This Page

has moved to a new address:

Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
----------------------------------------------------- Blogger Template Style Name: Snapshot: Madder Designer: Dave Shea URL: / Date: 27 Feb 2004 ------------------------------------------------------ */ /* -- basic html elements -- */ body {padding: 0; margin: 0; font: 75% Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; color: #474B4E; background: #fff; text-align: center;} a {color: #DD6599; font-weight: bold; text-decoration: none;} a:visited {color: #D6A0B6;} a:hover {text-decoration: underline; color: #FD0570;} h1 {margin: 0; color: #7B8186; font-size: 1.5em; text-transform: lowercase;} h1 a {color: #7B8186;} h2, #comments h4 {font-size: 1em; margin: 2em 0 0 0; color: #7B8186; background: transparent url( bottom right no-repeat; padding-bottom: 2px;} @media all { h3 { font-size: 1em; margin: 2em 0 0 0; background: transparent url( bottom right no-repeat; padding-bottom: 2px; } } @media handheld { h3 { background:none; } } h4, h5 {font-size: 0.9em; text-transform: lowercase; letter-spacing: 2px;} h5 {color: #7B8186;} h6 {font-size: 0.8em; text-transform: uppercase; letter-spacing: 2px;} p {margin: 0 0 1em 0;} img, form {border: 0; margin: 0;} /* -- layout -- */ @media all { #content { width: 700px; margin: 0 auto; text-align: left; background: #fff url( 0 0 repeat-y;} } #header { background: #D8DADC url( 0 0 repeat-y; } #header div { background: transparent url( bottom left no-repeat; } #main { line-height: 1.4; float: left; padding: 10px 12px; border-top: solid 1px #fff; width: 428px; /* Tantek hack - */ voice-family: "\"}\""; voice-family: inherit; width: 404px; } } @media handheld { #content { width: 90%; } #header { background: #D8DADC; } #header div { background: none; } #main { float: none; width: 100%; } } /* IE5 hack */ #main {} @media all { #sidebar { margin-left: 428px; border-top: solid 1px #fff; padding: 4px 0 0 7px; background: #fff url( 1px 0 no-repeat; } #footer { clear: both; background: #E9EAEB url( bottom left no-repeat; border-top: solid 1px #fff; } } @media handheld { #sidebar { margin: 0 0 0 0; background: #fff; } #footer { background: #E9EAEB; } } /* -- header style -- */ #header h1 {padding: 12px 0 92px 4px; width: 557px; line-height: 1;} /* -- content area style -- */ #main {line-height: 1.4;} {font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 0;} a {color: #C4663B;} .post {clear: both; margin-bottom: 4em;} .post-footer em {color: #B4BABE; font-style: normal; float: left;} .post-footer .comment-link {float: right;} #main img {border: solid 1px #E3E4E4; padding: 2px; background: #fff;} .deleted-comment {font-style:italic;color:gray;} /* -- sidebar style -- */ @media all { #sidebar #description { border: solid 1px #F3B89D; padding: 10px 17px; color: #C4663B; background: #FFD1BC url(; font-size: 1.2em; font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.9; margin: 0 0 0 -6px; } } @media handheld { #sidebar #description { background: #FFD1BC; } } #sidebar h2 {font-size: 1.3em; margin: 1.3em 0 0.5em 0;} #sidebar dl {margin: 0 0 10px 0;} #sidebar ul {list-style: none; margin: 0; padding: 0;} #sidebar li {padding-bottom: 5px; line-height: 0.9;} #profile-container {color: #7B8186;} #profile-container img {border: solid 1px #7C78B5; padding: 4px 4px 8px 4px; margin: 0 10px 1em 0; float: left;} .archive-list {margin-bottom: 2em;} #powered-by {margin: 10px auto 20px auto;} /* -- sidebar style -- */ #footer p {margin: 0; padding: 12px 8px; font-size: 0.9em;} #footer hr {display: none;} /* Feeds ----------------------------------------------- */ #blogfeeds { } #postfeeds { }

Friday, 30 May 2014

Simple cleaning solutions with Bizzy Bee

I know you are probably all fed up hearing about my dry rot trauma and the ensuing renovation of half of my house, however it's relevant here as it is what made me jump at the chance to review some cleaning products from bizzybee.  I'm generally not very NEVER enthused by cleaning, it's a necessary chore, but it has become even more necessary with the sheer volume of dirt and dust that a renovation project creates.

