27 Oct 2009


I couldn't resist cooking this on my cedar wood baking plank to give just a hint of smokiness to the squash.

A small whole baby squash is a meal in itself and all you need for accompaniments are some sun-dried tomato bread and a spicy tomato sauce.

Serves: 4

You will need: 4 small squash about 350g each, 200g mixed wild and basmati rice, 60ml chilli and garlic oil, 150g grated Gruyere cheese.

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5. Pierce the squash in several places with the tip of a knife. Place the squash on a baking tray or oven plank and bake for 30 minutes or until the squash are tender. Leave to one side until cool enough to handle.
2. Cook the rice in salted, boiling water for 12 minutes or until tender, drain. Slice a lid off the top of each squash and scoop out and discard the seeds, also scoop out and chop the flesh.
3. Heat the chilli and garlic oil in a frying pan and cook the chopped squash for 5 minutes. ( Or, if using, transfer to the oven baking plank for extra smokiness and cook in the oven for a few minutes).
4. Reserve 4 tablespoons of the cheese and add the remainder to the pan along with the cooked rice, season. Mix well.
5. Pile the mixture into the squash shells and place in an ovenproof dish (or return to the oven baking plank). Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

24 Oct 2009


Clive from Cookequip has sent me a collection of interesting premium quality products to review for him.

Camerons Large Cedar Wood Oven Baking Plank.
Camerons Chicken Beeroaster Deluxe with Vegetable/Potato Clips.
Camerons Smoker (as used by Mat Follas on Masterchef and also demonstrated by him on ITV's This Morning Show this year).
A huge selection of Wood Chips to use in conjunction with the Smoker or for using on the barbecue to flavour food.
A pack of 6 Beech Wood Wraps.
Recipe Book

Reviews for the above products will be appearing on here shortly, so please pop back and read how I/we got on, because my husband has also taken a very keen interest in using these too!

I will be revisiting these products after the first initial reviews have been posted, so please look out for future recipes, including some from the Recipe Book.


The first product I have chosen to review is the Large Oven Baking Plank which is made of Cedar wood.

The Large Oven Baking Plank measures 38mm x 267mm x 432mm, but there is also a smaller version. There are two bolts which run through the width of the plank and these must be kept tight. If cracks appear then it will be necessary to tighten the stainless steel rods which go through the plank.

The Cedar wood imparts a subtle flavour to the food and you will also find your food stays moist. Also, because you are using very little oil, it is a very healthy and low fat way to cook food.

Presentation of food is always important and you can take the Oven Baking Plank to the table and serve straight from it (always take care because the board is very hot and retains heat, do not place the Oven Baking Plank directly onto any surface).

The first, and most important thing to do, is oil the hollow cooking area on the Oven Baking Plank with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (this will help prevent cracking). Next, you place the Oven Baking Plank into a cold oven and set the temperature to between 180°C and 200°C, depending on what you choose to cook. After 10 minutes you can then pop your ingredients on to the board to cook for your chosen time.

After you have used the Plank you must let it cool down completely, then wash with soapy water. Leave to dry completely and then oil the complete Plank.

With the onset of winter and the barbecue season over (unless you have a BBQ with a lid), the Oven Baking Plank adds another dimension to oven cooking. I'm always looking for other ways to cook food and I am now definitely an Oven Baking Plank convert.

Click on all of the photographs for a close up view of the product .


Put the oiled board into a cold oven for 10 minutes at 190°C.

Meanwhile, parboil the roast potatoes and then simply spray with olive oil.

Take your Pork Chop and press a sage leaf on to the meat, season with pepper. Lay a bed of thyme and rosemary leaves on the board and place the pork chops and potatoes on top, along with a red onion. Cook for approximately 1½ hours until the meat is tender.

The meat was deliciously moist and tender and had a subtle Cedar flavour. The kitchen is filled with Cedar aroma whilst the food is cooking and everything smells delicious.


Same method as outlined above - simply rub two tablespoons of olive oil into the baking area on the Oven Baking Plank and place the plank into a cold oven and set the temperature to 190°C. After 10 minutes place your chosen food onto the plank.

You will need: 175g baby new potatoes, 1 red onion cut into wedges, 1 large sliced courgette, black pepper, ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary, 4 tomatoes sliced into wedges, 2 slices of Brie, basil leaves to garnish.

