Traditional children’s party ideas

Going back to basics

 

Children’s parties are a hot topic at the moment with the recent uproar and debate over the mum who invoiced a no-show.

It can be a pricey affair, so we asked our resident baking blogger and mum of four Alice from Alice’s Vintage Pantry to share with us some of her top tips for a traditional children’s party.

 

Over to you Alice ……

 

Alice's Vintage Pantry

 

Looking for something a bit different for your child’s birthday party? Why not go back to traditional kids parties that were common place before children’s entertainers and soft play venues were so popular.

There is something really lovely about organising a traditional kid’s party with traditional games and entertainment and a lovely homemade party tea.

At Alice’s Vintage Pantry we host lots of adult and children’s tea parties. We’ve put together a few tips and ideas to help you plan one of your own.

 

Choose a theme

 

First off decide on a theme for the party and use it to help you plan both the entertainment and the food.

Age dependent you could go for a Teddy Bears picnic, Princesses and Princes, Mad Hatters or Alice in Wonderland or maybe a Village Fete theme.

Invitations can be made with ease, just get yourself a pack of plain cards and get the kids decorating with stickers etc. Games food and entertainment can all be themed to match.

 
American Girl Doll Inspired Birthday Party by Anders Ruff

 

 

Food

 

Keep the food simple and small, nothing that is going to need cutlery.

Finger sandwiches, little cakes and bakes, cut up veg and fruit, cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks.

Perhaps get yourself some shaped biscuit cutters to suit the theme you have gone for and use them to make shaped sandwiches.

 

Blueberry cupcake

 

 

Drinks

 

Use china teapots, teacups and saucers for soft drinks. Kids love pouring their own!

If you are concerned about breakages there are lots of pretty paper cups available to buy, but in our experience very few breakages happen, and they love to use the proper cups and saucers.

 

Activities

 

Along with traditional games like ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ (always goes down well!) and musical bumps, have a couple of organised activities planned to give the children a bit of sitting down time (and a moment of relative calm for you!).

Perhaps bake some vanilla cupcakes and get the kids to decorate them. Disposable icing bags are inexpensive, add a few ‘sprinkles’ or chopped chocolate to decorate, put a named cocktail stick flag in each and they can eat them with their party tea.

Or get some stiff card and cut our photo frame shapes, let the kids decorate them with glitter, coloured pens, feathers etc.

 

.
Mackenzie's 2nd birthday party

 

 

Decoration

 

Consider strings of bunting and petals or beads sprinkled on the table, name place cards for the afternoon tea and fairy lights.

If you have a specific theme then browse the internet for decoration ideas to complement it, there are lots of ideas out there.

 

Cakes

 

Making your own birthday cake can seem a bit daunting but might not be as tricky as you think.

There are lots of simple design ideas available online for you to have a go at, most come with step by step guides, and, let’s face it – the cake is only on display for a few minutes, then cut, packed and wrapped to take home!

So not worth too much of a sweat!

 

 

 

Party bags

 

Paper bags can be bought online or in lots of the discount shops and supermarkets.

They are a great way to create personalised party bags that are a bit different to the norm. Get some stamps, stickers and coloured pens are decorate according to the theme. Stencil or write kids names on them and make sure they put the result of their craft activity in the bags before they go home.

 

Timing plan

 

It might sound a bit dull when you are talking about a kids party – but having an idea of what you are going to do and when can make a massive difference to how well it all goes, and how stressed you feel!

Have a couple of ‘group’ party games to get things going, something like pass the parcel or musical bumps. Break up the party games by scheduling in craft or baking activities.

When you serve the food will depend on the timing of the party, half way through normally works well, a bit more relative calm for you.

 

Be brave…give it a go and let us know how it goes!

 

Alice x

 

Photographs: Nathan Jones via Flickr Creative Commons, Anders Ruff via Flickr Creative Commons, Alice’s Vintage Pantry

 

 

Other articles by Alice ……

Easy chocolate cake recipe

Easy Valentine heart biscuits

The perfect Tiramisu recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Blueberry cheesecake cupcakes

Sticky toffee cupcake with salted caramel cream

Chocolate & chilli cupcake recipe

Introducing National Cupcake Week – top tips for baking the perfect cupcake

Creating the perfect vintage afternoon tea

Bake the perfect sponge cake

How to pack a healthy lunch box

Auntie Eva’s Parkin recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Mini strawberry shortcake recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cantonese Cookery Classes

Yang Sing make it dim sum simple

 

Being taught how to cook amazing Cantonese dishes from a master is a rare thing indeed. But deep in the kitchens of Yang Sing on Princess Street in Manchester’s China Town you can find Harry Yeung, sharing his culinary skills.

We were invited down to check out the classes – and who better to ask than health and nutrition expert Sara Perry who actually lived in China for a number of years. She’s someone who knows her noodles!

 

Over to you Sara ……

Sara Perry

 

Having lived and worked in China for a fair few years I consider myself a bit of a Sinophile, so jumped at the chance to try out the Chinese cookery course at Yang Sing.

