30 Oct 2014

Judge Cookware Soup Maker Recipe and Review - It's Surprising What You Can Make in a Soup Maker

Low Fat Banana Milkshake
Surprisingly, including soup, you can make eggs soft or hard boiled, milk shakes, smoothies and cafe style hot chocolate drinks.  At the end of the posting there's a video showing how I made the hot chocolate.

It's hot chocolate time
The Judge Cookware Soup Maker is a versatile kitchen appliance.  I've made some easy soups from scratch, they took 10 minutes prep and 20 minutes to cook. Now I'm making milkshakes and hot drinks in next to no time at all.

For a low fat banana milkshake:
Slice a ripe banana, place into a freezer bag, pop into the freezer until solid
200ml cold semi-skimmed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

All you have to do is place all the ingredients into the jug, press the on button and juice.  The ingredients will whizz for 3 minutes to make a smooth and frothy banana milkshake.

Sliced Frozen Banana 
Milk, Frozen Slices of  Banana and Vanilla Extract
Whizzes for 3 minutes
All the ingredients frothed for a milkshake
Nothing wrong with using squirty cream!
How to make a delicious hot chocolate drink...........

It takes about 10 minutes to produce a lovely frothy hot chocolate.

My review of the soup maker can be seen in a previous post.

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

24 Oct 2014

Judge Cookware Soup Maker - Review and Recipe

I've been sent this amazing soup maker by Judge Cookware to review. It's a great multi-tasker, will make either smooth or chunky soup, reheat, cook boiled eggs, make hot milky drinks, and cold drinks including smoothies and milkshakes.

If you invest in kitchen gadgets they need to work for you and not the other way round - having used this product quite a few times, I can definitely say it's a gadget worth investing in, it's really easy to use and you don't have to precook any ingredients before adding them to the jug.

My usual soup making method is to cook everything in a saucepan and then use a stick blender to make a smooth puree.  Using the soup maker, from adding the ingredients to producing a smooth soup takes only 20 minutes - amazing.

I make lot's of soup in the colder months and freeze some too for a rainy day.  Soup is a great way to eat those veggies and there is nothing quite like a warm comforting bowl of soup with a chunk of home made bread.

I'll talk you through, with photographs, showing how to make a very easy low fat cauliflower cheese soup.....

        Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Parmesan Wafers

Add the cauliflower florets, chopped leeks and onion to the jug
Pour in water to the Soup Maximum level to cover the vegetables,
 add vegetable stock powder and freshly ground black pepper
The lid locks securely in place onto the jug

Press On and then 'Soup Smooth'

The vegetables are chopped, cooked and blended at the same time
Part way through the cooking and blending process
Cooking is now complete

I've now poured in enough semi-skimmed milk to come half way between the Soup Maximum and Maximum levels - I've also added a good handful of grated cheese to the jug
Pulse a few times to mix in the added ingredients
Low Fat Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Half a small cauliflower, broken into florets
1 white onion chopped
1 leek chopped (use mainly the white part)
3 tsp bouillon vegetable powder
Few grinds of black pepper
200ml semi skimmed milk
75g low fat mature cheddar cheese, grated

1. Add the cauliflower, onion and leek to the jug.  Cover the vegetables with water to come up to the Soup Maximum level.  Sprinkle over the bouillon vegetable powder.
2. Place the lid on to the jug, as per the Instruction Manual, now place onto the base.  Press the On button, select Soup Smooth.
3. At the end of the cooking time, carefully remove the 'Fill Cap' and pour in the milk and add the cheddar cheese.  Pulse a few times to mix.
4. If the soup seems a little thin, sprinkle over a teaspoon of Thickening Granules(available from most supermarkets) and pulse again to thicken.

Now on to a three ingredient vegetable soup........

To challenge the soup maker I added some chunks of carrot, celery and red onion to the jug.

Cover the vegetables with water and a few teaspoons of vegetable stock powder 
The soup maker made light work of those chunky vegetables
   and after 20 minutes I had a lovely cup of warming soup..........

Boiled Eggs - the Instruction Manual recommends a cooking time of 6 minutes for soft and 10 minutes for hard boiled.  Hubby carried out the boiled egg test and our medium eggs took 6 minutes for soft, but if they are larger then it may take up to 8 minutes. Our medium size eggs for hard boiled took 10 minutes but here again if they are larger they may take up to12 minutes to cook.  Steamed eggs take longer to cook than if you are boiling them using the conventional pan method.  The great thing about steaming eggs is that he didn't experience any cracked shells as they were cooking.

A few details about the soup maker:
  •   Programmes: 
  •   Reheat - 10 minutes
  •   Juice(for making milkshakes and smoothies) - 3 minutes
  •   Steam/Boiling - 15 minutes
  •   Soup Smooth - 20 minutes
  •   Soup Chunky - 30 minutes
Supplied with: Instruction Manual, Recipes, egg basket and a double ended brush.
Capacity: 1.5 litres
Power: Motor 300w - Heater 800w
To clean: Pour some warm water and a drop of washing up liquid into the jug and pulse a few times. A double ended brush is supplied to clean the base and around the blades.

