Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Premier Housewares Pastel Sweet Hearts Stoneware Mixing Bowl - Review and Recipe

The green collection, also available in pink, from Wayfair.co.uk
Premier Housewares has a new range of very pretty stoneware which is embossed with hearts, and they are microwave and dishwasher safe. The stoneware will look delightful in country kitchens through to the contemporary kitchen and they will make wonderful gifts.

I love kitchenalia and this fabulous mixing bowl is similar to the one my Mum used when I was a child.

2.5 litre mixing bowl £26.49
I made a marble cake to remind me of childhood memories when Mum would mix away using a bowl and wooden spoon to make us lots of lovely home made bakes.

Delicious marble loaf cake

Recipe:
170g butter, softened
170g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 level tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp hot water

For the icing
50g butter
30g cocoa powder, sifted
2 tbsp milk
200g icing sugar, sifted
Decoration
25g white chocolate, melted
white chocolate stars

You will need:  Greased 900g loaf tin  - I use a 25x11x7cm tin which is long and narrow, otherwise the mixture may overflow.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the tin with a wide strip of non-stick baking parchment to go up the wide sides and over the base.
2. Place the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, milk and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl and beat with a hand electric mixer for two minutes. Spoon half the cake batter into another bowl.
3. Mix the cocoa powder and hot water together until smooth. Cool slightly, then add to one of the bowls of cake mixture, mix until evenly blended.
4. Spoon the vanilla and chocolate cake mixtures alternately into the loaf tin. Level the surface, take the handle of a wooden spoon and swirl the cake batter gently. Bake for one hour, until well risen, and starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
5. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack, peel off the lining paper and leave to cool.
6. To make the icing, melt the butter in a small pan, add the cocoa powder, stir to blend and cook over a low heat for one minute. Stir in the milk and icing sugar, remove from the heat and mix thoroughly. If necessary, leave the icing on one side, stirring occasionally, to thicken. Spread the cold cake with the icing, drizzle the melted white chocolate over the top, decorate with chocolate stars and leave to set.

Disclaimer:  I was sent the product for review purposes, all thoughts are my own.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kitchenalia by Vinny Lee - Book Review


This book is bursting with advice and inspiration showing how to transform kitchens using vintage, reclaimed and timeless classics to give them that much needed 'heart and soul' which the contemporary 'lets hide everything in cupboards' kitchen is sadly lacking, and I have to confess that I fall into this category.

A few cookery programmes on TV are now being cleverly styled with retro casseroles which are chipped and cracked, mismatched crockery, enamel baking trays and more. These are items that have been used and loved by previous generations of home cooks.

Some small independent coffee shops are now proudly displaying mismatched crockery, often the furniture is a mix of old and new and a fabulous slice of cake is served on a vintage or art deco plate. These are the coffee shops I love to return to again and again.

I have a soft spot for kitchenalia, it makes me feel warm and cosy, and turning the pages of this fabulous book it made me feel a little nostalgic too.

I became very attached to the Introduction on page 7 and saw to my astonishment the kitchen table and chairs we used when I was a child, and the kitchen units in the photograph are very similar to the ones we had in our family kitchen!


I've had fun looking through the pages finding items that either my Mum or Nan used in their kitchens - the enamel bread bin, scales, pots and pans, kettles, mixing bowls and much used wooden spoons.

The Kitchenalia Kitchen guides us through the many ways we are able to rethink our approach when planning the way we would like our kitchen to look, after all it's possibly the most important room in the house.

Every page has stunning photographs to inspire and help us to get the look we want from the Retro Kitchen, the Reclaimed Kitchen, the White Kitchen, the Painted Kitchen, the Country Kitchen, the Collector's Kitchen, and the Utilitarian Kitchen.

Kitchenalia Elements is a guiding hand with information regarding furniture, butcher's blocks, storage, work surfaces, lighting, pots, pans, glass, utensils, gadgets and containers.


This is definitely the turn to book for guidance and inspiration and I know after reading this book I'll be far better equipped when I visit my local antique fair.

The author: Vinny Lee is the Interiors Editor of The Times Magazine in London.

