Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mini Strawberry Victoria Sponges


I like mini pies, mini muffins, mini cakes, they always look so dainty, and from an era when ladies 'floated' into a restaurant or tea room to eat dainty mini morsels.

Afternoon tea has definitely made a come back and close to where I live there is a cafe that has taken  inspiration from the Lyons Tea Houses.  A while back hubby and I chose a beautiful sunny afternoon to visit a local hotel for afternoon tea and sat in the grounds with champagne in one hand and worked our way through finger sandwiches and cakes with the other.  We've enjoyed a few afternoon teas in various locations and it is a very relaxed and enjoyable way to spend a lazy afternoon.


The strawberries are from my garden and they taste sensational. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the name of the variety......I think they may possibly be Cambridge.

The recipe for the Mini Strawberry Victoria Sponges is on the Lakeland website.

My pretty polka dot plate is from the Bon Bon Collection by Sabichi, they kindly asked if I would review part of the collection a while back, and I love them. The mini sandwich tin is from Lakeland -  Chicago Metallic also sell a similar pan and this is available from Amazon.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jamie's Italian, Birmingham

Antipasti meat planks sitting on cans of tomatoes!
After a couple of enjoyable meals at the Brighton branch, we decided it was time to try our local (well nearly) Birmingham branch of Jamie's Italian.

Thankfully we had booked our table, because on a wet Saturday afternoon, everyone seemed to have the same idea and headed to Jamie's Italian. When you book in advance, a note on the email informs you there is 2hrs 15 minutes allocation for your table, but this is ample time to relax, sit back and enjoy.

There is a bar area immediately as you walk in and the eating areas are to either side of the bar.  The restaurant is huge and there wasn't an empty stool at the bar and all the tables appeared to be full with couples, families and groups of people, all enjoying themselves.  We felt the restaurant had been styled to look like a converted warehouse, the table tops are aluminium and the chairs are bright yellow, the high ceilings absorbed the noise and you could have a conversation without shouting - bliss.

Prawn Linguine
Chocolate & Vin Santo Pot

This dessert not only looked great but the lucky person who ordered this, said it tasted great too.  Unfortunately the same can't be said for the Tiramisu, which you can see in the background. The group on the table next to us were keen to know which dessert had been served in the cup, but agreed with us the Tiramisu had the thumbs down.  The coffee was good, no latte art, but the coffee beans were excellent quality.
The ham, veg and salad counter.

Artisan breads freshly sliced to order.
The staff are friendly, the waiters are knowledgeable and keen to explain the menu, the meal is cooked and presented well and I can recommend a visit.

Hopefully I am going to the Canary Wharf branch this coming Saturday, there will be two energetic small children in our party.........I'll do another blog posting and let you know how we get on.......!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chocolate and Raspberry Tiramisu

Chocolate and Raspberry Tiramisu

Chocolate, coffee, raspberries, Amaretto liqueur and mascarpone are some of the fabulous ingredients used in this Tiramisu.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a lovely dish for my Tiramisu, it would have looked so much better but obviously wouldn't have tasted any different.

Some versions of Tiramisu aren't very exciting, and whilst this isn't authentic, it is a lightweight and zingy version. I prefer this dessert with fruit, it definitely adds another dimension, some may be horrified, but this is a winner and my hubby was more than delighted.

What's different about this Tiramisu?  After the base layer of coffee and Amaretto soaked sponge fingers, it has a layer of crushed raspberries and then a layer of mascarpone lightened with egg yolks, then whipped egg whites are folded into the mascarpone mix.  Another layer of soaked sponge fingers, topped with the remaining mascarpone mix and a dusting of cocoa powder.  Leave to set overnight.  Top with more crushed raspberries, a scattering of raspberries, and curls of white and dark chocolate. The recipe is from Woman and Home Feel Good Food Magazine Spring 2011.


