Friday, 19 September 2014

Wine, Chocolate, Green Tea, Noodles and Nuts on My Kitchen Table in September

Welcome to my kitchen table, if you haven't visited before then let me tell you that this is where I review a variety of different products that have been sent to me and I'd like to share with you.

So let's start with a nice chilled glass of wine.  I wasn't able to attend the Matua Sessions launch, but I was offered a bottle to try in the comfort of my own home!  Matua are a New Zealand Winery and the Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is fresh with a real citrus zing, reminiscent of grapefruit and perfect for a warm summer day, an ideal match for fish and seafood. 7/10

Ever thought you might like to be a Chocolatier?  Well you can design your own chocolate bar without all the hassle of tempering with Chocolat Chocolat.  The website is easy to navigate and you can choose both the base chocolate for your bar from different types of chocolate, dark,  white  and caramel chocolate, then you choose from a variety of toppings.  Here is what I chose:

Bar 1 - 70% Dark, toppings - apricots, pecans and amaretti biscuit crumble
Bar 2 -  34% Caramel , toppings - Cappucino Buttons, Honeycomb and caramelised almonds
Bar 3 - 55% Dark, toppings - cinnamon, cardamom and chocolate coffee beans

I usually prefer dark chocolate, but I also loved the caramel bar with it's sweet and crunchy toppings.  This would be a perfect gift for a chocolate lover, or a special treat for yourself.

One custom bar costs £5.95, two custom bars cost £10.95 and three custom bars cost £14.95

As well as ordering online you can visit the Chocolat Chocolat shop in Cambridge for the full range of glorious chocolately goodness.  9/10

It's no secret that we are lovers of really good tea.  Brian is particularly keen on chinese green teas and he was so impressed with the Emperor Sampler Set from Adagio Teas.  This Sampler contains generous portions of the following:

  • gyokuro - Deeply sweet, aroma of freshly buttered greens - no grassiness or harshness. Soft with a balanced, delicate finish.
  • jasmine chun hao - Sweet perfumy cup, notes of warmed sugar, slightly toasty like a fresh biscuit. Light, refreshing and not overwhelmingly floral.
  • jade snail - The tightly rolled fuzzy buds unfurl to deliver intricate notes of roasted nuts, soft smokiness and a hop-like crispness. Delicate yet bold.
  • dragonwell - Inviting, toasty aroma and sweet rounded flavour. Nutty, buttery texture, pleasantly dry finish.

We loved them all, but the dragonwell was probably the one that came out top in our tasting test. the Emperor Sampler costs £13 for four teas 62g , Dragonwell costs £15 for 85g which works out at 40p per cup  8/10

I must now declare that I have NEVER eaten a Pot Noodle in my life!  So when I received a pack of Itsu Crystal Noodle Cups  I was somewhat sceptical.  However, I was pleasantly surprised as the broth, which comes as a paste in a foil pack, was really very delicious and had not artificial flavours or after-taste.   I adored the 'spork' which was really necessary to drink the soup and fish for the noodles,even better each cup is only 171 calories.

Itsu Crystal Noodle Cups are available from Ocado at £2.29 per cup (currently on special offer for £1.75) 7/10

Nuts are such a great ingredient in recipes and also a delicious snack on their own.  Jumble Bee nuts are available through Tesco stores with 175g packs retailing for £2.39.  I decanted a portion of nuts into a small plastic box and took it to work to keep me going through the day.  The nuts were lovely and fresh and the fruit soft and sweet, absolutely delicious.  8/10

I hope you have enjoyed my eclectic mix of foodie treats this month.  I'll be back with more in October.  

I was supplied with these products for review, I was not paid and all opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Win tickets to the BBC Good Food Show Scotland

The BBC Good Food Show Scotland runs from 17 - 19 October at the SECC in Glasgow.  It's going to be a fabulous show for food lovers, there's the Bakes and Cakes Village, the Supertheatre shows and interview stage featuring celebrity chefs Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, James Martin, Ajmal Mushtaq Tom Kitchin and John Torode.

I'm also excited to introduce you to some of my foodie friends and fellow bloggers who will be demonstrating at the show:

Christina Conte of Christina's Cucina who will be coming all the way from Los Angeles
Emma Mykytyn, freelance writer and one half of Food and Drink Glasgow
Stuart Vettesse, who bakes and blogs at Cakeyboi, one of the top baking blogs in Scotland.

There will be hundreds of exhibitors and a producers village where you will discover a range of speciality food and artisan produce.

I'm going to be there on Friday 17th, as a Good Food Show Blogger, and will be reporting back on my foodie adventures at the show.  If you would like to come along to the show too, then I have a couple of exciting options for you.

