29 Nov 2013

Crumble Topped Mince Pies - Recipe

We've eaten all the mince pies
 so I guess I'll just have to make some more!
I love mince pies and I love crumble too and these pies are perfect.  They can be eaten on their own, and are delicious warm, but work well with either cream or ice cream.

Delia's mincemeat recipe never lets me down and I make this every year because it isn't too sweet and it never boils over the sides of the pies. I always leave out the peel and almonds though. The sweet pastry is easily made in a food processor.

Fresh from the oven

I only used half the pastry and froze the remainder.  There will also be some crumble left, this too will freeze.

You will need: 12 cup bun tin, greased and mincemeat

Makes: 12 mince pies

For the sweet pastry:

225g plain flour, 115g butter, 50g lard, 25g icing sugar, 1 egg  

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Sift flour into a bowl add the butter and lard. Rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the icing sugar and then the beaten egg. Bring together to form a smooth dough. Place in plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Roll out just over half the pastry to 3mm thickness and cut out circles large enough to fit the base of the tart tins.
3. Place a dessert spoon of mincemeat into each pastry base.

For the crumble topping:

150g fridge cold butter, 150g self raising flour, 75g demerara sugar, flaked almonds

1. Cube the butter and rub into the self raising flour until large flakes are formed.  Add the demerara sugar and stir.
2. Top the mincemeat with crumble and scatter over a few flaked almonds.
3. Place in the oven for 20 minutes until the crumble is golden.
4. Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes and then remove and place on a cooling rack.

26 Nov 2013

Culinary Adventures with Marmite

Kitchen Delights London Reporter @PaulFoodie getting to grips with an intriguing Marmite menu........

Love it or hate it - Marmite has been a firm staple of British life since records began (well since I was born). This dark sticky brown paste certainly makes an impression – whether on my morning toast or via a loving dollop popped into my spag bol to bring out the flavour.  So now we know that I don’t hate it.

It was with wild excitement that I was invited to try a Marmite curry at Cinnamon Soho in London’s West End. Talk about being innovative and catching the attention of a bunch of curious food blogger's. You’ll have to read on to see if it worked…

Here is what Vivek Singh, the man behind Cinnamon created for us.

                                                Stir fried shrimp, Marmite and pepper fry

Yummy! Yummy! The marmite gave it a subtle depth and surprisingly, went well with the shrimp – a bit like a flavoursome glaze and very moreish!

               Seared fillet of sea bream, Marmite and curry leaf crust, Marmite coconut sauce

Wow – you wouldn’t think it, but this was by far my favourite dish - I don’t know how, but it worked. The Marmite was infused with a curry leaf crusting so you could enjoy the delicate taste of the white fish but with a zingy after taste of Marmite cutting through.

                            Chilli and peanut chicken breast with a Marmite korma sauce -                                                                                     Marmite and honey, chilli-garlic naan

A great idea, combination wise, but not the holy trinity of the curry world. I’m not sure if I was just mourning a typical korma sauce for this Indian classic.

                                              Marmite Chocolate and Cardamom Mousse

I can’t say I loved this – I really wasn’t feeling it with the chocolate and cardamom – I felt it was too earthy but I did like the salt interspersed throughout the mousse. My fellow diners loved it though!

                                       All this can be yours as a set Marmite Menu for £35

Thanks a million to Cinnamon Soho

25 Nov 2013

Breville Aurora Stainless Steel 4 Slice Toaster - Review

Foodies love practical presents and this fabulous retro Breville Aurora Stainless Steel 4 Slice Toaster will look stylish in all kitchens and bring a welcome splash of colour. The toaster has some fabulous features - a lift and look to view progress of toast without cancelling, variable browning and width slots, defrost, reheat and mid-cycle cancel functions, and illuminated buttons. This is a large toaster and will be a great help at breakfast time for busy families trying to get out of the house on time for the school run. I'm not sure whether all sliced bread will fit perfectly into the toaster, it's just a case of trying different brands.
Breville is a trusted name and the brand has been around since the 1980's.
Available in Candy Red, Shimmer Cream or a Twilight Black and matching kettles are also available.
RRP £49.99 from Asda and Tesco

Thank you for the review sample.

20 Nov 2013

Mary Berry's Whole Orange Spice Cake

Whole Orange Spice Cake
I took this recipe from Mary Berry's Christmas Collection cookery book which I've had since it first came out in 2006, although there is now an updated version.

It's an easy cake to make but one which requires using a food processor.  My small processor just coped with the amount of batter mix.
The skin was too thick and my orange had to be cooked for an hour or so
The orange should be a thin skinned variety otherwise it won't cook down enough in 20 minutes and will process into hard chunks of orange.

It's a huge cake, well it is for 2 people, I think it will feed 12 easily and because it freezes well without the icing sugar topping, it makes a very inexpensive cake to feed a crowd over Christmas and New Year. If I made the cake again I'd definitely make some type of orange topping rather than the dusting of icing sugar. The cake is very light and moist and I served my cake with double cream.

