19 Dec 2015

Making Frangipane Mince Pies With a Thermomix TM5

Frangipane Mince Pie Cut in Half

The Thermomix is new in my kitchen and an early Christmas present from hubby. I love kitchen gadgets and whilst I don't believe for one moment they make you a better cook, for me they're fun.
I'm not going to say it will replace all my other stuff or that it's going to save me money (I wish), how can I make sweeping statements when I've only used it for a few weeks.

I went for this brand because they have a history of making a well engineered product, are the best on the market and I didn't want to have buyers regret. There are no sharp edges on the jug, the blades are fearsome, there is an integrated digital scale, it whizzes at unbelievable speeds, it will even steam and every piece can be washed either by hand or will go into the dishwasher but not the main part obviously, and the product is totally awesome (if I'm allowed to say that).

This new model is digital and has a recipe chip on the side with ingredients and method and it's extremely user friendly.

There's lots of online help with forums where people are passionate, freely give their time and expertise to answer questions and importantly the Thermie community are friendly too.

When the machine arrived I hoped and longed that we would bond and I'm pleased to say that it's a little helper and I'm in awe of this magnificent piece of kitchen equipment, little wonder it's used in professional kitchens.

Sadly the cost is eye watering........

Thermomix TM5

I went a little off piste and didn't use the Thermomix recipe on the recipe chip and used a favourite pastry recipe for the mince pies. To make the pies all you have to do is weigh in the ingredients, yes it's got built in digital scales which I think is very cool.

The dough takes 25 seconds at Speed 4........

Pastry Dough

Nothing wrong with this pastry, although it does take a while to understand how you can throw everything in and hey presto pastry!

Block of Sweet Pastry

I was really happy with my block of pastry and all I had to do was wrap it in cling wrap and pop it into the fridge for half an hour.

The pastry rolled out a dream.....

Pastry being rolled out for mince pies

Now for the frangipane......

Ingredients in the TM5 jug

Weigh in all the ingredients, butter, egg, ground almonds, flour and caster sugar. 1 minute/Speed 3

Frangipane being made in a Thermomix TM5

A few seconds later frangipane!

Uncooked Frangipane Mince Pies

Pastry, mincemeat and a dollop of frangipane topped with a few flaked almonds.

Cooked mince pies
The baked mince pies
Conventional Recipe

Makes: approx 18

175g plain flour
75g butter, cut into cubes
25g icing sugar
1 large egg, beaten

100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g ground almonds
1 level tbsp plain flour
1⁄2 tsp almond extract, or to taste

Filling and Topping
Jar mincemeat, homemade is best!
a few flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
2. Add the flour, butter and icing sugar into the bowl of a food processor, whiz until the mixture is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg and pulse until the dough starts to come together. Knead lightly, Wrap in clingwrap and chill for approximately 30 minutes.
3. Now make the frangipane, place the butter and sugar into the food processor and blend until soft. Add the eggs and whiz again. Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract and mix briefly.
4. Roll the pastry out thinly preferably on a silicone mat and cut out 18 x 6.5cm circles. Now line the tins with the pastry rounds. Place a teaspoon of mincemeat into each pastry circle and top with the frangipane mixture.  Sprinkle over a few flaked.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the tins from the oven and cool for a while on a wire rack.

Note: This is a private purchase and there isn't any brand involvement.

8 Dec 2015

Handmade Pistachio Panettone Cake from Sicily - Panbacco (Review)

Presentation Box for Pistachio Panettone Cake
The Panettone Cake is presented in beautiful packaging
Would I like to try an artisan pistachio panettone cake filled with glorious pistachio cream? You bet I would.......

I love panettone but have never strayed far from the usual fruit version. The cake is smothered in a layer of the most rich, delicious white chocolate and sprinkled with the finest pistachio's. Oh my goodness this is definitely a thing of beauty and a real talking point.

Handmade Pistachio Panettone Cake from Sicily

There is a layer of pistachio cream within the soft textured dessert cake and the aroma from the cake is heavenly.

A slice of Pistachio Panettone Cake

If Christmas cake is too rich or Christmas pudding too heavy, or you would like a break from tradition, this huge 900g cake will serve a crowd.

