Ugly Muffins and Grummy Granola from Newtrition

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On Saturday we headed over to Leicester's Highcross to check out the Small Business Challenge pop up shop. Its a very cool idea - the SBC gave 10 small local businesses the chance to go into a big business environment and pitch their wares to thousands of shoppers coming to shop in the usual high street chains. You know how much I love to support all things local so I was really pleased to hear about this initiative and even more pleased to see how busy it was!

I was keen to go as I'd come across Newtrition on twitter and love their branding - 'smart food for busy people'. A small start up business, they currently produce two ranges of healthy products - ugly muffins and grummy granola. Healthy filling products which, as I found out at the SBC pop up shop - are delicious! 

Newtrition stall at SBC

I munched my way through the granola and also tried both the muffins. There are two flavours currently - Banana and Choc Chip and Spiced Carrot. You could eat these for breakfast or as a healthy snack. The granola is slow baked with nuts and fruit and sweetened with honey. Delish! 

Newtrition ugly muffins

Amongst the crowds I was able to grab a few minutes to chat with Newtrition owner Sunita Patel and was amazed to find out that she makes all the products herself! I think they are ones to watch - in a short space of time, they've already got their products into Deli Flavour on Allandale Road and Salvador Deli on Queens Road (both Leicester) and also at the wonderful Ragdale Hall Spa near to Melton Mowbray. The good news is that you can also order them online! Yippeee

Newtrition stall at SBC


If you're local, try them out! And don't forget to go and say hi on twitter and facebook

Over and out.. 
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Hairy Dieters: Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti

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When the Hairy Bikers brought out their 'dieters' cookbook following the TV show I wasn't sure it was really for me. I enjoy their shows and use their pie book all the time.  In fact, my first ever blog post was their Steak and Mushroom Pie. What I wasn't sure about was a diet version of the Hairy Bikers!

Chilli lemon tuna and broccoli spaghetti
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Launch: Turtle Bay, Leicester

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Last week we joined fellow food blogger Emily from Recipes and Reviews and her other half, for the launch party of the new Turtle Bay restaurant and bar which was opening in the trendy St Peters Square area of the Highcross, Leicester. 


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Egg Custards - Great British Bake Off technical challenge!

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I've joined the army of bakers, bloggers and everyone in between who seem to be taking over twitter at the moment with their efforts at the Great British Bake Off technical challenges. So, here we go - my attempt at last weeks challenge - Egg Custard. Who'd have thought some pastry and custard could be so difficult! Gregg's make it look easy, I can tell you! So, with the help of a friend, her kitchen and even her little cat, and with the threat of a soggy bottom hanging over us, I got cracking with the job at hand. We used Paul Hollywood's recipe from the show which you can find on the BBC Good Food site here.

Egg Custards
No soggy bottom here! Phew!
Ingredients
Pastry:
  • 165g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 120g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 1 egg 
Custard: 
  • 700ml whole milk 
  • 7 egg yolks 
  • 90g caster sugar
  • ground nutmeg
Method:
(Adapted from the original on the BBC Good Food website)

  • Start with the pastry - stir the flour and ground almonds together in a large bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture is like breadcrumbs. Finally stir in the sugar.
  • Break in the egg and mix it in with your fingers, bringing it together to form a soft dough.The dough for us was quite wet at this point so we had to sprinkle some extra flour on.
  • Tip the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and shape it into a ball. Flatten to a disc and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  • Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and using an 11cm fluted cutter, cut out twelve discs and line the muffin tray moulds with the pastry circle. The pastry should overlap the top of the moulds by a few millimetres, so that you can crimp the edges if you wish.
  • For the custard filling, warm the milk in a saucepan, and beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a separate bowl until pale and creamy.
  • Pour the milk onto the egg yolk mixture and stir well, creating little bubbles.
  • Pour the custard mixture into each of the tart cases and sprinkle a ground nutmeg into the middle of each tart.
  • Bake the tarts in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and bake for another 10 minutes. Top tip from Paul: You are looking for a very slight dome on the custard, indicating that it is baked. If the custard domes too much this indicates that you have over-cooked the custard, it will have boiled, and will sink back down leaving a big dip. If this does happen you can help rescue it by removing the tarts from the oven immediately and placing the tin in cold water on a cold surface.
  • Cool in the tin for 30 minutes and then carefully remove from the moulds. We used baking paper strips aka Ruby from GBBO so that we could just pull the tarts out. The base of the tarts should be perfectly baked through, without having over-cooked the custard filling.
Once cooled, eat straight away! These are really old fashioned and just delish! They are quite hard to get right though. The first tray of ours turned out well but the second lot were a bit sorry! They didn't make it onto the blog! Teehee... 