The star template is reusable and came in an assorted pack from Lidl.

I line the base and sides of my sandwich tins
 to ensure the cake doesn't stick to the tin
The recipe can be found on the Mary Berry website.

18 Nov 2013

illy University of Coffee

Marco Arrigo, illy Head of Quality
We were invited to the illy University of Coffee at the Business Design Centre in Islington to attend a Coffee Tasting and Training Experience with Marco Arrigo, illy Head of Quality.

Marco started the day by allowing the air to be released from a huge canister of coffee. We were yet to have our first coffee of the day and couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the world of illy.

Priding themselves on high quality coffee derived from a single blend of 100% Arabica beans and by using nine different beans from across the world, the parameters of each bean can be quantified and qualified to ensure the blend is consistent in its quality, very much like a premium champagne. This ensures the user will always enjoy the same coffee experience.

Using a commercial coffee machine, handling the porter filter, learning about tamping coffee and how to make the perfect milk for cappuccino, latte, flat white and macchiato. It's all a bit daunting and manic when you've only experienced the 'other side of the counter' in a coffee shop.

One cappuccino, one latte and two macchiatos demanded Marco, this was a call which we were to hear repeatedly until we were achieving a good result for these types of coffee.

Two single espresso coming up Marco
Our steamed milk
We were taught how to steam milk using full fat milk and how to place the steam wand into the milk correctly to froth and texture.  To get rid of bubbles in the milk you have to bang the jug down onto the counter top and swirl the milk constantly to keep it on the move and make it shiny ready for pouring.
Cappuccino made by Marco
Leaf design for latte and making a flat white
Getting the espresso ready for the macchiato
Macchiato is made using the very last foamed milk from the jug
Coffee cup envy
illy coffee experience
Francis Francis X7.1 Espresso Machine using iperEspresso Capsules
This fabulous coffee machine has been designed by architect Luca Trazzi and comes in red, white or black. I chose this eye catching red machine and with its sleek lines it looks stunning in my kitchen. It is extremely easy to use and all you have to do is insert an iperEspresso capsule, press the cup symbol and you have the perfect espresso with an excellent crema. Milk is easily frothed to make latte and cappuccino for the coffee shop experience. The coffee is outstanding in quality and I'm enjoying working my way through Classic, Dark Roast and Decaf.  This clever coffee machine is a crowd pleaser, doesn't make a mess and delivers consistently great coffee every time.

For a fabulous Christmas Gift there is a promotional code for readers to use MAGGIE20 this will give 20% off Illy coffee and machines at www.espressocrazy.com and expires on 1st January 2014.

Thank you to illy Coffee and Marco - for a fun and informative day.

13 Nov 2013

Jamie Oliver Cast Aluminium Range Grill Pan by Tefal - Review

Tefal Jamie Oliver Cast Aluminium Range Grill Pan
measures 29cm x 25cm
I've just had an induction hob fitted in my kitchen and this grill pan is perfect, although the pan can be used on all other heat sources too.  My old pan can't be used on induction and I've been looking round for some time now to get a replacement.  The options are either cast iron which are very heavy, or a few others which were lighter to handle but I wasn't convinced they would last or cook very evenly. This pan is more lightweight than cast iron and very strong and sturdy. Tefal is a trusted name and a brand I have used before and I knew I was going to be in for a treat when I was offered the pan to review.
Grilled salmon, crushed peas with mint and potatoes boulangere
Grill pans encourage me to cook healthier food, I came back from my annual holiday a couple of weeks ago and now thinking ahead to all the Christmas food I'm about to consume, I'm going to try and plan my meals carefully.

The pan is very roomy and you can easily cook four to six salmon steaks or chicken breast fillets at the same time.  Salmon takes about 3 or 4 minutes each side to cook.  I always oil the food and not the pan and this pan only requires a minimum of oil because it is non-stick. The underside of the handle is silicone for a non-slip grip and it stays cool too.

The pan has the patented Thermospot which is a great feature, simply put the pan on the heat and wait until the red pattern on the spot in the middle of the pan disappears and becomes a solid red spot. The pan will be at the optimum heat to sear and cook.

Parmesan chicken with griddled sweetcorn
Delicious grilled pineapple - simply baste the pineapple with honey 
Chicken marinated in soy sauce, Worcester sauce and brown sugar
The pan is really easy to clean. I cooked the pineapple in the pan first, let the pan cool a little and then gave it a quick wash in soapy water. Afterwards I cooked the chicken - any debris in the pan comes off easily with soapy water.

The base of the pan 
Oven safe to 260ºC - meat can be seared on the pan and then finished cooking in the oven.
Pro-metal hard non-stick interior.
Metal utensils can be safely used, excluding whisks and knives.
Heats quickly.
Even heat distribution.
Food stays beautifully moist.
Hand washing recommended - not a chore though because debris comes off easily.

Available from Debenhams - Price £70

Thank you to Tefal for the grill pan.

