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Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Win Delicious Food For Christmas Dinner! - Competition Winner Announced

You may remember in this post I gave all my readers the chance to win an awesome prize hamper courtesy of Knorr and supplied by Forman and Field.  Thank you to those who entered and supported the giveaway by tweeting about it and sharing it on Facebook and other forums, tis very much appreciated.

I'm pleased to annouce that the winner is:

Comment number 3 which was made by Kate from Witwitwoo 

And here's what she has won:

Fresh Free Range Kelly Bronze Turkey - 4-5kg and serves 8-10

Trimmings Pack (includes Chestnuts, Suffolk Bacon, Stuffing and Chipolatas) - for 6

Assorted Seasonal Vegetables - serves 6

London Cure Sliced Smoked Salmon - 200g

Keta Caviar - 100g

Colston Basset Stilton - 500g

And an exclusive recipe using Knorr products created by Marco Pierre White, complete with a few extra ingredients so that you can cook it too.

HUGE thanks to the lovely Knorr and Forman and Field for providing a fantastic prize!

Don't forget that you can find a huge range of delicious by Marco on the Knorr website. There are some fab cooking tips and Masterclasses from Marco too. Take a look!

Silver Spoon Mich Turner Professional Cake Decorating products

HUGE thanks to Baking Mad who sent me some new Mich Turner Madagascan Vanilla Ready to Roll Icing and Ready to Roll Marzipan as well as Pearl, Bronze and Gold Lustres.

I have recently completed a sugarpaste cake decorating course so was able to put the products through their paces with more idea of what I was doing than I would've had 3 months ago.

If you've never done any cake decorating before, or would like some tips, there are fab video tutorials on the Baking Mad website to show you how to decorate using lustres and how to cover a cake in ready to roll icing.

My 3 daughters said that the ready-to-roll icing is just like edible playdough for grown ups.  Fair enough comment I reckon, but kids can have loads of fun with it too, not just grown-ups.  
Once you have covered your cake in the ready-to-roll icing the fun really begins when you can let your imagination run wild and decorate it however you like.  You can use punch cutters or normal cutters with the ready-to-roll icing or cut around templates free hand.  You can even use cookie cutters to create decorations for your cakes, biscuits and cupcakes.
I also used some of my gel colours to colour the ready-to-roll icing and make flowers out of it.  It is really easy to work with, just use a decent amount of icing sugar when rolling it out.  I kneaded in a bit of CMC to the Ready to Roll Icing before I cut out some of the shapes to make them a bit more sturdy.
I used the Mich Turner Madagascan Vanilla Ready to Roll Icing to decorate a red velvet cake that I had made for the Church Christmas Craft Afternoon.
Here's the finished cake:  
The cake didn't last long, it was devoured in about 10 minutes from the time it was first cut! LOL
I also used some of the Mich Turner Madagascan Vanilla Ready to Roll Icing that I coloured red and green to decorate some Christmas Cake Balls for the Church Christmas Craft Afternoon. I used some red edible glitter to make the red icing balls sparkle and also made some small roses to put on top some of the cake balls too.

I used the Ready to Roll Marzipan to cover a couple of Battenberg Cakes.  One was requested by an elderly lady at church as she had friends coming for afternoon tea and wanted something a little bit special to serve them, and the other was given to our neighbours as they also wanted something delicious to serve their afternoon tea guests.

Thanks to Jon for a fab photo xx
The best way I found to use the Pearl, Bronze and Gold Lustres was to paint them onto a silicone mould before pushing in the sugarpaste, then you get even coverage on your decorations.  You could also use a brush to paint the edges of roses or other decorations with the lustres.  They add a lovely touch of sparkle/bling to sugarpaste decorations, especially over the festive season.

Picture by Kiwi Cakes
Once again HUGE thanks to Baking Mad who sent me the goodies to review. Don't forget to check out their website for recipes, how to's and all things baking.  You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole

This dinner is fab for those times when you need a low maintenance meal or are out all day and want to come home to a tasty hot meal.  I have also included instructions for oven cooking incase you don't have a slow cooker.

8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed

500g pumpkin, skin removed and chopped into bite-sized chunks

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp paprika

1 can chopped tomatoes with 1 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (I use a casserole pack)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Place all ingredients, except chickpeas and frozen vegetables, in slow cooker and cook on LOW for 7 - 8 hours.  Add the chickpeas and frozen mixed vegetables and cook on high for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Or if you don't have a slow cooker, put all of the ingredients into a casserole dish and cook in your oven at 180 degrees for about 1 hour. Remove from  the oven, add the chickpeas and frozen vegetables, and cook for another 30 minutes.

