Thursday, 28 March 2013

Farmison Meat Box

With prices rising and the size of products shrinking these days it is rare to have a pork chop on your plate that is almost too big to fit into your mouth. Trust me that would be big!!

I was recently sent a box of meat from Farmison to try. It was one of their monthly meet boxes loaded with enough meat to keep us going for a month.

Farmison supply a wide range of different cuts of meat to suit all tastes and family sizes. Their meat is from small specialist producers and wherever possible it is free range and sometimes organic.  The meat tastes great and is delivered chilled and specially packed ready to eat or suitable for freezing.

One of the packs contained 4 huge pork chops and I split this into two. These chops had been hung for 14 days to improve the flavours.

I marinated the chops in Miso Dressing with Ginger and when ready to cook browned them on both sides , popped them into a roasting pan, poured the marinade over and cooked them in the oven for about 25 minutes,

The chops were cooked so that there was no pink inside but they were not over cooked and were still lovely and tender. They had a nostalgic flavour of pork from the past

I served them with a rice dish and salad. It was nice to know there were still two chops in the freezer!!

A week later and Mr R was asking for those lovely pork chops again.  Deciding to be a bit different this time I rubbed the chops in a little coking oil and sprinkled a selection of dried herbs including salt, pepper, chilli, oregano, rosemary and more.  I massaged the herbs into both sides of the chops, placed them on a small stoneware baking tray and then sprinkled each chop with breadcrums.

I put the sweetpotato (cut in two halves) in the oven about 45 minutes before I put the chops in (190oC).  Served the pork chops with sweet potato and pickles for a great mid-week supper.

Farmison also have a Greencrocer department and a Cheesemonger and supply a great selection from these as well as the Butchery.  Why not give them a try!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Substantial, Nutritious Meal for under £5.00

There is a lot of talk around these days about the price of food and believe me the general prices have risen beyond recognition but it is still possible to eat well and cheaply but it takes a bit of thought and planning.

Recently I was shopping in my local supermarket and they were offering a quite large turkey thigh and leg for £4.00.  I put this in my basket along with two large sweet potatoes costing around £2.60 for both.

When I got home I got out my stoneware Deep Covered Baker from The Pampered Chef. 

I sliced one of the sweet potatoes into thick rounds, sprinkled the finely chopped onions and parsley left over from the take-away the night before (I hate waste), placed the turkey thigh on top and drizzled with a bit of olive oil.

 I added a Knorr herbal infusion stock pot and let this cook on a low heat in the oven for a couple of hours. About 30 minutes before dinner I turned the heat up to crisp the skin.


This dinner, along with rice served both of us for that meal, I had some for lunch the next day, the meat made two days of sandwiches for Mr R to take to work and the bones went into the pot eventually for the soup.  As I had only used half of what I bought this cost £3.30 for approximately 7 servings.

Two days later the placed the large turkey leg into my Deep Covered Baker with three carrots sliced lengthwise, salt & pepper, about half cup of water, a spread of Maille Dijon Mustard with Honey (this is a new dijon mustard from Maille) and a good glug of white wine.  Again this went into the oven on a low temperature for a couple of hours.  I took the meat off the bones = more sandwiches for Mr R!

The bones from the leg and the bone that I had saved from the thigh then went into the stock pot covered with water and left to boil for a couple of hours.  I strained the stock, added any little bits of meat I could pick off the bones and the carrots and sweet potatoes that were left over and blitzed this up to make a lovely, tasty and very economical soup.  I had two portions for the freezer, one for my lunch and a double portion for Mr R to take to work for two days.

My spend of £6.60 produced approximately 12-13 portions of delicious, nourishing food without adding very much to my raw materials.  The would equate to approximately £0.50 per portion.  A litle bit of shopping around and a little imagination and you can make a substantial meal without breaking the budget.

Wine tasting with Wines from Spain

I spent a few relaxing hours last seek at the Spanish 2013 Food & Wine Fair evening by special invite and as the guest of Wines from Spain.

When I go to buy wine I usually head straight for the French selection because that is what I know best followed by Italian wines. This is primarily because I, and I suspect a lot of people forget about the bounty of wine from Spain.

Recently I was scrolling down on Twitter and there was a quick competition to win 2 tickets to the Wine and Food from Spain 2013 evening being held in the City (of London) at the Old Billingsgate fish market (this market has now moved premises to further east - 04:00 fish market is an experience like no other !)

Anyway, I searched for the correct answer to the qualifying question, entered and a few hours later was told that I had just been 'piped to the post' and missed winning the tickets! Thanks anyway I replied and added that I wold love to accompany the winner if they didn't have anyone to go with. The next day I got a tweet from the winner saying 'you shall go to the ball!' And the ticket was duly received in the post!! Yay!

