Monday, 20 October 2014

Rattle those pots and pans!

'Get out from that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans' - so says Bill Hayley in Shake, Rattle and Roll although how you are supposed to "roll my breakfast cos I'm a hungry man" if you get out from that kitchen, I have no idea.  Maybe he was planning on taking whoever was in the kitchen OUT for breakfast. What do you think?  No, I didn't think so either!

I won't be rattling these lovely new Viners Hard Anodised pots and pans at all, Hard anodised cookware is twice as hard as stainless steel making it extremely durable, non-stick with a long lifespan and scratch resistance. I will be admiring the sleek lines and brushed steel finish of my pans, peeping through the clear lid to see how my recipes are progressing and shouting hurrah because those lids have a little hole in them for the steam to escape.  My last pans didn't and I had to balance them on the handles causing water to condense on the inside and drip onto the hob.

The lovely pans come from Viners,  who I knew for their quality cutlery sets, but look a little closer and you will find that Viners Cook and Dine manufacture and distribute a wide range of cookware and tableware.

Viners was once the biggest cutlery manufacturer in England and traces its roots back to Sheffield – the home to stainless steel – where in 1906 Willie and Emile Viener set the company up. The company specialized in electroplated silver products and used its expertise to expand into a variety of categories including tea sets, trays, fine cutlery and kitchen knives. Later on they used their manufacturing expertise to develop ranges of stainless steel products.

Viners is not alone in the family, its sister brands include Mermaid and George Wilkinson bakeware which also boast a long and rich British heritage. Today, they have three factories in the U.K. with a tradition of over 180 years of manufacturing and employ nearly 300 people in order to bring a fine range of quality housewares to market and our set of trusted brands has grown to include largest manufacturer of glassware to the U.S. retail market – Anchor Hocking.




This set consists of: 
16cm Sauce Pan and Lid Dimensions; 160mm x 75mm Capacity: 1.5L 
18cm Sauce Pan and Lid Dimensions; 180mm x 85mm Capacity: 2L 
20cm Sauce Pan and Lid Dimensions; 200mm x 95mm Capacity: 3L
Made from hard anodised aluminium with stainless steel handles and black silicon grips for easy handling and suitable for ceramic, gas, halogen and radiant hobs
 

They also come with a 15 Year Viners Guarantee

The other great thing about Viners is that they have some really good deals. I've been signed up to their newsletter for some time and there are always lots of offers and deals on their products.  The High Street price for the Viners Hard Anodised 3 piece non-stick pan set  is £100 but there is a deal of 55% off bringing them down to £45 (at time of publishing)  which makes them really affordable.

You can follow Viners on Facebook  and Twitter too for news of their products and offers.

I was supplied with the non-stick pan set by Viners, I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own. 


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood at BBC Good Food Show Scotland 2014


Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were definitely the stars of the BBC Good Food Show Scotland this year. I attended the show on Friday 17th October, this was my first show in Scotland and the first time as a GFS Blogger, so let me tell you all about my experience.
Mary and Paul opening the show and at the Supertheatre
The show was opened by guess who?  Yes, Mary and Paul stepped up with the giant scissors to cut the ribbon and start the show.  They were also first up at the Supertheatre where they entertained the packed theatre with great recipes and the kind of banter that you have come to expect from watching The Great British Bake Off and the spin off  Masterclasses.

The Showguide and Recipe Collection
I was super-impressed by the Showguide and Recipe Collection.  Not only was it well laid out, with the floor plan and event timetables, featured right at the front, but it was also full of recipes featured in the shows and some extras too.  There was a full A-Z listing of all the producers and a product guide which was also helpful.

The Good Food Show Bloggers
One of the real pleasures of the day was the chance to catch up with the other Good Good Show Bloggers.  A special treat, and one of the main reasons I wanted to attend the show, was meeting Christina Conte of Christina's Cucina.  Christina and I have been friends through Facebook but, although Christina is of Scottish/Italian descent she lives in California, so we had never met in person. Christina was visiting the show as part of a series of events including the Scottish Baking Championships and The World Porridge Making Championships Speciality Award  which she won with her Sticky Toffee Pudding Porridge.  

Other BBC Good Food Show Bloggers in attendance on Friday included Rachel from A wee pinch of sugar, Emma from Food and Drink Glasgow, Michelle from Ananyah,  Paula from Get Stuffed, Julie from Breakfast at Julie's and Pam from Glasgow Food Geek.



Just a few of the producers at the BBC Good Food Show, Scotland clockwise from the top left Heck Food (fabulous sausages which previously featured at Farmersgirl Kitchen in some chorizo burgers I made from a Nigel Slater recipe); local to me in the SW of Scotland,  Waulkmill Cider from Langholm;  Seed and Bean Chocolate from Cornwall  and Award winning David's Chilli Oil.

