25 November 2013

Cowbridge Food Cruise

As social secretaries of the Cardiff cooking society, we thought it'd be a good idea to exercise that social side and head off to the Cowbridge Food Festival for some gluttonous grub to fill our bellies with. Bundling the troops together, we hopped onto a leather seated bus and made our way to the anointed land...

Cowbridge food festival is exactly what it says on the tin: copious stands of delicious food, wickedly cooing your name and flashing you the sticky eyes. Self-control has not an ounce of place here so it's good we left it behind back at home.

Word of advice? Forget the skinny jeans & whack on the elastic fantastics, you'll thank me later.

Armed with hungry appetites & a mission to fill our tummies till they was singing, we made our way through the bustling marquees, dripping with rich, tasty smells that were teasing at my (already) weak resolve & setting my belly roaring.

Apologies body but it's winter & therefore not your time to shine. My tastebuds & my belly take top priority this season.

It was at this point that I knew it was going to be a good day. For me. And my tummy. And my inner fat Buddha. But definitely not for my bank account seeing as my purse strings were quivering before I had even beheld the ice cream offerings.

Purses at the ready...

Mouthwatering smells danced about in the air & the atmosphere floating about in the marquees was bristling with energy.

Temptation was out in abundance, the saucy little devil.

Everything you could imagine was being piled high & dished up, from sticky succulent sausage baps, crispy chicken satays, to rich smokey beef patties stacked to the heavens with sweet caramelised onions just oozing with flavours of satisfaction...

The modest lil chappie that caught my attention was this pulled pork burrito, which word on the street whispered were parcels of utter perfection! 
Nestled in a punchy sauce of juicy flavour and beautifully naughty in all the right ways, these babies were down right fun, delicious and messy.
Just how life should be!

Crispy chicken spring rolls slathered in a nutty peanut sauce. Magnifíco!

We traipsed on through to the middle marquee where I promptly started acting like a 5 year old kid setting foot into Santa's grotto for the very first time. Rows of chocolate, glistening fudge, plump organic vegetables and chunks of home crafted confectionary flirted with both my willpower and budget with their playful winks.

It's never too early for a cheeky taste of Christmas cake!

I unearthed an assortment of organic baked breads, infused with different spices & herbs & found myself drooling at 'Caroline's real bread company'. Our eyes & bellies were drawn towards a rather striking Mediterranean medley focaccia just casually chilling in all its plump, natural glory.

With only one of these beauties left, I waltzed off to behold some other foodie delights with it snuggly tucked under my arm before I knew it.

The romantic dinner that night between Izzy & myself was one to remember.

An Italian flatbread base imbued with basil, portly cherry tomatoes with a drizzling of olive oil; it was truly delicious. Light, airy with a crisp buttery golden crust, it was simply fabulous warmed through in a pipin' hot oven & served up with some garlic oven roasted vegetables.

Now, ladies & gentlemen, let me introduce you to 'Fablas Ice cream'. You already know that anything cold, creamy & charged with flavour will always be a winner in my eyes & this my dear friends, was right up my street. 
There were so many flavours to pick your way through, it was almost cruel. On offer was sea salted caramel, toffee fudge, banofee, bounty coconut to the more wild daredevils of gin & tonic, christmas cake & orange whiskey.

Getting my little heart in a twist at the difficulty of making such a decision, I plumped for a taste sensation of ferrero rocher, smooth vanilla bean & crunchy snickers.

After all, it'd be rude not to sample all three!

They were rich but incredibly light with a silken smooth texture like creamy velvet in your mouth. I was in absolute sugar heaven & urge all you sugar magpies out there to track this company down like no tomorrow. 

I'm serious. Total sweet tooth satisfaction.

The honey roasted cashew nuts were absolutely to die for. They provided quite the magnificent library treat munchies for Izzy & I later that week...

Stunning plaits of oak smoked garlic bulbs accompanied by an array of oils, marmalade chutneys and butters all infused with the heady aromas of earthy undertones and sweet roasted garlic. 

