18 Dec 2016

Plum Frangipane Tart with Crushed Amaretti

Plum Frangipane Tart

I bought these plums on a whim from the supermarket, they're what I call the dreaded 'ripen at home' which often translates to 'never will ripen at home'. Why do I do it? This time they were kind to me and ripened at home in a good 10 days after purchase without going mouldy which is a first.

Fortunately the plums were delicious, which is a blessing, especially after I had taken a fair amount of time making this fabulous tart which is topped with crushed Amaretti biscuits and flaked almonds.

I mainly buy Amaretti biscuits before Christmas and these together with flaked almonds make the most glorious crunchy topping for the ever popular frangipane bake.

A slice of plum frangipane tart with flaked almonds and crushed amaretti

Thermomix Instructions in Italics

You will need: Oblong tin deep fluted tart tin with loose base.35cmx10cmx3cm 

For the pastry:
175g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g cold butter, cubed
25g caster sugar
1 medium egg, beaten with a splash of water
For the filling:
75g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
75g ground almonds
2 tsp plain flour
½ tsp almond extract
6 plums halved and stoned
For the topping:
Crushed Amaretti biscuits
Flaked Almonds

1. Place the flour and butter in a food processor and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix in briefly, then add 3 tablespoons of the egg and water mixture. Whiz until the dough just comes together.
Place the flour, butter, sugar and 3 tablespoons of the egg and water mixture into the TM jug 20 Secs/Speed 4.
2. Chill the pastry for 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and line the tin,
3. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/ Gas 5 and place a heavy baking sheet inside on the oven rack to heat up.
4. Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork, now chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Line the pastry case with crumpled baking paper and spread over a layer of baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and remove the baking paper and beans. Return the part baked pastry case to the oven for 10 minutes until light golden brown.  Leave the pastry case in the tin to cool on a rack.
6. Now make the frangipane filling by placing the butter and caster sugar into the food processor, whiz briefly.  Add the ground almonds, flour, eggs and almond extract. Whiz again until smooth.
Add the butter, caster sugar, flour, ground almonds, almond extract and eggs to the TM jug 1 min/speed 3.
7. Reduce the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/Gas 4.  Pour the frangipane into the tin,  Arrange the plum halves cut down side on top of the filling. Scatter over crushed Amaretti biscuits and flaked almonds.
Bake for 45 minutes until the tart is golden brown. Cool on a rack.

14 Dec 2016

Judge Electric Carving Knife (JEA76) - Review

Judge Electric Carving Knife

I make most of my own bread, not by hand admitted. there's always a bread machine, food processor or food mixer busy making the dough and helping me out.  Once you get the bread making bug there's no turning back to supermarket sliced.  So far so good, but I'm fairly rubbish at cutting slices of bread, which is a great shame when you've spent valuable time in the kitchen turning out a loaf of bread.

I've been sent an electric knife to review and have never used one before, well until now that is. I have to admit I did find using it a little daunting at first but once I felt confident, and focused on keeping my fingers a safe distance away from the blades, I found after a little practise I improved.

The bread cut effortlessly without any dragging of the blade and my slices of bread weren't the usual doorsteps, so that's an improvement in itself!

The knife can be used for carving meat too, but as I write this review I've yet to use the knife for carving meat but know it will come in extremely handy for slicing meats over Christmas and the New Year.

Judge Electric Carving Knife cutting gammon
Brand Image

Tried and Tested:
We tested on a cooled seeded loaf of bread which had been made in the bread maker and had a very soft crumb and texture. The knife went through the bread effortlessly without squashing down the loaf of bread.


Large handle for safe handling
Dual serrated stainless steel blades
Blade Cover
On/off button
Blade release button
150-160w motor
Safety finger guards
Clear instructions and safety guidance provided
Judge two year guarantee
RRP £29.40

Disclosure: We were sent the product for review.

13 Dec 2016

Judge Thermal Gravy/Sauce Pot - Review

Judge Thermal Gravy Pot

The new design thermal jug from Judge Cookware is a winner on looks and versatility, and after reviewing the chrome version a while ago, I was really pleased to be asked to review the new design.

Here at Kitchen Delights we really like these jugs, they keep gravy and sauces hot, and hubby likes them because any extra custard can be kept on the table ready for seconds, they are easy to pour from and don't drip everywhere!

The inside of the Judge Thermal Gravy/Sauce Pot

The photographs show the custard after standing around in the jug for a while and as you can see the custard flows freely without any trace of skin or lumps.........

Pudding and custard

If custard isn't for you then cream can be kept cool in the jug ready for dessert. This jug is a multi-tasker and cold milk can easily be decanted from those huge plastic cartons ready for the breakfast table.

Tried and tested: Great for Christmas and New Year entertaining but also an all year round product which will be used time and again.