This months challenge is Coffee and is hosted by Chocolate Log Blog and guest host this month is Lucy of The Kitchen Maid - We Should Cocoa - June 2012


Tea Time Treats this month is Summer Fruits and is hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage and this month the host is Kate from What Kate Baked

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: Welch's Grape Juice


A while back I was invited to a Welch's Mocktail O'Clock Class. Unfortunately, I was unable to go and they kindly sent me a carton of their new 100% Pure Rosé Grape Juice to try, along with some recipes.

The Rosé Grape Juice includes a blend of white and red grapes.  For my Rosé Summer Garden Mocktail, all I had to do was take one glass, pour in 200ml Welch's Rosé Grape Juice, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 50ml sparkling water, top with lots of crushed ice and decorate with a sprig of mint.  I loved this, it was light, refreshing, full flavoured, and the hint of mint came through perfectly. The mocktail would be lovely served at a BBQ on a warm sunny day.
I was sent a voucher to try the Purple Grape Juice and I enjoyed this one too. Both juices definitely benefited from being poured over ice and they made a lovely non-alchoholic drink.

Displaying the heart check mark of approval, these juices have been certified as a heart-healthy food by H.E.A.R.T UK, a leading cholesterol charity.

A 200ml glass of any Welch's 100% Pure Grape Juice represents one portion of fruit a day and the cartons can be found in the chiller cabinet of leading supermarkets.  

Thank you Lisa for the review samples.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: "Tart Up Your Toast With Jme!" - Jme Luscious Marmalade

Jme Luscious Marmalade served on a doorstep of home made bread
Jme Luscious Marmalade is part of Jamie Oliver's artisan food range.  This new marmalade is made with the freshest Spanish lemons and limes, is gluten free, and free from all artificial flavourings, colourings and sweeteners.

Apparently, recent news claims that marmalade no longer floats the nation's breakfast boat and only 7% of Brits still enjoy marmalade on toast in the morning.

I'm not surprised so few people eat marmalade on toast because many of us don't particularly like all the bits of peel and then there is the bitterness factor or they can be over sweet, and in the end we just don't bother.  Marmalade on toast is something we eat when we stay in a B&B or a hotel, or if you make your own.  I have eaten some great marmalade and some best forgotten marmalade in the past.

Yes, Jamie's marmalade has got bits in, but marmalade needs them for taste and character, the bits aren't chewy or objectionable.  Tangy with a good kick of citrus and you definitely don't need all the marmalade I slathered on my toast, but that was purely for the photograph, although I have to say it did taste really, really good.  There is enough tang to kick start your morning and there is nothing like citrus to wake you up, and because the marmalade is bursting with flavour you don't need very much on your toast.   It will taste good on any bread, better still if it's some of the good stuff, but lets be honest most of us have got some ready sliced and ready to go bread in the house.  I nearly forgot to say, the marmalade isn't the usual jelly consistency either.  I'll definitely have more marmalade on toast days now.

Thank you Rachel for the Jme Luscious Marmalade.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Find Me A Gift - Joseph Joseph Nest Plus 9 Multi-Coloured Set


Find Me A Gift are a one stop shop for fabulous gift ideas and they have very kindly sent me this Joseph Joseph Nest Plus 9 set to review.  It is stylish yet functional too, and I also love the colours they have used, such a great way to brightened up our kitchens. Everything fits neatly into one bowl and they can easily be stored away in a draw. 



There is a huge bright green mixing bowl and nesting inside is a colander, sieve, blue bowl with measurements on the inside, and a set of snap together sized measuring spoons and cups.


The large green mixing bowl and the blue bowl both have a non slip base, and when I made my cake I wasn't chasing the bowl. Neither bowls needed a damp cloth underneath to prevent slipping - simply brilliant.

St. Clements Drizzle Cake

Thank you Jo and Find Me A Gift for the fabulous and very useful Joseph Joseph Set.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Smoked Salmon, Dill and Goats Cheese Quiche

Smoked Salmon, Dill and Goats Cheese Quiche

This recipe comes from Simply Recipes.  Their site started way back in 2003 and was  highlighted as one of the 50 Best Food Blogs (February, 2009) Times Online. 

