Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hidden Raspberry Cupcakes Recipe

Hidden Raspberry Cupcakes

I bought the raspberries on the spur of the moment, it was a grey day and they looked bright and beautiful, I did wonder if it might be an expensive purchase I'd later regret. My head said don't buy them, my heart said I really want those raspberries. Well was I in for a nice surprise the raspberries from the supermarket smell and taste delicious.

The chocolate cupcakes with a hidden raspberry and topped with chocolate fudge frosting are a real indulgent happy sweet treat and my favourite way to eat them is to cut the cupcakes in half to show off the raspberry within.

Hidden Raspberry Cupcake showing the raspberry

Top Tip:  To prevent greasy cupcake cases try sifting a little flour into each section of the muffin tray prior to placing the cupcake cases into the tin.  After the cupcakes have cooled simple dust away the excess flour.

Makes: 12
You will need:  12 section muffin tin and paper cases
Recipe:
150g softened butter
150g caster sugar
160g self raising flour
15g cocoa powder, sifted
Raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC.
2. Add all of the ingredients, except for the raspberries, to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until smooth.
3. Divide the batter between the cake cases and place a raspberry on top, press slightly into the batter.

Chocolate cupcake batter with a raspberry
Experimenting with different size cupcake cases, the largest cupcakes were too large for the amount of cake batter
4. Bake for 25 minutes until cooked. Place the tray onto a cooling rack for 5 minutes and then remove the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate Fudge Icing
You will need:
100g plain chocolate
2 tbsp milk
50g unsalted butter, cubed
75g icing sugar, sifted
Raspberry Flavouring

1.Place the chocolate, milk and butter into a small pan and heat very gently, stir until the chocolate and butter have melted.
2. Remove the pan from the heat, add the icing sugar and a few drops of raspberry flavouring. Keep on stirring until the mixture is thick and smooth. If too thick add a little more milk to thin slightly. Should the mixture separate, add a little cold milk which should bring the mixture back to an icing consistency.
3. Spread the icing over the top of the cakes.

More Raspberry Recipes:
Triple Almond and Raspberry Cake
Fresh Raspberry and Almond Traybake
Peach and Raspberry Slice

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

GEFU TwinCo Barbecue Skewer Set by HAUS Review

Chicken Tikka and Vegetable Skewers

I love barbecue skewers especially mixed veg or chicken tikka but unless you have the correct tools, food on skewers just won't cook evenly and every time you turn them they seem to have a life of their own.

We made our first barbecue a week ago and whilst nothing adventurous was on the menu it was great to cook and serve mixed vegetables and chicken skewers which always look and taste amazing.

Vegetable Skewers
Mixed Vegetable Skewers
The double pronged skewers I've been sent to review are excellent quality and made from 18/10 stainless steel, they are 32cm long, angular and double pronged. There is an integrated slider at the top which can be used to remove the cooked food quickly and easily.

GEFU Barbecue Skewers

Easy Chicken Tikka Skewers
75g natural low fat yogurt
2 tbsp tikka paste
2 skinless chicken fillets

1. Add the yogurt and tikka paste to a medium size bowl and mix together.
2. Cut the chicken into large dice and add to the yogurt and tikka paste mix.
3. Leave to marinate for an hour.
4. Thread onto the skewers.
5. Place onto the barbecue for 20 minutes turning over after 10 minutes, checking carefully that the meat is cooked all the way through.

  • GEFU is a German manufacturer of the highest quality kitchen tools and gadgets.
  • RRP £13.95
  • Available from www.inthehaus.co.uk or quality independent retailers.

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Italian Style Bread Recipe

Italian Style Bread Straight From The Oven

I've never had anything other than success making dough in the breadmaker and find most recipes work out absolutely fine, I just keep an eye out to see if the dough needs more water adding.

If you've not used your breadmaker for a while, I guarantee this is a recipe you will make time and again. It's a delicious soft bread for sandwiches, has a good crust, can be toasted on the griddle pan, eaten with butter or spread, keeps well, can be frozen and defrosts perfectly - what's not to like.

