27 Feb 2015

Lovepickle: Review

Lovepickle assortment of Indian pickles

We've been trying a selection of Love Pickle Chilli Tomato Pickles which are crafted in South Yorkshire. The ingredients are sourced locally wherever possible and the pickle is made from tomatoes, fresh chilli, ginger, garlic and various spices. They are available in mild, medium, hot, very hot and super hot. For fans of Indian or spicy food these will make the perfect accompaniment.

Lovepickle started out in 2013 and have won a Great Taste Award and a National Chilli Award for Best Pickle. Launched by Michael Sohel who gave up his career in the City to create his own brand of a unique chilli tomato pickle that he and his family had been enjoying for years.

Textures of different jars of Indian tomato chilli pickles
Premium pickles that deliver on taste, texture and appearance

I like spicy food with heat but I'm on level 1 of the chilli heat thermometer so hubby had to do the majority of the taste testing. I tasted mild, when I removed the lid the aroma was outstanding, I really enjoyed the zing, spiciness and textures. Hubby warmed up a naan bread and ate this with the mild, medium and hot, he said the pickles are very impressive and will make a fabulous accompaniment to the next Indian meal I make for him.  The super hot pickle is being passed onto a friend who is a huge chilli fan, can take the heat, loves artisan products and we know he will become a Love Pickle fan too.

Available in 180g jars they can be purchased online or from independents across the UK.

Disclaimer:  We were sent the products for review.

24 Feb 2015

Potato Dauphinoise - Cooked in a Steam Combination Oven

Potatoes cooling down
Fresh from the oven, golden and gloriously crisp
This recipe is a bit of a cheats version of the classic potato dauphinoise that we all know and love. It's not quite so indulgent because the usual double cream and Gruyere cheese are substituted with stock and whipping cream. Once cooked and cooled the finished dish can be cut into portions, frozen for a rainy day and reheated in the oven.

Recipes that I make on a regular basis are now being cooked in the steam combination oven and layered potato is particularly successful because it cooks through quickly and evenly without drying out.

Layered potatoes
The potatoes have all been neatly layered,
 the stock and cream poured over, seasoned
 and dotted with butter ready for the oven
layered potatoes which are nearly cooked
The potatoes are nearly ready
 and most of the liquid has been absorbed,
 they are now ready for a grating of cheese and returned to the oven
Showing layers of cooked potatoes
Sadly, one of my favourite pastimes is admiring layers of potatoes!
You will need:  an 18cm square metal tin double lined with baking paper and non-stick baking foil

750g floury potatoes
150ml chicken stock
100ml whipping cream
salt and black pepper
few pieces of butter
25g mature Cheddar cheese

Method for cooking in a conventional oven - for a steam combination oven please refer to your manufacturer's instructions for similar recipes.

1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
2. Pour the chicken stock and cream into a jug and mix together.
3. Peel the potatoes thinly on a mandolin and place into a bowl of water.  Tip into a colander rinse with cold water.  Tip the potatoes onto a tea towel and dry.
4. Layer the potatoes into the tin, alternating with the liquid and seasoning each layer until all of the potatoes are used up.
5. Place small cubes of butter on the top of the potatoes and place a piece of foil over and cover tightly. Bake for 30 minutes.
6. Remove the foil and return to the oven for 35 minutes until tender. Sprinkle over the cheese and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until golden and bubbling.
7. Cool slightly and cut into portion size servings.

Potato Boulangere

Disclaimer:  The steam combination oven is a private purchase.

16 Feb 2015

Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes

Mini bundts

These cakes can be rustled up in next to no time at all. I had a couple of lemons which needed using up and my stash of frozen redcurrants never seem to go down and I'm on a mission to use them before the redcurrant bushes produce fruit again later on in the year.

These little cakes are my usual lemon drizzle cake recipe but made up in two mini bundt tins. A lemon drizzle can be poured over the cakes when they come out of the oven, the cooled cakes can be iced or top them as you wish.  They freeze and thaw beautifully - simply refresh in the microwave.


Grease liberally and flour the tins well or use a non stick spray because these tins have a tendency to stick.

You will need:
175g baking spread
175g caster sugar
200g self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
grated rind of 2 small lemons

1. Grease and flour the mini bundt tins.
2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
3. Add all of the ingredients into a large bowl and using an electric hand whisk beat well for 2 minutes. Using an ice cream scoop, place scoops of cake batter into each bundt.
4. Divide the batter between the tins.
5. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes until golden and cooked.
6. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then carefully remove from the tins.

More recipes using a bundt tin
Individual Carrot Cakes

15 Feb 2015

Ginger and Lemongrass Chicken Stir Fry - Knorr Flavour Pots

Chicken Stir Fry

I've been invited to take part in the Knorr Flavour Pot - Product of the Year blogger challenge and have created a recipe for the Chinese New Year using their Ginger and Lemongrass pot.

Making a stir fry is a convenient way to eat lot's of vegetables and I always love the fact that once everything is prepared, cooking only takes minutes and hey presto a wonderful meal is on the plate in next to no time.

The Flavour Pots are a store cupboard favourite of mine, they are a quick and easy way to add extra flavour to your cooking.

