31 Jul 2014

Strawberry Cake - Recipe

                                              Fantasy Cake - a recipe by Lisa Faulkner

I've been away from home this week and have indulged in some fabulous food, especially my treat of the week, which was an evening meal at Le Caprice. As regular readers know I love coffee, and I've had more than a few expertly made cups this week but the best was definitely at Le Caprice.

I made this cake a couple of weeks ago and have to say my strawberries have been amazing this year, I can't believe how many strawberries you can get off two rows. I've made a few strawberry cakes this year from them and these are now my favourite summer cakes, they're fabulous, especially if you serve them with cream.

I came across this recipe whilst browsing through some cookery books in the library, a quick search on the web and everyone agreed this cake is one of the best strawberry cakes ever.

The recipe can be found on the Waitrose website and they have a video on You Tube showing the cake being made -  I'd recommend using the method shown on the video and not the one on the website. My only comment regarding the recipe is the amount of strawberries used which is 400g, I used less and it was absolutely fine.

The cake keeps really well covered in cling wrap and stored in the fridge.

Make it before all the fresh strawberries disappear!

                                                       VIMTO SQUEEZY - REVIEW

I was delighted to be sent Vimto Original, Cherry and Strawberry to try, the weather has been hot and the timing was perfect.

The Vimto Squeezy is lighter than a cordial in taste, I'm not always very keen on cordials, some taste like boiled sweets - perhaps it's just me who thinks this, but these are excellent and definitely don't taste like boiled sweets!

These mini bottles are easily transportable to flavour bottles of water whilst you are out and about. Handily they will also fit into my handbag and take up no space at all.

The squeezy bottles come in a small 50ml bottle and are sugar free.  To flavour a 500ml bottle of water simply squirt in one teaspoon of Vimto.  There are approximately 25 servings in a bottle and at a RRP of just £2.49 they are very good value.  Available from Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Co-op Stores.

Disclaimer:  I was sent the products for review, all thoughts are my own.

21 Jul 2014

Mini Raspberry Cream Brownies - Recipe

These petits fours are 'high faff' and take a bit of patience to make but they are well worth it. They're quite rich and I could only manage to eat one, which is no bad thing, because I really wouldn't want to know how calorific they are.

I've got a few raspberry canes at the bottom of the garden, there's nothing quite like home grown raspberries, they are in a league of their own.

My hob is induction and melting chocolate is a dream, it's possible to place the chocolate in a pan and melt it gently on the hob, it's so much easier than melting chocolate over a pan of water and I find the chocolate never overheats.

The cream is made from raspberry puree, cream and melted white chocolate, I added a little red food colouring to brighten up the raspberry cream to give it a pretty pink colour.

When I piped these I didn't let the raspberry cream chill down for long enough
I'm off for a week to eat at a few posh restaurants and some not so posh, drink coffee at some trendy coffee shops and some not so trendy.......but meanwhile I'll leave you with the recipe for these fabulous brownies.....

You will need:  22cm square baking tin, greased  and lined with baking parchment so the paper extends over all four sides.  4cm cutter.

80g salted butter
150g dark chocolate
115g caster sugar
2 small eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
60g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder

Raspberry Cream
250g raspberries
1 tbsp icing sugar
60ml cream
125g white chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 160ÂșC.
2. Place the chocolate and butter into a bowl and place over a saucepan with gently simmering water. Stir until the butter and chocolate have melted. Remove the bowl and allow to cool.
3.Place the sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl and mix until pale and creamy.
4. Fold in the cooled chocolate.  Sift over the flour and cocoa powder.
5. Pour into the baking tin and cook for 15-20 minutes. Cool in the tin. Place in the fridge for an hour.
6. Raspberry Cream.  Place 125g raspberries with the icing sugar into a food processor and blend until smooth.  Strain through a fine sieve. Add the raspberry puree to a small saucepan along with the cream and bring to the boil.  Add the pieces of white chocolate to the pan, remove from the heat and spoon the raspberry cream over the chocolate pieces.  Leave it for approximately 5 minutes and then whisk to a smooth glossy sauce.  Pour into a bowl and place in the fridge until chilled and set.
7. Take the cake out of the fridge, remove the cake from the tin.  Place on a board and cut out rounds using the cutter.
8. Place the chilled raspberry cream into a piping bag fitted with a 1M Wilton nozzle and pipe onto the brownie rounds, top with a fresh raspberry.

