Saturday, 28 May 2011

Macarons book Giveaway

Firstly, no you are not seeing double, parts of a similar post appeared and disappeared due to technical issues a few weeks back, however I can confirm this post is now definitely real! 

A few months back whilst I was a bit under the weather, the lovely Helen from Fuss Free Flavours braved our local transport system and came to visit me, bringing with her some delicious treats, including some very good scotch eggs!

Amongst our little lunch feast, Helen also very kindly gave me a copy of an elegant little book simply called Macarons, by Annie Rigg, and after baking my first and successful batch of Macarons, I am now very happy to confirm I have an additional copy to give away to one lucky UK based reader!

The book is perfect and petite, a little like the macarons themselves! It contains a selection of mouthwatering recipes and combinations, including step by step instructions on how to make and fill them, I can highly recommend it!

These were our first macarons - of course we had to dye them pink but you could use any colouring you wish for! Prior to this I'd never made them, or tried before but am a definite convert! They are so light and delicious, a little time consuming but the results are worth it!

Its very easy to enter the competition - just leave me a comment below telling me your favourite sweet treat!

To gain additional entries, you can re-tweet this competition using the T button below this post, please leave an additional comment advising you have done so. Additionally you can gain extra entries by 'liking' my facebook page, and leaving a comment below.

The competition closes on the 10th June 2011, and the winner be chosen at random and will be announced shortly after here. Please leave a valid contact email address.

Don't forget to check out Helens blog too, its jam packed full of treats! 

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Ham and Sweetcorn Philly Frittata

Frittata's (tortilla) are a common dinner in our house - mainly as they are so versatile, and also economical as you can you use up a mixture of leftovers and whatever needs using up quickly! We normally have eggs in so it’s quick and handy supper!

Eggs are your base, and from there the options are endless!

I often vary the dairy part between what needs using up - sometimes its cream, or crème fraiche, and sometimes its cream cheese. This one however was slightly different, I used cream cheese but this time a Basil and Sundried tomato flavoured one recently launched from Philiadelphia, which worked very well and gave the Frittata a new twist. 

So once your eggs and dairy bit are in the bowl, from there you could use some cooked meat, I.e. strips of ham or salami, tinned fish including tuna and salmon or even cooked vegetables such as courgette, slices of potato and mushrooms, and even tinned vegetables such as sweetcorn work really well here too. Cheese wise, I like to add a handful of grated cheddar, along with any other odd bits of cheese - parmesan, red leicester, mozzarella etc all work very well. I used fresh basil roughly chopped into the mixture but parsley is also a good addition.

I rarely weigh anything, normally judging by eye until you have a well mixed batter, with even distribution between the eggy bit and your additions:

For my 23cm sauté pan, my base is 6 eggs plus additions, which will give you a frittata about 2cm deep. Gently heat your pan, add a knob of butter and a splash of olive oil, then tip in the mixture and gently poke around to get a nice layer of all the fillings, allow to gently cook away, once the topping is starting to set, transfer under a hot grill for a couple of minutes to brown nicely.

You can serve it either hot as a light dinner with a nice crisp green salad, or let it cool down, then cut into strips and serve as part of a buffet or picnic. Is also delicious in a lunchbox as travels well.


Many thanks to Jo at Golin Harris for the Philadelphia samples :)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Cake Pops..

A couple of weeks back I had a few hours to kill, and as I normally rather enjoy baking, decided to finally get around to baking some cake pops, which seem to be a newish trend in baking...several hours later, and covered in a light film of cocoa and icing sugar dust they were finally complete! 

They tasted fantastic, gorgeously dense and chocolately with a cherry kick, though were very much a labour of love! Mine were dipped in white chocolate and then topped with a variety of hundreds & thousands, crushed butterscotch pieces and honeycomb. They make a great novelty dessert and are ideal for parties and family gatherings...

However my dearest friends and family – I know you loved these heart stopping chunky chocolate boulders of sweet delight but please note they were a one off as I don’t intend to ever bake these again anytime soon. Or at least until maybe I own a dishwasher, decent hand whisk and learn to be patient. Oh, and have someone to clean up after me!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Creamy Sun-dried tomato Turkey

I will be honest in that right up to serving this dish the first time around that I made it, I was slightly hesitant. Firstly, I've never really cooked with sun-dried tomatoes, other than stuffing them into bread dough and tend to usually keep things simple when cooking with turkey steaks. Secondly it didn't look very attractive during cooking at all and therefore I didn’t initially bother taking a photo of it!

However all my fears were gone upon one mouthful – the sauce was truly delicious, both creamy and tomatoey, and the turkey remained moist and was perfectly cooked through, I can’t remember enjoying turkey so much before this dish! Everyone was mopping out the remaining sauce in the Le Creuset, always a good sign!!

As we enjoyed it so much, I made it again last week for my mum and brother, for a very belated Mothers Day meal, and luckily they both loved it too!

I originally found the recipe on the I love British Turkey site, after buying the steaks reduced (shh!) and made only minor tweaks as to what I had in stock.