For me, my ultimate foodie heaven is mid-morning coffee and a slice of panettone - simply delicious!

About the producer and product:
Made by artisan Claudio Luca this is a quality product of Artigiano in Fiera, the world's largest fair of professionally handmade products.

Available from: Artimondo
Price: £12.34 plus p&p

Disclaimer: We were sent the product for review.

6 Dec 2015

Bread Maker Recipe

Bread Maker Crusty Loaf
Crusty bread fresh from the oven
I know bread makers are a bit 'Marmite' but I wouldn't be without mine and it doesn't matter whether the bread is being made from start to finish or it is simply being used to make dough, the results are always foolproof.  It's easy peasy adding a load of ingredients into the pan, set the menu, leave it for a couple of hours knowing that it's working for you and return to a pan of glorious dough that only needs shaping, proving and baking. It always works for me.......

This crusty bread has a light crumb and texture, it is ideal for sandwiches, eat with cheese or place on the griddle pan.

Bread Maker Crusty Loaf

The recipe can be made in a food mixer or by hand but the amount of water may need adjusting. Also if using organic flour this can take more water.

To ensure a crusty loaf - place an old tray close to the base of the oven, preheat the oven, place the risen loaf on a tray on the middle shelf, pour cold water into the tray below and this will create steam. Close the oven door and voila a crusty loaf of bread.

1 tsp Easy Bake yeast
500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
350ml water

You will need: A large baking tray sprinkled with flour and semolina

1. Add the ingredients to the bread pan in the order as outlined in your manufacturers instructions.
2. Set the dough setting.
3. When the machine has finished tip the dough from the pan carefully onto a floured baking tray.
4. Flour your fingers and gently shape the dough trying not to knock the air out, Flour the top of the dough and leave to prove uncovered until doubled in size. Sprinkle semolina over the bread and slash the dough several times with a sharp knife being careful not to deflate the dough.
5. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
7. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

You may like:
Tomato and Caramelised Onion Focaccia
Goat's Cheese and Rosemary Buns
Apple and Ginger Buns

14 Nov 2015

Traybake Chicken Dinner - Steam Combination Oven

Traybake Chicken Dinner

After a visit to Bridgnorth market there's nothing to beat a one tray roast chicken dinner and cooked in the steam combination oven it saves time and a load of washing up, the whole meal took approximately one hour to cook.

The potatoes take the longest and from freshly peeled they are tossed in oil, seasoned and added to the tray.  After 15 minutes I added the chicken legs, and then for the final 15 minutes the onions and carrots.  I cooked the sprouts in a pan before adding to the tray because to date I haven't experimented cooking these on the steam combination setting, these were also added to the tray for the last 15 minutes of cooking at 200ºC.

One Tray Chicken Dinner

The Good Food Show Winter in Birmingham is just around the corner, I don't know if there will be any demo's using these ovens but I wouldn't be without mine.

More steam combination recipes:
Potato Boulangere
Traybake Vegetables

3 Nov 2015

Review: Wünderlust @ The Big Red, London

Wonderlust @ The Big Red, London

The London reporter gets all Austrian on a big red London bus......

We love a good pop up restaurant here at Kitchen Delights and London is awash with them. It was with a lot of excitement that we recently checked out London's most exciting pop up of the moment - Wünderlust!

Set under the Docklands Light Railway in Deptford, there is a stationary big red London bus which until recently has been dishing out pizzas.

But as times change, so does the cuisine on the bus! Now the big red bus is showcasing British-Austrian cuisine - and what a combination it is.

As you enter the bus you’ll soon see a large area of undercover seating with heating so you can sit on the bus or under the wooden roof.

Inside @ The Big Red, London

After a really warm welcome, we kicked off with some cocktails and fizz. We enjoyed a lovely gin & honey cocktail which was very sweet and trendy. Our host told us the bar staff are working towards serving frozen style cocktails in which the honey will freeze on top and these will be a great talking point I'm sure.

