National Sandwich Week with the Central Co-Operative

image

Having previously managed the payroll for a very large food manufacture of about 100,000 sandwiches a day many years ago, the invitation from the Central England Co-Operative to create a great sandwich combination using tasty ingredients that could be found in your local store to celebrate National Sandwich week was was right up my street!

As the weather has been very changeable recently, including snow, hailstones, ice, wind and sunshine (and all in one day too!) I decided on a combination of a hot, toasted, sandwich and a lovely salad to go with it. I bought a variety of ingredients including a pack of sandwich thins, Mozzarella cheese, tomato pesto, mixed salad leaves, beautifully sweet Piccolo tomatoes, sweet baby peppers and some delicious mixed root vegetable crips to make my lunch.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
After preparing a really quick salad using the leaves, peppers and tomatoes, I simply tipped some of the root vegetable crisps into a small bowl and set about preparing my toasted sandwich.

Drain the Mozzarella and slice about 5mm thick.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
The Sandwich Thins are pre-sliced so it’s very quick and simple to separate the two halves.  Place a couple of generous teaspoons of the tomato pesto on one side of the bread.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Spread the pesto over the bread into a relatively even layer.  Repeat with the other sandwiches as required.  I made two for lunch today; one each for my husband and myself.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Tear the mozzarella slices into strips and cover the pesto.  I’ve left a small gap around the edges to stop the cheese oozing out (and being wasted) on to my sandwich press. Top with the other half of the Sandwich thin.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Preheat your sandwich maker (I have an Antony Worrall Thompson for Breville flat sandwich press that I’ve had for many years).

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Place your sandwich onto the sandwich maker and close the lid.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Toast for a few minutes until the top is nicely browned and the mozzarella has started to melt.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Slice diagonally using a sharp knife.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Serve with a helping of salad and some of the root vegetable crisps.

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative
Tasty (the sandwich that is!)

British Sandwich Week 2016 with the Central England Co-Operative

I was sent a voucher from the Central England Co-Operative to buy my ingredients to participate in the creation for National Sandwich Week.

Stoves Winter Recipe Creation

ImageGen.ashx

As a member of the BBC Good Food Show Blogger Community, and having worked on a previous Stoves UK recipe re-creation, I was again invited to take part and cook up a storm in my kitchen, with inspiration received from the live demonstrations that the chefs give at the shows.  I sat in the audience and watched the very talented Phil Vickery cook eels, but I’m not brave enough to try those slippery little suckers (I used to go fishing with my husband, so know their habitat and slippery/slimy persona). Instead I chose to do two recipes which can both be found on the Stoves Recipe website: (I have not re-published the recipes here; merely the method of preparation, as neither recipe is mine, but I have provided the links to them which you can find on the Stoves website).

Gusto’s pan-fried Chicken Breast with Creamed Leeks and Butter-fried Gnocchi

image

Following the recipe (link above) and having sealed my chicken breasts until golden, before placing them in the oven to cook, I then sliced my shallots and crushed my garlic, sweating them off until softened but not coloured.  I added my sliced leeks to the pan and continued to sweat the vegetables before adding the cream, reducing the mixture and stirring through the oregano and mascarpone.
imageTo my pan of boiling water, I dropped in my gnocchi, removing them when they floated to the top to signify they were cooked.  They were then added to a pan of olive oil and butter and cooked until golden.

The chicken breasts are served on a bed of the creamed leeks, surrounded by a tumbling of the gnocchi and gives you a dinner worth of a fully tummy and an empty plate.

image

image

Well, I say a full tummy, but you’re never too full for a delicous dessert, are you?  So, for my dessert I chose to make A Glug of Oil’s Limoncello Cheesecake using a bottle of Pallini Limoncello.

image

I lined my springform tin with baking parchment (it makes it easier to remove it from the tin to serve).  I crushed my Oaties biscuits (Tesco’s own Hob Nobs) and melted my butter, then mixed them both together, pressing this into the base of my tin, before placing it in the fridge to cool.

