Hipster BBQ Guide

Well, the barbecue season is *technically* here, British weather permitting as usual. If you’re tired of seeing the same old things at a barbecues, here’s my guide to shaking it up a little.

Meat matters

I won’t go into the meat too much, suffice to say this should be locally sourced, from a farmshop, farmers market or quality butchers. You can eat supermarket meat on any other day of the week, get the organic, tender, aged, best you can buy for a BBQ. Plus, it’s better for our farmers and animals.

Plant-based popularity 228798011_0_640x640

Increasingly people are opting for more plant-based diets these days, veggie and veganism is more in fashion than ever, so make sure you’ve got this covered. I recommend these Aromatic Moroccan Veg Cakes from Great Foods (you can get them on Ocado, naturally). These are delicious and may event tempt a few meat eaters too.

Shrimp on the barbie

Don’t forget about the pescatarians too, this is a very popular way of life (I pretty much live it). As a child we would use freshly caught scallops to make our own family version of coquille st jacque on the barbecue – but to be honest a nice bit of salmon, king prawns or fish kebabs will do just as well.

Bye baps, hello brioche 

Yes, even bread has had an update. It’s out with the baps and in with the brioche buns with their beautiful golden shine. They’re the perfect accompaniment to a hearty burger and should be top of your shopping list.

Gin is inbrockmans-gin

Unless you’ve been living on the moon recently, you’ll know that gin is in. The quirkier and more unusual sounding your gin, the better! If you can get a locally distilled gin (like Hampshire’s very own Twisted Nose), that’s ideal. Another recommendation from me is Brockmans Gin, just make sure you’ve got the grapefruit peel, or at least the blueberries to go with it. If all else fails, Sipsmith is a great choice and it’s available in supermarkets. The mixer matters too, step away from the Schweppes and pick up the Fever-Tree Tonic, it’s the best!

Anyone for tea?hb

For something a little lighter but still alcoholic check out Harry Brompton’s Alcoholic Ice Tea for some sweet refreshment. It’s delicious and free from artificial flavours, colours and preservatives. You’ll be supporting a lovely British brand too, so cheers to that.

British bubbles

If it’s a celebratory barbecue occasion, cast aside the Prosecco and opt for an English sparkling wine – there are some truly fantastic ones out there. If you don’t have time to get to a local wine shop (like Winchester’s fabulous Wine Utopia), supermarkets like Waitrose have a few English wines these days, like the lovely Nyetimber.

Super saladssalad

Last but not least, the salad, often overlooked, people tend to think of it as that person at a party no-one really likes but you have to invite anyway. Personally, I don’t feel this way and put a great deal of effort into my salad making. I recommend adding cous cous or quinoa into the mix for a bit of texture and flavour. Use plenty of fresh herbs too, a little chopped coriander, mint and chives (my salad favourites) make a world of difference to how a salad tastes. I like to add a little feta cheese or mozzarella as well. Keep your salads bright with plenty of vegetables and textures and they’re sure to be more popular. I say that it’s high time salad stopped being a wallflower and took centre stage, so let’s make it happen!

Happy BBQ-ing everyone, fingers crossed for a glimpse of sun again!

xXx

P.S. Don’t forget your mason jars to drink out of.

 

 

 

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Great British Bake Off Withdrawal…

I must be missing the Great British Bake Off because I’ve been thinking about baking, frequenting bakeries and even actually baking far more than than ever before. I  baked this last week….

Filo Pie

 

Yes, it’s a filo pastry pie! I’ve been craving filo pastry ever since  Kimberley’s filo pie on the Great British Bake Off.  Okay, so it’s made with shop bought filo. I’m not  exactly GBBO standard and I couldn’t risk my dinner going wrong so I had to use the pre-made filo pastry. However the filing idea was all my own – seasoned chicken and stir fried vegetables with roasted red pepper, feta, spinach and cous cous, kind of a Moroccan flavoured theme. Next time I may leave out the cous cous though as it did dry out quite a bit in the baking process.

I was surprised at how easy filo pastry was to work with and how simple it was to make a pretty design. If you fancy having a go, the above is made by simply laying out sheets of pastry and adding a line of filling, then simply rolling this up into a sausage shape, placing in  a round tin and repeating the process. So easy!

Tonight I think I’m actually going to bake bread to go with my home made Halloween pumpkin soup. The GBBO mourning continues!

xXx

 

Classics for British Food Fortnight

It’s British Food Fortnight! So what better time to celebrate some of the food we’re famous for? In this post I’m rounding up my favourite, traditionally British things to eat, along with the details of some great local producers too.

