Monday, November 30, 2009

Hotel Chocolat Jolly Santa

I've been 'hanging around' in the West Midlands in a cellophane packet decorated with snow flakes, waiting patiently to be photographed, and I really am the best Jolly Santa around. Even though I have waited and waited, I'm still a Jolly Santa - just look at me!

The back of my body is made from thick milk chocolate. The front of my body is milk, dark and white chocolate. My feet, hands, face and cheeks are milk chocolate. My body, arms, nose, eyes and hat are made from dark chocolate and my beard, moustache, rim of my bobble hat and bobble are all white chocolate.

I have asked not to be eaten until after Christmas because I've still lots of work to do, handing out Jolly Santa's for Christmas Gifts, delivering Christmas presents, and of course chocolate gifts, after all I have got my best Jolly Santa outfit on!

After Christmas when my work is done, I'm going to travel from the West Midlands to Kent, where I know two wonderful little boys who will just love a Jolly Santa - ah!

Many thanks to Hotel Chocolat for the opportunity to review Jolly Santa.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Enjoy porridge season with Mornflake.

I have a selection of 9 Mornflake cereals to give away in a lovely hessian shopper. The prize includes oats favourites, as well as Mornflake Extra Crispy Mueslis, Mornflake Very Berry Oatbran Flakes, the original Mornflake Oatbran Flakes and Mornflake Oatbran - a smoother hot cereal alternative to porridge, for sprinkling on cereals and salads, soups and casseroles and baking use in muffins, scones, pancakes, waffles and biscuits. One of the highest sources of beta-glucan – oatbran is the soluble fibre absorbed into the bloodstream that helps remove cholesterol.

To be in with a chance all you have to do is answer two simple questions:

1. Where are Mornflake oat cereals made?
2. What is the name of the family who have milled for 14 generations and still make Mornflake oat cereals today?

Please note: This competition will end at midnight on Sunday, 29th November 2009.
The competition is open to UK Residents only.
The winner will be chosen by random.
The prize contents are subject to availability.

Please pop back to see if you are the winner and let me have your email details, I can then arrange for your prize to be sent to you.

With porridge season now well and truly underway - for those of you who don’t partake in this healthiest of breakfasts all year round - what better way to start the day than with one of the Mornflake range of oats made by the UK’s oldest milling experts.

Milled in Cheshire since 1675 by the Lea family, Mornflake cereals are made from the finest quality British oats and milled in a special way perfected by 14 generations of the same family to create the renowned delicious taste and texture.

Choose from Mornflake SuperFast Oats – milled to retain natural taste and texture for the creamiest hot porridge and chopped for a quicker start to the day – also great for baking use or Mornflake Superfast Oats with 20% added bran – mixed with wheatbran. Other favourites include Mornflake Organic Oats, organically grown and packed with nutritional goodness and complex carbohydrates for slow energy release to keep you going until lunchtime which are also available as Mornflake Organic Oats2Go microwave sachets for an instantly nutritious breakfast from sachet to bowl in 3 minutes.

Look out for the special promotional packs of Mornflake Organic Oats and Mornflake Superfast Oats on shelf until the end of the year offering a bakeware set from The Jane Asher Home Baking Collection at the special price of £9.99+p&p (normally on sale for £25). The promotional packs will also feature a series of exclusive recipes developed Jane Asher for Mornflake and which include Oat and Apple Traybake, Squidgy Oat Cake and Oat Scones.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Abel & Cole asked if I would like to try a rolled piece of Organic Belly Pork. Usually I don't buy a piece of belly pork rolled but just buy it in a slab, and so this was a complete change for me.

The first thing I noticed about this joint was how the rind had been scored into diamonds shapes. Also, there was a good fat to meat ratio. First impressions are everything to this cook.

I smothered the rind with sea salt and rubbed in lots of ground fennel seeds. The joint was then blasted at a high temperature for 30 minutes before turning the oven down to resume the cooking. During the last 30 minutes of cooking I added some white wine to the belly pork for extra flavour and to make a delicious gravy.

The exposed meat, the best pieces in my humble opinion, were delicious and the interior of the meat was soft, tender and juicy.

We thought it was the best piece of belly pork ever to have graced the table in our house, there was hardly any waste - other than the string the joint had been tied up in!

Every joint of meat on the Abel & Cole website is traceable and it is always very comforting to read about the animals and producer regarding the meat you are about to order.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Ever thought about cooking Beeroaster chicken? I have been writing my food blog for over three years now and have seen this method of cooking chicken on numerous food blogs, somehow I never seemed to get around to having a go.

