Nostalgic Bakes from Paul Hollywood’s “A Baker’s Life”

The recent spate of snow days has made me want to stay in my warm kitchen and bake comfort food.  Never mind me trying to diet.  Forget that! When you feel cold and tired, all you want to do is to hibernate with a giant piece of flapjack in each hand!

I ended not being able to work for three days due to the snow last week but then again I wasn’t the only one.  Then again it gave me chance to catch up with jobs and to try out some recipes from Paul Hollywood’s latest book A Baker’s Life.  I had got it at Christmas last year and had my eye on several things I wanted to test out.

The book spans the five decades of Paul’s life so far from his childhood as the son of a baker in Merseyside right up to the present day as a judge on The Great British Bake Off.  Each chapter in the book concentrates on recipes from a certain time of life.  I wanted to start with the first chapter: Nostalgic Bakes from Paul’s early years.

There were loads of recipes to choose from, including traditional favourites that we would all remember from our own childhoods.  Some of the recipes are perfect for actually making with children, such as Cornflake Cakes and Jam Tarts.  As well as these, there were also recipes for bakes that your grandma or mum may have made in years gone by.  The first recipe in the book was actually called My Mum’s Ginger Biscuits.  I absolutely love ginger biscuits and they remind me of the Yorkshire Ginger Biscuits my Nana Margaret would buy.  She would never bake them as she was a walking disaster in the kitchen.  If she could buy it in Marks and Spencer’s food hall, she would have it and pass it off as her own.

Paul says in his recipe introduction: ” Not only are they a doddle to make, but they’ve got the right balance of being crispy and chewy.” The recipe was an old-fashioned melting method one, where the butter or margarine is melted in a saucepan on the hob with golden syrup and caster sugar. Then once the melted mixture was cooled enough to handle, then self raising flour and a beaten egg were added to the mixture.

The mixture was then gathered up into a ball and made into a dough.  I separated the dough into about 24 pieces and spaced them out carefully on lined baking trays.  I put two trays in the oven at a time and watched them like a hawk. They could easily burn quickly after about 10 minutes.

I always like my cookies on the chewy side and to be honest I would add tiny pieces of chopped stem ginger to the dough.  This version has the ginger flavour coming from ground ginger and wow, did my kitchen smell wonderful! I honestly don’t know how I managed to keep them from being scoffed instead of taking them into work.

When the biscuits were cooling down on the rack, I decided to have a go at another recipe from the Nostalgic Bakes chapter.  This time it was for a Tea Loaf.  I have baked countless tea loaves in my time, including my own version of a Welsh Bara Brith which recipe is featured in the second Clandestine Club Cookbook A Year Of Cake.  I can’t resist a slice of tea loaf, slathered in butter and with a cup of my beloved Yorkshire Tea.  The recipe doesn’t feature any spices or citrus fruit zest but is crammed full of raisins, sultanas and currants.  I did not have any currants but made up the difference in weight with extra sultanas and raisins.  The dried fruit had been previously soaked in some strong Yorkshire Tea and to this I added self raising flour, demerara sugar, milk and a beaten egg.

Once this was mixed up, I lined my 2 lb loaf tin with a special loaf tin liner and put it to bake in my fan oven.  I completely forgot that I also needed to bake some potato wedges to go along with the Cajun Chicken breasts cooking in the slow oven for our dinner that night.  So half way through the baking time I had to whip the oven door open and stuff the tray of wedges in on the shelf underneath the tea loaf.  Luckily they were both ready at the same time as I didn’t want the cake sinking.

I left the cake to cool on the side with the ginger biscuits and then took them along to work the following day.  I left them in the staff room and found that half the biscuits had gone along with a couple of slices of cake when I popped in at lunchtime before going home.

Next week I’m thinking of trying out some Millionaire’s Shortbread if I have time.

Happy Baking

Love Sam xx

The Hairy Dieters Fast Food- A Review

I’m a huge fan of The Hairy Bikers and love watching them on the TV. They are so friendly and down to earth. Their enthusiasm for cooking and enjoying good food always shows through and whenever a new book comes out I always want to buy it.  My favourites of their books just has to be their Hairy Dieters series which I use a lot for cooking. I’m on a permanent battle to lose weight- my own fault for loving baking too much but these Hairy Dieters books help massively with meal ideas for the whole family. Not only that but the recipes are REAL food, no fancy fad or trendy ingredients. If I see a recipe with things like chia seeds in them, then they don’t get a look in, sorry!

