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Sunday, 30 March 2014

March 2014 Slow Cooker Challenge Round Up

Many thanks to all who took part in the March Slow Cooker Challenge bringing us some lovely barbeque flavours created in the slow cooker.

Caroline of Caroline Makes started us off with Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Barbeque Chicken a delightfully straight-forward, throw it all in the pot sort of recipe, just the thing for lazy days when you want a tasty dish with minimum effort.

Jane, at Onions and Paper, gave pulled pork another try with The Epic Pork a recipe from Mudpies and Fries.  Unfortunately, despite liking the idea of pulled pork, Jane found that she didn't enjoy the texture of the dish.  If you like pulled pork in a barbeque sauce, you will probably enjoy this slow cooker version.  Even if you don't enjoy pulled pork you should head over to Jane's blog to see the fabulous onion 'flowers'.

Karen at Lavender and Lovage has taken a different approach to the Barbeque theme, with a potato dish with a smoky BBQ flavour coming from smoked bacon: Irish Slow Cooked Bacon and Potatoes  in Paper it would be delicious with sausages, chops or steaks cooked on your barbeque, or even as a lunch or supper dish with a salad, as Karen has done in the photograph.

Corina at Searching for Spice takes us on a trip to Japan with a Slow Cooked Pork in Tonkatsu Sauce (Japanese Barbeque Sauce) which she served with pancakes for pancake day!  Another fabulous recipe for the Slow Cooker Challenge.

Pork seems to have been a very popular choice for a barbeque based slow cooker dish but each one is different.  Ness at JibberJabber has gone a bit retro with a Slow Cooker Barbequed Pork with Pineapple, the sauce looks lovely and sticky,  just as it should be.

Finally, a recipe from Natalie who I met on Twitter @Starcatch3r however, Natalie doesn't have a blog, so she emailed me her recipe and photograph to share.  The Barbeque Shredded Chicken recipe was adapted from a recipe on Sugarlaws blog.  Natalie served the dish with wedges and corn cobs, added salad for the adults and the children had their chicken on rolls it looks delicious. 

And the winner of Slow Cooking for Two (picked by Random Number Generator) is Corina of Searching for Spice.  Congratulations Corina.

Thanks to PGUK for providing a copy of Slow Cooking for Two by Cynthia Graubart as a prize.

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Annabel Karmel's Pork Stir-fry with Sugar Snap Peas

Annabel Karmel is the UK's No. 1 children's cookery writer.  The author of 37 books and the UK's 4th best-selling cookery author , only just behind Jamie Oliver, Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson.

Now Annabel has turned her attention to the whole family, taking on the challenges of cooking around busy family life.  Annabel's Family Cookbook contains 100 easy to follow recipes ranging from everyday family dinners and weekend get-togethers, light meals, snacks and lunchboxes.

In the introduction, Annabel talks about her love of food and her recipe for successfully feeding the whole family.
In Quick and Easy the dishes which caught my attention were Bow Tie pasta with peas and prosciutto, Tasty 10-minute Prawn Stir fry, Potato and Chicken Rosti, Chicken Schnitzel  and Pork Stir-fry with Sugar Snap Peas (this is the dish I chose to make, scroll down for the recipe).

Everyday Meals includes one of my favourites, Nasi Goreng,  but I was also taken with Chicken Fingers with curry dip which would go down well with the chicken nugget brigade, but so much healthier to make your own. Vegetable Tagliatelli is a feast for the eyes and Honeyed Lamb Cutlets look sticky and delicious. Meatballs, drumsticks and more chicken goujons, this time marinated in buttermilk, Worcester sauce, soy sauce, paprika and garlic before being coated in breadcrumbs, what a treat!  I'll definitely be trying Broccoli with Chilli and Pine Nuts, what a great way to jazz up broccoli.

Moving on to Light meals, snacks and lunchboxes, there are some classics like Welsh Rarebit and Chicken pasta salad, but also some standouts like 'My Favourite chicken and potato salad' which I plan to make at the weekend.  For the more experienced cook, recipes for Club Sandwich and Tuna Melt seem a little superfluous, however I'm sure they would be used by someone new to cooking or simply as inspiration when the question comes..."What's for Lunch?"

Those of you familiar with my style of cooking will know that I am a 'Prepare Ahead' sort of cook and Annabel provides a chapter for this type of cooking too. Beef Bourgignon, Lara's Lasagne, Tarragon Chicken Casserole and Spiced Butternut Squash Soup compete with Mini Fish Pies and Veggie Burgers on my list of what to cook from Annabel's Family Cookbook.

