How to Eat Cake and Drink Coffee (properly!)

northernmunkeebites.coffeepairingboxesAlthough I now reside on the dark side of the Pennines but I am a very proud Yorkshireman and I’m very proud of the fantastic food and drink that comes from God’s County. This post is a celebration of the coming together of two fine Yorkshire based brands: Grumpy Muleand The Yummy Yank.

The Afternoon Tea trend is now through adolescence and well onnorthernmunkeebites.grumpymulerange2 its way to being considered mature with post-modern, deconstructions and proliferations being the norm. Do you ever stop and wonder if we’re doing it right? Are we just gorging ourselves on towers of cakes and flagons of hot brown liquids without a thought or care to the taste? Are we just racing to finish the pile laid out in front of us? Surely there’s more to it right? Well that’s what I intend to prove with these two awesome Yorkshire businesses.

northernmunkeebites.theyummyyankrange2Now, I don’t profess to be an expert in flavour pairing but anything I have learned in the art I have gleaned from DGH Chocolatier.  Flavour pairing is clearly subjective so thankfully there isn’t a right or wrong answer; if you’re like me and you love Wensleydale cheese with Christmas cake then don’t let anyone tell you that’s wrong! Coffee is a fantastic medium for pairing as it is made up of more than 1000 chemical compounds; these compounds contribute to everything from flavour to aroma. The key to good coffee pairing is just a bit of forethought and experimentation.

So, one blustery afternoon in St Helens Mrs Munkee and I decided to sit down and harmonise two fantastic food and drink brands we’d been sent (it’s a hard life eh?); the results were incredible! I’m going to blow your coffee and cake consuming minds!

Now this is where the magic happens…

First thing’s first, and apologies if this is a little obvious, for the full flavour experience the order is CAKE then COFFEE not COFFEE then CAKE. All the flavours I’m about to walk you through work delightfully together but the power and potency of the coffee has the inclination to overpower some of the subtleties of the sweet treats ; therefore if you want to fully appreciate the journey then this order is a rule not a choice!

Just to be clear, this is not an appraisal of the coffee and cake brands – they’re phenomenal and don’t require further exploration. This post is about pairing two outstanding products to deliver a full flavour adventure so let’s take our lead from the Spice Girls and focus on when two become one…

Carrot Cake with Rwandan Musasa Co-Operative Coffee

Who doesn’t love a good carrot cake, right? This one is exceptional! Initially you getnorthernmunkeebites.coffeepairrwanda drawn into the ride by a light, fluffy and moist sponge and then the sweetly creamy topping and finally the texture is turned with the crunch of the walnuts. This coffee boosts the trip with a bright, citrus-fuelled brew that is deep and powerful. The cream from the cake lingers and is eventually swept away by the bold red fruits in the coffee.

 Butterscotch Caramel Bar with Organic Colombian Equidad Coffee

northernmunkeebites.coffeepaircolombia2Here is masterclass in texture variation to induce excitement and intrigue in each bite. The butterscotch bar is smooth, sweet and almost naughty! So it needs a stiff shot in the arm from a powerful, nutty coffee with just a nod to the smooth caramel.

Raspberry Brownie with Organic Ethiopian Shakisso Coffee

Dark fruits and chocolate play together so nicely and this gooey brownie is the perfectnorthernmunkeebites.ethiopia2 platform for the combination. Pair this with a light, zesty coffee and you’ve got the recipe for a brilliant afternoon!

Cherry and White Chocolate Brownie with Organic Colombian Equidad Coffee

northernmunkeebites.coffeepaircolombiaThe flavour depth here is complimented by the texture variances. This brownie delivers a beautiful blend of creamy, sweet and tart whilst delicately balancing soft, smooth and hard textures. The Colombian coffee extracts the cherry flavours and attaches it to the deep hazelnut notes for a smooth finish.

 Pecan Pie Bar with Organic Seasonal Decaf Coffee

Now for me you can keep your apple pie because there’s nothing more American thannorthernmunkeebites.coffeepairdecaf Pecan Pie – I love it! Here you begin with cheeky apple notes that are juxtaposed by full nutty flavours and held together by a sticky sweetness. The coffee rushes through with a smooth chocolate burst and a curiously acidic finish to bring us back to the fructose acidity of the apple notes.

