Foodie Friday: The Wedding Edition

Well, you were warned. As I’m celebrating our anniversary month, I thought I’d share some of the details from our wedding last year. And as Fridays are usually all about food here on Under A Glass Sky, I thought I’d tell you all about the yummy food and drinks we had at our reception.

Food and drink, as you’ve probably surmised, is a big deal for me, and my husband too. So when it came to planning our wedding festivities, these two tasks were top of the list. Whilst I totally agree that it’s all about what you want on your wedding day, I also think (having seen hundreds of weddings through my job!) that there is a duty of care to your guests at a wedding too. Adam and I love to host, and really wanted to ensure that all our guests had an amazing time with as little effort and expense on their part as possible.

We knew from early on that we didn’t want a very formal reception with a sit down meal and table plans etc. I had actually planned a wedding years ago where the Bride and Groom had chosen to serve canapés and bowl food so that their guests could circulate and catch up with everyone there, rather than mostly just the people at their table, and it was honestly one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever experienced. This really appealed to us, as we weren’t starting until four o’clock, and with only the reception happening on that day. It also gave us the opportunity to choose LOTS of different dishes (I love having a little bit of lots of things!) and also ensure there was something everyone liked. Ever concerned though about making sure that everyone had enough to eat, we opted to have a few extras too, so that there was basically food on the go for the whole event!

Starting things at four o’clock felt like a great excuse to serve a bit of afternoon tea. It’s often tricky at weddings when people have been travelling all morning to get there…they often don’t get chance to have all their usual meals, so we wanted people to have something right away to line their stomachs! So, first up we circulated finger sandwiches with different traditional fillings, followed by plain and fruit scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream (we had to request they go on in that order, as at our tasting the caterers did it the other way round….Adam looking at me nervously as they served them in the way I don’t like!). We had collected lots of vintage tea stands to serve the tea on, the caterers also using some of their nice slate flats.

Our Wedding: The Menu

To accompany the tea, we decided to serve an arrival cocktail we called ‘Hitchin Lavender G and Tea’….Hitchin (where we held our reception and lived at the time) is famous for its lavender growing, and our amazing mixologist devised this lovely cocktail for us to feature it. They served the ‘tea’ from glass tea pots using dry ice to create a steam effect, then poured the cocktail into mis-matched vintage tea cups that we’d collected from flea markets. It was a lovely alternative start and went beautifully with the food.

DIY Wedding, Lavender 'Tea' Cocktail in vintage china from tea pots with dry ice, reception drink

DIY Wedding, Lavender 'Tea' Cocktail in vintage china from tea pots with dry ice, reception drink

DIY Wedding, Lavender 'Tea' Cocktail in vintage china from tea pots with dry ice, reception drink

Shortly after tea was served, our gorgeous little vintage ice cream van arrived to the playground (our venue used to be a school and is now a museum) for everyone to enjoy a sweet treat. Adam is crazy for ice cream, and someone I worked with told me about the adorable little van local to us. Ice Baby was actually the first thing we booked (yes, even before the venue!) and it was lovely seeing her wonderful owner, Tasha, around town often in the run up to the party.

We chose all our favourite flavours (after much careful taste testing!) including coconut for me, as well as frozen yoghurt which I love too. We were very lucky that the sun shone at the right time so people got to enjoy their ice creams outside whilst playing on the little crazy golf we’d made, and luckily not needing the umbrellas we kept on hand!

Our Wedding: Ice Baby vintage ice cream van Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_422 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_424 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_425 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_428  Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_442 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_447 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_450 Emily_Adam_SharonCooper_451

Back inside and we’d set up our Welsh dresser as a sweet shop, filled with naughty things we love (I am a real sweet fiend) such as flying saucers, strawberry laces and sherbet straws. We bought pretty striped bags for people to fill and take away with them, as well as some cute stripey paper cups for people to fill and eat around the room.

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

DIY Wedding Sweet Station, Pastel Colours

Then it wasn’t long before the main meal! We began with bite sized canapés, circulated on lovely olive boards and slate flats….we chose sweet pepper and goats cheese tarts, and minted pea blinis for our veggie options, then fish and mushy pea rosti for our fish choice, with miniature burgers and tadpole in the whole (tiny toad in the holes with gravy!) as our meat options. Although bite sized (necessary for chatting and not getting gravy all over your face!) these were pretty filling!

