Newcastle Eats - Zucchini Pasta Bar

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There's been a wee bit of a buzz about Newcastle newcomer Zucchini since it opened a few month ago. Normally, I'm not one to give into blogger hype, despite being one myself.  I tend to rely on word of mouth, or simple proximity to where I am, at the moment hunger strikes.  For Zucchini, I had to make an exception as it just looked too good to ignore.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

I dragged Kris for a blustery walk into Newcastle after work one Saturday, with the lure of all the pasta he could eat and if he was good, a cake and beer too.  Zucchini is located on the 55° North roundabout, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Newcastle City Centre. 

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

The restaurant has a wonderful chilled-out vibe. Minimal decor with clean open spaces gives Zucchini a total relaxed atmosphere. I could very easily see me whiling away a couple of hours with a selection of nibbles and a chilled bottle of wine without a care in the world.  It's been a long while since I dined alone but I could absolutely see myself feeling very comfortable as a solitary diner here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

We started out with a few sides, a beer and a glass of white wine.  In my humble opinion every meal should be accompanied by some sort of bread and oil, and this sourdough was just the ticket.  The thick, chewy crust was a thing of wonder. I would have liked a trickle of balsamic but that's just me being a bit finnicky.  I chose the Grissini nduja with creamy Gorgonzola, I mean do I even need to say anything more?! I have the biggest soft spot for nduja and if I see it on any menu, I just have to order it.  Many times I've been disappointed by my choice, faced with either low quality or chilli flakes masquerading as nduja (I'm looking at you, Zizzi) but not today.  Look at that hunk of sexy, spicy sausage hiding under the crisp grissini. I was on cloud nine!  The best part about it, the sides were all a mere £2 each. I'm kicking myself for not ordering more.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

On to the star of the show, the fresh pasta; which is made and hand rolled on site, may I add.  I went for the Pappardelle Amatriciana (Guanciale, tomato, white wine & pecorino) which was delicious.  The pasta was perfect, with just the right amount of bite. The chunks of Guanciale hidden within the folds of pasta made a wonderful change from the usual piggy suspect, pancetta. 

Kris chose the simple Tagliatelle Cioa E Pepe (parmesan, pecorino & black pepper).  It was rich, creamy and deliciously decident.  I love pepper and it really was the star of this dish, adding a slight heated punch to every bite.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Newcastles finally has a decent pasta bar, read all about my visit here.

Despite being absolutely fit to burst, I just couldn't turn down a desert. At just £3 a pop, I'd be daft not to indulge.  I've heard amazing things about their Tiramisu, but sadly it sits right atop my most hated sweets list, so that was out of the question.  Instead I opted for the chocolate mint truffles which came with a cute little hairpiece, which upon closer inspection turned out to be a chocolate mint candy floss.  What a neat little addition.  

All in, our bill came to £22.80.  I simply cannot believe the amazing value that Zucchini is knocking out.  If you consider that only a few days previous I was in Unos (out of necessity, I was on the quayside and hungry for pasta) and paid £25 for two bowls of pasta and two Pepsis. Needless to say, I'll be back to Zucchini, time and time again.  Mine's a white wine and a chunk of nduja, if you please.

Zucchini
55° North
Pilgrim Street
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE1 6BL









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Confetti Birthday Cake

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One thing about being a baker is whenever a birthday or special occasion arrises, all eyes fall on you. Not that I don't love showering my loved ones in sweet treats, there's nothing more satisfying that watching someone you love enjoying something you've created. Ocassionally, it becomes a bit of a chore, a busmans holiday if you will. Then you remember you bloody love making cakes, and making people happy is awesome, so you whip up a ridic cute and ridic easy confetti cake. Take a bow, you're the confection queen (or king) once more.

This super cute confetti cake will be the belle of any ball.

Confetti cakes are so easy to make, it's simply a vanilla cake with a tonne of rainbow sprinkles baked into the batter to give a glorious, speckled surprise.  Sadly, the majority of British rainbow sprinkles are a bit rubbish, we can't use all the fun colours found in American sprinkles you see.  If you can, get your mitts on some super bright confetti sprinkles. TKMaxx is a great place to find imported ones.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get my little hands on any pots of fun so my cake is a little subtle. The brighter the sprinkle, the brighter the final result.

This super cute confetti cake will be the belle of any ball.

If you're feeling super lazy, or super chill, you can always utilise a box mix and stir in a few handfuls of sprinkles.  I promise I won't tell.


