26 Feb 2012

Cartmel Sticky Toffee Apple Crumble

I've been asked if I would like to be part of a team of Cartmel Village People pudding reviewers. As a team member on the panel I have to taste and review a different pudding every month. As a proper pudding lover, it isn't going to be difficult, especially as Cartmel make handmade puddings with 100% natural ingredients, sourced wherever possible from local suppliers.

I was sent a lovely parcel from Cartmel Village Shop containing their very famous Sticky Toffee Pudding, a jar of Sticky Toffee Sauce and the pudding of the month for February, Sticky Toffee Apple Crumble.

The pudding weighs 500g and serves 4/5 people. It comes in a foil container and is cooked to perfection after 20 minutes, with the sauce bubbling up the sides of the container. The smell in my kitchen was wonderful whilst the crumble was cooking. The delicious and perfectly cooked chunky apples, with just the right amount of bite, are mixed into a generous sweet and sticky toffee sauce then topped with the best crumble ever. I served mine with custard because I can't think of a better way to eat crumble.

Sticky Toffee Apple Crumble waiting patiently for the custard sauce.

No prizes for guessing who ate this.

Next month it is the turn of Lemon Drizzle Pudding - a perfect pudding for spring and one I am looking forward to trying.

Cartmel Village Shop is a family owned business who have a passion for puddings and have been declared a 'Food Hero' by Rick Stein.

The puddings are available from the Cartmel Village Shop in Cartmel, Crumbia and online at www.cartmelvillageshop.co.uk as well as branches of Waitrose, Booths, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, and independent fine foods shops.

24 Feb 2012

OXO Good Grips Hand Held Mixer

This new Hand Held Mixer by OXO is part of the retro baking revival. The handle features OXO's soft non-slip grip and the beaters are made from stainless steel. It is a well made product, lightweight, very easy to use and fairly quiet too. I didn't have to chase it round the mixing bowl, and it doesn't make a screeching sound as the whisk heads turn, also it can be used by either a left handed or right handed person. It's great for mixing batters, cream and eggs, just to name a few of the uses you will find for this fab kitchen gadget.

Simply press the two side buttons to detach the base and pop in the dishwasher. The beaters can be removed separately for cleaning too.

Just for fun, I made a nostalgic dessert of jelly, custard and cream, I slightly over-whipped the cream because I think I was enjoying whizzing the handle.

A 'bit of nostalgia' - I remember as a child, I used to watch both my Nan and my Mum whizzing the handle of the whisk and just how much noise it could make.

I also remember using the hand whisk and having to chase it around the bowl, they always had a mind of their own. I would go one way and the whisk the other, you haven't lived unless you managed to get milk, eggs and flour all round the kitchen or have heard the screeching sound of whisk heads hitting the sides of the mixing bowl. The whisk was not only heavy to use, but if my memory serves me well, they were quite difficult to clean too, especially if you let batter set onto them.

The hand held mixer is priced at £20 and is available from Lakeland or visit www.oxouk.com

Thank you Emma for the OXO Hand Held Mixer.

19 Feb 2012

Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Icing

Recently I have been making 'proper cake' and decided to have a cupcake break. I made a fabulous iced lemon curd cake the other day, but it wasn't blog worthy, which was a shame. The cake was moist with a tender crumb, the lemon curd was perfect, but I didn't make enough icing for the topping. Not to be beaten I decided to make some more icing and add this to the icing already on the cake, it was too thin and dripped off the cake too much, in the meantime the lemon curd took on a life of it's own and decided to ooze out of the cake. Shame really because when I sliced the cake and put it onto plates it looked fabulous and tasted sensational, looks definitely aren't everything.

What has the above got to do with Nigella's cake? Well, I wouldn't describe this cake as a looker, but taste wise, it's got everything going for it, providing you aren't mean with the fresh ginger and you don't over cook the cake and dry it out.

I think the lemon icing is optional, even though lemon and gingerbread are a match made in heaven, the cake still tastes wonderful if you miss this out. The downside to icing the cake is the gingerbread discolours the icing after a day, and if you want to keep this cake for a few days to give it a chance to get even stickier, the icing will need to be cut off before serving. I've given twice the amount of icing specified in the original recipe because it was a bit on the mean side and the top of the cake shows through.