The mascarpone, lemon curd and lemon zest, along with the lemon juice and Limoncello (I added 5tbs, not the 2tbs that are recommended in the recipe), all went into a bowl and were beaten together until thoroughly combined and smooth.  This was then poured over the chilled cheesecake base and placed back into the fridge to set overnight.

image

The lemon slices are candied in syrup for the decoration.

image

Remove your cheesecake from the tin to a serving plate and serve chilled.

image

As part of the BBC Good Food Show Blogger Community, I was invited to take part in the Stoves UK cook along, for which I received a Tesco gift voucher to purchase ingredients.

Wonky Veg Blogger Challenge with Asda

image

As a youngest of four children to parents who turned virtually all of their large garden over the growing of vegetables, I grew up knowing and appreciating the hours of hard work, dedication, blood, sweat and tears that goes into producing a harvest of fine fruit and vegetables for the table, not to mention knowing the provenance of my food.  Dad didn’t grown food because it would come out of the ground looking pretty, but because he wanted his family to eat wholesome food that mum would then turn into the most amazing meals for us to eat (IF we left it there long enough to get to the kitchen table that is.  Pods of peas were generally found empty and carrots were pulled and sneakily consumed straight from the garden but us all; including mum and dad!) We didn’t have much of a lawn in our large garden, because dad said “you can’t eat grass!” Our playground was the playing fields, tennis courts and running tracks of the school 2 minutes away at the back of the houses opposite my parents’.

This time last year, after a campaign my Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty on their Friday Night Feast programme, Asda was one of the supermarkets to launch wonky fruit and veg for sale at discounted prices in their stores in a bid to help reduce this abhorrent food waste.  The public embraced this common sense approach and continues to do so today and Asda are now the first major UK supermarket to sell the Wonky Veg Box.  You may even have seen that Jamie and Jimmy featured this on Friday night (5th February) on their Channel 4 Programme highlighting the success of this trial.   Therefore, when I was approached to take part in the Wonky Veg Blogger Challenge in association with the launch of the Wonky Veg Box by Asda, that is being trialled in 128 of their stores I just couldn’t refuse!

image

Having been sent a box of vegetables, which Asda say “could feed a family of 4 for a week”, which they’re selling for the bargain price of £3.50, along with a selection of food prep goodies, including a spiralizer, and a gift voucher with which to buy any additional ingredients to compliment my vegetables, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in with my challenge.

image

Saturday being a non work day should have equalled a lay in, but oh no, not in my house when I have good food to prepare! At 8:30am I was already in my kitchen, my hair was tied up and my apron was on preparing to cook up a storm!

image

Using less than half of the potatoes and a couple of the leeks, along with two onions, I set to making a simple but tasty potato and leek soup for lunch.  Simply chop the onions finely and sauté off in a little bit of butter, to soften, without colouring.

image

Sliced the leeks and cube your potatoes and add them to the pan.  Cook out gently for another 6-8 minutes, until the potatoes start to soften too.

image

image

Pour in about 500ml milk and bring to a simmer. Don’t boil it as you can split the milk.  Continue to cook until the potatoes are cooked through.

image

Using a stick blender or a food processor, blend the soup until you get the desired consistency; be that with chunks or smooth.  Season with salt and white pepper to taste, and adjust the thickness if necessary with some boiling water.  Serve, with a little bit of sprinkled paprika over the top and some crusty bread. (You can even cube and fry some stale bread into croutons.  Don’t throw that stale bread away; it’s great for making croutons or for blitzing into breadcrumbs, you know).

image

Dinner was next on my thought trail, so for this I decided I’d go for a hearty casserole.  The weather this weekend was wet, cold and blustery, so what would be better later than battening down the hatches, and tucking into some delicious and comforting food?  To go with the Wonky Veg from my box, I bought 3 sirloin steaks and a bottle of Merlot red wine, some chopped tomatoes, double cream, Thyme and gruyere cheese.