Opening the menu
The menu is exciting and intriguing. Starters include beetroot and vodka-cured salmon, fennel and apple salad, Mersea Oysters and Mussels with cider and celery. We chose to share a whole baked Camembert, hot buttered toast (wow!) with a good smattering of chutney on the side. Absolutely fantastic.

Whole Baked Camembert

Then came out the wine. You can be really adventurous and choose an Austrian wine at thirty quid but we played it safe with a 2014 Ciello Bianco - an organic white wine at £20 which was okay but nothing to blow you away!

For mains we ordered a 49 day-aged flat iron steak with chard and triple cooked chips. I asked for medium rare and it was cooked to perfection. My vegetarian friend who was a little nervous that Austrian cuisine was equal to big slabs of meat was pleasantly surprised to see a veggie dog from the street food section which hit the spot.

Flat Iron Steak

What was so fantastic about the menu is that you can either choose from the more formal menu or go for street food style dishes in which you can order 3 for £15 which is a nice middle ground if you just fancy drinks and nibbles.

And for those with a sweet tooth
For pudding, they did really well again. A spiced autumn fruit crumble and custard as well as a chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream.

We wish this place the best of luck and will definitely be recommending them as a destination for those looking to settle their Wünderlust (at least for a while).

Address: @ The Big Red. 30 Deptford Church St, London SE8 4RZ

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

22 Oct 2015

Banana Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

Banana Cake with Salted Caramel Icing

I've just arrived back from a Western Mediterranean cruise on the fabulous Celebrity Eclipse. If you'd like to take a peek, my instagram has a few photographs of the food and drink you can expect on this amazing ship. I'm still full to the brim with food, so this cake was one I made before I went away on my holiday.

Anyway, back to normality and a posting I wrote a few weeks ago but never posted..........

I've always loved cake and am definitely not one of the converted through watching #GBBO - it's been a lifelong love.

So onto the recipe, I've adapted Mary Berry's banana and lemon drizzle cake, messed about with it (sorry Mary) and came up with this delicious cake!

To achieve a light banana cake the only way is Stork SB (or alternative brand) and blackened bananas.  I've tried using all butter, or half butter and half Stork SB but it's still too heavy. I'm a fan of any one bowl mix and you can have this recipe in the tins in super quick time.

My filling may appear to be a little skinny but hubby doesn't like too much buttercream and as soon as dulce de leche meets buttercream it's very rich.

Banana Cake

You will need: 2 x 20cm round cake tins base and sides lined

For the cake:
175g Stork SB
175g Caster Sugar
3 eggs
300g self-raising flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons milk at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Icing:
175g unsalted butter, softened
350g sifted icing sugar
2 tsp dulce de leche

To decorate:
Dulce de leche
pinch of seasalt

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix for a couple of minutes with an electric mixer.
3. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two tins and level the top.
4. Bake for approximately 35 minutes until golden and risen.
5. Place the cake tins on a cooling rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
6. Remove the tins and place on the rack.
7. For the icing: Sift the icing sugar into the bowl of a mixer, add the softened butter, 2 teaspoons of Dulce de leche and a pinch of seasalt. Mix for 6 minutes until soft and fluffy.
8. Coat one of the sponges with half the buttercream, top with the other sponge. Spread the remaining buttercream evenly over the top sponge.
9. To decorate: Take a small icing nozzle and place into a piping bag. Place a couple of tablespoons of Dulce de leche into the icing bag and pipe thin lines evenly across the buttercream.
10.Can be frozen to stage 7.

4 Oct 2015

Summer Berries Pavlova Recipe

The finished summer berry pavlova

It's been a wonderful sunny weekend here in the West Midlands and on Saturday I went to Bridgnorth in Shropshire to buy what will possibly be the last of the late summer berries. We had a barbecue today and pavlova makes the perfect end to any meal.

There are quite a few meringue recipes on Kitchen Delights blog which is mainly because I use up any egg whites that I've frozen for a rainy day and more importantly meringue is one of our favourite desserts.