What really good about bizzybee’s high-performance products, is that they allow you to spend less time on chores and more time on the things that really matter. And because we all clean differently, bizzybee has gloves and cloths for every pair of hardworking hands, even those with sensitive skin. There is a range of eight rubber gloves, six cloths and one (very pretty) scourer.

I think my favourite product is the bizzybee scouring gloves One glove comes with a non-scratch scouring palm while the other is left plain for easy handling.Which means your fingers can now clean all those hard to reach places, plus each pair has a cotton flock lining for comfort.  What a cool idea!  I've never seen anything like that before.

Bizzybee also provided me with some eco-friendly cleaning products, a white vinegar spray and a box of bicarbonate of soda, the vinegar spray is particularly good on glass and even my ceramic hob!

BizzyBee is a Corporate Fellow of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT).  The BBCT is a registered charity that made headlines in 2010 as the winner of the National Lottery Award for Best Environment Project. With over 7,000 members, including internationally renowned scientists, the BBCT works closely with politicians and statutory agencies to champion the cause of bumblebees and promote sustainable agricultural policies.

bizzybee’s donations help support the BBCT’s conservation initiatives, including the world’s first bumblebee sanctuary in Scotland. This 20-acre meadow was created in partnership with the RSPB.

There are loads of cleaning tips for all round the house on the bizzybee website where you can buy the products direct from Eric the bizzybee.  There are also competitions to win bizzybee goodies on Facebook  and Twitter @bizzybeeuk.

Thanks to bizzybee for supplying me with a pack of their products, I was not paid to write this review and all opinions are my own. 

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Kitchen Garden Experts - Lamb with Savoury Potatoes - a review

I should be presenting you with Charcoal-Cooked Lamb Rack with Savoury Potatoes, however what you are actually getting is Slow Roasted Lamb Leg with Herby Potatoes.  This dish sums up my difficulty in reviewing Kitchen Garden Experts, let me tell you more...

Kitchen Garden Experts features the chefs and gardeners at twenty of the UK's most exciting restaurants, hotels, pubs and cafes, focusing on how they produce the best fruit and vegetables to appear on their menus.

The TWenty Chefs include:
Raymond Blanc and Anne-Marie Owens at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Gill Meller at River Cottage, Sir Terence Conran at Barton Court, Simon Rogan at L'Enclume, Tom Lewis at Monachyle Mhor, Jack Stein at Padstow Kitchen Garden, Skye Gyngell at Heckfield Place,  Carina Continti at The Scottish Kitchen Garden and Ruthie Rogers at River Cafe.

The Author is Cinead McTernan, a horticulturally trained writer and gardening editor of The Simple Things magazine.  She was previously editors of The Edible Garden magazine and worked on  The English Garden and BBC Gardeners' World magazines.

Award-winning photographer Jason Ingram has worked on numerous garden and food magazines.  His published books include the Ethicurean Cookbook.

The Kitchen Garden Expert is a really good read, with lots of great gardening tips and a fascinating insight into the interaction between gardeners and chefs.  However,  I found it incredibly difficult to find many of the recipes that I either had access to ingredients for, or  for which I was prepared to do all the cheffy preparation.  If you have a fabulous kitchen garden full of unusual vegetables and herbs, or you live close to a superb market or greengrocer,  and you have a penchant to cook like a top class chef,  then I think you would really enjoy  cooking from The Kitchen Garden Expert.

Here are a few of the recipe titles:  'Paris Market' and 'Sugarsnax' Carrots with Ham Fat Cream and Nasturtium; Sorrel Frittatta, Whitby Lobster with Quail Eggs and Garden Beans; Winteringham Wood Pigeon with Home-Grown Cabbage and Spring Onion, Plum and Almond Tart.  

If like me you are more of a home cook on the run from work to table then you can still enjoy reading the book and maybe make adaptations to the recipes to suit your ingredients and cooking style, just as I have done, so here is the original recipe for Charcoal-Cooked Lamb Rack with Savoury Potatoes and my adaptation.

