Garden Kitchen

I'm sure you all remember my last mouth watering post on the Garden Kitchen featuring their novel take on afternoon tea, the Garden Picnic.  I instantly fell in love with the place, everything about it just spoke to me so when I was asked to return and try out their main menu I accepted with appropriate glee.

Upon arrival Kris and I were shown to our table and offered to try one of their delicious selection of cocktails.  Sadly since Kris had the car he was unable to partake but that certainly wasn't going to stop me.  I ordered a delightful rum and blackberry cocktail served in a wee jam jar while my sober guest settled with his favorite Fentimans Dandelion and Burdock. 

We perused the menu carefully, there was so much I could have devoured with gusto, eventually I settled on the welsh rarebit followed by the garden vegetable risotto while Kris went for chorizo and prawn chowder followed by the garden burger.

Our starters were delicious beyond words but the mains were spectacular.  My risotto was studded with the welcome addition of almonds adding some surprising bite to what would normally be quite a smooth dish while Kris' burger was cooked to a perfect pink in the middle.

Upon finishing our meal we were too stuffed to indulge in desert so the lovely staff escorted us down to their newly opened Garden Shed to choose a cake and coffee to take home.  The Garden Shed is the little sister of the already super popular restaurant offering tea, coffee and delightful sandwiches and cakes to take away. Perfect for city folk always on the move.  I chose a slice of lemon drizzle cake while Kris surprisingly went for the chocolatest thing he could find, a snickers brownie.  Sadly I didn't get a chance to snap any pics of these as they were devoured in the car after an afternoon of looking at bedroom furniture but trust me, they were delightful!

If you ever find yourself in Newcastle, stuck for a good lunch I can wholeheartedly recommend the Garden Kitchen or for a more casual lunch on the go, Garden Shed.   Friendly service, fab food and a fantastic environment. This place really has got it right!

Slow Cooked Cola Pork


When I uploaded a photo of this delicious cola pork to Instagram yesterday I was inundated with requests for the recipe.  To be totally honest with you, this is probably one of the easiest meals I've ever made but easily one of the most impressive.  God bless whoever invented the slow cooker I say, meltingly tender pork is merely minutes preparation away, and you know, ten hours of cooking.  With this meal, the longer the better in my eyes.  I often pop this in the crock pot before I go to bed and shred it the next afternoon.

Slow Cooked Cola Pork

1.5kg pork shoulder, skin and fat removed
1 bottle cola
1 bottle barbeque sauce (I use Jack Daniels Smokey sauce)
2tbsp chipotle paste (I use Trees Can't Dance)

Cut the pork shoulder into two equal sized pieces and place into the slow cooker.  Cover the pork with cola until almost covered, leaving the top part poking out.  Cover the remaining visable pork with the bottle of barbeque sauce and chipotle paste, pop the lid on and set the cooker to high for ten hours.

After ten hours remove the pork from the sauce and leave to rest.  Place the sauce into a large saucepan and reduce by at least half depending on how you like your gravy, this could take up to 45 minutes.  Once reduced shred the pork and add it back to the sauce and stir to coat.  Serve the pork on lightly toasted buns.

Orange Blossom & Pistachio Cake

My it's been a busy week for us Brits hasn't it?!  At least, it has been for poor little me.  Markets to attend, Birthdays to celebrate, cake clubs to partake in, jubilee street parties to organise and last but not least a fierce cold to fight off.  All this in the space of a week has lead to a very tired Katie, the only thing to perk me up is knowing I discovered this gem of a cake.

I made this cake for the Newcastle branch of the famous Clandestine Cake Club movement currently taking the UK by storm.  The theme was English country garden and despite the fact you'd probably never find pistachios nor oranges in a typical English garden I felt it sounded too delicious to overlook.  To tie it into the garden theme I decided to crystallize some beautiful yellow roses to adorn the top of the delicious cake, but if you can't be bothered to paint flowers don't worry, this cake is just as yummy without them.  

Pistachio & Orange Blossom Cake
(from Bake & Decorate - Fiona Cairns)

For the cake:
175g unsalted butter, softened
100g unsalted pistachios, toasted
70g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
zest of 1 large orange
4 large eggs
70g ground almonds
2tsp orange blossom water

For the syrup:
Juice of 1 orange
45g golden caster sugar
1tbsp orange blossom water

For the frosting:
250g mascarpone
zest of 1 large orange
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1tsp orange blossom water
30g golden caster sugar

Preheat oven to 170C fan.  Lightly butter and line a 20cm springform cake tin.  Grind the toasted pistachios in a food processor till fine.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  In an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy and slowly add the eggs, one by one mixing between each addition.  If the mixture begins to curdle add 1tbsp of flour between each egg.  Fold in the almonds, pistachio and remaining flour followed by the orange blossom water.

Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 40 - 50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the syrup: tip the orange juice, sugar and orange blossom water into a small saucepan and heat till boiling.  Reduce the liquid until thickened and syrupy.

Immediately after the cake comes out of the oven prick it all over with a skewer and drizzle over the reduced syrup.  Leave in the tin till completely cooled.

Turn the cake upside down on a cake stand so the bottom now forms the top.  Beat together all the ingredients for the frosting and spread it on evenly with a palate knife.
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