goodness Challenge

If you follow me on Instagram you will have noticed that over the past couple of weeks a large number of my photos were based on wholegrain meals this was because I had undertaken a challenge set by Mumsnet and Wholegrain Goodness to raise awareness of the benefits of wholegrains as part of a healthy balanced diet, and to inspire and motivate people to eat them.

As a mother it’s very important to me that Lucie is eating balanced meals at home, she no longer takes a packed lunch as all of her friends eat from the canteen at school meaning that 5 days a week I have no idea what she is consuming (I imagine it is not healthy food).

Trying to get Lucie to eat breakfast is a difficult task as she is always rushing however if I offered her a piece of chocolate cake or a biscuit she would probably snap my hand off!  David always eats breakfast which is usually cereal or toast and during my pregnancy I have made a conscious effort to eat breakfast (usually I would skip it).

We always sit down together for our evening meal which except for the odd occasion is always prepared by myself from scratch so I know exactly what we are eating, I know from reading my blog most readers would think I eat out an awful lot but in all honesty I don’t and when I do it is usually on a weekend after 5 days of healthy eating.

Here’s what wholegraingoodness.com say about the challenge:

“Most of us know it’s important to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day, but what many of us don’t know is that we should be eating more wholegrain to keep us healthy too. Nutritionists around the world encourage eating at least three servings of wholegrain a day. But despite the nutritional benefits, national surveys show that 95% of UK adults fail to reach three servings a day. In fact, on average, most of us don’t even eat that in a week, and almost a third of us don’t eat any at all. To help us inspire mums to get more nutritious wholegrain into their family’s diet, take part in our wholegrain challenge”

The challenge lasted for two weeks, from Mon 21 Jan to 3 Feb 2013 and  was to include wholegrain in one meal or snack for the family per day for two weeks, using a variety of wholegrain foods available.  My first step was to find out what a wholegrain actually was so I headed to the Wholegrain Goodness website to get some information.

wholegrain

I headed to Tesco with my £10 gift voucher a picked up a variety of wholegrain foods, I already had some wholemeal flour, wholemeal self raising flour, wholegrain crackers, oats and noodles in the cupboard.

My next plan was to try and do some meal planning, David and myself had already agreed that we would have porridge for breakfast most mornings and I would bake a loaf of wholemeal bread every couple of days rather than buying shop bought bread for snacks and sandwiches.

Breakfast

porridge

banana porride

For 10 of the 14 days I ate porridge for breakfast, I found it to be very filling, adding different fruits each morning ensured that I didn’t get bored of eating it.  My favourite Porridge was with some chopped banana.  Even when I woke her up earlier than normal I couldn’t get Lucie to eat a bowl before school as she always said she wasn’t hungry.

Making my own wholemeal bread was simple to make by hand and tasted so much better than store bought.  On the days that I didn’t eat porridge for breakfast I had toast made out of my bread.  I managed to get Lucie to have toast on 6 out of the 14 mornings although on 4 occasions she took it into the car to eat rather than eat it in the house.

Snacks

chocolate cakecake

Whilst looking through the cupboards to see what wholegrains I already had, I came across a bag of Allinson wholemeal self raising flour so decided to make a chocolate cake to have as one of our snacks.  After posting my photographs on instagram I had a number of requests for the recipe which I will be posting to my blog in the future.  The cake didn’t rise as much as it would have done if made with a white flour, it was a little dense and only stayed moist for 2 days before cream was required but I was very happy about how this turned out.

Using the same recipe for the cake I made a batch of Chocolate cupcakes which also served as snacks.

flapjack

Flapjacks were the next snack for me to make, I actually made a few different variety of flapjack including plain, raisin and dried apricot.  The three tray bakes of flapjacks made enough to last the full 14 days.

popcorn

Using a non stick pan with lid I successfully managed to make popcorn using no oil, butter or sugar.  Instead of Lucie grabbing a chocolate bar, biscuit or crisps after school she had a small bowl of popcorn as a snack.  I was very surprised at how easy this was to make, it did need to be watched like a hawk in the pan as a couple of seconds too long made the popcorn burn, I found it easier to do small batches at a time.

Lunch

For 11 out of the 14 days I had either wholegrain crackers, wholegrain bread or cous cous with my lunch, David joined me on 8 of these days.  Lucie had sandwiches made with wholegrain bread on 4 of these days.