I have three pairs of tickets for the show (does not include Saturday or Supertheatre seats) to giveaway.  Just enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment and share as required

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to guarantee your tickets, then I can also offer you a 20% discount  until 3rd October, just use the code BL20 when you order your tickets.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Chilli Lime Cupcakes - National Cupcake Week Part 2

How is your National Cupcake Week going?  I hope you have managed to bake or eat at least one cupcake this week, if not you still have time to get baking.  On Monday I shared Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes with you and showed you the nifty gadget from OXO Good Grips for coring cupcakes, today I invite you to get your teeth into these gloriously festive Chilli Lime Cupcakes.

These cupcakes are also cored and then filled with Chilli Lime and Ginger jam (mild) made by my friend Sheena at Galloway Chillies.  If you haven't tried Galloway Chillies Jams then you don't know what you are missing and you should get some ordered up immediately so you too can 'spread a little wildfire'.

As soon as I saw this flavoured icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs I knew I had to have some and that it would pair perfectly with the Galloway Chillies jam.

Chilli Lime Cupcakes

For the cupcakes
125g caster sugar
125g soft butter
2 eggs
grated zest of a lime
2 tsp squeezed lime juice
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the filling
1 tsp Galloway Chillies, Chilli Lime Ginger Jam (mild)

For the Icing
75g soft butter
150g Sugar and Crumbs Chilli Lime Icing Sugar
grated zest of  1/2 lime
1tbsp lime juice

To decorate
grated zest of 1/2 lime
Red cake sprinkles (or if you are really into chilli, finely chopped fresh chilli)

Using a stand mixer beat the sugar and butter together, then add the eggs one at a time, finally add the lime juice and beat the mixture for about 3 minutes until it is light and fluffy.  Sift the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture and beat until incorporated, fold in the grated lime zest.   Spoon the mixture into eight paper case.  Heat the oven to 180C, bake for 20 -25 minutes until golden and when pressed on the top they feel firm.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Once cooled, core the cupcakes and fill with a teaspoon of the Chilli Lime and Ginger Jam. Cut the core in half and replace in the hole to cover the jam.

For the Icing
Beat the butter for a few minutes until light and fluffy, sift in the icing sugar, add the lime juice and zest and beat for a further few minutes until the sugar and butter is combined.  Spread the icing over the top of the cupcakes.

Decorate with grated zest of lime and red sprinkles or finely chopped chilli.

These cupcakes are such a treat, the lime cuts through the sweetness of the jam and icing making the cupcakes taste really fresh and delicious.

I'm entering them for Treat Petite the baking challenge for individual sweet treats run by Mr Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer - the theme is 'Anything Goes'.

I was provided with the cupcake corer and icing spatula by OXO Good Grips and the Flavoured Icing Sugar by Sugar and Crumbs.  I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes - National Cupcake Week Pt 1

It's National Cupcake Week 15 -21 September so if you were looking for an excuse to make or eat cupcakes you need look no further!  I haven't made any cupcakes for quite a while, muffins, scones, tray bakes and sponge cakes have graced my table but not those delightful individual cups of cakey goodness topped with butter cream.

Those clever people at OXO Good Grips have sent me some natty little gadgets to help with creative cupcake construction, first up is the Cupcake Corer which with a simple twist removes a core from the centre of the baked cupcake ready for you to fill it with something delicious, jam, cream, lemon curd or in this case salted caramelised apple pieces.  You then push the cakey core out of the corer, cut it in half (to leave room for the filling) and add the top piece back to the cupcake before adding your icing. It worked really well although I did dig a little deeper with a spoon to get more filling in.

Second gadget I was provided with was the OXO Good Grips Cupcake Icing Knife which is small angled spatula that makes it really easy to top your cupcakes with butter cream or other icing.  I usually pipe my icing on but loved this more relaxed and rustic looking icing (also no icing bag palaver!).

To make things even easier I used Sugar and Crumbs Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar in 'Salted Caramel' flavour. 

Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes 

For the cupcakes
125g soft brown sugar
125g soft butter
2 e3ggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the apple filling
1 medium apple
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp water

For the Icing
75g soft butter
150g Sugar and Crumbs Salted Caramel Icing Sugar
1tbsp milk

A few pieces of fudge, chopped small to decorate.

Using a stand mixer beat the sugar and butter together, then add the eggs one at a time and finally the vanilla extract, beat the mixture for about 3 minutes until it is light and fluffy.  Sift the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture and beat until incorporated.   Spoon the mixture into eight paper case.  Heat the oven to 180C, bake for 20 -25 minutes until golden and when pressed on the top they feel firm.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the apple filling
Peel the apple and chop into even sized pieces, bearing in mind that they will have to fit into the cupcake.  Place the apple pieces sugar and water in a pan and cook on a medium heat until the sugar melts and starts to caramelise and  the apple starts to soften.  Using the corer or a teaspoon, cut a core from the centre of the cupcake and fill with a teaspoon of the apple mixture. Cut the core in half and replace the top over the apples mixture.

