By Heck, It’s Veganuary!*

Ey up! So with it being January, naturally the world and their mother are trying to watch what they eat. Whether that be trying out Veganuary, Dry January or simply watching themselves eat more cake (nom!), you’ll be hard pressed to find someone not talking about it.

As a person who doesn’t eat pork, I have found myself trying to find sausages in this country that I can eat. Other meat types do exist but they don’t seem to be well stocked. So over the years I’ve found myself trying more and more vegetarian sausages.

If you haven’t heard of Heck, then where the heck have you been? #sorrynotsorry. Heck are a British food company who believe in making unique, healthy and delicious sausages – among other things these days! Having been a fan of Heck since I tried some of their chicken sausages a few years ago at a food festival, I was super excited when they offered to send me some of their vegan sausages to try.

Though I won’t be participating in Veganuary, Topher and I have been actively trying to eat less meat in the last few months. At the moment we’ve narrowed down our meat eating to outside the house only. So home cooking is all veggie for us now. I couldn’t wait to try the four type of vegan sausages that Heck offer.

So that we could compare but not overwhelm ourselves, we decided to try out a new kind each night for four days. Here’s how it went:

Day 1: Bollywood Bangers

These are the ones I was most excited for. The package describes them as “Indian-style veggie bangers with cauliflower, green lentils, pulses and seeds. All spiced up with chilli, ginger, cumin and turmeric.”

Since I’m not the best at coming up with recipes (I’m a follower, not a creator) so I headed to Heck’s website and used their Bollywood Bangers Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Dahl recipe.

So…this isn’t my photo. This looks a whole lot better than my photo. I’m good at following recipes but not so good at making it look pretty. You want to see the real thing I made? Well you asked for it…

Complete with chipped plate that I am sneakily hiding with my thumb, I digress. Anyway, you must be thinking, please tell me this tastes better than it looks? Yes. Yes it does. In fact it tasted so good that it ties for joint first place for me. I’ll tell you which one with in a bit! The combo of the sausages with the dahl and the cauliflower was just delicious. If you’re a fan of Indian food then I definitely recommend these.

Day 2: Super Greens

Filled with quinoa, spinach, kale & ginger – I have to admit these weren’t at the top of my list of the types I thought I’d like. Blame it on an entire childhood of hating anything green. But I’m happy to say that these were my joint favourite with the bollywood bangers. Especially the way I served them. Loosely based on this Heck recipe, we ate the super green sausages Mexican style. Mexican is my second favourite type of food so it’s not that surprising that I loved the flavour of this.

So I was hoping that this would look a little prettier but that idea went out the window when the sour cream, salsa and guacamole glooped onto the top. Not particularly arty but tasty as well. We paired the taco boats with paprika wedges. I’m so pleased I saw the Heck recipe because I wouldn’t have thought to go in this direction with this particular sausage. Another meal I would definitely have again!

Day 3: Sweet Fusion

“Veggie bangers made with fragrant thai pesto, sweet potato & sticky rice” i knew straight away that Topher would love these sausages. Following another Heck recipe that would be perfect for BBQs in the summer, I have to once again state that it tastes better than it looks dammit!

My suspicion was correct and these sausages were Topher’s favourite of the whole bunch. An easy meal to throw together and something a little bit different from a plain old hotdog. These would also be lovely in a stir fry!

Day Four: The Beet Goes On

Now I’ll be honest and say I was pretty apprehensive about these sausages. I hate beetroot. I always have. So my plan of action was to give them a fair shot by finding a recipe I could hide them in. Yes I’m a child. Since jambalaya traditionally has pork in it I don’t get to have it I figured Heck’s jambalaya recipe would be a winner.

Ooh look another pretty picture definitely….not taken by me. Thanks Heck. Here’s what I actually made:

Unsurprisingly these were my least favourite but they were edible. I actually finished the whole thing and took some to work the next day. Topher does like beetroot and did agree with me that they had more of an earthy kind of taste so weren’t as nice as the other sausages we had this week. But to be honest the bar was pretty high in the first place. If you can’t get enough of beetroot then these are certainly worth a try.

Overall…

I’m a big fan of food experiments and this one was a successful one. I’ll definitely be hunting some more of these down in the future. It’s so nice to see more veggie and vegan food appearing in stores – especially when it’s so delicious!