Cook the potatoes for approximately 15 minutes and drain, lay a bed of rosemary and thyme on the Plank, add the potatoes and wedges of onion and spray with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle over the cumin seeds, cook for 45 minutes.

Add the courgette slices to the board and cook for 15 minutes, now add the tomato wedges and cook for 10 minutes.

Lastly, add the Brie slices and cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the Brie has melted slightly. Season to taste.
NOTE: Don't be tempted to use Light Brie as I did because it just won't melt!

All of the vegetables cooked perfectly and again had a subtle Cedar wood flavour.


Again, oil the hollow on the Oven Baking Plank and then pop into a cold oven at 190°C for 10 minutes. The courgettes take approximately 45 minutes to cook (you can see from the photograph I didn't give mine quite long enough to colour up, but I am learning).

Add the cherry tomatoes to the board 15 minutes after the courgettes went on. Add the salmon portions for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Season the fish and vegetables and serve with slices of lemon.

The fish was beautifully moist with a subtle Cedar wood flavour and definitely benefited from this way of cooking.

18 Oct 2009


As a newbie to smoking food, I decided to start with salmon fillets and a Camembert cheese. These took the same amount of time to cook which is approximately 15 minutes. Baby new potatoes dipped in smoked Camembert was a revelation, and will be made many times again, also the salmon was deliciously moist and smoked. I chose to use Alder Wood Chips, which came supplied with the Stovetop Smoker.

The food smoking possibilities are endless. Cheese, tomatoes, pork chops, chicken, fish, seafood, sausages and potatoes - just to name a few options. Any foods you may think will benefit from searing after smoking can then just be placed onto a griddle pan.

My husband has decided he is going to use the smoker on the barbecue, load it with sausages, potato wedges and vegetables then finish cooking them on the barbecue. He is coming up with ideas now - anything to do with the barbecue and you soon get his interest!

I've had a few requests from him such as smoked salmon fishcakes and smoked tomatoes, maybe these can be part of my next stovetop smoker posting.

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the Oven Baking Plank sent to me by Cookequip, this time it is the turn of the Stovetop Smoker. I have been sent the Gourmet Edition - Mini Smoker which can be used indoors on the hob, or outdoors on a barbecue.

The smoker is made from stainless steel and consists of a base where you put a small amount of wood chips, next you insert the drip pan and top with a food rack. Put your food to be smoked on the oiled rack and slide the lid to close. Cooking instructions and recipes are on a separate booklet included with the smoker, also included are a couple of tubs of wood chips to get you started. After use the inside of the smoker will turn black but this is normal and means you are using it!

The smoker comes with a cooking guide explaining the matching of wood chips to certain types of food, I chose to use Alder and the book explains this is a mild wood ideal for smoking salmon, seafood and vegetables. Although Alder isn't recommended to smoke cheese I found it was a suitable match.

Smoking food is all about tweaking - which wood chips you prefer to use, the quantity and also how long you prefer to smoke your food. I am at the beginning of the learning curve with smoking and from time to time I will come back with a few photographs of food I have smoked.


Ever thought about cooking Beeroaster chicken? I have been writing my food blog for over three years now and have seen this method of cooking chicken on numerous food blogs, somehow I never seemed to get around to having a go.

Cookequip sent me the Chicken Beeroaster Deluxe which comes complete with a tube, drip pan and vegetable clips - this is by far the safer option for using this method of cooking.
The Beeroaster can be either used in an oven or a barbecue with a closed lid.

The Beeroaster comes with a cooking guide and recipes.

The tube can be filled with beer, ale, wine or fruit juice to flavour the chicken and to add to the flavour experience a rub can be sprinkled on the outside of the chicken and also inside the cavity.

I poured beer into the tube, rubbed Cajun seasoning over the outside of the chicken and lowered the cavity of the chicken onto the tube until the legs reach the bottom of the drip pan. Then the Beeroaster was placed onto the barbecue and a couple of potatoes were put onto the vegetable spikes. We then closed the lid of the barbecue and cooked the chicken for 1½ hours, the potatoes took 1 hour, you can also put corn onto the vegetable spikes and this takes about 20 minutes to cook.

The skin was golden and crispy, the meat was tender, moist and flavoursome. You don't even need to baste the chicken, it just takes care of itself - couldn't be simpler!

