Tuesday, 14 November 2017

George's British Kitchen - Leeds

George's British Kitchen - Leeds
A few weeks ago, I made a trip across the border into white rose territory to check out George's British Kitchen in Leeds. I love a little trip out, and found the train journey oddly soothing after a busy few weeks. I was so ready for an afternoon of relaxation, and this was the perfect antidote.

We walked into George's to be met by a chirpy young lady called Erin, who led us through the beautifully seaside themed restaurant to a booth which resembled a beach hut, complete with toy fish knocking about the rafters.

Indecisive as ever, I left my cocktail choices to our waitress Katie, who was given the usual brief of 'sweet and fruity', and over the visit returned the triumphs which were candy floss and parma violet flavoured drinks. I mean, one had candy floss on it...
George's British Kitchen - Leeds
Halloumi skewers - grilled using our charcoal grill and served on a bed of cauliflower and mushroom curry: Big fan of halloumi, with it salty squeakiness. Perfectly light, and paired brilliantly with mushroom curry. Who knew that was a match made in heaven? Ideal if you're planning on stuffing your face with a carb-laden main.
George's British Kitchen - Leeds
Chilli shrimp and mango chutney salad - fresh tomato and lime salsa, topped with baby leaf salad and hot chilli and garlic shrimp. Finished with smooth mango chutney and chopped spring onion and coriander: Tasty little shrimp in a sweet sauce, with a little hint of chilli in each bite. 
George's British Kitchen - Leeds
Chicken in a basket - tender chicken fillets in a light lemon pepper breadcrumb coating, served with sugar grilled smoked bacon, sweetcorn pancakes, campfire coleslaw, twice cooked chips and a spicy mayo dip: This was the kind of comfort food I had in mind. Thick cut sweet potato fries and Southern style chicken. My only feedback was that the bacon needed a little longer to get that crunch which would have been perfect. Minor. 
George's British Kitchen - Leeds
Wild ocean cod -  100% sustainable tender fillet of cod, sourced from the clear waters of the Norwegian and Icelandic seas. Served with twice cooked chips, mushy peas, chunky tartare sauce and a few pickles: You really do miss out on the scale of this fish on this picture. If you enjoy a good fish, you'll be thrilled with this. Simple, yet more than effective.
George's British Kitchen - Leeds
Steamed sticky ginger pudding - steamed sticky ginger sponge pudding filled with vanilla mousse, served with a jug of vanilla custard and homemade golden syrup ice cream: The wind was blowing, drizzle was in the air, and I was feeling a little mard. Ginger pudding cures all of these afflictions, it appears. Also, please note the addition of ice cream and custard. Not one or the other... both. 
George's British Kitchen - Leeds
Doughnuts - fresh homemade doughnuts with a chocolate dipping sauce, raspberry dipping sauce and candyfloss on the side: When I was little, trips to the seaside were incomplete if we didn't get a bag of doughnuts on the sea front, fresh from a fryer, filled with dark (probably filthy) oil, which seeped through the paper bag and scalded your hands. These doughnuts were far too superior! I wasn't complaining though. Again, candyfloss!
George's British Kitchen - Leeds
Go to George's for a chilled afternoon with lovely food and a great choice of cocktails. I adored the decor, and genuinely enjoyed the company of the front of house staff. Thanks for a lovely afternoon!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Sarson's Factory Tour

Sarson's Factory Tour
I consider myself to be very lucky. I've been writing about my food related adventures for about six years now, and it's led me down some pretty interesting paths; granted this usually involves gluttony and cocktails, but every so often, something really interesting crops up.

Imagine the scene... I'm sat eating my lunch in the cafe at work, when up pops an invite to the Sarson's vinegar factory. It's like a school trip, only I'm an adult! After resisting the urge to pack my walkman and a mini bottle of Tizer, I arrived at Piccadilly to be greeted by the lovely organisers and my fellow bloggers, who to my surprise were from all over the country.

As our taxi pulled up outside the Mizkan factory, the sun shone and the air was full of vinegar. Really, the factory literally emits vinegar from its pores. We were offered tea, biscuits, and the most fetching attire I have seen in some time. Kitted out in steel toe-capped boots, a lab coat, hair net, goggles and ear defenders, we were off to have a nosey round. I was even given a rather chic pair of rubber gloves because of my red gel talons - I've never felt more alive.

So you ready for a little vinegar lesson? Great!

