Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Cajun Chicken - Gousto Recipe Box Review

In case you didn't know Gousto deliver fresh food recipe boxes directly to your door and each box contains everything you need to make the recipe and includes a really easy to follow recipe card.
 Having just been sent three meals each serving four people one of the meals was this Cajun Chicken with Couscous.
Now, I must say this really was delicious - the chicken was nicely spiced and the couscous and yogurt dressing complimented the meal perfectly.

     Since I last wrote about Gousto a while back they have lowered their prices by 17% and now meals cost between  £4.00 to £5.80 and that included delivery.
According to on average that's 16% better than most supermarkets. 
Gousto have worked very hard on these improvements, and have happily passed on all the savings to the customer.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Crème Brûlée - Tefal Cook4Me

Yes I'm still raving on about the Tefal Cook4Me!  Over the weekend I thought I'd try one of the desserts.  Since I'd recently been given a cook's blowtorch to review I wanted an excuse to play with it!  My review of that will of course be in a separate post. 

Crème brûlée in the Cook4Me was a doddle to make and turned it out perfectly.  I must point out the recipe instructions are a little odd as they say to serve 2 people you will need 3 ramekins - then again Paul (the husband) would agree with that meaning there's one more for him!

On another note the measurement for caster sugar just says 2 but 2 what is the question.  Now it's no big deal although I understand fully if you hadn't got a clue how to make Crème brûlée this would leave you wondering.  Well the answer is 25g or 2 tablespoons I've decided anyway, and it worked out just fine.
One more thing is the vanilla extract isn't mentioned as to when you add it but again, it was easy to realise it gets added in when you add the cream.

Anyway, with that said I still don't have a bad word to say about the Tefal Cook4Me - I've tried a good few recipes now and up till this one I'd never found a fault.

I think you'll agree the Crème brûlée looks pretty good.  It emerged from the machine with a perfect wobble and for those that follow me on Instagram you will have witnessed that by way of a instavideo!


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Express Sausage Casserole using Tefal Cook4Me Multicooker

The Tefal Cook4Me is a Multicooker which means it can brown, cook, reheat, steam, pressure cook, or cook 50 different pre-programmed recipes or be used manually to create your own thing.  All in all this really is a brilliant invention.  Having been sent one to review (you can read about the Cook4Me in more detail here) and also see how easy it is to make a dish such as Beef Madras in just 20 minutes.

Well today let me tell you about this seriously quick and very tasty Sausage Casserole with cooking time of just 9 minutes.  No fancy ingredients either, in fact I used a shop bought cook-in sauce in order to show just how very easy and simple this multicooker really is.  

The Cook4Me as I said come with 50 pre-programmed recipes and to create your own recipe is just find a similar recipe, in this case it was Sausage and Bean Casserole.  Now, none of the recipes are difficult at all nor do they require any fancy ingredients.  But the pre-programmed recipe called for dicing a carrot and a red pepper and a glass of red wine.  Okay that's nothing tricky as I say but what if you actually can't be bothered to even do that?  

So, armed with a jar of sausage casserole cook-in sauce 'Homepride' if you must know!
I chopped an onion and a few mushrooms which you don't have to but doing so will of course give more flavour.  I then selected the sausage and bean stew recipe on the Cook4Me and browned the sausages and onions as instructed. Then I poured in the cooking sauce, closed the lid and waited a whole 9 minutes for it to cook!  Now, this caught me out a bit since the mashed potatoes weren't ready.  All my fault as it does tell you at the start how long or should I say quickly it will take to cook. Please note the cooking time of 9 minutes is to serve 4 people - to serve 2 people the cooking time is less and just 6 minutes!

Anyway, no need to fuss since the Tefal Cook4Me automatically switches to keep warm.  Food can be kept warm for up to 90 minutes.

 Up next time is soup using a pre-programmed recipe but I can't decide between Butternut or Leek and Potato, what do you reckon?

To find out more on this and other great products pop over to the Tefal website.

Disclaimer:  I was given the Tefal Cook4Me multicooker for the purpose of a review which can be read by following the link mentioned earlier in this post.  All thoughts are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Competition - The Great Denby Cake Off

 Calling all Denby Fans, Baking Extraordinaires, and Inspirational Food Bloggers!
The English pottery makers Denby are celebrating all things British and all things cake.  They're holding a competition 'The Great Denby Cake Off'!

Your Mission?  
To create baked masterpieces. They want to see your best afternoon tea baking and are looking for cakey creativity, perfect presentation and all round themed delightfulness!

