28 Nov 2012

Trip to Bordeaux - École du Vin Bordeaux (Wine School)

         École du Vin (Wine School) - featuring Caroline, one of the school's excellent wine experts.

Posting by Kitchen Delights Roving Reporter.

My food and wine press trip started on a cold cloudy Friday afternoon at Luton airport and in just over an hour I arrived in glorious Bordeaux in the south of France, to discover why it is the natural home to sensational food and great wine.

Described as the 'mini Paris' of France, due to the stunning architecture and the cool city vibe you would expect to find in Paris - Bordeaux is a very walkable city which makes it the perfect weekend get-away.

My culinary objective was to discover knock your socks off wines and scrumptious food.  I hope you will get just as excited as I am, as I share in a series of forthcoming blog posts, my visits to gorgeous Châteaux, delightful food markets and other amazing treasures that wait for you in Bordeaux.

A Visit to École du Vin

When you visit Bordeaux be prepared to thoroughly immerse yourself in food and drink (and of course the amazing shopping!) and where better to start than with a trip to École du Vin (Wine School) which is located in the centre of the city.

Learn how to sniff, slurp and sample sensational wines, just like a professional, and learn all about the different soils, grape varieties and other complexities involved in the wine producing process.

This two and a half hour masterclass paints a colourful picture of Bordeaux, as you learn about it's geography and the impact this has on wine production.  Don't worry if you are not a pro - it's a really fun and accessible way for anyone, to start appreciating Bordeaux wines.  You'll feel suitably smug that you have attended a masterclass before visiting a Château or two - trust me!

To find out more about the introduction to wine course http://www.ecole-du-vin.fr/

www.facebook.com/BordeauxWinesUK
twitter.com/BordeauxWinesUK

Disclosure:  The trip was funded by The Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) www.bordeaux.com/uk

Carey, Rosamund and Natasha at R&R Teamwork. Thanks a mill....

25 Nov 2012

Christmas Crumble Muffins


Christmas Crumble Muffins - Christmas - crumble - muffins all rolled into one, perfect.  The muffins are filled with dried cranberries, sultanas, raisins, and black spiced rum, the buttery crumble is perfumed with cinnamon.


These are go large and there was far too much batter for the recommended 12 and will make 16 smaller cupcakes by half filling the cupcake cases.  There's a very generous amount of crumble topping too, I'm going to make 16 muffins next time.

I'm not too sure who the recipe belongs to but I've adapted it. Maybe the recipe is written by Annie Bell, I seem to be making quite a lot of her recipes recently.  I have now found the original recipe - I thought so, it's another great recipe by one of our best cookery writers Annie Bell.

This is a fabulous bake and ticked all the boxes - hope you have a go at making these.

They freeze perfectly and can be refreshed and gently warmed in the microwave, if you use foil cases remove them before refreshing.

Listening to Chris Evans on Radio 2 this week, he made the comment that all lovely Christmas foods should be for Christmas Day and two weeks after that.  I feel really guilty now..........

Crumble Topping

35g dark brown muscovado sugar
35g light brown sugar
70g chilled and diced unsalted butter
100g plain flour
⅓ tsp cinnamon powder

Whiz the above in the food processor until it takes on the look of breadcrumbs, put to one side.

Muffins

180g diced unsalted butter
180g light brown sugar
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
50ml dark rum - I used a black spiced rum
80g sultanas
40g raisins
40g dried cranberries
180g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
icing sugar to decorate

1.  Line a cupcake tin with either 12 or 16 cupcakes.
2.  Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
3.  Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and whiz until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time whilst      still whizzing, add the egg yolk.  Now add the rum, it will look curdled but no worries.
4.  Toss the sultanas, raisins and dried cranberries in some of the plain flour.
5.  Pour the batter into a large bowl.  Sieve over the flour and baking powder, fold into the batter.
6.  Fold in the fruit.
7.  Half fill 16 cupcake cases or use all the batter mix in 12 large cupcake cases.
8.  Sprinkle the crumble mix over the top of the batter.
9.  Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked.
10.Once cool dust with icing sugar.