Peanut Butter Brownie with Brasilian Deterra Sunrise Coffee

northernmunkeebites.coffeepairbrasilThis flavour journey starts with the soft gooey brownie with decadent sweet notes that eventually make way for crunchy, earthy peanut flavours that linger on the palate. The coffee follows on with a smooth caramel entry that is quickly pursued by an echo of hazelnut flavours. A fantastical cyclical flavour flow.

Drunken Pig in the Mud Brownie with Organic Ethiopian Shakisso Coffee

Now, let me warn you – this one isn’t for the purists. This brownie contains vegetariannorthernmunkeebites.coffeepairethiopia bacon, salted caramel and a little whisky for good measure so prepare to be taken on a flavour rollercoaster with a sweet meat treat! The flavours are complex here so I needed to find something that would match these flavours rather than get lost amongst them. This Ethiopian blend delivers just that with a light citrus which picks out the whisky and the caramel to complete the adventure.

So that’s that! Mrs Munkee and I had a belting afternoon and were fully immersed in a self-inflicted, delirious food and drink coma!

Ultimately, there’s no snobbery in me and I’m in the camp that states that you should be able to enjoy your food and drink any way you see fit however I would urge you to give this a go. Just dare to try something a bit different and start your own food adventure!

Northern Munkee.

If you enjoyed my post (or even if you didn’t) please drop me a comment below because sharing is caring!

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Improve Your Workplace Coffee Game!

I wrote a post recently about how I was changing my coffee habits to stop punishing my taste buds and banish the bland freeze-dried rubbish in favour of proper coffee; and I’m pleased to say that I have made that change. However I’m still not coffee satisfied – I’m ashamed to admit that my coffee game at work is average to poor at best. So I need to make another stand.

When you think about a brew at work you think of a battered tea tray, chipped mugs and a shared tea spoon; not the kind of thing that’s going to make anyone leave their desk. If you’re lucky you might have a machine that was installed in the early 90s with some incompatible cartridges that produce a bitter, foamy sludge as opposed to anything that has ever been introduced to a coffee bean. Surely we don’t have to put up with this crappy coffee? Even Maccy D’s has a more impressive coffee craft than most busy workplaces.

northernmunkeebites.honestcoffee1This set me off on a mission. A mission to find a better brew. A mission to find something that would make me get up from my desk rather than bury my head in my laptop through the 3pm slump! Then I came across Honest Coffees.

Honest Coffees share my disgust (although they’re good people so probably wouldn’t use such a visceral word) at the workplace coffee scene and have made it their mission to place foamy smiles on the faces of middle management with a better quality coffee from their machines. I appreciate that there can be a stigma around a coffee fuelled day and I’m certainly not advocating creating an office environment in a caffeine frenzy but I do have a dream.

Imagine the scene: it’s month end and you’ve got a pile of ominous, looming invoices casting a shadow over your desk that need completing by yesterday; your boss has just sent you the third passive aggressive email reminding you of your inadequacies and that you haven’t realised your childhood dreams. So you push yourself back in your chair and slide over to a coffee machine that is beaming and northernmunkeebites.honestcoffeeshiny and not covered in dubious, aged stains. You push the button and wait for the unmistakable, sensual coffee aroma to envelop you as you take a few seconds to forget the world. You take the first sip of your brew and exhale as your boss’ email melts away from your memory. Going back to your desk doesn’t seem so bad now.

So finding solutions like Honest Coffees machines has given me some hope for the workplace and better still these guys pride themselves on ethical sourcing, meaning you can enjoy great-tasting coffee safe in the knowledge that it’s better for the farmers too. I’m a huge advocate of ethical sourcing to create a sustainable and realistic supply chain and this should be a big focus wherever you are.

For too long bland, unethical brews have ruled the roost in the workplace being favoured for convenience and expense amongst the overworked and underpaid. Join me in making a stand and banish the bland brew!

