Saturday, 31 August 2013

Butter Cookies and Writing with Icing



It's not very often that I am called to 'write' with icing and I admit I'm not particuarly good at it, but I will have a go.  Here are a couple of cakes I've made and written on this year.


I practised on a spare bit of fondant for this cake I made for my Mum.

And it was this cake which attracted the attention of Cake Decorating Store who kindly offered me the opportunity to choose a product from their website to review here at Farmersgirl Kitchen.

I chose this Wilton's Make-Any-Message letterpress set as I thought it would be helpful when I have another icing writing project to complete. There is also a Wilton Easy Pipe Script Message Set but I wanted to have the flexibility of making my own messages. The Letterpress is easy to use, you do need to trim the letter pieces after separating them or they don't fit into the slide bar. 


I made a simple Butter Cookie recipe which makes a nice firm cookie for cutting and shaping.  I also had the chance to try out my Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Rolling Pin as the dough was to be 1/8 in or 3mm thick and it worked brilliantly giving me a nice even dough.  The letters are quite large and only in upper case so I had to choose short words for a my cookies.  A cake would give more opportunities for longer words!


Here are the baked EAT cookies, which would work perfectly well without the icing as well as being a really easy guide for piping the letters, giving a nice even size.

Butter Cookies
2 1/2 cups (350g) plain flour
1 1/2 sticks (180g) butter, cubed
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (140g) icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Using a stand mixer with paddle (K) attachment or food processor with dough blade, mix together the flour, butter, salt, icing sugar and lemon zest until crumbs form.
2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix for 1 minute until all the ingredients are combined and dough forms.
3. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).  Wokring on a lightly floured surfcace, roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/8 in/3mm.  Using any cookie fo your choice, cut out rounds of the dough and transfer to abaking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 ins apart.
5. Bake for 22-25 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
6. Cookies can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container at room termperature.

I also tried the letterpress on some circles of fondant and iced over the letters.  As you see I had more success with HIM, but that was really down to not having cut the end of the piping bag properly as I piped HER first, then trimmed the piping bag and it worked better after that. Again, I think the ability to get the letters so even makes a much more professional finish. 

I made some other toppings for the cookies with some of icing that had been left over from the train cake.  I've had the Gerbera/Sunflower stamp for a while and not used it much, I see that it is also available on the Cake Decorating Store website, along with pretty much everything else you might need to ice and decorate cakes, cupcakes and cakepops.


Many thanks to Cake Decorating Store for the opportunity to review the Wilton Make a Message Letterpress, I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Dish of the Month Round Up August and Prize Winner

Once again it's round up time for Dish of the Month with more fabulous dishes made from recipes by Nigel Slater.


Dom from Belleau Kitchen  chose one of those perfect recipes where you throw everything in a roasting tin, to create an easy but deliciously carmelised Summer Sausage Stew with cider and radishes.

Feel like you are having a bit of deja vu?  Nigel obviously has a penchant for throwing things into roasting tins and so do I!  My Dish of the Month was Baked Chicken with tomatoes and olives from the Kitchen Diaries II.

Welcome to Dish of the Month Newbie, Deon Van Schalkwyk of Sumptuous Delights who was somewhat daunted by the Kitchen Diaries II until (drumroll) she saw this blog event and realised just how fabulous and accessible KDII is, and made this Mushroom and Asparagus Tart with Pancetta pieces.  Hope you will join us again Deon.

 Claire from Foodiequine served up a fabulous Smoked Haddock with Leeks and Sweetcorn made from local produce with a dash of rapeseed oil 'as used by Nigel Slater'.

Sue, from A Little bit of heaven on a plate, crocheted this Lemon and Thyme cake along with her Afghan blanket - hee hee hee.  It's another great recipe from the Kitchen Diaries II.


A beautiful photograph of a glorious dish from Karen at Lavender and Lovage, Saint Marcellin Cheese, tomatoes and basil from the first Kitchen Diaries book, read more about this creamy French cheese on Karen's blog.

Rachel at Marmaduke Scarlet always comes up with an interesting dish for Dish of the Month and this month is no exception.  Roasted Courgettes with Thai-style Minced Chilli and Lime Pork is a variation on Nigel's Baked Marrow with Minced Pork from Tender 1.


