Thursday, 27 December 2018

Twixmas food fix

Happy Christmas to all our customers, we hope it was a good one…

Now we’re in the weird ‘no man’s land’ between Christmas and New Year. For some people it’s still ongoing celebrations and family get togethers, others are back at work. Some are hitting the sales in hope of a bargain and others are already taking their decorations down with a feeling Christmas has been and gone.

Whatever camp you’re in, the likelihood is you’ve felt the need for an expanding waistband over the past few days! Apparently the average Brit will have consumed more than 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone – almost three times the standard daily recommendation. Christmas Dinner in its own right doesn’t have to be too calorific, but the chocolate, nuts, crisps, fizz and baileys we tuck into either side of that is. A third of us have had a festive tipple by midday (is it wrong that I think that’s a surprisingly low number?). But don’t worry – apparently you can burn those calories off with an eight-hour run or a 22-hour walk. Easy done!

Further research showed that the nation will consume 308 million slices of turkey and 411 million sprouts. Not forgetting the 205 million slices of Christmas cake and pudding and, of course, the 205 million glasses of champagne. Someone will have a sore head.

But all that excess, lovely though it is, can leave you feeling like you can’t face another heavy dinner, or another buffet. It can be hard to figure out what you fancy! Well why not leave that to us?

Hunters is open every day from 27th December, other than New Year’s Day and 2nd January and we’re happy to help you find something to tickle your tastebuds. Perhaps a flavoursome curry or stir fry to use up some of that leftover turkey? Maybe you want to avoid the kitchen all together after slaving over a hot stove on Christmas Day – well our delicious frozen pies from The Original Baker could be the answer. Simple but delicious and you can choose from favourites such as Steak and Ale or Chicken and Leek. Put together a salad with all your favourites from the deli counter, or how about treating yourself to a nice new pickle or chutney to zhoozh up your salad or leftovers? Soup, jam packed with veg and wholesome ingredients, is always a winner on a cold day and we love The Yorkshire Provinder range.

So, don’t let food disappoint you this Twixmas (yes, that really is the name given to this time of year, and no, it’s not linked to the caramel topped biscuit bar!). Put down the tin of chocolates and come see us for some inspiration!  

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Bring on the Christmas feast!

One of the best things about Christmas is the food and drink.

It’s the one time of the year when to over indulge is expected – and no one bats an eyelid if you’re eating chocolate for breakfast, washed down with a bucks fizz.

Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without turkey and all the trimmings (in fact – make sure you stock up on cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy – you don’t want to forget those all essential elements!). It was actually King Henry VIII who first had turkey for Christmas – up until then it had mainly been boar, goose or even peacock. By 1573 turkey seemed to be a regular on the British Christmas Dinner menu, along with goose – which was still the most popular choice until the Victorian era. But our favourite Christmas bird is certainly a tradition which dates back several centuries. Pigs in blankets…maybe not so much.

Christmas pudding is another Christmas favourite with a long history. Although it started out as more of a soup/porridge with meat and dried fruit, which doesn’t sound like it would go so well with custard. By the 17th century it was looking more like Christmas pud as we know it, and King George I made it an essential part of the Christmas meal. The monarchy were definitely the reality TV stars of their time – whatever they had, everyone else wanted! Maybe we’ll all be eating what Kate and Wills or Harry and Meghan have for Christmas dinner in a few years.

Mince Pies were another Christmas delight which started out containing meat. Originally called Christmas or Shrid Pie, they’re thought to date back to the Crusaders returning from the Middle East in the 13th Century. For many, they’re symbolic, with the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg representing the gifts given to Jesus by the three Kings. There’s also all kinds of myths and superstitions around them – from making a wish when you eat your first one of the year (bit late for that…) and it being illegal to eat them on Christmas Day. Which it isn’t. Although it might have been during the time of Oliver Cromwell who banned them.

