Monday, 30 December 2013

Create a Winning Win a fabulous Caribbean Cruise with Thomson!

Thomson Cruises currently are running a fun promotion to win a Caribbean Cruise with them, all you have to do is design a three course menu to feature on board using their interactive website! I had good fun working through the many options and below is a run through of my (winning!) menu! You can enter using this link.

Making a Start with your delicious Starter:

There are a delicious array of starter options to choose from, such as Smoked salmon, Parma ham or Crab. Once you have selected your main ingredient, then choose from the vegetable options such as Asparagus, Wild mushrooms or olives and then finish the dish with a choice of breads including Baguette, rye and foccacia

I chose – Smoked Salmon, courgette and foccacia bread. Once that’s decided you have to describe your dish in detail, so that if your idea is successful the chef can prepare it!

My recipe idea was: Creamy Smoked Salmon and Courgette Rotoli

Recipe - A regular Courgette, sliced thinly length ways and gently griddled until lightly golden, then a spread with a layer of lemon and dill infused ricotta, followed by a layer of smoked salmon, rolled up tightly and served filling side up and drizzled with an lemon infused olive oil and served with small chunks of warm foccacia on the side. Three rotoli to be served per portion.

Once you have finally decided on the starter then its on to the Main Course!

Like before you have plates to click on but there are now six parts to it – Main ingredient, vegetables 1,2 and 3, bread, and rice and pasta

Main ingredients included Beef, Venison, Vegetarian (some main vegetables I.e. aubergine), Scallops and even Lobster!

.....Of course I had to choose Lobster – a very rare treat item but a cruise is no ordinary holiday and when else can you treat yourself than when on holiday I think? 

By choosing Lobster, you then get to choose a cooking style – I decided as we had started along the Italian route, I would keep to the theme and chose sweet potato, spinach, tomato, risotto and ciabatta to accompany... Some of my favourite ingredients! I have only cooked lobster once and fortunate enough to eat a small handful of times out but I really enjoyed it, it would be really lovely to have it again too!

 Parmesan Crusted Lobster with Baby Spinach and Sweet potato risotto

Recipe - Lobster – simply cooked in salted boiling water for about 15 minutes – depending on its size. Then halved through the body length ways. Meanwhile sweet potato chunks and Baby plum tomatoes roasted for 20 minutes, and then gently stirred into a simple risotto made with white vermouth, garlic and onion along with a handful of baby spinach leaves. A butter made with parmesan and basil leaves placed over the lobster and gently grilled until lightly golden and served atop the risotto. Slivers of toasted ciabatta served on the side.

Last but not least – Dessert!

For the final countdown you are then provided with several options including Brownies, torte, gateau and Ice-cream. Now I pride myself on my brownies but they don’t seem luxurious enough so I opted for a cheesecake – my second love! One of my favourite recipes is my Honey and Almond Cheesecake (which is elsewhere on the blog) so of course had to go with that option! Its surprisingly light as I sneak in low fat ricotta with the luxurious mascarpone so gentle on not only the hips but tummy too! Essential to look good in your bikini on board!

And now its just a case of nervously pressing the submit option!

Once submitted – after approval your menu will feature on their site for the world to see – its worth checking out first for some inspiration! This is of course providing you see it prior to making your menu..

The wordy bits:

The competition closes at 23:59 on the 12th of January 2014, 3 finalists will then be selected and will be given the opportunity to try their dishes onboard a cruise to the Canary Islands in March 2014. The winner will be chosen by an expert panel and will be sent on the Pride of Panama cruise around the Caribbean in January 2015.

Disclaimer: This is a PR collaboration by Anne's Kitchen In association with Thomson Cruises

All images and content remain the property of Anne's Kitchen

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Random Recipes #35 - Dare to Bare

Finally I remembered a blogging deadline - albeit at the eleventh hour but as the saying goes...better late than never....I normally remember when I see the round-up's published!

