Saturday, 18 April 2015

Recipe: Blue Cheese & Bacon Twists

I'm not going to lie, I feel pretty duplicitous calling this a recipe... 

I would say that what lies below is more of a loose set of guidelines to combine three very tasty things - pastry, bacon and cheese.

Lets say you get invited to a party last minute - you know the kind where there is an expectation to bring food, homemade food.

Inevitably, there will be some kind of unspoken competition regarding who has made the best quinoa-kale-tabbouleh-harissa cake (N.B. I love and use all of those things, though maybe not combined in a cake...)

I'm all for low stress when it comes to cooking for others, which I why I always stick to simple and fuss free recipes that most people will enjoy.

The thing is, making something tasty isn't hard when you have good quality ingredients to start with! Barring total disaster - Blue cheese and bacon twists fall exactly into this remit. You're simply adding a few good things into another good thing, then twisting!

A few weeks ago, this recipe really came to my rescue when I was invited to a friends party and had literally no time to make anything. I actually ended up making them half an hour before I was due to leave for said party!

I can also confirm that is is an easy recipe to make whilst 2 (ok maybe 3) glasses into a bottle of red!

Any type of hard/ish cheese can be used here, especially as you and sandwiching it firmly into the pastry, which means it can't escape!

I actually had a small block of Yorkshire made Shepherd's Purse Yorkshire Blue in the fridge, which worked perfectly all crumbled up!

Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe

All you need is:

A 500g pack of puff pastry

Approximately 1 pack of streaky bacon, preferably from high welfare sources (6-8 rashers, this can also be omitted for a veggie cheese twist!)

100g Blue Cheese, chopped up into small chunks.

A little plain flour for dusting

1 free range egg to glaze (can be omitted)

The "method" couldn't be simpler!

1. Roll out your pastry into a rectangle approximately 1/2cm thick. This should be easy as it is already a square block!

2. Cover this rectangle of pastry evenly with the blue cheese, just sprinkle it on right over, don't be worried about getting a perfectly even coverage.

Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe

3. Fold the pastry in half, trapping the blue cheese in the centre, then roll it out again to another rectangle 1/2 cm thick.

4. With the long side facing you, lay out strips of bacon across horizontally, covering the entire surface.

Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe

5. Cut the pastry into strips between each bacon slice, as seen above. If you want shorter, "party size," twists, cut them in half again horizontally.

6. Pull each strip off and twist until each one is tightly curled.

7. Place the twists onto baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper (you may need 2 or even 3 trays!.)

Blue cheese and bacon twists

8. Glaze with the beaten egg and bake in a 200C oven for 20/25 minutes, until the twists are golden brown.

Blue cheese and bacon twists

Once out of the oven, the only thing left to do is resist the urge to eat them all before you get to the party....

Oh and they will also handily keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container in the fridge!

I hope you enjoy! Do let me know if you try them at home, especially after wine ;)

Audacity of Food

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Introducing: Tarte & Berry

It's becoming more and more obvious that Yorkshire is carving a name as a foodie destination and as a hub for many unique food businesses! Though I am not a native of the region, I am hugely passionate about my adopted home. 

Through my Introducing series, I want to help showcase some of the amazing producers that the North East has to offer and hopefully spread the Yorkshire food message further afield.

I am delighted to start this off by introducing a wonderful business from my home city of York, Tarte & Berry!

Founded by two sisters, Jane and Lucy, Tarte & Berry offers indulgent baked treats, using only quality ingredients such as free range eggs, British butter and sugar, with no additives in sight.

Their range includes Salted Caramel Brownies, decadent Raspberry and Almond Bakewell Bars and Dark Chocolate and Butterscotch Caramel Flapjacks, all of which are handmade!

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
Jane (L) and Lucy (R)
I was actually lucky enough to meet with the sisters and wasted no time in asking Jane and Lucy to tell me a bit more about the story behind Tarte & Berry.

Jane - I actually originally completed a degree in business management, but also had a real interest in baking and wanted to run my own business.

I was working in sales and marketing in Leeds, when I saw advertised online a Cordon Bleu cookery course at the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Surrey.

I actually left my job to go down to Surrey and absolutely loved the course, after that I went to London and worked as a pastry chef, as I just loved the pastry and baking side of things.

I did however become quite homesick whilst in London and started thinking about coming back up north.

Lucy - During this time I was based in Leeds working in marketing and PR, but also knew there was something else I wanted to be doing

Jane - On the back of these factors, we decided see if we could start a business ourselves, so last summer we set up Tarte and Berry, starting with festivals and shows and see what the response would be.

