29 Aug 2012

Chicken Pesto Parcels

Served with a few crushed new potatoes garnished with chopped chives.
After eating out on numerous occasions recently, it's always great to get back to normality and eat home cooked food.  Hubby always says he prefers my meals, but then like most men, he has learnt the art of saying the right things.........

Tasty, quick, simple with just one ready made ingredient and all cooked together in a tray.

My ready made ingredient is fresh pesto from Waitrose, it's amazing and you can even see whole pieces of pine nuts in the pesto sauce. This is one of my finds that is nearly as good as home made.  I buy a pot and pour some into an ice cube tray and freeze for a rainy day.

The slightly adapted recipe is from The New Dairy Cookbook.

Serves: 4

You will need: 2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons pesto, 25g grated mature Cheddar cheese, 4 boneless chicken breasts, 2 red and 2 yellow deseeded peppers, 4 tomatoes cut into wedges, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 15g butter

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Mix together, pesto, Cheddar and breadcrumbs.
3. Cut a pocket into each chicken breast and fill with the pesto mixture. Use cocktail sticks to close the pocket.
4. Arrange the peppers and chicken in a baking dish and drizzle over the olive oil and dot with butter.
5. Roast for 25 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are charred at the edges.
6. After serving up drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and the pan juices.

24 Aug 2012

London: Fabulous Coffee Shops

Delicious quirky sandwiches at Allpress Espresso
Allpress Espresso, Shoreditch was first on our whirlwind tour of coffee shops in London - not all in one day, I hasten to add. They serve their local community and tourists, who like us, make a special journey to visit them.  Allpress Espresso originates from both Australia and New Zealand.  The coffee is faultless, and the food on both occasions when we have visited has been freshly prepared. The sandwiches and cakes are some of the best I have ever eaten in a coffee shop, and if you visit be sure to try their legendary fluffy scones served with cream and fresh berries, and whilst there perhaps you would be kind enough to see if you can get them to give you the recipe and pass it on to me!  Would you also ask them for the recipe of the cake in the photograph too...... :)

Almond and Orange Cake with a Custard Filling

Allpress roast their own coffee on site twice a week.
The coffee dispensers for take out fresh coffee beans.

Kaffeine, Great Titchfield Street, London was our next call. This is an independent Australian/New Zealand owned cafe in Fitzrovia, just off Oxford Street. It is a tiny coffee shop and very cool. 'Suppose you could say far too cool for us'. Their website says they use a Synesso Cyncra espresso machine which is known as the holy grail of espresso machines. If you like your coffee and latte art, want to sit somewhere that is 'too cool for school' then be sure to check out this tiny coffee shop. 

Beautifully presented latte art - just how I like my coffee

Delicious moist Strawberry Friand

Terrible photograph but it does show I visited Kaffeine!

St David Coffee House, Forest Hill SE23 is possibly the quirkiest coffee shop we have had the pleasure to visit. This coffee shop is also quite small but very cosy and homely too and we were greeted with a warm friendly smile. The background music is played on vinyl and adds a wonderful ambiance to the room. Full to the rafters with vinyl records, old furniture and collectables you can sit back and imagine you are in a bygone era. Weather permitting there are a few tables and chairs outside where you can sit for a while and simply relax......We thought this was a really friendly coffee shop and on this occasion didn't feel like tourists.  Nearly forgot, the lemon drizzle cake was superb.

Lots of time and care is taken to execute a perfect coffee.
The outside of St David Coffee House hiding the outside seating area.

The kilner jar holds free dog bikkies!
Another great coffee shop, and one that is new to Beckenham is Fee & Brown, we visited this too and the Australian barista made us a superb coffee. I think my favourite coffee shop is Monmouth in Borough Market and even though I have never eaten here, the coffee definitely takes some beating.  I like the ambiance, the queues, the frantic pace of Borough, jostling to get a seat, people watching, and their fabulous coffee topped with amazing latte art.

Back soon.

21 Aug 2012

Olympic Fun at Blackheath Village, London - Saturday, 11th August 2012

Children of all ages loved the fun fair.
Blackheath Village, London was busy, hot and fun.  It was a glorious day and there was the Big Screen to watch the Olympics, food stalls and great entertainment too.
Oops I have photographed the presenter and not the athletes taking part!

