Thursday, 30 January 2014


Last night I attended the launch for the Leeds Creative Family Tree for Mabgate & Sheepscar and Quarry Hill.

The Leeds Creative Family Tree is a not-for-profit project which is continually ongoing to raise awareness and showcase the huge range of culture and creativity in Leeds and to help the community flourish.

Inititated from a Kickstarter fund in Winter 2012, the project blossomed from the ideas of Photographer Sara Teresa and Designer Oli Bentley who were looking to raise the profile of the huge range of creativity on offer in Leeds. Their main vision was to visualise the huge network of Leeds’ creative and cultural organisations and individuals.

With a grand total of £1756 raised, the pair have been able to create, print and distribute their family tree's with the aspiration to be used for networking, collaboration and research and to find like-minded creatives in the area and show off the variety of creativity and culture within the wider Leeds community.

On offer at the launch night was also a few creative independent businesses included in the Creative Family Tree. Namely, two of my favourites... Vegan cake and catering conisseurs That Old Chestnut and Leeds pop up favourites The Grog and Grub Shop.

That Old Chestnut are stern favourites of mine. Run by the visionaries Elly and Chris they have landed themselves in the unique area of offering exceptionally good vegan cakes and catering.

Stocked by every single respectable independent cafe in Leeds these guys are on a no-returning-back mission to success and there's a reason why.

Vegan cake might not sound appealing to the average ear, but one taste and I promise you will be hooked. Favourites of mine include their stem ginger cake, peanut butter tiffin and cranberry and macadamia slice.

As well as That Old Chestnut on offer was Leeds independent pop up The Grub and Grog Shop offering the finest in local produce in their own creative form. Never to fail me, they had an extremely impressive menu featuring three 'tidbits' encased in Leeds Bread Co-op nigella seed flatbread with mouth watering varieties, as well as a vegan and gluten-free stew.

 Attending with my friend Diane we first both opted for the beef flatbread (beer braised beef brisket, beetroot, mooli, pearl barley, watercress and horseradish). This was a real delight and lovely in texture and flavour, although lacked the horseradish hit we both craved. Albeit, still a lovely flavour and texture in the mouth which was new and enlightening to me.

For seconds (of course!) we enjoyed the vegetarian option on offer. The flavours were spot on and I could not fault this in any way. Beautiful arrangements on Leeds Bread Co-op flatbread of charred cauliflower (my favourite vegetable), roasted hazelnuts, spring onion, lentils with parsley, scotch bonnet pepper and natural yoghurt were seriously mind-blowing.

A great evening showcasing the creative and cultural independent talent that Leeds has to offer. 

Monday, 27 January 2014


Inside the depths of an industrial unit in Meanwood last week the North Star Micro-Roasters Latte Art Throwdown took place.

Opening only in October last year, the roasters have gained great support in Leeds as well as further across the country. These boys are at the heart of embracing coffee in its true form and at the forefront of the coffee revival.

With Leeds being a hub for great independent cafes and exceptionally good barista's it seemed about time to have an event centred around coffee.

A table adorned with food provided by local independent producers was also on offer. Spoilt by the delicious bread from Leeds Bread Co-op, red onion chutney from Made by Jim, platters of cold meats and cheese from Baltzersens and the BEST brownies you'll ever taste (you can hold me to that) from Noisette Bakehouse.

Now back to the competition... what is a Latte Art Throwdown I might hear you say?

The competition was based around creating the perfect latte, with three rounds judged by the crem de la crem of the Leeds coffee scene: Carl from Laynes Espresso, Adam from Opposite and Krag from North Star Micro Roasters

The latte's were judged on four criteria: balance and symmetry; colour definition; use of space; and the overall pour.

As twenty nervous barista's took centre stage, we watched and were highly impressed by the quality of the lattes produced under pressure - no shaky hands here! Perfectly textured milk and immaculate rosetta's were being churned out left, right and centre.

After three knockout rounds, the winner was announced and Oakley from Crema Espresso was crowned Latte Art King.

It was a really interesting event and great to see so many people passionate about coffee. I don't think I'll be setting foot in Costa any time soon and pledge for you to do the same.

Support your local coffee community and join the resistance!

Thank you to the lovely Diane from A Tale of Two Sittings for letting me use her wonderful photos.

Sunday, 26 January 2014


I have created a masterpiece! My latest cake invention is perhaps my best yet.