Great Prizes!
First place:  Denby e-voucher for £500
Second place:  Ultimate Baking Kit
Third place:  Ultimate Baking Preparation Kit

How to Enter:
Pop over and check out the Denby competition page: The Great Denby Cake Off

The competition will be judged by Claire Sutton, Rachel Phipps, and Regular Ysewijn who will select the select the best entries.

Roundup - Latest Food and Product News

 New from Life of Spice:

Life of Spice have just added three ranges - each including five products:
Gourmet Rubs: Memphis Belle, Fifty Shades of Grey, Much Adobo About Nothing, Rub me Tender and Pepper Smurf

Gourmet Salts: The French Connection, The Italian Job, Singapore Sling, Tequila Sunrise and Duke of Earl

Gourmet Herbs: Herbes de Provence, Italian Herbs, Herbes de la Garrigue, Fines Herbes and Bouquet Garni
So far I've only managed to try just one of these which was from the rub collection 'Much Adobo about Nothing' and was great used in beef chilli.
You can find them on Twitter @lifeofspiceuk

Olives ET Al: 

  Soon as I opened the box I was intrigued by the Mojo Pink Grapefruit Dressing and Marinade. So far I've only used it as a dressing but we absolutely love it. 

Sweet Chilli Billy Jelly Chilli and Ginger Relish:  Chilli, ginger and garlic this is  the perfect accompaniment for cheese, meat or fish. - yep this stuff is good.

Smoky Chipotle Chilli Olives:  Wow these olives are HOT, but perfect in my opinion.  After eating the olives you can use the oil  to add a spicy, smoky depth a range of dishes.  Perfect for marinating steaks, chicken or seafood too.

North African Style Red Chilli Harissa Sauce:  Now this is fiery, hot and works brilliantly in all a Tangine or for making dips and sauces.
You can find Olives ET Al on Twitter @OlivesEtAl 

Jumble Bee:

An exciting new range of snacks consisting of dried fruit and nuts.
Jumble bee is made by Community Foods, who in 1971 started selling bags of mixed dried fruit and nuts to their local community.  Almost 40 years later Jumble Bee celebrates by using some of the great ingredients that Community Foods built its reputation on.  We love these snack which are healthy and delicious but hard to put down once you open a packet!
8 lines are being exclusively launched in Tesco throughout August  and consists of 175g packs of dried fruit, seed and nut mixes retailing at £2.39 each and a larger 350g pack of ‘Blissful Banana Chips’ retailing at £2.45
You can follow Jumble bee on Twitter @unbee_lievably


KFC recently introduced Slow Cooked Pulled Chicken to their UK and Ireland menu.
As I'd been invited along to their Head Office in London earlier in the year they kindly send me a BBQ cooking kit.  You can read more about their new menu here. 
The BBQ kit also included a shopping bag which I hadn't noticed at the time since is was hidden wrapped in the red paper you can see in my picture.  I have to make a burger so I can use that branding iron - A Glug of Oil (of course)!
You can follow KFC on Twitter @KFC_UKI

Many thanks to all brands for the samples received.  All thoughts and opinions are my own and are not meant to influence readers buying choice.   

Monday, 8 September 2014

Express Beef Madras - Tefal Cook4Me Multicooker Review

 Imagine being able to cook a Beef Madras Curry with a cooking time of just 20 minutes?  Fantastic, but only of course if the beef is juicy, tender, full of flavour and tastes good.
 Well, this Beef Madras using casserole beef (braising steak) actually did cook in 20 minutes and it was seriously good.  Oh yes we're seriously impressed with the Cook4Me Multicooker from Tefal.

 Having recently been asked if I'd like to review the Tefal Cook4Me Multicooker the answer was of course yes please.  I wasn't really sure what to expect since I've never had a multicooker before and wasn't quite sure how they worked.  So, armed with lots of questions as soon as it arrived I wanted to use it!
I'll answer all of my questions and of course if you have any please leave a comment and I'll answer it.

 Picture of Cook4Me supplied by Tefal since it's so shiny I found it almost impossible to take a picture that didn't show myself  and my kitchen in it!

