Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Round up of Foodie Goodies #3 November-December 2014

It has been a bumper two months of receiving and reviewing food products over the last two months which has been wonderful for my tastebuds (but not so good for my waist line).
Earlier in November, I reviewed a selection of Hotel Chocolat products including: Christmas Sleeker, Advent Calendar and Christmas Tweet. I loved luxurious and gourmet chocolates so this delightful selection was a winner for me.


I absolutely adore increasing my collection of cook books so thoroughly enjoyed reviewing three wonderful books over the last two months: Artisian Drinks Bacon, Bombay Lunchbox. Read my review in full here.

As one of the official BBC Good Food Show Bloggers, I was very fortunate to receive a selection of products from some of the exhibitors. These included: Delicious Alchemy, Genius, Farringtons Oil, The Garlic Farm, Sponge Cake ltd,  Baked In and Ardens. Read about my review in full here .


The lovely people at Spiced Kitchen sent me some mulled wine spices, which I've been using throughout this festive season. I love the aroma of these wonderful spices and look forward to using their mulled wine spices next year. 

Judge cookware  have a wonderful selection of sturdy and efficient cook and bake ware. I was incredibly pleased to receive their small roaster and V Shaped tin which was perfect for roasting meats and vegetables. I will be reviewing this product in greater detail in January 2015.


Dhaniya  is a new range of luxurious and gourmet Indian pastes and spices. I was impressed by the flavour combination such a pomegranate paste alongside the more traditional balti and fish paste. I will be sharing a full review of this product in greater detail in January 2015.



I recently discovered OXO (not the gravy) kitchen products and after an exchange of tweets they asked me to review a selection of their products from their Good Grips range. I received a Mini Chopper, Flip and Fold Omlette Turner and a Salad Dressing Shaker. I look forward to sharing my review in full of these products in January. 

Finally,  The Co-Operative Stores have asked me to share ways of using up leftovers fruit and vegetables as part of their love food hate waste challenge. I will be sharing my ideas and a recipe in January.

Well, that it, my last blog post for 2014. I just want to wish every reader of my humble blog a happy and prosperous 2015. I am happy that my blog continues to be read and is also growing in readership. I look forward to some exciting collaborations in 2015 and sharing bigger and better giveaways.
Once again thank you for reading my blog.

Charlene

xxx
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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Moroccan Chicken Cous Cous

Tired of sliced turkey? For me, turkey leftovers are more appealing on Boxing Day, but on the 27th I quickly grow tired of attempting to reinvent the turkey leftovers that I have ate for my lunch and dinner. That's where the humble chicken (any other time of year, chicken would not be described as "humble") mince is a refreshing and economical change to the usual turkey dishes that are served. This dish is Moroccan inspired: exotic spices, harisa paste, cous cous and raisins for good measure. Any dish that relies on an array of colourful seasoning, I am instantly sold, which was the case for this Moroccan chicken cous cows. This dish has also been an educational lesson to me as I usually season the mince, but in this dish the seasoning is added to the pan. The seasoning added to the pan creates the wonderful aroma and alongside the sweating onions is what makes this dish. The addition of the chicken mince gives the humble cous cous a lift and makes the dish hearty enough to eat as an evening meal, which is when I served this dish. I made this dish in under 30 minutes, using one frying pan which is handy for a quick, delicious, spicy, a healthy meal and saves on washing up. 
Here is how my Moroccan Chicken Cous Cous turned out:

Moroccan Chicken Cous Cous


Moroccan Chicken Cous Cous.

Moroccan Chicken Cous Cous

Recipe for Moroccan-Style Mince.
Serves 4, Prep time: 5 minutes, Cook Time:Approx 30 minutes

Ingredients
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
1tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsbp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground turmeric
500 g fresh chicken mince
500 ml chicken stock
70 g raisins
250 g couscous
finely grates zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
sprigs of flat leaf parsley, to garnish (optional)

1) Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, add the onion and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a further 1 minute over a medium heat.
2) Add the mince and cook, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 4-5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the stock and raisins, cover over a low heat for a further 8-10 minutes.
3) Add the couscous, and salt and pepper to taste, stir and cover again. Simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the couscous has absorbed the stock and is fully cooked.
4) Remove from the heat, then stir in the lemon zest and juice. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. 

xxx
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Monday, 22 December 2014

Carib Grill

As a lover of Caribbean food and restaurants, I was estatic when a deal became available on Groupon which featured Carib Grill restaurant. Carib Grill is located in the leafy cosmopolitan area of Moesley in Birmingham. The deal that really caught my eye was: 1/2 jerk chicken, rice and peas & rum punch for two people for the barginous £16. I knew that there would be no way I would be able to stick to that budget, not least because having viewed the menu online, the starters and desserts looked tantalising. Birmingham is no stranger to a large selection of Caribbean restaurants and I have covered a couple here on the blog. But every restaurant is different, different presentation of food, flavours and atmosphere, so I promptly decided to visit this restaurant. I was initially impressed with the bold exterior, this must be the first restaurant I have visited which is covered in red and green; it certainly stood out on the high street. The colourful exterior was matched by the colourful interior, there were flags from the more well-known Caribbean islands. There was also softly played reggae and calypso music played in the restaurant and reminded me of a restaurant that I visited in St Maarten. 

