Friday, 28 August 2015

Yard and Coop, Manchester

Yard and Coop, Manchester
Yard and Coop was a bit of a last minute decision, but we needed brain food. I had to go anyway, because their strawberry milkshake was on my 'to do' list for the post Charlie and I are doing on Manchester's best milkshakes. It was practically essential... 

It had a pleasant vibe about the place, they were playing half decent music, and the front of house folks were friendly types. I'd clocked an odd looking bottle of blue stuff, which I was later informed was blue Curaçao by my learned amigo. Although there isn't a huge selection of cocktails, the two I had were pretty, pretty good. 

Juice Springsteen - vodka and blue Curaçao with lemon juice and cherry bitters topped with apple juice: Yes, I did buy it because of the name, what of it? This was a bit like sherbet in a bottle, and made me feel a bit giddy. Good stuff!

Paulaner Heffe-Weiss Dunkel (5.3% ABV): A decent selection with a tick in most beer boxes. This was a pale wheat beer which wasn't overly strong for a craft type. This was later followed by a Kona Firerock (5.9% ABV) IPA.

Strawberry milkshake: I'm not giving too much away here because there is a list pending. I shall say this though; it was awesome. 
Yard and Coop - Drinks
Jimi Hendrix - El Jimador Blanco tequila, Hendrick's gin and Fevertree Elderflower garnished with cucumber and watermelon (sans cucumber): Cucumber is the devil's fruit, so I asked them to lose it. This drink was huge! I loved the delicate elderflower flavour and chunks of watermelon.
Yard and Coop - Drinks
I warn you, this is what happens when your friends love sides as much as you do. I can't decide whether that look on our waiter's face was saying 'bravo!' or 'you horrendous greedy pigs'. I can't say that I consider either to be an insult...

Buttermilk fried chicken - boneless thigh, Yard and Coop original dusting with Bourbon BBQ sauce: Thigh was definitely the bet decision. More flavour and beautifully tender. I love the idea of mixing and matching the cut, dusting and sauces though. Have a different combo every time you go!
Yard and Coop - Chicken
The Bee’s Knees wings - cayenne pepper, lime and honey, served with blue cheese sauce: These are pretty big wings! I was a proper lightweight and only tried a bit of that delicious sauce, but I was assured that they were 'bloody lovely'.
Yard and Coop - Wings
But what if I want wings!?
Massive Cock Burger - full buttermilk chicken breast, chorizo, salty battered jalapeños, lettuce, tomato, mayo and siracha chilli sauce in a brioche bun, topped with dill pickle and served with chips: Slightly prone to exaggeration... I wouldn't say it was massive, but then again I'm used to huge burgers like Jon's Steeplejack at The Farmer's Arms. It was pretty darn good though., and the chips are no afterthought either; beautifully crisp and perfect dipping material for the magnificent sauces.
Yard and Coop - Burger
Gravy and chip shop curry: So to the sauces. I was hoping that the gravy might be the (dare I say it) KFC type which is pale and viscous and spicy and tremendous in every way. Sue my ass. I like it. Anyway, it was not, but was still so good we practically dealt with every drop. Chip shop curry... genius idea. I'd like to take this home and eat a vat of it in my pyjamas with a bowl of chips. Dirty bird.
Yard and Coop - Sauces
Onion petals with chorizo - onion pieces in crispy tempura batter with crispy chorizo sausage, horseradish and beetroot salsa: I was blinded by the word chorizo and didn't read the rest of it like a buffoon! Petals, perfect. Chorizo, champion. Beet-rot?! Mortal enemy number two right there. I accidentally ate it too. I'm sure it's wonderful for those beet loving perverts amongst you, but I'll be sticking to the petals on their own in future. Close one that.
Yard and Coop - Onion petals
Battered dill pickles in tempura batter: Oh yes, these were more like it. Tangy jalapenos deep fried in batter? Yes please. Although they had a little warmth, they weren't so hot hat you couldn't taste the loveliness within.
Yard and Coop - Jalapenos
Thai street salad - red cabbage, cauliflower, carrot and red chilli: Gee whizz, this had a kick to it! A lovely change to coleslaw, this salad was sweet, crunchy and had a considerable amount of fire in its belly!
Yard and Coop - Thai Salad
Yard and Coop wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I imagined something a little more fast-foody. What we actually got was a friendly place which was comfortable to sit in, with options stretching beyond chicken, chips and spicy beans. The menu has a fantastic range of sides and accompaniments, which is perfect for lovers of 'bits'. It's the perfect place to go with your pals to have a little chat over a few drinks, with some rather nice food.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Summer Fruit Salad Bundt Cake