Clive from Cookequip sent me the Chicken Beeroaster Deluxe which comes complete with a tube, drip pan and vegetable clips - this is by far the safer option for using this method of cooking.
The Beeroaster can be either used in an oven or a barbecue with a closed lid.

The Beeroaster comes with a cooking guide and recipes.

The tube can be filled with beer, ale, wine or fruit juice to flavour the chicken and to add to the flavour experience a rub can be sprinkled on the outside of the chicken and also inside the cavity.

I poured beer into the tube, rubbed Cajun seasoning over the outside of the chicken and lowered the cavity of the chicken onto the tube until the legs reach the bottom of the drip pan. Then the Beeroaster was placed onto the barbecue and a couple of potatoes were put onto the vegetable spikes. We then closed the lid of the barbecue and cooked the chicken for 1½ hours, the potatoes took 1 hour, you can also put corn onto the vegetable spikes and this takes about 20 minutes to cook.

The skin was golden and crispy, the meat was tender, moist and flavoursome. You don't even need to baste the chicken, it just takes care of itself - couldn't be simpler!

My husband is taking a keen interest in the Beeroaster and next year I'll be putting more postings on here with recipes. I'm sure the man in your life won't mind opening a bottle of beer now and then, so that you too can have Beeroaster chicken!


Beech Wood Wraps come in a pack of six - Beech wood gives the food a sweet and mild flavour and is an ideal choice for cooking fish and seafood.

Halved spring onions were placed onto the wrap then topped with salmon and anointed with soy sauce. Sprinkle with brown sugar, red chilli and grate over some ginger. I served the cooked salmon with a vegetable stir fry and the salmon was extremely moist and delicious.

Here is how to use the Wood Wraps: Presoak the wraps in water then pat dry. Spread olive oil onto the area where you will be placing the food, this is to stop the food sticking to the wood wrap.

Place the food onto the oiled area and wrap around the food. Tie with string or a spring onion leaf (I tried the spring onion for photographic purposes but got in a mess!!). Place the wraps onto a baking tray and then into an oven 180°C. My salmon took about 20 minutes to cook. Remove the string, open up the wood wrap and serve.

There are many wood wraps to choose from, including a pack containing cherry, cedar, maple, oak, walnut and beech, enough to keep any cook happy!

A few more ideas for using wood wraps are on the Cookequip website.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


As a newbie to smoking food, I decided to start with salmon fillets and a Camembert cheese. These took the same amount of time to cook which is approximately 15 minutes. Baby new potatoes dipped in smoked Camembert was a revelation, and will be made many times again, also the salmon was deliciously moist and smoked. I chose to use Alder Wood Chips, which came supplied with the Stovetop Smoker.

The food smoking possibilities are endless. Cheese, tomatoes, pork chops, chicken, fish, seafood, sausages and potatoes - just to name a few options. Any foods you may think will benefit from searing after smoking can then just be placed onto a griddle pan.

My husband has decided he is going to use the smoker on the barbecue, load it with sausages, potato wedges and vegetables then finish cooking them on the barbecue. He is coming up with ideas now - anything to do with the barbecue and you soon get his interest!

I've had a few requests from him such as smoked salmon fishcakes and smoked tomatoes, maybe these can be part of my next stovetop smoker posting.

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the Oven Baking Plank sent to me by Clive of Cookequip, this time it is the turn of the Stovetop Smoker. I have been sent the Gourmet Edition - Mini Smoker which can be used indoors on the hob, or outdoors on a barbecue.

The smoker is made from stainless steel and consists of a base where you put a small amount of wood chips, next you insert the drip pan and top with a food rack. Put your food to be smoked on the oiled rack and slide the lid to close. Cooking instructions and recipes are on a separate booklet included with the smoker, also included are a couple of tubs of wood chips to get you started. After use the inside of the smoker will turn black but this is normal and means you are using it!

The smoker comes with a cooking guide explaining the matching of wood chips to certain types of food, I chose to use Alder and the book explains this is a mild wood ideal for smoking salmon, seafood and vegetables. Although Alder isn't recommended to smoke cheese I found it was a suitable match.

Smoking food is all about tweaking - which wood chips you prefer to use, the quantity and also how long you prefer to smoke your food. I am at the beginning of the learning curve with smoking and from time to time I will come back with a few photographs of food I have smoked.
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