Monday, September 26, 2011

Review: Saeco Lavazza A Modo Mio Extra Coffee Machine


I have spent a very happy few weeks or so testing, on a daily basis, a Limited Edition Blue Saeco Lavazza A Modo Mio Extra Coffee Machine (the coffee machine isn't supplied with a shot glass).

The coffee machine arrived with five boxes of Lavazza Modo Mio coffee capsules, which includes one box of decaffeinated. There are eight capsules in each box, all of which are excellent in taste quality and also have a great after taste, giving a true Italian espresso.


If you are, or have been thinking about buying a coffee machine which takes capsules, then hopefully you will find the following information useful.

The coffee machine is quickly set up and can at the press of a button produce an espresso and steamed milk, which you can make effortlessly and extremely quickly. Within a very short time you will learn how to make a good espresso and also how to texture the milk.

Photograph showing the water tank which slides off for filling.


To Make an Espresso: Place a capsule in the slot, pull the loading lever forward and down, press coffee brew button, the machine will make an espresso, press the coffee brew button to stop the flow and return the lever to eject the used capsule.

This is one of my best efforts at foaming the milk - not quite there yet, but as you can see from the photograph I have made microfoam.


This photograph is to show, that with practice, the milk can be textured and you will then get a far superior latte. Still not quite enough texturing though to make latte art. The instruction book gives full details showing how to achieve textured milk and latte art, it just needs practice.


This coffee shows one of my earliest attempts at foaming the milk - this is the equivalent to how coffee looks on the high street. Not bad but can be improved upon.


Forget all about foam and all of the bubbles you are presented with at some coffee shops, and sadly, in some of the independent coffee shops too. You can produce much better foamed and textured milk at home with the Lavazza coffee machine.

Pros:

Fabulous range of colours.
Chic, no mess and easy to use.
The machine is supplied with 5 varieties of coffee capsules, each box containing 8 coffee capsules.
Lavazza coffee is excellent quality.
Lavazza coffee capsules can be bought in most supermarkets.
It is possible to quickly learn how to foam milk to a good standard.
With practice you can foam the milk to a very high standard.
After a short time practicing steaming the milk, it is possible to texture the milk, and if you are clever enough, make latte art.
The machine is capable of making an espresso, as good as or better than, any high street chain coffee shop.
Preheating the machine for 20-30 minutes (although no mention of this is made in the manual), I believe you can expect to make an espresso which exceeds the quality you can buy on the high street.
There is a draw which holds up to 10 empty capsules and these only need to be emptied out every few days and the draw can then be cleaned too.
Minimal cleaning required.
There is a User Manual A Modo Mio Coffee Menu giving detailed instructions for making everything from an espresso to a caffe mocha.

Cons:

The steam wand is about 1cm too short which may make it difficult to foam the milk until you get used to using a suitable jug and steaming the milk.
It is essential to buy a small stainless steel jug, preferably from Lavazza, to ensure the jug is the correct size.
The User Manual has a few errors with regards to the steaming button operation.
Pressing down the steaming button manually is uncomfortable.

Summing Up:

One of my passions is coffee, and for the last few years I have owned a Gaggia Classic Coffee Machine and a Rancilio Grinder. I also buy top quality freshly roasted coffee beans, which from the time they are freshly roasted, arrive on my doorstep approximately two days later. My coffee machine has now been fitted with a PID, which in layman's terms means, good brew temperature control.

As I already own a coffee machine, it is impossible not to make comparisons whilst testing and reviewing. This was a wonderful opportunity to try a quality coffee machine which takes top quality coffee capsules, and can also foam the milk. I know I will use this machine on a weekly basis, even though I have used my Gaggia for a few years now.

The Lavazza coffee machine has given my Gaggia Classic a run for it's money and other than a few niggles, I'm in love. If you can afford it, I would suggest looking at the Premium model because it will dispense a measured shot of coffee, and also you don't have to keep the steam button pressed down.

The Lavazza coffee machine can make a range of coffees. It surely has to be one of the best coffee capsule machines on the market. RRP £125.

Thank you for the fabulous Lavazza coffee machine.



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

AGA Cookshop and Review: White AGA Berndes Ceramic Coated 24cm Frying Pan


AGA Cookshop have supplied this fabulous light weight white AGA Berndes cast aluminium frying pan with a ceramic coating which is suitable for all hob heat sources, including induction. The pan also has a heavy gauge 6mm base to provide optimum heat and absorption and distribution. The pan has a removable handle for oven use, is very easy to clean and comes with an 8 years warranty. A lid can be bought for the pan as an optional extra. This is a top of the range pan and is a classic beauty, modern and timeless. The pan will look special in any kitchen.