Summer Berries Pavlova

My favourite recipe for pavlova is by the super talented Alastair Hendy. His isn't a conventional method but gives a no fail meringue, on cooling the case cracks beautifully to give loads of character to the meringue. You will also be rewarded with a wonderful deep soft marshmallow layer within, the outer is delicately crisp. Should none of this appeal and if you must have the perfect meringue just leave in the oven overnight to cool but it won't have the soft marshmallow centre....

You will need:  either a hand whisk or a stand mixer and a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Draw a 20cm circle on one side of the baking paper then turn the paper over.

4 large egg whites
120g caster sugar
110g icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar

To decorate:
150ml whipping cream
4 tbsp natural yogurt
½ tsp vanilla extract
selection of berries

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C or 130°C Fan.
2. Add the egg whites and caster sugar to the bowl of a mixer. Whisk until thickened and firm this can take some time but keep on going. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until thick and shiny, about 4 minutes.

Whisking egg whites and caster sugar

3. Blob the mixture inside the circle on the baking tray.  Shape making a dip in the centre for the filling.

Shaped pavlova ready for the oven

4. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C or Fan 120°C. Bake for 70 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and leave the pavlova to cool on the baking paper.

The finished pavlova case

5. Whip the cream until soft peaks, add the yogurt and whisk again.
6. Remove the cooled meringue carefully to a large serving plate. Decorate with fresh and frozen berries.

A snapshot of a decorated pavlova

More meringue ideas:
Strawberry and Redcurrant Pavlova
Chocolate and Vanilla Berry Pavlova
Traybake  Meringue with Pears, Chocolate and Cream
Meringue Roulade with Elderflower Infused Strawberries

27 Sep 2015

WÜSTHOF Coloured Paring Knives - Review

3pc Wustof Coloured Paring Knives Set

I like having a selection of kitchen knives to use and these paring knives not only look great they are excellent value too. I've been testing the 3 piece paring set which comes in orange and black.

The serrated edge made easy work slicing the orange, I used the straight blade for slicing strawberries and the small shaped paring/turning knife for removing peel from the apple. The knives are multi-taskers and can be used to cut, slice and shape a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Using Wustof Knives for slicing a variety of fruits

WÜSTHOF have been producing innovative knives in Germany for over 200 years for chefs and the domestic market.
The stainless steel blades are super sharp so please take care with storage.
The handles are ergonomically designed and very comfortable in the hand.
Dishwasher safe.
Price £15.95
Available through independent stockists - to find your local one please visit the Haus website.

Disclaimer: We were sent the product for review purposes, all thoughts are our own.

25 Sep 2015

Stellar Bamboo Chopping Board with Knife Honer Review

Chopping Board with honer

Here's a great idea from Stellar a 2 in 1 chopping board which is made from bamboo with it's very own knife sharpener/honer. This useful gadget makes knife sharpening quick, easy and convenient.

Using the honer on the Stellar chopping board

There are feet on the base to ensure you can chop or slice safely without fear of the board moving.

The under neath of the Stellar Cookware Bamboo Chopping Board

The board is light but solid and measures approximately 30x22x2cm.
Ideal for slicing and dicing small amounts of fruit or vegetables.
Hand wash only.
Gift Boxed with a typical price of £19.99.
Product Code: SK107
Available from Stellar Cookware, online and high street retailers.

Disclaimer: We were sent the product for review, all thoughts are our own.

20 Sep 2015

Fougasse Recipe


I've overdosed on holidays this year and have just come back from a lovely motoring holiday taking in the Lake District and Scotland where I came across some amazing independent bakery shops.

Now back home and refreshed I rolled up my sleeves and made Fougasse which is crisp on the outside, light within and is lovely for tearing up and eating with a bowl of soup. I've also been making tiger/giraffe bread recently but the crust can be a bit stubborn to achieve the perfect look and as yet mine still isn't blog worthy.

This is my first attempt at shaping a Fougasse and I found a pizza cutter really useful for cutting the slits of the leaves. My shaped bread isn't perfect but nevertheless it was fun to make and tastes great. I love the way the fan in my oven has moved the flour and semolina around the tray and created it's own unique pattern.

I'd definitely recommend using a stand mixer for this because it's an extremely wet mixture, I know many bakers like to make bread by hand and this one will keep you occupied for ages!