Our table was booked for 8pm one rainy Friday, but for one reason or another (poor time planning on my part), my amigo and I arrived at 20:40. Fortunately the waiter greeted us with a beaming smile and ushered us to our seats. Once we were seated and gave the Groupon voucher, we were quickly served our rum punch. I love rum punch, but I was not expecting it to contain soooooooo much rum. It was a good job I was not driving as I would not be able to finish of my tropical rum punch, which was served with nutmeg for that additional flavour, due to the high alcohol content.  I was impressed with the presentation of the rum punch, especially the umbrella, it was, as they say in Jamaica, it was "irie".
Rum punch
Next up, was the main event 1/2 jerk chicken with rice and peas (£10.50) , oh and a side order of fried plantain (£3.50) . I could smell the jerk chicken whilst I was chatting to my amigo, the infection barbecue smell swept through the restaurant, so when it was served I was anticipating great things. The jerk chicken was beautifully presented and tasted pretty awesome. The distinctive jerk flavour was there; the chicken skin was crispy and well seasoned, the chicken meat tender, moist and juicy. In fact, although the portion size was huge, I wanted more, yes more jerk chicken because this was the BEST  jerk chicken I have tasted outside of Jamaica. The rice and peas was filling and tasted delicious too, the peas was gungo peas (my favourite) and presumably cooked in coconut milk, due to the rich creamy taste. With every jerk chicken that I order, I have to have an accompanying side dish of fried plantain: my favourite side dish, sweet, addictive and divine. My only criticism of the fried plantain is it was slightly dry, I like my fried plantain to be fried in oil, lots of it, I suspect that there was restraint with the oil used.


Jerk Chicken

Fried Plantain
I almost always have two courses when eating out, either a starter and main or a main or dessert, I decided with the latter. Having recently returned from my annual Caribbean break, I sampled the most amazing Tortuga cake from the Cayman islands and greatly anticipated to try this cake again, as this was on the menu. I was very disappointed, almost distraught that the Tortuga cake was sold out because apparently, this is brought in batches from the restaurants owners trips to the Caribbean. After some consolation, I ordered the chocolate fudge cake with vanilla ice-cream. This was a wonderful second choice, the slice of cake came straight out of the land of the giants. Most importantly was the taste, chocolatey, rich, gory, delicious, moreish and moist, this was the perfect slice of cake for me.




I would definitely visit again, the restaurant had a friendly relaxed Caribbean vibe and more importantly the food represented true Caribbean cuisine and superb value for money. In fact, it was a "home from home".

Positives: Excellent food, excellent service, great atmosphere.
Negatives: A dish that I wanted to order was not available.


This restaurant gets a 4 star rating by Food Glorious Food.

Food Glorious Food Restaurant rating index.
5 Star - Excellent: loved the food, loved the restaurant, loved the service, Already booked my next visit.
4 Star - Overall good: food was delicious will visit soon.
3 Star - Average: food was nice, but improvements can be made. No rush to return.
2 Star - Below average: nothing special, in no rush to visit again.
1 Star - Inadequate: Do not go, you have been warned.

Disclaimer: I reviewed this restaurant because I love eating out, as always, all opinions are my own.

Carib Grill on Urbanspoon
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Friday, 19 December 2014

BBC Good Food Show Winter (Part 2)

I had such a fantastic experience at the BBC Good Food Show, I could not possible share my highlights in one blog post. The winter show, I attended the show on Press Day, many thanks to Katy who organised the get together with the other bloggers. Many I knew via Twitter but in the press room there was: FreyaCob, Full to the Brum, The Foodie Couple, Munchies and Munchkins,  Jo's Kitchen and Helena Cookman. I also had a quick chat with fellow bloggers Carmelo Sereno and Julie from Angelina Cupcake who were busy on Julie's stall and had a quick chat with The Ginger Warrior.
The group of bloggers had the opportunity to go back stage meet & have a chat none other than Si and Dave of the Hairy Bikers.  We were even ask them a couple of questions, I bravely asked them whether they had any plans to have a similar series of their Mississippi road tour. I also had the opportunity to have excellent seats to watch the charismatic James Martin demonstration where he prepared the very healthy (writes with a smile :-) ) looking monkey bread alongside a mackerel and potato dish.


