28 May 2011

Date night dinner at The Hinds Head!

Well it seems I must have been a good girl recently & the foodie fairy (otherwise know as my OH!) rewarded me with a reservation at The Hinds Head in Bray, if you're not familiar with it, it's owned by Heston Blumenthal. It's a beautiful old building that's steeped in history, located in the heart of Bray village, the most notable claim to fame is that Prince Phillip had his stag do there!

The menu is a mix of pub style favourite, historic British recipe revivals & in true Heston style some more unusual dishes. We had a lovely evening, the staff were great, the restaurant was gorgeous & the food was delicious. In true food blogger style I took pictures of everything & thought I'd share them with you. Sorry not the best quality, but you get the idea :-)

So we started with a drink in the bar & this was not your average G&T! Mare is a Mediterranean Gin infused with olives, thyme, basil & rosemary. It's served with the usual tonic plus a generous chunk of orange & a sprig of rosemary as your swizzle stick! The flavours are quite subtle but it's delicious.

For my starter I chose Pommes Dorres' Pork Meat Fruit, Apple, Boar Salami & Grilled Bread. It looked like a work of art!

I wasn't quite sure what the to expect when I cut into that gorgeous glossy little apple, it was actually an apple jelly filled with delicious pork.

For my main I went with a traditional (some may say boring?) steak, it came served with triple cooked chips & a bone marrow sauce, we also went for a side of baby spinach with pine nuts & parmesan. It was incredible, quite possibly the best steak I've ever had!

Dessert was a Spiced Chocolate Wine 'Slush' with Millionaires Shortbread. By this point I was beside myself with excitement & was maybe making my OH feel a little embarrassed at my picture taking & general over enthusing!

I even got this little card with my pud to explain the origins of chocolate wine.

I thoroughly enjoyed our evening at The Hinds Head & would highly recommend it for a visit. Maybe next we can graduate to The Fat Duck which is only a couple of doors away. Thanks M! Dinner from my kitchen this evening is going to be dull in comparison, oh well, till next time, Rebecca x

23 May 2011

Blog Giveaway - Vintage Vinyl Cake Stand!

I've gone all arts & crafts on you this week to bring you...fanfare please....a Rebecca Bakes Cakes blog giveaway! Now I have been known to have an original idea every now & again, however I have to hold my hands up & confess that this idea has been stolen with pride from a good friend of mine. It combines two of my favourite things, music & cake, so when I saw these stands stacked with cupcakes at her daughters' party, I had to have a go at making one myself.

Trawling the charity shops of Windsor looking for vinyl was an experience in itself, turns out the residents of the Royal Borough seem to be quite fond of Howard Jones & Engelbert Humperdinck (way too much Humperdinck) I picked records I knew & loved, so my stand ended up with a rather eclectic mix of the original film soundtrack of Mary Poppins, Tears for Fears - Shout & Love Affair - Everlasting Love. Make of that mix what you will...

I've also made a special 80's edition to give away to one lucky reader! This stand combines, Erasure - Circus, Danny Wilson - The Second Summer of Love & Owen Paul - My Favourite Waste of Time. It's a marvellous medley of 80's pop! To be fair I don't really know the Danny Wilson track, but 10" vinyl is remarkably hard to come by, so had to take what I could find :-)

It's very sturdy & dead easy to dismantle so you can store it flat. I love a traditional chintzy china cake stand, but this vinyl version will definitely make a bold statement on your tea table & is sure to get people talking about the tunes!

To be in with a chance to win my 80's-tastic vintage vinyl cake stand, just leave a comment below or email me at rebeccabakescakes@hotmail.co.uk to say you're in. If you want to share a guilty music secret, then feel free, I won't judge! Quite frankly I have too many to mention, but to get things started I queued on Oxford Street for hours to meet 90's boyband Let Loose, I've been to see Cliff Richard not once but twice (with my Mum!) & I am the proud owner of a CD signed by Shed Seven. You get the idea, it's musical catharsis!

Competition will close at 11.59pm on Sunday 29th May 2011. International entries welcome! Good luck, Rebecca x

12 May 2011

Forever Nigella - Salad Days!

