Monday, 30 June 2014

BBC Good Food Show Summer

I love food and cake shows. What's not to love about food shows? They are (usually) indoor venues jam packed with a variety of food related stalls and even better, famous and well loved chefs showing off their culinary skills during food demonstrations. I've been to BBC Good Food Show, twice before but this has been during he winter shows. 
I recently visited during their summer show and I must say that I prefer this to their winter show. Located in the incredibly large National Exhibition Centre, there are literally hundreds of stalls and so much going on. If you like demonstrations there was a Summer Kitchen and Cakes and Bakes show which is free, alongside the Supertheatre Kitchen where cooking and baking national treasures cook up scrumptious treats. I watched Lisa Faulkner make a lovely panzanella dish which I recreated at home at the Summer Kitchen and also watched Francis Quinn make delicate sporty cupcakes at the Cakes and Bakes theatre.
Another fabulous part of the BBC Good Food Show is the amount of freebies that all the stalls are happy to give you, which of course lures you (well me) into buying more foodie goodies. I strongly recommend that if you attend next year, do not drive as there are plenty of alcohol related stalls who offer tasters of unique flavours such as chocolate wine. After a busy morning looking around and purchasing foodies items, lunch time was heaven, I was spoilt for choice for all the lunch options. Previous years where I have attended I've always brought a pork bap from a hog roast stall but decided to venture into the unknown this year and brought a delicious buffalo burger. I stocked up on some tasty olives, fab vintage knife and fork (from Simply Vintage stall), coconut mini cakes, fudge Gallo wine, chocolate pizza, Malaysian spice mix and managed to pick up a couple of freebies. Would I go again? Definitely, as a foodie I think this show is compulsory for all food lovers.  
Here are some of my favourite pictures of the day.

Me and Lisa Faulkner
Med foods

Med foods


My fave stall Simply Vintage

Simply vintage

Colourful vegetables


Laura's fudge

Laura's fudge

Francis Quinn

Chocolate pizza

Me outside (The garden show was also on)

Goodies I brought

Disclaimer: I received two press passes to attend BBC Good Food Show, I was not required to write a positive review.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Chicken and Waffles - A Taste of The Deep South

I have been fascinated by this American classic ever since seeing the legendary global superstar Beyonce share this dish on her Instragram page when she visited a native Texan restaurant all the way back in February 2013. I was fascinated on how an unusual breakfast combination of waffles, something so sweet with meat would work, but it had to work as it's eaten throughout the Deep South, so it must be fabulous. Type in the term chicken and waffles in google there are so many different variations but I decided to develop my own healthier version. Perhaps if I didn't gain weight easily I would have dunked the chicken in a deep fat fryer, but sometimes all the frying can detract from the wonderful moist flavour of the chicken. Anyway, I liked my buttermilk marinaded oven baked version, the marinading from the night before makes the chicken incredibly tender and moist, and the crispiness comes from the flour which the chicken is liberally dunked into. As the oven does all the hard work it leaves you plenty of time to get on with other things. The waffle is simple to make and once paired with the chicken, strawberries and lime marmalade it's a taste sensation which will leave you wanting to make this hearty weekend breakfast over again.
Here is how my chicken and waffles turned out:
Chicken and waffles

Chicken and waffles

Marinaded chicken


Waffle mixture

Batter in the iron.

Chicken and waffles

Recipe for chicken and waffles
2 chicken legs
1tbsp all purpose seasoning
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
3 tbsp plain flour
A good splash of milk (around 6 tbsp milk)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 strawberries
lime marmalade or 2 tbsp golden syrup
waffles can be made in accordance to the instructions a waffle packet mixer or follow a basic waffle batter recipe.

You will need an ovenproof dish and a waffle maker.

Get started the night before, mix the all purpose seasoning, cayenne pepper, paprika and pinch of pepper in a bowl until combined. Pour 1tbsp oil over the 2 chicken legs then evenly share the seasoning between the two legs. Place the chicken legs in the oven proof dish then add the milk and the lemon juice to the oven proof dish. Leave in the dish overnight in the fridge, if it's not possible to marinade overnight leave for as long as possible as the milk makes the chicken tender and moist.

