31 May 2012

Recipe: Jubilee Queen of Puddings

Queen of Puddings is a British Classic, and to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee the pudding was adapted.  Cherries Jubilee was invented for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. I decided to take this idea, and spread a layer of Cherries Jubilee on the pudding base.  I only hope the Queen doesn't mind that I messed about with a classic pudding, otherwise it could be the Tower for me.....

This pudding never looks the prettiest when served up, but a tip is to serve the pudding when it is lukewarm, this way the custard base has a chance to set again. For presentation, individual puddings win every time. No piped meringue, simply dollop the whisked egg whites into the centre, spread out towards the edges of the dish and swirl with a spoon. 

Serves:  4-6

For the pudding:

90g fresh breadcrumbs, 2 tbs soft brown sugar, 450ml whole milk, 1 lemon(zest only), 1 tbs caster sugar, 25g salted butter, 3 large eggs(yolks only, the whites will be used for the meringue)

For the topping:

350g jar pitted cherries ( I buy mine from Lidl), 2 tbs sugar free cherry jam, 1 tsp brandy, McDougalls Thickening Granules. 3 large egg whites, 75g caster sugar

1. Preheat the grill to medium setting.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and brown sugar onto a roasting tray and mix together.  Grill the breadcrumb mix until the breadcrumbs are lightly toasted.  Put on one side to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2.
3. Heat the milk, lemon zest, sugar and butter together in a pan over a medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is combined.  Stir the toasted breadcrumbs and caster sugar into the milk mixture.  Put to one side to cool for 30 minutes.
4. After the breadcrumb mixture has cooled for 30 minutes, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until pale and fluffy, add them to the milk and breadcrumb mixture and whisk until combined.
5. Pour the pudding mixture into a 20cm ovenproof serving dish and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes until the pudding has risen and set.
6. Drain the cherries(reserve the juice), add to a small saucepan, stir in the cherry jam and two tablespoons of the reserved syrup.  Heat gently until the jam has melted, add a teaspoon of thickening granules and stir until thickened, add the brandy. Cool slightly. Spread over the pudding layer.
7. Whisk the egg whites until the soft peak stage, add the sugar a little at a time whilst still whisking.  Continue to whisk until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form.
8. Spoon the meringue over the pudding and return to the oven for 40 minutes until the meringue is golden brown.

29 May 2012

Review: Montezuma's Monkey Bars

Montezuma's, a British family owned chocolate company, have sent me a huge Monkey Bar to review.  Iconic symbols of Great Britain decorate the packaging including Black Cabs, London Buses, a Telephone Box, Welsh Dragon and a Scottish Lion. They are decorated with the skyline of London too.

My slab of chocolate, would you Adam & Eve it (believe), is made from Venezuelan milk chocolate with orange and hazelnuts. The chocolate bar is made from thick chocolate, and good news, you don't have to go into battle with the chocolate to bite into it. The orange flavour isn't overwhelming and the chocolate has been finely tuned for sweetness. Also, there is a generous scattering of the most delicious whole hazelnuts.

The bars are bigger than an iPad and will be fabulous to share, or as we are doing, sitting outside and eating a piece in the glorious sunshine.  Hubby has just bought some new technology which isn't user friendly, eating the chocolate is helping........

Why Monkey Bar?  Cockney rhyming slang for '500' is monkey! - these bars of chocolate weigh in at 500g or a half-kilo.  

Montezuma's are celebrating this very British year with five different flavoured bars of chocolate:

Airs & Graces (races) - Ecuadorian Dark chocolate with Nougat Pieces.
Nanny Goat (boat) - Venezuelan Milk Chocolate with Salted Peanuts & Butterscotch.
Daisy Roots (boots) - Ecuadorian Dark Chocolate with Cherry & Almond Slices.
Shake & Shiver (river) - Ecuadorian Dark Chocolate with Peppermint & Cocoa Nibs.
RRP £13.99 each.

