28 Jun 2014

Review: Maslin Preserving Pan by Judge Cookware and Strawberry Jam Recipe

Good looking Stainless Steel Preserving Pan with many features
My two rows of strawberries have produced loads of fruit this year and making jam is the best way to use a plentiful supply, a little work means that I will reap the rewards for the next few months.  I know from my past jam making experience that the taste of home made jam and the texture, even if it doesn't turn out perfectly, is far superior to some of the ones you can buy.

Mission accomplished - it looks like we have jam!
I'm not a seasoned jam maker, mainly because I haven't had a preserving pan and I'm always worried that the jam will boil up too much if I use my largest saucepan (the jam and dissolved sugar should never come up above one third of the sides of the pan).

Some of the useful features of the the Judge Cookware Maslin Pan: 8 Litre capacity, 30cm diameter, high quality stainless steel, pouring lip, balanced carry handle and helper handle. The pan is designed for a rolling boil and is suitable for all hob types (I used mine on an induction hob). Capacity markings on the inside of the pan.  Suitable for all jams, marmalade's and chutneys including acidic fruits. Can be used in the oven up to 240ºC. Easy to clean. Comes with a very useful jam making guide with hints and tips. Looks great in the kitchen. Judge Cookware 25 year guarantee.

Home cooking is now more popular than it has been for many years and is seen as a way of relaxation for many of us rather than a chore. There is now renewed interest in forgotten skills that our grandparents and parents took for granted and one of these is preserving seasonal food for the months ahead.
Strawberries and jam sugar
The jam sugar has dissolved and is now ready for the next stage

I used the Judge Thermometer, which I reviewed a while back, to test the jam was at setting point, the thermometer shows the temperature isn't far off the 105ºC needed for the setting temperature.

If the jam wrinkles when you run your finger through it and leaves a clean line,
 the jam has set
The recipe I used is very easy and works every time and will fill approximately three 500ml jam jars.

800g Strawberries
1kg Jam sugar with pectin
Juice of 1 lemon
A knob of butter

You will need:  3 saucers chilled in the freezer ready to test for the set
3 x 500ml hot sterilised jars

1. Prepare the strawberries by hulling and wiping any debris off the berries.
2. Add the sugar, lemon juice and strawberries to the pan. Crush some of the strawberries with a potato masher and keep some whole.
3. Heat over a medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar.
4. Add the knob of butter.  Keep stirring,increase the heat to bring to a rolling boil and rising in the pan.  Boil for 4 minutes - the thermometer should read 105 ºC.
5. Remove the pan from the heat.  Test for setting - place a few spoons of jam on a chilled plate, leave to stand for a minute and if the jam wrinkles when you run your finger through it this means you will have a set. Leave the jam in the preserving pan to cool for 15 minutes then pour into hot sterilised jars using a jam funnel.
6. Place a waxed disc on top of the jam.  Cover the jar with a damp cellophane disc and secure with a rubber band. Store in a cool place.

Judge Maslin preserving pan JA74 £45.00 for more details please visit www.judgecookware.co.uk

Available from Amazon, Harts of Stur, Independents both online and high street.

Disclaimer:  The pan was sent to me for review, all thoughts are my own, with many thanks to Pam and Judge Cookware.

21 Jun 2014

Meringue Roulade with Elderflower Infused Strawberries - Recipe

Strawberries from the garden, egg whites from the freezer, chocolate from the store cupboard - I only had to buy the whipping cream.  I nearly got away with a free dessert!

The slightly adapted recipe is by Mary Berry and one I have used many, many times and in true Mary Berry style - I cut the finished roulade in half and put one half in the freezer for another day.

I serve my meringue with lots of macerated strawberries
I'm very sad but I always feel happy when I line a tin neatly
Remove the lining paper and dab meringue into the four corners (this secures the lining paper)
place the lining paper into the tin and then add the meringue
The cooked meringue 
Now for the recipe:
4 egg whites
225g caster sugar
pinch cream of tartar
300ml whipping cream
1tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar for dusting
dark chocolate for decoration

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment.
2. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff. Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time, until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.
3. Spread the egg whites evenly on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes.
4. Take a large sheet of baking parchment and dust with sifted icing sugar.  Turn the meringue over onto the baking parchment.  Remove the paper from the base of the meringue.
5. Whip the cream and vanilla extract to soft peaks.
6. Spread the cream over the meringue, roll the meringue from one of the long ends, using the parchment paper to help with the rolling. Dust with icing sugar.
7. Melt a few pieces of dark chocolate and drizzle over the meringue.
TIP: The cream of tartar helps stabilise the meringue and prevents weeping too.