Once the chicken has marinaded, remove the dish from the fridge. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 6. Place the plain flour in a plate and carefully dip the chicken pieces in the flour, ensuring all the chicken is coated with the flour mixture. In another oven proof dish add 1 tbsp oil and place the chicken legs in the dish. Oven bake for 40 minutes, turning over after 20 minutes. Whilst the chicken is cooking and 10 minutes away from being baked, preheat the waffle machine, drizzle a little oil inside the waffle iron and prepare the waffle mixture. Pour the waffle mixture and cook according to the instructions on your waffle iron.  Once the waffle is cooked, carefully remove with a fish slicer and place on your plate. Remove the chicken from the oven and position next to the waffle. Add the strawberries to the plate and drizzle the lime marmalade or golden syrup if using.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Chocolate and Ginger Tiffin

One of my favourite chefs, Levi Roots describes this sweet treat as "A superior chocolate biscuit cake, ginger, nuts, sultanas, chocolate - how can we go wrong?". I agree, you can't go wrong with chocolate especially when Caribbean flavours are infused in this chocoholic treat. It's been a while since I made a dish from Sweet but I have pencilled so many sweet dishes from this book, many of my upcoming posts will include recipes from Sweet. I'm used to making a no bake dish with digestives but the ginger nuts offer a fiery dimension to the dish and I love the addition of the nuts and sultanas. If you are making this dish, I'll have to warn you that it is quite addictive and I struggled to stick to one piece.

Here is how my chocolate and ginger tiffin turned out:
Chocolate and ginger tiffin

Chocolate and ginger tiffin

Ginger biscuits crushed

Ginger nuts in tin

Chocolate melted

Chocolate filling in pan

Chocolate and ginger in tin pre set

Chocolate and ginger tiffin set

Recipe for Chocolate and Ginger Tiffin.
Serves 8 225g ginger biscuits
150g unsalted butter
2tbsp golden syrup
1 1/2 tbsp coco powder
75g almonds or hazelnuts (or whatever nuts you fancy)
50g sultanas
150 g dark chocolate (I used half milk/half dark)
I also added glace cherries & white chocolate

Pulse the biscuits in a food processor or, alternatively, place them in a sealed plastic bag and bash them with a rolling pin until they are completely crushed biscuits and small chunks.
Line a 15cm (6 in) square baking tin or plastic container with foil or non stick baking paper, ensuring that the lining extends over the edges of the tin so, later you can easily lift the tiffin out of the tin once it has set.
Melt the butter and the syrup together in a heavy based saucepan set over a medium heat. Add the coco powder, nuts and sultanas and stir until everything comes together. Press the mixture into the tin so it iis around 3 cm (1 1/4in) thick once flattened out. Leave to cool, then refrigerate until set.
Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, ensuring that the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Pour the chocolate over the tiffin and leave to set (put it in the refrigerator to speed it up.
Once completely hard, lift the tiffin out of the tin, holding onto the foil or the baking paper. To serve, cut the tiffin into small squares with a sharp knife.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Kitchen Garden Experts, Review and Giveaway

Kitchen Garden Experts is a fabulous book by twenty celebrated chefs at top UK restaurants and their head gardeners. Green fingered and foodies will love this book. Kitchen Garden Experts shared the prized herbs, fruit and vegetables that we can grow in our garden but may not always fully utilise in our home cooking. The top restaurants in the UK do not purchase their fruit, vegetables or herbs in their local supermarket as we sometimes do, but instead are found in abundance from their gardens. In this economic climate and the growing consciousness to know where our food is coming from Kitchen Garden Experts is a great way to start doing something simple, grow your own. Kitchen Garden Experts shares the chefs passion and the high quality foods that can be created with ingredients from our back garden, or for those who are really into this, allotments.

The chapters are divided in accordance to the twenty restaurants which all include introductions, a key ingredient and recipe alongside beautiful pictures.

  • The Grove
  • The Ethicurean
  • The George and Dragon
  • Padstow Kitchen Garden 
  • L'Enclume
  • The Felin Fach Griffin
  • The Pig Hotel
  • The Star Inn
  • River Cottage
  • Jekka McVicar & The Company Of Cooks
  • The River Cafe 
  • Monachyle Mhor Hotel
  • Vallum Farm
  • The Scottish Kitchen Garden
  • Sir Terence Conran and The Albion
  • The Wellington Arms
  • Winteringham Fields
  • Skye Gyngell at the Heckfield Place
  • Wimpole Hall
  • Le Manor Aux Quat'Sassions.
I was drawn to the recipe from the Gloustershire restaurants Jekka McVicar and The Company Of Cooks. There was a comphrensive guidance on Winter Savoury - which before flicking through this book I never heard of. The Company of Cooks state that winter savoury is the unsung hero of the herb garden and tastes like a cross between thyme and rosemary with just a hint of fennel. Unfortunately I did not have the winter savoury growing in my garden but I had the rosemary and thyme.  I did not let that stop me and followed the recipe which resulted in crispy flavour infused potatoes which I served with gammon. I loved the texture and the presentation of the savoury potatoes and will definitely make this again. 
Here is how my potatoes turned out:

