Sunday, 31 July 2011

Ben Shaws Soft Drinks Celebrate 140 years

Over the years Ben Shaws the soft drinks manufacturer has been a very busy brand.  From humble beginnings in Huddersfield, the brand has seen many changes over it's 140 year history but one thing has stood the test of time; the fantastic taste that you never forget. 
 Great flavours of Dandelion and Burdock, Cloudy Lemonade, Bitter Shandy and my favorite, Cream Soda.
 Ben Shaws was started in 1871 in Huddersfield by Ben Shaw himself and they have just celebrated 140 years by having events around the country throughout the month of July. 
As I was on holiday my sample parcel has only just arrived - hence my late post about it.

I can remember my dad used to make us a drink using Cream Soda and ice cream.  Just put a scoop of vanilla ice cream into a glass tumbler and top with Ben Shaws Cream soda - mix it up a bit and drink with a straw! In fact I still make that now and again to this day!
You can follow Ben Shaws on Twitter or FaceBook
 Thank you to Ben Shaws and Chris.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

My Day with Jean-Christophe Novelli and Carte D'Or Ice Cream Sundays

I still can't believe how lucky I was to be invited to a Carte D'Or Dessert Masterclass with Jean-Christophe Novelli at his cooking academy (and home) a lovely 14th Century Farmhouse, in Hertfordshire last week.
  It was a seriously fantastic day!  It took me not too far short of 5 hours to get there by train (no point in me driving - too much Champagne and wine would have been missed)!
 But that said I'd do it all again tomorrow - it was an amazing day!
Carte D'Or have just bought out a couple of new flavours to their already scrummy and excellent range of ice creams.  
Macadamia Night and Cherry Blossom as part of their 'Ice Cream Sundays' Campaign....Mmmm Mmm!
 Oooh where to begin?!
After my quite traumatic taxi journey from the train station to the academy (which should have taken 10 minutes) 45 minutes later I arrived.  Turns out I got probably the only taxi driver in the world that despite using sat-nav, had no idea where he was going - but fancied he wouldn't tell me that until we'd set off!  Anyway, all was well and I got there in the end.  
What a lovely place Jean-Christophe lives and works in - this is part of his garden: 
  Once inside I almost fell over when I saw his oven!....It is HUMONGOUS!
Here's just half of it!:
He sat and chatted to us, answering all our questions.  
Nothing was too much trouble.
   So, after a coffee and a chat, we were all now with Champagne in hand and listening to his every word......
 Jean-Christophe first showed us how to make the starters we were having - Sea-bass with a tomato sauce which I must say was just the best thing ever!  In a later post I will attempt (if I can) and without the aid of a safety net, to make it myself and try and show you what I mean.
The tomato sauce was by no means 'ordinary'.

We then had a main dish of pork belly which had been cooking for almost 6 hours along with Boulangere potatoes.  He made a gravy using the remains of some filter coffee adding a little cocoa powder....Delish is the only word.
 The wine glasses were the size of gold-fish bowls!:
 As I write I'm thinking a separate post would be good to show you the other desserts he made, or you'd be here till midnight night reading!
So for now, I'll just show you Jean-Christophe Novelli's 'Chocolate Trio'
Using 'Macadamia Night' ice cream by Carte D'Or.
This is really lovely, but very rich, so you'll only need small coffee cups to serve. 
*taken from Jean-Christophe Novelli via the Carte D'Or website

Serves: 12
600ml semi skimmed milk
Half vanilla pod without its seeds
400g bitter chocolate, 70% cocoa solids broken up in bits
100g sieved chocolate powder
100g white chocolate
100ml double cream
2-3 dessert spoons whisky
1 tub Cart D’Or Macadamia Night ice cream

Method:

Step one
Pop a heavy saucepan onto the hob and heat for 30 seconds. Add the milk and the vanilla so that they all muddle and mix together. When the mixture’s is hot (not boiling), add the chocolate and take it off the heat, but keep stirring it until it’s rich and glossy.

