Friday, 28 November 2014

Tefal Optigrill, Xmas giveaway

A few months ago I shared my review of the wonderful, innovative Tefal Optigrill product.  If you have read my blog post (I hope many of you have) you would realise how  fabulous I found this product and how I enjoyed cooking different meats and vegetables. You probably have seen the advertisements of this superb product in the evening (in between the soaps) and for many foodies, this would be the ideal present to receive. Since my previous post, I have cooked a couple of more  foodie items on my Optigrill since I last blogged such as :plantain, gourmet burgers and beef strips. I have to confess, I am in love with this product, often tweeting my latest creations which is probably why the lovely people at Tefal are offering one of my readers the ideal Christmas present, the Optigrill. The sleek black design is new (for the future lucky winner) and is one of the most stylish kitchen products I have seen. The recommended retail value for the Optigrill is £149.99, so enter in my giveaway for a chance for this to land on your kitchen service.
Optigrill

Optigrill

Optigrill

If you want to enter my giveaway, please follow the below instructions and enter the Rafflecopter
  • Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget.
  • Join my blog (click on the left hand-corner of the site and join using the Google Friend Connector, leave a comment on my blog. These are ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS).
  • For additional entries, Like my Facebook page, follow foodgloriousfoodx and Tefal on Twitter and Google +
  • All entries will be checked and verified.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competiotn will run from 29.11.14 - 10.11.14
  • Winners will need to respond in 2 days (due to the Christmas period)
  • Tefal will dispatch the items. 
  • The competition is open to UK residents only.
  • a Rafflecopter giveaway
xxx

Valerie Cooper, you are the lucky winner. Please get in touch :-) x 
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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Hotel Chocolat, Review and Giveaway

I love chocolate. No, I really love chocolate, I'm bordering on being addicted, but that it is not such a bad thing, is it? This is the perfect season to indulge on chocolate treats, especially gourmet chocolates and if ever there was an excuse to go luxurious on chocolates it is now, after all it is the season to be giving (and especially to yourself).  Hotel Chocolat is one of the ultimate "go to brands" for luxurious chocolates and they have been gracing our high streets for over 10 years, tempting us to buy there goodies.  
You know how I love to share with you all the wonderful treats that arrive on my kitchen/dining room table, I had to share the lovely selection of chocolates that were recently sent to me by Hotel Chocolat and as always I was happy to try. First product I reviewed was the Christmas Chocolate Box Sleekster . There are in total 28 chocolates  a combination of white, high-cocoa milk and dark chocolate filled with 16 festive flavours. Some of my favourite flavours include: Vanilla Bell, Christmas Eton Mess, Caramel Supernova, Champagne Truffle and Berry Christmas.I tried several of these chocolates including the Vanilla Bell, Praline Supernova and Gingerbread truffle. The chocolates were velvety, rich, creamy oh and festive. I was impressed by the different Christmas shapes of the chocolates such as the chocolate stars, milk and white chocolate Christmas trees,  The packaging would make a suitable Christmas gift, the sleek red box, These were far superior to other chocolates I have tried and would recommend to bring these glorious goodies out for when guests come round during the festive season or when (those who you that have) children go to bed. 
Chocolate Box Sleekster


And just to prove that they look just as good in "the flesh", here are my close up pictures.
Chocolate Box Sleekster 

Chocolate Box Sleekster

Chocolate Box Sleekster

My favourite chocolates.

My favourite Chocolates
Oh, the sleek packaging.

Chocolate Box Sleekster

Although I am no longer a child (we all have to grow up don't we?) I love and continue with the Christmas traditions from my childhood during this season. This  includes advent calendars, or as I now like to refers to them as "Grown up advent calendars". Hotel Chocolat's advent calendars are perfect for both adult and child alike, available online, each mini chocolate is shaped perfect for the season and are a combination of milk and dark chocolate. These can be also picked up in-store and would be the ideal way to kick start December. I showed some restraint by not demolishing the lot, in one go. I urge you to do the same. 
Avent calendar

Chocolate slabs, chocolate barks, anything chocolate, as stated earlier on in the post I'm sold and these cute, Chocolate Robin Festive Tweet adorable chocolate slab in the shape of a Robin is a wonderful festive treat. Retailing at only £5, these cute mini parcels make an ideal stocking filler or Secret Santa.