Combining the warming sponge laced with cinnamon, a thick vanilla custard and a crumble topping, the Cinnamon and Vanilla Custard Crumble Cake is born.


175g Caster Sugar
175 Butter
3 Eggs
1 1/2tsp Vanilla Essence
175g Self-Raising Flour
1 1/2tsp Baking Powder
3tsp Cinnamon
2tbsp Milk
425g Custard

Crumble Topping:
110g Plain Flour
80g Butter
1tsp Cinnamon
3tbsps Demerera Sugar (and a little extra to sprinkle on top)


1. Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease and line an 8" loose bottomed cake tin.

2. Cream the sugar and the butter until light in colour and fluffy in texture.

3. Add to this the eggs, vanilla essence and 2tbsps of the custard and mix until combined.

4. Fold in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon to form the cake batter - loosen this with the milk if needed.

5. Place the cake batter into the cake tin and spread evenly.

6. Pour the rest of the custard over the cake batter and spread evenly to form a thick layer.

7. In a bowl, add the flour and the butter for the crumble ingredients and rub the mixture together until it resembles small breadcrumbs (this can take a good five minutes). Add the sugar and the cinnamon to this mixture and then scatter onto the top of the cake with an even coverage.

8. Sprinkle the cake with some extra demerera sugar and bake in the oven for 50 minutes.

It is delightfully good served warm with extra custard or ice cream, but is just as nice as a a slice on its own with a good cup of (Yorkshire) tea.

Saturday, 25 January 2014


 Last night I went to the opening of a new exhibition, The Reversing Machine on offer at The Tetley, a new gallery and centre for contemporary art in Leeds.

The exhibition is a powerful exhibit designed by artists Sam Belinfante and Simon Lewandowski and is on show until 28 February 2014.

An interactive multimedia installation of palindromic compositions on self-reversing turntables, powering a variety of sound, light and movement outputs, exploring the flow and passage of time.

The exhibition is centered around a self-reversing mechanical source and is a reflection on our lives and the controlled processes and repetitive actions within them.


Thursday, 23 January 2014


Surpise surprise! It's another loaf cake...

This time I've used up some clementines (I have an abundance of the juicy fruit thanks to a great swag at Leeds Market the other day). It's a simple recipe and easy to make. It's also an all round pleaser and makes a nice little change to the traditional lemon drizzle.


175g Butter
175g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
1 1/2tsp Vanilla Essence
Zest of 2 Clementines
175g Self-Raising Flour
1 1/2tsp Baking Powder
1tbsp Clementine Juice
2tbsp Milk

Juice of 2 Clementines
80g Granulated Sugar
2tbsp Icing Sugar


1. Preheat your oven to 180 and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar together with an electric hand mixer for 2-3 minutes until light in colour and fluffy in texture.

3. Add the clementine zest, vanilla essence and eggs to the mixture and stir until combined.

4. Fold in the flour and the baking powder and mix together.

5. Add the clementine juice and milk to loosen the mixture into a light cake batter.

6, Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake on the center shelf of your oven for 40 minutes.

7. Once baked, remove the cake from the oven and pierce the cake several times with a skewer.

8. Mix together the drizzle ingredients and pour generously over the cake whilst it is still in the tin.

9. Once the cake has cooled and the drizzle has set then it is ready to devour!

Monday, 20 January 2014


I am a little late on posting about this fabulous place but it's better late than never.

Trinity Kitchen graced Leeds early last Autumn as a hub for the finest street vendors in the UK. They rotate the vendors on offer every 5 to 6 weeks to bring a selection of the UK's very best street food traders to the Trinity Leeds shopping centre.

 I got invited to the Trinity Kitchen bloggers night last Tuesday for an exciting evening full of street food and local food bloggers.

My heart was ultimately won over by the long-awaited Yu Kyu. Knowing that a Japenese street food vendor would be in Leeds serving authentic Tonkatsu had been keeping myself and my friend Diane awake at night.

Eyeing up the menu we saw a selection of panko breaded goodness, but we both opted for the ultimate winner of the Tonkatsu Curry.

I chose the kabocha option (Japanese pumpkin/squash), however pork and chicken versions were also available. Served on a bed of sticky rice, cabbage slaw and pickled ginger, the breaded sweet pumpkin was topped with a tangy curry sauce.

A taste explosion like I had never experienced before, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the food and the great combination of flavours and textures on offer.

