Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Clean up your mess - Giveaway!

In my last post I made a Sticky Chocolate Pudding, and this is the very sticky, messy dish that I was left with when the delicious pudding had been eaten.

Usually, I would leave this to soak overnight before I even tried to tackle cleaning it.  No point in putting it straight in the dishwasher either as it simply wouldn't clean off the baked on sugary mixture

Fortunately, however this time I had the chance to try out a new product from Cillit Bang.

It's an All in 1 Dish and Surface cleaner.  I didn't use it on my wooden work surfaces as I couldn't see any information about using on wood but it is suitable for all other surfaces including granite. 

The cleaner comes with a natty dispenser which works a bit like those automatic soap dispensers you get in the loos of large organisations.

 Here it is at the kitchen sink (I have a very old butler style double sink)


 You just wave your sponge under the dispenser and it squirts out some of the product.  I started with a slightly less messy dish, it was the one in which I roasted the Slow Cooked Aromatic Pork.

It doesn't look too bad, but there were some burnt on bit of roasting residue stuck to the dish, to be honest I wasn't that convinced that it would be any easier to clean with this than washing up liquid. 



So far so good, the burnt on bits came off quickly and easily in a matter of a few minutes.  So now for a tougher test!



I'm not the kind of person who raves about anything to do with washing up or any kind of housework, but I was impressed by this product.  I'm not so sure about the dispenser, it's not the most sustainable of solutions as it uses batteries and probably dispenses more than you really need.  It would be good for anyone who had problems with their hands and couldn't squeeze a plastic bottle of cleaner but otherwise it's not something I feel is required.

Anyway you can make your own mind up about this because I have three of these  Cillit Bang - All in One Dish and Surface packs to giveaway just follow the instructions below:

Many thanks to Cillit Bang for these prizes.
This is a sponsored post 
Giveaway closes Friday 16th March, 2012

Good Luck!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Nigella's Sticky Chocolate Pudding

We only eat puddings at the weekend and I try to make something on Saturday that will do for Sunday as well.  I wasn't sure what I was going to make but it had to be something messy and sticky (more of this later in the week) so sugar was going to feature and I had a big bar of dark chocolate and a new tub of Green and Blacks Cocoa powder.  Some rootling around in the recipe books and I found Nigella Lawson's  Sticky Chocolate Pudding from 'How to Eat'.


You make up the pudding mixture and put it in the dish, then cover it with dark brown sugar and cocoa and then pour boiling water over the whole thing!


What happens is that the sponge rises to the top and you have a lovely chocolate sauce in the bottom of the dish.

Lovely, rich, sticky and gooey pud. 


On Saturday I served it with soured cream.  I then divided the remaining pudding into ramekins and on Sunday reheated it in the microwave and served with ice-cream.

I would thoroughly recommend this pud.  You get between 6-9 servings, depending on how greedy you are!

I'm entering this for the February Forever Nigella challenge #12 at Maison Cupcake

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Slow Cooked Aromatic Pork

I'm not a huge fan of roast pork. I know, I know, you all love your pork crackling but it just doesn't do it for me. However, this recipe makes the most meltingly delicious pork with all the fragrant flavours of the far east without being overwhelming the meat.

I used a pork joint from Marks and Spencers for this recipe.


The pork is smeared with a paste of various spices, cooked at a high temperature for 30 minutes then on a low heat for 4-5 hours.


Slow Cooked Aromatic Pork is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from his column in the Guardian and I'm entering it for the February River Cottage Rocks#2 challenge which is 'Sunday Lunch'.


I'll also be adding it to the Slow Sunday blog hop at Lavender and Lovage

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Chocolate Button Cake

It's my younger son's birthday at the weekend, I won't see him but my husband is going to visit today to help him move into a new flat and taking the cake with him.  Because I had to make it a little early I chose a recipe which is made with oil and  has good keeping qualities.  It's also a brilliant cake if you don't have an electric mixer because it's easy to make with just a wooden spoon.


Chocolate Cake
190g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
2tbsp golden syrup
2 eggs, beaten
150ml vegetable oil
150ml milk

1. Heat the oven to 160C, grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins.
2. Sieve the flour, cocoa, bicarb, baking powder and caster sugar into a large bowl.
3. Add the syrup, beaten eggs, oil and milk.
4. Beat well and pour into the tins.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm to the touch.
6. Turn onto a wire rack, remove the paper and leave to cool.

Chocolate Icing
50g cocoa powder
2-3 tbsp hot water
50g butter
200g icing sugar, sifted
Packet of Giant Chocolate Buttons

1. Put the cocoa, hot water and butter in a bowl and beat until smooth.
2. Add the icing sugar to make a thick icing
3. Fill and top the cake with the icing and decorate with the chocolate buttons




Monday, 20 February 2012

Seafood Pancakes


I had defrosted some salmon fillets and prawns with the intention of making a pasta dish, however when I saw Karen's Luxury Seafood Pancakes at Lavender and Lovage, I decided to recreate it as best I could. 