Along with my fellow apprentice Cantonese chefs (there were eight of us on the course in total) we were greeted enthusiastically by Bonnie Yeung (the owner’s daughter) and presented with our very own Yang Sing apron.

 

After a brief inquiry as to whether any of us were squeamish or vegetarian, we made our way up to the 2nd floor with Bonnie explaining some of the history and provenance of the restaurant to us.

 

Cantonese duck

 

And then the fun began. We were led into a huge kitchen with one very smiley chef working away in the corner. We were right in the heart of the Cantonese Duck preparation area and we were going to have a go.

 

 

Chinese crispy duck

 

Whilst the chef showed us how to season the duck and prepare it for the pre-roasting drying process, Bonnie explained the importance of using a variety of flavours and different cooking styles to create the Ying and Yang vital to good Cantonese cuisine.

We prepared our ducks with relish though some were a little retistent when it came to arranging the head and neck to make the duck ‘look good’ on it’s hanging hook.

 

Dim sum station

 

Our next stop was back in the basement kitchen at the dim sum station.  This as Bonnie explained is the heart of the operation and we were honoured to be being taught by one of the best in the business, restaurant owner and Bonnie’s dad, Harry Yeung.

 

Making Dim Sum at Yang Sing.

Harry started by showing us how to make the ‘pastry’ circles needed to create the famous Har Gow dumplings and boy did he make it look easy. My attempt at replicating it was feeble although others in the group had a pretty good bash at it.

I came into my own when it came to putting the actual dumplings together though. I created a unique style of pleating that even Harry had to concede was “not bad” (I took that as high praise from the master).

Next on the menu were spring rolls – the trick is a double layer of pastry to stop the filling leaking and also make that über crispy crunch that makes them so yummy. Most of us found these pretty easy and before long we had a cracking production line going.

 

Cooking Dim Sum.

We also had a go at making a yummy beef dumpling seasoned with coriander and citrus zest before turning our hand to another Cantonese staple Siu Mai.

All the while we were creating our masterpieces Bonnie was explaining to us how to tell quality dim sum from the second rate, possibly mass produced stuff and also giving us ideas for creative fillings we could use at home and sharing with us where to get the ingredients from (thankfully the pastry for all except the Har gow is pre prepared and can be bought from the supermarket.)

 

Wok cooking

 

After a quick snack break where we got to eat our handmade spring rolls we headed off to the opposite side of the kitchen and the pièce de résistance – the wok cooking area.

Now, I’ve seen Chinese chefs throwing around food over a huge flame before but these wok stations were something else. The woks were huge and the flames were literally furnace like with the noise making it tough to hear at times.

We were shown how to make two dishes, one with beef and one with rice before being paired up to make one of the dishes ourselves.

I chose to take a supervisory role in my partnership and looked on as my partner in crime was patiently shown what to add and when, how to toss the food and then encouraged to create a huge wok of flame much to the amusement of the other chefs at the wok stations.

Everyone agreed that this was a pretty amazing experience – we were in a working restaurant kitchen, with real chefs making genuine Cantonese cuisine.

 

Kitchens at Yang Sing

.

Now eat!

 

The final part of the course involved taking a seat in the restaurant and being served the food we’d so lovingly prepared (the duck was a case of ‘here’s one they prepared earlier’ as it’s a 24 hour process to get that gorgeous shine on the meat that we all know).

And you know what, the food wasn’t bad.  It didn’t look exactly like the ones the chef prepared but it tasted great and pretty soon all the plates were empty.

I loved this experience. It was so much more than a cookery course, it was a true immersion into Cantonese cuisine and culture and I was just sorry it had to end.

 

 

Five stars from me!

 

Sara x

 

Photographs: McAvoy Photography (images embedded in the text), Sara Perry (images in slide show).

Disclosure

 

Yang Sing

 

Address: 34 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 4JY

Tel: 0161 236 2200     Fax: 0161 236 5934

Email: marketing@yang-sing.com

Website: yang-sing.com

Facebook: facebook.com/Yang-Sing

Twitter: @yangsingmcr

 

 

Other articles about Yang Sing:

New children’s menu at Yang Sing reviewed

Yang Sing cookery classes

My China Town

Yang Sing – Finding fresh ingredients

The Dragon Boat Race

 

 

 

 

 

Dorset Chocolate Mousse Cake

This cake is divine!

 

Domestic genius and guest blogger Laura served up this Dorset chocolate mousse cake one Sunday lunch time for all us girls – and it was SO good that we all simultaneously wanted to marry her!

 

Dorset chocolate mousse cake

 

The shopping list

350g dark choc (70% coco solids)
225g unsalted butter
5 eggs
300g golden caster sugar
100g butter biscuits (broken into bite size bits)

 

The cooking bit

Heat oven to 160 degrees centigrade / fan 140 degrees / gas mark 3.

Butter cake tin with spring bottom (23cm tin).

Melt the chocolate and butter over very low heat in the pan.

Beat sugar and eggs with an electric whisk until pale, thick and doubled in volume (takes about 5 mins).