Charcoal-Cooked Lamb Rack with Savoury Potatoes
Justin Hammett (Jekka McVicar and the Company of Cooks)
Serves 4

2 racks of lamb (6 bones in each)
salt and pepper
4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Edible flowers to garnish (optional)

Red Wine Jus
750ml chicken stock
375ml red wine
Sprig of mint
small sprig of rosemary

Savoury Potatoes
120ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for coating ovenproof dish
1.2kg potatoes, Desiree or King Edward, peeled and thinly sliced
250g onions, thinly sliced
4 sprigs of winter savoury
Salt and pepper
500g cherry tomatoes

Roasted Vine Tomatoes
6-7 cherry tomatoes, on the vine
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sprig of winter savoury

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.  Heat 3 pieces of wood charcoal, each 4cm long, over a gas flame until they glow red.  Create a cup shape from a square of tinfoil and leave on one side.  Season the lamb racks with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a sturdy, cast-iron casserole and seal the lamb, fat-side down.  Drain off any excess oil.  Put the tinfoil cup into the casserole alongside the racks, and using tongs, carefully place the glowing charcoal pieces in it.  Put the lid on the casserole and place in the oven for 20 minutes.  The juices of the lamb should run pink when pierced with a skewer.  Leave to rest for about 20 minutes before carving into cutlets.  Discard the charcoal and skim any fat from the surface of any juices left in the pan.
2. For the Red Wine Jus, simmer the stock with the red wine and herbs until syrupy and thickened.  Add any charcoal infused juices from the lamb to the jus. Strain and discard the herbs.
3. For the Savoury Potatoes, preheat the oven to 180C. Brush the bottom and sides of a shallow ovenproof glass dish or small toasting tin with olive oil.  Arrange some potatoes in a singe overlapping layer in a concentric circle over the base of the dish or tin. Scatter with one third of the onions and a sprinkling of winter savoury leaves, season with salt and pepper, add one-third of the cherry tomatoes and generously drizzle with 40ml of olive oil  Repeat this process three times, finishing with the onions savoury and tomatoes on top. Season and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the tomato skins have darkened and the potatoes are tender.  Remove from the oven; leave to cool for a few minutes.
4. For the roasted vine tomatoes, turn the oven up to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Put eh tomato vine in a small roasting tin drizzle with oil and sprinkle with winter savoury leaves.  Roast for about 10 minutes, until the skins have blistered and the tomatoes softened.
5. To serve, place the roasted vine tomatoes over the savoury potatoes before serving with the lamb and red wine jus. Garnish with edible flowers.

Farmersgirl Kitchen Version
Lamb: Cook your leg of lamb as you prefer.  I seasoned the lamb and cooked  in a roasting tin, covered with tin foil  with rosemary and 1/2 pint of water at 160C for 3 1/2 hours until meltingly tender.
Red Wine Jus: I made the wine jus as per the recipe.
For the Savoury Potatoes: I used small new potatoes and left their skins on, substituted chives for the onions and mint for the winter savoury,  the tomatoes I used were not cherry tomatoes so I sliced them, otherwise as per the recipe.  I added chive flowers sprinkled over the bake before serving.
I didn't add the roasted vine tomatoes.

The lamb was delicious and I would certainly make the red wine jus again, it was a nice change from gravy.  The potato bake brings a summer flavour to a traditional roast meat dish and would be good to serve at a barbeque.  I would probably use less olive oil and add some stock, so that the potatoes soak up flavour rather than oil.

Kitchen Garden Experts
by Cinead McTernan
Photography by Jason Ingram
Foreward by Raymond Blanc
Hardback RRP £20
Published by Frances Lincoln

If you would like to win a copy of Kitchen Garden Experts complete the questions on the Rafflecopter Widget, there are only two, nothing too difficult.  The competition is only open to residents of the UK.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
To order Kitchen Garden Experts at the discounted price of £16.00 including p&p* (RRP: £20.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG130. 

