Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Spicy Red Pepper and Sweet Paprika Soup

 Rich, vibrant, thick and creamy warming soup is perfect for these cold 'almost winter' like days.
Homemade soup is really easy to make and the best thing is you can make up your own flavours combinations.  With good quality ingredients soup takes no time at all to make especially in a soup maker. 


 Make the best of those bargains you see in your local supermarket or better still your local farm shop or greengrocer.  
Whether you use a soup maker to do the work for you, or manually cook your soup and then blend with a stick (immersion) blender is up to you.  I used a soup maker by Judge Cookware and the result was excellent.  Soup can be frozen too so you always have some ready for for lunch on those lazy do nothing days.

Soup Maker by Judge Cookware - Review

Brrrrr! It's just the weather for a nice bowl of lovely homemade steaming hot soup - but this Soup Maker by Judge Cookware isn't all about soup you can use it to make hot chocolate, milk shakes, smoothies and to cooks eggs too by using the 4 hole egg cooker attachment.
Recently scoring 9/10 in Your Home Magazine for best soup maker.  Having been sent one to review myself here's how it went.
 

 Now it has to be said I do love me a kitchen gadget or two dozen!  So within half an hour of it arriving at my door I was cooking eggs.  They turned out perfectly cooked in 11 minutes.
Next up, Spicy Red Pepper and Sweet Paprika Soup had to happen.....

Monday, 20 October 2014

Tassimo Vivy Hot Drinks and Coffee Machine - Review

 Tassimo hot drinks machines have intelligent barcode technology which means the barcode on Tassimo T DISCs are scanned by the machine and register the correct brewing time, temperature and the amount of water required for each beverage.  It's all completely automatic, all you have to do is pop in a disc, press the button and your drink is prepared and dispensed into your cup.


Having been asked to review the Tassimo Vivy machine here's how it went:
The instructions that are supplied with the machine are a series of pictures which are really easy to follow. 
 The Tassimo Vivy TAS1202GB is compact and quite small with dimensions of just 249 x 169 x 298 mm (H x W x D) so doesn't take up valuable work space in the kitchen - well space is valuable to me since my kitchen is really tiny!  The coffee machine holds up to 0.7 litres of water which is enough to make approximately three standard cups of coffee.


Operation is really easy - as you can see from my pictures above you can remove the drip tray if your chosen cup or glass happens to be too tall.
Put the cup underneath, lift the top and insert your chosen T DISC (upside down) don't worry it will only go in one way so you can't go wrong.  Pull the top back down and it will pierce the disc.  The barcode will then be read so the machine knows which drink you have chosen and therefore it knows how much water to add and how long it needs to brew.  Once the light next to the picture of the cup illuminates, press the button and your drink will be made for you.
In this case I was making a Oreo drink so once the chocolate part had dispensed and the light goes out you just lift the lid and insert the cream part of the drink. Pull the lid back down and press the button again to add the cream to your drink.  Of course some beverages such as tea don't have cream so therefore the above operation is just done once.

 There are a huge selection of T DISCs available online and supermarkets (apparently there are over 35 varieties including a range of Costa coffees including Cappuccino and others such as Kenco Medium Roast Coffee and Caffe Crema, Twinings Breakfast Tea and Chai Latte, Oreo, Cadbury Hot Chocolate and more) so I think that's plenty to choose from and something for everyone!

Oreo T DISCs:
The kitchen smelt amazing as the drink was being made but although the Oreo drink was very chocolaty in smell, sadly we both thought it was quite thin and had a slightly watered down taste and not half as nice as the Cadbury's hot chocolate drink which is good!

Coffee and Tea:
Paul (the husband) is a coffee lover and really likes the Costa Cappuccino - it's really creamy and a good consistency and he can't fault it.  Obviously you can't expect an hot drinks machine to recreate the proper coffee served in Costa which of course is made by coffee machines costing a fortune.  That said, Paul says the Tassimo does a pretty good job.
Although I'm a tea lover I've never been a fan of any kind of breakfast tea and so it would be unfair of me to comment on the Twinings Breakfast tea that was sent to us along with the machine.  

Cost:
The T DISC sell for around £4.25 so for example with Costa Cappuccino discs you will get 8 in a pack so each drink works out at around 53p per cup.   I suppose it depends on how many drinks you of your family are lightly to drink in a day as to whether or not that could be expensive.