Thankfully completely suitable for vegetarians, the Christmas Pudding we’re loving this year is Cole's classic pudding with ale. And for Mince Pies, you need to give Lottie Shaw's Sloe Gin mince pies a try.

One Christmas Dish which we don’t really see any more is the traditional Yorkshire Pie, dating back to the 18th century. You’d have to like meat for this one – it’s filled with a whole goose, a turkey, a fowl, a partridge, a pigeon, a hare, game, and any other meat you had to hand, mixed with mace, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, salt and a mountain of butter. Sounds a bit much to be honest – and the pastry was never meant to be eaten, what a waste! So, if you love a savoury pie (who doesn’t) we’d recommend instead the pork, apples and black pudding lattice pie.

Whatever your Christmas traditions and feasts involve, we’re here to help, and we like to think we cover most bases with everything we have in store – it’s full to burst with festive treats. Except for a meat-based Christmas pudding – if that’s your thing, you might have to make your own…

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Enjoy the festive fun in Helmsley

Christmas is coming! Despite how some of us might be in denial, it’s less than four weeks now until the big day…

This weekend sees the annual Small Business Saturday celebrations in Helmsley to kick start the town’s festivities.

On Saturday 1st December a day of festive fun is planned which will offer something for the whole family. A huge snow globe you can climb inside, perfect for the selfie taker amongst you. The giant Nutcracker Trail, with 6.5ft nutcrackers hiding around Helmsley. Music, entertainers and rides – everyone loves a bouncy castle! There’s a dog fancy dress competition and the best dressed two or three wheels for the kids. If you want to leave having learnt some new skills Helmsley Walled Garden is holding wreath making workshops and the very talented Rhian at Celebrate Country Cake Design is holding a sugar craft demonstration. Teams from the Fire Brigade, Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Mountain Rescue will be there to chat to visitors – and the big man in red will of course be there in his grotto.

We love to get involved. We’re offering some delicious in-store tastings from some fantastic local suppliers. There’ll be Albion Artisan handmade pate, which is made in Epworth, Doncaster, Hooting Owl Distillery-Gin from Barmby Moor, and Three Girls Orchard Apple Juice which is made in our very own Helmsley. We do hope you’ll come along and have a try!

Small Business Saturday is a great idea to celebrate the wonderful independent businesses out there – of which there are dozens in Helmsley. It’s a great opportunity for the local community and visitors from further afield to come and join in the fun and games while doing a spot of Christmas shopping. We, and our retailing neighbours, have lots of fantastic and unique ideas for gifts, and ways to make your Christmas extra magical this year. By shopping local you’re helping to keep the high street alive and keeping money and jobs in the local economy. And you get great customer service and fantastic, hand-picked products. Win-win!

The festivities don’t end on Saturday – Helmsley’s annual Christmas Tree Festival continues on until 16th December, open daily from 10am to 4pm. There’s 26 trees, all individually decorated to the theme of “The best of Helmsley” by organisations and businesses in the town. We have one – see if you can spot it! And although our giant nutcrackers can only be in town for the day, there is a miniature nutcracker trail taking place until 16th too. There’s approximately 30 mini nutcrackers (the soldier kind, not the walnut cracking variety) hiding in shops around town. Pick up a trail from Helmsley Traditional Sweet Shop and see if you can find them for your chance to win a prize!

So, we look forward to seeing lots of our regulars and meeting some new faces over the next few weeks – bring on the celebrations!

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Nothing bundt the best at Hunters…

You may remember that back in September we announced a partnership with the wonderful Bakehouse in the Barn.

The very talented (and award-winning) Sophie Smith whipped up a storm with her pecan, date and banana muffins, which flew off the shelf here in store, but were also a huge hit in terms of getting people in their kitchen to give baking them a go themselves.