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

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Butter Crisp Ice Cream Sandwich with Roasted Rhubarb

Generally, I don't eat dessert during the week, however at the weekend I like to have something sweet to finish my meal.  I don't always have a lot of time to prepare and am often looking for a quick fix.  That's exactly how I came to make this Butter Crisp Ice Cream Sandwich with Roasted Rhubarb. 

The Rhubarb is slowly roasted in it's own juices with sugar in a low oven until it just starts to collapse, then left to cool.  The ice cream sandwich is simply two  Jules Destrooper Butter Crisps with  a Stem Ginger Ice cream  filling, served with the rhubarb compote.

In 1886, Belgian spice trader Jules Destrooper established the bakery which still bears his name.

In developing his first sweet biscuit, the Almond Thin, Destrooper insisted on the very best raw materials including summer butter, soft sun-ripened almonds and a spice blend still kept secret today.

Today, Jules' great-grandson Peter Destrooper runs the business, still making this Rolls Royce of biscuits in the tiny town of Lo in West Flanders. Biscuiterie Jules Destrooper bakes over 2,500,000 biscuits a day for delivery worldwide but Jules would recognise his original recipe, still in use today.

Generations of Belgians have enjoyed the crunchy bite, caramel sweetness, buttery warmth and mild toasted nuttiness of Jules Destrooper Almond Thins. Now discerning Brits can do the same.

I was sent a selection of Jules Destrooper biscuits/cookies to review, they make a range of delicious biscuits including Almond Crisp, Chocolate Thins,  Florentines, Croquantes and the Butter Crisps shown above.

Try them for yourself.  The Jules Destrooper range of biscuits are available from Co-op, Ocado, Tesco and Waitrose – RSP £1.54-£2.49 depending on the variety.

I received a range of Jules Destrooper biscuits to review, I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Shoulder to Shoulder - Tea Towels and Votes for Women

It's 40 years since I first learned about the Suffragette Movement through the TV mini-series "Shoulder to Shoulder", starring Sian Phillips as Emeline Pankhurst, Patricia Quinn as Christabel Pankhurst and Angela Down as Sylvia Pankhurst.  The series dramatised the lives of the Pankhursts during the campaign for votes for women.  It was a shocking revelation to an impressionable teenager, with a social conscience,  to find that women were imprisoned, went on hunger strike and were forcefed because they wanted to take part in a democratic society.  I know I am not alone in being deeply affected by the series, many of my contemporaries also remember the impact it had on their awareness of the fragility of their rights.  Many more battles for equality have been fought, some have been won, others are still in progress, but we all owe a debt to the Suffragettes for the sacrifices they made to allow us to vote.

The Radical Tea Towel Company make a range of products, including teatowels, with political messages, so when they asked me to choose one to review, I had no hesitation in picking out this feminist tea towel is based on a 1911 design by Margaret Morris in the Suffragette colours of purple, green and white. The design was intended to illustrate the song sheet of "The March of the Women", composed by Ethel Smyth and dedicated to Emmeline Pankhust. Smyth reputably conducted the anthem with her toothbrush from a window of Holloway Prison! A perfect feminist gift and radical kitchen accessory for the modern suffragette.

I have voted in every election since I got my vote and I put that down to that TV drama in 1974 which left an indelible mark on my consciousness and made me thankful that there were women brave enough to challenge the status quo and risk their health and their lives to secure that vote for me. I believe it's time that this series was re-made to remind another generation of young women that voting is a right that was hard won.  However, if that doesn't happen here is a little taste from YouTube Shoulder to Shoulder Episode 2

The Radical Tea Towel Company tea towels are good quality, thick 100% premium cotton and are  stitched on all four sides.  The tea towel measures approximately 48 x 76cm. Machine wash at 40 degrees max.  £11.95

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Atlantic Canada Eats - A Nova Scotia adventure awaits...