23 Nov 2012

The Bar of Aero - Chocolate Heaven

A new fun way to get hot chocolate.
Posting by Kitchen Delights Roving Reporter.

Have you ever dreamt of munching your way round Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, like young Charlie Bucket did?  I certainly felt I'd won a golden ticket when Kitchen Delights was invited to the media preview at The Bar of Aero, Trumans Brewery, Brick Lane to celebrate 70 years of bubbly fun in a bar of Aero.

We all know Aero is famous for containing bubbles, but have you ever questioned how a piece of chocolate can contain perfectly preserved bubbles without popping. Listening to the boffins from Aero, it has a lot to do with 16 variables including gas and temperature. Sadly, they didn't reveal any trade secrets to help us make it at home.

I'm not the Roving Reporter!
Putting science aside, the pop-up bar was full of giant multi-coloured plastic bubbles whooshing up and down on air streams, and hot chocolate pods to bring the bubbles to life.




Aero Fool
Aero Mess
There was also a deliciously quirky take on the classic British pudding Eton Mess - Aero Mess, as presented by food stylist Andrew Stellitano.

Thank you to Red Consultancy and The Bar of Aero for a bubbly evening of fun!

Knorr Gourmet Recipe Mix - Review

Classic Chicken Casserole
Knorr Gourmet is a new range of restaurant style mixes developed by the Knorr Chef team.  They are a great idea if you don't want to cook from scratch are short of time or need a quick and delicious meal.  On the front of the packet mix there is a shopping list of fresh everyday ingredients you will need to make the meal.

Knorr Gourmet Baking Bag - Classic Chicken Casserole with Red Wine and a Dash of Balsamic.  A great idea to save time and washing up - all you have to do is add chicken cubes, button mushrooms, red onion, streaky bacon, red wine and the recipe mix to the bag. Place the bag into a casserole dish and cook for 30 minutes.  Taste test: Very rich, and the chicken and vegetables were cooked to perfection.  We would have preferred less herbs.
Knorr Gourmet Foil Steam Pouch - Mediterranean Salmon with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a Pinch of Oregano - this is based on the 'En Papillote' method of cooking. Only four fresh ingredients are required for this meal. Taste Test: The salmon was moist and perfectly cooked, the sauce was delicious and bursting with flavour.

Rustic Ratatouille
Rustic Ratatouille with a Pinch of Oregano and Basil, all you need to buy are peppers, courgette and broccoli to add to the mix.  Taste Test:  Full of flavour and delicious too.

Luxurious Cheese Sauce with a Hint of Pepper - this was made by simply putting the mix into a pan and adding milk.  Heat to thicken.  Taste Test: I would have preferred a stronger cheese flavour, hubby thought it was perfect.

Thank you for the samples.

17 Nov 2012

Mincemeat Bites with Five Seed Topping - Recipe

The crunchy toasted seeds are very, very, delicious
There are so many fabulous Christmas recipes in cookery books and magazines I find it difficult to throw any of them away.  Unfortunately there isn't enough time to either cook or eat the majority of them. This year I thought why not start cooking and eating my Christmas bakes early.  I am already thinking my waistline may regret this decision but as I don't have any weight issues, as yet,  hopefully I will get away with it.......I'll let you know after Christmas if I have any makes and bakes regret.

Quick and easy Christmas recipes that work are a priority, and this little number from a Waitrose recipe card is a winner - think sausage rolls but with a sweet mincemeat filling. Ready rolled puff pastry, add a handful of dried cranberries or dried sour cherries to either a home made mincemeat or a quality bought one and a few seeds scattered over for crunch - I used pumpkin, sunflower, poppy seeds, sesame and linseeds.