We actually started out with lots of different cakes, but quickly found that brownies and tray bakes were the most popular!

We then down the route of having an online shop, which has only been going a few weeks, the response has been great! We've got big plans and lots of shows booked for the next year, which is really exciting.

We also have a six week slot at Trinity Kitchen in Leeds, as part of their pop up food area, starting in June. So there’s a lot to plan for with that!

Alongside success online and at shows, Tarte and Berry have also been recognised by other organisations. In November 2014 they received a BBC Good Food Producers Bursary Award and in January 2015 they won a Small Business Sunday Award. 

I wanted to ask what the the impact has been of winning such prestigious awards so early on in their business journey.

Jane  - Winning these awards has massively helped with our exposure and social media following, which is so important now for any new business. It also helps grow customer confidence in us too, as we have been externally recognised for our products!

As part of the BBC good Food award, we were able to exhibit at their winter show at the NEC in Birmingham, which is a huge venue!

We didn't even know how much to bake, we actually ended up taking over 2000 items of produce for the four day event, which was the biggest show we have ever done.

I also wanted to know how both Jane and Lucy's previous commercial experience had helped with developing and growing their business.

Lucy - It really does make a huge difference, as you just know the way things work, how to pitch to retailers and what they are looking for.

Jane - Also being professionally trained as a chef really is important, as alongside producing the best quality products, it is also a real point of difference and makes a great talking point with customers.

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food

Jane and Lucy very kindly provided me with a couple samples of their Salted Caramel Brownie and Raspberry and Almond Bakewell Bars to try for myself.

The brownies were extremely moreish and rich, with the perfect balance of sweet and salty. The texture was also great, as they had a slight crunch to the top, but importantly inside there was an abundance of fudgey, gooey brownie goodness.

I surprised myself, because whilst I am a HUGE brownie fan, I actually thought the Bakewell Tarts were even better (this is kind of a big deal, because I always choose brownies over and above everything else.) They were just wonderful, with a crisp buttery base and a lovely tang from the raspberries.

After interviewing Jane and Lucy, I stumbled across their stall a few weeks later in Wakefield, which gave me another chance to get my hands on a Bakewell! 

Want to try for yourself? You can shop Tarte & Berry online here.

Find Tarte & Berry at these events:

Bishop Auckland Food Festival, Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th April

Harrogate Spring Flower Show, Harrogate Showground, Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th April

Malton Food Lovers Festival, Malton Town Centre, Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th May

Leeds Loves Food Festival, Friday 5th to Sunday 7th June

Leeds Trinity Kitchen Sunday 14th June to Sunday 26th July

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
A tray of fresh salted caramel brownies - the smell was AMAZING!!
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
The packaging neatly fits through letterboxes, which is a great touch!
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
Raspberry and Almond Bakewell Bars
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
I  managed to see the ladies in action on a Tarte & Berry stall at the Wakefield Rhubarb festival!
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
And of course could not come away empty handed....

Audacity of Food

Friday, 10 April 2015

Recipe: Baileys Chocolat Luxe Cake

This is not a sponsored post surprisingly! Well unless you're counting sponsorship from my mother, who kindly gave us a bottle of Baileys Chocolat Lux last time she visited.

I'm not really a huge fan of cream liqueurs if truth be told... The only time I might be tempted to have a small measure would be over Christmas, when a small amount of the stuff isn't exactly going to make a difference in decadence levels!

I have however found that Baileys and other cream liqueurs are an extremely valuable resource to turn to when baking, adding both richness and moisture to recipes.

baileys chocolate lux cake recipe audacity of food

I recently turned to the bottle of Chocolat Luxe lurking in the cabinet to provide some cakespiration for a chocolate themed Clandestine Cake Club event (if you want to find out more about cake club, head on over to this post.)

Despite turning to Google, I was unable to find a recipe for a cake which used this particular type of Baileys, so I decided to tweak some conventional recipes in order to include it. It seemed fairly logical to find recipes which used milk and replace this with the Baileys!

The cake recipe here is actually a version of Mary Berry's Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake from 100 Bakes and Cakes. The Icing is an adaptation of the frosting recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

I was extremely pleased with the sheer amount of booze that I packed into this cake (the measures I have described in the recipe below may have been slightly enlarged in my version....)

baileys chocolate lux cake recipe audacity of food


Kitchen Equipment

2 X 20cm cake tins

Free Standing Mixer (optional)

Electric Whisk (optional)
For the Cake

50g sifted cocoa powder

6 tbsp boiling water

3 large free range eggs

50ml Baileys Chocolat Lux

175g self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

100g softened unsalted butter

275g caster sugar

For the Icing

400g Icing Sugar, sifted

130 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

50g Cocoa Powder, sifted

50ml Baileys Chocolat Lux

Cocoa Powder to dust


1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line two 20cm cake tins 

2. Cream together the butter and sugar for the cake mixture by hand, or use a freestanding mixer (and save your wrists!)

3. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth, add this to the butter and sugar and combine well.