Then for ‘mains’ we served what I call ‘passing plates’….again, we collected LOTS of vintage side plates to serve small, sort of tapas size portions of main dishes. These were designed to be easily eaten with just an oyster fork whilst people were standing, and meant that people could choose the sort of thing they fancied (or, like me and a good few others, have some of everything!). Our vegetarian dishes were vegetable tempura served on jasmine rice, and a pea and ricotta gnocchi. We went for poached salmon tagliatelle as our fish option, and (my favourite) rump steak with chips and bearnaise sauce for our meat dish. After one of each of those I was totally stuffed….although I believe some people (who had probably eaten fewer sweets than me!) managed several more!

Alongside supper, our bar served some amazing wines that a friend of Adam’s family had collected from Germany for us. For white we chose an incredible Bacchus, Spatgurgunder for our red, and a lovely rose Portugieser. Adam also brought across some Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot for those who prefer something bigger too, plus we bought in a couple of mini kegs of some of my favourite ales, and a keg of Adam’s favourite cider!

Then (after we were sure everyone had eaten something!) we opened a full cocktail bar, featuring a short list carefully chosen by us at a lengthy tasting! These went down very well indeed, and many of our guests made it a mission to try each one! We made sure the non-drinkers were well catered for by asking our bar staff to serve all the cocktails as ‘virgin’ on request, and also had a good stock of teas available too.

DIY Wedding Hand Typed Menu displayed in vintage typewriter

DIY Wedding Cocktail Bar

Next up, was the cake. Neither of us were fond of the idea of one big cake, as we like lots of different types, and didn’t really want to go in for the formal cutting bit either. Instead we asked a bunch of friends to make some little individual cakes and sweets for us, so that people could help themselves to as much or as little as they liked, and had a choice of different kinds too. The wonderful Brigitte (who, luckily for us happens to be a pastry chef!) made us a whole host of miniature cakes, including some seriously yummy tiny blueberry muffins. Then Hannah P made her famous chocolate covered cinder toffee, which was very popular! Adam’s Mum made a load of her lovely meringues for us, and we also bought some of the incredible chocolate brownies from our local artisan baker, Quotidian. And last, but perhaps my favourite, were Hannah G’s macaroons….she made lots of different flavours for us, in pretty pastel colours to match our decor, and they were divine!

Being fervently British when it comes to the cheese course, I insisted our cheese ‘cake’ was brought out after puddings, although our guests were able to enjoy them alongside each other as they were all set out at the sweet station. We ordered six tiers of cheese from the wonderful people at Liverpool Cheese Company as I’d heard they were pretty good. Their advice and service was impeccable actually, and the cheese itself (including carefully sourced decorations according to our guidelines) was amazing. From bottom (largest) to top (smallest) we chose Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire, Snowdonia Extra Mature Cheddar, Delice Cremiers, Cashel Blue, Somerset Camembert and Capricorn Goat’s cheese. Half of these were regular favourites of mine, but it was lovely to have some that were new to me too, especially as the lovely cheese people sent us samples before hand so we could be sure!

DIY Wedding, tiered cheese course cheese cake with flowers and fruit

DIY Wedding, tiered cheese course cheese cake with flowers and fruit

For alongside the cheese, we made a huge batch of sloe port. We’ve been making sloe gin for a few years now, and after the success of the first batch, started to branch out into port, brandy and even chocolate to use up the gin-soaked berries. This was a great accompaniment, as well as the huge stack of bread we also bought in from Quotidian….although disaster nearly struck when we forgot to collect it all earlier in the day! The shop has usually sold out of bread and so closes by noon, but at 5pm Adam realised we’d forgotten to pop round there, and so we panicked! He decided to try our luck by running round there though (all in his wedding suit finery!) and the lovely owners had left a note on their door to tell us they’d left our order with the bike shop next door! We couldn’t believe our luck, although poor Adam then had a huge, heavy box of baked goods to carry back to the venue! Thankfully Hitchin is pretty small though, and so nobody had to go without bread to put their cheese on!

