30 Dec 2014

Carrot and Leek Soup - Recipe

Carrot and Leek Soup
After all the eating over Christmas a bowl of freshly made soup is perfect.  I made mine in the soup maker I was kindly sent for review a few weeks ago.

Lets be honest some gadgets we purchase aren't going to get used as much as we would like but hubby and I love this soup maker.  From thinking about making soup to serving up takes all of 30 minutes and my new kitchen toy is definitely one of the best gadgets I have in my kitchen.

Hubby needs to lose some weight, I don't believe in diets, and making bowls of warm, comforting soup will be a great way to eat loads of veg, it will be filling and low in calories too.

I love this soup and if you are fed up with the usual Carrot and Coriander then why not give this recipe a try.

Conventional Recipe but can be made in a soup maker
450g leeks
450g carrots
1 medium onion
25g vegetable oil
1.5 litres stock

Clean and wash the leeks, chop, place them into a colander and wash under running  Peel the carrots and cut them into smallish pieces, chop the onion.

Add the oil to a large saucepan, add the vegetables. Stir, cover and ‘sweat’ them for 10 minutes on a low heat, shake the pan from time to time.

Pour in the stock, add seasoning, bring to a simmer, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the carrot is tender.  Liquidise the soup.

Any leftover soup can be frozen either in zip lock bags or by filling the holes in a silicone muffin tray with soup, freezing and then removing the muffin size portions of soup, as a rule of thumb a couple of these make one serving.  If you have an induction hob it's easy to defrost the portions in a pan on a low heat or defrost in the microwave.

Frozen portions of soup

More recipes:
Spicy Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
Mushroom Soup
Cauliflower Cheese Soup

24 Dec 2014

Seeded Bread with Melting Camembert - Breadmaker Recipe

I've absolutely no idea why I decided to line my Camembert Baker with baking paper, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Afterwards I realised it was a rubbish idea.....I couldn't take a decent photograph of the bread because of the paper and we had  to fight to get the Camembert off the baking parchment because the molten cheese had glued itself well and truly on.

The baker serves two purposes, it helps to keep the risen dough in shape and when the bread is nearly baked the cheese can be placed in the baker to cook into a molten lava.

The dough was made in my new and amazing Panasonic SD-ZB2502 breadmaker and it's all so easy to do.......this recipe however isn't from the book supplied with the machine but from my previous Panasonic breadmaker recipe book.

Breadmaker Recipe
500g strong white bread flour (I used Carr's)
1tsp fast action dried yeast
1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
25g butter
2tbsp milk powder
300ml water
To decorate:
1 egg beaten
4 tsp mixed seeds
Box Camembert
White Vermouth

1. Add the ingredients to the bread pan in the order recommended for your bread machine. Set to dough.
2. When dough is ready remove from the bread machine.  Divide the dough into three equal pieces and roll each piece into a sausage shape 60cm long.  Press the three rolls together at the end and plait the dough together.
3. Grease a large baking tray and place the Camembert baker into the centre of the tray, grease the outside of the baker.  Wrap the plait around the outside of the baker and join the ends up to make a continuous plait.
4. Cover with oiled baking parchment and prove for 20 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 180oC Fan.
6. Brush the dough with beaten egg and sprinkle the seeds over, bake for 25 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven, place the cheese in the baker, cut a cross in the middle of the cheese and pour over the Vermouth.  Return the bread to the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

Back soon!

17 Dec 2014

Mini Gingerbread Cupcakes - Recipe

For some unknown reason I've got a mountain of gold mini cupcake cases, this recipe uses 18 cases and I've still got a whole heap left. These cute sticky gingerbread mini bakes are easy to make and a favourite of ours.  They keep for a few days and get stickier by the day but I doubt they'll last that long.

4 tbsp apple and ginger juice (I used Cawston Press) or ginger ale
90g dark muscovado sugar
⅛ tsp bicarbonate of soda
70g self-raising flour
1 level tsp ground ginger
1 medium egg
3 tbsp vegetable oil
White icing to decorate

You will need: 18 mini muffin cases - two mini muffin cake tins

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C fan.
2. Place the apple and ginger juice and the muscovado sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Take a wooden spoon and break down any lumps of sugar. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the bicarbonate of soda.
3. Sift the flour and ginger into a bowl. Whisk the egg and oil together in another bowl, then slowly add this to the flour, whilst stirring continuously. Add the apple and ginger juice or ginger ale to the mixture in two goes whilst gently mixing it in.
4. Three-quarters fill each muffin case and bake for about 15 minutes until risen and firm. Remove from the tins and leave to cool.
5. Decorate with white icing.

