Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Perfect Kitchen Timer - Review

I don't know about you but I've never seemed to have found what I'd call a really good and proper kitchen timer, until now.   This Two Channel Kitchen Timer from Oregon Scientific also has a Clock and LED Visual Alert too -  a clock and timer within one design. The two-channel timer allows you to alter between the count up and down functions.

The alarm volume can be adjusted, and when set to high it is seriously LOUD but that can only be a good thing.  How many times have you set a kitchen timer and missed it because it just wasn't loud enough?  Seriously this one is excellent and even set the the next volume down it is still louder than any timer I've had before. It has a nice big display too so it's easy to read.


Once the timer is set, the LED alert flashes continuously - now I'd have liked it to have the option to be able to turn that bit off since it will just use battery power unnecessarily - just saying.  Although with that said, being LED it most probably wouldn't drain the batteries in age so isn't a real problem.  The alarm comes with stand, magnet and even has hanging holes too.

  • Dual timer with count up/down function
  • Adjustable alarm volume – high / low / mute – with LED alert
  • Digital clock
  • With stand, magnet and hanging hole
  • Batteries are included
  • Product Size : 90(W) x 76(H) x 20(D) mm
So to keep a track of the Christmas dinner (or any other dinner of course) this is the very fellow that will do the job.  You can set one timer for the turkey and one for the roast potatoes!
With a RRP of £19.99 I say it's well worth investing in.
 
Disclaimer:  I was sent this kitchen timer for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and opnions are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review.   

Monday, 27 October 2014

Crock-Pot BBQ Pork Steaks - Easy Slow Cooker Recipe

I say Crock-Pot or Slow Cookers are a brilliant invention!  Great for all kinds of easy and delicious dinners. My slow cooked pork steaks in a rich and tangy BBQ sauce melt in the mouth - just the thing to come home to a long day at work. 

I suppose you could serve this with some nice crusty bread for dipping and moping but I say for the ultimate comfort food it needs mashed potato.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Flour Tortillas and How to use a Tortilla Press

Flour tortillas aren't something I'd ever thought of making since you can buy them in just about every supermarket across the land.  Plus I would never have thought I actually could make them look authentic.

So when I was asked if I'd like to review a couple more items from KitchenCraft browsing through their website, I fell in love with this World of Flavours Mexican Ceramic Tortilla Warmer - just look at the colour of this dish it's amazing.  Low and behold, displayed right next to it was a Tortilla Press, now I just knew needed one of those too!


Saturday afternoon saw me busy in my kitchen making tortillas and yes out came the mixer (see my Instagram) I meant business!  The Mexican Tortilla Press is really easy to use and I discovered that they come out best if you lay a sheet of greaseproof paper between the dough and the press.
Now, it has to be said these tortillas did take a bit of practice to get the size right and the although the press got them a nice perfect round shape, they were still a little bit too thick for my liking.  So I did give them a quick roll with a rolling pin, nothing to tricky and I'd have never got them this evenly round without the press.

So where did I get this lovely recipe from?  Well after much trawling the net most recipes used lard - now I don't know whether that's right or wrong but personally I didn't like the sound of it.
Then I came across this marvelous website and followed their brilliant recipe - they tasted every bit as good as shop bought tortillas too.  I think you'll agree these tortillas really look the part and as I said before, using a tortilla press makes them the perfect shape which I couldn't achieve using a rolling pin alone.
 
I converted the recipe into metric and it works out 480g plain flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking powder 85ml vegetable oil and 250ml water.  I divided mine to make 10 and not 16 tortillas.

Going back to the beautiful KitchenCraft Tortilla Warmer it's oven proof up to 150C/300F or Gas 2 and is dishwasher safe.  Once cooked it kept the tortillas warm for a good while, well until they were eaten anyway! They didn't dry out and the dish is ideal to take straight from oven to table.
Pop over and take a look at the rest of the International/Mexican cooking range KitchenCraft has to offer.  It's a great website which is very well presented and is full of must have cooking bits and bobs.

You can see a couple of other products I recently reviewed here.
To find out more pop over to KitchenCraft - you can also follow them on Twitter @KitchenCraft

Disclaimer:  I was send these items for the purpose of this review.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review. 

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Saturday, 25 October 2014

Foodie News - Roundup October

Time for a quick roundup of some great food products I've been kindly sent over the past few weeks and some brilliant news about how Ocado is helping small suppliers.... 



Ocado helping small suppliers:
Ocado have done a fantastic job in helping small suppliers, by way of being able to stock and support small suppliers unlike a regular high street supermarkets.


For example, Rubies In The Rubble, or more specifically Alicia and Jenny, create all their delicious chutneys from discarded fruits and vegetables, from farms and markets.  As a business, they are all against food waste using their products as a solution to it, and as a way to raise awareness about the issue in general.
The idea is that the jars themselves are little gleaming examples of how you can transform what would otherwise be discarded into something really worth keeping, by valuing your resources and making use of what you have.  

Hannah Rhodes was the winner of Britain’s Next Top Supplier campaign for creating Hiver Honey Beer  Hannah received a £10,000 marketing prize, as well as being stocked online at Ocado, giving her the big break she needed.  Since then, she has had the resources and confidence to approach pubs around the UK to be stocked in those too.

Holy Lama Spice Drops were runners up but still received listing online at Ocado.
Ocado will continue to search for great small suppliers to be stocked online and to give them the chance of being recognised. 
Other's small suppliers Ocado are helping include Plenish and The Grown Up Chocolate Company.

Rhythm Health:
Rhythm Health have just introduced 100% Virgin Coconut Milks consisting entirely of first-pressed coconuts, sourced from the Philippines without any added water or sugar.   Available in regular and naturally reduced fat both of course 100% Virgin Coconut Milk.






These coconut milks are gluten-free, dairy free, and vegetarian and vegan friendly.  Stored in the fridge as they are a fresh product they brilliant for a range of recipes from Asian-inspired curries, to desserts, smoothies, soups and salad dressings.  The 200g pouches are available from Holland & Barrett and other independent health food stores nationwide.  You can find out more over at the Rhythm Health website.
I tried these in an Indian style curry and they do actually add a really creamy taste and added depth to the dish.  

Prestat Chocolates:

Oh my Black Forest Gateau Truffles, need I say more?  As you know I'm not a fan of chocolate but Paul (the husband) absolutely loved these and yes he ate them all.  Prestat are committed to trading fairly.  Their chocolates are hand-crafted and they have a range of chocolate gifts to suit different budgets.  Check them out over at the Prestat website. 

Disclaimer:  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.   

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.

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