Adapted Recipe

You will need:  Greased baking tray

375g pack ready rolled puff pastry, 300g good quality mincemeat, handful dried cranberries, lightly beaten egg, 50g mixed seeds, 2 tbsp sifted icing sugar.

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
2. Cut the pastry in half lengthways. Put half the mincemeat down the centre of the pastry strips and scatter over a few dried cranberries.
3. Brush the beaten egg along the edges of the pastry.  Roll over to make two long rolls. Seal the edges together.
4. Place the rolls onto the baking tray cut side down, brush with egg, sprinkle over the seeds.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cooked. Cool, cut into mincemeat bites, dust with icing sugar.

Christmas Stocking Gift Ideas




GarlicCard
The GarlicCard is a nifty portable gadget invented by a Swedish chef.  The card can be used to  grate garlic cloves or fresh ginger into a puree, and afterwards the curved end of the grater can be used to spread the garlic onto bread. Easy to clean by hand or dishwasher safe.
Stockist: Presents For Men - £3.99


DropStop Wine Pourer


The DropStop wine gadget - insert the flexible circular disc into the neck of the wine bottle to stop those annoying wine spills and drips. They can be inserted into any drinks bottle.
Stockist: Amazon.co.uk - £2.99  Supplied in a pack of 3


DropStop Wine Breather


Especially for red wine, this is fitted into the neck of the wine bottle and prevents drips and aerates the wine. Stockist: Amazon.co.uk - £1.95 available in packs of 2.

Thank you to Eleanor and Eddingtons for the samples.

12 Nov 2012

Braised Red Cabbage With Apple - Recipe


This Braised Red Cabbage with Apple recipe from Waitrose is one of many red cabbage recipes I use, but I always make this one for Christmas Day, it is so delicious and tasty.

The perfect sweet/sour taste, not too spicy and sweetened with light muscovado sugar and redcurrant jelly - can be made in advance and frozen too.

To freeze: Line a baking tray or similar with clingwrap, place the cooked braised cabbage onto the lined tray, spread over the base, cover with clingwrap, place in the freezer.  When frozen remove and cut into portions.  Wrap each portion in clingwrap, place into a ziplock bag and return to the freezer. To reheat: defrost and reheat in the microwave.

The recipe can also be found in the Waitrose Christmas Harvest 2012 recipe guide.




10 Nov 2012

Quick Portuguese Tarts - Jamie's 30 Minute Meals

A few weeks ago I went on holiday to Madeira, and as usual when I am away from home, I like to experience local cakes and pastries, especially sitting outside a cafe on a fabulous sunny day. Cinnamon is a popular ingredient used in cakes and pastries - apple and cinnamon cake, banana and cinnamon cake and Portuguese Tarts, to name a few.  There were quite a few happy cake and pastry tastings, together with far too many cups of amazing coffee.

Whilst Jamie's Quick Portuguese Tarts aren't the same as we were served in Madeira, the filling is light, the orange caramel topping is superb and I could quite happily have eaten the lot!

I didn't cook these against the clock, I can't do it, won't do it - otherwise we end up with car crash food.

There are plenty of great recipes in the book, although if you wish to cook only one of the suggested meal plans the method layout can be frustrating.

I hope you have a go at making these delicious tarts.






9 Nov 2012

Rosemary Roast Lamb Chops and Potatoes


Whilst lazily reading the newspaper at my local coffee shop the other week, I came across this recipe from BBC GoodFood in the Daily Mail.  I always look forward to seeing which recipe they have chosen from the GoodFood website because I can then buy the ingredients whilst I'm out shopping and cook the suggested recipe.  I don't know whose job it is to choose recipes from the GoodFood website for the Daily Mail readers but they always pick a winner.  I'm mostly grateful to them because it saves me thinking 'what shall I cook for dinner'.

After my disaaahhhster (disaster) with a previous meal, I thought it only fair I cooked something that looked good, tasted wonderful and is very delicious too.

