Hallmark Hull: #MadHattersAfternoonTea*

Hello, you! It’s great to see you. Thanks for popping by! Though I’d share a recent experience I had at the Hallmark Hotel in North Ferriby a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to be treated to a deliciously inviting Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea, complete with tiny ‘Drink Me’ bottles and a myriad of lovingly-crafted savoury snacks, sweet treats, pots of tea, and a glass of sparkling bubbly. It really was as good as it sounds!

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We were very lucky to have had our afternoon tea on a gloriously sunny day, which can sometimes be a rarity in the North so we were all rather pleasantly surprised! Afternoon tea was served in the grounds of the Hallmark Hotel, with a view of the Humber Bridge. We really couldn’t have asked for a better day.

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Our table was strewn with playing cards and adorned with delicate china tea cups, waiting to be filled with freshly brewed tea or coffee. The rabbit ears were a lovely touch, and we all got into the spirit of things and thoroughly enjoyed trying them on. We just couldn’t wait to see what was on offer, and we weren’t disappointed when our food arrived!

 

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We were brought a selection of hand cut sandwiches – including ham and pickle, cheese and chutney, egg mayo and rocket – alongside some homemade scotch eggs and tomato and egg ‘toadstools’. My sweet tooth was well and truly sated with a selection of iced cupcakes, mushroom-shaped meringues, freshly baked scones with dollops of zingy lemon curd and lashings of clotted cream, and adorable ‘Drink Me’ strawberry beverages that tasted deliciously fruity and exceedingly summery. All this was topped off with helpings of popping candy, to delight both children and big kids around the table in equal measure!

The full menu of delights is as follows:

Assorted finger sandwiches/wraps: Ham & Pickle, Cucumber & Cream Cheese, Cheese & Chutney & Egg Mayo & Rocket
Home Made Mushroom meringues
Savoury Scotch Egg and Boiled Egg/Tomato Toadstool
Eat Me popping candy cupcake
Freshly baked Scones and Strawberry Jam, Lemon Curd & Devonshire clotted cream
Strawberry ‘Drink Me’ Syrup
Popping Candy
Pot of Tea or Coffee.

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We loved the attention to detail given to the afternoon tea, where the items were carefully stacked on miniature picnic benches and surrounded by Alice-themed paraphernalia. This treat would be a fabulous experience for any Lewis Carroll fiend, or for anyone who simply loves a little bit of magic and Wonderland whimsy!

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L-R: Me, KateAshtonAlex and Megan. Photo courtesy of Ashton Gibbs. 

 

 

All in all we had an absolutely fabulous experience at the Hallmark Hotel, and I would like to thank the chef for preparing such a wonderful treat and the staff for making our visit so relaxing.

Why not pop into Hallmark in Hull to experience this for yourself? Prices start from £17.50 without the glass of bubbly and £22.50 for the fizz included.

What do you make of the afternoon tea?

Hope you’re having a great evening,

Heather x

 

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Nando’s: Exciting New Additions For Summer 2016*

Hello, you lovely lot! Here’s another gorgeous foodie post for you all. A few weeks ago I was extremely lucky to be invited to try out Nando’s new menu items when they launched on the 17th May, by the wonderful Callum over at Callum Jackson Blogs. I love trying new things, and Nando’s never disappoints, so I really couldn’t wait to see what they had to offer.

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We were welcomed into the St Stephen’s restaurant and sat at our places, marked by our favourite bottles of their famous Peri-Peri sauce (what a beautiful touch!) and waited excitedly for what was to come. We were greeted warmly by Callum, who explained what each new addition existed of, and treated us to a truly fabulous night.