Heck vegan sausages are available to buy in Asda, Waitrose, Booths and Ocado

Have you ever tried Heck Sausages?

*Sausages were sent to me by Heck free of charge in return for an honest review

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Manchester Eats Festival – The Experience

Man oh man was it hot on Saturday when Claire and I trekked out to Heaton Park for the Manchester Eats Festival. But was it worth it? Hell yes.

Manchester Eats Festival - entrance

It was around lunchtime when we strolled through the entrance and we were hungry! Luckily for us the festival was big but not overwhelming so we had plenty of choice.

Manchester Eats Festival - festival

We started by having a stroll around on the hunt for lunch. We mainly spent our time taking photos of things we wanted to come back for on the way out to take home. A strategy that worked out perfectly. The festival was busy but not too crowded – mainly down to the football being on (Yay England!). But something that I wasn’t expecting was that they had set up TVs dotted around with lots of seating so you could actually watch the game. Claire and I stopped at them every so often to keep an eye on the score but we were on a mission.

Manchester Eats Festival - candyfloss

Our first stop was for a drink at Calyx. Their watermelon, apple and hibiscus flower mocktails were to DIE FOR! It was the perfect thing for the hot weather. So refreshing.

Manchester Eats Festival - pineapple

As for lunch itself, Claire spotted Cottonopolis’s Japanese offerings so how could we say no? Claire had a Chicken Kaarage Bao bun with kimchi, I had a Katsu Chicken Burger and we split some okonomiyaki fries.

Manchester Eats Festival - katsu chicken burger

Completely stuffed, we wandered some more in search of something a bit more alcoholic. For once I hadn’t driven so I could have whatever I wanted.

Manchester Eats Festival - football

Claire being a big gin fan was instantly drawn into the gin garden where she had a cocktail from Tappers. She said it was delicious. I will take her word for it as I don’t like gin!

Manchester Eats Festival - spirits

Manchester Eats Festival - gin

I do however like Pimms…

Manchester Eats Festival - pimms

Manchester Eats Festival - signpost

It was getting hotter by the minute so we sat in front of one of the TVs to drink our drinks. Perfect timing for one of our goals! Come on England!

Manchester Eats Festival -chilli

Manchester Eats Festival - fried chicken

Then it was time for dessert. Claire was fascinated by the concept of ice cream rolls so we visited The Ice Alchemists. They whipped up Manchester tart flavoured ice cream rolls and it was definitely true to taste. I might have had a little nibble.

Manchester Eats Festival - ice cream rolls

Earlier on we had spotted something new in the dessert world so I had to make it my dessert choice. Milky Stax are a new company who specialise in hot pressed ice cream buns. Delicious brioche buns filled with ice cream. Kind of like a doughnut or ice cream sandwich. I definitely enjoyed mine (vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie crumble on top) – the portion was just right and I loved the contrast between hot and cold. I hope to see them around again!

Manchester Eats Festival - ice cream sandwich

By this point we were pretty tired and hot so it was time to put our foldable shopping bags to good use and go round buying everything we wanted to bring home with us. Did I mention how much I like being employed full time again? It was mainly sweet treats and booze I bought and I regret nothing. Since Topher couldn’t come I had to get him this chocolate I spotted at In Truffle We Trust. He loved it and I also loved the pecan pie chocolate I got for myself. Delicious.

Manchester Eats Festival - chocolate

Overall both Claire and I had a great day. Food, drink, sunshine and England getting through to the semi finals! Thanks to Manchester Eats Festival for providing our tickets. I hope you’ll be back soon!

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Manchester Eats Festival 2018 – Heaton Park, July 7th & 8th *

Long time readers of this blog will know I am a massive foodie. I am also a huge fan of food festivals. Topher and I are lovers of Disney World’s Food & Wine Festival at Epcot but can no longer go as it’s during term time and he works in a school. Sad face.

Much closer to home I was also hoping the Ideal Home Show would be back to Manchester this year and bring it’s Eat and Drink festival along with it but my dreams were shot. Another sad face.

Enter Manchester Eats Festival

That’s right, Manchester has a food festival coming up! My food loving heart is overjoyed. Manchester Eats Festival is in Heaton Park next weekend (7th– 8thJuly), tickets start from just £7.50 and kids under 14 go free. I will be there with bells on. And trousers that have a stretchy waistband! Plus the weather looks like it’s going to be just as hot as it’s been in the last week or two. So don’t forget the sun cream!