Pour melted chocolate mixture into egg / sugar mixture and fold in gently until all chocolate combined.

Add broken biscuits and mix.

Pour mixture into tin and cook for 40-45 mins until just firm.

Remove and allow to cool for 30-45 mins.

Either serve warm or put into the fridge to chill so it goes all fudgy.

 

Dorset chocolate mousse cakeDorset chocolate mousse cake

 

Eat and enjoy!

 

Children eating cake

 

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)

 

Photographs: Alison Staples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cake & Bake Show 2014

Release your inner cake-a-holic with our 5 must see highlights

 

Manchester Central has once again become Cake Central. We sent Verity from Ivy Bell Baking Kits along to check it out on our behalf. She left no bag of icing sugar unturned in her quest, meeting John Whaite, the winner of series three of the Great British Bake Off in the process.

 

Over to you Verity …..

The Cake and Bake show is on this weekend at Manchester Central with everything you need to make, bake and decorate the perfect cake. I am slightly biased as I confess I am a pastry chef myself, a certified bakeaholic.

I was invited by Neff, one of the event sponsors, who also have a stand running the hugely popular online bake it yourself campaign.

 

John Whaite Cake & Bake

 

We were lucky enough to get a private baking demo from John Whaite (GBB Winner 2012).

Actually, half way through Rosemary Schrader bellowed over “hello dear boy”, how very posh!

Afterwards John told me his favourite bake at the moment is scones, and that when he’s back in Manchester, The Northern Quarter is his place of choice and loves Teacup Kitchen.

Even on a day off he still likes to spend time in the kitchen!

 

There are so many wonderful things to do and see I thought I would give you my 5 must see highlights:

 

1. The Celebrity Chefs

 

There are lots of talks and demos every day, you really can’t have a dull moment. From Burlesque Baking to watching the rather handsome Simon Rimmer to the master of patisserie himself Eric Lanlard.

If it’s advanced sough dough, deeply filled pies or even just  making a cake rise, this is great for all bakers whatever your skill level.

 

2. Experts in cake decorating

 

Where to start? All the big companies like Dr Ortker and Culpitt are there, but my favourite was a company called Cake Lace – which uses a very clever and easy product to produce the most intricate lace detail.

 

Cake Lace

 

Honestly the effect was amazing. It’s a must for any cake decorating brides to be, and the fact you can paint it sparkly gold is even better!

 

3. The Food Producers

 

From delicious brownies to award winning sticky toffee puddings, make sure you skip breakfast. There is so much lovely food to try and buy you need to go on an empty stomach.

I particularly liked Tea Hive (Chorlton based tea shop). I spoke to the two owners Vicky and Michelle who had some amazing cakes for sale, including vegan and gluten free, plus their best seller the Salted Caramel cake – YUM!

 

Tea Hive

 

4. Tasters, special offers & competitions

 

For any money savvy shoppers, it is certainly a good place to find a bargain. From decorating equipment to bread making courses, there are loads of special offers that will tempt.

And while you’re tasting all the freebies (and if you take the kids this always keeps them happy!) enter some of the competitions. My favourite was to win a Bake and Slide Neff Oven – it’s the one used on The Great British Bake Off!

 

5. Welcome to the Jungle

 

I can’t finish without mentioning Cakebomb. Sixteen or so independent and very talented cake decorators have created this amazing display of edible art based on a Jungle theme.

I spoke to two of them, Tracy and Amanda, who told me it’s taken months of hard work, but the display is stunning. It is so worth a visit, I dare you not to OOOH and AHHH.

 

Cake Bomb

 

 

 

The Cake & Bake Show is on until Sunday the 6th April 2014 at Manchester Central. For more information visit thecakeandbakeshow.co.uk.

 

Verity x

 

Photographs: Verity Gaughan

 

Other related articles

Cake & Bake Show 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Chocolate Cake Recipe

Showing that the old recipes are often the best

 

With Mother’s Day tomorrow, we’re celebrating mums, baking and passing down those favourite recipes through the generations – creating family history.

When it comes to baking – who better to ask than our regular cakey blogger Alice from Alice’s Vintage Pantry.

 

Over to you Alice ……

Alice's Vintage Pantry

 

Mother’s Day for me is an opportunity to take a little longer getting out of bed.

To watch my kids attempt to make me breakfast (mostly far too little for success).

And to spend some time with my own Mum.

 

I realise how lucky that makes me, I have my Mum and my kids around me, something I don’t take for granted and something lots of others don’t have.

It makes me think a lot about  the generations in my family, lots who have lived before me in very different times and circumstances.

It got me thinking about ‘the way things were’, and how different life was. Seemingly small things like my Nan producing Christmas dinner for around 15 people from her tiny ‘back kitchen’, tiny fridge (and cold slab in the pantry), and tiny oven. I’ve no idea how she managed it.

It’s easy to get used to bigger fridges and ovens and the helpful addition of dishwashers too! She always did it with a smile, then would apply a bit of lippy in the ‘front kitchen’ mirror before sitting down to eat.

