Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Your favourites and mine 2013


Last year I did a round up of blog posts for the year, choosing the recipe with the most page views for each month your favourite, and the one that I like best, my favourite.  I enjoyed writing the post and you, dear readers, seemed to enjoy it too.  I've excluded those posts which had major giveaways as those do rather skew the page views!  Many thanks to all who viewed and/or commented  and to the hosts of all the challenges that I have entered.

January 

A soup of bacon and celeriac from The Kitchen Diaries II

Your favourite post in January 2013 was the launch of Dish of the Month, a blog challenge to cook the recipes of Nigel Slater.

My favourite was the Croque Monsieur Whoopie Pies from Let's Make Whoopies by Sophie Gray all part of Breakfast Club and Shake up your Wake Up Farmhouse Breakfast week.

February


Your favourite was this Rye and Spelt Bread and my review of Paul Hollywood's book 'Bread' 

My favourite was Mon Cherry Amour Cupcakes from Le Cookie by Michael Benichou.

March


Your favourite was The Marmalade Awards where I met up with Sue, from A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate and Vivien Lloyd - The Jam Mistress!


My favourite was the birthday cake I made for my Mum's 80th, decorated with crystallised edible flowers.

April

Your favourite was my Random Recipe for April - Treacle Bites

My favourite was this Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart, a recipe I got from Dom at Belleau Kitchen.

May

You favourite was my Rhubarb, Mango and White Chocolate Almond Cake which was an entry for We Should Cocoa.

My favourite in May was the Kugelhopf which I made for Alphabakes.  I have to say this is probably my overall favourite of the whole year, it was quite a labour of love and tasted so good.

June
Your favourite was this White and Green Cabbage with Coconut Chillies and Ginger from the Farm Shop Cookbook.

My favourite is the Vanilla and Coconut Cake I made from the Clandestine Cake Book for Tea Time Treats.

July

Your favourite was Cherry Frangipane Ramekins based on a Nigel Slater recipe for Dish of the Month.

My favourite was the Chocolate Lime Ice Cream I made using Mackays Lime Curd.You can see that my OXO Good Grips Ice Cream Scoop is well used!

August
Your favourite in August was the Cicchetti I made from Valentina Harris and Lindy Wildsmith.

My favourite was the Beef, Red Pepper and Lime Burgers from Miranda Ballard's Burgers and Sliders. I'm not much of a burger person but these were so good.


September




Your favourite in September was Dish of the Month, Lamb Pot Roast and Peach, Bramble and Almond Crumble

 
My choice is an old favourite with a twist, my Summer Falls into Autumn Pudding.

October
Your favourite in October was the Chelsea Buns I made from The World's Best Cakes book.

I've chosen Braised Scotch Lamb Shanks in Red Wine as my favourite, I cannot begin to tell you how good they were!

November

Sloe Cordial was a popular post in November and I can now report that it went down very well with the recipients!

I loved these Hot n Smoky Cheese and Tomato Wraps, quick and easy to make and very tasty.

December


My Virtual Christmas Party was a favourite post in December, I even won a prize from Pidy for these canapes!

It may not be the most photogenic of dishes, and I didn't think you could really improve on baked red cabbage,  but  Spiced Ginger Red Cabbage made with Mackays Spiced Ginger Preserve was even better than I expected.

Thank you so much for visiting Farmersgirl  Kitchen in 2013, I  hope you will return to see what I am cooking and baking in 2014.  I'll be back to wish you a Happy New Year and tell you about my future plans tomorrow.

Monday, 30 December 2013

On My Kitchen Table - New Year 2014



Well Christmas is past and the New Year is almost upon us.  Just before the start of the festive season the PRs seem to go into overdrive and offers of review samples tumbled into my inbox like  Christmas cards  popping through my letterbox.  I don't accept all the offers that are made, but try to choose products which are good quality and that I would be happy to share with my family and friends at my table as well as with you, dear readers, on Farmersgirl Kitchen Table.




We've been enjoying Whole Earth Crunchy Peanut Butter for many years, Mr Farmer is particularly fond of peanutty things.  The difference between the Whole Earth Peanut butter and the emulsified, trans-fat versions is marked and once you have tried it you won't go back.

There's a new nut butter from Whole Earth, it's 3 Nut and contains Cashews, Hazelnuts and Peanuts. It's got no added sugar and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.   This  3 Nut Butter makes a really nice change and is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner!