I normally serve this with rice, creamy mashed potato or steamed new potatoes and green beans.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sweet potato and pumpkin soup

This soup makes a great snack or a tasty lunch.  It's so easy to make and freezes really well so I normally make extra and freeze some for an easy meal another day.  If you do want to freeze the soup, don't add the cream.  Defrost the soup, gently reheat it and then add a little cream just before serving.

1 kilogram pumpkin, peeled and chopped into chunks

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks

1 large onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp curry powder, use more or less to taste

1 litre vegetable stock

3 tsp vegetable stock powder

100ml cream

Put a little oil into a large pot then add the onion, garlic and curry powder. Fry gently until the onion has softened.  Add the pumpkin, sweet potato and vegetable stock.

Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are very soft and mushy.

Remove soup from heat and puree soup with stick blender, mash with a potato masher, or blend in a food processor.

Stir in the cream and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tray-baked chicken and sweet potato with chickpeas

This is a super quick week night dinner that I usually serve with steamed greens.  Sometimes I substitute the sweet potatoes for normal potatoes or pumpkin and add some peppers and courgettes cut into chunks.  It is versatile and adaptable, use whatever you have available.

2 onions, cut into thick wedges

600g sweet potato (kumara), peeled, cut into 3cm chunks

4 tomatoes, sliced in half

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp olive oil

8 (about 620g) chicken thigh fillets

1 large can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 220ºC. Combine the onion wedges, sweet potato chunks, tomato halves, thinly sliced garlic and half the oil in a bowl. Transfer everything to large baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes each side or until golden.

Add the browned chicken thighs to the tray and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Add the chickpeas and parsley then toss until heated through.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Rudolph Potatoes - A Great Versatile Spud

I was invited to a Rudolph Potatoes Tasting Event at a gorgeous boutique hotel in Tuddenham, called Tuddenham Mill.  It is the perfect getaway for special weekends, and also close enough to Cambridge for business travellers.  Tuddenham Mill is a truly gorgeous venue, quite and peaceful despite being close to the A14 and A11, there was absolutely no traffic noise at all.

Anyway, back to the potatoes!  I love potatoes as they are cheap, versatile, filling and easy to prepare - perfect for a busy family such as ours.  To be honest I can't be bothered buying a different potato for each type of dish I cook, the best I can do usually is salad potatoes and baking potatoes.  We of course grow our own but not over winter and we inevitably run out and have to buy some.

Rudolph Potatoes are a great all rounder, they are equally good baked, mashed or, roasted.  Rudolph is a maincrop potato variety with red skin and white flesh. In fact Paul Foster (Head Chef at Tuddenham Mill and voted Young Chef of the Year by Observer Food Monthly) said that "Rudolph potatoes are available all year round and are one of the most versatile potatoes I have ever used, with a fantastic flavour and texture.”  and he should know as he cooked us a delectable feast for lunch.  We also had a great session learning all about how potatoes are selected for commercial growing and new varieties are developed.  It was great to be able to learn about the whole process from tuber to table.

I was also given some Rudolph Potatoes to take home and they really are rather fab.  I tried them baked, mashed, and also made chips from them and they were delicious and just as versatile as they said they would be.

We devoured one of Paul's creations - Rudolph Potato and Vanilla Terrine with our main course at lunch which was absolutely stunning.

Rudolph Potato and Vanilla Terrine

Paul also talked us through his Perfect Mash and it was sooooo good!  I had to pry the tasting bowl out of my friends hands and almost drag her from the professional kitchen, it was that good.  LOL

Paul in action making his delicious mash
Rudolph Potatoes have very kindly let me share a couple of their recipes on my blog, and here they are:

‘Fiery Red’ Wedges

Serves 4

650g/4 large Rudolph potatoes, washed

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 tsp chilli flakes

2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp dried oregano

Sea salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 200°C/Gas 6

Cut the potatoes into chunky wedges, leaving the skins on.

Put the wedges into a roasting tin and toss them in the oil with the chilli flakes, paprika and oregano.

Season with sea salt and black pepper and cook in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through.

Fiery Red Wedges
Photo courtesy of Rudolf Potatoes

Pavta Batata

Serves 4

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 tsp black mustard seeds

1 large onion, peeled and finely diced

1 tsp turmeric

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

650g Rudolph potatoes, peeled and cubed

120ml vegetable stock

1 x 400ml tin coconut milk

1 x 400g tin butter beans

Sea salt and black pepper

2 tbsp chopped coriander

Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large sauté or frying pan, add the mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop. Add the onions and fry until they become translucent but not brown. Add the turmeric, chilli, coriander powder, cumin powder and potatoes, combine with the onion until mixed thoroughly, stir continuously.

Add the vegetable stock and coconut milk and cook over a gentle heat for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just soft. Stir in the butter beans and cook slowly for another 10 minutes, until the liquid is thick. For a thinner consistency add a little more stock.