This super cute confetti cake will be the belle of any ball.

This super cute confetti cake will be the belle of any ball.


Confetti Cake


Ingredients
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 350g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 6 large, free range eggs
  • 350g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4tbsp whole milk
  • 150g rainbow sprinkles

  • For the frosting :
  • 250g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 450g icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4tbsp whole milk
  • rainbow sprinkles to decorate
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170C and line 3 9" cake tins with baking paper. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on a medium speed for 5 minutes until the butter is light and creamy. Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside. Turn the mixer down to a low speed and crack the eggs in one at a time. Once the eggs are fully Incorporated add half of the flour and mix to combine, add the milk and vanilla extract followed by the remaining flour and mix again. Stir through the confetti sprinkles.
  2. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tins and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown and the cake springs back when you touch it. Allow to cool in the pans for 20 minutes before removing them and placing on a baking rack to finish cooling.
  3. To make the frosting first mix the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and soft. Add the icing sugar, vanilla and 2tbsp of the milk. Turn the mixer on low and gradually increase the speed. Whip for 5 minutes, if the frosting looks too stiff add the rest of your milk. You may find you need a little more, just go steady until you reach a nice spreadable consistency.
  4. Spread the frosting on top of your first cake, top with the next cake and repeat. Pop your top layer on and spread the remaining frosting on top and bring the excess down the sides of the cake. Once you've covered the cake in a layer of frosting, grab a bench scraper and hold it against the cake, pressing firmly drag the scraper around the cake to remove the excess frosting and reveal the cake layers for a semi frosted look. Pile a little more frosting on top of the cake and make a nice little swirl. Sprinkle with a few more confetti sprinkles and enjoy.
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Classic Hummus

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Sometimes the simplest meal is the best, when Summer rolls around I can happily sit in the garden and devour a tub of hummus with a loaf of crusty bread.  I could eat gallons of the stuff, plain or flavoured, I'm an equal opportunity hummus lover.  I have to admit, usually I'm fairly lazy and just treat myself to a premade pot whenever I'm at the supermarket but when the weather is nice and I have an afternoon free to relax with a good book I like to make my own.  I really have no excuse, it's so very easy and much more delicious than the store bought version. 

Once you've mastered this classic hummus you can start experimenting with flavours.

Once you've mastered this classic hummus you can start experimenting with flavours.

Once you've mastered this plain, no frills hummus you can start experimenting.  Add in all kinds of weird and wonderful flavours to your pot of loveliness.  My favourite is red pepper and jalapeno or sweet potato, utterly devine.

Once you've mastered this classic hummus you can start experimenting with flavours.

Once you've mastered this classic hummus you can start experimenting with flavours.

If you prefer a creamier, smooth hummus you can peel your chickpeas.  This adds about 20 minutes to your preparation but results in the silkiest hummus around.  I rarely do this, but sometimes it is nice, as a treat.

Once you've mastered this classic hummus you can start experimenting with flavours.




Classic Hummus

Ingredients
  • 1 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2tbsp tahini
  • 1/4tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1tsp salt
  • paprika and olive oil for sprinkling
Cooking Directions
  1. Pop all of your ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blitz into a smooth paste. Scoop your hummus out and into a bowl, swirl the top with a spoon for a bit of jazz then drizzle with a little extra oil and sprinkle with paprika.
  2. Serve with veggies, flat breads or whatever you have around.
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Beer and Bacon Cookies

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Fathers Day is right around the corner, the shops are full of novelty socks and hilarious mugs sporting Darth Vader's face. If, like me, it makes your skin crawl to purchase such throwaway tat, then I've got you covered with a bad ass way to show your beloved dad the appreciation he deserves.  Take a simple chocolate chip cookie and pack it full of candied bacon and beer.  

Forget about the usual boring pair of socks, treat your dad to these beer and bacon cookies this Fathers Day.

It might sound like a bit of a strange combination, but trust me, these cookies are just amazing.  The beer keeps the bite light and chewy while the bacon adds the most delicious salty kick you've ever tasted.  I must have munched my way through a good four cookies before they even had a chance to cool down.

Forget about the usual boring pair of socks, treat your dad to these beer and bacon cookies this Fathers Day.

Forget about the usual boring pair of socks, treat your dad to these beer and bacon cookies this Fathers Day.