Step two
Remove the vanilla pod and add 2 dessert spoons of your favourite whisky and stir

Step three
Spoon out the mixture into 12 ramekins, filling them about halfway up. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes

Step four
While they are chilling, place the cream in a hot pan and warm up, but do not boil, add the white chocolate, take off the heat and stir until the chocolate is totally melted, add a splash of whisky and stir. Leave to cool down for 10 minutes

Step five
Place a generous helping of Cart D’Or Macadamia Night Ice Cream on top of the dark chocolate mousse, top with the white chocolate mixture. Lightly dust with cocoa powder and decorate with a sprig of mint, then serve up and lose yourself in chocolate heaven.
Later he showed us how to make spun sugar:
As I say, I'll do another post later with some more yummy recipes.
To fiinish off the day Jean-Christophe poured us all a coffee.
He was so sweet - he even asked me about my holiday!
We all received an unexpected cookery book from him and of course, being such a nice person he signed them for us:
The lovely Michelle from Utterly Scrummy blog was there too!
Sadly the day came to an end - but not without a picture!
A great big thank you goes to Jean-Christophe Novelli, Neil and Mel, and of course Carte D'Or for inviting me.  I had a seriously fantastic day!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Perfect Roast Chicken with Nice Crispy Skin

Get yourself a nice whole chicken, this one was free range organic and was in the seasonal box I received from The Well Hung Meat Company, from the lovely people at Knorr.
Chicken is so very easy to cook, all you need is a non-stick baking dish a little olive oil salt and black pepper.  I like to put a couple of slices lemon inside the chicken along with a few sprigs of thyme. But of course it isn't vital - it's just what I like to do.
 Lovely crispy skin - I can't imagine it does me a bit of good, but I love it!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Piri Piri Chicken - Jamie Oliver 30 Minute Meals

Jamie's Piri Piri chicken is seriously good!  Sweet from the peppers and paprika along with heat from the chilli.
I do have to say I wouldn't agree this chicken dish, along with the rocket salad and dressed potatoes, as well as the Portuguese tarts can be made in 30 minutes as stated in his book......Certainly not by me anyway!
Please don't get me wrong, in no way am I running him down - I think he's great and does some seriously fantastic food.  The book is certainly worth buying, just don't expect the dinners to take just 30 minutes that's all.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Chilli Coriander and Feta Dressed Potatoes - Jamie Oliver


Have you tried Jamie Oliver's Piri Piri Chicken from his 30 Minute Meals book?
If you haven't then you must.
Okay it took me a lot longer than 30 minutes to make the Piri Piri chicken to go with these potatoes, but hey ho it was so worth it! 
By the way, in his book he also manages to rustle up some Portuguese tarts too!
Serve with Jamie's Piri Piri chicken.  Although these 'dressed potatoes' as he calls them can be served with whatever takes your fancy.  

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Get Stuffed! with Domino's New Stuffed Crust Pizza

Domino's the pizza delivery expert have introduced a lovely optional Stuffed Crust to their medium and large pizzas.  Mozzarella cheese with a hint of garlic and herbs all crammed into Domino’s famous fresh dough. 
      With their new campaign called 'Get Stuffed' (running on TV and online) we decided to order a pizza last night to see what all the fuss is about.

Verdict!
It has to be said, the Stuffed Crust is totally yummy and delicious!
We had the 'Hot n Spicy' as it is our favorite - although we did love the 'Spanish Sizzler' and also the 'Reggae Reggae' pizza when we tried those. 

Whichever your favorite Domino's pizza topping is, the new stuffed crust has just the right amount of garlic and herbs added to the gooey cheese and wont interfere with the main taste of your chosen topping. 
 Every Domino’s Stuffed Crust is made by hand to order too for total freshness.  Something you just don't get from a ready made supermarket pizza. 

