Churros with Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce

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To me, churros are reminiscent of a good time.  A sunny day, having fun with your friends kind of treat.  I've never been sad with a churro in my hand.

Churros with a hot chocolate dipping sauce.  I know, right?!

That fist bite of churro is like nothing else.  They may look like squiggly doughnuts but that texture is something else, a crisp sugary shell hiding the silkiest, softest filling.  They're dangerously delicious and ridiculously easy to make, although I have no idea how people manage to make them perfectly straight.  I kinda like the wiggly wormies I managed to fry up.

Churros with a hot chocolate dipping sauce.  I know, right?!

The hardest part of this whole process is also the most fun.  The squeeze and snip! If you're not confident in doing this all yourself, drag in an accomplice.  You squidge the dough over the hot oil (careful now) while your frying buddy snips the dough to form lovely little crispy delights.  Giggling over the silly shapes you make is entirely optional. 

I highly recommend getting yourself a cooking thermometer for the frying process, it really takes the stress out of heating the oil and ensuring it maintains the correct temperature.  Mine was a grand total of £2.50, treat yourself!

Churros with a hot chocolate dipping sauce.  I know, right?!


Churros with hot chocolate dipping sauce

Ingredients
  • For the churros :
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1ltr sunflower oil for frying

  • For the sauce :
  • 250g plain chocolate, broken into squares
  • 150ml double cream
  • 75ml whole milk
  • 3tbsp golden syrup
  • For the cinnamon sugar :
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp cinnamon

  • Cooking Directions
    1. Start off by making the dough for your churros. Take 350ml of boiling water and add in the melted butter. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and baking powder before slowly pouring in the water mixture, stir as your pour to make a smooth, lump free batter. Don't be scared to give it a good beating, it can take it. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
    2. While your dough is resting, make the sauce. Take a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan and place all of the sauce ingredients in together. Melt over a low heat until you have a silky smooth sauce. Set aside.
    3. Back to the churros. Take a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan or I used a big cast iron casserole pan and fill half way with the sunflower oil. Place your thermometer on the side of the pan with the bottom in the oil and heat to around 375ºF/190ºC. Mix your cinnamon and sugar together and pour onto a large baking tray ready for rolling your churros.
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Salty Honey Pie

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When I visited New York earlier this year I made a big, no huge, list of places I wanted to eat.  You know, important things first.  One of the spots on my extensive foodie inventory was Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie shop in Brooklyn.  I've always wanted to visit a pie shop after falling in love with the Pie Hole in Pushing Daisies, so I was beyond thrilled to find this little beauty.  Doubly so when I discovered it was across the road from The Morbid Anatomy Museum, one of the big stops of our trip.

Salty Honey Pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pieshop

While indulging in copious amounts of pie I also managed to pick up a copy of the Four and Twenty cookbook, you know, so I could continue to indulge my greedy little face back home.  I decided to take it for a spin recently and just had to make their crowning glory, the salty honey pie.

This pie, ahh man, it's a sweet tooth's dream come true.  Deliciously sweet custard topped with a sprinkle of crunchy salt, it's just perfect.  Irresistible almost!

I've made this pie twice now, the first time I was feeling a little lazy and used shop bought pastry. Boo hiss.  It was a total failure, if you do decide to make this pie I implore you to make your own crust.  You won't be sorry!

Salty Honey Pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pieshop


Salty Honey Pie

Recipe by Four & Twenty Blackbirds Cookbook
Ingredients
    For the crust :
  • 120g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 360g plain flour
  • 2tsp caster sugar
  • 80ml buttermilk
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • For the filling :
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp polenta
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g honey
  • 3 large, free range eggs
  • 120ml double cream
  • 2tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 - 2tsp flaked salt

  • Cooking Directions
    1. First of all make the crust. Put the flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl blend together with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and stir until the mixture forms a ball. (If the mixture is too crumbly, add cold water as needed to bring it together.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
    2. Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s around 11" round, big enough to overlap your pie dish. Transfer the dough to a 9" pie dish, fold any overlap under itself and crimp the edges*. Cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
    3. Heat the oven to 175°C. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Combine the melted butter, sugar, polenta and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Whisk in the honey, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the cream and vinegar and whisk to combine.
    4. Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust and bake until the top and edge of the pie are golden brown and the center of the pie is jiggly but no longer liquid, 45 to 55 minutes. Allow to set for a few hours and serve at room temperature sprinkled with flaked salt. 

     *How to crimp a pie crust
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Cherry Amaretto Popsicles

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For as long as I can remember (in blogging years, anyway) I've had an American style popsicle mould on my wish list.  Not one of those god awful plastic things with spouts, so popular with sticky children, but a nice uniform mold with a metal lid and wooden sticks.  For the longest time I just couldn't source this desirable bit of kit, and I was forever tormented with images of perfect popsicles on Pinterest. Finally, after trawling through pages upon pages of multi-coloured monstrosities on Amazon, I happened across the mold of my dreams.  Popsicles, you're my wife now!

Prepare for an influx of frozen treats, don't say I didn't warn you!

Now, go get that bottle of Amaretto you've been hiding.  Grab yourself a glut of cherries and get freezing, I even promise not to judge if you use plastic kiddie molds.