Christmas is just around the corner and I've been given a readers discount code for this wonderful book.

To order Kitchenalia at the discounted price of £25.00 including p&p* (RRP: £30.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG221.
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

The book is released on 25th September 2014 and is published by Jacqui Small www.jacquismallpub.com (@JacquiSmallPub)

Disclaimer: I have been sent the book for the purpose of this review - thank you to Jacqui Small Publishing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Leisure Range Supper Club with Uyen Luu


Our London Reporter @PaulFoodie enjoys a supper club feast.........

In all these years I've lived in London, I had never been to a supper club until last week. The truth is, I think I missed the trend over the recession years (shame on me), but they are still an amazing way to try scrumptious meals at a fraction of the price you would pay at a restaurant. I have friends who love them!

SO! Last week I was very privileged to attend renowned cookery book writer, food blogger and supper club owner Uyen Luu for a Vietnamese feast at her home in Hackney.

Uyen has a beautiful home with a minimalist feel and she was dressed stylishly for the dinner party. Vietnamese food is her art and a small group of UK food blogger's were invited to sample autumnal dishes made using a Leisure Range Cooker.

The night began with a glass of the rather delicious sparkling Tkacol ‘Birbirra’ from the Basque country. Made in the same way as Champagne, this was the right choice to knock the socks off any guest.

Anyone for bubbles?
After a good gossip with some of my fellow blogger's, Cook Sister, Food Urchin and The Boy Who Bakes, it was time to sit down to a 3 course Vietnamese feast. First up was a kale and ginger soup with glass noodles. It was nourishing, warming and had a hearty elegance.

For the main course, we had roast chicken which had been spatchcocked with fragrant lemon grass and zingy orange segments which looked presentation perfect!


The chicken was juicy and had crisped beautifully. To the side was grilled seasonal vegetables which offered a vibrant splash of autumnal colour (especially under the dimmed lights) so it felt all warm and cosy. It was sensational to smell and I’ll try my hand at cooking this amazing dish.

The vegetables ready to go into the oven
For wine, we had a gorgeous Tres Pueblos 2013, which is made from vineyards 1000m above sea level in Andalucia (made by an Englishman for good measure).

Uyen making final preparations 
Finally, we had plum cake with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Fabulous on it’s own but we had a dessert wine paired with it called Libamus Vino Dulce de Mencia from Bierzo in Northern Spain. It was the perfect bedfellow to the plums and just made me want to run to the nearest supermarket and greedily scoop up a case - Mmmmm!

Beautiful plum cake
Oven envy.........

Leisure Range Cooker
The oven Uyen Luu used was without doubt a huge asset given the number of people and courses involved. It’s all about making the most of the two ovens when cooking a number of courses; starters, mains and dessert with perfect timing and maximum efficiency!

Special thanks to Uyen for her superb hospitality.

Disclaimer:  Thank you for the invitation to attend the supper club, some of the photographs are my own others have been provided for this post, all thoughts are my own.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Plum Cobbler - Recipe

The hot pudding is fabulous served with ice cream
The leaves are starting to fall off the trees, the nights are drawing in and Plum Cobbler is one of those comforting puddings we will soon be craving for.

This cobbler topping is beautifully light and airy, it is quick and easy to make and is a great alternative to a crumble topped pudding.

The recipe from Baking Mad's Autumn Recipes uses damsons but where I live they are ridiculously expensive and I used red plums with great success, but they must be ripe, otherwise they'll have to be pre-cooked for longer than the recipe suggests.

I placed the cobbler onto the plums in craggy blobs to make the pudding look lovely and homely or instead of one large pudding it can also be cooked in individual ramekins.

It's quite a large pudding and once cooled it can be cut into individual portions and frozen.

Disclaimer:  BakingMad.com have sent me a selection of products for this posting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes - National Cupcake Week 2014

Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes
I doubt anyone could eat more than one of these super indulgent cupcakes, they must be one of the richest cupcakes I have ever made.  Fortunately, I can freeze them and take one out of the freezer to thaw for those days when I need chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.