Disclaimer:  Thank you to Judge Cookware for sending me the Soup Maker to review, all thoughts are my own.

23 Oct 2014

Eddingtons Loaf Pans - Review

I really enjoy baking and it's always great to have a variety of cake moulds to use, these loaf pans are practical and look great too.

The cake moulds are a wonderful way to present cakes for the bake sale table, or if you have 'Cake Friday' at work and struggle to get your cake to work in one piece, these sturdy loaf pans will definitely help. Afterall, who wants to spend time in the kitchen baking and then find transporting a cake is asking the impossible.

                   I found a two egg Victoria sponge batter made either two small or one large cake.

                                         Non-stick and come in a 5 piece set
                                         Safe to use to a temperature of 220ºC
                                         Small size loaf pan measures 13.3x6.5x4.6cm
                                         Large size loaf pan measures 22.5x7x5.5cm
                                         Available in a variety of colours
                                         The stockist is Amazon.co.uk - £4.99 for the small
                                         and £5.99 for the large

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

21 Oct 2014

The Technical Challenge: Ciabatta by Paul Hollywood - Recipe

Why didn't I try this easy recipe before?  My inspiration came from seeing Paul Hollywood on TV demonstrating this technical challenge from The Great British Bake Off.  He made it look easy enough, but with his skills, he makes everything look easy.

This is one occasion when you need a mixer with a dough hook, the mixture is so sticky I'd lose patience if I tried to make it by hand. If you don't have a mixer with a dough hook, but haven't used your bread machine for ages, let the dough setting do all the hard work for you.

I'm not in possession of a square plastic container to rise the dough, mine is deep and oblong, it was still okay and sometimes you just have to compromise.  After all, Paul Hollywood isn't about to knock on my front door any time soon to make sure I use a square container.

The dough is really easy to work with and I was more than a bit chuffed with my baked loaves of ciabatta, they don't have to look bakery perfect, but hubby thought I'd bought them!

Fresh from the oven
The bread doesn't take long to make, the kitchen is filled with the heady aroma of bread, it freezes well, can be warmed briefly in the microwave (don't tell Paul), and you can find the recipe on the BBC Food website.

I hope you too will have a go at this challenge!

Back soon with some fab product reviews........including making soup to go with my bread.....

17 Oct 2014

Review: Chocoholics Step Forward - It's The Chocolate Show, London 2014

Deremiens.............With shocking bright pink packaging and some crazy flavours including tobacco and even ketchup, look out for more from this Belgium company. Online gifts available too.

When we eat a little too much chocolate at The Chocolate Show.......

Hooray - it's Chocolate Week and most importantly time for the return of The Chocolate Show which is taking place in London until Sunday 19th October.

We went on gala night (Thursday, 16 October) and had a sighting of Mr Willy Wonka on stage, as well as a fashion show made purely out of chocolate.

We managed to get round to 10-15 chocolatiers and gained an insight into what makes them unique.

Here are a few of the stand highlights:

Paul A Young

He always displays beautiful fresh truffles and his chocolates are temptingly delicious.

The Chocolate Society

A small boutique chocolatier from Somerset. We loved these fab honeycomb bites dipped in gorgeous French chocolate. One to watch!

Choco Passion UK

Makers of chocolate designs of different objects such as cameras, keys and even tools. Key to your heart anyone? This stand looks and smells sensational.

We adored all of the stands and had a truly amazing time, the above is just a brief whirlwind tour of the show, we wish we could have featured each and everyone of you.

Disclaimer:  We were guests of The Chocolate Show, all thoughts are our own.

15 Oct 2014

Ferrero Rocher Christmas Range and Sensory Tasting Event - October 2014

The Christmas Range
We get down to serious business - tasting chocolate!

We had a rather glamorous invitation recently to attend a Ferrero Rocher chocolate tasting at London's Soho Hotel and to learn the secrets behind what makes them so very, very delicious.......

Sadly, the ambassador was nowhere to be seen, but we were treated to an elaborate tasting session and a preview of the beautifully presented Christmas range which includes pretty gold hanging stars for the Christmas tree - they all taste just as amazing as they look.

It was very exciting to learn that Mr Ferrero actually exists! It was also quite thrilling to hear that he personally tastes the products every day to make sure we keep loving his chocolates.

A senior tester from the company, Stefania Agnello had flown out specially from Italy to give us insight into the core elements that make up a Ferrero Rocher. We tasted each element and chatted through it to understand the process: the crisp wafer, the sweet roasted hazelnuts and, of course, the chocolate!

Tasting Tray

Professor Barry Smith, a specialist researcher, who has years of research into how the mind and body perceive taste, then took us through an experiment. Quite simply, place a nose peg on the end of your nose and pop a piece of chocolate into your mouth. Start biting into the chocolate, remove the peg and note the difference in taste. Can you guess what we found? The taste of the chocolate came alive when the nose peg came off because you were then using all of your senses. The tongue can only taste things like sweet or salty elements but the nose brings out the more elaborate flavours with all their nuances even things like fruit!