Italian Style Bread

Recipe:
1 tsp Easy Bake yeast
500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
350ml water

You will need:  A large baking tray lined with baking paper and floured

1. Place the ingredients into the bread pan in the order as outlined in your manufacturers instructions.
2. Set the dough setting.
3. When the machine has finished making the dough, tip the pan to one side and carefully remove the dough directly onto the floured baking tray.
4. Flour your fingers and roughly shape the dough ensuring the air isn't knocked out of it.  Flour the top of the dough and leave to prove uncovered until doubled in size.
5. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
6. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
7. Once cool the bread can be sliced and frozen.

Recipe taken from Fresh Bread in the Morning From Your Bread Machine by Annette Yates.


Monday, April 20, 2015

The Real Greek, Soho – Restaurant Review

Interior of The Real Greek, Soho

The London reporter rolls up his sleeves to make some Greek classic food at The Real Greek.

The Real Greek is a small restaurant chain in London with over 8 restaurants under its wing. Recently they launched their latest restaurant in London’s Soho and I was invited along for some hands-on Greek cooking and eating!

Hosted by Tonia Buxton, credited as being the face of Greek food in the UK and known from her hit TV show ‘My Greek Kitchen’, she has been a driving force of the development team behind The Real Greek’s dishes and was keen to share her knowledge.

Tonia Buxton

Tapenade
Have you ever made a tapenade? I hadn’t either and it’s a lot of fun. A tapenade is a fairly intense paste made up predominantly of finely chopped olives with herbs added in. We had a go at making our own tapenade and I mixed together dill, chilli flakes, turmeric (packed with anti-ageing properties don’t you know!), cumin (very soothing for the stomach), and a generous mix of black and green olives with a dash of olive oil. This made a lovely appetizer when spread onto crudités.

Chilli Flakes and Dill to make tepanade

Greek Dolmades
Next up were Greek Dolmades! These are stuffed vegetable vine leaves with rice and herbs. It was a lot of fun attempting to create these. Firstly you need to make sure the vine leaf is displayed vein side up, then add a dollop of a pre-prepared mixture consisting of pine nuts, feta, onion and wheat berries. You then roll up the leaf, tucking in the sides until it is nice and snug. Then finally place in a pan of water and simmer for 30 minutes.

Vine leaf for Greek Dolmade

And the rest
We also got to taste some superb food off the menu including grilled halloumi, lamb meatballs and skewered prawns with a honey glaze. All of which were delicious.

Prawn skewers

I can’t wait to go back for another Greek feast…

The Real Greek Soho
50 Berwick Street
London
W1F 8SJ

Disclaimer:  We were invited to the above for review purposes.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cherry Tomato, Cheese and Red Onion Marmalade Quiche

Cherry Tomato, Cheese and Red Onion Marmalade Quiche

We've had a welcome taste of summer here in the West Midlands and quiche with a bowl of salad is always a hit with us on warmer days.

The April edition of BBC Goodfood Magazine has a recipe for BLT tart and in true food blogger style I adapted the recipe, just slightly. Unlike the original recipe I made my own shortcrust - maybe I'll give myself a gold star!

When I opened the bag of rocket to grab a few leaves for garnishing the quiche, it was a bit of a surprise to see giant rocket, it was really disappointing on taste and texture, I'll be sure to look for smaller leaves next time.

A layer of red onion marmalade is spread over the base of the pastry and makes for a very tasty quiche.

You will need:
Rectangle baking tin 36x12x3cm, baking beans, baking paper

Pastry:
170g plain flour
85g lard, chopped
85g butter, chopped
2-3 tbsp chilled water

1. Add the flour to a bowl and rub the lard and butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water until a dough can be formed.  Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in clingfilm. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
2. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
3. Roll out the pastry and line the tin, trim the excess pastry.  Dock with a fork all over the pastry.
4. Take a large piece of crumpled baking paper, place on top of the pastry, fill with baking beans and place on a large tray, place in the oven to cook for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the tin from the oven and carefully remove the baking paper (don't forget the baking beans will be very hot). I mostly laboriously spoon them out into a dish until I can safely pick up the baking paper along with the last remaining baking beans.
6. Brush the base and sides of the pastry case with beaten egg.
7. Return the tin to the oven for 5 minutes or until golden.

