Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Literary Corner - Spring Book Reviews

Recently I have been sent quite a few books to review so thought I would do a multiple book review. Here are some of my favourites:-

Great British Cooking by Carolyn Caldicott with photographs by Chris Caldicott
Having travelled the world in search of great food and years as restaurateurs Carolyn and Chris have produced a book that is full of the quintessential Great British food, meals that will conjure up memories of family Sunday lunches to after school evening suppers you will find it in this book.  There are great cooking tips and photographs to accompany each recipe as well.

Keep British food traditions alive with recipes for Bubble & Squeek, Kedgeree & Kippers, English Rarebit, Cornish Pasties & Bedfordshire Clangers, Jam Roly-Poly with Custard and Queen of Puddings and of course the one and only Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings so much a part of our heritage!

This book is published by Frances Lincoln (part of Quarto Publishing UK) priced £12.99.

Noodle Kids by Jonathon Sawyer
Every culture seems to love noodles in one for or another; Italian pasta, Japanese ramen or Spanish fideo.  This book not only addresses all kinds of 'noodles' but encourages children to help which always makes them more interested in eating the final results.

There are tips on how to shop for noodles as well as
how to cook noodles
with comments, hints and tips from a friendly character called Noodle Cat.
Noodle Kids encourages the children to help make their dinner and get involved in the mealtime process.  It is published by Quarry Books with a cover price of £16.99.

One-Pot Gourmet Gardener by Cinead McTernan
takes you through the processes of growing in pots and containers but with a difference.  You can grow everything you need for a single dish in a single pot or container.

There are 25 cleaver recipes for salads, soups, quick suppers and more that are all grown together. The book goes through the basics of choosing your container and pots, seeds and tools as well as how to get a great compost for growing your plants.  Each recipe has a 'Grow Me', Cook Me' and 'Eat Me' page making it as easy as sowing 1, 2 & 3!
I have some containers on the allotment which I think I will try growing one soup and one stew as per this book.  I will keep you informed how it goes on my allotment blog.

This book is published by Frances Lincoln (part of Quarto Publishing UK) and is priced at £16.99

I received the books as mentioned above for review. I was not paid to write positive reviews.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Flahavans - Porridge for breakfast

Overnight fruit and yoghurt porridge

My first breakfast for Flahavans #PerfectPorridge challenge is a great way of having porridge, fruit and yoghurt ready when you get up but it is also portable meaning if you are not a great breakfast eater you can take it to work and have it when you are ready.
Mix together 40gm Flahavans rolled oats with 75ml of milk, add 1 Tbsp coconut oil and one pot of your favourite fruit yohurt really well and put into a small Kilner jar or other lidded jar. Top with a layer of fresh fruit (the same fruit as the yoghurt is a good idea) or if you want just use some local runny honey or jam (as below) which you can add in the morning.
Pop the jar into the fridge and leave it overnight and that is as complicated as it gets.  You can heat up in the microwave to take the chill off or eat it straight away.  I usually take mine to work to eat once I have settled down at my desk.
Either way Flahavans rolled oats provide you with a full stomach for the morning thus helping you to avoid those mid morning nibbles which we all know don’t do you any good unless they are fruit.

Coming soon, recipes for:-
1.       Breakfast flapjacks, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, linseed and peanut butter.
2.       Oatmeal muffins, bars

For these recipes follow my blog so you don’t miss out as they will be coming in a week or so.

Thanks to Flahavan's for the #perfectporridge hamper.  I was not paid to write this post or the recipes and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Aldi wine pairing - with chocolate!

It is very popular these days to pair wine and food but at the end of the day these are just suggestions and no substitute for personal tastes.

Chocolate was popular in Mexico over 3000 years ago although originally a dark, thick drink called Xocolatl or bitter water.  Chocolate has come a long way since then with the addition of sugar it has ceased to be a luxury for the upper classes and made into an everyday, must have treat.

Aldi are known for their supermarket prices rivaling the high street supermarkets but most people don't think of them as players in the wine and spirit game.  They do, however, have a wide range of wines, liquers and cocktails and I have been asked to think about their range of chocolates and how them could possibly go together.

One of their ranges is Moser Roth Privat Chocolatiers, come in a range of flavours and each box contains 5 individually wrapped pieces.
Cream Sherry is sweet and thick as wee as creamy and decadent. It is my choice to have the Aldi Mosser Roth Caramel, a smooth milk chocolate with crunchy caramel pieces. The hint of caramel works really well with the sweet smoothness of the Cream Sherry.
Mr R often drinks cognac and Drambuie which has a slight orange taste. I thought therefore that the Chevalier Cognac would go really well with the Mousse au Chocolat (Orange mousse whipped inside dark 85% cocoa.
Aldi's Shiraz red wine has a peppery backnote and goes really well with their Dark 70% Cocoa bars of chocolate. 70% Cocoa has a nice smooth, dark flavour but not giving the impression of a dark astringent chocolate and able to hold it's own with the Shiraz.
The Cream Sherry is a winner as well with both the Mousse au Chocolate and the Orange & Almond (an orange flavoured dark chocolate with almond pieces).  The orange fruit is mirrored in the sweetness of the sherry.
Port is a fortified red wine and the Moser Roth dark chocolates (70% and 85% cocoa) make a great partnership.  Take a sip of port and place a square of the 85% chocolate and let it melt in your mouth with the port.  The dark chocolate will bring out the fruitiness of the port.