Highlights of the festival include demos with top chefs such as Marco Pierre-White, Ed Bainesand more, free workshops, street food, a prosecco tent, food marketplace, gin garden and vintage fairground rides. Plus one of their exhibitors is Reds True Barbecue. I’m sold.

It’s perfect for going with your friends or you can even bring the whole family along. There’s something for everyone – whether you’re into your alcohol or you can’t stop talking about healthy living. I’ll be telling my friends with little ones about the free cookery class for kids – maybe they’ll end up with a master chef? There’s even something for the vegans so don’t let dietary restrictions stop you from giving it a whirl.

I can’t bloody wait. I’ll be attending with my fellow foodie Claire and hopefully we  If you end up going and see me around – come and say hi. I’ll probably have a mouth full of food but something tells me I won’t be the only one! Those who can’t make it check out my post about it in a couple of weeks.

Tickets for Manchester Eats Festival are available here.

Are you a fan of a food festival?

*Post in collaboration with Manchester Eats Festival.  All photos provided by Manchester Eats Festival.

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Bake with a Legend – Baking Bread with Paul Jagger

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4625/39911815351_33bc1aba69_o.jpg

I’m a good cook but when it comes to baking and desserts I’m a bit of a jinx.

Nothing seems to go right – the worst thing being the Bailey’s cheesecake that Topher refused to eat after one bite. So when I got the opportunity from Bake with a Legend to attend a cooking class, I jumped at the chance.

bake with a legend - paul

Photo courtesy of Bake with a Legend

Bake with a Legend is a series of cooking class that takes place across the UK and lets you learn from the greats. The class I attended was in Manchester and would be learning to bake bread with Paul Jagger from GBBO 2015.

I didn’t start watching Great British Bakeoff until 2016, the year after Paul’s round, but after immediately falling in love with the show I found the previous seasons online and binged. I was happy to hear that it was both Paul and we’d be making bread as I still remembered his amazing lion he made. If you haven’t seen it, just google “Paul Jagger Bread Lion”. Even Paul Hollywood said it was one of the best things he’s seen in bread ever!

bake with a legend - garlic

Our three hour class (which included a glass of fizz and snacks) was an informal affair where we learned how to make grissini sticks and Asian inspired garlic bread.

bake with a legend - mixing bowl

bake with a legend - paul jagger

I really enjoyed the format of the class.

Paul would show us a few steps and then we would go to our work benches and try it ourselves before going back to him where he would then do the next bit. Being able to do things piece by piece left little room for error and I didn’t feel like I was rushed at all. This was particularly useful being a blogger and having to take a million photos during the whole class.

bake with a legend - rosemary

bake with a legend - prove

Paul was a great teacher and very down to earth. Everything was explained in detail and he took great care in making sure we were all up to speed. This may have included saving my dough when I messed up… Bit of advice, just use one hand to knead a sticky dough – don’t stick both hands in like a pillock!

bake with a legend - dough

bake with a legend - tray

While our bakes were in the oven, we got to sit down with Paul and ask him questions. It was so interesting to find out about the audition process behind GBBO and what really goes on during filming. Luckily during this time, the helpful staff were keeping an eye on all our ovens to make sure nothing burned!

bake with a legend - garlic bread filling

bake with a legend - finished grissini sticks

I was amazed to find that both my grissini sticks and my garlic bread came out looking perfect! We were given bags to take everything home and I felt so proud showing Topher all of it. He was astonished that I had made them and the filled garlic breads made for a delicious lunch.

bake with a legend - filled garlic bread

bake with a legend - me and paul

Bake with a Legend costs £99 for a single person and £175 for a pair and I would definitely say that it is worth the money. It’s great for birthdays, hen & stag parties and couples too. The couple sharing our bench were gifted the class for Christmas from their children and it makes me think about doing the same for my parents. They both enjoy cooking and it would make a change from the same old gifts I get them every year.

It’s something I would bring Topher to in the future too – there was another couple there that day and I think it’s such a good idea for a date day!

bake with a legend

Photo courtesy of Bake with a Legend

I had a brilliant day with Paul, the other bakers and the Bake with a Legend crew and look forward to getting back into the kitchen again. Thanks Bake with a Legend!