This months Forever Nigella challenge is being hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen, the theme being Salad Days! Gone are the days of salads being some limp lettuce, tomato & cucumber with a radish or two thrown in if you were feeling adventurous. They are no longer a greying garnish, but a meal in themselves packed full of good stuff!

My entry is an interpretation of Nigella's recipe for Red-leaf, fig & serrano ham salad from the Nigella Express book. You might look at it & think there's no figs or serrano ham in it, crazy lady it's nothing like it! But I promise you it was reading this recipe that led me to putting these ingredients together.

For my WIGIG Salad, you'll need..

A selection of salad leaves, mozzarella cheese, proscutio cotto ham, some lightly steamed British asparagus & a drizzle of olive oil & balsamic vinegar. We have just entered the fabulous British asparagus season which sadly only lasts for three months, so I try & enjoy as much of it as I can, because when it's gone it's gone - hench it's name, WIGIG! There's a greab web site dedicated to the tasty veg, take a look for lots of useless asparagus facts & recipes.

There really isn't any method to this, just chuck it all together (in an artistic fashion of course!) & enjoy. Till next time, Rebecca x


10 May 2011

Posh microwave popcorn!

With the exception of the film, popcorn is probably my favourite part of going to the movies. Actually come to think of it there's probably a few films that I would have walked out of if I hadn't had a popcorn tub the size of my mop bucket to chomp through! I've tried to make popcorn at home but it's never been great. Microwave popcorn tastes a bit plastic & the time I tried to pop my own, I ended up having to send a pan to kitchen heaven with a irreversibly scorched bottom! So when I was mooching around Great Portland Street killing time before a meeting I was excited to find ZaraMamaS Gourmet Popping Corn. It's a completely natural dried corn on the cob that comes with a bag so you can pop it in the microwave.

Put the cob into the bag & tie up the top

Pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes until the popping stops...

...you get a lovely fresh bag of popcorn

The kernels just pop themselves off the cob!

It's really tasty & I like the fact you can season it yourself. I split my batch in two & seasoned half with salt & pepper, the other half I drizzled (ok maybe more than drizzled!) with maple syrup which was absolutely delicious! ZaraMamaS products are available from deli's & farm shops across the country, have a look at their website for more tasty treats. I'm off to pick a movie to watch with my popcorn, Rebecca x

8 May 2011

Pasteis de Nata - Portuguese Custard Tarts

I love custard, custard tarts, custard slices, custard on puds, cold custard! But my favourite form I think has to be pasteis de nata. I first discovered them years ago when I was working with a couple of Portuguese fellas, since then I've always been on the look out for them in cafes & cake shops but haven't found them that often. So when this months copy of Olive magazine dropped through my door with a recipe for them I had to give it a try!

I've never made a secret of the fact that no matter how hard I try, I just can't crack pastry making! (maybe I need to go on a course??) So I turned to my faithful friend Jus-Roll to help me out with the puff pastry. They properly puffed up in the oven, so much so they came out looking a little like yorkshire puds. The gorgeous custard filling, with a subtle flavour of lemon & cinnamon had just started to caramelise...

Once they'd cooled & crisped up, I finished them off with a dusting of icing sugar & cinnamon. They are absolutely delicious & completely morish. I stored them in my airtight cake tin, but after a day or so, the pastry had gone quite soggy...any ideas why that might have happened? Would they have absorbed moisture from the custard filling? It didn't make them any less tasty, it was just a bit of a shame they went soft...

Full details of the recipe can be found in the June issue of Olive magazine, enjoy! Rebecca x

1 May 2011

Cocktail Hour - Sparkling Violet

What better way to finish off a sunny bank holiday weekend than with cocktail hour, care to join me?

Now I love a good cocktail, especially fizz based ones but I'm a bit bored with Bellinis. So I was excited to make a new discovery on a recent visit to Bar 108 in Marylebone.

A sparkling violet is made with Prosecco, Crystalised Violet Petals & Violet Liqueur that makes it the most gorgeous shade of purple.

Fizz that tastes of parma violets, amazing! I think I have a new favourite, just need to find a bar in the Royal Borough that will add it to their menu.