These ladies were Vanessa Mae lookalikes but with drum sticks!

Our lunch stop was Chapters All Day Dining, Blackheath Village - it wasn't too busy and is a great place to sit back, relax and do some people watching.

Burger with Gherkins, Onions, Tomato & Chips

Delicious Seared Salmon on a Bed of Stir Fry Vegetables (I think!)

Tagliatelle with Chives (we aren't sure about this because unfortunately it was bland).

Coming up:  Allpress, Shoreditch - Kaffeine, Great Titchfield Street - St David Coffee House, Forest Hill.

8 Aug 2012

White Cob Loaf by Paul Hollywood

Soft textured bread with a crisp crust and tender crumb.
I'm in bread making mode again. Sometimes this obsession only lasts for as long as it takes to make a loaf of bread. I really enjoy making bread in my food mixer, I can't say that I'm one for all that kneading by hand. I'm also a huge bread machine fan, simply throw everything into the bread pan and out comes either a perfect baked loaf of bread or a piece of ready-to-go dough, all ready to shape. 

I'm waiting to be sliced!

I thought the bread was a little on the salty side but maybe this is because we gave up being heavy handed with salt many, many years ago.  The instructions say to line the baking tray with silicone paper but if you do this the base of the bread won't crisp up - my preferred options are to either grease or flour the base of the baking tray, both of these methods will ensure a crisp bottom! Better still put a pizza stone in the oven to heat up and then put your baking tray on top of this, you will definitely have a cooked bottom then! I'm curious, why would you line a baking tray with silicone or baking paper when you need the base of the bread to be crisp and brown?

Everything all mixed and now ready for the first rise.

Now doubled in size and waiting to be knocked back.

The shaped dough waiting to be covered for a second rise until doubled in size.

After the second rise, I have been dusted with flour and I'm waiting to go into the oven.

I'm not great when it comes to cutting into bread dough, a very large sharp knife is required and you have to be quick and precise otherwise the bread dough will deflate.  In fact, this happened to me, that is why I am hiding the right hand third of the bread!  I was sent a fab product to sharpen my knives and I only wish I had used this prior to cutting the dough.  Great recipe from How to Bake by Paul Hollywood.

3 Aug 2012

Review: York Coffee Emporium - Coffee and Tea by Post

York Coffee Emporium have kindly sent me samples of luxury loose tea and gourmet coffee. They are York's only independent artisan micro-coffee roaster and all of their coffee is roasted in the heart of Yorkshire, fresh to order. York Coffee Emporium luxury teas are sourced from The Metropolitan Tea Company. Most of them contain either Fair Trade or Ethical Tea Partnership accredited tea.

Decaf 'Centrals' Blend is processed using the CO2 method and means no harmful chemicals have been used. I couldn't tell the coffee was decaffeinated, there is nothing worse than drinking decaf coffee that has a peculiar taste. The coffee is medium bodied with a good after taste and very enjoyable to drink.  If you drink decaffeinated coffee, or have considered buying decaffeinated coffee, freshly roasted gourmet coffee wins every time. Just imagine bringing that independent coffee shop experience into your own home.

Hubby is the tea drinker, he enjoys a cuppa and tasted the teas for me.  Russian Caravan (great name!) is a light black tea with a hint of Lapsang Souchong. In Russia the traditional way of making tea is to allow a pot to simmer and steep all day; this is why Russian Caravan tea is quite light and flavoursome to withstand a day in the pot.  Hubby described this fine tea as aromatic with a very good flavour and enjoyable to drink.

Buckingham Palace Garden Party Tea - the tea is described as a medium body blend delicately flavoured with Earl Grey and Jasmine.  This is the blend specially selected for garden parties at Buckingham Palace.  Earl Grey is hubbys favourite and he really enjoyed this Jasmine perfumed tea, he is a creature of habit and normally chooses Earl Grey with Bergomot. No Palace Garden Party for us, but he said the tea tasted wonderful.  If you are having a posh afternoon Garden Party of your own, I am assured this tea would be perfect.........weather permitting of course!

Thank you to York Coffee Emporium and Ben for the samples.