Saturday, 22 November 2014

Ultimate Cafe - Preston - passionate about good food

A couple of days ago we were lucky enough to be treated to lunch at The Ultimate Cafe at Preston, this independently owned cafe (The Interesting Eating Company) is situated within the Ultimate Outdoors at the Deepdale Retail Park in Preston.

This unassuming cafe is the sister to a Cafe in Liverpool both of which are passionate about serving good food. The Deepdale cafe is spacious and decorated in a faux log cabin meets contemporary chic manner but the emphasis is definitely on the food. Pushchairs are welcomed and the little ones have their own menu so there is something for all the family.

We were pleased to note that time and trouble had been taken in sourcing some local produce and producers for the menu, Nichola (one of the co directors) explained that the bread is baked specially for them and they buy their sausages from an independent butcher. A wide range of drinks and beverages are available and takeaway is also available.

The menu is varied and features an all day breakfast and the in house speciality pancakes which you can find here and the menu also has plenty of choices for those who need gluten free.

After the browsing the menu whilst sampling the lovely coffee we plumped for a sausage sandwich , chicken broth soup with dumplings and a roasted vegetable pancake (GF) all to share.

The stand out dish for us was the soup, with an intense chicken flavour yet light. The sausage sandwich was tasty, the sausages juicy and the bread crusty and man enough to stand up to the filling. The Gluten free pancake was good and the vegetable filling tasty, all more than adequate for a cafe menu.

By this stage we were getting quite full so we decided to share a dessert, tempted by the great selection of cakes and treats on display we eventually chose the fruit meringue, made on the premises like most of the cakes (except the gluten free).

The Ultimate cafe is well worth a visit particularly when you are in the area and is a great choice whilst shopping rather than the other chain eateries on the retail park, situated on the first floor of Ultimate Outdoors its easy to find (and there is a lift), the prices seem reasonable for the product on offer and the team really want you to have a good experience whilst dining with them.

Our lunch was provided free of charge for review purposes, all views and opinions are our own.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Winter Warmers at The Cowshed, Buckshaw Village for South Lancashire Clandestine Cake Club


Yeah, cake club for our 25th meeting (wow that's a lot of cake !) of the South Lancashire Clandestine Cake club we paid a visit to COWSHED on Buckshaw Village, we had a supper turnout of bakers having 13 cakes in total all to our seasonal Winter Warmers theme.

Quite a few of the bakes featured interesting spice combinations and the bakers excelled themselves with their fantastic decorations. Travelling from far and wide we enjoyed ourselves on a wintry blustery afternoon in this funky coffee shop in the heart of the newly created village.

You can find the Cowshed on Barnes Wallis Way (of Bouncing Bomb fame) just behind the Tesco, there is parking just outside the door and lots more in the area. The coffee shop is open 7 days a week and late on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The coffee is amazing and the decor is great and suitably cow themed.

On to the cakes, what a wonderful selection including several which where gluten free and two amazing "Bonfire cakes".

Spice Raisin bundt cake by Helen F

Chili chocolate olive oil cake by Katherine

Lemsip cake by Caroline (Honey & Lemon)

Sticky Toffee cake by Carla

Bonfire cake by Helen B

Spice Coconut cake by Kate

Apple and Cinnamon loaf by Ange

Date Bundt Cake by Kate G

Plum cake with warm mulled wine syrup by Sarah

Bonfire Cake by Amanda

Also not photographed individually was a Ginger and Coconut cake (sorry Helen R) this is the large white cake with the Christmas Trees in the large picture and also my Ginger Zinger Cake which you can see here.

Internal shot of the Bonfire Cake by Amanda showing layers

If you are in the area the Cowshed is definitely worth a visit.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Roasted red pepper and garlic soup

Recently I managed to snaffle a couple of beautiful sweet pointed red peppers at the local shop for a bargain price, so as we love roasted peppers I decided to make a warming soup.

I love roasting red peppers as its really enhances the flavour of the pepper and intensifies their sweetness, We love them in our household even using them on rustic bread as a sandwich filling with a splash of balsamic and a couple of basil leaves to create an amazing flavourful vegetarian snack.

This soups uses the roasted pepper flesh along with a couple of  roasted garlic bulbs as the basis of a tasty hearty soup which is rich in antioxidants and all things good for you. Its also an amazing colour as you can see from the photographs.

What you need

  • 2 large red pointed peppers - split, seeds removed
  • 2 bulbs garlic - sliced across
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme
  • A little olive oil or virgin rapeseed oil
  • 1 white onion - peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium potato - peeled and diced
  • Vegetable stock ( I used Essential Cuisine)
  • Salt and Pepper - to taste
  • Creme fraiche or yogurt - omit if you want diary free

What you do 

  • Prepare the pepper and garlic and rub with a little oil before placing on a baking tray, strewn with some fresh herbs and a little salt and pepper
  • Roast for 20 - 25 minutes at 180c until the pepper skin is slightly charred and blistering
  • Remove from oven and cool fully on the tray
  • Once fully cool remove the charred skin from the pepper flesh and squeeze the garlic cloves to remove the cloves from the papery skin
  • In a large saucepan in a little oil saute the onion and the chopped potato for a few minutes, now add the roasted red pepper flesh and garlic cloves 
  • Add enough vegetable stock to cover the vegetables and simmer until the potato is soft
  • Blitz using a stick blender until you have a smooth consistency 
  • Add as much additional vegetable stock or water to thin to your preferred soup thickness.
  • Re heat and taste for seasoning
  • Serve swirled with creme friache or yogurt 

We are linking up to No Croutons Required hosted this month over at Lisa's Kitchen 

Extra Veg challenge hosted this month over at Fuss Free Living

November's family foodies hosted over at Eat your Veg 

Credit Crunch Munch hosted this month by My Little Italian Kitchen 


Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Highwayman Inn - Stand and deliver !