Pancakes need few ingredients to make and as long as you have a good non-stick pan, pretty easy to make too.

Basic Pancake Batter
4oz (1 cup) plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 pint (1 1/4 cups milk) 


Seive the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg and half the liquid.  Stir, gradually incorporating some of the flour.  As soon as the batter becomes thick, add the remaining milk .  Beat with a whisk to form a smooth batter of thin pouring consistencey.  Leave to stand for half an hour, then adjust the consistency by adding more liquid if necessary.


Heat a  non stick pan, grease the surface lightly and pour in on tablespoon of batter. Tilt the pan to evenly spread the batter (you will get an idea of how much batter you need after the first pancake) and cook for about a minute and half until the underside is brown.  Loosen the pancake with a palette knife and flip over to cook the other side.  Turn onto a plate lined with a tea towel and keep warm in the oven. This mix made 6 pancakes.




My seafood filling is less luxurious, and more everyday, than the one that Karen made, I didn't have any herb cream cheese, so cooked the fish in some milk, then used that to make a white sauce and flaked the fish back into the sauce.  Seasoned with fennel salt, pepper and nutmeg and spooned onto the pancakes.

Roll the pancakes around the sauce and place in a baking dish, cover with the remaining sauce and cover with a cruncy topping, I used crushed oatcakes mixed with cheese, but you could use breadcrumbs or crushed salted crisps (chips).


I'm always horrified when I see ready made pancakes in the supermarket when they are so simple and so much more delicious to make yourself.  The thicker the batter, the fatter the pancake, add a bit of sugar and you can have a sweet pancake, fill it with whatever you fancy, sweet or savoury.  Pancakes are really very versatile, so thanks to Karen for inspiring me to make pancakes!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Chocolate Chilli Con Carne



Let's pretend that I had read the instructions properly for the February 'We should Cocoa', if I had, then I would have made this recipe with quorn mince or some other suitable vegetarian alternative.  However, sadly that is simply not the case, so if I am disqualified for using beef mince, so be it!

Chocolate Chilli Con Carne
500g beef mince or quorn
3 cloves of garlic crushed
20g of fresh chillis, finely chopped (deseed if you prefer your chilli less hot)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 beef or vegetable stock cube
1 tin kidney beans
4 squares dark chocolate
salt to taste

To serve
Chopped coriander
Chopped spring onions
Sour Cream or Natural Yogurt

1. Brown the mince in a large pan.  Add the crushed garlic and chillis and cook, stirring for a few minutes.
2. Add the tinned tomatoes, stock cube/powder and tomato puree.  Cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes.
3. Add salt to taste, then add the kidney beans and the four squares of chocolate and let them melt into the mixture.
4. Just before serving add some fresh chopped coriander and stir through.

Serve with rice, I used brown basmati rice, topping the chilli with sour cream or yogurt, some chopped spring onions and chopped coriander.

I enjoyed this chilli, the chocolate adds a depth of flavour, ours was pretty hot as I left the seeds in the chillis, I always find fresh chillis quite difficult to judge and either end up with not enough or too much heat!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Chilli, Cheese and Bacon Muffins

It's time for the Sweet Heat Bloggers Challenge at Vanilla Clouds and Lemon DropsEach month there is a different challenge involving the 'hot stuff'. Here is what Lyndsay says about this month's challenge:

"So since this month is the Super Bowl and the start of the 6 Nations Rugby Tournament (and of course the continuance of hockey and football (or soccer!) season!) I decided the theme for this month's Sweet Heat challenge is.....(cue cheer leading squad!)..... Game Food! That means anything you fancy eating whilst watching a big game will work as long as it is spicy!"

I really struggled with this one, as we are not a family who eat while watching TV, let alone while watching sport, we just don't watch sport!  However, I had half a pack of streaky bacon left over from a previous recipe, so came up with the idea of making some savoury muffins.  We ate them with soup, but they would be ideal for snacking on if you were inclined to watch 'a big game' on TV or even live as part of a picnic.

Chilli Cheese and Bacon Muffins

makes 12 muffins
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup veg oil
1 large egg
2 tbsp chilli sauce or relish (I used Maggi Chilli Sauce)
2 cups of plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
50g grated cheddar or other hard cheese
100g streaky bacon, cooked till crisp and crumbled or chopped into small pieces

1. Heat the oven to 200C.  Line the muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Measure the chilli sauce or relish, milk, oil and egg into a bowl and whisk until mixed, add the flour, baking powder, salt, cheese and bacon pieces and stir until the flour is just mixed, the mix shoudl still be lumpy.
3. Divide evenly between the cases.
4. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown. When baked remove to a wire tray to cool.

These muffins keep very well and can be revived by reheating for 20 seconds in the microwave.  The chilli heat was kind of sneaked up on you just when you thought it was a plain cheese and bacon muffin.  If you wanted more heat, just add more sauce and reduce the milk slightly.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Doreen the Cow at Farmersgirl Kitchen

Anchor Butter are celebrating 125 years of butter making this year and I had a message from Doreen the cow asking if I would like some of their celebratory goodies.  How could I refuse?