 

 

Gluten-Free Gorging

in the last three to five years with ‘fad diets’ being a thing of the past and a more discerning effort towards lifestyle changes being the way forward. This shift in our eating habits has brought a number of food movements to the forefront such as gluten free, vegan and other free from followings.

In my opinion a Food Adventurer does two things: identifies key trends and seeks to understand why they’re happening. So I set about trying to understand why these movements have gained so much momentum in recent times.

The first thing to consider is when did we become so conscious of exactly what we put into our bodies? I appreciate that this is nothing new to health fanatics but I’m referring to this occurring on a mass scale. In my opinion a big driver of the change happened in 2013 when the Horse Meat scandal rocked the UK. This incident induced a real distrust of processed foods and made us realise that we really had no idea of what we were putting in our mouths at all. The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ suddenly made the UK suffer a bit of an identity crisis.

The sales of processed tinned, chilled and frozen foods nose-dived almost overnight as a direct result of the shocking findings and a new wave of consumption was born. The food industry as a whole was rocked by the event and producers everywhere had to react to the change in demand and provide a good level of provenance and traceability to consumers.

It was from this point that consumers began to really scrutinise the things we ate and weigh up their merits in terms of nutrition, taste and health. In the past fad diets would have waged war on certain aspects of food such as sugar or complex carbohydrates but the idea of clean and natural eating hadn’t really reared its head. Scrutiny of the diet introduced new and alternative foods into the daily repertoire but it also challenged staples that should be left out completely like dairy and gluten. Free-from trends exploded and social media embraced the movement with both arms wide open.

Free-from isn’t a new concept but it has never been adopted by the mainstream populous for one reason: taste. We are now fortunate enough to have a fantastic selection of food alternatives available at the touch of a button.

This post has been inspired by Dinnergise and a fantastic gluten-free recipe that its founder, Nicola, sent through. Nicola’s company has a working partnership with FoodStars which operates a kitchen rental for food delivery which facilitates getting more fantastic gluten free food out to the masses. There are other fantastic free-from food businesses that rent commercial kitchen space from FoodStars so you can check them out online: www.foodstarsuk.com or www.dinnergise.com

Nicola’s recipe below is fantastic, refreshing free-from food that’s really easy to make and a great perception changer for those that haven’t made the leap of faith with going free-from.

Enjoy!

northernmunkeebites.panacotta.jpgCoconut and cashew panna cotta with a mango puree

Ingredients – serves 4

Panna cotta

  • 170g cashew nuts
  • 85g unsweetened coconut milk
  • 85g coconut cream
  • 30g agave syrup
  • 1tsp vanilla paste
  • Pinch of salt

Mango puree

  • 1 mango
  • 100ml water

Instructions

  1. For the mango puree, remove the skin and chop the flesh into 1-inch cubes. Place the mango and 100ml of water in a pan and cook on a low to medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool before blending in a food processor. Set to one side.
  2. For the panna cotta, place the cashew nuts, coconut milk, agave syrup and vanilla pasta in a food processor and blend for 2 minutes. Scrap down the sides and blend for a further 2 minutes. It should resemble a custard texture. Equally divide the mixture into 4 glasses or bowls and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours to set.
  3. To serve, top the panna cotta with the mango puree.

Any comments, thoughts or questions? Or are you a fine-food-hunter yourself and you want to offer me some tips? Leave a little comment below because sharing is caring!

Northern Munkee.

 

Souper Recipes

Souper Swap Challenge

Last week I was challenged to take on the Souper Swap Challenge by the good folk at Baxters; so, being the Food Adventurer that I am, I took it on and replaced my lunches for their Hearty Soup range for a week.

The soup category in UK retail has taken a hammering over recent years as its perceived as being old-fashioned, uninspiring and bland. Manufacturers, like Heinz and Baxters, have invested heavily in product innovation to re-capture the hearts and minds of the soup eating population. This won’t be a quick turnaround but soups are certainly becoming more popular as in scratch-cooking option as we become more health and waste conscious.