As much as I love my breadmaker this mixture won't form a successful dough because this is a very wet mixture.

Makes: 4 large or 6 small

500g strong white flour
350ml warm water
1 sachet easy blend yeast
10g salt
Fine semolina for shaping and dusting

1. Tip the flour into the bowl of a mixer. Add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other side. Using the dough hook and on a slow speed, gradually add the water to form a soft wet dough.  Knead in a stand mixer for 10 minutes.
2. Oil a large bowl and place the dough into the bowl, cover with a shower cap and leave to rise for an hour until double in size.
3. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
4. Place the risen dough gently onto a lightly floured board and cut the dough into six.
5. Dust a large tray with semolina and flour. Take one of the pieces of dough, place onto the tray and dust with semolina and flour. Shape gently into a leaf shape. Using a pizza cutter make a series of cuts to form a leaf design. Stretch out the holes to help prevent them closing up whilst baking.
6. Leave to rise for 20 minutes covered with a tea towel.
7. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until crisp and golden.
8. The remaining pieces of dough can be wrapped individually in clingfilm and frozen.  Defrost in the fridge, shape and bake as above.

4 Sep 2015

Orange Drizzle Cake with Caramelised Zest

Iced Orange Drizzle Cake with Caramelised Zest
Iced Orange Drizzle Cake
I love mini cakes, it saves ploughing through a large cake and I like that one cake can be drizzled with icing and eaten on the day it's made, the others I place into the freezer. These days the cakeometer dictates that I can no longer eat as many slices of cake all on one day as I did in my teenage years.

Interestingly the majority of cakes improve whilst they're in the freezer because it gives them a chance to take in moisture, so if you ever make a cake and it seems on the dry side either leave it in a container (not airtight) for a few days, or pop it in the freezer.

Orange Drizzle Mini Loaf Cake Topped with Caramelised Zest
The cakes can be successfully frozen at this stage
Makes: 4 Mini Loaf Cakes 15cm x 8cm approx - I bought my loaf tins from Lakeland.

For the cake:
100g caster sugar
115g softened butter
115g self raising flour
2 large eggs beaten
2 tbsp sour cream

For the caramelised orange zest:
100g caster sugar
rind of 1 orange removed with a citrus zester
Juice of 1 orange

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Line the mini loaf tins with baking parchment.
3. Tip 100g caster sugar into a small saucepan, add the orange juice and rind of the orange which has been removed using a citrus zester.  Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then simmer rapidly for a minute, being careful that the liquid doesn't evaporate.  Leave on one side whilst you make the cakes.
4. For the cake. Add the butter and caster sugar to a large bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually to the batter whilst continuously beating. Fold the flour and sour cream into the batter.
5. Dollop the mixture equally between the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and cooked through. A wooden cocktail stick inserted into the cake should come out clean when they are baked.
6. Remove the tins from the oven, poke the cakes all over with a skewer, pour over the syrup and zest.
7. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins, remove and leave as they are (they can be frozen at this stage) or drizzle icing over.

31 Aug 2015

Camp Bestival - The Feast Collective Reviewed

Camp Bestival Fun

The London reporter gets a taste of the coolest festival food out there!

We recently came back from a very HOT and scrumptious Camp Bestival in Dorset. Set in the grounds of the rather quaint looking Lulworth Castle, this is a family festival run by DJ Rob Da Bank with music and street food at its core.

Camp Bestival Lulworth

We were there for three days and in that time there was plenty of time to take in The Feast Collective - a collective of innovative eateries under a big tent offering great street food to be enjoyed in the sunshine.

I spotted Noble Espresso from London, Le Rac Shack offering scrumptious melted raclette cheese dishes and DJ BBQ (which I'll come to) amongst 12 or so dedicated vendors.

Happy Maki provided large sushi wraps crammed with avocado as well as sweet potato chips and a hoisin sauce. Damn tasty and a great way to get a healthy kick at a festival!
The Feast Collective, Camp Bestival, Dorset
Milgi, a sister duo from Cardiff were also providing great veggie food. Everything was home made, sustainable and even the mung beans had just finished fermenting in time to be gobbled up by hungry festival goers.