And the winner of a copy of Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food is 
#4 Karen Burns Booth.


As hosts of this challenge Sue and I were excluded from the draw, which was carried out using the Random Number Generator.


The September challenge will be posted on 1st September.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Walkers Mighty Lights - Review

 

I have a bit of a confession to make...I just love crisps and snacks, I would probably choose them over cake and chocolate.  But I'm very aware of the fat and calorie count in the average pack of crisps so I try not to buy them as they are just too tempting.

With 30% less fat than standard crisps, Walkers Mighty Lights are the perfect way for me to enjoy my guilty pleasure without the guilt! They are tasty, ridged crisps that come in three flavours - roast chicken, cheese and onion and lightly salted. All the flavours are suitable for vegetarians, and are available in shops nationwide. They're made from real potatoes with no artificial colours of preservatives and they're a source of fibre. 

 
I would normally choose ready salted crisps and the Lightly Salted Walkers Mighty Lights were very tasty.  They are thick and the ridged texture helps with the crunch.  I don't know exactly how they are made but from looking at them I think that they are made with re-constituted potato (as with many other brands) rather than sliced potato, they are less greasy and have more of a baked flavour than a fried one. The flavour is good and I could detect no artificial taste that you sometimes get with reduced fat products.   I have also taste-tested the Cheese and Onion flavour and the Roast Chicken flavour, they both tasted as you would expect for these flavours and were not over-seasoned, allowing the potato flavour to come through.


I really liked that the bags are 25g which is quite enough, particularly for children's lunch boxes. 

Typical Nutritional Values
A 25g pack of  Lightly Salted Walker's Mighty Lights contains 114 kcal, 4.7g Fat (7%), 1.2g Fibre and 0.28g Salt (5%).

Ingredients: Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Lightly Salted Seasoning.  The Lightly Salted Seasoning contains Salt, Flavourings, Sugar, Spices and Herbs

Tesco currently have Walkers Mighty Lights 6 pack for £1.00 (price correct on 27.08.13) which makes each pack just over 13p each which is a bit of a bargain.

I received compensation and three multi-packs of Walkers Mighty Lights for writing this post, however all views are my own.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Peach Melba - a Retro Tea Time Treat

Peach Melba is a simple dish of fresh peach served on icecream with a raspberry sauce. But famous French Chef, Auguste Escoffier knew what he was doing when he created this dish for Australian Opera Singer Dame Nellie Melba, because the ingredients complement each other perfectly.
I halved the peaches and took out the stones, then poached them gently in a sugar syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) for about 5 minutes on a low heat, slip off the skin and chill. If you have really fresh peaches you can just pour boiling water over and slip off the skin.
I always feel it's a bit of a shame to push the fresh raspberries through a sieve, I don't mind the seeds and like the fleshy pulp, so I just crushed my rasps with a fork and added a teaspoon of icing sugar.
Serve the peaches on a scoop of vanilla ice cream and spoon over the raspberry crush or sauce.
I'm entering this for Tea Time Treats, the challenge run by Kate of What Kate Baked and Karen at Lavender and Lovage. This month's theme is Ice Creams, Jellies and Chilled Desserts
This dessert also fits the theme of Summer Puds for Four Season Food run by Anneli at Delicieux and Louisa at Chez Foti


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Ruby Red Strawberry Crumble - Mouthwatering Vegan Review



For the benefit of any new readers of Farmersgirl Kitchen, I am not a Vegan, I am not even a Vegetarian.  I do, however, enjoy meatless meals so I was interested to receive a copy of 'Mouthwatering Vegan' by Miriam Sorrel, to review.  

About the Author
Miriam Sorrell is the blogger behind www.mouthwateringvegan.com  She is a natural health practitioner and vegan chef and currently lives in Malta.


About the book
Mouthwatering Vegan is promoted as a book of vegan recipes for everone's favourite comfort foods.  Miriam challenges herself to replicate dishes that are usually impossible to include in a vegan diet and opens up the scope for what vegan eating can be.  Included in the book are recipes for vegan cheese, cream and mayonnaise; Chilli Con 'Carne', Shepherd's Pie, Mince and Ale Pie, Stroganoff Supreme and the Perfect Roast.

