Monday, 28 November 2016

We're Making a Super Soup

When it's cold there's not much better than hot soup and bread to get rid of them there chills people!

A box of seriously vibrant tomatoes for a quid

While generally browsing around my favourite shop, Adams on Coatsworth Road I noticed a very jazzy box of tomatoes and asked how much they were, I immediately bought them when the man behind the counter said £1 thinking we could make an awesome soup rammed with vitamin C (which is handy through winter when the sun goes into hiding) and seriously tasty, we picked up some fresh basil too, as you may or may not know Tomatoes, basil and salt are best mates in the food world. Some of the tomatoes were a bit soft or had blemishes etc on them, but just cut it off as this doesn't effect the soups taste.

This soup is pretty easy to make, chop an onion fry it off, slice a carrot finely chuck it into the olive oil and brown. Cut all the tomatoes roughly and get them into the pan (we use the skin, juices and seeds, but you can takes them out/off if you can be bothered) get a big dollop of any tomato puree into the mix and add some salt to season and some sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes (If you're not a great fan of sugar you could remove this bit!)

Once the Soup has been simmering away taste and see if it needs any more salt or sugar (don't go crazy, mind as we're trying to keep things healthy, right!), then tear in the fresh basil, before blending with an hand blender, and serving straight into bowls with a generous grating of parmesan cheese (or whatever cheese floats your boat).

Other than having some nice food which the kids help make, we also like to put some money into a local businesses till. You should go down the Coatsworth Road in Bensham it's great, loads of diversity, variety and great food to try from fresh Bagels from the Jewish Bakery, outstanding Kurdish Flatbreads, seriously pocket friendly Shawarmas and freshly butchered Halal meat and mountains of different fruit and veg from Adam's all served with a smile and some genuinely good customer service!

We buy this as you get a lovely can to use for a variety of things afterwards

Proper 'soul' food 
Brown the onions and soften the carrot for ten minutes

Add fresh torn basil to give it an Italian flavour

Just use a blender to wizz it all together (make sure you put the blades to the bottom)

Tuck in!
It's a thumbs up from Alf!


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Heaton Perk

So I finished a nicely productive art workshop the other day in Walker, Newcastle then en-route home got lost in deepest Heaton, which in hindsight was a very special thing as I found Heaton Perk, an effortlessly cool café (Yeah, yeah!... i know you all think I exist inside cafés, but they're a great place to get things done!) as I drove past I noticed the logo in the window which is a kind of cheeky remix of Central Perk from love-it-or-hate-it U.S. sitcom Friends, but it works so I popped in and it's uncannily like stepping back into the 50's, it's just the way it is and trust me, it's rather fantastic to say the least, a little shabby chic in part (god! I hate that term!) but it makes the place feel really homely.. again in a 1950's kinda way!

This place offers some tasty looking food, and more essentially fully stocked cabinet of home-made cakes and buns even the legendary Tunnocks Caramel biscuits which in my book is an hands down winner.

On the way out i noticed a rather well stocked classic sweets section with some old school classics which i'd missed on the way in, so i'll definitely be making a return visit here with the family as the meals look very appealing and the coffee was very good plus I really fancy a pack of Refreshers.


Address105 Heaton Park Road
Newcastle upon Tyne

Telephone: 0191 276 2000

Seriously delicious Bakewell Tart

Seems a great place to catch up on some work!

Cakes & buns
A mans best friend!!! 

I had a slab of Bakewell Tart and a flat white, even the crockery is of a 50's vibe, I even sat at a proper cool formica table and stared for ages at the surrounding in a place which feels like it's a real part of a community, with dead friendly staff

This would be ace place to bring the kids too!


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Quick & cheap super skinny flatbread pizzas

After Pam from Arch Sixteen café on High Level parade in Gateshead told us a great idea about making some healthy pizzas using flatbread from the Coatsworth Rd, we thought me and the boys would rustle up an healthy treat for tea, and decided to pay a visit to Adam's on Coatsworth Road in Bensham, Gateshead (highly recommended you give it a go) Adam's is a world food shop which combines excellent worldwide produce, fruit, vegetables and a really affordable Halal butchers with excellent friendly customer service.

Frankie gives it the thumbs up

Alfie loves Adam's (Coatsworth Road) not sure what's going on with his hair mind!

Alfie's generous tomato flavours 

No sharp tools required

Alfie adds the tomato base

Make it look pretty them whack it in the oven!

Ready to eat

So we got some tomato paste and some Ricotta cheese (in hindsight get mozzarella as Ricotta doesn't melt, even so it still tastes nice!... schoolboy error!) we added some fried chicken cubes and whacked it in the oven for about ten minutes, then added some fresh basil and they tasted deeeeee-licious!

Chicken cubes (lightly fried)
Tomato Puree/paste
Cheese (ie: Mozzarella)
Fresh Basil

As per usual, we let the boys cook there food as we think cookings an excellent life skill to possess. This is a really good teatime meal, and didn't cost the earth, and we got to support an awesome local business in the process. Good times!

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Parkrun - the best father + son bonding sesh EVER!

8am on a literally freezing Saturday morning... 'Who wants to do Parkrun?' The voice in my head does not want to do Parkrun, but my son alfie does so, it's up, kettle and shorts on, quick coffee, fill our water bottle and were off about 300m over the road into the beautiful Saltwell Park.