Country kitchen perfection!

There was a little stall settled in the corner which every time I turned my head, was cocooned in a sea of grinning heads and greedy hands all reaching for anticipated hamper boxes.
Deciding it was about time I found out what all the fuss was about, I meandered over to behold a mighty selection of dark belgian chocolate brownies. Absolute winner.

Squishing my way through the gaps, I found myself at the front of the queue, clutching my boxed beauties and matching the ghastly grins of the people around me.

It was time to get stuck into these raucous little rascals.

Not being a massive cheese fanatic, I wasn't quite as keen as my fellow comrades (a.k.a Izzy) to get a move on down to the cheese marquees. Yet, as time slipped on by, we eventually found ourselves in the big jam-packed marquee of smelly diary.

I have to admit, I did get sucked in by all the cheese excitement and found myself scurrying through the stalls after everyone stealing sneaky nibbles like a mouse.

The atmosphere was filled with a tangy and explosive aroma which only got us more excited to get our cheese fix on!

The winner? 'Snowdonia Cheese Company' without a doubt. Offering delicious, fresh, original produce... these full-bodied welsh farmhouse cheddars were truly authentic. 
I wish my dad could've been there to sample the range..I'm sure it would have set his tastebuds alight & set a cheesy grin upon his dashin' face!

An array of fresh, beautifully baked, rustic breads were on offer at the Tortoise Bakery stall who were on a roll throughout the entire day.

These babies were selling like hot cakes...


Needless to say, our adventure to Cowbridge went down incredibly well (in addition to all the food we devoured). If you're ever in the area next year or just fancy a day filled with rich, juicy, crackling meat, pillowy pockets of delicious treats all washed down with some quenching tipples, then I can't reccomend this foodie festival enough! 

You'll want to get your mitts on everything on offer & with a plethora of the good stuff, you'll roll yourself home in a haze of delight.

Having conceded it was time to let our poor bellies rest, we all hauled ourselves over to the bus station, toppled into a bus & headed home, engulfed in food comas of pure joy.

03 November 2013

Crumbly Peanut Fudge Slices

Oh, hello.

I know, I know...it does appear that I've been somewhat missing from this space but life got all troubesome & downright playful, sending me to the naughty step to play hermit & focus on my bothersome assignments. Bloody scamp.
Alas, reading week has arrived in marvellous style & I can now scamper about like a free woman at home. I may even stick on the Stevie Wonder & boogie my way round the kitchen countertops, wriggling in my knickers & apron. 
If I ignore the inconspicuous pyramid of work in my bedroom corner, then hopefully it'll do the same to me. A mutual respect for one another I like to think.
After all, what you give is what you get.

Scooting home three weeks ago for my brother's birthday, I conceded it was probably in everyone's best interest to knock up something hearty & filthy to celebrate. Not his birthday silly, my arrival home of course.
That & it also provided the perfect antidote to slap in the face of my brother's hangover which greeted us in all its cheerful glory.

To be a good sport & make up for my absence, I have for you a terrific, tasty little treat!

I found this recipe & immediately the little kid in me was rooting for some old school comfort & reminiscing at the fond, fatty memories of Reese's buttercups. 

If you're having a bit of a hankerin' for some chunky, salty nuts then I've got just the thing to satisfy your needs. A feat I don't take lightly. A little bit sticky, fabulously simple but straight up delicious...

So that's what I present to you today: Just some good 'ol fashioned peanut butter fun!

Fancy a sneaky bite?

Silly question, of course you do you greedy monkeys.

Crumbly Peanut Fudge Slices:
{Recipe à la the lovely Lorraine Pascal}

250g pack digestive biscuits
150g butter (I used unsalted for these)
200g bar of milk/dark chocolate
200g of light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g jar crunchy peanut butter

Grab a square tin & greasing it with some melted butter, line it with some brown parchment paper. 