I was rather surprised by this approach to vegan cooking, surely the point of being vegan is not to eat or use products from any living thing?  So why would you want to recreate recipes which are based on meat and dairy?  Many of the recipes use substitutes for meat and dairy products such as vegan bacon, vegan ground meat substitute, vegan burgers, vegan beef strips or textured vegetable protein (TVP) it is perhaps a matter of semantics but it still seems a little strange to me.

The Chapters
The Introduction tells you a little about the author and her reasons for choosing a Vegan diet.
Vegan Nutrition and The Vegan Pantry are very well laid out and would be extremely useful for anyone starting out as a vegan.
Breakfast, Juices and Smoothies includes Blackberry Muffins, Scrambled Tofu with Mushrooms, Sizzle-Sozzle Sausages, Banana Oat and Cinnamon Smoothie and Rose Coconut and Cardamom Smoothie.
Appetisers and Sides includes Moroccan Smoked Eggplant Dip, Pecan and Cognac Pate, Chilli, Olive, Garlic and Rosemary bruschetta and Mouthwatering Vegan Pastizzi.
Soups and Salads includes Greek 'Chicken' and Lemon Soup, Creamy Coconut Broccoli Soup, Cherry Tomato Soup, Cherry Tomato, Chickpea and Orange Pepper Salad and Rainbow Rice Salad.
Pasta, Pizza and Burgers includes Five Perfect Pesto Variations, Nutty Ragu Bolognese, Cheesy Cauliflower Pasta Bake, State-of-the-Art Lasagne, Stir-fried veggies with Cashews and Noodles, Fast Layered Tomato Cheese Burgers and Wacky Hot Dogs.
Curries includes Fastest Thai Curry ever, Orange and Chocolate Knockout Curry,  Sweet Potato Fusion Curry and Tandoori Kofta Masala.
Mouthwatering Mains includes Chilli Con "Carne", Greek Garlic Bean Stew, Spicy Rice and Quinoa Bake, Juicy Portobello Steaks in a Peppered Cognac Sauce, Lemon Spiced Dolmades, Sweet Potato Moussaka, Cornish Style Sausage Pie, Mince and Ale Pie and The Perfect Christmas Roast.
Desserts, Cakes and Treats includes Raw Chocolate, Fruit and Nut Balls, Maltese Date and Fig Bars, Chocolate, Kahlua and Orange Trifle, Ruby Red Strawberry Crumble (see recipe below), Double Chocolate Coke Cake and Bountiful Coconut Chocolate Bars.
Decadent Cheese and Dairy Alternatives includes Happy Milk, Vegan Mozzarella, Mature Cheddar "Cheese", Nutty Parmesan and Bechamel Sauce.

The final chapter is "Why Vegan?" where Miriam explores the ethical, dietary and environmental reasons for being vegan.

There are over 130 recipes and I found myself drawn toward the Appetisers, Salads and the Desserts and any recipes which didn't use substitutes.

I had bookmarked the Cherry Tomato, Chickpea and Orange Pepper Salad but in the end decided to make the Ruby Red Strawberry Crumble


Ruby Red Strawberry Crumble 
serves 4
1 1/2 lb (750g) fresh strawberries, washed and sliced into 3-4 slices each (I used frozen strawberries, which I baked from frozen and left whole, it worked perfectly well.)
2 tsp (10ml) turbinado or raw sugar
2 tbsp (30ml) maple syrup
1 cup (250ml) unbleached all purpose or wholewheat flour, or a combination
1 1/2 tbsp (22.5ml) rolled oats
3 tbsp (45ml) vegan white sugar or turbinado sugar
3 tbsp (45ml) vegan margarine
1/2 tsp (2ml) almond extract

1. Distribute the strawberries evenly in a 9 x 13 inch (3.5L) greased casserole dish, then cover with the sugar and pour the maple syrup over the top.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C)
3. Place the flour, oats and sugar in a food processor and process until crumbs are formed.
4. Add the margarine and almond extract and process for a few moments.
5. Tip the mixture into a large bowl and continue to crumble by hand.  You should be left with a crumble mixture, not a dough, it if over thickens, add a little more flour to dry it out.
6. Distribute the crumble as evenly as possible on top of the strawberry filling, cover in aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes (baking covered helps the filling to cook and yield its nectar).
7. Uncover and cook for another 15 minutes, until the crumble turns golden.  Serve hot.

