26 Jul 2010

It's Barbecue Time!

This year, so far, the summer has been fairly kind to us - last year the barbecue was used only a few times and the majority of them, when my husband was brave enough, were cooked under a couple of parasols, to shield both him and the barbecue from torrential rain. Unfortunately on Saturday, we had a very sudden and sharp shower, it was definitely a deja vous moment, with my husband muttering something like 'I don't believe it'!!!

The BBQ Grill and Chill Selection Pack is by Pipers Farm who are located in Devon. The pack includes 4 Red Ruby Steak Burgers(440g), 4 Pork Sausages(350g), 4 Red Ruby Grilling Steaks, 4 Spicy Chicken Drumsticks(600g), 4 Pork Steaks marinaded in lime and ginger(500g) and 2 Lamb Kebab(250g)Packs(500g).

For me, the lamb kebabs were the star and must be the best lamb I have ever eaten. My husband cooked the kebabs so they were still pinkish, succulent and juicy. The steak burgers were full of flavour, the Red Ruby Grilling Steaks were cut thick to help stop them drying out. The sausage was a reminder of old fashioned finely ground pork sausage which was pleasing, because I am not very keen on coarse textured sausage. Both the Spicy Chicken Drumsticks and and Pork Steaks had a tasty marinade.

The BBQ Grill and Chill Selection Pack is delivered direct from the farm in a huge box - open it up and there is a personalised signed letter greeting you as a customer, information regarding your purchase and a leaflet relating to the Pipers Farm family. Delve down into the box through the packing and you will find your meat box surrounded by ice packs. The ice packs can be re-used, and the box, paper and plastic packaging can all be recycled.

Inside the box is your meat selection, well presented and surrounded by ice packs. The meat is frozen and individually packed in free-flow vacuum bags. Each pack comes with its own set of information regarding the product, tips on defrosting and suggestions for cooking. The Lamb Kebab pack comes with lots of wooden skewers - just remember to soak them first before you use them (I forgot).

For this barbecue there was just the two of us. I couldn't possibly eat all of the selection pack, otherwise I would have to spend all week in the gym trying to use up endless calories. As the packs are free-flow you only need to take out as much, or as little as you need.

A few interesting facts about Pipers Farm:

Pipers Farm was started 20 years ago by Peter and Henrietta Greig when their sons were very young. Their goal was to produce healthy meat that as a family they could enjoy eating with complete confidence. Today, Pipers Farm helps to sustain 30 farming families who have nurtured the countryside for generations. They passionately believe in offering their customers the best and healthiest meat they can buy, always a pleasure to cook, sensational to eat and excellent value.

Pipers Farm are multi award winning - Red Ruby Steak Burgers have a Gold Taste of the West Awards 2008, BBC Best Food Producer 2007, are one of Rick Stein's Food Heroes.

Thank you Laurel and Pipers Farm.

22 Jul 2010


The inspiration for these cakes came from the wonderful lavender bush in my garden. I looked for recipes using lavender but as I am on a 'flowers and cupcakes' mission at the moment, Nigella's recipe in her book Forever Summer was perfect.

Nigella created these lavender cupcakes to raise money for the Lavender Trust, which is a charity for young women with breast cancer and was set up in memory of Ruth Picardie.

Whilst in the garden on a glorious hot and sunny day, I gained an unexpected 'new friend', a butterfly no less. As I started to cut a few lavender sprigs, he settled on the bush. He was a little camera shy and the photograph, unfortunately, doesn't show all of his markings.

For this recipe you will need to make some lavender sugar first. Simply put a few sprigs of lavender into some caster sugar for a few days and hey presto, lavender sugar.

For the cupcakes you will need:

125 g self-raising flour, 125g very soft unsalted butter, 125g sieved lavender sugar, 2 eggs, pinch salt and a few tablespoons of milk.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C /Gas 6 and line a 12 bun muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Put all of the cake ingredients, except the milk, into a food processor and whizz, now blend in the milk.
3. Fill the cake cases and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.

For the icing:
250g Instant Royal Icing, violet icing colour, twelve sprigs lavender

1. Cut the peaked tops off the cooled cupcakes.
2. Make up the icing with a little water to a thick double cream pouring consistency. Put some food colour paste onto a skewer and dye the icing to a pastel violet.
3. Spoon some of the icing over the top of the cupcakes. Top each of the cupcakes with a little sprig of lavender before the icing sets.

Cupcake on FoodistaCupcake

3 Jul 2010


Australian Women's Weekly books are always a source of inspiration and this recipe came from The Complete Book of Cupcakes. I seem to be in cupcake mode again............

The flowers are made from thinly sliced pineapple slices which have been coated in sugar syrup and dried in the oven. I think the flowers are really pretty.

The pineapple carrot cake recipe they gave for the cupcakes wasn't great and I think a lemon sponge cake recipe to fill 12 cupcakes would be a better option, then simply top with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

30g unsalted softened butter, 80g softened cream cheese, 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind, 240g icing sugar, lemon juice

1. Beat the butter, cream cheese and rind in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, gradually beat in the sifted icing sugar. Add enough lemon juice to make a soft frosting.

Pineapple Flowers:

1 tablespoon caster sugar, 1 tablespoon water, 12 wafer thin slices fresh pineapple

1. Preheat the oven to 120°C/100°F Fan. Stir the sugar and water together in a small saucepan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, boil 1 minute.
2. Brush both sides of the pineapple slices with the sugar syrup. Place the slices in a single layer on wire racks over oven trays.
3. Dry pineapple in oven for about 1 hour. Immediately remove the slices from the rack to prevent sticking.
4. Carefully shape into flowers by pinching the centre of each slice, dry over an upturned egg carton.

Cupcake on FoodistaCupcake