New bread making courses on offer in the north west

doughIf you fancy getting in on the whole artisan bread thing, there’s two three places starting in July offering ‘how-to’ courses from the not-for-profit organisation Cracking Good Food.

If you’re within striking distance of Flixton, Prestwich or Chorlton-cum-Hardy, the new classes could help your inner baking knead.

The organisers say:

Having successfully launched a new full-day bread class, Our Daily Bread, last week in Flixton, Cracking Good Food will return to the Girls’ School there for more baking on 12 July and 8 November (10am-4pm, £95). Cracking Good Food also takes artisan breadmaking to North Manchester for the first time on 7 June and again on 27 September, with a brand-new all-day course at Prestwich Arts College (10am-4pm, £95).

Cracking Good Food’s half-day Breaking Bread courses continue to run at Chorlton High School (the next programmed are 14 June, 13 September and 11 October, 10am-2pm, £55), and there is also a special Festive Bread session on 22 November (10am-2pm, £55).

CGF’s breadmaking expert Rob Tomlinson explains what happens there: “Our workshops are totally hands-on and participants come away with the knowledge of how to make organic loaves, aromatic focaccia, rye bread, delicious garlic naans, and even the perfect pizza base. The battle to restore decent bread to its proper place is gathering momentum. Join us!”

See for details and booking information for all the classes on offer and to find out more about Cracking Good Food’s community work.

Honours, fish and chips and investigations – hello 2014

A very Happy New Year to all!

Getting 2014 started here at the food blog with heartfelt congratulations to Manchester’s amazing Tse sisters, Lisa and Helen.

The twins, who operate the Sweet Mandarin restaurant, were each awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

While they are probably best known to many for the Dragon’s Den appearance below, I shall personally remain in Lisa’s debt for teaching me some wok moves all those years ago when the pair of us tweeting our cookery lesson became a first for a UK restaurant. Wow, how times have moved on.

Cheers to you both for your well-deserved recognition.

A haddock fillet with light and non-soggy batter, mahogany edges protruding from the soft embrace of a scantly buttered bap. Fried in dripping, not sunflower oil. Always with scraps, those delectable leftover fragments, the pain perdu of the fryer.

This, what I can only call an ‘ode to fish and chips’ was published earlier this week on my latest project, – a community-funded writing platform. It was written by Kate Feld, the writer behind the enduring Manchizzle blog and is a delicious piece of food writing. If you fancy doing something similar for a future issue, the site is now open to writers to propose submissions for commission and membership is currently free. Further details on that here.

Finally, I happened to catch, briefly, some trashy TV programme over the break about how the food and health industries make us unhealthy. Before I switched over, a startling claim was made – that industrially produced bread is padded out with chicken feathers. Now whether this is true or not I haven’t had time to properly investigate – I’m guessing there’ll be many a complaint from the food lobby to Ofcom if it’s not – but it struck me that many edible products now seem to contain what can only be described as byproducts from other parts of the food industry.

I’m hoping to look at this more at some point this year and would very much like to hear from anyone who has first-hand knowledge about any such activity. Please feel free to contact me in confidence

Zomato’s Manchester ambitions continue apace

zomatoI recently caught up with the team behind the food discovery website and app Zomato to see how their Manchester launch was going.

Regular readers of this blog might remember we revealed how the Indian operation had started work in the city back in July.

Since then, there’s been a lot happening behind the scenes which I’ve reported on for the Prolific North website here.

Chefs tour the north west and north Yorkshire food stars

The north of England’s foodie hotspots have been discovered by The Guardian this weekend with both north Yorkshire and the north west being featured.

Writing in food and drink pages, Michelin-starred chef of the Yorke Arms in Pately Bridge, Frances Atkins takes a look at places including Harrogate, Ripon and Wensleydale.

Meanwhile chef Mary-Ellen McTague makes the case for looking past the clubbing and nightlife scene of north west cities and instead thinking food.

We’ve always done other stuff brilliantly in the north-west: art, music, fashion, design, clubbing, brawling … But we never quite got that combination of cool and quality right where food is concerned. But things have changed around here over the past couple of years, and we have a load of places to be proud of.

Check out her recommendations here.

Glazed roast chicken to liven up Sunday

Tesco’s been doing some research among its customers to find out what’s cooking at home and people’s attitudes towards food.

The supermarket carried out a survey of 2,000 parents and quizzed them about such things as their level of passion for cooking and how often a microwave was used for the main family meal.

And among the findings they also identified favourite meals and came up with this top five list for Manchester meals which show a pretty traditional, and it could be said, unadventurous, selection:

  • Roast dinner (14%)
  • Spaghetti bolognaise (8%)
  • Pizza (8%)
  • Lasgne (7%)
  • BBQ chicken/cottage pie (5%)

So as part of its Love Every Mouthful campaign, they’ve come up with this recipe for a different sort of roast chicken and asked me to try it out. Could this oriental inspired glazed chicken tempt you into trying something different?

Glazed roast chicken

Glazed roast chicken with lemon roast potatoes and broccoli

61/2 tbsp clear honey
5tbsp soy sauce
small piece of grated ginger
9 crushed garlic cloves
5 tbsp rice wine
1 chicken
2lb halved charlotte pots
2 thinly sliced lemons
1tbsp olive oil
200g tenderstem broccoli

It’s simple enough to do. Put the honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and ricewine in a pan and bring to the boil for 5 mins. It should go thick and sticky but I have to admit mine remained quite runny so I think I’d add some extra honey next time.

Coat the chicken with the half the glaze and stick it in an oven pre-heated to 190c.

30 mins before then end of the cooking time (which will depend on how big your bird is), remove from the oven to add the final half of the glaze and add the lemons and potatoes tossed in oil to the oven for the final cooking.