 Does is really cook meals in super quick time and if so, are they just as tasty as you'd expect?
Can someone that really isn't into cooking (such as Paul the husband) be able to use the Cook4Me to create a proper meal without any stress?
  •  How does Cook4Me work?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • What kind of foods can you cook in it? 
  • Do the pre-programmed recipes actually work?
  • Can you make up your own recipe? 
  • Is it easy to clean after use? 
 About Tefal Cook4Me and how it works:
 Cook4Me comes with 50 pre-programmed recipes and it guides you step by step to cook meals for 2 to 6 people. With just the push of a button you can cook a variety of meals in next to no time - great if you want to spend less time in the kitchen. 
The pre-programmed recipes include Starter and Side dishes, Main dishes and desserts.  I haven't tried any desserts as yet but will include one in another post.  I have to try the Molten Chocolate Puddings, don't you think?
Five cooking settings allow you to pressure-cook, steam, brown, simmer, or reheat your meals.
    There's no need to stand watching it either as when the meal is ready, the cooker automatically switches to keep warm until it's time to eat.

The display menu is both easy to read and understand: 
Ingredients, Recipes, Manual and Favourites. By selecting one of these takes you to the following:  Meat and Chicken, Fish and Shellfish, Rice and Cereals.  The OK button is like a select button, you turn it to your chosen category.  The arrow button is like a return button and takes you back to the last menu.  In a word, it's really simple to use.  Yes tried and tested - Paul (the husband) actually made Chicken Tikka Masala all by himself - let me tell you that really is something! 

What other kinds foods can you cook: 

You can of course set it to cook a specific ingredient such as Rice, Quinoa, Bulgar Wheat,  Apples, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Potatoes, Peas and Spinach to name just a few.  Everything you want to cook the Cook4Me guides you as to how to cook it.

Do the pre-programmed recipes work:
I've used mine a good few times now and have found it really easy to look for a similar recipe and adapt it to your own recipe.  So far I've cooked Chicken Tikka Masala, Beef Madras, Carrots and Cauliflower and every time the result has been perfect.  The Chicken was really tender as was the meat in the Beef Madras.
Just following the instructions on the screen - select how many you are cooking for and it will display the recipe for you to follow.

Can you use a similar pre-programmed recipe in order to make your own:
Yes you can , just find a recipe that's similar to what you want to cook and use your own ingredients rather than those suggested.  For example there is a pre-programmed recipe for Sausage and Bean Stew.  But since I didn't have all the ingredients to make it I chose to make a Sausage Casserole using a jar of shop bought cooking sauce. It turn out just perfect and since this post is already getting quite long I'll include that in a later post.
What about Cleaning:
      At first glance of the instructions you could think that cleaning looks a bit of a bother - only due to the fact that you have to remove the pressure valve and wash the drip tray.  Take it from me this honestly takes a couple of minutes in total to remove, clean, dry and reassemble.  The removable pot and steam basket are dishwasher compatible.  The removable pot is non-stick and a doddle to wash by hand in sudsy water so personally I can't see the need to put it in the dishwasher.

All in All:
  Okay, this muliticooker isn't cheap (RRP £249.99) although at the time of writing I see it's now £220.00 but with that said I wonder if cheaper multicookers on the market would perform as well.
Cook4Me is available from Lakeland instore and online - you can also buy it through Amazon too. 
 I'd go as far as to say it really is worth investing in - especially if you work and have a family to feed.  None of the recipes are tricky nor do they require many ingredients either.  Easy to clean and easy to use.  Since it lots of recipes cook in extra quick time - it will of course save you money too.  Remember the beef madras used casserole steak/braising steak which usually requires cooking slowly for at least 3 hours took just 20 minutes in the Cook4Me. Personally I'd recommend this to anyone.

50 pre-programmed savoury and sweet dishes with a maximum of six ingredients
    Keeps food warm for up to 90 minutes after cooking
    Easy to clean - the ceramic- coated bowl is non-stick, removable and dishwasher safe
    Tell it the ingredient and weight and it will automatically suggest the best way to cook your food
    36.5 x 36.5 x 32cm H. Watts 1300 Capacity 6 litres

Many thanks to Tefal for sending me the Cook4Me to review.

Disclaimer:  I was given this multicooker for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Pork Ragu with Rigatoni Pasta

 A nice steaming bowl of pasta with a lovely rich meat sauce is always a good thing.  I usually make ragu with half beef and half pork mince, but my freezer failed me there was no beef mince to be found!  Anyway, all was okay as this turned out just as tasty.

   If you've never tried Sacla sun-dried tomato paste then you haven't lived, marvelous stuff.  Rich and sweet tasting and great in pasta dishes or soups - just saying.

KFC Introduce Slow Cooked Pulled Chicken to their UK Menu

Today, KFC becomes the first quick service restaurant to bring on-trend street food to the high street, as it adds to its traditional fried chicken menu with the introduction of a range of slow cooked pulled chicken products for its customers.

You may remember I recently went with a couple of other food bloggers Behind the Scenes at KFC with the BBC and we actually got to try the new pulled chicken range but as it hadn't gone on sale at the time we were all sworn to secrecy!