Capacity of 450ml
Thumb operated lid
Non drip spout
Temperatures can be maintained up to 4 hours
TC347 Thermal Pot
Price £14.38

Disclaimer: We were sent the product for review purposes.

4 Dec 2016

Christmas Chocolate Marble Loaf Cake

Christmas Chocolate Marble Loaf Cake

Christmas is coming! Wrapping presents, writing cards, shopping all to be done but there's always time to bake an easy marble loaf cake. This cake is a childhood favourite and one I never tire of. It's an easy bake simply topped with a delicious chocolate icing and a few sprinkles, what's not to like.

The cake will be a winner with children.........

A slice of chocolate marble loaf cake

50g butter, softened
75g soft tub margarine
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp orange juice
2 level tbsp cocoa powder

For the icing
50g unsalted butter
30g cocoa powder, sifted
2 tbsp milk
200g icing sugar, sifted
25g white chocolate, melted
white chocolate stars

You will need: Greased 450g loaf tin lined.

Thermomix Method in Italics

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line the tin with a wide strip of non-stick baking parchment to go up the wide sides and over the base.
2. Place the butter,  Stork SB, sugar, flour, baking powder,  pinch of salt, eggs and orange juice into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for two minutes. Spoon half the cake batter into another bowl.
Add the butter, soft tub margarine, sugar, flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, eggs and orange juice to the TM jug 20 Secs/Speed 5. Scrape down 5 Secs/Speed 5. Spoon half the cake mixture into a bowl.
3. Sift the cocoa powder into one half of the mixture and mix until evenly blended.
Sprinkle the cocoa powder over the cake batter in the TM jug - 10 Secs/Speed 5.
4. Spoon the plain and chocolate cake mixtures alternately into the loaf tin. Level the surface, swirl the cake batter gently with a skewer. Bake for approximately 40 minutes until well risen, and starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack, peel off the lining paper and leave to cool.
6. To make the icing, melt the butter in a small pan, add the cocoa powder, stir to blend and cook over a low heat for one minute. Stir in the milk and icing sugar, remove from the heat and mix thoroughly. Spread the cold cake with the icing, blob the melted white chocolate over the top and swirl with a skewer. Decorate with chocolate stars and leave to set.

27 Nov 2016

Leek, Mushroom and Cheese Quiche

Leek, Mushroom and Cheese Quiche

Quiche isn't just for the summer, it's fabulous with salad vegetables, home made coleslaw and chunky slices of crusty bread.

I used a mixture of Cheddar and Leicester cheese, I used to live in Leicestershire and so it follows that a piece of Leicester cheese can often be found in my fridge.

The blueprint for the filling is using 2 whole eggs and 300ml of dairy which should be double cream or creme fraiche.  Add to this the extras of your choice and voila you have a delicious quiche.

The pastry recipe is one I came across ages ago from chef Tom Kerridge, it's so easy to make and roll out that once you make this you'll use this as your turn to recipe.

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
140g cold butter, diced
1 tsp icing sugar
1 egg yolk
3tbsp cold water
For the filling:
1 leek, washed, sliced and chopped
100g mushrooms,sliced
75g Cheddar cheese, grated
75g Leicester Cheese, grated
2 eggs
300ml double cream
freshly ground pepper

You will need: 23cm loose base fluted tin 2.5cm deep

1. Whiz the flour, icing sugar, a pinch of salt and the butter in a food processor. and rub in until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 3 tbsp cold water, whiz to form a firm dough. Wrap in cling film and rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
If you have a Thermomix: add everything to the jug and set to 20 secs/speed 5. Check everything is combined.
2. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin. Cover with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove the paper and beans. Brush the pastry base with beaten egg and cook for 5-10 minutes more until the tart case is pale.
3. Turn the oven down to 160ºC.
4. Add a knob of butter to a frying pan, add the washed leeks and gently cook until tender. Remove from the pan and leave to cool.
5. Into a clean pan add a knob of butter, add the sliced mushrooms and cook until softened and tender. Remove from the pan.
6. Place a layer of leeks on the pastry base, followed by the grated cheese and sliced mushrooms. Season.
7. Mix the eggs with the double cream and pour over the filling.
8. Place the quiche into the oven and cook for 40 minutes until just set.
9. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

You may also like:
Cheese, Onion and Potato Quiche
Cheese and Onion Quiche
Leek and Gruyere Quiche

20 Nov 2016

Pressure Cooker Cottage Pie

Pressure Cooker Cottage Pie

New in the kitchen is an electric pressure cooker!  If you like me bought a stove top pressure cooker years ago and still have nightmares about all that soggy cabbage and worst of all beetroot juices coming from the weights and redecorating the kitchen then to revisit the pressure cooker can be a challenge.

I've made a few recipes now and using a new kitchen gadget can be a little daunting especially when you have memories of old regarding cooking foods under pressure.

