Hot Chocolate Recipes for a Lazy Sunday

October 12th, 2014
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As the nights draw in and the temperatures begin to dip, one of my favourite Sunday evening activities is to curl up on the sofa with a hot beverage and a film. Normally, I’d go for a classic brew but when the weather takes a turn for the worse, there’s nothing better than an indulgent hot chocolate to warm you up! So in honour of these chocolatey delights, we’ve found some of the most unusual and mouth-watering hot chocolate recipes out there to feature on today’s blog. Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (serves one)

Recipe via Nigella.com

Salted caramel hot chocolate

Via Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp salted caramel sauce (see here for recipe)
  • 250ml full fat milk
  • 50g finely chopped dark chocolate
  • Squirty cream to serve

Method:

  1. Pour milk, chocolate and salted caramel sauce into a saucepan and cook over medium heat.
  2. Stir until chocolate is melted and the liquid is rich.
  3. Pour into mug. Top with squirty cream and drizzle salted caramel sauce over the top.

 

Baileys Hot Chocolate (serves one)

Baileys Hot Chocolate

Via Flickr

Recipe via Londoncocktailscholars.co.uk

Ingredients:

  • 300ml milk
  • 50ml Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1 heaped tbsp hot chocolate powder

Method:

  1. Pour the milk and hot chocolate powder into a pan and leave on medium-high heat.
  2. Stir continuously for 3-4 minutes until there are no lumps and the mixture has started to thicken. Do not let the mixture boil.
  3. Take off the heat and stir for 15 seconds.
  4. Pour the Baileys into a glass, then add the hot chocolate mixture and give it a stir.
  5. Top with cocoa powder or flaked chocolate.
  6. You can also try this recipe with flavoured Baileys – how about trying with Baileys Orange Truffle?

 

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate (serves one)

Recipe via Agirlcalledjack.com

Peanut butter hot chocolate

Via Flickr

Ingredients:

  • 150ml milk
  • 50ml water
  • 3 squares of either milk or dark chocolate
  • 1 heaped tbsp of smooth peanut butter

Method:

  1. Pour water, chocolate squares and peanut butter into a pan on medium heat.
  2. Stir well until chocolate and peanut butter have melted and formed a sticky paste.
  3. Add a splash of milk and stir in. Repeat with a larger splash. Then add the rest.
  4. Serve in mug.

If you do try out one of these recipes then let us know how you get on; we’d love to hear your thoughts! If you have any other delicious hot chocolate recipes that you’d like to share with us then please get in touch via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

The UK’s Pet Friendly Pubs

October 11th, 2014
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For many of us, considering a holiday without our four-legged friend is not an option. There is an ample choice of pet-friendly accommodation on offer, but I find myself thinking is that enough? A comfy bed for the night and a garden to run around in provide a great starting point for a dog friendly holiday, but our canine chums need more!

Along with great walks and other dogs to interact with, our pups need somewhere safe and warm for a break from the day’s activities. To give your dog a rest and to experience the regional delicacies why not try a local pub? Sites like Doggie Pubs and Pet Friendly Britain give great suggestions for pet friendly pubs throughout the United Kingdom and, after searching both sites, we’ve put together a selection of three pet friendly pubs which are a must.

The Ship Inn in Irvine, Scotland

Dogs playing on Irvine beach - image via Flickr.

Dogs playing on Irvine beach – image via Flickr.

Built in 1567, The Ship Inn is the oldest pub in Irvine. Obtaining its license in 1754, the pub still retains its heritage, with traditional folk music and seasonal fish dishes. In August last year, the pub updated its status to ‘Dog Friendly’ and they haven’t looked back since. Now you can treat yourself and the pup to a well-deserved drink and a slap up meal after an exhilarating walk along the shores of Irvine beach, which happens to be dog friendly too!

The White Eagle in Rhoscolyn, Anglesey

Dog walking the Anglesey Coastal Path - image via Flickr.