My family are quite difficult to cater for.  My daughter and I eat most things, though some seafood turns my stomach. We would like to cut down on our meat intake and eat more vegetarian food. My husband thinks a meal without meat isn’t a meal and my son is fussy. One week he’ll like fish pie then the next week he doesn’t and he says he’s never liked it. So when there’s something I can cook that EVERYONE will eat, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot!

I feel like that most times I cook from the first of the Hairy Bikers’ diet books.  My son adores their chilli and can’t get enough of the curry.  But I can’t be cooking chilli and curry every night.  I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. A couple of months back the Hairy Dieters brought out book four entitled Fast Food.  As they say on the book blurb on the back cover “When you’re hungry you don’t want to wait” and all the recipes are low in calories yet take only up to half an hour to prepare. This really ticks more than one box for me, I’m usually shattered when I get in from work.  In the winter we have casseroles in my slow cooker but I needed more inspiration. The recipes were just what I needed.

Fast Food is split up into nine chapters. The first is an introduction with a few ideas and techniques which I think is very useful, as well as tips from the Hairy Bikers themselves.  I also liked the menu suggestions given for if you want to have friends round. The second chapter, Breakfast and Brunch features a few ideas for low calorie, yet filling meals.  In the past I have used the Hairy Bikers’ ideas for serving porridge and Bircher muesli. This book has ideas for smoothies and granola. I love making granola but I need a healthier version. Also my smoothie blender is broken but when I get round to replacing it I will definitely be making the  Apple and Oat Smoothie.

Over the last couple of weeks after coming back from my holiday feeling fat, bloated and lethargic from all the unhealthy food I’d been eating, I thought I’d better get my act together in the kitchen.  I got the Fast Food book out and thought we would put some of the recipes to the test.

The first recipe I tried out was the Chicken and Prawn Laksa on p124.  I have never tried Laksa before, let alone made it.  I saw John Torode making it on a programme about Malaysia and both my hubby and I said we would like to try it.  So I was keen to give it a go. Both children were out one Saturday night and it was just me and the hubster.  The recipe uses a ready made jar of Laksa paste or there were the ingredients to make up your own.  I couldn’t find all the ingredients or the ready made paste in my local Morrisons but instead I found some lemongrass paste. The rest of the ingredients were easily found.


All the ingredients found for Chicken and Prawn Laksa. 

We really enjoyed the Laksa. It was simple to make if you prepped the chicken and the veg beforehand.  I forgot to take a photo of it as hubby also says “I don’t want to see my dinner on bloody Facebook!” But you have to believe me, it tasted and looked wonderful.  There was too much quantity though as the recipe served 4. Definitely one to do again but not something my son would have.

The day after was a Sunday.  Usually on a Sunday lunchtime we don’t eat much if anything as we have a big meal at dinner time.  My daughter was working and it was a very hot day. I thought a salad would be perfect but wanted something more exciting and delicious than some limp lettuce and cucumber.  The Hairy Dieter’s Seven Layer Salad looked stunning on  the eye as well as sounding very tasty. It didn’t require any cooking, just lots of chopping up and either assembling as layers in a bowl or on a large serving platter.

I first had to make a tomato salsa by chopping up tomatoes, red peppers and red onions then mixing them up together in a large bowl with some chopped coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. I then squeezed some lime juice over the top of it.  This was time consuming but I wasn’t in a rush, thankfully.

Chopped Tomato Salsa.

Two other layers just asked for opening up a tin, draining the ingredients then arranging on a plate.  A tin of sweetcorn for one and the other was a tin of black beans.  I’ve never really bought black beans before though I’ve had them in a Chinese takeaway when I’ve had Beef in Black Bean Sauce. I had some in a salad my sister in law made while visiting her and my brother in Canada recently and they tasted great.

The sweetcorn and the black bean layers arranged on my serving platter.  I’ve had this Blackberry serving plate for ages, it was part of the dinner service my husband and I got for a wedding present.

To make the chicken part of the salad I quickly cooked three chicken breasts which had been cut into tiny, bite sized pieces.  When these had cooled slightly I went on to the Avocado part of the salad, then went back to the chicken.  The chicken was then tossed in a little buttermilk, low fat mayonnaise and white wine vinegar mixture.  It was meant to have finely chopped celery added to it but only I like it mixed in with things in our family, so I’ve stopped buying it.  The Avocado part of the salad was meant to be one Avocado choppe up with a grated courgette and spring onions and then dressed with lime juice.  My family don’t like courgettes so I shredded a Cos lettuce instead and tossed the chopped spring onions and chopped avocado together with the lime juice on top.


