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18 Oct 2011

Lunch Date @ The Town Wall

Last night Kris and I settled down in front of the TV for an episode of our favorite comedy show, How I Met Your Mother.  I'm a huge lover of Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel so I was always going to be a big fan, I may have forced it on Kris but hey, he makes me watch all sorts of rubbish so we'll call it even!  During last nights episode the gang go in search of a burger joint which Marshall claims makes the best burgers in New York City.  After thirty minutes of witnessing five people rush around New York eating dozens of burgers we were left for an intense craving for the meaty treat.  At that point we made a decision to go on a little lunch date, a search for Newcastles best burger, if you will.


We ended up in fairly new establishment, The Town Wall pub on Pink Lane.  I've frequented this place many times on the evenings, drinking myself silly with peach and strawberry beer but have never experienced their food offerings.  After hearing nothing but good things from our friends, we decided to give it a go.


The Town Wall is a cosy bar serving a healthy amount of fine ale, beers and spirits, they even have their very own brew, the Toon Waal Ale brewed specially for them by Wylam Breweries!  The food menu is nothing to be sniffed at too offering the usual pub grub but with some delightful twists such as the Proper Pub Platter with home made scotch eggs, sausage rolls and heaps of artisan bread.  Sometimes your day just isn't complete without a scotch egg!


I went for the wild mushroom risotto (my beef craving had subsided by then) while Kris stayed true and ordered the butchers burger with extra cheese.  I have to say, I wasn't expecting much from the risotto presuming the rise would come over cooked and the wild mushrooms would be replaced with chestnuts.  Well, I was wrong!  The rice was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of bite and the dish was studded with many different varieties of mushrooms.  The pesto dressing was a delightful addition, the only thing missing was huge shavings of Parmesan, but maybe that's just me.


Kris' burger was just what he was craving.  The patty was made from 100% beef so was served pink and perfectly juicy while the chips were crisp and fluffy.  What a combo!


I shall be returning to the Town Wall again soon and I insist you join me!

The Town Wall
Pink Lane
NE1 5HX
0191 232 3000

15 Oct 2011

Mini Cupcake Maker

When the lovely Joanna from Find Me a Gift asked me if I'd like to review a mini cupcake maker I jumped at the chance.  Cupcake makers are something I've always wondered about, do they work, do they produce yummy results, surely they can't be as good as making them in the oven?  Well, here was my chance to answer all of my questions...



When the cupcake maker arrived I unpacked it, stood back and did a little 'awwwh'.  It's super cute for a start, all pink and canny, which little girl wouldn't love this for Christmas?!  After the initial cute factor I read the instructions expecting there to be something rather complex to make the whole process unsuitable for a little person, I was wrong.  Everything about the cupcake maker is just so simple, a monkey could use it.  Oil the cavities, fill with batter, close the lid and wait.  That's it!


Six minutes later I popped the cupcake maker open to reveal seven adorable bite sized chocolate chip muffins.  They slid out of the cavity with such ease, it was a little satisfying if I'm honest.  Now, do they stand up to the taste test?  The answer is yes, moist and taste and ready in less than ten minutes.  What more could you want?!


I tried the cupcake maker with both mini liners and unlined and much preferred the unlined cakes.  They rose up larger and were real easy to pop out of their little moulds. Plus, you could stick em straight into your open mouth, chomp!


My verdict, the mini cupcake maker is the perfect gift for any budding baker this Christmas.  Just think, you could have a batch of warm muffins on the table in minutes perfect for those surprise visitors.  No mess, no fuss, just cupcakes!

12 Oct 2011

Pumpkin Brown Butter Cupcakes

Isn't the weather just perfect right now? Bright sun but the air has a delightful chill to it, it's starting to look a lot like Autumn finally.  Right now, there is nothing more comforting than sitting home, pot of tea on the table with a hunk of lightly spiced cake and a good book.  If, like me, you live in a house with few people you probably steer away from baking a huge cake unless you're expecting guests, this is where these cupcakes come in.  If you don't want to eat them right away, no problem.  Pop them in the freezer along with a bag of frosting and you have delicious cake every day for a fortnight!



These cupcakes take no time at all, no need to cream the fat and sugar together, no adding of milk and flour separately, just pop the ingredients into a bowl and mix.  The most difficult part of making these cupcakes is browning the butter, which is just so super simple.  Go for it!  

Pumpkin and Brown Butter Cupcakes
(Adapted from Martha Stewarts Cupcakes)

Ingredients: 
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for tins
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, cut into chiffonade (optional)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Method:
Preheat oven to 160C. Line a cupcake tin with some spooky liners. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sage, if desired, and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown. Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.
 
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, and brown-butter mixture. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
 
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

8 Oct 2011

Ampersand

When an old friend of mine recently posted an image of her wearing an ampersand pendant on Instagram I fell instantly in love.  Being English Literature graduates I think the necklace is quite fitting, I had to have one.  I set about tracking one down on Google and came across Isette, a lovely Etsy store described as "Design and Victoriana with a twist of whimsy".  After browsing through the array of beautiful necklaces on offer I eventually decided upon the Harrington Ampersand Necklace in Bamboo





I'm in love!

I will defiantly be returning to Isette in the future.  I have a huge soft spot for laser cut jewelry and the decorative nature of Isettes products are just stunning.  Next on the to buy list is the Villain Moustache Necklace, it's just too cute to resist.

4 Oct 2011

Raspberry & White Chocolate Blondies

As a final farewell (and good riddance) to the summer and, hopefully, this dreadful heat wave I decided to utilise the final batch of raspberries I had stashed in the freezer and whip up some raspberry blondies.  For a touch of luxury I used my last bars of Lindt Touch of Vanilla white chocolate, flecked with tiny vanilla seeds it took all of my will power not to just eat it straight out of the packet.


These are so lovely, the slight burning of the butter adds a delicious caramel flavour and the vanilla chocolate is so delicate.  Studded with crimson raspberries these blondies are perfect to see off the sun.  So, bake some blondies, enjoy the last of the heat and prepare your scarves and hats for the forthcoming chill.  Hurrah!

Raspberry & White Chocolate Blondies
(from BBC Good Food Magazine)

Ingredients:
200g unsalted butter , plus extra for the tin
150g white chocolate , roughly chopped
300g light muscovado sugar 
3 large free range eggs 
200g plain flour
¼ tsp table salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g raspberries

Method: 
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter, then line, a shallow rectangular tin, approx 25cm x 22cm. Melt the butter in a pan, then cook gently for about 5 minutes, until the white solids turn golden and the butter smells biscuity and sweet. Cool for 5 minutes, then add half the white chocolate and set aside for a couple of minutes to melt. Stir until smooth. 

Use electric beaters to whisk the muscovado sugar and eggs together for about 2 minutes until thick and pale. Tip in the flour, salt, cooled chocolatey butter and vanilla, then fold in with a metal spoon or spatula until even. 

Pour the mix into the tin, then scatter with the rest of the chocolate and the raspberries. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until risen all over, with a dark golden crust. Cool completely in the tin, then cut into squares.

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