We also caught up with food star DJ BBQ, who was hosting the Feast Collective. He made an appearance in the Hotpoint Festival Kitchen giving a BBQ demo surrounded by many other foodie experts! One to watch!

Apart from this, there was a cute little farmers market with fresh fruit and local cakes and lots of other food places were dotted around the whole festival site including paella, Indian wraps and pancakes smothered in Nutella. And who can beat a cold festival draught lager on a scorching hot day? Not us!

And for those who love music, we saw Underworld, Bob Geldof, Alison Moyet and 808 State, to name but a few top acts.

Overall, the attention to detail is something else. The area is fabulous with lots of things to see and do for all the family, it's in a very chilled place with no real crowds to be anxious about. We had a wonderful time and as the festival came to an end there was an amazing firework display set to music over the castle, the perfect end to a memorable few days.

Early bird tickets for 2016 are now on sale. See you next year!

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

26 Aug 2015

A Butchery Masterclass With Asda

Asda Butchery Masterclass

The London reporter waves the flag for ‘Generation Y’ and learns a thing or two about beef cuts.

Do you know some of the lesser known cuts of meat including skirt and feather? If you do, then well done you! But if not, don’t worry - you are far from alone!

Asda have recently revealed that those born in the 1980s-1990s (including the London Reporter) are pretty clueless compared to their parents when it comes to knowing about meat cuts. Armed with this knowledge they decided to challenge and educate three food bloggers to ‘fess up’ and learn a thing or two about different cuts of meat. We were to be apprentice butchers for the night!

Cuts of Meat Chart

Now some of you might already be, dare I say it, a little sceptical about eating meat from supermarkets. I know Maggie(Mum) who co-writes the blog, has very specific places she will visit for different cuts of meat and is particularly discerning. So it was a good opportunity for me to tell her what I had learnt.

The Experience
Asda took over a butcher’s shop in London and Jim McPhie, the butcher and his assistant Matt, warmed us up with a talk about the different cuts.

Master Butchers demonstrating how to cut meat

I learnt that cuts from the top of a cows body are leaner because the muscles aren't being worked as much, and yes, you guessed it, the lower part of the body is tougher because that's where the animal would use it's muscles most.

We then went into the basement to our own work areas to start the more practical element of the class.  I put on an apron as well as a chain mail glove which is a stainless steel mesh and protects the hand from the sharp knife blade. We had a knife specifically to cut into the meat and another one to cut around the bone. Apart from cutting up some of the more well known cuts like sirloin, we tackled a short rib - also called a ‘Jacob's Ladder’.  It was a beautiful cut of meat and the skill is keeping the knife close to the bone. This kind of cut would be best cooked slowly for around 2 hours. The amount of skill in using the knives is unbelievable and I found it to be a a real art form. I was definitely hot under the collar from the concentration and physical effort.

The apprentice cutting lesser known cuts of meat

We then went out into the street and barbecued the cuts under the canopy of the shop. I think the locals thought a new hipster butchers had just opened up which amused me!

Steaks being cooked on the barbecue

We then chatted a little more about the production of meat. Elwyn Pugh, Agricultural & Sustainability Manager at ABP Food Group is a supplier of beef to Asda. He was passionate and adamant that the beef Asda sell will be just as good as that found in your local butchers. He said the only difference really is that a supermarket has millions of people to feed versus a local butcher with a smaller client base, so the customer experience is different. He also said the skill involved in supplying supermarkets with meat is just the same as that of a local butcher - it’s a process which will always have to be done by hand because of the skill involved. And what’s more all the Aberdeen Angus steaks are matured for 28 days.

When all is said and done...
Having been an apprentice and listened to Asda, I can see that they are really proud of what they offer. I’m also going to try and be more adventurous with the cuts of meat I purchase and not get hung up on just a few I typically order by habit, but instead start to widen my repertoire. I’ll probably save money and be more creative in the long run and not have to trade off taste either.