An easy recipe of cottage pie is welcoming now the weather has changed and the beef layer took only 12 minutes to cook. I didn't get on too well though cooking the potatoes. I tried cooking them in a bowl but they resisted my attempts, I hadn't got one of those folding stainless steamer trivets so they didn't really stand a chance.  In a last ditch attempt I cooked the potatoes under pressure for 4 minutes but unfortunately if the potatoes are floury they will break up in the water.

A little update: I've just bought a small folding steamer which you sit onto the trivet supplied and the potatoes cooked in 8 minutes, I let the pressure come down naturally.  Perfectly cooked potatoes and ready to mash.  I should have mentioned that the mince beef and vegetables were cooked to perfection.

You can see from the photo that I broke the rules and put warm potato on top of a too runny mince beef layer which hadn't set and when I cooked the pie the potatoes melted into the beef - not great.

Cottage Pie

Anyway here is the recipe and when made correctly will taste and look amazing!

Note: Never thicken any recipe prior to cooking when using a pressure cooker otherwise it may run out of liquid and burn - always thicken afterwards!

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion
1 celery stalk
1 carrot
750g lean mince beef
300ml beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

For the potato topping:
750g potatoes
30g butter

1. Finely chop the onion, celery and carrot. Set the pressure cooker to a low or normal saute and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cook the vegetables until the onion becomes translucent and the vegetables begin to soften about 5 minutes.. Add the mince beef breaking it up and cook for 5 minutes to brown, add the tomato puree and cook stirring for a couple more minutes.
2. Add the stock, Worcestershire Sauce, salt and pepper. Place the lid on and cook for 12 minutes. If there is too much liquid thicken with a thickening granules or beef gravy. Pour into a large casserole dish, cool slightly and place in the fridge to set.
3. In a clean pot add 250ml of water. Place the trivet in the pot and top with a stainless steel fold up steamer. Cut the potatoes up into small pieces and pressure cook for 8 minutes and let the steam release naturally. Remove the potatoes from the steamer and place in a large bowl, add the butter and mash until smooth. Season and cool.
4. Place dollops of the cooled potato onto the cooled and set mince mixture and spread out to the edges.
5. Preheat the oven to 180C and cook for 30 minutes until bubbling and brown.

You may also like:
Cottage Pie with Vine Tomatoes
Mince Beef and Stilton Pies
Spicy Mince Beef Bake

13 Nov 2016

Thermomix Light Brown Bread

Home Made Bread

There's nothing more satisfying than a loaf of home made bread.  On this occasion I used the Thermomix but the dough can easily be made in a bread machine or food mixer.

A flour I recently discovered at the supermarket is Cotswold Crunch which is a blend of strong white flour, malted wheat flakes and malt flour -  I mixed this with white strong flour to ensure the loaf of bread is lovely and light.

The bread bakes and cuts well and is the perfect accompaniment to cheese.

Sliced Seeded Bread

Conventional Method in Italics 

You will need:
350g white strong flour
150g Cotswold Crunch Flour
1 x sachet instant dried yeast
20g soft butter
10g salt
300ml tepid water

1. Tip the flour, instant dried yeast, butter, salt and water into the TM jug.
Place the flour, instant dried yeast, melted butter, salt and water into the bowl of the mixer.
2. Knead 6 minutes until the dough is elastic.
Place the dough hook on and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
3. Leave the dough in the TM jug and let rise for 1 hour until double in size.
Oil a large bowl, add the dough, cover with cling film. Leave for approximately one hour until double in size.
4. Remove the dough from the jug and knock back. Shape into an oval.
5. Place the dough onto a floured tray, cover with oiled clingfilm and leave until double in size.
6. Preheat the Oven to 200°C.
7. Slash the bread three times with a very sharp knife.
8. Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

30 Oct 2016

How to Make Thermomix Blueberry Scones

Thermomix Blueberry Scones

It was about this time last year my thoughts turned to owning a Thermomix TM5. It's a huge eye-watering purchase but one I'm glad I made.  Ten months on I have no regrets, my only thoughts are it's always best to learn basic cooking before investing in a costly machine. I had high expectations when I bought mine and in return that it would exceed my expectations and thankfully I'm now well and truly hooked. I still like to use my other kitchen gadgets and hopefully a new exciting kitchen gadget is on the horizon so watch this space!

Anyway getting back to the scones, and especially blueberry scones which are one of my favourites, there are detailed Thermomix and conventional instructions below.

I rolled out the dough and scattered over the fresh blueberries........

Thermomix Scone Dough

After trying to fold the dough into three with fresh blueberries I think it would be far easier to use frozen fruit and simply poke them into the finished dough!

Folded blueberry scone dough

Now roll out the dough gently and fold again but this time with the fold the opposite way. Cut the dough out into rounds and brush with the remaining egg and buttermilk mixture.

