29 Sep 2012

Stilton, Leek and Walnut Quiche

I was brought up in Stilton Cheese and pork pie country, there never seemed to be a day when either Stilton Cheese or pork pies didn't get a mention.  The 'grown ups' ate their Stilton Cheese with  Lincolnshire celery, and pork pies were eaten with home made piccalilli.  None of these appealed to me, and I would sooner have eaten mud, than eat these strange foods. It wasn't until I became a 'grown up' I began eating and appreciating Stilton Cheese.  I'm never going to be a pork pie fan, but I love the hot water pastry they are made from.  I ask hubby to let me eat the pastry from his pork pie but for some reason he always tells me it is an unreasonable request.......

Stilton Cheese, leeks and walnuts are a match made in heaven.  This quiche was really good other than one or two niggles.  There isn't much of a custard layer and the amount of walnuts used in the original recipe needed to be halved, perhaps it should be called Walnut, Leek and Stilton Quiche.

British Cheese Week is 22-30 September 2012.

Adapted recipe taken from British Baking in 2012 - BakingMad.com

You will need:  23cm loose bottom tart tin lightly greased.

Pastry:  250g plain flour, 60g cubed chilled butter, 60g lard cubed, 3 tbsp cold water.

Filling:  40g butter, 2 leeks washed and chopped, 1 tbsp chopped Thyme leaves, 3 large eggs lightly beaten, 100ml Creme Fraiche, 100ml milk, ¼ tsp grated nutmeg, 3 tbsp finely grated Parmesan, 30g lightly toasted and finely chopped walnuts, 125g crumbled Stilton, ground black pepper.

1.  Put flour, butter and lard into a bowl, rub in until it looks like breadcrumbs add 3 tablespoons cold water, bind to make a dough.
2.  Shape into a round disc, wrap in clingwrap and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3.  Remove pastry from fridge.
4.  Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place a large baking tray in the oven to preheat.
5.  Roll the pastry and line the tart tin.  Prick the base and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Line the pastry case with crumpled baking parchment, fill with baking beans.  Place the tin on the preheated baking tray and put in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove the parchment paper and baking beans.
6.  Brush the base of the tart with some of the beaten egg from the filling and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
7.  Set the oven temperature to 180°C .
8.  Take a large frying pan and melt the butter.  Add the leeks and cook until softened.  Stir in the thyme, grind over black pepper, cool.
9.  Add the creme fraiche to the beaten eggs and milk.  Add the Parmesan and nutmeg, season with black pepper.
10. Spread the leeks over the base of the cooked tart, sprinkle over half of the walnuts.  Scatter over the  crumbled Stilton cheese.  Pour the egg mixture over.  Sprinkle over the remaining walnuts.
11. Bake 35-40 minutes until the filling is set and golden brown.

26 Sep 2012

Vacu Vin Wine Aerator - Review

This innovative wine gadget from Vacu Vin is simply fitted onto a bottle of red wine, it then slows down the wine flow into the glass, this allows the wine to take up extra oxygen and improves the taste. You can see the wine pouring through the transparent aerator into the glass, it should fit most red wine bottles and comes apart for washing.

The aerator can be placed over the neck of the bottle ready to pour the next glass of wine.

Hubby poured out two glasses of red wine, one straight from the bottle and one using the aerator.  His thoughts are the aerator is instant, improves the taste of the wine, and is a very well made wine gadget.

The wine aerator will make a great gift for red wine enthusiasts, it can be used at the table or even taken away with you on holiday. Price £9.95

24 Sep 2012

PO Egg Cups and Cosies - Review

I have been kindly sent for review, a pair of cute Guards egg cups and holders.  These will add cheer to the breakfast table, come rain or come shine and I know two small boys who will love using these fun egg cups at breakfast time.

They are made from white porcelain and have their very own silicone hat - the hat can be turned over and becomes a useful egg shell holder, or the hat can even be used as an egg poacher.  They are beautifully made and make a great gift idea.