Scones…

Scones are definitely a delicious British classic, whether you enjoy a fruity one with cream and jam or warm cheese scone with butter, they’re a well known accompaniment to our national drink, a nice cup of tea. Scones are good fun to bake but if you don’t fancy re-enacting the Great British Bake Off, then there’s plenty of ready made scones around. Locally, my favourite scones are from The Baker Boys market stall in Winchester. Their hearty scones are a generous size with some lovely varieties including apple & date and blueberry & pear. The Baker Boys are in Winchester High Street in on Saturdays and I believe they also sell their deliciously baked wares in Romsey, Christchurch, Alton and Lymington too.

scones

Cheese…

We have some wonderful cheese in Britain, from Cheddar to Double Gloucester and Red Leicester…I could go on!  And at most farmers markets you’re spoilt for choice with lovely local cheeses. I certainly always come away from Hampshire Farmers Market with armfuls of locally made bread and cheese to scoff! From a cheeky bit of cheese on toast, to a ploughman’s lunch or a full on post dinner cheese course – it’s a fine food for any occasion! One of my local favourites is Lyburn Farm’s Old Winchester Cheese.

cheese

Toasted Tea Cake…

Back to the baked goods now and you can’t beat a toasted tea cake with a mug of tea. A tea cake means different things in different countries but in Britain it is of course a fruity, bread-like bun served toasted with butter and possibly jam too. Really the tea cake is like the less religious cousin of the good old hot cross bun and is perfectly acceptable to consumer all year round. Locally you can get a good toasted tea cake and a nice pot of loose leaf tea in Winchester’s Forte Tea Rooms.

half-toasted-teacake

Roast Dinner..

We definitely know how to do a roast dinner in Britain, whether it’s the traditional joint of beef or a roast pheasant (as was traditional in my household!), this is hearty British comfort food at its best. There are of course many local outlets serving up roast dinner on a Sunday but my two favourites are The Bugle Inn, Twyford and The Old Forge in Otterbourne.

Roast

Cheese Straws…

It must be an after affect of too much Great British Bake Off but I’m back on the British baked goods again! I absolutely adore cheese straws, which I believe were originally a British invention, although they’re apparently quite popular in the US too.  Cheese straws are comforting treat that remind me of childhood and Christmas time all at once. For me, the best ones locally are from Reeve the Baker in Winchester High Street.

cheese straws

The Cooked Breakfast…

We Brits are of course known for enjoying a cooked breakfast once in a while. You certainly can’t beat a good old fry-up when suffering the after affects of too much alcohol the night before! Personally I’m more of a scrambled eggs on toast kind of girl but I can be tempted by a well made fry-up with good quality ingredients. My top local recommendation is Bean Below, the tucked away cafe and restaurant underneath Twyford Stores – they always use plenty of locally sourced ingredients from the free range eggs to the British bacon and sausages.

cooked-breakfast

…So, who’s hungry? I’ll admit it’s not exactly the healthiest list but hey, it’s still the weekend and we’re half way through British Food Fortnight, a time to come together and celebrate all the great food we produce!

You can find out more about British Food Fortnight and how to take part on their website: http://lovebritishfood.co.uk/

Cheese Fest!

Cheese Fest!

I’m headed for the Alps soon for some cheesetastic adventures…oh and maybe some skiing.

Show me the cheese!

I’m so very excited xXx

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Feeling a bit like Santa…

This week has been so epically full of food…this must be how Santa feels on Christmas morning after gorging himself on a million mince pies the night before!

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It all started on Wednesday at an award ceremony in London’s The Grange St. Paul’s Hotel. After a nightmare journey and arriving 45 minutes late, the evening wasn’t off to a great start but somehow we were still able to consume all three courses of the meal on offer (oh the wonders of mass catering)…wait make that four courses if you count the lovely little Petit Fours at the end…

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I thought the Petit Fours might turn out to be the best bit of the evening, but no…Sue Perkins was hosting! She was witty and amusing as always and certainly made my evening – meeting her more than made up for not winning the award! A large wine afterwards helped too.

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The real tremendous day of eating came on Thursday when I enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner out. I began the day with a fabulous girly breakfast at Paul’s – a lovely french patisserie  in London and followed this with a ladies lunch also in London (I will add that I only ate a salad…), finally I rounded the day off with a dinner at Winchester’s Number 5 Bridge Street. Thankfully Number 5’s menu features a whole range of smaller dishes to enjoy, so I didn’t quite have to be rolled home!

And this weekend…well…I’ve shamefully had not one but two Subway sandwiches (dam it’s close proximity to my new home!), but also a lovely dinner at The Bugle Twyford and some hearty bread and mince pies from Winchester City Market.

I guess I’m just preparing my stomach for the indulgences of Christmas….? My tree’s up already, bring on the festivities!

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