Cleaning the Tassimo Vivy Hot Drinks Machine:
Maintenance of the Tassimo Vivy is effortless as the machine indicates when there is a need for cleaning or descaling, and this can be done simply with the on-board cleaning disc.  Cleaning takes around 30 minutes to complete but of course you can just leave the machine to it and get on with something else as it doesn't require you to do anything once the operation has started.  I should point out that the spout part comes out completely so you can clean and rinse once a day and the barcode reader window just needs a wipe.

All in All:
The Tassimo Vivy is a great little hot drinks machine - fantastic for home or in the office.  Drinks are quick and made without any mess, it's easy to clean and convenient and is small enough to fit in any kitchen.

Disclaimer:  I was sent the Tassimo Vivy and a selection of T DISCs for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own and are in no way meant to influence readers buying choice.   

Friday, 17 October 2014

Cheesy Beany Crock-Pot Potatoes and Digital Crock-Pot Giveaway

Crock-Pots or slow cookers have become really popular again, lets face it they are quite a marvelous invention.  They offer a very cheap way of cooking and dinner can be ready to eat as soon as you get home from work - no mess no fuss.  Now whenever you think of a meal cooked in a slow cooker you tend to think it's all stews and casseroles.  But you can actually cook certain foods wrapped in foil which of course means even less washing up as the crock-pot is as clean at the end as it was before any cooking began!


Perfect for bonfire night or great for students these cheesy beany potatoes may not look amazing but let me tell you if you this was good!  Prepared in just five minutes then left to cook all day long while you're working or maybe you just have something else to do other than stand over a cooker. 
Lets face it baked beans are really good for you too, high in fibre and virtually fat-free which is probably just as well since these potatoes are loaded with cheese!

So since Crock-Pot are making October #Crocktober a slow cooking campaign, I was asked to make a recipe and was sent this Digital Crock-Pots and a Crock-Pot Food Warmer (a great little gadget that re-heats cooked food while you are in the office) just put the food into the bowl, plug in and 3 hours later your food will be piping hot and ready to eat.  Sadly I don't work in the kind of place where you are able to do that but if you do then it's ideal.


 I love this Crock-Pot - the digital timer allows you to see how much longer you have till your food is ready and it auto switches to keep warm when it's done.  So no need to worry if you're running late.
Crock-Pot UK are supplying one of these rather nice Digital Crock-Pots and a Crock-Pot Food Warmer for my Giveaway.  But first here's my recipe for those cheesy beany potatoes. 

Print Recipe
https://sites.google.com/a/aglugofoil.com/a-glug-of-oil/home/cheesy-beany-crock-pot-potatoes

 To serve 4 you will need:
1kg new potatoes (I used Charlotte) cut into bite sized pieces
sea salt and black pepper
1 x 400g can Baked Beans
200g of Extra Matured Cheddar - grated
200g Red Leicester - grated
a sprinkling of Cayenne or Chilli powder

How to do it:
Lay two big sheets of good quality kitchen foil to form a cross.  Line the crock-pot with the foil - it needs to be big enough to be able to pull the sides up and to cover the potatoes.
Throw in the potatoes and season with sea salt and black pepper.  Now pour over the baked beans and stir very carefully taking care not to tear the foil.  
Add half of the cheese (saving the rest till later) and sprinkle a little cayenne or chilli powder.  
 

 Pull the foil over to loosely cover the food.  Pop the lid on and switch on the Crock-Pot.  Cook for 8 hours on LOW add the rest of the cheese towards the end of cooking - say ten minutes before just giving it enough time to melt and then serve.


Now for the Giveaway!
As mentioned Crock-Pot UK are supplying a Digital Crock-Pot and a Crock-Pot Food Warmer which lucky reader of this blog will win.  
How to Enter - Entries must be via the Rafflecopter widget:
Please note the prize can only be sent to the UK only. To see a short video on how easy it is to use Rafflecopter click here.
*Inappropriate comments will be deleted and entry/entries to the competition removed as will anyone that says they have left a blog post comment but really hasn't! 
For information on how to find the URL of your tweet click here - Entries that do not show the URL of the Tweet will be removed.
There is one main way to enter and several ways to get bonus entries, including bonus daily entries.
Competition end time is as shown on the Rafflecopter widget along with the terms and conditions.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Masterclass with Cherish Finden and Afternoon Tea - Langham Hotel London

Earlier on this year, Mövenpick Ice Cream set 15 food bloggers the challenge of creating their own ice cream sundae recipe for the chance to win an exclusive two-hour masterclass with the Langham’s Head Pastry Chef Cherish Finden, followed by afternoon tea for two at The Palm Court.  Well I couldn't believe it when I was told I'd won!