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Firstly, we got to try the new range of Vinho Spritzers, which are a refreshing blend of wine, lemonade, and heaps of fresh fruit. First up, the white Vinho Spritzer; a refreshing blend of Crispy Cara Viva White wine, topped up with lemonade and garnished with freshly sliced lime and sprigs of cooling mint. The White Vinho Spritzer was a refreshing take on a white sangria, and I could see this being an absolutely gorgeous addition to a balmy summer evening whilst tucking into your favourite Nando’s! The Rose Vihno spritzer consisted of Summer Fruits Cara Viva Rose wine, spritzed with bubbly lemonade and raspberries, sliced lime and sprigs of mint. The Rose Vihno Spritzer was a huge hit with the Hull Bloggers, and would be enjoyed by those who like their beverages fruity and fresh. Finally, we had the Red Vinho Spritzer; Cara Viva Red wine topped up with sparkling lemonade, and garnished with raspberries, orange slices and a cinnamon stick. This was my favourite of the lot, as it reminded me of a summery-take on a mulled wine. It was warming and delicious, and I’d really recommend that one. Wonderful!

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Naturally, we couldn’t wait to try the rest of the new items, and it wasn’t long before we were presented with the delicious-looking Fino Platters. Now this was what we had been waiting for! A Nando’s legendary whole Spatchcock flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken, served with a selection of colourful sides including Sweet Potato Wedges, Fino Coleslaw, Supergrains, chargrilled veg, and Peri-buttered corn-on-the-cob. Yum!
The Fino Platter is a great way to get together with friends and family to share some delicious food and good company, something favoured by our South African buddies across the pond which was the main inspiration for Nandos’ delicious new platter. The chicken is the main star of the show; tender, succulent and easily pulled apart, complemented by a tangy grilled lemon to squeeze over the top as you wish. This was absolutely delicious and it’s easy to see why Nando’s is so famous for its chicken dishes.

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Next up we had the corn on the cob; a sweet, crunchy, juicy cob, topped with lashings of spicy Peri butter that complements the sweetness perfectly. Divine!
Supergrain is a new side from Nando’s, which consists of a mixture of grains, including wheat berry, the ancient freekah grain, red quinoa and black barley, with added edamame beans, cannelloni beans, chargrilled bean halves, shredded kale and spring onion. This fabulous mixture is seasoned together, and dressed with light lemon and oregano. This was a real hit, and we couldn’t stop eating it! In fact, this is the first regular side Nando’s has added to their menu since Creamy Mash, so it really is a little bit of something special. It comes in Regular, Large and Nandino portions, minus the dressing for the Nandinos. Stunning, and again, a great addition for a summertime feast.

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The other sides – Sweet Potato Wedges and chargrilled veg – were a fabulous complement to the platter, providing just the right amount of variation and deliciousness to complement the show-stopper of Spatchcock chicken. It was a hugely satisfying meal, and seriously delicious. In fact, I have plans to take my friends next week because they need to try these new items! Gorgeous with a Vihno Spritzer to wash it all down.

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Finally, we tried Nando’s new delicious brownies, available in two gorgeous flavours; salted caramel, and Peri-Peri! Before you start panicking, the Peri-Peri brownie is not as scary as it sounds, and although I’m a salted caramel fiend, the Peri-Peri brownie turned out to be my favourite of the two! Salted caramel is bound to be a hit with most; indulgent, gooey brownie, laced with lashing of salted caramel goodness, and drizzled with chocolate and a hint of golden sparkle. As you can imagine, these were a huge hit, packed with caramel goodness and a deep, chocolatey flavour. The Peri-Peri consisted of the same gooey, chocolatey brownie base, with a hit of Peri-Peri packed punch. If you’re a chilli chocolate lover, you will love these! Although I was absolutely stuffed from the Fino Platter, these were too good to resist and we nearly finished the whole lot! They were served alongside a cooling scoop of Vanilla Gelado, providing just the right amount of creamy indulgence to finish off a meal. We were also keen to try out Nando’s new Peri Pomegranate dressing, a spicy yet sweet and fruity sauce, perfect for both savoury dishes and great drizzled over desserts. I particularly loved this on top of the Vanilla Gelado, providing a spicy-sweetness to cut through the creaminess of the Gelado. What a treat!