Soups are a brilliant, healthy and easy food for time-poor shoppers and I for one always have a good cupboard-full. Instead of me just diarising my Souper Swap Challenge I thought I’d go creative and employ the expertise of Master Chef David Greenwood-Haigh to come up with some recipes using Baxters soups…I’ve also added a little Northern Munkee flair!

Enjoy…

Souper Pasta Bake

northernmunkeebites.baxters

Ingredients

  • 300g penne pasta
  • 400g broccoli (cut into small florets)
  • 185g boiled ham (diced)
  • 300ml semi skimmed milk
  • 150g mature cheddar (coarsely grated)
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 400g Baxters Hearty Chicken & Sweetcorn Chowder

Method

Preheat the oven to 220°C/428°F/gas 7.

Firstly, you need to cook your pasta and broccoli. So take a large pan, throw in your pasta with some water and a couple of dashes of olive oil. Boil your pasta for 8-9 minutes and then add in your broccoli florets. Boil for another 2-3 minutes until your broccoli is tender. Drain the water and return to the warm pan.

Throw in your diced ham, milk, half of the cheese and your Baxters Hearty Chicken & Sweetcorn Chowder. Stir the mixture until it’s completely immersed and add to a large ovenproof dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese, evenly on the top.

Now you’re ready for the oven. Pop into the oven towards the top and bake for 15mins until the cheese is all gooey and golden!

Boom! Mic Drop!

Souper Chicken Pie

northernmunkeebites.chickenpie

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 500g diced chicken
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 500g short crust pastry
  • 1 beaten egg
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 400g Baxters Hearty Country Vegetable Soup

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/392°F/gas 6.

First thing’s first, .add 1tbsp oil to a large non-stick frying pan and gently fry the chicken until it’s browned; this should take 7-8 minutes. At this stage add a little salt and pepper to flavour your meat. Take your chicken out of the pan and put in a bowl to one side.

Now take the same pan and add 1 tbsp. oil and throw in your onions. After 2-3 minutes add your thyme and heat for a further 3 minutes until the onions start to colour. At this stage you could get creative and add some petit pois or butter beans if you’re that way inclined!

Now add your Baxters Country Vegetable Soup to the pan but keep the can. Bring the mixture to a simmer then fill your can half full (not half empty) with water; add to your pie filling. Now re-introduce the chicken to the filling and stir in. Turn off the heat and leave in the pan.

northernmunkeebites.chickenpie1Now for the pastry. Before you start grease your pie tin making sure you get into all the little nooks and crannies. Flour your surface and roll out the pastry sheet until it’s 2-3mm thick. Measure your pie tin and cut out a section that is 5mm larger than your pie tin, that’s your lid. Line your tin with the remainder of the pastry (you may need to re-roll depending on where you’ve taken your lid from) and press the pastry into all corners.

Spoon in your pie filling and level out. Lay your pastry lid across the mixture and crimp the edges using a fork.  Brush your beaten egg across the surface of the lid, this will make your pastry golden and shiny.

You’re now oven-ready. Pop your pie in towards the top of the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is slightly rise and beautifully golden. Et voila!

For more recipes from David visit: http://www.coeurdexocolat.co.uk/recipes

If you liked what you read please give me a follow, a retweet and all that good stuff. If you really liked what you read then why not leave me a comment below?

Northern Munkee.

P.S. In the interest of honesty and transparency I need to let you know that the Baxters soups were supplied to me, free of charge, for the purposes of promotions…and they tasted bloody good!

Cooking with Heinz..

BBQ Mini-Series: Cooking with Heinz

So, it’s officially the British summer and it’s that time when we fellas refuse to wear sun cream, go an offensive shade of puce and revert back to our Neanderthal instincts by making a fire to burn meat on.

I love BBQ season but living in the UK makes it tough to predict and event more difficult for retailers, producers and eateries to plan for. However each year the offering keeps on getting better and better and the categories that the BBQ occasion spans is ever increasing. We would now happily shop the meat aisles, bakery, salad section, spices, oils, condiments and, of course, the booze aisle. BBQ is much more than a category in retail; it’s an occasion, a mood, an ambience and something that the whole nation, nay the world, goes crazy for.

