Tuesday 30 July 2013

Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield

Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield
A couple of weeks ago we ventured over the Pennines to T&Cake's Odd Dinner event. We were staying over, so decided to make the most of the weekend in Yorkshire and hunt down a good roast on the Sunday afternoon. There was only one person to ask for a recommendation; Stephen Jackson from T&Cake.

When he suggested we try Eric's Restaurant, I set about my research. I think it took around two minutes to make a decision. Newcomers to the Good Food Guide in 2013 with a respectable score of two, they have just been voted North East Readers' Restaurant of the Year for 2014. Not bad for a restaurant which has only been open since November 2010.
"Eric Paxman runs the perfect neighbourhood restaurant – one that is effortlessly in tune with its customers. It is a role model of its kind, exuding the right air of informality, and the food, with its stress on quality and good-value meal deals, is contemporary without being a slave to fashion. Well done to Eric’s on being a fantastic winner of our Readers’ Restaurant of the Year award for the North East." Good Food Guide Editor
Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield
On arrival at Eric's, we were greeted by a friendly young chap who showed us to our comfortable booth style seats in the bright restaurant. Warm bread was delivered to keep us going until our starters arrived, they had Magic Rock 'Curious' on tap (brownie points from husband...) and even the soft drinks had personality. I enjoyed a cool glass or Elderflower 'bubbly' later followed by a raspberry lemonade.
Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield - Drinks
We picked from the Sunday lunch menu, which was small but perfectly formed.

Grilled Halloumi
It was still quite warm outside, so I really fancied something fresh. This halloumi dish hit the nail on the head. Strong flavours in the cheese mixed with crisp leaves and tart capers.
Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield - Halloumi
Pig's Cheek
He said it. My husband declared this the best starter he has had so far this year. And yes, you know where we have already been. I sampled a little bit, and I can confirm this was a little bit special. Rich meat with a crisp coating in a meaty sauce. Bravo Eric! I know a certain Mr Hoss who would enjoy this very much indeed.
Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield - Pig Cheek
Roast Rump of 'Bolster Moor Farm' Beef, Roast Potatoes, Creamy Mash, Yorkshire Pudding and Red Wine Jus
Look at it. I'm sure very few words are required here, but please humour me as I enjoy talking about it. This is one of the best Sunday Roasts I have ever eaten. The beef was magnificent, the Yorkshire had crisp edges and a soft, sweet centre, I ate every scrap of that buttery mash, the roasties were seasoned to perfection and that glazed veg was to die for. I will never be the same again.
Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield - Sunday RoastEric's Restaurant, Huddersfield - Sunday Roast
Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield - Sauce
Full to bursting, I was still excited about the desserts. This is the place that makes Bakewell tart ice cream afterall.

Strawberry Sundae
A thick concoction of stewed strawberries, dollops of home made custard and chocolate brownie. Substantial, yet light in texture with a zesty edge. Perfect for the summer season.
Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield - Strawberry Sundae
Mango Parfait
Just as the title suggests, this was perfect. Imagine a Solero lolly, only really really good. Yes, once again I shock you with my refined nature.
Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield - Mango Parfait
Eric's Restaurant, Huddersfield - CoffeeEric appeared for a chat from time to time between courses, and delivered the main event himself. He's an enthusiastic chap with an infectious laugh. What's obvious is that he loves his craft and still relishes in coming out of he kitchen to have a natter with his diners.

A genuine diamond. Eric's is friendly kind of place where food is refined yet maintains elements of the home comforts you crave on a Sunday afternoon. If you find yourself in this neck of the woods, give it a go.

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Sunday 28 July 2013

Elderflower and Gooseberry Bundt Cake

Elderflower and Gooseberry Bundt Cake
I made this cake for our last Clandestine Cake Club. It was a bit of a battle because it turns out glacé icing and hot weather do not mix... I just managed to snap this picture before patches of my icing slid off! 