Ingredients for Egg Custards
Naughty Lily trying to help out with our baking paper strips (stolen idea from GBBOs Ruby!)
Making sweet shortcrust pastry

Heating milk on the hob
Sweet Shortcrust pastry
Egg Custards out the oven
Straight out the oven.. not too bad!
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Review: All new and improved Beefeater at The Observatory, Leicester

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I remember the Observatory in Leicester – an ex of mine used to gig there. Sticky, swirly carpets and uninspiring artwork were the order of the day. So, when I was asked to go and eat there as part of the Beefeater rebrand, I really didn’t fancy it. In fact, I delayed responding. After all, Beefeater isn’t really right for Gingey Bites… or so I thought.

The all new Leicester Beefeater
Check out that funky new logo!
Anyway, curiosity got the better of me so I accepted their kind offer and the hubby and I headed over there last week.  We walked in to a light, airy space with a slight American diner feel to it. This is one of the first in the new look 'Beefeater' chain and fun quirky ‘cow’ artwork throughout made it clear that its all about the steak. Of course there is plenty of other stuff on the menu but the real focus is undoubtedly the 21 day aged beef, the chefs grill skills and the choice of steak types.

Light and Airy entrance area at The Observatory
Indoor fire pit at The Observatory, Beefeater
Quirky Cow Artwork
The Observatory Beefeater Menu

We started with a flat-bread to share whilst we perused our choices. New to the menu, it was totally yummy - brushed with chimichurri and topped with cheese, it came with a chimichurri sauce, very garlicky and moreish! The hubby opted for their midweek evening value menu - £13.79 for three courses! He started with garlic and herb breaded mushrooms - giant slices deep fried - a real modern twist on traditional garlic mushrooms, served with a dill and a bbq sauce. He then had a 10oz rump steak with big triple cooked chips and peppercorn sauce. For pud he went for brownie and ice-cream. Pretty standard for him - fortunately it magically appeared with 2 spoons and tasted lovely (although the brownie would have been nicer warm). 

I chose to eat off the main menu and started with calamari, followed by an 8oz sirloin steak. Both of our steaks were well cooked and really tasty, especially considering how much they cost. They age their steak for 21 days and all their meat is British, two facts I was surprised and impressed by. My sirloin was really tender, better than the hubby's rump in our opinion. I had mine with their own Beefeater sauce too - a rich herby wine jus served in a fabulous little cow jug. My tip - skip the usual suspects and go for the Beefeater sauce.

Garlic and Herb Mushrooms at The Observatory
Beefeater Calamari
8oz sirloin steak at Beefeater, Leicester
Beefeater Observatory Cow Jug


10oz rump steak & triple cooked chips - beefeater
Chocolate Brownie at The Observatory, Leicester

The bill for 2 of us with a glass of wine and a lager came to £49.70. In my opinion, this was great value for a tasty meal in a nice environment. Add to this, the fact that Beefeater has just joined Gourmet Society and its well worth the trip. The Observatory's position next door to the Vue cinema at Meridian also makes it my new favourite choice for dinner before a film. 