 

Recipes scribbled on bits of paper

 

She had a little book filled with recipes scribbled on bits of paper, I never remember her using them, she probably knew most of it by heart.

One of the first cook books I came across was written by Mary Berry, the first of 70 books she has written to date. ‘The Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book’.
My Mum has had it on the shelf in the kitchen for as long as I can remember.

Looking a little warn now, she still uses it and I have borrowed it on lots of occasions.

Recipe books and scribbled recipes handed down from generation to generation are the ones I love the most. Generally speaking they survive because they are good recipes.

Here is one that a friend passed on to me a couple of years ago. It was passed to her from her Mum.

Give it a go and let me know what you think.

 

Chocolate Cake

 

Ingredients:

  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 75g plain chocolate
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 175g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 175g light muscavado sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 225ml natural yoghurt

 

Method:

  • Heat oven to 160c
  • Butter a 9” spring clip tin and line the base with greaseproof paper
  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and baking powder onto a plate
  • Break chocolate into a small bowl, add the boiling water and stir until melted
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with both sugars until soft and light
  • Lightly mix the eggs and vanilla essence and gradually beat into the creamed mixture
  • Stir in the melted chocolate and then the yoghurt
  • Place a sieve over the mixing bowl, spoon in the flour mixture and sift over the creamed ingredients
  • Fold in the flour lightly and evenly using the cutting edge of a metal tablespoon
  • Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and spread level
  • Set in the heated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes
  • Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then run a spatula around the sides to loosen and transfer to a wire cooling rack and leave to cool

 

Icing:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 150ml crème fraiche
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 75g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

  • Put crème fraiche and sugar in a saucepan and place over a medium heat until the mixture starts to boil, then turn down to the barest simmer for 6 mins
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it has all melted
  • Now add the butter and beat it in until completely melted
  • Then add the vanilla extract
  • Beat until the icing thickens and cools then spread it on to your cake…yum!

 

Chocolate & Raspberry Cake

 

Top with raspberries and enjoy with a lovely cup of tea.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Alice x

 

Photographs: Alice’s Vintage Pantry

 

 

Other articles by Alice ……

Easy Valentine heart biscuits

The perfect Tiramisu recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Blueberry cheesecake cupcakes

Sticky toffee cupcake with salted caramel cream

Chocolate & chilli cupcake recipe

Introducing National Cupcake Week – top tips for baking the perfect cupcake

Creating the perfect vintage afternoon tea

Bake the perfect sponge cake

How to pack a healthy lunch box

Auntie Eva’s Parkin recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Mini strawberry shortcake recipe

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainable Eating in Chinatown

Heads, shoulders, knees and toes…. on a plate

 

Austerity cooking is back in vogue – livers and cheeks and tongue. In addition to being newly trendy, this kind of cooking which uses the whole animal is also most sustainable.

We asked Bonnie Yeung at Yang Sing to elucidate this new trend which the Chinese community have been practicing for years.

 

Over to you Bonnie ……

Bonnie Yeung

 

People are really embracing food in a way they haven’t in decades, this is a trend that’s enabled by technology and social media.

Food to most consumers is as much about enjoyment, passion, and love – as it is about nourishment.

We’ve become a nation of eaters.

We’re eaters but not necessarily cooks.

 

Many are reliant on manufacturers and retailers to the work for them. Instead of cooking, what some seem to prefer is composing, taking semi-prepared components and combining them.

We’re lazy cooks essentially.

 

Same dish – different restaurant

 

For those who are in the food and drink industry, it isn’t such a bad thing. Frankly, it’s been great for Manchester eateries; the domestic kitchen torpor has created a thriving dining out scene, helped pull Manchester out of recession and made the city more exciting.

So why do I still sometimes find that I’m eating the same dish at different restaurants?

I believe many people, and indeed some chefs, rely on far less variety throughout the year and reproduce the same bland formulas that seem to sell, leading to an unsustainable level of consumption; dependence on imports and a lack of understanding of how to cook ingredients that might help reduce the impact on the environment.

 

What happens to the bits that are not prime cuts?

 

Eat these too and we would save money, help the environment and slaughter fewer animals.

The moral imperative: if you eat meat, then the idea of eating intestine, tongue or feet shouldn’t distress you any more than tucking into a chop or a steak – it’s all flesh and blood.

Shelves of disembodied, boneless, velvety chicken breast, and lean steaks stacked high in supermarkets create a weird visceral disconnect. Where’s the rest of the animal, and why aren’t we eating it? Killing an animal, sacrificing one life to sustain another is not to be taken lightly; we don’t need to do it to survive – so if we make light of our livestock – we devalue their worth and the sanctity of life in general.

The creative imperative: I find the prime cuts tend towards the same texture, consistency and taste, with only small differentials in flavour – more ‘lamby’ or more ‘beefy’.

 

Tripe

 

If we’re truly fans of variety then we must turn to all the more interesting cuts; the creamy liver, the velveteen underbelly, the smooth, melting flesh of the feet or knuckles, combined with the fibrous crunch of tendon – these better by far the monotonous masticating of mince, steak or breast.