Adjust the seasoning and stir in the coriander leaves.  Serve with thick plain yoghurt, mango chutney and poppadoms.

Make sure you cook this dish so that the sauce is not to runny, it should be thick and coat the potatoes well.  You could use chick peas instead of butter beans. Delicious served with a spinach paneer.

Pavta Batata
Photo courtesy of Rudolf Potatoes
Many thanks to Rudolph Potatoes and Tuddenham Mill for a fantastic day and also to Paul Foster for an amazing and delicious three course lunch.

Don't forget to look out for Rudolph Potatoes in your local supermarket and check out their website for more delicious recipes.  You can also find them on twitter.

I went to MasterChef Live - Thanks to Plenty

When an email arrived asking if I would like to go to MasterChef Live it took me all of a microsecond to reply with a YES PLEASE!!!!

I was given a ticket to the event by the lovely PR's who look after Plenty Kitchen Towels.  I met John, Greg and Monica and had the most awesome day.  I also got to cook on the MasterChef Live stage which was terrifying but totally awesome at the same time. LOL

John backstage

Greg who is nearly always smiling

Monica who is really lovely when she's not in the kitchen - she is really!
The MasterChef Live stage
MasterChef Live stage from above

I also met the hilarious and delightful Juan Sheet (whose name is actually Kevin) the Plenty Brand Ambassador and star of their TV ads.

Yes Juan/Kevin is really tall, I'm also rather short LOL
I also had a chat to Micheal Caines who is the award winning Head Chef at the two Michelin starred Gidleigh Park in Devon as well as executive chef at The Bath Priory hotel and Director of ABode hotels.
Micheal Caines was a very charming chap.
I had a chat to Tim Kinnaird as well, who was runner up of MasterChef 2010 and is now proprietor of Macarons & More.

Yes Tim is VERY tall! LOL
Master Chef Live is a fantastic event and I totally recommend going along to see all the fabulous food stalls, meeting chefs and product producers and of course eating loads of quality food.

There are also loads of opportunities to see top chefs in action and learn loads of cooking techniques and tips.
The awesome Monica in action
Thanks heaps to Plenty for the best day out I have had in a long time!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Hot Vegetable and Potato Salad

This recipe can be scaled up or down depending on the number of servings you need. You can vary the vegetables and use what you have, just make sure they are cut roughly the same size. It's a great tummy filler for growing children and is really quick and easy to prepare on busy weeknights and as a weekend lunch.  You could add some nuts for extra protein or perhaps stir in some tinned chickpeas just before serving.

800g salad or new potatoes, thickly sliced

500g mixed vegetables such as courgettes and peppers, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp oil

approximately 2 Tbsp pesto, either red or green (homemade or from a jar)

Put the potatoes and vegetables in a large roasting tin, add the oil and season well.  Bake for around 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Stir in the pesto and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve immediately either on it's own or with some salad leaves.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Our Favourite Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

When I know that I won't be home for dinner and need something that my husband can dish up without much hassle, I normally use my slow cooker.  The dish will bubble away until it needs to be dished up and I can keep an eye on it if I am home for some of the day.  This will be our dinner tonight, one of my favourite comfort food dishes.

6 lamb shanks


salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 carrots, thinly sliced

2 onions, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, trimmed and finely sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

5 anchovy fillets

250 g mushrooms, sliced

1 Tblsp dried oregano

250ml red wine

1 Tblsp tomato paste

300ml beef stock

Dust the lamb shanks with flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large frying pan and brown the lamb shanks in batches, transfer them to the slow cooker once evenly browned. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, mushrooms and oregano to the slow cooker and then pour over the red wine and tomato paste mixed with the beef stock. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Just before you serve the lamb shanks, take them out of the liquid and set them aside to keep warm.  Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a saucepan and simmer it until it has reduced and thickened – make sure you don’t reduce it too much.  You could thicken the sauce with arrowroot/cornflour mixed with a little of the cooled liquid and then stirred back into the sauce.  I usually serve the lamb shanks with mash and steamed greens.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Baking Mad, Allinson Flour & Special Children In Need Pudsey Cupcakes

Allinson Flour have teamed up with supermarket giant Asda to help raise money for this year’s BBC Children in Need appeal. To support the appeal Allinson will be donating 15p from the sale of special packs of their Nature Friendly Plain White and Self Raising flours to the charity. The special packs featuring the iconic Pudsey bear character, are due to go on sale in November and are available exclusively at Asda supermarkets. So next time you’re out shopping be sure to look out for Pudsey in the home baking aisle! 

But that's not all, Baking Mad have a fab recipe for some Pudsey Cupcakes that everyone can make.

225 grams Unsalted Butter

225 grams Caster Sugar 

4 Free Range Eggs

225 grams Self Raising Flour (Allinson Nature Friendly)

1/2 tsp Natural Vanilla Extract

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 160 degrees C fan/ Gas 4. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffins cases.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale, add the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating until mixed. Gently fold in the flour.