I was really pleased when way back in 2008 they chose my Valentine's Day Pavlova as part of a bloggers recipe roundup to celebrate all things 'romantic'. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/valentines_day_recipes/

This is a fabulous quiche, and I am a huge quiche fan.  You could say it's a posh quiche, but because smoked salmon always seems to be on offer these days, you don't need a special event to buy a pack.  I think the goats cheese took on a life all of its own - I am sure I scattered it over the filling better than that!

It is good enough for an indoor picnic, well lets face it, with the monsoon season in full swing, we are hardly likely to be planning the next outdoor picnic.
The quiche cuts well.


I always use Delia's method to line and bake a quiche, it produces a crisp light pastry crust and I have never found anything else to beat it.  Also, the pastry doesn't become the main event but allows the filling to be the star.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fruit and Nut Granola


I am always trying muesli and granola recipes, mainly because I've got a cupboard full of various oats, and so I tend to adapt recipes to use them up.

This recipe is by John Torode and unusually it uses pine nuts in the mix, I have adapted the recipe by adding some dried sour cherries and barley flakes, I didn't have any maple syrup and so used all honey.

I added some large chunks of 70% dark chocolate, this idea came from a box of granola with added chocolate chunks and it was very, very delicious. My chunks of chocolate would have been better if they had been cut smaller, it is a wonder though any chocolate made it to the mix. Buy decent chocolate otherwise I think it would be best to forget the chocolate....

This granola is so good and tempting it seemed a shame to only eat this at breakfast, it was very easy to eat from the jar! Not so great though if you are dieting....

The recipe can be found here on the BBC GoodFood website.

Nature's Path Gluten Free Crispy Rice Bites

Nature's Path has launched 3 gluten-free and organic, non-cereal 'Crispy Rice Bites' and they are endorsed by Coeliac UK.

They come in 3 flavours - Berry Bobbly (raspberries and blueberries),  Choco Knobbly (light milk chocolate) and Peanut Butter Bobbles (peanut butter with a milk chocolate drizzle). The bars are tasty 'free from' snacks, and are moist, chewy, delicious treats especially for children, but adults will enjoy them too. 

The bars come in 5-pack single flavour boxes (RRP £2.49) and are available from Waitrose, Ocado and good independent health food shops.

This year Nature's Path became the official sponsor of Coeliac UK's 'Me and My Tummy' literature for the parents of recently diagnosed children.

Thank you Martin for the samples.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Kenwood Cooking Chef: Review


I have been using my Kenwood Cooking Chef for nearly two years now, and thought I would share an overview with you.

My mixer was purchased at The Birmingham Winter Good Food Show after watching a demo.  The mixer had just been launched and it looked a very impressive piece of kitchen kit. My hubby is an engineer extraordinaire and was sold on the amazing quality of engineering. The attachments are hefty, well made pieces and he was definitely impressed.

He asked me if I would enjoy using a machine such as this - well I wasn't going to say no. Of course I didn't need a machine of this magnitude but then the same can be said for other pieces of kitchen equipment, it's simply that I really enjoy using them and they bring me a lot of pleasure.

The mixer looks fabulous, and other than one or two niggles I am really pleased with my investment. I am very fond of Kenwood, and historically I have always used a Kenwood Chef stand mixer, and have a Kenwood kMix handmixer too. I think it is only fair to say I use other brands too!


There are many attachments that come with the mixer including a K Beater, dough hook, stirring tool, flexi beater, whisk and a heat mat.  There is a steamer basket, food processor with 3 discs, and a stainless steel blender.  The Kenwood Cooking Chef is a thermostatically controlled, induction, cooking system.

If you don't already own a food mixer, food processor, blender or a steamer then you are going to get the best value from your purchase, but I am guessing most of us already have these in our possession.  That said, you can always give your old kitchen toys away to a grateful friend or family member.

