Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Black Glass Touch Range - Russell Hobbs

I have been very lucky being associated with Russell Hobbs products and have been sent some great things to try and to write about.

Recently I received their new Black Glass Touch range of kettle and toaster and I must say their timing couldn't have been better.

Last year our toaster broke and I had taken great care chosing it so now that it was broken and I wanted to replace it,  I found out that the model was no longer available.  Being rather spoilt I wasn't going to have a toaster if it wasn't the one I really wanted and managed to convince Mr R to use the grill instead.  I am not really a great fan of toast so it was not entirely a hardship for me to use the grill now and again!!

Following on this theme our kettle started to leak after years of service making my much loved cup of coffee at all hours of the day!  Funny enough it was a really old Russell Hobbs that had been passed down to me about 6 years ago so it was ready to retire anyway.

I couldn't have been more pleased to be sent the new Black Glass Touch range toaster and kettle from Russell Hobbs through their PR agency Cirkle  to use and let you all know how we got on.

For starters the outside is sleek and shiny (hence the name Black Glass Touch) easily operated by buttons on the front which are lit up in blue circles once you touch the panel to activate. There are several different temperatures to choose from.  The rationale is that you need rapidly boiling water for tea but if you use boiling water for coffee you risk spoiling the oils present in the drink and ending up with a bitter tasting brew.  In this instance you simply select a lower temperature on the display panel.  The lights flash and when they stop flashing the appliance has reached the selected temperature. The lights go out and the appliance goes to sleep if it is not used after a reasonable period of time.

I would mention, however, that the sensor which opens the lid when you press the button on the top is not very sensitive.  Sometimes I give up and release the lid with my finger but aside from that we have been very pleased with the new addition to the kitchen!
Mr R squeeled with delight when he saw the Black Glass Touch toaster (to me it was simply an appliance to make bread hot!).

Again you have the sleek lines and shiny exterior and loads more blue lights which flash as the time is decreasing until the toast is ready and when it is done.  There is enough room for two slices of bread or three crumpets and the area is quite wide so you can use quite thick bread.  Mr R found the next thickness of bead after 'thick' which was called 'doorstop' and was in his own little toastie world! There is really not a lot else one can say about kettles and toasters - they make things hot!

Which means I am off to attack the ironing pile now.  Did I mention my new Russell and Hobbs iron? No, well come back another time to hear all about that!!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Luigi's Oil

I recently had the pleasure to meet a lovely lady who lives in Enfield, North London and whose family makes olive oil.  ( Sounds an unlikely combination but it is perfectly logical really.

Salvina Mendola's family come from Sicily a small island belonging to Italy.  Her family own an olive grove and produce a cold pressed olive oil.  Salvina and her brother have recently taken over the marketing of the oil and have started bringing it to the UK in huge drums and bottling it here to keep the costs to the consumer down.

Salvina and her brother spend most of their time in the UK with an uncle and other family members looking after the olives and then in November they take their holiday and head back to Sicily to help with the harvest and olive oil production.  Then it's all hands on the deck and Salvina and they other women take up residence in the kitchen and make food for the workers, who by the way have voracious appetites when working in the groves!

The product range is currently small but Salvina has ideas for expanding into soaps and scrubs made from the oil and more. Currently you can get the cold pressed sicilia extra virgin oil (this has a lovely, clean taste and the smell takes you to a field overlooking an olive grove with the warm sun on your head and shoulders and a cool breeze flowing through your hair) and an oil infused with Chilli (this bottle has a slight red tinge and lots of shimmering chilli flakes floating around almost like flecks of gold)

Salvina gave me a bottle of each of the oils to try at home and she would love to attend some local markets and events to promote her product. They are simply labelled and pleasantly packaged.

She will post the oil or if you live within a reasonable distance from North London she will even deliver it personally.  It's an idea to get together with friends and split the postage.

I wouldn't waste this oil in cooking but pour it onto a fresh salad, roasted peppers, sliced mozarella or a baked aubergine and transport yourself back to a little island in southern Italy.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Food You Can't Say No To - Book Review

Its' always exciting to get a copy of a new book and ever more so before the official publication date so I jumped at the offer from Quadrille Books ( to have a look at this new work out by Tamasin Day-Lewis.  Tamasin writes for people who love food and want to get the best out of their time in the kitchen with simple, inviting and yet incredibly tasty recipes.  She has written several cook books since her first publicaton in 2007 and regularly writes for magazines such as Vogue, Sainsbury's Magazine and Stella (the magazine included with The Telegraph newspaper)

Tamasin has also appeared in two television series and it was one of these that I first became aware of her.  I liked her easy presenting (looking great and comfortable in jeans and casual shirt) and having such an easy style.  Her language style is eloquent and flowing but not gratuitous.  I have spent hours deciding which recipe to try first and enjoying hearing Tamasin as I read it.  I felt as if she was talking directly to me and was quite disappointed when she didn't hand me a plate of what she had just cooked!!

I have spent loads of time trying to decide which recipe to make for this review but there were so many great sounding recipes such as Smoked Mackerel Pate with Capers, Red Onion and Anchovies (page 36), Salmon and Scallop Chowder (page 48) or Pear and Blueberry Tatin (page 131) but something that tickled my fancy was the recipe for Orange Marmalade Vodka (page 107)!

I made some Seville Orange Marmalade with Chilli last year to include in my Christmas Food Hampers for family so I thought it would be fun to use this to make the vodka.  the recipe is really simple:-

"Put two thirds of a jar of good quality tawny marmalade (such as Oxford) in a sterilised kilner jar with 1 litre vodka.  Seal and leave in a cool place for 2 weeks, turning it every so often.  Strain and decant into little bottles for your friends, or simply your own delectation - with or without the pudding." (this makes reference to the accompanying recipe of Steamed Orange Sponge with Seville Orange Marmalade)

I think this vodka will taste excellent with tonic water and ice or that Italian fizzy orange (Orangina).

Food You Can't Say No To - Tamasin Day-Lewis
Publisher: Quadrille, 2012
Hardback: £20.00
Disclaimer: I reviewed this book because I adore getting new cook books, reading them and cooking recipes from them.  Except for a copy of the book I received no payment from the publisher for doing so.