Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Betty's Tea Rooms, York

The thing to eat whilst in England is, in my opinion, clotted cream. You can't get it in South Africa unless you make it yourself and it is the perfect accompaniment to scones. And where else to get clotted cream and scones whilst in Yorkshire but Betty's in York? Make sure you sit in the main room, looking out onto the square. And order some version of tea, either the full afternoon or the Yorkshire cream. That way you'll get scones and clotted cream. You can, obviously, order many more things, including lunch and dessert. When the princess (who is a notoriously difficult eater) came to visit me one December, we took the train from Edinburgh to York for the day. We went to Betty's for lunch and she ordered and liked (an amazing feat on this particular holiday) the steak pie they served. Ever since then I've felt that Betty's can do no wrong.

This time my mom, aunt and I went for cream tea. My aunt had yet to discover the delights of clotted cream and I am pleased now to say that she is converted. I had the full afternoon tea (pictured below), my mom had the chocolate torte (also pictured) and my aunt had the Yorkshire cream tea which comes with two scones. We debated how best to apply the clotted cream and jam. Jam first? Clotted cream first? We drank tea. And we people watched. We also avoided a downpour.

I love York, it's old cobbled streets and tiny shops. The minster looming over all. But most of all I love Betty's. It's a perfect way to spend any afternoon.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Caramel Chocolate Brownies

This is my 150th post! For that I feel we need something celebratory here. Something that says 'hello world, I'm still here and I have something to say'. Or something like that anyway. When I was in Paris I made the mistake (happy, waist-increasing-in-size event?) of going into Angelina's on the Rue de Rivoli. Angelina's is a patisserie that serves the most amazing (and expensive) hot chocolate and pastries (they're famous for their Mont Blanc). This time we just went into the store - to look! But then I saw the hazelnut paste. And the chestnut puree. And the salted caramel.

Well, it's fair to say that my meagre budget was a total gonner. I bought all three and the only thing that is still intact is the chestnut puree. And that's only because I want to make this chocolate caramel chestnut cake with it and I still need to do the maths on the recipe. I'm ashamed to say I ate the hazelnut paste with a teaspoon straight from the jar over the course of about 4 days. And I was heading that way with the caramel too when I decided that I'd better make something for you all and what better way to use up caramel than chocolate brownies?

These brownies are very rich and decadent. I find they're best served from the freezer, slightly thawed - you're supposed to put them straight into the freezer after removing them from the oven but I have a bar fridge and a resultingly tiny freezer which is currently filled with strawberry purée and peas so there was no space for brownies. I let them cool to room temperature first before refrigerating them and then slicing them. I ate the first pieces warm, the excess caramel having settled on top. They were good but they were so much better cold. The cold solidifies the brownie and it becomes fudgy and squishy. The recipe (adapted from Tea with Bea) says you can keep them in an airtight container for 3 days but I sliced them and wrapped them and froze them so I can eat them cold. I also added raspberries. Just one for every piece - they bring a welcome tartness to the excessive richness. The original recipe has all sorts of things in it - peanut butter and hazelnuts and pecans and coconut - but I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to brownies so I edited all that excess out. Chocolate and caramel are the way forward here people.

Caramel Chocolate Brownies
Adapted from Tea with Bea
125g dark chocolate (70%)
160g unsalted butter
2 eggs
125g golden caster sugar
125g dark muscovado sugar
125g plain flour
6 tbsp dulce de leche
12 raspberries
Preheat your oven to 180C and line a rectangular baking tin with baking paper. My tin is 28cm by 22cm and is the perfect size for this amount. If your tin is bigger I would scale up the recipe.
Break the chocolate into a bowl and set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and pour it over the chocolate. Allow to sit for a minute or two and then stir until smooth and combined.

Stir the two sugars together - the muscovado has a tendency to clump so be sure it's smooth before you add the eggs. Whisk everything smooth.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and stir to combine. Then fold in the flour. Don't stir too much here, just enough to combine the flour into the mixture completely.

Pour this into the lined baking tin. Dollop the caramel onto the mixture and using a blunt knife, swirl it through. Lastly place the raspberries over the mixture.

Bake at 180C for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 160C and open the oven door for 30 seconds to help cool the oven. Bake for a further 15 minutes until the mixture has risen and is evenly coloured all over.
Allow to cool almost completely, in it's tin, on a wire rack. Then remove it from the tin and place on the wire rack in the fridge for a few hours. Slice and store, either at room temperature for 3 days, or in the freezer, individually wrapped, for 2 weeks.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Poison Garden at Alnwick Garden

 These pictures are from the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens, in Alnwick. We went there by chance on our way up to Lindisfarne. It was a Saturday and it was school holidays. The garden was teeming with small children and we took refuge on this guided tour.

The poison garden is kept locked and we were warned not to touch/sniff/eat anything because all of the plants are dangerous in various ways. Check out the cool living roof here!

It was a pretty fascinating tour. I can't remember all of the plants we saw except for belladonna, opium poppies and marijuana. The Alnwick Gardens also have a Roots and Shoots section which is used to teach children about food growing. Sadly I didn't get to see it this time. But it just means I'll have to go back!

Oh and if you're wondering about the rather large amount of gardens being posted at the moment, it's because I was on holiday with my mom and aunt who are both gardening nuts. I was just the photographer but I think it makes a nice change, especially since my actual work is all about food growing. I promise to bake something soon!

Some plants have to be kept in cages
Others can only be grown with special permission and licences

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Friday Market, near Bergerac, France

I was in France again recently, just for a few days, hanging out at a lovely house near Le Temple sur Lot. On the Friday we went to this market in a town who's name I now cannot recall. It was a typical small town market, the kind where you can buy anything and everything, from jeans to table cloths to bread to live chickens. We wandered around just looking, often with wide eyes, at all the different things on offer. The colours in the market are just spectacular and half the reason to go. I was particularly interested in all the different meats and fish on sale. There was more selection than you'd find in the average supermarket that's for sure. The window boxes all over town were pretty lovely too.

Tomatoes of every shape
Local carrots
Wild boar salami. There was also horse.
The local church
Anchovies and sardines
There was a lot of pre-prepared food, like these mussels
On guard!
Flower seller
Look at the choice of plums
Stacks and stacks of peaches
Flour at the bakery
The town hall

Quails, bought cooked at the market, for lunch

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sunday Lunch, The Kings Wark, Edinburgh

Leith is one of my favourite places in Edinburgh and the Kings Wark is one of my favourite pubs. It's tiny and rather intimate, especially when it's full. The staff are friendly and the menu is always changing and evolving. Obviously it was a place I had to take my Mom and aunt to when they were visiting.

We went for Sunday lunch. I had fish and chips - it was the start of a chip obsession for my Mom and aunt who are sure the chips are better in the UK because of the types of potatoes grown here - and my Mom had the seafood menagerie (I can't remember what it was actually called). It was one of those long lunches after which you need to lie down for a while or, as in our case, take a slow meander around Leith to walk it off. It was a rather perfect Sunday and I almost wish all Sundays could be like that but then, perhaps, we wouldn't appreciate them when they do occur...