Goodbye 2015, Hello Veganuary!

30 December 2015

Vegetable market

I was planning on doing a bit of a round up post for the end of the year but then when I tried to look back through my posts, pick favourites and think of deep and meaningful things to say about the year my brain drew a total blank. I'm just not a new yearsy person. Soz. But I did want to do a little post to end 2015 and introduce my first 'feature' of 2016 - 'Veganuary' or Hannah eats vegetables for the first time in 23 years.

So what is Veganuary? I spotted Veganuary thanks to the wonderful Cate in the Kitchen and a few other bloggers who were all planning to take part. Over 10,000 people, including me, have pledged to eat Vegan for the whole month. That's it. Sounds pretty simple right?

Afternoon Tea at Oh Me, Oh My

29 December 2015

Oh Me Oh My, Liverpool

Brie and Cranberry Christmas Frittata

21 December 2015

Christmas Brunch Recipe

I was recently asked what my favourite part of christmas is, and while a few years ago I might have said presents, now it obviously has to be the food. And its way, waaaay too good to keep to one day only. Over the past couple of weeks I've swapped my regular boring sandwiches for festive specials and replaced all other snacks with christmas cookies and mince pies. I resent hearing novelty music any day before christmas eve but I am all over the christmas eating.

Lincoln Christmas Market Weekend

19 December 2015

There are a lot of things that I love about Lincoln, but the Christmas market stands above them all as my favourite event of the whole year. I'm not exactly an overly festive person, I kind of hate most Christmas music and I definitely hate anything festive happening before bonfire night, but there is something about the market that just gives me all the warm fuzzy Christmas feelings.

It was the apparently first Christmas market in the UK, something the city is very proud of. It only lasts for four days, but there is plenty to see as it fills the cathedral quarter, so I usually try and spend as much time there as I possibly can over the weekend to make the most of it.

92 Degrees Coffee, Liverpool

14 December 2015

If you have the joy of being my Twitter or Instagram friend (links here and here if you want to come join the party!) then you'll probably know I'm no stranger to 'hipster' cafes. The prospect of cake and dirty chai lattes are some of the only things that can tempt me to leave the house during the awful winter weather.

Vanilla Chai Bundt

16 November 2015

I know, things have been a little quiet on the blog front lately. If you follow me on twitter you'll probably already know this is because I've been moving house. After 5 years of house and flat shares, I now have my own little home, and its been quite the adventure (highlights include a lot of late nights, my macbook breaking, accidentally pulling away a sizeable lump of my bedroom wall, disasters with flatpack furniture, and a badly sprained ankle) which has left me very little time for anything. The place is still completely a work in progress, but I'll keep you updated, I may even share some tricks on the blog if it all goes well!


11 October 2015

We had the idea for these macarons last summer, when Dave and I visited the Modrian exhibition at Tate Liverpool, but as I was pretty poor at macaron making a year ago, I quickly forgot about it again. The exhibition was beautifully put together, including a reconstruction of one of his studio spaces, and showed the development from his earlier work through to the brightly coloured grids we all know. Seeing them in this way let me actually start to understand Mondrian's works for the first time ever, and now I kind of love it. 

As a side note, this years summer exhibition was Jackson Pollock and was equally wonderful. I really can't say enough good things about Tate Liverpool, I'm not exactly an expert, but they always do an amazing job.

As a second side note, let's all dedicate a moment of silence to Dave in appreciation/sympathy, for always helping with recipe posts, but once again having to wait a year for me to actually make something he's asked for.

August Degustabox Review

26 September 2015

August saw my second try of the degustabox*, as there were some problems with July that meant some weren't delivered. They were amazing at sorting it out thought, and I've been spending the last few weeks testing everything the August box had to offer.

My favourite products this month were definitely the Dr, Oetker mug cakes. I always see mug cake recipes and think they sound great, I even have a cookbook full of them, but most of them have a list of ingredients so long that I can just never be bothered. If I'm going to have to put that much effort in then I'm sorry but I want a full sized cake. These mug cake mixes are the perfect solution. Just add milk, stir, microwave and you're good to go! They obviously don't taste quite as good as a real cake, but great to keep in or stuff in your lunchbox/bag for any cake related emergencies that might crop up.

