Monday, November 28, 2011

Pizza Sunday: Breakfast Pizza

Due to other commitments and busy weekend, Bailey and I hadn't had Pizza Sunday for aaaages until last night. So we were very excited about our first Pizza Sunday in a long time and had decided on a Breakfast Pizza a la Dough Pizza Kitchen- a yummy pizza topped with tomatoes, veggie sausages, mushroom and egg.

We used our usual pizza dough recipe but instead of using my usual spiced / herbed passata as a base, we tried to make it more breakfasty using tinned tomatoes with a bit of salt and pepper.

We also added some thinly sliced mushrooms, some veggie sausages that we'd cooked in the oven for about 10 minutes and some cheddar cheese.

Finally we cracked an egg into the middle of the pizza and voila, it was ready to go into the oven on our trusty pizza stone.

Particularly as Bailey is a little squeamish about eggs, we were worried that the egg wouldn't cook so we didn't pre-cook the pizza before putting the egg on - we just got it all in the oven. As it turns out, I pulled the pizza out of the oven after the usual five minutes and the egg looked a little wobbly so we gave it an extra minute which meant the crusts went a bit brown.

The egg wasn't a problem in the end and we thought it tasted absolutely lovely - very breakfasty with great flavour combinations. For some reason the egg, which was cooked just right, tasted just like a boiled egg which I liked.

The only problem was the base turned out a little bit soggy - I'm not sure if this was due to the chopped tomatoes or the fact we put the egg straight on there. Anyway, it didn't really have the crispness of our usual bases under the toppings, even though the edges were a bit too crisp. I think next time we will pre-bake the base for a minute or so then pop the toppings on, ensuring they go all the way to the edge so the corners don't burn. I might also use passata and a few grilled or even griddled tomatoes for a really yummy breakfasty pizza with a nice crispy base.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Clandestine Cake Club at Red House Farm

Last week I went to my first Clandestine Cake Club at the lovely Red House Farm in Dunham Massey. The theme was Family Favourites and I was very excited as I had been looking forward to the event for ages plus I hadn't eaten much all day in preparation. So armed with a huge tupperware containing my Nan Gwen Morris' Crispy Lemon Cake Bailey and I set off on our merry way.

We were actually the first people to arrive (embarrassing) but were given a warm welcome by Jonny - our host for the evening. He was really nice and also very passionate about his business and was happy to tell us all about the stuff going on at the farm.

It wasn't long at all before loads of other people began to arrive and put their all the amazing-looking cakes out on the surface for us to eat.  I started to wonder exactly how I was going to do all the delicious cakes justice as there were just so many.

Before the eating began, there was a really nice introduction by Gwyn, who we had met for the first time just days earlier at her Secret Afternoon Tea Party. She told us all about her mum's gorgeous Chocolate Birthday Cake which looked lovely.

She explained that we were in the presence of a very special guest - the founder of Clandestine Cake Club herself - Lynn - who had traveled all the way over from Leeds to see how we were getting on. She had also brought with her an amazing Elderflower Cordial Cake which just looked lovely!

It was really nice to hear everyone speaking so fondly of the club and to hear Lynn's inspiration behind the whole fabulous idea. That wasn't to say I wasn't super excited when they said it was time to dig in!

Bailey and I decided that we really wanted to try at least a little bit of every single cake. We knew this would be a challenge seeing as there were literally about 15 cakes but we decided we would get a big plate, take a thin slice of each and share them.

This seemed to work quite well as we got a little taste of each cake but didn't fill ourselves up TOO much.

I can honestly say there wasn't one bad cake out of the whole selection and I enjoyed each one in different ways. Gwyn and Lynn's cakes tasted as good as they looked, we loved the jam in the middle of Gwyn's and particularly enjoyed the Smarties on top of  it because, after about 10 slices of cake, the texture of them took the edge off the "cakiness" of it if that makes any sense at all!

I really enjoyed Kelly's Carrot Cake as it was so lovely and moist and I also really loved the lovely nutty bits in Christine's Coffee and Walnut Cake.

Jessica's Spiced Apple Cake tasted great and we loved the dark, Guinnessy taste of Helen's Chocolate Guinness Cake.

Although all cakes were ace, I have to say our favourite was definitely Claire's German Chocolate Cake - we actually managed TWO slices of this bad boy as it was so delicious and rich and beautiful. I would definitely like to get my mitts on the recipe for this if possible.

As for my Crispy Lemon Cake, well I was quite worried about it as it had come out a bit funny due to my stupidity of not having enough self-raising flour and therefore substituting it with plain flour and baking powder. The middle had sunk and me putting it on a plate with a dip in the middle hadn't helped. However I was pleased that it tasted nice and a lovely lady came up to me at the end and said mine was her favourite! Woop!