Now, the lovely people at Hotel Chocolat know how much readers of my blog love chocolate and kindly offered to giveaway two of their products. They are offering one reader a packet of lovely Tiddly Penguins and Tiddly Reindeers.  These will come just in time before the well celebrated week and will be perfect when a quick festive chocolate treat is required. 

Tiddly Penguins
Tiddly Reindeer.

If you want to enter my giveaway, please follow the below instructions and enter the Rafflecopter.

  • Follow the instructions on the rafflecopter widget
  • Join my blog (click on the left hand corner of the site and join using Google Friend Connector, leave a comment on my blog These are ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS. 
  • For additional entries, Like my Facebook page. follow foodgloriousfoodx on Twitter, Hotel Chocolat and Google +
  • All entries will be checked and verified.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random. 
  • The competition will run from 27.11.14 - 15.12.14.
  • Winner will need to respond within 3 days (due to the Christmas period)
  • Hotel Chocolat will dispatch the items
  • The competition is open to UK residents only. 
xxx

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

MSC Divina and Caribbean islands

I love reminiscing about holidays and all the memories that I have, good and bad. I recently went on a cruise, this was my second cruise but my first big cruise. Back in 2012 I went on a mini P & O cruise to Belgium and Guernsey. But this cruise,  by MSC, for those who want to know stands for (Mediterranean Shipping Country) I visited numerous Caribbean islands. I said adios to the West Midlands and Ola to the East and West Caribbean islands: Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Mexico, Bahamas, Miami, St Marten, Puerto Rico and Grand Turk. 
What I did not realise at the time of booking is that MSC cruises is an Italian cruise line, so there was lots of Italian food, which during week 1 is fabulous, not so great for week 2. There are seated allocation for the two main restaurants on board MSC Divina: The Black Crab and Le Muse. There were several other speciality restaurants including Eataly steakhouse and Ristourante Italia. These speciality restaurants came at a cost, the same as a normal a la carte restaurant so, in my opinion did not represent value for money.
As time is of the essence, I was in two minds on what to review on my blog, should I review every island and my experience there and bypass my experience on the cruise. Or should I share my experience on MSC cruise and limit the time given to the beautiful Caribbean islands. I've come up with a wonderful solution to this, which is share the food on the cruise ship, alongside food whilst visiting the islands. With the occasional beach snap just for good measure.
Here are some of my favourite dishes served on MSC Divina. These include: waffles, scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, spaghetti cabonara, chicken and ribs, smoked salmon and bagels.

Food MSC Divina


Food MSC Divina


Food MSC Divina

Of course, the whole idea of cruises is to visit different places during one holiday and on this cruise, wake up in a different place every day. I had to go traditional when in Jamaica and when I visited the popular fast food chain Island Grill ordered jerk chicken, rice and peas, fried festival and salad. A trip to the Grand Cayman, I decided to continue with somewhat of a traditional theme ordering jerk chicken wraps instead of the burgers that were on offer. 
Jerk chicken


Chicken wraps


Cayman coconuts
I've held a strong view of what Mexican food is like and what better way of trying traditional Mexican fare by ordering a Mexican platter in Mexico. My Mexican platter consisted of steak, chicken, fish, tortillas, guacamole and a spicy habernero sauce on the side.
Mexican platter



The Bahamas, Great Stirup Cay was a private island and the food served on this island was provided by the catering staff on the cruise ship. I do wish there was an opportunity to sample traditional Bahamian food, but unfortunately it was not to be.
The following day, I had a culinary delight in Miami. Visited a restaurant in Little Havana to have some cappuccino to keep up my strength, followed by a trip to Buba Gump shrimp company. Anyone who has watched Forest Grump will know the history of the link between Buba Gump shrimp company and the film.



Fried chicken, mash potato and corn on the cob.

Next up St Marteen the half French and half Dutch island. I visited Big Woodside Grill, beachfront restaurant. The restaurant menu consisted lots of lobster specials which as much as I love, felt was a bit too indulgent for lunch so I chose the more familiar BBQ chicken with rice and salad.


