Sunday, 22 October 2017

Tales of the Unexpected at Townhouse Coffee and Brew Bar, Preston

South Lancashire Clandestine Cake club has been running  for over 6 years and over the years for our 39 and counting events we have been hosted by lots of lovely venues. We have lots of favourites, one of which we paid a return visit to for our most recent event.

We have loved them all, all different in their own way. So we were really pleased when we were invited back to hold another event at this great little coffee house in Preston.

Run by the a great team we love this venue, it's so friendly and the refreshments are second to none, the Townhouse is a wonderful retreat from the busy town centre. Its so calming...

For our theme this event we decided on "Tales of the Unexpected" and we really enjoyed chatting through the "unexpected" ingredients in our cakes, great fun and some amazing combinations.

Lemon and Lavender drizzle cake containing swede. This was also gluten free

4 C's cake - included cauliflower

Rich Porter Cake - West Indian Porter

Rich Dark chocolate cake - Guinness

Citrus and Cardamon cake - chickpeas. Gluten Free

Julie's Swiss roll - Spinach

You can find the Townhouse Coffee and Brew Bar on Friargate, in Preston Town Centre

Saturday, 9 September 2017

WeFiFo - whats it all about and Dinner at Maria's

So WeFiFo, whats its all about then, firstly its stands for "We Find Food" Its sort of an Airbnb supper club equivalent meets "Come dine with me" but in a good way. 

Its a way of home cooks, chefs and foodie people to find each other and hold unique food experiences, may be make new friends and eat delicious home cooked food.

WeFiFo events are being held up and down the country, so there is sure to be one near(ish) to you, we popped along to the lovely Maria's and Alan's who are our nearest hosts for Sunday tea, a proper traditional Sunday roast,but more of that later. There is is an amazing range of food related  events on offer so I am sure there is something for you to sign up for and to have your own WeFiFo experience.

If you are a budding chef you can start cooking, host events and earn, just check out the website for more details and lots of advice and guidance on getting started.

  • You can turn your cooking into cash !
  • Discover home cooked food near you
  • Cook the food you love for paying guests
  • Share food and meet new people
  • What's not to love about WeFiFo

This is the lovely Maria our host who is passionate about sharing good food with local people in a friendly environment, with WeFiFo you are eating in your hosts home so its a friendly relaxed atmosphere. 

She's been a WeFiFo Home chef for a while and has hosted many varied and different events at various locations in her local area, it all started for her fund raising for a family friend and it went from there.  

Initially it is a little strange that you are turning up a someone house you have never met before and you are going to enjoy a meal with people you have never met before, but once you get over that initial meeting then you are off and running and by the end of the evening you are chatting like old friends. 

Booking our WeFiFo experience was pretty easy via the website, hosts post their events and you book on using Cookies (The WeFiFo currency) You can purchase Cookies using paypal or credit card and also get them as rewards for sharing and posting on social media)

The atmosphere at our event was very friendly and the chat was wide ranging covers from philosophy to Manchester Pride .

Our main course was succulent roast slice of beef served with a rich gravy, yorkshire pudding (gluten free one's especially for me :-)), crunchy roast potatoes, roast carrot and parsnip batons, cauliflower cheese (gluten free too), tenderstem, beans and peas. All delicious and a great roast dinner.

Maria had created for our pudding after all we are up North here, a delightfully decadent Champagne pavlova with strawberries, billowing with cream. Big piece for me then please....

Chocolate anise cake, again gluten free, rich dark and decadent.

Then to finish a selection of European cheeses with a variety of accompaniments.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening, great fun and something out of the ordinary, it's not just about the food its the whole atmosphere that counts. Maria would love to host something more rustic some if one of my foodie friends has a barn we can use then please get in touch. Of course if you fancy becoming a host Maria is happy to give you some hints and tips to get started.