PO brings unique, design led items to home products with totally new dimensions and Frank Kerdil, award winning designer, created these lovely egg cups.

Sold as a matching pair £14 available Top Gourmet, Amazon and all good cook shops.

Thank you Pam for these cute egg cups.

23 Sep 2012

Plum Sorbet Recipe

Jamie Oliver has a regular food column in the Daily Mail Weekend Magazine, and last weekend he featured a few fabulous plum recipes. His plum sorbet caught my eye purely because the colour looks so beautiful.  The sorbet is a mixture of sweet and tart and is the perfect end to a meal. I love plums and it doesn't matter how they are prepared I am still a huge fan.

The recipe is easy to make, you only need a few ingredients and it tastes sublime.  He gives instructions to make the sorbet either with an ice cream maker or by hand, but it is far easier to make if you have an ice cream machine.

I am entering the plum sorbet as part of the Simple and in Season September Challenge hosted by Ren Behan of Fabulicious Food, this month the guest host is Katie from Feeding Boys and a Firefighter.

Septembers challenge is P for Alpha Bakes. Hosted by Caroline of Caroline Makes and Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker.

21 Sep 2012

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum - Review

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum is a spiced Caribbean rum, aged and enriched with exotic spices including cinnamon, ginger and clove.

I have been sent a recipe for The Perfect Storm - drop ice into a highball glass, pour over Kraken Black Spiced Rum, squeeze fresh lime juice over, top with Ginger Beer and garnish with lime wedges. So very delicious and refreshing too. Other drink ideas to try are neat over ice, with cola or ginger ale. I hoped when I accepted this fabulous bottle of rum for review I would enjoy the drink and I absolutely love it.  I know I won't be drinking it neat, but there are chilled cans of Ginger Beer in the fridge ready and waiting......

The unique bottle is a Victorian flagon-style, a distinctive label with an image of The Kraken a mythical sea beast, and the two glass handles mimic the eyes.

The Kraken is distilled in Trinidad and Tobago from sweet molasses.  Ageing takes place for two years in ex-bourbon whiskey barrels.  The aged rum is then blended with a range of 14 spices, including cinnamon, ginger and clove.

Available from: Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose,  Harvey Nichols, Majestic Wine, Selfridges and Peckham's Delicatessens in Scotland. RRP £22.99 70cl bottle.

Thank you Martin for the review bottle of The Kraken.

20 Sep 2012

Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan and Truffle Oil

Risotto is so versatile it can be taken from an everyday dish to a stylish dinner. Michelin starred chef Paul Heathcote has an amazing mushroom risotto recipe on the Great British Chefs website. Follow the recipe by Paul Heathcote and you will be able to give your risotto that professional finish. Paul uses store cupboard ingredients for the base, and a selection of fresh mushrooms, grated Parmesan and truffle oil.

Once you have mastered the base recipe it is easy to add fresh ingredients such as leeks, spinach, mushrooms or fish. Half an hour to spare - Arborio risotto rice, a shallot or an onion, a glass of white wine or Vermouth, vegetable stock, mushrooms, a little Parmesan to grate over - you've just made a fabulous meal and saved money too.

Risotto is a dish I turn to again and again, especially when time is short or I have a day when I'm struggling for dinner inspiration.  A fabulous creamy risotto made with care is one of my top ten favourite meals.

This is a sponsored post.

18 Sep 2012

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes - National Cupcake Week 2012

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes or lemon meringue pie? My favourite is lemon meringue pie - I almost forgot National Cupcake Week and these cupcakes were made at lightening speed. So quick, that when I browned the meringue with the blow torch I set fire to a couple of the cupcake cases. You wanted to see the photographic evidence, now that's just mean.....

Until late today I had no idea that I was going to make these, the lemon curd is from a jar I had in the fridge, nothing wrong with that provided you use a good one. Home made lemon curd is always fabulous and these cupcakes would have been on another level of loveliness if I had planned ahead.

The meringue wasn't easy to pipe onto the puddle of lemon curd and kept on moving around, other than that, they were a breeze to make.