It is recommended by the manufacturer the pan is lightly greased before every use. I lightly greased the pan and found this was sufficient to ensure food didn't stick but simply slides off. Hand cleaning is easy or the pan can be put in the dishwasher.


Egg in Toast - Not any old egg on toast, lightly grease the pan, put a small amount of butter in the pan and heat gently until melted. Take a piece of good quality bread (I made mine), tear out a sizeable piece of bread put into the pan and toast, turn the bread over, break the egg into the hole and cook gently (a piece of foil covering the pan or a lid will help cook the egg on top). Keep on checking the egg and then serve. My husband says this is the best egg and toast ever! There was neither sticking or burning on the base of the pan - the brown in the pan is a puddle of butter and a few browning crumbs from the bread.


Smoked Haddock in Butter and Creme Fraiche Sauce - I greased the pan first, and again no sticking and the pan cleaned easily. There are no hotspots with this pan which means you can cook at a gentle heat and everything cooks at the same time. Sauces will also pour from the pan easily because the pan has sloping sides.


Berry Slump - this is simply a bag of frozen fruit sprinkled with a small amount of sugar and topped with a sponge mixture and some flaked almonds sprinkled over. Once again, a very happy husband, he loved this recipe.


Again, I greased the pan before using which is a great tip for using all pans. The pudding was cooked in the oven without the handle and as you can see from the photograph the fruit didn't stick to the pan even though I changed my oven setting to fan. Sometimes berry fruit fillings turn to jam and stick to the pan.

Berndes were founded in 1921 and the German family is celebrating it's 90th anniversary in 2011. Berndes revolutionised the market for cookware with a pan made of cast aluminium and non-stick coating. Berndes developed into an innovation leader in manufacturing non-stick cookware.

The AGA Cookshop sell cookware, kettles, kitchen tools, electricals, tableware, bakeware, textiles, books, cleaning and storage products and have a fabulous online shop. AGA Cast Iron Cookware is made in Coalbrookdale foundry, Shropshire (not far from where I live), and they also make the castings for both AGA and Rayburn Cookers.

Thank you to AGA Cookshop and Rebecca.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dettol No-Touch Hand Wash System


The Dettol No Touch Hand Wash System means you will never have to use a soap pump ever again. The dispenser comes supplied with 4 x AA batteries and you can use it immediately once you have put the hand wash refill into the dispenser, there is also an on/off switch at the back of the unit.


Simply place the wet palms of your hands under the nozzle and it automatically dispenses just the right amount of soap. The soap that came with mine was Aloe Vera & Vitamin E with moisturisers, and not only smells lovely, it keeps your hands moisturised, and kills 99.9% of bacteria too. It's great to have in the kitchen when you are preparing meals and very efficiently removes all strong smells from your hands including onions, leeks and fish.

This is a great kitchen gadget but place it where you aren't going to accidentally put your hands near to the nozzle, otherwise it will very efficiently start pumping out soap on it's own!

RRP £9.99 which includes the dispensing base, one refill and 4 x AA batteries (250ml refills are RRP £2.99).

Thank you Rachel.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cottage Pie and Review: Hungry? a book by innocent


innocent's new family recipe book, Hungry? is so much more than a recipe book, it is also a guide to healthy, tasty and quick meals for everyone.


I made the cottage pie which is bursting at the seams with meaty and vegetable goodness. The pie uses minced beef, tinned tomatoes, leeks, carrots, celery and parsnips, the 'cottage' is mashed sweet potato, carrots and potatoes.

There are over 100 delicious, simple, healthy recipes ranging from a 2-minute breakfast to a proper Sunday lunch. The aim of the book is to help you fill your family with good stuff, getting everyone involved in helping to make and prepare meals and to also enjoy mealtimes together.

There is the Good Egg Test - you may be surprised by the results!


Do you by any chance have a British Robot in your home? If so, you will definitely need the recipe for Robot Food!

innocent are best known for their drinks range and there is a whole chapter dedicated to 'Good Things to Drink'. Drinks for when you are feeling Whingy? Poorly? Slept In? Sleepy? Sneaky? Nippy Out? Healthy Milkshakes and Junior Booze (in an innocent way!).

A chapter containing Good Things to Make and Bake includes everything from useful tips from a master baker, tomato and thyme foccacia, sticky toffee pudding, to making ice lollies.

There are a wealth of hints and tips, ideas for things to do, fabulous photographs and illustrations, and the book has an amazing 352 pages.

Thank you to everyone at Fruit Towers for the lovely book.