The brand: A family owned British chocolate company founded in 2000 by Helen and Simon Pattinson. They have built a reputation for producing some of the most innovative chocolate available in the UK.
Visit www.montezumas.co.uk to find out more.

Thank you to Montezuma's and Martin for the wonderful chocolate.

27 May 2012

Review: The Bon Bon Collection by Sabichi

The Bon Bon Collection by Sabichi comprises tableware, storage jars and textiles. Vintage polka dot designs are really popular and this pretty tableware set is a mix and match set of 12 pieces, consisting 4 dinner plates, 4 tea plates and 4 bowls.

The majority of my tableware is white and this set will mix and match perfectly. It's lovely to have a splash of colour in my kitchen and on my dining room table.

I bought some pastel cupcake cases a while back but until now haven't used them, mainly because I didn't have a pretty plate to display them.  These plates will be great for a Vintage Tea Party or to showcase your baking.

I made an instant cake stand by turning over one of the bowls and placed a dinner plate on top. I can now have cake stands in endless colour combinations - the Bon Bon tableware set is £20 which makes it very affordable. I think they are amazing value, I am impressed with the quality, and my kitchen and dining table will get an instant update too.

The set of four mugs are £5.00, again a pretty polka dot design with a scallop edge.
A co-ordinating apron, set of 3 tea towels and double oven glove are £6.00 each and the single oven glove £4.00. The matching glass clip storage jars are £3.00 each and the glass spice jars are £2.00 each.

You can buy these from www.sabichi.co.uk and independent cookshops.

I was sent the Bon Bon 12pc Dinner Set and the 4pc Bon Bon Mug Set for the purposes of this review.

Thank you Pam and Sabichi.

25 May 2012

Recipe: Chocolate Cake With an Apricot and Amaretto Filling

You can't go wrong with a chocolate cake, it's the cake of choice for my small grandchildren and when my children were younger it was their favourite cake too,  I'm not sure my grandchildren would thank me for an apricot and Amaretto filling though. My husband prefers alternative fillings to the usual buttercream and I find St. Dalfour Thick Apricot Jam makes a fabulous jam filling, and even better if you add a few teaspoons of Amaretto liqueur to the jam.  Apricot and almonds are a perfect combination of flavours.

The flower in the photograph is a beautiful alstroemeria, unfortunately it didn't come from my garden, I have tried to grow these but have now given up the fight.  These flowers are much sought after by flower arrangers because they should last for over two weeks.

You will need: Two 18cm sandwich tins base lined and lightly greased.

175g soft margarine, 175g light soft brown sugar, 110g self-raising flour, 50g ground almonds, 2 generous tablespoons best quality cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 3 eggs, ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract.

Icing: 50g dark chocolate, 15g butter, 2 tablespoons milk
Decoration: grated chocolate or Cadbury Flake.
Filling: 3 tablespoons apricot conserve and a few teaspoons of Amaretto liqueur.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
2. In a large mixing bowl add the margarine, sugar, sifted flour, ground almonds, cocoa and baking powder. Add the eggs and vanilla to the bowl. With an electric whisk mix for 2 minutes.
3. Divide the mixture between the two tins. Bake for 25 minutes.
4. Leave in the tins for 5 minutes then turn out and leave on a wire rack to cool.
5. When the cakes have cooled, spread the conserve over one of the sponges. Place the other sponge on top.
6. To make the icing: place the icing ingredients in a glass bowl, place over a pan of hot water. When the ingredients have melted together, stir to smooth the mixture, leave to cool and spread over the surface of the cake.
7. Decorate with grated chocolate.

23 May 2012

Sponsored Video - The Cube by Electrolux

The Cube by Electrolux will be in position on top of the Royal Festival Hall in London from 1st June until 30th September 2012 offering a unique dining experience.  This is to be a celebration of Electrolux professional expertise and also to bring together some of the most innovative chefs in the UK today.