After gorging on cake, we also managed to fill up our huge tupperware with yet another slice of each cake to take home, which meant we could enjoy them all again and Bailey took some into work the next day to share with his boss!

Apart from eating amazing cake, our trip to Red House Farm was made even better by the fact we got more than we bargained for. We bought loads of great stuff from the Farm Shop including some smoked garlic which has made everything we have put it in taste awesome, and we also managed to pick up a lovely letter / key rack from Gingham and Roses - the lovely shabby chic furniture place across the way!

We loved Clandestine Cake Club and will definitely be showing up for the next meeting, hopefully with a more aesthetically-pleasing cake this time. I think it is such a lovely thing to make time in our busy lives to have a lovely sit down for a cuppa, a good old slice of cake and a chat. I will also definitely be returning to Red House Farm as their breakfast and lunch menu looked great and I need to get me some more of that smoked garlic (and furniture).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Richmond Tea Rooms

Yesterday Bailey and I had been out shopping in town since about 9am and were absolutely starrrrrving! We decided we couldn't be bothered to go home and cook something so lunch in town it was! I remembered having seen a Living Social deal for afternoon tea in a place called Richmond Tea Rooms and despite not having bought the deal, I had mentioned to Bailey that I wanted to try it out sometime.

We found Richmond Tea Rooms to be the most unexpected place as it was tucked down a little road near Canal Street and I don't think we would have ever found it had we not been looking for it. Which would have been a real shame as it is an absolutely beautiful building and great place inside.

Richmond Tea Rooms' décor and menu is inspired by Alice in Wonderland which makes for a very exciting dining location! We love, love, LOVED the amazing mirror that greeted us at the front door, although not too sure if Bailey was keen on me taking a photo of it before we even got inside...

Inside there were lots of nods to Alice's Wonderland with lovely fairytale furniture everywhere and the famous phrases "Eat Me" and "Drink Me" written above the bar.

Unfortunately the place was absolutely packed to the rafters and the manageress told us that she already had four tables' worth of people waiting next door in the adjoining bar The Lodge so we left feeling a bit glum... Until halfway down the road we just decided to go back and wait in The Lodge ourselves!

The Lodge was gorgeous too - decorated in the style of an old English huntsman's lodge and even though we were on the soft drinks, we had a look at the cocktail menu which looked great and decided we are going to take Craig and Francesca there next time they come to Manchester!

We didn't have to wait long at all to be seated in the tea rooms and the manageress was so nice helping us carry our shopping bags through. The menu looked ace - they have a great selection of light bites and exciting teas and the people next to us were having afternoon tea which looked amazing.

I decided to order a Green China Tea with Jasmine Blossom, which arrived very quickly... rather too quickly as the waitress suddenly rushed back apologising profusely that the tea was stone cold! It was really funny and she was so nice that I didn't mind at all. The tea was very nice anyway and another thing I thought was very good was that she told me that if I wanted a top up of hot water to keep the tea going I could just ask.

For our lunches, we both went for little sandwichy type plates. Bailey chose the Richmond Club Sandwich while I had Alice's Rarebit. Both came with yummy cress, salad and some salted Tortilla Chips which were a great accompaniment even though I swapped Bailey my tortillas for his salad - perfect.

Bailey loved his Richmond Club Sandwich, the chicken and bacon were cooked fresh, the bread was perfectly toasted and it was a great portion size. He commented that it was exactly what he wanted after a Saturday of shopping.

My Alice's Rarebit was amazing. I loved the combination of thick, soft, doorstep toast with gorgeous melted cheeses and flavoursome mustard, plus whatever the "secret ingredient" was which made it all amazing.

We loved our trip to Richmond Tea Rooms and thought the food was very tasty, the staff were lovely despite being rushed off their feet and we loved all the little details like the ornate plates and lovely candle holders on the tables. We will definitely be going back to try some of the amazing looking cakes!

Richmond Tea Rooms on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Secret Afternoon Tea Party

On Sunday, Bailey and I were very much looking forward to attending a Secret Afternoon Tea Party hosted by Gwyneth of Vintage Afternoon Teas. We had never been to any kind of supper club or pop-up restaurant before and despite being really excited we were also pretty nervous. Going into the home of a stranger and sitting around a table with a load of people we didn't know?! It all suddenly seemed pretty crazy.

Well actually as soon as Gwyn opened her front door and gave us a warm welcome we were put at ease. Her house is absolutely lovely and the tables were laid out beautifully, with loads of vintage china, pretty linen and cute bits and bobs for us to marvel over. As soon as we sat down we were given a warm glass of non-alcoholic mulled wine made from grape juice, which was gorgeous and perfect for a nippy winter's day.

