Saturday, 31 March 2012

Sweetcorn Fritters with Old Bay Seasoning

Not the best picture in the world but these fritters were rather nice indeed!
Sweetness of the corn with spring onion and the spices of 'Old Bay Seasoning'.  A perfect match - shaped into fritters and shallow fried.
Another of my make it up as I go along recipes.
Serve alongside some salsa with whatever else you fancy.
If you don't have any Old Bay seasoning you can of course use paprika or cayenne pepper and you'll still have yummy fritters.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Two Greedy Italians DVD - a Review

A new DVD from the Two Greedy Italians is to be released next week (2nd April) and available to pre-order right now.
Features Jamie Oliver mentors Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo.
  In each of the four hour long episodes the pair create dishes using ingredients and influences they discover along their gastronomic journey.  They travel through different Italian regions and uncover a changed Italy in some areas and a fiercely traditional, mostly untouched world in others.

 This DVD is funny, interesting and very entertaining and here are just a couple of snippets of what to expect!

 Gennaro tries to seduce Antonio (yes you read right)!

Gennaro tries to find a wife for Antonio by joining a dating agency and Antonio then has a dinner date with 'Erica' a lovely girl but turns out to be half his age!

The Two Greedy Italians visit a pasta factory and later cook up a stew and  polenta.

The DVD comes with four recipe cards and is available to pre-order now over at Amazon.  Oh and by the way, a new series of Two Greedy Italians airs on BBC2 in April.
Thank you to Pete for sending me a copy of the DVD to review.
Technical information: Feature running time: 4h approx
Language: English
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Disks: 2

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Eazistore Bakeware and Perfect Roast Potatoes!

There's nothing quite like a good and proper roast potato with your Sunday dinner.  However, in order to perfect them, you really do need a good roasting tin and a non stick one is vital.
The Stellar Eazistore nesting bakeware set is not only non stick but you get five essential baking products all fitting nicely into one!
I am most definitely in need anything that saves space as my kitchen is silly small.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Roasted Fennel and Baby Tomatoes with Parmesan

Totally delicious and really simple to make.  Fennel becomes something truly special when it's roasted and topped with a good handful of Parmesan.  Add a few baby tomatoes into the roasting dish and you're in for a treat!
  Everyone seems to think that fennel goes with fish and that's it. 
Not true - roasted fennel goes well with loads of different foods including pan-fried chicken for one.  
That said fennel is either something you love or hate - a bit like Marmite! 
It can be eaten raw (slice very thinly and use in salads).  Fennel is quite anisseedy in taste, although once coked the flavour becomes more mellow.

Judge Jubilee Milk or Sauce Pot - Review

My first impressions:  What a lovely looking sauce pot!  Nicely polished stainless steel, I think it looks great and is just the very fellow for making sauces, custard or gravy.

Whenever I make gravy for the Sunday roast I moan about our saucepan taking forever to heat up due to the pan being far too thick and not distributing heat efficiently.  
Now, having been sent this Judge Jubilee milk/sauce pot to try it seems I now won't have that problem anymore!

The thick thermic base distributes heat evenly and I found it heated up the gravy in no time at all. 
There's a handy measuring guide inside the pot too and all the pans in the Jubilee range can be used on ALL hob types even induction hobs.

I love the straight sided design and the sturdy looking oven safe handle.  Surprisingly, all the while I was stirring the gravy the handle didn't get too hot at all.

I did think I might have a bit of trouble with the gravy sticking to the pan, but it didn't stick at all.
Although it is dishwasher safe, I found it very easy to clean by hand.  Just hot soapy water and nothing more than an ordinary washing up brush was all  I needed.  The sauce pot came up shiny like a new pin and you wouldn't know I'd used it!  

Every pan is the Jubilee range comes with the Judge 25 year guarantee and a 10 year non stick guarantee for the frying and saute pans - now that can't be bad. 
Apparently Judge frying pans and saute pans have 'Excalibur' non stick system that is AMAZING I'm told.    