Spoon the mixture into the cases until half full.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown or a skewer comes out clean.

Allow cakes to cool on a wire rack.


500 grams Icing Sugar

160 grams Unsalted Butter softened

50 ml Milk

1/2 tsp Natural Vanilla Extract

Yellow Food Colouring

Coloured Choco Beans 

Writing Icing in Black

For the frosting use an electric whisk to mix together the butter and icing sugar then add the milk and vanilla essence and whisk until light and fluffy, then add a few drops of yellow food colouring to achieve a bright yellow frosting.

Using a palette knife, smooth some frosting onto the top of the cupcakes, places some choco beans on the top left side of the cupcake for Pudsey's patch, then use the black writing to draw in his eye, nose and mouth.

Here's what I did:

We were lucky enough to be sent the ingredients to make some of these delicious treats by Baking Mad, huge thanks to them for the goodies that they sent.  I was also sent some fabulous Mich Turner cake decorating supplies which came in very handy, more about those in another post.  I coloured the white sugarpaste the various colours that were needed using a gel colourings from my sugarpaste course and then just cut all the shapes out using cutters or freehand.

I put a thin layer of buttercream on top of the cupcakes and then put my sugarpaste pudsey faces, complete with ears, on top.  I made 48 cupcakes this afternoon for a cake stall that will be held tomorrow to raise funds for Children In Need.  Many thanks to Baking Mad for sending us some ingredients.

My children will be baking theirs tomorrow afternoon as they have been far too tired and grumpy the past couple of nights.  They will sell their cupcakes to the neighbours in our street, I have forewarned them that we will be traipsing about with cupcakes for them to purchase. LOL

Cupcakes with sugarpaste icing, for cake stall

Photo courtesy of Baking Mad.com
We made more cupcakes this afternoon to sell to the neighbours for children in need.  Yes, I know we are a day late but sometimes that's how we roll.  All 3 girls helped out.  Apologies in advance for the appalling lighting in the photos from my phone.

5yo ready to help with baking

11yo using our knackered hand mixer (any donations of new one greatly appreciated)

Cupcakes ready to go into the oven

Cooked cupcakes, waiting to be iced
We didn't make buttercream icing, just made up icing with water, yellow colouring and icing sugar.  They found the black writing icing too hard to manage so used some glittery writing icing that we already had.  Slightly blinged up Pudsey but my daughters definitely approved.

My 3 cherubs finished cupcakes
 Once again, many thanks to BakingMad.com for sending us the ingredients to make and sell these fab cupcakes for Children In Need.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Sausages With Creamy Lentils

This is a really quick dinner that is always popular with my family.  You prepare the creamy vegetables and lentils in the time it takes to grill the sausages.  I can have it on the table in 30 minutes from the first whine until we are happily dining.  It is adaptable for carnivores and vegetarians alike which is a real bonus.

8 good quality pork or vegetarian sausages

1 red onion

1 pepper, any colour

2 large carrots

1 celery stick

2 Tbsp oil

2 bacon rashers, rind removed and then chopped (optional)

2 fresh thyme sprigs or a pinch of dried thyme

200ml hot vegetable stock, made with one stock cube

410g can green lentils

4 Tbsp full fat crème fraîche or double cream

Preheat the grill. Grill the sausages for around 20 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they are cooked through.

While the sausages are cooking, chop the onion, carrots and celery into small cubes or roughly chopped smallish pieces. Heat the oil in a medium sized pan. Fry the bacon (if you are using it) for 3 minutes, then stir in the chopped vegetables and thyme. Cook over a medium heat for 8 - 10 minutes, stirring everything occasionally, until the vegetables have softened.

Pour in the stock and simmer everything for another 8 - 10 minutes until the carrots are tender. Drain the can of lentils and stir the lentils into the vegetables.  Stir well until combined and make sure everything is heated through for a few minutes.  Taste to check the seasoning and then stir in the créme fraiche or cream.  Serve with grilled sausages.

Live online masterclasses from Nathan Outlaw

Nathan Outlaw – the only 2 Michelin starred seafood chef in the world – will be streaming a series of 3 master classes with 3 of the country’s top chefs, live from his website.  Michael Caines, Tom Kerridge and Paul Ainsworth will be cooking alongside Nathan at his restaurant in Rock, Cornwall on 3 separate occasions between November 21st and December 12th.

Between Monday 21 November and Monday 12 December a series of three one-hour long live web
broadcasts will be shown, each featuring a different guest chef. Two Michelin starred Michael Caines (in association with Ruinart Champagne); acclaimed chef Tom Kerridge who has just been awarded a second Michelin star and Paul Ainsworth, the renowned head Chef of No. 6 in Padstow will all be showing off their skills to the nation alongside Nathan.

