Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Bagels for Brunch

I rarely buy a loaf of bread anymore as I prefer to make my own in my bread maker. I wanted to try something different as I had been making loafs of bread and cob loafs for the last couple of months and decided on trying my hand at some bagels. I love bagels but I hadn't tried making them before so I had a look at a handful of recipes I found online and cobbled my own recipe together using them as a starting point.

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'Everything' Bagels
Makes 6 - 8 

For the bagels:
7g easy bake yeast (I use Allinson)
450g strong bread flour
2 tbsp sugar (I used golden caster sugar)
2 tbsp salt
300ml warm water

For the bagel topping:
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp poppy seeds

For the 'bagel bath':
A large deep frying pan
Enough boiling water to fill your pan
2 tbsp sugar

I used my bread maker for this. Put the yeast, bread flour, sugar, salt and warm water into your bread maker and set it off on the dough setting. Alternatively, do it the old fashioned way by mixing everything together in a bowl, knead for 10 mins and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour for the dough to rise. 

When the dough is ready pre-heat your oven to 220c (200c for a fan assisted oven).

When your dough has risen, knock out the air and divide into 6 or 8 equal parts depending on how big you want them. Make each piece into a flattish ball and poke a hole in the middle. At this point you might want to stretch out the hole a little more to allow space for the bagels to expand in the oven but this is your preference. 

Now its time for the 'bagel bath'! I used a large deep frying pan so I was able to put half a batch of bagels in at a time and yet still leaving room to flip them. Fill your deep frying pan with boiling water and add 2 tbsp of sugar to the water. Slip the bagels into the water 3 or 4 at a time and boil for 1 - 2 minutes turning them in the water until they have puffed up slightly and a skin has formed. Put aside for the next step.

On a plate mix together the onion powder, garlic powder and poppy seeds. Take each bagel and dip the tops of them into the mixture to create your 'everything bagel' topping. 

Bake on baking tray lined with parchment paper for a maximum of 25 minutes or until brown and crisp. The bases should sound hollow when tapped. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.



Monday, 16 March 2015

Hillarys Crafternoon

In my friend circle we do try and get involved with a bit of crafting.  There's always a bit of a running joke that my friend Danni is way too impatient and ends up messing up and that our other friend Katrina watches me closely, learns what not to do from Danni's mistakes and then asks me to finish it off.  I usually am quite successful at crafting but it's never completely perfect! When I saw an invite to join Hillary's Blinds for an afternoon of tea of crafting with the Crafty Hen's it was right up my alley and I invited Katrina along for the ride!

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Hillary's have been hosting blog events around the country making various craft items with their new range of blind material (You can find more information about the craft roadshow here). The Crafty Hens and Hillary's Blinds hosted our event at the Jazz Cafe near Central.  I hadn't been in the Jazz Cafe since it was actually the Jazz Cafe and you needed to knock on the door to get in! If the owner didn't like the look of you.. you weren't getting in! It's all changed now and seems to fit into the area well.

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After having a much needed coffee the hen's briefed us on what we would be doing and showed us step by step how we would create a stuffed ornamental bird and a book cover. The book cover was easy to do and made even easier as the material was already cut to size so all we had to do was a few folds, a couple of stitches and ta da it was done.  The bird was a little more complicated to do and took patience to make sure the stitches were close enough together to make sure that the stuffing didn't bust out the sides.

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If you want to see more check out #hillaryscrafternoon on Instagram and Twitter

Bryden x

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Eating Out: Miller and Carter, Newcastle

The good people at Miller and Carter kindly invited us along to their newly opened Newcastle branch to check out their menu. We were unable to make it to the opening night so we were very excited to see this drop into our inbox.

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Miller and Carter which are known for their steaks offer premium-grade British beef which has been carefully reared on sustainable farms. They claim that all their beef can be traced back to the field where it came from which is pretty impressive, if only I had the guts to ask which field my dinner came from! That being said Miller and Carter don't just offer steaks and have a vast menu that includes a carefully curated selection of starters, burgers, fish, chicken and vegetarian options. Steaks can be upgraded which various options that include lobster mac and cheese and lobster tails. They also offer their version of a 'surf and turf' which in this situation doesn't apply to the dish itself but it is actually an add on of lobster thermidor and king prawns so that anyone is able to turn their choice of steak into a surf and turf if they desired.

Claire and I decided to share a couple of starters and decided on the pork belly and the black pearl scallops. No complaints here and both dishes were incredibly well presented and as equally delicious.

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Pork Belly
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Black Pearl Scallops
For our steaks we both chose a a T-bone steak which was a cut we had never had before. The menu promised this to be one of the more flavourful steaks due the meat being cooked on the bone. Claire chose to have hers with chumichurri while I opted for the classic bearnaise sauce. All steaks come served with parsley butter, seasoned fries, a slice of their classic onion loaf, a balsamic glazed tomato and a choice of one of their iceberg wedges.