Here is a blog post from Maria about her WeFiFo story

Here is a video of a WeFiFo event filmed at Maria's 

Our Cookies to enjoy our WeFiFo experience we given free of charge, we were not compelled to write a positive review and all viewss, opinions etc are our own. Thanks to Maria and Alan and the rest of the party for an enjoyable introduction to WeFiFo.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Banana, nut and honey crunchy granola - gluten free option

I haven't done a recipe post in a very long time, apologies my loyal readers but life just got in the way. This beautiful crunchy granola was originally inspired by a facebook post by Miranda Gore Browne ( off on of the early series of GBBO), she posted something similar and it looked delicious, so I set myself the task of creating a granola which would use overripe bananas.

We all experience the unloved banana syndrome from time to time, Mr LF refuses to eat banana once slightly spotty so I nearly always have an ample supply of bananas for bakes and makes, but this one has become one of my favourites, so frugal , so delicious.

For the last month or so I have been sharing the recipe with some of my work collegues and they all love it, so here goes.....

What you need

  • Roughly 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats (if you need gluten free, buy GF oats)
  • 1/4 cup of chopped mixed nuts ( I buy a mixed bag with skins on and roughly chop)
  • 1/4 cup of mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, etc)
  • A few drops of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp runny honey 
  • 1 large ripe banana
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 200c
  • Prepare your baking tray, line with baking parchment
  • In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork
  • Add the coconut oil, vanilla and honey.
  • Mix until you have a smoothish mixture, mashing any coconut oil lumps
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.

  • Strew on the baking tray so you have a moist rubble like texture

  • Place in the oven for approx 12 minutes , remove and turn the rubble to dry out the other side
  • Place back in oven for approx 10 minutes until your granola is golden and slightly crunchy.
  • Switch the oven off but leave tray in oven to cool with the oven door a jar to let the granola dry out further.

  • Once cool store in an airtight jar, I find a kilner jar is perfect.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Goodwins Bar and Kitchen, Chorley.

Goodwins Bar and Kitchen is part of the Greene King Group, the Chorley venue is currently one of only 4 in the country with this branding, the idea is to be provide a different offering than the other Greene King brands, Gloriously simple food with a more intimate feel and with more focus on the overall eating experience. We recently popped along for lunch at the newly open Chorley venue.

Martin the manager and the team gave us a friendly welcome on a busy  Saturday lunchtime, the venue was proving popular with family parties. Due to its location on a busy set of road abouts near a junction to the motorway, the location should also prove popular with business travellers and general passing trade. Service was very good and the food came out promptly, so no problems there.

We choose from the main menu despite it being lunchtime, the website can be found here

So for our starters. Mr LF chose the Homemade Cumberland scotch egg with dressed watercress and brown sauce. The dish  overall was tasty not standout but as described,it needed the brown sauce to accompany the sausage meat and egg combination.

I chose the Scallops on crushed peas,  a nicely presented dish, but too much pea and mint puree in my opinion, the scallops were well cooked but lacked flavour, the bacon was fine and helped to lift the dish. A little disappointing as I love a good scallop.

On to our Mains, Mr LF always goes for the pie, in this case the Goodwins steak and ale pie, British beef in Ruddles ale, normally with mash but swapped for chips on request and seasonal vegetables an a cute jug of tasty gravy.This was a tasty pie with flaky tender pastry, plenty of gravy and filling in the pie, the chips were crispy and fluffy and the perfect choice to soak up all that lovely gravy. Vegetables were fine a good selection of peas, endamame beans, sugar snap peas and chunky carrots.

I ordered the Hunters chicken with bbq sauce, streaky bacon, mature cheddar cheese and triple cooked chips. Served with onion loaf, thyme grilled tomato and dressed watercress.The dish was good, a nicely cooked tender juicy chicken breast, topped with a dark smoky bbq sauce, bacon and tangy cheese, tasty chips and the unusual onion loaf,  this was very savoury and a little different. The dressed watercress nicely irony and a good contrast to the sweeter flavours in play from the onion loaf and the bbq sauce. My only gripe on this dish was the grilled tomato, nice touch using the thyme but if you are grilling a tomato make sure its a thing of melting beauty and not one that's barely cooked.