It's National Cupcake Week and for once I managed to make some cupcakes and have posted them on the blog midweek - well done me!

My local Italian restaurant posted a Ferrero Rocher Cake on their Facebook page and it prompted me to make these cupcakes.  I know these Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes have been 'out there' for a long time but somehow I have never got round to making them.

The cupcakes I've seen posted on Facebook this year are truly amazing and inspirational works of creativity.

Here's the recipe to make 12

85g self-raising flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
110g caster sugar
110g softened salted butter
2 large eggs
1tsp baking powder
2tsp milk

You will need:  12 hole muffin tin and cupcake cases

1. Preheat the oven to 150ÂșC Fan.
2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk for a good couple of minutes.
3. Using an ice cream scoop place balls of the batter into the 12 cupcake cases.
4. Bake for 20 minutes until cooked.  Remove from the oven and cool.


For the Nutella Buttercream
225g sifted icing sugar
100g softened unsalted butter
2 heaped tablespoons Nutella
2 tsp milk

To decorate: 4 cubes of dark chocolate melted

1. Beat everything together for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add more milk if the mixture is too stiff.
2. Put the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1M nozzle and pipe onto the cupcakes.  Top with a Ferrero Rocher.
3. Drizzle over melted chocolate using a teaspoon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Snapshot of Ludlow Food Festival - September 2014

Part of the queue for the popular sausage trail
The September Ludlow Food Festival is foodie heaven but it's certainly not easy to get to from where I live.  The roads are very narrow and they twist and turn for mile after mile.  Hubby joined the queue for the sausage trail and I headed off in search of coffee.

I came across a  retro coffee truck close to the entrance to the Castle.  After watching the barista for a few minutes I was confident he knew how to make a great coffee - ordered a flat white and a latte and they were amazing.

These guys are brilliant @eatupshrewsbury
Ludlow town has some fabulous black and white buildings and an old tea shop named DeGray's Tea Room Restaurant (which is now under new ownership).  There are plenty of independent shops to browse round in the town.

DeGray's Restaurant
After a walk round some of the stalls in the market place and a visit to the Assembly Rooms to see the Pink Lady Food Photography competition winning photographs we made our way to the Castle and a visit to the huge marquee where local producers are all under one roof displaying their goods.

Cast Iron Cookware from Netherton Foundry @NethertonNews
 Scrumptious desserts
It was manic in the marquee and it wasn't always possible to make a note of who made what!

Meringue clouds
Leaving the marquee for some sun, fresh air and food.........we came across this........

Uh oh!
The Ludlow Food Festival is mainly food but it was great to see some kitchen goodies too.

Cookware by @StellarCookware
Hubby asked if I would like to join a Knife Skills Class - I declined because I wanted to go home with the same number of digits that I arrived with.

I think everyone must have been told to keep their fingers away from the knives
The entertainment in the Castle Grounds!
The next Ludlow food festival is 9th and 10th May 2015.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Lake District Dairy Co Quark Cooking Sauces - Review

Huge hamper courtesy of The Lake District Dairy Co
I have been kindly sent a huge hamper of fresh produce and the new quark cooking sauce range from The Lake District Dairy Co along with some recipes, to try my hand making a few delicious evening meals.

The sauces are made by British Farmers and have just won 'Best Brand Extension' at the World Dairy Innovation Awards.

Quark is a naturally fat free soft cheese and after launching British Quark to the UK in 2013 they have now introduced creamy quark based stir-in sauces.

I've road tested a few of the sauces in my kitchen, and if I did a 'blindfold' test,  I wouldn't know they were being marketed as a healthy alternative to sauces containing double cream or creme fraiche because they really do taste quite indulgent. The sauces contain no preservatives or artificial flavours.

I made Chicken Tikka & Quark Rice......

We loved this sauce and recipe, it's a winner
A pot of Chicken Tikka Sauce contains only 75 calories, 4.5g sugar,2.6g Fat, 0.6g Saturates, 0.74g salt.

Gnocchi with Spinach and Tomato & Basil Quark Sauce............