We sent our guests home with party bags filled with sweets too, and so all in all I think everyone was pretty well fed! We had LOTS of cake and cheese, and even a little bread left over (as well as a huge amount of booze!), but we made a good dent in that on the following day when we had a bunch of friends who’d stayed over nearby round in the afternoon. It was lovely to extend the celebrations, and we didn’t really mind having to eat a lot of cheese and cake for several days after!

We really lucked out on all our suppliers…..we took a LONG time to choose our caterers, How Can We Help You, as before Adam found them we’d really struggled to find a company who could offer what we wanted. The format of the menu was really important to us, and many companies didn’t really understand the concept, then we had to insist that all the meat and dairy were organic too, because of our feelings about animal welfare. They really did do everything that we asked though, and nothing was too much trouble…even when I was being picky about the size of forks, the texture of the sugar snap peas and the order things appeared on the plate…I for one was a very tough client, but they really did meet all our expectations.

Our bar team and mixologists, Liquid Chefs, I’d actually worked with before, so I knew how great they are. It was great to be the end client though this time, rather than hiring them on my client’s behalf, so we very much enjoyed choosing what *we* wanted (not to mention trying out all manner of different options first!).

Thinking about it all is making me rather hungry and thirsty….and keen to do it all again, actually! I’ll have to make do with a sandwich though, so off to the kitchen I go!

Ems x

Foodie Friday: Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe

One of the big benefits of our recent move has been our proximity to Costco. I know. What a loser. But I’m totally in love with the place. I love wandering around seeing what totally random things they’re selling (a hot tub, a wooden castle, multi packs of Sharpies, TVs bigger than a car….) and honing in on the bargains on offer. Their own-brand stuff is just wonderful….the Kirkland maple syrup is some of the best I’ve ever had, and their vodka is terrific!

They also have some really great organic and whole-food offerings now too, and we’re now getting all our pasta there as well as buying organic virgin coconut oil in bulk. Whilst wandering the aisles there recently we came across a bumper pack of organic coconut flour. Noticing that it’s gluten free and you can use it as a substitute for regular flour, we thought we’d give it a whirl.

Apparently, coconut flour is one of the healthiest available…. because it’s not grain-based like most flour, it is non-inflammatory like those which contain gluten, and is also very low in carbs. The fats are of the more healthy kind (as with coconut oil they are primarily medium-chain saturated fatty acids or ‘MCTs’) and have been shown to improve metabolism, being used up for energy, not stored in fatty tissue. It is also high in fibre, which helps fill you up!

Whilst looking up what we could do with our coconut flour, we found that a little goes a long way….you can’t use it as a straight substitute for regular flour for this reason, and it also requires more liquid. There are however lots of great recipes out there, especially for cakes and breads….and why not use it to make a more-healthy-than-usual treat?!

As we were off to a friend’s birthday party around the time we bought the flour, and especially as that friend is wheat intolerant, we decided to bake her a birthday chocolate cake! We scoped out some recipes, and actually baked the cake a second time to perfect this recipe. I’m pretty pleased with it now though, and as it’s made up of ingredients we tend to always have in, I know that it will be a bit of a staple when a baking session is in order!

The texture of the cake is very even….nicely moist but also solid enough to comfortably eat a slice without necessarily needing a plate and fork. Initially it wasn’t sweet enough for me, which is why I tweaked the recipe….now though it is wonderfully velvety and chocolatey, not too sickly but also very satisfying. Especially when you consider it’s so quick and easy to make, plus low in carbs and naughty sugars!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky


30g good quality cocoa
35g coconut flour (ours is made by Nutiva)
7g baking powder (gluten free if you’re gluten intolerant)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
4  free range eggs
3 tablespoons organic honey
3 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
60ml melted virgin coconut oil

For the icing:

approx. 5 tablespoons softened virgin coconut oil
approx. 3 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
approx. 2 tablespoons organic honey
approx. 2 tablespoons grade A maple syrup

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

 How to make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 c and grease and line a 15cm diameter baking tin
  2. Mix together the cocoa (which you may need to sift), coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt
  3. Fold in the eggs, honey, vanilla and oil
  4. Mix well until smooth….you will find it takes on an almost mousse-like texture
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack whilst you make the icing
  7. Combine the oil, cocoa, honey and maple syrup using a metal spoon
  8. Depending on the temperature (coconut oil has a very high melting temperature) you may find you want to add more oil or cocoa, and you can also add more honey or syrup to taste, depending on how sweet a tooth you have
  9. You can pop the icing in the fridge to cool it down if it’s too runny, or warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds if it’s too hard….then once you have it to a nice soft fudgey consistency, cut the cake in half horizontally and sandwich together the two parts with icing
  10. Then just use the rest of the icing to coat the assembled cake (it’s so quick and easy to make that you can always make a bit more if you run out), slice and enjoy!