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Photo courtesy of Chelsea over at http://chelseahamilton.blogspot.co.uk/

We left Nando’s St Stephens with the biggest smiles on our faces, proving that good food AND good company is a great relief from the stresses of everyday life. I had had a hugely stressful week, and that was just what I needed. Nando’s launched their new menu items on the 17th of May, so they’re waiting for you to get stuck in! Thanks so much to Callum and the St Stephens team for hosting us; I’m sure we’ll be back soon!

Have you tried the new menu items yet? What do you think?
I hope you’re having a fabulous week,
Heather x

Primula Snack Hacks: stuffed jalapenos*

Hello! It has been a while since I posted a recipe on here so today I thought I’d share with you one of my ‘snack hacks’! The lovely Holly at Primula asked whether I’d be interested in creating some snacks using deliciously squeezy Primula cheese, and hopefully you’ll enjoy making these as much as I did! These aren’t suitable if you’re not a fan of spice, so in that case stay tuned to see something a little more tame next week!

You will need:

An assortment of mixed chillies (fresh jalapeno peppers are best if you can get hold of them!)
Half a tube of Primula Light Cheese/Primula original…whichever you prefer!
Breadcrumbs or something similar (I used matzo meal which is very similar in consistency)
Any additions to your filling; chopped crispy bacon, finely diced spring onions, fresh parsley…the more creative the better!
Salt and pepper to season

Method:
1. Prepare your chillies! It’s a great idea to wear some disposable rubber gloves for this and avoid rubbing your eyes at all costs! I sliced mine into halves, keeping the stalk on when possible. I then scraped out the seeds and membrane of each half.

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Set aside once prepared.

2. Prepare your Primula filling. For these I stuffed half with plain Primula and half with Primula mixed with finely chopped crispy bacon. If you’re mixing ingredients into the Primula, now is the time to do it! Season to taste.

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Once the filling is prepared, carefully spoon into the chilli halves.

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Once filled, prepare your breadcrumb topping. You can again season this to taste if you’d prefer; parmesan, grated lemon zest and some dried herbs would make great additions. Place the breadcrumb/matzo mixture into a bowl.

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3. Carefully coat the Primula filling with the breadcrumb mixture. I found it easier to dip the chillies Primula side down into the mixture, which ensures even coverage. Once breadcrumbed, place onto a baking dish sprayed with vegetable oil.

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It also helps to spray/drizzle some oil over the top of the chillies. Once prepared, place into an oven heated to gas 7/220 Celsius for around 25 minutes. They should be piping hot and golden when cooked.

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That’s it! They really are very simple to make. I finished the dish with some chopped fresh parsley. Be careful when you bite into them as the filling will be hot! They can also be enjoyed cold if you’d prefer.

We really enjoyed them, and I think they’d be great for a film night with a few drinks.

Do you think you’d be making my Primula Snack Hack? Let me know if you give it a go; I’d love to see pictures!

Heather x

Giggles at Kardomah 94*

Hello! Here’s another Kardomah 94 review; I know, I just can’t get enough of the place! If you’ve been reading over the past few weeks you’ll know I was asked by the lovely Hannah if I fancied checking out some live shows at Kardomah 94, which is a restaurant and venue space right in the centre of Hull. The first – Backstage in Biscuit Land – was a magical, eye-opening journey into the world of Jess Thom who lives life with Tourettes syndrome. The second – Giggles: Greater Good Project – is a combination of mental health awareness and a heavy dose of comedy to delight and educate in equal measure.
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We arrived at Kardomah 94 hungry and ready to try some of the tasty-sounding pizzas. When we saw Backstage in Biscuit Land we caught a glimpse of the pizzas – huge, stone baked ones, covered crust to crust in an array of toppings – and we couldn’t wait to try one for ourselves.

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We started the night the proper way, with a bottle of refreshing Brooklyn Lager. The atmosphere once again didn’t disappoint; each of the tables was studded with softly glowing candles, a delightful array of art hung up on the restaurant walls, and a soft hubbub and clatter of crockery from the open kitchen. What more could you want?

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Kardomah 94’s menu has a selection of pizzas with something for everyone, and various snacks and nibbles available for those who are fancying something a little different. Their specials board sported homemade favourites like spicy chilli con carne, and I’m positive even the fussiest of eaters would find something they’d love. I’d been running around doing various errands during the day, and a pizza with a beer seemed like a heavenly combination to me.

