Monday, 14 April 2014

Sophie Conran Boards Product Review





I was approached recently to see if I fancied working with the Sophie Conran website by doing a product review. I said yes (it was a no-brainer!) as I’ve been a fan for a long time of Sophie’s Portmeirion range of dishes, plates, mugs and glass ware. Indeed I know some of my readers have spotted the distinctive white beauty of them before on le blog.


Anyhow, Sophie Conran has recently branched out into a few different areas, and one of the newest ranges she has designed is her wood boards by T&G Woodware, made from natural beech wood, harvested and manufactured in Europe.

There is a great selection of different boards to suit every taste and need:

Small, medium and large paddle boards, there are also medium and large versions of these with a band motif.

Small, medium and large rectangular boards in two colour ways, greys and blues. The shades of grey/ neutral are called Chalk, Dove and Seal. The blues Forget-me-not, Bluebell and Violet.

Lovely round ones, the medium one says ‘Made with love’ and the large ‘Beautiful day’.

Then there is my favourite the Dot and Dash design, how pretty to display bread or biscuits on. Love the cricket bat shape.

I was sent a board, like the one Sophie is holding here, and I love the idea of having a wooden cake board. It makes for such a pretty presentation.

These boards are lovely, to use, serve on or just to make something look good. The Sophie Conran range is synonymous with style, so of course they make for very stylish presentation. A final note, is that if you are in the habit of taking food pictures they’d make for great blog pictures too. Full range available at

Next Up: John Whaite Bakes at Home 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Sally's Baking Addiction Cook Book - Review




Sally's Baking Addiction Irresistable Cookies, Cupcakes & Deserts for your Sweet Tooth Fix by Sally McKenney. Published in 2014 by Race Point Publishing.

I collect cookbooks, but it would be fair to say I’m obsessed by baking books, I can’t get enough. I don’t think a baking book is a waste if I never use it, I’m happy to read them too. This one however, most definitely falls into the category of ‘a book to bake from’ too.
Do note that as this book hails from the U.S. the measurements are in American cups, though often, helpfully, grams are given too for things like flour and sugar. Recipes are cleanly laid out and easy to follow. The pictures are fabulous, and all say eat-me-now!

Chapters are *Bread & Muffins * Breakfast * Brownies & Bars * Cakes, Pies & Crisps * Candy & Sweet Snacks * Cookies * Cupcakes * Healthier Choices*.

Some of the bakes on my to-do list are: Mint Chocolate Fudge Brownies, Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars, Oatmeal Scotchies, Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Apple Cinnamon Raisin Breakfast Cookies and Dark Chocolate Butterscotch Cupcakes.

I find Sally’s website http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/ really appealing, it is so easy to browse and find something yummy to look at and then bake. The book is just the same, a pleasure to flip through and each time I pick it up I see something else I’d like to bake. That coupled with the bakes turning out really well is the mark of a fabulous baking book. My daughter picked it up and oohed and ahhed about what she would like to make too.

It was really hard to actually choose a first make, as so many things looked tempting, but the day it arrived I HAD to make something, and I already had a baked something or other under the cake dome, so I plumped for granola!

Here are the things I’ve made so far.

Death by Chocolate Brownies
These were so good, moist and slightly gooey with the chocolate chips in them when warm and just as good cold. My hubby warmed one up in the microwave for desert one night, and it came out as if it had been freshly baked. I’ve worked my way through a number of brownie recipes down the years, and these are our new favourites.


White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blondies
I do like a blondie, and these were lovely especially with the macadamias providing a nice crunch.


Maple Pecan Granola
The name says it all. I made this for my hubby, but I should really warn you that if you make this one, it’s hard to stop nibbling it whilst it’s cooling down! Lovely with some apple compote and Greek yoghurt.


Chocolate Glazed Orange Macaroons
The coconut ones (as opposed to the French macaron). These were great. Not too sweet, but a nice orange flavour and a little chocolate drizzle on top to bring the orange and coconut together.

Next Up: Next up: Sophie Conran product review

Next Book Review: John Whaite Bakes at Home

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Sally's Soft Gingersnap Molasses Cookies

Here is a little bonus before the proper Sally's Baking Addiction Cook Book review in a few days.

A recipe from her fabulous website.  I printed off this one (and three more while I was looking!). My friend Jodie of Jo Blogs, Jo Bakes ( http://joblogsjobakes.wordpress.com/ )  pointed me in the direction of these, a couple of days ago, and loving ginger as I do they had to be made!  Here is the link for Sally's recipe. 