Weekend Get-togethers are a perfect opportunity to extend the dining table, dust down the emergency chairs and invite family and friends over.  I'm sure they would want to return again and again if you served them Squash, Pea and Sage Risotto, Roasted Chicken Breast with Sweet Peppers, Courgette Gratin or Baked Sea Bass with a side of Roasted Vegetables.

Bakes and Sweets are ideal for getting the kids involved in the kitchen, Annabel has some simple treats to share.  Her Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares are full of dried fruit and nuts and perfect for children to make with only a little help.  A slightly more advanced sweet is the Chocolate and Toffee Marble Cheesecake, it's a no bake cheesecake full of delicious ingredients. Being a big fan of apricots, I'll be making the Apricot Cookies just a soon as I have my oven back, they have white chocolate in them too.  The recipes in this chapter range from crumble to fruit ice lollies.  The standout for me was Easy Chocolate Orange Mousse, only a few ingredients, a simple technique and a dinner-party worthy dessert.

Who is it for?
This isn't a book that will push the boundaries of your cooking skill, that's not what it's for.  It's for families who want to eat well but don't always have a lot of time.  It's also a good aide memoire, when you are stuck for inspiration, giving you everyday family dishes you may have made before, perhaps with a different sauce or way of serving. 

Good clear photographs and styling, showing you what you are aiming for.  Simple, well set out recipes using everyday ingredients and usually a fairly short list of ingredients too. The recipe I cooked lived up to its description, was quick and easy to make and tasted delicious.

If you have a lot of 'everyday' cookbooks you will probably have many similar recipes.  There are many more recipes containing meat, fish and chicken than vegetarian alternatives, which given the likelihood that one or other of your family are likely to choose not to eat meat, is rather a shame. The same can be said for gluten free and dairy free, I would have like to see these highlighted as there are some recipes which would be suitable.

The Verdict
These are good, well-written recipes that clearly have been tried and tested with families in mind.  There's plenty of variety (bearing in mind my comments re non-meat eaters and special diets) and, despite my family having grown up and left home, I am likely to be dipping into this book quite often. 

Pork Stir-Fry with Sugar Snap Peas (serves 4)
First I have to say that I used chicken because that's what I had in the freezer and secondly that I halved the ingredients and made this dish for two people.  Although Annabel has not suggested it, I think that Tofu or Quorn would be an ideal substitution for the meat in this dish.

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 12 mins
300g (11oz) pork fillet or chicken breast, sliced into strips
1 tsp honey
3tbsp sunflower oil
6 spring onions, sliced
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and diced
200g (7oz) sugar snap peas
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced (I had a bag of mini peppers and used the equivalent)
250g (9oz) brown mushrooms, halved
salt and black pepper

For the sauce
3tbso soy sauce
3tbsp apple juice
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp cornflour

1. Toss the pork or chicken in the honey and season.  Heat a frying pan until hot.  Add 1 tbsp of the oil and quickly brown the meat.  Set aside.
2. Heat the remaining oil in the pan.  Add teh spring onions and chilli and fry for 1 minutes.  Add the remaining vegetables and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes
3. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
4. Return the meat to the pan with the sauce.  Toss everything together and fry for 2-3 minutes. 

Annabel describes this as "A speedy stir-fry for busy weeknights. This dish can be made with pork or chicken - both will taste delicious".   I must confess, I am usually a bit disappointed with stir fries that I make, but this one was full of flavour, the honey and the sauce really made the vegetables and chicken sing.

Annabel's Family Cookbook
Author: Annabel Karmel
Published by Ebury Press
RRP £20 (Hardback)

You can check out more of Annabel's recipes, including some from this book, on her website and social media:

I have one copy of Annabel's Family Cookbook by Annabel Karmel to giveaway, please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter widget to enter.  This giveaway is only open to UK residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of this book for review, I was not paid and all opinions are my own.  

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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg Giveaway

Do you remember that gorgeous creamy brown chocolate called Caramac?  It was one of my favourites, I've tried it again recently but didn't enjoy it, whether my tastes have changed or the recipe of the bar has changed, I don't know.  What I do know is that I've never found any of  the Hotel Chocolat chocolates disappointing.  Always high quality chocolate and some real fun items.

The Splat Egg - Caramel is 150g of caramel milk chocolate egg with a colourful white chocolate splat.  I have one Hotel Chocolat, The Splat Egg - Caramel worth £12.50 to GIVEAWAY to one lucky reader (UK only).