THE BIG KNIT - Making Winter Warmer for Older People - 16-30th November

Every November for the past 8 years, millions of innocent smoothie bottles have donned little woolly hats to raise money for The Big Knit, and help keep older people warm in winter with our friends at Age UK.

This November the hats are back again - and they're more A-list than ever before!

The behatted bottles will be sold in Sainsbury's and Boots this November and for every behatted bottle sold, Innocent will donate 25p to Age UK.

Guylian Chocolates Competition - September 2011


To be in with a chance of winning a very generous year's supply of Guylian chocolates all you have to do is change your Facebook profile picture to something Guylian related and tell Guylian about it on their Facebook page.

The lucky winner will win a selection of scrumptious Guylian chocolates.

The winner will be announced on Monday, 19 September, 2011 on the Guylian Facebook page - good luck!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Giant Chocolate Buttons Cupcakes - National Cupcake Week 12-18 September 2011


It's National Cupcake Week and I decided to make some very easy chocolate cupcakes and decorate them with giant chocolate buttons.

The Giant Chocolate Buttons are from Marks and Spencer and look like real buttons. They come in a fabulous box with a real button attached, all of the buttons are in individual wrappers to stop the chocolate getting marked. Brilliant product.

I am not going to take any credit for the idea of using these buttons because the lady who owns my local coffee shop makes cupcakes topped with these, so lets say, I just borrowed the idea. I know she won't mind and will be flattered that I went home and made some too.

I have been having some problems with cupcake cases from one of the large supermarkets getting squashed in my muffin tin. By this, I mean when the cupcakes have been removed from the tin the concertina's on the cupcake cases have squashed themselves into the baked cupcake, it doesn't happen to all of them though. I think this is because the cupcake cases are too large for the tin. It isn't a problem that I have encountered before. Has anyone else had any problems with cupcake cases or am I on my own with this problem?

Happy Cupcake Week!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Joseph Joseph Kitchen Set


Joseph Joseph produce cool, quality kitchen items and this kitchen set is no exception. The Joseph Joseph Kitchen Set comprises 6 essential kitchen items and makes an ideal gift. I own a few pieces of Joseph Joseph and use them time and time again. To see more exciting gifts please visit www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk

Chop2Pot: Simply chop your chosen vegetables and then squeeze the handles on both sides of the board, these will then fold up the sides of the board to form a chute and make sure the food ends up in the pot and not on the floor.


Spaghetti Measure in white/green: Really useful piece, especially if you don't have any kitchen scales or are giving this as a gift to a student (I know from experience students live off pasta!) Also included in the gift set is an Elevate Solid Spoon, Elevate Flat Turner and a useful Magnetic Measuring Spoon.


Square green colander with handle: Deep, lightweight and sturdy. The colander doesn't sit on top of saucepans due to it's shape but the handle makes it very easy to hold.

Thank you Find Me A Gift

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Lin, Pain d'Espices & Chocolat


I would like to introduce you to a blog that is written by a lady who lives in France - Lin, Pain d'Espices & Chocolat which translates to Linen, Gingerbread & Chocolate. I have corresponded with Veronique, the writer of the blog, for some time now. It was from her love of reading English Literature, and Sussex Pond Pudding being mentioned in the book Veronique was currently reading, that she did an Internet search to see what the pudding was and found my blog, because I have a couple of postings on here for Sussex Pond Pudding. By coincidence, Veronique used to be a French teacher at the same school in London where my daughter is now a teacher!



The blog covers food, interiors, travel, film, novels, photography and her love for the UK and beyond. No tickets or travel required, click on the link to take a look at this beautiful blog Lin, Pain d'Espices & Chocolat.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Raspberry, Blueberry and Lime Drizzle Cake


This cake is definitely one I will be making time and time again and I can't believe it has taken me so long to get round to making it.

It's full of fruity goodness and is a cake cum dessert bake. The lime drizzle is fresh and tangy, so it's a win, win bake.

I used frozen fruit and it worked perfectly, a tip here is not to stir frozen fruit into the cake mix or you will end up with streaked batter. I always put the batter into the lined tin and then simply put the fruit on top and press it down.


When it's cooled down cut into slices and put in the freezer for cake or dessert time!

The recipe is from the BBC Good Food website who, as always, bring us the most amazing bakes.

I know that there has been a lot in the press lately regarding obesity but it's everything in moderation. Although there are a number of sweet bakes on my website, I don't eat cake all day long:( My intake of cake is confined to one piece of cake in the evening with a cup of coffee, this ritual seems to take place at around 9 pm each evening and I am non the worse for this, because cake makes me happy! Most of the bakes on my website can be cut into sensible size portions and frozen, then thawed either in the microwave or at room temperature.

Happy baking and enjoy!
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