 So this Monday it was off to The Langham Hotel in London to meet Cherish for the Masterclass, now anyone will tell you I don't do pastry and cakes simply because I can't.  I just don't have the patience required.  I cook by adding a bit of this and a bit of that till it tastes right and if I had my way there would just be a rough outline of a recipe so everyone could make their own mind up about how much of any ingredients to use - that said this wouldn't be much of use as a food blog.  Cooking is an experiment and baking is like science you have to measure and be precise and I can't do it. 
Cherish is such a lovely friendly person and a brilliant teacher - lets face it she taught me how to ice this cake and make the roses!

 

Due to the nature of the day it wasn't practical to take proper pictures so these were taken on an iPhone by a lovely girl Antonella who has just started working at the hotel.  She did a great job and I'm really grateful or I wouldn't have any pictures to include in this post.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Review and Giveaway - Aqua Zinger by Zing Anything

Make your own flavoured water in next to no time with the Aqua Zinger from Zing Anything.
Other products include Citrus Zinger, Vodka Zinger and a Salad Zinger - I must say they all sound very interesting!  Having been recently sent the Aqua Zinger to review here's how it went.


My first thoughts were, surely you don't need this gadget to make flavoured water?  Of course this is true but it does make the job a whole lot easier and less messy.  Water can be infused with whichever fruits take your fancy and is also strained when poured too.  Refreshing lemon and lime was my chosen fruits since my husband drinks so much of this stuff (ready made in bottles from the supermarket) now with the Aqua Zinger it is so easy to make your own and of course it's healthy too. 

You can add fruit, herbs, spices and natural sugars such as honey to the Aqua Zinger.  
For my first attempt I just used lemon and lime - the Aqua Zinger is it's really simple use.  Just cut the fruit into smallish sized pieces and place into the cup as shown in my picture.  The cup has blades in the bottom which pierces the fruit.  

   
Push the top bladed strainer into the fruit.  Now put the bottle part onto the cup and twist - this grids the fruit releasing it's lovely juice and will release flavour into the water when added. 


Add water and screw on the lid, shake well and you have flavoured water ready to drink.  
Of course you can chill the water beforehand or put the Aqua Zinger into the fridge and leave for at least 20 minutes or so for the best flavoured water. 


 Once done the water had a really freshing lemon and lime flavour with tiny bits of lemon and lime - so good to drink.  Providing you screw the top on properly the Aqua Zinger doesn't leak at all and holds around 400ml of water.  Perfect for taking to the gym. 
Hand washing is recommended although you can put it in the top rack of the dishwasher is you need to.

 Distributed by Root7 in the UK - more information can be found over at Zing Anything.

Disclaimer:  All opinions and thoughts are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.
 
Now for the Giveaway!
The lovely people over Root7 are supplying an Aqua Zinger which one lucky reader of this blog will win.  

How to Enter - Entries must be via the Rafflecopter widget:
Please note the prize can only be sent to the UK only. To see a short video on how easy it is to use Rafflecopter click here.
*Inappropriate comments will be deleted and entry/entries to the competition removed as will anyone that says they have left a blog post comment but really hasn't! 
For information on how to find the URL of your tweet click here - Entries that do not show the URL of the Tweet will be removed.
There is one main way to enter and several ways to get bonus entries, including bonus daily entries.
Competition end time is as shown on the Rafflecopter widget along with the terms and conditions.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Chicken with Bacon Saffron Tomato and Potato - One Pot Meal

 Readers of this blog would have seen my recent review of the beautiful cook book 'Café Kitchen' by Shelagh Ryan.  As soon as I opened the book I knew I had to make this dish.  This is a lovely recipe full of flavour and easy since it's all cooked in one pot.  Suitable for everyday eating but I say would go down a treat at a dinner party too.


As I've already said Café Kitchen is a truly lovely cook book.  I did slightly titivated the original recipe as the book doesn't mention whether or not the potatoes should be precooked or not.  I decided they wouldn't be cooked through simply by adding them in the last 20 minutes of cooking as the book suggests and so I par boiled mine first. I also used one tin less of tomatoes and less chicken stock and wine.  I still had plenty of liquid so I've decided that's the way to go but of course it's just down to personal preference.  The recipe says it serves 8-12 people using eight to twelve chicken thighs - we are greedy so I used 9 to serve two people.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Foodie News - Roundup

 A roundup of nice food products I've been kindly sent over the past few weeks.  Some products I hadn't tried before and some I hadn't heard of until now so it's all very exciting.


