Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Spiced Chocolate Christmas Cake

I own only one, yes one Christmas cookbook. For me, no Christmas cooking or baking is complete without a visit to Nigella Lawson's Christmas cookery book. Bursting with recipes, I'm always inspired to try a new festive recipe. Whilst many may enjoy the traditional Christmas cake with marzipan and lots of fruit, I've been brought up on the rum laced Jamaican fruit cake which is what I always prefer. I do however have a soft spot for chocolate and when I rediscovered this spiced chocolate Christmas cake, I just had to bake it. With all the lovely Christmas spices cinnamon, cloves and zest of clementine complimented with chocolate, this cake is a perfect alternative to a rich fruit cake. What I found surprising is how gooey the chocolate was when cooked, almost similar to a brownie in texture, but with a warm hint of Christmas with every bite. It's surprisingly quick to make and can be made from start to eating within 1.5 hours. 





The recipe for Spiced Chocolate Christmas Cake can be found here. I added a sprinkling of icing sugar over the cake.
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Sunday, 10 December 2017

Jumbo Oat and Raisin Cookies

I haven't baked cookies in a very long. The last amazing cookie I ate was in New York, I can't say that these are remotely close but they managed to hit my desire to have a moerish and gooey cookie. I remembered that many moons ago, I brought a baking book which was dedicated soley to baking cookies. I didn't fancy making an extravagant cookie but something which had incredibly easy to make, soft and gooey in the middle such as these oar and raisin cookies.




Ingredients
85g rolled oats
100g plain  flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
60g unsalted butter, softened
soft light brown sugar
50g granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
175g raisins
Optional 1 tbsp coco powder

Method
Preheat the ocean to 190C/37F/Gas Mark 5. Place the oats in a food processor and pulse briefly, then tip into a bowl and sift in he flour and bicarbonate of soda and salt and stir together.
Place the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Place the egg and vanilla extract in a separate bowl and whisk together, then add to the butter and mix well. Add the flour mixture, into 15 balls and place on 2 large non-stick baking sheets, spaced well apart. Press the cookies into rough rounds. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

xxx
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Saturday, 9 December 2017

November monthly eatings 2017

Where has the year gone, we are only a few weeks away from Christmas and I can't wait to share some of the Christmas baking I have been up to. But before that, I enjoyed a few meals in November, I hadn't planned to eat out much at all having just returned from Jamaica, but when meals out call ......

Verso Lounge, Stafford

Cedar Lebanese restaurant, Birmingham


Halfpenny Farm, Oldbury

Miller and Carter, Wolverhampton




The Shire Horse, Stafford


Frankies and Bennys 




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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Thai Food Made Easy Review and Recipe

I'm so glad I recently discovered the tropical and vibrant delights of Thai cuisine. As Thai cuisine is relatively new to me, I've fully immersed myself with learning all I can about this cuisine. I was delighted when I received a review copy of Thai Food Made Easy by Tom Kime. I've never heard of the author before, but having done some research he is a highly trained chef having worked at The River Cafe and with Rick Stein. This cookery book doesn't feel like a chefy book, there's no overly complicated cooking methods which is perfect for the home cook. The author describes Thai food as "electrifying and invigorating and makes the tongue tingle with excitement" and I agree.

This cookery book introduces the reader to easy to follow recipes and shares all the key ingredients necessary to make authentic Thai food. This cookery book is perfect for newcomers to Thai cuisine and due to the versatility in recipes it will also appeal to those who are experienced in cooking Thai food. There are accompanying colour photos for the majority of the recipes which is stunning. Thai Food Made Easy is currently on sale for £14.99



There are a number of gorgeous recipes to try and all bases are covered in the comprehensive chapters:
  • Introduction
  • Ingredients for Thai Cooking - a chapter focusing on key fresh ingredients, spices, pantry larder and liquids.
  • 15 must-have herbs & spices - including Thai basil, lemongrass and five spice. 
  • Snacks and finger food- everyone loves a good snack especially when it includes: Glass Noodle & Pork Spring Rolls, Spiced Prawn cakes on Lemongrass Sticks, Chicken Satay with Turmeric & Ginger and Curried Sweetcorn Fritters. 
  • Salads- stand out recipes include: Prawn Noodle Salad with chili & toasted cashews, Hot & Sour Grilled Beef Salad and Sesame Chicken Salad. 
  • Slow roast, smoking grill & hot wok: tempting recipes include: Kai yang Issan-style grilled Chicken, Thai Beef skewers, Barbecued pork and herb salad and Wok-fried Chilli & Basil chicken. 
  • Fish & seafood: Gorgeous recipes to try include: Sesame-seared Tuna with Lemongrass & Ginger, Turmeric Grilled Fish, Stir-fried Cod with Sugar Snap Peas, Ginger & Five Spice and Grilled Fish with Chilli, Garlic & Ginger.
  • Curries & Soups , stand out recipes include: Coconut Fish Curry, Thai Green Curry,  Hot & Sour Orange Curry with Grilled Salmon & Geng gari curry with Roast Chicken.
  • Rice, Noodles & Sides: recipes to try include: Pad Thai Fried Noodles, Pad Ki Mow (spicy beef noodles with kaffir lime leaves) and Braised Chicken with Rice, Turmeric & Spices. 
  • Desserts & drinks: stand out recipes include: Thai Citrus & Young Coconut Jelly, Sticky rice with Mango and Banana & Coconut Pancakes. 
  • Basics: recipes to try include: this chapter includes a number of dressings and sauces.
  • Menu planner.
So far I've made the prawn noodle salad and grilled fish .