4. Add the rest of the cake ingredients and beat until you have a smooth batter.

5. Divide the mixture equally between the two tins and bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake is well risen and springy.

6. Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour, as any residual heat may make your icing fall off - this is a mistake I made once and never again....

7. To make the icing, beat together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter using your chosen method (mixer, electric whisk, or by hand)  until everything comes together.

8. Add the Baileys to this mixture slowly, a small drizzle at a time and continue to mix until it has been fully dispersed through the mixture.

9. Beat the icing for a further 5 minutes until it is fluffy and malleable - the longer you beat it, the airier it becomes!

10. Sandwich together the two cake halves using approximately 1/3 of the mixture. Then use the rest to top the cake, as you can see below I attempted some artful swirling - I'm sure you can do better than me though!

11. If you like, you can finish by dusting the cake with a little sifted cocoa powder to get the effect shown below!

baileys chocolate lux cake recipe audacity of food

Do let me know if you try! Or if you have a recipe for me to use up the remaining half a bottle...

Audacity of Food

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Review: Fine Dining at Goldsborough Hall*

Goldsborough Hall,
Church Street,
North Yorkshire,

You may remember Goldsborough Hall from my previous post regarding the launch of their dining room.

After a lovely launch event, Des and I were kindly invited to come and experiencing dining at Goldsborough for ourselves! Needless to say, we were delighted, especially as I had fallen in love with the building and grounds.

Goldsborough hall is aesthetically everything you would expect from an 17th century hall - lavish, elegant and a touch imposing. The rooms have been beautifully renovated and as you can see, introduce themselves.

As we had already explored the 5* rooms on offer and tried some wonderful canapes during our last visit, our expectations were very high. We knew the location could certainly deliver, but the question remained whether the service and food would live up to the grandiose surroundings.

dining room at goldsborough hall
The Dining Room
dining room at goldsborough hall
The Library
We arrived at Goldsbrough to a warm welcome from the staff, who I must say are extremely pleasant and helpful.

Immediately it became clear that this was a night which would not be rushed, as we were directed to firstly take a seat in the library. Once we were comfortably seated, our drinks orders were taken and we were given time to view the a la carte menu from which we were dining from.

I personally loved this unhurried approach, as it gave us time to soak in the atmosphere, relax and properly make our choices from the menu. I imagine it might be annoying for those who want a quick dining experience, though this would not be the place to come for such a thing.

The wine list was suitably long with a wide variety of choices, we were also told that if required, the more exclusive bottles could be brought up from the house cellar. Even though they were certainly out of our budget, it was nice to be told about!

Along with our wine, we were also served a small amuse-bouche which consisted of a light lobster salad and chilli battered prawns with a subtle but present zing, these certainly sated our appetite for what was to come!

After enjoying this little taster and a glass of wine, we were taken through to the candle lit dining room.

Fine dining goldsborough hall

Our starters certainly delivered on expectation, in fact so often they are my favourite part of a meal! The combination of presentation and wonderful flavours indicated that these were dishes from an experienced kitchen.

Now I hope the following omission only serves to highlight how relaxed I became in the Library before dinner... I actually made the rather silly error of not noting down the menu, which is a pretty basic food blogger fail.

I therefore do hope you can forgive my slightly less than desired dish descriptions below, though I do feel that the pictures themselves show the quality and care that had been taken over them!

It is also worth noting that the menu is constantly changing, reflecting the seasonality of local produce and the dynamic direction the dining room has taken under Head Chef Paul Richardson-Mackie. So this post is therefore not a canonical guide to the menu, which actually makes it  lot more interesting to write (and hopefully read!)

dining room goldsborough hall
Pigeon with Breaded Quail Egg
Fine dining goldsborough hall
Home Smoked Duck with Pomegranate and Cherry
Next was the Chef’s choice intermediate course, which consisted of a succulently crisp piece of cod served on a tomato puree base.

Fine dining goldsborough hall

Our mains were well played again and extremely filling! My beef in particular had a wonderful depth of flavour, especially the oxtail pudding, which was yielding and tender.

Des' monkfish was certainly had the best visual appeal though! The mussel certainly added a touch of decadence. The fish, like the beef, was perfectly cooked and sensually engaging.

