Thursday, 6 September 2018

Move over Paul and Prue – there’s a new baking partnership in town!

Anyone who knows us knows we love nothing more than collaborating with other local businesses. Whether it’s through the wonderful Helmsley in Business Group, working with bakers and cider makers to create THE best pie available or partnering with ice cream aficionados and Sloe Gin specialists to sell the most mouth-watering soft serve in the North, we know we have some of the best food available on our doorstep and we want to celebrate it.

Selling exclusive products made by talented local businesses using local Yorkshire Ingredients? It’s what makes us Hunters.

So, we are delighted to announce that there’s an exciting new partnership between Hunters of Helmsley and Bakehouse in the Barn which will see us creating seasonal products using local ingredients, to be sold exclusively in our deli. We’ll also be giving our customers the recipe so they can try a spot of baking for themselves!

Bakehouse in the Barn, which is based in Hovingham, launched earlier this year to great acclaim, with award-winning baker Sophie Smith at the helm. Some of our regular customers might recognize Sophie, as she sometimes works with us in store.

The first item created specially by Sophie for Hunters is Pecan, Date and Banana Muffins, made with Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil from Thixendale. The bright yellow flowered rapeseed, highly visible across the region, is usually harvested around August and September in the Wolds. We’re going to be selling the muffins throughout September and October.

These lovely autumnal muffins are absolutely delicious – anyone who knows Bakehouse in the Barn and Sophie will know what a talented baker she is. They are dairy-free, making them suitable for those with a dairy allergy or vegans, and they are also free from refined sugar.

We asked Sophie what made her want to get involved: “It’s always a pleasure to work with Christine at Hunters, and I know they feel as passionately as I do about using wholesome and local ingredients where possible. These muffins are incredibly moist and moreish, with the lovely autumn flavours of dates and spices, but without being tooth-achingly sweet. It’s nice to be able to enjoy a cake without feeling like you’re being really naughty! The Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil is an excellent alternative to butter to make the muffins dairy-free, making them suitable for even more people to enjoy.”

Jennie Palmer at Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil added: “It’s always great to see our product being used in a wide variety of ways. People aren’t always aware of the multitude of delicious uses rapeseed oil has – and these muffins are some of the best we’ve tried! We were delighted when Hunters of Helmsley and Bakehouse in the Barn got in touch, as it’s always great to work with other local businesses to support each other. There’s so much great food in Yorkshire, and we’re always happy to be championing it!”

We’ll be introducing a new product every couple of months, with new local ingredients, so there will be lots of lovely new things to try over the coming year. Apparently Sophie is already thinking about the next idea – perhaps something festive for the run up to the Christmas season. Watch this space!

Recipe: Pecan, date and banana muffins
200g pitted dates
80g toasted, chopped pecan nuts, plus extra for topping
60g Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil
200ml water
200g very ripe bananas (3-4, depending on size)
100ml almond milk, unsweetened
2 tsp lemon juice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
130g wholemeal plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp honey

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases.
In a saucepan, cover the dates with the water and bring to the boil. Simmer until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat. Add the bicarbonate of soda; the mixture will froth as you stir it in.
In a separate bowl, mash the banana. Add the honey, oil, almond milk and eggs. Whisk to combine.
Pour the sludgy date mixture into the banana bowl. Sieve in the flour, spice and baking powder, add the nuts. Mix well.
Divide the batter between the muffin cases. Scatter the remaining pecans over the top of the muffins.
Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown and springy on top.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Get your bake on!

The Great British Bake Off is (nearly) back!

Tuesday August 28th is B-Day – 8pm. Put it in your diary!

There was a lot of chat before last year’s series about how it would fare on Channel 4, with the loss of the hilarious Mel and Sue, and of course the baker supreme that is Mary Berry.

But much to our surprise, we all loved it. Despite the annoying adverts. At least they gave you time to grab a cuppa and a biscuit to stave off the rumbling stomach brought on by looking at cakes and pastries for an hour.

There’s nothing like the Bake Off to get people talking – kids, parents, grandparents – a love of baking surpasses all genders and ages. Even if we’re no good at it, we can still appreciate when other people are. And who doesn’t love a great cake – from both a visual and gustatory perspective. We love the adverts for the GBBO, with Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” accompanying a series of sorry looking bakes, which slowly change into an absolute masterpiece. Maybe the message is practice makes perfect and encouraging us all to don an apron and give it a go.