Just complete the answers on the Rafflecopter Widget below to enter

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Pan Fried Salmon and a Syrian Potato Salad

So, apparently, Spring is here! Here in Scotland it still feels like winter with rain, wind and even some flurries of snow further north. We did have a few days of more spring -like weather and I wanted to make something fresh and light.
The salmon fillets were simply seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper and pan fried skin side down first until the salmon goes opaque about 2/3 of the way up the side of the fish. Then turn over and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side.

Syria is not a country I know much about and I wasn't aware that it also had its own cuisine. The book, Almond Bar, is named for the restaurant in Sydney, started by Sharon Salloum and her sister, Carol, to bring to life their mother's love of food. Sharon feared she might not be able to emulate the passion her mother puts into food but, after much blood, sweat and tears, she likes to believe that she has done her parents and family proud.

Almond Bar starts with a look into The Syrian Pantry, some ingredients are familiar, like chickpeas, Bulgar wheat and Haloumi. Others such as Baladieh, a semi-soft cheese, Freekeh, a green dried wheat grain and grey courgettes. There are also a couple of pages of Middle Eastern Food Suppliers to ensure you can make the recipes in the book.

Spice Blends are crucial to capturing Middle Eastern flavours and there are the instructions for four different blends. We then move on to a chapter of Sauces and Dips, I liked the Smoked Aubergine Dip, Mint and Walnut Sauce, a vibrant Beetroot Dip and the classic Labne, a dried yoghurt dip.

Finger food is a speciality of The Almond Bar and this chapter if full of tempting bites from Za'atar Pizzas to Scallops and Basturma Drizzled with Pomegranate Butter.

Learn how to make Arish Cheese and Shanklish in a step by step guide.

I think the Sharing Platters look amazing and are one of my favourite ways of eating. There were some delicious recipes like Lemony Lentil Soup, Crushed Chickpeas with Yoghurt Almonds and Pine nuts, Za'atar Prawns with Pumpkin Mash and a step by step photo guide to making Falafel.

On to Salads and Sides including one of my favourite salads, Fatoush or Toasted Bread Salad, Tabouli, Haloumi, Lentil and Watercress Salad and Salatet batata- a Syrian Potato Salad which Sharon's mother's recipe, a light fresh, well balanced salad.

Salatet batata (Potato Salad) serves 4
4 main crop or Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5cm cubes
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 brown onion, thinly sliced
Large handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Small handful of mint, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt flakes
1 tsp sweet paprika
60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice

Rinse the potato cubes to remove any excess start, then place in a medium saucepan  and cover with enough cold water to come 2cm (3/4in) above the level of the potato.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 min until tender but not soft enough to fall apart.  Drain and leave to cool to room temperature.
To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix together well.
Combine the potato, tomato, onion, parsley and mint in a bowl, pour over the dressing and gently toss to coat. This salad is best served while the potato is still lukewarm bu it can be made ahead of time, refrigerated and served cold as well. 

We are not finished with Almond Bar by any means, it's time for the 'Mains'.  There are some really luscious dishes such as Middle Eastern Lamb Dumplings, Stuffed Small Aubergines, Minced Lamb, Parsley and Onion Skewers, Chilli Fish, Spaghetti Cooked in Milk and Cannellini Bean, Tomato and Beef Stew to name just a few.

Syrian Desserts bring a delicious Middle Eastern twist to the usual favourites,  I was taken with Rosewater Ice-cream, Fig Sorbet, Sweet Semolina and Coconut Slice, Turkish Delight with Pistachio and a number of recipes using 'Middle Eastern Clotted Cream'.

Who is it for?
This is a book for the adventurous cook, someone who likes big flavours and likes to create food for sharing.

This is a beautiful book, the photographs, the styling and the graphics are stunning. There are over 100 classic and contemporary recipes with many suitable for vegetarians and plenty for meat eaters too. I loved the huge variety of small dishes in the sauces and dips section, finger food, shared plates, salads and sides.  These reflect the Middle Eastern way of eating, the importance of celebrating food and sharing.

Some of the ingredients could be a little difficult to source, most of the suppliers are in London and the South East although there are some online suppliers.

The Verdict
This is an excellent book to add to your collection, even if you already own some books of Middle Eastern cookery.  I will definitely be returning to make more of the recipes.