Across the top:  sauces, mayonnaise, mutard chutney and relishes from Le Mesurier;  The Little Veg Company, a veg box delivery company in Glasgow and the West of Scotland;  Scotia Spice, authentic Punjabi Cookery School and Spice Kits and the bottom photo shows Gusto Artisan Foods purveyors of a wide range of oils and vinegars.


Once I knew I was going to the BBC Good Food Show, I was on a mission to get my 30+ year old Fast Cakes by Mary Berry signed by Queen Mary herself.  Although I have been baking since I was a child, this is the book that really gave me confidence to bake and also the understanding of baking to allow me to experiment and create my own cakes and bakes.

The rules for book signings are pretty strict and only certain books could be signed.  I saw one poor girl who had stood for 30 minutes turned away because she had a Bake Off Book rather than a Mary Berry book.  I bought Mary's latest book, Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect,  to be signed and given as a gift (that's why I'm not showing it here) and slid my old, cake batter splattered and scribbled on book underneath.  I was nervous as I approached the table, wondering if I would be refused the signature.  However, I need not have worried, as I handed over the new book, I explained about Fast Cakes and there was no problem at all.  Mary signed and gave me a big smile, then continued working her way through the long queue.

Janice meets Paul Hollwood
After the 2.30 pm Supertheatre show, the bloggers had the opportunity to go back stage for a photo opportunity with Paul Hollywood.  There was no opportunity to speak to Paul or to Mary, who was there only fleetingly, on her way to the Interview stage.  I have to say I was hugely impressed by Mary Berry's stamina, she had few breaks and still looked fresh - she is the ultimate professional.

Overall it was a great day out and I can thoroughly recommend it.  The Scottish show is over for this year, but there are still loads more BBC Good Food Shows that you can visit in the coming months.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Satay Kajang with Peanut Sauce

In 1983 we set off on the holiday of a lifetime, three weeks in Malaysia. We visited my sister-in-law who was teaching English in Taiping, this was fantastic as she knew how to get around, could speak the language and took us to eat in some fantastic places. Highlights of our culinary adventure were Roti Canai (pancake with curry sauce) for breakfast, a steamboat (stock bubbling in a pot over a charcoal burner, with seafood and vegetables you cook in it yourself) in a Chinese Malay restaurant, chilli crabs burning our fingers and lips on Pankor island and Nasi Goreng (fired rice) eaten cold as a picnic in the jungle national park, Taman Negara.

One of the first meals we ate out in Taiping was Satay, cooked at an open air street stall and charged by the stick! I'd never seen anything like it (remember it was 1983) and it tasted so good. Inevitably I came home with a cook book "Traditional Malaysian Cuisine".

I used it quite a lot when I returned home although many of the ingredients were still difficult to find. I was pleased when I saw that Chris from Cooking Around the World had chosen Malaysia as the country for Bloggers around the World this month, as it made me dig out this book and revisit this recipe:

Satay Kajang

1.5kg chicken fillet
1tsp cumin
1/2tsp powdered cinnamon
8 shallots
1tsp coriander
2.5cm piece of fresh turmeric or 1tsp dried turmeric
1tsp sugar
1 stalk lemongrass
2tbsp roasted peanuts
Salt to taste
2tbsp oil

1. Cube the chicken meat, drain and put aside.
2. grind coriander, cumin, turmeric, peanuts, salt and sugar. Mix this with the powdered cinnamon, diced shallots and 1tbsp oil.
3. Marinade the chicken in this mixture.
4. Using wooden skewers soaked for at least an hour in cold water, skewer 5 pieces of chicken on each skewer.
5. Grill over burning coals or under a hot grill, constantly sprinkling oil on the meat using crushed lemongrass.
6. Turn over and continue grilling until the chicken is cooked.
7. Serve with peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce

300g roasted peanuts
2.5cm piece of ginger
3tbsp pounded chillies
2 stalks lemongrass
1tbsp sugar
1 mild onion
1/2 cup tamarind juice (I used Tamarind sauce)
Salt to taste
1. Grind the peanuts. put aside.
2. Grind lemongrass and ginger until fine.
3. Slice onion and stir fry until soft
4. Add in ground chillies and other ground ingredients
5. Add in the tamarind juice and lastly peanuts, sugar and salt. Simmer until the gravy thickens.
6. To serve, arrange a few sticks of satay on a plate and serve with a bowl of peanut sauce, cucumber and sliced onion. Satay also goes very well with rice.

Pounded chillies, marinating chicken, tamarind sauce and peanut sauce.
I fried off some of the onions from the marinade before adding the rice, then double the volume of stock to rice. This made a tasty savoury pilaff to accompany the satay. It didn't disappoint, the flavours and textures compliment each other perfectly. If you haven't tried making Satay yourself, I hope you can see that it's really not too difficult and have a go!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Chocolate Pots

Simple recipes require the very best of ingredients. Chocolate Pots is a simple recipe and deserves  good chocolate as the main ingredient. I used Hadleigh Maid Dark Chocolate Buttons for Baking, which are made with care by a small family business based in Suffolk whose expertise and passion as chocolatiers, since 1976, goes into making chocolate buttons which are easy to melt, perfect for baking and still smooth enough for snacking.


CHOCOLATE POTS (makes 4)

300ml single cream
125g Hadleigh Maid Dark Chocolate Baking Buttons
1 egg
2 egg yolks
15g caster sugar
A little whipped cream or creme fraiche to decorate

1. Put the cream and chocolate buttons into a saucepan and gently heat, stirring frequently until the chocolate has. melted, do not boil.

2. Mix together the sugar, egg yolks and whole egg, then stir in the chocolate cream. Strain the mixture into a jug then fill 4 small ramekins or small ovenproof cups.

3. Preheat the oven to 150C, place the ramekins in a roasting tin and fill around them with boiled water from the kettle up to about 1cm.

4. Bake for about an hour until lightly set, they should still wobble slightly.

5. Leave to cool, then chill for at least an hour. To serve, top with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

You can easily double or treble this recipe for a larger gathering and it makes a perfect dinner party dessert because you can make it before hand and leave chilling in the fridge.

I found that the Hadleigh Maid Dark Chocolate Buttons melted smoothly and quickly in the cream. The flavour of the chocolate is rich but not bitter and  it retained it's character after baking into the little pots of chocolate dessert  which were rich and creamy but not over sweet or cloying.

Hadleigh Maid Baking Buttons come in 350g bags, in three varieties: white, milk and dark chocolate. I tried all three and they were all easy to use, high quality, honestly made and crafted with integrity. They also come in a handy bag which is easy to fold down and reseal.

If you would like to try these buttons yourself, I can thoroughly recommend them, and although currently not stocked all over the UK (stockists),  the good news is that from mid November you can buy them online direct from Hadleigh Maid RRP £3.50 for 350g bag.

There are lots more chocolate options on the website including boxes, slabs and walnut whirls. Hadleigh Maid are also about to launch a personalisation tool, meaning users will be able to upload an image which will be printed on a bar or box of chocolates. Great for corporate gifts or wedding favours.


With Halloween and half-term upon us, why don't you get involved?  Upload your creations to the Hadleigh Maid Facebook page to inspire others and also the chance to win prizes


I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post


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Friday, 10 October 2014

Sweet Apple Slices for Random Recipes #44


I've been a bad, bad girl. It's been such a long time since I've played at Random Recipes with my friend Dominic from Belleau Kitchen and I feel bad about that because it's one of the most fun blog challenges and has led me to make some interesting recipes and to use cook books that have lain unopened on the shelves for years.
So to make up for that my Random Recipe #44 'something sweet - random internet search', is a bit of an apple for the teacher. As my usual way of finding recipes is to go to that great big search engine in the sky and see what delights it offers me, this was a breeze - I searched for something sweet with apples.  Sweet Apple Slices was the first recipe that caught my eye, slices of apple cooked briefly in a simple syrup and baked in a low oven.

Of course, the rules of Random Recipes state that I should stick to the recipe, but I'm trying to cut back on sugar, so I thought I'd try and make them less sweet. I sliced the apple on a mandoline and laid out the slices on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, then sprinkled them with caster sugar and baked at 200C for about 4-5 minutes until the edges started to curl.
The apple slices were crisp at the edges but still slightly soft in the middle with a thin layer of caramelised sugar on top. I ate them right away and they were really good, the apple flavour was intensified by the heat and caramelisation.  I don't think they would keep very long, but they do look pretty, don't you think?

I'm hoping my apple for the teacher will endear me to Dom enough for him to include my variation on a recipe in Random Recipes #44, that and the fact that I changed the whole of the Slow Cooker/Cooked Challenge to allow him to participate without a Slow Cooker!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Calling all budding Bake Off contestants - Mich Turner's Cake School


I've learned so much watching the Great British Bake Off.  It's clear that the bakers who excel on the Bake Off generally have a lot of knowledge and experience of a wide range of baking techniques and this gets them through, not only the bakes they have practiced, but more importantly, brings success in the technical challenges.