I was generously given a huge bag of beef to take home with me and these came in various cuts and sizes - the roasting joint weighed in at over 2kg which we ate for Sunday lunch and both the texture and taste was amazing. I also made a stroganoff for a friend and the meat simply melted in the mouth. The remaining cuts are sitting happily in the freezer waiting patiently for me to 'get busy in the kitchen'.

For more information
Thanks to all the team and the passion they showed.

To find out more visit Asda for a number of beef recipes and put your knowledge to the test!

Disclaimer: We were guests of Asda but all thoughts were our own.

17 Aug 2015

Stellar Hard Anodised Bakeware Review

Mini Salted Peanut Crunch Biscuits
Mini Salted Peanut Crunch Biscuits
The Great British Bake Off frenzy has started and every Wednesday I'll be glued to the TV watching all the twists and turns and trying to figure out who I think will be the eventual winner.

Last week on GBBO it was biscuit week where the bakers turned their hands to making biscotti. I'm not making biscotti to test the bakeware I've been sent for review but I've made these delicious Mini Salted Peanut Crunch Biscuits which whilst they take a fair amount of time to make are well worthwhile because eat one and you'll find you want to eat the lot!  This week on GBBO it's bread and this tray will be invaluable for rising and baking bread products.
Butter Biscuits straight from the oven
Even heat distribution.
No warping or sticking with this tray 
This professional ovenware is part of a new 24 piece collection by trusted brand Stellar Cookware and you can safely use them in the knowledge that they will neither stick or warp and metal utensils can be used. Designed for use on the hob, under the grill or in the oven up to 240°C. I always like to wash bakeware by hand to keep mine in pristine condition, Bakeware doesn't really like dishwashers and these are handwash only. The ovenware comes with a Stellar Lifetime Guarantee.

Stellar Hard Anodised Bakeware
A selection of bakeware and ovenware from the collection
If you want your biscuits to look perfect in true #GBBO style then a measuring rule will be required but for a comfy homemade look I like to see them in different sizes.

Recipe - Makes 20 mini bites
Peanut Crunch
40g caster sugar
40g salted peanuts

150g plain flour
50g caster sugar
100g butter

Chocolate Coating
100g dark chocolate

1. Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Add the sugar to a frying pan and scatter over the peanuts. Place the pan on a medium heat, no stirring but swirl the pan every now and again to evenly caramalise the sugar until it has melted and turns a golden colour. Swirl again to coat the peanuts in the caramel.
2. Tip the nuts onto the lined baking tray to cool.  Once cool, whiz in a food processor to chop coarsely.
3. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
4. Place the flour, sugar and softened butter into a food processor and whiz until combined.  Tip the dough out onto clingwrap, bring the dough together and form into a log 30cm long and 4cm diameter. Wrap in the clingwrap, place onto a baking tray and chill in the fridge for an hour. Remove from the fridge, divide the log into four and cut five biscuits from each log.
5. Take the baking tray and line with parchment or butter the tray lightly.  Place half of the biscuits onto the baking tray and bake for 8-12 minutes until light golden brown.  Cool slightly on the tray and then remove to a cooling rack.
6. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Once melted remove from the heat.  Dip each biscuit into the chocolate, scatter over the peanut crunch and leave on a lined tray to set.

Tried and Tested:  This is a versatile tray which can be used for roasting vegetables or meat, baking biscuits, swiss rolls or bread.  The tray is sturdy without being heavy.  The product gives excellent results and will withstand high temperatures.
Price: RRP £20
Size:   36x26x1.9cm
Available: High Street or online stores

Disclaimer:  I was sent the product for review purposes.

8 Aug 2015

Rhubarb and Custard with Apricot Granola Topping

Rhubarb and Custard with a Granola Topping

I didn't buy into the expensive pink rhubarb at the beginning of the season, we've got a perfectly good rhubarb patch at the end of the garden and if you pick the stalks that are streaked with pink and resist peeling them you'll end up with some pink fruit juices.  Whilst I lingered over the pretty pink stalks in the shops with a hefty price tag and thought of all the bakes I could make with them, commonsense has to prevail and I think about my everyday rhubarb that I planted and the fact it rewards me with free homegrown fruit.