Dog walking the Anglesey Coastal Path – image via Flickr.

After undergoing a complete rebuild in 2007, The White Eagle is now a favourite stopping point along the Anglesey Coast Path, attracting tourists and locals alike with amazing food and fantastic views. The warm Welsh welcome offered by staff and the comfortable atmosphere makes this pub the ideal stop off for you and your dog. With dogs welcome in the sung area of the bar, you can chow down on great food as your four-legged-friend is treated to a biscuit or two.

The Treguth Inn in Holywell, Cornwall

Holywell Bay - image via Flickr.

Holywell Bay – image via Flickr.

When we think of Cornwall we picture rolling green hills, beautiful sandy beaches and peaceful villages filled with thatched cottages. The Treguth Inn matches our vision of Cornwall perfectly; full of character and charm, Treguth Inn is located in the attractive village of Holywell just back from the picturesque beach at Holywell Bay. Here the friendly proprietors offer home cooked food which has been prepared with locally sourced ingredients, award winning cask ales and even complimentary biscuits for the pooch – perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

We hope that this selection of pubs has shown you that the UK is a fantastic destination for doggy holidays and that there is no need to leave your furry pal behind. For assistance with planning your next dog friendly getaway please feel free to contact us or browse our selection of pet friendly cottages for inspiration.

nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Properties with Delightful Dining Rooms

October 10th, 2014
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As you may have noticed, this week on the Sykes Cottages blog we’ve been getting a little gastronomic. We’ve been talking about the best places to go out to eat, the best local food to cook and we have a seriously indulgent recipe post coming up for you on Sunday (spoiler: it involves hot chocolate!) Once you’ve made or purchased all of this delicious food you need somewhere to eat it, which is why we’re putting the spotlight on some of the most delightful dining rooms that our properties have to offer. Whether you want enough table space for 20 guests to dine in comfort, or just a cosy corner where two can enjoy a romantic meal, with over 5,000 properties we have every style of dining area you can imagine at Sykes Cottages. Here are just a few of them.

The Hall, Northumbria

The Hall

Property reference 903958

This ornate dining room seats twenty four people comfortably and boasts both an open fire place and lovely views over the lake and the property’s grounds.

Beckside Barn, The Lake District

Beckside Barn

Property reference 914337

The dining room in Beckside Barn is beautifully decorated in a modern style which provides diners with a bright and airy feel. The room also opens out to a secluded patio area, providing the ideal location for after dinner drinks.

The Gaolhouse, East Anglia

The Gaolhouse

Property reference 4496

This unique property in East Anglia holds many original features including a dungeon! It also has a fantastic dining room with brickwork and beams to add character and patio doors adding a touch of brightness to this lovely dining area.

Three Peaks Barn, Yorkshire Dales

Property reference 10024

Property reference 10024

This lovely dining area nestles perfectly in the midst of the open plan living area. The dining space is comfortably modern, yet beams and bricks keep the character of the property.

Abbey Dore Court, Heart of England

Property reference 10024

Property reference 10024

Nestled in the kitchen area is one of Abbey Dore Court’s dining areas. The modern appliances mix with the kitsch traditional elements making this dining area the perfect place to enjoy brunch or an afternoon snack.

For more dining inspiration, take a look at our delightful dining pinterest board.

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Sykes’ Food Tour of Britain

October 9th, 2014
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If you’ve tuned into the Sykes’ blog this week you might have noticed there’s been a foodie theme going on. Well today isn’t any different as we’re heading out on a tour around the UK looking at some of the best regional foods going, from the classic Cornish Pasty through to the Welsh favourite, Bara Brith.

Melton Mowbray Pork Pie

pork pie

via Flickr

Where else could we start but with the classic picnic food, the pork pie. We’re not talking about any old pie, instead we’re going to be looking at the king of the range, the Melton Mowbray. These pies are one of a handful of foods protected by Protected Geographical Indication, meaning they can only be called Melton Mowbrays if they’re made within a specific area using traditional techniques. One key difference between a Melton and your standard pie is that they use fresh rather than cured meat, giving them their distinctive flavour.