Stir Fry Vegetables

Knorr Ginger and Lemongrass Flavour Pot
2 skinless and boneless chicken fillets
vegetable oil
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp dry sherry
Can of coconut milk
100ml chicken stock
handful of sugar snap peas
1 carrot cut into thin strips
small pack of tenderstem broccoli
broccoli cut into small florets
½ red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 white onion cut into quarters and separated
4 spring onions cut into matchsticks
Sesame seeds

1. Cut the chicken fillet into strips, tip into a bowl and coat the chicken in the Ginger and Lemongrass paste to marinade whilst you prepare the vegetables.
2. Heat a wok until hot, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil, followed by the marinaded chicken. Stir fry for 4 minutes or until cooked.  Remove from the pan.
3. Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok and heat until hot, add the carrots, broccoli, tenderstem broccoli, sweetcorn and onion.  Stir Fry for 3 minutes, add the chopped chilli and half of the spring onion matchsticks.
4. Pour the coconut milk, chicken stock, soy sauce and sherry to the pan. Heat until bubbling.
5. Return the chicken to the pan and heat through until hot.
6. Decorate the finished dish with sesame seeds, spring onion matchsticks and coriander leaves. Serve with noodles.

food hamper

Knorr sent me the full range of Flavour Pots, fresh foods, canned food, dry ingredients and even a set of three wooden spoons to create my recipe.

Their Flavour Pots have just collected first prize in the Sauce & Seasoning category for this year’s Product of the Year awards. The range  includes Mixed Herbs, Three Peppercorn, Curry, Garlic, Mixed Chillies, Garden Herbs, Ginger & Lemongrass, Paprika, and Mexican.

Disclaimer: I was sent a hamper and received a supermarket voucher for this post.

13 Feb 2015

Blood Orange Pancakes - Recipe


Pancakes aren't just for Pancake Day, although we mostly eat them on Shrove Tuesday and then always say we wish we made them throughout the year.

We always squeeze oranges over ours, which may be an East Midlands tradition, but I've given my orange an upgrade and used blood oranges because not only do they look pretty but taste amazing too.

Which do you prefer, oranges or lemons?

110g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
200ml semi-skimmed milk mixed with 75ml water
2 tbsp butter melted
Extra melted butter for greasing the pan

1. Place the flour, salt, eggs, milk and water into a bowl.  Whisk everything together with either an electric whisk or blender until everything is lump free and smooth.
2. Melt the butter in a small pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the melted butter into the batter and whisk in.
3. Now get the pan really hot, turn the heat down to medium. Brush the melted butter over the base of the pan.
4. Place a ladle of batter into the centre of the pan and then swirl the pan to distribute the batter round the base.  Cook for a minute or so and then flip over and cook the other side.
5. Fold the pancake into quarters, sprinkle granulated sugar over and a generous amount of orange juice.

11 Feb 2015

Parmesan, Rocket and Button Mushroom Risotto - Recipe

Parmesan, Rocket and Button Mushroom Risotto

I like quick and easy mid-week meals, the recipe I use for the risotto base is fairly basic and I just add whatever ingredients are in the fridge to make up a meal for us.

Stirring risotto can sometimes take a bit of patience but there are kitchen appliances which will do this for you.......

Risotto isn't something I order when I go out for a meal because often they charge far too much for a simple bowl of rice. Once when eating out I ordered risotto and I'm convinced they had used pudding rice, it was topped with wild mushrooms and melted goat's cheese.  I told hubby it was like eating a three course meal in one bowl and I've never really got over the experience!

So here's the recipe using arborio rice:

large piece of butter
200g arborio rice
small white onion chopped
wineglass of white vermouth
1 litre hot vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
good grating of Parmesan cheese
Few button mushrooms

1. Melt the butter in a large shallow pan, add the chopped onions and cook until they soften.
2. Stir in the rice and coat in the butter,  add the vermouth and let it bubble until the liquid has been absorbed into the rice.
3. Ladle full by ladle add the hot stock, whilst continuously stirring. Only add a ladle of stock when the rice has absorbed the previous ladle of stock. Keep on cooking until the rice has become plump and creamy. The whole process should take approximately 20-30 minutes. Season and stir in the grated Parmesan.
4. Gently fry the button mushrooms in butter and garlic oil.
5. Pour the risotto into bowls, decorate with rocket and the cooked button mushrooms.

7 Feb 2015

Rocky Road Cupcakes - Recipe

Rocky Road Cupcakes

The perfect accompaniment with these cupcakes is a drink of hot chocolate topped with lots of squirty cream and overloaded with marshmallows.

The topping on these cupcakes may look a bit skinny but it's early into February and we're still trying to eat less. On second thoughts, I think that may be stretching the truth.

For rocky road overload just add more pecans, marshmallows or other toppings of your choice such as chopped digestive biscuits, glace cherries, pistachios, chopped Maltezers, and more melted chocolate.  What's your perfect Rocky Road topping?

Top Tip: The cupcakes will take in moisture if they are stored in a tin overnight and they can be decorated the next day.  If the cupcake cases come away from the cakes I always remove them and decorate as above.  Foil cases are the most reliable answer to this problem but they're a bit pricier.

Makes: 12
115g softened butter
115g caster sugar
85g self raising flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 large eggs
100g plain chocolate chips

24 pecan nuts
24 mini marshmallows
200g plain chocolate

You will need:  12 hole muffin tin, 12 muffin cases

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
2. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.  Beat the eggs and add gradually, add a tablespoon of flour with the last of the egg to prevent curdling.
3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder and fold into the cake batter.
4. Fill the cupcake cases with the batter (using an ice cream scoop makes this easier).
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.
6. Leave the cakes in the tin for a few minutes and then place the cakes onto a cooling rack.
7. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water.  Spoon most of the chocolate over the cupcakes.  Top with pecans and marshmallows.  Decorate with drizzled melted chocolate.

More chocolate recipes:
Ferrero Rocher Cupcakes
Nigella's Chocolate Banana Muffins
Chocolate and Beetroot Cake