OAKS, Nottingham

20 September 2015

Oaks angus beef burger

Asking a food blogger to choose their favourite restaurant is like asking a parent to pick a favourite child, you have to love too many things equally. So I won't tell you that Oaks is my favourite, but what I will tell you is that in the weeks since my visit I have thought about them nearly every day.

From the moment you walk into Oaks you are hit by the warmth and smell of the wood fire. The slightly smoky atmosphere is incredibly comforting, especially now we're heading into slightly colder weather outdoors.

Oaks is also beautifully decorated. It is polished and modern but in a way that doesn't feel at all stuffy, its a perfect mix of quality and comfort.

Tea Roulette

7 September 2015

In recent years, I seem to have become a bit of a hoarder when it comes to tea. There's something just really lovely about having the perfect blend of tea for your mood, for the time of day, to accompany a meal. But with so many blends and brands available now, trying to find new teas can get pretty confusing. I can remember how scary that first venture away from my standard cup of earl grey was, and I still very rarely purchase new teas that I haven't tried at a friends or in a coffee shop first. Enter Tea Roulette.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

31 August 2015

It's bake off time again! Now we're a bit further into the series I'm definitely enjoying this year a bit more, the dessert week challenges were super impressive and I'm starting to get a better sense of the bakers (go team Flora!).

Dessert week posed a bit of a problem for me this year though. Since I took my madiera cake into work a few weeks ago, I seem to have started an unintentional office bake along. It's been really fun so far, but I volunteered to make this weeks treats without thinking about the fact that I have to take a bus to get to my new job. I was a little bit stumped at first to think of a dessert that would actually make it to the office in one piece on a hot summer morning. Last year I made tiramisu for dessert week which was clearly never going to get there in one piece, and this weeks bake off signature challenge of creme brulee probably wouldn't do it either (and taking a blow torch into work would probably have got me into a lot of trouble with our health and safety officers...).

Salmon and Kale Curry

18 August 2015

After mexican food, curries have become one of the go to meals in my house. They're great fun for experimenting with flavours and spices and for using up whatever bits and pieces are left in the fridge, without too much that can really go wrong. Unlike the precise nature of baking, I have quite a haphazard, throwing things together approach to meals. It doesn't always make for a very 'authentic' recipe, but sometimes I hit a real winner, like this salmon and kale curry. Made with fresh salmon, dried spices, tinned tomatoes and some kale (you could use spinach, but I just think kale is a million times nicer), this delicious curry is easy and comes together in around half an hour.

Spiced Orange Madeira Cake

10 August 2015

As most of you will already know, last week The Great British Bake Off returned to our screens once more, and as with every season of the show, the good British people dusted off their cake tins and returned to our kitchens to join in the fun. My all time favourite food show, there is something really charming about the Bake Off. And judging by the excitement on my Twitter feed last week, I wasn't the only one awaiting its return.

This year the lovely folks at Silver Mushroom invited me to join their #BakeWithBakeOff challenge and cook along with a challenge from the show each week, so of course I had to get involved with episode 1's cake week theme. I'm not going to do every challenge this year (because we all know how well that turned out last time) but I will be posting some recipes when I get the chance, as well as a bit of post-show analysis on Twitter each week using #bwbo.

I'm determined to be a little more relaxed about the process this year though and try to remember that I'm not actually in the tent, but if I have any more hilarious/tragic baking fails like this one, I'm sure I'll share that with you too.

Mojito Rock Road // The Treat Kitchen Review

26 July 2015

 There is something really magical about traditional sweet shops. I've always had a major sweet tooth (in case you couldn't tell) and as a child I was always pretty disappointed that my pocket money was being spent in a newsagents and not some kind of magical, Willy Wonka-esque place. Even at twenty three, I still get a little bit excited whenever I get to visit a real sweet shop so you can imagine my excitement when The Treat Kitchen sent me some of their sugary goods to try out recently.

Based in Nottingham, The Treat Kitchen provide a traditional sweet shop for the modern shopper, with their range of quirky flavours and packaging. Their family have a long history in local confectionary but wanted to create something special with their store which also has on site fudge kitchen. I was lucky enough to sample a few different treats from them, including pineapple rollers, classic foam bananas and radioactive sours. I also got some jelly beans, and the mint sorbet flavour made it into my rocky road recipe below.