Each broadcast will consist of presenter led interviews with the chefs and guest diners, followed by a
30 minute live cookery demonstration and a ‘question and answer’ session. The latter will include
the opportunity for viewers at home to email in questions for the chefs. To cap it all off, viewers will
have the chance to win two seats at the Paul Ainsworth Master class on 12th December, plus
accommodation at the St Enodoc Hotel, where Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is situated.

The Masterclasses will take place on http://www.nathan-outlaw.com/ as follows:

Monday 21th November 2011 – Michael Caines in association with Ruinart Champagne

Monday 5th December 2011 – Tom Kerridge

Monday 12th December 2011 – Paul Ainsworth 
So crank up your ovens, all star cooking is coming to a computer near you!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Free From Food Festival

The inaugural Free From Food Festival, taking place at Southbank Centre Square from Friday 25th – Sunday 27th November 2011, will bring together many “Free From” food specialists and the growing number of artisan producers who create a range of gluten, wheat, dairy, sugar and/or egg free goods. The festival will be of interest to all food lovers, as well as those who are genuinely affected by the foods around them. It will appeal not only to coeliacs, but to those with other food intolerances (dairy in particular) through to anyone curious about or wanting to make lifestyle changes to their diet.

Demonstrations and Tastings

The festival promises to have a variety of companies and individuals showcasing their unique, high quality products as well as a schedule of demonstrations, talks and tutored tastings, given by the exhibiting producers themselves, as well as visiting chefs and authorities from the “Free From” world.

Exhibitors will be on hand to educate, offer samples, sell and display their goods, thereby creating an environment where people can learn about, shop, eat and gain further confidence about “Free From” foods as alternative substitutes.

As it’s close to Christmas, many producers will have gluten-free, wheat-free and dairy-free seasonal produce that visitors to the festival can purchase there or order for themselves, friends or family, thereby making Christmas and the holidays an occasion that everyone can enjoy.  Companies such as Wag Free will be selling their latest range of gluten free savoury and Christmas products, Inspiralled and Conscious Food will showcase their more healthy Christmas food gift options.

The event takes place from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th November 2011, 11am-8pm daily (6pm on Sunday) at Southbank Centre Square, behind the Royal Festival Hall.  The venue is five minutes walk from Waterloo & Embankment tube states and various bus routes.  Admission is free.


Friday 25 – Sunday 27 November 2011

Southbank Centre Square, Southbank Centre

Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

FREE Admission

Hotel Chocolat Gveaway Winner

I gave all my lovely readers the opportunity to win a Christmas Bliss Gift Bag in association with Hotel Chocolat in this blog post.

The winner was drawn using an online randomser and the winner was comment 22.

 This comment was made by:


Thank you to all of you who entered the giveaway and congratulations to Laura!  Don't forget there's another giveaway on my blog where you can win a huge hamper of Christmas Dinner Goodies.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Monday Night Vegetable Curry

I love this curry, it's quick and warming, just perfect for a busy Monday night in autumn.  It seems a faff with the list of ingredients but isn't as most are in jars already and you just measure them in.  You can use less of each of the spices if you want to make the curry a little milder, or add more yoghurt.  Make sure you don't boil the curry too hard once you've added the yoghurt or it will curdle and look unappetising.  I use full fat yoghurt as it is more stable under heat and less likely to split.

20g butter

2 onions, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp finely grated ginger

1 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp ground cloves

4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 cauliflower, cut into smallish florets

500g butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cut into 4cm pieces

1 cup (250ml) water

1 cup (250g) full fat natural yoghurt

1 large handful (150g) frozen peas or mixed vegetables

Cooked basmati rice, to serve

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until lightly golden. Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, pepper and cloves and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until tomatoes become pulpy.

Add the cauliflower, pumpkin, water and yoghurt and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until cauliflower and pumpkin are tender and sauce thickens slightly. Add the peas or mixed vegetables and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve the curry immediately with steamed rice.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Jamie Oliver Cookbook Review - "Jamie Does . . . ."

"Jamie Does . . . .  " is Jamie Oliver's personal celebration of delicious and amazing food from six very different countries.

Each chapter focusses on a different city or region - Marrakesh, Athens, Venice, Andalucia, Stockholm and the Midi Pyrenees region of France.  There are of course classic recipes but also new dishes that Jamie learns about in the course of his travels.  Alongside each recipe there's a photograph of the finished dish, as well as various photos of Jamie's experiences in each country.

A quite from Jamie himself about the book: "The food I've embraced on each trip is a mixture of what you could call the clichéd star dishes - the many tagines of Morocco, the flamboyant paellas of Spain, the comforting risottos from Italy and the zingy fresh flavours of a classic Greek salad - and the recipes that I've been inspired to make after walking through the markets and soaking up the vibes of each place. What you'll find in this book is fun, optimistic, escapist food you can actually cook and enjoy in your own home."

