Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Making Shredded Beef with Aldi

Not that long ago Aldi advertised that they would be selling Wagyu beef in their store and it would be arriving on a stated date.  I was sent a voucher to go into my local store to get some to review.

When I got to the store that afternoon the store had completely sold out, the manager told me they had sold out the beef in 15 minutes of it being put on the shelves. I decided to use the voucher to buy a beautiful piece of 28 day mature beef, the meat we had bought previously from Aldi has always been great quality.
It might seem a bit strange to use the slow cooker to cook such a good quality beef but I figured if using a slow cook made a cheaper piece of meat into a lovely meal then using a really good piece of meat would make a delicious meal.

I wanted to keep it simple and make it tasty.  I only added some chopped carrots, onion and celery and a little bit of water along with simple seasonings.

We spent the day at the allotment and came home to a beautiful aroma as we opened the door.

When I opened the lid of the slow cooker I found the perfectly cooked beef which I was subsequently able to shred.
I added some of the cooked vegetables to a sauce pan, thickened and pressed through a sieve to make a gravy
and served this all over spaghetti for a really tasty, simple and convenient Saturday supper.
Many thanks to Aldi for the voucher to purchse this piece of beef.  I did not receive payment to review this and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.






Sunday, 17 August 2014

What's the best time for Sunday Brunch!

Any time Sunday morning is a great time for brunch at The Snug Bar!
I have already written about The Snug Bar in St Albans, telling you of their tasty menu, fun cocktail masterclasses and now this weekend we tried their brunch menu.
I had my 6 year old granddaughter staying for the weekend and she does like a nice breakfast so we braved the rain and headed off to try the menu.
Lizzie’s face was a picture when her hot chocolate arrived, topped with whipped cream and a couple of mini marshmallows on top. 
She did mention that there were only a couple of marshmallows but soon took back her statement as she stirred the hot mixture and found it was full of mini marshmallows – Oh joy!
Lizzie tucked into the Maple Pancakes with Bacon not leaving much on her plate!
Mr R and I both had the full breakfast although he had a poached egg and I had scrambled.  The plate was full of breakfast yumminess

You can get breakfast every day but there is something decadent and special about mid-morning on a Sunday, expecially a rainy one and you are tucked up inside eating a late and leisurely breakfast and drinking lovely coffee!

We were guests of The Snug Bar, St Albans but all the opinions and photos are my own.



The Christmas Menu is coming from Pizza Express

Pizza Express has been in the UK since 1965 when they opened their first restaurant on Wardour Street in Central London.  Since then they are gone from strength to strength becoming a familiar sight on most High Streets with over 430 restaurants.
I was invited to a special event to taste their Autumn and Christmas menu items.  What a fun surprise to arrive at the chosen venue near Liverpool Street Station and see a lovely Christmas tree all ready for the festivities.
Staff walked around with each item whilst others refilled our glasses (There will be Bollinger on the menu this festive season) and we tasted our way through so many delicious new starters, main courses and desserts (I could only manage to taste two of the desserts I was so full!)

There is a range of gluten free pizzas with lovely toppings including aubergines, pancetta and eggs.  These make sure that diners with a gluten intolerance are catered for and don’t need to feel left out.  There are vegetarian options as well.
The Calzone, the Carbonara pizza was a big hit, pancetta and an egg in the middle, tuna with prawns in a spicy sauce and a shredded duck were the evening favourites with everyone talking about these the most.
Carbonara Pizza
My favourites were the Melanzane starter (baked aubergine with a lovely tomato sauce and topped with melting mozzarella cheese),
the Calzone pizza filled with spinach, ham, basil, pepperoni and lovely tastes)
– Calzone is a pizza that is filled with loads of goodies and folded in half – calzone meaning pocket in Italian so you have something to carry your pizza to work in your pocket, very much like our traditional Cornish pasty.

The puddings were truly scrumptious, a honeycomb cake, chocolate mousse torte, Christmas pudding cheese cake, seasonal chocolate rolls and a sweet dough ball.  What to choose?

We were given our goodie bag in a Christmas stocking as we left, I didn’t feel conspicuous on the train home with my furry Christmas stocking!!
Many thanks to Pizza Express for inviting me. I did not receive payment to attend and as usual all opinions and photographs are my own.












Tuesday, 12 August 2014

My Weekend Kitchen Helper!