So who the devil are Sarson's?
First thing's first, they are a lovely bunch of people. Everyone we passed seemed to greet each other, and everyone knew each other's names. We were treated to a short history lesson by Caroline, who's genuine enthusiasm was rather infectious. She told us the tale of Thomas Sarson, who set up his vinegar making business back in 1794. George III was on the throne and Nelson lost his eye that summer (I added these facts in. No-one is as geeky as me). They still make Sarson's vinegar in the same way today - that's over 200 years!

How do you make vinegar?Sarson's Factory Tour
Malt: Sarson's vinegar is made with malted barley. Those of you who have been on brewery tours will see little difference at this stage. The starch in the grain is exposed by cracking it. This is called grist.
Sarson's Factory TourMash: Just like brewing beer, the grist is then added to hot water called 'mash', and added to the mash tun. Nature works her magic using the enzymes in the barley, and that starch is turned into sweet water, or 'wort'. This room smells like heaven. It's like Ovaltine pillow spray.
Sarson's Factory TourSarson's Factory TourSarson's Factory TourFermentation: Everything gets cooled, and the yeast is added. If you were making beer, you would throw the hops in at this stage, but things are slightly different for vinegar. It takes six days for the yeast to convert the sugary wort to alcohol, and the yeast is then separated from the 'bright wort'.
Sarson's Factory TourAcetifier: This is the real craftsmanship, which cannot be replaced by an automated system. Good bacteria called acetobacter in these giant wooden vats known as Acetifiers. They're a bit special. More modern stainless steel versions are never going to give the depth of flavour that these do. They're full of wood wool (looks a bit like sawdust), which turns the alcohol into acetic acid, which gives us that vinegary taste we are all familiar with. This process takes seven days, whereas most competitors complete the process in 24 hours.Sarson's Factory TourBottling: The vinegar is then standardised to 5% acid (the British standard) and pasteurised before being bottled and boxed.Sarson's Factory TourFor more info, see https://www.sarsons.co.uk/how-vinegar-is-made.
I had a great day with Sarson's and my blogging amigos. It really made me think about other big brands, and question the whole 'are supermarket own brands' really given the same care and attention? Maybe not all brands are produced with the same love as Sarson's, but I know I'll never buy another brand after meeting the people who work there.

Thank you for allowing us into your little world, it was a pleasure.
Sarson's Factory Tour

Monday, 23 October 2017

Maxibon Bundt Cake

Maxibon Bundt Cake
I'd never even heard of Maxibon bars. You all know I love a bundt shaped challenge, but when my friend Wayne suggested an ice cream bar themed birthday cake, I had to do a bit of research. This involved a trip to my local Tesco, purchasing a box, and eating two in my lab coat (read pyjamas) to check for flavour, consistency and aesthetic. I saw my challenge, and accepted it.

It comprises of rich vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips, half drenched in chocolate with hazelnuts, the other half with Maxibon biscuits. Easy gig. The melted ice cream bar will help transform your cake from a vanilla sponge, to actually tasting like the genuine article, so don't skip this. This is bundt alchemy, bakers. Embrace it, Snape would be so proud.

Needless to say that this cake got a bit of a laugh as well as destroyed. Mission accomplished!

Ingredients:
  • 225g butter
  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 350g Homepride plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200ml vanilla yoghurt 
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 200g chocolate chips
  • Two Maxibon bars, biscuits removed and ice cream melted
To decorate:
  • 1 jar chocolate spread (not Hazelnut)
  • 100g finely chopped hazelnuts
  • Biscuits from your melted Maxibons (I used more...)

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to gas 3/160 c
  2. Prepare a regular sized bundt tin - 2.4l, 10 cup, 10 inch with Cake Release spray/melted butter, and dust with flour. 
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  5. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the yoghurt and vanilla extract into a jug.
  7. Sift in a third of the flour mix followed by half the yoghurt. Repeat this until everything is combined.
  8. Tip in the chocolate chips which are now covered in flour, which will stop them from sinking like stones!
  9. Stir in the melted Maxibons.
  10. Give everything a quick mix on a low speed for about 10 seconds.
  11. Tip your batter into your prepared bundt tin.
  12. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  13. Leave the cake to cool for ten minutes before removing from the tin.
  14. When the cake is fully cool, melt your chocolate spread in the microwave until it's quite runny.
  15. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.
  16. Tip over the cake.
  17. Decorate with your Maxibon biscuits, and bits of the box if you so please!
Bloggers: Please respect the fact I am sharing my own ideas and basic recipe. Blood, sweat and many tears have gone into getting this right, so you may enjoy a perfect bundt. If you wish to re-blog a recipe from these variations, please credit my blog and link to this original post rather than pasting the recipe on your own page.
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