 

Chinatown – independent, varied and interesting

 

One of the few areas in the city where one can find massive meat diversity is Chinatown. The eateries in Chinatown truly are independent, varied and interesting – if a little more challenging or inaccessible. The menus aren’t always in English – so find a Chinese friend (I’ll be your friend if you’re paying for dinner!).

 

knuckles Chinese style

 

There is a tiny grocers’, run by an elderly couple known only to me as Uncle’ and ‘Aunty. They can be found behind a screen at mealtimes, perched on makeshift furniture cooking up a riot in their rice steamer and kettle, using produce straight from the shop.

It is sights like these that beatify Chinatown; there is nowhere in Manchester today, that one can share something so personal, intimate and evocative. So Uncle and Aunty are not au fait with technology – they’re not on Twitter or Facebook – it probably means they’re missing out on some customers, and they’re not raking in millions. They probably find it difficult to communicate the origins, artistry and creativity that are behind many ingredients and dishes in Chinatown – within a mere 135 characters.

 

Textures, layers, stories and discoveries

 

It is indeed difficult to convey the cultural delight of slow, convivial, ‘pick for hours’ dining style that is common amongst the Chinese. The textures; layers, stories and discoveries of Chinatown foods – the majority of people miss out on.

 

Intestines Chinese style

 

Chinatown is aged, interesting and complex – it’s not new and shiny, not a hipster haven. It’s nostalgic, personal and familial. It’s a neighbourhood to an older population that don’t tweet; have time like old man river; that have always eaten things other people have not, and have menus like War and Peace.

For decades, the more interesting ingredients that have been shunned – have been popular and commonplace at Chinese dining tables. The glories and subtleties of steamed chickens feet, pork knuckles, fish heads and braised pigs blood were previously unknown. What Chinatown offers is a more sustainable example of eating. So look East for more exciting mouth feels and ways of using up all the parts of an animal.

 

Gastronomic experiences to be uncovered

 

I want prosperity for my community but sometimes secretly I’m thankful that in a world of social media, technology and information – there are still places and gastronomic experiences to be uncovered; places where appreciative foodies can eat quality food without having to battle with the droves of glitterati for a table in the evenings.

However, in the age of foodie fashion, there are growing voices of dissent that demand accessibility from Chinatown, insisting on being handed everything on a plate – access to feet, knuckles and heads too.

 

Feet cooked Chinese Style

 

The fist of modernisation is beating at the gates of Chinatown. But let’s try to stop a while… take a seat, enjoy a cup of steaming tea, ponder the subtleties of life and food, and suck on a duck tongue or two.

 

Bonnie x

Yang Sing

Address: 34 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 4JY

Tel: 0161 236 2200     Fax: 0161 236 5934

Email: marketing@yang-sing.com

Website: yang-sing.com

Facebook: facebook.com/Yang-Sing

Twitter: @yangsingmcr

 

Photographs: Yang Sing (tripe, knuckles, intestines and feet)

This is an edit of an article published in Now Then issue 8

Disclosure

 

Other articles by Bonnie

Yang Sing cookery classes

My China Town

Yang Sing – Finding fresh ingredients

The Dragon Boat Race

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Pancake Recipes

Ideas for filling your pancake

 

March 4th 2014 is Shrove Tuesday. Toss that about a bit and you’ve also got Pancake Day!

Pancakes are associated with the day before the start of Lent because they were a way to use up foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the 40 day fast.

While we all know that pancakes are good all year round – devoting a day to them was always going to get our approval.

 

Pancake

 

 

Easy pancake recipe

 

Everyone can have a go at whipping up a bit of batter, flipping a few pancakes and trying different fillings. Here’s a fool proof (we think – but never say never) pancake recipe from Netmums which should make 12 small pancakes:

 

  • 100g white plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 150ml milk
  • 150ml water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (plus more for greasing the pan)

Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and break in the egg.

Add a little milk and stir gently. Add the rest of the milk slowly and stir until smooth. Stir in the water and oil and beat for one minute.

(If you have an electric whisk bung all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until you have a smooth batter).

Heat a drop of oil in an omelette pan. When the pan is really hot, pour in about 3 tablespoons of batter. Cook for just under a minute – using a spatula to keep an eye on how it’s cooking.

Now the fun bit … FLIP IT – or if you find you’re dropping too many, turn it over with the spatula.

Cook the other side for 15 seconds.

 

Pancake fillings

 

Here are some of our favourites:

1. Lemon and sugar.

2. Maple Syrup.

 

pancake

 

3. Ice cream and chocolate sauce

 

Pancake with ice cream & chocolate sauce

 

4. Raspberries and cream.

 

Pancake with raspberries and cream

 

5. Berries and bacon.

 

Pancakes and bacon

 

Delicious!