Book: Almond Bar
Author: Sharon Salloum
ISBN: 978-1-909342-57-6
Published by Jacqui Small Publishing
Cover: Hardback
RRP: £25.99

Many thanks to Jacqui Small Publishing for providing me with a copy of Almond Bar, I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.


I'm entering this meal for three blog challenges:  Family Foodies challenge for March is Fab Fast Food and this was a quick meal to make. Family Foodies is run by Vanesther at Bangers and Mash and Lou at Eat your Veg.  The 'Salatet batata' is ideal for No Croutons Required, the vegetarian soup and salad challenge run by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen and Jac of Tinned Tomatoes.  Lou at Eat Your Veg is also hosting Four Seasons Food for Spring with the theme of 'Something Fishy', Four Seasons Food is alternately hosted by Anneli at Delicieux.

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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Slow Cooker Sausage, Tomato and Rosemary Casserole

Operation Dry Rot is finally progressing with construction rather than destruction now the order of the day.  However, I am still cooking without my stove, so Slow Cooker recipes are featuring heavily.  I like them because you can cook everything in one pot and there is less fussing around with the single electric ring and the microwave.

This is a simple casserole using everyday ingredients which make it tasty, thrifty and convenient.

Sausage, Tomato and Rosemary Slow Cooker Casserole
Serves 3-4
 6 pork sausages
1 seasonal root vegetable pack containing 3 carrots, 1 parsnip, 1 small turnip (swede), 1 onion.
2 large potatoes
1 400g can chopped tinned tomatoes
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 stock cube (I used beef)
1 tbsp vegetable oil 
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Heat the oil in a pan and brown the sausages all over (I have a Sear and Stew Slow Cooker so brown mine in the cooking pot on the hob), slice the onion and add to the pan, turn down the heat and cook slowly for about 10 minutes.

2. While the sausage and onion are sauteing in the pan, peel the other vegetables and chop into small even sized pieces. You can cut the potatoes slightly larger as they will soften more quickly than the carrot and swede.

3.  Put all the other ingredients in the slow cooking pot and mix the stock cube with 200ml of boiling water, add this to the pot.
4. Cook for 6-8 hours on Low until all the vegetables are tender.  You can serve it with a green vegetable, like broccoli, or simply serve it as it is, which is what we did.  It's particularly good with some crusty bread to mop up the juices.  

Tip: If you want to make this stretch to feed more, take the sausages out and cut them into pieces.  There are loads of vegetables so you could probably make this dish feed six.

The theme for Cooking with Herbs this month is 'Rosemary' my favourite herb, which is included in this dish.  Cooking with Herbs is run by Karen at Lavender and Lovage

As this recipe used inexpensive recipes, I will be adding it to Credit Crunch Munch which is run jointly by Camilla at Fab Food 4 All and Helen at Fuss Free Flavours
Bloggers Around the World has landed in GB and this sort of sausages are very much a British tradition, so I'm sharing this recipe at Chris's site Cooking Around the World.

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Sunday, 16 March 2014

On my 'Mother's Day' Kitchen Table

Mother's Day is nearly here, it's later this year on 30th March so you still have  little time to choose and buy your gifts. The gift you choose for your mother will depend on some key factors including price, availability but most importantly the gift should be something that your mother will like.

That got me thinking about different kinds of mothers and what they might like to receive so here is my little guide to gifts for different mothers.

Chocoholic Mum

Image - Last Door Down the Hall

Along with flowers, chocolate is probably one of the most common gifts to buy for Mother's Day and it's an absolute must for the Chocoholic Mother.  This is a time to look for something a little different and special like this Hotel Chocolat Hazelnut Spread

Oh my, this is a delicious spread.  It's richer and more chocolately than similar spreads that are available and, as well as making the perfect 'tartine' for breakfast or tea, it would also be delicous warmed and poured over ice-cream or baked into a muffin, or for the true chocoholic eat it straight from the jar with a spoon!
At £6.50 for 150g, Hotel Chocolat Hazelnut Chocolate Spread is a luxury product at a reasonable price.  Hotel Chocolat have a wide range of different chocolate treats you are bound to find a special chocolate gift.

Eco-Friendly Mum

If your mother likes to buy organic and eco-friendly products she  is going to love receiving a gift subscription to the Flow Box.

The monthly rolling subscription that you can cancel at any time costs £21.95 per month but by using the code GOFLOW13 at the checkout you can get your first box for £16.95.  I tried out a Flowbox and was pleased with the range of products (not all food) and the quality of the contents.  What I really liked about the Flowbox scheme is that there is also an online shop. This means that if you find a product that you really like then you can buy the individual items. 