This was a very popular cake with both my tame tribe of guinea pigs at work, and our cake clubbers. My friend Dave hailed it as 'best bundt yet'. It's a very soft cake with a lovely tang from the gooseberries. Because there's a mix of cake, fruit and icing (all with different flavours), there's a different sensation with every bite. A real summer favourite. 

  • 225g butter
  • 450g golden caster sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 250ml gooseberry yogurt (I used Rachel's)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 4 tbsp elderflower cordial
  • 80g fresh gooseberries - chopped into quarters
  • About 500g icing sugar 
  • More elderflower cordial - enough to make a thick icing

  1. Preheat the oven to gas 3/160 C
  2. Prepare a regular sized bundt tin - 2.4l, 10 cup, 10 inches -  grease and dust with flour. The plainer the better really because of the fruit.
  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 lemon extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  7. Pour the yoghurt into a jug and mix in 4 tbsp of the cordial.
  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 1/3 of the mix into the tin. 
  11. Layer about half of the gooseberries, avoiding the sides.
  12. Put another third of the mix into the tin, and add another layer of gooseberries.
  13. Add the final third of the mix.
  14. Note: They will not stay in a layer effect. This method just ensures even distribution and prevents them all sinking to the bottom. You could use gooseberry jam here instead.
  15. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
  16. Leave the cake in the tin for about 15 minutes in a cool place. This cake is soft because of the fruit, so be careful...
  17. Remove from the tin.

When it's fully cool you can ice it. Mix the icing sugar with enough cordial to make a thick yet runny glaze. Either tip over and allow to dribble down the sides, or cover the entire thing. 
Elderflower and Gooseberry Bundt Cake
Elderflower and Gooseberry Bundt Cake
Enjoy with a nice cup of tea in a relaxed manner...

BloggersPlease respect the fact I am sharing my own ideas and 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. 
Please see my Creative Commons Copyright information for more details. Thank you.

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Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - E I E I O

Clandestine Cake Club Bolton
A few months ago I received a tweet from a lovely lady called Celia who runs the Wellbeing Farm in Edgworth, Bolton. As well as having a beautiful coffee shop, they have a host of wonderful facilities including conference rooms, a cookery school and lots of animals to talk to! I was thrilled when she invited our cake club to use the Wellbeing Farm's facilities. 

Our theme was E I E I O, as I thought it only right to have something fitting to our beautiful rural venue. I asked our bakers to make something including an E, I or O, or they could use the farm itself as inspiration. 

It was a small meeting on Saturday, as many of our cake clubbers were on their jollies - it mattered not and we still had a fantastic meet up with a wonderful array of cakes. Saturday was particularly warm too, which meant cracked tops, sliding icing and even a missing bottom! After collectively giving our OCD the heave-ho, we carried on regardless. I think I snapped most of the cakes before the humidity hit...
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - The Wellbeing Farm
We had ten cakes in total, including:

  • Shaun the Sheep Chocolate Guinness Cake
  • Elderflower and Gooseberry Bundt Cake
  • Oaty Apricot Cake
  • Earl Grey Cake with Rhubarb Glaze
  • Chocolate Oreo Bundt Cake
  • Mooing Milkybar Cake
  • Farmyard Carrot Cake
  • Zesty Orange Cake
  • Happy as a Pig in Chocolate Cake
  • Elderflower Iced Orange Cake

Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - E I E I O
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - E I E I O
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - E I E I O
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - E I E I O
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - E I E I O
We even had a herd of llamas watching us as we ate!
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - E I E I O
The Wellbeing Farm is beautiful venue run by wonderfully enthusiastic people. A huge thank you to Celia and her team for making our day so fantastic. Everyone agreed it's been one of our favourite locations yet! We left them a bit of cake as our way of saying thank you...
Clandestine Cake Club Bolton - E I E I O
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Tuesday 23 July 2013

T&Cake Almondbury - Odd Dinner

T and Cake Almondbury
I am a huge fan of T&Cake in Almondbury, Huddersfield. We had a fantastic lunch the first time we went, and it was even better on our return visit a few months later. Stephen and Tracy Jackson are living their dream. Stephen is an ex-Michelin starred chef and Tracy is a skilled baker; together they are a powerhouse of home comforts.
T and Cake Almondbury
Although Stephen swapped fine dining for cafe culture, he still has a keen interest which sees him sampling culinary delights all over the world. That's what the 'Odd Dinner' was all about. A collection of dishes inspired by his travels, and a chance to get all refined once more.