A 'go large' machine which doesn't really cope well with small amounts.  I sold my Kenwood Chef to free up some space for the Cooking Chef, but for smaller quantities I use my Kmix handmixer.

The majority of my postings over the last 18 months or so have been made using my new machine.  Risotto is a dream to make, but instead of standing over a pan for 20 minutes or so stirring in the stock, the flexi beater stirs the ingredients and 20 minutes later you have a fab bowl of risotto.


It is easy to make jam, fudge and in fact anything that requires a thermometer.


The K-beater is for making pastry and cakes, the stirrer is used for casseroles, the flexi beater can be used to make risottos.


The whisk is huge, and unfortunately the majority of the beaten egg whites stay in the whisk which is frustrating, and the finished mixture isn't easily removed from the whisk.  It's never a good idea to  whack the whisk on the side of the stainless steel mixing bowl to remove the egg white mixture, even though it is tempting, because this will ruin both the whisk and the bowl.  If the whisk prongs were spaced out more not so much mixture would stay in the whisk.


The dough hook can only be described as impressive and the mixer doesn't bounce about when you are mixing dough.  The first rise of dough can even be started by using the thermostat.

A blender made from stainless steel is never a good idea, and a poor idea if the blender has to sit on top of a food mixer.  I can't see through stainless steel and I definitely can't see into the blender without removing it from the top of the mixer.  It is a very efficient blender though and works effortlessly.

The K-beater makes the most fabulous, tender pastry and I wouldn't use a food processor for this now.

The food processor is a wonderful attachment, it comes with a variety of discs which slice and grate effortlessly and efficiently.

A steaming basket comes with it too and if you need to steam vegetables or puddings this is ideal.

The Kenwood Cooking Chef is a very versatile machine, a real workhorse, it looks fabulous in my kitchen and I wouldn't be without it.  A great machine for cooks of every ability.
 
You can purchase many extra attachments including a pasta maker and ice cream maker.

The image of the the Kenwood Cooking Chef was supplied by Kenwood.  All words and thoughts are my own.  The Kenwood Cooking Chef was a private purchase.



Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Good heavens! Drinking Yogurts: Review


Good heavens! Drinking Yogurts, are adult treats, made from natural ingredients, probiotic and mostly low fat too. They are made by a small boutique dairy with over 20 year's yogurt making experience.

Luscious Strawberry, Succulent Blackcurrant, Refreshing Apple and Pear contain real fruit pieces. Lemon and Poppy Seed is smooth with seeds, but don't let the seeds put you off because there wasn't any crunch with them. The combination of tang from yogurt and zing from fresh fruit is heavenly and I think I may well rename them 'Heavenly Yogurt Drinks'.  The drinks are almost as thick as a smoothie and are refreshing, sophisticated, exceptional quality and come in 250ml bottles. 


Indulgent Salted Caramel is smooth and rich, I found this one to be too much of a good thing and couldn't drink it all at once.  Fortunately, once opened the yogurt will keep safely in the  fridge for a couple of days. This yogurt could be used to flavour the batter mix of a cupcake recipe and also could be used to flavour the buttercream icing too.

The drinking yogurts are available from Tesco Express and Metros, Selfridges, Harrods, Sourced Market (St Pancras), Whole Foods Market, the Camden Food Company (8 London train stations, plus Birmingham and Leeds) and As Nature Intended.

There are 6 non-organic flavours with a RRP of £1.69 and 4 organic flavours with a RRP of £2.10.

Thank you to Good heavens! Drinking Yogurts and Martin.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Diamond Jubilee Strawberry Crumble Crunch


The recipe for the  Heston Blumenthal Diamond Jubilee Strawberry Crumble Crunch can be found on the Waitrose website or you can watch the recipe video.

My recommendation is to make this in individual pots, because it looked a bit messy on the plate when I served it up.

Enjoy the holiday - back soon!

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