For the filling:
150g whipping cream
100g grated mature cheddar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons of red onion marmalade
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
rocket

1. Reset the oven temperature to 180ºC.
2. Add the eggs and egg yolk to a bowl and whisk together, add the whipping cream, grated cheese, black pepper and a pinch of salt.
3. Spread the red onion marmalade over the base of the cooked pastry case.  Pour the mixture into the case, top with the cherry tomato halves.  Bake for 30-40 minutes.
4. Garnish with rocket.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Bolton Pub, West London (Review)

The exterior of The Bolton Pub, West London

The Bolton Pub in the heart of London’s Earls Court has thrown open its doors to a hungry young crowd.

Last week, we were lucky enough to check out the newly refurbished site and to see if it cut the mustard for a great night out.

On arrival, we thought it looked fairly cosy and slightly bohemian with stained glass art deco windows, red walls, caged chandeliers and candles on every table. This was a Thursday night and we were happy to get a table with ease whilst being able to listen to some chilled local bands.

Interior view of The Bolton Pub, Kensington

The menu
This is another London pub that is now offering hearty traditional pub food with some decent ales on tap. They offer a varied selection of fayre from burgers to Southern Fried Chicken including Sunday lunches with a couple of discounted meal deals over the week.

Starters
For starters we shared mushrooms on toast with flat and oyster mushrooms and stilton cream. One word required here. Wow! The way the hit of blue cheese subtly hits you is nothing short of divine! We also shared a salt and pepper squid with a spicy mayonnaise dip. Taste-wise, it was a little underwhelming compared to the mushrooms on toast (just a bit bland!) but it still hit the spot as a decent starter.
Images of the food at The Bolton Pub, West London

Main course
We asked for Southern Fried Chicken (not available!) but we were happy enough to dine on wild salmon fish cakes and slow cooked BBQ beef short rib. The fish cakes were served with potato wedges and a creamy coleslaw which were well sized for a main course. As for the ribs, these looked amazing when they came out and were a real show stopper. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much meat cradling over a rib before! Very tender. In fact, there was so much meat, we simply couldn't finish it off! My only criticism was that it was lukewarm and not piping hot!

To drink
We opted for a bright and breezy La Paz – a sauvignon blanc from Chile. We then followed it up with a very gluggable 2012 Yering Station Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley in Australia. If wine isn’t your thing, you could opt for one of their numerous ales including Camden Hells Lager and Curious Brew.

Overall, go with a big appetite and enjoy this well priced pub!

Destination:
326 Earls Court Road
Kensington
SW5 9BQ
http://www.theboltonearlscourt.co.uk/

Disclaimer:  We were guests of The Bolton Pub.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Steam Combination Oven -Traybake Vegetables

Steam Combination Oven Traybake Vegetables

When I first had my steam combination oven cooking vegetables was a bit of a hit and miss affair - timings are everything and I didn't really get it that carrots would cook in double quick time and my potatoes from raw would take about an hour to cook.

After using the oven for a year or so I find the best way to cook potatoes is to coat them in oil and add them to the tray for an hour, add the onions and the carrots for the last ten minutes of cooking time.  There is nothing more delicious than caramelised vegetables and they taste so much sweeter than steamed or roasted.

Vegetables on the tray ready for the steam combination oven

I spray the oven tray with oil before adding the vegetables, this makes the tray non-stick and saves on washing up too.

Onion, potatoes and apples being cooked in a steam combination oven

Add pork chops to the tray, slices of eating apples, vegetables and in an hour you have a complete meal cooked and ready for the table.