Blueberry scones before baking

Conventional instructions in Italics

Makes: 8

You will need: A large floured baking tray and 5cm pastry cutter

200g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of cream of tartar
50g salted butter, cubed
15g golden caster sugar
1 large egg
60g buttermilk
100g fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
2. Mix the egg and buttermilk. Reserve a little for glazing the scones.
3. Add all the ingredients except the blueberries and egg/buttermilk mix to the TM jug.
Add the Self Raising Flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, pinch of salt and cubed butter to a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs.
4. TM20 Secs/Knead setting - pour the egg/buttermilk mix into the jug in a steady stream whilst checking to see if the dough has come together.
Stir in the caster sugar.and sultanas. Add most of the egg and buttermilk mix gradually to make a soft sticky dough.
5. Scrape down the TM jug.
6. If the dough hasn't come together now add a little more buttermilk to the jug TM10 Secs/Knead.
7. Remove the dough onto a lightly floured board and shape into a rectangle, don't worry if it's a little sticky the flour should take care of that. Scatter over the fresh blueberries.
8. Fold into three and gently roll out.
9. Now fold into three in the opposite direction.
10.Roll out to 1cm and using a floured 5cm plain round cutter. place onto the prepared tray. Brush the tops with the reserved egg and buttermilk mix.
11. Bake for approximately 12 minutes until well risen and golden.
12. Place the baked scones onto a cooling rack and cover with a clean tea towel.
13. Eat now spread with butter or freeze for later.

You may also like: 
How to make the perfect Thermomix fruit scones

26 Oct 2016

Capsicana Chilli Cook Sauce - Review

Capsicana Latin American Cooking Sauces

Along with these Capsicana Latin American cooking sauces I was sent some cute 'Worry Dolls' - children in Guatemala tell the dolls their worries and then place them under the pillow before they go to sleep!

There are three different sauces in the range from the countries of Peru, Brazil and Mexico.

We enjoyed trying the mild Chilli and Honey Mexican Cook Sauce which serves two - this is a beautiful sticky sauce which oozes quality. There is a quick and easy recipe on the outside of the pack which uses a few simple ingredients of chicken, onion and peppers, or on the Capsicana website there are other delicious recipe ideas. Nacho's loaded with grilled cheese, sliced avocado and sour cream accompanied our meal.

Mexican Meal made with Chilli & Honey Mexican Cook Sauce

There are two more products in the range:
Peruvian Chilli and Lemon which is medium heat - and based on Peru's famous green chilli 'Aji Verde' sauce.
Brazilian Chilli and Coconut is a hot sauce which features frutuscens chillies.

The person behind the brand is Ben Jackson who created these sauces after finding it impossible to get authentic Latin American sauces in our shops and food isles.

RRP: £1.99/100g pack which serves 2.
Stockists: Waitrose, Whole Foods and Amazon.

Disclaimer: We were sent products for review purposes.

23 Oct 2016

Plum Frangipane Traybake

Plum Frangipane Traybake

I bought the plums from Bridgnorth market last weekend, they were perfectly ripe, none of this ripen at home nonsense which basically means they go mouldy and never get to ripen.

A cake cum pudding is always a favourite here and the cake batter can all be mixed quickly in one bowl.

I made my own custard but hubby said Bird's custard is best with everything!

Plum Frangipane Cake with Custard
Unlike me don't forget to bang your tin down on the work surface a couple of times before baking
otherwise you'll end up with large air bubbles in your bake like above
I made the cake in my Thermomix (the instructions are in italics) conventional instructions are below. For best results make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature.

200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
250g self-raising flour
50g ground almonds
1tsp almond extract
2 tbsp milk
6 red plums, halved and stoned
25g flaked almonds

You will need: 30cm x 20cm x 3cm baking tin - greased and lined with baking parchment.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Add the butter, caster sugar, flour, eggs, almond extract, ground almonds and milk to the bowl of a stand mixer, beat for 2 minutes until smooth.
Place the butter, caster sugar, flour, eggs, almond extract, ground almonds and milk in the TM bowl Mix 20 Secs/Speed 5.  Scrape down and Mix 10 Secs/Speed 5.
3. Dollop the cake batter into the tin and level. Press the plums into the top of the cake mixture in rows cut-side up. Scatter the flaked almonds over the cake batter and plums. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until risen and golden.
4. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack to cool before turning out. Sift icing sugar over the cake. Serve with custard or cream.
5. Cut into squares. Can be frozen, thawed and warmed in a microwave.

22 Oct 2016

Winter Puddings - Free ebook

Posh Bread and Butter Pudding

It's that time of the year again when we turn to comfort food and delicious warming British puddings. Kitchen Delights has put together a free ebook of delicious recipes including a family favourite apple crumble, Bakewell tart with a crunchy iced topping, steamed lemon Pudding with mixed berry jam, baked apple and the above, only for grownups, luxurious bread and butter pudding with sultanas soaked in brandy!

