Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Farmer’s Choice are an online butchers, green grocers and deli that deliver completely free range, British meat and produce to homes across the UK. I am a guest author on their page and they have just put up two more of my recipes for your enjoyment.
First up this month there is a delicious recipe for a Lemon Roasted Whole Salmon. Fabulous. This makes a wonderful alternative for your Christmas lunch, or the perfect light supper for Christmas Eve.
As well you will find my recipe for the Perfect Roast of Beef. A delicious alternative to turkey for your celebration dinner!
Not only will you find these and other recipes on the Farmer's Choice site, but you will also be able to purchase a quantity of the ingredients necessary to prepare all of the recipes you will find there. It's really a win/win situation! The holidays are only a few weeks away now. Tis time now to begin planning your holiday fare so you don't get caught unawares.
Labels: Farmer's Choice
I wanted to tell you this morning about a new foodie delivery service called Degustabox. This is sometehing completely new that I have never seen before. Once a month, each month Degustabox will deliver to your home 17 new, special or innovative food products for you to try in the comfort of your own home via a subscription service. A monthly subscription costs £9.99 and there is a delivery fee of £3.oo, for a total of £12.99, and what you receive can be tailored to the types of things that you like and would use.
Here is what arrived in my first box. Just look at all of it ! Included were the following:
A Bar of Green and Blacks Organic Spiced Chili dark chocolate. This is not just another hot chilli bar. They have added pink pepper and juniper berries to enhance the fruity notes, while the chilli, ginger, cassia, star anise and cloves emphasise the warmth. All this leads up to a lively burst of heat – just enough to leave any chili lover wanting more.
OXO shake and flavour, Garlic and herb. This is a brand new OXO Shake Flavour, which helps to give otherwise ordinary meals the magic touch allowing you to create a variety of dishes, quickly and conveniently! All of the products are MSG free and are available in three varieties: Garlic & Herb, Rich Beef and Roast Chicken.
Bisto Chicken Stock Melts. These melts are little portions of concentrated stock that contain real meat juices, herbs and seasoning to deliver extra depth of flavour and enhance dishes with a richer taste. Bisto Chicken Stock Melts have a delicious rich chicken flavour that perfectly complement dishes like risotto's, casseroles or stir fry's. Packed in individual pots. Bisto Stock Melts can be added directly in your cooking without the need to dilute them first – so no mess, no fuss – they just melt deliciously rich deep flavour directly into your home cooked meals.Very handy.
Drink Me Chai, Spiced Chair Latte drink mix, an aormatic blend of tea, milk and spices. Drink Me Chai’s award winning Spiced Chai is the original flavour that was inspired by Amanda Hamilton’s travels to India. A blend of exotic spices, milk and sweetened tea the product is a just add water or milk for that taste of India in an Instant! I have used this in the past to make my Chai Cupcakes, Baked Chai Donuts, and Chai Spiced Crispie Cakes!
*Chai Spiced Crispie Cakes*
The Crispie Cake for adults. 'Nuff said.
2 ounces of butter, plus 1 TBS for buttering the pan (1/4 cup plus 1 TBS)
40 large marshmallows (about 250g)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/3 tsp of ground ginger
1/3 tsp of ground cinnamon
healthy pinch of ground nutmeg
healthy pinch of ground allspice
small pinch of ground cloves
small pinch of ground white pepper
6 ounces crisp rice cereal (5 1/2 cups)
Butter a 9 inch square pan. Set aside.
Place the butter and marshmallows in a large microwavable bowl. Place in the microwave and cook on high for several minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until the marshmallows are completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Mix all the spices together and then stir them into the marshmallow mixture along with the vanilla, making sure it is totally amalgamated. Stir in the rice cereal, stirring until it is completely coated with the marshmallow mixture. Press this mixture into the prepared pan using buttered hands, and pressing it in firmly. Allow to cool and set completely before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container.
Levi Roots Jerk Chicken Paste. A Marinade paste made using a blend of allspice, cinnamon, thyme and nutmeg with a warm hint of Scotch Bonnet Chilli. This paste is delicious spread onto chicken, beef or salmon to add a touch of Caribbean flavour to your meal.