Bake-Off Mum
Image: Last Door Down the Hall
Everyone seems to have taken up home baking. As well as being fun, it's a real skill to learn how to bake different types of cakes and cookies and there are always plenty of things that you can buy the Bake-Off Mum without breaking the bank.

Dunelm Mill have a great selection of silicone moulds suitable for oven and microwave use, prices in  The Silicone Collection  range from 75p for a silicone heart shaped mould up to £8.99 for a chocolate house mould.  The 6 Flowerpot Silicone Cupcake Cases are £3.99 and the Macaroon Baking Set is £4.99.

Tea-Jenny Mum 

Masterchef Mum 

Image: Millie Motts

As you can imagine, I have no trouble at all thinking of gifts for Masterchef Mum!  One idea that will appeal to the the gadget lovers is this simple but effective whisk.

The Nova Multi-Quirl is simple to use and requires no batteries and no cables, you just push the handle down and it twists and whisks. I found it to be well constructed and particularly liked being able to put it in the dishwasher.  You can see how it works HERE
The Nova Multi-Quirl is available from G3 Direct Ltd for £12.95

Foraging Mum 

Image: The Graphics Fairy
Foraging Mum likes to make the most of the food that can be gathered for free, whether it's blackberries in autumn or wild garlic in the spring.  Rosehips on a Kitchen Table is delightful little book full of hints and tips about foraging and recipes to make the most of your foraged goodies. Now is the time to forage for fresh, young leaves,  and I'm sure Foraging Mum would love to learn to make Wild Garlic Pesto or Nettle Risotto.  Elderberries, Blackberries, Rosehips and Sloes all feature with their own recipes. Tipsy Sloe Fairy Cakes: dainty fairy cakes with a hidden tipsy heart sound so tempting especially when served with clotted cream, as suggested in the book.

In addition to the foraging chapters author, Carolyn Caldicott writes about how to Grow your Own fruit and vegetables and includes information about how to deal with the inevitable gluts!  Some of the recipes that stood out for me were: Broad Beans Baked with Asparagus, Eggs Baked in Passata, Pepper and Chorizo Sauce Parsnip Gnocchi and Rosemary and Honey Roots.

The final chapter is entitled 'What on Earth do I do with This?'  and is a chapter devoted to the more unusual vegetables which might turn up in your veg box.  Celeriac Champ looked good and I can't wait to try Beetroot Leaves with Walnuts, Raisins and Orange.  Convert the most ardent Brussels Sprout hater with Brussels Stir Fry with Ginger Cumin and Chilli.

Rosehips on a Kitchen Table by Carolyn Caldicott
Photographs by Chris Caldicott
Published by Francis Lincoln Limited

To order Rosehips on a Kitchen Table at the discounted price of £7.99 including p&p* (RRP: £9.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG97. 

Alternatively, send a cheque made payable to:
LBS Mail Order Department, Littlehampton Book Services, PO Box 4264, Worthing, West Sussex, BN13 3RB. 

Please quote the offer code APG97 and include your name and address details. 

*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Slow-Cooked Pulled Chipotle Brisket - Irish Beef for St Patricks Day

St Patrick's Day on the 17th March is about celebrating all things Irish.  Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest will be full of images of Leprechauns,  shamrocks and every type of food will be dyed with green food colouring.  Instead of celebrating the colour green for St Patrick's Day, I'm celebrating Irish quality produce and, in particular quality Irish Beef.

In Ireland the beef cattle are typically outside for eight months of the year, only between November and February do they bring them inside and feed them hay and silage (fermented grass), topped up with a ration of barley, beet pulp, maize and molasses.   The health benefits of the cattle of being grass-fed are passed on to us when we eat their meat, which is rich in omega 3, vitamin E antioxidants and the exceptional polyunsaturated marvels that are the omega-6 fats, CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid).  Eating grass also means that the cattle lay down an intramuscular marbling of at which is part of what helps to make the beef taste so good.  (extract from The Irish Beef Book by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness)

Bord Bia, The Irish Food Board are keen to spread word about the quality of Irish Beef and sent me The Irish Beef Book by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness to review,  along with a large joint of Irish Brisket to make one of the recipes.  If you want to find out more about Irish produce or access more recipes then pop over to the Bord Bia website. 

The Irish Beef Book starts with an introduction to Irish Beef: A world class natural product, covering What makes Irish Beef so good, The Whelan Family History , How to choose good quality meat.  A bit about Breeds and the food culture of Ireland and Irish Artisan Food Producers.