A recent report from social media experts Immediate Future, revealed that last year there were over 941,000 mentions of Bake Off just on Twitter alone, not even taking into account the other social media channels. People love to chat about the good and the bad, picking things up through the show, but also carrying on the conversation through the week – and throughout the entire series. In fact, the report demonstrated that the programme drives many wider conversations about baking and cooking all the way through until Christmas. 

We’re pretty sure that most offices experience an increase in home-made baking brought in during the series’ duration, as people are encouraged to dust off their mixing bowl and sieve and give baking a whirl. How hard can it be? Well, pretty hard if you’re looking at a technical challenge from Paul or a showstopper from Prue, but of course there’s no one timing you or insisting you don’t refer to a recipe in your kitchen. Unless it adds to the fun for you!

So, if the new series inspires you to give baking a go, come in and see us for some great ingredients to help make your own great signature bake. And if your baking is more about the taste than pristine appearance, we have some great decorations to add that finishing touch!

If you’re really more about the eating than the producing – never fear. We’ve got plenty of cakes, bakes, biscuits and pastries to keep you happy too. After all, an appreciation of baking has to work from both sides!

Saturday, 18 August 2018

The last supper – what would you choose?

Some research caught our eye the other week about people’s ultimate ‘last supper’ meal.

We’ve certainly had this conversation many a time on long car journeys – if you were to know you had one meal left (or were to dine on just one meal for the rest of your life) – what would it be? Add in a starter, a dessert and drinks, possibly even create a whole day’s menu, and you’ve got yourself decision making and conversation to last from Helmsley to at least the Scottish border.

Anyway, in a poll of 2,000 people conducted by a company called wishLockr, the humble Sunday roast was named as Brits' ideal last supper. It’s a good call – it’s hard to beat a great roast with all the trimmings!

To be honest, everyone was playing it pretty safe with the top 10 choices with steak, fish and chips, a full English Breakfast and lasagne all scoring highly. No one wants to be counting the calories or worrying about the carb content if you know it’s the last meal you’re going to enjoy. Comfort food is definitely the name of the game it seems.

Takeaways also scored highly – pizza, curry, Chinese, KFC and MacDonalds. For your last ever meal?? I mean everyone likes a takeaway on a lazy Friday evening in front of the TV – but the last thing you ever eat, with money no object? (well if we’re letting our imagination run wild, why would we let bank balances get in the way?!)

In fact, the top 10, in order, were as follows:
1.      A roast dinner with all the trimmings
2.      Steak and chips
3.      Fish and chips
4.      Full English breakfast
5.      Chinese
6.      Pizza
7.      Curry
8.      KFC bucket of chicken
9.      McDonald's
10.   Lasagne

Apparently, and unsurprisingly, the results varied by age, with pizza topping the list for those under 25 and older respondents adding more traditional foods like pie or bangers and mash.

But it got us thinking about what we at Hunters might choose, so we asked the team!

Eliza – her Dad's homemade Moussaka 
Snowy – Steak & chips with mushrooms
Sarah - Italian feast of pasta and pizza
Bridget – Homemade lasagne
Margaret – Beef Bourguignon (don't forget the chilled Sauvignon on the side!)
Sue - Roast goose with all the trimmings

Luckily there’s no one telling us we can only eat one thing for the rest of our lives, so we don’t need to worry! There’s too much great food and drink out there to always have the same. Might go check out our shelves for some inspiration…

Friday, 20 July 2018

Food myths – true or false?

I’m sure we’ve all heard lots of stories about food over the years which just aren’t true. Whether it’s someone telling you shouldn’t eat carbs or the child who thinks an apple tree will grow in their stomach if they swallow a pip, there’s food myths aplenty out there. And although some of them are linked to faddy diets and trends, others tales probably ones you heard as a youngster – and it seems many of us still believe them to this day!

A poll of 2,000 people commissioned by Spatone showed there was all kinds of old wives tales we’re not quite sure whether to buy into or not.