A cheat way to turn everyday rhubarb pink is to cook it with red fruits such as strawberries, raspberries or plums and this will definitely make old rhubarb look far more attractive.

Recipe serves 6 people:
450g rhubarb, trimmed (if necessary)
cut into chunks
85g caster sugar
500g tub ready-made custard
or make up the same of Birds Custard
½ quantity honey crunch granola (recipe below

Apricot, Honey and Nut Granola

Apricot, Honey and Nut Granola

200g clear honey
4 tbsp sunflower oil
300g rolled oats
100g flaked almonds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
140g dried apricots roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. In a large pan gently heat the  honey and oil together until the mixture is bubbling, then add in the oats, almonds and cinnamon. Stir well until the oats are well coated, then tip onto a large baking tray, spread the mixture out on the tray. Bake for ­25 minutes, stirring halfway, until  golden.
3. Remove from the oven and immediately stir in the apricots.  Spread out again and press down
with a spatula to cool. Any leftover will keep in an  airtight container for 3 weeks.
4. To cook the rhubarb. Turn the oven down to 150°C. Place the rhubarb in a roasting tin in a single layer, scatter with the sugar and cover with foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until just tender, cool in the tin.
5. Spoon some of the rhubarb into the base of 6 small glasses, top with a couple of tablespoons of custard, repeating the layers.  Cover with clingwrap and chill in the fridge. Remove from the fridge and just before serving sprinkle with granola.
6. Serve either at Brunch or for Dessert.

More rhubarb recipes:
Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble
Plum, Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

25 Jul 2015

Melting Goat's Cheese Salad

Melting Goat's Cheese Salad

I've been having a great time recently, I've just returned from a holiday in beautiful Rovinj where it was amazingly hot. Only this last week I attended the 25th Anniversary of The Hyatt Birmingham where the party, food and drink can only be described as amazing, I love the Hyatt.

I'm out and about for the next three weeks and for the majority of the time I'll be away from home. Today I'm in Beckenham and tomorrow I'll be trying to avoid the rain on the southbank in London where I'm reviewing a restaurant with Paul my London based blog partner. This next week is going to be a mix of culture, food, the odd glass of fizz, visiting a few independent coffee shops and shopping.

We're then going home for a few days and moving on to The Wirral for culture, food, and so on and so on.....then we're off to the Lake District, Scotland and the Peak District.

The blog is going to be a bit erratic but both Paul and I have some fabulous posts coming up:

The limited edition luxury trout that costs £300!
Christmas in July with Waitrose
Zwilling Press Event
The Hyatt Birmingham 25th Anniversary Party
Microplane Review
Stellar Cookware Review
Restaurant Reviews
Camp Bestival

And that's just for starters!  So please bear with us whilst we battle our way through the blog posts.

After indulging over the last few weeks we needed a few lighter meals, although true to say there is cheese and pasta involved in this meal which is no bad thing.

You will need:
Bag of washed prepared mixed leaves
Vine cherry tomatoes
Sundried Tomatoes
Cucumber sliced
Red grapes
cooked crispy smoked streaky bacon
2 small rounds of goats cheese

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
Sea Salt

For the farfalle salad
110g farfalle pasta
Small handful of pine nuts
Small amount of washed spinach leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle
Freshly ground pepper
Sea Salt

1.  Arrange the salad ingredients onto a plate.
2.  Grill the goats cheese gently until starting to melt.
3.  Place the grilled goats cheese onto the salad.
4.  For the dressing:  Add the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until mixed together. Pour over the salad immediately before serving.
5.  For the farfalle salad: Fill a pan three quarters full with water, bring to the boil, add a sprinkle of salt.  Add the pasta to the pan and cook on a gentle boil for 10 minutes or until cooked.
6.  Drain the cooked pasta and rinse under cold water.
7.  Place the cooled pasta to a bowl, add the spinach leaves and toss.
8.  Place the pine nuts into a small frying pan and toast on the hob until lightly browned.  Remove from the pan and cool.
9.  Add the pine nuts to the salad.
10. Drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil.