Wednesday, August 26, 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.

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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Microplane Premium Zester Product Review

Orange and Fresh Raspberry Cake with Freeze Dried Raspberries
Orange and Fresh Raspberry Cake with Freeze Dried Raspberries
I've always been a fan of Microplane and testing two of their new products in my kitchen has been fun. As you can see from the photograph I couldn't resist zesting the orange over my icing.

I love the red handles but they are available in lots of other colours too and a splash of colour in the kitchen is always a good thing. The graters cutting surface are super sharp and grate without any effort.
Microplane Premium Classic Zester and Gourmet Series Ribbon Grater

Premium Classic Zester........
This useful gadget will make easy work of grating everything from hard Parmesan cheese, citrus fruits, fresh ginger, nutmeg to chocolate. The soft handle is perfect for the hand giving a good sturdy grip which is essential whilst zesting.  The grater is long and narrow with anti-scratch rubber ends. Supplied with a guard for safe storage. Dishwasher safe.

Microplane Premium Classic Zester
Showing the underneath of the zester.
To remove the last of the zest simply tap on a protected surface

Next up is the ribbon blade which is a product that's new to me, it's perfect for grating chocolate and what's more it was effortless,  the chocolate glides quickly and easily over the blade and for once my fingers didn't get covered in melted chocolate.

Gourmet Series Ribbon Blade.........

Microplane Gourmet Series Ribbon Blade

For grating hard and soft cheese, chocolate, carrots, potatoes, onions and for making coleslaw. Use the grater for savoury or sweet dishes. There is a rubber base for non-slip grating.  This too is supplied with a guard for safe storage.

Microplane does exactly what it says on the label, they grate and super efficiently too.  These innovative products are stylish and come in an array of colours to match our kitchens. Loved by keen home cooks and professionals alike because they are a joy to use, they don't get clogged up and are easy to wash either by hand (with care) or in the dishwasher.  The products are super sharp and so please use carefully.

These products are superbly made, they are kitchen tools worth investing in and you'll want to use them time and again.

Available in 10 trendy colourways
Premium Zester Currently Priced at £17.95
Gourmet Series Graters Currently Priced at £23.95
Available: John Lewis, House of Fraser and online independent stores including Steamer Trading Company

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

Monday, August 17, 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.