Recipe: Blue Cheese & Bacon Twists

I'm not going to lie, I feel pretty duplicitous calling this a recipe... 

I would say that what lies below is more of a loose set of guidelines to combine three very tasty things - pastry, bacon and cheese.

Lets say you get invited to a party last minute - you know the kind where there is an expectation to bring food, homemade food.

Inevitably, there will be some kind of unspoken competition regarding who has made the best quinoa-kale-tabbouleh-harissa cake (N.B. I love and use all of those things, though maybe not combined in a cake...)

I'm all for low stress when it comes to cooking for others, which I why I always stick to simple and fuss free recipes that most people will enjoy.

The thing is, making something tasty isn't hard when you have good quality ingredients to start with! Barring total disaster - Blue cheese and bacon twists fall exactly into this remit. You're simply adding a few good things into another good thing, then twisting!

A few weeks ago, this recipe really came to my rescue when I was invited to a friends party and had literally no time to make anything. I actually ended up making them half an hour before I was due to leave for said party!

I can also confirm that is is an easy recipe to make whilst 2 (ok maybe 3) glasses into a bottle of red!

Any type of hard/ish cheese can be used here, especially as you and sandwiching it firmly into the pastry, which means it can't escape!

I actually had a small block of Yorkshire made

Shepherd's Purse Yorkshire Blue

in the fridge, which worked perfectly all crumbled up!

Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe
Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe

All you need is:

A 500g pack of puff pastry

Approximately 1 pack of streaky bacon, preferably from high welfare sources (6-8 rashers, this can also be omitted for a veggie cheese twist!)

100g Blue Cheese, chopped up into small chunks.

A little plain flour for dusting

1 free range egg to glaze (can be omitted)

The "method" couldn't be simpler!

1. Roll out your pastry into a rectangle approximately 1/2cm thick. This should be easy as it is already a square block!

2. Cover this rectangle of pastry evenly with the blue cheese, just sprinkle it on right over, don't be worried about getting a perfectly even coverage.

Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe
Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe

3. Fold the pastry in half, trapping the blue cheese in the centre, then roll it out again to another rectangle 1/2 cm thick.

4. With the long side facing you, lay out strips of bacon across horizontally, covering the entire surface.

Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe
Blue cheese and bacon twists recipe

5. Cut the pastry into strips between each bacon slice, as seen above. If you want shorter, "party size," twists, cut them in half again horizontally.

6. Pull each strip off and twist until each one is tightly curled.

7. Place the twists onto baking sheets lined with greaseproof paper (you may need 2 or even 3 trays!.)

Blue cheese and bacon twists
Blue cheese and bacon twists

8. Glaze with the beaten egg and bake in a 200C oven for 20/25 minutes, until the twists are golden brown.

Blue cheese and bacon twists
Blue cheese and bacon twists

Once out of the oven, the only thing left to do is resist the urge to eat them all before you get to the party....

Oh and they will also handily keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container in the fridge!

I hope you enjoy! Do let me know if you try them at home, especially after wine ;)

Audacity of Food

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Introducing: Tarte & Berry

It's becoming more and more obvious that Yorkshire is carving a name as a foodie destination and as a hub for many unique food businesses! Though I am not a native of the region, I am hugely passionate about my adopted home. 

Through my Introducing series, I want to help showcase some of the amazing producers that the North East has to offer and hopefully spread the Yorkshire food message further afield.

I am delighted to start this off by introducing a wonderful business from my home city of York, Tarte & Berry!

Founded by two sisters, Jane and Lucy, Tarte & Berry offers indulgent baked treats, using only quality ingredients such as free range eggs, British butter and sugar, with no additives in sight.

Their range includes Salted Caramel Brownies, decadent Raspberry and Almond Bakewell Bars and Dark Chocolate and Butterscotch Caramel Flapjacks, all of which are handmade!

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food

Jane (L) and Lucy (R)

I was actually lucky enough to meet with the sisters and wasted no time in asking Jane and Lucy to tell me a bit more about the story behind Tarte & Berry.

Jane - 

I actually originally completed a degree in business management, but also had a real interest in baking and wanted to run my own business.

I was working in sales and marketing in Leeds, when I saw advertised online a Cordon Bleu cookery course at the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Surrey.

I actually left my job to go down to Surrey and absolutely loved the course, after that I went to London and worked as a pastry chef, as I just loved the pastry and baking side of things.

I did however become quite homesick whilst in London and started thinking about coming back up north.

Lucy - 

During this time I was based in Leeds working in marketing and PR, but also knew there was something else I wanted to be doing

Jane -

On the back of these factors, we decided see if we could start a business ourselves, so last summer we set up Tarte and Berry, starting with festivals and shows and see what the response would be.