                                     Highwayman Inn

Yesterday saw our long awaited visit to the Highwayman Inn at Nether Burrow, near Kirby Lonsdale. We have now visited all but one of the Ribble Valley Inns, the gastro pub chain owned by Michelin starred chef Nigel Haworth.

Surrounded by stunning countryside the Highwaymann is just outside Kirby Lonsdale, situated on the borders of the three counties of Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire.The establishment is pretty easy to find, has car parking right outdoor the door and an outdoor eating area for summertime. Our welcome was warm and we were pleased to see that the fires were lit and dancing in the grates when we arrived, we were sat in the friendly hunting lodge style dining area in large cosy chairs ready to peruse the locally focused menu.


This being a Thwaites house Mr LF plumped for his favourite Wainwright and I ordered a Dandelion and burdock another favourite as the driver of the party. The pub has recently been the subject to a mini refurbishment and also recently had a new chef appointed to lead the team, Jason "Bruno" Birkbeck who has an excellent pedigree in the kitchen and is a local lad too, you may have seen him on Great British menu a couple of years ago.


The main menu features many Ribble Valley Inn classics, however we would point out that we found the specials menu a bit confusing (and we weren't the only ones !) as Mr LF really fancied the Hotpot but was disappointed to find it wasn't on the menu (or so we thought) and missed it on the specials as the menu wasn't divided into starters, mains and desserts. In fact we only found out it was on the menu after we had ordered when we heard two elderly gentlemen asking why the hotpot wasn't on the menu and a member of staff pointing it out on the specials. Minor point but a tad confusing.

So after perusing the menu we plumped for the classic nibbles knowing that the portions are generous in Ribble Valley Inn's, Ascrofts cauliflower fritters an old favourite which is served with curry mayonnaise and the homemade bread, rapeseed oil and treacle vinegar.

The fritters were delicious as expected, crispy light with a tender cauliflower floret in the middle and the curry mayonnaise with just the right amount of spicy punch to cut through the fritter.

The bread, oil and vinegar was acceptable, we did find the sliced white and wholemeal bread a little tasteless and pappy but enjoyed the rosemary and sea salt roll, the treacle vinegar was the standout part of this dish and is an idea I am going to be trying to replicate at home. The vinegar has a lovely tang and is great combined with the nutty rapeseed oil. 

So onto our mains, I chose the braised shoulder of Kitridding lamb, herb oatcake crust, root vegetables, potato pressing and confit swede and  Mr LF chose Steak and kidney pie, roasted root vegetables with real chips.

A delicious well balanced dish, I particularly liked the addition of the spiky aromatic red cabbage (Nigel Howarths signature red cabbage no less) which cuts through the richness of the lamb shoulder, the dish was well flavoured and the confit swede was lovely and gave a sweet savoury note.

As you know Mr LF is a pie connoisseur and nothing disappoints him more than when a pie is not a pie, he likes a pie with sides, so he was a little down heartened when his "pie " arrived as it was a pastry topped pot, the pastry however was good, nice and short with a little flake and well matched to the filling inside. The steak and kidney filling was tender and the gravy well flavoured if a little on the thin side. In fact a member of staff supplied him with a spoon so he could scoop the gravy out of the pot. His chips were pronounced as good but the roasted vegetables better. 

Desserts, I ordered the intriguing Sheep dip creme brulee, shortbread and Autumn berry compote and Mr LF plumped for the Forest Fruit cheesecake with pouring cream.

A lovely tasty dessert with just the right amount of crunchy topping, the shortbread was buttery and crumbly and the perfect contrast to the creamy creme brulee.

Forest Fruit Cheesecake, whats not to like, pronounced delicious by Mr LF, fruity yet creamy with a sharper berry top to cut the richness.

So all in all a good meal, the food was tasty and well made and presented, just a couple of minor niggles, but really all in all the same standard we have come to expect from Ribble Valley Inns. The staff were warm, friendly and attentive.

Our only other comments would that despite the recent refurbishment we did note a couple minor issues such as in the loos missing temperature buttons on taps, missing plugs and worn soap bottles. Very minor niggles but not something I have seen in other RV inns, this definitely won't stop us recommending a visit as the food is very good, reasonably priced and above all seasonal and local. 

The surrounding countryside is beautiful and you are well placed to visit the local attractions. So make sure you call in when in the area.