There is an excellent explanation of the different cuts of beef and how they are best cooked and also a treatise on 'The Thorny Question of Fat'.

The Recipes in this book are intended for the domestic cook, there are no cheffy tricks and cooks are encouraged to use local ingredients where possible.  Each chapter begins with photographs of the different cuts and cooking tips.

The first chapter is all about Steaks and also includes some 'Good Things to Eat with Steak' including Triple Cooked Chips, Roast Onions in Balsamic Vinegar and a variety of traditional sauces such as Bearnaise and the less traditional like Chimichurri.

Roasts are always popular and this chapter contains everything you need to know to roast beef just the way you like it. No Roast dinner is complete without the Trimmings, so recipes for Individual Yorkshire Puddings, Creamed Horseradish and Beef Dripping Roast Potatoes are all included, as well as alternatives such as Horseradish and Dijon Mustard Yoghurt Creme Fraiche.  Other options for your roast include Roast Fillet with Prosciutto or Brisket and Butternut Squash Pot Roast with a Rosemary Gremolata.

Chapter 3 provides us with 'The Classics' including Steak Tartare, Beef Wellington, Boeuf Bourguignon, Steak Diane, Beef Stroganoff and Beef Goulash.

If you are in a hurry then Chapter 4 provides some Quick Beef recipes including Skirt Steak Fajitas, Steak Sandwich, Beef Teriyaki with Spring Onions, Pomegranate-Marinated Hanger Steak with a Warm Farro Salad, Beef and Green Vegetable Stir Fry with Oyster Sauce.

Regular readers of Farmersgirl Kitchen will know how much I like slow cooked recipes, so Chapter 5: Long and Slow is full of just my kind of recipe some of the recipes which appealed to me particularly were Beef with Anchovies and Olives, Braised Beef with Five Spice, Ginger and Highbank Apple Syrup, Beef Rendang, Braised Short Ribs with Maple Syrup and Star Anise and Moroccan Tagine with Preserved Lemons.

Chapter 6 brings us Burgers, Brisket, Meatballs and Dude Food!  The burger recipe uses Knockmealdown porter a craft beer produced by Eight Degrees in the beautiful Ballyhoura region of County Cork.  As well as the burger recipe there are recipes for 'Good Things to Eat with Burgers' and so to the brisket:   I'm a huge fan of brisket as a cut of beef, for me, it has more flavour than the faster roasts and shrinks less too.  The recipe which ticked all the boxes for me was Slow Cooked Pulled Chipotle Brisket.  (recipe below).

Chapter 7 is a shorter chapter with recipes for Pasta and Pizza including Irish Beef Cheek Lasagne, Bone Marrow Pizza and Oxtail and Truffle Pizza

Pies are always popular and I am tempted by Braised Beef Shin and Eight Degree Ale Pie and Individual Potato-Topped Steak and Chorizo Pies.

Bringing in 'the coo's tail' (cow's tail) is a chapter on 'The Other Bits'.   Liver and Onions with a Mushroom Sauce is a dish Pat cooks for his family as a quick supper.  I'm not sure I could face cooking a beef tongue, although my granny regularly cooked and pressed tongue, maybe that's what put me off! However, a Salad of Tongue and Roast Beetroot with a Balsamic Dressing sounds amazing. I've never tried Bone Marrow, but there are a number of recipes here which tempt me to do so.

The book concludes with two pages of  comprehensive Conversion Charts and an Appendix of Tipperary Food Producers.

The Irish Beef Book by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness
Published by Gill and Macmillan Books

Slow-Cooked Pulled Chipotle Brisket
Serves 6 (however I would say it serves 8-10 depends on your portions!)
2kg piece of brisket, on the bone (as you see mine isn't on the bone!)

For the Marinade:
6 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp chipotle paste
330ml beer
2 tbsp wine vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Highbank apple syrup ( or honey, or maple syrup)
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
small bunch of thyme
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

1. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade.  Slater the marinade all over the meat and place in the fridge, covered with clingfilm, overnight.

2. The next day, place the brisket and marinade in a roasting dish and cover well with tin foil. 
3. Cook at 130C/fan 110C, gas mark 1 for about 5 hours or until the meat is very tender and falling apart.  
4. Cook for a further 30 minutes without the foil, until the meat is nicely browned.
5. When the joint is cool enough to handle, remove any excess fat and shred the meat.  
6. Pour the cooking liquid, along with any interesting caramelised sauce, into a jug and allow the fat to rise to the top.  Skim off the fat, reduce the juices if they are very liquid, and add the pulled meat to the remaining juices.
7. Serve in a bap with red slaw.