It is indeed a fab book with loads of stunning photos and lots of information about each dish with an introduction to each chapter.  This book would make a great Christmas Gift, however I was lucky enough to be given a copy to review.

You may also be interested to know that Jamie also has another cookbook out at the moment called Jamie’s Great Britain that would also be a great Christmas Gift and is available from WHSmith along with many other Jamie Oliver Cookbooks.

*This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to review this book or write this post.  I was however given a copy of the book for the purposes of writing the review that I can keep*

Win Delicious Food For Christmas Dinner! - Competition Now Closed!

With Christmas about 6 weeks away, many of you will be thinking about what too cook for Christmas Dinner.  Imagine winning an awesome prize hamper courtesy of Knorr and supplied by Forman and Field!

One lucky person will win a Free Range Kelly Bronze Turkey worth £74 AND all the trimmings for a perfect dinner!

The contents of the prize hamper are:

Fresh Free Range Kelly Bronze Turkey - 4-5kg and serves 8-10

Trimmings Pack (includes Chestnuts, Suffolk Bacon, Stuffing and Chipolatas) - for 6

Assorted Seasonal Vegetables - serves 6

London Cure Sliced Smoked Salmon - 200g

Keta Caviar - 100g

Colston Basset Stilton - 500g

And an exclusive recipe using Knorr products created by Marco Pierre White, complete with a few extra ingredients so that you can cook it too.

HOW TO ENTER - and conditions of entry

The competition will close at 5pm on Tuesday 29th November 2011 and the winner will be announced on this blog in a separate post.

The winner must be at the delivery address (work or home) they have specified on Wednesday 7th December to sign for delivery of the hamper in order to receive their prize - This date can not be changed!

I will contact the winner at the close of the competition via email.  The winner will need respond before 5pm on Thursday 1st December so that I can pass their details to the supplier of the prize to arrange delivery.
The winner will be picked by an online randomiser at the close of the competition and the prize can only be delivered to a UK address that includes the full postcode.

To enter:

Leave a comment below, with your email address or twitter name, and tell me what your favourite Christmas Dinner is.

For a second entry tweet this post using the Tweet button below and tell me you've done so in a separate comment that includes your Twitter ID/Name.

For a third entry follow my blog with Google Friend Connect, or if you already follow me, let me know in a separate comment.

Don't forget that you can find a huge range of delicious by Marco on the Knorr website.  There are some fab cooking tips and Masterclasses from Marco too. Take a look!

Best of luck everyone!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Lightly Spiced Dried Fruit Chutney

Homemade gifts are a fab way to save money at Christmas time.  This chutney is SO simple and fairly quick, you'll have people thinking you are a domestic goddess in no time at all!  It tastes fab and you can make it as spicy or as tame as you like.  Don't buy chutney for hamper gifts, make your own!

250g dried apricots

250g sultanas

250g dates

250g dried apples

1 litre of boiling water

500ml cider vinegar

440g brown sugar

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 - 1 tsp mild chilli powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 crushed clove of garlic

Chop the dried fruit into smallish chunks then cover with the boiling water, cover with clingfilm and leave overnight to soak.  Don't be too bothered about chopping the fruit really small as you can blend the chutney later on.  When you are ready to make your chutney, combine the undrained fruit mixture with all the other ingredients in a large saucepan or preserving pan.

Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has all dissolved then turn up the heat and bring to the boil.  Simmer the mixture fairly hard for about 1 hour 15 minutes until the mixture is thick. 

I blended the chutney on the right side of the pot, the left side of the pot is still chunky  

The blended/whizzed up chutney
At this point I whizzed mine to a chunky pulp with a handheld blender, don't make it too mushy, leave a few chunks in it. Once the chutney is blended to your satisfaction, put the chutney into sterillised jars. I normally wash, dry and heat the jars in the oven for the last 30 minutes of the chutney simmering time.

All ready to find a home!

This recipe has been submitted for the Let's Make Christmas - Foodie Blogger Gift Swap organised by the most fabulous cookbook author and blogger Vanessa Kimbell.

Ginger and Chocolate Cookies

These biscuits make a lovely gift and are also a welcome addition to a shared afternoon tea.  I accidentially discovered they are freezable too (don't ask).  Why not make some for a friend, teacher or just as a treat with a cuppa.

100g butter, softened

100g caster sugar

1 medium free range egg

50g chocolate, melted

175g plain flour

3 pieces preserved stem ginger, chopped

50g melted chocolate for decoration

Preheat the oven to 180⁰C/Gas Mark 4. Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the lightly beaten egg and melted chocolate.  Beat again until well combined. Gently but thoroughly fold in the flour and ginger pieces.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking trays, leave space around them to allow for spreading. Press down each spoonful of mixture a little with a floured fork. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the biscuits are light brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Once the biscuits are completely cool, then decorate the biscuits by drizzling them with the melted chocolate.