Having read about it, it says it is the toughest, longest lasting, most durable non-stick coating in the world!......I need to try one one these pans to find out for myself!   

For more information pop over to Judge Cookware.
Thank you to Pam and Judge for sending me this to review, my gravy and sauces will be much less trouble from now on! 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Hotel Chocolat Extra Thick Chocolate Egg - Review

Hotel Chocolat very kindly delivered us one of their Extra Thick Easter Eggs to try.  Named 'Serious Dark Fix,' it certainly lives up to its name!
The egg arrived well packaged and in perfect condition.  The actual egg packaging looks expensive too with a lovely black bow finishing it off.  Priced at £26 - I'd say it is certainly worth the money.

 The 'Serious Dark Fix' egg is made of 70% dark chocolate which really is very nice and thick.  As the name suggests it's a real chocolate fix for any chocolate lover!  
Two egg halves - one studded with crunchy cocoa nibs.  Inside the shells there are 14 chocolates with the most amazing fillings from rum, chilli praline, raspberry liqueur and salted caramel and more.
 Of course there are more Extra Thick Chocolate Eggs in the Easter egg collection including milk chocolate too if dark chocolate isn't your thing. 

Thank you to Beth and Hotel Chocolat for sending us one to try.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Riverford Organic Vegetables - Chicken Farming and Ploughing Fields!

This Broccoli was so fresh when it was delivered and so delicious to eat. 
I was kindly sent a vegetable box to review from the lovely people at Riverford Organic Vegetables.
The delivery driver was lovely.  He had a nice smiley face, introduced himself and then went on to explain what was in the box.  He pointed out that a small recipe booklet had also been included.  There was even a leaflet on how and where is best to store the veg.  The Riverford magazine was also in the box and contained more recipes along with the latest news on what was happening down at the farm.

All the vegetables arrived in tip top condition and all that was left for me to do was unpack the box then think up what to cook with them!
Carrots, Leeks, Potatoes, Broccoli, Greens, Mushrooms, Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes were all faultless.
  Riverford can also deliver organic meat and poultry.  Fruit, herbs, cheese and much more to your door.  The vegetable boxes start at just £10.35

How Riverford began:
Riverford began in Devon in 1987, delivering to 30 local homes. Word spread, and with it came the challenge of how to meet demand without compromising a commitment to local growing and employment, supporting local farmers and keeping a close link between grower and consumer.
From there they've gone onwards and upwards and now have four farms delivering to around 40,000 homes per week! 
The company has won many awards including Best Online Retailer 2010 and 2011.

Riverford are a mine of information on everything from chicken farming, ploughing fields, cooking ideas and loads more.
Pop over to Riverford Organic and have a look and you can find some lovely recipes too.

I think you'll find these videos interesting.
 Alternative to Battery Chicken Farming:

Ploughing at Riverford Organic farm:
Thank you to Josephina and Riverford Organic for sending me this box to try.

Bake a Cake - Slice it and then Keep it Fresh!

Readers of this blog will know I'm not too good when it comes to baking cakes.  However, armed with the right equipment in the form of this Spring Form Cake, Slice and Carrier from Premier Housewares the whole thing was made much easier.
    As you can see the cake tin is 'spring form' which means you can undo the clip at the side and your cake is easily removed from the tin after baking.
It's a bit like tightening a belt to bake the cake and then undoing the belt to remove it - marvelous!