 

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)

 

Photographs: Danielle Scott, hedvigs, Chris Barber, Sana Lee, Joel Gonsalves, Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons on Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Valentine heart biscuits

Recipe – A gorgeous gift for the one you love

 

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching – it’s time to show the one you love, just how much! Of course you do that every day of the year, but it’s nice to have a focus. With this gorgeous recipe, the only problem will be deciding who you love more – your other half or the biscuits!

Our regular cakey blogger, Alice, from Alice’s Vintage Pantry has put together another quick, easy and delicious recipe for us today so that we can say I LOVE YOU in the sweetest way!

 

Over to you Alice ……

Alice's Vintage Pantry

 

Valentine’s day – a day on which we step-up the romantic gestures, tell our loved ones we love them them and spend a little more time with them.

It sounds great in theory. The reality in our house is that we are surrounded by children all our waking hours, busy trying to get through household tasks, go to work and run a business

 

It doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

I’m also always a bit stumped as to what to give as a gift. Not one for commercialism and pressies for the sake of it, I have decided I should bake for my other half (and the kids!).

Predictable maybe, but something I have spent time on (rather than money), will mean more to my family. So I’ve come up with a simple way to make some pretty looking biscuits, they don’t cost much and are pretty easy to do (you could even make them with children). They also store well in an airtight container, with baking to do for other peoples valentines gifts, this is a godsend for me!

So here is what you need….

 

Ingredients

 

To make the biscuits

  • 125g plain flour
  • 30g corn flour
  • 90g butter
  • 45g icing sugar
  • Egg yolk
  • Heart shape cutters (round cutter – optional)

 

For the decoration

  • Ready made fondant icing in any colour you like
  • Edible sparkle or edible silver balls (optional)

 

 

Method

 

Pre-heat the oven to 180c.

Sieve flour and corn flour together, rub in butter and add icing sugar.

Bind the ingredients together with the egg yolk and a tiny bit of water.

Roll out to around 5mm depth and cut out your biscuits (using your heart shape cutter).

 

Heart shaped cookie cutters

 

Heart shaped biscuits or cookies

 

Place them on a lined baking tray and bake for 7-8 minutes. Leave the biscuits on a cooling wire until cold.

 

Heart shaped biscuits or cookies

 

 

Decoration

 

Roll out your fondant icing and cut out hearts in a variety of sizes to layer on to your biscuits.

Use a small amount of jam to get your icing to stick.

Here are some photos of the ones I decorated (with my four year old). You could also sprinkle some edible sparkle on top.

 

Heart shaped iced biscuits or cookies

 

Either put them in a tin or stack them and tie with ribbon – job done!

Was that a bit too easy??

I’m starting to wonder if the romantic gesture would work better if they took longer to make!!

Ah well, perhaps I better get planning a 3-course meal too!

 

Competition time

 

Heat shaped cookie cutters

 

We’ve got a set of heart shaped cookie cutters to give away to one lucky reader – so you can have a go at making Valentine cookies yourself.

All we want to know is what’s the best or worst Valentine present you’ve ever received ?

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.

So don’t be shy – whether it’s plastic carnations or an Aston Martin, we’d love to know?

Happy Valentines

 

Alice xx

 

Photographs: Alice’s Vintage Pantry, Alison Staples

 

 

Other articles by Alice ……

The perfect Tiramisu recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Blueberry cheesecake cupcakes

Sticky toffee cupcake with salted caramel cream

Chocolate & chilli cupcake recipe

Introducing National Cupcake Week – top tips for baking the perfect cupcake

Creating the perfect vintage afternoon tea

Bake the perfect sponge cake

How to pack a healthy lunch box

Auntie Eva’s Parkin recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Mini strawberry shortcake recipe

 

 

By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.

 

Competition closing date: 9pm Monday 10th February 2014.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Monday 10th February 2014. The winners will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions and loquax. If you are a lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.

 

Previous competition winners (last 6 months)

Cocktails & Dreams – win a cocktail making masterclass at Lock 91 (29th August 2013). Winner Nicola Robinson.

Creative Stitches & Hobbycraft Show – win tickets (1st September 2013). Winners Claire Jackson, Pauline Rendell, Joanna Arthur, Fran Morgan, Liz Ferguson, Michelle Smith, Dil Price, Pam Gregory, Linda Weatherley.

The Independent Interiors Show – win a house hamper (3rd September 2013). Winner Nichola Gill.

Indulge Fragrance Boutique – win bottles of perfume (8th September 2013). Winners Gillian Shiels, Leanne Williams, Julie Ward.

Creamline Dairies / Getting Kids to Eat Breakfast – win a Saturday Cookshop course with a celebrity chef (18th September 2013). Winner Sara Perry.

The Lounge Gallery – win a Michelle Keeling necklace (22nd September 2013). Winner Alison Ferrara.

The Perfect Princess Party – win a Princess fancy dress outfit (14th October 2013). Winner Emma Wolski.

MINILAND Manchester – win a family day pass to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester (6th November 2013). Winner Andrea Lloyd.

New trends Christmas decorations – win a John Lewis Christmas 2013 teddy (11th November 2013). Winner Rachael Barratt.