You might be tempted to skip the overnight chilling, but don't.  These cookies really benefit from that time in the fridge.  Without their little night time chiller session your cookies will come out mega flat and crispy. Not what you want at all. Keep em chewy and chill that dough.  Don't forget, as usual the dough can be frozen and stored in your freezer for 6 months. Freezer cookies are everyone's best friend.

Forget about the usual boring pair of socks, treat your dad to these beer and bacon cookies this Fathers Day.

Forget about the usual boring pair of socks, treat your dad to these beer and bacon cookies this Fathers Day.

Beer and Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Recipe slightly adapted from Donal Skehan)


Ingredients
  • For the candied bacon :
  • 250g smoked, streaky bacon
  • 4tbsp light brown sugar

  • For the cookie dough :
  • 275g light brown sugar
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large, free range eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4tbsp dark stout, I used a coffee porter
  • 475g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 300g dark chocolate, chopped
  • sea salt for sprinkling
Cooking Directions
  1. To make the candied bacon, preheat your oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Lay the smokey bacon on top and cover with the remaining brown sugar. Place in the oven for 20 minutess. Allow to cool completely and, slice into 2cm pieces and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the sugars and butter until light and pale. Break in the eggs one at a time, mixing between additions and pausing to scrape down the sides with a spatula. Mix in the vanilla extract and stout. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until just combined, mix through the chocolate chunks and bacon pieces. Bring the dough together and split into two chunks. Place each half on a sheet of cling film, roll up and form into a thick sausage shape, sealing the ends.
  3. Pop your sausages into the fridge and allow to chill overnight. The following day, take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap and slice each sausage into eight pieces. Place the slices onto a lined baking sheet, allowing room for spreading and sprinkle each cookie with a little sea salt.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C and bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown on the edges and ever so slightly pale in the centre. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Caramac Cupcakes

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As a child of the 80's I have eaten more than my fair share of Caramac bars.  The caramelised white chocolate candy was a bit of a sweetheart during the decade and you could find the iconic red and yellow packaged bars on most sweetshop shelves. Fast forward to 2017 and the beloved Caramac is almost unheard of. A retro treat reserved for people over the age of 30. Well guys, I'm here to tell you it's flipping delicious and you should hightail it to your local supermarket and treat yo'self to this sweet and caramelly delight.

A retro treat turned cupcake, Caramac's have never tasted so good.

As you've probably noticed by now, I enjoy transforming my favourite flavours into cute cupcakes, so of course Caramacs were always going to get the same treatment.  I've used a simple vanilla cupcake as the base with a simple switch, light brown sugar for caster.  This gives the most subtle caramel flavour, perfect when paired with the velvety Caramac frosting.

A retro treat turned cupcake, Caramac's have never tasted so good.

If you decide to give these, or any other of my recipes a whirl be sure to tag me in any photos you post. I love to see what you guys whip up.  Find me at Instagram Katie_Petlamb, Facebook and Twitter.  

A retro treat turned cupcake, Caramac's have never tasted so good.


Caramac Cupcakes

Ingredients:
  • 175g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 175g (3/4 cup) light brown sugar
  • 3 large, free range eggs
  • 175g (1.5 cups) self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 50ml whole milk
For the frosting:
  • 125g (1/2cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g (2 1/3cups) icing sugar
  • 100g Caramac chocolate
  • 1tbsp whole milk (if needed)
  • Caramac buttons to decorate
Cooking Directions:
  1. Heat your oven to 170C and line a 12 hole cupcake tray with liners. Set aside.
  2. The the bowl of an electric mixer whip the butter and sugar together till light and creamy, around 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time mixing between each addition. Add half the flour and mix, add the milk followed by the rest of the flour and the baking powder. Mix till combined the mix in the vanilla extract.
  3. Using an ice cream scoop fill each cupcake liner to 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes until risen and springy when touched. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to a baking rack to finish cooling.
  4. To make the frosting first melt the Caramac chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan 1/4 full of simmering water. Set aside. Mix the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and soft. Add the icing sugar and the melted Caramac. Turn the mixer on low and gradually increase the speed. Whip for 5 minutes, if the frosting looks too stiff add a splash of milk until you reach a nice piping consistency.
  5. Once the cupcakes have cooled fill a piping bag, fitted with an open star nozzle, with the Caramac frosting and pipe a cute swirl on each cake. Top with Caramac buttons or sections of the Caramac bar.
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