Halifax, Nova Scotia

This time next week I'll be on my way to Halifax, Nova Scotia!  I'll be travelling around Nova Scotia to visit local food producers, taste and cook along with local chefs.  I'm one of a small group of food bloggers, all of us passionate about food from countries whose inhabitants emigrated to Atlantic Canada: Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales and France.  We will be guests of the Canadian Tourism Commission, with local hosts,  mine being the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency

For one week, I'll be eating my way around Nova Scotia starting with some tours of Halifax then driving to Pictou, on the beautiful Northumberland Shore of Nova Scotia.  It's renowned as the "Birthplace of New Scotland" as it was here that the first wave of Scottish immigrants landed in 1773. Part of my brief is to look at the food heritage of the Scottish settlers and see how it translates into modern Nova Scotian cooking, I'll be hosted in Pictou by the Kilted Chef who has been busy this week as part of a group hosting the Royals on their visit to Canada!

Bay of Funday
I'll then head to Truro and the Masstown Market with the opportunity to climb to the top of the lighthouse (not that lighthouse!) for a panoramic 360 view of the mouth of the Bay of Funday. 

Halifax and its Scottish heritage

Finally I'll be returning to Halifax and meet up with my fellow travelling food bloggers.  Karen from Lavender and Lovage who is visiting Newfoundland and Labrador, Helen of Fuss Free Flavours  who is visiting New Brunswick and Aoife of The Daily Spud  who will be on Prince Edward Island but we will all meet up in Halifax for the weekend of 31st May and 1st June where we will share recipes and cooking tips and maybe even cook up a few dishes ourselves!

Follow our adventures from Tuesday 27th May to Sunday 1st June by following on Twitter @FarmersgirlCook #AtlanticCanadaEats and #ExploreCanada

All photographs courtesy of The Canadian Tourism Commission.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Pain au Chocolat and Orange Pudding

Brioche Pasquier are a French family bakery, founded in 1936. They use traditional recipes and an authentic technique to create its breakfast favourites and all Brioche Pasquier brioche products are free from artificial preservatives and colours.

Their range includes the traditional range, of Pains au Lait, Pain au chocolat, and Croissant- everything you need for the perfect French breakfast; and the Pitch range of individually wrapped brioche rolls, perfect for a lunchbox treat of for snacking on the go. Pitch is available in Chocolate, Choc Chip, Lemon, and Strawberry.

As well as being a tasty breakfast or snack, Brioche Pasquier are ideal to include in recipes.

Pain au Chocolat and Orange Pudding
75ml milk
100g dark chocolate
2 eggs
6 Brioche Pasquier Pans au Chocolat
300ml Double Cream
50g Caster Sugar
Zest of 1 Orange

  • Preheat the oven to 150C. Cut each pain au chocolat in half widthways and pack them into a ovenproof dish.
  • Add the milk, orange zest and 200ml of the cream to a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Add chocolate and stir until it has melted and become smooth.
  • Mix the sugar and eggs together in a bowl and pour the chocolate mixture over, whisking all the time.
  • Slowly pour mix over the pans au chocolat, allowing the custard to be absorbed before adding more.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is lightly crisp and the centre still wobbly.
  • Serve warm with whipped cream.
Since the first batch of brioche rolls were made by Gabriel Pasquier in his small village bakery in 1936, Brioche Pasquier have made over 12.5 billion brioche, same traditional recipes and an authentic process to create its breakfast favourites.  I enjoyed all the different types of brioche and would definitely use them in cooking and baking again.

I received a range of Brioche Pasquier products, I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The history of a farmhouse fireplace and a British Ceramic Tile makeover

When we first discovered that we had dry rot, it was a shock.  The various tradesmen gathered and predicted that it would take about three weeks to remove and replace and treat the damaged timber, unless they discovered more problems when they opened up the walls and floors.
The work started at the beginning of February and the last tradesman left at the beginning of May.  The dry rot damage was extensive and, in the process of digging up the concrete floor to put in a damp proof course, our farmhouse inglenook fireplace tiles were damaged.  While we could have done without the additional disruption, it did give me an opportunity to replace the tiles on the fireplace with my own choice of tiles.  Let me tell you a little about the history of our fireplace...

We reckon that the bottom of the house is about 300 years old, we know the top was put on in 1901 as we have the original plans.  The house has passed through the family and my husband's grandmother would have cooked on a black range something like the one above.  My mother-in-law can remember in the range being there in the 1930s.  

In the 1950's my mother-in-law and father-in-law replaced the range with a 'Super-Chatinette' which heated the water in a tank enabling them to have hot water on tap rather than heated in pans on the range.

In the early 1980s the in-laws finally installed central heating along with a Franco-Belge solid fuel stove with hot plates and an oven.  It was exactly the same as this one, it did the job but was no Aga. The heat in the oven was very variable, you could have it very hot, great for scones or very low which was fine for stews.
We fitted the current oil stove as a stand alone heater in the 1990s and filled in the space left by the larger Franco-Belge with some new tiles featuring pots of herbs.  Our elder son told me he can remember us going to choose the tiles.

Here is the fireplace dressed for Christmas, complete with Christmas tree and stockings, happy times.  But now we move on to a less happy scene...

The night we came home to this view of the broken concrete floor, was probably the worst point of all. The impact of the destruction of your home is something that cannot be underestimated. The photograph was taken from our bedroom above the kitchen, half the floor had been  removed for dry rot treatment giving a view to the kitchen and fireplace below. 

Now on to the good part, finally I had the opportunity to choose my own tiles and create the fireplace that I wanted to see in my kitchen.  I was delighted when British Ceramic Tile agreed to work with me to create a beautiful fireplace.  British Ceramic Tiles are designed and made in Britain with a wide range of traditional and modern styles.

I chose the following tiles for my fireplace:
Elite Rice White Honed Brick Mosaic Stone Tiles ISC2677
The Elite collection is made up of five distinct natural marble ranges that release the true beauty of Indonesian stone. The Rice White Brick Mosaic is available in a 305x305mm size.

Marmaris Black Field Multiuse Tiles ISC2627
The porcelain multiuse tile comes in a 450x450mm size in a natural stone effect.

We used the local company  of J.E. Jardine and Son to tile the fireplace, but if you are thinking of doing your own tiling then Katy Harris, Senior Product Manager at British Ceramic Tile has given me some top tips about tiling fireplaces:

  • Prepare the area well, making sure there is no paint or soot on the fireplace before you get the tiles ready
  • Apply tiles row by row
  • Ceramic tiles are extremely hardwearing, practical and easy to clean, making them a popular option for anyone updating their home. Any keen DIY-er can easily cut and lay the tiles without worrying about special preparation or maintenance
  • Always order an extra box of tiles in case your measurements are slightly out or you damage the tiles once laid
As recommended, I did order some extra tiles and  had enought left to tile the front lobby, where the Edwardian floor tiles had also been damaged by the building work.  Fortunately the tiles I had chosen were suitable for walls and floors and I'm absolutely delighted with the results.

British Ceramic Tiles are widely available through independent tile suppliers, builder's merchants and DIY stores. If you are interested in finding out more about British Ceramic Tiles please contact 01626 831391 or 'like' their Facebook page. 

Many thanks to British Ceramic Tile for supplying me with the tiles, it's been a pleasure to work with them and The Lenny Agency. I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Spinach, Mushroom and Blue Cheese Lasagne

Lasagne is one of my favourite dishes.  But sometimes it's nice to have a change from an 'al forno' meat sauce and make a vegetarian alternative.  Spring bring lovely fresh green vegetables, one of which is spinach, it always seems to be a sort of magical leaf the way it fills the pan and then a few minutes later it has reduced to damp, dark green blob in the bottom of the pan!  Mushrooms do a similar thing but not quite so dramatically!

Spinach and Mushroom and Blue Cheese Lasagne
Serves 6

2tbsp olive oil
180g pack spinach leaves
2 garlic cloves
250g pack chestnut mushrooms
400g can chopped tomatoes
300g lasagne sheets
600ml milk
3 tbsp cornflour
100g  Castello Danish Blue Extra Creamy
100g mature cheddar
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper 

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.  Heat 1 tbsp of olive in a large pan, add half the garlic and spinach leaves and stir fry for 1-2 minutes until the leaves have wilted.  Remove from the heat, season well and set aside.
2. Add the remaining oil to the pan, add the mushrooms and cook over a high heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are browned. Stir in the remaining garlic.  Mix in the tin of tomatoes and heat for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste.
3.  Make the white sauce, take two tablespoons of the milk and mix to a paste with the cornflour.  Heat the rest of the milk until just below boiling point and add to the cornflour mix, then heat stirring all the time until thick and glossy, cook for 5 minutes to cook out the starch. Season well.
4. Place a layer of lasagne in the base of your dish. Top with half the mushroom mix, then add another layer of lasagne.  Spoon over a third of the white sauce and sprinkle over half the blue cheese.
5. Repeat the layers.  Place a final layer of lasagne on top and spread over the remaining white sauce and top with the cheddar cheese.
6. Place on a baking tray and bake for 40 minutes or until the lasagne is tender and top golden.  Serve with a green salad.