Cornish Pasty

cornish pasty

via Flickr

Next we’re going to be taking a trip down to the south-west for the old favourite, the Cornish Pasty. Originally a luxury meal for the rich, the pasty became a staple food amongst Cornish tin miners during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and has since become one of the nation’s favourites. A good pasty should be full to the brim with a mix of beef mince, swede, carrot and onion and should have a peppery kick to finish.

Cheddar Cheese

via. Flickr

via Flickr

We’re sticking in the south west for this one too as we look at Britain’s most loved cheese. Apparently, over half the cheese produced in this country is a variation of cheddar, but can only be called West Country Farmhouse Cheddar if it’s produced in one of the four West Country counties using locally produced milk. One of the reasons cheddar is so popular is its versatility; no matter how you serve it up, whether it’s part of a classic ploughman’s lunch, melted on toast or simply with a couple of crackers, it’s absolutely delicious!

Bara Brith

bara brith

via Flickr

Next up is a Welsh classic, Bara Brith. Translated into English, Bara Brith means Speckled Bread, however there’s some dispute as to whether it’s actually a cake – no matter what it is, we think it’s delicious! Traditionally it would have been a hodge podge mix made from left over bread dough with some fruit and cooked in the embers of the weekly bake. Nowadays, it’s flavoured with tea and basted generously with honey giving it it’s lovely flavour.

Shortbread

via Flickr

via Flickr

Finally, we’re heading north of the border and to the home of shortbread. A traditional Scottish biscuit made with just flour, sugar and butter, shortbread is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea. The Scots have been making this tasty treat since the 12th century, but it’s Mary Queen of Scots who is credited with refining the recipe to one we all know and love today. A good shortbread should have a light buttery flavour and be crisp yet crumbly when you bite into it.

So there we go, Sykes’ food tour of Britain. Hopefully you enjoyed having a read of it and like our choices, but if there’s anything you think should have been included then let us know, either over Facebook or on Twitter, and we’ll do our best to get it in next time!

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Bake like Berry: Britain’s Best Regional Recipes

October 8th, 2014
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You need only glance at The Great British Bake Off hashtag to realise this humble baking competition – once the darling of BBC2’s off-peak schedule – has become a goliath of modern broadcasting. Though I wouldn’t normally spend my evenings watching Paul Hollywood and Mary B munch through soggy FANCY-00038335-001patisserie whilst monitoring #GBBO, both peer pressure and curiosity have led me to become a regular viewer of the show.

Upon reflection of GBBO’s meteoric rise to the top of TV rankings, I’ve come up with just one answer to its popularity: Brits love baking. Cakes, pretzels, rye bread, religieuse, povitica, fruity Swedish tea rings – we’ll bake the lot, and eat it too. With this in mind, we’ve come up with a list of regional bakes that will tantalise those tastebuds; just beware the soggy bottom, ensure your whites are perfectly stiff and remember, it’s all in the wrist action.

Yorkshire Parkin

With Bonfire night on the horizon, we think it’s time everyone baked up a batch of the classic Yorkshire pud, Parkin. Tradition tells that Parkin was eaten on Guy Fawke’s night, though we’re sure you won’t be hung, drawn and quartered for enjoying some at other times of year. Both spicy, moist and hearty, Parkin is the ultimate autumn comfort food. Here’s how it’s made.

Via Flickr

Via Flickr

Ingredients

110g soft butter

110g soft dark brown sugar

55g black treacle

200g golden syrup

225g medium oatmeal

110g self-raising flour

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground mixed spice

2 medium eggs, beaten

1 tbsp milk

Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 140C/120C fan/ Gas Mark 1. Grease and line a square cake tin.
  2. Melt the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup over a gentle heat, ensuring the mixture doesn’t bubble. Once melted together, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the melted butter mixture and fold. Pour in the beaten eggs, milk and combine.
  4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 ½ hours, checking it regularly to ensure it isn’t over baked.
  5. Leave the parkin in the tin to cool for around twenty minutes, before transferring to a cake rack to cool completely.
  6. Wrap the parkin in greaseproof paper and wait a minimum of 1 week before consuming. This will help develop the sticky texture and give it an intense, rich flavour.