If you've never done Parkrun it's nothing short of ace! a friendly run around a park of your choice with lovely friendly, people, some are very good runners, some are there for the exercise, me i'm there through pressure from my child (I do love running, but not as much as a continental quilt). Anyway once we're in the park you immediately notice two things !: how stunning this park is and 2: how big the hills are round this part of town (I'm used to Middlesbrough's Albert Park Parkrun, which is superflat)

Don't get me wrong this parkrun is a hard for me as I'm rusty as when it comes to running... but Alfie motivates me round the course often pulling me along, then usually legs it towards the end, but it's a lovely hour to spend together with your kids, getting fit, and having a laugh and setting a good example, and the feeling at the end after the final push feels incredible as the blood fly around your body, setting you up in the best way possible for a great Saturday, best of all it's free (if you do go, consider volunteering every now and again, as they alway need volunteers!)

Note: The photos are a mix of this and last weeks run.

Waiting to start!

It's Freeeeeeeezing! 
Get ya fleece on!
Finally finished!

Don't forget your water!


Thursday, 3 November 2016

Home Made Pasta is the best!!!

So this week our good bud Pam at the most excellent Arch Sixteen café next to the High Level Bridge in Gateshead gave us a pasta maker and recommended we make our own pasta, which we've never done before, so off we went to the supermarket to get some flour and then down to Adam's on Coatsworth Road in Bensham for some mince, tomatoes etc. (If you've never been to Adam's get on the 53/54 bus and stock up on lovely goods for you larder and experience lovely worldwide vibes and customer service at it's finest). First we made the sauce and as with all Bolognese variations, everyone is different (We'd love to know your recipe in the comments below).

When it comes to ingredients we always try to shop independently and local, unless budget says otherwise, so spend some time getting to know your local shopkeeper, butcher, milkman (or woman), fruitshop dude, you'll end up with a friend for life!

This tasted extraordinary, super silky extra tasty and homemade too -  good times!
Ingredients - feeds a hungry family of four

Bolognese Sauce
Olive Oil
1 Onion
Basil (Dry or fresh)
Chopped Tomatoes (We think they're all the same, so just get the cheapest)
Tomato Puree
Salt & ground black pepper
1 tsp of sugar (You can take this out, but it adds a delicious sweetness)

2 cups of '00' flour
2/3 eggs
lukewarm water

Heat the oil in a frying pan type vessel and add the onions and garlic continuously moving 'til browned (this adds some nice flavour), then add the mince and keep it moving, when it all looks cooked add a little salt & pepper and one or two cans of chopped tomatoes, and splodge of tomato puree and a sprinkle of dry basil (if you add fresh basil maybe add this later) then slowly cook and add a teaspoon of sugar for that sweetness (you don't have to, but sometimes we do!) leave it on a slow low heat and start to make your fresh pasta

Make a mound of flour like your mixing cement and create a hollow in the middle, crack in two eggs whisk them together and fold in the flour (this is the bit where the egg poured out onto the floor - see photo), when mixed get your hands involved and started to knead the dough til consistent and softened a bit. you can add a little lukewarm water if needs be. Set aside into a bowl in a warm place , cover with a tea towel and go and have a cuppa or something.

then simply feed it into the pasta rollers, into your desired shapes and then boil til cooked (it's much faster than hard packaged pasta, so be aware!) then simply fold into the bolognese mix and reheat and serve.

Our pasta tasted nothing short of mind-blowing, a kinda of silky, smooth taste on the pasta mixed with the sweetness of the bolognese, usually our house is proper noisy but all you could hear was cutlery and people enjoying pasta as it should be, slurped straight off a fork. This has to be a PagePosse ten out of ten.

As ever in the Page Palace (it's actually a small terrace!) we let our kids cook, prep and experiment with food as it's a lifelong skill and utilise all the tools within the kitchen safely and under a cautious supervision - we recommend you do too!

As ever we make sure the kids are in charge, but safe and sound

This bit is sooo good!

Adding the tomatoes

We just used supermarket eggs but the free-er range the better

Pasta is like making cement, make a well drop in the eggs and mix away!

Dad drops everything by accident... doh!

Expect to get messy

Alf loves it

Frank Loves it

Frank's in deep concentration

Alf getting his pasta buzz on!

You need to get '00' grade flour for pasta - this is real important


Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Start your day at The McCrouzer Café

It's Monday, at the end of October, the sunlight is nothing short of fantastic, it's warm and the parcel man is unnaturally keen turning up at 9.00am, and i'm hungry... So I'm having a treat at the McCrouzer Café in Sandyford, Newcastle.

The McCrouzer's Bacon, Sausage and poached egg on fresh bread is the stuff of legend, alongside a flat white and watching the world go by (I know you think I should get a job, but I'm happy, OK!). But it's not to be as Dave & Dom's oven is kaputt, so Dave sidekicks his way out of a predicament and think's out of the box and makes it in his toasty machine instead and it was superb! and it only cost £5.60 in total: sandwich (£3.50) and the coffee (£2.10)... good times!

Toasted Bacon, Sausage & Poached Egg 

Hotdesking in the therapeutic autumnal sunlight

The McCrouzer opened in September 2015 long before I arrived in the 'Toon... I found the McCrouzer by accident while 'on the mooch' on my pushbike when I first arrived in Newcastle, helping my wife find her university campus. It's a understated but nice corner cafe in a quite residential estate not far from the university campus. The service is very welcoming, and the light in the café is rather nice on an Autumn morning.

One thing I always notice when I sit in the café is the music is always well selected, the perfect accompaniment to your food & drink!

I'd seriously recommend you find this spot, and go early doors while the students are still in bed, and get breakfast or go wild and get something else but it's a really good way to start the day, and see another often 'passed-by' part of the city.

McCrouzer Café: 11-15 Starbeck Avenue, NE2 1RH • 07549 051 040

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