I also enjoyed visiting several stores, I hope you enjoy my collage of my favourite stalls from this wonderful show.

The Baking Housewife - Everyone knows I'm a huge fan of Caribbean food so was excited to discover this stall and meet the lovely person behind The Baking Housewife who specialises in artisan Caribeean fruit cakes, alongside marmalades and sorrel. I had to purchase the sorrel with rum which was heavenly divine.


Tan Rosie  - Another Caribbean stall headed by mother and daughter duo. They sold a range of Caribbean spices, Sauces, fudge, plantain chips and even a cookery book. I stocked up on plantain chips and chilli fudge.



Simply Vintage - specialises as the site says, everything vintage. I discovered this at the summer show, think rustic and beautiful cake knives, delicate tea sets and vintage milk bottles. These products are stunningly beautiful and their items are certainly welcome in my home.



5 Dimensions - asked the bloggers to say ola, was impressed by the flavour combinations such as the intriguing basil and lime.


Angelina Cupcake a fellow official blogger had her own stall this year selling her amazing cupcakes. Although I was trying to be relatively good, I had to purchase some oreo cupcakes.



Sponge Cakes 
As discussed in my part 1 review I absolutely adored this stall.



Delicious Alchemy 
As stated in my part 1 review I loved this stall.



Disclaimer:  I received a press pass to attend the Good Food Show, I was not obliged to write a positive review and as always my opinion is my own.

xxx
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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2014 (Part 1)

The nation's favourite food show returned to Birmingham from 27th - 30th November 2014. That show of course is BBC Good Food Show Winter. I have been a big fan of the BBC Good Food Show after first attending in 2011, little did I know back then, is that in a couple of years time I would become an official BBC Good Food Show Blogger. For those who do not know what that means, a selected group of bloggers in the Midlands share via social media the most up to date news and reviews from the show. There is usually a get together prior to the show which I unfortunately missed for the Summer show (as I was in Spain) and missed out on a fabulous opportunity to spend time at Brompton Cookery School held by the lovely Marcus Bean. For the Winter Show, there was no official pre-show get together, instead we were sent an array of samples from some of the food producers of the show. I'm pleased there was a mixture of sweet and savoury samples as my tastebuds can easily filter between the two. I was also  introduced to an array of talented artisan bakers and cooks who produce an array of delicious food. My excitement started prior to the show, shaving received all these fabulous products.

BBC Good Food Show samples.

Let's start with my favourite (although I really shouldn't have favourites) sample.
Delicious Alchemy specialise in gluten free products. I really don't know a lot about gluten free allergies as I do not have any, but what I do know is that I'm quite discerning on whether a product should be on par or expected, as stated on the tin. The Good Food Show Bloggers were sent a selection of Bread Mix, Chocolate Brownies and Cookie Mixture. I promptly made the gluten free Chocolate Brownies, which before I show you the picture, I pre warn you, I  added malteres which I know has gluten, but can be removed for those with the intolerance. I loved this mixture, it was incredibly easy to make (melt butter, add two eggs, mix in the packet, bake and eat) and it was demolished quickly in my house.
Delicious Alchemy

Delicious Alchemy

Baked In specialise in home baking kits, their mottos is making Home Baking Simple. They sell a range of chocolate brownies which can be superbly be made in a mug in 5 minutes. Using this fabulous kit, I was able to make brownies in three easy steps: melt butter, heat in the microwave for 1 minutes and leave to cool for 5 minutes. There are a range of flavours: chocolate orange, expresso and gluten free flavours. Baked in also sells cooke mixers and baking its. This a wonderful product for those who love baking but are incredibly pressed on time or for those who enjoy the fruits of baking but not the best baker. 
Baked In

Baked In

Ardens specialise in luxurious nibbles. I can certainly vouch for that as unfortunately me and my family demolished the lovely goodies before any photographs were taken. Ardens specialise in flaky and butter pastry twists, crunchy bites and slow cooked bread bakes. I loved the selection of products and the flavour combination were superb:cream cheese and spring onion melts, Italian pesto bakes and spinach gruyere twists. Any foodie would be satisfied with these goodies.
Ardens

The Garlic Farm based on the Isle of Wight offer products, as the name states including garlic. This farm has been going for some time and the result is glorious; many different varieties of garlic infused in a range of products. The Pork Scratching was perfectly infused, the garlic paste was delightfully pungent and have used this when making homemade chips. I could instantly tell with the garlic paste that this product is not the standard garlic used in products as there was an enhanced flavour.  I have not yet tried the garlic beer, so I will have to keep you updated via social media sites with how this tastes. 