Recipe for Prawn Noodle Salad with Chilli & Toasted Cashews
Serves 4
Preparation 10 minutes
Ingredients
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
4 cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
juice of 2 limes
250g thin rice noodles, drained and chilled
250g cooked prawns, peeled and halved
4 spring onions, finely chopped
4 mint sprigs, leaves picked and torn

Spices
freshly ground black pepper

pantry/larder
2 tablespoons light soy sauce 
1 tablespoon blended sesame oil
3 tablespoon cashews
salt.

Method
Mix the chilli, ginger and lime juice together in a large bowl. Add the light soy sauce and sesame oil. Add the noodles and prawns and mix together. Add the spring onions and season well with a little salt and black pepper.
When ready to serve, add the herbs to the noodles and mix together (only add the herbs when you are ready to serve because the acidity of the dressing will turn the leaves black). Scatter with the cashews. Taste the noodles to check the balance of flavours and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this cookery book from the publishers. 

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Andrew James 3 in 1 Hand Blender and Processor Giveaway

I have an exciting early Christmas present to readers of my blog. As a keen cook it's important that I have access to essential kitchen equipment as this makes my life much easier in the kitchen. I'd be lost with my food processor (perfect for chopping vegetables), blender (perfect for making smoothies and soups) and a hand blender (also good for blending soups). I often receive information about the latest kitchen appliances such as the Andrew James 3 in 1 Hand Blender and Processor, which I would of happily received and reviewed, however I already own an Andrew James Food processor so thought i'd share this fabulous products with my readers.

The 3 in 1 blender helps saves space in the kitchen is compact and stylish. It features the following:
  • Chopping blades, processor bowl, blending cup and whisk attachment.
  • Powerful 1000w motor with variable speed control and turbo button.
  • All detachable parts are dishwasher safe.
  • Ergonomic design with stylish black and chrome finish
  • 2 year manufacturer's warranty.





The lovely people at Andrew James are giving one lucky reader one of their 3 in 1 hand blender and processor. To be in with a chance, follow the below instructions:

  • Follow the instructions on the Rafflecoper widget.
  • Join my blog and leave a comment (click on the left hand corner of the right side of the website using Google Friend Connectior) tis is an ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT. 
  • For additional entries like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus. 
  • All entires will be checked and verified. 
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random. 
  • The competition will run from 29.11.17 - 14.12.17
  • Winners will need to respond within 3 working days of being contacted. 
  • The competition is open to UK residents, aged 18 or over.
  • Andrew James is responsible for posting the prize.
  • Please feel free to share the giveaway.
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Monday, 27 November 2017

What I ate in Jamaica 2017

It's almost been a month since I've returned from the tropical island that is Jamaica. I've eaten a wonderful range of food, I can safely say I ate enough jerk chicken and ackee and salt fish to last me the rest of the year.
Here is what I ate:























xxx
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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Fig, Orange & Walnut Loaf

Very few smells can evoke sense of my childhood, comfort and home then a cake baking in the oven. When I bake, I'm more than likely to bake a cake more than other baked goods. It's just that cake are so warming and comforting to me and easy to make. 
There are some cracking cake recipes and other wonderful bakes in Honey and Co: The Baking Book.  I recently purchased this book and was inspired by the flavour combinations, strong Middle Eastern flavours (as expected) and bakes to satisfy you at any time of the day. I've made a few bakes from this book, but I couldn't help but sharing this recipe: easy to make, great flavours and incredibly moreish. The loaf isn't the prettiest but is sure tastes good. 





Ingredients
120g whole milk
120g honey
40 unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
75g light brown soft sugar
230g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
75g walnuts, roughly chopped
75g dried figs cut in 4 pieces
75g candied orange peel
1 egg
30g demerara sugar to sprinkle

Method
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas mark 4. Butter a 1kg loaf tin and line with a sheet of baking parchment to cover the base and long slides, allowing a little overhang so that this can used to help lift the loaf out later.

Warm the milk honey, butter, caster sugar and light brown sugar together in a large saucepan until the sugars have dissolved and the mixture is just starting to boil. Remove the heat and stir in the flour, spice and salt. Mix in the walnuts, quartered figs and candied orange peel, then add the egg and combine thoroughly before transferring the batter to the lined tin. Smooth the top and sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

Bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 minutes, then turn the tin around for an even bake and leave for 30 minutes. At this stage it should still be a soft to the touch, but stable and with a lovely thick crust. You can't really test this cake with a toothpick as it contains so much fruit, but if you push down a little with the tip of your finger in the centre and it doesn't sink, remove from the oven. If you feel there is still quite a bit of softness here, bake for another 10 minutes, but do take it out after that. Allow to cool in the tin.