   I found this so easy to use, all you do is line the base with greaseproof paper but there's no need to line the sides, just grease or flour the sides and it'll be fine.
I must point out that the instructions on the packaging did not say you have to line the tin with greaseproof paper.  Although this is probably obviously to anyone that is used to making cakes, I felt this should be included in the instructions just to help people like me!
Anyway, having first checked with a friend I was informed that although it isn't necessary to line the bottom of the tin because the spring form will ensure the mixture doesn't leak out.  Lining with greaseproof paper does help to guarantee non stick and people that bake tell me it's the thing to do when baking!
When your cake emerges from the oven you can be sure it will not end up stuck in the tin because of the spring form, which can only be a good thing!
It was really easy to clean afterwards - just wash in hot soapy water and rinse and dry.
There's even a cake slice built into the lid too so you've got no chance of loosing it. Just bake your cake, then slice it and then store it.
  The plastic twist on lid keeps your cake nice and fresh.
A fantastic piece of kit for any cake maker.

The Cake and Slice is available over at Amazon and at the time of writing is just £24.90 with FREE delivery.
Thank you to Pam for sending me this to review.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

How to Make Huevos Rancheros - Eggs Mexican-Style

Eggs cooked in a spicy Mexican style tomato, pepper and bean chilli mixture served in individual bowls.  Up to the point before adding the eggs you can make these earlier the same day - ideal if you have guests coming.
 Huevos Rancheros is a classic Mexican breakfast dish of which there are many different versions - this is my experiment but it worked! 

Crispy crunchy tortillas for dipping and a dollop of soured cream is all that's needed.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Camembert Baked in the Box with Bacon Dust

Melty, sticky, gooey cheese that oozes from its box and topped with bacon dust.  Ready in no time and all that's needed is fresh crusty bread and you're all set to dive in. 
With some bacon in the fridge in need of being used up what to do but make bacon dust!
  Having had a bit of a Google I think I just might have invented this as there seems to be no other baked Camembert with bacon dust recipes to be found. 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

How to Remove Onion Garlic and Fish Odor from Your Hands!

There are many weird and wonderful ideas out there on how to rid your hands of cooking odors such as onion, garlic and fish.  However, many of them seem a bit of a faff to me involving lemons and even tomato juice.
Now, I've seen these stainless steel soap bars before and never really looked twice at them as I didn't think they would work.
 Oh but they do! 
I'm forever chopping onions and garlic this works a treat.  You just wash your hands under running water with the steel soap bar for 40 seconds and then of course, wash your hands in the normal fashion with your usual hand wash.
Seriously, all smell of onion, garlic and fish - GONE!
Amazing but don't be asking me how it works - some kind of scientific thing I think!
This Stainless steel soap bar retails at around £4 and comes with its own holder and you can pop over to Judge to find out your local stockist.

Thanks to Pam for sending me this - my hands are now smell free!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Jan's Roasted Pepper Salsa Recipe

Salsa is the perfect side dish to my cheesy topped spicy potato wedges - recipe to follow.  Slight cooking involved in this as you have to char your peppers!  Roasting them till they're nicely charred results in soft, sweet and delicious peppers.
   Of course roasted peppers can be used in whatever else you fancy - you don't have to make salsa with them.
A nice bit of charring going on there, I think you'll agree?
Salsa doesn't need to be really spicy hot - but personally I can't quite see why you wouldn't want it at least a bit spicy.

Stellar Acid Etched Graters - a Review

Wow!  Now I love these and I think every cook should have the whole set.  Stellar acid etched graters are easy to use, made of Stainless steel, and are extremely sharp!  There are five graters in the range and here I have two of them.
Effortless grating with a comfortable handle and a nice rubber grip at the bottom so they don't slip.
Of course if you use the whole length of the grater you'll get nice long ribbons, but if you only use the bottom half you'll get short ribbons!
Parmesan shavings in no time at all and vegetables are just as easy too.  
All the graters in the range are dishwasher safe and have a lifetime guarantee. 

Now that I have these, I honestly won't buy any other brand and I'm now in need of the zester!

What does Acid Etched mean?:
It means they are not manufactured in the usual way of punching steel.
Each edge has been formed by acid resulting in a cutting surface so sharp they should be sold with the safety pusher ensuring fingers are kept away!
The result is effortless grating with lasting sharpness. 