Have a go at home with the family and it will change the way you perceive taste. I'd also urge you to look up Professor Barry Smith's work, it's fascinating, and will give you an insight into how people in his profession work with food manufacturers to make us think in a certain way when we experience their products.

Revealed: 5 top tips for enjoying chocolate using all of your senses

1. Always hold the chocolate in your fingers before eating it. The feeling of the texture such as the knobbly bits, helps the brain predict and enhance the sensations you experience on the tongue.
2. Before placing the chocolate into your mouth, take a moment to breathe in the aroma. The marriage of the flavour and the aroma creates an additional pleasure in the emotional reward centres of the brain.
3. When the chocolate is in your mouth, eat slowly to bring out the nuances of flavour.
4. Shape and texture are everything. Think about the way the chocolate melts in your mouth - the 'melt rate' is a huge factor as to why we enjoy chocolate so much.
5. Enjoy!!

A special thank you to Ferrero Rocher for hosting a real treat. The Christmas range is in the shops now.

12 Oct 2014

The Perfect Raspberry and Almond Cake - Recipe

Why triple almond? Ground almonds, almond extract and flaked almonds
Hooray! My raspberries didn't sink - joy of joys.  This cake has been very kind to me, it was moist, has a tender crumb, is full of lovely flavours and I used the last of the autumn raspberries.

It's an all in one cake mix, which means less time spent in the kitchen if you have limited time on your hands, and it's a wonderful cake-cum-dessert. For dessert pop a slice into the microwave on a low setting to heat through.

The cake is also delicious dusted with icing sugar and served with either a dollop of cream or creme fraiche.

We liked the cake with a dusting of icing sugar
115g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 large eggs beaten
115g softened butter
115g caster sugar
1tsp almond extract
40g ground almonds
175g fresh raspberries
2 tbsp flaked almonds

You will need:  20cm base lined round cake tin, greased with butter and floured.

1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC Fan.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, add the beaten eggs, almond extract, butter and sugar.  Beat together with an electric whisk for 2 minutes.  Fold in the ground almonds.
3. Dollop the cake batter into the tin.  Level the mixture, scatter over the raspberries and flaked almonds.

All it needs now is a scattering of flaked almonds 
4. Bake for 45 minutes until golden.  Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes.  Remove the cake from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
5. The cake can be cut into slices and frozen.

3 Oct 2014

Easy Strawberry Jam - Kenwood Cooking Chef Recipe

There is something special about homemade strawberry jam which makes it all seem so worthwhile, and you definitely can't beat your own jam slathered on a scone. I used to buy Strawberry Preserve with Champagne at the Good Food Show in Birmingham, but unfortunately they don't exhibit there anymore. Their jam is on another level to mine and I only wish my jam had champagne added to it. 

Strawberries with the sugar and lemon added.
Photographs of my jam being made in the Kenwood Cooking Chef.

Just a few minutes to dissolve the sugar
I made my jam the easy way with my kitchen toy, I find the hardest part of jam making is ensuring the sugar is completely dissolved - the machine does this quickly and efficiently.

Finished jam!
You may think I top my jam with cute cloth hats and put fancy labels on them, how wrong you would be.  It's wash, sterilise, pour jam into jars, top with waxed disc, cellophane held in place with an elastic band and a reused jam jar lid!  I know the jars look fabulous when they are dressed up, and I have seen some lovely photographs on blogs, but somehow I never seem to get past putting a lid on my jars.

The recipe came from Delicious Magazine and here is a link to a previous posting when I made the jam by hand.

Individual Lemon and Blueberry Steamed Pudding Recipe - Steam Combination Oven

Serve the pudding with golden syrup and double cream
Using a steam combination oven is really easy once you get into the swing of things.  When I first bought it my thoughts were that it would be a bit needy and I'd spend ages cleaning it out.  The good news is that once I got used to it this part isn't too much of a chore.

I love steamed puddings, preferably not the ones that weigh you down for a week, and the steam oven will make enough in one go to feed an army, not that I'll be doing that any time soon.

Non-stick Bacofoil is my best friend when I make steamed puddings, all you have to do is cut the foil into squares, pleat and cover the batter with the foil non shiny side down.

Fresh from the steamer

You will need: 8 x 175ml pudding basins

175g self-raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
150g fresh blueberries

1. Grease the basins well and place a disc of silicone baking paper in the base of each basin.
2. Add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand held whisk for two minutes until the batter is smooth.  Place the blueberries in a bowl and sprinkle over some extra flour to coat the fruit, stir gently into the cake batter.
3. Using an ice cream scoop place scoops of cake batter into the basins. Cover each basin with a piece of non-stick Bacofoil which has been pleated.
4. Place the puddings into the steamer following the manufacturers instructions. I cooked mine for 1hr 15minutes.
5. Remove the puddings from the steamer, remove the foil lids and turn out.
6. Any puddings now used can be turned out onto clingwrap, cool and then freeze. They can easily be reheated in a microwave.

Disclaimer:  My steam combination oven is a private purchase.