This was a really tasty dish, I love blue cheese and the sharp bite of the Danish Blue was a great foil to the mild mushroom flavour and the deep earthy taste of the spinach.

I'm entering this for blog challenge 'Extra Veg'  hosted this month by Shaheen at Allotment to Kitchen .  Its blog challenge created by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle of Utterly Scrummy.  The theme this month is Savoury Vegetarian which fits my Mushroom, Spinach and Blue Cheese Lasagne perfectly.

I'm also entering this recipe for Four Seasons Food celebrating the vegetables of spring.  FSF is run by Anneli at Delicieux and Louisa at Eat Your Veg who is hosting this month.

Thanks to Castello for the Danish Blue Extra Creamy Cheese.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Ham in Ginger Beer - The May/June Slow Cooker Challenge

After relying on my Slow Cooker for three months, once I got my oven back, I rather neglected the Slow Cooker.  However, today I was getting my hair coloured and cut, plus doing a few bits of shopping in town, which meant I would be out from 10am until about 3.30pm.  This is when the Slow Cooker really comes into it's own.

Slow Cookers are brilliant for cooking gammon joints, the slow cooking makes the ham really tender and it's such a simple dish to make.

Slow Cooker Ham
750g-1.5kg ham or gammon joint
10 black peppercorns
1 tbsp honey
330ml Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer, cider or apple juice
500ml boiling water

1. Place a piece of foil in the bottom of your slow cooker, this will help you lift the ham out when it is cooked.
2. Place the ham in the slow cooker and add the peppercorns.
3. Pour over the bottle of Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer.
4. Mix the honey with the boiling water and pour over the ham.
5. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on Low for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 5-6 hours.
6. When the cooking time is up, lift the ham from the cooker and drain before slicing.
7. Serve hot or cold. 

 I served the ham with boiled new potatoes, cauliflower and parsley sauce.  I added a little of the cooking liquor to the sauce which added a lovely sweetness with just a hint of ginger. We also had the ham cold with salad and the flavour of the Alcoholic Ginger Beer came through more strongly in the ham slices.  I managed to make it stretch to three meals for three adults, with reasonable portions, so really good value all round.

It's an OPEN themed challenge this month, so feel free to enter ANY recipe cooked in a Slow Cooker or Crockpot, just follow the rules below:
  • 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 dedicated 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. 
  • You can re post previous recipes on your blog, but please add the Slow Cooker Challenge Logo and link.
  • One entry per blog.
  • Recipes must be added to the linky by the 28th of each month.
As I will not be available to round up the challenge at the end of May, I am running this challenge over two months. The Challenge will end 28TH JUNE, 2014. 

Labels: , , ,

Friday, 2 May 2014

DIY Bank Holiday? Cleaning up with Oxo Good Grips

Are you planning any DIY this Bank Holiday weekend?  We've been living in a building site for three months and I can't tell you how many times I've cleaned up after the builder, the plasterer, the electrician and the joiner.  It's not quite over yet, but the dirtier work has now finished and it gvve me the opportunity to try out the OXO Good Grips Double Sided Flip Mop

Whether you need to dust hardwood, scrub a sticky stain on tile, or anything in between, the OXO Good Grips Double Sided Flip Mop is all you’ll need to make your floor shine. The Mop features two surfaces: soft, absorbent microfibre on one side and foamed scrubbing surface on the other. The Microfibre side is perfect for dry dusting or quick mopping on many different surfaces, and the scrubbing side is great for tough stains or sticky messes. The large, flat sponge head covers a large surface with every swipe and it’s easy to alternate sides with a flip of the lightweight, aluminium Mop handle. With a push of the comfortable handle, the rollers squeeze out the entire sponge, and when in the closed position, create a stand to keep the Mop upright with the sponge off the floor. Sponge heads are securely attached with Velcro and are interchangeable and replaceable.