Handy hint: These cookies can be frozen. Defrost them thoroughly and drizzle with the melted chocolate just before serving.

This recipe has been submitted for the Let's Make Christmas - Foodie Blogger Gift Swap organised by the most fabulous cookbook author and blogger Vanessa Kimbell.

Versatile Chocolate Brownines

These brownies are really versatile and easy to make.  It doesn't matter whether you use dark or milk chocolate for these brownies but I find that dark chocolate gives them a much richer flavour.  You can add any additional flavourings you like, depending on your tastes and the occasion that they are being baked for.

175g chocolate, broken up

175g unsalted butter, diced

3 medium eggs

250g caster sugar

100g flour

40g Cocoa Powder

Optional extras: chocolate chunks, chopped nuts, dried cranberries or dried apricots, fudge chunks.

Preheat oven to 180⁰C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure you mix it well and leave it to cool slightly.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy, pour over the chocolate mixture and fold in gently but thoroughly.

Sift in the flour and cocoa and fold in whichever additions you like. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, making sure it goes right into the corners and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. The top should be crusty with a very slight wobble underneath.

Cool completely in the tin, you can refrigerate the brownies in the tin once they are completely cool for a couple of hours or overnight, this makes them much easier to cut.  Cut the brownies cut into squares or rectangles.

This recipe has been submitted for the Let's Make Christmas - Foodie Blogger Gift Swap organised by the most fabulous cookbook author and blogger Vanessa Kimbell.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Mixed Vegetable Pearl Barley Risotto

This is a really warming, filling dinner for when the weather is cold outside and you're in need of some comfort food.  My daughters love this risotto and it's one of their favourite autumn/winter suppers.  It's also a meal that will save you a few pennies too.

50g unsalted butter or 2 Tblsp oil

500g pearl barley

1 vegetable stock cube

300g frozen mixed vegetables

250g mushrooms, sliced

Handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or sage, chopped

150g grated mature Cheddar, or a vegetarian/vegan alternative

Melt a knob of the butter in a medium pan. Add the pearl barley, stir it around so it's coated with the butter, then cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Dissolve the stock cube in 600ml of boiling water, then pour over the pearl barley.

Simmer over a medium heat for 25-30 minutes until the pearl barley is tender. Keep topping it up with another 800ml hot water, ensuring the barley is covered.  When the pearl barley is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat, taste it and adjust the seasoning. Add the frozen mixed vegetables, then set aside with a lid on for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and cook over a medium heat until it starts foaming. Add the mushrooms and fry for 5-10 minutes until they're golden brown. Season to taste. We you're ready to serve, combine the pearl barley and vegetables with the mushrooms, herbs and cheese. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, then spoon into bowls.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Spicy Apple Chutney

I was given a large bag of cooking apples and decided to make chutney out of them.  Jars of homemade preserves make great homemade Christmas gifts and this chutney recipe is really easy and requires little effort. 

1kg cooking apples, peeled and diced

2 onions, finely chopped

500ml cider vinegar

2 cups chopped pitted dates

2 cups sultanas

4cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

4 cups demerara sugar

1 Tbsp salt

½ tsp chilli powder

Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan or preserving pan. Gently bring the ingredients to the boil, stirring it until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer the mixture faily hard, stirring it regularly, for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and the mixture has thickened.

Have sterilised jars ready, mine were heating in the oven for the last 30 minutes that the chutney was boiling.  Spoon the cooked chutney into sterilised jars and seal the jars well.  Store the jars of chutney in a cool dark place a one month before you use it to allow the flavours to mature.

This recipe has been submitted for the Let's Make Christmas - Foodie Blogger Gift Swap organised by the most fabulous cookbook author and blogger Vanessa Kimbell.

Chocolate Anzac Slice

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup plain flour, sifted

1 cup caster sugar

1 cup desiccated coconut

25g butter, chopped

1 Tblsp golden syrup

2 Tblsp boiling water

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/3 cup raisins

200g dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to moderately slow, 160°C. Lightly grease an 18 x 28cm swiss roll tin. Line base and two sides with baking paper, with a decent overhang above the top of the tin.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar and coconut.  In a small saucepan, combine butter and golden syrup. Stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes until melted.

In a small jug, combine the boiling water and bicarbonate of soda.  Quickly pour this into the butter mixture and then into the dry ingredients.  Mix in the walnuts and raisins.

Press the mixture very firmly into the prepared tin using a fork or potato masher.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Cool in the tin.