Saturday, 29 March 2014

Fay Makes it Easy - Review

Well, I’d been anticipating this one, her third cook book. Fay Makes it Easy - 100 Delicious Recipes to Impress with No Stress by Fay Ripley published by Harper Collins in 2013. Perhaps I should look back before going forward, I enjoyed her first book, then her second one more, which to be fair probably puts Fay (or any other book author of any type) under some pressure to live up to expectations. ”And does it?” I hear you ask. Yes, I think it does!
I look to Fay for family suppers, you know inspiration for weeknight teas, that don’t take too long to make, but still deliver on taste and provide reasonably balanced plates for my family. I’ve made a number of dishes so far (some pics on Face Book page). Indeed one in particular was positively a minor miracle on the food front – more on that below though.
This book has more traditional chapters (as opposed to her second one which was days of the week) of – Morning Glory – Let’s do Lunch – Bite-Sized – Delish Dinners – Great Outdoors – Sweet Stuff . There are plenty of pictures of all the dishes, and the recipes are clearly written and laid out. Of course there are always Fay’s introductions to the recipes too, which made me laugh out loud on a couple of occasions. I won’t say which ones and spoil your fun though.
Some of the recipes I have marked to try are: Morning Muffins, Hollywood Raspberry Bircher Museli, Parma Ham and Melon Risotto, Sumac Roast Chook, Wasabi Tuna with Crispy Noodle Salad, Slow-Cook So-Good Beef Stew, San Choy Bau (recipe on the cover of the book), Miso Salmon and Coconut Rice, lastly on the savoury side is a grown up feast of Sozzled Spanish Chicken and Almonds, Patatas Bravas and Sweet Magic Kale.
On the sweet side there are Little Chocolate and Almond Bombes, Lemon and Pistachio Cake, Show Stopping Hazelnut and Raspberry Pavlova and Bounty Banoffee Pie.

Sweetcorn Fritters with Griddled Halloumi
Quick fritters to make and cook, I did mine with chopped yellow pepper (as hubby won’t eat sweetcorn off the cob…) and they go so well with the halloumi. Fay suggested sweet chilli sauce to go with this, and that was good, however my daughter’s choice was balsamic glaze and that was even better.

Parce the Spanish Parcel
This recipe is in the Bite-Sized chapter, though I wanted it for a lunch so did it as one pie with one sheet of pastry. Tomatoes, Cheese, chickpeas and chorizo goes into the filling. Really lovely, and little one ate chick peas willingly!

The Vicar’s Pulled Pork
This was easy to do, I liked it but think I like my pulled pork with a more BBQ-y vibe. My Mum particularly liked this.

Fresh White Slaw
For the pulled pork, a fabulous little recipe of raw veg (cabbage, fennel and apple) with an Asian inspired dressing. Again, little one was keen, and I really thought bribery would be required to get her to eat it!

Aaron’s Amazing Feta, Bacon & Courgette Pesto Pasta
A yummy minty pesto pasta. Mmmm.

Galaxy Krispies
I used 200g chocolate to 100g rice krispies (as opposed to 120g). The Galazy makes them feel more special.

What a Whizz Sticky Date Pudding
Easy to make, and lighter than my dinner party normal one. The sponge, though baked has a distinct moist steamed texture going on.

One-Pot Spiced Chicken and Apricot Rice with Mint Raita
This is it – the minor miracle on the food front at my kitchen table! I decided to make this because I liked the sound of the apricots (!). Chicken flavoured with garam masala, aromatically spiced brown rice and lentils with dried apricots, flaked almonds and a minty cucumber raita.

My daughter isn’t that fond of chicken or spices, none of us particularly like lentils (except in soup). So as tea time was approaching and I was trying to think what else I could do with the ingredients, wondered if I’d go to the shops for something else to cook even. Fortunately, I got a grip on myself and made it anyway.

It was lovely, we all liked the lentils and little one said ”good chicken Mum.” I’ve been trying to hear those words for 10 years!!! Will definitely be making it again.


Next Up: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Friday, 21 March 2014

Save with Jamie



I've been absent from the blogging world for a while now, but hopefully I'm back now. There have been a variety of reasons I've not been blogging, and in the past few weeks, it's been because I cannot, no matter what I do, upload my own pictures to my draft posts. I'm thinking to do my pictures through my blog's Facebook page, so if you'd like to se them, do please 'like' on FB, see bar at the right hand side of the page.

