Sunday, 11 February 2018

Lettuce and Pea Soup

I can't wait for the slightly warmer Spring months to arrive so I can eat lighter and refreshing dishes. But  as it's freezing outside, I'll settle on eating hearty and filling soups. When it's cold and crisp outside, I really need something to warm me up, especially at lunch time. 
I regularly look for inspiration when making soup as I find eating the same flavour soups on a regular basis can become boring. I found a recipe for lettuce soup from one of the first cookbooks I brought around 10 years ago, BBC Good Food Low Fat Feasts. I did not know that lettuce could be used to cook with or to use as an ingredient in a soup, but the lettuce flavour added a warmth  and mellow flavour to the soup. I added peas as well as I wanted to add another vegetable serving. The recipe serves 8, but as I made this for myself, I froze half the soup in containers and was perfect for lunch a few weeks later.

Takes 40 minutes, serves 8 

25g butter
1 onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove
450ml vegetable stock
100g frozen peas
2 fresh lettuces, finely sliced
225ml milk
a little nutmeg
double and snipped chives, to serve

Melt the butter in a large casserole with a lid, then stir in the onion, potato and garlic. Add the stock,  frozen peas, season and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potato is tender.
Add the lettuce and cook, covered or 3-4 minutes until the stock returns to the boil and the lettuces are semi-wiltered.
Liquidise, then return to the pan with the milk. Season, add a pinch of nutmeg and serve with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of chives.


Saturday, 10 February 2018

Stellar Electric Wok Review

A few weeks back I received one of the latest products from leading kitchenware suppliers Stellar, an electric wok. I was very intrigued to review an electric wok as I've never seen one before. The new Stellar Electric Wok, is much more than a wok. The 35cm diameter makes it perfect for entertaining and is easy use in the kitchen and large enough to easily prepare a stir fry for a family of over 4. The wok is also non stick which ensures easy clean up and as it has large carrying handles,  once the power cord is detached you can serve straight to the table.

The Stellar Electric Wok has variable heat temperatures from level 1 = 90C to level 5 190C and it achieves the high temperatures associated with traditional wok cooking. I found the wok incredibly versatile as it can be used to shallow fry, braise and stew. So far, I've made a stir fry as expected and everything cooked incredibly quickly. I have also used the electric wok to make a one pot African dish, jollof rice. The typical selling price is about £50 but shop around you may find it cheaper. It's available here. I think this wok is worth every penny and make a great investment piece.

Other great facts about the electric wok is:

  • Fast - Circular heating element for a quick, even heat
  • Vented glass lid - Allows you to steam your food.
  • Cook then serve at the table, thanks to the detachable cable and cool to touch handle. 
  • Easy to clean
  • 2 year domestic electric guarantee. 

Disclaimer: I was kindly sent the electric wok by Stellar for review purposes.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

January 2018 Monthly Eatings

January was another busy month food wise. I checked out restaurants in Shropshire,  Worcestershire,  and Staffordshire.
Shifnal Balti - Shropshire

Giraffes - Manchester

Hickory Smokehouse - Kidderminster

Bear Grill - Stafford

The Bridgewater Arms


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Steak and Guinness Pie

I absolutely love pies, nothing is more comforting than a steaming homemade pie on these cold dark nights. I love the versatility in pie fillings from a light and fresh filling to something hearty like the recipe I will be sharing. Steak and Guinness Pie, has a lovely Irish twist on a traditional Steak Pie - the addition of Guinness adds an intense warmth flavour. The steak is slow cooked in the oven for a few hours which makes the meat tender and full of flavour. Although this pie isn't a 30 minute wonder, as the oven does the hard work for you, once the meat browns, you can sit back and relax. A perfect dish to make over the weekend. 