The Double Sided Flip Mop works really well with the OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Bucket  You can fill, measure and pour with ease with the OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Bucket. The patented top-view angled surface measures gallons and quarts, eliminating guesswork when filling. Built-in measurements on the bottom of the bucket provide added convenience when measuring smaller amounts of detergent. The large opening accommodates all household mops and the wide spouts allow for controlled pouring. The soft, non-slip handle absorbs pressure from your hand, making it easier to carry and pour when the Bucket is full. The Mop Holder on the bucket handle securely holds your mop upright in storage or when moving from room to room while mopping.

I found the Double-sided Flip Mop easy to use and easy to flip between the soft microfibre side and the gentle scrubbing side when coming upon a stubborn stain.

Squeezing out the mop was also straight-forward, I found it best to move the rollers over the sponges slowly to remove as much water as possible, particularly for a wooden floor where you don't want a lot of water left on the surface.  All in all it was a very successful mop which worked well on the wooden floor and also on the vinyl in the bathroom.  I really liked the way the heads are fitted with velcro which means you can easily remove them to clean them properly and replace them if they wear out. 

As with all OXO Good Grips products the quality of both the mop and the bucket is very high.  They are well finished and feel substantial and comfortable to use. So if you are planning any DIY or Spring Cleaning, then I can highly recommend this mop and bucket.  I also love my OXO Good Grips Extending Duster which you can read about in this blog post: Can I do you now, Sir?

RRP for the Double-Sided Flip Mop - £25
RRP for the Angled Measuring Bucket - £12

Many thanks to Zara for her thoughtfulness in offering me the mop and bucket to help me clean up.  I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Baked Rum Bananas for No Waste Food Challenge

I'm hosting the No Waste Food Challenge this month.  This challenge is all about using every bit of food that you buy, it was started by Kate of Turquoise Lemons, and is now in the capable hands of Elizabeth at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

You are free to share any recipe which uses up any ingredients which otherwise might have gone to waste. Tell us how you salvaged that stale bread, spotty mushy brown bananas, those softening vegetables in the bottom of the fridge.  Elizabeth has also set up a Pinterest board, to which all entries will be added.

I did have some of those spotty bananas, it doesn't happen often and usually I use them to make banana bread or muffins.  However, I didn't have time to do that, so I thought they would make a simple and delicious dessert.  I also had half a lime in the fridge and a small quantity of rum in the bottom of a miniature bottle.

Baked Rum Bananas
4 bananas
30g butter
2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp rum (or orange juice)
zest and juice of half a lime

1. Heat the oven to 220C/Gas 7.
2. Slice the bananas lengthways and place in an oven proof dish.
3. Sprinkle over the lime zest and pour over the rum and lime juice.
4. Dot the butter over the bananas and cover with the sugar.
5. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown and bubbling.
6. Serve with greek yogurt, cream or icecream.

I'm not usually a huge fan of baked bananas as they are often too sweet for my liking, however the lime zest and juice really cuts through the sweetness and we all really enjoyed the Baked Rum Bananas.

Challenge Conditions:

1. Please link up your URL using the linky at the bottom of this month's challenge post.
2. Feel free to republish old posts just make sure you add a link to this month's challenge and add the challenge badge (the blue badge at the top of this post).

3. Make sure you link up before the end of the month! Entries close 30th May 2014.

4. Posts will be added to the No Waste Food Challenge Pinterest Board to help spread the food waste prevention love!

5. Please make sure your post includes a link back to this blog post and Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

6. If you are on Twitter tweet me @FarmersgirlCook and @TangoRaindrop with the tag #NoWasteFoodChallenge and we will retweet all that we see.

7. This is a Blog Hop! Grab the code at the bottom and share on your own site. 
8. A round up of all the month's entries will be posted on this blog at the beginning of May.

What will you make for the No Waste Food Challenge?

This is a blog hop get the InLinkz code

Labels: , , , ,