The recipe is very easy to prepare and make, I used King Edward old potatoes because when roasted they are crunchy on the outside and fluffy within.  The balsamic vinegar drizzled over the roasted meal is a must and takes it to another level. I cut off some rosemary which happily grows in my garden and managed to tear off the last sprig of mint too.

The recipe is on the BBC GoodFood website. I found the oven timings suggested on their site too short and cooked the potatoes for another 20 minutes.


8 Nov 2012

Lindt Excellence Chocolate and Wine Pairing


Lindt recently invited Kitchen Delights to a Chocolate and Wine pairing event, which they were hosting at Chocolate Unwrapped in London, to celebrate National Chocolate Week.  Lindt Master Chocolatier, Stefan Bruderer and Master of Wine, Sarah Jane Evans held an in-depth chocolate and wine pairing event.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the event but they have kindly sent me a fabulous mini chocolate and wine pairing pack which was made up specially for Chocolate Week.

The pack contains a Chocolate and Wine tasting guide and:

2 x Excellence dark 70% Cocoa
2 x Excellence dark 85% Cocoa
2 x Excellence dark Orange Intense
2 x Excellence dark Sea Salt
2 x Excellence dark Mint Intense
2 x Excellence Extra Creamy Milk
1 x Cool Harvest Sauvignon Blanc
1 x Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cabernet

Hubby, who has neither experience or knowledge regarding chocolate and wine pairing (but does enjoy both chocolate and wine) was assigned the task.  His first pairing was Sauvignon Blanc and Dark Mint Intense. Individually, he enjoyed both the chocolate and wine, but somehow seemed to miss the point regarding the pairing.  This is obviously a new flavour experience he needs to work on.

He read the tasting notes again, which fully explain how to enjoy the pairings, with this knowledge he was now able to appreciate the next pairing.

A Shiraz Cabernet and 85% dark Cocoa chocolate are the pairing this time, and he thought the complexity of flavours in both the chocolate and a full bodied wine are the perfect match.

We both enjoyed the mini chocolates - as soon as you remove the wrapper you are in chocolate heaven. I couldn't choose a favourite chocolate from the above list, but Dark Sea Salt is one we hadn't tried before and is definitely a taste sensation.

Thank you to Sandra and Lindt for the Chocolate and Wine Tasting Pack.

7 Nov 2012

Good Heavens! Drinking Yogurt - Review

Good Heavens! Drinking Yogurts contain real fruit, are bursting with flavour, tasty, creamy, and an added bonus, they are good for you too. The low fat live probiotic yogurt drinks are a perfect way for adults to start the day. These new cute bottles are beautifully presented in a small eye catching carry case - I kept my bottles in the case until the last one had been drank, they look so lovely and I couldn't bring myself to throw the box away........

I have been sent Good Morning! Raspberry, Oats and Honey yogurt drink - a zing of raspberry, oats for fibre and lightly sweetened with honey - this one is a slightly thicker yogurt drink. I was concerned the oats might be a little annoying to drink, but 6% finely milled oatmeal was absolutely fine and an easy way to get extra fibre into my diet. This is the perfect start to the day, or for those days when you can't find time for breakfast, can't face breakfast, need breakfast on the go or had an early start to the day.  Also available in Blueberry, Oats and Honey.

Next I tried the heavenly Luscious Strawberry Drinking Yogurt, this is a taste of summer past and perfect for those of us who love fruit. Not just for breakfast but anytime of the day, and if you find yourself beginning to feel weary mid afternoon these are the perfect pick-me-up.  Available in Refreshing Apple & Pear or Succulent Blackcurrant too.

The 125ml bottles of yogurt come in a 4 pack carry case. RRP £2.50 and available at Tesco and other supermarkets.

Good Heavens! are a Boutique Dairy based in Hayes, Middlesex.  They make their yogurt slowly and in small batches. Completely natural, free from additives, packed with real fruit and contain over 25% of an adult's calcium RDA.