Pudding Club at Leaf, Liverpool

22 July 2015

Leaf on Bold St Pudding Club

Leaf on Bold Street was the first place I ever visited in Liverpool. It was over two years ago, and with the first sip of my tea I fell completely in love with Leaf, and with the city. It's one of the first places I recommend to those visiting for the first time, especially on a weekend when they have an amazing brunch menu, so I couldn't believe when I checked recently that I'd never actually blogged about it before. Last month for my birthday, following our new tradition of cafe trips for all occasions, Dave and I recently attended Leaf's popular Pudding Club, and it seemed like the perfect time to correct that oversight. 

If the name isn't enough of an explanation, Pudding Club is a series of special events where guests can enjoy 5 courses of dessert tasters, all paired with one of their loose leaf teas. Also known as the dinner of my dreams.  

I felt like my whole life had been leading up to this moment.

Degustabox Review June 2015

10 July 2015

For a while now I've been watching in envy as some of my favourite life and beauty bloggers review their monthly subscription boxes of new treats. Like an adult version of a lucky dip bag, I love the idea of being able to try out new products you might not have found otherwise. This month I finally got to join the trend, but instead of lipsticks, the lovely people at Degustabox* sent me a box full of food and drink to try. It was one of the best parcels I've had in a while and was absolutely packed full of things.

Brie and chorizo pasta with The Cheese Market

7 July 2015

Brie and chorizo pasta recipe

We all have things that never fail to make us feel happy and contended, regardless of what else is going on. There are some things that are just so good that you can never tired of them. For me that thing is cheese. It's something I always have to have in my kitchen,  it's good alone, it's great to cook with and even just a block of cheddar can make some incredibly exciting meals. So when The Cheese Market asked me to try out one of their cheese's I was pretty darn excited.

Rocket at Saltwater, Nottingham

4 July 2015

Despite being a big fan of 'sharing' style foods and more casual dining, I've never really gotten around to trying out tapas. So when Rocket at Saltwater invited me along to their #BloggersatRocket evening in Nottingham for some tapas, cocktails and blogging chitchat, I was really excited.

Jam Jar Sponge Cake

24 June 2015

Jam jar sponge cake

If you've ever had a Pinterest account, then you've probably seen all manner of things made or presented in jam jars. From outdoor lighting and makeup storage to layered salads and recipe kits, the humble jam jar really captured the internets attention over the last couple of years. And while some people will ultimately complain about the 'trend', on the whole, I'm still not bored of it. Aside from how much better my collection of jars are for storing food than the rubbish plastic or paper packaging most of my baking supplies are purchased in, I like seeing people be creative with everyday things. Twitter might be demanding that it 'wants plates', but I want food, and life, to be a bit more fun.

La Bottega Delitalia, Lincoln

19 June 2015

La Bottega Delitalia Lincoln

If you walked past La Bottega Delitalia for the first time, you might think it didn't appear to be anything special. It's not somewhere I really noticed my first few years in the city, it doesn't resemble the slick, bars and 'trendy' restaurants that fill the big cities, and it definitely isn't part of Lincoln's more upmarket (read: expensive) food scene. The shop front is a little old, and as my dining partners Katy and Jack pointed out, they're made some 'interesting' font choices with their branding but for people who can get past the exterior, La Bottega Delitalia is known to be a 'hidden gem'.

Blueberry Chocolate Tart

16 June 2015

Blueberry and dark chocolate tart recipe

One of the things I love most about baking or cooking in general is that no matter how much I learn of the science of it, no matter how good I think I've got at guessing what will go together, there's still a kind of mystery, of magic to the process. Sometimes things I've made a hundred times or that seem like they should really work go wrong - I was talking to Ellie from Ellie Bee Bakes recently who agreed and said she has a three strikes rule for recipe development where after 3 goes she just accepts that it isn't going to turn out how she thought. But on the other hand, sometimes things just work. Sometimes a kind of weird magic happens during baking or assembly and something I've had doubts about or have thrown together in a sort of 'well it'll do for now' manner, will just work perfectly. This chocolate and blueberry tart, just works.