This will be an amazing opportunity to spend an evening in a unique restaurant overlooking the Thames in this Olympic year. You will be able to watch your food being prepared in the state-of-the-art Electrolux open plan kitchen that is showcasing their domestic appliances as well as professional equipment. There is one dining table in the restaurant which will seat 18 lucky diners, and they will be able to interact with 6 top chefs who have 8 Michelin stars between them. The Michelin-starred chefs will also offer tips to guests on how to create restaurant meals at home.

All of the chefs will be using locally sourced ingredients to create a unique menu and they are all thrilled to be taking part in this gastronomic experience that is coming to London after Brussels and Milan.

The chefs: Sat Bains, Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham - Daniel Clifford, Mid Summer House Restaurant, Cambridge - Jonray and Peter Sanchez, Casamia, Bristol - Tom Kitchen, The Kitchen Restaurant, Edinburgh - Claude Bosi, Hibiscus, London.

Reservations are being taken for the 1st of June through to the 24th June and later dates are to be released on the 21st May.

Call +44 (0) 207 288 6450 to be part of this fabulous dining experience.

Sponsored Post

18 May 2012

Cartmel Lemon Drizzle Pudding: Review

The lovely people at Cartmel Village Shop asked if I would like to be part of a team of Cartmel Village People and review some of their wonderful puddings.  This time I am showcasing Lemon Drizzle Pudding.  I love lemon drizzle cake, how clever to turn it into a pudding.

Remove the lid and you get an amazing aroma from the lemon zingy topping.  Secretly dip your finger into the lemon lusciousness - yum. 

All you have to do is pop the pudding into the oven for 20 minutes and the topping turns into a beautiful golden lemony syrup.  Cut into slices and serve whilst still warm with a dollop of cream.

The buttery sponge is light textured and the topping is tangy and luscious.  This pudding definitely has the feelgood factor, it's a little beauty and we loved it. 

My husband thinks he is a pudding expert and has appointed himself as part of the Cartmel Village People (I don't think anyone will notice that they have an extra member).  He says they really know what they are doing, do it well, and they are experts, he can't wait to try the next pudding.

The pudding serves 4/5 people, we ate half and the next day I reheated half the pudding on a plate in the microwave. The pudding is also suitable for home freezing.
Fans of Cartmel asked them for more varieties of pudding and this is one of the new puddings they have made for us all.  You can buy the puddings online, Cartmel Village Shop based in Cumbria, Waitrose, Booths, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason and independent fine food shops.

Did you see my review of Cartmel Summer Fruit Pudding?

Thank you to Cartmel Village Shop and Marie for another fabulous pudding.

15 May 2012

Bill Granger - Blueberry Breakfast Scones

I am the owner of the majority of Bill Granger's cookery books and seem to have watched most of his television programmes. 

These blueberry scones are from his book Bill Granger Holiday, they were light in texture and delicious.  The liquid measurement was far too generous, fortunately I held some liquid back, otherwise they would have been a failure.  They have to be fresh blueberries for this recipe, otherwise the scones will be coloured purple.  All you need to do is warm them in the microwave and slather them in butter - delicious.

I like Bill Granger and so obviously, I forgive him....

Blueberry Breakfast Scones

Makes 8 wedges

250g plain flour, 1 tablespoon caster sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt, 100g cubed unsalted butter, 2 lightly beaten eggs, 125ml cream(I used plain yogurt), 85g blueberries.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Grease a baking tray.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix well. Rub in the butter until it resembles large flakes.
3. Mix together the eggs and cream (or plain yogurt). Toss the blueberries in a little flour and add to the dry ingredients. Pour in some of the egg and cream mix and keep adding until the dough is soft.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and press into a 15cm square. Cut into quarters and then cut each quarter in half.
5. Place on the baking tray and brush some of the remaining egg and cream liquid to glaze.
6. Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

13 May 2012

What's for Dinner? Second Helpings - Review

What's for Dinner? Second Helpings has been written by mum of four, Romilla Arber.  It is the only cookery book in the UK where all sale proceeds go directly to charity.  The Food Education Trust is a charity, established by Romilla in 2008 to promote the benefits of a balanced home cooked diet, through the teaching of cooking skills to children and adults. One of the projects the Trust has been involved with enabled a school to build and equip a kitchen.  They now have cookery classes where members of the community go into school and help, a cookery club and also a breakfast club for the children.  The Food Education Trust is currently funded by the profits from her previous book What's for Dinner? 