So first a box arrived and inside was the lovely mug featuring Doreen herself.  Next day the apron and oven gloves arrived, and so it went on, there was at least one more box everyday.  I'm not quite sure what the postie thought of that!

So here is the final round up of Anchor goodies.  Thank you very much Doreen, my son has just moved into a new flat so he got most of this stash although I did keep the tiered cake plate and put the little car away for my grandson when he gets older.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Lemon Love Cakes!

Happy Valentine's Day!

As a special treat, I am offering you a little 'Lemon Love Cake'  which I hope you enjoy.

I'm entering this in the February Tea Time Treats Challenge run by Karen at Lavender and Lovage  and Kate at What Kate Baked, Kate is hosting this month and has gone all 'Romantic'




I'm also entering it for the new Alphabakes challenge run by Ros at 'The more than occasional baker' and Caroline Makes the letter is 'L' and that means Luuuurrrve!


Lemon Love Cakes
125g (4 1/2 oz) butter
125g (4 1/2 oz) caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1/2 large lemon (keeping the zest of the remaining 1/2 lemon for the lemon icing)
2 eggs, beaten
150g (5oz) s-r flour 
1/4 tsp baking powder

 1. Preheat the oven to 180C, line a fairy cake tin or muffin tin with paper cases (you will get more cakes if you use the fairy cake tin, but they will be smaller)
2. Cream the butter in a bowl until soft.  Add the sugar and lemon zest and beat until fluffy. Add the beaten eggs a bit at at time, then add the sifted flour and baking powder into the mixture.
3. Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake for 7-10 minutes, until risen and golden.  Remove cakes to a baking tray and let them cool completely before icing.


75g (3oz) butter
175g (6oz) icing sugar, sifted
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
2-3 tsp squeezed lemon juice
heart sprinkles


1. Cream the butter until soft, sift the icing sugar into the butter with the lemon zest and enough lemon juice to get the right consistency for piping or spreading.
2. When the cupcakes have cooled completely, put the butter icing into a piping bag with a large star nozzle an pipe swirls onto the cupcakes.  Alternately, spread a large teaspoonful over the top with a palette knife.
3.  Sprinkle some love over the cupcakes in the form of some little pink hearts!



As an aside, I went to get my camera to take my blog photos and my husband nearly took off with one of these cupcakes, so they obviously work!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Bacon and Egg Rolls - Random Recipe Anniversary



It's one year since Dom at Belleau Kitchen started his Random Recipes challenge.  So to celebrate this momentous event, we have all had to go back to the first book we used for a Random Recipe.  The first book I used for this challenge was Seasonal Cooking by Claire Macdonald of Macdonald. 


I know that a few people have said they have never heard of Claire Macdonald, well she is well worth finding out about.  An amazing cook, she owns the Kinloch Lodge on the Isle of Skye, she also writes a mean recipe and includes some entertaining stories along with the recipes.  I've seen her demonstrate which is a real treat as she is very skilled and also very amusing.

Anyway, I opened this book and found myself staring at what seemed like a rather uninspiring recipe for Egg and Bacon Rolls.  However, sticking to the rules I thought I'd better give it a go.


Bacon and Egg Rolls (Serves 6)
 4 eggs
3-4 rashers streaky bacon
2 tbsp mayonnaise
freshly ground pepper
a little shredded lettuce
6 brown rolls

Hard boil the eggs .  Grill the bacon until crisp, cool and cut into small pieces with scissors.  Shell the eggs when cool and chop .  Mix together the egg, bacon and mayonnaise in a bowl, season to taste.  I found the bacon was salty enough without any additional salt just a little ground pepper.
Open the rolls and put a some shredded lettuce on the bottom half, pile on the egg and bacon mixture dividing it between the rolls.


I may have been a little sceptical about this being a 'recipe' as such, but it made a really tasty lunch and would also be a perfect breakfast or brunch dish, particularly as you could make up the filling the night before and keep in the fridge until required.




Saturday, 11 February 2012

River Cottage Rocks - Jerk Chicken




There's a new cooking challenge - it's called River Cottage Rocks and it's run by Jo at Jo's Kitchen (The Hungry Blogger).  I don't own a single book by Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall although I have my eye on the Vegetarian one from his last series. However, there are recipes a plenty on the Guardian website so that did not deter me.  

I liked the look of this Jerk Chicken  with Rice and Peas and, strangely, I have never made Jerk chicken, so it was something that I wanted to try.  I used skinned chicken breasts as that was what I had in the freezer and I have to say that they were absolutely delicious, not dry at all and there was just the right amount of heat in the paste.  I didn't leave it overnight, but put the paste on in the morning and left it for around 5 hours before cooking.  The rice and peas I'm not so sure of,  I think I would like to check out some other recipes for this as I was slightly disappointed in the lack of flavour. 

The closing date for this challenge is 12th February, so you need to get your skates on if you are going to take part!
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