Kitty Cafe, Nottingham

12 June 2015

I’m not sure a scale even exists that could measure how excited I was when I found out a cat cafe was opening less than an hour away from where I live. I've become somewhat of a crazy cat lady in training recently so any place that actually sees that as a good thing, is a place I want to be. And as I've mentioned in the past, I'm not the only cat lover around so when mine and Dave's anniversary rolled around last month I couldn’t think of a better reason to visit. Our shared love of both food and cats are pretty big parts of our relationship, so combining the two seemed a perfect way to mark the occasion.

Liverpool Sound City 2015

8 June 2015

Remember months ago when I said I was going to start sharing some more lifestyle and travel based things with you? Well I finally did something that didn't revolve entirely around food (although still a little bit). So something a little different on the blog today, I'm going to indulge my post festival blues for a bit and tell you all about our weekend at Liverpool Sound City.

I'd heard a little bit about Sound City before from its previous incarnation at various city centre venues, but 2015 saw the festivals first time at new home on the Bramley Moore Dock and my first time in attendance. Sound City is a city based festival, so there's no camping, and with Dave currently living only a short drive away we were lucky that we didn't need to spend on a hotel. At only £65 for a 3 day ticket, and with headliners The Vaccines, Belle & Sebastian and The Flaming Lips, it was an experience we really couldn't resist.

Surprise Inside Chocolate Cupcakes

27 May 2015

Surprise Inside Flowerpot Chocolate Cupcakes

So I feel like it’s been years since I did any real baking. It’s been well over a month since the err, interesting, adventure with the gin macarons, and with plenty of coffee shop dates filling up my weekends lately, our quota for cake has been pretty full. But when Dr.Oetker invited me to try out some of their new ‘surprise inside’ cupcake centres, I couldn’t say no. I knew straight away what I would be making, this would be the perfect chance to get out my apron, my novelty cupcake cases and get my ‘mojo’ back.

The surprise inside range are cupcake fillings (available in chocolate, lemon and salted caramel) that come in their own little squeezy bottles designed to make filling your cakes even easier. I’ve never made filled cupcakes before, regular ones have always done just fine, so I was excited to try these out for two reasons. Firstly, if the fillings tasted nice, it would save tons of preparation and cooking time in future by not making them from scratch (time that could be better spent eating all the leftover raw cake batter, amiright?) but even more importantly, not having to cut the cake open or use a piping bag means no extra mess or washing up. And I hate washing up.

Summer Cocktail Ideas with Oddka

16 May 2015

I think the true sign of British Summertime beginning isn't marked by a calendar, or clocks changing or even really the weather. It's noted by the nations sudden urge to drink alcohol outside all day. It doesn't even have to be that warm. It might be four degrees outside but if we think Summer has arrived, we're having a barbecue damn it, because that's what Brits do. 

Knowing this change was arriving and my weekends would soon be filled with picnics and beer gardens (or more likely crying while I watch thunder storms happen outside), I recently enlisted Dave's help to spend an afternoon with me testing out a few cocktail recipes and this is some of what we came up with.

The Tower Hotel, Lincoln

6 May 2015

Despite proclaiming it as the greatest food invention ever at Christmas, my opportunities for afternoon tea have been disappointingly sparse this year. So when Katy, my favourite northener came to stay with me in Lincoln this week, it seemed a perfect time to rectify this and spend an afternoon catching up over tea and cake.

Mexican Eggs Benedict

25 April 2015

I mentioned a while ago that brunch is one of my favourite things lately. A good breakfast is the best way to start the day, but it's not something I have much time for in the week so when we get the time to cook a proper breakfast or brunch, it always feels quite special. I particularly love making it at home because food is one of my favourite ways to show the people I love how much I care and I think friends and family always appreciate the gesture of some good, home cooked food to start off the day.  It gives us some time to sit down together and really connect before everyone goes and does their own thing for the rest of the day. So it might seem twee, or overrated, but for me brunch is pretty much the best meal. Or at least in joint first place with cake. (If anyone has any breakfast cake recipes send 'em my way please!)