Romilla Arber isn't a chef, she is a busy mum of four children and she recognises the need to cook healthy food for her family.  There are 767 pages in the book and features a recipe for every day, every week and every month of the year.  All of the photographs in the book are outstanding and there is a photograph to accompany the majority of the recipes.  This is a book for the home cook and will help with all the weekly meal plans.  The recipes are put together with a balanced diet in mind - plenty of fresh vegetables, four meat meals a week, regular amounts of fish, pulses and cereals.  Romilla has included lots of fabulous recipes for puddings, cakes and biscuits - home cooked are always best.

The book cover and the image of this raspberry and chocolate cake shows the quality of food styling and photography.  

The hope is that What's for Dinner?Second Helpings will inspire us to cook at home and to also plant the seed in our children's minds that cooking at home every day is a normal part of life and one of it's great pleasures.  As a Mum, albeit of grown up children, I know from experience children will never like all foods we give to them, but the opportunity to eat and experience home cooked food is always best. Romilla is very wise, and planting the seed to cook from scratch, so we know exactly what goes into the food we eat, is something children will take with them into adulthood and then pass on to their own children.

The recipes in the book are to serve six but can easily be adapted.  An example of recipes: Pork with Noodles, Thai Style - Baked Meatballs and Potatoes - Salmon Burgers - Fillet Steaks in Pastry with a Vegetable Medley.  Sunday is pudding and cake day - Baked Peaches and Raspberries with Lemon Mascarpone - Chocolate Gingerbread with Chocolate Icing - Sticky Toffee Pecan Pudding with Toffee Sauce - Chocolate Chip Cookies.

A small selection of easy to follow, everyday recipes, I cooked from the book:

Plum and Raspberry Cobbler

My fruit cobbler tasted delicious and the cobbler was light in texture, although the plums didn't seem to want to cook (ripen at home plums never ripen!),  I covered the cobbler with foil and the plums eventually cooked, my raspberries by now didn't resemble raspberries, but this is home cooked food, it still tasted delicious and was definitely worth the wait. To see the fruit cobbler looking stunningly beautiful I recommend you take a peak at the photograph in the book!

Cod and Leek Gratin

A very easy to make gratin - the sauce is simply creme fraiche and cheddar cheese mixed together. We really enjoyed this quick and delicious meal.

One-Pot Chicken Curry

This was a lovely and tasty mid-week meal. The curry wasn't too hot and adding potatoes made the curry more substantial, the addition of peas and tomatoes is an easy way to get more veg on the plate.

Leek and Blue Cheese Risotto

I love risotto, it's a great standby and can be made from just a few ingredients.  Providing you have arborio rice in the store cupboard, then recipes like this can easily be adapted. The risotto was really tasty and a winner.

Price:  £25.00
ISBN No. 978-0-95709-350-8
Park Family Publishing

Thank you Li.

5 May 2012

Plum, Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

I am enjoying reading The Hairy Bikers' Big Book of Baking and trying out a few of the recipes.  The television series to accompany the book has finished and I am really going to miss watching it every week.  They made me smile:)

This recipe is taken from the book and is called Slovakian Fruit Crumble, but I have adapted it.  I definitely can't call it Slovakian Fruit Crumble now.

The mix of plums, rhubarb and apple is really, really good, and is a mix of fruits I can recommend you try.  I popped my fruit mix into a bowl and cooked them in the microwave for a few minutes to start cooking them - I am pleased I did this otherwise I think some of the fruit wouldn't have cooked through. 