Makes: 9 cupcakes

You will need: 12 hole muffin tin lined with 9 cupcake cases

115g softened butter, 115g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 115g self raising flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence.

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and beat together with an electric mixer for two minutes.
3. Spoon into 9 cupcake cases and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool.

For the Meringue

2 egg whites, 50g caster sugar, a very large pinch cream of tartar

1. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form. Add the sugar a little at a time and beat until stiff and glossy.
2. Place the meringue into an icing bag fitted with a star tube.

To Decorate

1. Dollop a spoon of lemon curd on top of the cupcakes and swirl round to make a puddle.
2. Pipe the meringue onto the puddle of lemon curd.
3. Either place the cupcakes back into the oven 230ºC for 5 minutes until golden, or use a blow torch and brown the meringue taking care not to set fire to the cupcake cases!

This is my entry for the Calendar Cakes Challenge and this month is of course cupcakes. Hosted by Laura Loves Cakes and Dolly Bakes -  Rachel from Dolly Bakes is this months host.

17 Sep 2012

Vacu Vin 2in1 Candle Lighter and Snuffer - Review

The Vacu Vin 2in1 Candle Lighter and Snuffer is a safe, easy to use refillable lighter, with an adjustable flame and push button lighter.  The lighter is easily filled with butane gas and matches can be a thing of the past.  After lighting the candle, leave the lighter to cool by using the snuffer as a stand.

To extinguish the flame, place the stainless steel Candle Snuffer
over the flame, this deprives it of oxygen.

Once you have used a candle snuffer you'll wonder why you have never used one before.  There are no  wax spills from blowing out the candle flame, and it is a safer way to extinguish the candle.

A stylish all in one integrated candle lighter and snuffer, and a great gift idea too.

Available from Lakeland £15.95.

The Candle Lighter and Snuffer from Vacu Vin was sent to me for the purposes of this posting.

Thank you Pam and Vacu Vin for a fabulous product.

15 Sep 2012

Raspberry Tiramisu - Recipe

Raspberry Tiramisu is always delicious and very easy to make. A handful of raspberries are sprinkled over the coffee and brandy soaked sponge fingers and then hidden under a blanket of mascarpone cheese.

It's always best to make a Tiramisu the day before because it gives the flavours a chance to blend and get to know each other. The sponge fingers will have a chance to soften up too.

Finely grated dark chocolate is used instead of the usual dusting of cocoa powder.
Serves:  4

4 tablespoons very strong espresso coffee, 2 tablespoons brandy, 10 sponge fingers, 125g raspberries (either fresh or frozen), 175g mascarpone cheese, 2 separated eggs, 50g icing sugar, 25g finely grated plain chocolate

1. Mix together the coffee and brandy.  Dip the sponge fingers into the liquid to coat. Arrange in a small dish.  Pour over any liquid left in the dish.  Sprinkle the raspberries over the soaked sponge fingers.
2. Whisk together the mascarpone, egg yolks and icing sugar until smooth.
3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and glossy, fold into the mascarpone mixture.
4. Spoon over the sponge fingers. Finely grate the chocolate over the top. Chill to set.

14 Sep 2012

Cawston Press Juices - Review

Cawston Press have been making pressed apple juice since 1986. The apples used to make the blended juices are Cox's Orange Pippin, Bramley, Jonagold, Gala, Golden Delicious and Braeburn. All of the juices are free from sugar, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and colourings. Also, they only use juice that has come from apples pressed within 48 hours of being picked.

They have now launched their first sparkling drinks, Sparkling Apple and Sparkling Apple Ginger Beer. Sparkling Apple Ginger Beer was our favourite, it is quite fiery and definitely one to be enjoyed by adults.  Sparkling Apple will be appreciated by both adults and children.

Sparkling Apple poured over ice.