Our second favourite sauce and recipe
Other than the fact that we aren't really fans of gnocchi, and to be fair we could have exchanged this for pasta, we really enjoyed this meal.  The sauce was bursting with flavour and who would know that there are 79 Calories,  6.3g Sugar, 2.8g Fat and 0.6g Saturates, 0.83g Salt in a tub.

Spaghetti Quarkonara..........made with Garlic & Herb Cooking Sauce

Our least favourite sauce
This sauce is described as smooth and indulgent with a deliciously fresh garlic taste.  We like a hint of garlic in our food and unfortunately found this overpowering.

76 calories, 5.6g Sugar, 1.5g Fat, 0.4g Saturates, 0.74g Salt in a pot.

Tried and Tested:
The cooking sauces are very versatile and can be used in a number of dishes.  They are surprisingly indulgent and very tasty.  Meals can be made in minutes using fresh ingredients.

For more information please visit www.LakeDistrictQuark.co.uk - RRP £1.75 per 200g pot

Disclaimer:  I was sent the above products for review purposes.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mary Berry's Spiced Dorset Apple Traybake - Recipe

The traybake is spiced with cinnamon
This is a cake-cum-pudding - according to my hubby it needs a large bowl of 'Birds Custard' - there isn't a cure for his love of Bird's Custard, it comes from his school days. In fact he often boasts that he introduced an American businessman to custard and told him that English puddings have to be served with the pudding floating in custard!

Yes, I did give him a chunk of the cake with his beloved custard - I had a piece with a dollop of cream but creme fraiche would cut through the sweetness of the cake and for me it would be the best choice.

Mary Berry is the queen of the traybake and I don't think I had ever heard of a 'traybake' until many, many years ago when I bought her Ultimate Cake Book.  This book is very well thumbed and is getting a bit tatty but it is a turn to book when I'm in need of baking inspiration.

Part of my collection of Mary Berry cookery books
Adapted recipe and method:

You will need: 30cm x 23cm x 4cm greased and lined with baking parchment.

225g butter softened
550g Bramley cooking apples
1 tbsp bottled lemon juice
225g light brown sugar
300g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples, place them into a dish. Pour the lemon juice over the apples and toss gently together.
3. Put the butter, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon, eggs and milk into a large bowl. Beat with a hand held electric whisk for 2 minutes.
4. Dollop half the cake batter into the tin and spread it out evenly with a spatula. Place half the apple slices on top and sprinkle over the remaining ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Spoon the remaining cake batter on top in blobs and level the surface. Scatter the rest of the apple slices over the cake mixture and press them lightly into the surface.
5. Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Test the cake is cooked through with a skewer and the apples are soft and cooked. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. Remove the cake using the lining paper.

The original recipe, method and video how to make the cake is on the Daily Mail website.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Prince Albert, Notting Hill, London - Review


@PaulFoodie enjoys classic American food at The Prince Albert....

Notting Hill in London is famous! Whether it's for the eclectic carnival in August, the uber-cool vibe of Portobello street market or even the film which goes by the same name - Notting Hill is well and truly on the map!

The Prince Albert is bang in the heart of Notting Hill. It has a reputation for being loud and popular with the after work crowd and when I visited, it was certainly that!

As you walk in, you'll notice weathered looking shutters in various shades of pastel and high seating near to the main bar.

Interior view 
If you venture to the back of the pub, you'll also come across the not so secret garden where you can sit and relax.....

The secret garden
The Prince Albert is pushing out classic American food, so think fried chicken and an abundance of burgers and you're there.

Vegetarian Sharing Platter
For starters we chose the vegetarian sharing platter. It consisted of 3 mini burgers (or sliders as they're called). I wasn't really fussed about these, unfortunately the veggie pate was bland and fell apart before it even reached my mouth. There were also tempura vegetables such as mushrooms and peppers which were okay but the giant tempura cauliflower would have been far better if it had been broken down into small florets. The quantity of food was generous however, and we had to move on to leave space for the star of the show - the burger.

Burger and fries anyone?
I had a beef burger with avocado, bacon and blue cheese served with a side portion of double cooked chips. It was nice but it didn't feel particularly special. I think I should have opted for the make your own option where you choose the base and then add your toppings and sauces, building it up to your hearts content.