12 Nov 2013

Pyramid Pan Silicone Baking Mat - Review

Image Courtesy of Find Me A Gift
The Pyramid Pan Silicone Baking Mat is a very useful piece of kitchen kit.  The pyramids are there to catch any fatty deposits and ensure the food stays crisp.
                                                       The mat measures 29cm x 40cm

The mat fits snugly inside a large oven tray.
The mat is multifunctional - it can be used as an oven baking mat up to conventional 220ºC, on the work surface as a trivet for hot pans, or used as a sink drainer which is useful for those delicate glasses. Dishwasher and microwave safe.

Crispy chicken and jacket potatoes
Tried and Tested:

  • I tested the mat by cooking crispy Cajun chicken and jacket potatoes.  The chicken and potatoes sit on top of the pyramids which allows hot air to circulate underneath the food and any fat from the chicken is caught at the base of the pyramids which ensures food stays crisp and doesn't sit in a pool of fat. 
  • Food doesn't stick to the mat
  • Easy to wash by hand, simply place into a bowl of soapy washing up water and any debris comes off easily
  • Rolls up for storage and after unrolling it will sit flat

Price £18.99 from Find Me A Gift - visit their website for lots more great gift ideas.

Thank you to Find Me A Gift for the review sample.

9 Nov 2013

Red Onion Focaccia

I'm now getting to grips with the new cooking facility in my kitchen, although the kitchen still isn't finished.....hopefully it will be before Christmas. The glass man has now installed the splash backs, hubby has completed the bespoke task lighting - the electrician is to return to do a few finishing touches and the fitter has a couple of items to complete......it isn't a huge kitchen and it has taken far too long but I'm really happy with my choices.

I decided to have an oven stack which includes a combination steam oven, an all singing all dancing main oven and a warming draw. The combination steam oven is a gem - it cooks and reheats effortlessly.  It does take some getting used to and you have to be careful not to get burnt when the steam is released from the oven door.  I'm still in the learning process but it's great to have some new kitchen toys.

Proving dough in the steam oven is successful, the dough doesn't form a skin and it proves without covering. The bread is cooked on a special setting which uses the fan and also injects steam.

Instructions aren't included below for making the focaccia in a combination steam oven.

You will need:
450g strong white flour
2 teaspoons salt
7g easy blend dried yeast
4 tablespoons olive oil
350ml tepid water

For the topping:
2 tablespoons olive oil
285g red onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt

1. Slice the red onions.  Put the two tablespoons of oil into a pan and add the onions. Dampen a round piece of greaseproof paper and place on top of the onions. Leave to cook gently for 10 minutes.
2. Remove the greaseproof paper and add the crushed garlic, stir and cook for a minute. Remove the onions from the pan and transfer to a plate to cool.
3. Place the flour into a mixing bowl, add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other ensuring the yeast and salt do not come into contact with each other.  Add the olive oil and 350ml tepid water, mix to a soft dough.
4. Knead for 10 minutes by hand or 6 minutes in a food mixer.
5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and turn to coat in the oil. Cover the bowl with clingwrap and leave to rise for about 1 hour in a warm place.
6. Line a 25cmx30cm baking tray with baking parchment and oil lightly. Remove the risen dough and place in the roasting tin, stretching to fit.  Cover with oiled clingwrap and leave the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled in size.
7. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
8. Dip the fingertips in flour and press down into the dough.
9. Top the dough with the cooled onions. Sprinkle over the sea salt, if using. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown.  Drizzle over more olive whilst warm.

4 Nov 2013

Individual Jumbleberry Crumbles

Individual berry crumbles
I love a good homely crumble and every now and again I like to use individual ramekins instead of making one large pud. This is a very quick pudding - the crumble mix is stashed away in the freezer, the same for the berries, which are fruits from my garden.  I used a mixture of redcurrants, we had loads this year and the birds actually left some for us, only a few blueberries though because the birds ate most of them and strawberries which I froze and aren't any good once thawed because they turn into mush and need to go into some sort of pie or crumble.

We ate ours with a scoop of ice cream, double cream is good too. Hubby doesn't manage to get his beloved Birds custard when I make crumble in ramekins......he really likes custard and pudding and not the other way round.  Sometimes though I could fall out with Birds custard, I really could.

This is an adapted recipe based on Nigella's Jumbleberry Crumbles.

100 grams Self-raising flour
50 grams cold butter (cut into small cubes)
3 tablespoons demerara sugar
100 grams frozen berries
1 teaspoon cornflour
2 teaspoons sugar

You will need: four ovenproof ramekins

1. Put the flour into a bowl with the cubes of butter. Using a large fork mash the butter against the sides of the bowl and into the flour.  This will produce a clumpy crumble. Now mix in the sugar.
2. Preheat the oven to 220°C.  Place the frozen fruit in the ramekins and sprinkle the cornflour and sugar over the top.
3. Top each ramekin with crumble mix, sit the ramekins on a tray and bake for 20 minutes until the filling is bubbling round the sides.