Stur Natural Water Enhancers

21 April 2015

Stur water enhancer clearly cranberry and pomegranate

I never used to have a problem with drinking enough water. When I lived with my parents, we always kept our fridge full of bottles or jugs of water ready to drink. Then I moved to uni, and my first day there I was pretty convinced there was something poisonous running through the taps in my new home. I'm not joking. I lived with four other girls and we had to leave a note for our neighbours asking if their water was 'weird as well'. Even once we'd cleared some of the gunk that had been in the taps while the flat was empty, the water in Lincoln still looked and tasted wrong to me. I'm not going to bore you talking about the difference between hard and soft water but we'll just say there is one, and so for the last few years of living here, drinking tap water (without filling it with sugary juices) has been a real problem for me.

Rose Gin Macarons

12 April 2015

Rose gin macarons recipe

It's a funny old thing blogging. It can sometimes put an enormous pressure on everything you create or do, even if that pressure is only in your own head.  Sometimes the best tasting food I make, is the least attractive, or doesn't sound exciting enough, or trendy enough and it never makes it onto the blog. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes

8 April 2015

Red velvet cupcakes

I seem to developing a bit of a habit for being very very late to the party with popular foods. It’s not like I’ve not been aware of them, I just always feel like things are probably being over hyped and I don’t need to rush out and try them. I did it with macarons, I did it with avocado, and I did it with red velvet cake. Well this is me officially renouncing my old hipster foodie ways, and saying that actually, sometimes foods that are on-trend, are actually pretty good.

Earl Grey, Orange and Chia Seed Cake

18 March 2015

Earl Grey and Chia Seed Cake

When we were in London last month we stumbled across one of the East India Tea Company shops. I'd heard of the brand (they must be one of the most famous names for tea in the world, surely?) but didn't actually know anything about them so we decided to take the opportunity to find out. The shop was amazing, we were surrounded by high shelves of different blends of tea and there were small glass teapots keeping warm above candles next to some of the shelves. One of the assistants spent some time with us talking us through just a few of the different options available and letting us try small tasters of a few and smelling the leaves of others. My favourite, was an earl grey with orange which we sampled together with some of their earl grey chocolate so that both would melt in the mouth together - a brilliant experience. I'd really only ever seen earl grey with lemon hints before but the orange brings an extra depth to the tea while still keeping it refreshing and fragrant. It's a subtle difference but one I was really taken with.

Epicured, Liverpool

11 March 2015

I've written a lot recently about my love for coffee houses and quirky cafes, but I usually opt for something pretty understated and homely when choosing a venue for a tea or brunch. The recently opened Epicured is quite the departure from the traditional tea shops that I'd usually be found in on a day off, but it's quickly taken up a special place in my heart.

Lemon and Chilli Chicken Pasta

8 March 2015

Lemon Chilli and Chicken Spaghetti

I love spending hours in the kitchen trying new cake flavours, making breads or learning a pastry technique. But like most people, weeknights are not when I want to indulge this hobby. Weeknights are when I want to get straight into my PJs and binge watch whatever the latest fad tv show is or discuss my favourite animals I've seen on the internet that day. I also share a kitchen with three other people and we all arrive home starving in the evenings so it really wouldn't be fair for me monopolise the oven to slow cook complicated meats all night long. I've been determined recently though not to fall back into student eating habits and avoid ready meals and takeaways as much as possible, so I've been revisiting some of the quick 'midweek' recipes that have been successful for me in the past.

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, London

3 March 2015

 Part 2 of our recent London adventure, and the primary reason for our trip, was that we finally managed to visit Lady Dinah’s Cat Cafe. This month they’re celebrating their first birthday and pretty much any time last year that I’d tried to get tickets they were always fully booked as they only go a couple of months in advance. Our love for cats has always been a bonding point for us, and both Dave and I moan several times a week about not having one of our own yet so when I saw some spaces available for just a few days after his birthday, I quickly snapped them up. 

Borough Market, London

22 February 2015

Since moving to Lincoln five years ago, I've gone from visiting London every two or three months, to visiting only every two-three years. In all honesty, I hadn't really been missing it. I've been so enamoured recently with northern cities and as the last few times I'd passed through it had been for two of the worst job interviews/days of my whole life, I wasn't in a rush to get back. But a couple of weeks ago for Dave's birthday, we decided it was time to get out of Lincoln for a bit and spend a day rediscovering our love for the capital. Spoiler alert, London is well and truly back in my good books  thanks to a full day of amazing food, much of which happened at our first stop of the day, Borough Market.