They retail at £9.99 and the safety pusher is £1.25 and are available from Stellar Cookware

Thank you to Pam for sending me these - they really are brilliant!

New - Sweetcorn Bites from Barfoots

Oooh we love sweetcorn and was pleased to receive Sweetcorn Bites New from Barfoots to try.
Each bag contains 8 little bites of corn which are just perfect for children and so good for them too.  I really wish I had a child to feed them to as I just know kids would love them.  They can of course, be eaten straight from the bag as a snack without any cooking involved. 
The Verdict:
They really are the ultimate in convenience food - just snip open the top of the packet, add 1 tablespoon of water and pop into the microwave for 4 minutes on high and you have perfectly cooked corn.
Far better than tinned sweetcorn and with the summer on its way (hopefully) they will be just great wrapped in foil with a good pinch of black pepper a tiny pinch of salt and a knob of butter then cooked on the BBQ!
They were nice and sweet and a lovely golden colour.  Mine were unfortunately a bit/lot squashed on delivery hence there are no actual pictures from me.  A bit of a shame but they still tasted good!
Since it isn't quite BBQ weather just yet - here's how I cooked them:
I sprinkled the corn bites with finely chopped red chilli pepper and a pinch of chilli powder, then microwaved them in the bag with a tablespoon of water and they were perfectly cooked in 4 minutes.  When they were done I added a nice fat knob of butter and that was that!   
 Made on a working farm in Sussex, Sweetcorn Bites are the perfect healthy snack.   They are completely natural and with nothing artificial added, they’re a brilliant source of nutrition, containing carotenoids, vitamins A, B3 and C, plus Folic Acid, fibre, carbohydrates, sugars and protein for energy.

Available from Ocado and selected stores at Tesco, Waitrose and Co-op
  Sweetcorn Bites have a FaceBook page too!

 Thank you to Kelly and Barfoots of Botley for sending us some to try.  
FRESH is Certainly Best!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Cupcake Collection Sabichi Kitchen Linen - a Review

Sabichi textiles have some lovely kitchen linen including this design called 'Cupcakes'.  Nice, bright and cheery looking, ideal for any cook or baker!
 Kitchen towels, an apron, double oven glove and a single oven mit.
There are lots of different designs to choose from and they're available separately too which means you can collect the set over a couple of months if you wish.

 Set of 3 Tea Towels:
Made of 100% cotton and measure 40x60cm and of course are machine washable.  I found you do have to wash them a few times before they will dry dishes properly.  I'm not put off them at all though as that's almost always the case with any new tea towel.  Once they have been washed a couple of times they're lovely and soft and dry dishes well.

The Kitchen Apron:
Made of 100% cotton and again this is machine washable.  The apron measures 70x75cm and had a nice big pocket.  This must be the first apron I haven't had to turn over at the waist!  I'm only 5 feet 2 inches and most aprons are too long - but this one is marvelous!
The Double Oven Glove:
Made of 100% cotton with the wadding being 100% polyester and is machine washable.  The padding is nice and thick and I think you can see from my close up picture the quality is really good too.
The Single Oven Glove:
Made of 100% cotton with the nice wadding made of 100% polyester.  Again this is machine washable too.  Lovely BIG glove that comes half way up your arm so it's just the job to stop you burning yourself as I often do.

All are available through Sabichi Textiles and you can find out more over on their FaceBook page.

Thank you to Pam and Sabichi for sending me these to review.

Food and Wine Pairing - The Chablis Wine Challenge!