By this point we were fully immersed into the evening and were feeling wonderfully content. whilst there were other diners in the room, we were all a comfortable distance away from each other. This is something I often find lacking in many resturants - personal space! However at Goldsborough, we were suitably secluded on our table island.

Fine dining goldsborough hall
Pan Roasted Beef with Oxtail Pudding, Shallot Purée, Buttered Kale & Thyme Jus
Fine dining goldsborough hall
 Monkfish wrapped in Yorkshire Pancetta, Savoy Cabbage, Potato Gallete & Mussel Velouté
By the time it came to dessert we were almost stuffed, thank god for dessert stomachs though! My fondant was everything you could expect of a chocolate based dessert, rich, oozing and warm.

Des went for the traditionally British choice of bread and butter pudding, however at Goldsborough this came with a twist! The caramelised banana added a new dimension to what can be quite a bland dessert.

With our sweet cravings sated, we ended the meal on an extremely high note!

Chocolate Fondant
Fine dining goldsborough hall
Bread and Butter Pudding with Caramelised Banana
Fine dining goldsborough hall
One satisfied lady (also check out the fireplace!!)
I have no hesitation in recommending Goldsborough Hall after what we experienced! The food was superb and really did live up to our expectations.

If I was to be picky, my only comment would be that whilst the waiting staff are friendly and professional, at times they slightly walked over the line from attentive to overbearing. This is however a very small point and did by no means ruin the evening.

I mention it because the dining hall is such an intimate and romantic setting, meaning that intrusions are more noticeable at times. However this is still a dining experience in it's infancy and therefore I expect that over time, the staff will only become more attuned to their environment.

*Des and I enjoyed our meal on a complimentary basis. As always, my reviews remain unbiased and honest, regardless of their source!

Audacity of Food

Friday, 27 March 2015

Recipe: Super Easy Banana Oat Cookies

I'm having one of those days where I have relegated myself to moping about on the sofa, powering through already previously watched seasons of Mad Men, dripping with cold and feeling sorry for myself.

I would like you to imagine a scene where you have a massive cookie craving, but neither the energy nor willpower to get up and go to the shop. This ladies and gentlemen, was the exact pickle I found myself in.

The brainwave came when I realised that I might be able to make my own with minimal effort!

I managed to get myself off the sofa and walk the long 5m into our kitchen to see if we had any ingredients, but alas, we were out of flour. However I recalled seeing quite a few oat based cookie recipes floating about recently and knew I could work something out!

The combination  I came up with is both satisfying for a sweet tooth and rather filling. They definitely managed to cheer me up in my sick bed, so much so that I found the strength to muster together a few flowers to make the photos reflect the Spring sunshine I'm not experiencing outside.

Whilst this recipe is not exactly groundbreaking, it is amazingly simple and actually not *too* bad for you!

What I also like about it is that it would be easy to modify things - want some chocolate chips? No problem! Just whack them in.

You could add raisins, candied peel, lemon zest.

Substitute the banana for 2 tbsp of peanut butter if you like!

Had I not been pathetically suffering from my cold, I'm sure I would have been a bit more inventive myself.

As always, let me know your thoughts! I also love seeing pictures of recipes people try out at home.

Oh and if you know of any cold soothing tricks, I am open to any and all suggestions at this point....



200g Porridge Oats

50ml Vegetable Oil

1 medium Free Range Egg

1 very ripe Banana

2tbsp Apple Puree

1 tbsp Stevia or 2 tbsp Honey

1 tsp ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Vanilla Paste or Essence

The method for this is ridiculously simple and I mean less than 5 minutes preparation simple.

Just combine all the ingredients above in a large bowl and mix well.

Line a baking tin with parchment paper and take gold ball sized amounts of the mix between you hands to form small balls (I got 9.) Press down on the balls once they are in the tin to flatten them into a cookie shape.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 15-18 minutes until golden.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Woman Behind The Blog

This blog is chock a block with pictures of the food that I enjoy, however today I thought I would (mostly) put aside the culinary porn and give you all an insight into the person behind the blog.

I have been reading blogs since I started University in 2010 and have watched as the blogosphere has morphed from the personal musings of a few, to the mass commercial platform that it is now today.

I started reading blogs because I enjoyed hearing about others peoples lives, I liked seeing the world from different perspectives and being exposed to different lifestyles, cultures and even countries.

I think this interest in other experiences is actually what drove me to study History! I love reading biographies and autobiographies, especially of people who have led completely different lives to mine.

In this new age of blogging, I wonder if we haven't sacrificed the personality of blogging for the opportunity to profit from it. I'm getting kind of sick of reading about purely about products instead of people and their experiences of products.