Levi Roots Smoky Jerk Sauce.A Caribbean flavoured sauce made using chunky tomatoes and onions, blended with smoky Jerk spices. This sauce is delicious cooked with chicken, beef or prawns served with plain basmati rice or rice and peas.
belVita Breakfast Biscuits in two flavors. Belvita Breakfast Yogurt Crunch combines crunchy wholegrain biscuits with a creamy filling made with live yogurt to give a delicious new breakfast crunch to your mornings. Each box contains 5 individually wrapped portion packs of 2 Yogurt Crunch biscuits. They also sent the new Cocoa with Choc Chips breakfast biscuits. This delicious new flavour is made with wholegrains, rich in cereals, a source of fibre and fortified with vitamins and minerals including B1, E, magnesium and iron. Handy and healthy breakfasts for those times when you need "Breakfast on the go!"
An assortment of Bavaria drinks.
Bavaria 0.0% is a refreshing non alcoholic beer. As a result of the patented technology used in the Bavaria brewing process, no alcohol formation ever takes place. Unique in the production of 0.0% Original is the use of 100% pure mineral water, which is extracted from a source under the Bavaria brewery. Due to the natural purifying process it’s of such high quality that it brings a unique softness.
Bavaria Radler is a refreshing pilsner and lemonade mix with a twist of lemon/ grapefruit. At an alcohol percentage of 2.0% Bavaria Radler is an easy drinking and above all refreshing beverage with a small alcohol boost. Light and sweet with the tones of citrus fruits and of cereals (malt, hop) from the pilsner.
Bavaria Shandy has taken it’s classic premium pilsner and blended it with top quality lemonade to create this thirst-quenching and refreshing lager shandy. Aroma with a clear nose of citrus fruits. A lemon and lime flavour with a hint of beer in the background. Fruity, refreshing and with a little alcoholic bite. Bavaria Shandy consists of 80% of lemon & lime drink and 20% of pilsner (water, barley malt, wheat, hop extract).
Yu! Healtly Granola Snacks. Delicious fruit and cereal snacks made from real fruit and crunchy granola covered in a gorgeously healthy yogurt coating. There were two packages, each containing five individually wrapped snack packs in both the Strawberry and the Mango flavours. I have really been enjoying these.
Bisto's Chef's Specials. Bisto's new range of Chef's Special's sachets are perfect to help you create a special meal for two and add some excitement to your weekday dinners. This range is available in four flavours - Chicken with Sage and Onion, Lamb with a Twist of Mint, Caramelised Onion and Beef with Cracked Black Pepper.
I used the Rich Beef Gravy with Cracked Black Pepper to cook us up one of our favourite Pot Roast Recipes. This is something which I have been making for years. Usually I make the gravy from scratch, but this time I used this package of Bisto gravy mix instead and it turned out lovely!
It's a simple recipe which basically cooks itself into a tender juicy pot roast with beautiful flavours . . . fork tender it is. Absolutely delicious. I got the recipe from off a packet of dry onion soup mix back in the 1970's and have tweaked it through the years to make it my own. An improvement on the original, which was really very good to begin with I think.
I cook the beef on a bed of carrots, onions and swede, which help to flavour the resulting gravy . . . and give you the added bonus of deliciously cooked vegetables to serve up with your meat. Sometimes I mash some of them into the gravy for added flavour.
I like meals like this . . . they cook themselves. They're economical. They're delicious and they're easy to do. I like to serve some peas and mashed potatoes on the side, which pleases my meat and potatoes loving husband to no end! Using this gravy mix added a slightly different flavour to the finished dish, which we both quite enjoyed and which may come a regular thing from now on!
*Dad's Pot Roast*
Roast in the preheated oven for 1/2 hour, then reduce the temperature to 165*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Continue to roast without disturbing for about an hour and a half. At the end of that time, flip the roast over carefully. Recover and roast for another hour and a half. (Check periodically to make sure it is not going dry. Don't worry if the liquid is reducing somewhat. That's ok. You just don't want it to go dry.) Flip the roast for a final time and cook for a further hour to hour and a half until the roast is very tender. Remove the roast and vegetables from the pan, leaving any cooking juices in the pan, and discarding the bay leaf. Tent with foil to rest and help to keep it warm for about 20 minutes. Add the boiling water and then whisk in the gravy mix. Cook on top of the stove to thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve the roast cut into slices along with a portion of the vegetables for each person. We like to have mashed potatoes with this.