On to desserts Mr LF ordered Basked Alaska - berries topped with cookie dough cheese cake, treacle toffee ice cream and toasted meringue. Served in a dinky pot, the dish was sweet and decadent, Mr LF  particularly enjoyed the treacle toffee ice cream part, but not sure it was toasted meringue on top, looked and tasted more like toasted marshmallow fluff. It disappeared all the same however.

My menu choice was the Elderflower posset - with summer berries and shortbread. My dessert choice was disappointing as the portion was way too large for such a rich dish, I also couldn't taste the elderflower either, the berries on the top helped but were more of a compote than berries, I would have also have liked to have seen the shortbread be larger pieces. I chatted this through with Martin and they are looking to adjust this dish in the future.

Martin the manager explained to us that their drinks menu is aimed at being more gender neutral, so no craft beers on draft here ( only Peroni or Prahva both lager style), everything else comes in a bottle, beer and cider wise. Lancashire Food doesn't have a problem with this per say but would have liked to have seen some beers and ciders that where more locally produced. Plenty of choice if wine or a cocktail is your thing, they even make lemonade and iced tea on the premises and their Gin menu has quite a few choices too.

Nice touch is that when they serve you your drinks this is accompanied with a small dish of salted popcorn.

Menu prices represent reasonable value and they have a special price lunch offer too. Sunday lunch is sure to be popular too.

You can find Goodwins Bar and Kitchen, Chorley

Preston Road

It's next door to the Hartwood Hall Hotel, which has also recently been refurbished

We dined on a complementary basis after being invited to give a review, all thoughts, views, opinions are our own. We were not expected to give a positive review.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Taste Sensations at Mason's Market Cafe for Taste of Chorley Food Festival

For our last clandestine cake club we took part in the inaugural "Taste of Chorley" food festival holding our "Taste Sensations" event in the heart of Chorley.

Kindly hosted by Mason's Market Cafe we enjoyed a fabulous selection of cakes in a very busy cafe, our event and the wider food festival was a great success and brought lots of people out to enjoy the food, tasters, demonstrations and wider general foodie hub bub in the town.

The day was very busy for myself as I was also manning a cake and bakes stall for my WI who were also taking part to raise funds for our local Homestart group, we were joined by another local WI. It was a roaring success and we sold out (luckily for me) by 2pm ish and mad over £380 for the charity. I felt a little like I had baked for Britain !

Mason's Market Cafe is situated on the covered market and serves quality food and beverages at great prices, a great spot to pop in for a coffee whilst shopping. We were warmly welcomed by the team who also enjoyed sampling our cakes.

Our cakes for Taste Sensations were

  • Pistachio and rosewater cake
  • Sticky ginger lemon drizzle cake
  • Buckwheat banana choc chip cake (Gluten free)
  • Ginger and lemon cake
  • Cherry fudge cake
  • Zucchini and lime curd cake (Gluten free) 

Thanks to all the bakers and cake eaters and of course the team at Mason's market cafe, thanks all to Totally Locally Chorley who helped me locate a venue in a very busy town centre.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Beechs Truffles - All you need is love and Chocolate ......

All you need is Love and chocolate, a perfect sentiment and one I couldn't agree more with. So we were delighted when our friends at Beechs Chocolate sent us some of their delicious new truffles to taste test. (Tough job I know !)

Packaged in a luxurious box of 9 truffles, we taste tested the Anglesey Sea Salted Caramel and the Champagne truffles from their new truffle range.