A third of people still believe chewing gum takes seven years to digest (it doesn’t). Also - carrots can’t help you see in the dark, sadly. But they are delicious (especially some of the carrot pickles we sell!), so we’re happy to keep trying.

Other people thought eggs were bad for you, due to high cholesterol – a theory which has been largely debunked in recent years. So, tuck into those boiled eggs and soldiers without worrying about it!

Some of the other false claims that people bought into included the fact skipping meals helps you lose weight, you should never eat after 8pm and that sugar gives you energy – which it may do temporarily, but it certainly isn’t the best way to boost yourself during that mid afternoon slump.

It’s definitely true that the story you read one day can be directly conflicted the next – if you were looking for information on whether a glass of red wine or a cup of coffee is good for you or bad for you, you could almost certainly find people claiming both to be true, with supposed research to back them up.

It can be confusing – so it’s no wonder people aren’t quite sure what to believe any more!

Our philosophy here at Hunters is everything in moderation. As long as you’re not overindulging on a frequent basis a little bit of what you fancy shouldn’t make you feel too guilty. Balance is the key. And often, if you really listen to your body, it tells you what you need. No, I really don’t think it’s saying you should eat that half pound block of cheese on your own, washed down with a bottle of red. Nice try though

Saturday, 7 July 2018

The summer of love…. of good food and drink

Well it’s fair to say, we can’t whinge that we haven’t had a summer this year!

I don’t think anyone can quite remember a length of time when the sun shone so gloriously and for quite so long (apologies if we’ve jinxed it, but let’s face it – it’s got to turn as soon as the school holidays start. Six weeks of rain is every parent’s dream!). Most people agree it was June 1976 when we last had such a prolonged good spell of sunshine – in fact back 42 years ago there were 15 consecutive days when the temperatures hit above 32°c, which we’ve not quite managed yet in 2018.

The good weather combined with some key sporting events means one thing – outstanding food and drink should be on the menu.

It can be hard to think what you really fancy to eat when the temperature is soaring. Come see us and I guarantee we’ll find something which hits the spot!

But beyond that, there are barbecues and picnics taking place up and down the country at a rate unseen for decades. If England in the Quarter Finals and the sun out doesn’t send you straight to the nearest shop for Charcoal, you must be one of those organised types who already has a supply in. If you are cooking up a feast on the grills, then we have everything you need for the perfect finishing touches. Every kind of cheese you can think of, sauces, pickles, salads, dressings, marinades and oils galore. Gone are the days of a sad looking sausage and a burnt burger being enough.

And of course, a barbecue needs a fridge full of cool, refreshing drinks for the guests. Whether it’s beer, lager, wine, G&T, or a soft variety, we can help you keep glasses topped up with drinks that really hit the spot.

If football isn’t your thing, of course there’s also wonderful Wimbledon. An excuse to eat your own body weight in strawberries and cream. Take the theme a bit further and why not add in some Strawberry and Mint Jam for your morning toast, some strawberry vinegar for your salads, and some delicious Anton Berg Strawberry in Champagne chocolates, just because… and maybe a sneaky tub of strawberry marshmallows too. Yum.

And, of course, the ultimate sunny day food? Ice cream! Whether it’s a cone through our serving window, or a tub to take home, take your pick from the deliciously creamy Brymor range, made in Masham. How about classic creamy vanilla  or black cherry whim wham? We even have diabetic ice cream, so no one has to miss out on a cooling treat.

Make this the summer the one when you discover a new favourite – over to you!

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Feeling stressed? Get baking!

What do you like to do to relax?

Sit down with a good book? Go for a swim? Watch some TV?

Well according to recent research, what many of us like to do to de-stress is bake. Which is handy as the rest of us like eating cake to help keep our spirits up too.

The study by food brand Dr Oetker showed that one in three of us bakes to bring down the stress levels after a day at work. It probably explains the copious amounts of cakes you quite often find in offices up and down the country – it’s always someone’s birthday after all.

Of the 2,000 amateur bakers questioned, two thirds thought baking improved their mood, making them happy, calm and focussed. More than half said they felt a real sense of achievement once they’d finished (presumably the other half enjoy baking but maybe aren’t so good at it….)