 

This is an excellent recipe and very forgiving.  I did the first 20 minutes with the foil lid earlier in the day when I had the oven on anyway, then reheated the crumble for 15 minutes to crisp up the crumble.  The frozen strawberries worked really well, I don't usually freeze strawberries, but they were given to me on a day I had already bought some strawberries and didn't have time to use the for anything else. 

I served the Ruby Red Strawberry Crumble with vanilla icecream on the first night and then with custard the second time I served it.  I can thoroughly recommend this crumble, it's the first time I've used strawberries in a crumble and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.  There is no overwhelming taste from the Maple syrup nor is the fruit too sweet. The crumble is not very crisp but I know from experience that that is the oats in it, but it is quite light and not cloying at all.  I got five generous helpings from the dish, so I think it could easily stretch to six.

Pros
There are many interesting and varied recipes in Mouthwatering Vegan, each recipe has a page to itself with a bit of introduction, ingredients on the left and instructions on the right. The photographs are excellent and really do make your mouth water.

Cons
I definitely struggled with the concept of meat and dairy style recipes, but as I said at the beginning, I'm not a vegan and as Miriam says "each of us should take responsibility for our food choices" so each to their own.  My only other comment is that the book does not sit open easily, it's a large paperback and I think the spine would eventually break from pressing it open. 

The Verdict
If you are a vegan or are interested in becoming a vegan, I would suggest you start with Miriam's blog and if you like her style of cooking then you will love having all the recipes organised into a book.  I'll certainly make some of the  recipes, at least those which don't use processed substitutes, as that is my choice.

Mouthwatering Vegan by Miriam Sorrell
Published by Appetite by Random House
A special US import distributed by Turnaround
RRP £19.99

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Mixed Vegetable Curry - A Random Recipe


If you had 10 seconds to grab one book, which one would it be?

That's the challenge that Dom set for Random Recipe Challenge #31 I stood in front of my cookery book shelves in the kitchen and panicked! Scanning along the books, I saw so many books that I love to cook and bake from, how could I choose only one? Then I saw it, Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, The Cooks Classic Companion. 
  
When I was growing up my Mum always referred to her Good Housekeeping Cookery Book and she still does. I can't remember when I got this book, it was published in 1998, so probably not that long after that. It has pretty much everything you would ever need in the way of recipes and is definitely my GO TO book.
Now, I know we are supposed to randomly pick the recipe were going to cook, but in this case I had a lot of vegetables in the fridge so I picked randomly from the Vegetarian chapter and came up with 'Mixed Vegetable Curry' on page 228.
Mixed Vegetable Curry
Serves 4-6

1.4kg (3lb) mixed vegetables, including cauliflower, carrots, potato, parsnip and frozen peas
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2.5cm (1inch) piece fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
1-2 garlic cloves
2 green chillies, halved and deseeded
30ml (2tbsp) ghee or vegetable oil
10ml (2tsp) turmeric
10ml (2 tsp) ground coriander
10ml (2 tsp) ground cumin
5ml (1 tsp) ground fenugreek
8 whole cloves
8 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
600ml (1 pint) canned coconut milk
300ml (1/2 pint) water
salt and pepper
coriander sprigs, to garnish

1. First prepare the vegetables. Divide the cauliflower into florets. Peel the carrots, potato and parsnip and cut into chunks.
2. Put the onion ginger, garlic and chillies in a blender or food processor and process until almost smooth.
3. Heat the ghee or oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, add the onion mixture and fry for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add all the spices and cook over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring all the time.
4. Add the vegetables to the pan and stir to coat in the spice paste. Gradually stir in the coconut milk and water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45-55 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender, depending on the varieties used. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.
5. Leave the curry to stand for 5 minutes to allow the flavours develop before serving. Garnish with coriander and serve with naan bread, pickles and plain rice.

As usual, Good Housekeeping came up trumps, this was a simple but tasty curry which created 8 good sized servings and got better with keeping. Watch out for the whole spices, crunching on a clove or cardamom pod is best avoided. 

 If you'd like to join in with the Random Recipe Challenge head over the Belleau Kitchen to find out more.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

CICCHETTI and other small Italian Dishes - Review and Giveaway!