Afternoon Tea at Bunty's Tea Room, Lincoln

12 February 2015

Buntys Lincoln Scones

I'm not exactly sure how I lived so much out my life without the excitement of afternoon teas but after trying my first one at the food bloggers meet in December, and then seeing so many amazing afternoon teas on Emily's blog recently, I was desperate for another round. I'd been hearing pretty good things about the one Bunty's Tea Room for a while now so when Dave and I finally had a free afternoon recently we decided to give it a go. 

Bunty's is a 'traditional' vintage inspired tea room with a very 40s/war time feel. It's very pretty inside and has a strong sense of their 'brand' but unlike some similar tea rooms I've seen it manages to stay away from being too gimmicky or kitsch (no one is in costume which was a good start). It's near the top of Lincoln's Steep Hill, a few minutes from the cathedral and castle too which combined with Lincoln's growing vintage scene means it fits in really well. 

St Martin's Coffee, Leicester

5 February 2015

I've always had a bit of a 'thing' for coffee shops. Growing up, there was nowhere local to me that I could get a coffee except greasy spoons and McDonald's and at home we drank one kind of tea and instant coffee. So as a teenager, when we'd visit larger cities and I'd occasionally be treated to a Starbucks or a Costa coffee (stick with me here) I thought it was magical. I was fascinated by the creatives, hipsters and fashionable people ordering their complicated beverages. 

When I got to University, these places became regular haunts for me and my friends. We even got to know some of the staff in a few of them and I’m probably not exaggerating to say they took a solid 30-40 percent of my student loans, especially as a first year student when I lived less than a minutes walk from the city centre. 

Orange and Brandy Cake

1 February 2015

Orange and Brandy Cake

After several unsuccessful baking attempts recently (including a disaster with one of my mothers recipe books after christmas that has made me question whether published books actually test their recipes), I was so pleased last weekend as I placed the last walnut on top of this beauty.

Dragonfly Tea Review

28 January 2015

If you've been on this blog before (and seen any of these recipes) you might have noticed that I rather like tea. Yes, like most of Britain, I firmly believe that tea solves everything. It's the first thing many of us want in the morning, the first thing we offer someone when they visit our home or workplace and our first thought when someone nearby needs comforting. Tea, whichever blend you chose, there is nothing quite like it. 

So when Dragonfly Tea* sent me a box of their organic tea bags to try I was thoroughly excited. 

I wasn't immediately struck by the packaging, the white boxes are a little plain compared to some other teas I'd tried recently but I really like the dragonfly logo who appears in different colours on every box. For three of the teas I recieved, the bags were individually packaged, which I love. It makes them perfect for taking to work with me or as someone who can't stand certain varieties of 'ordinary' tea bags, I can keep some of these in my handbag for visiting friends or family (I already take my own tea when staying with my parents so this wouldn't be as offensive to them as it might sound).

NoLita Cantina, Liverpool

17 January 2015

So I'm a really big fan of planning everything in advance and when things change last minute or get cancelled, I'm definitely not much fun to be around. At all. Especially if it involves food. If I have my heart set on some food, whether it's visiting a particular venue or cooking something new at home, and it doesn't go as planned, then I am crushed.

During the Christmas break we set an entire day aside to travel and visit a new restaurant for brunch. But when taking another look at their menu the night before we realised that it menu didn't quite line up with the opening times on the rest of the website and after a quick tweet and were disappointed (understatement) to be told (a little rudely I felt but that's a different issue) that they weren't actually serving brunch at all that day. This probably seems like an overreaction but I really, really, like food you guys (#sorrynotsorry).

G & Tea Cocktail

1 January 2015

G & Tea Cocktail

I spotted this G & Tea drink in M&S a few weeks ago while doing some last minute Christmas shopping. I don't usually buy pre mixed cocktails but this one I could not resist, especially after seeing it appear in Jaye's tea cocktails post this week. It contains pretty much everything I could ever want in a drink - gin? check! tea? check! a pun in the name that I found far more amusing than I really should have? that's a definite check! unnecessary amounts of edible glitter to help you show all your holiday guests how fun and whimsical and festive you are? check! I never stood a chance.

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