The first I heard of the 'Odd Dinner' was via Twitter. There was one table left. One. Less than five minutes later we were the proud owners of the last two seats in the house. The dinner itself comprised of ten courses plus wine for £100 per person.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Menu
On arrival, we were greeted with a glass of bubbly which we sipped in the garden whilst we waited for the other guests to arrive. There was a rich cheesy aroma wafting from the kitchen and a rather calm looking chef chatting with diners. We were excited.

Snacks: cheese sablé - tomato tapenade madeleine - local beef, caper and lemon
These little nibbles were some of the best I have tried anywhere. Big flavours, generous portions and pleasing on the eye. My favourite by far was the beef; a stunning combination of sweet and sharp.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Snacks
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Beef, Caper and Lemon
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Tomato with Tapenade Madeleine
'Bread and Butter' - Handmade Bakery sourdough - bayleaf butter
This vibrant green butter was a hit as soon as it was placed on our table. It smelled fantastic. Soft bread served with fresh, fragrant butter. Forever the connoisseur, my husband said that the buttered bread tasted like a good quality sausage roll! I have no idea why this was so, but he was indeed correct... 
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Bread and Butter
Endive - pain d'epice - pink grapefruit - bergamot - mint
This was a crisp, colourful salad with sweet pink grapefruit lurking beneath. When mixed together this was an explosion of clean flavours. The perfect successor to the heavier sourdough dish.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Endive
Cauliflower panna cotta - fried hazelnut crumbs - lovage
As with the cauliflower panna cotta at the Wine Glass, I struggled a bit with this one. I'm not the world's biggest cauliflower fan so I am a little biased. Let me tell you what our fellow diners thought instead. My husband polished the lot, as did everyone on the table next to us. It was a big hit with the cauliflower fans!
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Cauliflower Panna Cotta
Sweetcorn - scallop - Lincolnshire smoked eel - belly pork - 'seaweed'
This wasn't a dish I was particularly looking forward to because I hate scallops. However, I like to give things a go, and I'm so glad I did. This is one of the best dishes I have eaten in some time. It was the perfect balance of texture and flavour, and looked pretty good too. The edges of the scallop were crisp, the sweetcorn tasted like a good cornbread with lashings of butter, the belly pork was flavourful with no hint of grease, but the star of the show was the smoked eel. Brilliant.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Sweetcorn, scallops and eel
Potted wild rabbit - Holmfirth cider jelly - carrot confit - chervil
For those of you who know me well, you will already understand that rabbit is my culinary enemy number one. I have not, and will not ever eat rabbit. I kept them as pets until in my mid twenties, so I cannot stand the thought of eating them. I'll be honest, I made my husband eat this whilst I nipped for a walk. It's that bad. He informs me this was a wonderful dish. Eek. 
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Potted something...
Woodpigeon - potato and shallot tart - toasted croissant velouté - brassicas
This was the 'main' and a bit of a show stopper. Big chunks of pink pigeon served with a crisp tart on shredded brassicas. This was devilishly good. On completion, I feared I would never be able to eat ever again.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Woodpigeon
Gjetost - bitter chocolate - Fleur de sel - olive oil
Gjetost is a whey cheese served warm. It has a rich caramel flavour, and is a little like solid dulce de leche with a savoury undertone. Its sweet edge was brought out by shavings of chocolate, whilst the savoury side was complimented by olive oil. A really unusual concoction which just worked.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Gjetost
'T&Cake' - beurre noisette financier - milk ice cream - Earl Grey custard
Pretty as a picture. I loved this. The beurre noisette is a nod to the frosting on their signature 'Almondberry' cake and of course the tea was in the form of the stunning Earl Grey custard. I would have liked the financier to have echoed the almond from that beautiful cake, but that's just my preference.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - T&Cake
Olive oil jelly - muscovado cornets - truffle - canard
Just when you think you may combust, this appears. A stunning platter of mini sweet treats. My favourite had to be the muscovado cornets. Stick your Cornettos and your 99s, I'm all about this from now on.
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Petit fours
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Petit fours
The wine flowed generously throughout the night, some of which came from Stephen and Tracy's private collection. I think I ate that much food, I couldn't even tell I had been drinking! I had two glasses of champagne which is usually enough to see me go slightly off my rocker (there was once a rather unsavoury incident with some stairs in the Fat Duck).
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Drinks
Tracy declined my request of an intravenous shot of caffeine, so I opted for a regular coffee instead, whilst Paddy had a rather cute espresso. None of this eased our pain, for we were beyond help...
T and Cake Odd Dinner - Coffee
It was nice to see Stephen having fun with his guests, and everyone around us enjoying the food he had created. Although his day job now involves comfort food, this showed he's still got it when it comes to more refined dishes. Everything we ate still had that signature T&Cake stamp, from the wooden blocks to the fresh flower flourishes on the side.