As I am currently without an oven, due to building work, I put the brisket and marinade in the slow cooker and cooked on low for 10 hours until the meat was very tender.  I sliced it and served with mashed potato and carrots.  The cooking liquid made a superbly piquant sauce.

 Leftover Chipotle Brisket Curry
I sliced and froze some of the beef for another day, however there was still lots left over so I made it  into a lovely curry. I sauteed a small sliced onion, added a tablespoon of curry paste, two chopped tomatoes, a couple of slices of brisket chopped up into bite-sized pieces and add the brisket sauce, bring to a simmer and add a handful of frozen peas.  Cook for 5-10 minutes and serve with rice.

St Patrick's Day Curry with GREEN peas!

Okay, so I couldn't resist a wee bit of St Patrick's fun, courtesy of Kate Hadfield's 'Luck of the Irish' digital Scrapbook Kit. 

I'm entering the curry for the No Waste Food Challenge,  run by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary and hosted this month by Chris at Cooking Around the World.

I was provided with The Irish Beef Book and a joint of beef by Bord Bia, The Irish Food Board.  I was not paid and all opinions are my own. 

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Monday, 3 March 2014

BBQ Pork Tenderloin and the March Slow Cooker Challenge

Thanks to everyone who took part in the February Slow Cooker Challenge.  The theme was open so we had a real variety of dishes, see them all in the Feburary Slow Cooker Challenge Round Up.

This month we do have a theme and it is: BARBEQUE you don't have to get the barbie out to have BBQ flavours, you can make them in your slow cooker.  I also have another GIVEAWAY for entrants to the March Slow Cooker Challenge, a copy of  
Slow Cooking for Two by Cynthia Graubart

Photographs by Christopher Hornaday
Published by Gibbs Smith
Distributed in the UK by PGUK 
RRP  £12.07

This is the book for those who cook for two and prefer not to eat leftovers for days, however the recipes can be doubled up if you are feeding a family.

About the Author:  Cynthia Stevens Graubart is an author and former television producer who began her culinary television production career with New Southern Cooking with Nathalie Dupree in 1985. She is the author of The One-Armed Cook, called the culinary version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Cynthia and her husband, Cliff, live in Atlanta, Georgia.

Here is my review of Slow Cooking for Two:
The Introduction covers the basics such as selecting a slow cooker, there is also a really useful section on all the additional equipment, mostly dishes and baking tins, that you can use inside your slow cooker eg mini loaf pan, ramekins etc.
I liked the little table of Conventional to Slow cooker timings which allow you to convert your own favourite recipes either from oven method to slow cooker or vice versa, and the requently asked questions section was full of useful answers. There is also a section with pantry ingredient suggestions.

Moving on to the recipes there is a selection of Soups from classic leek and potato to Kale and Kielbasa Soup.

In the Poultry chapter,  I was particularly taken with Lemon Chicken, Cacciatore - Style Chicken Thighs, Honey Ginger Chicken Thighs and Turkey Meatloaf with Basil and Mozzarella.

There are eight Beef and Lamb dishes including Braised Short Ribs, Stuffed Peppers with Mozzarella and Rosemary Lamb with Tomatoes.

Now we come to the chapter of genius: Double Dinners!  Cynthia uses Slow Cooker liners for this technique,  you can get them online, but I had some roasting bags and decided to see if they would work and they did.

The principle is to create two different meals using the same main ingredient and cook them in the bags side by side in the slow cooker.  One to eat straight away, the other decanted into a dish and chilled or frozen for later consumption.

Recipes Double Dinners include: Beef Bottom Round, this cut of meat we would call silverside, but Peppery Silverside really isn't as much fun as #1 Peppery Bottom Round #2 Fall flavoured Bottom Round;  Pot Roast, #1 Lime Pot Roast with Tomato Sauce #2 Vinegar Braised Pot Roast and the recipe I made:  Pork Tenderloin #1 Parmesan Crusted Pork Tenderloin #2 BBQ Pork Tenderloin

The chapter on Seafood has a limited number of recipes but includes a clever foil pouch Lemon Dill Salmon which takes just two hours on low in the Slow Cooker and a Shrimp in Herb Butter Sauce dish.