Luxurious home products – win a throw from Linen Loft (15th November 2013). Winner Chris Fletcher.

Personalised Christmas Gifts – win a personalised mug from Photobox (18th Novemberr 2013). Winners Katrina Steward, Nicola McConnell.

Bathroom makeover – win a selection of pamper products (14th January 2014). Winner Georgina Jacobs.

 

 

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Thank you so much to everyone who entered our competition. The winner is Donna Lawton.

 

 

 

 

 

Farmhouse Breakfast Week

Fancy a hearty brekkie on the house? Creamline makes it happen for Farmhouse Breakfast Week

 

Healthy Breakfast

 

Last week we had Blue Monday to wake up to – the most depressing day of the year apparently – but this week, you’ll be pleased to know, things are looking up!

Farmhouse Breakfast Week runs from 26th January – 1st February 2014.

 

It’s an annual celebration championing the importance of breakfast – and a ‘Week’ we’re definitely happy to have on our radar.

We have to admit we’re often guilty of contributing to the statistic that 47% of people regularly skip breakfast during the week. A combination of an empty fridge, marshalling the kids to finish off their homework, and a ‘no clean tights crisis’ can put paid to a calm and nutritious family breakfast.

So anything that makes getting a good brekkie down you and the brood a bit easier is heaven-sent.

Family run dairy Creamline’s online delivery service www.creamline.co.uk is one of the tricks up our sleeve to help banish breakfast stress. You can order store cupboard essentials – from milk, yoghurt and eggs, to juices, bread and jam and many other morning must-haves – by 9pm in the evening for delivery the next morning.

To celebrate Farmhouse Breakfast week, our friends at Creamline are giving us their hints and tips for a blissful breakfast, sharing their favourite weekend frittata recipe and offering you the chance to win a fabulous farmhouse breakfast hamper, so you’ll have no excuse not to fuel the family for the day!

 

So what is a Farmhouse Breakfast

 

Anyone still wondering what exactly a farmhouse breakfast is? At 4Manchester Women, we see it as anything more than a cursory slice of toast. Think a hearty English breakfast, a bacon buttie, or traditional porridge loaded with honey…Mmm.  Still, maybe not practical for the daily grind – so what’s the answer to everyday breakfast conundrum?

 

Top tips for making time for a healthy breakfast

 

Creamline Dairies MD's Chris Swallow and Rob Purvis.

Rob Purvis, joint MD at Creamline and father of five, shares his top three tips on making time for a healthy breakfast to kick-start the day:

  • Topping up your weekly shop with an online order of convenience essentials will stop that sinking feeling when you open the fridge only to find no milk – Creamline also offers a great range of juices, cereals, bread and conserves.
  • Porridge is one of the very best starts you can get to the day – why not soak your oats in milk the evening before? By morning most of the milk’s already been absorbed, making cooking time far quicker.
  • Be as organised as possible the night before – laying out school clothes, setting the breakfast table and packing school bags – even a minute saved in the morning can be precious!

 

Weekend frittata recipe

 

For the weekend, however, when breakfast can easily turn into a lovely, lazy brunch, why not try this hearty, delicious and nutritious frittata recipe created by celebrity chef Nigel Brown, especially for Creamline:

 

frittata

 

Ingredients

  • 500 g potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 cm (½ in) circles
  • 225 g baby spinach leaves, destalked
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 red pepper, quartered lengthways, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 5–6 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated mature cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper

 

Method

  • Cook the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for 5–6 minutes or until almost tender.
  • Put the spinach in a steamer or colander over the potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the spinach has wilted.
  • Drain the potatoes.
  • Press the spinach with the back of a spoon to extract excess moisture, then chop.
  • Heat the rapeseed oil in a non-stick frying pan that is about 25 cm (10 in) in diameter.
  • Add the pepper slices and sauté over a moderate heat for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the potatoes and spring onions and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix in the spinach.
  • With a draining spoon, remove about half of the vegetables from the pan and add to the egg mixture, leaving the oil in the pan.
  • Stir the egg and vegetables briefly to mix, then pour into the frying pan.
  • Cover and cook, without stirring, for about 6 minutes or until the omelette is almost set but still a little soft on top.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the grill.
  • Dust the top of the frittata with the mature cheddar cheese and place under the grill. Cook for 2- 3 minutes or until browned and puffed around the edges.
  • Cut into quarters or wedges and serve.

 

Competition time

 

We’ve got a fabulous farmhouse breakfast hamper to give away from Creamline Dairies!

 

Creamline breakfast hamper

 

There’ll be no excuses not to make an event out of your weekend breakfast if you’re the lucky winner of Creamline’s brilliant breakfast hamper.

Packed with goodies including eggs, bacon, fresh orange juice, cereal variety packs, jams and treats for the kids like flavoured milks, you’ll be treating yourselves to a veritable feast, worthy of any farmhouse!

All we want to know is what and where would your dream breakfast be?

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.

So don’t be shy – whether it’s smoked haddock on Loch Lomond or apple danish in Copenhagen, we’d love to know?