Upon arrival we were ushered into the Cava room and invited to taste what we wanted from an impressive row of Spanish Cava. Off to a good start then !

At 18:00 doors at the far end of the room opened and we were presented with a room full of tables of the finest and vast selection of wine producers and tapas that Spain had to offer.

Perspex tables of canap├ęs lined the middle if the room and off we went, sipping and nibbling as we made our way to the other end of the room.

I tasted wines from producers I had never heard of, from all over the country as well as better known ones such as Gonzalez Byass, Cordoniu, Campo Viejio to name but a few.

The range of tapas was equally impressive and essential to soak up all that wine coming from some of London's best Spanish restaurants. It was lovely to see Omar Abilhoy from Tapas Revolution again

and to meet (and taste) offerings such as the extremely thinly sliced jamon from Tozino , so delicious with thinly sliced bagels and a glass of dry sherry


or the chorizo from Deli of Spain who offered a spreadable chorizo containing potato!!

Just as a postscript I thought I would mention that the Old Billingsgate market building was near Monument underground station, so named after the monument to the Great Fire of London 1666.

All of the years I have lived in London I had not been to the Monument before. I must say blogging has taken me to all sorts of new and interesting places!

The Monument just around the corner from Old Billingsgate fish market

Very tall and imposing - 202' high.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Puro Fairtrade Coffee - coffee roasting and my caffeine fix!

There is a lot of talk out in the blogesphere about Fairtrade and as it has recently been Fairtrade Week I am pleased to have been sent a selection of coffee from Puro Fairtrade Coffee.

The mystery parcel as it was delivered!! What could be inside?
Well inside was a selection of coffees, hot chocolate, sugar, cups and a cafetiere for one (the glass of which unfortunately was broken upon arrival). All of the products bearing the fairtrade mark.

I do love my coffee and from the moment I wake up (Mr R) leaves a cup by my bedside and often keeps my cup toppued up till bedtime (yes, I have a coffee before bed and it never keeps me awake and it isn't decaf) I tend to drink only coffee.  I do have a particular habit of drinking it even after it has gone cold (well I did grow up in Ice Coffee land!).

Puro Fairtrade Coffee is committed to saving the Rainforest. Money from the sale of each cup has gone to set up Puro Reserves the size of 5,600 acres in Equador, Columbia and Brazil.  Each consumer is contributing towards the fight against poverty and supporting education and sustainability in these and other countries.

Puro was created in 2005 and has alway sourced Fairtrade and organic coffee. It is a company that promotes growing with an ethical and environmental awareness giving the consumer the knowledge that their purchase is paving a way for a better future. Puro are working alongside the World Land Trust to buy and protect areas of rainforest in South America.

Puro send me three different types of coffee, all ground for cafetiere to try: Puro Fuerte - with origins in Guatemala, Peru, Honduras and the Congo. It is a fragrant dark roast with a touch of spice; Puro Organhic whose origins are Peru and Honduras and is 100% of finest Arabica which combines soft notes of sweet chocolate with tangy citrus and Puro Noble a lovely shade grown coffee originating in Guatemala, Peru, Honduras and the Congo. This coffee is  a mix of the finest Arabica and premium Robusta. Its a rich and lively medium roast with hints of fruit and hazelnut.  This is the one that I have tried so far and being a medium roast is perfectly suited for me. In fact the kettle is on at this moment and I am going to have another cup!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Yuki's Kitchen - Japanese Cooking at Home

I had the pleasure of meeting Yuki at the Sozai Cooking School in London last month. Yuki taught the segment on making sushi and it was the first time I had actually made my own sushi.
We got talking and Yuki invited me to her home to take part in her cooking lessons from home. Last week I made the journey to her home in South London and was immediately welcomed with a cup of black barley tea out of a very pretty teapot.

A couple of other students cancelled at the last minute leaving only Jo and myself to attend the course. What a wonderful privilege to have 1-2-1 tuition with such a lovely lady. Yuki's goal is to teach people how easy it is to cook proper Japanese meals at home and this will be the main subject of her forthcoming cookbook due out in June 2013!

We watched and talked about Japanese cooking whilst Yuki prepared all the marinades and dressings for the meal she was preparing for us. She cut the fresh cod loin in thick chunks for the main course of Marinated Black Fish with Miso. In Japan you would use a black cod for this recipe but here the cost would be enormous and a simple cod will work just as well.

The sea vegetables were re-hydrated ready to make the Cucumber Salad "Sunomono". These came out of the packet looking like dried fish food flakes but as they spent time in water they began to pulp out and show off their beautiful colours and shapes.

