Chocolate Orange Cake

PMDSC_0015

Possibly my favourite chocolate is Terrys Chocolate Orange (well, its definitely in the top 3..) so a few weeks ago I decided I was going to make a cake full of it. In the sponge, icing and for decoration. It might be chocolate orange overload, but I don’t care! It turned out pretty rich, but in small slices, was delicious. And the buttercream was something else, could have eaten the whole bowl on its own! So here’s the recipe for my Terrys choc orange overload cake. Of course….other orange chocolate is available (but not as good!)

Ingredients:

For the sponge;

  • 250g butter
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 100g Terrys dark chocolate orange, broken into little chunks
  • 100g terry chocolate orange with popping candy, also broken into little chunks

For the icing;

  • 100g Terrys milk chocolate orange
  • 200g butter
  • 400g icing sugar

To decorate;

  • A mixture of terry chocolate orange segments

DSC_0023

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees, grease and line two 20cm springform cake tins.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and just as it completely melts add in the 100g dark chocolate orange pieces. Remove from the heat and stir until all dissolved.

  3. Add in the sugar and eggs and stir until all completely combined.

  4. Sift together the flour and cocoa, then fold into the batter until all mixed well.

  5. Add in and fold through the broken pieces of popping candy chocolate orange.

  6. Pour the mixture equally into the two tins and bake for about 25-30 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn out of the tins and leave to cool completely.

  7.  To make the buttercream, first melt the milk chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, then leave to cool

  8. Beat together the butter and icing sugar by hand or in a free standing mixer until fluffy then stir in the molten chocolate.

  9. When the cakes are cool, spread 1/3 of the icing on the top of one cake, and sandwich with the other cake, then cover the top with icing and decorate as you please.

Happy eating :)

DSC_0011

DSC_0019

DSC_0022

DSC_0025

DSC_0029

Disclosure: Despite what you may think, Terrys did not pay me to write this recipe, or supply any of the chocolate for it. I just love it!

Review: The Lawns Restaurant @ Thornton Hall

January is well known for being a bit of a ‘nothing’ month. The weather’s generally bad, everyones broke from Christmas and we’re all on new health kicks. So what better a time for a little night away to try and beat the January blues and put all the negativity to one side. All this in mind we headed up to the Wirral for a night away at Thornton Hall Hotel & Spa. I’ll tell you a little more about the hotel itself in a post very soon, but first lets talk about dinner. The most important bit, obviously.

The Lawns Restaurant at Thornton Hall has 3 AA Rosettes and is headed up by Executive Chef Matt Worswick, who took over only several months ago and has a prestigious Michelin Starred background. It’s clear that the hotel is really trying to push forward with the standard of the food and highlight their status as a real destination for food lovers in the northwest.

IMG_6092

We started off with a drink the lounge bar, and the service was extremely efficient and professional. We had the menus to have a flick through and our order was taken before we went through to the dining room. We chose from the A la Carte, but they also serve a tasting menu at £75pp. The dining room was quite traditional with dark wood panelling and furniture, and 2 amazing chandeliers giving a lovely sparkle to the room.

lawns3

Image courtesy of Thornton Hall

The food started off well with the Chefs Amuse Bouche – a Scallop Tartar with Lemongrass and Coconut. This was incredibly fresh tasting and I really loved it.

IMG_6095

Then followed some extremely attractive little mini loaves of bread – granary, white and onion. They tasted as good as they looked and the onion one was outstanding.

IMG_6093

I chose the Treacle braised brisket – roasted onion – ox tongue for my starter. The textures of the crispy and charred onion, and the soft ox tongue with the flavour of the treacle glaze were excellent. Lee chose the Partridge – Pear – chestnut – date puree. Having tried a bite (or three!) of this, I think it was probably the dish of the night for us. The date purée was excellent, the pear gave a lovely refreshing burst of sweetness and the partridge was nice and moist.