Cherry Amaretto Popsicles

Me being me I just had to sneak a bit of booze in there, but if you're making these for little mouths, just leave it out.  They'll only be kind of delicious..... just kidding. 

Cherry Amaretto Popsicles


Cherry Amaretto Popsicles

Ingredients
  • 1 tin Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 2tbsp Amaretto
  • 1/4tsp Almond Extract
  • 350g Frozen Cherries
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1tbsp Amaretto
Cooking Directions
  1. For the white layer mix the coconut milk, sugar, Amaretto and almond extract in a large bowl and set in the fridge to chill for a few hours.
  2. For the cherry layer, place the cherries and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over a medium low heat for around twenty minutes or until nice and thick. Stir in the vanilla and Amaretto. Pour the cherry mixture into a blender and blend down till smooth. Set in the fridge for a few hours until completely cold.
  3. Starting with your cherry mixture, pour around 2cm of the gloopy mixture in the bottom of your popsicle molds and alternate with layers of the white mixture ensuring to leave around 1cm gap in the top of your molds. Give each popsicle a little swirl with a knife, place the lid on the mold and pop in the freezer for two hours. After two hours, slot in the popsicle sticks and return to the freezer till completely frozen. Around six hours.
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Newcastle Eating - Violets Cafe

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In the land of Newcastle Upon Tyne there's one thing that really gets me hot under the collar, and that's a new place to eat brunch.  Violets Cafe is the long awaited foodie venture of Abbie Atkinson, the wife of Michelin starred chef Kenny Atkinson of House of Tides fame, so you know it's gonna be good.  Nestled among the beautiful architecture of Newcastle Quayside Violets is sure to take the city by storm.  For the past few months I've been peering through the windows on my walk to work, excited for the day it would open its doors so I could feast my greedy little face.  Finally, I got my wish.

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

I woke up with the sun streaming through the window, cat scratching at the door and boyfriend still snoring away contently.  I closed the window, allowed my marauding animals access to the bedroom and shook Kris awake nice and early, for today, we brunch hard!

We're lucky to live right on the banks of the River Tyne so we left the car at home and took a sunny stroll into Newcastle. I'd already anticipated I was going to do some major damage, so burning a few calories on the way surely can't hurt.  Plus, beautiful days are few and far between up here, so we gotta enjoy these babies when we can.

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

We arrived at Violets with empty tummies, eager to be filled.  The breakfast menu is small but perfectly formed. Even though there were only around 8 options I found it super difficult to decide, everything just looked so delicious.  


A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

I finally settled on the buttermilk waffle with half an English breakfast, eggs poached of course, while Kris battled with indecisiveness over the bakers basket.  Much to my dismay he opted to ignore the heaving basket of delectable sounding pastries for another buttermilk waffle, this time topped with smoked salmon, avocado, poached eggs and hollandaise.  I guess that means we'll have to come back, what a crying shame!

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Just look at that avocado, dripping in foamy hollandaise.  Are you drooling, because I am!

Everything about our breakfast was just perfect, the sausage in particular was just delicious.  If I were to get this again I think I'd order a little pot of hollandaise or baked beans on the side, but that's probably just me being greedy again.

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Since Kris cheated me out of sticky, sweet buns we decided to round off an already indulgent meal with more coffee and a few slices of cake.  Why not, eh?!  Kris opted for the fresh out of the oven raspberry bakewell, while I went for my favorite lemon and raspberry drizzle.  

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

The lovely Abbie brought our cakes over and we had a nice little chat about how things are going for the Violets team.  I'm so happy that things are going well for the guys down there, their passion is undeniable and if you're knocking out meals like ours everyday I can see Violets becoming an amazing addition to the booming foodie haven springing up in Newcastle.  I, for one, am itching to sample the afternoon tea.  A cold glass of prosecco included, of course.

We left with two very full, very happy tummies discussing our next visit.  I can't wait.

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Sunshine and Pimms

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If there's anything that screams British Summer time its a nice cold glass of Pimms on a perfectly manicured lawn.  However, in my case I'll be enjoying it on a slightly balding garden with an annoying downward tilt.  Nothing a good old Pimms won't fix, I'll just close my eyes and imagine.

Pimms cocktail, the perfect sunshiney drink.

When TheBar.com got in touch and asked me to share a recipe for this traditional Summer drink I was delighted.  Normally I'd try and put my own spin on things but why tamper with perfection?  Although, I do have a hankering to turn this delicious cocktail into an ice lolly, more on that later...

Pimms cocktail, the perfect sunshiney drink.

The thing I love most about Pimms is the ease of putting the drink together.  It's just as simple to make a tipple for one as it is to make for ten making it the perfect drink to serve for a Summer garden party, weather permitting of course.  Mix up a few big jugs of Pimms and let the good times roll.

Pimms cocktail, the perfect sunshiney drink.

Pimms Summer Cup
Serves 1

Ingredients:
25ml Pimms Cup No1
2 Strawberries, quartered
Cucumber slices
Lemon slices
Sprig of mint
Ice
Lemonade
Ginger beer

Method:
Fill a tall glass with ice and add a few slices of cucumber, lemon and the strawberry quarters.  Pour over the Pimms then fill the glass half way with ginger beer, top up with lemonade.  Give it a little mix, pop a sprig of mint in the top and enjoy.

This is a collaborative post with theBar.com
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