Procrastination!

The end is in sight now for my post-grad. It should have finished in July but for reasons too boring to explain, we’re still here at start of October slogging away and procrastinating.

Anyway, there are a tonne of things I haven’t done and can’t wait to get done once the 8th October deadline has passed. So in a spectacular display of procrastination, here’s my post-uni to do list!

Write

This blog has been gathering dust and I am looking forward to finding new and inspiring things to share with you.

I also love to write lists- I am a little OCD. If it is written on a list I can chill out, know it will get done.  I’m itching to get stated on my Christmas gift list and a things that need doing around the house before Christmas list.

DSC_0020 lower

Meal planning

One big writing project is to pull together a reference list of all my favourite recipes and where they are (book, filed, online). I’ve been getting into a rut making dull evening meals so I need to go back through all of my books and cuttings and online saves and make a reference list to inspire me each week when I am menu planning.

This may also inspire me to join in meal planning Monday again when I’m not too ashamed of what I am putting on the table!

 

Read

Anything which isn’t a uni book! I got some food books for my birthday which I need to get my teeth into and I am desperate to find some decent fiction (recommendations welcome. I love ghosts but open to most things!).

 

Cook

One of my first jobs is Christmas cake- my hubby has been asking about it with concern because I am usually on the case in September! Am thinking of doing a smaller round one this year which I will decorate and two or three loaf ones for general scoffing. In terms of decoration I am loving this pin- seems totally accessible for my rubbish artistic skills!

I’m also going to spend a weekend batch cooking for the freezer. I find this so therapeutic and I love indulging in a whole weekend in the kitchen. I don’t want to live on freezer meals seven days a week but it is good to know that a couple of times a week we can come in from work and not spend ages cooking. I might chuck a couple of things like ginger cake in there too for impromptu midweek treats!

Slow Cooker Stew Base

Garden

I didn’t grow veg this year to concentrate on uni, but I still need to clear out the greenhouse, cut back the rhubarb and weed the veg patch before it gets too cold.

I’m going to give all my herbs a good cutting and dry some mint, tarragon and other bits to see me through.

 

Move

Having had a cold for two weeks has made me realise I need to get my health in to order. I’m not sure yet if I can bear to join a gym but I have a work mate who I can cajole into walking / Zumba with me hopefully!

So there we have it. I have put off writing for a few moments longer by doing this post and now I have a weird urge to do some tidying before I carry on…no willpower at all! See you on the other side of the 8th! Xxxx

Nutella Cheesecake

When the theme for August’s Clandestine Cake Club in Bolton was announced as The Nutcracker (ie contains nuts), my chocoholic brain immediately tuned to thoughts of Nutella.

Nutella Cheesecake

Initially I thought about enrobing my favourite Nigel Slater chocolate hazelnut cake in Nutella buttercream, but it seems like sacrilege to such a lovely cake. Then I started to think about cheesecake. There are a lot of Nutella cheesecake recipes on the internet and all quite similar: lots of extra sugar (Nigella for example), cup measurements (grrr, how messy must it be to measure Nutella into a measuring cup and then scrape out again?) and/ or with something American called whipped topping which seems to be frozen ready whipped cream with added sugar (like this beauty). So I decided to ditch the cups and weird frozen cream and make it ‘proper’ with grams and real cream!

None of the recipes I saw used chocolate Philadelphia cheese which seemed like a no brainer, so I decided to give it a go. It’s a funny ingredient. I had never tried it before. It’s both tangy and chocolaty. I shouldn’t like it, but I kinda do!

Most of the recipes had more cream cheese in than I used, but this is the size of tub the chocolate Philly comes in so I decided not to be wasteful by using just a bit of another tub. I think this is why it takes so long to set. It’s less cheesecake, more nutella cake with cheese!

My first attempt had a ginger nut base, the second was bourbon creams. Both worked- the latter is idea for chocolate purists but the ginger helps cut through the intense chocolate hit of the filling. Follow your heart and use your biccie of choice.

Nutella Cheesecake

A work in progress- this is what it looks like before it sets!

It most definitely didn’t need any extra sugar and I used what I think was the minimum about of butter in the base. Of course when you look at what’s in the filling, a few grams of butter isn’t really going to make a difference, but every little helps!

It’s not for the feint hearted. Even the most hardened cake clubbers only managed a slither. It is perfect served with a glass of milk.

Nutella No Cook Cheesecake

Will easily serve 10, less is definitely more

Nutella Cheesecake

  •  300g biscuits
  • 40g melted butter
  • 150ml double cream, softly whipped
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract (optional – or try hazelnut liqueur – I intend to do this next time!)
  • 1 x 160g tub chocolate Philadelphia
  • 300g Nutella
  • 30g chopped hazelnuts

Topping

  • Chopped hazelnuts
  • Chocolate sprinkles

What You Do

Nutella Cheesecake. Up close and personal.

Getting up close and personal with the cheesecake!

  • Line a loose base flan tin with cling film – make sure there is plenty hanging over the sides. I also put a circle of grease-proof paper in the bottom. I find it easier to get out later on
  •  Put your biscuits in a food processor and blitz to crumbs – I find it easier to do it in two batches
    • If you’ve no processor, but them in a ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin
  • Gently melt the butter and pour into the crumbs- I do this in the processor with the motor running
  • Press the crumbs into the tin, making sure you go up the sides as well. Pop in the fridge and chill for a couple of hours
  •  Whip your cream
  • Mix together the Nutella, Philadelphia, vanilla and hazelnuts
  • When combined, gently mix in the double cream to loosen the mix
  • Dollop it onto the base, and carefully smooth it over, making sure you get it right up to the edge
  • Leave in the fridge to set. This doesn’t set hard like some mixes so give I find it needs a good 24 hrs to be able to cut without making a pigs ear of it!