Recipe from Leiths How to Cook

1 packet puff pastry (extra flour to dust)
1 egg

For the filling

1 onion
3 tbsp olive oil
handful mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary and oregano
1kg beef chuck steak
450ml Guinness
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 tsp butter, softened and mixed with 2 tsp flour, if needed
freshly ground black pepper

  1. For the filling, halve and peel the onion and cut each half into 4 wedges. Place in a medium flameproof casserole or ovenproof pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, cover, ideally with a cartouche, and sweat over a low heat until soft and translucent but not taking on any colour.
  2. Meanwhile, finely chop enough herb leaves to give you 1–2 tablespoons and set aside. Trim off any excess fat and sinew from the beef and cut it into 2–3 cm cubes.
  3. Heat the oven to 150°C.
  4. Once the onion is soft, remove it from the pan and set aside. Brown the meat in batches in the pan, using as much of the remaining oil as necessary and deglazing with a little water after each batch.
  5. Return the onion to the pan and add the Guinness, tomatoes, chopped mixed herbs, bay leaf and some salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Return all the meat to the pan and add a little water if the meat is not covered.
  6. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook gently for 2–2½ hours, or until the beef is tender. To check, remove a piece of beef; you should be able to cut through it with the side of a fork or spoon.
  7. Remove from the oven and drain the cooking liquid into a small pan. Discard the bay leaf, then taste and reduce the sauce, if necessary, to a consistency that lightly clings to the meat and a good concentration of flavour. If the sauce needs thickening, use a little beurre maniƩ (the butter and flour mixture).
  8. Add the beef back to the sauce and transfer to a lipped pie dish, ensuring the filling fills the dish generously. Use a pie funnel if necessary. Leave to cool completely.
  9. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 3 mm thick and 3 cm bigger all round than the pie dish. Cut off strips that together will line the lip of the pie dish. Lightly beat the egg with a very small pinch of salt, using a fork, then pass through a sieve into a bowl.
  10. Press the pastry strips onto the dish lip and brush with a little beaten egg. Carefully lift the pastry rectangle on top and press gently over the lip, to join the edges. Trim off the excess pastry and cut up the sides. Place 2 fingers lightly on the edge of the pastry and draw the back of a cutlery knife between your fingers and upwards, to create a scalloped effect. Make a hole in the centre of the lid to allow steam to escape. Cut out leaves or decorations from the pastry trimmings, if desired, and stick to the pie lid with beaten egg. Glaze the pastry with the beaten egg. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm the pastry. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C.
  11. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg again. Bake the pie in the top of the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until the pastry is well risen and golden and the filling is piping hot when tested with a skewer.


Friday, 26 January 2018

The Salted Caramel Chocolate Hamper by Hotel Chocolat

What is a better way to say "I love you" to the one you love on Valentines Day then with a chocolate hamper. I adore chocolates especially luxury chocolates from Hotel Chocolat. New to the Valentines Day chocolate gift ideas is The Salted Caramel Chocolate Hamper, retailing at £25. This perfectly packaged elegant hamper includes some salted caramel favourites includes.

  • Salted Caramel Chocolate Puddles
  • Salted Caramel & Pecan Chocolate Spread
  • 50ml Sated Caramel Vodka Liqueur
  • Salted Caramel Shortbread
  • Caramel Cheesecakes Selector
  • Salted Caramel Hot Chocolat   

Each chocolate has a dash of sea salt which lifts the caramel chocolate recipe and bring out the deep maltiness and notes of dulce de leche. I particularly enjoyed demolishing the Salted Caramel Chocolate Puddles and the Caramel Cheesecakes Selector.
There are a range of other Valentine Day gift ideas on the Hotel Chocolat website if you want to treat yourself to something extra.

The lovely people at Hotel Chocolate are giving one lucky reader The Salted Caramel Chocolat Hamper. To be in with a chance, follow the below instructions.

  • Leave a comment on my blog (This is an Essential Requirement) 
  • For additional entries, join my blog (left hand side via Google Friend Connector), follow me on Instagram, Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter
  • All entries will be checked and verified
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will run from 26.1.18 - 6.2.18
  • The winner will need to respond in 2 working days. 
  • The competition is open to UK residents aged 18 and over.
  • Hotel chocolate will post the chocolate to the winner. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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