The PDF is very quick to download here.

16 Oct 2016

Apple Frangipane Tart

Apple Frangipane Tart

Sometimes there isn't the time or inclination to make pastry and crushing a few biscuits to make a tart case is perfect. Anyway, who doesn't love bashing biscuits with a rolling pin.......

This is a luscious tart, easy to make and you'll be sure to go back for another slice.

A slice of apple frangipane tart

175g digestive biscuits
75g butter
200g Bramley apples
lemon juice
For the frangipane filling:
75g butter, softened
75g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs, beaten
75g ground almonds
1 tsp almond extract
50g flaked almonds

You will need: 20cm fluted loose-base round tin

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Place the biscuits into a large jug and using the end of a rolling pin crush until fine crumbs.
3. Melt the butter in a small basin in the microwave, pour onto the crushed digestives, mix to coat the biscuits and tip into the tart tin.  Press the crumbs evenly over the base and sides of the tart tin. Place in the fridge to chill.
4. Add the butter and sugar  to a bowl and mix until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, now add the ground almonds and almond extract mix until well combined.
5. Peel and core the apples, cut into thin slices. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to help prevent browning. Arrange the slices over the biscuit base. Dollop the frangipane filling onto the apple slices and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and set.

You may like:
Apple Ginger Cakes with lemon icing
Nora's Apple Pie
Blackberry and Apple Crumble Tart

11 Sep 2016

How to Make the Perfect Thermomix Fruit Scones

Thermomix Rich Fruit Scones

Making scones in a Thermomix is totally different to using either your hands or a food mixer. The liquid content along with the other ingredients usually all go into the jug to be mixed at exactly the same time. It's a very strange concept compared to rubbing the butter into the flour and then adding the liquid cautiously until the correct consistency is achieved, but it's always far better to be cautious and add the liquid in a steady stream until you are happy with the dough.

I've tried a few scone recipes that have been especially written for the Thermomix but I've returned to my own favourite which I've converted for the Thermie. My recipe is a rich dough made with a mix of egg and buttermilk (for lightness) and it works for me! I'd definitely recommend using a straight sided cutter though, and not the crinkled cutter I used, because you'll get a far better rise.

Instructions for making the scones conventionally are included in the blog post too.

Step by step photographs........Instructions below 7 - 10

Scone Dough

Folded Scone Dough

Second folding of scone dough

Scone Dough Ready for the final rolling

Scones that have been cut out and tops brushed with buttermilk

Conventional instructions in Italics

Makes: 8

You will need:  A large floured baking tray and 5cm pastry cutter

200g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of cream of tartar
50g salted butter, cubed
15g golden caster sugar
1 large egg
60g buttermilk
100g sultanas

1.  Preheat the oven to 230°C/Fan 210°C.
2.  Mix the egg and buttermilk. Reserve a little for glazing the scones.
3.  Add all the ingredients except the sultanas and egg/buttermilk mix to the TM jug.
Add the Self Raising Flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, pinch of salt and cubed butter to a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs. 
4.  TM20 Secs/Knead setting - pour the egg/buttermilk mix into the jug in a steady stream whilst checking to see if the dough has come together.
5.  Scrape down the jug.
6.  If the dough hasn't come together now add a little more buttermilk to the jug along with the sultanas TM10 Secs/Knead.
Stir in the caster sugar.and sultanas. Add most of the egg and buttermilk mix gradually to make a soft sticky dough.
7.  Remove the dough onto a lightly floured board and shape into a round, don't worry if it's a little sticky the flour should take care of that.
8.  Fold into three and gently roll out.
9.  Now fold into three in the opposite direction.
10.Roll out to 1cm and using a floured 5cm plain round cutter. place onto the tray. Brush the tops with the reserved egg and buttermilk mix.
11. Bake for approximately 12 minutes until well risen and golden.
12. Place the baked scones onto a cooling rack and cover with a clean tea towel.
13. Eat now spread with butter or freeze for later.

Note: On the sconeometer the Thermomix makes the most delicious scones!

You may also like these scone recipes:
Raspberry and Coconut 
In Search of the Perfect Scone
Fresh Berry

7 Sep 2016

Heston Blumenthal 5 in 1 Digital Thermometer - Review

Heston Blumenthal 5 in 1 Digital Thermometer

We like kitchen thermometer's in this house, I think this is mainly due to hubby being an engineer. When I was offered this Heston Blumenthal product for review it was hubby who eagerly opened the parcel and set the thermometer up.

The reason he was so enthusiastic is that there are two sensors in one probe - at the bend it has an oven sensor to measure the oven temperature and at the end a probe sensor which is inserted into the meat.

The thermometer has 3 pre-programmed temperature modes of operation and a manual setting.