Portions were generous, flavours were big and laughter was plentiful. Although we were in a restaurant, it felt very much like we had been invited into the Jacksons' home. Stephen's dad, brimming with pride put it best; 'he can cook, the lad!'

Previous posts:
T&Cake revisited

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Saturday 20 July 2013

The Gallery Restaurant and Bar, Formby

The Gallery Restaurant and Bar, Formby
On Friday we decided a little trip to the seaside was in order. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I proper fancied a Mr Whippy ice cream. Yes, I am that refined. My mum really fancied going to Formby, so I asked Twitter for somewhere good to eat whilst we were there.

My new Twitter pal Lottie Moore (of Manchester Confidential fame...) recommended The Gallery in the town centre. She lured me in with pictures too, which is always a winner. Formby town centre is beautiful. Small, but perfectly formed. Home to some of the North West's rich and famous, we sat by a large window watching countless Bentleys and Ferraris passing. There was also a lack of young chaps with their shirts off... My mum tells me that Steven Gerrard and (wait for it...) the one and only John Parrot live there too. Contain your excitement - please.

The Gallery is a modern bistro type of place with a varied menu. There are fancy sandwiches, platters, more traditional meals and then tapas style plates to share. The staff were welcoming and attentive throughout our visit. They were enthusiastic about the food, and gave great sightseeing advice.
The Gallery Restaurant and Bar, Formby
Ploughman's Platter: This was a good mix of meat, pâté and cheese, accompanied by piccalilli, chutney, sourdough and toasted white bread. 
The Gallery, Formby - Ploughmans
The Gallery Club Sandwich: This is a monster of a sandwich, with bacon, chicken, egg, tomato, lettuce and mayonnaise, nestled between three slices of toasted white bread. It also comes with some rather nice crispy fries.
The Gallery, Formby - Club Sandwich
The Gallery, Formby - Club Sandwich & Chips
Although it was hotter than the surface of the sun outside (well, 36 degrees C) we still opted for dessert because they sounded so good.

Crushed Raspberry Crème Brûlée: This was rich and smooth, and came with a topping of tangy raspberries, and fruit and nut biscotti.
The Gallery, Formby - Raspberry Creme Brulee
Baked American Cheesecake: This was an absolute dream. The flavour of the day was mulberry and lime. I've never seen that combo before, but let me tell you - it works. Good texture to the cheesecake and base, and plenty of fruit topping.
The Gallery, Formby - Cheesecake
We really enjoyed our meal at the Gallery. It's perfect for any occasion really, as it has a casual feel yet the surroundings are quite smart, and there is a varied menu suitable for all appetites. If you're planning a trip to Formby, nip in. Great recommendation.

After lunch we had a wander down to the stunning Formby Point. If you weren't already sold on the food, here's another reason to visit...
Formby Point
Formby Point
Formby Point - Ice Cream

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