I'm submitting this post to the recipe linky #cookblogshare over at Supergolden Bakes.......

20 Jul 2014

Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble - Recipe

One of my favourite fillings for crumble is strawberries and rhubarb - both the strawberries and rhubarb were picked from my garden and so it was more or less a free pudding.

The downside of this filling is that it looks more than a bit of a mess when it's served up and I think the filling is best suited to individual crumbles.  On a positive the filling is a glorious bright pink and tastes like heaven.  I like to let the crumble cool down for a while before I serve it with a dollop of ice cream.

I prefer to roast my rhubarb
The rhubarb is placed in the dish with the strawberries
A top tip is to combine the butter, flour and sugar with a fork -
 this method keeps hands and rings clean
The crumble rubble

For the filling:
6 sticks of rhubarb
4 tbsp water
8 tbsp caster sugar
250g strawberries

For the crumble:
110g butter
110g demerara sugar
200g flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan.
2. Cut the rhubarb into sticks and place on an oven tray, sprinkle with the water and caster sugar and roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and place the rhubarb without the juice into a greased ovenproof dish.  Add the strawberries to the dish.
4. To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour and sugar. Cover the rhubarb and strawberries with the crumble mix and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the crumble is golden and the filling is bubbling over the crumble.

De'Longhi Multifry Extra and Recipe App Review

My De'Longhi #MultrifryChallenge was to make all my main or lunchtime meals using the product for one week.  I love new kitchen gadgets and couldn't wait to get started using the product and taking step by step photographs of how I went about the challenge.

The De'Longhi Multifry is an air fryer and multicooker and works with a surround heat system, the lid houses an element and fan, there is also an element in the base.  The options for cooking are either top heat only or bottom heat and top heat.

There is a removable cooking bowl and a paddle can be fitted for recipes which need constant stirring such as risotto or sauces. A thermostat dial is on the middle of the lid, it is adjustable from 1 to 4. There is also a digital timer which is removable for washing.  The lid is see through, which is great for peeking to see how the cooking is progressing, the bowl and paddle are removable for either hand washing or simply let the dishwasher do the work.  An oil measure is supplied and I often found that I could use less than recommended.

It takes only a few minutes to set up the appliance and because it is user friendly I very quickly learnt how I wanted to use it for various recipes. It is capable of cooking everything from starters to mains to dessert.

I used the product for a variety of cooking methods - frying chips, chicken and fish, and they all cooked well.  Mushrooms, onions, carrots and celery all sauteed without any problems. Sauces all cooked well too.

Frying in the bowl is particularly successful and it is surprising that in only 15 minutes or so we had a plate of chips.  If you, like me, don't own a deep fat fryer but long for the occasional chip butty (well who doesn't now and again), this machine is ideal. Everything I fried turned out really well, my chicken fillets cooked quickly and they were succulent too.

Fish cooks beautifully, it cooks from the bottom as well as the top and saves turning over delicate pieces of fish that would otherwise break up.

I had a couple of issues cooking risotto and a ragu sauce, this was mainly due to the thermostat being set at level 4, which is the highest setting, a lower setting would have produced a better result.

Uses a minimum of oil
Cooks quickly
The product is extremely well made
See through lid
Removable parts are easy to clean either by hand or in the dishwasher
User friendly
Those who have a limited cooking facility would find the product useful

The fan is noisy
The appliance has a large footprint


Recipe App
The dedicated recipe app for the De'Longhi Multifry/Multicooker is free and can be used on smartphones and tablets.

There are recipes for Starter/Finger Food, Main Dishes, Side Dishes, Sauces and Desserts. Sub categories are potatoes, quiche/pizza, cake, poultry, meat, fish, rice, pasta, vegetables, cheese, eggs and fruit.  Or, Frozen, Fast, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, Eggless and No Dairy.

The recipes give calories, ingredients, how many servings, preparation and cooking time, they can also be favourited and the app is very easy to navigate.

Surprisingly pizza can be cooked in the Multifry, I used the recipe on the app (which I slightly adapted), it cooked through but the pizza base was pale and not the usual golden colour.