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The onion loaf was great. I can only describe as a slice of onion bhaji without the spices? I hadn't had anything like it before. I think if you visit Miller and Carter and you don't get a steak to order it as a side to have a taste, you won't regret it!

We couldn't just have our steaks the way they came and upgraded our steaks.  I chose a lobster tail and Claire went for the surf and turf. Both were great. The lobster tail wasn't huge but I wasn't expecting it to be for the price and it was a lovely accompaniment to my meal.

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"Surf and Turf"
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Lobster Tail
The meal was absolutely brilliant and I would definitely go again. I have and will continue to recommend Miller and Carter friends and family. It was actually only last week where I overheard a colleague trying to decide where to go in town for steak to which I demanded she went to Miller and Carter and I am pleased to say she did go and throughly enjoyed her meal.

So, what do you think?! I'm dying to go again.


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Eating out: Browns, Newcastle.

Claire and I were kindly invited to sample some of the food on offer at Browns Newcastle. Both of us hadn't been before so we jumped at the chance to take a look.

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Arriving at the restaurant it was clear that Browns is very popular and there were lots of different groups of people there - Ladies nights out, couples and families. The menu offers a great choice of dishes including set menus for large parties, a lunch time fixed price menu, breakfast and sunday options.

We started our meal off with a glass of fizz and decided on our starters. Claire and I usually get a couple we both want to try and share them so this time we went for the boxed baked camembert and for the pate.
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We both found the sourdough soldiers which accompanied the camembert to be a little dry but the addition of the gooey cheese made it seem not so much of a big deal and it certainly didn't spoil our enjoyment. The pate was a small but satisfying portion and which didn't overwhelm you before your meal. The pate itself was very rich and packed a punch. Brilliant!
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In true Trebles and a Mixer style Claire decided to go for the wild boar and chorizo burger for her main and I chose the fillet of beef which came with a truffled mash (it looks like this has now been taken off the menu and has been replaced with a their version of fillet steak and chips which sounds delightful). The fillet itself was very tender, as expected, and cooked to perfection, the words melt in the mouth spring to mind. I would order their fillet steak again for sure. The fillet was one of the more pricier options that Browns offer but it didn't disappoint and I would be prepared to shell out the extra pounds to order this.  Claire's wild boar and chorizo burger was stacked high with manchego cheese, onion rings and pico de gallo salsa served with the obligatory fries and coleslaw. I had a big bit of it myself and the burger was flavourful and was not as spicy as I would have expected from the description. We also ordered a side cabbage and bacon that also looks like it has been taken off the menu which is a shame because it was absolutely wonderful.

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For dessert we went for the Browns Eton Mess and Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake.  It appears that Brown's must offer a seasonal Eton Mess as the version on the menu at the moment is a different version to what we ate.  At the moment they're offering a cherry, almond, lemon curd and dark chocolate version that sounds delicious.

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All in all, we would definitely go back and try lunch time menu. I think Browns would be perfect for one of those 'meet the parents' type of situation. There's something for everyone on the menu!

Have you been to Browns before? What do you think?


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

REVIEW: Burger Stop, Newcastle Quayside.

Some friends and I recently visited Burger Stop on the quayside. I had heard mixed reviews and was a little apprehensive at first but I decided to try out the place for myself. Looking back I remember there was a lot of build up to this new burger place opening. I remember being really excited for it to open but because it seemed to take ages to open I forgot all about it once their doors had opened! My friends had been before and really enjoyed it. One of them even went on to say that it was the best burger they had ever had.

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The first thing that stood out to me when we walked in was the decor. I thought it was great. Really clean, cool and simple. Nothing can be branded as trying to hard in here and everything seems really effortlessly cool. The menu is simple and offers some great choices of burger. The chicken burger really stood out to me but I decided on 'The Big Cheese' in the end. I wanted to see how their cheeseburgers compared to the Fat Hippo.

We all got a burger each and orders two fries, slaw and brioche-crumbed chicken wings to share. The chicken wings were absolutely amazing. Thick, crunchy and juicy in the middle. They were truly the best thing off the menu by far. I would return purely to eat those wings again. 

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The burgers were good. Personally I thought the patty was too thick but this is my personal taste. My friends like a thick patty and thought they were great! I usually like to see a thinner patty yet still pink in the middle. The meat itself was great. Lovely flavour - I can't fault that at all. One thing we all didn't seem to like was the sheer amount of oil which had soaked the bottom of the bun but this could easily be rectified if the chef drained some of the oil onto some kitchen paper before serving. It would make the world of difference. 

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As you can see the burgers don't come on a plate and they're served wrapped in paper. In hindsight could this have been why the bottom was soggy? Hmm... I would've preferred our burgers/sides to come on a small side plates/bowls. I know they have them because the chicken wings came on one! Perhaps I will ask for one when I visit again. I'm also slightly worried about the waste of using paper wrapping and pots all the time. I'm hoping that the papers and paper pots will be recycled but I can't see any mention of this on their site.