BBQ has increased in popularity over the last few years with the explosion of street food trucks and festivals that have shown the common household cook what is possible with a fire, a hotplate and a bit of food soul. If we get invited round to a friends for a Saturday afternoon Barbie it’s no longer acceptable to serve salmonella sausages or botulism burgers. Now we expect brioche buns, sliders, low and slow briskets, sliders, kofte, shawarmas and a fabulous infusion of world flavours and tastes all on an undersized paper plate.

Now, I’m good with a pair of tongs and a hotplate but I don’t profess to being an expert by any stretch so I’d recommend you check out the BBQ Geeks for some absolutely top tips and the perfect BBQ.

This mini-series explores some of the new and great products and recipes that I’ve foraged and found this year to make Britain’s BBQ season great. So, even if we need to turn to supplements rather than the sun for our vitamin D, we can always enjoy well-cooked, well-seasoned and well-complimented meat.

Cooking with Heinz

Rating: 7/10

PREPARATION TIME: 10 MINUTES

COOKING TIME:  40 MINUTES

12 chicken wings or thighs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon

2 tablespoons Heinz Peri Peri Sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

COOKING

• Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic and oil until smooth

• Place the chicken in a freezer bag, season with salt and pepper and pour in the marinade. Shake and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

• Once the marinade has infused with the meat cook on a medium BBQ heat, turning occasionally, for 30 minutes or until cooked through

• Once cooked place in a bowl and add in Heinz Peri Peri Sauce and toss through so all the chicken is coated. Serve and enjoy!

Verdict – in a word, easy! This is a really quick and easy way to really enhance your BBQ experience and serve food that will impress your friends. There are a range of Heinz sauces that you can cook with but the Peri Peri delivers on that authentic, home-cooked flavour so your guests won’t even need to know!

Details: www.heinz.co.uk

So all that leaves me is to ask: what’s your favourite BBQ recipe, tip or trick? Come on folks, leave me a comment below because sharing is caring.

Also, before you go take a look at my blog on a fantastic condiment I reviewed earlier in the year; it’s the perfect accompaniment to any pork dish.

Northern Munkee.

Barbecuing with Beer…

BBQ Mini-Series: Cooking with Tsingtao and Jeremy Pang

So, it’s officially the British summer and it’s that time when we fellas refuse to wear sun cream, go an offensive shade of puce and revert back to our Neanderthal instincts by making a fire to burn meat on.

I love BBQ season but living in the UK makes it tough to predict and event more difficult for retailers, producers and eateries to plan for. However each year the offering keeps on getting better and better and the categories that the BBQ occasion spans is ever increasing. We would now happily shop the meat aisles, bakery, salad section, spices, oils, condiments and, of course, the booze aisle. BBQ is much more than a category in retail; it’s an occasion, a mood, an ambience and something that the whole nation, nay the world, goes crazy for.

BBQ has increased in popularity over the last few years with the explosion of street food trucks and festivals that have shown the common household cook what is possible with a fire, a hotplate and a bit of food soul. If we get invited round to a friends for a Saturday afternoon Barbie it’s no longer acceptable to serve salmonella sausages or botulism burgers. Now we expect brioche buns, sliders, low and slow briskets, sliders, kofte, shawarmas and a fabulous infusion of world flavours and tastes all on an undersized paper plate.

Now, I’m good with a pair of tongs and a hotplate but I don’t profess to being an expert by any stretch so I’d recommend you check out the BBQ Geeks for some absolutely top tips and the perfect BBQ.

This mini-series explores some of the new and great products and recipes that I’ve foraged and found this year to make Britain’s BBQ season great. So, even if we need to turn to supplements rather than the sun for our vitamin D, we can always enjoy well-cooked, well-seasoned and well-complimented meat.

Cooking with Tsingtao and Jeremy Pang

Rating: 9/10

Method and Recipe

Jeremy Pang’s Barbecued Tsingtao Beer Chicken Drumsticks

(Recipe adapted from Jeremy Pang’s Chinese Unchopped (Quadrille £19.99)

SERVES: 6–8

PREPARATION TIME: 10 MINUTES

COOKING TIME: 3 HOURS 30 MINUTES

4 garlic cloves

1 large knob of ginger

20 chicken drumsticks

8 tablespoons tomato ketchup

8 tablespoons hoisin sauce

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 tablespoons dark soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

500ml of Tsingtao beer

1⁄2 spring onion, finely chopped, to garnish

PREPARATION

• Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2.

