Monday, 24 February 2014

Judges - Kitchen Textiles

I have been trying to update my kitchen essentials to red and I was very happy to be sent the new range of Judge Cookware oven gloves and pot holders.  They come in a variety of colours and the red is really vibrant and looks fab in my kitchen.

You can see that I did need to upgrade!

These new ones have silicone where you meet the heat. I did think the silicone might be bulky but I was please to see just how soft and pliable it is.

The range is protective of hot surfaces and liquid, steam and thermal to 240oC/464oF and are machine washable and can be tumble dried on low setting.

I think this range will look great in my kitchen and will keep my hands and arms safe when I am cooking!

Thanks to Judge Cookware for sending me the samples.  I did not receive any payment and the opinions are my own.





Sunday, 23 February 2014

A Blogger's Day Off

Sometimes food bloggers want a day off and the aim is to just have a quick meal, no photos or recipes to try to get. That was  the plan recently when I was having a day out with my family for my granddaughter's birthday.

I can see now the bad idea of going into London in half term but it was a little girl's birthday wish so I met them at the station and off we headed for the Natural History Museum.  When we got there, there was a half hour wait till they opened the doors again and the queue would take about an hour and a half meaning a two hour wait in a queue - no thanks!

Instead we headed into Central London for the Chinese restaurant we always go to which turned out to be closed for renovations!  What else could go wrong?

We had passed a Jamie Oliver Diner so armed with the reputation of Jamie Oliver we went inside for our lunch.

Either Jamie Oliver had never been there or it was qute a while ago but it was not quite up to his usual standards.

Our party consisted of three adults and one child.  Four meals, how hard would it be to get them right!!

We shared two starters and had one soft drink each. This is important as it fills in the picture of the price too.

My burger came with my son's chips (they were in a little bucket) and the waitress took them off my plate and swapped them to his plate.  My chips which were deep fried acavados (yes, they were weird) on my son's plate.  My daughter in law got her hot dog and no chips and had to wait ages for them.  When I asked the waitress (who by the way kept referring to us as 'you guys') for a slice of pickle she asked if I wanted another one! No I said just the one missing from my meal.

The child's meal was chicken lollipops and chips with a lemony creamy dip.  In reality it was a piece of grilled chicken cut into slices with chips and no dip.

When we came to pay the waitress asked if we would like to leave a tip with the credit card payment! No we didn't.  I wanted to give her a tip - Don't keep calling us 'you guys'!

The bill was just under £70.00 - three adults and one child, two burgers (both over cooked), one hot dog and one 'chicken lollipops' and four drinks.  A bit excessive for the quality and level of this meal.

This is not a restaurant I will be wanting to re-visit!  Just saying.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Hiding Antioxidants - in Cake!

I felt a little mischievous the other afternoon.  A friend of mine had been to the States and she brought me back a couple of cake mixes.  Plus I was wanting to try adding some Matcha green tea to a cake so guess what?? .... that's right!

I combined the dry cake mix with 1.5 tsp of the Matcha green tea. The tea is known to have amazing anti-oxidants properties (A post about the Matcha tea will follow soon).

Added 3 large eggs, 1 cup water and 1/3 cup vegetable oil. Pour evenly into two ready greased 8" cake pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool in the pans for about 5 minutes then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.

To ice the cake I mixed 250gm unsalted butter (softened at room temperature) with 500gm sifted icing sugar and 1.5 tsp Matcha green tea powder.  When thoroughly mixed I added 2 Tablespoons marcapone cheese and mixed in.

I was surprised at the dullness of the colour of the finished cake and icing as the green tea powder is such a bright green!

What is certain is the girls I work with really loved the taste, subtle banana with a background flavour no one was able to identify! Shall I tell them or not?

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tales of the Underground - Underground Cookery School!

I was invited to the Underground Cookery School in London to preview their cooking school along with 19 other bloggers and asked only that if we liked the evening we share it.

The cooking school is run by Mat Kemp since 2003, a few minutes walk from Old Street Station (on the Northern Line) in London. 

The cooking classes are aimed at corporate groups, hen do's, stag do's, family cooking get togethers and those wanting to learn the basics of cooking in a relaxed and helpful atmosphere.

On arrival we were offered home made canapes and chilled Prosecco then we were split into two groups and proceeded to make the meal we would later all sit down together to enjoy.