BBQ chicken with rice
The penultimate island stop was Puerto Rico. Due to a delay in the excursion times, there was insufficient time to visit a restaurant for lunch. I did manage to quickly buy the most amazing chicken empanada for 2 dollars.

Grand Turk Coconut




Grand Turk
xxx
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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Raddison Blue, Harvester, Griffaes, My stay at Heathrow

Followers of my Twitter and Facebook page would be aware that I have recently returned from my annual holiday to the Caribbean. I have enjoyed sharing  photos of beautiful pictures of the beaches sunsets, food and pictures on the cruise liner, MSC Divina. When I go on holiday there is a lot of preparation that needs to be completed and as I was flying from Heathrow instead of an airport in the Midlands, for me the extra distance required better planning. Usually, I just drive to the airport on the day of the flight but as Heathrow is 2 hours away from my home and the M40 and M25 can be notorious for traffic, I decided to stay in a hotel the night before. I found there were a lot of choice with hotels but I was specifically looking for a package which included airport parking alongside hotel and free transfers to the hotel. 
I found a handy website APH where I could view the different hotel packages which was incredibly handy.There was so much choice for hotels, but I decided on Raddison Blu Edwardian partly, because I had heard of the Raddison brand before but the package was very reasonable at only £130 for one night stay including car parking for 2 weeks and free transfers. Driving up to the hotel I was impressed by the bold "Raddison Blu". I didn't realise how huge the hotel was and how grand the reception area was until I arrived. Clad in chandeliers and a sweeping staircase, the reception area was breathtaking. The reception staff were exceptionally helpful and incredibly polite and much to my delight, although I booked a standard bedroom,  I was upgraded to a Deluxe King size bedroom. This gave me a larger bed, seating area and bathrobes alongside the standard mini bar, iron and trouser press, tea and coffee making faciiaties and complimentary wi-fi. For those who do not fancy leaving the hotel before their flight to the exotic, the hotel boasts 3 restaurants Annayu (Indian cuisine), Trunk bar and restaurant and Bijou restaurant.

Here are some of the few snaps I took whilst at the hotel.
Raddison

I liked the personal touch that was offered at the hotel, such a special greeting when I turned on the television.
Raddison

The beautiful decorations throughout the hotel and the spacious room was also an added touch which is a far superior 4 star hotel.
Raddison

Raddison

Raddison

For dinner, I opted for good ol British family restaurant. Not that there was anything wrong with the restaurant, I would hope to visit, next time I stay in the restaurant. The Harvester is a well established chain of restaurants which is renowned for their flame grill meat dishes. Harvester Ashford was only 3 miles from the hotel and was on route to a supermarket where I could buy my supplies of squeezy squash. I chose the £9.99 deal which includes: unlimited salad, a selected main, unlimited soft drink and a sundae best! Such an unbelievable bargain, I started with the famous salad bowl and piled the bowl high with my favourite items: pasta, potato salad, carrots, beetroot, peppers, sultanas and topped with honey and mustard dressing. I also ordered the piri piri chicken with fries and corn on the cob. I was surprised that this was a new item on the menu, as piri piri has been around some time. The piri piri was delicious, the piri piri sauce was served on the side which was perfect for me drenching the sauce on. My amigo chose the chicken and ribs  combo (£8.59) which was reported to be seasoned well, the meat succulent and the portion size adequate. The ice-cream sundae was the perfect sweet dessert after the salads and piri piri chicken. I did not fancy a pudding which was particular heavy and the toffee sundae was refreshing, creamy and smooth. 
Salad bowl
Piri Piri chicken
                                            
                                                   Chicken and ribs

Sundae

My meal at the harvester

The day of me flying out to Miami I was on the prowl for a restaurant that sells breakfast. If I ate at the hotel, it would be too early and not knowing when I will be served food on my flight with British Airways, I decided to scour Terminal 5 for restaurants. I found a lovely restaurant, Giraffes. Initially, I thought Giraffes were the same chain of Brazillian restaurants, which I enjoyed in Rio, however found this to be a completely different Giraffes. I chose the BLT sandwich (£6.75), mainly because it only contained 400 calories, but this good work was ruined as I added some delicious crispy potato wedges (£1.75), to help me keep my strength. My amigo chose the Breakfast Plate (£9.95) which is essentially a Full English. A side order of toast (£2.25) was ordered but not necessary as the breakfast plate was incredibly filling. For drinks, large capuchino (£2.60) and tea (£2.00) were ordered which went down a treat. All in all, this was a wonderful restaurant to visit before a long haul flights. The staff were friendly and they aimed to get each order on your table within 15 minutes. 