Some of the recipes on the app aren't what I would choose to cook, but when I buy a cookery book the same applies, the app is very useful for guidance when I cook my own recipes.

Disclaimer:  I was sent the product for review, all opinions are my own. Thank you De'Longhi.

8 Jul 2014

De'Longhi Blogger's #MultifryChallenge - Spinach and Mushroom Risotto and Chicken Parmigiana Recipes

Spinach and Mushroom Risotto
My challenge is to cook my main meals for seven days using the De'Longhi Multifry Extra. It's now days 5 and 6 of the De'Longhi Blogger's #MultifryChallenge...........so let's see how I got on.......

The product is user friendly, and all of the my recipes are very easy to make. There is a recipe app which is a guiding hand and very useful for recipe inspiration.
Risotto is a favourite in my house and the Multifry/MultiCook will cook and stir the risotto, which means it is basically a hands free recipe and the machine will do most of the work.

I've made risotto a couple of times now, the first time the risotto cooked too quickly and my second attempt was far better. I turned the thermostat dial down from 4 to 3 and it then cooked too slowly. Next time I'll opt for an in between setting which should give a good result. The cooked rice was slightly firm, which is the result I was looking for. Hubby really enjoyed his risotto and gave an honest appraisal.  He is now waiting for me to cook risotto again but at the moment I'm on risotto overload - I'm afraid he'll just have to wait.....

I started off by using the multicook facility to cook my mushrooms, these are cooked by using the bottom and top heat without the paddle, mushrooms cook perfectly and I could eat these on their own.  We had some mushrooms left over, I only used a few for the risotto, and cooked them with a little garlic and we had garlic mushrooms on toast one lunch time - fabulous.

The risotto isn't made in the conventional way, all instructions are set out in the method below. Keep a weather eye on the pan to make sure there is enough stock in the bowl.

Recipe for two servings:
160g risotto rice
1400ml hot vegetable stock - you may not need all of this
50ml Dry Vermouth
Ground Pepper
A few mushrooms
Small bag of spinach, washed
Parmesan Cheese Grated
Olive Oil level 3

1. Add half the oil to the pan.  Add the mushrooms and pour the remainder of the oil over the mushrooms, grind over some fresh black pepper. Close the lid, set the thermostat dial to 3, press bottom heat button, press the on/off button. Cook the mushrooms for 3 minutes, turn the mushrooms over and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and cover with foil to keep warm.
2. Place the paddle in the bowl. Add the risotto rice, half the vegetable stock and the Vermouth. Set the thermostat dial to 3, press the bottom heat button, press the on/off button.  Cook for 20 minutes.

The paddle stirring the rice 
3. Add half the remaining stock to the pan and cook for another 15 minutes.  Stir the rice/stock and cook for approximately 10 minutes, checking the stock and to make sure the rice is cooked but firm.
4. Add the spinach to the pan, stir and cook for 5 minutes.

5. Return the mushrooms to the pan, add the grated Parmesan cheese, cook for 5 minutes.

Finished risotto ready to serve
Washing up?  That's easy, simply allow the removable bowl and paddle to cool down, place into a bowl of hot soapy water and soak for a couple of minutes.  Once the machine has cooled down, remove the lid and place into hot soapy water to clean with a cloth.


The finished dish waiting to be served
Chicken Parmigiana is really tasty and I mostly serve mine with some tagliatelle - delicious.

I love fried chicken, but only if it's made in the minimum of oil, and the chicken was cooked to perfection, it was moist with a good texture.

2 skinless chicken breasts
50g breadcrumbs
10g grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
pinch dried Italian Mixed Dried Herbs
125g ball of Mozzarella
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp Italian Mixed Dried Herbs
1 tsp granulated sugar
Olive oil level 5

1. Place the chicken breasts between cling wrap and flatten slightly with a meat hammer. On a plate mix the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan cheese, herbs and seasoning. Beat the egg and place on another plate.
2. Dip the chicken into the egg and then the breadcrumb mixture. Place onto a cling wrap lined tray and place in the fridge for half an hour.
3. Add the olive oil to the pan, add the chicken fillets.

4. Set the thermostat dial to 4, press bottom heat, press the on/off button.  Cook for 6 minutes, turn over and cook for another 6 minutes.  Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and cover with foil.