As Whole Earth Foods also sent me some of their Peanut Butter too, I thought I'd use some in a recipe.  This isn't the most attractive of dishes, but it tasted pretty good, and was even better the next day.  I found this recipe for African Beef and Peanut Stew at The Kitchn.


Whole Earth 3 Nut Butter is available from most major supermarkets





The Qbag is perfect for this time of year when time is short and there is a lot of roasting going on!  Qbags are designed to be used on the barbeque to contain foods that might otherwise fall apart, they also have the huge advantage of keeping the food really moist and juicy as well as not making a mess of your grill or oven.

I don't own a barbeque and we don't have the weather for outside cooking just now anyhow.  So I cooked some minute steak with onions and stock inside one of the bags.

Minute steak can be quite tough to eat, it's cut thin and doesn't have a lot of fat, so only needs a short time in the frying pan.  However you can also braise it and it will be very tender.  I simply browned the minute steaks in a little oil, then added the sliced onions and browned them too.  I added a beef stock cube to about 100ml of boiling water until dissolved, then added to the steak and onions in the bag.  Then you simply scrunch up the foil part of the bag and place on a tray in the oven.   I cooked this for about 30 minutes checking through the handy clear window to see how it was doing.  You can even peel back the window to add ingredients or give your food a bit of a mix up if needed.

We really enjoyed the steak cooked in this way and it certainly saved on the washing up!

Qbags were available from the online shop, but this closed on 20th November.  Going forward, Qbag are partnering with trusted brands to get our products into your local shops. Look out for BacoFoil EasyCook Foil Bags in ASDA and Sainsbury's and buy 5 bags for £2.99.



More lovely comfort food. These Heck Sausages 
are very good indeed.  There is a whole range of different flavours, but so far I've only tried the 97% pork sausages.  What I can say is that they really taste of meat and are well seasoned with no artificial taste at all, they are also gluten free.  I'm looking forward to trying the Pork and Apple and Chorizo Style sausages and will report back to you when I do.

Heck Food is a small family run business, farming and making sausages from pork shoulder.  The quality shines through.  Well worth trying.  Heck sausages are available at many supermarkets for around £2.98 for 400g.





Cheese is perfect for snacking, quick lunches and suppers or as part of a cheeseboard after a celebratory meal.
 

This year, why not bring some originality and flair to the table and wow your guests with an innovative cheeseboard.  Instead of the usual cheese pairings of quince jelly, pineapple, a salty cracker and the odd decorative grape, Castello has created more inspiring combinations based on molecular science.





Molecular pairing is the idea that foods which share the same prominent flavour compounds are likely to taste and smell balanced when eaten together. With this in mind, Castello, a range of specialty cheeses, have actually had the molecular basis of four of their cheeses analysed, resulting in new and unexpected flavour concepts. 


Suggested Molecular Matches
Castello Creamy White with white grapefruit slices with pistachio and fennel sprinkle

Castello Creamy Blue with smoked mackerel with creamed coconut shavings

Tickler Cheddar with papaya and passionfruit coulis dip with cashew dusting

Castello Pineapple Halo with cinnamon & clove spiced ice tea

Castello cheeses are available from major supermarkets.

It's always tricky finding really good non-alcoholic drinks to offer your designated drivers or others who prefer not to drink alcohol.  
 
Cawston Press have been making quality pressed apple juice  since 1986 and the range now includes eight award-winning, beautifully-balanced blends.

The sparkling juices are gloriously fruity and not too sweet, they would be great to include in a mocktail. 

 

 The Apple and Rhubarb blend was a real revelation, I don't think I've ever bought a drink with rhubarb in it before and I loved that sharp/sweet combination of apple and rhubarb.  I can really recommend this juice.


Three of the Cawston Press sparkling drinks have been awarded prestigious Great Taste gold medals.
It’s no mean feat – Great Taste is the world’s largest and most rigorous food awards scheme, involving over 400 judges and thousands of hours of blind tasting.
Here’s some of the judges’ comments about the gold medal winners. The word ‘lovely’ keeps cropping up!
“Quaffable drink; lingers comfortably; lovely apple on the nose; lovely natural appearance; very clean, zesty and refreshing; would make a delightful alternative to an alcoholic drink; the carbonation added a lovely sparkle”
The range of sparkling drinks are available from selected Tesco, Waitrose stores and online via Ocado.