All of Aldi's chocolates are made with UTZ certified cocoa, which stands for sustainable cocoa farming and better opportunities for the farmers and their families. Chocolate producers associated with the UTZ are located in parts of Africa, Central and South America as well as Thailand and Vietnam.  For more information click here

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Stellar Tate - A new concept in draining your food

We all love to get new things for the kitchen, I know I sure do. Do I need another cooking pan? Of course when it has a unique feature or two!

Stellar, known for their impressive range of cookware have brought out a high performance range of cooking pans and casseroles.
For starters the glass lid is flat! This makes it really easy to stack in the pan cup board.
Secondly the flat lid is useful for straining straight from the pot enabling you to get every last drop of water out without dumping half the potatoes or pasta down the drain!
The lid has a handy lock-on system on the handles which enables you to hold it securely, without transferring the heat to your hands and drain your food effectively.

The range comes in 3 sizes of Draining Saucepan; 1.2L, 1.7L and 2.5L as well as three Draining Casseroles; 2.5L, 3.5L and 4.5L, the full range offering you a range of draining cookware for everything from frozen peas to family pasta meals!

Click here to see where you can currently get hold of some of these super saucepans and casseroles.

I was sent a Stellar Tate Draining Casserole to try. All opinions and photos are my own.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Gilgamesh Launch New Champagne Bar

Gilgamesh, the well known pan-Asian restaurant in Stables Market, Camden has recently launched its new Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Champagne Bar.  I was invited to the launch evening and really can’t stress enough how lovely it is.
The setting looks out over Stables Market and as the evening darkened the lights began to twinkle outside offering a very different perspective from the busy and bustling market during the day.
The Belle Epoque Champagne Bar is designed to give an allure of Paris with a most impressive champagne list, bottle of Perrier Jouet ranging from £65 to very rare £850 per bottle!  The bar is just inside Gilgamesh with its impressive menu and stunning wooden panel carvings.
You can pop into the Bell Epoque Champagne Bar to relax and catch up on emails, have a glass of champagne or a cocktail,
meet with a colleague, relax after shopping or have a celebration – any excuse to sip champagne in such a lovely surrounding is a good reason for me!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Rhubarb, ginger and lemongrass cake

I have a gorgeous rhubarb cluster growing at the allotment. This is now the very start of the short but fantastic English rhubarb season and anxious to sample I picked my first load last weekend.
I have made a cake on this blog before called 'American 1-2-3-4 Cake' which I made with apple puree. For this cake I wanted to use my rhubarb however decided to leave the pieces a bit chunky instead of a puree.
Also wanting to add a bit of extra flavour I added 1 tablespoon of ginger and lemongrass cordial to both the cake mix and the drizzle.

I like to get all my ingredients weighed out and dry ingredients mixed and ready to go.


1 cup softened butter
2 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (the original recipe used vanilla extract but I like the little flecks from the vanilla bean paste)
1 teaspoon ginger & lemongrass cordial
4 large eggs
3 cups Self Raising Flour
1 tsp salt
2-3 cups cooked rhubarb

1 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp ginger & lemongrass cordial
2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 180oC/350oC. Grease a 9" x 13" pan

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (the more you cream the lighter and more voluminous your cake will be).

Add the eggs one at a time and beating each one really well. If you want you can add 1 Tbsp of the flour after each one to stop them splitting. Then add the vanilla bean paste and ginger & lemongrass cordial.
Gradually add the flour and salt and beat until really well combined. If you want you can add a tablespoon of milk at this point.
Put about half of the cake mixture into the prepared pan. Spread the fruit mixture over the top and then dollop the rest of the cake mixture onto the fruit.
You don't need to spread this top.
Bake for approximately 35 minutes although mine took another 10 minutes (ovens do vary).

Allow the cake to cool to just warm and then make the glaze by mixing the four ingredients together
and drizzling over the top.
Then all that is left to do is ...... ENJOY!

I shall be linking this post to The Great British Rhubarb Recipe Round-Up.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Giveaway - Kids Cook French - cookbook

Kids Cook French (Les Enfants Cuisinent A La Francaise) by Claudine Pepin with illustrations by Jacques Pepin.
My granddaughter is learning some basic French at school. She really enjoyed looking through this book.
This is an interactive book which teaches children to cook in a fun and unusual way and at the same time introduces them to another culture in language and cuisine.

There are recipes for French classics such as Croque Monsieur, Boeuf Bourguignon and Crepes both in English and in French.

Kids Cook French is published by Quarry Books (part of the Quarto Publishing Group UK)

If you would like to win a copy of this book for your budding chef just follow the instructions below. A winner will be chosen at random and the prize will be sent by the publishers directly to the winner. This giveaway is open to UK residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was sent a copy of this book but was not paid to write a positive review. As usual all opinions and photos are my own.