Main Courses

Incorporating a wholegrain into our evening meal was so much easier than I had initialy thought it would be.  Lucie did complain on a couple of occasions that she didn’t like the brown rice however this did not stop her clearing her plate, not one of us could tell the difference between wholegrain pasta and white pasta and my pizza made with wholegrain flour went down just as well as the ones I make using white flour.

pasta

Lucie’s favourite dish was this Whole meal pasta with broccoli, green beans and asparagus with a touch of cream cheese, she loved it so much it was requested on 3 evenings!

chicken curry

We had this Chicken, Sweet potato and chickpea curry with brown rice on two different evenings, I found the brown rice gave the dish a nicer texture and I really liked the nutty flavour.

spag bol

I made Spaghetti bolognese twice using quorn mince and brown spaghetti, this was a big hit in the house so I then made it a third evening using brown pasta baked in the oven with mozzarella cheese.

cous cous

One evening we had homemade spicy fishcakes with giant vegetable cous cous and salad

curry

We had a Chicken and Veg curry with mixed brown rice one evening which was delicious.

pizza

On two occasions I experimented with a wholemeal flour and polenta pizza base which went down very well with the family, I served this with cous cous salad just to add an extra bit of wholemeal into the diet.

After eating wholegrains for 14 days I have decided to switch my white rice and pasta for a wholegrain variety and to incorporate more cous cous into our diets.  I will try to use wholegrain flour whenever possible and will continue to make my own bread and snacks.

Do you eat wholegrains as part of your diet? After reading this do you think you may be persuaded to switch?
I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network, a group of parent bloggers picked by Mumsnet to review products, services, events and brands. I have not been paid for this post though I did receive a £10 supermarket voucher. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity

 

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Gourmet Garden Blog Cook Off

I recently received a Gourmet Garden product pack so I could enter the Blog Off / Cook Off competition which challenges the blogging community to show off their culinary skills and create fabulous dishes with Gourmet Garden. Even the most mundane every day recipe can be livened up with herbs and spices. If my dish is good enough I might make it through to the London cook off final in early 2013 for a chance to win a trip to Australia and £3,000 fee to become a 12-month ambassador for Gourmet Garden.

Rather than just cook one dish I decided to cook a 3 course meal for my family and let them decide which recipe used the herbs and spices the best and this would be my competition entry.

My first dish was Thai Prawn Salad, this dish used the Thai spices and Coriander provided. (Keep a look out for this recipe appearing on my blog)

Thai Prawn Salad

My second dish and entry to the competition is a Chilli Chicken Pizza, this dish used the Chilli, Garlic and Basil provided.

Chilli chicken Pizza

Chilli

I used 3 Teaspoons of the Gourmet Garden Chilli to marinade my Chicken

Chilli Chicken

The Chicken was marinated for 6 hours before use so it could soak in the flavour and heat from the Chilli.

Basil_Garlic

Two teaspoons of Garlic and One teaspoon of Basil was added to 200g of Tinned Tomato to make the pizza base sauce

Pizza Sauce

Pizza Dough

Ingredients to Make my Pizza Dough:

175g Plain Flour

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon dried yeast

1/2 teaspoon caster sugar

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

Method:

Preheat oven to 220°C and preheat baking sheet.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the centre of the mixture, add the olive oil and pour in 120 ml of warm water. Mix to a dough using a wooden spoon and finish off by using your hands. Transfer the dough to a flat work surface.

Knead the dough for 3 minutes and until it is springy and elastic. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough until it looks as though it has doubled in size.

Place the dough on to a work surface that has been sprinkled generously with flour to prevent it from sticking. Knock all the air out of the dough and knead it for a couple of seconds to begin shaping it into a ball. Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll the dough out to a shape that fits your baking tray.

Using a thick oven glove, very carefully lift the baking sheet out of the oven and oil with a pastry brush. Lift the pizza base on to the baking sheet and cover with your topping

Bake the pizza on a high shelf for 10-12 minutes.

I used a light covering of my Tomato sauce, Chilli Chicken, Red Peppers, Mushrooms and Mozzarella Cheese and finished off with a sprinkle of Oregano.

My final dish which came in close second to the Pizza was a Sticky Toffee Pudding cake, this dish used the ginger provided.  (Keep a look out for this recipe appearing on my blog)

Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake

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Guy Fawkes

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

This evening we will be celebrating Guy Fawkes night, Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when Guy Fawkes was  arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure. Cited Source

Before we visit our local Bonfire and Fireworks display I decided to make a Bonfire Night inspired menu for dinner.