5. Add the tomatoes, sugar, seasoning and Italian mixed herbs to the pan.  Press the on/off button and cook for 10 minutes.
6. Return the chicken to the pan.  Top with slices of mozzarella and cook again for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
7. Serve topped with basil leaves.

Come back soon for more recipes.

Days 1 and 2 - Guilt Free Chips, Prawn Thai Curry
Days 3 and 4 - Chicken Wrapped in Smoked Bacon with Sage, Fish Curry

Disclaimer:  I have been provided with the De'Longhi Multifry for the challenge, all thoughts are my own.

5 Jul 2014

De'Longhi Multifry Blogger's #MultifryChallenge - Easy Recipes

De'Longhi Multifry
My Multifry challenge is to cook a meal every day for seven days, this can either be lunch or dinner. The appliance is user friendly and it is very easy to make quick and healthy food using either no oil or very little oil. Washing up?  No problem, that's quick and easy too.

I'm now on days 3 and 4 of the challenge and ready to make a recipe using the appliance as a cooker without the paddle/stirrer.

One of my favourite turn to recipes is chicken wrapped in smoked back bacon with red pepper, onions and cherry tomatoes, easy to make but very tasty.

I looked at the recipe app for inspiration and guidance and then set about cooking dinner........

I placed a few sage leaves on the chicken before wrapping in bacon
2 Chicken fillets
2 Slices Smoked Back Bacon
Fresh sage leaves
1 Red onion cut into rings
1 Red pepper cut into rings, seeds removed
Cherry Tomatoes
Olive Oil level 3

1. Flatten the chicken between cling wrap.  Place sage leaves on top of the chicken, season with pepper. Wrap each chicken fillet in a slice of smoked back bacon.
2. Cut the red onion and red pepper into rings.
3. Add the oil to the pan.
4. Set the temperature dial to 4, press the bottom heat button, press the on/off button.
5. Place the chicken, onions and red pepper in the pan cook for 20 minutes.

6. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

The Multifry cooks from both the top and bottom and I didn't have to turn the chicken over to cook it through, it was moist and delicious, the bacon had some lovely crispy pieces and crispy sage is always a 'cooks treat'. The onions and cherry tomatoes were cooked to perfection and the red pepper was a surprise - sweet and tender declared hubby. He really enjoyed the meal which is praise indeed and he gave this meal 10/10 - thanks hubs!

FISH ON FRIDAY                                                  

We try to have fish once or twice a week and Fish Curry is always fabulous. This recipe can be made in one pan, saves on washing up, can be made in less time than it takes to fetch the Friday night take out and saves money too.

The curry is served with basmati rice and naan
2 Pieces of Haddock Loin
2 tbsp seasoned flour
1 white onion chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3 tbs curry paste
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
200ml coconut milk
1 tbsp mango chutney
3 tbsp cream
2 tbsp chopped coriander
olive oil to level 3

1. Coat the fish in the seasoned flour.
2. Add the oil to the pan, then place the fish in the pan.
3. Set the temperature dial to 4, press bottom heat, press the on/off button.  Cook 4 minutes each side.
4. Remove the fish from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm.
5. Place the chopped onion in the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
6. Add the chopped tomatoes, curry paste, grated ginger, coconut milk and mango chutney to the pan and stir.  Cook for 10 minutes.
7. Add the chopped coriander and cream.  Stir.
8. Return the fish to the pan and place on top of the sauce. Cook for 5 minutes.

Day 1 - Guilt Free Chips, Day 2 - Prawn Thai Curry

Back soon with Days 5 and 6 of the challenge

Disclaimer:  I have been provided with a De'Longhi Multifry Extra for the challenge, all thoughts are my own.

3 Jul 2014

De'Longhi Multifry Blogger's #MultifryChallenge and Two Quick and Easy Recipes

Just arrived and waiting patiently to be used
I've been asked to take part in the De'Longhi Multifry Blogger Challenge and for this I have to make my main meal or lunch for one week entirely in the cooker.

So what is the The De'Longhi Multifry/Multi Cooker?  With very little oil the product can fry from chicken to chips to fish, or cook rice dishes to cake. It works with a surround heating system (exclusive to De'Longhi) - tucked away in the lid is a heating element and fan to ensure uniform heat and there is a heating element in the bottom.  A paddle stirs the food automatically.

