Sunday, 28 July 2013

Easy Summer Supper - Homemade Beef Burgers & Rice

This week my father-in-law stopped by our house on his way back from his butcher.  He brought me some of the fresh lean mince he had just had the butcher mince up for him.

My first thought was to pop it into the freezer but I remembered the burger press that I had and decided to make some home made beef burgers.

Years ago when my children were very little I bought a Tupperware burger press.  I have used this loads of times over the years and still do.

I only add some seasoning to the mince and then press a small amount in the press and pop them onto a tray whilst continuing to make more.

This week I just added salt and pepper, a little worcestershire sauce and some mixed herbs to the meat.  It made 5 burgers and we put them on the BBQ outside.

I cooked the burgers on one side and just before flipping them over I placed a piece of smoked back bacon on top. I flipped it over and cooked the bacon side. Just before serving I flipped them again and put a piece of cheddar cheese on each one and let it melt a bit.

I served the burgers with Tilda rice, a special limited edition created in conjunction with Dhruv Baker, Masterchef Winner 2010. Dhruv has created a smokey paprika, chipotle chilli, aromatic fennel and a touch of maple syrup for this versatile microwaveable rice. 

The rice cooks in 2 minutes and was ready as Mr R brought the burgers in from the BBQ.

Quick and easy supper with loads of flavour and hardly any washing up!!

Thanks to Tilda for sending me the Limited Edition BBQ rice to try.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Restaurant Review - The Real Greek - Covent Garden

This week I was able to attend a restaurant in London called The Real Greek (Covent Garden branch) to do a review.

I used to live in North London where there are strong Greek and GreekCypriot communities which means there is a plethora of Greek restaurants spoiling local residents but let me tell you now The Real Greek is up there with the best!

There are 5 other branches in London and each one individual.  The Covent Garden branch is small and compact but full of atmosphere with helpful and welcoming staff.  I attended with my friend Val.

Victoria the Manageress showed us the menus and explained some of the specials and meze but both Val and I agreed that we would rather leave it up to Victoria to bring us what she thought best.  Well that was one of the best choice I have made lately!

It all started quite simply with olives and a dipping plate of bread, Greek olive oil and a Dukkah (a spicy mix of ground, dry roasted nuts and seeds). This and a bottle of dry white wine (Silenus 'Beta' White (Vilana) was a good start to the meal!

And then the food started arriving and more and more plates of food kept appearing on our table!


And then when you think you are going to die of fullness they bring you more food!!

Finished off with a cup of coffee and a 'doggy bag' of the plates we couldn't finish and a perfect ending to a great meal.

Many thanks to Victoria and The Real Greek for treating us like dining royalty.  Val is already checking her diary for a return date with her husband!

Victoria (on the left) and Val

Kitchen Chat - Saviour (Feel Good Snacking)

Saviour provides a box of healthy snacks for your workplace or office and this can be on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis or a one off order.  They have three sizes and they sent me the middle size.

My initial impression was how nice the packaging was and this is important to have an attractive box in your communal area to attaract people to it. These snacks are without hydrogenated fats, artificial colours or preservatives. Also no MSG, high fructose corn syrups or genetically modified foods.

They are real ingredients that you can recognise or pronounce!

Their range includes breakfast options, soups, protein bars, nuts, seeds, corn cakes, raw chocolate and lots of other savoury treats. The contents vary week to week so you don't get bored.

The box I was sent contained about 15 snacks but for a larger office there is a much bigger box available.

Thank you Saviour for sending me a box to try. Better than having a box of crisps in the office for sure!!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

HomeSense Opens in Watford

My favourite part of popping into TK Maxx is having a browse in the homewares department. However my local store doesn't have loads of space and the store near our large supermarkets doesn't have a homeware department at all.

HomeSense is a new range of store which is just the homeware department of TK Maxx! How fantastic is this? And just like their parent there is no stock room which means all the stock is out on the shop floor. This means when it is sold it is gone, there is no re-stocking.  If you see something you want you need to get it then and there!

I was invited to the opening of the Watford, Hertfordshire store and offered a £20.00 voucher to spend on anything I liked.  The opening day was manic and packed and whilst I loved the store I couldn't concentrate on what I wanted to buy and if I did there was also the question of the really long queue at the checkouts!

I decided to come back another time before the voucher I had expired and really glad I took this option.

The store was quiet enough to browse and pick up some treats for myself and best of all there was no queue and plenty of tills open.

After a really good look around and there were so many items to tempt me, I decided to buy a new house brush just because I had needed one for quite a while and it was as good a time as any.

I also chose two pieces of olive wood for presenting cheese, charcuterie, wraps, samosas and many other food items when entertaining.

This is really my kind of store and I can see a new gruve in the road to Watford being created! I shall be back HomeSense hope you are ready!

Many thanks to HomeSense for the invitation to their new store opening and for the vouchers to spend in store.

Down on the Strawberry Farm Searching for Perfection

Have you ever been on a quest to find the perfect strawberry? Well look no further because I think I have found them for you!

I was recently invited to visit a strawberry farm near Canterbury in Kent and the weather could have been made just for our visit.

We visited the Kelsey Farm about 6 miles from Canterbury in Kent, whose main strawberry variety is the Jubilee strawberry.  The farm employs about 250 workers during the height of the picking season and they live on site and get paid by the weight of their picking not per hour so some of the fast pickers can make a good wage.

The Jubilee strawberry is really naturally sweet and grows to a large size and an almost perfect heart shape.  These fruit are grown in long tables above the ground both to make it easier to pick and to keep them off the ground and away from the slugs etc.


After a short introduction to the farm, currently being worked by fourth generation fruit farmer Paul Kelsey, we walked over to the polytunnels, handed some punnets and told to pick some to take home.  I didn't need to be told a second time and got stuck in one for the punnet, one for me, one for the punnet etc.


They are grown in large polytunnels and picked by workers who clearly enjoy their job. 

Most of the workers come from Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia.  They were all smiling and very happy to talk to us.  I spoke to Svetan from Bulgaria who understood quite a bit of English.

There were just beautiful strawberries everywhere you looked!

And if there are any not quite perfect berries they are put in a large container and sold to make jam for spong cake fillings.

A quick visit to the raspberry polytunnels, a few picked just to check the taste and

a quick look around the storage facilities where the berries are graded, packed and labelled and ready for delivery to supermarkets all over the country.

After our informative and tasty introduction to Jubilee strawberries we were taken to the local village for a strawberry lunch.  The pub, The Duke William was a beautiful pub with chalkboards everywhere telling the tale of their specials and food of special interest.

Due to the intensely beautiful weather we needed to re-hydrate and what better way than with copious amounts of Pimms and lemonade!

We sat outside and enjoyed a sumptious lunch with each course featuring the Jubilee strawberry!

Melon, kiwi, Jubilee strawberry and parma ham salad

Pan fried scallops with black pudding, Jubilee strawberries and balsamic glaze

Jubilee strawberry and lemon sorbet

Confit of goose with a Jubilee strawberry jus served with Boulanger potatoes and chantenay carrots

Cracked black peppercorn with a Jubilee strawberry port and sabayon glaze

Camembert with French baguettes, jubilee strawberries and celery

Thanks so much to Kelsey Farm and Jubilee Strawberries for such a lovely day and a big box full of strawberries to take home.  Look out for my post on what I did with them. Thanks too to The Duke William pub for a sumptious and delicious lunch.
What's your favourite strawberry dish? Leave a comment below.