We were very impressed with the Seven Layer Salad and my husband had to have more cheese to satisfy his hungry appetite.  I found that there was also a portion left over for me to have in my lunchbox the following day.

Another successful meal from the Fast Food Book was the Vegetable Dhal on page 152.  This recipe is from the chapter called Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow which includes slow cooker and pressure cooker recipes.  I’ve not got a pressure cooker though I remember my mum having one in the 70’s.  My slow cooker is my lifesaver in the winter.  I chose to test out a pressure cooker recipe but just to cook it normally on the hob.  It was a simple Vegetable Dhal which my son said looked like sick! It was simple to make though, as well as being economical.

The Vegetable Dhal was meant to be cooked in a pressure cooker but I don’t have one.
There was enough Vegetable Dhal to eat with chapatis and some ready cooked chicken pieces on the side for rhe carnivores.  I thought it tasted delicious without meat and perfect to reheat the following day for lunch.


Chilli and Prawn Pasta ended up turning into a Spicy Meatball Pasta Sauce.

Another success was the delicious Chilli and Prawn Pasta which ended up having the prawns substituted for something else.  I hadn’t got round to getting any more prawns in but I had a packet of Heck Chorizo sausages in the fridge. These ended up being chopped up into little pieces and treated like meatballs.  My whole family loved the pasta and even though it had a little kick to it with the chilli, no one minded.

I’ve been really impressed with the Fast Food book.  There are a few recipes I wouldn’t make, mainly because they won’t appeal to the fussy eaters in my household but there are plenty I will be trying in the future.  We’ve already had the Seven Layer Salad again but this time I used plain leftover roast chicken from the previous day’s dinner.

Love Sam xx



Annabel Karmel’s Busy Mum’s Cookbook- A Review.

The Busy Mum’s Cookbook is the latest publication from food writer Annabel Karmel and was published a couple of months ago. My family have grown up with Annabel’s recipes right from when I started weaning my daughter back in 1998 using purees from the Baby and Toddler Meal Planner. I’ve bought several of her books over the years from her Family Meal Planner, to her Kids In The Kitchen inspired books, to her party recipe one. I’ve kept all the books though I don’t think my kids would appreciate butternut squash purees now! Having said that, I regularly go back to recipes from the Family Meal Planner, which has been my lifesaver in the kitchen for the past 16 years.

So, when Annabel brings out a new book which isn’t directed at babies and toddlers, I’m always keen to buy it. I was very impressed with the Busy Mum’s Cookbook as it fits into my lifestyle. I work most days as a supply teacher, a job I love but I’m always shattered when I get in from school.  All the recipes I have tried out of the book so far have fitted into the slot of being suitable for busy parents and not just Mums!

The introduction states: “Many of us stick with what we know and trust when it comes to cooking, especially when our lives are busier than ever! Yet the result is often a collection of six or seven failsafe recipes that families rely upon week in week out!” 

I have easily fallen into that trap. I think I’ve cooked chilli con carne or chicken curry every week for the past year but I do it because I know my son will eat it. Annabel Karmel’s own children have always been a massive part of her cookery career, she tests recipes out on them and there used to be photos of them in her earlier books. Now they are grown up but they still influence her recipes, just like I do when I try to recreate my own dishes at home. 

The Busy Mum’s Cookbook is split up into seven sections each featuring a stack of recipes to suit all lifestyles. 

Roasted Tomato and Pesto Pasta.
Chapter One is called “20 Minute Recipes” and features plenty of recipes which can be cooked in a very short time. Last Monday evening I tried out the Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Pesto on my family. It says the cooking time is 10 mins and the preparation time, 8 minutes. I had to roast the cherry tomatoes in the oven with garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar which took all of 10 minutes. While the tomatoes were roasting the pasta was cooking on the hob. When it had cooked I added pesto sauce to the pasta and mixed it with the tomatoes and mozzarella pieces. Ideal for a a quick weeknight supper.