Savoury potatoes

Savoury potatoes pre bake

Thyme in my garden

Rosemary in the garden

Recipe for Savoury Potatoes 
120ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for coating ovenproof dish.
1.2  kg potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
4 sprigs of winter savoury (I used thyme and rosemary)
salt and pepper
500g cherry tomatoes.
250g onions, thinly sliced
4 sprigs of winter savoury

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Brush the bottom and sides of a shallow ovenproof glass dish or small roast tin tin of oil. Arrange some potatoes in a single 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 leave, season with salt and pepper, add one third of the cherry tomatoes and generously drizzle with 40ml olive oil. Repeat this process three times finishing with the onions , savoury and tomatoes on top. 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.

The lovely people at Francis Lincoln have kindly offered a reader of my blog a copy of Kitchen Garden Secrets. To enter please follow the instructions:

  •  Follow the instructions on the rafflecopter widget.
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  • All entries will be checked and verified. 
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will run from 18.06.14 - 20.07.14
  • Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted.
  • Francis Lincoln Ltd  will dispatch the book to the lucky winner.
  • The competition is open to UK residences only.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Travel Santa Susanna

I travelled to Santa Susanna last month as I fancied a quick 3 night break. I could have travelled anywhere in Europe but I fancied somewhere not to far away, as I did not want to spend too long on a plan and also would have a warm climate. City breaks are a great way of exploring famous landmarks, but I find that I am exhausted after a city break and need to use extra annual leave days to recover, so I decided on a beach beak in the coastal town of Santa Susanna.  I hear you say where is Santa Susanna?and I asked myself this when I saw bargain holidays deals  as I booked then researched the location and activities that I could do later as I could not simply pass this deal by.
Santa Susanna is around a 50 minute drive from Barcelona and is a well hidden secret, coastal resort. I stayed in the 4 star Aqua Hotel Aquamarina, I am no fan of slumming it especially as I got older and for longer holidays, 5 star hotels are the only way. The Aqua Hotel Marina is a spacious modern, friendly hotel, with one main pool area, one main restaurant, a snack restaurant and clean, comfortable, clean and modern rooms. There is a local beach located nearby.  I found all the staff at Aqua Hotel Aquamarina to be helpful and could converse in numerous languages (There were also several French and German guests).
 I completed some research online about what Santa Susanna via their tourist board and promptly decided to try out the tourist train and also take a boat trip. There were also lot more places to see such as churches and rural routes by segway but as I was limited for time I took the leisurely excursions.
As I am a foodie I always take great delight in sharing all my foodie consumptions during my break in Espana, but I also like to go out and see the local culture and eat more traditional food. This is not always the case in over subscribed resorts a la Benidorm. I also spent a day in the nearby coastal town of Tosa De Mar where all the locals were friendly and the prices for souvenirs and food were reasonable. I took several spectacular views of the caves whilst on the boat trip around the Costa Del Sol. Santa Susanna offered good value for money for the restaurants and most restaurants sold tapas, local, paella, wine, bread, olives, nibbles. All in all I would definitely visit here again.

Disclaimer: I paid for this mini-break for myself, as I love to travel I though I would share the highlights of my trip.


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Sweet potato, chickpea & chorizo hash

Another day, another quick mid-week evening meal. A few months back I saw a deal for BBC Good Food Easy Cook Magazine, 5 issues for £5. Now, I have quite a few of the BBC Good Food books but I was enticed to purchase the magazine is primarily catered to the busy cook, which is perfect for a busy professional like me. This recipe is taken from the November 2013 edition and was also a way of making recipes from my several magazines, books, recipe cards: you get the drift!
Here is how my sweet potato, chickpea & chorizo hash turned out:
Sweet potato, chickpea and chorizo hash.

Sweet potato, chickpea & chorizo hash.

Recipe for sweet potato, chickpea & chorizo hash.

600g sweet potatoes, diced
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
400g cooking chorizo sausages, skinned and crumbled
4 large eggs
1 green chili, thinly sliced into rings

1) Boil the sweet potatoes for 8 minutes until tender, then drain. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan and cook the onion and chorizo for 5 minutes until softened. Add the sweet potatoes and chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes more. Roughly break the mixture up with a fork, then flatten it down lightly to form a cake. Cook for a further 8 minutes, without stirring, until cooked through, crispy and golden on the bottom.
2) Heat grill to high. Break the eggs onto the hash, season, then place the pan under the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes until the whites are set. Sprinkle with chili to serve. 


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