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake Recipe by Under A Glass Sky

I bet this cake would work wonderfully with some raspberries and creme fraiche or yoghurt, although we very much enjoyed it on its own. The icing is pretty handy to make a nice chocolate fudge sauce for ice cream or whatever too, as you can make it all runny and gooey by heating it up.

Next I plan to try a banana bread with the coconut flour….I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on!

Ems x

Something from the weekend, and my “Not Cross Bun” recipe

Did you have a lovely Easter break? I certainly did! It was just wonderful to have a four day weekend, especially with the gorgeous weather.

We spent Good Friday baking…..a coconut flour chocolate cake which I’ll share with you later in the week, and also some yummy ‘Not Cross Buns’ (my version of Hot Cross Buns!). I was rather pleased with them and thought I’d share the recipe with you, as they’re too delicious just to have around Easter!

Not Cross Buns (Hot Cross Bun) recipe by Under a Glass Sky


  • 250g strong white bread flour
  • 250g plain white flour (we used gluten free)
  • 125ml warm water
  • 125ml warm organic semi-skimmed milk
  • 5g powdered dried yeast
  • 10g salt
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 1 medium free-range egg
  • 50g organic butter
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 50g dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp orange liqueur (or orange juice for a non-alcoholic version)
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • Syrup for glazing (we used the syrup from a jar of stem ginger, but golden, maple syrup or even honey are fine too)

To Make:

  1. The night before you want to bake, pop the fruit in a shallow bowl with the orange liqueur or juice and soak overnight
  2. Ideally in a food mixer, combine the flour, water, milk, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl and fit the dough hook. Add the egg and butter and mix to a sticky dough. You can of course do this by hand, although it will be a bit more work!
  3. Add the dried fruit and spice, then knead on low speed until well mixed. Again, you can do this by hand, but flour your hands as the mixture will be sticky!
  4. Now cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.
  5. Next, ‘knock back’ the risen dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and dust with flour, placing on a floured baking tray before covering again with cling film and leave to prove for about half an hour. You can now pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 so it’s ready when your buns need to go in.
  6. Once ready, bake the buns in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool. You can brush them as they cool with the syrup to create a nice golden-glazed finish.
  7. Serve them warm if you like, or split and toast before smothering in butter!

Not Cross Buns (Hot Cross Bun) recipe by Under a Glass Sky


On Saturday we took the short trip into Harrogate with some dear friends. We first visited Baltzersen’s cafe which is on Oxford Street. It prides itself in its offering the best Yorkshire-sourced ingredients prepared with Scandinavian inspiration. The space itself is charmingly Scandic, with simple furnishings and quirky trimmings. I ordered the Lapskaus, a Norwegian lentil and root vegetable stew, which was super. Adam went for the soup of the day, and our friends chose from the sandwich menu, all of it looking yummy.

After that we explored the wonderful Royal Pump Room Museum which exhibits the history of the spa town, as well as some other interesting bits and pieces….there’s currently a small collection of small temporary exhibitions, including ‘The Clothes We Wore’, ‘Inside the Victorian Jewellery Box’, and ‘A Town At War’. It’s well worth a visit (only £4 entry for adults) although you can sadly no longer taste the healing waters that made the town what it is, due to health and safety precautions!

Finally we made the necessary pilgrimage to Betty’s Tea Rooms for coffee and cake. Well, in my case Champagne and cake! We took a lovely table in the Montpelier Bar (which I love as it reminds me of the cafes in Vienna, and you don’t have to queue so long as for the afternoon tea rooms!) and I decided to make the most of it by ordering a Moutard Rose (one of my all time favourite Champagnes) as well as the miniature patisserie selection. It was all delicious as usual and our friends enjoyed their first visit there too!

That evening we all ordered a take out back at our place and Adam made us a few cocktails whilst we watched a Liam Neeson action/thriller film I forget the name of!

