Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Finish QuantuMatic on Trial - Part 3 - The Verdict

As a member of the Finish QuantuMatic Jury I will now deliver my verdict. In a few days time there will be a link on here to a micro site, where you can see the other member's of the jury.

We have both taken a keen interest in the product and we have come up with some great ideas in our endeavours to carry out this trial, especially the one where we found a 20 year old baking tin to put in the dishwasher. We both seem to have become inexplicably bonded to the Finish QuantuMatic and it's become a race to see who can get to the dishwasher first!

The Evidence: The icing basins cleaned up with excellent results, especially as they had been hanging around for hours before being cleaned. Click here to see Trial 2. When they came out of the dishwasher, all of them were clean and they glistened. All the cutlery cleaned up superbly, watermark free and shiny, in fact so much so that you can see yourself.

Before and After Photographic Evidence: An enamelled dish in which a bread and butter pudding had been cooked, came out clean and the dish had an incredible shine. Cheese grater, 20 year old baking tin, casserole, saucepan. All cleaned up well with the exception of the saucepan which was a tough challenge because I had cooked carrots in it with water, sugar and butter. When the liquid boiled down it causes burning on the sides of the pan and I have to use a scouring cream and pad to normally remove this. The QuantuMatic removed the majority of this and left the pan shining. Large ramekins used for individual crumbles. All baked on food was removed and the ramekins were shiny.

Evidence with Non-photographic results: The first thing you notice is just how fresh your dishwasher smells when you take your pots out, also everything glistens. Forks with Parmesan cheese glued onto prongs cleaned up perfectly. Pasta dishes used for spaghetti bolognese cleaned up perfectly. A basin used to cook porridge in the microwave had just a minuscule of porridge left on the basin.

Summary of product: Easy to use. You can forget about detergent, salt(unless you live in a hard water area) and rinse aid for 12 days. No handling of detergent. Confidence in the product. Takes up the space of one large mug on the top rack of the dishwasher. More cost effective if using a large dishwasher. Cost could be an issue.

Summary of cleaning: Everything is squeaky clean. All of the dishes have an incredible shine. Cutlery is smear free and so shiny you can see your face in them! Excels at removing anything baked on. Removes tea and coffee stains.

The Verdict: Buy and try!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Finish QuantuMatic on Trial - Part 2

Finish QuantuMatic is a revolutionary product and has gone on public trial. The photograph at the top of the posting shows the QuantuMatic in situ at the top left of my dishwasher rack. Click here to see a short video of how best to use the Finish QuantuMatic.

If you look at the top photograph you will see a counter and this shows the number of washes left. The automatic detergent dispenser releases detergent for 12 washes. All you have to do is simply clip the dispenser onto the rack of the dishwasher and after 12 washes, replace the refill. I have a slimline dishwasher and the QuantuMatic takes up the space of one large mug.

A photographer came to my house and captured me making a birthday cake for a birthday party. I made a lot of mess, chocolate cake and pink cake mix, icings, icing sugar and flour everywhere. I make lots of cakes and birthday cakes for family members and the dishwasher is invaluable, sometimes it seems as though I use every basin I possess. My favourite items to put in the dishwasher are the basins and spoons I use for coloured icings. I totally rely on my dishwasher to clean up all of those nasty basins and utensils so that I can get on decorating my cakes.

I have made the Finish QuantuMatic work hard and have given it some tough tests. Can it clean cake mixes and icings from bowls, forks that have Parmesan cheese stuck on them, a basin that has been used in the microwave for making porridge, cups with stubborn coffee and tea stains and pasta dishes used for spaghetti bolognese?

Also, I made a bread and butter pudding but unfortunately, for the first time ever, there wasn't much in the way of baked on stains and so I decided to pour some milk into the casserole, gave it a good swirl round and placed it under the grill to bake for as long as I dare.

So far so good, the dishwasher after cleaning smells wonderful, and the dishes are shiny. It's great to use a product that basically looks after itself for nearly two weeks and unless you live in a hard water area you don't even need to use dishwasher salt because the QuantuMatic has a built in salt and rinseaid function.