The above photographs were taken about a year ago whilst I was getting used to the oven.  The roasties don't look very golden but a year on and the story is improved.  We're getting caramelised vegetables, I'm cooking whole meals on the tray and loving every minute using my new kitchen toy.

My combi oven cooks by either convection, steam or a combination.  It's now a real workhorse in the kitchen, and the only negative, the oven isn't self cleaning and my shiny oven interior is now long gone but at least I'm getting my value from it.

I'm pleased that I didn't choose a dedicated steam oven because of it's limitations, the steam combi oven gives the cook far more flexibility.

More posts:
Potato Daupinoise
Potato Boulangere
Almond and Lemon Drizzle Cake
Individual Lemon and Blueberry Steamed Puddings
Red Onion Focaccia


Sunday, April 05, 2015

Wine Tasting With Asda Review




Last week, I was invited to attend a wine tasting event hosted by Asda in London. It was a great opportunity to try out some of the big name wines they stock with some too-good-to-be-true-price tags attached.

As you may have seen in the press recently, the supermarkets seem to be in a constant price war, fighting to get us through their doors. Challenger brands such as Aldi are offering a considerable number of show stoppers on the wine front, and Asda is no exception.

Our wine tasting was hosted by the delightful 'Master of Wine' Philippa Carr. She led a very fun and informal tasting session, introducing us to some of Asda's Easter treats.

Asda Wine Tasting Event Group Shot__

Currently selling a Louvel Fontaine Champagne at a jaw dropping £10 a bottle - an absolutely unbelievable price for a crisp well balanced bubbly number. Quite simply - I couldn't believe it was just a tenner!

We were also treated to another fizzy number - a Wine Selection Asti Spumante. Sweet, fruity and fun for just £5. Perfect for a Spring picnic on a sunny afternoon.

One very interesting thing I learnt was how food really does impact to the taste of wine. I know it sounds fairly obvious but it wasn't until we did a little experiment that I really noticed. If you take a sip of a red wine with lots of tannins then it might, for example, taste a little harsh on it's own. But if you enjoy it with food such as cheese, it's amazing how much softer the tannins become and smoother the wine. It may just make you reconsider what wines you really think you like.

You can pick up 6 bottles of wine for £25 until 7th April. That's just over £4 a bottle! Choose from a sparkling prosecco to a range of fabulous whites including Viognier, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc. There are also some yummy reds including a Merlot, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Rioja. I suspect you may be stocking up well beyond Easter with this offer.

Offers are subject to availability.

Disclaimer:  We were invited to attend the above event.

Friday, April 03, 2015

A Review of the SpiceBoy Grinder by Oliver Hemming

SpiceBoy Grinder

The SpiceBoy Grinder can be used for spices, peppercorns or sea salt. Oliver Hemming, the designer, has won a Red Dot design award for this innovative product.

I always use a pestle and mortar for grinding spices and so I was keen to see how the grinder performs.

Coriander, fennel, cumin, cardamom seeds and star anise were used to test the product.

SpiceBoy on it's side

All you have to do is place the spices into the bowl, remove the stopper and they fall through to the adjustable ceramic grinder mechanism.

Group photograph of the SpiceBoy Spice Grinder

Star Anise are really difficult to grind with a pestle and mortar, if not impossible, but the mechanism on the SpiceBoy made light work of this and there was little resistance when I turned the body of the grinder.

  • The product is quite tall, it's approximately 20cm high, but is stable when standing up.
  • It is possible to store with the spice bowl facing down which makes it mess free.
  • The stopper is an excellent fit.
  • Available in red, black and white.
  • Looks great in the kitchen.
  • Contemporary sleek lines.
  • Superbly made.
  • Made from acrylic.
  • Corrosion free ceramic parts.
  • Grind can be adjusted from fine to coarse.
  • 5 year guarantee on the ceramic mechanism.
  • It is recommended that the parts aren't washed, simply use a brush to clean the parts and flush out with the new spices you wish to grind, I found this was absolutely fine.

Stockist: www.proleno.com
RRP £34.95

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