Golden Syrup and Ginger Loaf Cake
Annabel’s baking recipes are just divine and I must admit I always looked at the baking and dessert chapters first when I bought her earlier books. For every special occasion dinner I must have made Annabel’s naughty but nice version of Tiramisu and baked a lot of her cakes and cookies  for children’s parties. I know sweets and desserts get a bad press but to be honest I can’t see the problem in having the odd treat here or there. So it was great to see a handful of delicious recipes at the back of the book in the Sweets chapter.  Last Sunday I tried out the Golden Syrup Ginger Cake which is described as a “deliciously moist, gently spiced cake (which is) perfect for an afternoon tea treat.” 

 To me it sounded like McVities Jamaican Ginger Cake which I used to eat as a child for tea at my Nana Margaret’s house. I’ve not had it for years. So I was tempted to try baking the cake to see if it was the same. I used my Nordicware Gingerbread Man Loaf Bundt pan which has only been used once before, great to give it another outing. I greased the pan well with Wilton Cake Release.  Flour, caster sugar, cinnamon and ginger were combined in one bowl. In another in went eggs, sunflower oil and golden syrup. They were then mixed together and the batter poured into the tin.  It tasted lovely even though I could have done with more mixture to fill the tin! It looked very small! 

Three Tomato Bruschetta, although only one type was used in my version.
Last Friday night was perfect to sit out and enjoy the gorgeous sunny weather. I had loads of tomatoes to use up and had the idea of making the Three Tomato Bruschettas for my family. Though we only had one type of tomato, this recipe was a lot more fiddly than I thought. I had to peel and de-seed a whole punnet of cherry tomatoes which took a lot of time. The Bruschetta recipe is in the Lunchboxes and Snacks chapter.  Lunchboxes is something I never get right. When my kids were at primary school they had Lunchboxes and I used Annabel’s own Lunchboxes book for ideas when my daughter first started in Reception. Her pasta salads and fruit salads with dips would come back untouched and she used to say “Why can’t I have fruit winders in my lunchbox?” Or “……has Cheesestrings in hers, why can’t I?” I tend to be a bit disorganised with my own lunches, I end up with half a carton of soup or a noodle pot. If I’m feeling really lazy then I buy a sandwich from a local garage with an M&S food shop attached to it. Same goes for my husband, when he’s working in his office, he’s across the road from a fantastic bakery so he nips there for a sandwich or a pasty. The kids follow what their friends are doing in town. So unless I sort myself out, I can’t see myself using the lunch box recipes much!

Chocolate and Oat Cookies

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love baking biscuits, hence my blog name SmartCookieSam. Last Friday I had some spare time and decided to bake some of Annabel’s Chocolate and Oat Cookies. My son is going through his GCSEs at the moment and my daughter has been busy in her college course. What better than a sweet treat to start half term off? The cookies were very simple to make using butter, brown sugar, flour, an egg, some vanilla extract, baking powder, a small amount of ground ginger, porridge oats and dark chocolate cut into chunks.  No sooner than they had been put on the cooling rack, then half of them disappeared! That’s a good sign. If they’re still there in the biscuit tin a few days later that’s when I start getting worried. 

Pasta Arrabiata

My son and husband aren’t massive pasta fans but they liked the Pasta Arrabiata recipe. It was a perfect standby storecupboard supper to knock up after a busy day at work. It went very well washed down with a couple of glasses of wine! I forgot to tell hubby that Arrabiata sauce has chillies in it! 

There was another chapter in the book dedicated to Entertaining. Well I can’t remember the last time I had friends round for dinner. It was probably about 10 years ago. Ever since I went back to work doing dinner parties is the last thing on my mind. Though I have had several parties and get togethers. This usually ends up being buffet food or a BBQ or maybe cakes and lots of drink though! I can’t see me cooking any recipes from the Entertaining chapter soon,  though! 

So, to sum up I was extremely impressed with Annabel’s book. It is going to be well used in the next few years I bet as it was the case with her baby and toddler feeding books. I can wholeheartedly recommend it! 

Happy Cooking!

Love Sam xx

Lemonade and Ginger Beer Drizzle Loaf Cakes- Fentiman’s Drinks.


Lush! Who can’t resist a slice of lemon drizzle cake? This one is even more special as it contains Fentimans Victorian Lemonade.