Over the next few days I am still going to challenge the Finish QuantuMatic and try and cook things that get really baked on.

I'll be back in a few days to let you know how the challenge is going.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Finish QuantuMatic on Trial - Part 1

As a blogger, I receive all manner of emails, in fact some of them are quite baffling not to mention extraordinary. For instance, I received an email from a lady in America asking me how many British households use a cafetiere in the morning!

However, this email was different from any other received, it asked if I would be a jury member, and would I be willing to put the Finish QuantuMatic dishwasher product through it's paces and experience using it? Some of my fellow bloggers went to London for a briefing, but unfortunately, I was unable to do this. The Agency weren't put off by this though and asked if I would still agree to take part. Of course, I will.

This evening the Finish Quantumatic has been placed into my dishwasher, easy peasy, all you have to do is clip the detergent dispenser on to the top rack and the detergent is automatically released for the next 12 washes. A wonderful thing when you have a husband like mine who forgets to feed the dishwasher.

I've always had a keen interest in using new products and I am now eagerly waiting to see how well my dishes clean up.

QuantuMatic has a Which? Endorsement - New Best Buy in March 2011 "QuantuMatic left dishes shinier than any other product we tested."

Look out for my forthcoming blog postings over the next two weeks trialling the QuantuMatic.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Which Colour of Wine to Choose

A number of considerations can affect our choices when buying wine. The selection available is vast and making the best choice can be a time-consuming exercise if we don’t have some knowledge behind us.

Wine drinkers with an appreciation for both red and white wine can often face a dilemma at the off licence. Wines of all varieties are readily available to suit all tastes and all budgets.

Sumptuous red wine from all over the world can be found for under £5 per bottle. French reds from the Cotes du Rhone-Villages region are a great example of this, offering full-bodied, heavy notes at brilliant prices. Occasionally, fans of Spanish Riojas can take advantage of shops and supermarkets dropping the prices below £5 and any red wine enthusiast would be well advised to join them when the chance arises.

Good white wine for less than £5 is equally simple to find if you know what you are looking for. Recently, bottles of the 2008 Marsanne, Vin de Pays d’Oc from France has been spotted on sale for as little as £3 a bottle and has been described by critics as offering “rather more sunny, apricot and almond-stashed fruit for your money”.

The final decision of red or white usually comes down to occasion. If wine is being bought to be enjoyed with a particular meal, this makes the choice significantly easier.

The basic guidelines read something like: red wine with red meat, game and casseroles, white wine with fish, spicy food, vegetarian food and pasta. For more detail on choosing the particular red or white wine to accompany your meal, the label on the bottle almost always makes some reference, or your wine merchant may be able to help.

However, wine is not only served with food and many of the wines that compliment food brilliantly might taste drastically different when tasted without food.

‘No-food’ wines are not hard to find in these days of wine being commonly purchased as an aperitif in bars and enjoyed in front of the TV with little more than a bowl of nuts for sustenance. The watchword for these wines is ‘smooth’. For wine to taste good on its own, it needs to be low in tannins, which give red wines their dry, tight flavours. Wines like Negroamaro and Rosso di Salento fit the bill here, with their softer, riper tannins and higher alcohols.

For white wine lovers, Shiraz tastes just as great on its own as it does with a curry or a Mexican banquet.

Thank you to Michael for this Guest posting and also to
Stephen Bolen for the photograph.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


The story of Parker House Rolls is part legend and part truth. Apparently, they date back to the 1800's and originated at Parker House Hotel in Boston. There are a variety of stories surrounding them and you can find out what The Food Timeline have to say about these wonderful rolls by clicking here.

The rolls are a butter and egg enriched dough, served warm they are very moreish.

The dough can be made in a bread machine (by referring to your manufacturers instructions), in the food mixer fitted with a dough hook or if you feel like a good workout, made by hand.

The book this recipe came from is for either making bread by either hand or bread machine. The fundamentals of breadmaking are covered, there is a photographic gallery showing some of the world's most mouthwatering breads, a guide to ingredients and equipment, also techniques. There are recipes from basic breads to sourdoughs, flavoured breads to festive breads, in fact something for everyone.