I went for the aptly named Sir Albert Gelder pizza; a stone baked, thin base topped with crisp pancetta, blue cheese and a honey drizzle. Drew went for the Hullawaiin (because he’s one of those people that thinks pineapple on a pizza is a good idea…it’s not my cup of tea, but it did look great.) Again, this was generously topped, and wonderfully crisp, and both went down a treat with a beer.

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The Hullawaiin
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The Sir Alfred Gelder pizza

What I really love about Kardomah 94 is its setting; overlooking the historic guild hall on the edge of Hull’s historic Old Town, it is truly a hidden gem. Kardomah 94 hold various events every month – some in association with the University of Hull – and it’s the perfect place to come to eat, drink and learn a thing or two.

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It’s bound to be a hit during Hull’s City of Culture Year in 2017!

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After our dinner and drinks, it was time for the event itself. Mental health – and mental illness – are very close to my heart. I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for a while, and know people close to me who have really suffered in the past. Events like these are essential to spread awareness. I think we’ve come incredibly far from our draconian views on mental health, and though this should be celebrated, we should always strive for more. I’ve been on the receiving end of comments – even from people who know me – which illustrate a complete lack of understanding. I’ve been told to snap out of it; to stop crying. To stop worrying because there’s nothing to worry about. To cheer up; to buck my ideas up. That – though I may not believe it – other people have it worse.

If only it were that easy.

I don’t talk about what triggered my mental health problems on here, but it wasn’t easy, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. The amalgamation of certain things in my life – including the traumatic event, living with chronic pain and a brain injury plus everyday stresses – are a difficult and turbulent mix. Telling me the above things is no use. It doesn’t help. If anything you’re just making the situation worse by adding a healthy dose of guilt and self-loathing into the mix.  

You are talking to someone who can cry for hours at a time, or – on very bad days – won’t leave the safety of my bed. Telling someone with a mental health problem that they are better off than somebody else completely undermines the difficulties they are having. It is not useful.

It probably is true. But it does not solve the issue. It does not stop.

The Giggles event was founded to raise awareness of mental health. I’m becoming more confident talking about my difficulties, but some people aren’t so keen on sharing. Mental illness still conjures up images of strait jackets and ‘mad-woman-in-the-attic’ imagery, but is many as 1 in 4 people will have a mental health problem in any year. That’s a huge number. And yet – for many – it is still incredibly difficult to talk about. I’ve been met with resistance when I want to talk about my problems. I’ve been warned that people may prejudge me because of my mental health problems, and that I should stay quiet.

I don’t want to. I shouldn’t have to, because my mental health problems are just another facet of my experiences, just like having cerebral palsy, or the fact that I’m a fiend for chocolate and gin.  Events like these are exactly what we need, and so many of us need to know that it’s okay to speak up.

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The venue space was again rustic and cosy, and as we sat down in our seats we knew we’d be in for a great night.

Gary – the compere and founder of the event – opened the show, and had us all warmed up for one of the more ‘serious’ parts of the show. Fay came on and openly discussed her experiences of living with borderline personality disorder, or BPD. She explained the ‘black and whiteness’ of the disorder; the perpetual conflicting emotions she has over seemingly everyday events. She was eloquent and open, determined and steely with a refreshing outlook on her own experiences. As she noted, many people have heard of depression and anxiety, but it is these mental health problems – the ones that are most misconstrued and misunderstood -that become truly difficult for people to talk about. It was incredibly wonderful of Fay to come and share her story with us, as though these things need to be discussed they aren’t necessarily easy to share. I think I speak on behalf of the audience when I say I was incredibly touched to have a brief insight into her world.

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Next up we saw a myriad of comedians, some of which have had their own mental health problems in the past. These comedians spoke frankly about their experiences, but left us laughing. We also participated in a raffle, and all of the proceeds went to Mind, who do a fabulous job providing services to people with mental health problems when they need them.