There is a recipe app to accompany the product, and at the end of the challenge I'll review both the app and the Multifry Extra.

I'm using the product every day and decided for the challenge I wanted to 'keep it real' which means using it for meals we eat regularly at home.

It's quick to get started and basically all you have to do is learn about the bottom heat source, the thermostat dial (1-4), cooking with or without the paddle and the digital timer.  I followed the recipe app for guidance regarding how best to cook my recipes and then I was ready to go.

                Inner bowl with paddle                         Bowl with fixed handle                         Oil measure and paddle                                                                                                     
I wanted to familiarise myself with the fryer facility and one of the first things I made was chips. I haven't owned a deep fat fryer for many years and all my chips have previously been cooked in the oven - you can't beat a chip butty at home and supermarket bread will do just nicely.

Simply delicious
I used a baking potato which I cut into thin chips using my vegetable slicer (I'm a bit useless with knives). These were prepared in the usual way by rinsing off the starch and drying thoroughly. To cook chips the paddle needs to be placed into the pan. Add oil to level 3 in the measure and pour into the base of the pan. Next place the chips in the pan.  Set the the thermostat dial to 4, press bottom heat and then press the on/off button.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the base of the cooker and tip out the chips.  Eat and enjoy!

The see through lid is a very useful feature
Thick cut guilt free chips
The fryer will cook much more than chips.......

I have fried both fresh fish and chicken successfully but more about these in a later blog post. Frozen products including fish fingers, pizza as well as frozen chips for those days when we are all in a hurry.

Cleaning is easy, the see through lid comes off by pressing two release buttons and the bottom bowl with handle and paddle are quickly removed - I allowed these to cool down first and cleaned them in the washing up bowl with a cloth.

Using the cook facility I made an easy but delicious Prawn Thai Curry, there are quite a few ingredients in the recipe, but they were either in my fridge, freezer or store cupboard.

The linguine was cooked in the usual way in a saucepan on the hob
Oil level 1
Half a white onion chopped
200g defrosted prawns
1 (14-oz) can coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai green curry paste
100ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon coriander chopped
small piece of finely chopped red chilli - seeds removed

1. Add the paddle to the pan.  Pour the oil into the bottom of the bowl, add the chopped onion. Close the lid and set the thermostat dial to level 4, press the bottom heating element button and press the on/off button. Cook for 4 minutes.

Frying off the onions
2. Add the coconut milk, Thai curry paste, chicken stock, brown sugar, fish sauce and lime juice to the bowl and cook for 10 minutes.

The majority of the ingredients are now cooking through
3. Add the prawns to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.

The prawns are now being stirred with the paddle
4. Add the chopped coriander and pour the sauce over the cooked and drained linguine.  Garnish with chopped red chilli.


Note: The coconut milk didn't burn or stick to the pan, removing the ingredients with a silicone spoon seems to be the best way to go, metal will scratch the surface of the pan.  I placed the used and cooled pan in washing up water to soak and it cleans up easily.

Please come back to see my posts with more delicious recipes.

Disclaimer:  I was supplied with the De'Longhi Multifry for the challenge, all thoughts are my own.

1 Jul 2014

Foodie Treats - June/July 2014

This (last) month I've kindly been sent a few samples of Nielsen-Massey finest extracts and flavourings to use in my baking.

Open my baking cupboard in the kitchen and you can always find a bottle of Neilsen-Massey vanilla, and also their almond extract, I would be lost without them. Lemon Extract is useful for adding to cakes and icings and often gets me out of a few scrapes when I find I'm short of lemons. Orange Blossom Water added to chocolate cake is one of my favourites.  These products are baker's delights.

                                                               Coco Cafe

Coconut water is a popular drink with many health benefits and one of these is to hydrate. The drink is made from pure coconut water, a shot of espresso for a hit of caffeine and low fat milk - what's not to like.

Thirsty on a hot summers day but longing for a coffee/mocha coffee.........Coco Cafe is the perfect drink to be enjoyed fridge cold.

Disclaimer:  I was sent the above products but wasn't asked to write a positive review - thank you for the review samples.