Chin chin! Rebecca x

28 May 2011

Date night dinner at The Hinds Head!

Well it seems I must have been a good girl recently & the foodie fairy (otherwise know as my OH!) rewarded me with a reservation at The Hinds Head in Bray, if you're not familiar with it, it's owned by Heston Blumenthal. It's a beautiful old building that's steeped in history, located in the heart of Bray village, the most notable claim to fame is that Prince Phillip had his stag do there!

The menu is a mix of pub style favourite, historic British recipe revivals & in true Heston style some more unusual dishes. We had a lovely evening, the staff were great, the restaurant was gorgeous & the food was delicious. In true food blogger style I took pictures of everything & thought I'd share them with you. Sorry not the best quality, but you get the idea :-)

So we started with a drink in the bar & this was not your average G&T! Mare is a Mediterranean Gin infused with olives, thyme, basil & rosemary. It's served with the usual tonic plus a generous chunk of orange & a sprig of rosemary as your swizzle stick! The flavours are quite subtle but it's delicious.

For my starter I chose Pommes Dorres' Pork Meat Fruit, Apple, Boar Salami & Grilled Bread. It looked like a work of art!

I wasn't quite sure what the to expect when I cut into that gorgeous glossy little apple, it was actually an apple jelly filled with delicious pork.

For my main I went with a traditional (some may say boring?) steak, it came served with triple cooked chips & a bone marrow sauce, we also went for a side of baby spinach with pine nuts & parmesan. It was incredible, quite possibly the best steak I've ever had!

Dessert was a Spiced Chocolate Wine 'Slush' with Millionaires Shortbread. By this point I was beside myself with excitement & was maybe making my OH feel a little embarrassed at my picture taking & general over enthusing!

I even got this little card with my pud to explain the origins of chocolate wine.

I thoroughly enjoyed our evening at The Hinds Head & would highly recommend it for a visit. Maybe next we can graduate to The Fat Duck which is only a couple of doors away. Thanks M! Dinner from my kitchen this evening is going to be dull in comparison, oh well, till next time, Rebecca x

23 May 2011

Blog Giveaway - Vintage Vinyl Cake Stand!

I've gone all arts & crafts on you this week to bring you...fanfare please....a Rebecca Bakes Cakes blog giveaway! Now I have been known to have an original idea every now & again, however I have to hold my hands up & confess that this idea has been stolen with pride from a good friend of mine. It combines two of my favourite things, music & cake, so when I saw these stands stacked with cupcakes at her daughters' party, I had to have a go at making one myself.

Trawling the charity shops of Windsor looking for vinyl was an experience in itself, turns out the residents of the Royal Borough seem to be quite fond of Howard Jones & Engelbert Humperdinck (way too much Humperdinck) I picked records I knew & loved, so my stand ended up with a rather eclectic mix of the original film soundtrack of Mary Poppins, Tears for Fears - Shout & Love Affair - Everlasting Love. Make of that mix what you will...

I've also made a special 80's edition to give away to one lucky reader! This stand combines, Erasure - Circus, Danny Wilson - The Second Summer of Love & Owen Paul - My Favourite Waste of Time. It's a marvellous medley of 80's pop! To be fair I don't really know the Danny Wilson track, but 10" vinyl is remarkably hard to come by, so had to take what I could find :-)

It's very sturdy & dead easy to dismantle so you can store it flat. I love a traditional chintzy china cake stand, but this vinyl version will definitely make a bold statement on your tea table & is sure to get people talking about the tunes!

To be in with a chance to win my 80's-tastic vintage vinyl cake stand, just leave a comment below or email me at rebeccabakescakes@hotmail.co.uk to say you're in. If you want to share a guilty music secret, then feel free, I won't judge! Quite frankly I have too many to mention, but to get things started I queued on Oxford Street for hours to meet 90's boyband Let Loose, I've been to see Cliff Richard not once but twice (with my Mum!) & I am the proud owner of a CD signed by Shed Seven. You get the idea, it's musical catharsis!

Competition will close at 11.59pm on Sunday 29th May 2011. International entries welcome! Good luck, Rebecca x

12 May 2011

Forever Nigella - Salad Days!