IMG_6097

IMG_6098

IMG_6096

We both went for fish for the main. Lee the Sea Bream – Jerusalem artichoke – cabbage heart-bacon and myself the Gurnard – Smoked almonds – cauliflower – salt milk crumble. Again a win for the Pureé, the artichoke one with the bream was gorgeous Lee commented and the cabbage hearts nice and charred, although a little under seasoned for his palate. The textures of cauliflower with my dish we lovely and gave a really interesting eat. I would comment that the plate looked a little ‘beige’. Sometimes this is the look the chef is going for, which is fair enough, but it didn’t do anything for me.

IMG_6101

IMG_6099

Moving on the the desserts, and there was one that certainly jumped out from the menu – Salted Caramel Fondant – Yoghurt Sorbet. It was obviously jumping out to most people in the room, as I heard a lot of people ordering it, and saw a lot of them going out! The restaurant was packed by this point, and we had a bit of a delay for the desserts, but the flavour of the fondant certainly made up for this. It was light and fluffy, while the sorbet was incredibly refreshing.

IMG_6102

We moved back through to the lounge for coffee & tea (and whiskey), and a little tray of petit fours also arrived for us which was lovely. These were also a highlight, particularly the rhubarb jelly.

IMG_6105

IMG_6107

All in all, a lovely meal at The Lawns Restaurant. Worth a look in if you’re up that way, or fancy a night away from it all.

Roz :)

Disclosure: Our meal at The Lawns was complimentary but we paid for all of our pre and post dinner drinks. All opinions as always are entirely honest

Exciting Times for Birmingham in 2015

Now, I apologise that I’m a little behind the times at the moment. There are tonnes of exciting new things planned for Birmingham over the next few months and apart from telling you about Marmalade, I’ve not been very good about getting the news out there about them. I’m so snowed under in the day job that I’m constantly chasing my tail keeping up with the blog too. There’s been lots of tit bits of leaked info about new openings for Brum and I’ve got press releases coming out my ears! The guys over at Out in Brum have done a brilliant job rounding up all the news in one of their recent posts, so I’m just going to tell you about a few things that have piqued my interest!

1. GAS STREET SOCIAL

Gas Street Social Artist Impression

 

The above is an artists impression of the new Gas Street Social, set to open in March in the location of the old Bar Room Bar. With an urban and industrial vibe, they are planning on serving up a range of sharing dishes, grazing boards, small plates, stone-baked flatbreads and locally sourced meats and seafood, along side a speciality drinks menu and hand crafted cocktails. Gas Street Social will feature large sharing tables, intimate booth areas and a cosy ‘snug’ area, and heading into the weekend, the venue will provide late night drinks and dancing until 2am complete with the world’s first DJ Kitchen (now I’ve no idea what this might be, but I’m intrigued…!) Follow them @GasStSocial on twitter to find out more!

2. THE DRINKS BUS

out-in-brum-the-drinks-bus-in-the-sun

Taking al fresco drinking to the next level, the Drinks Bus is about to take the Midlands by storm. This 1977 Open Topped Bristol Bus comes with a downstairs dispensing bottom deck with 20 taps including real ale, and a versatile top deck, with options for a bar, seating or even a live stage!

The Bus is available fully stocked, with various drinks packages including bespoke cocktails, or for dry hire, the perfect addition to your event! Follow @TheDrinksBus on twitter to make sure you don’t miss the Bus!

3. CAU

With several restaurant already across the south of England, Cau, a restaurant inspired by the cuisine of Buenos Aries is rumoured to be coming to Birmingham soon. With an interesting looking menu, this is one I’ll be intrigued to try. Follow @Caurestaurants to keep up with the news.

4. THE BOTANIST

A new opening for the Living Ventures and New World Trading Co in the CBD, bringing a wide selection of food and cocktails for us to try. If I’m honest I’m most excited about the cocktails – this brand is also behind one of my favourite places, The Alchemist in Manchester. Its only a hop skip and a jump from my best mates flat in Spinningfields in Manchester and so I’ve spent a fair few nights drinking their wares and its fabulous!