Alternately - if you can't get any gravy mix you may shake together 3 TBS of flour in a jar with 125ml (1/2 cup) of cold water in a jar until smooth and whisk it into the hot pan juices and boiling water. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning as required.
The Degustabox came in a sturdy well packed cardboard box. Everything was in perfect condition.
Included as well was a card, which told me all about the products included in the box on one side and had an assortment of recipes which I could use some of them in on the other side. Win/win! I reckon it was pretty good value for the price!
Do be sure to check out Degustabox for yourself.
Check them out on Facebook and Twitter too. Many thanks to Tsering and Degustabox for sending this box to me. Although I was sent a box to try out, all opinions remain my own.
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
I do get sent the neatest things. I was recently sent a variety of really nice appetizer pastries to use for the holidays.
Pidy UK have recently launched a selection of their deliciously famous canapés for the retail market, the range contains a combination of their most unique and interesting shaped pastry vol-au-vents. All the products are made with their award winning pastry recipe that the Pidy family initially created in their little patisserie shop in Ypres, Belgium back in 1952.
Pidy is an innovative Belgian family food business established in the world of ready to fill pastry products. Pidy are a world leader in dry puff pastry and also competitive in short crust, fonçage dough, choux pastry and sponge cakes. With three production units in Belgium, France and the USA, Pidy are able to offer the perfect day to day service and market support to their customers in more than 50 countries world wide. Pidy supply a range of products to the foodservice and retail industry which includes chefs, restaurants, cafes, bakery, patisserie, catering, retail and cash and carry.
First up are these delightful little spoon shaped pastries. They came 12 in the pack and were just the right size for one tasty little bite. I created a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato filling for them, which turned out really nice. The cups were crisp and just the perfect texture to go with the filling with no apparent outstanding flavors that would detract from whatever you put into them. They worked out very well.
*Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Spread*16 servings
16 crisp appetizer cups
They also have a line of veggie pastry cups. These ones were shaped like little flower baskets and were a lovely pink/red colour. Again there was no real jarring flavour from the cups. They went very well with the pizza type filling I created for them.
Pidy’s newest retail range the Veggie cups are available in four flavours beetroot, carrot, spinach and celeriac and come in packs of 12. The four flavours capture the true nature, colour and essence of the vegetables as they are made with 30% real vegetable juice extract and no E numbers or artificial colours. The canapés are also made with Pâté à Foncer dough which is lighter and contains 50% less fat than standard pastry.
Again, they were very crisp and the shape and color made for a very pretty little presentation.
*Pizza Cups*Makes 16
Finally I was sent these Vol-au-Vents Pastries. Crisp puff pastry shells, perfectly baked and waiting for me to fill them with my chosen filling. These were the perfect size for a first course and so I created a tasty spinach, cranberry, red onion and blue cheese filling to serve in them.
*Cranberry, Spinach and Blue Cheese Puffs*Serves 8 as a first course
salt and coarsely ground black pepperMelt the butter in a large skillet. Add the red onions and cook, stirring over medium heat until softened. Begin adding the spinach a handful at a time, cooking just to wilt. Stir in the dried cranberries and heat through. Season to taste with salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Divide the mixture equally amongst the pastry cups. Top each with an equal portion of the blue cheese crumbles. Pop into the oven to heat through and melt the cheese. Serve immediately.
Place the baked vol aux vents on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.
Place the baked vol aux vents on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.
Pidy manufacture a huge variety of products, including savoury pastries for main course, sweet pastry cases, dessert products, canapés and ready to fill pastries. For further details go to their website or follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
You can buy these fab products on Amazon.uk as well as in select farm and garden shops throughout the UK.
Many thanks to food PR agency CLIP Creative and PR for the samples.
Monday, 9 December 2013
Divorce is a funny thing. You not only lose your spouse but in most cases you lose an entire branch of people that have been your family for a very long time, as if by still associating with you they are being disloyal or some such. Fair dues. I completely understand. This is my ex sister in law's recipe that she shared with me eons ago it seems. It's the best bean salad you could ever eat. I love it around the holidays because it goes great on the buffet table, lasts forever and tastes better with each day that passes. Oh, and it serves a lot of people! The lime juice is my addition to the recipe. I like the extra tang it gives.