My husband is taking a keen interest in the Beeroaster and next year I'll be putting more postings on here with recipes. I'm sure the man in your life won't mind opening a bottle of beer now and then, so that you too can have Beeroaster chicken!


Beech Wood Wraps come in a pack of six - Beech wood gives the food a sweet and mild flavour and is an ideal choice for cooking fish and seafood.

Halved spring onions were placed onto the wrap then topped with salmon and anointed with soy sauce. Sprinkle with brown sugar, red chilli and grate over some ginger. I served the cooked salmon with a vegetable stir fry and the salmon was extremely moist and delicious.

Here is how to use the Wood Wraps: Presoak the wraps in water then pat dry. Spread olive oil onto the area where you will be placing the food, this is to stop the food sticking to the wood wrap.

Place the food onto the oiled area and wrap around the food. Tie with string or a spring onion leaf (I tried the spring onion for photographic purposes but got in a mess!!). Place the wraps onto a baking tray and then into an oven 180°C. My salmon took about 20 minutes to cook. Remove the string, open up the wood wrap and serve.

There are many wood wraps to choose from, including a pack containing cherry, cedar, maple, oak, walnut and beech, enough to keep any cook happy!

A few more ideas for using wood wraps are on the Cookequip website.

13 Oct 2009


FALL IN LOVE WITH PUDDINGS ALL OVER AGAIN..............Serve them with Baileys Extra Thick Cream. This was the heading on an email sent to me by Claire - and would I like to sample Baileys Original Irish Extra Thick Cream and also Baileys Extra Thick Cream with a Hint of Creme Caramel. As a pudding lover, of course I would!

If you, like me, are a Baileys lover then these smooth, thick creams are for you, and very moreish.

My first delivery of cream was Baileys Extra Thick Cream with a Hint of Caramel and it was a perfect match with this pudding.


Serves: 4 people

50g butter - softened, 35g caster sugar, 75g dark brown sugar, 1 egg, 100g bananas - chopped, 125g self-raising flour - sieved, 150g golden syrup (this is about one good tablespoon of golden syrup per ramekin).

You will need: 4 x ramekin dishes, greased, with a greaseproof paper disc placed at the bottom of each one.

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C /130°F Fan, Gas 2.
2. Mix together the softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the bananas and flour and mix again.
3. Pour the golden syrup into the ramekins, then add the pudding mixture until each ramekin is two-thirds full. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes. If they aren't quite ready cover with foil and cook for a further 5 minutes or so.

To serve: Turn out the puddings from the ramekins, dust them with icing sugar and serve with Baileys Creme Caramel Extra Thick Cream and a few slices of banana.

10 Oct 2009

Charbonnel et Walker Review

Victoria, who represents Charbonnel et Walker noticed I wrote a short posting regarding a mystery gift sent through the post to me a couple of years ago and asked if I would like to introduce you to some of their very special chocolates.

I will give you a brief history of Charbonnel et Walker, as sent to me, by them:

Their flagship store on Old Bond Street, is their oldest store, they have been at Old Bond Street since 1875. All of their chocolates are handmade in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Many are made to Madame Charbonnel’s original recipes. they specialise in traditional English favourites such as Rose & Violet Creams etc.

They were established in 1875 when King Edward VII (then the Prince of Wales) visited Paris and met Madame Charbonnel who was a chocolatier for the Maison Boissier chocolate house. He loved her chocolates so much he persuaded her to come back to London to set up business with Mrs Walker on Old Bond Street. They have connections with the Royal Household ever since and feel much pride and privilege to be endorsed with Her Majesty’s Royal Warrant.

English Rose & Violet Creams

English Rose & Violet Creams are one of Charbonnel et Walker's most renowned products. The essential oils used in these are Traditional Attar's; oils extracted from the petals of these flowers. Each chocolate is finished with a crystallised petal. These are plain chocolates with a minimum of 60% cocoa solids. May I suggest eating the petal first before eating the chocolate cream, somehow this seems to be the optimum way to enjoy them!

These were just so pretty it was difficult to bring myself to eat any of them - I didn't want to spoil the box of chocolates and I left tasting these until last. I just wanted to sit and look at these beautiful chocolates.