Spread chocolate over the cooled mixture and chill until firm.  Using a hot knife, cut slab into squares.  Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Nasi Goreng - Worldfoods Nasi Goreng Paste Review

I am a member of the Wordfoods Fusion Taste Team and this weeks challenge was to make Nasi Goreng. 

Nasi Goreng translates as "fried rice" in Indonesian and Malay, and is considered to be the national dish of Indonesia. It traces its origins from Chinese fried rice possibly brought to Indonesia by immigrants in the 15th Century. It is considered taboo in Chinese culture to throw away uneaten food, and as a result the previous day's leftover rice was often recooked the next day.  Leftover rice is in fact more suitable for making nasi goreng, as freshly cooked rice can be too soft and moist, so it may be a good idea to pre-cook your rice. Cook it then cool it down by running it under the tap (a great tip from a previous Fusion Taste Team-er) before you dry it off a bit and fry it (or put it in the fridge to use it the next day - even better).

Indonesian Nasi Goreng is typically stir-fried rice with sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), shallots, garlic, tamarind and chilli and accompanied with other ingredients such as egg, chicken and prawns. There is great flexibility in the recipe and it can use a large variety of ingredients - so pick and choose to create your ideal dish.

Here's the recipe we were given for Nasi Goreng

Serves 2-4


2 eggs

3 tablespoons cooking oil

200g boneless chicken breast, cut into strips (optional)

100g raw prawns, shelled and deveined

300g cooked rice, cooked as per pack instructions (preferably pre-cooked and left to cool; ideally the day before)

Make an omelette with 2 eggs. Cool and shred it thinly.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a wok or frying pan and add 4 tablespoons of WORLDFOODS INDONESIAN NASI GORENG PASTE and cook for 1 minute until aromatic.

Add in chicken and prawns and fry for approximately 5 minutes.

Stir in rice and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until heated through.

Garnish with shredded omelette

Here are some variations on the Nasi Goreng recipe that you might like to try:

• Nasi goreng ayam: the most common nasi goreng with chicken, spices and sweet soy sauce, the color is golden brown

• Nasi goreng istimewa: special nasi goreng, usually refers to nasi goreng ayam with addition of fried egg topping

• Nasi goreng sapi: nasi goreng with beef

• Nasi goreng sea food: nasi goreng with seafood such as cuttlefish, prawns, shellfish and fish

• Nasi goreng amplop: nasi goreng "enveloped" in thin omelette

• Nasi goreng santri: means priest's nasi goreng, refer to a meatless vegetarian nasi goreng

• Nasi goreng sosis: nasi goreng with sausages

• Nasi goreng Hawaii or also called nasi goreng nanas: nasi goreng with pineapple

• Addition of onions, ginger or extra garlic

Additions for garnish:

• Prawn crackers

• Sambal: traditional chilli sauce

• Slices of fresh vegetables: usually cucumber, tomato, lettuce and cabbage

• Spring onions

• Soy sauce

How we got on:

I used strips of omelette with our Nasi Goreng and didn't use chicken breasts as we didn't have any in the house.  I also only used 2 tablespoons of the Nasi Goreng paste to make it milder for my daughters tastes. I also added extra vegetables to the dish.  The recipe was really straight forward, versatile and fab for using up leftovers - what more could you want?

Here's a pic of our delicious dinner:

It was a really quick and easy dinner on a night when one was needed.  Great flavours, versatile and filling - totally recommend that you give it a go.

Don't forget you can follow Worldfoods Fusion Taste Team on Twitter @fusiontasteteam and don't forget to check out the Wordfoods Facebook Page.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Our Favourite Homemade Pizza Dough

My kids love making their own pizzas and we can vary the toppings according to taste, and what we have available. This dough takes no time at all to whip up in a mixer, or get the kids to knead it for you.  You can use leftovers to make calzone with the dough, just roll out as if you are making pizza, put the filling on one side then fold over and crimp closed.  Perfect for a Friday night dinner or weekend lunch, great if you have friends over after school too.

1 cup plain flour plus extra for kneading

1/2 cup wholemeal flour

1 sachet dried yeast

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

about 2/3 cup lukewarm water

Place flours in a large bowl with yeast, salt and dried herbs. Make a well in the centre. Use a bread and butter knife or wooden spoon to mix in just enough water to bind the mixture and form  a dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes to form a smooth (not sticky) ball of dough. Use a little extra flour if you need to.

Spray a bowl and cling film with a little oil spray. Put the dough in the bowl and cover with the cling film. Set aside in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 30 minutes.

Check the dough has risen – when a finger is gently pressed into the dough it will spring back a little bit.

Once the dough has risen, use your fist to punch down the dough gently. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until it's smooth.

Prepare the dough for your favourite toppings. Roll the dough out to make 1 large pizza, or 4 smaller pizzas.