Sere with butter and orange marmalade, it keeps well for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

xxx
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Friday, 17 November 2017

Wine Lover's Kitchen Review, Recipe and Giveaway

A lovely cookery book arrived whilst I was away on holiday in Jamaica. Wine Lover's Kitchen by Fiona Beckett is a stunning collection of recipes featuring one of the nations most loved alcoholic beverage, wine.  Fiona is one of the nations leading and authoritative voices in food and drink, having published an impressive  23 books and is the current wine columnist for The Guardian.
I enjoy drinking a lovely glass of of wine, whether it's a rich full bodied red wine,  fruity white wine, crisp prosecco and my current favourite, mulled wine. But cooking with it, I'm not so sure,  I occasionally add a glug of red wine to stews, chili con carne and the like but that's about it. Wine Lovers Kitchen features a number of inspiring innovative recipes where wine is featured from starters to desserts. Retailing at £12, this book contains 70 recipes, many with accompanying photos. 
Having had a a thorough read of his book I would say it isn't aimed for beginner cooks, but for the more confident and ambitious cook. 


Wine Lovers Kitchen is split into the following chapters:

Wine - the magic ingredient discussing the benefits of wine. 
10 things you need to know about cooking with wine
Soups, Salads and Appetisers: Recipes to try include: Smoked Duck, Mandarin and Pecan Salad with Pinot Noir, Warm Scallop Salad with Crispy Pancetta and Parsnip Chips and Luxury Cheese Fondue.
Pasta and Grains: Stand out recipes include: Rigatoni with Aubergine, Sausage and Zinfandel Sauce, Wild Mushroom and Champagne Risotto and Beetroot and Pinot Risotto. 
Fish and Seafood: Recipes to try include: Moules Marinieres with Muscadet, Quick Tiger Prawns with Pinot Grigio, Fresh Tomato and Basil and Roast Monkfish with Pancetta, Rosemary and Red Wine Gravy. 
Meat and Poultry: Stand out recipes include: Burgundy-style pork with white wine and mustard, sauce, Slow-braised lamb shanks with red wine, rosemary and garlic, Venison Sausages with Red Wine and Rosemary Gravy,  Entrecôte Marchand de Vin and Pepper-crusted steak with Red Wine Sauce. 
Vegetable Dishes and Pulses: Recipes to try include: Vignarole (spring vegetable stew), Fennel and Parmesan Sourdough Gratin and Courgettes and Mushrooms a la Grecque. 
Sauces, Butters and Relishes: Stand out recipes include: Plum and Pinot Jam, Apricot and Moscatel Relish and Roast Chicken Salad.
Sweet Things and Baking: Recipes to try include: Red Wine and Cherry Ripple Ice Cream, Super Boozy Christmas Fruit Cake, Roasted Pears with Sweet Wine, Honey and Pin Nuts and Red Wine and Chocolate Frosted Cake. 

So far, I've made the Entrecôte Marchand De Vin but have booked marked many more recipes.



Recipe for Entrecote Marchand De Vin
Ingredients
2 entrecote or sirloin steaks (225g/8oz each)
1 tbsp olive oil
40g tablespoons butter, softened
2 shallots, very finely chopped
125ml cup good quality red wine, such as Bordeaux or Shiraz
2 rounded tablespoons freshly chopped flat parsley 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
sautéed potatoes and a mixed leaf salad, to serve

Method
Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Heat a heavy-based frying pan/skillet over a medium to high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the olive oil, when it is hot, add 15g of butter. Wait until the foaming subsides, then put the steaks in the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn and cook for another 2-3 minutes for a medium-rare steak. Transfer to a warm plate and cover lightly with aluminium foil.
Discard the fat in the pan and add half the remaining butter. Once it has melted, add the shallots and cook over a low heat for about 2 minutes. 
Increase the heat, pour in the wine and let bubble away for 2-3 minutes until it has reduced by about two thirds. Gradually whisk the remaining butter, pour in any juices that have accumulated under the steak and stir, Season with salt and pepper , then add the parsley. 
Serve the steaks with the sauce poured over, accompanied by sautéed potatoes and a mixed salad leaves.


The lovely people at Ryland Peters and Smalls are giving one lucky reader a copy or the Wine Lovers Kitchen. 

  • Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget. 
  • Join my blog and leave a comment (click on the left hand corner of the right side of the website using Google Friend Connector) this is an ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT. 
  • For additional entries like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
  • All entries will be checked and verified. 
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will run from 17.11.17 - 15.12.17
  • Winners will need to respond within 5 working days of being contacted.
  • The competition is open to UK residents, aged 18 or over. 
  • Ryland Peters and Small will post a copy of the book. 
  • Please feel free to share the giveaway. 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
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