I’m starting off with Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver first published by Michael Joseph an imprint of Penguin Books in 2013.

The by-line of this book is ‘Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less’, and that pretty much sums it up. It’s important to say, I think, that this is a book for people who already spend money on food and cook themselves. It’s not a book about breadline cooking, it’s a book about good kitchen husbandry, well in my opinion anyhow.

Over the years I have wasted a lot of bits and pieces, and I’m not proud of that. It has taken me a number of years to stop stuffing my fridge with vegetables after the weekly shop, then see a number of them go rotten. I now buy my veg a couple of times a week and have less in the fridge at one time, which means I can really see what is there, and use it well. I’ve focused on vegetables here, as that is what I tended to waste.

Jamie’s book will help me too, he does a number of ‘Mothership’ recipes such as the roast beef below, then gives clever recipes to use up those leftovers, now or later if you freeze them. I say clever, because the leftover recipes are actually recipes that excite the palate, and food I’d want to eat. It’s not just me that’s fussy with leftovers is it?!

The book is nicely styled, laid back, but easy to follow recipes, bit of chat from Jamie, and fabulous photographs of the food from David Loftus. This book has a healthy nod too, and each recipe is calorie counted per portion, and at the back there are also lists in the Nutrition chapter for each dish including fat, saturates, carbs and sugar. There is a Shop Smart chapter followed by recipe chapters of Veg, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Lamb, Fish, and finally Bonus Recipes. There are a few sweet things to do with fruit at the back, but no other desserts.

Next on my to make list is Sicilian Squash & Chickpea Stew, Mothership Sunday Roast Chicken, Quick Chinese Wrap, Snake in the Hole (like toad in the hole), Pulled Pork Peppers, Easy Baked Risotto, Happy and Hearty Scotch Broth and Crispy Moroccan Lamb Pastilla. To name but a few. =)

I’ve made a few of the recipes so far, they have all been lovely and here they are:

Chicken and Chorizo Paella
Loved this one, it was my first make, and it makes a little go a long way, a low effort high delivery week night supper.

Jool’s Sweet Pea and Prawn Pasta Shells
Another quick good supper, I’m going to add a bit of half fat crème fraiche next time to have a bit more sauce.

Hit and Run Chicken
Not a looker this one, but again a really delicious supper

Smokin’ Turkey Chowder
Bit of smoked bacon, turkey (recipe said chicken, but I had turkey) sweetcorn. Happy days as the man himself would say.

Frenchie Salad
Leftover meat, French Puy lentils, French beans and a Dijon dressing. I added extra eggs here are I wasn’t sure how we’d like le lentils. Just as well I did as the miss flatly refused to eat them, she likes eggs though, so that was ok. I’d have liked the toppings over new potatoes better I think, but we are not big on lentils apparently.

Sweet and Sour Fish Balls
I did these with all prawns, as I can’t go squid. I also used plain scone crumbs for the balls the recipe withstood my changes no problem. Add a bit of sugar if you like it sweeter. First sweet and sour recipe where my miss ate the lot! Though the prawn balls were the star, fab little recipe! I did do rice as well, it’s just out of the picture here.

Roast Beef and the Trimmings
Mmmmmmmmmmm!! Need I say more?! Though of course I will. Will definitely do this one again, I used silverside, and it was lovely. We have rib of beef once a year, because it’s so expensive. This is a tender beef recipe that will let you have roast beef more often, but at less than a quarter of the price*. Hubby was very happy and I now have beef leftovers in the freezer, yay! *That is me comparing the price I paid for our last rib joint and this most recent silverside joint.

Looking forward to lots more tasty dinners from this one.

Next Up: Fay Makes It Easy

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Breakfast For Dinner - Review


Breakfast for Dinner is a phrase I came across a little while ago on an American TV show. I’m not a morning cook by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like breakfast food, so breakfast for dinner seems like the ideal solution.

Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth, published by Quirk in 2013. Thank you to the publishers for my review copy.  It’ll take you beyond bacon and eggs, to different places with the likes of Greek Baked Eggs or Shakshuka. It might give you a breakfast food in a different guise like cornflake crusted chicken tenders or granola cookies. If you were feeling very adventurous there is maple bacon chocolate cupcakes!