Harrogate: Betty's, The Royal Pump Room, Baltzersen's, by Under a Glass Sky

On Sunday we had a leisurely breakfast with our house guests, then went for a lovely walk up on Baildon Moor, which overlooks the village we’re moving to in the next few months. It was such a glorious day and we became even more excited about the impending move….not least on Adam’s part because there are ice cream vans stationed at the car parks there!

Baildon Moor, by Under a Glass Sky

On Monday we drove up into North Yorkshire to meet more dear friends in the pretty village of Leyburn. We had a very nice pub lunch then went on a charming five mile walk to a nearby waterfall. We couldn’t believe the weather (I had taken my big insulated coat, which got left behind in the car!) and were all very eager to get a cup of tea and some cake back in the village at the end!

Leyburn, by Under a Glass Sky

On the way home we stopped off at Brymor, which is a wonderful dairy and ice cream cafe not far from Middleham. I opted for a sugar cone filled with raspberry and pineapple ice creams, which were just divine! Adam chose the elderflower and St Clements flavours which were delicious too. The perfect way to end a splendid weekend!

Ems x


Wednesday Wants… Easter eggs and other gift ideas

For weeks now I’ve been ogling the supermarket shelves as they’ve filled up with rows on rows of Easter treats. There’s no worse time of the year for chocolate temptation, in my opinion….as much as Christmas tends to bring with it more than its fair share of chocolatey goodness, there are so many other treats on offer that chocolate pales in comparison. We’ve already eaten our first Cream Eggs (keenly lamenting the loss of their traditional recipe), and scoffed more than one bag of Mini Eggs, which are clearly the work of the devil due to their temptation factor.

As usual though, I’m also massively drawn to pretty packaging, and I just adore the look of some of the more ‘luxury’ type of Easter treats. None more so than Booja Booja‘s Easter Collection which looks simply divine….

Featuring hand-painted, papier-maché Easter eggs made in Kashmir, each is hand-packed in Norfolk with delicious chocolate truffles in several flavours. If you’ve not tried Booja Booja chocolates before, I highly recommend that you do. And once you have, I bet you’ll find it hard to believe that they’re vegan, and free of gluten, dairy and soya.

The truffles are seriously luxurious, rich and dreamy and melt-in-the-mouth. You can choose from Hazelnut Crunch, Around Midnight Espresso, Banoffee Toffee, Almond and Sea Salt Caramel, or Fine de Champagne. Small eggs, which include three truffles are £9.99, whilst the large eggs, which contain twelve truffles, are £24.99. Plus of course you get to keep the beautiful egg once you’ve finished off the contents, and use it to hoard treasures and trinkets!

Booja Booja Hazelnut Crunch Easter Egg, Under A Glass Sky

Booja Booja ‘Hazelnut Crunch’ Easter Egg

Booja Booja 'Around Midnight Espresso' Easter Egg, Under A Glass Sky

Booja Booja ‘Around Midnight Espresso’ Easter Egg

Booja Booja 'Banoffee Toffee ' Easter Egg, Under A Glass Sky

Booja Booja ‘Banoffee Toffee ‘ Easter Egg

If you’re trying to kerb your chocolate consumption though, perhaps try this yummy sounding lip balm from Sweet Cecily’s. The entire range is hand-made and natural, paraben and SLS free, and never tested on animals. This one even looks like a chocolate bar….but with the advantage that it won’t go straight to your hips!

If you really must ditch the chocolate entirely though, I think these adorable egg cups by Quail Ceramics are a perfect Easter treat. I’ve long since lusted after their adorable animal inspired treasures, and these three are just so perfect for a Spring breakfast spread.

And because it’s not *all* about food (well, almost), I think this super cute trinket dish would make an adorable Easter gift. Just look at that podgy little bunny, waiting to tidy up your treasures! He’d be a lovely addition to a dressing table, or would be perfect to pop next to the sink for when you need to take your rings off!

I hope you have a lovely Easter filled with whatever treats tickle your fancy!

Ems x

Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

We’ve hardly been into Leeds really since we moved….most free weekends have been spent adventuring around the kind of places we were thinking of moving to, and looking at houses. We decided to pop into town on the train for a few hours though, the weekend before last, mostly because Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair was taking place at the Corn Exchange (we used to love going to the one held in Spitalfields Market when we lived near). After some treasure hunting and a stop off at the amazing organic food shop opposite the Corn Exchange, we decided to head for lunch at Global Tribe Cafe…..and I think it’s safe to say it’ll draw us back to Leeds much more often!