Verdict: The glaze kept the bird very moist and succulent. The flavours were delicate and makes for an extra zing to the Sunday roast with the potatoes also lighter than your standard roasties.

Tescos is hoping people will share their resulting creations on social media using the hashtag #loveeverymouthful and so you might well find other recipes popping up across Twitter and Instagram.

Restaurant discovery platform Zomato launches in Manchester

zomatoI say tom-a-to, they say zom-a-to!

This newcomer on the Manchester food scene is a tech start-up bringing a hyperlocal restaurant finder for web and mobile to the city.

Already making moves in Dubai and India, the young company has set its sights on the UK and this week quietly launched in Manchester.

As they explained to me, the launch was deliberately low key as they build up the contacts and knowledge locally to understand the city’s particular needs and habits.

The team is busy securing an office in the city (possibly in the Northern Quarter) as well as meeting with food bloggers to forge links into the online community.

Of course they’ll be jostling for attention among both big media players such as the MEN’s City Life listings pages as well as the smaller players like ManchesterConfidential.

So what does Zomato Manchester, with an existing 14m global users per month for the main site, have to offer that’s different?

A screengrab from the app
A screengrab from the app
The service’s USP is a full menu service. Every single restaurant, cafe and food outlet has been contacted and the menus extracted to be displayed to users searching for a style of food, the price they’re willing to pay or the location.

And they don’t just display that as a one-off – the menus are checked and updated as necessary every three months – quite an undertaking considering they are featuring Manchester’s 1,800 outlets.

I’ve been trying out the iPhone app and there’s a few interesting features. Firstly it’s location-aware so search results can relate to the users actual position.

For those of us that like to review the places we eat in, there’s an interesting badging system for contributors which rewards them based upon followers and the number of reviews in order to establish super users who are trusted voices.

The search also allows users to create circles of people to follow for recommendations so building a social network within the specialised genre of food for a particular location. I think that’s pretty neat.

It will be fascinating to see how it evolves. In London, where they launched just seven months ago, The Daily Mirror’s Martin Newman wrote in the Huffington Post of how they were blitzing London’s ultra competitive restaurant listings.

Zomato’s breadth of coverage now exceeds all their existing London competitors with their main selling point the scanned copies of menus for every one of their listings. They’ve signed up several thousand members and their website is attracting hundreds of thousands of hits a month – all without having spent a penny on advertising the London arm!

One to watch.

Move over Manchester Egg – the Geordie egg is on it way!

First came the Manchester Egg but it looks like it could it soon be rivaled by the Geordie egg.

The Mancunian version – “A pickled egg wrapped in Bury Black Pudding and premium sausage meat with a golden crumb” caused a bit of a media storm when it was created back in 2010.

But what of this north east upstart? Former MasterChef Live champion, Gareth Kyle, has cooked this while making Geordie-themed dishes including black and white scotch eggs which, no surprises, use white and black pudding!

A few other pickings from the northern food scene this week:

* At Leeds Grub, Katie bemoans the loss of the well-regarded restaurant Antony’s and invites a conversation about reasons for its demise. “Some people are blaming shiny new Trinity luring customers away and I’m sure that is a factor,  but I feel that the Anthony’s offering as a whole has been frustratingly hit and miss for a while.”

* In the latest of the humorous telling of tales from a pub restaurant, the Northern Snippet reveals proof that the beauty of a rump has proved to be in the eye of the beholder. ‘That was wonderful,the best rump steak I’ve ever tasted,thankyou so much..’

* Did you know that herbs can cause food poisoning? It’s been revealed that they can be just as dangerous as any other food item that’s not prepared properly. Health officials say that uncooked curry leaves in chutney were the cause of the Newcastle street food festival poisoning outbreak which affected more than 400 people.

Got some northern food news to share? Dish it up here – drop a link into the comments below, on Twitter @foodiesarah or email me foodiesarah AT

Vote: Is breakfast the new eating out?

Cinnamon Roll
Picture: Pam Ramsey on Flickr.

It’s reported that 25% of us now eat breakfast out of the home at least once a week – is that you?

I will admit to being partial to a weekend brunch but apparently starting the day with a proper breakfast and using that as an opportunity for some early business networking, or simply making new friends, is becoming a trend in some areas.

Manchester now has its first breakfast club according to this article on the BBC food network.

Anna Tully and partner Jamie are serving up homemade cinnamon rolls and a buffet of sweet and savoury foods.

She says:

(The cinnamon rolls) are really, really decadent. I made a salted caramel that you pour into a pan and put the pecan and cinnamon rolls in there and turn them out.

“We wanted to add some savoury stuff to the menu as well so we do chorizo and courgette muffins, and Jamie wanted to try some French cooking, so he is making his own croissants from scratch.

So new trend or just a passing fancy? I’ll be talking about breakfast on the move on Monday morning’s Mike Parr show on BBC Radio Tees so let me know what you think below and please do cast your vote here.

[poll id=”2″]

Mapped: Welcoming The Hungry Manc

The latest addition to my map of northern food bloggers is The Hungry Manc who is busy munching around Manchester.

LogoAuthored by The Kitchen Assistant, the blog attempts to capture something of the everyday with photography and reviews:

I will be writing about what I eat (and perhaps drink). Not necessarily by means of any sort of recommendation – jeez, why would, or should you listen – but simply to share my ideas and thoughts on the food we all eat.

Afterall we live for an average of 75 years each and eat 3 times a day – in one lifetime that comes to something in the region of 80,000 meals we all get through. So why not try to enjoy each one? And please share your thoughts here with others.

* Do you belong on the map? Please let me know via the comments below, email or tweet me @foodiesarah and I’ll add you into the next update.