Welsh Cakes

Or pice ear y maen, are a timeless teatime treat whose recipe has spanned generations. Simple to make yet delicious to eat, Welsh cakes are the perfect pudding to make with your little bakers. These rounds of delight should take under twenty minutes to make, so they’re great for those who want to get their bake on without clearing their schedule.

Ingredients

225g plain flour

85g caster sugar

½ tsp mixed spice

½ tsp baking powder

50g butter, chopped into pieces

50g lard, chopped into small pieces

50g currants

1 egg, beaten

Splash of milk

Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Put the flour, mixed spice, sugar and salt into a bowl. With your fingers, rub in the butter and lard until crumbly. Add the currants before working the egg into the mixture to form a soft dough. If the mixture feels too dry, add a splash of milk.
  2. Roll the dough on a floured surface to the thickness of your finger and cut rounds using a 6cm cutter. Add a small amount of lard to a heavy frying or griddle pan and cook batches of the cakes over a medium heat for 3 minutes on each side.
  3. Serve warm with butter and jam, or sprinkle with caster sugar for a sweet treat.

Cornish Pasty

How many Cornish pasties have you eaten in your lifetime? If the answer’s none, shame on you. Personally, I can’t get enough of these pastry crescent moons, though I should start watching the waistband. If you want to know how to make Britain’s oldest and best pastry-clad lunch, follow these simple steps.

Cornish Pasty – Via Flickr

Cornish Pasty – Via Flickr

Ingredients (Makes 4 pasties)

For the pastry

125g chilled and chopped butter

500g plain flour, plus extra for rolling

1 egg, beaten

For the filling

350g chuck steak, chopped finely

1 large onion, chopped finely

2 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

175g swedes, peeled and finely diced

1 tbsp ground black pepper

Method

  1. Combine the butter, lard and flour using your fingertips or a food processor, adding a pinch of salt. Add 6 tbsp of cold water to make a dough. Cut into 4 equal parts, and chill for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Mix the filling ingredients with a pinch or two of salt to taste and set aside.
  3. Roll out the pieces of dough on a floured surface until you have 4 rounds that are just over 20cm in diameter. Use a plate to cut to a circular shape.
  4. Pack a quarter of the filling along the centre of each round, ensuring to leave space at the ends. Brush the dough with beaten egg before drawing up both sides so they meet at the top. Pinch together to seal.
  5. Lift each pasty onto a non-stick tray and brush with the remaining egg glaze. Bake for 10 minutes, before lowering the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas4 and baking for a further 45 minutes until golden. Delicious served warm.

Scotch Shortbread

When I was a nipper, my grandparents would always bring me a tartan tin of Scotch shortbread from their travels north of the border, and it was delicious. Thankfully, the Scots don’t seem to mind sharing their recipe with the rest of us, so why not bake a batch of these wonderful bikkies yourself. Here’s how.

Scotch Shortbread – Via Flickr

Scotch Shortbread – Via Flickr

Ingredients

125g butter

55g caster sugar

180g plain flour

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and flour together to form a smooth paste.
  3. Turn the mixture onto a surface and roll until 1cm thick.
  4. Cut into fingers or small rounds and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle with caster sugar and chill for 20 minutes.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-20. Set aside to cool.

Get your bake on in a Sykes holiday home

We can’t give you Berry and Hollywood, but we can give you cottages. Thanks to their charming country kitchens and wonderful dining areas, our self-catering holiday homes provide the perfect place to get your bake on and unwind. So Britain, let’s get baking.

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.