The main course is Guinea Fowl coated in Gunpowder hot garlic pickle by Carved Angel (Full review to follow, I served this with a simple bistro salad, everyone was fighting over the blackened flavoured skin.

Dessert was a Campfire Cupcake which was adapted from a recipe I found in a magazine a couple of years ago.

Ingredients:

140g light muscovado sugar

50g cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)

100g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

3 eggs

120ml vegetable oil

3 tbsp milk

70g milk chocolate chips

Mini marshmallows to cover cakes

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C.

In a mixing bowl add the sugar, flour, cocoa and baking powder.

Whisk in the eggs, vegetable oil and milk  until well combined.

Add the milk chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.

Place large cupcake cases into a 12-hole bun tin (I use a muffin tin).

Divide the mixture between the cases, then bake for 18 – 20 mins until cooked through.

Once cooled arrange the marshmallows over the tops of the cakes (I find it easier to mix a little bit of icing to ensure the marshmallows stick to the cakes.

Heat the grill to medium and pop the cakes under it until the marshmallows are lightly browned.

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Halloween Treats Part 2

Double,double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and couldron bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,

 Witch’s mummy, maw and gulf

Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d in the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat; and slips of yew

If you read part one of Halloween treats you will have found my recipes for Lemon Puffs and Beef Goulash.  Today’s blog post features sweet treats and a super way to use up any leftover pumpkin.

My Chocolate fudge cupcakes never seem to last long in my house, the cake is light and fluffy and the topping is dark, dense and indulgent.  I usually get around 24 cupcakes or 12 muffin sized cakes from the following recipe.

200g unsalted butter (100g for the topping)

2 large eggs

250ml buttermilk

250g caster sugar

280g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

350g dark chocolate, melted (250g for the topping)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°c and line your cupcake or muffin trays, I used pirate cases on this occasion for a halloween look.

Combine  softened butter, eggs, sugar and 100g of the melted chocolate in a large bowl or if you’re lazy like me pop it into the food mixer.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder into the mixture.

Slowly Pour the buttermilk into the mixture and beat for 1-2 minutes.

I find that using an ice-cream scoop makes life so much easier when spooning the batter into the trays. Bake for 16-18 minutes.

To make the topping:

Put the butter and the chopped chocolate into a bowl over a pan of water and melt slowly until combined and glossy.

Spoon the topping onto the cupcakes and decorate

175g melted butter

140g clear honey

1 large egg 

250g raw peeled pumpkin

Handful of toasted almonds

100g light muscovado sugar

350g self-raising flour

1tbsp ground ginger

2 tbsp demerara sugar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the base and two long sides of a 1.5kg loaf tin .

Mix the butter, honey and egg and stir in the pumpkin. Mix in the sugar, flour, almonds and ginger.

Pour into the prepared tin and sprinkle the top with the demerara sugar. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack. Serve sliced and buttered. A perfect way to use up the pumpkin after carving.

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Spring Event at Newcastle Malmaison

Back in April I was kindly invited to the Newcastle Malmaison to attend a Spring Event, the event was a thank you to business customers who use the hotel on a regular basis, it’s a great way for the hotel to make customers aware of what they can offer and give other business in the area a chance to show their wares so to speak.

I did write a post on my Lifestyle Blog but wanted to save the food and drink for a separate post as I feel it deserves at least that.

The Malmaison do everything to a high standard especially their cocktails which are spectacular, I’ve had many different cocktails now in the Newcastle Mal and each one has been delicious.

The bar staff at Newcastle Mal were kind enough to make my friend Katie a non alcoholic cocktail which looked and tasted just as delicious as the alcoholic cocktails.

The seating areas at the Newcastle Mal are designed in such a way that makes them perfect for both a secluded private chat or a large group gathering.  The seats are all extremely comfortable and the views over the River Tyne are beautiful.

As far as Buffets go the Newcastle Mal did an excellent job at keeping the guests happy, choices ranged from mini cheeseburgers to finger sandwiches (crusts removed)

There was a wide range of desserts on offer, unfortunately I got swayed by the make up and only managed to take one picture.  The brownies and flapjacks pictured were to die for!