  A couple of weeks ago I was so happy to win an Easter Hamper in a competition on Fentiman’s Facebook page.  I couldn’t believe it, I never win anything like that and there were loads of entries.  The hamper was a huge, gorgeous wicker basket filled with a massive selection of Fentiman’s popular Spring favourites.  Not only that, but there was an additional treat for us, Being Easter, the hamper also contained a giant Quality Street egg, a Harry Hopalot rabbit egg from Thorntons and some delicious dark chocolate mini eggs.  I was so excited when the courier delivered it a couple of days afterwards.

 My only grievance about the hamper was that one of the small bottles containing the Seville Orange and Mandarin drink was smashed to smithereens inside the hamper. The drink obviously had leaked out but I was more worried about reaching inside the hamper among the shredded tissue paper to see if I could retrieve the broken glass.  I was so lucky I didn’t cut my hand!

Now as you know, I always like to have any excuse to bake. So having a few bottles of my favourite soft drinks was no exception.  I’ve seen cakes being baked with Coca Cola with it and wondered if I could do the same with a couple of the drinks from the hamper. I love Lemon Drizzle Cake and thought maybe instead of lemon juice I could use the lemonade in it. Last Saturday I was at home for the afternoon, so I had time to play around and experiment.



165g unsalted butter, softened

320g caster sugar

3 large eggs, preferably free range

200g plain flour

 Grated zest from 1 lemon

90ml Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade

For the glaze:

160g caster sugar

60ml Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade

There should be about 1/3 of the bottle of Lemonade left over, so pour it into a glass and enjoy drinking it while you’re baking!

How to make the Loaf cake:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170oC/ 325oF or Gas Mark 3.  Line a 900g/ 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment or use a ready made loaf tin liner which can be bought from a good cookware shop.  I use the ones available in Lakeland and swear by them!
  • Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer or whisk until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  If you need to, scrape the mixture down the sides of the bowl.
  • Mix in the flour and lemon zest until thoroughly mixed.  Then fold in the Victorian Lemonade.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level off the surface of the cake.  Bake for about 1 hour in the oven.  To test if the cake is done, insert a skewer into the cake. If the top bounces back when touched and the skewer comes out clean, then the cake is ready.
  • Keep the cake in the tin until it is completely cooled, although transfer the tin over to a wire rack.
  • While the cake is cooling, mix caster sugar and lemonade together in a bowl to make a syrup. When the cake is completely cool, use a skewer to prick holes in the top of the cake.  Pour the syrup over the top of the cake.  Allow it to set on the top before taking the cake out of the tin and the wrapper. This stops all the syrup completely soaking into the cake and gives the cake a contrasting, crunchy topping.
  • Cut into slices to serve. Any uneaten slices need to be kept in an airtight container and should keep for about 3 days.
Once the cake has cooled and the icing has set, then it was ready to come out of the tin and to be served.
Cut into 8-10 generous slices. I can’t cut thin slivers of cake!
My favourite piece is always the one at the end. Looks very rustic but that’s what appeals to me.

Lemon Drizzle cakes always go down well with my family and I cut the cake up to put in a tin for another day.  It was all too tempting for me to nibble some and I did take half of one piece to try out.  It’s quite a sweet cake as lemon drizzle cakes are so you won’t want a massive piece.  Then again, where cake is concerned I don’t do small!

 After the success of the Lemonade Drizzle Loaf Cake I was tempted to have another go but adapt the recipe for an alternative flavour.  My favourite Fentiman’s drink is their Ginger Beer and I always have it if I’m going out for dinner at a local pub when I’m driving.  Luckily for me, my kids don’t like Ginger Beer. so they hadn’t guzzled it all up.  Last Wednesday I found myself with a day off work so I chose to do a spot of baking once I’d done all my jobs.  I thought I’d try out some Ginger Beer Drizzle Loaf Cake and see if that worked.


Ingredients are the same as for the Lemonade Drizzle Cake but with a couple of substitutions and additions:

  • Instead of the grated zest of a lemon, use 3 balls of stem ginger which have been rinsed, chopped into tiny pieces, rinsed and tossed in a tablespoonful of flour.
  • Instead of Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade, use their Ginger Beer.
  • Optional: I also added a tsp of stem ginger extract available from Lakeland.
Not only did I have my Easter hamper prize but I ended up buying some more Ginger Beer and Rose Lemonade from the Good Food Show last weekend.
Who fancies a slice of Ginger Beer Drizzle Cake?
A very rustic looking cake. I didn’t let this cake cool down as much as it should have done so the top cracked as it cut!

The only problem I found with the Ginger Beer Drizzle Cake is that it didn’t have that punch of ginger I was expecting.  Next time I bake it, I will add a couple of teaspoonfuls of ground ginger to the mix along with the dry ingredients and see what happens.  Also, I found that despite rinsing and flouring the ginger pieces, they still sank to the bottom of the cake.  I ate a thin sliver off one of the pieces I’d cut and thought maybe the recipe needs tweaking a bit. Then again, if you don’t like a big ginger hit, then you don’t have to change anything.  The other treat was, to sit and drink the remainder of the 275ml bottle with your lunch.

At the time of writing there are two bottles left and my kids have been clamouring to drink them.  I have let them have a treat at the weekend but there’s no way I’m letting them near the large bottle of Rose Lemonade!  Hands off!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

TasteCollectiv- Fresh Romesco and Pesto Sauces.

Last Tuesday afternoon another lovely treat arrived from the BBC Good Food Show by courier.  I was so excited to get samples of a brand new product that would be launching a few days later at the Good Food Show in Harrogate, which was a Pesto sauce and a Romesco sauce.  Mark and Victoria will be launching these delicious sauces through their company TasteCollectiv.

My lovely samples of fresh Pesto Sauce and Romesco Sauce from Taste Collectiv.

 I couldn’t wait to try them out on my family. It was going to be a real Mediterranean themed week for dinner in our house as that very night I had planned Spaghetti Bolognese. But what could I do with the sauces I was given?

The Romesco sauce was the first we tried last Thursday night.  Containing piquillo peppers, extra virgin olive oil, ground almonds, paprika, sherry vinegar, roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and sea salt it was a perfect kick to add to any pasta or even to a chicken dish.  I had not come across Romesco sauce before and found out that it originates from Catalonia.  In my ignorance I thought it was Italian.  I loved the sauce and will definitely be buying more of it.

I chose to make some Romesco and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken breasts. This is a recipe I make at home a lot but with pesto sauce as once you’ve stuffed the chicken it just cooks itself.  Apart from the sauce getting a bit runny when mixed in with the meat juices and the cheese it tasted fantastic and went down well with Rosemary roasted new potatoes and salad.

A teaspoonful of Romeso sauce and a slice of  mozzarella went inside the chicken breast and then the rest went on top of it. It then went in the oven for about 30 minutes.

The finished Mozarella and Romesco Chicken. The sauce went a bit runny but it tasted fantastic.

 I used the Pesto Sauce last Saturday night in a recipe which is in Mary Berry’s latest book Foolproof Cooking.  It’s called Express Bacon and Pesto Pasta, only I didn’t use bacon. I used chopped ham and instead of tomatoes, I chopped up two peppers.  This was a fantastic way of using up storecupboard ingredients and tasted delicious. 

An adaptation of Mary Berry’s Bacon and Pesto Pasta, only mine had ham in it instead!

 The pesto was the best I had ever tasted and was packed full of Pecorino Sardo cheese, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, pine nuts, roasted garlic and sea salt.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of TasteCollectiv in the future.

TasteCollectiv’s bold and impressive packaging for their Romesco and Pesto sauces which were launched at the Good Food Show in Harrogate.

 I was given the samples to try for free. All opinions are my own.

The Bursary Award Winners at The Good Food Show Harrogate.

Last Friday as part of my role as a Community Blogger at the Good Food Show in Harrogate, we were given a tour of the show.  This gave us a brilliant chance to see local, Yorkshire producers as well as some new faces at the show.  I have been to the Good Food Show every year since it started in Harrogate but this year it has been wonderful to see some new producers who have a great chance to showcase their wares.

The Good Food Show Bursary Award Scheme is managed by Katy Truss and aims to reward small, independent producers with a free opportunity to attend the BBC Good Food Show.  Any producers that were interested had to make a special application and there were a limited number of places for each Good Food Show event around the UK throughout Autumn 2015 to Summer 2016.  Four winners were picked for the Harrogate Good Food Show.

Sweetieatie Artisan Caramels and Confections

Sweetieatie make delicious handcrafted caramels and caramel sauces and are based in Standish, near Wigan. My personal favourites were the Sea Salted Caramels and the Mint Caramels.  My family and I couldn’t get enough of them. The two beautifully packaged bags I bought back from the show got eaten very quickly.  I also got to sample some of the Cracked Black Pepper Caramel Sauce on the stand and was very impressed with the flavour.


Sweetieatie’s scrummy Mint Chocolate and Sea Salted Caramels. They didn’t last very long in our house, I can tell you!

Sweetieatie’s stand at the Good Food Show which shows all their caramels and their caramel sauces all beautifully packaged.

 For moree information go to



Patrick Macarons and Patisserie

Patrick Macarons showcases beautiful French macarons in a display of colours and tantalising flavours.  All of the Community Bloggers were very impressed with the Macaron Man’s (as he is affectionately known) stand and products.  As I personally find macarons tricky to make I was bowled over by the beautiful displays and the mouthwatering flavours.  I’m looking forward to trying some of these macarons in the future. Patrick Macarons are based in Hull.

The Macaron Man himself very kindly posed for a photo behind his delectable macarons.

Just gorgeous and photogenic. Patrick’s Macaron’s were displayed beautifully in these gorgeous containers.


Awards and certificates on display. It was great to see that the Macaron Man has also recently been featured in the Yorkshire Post.

  To find out more about the Macaron Man, please see:



Amos and Tom’s Gourmet Popcorn

All my family love popcorn, especially when we have a cinema night and this would be a perfect, alternative treat for us.  I loved the Salted Caramel flavour, a wonderful blend of sweet and savoury in the same bite! Amos and Tom’s Gourmet Popcorn is handcrafted in the Yorkshire Wolds and they pride themselves on being the first gourmet popcorn producers in Yorkshire. They also use the finest mushroom corn to pop with along with another local product, Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil.  I am looking to try more flavours in the future as what I tasted was just gorgeous. 

Amos and Tom’s Gourmet Popcorn. A far cry from the tasteless popcorn you get at the cinema!

  For more information see:

Twitter: @amosandtoms

Facebook: /amosandtoms

WooHa Brewing Company

The WooHa Brewing Company is a micro brewing company based in Nairn near Inverness. They brew four different drinks: Porter, Lager, IPA and a Wheat based beer. I had just downed some gin at another stand at the show and was worried about mixing my drinks, so unfortunately didn’t get to taste any of WooHa’s products.  I liked the look of the packaging and would like to try their products in the future.  I can imagine the lager or the wheat based beer would go down very well with both my husband and I after a busy day in the garden and if we’re having a summer BBQ. 

WooHa’s ale stand had a big crowd around it when I saw it.  I’m hoping to try out their ale in the future when I haven’t already drunk a glass of gin!

  For more details and to learn about WooHa’s brewing process see:

Twitter: @woohabrewing

Facebook: /woohabrewingcompany

All opinions are my own based on my experience at the Good Food Show last Friday.

My Day At The BBC Good Food Show Harrogate 2016.

A few weeks back I was asked if I would like to join the Community Blogger team for this year’s Good Food Show in Harrogate. I jumped at the chance. It is the show’s third year running in Harrogate and to me, virtually on my doorstep living in North Yorkshire.  I have been posting about some of the wonderful local producers that were going to be exhibiting this year and was also looking forward to discovering new things.

The show this year ran from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th April but I chose to go along on the Friday and took my husband along as my guest.  He’s never been to the Good Food Show before, I’ve usually gone with friends.  I was in a hurry to get to Harrogate for 9am as I wanted to be there to see Tom Kerridge opening the show. Luckily as it was the school holidays traffic into town and along Wetherby Road was fine. Normally it’s a nightmare but parking for us in the Victoria multistorey and a walk down the road to the HIC was fine for us and we got there just in time.  Unfortunately I missed taking a photo of Tom Kerridge cutting the ribbon as I was waiting to pick up my pass. Still I managed to sneak a couple of photos of him throughout the day.


Wandering around at 9am was much more pleasurable than fighting off the crowds later. It meant you could go up to stall holders and chat with them. I had a lovely chat with Phil and Helena who run York and Dulgent Fudge who I had discovered through my friend Sharon on her blog Humbug’s House.  I was very impressed with the fudge and bought two flavours to try out. Do look out for their Blue Cheese, Apple and Walnut Fudge, which the first time ever that I have come across a savoury fudge and it sounds funny but believe me it works!

I treated myself to two gorgeous bags of fudge and deliberately chose flavours my kids wouldn’t like so they wouldn’t be tempted to nick them! Aren’t I a mean Mum?

 By this time hubby had sloped off!  He was just answering a phone call so I told him I was going to the fudge stall.  When I went to find him, he had gone off. Typical, it’s like when my kids used to wander off in Toys R Us! I phoned him, phone went straight to voicemail saying he was on holiday. No use texting him “Where are you?”, he’d never reply. I left him a message. Then I get a phone call from one of the supply teaching agencies I work for with some work lined up. He phones back while I’m on the phone!  I thought well knowing my car mad petrol head husband he will be looking at the Lexus stand as they are the sponsors of the Good Food Show. He was, no surprise there then!

I couldn’t get my husband away from the Lexus stand.  Any show we go to and its always the cars he gravitates towards, bless him!

 I then went to stock up with my favourites in the Deliciously Yorkshire section: Gordon Rhodes and Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil.  It was lovely to chat with everyone on their stands and I came away with products I can’t always find locally.  We love the Gordon Rhodes spice rubs and I had run out. They are launching some new ones for the summer so I got some samples to try. More of that to come so watch this space.

The lovely ladies from Gordon Rhodes.
Had a lovely chat with the guys on the Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil stand.  I loved cooking from their recipe book which was sent to me by the Good Food Show team.


I went a bit overboard on the Gordon Rhodes stand but I use their products all the time!


 We also stocked up on the flavoured Yorkshire Rapeseed Oils we love like chilli and ginger. We also got a garlic one  to try as well as another plain oil so I can use it in my baking.

Yorkshire Rapeseed Oils- both my husband and I love cooking with them.

 A new company caught my eye at the show. They are called Stoats, who are based in Edinburgh and make porridge oat products.  I will be writing a separate post later on but I was very impressed with what I saw.  I hadn’t realised that they had in fact been going for over ten years but it was the first time I had seen them.

As part of a Community Blogger perk we got a complimentary seat in the Supertheatre to watch Tom Kerridge’s demo.  I’ve seen Tom Kerridge on TV before and enjoy watching him though I’ve never made any of his recipes and I don’t have any of his books.  He was very entertaining and demonstrated how to make three dishes Turbot With Toasted Cucumber, Mushrooms and Radishes, Spiced Roast Rump Of Lamb With Celery and Feta, and also how to make Asparagus with a sauce which I cant remember the name of now but it looked delicious.  The dishes aren’t really what I’d cook at home, even for a special occasion.  I’ve never tried turbot though it was fascinating to see what happened to the cucumber when it cooked. I didn’t think you could cook cucumber.  I don’t really like lamb either and never cook it at home as the smell of it cooking makes me feel sick.  I did like the sound of the asparagus though, I love asparagus with hollandaise sauce so to have it with the sauce Tom Kerridge used would be a delcious alternative.

A very blurred image of Tom Kerridge taken on my phone which is rubbish at taking pictures at events like this!
Tom Kerridge in action at the BBC Good Food Show Supertheatre.

We were then met by the sales and press team and given a tour of the show showing selected stands including four very special producers who had been granted a Bursary Award, as well as various producers who were known as Good Food Champions.  I’m going to be writing a separate blog post about the Bursary Award winners but here are some highlights of what we saw as we walked around the show.

Tempting mini cakes and meringues on Flower and White’s stand.

The meringues from Flower and White just called for a close up shot of their very own.

Although it’s now a well established brand and you can buy Fentiman’s drinks everywhere I had to buy some of my favourites to take home.

My whole family love Heck sausages so I always stock up at the Good Food Show. I got our favourite four flavours which came in a freezer carry bag.

One of the Good Food Champions was Simple Simon’s Perfect PIes.  Many different flavours and all appeared to be made with a hot water crust pastry.

Again you can buy Mercers jam and conserves in many retail outlets in Yorkshire but I couldn’t resist stocking up on my favourite lemon curd, salted caramel and some onion marmalade.

I was very excited to see TasteCollectiv’s stand at the Good Food Show as I was lucky to get some free samples of their scrumptious Romesco and Pesto sauces a few days before the show.

Little Doone’s Award Winning range of flavoured Balsamic Vinegars.  I was taken with the garlic flavoured one.

I adored the Slingsby Rhubarb Gin.  Being a gin lover I will definitely be getting some of this in the future.

Aye Love Real Food which sold delicious handmade Scotch eggs as well as sausage rolls.

 All too soon it was time to head back home with my purse considerably lighter than it was when I got to the show that morning.  I had bought and seen some fantastic things.

I had a lovely day and really enjoyed taking part in the show as a Community Blogger.  All opinions and photos are my own.