This months Random Recipes #35 challenge from Belleau Kitchen was to photograph our ingredients cupboards - initially I was like oh yes its one I can easily do...then the month flies by..we are going out the door to go on holiday and I grabbed my rather crap mobile and took a quick picture...I didn't have time to tidy up at all and am now typing this whilst sitting in my lovely Auntie's gorgeous home by the sea and wishing I had squeezed a few extra minutes in to tidy up or at least hide the value stuff!

So we have two main ingredients cupboards - the first one is only about a foot deep - here hides baskets stuffed with assorted pasta shapes, various little parcels of half finished nuts and a random collection of tinned and jarred items including mango slices, honey, garlic cloves and coconut milk. And an emergency jar of sardine and tomato paste! There's also noodles hiding in the food bag as I split the packet last time I opened them..why do they make them so awkward?!

This is the larger cupboard where all the herbs and spices live - Like Belleau Kitchen I would to be lost without my tub of Marigold Bouillon stock powder! The purple basket is a new addition in an attempt to sort out all the various shaped tub, tins and packets of herbs and spices! The re-labelled bottle on the bottom shelf is some Filipino soy sauce - me and my neighbour trade ingredients and its a great way to try new things! There are also some curry sachets shh and my secret love - a sachet of sushi ginger!

So that is Anne's Kitchen laid bare! Admittedly its not all for I have mild hoarding tendencies - there is also another stash upstairs in our hall cupboard of tinned tomatoes bought on offer (say about 20 left..) and all the baking stuff lives in another cupboard!

As mentioned above, I am on holiday so blogging is also on the back seat but I will be back soon - I have a fabulous Sausage Carbonara coming up soon!


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Christmas Cardamom and Ginger Biscuits

Well here we are on the 18th December and despite uploading pictures on facebook weeks back I realise I forgot to blog them! So here we go with my Christmas Cardamom and Ginger Biscuits, and just in the (saint) nick of time! They don't take too long to make and will keep a good few days in an airtight tin!

Its not often I make biscuits, in fact probably I can count on one hand the amount of times since school that I've baked proper biscuits requiring cutters but my dad had bought over a set of cutters and thought it was about time...the trouble is I am an inpatient baker and I also share my kitchen with a stranger leaving dusty work tops has to be planned around when I know they are out!

Back in October time I had snagged a biscuit recipe from a Tesco instore magazine for Bat cookies which topped with chocolate for Halloween but I decided to tweak very slightly and add a little cardamom to give it a slightly spicy, Christmas feel. For some reason whenever I write down the word Cardamom it just doesn't feel right. I even spell checked it to make sure! I feel like it needs a 'n' in there somewhere! Anyone else feel this way too? 

The first batch of these biscuits were made to take over to one of my lovely Auntie and Uncle's house in a long overdue visit - I do hope they like them! As it was, I hadn't used all the dough as ran out of baking sheets (I have one) so kept the remaining dough for a few days chilled - and it worked perfectly still then!

As you can see my icing skills are limited but I quite like my crazy reindeers!

100g (31⁄2oz) butter, softened
100g (31⁄2oz) soft brown sugar
100g (31⁄2oz) golden syrup
1 large egg
350g (12oz) plain flour
1tsp ground ginger root
1 level tsp ground cardamom

1/4 box Icing sugar
edible glitter


Beat the butter and sugar together, (I used a hand mixer) until creamy and fluffy, then beat in the egg and syrup.

Separately sieve together the flour, spices and fold into the butter mixture. Wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.

Roll out onto a lightly floured surface, to the depth of a pound coin and cut with desired cutters. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until just turning golden brown - they should be very slightly soft to touch. Cool on tray for about ten minutes then transfer to a wire sheet.

When you are ready to decorate, sieve the icing sugar and slowly add a teaspoon at a time of water until you have a smooth mixture, either spoon into a icing bag or use a small spoon to decorate. Then go nuts with the sprinkles as you desire!

With a little practice my tree's came out quite pretty - plus a sprinkle of edible glitter never goes amiss at Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!



Monday, 16 December 2013

Monday Meal Plan - and its getting Festive here and a little spiritual too..!

Apologies for not posting last week, I had meal planned but several days were up in the air and with family stuff going on and commitments to other blog posts looming (did you see my Mini Foodie Gift guide?) I decided to abandon the idea of posting my meal plan, but I am back this week at least! Though next week not so guaranteed to post... I will explain further down..

We did have a really lush lunch one day I must share with you - ciabatta filled with grilled smoked bacon and gooey port salut cheese, baked in the oven until gooey and served with roasted cherry tomatoes - it was heaven on a plate!

At the moment I am planning about 10 days see its not a normal week coming up, though you probably guessed that with all the tinsel that's been floating around...its Christmas and its here regardless if we anywhere near ready for it! The cards are posted...the presents are bought.. with a little help from some very nice Morrison's Wine yesterday afternoon they are all wrapped, bows ribbon and all that jazz... and all that's left is the dreaded food shop - maybe I should invest in shoulder pads and body Armour?! 

Without getting too deep some previous Christmases have left me feeling less than excited, actually to the point of tears and heartache, though by spiritual growth I know now it was because I was living my life for someone else, whereas now I live it for me and fully embrace what's going on around me. Bring on the fairy lights!

This Christmas is also poignant one - its me and B's first Christmas as a couple, which is exciting - I am thankful for having him in my life, and having a fabulous guinea pig for whatever I concoct in the kitchen. 

Best of all perhaps is that I am no longer shadowed by the black cloud of Depression and I am thankful to all those who stood by me, thick and thin. They know who they are, and I cherish having them in my life. People have come in and out of my life during the past few years...but I think that fate is a funny thing and they have all left a stamp on my life, the good ones to embrace and rejoice in and the bad that were vital - they showed me what I didn't want from my life and I have managed to carve out a happy existence. What hasn't changed is my love of food! Though January I think Anne's Kitchen will be more a 12 step detox blog for the month judging by things so far... have some more cake to keep you going until then!

And so on to the meal plan! Sorry I rambled there but I felt compelled to do it... As I said above, I am planning ahead a little - we are going away straight after Christmas as well as being at friends and families prior to the holiday and need to use up all the fresh stuff so our meals are a little somewhat quirky at the moment...I chose not to blog it but yesterdays dinner consisted of tortellini and kale in a creamy pepper sauce.. I am also working a mixture of long-day's and night's during the plan so keeping things simple too!

Monday - Sausages, with roasted new potatoes and garlic laced courgettes

Tuesday - Leftover Sausages, with either tomato and pasta sauce or sausage carbonara - we have lots of eggs and cheese in so might be the latter!

Wednesday - Mini fish pies, with most likely green beans or buttered spinach

Thursday - Cheese, tomato and Pepper Pitta Pizza's

Friday - not 100% sure but possibly an omelette or fish fingers
Have a great week everyone,
Love Anne xx

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Mini Christmas foodie Gift Guide

Oh my I have no idea where this month is going  - I can't quite believe either that the big day is in only 15 days! We still are finalising shopping lists and meal plans and time is rapidly vanishing! For us we have extended 'Christmas days' - with separated parents we always have two, and this is both lovely...but also gets expensive..and a little over indulgent - think January I will seriously have to be detoxing! 

This Christmas Day we are joining close friends for the day, which will be lovely, even more so that we are not crammed in our little flat with a dining table for two and they have a dishwasher! Win! And then we are spending Boxing day with my Brother, which will be great too as other family join us too then we hope! 

So over the past few weeks I have been tasting things and being sent an array of nice things to review - and here are a few delicious ideas!

Filippo Berio, Extra Virgin Olive Oil - This is pretty limited edition 1 Litre tin featuring 'The Lady of Viareggio' and looks great in the kitchen! Delicious olive oil too for making up salads and to dress finished dishes. Available widely.

Bellucci Chocolates from Turin - These chocolates are simply gorgeous! They came beautifully wrapped in purple tissue paper and sealed with little stickers. They would make a recipient feel very special, I know I was very happy to receive mine! The selection consists of delectable Gianduja Pralines, nougat, hazelnut... all wonderful tastes! With each chocolate individually wrapped they are extra special to open and together gleam like jewels, just edible ones! Definitely a selection box for grown up's with good taste!

Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry - When I first thought of Sherry, I must admit it was something I associated with a dusty bottle at the back of my late Nanny's cabinet but I know its becoming gradually popular again and I was pleased to be given the chance to try some - and I was pleasantly surprised. I don't like sweet wine when choosing normally, which I think has put me off in the past trying sherry but over the last couple of years I grew to like Port, with cheese etc and finally it seems Sherry is in favour! This Sherry is mellow, with smooth caramel notes and makes for a nice evening tipple! Unfortunately I have lost my mini wine glass (bah humbug!) so I have used my bridesmaid martini glass for the shot! Maybe surprise a friend or relative this Christmas - I did spot its on offer in a few of the supermarkets right now!

Disclaimer: I was provided with the products for review and this is not a sponsored posting, all opinions remain the property of Anne's Kitchen

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Lovely Lindt Christmas Gift for Chocolate Lovers

Introducing...the Master Chocolatier Collection from Lindt!

Now as my dear readers know, I am a sucker for chocolate. Starting in order of preference with dark, moving to milk then white. Variety is the spice of life, and what a fabulous variety was found in my box of Lindt Master Chocolatier Collection! The only things I hate in chocolate is gooey or fondant stylee fillings but fortunately none hiding in this box!

This would make a fabulous Christmas present for any chocolate lover, there is something for everyone and me and B have been diligently ‘testing’ these out for you! Such hard work at times this blogging lark!! RRP £12.99 widely available.

In the box there are 30 chocolates, consisting of 15 pairs so sharing between a couple its relatively fair but B doesn't know I had the 2nd Almond truffle - it was soooo good! Other favourites were the Orange and Hazelnut praline and Tiramisu!

Many thanks to Clarion

Disclaimer: I was provided with the products for review and this is not a sponsored posting, all opinions remain the property of Anne's Kitchen

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Black Dog Deli review - Tomato Risotto

I really can't quite believe its Sunday already this week, I could do with cramming a few extra days in as its flown by! My eldest niece turned sweet sixteen during the week, and we had an impromptu pizza party with the aid of some flatbread's from the freezer and raiding the box of Christmas cheeses early, along with some gorgeous smoked Polish sausage - B has declared it his 2nd favourite meal after the Pork noodles I regularly make for him! Anyway I am looking at my list of half written blog posts and debating whats overdue first! And this lovely dinner we had a few weeks back won!

Prior to this particular Risotto,  I’d never bought a ready made dried risotto pack before, yes of course I had seen them, mostly in nice farm shops adorning the shelves but they often seemed a little pricey for what looked like in all honesty a bag of rice with a few herbs strewn in…but when Black Dog Deli got in touch about reviewing a few of their items included with their fabulous garlic olives was a said Tomato Risotto bag so now was the time to see if my opinion would stay the same.....
Inside the bag
It took a little while for the Risotto to make it onto the meal planner, as I kept thinking I needed to serve it up with something meaty on top but due to cost its quite rare we buy something in like lamb chops or a nice steak but the time had finally come where it was featured for a Friday night, and in my head of course I had mentioned to B to pick up some lamb steaks on the way home, as he had the car that day and I couldn’t get to the shops..  unfortunately B is not telepathic as hoped for and I was faced with coming up with an alternative.. which after a rummage in the fridge produced nothing however there were some garlic doughballs leftover from the previous night, and who can resist some carb on carb action?

So I simply cooked it as it was, at the end. And it was blinking gorgeous! Full of sweet, and earthy tomato flavour and ready in around 25 minutes with an odd stir here and there. No faffing about with sweating onions with tears it really was so simple to make. You start by heating a little oil, adding the packet, a good splosh of vino blanco (my last bargain bottle bought on my ferry back from Jersey this summer!) and some stock (I used a veggie stock pot): 

Simmer away whilst the remaining wine magically disappears...

Then at the very end adorning with a little diced butter and a handful of freshly grated parmesan:

And that's about it! A perfect, no faff but fabulous Friday night dinner! 

The only problem I have now is that most of the stockists are miles away from me so it will be a while before we meet again ........ but we will be on holiday with family at Christmas and only a few towns away from a stockist! Yippee! *However you can order online too!

Many thanks to the team at Mad As A March Hare Ltd for my samples!

Disclaimer: I was provided with the products for review and this is not a sponsored posting, all opinions remain the property of Anne's Kitchen

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Fennel Salami and Kale Lasagne

Possibly the finest Lasagne I have ever made or eaten. Even if you think hmm Fennel, ain't that liquorice? Then please don't leave me so soon - it has a slight aniseed taste and I promise its not a new variety of allsorts!! 

Okay so I admit its not beef, pork or veal based as such but I did use lasagne sheets and a sort of bechamel so I am stealing the name Lasagne for this beautiful creation! I used the translated name of fennel salami for those not fluent with Italian but its natural form is better known as Finnocchiona Negroni Salami, which no I can't pronounce it too good either. Even less after a glass of wine!

This delightful dish came about as sometimes I agree to being sent items to try, some turn are good, some turn out bad and some indifferent, and some that make you look at things in a whole new light! And with open arms I welcomed two rather large bags of Kale to experiment with! 

Initially I wondered what the hell to do with it, and more importantly would it taste nice. Well it does, I was so wrong. I had tried it I think boiled a few years back and was very unimpressed and never bothered again.... and I missed out on all the good times we could have shared! It turns out that boiled, yep ain't my thang but given some kitchen magic and voila! A star is born. Maybe I should make the Christmas tree from Kale this year?

The salami idea came about as I had popped into the local deli to get some awesome pasta for a friend that morning, which I had previously discovered (will blog soon!) and whilst waiting to pay I was admiring all the meats and cheeses and the idea of having something meaty with the iron rich Kale seemed like a great idea, and with my bad pronunciation I acquired 6 slices, though only needed 4 in the end , which was fortunate as I was er, testing it out...the mozzarella seemed like a good idea too so quickly grabbed that too! 

Anyway back to my new creation - I was forcing persuading B to help in the kitchen more, as he isn't very confident and whilst we didn't really weigh anything, I was trying to explain that the whole weighing things isn't essential - what's more important is to picture your finished dish and then work out by eye how much filling you will need. Obviously there are pesky things like spinach, and er Kale that like to reduce down rather well but they are just a nice little red herring to break the rules!

I'm not sure how much I succeeded in persuading him cooking can be fun but as I always tell newbies - don't be scared - nothing will bite unless you happen to have a lobster on the prowl behind the kitchen door! Have some fun, you never know - you could make something beautiful!

 Serves 2-4 depending on greed. If we had some nice leaves I.e. rocket could do 4 at the most.


85g kale, tough bits removed and roughly shredded by hand
1 ball mozzarella thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
150g finnocchiona Negroni Salami, sliced into 2 cm pieces
4 good quality lasagne sheets 
2tbsp cherry tomato puree
2 tbsp grated mature Cheddar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated parmesan
½ red chilli finely chopped
½ red pepper, sliced
10 baby plum tomatoes
1 large red onion. Halved and sliced thinly
1 tbsp pine nuts

White sauce
½ pint milk
appx 2 heaped tbsp butter
2 heaped tbsp flour
¼ pint spinach water
2 tbsp grated parmesan

Cover the lasagne sheets in boiling water. 
You will need a square dish that fits 2 sheets of the lasagne.

1) Boil the kale in a inch of salted boiling water for 3 minutes, reserve all the liquid in a jug.

2) Fry the onion until lightly browned, stir in the peppers and half of the tomatoes and fry for a further 3 minutes or so till they have a little colour and starting to soften. Stir in the garlic and chilli for a further minute.

3) Stir in the tomato puree and add a splash of the kale water to loosen if needed. Add the salami and cook for a further minute until it starts to brown

4) Stir in the kale and a couple of tablespoons of water to make a slightly sloppy sauce, cover and keep warm.

5) Heat the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the flour and whisk like mad to form a paste (roux), after a minute or so slowly stir in the spinach water, a little at a time whisking continuously as we don't want lumps! Then add the milk until you have a nice smooth sauce, simmer for a couple of minutes to cook the flour through, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat, season and stir in the parmesan. 

Pre-heat oven to 190o

6) Now its time to layer up! For the bottom layer, spoon over half of the kale/ salami mix, top with 2 lasagne sheets, spoon over half the bechamel sauce, and scatter over half the mozzarella slices and a little of the grated cheddar, repeat again to form the next and final layer. Place the tomatoes on top, then the pine nuts, parmesan and remaining cheddar.

7) Bake for around 45 minutes or until golden and bubbling, and piping hot. Poke with a knife to check the pasta is cooked through. (see my giant doughballs in the background!)

8) Serve and eat! We had the doughballs but as I mentionned earlier a nice crisp green salad would be good too.

The flavours were simply amazing, I dreamt about this! Meaty..a little spicy..silky comforting can't go wrong! It ticked all of our boxes! 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Meal Planning Monday

Oh my, Monday? Really?! Last week has simply flown by. Weekend vanished in between coffee with an old friend, a trip round a local Christmas fair, visiting relatives and then a rather lovely Sunday in Newbury, we hadn't been there before but a nice range of shops and enjoyed a rather tasty Black forest Hot chocolate. And I have nearly completed the present buying - thankfully - I saw my card balance and declared on twitter that Christmas is cancelled! We set limits this year but I went a bit off budget and treated mum to some concert tickets..can only blame myself really!

This week has already started - having been out I only just managed to plan now! Tonight's pizza was courtesy of the reduced cabinet - £1.25 from £5! We do like a bargain! I've scribbled down some ideas but still waiting to hear from family members over plans and so as always - subject to change!

Monday - Chargrilled vegetable pizza, topped with extra chorizo slices and cheese.

Tuesday - Chickpea eggah with green beans

Wednesday - Going for a Chinese with a girlfriend

Thursday - Possibly chorizo flatbread pizzas but may change to noodles

Friday - Home made beef burgers or Smoked cod rarebit

As always - my plan is over at Mrs M

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

On the first day of Christmas...Santa brought to me..a Patchwork Hamper!

Pate and crackers. It’s just one of those combinations that works. Dinner time? Not particularly hungry but needing something tasty? Pate and crackers it is! Fancy a snack? Its just the thing. I even had pate and crackers as a late breakfast the other morning… when you work shifts your whole concept of set meal times gets somewhat muddled!

I love hampers I will not lie, there is something quite special about receiving a parcel full of tasty treats from The Patchwork Traditional Food Company and I was very lucky that despite TNT’s best efforts to lose my parcel, I recently received a gorgeous little wooden crate with some lovely treats in –

Chicken Liver Pate with Apple and welsh cider
Chicken liver, apple and walnut pate
Apricot and orange chutney with Wychcraft ale
Apple chutney with Hobgoblin Ale
Organic Spelt Pat fingers with black pepper

Patchwork Pates are hand made lovingly in Wales, without any nasties in from a talented workforce to the founder Margaret’s original recipes. They sound like a nice bunch. Fancy a new recruit? Though Surrey to Wales is a long commute…

This Christmas we are sharing the big day with close friends and family and whilst most of us are having a classic but loved prawn cocktail for our starter, some non-prawn fans are having pate – and I think they will just love the pate with cider in!

There is still plenty of time to order your gifts, for loved ones or even yourself! I think they are very reasonably priced – my ‘hamper’ was sent to me for review purposes but retails at £20 (though is currently on sale at £18.50- even better value!)     

We particularly liked the black pepper oat fingers, just the right size for dunking! And we loved the Apple and Hobgoblin chutney. Mixed opinions on the Chicken Liver and walnut pate, was a little smooth for us but it comes down to personal taste - we rather like the more rough around the edges variety. Me and dad preferred the Chicken liver and Cider one, something which surprised me as not fond of cider but we liked the rosemary flavour that came through.

Many thanks to The Patchwork Traditional Food Company and Clare at Redhead PR.

Disclaimer - I received the hamper free of charge for review and all opinions 
are my own. And my dad's!

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