Friday, 31 May 2013

Word of the Week

This is something I was thinking about in the shower recently! I grew up constantly being influenced by words and my father always trying to get us to widen our vocabularly particularly by playing a word game on a Saturday night. (We didn't have social media or iPhones way back then!!)

So I propose to pick a word on a Friday and challenge you to use it in a post during the week.  The post with the word used the most in the correct context will have their blog post featured in 'Word of the Week' the following week.

So how to you get involved. Just use the chosen word in your post in the correct context e.g. silk, silky, silkiness, etc so 'we silk the silk dog with the silky coat' = 0 but 'the creamy and silky sauce poured over the fish looked like a piece of silk draped over a model = 2!

Then leave comment on my weekly post with the number of times you used the word and a link to your blog post and I will pick the winner on the Friday morning to include in the next week's post.

This week the word is 'CRUNCH'

It's just a bit of blogging fun!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Today's coffee break is brought to you by .......

I love peanut butter but don't you hate it when you don't have any in the larder or worse it has become much more expensive in the supermarkets lately and isn't always just made from peanuts!

Sometime there is added salt and/or sugar so today's coffee break is brought to you by ...... Vitamix!

400g bag of peanuts tipped into my Vitamix, switch on the machine and 3-4 minutes later ......

And presto a lovely bowl of fresh creamy, smooth peanut butter ready to be spread on Ritz crackers for lunch!!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Today's coffee break is brought to you by ...........

Fudges the Dorset Village Bakery who have been baking in Dorset since 1926.

I was sent a selection of Fudges products to try and tell you about.  What a hard job I have!!

Firstly I tried the Belgian Milk Chocolate Forentines.  Soft nutty layer with hazlenuts, almonds and cranberries on top of a lovely layer of Belgian milk chocolate. Perfect with a cup of coffee but you could chop them up and sprinkle over some good quality vanilla ice cream for an indulgent treat.

The flapjacks were half dipped in Belgian dark chocolate and contained 8 of these mini oaty treats. They are perfect for lunch boxes or a pic-nic coffee break.

The final box of sweet treats I had was Cranberry Biscuits. They are half dipped in Belgian white chocolate and present with a delicate flavour of holidays and glasses of chilled sherry.

Finally I sampled the Cheese Straws which are made with mature cheddar cheese and sprinkled with cracked black pepper. These are great for lunch boxes but my favourite is to dip them into some home made salsa and enjoy with a glass of dry white wine.
Thanks to Great, Great Grandad Fudge for the passion he put into his baking and the love and pride he passed on to his family and we can still benefit from today!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Ambrosia brings you Devon Dream

I was recently sent some Ambrosia Devon Dream to try.  I know you can't beat home made custard but sometimes you need to save time or have unexpected guests and Ambrosia custard is a great cupboard standby.  With that in mind I was curious to try the Devon Dream.

The new Devon Dream is a vanilla flavoured dessert sauce that has 80% less fat than single cream. Taste wise it is like mixing cream with custard. It's creamy and has a very subtle taste, not overpowering at all.

There are no artificial colours or preservatives and once opened needs to be kept in the fridge.

I used the Devon Dream on two puddings recently.  For the first I had some nectarines that needed using and decided to make a pudding with them.

I cut the fruit in half, removed the stones and sprinkled them with some brown sugar we bought on holiday in Barbados (real sugar cane sugar from the rum distillery).
I put a knob of butter in the dish with the fruit and sugar and popped them into the oven for about 45 minutes, until they were soft but not mushy.
Served warm with some Ambrosia Devon Dream, a nice balance between their custard and double cream.

I also used the nectarines to make a cake. The recipe originally called for peaches and used sour cream but I had the bargain nectarines and wanted to use those and I had some Quark from The Lake District Dairy and used that. The Quark I had had a lemon flavour and this complimented the cake beautifully.
The cake was moist and tasty but not too sweet and the Devon Dream went really well with it.

Many thanks to Ambrosia for sending me this product to try and to write about. I think it will be a cupboard staple in our house.

Meals in Minutes - Friday Night Special

Friday afternoon, the weekend is approaching fast and you want a quick supper before popping out.

Tonight I put into my roasting pan one large potato in chunks, half an onion cut into chunks, half a sweet potato in chunks, a courgette cut in half and large slices and four whole garlic cloves (I peel mine - I don't like cooking them in their skins even though it is the popular way these days).

A drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a mixed herb sprinkled on top. Place sausages on top and into a moderate oven for about 45-50 minutes until the veggies are soft and the sausages cooked.

A splash of Lea&Perrins Worcestershire sauce and serve.