One year ago:
                          Individual Raspberry Trifles
                          Last Minute Christmas Puddings
                          Meringue Topped Mince Pies
                          Mini Stollen

14 Dec 2014

Baileys Chocolate Truffles - Christmas Recipe

Now look what's happened, I've forgotten my words and everything!
I love Christmas bling and edible gold leaf is a must at this time of the year, just take a deep breath and forget how ridiculously expensive it is. It's a pain to use and sticks to everything except what you want it to stick to. My truffles are so delicious and melt in the mouth that they are worthy of a little adornment.

The recipe is Baileys, coffee, chocolate, butter and cream - yum, yum yum!  Easy to make and far nicer than most truffles you can buy.

Makes: 12
300g plain chocolate
2 tbsp whipping cream
1 tbsp cold strong fresh espresso coffee
2 tbsp Baileys
55g softened salted butter
To decorate:
edible gold leaf
sifted cocoa powder
sifted icing sugar

You will need:  12 sweet cases, baking trays and clingfilm!

1. Add 100g of the chocolate and the cream to a bowl set over a saucepan of warm water.  Leave until melted.  Remove the bowl from the pan and add the espresso, Baileys and butter, whisk together until smooth and thickened. Cool, cover with clingfilm and chill until firm.
2. Line a baking tray with cling film. Remove the mixture from the fridge and when the mixture becomes pliable roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls using the palms of your hands. Place the truffles onto the tray.  Cover with more clingfilm and place in the freezer.
3. Remove the tray from the freezer.
4. Take a fresh tray and cover with clingfilm. Melt the remaining 200g of dark chocolate. Dip the truffles into the chocolate to coat. Place on the tray. When the chocolate is set place a tiny piece of gold leaf on top of the truffle to decorate.  Roll the remaining truffles in either the cocoa or icing sugar.

11 Dec 2014

Judge Cookware Non-Stick Roast Tin & V Rack - Review

Is there anything more glorious than a roast chicken?  
My chicken was a purchase from a very popular butchers in a small market town in Shropshire. People queue down the street in all weathers waiting their turn to be served.  We all love a roast dinner but I've yet to meet anyone who loves cleaning up the roasting pan afterwards.

We're on the countdown to Christmas Day, cooking the traditional turkey and making sure we have a sturdy roasting tin. This Judge Cookware non-stick roasting tin is perfect, it oozes quality, cooks evenly and looks great in the kitchen too. The rack is elevated from the roasting tin and allows air circulation for a crispier skin whilst the fat drains away into the pan below.

Using the rack made a huge difference to the chicken it was succulent and moist with a fabulous crispy skin.  A turkey or chicken can be cooked upside down on the rack to ensure the breast meat doesn't overcook and dry out.  Half way through the cooking time turn the turkey the right way up.

Tried and Tested:
Can be placed in the dishwasher but it's so easy to clean by hand I found it's not worth taking up valuable dishwasher space.
Not suitable for hob use.
The 'V' rack is non-stick but to make even easier cleaning, simply spray the rack with oil.
The tin doesn't warp or buckle

Suitable for ovens to temperatures of 240°C

Judge TC192 Non-Stick Roast Tin & V Rack

Measures: 35cm x 27cm x 7cm

Price: £37.98

Disclaimer: The product was sent to me for review purposes,all thoughts are my own.

8 Dec 2014

Luxury Christmas Gift Guide 2014

This excellent Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve Non Vintage is the perfect aperitif for Christmas. Pol Roger founded his renowned Champagne house in Epernay in 1849, The signature champagne of the House, Brut Reserve is an equal blend of three Champenoi grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.

Available from www.amazon.co.uk
Currently priced at £36.95 subject to terms and conditions


A great way to start the festivities - Sirius Bordeaux 2011 

The Sichel family have been making Bordeaux wines since 1883. Sirius was created by the winemaker Peter Sichel.  In Sirius Red the emphasis is on the aromas of the three Bordeaux grape varieties Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The modern label reflects the style of this modern Bordeaux, which is named after the Dog Star, Sirius, the brightest star in the solar system.

Available from www.amazon.co.uk
Currently priced at £28.47 Case of 3 - Subject to terms and conditions


These adorable reindeer from Lindt are a wonderful way to enjoy a small luxury chocolate treat on Christmas Day, to share, or to pass round to your guests as an after dinner treat. There are an
amazing 67 reindeer in the drum!  Adults and children alike will love these.

Smooth milk chocolate reindeer's wrapped in gold foil from master chocolatier's Lindt.