Summer Fruit Salad Bundt Cake
Last weekend I went to my friend Jayne's surprise baby shower. Her mum made the most magnificent fruit salad I have ever seen! It was in this colossal punchbowl and was probably enough to feed 50 rather than 15. I'm sure it was self filling when someone removed a portion too...

Anyway, it was my friend Lucie's birthday party yesterday afternoon, and initial plans for a barbecue were binned off after the clean-up operation took all day last time.  She decided afternoon tea was a more sensible option, which wouldn't be complete without a bundt. She asked for 'something fruity', so I took inspiration from Kathy's impressive fruit salad.

The cake itself is full of chunky tropical yoghurt and lime zest, which is complemented by a rather zingy icing. Making it with just lime juice gives it quite a kick, so if you're not fond of limes you could use lemon juice or water instead.

Ingredients:
  • 225g butter
  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 250ml tropical fruit yoghurt (I used mango, lychee and lime from Tesco as it's nice and chunky)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 500g icing sugar
  • Lime juice (I used bottled)
  • Yellow food colouring gel
  • Strawberries and blueberries to decorate

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to gas 3/160 c
  2. Prepare a regular sized bundt tin - 2.4l, 10 cup, 10 inch with 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. Add the extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and ginger.
  7. Pour the yoghurt into a jug, and add the lime zest and juice.
  8. Sift in a third of the flour mix followed by half the yoghurt. Repeat this until everything is combined. 
  9. Give everything a quick mix on a low speed for about 10 seconds.
  10. Pour the mix into your prepared tin. 
  11. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  12. Leave the cake to cool for ten minutes before removing from the tin.
  13. When completely cool, mix the icing sugar with enough lime juice to make a thick yet runny icing. I also added a tiny bit of yellow food colouring gel. 
  14. Tip it over your cake.
  15. Decorate with strawberries and blueberries.
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.

Matcha Green Tea Review

Matcha Green Tea
A couple of weeks ago, The Tea Makers of London asked me to review their Matcha green tea. I don't do many product reviews anymore, but I'd had such good results with it in the past, that I thought it was worth exploring once again. It's one of those things that you buy, rave about its benefits, only to forget to order another pot and become unintentionally estranged. I've already promised myself this will not happen again.

Matcha tea is a bright green powder which smells like tea, but you don't drink it in the usual way. It comes from Japan, and is and extremely high quality version of the stuff you get from the supermarket in teabags. It's a bit like the real gold version of costume jewellery. These leaves are grown away from direct sunlight, which slows down their growth and packs them full of super amino acids; the little wonders which help us to repair our bodies, possibly stop us from building too much fat, and boost our immune systems. It also has caffeine to perk you up, antioxidants to banish those ageing free-radicals and reportedly also boosts your metabolism.

These vibrant green leaves are ground to a fine powder which can then be mixed with liquid to make a very different brew to that which you are used to. I tend to have it whisked into apple juice as the flavours just seem to complement each other. It might be healthy and very green, but it doesn't have to taste like hell on Earth!
Matcha Green Tea
I've totally rekindled my love for Matcha green tea. I'm much brighter in the mornings (I get up at 5:45am so that's pretty good going...), and I don't get that mid afternoon lull like I used to. My colleagues must have noticed a difference, as two of them have ordered some within the first week of me using it!

It's £19.95 for 40g which seems quite expensive, but you only use half a teaspoon per day, so it lasts for quite a while. It's worth it not to be quite so grumpy in the morning...
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