The unassuming cafe is located above the Global Tribe Crystal shop on Swan Street, opposite the City Varieties Music Hall. It’s extremely purple inside, and super friendly with an open kitchen. We were very lucky and got a table right away, but the place is clearly very popular and several people had to wait or come back to try their luck again.

Vegan Autumnal Pie at Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

Vegan Autumnal Pie at Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

The menu is seasonal, and jam packed with things I want to try…..most things are available as a vegan option (if they’re not already) and they also have lots of gluten free options too. Being the pie fiend that I am, I opted for the Autumnal Vegan Pie….the pastry was perfect and the filling delicious, plus the garlic kale and sauteed potatoes were just divine. Oh, and I also got my very own boat of gravy….just perfect! Adam went for the Vegan Jambalaya with Cajun Patties, which was equally yummy, and for drinks we both chose the chocolate milkshake made with coconut milk (you can also choose from soya, almond or dairy milk).

Vegan Jambalaya at Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

Vegan Jambalaya at Global Tribe Cafe, Leeds

The service was friendly and efficient, so that along with the several other dishes I want to try will certainly see us returning for more!

Ems x

The Cheerful Chilli Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant, Otley

The Cheerful Chilli Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant and Tea Rooms, Otley Chevin, West Yorkshire

When we first moved to Yorkshire, I did the usual thing of scouring the social networks to find local people and businesses in order to get a feel for the area and find out what’s going on. And when I found that one of the most recommended local restaurants was vegetarian, I was super pleased. I’ve often struggled when eating out, because I tend not to eat meat out (other than when I really know where it’s come from) and I get pretty hacked off when the vegetarian choices are precisely the opposite….a list of one, which means I have no choice at all. Things are further complicated by the fact that my husband doesn’t eat mushrooms or beetroot, which seem to be the staple for many chefs trying to feed veggies. Oh and a salad isn’t a meal…..just because I want to eat veggie doesn’t mean I’m on a health kick! (End rant)

Anyways, pretty excited about the massive choice on offer, we visited The Cheerful Chilli soon after we arrived. It’s a small, family run place, situated on top of the beautiful Chevin Forest Park in an old farm building. It’s fairly casual (no table cloths) but you need to book well in advance if you want to go on a Saturday night as the place is clearly very popular. We’ve now been three times….twice for dinner and once for lunch….and I can thoroughly recommend it.

The menu is varied, although there is a slight Mexican slant….the chilli is their ‘house dish’ and if, like me, your’e into your chimichangas, fajitas, tacos and enchiladas, you won’t be disappointed! From the dinner menu our favourites are the sharing platter starter (seriously yummy and HUGE), the blue cheese burger (yes, this is made from mostly blue cheese, held together with a few breadcrumbs and then topped with melted cheddar!) and the tacos (super tasty and mega satisfying). The puddings are also to die for…the ice cream is home made and AMAZING, and the Chocolate Nemesis is divine.

The lunch menu changes weekly….we loved the vegetarian lasagne and the Moroccan tagine. You can actually visit just for coffee and cake at the weekends (the only time it’s open during the day) and I defy anyone not to enjoy their chocolate Guinness cake, which is clearly a gift from the Gods.

The restaurant offers Bring Your Own Bottle, although their wine list is very reasonable and there are also some great soft drinks to choose from. You can also buy dishes to take away, and they even have a stall at Otley Farmers’ Market too!

It’s a great place to go with friends or family….everything is pretty relaxed and you won’t be stared at for getting a bit noisy and enjoying yourself! We’ve been really impressed by the great value and generous portions (one has to be very careful if hoping to fit in a pudding!) as well as delighted with the choice. There is a good range of vegan dishes, as well as a banquet menu for larger groups. All in all, well worth a visit if you’re in West Yorkshire!

Ems x

Roots and Fruits Vegetarian Cafe, Leeds

Roots and Fruits Vegetarian Cafe, Grand Arcade, Leeds

I was lucky enough to get chance to meet up with an old school friend who was in Leeds for work recently, and decided to take the opportunity to try out Roots and Fruits, a veggie cafe that had been recommended to me….and it didn’t disappoint!