Would I go again? Yes, I want to try the chicken burger after having those gorgeous wings.

Comment below if you've been before. I'm interested in hearing peoples thoughts. 

Bryden x

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sloppy Joes Deli - Grainger Market, Newcastle.

Claire and I went along to the grand opening of Sloppy Joe's Deli in the Grainger Market recently to have a little look about and see what culinary delights they had to offer. Sloppy's offer a great selection of sandwiches, salads and snacks. Claire was particularly excited to see a packet of cheeseburger crisps and was literally lost for words when she saw them.

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Garlic and Breaded Chicken
The owner John explained to us that he was keen for the Grainger Market to be a stop for great food, where someone would drop in for lunch and would be a destination for fantastic quality food. He explained he has plans to convert another unit near Sloppy's into another eatery which would bring the ever popular street food feel to the strip.

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Smokey Joe Panini
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We sampled a few of the fillings that Sloppy's had to offer and each one of them were great. My personal favourite was the Smokey Joe panini. Claire particularly enjoyed the garlic chicken. The bread was great as well and is supplied by the wonderful French Oven (owned by his daughter!). Sloppy's have a few offers on at the moment so if you're in the area head over and pick up leaflet to take advantage of these. You won't be disappointed.

Bryden x

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Great Geordie Burger Quest Part 2: Fat Hippo Underground.

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Since my first Geordie Burger Quest, I’ve visited quite a few burger toting establishments and I’m now running up a backlog of burger related blog posts. My next visit was a highly anticipated one; The Fat Hippo Underground was probably one of the most recommended to me, via Twitter. Was I in for a treat or a complete anti-climax?

I’d heard the Fat Hippo’s latest venture, a city centre restaurant, tends to get extremely busy, so I booked a table for a Tuesday evening. The restaurant itself is situated next to The Theatre Royal and is entered by stairs taking you into the subterranean burger restaurant.

To be honest, FHU annoyed me before I even got the chance to eat anything. I’d booked a table, four days previous. Despite this, I was told abruptly by our server, as soon as we were seated, that we could only have the table for an hour. Now, if we’d walked in off the street, that would be fair enough, but I’d booked in advance and wasn’t told any of this at the time of booking.

Despite having a time limit for our meal, we choose some starters to begin. I opted for the deep fried pickles, which were encased in a crispy batter and came with a garlic mayo. They were nice. ‘Nice’ is such a crap description, but that’s how they were. They didn’t blow me away, but then I’ve had Meat Liquor’s version and there’s no competition really. The pickles were also really greasy and due to our server not supplying us with any cutlery or napkins, I ended up wiping my hands on my jeans. Lush.

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I’d tried to extract some information from our server about the burgers whilst ordering, but any questions were answered with singular words and a ‘can’t be arsed’ gaze. It didn’t seem that I was going to get any help with ordering, so I figured that the ‘Fat Hippo Burger’ would be a good choice. The burger features a double 4oz patty topped with smoky bacon, chorizo, cheese, onion rings and ‘Fat Hippo sauce’.

Our burgers arrived quickly and were piled high onto serving trays, accompanied by hand cut chips, lettuce, tomato and pickles. I’d also added some ‘Problem Child’ hot sauce to my order, to spice things up. So the big question is- Did the Fat Hippo Underground live up for my high expectations? Sadly, in a word- no.

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The burger looked impressive, towering on the tray, stacked high with toppings. The chorizo was tasty, however the cheese was a tad on the rubbery side and the bacon was too fatty. I had to remove the onion rings from the burger, they were far too greasy and I couldn’t fit the burger into my mouth with them in (I’ve got a big mouth, but it’s not that big). The combination of the burger and the grease from the toppings was too much for the bun (which was a decent effort, but too soft) and I ended up with most of the contents slopping back onto the tray.

The burger patty itself was a pretty decent bit of beef, which was nicely seasoned. Though despite being asked my cooking preference, my burger wasn’t served pink, not even close. This was probably down to the fact it would be pretty difficult to cook a burger that thin, medium. One single, thicker burger, instead of two might have been a better option. Overall the burger had a lot going on, maybe too much for me to handle, but elements of it were really tasty.

The burger was accompanied by hand cut chips, which I left pretty much untouched, I ate two of them. They were horrible, big chunks of watery, tasteless potato. They were too chunky; there was no crisp to the outside and no fluffiness on the inside. They were just really, really poor. I probably should have mentioned my disappointment to the servers, who did four half arsed check backs during our main course, but by that point I think I’d just given up.

Fat Hippo Underground has all of the elements, to become my favourite burger joint, but it just didn’t happen. Having said that, I would visit again,for some reason I feel like they deserve a second shot. I’ll also be paying the Jesmond branch a visit on my Geordie Burger Quest, to see if the original is better. Unfortunately Fat Hippo Underground wasn’t what I’d hoped for, so I’m going to give them a 6.5/10 and cross my fingers for better things next time round.