If you wanted to prepare yourself for Bake Off then learning the techniques in Mich Turner's Cake School would be a good place to start.  Although there are many recipes in the book, the real value comes from the step by step tutorials which teach the principles of cake making.

About the author

Mich Turner's Cake School

Lesson 1 - Making and Baking Cakes starts with the basics in a chapter about ingredients: sugars, flours, fats, eggs, spices, flavours and alcohols and other ingredients, each section with helpful tips from Mich.

Preparation comes next with tutorials on lining cake tins and removing cakes from various tins.

Then on to the different Cake-baking Methods. The Creamed Cake Method is a classic and Mich shows you how to create a perfect cake and also shows you how to test that your cake is ready. This is followed by a full page of  images of  cakes that have gone wrong, with clear explanations of what is likely to make your cake e.g. sink in the middle, bulge at the sides etc.  Recipes follow for Heavenly Vanilla Cake, Pineapple Upside Down Cake and Courgette Pecan Loaf.

The Whisked Cake Method is one of those I tend to avoid as these delicate cakes are slightly more temperamental, but the clear picture instructions are tempting me to have a go, especially with recipes like Coffee Hazelnut Roulade, Chocolate Cherry Genoise  and a beautiful Orange and Almond Cake.

The Batter and Foam Method is another one that I have used only infrequently, there are more steps to this cake method but the cakes turn out light and airy and make a great carrier for additional flavourings, they can also be refrigerated without drying due to using oil rather than butter.  I certainly would like to try to make the Orange Chiffon Cake or a Beetroot Cake. 

Back on familiar ground with the All-in-one Method, I've never had any trouble with it but I know some people do find it more difficult to get good results than the Creamed Cake Method, I am sorely tempted by the Marble Cake with a coffee glaze and the Coconut Cake made with creamed coconut.

The Melted Method is another with which I am very familiar, and Mich uses it to showcase a sticky Treacle Gingerbread, a Luxury Fruit Cake,  Sweet Potato Cake and Banana and Pecan Cake.

Cake Conversion tables are included covering a wide range of sizes for three of Mich's cakes.
There are also chapters on different fillings, icing and decorating all with fabulous photographs and clear instructions.


Lesson 2 is about Putting it all Together with fillings and frosting, fruit purees, citrus curds, sauces and cream based fillings.  Recipes include Lime and Pistachio Roulade with Creme Chantilly, Hazelnut Praline, Honeycomb and the gloriously rich Darina Kelly's Rum and Raisin Chocolate Biscuit Cake.  Recipes are provided for a Dark Chocolate and a White Chocolate Ganache  as well as the ubiquitous Vanilla buttercream.  As you can see in the photo above you also get instructions for How to Skim Coat a cake.

There is information about applying a ganache and piping with buttercream and various nozzles to create different effects, once you have had a practice you will be ready to recreate the Raspberry Rose Cake, with its rose-like swirls of pink buttercream.

Recipes and techniques for Glace Icing, Italian Meringue, Swiss meringue buttercream,  and Royal Icing are all provided.  Then we are on to preparing marzipan/almond paste and covering a cake with it. Interestingly Mich doesn't make her own sugar paste (are you listening Mary Berry!) but she does colour it herself giving full instructions for this and covering a cake and the board with sugar paste.

She does however make her own 'fondant' this is a covering icing such as you would find on a fondant fancy. If you have plans to make a tiered celebration cake such as a Wedding Cake, then the instructions on how to make Royal Icing,   stacking cakes, using pillars and blocking are all explained.

Lesson 3 is all about Decorating 
There is a lot about piping with Royal Icing and some absolutely stunning looking cakes, my favourite was the Brush embroidery technique, if I have time, I might do this on my Christmas Cake this year.

As well as the techniques, Mich provides some outstanding examples of celebration cakes decorated with piping.

The final chapters cover hand moulding from a simple chocolate sugar paste rose to the most incredible, delicate Glorioso Lily.  There are even some ideas for special cookies  and for hand painting on sugar paste cakes.  Templates are provided for some of the designs, finishing with a list of tools and suppliers.

Who is it for? 
Anyone who would like to learn to bake or improve their repertoire of cakes and bakes.

Pros
Detailed step-by-step instructions with lots of excellent photographs, so you know exactly what your cake should look like at every stage.  Some really delicious looking recipes and some good basics which, once you have mastered the techniques and understood how the bakes work, can become the basis for you to start to experiment with your own flavours.

Cons
There really are no Cons.  The book does what it says it will, which is to provide you with a personal Cake School experience and I think it really does do that.