Our menu was Moules Mariniere,

Ballotine of Chicken with Leeks & Savoy Cabbage (see below)

and Apple Tarte Tatin.

We were shown how to de-bone a chicken

and went from this:-
To this,
then this,
on to this,
turning it into this,

and finally to this!! Tasted as good as it looks.

Thanks to Underground Cookery School for a relaxed evening with wine, food and blogger friends.  I was not paid to attend and all photos and opinions are my own.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

How to make American Inspired Rice Pudding

There are two things I have been meaning to do lately. 1) Make my American inspired rice pudding and 2) use up a container of Almond Milk I had in the cupboard.

Lightbulb moment *Make rice pudding with the Amond Milk!*

I remember the rice pudding my grandma used to make, creamy with lovely plump raisins but I never really got the recipe from her.  My early married days in the 70s rice pudding was cooked in the oven and although I liked it and there was nothing wrong with it, it wasn't the rice pudding of my childhood (cooked on the hob).

When I was working at Middlesex University many years ago I worked with a Greek girl who used to bring us in the most delicious rice pudding, just like I remembered from my childhood.  She taught me how to make it and it soon became a family favourite.

Anyway back to today's pudding.  I followed the recipe just as I would have if I had used normal cow's milk.
  • Cover about 200gm of pudding rice with cold water.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer until the rice softens.
  • Drain the rice keeping some of the starchy rice water in the pan.
  • Return the rice to the pan.
  • Add 1lt of milk (cows or almond milk)
  • Add two good handfuls of raisins, 1tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile take about 4oz of cold milk, mix with 2-3 Tbsp sugar and 2-3 Tbsp  custard powder and gradually add to the rice mixture.
  • Bring to the boil and turn off the heat.
  • The rice pudding will thicken as it cools.
  • Serve on its own or with cream or ice cream.
It was exactly the same as the original way I would have made it with milk but slightly needing more sugar.  A tablespoon of honey or maple syrup would combat the lack of sweetness perfectly.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Asda Present a Great Valentine's Meal

Mr R and I don't usually go out for a meal or other celebration on Valentine's Day but prefer instead to stay at home and have a meal together and a nice bottle of wine.

I am however a bit of an occasion person at heart and usually make a bit of a fuss for Mr R and when my children were little, for them too.  I would make each of the children a pink heart shapped cake to take to school and share with their teacher and fellow pupils. They would have their sandwiches cut with a heart cookie cutter and anything else that was appropriate for a school lunch would also be heart shaped on the day.

Present day and Mr R will have his sandwiches made for him in the heart shape and his toast will be sliced and ready with a message imprinted on it, wrapped and placed by the toaster for a morning surprise!

Asda asked me to try their Valentine's Meal Deal and I was very happy to do so.

To start with you get to pick from a wide selection to include two side dishes, one main and one pudding all for £10.00.

I did think some of the portions were quite small and we love boulangere potatoes so I had two of the same for my sides,

and very lovely looking rump steaks for main course.  I made a green salad to with the meal.

The steak was lovely and tender with loads of taste.

Picking the pudding was difficult, there were some really good one to pick from but went in the end for the Melting Red Velvet Moments.

These little pudding get warmed in the microwave for 20 seconds and when cut into a gooey chocolatey sauce oozes from the middle.  Served with a great vanilla ice-cream and it was heavenly!


I received a voucher from Asda to purchase their Valentine Meal Deal and did not receive any payment to write this post.  All images and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Cook - frozen ready meals just like you made them!

I have recently been sent a range of ready made, frozen food from Cook

They have been providing meals using the same techniques and ingredients as you would use at home since 1997 and the founders Edward and Dale love to hear your feedback and love to tell the chef who made you particular meal that you liked it. 

There are less than 400 calories in each pot with the actual number of calories written on the top in big writing.

I was sent individual portions of Middle Eastern Lamb Koftas, Japanese Salmon, Thai Butternut XSquash Soup and Prawn Tom Yum, along with a two person portion of duck confit, mashed potatoes and apple & blackberry crumble.

The individual portions are perfect for me to take to work and first I took the Middle Eastern Lamb Koftas.

Sometimes ready made food has that samey samey taste to it but I am happy to report that my Cook meal didn’t have that.  I had the Middle Eastern Lamb Koftas, in a sweetly-spiced tomato sauce with chickpeas, couscous, golden raisins and mint.