I was recently sent two different bottles of Chablis wine to taste and to take part in a food and wine pairing challenge.  Now, there are plenty of wine experts out there but I'm certainly not one of them!
The idea behind the challenge is to ask food bloggers that have no experience in wine, or food and wine pairing, to see what ideas they come up with that could work.  Hopefully showing that you genuinely don’t need to be a wine expert to be able to enjoy wine, and food pairing and it’s something that everyone can do!
 Now as I said I'm certainly no expert.  Both bottles of wine had a clear clarity to them.  One bottle was gold in colour with the second bottle being a lot paler and more of a lemon colour.  I've no real idea why but we both said the gold coloured wine tasted far better than the other bottle - and interestingly it was the more expensive of the two.  Trust me to like that one more!
There was a lovely fruit aroma with a citrus lemony taste with a hint of vanilla and oak (you can tell I'm really getting into this wine tasting now)!  
Oh and before anyone asks - I didn't read the label as it was all in French! Probably though, if an expert were to taste the same two bottles of wine they'd be sure to say something completely different!
Chablis is a dry wine and although I usually drink red wine these were both very nice to drink.
 Now for My Chablis Wine and Food Pairing Verdict! 
I picked three different foods that I thought the wine would go well with:
In no particular order, Pan-fried Chicken with Lemon and Thyme would be great. The lemon in the chicken, I thought would bring out the lemony flavors already found in the wine.
Another dish that would go well would be my Prawn Linguini with Chorizo and Sun-dried Tomatoes.  This dish has a slight heat from the chilli which I think goes so well with Chablis wine.  The lovely smokiness from the Chorizo somehow brings out the oak aroma too.
 And finally it had to be Baked Camembert with Crispy Crunchy Bruschetta.
Oh yes - a sip of wine and a dip of bruschetta in the lovely melty, gooey cheese.....and another sip of wine.....and another dip in the cheese! 
Chablis and Baked Camembert totally go together.
 Thank you to St├ęphanie for inviting me to take up this exciting challenge.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Carte Noire Instinct Wholebean Instant Coffee - a Review

Carte Noire have just added Instinct - a Wholebean Instant coffee to their range.  Recently I was sent some to try but as I'm more of a tea drinker the official tasting was handed over to Paul the husband..... 
 Here's what he said:
I can really taste the difference to the instant coffee I usually drink - this has a lovely smooth taste.  

It isn't bitter at all like some coffee I've had in the past.....(is he suggesting my choice of shopping is sometimes quite poor)?!  

 The instructions suggest you add one to two spoonfuls to your cup and mix with hot water that's just off the boil.  Paul thought one spoonful was enough and he's not a one for weak coffee.

 And now for my two penneth:
The packaging is fancy looking and I am a one for nice packaging!
The tub has a plastic clip on lid with a foil and a ring pull underneath that you pull off at first use, and then use the plastic lid to keep your coffee fresh and dry.

Carte Noire is a premium coffee a blend of 100% Arabica beans and is available in all major supermarkets in a 100g tin RRP of £4.99 and an 80g refill pack RRP £3.49
You can find out more and request a sample over at the Carte Noire FaceBook Page.
Thank you to Alex for sending us some to try.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Zassenhaus Digital Kitchen Scales - a Review

These trendy retro design Zassenhaus digital kitchen scales are great for baking with their add and weigh tare feature - read more about this below.  Don't worry if blue isn't your colour as they are available in a choice of five more!
 The scales feature a traditional weighing scale image on the weighing surface for effect.  The slide-out digital display shows the readings and I love the nice big, easy to read display.
 Despite the weighing surface looking like it's embossed, it is totally flat and smooth. It's made from glass which makes it really easy to keep clean.   
I really like that the digital reader tucks neatly away into the base of the unit when not in use with with just a slight push.
It's really easy to change between imperial and metric units and has tare operation allowing you to add and weigh other ingredients at the press of a button which sets the scales to zero and ready to weigh again.
The scales have auto shut-off (after one minute) saving on battery power if you do forget to press the button to turn them off yourself.
The scales can weigh up to 5kg in 1 gram units.

They also come supplied with a button cell battery which is easily replaced.
I thought the scales are really good quality and are 230mm x 140mm x 17mm in size - which is not too big and not too small either!
They retail at around £30 and are available from TopGourmet

 Thank you Pam for kindly sending me these to review.