After all the prep, soaking and marinating Yuki started to assemble the lunch. The assembly  all happened very quickly and the first course was a Wakame and Egg Drop Soup.

Cucumber salad 'Sunomono' served with cooked baby squid on top.

Roast Aubergine and Red Peppers with sweet miso sauce. This is perhaps my favourite one that we made and it would be so easy to make at home.

Marinated Black Fish with Miso. Marinate the fish in a fantastic and easy marinade sauce and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes. So much flavour and tender fish.

Vegetable Stir Fried 'Soba' Noodles

If you want to learn how to prepare and cook authentic Japanese food at home I can thoroughly recommend taking one of Yuki's courses at her home in South London, very easy to get to with good rail and tube links.

Yuki's book which will teach people how to make simple and delicious Japanese food at home will be published in June 2013. I can't wait to get a copy.

You can follow Yuki on Twitter @yukiskitchen.

A place for everything and everything in its place! Spice collection.

Happy St Patrick's Day - A Lite Snack!!

A little something to eat on St Patrick's Day.

First of all I wanted to use some if the ingredients in my surprise St Patrick's Day box that I received.

Mr R loves a cooked breakfast and this one did not disappoint. All the way from Ireland we had Clonakilty White Pudding, Truly Irish Maple Cured rashers of bacon along with scrambled eggs, sausages and a home made beer bread. It was yummy and kept us filled up all morning.

Inspired by a post I read by Fiona who writes a blog called London Unattached who made a soda bread, I decided to try to make a beer bread.

250gm Redbournbury Flour (a local mill near where I live)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
150ml beer or any fizzy drink.

Preheat oven to 200oC
Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre.
Add the beer or fizzy drink (it's the fizz that's important)
Lightly flour a baking sheet
Place dough onto the baking sheet and press down slightly

Sprinkle flour onto to dough and cut a cross in the top.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes

Leave to cool slightly and eat warm with lashings of butter!!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Morrisons Cellar Wine Tasting

Wine heaven, that's where I was recently when I was invited to a wine tasting evening with Morrisons Cellar. The supermarket Morrisons has a very wide and extensive range of wines in store and on-line.

They have devised a unique system to help the consumer find the right wine with the help of a short questionnaire.  They ask three simple questions 1) What is your favourite hot drink, 2) Do you prefer 'no-added sugar' or regular soft drinks and 3) Do you like salt. Based upon your answers you are put into one of four categories: Sweet, Fresh, Smooth and Intense.

This system helps the consumer look in the appropriate area and they will be more certain to find wines that they like.

I was told I was Smooth category and intensity no 9 so I would propably like some of the no 8 and some of the no 10 but mostly the 9s.  There were four tables full of the appropriate wines and we were then talked through as many as we wanted to try. (There was the spitton available so you didn't end up well oiled after the first couple of tastings - shame though!)

Smooth Selection
My favourite in the Smooth selection was a red from France, Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er Crus Les Marconnets 750 ml with a RRP of £15.99. This was a modern-style Burgundy full of flavour and would be a winner with a juicy steak!

Fresh Selection
There were several in the Fresh section that I liked, mostly the whites but my favourite was a French Badassiere Picpoul de Pinet. This wine is drunk in the South of France by the bottle full and is perfect for fresh seafood and shell fish. It had a clean fresh finish and you could almost tast the sunshine and the sea! It has a RRP of only £7.99 a ABV 13% and is available on-line.  Think I will be stocking up on this one ready for our wonderful summer!!

Each table had appropriate canapes for us to try and help get an idea of food pairing.

Some of the Sweet selection
Although I do like a dry white or a full bodied red I also like a sweet wine with dessert or for an appetiser.  Most people forgoe the sweet wine with the pudding preferring to stay drinking the same wine as with the meal but they are truly missing something.  Sweet wines complement the sweet course perfectly and they also make a delightful aperitif if chilled and served in small wine glasses.  I particularly liked the Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro (500ml) from Spain and it was in an unusually pretty bottle (the one on the right in the photo above). This wine retails at £7.99.

Sweet wines can be a particular bargain and worth stocking up for the wine rack when you see them.  This wine is available on-line and in store. I will be popping out for some this weekend for sure!!

Some of the canapes that go with the Sweet group
These sorts of events are not just for loads of free drinks. Each time I attend an event like this I learn something about what I like in wine and what to look for. This gives me more confidence when I am in the wine departments and lessens the chance of buying something I don't like.

Thanks again to Morrisons Cellar for the evening, the wine and the education.

Oh yes and the science bit!