For the Icing
Beat the butter for a few minutes until light and fluffy, sift in the icing sugar add the milk and beat for a further few minutes until the sugar and butter is combined.  Spread the icing over the top of the cupcakes.
Decorate with chopped pieces of fudge.

Definitely worth making, the vanilla sponge gives way to the caramelised apples, enhanced by the Salted Caramel Icing and chewy fudge pieces.

Look out for National Cupcake Week part 2 later this week.

I was provided with the cupcake corer and icing spatula by OXO Good Grips and the Flavoured Icing Sugar by Sugar and Crumbs.  I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Why do I write? - A blog hop

I've been nominated by my fellow blogger Lancashire Food for a blog hop, thanks Lindsey for the nomination. I have many friends in the blogging world, I've met some of them in person and it always surprises me just how well I know them through their writing.  So here's where you get find out a little bit about me and my motivation to blog and it should lead to you some other bloggers who you may not yet have met.  
with mini Kelpies at the Royal Highland Show

Why do I write ?
Sometimes I ask myself this question, mostly when I have a backlog of posts to write and am worn out from the day job!  I love to communicate and mostly to communicate about the things that inspire and enthuse me.  I first started blogging because of the crafting that I did, I was part of a craft forum and one or two people started blogs, so I thought I'd have a go too.  The craft blog, Serial Crafter,  is still there and, even though I rarely post on it, there are still a lot of posts to see. I created Farmersgirl Kitchen at the same time (2007) and  put up the occasional post until it started to take over from crafting

What am I working on ?
I currently have 7 posts in draft including this one, and another couple that haven't made the draft stage yet.  These include a review round up, a Bookmarked Recipe and some recipe posts.

How does my blog differ from others of its genre?
Farmersgirl Kitchen is all about home cooking, I offer my readers a eclectic mix of recipes, product reviews, restaurant reviews, cook book reviews and a little bit of travel.  I've been working hard on my food styling and photography, and what I'd really like to be known for is my story telling, both in words and pictures. 

How does my writing process work?
I just write, no one ever accused me of being lost for words!  I sit down at the computer post up the pictures then fill in the blanks.  If I have time, I'll leave the post and come back to it the next day to see if I can improve the writing, but often I just spell check, preview and post! 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my blogging life, part of the rules of this blog hop is to nominate two other bloggers, here are two very special blogs full of cake and kindness, I give you... 

Sew White  and  Jo Blogs, Jo Bakes

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Posh Burgers, Velvet Chicken and Scandi Salad - all in a box!

Do you find it difficult to decide what to cook?  And sometimes when you find a recipe you want to make, are you thwarted by not having all of the ingredients?  If the answer is yes, then you might want to order a Gousto box, especially as I have a special discount for your first order (see bottom of post).  Here is how it works:

  • You choose the recipes from the website
  • Gousto does the shopping
  • Gousto measure everything
  • Gousto deliver for free
  • You cook and enjoy

Since the last time I reviewed a Gousto Box in 2012 they've made their boxes even better. Prices have been lowered by 17%, so meals now only cost £4.00 - £5.80 including delivery (three meals £34.99). That's on average 16% better than most supermarkets according to

The boxes still deliver the same great quality, using high quality animal welfare meat from British farms and Soil Association certified organic vegetables.  Gousto also have a new website so you can easily make your menu choices on your mobile phone, you can also rate the recipes more easily.
There are two new chefs at Gousto, Remi and Alice, who are creating amazing new recipes every week.  Have a look at the menu, there are 10 new recipes every week for you to choose from.  I had three recipes, each for two people,  in my box and every single one of them was super delicious and I learned a few tricks that I will use in future cooking.
Posh Burger and Chips with Homemade Ketchup: Rosemary-rubbed chunky chips, shards of melted cheddar and a trio of delicious handmade condiments make this burger something really special. This was a straightforward recipe to make even though there were lots of different components.  Including chunks of cheese in the burgers works really well, you don't really taste cheese, it just adds a lovely creaminess to the meat.  The star of the show was the homemade ketchup which I will definitely be making again.
Crunchy Chicken Cashew Stir-Fry with Basmati Rice: This recipe uses the velveting technique.  Velveting is cooking meat in egg for an extra moist finish. It sounds challenging, but it's surprisingly simple and makes this chicken stir-fry extra special. Cashew nuts make a delicious addition to a stir-fry and they are also rich in essential minerals like magnesium, iron and zinc.