4 turkey breast steaks, about 150g/5oz each in weight
1½ tbsp seasoned plain flour
1 tbsp olive oil – I had to add more than this
2-4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into wedges – was a little too much, used only one onion the 2nd time around, also I sliced them quite thinly
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
300ml/½ pint white wine – didn’t have any so used a good splash of vermouth and doubled the stock quantity
150ml/¼ pint turkey or chicken stock – see above note!
4 tbsp half fat crème fraîche – I used full fat version both times
50g/2oz pitted black olives, roughly chopped – omitted as didn't have any in, think the dish is tasty enough anyway!
Flat leaf parsley to garnish – omitted first time around, 2nd time had curly leaf parsley, pretty garnish but not essential by any means!

1. Coat the turkey steaks in the flour then heat the oil in a large frying pan and seal the turkey steaks on all sides. Remove from the pan and reserve. Add the garlic, onions and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan, sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally then return the turkey steaks to the pan.

2. Blend the tomato purée with the wine, add to the pan with the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat then simmer gently for 10-15 minutes or until the turkey is thoroughly cooked.

3. Remove the turkey from the pan and keep warm. Stir the crème fraîche into the pan with the olives and heat through for 1 minute. Pour the sauce over the steaks, garnish with the parsley. I served the dish with rice, broccoli and peas, makes a good combination to soak up the lovely sauce!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Chicken Kiev's and new Cookery School book

I've always felt that there is something quite special about Chicken Kiev's, a kind of happy nostalgia and despite eating many a kiev over the years, good and bad I had never actually attempted to make them! The thought of all that lovely garlicky herby butter can't help but raise a smile and after seeing the recipe in the new Cookery School book, I finally made them!

I am not very good at following instructions admittedly, and struggled with cutting the chicken breast correctly, I felt maybe one more image in the book would have solved my ‘diagonal’ query, however overall it was very clear to follow, and the kiev’s were delicious.

Trying to be slightly healthier instead of deep frying them, I sprayed them with oil and baked for about 30 minutes instead, they were still beautifully crispy and very moist, though I need to make bigger pockets next time as could of done with a touch more of the lovely garlicky butter!

On the front of the Cookery School book it claims to be able to teach anyone to cook.. Whilst I did food technology for GCSE many moons ago, I don’t recall ever learning any specific techniques and I have got this far mainly through trial and error! I make good cakes, am fairly confident with pastry and give me a tin of tomatoes and I can knock up a pretty good sauce but beyond that its very hit and miss!
The Cookery School book has recipes from the Michelin starred chef Richard Corrigan, and lots of helpful advice from the glamorous chef and food writer Gizzi Erskine. After watching several programs, Richard seems to favour bad cop and Gizzi provides a more nurturing, friendly cop role, which strikes a good balance most of the time!

Each section in the book has clear, photographic and written instructions, and highlights what skills you will learn making the recipe, which is very useful. You can feel proud afterwards and also know the name of what you have learned, which is good!

For me personally, some of the recipes and general feel of the book leans towards what I would call restaurant style dishes; whereas I am more a home style cook and eater; several recipes didn’t appeal to me or my brother, who claimed there were ‘no man food recipes’! Additionally I felt a lot of the ingredients are quite expensive or a bit random (dandelion leaves?!) and not readily available if you live out outside of a major cities, though there are a number of mail order companies around now so they are not completely unachievable.

Whilst I went fairly simple with making the Chicken Kiev's; to give you an idea of the recipes contained within the book, here are a few examples of ones that I particularly liked the sound of:


Halloumi, tomato and green bean salad
Moules Mariniére
Thai pork lettuce cups


Razor clams with a tomato sauce
Baby chicken with puy lentil dhal
Lemon posset with butter shortbread


Onion, spinach and ricotta ravioli with a lemon cream sauce
Stuffed lemon sole with scampi and tenderstem broccoli
Raspberry millefeuille

The Cookery School book is published by Penguin and is available in the shops now.

With thanks to Julie @ Traffic Partners

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Gammon and Potato bake aka Leftovers go to Heaven

I adore potatoes, they are my favourite carb and are just so versatile, from new potatoes simply boiled, and finished with a little butter and a few mint leaves; to being jazzed up into Gnocchi. Infact I don’t think I have ever come across a potato dish I have not enjoyed!

A few weeks back I had a quantity of cold, cooked gammon leftover from Sunday lunch; we’d already had gammon sandwiches and being a chilly evening I didn’t really fancy having a cold dinner again so I put out my dilemma to Twitter and the lovely Hampshire cook answered my prayers with her fabulous potato bake!

After a quick scan of the recipe I didn’t have any leeks, or indeed the correct potatoes and improvised with the last of some rather large new potatoes, sliced thinly, along with some sautéed onions, that were abandoned from a plan to make a frittata with the previous night.

Oh my it was lush! Beautiful layers of creamy potatoes, smokey salty ham and the onion disbursed through. Next time I cook gammon I will be ensuring we have leftovers, specifically to make this dish!

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