The book is well presented, nicely written, with hints and tips, illustrated throughout with real do-able photography of the dishes. Recipe chapters are: Main Dishes, Sides and Starters, Drinks and Deserts.
The dish I’ve made from this book is Bacon Fried Rice, a breakfast take on the perennial Chinese favourite. It’s made with brown rice, and I liked what the brown rice did for it. It went down well in my house.

Other dishes I have marked to try include: Savoury Lentil & Carrot Stuffed Crepes, fluffy, flaky and oh so cute Mini BLT Biscuits, Banana Bread Bundt Cake, Chocolate Brownie Waffles with Blackberry Sauce and Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes.

It’s full of dishes you could eat for breakfast if you wanted to, but definitely for dinner. So if you need a bit of inspiration for your BFD suppers this one is for you!

Next Up: Save with Jamie

Saturday, 31 August 2013

A Salad for All Seasons

 
Now, I really must firstly apologise to everyone who follows my blog. I’ve been AWOL for a good while now. This has been partly due to time and partly due to a health issue I’ve been working through more recently (nothing serious).

Now, I’m often asked for reviews of books, even if I’ve not cooked from them first by friends and readers who have sent emails. I’ve pondered this for a good while now, and have decided to do reviews without things I’ve cooked, as well as the normal format of cooking posts. So that should cover all basis, and keep everyone happy as much as possible. You can be sure that although I’ve not been blogging I’m still buying books!! =) So to the book in hand…
Harry Eastwood has had three solo cookbooks, each of them I have anticipated happily. This one possibly more than ever, as I love a good salad. So here we have, A Salad for all Seasons by Harry Eastwood published by Bantam Press 2013.
It is exactly what it says in the title. The main chapters are Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. As well as these though, at the beginning there is a short Dictionary of Leaves and another final chapter at the end – Glazes, Dressings, Pestos and Vinegars. This last chapter contains little gems such as Swiss Dressing, Blueberry Balsamic Glaze and Thyme & Tangerine Vinegar.
The book is really well done and all the recipes are clear and simple to follow. All have calorie counts and how many of your five-a-day you are having, a clock symbol goes with those super fast salads, and a golden halo is shown for the ones that are lowest in calories and highest in 5–a-day quantities. This is not a diet book, there are recipes suitable for eating when cutting back, but there are also lots of recipes that just taste absolutely fabulous too. =) The photography by Laura Edwards is really inspiring too, showing the salads in their fresh beauty.
I’ve tried a number of recipes so far, and am looking forward to the weather heating up just a bit to start properly on the Summer-y salads. The recipes are mainly for savoury salads, but there are occasional sweet ones too. Some of the many other salads I have bookmarked to try are: Lightly Pickled Beetroot, Cucumber and Feta with raspberry Dressing * Spring Store-cupboard Salad of Wild Rice and Garden Peas, * Persian Salad of Tomato, Pomegranate and Cucumber, *Squash Salad with Pomegranate and Prosciutto * Strawberry Salad with White Chocolate Mousse.
The thing I like about all the recipes I have tried is that they have the feel good factor, they fill you up, but don’t weigh you down. Oh and the fact that they have all been delicious so far!

Roast Chicken Caesar Salad
A good main course salad, filling and yummy.

Whopping Potato Salad
This one is really nicely balanced, I love a good potato salad, but so often they can let you down. Not this one though I’m happy to say, potatoes, mustard, celery, spring onions, eggs, gherkins, dill…

Camembert Salad with Cherry Dressing
Now if you have the book already you’ll see I’ve done this one differently from the book, and merely cut the Camembert into pieces instead of coating in breadcrumbs and frying them. This is because I’m allergic to yeast, which is a pity because I did used to love crispy crumbed cheese. Still the cherry dressing is gorgeous with the cheese and nuts. I quite fancy some now, even just thinking about it!

Minnesota Salad
Nothing to do with Minnesota the place, but this is the nickname Harry uses for her boyfriend. Leaves with red pepper - fresh and roasted, mozzarella, and Prosciutto (which I crisped in the oven) and a light balsamic vinegar dressing. Yum.

Waldorf Salad
I was so chuffed with this one, this is a halo recipe. My little one will happily eat seconds of this one, which is no mean feat for a child who didn’t like lettuce! She has a tenacious Mama though, and I didn’t give up on getting her to like it easily. Romaine is her lettuce of choice, which is why I use it a lot. Give me time though and I’ll try and pop in some different leaves too!

Next Up: Breakfast For Dinner.