I haven't had the chance to make any of the recipes yet, however I have quite a few bookmarked and having read this book I feel more confident about trying or re-trying some of the different techniques that Mich explains so well.

If you would like a copy of Mich Turner's Cake School  you can order a copy at the discounted price of £24.00 incl P&P (RRP £30.00) telephone 01903 828503 or email mailorders@lbsltd.co.uk and quote the offer code APG212. 
*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.


Mich Turner's Cake School
Author: Mich Turner MBE
Photography by: Amanda Heywood
is  published by Jacqui Small www.jacquismallpub.com (@JacquiSmallPub)

Monday, 6 October 2014

Cranberry Flaxseed Scones - Top with Cinnamon


Cranberry Flaxseed Scones
Izy Hossack isn't your regular 18 year old.  Since her early teens she has been developing delicious recipes and styling and photographing them with a flair well beyond her years and recording it all on her blog Top with Cinnamon, her site has received international attention and was shortlisted in Saveur Best Food Blog Awards 2013.



Izy has compiled a collection of her favourite recipes for all occasions in her debut cookbook, Top with Cinnamon.  Here she showcases her impressive skill for food photography and styling as well as her natural ability to produced delicious, wholesome recipes.  Featuring some gluten-free recipes and healthy options, as well as step-by-step how-to;s, Top with Cinnamon has something to suit everyone - this is approachable, flavoursome home cooking with a modern fresh twist.

Here's a taste of what's in Top with Cinnamon:

Breakfast includes Coconut Berry Pancakes, Cornbread with Cinnamon Sugar, Cranberry and Flaxseed Scones (see below)  and Wholemeal Maple Pecan Buns.

Sides features Chickpea and Pomegranate Dip, Squash Feta and Sage Focaccia, Courgette 'Spaghetti' with Chilli and Sweet and Spicy Roasted Chickpeas (see these at FabFood4All) and Baked Rosemary Polenta Chips.

Mains covers a wide range of dishes including Sweet Potato and Shredded Beef Chilli, Crispy Augergine with Kale Pesto Fettuccine, Griddled ChickenSalad and Caramelised Onion Thyme and Bean Pot Pies

Sweet Snacks is full of recipes for lovely treats like Rainbow Biscotti Cubes, Spanish Olive oil Tortas and Malted Pumpkin Gingerbread.

More sweetness in the Desserts chapter and Izy brings us Boozy Mocha Coconut Layer Cake, Crustless Plum and Almond Tart, Sticky Banoffee Cake with Salted Caramel and a seasonal pear, Frangipane and Caramel Tartlets.

The final chapter is a useful 'Staples and How To's' offering with pastries, doughs, butters and sauces and a couple of step-by-step instructions.

Who is it for? 
This is a difficult book to categorise it would interest anyone with an interest in vegan, gluten-free and healthy options.  However, there are meat based recipes and sweet treats too.  I do think any cook or baker would learn from Izy's creativity.

Pros
There are a wide range of recipes for all occasions, they are not difficult to make but often slightly quirky or with less usual ingredients, there are also some classics with a twist. Izy brings a lot of originality to her recipes.

Cons
The photographs have a bit of a sepia feel which, I felt, didn't do the dishes justice and made everything look alike.

I love a freshly baked scone, so was intrigued by this recipe for Cranberry Flaxseed Scones.  If I were making these scones again, I would use slightly less milk as the mixture was quite wet.  The scones were very tasty and perfect with the molasses butter which is also featured in the book.


Cranberry Flaxseed Scones (makes 9)

250g (9oz/2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
4 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
110g (3 3/4oz / 1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cubed
80g (2 3/4 oz / 1/2 cup) dried cranberries
1 egg
125ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) buttermilk, plus a little extra for brushing
50g (2 o\/ 1/4 cup) demerara (raw) sugar, for topping
 Serve with Salted Treacle Butter


1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4)
2. Line a baking tray with baking parchment
3. Place the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and stir together.  Add the cubes of butter and use your fingertips to rub into the dry ingredients, leaving some pea-sized chunks of butter.  You'll have a moist mealy mixture.
4. Stir in the cranberries then make a well in the middle and add the egg and buttermilk.  Stir together until just combined.
5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times, then roll it into a square 2 cm (3/4in) thick.
6. Cut into 9 squares using a sharp knife, then transfer the squares to the lined baking tray, placing them 2.5cm (1in) apart.
7. Brush the tops o the scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with demerara sugar.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and risen. Serve with salted treacle butter.


Top with Cinnamon
Author: Izy Hossack
Publisher: Hardie Grant Books
RRP: £20

I was sent a copy of Top with Cinnamon to review, I was not paid for the review and all opinions are my own. 
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