1. Roasting for various meats, fish and poultry which includes a countdown timer for finish cooking.
A handy pre-programmed chart is built in with recommended temperatures by both Heston and USDA.

2. Confectionery giving 8 set temperatures, soft ball through to dark caramel.

3. Oil temperatures for deep frying, poultry, potatoes doughnuts and seafood.

The intelligent sensor means that the oven temperature and food can be measured at the same time and provide a count down timer for the finishing time when roasting.

We decided to sous vide a piece of beef using the oven - yes, it's definitely possible, and with a little online research a perfect piece of beef can be achieved, The meat is cooked in a casserole which is used as a water bath.

The photograph shows a very basic set up for oven sous vide......

Heston Blumenthal 5 in 1 Precision Digital Thermometer

For our sous vide beef the thermometer was used in manual mode, giving two distinct advantages over other types of thermometer. Firstly, the temperature of the oven is monitored by the bend sensor and the temperature of the water is monitored by the probe sensor simultaneously. Because the oven temperature needs some adjustments as the meat heats up, the second advantage over many probe thermometers is that the read-out on the probe is to 0.1 deg C for the water temperature so it is easier to track the temperature whether it is going up or down within a narrow temperature band. An alarm can be set for the target temperature of the probe sensor giving visual and audible alarms.

The resulting control of the sous vide temperature using the manual mode with some manual adjustments of the oven temperature gives a very good result of the water bath temperature.

The thermometer comes with it's own fixed stand which folds for storing the probe and wire which can be neatly stored away at the back of the unit.

Heston Blumenthal 5 in 1 Digital Thermometer being tested

A few more features:
Heston's and USDA Government recommended temperatures are programmed into the product.
Long 14.5cm probe.
Pan clip for confectionary cooking & deep frying.
Large LCD.
Loud beep.
RRP £49.99
Stockists: salterhousewares.co.uk
Will make a fabulous gift.

Disclaimer: The product was sent to us for review purposes.

5 Sep 2016

Nature's Path Organic Granola - Review

Nature's Path Organic Granola's

Nature's Path, who are well known for gluten-free products, have now ventured into the mainstream market and introduced four new granola's (which aren't gluten-free). They are all amazingly tasty and can be served simply with milk, or my choice is milk and a dollop of home made yogurt. The two 'nobbly' varieties are traditional clumps of oats and 'crumbly' is a finer texture.

Nice and Nobbly Honey & Almond - baked rolled oats with clover honey, chia seeds and crunchy almonds - hubby really likes this flavour combination and decided this was going to be his cereal of choice for a few days.

Nice and Crumbly Coconut & Chia Seed - baked rolled oats with coconut flakes and wholesome chia seeds - presently I'm happily eating this for breakfast and it also makes a very moreish snack.

Nature's Path Organic Granola's

Nice and Crumbly Pumpkin and Flax Seed has a delicious crumbly crunch and will make beautiful home made granola bars or is equally delicious sprinkled over yogurt.

Nice and Nobbly Fruit and Nut is a high fibre granola with a scrumptious mix of baked rolled oats, raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, seeds and cinnamon - Christmas in a box.

Extra Info:
Nature's Path is a family run company and their cereals are organic and GMO free.
RRP £3.00 for a 325g box.
Where can I buy them? All four are available from either Ocado or Amazon.
The two Nice and Crumbly packs are also available from Waitrose stores nationwide.

Disclaimer: We were sent the products for purposes of this review.

30 Aug 2016

Judge Glass Cafetiere with Stainless Steel Lid - Review

Judge Glass Cafetiere

As a non tea drinker I like to start the day with a cup of delicious warming coffee. The cafetiere is here to stay and it's a quick and convenient way to enjoy a delicious coffee at home. A cafetiere looks homely on the breakfast table and is also the perfect way to end a delicious meal at any time of the day.

We all have our own way of using a cafetiere but I like to use 7g to 10g of coffee per cup. I live in an area where the water is very hard and coffee always benefits from using filtered water. Pour 'just off the boil' water over the coffee to wet the grinds before filling the cafetiere with water. Leave for approximately 4 minutes before plunging and pouring the perfect coffee!

The Judge cafetiere has a fine mesh filter within the plunger which is replaceable and can be taken apart for washing.

Cafetiere Plunger and Mesh

Tried and Tested: We tested the 6 cup cafetiere with a coffee that has been ground especially for cafetieres (a coarse grind) and this ensures the plunger can be used with minimum resistance.  Pours cleanly and is easy to rinse out ready for the next coffee.

Looks classy
Borosilicate glass
Scratch and stain resistant
Polished stainless steel lid
Base removes for washing
Mesh filter within the plunger is replaceable
Available in 350ml/3 cup/2 mug - 700ml/6 cup/3 mug - 925ml/8 cup/4 mug
Dishwasher safe
RRP 3 cup £22.40/6 cup £27.30/8 cup £28.56
Stockist: Connaughtonline

For more details please visit Judge Cookware

Disclaimer: We were sent the product for review, all thoughts are our own.