We had a nice chat with some of the other people on our table and had a little look at the menu before putting in our orders for delicious posh tea. Then out came the food! The savoury stuff came first in the form of lovely little finger sandwiches and Smoked Salmon Mini Quiches.

The sandwiches were absolutely gorgeous and I must say I couldn't help but eat quite a few of these! The bread was thick, moist and spongy and the fillings were lovely. My favourite was the delicious brie and cranberry ones and Bailey loved the thick cut ham and mustard.

The quiches were also lovely with perfect buttery pastry and a tasty salmon flavour. They were the perfect size for popping into your mouth with a lovely bit of tea!

Next, we were presented with a three-tiered cake stand bursting with sweet treats - Bakewell Tarts, Scones and Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes which looked lovely as they had a little Chocolate. Everything was fresh and beautifully presented. The Bakwell Tarts were very moist, with lovely simple flavours and the cupcakes were very decadent and rich. Bailey and I shared one of these as we were starting to feel a pretty full but I wish I had eaten a whole one now!

Our absolute fave were the scones though - Bailey described them as "perfect" and with three different lovely jams to try and loads of amazing clotted cream we had to make sure we tried all the combinations! There was some violet jam which I'd never had before and it was really unusual and tasty - need to get me a jar of that!

The last thing I tried was the Dan Lepard recipe Cinnamon and Blackberry Cake which really was one of the prettiest cakes I have seen. It looked so appetising with the juicy blackberries and oozing jam but unfortunately by the time I got round to trying a little slice I was feeling a little bit sick and was experiencing a pretty intense sugar rush (I commented to Bailey that I felt like that YouTube kid on the way back from the dentist) so don't think I fully appreciated it. Perhaps next time I will have to pace myself a little better.

Apart from the sugar rush we absolutely loved our visit to the Secret Afternoon Tea Party. The food and tea was excellent and had all been lovingly prepared. Gwyn was such a great hostess and all the people at the event were super friendly and chatty - we needn't have felt nervous at all and I learned loads about other supper clubs and foodie events in Manchester that I'm very excited about. It was all such an unusual experience and I would definitely recommend it to other tea and cake fans and as a lover of vintage things for the home I would say it was worth it just to perve over the teacups!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


On Friday as we had quite a busy weekend ahead of us, Bailey wanted to take me out for a quiet spot of nosh. I got back from school pretty early and we were both starving but we wanted to go somewhere that would be open early and that was casual enough that I could go without getting changed out of my work clothes as I was feeling pretty lazy. We decided to try out the cute little Japanese café in Withington that we've been eyeing up for months - Kyotoya.

We loved the inside of the relaxed little café - it's full of little Japanese knick-knacks and loads of bright fairy lights which make it really cute, if a little on the red side!

The food looked excellent and everything is super cheap with starters priced between £2.50 and £3.50 and mains from about a fiver. I decided to order a portion of Kimchi while Bailey went for the 6 pieces of Chicken Gyoza.

My Kimchi was absolutely lovely - we both thought the sauce was flavoursome, perfectly spicy and delicious. I loved chowing down on it with my chopsticks and savouring every bite!

Bailey thought his gyoza were sticky and super tasty and pledged to go and buy a batch from China Town so we can have some in the house very soon!

After our lovely starters we had pretty high expectations but our mains definitely exceeded them! I had ordered the Nabe Tofu and I was intrigued when they brought over a massive table mat for mine saying mine would be pretty hot. When my Nabe arrived I realised that this was because my meal was cooked in a "hot posh dish" which was like a clay pot with a lid which meant the pot and food inside were super dooper hot.

The hot pot was filled with delicious veggies, tender tofu, noodles and an amazing soup/sauce that was just so flavoursome and delicious - when both Bailey and I first tasted it we couldn't help but say "Ohhhhhhhh!" For seven quid it was a massive portion too and we both said we will share one next time we go!

Bailey ordered the Beef Yakisoba which he also really enjoyed as it was full of great quality meat, crunchy veggies and yummy fried noodles in quite an oily, tasty sauce. Really tasty!

We thought our little no-fuss meal out at Kyotoya was a great way to spend our Friday early-evening. The service was great and the owners were really nice. It was also a bargain as starters and mains plus green tea and two Asahi beers only set us back £26 and that's taking into account that I ordered one of the posher mains on the menu. While we were eating, absolutely loads of people came in to pick up their Friday night takeaways so it's obviously a popular choice with people in the area. We will definitely be paying Kyotoya another visit soon!

Kyotoya on Urbanspoon


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