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It is a scary time for people who rely on mental health services to get by. This year will see yet more cuts to mental health services across the country, and as someone who has had to access such services multiple times it’s really worrying to think that these vital services may be taken away. These services are there for me when I’m at my worst, and allow me to discuss my darkest thoughts when I fear no one else will listen.

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Although we had a laugh and a giggle at the event, mental health problems are no joke.

At their most devastating, mental health problems can be life-threatening, and I will always support events like this. Now more than ever we must try to find a way to overcome the issues we face; and supporting local services is one step forward. Hull and East Yorkshire Mind strive to do everything they can for people in the local area, and with our help they can continue to implement support and strategies to help those who need it most.

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Thanks so much to Kardomah 94 and the Giggles: Greater Good project for having me; I can’t wait to see when you’re next hosting an event.

What do you think of events like these? Would you be interested in attending something similar?

I hope your day is going well!
Heather x

Cooking up an Easter Feast with Primula: Creamy Chicken*

Hello! How are you? It’s really sunny over here today and I’m having a day of recipe-developing and MRes work (which never stops!). You might remember a few days ago I posted a recipe using Primula cheese and created a super-tasty tart. You can find that recipe here.

I wanted to come up with something quick yet tasty, and I think I made just the right thing to fulfil those requirements!

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Ingredients:

Two chopped chicken breasts,
Handful of chopped mushrooms,
1/2 chopped onion,
1/2 tube of Primula Original cheese,
150ml single cream,
2 chicken stock cubes,
2 crushed garlic cloves,
Rice/pasta to serve,
Green salad to garnish (optional).

Method:

1. Soften onion and brown chicken over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the crushed garlic.
2. Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan and fry with the chicken, onion and garlic.
3. Turn heat to low, and add 1/2 tube of Primula cheese. Combine well.
4. Stir in the cream, combining well. Here is where you can add the stock and cracked black pepper of desired.
5. Leave to simmer on low heat, ensuring the chicken is cooked through and everything well-combined.
6. Serve immediately over rice or pasta. I also served ours with a simple salad dressed with olive oil.

Couldn’t be easier!

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I hope you’re enjoying this Primula series; I have a really tasty dessert perfect for an Easter feast coming your way soon!

Have a wonderful day,
Heather x

Healthy Snacking with Nothing But*

Hello there! I hope you’re having a great Monday. I’m just relaxing after having dinner, and thought now would be a good time to share a fabulously healthy – and incredibly tasty – snack with you all.

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A couple of weeks ago I was asked by the lovely Hannah if I’d be interested in trying out some tasty snacks. If you’ve been reading for a while you might know that I’ve been trying to include more recipe posts and easy snack ideas. Having a long term medical condition means sometimes it’s hard to ensure you’re eating well; on very painful days I’m extremely lethargic and the last thing I want to do is spend ages cooking, which is typical as excellent nutrition is just what’s needed on bad days! Most snacks are known for being fattening or high in salt/sugar, but these snacks are refreshingly different.

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Nothing But are a range of snacks available in either fruit or vegetable combinations. They’re simply fruit or vegetables…no added salts, sugars, fats, colours or preservatives. These sounded right up my street, and when I opened the box and saw plenty of brightly coloured packages I was keen to try them out.

We prepare it with care to make sure Nothing But the water is removed

The fresh produce is taken by the lovely folks at Nothing But and then frozen, and the water evaporated. This leaves a product that is exceedingly tasty and full of natural flavours. Only ever two ingredients feature in each pack, and the flavour combinations are truly delicious.

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The vegetable ones are available in the combinations of: Parsnip & Beetroot, Pea & Sweetcorn and Red Pepper & Mangetout. I was pleasantly surprised by the concentration of all-natural flavours in each bag; the process somehow intensifies each flavour, providing a tasty, natural snack that’s a lot easier to eat compared to their non-freeze dried equivalents! They’re crispy so provide that ever-so-satisfying crunch that we’re all looking for when eating a delicious snack.