Cicchetti are the Venetian equivalent to tapas, served in bars, bacari and other eateries. Outside Venice these special snacks are not called cicchetti, but spuntini, piccolo cibi and stuzzichini.
CICCHETTI is a book divided in two, the first half written by Lindy Wildsmith celebrating the Venetian tradition, the second half written by Valentina Harris, featuring delicious bites from other areas of Italy. 

About the Authors
 LINDY WILDSMITH is an experienced food writer. Her interest in food and travel has led her to
write several books about Italian food, as well as the highly acclaimed Cured. Lindy speaks fluent
Italian, runs Italian cookery courses and has an in-depth knowledge of Italy and its gastronomy.
Her recipes are designed for people who enjoy cooking, eating and good company. Lindy writes a
blog, grown-upfood.blogspot.com, and you can follow her on twitter @lindywildsmith.

VALENTINA HARRIS has enjoyed a long career writing and teaching about authentic Mediterranean dishes. She has carved herself a career as a self-styled ambassadress and expert on Mediterranean gastronomy and diet, and has written over 30 books on Italian food, where she shares her food philosophy of using local, seasonal produce to make dishes with maximum care and minimum fuss. She now lives in London and teaches at several cooking schools when not writing and offering her services as a consultant and private caterer.

 Introduction
There are several pages of introduction to Cicchetti telling you about the dishes, the area and providing 'the basics', advice on deep frying, lard, polenta, Crostini and Crostoni.

Contents
Chapter 1-Pescheria. Venice: Seafood
Including various versions of Polpettine, deep fried fish balls, Black cuttlefish stew with polenta, Gratin of mussels, Jewish-style salt cod fritters, Soused Sardines, Hot Smoked Trout and mustard bites, Fresh Shrimp in parsley dressing.
Chapter 2 - La Drogheria. Venice: Eggs, Cheese, Cured Meat
Including Hard Boiled Egg Halves (see recipe below), Ricotta and pancetta crostini, Deep-fried polenta sticks filled with stracchino cheese.




Chapter 3 - L'Erbaria. Venice: Vegetables
Including Crepe pouches with vegetables, Broad Bean tartines, Sweet and sour pumpkin stuzzichini, Aubergine patties, Risi e bisi.
Chapter 4 - La Beccheria. Venice: Meat
Including Cotechino sausage with mushrooms and polenta, Meatballs made with beef, Carpaccio of beef fillet with asiago cheese.
Chapter 5 - Il Bacaro. Venice Aperitivi
This chapter is all about the drinks of Venice, they even have their own word for a relaxing drink: ombra, which means shade and relates to when portable wine bars used to follow the shadow of the Campanile bell tower across St Mark's Square. Including Bellini, Negroni, The Florian spritz, The Trieste spritz, Lemon sorbet with prosecco and vodka, and Cumin Seed flavoured grappa.
Chapter 6 - Abruzo & Molise
Including Stuffed mini pancakes with broad bean cream, Cocoa-dusted baby onions, Rich Melted Cheese on toast, Mint, garlic and ricotta pasties and Pan fried hazelnuts.
Chapter 7 - Basilicata
Including Vegetable Fritters, Fried sun dried peppers and Spicy sauteed vegetable crostini.
Chapter 8 - Calabria
Including Stuffed Aubergine rolls, Stuffed Tomatoes (see  recipe below), Mini pizzas with spicy salami, Calabrian ricotta pizza and Fresele with tomatoes.
Chapter 9 - Apulia
Including Tuna parcels, Mussels with basil on crusty bread, Basic tomato sauce with garlic and Pancake rolls with mussels.
Chapter 10 - Campania
Including Mini calzoni, Mini fritto misto of fish, Neopolitan cheese loaf and Neopolitan scrambled eggs.
Chapter 11 - Lazio
Including Roman rice fritters, Prawn fritters, Mozzarella in a golden carriage, Bruschetta with langoustines and Hot polenta flour buns with sultanas and rosemary.
Chapter 12 - Sicily
Including Deep-fried capers, Meatballs wrapped in lemon leaves, Chickpea fritters and Sicilian marinated olives.
Chapter 13 - Sardinia
Including Eel wrapped in vine leaves, Tuna bites with olives and pancetta, Fish empanadas and mini ricotta frittata.
Chapter 14 - Tuscany
Including Tuscan pate on toast, Stuffed baby squid, Tuscan oil and garlic toast and Mini bread rolls with garlic and anchovies.
Chapter 15 - Umbria
Pancetta and rosemary pancakes, Baked cheese twists, Stuffed courgettes flowers and Pecorino with fresh broad beans.
Chapter 16 - Emilia Romagna
Including Mortadella, asparagus and parmesan,  Deep-fried ravioli, Dates wrapped in Parma ham, Parmesan biscuits and mini lamb cutlets in the Bolognese style.
Chapter 17 - Liguria
Including Focaccia with cheese, Deep-fried herbs, Esater Pie, Mini mozzarella balls with mint and chilli and Mini frittata with fresh herbs.
Chapter 18 - Lombardy
Including Crispy balls with a melted cheese centre, Pumpkin tartlets and Bresaola rolls with arugula.
Chapter 19 - Piedmont & Aosta Valley
Including Rustic tartlets, Goat's cheese balls with walnuts, Golden Cheese bread, Pastry crescents with ham and fontina, Baked stuffed onions, Piedmontese cheese fondue and Polenta crostini with mushrooms and cheese. 
Chapter 20 - Trentino Alto Adige
Including Savoury ricotta, onion and speck pie, Onion bread rolls and Fresh mushroom salad.
Chapter 21 - Friuli Venezia Giulia
Including Speck and Asparagus tart, Savoury strudel and Spiced almonds.
Chapter 22 - Le Marche
Including Stuffed and deep fried green olives, Savoury Cake with anchovies and vegetables, Pastry with pecorino and Roasted razor clams.