Photograph supplied by KFC

 It tasted good, a little on the sweet side for me personally but still very good - we're talking melt in the mouth chicken here.

KFC announces the biggest overhaul to its menu yet with ‘Pulled Chicken’.  Pulled Chicken leads the latest trend in slow cooked BBQ meats.  American Style, BBQ food restaurants’ sales increase by 35% since 2010.  BBQ style food market now worth an estimated £68.4m in the UK.
The innovative move reflects Britain’s growing love affair with ‘Americana’, which has driven a 35% increase in the number of American and BBQ style dishes served in UK restaurants since 2010  and a boom in the number of new smokehouses, burger bars, diners and rib shacks that have popped up throughout the country. London alone has seen a 40% increase in American themed eateries opening on its streets since 2012 . The booming trend has also influenced the grocery industry with pulled meats beginning to appear on supermarket shelves, contributing to a £10m sales growth in Pulled Pork alone . It is now estimated that the Southern American BBQ style food market is worth over £68m in the UK .

 Arriving ahead of KFC’s 50-year anniversary, the slow cooked Pulled Chicken range - which includes the Ultimate Burger, Chicken Twister Wrap and lower calorie Lil’ Wrap - have been launched to provide customers with a greater choice across the KFC menu.

KFC Innovation Manager, Louise Direito said: “If Pulled Pork was the dish of 2014, then 2015 will become the year of Pulled Chicken. Influenced heavily by both our Kentucky heritage as well as the UK street food scene, the new range is a labour of love for us. We have been working tirelessly for the past 18 months to improve the variety of our menu and are delighted that we can now provide our customers with something completely unique to KFC.”

Trendologist Charles Banks, founder of The Food People said:  “The popularity of American-inspired cuisine, BBQ and pulled meats comes from the contemporary BBQ craze that has swept the US and now the UK, evolving from a food trend into a food genre.  Pulled meats and BBQ fit perfectly with where the UK food scene is right now - it’s about comfort, simplicity, low and slow cooking, the use of cheaper cuts of meat, social and convivial food and huge flavour delivery.  We have worked with KFC to take inspiration from this genre and make it work for chicken, rather than pork and other meats more traditionally used in this style of cooking, to create a menu which caters for the growing number of consumers who are on the hunt for new dishes and culinary experiences.”

The new Pulled Chicken is made from a blend of (60%) white breast and (40%) dark meat to give a balance of tenderness and flavour, and cooked in a sauce inspired by an authentic Kentucky recipe.  The meat is first tumbled in a dry spice rub which includes smoked paprika, clove and chilli before being marinated in a molasses-based sauce and slow cooked for almost two hours. 

The new Pulled Chicken range is available in KFC restaurants from 1st September, across the UK and Ireland.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

EcoCook Energy Efficient Cookware and Bakeware - Review

The EcoCook range of saucepans, frying pans and bakeware from Premier Housewares are very light in weight and therefore heat up extremely quickly which of course uses less energy - the mineral-based white ceramic coating combines non-stick and brilliant thermal conducting properties. 

 New to the range this year are lovely lime green and black.

 PTFE and PFOA-free they are able to withstand serious heat (up to 280°C or 536°F) without the risk of blistering or cracking and they are non-stick.

 Having tried and tested an EcoCook frying pan and a baking dish over two years ago I can say they last a long time.  Bearing in mind, mine were used probably more than the average person, and only just recently the coating lost its lovely white colour and shine making them not so non-stick and sadly had to be declared as ex-pans.  That said after over two years of working hard they really are excellent value for money - prices from £14.99 and £32.99 - I'd recommend them to anyone wanting good quality, nice looking pans at a great price.

EcoCook is suitable for use on gas, electric, ceramic and halogen hobs.  Pans over 20cm are also suitable for use on induction hobs.  Easy to wash too, either by hand or pop in the dishwasher.

To find your nearest stockist pop over to Premier Housewares.

Disclaimer:  I was sent this product for review purposes.  All thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Dulce de Leche Filled Muffins - Easy to Make Recipe

I'm certainly no baker but muffins usually always seem to turn out okay and so if I can make them, anyone can.  Of course the ever popular Chocolate Chip Muffin is always a good thing, but filled with Dulce de Leche the humble muffin becomes something amazing.
With that said I don't particularly like cakes of any sort but Paul does!

I've used Dulce de Leche in a couple of things recently - My Carameltia Ice Cream Sundae and Banana and Chocolate Dessert Pizza.