Elderflower Infused Strawberries
200g fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon elderflower cordial
1 tablespoon caster sugar

1. Wash the strawberries.
2. Cut the strawberries into quarters.
3. Pour over the elderflower cordial, sprinkle over the caster sugar.
4. Mix together.
5. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

The swiss roll tin I used measures 34x24x2 and is part of the range of The Bakers Dozen James Martin Bakeware by Stellar Cookware.

18 Jun 2014

The Future of Dining: Vapiano, London - Restaurant Review

Exterior of  Vapiano
Kitchen Delights London Reporter @PaulFoodie experiences a new dining concept.......

So what is Vapiano? Before I went some of my friends had heard of it but many hadn’t. Vapiano started out in Germany way back in 2002 and now they have over 140 restaurants in 26 countries and with two branches in Central London, they are now looking at expanding in the near future. The London branches can be found on Great Portland Street and on Southwark Street where I was invited to review.

Now pop your knife and fork down for just a moment. I’ve just seen the future of dining......

When you arrive you’re given a smart-card and you use this to order from a ‘food station’ and pay on leaving (more about this later readers).

Don't forget that the food isn’t brought over to you, you need to queue up and wait for a few minutes because it’s freshly made in front of you – wow! Not a problem unless one person orders for 8 people which seemed to be the only flaw in the system.

When you walk into the restaurant, you are hit by a hive of activity.  You can see pasta being handmade and chefs preparing and cooking at different food stations including pasta, salad, pizza and desserts. You are then given the smart-card and informed that you can order anything you like and pay at the end.

My group consisted of two young school age children and three adults. Once we got the hang of the card concept it made for a nice leisurely lunch which was in the spirit of the restaurant. Children are given colouring packs and we all ordered what we fancied using the 3 cards between us.

Now as for the food, it was faultless and scrumptious. From the gorgeous little anti-pasti selection to the main courses including a simple cheese and tomato pizza and numerous pasta dishes. I opted for a Pollo Piccante which was a chicken breast and pak choi combo in an orange chilli sauce. We also enjoyed a bottle of  Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand called The Cloud Factory.

For dessert, the children chose Death by Chocolate which they said was awesome and the adults went for Illy coffees and desserts including a beautiful tiramisu, strawberries with whipped mascarpone cream and other nibbles to accompany the coffee.

Overall it was authentically Italian and the standard of food was high. For 5 of us, the meal came in at under £150 including wine. Afterwards we decided a good walk was needed and we headed to Southbank (about 2 minutes from Tate Britain) on to St Paul’s Cathedral then along Fleet Steet to Covent Garden.  A great afternoon was had by all.......

Disclaimer:  We were guests of Vapiano, all thoughts are our own.

14 Jun 2014

Cheese, Onion and Potato Quiche with a Wild Rice Salad - Recipe

This fabulous quiche recipe is by Tom Kerridge
One of my favourite websites is BBC Good Food, I love reading the constructive comments from those who have made the recipes.  The recipe is by Tom Kerridge and apparently he makes this for his pub restaurant. Everyone said that there was too much mixture for one quiche and they had lot's left over. One commenter said how she adapted the recipe to give enough filling with none left over. I followed her suggestion and it has worked out brilliantly.  To make the full quantity you will need a deep quiche tin approximately 5cm deep.

It's a fabulous quiche, the pastry is easy to make and gloriously crisp to eat.  There is a layer of cooked new potatoes, spring onions and Montgomery Cheddar cheese cooked in a creamy custard layer.
No soggy bottom here!
I used the bottom heat setting to bake my pastry which gives a lovely crisp pastry base - the custard layer is also cooked very gently on a low setting using bottom heat to give a luxurious velvety custard.

Hubby said this is the best quiche he has ever eaten and people on the BBC Good Food website have said it's their favourite too.

Adapted recipe

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
140g cold butter, diced
1 tsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk
For the filling:
250g new potatoes, no need to peel, cooked and sliced
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
125g Montgomery cheddar, diced
2 eggs
300ml double cream

You will need:  23cm loose base fluted tin 2.5cm deep

1. Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the icing sugar, egg yolk and 3 tbsp cold water, to form a firm dough. Wrap well in cling film and rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.  Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin. Cover with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove the paper and beans. Brush the pastry base with beaten egg and cook for 5-10 minutes more until the tart case is pale.
3. Turn the oven down to 160ºC. Place a layer of cooked potatoes on the base of the tart, scatter over the spring onions and cheddar. Whisk together the eggs and cream, season. Pour into the tart case and cook for 40-45 mins or until just set. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Original recipe

I served a Wild Rice Salad with the quiche........the glass bowl is by Arcoroc they are amazing and great multitaskers. I purchased a set of different sizes from Divertimenti, they are light weight, nest inside each other, don't scratch, freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe and it's free postage too. Cons are they are quite shallow so absolutely no good for some whisking tasks and they aren't oven proof(but this isn't an issue with me).