• Finely chop the garlic and ginger and put in a deep roasting tray or big pot suitable for the oven along with the drumsticks and all the other ingredients. Mix everything together thoroughly,ensuring the chicken is well covered.

COOKING

• Transfer the chicken to the oven and cook uncovered for at least 2–3 hours, basting and turning the chicken every so often so they don’t burn (if they do start to ‘catch’, turn your oven down slightly). Towards the end of the cooking time the chicken will start to break up and fall apart slightly – this is a good sign, but you want to keep them as whole as possible (ready for grilling), so be careful when turning.

• Transfer the chicken to a hot barbecue and cook in batches for 2–3 minutes on each side until drumsticks are glazed and charred. Drizzle over a little of the remaining sauce and sprinkle over some finely chopped spring onion to garnish. Enjoy.

Verdict – in a word, terrific! Cooking with alcohol isn’t anything new but the BBQ occasions presents the perfect opportunity to introduce alcohol as an ingredient. Tsingtao’s distinctive taste adds a different dimension to BBQ cooking and works fantastically well with pork or chicken. I’d urge any budding barbecuists to give it a go!

Details: www.tsingtaobeer.co.uk

So all that leaves me is to ask: what’s your favourite BBQ recipe, tip or trick? Come on folks, leave me a comment below because sharing is caring.

Also, before you go take a look at my blog on a fantastic condiment I reviewed earlier in the year; it’s the perfect accompaniment to any pork dish.

Northern Munkee.

Pie-Eyed

Food Journey: Pied Bull Brewery Tour

So here’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time on my #FoodAdventure: a micro-brewery tour!

The pub trade has taken a battering since the global recession re-shaped the landscape and, for a pub to survive, diversification is the key. So what a position to be in for a real ale pub with its own micro brewery.

Now, I made my feelings on real ale clear in a previous post: I’m a born again beer drinker and I’m not a hipster nor do I want to surround by hipsters – there’s a reason I don’t live in Shoreditch! So you can imagine my delight when Mrs Munkee and I walked down the cobbled Chester streets and across the threshold of the Pied Bull and it wasn’t a haven for the bearded and tattooed.

The pub was exactly what I wanted it to be with painted wooden beams and old fashioned bar and ornate pumps. Prior to the tour we invited to enjoy a couple of drinks and some brilliant honey and chilli nuts.

The tour itself was lead by the Brewer: a passionate man sporting wellies, basketball shorts and the standard cellar man’s fleece. He led the group down a rickety staircase beneath the pub and into his lair. The brewery at the Pied Bull is the epitome of a micro-brewery it was tiny but the magic that this man managed to produce in such little space is incredible.

The Brewer proceeded to explain the brewing process with gusto, here was a man that loved his job – who wouldn’t?! The most interesting part of the tour was the introduction of the hops and the different varietals to incite the subtle flavour notes in the various Pied Bull beers. This was also, clearly, the brewer’s favourite part of the tour as he became more animated and enthusiastic: hops can be strong, they can be weak, they can be a citrus, they can be floral, they can be a coffee, they can be a chocolate, they can be earthy, they can be light, they can be bold, they can be unashamed, they can be bright, they can be dull, they can be heavy, they can be uncanny and they can be familiar. Hops can be all things to all people. Brilliant!

The tour concluded with the only natural way to end a micro-brewery tour: a tasting!

Black Bull

Dark and intense. This beer evokes a creamy dark coffee with chocolate notes. This quickly develops into a creamy caramel with a Mocha lasting finish.

Do-a -Bull

Pale and full of life. Cold crisp, light and citrussy with lighter floral hops. The deep hop flavours linger on the tongue.

Quaff-a-Bull

Very very hoppy but full of flavour. Light and frothy. Orange notes finish the symphony of flavours.

Details: http://www.piedbull.co.uk

Northern Munkee.