*Our meal was free of charge, however all opinions are my own! 
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Cheese & Onion Rarebit Topped Fish

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This isn't very glamorous and my pictures aren't the best but I wanted to put a quick post up about this nice and easy weeknight supper from BBC Good Food. I don't have any kids of my own but I'm sure this is a good one for getting them to eat fish.

The original recipe calls for pollack but I used a couple of Basa fillets. You can buy them frozen (I get mine from Aldi) and keep them in the freezer for midweek meals. Its not the most flavourful of fish but works well in saucy dishes such as curry, or when topped with something like this.

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Guinea Pig night at The Woodhouse, Woodhouse Eaves

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*ARCHIVE POST - Sadly The Woodhouse is no longer open*

If you’re local to Loughborough and want to try something off the wall and completely different, I would suggest you book a table at the next Guinea Pig night at Leary’s The Woodhouse. Headed up by Paul Leary, it's a small intimate restaurant in an old cottage right in the middle of the beautiful village of Woodhouse Eaves.

Every few months, they run this night. You turn up, you don’t know what you’re eating and you score it. They collate all their feedback and use it to help plan the next menu. It’s a great idea and such a fun way to spend an evening.

As we sat down, we were greeted with notepaper and pens and the waitress explained what would happen – each of us would be given a different starter, main and pud. We wouldn't be told what they were until after the meal at which point they gave us a copy of the menu. It really was our very own real life MasterChef palette test. I sit there year after year scoffing at the TV as contestants on that show fail miserably at the palette test. Well, never again. I like to pride myself on having a good palette and a wide knowledge of flavours and tastes. However, we all made basic errors guessing what it was we were eating! For instance, one of us had venison; we all thought it was duck! We guessed at mushroom volute for something which turned out to be celeriac and pear.


On the plus side, I correctly guessed at cucumber (in little spherical balls) as an accompaniment to my Halibut main and we also correctly identified girolles and blue cheese in other dishes. Of course the point of the Guinea Pig night is not to ‘guess what you’re eating’ - this was just a bit of fun really. The real point is to help the chefs decide what to put on their menu. They welcome your honest opinions and constructive criticism on all that you eat. I see it as an opportunity for them to test those wild and wonderful flavour combinations that may be too risky to put straight on the menu and to perfect any ideas they've been musing over in the last few months.




To be honest, for me, there was nothing truly outstanding on the menu but the quality of the ingredients was second to none, the hubby and I both had fish and it was cooked to perfection. Beef fillet and Venison made an appearance on our friend’s plates and they too, were fantastic quality and beautifully cooked. Overall, just one thing really let the evening down – the blackberry and licorice rice pudding. Stodgy pink mush served in a bowl a la school dinners with two sorry looking blackberries dropped on top as if in error. Let’s hope that doesn't make it onto the menu!

Blackberry and licorice rice pudding

Overall, if you want to do something a bit different and aren't a fussy eater, I would recommend you try the Guinea Pig night. Tables book up quickly so you need to get in fast, check out the Woodhouse facebook page to see when the next one is planned. This night is also great value for money at £24.95 for three courses, a fraction of what you would usually pay to eat Al a Carte at The Woodhouse.  


Have you been before? What did you think? And if you do decide to go next time, I’d love to hear what you ate and what you thought!
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Meal Planning Monday (w/c 2 September)

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Its been a while since I've joined in on meal planning Monday but after a busy month, I've had time to sit down and plan what I want to cook in the coming days. We hit Loughborough market yesterday and topped up on fresh veg, meat and fish for half the price of the supermarkets and then a quick trip to Home Bargains for tinned and dried goods at bargain prices to finish the job. It reminded me how much I love to shop at the market and how great it is to know that your food is locally sourced.

I even went all out and cleared the cupboards - the star find was a jar of creamed horseradish with a sell by date of March 2012. Now, with freshly cleaned and tidied cupboards and full to the brim fridge & freezer, I've managed to plan a months worth of meals with just the occasional veg top up required. I've tried to plan meals under 600 calories as we're off on holiday in October and need to slim down a bit!

Meal Planning Geek

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