Slightly adapted recipe:

You will need: large roasting tin 30 x 20 x 5cm greased and lined with parchment paper.

For the cake:

150g unsalted butter, 125 dark muscovado sugar, 200g golden syrup, 200g black treacle, 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 250ml milk, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water, 300g plain flour.

For the icing:

2 tablespoon lemon juice, 350g sieved icing sugar, 2 tablespoons warm water.

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3.
2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the sugar, golden syrup, treacle, ginger and cinnamon. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk, beaten eggs and bicarbonate of soda in its water.
3. Add the flour to a bowl and pour in the liquid ingredients, beating until well mixed. Pour into the tin and bake for ¾ hour to 1 hour (I baked mine for ¾ hour) by which time the cake should be risen and firm to the touch.
4. For the icing: Sift the icing sugar, add the lemon juice, then gradually add the warm water. The icing needs to be thick. Spread over the cooled gingerbread and leave to set before cutting into slices.
5. Store the cake in an airtight tin - if you opt for not icing the cake, the cake will get stickier with storing for a few days.

15 Feb 2012

Review: Stellar Easy Lift Cast Iron Saute/Server Pan

This fabulous 24cm glossy black cast iron saute pan from Stellar Cookware is both lightweight and sturdy. The range uses a unique manufacturing technique to produce a 'thrown' cast iron pan which produces a thinner but lighter weight body. It retains the outstanding thermal properties of cast iron without the usual heaviness that's associated with cast iron pans. Stellar 'Easy lift pans' are lined with durable enamel which will never wear out.

There are two generous sized riveted stainless steel handles, a glass lid with a steam vent (unfortunately I took the photograph with the lid the wrong way up - please refer to the photograph at the end of this posting to see the steam vent), is suitable for all hob types, oven safe up to 220°C and comes with a Stellar Lifetime Guarantee. Whilst the pan is dishwasher safe, I would hand wash to keep the pan looking at it's best. The pan will look good in any kitchen and is a modern, timeless classic.

I cooked a meal on the hob to test for hotspots and the pan cooked evenly. I cut a medium chicken into portions and the pan was sufficiently large enough to feed a family of four. I cooked chicken, shallots, smoked bacon, garlic and herbs in white wine for last Sundays lunch and the pan was a complete joy to use.

Glass lids are always useful and I like to take a peek to see how the meal is progressing rather than keep lifting the lid. I was able to take the pan to the dining room and serve the meal at the table which saves using more pots and means less washing up - which is always a good thing.

Cast iron pans always look good in the kitchen but as we all know they can be heavy to lift, especially when they are loaded with food. I found the pan to be sturdy, the handles secure and the food stayed hot.

24cm Saute pan/server £40.00 and is also available in other sizes. Please find your nearest Stellar stockist here.

The capacity of the pan/server is approximately 1.5L

Thank you to Stellar Cookware for my saute server.

12 Feb 2012

Jamie Oliver's Cauliflower Cheese Soup

Love cauliflower cheese? Hopefully cauliflower cheese soup which is made with a few extra added veg, a good quality cheddar cheese and a dollop of English mustard will become one of your favourites.

It has been so cold where I live, the snowman the children next door made last Saturday, has only just started to melt. I didn't make a snowman but made this fabulous soup instead in the warmth of my house. The soup is easy to make, extremely tasty and can't be found in a carton in your local supermarket! All you need is some good bread, preferably not the plastic stuff, and you've got yourself a lovely lunch.

I made some crispy bacon to garnish the soup but the majority of it sank to the bottom of the bowl whilst I was trying to set up the camera, it was no bad thing though because the crispy bacon went with the soup beautifully and added some texture.

The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver's Cookery Book Ministry of Food.

2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery, 2 medium onions, 2 cloves of garlic, 800g cauliflower, olive oil, 200g Cheddar cheese, 2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes, salt and black pepper, 1 teaspoon English mustard.