225g wild rice
850ml water
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, sliced into strips
cucumber sliced lengthways
1 orange, peeled, pith removed and segmented
A handful of cherry tomatoes quartered
1 red onion finely sliced
handful of chopped parsley
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
seasoning to taste

1. Pour the water into a large pan, bring to a boil.  Stir, cover and simmer for 40 minutes until tender.  Drain and cool. Or use a microwave rice steamer and cook for approximately 30 minutes.
2. Add the dressing ingredients to a basin and whisk together.  Pour onto the cooled rice.
3. Mix the peppers, orange, tomatoes, red onion and parsley into the rice mixture.
4. Store in the fridge until needed.

13 Jun 2014

Sponsored Video: Chef the Movie

Being a foodie at heart, I have to say that I love any film featuring food as part of the storyline. On June 25th, the highly anticipated movie CHEF will be hitting our screens, so get ready for some fun.

So what’s it about? Top gourmet chef Carl Casper loses his job and credibility and only rediscovers his love of food again after buying an old truck van to sell food. He chooses to make nachos and before long he is travelling from city to city with his son (repairing broken relationships) and making a spectacular come back without the politics of the kitchen. It just shows that anything is possible.

Written and directed by Jon Favreau; CHEF is likely to be the only Summer accompaniment you’ll be filling up on. It has a cast list to feast on including the legendary Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergera and Dustin Hoffman.

With a salsa vibe in the music, it’s time to let go and laugh hard at the comedy in what has been billed as the feel good movie of the year.

One thing is for sure – I won’t be going on an empty stomach. And as for afterwards, there will be lot’s of hearty Mexican food to come home to and share.

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by Chef, but all thoughts are our own.

Tempted? See it in cinemas from 25 June
Join in the conversation on Twitter #ChefMovie

11 Jun 2014

Zing Silicone Utensils by Premier Housewares - Review

Silicone Kitchen Essentials - Eye Catching Branding
Yellow is this season's must have colour and it's bringing a welcome splash of sunshine into my kitchen. I love having bright splashes of colour dotted about and they go really well with classic stainless steel and black.
The tongs are easily adjustable
The deep slotted spoon, tongs and mat all have rings for hanging and they are heat resistant to 240ºC.  I really like the silicone mat it measures approximately 17x17cm and is large enough to take one of my medium size saucepans.  The tongs are spring loaded and are adjusted for width using the ring pull, for safety there are silicone pads on both sides of the handles to prevent burns. The slotted spoon is ideal as a strainer or for stirring.

I've got a few products from Zing in my kitchen draw, they are sturdy, great quality and have never discoloured, also they don't absorb odours and they still look like new.  I often bake and I use my spatula for scraping that last bit of cake batter out of the mixing bowl.  The turner is an invaluable piece of kit too, I use it for cakes, cooking scrambled eggs, everything really.  Another favourite of mine is the pastry brush, it washes quickly and easily. Yes, you can safely say I'm a fan!
There are lots of  fabulous items in sunshine yellow
From collapsible colanders to weighing scales, from black to red, there is a colour for every kitchen.......

Something for everyone here!
Slotted Spoon - £6.99
Tongs  -  £6.99
Trivet  -  £3.49

Available from:  BHS, TRAGO Mills, Amazon, Independents both online and high street.

Thank you Pam and Premier Housewares

Disclaimer:  The products were sent for review purposes, all thoughts are my own.

10 Jun 2014

The Bakers Dozen James Martin Bakeware by Stellar - Review

Square Baking Tin with Loose Base 20x20x4.5
Swiss Roll Tin 34x24x2
I've been sent a couple of items to review from the new range by Stellar 'The Bakers Dozen' James Martin Bakeware.  The two pieces I have been sent are fabulous, they are made from heavy gauge carbon steel and these definitely won't warp in the oven. They have a double layer of non-stick coating inside and out and are oven safe to 240ºC. Dishwasher safe or allow to cool before easy hand washing in hot soapy water.

There are 13 pieces in the collection, I have yet to use the Swiss Roll Tin, but fear not, it will be used very soon.......