There are over 20 recipes for Side Dishes, who knew you could bake potatoes in your slow cooker? You probably did,  but I had no idea. Even mash can be made in the slow cooker, glazed carrots, roasted root vegetables, Polenta and Mushroom Risotto.  This is a really useful chapter with a lot of side dishesI wouldn't have thought of making in the slow cooker.

And so to Desserts, I have still to try making dessert in my slow cooker, it is always occupied with cooking my main meal!  However I am itching to have a go at Lemon Cake, Lemon Curd, Apple Crisp and Poached Pears.

For those who like to entertain there are some Dips and Appetisers that look simple to make and packed with flavour, including  Hot Cheese Dip, Kale and Artichoke Dip, Spicy Mixed Nuts and White Bean Spread.

The final chapter is all about The Basics and includes recipes for stocks, roasted garlic heads, Marinara Sauce and Cinnamon-Ginger Apple Sauce.

Pros: A good variety of innovative recipes which are clearly laid out and easy to follow.  Clever techniques like the double dinners make this a stand out recipe book. Most recipes have short ingredient lists and there's an excellent index and a metric conversion chart.  A few Notes pages are also included so you can write up your own recipes and variations.

Cons: no picture for every recipe, high predominance of meat based main dishes, not much for the vegetarian or vegan.

Pork Tenderloin (Double Dinners)

Liner #1 
Parmesan-Crusted Pork Tenderloin (serves 2)

1/2 of a 1 pound (450g) pork tenderloin or fillet
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dried basil or chives (I used a couple of finely chopped spring onions)
1 clove garlic minced, or 1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Place pork tenderloin in the bottom of a slow cooker liner bag (or roasting bag)
2. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper
3. Stir together the honey, soy sauce basil, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Pour over the pork, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and set aside.

Liner #2
BBQ Pork Tenderloin (serves 2)

1/2 of a 1 pound (450g) pork tenderloin (fillet)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
2 tbsp light or dark brown sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 clove garlic minced or 1/2 tsp bottled minced garlic
1/2 tsp onion powder (I didn't have any of this and left it out)

1. Place pork tenderloin in bottom of slow cooker liner or roasting bag.
2. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
3. Stir together the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, chilli powder, garlic and onion powder in a small bowl/  Pour over tenderloin.  Set aside.

To complete the recipe
1. Place both liner bags, side by side, into the slow cooker.  Drape each liner (closed) away from the other extending over the sides of the slow cooker.  I sealed the roasting bags with their closures and placed side by side in the slow cooker. 
2. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
3. Move two large, shallow serving dishes or bowls next to the slow cooker.  Remove cover and using pot holders or oven mitts, carefully remove each liner and its contents to its own serving bowl  Let the liner rest open and allow contents to cool slightly.  Remove the tenderloin from the liner using tongs and transfer to the serving bowl  Then grasp the bag, holding the top and cut a corner off the bottom of the bag, large enough to allow the remaining contents of the bag to be released over the pork and into the bowl.  Discard the liner.  Repeat with the other dinner.
4. Allow the dinner, not being served, to cool, and package in a resealable plastic freezer bag or container (remember to label it).
5. Before serving, taste and season again if required.

We ate the BBQ Pork Tenderloin, the meat was very tender and the sauce was delicious, feedback from himself was very positive.   I have put the Parmesan Crusted Pork Tenderloin away for another meal.  

If you would like to join the Slow Cooker Challenge and win a copy of Slow Cooking for Two by Cynthia Graubart then simply cook a BBQ style meal in your slow cooker, then please follow the challenge rules below and link up to the linky.

  • Make your recipe in your Slow Cooker and post a photograph and the recipe, or a link to a recipe, on your blog
  • Link to Farmersgirl Kitchen
  • Use the Slow Cooker Challenge logo in your post
  • If you use twitter, tweet your post with @FarmersgirlCook and #SlowCookerChallenge and I will re-tweet it to my followers AND post your post your pictures on a decicated Pinterest board.
  • Please do not publish recipes from cookbooks on your blog without permission, they are copyright.
  • If you are using recipes from another website, please link to the recipe on the website rather than publishing the recipe.
  • One entry per blog.
  • Recipes must be added to the linky by the 28th of each month.
The winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator

 Natalie @StarCatch3r doesn't have a blog but wanted to join in The Slow Cooker Challenge with this delicious BBQ Shredded Chicken inspired by a recipe at Sugarlaws

And the winner is...No.4 Corina - Searching for Spice with Slow Cooked Pork in Tonkatsu

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