The aim of the partnership is to create seasonal products using local ingredients, with the finished bake, made by Sophie’s own hand, sold exclusively in our deli - but with the recipe available to anyone who wants to have a try. We’ve kept them simple (but utterly delicious) so anyone can give them a go – children, grown ups, those who shy away from baking in any way – you don’t have to be Mary Berry to give them a whirl. And you can always come and talk to Sophie when she’s in store, if yours don’t turn out quite the way hers did. But, if you really don’t fancy donning a pinny, come in store and treat yourself – Sophie’s always turn out perfect every time!

So, excitingly, Sophie has developed her second recipe for us – which we’re delighted to say has a definite seasonal appeal! Welcome to the festive Cranberry and Orange Bundt – a delicious Christmas treat, which is suitable for vegans and those with a dairy intolerance.

Using locally-produced Yorkshire rapeseed oil as the fat and a plant-based milk (Sophie recommends almond but you might have a personal favourite), the cakes make a light and fruity treat jam-packed with seasonal flavours. Just the smell of these takes you straight to Christmas – if you had these baking in the oven your whole house would smell like Mrs Claus’ kitchen! 

The cakes can be bought in store for £1.85 until the end of December, but you’re welcome to whip up a batch to try with your family and friends – we have copies of the recipe in store as well as below.

Happy baking – and eating!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Rise to the occasion

15th to 21st October marked National Baking Week. We have to agree with the timing on that, there’s something about October and November that makes you want to head to the kitchen and whip up some nice comforting cakes, pies and crumbles. Although we’re pretty happy to eat any of those at any time of the year, to be honest.

Perhaps that’s why the Great British Bake Off hits our screens this time of year too? Watching it certainly helps build up an appetite – although it might be just as likely to put us off baking for ourselves given the pressure of trying to create a showstopper we’ve never even heard of in a few short hours (korovai anyone?)

Last year, The Grocer reported that the number of households buying home baking products during Great British Bake Off season jumped by more than 1.1 million (almost 10%) - the sharpest spike of recent years. Its research also showed that the proportion of Brits baking on a weekly basis had risen (excuse the pun) to 34% who were donning their apron at least once a week. One in 10 women say the show inspires them to bake – especially those aged 25 to 34.

However, other research from Statista shows 48% of the population never ever bake at home from scratch – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea of course. Although enjoying a slice of something freshly baked with a cup of tea is, usually.

The research revealed our favourite bake to be – unsurprisingly – is cakes (75%), followed by cupcakes (39%), biscuits (37%), pies (33%) and then bread (29%). It seems those bread makers everyone had on their kitchen worktops a couple of decades ago may now mainly be gathering dust…

Baking as a family is something many of us will have warm memories of – whether it was our grandma teaching us how to make scones, or parents passing down a family recipe. Cooking is a great thing to do with kids – a bit of maths, a bit of science, a lot of fun – and potentially a good way to get them to try new things. But it’s not just for kids. How long is it since you’ve tried your hand at making a cake, or have you been tempted to use the delicious fruit falling from the trees at the moment to make a pie or tart? Why not call in and see us for all the ingredients you might need? And if you have any dietary requirements to work around (even Bake Off had a dairy-free vegan week this year), we can help with that too. We have the best quality ingredients we’ve tried and tested ourselves, so we know you’ll get the best results. From using Yorkshire Rapeseed oil instead of butter, to coconut flour instead of the run of the mill kind (geddit?) we can help recommend our favourite swaps.

Of course, we all have our strengths and weaknesses – and not everyone is a gifted baker. Have no fear, there’s no need for you to miss out on handmade goodies – we have plenty in store! We currently have the rather wonderful partnership with Bakehouse in the Barn, and there’s a new recipe about to hit the shop – watch this space…

So, whether you’re the baker, or the enjoyer of someone else’s baked goods, it all sounds pretty tasty to us!

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Saying the right thing

Another day, another food story which caught our eye.

Apparently many of us are struggling to pronounce some of our favourite foods. And we’re not talking about scone. We all know how that should be said!

According to a new study, some of us are getting it so wrong, we’re being served the wrong things when we’re trying to buy food in shops or restaurants – although we’re struggling to think of another word that even sounds like mispronounced quinoa, if we’re being honest. But that said, it seems one in five people have been served something totally different to what they wanted because their mispronunciation got confused for something else.