For a start, I adore Leeds’ beautiful arcardes. I love the glass-fronted shops and cafes, and the nostalgia and elegance of it all. Roots and Fruits is a charming little place which sits beautifully in the Grand Arcade, right in the town centre. The space is bright and airy, cheerfully decorated and informal.

We were welcomed by the friendly Kay, co-owner, and after nattering away finally picked from the ample menu choices, which included daily specials. Although tempted by the burger of the day (yes, they do a burger of the day!!), I opted for the lasagne…..partly because it’s something I don’t often make at home (SO much washing up) and partly because it contained mushrooms (which I don’t get to eat a lot at home because Adam hates them!). It’s actually made with feta as well as cheddar, which made for a super creamy bechamel. It was pretty dreamy actually, and mega filling…so much so that I had to forgo pudding and opted for coffee instead (which was pretty good too).

The cafe is open from 11am until 7pm (it’s a shame it doesn’t open later) and I know I’ll be back often….next time I’ll try the burger of the day and try to save room for churros and hot chocolate afterwards!

Ems x

Meat Free Week

As you’ve probably seen on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere already, this week is Meat Free Week! The global campaign is challenging us all to give up meat for the week, to get us thinking about how much meat we eat, and the impact of that on our health, the environment and animal welfare. It’s not just about red meat (beef, lamb and pork), but all meat, including poultry, processed meat (like ham, bacon, salami and packaged sandwich meats), fish and seafood.

Going meat free for one week is a really positive step for anyone; The hope being that for the other 51 weeks of the year you’ll consider eating smaller portions or fewer meat-based meals as part of a balanced diet, and also ensure that the meat, fish, eggs or poultry you eat is ethically and sustainably produced. I’ve written about my feelings on meat-eating before, and because this means I eat very little meat (those ‘meat-free mondays’ actually work better in opposite in our house as we’re only really likely to eat meat once a week!) I suppose this week will be relatively easy for me.

And that’s why I thought I’d share a load of recipes to encourage you to take part, and to show you how easy it is to eat meat free….really well! I adore my food, and I love meat and fish and all the rest, but because I am now very picky about these (in terms of welfare mostly) the increased cost means that it’s more of a treat than a staple. I’m sure that this has benefitted my health which is of course a bonus too.

Anyway, for our main meal today (we have this at lunch time, with a lighter supper later) I made a super delicious dish that took only ten minutes and didn’t require any special ingredients at all (in fact, all stuff we had in the fridge already). I cut a courgette into small cubes, and finely chopped up a small white onion (both from our excellent organic veg box from a local farm), frying them both in a knob of butter until soft and golden.

I then whipped up a simple four cheese sauce, by melting another knob of butter in a pan and adding a small carton of organic single cream. I grated in some of the AMAZING smoked Mrs Kirkham’s Lanchashire I bought at a farm shop recently, some organic mature cheddar, organic parmesan, and a little left over goats cheese that needed using up. Once that was all nice and melty, I thickened with a little sauce flour and cooked some fresh gnocchi in a second pan. Then it was just a case of combining the veg, cheese sauce and gnocchi…serving it up and scoffing the lot! SO quick and easy…..very satisying….and of course, meat free!

Well hopefully that’s enough to whet your appetite, and perhaps you’d also like to try some of these recipes to enjoy a week of meat free meals…..

I hope that gives you some inspiration to go meat free for the week….if you’d like any more ideas or advice please do leave a comment as I’d love to encourage anyone to join in!

You can sign up to the campaign here….. Good luck, and enjoy!

Ems x

British Pie Week, and my regular Friday Pie-day!

I never needed an excuse to eat pie. I’ve loved pie since very young, and I have fond memories of burning my tongue on scalding hot pie filling erupting from freshly made Wrights Pies (a delicacy of my native Stoke on Trent!). My all time favourite dish my Mummy cooks is her incredible mince meat pie and onion gravy….one day I will perfect it!

But in case unlike me you need an excuse, or perhaps the humble pie isn’t something you often opt for (I won’t hold it against you, promise), you may be interested to hear that we are currently in the middle of British Pie Week! Conceived to share the pie love, promote this wonderful British dish and to show people new and wonderful recipes, Pie Week is a perfect time to indulge in something yummy and pastry-encrusted!