5. AMANTIA

Another new addition on the food scene, opening on Bennetts Hill soon is this Spanish & Mediterranean Restaurant. With the Chefs having pedigree in both San Carlo and Cucina Rustica, I can’t wait to see what they have on offer

6. 130 COLMORE ROW

Lastly, and certainly by no means least, its the new opening from the Lasan Group, headed up by Akhtar Islam and Jabbar Khan. Following in the footsteps of the uber successful Lasan, Raja Monkey Cafe and Fiesta Del Asado, I cannot wait to find out what they’ve got up their sleeves for the place.

So thats a quick run down of a few things that have excited me, but there are plenty PLENTY more including Master & Margarita at the Cube, Cosy Club on Bennetts Hill, Big Papas residency at the Sunflower Lounge and the opening of the EVERYMAN cinema (which looks fab) and will be a big rival to my favourite, the Electric Cinema. There’s so much going on that there really is something for everyone to enjoy! If you know of any other new openings or exciting projects  you think I should know about, please do feel free to contact me about them on email at roz_jeynes@hotmail.com or on twitter

Roz :)

 

Review: Bar Opus

IMG_5980

Bar Opus is the latest in the Opus dynasty, following the flagship Opus restaurant, and Café Opus. Housed in the modern new development in Snow Hill, it’s perfectly situated for the afterwork crowds, as well as those seeking a refuge from the shops, just like Lee and I just after Christmas. This was our first visit during the day, and were looking forward to seeing what their lunch/all day menu was like.

IMG_5979

I really like the uber sleek and modern interior, the the high ceilings, zig zag flooring, a mix of seating at high tables and a banquette all down the front of the building and a very open kitchen.

IMG_5976

The All Day Menu is compact, but with decent variation among the options, with some twists on breakfast dishes as well as more hearty choices, two of which we went for. First up the Slow braised free range pork cheeks root vegetables,cheddar mash, Alsace jus. Lee adored this dish – the cheeks were melt in your mouth, and it was a perfect comforting winter dish. I had the Crab linguine; Brixham white crab meat with chilli & Nantoise sauce. Again, this was an excellent dish, a creamy slightly fiery sauce that clung to the pasta just like it should without swimming round the plate, and well cooked pasta with a touch of bite.

IMG_5978

IMG_5977

The portion sizes were perfect for lunch, and very reasonably priced too. Service throughout was very pleasant and timely, although they weren’t too overrun with customers when we dined. I would thoroughly recommend the food & drink at Bar Opus, both in the daytime and the sharing plates they offer later in the day. Oh and don’t forget their cocktails too which are up there with the best.

http://baropus.co.uk/

 

Disclosure: We paid in full for our meal, and the venue were not aware that we may be blogging about them

Mega Quick Pea & Ham Soup

PMIMG_5969 This soup is a super quick, super easy one, to pull together. I usually only tend to make it when we have a joint of ham which we have poached, therefore creating a vat of ham stock that it would be a travesty to waste. We always have a ham at Christmas, and so its usually a staple leftover meal for us at this time of year! If you haven’t got the stock from a recently cooked ham or gammon, then you can use pork stock if you can find it in the supermarket, but I don’t feel it tastes quite as good. Serves 4 Ingredients:

  • 1 litre ham stock
  • 500g peas – fresh or frozen
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 4-5 mint leaves – chopped
  • 20g butter
  • handful fresh/defrosted frozen peas (for garnish)
  • handful of sliced ham – either from the joint you’ve cooked and leftover, or good quality packeted (for garnish)
  • salt and black pepper to season
  • dash of cream/creme fraiche (for garnish)

Method: 1. Heat a large heavy based pan, then add the butter. When melted add in the onion and sweat lightly for 2-3 minutes, be careful not to let it colour. 2. Add the peas, cook for another 30 seconds then add the stock 3. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. 4. Blend until smooth, adding the fresh mint at this stage, along with salt and pepper to taste then pass through a sieve 5. Return to a new pan and bring up to temperature, then serve, adding the ham fresh peas and cream to garnish. Happy eating :) IMG_5968   DSC_0021 IMG_5969

Review: Lunch at Epi Restaurant

IMG_6049

After ‘popping up’ all over Birmingham in 2014 and the start of 2014, since June last year, Epi Restaurant has been in residence at The Courtyard in Bromsgrove, serving elegant and tasty food, in quaint surroundings. 