Le Petit Chef have produced a knife and peeler just perfect for those little hands and fingers looking to get involved with you in the kitchen.

I was sent the three piece set to encourage my grandchildren have a go helping me in the kitchen.  The knife is a nice size and easy for little hands to keep hold of.
They are most suitable for 5-10 year olds. They are very intent on children learning the correct positioning and handling of kitchen tools and safety, teaching them with the finger guard how to cut without cutting themselves.

The tools are robst and teach good knife skills.

My granddaughter used the set sent to me to cut up the ingredients for us to make a courgette soup from some of the allotment courgettes.
She picked it up really quickly, using the finger guard like a pro!
We made the courgettes into soup, with Lizzie peeling the rest of the vegetables with the peeler included in the three piece kit. 
Once the vegetables were prepared, seasoned and cooked I blitzed it into soup with the stick blender I had been sent from Stellar. A 750Watt brushed stainless steel stick blender with an easy to use, illuminated display.
This stick blender is quite lightweight and easily comes apart for cleaning. There is a very smooth lock/unlock feature with just a twist.
It has variable speeds - I only used it on slow and WOW what power. I think I am too afraid to see what happens when I push the 'Turbo' button!! The Turbo button gives you all the extra power you need when you need it.
The result was a lovely, creamy courgette soup for Mr R to have for lunch at work this week!

Many thanks to Le Petit Chef and Stellar for sending me their products to review.  I was not paid to review the items and as always all opinions, comments and photos are my own.


Monday, 11 August 2014

Blossom Hill Sun Kissed and Summery - A White and A Red

When the summer is as fantastic as we are currently having the main meal becomes BBQ washed down by a fresh and summery wine or beer.
Blossom Hill have released a summery and fruity white and red wine that fits the summer criteria perfectly.  The red is more like a rose with a deeper colour and benefits from being served cold.

I made beer can chicken last weekend and served it with potatoes, BBQ courgettes and accompanied by a lovely chilled red Blossom Hill and a chilled white Blossom Hill too.
You can drink them straight or make up some summery cocktails like adding elderflower cordial and soda water to the Blossom Hill Sun Kissed white wine.

This wine is in the major supermarkets now.

Thanks to Blossom Hill for the new Summer Kissed Wines to try. I was not paid to write this review (or drink the wine!) and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Courgette (Zucchini) Relish

This time of the year one might find ones self with a glut of courgettes and our allotment is no different.  I have been using courgettes in loads of different ways the last 2-3 weeks but when you get too many to cope with this recipe is perfect. 
I have so far made two batches (each batch yielding 16 jars).  It takes a bit of time to prep everything but the actual making is fast and simple.
10 cups coarsly chopped courgettes
3 green peppers
2 red peppers
3 large onions
3 stalks of celery
1-3 chilli peppers depending on taste
5 Tablespoons salt
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 Tablespoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)

Into a large bowl add the chopped
courgettes, red peppers, green peppers, celery and onions.  Sprinkle with the salt and mix well.
Let the vegetables stand over night.
Drain the vegetables then rinse thoroughly with cold water.
Drain and rinse again.

Place in a large pan (preserving pan is perfect).
Stir in the vinegar, sugar, nutmeg, mustard seeds, tumeric, celery seeds, pepper, chilli and cornflour.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Seal with jam pot covers and allow to cool

This is the perfect relish to serve with burgers, sausages and BBQ chicken.
Because it is a relish and not a chutney you can eat it right away but it does improve with age.  Refrigerate after opening.

As usual all photos and opinions are my own.





Blackberry Cobbler - or any other fruit you have!

A typical dessert in America is called a cobbler and usually has a fruit in it. Most of the time you will come across peach or apple cobblers.

As usual I have rather a lot of blackberries from my allotment and you guessed it - blackberry cobbler!
Microwave 1/2 cup of butter and keep aside.

In a large bowl add 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of Self raising flour.

Whisk into the flour/sugar 1 cup of milk and 1tsp vanilla bean paste.

Add the melted butter.

Pour into a well greased shallow baking dish.
Sprinkle over 2 cups blackberries and then 1/4 cup of sugar on the top.
Bake in the middle of the oven - 350oF/180oC.

Cool slightly then serve with ice cream or thick double cream!!!
You can add chopped peaches or apple slices instead of the blackberries.

All opinions and photos are as usually mine!