Crack open your packet of plain digestive biscuits, weigh out 250g worth & pop them into a sturdy zip lock bag ready to be smashed to smithereens. 
I hope you take note that there'll be a few tasty biscuits left over to nibble. 
Always a pleasant convenience. 

Taking any kitchen utensil to hand, go to town with the bangin' so you'll end up with a crumbly biscuit base. 
I must admit it's kind of therapeutic: a free anger management class taking place in the comforts of your home...I love a good freebie, me.

Soft, crumbly magic

Pour your biscuit mix into a medium sized bowl & with your fingers, crumble up any last remaining cookie chunks that may be mischievously lurking in the deep, dark corners...

Measure out 200g of light brown sugar & plop it into the same bowl, giving it all a good stir so everything is mixed through evenly.

Next up, measure out 150g of your butter, pop it into a saucepan & then leave to slowly melt over a medium heat until it's golden, toasty & silky smooth. 

The leg dream for every girl each time summer bounces round.

Whilst the saucepan remedies up some sweet buttah, snatch up you chocolate bar & breaking it into small square chunks, sling them into a heat proof bowl ready to be melted down later.

Empty packet...oh fudge.

By now your butter should be a mix of warm, molten sunshine, so whip it off the heat & drizzle it into your sugary powdery blend. Proceed to give everything a big 'ol mighty monster stir...

Snap up your jar of crunchy peanut butter & scoop out the salty sweet goodness until your weighing scales chime 300g. 

I pretty much used a whole jar of the good stuff so that my slices would give an extra nutty kick in every bite but go with the desires of your tastebuds.

Throw it into your humbly awaiting bowl of yummy love...

Stick your bowl of chocolate over a simmering bowl of water on the hob & let it mingle away slowly whilst you get to work on layering up the base. To stop the chocolate from melting too quickly & going horridly lumpy, make sure the bottom of the bowl is only touching the water & that the heat isn't turned up too high. 

It'd be an utter disaster to let that chocolate fade into a ghastly, gloopy mess.

Pssst...if a few naughty chunks find themselves melting on your tongue instead of the pan, then I won't hold it against you. Chocolate is after all, notorious for getting lost along its way. Well, in my world at least.

Time to get this nutty show crack-a-lackin!

Taking your lined square tin from earlier, scrape out your creamy biscuit concoction. With the back of a metal spoon, squish & squeeze it all down so that you're left with a compact, smooth & beautifully glistening base.

A buttery biscuit base to rival screen legend Greg Wallace & his love for a toasty nutty base singsong.

Take your melted chocolate off the heat & with a spatula, scrape it out & pile it all on top.

Be a good citizen, do your bit & spread the love...


Told you it was quick & easy. The hardest part of all is waiting for it to set whilst you shove it into the fridge. 
If like me, you're an impatient little devil, then you can speed up the whole process in stellar time by nudging it into the freezer. Who has time to wait around when there's some crackin' sticky treats to sink your teeth into? 

I don't want to earn my sugar coma. 

After 30 minutes in the freezer or an hour just chilling in the fridge, carefully lift out your fudge slab using the parchment to help & peel down the paper.

Pluck out a sharp knife & slice it up into hunky sized slivers. This part proved quite challenging for my little blonde haired head. 
More time than I care to admit was spent avoiding the dreaded cracked chocolate top. 
I gallantly succeeded for the best part of it!

I thought I'd have a stab at being one of those artsy types & stack these babies up to exhibit an impressive spectacle. Did it work? 
Are you awe-struck?

Not that these creamy, crumbly chunks need any more help to enhance their screen presence. 
Their betwitching allure & grace smoulder all by themselves. They simply shine in all their natural splendour.

Cocky rascals

Mop 'em up with some gluttonous slurps of some icy leche or a frothy milkshake if you're pulling out all the stops. 
Being a pig is absolutely compulsory here. Politeness & self control have no place where these are concerned. 

It's time to loosen the belt notches a lil'. Go on...a bit of chewiness, chocolate, crunch & salty sweet rivalry, what's there to say no to?
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