End a dinner party in style this festive season and earn yourself a reputation for creating a truly memorable cheeseboard with the help of Port Salut and cheese expert Juliet Harbutt. Here’s her top ten tips for pulling together a show-stopping centre piece.

• A slate or marble cheeseboard, decorated with a few autumnal leaves and berries is great for making a lasting impression

• Ideally a cheeseboard should include five to ten cheese from the seven different types, but don’t over cater – allow approximately 75-100g per person

• Offer a range of shapes – logs, wedges, cylinders, squares – and cut blocks of cheese into different shapes for an attractive finish

• Try to provide a separate knife for each type of cheese so that more guests can help themselves at once and there is less cross contamination of flavours

• Ideally buy cheeses you have tasted and had cut at the deli from the original cheese, or buy pre-pack cheeses as near to their best before date as possible for the best taste

• Before serving ensure all the cheeses have come to room temperature – a slither will take 5 minutes and whole Brie will take at least an hour so best to serve similar sized portions

• If you are lucky enough to have a whole or half Stilton don’t pour Port into it; rather than adding to the taste of either, it is an old tradition used for style not taste

• Ideal accompaniments to the cheeseboard include: oat cakes, rustic breads, pickled walnuts, savoury, mildly spiced chutneys, mixed nuts, dried fruit or fresh apples or pears

• As well as wine, beer & cider also go very well with most types of cheese so encourage guests to have fun experimenting with their pairings

• Impress your friends and family with your newly acquired expertise with these quick facts:
• 95% of cheeses are suitable for vegetarians

• Stilton is just one of 90 British blue cheeses on the market Box-out: Visit the Port Salut website at www.portsalut.co.uk for Juliet’s downloadable cheese guide, listing all her cheese recommendations for the perfect dinner party cheese board.


And finally, it's time to sit back and relax with the lovely Feel Good Food magazine from Woman and Home.  I'm a bit of a magazine addict and love these themed food magazines from Woman and Home.  The award winning Lir cupcake chocolates were perfect to savour while reading about food!







I was not paid to review any of these products, but was supplied with samples for review.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Dish of the Month Round up - a year of Nigel Slater Recipes

Last Christmas I recevied a copy of Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries II, my friend Sue, of A Little Heaven on a Plate fame, is also a fan of this book and we resolved to cook from the book every month and to make sure we actually did it, we created a blogger challenge, and so Dish of the Month was born! As everyone may not own Kitchen Diaries II we opened up the challenge to any recipe by Nigel Slater, and there are many freely available online.


We never intended that it should run for more than a year so this is the end of the line for Dish of the Month. First I am going to share the round up of the December entries:

London Busy Body has gone all festive and offers us A Partridge in a Pear Tree as a Dish of the Month. It looks amazing and comes highly recommended.

Sue made this gloriously thick and creamy Sweet Potato Soup for her final Dish of the Month.

I made Mincemeat Hotcakes which were easy to make and surprisingly tasty especially with some butter slathered on them hot and straight from the pan.

I've loved co-hosting this challenge with Sue, but all good things must come to an end. I hope you will all keep cooking the recipes of Nigel Slater. I got a copy of Eat this Christmas and, no doubt I will be sharing some of the recipes with you, just not as Dish of the Month.

As a final hoorah, I thought I'd choose my favourite Dish of the Month from each month of the year.

January Dish of the Month - Slow Cooked Shetland Lamb from Elizabeth's Kitchen


February Dish of the Month - Carrot and Coriander Fritters from Marmaduke Scarlet


March Dish of the Month - Coffee Cake from Belleau Kitchen


April Dish of the Month - Parfait of Lemon and Orange from A little bit of Heaven on a Plate


May Dish of the Month - Lamb Flatbreads from The New Mrs P


June Dish of the Month - Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Dip/Spread from Lavender and Lovage


July Dish of the Month - Mixed Tomato Chutney from Fab Food for All


August Dish of the Month - Smoked Haddock Chowder with Leeks and Sweetcorn from Foodie Quine

 
 
 
October Dish of the Month - Spelt and Cider Loaf from Food Jam
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Many thanks to everyone who has taken part, it's been such a pleasure to see what you made each month. Remember you can see all the dishes cooked for Dish of the Month all year on our Pinterest Board.

 

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