Serves: 6

4 ripe plums, 1 large apple, 6 stalks rhubarb, 6 tbsp caster sugar, ½ tsp cinnamon, juice of  ½ lemon.

Crumble Topping: 175g Plain Flour, 1 tsp Baking Powder, ½ tsp allspice, 5 tbsp demerara sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 80g diced butter.

1. Grease a large ovenproof dish. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 4.
2. Halve and stone the plums. Peel, core and dice the apple. Chop the rhubarb.
3. Put the fruit into the ovenproof dish and mix with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.
4. Make the crumble: Put the flour, allspice, sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix together, add the cubes of butter and rub in until the mixture looks like large breadcrumbs.
5. Scatter the crumble mix over the fruit and cook for 20-30 minutes until the fruit bubbles, the topping is golden and check the fruit is cooked.

The London Collection Kitchen Textiles - Review

The London Collection 2012, from Premier Housewares, is a set of quality kitchen textiles made from 100% cotton, to celebrate our Olympic and Jubilee year.  They are printed with London landmarks, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, The Gherkin, and London Eye, they come in a selection of prints in white, red and blue. All of the textiles are bright, cheery and perfect for our kitchens in this very British year, they will make great gifts too. 

The single oven glove is heavily insulated and will cope well with all our extra cooking and baking activities this year.

The double oven glove is quilted for extra insulation and on testing I didn't find any issues with the heat coming through the oven gloves. 

If you never wear an apron, then this must be the year to wear one. It has a useful front pocket and an  adjustable neck strap. 

The set of 3 tea towels are bright and fun, they need washing a couple of times before use to soften the material, and you can be sure they will add a splash of colour to your kitchen.

Available from Amazon.co.uk

Thank you Pam for the fabulous set of kitchen textiles.

4 May 2012

Review: Judge "Grate to Plate" and Judge Multifunction Mincer

The Judge Grate to Plate is the newest addition to the Judge Kitchen Essentials range. It comes with three different removable steel blades - one coarse grater, one fine grater and a slicing blade.

There are three legs with suction feet to hold the grater firmly to the work surface. The handle turns easily with the minimum of effort and the product doesn't move around whilst you are turning the handle.

Grated cheddar cheese made quickly and easily, all you have to do is place a small plate or dish underneath the grating blade, pop the cheese onto the grating blade, hold down the clamp and turn the handle.

I made a cottage pie and instead of the usual mashed potato, I topped the pie with cooked cubes of potato and scattered over the grated cheese.

Melting cheese on crunchy cubes of potato, topped with vine cherry tomatoes.

The carrots to be served alongside the cottage pie sliced quickly and easily with a few turns of the handle and the majority of them were evenly sliced. 

The legs collapse for easy storage, the blades are dishwasher safe, the grater is manually operated and is great value for around £13.20 from good cookshops.


I remember both my Mum and my Nan using a mincer. It isn't something I had ever considered using until I was offered this mincer for review.  The mincer comes with steel coarse and fine mincing blades, and unusually a four-shape cookie press.

A rubber suction clamp secures the Mincer to the work surface, I found it clamped more securely to a smooth surface and used my glass worktop saver. The Mincer is easy to assemble and the handle turns easily and without effort.

There is a food pusher supplied with the Mincer to keep those fingers safe.  An easy way to get the remaining meat out of the Mincer is to feed an onion in after the meat.

I made chicken burgers and the chicken went through fairly easily. If you like to know exactly what you are eating then a mincer for making your own kebabs, burgers, meatballs and stuffing is a great idea.

The Mincer has to be dismantled for washing up and my chicken wasn't the easiest meat to remove from the blades, on reflection I think for testing purposes a red meat would have been better.  I feel you would need to put through enough meat to use on the day and enough meat to freeze for another day, to make it feel worthwhile.

Manually operated, doesn't require any electricity and retails for around £16.00.  For more information visit www.judgecookware.co.uk

Thank you Pam.