After having this little rant, I felt is was highly hypocritical of myself not to attempt to personalise this post and show you guys some little snippets from my life.

I hope you enjoy!

Photography by Mark Woodward
The biggest thing in my life at the moment has to be my business, Vincent's Coffee.

I started the company shortly after graduating in 2013 with the idea of building a coffee brand which people could trust to offer the best possible coffee, produced with a conscience.

I'm extremely proud of the products we have developed and the team that I have.

When running your own business, every day is different and the highs and lows can be particularly emotionally demanding. However I'm so glad I stuck with it, as the future is looking pretty damn exciting.

Dramatic Hair Changes

The last year has been pretty dramatic in hair terms. 

The left hand picture is me in the summer of 2013, sporting a glorious, if not rather hard to upkeep, blond mop. Unfortunately due to my dark roots and extremely unruly hair, having my platinum hair long became pretty untenable, especially due to general breakage and frazzlement!

Mid 2014 I decided to go for the chop, and ended up with a short blonde pixie cut (yup I am standing outside the Louvre - just had to throw that pic in there.)

However alas, the blonde was not to stay. In October 2014 I decided to go back to my roots and went for the full cropped cut. As you can see from the first picture in this post, this is now slowly getting darker and growing out!

Nancy Puss (NP)

Nancy is a very new addition to our household, we actually adopted her last month from the local RSPCA centre!

She's a pretty special puss, as she is quite old and pretty much totally blind.

Her blindness this does not stop her from being an extremely affectionate and playful thing! Her current favourite game is "treat drop" which involves following the sound of treats falling on the floor.

Apparently it's quite hard  to rehome cats like NP due to their disabilities, however it's an extremely rewarding thing to do if you have the space and patience for a slightly unique cat!

As I write this post, she is currently curled up on the sofa with me (she has 2/3, I have a 1/3 - thats the right human to cat sofa ratio right?!)

Food Food Food

Even beyond the remit of blogging, food plays an extremely important role in my life!

I love to cook and am extremely lucky in the fact that I also have a partner who is a dab hand in the kitchen. We eat home cooked meals, made from scratch, pretty much most nights of the week.

Of course we do go out and get takeaways - I'm only human after all! But I'm extremely passionate about knowing how my food is prepared and where it comes from.

Cooking myself means that I can choose the ingredients I like and control how much extra salt/sugar/preservatives goes into each dish.

Living in York also means I am extremely lucky when it comes to eating out, literally a 5 minute cycle away there is a plethora of great restaurants, bistros, cafes and pubs.

And finally... the most important thing about me has to be my bang on trend style choices.

I hear ears are in right now.

Thank you for indulging me in this brief exploration into my life beyond blogging! 

I promise the next post is going to be a doozy - think fine dining and lots of deliciously tempting photos.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Wanderlust: Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3DY

As much as I want to go fully medieval all over this post, I will do my best to restrain myself....

Armed with shiny new National Trust cards, on a rather overcast and miserable March weekday, Des and I decided to get out of York and explore further afield.

We decided to head out towards one of the best preserved monastic ruins in the country, Fountains Abbey, which is situated a few miles south of Ripon in North Yorkshire.

I'll just give a short bit of historical context!

The abbey was founded in 1132 and remained a thriving monastic community up until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 (anyone who watched Wolf Hall - we have Cromwell to thank for this!)

The abbey then passed into crown hands, stripped of all it's wealth (it was actually one of the richest monasteries in the country!) and then sold into private ownership.

In the 18th century, the abbey became part of Studley Royal Estate and was incorporated into the beautifully landscaped Studley Royal Water Garden.

The site was acquired by the National Trust in 1983 and is managed in partnership with English Heritage.

In 1986 the entire Park was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO due to it's importance as:

"A masterpiece of human creative genius, and an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history."

The peace and tranquility of the whole site is striking

As we are still in March, we were one of very few visitors to the Abbey. However there are plenty of places to explore and hide away from the crowds, especially as there is the whole of the Water Garden and Studley Estate to explore!

What I love about visiting historical places, especially ruins, are all the little details that you can uncover - carvings, tiles, hidden passages and archways.

Latin Inscriptions in the Transept
The weathered sandstone is beautifully coloured!
The vaulted undercroft where food and provisions were stored
My life in the past few weeks has been pretty hectic and accordingly stressful, not that I should complain really, as this flurry of activity is due to lots of exciting business ventures!

It was amazing how relaxing it was just being outside in the countryside, surrounded by stunning views and architecture.

There's almost too much to see here, I recommend taking a full day in order to get round everything.

View from the water garden, looking back to the abbey

The first and only shot from my short career as a medieval model.

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