Eye catching cartons.
Apple & Rhubarb, sweet and sharp from blended apples, and sour from rhubarb, this is a perfect combination of flavours. Cloudy Apple, their Original Signature Blend, is a winner and very refreshing. Apple & Ginger is a warming drink for the autumnal months, and this proved to be a firm favourite of ours. Apple & Elderflower has a subtle hint of elderflower coming through and is the perfect summer drink.

We poured the drinks over ice or served them chilled, either way they are absolutely delicious.

Reassuringly, the juices within the cartons are not made from concentrate but are gently pasteurised blended juices. These cartons aren't in the chiller cabinet at your local supermarket, but can be found in the ambient aisle, they can be stored unopened at room temperature. The cartons need to be stored in the fridge either to chill them down, or after opening. They come in Tetra Pak cartons and can be recycled too.

One 200ml glass of any of their juices will provide 1 of your 5-a-day.

750ml Sparkling Apple/Sparkling Ginger Beer RRP £2.79. 1 litre still juice cartons RRP £2.09. 250ml lunchbox still cartons 89p. 250ml x 6 multipacks £3.89, Kid's Blends x 3 multipacks/200ml RRP £1.79.

Stockists include:  Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Booths, independent stores and direct from Cawston Press.

Thank you Martin and Cawston Press for the delicious juices.

13 Sep 2012

Judge Corestuff - Review

The Judge Corestuff is the invention of Andrew Armit, and together with Judge, they developed this handy kitchen gadget.  It is very similar to the Judge Apple Corer, but instead of the barrel taking out the whole of the core it leaves a base.

With the core depth selector you can make the core as shallow or deep as you wish. The corer can be used for fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, tomatoes and onions.

Core removed effortlessly, simply push to eject the core. 

Baked apples stuffed with fruit
 or you can use pork stuffing to fill the cavity.
It would be very difficult to leave a base in your fruit and vegetables without this nifty kitchen gadget.  The Judge Corestuff is extremely well made, very easy to use and I cored my apple perfectly.

Please visit Judge Cookware for stockist information.

Thank you Pam and Judge Cookware for a great kitchen gadget.

11 Sep 2012

Wilkinson White and Bamboo Sauce Pot Set - Review

This lovely set of three sauce pots sitting on an upright stand are a great idea for the dining table. They are made from ceramic and sustainably sourced bamboo.

Each pot (without the lid) measures approximately 6cm high. The saucepot stand is approximately 21cm high.  The pots sit securely on the stand and are easily removed and then placed back onto the stand.

The sauce pots are unfussy, yet stylish, and will make a great gift too.

White and Bamboo Sauce Pot Set £10 from Wilkinson and is part of the 'Wilko' own brand range.

Thank you Gabriella for the review samples.

8 Sep 2012

Smoked Haddock with Bacon and Leeks

I remember going to a 'posh' restaurant and being served undyed smoked haddock. They served the fish on top of a mound of mashed potato.....I've never forgotten how dull that meal looked.  It's definitely dyed smoked haddock for me every time!

There are a lot of buttery juices after the fish has cooked, I placed my cooked new potatoes and leeks in the tray and turned them in those fabulous juices.  This is a quick and tasty fish dish with only a few ingredients, it was really delicious too.

You will need:

Serves: 4

50g softened butter, 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, few rashers streaky bacon, 4 smoked haddock fillets, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly ground pepper, 2 chopped leeks.

1. Place the butter into a bowl, add the chopped herbs, mix together.
2. Grill the bacon until crispy, drain and set aside.
3. Put the fish fillets onto a foil lined baking tray, grease the foil and spread the herb butter over the fillets.
4. Sprinkle the lemon juice over and season with black pepper.
5. Grill for 6 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
6. Cook the leeks in boiling water, drain. Add to the tray in which the fish has cooked and coat with the buttery juices.
7. Crumble over the reserved bacon.

7 Sep 2012

Eddingtons Meat Thermometer/Temperature Probe - Review

The Eddingtons Meat Thermometer has a remote probe sensor, the probe lead is 110cm long and heat resistant up to 250°C.  The probe lead is inserted into the thermometer, and the probe is inserted into the meat before placing into the oven.   The thermometer can be set in either Fahrenheit or Celsius, and there is a switch on the back to set the unit from Cook to Timer mode. When the required temperature is reached an alarm will sound.