*My place in this cooking class was free of charge but as always, my opinions and words are my own. 

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Sky High Tea with Roberts #embracethenew

I love a good Afternoon Tea but I’ve never been on a Sky High Tea before

So when I got an invitation to join Robert’s Bakery and try out some of their new products at a Sky High Tea, I couldn’t say no. Did someone say baked goods? The bakery aisle has always been my favourite. Roberts is a northern bakery that has been around since 1887 and is currently embracing the new with some awesome new products.

What is a Sky High Tea you ask? It’s afternoon tea…on a table that’s suspended 100ft in the air. Not one for the faint hearted!

sky high tea - ticket

A few weeks ago on a particularly wet day, myself and some fellow lovely ladies from We Blog North headed over to the Etihad Stadium to meet with the brand.

sky high tea - eithiad

I wasn’t sure what to expect but the Robert’s team were absolutely lovely and explained away all our fears. I’m actually afraid of heights myself but luckily not enough to stop myself doing things like this! We were perfectly safe as each chair came with seat belts and no handbags were allowed to come with us. We were also protected from the rain with a cover so that was very reassuring.

sky high tea - rain

sky high tea - we blog north

If you have a spare half hour you should definitely check out the other’s blogs: Jacinta, Kirsten, Laura, Holly, Kat and Asma. So once we were all individually strapped into our seats (which can spin 360 degrees btw!), we were off!

sky high tea - table

The table rose a hell of a lot faster than I was expected and before I knew it, we were 100ft up. It actually didn’t feel that high at all…until you looked down of course!

sky high tea - diane and asma

sky high tea - view

sky high tea - stadium

sky high tea - long way down

Once we were all used to the height, it was time to get down to business. Afternoon tea time. Here was the menu:

sky high tea - afternoon tea

Bottom tier:

Stilton, Walnuts and oh-so-sweet Pear, on Seriously Seeded Bloomer

Creamy Wild Mushroom Crispy Bacon on Mightily Malted Bloomer

Chorizo, Fabulous Feta and Rocket on Wondrous White Bloomer

Peri-Peri Chicken on Fiery Corn Ready-to Rolls

sky high tea - sandwiches

I could only eat the chicken and the mushroom sandwiches as I don’t eat pork but I can confirm that they were both delicious. My favourite was definitely the chicken as I loved the combo of the peri peri with the fire corn roll.

sky high tea - chicken

The middle tier:

Fresh Courgette, Mushroom and Turmeric Mini Loaf

Marbled Red Pesto and Pink Peppercorn Mini Loaf with Creamy Goats Cheese centre

and a special surprise of Bijou White Bread roll with a centre of Camembert and Rose Jelly.

sky high tea - bread

The latter was my favourite as I’m a massive fan of camembert. The goats cheese roll was my least favourite as although I love goats cheese, I’ve discovered that I’m not a fan of pink peppercorn. It was just a tad overpowering for me. The courgette was also very tasty but the camembert was a clear winner.

Top tier:

Sticky Toffee Scones with Soft Fudge and Dates

Lemon and Orange Scones made with zest and squeezed juices then mixed with candied citrus

Both served with clotted cream

sky high tea - scone

I loved the citrus scone but I could have eaten the sticky toffee one all day and every day. Still dreaming about it now! I’ve never had a flavoured scone before (unless you count cheese) so this was a lovely change from regular scones.

Finally, we were all given a taste of Robert’s gin and tonic fun buns.

sky high tea - buns

I was a bit apprehensive as I’m really not a fan of gin (probably comes from my rebellious teenage self taking a swig of a bottle from my parents liquor cabinet and instantly regretting it…) but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by these. They have the sweetness that you’d want from something that’s called a fun bun but then they have that kick of gin at the end. The kick isn’t too overpowering for someone like myself that doesn’t like it. But it’s enough of a kick that gin fans will love it. Apparently things that are supposedly gin flavoured are usually way too subtle so this definitely hits the mark for all you gin lovers out there.

sky high tea - g&t bun

sky high tea - staff

After a lovely afternoon tea, we headed back down to earth where we were sent on our way with some goody bags. I was really happy to find that one of the items was the gin buns. Also, Topher got to try the firey corn rolls which were definitely up his street!

sky high tea - goody bag

Thanks Robert’s for a great experience that certainly livened up what would have probably been a dull Thursday lunchtime!

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