Our meal was provided on a complimentary basis but we were not compelled to provide a positive review and all thoughts and opinions are our own.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Chicken sweetcorn and tarragon chowder

For lunch on a blustery autumnal day this is the perfect soup, warming, comforting and frugal. I love chowder recipes as even though the resultant soup is creamy and rich there is actually no cream in the recipe.

The double addition of potatoes are the secret to a great rib sticking chowder and this recipe came about as I had some tinned sweetcorn and cooked chicken left in the fridge.I had recently cooked a whole chicken in the slow cooker so I also had a small quantity of rich chicken stock as well.

Easy to throw together so why not have a go at making this lovely soup....

What you need

  • 1 large white potato - peeled and diced. Retain 1/3 for later
  • 1 large white onion - peeled and finely diced. Retain 1/3 for later
  • chicken stock 
  • Milk or water
  • Tarragon - fresh a few leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tin of sweetcorn, drained, you could use fresh or frozen also
  • Cooked chicken - shredded
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A little oil or butter
What you do 
  • Heat a little oil in a large sauce pan and gently saute the 2/3rd's onion and potatoes until softened slightly
  • Add chicken stock and milk or water to the pan until the is about 1/3 rd full of liquid, simmer until the vegetables are tender and the potatoes break up easily.
  • Cool slightly then blend with a stick blender until you have a smooth liquid, you can add more liquid if necessary if the soup is very thick.
  • Add the retained onions and potatoes to the pan and bring back to simmer and cook until the potato chunks are tender, add the drained sweetcorn, shredded chicken and tarragon to the pan, simmer for a couple of minutes to warm the chicken through.
  • Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with warm crusty bread or traditional New England style with saltine crackers.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

November 2014 - Phil Keenan aka Foody Phil - Bite Network and

This months featured foodie is none other than Phil Keenan, who I first met several years ago on a Slow Food event - foraging for wild foods. Foody Phil is going to introduce himself in a break from tradition before answering our usual Quick bite questions. So over to Phil......

Although proudly born in Yorkshire, I've been ensconced in Lancashire for over 30 years now; brought up to appreciate good quality ingredients and tasty home cooked food, I'm happy to say that my migration has been made all the more enjoyable by being in a county and region that's home to such a fantastic array of fabulous produce… I love to cook, I love to eat and I love to find great tasting ingredients. For me, food isn't about fussy and flashy (although I do appreciate a nice treat now and then); food is all about great flavours, sharing and enjoyment.
No matter what your budget, there are few things that could be better than sitting down to a delicious plate full of fresh, lovingly prepared food with family and friends. The North West is full of amazing ingredients; succulent meat; fresh, crunchy vegetables; lovely cheeses and lots more, and this is also the case with many of our other fabulous regions throughout the UK. I appreciate that many people are busy juggling their work and personal lives nowadays, but I also believe that many of us have more time to step out from the supermarket aisles every now and then and search out these, often, better quality, nicer tasting ingredients.
My aim with Bite Local is to provide you with the incentives and inspiration to do just that, to take a walk down your local high street, to visit your local market or monthly farmers market, and to enjoy the excellent produce you rarely find on a supermarket shelf. I’d also love for you to give me your suggestions; if you don’t see something listed on here that you know to be a really good foodie find; a delicious deli, a brilliant butcher, or a phenomenal fishmonger, get in touch and let us know about it at Bite. Let’s share it with everyone else…
You can contact Bite here, and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook
If you want to follow and chat with me directly on Twitter, you can find me at @foodyphil.
Thanks Phil for your intro, so on to your questions
·         What is your favourite cookery or food book or publication ?

I very rarely return to any single one on a regular basis, as I prefer to enjoy a variety of cooking styles, and I often search out most of my new inspiration on the internet, nowadays. I suppose Madhur Jaffrey first got me excited about cooking Indian cuisine and good old Delia inspired me a lot in the early days with other dishes.

·         What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?

A county full of the most amazing selection of top quality produce, look no further folks!

·         If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?

Something outdoors, I love the simple things like fresh air, nice landscapes and views. As long as there’s a good meal waiting afterwards!

·         Which piece of kit could you not do without ?

Knives, you’ve got to have good, sharp knives.

·         Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?

It would have to be someone with a sense of humour, none of that serious conversation stuff. Living where I do, it’d probably have to be Eric Morecambe – so funny!

·         What advice would you give to your younger self ?

Have confidence, you’re capable of more than you’d ever imagine.

·         Describe your style in three words

Relaxed, logical, positive

·         What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?

I’m not big on gadgets for gadgets sake and haven’t bought any recently. A good food processor is as gadgety as I’ve got. As long as you have good quality basics: pans, knives, etc.

·         What is your greatest achievement to date ?

I’d have to say, being where I am today. I’ve achieved a lot of things that I’m happy about over the years and they’ve all resulted in having a lovely family, being happy and enjoying doing what I do.

·         What is the worst mistake you’ve made ?

I never look back and regret things, they’re all just life lessons, learn from them and move on.

·         Tell us a secret about yourself, maybe something we wouldn’t expect

I’m a reincarnation of a Yorkshire Terrier called Fraser


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