Available from www.amazon.co.uk
Currently priced at £36.85 for a 670g drum - subject to terms and conditions


Wines for Foodies from Australia's number one wine brand Hardys established in 1853 - Notes and Images Courtesy of Hardy's Wines
South Australian Chardonnay from William Hardy is the perfect wine to accompany a Christmas Day feast. This wine exhibits lemon zest and white peach flavours complemented by subtle, spicy oak to give a well-balanced white wine with a creamy texture.
Available from Asda, Tesco, Ocado £9.99


To enjoy after a lavish Christmas dinner - well it would be rude not to!
William Hardy South Australian Shiraz that embodies festive flavours of rich plum, mulberry fruits, dark chocolate, vanilla and spice, with a soft, rounded palate and a long, savoury finish.
Available from Asda, Tesco, Ocado £9.99

Disclaimer:  Thank you to all the brands for the wonderful samples.

6 Dec 2014

Christmas Panettone Pudding - Recipe

Panettone pudding isn't just for Christmas, it's so delicious and luxurious given the chance I would eat it all year. So here we have a luxurious but quick and easy pudding.
Cut two slices of panettone
Break into cubes
Pour over a mixture of sugar, eggs and double cream
Serves: 4
You will need:  300ml double cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 large slices of panettone cut into cubes.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter an ovenproof dish.
2. Whisk the eggs, single cream, milk, vanilla extract and sugar.
3. Add the cubes of panettone into a large dish and pour over the egg mixture. Leave to stand for 30 minutes.
4. Place the dish into a large roasting pan, fill half way with hot water. Bake for 30 minutes or until softly set.
5. Dust the panettone with icing sugar.

4 Dec 2014

Sponsored Video - Heinz Chilli Sauces

You work long hours, its gloomy outside and you've come home from work to be greeted by a few pieces of uninspiring chicken in the fridge. What can you do to spice things up a bit and perhaps your own life too while you’re at it :)

Well put down your oven gloves and look no further than the video to see how to add more zing to that chicken than you’d even dare to imagine.

From the video it looks like Heinz has gone all exotic on us! So cast away your HP Sauce and whilst you’re there, turn a blind eye to the Ketchup, and indulge yourself in the latest cult sauces from Heinz which will solve any dinner time dilemma.

Heinz has revealed some fabulous sauces for the taking. Whether you want to marinate, dip as you go, or just do a quick glaze on a piece of chicken under the grill, Heinz have found an imaginative way to help spice up even the most everyday meal, so you get more bang from your buck at home.

You love Sweet Chilli – you got it! How about packing a real punch on the side with a Jerk BBQ sauce - yep, you've got it! Or how about a super zingy Peri Peri Hot Pepper Sauce – well it’s all yours for the taking!

We’ve got our Heinz sauces in and started experimenting with them, so let us know how you get on with your own culinary adventures.

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

1 Dec 2014

What to Bake & How to Bake it by Jane Hornby - Review

I think we either embrace baking or we feel the fear. Sometimes the thoughts of perfection are enough to make us buy a cake, slap on some bought butter cream, scatter over a few sprinkles and say it's our own.

Unfortunately, many people haven't had the opportunity of attending cookery classes whilst at school and have missed learning valuable baking skills, a bit of science thrown in (for those of us who took time to listen) and lots of fun whilst learning to bake.

This wonderful book, just look at that beautiful book cover, will make the perfect Christmas present. It is written by experienced food writer Jane Hornby for the would-be baker and those of us who appreciate dipping into the expert knowledge of a baking expert. There is a guiding hand at each and every recipe, all of the photographs are taken looking down onto the ingredients and progress of each dish, as if you are attending a cookery demonstration. The recipes and photographs are step-by-step which helps to give us the confidence to achieve the finished dish.

With Christmas not far away I made the Cranberry Stollen recipe, and with hubby declaring it the best stollen he has ever eaten, and I've made a fair few in the past, this recipe is the benchmark for all the other glorious offerings in the book.

Cranberry Stollen
The introduction to the book is invaluable and it covers everything from equipment to how to master making a cake and if you, like me, have a tendency to skip this part and move straight onto the recipes, try to make this your bedtime reading, you'll find you go back to the introduction time and again for help and advice.

Chocolate Hazelnut Log filled and coated with luscious Nutella cream
Bread making, cake making, pastry, baked cheesecakes, cookies and muffins to include a few, with sections covering Simple Family Baking, Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea, Special Bakes, Desserts & After Dinner.  Recipes for everyone including a Golden Citrus Drizzle Cake, Pancakes, Birthday Cake, Jaffa Marble Cake, Easy Baked Doughnuts, Chocolate Hazelnut Log to Salted Caramel Shortbread Bites, all of the finished dishes look as amazing as they sound.

The author:  Jane Hornby worked as a Cookery Writer and Food Editor on BBC GoodFood Magazine, and is the monthly columnist for the magazine.
The publisher: Phaidon Press
Illustrations: 520 colour photographs
Price: £20.00 from the Phaidon Store

Disclaimer:  I was sent a review copy of the book, all thoughts are my own