Anglesey Sea salted caramel truffles , gorgeous thick decadent milk chocolate with a rich soft oozing caramel centre, with a distinctly salty edge, dusted with cocoa. My personal favourite and very very moreish. I was delighted to see the sea salt was from Anglesey, I am assuming Halen Mon which means "Anglesey salt". 

Luxury Champagne Truffles, rich creamy milk chocolate with a luxurious well flavoured centre, definitely champagne, then dusted with icing sugar, these were great and would make a perfect gift for someone special.

Available to order from Beech's Fine Chocolates or  through carefully selected retailers including QVC. There is also a Prosecco truffle included in the range.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Summer in the city - lunch at Turtle Bay, Preston

Turtle Bay, Preston sits in the heart of the city near to the Harris Museum and next to the iconic flag market, famous for its warm and friendly relaxed vibe, Turtle Bay is a popular spot in the city and we were recently invited along to sample their new summer menu.

Harking back to the days when the venue was a record shop ( yes I'm that old ... and yes I remember it as a record shop) part of the interior is decorated in homage to its roots, I loved this area, each Turtle bay has similar relaxed Caribbean styling to its decor, rough plasterwork, bare concrete, sheet steel and of course the colours of the Jamaican flag.


Later in the post there are more images of the fab interior, which screams summer and warm tropical breezes, which put us in a sunshine mood despite it being a typical Lancashire June day outside i.e. 14 degrees and overcast. The welcome was warm and friendly and the team eager to please.

So lets get down to the the food and drinks, the menu has been tweaked to reflect the change in season and the hopefully rising temperatures. 

Drinks - Mr LF was disappointed to discover that the Guinness West Indian Porter he so loved last time we visited was no longer on the menu, so instead he chose the Jamaican Pale Ale, brewed by The Bay especially to complement the jerk dishes at Turtle Bay. 


I chose the Elderflower cooler, a refreshing mocktail with elderflower cordial, cucumber ribbons, fresh mint and lime juice topped up with soda and lots of ice. Delicious and very summery.


On to the food, starters -  the Classic chilli beef patty for Mr LF, a crisp turmeric spiced pastry parcel, with a ground spiced beef filling and scotch bonnet chillies, served on a plank with baby gem lettuce cups of cooling house mayo.

My choice was the Jerk Pit chicken wings, three wings of chicken, spiced and marinated for 24 hours before being pit grilled,  the skin was a little flabby but  overall a tasty dish served with a choice of glaze, I plumped for pineapple. Sweet spicy and tasty, and very messy... no knifes and forks here.

Mains now, Jammin Lamb burger, a pit grilled lamb and mutton burger, served on a sweet pineapple glazed bun with crispy baby gem lettuce, sliced tomato, fresh mint and onion salad, herb mayo accompanied with spicy fries and Caribbean slaw. Juicy lamby and tasty, but  it wasn't very spicy.

My choice was the Avocado, butternut squash and mango salad, I chose pit grilled garlic and chilli prawns to up the protein content of my dish, I was slightly disappointed (only 4 prawns but they were whoppers) and not very spicy but well cooked. The salad made me smile with crispy gem lettuce, sugar snap peas, beets and juicy avocado and mango, coconut shavings and a citrus lime dressing, very summery and colourful.


Dessert time, well it would rude not to, Mr LF loved the sound of the Cayman upside down rum cake, this is Turtle bays equivalent of sticky toffee pudding, warm vanilla rum cake, with rum caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. 


I liked the sound of the Spiced Rum and chocolate pot with coconut ice cream, Richly spiced decadent chocolate mousse served with refreshing coconut ice cream, the portion was very large and not very glamorously presented but it tasted very very good, just a little large portion wise given the richness of the pudding. I loved the enamel dishes used , they just look so rustic


Here are more interior shots for you to enjoy


So That's all Folks ! until next time


Turtle Bay Preston,
Crystal House,
Birley Street, 

We dined on a complementary basis after being invited to give a review, all thoughts, views, opinions are our own. We were not expected to give a positive review.

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