The stuffed crust is available in every UK Domino's on medium and large sized pizza's. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Spatchcock Chicken with Aubergine, Roasted Tomatoes and Feta

Readers of this blog will remember the fantastic day I had back in May with Marco Pierre White and Knorr along with a lovely bunch of other food bloggers.
Now, as if the day wasn't already just the best day out ever, there was more to come!  We were told we'd be sent three Seasonal British produce boxes courtesy of Knorr.  As I was about to go on holiday, mine was sent a little later and arrived at the end of last week.
  Well, what a treat!  The box was huge and filled with lovely fresh Organic meat from The Well Hung Meat Company, Organic Vegetables and herbs from Rod and Ben's and some Knorr stock cubes.  It was hard to take a picture but buried beneath those beetroot leaves are potatoes, cauliflower, carrots and courgettes!
  Marco Pierre White uses these stock cubes to season meat, poultry and fish which really works well.  All you do is mix a small amount of olive oil with a Knorr stock cube and mix to make a paste.  He then adds a few finely chopped herbs, mixes and spreads over the meat and cooks on a griddle. 
So what to cook with all this fantastic meat and veg??!!
Marco has just released his latest recipe 'Spatchcocked Poussin with Aubergine'.  I loved the look of anyway, but I added roasted tomatoes and some crumbled feta.  It worked really well.  Marco's recipe for this can be found over at the Knorr website along with a whole lot more great recipes too!
I used a small chicken to make this instead of Poussin. 
I'll be sure to let you know what I make with the rest of this lovely seasonal box.
A big thank you again to Jen, Knoor, The Well Hung Meat Company and Rod and Ben's.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Review of Fuerteventura Barceló Jandia Resort - Our Holiday

Well, here we are back from our holiday - what a fantastic time we had once again!  I'm hoping this review post will be useful for anyone wanting to go.
We stayed at the same hotel as we did last year as it was so good.
Jandia Beach - over 12 miles of sand:
 When you book with 'some' UK tour operators they show a picture of the Barceló Jandia Mar hotel, however it is referred to as the 'Jandia Resort'. 
Hotel - Barceló Jandia Mar:
  However, in Jandia there's also a hotel called the Barcelo Jandia Player which is next to and below the Mar as they are on a hill.
When you read the description in the holiday brochures it's confusing as the description is different to the actual Barcelo website when referring to the number of pools and al a carte restaurants there are.  
Hotel - Barceló Jandia Player:
  Before we went last year I assumed 'Resort' meant you could use the facilities in both the hotels since they were next to each other but again I couldn't be sure.  
It's true, you can use the facilities in both hotels so you have double everything - more pools and places to eat.  *If however, when you book your holiday it wasn't under the heading 'Resort' and actually states the name of the hotel then you will only have use of the hotel stated.  When booking any holiday - never assume anything, check before you book.
I read some of the bad reviews that both hotels received on sites such as Trip Adviser and all I can say is some people are just strange - we loved it this year as much as we did last year.
For the people complaining on Trip Adviser who 'found the food boring and repetitive' here are examples of what there is to eat.......I wonder what these people eat at home - probably toast every day for breakfast, and pizza and chips for dinner!
Both hotels are 'All Inclusive' board basis so you can eat and drink as much as you like and the food is excellent.

Typical Breakfast:
  Approx 8 different cereal's including muesli and porridge, yoghurt, fried egg, scrambled egg, omelet, hard boiled egg, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, baked beans, a range of different bread for you to toast if you wish. 5 or 6 different jams, honey, cheese and ham.  There was also carrots and peas, (bit strange for breakfast but hey ho)!  Salami, sliced garlic sausage and chicken.
A selection of pastries including Pain au Chocolate and croissants. 
Fresh fruit includes, apples, pears, kiwi fruit, bananas, oranges and plums. Tinned fruit included pineapple, apricots, pears and clementines.
A selection of different coffees and teas, hot chocolate and fruit juice .