Who is it for?
If you love Italian food you will really enjoy cooking from this book.  There are plenty of vegetarian recipes although less for the vegan cook.  

Pros
Beautiful photographs of many of the recipes, excellent introductory information about the food from each area, a bit of a travelogue as well as a cook book.
Cons
Some of the recipes use ingredients which can be expensive e.g. artichokes, scallops etc.  There are also a number of recipes which use offal which many people are not keen to cook or eat.

Ease of Use
The book is well laid out and I found the two recipes I made easy to follow. Ingredients are given in metric measures.

I mesi uovi - Hard Boiled Egg Halves
Makes 12

6 eggs
6 anchovy fillets, plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to garnish
black pepper

1. Put eggs in a small pan and cover with cold water. Put on a medium to high heat and bring to the boil.
2. Simmer for 10 minutes and then put the pan under running cold water. 
3. Drain, tap the eggs to crack the shell and leave to cool.
4. Finely chop the anchovies and flat-leaved parsley and then work them to a paste with a pestle and mortar.
5. When the eggs are quite cold, cut in half length ways.  Turn the yolks out and add them, with a good grinding of pepper, to the anchovy and flat-leaf parsley paste, and mix until smooth.
6. Fill and mound up the egg-white cavity with the mixture, top each one with a small leaf of flat leaf parsley or an anchovy roll and arrange on a serving dish.

Pomodorini farciti - Stuffed Tomatoes
Serves 4

16 large cherry tomatoes (I used large tomatoes, halved,  easier to stuff!)
1 large pink of salt
1 small tin best-quality tuna in olive oil
2 small hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped capers, rinsed and dried
2 tbsp finely chopped stoned green olives
1 heaped tsp anchovy paste
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
8 anchovy fillets, halved

1. Slice the tops off all the cherry tomatoes and use a teaspoon to carefully scoop out the seeds.
2. Sprinkle each tomato with a little salt and turn them upside down in a colander or a cooling rack placed over a tray to drain.
3. Chop the tomato tops finely and set aside.
4. Drain the tuna, reserving the oil.  Flake the fish with a fork and mix it with the ggs, tomato tops, capers and olives.  Add a little of the reserved oil to moisten if required.
5. Mix the anchovy paste with the mayonnaise and lemon juice, then mix this in with the tuna mixture.  Fill each tomato to the top with the mixture and place a halved anchovy fillet on the top t serve. 
6. Chill until required, but do not serve ice-cold.