Now we have a bit of a tradition in our house…..Friday Pie-day! Whilst we sometimes swap out for Fish Friday, we very often like to scoff a home made pie on a Friday….a sort of ‘you made it through the week!’ treat, and a way to use up whatever ingredients we may have languishing at the back of the fridge to boot!

For me, pie is best served with a creamy mash, but gravy is an absolute MUST (another Potteries, or perhaps Midlands thing I think!). But beyond that, anything goes in my book! I often use up the end of a ham in a pie with cheese sauce and leeks….I adore a fish pie….and anything with a mashed potato topping is a grand idea as far as I’m concerned (cottage pie and shepherds pie feature heavily).

We’ve recently taken up a new organic vegetable box subscription though, from nearby St Helen’s Farm in Tadcaster, and so this week I’ve had some squash that I need to use up. I visited Fodder in Harrogate yesterday and came away with a log of Yellison Goats Cheese which is also made nearby in Skipton. So along with some other things I needed to use up, I made up a tasty pie filling in a rich tomato-based sauce.

It always feels quite rewarding to home-make a pie, but it’s really the easiest thing. I like making pies when we have guests as I can pre-prepare the filling, then clean up before finishing them off in the oven once our guests arrive.

For this pie I simply peeled and cubed the squash, and roasted it in the oven until soft. Then I fried up some onion and garlic, followed by sliced fennel and spring greens. Oh and some chick peas left over from a salad earlier in the week. Next I added a tin of chopped tomatoes (the fresh ones we got in our box are long gone!) to the whole lot, seasoned well and reduced slightly before spooning into pie dishes, crumbling in some of the cheese and topping with puff pastry. Lush!

Ems x

It’s Pancake Day, It’s Pancake Day, It’s PPPP-PPPP Pancake Day!

Like the man said…it’s Pancake Day! And I for one will be enjoying a day of mostly eating batter based foods! I bally love this day….it wouldn’t occur to me to make a meal of pancakes any other day of the year (with the exception of a breakfast of American style pancakes now and again!) and I love the excuse to gorge. I even made a Pinterest board this year with ideas….I like to have both sweet and savoury options, you know, to make it a balanced meal of course.

For breakfast we had Belgian waffles with banana and maple syrup. Then for lunch I had another go at making Okonomiyake, which is a sort of Japanese pancake. This dish is a favourite of Adam’s and although I’ve never had it ‘properly’ in Japan, I’ve been trying to learn to make it. Last week’s attempt was rather poor, but I think today’s was pretty good!

Home made Okonomiyake, or Japanese pancake for Shrove Tuesday

I based mine loosely on the recipes in my Pinterest board, with (as usual) a couple of changes for my own taste (and to use up things we had in the cupboard!). Here’s how I made it…..

  • I mixed one cup of flour with one cup of chicken stock, then added one beaten free range egg to form a batter.
  • Then I stirred in a large handful of savoy cabbage and one small leek (both finely sliced and from our yummy organic veg box) and seasoned.
  • Next I heated up a large non-stick skillet and sprayed a little olive oil onto the surface before pouring the mixture in.
  • Having spread the mixture out as much as possible, I pressed it all down into as thin a ‘pancake’ as I could, and let it cook for about eight minutes until the underside was golden.
  • Then I slid the pancake onto a plate, added a little more oil to the pan as well as some strips of free range streaky bacon.
  • Next I flipped the pancake onto another plate before sliding it back into the pan with the cooked side on top.
  • It was then just a case of waiting for the bacon to cook well, and the pancake browning nicely before serving it all up!

To top our Okonomiyake I mixed up a dessert spoon each of ketchup and barbecue sauce with two dessert spoons of Henderson’s relish and a teaspoon of golden caster sugar. We spooned this sort of Tonkatsu sauce onto our pancakes along with some mayonnaise, which I believe is the traditional topping. Yummy!

For supper this evening we’re planning some more traditional crepe-like pancakes with lemon juice and sugar….although I think I’ll also make some of these delicious sounding apple, banana and cinnamon pancakes to try, and maybe even some of these fabulous looking cinnamon roll pancakes too!

How do you like your pancakes?!

Ems x