Up next was a generous portion of glazed sweet potato fries (Daigaku Imo). These were succulently sweet and crispy with their honey glaze and sesame seeds and spring onions to finish.

I was overly dazzled by the quality and flavour on offer, which I have to admit was some of the best street food I have tasted to date.

I wish Yu Kyu all the best with their trading at Trinity Kitchen and highly recommend that you sample some of their Tonkatsu goodness whilst it's here.

Saturday, 18 January 2014


I have a strange attachment to the safety of baking loaf cakes. I rarely find they ever go wrong and they are by far one of my favourite cakes to bake.

I baked this Cherry and Almond Loaf Cake a few weeks back when testing out some new 1lb loaf tins. I usually bake my loaf cakes in a 2lb tin but I love the idea of having two identical cakes of smaller size. One for yourself and one to share or to put in the freezer.


175g Butter
175g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
1tsp Vanilla Essence
75g Ground Almonds
175g Self-Raising Flour
1 1/2tsps Baking Powder
300g Glace Cherries
3tbsps Milk

5tbsps Icing Sugar
1tsp Water
1 handful of Flaked or Chopped Almonds


1. Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (or alternatively two 1lb loaf tins).

2. Cream the butter and the sugar with a hand mixer or stand mixer until light and fluffy - this should take around 2-3 minutes.

3. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla essence until the mixture forms a smooth paste.

4. Sift the self-raising flour into the mixture, followed by the baking powder and the ground almonds.

5. Rinse and drain the glace cherries and then dust them in a few tablespoons of flour until they are lightly coated (this will stop the cherries from sinking to the bottom of the cake).

6. Add the cherries to the mixture and fold until it is well combined and the cherries evenly distributed.

6. Add the milk to loosen the mixture into a thick batter (use more or less milk if needed).

7. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and place on the center shelf of your oven to bake for 40-50 minutes.

8. Once removed from the oven, allow the cakes to cool.

9. Mix the icing sugar with the water (it should be quite thick) and drizzle over the cake and sprinkle with flaked or chopped almonds to finish.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


(Apologies for the not even HALF decent pictures as my D-SLR is in for repair).

Last weekend saw the second Brew-denell Beer and Ale Festival grace one of my favourite haunts the Brudenell Social Club.

 Brew-denell is an independent beer and ale festival celebrating the joy of craft brewing.

 This year also featured live music (which I sadly missed) and food from local independents, including the new Leeds pop up The Grub and Grog Shop by the talented Jim Hirst and Dan Scalington (one's definitely to look out for this year).

With an array of regional, UK and worldwide ales available on cask and keg it was quite easy to get lost in all the tantalising descriptions.

For my grog, I opted for Kirkstall Brewery's Dissolution IPA and Siren Craft Brew's Soundwave IPA.
A sneaky taste of a few others in the deciding process were also approved of, including The Kernel's Pale Ale and Thornbridge Brewery's Jaipur IPA.

For my grub, I had the pleasure of diving into one of the last stews left from Made By Jim.
Before me appeared a beautiful bowl of beetroot, chickpea and tamarind stew, accompanied by Leeds Bread Co-op Sourdough. A dish rich in colour and packed full of fresh and complimenting flavours.

Yet another fantastic event celebrating independent food and drink in Leeds.

I look forward to next year.

Friday, 3 January 2014


Blondies AKA the sexier sibling of the classic brownie are a fudgy love affair waiting to happen

Blondies are ridiculously moreish without the hit of being too rich. It's almost impossible to make them without eating half the batter before you've put them in the tray... let alone devouring them molten hot out the oven.

Peanut Butter Blondies

As with any baking... to take it to a whole new level just add peanut butter!


220g Plain Flour
1 1/2tsp Baking Powder
180g Butter
300g Peanut Butter
250g Light Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/2tsp Vanilla Essence
75g Chopped Nuts
200g White Chocolate


1.  Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease and line a baking tin with baking paper.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar for 2-3 minutes with an electric whisk until fluffy and light in colour.

3. Add the peanut butter, eggs and the vanilla essence to the mixture and mix.

4. Fold in the flour and baking powder and combine until the mixture forms a batter.

5. Chop the white chocolate into small chunks and fold into the batter along with the chopped nuts.

6. Pour the batter into the baking tin and spread evenly.

7.  Place in the centre shelf of your oven and bake for 35 minutes or until firm in the middle.