Before using for the first time it is best to season bakeware - all I did was to take a little oil and wipe over the surfaces, I then removed the oil residue with a kitchen towel.

I baked a cake in the square cake tin with a loose base - the loose base makes removing cakes very easy, and not having to line the sides of the tin with baking parchment is a dream. I lightly greased the sides and lined the base. The tins give even heat distribution and there is very little cake residue left on the tin to clean.

The tin can be used to make large or shallow cakes, sweet and savoury breads......

Iced Lemon Poppy Seed Bars
The cake batter
The cake shrinks away(without sticking) from the sides of the tin when cooked
Iced Lemon Poppy Seed Bars recipe - for days when you need to make a cake in a hurry!

125g soft butter
125g caster sugar
125g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
zest and juice of half a lemon
25g poppy seeds

For the icing:
225g sifted icing sugar
zest and juice of approximately 1 lemon
4 tablespoons of good quality lemon curd

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Add the softened butter, caster sugar, self raising flour, baking powder, eggs, zest and juice of half a lemon to a large bowl.  Mix for two minutes until soft and fluffy.  Fold in the poppy seeds.
3. Pour the batter into the greased baking tin, level the top.
4. Bake for approximately 35 minutes until golden or a skewer comes out clean.
5. Place the baked cake onto a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the cake by pushing the loose base of the tin.
7. Cool completely on a cake rack.
8. To make the icing: Place the lemon curd into an icing bag fitted with a small plain nozzle. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the zest of the lemon and teaspoon by teaspoon add the lemon juice to make a thick pouring cream consistency.  Pour the icing over the cake and spread to the edges. Leave the icing until it is nearly set. Pipe the lemon curd in lines using a squiggly movement, to give the lemon curd some character.  Now take a skewer and pull it through the lemon curd and icing. Take a sharp knife and pull through the skewered lines to form a cutting line for the bars (this makes cutting the cake into bars easier).  Leave the icing to set. The cake will keep fresh for a few days.

The pieces are very reasonably priced and come with a 5 year non-stick guarantee and a Stellar Lifetime Guarantee:
  • Square Cake Tin with Loose Base SJM69 - £10.50    
  • Swiss Roll Tin SJM68 £10.50
Available from Amazon, Harts of Stur, online retailers and good cookshops nationwide.

For more details and stockists please visit Stellar Cookware.

Thank you to Stellar Cookware and Pam

Disclaimer:  The products were sent to me for review purposes and I haven't been asked to write a positive review.

9 Jun 2014

James Martin Soft Grip Kitchen Tools and Gadgets from Stellar Cookware - Review

Ice Cream Scoop, Cake Server and Pizza Cutter
Celebrity Chef James Martin and Stellar have been working together for 16 years and they have now brought us a fabulous collection of high quality kitchen tools and gadgets.

There are 12 items in the range, from kitchen serving spoons and potato masher to a garlic press and peeler. The handles are anti-slip, the tools and gadgets are made from polished stainless steel and they all have hanging loops.

Stainless steel and black are both timeless kitchen classics, the compound anti-slip handles make them extra safe to use and they are very comfortable in the hand with a good grip, dishwasher safe and have an amazing Stellar Lifetime Guarantee.

Large Wheel Pizza Cutter 
The Pizza Cutter cuts cleanly and easily through a deep pan pizza. A non-slip handle is a must for cutting pizza safely and there is a bar to protect the fingers from coming into contact with the cutting wheel. Supplied with a safety guard for safe storage.

Ice Cream Scoop
A classic ice cream scoop that does what it says - it scoops ice cream!  Forget those ice cream scoops with spring loaded handles (save those for filling cupcake cases with cake batter), this ice cream scoop is the real deal.

Cake Slice to cut/slice and serve
Cake Server showing the serrated edge and James Martin signature
I'm very, very, happy with the Cake Server, I've always used a cooks knife to cut and serve my cakes (which lets be honest isn't ideal). The serrated edge cuts the perfect slice and the server slips easily under the cake for serving a slice of cake.

I love high quality kitchen gadgets and this collection is perfect, they also match the James Martin IJ Knife Collection.

All the gadgets and tools are very reasonably priced:
Pizza Cutter £5.63
Ice Cream Scoop £5.63
Cake Server £5.63

For more information regarding the James Martin range and stockists please visit Stellar Cookware.
Available from Harts of Stur, Amazon, online retailers and all good kitchen shops nationwide.

Thank you to Pam and Stellar for the review products.

Disclaimer:  I have been sent review samples but haven't been asked to write a positive review.