From this January, Epi are also opening at lunchtime Thursday through Saturday, and to celebrate this they invited us to their press lunch to sample a taste of what they will be offering. Their lunch menu comes in at £25 for 2 courses, or £29 for 3, with a couple of choices for each course.

IMG_6038

Very well made sourdough bread was served to start.

IMG_6039

I then chose the Pork Terrine, Gribiche Sauce & Rye to start which was lovely – and came with a tangy apple pureé as well. Lee opted for the Leek & Potato Velouté and thoroughly enjoyed the homemade soup

IMG_6040

IMG_6041

For the main we both chose Hake Fillet with Tomato Ragu Chorizo & Gnocchi. We both felt this was an outstanding dish – a perfectly cooked piece of hake, a lovely kick to the ragu and meltingly soft gnocchi.

IMG_6045

Desserts were both really pretty plates of food; Chocolate Ganache & Caramelised Milk for me, Poached Rhubarb, Lemon Curd & Spiced Ginger Cake for Lee. We really couldn’t fault anything on the plates, truly yummy.

IMG_6046 IMG_6048

We’ve eaten the food of Nathan a few times now, but this is the first since their residency began and I feel that the food, which was always good, has come a long way and is now a lot more refined and extremely enjoyable.

Do check them out if your over Bromsgrove way,or take a little detour to eat there, it will be worth your while!

Disclosure: We were invited to sample Epi’s food at the Press Lunch and therefor did not pay for the food. We did pay for our drinks ( a couple of lovely glasses of red wine if you’re wondering). We were not asked to write about the experience in return, but wanted to because we enjoy the food at Epi and want others to as well. 

Review: Oaka @ The Barton Arms, Birmingham

A few weeks ago after work we headed out to a slightly less salubrious area of Birmingham to try out the Barton Arms. This is a place that had been mentioned several times on social media when I’d been asking for tips on great Thai food. The Barton Arms is a public house, and has been for over 100 years, and remains a great display of Victorian architecture and is a grade 2 listed building. In 2002 it was purchased by Oakham Ales and boasts a huge selection of award winning ales. Part of the restaurant has been converted by the Thai born landlords to house a Thai restaurant, Oaka, also claiming to have some of the best authentic Thai food in Birmingham.

It was quite quiet when we arrived, but filled up nicely during the evening. The decor I loved – dark wood against the opulence of stained glass windows. The service throughout was very attentive and you couldn’t fault it.

IMG_5682

IMG_5683

To start we ordered the Oaka sharing platter, which consisted of chicken satay, chicken wings, honeyed ribs and Tod Mun Talay (Fishcakes) along with a selection of dips. The ribs were melt in your mouth, wings huge and juicy and the satay nice and moist. The fishcakes we found a little average and a bit rubbery, but when paired in the dips which were excellent, this became not very significant. The 3 dips all seemed perfectly balanced, and I wished we had ordered some prawn crackers to mop them all up.

IMG_5686

IMG_5685

IMG_5684

As usual, as with most menus, I had trouble deciding on a main course, but eventually settled on the Tamarind Duck. I’m always wary of ordering duck for fear of it being badly overcooked/rubbery/nasty non rendered fat, but Oaka did really well – the skin had been beautifully rendered down and was crispy and the meat meltingly soft – it wasn’t pink so I wondered if it had been slow cooked at some point, but either way, I wasn’t complaining. And the sauce was perfect.

IMG_5690

Lee went for the Massaman Curry, a favourite of his, and it was certainly up there with the best he’s had.

IMG_5688

All in all, very good food. Definitely a Thai I would recommend and return on many an occasion.

Disclosure: We paid in full for our meal