Monday, 24 September 2012

BBBadass Breakfast - Bourbon Banana Bacon Pancakes Recipe

What's this? A recipe with booze in it? Yeah I like drinking in the morning and am always looking for excuses. Plus I just got introduced to bourbon by The Liquorists and T.Vernon and guess what? I'm putting it in everything like the rebel/teenage girl with a crush, because I'm a grown up and I can.


This recipe tastes amazing (I would say that), is super comforting and gives you an excuse to a) have alcohol in your breakfast and b) drink the said alcohol whilst cooking, for quality control/fuck yeah reasons. So if you've had a heavy night, are semi-alcoholic, or are having to get through a breakfast with with children, then knock this easy recipe up 'cos it's way more classy than sucking the dregs out last night's wine glasses/bar towels/your shirt.

It's pretty easy to bang out, but if you're anticipating something epic the night before then you can make up the batter and leave it in the fridge - it'll keep for a few days like that; you might just need to add a splash of milk to get it to the right consistency - and if you're drinking/eating alone, then you have batter for a few days - win.
This is what you are giong to make and then the world will be ok

This recipe calls for bourbon, you can either leave it out (er, what? The whole point of this breakfast is to revel in spirits and keep the party going) or replace it with a single malt or even another spirit. If you do, you won't get the same toffee caramel sweetness with a smokey hint of vanilla, that a bourbon brings to the mix - but it's up to you and I'm no food nazi (btw dark rum works amazingly here).

Btw I'm using Woodford in the recipe - mainly because I can and I don't live by the 'don't put expensive booze in food' rules; not because I'm rich/exclusive/up my own arse dahlink, but because I have this in the cupboard and can't be arsed getting a cheap bottle in. Woodford does give the recipe a mellow spicy edge that I've not found before and it is my FAVOURITE bourbon that I can actually afford - but yeah, go get the £8 bottle from Aldi if you're going to make this constantly (TIP: the £8 Aldi bourbon is great for cooking/punches) .

Oh and using Woodford means I don't have to get two bottles out and can just drink/cook with the same one - IMPORTANT if it hurts to even consider breakfast, let alone make it.

Ingredients in visual form - may help when it hurts to read

BBBadass Breakfast - Bourbon Banana Bacon Pancakes
Serves 2 - prep 5 min - cooking 15 min

For the pancakes
125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
10g golden caster sugar
1 large egg (free-range please)
150ml milk - but you won't need all of it
20g melted butter

For the syrup
50g butter
4 tbsp soft brown sugar
4 tbsp granulated sugar
150ml bourbon - I used Woodford, but you can use whatever you want (you might need more to thin out/taste)

You will also need
Two bananas - cut in half length ways
Four rashers of smoky bacon

1. Get some ice out of the freezer, get a nice glass and pour yourself a large measure - this will make you feel like golden syrup and make the rest of the day seem ok.

2. Pre-heat the grill on medium, put a frying on a low heat and add the butter.

3. Put all the dry ingredients to a bowl and make a well in the centre. Break the egg in to the well and then add about half the milk. Using a balloon whisk, whisk the mixture gently (so as not to hurt your head more/spill your drink) and then add more milk, whisking all the time until you get a consistency of slightly thicker double cream (so you may not need all the milk, I usually have a little left over).

4. By the time you have made the batter the butter should have melted. Add this to the batter and give it a stir. Set to one side for the time being. You may need another drink at this point.

5. Put the bacon under the grill and cook until crispy. Whilst the bacon is grilling, add the butter to a frying pan and the sugar on a medium high heat - do not stir it and put the bananas on top - as the sugar caramelises, the bananas will too - give them about 30 sec on each side and then put them to one side on a plate.

6. Add the bourbon and butter to the sugar, then bubble away until you get a light syrup. DO NOT stick your fingers or tongue in unless you want third degree burns and try explaining the A+E that you were a) stupid enough to do that and b) that you love booze so much you have it as soon as you get up and stick it in your recipes - won't look good.

7. Take the syrup off the heat, your bacon out from under the grill (if you haven't already) and set aside - this all looks like a faff, but you need to get everything ready for the pancakes and then BOOM it's all ready to eat.