Giraffe

Giraffe

BLT sandwich

Breakfast plate.


Disclaimer: I thought I would share my recent stay at Heathrow. I was not paid to do this post, all opinions as always are my own.

xxx

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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Cheesecaklets

Nigella Lawson boldly declares these pancakes as "old-fashioned cheesecake-flavoured pancakes". I, however am unable to comment what old-fashioned cheesecake flavoured pancakes taste like, as I have never tried this particular dish before. As always, I love searching out new recipes for my weekend breakfast, these cheesecaklets caught my eye. I  was intrigued by the use of cottage cheese in pancakes and having a quick glance over the ingredients I realised if I made this, they would be nowhere near as calorific as other pancakes. I tweaked the ingredients a bit, which is one of the beauty of cooking and recreating your own recipes. I used cottage cheese with pineapple and instead of the strawberries, I replaced this with tinned pears. Unfortunately strawberries are not in season but the pears perfectly fit the bill.
These cheesecaklets or sweet cheese pancakes as I like to call them were incredibly easy to make. They were a bit weird looking in term of mixture but when the mixture hit the scorching hot frying pan they began to take a robust form. They cook super quick so do keep an eye on the pancake. The flavours really come through, they are bits of pineapple popping through alongside the subtly of vanilla extract. I would also recommend this as the pancakes, when stacked up high are incredibly filling.
Here is how my cheeselaklets turned out:
Cheesecaklets

Cheesecaklets


Recipe for Cheesecaklets
For the pancakes
3 eggs
2 tbsp caster sugar
225 cottage cheese
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To eat with
250 g strawberries (I used pears, which were tinned)
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 - 1 teaspoon caster sugar

Method
Start with the fruit, just so that it can macerate while you make the pancakes. Depending on their size, chop the strawberries into quarters, sprinkle over the balsamic vinegar and sugar and swirl the bowl about a bit so the strawberries are coated before covering with cling film and leave to steep while you set about making your cheesecakes.
Separate the eggs. Mix the yolks with sugar, beating well. Add the cottage cheese, flour and vanilla. Then, in another bowl, whisk the whites till frothy (with a hand whisk only) and fold the fold the white spume into the cottage cheese mixture.
Heat a smooth griddle or non stick pan and dollop tablespoons of the curd-thick batter on to it to make cake lets of about 8 cm diameter. Each cheesecake let will take a minute or so to firm up underneath, when you should flip it and cook the other side. Remove to a warmed plate as and when ready.
Turn the strawberries in the ruby syrup they've made and squish some pieces with a fork at the same time. Decent them into a bowl, with a spoon for serving, and bring your cheesecaklets to the table at the same time.

xxx
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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Chilli and garlic bread bake

You know when you are in a supermarket ( in this example it was Sainsbury's) and they have a BBC Good Food book for £1.50 what to you do? Well I had to purchase Speedy Supers way back in December 2013, especially as so many of my mid-week meals are the same as the title states: Speedy Supers. Now, I could write a whole essay on my love of mince and indeed this is covered on this blog, alongside my social media sites, but this time I wanted to have a nice change on a traditional recipe. This is far from authentic, but with the cold crisp autumn nights I long for comfort food and as an addict to garlic bread I was happy to try this recipe. The chilli con carne took moments to make, I had it on the table within 30 minutes. I would however, next time add more chilli to the recipe as it did not have the usual kick that I am used to. I refrained from adding kidney beans to the chilli as I served this dish with Jamaican rice and peas which also has kidney beans. The highlight of this dish for me was the topped garlic bread, crisp, flavoursome and the underneath soaking in the mince mixture, it was perfect for mopping up the flavours. I am glad I served this with rice and peas as this had some form of kick to it. Would I make it again? Yes, but I would add guacamole and add the additional chill. With all these proposals of amending this dish, perhaps I need to remake sooner rather than later.
Here is how my Garlic Bread Topped Chilli Con Carne turned out:



Recipe for Chilli and garlic bread bake
Ingredients
500g lean beef mince
2 onions, quartered
2tsp olive oil
2tsp cumin
1-2 tsp mild chilli powder
400g chopped tomatoes
1 beef stock cube
1 garlic bread, split into slices.