The vast majority of us – four out of five - like to follow a recipe to the letter. But we’re betting many of those recipes you can recall by heart as every home baker has a favourite or two they like to return to.  One in seven has a closely guarded family secret recipe – which is brilliant, and the kind of thing every family should have. Maybe just not like that Friends episode when it turns out Phoebe’s top secret family recipe for chocolate chip cookies is actually taken off the side of a packet of a well known brands’ biscuits.

Here at Hunters of Helmsley we have everything you might need to get your bake on. Lemon drizzle, millionaire’s shortbread, the good old Victoria sponge – the classics which have brought joy to generations. Or maybe you’re more adventurous and would give the Great British Bake Off showstoppers a run for their money?

From dozens of types of flour (coconut is proving very popular at the moment) to the finest sugar, from far flung ingredients to the prettiest (and tastiest) decorations, we want all your creations to be masterpieces. And no one is going to find after-work baking relaxing if they get to the cupboard and find half the ingredients aren’t there. So why not come and stock up? We’re always delighted to have a chat (and to try and get you to share granny’s secret Coffee Cake recipe).

And, of course, if baking isn’t your thing – never fear. We’ve plenty of delicious ready-to-eat cakes here for you too. How about Whitby Plum Loaf or lemon drizzle cake? I can feel myself relaxing already….

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Pick up a perfect picnic

We love a good picnic. By “we” we mean the team at Hunters. But, also, us Brits generally. Despite a…. shall we say unreliable climate…. we love nothing more than dining al fresco when the weather permits.

The earliest picnics are said to date back to Medieval times, when hunting feasts would take place outdoors in both England and France. However, the modern term was not in common use until the mid-eighteenth century when the French began to pique-nique. It sounds so much better said in a continental accent. It comes from the word piquer, "to pick at food", and nique, meaning something small of no value.

In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, picnics became a lavish affair, pretty much transporting the whole dining room – and full 5-course meal – outdoors. It’s a little bit more laid back now, but still deserves some care and attention!

On average we apparently enjoy three picnics a year each – although probably if we added in all the impromptu buying and enjoying of food out and about it would be a lot higher. Eighty five per cent of us will enjoy at least one picnic over the summer holidays.

Which brings us to this week. It’s National Picnic Week from 15th to 24th June (yes for the eagle-eyed of you, that is indeed over a week. Sssshhhh).

According to the organisers, 50 years ago the nation’s favourite picnic food was a cheese sandwich and now it’s crisps. Crisps?! Now we love a crisp, don’t get me wrong. And, of course, they deserve a place in the picnic hamper – but as a side dish to the main affair surely?

Pies are something which have always been popular when it comes to picnics – right back to hundreds of years ago, when they could easily be popped into a pocket as a tasty snack on a day’s hunt. If you’re looking for a great pie for a picnic how about our Slow Roast Pork and Ampleforth Abbey Cider Pie? With a creamy, tangy filling, it’s one of our best sellers. A tasty veggie alternative would be the Curried vegetable  roll

Or perhaps a sausage roll or two – the Yorkshire Baker Hog Roast is delicious, or how about Sweet Chilli

Of course, a sandwich is always a winner on a picnic. Why not grab one of our deep-filled bread buns and split it with a friend? Roast beef and horseradish and the simple ham and salad are still our best sellers. And it’s best you eat them sitting down as they take some getting your mouth round.

For a lighter lunch, visit our deli counter and we can create a fresh, tasty salad for you, including all your favourite things. Or how about some cheeses and a pack of artisan crackers or some fresh bread and your choice of sweet or tangy chutney? Mouth watering yet…? We also have some fantastic own brand pates – bison with fried onions, or ostrich and blueberry – or how about the lobster terrine?

Don’t forget something sweet to finish off the meal. The Hunters of Helmsley range of biscuits includes Rhubarb and Custard flavour shortbread biscuits or lemon cookies  which are both incredibly moreish! Other sweet treats you could pack up without fear of crushing or melting are salted caramel brownies  or frangipanes .

And finally, you’ll need a drink or two – whether it’s the alcoholic or non-alcoholic you’re looking for, we’ve got a wide selection in store to quench your thirst.

Now all you need is the perfect picturesque picnic spot – and luckily Helmsley is full of those too!