I served the Cicchetti with roasted peppers and spicy marinated pork chops.  The flavour of the eggs and tomatoes felt very authentic and Italian, they would be great for buffets and parties, tasty little bites indeed!

Worth Buying?
This is a well researched and produced book, just as you would expect from such experienced authors.  It's is a book that would be great for people who entertain and are looking for interesting and different appetisers or canapes.  I enjoyed reading and cooking from the book and there are a number of recipes which I have bookmarked to try, in particular the Chickpea Fritters which sound like they may be very like the Chickpea Chips I enjoyed in Cheltenham!


Cicchetti and other small Italian dishes to share
RRP £20
Published by Jacqui Small
August 2013

*Win a copy of CICCHETTI and other small Italian dishes to share by completing the entries on the Rafflecopter Widget*

To order Cicchetti at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p*, telephone 01903 828503 and quote offer code JS227. Or send a cheque made payable to: Littlehampton Book Services Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex BN13 3TG. Please quote the offer code JS227 and include your name and address details. *UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm entering this post for Fab First Fridays  

Monday, 12 August 2013

Coffee, Heston and Escapes - August Kitchen Table Round-Up


I have a few mini-reviews for you today. Some items I have been sent to review and others which I have found and enjoyed and want to share with you.

First up is Beanies Flavoured Instant Coffee. I actually thought it was ground coffee that I was going to be sent when I signed up for this review (should pay more attention!) not that I don't drink instant coffee because I do. Anyway, I chose the Cinnamon and Hazelnut Flavour coffee which I thought would go well with coffee and are flavours that I enjoy.

The favourite flavours are:
Amaretto Flavour
Cinnamon & Hazelnut Flavour
French Vanilla Flavour
Irish Cream Flavour
Rich Hazelnut Flavour
Chocolate Flavour
Creamy Caramel Flavour

I'm not sure whether it is because I drink my coffee without any sugar, but I didn't really enjoy this coffee, it tasted like it should be sweet and yet wasn't which I found a bit odd. On the plus side Beanies Cinnamon and Hazelnut Flavour Instant Coffee doesn't taste artificial and, I think, would be nice if you like hot milk and sugar in your coffee.

I did however try it in some baking. I made this classic Mary Berry Coffee Traybake using 4 heaped tsps of coffee to 3 tbsp boiling water. One tablespoon went into the cake and the other into the buttercream. Very satisfactory I must say, if I'd had hazelnuts I would have used those and if I'd had any Nutella that would have gone well in the icing too. 50g - £2.75 *I was supplied with one jar of Beanies Cinnamon and Hazelnut Flavour Coffee, I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own*

I was really excited to receive an adjustable rolling pin and adustable measruing spoons, Heston Blumenthal Precision items made by Salter. They are both well made and very modern and chic looking.

The rolling pin has three rings of different sizes which you can use to get your pastry to an even depth.

 

You simply unscrew the ends of the rolling pin and remove the two rings you are not using. You can also put the rolling pin in the fridge and it chills down. I tried this and it worked well.

Here is the rolling pin in action, I didn't actually find the rings much good as they restricted the size (width and length) of the pastry, however the pin itself worked very well. I'll certainly try the adjustable element again it may just be a matter of practice and the fact that the pie I was making didn't really require the sort of precision that this pin is designed for! Rolling Pin: £21.99
 
 

The measuring spoons are very nifty, they have a feature which enables you to 'level' off the spoonful so you have a precise amount, it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of altering the size and accurately levelling them but they do work well. They also nest into each other for storage.

I quite liked the fact that the larger of the two measures allows fractions of a tablespoon, not something I've seen before I was rather disappointed that both of these items need to be hand-washed. I prefer to be able to put everything in the dishwasher.
Measuring Spoons: £17.99. *I was supplied with the rolling pin and measuring spoons to review, I was not paid and all opinions are my own*

I found these Warburton's Escapes when I was looking for Tortilla Chips in the crisp aisle of the supermarket. They are little triangles of crispy baked pitta bread and are totally delicious. They are perfect for dipping or simply nibbling with a pre-dinner glass of something. I much prefer them to Tortilla chips and would recommend you try them as an alternative. 150g for £1.79 *I paid for these snacks myself!*

Leave me a comment to tell me which product you have found recently and would recommend.

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