Thank you to Martin and Good Heavens! for the review samples.

6 Nov 2012

Montezuma's Advent Calendar + Orange and Geranium Chocolate Snowballs: Review


Montezuma's Advent Calendar is filled with 24 large cubes of luxurious milk and white organic chocolate. The calendar is beautifully decorated with reindeer, robins, Christmas trees, snowflakes and baubles.  Both children and grownups will have fun finding the next delicious chocolate treat.


Orange and Geranium Chocolate Snowballs filled with dark organic chocolate truffle will delight adults. Thoughtfully and carefully, the floral scent of geranium has been mixed with citrus orange, incorporated into a dark chocolate truffle centre and enveloped with a white chocolate outer casing, to give a surprising and luxurious taste sensation. It is impossible to eat only one of these..........they are so very delicious.

Unique, innovative, British,  hand made luxury chocolate with the wow factor, lovingly brought to us by founders of Montezuma's, Helen and Simon.

Advent Calendar with 24 chocolates (240g) £9.99 - Chocolate Snowballs (150g) £4.99.
Stockists - 5 shops(Brighton, Chichester, Winchester, Kingston-upon-Thames and Spitalfields in London), John Lewis, Debenhams, moonpig.com and good fine food stores.

Thank you Martin and Montezuma's for the wonderful Christmas Chocolate Gifts.

3 Nov 2012

Chilli Con Carne Meatballs - Jamie's 15 Minute Meals


I challenged myself to make Chilli Con Carne Meatballs from Jamie's 15 Minute Meals, after seeing him on TV effortlessly produce this recipe.

Jamie has a team who do all the prep - I have just me and distractions. Everything started off well and I thought it would be a doddle, but then the washer finished, more washing to put in, next the tumble dryer to fill. Couldn't find the blender, found the blender, struggled to assemble the blender. Where is the bulgur wheat hiding?  I forgot to buy the preserved lemons. Why are there only a few cumin seeds left in the jar? It was all going wrong.......

I wasn't sure about cooking the meatballs for such a short time and cooked these for longer, I thought the quantity of bulgur wheat might not be enough and then cooked too much - I should have trusted Jamie:)

Would you like to know how long all this took me? - I lost the will, and have absolutely no idea.  The photograph tells the story........

Hubby thought the meal was very tasty and he particularly enjoyed the meatballs. He would have liked less bulgur wheat and more meatballs, not the huge plate of bulgur wheat I gave to him, and as for me, I will always prefer traditional chilli con carne.

I plan to cook a few more recipes from the book, perhaps this time I might manage to cook something without so many distractions.

The book - bursting at the seams with tasty healthy recipes, great food styling and photographs, and each recipe gives calorie, fat, sugar and saturated fat details.

Please Note:  This blog post isn't to be taken seriously - ok!


Sabichi Brasserie Range - Review


Not only does this plum 29cm Ceramic Rectangle Dish look amazing, it is very functional too. It can be used in the freezer, microwave or oven to 220ºC, makes a great serving dish, is dishwasher proof and very easy to hand wash too.

I made Autumn Spiced Plums in my dish - Preheat the oven to 180ºC - stone the plums, cut into eighths.  Melt some butter in a pan, add the sliced plums and spoon over 4 tablespoons caster sugar.  Stir until slightly softened.  Place the plums and their syrup along with a star anise and cinnamon stick into the Sabichi Rectangle Ovenproof dish.  Cook until the plums are tender. A little Port poured over the cooked plums would be good too!

More items from this fabulous cookware range
The 29cm Rectangle Ovenproof Rectangle Dish £6 and is excellent quality and value.  Please visit Sabichi to see more of the range.


The Sabichi Brasserie Range offers a co-ordinating and affordable range of cookware, cutlery, dinnerware and table runners.

Thank you Pam and Sabichi for sending me the dish to review.