For pudding tonight I wanted to finish up the nectarines that I bought at my local store the other day for 20p instead of £2.00. There was nothing wrong with any of them and you can see they lasted quite a long time without starting to spoil.
I cut the fruit in half, removed the stones and sprinkled them with some brown sugar we bought on holiday in Barbados (real sugar cane sugar from the rum distillery).
I put a knob of butter in the dish with the fruit and sugar and popped them into the oven for about 45 minutes, until they were soft but not mushy.
Served warm with some Ambrosia Devon Dream, a nice balance between their custard and double cream.

A great evening meal, didn't cost much, most of the veggies were left over from last week's bargain shop and it was delicious and filling.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Where's the sun?

It's cold and it's lunchtime so what do I cook?

Take some cold cooked potatoes leftover from a previous dinner and fry up with half an onion in a bit of olive oil and a knob of butter. Adding the butter to the oil helps to stop the oil burning.

I added some of the leftover Italian chicken from another evening meal, warmed the sauce through and added a ball of chopped mozzarella cheese.

Serve, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy! Internal central heating soon starts to work!!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Today's Coffee Break is brought to you by ...........

The Lake District Dairy Company....

I bought a couple of punnets of small nectarines at the supermarket the other day at 10% of their full price and wanted to bake a cake with them.

I found a recipe for a Peach or Nectarine cake using sour cream but as I had some Lake District Dairy Company's Quark with lemon I decided to use it in the recipe.

As you can see, a yummy cake to have with my coffee this afternoon.......

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Slice and Dice with Stellar

I love my collection of knives and I respect each and every one of them. You spend a lot of money on a really good knife and it is essential that you treat it with the respect it deserves and look after it. I have some very sharp knives and some with their own sharpeners.

I also feel a knife choice is a very personal decision. No matter how much you love your 13cm Santoku knife (which is my personal favourite) someone else may find it impossible to get on with.

There is also the subject of whether to use a knife block or not.  I prefer to keep my knives in the drawer with their individual safe covers but others love a knife block.

I was therefore glad to be asked to try and review a couple of knives from Stellar.  I was sent their 14cm Santoku and their Utility knives to try out.

These knives are colour coated and come in four vibrant colours; orange, green, blue and red. They each have their own matching colour protective cover which also helps to keep them sharp so that they cut cleanly and without any effort. You can get a Stellar knife block to keep your lovely coloured collection in.

Mine sliced through my red pepper with no effort at all.

They can be washed in a dishwasher (be sure to dry them with a soft cloth at the end of the dishwasher cycle).

Thanks Stellar for the chance to add these specimens to my lovely collection!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Bargain Time at the Supermarket

Everyone knows I like a bargain. Tonight we popped into our local store and as always looked into the reduced section for a quick sale.

Bingo!! I got £19.11 worth of produce for £1.91!! Pretty happy with that.

There were things that we didn't really want so didn't get. If they are not what you would normally buy then it isn't a saving.

Of course sometimes I have tried a product that I wouldn't normally risk paying a lot for in case I didn't like it, have bought it for 10% and liked it thus willing to pay full price for it another time.

So tonight I bought £6.00 of piccolo cherry tomatoes for £0.60, £4.00 of nectarines for £0.40 plus organic lemons, jacket potatoes, waxy salad potatoes, bread, bananas all of which were 10% of the price and alll  were perfectly good without any bad bits.

All of the bargains will be used in the next couple of days along with other foods we have at home.

The peppers and cherry tomatoes will be roasted with salt, olive oil and garlic and will form the start of a good pasta sauce.

Jacket potatoes for dinner tonight,

waxy potatoes with Sunday lunch (and potato salad the next day) and that's just the beginning!

I always keep an eye for a bargain and it pays off.

I am entering this post into the Credit Crunch Munch round up for May which is being hosted this month by Farmersgirl Kitchen and is run by Fab Food For All and Fuss Free Flavours

Friday, 17 May 2013

Rediscover Canadian Wine

 I was invited to an event, Rediscover Canadian Wine to be held at Canada House in Trafalgar Square on a beautiful Spring day in London. It was one of the nicest days of the year so far and London, and in particular Trafalgar Square looked resplendent in the morning sunshine. Days like this remind me how much I like being in London!

Bright and sunny Trafalgar Square

For me it was a case of discover Canadian wines! When you think of North American wines you tend to think of the California wine growing area but in actual fact Canada has some very good wineries.

The Canadian wine region is basically in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and mostly in Ontario. The Niagra Penninsular alows for perfect conditions to grow the vines including soil condition, winds and perfect temperatures coming off the Niagra Escarpment.  They are in the same latitude as many of the other cool climate wine regions in Europe.

When I arrived I was given a glass for tasting and a booklet with all the wines listed by the table number they were on. 