Friday, 3 October 2014

Café Kitchen by Shelagh Ryan - Book Review

The Café Kitchen is the first book written by Australian-born foodie Shelagh Ryan, founder of London’s Lantana Cafés.  Shelagh grew up in Brisbane, Australia in a family that loved to cook and eat.
A hard back book with 160 pages and 120 photographs this book makes you want to cook everything in it.  The brilliant photography by Kate Whitaker really draws you to the recipes.  The recipes themselves are easy to follow and sound delicious.  Simple, relaxed food perfect for informal dining perfect for chilling out indoors.
Categories include Breakfast and Brunch which includes Drinks and Chutney's, Small Bites, Salads and Soups, Larger Plates, and Cakes and Bakes.

My thoughts:
I really, really like this book, you know how when you first open a cookbook and flick though you're instantly drawn to certain dishes?  Well personally I'm drawn to loads of of them - yes this book is packed full of the kind of recipes I like to cook and eat.
The Braised Chicken with Bacon, Saffron, Tomato and Potato has to happen, it looks so, so good. In fact I'm annoyed with myself as I have everything to make this recipe apart from celery and parsley or I'd make this for dinner tonight.  I could have easily bought these yesterday, I can't go out today since I have to wait in for a parcel but fear not this will be made soon for sure.

Tomato Soup with Fennel, Garlic and Basil Drizzle sounds lovely too.  Thai Fishcakes with Nahm Jim Dipping Sauce is another dish I've labeled 'must happen soon in my kitchen'.

This book has a good few vegetarian dishes too.  As I'm writing this review I've just noticed Cheddar Cornbread with Tomato Chilli Jam - Mmm yes please I'll have me some of that!
Lovers of all things cake will really like Sticky Toffee Ginger Loaf or the famous Lantana Crack Cakes - a mix of bananas. pineapple, cinnamon and pecans with a cream cheese icing.  

Would I recommend this book?
The answers is most definitely yes.  A wide range of scrummy yummy recipes that really inspire you to get cooking. 

 About:
 Café Kitchen by Shelagh Ryan is published by Ryland Peters and has a RRP of £16.99 hardback.
 You can follow Shelagh on Twitter @lantanacafe

Disclaimer: Many thanks to Ryland Peters for sending me this book.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review. 


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Giveaway - Case of Beer

I must admit I'd not heard of Beer52 until a week or so ago when I was asked if I'd like a case of their beers to try.  Well, I have to say I'm more a wine than beer kinda gal so the beer tasting was left to Paul (the husband).  As you can imagine he was really pleased with this role of chief beer taster and is making his way through all eight beers, so far he's really liked every one of them, I think he has three more to go.


Anyway, I've since discovered that Beer52 are the largest and fastest-growing craft beer community in the world - which is pretty impressive. 
 Their founder James Brown started the club last year after he went on a motorcycle 'craft beer road trip' around Europe.  He discovered there were more than 12,000 microbreweries in the world, producing all kinds of amazing beers.  After that trip, he put together a team of craft beer experts who now handpick eight different beers each month for our members to try.  They're sourcing exclusive, small batch beers from the best tiny and experimental breweries around the world and if you order the beer is delivered right to your door.    
 Beer52 also produce a great in-house magazine about the beers we feature called Ferment.

Discount Code:
 If you pop over to their website and want to order a case of beer to try please enter this Discount Code Jan10 to receive £10 off your first order!  Don't forget you can have the beer sent as a gift.  Brilliant with Christmas soon upon us and you'll save a tenner too! 

Giveaway: 
The lovely people over at Beer52 are supplying a case of 8 beers which one lucky reader of this blog will win.  Please note the exact beers may vary from those shown in my picture. 

 How to Enter - Entries must be via the Rafflecopter widget:
Please note the prize can only be sent to the UK only. To see a short video on how easy it is to use Rafflecopter click here.
*Inappropriate comments will be deleted and entry/entries to the competition removed as will anyone that says they have left a blog post comment but really hasn't! 
For information on how to find the URL of your tweet click here - Entries that do not show the URL of the Tweet will be removed.
There is one main way to enter and several ways to get bonus entries, including bonus daily entries.
Competition end time is as shown on the Rafflecopter widget along with the terms and conditions.


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