1. Dice the carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Cut the cauliflower into florets.
2. Into a large pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and put over a medium heat, add the diced vegetables. Cook for 10 minutes with a lid partially placed over the pan or until the carrots have softened and the onion is lightly golden.
3. Grate the cheese. Put the stock cubes into a jug and pour in 1.8 litres of boiling water from a kettle. Add to the vegetables in the pan. Stir and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the vegetables are cooked.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese and mustard, season with salt and pepper. Use a hand blender and pulse until silky smooth - if using a liquidiser let the soup cool down, never put hot liquid into a liquidiser.
5. Top with more grated cheese and some crispy bacon.

9 Feb 2012

Review: Sabichi Textiles Best of British

These new, on trend, themed designs by Sabichi Textiles celebrate being British. We have the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations to look forward to and also the excitement of the Olympics.

This Best of British quality range are made from 100% cotton, they will look fabulous in any kitchen, are beautifully embellished, and guaranteed to brighten up your day.

The following coordinating sets are all machine washable at 40°C and can be purchased separately.

Single Oven Glove: 18 x 32cm - Best of British red oven glove embellished with a heart union flag on one side and the other side is quilted. It is lined with a 100% polyester wadding and the top of the glove has a hanging hook.

Double Oven Glove: 18 x 90cm - Lined with a 100% polyester wadding. The glove sections are red and decorated with a heart union flag and white embellishment, the dark blue material separating the two gloves is decorated with white hearts. There is a hook for hanging the gloves.

Set of 3 Tea Towels: 40 x 60cm - a red Best of British tea towel printed with a heart shaped union flag, a red, blue and white stripe and a dark blue tea towel with white printed hearts, embellished with red scallops along the bottom edge. All of the tea towels have a useful hanging hook.

Kitchen Apron: 70 x 75cm - This fun apron is white, red and blue striped 100% cotton. The useful pocket on the front is red and embellished with a union flag heart. The bottom of the apron is embellished with red scallops.

Sabichi Homewares Ltd are a leading UK retail brand, established in 1994 with one mission - to bring fantastic quality homewares to consumers in the UK at a great price.

You can buy the above Best of British products at Sabichi.co.uk - they also have a customer services team who are happy to answer any queries you may have regarding products or orders.

Thank you Sabichi Homewares Ltd.

5 Feb 2012

Camembert Baked in a Box

I chose my Camembert because it has a small gingham cloth under the cheese and I thought how great it looked. Cooking the cheese this way is quick, easy, delicious and perfect for Valentine's Day or in fact any day of the year.

Not very long ago I bought a Camembert and it was so smelly I actually considered stopping the car and throwing it into the nearest bin, because it made my car smell worse than an old pair of slippers - it did the same to the fridge too. The cheese in the photograph was smelly too, and it too made my car smell horrible but I learnt from the previous one, I didn't put it in the fridge and cooked it the same day.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, take the cheese out of the box and remove the inner wrapper, place back in the box, rub the top of the cheese with a clove of garlic, cut a cross in the top and pour in some white wine. I poked a few sprigs of thyme into my Camembert and then replaced the lid. Place the box onto a small baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until the cheese wobbles.

Toasted ciabiatta, french loaf, hot new potatoes, tiny cherry tomatoes, asparagus or purple sprouting broccoli all make good dippers.

4 Feb 2012

Review: Zing Silicone Cooking Utensils

These silicone cooking utensils sent to me for review are from Zing and they have added a much needed splash of colour to my kitchen. I am already familiar with this product range because I have had a pair of long handled silicone tongs from Zing for a long time now and have been really pleased with them.

The pastry brush has a long handle and can double up as a basting brush. The turner and spoon are great for cooking, not only do they look great but they are functional too. The handles are sturdy, mine didn't get hot, they are heat resistant up to 240°C and wash easily in soapy water - I tested mine by making a chilli and was delighted to see there wasn't any staining left behind on the products.

Zing is a collection of silicone cooking utensils, tools and gadgets from Premier Housewares and can be found on Amazon.

Thank you to Premier Housewares.

3 Feb 2012

Prestat Celebrate the Best of British

Prestat, chocolatiers to Her Majesty The Queen, are flying the flag for Britain and I have been fortunate to receive a bespoke collection of five truffles presented in a fabulously contemporary, patriotic Union Jack box.