The research by French bakery brand Brioche Pasquier found that actually, brioche was a word a third of us struggled with. Other words we weren’t sure how to say included tzatziki, camembert, chorizo, quesadillas, salad Niçoise, Jalapeño, macaron, soufflé and fajitas. Quite a tongue twister if you try to say them all together! One in 10 of us has no idea how to say chipotle.

Even more understandable perhaps is that we’re hesitating over words such as Vichyssoise, bouillabaisse and bourguignon. Like anything language wise, it’s often a case of practice makes perfect, and depending on the kinds of food you like to eat, they may not be words you’d need to attempt daily, weekly or even annually!

Apparently we’re twice as likely to have a go at pronouncing a word we’re unsure about than to admit we don’t know how to say it.

It got us thinking, we hope people don’t get off put asking for something they want to try because they’re not sure how to say it. It seems a third of the population has struggled to complete a food order because they couldn’t figure out how to communicate their choice. Whether you give it a go and get it wrong, or ask how to say it, there’s no embarrassment!

We’d hope at Hunters that our staff were always approachable enough to ask – in fact we can probably have a giggle together over some of the trickier words! We all have something we struggle to say and sometimes it’s not even a word that seems very complicated to anyone else!

So, don’t be shy…if there’s something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too nervous to ask for it – come and chat to us. No one should miss out on good food (or drink) because it’s too tricky for most of us to say!

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Banish lunchtime boredom and say farewell to food envy!

Have you got ‘déjà-food’?

If you have, you’re not alone. According to new research from The New York Bakery Co, one in three Brits face ‘déjà-food’ on a daily basis by eating the same lunch on repeat.

It’s probably something we’re all a little bit guilty of – grabbing something quick or easy or falling back on old favourites. And there’s nothing wrong with that sometimes – but isn’t it good to mix things up from time to time? The research revealed that 80 per cent of us are bored by our lunchtime choices and one in 10 went so far as to say a bad lunch ruined their day. A tad dramatic maybe, but as food lovers we can sympathise.

Food envy was something the research covered and half of us admitted to suffering from the green-eyed monster. Seeing Susan from accounts tucking into last night’s leftover paella, suddenly your limp salad seems a bit dull. Not that we don’t like a salad, we love them – but you know the kind we mean, all soggy lettuce and no substance.

12.55pm is the time we’re all tucking in. There’s nothing worse than eating your lunch at 11.30am and then realising by 2pm that you’re ravenous again. Apparently three quarters of people take their lunch to work from home. Does that include people who work from home? And one in five admit to munching their lunch at their desks every day – which EVERYONE agrees is never a good idea. You’re never going to enjoy your lunch if you’re eating it one-handed whilst emailing your boss (or even surfing social media). Good food deserves your full attention. Sixty one per cent confessed to skipping lunch on a regular basis because they were too busy, which just makes us sad.

The research even revealed the favourite lunches from different cities around the UK. Who ate all the pies? Leeds apparently.
·        Manchester – just love a jacket potato
·        Leeds – pick up a pie (5 times a month)
·        Birmingham – bound to want burgers
·        London – love last night’s leftovers
·        Nottingham – so into sandwiches
·        Edinburgh – scoff sushi
·        Belfast – perfect lunch = pizzas
·        Cambridge – prefer paninis
·        Liverpool – have a passion for pasta

Helmsley didn’t feature in the list (how rude!). But if it did, we know exactly what would take top spot for lunchtime. Roast Beef and Horseradish deep filled sandwich on brown. Closely followed by our home roasted ham with salad on white. They’ve been our best sellers ever since we can remember. Closely followed by pies, sausage rolls and pasties. And rice and pasta and salads. Or soups. In fact, if you come to Hunters, there’s no need to have the same lunch two days in a month! ‘Déjà-food’? I don’t think so!