I dug it out and made it recently for a party we were having at church for the ladies. Each had been asked to bring a salad to share and I thought this would be the perfect one to bring as it makes a lot and everyone always loves it.
I was completely wrong. I was the only one who ate any of it. The British don't seem to understand bean salad. To them it's like eating a kangaroo, or an armadillo . . . maybe even snake. They avoided it like the plague. Nobody else touched it at all. I was quite fascinated by their disdain of it actually. Perhaps someone can enlighten me? In any case, this is the best bean salad ever. And I stand by that statement. Unless you are a Brit, in which case, it's extremely suspect and to be avoided at all costs! ha ha
*Linda's Bean Salad*Makes a lot, but keeps for days
1 tin flagelot or cannelini beans, drained and rinsed (15 ounces)1 small tin of sweet corn niblets, drained (about 4 ounces)
Sunday, 8 December 2013
One thing that I like to make each Christmas is Peanut Brittle. It's easy to make and makes a nice hostess gift if you are invited out. I have never had anyone turn their nose up at a pretty little box of it yet!
Making it in the microwave takes all the guess work out of it. It goes together easily and always turns out. I have never had it fail. Just be sure to check it frequently and if you think it is getting too brown, stop. It should never be more than a golden brown.
It's made in less than 10 minutes, and that is 10 easy minutes where you aren't standing laborously over a stove, stirring and watching. The microwave does all the work. The only thing you need to be careful of is that you use a glass bowl that is truly microwaveable safe and that you use oven mits taking it out of the microwave. Glass conducts heat very well and this is candy. Candy is hot.
Also be very sure to take great care in handling the sugar mixture, once again . . . it's really hot and it will stick to your skin, so do please be very careful. I would hate for anyone to get burnt badly.
This year I added a chocolate dip to mine . . . if there is anything that tastes better than homemade peanut brittle . . . it's homemade peanut brittle dipped in chocolate. Semi sweet chocolate flavoured with peanut butter.
Oh baby. This is good. I may have to make another batch to give away! This first batch seems to be shrinking rather quickly. Oh I do so love the Holiday Season, don't you!
*Chocolate Dipped Peanut Brittle*Makes about 1 1/2 pounds
Stir the sugar and golden syrup together in a large glass microwaveable bowl, Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stopping to stir it halfway through the cooking time. Stir in the butter and peanuts. Return to the microwave and cook on high another 3 to 4 minutes, until a golden brown. (Don't let it get too dark) Remove from the microwave and stir in the soda and vanilla. Don't worry, it will foam up quite a bit. That is what makes it light. Carefully spread this mixture out over the prepared baking sheet, trying to spread it as thin as you can. Allow it to cool completely.
Note: If you are not fond of chocolate and peanut butter, then just leave that final bit out and just make the brittle. Store in an airtight container.
Saturday, 7 December 2013
These are my favourite of all the Christmas Cookies. Dutch Speculaas cookies, or what I grew up calling windmill cookies. They are a type of spiced shortcrust biscuit, traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas' feast in the Netherlands. In recent years they have become available pretty much all year round.
Speculoos are thin, very crunchy, slightly browned and crisp and spicy. Traditionally they are stamped with pictures . . . which is why I called them windmill cookies growning up as the ones we bought were always shaped like windmills.
Most Christmas's I have been able to buy them at Lidl, but we don't have a Lidl in Chester, only Aldi, so the last couple of years I have been missing them. They are actually quite dangerous to have around the house because I can eat them like potato chips . . . they are so crisp and delicious and moreish.
I found a recipe to make my own on Pinterest the other day. It comes from www.saltmag.com. They looked really good and easy to make. I have tried other recipes through the years and always been disappointed in the results. They have never tasted as good as my memory of the windmill cookies of my childhood.
These did not disappoint. They taste even better than the ones you can buy, and best of all . . . they are homemade and there is not a preservative or artificial ingredient included. Everything is pure and natural . . . and delicious. Crisp. Buttery. Perfectly spiced!
*Speculaas*Makes about 3 1/2 dozen
The cookie cutters I used to make these are the set of Tala 5 star cookie cutters. There are five to the set in graduating sizes from only 1 1/2 inches to four inches in diameter. They were easy to use and are dishwasher proof. They also store easily, fitting snuggly together.
Available at all good cook shops for approximately £4.99. I highly recommend.