8. Put a non-stick frying pan on a high heat and when it gets to temp wipe a piece of kitchen paper dipped in oil around the inside of the pan. Put back on the heat and add two dessert spoons of batter to the pan - these are the thick American/Scotch pancakes type of thing so do not swirl around (hence why we've made a bit of a thicker batter than for crepe style pancakes). When you see bubbles forming on wet/top side of the batter, flip it over using a plastic fish slice or spatula and cook for another minute, then take it off and put it on a plate to keep warm. If you have a small pan, cook one at a time and if not, squeeze two in - you want each pancake to be the size of a saucer and no bigger, but not tiny small.

9. As you are cooking the pancakes, put the syrup back on the heat and warm/thicken up - cook the bacon in the syrup until the bacon is sticky, but don't overcook the syrup (add more bourbon if needed). When you finish the pancakes (cover them to keep warm btw), add the bananas and bacon to the pan you used for the pancakes and caramelise on a high heat for half a minute. Whilst this is happening, stack the pancakes on two plates (make sure you make an equal amount!).

10. Take the bananas and bacon out and put on top of the pancake. Drizzle the syrup over and serve with another glass of Woodford, whilst you're still in your dressing gown and haven't taken your make up off. This breakfast takes the pain out of having children, but is best enjoyed out of their presence, as are most things in life.

Tuck in/drink up

This is my recipe and I'm pretty proud of it, so it's under copywrite. If you want to use it get in touch or when I can be arsed/am not drunk I will come round and enact some Hunter S Thompson style of retribution. If the timings etc suck then let me know and I'll correct them in a begrudging and grumpy manner.

Monday, 10 September 2012

EXCLUSIVE Breaking News - Almost Famous Chilli Cook Off Tues 25th Party of the YEAR

STOP PRESS - date changed to Tues 25th Sept - STOP PRESS

What would you like in your mouth than a big bit of meat? How about hot, spicy, smoky meatiness? How about hot, spicy, smoky meatiness at a ONE OFF EXCLUSIVE end of summer special party with even hotter girls and even sweeter booze? And what if you could only find out about it/book it HERE?
After the success of Pig Out and to celebrate the passing of the sweetest/warmest/sexiest season, on Tues 26th Sept the Almost Famous kitchen staff will man up take on two fearsome conquistadors for a head to head chilli cook off and they want you to grab some asbestos mouthwash and then get yo’ sweet asses down to celebrate with them for this fiery, one off special.

Bubbly, spicy, fuck yeah goodness

Put the date in your diary NOW, underline it in red and buy yourself a ticket – it’s only £15 per person (with just a £5 deposit needed; so save up your money from selling crack to kids and pay the remainder on the night). What’s that, you need to be in beddy byes by 9pm? Don’t worry; there are two sittings – 5.30-8pm for the babies and 8.30pm till close for the bigger boys. (The later session will go on sale as soon as the first one sells out WHICH IT WILL BY TOMORROW - limited tickets you hear?).
‘But I can just stay at home with my Asda value mince and packet of Schwartz seasoning,’ I can hear your baby mouth whine. This isn’t any old chilli, or any old chilli eating night fools, this is a FAMOUS CHILLI NIGHT – as you enter it starts with the Lil’ Juan, a slider more sloppy than yo’ Mama’s kisses; then there’s going to be the five, fuck off chillies and because Almost Famous value you so much/this is a cook off (duh) they’re asking you to vote which one is best. This will all be followed by music, dancing with yo’ sister and pickling yourself in overproof moonshine.

This ain't your sister (left), but that is yo' mama (right)

So it sounds like a pretty tasty night for anywhere, but this is Famous baby, so you know it’s not going to end there don’t cha? They’re laying down the gauntlet to anyone* who thinks they’re hot/man/crazy enough to enter the Wings of Death competition. Pitting man against lady against chicken; whoever can get to the hottest scale of wings (start at suicide, end at DEATH) and eat more than the measly maggots trying to out-compete them, walks away the victor with a limited edition bottle of Fuck Yeah sauce and claims to international bragging rights/fittest girls in the Northern Quarter/being more winning than Charlie Sheen.
So how do you get to be part of the hottest, spiciest, meatiest party in town? Through this website and NO FUCKING OTHER, BABY. Nosh has secured a pre-order on the tickets, nowhere else can you get your hands on the hot little beauties (or the tickets either) – seeing as Pig Out sold out in two hours I’d order yours RIGHT FUCKING NOW – come on you pussy NOW on this link HERE!.
Ps Dress code Daisy Duke/Bo and Luke Duke/Brokeback/Magnum/Trailer Trash for FREE BOOZE.

Almost Famous, 100 High Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1HP
*The Wings of Death competition is open to first six fools, I mean people, who email through the contact page HERE – closing date for your entry is midnight Mon 25th Sept. North West Nosh and Almost Famous accept no responsibility if entrants end up wetting themselves/crying to Mummy/ in A+E.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Brew Dog/Trof Mash Up, Deaf Institute - Manchester

Ok so I'm a little late posting this one, but I've had heart/brain/job/house stress so you'll have to forgive me.

Week before last the crazy craft beer creators, Brew Dog joined forces with Trof for an epic night of beer tasting, good food and great times. The idea of the night was a bit of beer and food matching at The Deaf Institute (Trof's beautiful music/food/beer place) - showing off Brew Dog's DIY crafts ales and the great cooking from Trof's chefs. Seated at trestle tables with glasses and plates passed down, the atmosphere was friendly and convivial - all helped by super friendly staff and the boundless energy of the brew doggers.

We kicked off the night with 5am Saint - a 5 x hopped beer; creamy, piny and very sessiony. Paired with a mini yorkie pub, chipolatas and sage, the beer's pine notes coupled with the herby sage brilliantly. We then moved on to my favourite beer, Punk IPA - this has fruity note with mango and papaya, softened by caramel hints - this was matched with haddock goujons - the citrus in the beer cutting through the batter without overpowering the delicate fish.

So far, so easy - very generous half pints of 5.3% or so beer - now it was time for the big guns. Out came a Hardcore IPA, pretty hardcore at 9.5%. This is a double dry hopped, aggressive beer with a big hit of resinous pine, softened out by the sweet caramel, toffee from the higher alcohol content. A big shouty beer like this needs a big shouty dish, so The Deaf institute whacked us out some cheesy Welsh rarebit with some beer cooked onions. The cheese and sweetness paired perfectly with the cheese, which softened out some of those piny resin flavours.

Then we moved on to the Dogma - hardly any hops in this one, it's all about the malts; 10 different types to be exact. This was really smoky, full of chocolate and rich salty flavours (can't say I liked it that much), which complimented the red meat of a soft Lancashire hot pot (which I liked a lot). This was served with a hand pickled red cabbage; the astringency cutting through the heavy beer and meat perfectly.

Next along were two porters - I took some sips, but they were way too heavy for me. Alice Porter was had some creamy exotic flavours (but not the ones you buy from Thailand), some chocolate and vanilla - this was paired against cheese. I loved the cheese. And last was the 12% behemoth that is Lost Dog; a collaboration with Lost Abbey Brewery in California. Pretty special this one - once brewed it's shoved in to rum casks with rum soaked raisins, so it basically tastes like a big piece of fruit cake - continuing with the cakey theme, this was paired with a brownie, double richness that my mouth loved.

From reports from other folks who stayed on (damn you Northern Rail and your early last trains) there was more tasting after we left of the super special, very high percentage beers (think 30%) - might have been a good thing that I was constrained by those trains after all.

This one off night was a great way to get to know the beers of Brew Dog and consider that it's not just wine that can be matched with food - it was also a great night to get to see the variety of food that The Deaf Institute can produce. Let's hope it's not a one off - more Dog Trof mash ups please!

Please note I was given my tickets for this for free, but I didn't have to say nice things, I just had a really good time and enjoyed the food and beer matching.

Ps sorry for no pictures, I did take some but it was so dark in there and my phone camera is so rubbish that there’s no point putting them up – even after a good old photoshop, they’re still pants. Anyone thinking about upgrading their Iphone? Donations of a 4S greatly welcomed – I’ll even cook for you to say thanks!

The Deaf Institute, 135 Grovesernor Street, Manchester M1 7HE - a great venue for food, drinks and especially gigs/music - goo check it out.

The Deaf Institute on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Hey Little Cupcake - Spinningfields, Manchester

I'm a girl, but not a very accomplished one; I put makeup on my face (sometimes, but barely take it off), I wear dresses occasionally and now and again I remember to have a hair cut. But that's as far as being a girl goes - no lip gloss, no straighteners, no shopping, no pink - certainly no pink.

So, what was I doing in Hey Little Cupcake - well I was trying out their cakes (and why did you think I was there?) as they've just released the East Coast collection; a set of seven unique flavours inspired by the owner of Hey Little Cupcake's travel throughout the states.

The East Coast Collection - and some pink

Taking influence from a trip up the East Coast, Sarah and the Hey Little Cupcake gang took existing sweet treats and baked goods that are synonymous with places along the route and creatively re-imagined them as cupcakes - pies, tarts and cheesecakes have been cupcaked - and strangely they actually work.

As much as I am a glutton (I put my hand up and admit I can eat 13 crepes in a row) I can't eat seven cupcakes - especially as the Hey Little Cupcakes are quite large (what my mother would term a muffin). Instead I chose the four that sounded most intriguing and scoffed those instead. I'd like to say I had help, but no, I ate them all by myself and didn't even regret it. I even ate the frosting. And I enjoyed them.

My favourite was the Key Lime Pie - light, zesty, sharp and with a buttery biscuit base adding an additional texture contrast. Brilliant. Another wonderfully light cake was the New York Cheesecake; I had thought this would be heavy (as they bake a bit of cheesecake IN the cupcake batter, no I don't know how they achieve that) and overly sweet - but it was all lightness, slight creaminess and a good hint of vanilla without feeling like I was licking soap.

My haul
A little heavier and way more decadent was the Brooklyn black out; a full on chocolate cupcake, with hints of espresso and chocolate frosting - you'd think cocoa overload, but chocolate is my one weakness (well with coffee, cheese, cake, wine...). Struggling, but determined not to be beaten, I finished the binge off with the Boston Cream Pie - sweet vanilla sponge with a custard filling and a custardy frosty; all cut through with an ultra bitter dark chocolate ganache that rescues what could be a sickly sweet cake and balances out the flavours.

Brooklyn Blackout

Yes the place is full of sweet things, cakes and pinkness - but it's balanced like the cakes themselves. The pink is balanced with a profusion of clean lines and white walls, interspersed with eye catching photography from Sarah's travels (it's obvious she doesn't have an eye just for cakes). The staff aren't giggly girls, just down to earth types with a passion for baking and making people's days a little brighter. Even their clientele isn't just girly girls - there were plenty of boys when I went in (and not just the ones forced to stop by with their girlfriends).

See it's not SO pink after all

Hey Little Cupcake is a expression of Sarah's passion and this shows. The cakes don't just look great, they taste fab, all the flavours are balanced, they're not too sweet and there's a big dollop of flair and creativity mixed in to boot. Not surprising seeing as Sarah has ten years of a very successful advertising career behind her and was so dedicated that during the initial pop up opening 18 months ago she was doing 14 hours days, 7 days a week. It's paid off, the shop is busy and what's more she's got the smarts to have big plans for the future and her little cakes, rather than being part of the bandwagon, Hey Little Cupcake the trail leader.

You can get a flavour a day from the East Coast collection all this week - but as a special treat on Friday and Saturday the whole collection will be in the store - so don't miss out!

The flavours are:
Monday: Florida Key Lime Pie. Digestive base with a lime sponge and lime cream frosting

Tuesday: Boston Cream Pie. Vanilla sponge, custard filling and custard buttercream with dark choc ganache

Wednesday: Lady Baltimore Cake. Cherry and raisin sponge topped with meringue frosting and pecans

Thursday: Mississippi Mud Pie. Oreo cookie base, Yorkie pudding filled sponge, topped with chocolate buttercream, fresh cream and chocolate sprinkles.