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If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you’ll love the above fruit snacks. These were incredibly tasty, including the following combinations of Apple & Fig, Pineapple & Grape and Strawberry & Banana. I had a packet of these with my breakfast and I was incredibly impressed! They were incredibly fruity and deliciously sweet, which is great if you’re after a healthy alternative to other sweet snacks. These snacks are prepared in the same way as the vegetable snacks, which produces a naturally sweet range of delicious snacks suitable for any time of the day.

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What is really fantastic about these is that each pack contributes to your 5 a day, providing a whole portion of your fruit/veg in each packet. Replacing those daily bags of crisps with a product like this would help you to meet this daily recommendation in no time! They’re also gluten free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans which is great if you have particular dietary requirements.

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All in all I’m extremely impressed by these, and will definitely look at swapping my usual snacks with them. My personal favourites were the Red Pepper & Mangetout and the Strawberry & Banana. It’d be fantastic if these products could be bought on my university campus to stop me snacking on chocolate bars and crisps during the day.

Thank you very much to Hannah and the wonderful team at Nothing But for sending these to review. Why not check out their website?

I hope you’re having a great evening,
Heather x

Cooking up an Easter Feast with Primula*

Hello there! I have a little recipe for you today. I was kindly contacted by Holly a couple of weeks ago asking if I fancied coming up with some recipes using primula cheese; it was an offer I couldn’t refuse!

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I’ve made some recipes using primula cheese before and have been extremely impressed with the results. Admittedly before being contacted by Holly I’ve only ever thought of primula as a tasty sandwich filling or toast topper, but it turns out that with a little imagination primula can help you to create easy – and incredibly tasty – meals and snacks.

I decided to develop a series of dishes that could feature as part of a celebratory Easter menu, but that would easily translate into everyday dishes for when you’re feeling a little adventurous and in need of something a little different. Because of my hemi hand I really struggle to grate cheese: it sounds odd, but when one hand doesn’t want to cooperate it makes it hard to complete simple tasks. Primula cheese is fabulous for me because it’s very easy to add to many dishes due to its squeezy tube, and I have been finding it enjoyable in a variety of different things. 

Today’s installment of the menu is the starter, and would also make a really tasty (and easy) midday dinner for a family.

Primula Puff Pastry Tart

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Ingredients
A roll of ready made puff pastry (don’t bother making it yourself. Ease is key here!)
Three sliced large tomatoes,
Half a tube of original Primula cheese,
One finely chopped spring onion,
A handful of crispy bacon pieces (lardons are also ideal),
Olive oil,
Cracked black pepper,
Finely chopped fresh parsley to garnish,
Salad leaves to serve (optional).

Method

1. Roll out your puff pastry sheet; this should be fairly easy. If frozen make sure it’s fully defrosted before trying to unfurl it, or it will crack. Place the pastry onto a sheet of baking paper and place onto a baking tray.

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2. Prepare your fresh ingredients, and fry off the bacon (or lardons) until crispy. Preparation before hand will make assembly of the tart a lot easier!

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3. Spread approximately half a tube of Primula onto the pastry, making sure to leave space to form a lovely crispy crust.

4. Sprinkle on your chopped bacon and spring onion and layer your tomato slices over the top, ensuring you leave the edges free of ingredients once more. Season with pepper to taste, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and place in an oven heated to 180° celcius/gas mark 4/5.

5. Cook for around 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp, but make sure you keep an eye on it to avoid burning the edges. Once removed from the oven sprinkle liberally with parsley or another herb of your choice; basil would also be a delicious addition.

6. Cut up into slices; ours was cut into six generous slices but would easily feed more if the portions were made smaller. Serve hot from the oven or leave to cool and serve at room temperature with a crisp green salad on the side.

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I was really impressed with this, and I’m keen to try out some different toppings in the future; the possibilities seem (almost) endless!

I hope you enjoyed this first installment. Keep your eye out for more recipes using Primula cheese over the next couple of weeks…I have lots of cooking to do!

I hope you’re having a great Sunday whatever you’re doing, and let me know if you give this a try; I’d love to see what you think!
Heather x