I cooked it from frozen in the microwave at work and by following the instructions on the back, cooking from frozen for best results.

I found this one to be both filling and satisfying and very tasty.  Each pack tells you the name of the chef that cooked it and mine was cooked by Michael Ewens on this occasion.  Well done to Michael I have to say.  I would certainly buy this one if I saw it in the supermarket and with only 281 calories and at a cost of £3.99 I think it made a great lunch to have at work.


The second one I took to work is the Japanese Salmon, chunks of salmon with soy, ginger, soya beans and black and white rice.  This one is 394 calories and is a cost of £3.00.  Mine was cooked by Lewis Feaver and had a lovely Asian aroma and was tasty and filling.

The Prawn Tom Yum is a classic Thai soup seasoned with tamarind and lime with king prawns, vegetables and noodles.  this has two chilli peppers on the front to indicate that it might be spicy and it was just a little too spicy for me but I loved it and had to keep on eating it despit the heat.  Mine was cooked by Gennaro Ruocco and was only 231 calories per portion at a cost of £3.99.

The products are available in a selection of shops across the country. If you go on their website and enter your postcode you can see the retailer nearest to where you live.  My nearest stockist is Battler's Green Farm Shop near Radlett, Herts which is not far from where I work - how lucky is that. I shall definitely be stopping by.

You can contact them via their website, Facebook or Twitter
Many thanks to Cook for the package of food they sent me for review. I did not receive any payment for writing this and all opinions are my own.







Sunday, 9 February 2014

Treat Your Valentine with Aldi

Aldi have a little booklet of special buys each week. The current issue has some suggestions for putting together a romantic and tasty meal to treat your Valentine.  The magazine has several starter and main course combinations to pick such as Breaded Garlic Mushrooms, Scottish Cooked Mussels and Specially Selected Fillet Steak or Risotto and Mixed Leaf Salad.

I was asked by Aldi to treat my Valentine (Mr R) and although I liked their suggestions I preferred to pick and mix and to come up with my own special Valentine inspired meal.

The main ingredients I bought were Breaded Camembert, Turkey Steaks and Gnocchi.

The breaded camembert can be cooked in the oven or shallow fried.  To go with them I a 'slaw' with celeriac and carrot thinly peeled with a Julienne peeler to which I added Hellman's Mayo with Lemon, Creme Fraiche and some chopped beetroot (left over from the heart cut outs - see below)

The Gnocchi I cooked in salted boiling water and drained them.  In the pan I melted a small knob of butter, some pesto and a ball of mozzarella chopped up.  I put this all in a baking dish with the gnocchi, sprinkled freshly grated parmegianno reggiano cheese and popped it into the oven on low to keep warm.

The rest of the main course was Turkey Steaks in a creamy peppercorn sauce. I started with the usual finely chopped onion and celery and sauteed in a know of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. When translucent I added the turkey steaks and pan fried them. I placed them in an ovenproof dish whilst I made the sauce.  A splash of white wine, 200gm Philadelphia cream cheese and cracked black pepper. Pour over the turkey steaks and keep warm in the oven.

So here is the final result.  Starter - Aldi 

Mr R loved his special meal!
The main course:-

I was sent a voucher to purchase the main ingredients of my meal from Aldi. I was not paid to write this post and all opionions and recipes are my own.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Thomas Tucker Popcorn Review

"We are not the biggest producers of popcorn in the world but we believe we are The Best." This is the testimonial you will find on the back of Thomas Tucker Popcorn.

Vue Cinemas have introduced Thomas Tucker to the snack range on offer to buy before the film available at select cinemas  as a trial.

I was sent a selection and I will say I was very impressed. For me popcorn is a food group you should eat from weekly and it also has to be savoury!!  That meant my flavour of choice was the Smoked Cheese flavour. 

It was lovely and light and very fresh (some brands always taste stale to me), there were no artificial colours or flavours and are suitable for vegetarians.

Popcorn has been a passion for Thomas Tucker since 1988 (25 years ago) and is made with love and care by their Specialist Popcorn Chefs!

If you love popcorn you can try this one or the sweet flavours of Fruits of the a Forest and Coconut Toffee.

I was sent a selection of Thomas Tucker popcorn and was not paid to review them. All opinions are my own.