Thermometer set to the required temperature
 with the probe inserted into the middle of the Beef Wellington.
There is a magnet on the back of the unit to mount the thermometer onto your oven, a flip down stand to sit on the work top or it can be fixed onto the back of a cupboard door. Insert the probe into the centre of the meat, place in the oven, shut the door onto the cord and ensure your thermometer is set correctly to the required temperature.

Cooked Beef Wellington
Now I have used the oven temperature probe, I really don't know why I haven't used one before.  I won't have to guess if my meat is cooked, the probe can also be used for making jams, sweets, in fact for most tasks where it is necessary to know the temperature.  I tested the thermometer for boiling water and it registered 100°C.

The probe comes with full instructions, but unfortunately there isn't a temperature guide included. 1   x AAA battery is required for the temperature/timer unit.

This is a great kitchen gadget which will be used time and time again. 

Stockist: The Cooks Kitchen.  It is very affordable at £11.90 plus p&p.

Thank you Eleanor and Eddingtons for the review sample.

6 Sep 2012

Tenzo Whistling Kettle - Review

The Tenzo kettle is a modern retro stove top whistling kettle and comes in either matt black, matt red or stainless.  They are very stylish, look fabulous in the kitchen and are suitable for use on all hobs including induction. The kettle is the latest addition to the Tenzo range from Premier Housewares.

The 2.5 litre kettle has a wide base and  measures H23 x W23 x D21. The kettle has finger grips on the underside of the handle to ensure a firm even hold.

Here is a short video of the whistling kettle!

The kettle can be filled through the spout, the water in the kettle heated up quickly, the handle is 'stay cool', and the water pours out of the spout efficiently.  Putting the kettle on for a cuppa will now be fun and I look forward to the kettle whistling. I haven't used a stove top kettle prior to being sent this one for review and have never owned a whistling kettle,  but I have fond memories of my Nan using a whistling kettle in her kitchen. These beautiful kettles will make a great gift - available from Amazon - prices start at £37.49 for the Stainless Steel, the Matt Red and Matt Black are £39.49 and come with a 5 year guarantee. Thank you Premier Housewares and Pam for the fabulous kettle.

3 Sep 2012

Strawberry Friands

Friands are popular in Australia and New Zealand, unfortunately you won't see them in many coffee shops here in the UK. Kaffeine in Fitzrovia, London sell the best strawberry friands and it is well worth making a trip to their coffee shop for these alone, better still, if accompanied by a fabulous coffee. See my previous posting here.

Friands are quite sweet and I think next time I will try and cut down on the amount of sugar.  I tried mixing some pureed strawberries into the buttercream but unfortunately I was left with a curdled mess. Topping friands with buttercream isn't the norm, but I can say they tasted wonderful.  Perhaps mixing some strawberry puree with either mascarpone or whipped double cream would be a better option, here again, after looking at images of friands they don't appear to be topped with any type of cream! 
Fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries would cut through some of the sweetness, all you have to do is pour the batter into the tin, scatter over a few berries and you can then poke some down into the mixture or leave a few on top. After they have cooled dust with icing sugar.

You will need:  6 hole friand tin well greased.

100g butter, 140g icing sugar, 25g plain flour, 85g ground almonds, 3 medium egg whites

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Melt the butter and use some of it to grease the friand tin. Allow the butter to cool.
3. Sift the icing sugar and sifted flour into a bowl. Add the ground almonds and mix all together.
4. Whisk the egg whites lightly until they resemble a froth, and then fold into the dried ingredients.  Mix in the cooled melted butter lightly.
5. Fill the tins with the cake mix.  Bake for 20 minutes until firm.  Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, run a knife around the edges, turn out and cool on a wire rack.
6. They will keep well, without the cream, in an airtight tin for a few days.