Prestat celebrates the engagement and wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales to Miss Catherine Middleton with this bespoke collection of their Finest Truffles.

The renowned artist and illustrator Kitty Arden designed the box featuring a billowing Union Jack to reflect a sense of national pride. Kitty then added an element of fun and indulgence by incorporating Prestat's typically exuberant swirls as well as their trademark pink and gold.Sea Salt Caramel Truffles - A dark chocolate shell filled with soft caramel infused with sea salt and enrobed in fine dark chocolate. These chocolates allude to us being a seafaring nation, while the combination of the softest caramel and dark chocolate infused with sea salt is as bold and daring as any great British hero.

Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles - Creamy white chocolate feathered in pink and filled with a rich chocolate Marc de Champagne ganache. As beautiful as a blushing English rose.

St. Clement's Truffles - A dark chocolate ganache combining the sun filled flavours of oranges and lemons carried inside a dark chocolate shell. Inspired by the ancient nursery rhyme 'Oranges and Lemons' which lists several of London's most historic churches.

Hazelnut Pralines - Lightly roasted hazelnuts melded with velvety milk chocolate to make this celebrated praline to represent tradition and excellence.

Passion Fruit Truffles - An exotic passion fruit chocolate ganache enrobed in the finest milk chocolate. These exotic and contemporary milk chocolates sum up the diversity, creativity and vibrancy of Britain in the twenty first century.

Prestat chocolates are all made by hand in London and are served at all major state banquets. Everyone from the Queen Mother to Roald Dahl regarded them as a favourite treat. The writer even referred to Prestat in his autobiographical recipe book, 'Memories of Gypsy Corner'. "I also adore so-called truffles...as Prestat makes them."

In 1975 Prestat had the honour of being awarded a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty The Queen. Prestat was awarded a second Royal Warrant by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in her centenary year.

Prestat chocolates can either be bought online or at selected retailers.

Why not visit the Prestat Shop in London at:

14 Princes Arcade

Thank you Prestat

1 Feb 2012

Review: Judge Heated Milk Frother

It is now easy to make good quality hot foamed milk with this electrically heated Judge Milk Frother. The body is stainless steel, cordless, lightweight and comes with an easy grip handle.

All you have to do is place the magnetic impeller (this is the whisk) at the bottom of the inside of the frother body, pour between 75ml and 300ml cold milk into the stainless steel body, place the lid on, press the on/off switch and after a couple of minutes the cold milk will have turned into hot frothed milk. The frother switches off automatically, and it is a quick, convenient and easy way to make frothed milk at home for lattes, cappuccino and hot chocolate.

Milk will always stick to the bottom of pans and to minimise this I always rinse mine out with cold water and then add the milk, and I used this method with the milk frother. I added 150ml of cold semi-skimmed milk to the jug, switched on and two minutes later produced lots of fabulous hot frothy milk. The frother is whisper quiet and there was minimal sticking of milk, no burning on the bottom of the jug, and the milk washed off easily.

The temperature of the milk along with the froth, produced a good quality cup of hot chocolate and on a cold, grey day it made a welcome change from my usual cup of coffee. Also, if you have a coffee machine which will only make espresso but would love to make a latte or cappuccino this frother will be ideal.

In the past I have had coffee machines demonstrated to me where the steamed milk isn't as good as this frothed milk. If you long to have a frothy milky drink then this clever gadget will be perfect.

Semi-skimmed milk frothed perfectly, although full fat milk is recommended for the best froth.
Makes copious amounts of froth.
Easy to read volume markings inside the jug.
The frother is whisper quiet whilst frothing the milk.
Turns cold milk into hot frothed milk at the flick of a switch.
Pours efficiently.
Easy grip handle.
Looks good in the kitchen.

The milk can stick to the base.
Any leftover milk cannot be reheated otherwise it will burn and stick on the bottom of the jug.
The body of the jug cannot be immersed in water for cleaning.
There is only one pouring lip on the side of the jug and left handed people will find pouring problematic.

Summary: A well made kitchen gadget that will bring the coffee shop experience into your own home.

Typical in store price £43.00
Stockist Information www.judgecookware.co.uk

Thank you to Judge for the Heated Milk Frother.