25 Aug 2016

Stellar Rocktanium Fry Pan - Review

Stellar Cookware Rocktanium 26cm Fry Pan

You've just got to love a non-stick fry pan that will saute on the hob and is happy to go into the oven too. This is a really good looking pan and the weight feels just right for a multitasker,

The pan sent to me for review measures 26cm and one of its stand out features is the tough non-stick due to a revolutionary new titanium-based formula Quantanium, and is free from PFOA. The 'stone' effect finish on the non-stick coating is scratch-resistant and comes with the Stellar 5 year guarantee.

There are five heavy duty frying pans in the range measuring from 20cm to 30cm. Made from thick aluminium for perfect heat distribution which avoids those annoying hot spots.

The base of the Stellar Rocktanium Fry Pan

The pan can be used on all hobs including induction.  Another great feature is the hollow cast riveted handle for strength and durability and the pan can be used in the oven up to a maximum temperature of 210°C.

I tested the pan by making Pan Haggerty, a very old British recipe, which is basically layered potatoes, onions and cheese. It is easy to make, requires using the hob (mine is induction), and is then finished off in the oven. The recipe can be quite challenging because you want those lovely brown sticky bits on the base of the pan for flavour but without the potatoes sticking.

Delicious Pan Haggerty fresh from the oven.......I covered the handle with a tea towel to remind me the pan handle is hot and to avoid burns.

Step by step Pan Haggerty......

Step by Step How to Make Pan Haggerty

You will need:

675g potatoes such as Maris Piper
1 onion sliced
100g extra mature Cheddar cheese, grated
25g Butter
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and Black Pepper

1. Slice the onion, add a small amount of butter tter and oil to the pan, cook gently for a few minutes to soften. Remove the onions from the pan.
2. Peel and slice the potatoes thinly.
3. Place a layer of potatoes onto the base of the pan, scatter over a few of the onions followed by grated cheese and season.
4. Layer the remaining ingredients finishing with a layer of cheese.
5. Cover the pan with foil and place into a 180°C oven for 45 minutes or until cooked through.
6. Remove the foil from the pan and continue cooking until the cheese is bubbling.

To see the range of pans please visit Stellar Cookware.

Disclaimer: We were sent the product for review.

22 Aug 2016

Brioche Berry Pudding

Berry Brioche Pudding

I wonder if the Olympians can indulge in a pudding this week as a reward? Or maybe they are programmed never to go anywhere near sugar. For those of us who like an indulgent dessert/pudding this is one of my favourites because it is as light as a feather to eat, quick and easy to make and reheats quickly in the microwave.

All you need is a sliced brioche loaf, which I mostly buy from Aldi, berries of your choice, eggs, sugar, milk and a pot of whipping or double cream.

Slice of Raspberry and Blackberry Brioche Pudding

You will need: large buttered ovenproof dish

1 small sliced brioche loaf about 200g
75g fresh raspberries
75g fresh blackberries
250ml semi-skimmed milk
250ml whipping or double cream
3 medium eggs
25g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Icing sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
2. Cut off the crusts. Lay half the brioche over the base of a 1.5 litre x 6cm deep ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over half of the raspberries and blackberries, cover with the rest of the brioche squares. Scatter over the rest of the berries.
3.Whisk the milk, cream, eggs, vanilla extract and sugar together in a jug. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the brioche and leave to soak for 5 minutes.
4. Put the dish into a deep roasting tin and pour boiled water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 30 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and the tin. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, dust with icing sugar, serve on it's own or with whipped cream.

21 Aug 2016

Judge Double Walled Latte Glasses - Review

Judge Double Walled Latte Glasses

I like my coffee to stay nice and hot and usually pour boiling water into my coffee cup to help my drink retain the heat. With these double walled glasses I can bypass that step and pour the coffee and foamed milk straight into the glass knowing my drink is going to stay hot for longer. Both the glass and handle stay cool which is a great safety feature.

The glasses hold 275ml of liquid which in my terms is a double strength shot of coffee topped with foamed milk or to be a little more precise it is the same as my regular coffee cups.

Coffee Made in the Judge Double Walled Latte Glasses

Tried and Tested:  Both hubby and I really like these glasses on both functionality and looks.

The glasses come in a twin pack
Made from scratch resistant boroscilicate
Heat resistant to 100°C
Dishwasher Safe
RRP £13.50.
More sizes are available for either hot or cold drinks
For information regarding the range please visit Judge Cookware

Disclaimer: We were sent the product for review, all thoughts are our own.

15 Aug 2016

Bread Made in a Banneton Proving Basket

Bread made in a banneton proving basket

Some time back I bought a banneton, it's been sitting in the cupboard waiting patiently for me to do some online research and get some use out of it.