Takes 30 minutes, serves 4.

Method
1) Brown the mince in a large non-stick frying pan for a few minutes, then tip into a bowl. Whiz the onions in a food processor until finely chopped.
2) Heat the oil in the pan then fry the onions for 2 minutes. Add the spices and cook for another minute. Return the mince to the pan with the tomatoes, stock cube and a can of hot water, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
3) Heat the grill to medium. Spoon the mince into an ovenproof dish. Arrange the baguette slices over the mince, then frill for 5 minutes until golden and crisp.

Nutritional information, per serving 498 calories, protein 37g, carbohydrate 33g, fat 25g, saturated fat 6g, fibre 2g, sugar 7g, salt 2.5 g 

xxx 

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Super easy and super quick chocolate fridge cake

What do you do when you are ravenous, desperate for a chocolate fix, but have chocolate fix on hand. This feeling happens quite often for me. I somehow have associated a chocolate or sweet  dish immediately after an evening meal, Pavlolv's conditioning theory can certainly be applied to food cravings. When I don't plan to make anything specific, I tend not to have all the ingredients at hand, which is frustrating when I am drooling over many mouth watering recipes. But what I do have is bits and bobs of many packets of sweet things. You see, I don't always use a whole packet of marshmallows or chocolate raisins when I am baking, so any leftovers are stored carefully in a sandwich bag and in my baking bag.
With limited baking ingredients alongside a recent holiday including holiday gain, I decided on the "handful" policy when adding my ingredients. "Handful policy" I hear you say, yes, a handful of your favourite ingredients (now not every ingredient) to include in the mixture. There were some measurements involved tbsp and a random number of 6 biscuits, but using the handful way the dish should not be too calorific. I added peanuts, dolly mix, marshmallows and chocolate eggs (yes leftover from Easter). After a good ol mix and after 1.5 hrs this was set beautifully. 
I loved the flavour of my no-bake, think salty peanuts, combined with silky and sweet marshmallows, crunchy chic eggs and a reminiscent of childhoods with sweet (already use that word) dolly bakes. I would certainly make this again and with the upcoming Christmas period and with all the possible leftover dried cranberries, pistachios and chocolate truffles, I will be making another one of these quick.
Here is how my super easy and super quick chocolate fridge cake turned out:

Super easy and quick chocolate fridge cake



Chocolate fridge cake



Chocolate fridge cake

Recipe for Chocolate Fridge Cake.
6 chocolate digestives
100g dark chocolate
2 heaped tbsp margarine
Handful of peanuts
Handful of marshmallows
Handful of dolly mixture 
Handful of chocolate mini eggs
Handful of white chocolate buttons

Method
Crush the chocolate digestive biscuits in crumbs in a mixing bowl, set aside. In a second bowl, break the dark chocolate pieces and margarine, then heat in 30 second blasts. Add a handful of the peanuts, marshmallows,  dolly mixture, chocolate mini eggs and chocolate buttons in the bowl with the biscuits. Pour the melted chocolate of the chocolate and nut mixture and stir until fully coated. Place the mixture in a square tin. Set the tin in the fridge for at least 1.5 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy.

xxx

I am sharing this recipe to a number of food blogging challenges. Firstly, Treat Petit hosted by Stuart from Cakeyboi and Kat from the Baking Explorer. This month's them is Thanksgiving, whilst I did not make this for someone in particular, my family members thoroughly enjoyed it and were very thankful to me!


I'm also sharing this recipe to The Biscuit Barrel Challenge hosted by Laura from I'd much rather bake than. This months theme is Winter Warmers. Whilst this recipe does not contain any winter spices, it is the sort of quick treat I'd like to have near the fire.



I'm also sharing this to Cook blog share hosted by Lucy by Super Golden Bakes


xxx
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