We actually started out with lots of different cakes, but quickly found that brownies and tray bakes were the most popular!

We then down the route of having an online shop, which has only been going a few weeks, the response has been great! We've got big plans and lots of shows booked for the next year, which is really exciting.

We also have a six week slot at Trinity Kitchen in Leeds, as part of their pop up food area, starting in June. So there’s a lot to plan for with that!

Alongside success online and at shows, Tarte and Berry have also been recognised by other organisations. In November 2014 they received a 

BBC Good Food Producers Bursary Award 

and in January 2015 they won a

Small Business Sunday Award. 

I wanted to ask what the the impact has been of winning such prestigious awards so early on in their business journey.

Jane

  - Winning these awards has massively helped with our exposure and social media following, which is so important now for any new business. It also helps grow customer confidence in us too, as we have been externally recognised for our products!

As part of the BBC good Food award, we were able to exhibit at their winter show at the NEC in Birmingham, which is a huge venue!

We didn't even know how much to bake, we actually ended up taking over 2000 items of produce for the four day event, which was the biggest show we have ever done.

I also wanted to know how both Jane and Lucy's previous commercial experience had helped with developing and growing their business.

Lucy -

 It really does make a huge difference, as you just know the way things work, how to pitch to retailers and what they are looking for.

Jane

- Also being professionally trained as a chef really is important, as alongside producing the best quality products, it is also a real point of difference and makes a great talking point with customers.

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food

Jane and Lucy very kindly provided me with a couple samples of their Salted Caramel Brownie and Raspberry and Almond Bakewell Bars to try for myself.

The brownies were extremely moreish and rich, with the perfect balance of sweet and salty. The texture was also great, as they had a slight crunch to the top, but importantly inside there was an abundance of fudgey, gooey brownie goodness.

I surprised myself, because whilst I am a HUGE brownie fan, I actually thought the Bakewell Tarts were even better (this is kind of a big deal, because I always choose brownies over and above everything else.) They were just wonderful, with a crisp buttery base and a lovely tang from the raspberries.

After interviewing Jane and Lucy, I stumbled across their stall a few weeks later in Wakefield, which gave me another chance to get my hands on a Bakewell! 

Want to try for yourself?

You can shop Tarte & Berry online here.

Find Tarte & Berry at these events:

Bishop Auckland Food Festival, Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th April

Harrogate Spring Flower Show, Harrogate Showground, Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th April

Malton Food Lovers Festival, Malton Town Centre, Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th May

Leeds Loves Food Festival, Friday 5th to Sunday 7th June

Leeds Trinity Kitchen Sunday 14th June to Sunday 26th July

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food

A tray of fresh salted caramel brownies - the smell was AMAZING!!

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food

The packaging neatly fits through letterboxes, which is a great touch!

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food

Raspberry and Almond Bakewell Bars

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food

I  managed to see the ladies in action on a Tarte & Berry stall at the Wakefield Rhubarb festival!

Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food
Tarte & Berry Interview Audacity of Food

And of course could not come away empty handed....

Audacity of Food

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Why Cake Club is the Best Club

The first rule of cake club is; eat as much as you can.

The second rule of cake club; make sure you take care when cycling with your cake.... (I learnt this the hard way, as you can see with my slightly crumpled cake below.)

Yesterday was the thoroughly enjoyable monthly meeting of York's Clandestine Cake Club! 

Cake club meets once a month, each time with a different theme and in a different location. This month, we met at

Banyan Bar and Grill

, with the fitting theme of cocktails and mocktails!

There was a lot of variety in cakes on offer, from Pina Colada Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri, Black Russian, Pimms and lots more. I have to say that the Black Russian was particularly outstanding, though I am a sucker for all things chocolate...

I went for a Winter Pimms creation, as we had rather a lot left over from Christmas. I basically made a standard victoria sponge, but added a shot of Winter Pimms and lemon, lime and orange rind to the cake batter. 

For the icing, I whipped up a smotheringly large amount buttercream, laced with a shed load of pimms (as much as I felt I could get away with....)

I find cake club a very easy social event to attend, even with the baking preparation! Everyone is extremely friendly, non-competitive and ready to share top baking tips. It's also definitely not a purely female crowd, we welcome all genders with open arms!

If you live in/near York and would like more information about our next event,

here are the details

.

Or to see if there is a CCC near you, check out the website

here

I will leave you with some photos from our  Vegan and Gluten free themed cake club, held a few months ago! As you can see, despite the difficult remit, there was a fabulous selection of bakes.