The  first thing I found was that it has to be 'seasoned' otherwise the bread will stick for ever and a day. Here's how I did it - take a clean spray bottle and spray the inside of the banneton. Now dust the inside with cornflour. Hold the banneton by it's edge and keep on turning it round until the inside is coated and the excess falls onto the work surface. Leave to dry.

My first attempt was a bit rubbish but not to be outdone I had another breadmaking session and whilst I'm not saying it's perfect, I was more than a bit chuffed with my attempts.

Bread which has been baked until black and slashed to within an inch of it's life with intricate patterns adorn galleries on Instagram and whilst I may have bread envy I'm more than happy with my efforts.I decided against slashing the bread in case the dough deflated, maybe next time..... At least the dough came out!

Sliced bread made in a banneton

Instructions are for making in a stand mixer - Thermomix instructions in italics

7g sachet easy-blend yeast
or 15g fresh yeast
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
300ml lukewarm water

You will need: round banneton which has been well floured and the excess tipped out.

1. Tip the flour into a mixing bowl. If using easy blend dried yeast, stir this into the flour. For fresh yeast, crumble it and rub into the flour  Add the salt and sugar.
Add the fresh yeast (defrosted to room temperature if previously frozen) to the jug with the water 2 min/37°C/speed 1.
2. Mix the oil into the 300ml lukewarm water and pour into the dry ingredients.
Now add the olive oil, salt and flour. Knead 4 minutes.
3. Fit the dough hook to the stand mixer. Mix on a slow speed for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
4. Tip out the dough onto an oiled silicone mat. Shape into a round and place into a greased bowl. Cover with oiled clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 1 hour until double in size.
5. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and knock back until smooth.  Shape into a round and place upside down in a floured banneton.  Cover with clingfilm and rise for 30 minutes in a warm place.
6. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
7. Perhaps not a conventional way to remove the dough from the banneton but my way - place a piece of baking paper over the risen dough, take a baking sheet and place over the baking paper, tip over and the dough should come away easily.
8. If you wish slash the bread with a very sharp knife and bake for 40 minutes until cooked through and brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

31 Jul 2016

Thermomix Seeded Bread Rolls

Seeded Bread Rolls on a baking tray

Bread making in the Thermomix is so easy and homemade bread is one of my life's pleasures.  I'm never going to knead and pummel bread dough by hand it's just too hard work and I like to let one of my kitchen gadgets do all the hard work.

I made these bread rolls with fresh yeast and here again the Thermie comes into it's own.  Using fresh yeast can sometimes be a faff but all you have to do is put the fresh yeast along with water into the jug and in a couple of minutes time it's lukewarm and mixed perfectly for the next stage. I asked at the bread counter for my yeast and then broke it into 20g pieces, wrapped them in clingfilm and popped them into the freezer for another day. When you want to make bread simply thaw still wrapped in the clingwrap.

Some recipes recommend kneading in the TM for 2 minutes but I find 4 minutes is perfect to get to the windowpane stage.

After mixing and kneading all you have to do is turn the jug upside down, twist the handle away from the base and the blade falls out with the dough.

Seeded bread dough

Divide the dough into 12 and shape into bread rolls.

Seeded bread rolls before proving

Cover the rolls in clingwrap and prove until double in size. Brush the rolls with water and sprinkle with seeds.

Bread rolls after proving

There's nothing quite like seeing a cooling rack adorned with freshly baked bread rolls.

Seeded bread rolls cooling down

Conventional Method in Italics

Thermomix Recipe (slightly adapted)

Makes: 12

20g olive oil
small sprig of fresh rosemary
300g water
20g fresh yeast
1 tsp salt
500g strong white bread flour
100 g mixed seeds

You will need: a large shallow baking tray

1  Place the sprig of rosemary into the olive oil to infuse. Lightly flour the tray. Add the fresh yeast (defrosted to room temperature if previously frozen) to the jug with the water 2 min/37°C/speed 1.
Rub the yeast into the flour.
2  Remove the sprig of rosemary from the olive oil. Now add the olive oil, salt and flour.  Knead 2 minutes. Add 80g of the seeds and using knead setting 2 minutes.
Measure out the water and heat to tepid. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Pour in the water, olive oil and salt. Place the dough hook onto the stand mixer and mix on slow until a dough forms. Continue kneading on a medium speed for 8 minutes until smooth. Add the seeds and continue kneading for another 2 minutes until the seeds have been worked in. Or alternatively, remove the dough from the mixer, add the seeds and knead them in by hand.
3 Turn the dough out onto a silicone mat. Break the dough into 12 equal pieces. Arrange the rolls onto the floured tray.  Cover loosely with greased clingfilm and leave to rise until double in size. Brush the tops gently with water and sprinkle with the remaining seeds. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
4  Bake the rolls 20-30 minutes until golden and risen. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.