Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Hinds Head, Bray

All I really need to tell you is, go to The Hinds Head. Go go go. Especially if, like me, you can't afford The Fat Duck. We dined from the A La Carte but the Set Menu is good value at £27.50 for 3 courses.
Now here are some pictures that will make you hungry.

'Hash of Snails' - garlic pan fried snails on sourdough with pistachio puree and shaved fennel.
Snails are surprisingly like mushrooms, except a bit more meaty. I was not freaked out about eating them, which was good.

Shaved lemon salad with goats curd and salad leaves and walnuts. Mr Giraffe's starter, the really thinly sliced lemons were excellent and the goats curd so good -  I need to find out where to buy goats curd.
My main course; Shepherds Pie with Sweetbreads
totally amazing, so meaty and the mash with the crispy top was beautiful.
Bubble and squeak cake with mushroom parfait, crispy quails egg and leek & potato sauce. Despite there being a lot of meaty dishes vegetarians are well catered for, this was lovely and featured the same kind of crisp crust as the shepherds pie.

Triple cooked chips , obviously we had to order these.
My lemon tart, I love lemon tarts that come with crispy creme brulee like tops, it came with a syrupy hazelnut syrup, nuts go well with lemon surprisingly.
Quaking Pudding (c 1700.) with shaved apple. This may sound odd but it tasted really traditional flavours and quite rustic. It came with a little bit of paper explaining what the history of the pudding was too.

We really enjoyed our meal at the Hinds Head. Definitely a place that will always impress you. I'd love to go back. Any place that can serve snails like that wins with me. The menu felt quite similar to Dinner, which we are yet to try. I think the famous meat fruit features at the Hinds Head sometimes too.

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Sunday, 23 October 2011

Apple & Maple Syrup Flapjacks

I have a slightly traumatic history when it comes to flapjacks. Ok maybe not traumatic, but unsuccessful certainly. Every time I've made them they've stuck hard to the pan, requiring a chisel to get them out and extra strong teeth to eat them. I think I even chucked a baking tin in the bin once because they stuck so hard.

The other thing about flapjacks and me is the time I worked for an oat seed company, every year at a big event we did there would be trays and trays of flapjacks to give away to visitors. Being as we had to be at the show at about 7am every day and there was little time for eating most of us survived on the flapjacks, and by day three I didn't want to see them ever again til the next year.

Anyway, a craving Mr. Giraffe had today and a rush of confidence in my baking skills lead me to make these. I used the recipe from The Pink Whisk (fancy iPad to view them is optional but useful when you are in the kitchen!) but subbed the golden syrup for maple syrup, plus I added another tablespoon of it in for extra flavour. As part of my extra flavouring a lovely local apple was grated into the mixture along with some cinnamon.

Apple & Maple Syrup Flapjacks
adapted from The Pink Whisk

160g butter
115g sugar
2 tbsp of maple syrup
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
240g of porridge oats
1 apple, grated

Preheat your oven to 160c fan / 180c / gas mark 4

Melt the sugar, butter and maple syrup in a saucepan over a low heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat and add in the other ingredients and stir well.

Pour into a greased and lined brownie tin.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then cut into pieces. Then leave to cool in the tin before removing the pieces.

Ruth points out that the mix will look quite pale, and although you don't get the nice golden brown-ness, it does mean that the mix doesn't set rock hard in the pan like my past attempts! This way you'll get lovely soft flapjacks.

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Monday, 17 October 2011

All Change

You are hopefully looking here because you've been redirected from my old blog, I have been chopping and changing things around (this is my excuse for the lack of recipes lately) and I now have my own website dedicated to jewellery and this blog which is all about food. Hurrah.

I would be really grateful if you could re-subscribe (is that a word?) to this blog so you don't miss out on any posts, there will be new ones with new recipes soon. All my old posts are on this blog now so you can still find all the recipes and general waffling from the past few years.

Thank you!
(p.s. I'd love to know what you think of my new jewellery website).

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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Little Chef, Kettering

I think that has to be the least glamorous sounding blog title I've ever written.

But some of you may know that Little Chef has been undergoing something of  makeover. I watched Heston's Little Chef back in 2009 and from the looks of it there didn't seem to be much hope for Little Chef changing beyond the few restaurants they made over, but now there are 10 new Little Chefs with the updated menu and new diner style decor.

We visited the Kettering West branch just off the A14 on our way down to Shropshire a couple of weeks ago, something I've been meaning to do after Ino at Kitchen 22 blogged about it. The interior is fantastic, booths and diner style furniture with the famous 'blue sky' on the ceiling. Service was fast and friendly and the menu had so much choice. Breakfasts, little light bites, proper mains, puds and a great selection of tea and coffee with reasonable prices.

We were just stopping for a light lunch so I ordered the starter scampi, Mr Giraffe had a mushroom and pepper cheese toastie and we also got a side of chips to share. Oh my were we glad we got chips. If you don't get anything else here, make sure you get the chips. They are the triple cooked affair which Heston Blumenthal has made famous, ridiculously crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. I want to go back now and get some.

The scampi was brilliant, under the batter was proper crayfish instead of the reconstituted seafood mush you normally find, I think this is the first time I've had proper scampi. The toastie was filled with proper mature cheese and a rich mushroom and pepper rattoutile with a tomato base.

This is good food, done properly - everything tastes very fresh and it is clearly made onsite. It is very simple to get food right if you make it right. Well done Little Chef!

For 2 light lunches, a coke, cappucino and a side of chips it was £17, probably more than you'd spend on a motorway lunch but much nicer than anything else you can get off the A14.

If you love chips, go. I think that is my main message.

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Friday, 7 October 2011

A weekend away in a nice little place

Last weekend we stayed at the beautiful Brook Farm B&B in Berrington, just on the border of Shropshire and Worcestershire. It was so lovely, the B&B was so homely and the owner Sarah was so friendly, accommodating and and excellent cook!
We ate yummy breakfasts, walked around the beautiful cottage garden, played with the cats, patted the donkeys and ate in the many lovely pubs in the area. Just what we needed.

I didn't take any pictures of our meals out but I recommend the Rose & Crown in Tenbury Wells, The Queens pub in Ludlow and Chang Thai in Ludlow. The food market on a Saturday in Ludlow is so yummy, and they have a craft section too. And then the market is opened up on a Sunday for antiques and flea, so many interesting finds!

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