 

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)

 

Photographs: Free Digital Photos, Creamline, JeffreyW on Flickr

To see if Creamline delivers to your area, just type your postcode into www.creamline.co.uk

Disclosure

 

By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.

 

Competition closing date: 9pm Friday 7th February 2014.

Please include a * in your answer if you don’t want to receive updates from Creamline Dairies. Please note that the prize does not include travel or accommodation. Prize redeemable until July 2014.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Friday 7th February 2014. The winners will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions and loquax. If you are a lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.

 

Previous competition winners (last 6 months)

Cocktails & Dreams – win a cocktail making masterclass at Lock 91 (29th August 2013). Winner Nicola Robinson.

Creative Stitches & Hobbycraft Show – win tickets (1st September 2013). Winners Claire Jackson, Pauline Rendell, Joanna Arthur, Fran Morgan, Liz Ferguson, Michelle Smith, Dil Price, Pam Gregory, Linda Weatherley.

The Independent Interiors Show – win a house hamper (3rd September 2013). Winner Nichola Gill.

Indulge Fragrance Boutique – win bottles of perfume (8th September 2013). Winners Gillian Shiels, Leanne Williams, Julie Ward.

Creamline Dairies / Getting Kids to Eat Breakfast – win a Saturday Cookshop course with a celebrity chef (18th September 2013). Winner Sara Perry.

The Lounge Gallery – win a Michelle Keeling necklace (22nd September 2013). Winner Alison Ferrara.

The Perfect Princess Party – win a Princess fancy dress outfit (14th October 2013). Winner Emma Wolski.

MINILAND Manchester – win a family day pass to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester (6th November 2013). Winner Andrea Lloyd.

New trends Christmas decorations – win a John Lewis Christmas 2013 teddy (11th November 2013). Winner Rachael Barratt.

Luxurious home products – win a throw from Linen Loft (15th November 2013). Winner Chris Fletcher.

Personalised Christmas Gifts – win a personalised mug from Photobox (18th Novemberr 2013). Winners Katrina Steward, Nicola McConnell.

 

 

 

THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Thank you so much to everyone who entered our competition. The winner is Janet Rumley.

 

 

 

The perfect Tiramisu recipe

You’ll never try another Tiramisu recipe again!

 

It’s a bold claim, but if anyone can pull it off then cakey blogger Alice from Alice’s Vintage Pantry is our woman. In deepest, darkest January we could all do with a bit of a pick-me-up in the form of a boozy pudding!

 

Over to you Alice ……

Alice's Vintage Pantry

 

Tiramisu…the best pudding ever??!!

Those of you who read my blogs on a regular basis will know my major passion is cake. Lots of it, preferably with a good dose of buttercream, and if there is a scone in sight then some clotted cream too.

Served on some vintage china, it’s a very English thing.

 

It’s what I do and what I love. But this time I have decided to blog about something equally as yummy but definitely NOT English – TIRAMISU!

 

Tiramisu.

I’ve spent many a moment considering what my favourite ever pudding is, and this one is up there at the top, well, depending on who is making it! It has to be homemade, definitely not from a supermarket, and it has to be the recipe below.

This recipe has been with me since my student days at Birmingham University. My house mate at the time introduced me to it, and it has been made in our house on a regular basis ever since. Even my teenage son has been known to peel himself out of his bedroom and make it.

Give it a go, you won’t try another Tiramisu recipe again!

 

Ingredients

 

  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 65mls cream
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 500g sponge fingers
  • 1 pint strong black coffee (cooled)
  • A little cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons of brandy (or rum if you prefer)
  • 45g caster sugar
  • Chocolate (chopped)

 

Method

 

Beat together the mascarpone and cream cheese.

Add the egg yolks and beat, then add the cream and beat again.

Beat the egg whites to a peak and then add the sugar.

Mix gradually until it looks a bit glossy.

 

Tiramisu mixture

 

 

Beat egg whites

 

Fold the two mixtures together.

Put the brandy and the cold coffee into a bowl and then one by one dip the sponge fingers in, layering them into the bottom of a medium sized serving dish. One layer of sponge fingers followed by a sprinkling of cocoa powder, then a layer of the cream mixture. One more layer of sponge fingers, more cocoa powder and finish with a layer of the cream mixture.

Top it with a good sprinkling of cocoa powder and some chopped chocolate.

 

Tiramisu

 

Tiramisu

 

 

And there you have it! Let me know what you think!

 

Alice x

 

 

Photographs: Alexis Fam Photography on Flickr, Alice’s Vintage Pantry

 

Other articles by Alice ……

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Blueberry cheesecake cupcakes

Sticky toffee cupcake with salted caramel cream

Chocolate & chilli cupcake recipe

Introducing National Cupcake Week – top tips for baking the perfect cupcake

Creating the perfect vintage afternoon tea

Bake the perfect sponge cake

How to pack a healthy lunch box

Auntie Eva’s Parkin recipe

Keeping Christmas cakes simple

Easy Valentine heart biscuits

Mini strawberry shortcake recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

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