The Garlic Farm

Sponge Cakes is a brand that I discovered when I attended BBC Good Food Show Winter 2011. I brought several slices of their sponge cakes, so was incredibly pleased that they were giving 2 free mini sponge cakes to the Bloggers. Me and Laura from Full To The Brum were fortunate to be given a third free mini sponge from their new gluten free range. I was impressed that Sponge Cakes have expanded their range to include little morsels of deliciousness. I chose to sample the Coffee and Walnut cake, Bounty cake and Gluten Free Apple Crumble.

Sponge Cake


Sponge Cake.

Sponge Cake
Genius, is a company specialising in gluten free products. They have a range of products: bread, pastry and cakes. I was fortunate to receive the bread and blueberry muffins. I was impressed by the size of the gluten free brownies and the packaging. As an individual who does not have an allergy I can certainly say that this is the perfect muffin for those with allergies, there is a slight nutty texture, which I presume is due to the rice flour that may have been used. They stock their products at online and selected supermarket stores in the London area.
Genius

Farringtons  is the first seed to bottle producer whose range of products are featured in many shops around the UK. Faringtons specialise in their is sell a range of products including: rapeseed oil, dressing, mayonnaise and chilli oil. I received their rapeseed oil which has the lowest saturated fat when compared to other oil products and also has a subtle nutty flavour. I used the rapeseed oil when making my homemade chips, which was delectable. 


Disclaimer: I received all the above products to review, I was not required to write a positive view and as always, all opinions are my own. 

xxx

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Boxing Day Egg and Bacon Pie and Mulled Wine plus a Giveaway.

What do you eat on Boxing Day? Turkey sandwiches, turkey curry, turkey fajitas are the many dishes that  people are likely to eat on Boxing Day, which completely makes sense, why waste good, juicy and succulent turkey? In Nigella Lawson's baking masterpiece: How to Be A Domestic Goddess, Nigella states that this is the dish she enjoys on Boxing Day: Egg and Bacon Pie. I'm unsure whether I would eat this on Boxing Day itself, perhaps a few days later, those awkward days between Boxing Day and New Years Eve when turkey can get a bit tiresome and a hearty, comforting meal is required.
I found the Boxing Day Egg and Bacon pie rather easy to make, the most complicated part is making the pastry and I would certainly recommend buying ready-made shortcrust pastry if you are pressed for time. Once the pastry is sorted, the remainder of the making of the pie is relatively simple. Please ensure that you create a small hole in the middle of the pie to let the steam out as you don't want to the pastry to become soggy from the liquids.  I decided to serve this pie with a seasonal favourite, roasted goose fat potatoes and the essential Brussel Sprouts. Would I make this pie again ? I certainly would, I found it not only to be delicious, warming and comforting, in my opinion it so versatile and is suitable to be eaten all year round.
As we are in the full swing of the Christmas season, I served my Boxing Day Egg and Bacon Pie with  mulled wine. I've never made my own mulled wine before, I certainly have drank many mulled wine drinks when I have visited restaurants but one of the positives of being a food blogger is that I am always willing to try new dishes and drinks. With mulled wine, it's all about the spices, which gives the aromatic distinctive flavour in this warming drink. I'm such a big fan of Spice Kitchen, I reviewed their aromatic intense spices earlier this year and they were generous enough  to send me a lovely pouch of their premium mulled wine spices. The mulled wine spices  were very intense in smell and absolutely delicious in my mulled wine, the perfect winter drink.
Here is my Boxing Day Egg and Bacon Pie:
Boxing Day Egg and Bacon Pie:


Boxing Day Egg and Bacon Pie.


Dry ingredients.

Wet ingredients added.

Pastry rolled out

Filling for the pie.

Pie pre-bake.

Boxing Day pie baked

Inside my pie. 
Recipe for Boxing Day Egg and Bacon Pie can be found here 
Mulled wine spices

Ingredients in pan for mulled wine

Mulled wine heated 

Mulled wine laddled

Mulled wine
Mulled Wine, Recipe from How to Be A Domestic Goddess.
1 bottle of red wine
60 ml 4 tbsp dark rum
125ml Earl Grey tea
1 Orange, quartered, each quarter stuck with 1 clove
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
1 tbsp dark muscavodo sugar
1 tbsp honey

Method
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring almost to the boil, but before the aromatic wine actually boils, turn down to the lowest possible heat and keep it warm as you paddle it into any nearby glass.

The lovely people at Spice Kitchen are offering one lucky reader a pouch of luxurious mulled wine
spices. Please follow the instructions on the rafflecopter to be in with a chance.
  • Follow the instructions on the rafflecopter
  • Leave a comment on my blog THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT.
  • For additional entries, like my Facebook Page, follow foodgloriousfoodx on Twitter, Add me in Google + and follow Spice Kitchen on Facebook.
  • The competition will run from 13.12.14 - 11.01.15
  • All entries will be checked and verified.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random,
  • Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted.
  • Spice Kitchen will dispatch the spices.
  • a Rafflecopter giveaway
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