As always the wine was flowing and I imagine there was some very sore heads the next morning (Not mine may I add)

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Graze – Royal Quays

Graze is a fabulous little cafe situated within the Land Rover shop at Royal Quays.  Royal Quays is perfect for bargain hunters and hosts a number of discounted shops such as Clarks, M&S, Thorntons, Gap, Next and many more.  International readers may be more familiar with the DFDS International passenger terminal at North Shields which is a stones throw away from Royal Quays.  If you ever visit the North Shields area I suggest you pay Graze a visit!

The Graze cow is probably the first thing you will notice whilst walking through Royal Quays, both children and adults were seen using the cow as a photography prop, children were feeding the cow grass and babies were being sat on the cows back.

At the time of writing the cow will be fenced into a barrier, unfortunately the sheer amount of traffic going up to the novelty cow has resulted in foot imprints in the grass, sitting your child on top of a fake cow is also not a very good idea people, the cow may be there to look pretty but let’s not be silly, you wouldn’t sit on a real cow so lets respect the graze cow and view from afar!

The lights are probably one of my favourite features, sleek and stylish and also looking like an upside down feeding trough which keeps in with the ‘Graze’ theme.

The Steel counter is something I really love, I’ve seen something similar in an art gallery cafe where the steel had actually been left outside to rush the rusting process and it looked amazing.

I’m sure you will agree that the steel and glass counters work really well together.

The tables are chic and the chairs surprisingly comfortable

Ok enough with the decor let’s get on with the good stuff!

The glass display cabinets are a great idea, I don’t know anyone who would be able to resist something to eat after looking into them!

Graze offers a good selection of Hot and Cold food, cakes and pastries.  Prices are very reasonable and the portion sizes are good.

Both Myself and Mr Gourmand had an americano coffee, surprisingly many places get coffee so wrong, it’s either too strong, not strong enough too hot or not hot enough.  The coffee from Graze was both hot and flavoursome.

The lemon sponge slice was moist and tangy with hidden jam inside making this a delicious treat.  So often sponge cakes are dry and have either too much icing or not enough, the ratio here was perfect.

We decided to share a Chilli Beef Panini, I’m glad we opted to share as this was a monster, filled to the brim with minced beef , mexican beans and cheese, hot and delicious, more than enough for two people.

The Frangipane tart was delicious, I think the picture speaks for itself to be honest, it tasted as good as it looked!

Next time you’re in the North Shields / Royal Quays area I urge you to try Graze!

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Cafe 1901 Jesmond

Cafe 1901 is situated in the old church hall on St Georges terrace in Jesmond.  I must admit I wasn’t very pleased when this cafe first opened as the youth club my daughter used to attend was closed down because of the cafe, I guess money is more important than community for the owners of the church? Anyway I digress, that was a few years ago and I’ve visited the cafe a few times with my mother and always been on the fence about the place so I decided to take Mr Gourmand for a coffee.

The cafe has huge high ceilings which are very impressive, I do apologise for the darkness of the photographs, the hall has very low lighting and it’s really difficult to get a good photo.  This kind of place always makes me feel really tired, they could do with some natural light lightbulbs!

There is a large range of drinks, cakes, hot and cold food on offer but if I’m being honest I think it’s rather expensive!

Mr Gourmand ordered a flat white coffee (£2.00) an odd choice for him as the Filter Coffee is usually the coffee of choice for the Gourmands!

I had my usual filter coffee (£2.00) it was nice coffee but nothing special as coffee goes.

I decided to have a slice of coffee and walnut cake (£3.00)  unfortunately the sponge was rather dry, I would have liked to have more buttercream sandwiching the cake together rather than the inch of icing on the top (yes an inch, I measured it).

Mr Gourmand had a cheese scone (£2.20) I can never understand why cafes serve microwaved warm cheese scones, I’d rather have mine cold as the microwave makes a scone taste like cardboard which this one did!

On this occasion I wasn’t impressed with Cafe 1901, there are many better places out there to go for a quick cup of coffee and a cake!

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Coffee and Cake Aussie Style

During Mr Gourmands visit to Australia many coffee and cake shops were visited in both Sydney and Melbourne

He has allowed me to share with you his favourites both from Melbourne.

White chocolate Coffee and Dark Chocolate Coffee (you don’t get that in Newcastle!)

Lemon Curd Cake and Raspberry Cheesecake

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