The stir-fry chicken was really simple to make and made two generous portions, I reckon you could serve it to three people without any complaints.  The velveting made for the most tender chicken I've ever stir-fried and I will certainly do that again.

Summer Mackerel with Warm Gem Salad: The use of lemon in this dish helps to give the recipe a real zing and brings out the flavour of the mackerel.  

The quality of the mackerel was excellent and the flavour combinations were reminiscent of Scandinavian food. The onions are immersed in vinegar which reduces the pungency of it's raw flavour, another thing I hadn't tried before.

If you would like to try a Gousto Box you can get £25 off your first box by using the code FARMERSGIRL which works out at approx £9.99 for three gourmet meals for two.  

I received a Gousto box to review, I was not paid for this review and all opinons are my own. 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Chocolate and Banana Nut Cake

It was my birthday recently and, although I did have a beautiful Dundee Cake, made by my Mum, on my birthday, I decided to treat myself to a little indulgence and create my own cake.  

I had been sent a packet of cob nuts covered in Ghana milk chocolate by the lovely people at Potash Farm in Kent and decided to use them in a nutty, chocolatey delight.

Kentish cobnuts were favoured by the Victorians who enjoyed them as an after dinner accompaniment to vintage port. They have been grown around St Marys Platt in Kent since the early 1800s and by the turn of the century an estimated 7000 acres had been planted in orchards known locally as plats.  Cob nuts are available from Potash Farm in a variety of forms, but a lightly toasted nut enrobed in either single estate Ecuador plain or Ghana milk chocolate has to be one of the best.

Chocolate and Banana Nut Cake
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons hot milk
100g soft butter
175g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g spelt flour (or plain flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp Chocolate Hazelnut spread 
45g chopped chocolate covered cob nuts (or hazelnuts)

1. Heat the oven to 180C.  Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.

2. Peel the bananas and mash them in a large bowl.  Dissolve the Chocolate Hazelnut spread in the hot milk, mixing until there are no lumps, then add the bicarbonate of soda.  Pour/spoon this mixture into the bowl with the bananas, then add all the other ingredients except the nuts, and beat well with hand mixer.

3. Chop the nuts roughly leaving good sized chunks, then fold them into the mixture.

4. Fill the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about an hour.  It should be well risen and brown.  Test with a skewer and if it comes out clean the cake is ready.

5. Turn it out and remove the lining paper.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.  Once the cake is cool make the icing/frosting.  

For the icing/frosting
50g butter
1 tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread
2 tbsp cocoa powder, sieved
3 tbsp milk
150g icing sugar sieved

To decorate
40g chocolate covered cob nuts or hazelnuts

Melt the butter in a small pan add the cocoa and the chocolate hazelnut spread, stir to blend and cook gently for 1 minute.  Stir in the milk and the icing sugar.  Take off the heat and mix well, then leave to cool, stirring occasionally until the icing thickens.

Spread the icing over the top of the loaf cake with a wet spatula, don't worry if it looks a little bit oily, it will settle as it sets.  

Chop the remaining cob nuts in half  and place onto the icing to ensure an even coverage.  Leave the cake for a couple of hours before cutting.

This cake was one of the best I've ever made, the texture is fine and it cuts beautifully.  The flavour of the chocolate hazelnut spread is subtle, the banana gives the cake moisture and the icing is just soooo good, the chocolate covered cob nuts really added a lovely crunch and creamy texture to the cake and the topping.  I can assure you that it didn't last long.

If you would like to buy some chocolate covered cob nuts (£6.50 for 120g) or any of the other products from Potash Farm use this code to get 10% discount on all products at Potash Farm: farmersgirl10

Free nationwide delivery direct from Potash Farm available. Order online from

Facts and figures about cobnuts
  • The official cobnut season starts on August 22nd, St Philibert’s Day
  • Cobnut pickers are called ‘nutters’
  • 6 cobnuts offer the equivalent iron and protein of ½ lb of red meat.  They are also high in calcium and vitamin A
  • The cobnut is a cultivated form of hazel. While the classic hazelnut is fingernail shaped, cobnuts are broader, longer and shaped more like a thumbnail.
  • Fresh and unprocessed, cobnuts can be eaten moist straight after picking in late August and September, when they have the texture of a sweet chestnut.
  • As they turn brown in the autumn, cob nuts dry out and the starch inside turns to sugar, they become much sweeter.

I'm entering my Chocolate and Banana Nut Cake for Bake of the Week at Casa Costello

I'm also entering this cake as my afternoon tea delight for The Great Denby Cake Off
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