Bread by Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno
Page: 118
ISBN No. 1-4053-0511-8

You will need:

2½ tsp dried yeast, 250ml milk, 60g melted unsalted butter, 30g melted butter to glaze, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, 2 beaten eggs, 560g strong white flour, 2tsp salt

1. Sprinkle the yeast into 100ml tepid milk in a bowl. Leave for 5 minutes; stir to dissolve. Warm the remaining milk in a saucepan with the butter and sugar. Stir continuously, until the butter has melted. Cool until tepid, then beat in the eggs until evenly distributed.
2. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeasted milk and the butter mixture. Mix in the flour to form a soft, sticky dough.
3.Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface. Knead until smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 10 minutes. Knead in extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too sticky. Don't add too much flour, the dough should be soft not dry.
4. Put the dough in a buttered bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size, approximately 1½ hours.
5. Knock back, then leave to rest for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll out each to form a 20cm x 40cm rectangle. Cut each rectangle lengthways into four strips, each 10cm long. Brush half of each rectangle with melted butter, then fold in half, leaving a 1cm flap.
6. Place the rolls on a buttered baking sheet so that each roll overlaps slightly with the one next to it; cover with a tea towel. prove until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
7. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter. Bake in a preheated oven 220°C for 15-20 minutes until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hotel Chocolat - Mother's Day Chocolates

For My Mummy Chocolate Box is a delightful selection of chocolates for small children to give to their special Mummy on Mother's Day - Sunday, 3rd April, 2011.

The chocolate box contains eight chocolates, including Strawberry Love, Milk House Praline and Milk Liquid Caramel.

The lemon presentation box is beautifully decorated, showing the chocolates included in the box, also pretty drawings of flowers, butterflies and balloons.

There are lots of other fabulous Mother's Day Gifts on the Hotel Chocolat website.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


It's Red Nose Day/Comic Relief on Friday, 18 March and I couldn't resist making these cheeky cupcakes. If you are taking part in a Red Nose Day bake these will be perfect.

The coconut flavouring can be bought online from Jane Asher. I topped the cupcakes with chocolate fudge frosting and a whole glace cherry for the nose.

If you use Lakeland muffin cases I would only make 11 cakes, because their muffin cases tend to be larger (you can see from the photograph these are the ones I used), but if you use the supermarket ones the mix will easily make 12.

You will need: A muffin tin lined with 12 muffin cases.

125g softened butter, ½ tsp coconut flavouring, 150g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 80ml milk, 40g dessicated coconut, 70g washed and chopped red glace cherries, 50g dark chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, 150g self-raising flour, 35g plain flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Beat the butter, flavouring, sugar and eggs in a small bowl with an electric mixer until well mixed.
3. Stir in the milk, coconut, cherries and chocolate, then the sifted flours. Place the mixture into the muffin cases.
4. Bake for 25-35 minutes until cooked. After 10 minutes turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

100g plain or milk chocolate chopped (I use Green & Blacks), 2 tablespoons milk, 50g unsalted butter, 75g icing sugar

1. Put the chocolate, milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat gently, taking care not to overheat, stirring until the chocolate and butter have melted.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the icing sugar until smooth. Spread the frosting over the cakes while still warm.

For the noses: 12 red glace cherries

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hotel Chocolat - Twinkle Toes Easter Eggsposé Egg

Hotel Chocolat Twinkle Toes Easter Eggsposé Egg for aspiring ballerinas everywhere. The egg comes with a chocolate shell in extra thick milk chocolate and there are also 5 mini dancing ballerinas cast in 40% milk chocolate. The ballerinas are so beautiful it seems a shame to eat them. If you know any ballerinas they will love this egg, it is so pretty.

Hotel Chocolat have so many beautiful Easter Eggs it is difficult to choose a favourite, but for children I love the Classic Eggs & Soldiers, Milk Tiddly Chicks or how about the Happy Egg Milk & Tiddly Pot, just to name a few.