Typical Lunch:
Freshly cooked fish, pork, chicken, paella, pizza, pasta, chips, rice, boiled potatoes, Canarian wrinkly potatoes with or without mojo sauce.  Fresh tomatoes, sliced onion, cucumber, lettuce, beetroot, silver-skin pickled onions, different kinds of beans in sauce or dressing, sliced ham, salami, cheese, different kinds of bread and bread rolls.
Fresh fruit includes, apples, mango, pears, kiwi fruit, bananas, oranges, grapes and plums. Tinned fruit included pineapple, apricots, pears and clementines.  
A selection of desserts too huge to name, 5 or 6 different ice creams, yoghurt, rice pudding and more!

Drinks include: Red wine, white wine or rose, sangria, San Miguel lager, fruit juice, Coke, Sprite, Fanta orange, Fanta lemon, water still or sparkling. 

Typical Dinner:
Freshly cooked fish, pork, chicken, steak, paella, pizza, pasta, sauces for pasta, chips, rice, boiled potatoes, Canarian wrinkly potatoes with or without mojo sauce, jacket potatoes, sliced baked potatoes. Two kinds of pasta and pasta bake and garlic bread.
Chilli con carne, tortillas, spicy sausages including chorizo.  Sweet and sour pork (although that wasn't too amazing in my opinion).  Meat and potato stew - usually pork or beef but I did see goat too.
King prawns and Green lipped mussels. 
Fresh tomatoes, sliced onion, cucumber, lettuce, beetroot, silver-skin pickled onions, different kinds of beans in sauce or dressing, sliced ham, salami, cheese, different kinds of bread and bread rolls.
Fresh fruit includes, apples, pears, kiwi fruit, bananas, oranges, grapes and plums. Tinned fruit included pineapple, apricots, pears and clementines.  
A selection of really fancy desserts - again too huge to name all, 5 or 6 different ice creams, yoghurt, rice pudding and more!
A selection of different cheeses and crackers.  Again drinks included Red wine, white wine or rose, sangria, San Miguel lager, fruit juice, Coke, Sprite, Fanta orange, Fanta lemon, water still or sparkling.  
Outside of the dining area you can of course have cocktails and locally produced spirits.  Brand names are also available but not included in the all inclusive deal. 

There's also the Poolside Bar.
Opening at 11am in the Mar and noon in the Player: 
Serving burgers, hotdogs, chips, pasta, salad, ham cheese and a good few other things including tubs of ice cream.


Do you think this could be the reason I put on 10lb last year on this holiday?!
I've probably missed a good few things out but anyone not finding something to eat from that lot - I feel worried for them!
Taking a walk to the bars and shops on this flat road will take about 10 to 15 minutes from the Jandia Mar hotel if you cut through the Jandia Player - making the steep hill much more easier:
The beach runs all along on the left side and the Stella Canaris zoo is to the right of this picture - although out of shot:
Altogether it will take in total about 20 to 25 minutes to reach the shops and bars on foot from the top of the Jandia Mar hotel.  A taxi is only 3 euros each way if you don't do walking.

Our fav bar to stop for a drink, la Isla - two large beers were 6 euros:
  The Stella Canaris zoo costs 7 euros each for a 7 day pass and although it's a fairly small zoo it's well worth going to.  As we often walked past it to get to the shops we popped in to feed some of the animals.  The do an excellent show from 11am to 12.30pm every day but we found the weather was too hot to sit there that long so caught bits of it on different days.
  We loved this Marabou stork - from Africa and get to 60 inches tall with a wing span of 8 and a half feet.




 There were flamingos and also a baby, bless it - I want one!  So cute, he was only 7 or 8 inches tall.


We also fed the Raccoons and discovered they like monkey nuts!



**If you are thinking of going and have any questions please email me.
Thank you for reading the longest post I've ever done!

Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream - FREE with Domino's Pizza

Now you can make Friday's even better!
Domino's the pizza delivery expert are giving away a tub of irresistible Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream absolutely FREE!
  All you have to do is spend over £20 online with Domino’s on a Friday and you'll receive Free 500ml tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
*Offer ends 12th August - so don't miss out!

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