Serve in slithers with a cold glass of milk and a bill of good health!

Nutella Cheesecake

 

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Why I Love The Great Taste Awards

There are few things in life which make me go into total geek out mode, but the annual results of the Great Taste Awards is one of them!

I started this blog because I was very passionate about the food being produced around me. Over the years, my focus has widened to include all aspects of food, but I want to refocus for a moment on the best this region has to offer, so the GTAs (as they shall be known from here on in!) are a great way to do that.

For those who don’t know, the GTAs are a national award scheme for artisan and fine food producers. Anyone can enter (you pay to enter but there is no guarantee of an award), there is blind tasting by panels of experts and your product can win 0, 1, 2 or three stars.

To have a GTA sticker on your product gives it great shelf presence and some brilliant PR opportunities so it’s no wonder that you see both new and established producers in the running.

The awards are announced in stages. This week, the stars were announced. In September, to coincide with many producers being in London for the Speciality Food Fair, the big awards are announced. That’s when the supreme champion is crowned. I was lucky to go one year to the event in Fortum and Mason as part of my job, and it was bloody brilliant!

Mr Vikkis Products // GoodEggFoodie

So this week, the stars were announced and many regional companies who’s products I know and love got starred so I thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase some of them and what I love about them.

Mr Vikkis

Winning products: this year the company got an amazing three two-star awards and twelve one-star ones too many to list so see them here.

Any regular reader may be forgiven for thinking that I have shares in Mr Vikkis-  they are by far my favourite spicy condiment maker. All my favourites are in there – tamarind chipotle, tomato and nigella, chilli jam and chipotle sauce. There was also a Bangkok sriracha which I’ve never seen before so will be looking for or ordering online.

Based in Penrith, Mr V is actually a chilli-head called Adam who makes the most amazing mixes of flavour. They sell online, in stores like Harvey Nichols and at markets and festivals. I beseech you to seek them out.

Visit the website.

 

Kenyon Hall Farm

Winning product: Seville Orange Marmalade (2 stars), Courgette Pickle (1 star)

This is the most local winner to me- just five minutes drive up the road! Kenyon Hall Farm has been going for years- all local kids know it as the strawberry picking farm and as I have grown up it is now more my thing for it’s annual asparagus crop and chichi farm shop.. Not too shabby for a small batch product made on the farm! I can personally attest for the whisky marmalade – it was a winner in a chocolate orange cake I made!

Visit the website.

 

Fiddler’s Lancashire Crisps

Winning products: Lancashire Cheese and Onion (2 stars), Simply Spuds (2 stars), Sea Salt (1 star).

I could eat Fiddler’s Lancashire Sauce flavour until I’m sick. Seriously, they are ridiculous- where were they in the winning list eh? The salt and pepper and salt and vinegar (made with Elsey’s vinegar from this ‘ere Wigan) are also of note. Available in the cafe where I work which is a danger, and many, many outlets across the north west.

Visit the website.

 

More? The Artisan Bakery

Bread at More? The Artisan Bakery. Image courtesy of the company

More? The Artisan Bakery

Winning products: Eight two and one stars- see here for the list.

If I lived nearer to Kendal where More is based, I swear I would eat nothing but Patrick Moore’s amazing bread and brownies. This is the bread that all other bread aspires to be. More is a past supreme champion with their amazing muddees- an out of this world brownie. This year I Am very interested in the winning sourdough croissant- I need to get my hands on one! If you do see them, I strongly recommend the brownies, the treacle bread, sourdough miche and the rye. Stock up, put it in your freezer and discover what great real bread tastes like.

(Oh and if you’re reading this Patrick, I am still waiting on your cook book!)

Visit the website.

 

Port of Lancaster Smokehouse (POLSCO)

Winning products: smoked yellowfin tuna (2 stars), Beetroot gravalax (1 star)

You can’t fail to notice POLSCO at a farmers market or food festival, as they will often have kippers hung in a smoker for all to see. I personally love the smoked haddock and the smoked duck breast which is perfect for a filling salad. If you love kippers, breakfast is sorted!

Visit the website.

Port of Lancaster Smokehouse kippers

Other north west winners of note

Cumbria always produces a swathe of winners:

  • Hawkshead Relish were awarded for two boozy themed products – bloody mary chutney and daiquiri jam
  • Country Puddings make delicious hand made puds and custard (I love the custard) and this year won for summer pudding and tangy lemon pud
  • Thoroughly nice chap Geoff at Friendly Food and Drink won two awards for chocolate orange curd and Cumberland pork
  • Pie-masters Burbush’s of Penrith won with a spiced pork pie and some cured ox tongue
  • Cake makers Country Fare and Ginger Bakers but had their excellent products recognised as well

Elsewhere in the region it is worth seeking out winning products from Southport Seafoods (potted shrimps), Galore Foods (marmalade) and Delamere Dairy (goats cheese and goats butter).

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the region’s winners- but it is those I know and I have enjoyed so am happy to share with you. Check out the full list of winner on the GTA website and get discovering some great producers from your neck of the woods.  Even better, let me know which producers on the list you know and love and share your recommendations!

 

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