This months Forever Nigella challenge is being hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen, the theme being Salad Days! Gone are the days of salads being some limp lettuce, tomato & cucumber with a radish or two thrown in if you were feeling adventurous. They are no longer a greying garnish, but a meal in themselves packed full of good stuff!

My entry is an interpretation of Nigella's recipe for Red-leaf, fig & serrano ham salad from the Nigella Express book. You might look at it & think there's no figs or serrano ham in it, crazy lady it's nothing like it! But I promise you it was reading this recipe that led me to putting these ingredients together.

For my WIGIG Salad, you'll need..

A selection of salad leaves, mozzarella cheese, proscutio cotto ham, some lightly steamed British asparagus & a drizzle of olive oil & balsamic vinegar. We have just entered the fabulous British asparagus season which sadly only lasts for three months, so I try & enjoy as much of it as I can, because when it's gone it's gone - hench it's name, WIGIG! There's a greab web site dedicated to the tasty veg, take a look for lots of useless asparagus facts & recipes.

There really isn't any method to this, just chuck it all together (in an artistic fashion of course!) & enjoy. Till next time, Rebecca x


10 May 2011

Posh microwave popcorn!

With the exception of the film, popcorn is probably my favourite part of going to the movies. Actually come to think of it there's probably a few films that I would have walked out of if I hadn't had a popcorn tub the size of my mop bucket to chomp through! I've tried to make popcorn at home but it's never been great. Microwave popcorn tastes a bit plastic & the time I tried to pop my own, I ended up having to send a pan to kitchen heaven with a irreversibly scorched bottom! So when I was mooching around Great Portland Street killing time before a meeting I was excited to find ZaraMamaS Gourmet Popping Corn. It's a completely natural dried corn on the cob that comes with a bag so you can pop it in the microwave.

Put the cob into the bag & tie up the top

Pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes until the popping stops...

...you get a lovely fresh bag of popcorn

The kernels just pop themselves off the cob!

It's really tasty & I like the fact you can season it yourself. I split my batch in two & seasoned half with salt & pepper, the other half I drizzled (ok maybe more than drizzled!) with maple syrup which was absolutely delicious! ZaraMamaS products are available from deli's & farm shops across the country, have a look at their website for more tasty treats. I'm off to pick a movie to watch with my popcorn, Rebecca x

8 May 2011

Pasteis de Nata - Portuguese Custard Tarts

I love custard, custard tarts, custard slices, custard on puds, cold custard! But my favourite form I think has to be pasteis de nata. I first discovered them years ago when I was working with a couple of Portuguese fellas, since then I've always been on the look out for them in cafes & cake shops but haven't found them that often. So when this months copy of Olive magazine dropped through my door with a recipe for them I had to give it a try!

I've never made a secret of the fact that no matter how hard I try, I just can't crack pastry making! (maybe I need to go on a course??) So I turned to my faithful friend Jus-Roll to help me out with the puff pastry. They properly puffed up in the oven, so much so they came out looking a little like yorkshire puds. The gorgeous custard filling, with a subtle flavour of lemon & cinnamon had just started to caramelise...

Once they'd cooled & crisped up, I finished them off with a dusting of icing sugar & cinnamon. They are absolutely delicious & completely morish. I stored them in my airtight cake tin, but after a day or so, the pastry had gone quite soggy...any ideas why that might have happened? Would they have absorbed moisture from the custard filling? It didn't make them any less tasty, it was just a bit of a shame they went soft...

Full details of the recipe can be found in the June issue of Olive magazine, enjoy! Rebecca x

1 May 2011

Cocktail Hour - Sparkling Violet

What better way to finish off a sunny bank holiday weekend than with cocktail hour, care to join me?

Now I love a good cocktail, especially fizz based ones but I'm a bit bored with Bellinis. So I was excited to make a new discovery on a recent visit to Bar 108 in Marylebone.

A sparkling violet is made with Prosecco, Crystalised Violet Petals & Violet Liqueur that makes it the most gorgeous shade of purple.

Fizz that tastes of parma violets, amazing! I think I have a new favourite, just need to find a bar in the Royal Borough that will add it to their menu.

Chin chin! Rebecca x
 

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