When I first got there I wanted to walk around and have a quick look at all the tables before starting at table 1 for some tastings and work my way around the room.  It was then that I saw Olly Smith and asked him about his recommendation. He was very charming and pointed me to Peller Estates to try their Andrew Peller Signature Series Ice Cuvee and I certainly wasn't disappointed! This then led me to talk to them about their Icewines and thus my interest in them started.  It was lovely meeting Olly and he very kindly posed for a photo.

As I like to learn something each time I attend an event I was not disappointed.  I had heard of 'Icewine' but never really knew what the term meant or what it entailed.  I had the opportunity to taste several icewines and became very interested in these.

To make the Icewines the grapes have to be harvested at night, -10o temperature and have to have been naturally frozen on the vine. The water freezes but the sugars and dissolved solids do not. This results in a highly concentrated dessert wine that due to its acidity is not too sweet and matches both with spicy foods and cheeses as well as sweet puddings.

I have always been partial to a dessert wine especially one that complements the cheese board and the ice wines are in that category.  I will hopefully be doing a whole blog post dedicated to the ice wines soon but let it be said they are amazing.  There were several examples at the tasting.

Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2008

Andrew Peller Signature Series Cabernet Franc Icewine 2010
Inniskillin Wines Riesling Icewine 2008
At about 12:30 suddenly the table to the side of the entrance was filled with a fantastic buffet lunch sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF). This was really welcome because I had not had a chance to eat breakfast and was starting my tasting on an empty stomach, not a good idea!

Being that I am primarily a food blogger I was quite interested in the buffet lunch! And then there was the cheese and pudding table!

Also noteworthy was Rosewood Estates Winery. They were originally bee keepers and honey producers and made the transition into making mead (honey wine) and onto growing grapes for the more traditional wines.

Their Sussreserve Riesling 2009 was sweet and refreshing and went very well with the stilton cheese that was on the cheese board.  Their Pinot Noir Reserve - Natural Fermentation 2009 was light and in fact too light for the stilton.

Stratus Vineyards produce a very floral and not too sweet Icewine,  Riesling Icewine 2008.

There was a section called Sparkling Wine Focus Table with a 'help yourself' tasting of some of the finest sparkling wines.  There were some beautiful sparkling wine, which I must say I am a bit partial to, such as 13th Street Winery's Premier Cuvee 2008 and Grand Cuvee Blanc de Noirs 2007. This sparkling wine was like a mild explosion in your mouth stripping it of everything but the lovely, fine flavours of the wine!

Another well know wine personality I met was Oz Clarke.

Contigo Coffee Cup - for me!!

I have already told you about a Contigo thermos mug that I will probably be using to take milk for our coffee or drinks for the grandchildren to the allotment.

Recently I was sent a Contigo travel mug for me.  You may remember that I love my coffee and having a great mug to take it with me is a real treat!

The mug that I was sent has a 360ml capacity and keeps drinks hot for up to one hour and cold for up to 4 hours with a double wall vacuum insulation.

But the really clever thing is that is it completely leak proof with a unique button lock mechanism and when pressed will not accidentally pour or leak.

I am planning on taking my coffee out with me more often now.

Thanks Contigo for the Morgan travel mug.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Home Cooking with Jamie Oliver and Philips

I have been lucky enough to be sent the new Jamie Oliver HomeCooker by Phillips .  This new machine is only for sale at John Lewis stores and when I recently saw one I immediately wanted one!

It is made up of a central heating base, a large capacity pot with stirrer and then several more sections to use to cook pasta, steam potatoes and much more. You can cook rice pudding, roast potatoes, goulash, risotto and the list goes on.

The HomeCooker’s PerfectTemp feature and QuickSet timer mean you can also control the heat to perfection and set times up to 99 minutes so you can get on with other things whilst you  meal is stirred and kept at the exact temperature.

I decided to christen the Home Cooker with a ragu sauce for our favourite - tagliatelle.  First of all I prepped all my ingredients such as the onion, celery, peppers.  I am using a large, thick piece of bacon that came in one of those cooking packs of bacon.  For my main meat I am using a pack of Pelham and Talbot cubed chuck steak.  Pelham and Talbot recently send me their casserole box which comprises of 500g of cubed chicken breast, 500g of cubed lamb, 500g of cubed pork and the 500g of cubed chuck steak.  They send this box to you all ready vacuum sealed and ready to put in the freezer.


Next I prepared a vegetable stew hoping to use up all the veggies in the bottom of the fridge including a butternut squash.

Following this I started a simple sauce for the evening's spaghetti.

I love this machine and see me using it for loads and loads of recipes. I will be trying the recipe in the accompanying cookbook for risotto soon too.

There is also a machine that goes with this called the Tower and it slices, dices and shreds straight into the cooking pan.  As soon as I receive one of these I will write about it too.

Many thanks to Phillips for sending me this machine.  You can only purchase it at branches of John Lewis Partnership and it retails for £249.95.