Friday: New York Cheesecake. Digestive base with vanilla cheesecake sponge topped vanilla cream cheese

Saturday: Brooklyn Blackout. Espresso and dark chocolate sponge filled with a chocolate fudge filling, topped with chocolate buttercream, dark chocolate ganache and chocolate sprinkles.

Sunday: Kentucky Jam Cake. Cinnamon sponge filled with raspberry jam topped with caramel buttercream, cinnamon sprinkles and toffee sauce.

Ps Hey Little Cupcake also run cookery classes, jam making, make wedding cakes, make BIG cakes, do gift certificates and have gluten free cakes in the store every day.

Hey Little Cupcake, Little Quay Street, Spinningfields, Manchester M3 3HF - 0161 832 0260 - - Twitter

Please note I was given my cakes for free, but didn't have to write anything nice. KI just really liked the cake and thought Sarah was an inspirational person to talk to.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Blue Pig - Northern Quarter, Manchester

My parents are Francophiles, unlike most of the British population I was brought up to respect those 'cheese eating surrender monkeys' by being force fed camembert from the age of four, drinking wine at table with every meal and my Mum talking to me constantly in French (so I took up Spanish at school and can still only say "je suis desole, je ne parle pas francias, je suis anglais" - TIP works a treat if you pull that in a bar in Paris coupled with the big eye look. Well it does if you're a girl).

The Blue Pig is the latest addition to the Northern Quarter; within, it's all dark wood, glass lampshades and charcuterie - like a slice of Montmarte served up to add some bohemian splendour to our rainy city. I did expect waitresses in flapper dresses and Lautrec in the corner with a bottle of the green fairy, but instead it was just after work young professionals and friends chatting over bottles of wine.

Ooh c'est tres chic, non? With thanks to The Blue Pig

It's a buzzy place, with staff zipping back and forwards - an open charcuterie counter and a well stocked bar (yes, I noted ALL the drinks - you know me, standard). The menu is a mix of sharing boards, cheeses, pates, meats, breads and a 333 menu - three each of starters, mains and puddings; you can have one of each for £20 or as separate dishes - it's all very reasonably priced.

Meats and cheeses and other delectables

We ordered a sharing board - some perfectly ripe roquefort, softly smoked salmon, finocchiona (fennel salami) and a very garlicky, smoky baba ganoush. Obviously we wanted bread to dip and chose the cumin studded kulcah flat bread, a little greasy but very perfumed and great with the baba ganoush. Everything was brought at room temperature, so we managed to taste the flavours in each - many places will serve meat and cheese fridge cold; big no no. But that wasn't the best thing about the meal; we'd rung ahead to explain one of us was gluten free, mainly to see of they did GF bread - we were advised they didn't but we could bring our own (which we did. Girl Guides, we'll well prepared) - however as soon as we said "can you make sure the bread is served separately because of contamination" off scooted the waitress and out came some GF bread. They'd only bloody gone and bought some especially (and a very good version too).

The board we created

Even though we visited in the first week The Blue Pig was already buzzing like a Northern Quarter stalwart that's been there for years. The level of service and understanding from the staff only did more  to support this feeling - it's as if The Blue Pig has always been here, let's hope it stays that way.

Ps The Blue Pig also does breakfasts, lunches AND churros (like donuts but way better), which I can't wait to try.

Price for a sharing board (four selections, plus two bread selections) £14.50

Food - 8/10 (although I'd like to try their cooked food as we just had a sharing board)
Service - 8/10
Atmosphere - 9/10
Value for money - 7/10 (the portions were good, but I'd like to see the 333 menu portions)

Total - 32/40

Go again - yeah the atmosphere is great, even if you're just in for drinks. I want to try that 333 menu as it looked like there were some very interesting dishes on there.

The Blue Pig, 69 High Street, The Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1FS - 0161 832 0630 - - Facebook - Twitter

The Blue Pig on Urbanspoon