Banoffee Truffles

Banoffee Truffles are one of their newest truffle creations and described by them as a delicious, handmade creation of white chocolate, butter, natural banana extracts and caramel enrobed in a milk chocolate shell.

They have described these truffles much better than I could and all I can say is think 'banoffee pie'!

The box isn't particularly easy on the eye, but when you lift the lid and are met with the banoffee aroma you can forgive them.

The Classics Book Box Milk & Plain Assortment

An assortment of both plain and milk chocolates. The chocolate to the left in the photograph is Truffle Cafe - a smooth truffle centre with a wonderful coffee flavour coming through.
Fudge Chocolate - to the right in the photograph, with a firm chocolate fudge centre.

All of the above are smooth chocolate with extremely flavoursome centres and I am very privileged to have been given the opportunity to taste them. They are definitely the most special chocolates to have ever made an appearance in my house.

Thank you Victoria.

4 Oct 2009


Mornflakes have sent me some of their oat based cereals and asked if I would do a posting using some of their products.

The weather will soon be turning colder and we can now turn our thoughts to eating porridge for breakfast and also making a few recipes using oats.

It's a great time of the year to make Apple and Blackberry Crumble and as I have been given lots of wild blackberries, I couldn't think of a better way to use some of them.

The crumble was made in the usual way but I added about three tablespoons of oats to the topping, along with some demerara sugar, to give extra crunch. I lightly toasted some flaked almonds in a pan, and sprinkled them over the crumble once it had cooled down a little. A dusting of icing sugar and then a few raspberries from my garden for decoration.

Blackberry and Apple Cranachan to use up some more of these delicious wild blackberries and also for some indulgence.

I also chose to make Anzac biscuits because I had some fresh desiccated coconut in the freezer and I am trying to make room now for my Christmas baking. Also, I can't remember the last time I made biscuits!

I have mentioned in the past about making desiccated and shredded coconut, but making your own is so much better than the coconut you buy in a packet. It's definitely something to make on a rainy day though.


Serves 6
3 large cooking apples, 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon water, 200g blackberries(fresh or frozen).

For the crumble topping: 175g plain white flour, 75g butter, 75g Demerara sugar, 3 tablespoons of oats.

1. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C/fan 350/Gas 4.
2. Place the apples, sugar and water in a saucepan and cook over a gentle heat, stirring from time to time, for 10 minutes until the apples soften and become pulpy.
3. Place the cooked apples in a large ovenproof dish to cool and sprinkle over the blackberries.
4. Rub the flour and butter together, until large flakes form, stir in the oats and demerara sugar.
5. Top the apples and blackberries with the crumble and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
6. Toast a handful of flaked almonds and sprinkle over the cooked crumble. Decorate with more blackberries or some raspberries, if you like.


Serves: 4 people

You will need: 50g butter, 75g rolled oats, 50g caster sugar, 50ml whipping cream, 115g Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons each of honey, whisky and light muscovado sugar, 200g blackberries, 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced, Creme de mure or creme de cassis to drizzle.

1. Melt half the butter in a small pan, add the oats and cook for 1 minute, then add half the caster sugar. Stir for 4-5 minutes until the oats are lightly caramelised, then tip onto a piece of baking paper and leave to cool.
2. Lightly whip the cream, then fold in the yogurt, honey, whisky, muscovado sugar and oats. Stir in the blackberries (set a few aside to decorate), crushing them slightly.
3. In a pan, melt the remaining butter and saute the apples for 3-4 minutes. When the apples begin to soften, add the remaining caster sugar and cook until caramelised. Put on one side to cool.
4. Layer up the cream and oats with the apples in 4 glasses. Top with the reserved blackberries and drizzle with a little cassis.


Makes 20

You will need: 85g porridge oats, 85g desiccated coconut, 100g plain flour, 100g caster sugar, 100g butter plus extra butter for greasing, 1 tablespoon golden syrup, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda.

1. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4. Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the golden syrup. Add the bicarbonate of soda to to 2 tablespoons of boiling water, then stir into the golden syrup and butter mixture.
2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter and golden syrup mixture. Stir gently to incorporate the dry ingredients.
3. Put dessertspoonfuls of the mixture on to buttered baking sheets about 2.5cm apart to allow room for spreading. Bake in batches for 8-10 minutes until golden.