When we looked at the menu for dessert there were a couple of corkers. The chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream was unfortunately sold out and so we shared the choc chip cookie and ice cream sandwich.
The choc chip cookie and ice cream sandwich
is certainly a conversation stopper
Overall, if you are after a drink and a bite to eat in lively surroundings, this place will tick the rock'n'roll box.

The Prince Albert, 11 Pembridge Road,
Notting Hill, London, W11 3HQ

Disclaimer:  I was invited to review The Prince Albert, all thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Eddingtons Country Milk Bottle Set with Wooden Tray - Review

Mixed fruit milkshake and Oreo milkshake
Eddingtons have kindly sent me this adorable retro milk bottle set which is perfect for serving milkshakes, smoothies or milk, it comes with a wooden milk bottle tray and 6 red and white stripe re-usable straws. The bottles are 310ml capacity and are embossed with 'Dairy' and a cow on the front. The glass is thick and the bottles are very sturdy but best of all they look amazing filled with a delicious milkshake.

The milkshake recipes are very easy to make and the only equipment you need is a blender to whizz the ingredients together.

Berry Milkshake - 1 serving
100g mixed berries
2 scoops ice cream
200ml semi-skimmed milk

Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until everything is evenly mixed.  Pour into a glass bottle and top with whipped cream.

For the Oreo Milkshake - 1 serving 
6 small Oreo biscuits
2 scoops ice cream
150-200ml semi-skimmed milk
1 Oreo for decoration

Crumble the Oreo biscuits into the blender, followed by the ice cream and milk.  Whizz until evenly blended. Pour into a glass bottle, top with whipped cream and an Oreo biscuit for decoration.


Milk Bottle Set with Tray £16.99
6 Piece Milk Bottle Set £12.99
Stockist: Strawberry Fool

Disclaimer:  I have been sent the above product, thank you to Eddingtons for the review sample.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Salter Kitchen Tools and The Great British Sponge Cake Challenge - Review

Salter Aquatronic Electronic Scale
The well known trusted brand Salter have supplied me with some fabulous products to weigh, measure and whisk to produce a sponge cake. When you are sent amazing products to make a sponge cake, well it is bake off season, it's to be hoped all goes well!

The Aquatronic electronic scale has a toughened glass measuring platform. There is an add and weigh zero function which is really useful and means you can keep on adding ingredients to the same bowl. There are separate buttons for liquids in ml or fl.oz and metric and imperial.

I have been sent a Heston Blumenthal Precision Professional Whisk........


- it has a large 7.5cm balloon with multiple strands to get that all important air in.  The handle is non-slip and I used it to incorporate the beaten egg into my creamed butter and sugar, which is an indicator of just how strong it is.

The cake batter is ready for the oven..........


Weighing the tins with the cake batter ensures my baked sponges are both the same size.

I wouldn't normally whisk double cream by hand......


The whisk makes whipping up double cream an easy task and it takes only a few minutes to get the correct consistency.


My finished cake - it isn't perfect, the edges around the sponge came away. I can feel Mary Berry looking at me with despair but I know she would have given me some positive feedback and told me why that had happened.  The cake redeemed itself though because it was really delicious.

The Heston Blumenthal Precision Adjustable Measuring Spoons are very impressive and a useful piece of kitchen kit.  They nest together and take up a minimum amount of storage, I'm keeping mine in the cutlery draw so they are always to hand for quick, accurate measuring when I'm baking.

For accurate dry or liquid measurements
The leveller slides along the top removing any excess ingredients
The perfect measure
I've really enjoyed trying out my new products they are all excellent quality, look great in my kitchen and I know that I will enjoy using them for many years to come.

Salter Aquatronic Scales available - £26.99 Argos
Heston Blumenthal Precision Professional Whisk - £8.99 Amazon
Heston Blumenthal Precision Adjustable Measuring Spoons - £14.99
Please visit SalterUK for stockists.

Disclaimer: I was sent the above products for review purposes, all thoughts are my own - thank you to Salter.