Monday, March 07, 2011


On Sunday we braved the cold, but sunny weather and had a barbeque, a silly thing to do I know. It was too cold outside for moi but my husband, who seems to be an all weather person, set about cooking the barbeque with a smile but I did notice later on this had turned into a grimace (I think he was feeling the cold and had barbeque regret!). The rewards were high though, a beautifully cooked barbeque chicken, which is impossible to replicate in the oven.

It is very easy to spatchcock a chicken and here are the instructions. Sometimes this surgical procedure on the poor chicken is also called butterflied chicken. You may also see this recipe come under the recipe title of chicken under a brick. You don't have to use the bricks (which in fact we didn't because we forgot), but it does keep the chicken flat and you then have better contact with the cooking surface. The recipe can also be made with spatchcocked poussins (but I/we just couldn't!).

This wonderful, tasty and aromatic chicken was marinated overnight. A wild rice and pepper salad, together with lots of vegetables cooked on the barbeque made a perfect meal.

The chicken is very easy, with only a few ingredients for the marinade.

You will need:

A medium spatchcock chicken, 1 chopped garlic clove, juice of 2 lemons, pepper, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary.

1. Mix together the rosemary, fennel seeds, olive oil, garlic clove, juice of 2 lemons and seasoning.
2. Put the spatchcocked chicken into a ziplock bag together with the lemon shells, pour over the marinade. Place the bag into a large bowl.
3. Chill in the fridge overnight, if possible.
4. Pat the chicken dry, drizzle with olive oil and season. Put skin side down on the barbecue.
5. If you wish, wrap a brick in foil to weigh down the chicken and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat.
6. Turn the chicken over and cook for another 30 minutes weighed down with the foil covered brick. Check the chicken is cooked through and leave to rest.


You will need

Zest of 1 lemon, 1 chopped clove garlic, large bunch of chopped parsley.

1. Sprinkle over the cooked chicken.


You will need:

½ a finely sliced red onion, 150 g wild rice, 2 roasted and sliced peppers (or from a jar), 100g crumbled goat's cheese, handful of toasted pine nuts, small bunch chopped mint, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil.

1. Put the onion in a bowl, season and toss with the red wine vinegar and olive oil, leave to marinate and soften.
2. Cook the wild rice in boiling water for about 25 minutes, drain and rinse under cold water, drain again. Toss with the onion and dressing.
3. Mix the red peppers, goats' cheese, pine nuts and chopped mint through the rice mixture.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Olives Et Al

Olives Et Al was launched in 1993 by Annie and Giles Henschel, and are based at Sturminster Newton, Dorset where they have a shop and deli. Also, The Potting Shed, based at Poundbury, Dorchester, Dorset, is a cafe serving food and drinks, a large shop and deli counter. They also have a fabulous online shop selling oils and balsamics, speciality olives, sauces, snacks, kiln roasted nuts, dressings and marinades.

Harissa Almonds, kiln roasted by Olives Et Al and spiced with sweet hot harissa - crush and sprinkle onto salads, chop and use to replace pine nuts, or simply to snack on.

Putney Sauce, a relish made from sundried tomatoes, red peppers and spices - this goes well with sausages and would be perfect for barbeques.

Beetroot & Thyme Dressing - this is a lively dressing and perfect stirred into soured cream with smoked salmon or for dressing a rocket salad.

Plump Green Olives stuffed with sundried tomatoes in sunflower oil - there are many ways to use these juicy, flavoursome olives and I chose to top homemade foccacia with mine.

Thank you Olives Et Al and James.

California Almonds and Handbags

According to new research by California Almonds, handbags are the ultimate accessory for every woman and 60% of women say they simply can't live without them (my husband would also agree with this!). Handbags are the place where women keep all those daily essentials from keys to makeup, but what many of us forget to pack in our handbags is a healthy snack.

To shake up the nation's snacking habits, and help stop the 57% of women who admit to impulse snacking giving in to guilty temptations, California Almonds has teamed up with nutritionist Juliette Kello. The aim: to help women snack in style with a treat that packs a nutritional punch.

Almonds are the perfect on-the-go healthy snack and if you fill this lovely handbag size tin with 23 almonds, which is the perfect portion, you too will be able to enjoy a guilt free snack anytime of the day.

Thank you to the California Almond Board and Hannah.
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