image

Cut the steak into bite sized cubes.  Add to a hot frying pan to which you’ve added a splash of oil and sear all over to colour the outside for that added ‘oompf’ of flavour.

image

Remove the browned steak to a casserole dish and set aside.

image

Meanwhile cut your carrots, leeks, parsnip, red and green peppers and a couple more onions into even sized pieces and add to the pan that you’ve just removed your steak from (don’t let those amazing pan flavours go to waste!).  Add half a bottle of red wine and cook out for 5 minutes to remove the alcohol, scraping the bottom of your pan with a wooden spoon to release those unctuous meat juices from the bottom.

image

Pour in a tin/carton of chopped tomatoes and a generous pinch of thyme which you need to have chopped.  Bring to a simmer.

image

Pour the tomatoes and vegetables over the steak pieces in your casserole dish and stir together.

image

Put the lid on and cook slowly about 150℃ for 3-3½ hours.  (You could even put this into a slow cooker and let it (as my mum would say) ‘chuggle’ away all day while you get on with whatever you have to get on with.

For my veg accompaniment, I chose to make a take on a potato dauphinoise using the addition of one of the two Savoy cabbages from my box to the equation.

In a large saucepan, add about 300ml double cream, 100ml milk, some grated nutmeg and a clove of garlic (that you’ve bashed open, rather than crushed).  Bring this to a gentle simmer whilst you prepare the potatoes and cabbage.

Peel and slice the potatoes thinly (I use a hand held Oxo Good Grips Mandoline on setting 2 for this) remove the central stalk and and finely shred the cabbage.  Butter the inside of a dish that you’ll be using and add a layer of potatoes, overlapping each slice to create ‘swirls’.  Top this with the shredded cabbage and another layer of the potato slices.  Press down to compress to form a potato/cabbage ‘cake’.

image

Add salt and pepper to taste to your cream and milk mixture, then remove (discard) the ‘bashed’ garlic clove and pour this mixture over your potato and cabbage.  Sprinkle generously with some grated Gruyere cheese.  Butter the inside of some tin foil (to stop it sticking to the cheese) and place this over the top of your dauphinoise.

 

image

Leaving the casserole in the oven, turn it up to 180℃, place the dauphinoise in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes.  Remove the foil and allow to brown for another 10-15 minutes until the top is golden and the potatoes are cooked when poked with a knife blade.

Serve and enjoy!

image

My box certainly won’t be feeding this family of 3 for a week (we’re one member of the family down as he is away at University), but we did get lunch and dinner out of the box, with leftovers of each dish to enjoy tomorrow night.

This is all I have left in my box:  One large and wonky cucumber, five onions, one red pepper and a savoy cabbage.  Not bad for £3.50 eh?  I’ll certainly be buying one in the future!

image

I was invited to join the campaign and was sent the Wonky Veg box, along with the vegetable preparation tools and an Asda gift voucher to buy additional ingredients.

Christmas Cheat Treats with the Central England Co-Operative

image

When invited by the Central England Co-operative to work with them again to bring you tips on how to make Christmas easy and stress free, then what better way to do this than via the dessert table? Using some bought ingredients, along with a just a little, easy, home made preparation, I’m bringing you not one, but four sweet cheat treats to make your Christmas entertaining a breeze!

I bought:

* frozen puff pastry and used some homemade mincemeat (you could buy a jar of mincemeat to make it even easier on yourself, but I had some already made).

* jelly and a bottle of Prosecco to make a grown up, fizzy wobbly treat.

* cappuccino swiss roll, dark and milk chocolate with a tub of double cream to create the most deliciously easy chocolate ganache covered Yule log.

* ready made Christmas pudding and some butter and icing sugar to make the perfect rum butter pudding.

image

To make your Yule Log, firstly you need to make a ganache.  Simply take 200g dark chocolate and 100g milk chocolate and break/cut this into small pieces (the smaller the better as it’ll melt quicker).  Place this into a large bowl.  Pour 250ml double cream into a saucepan and heat very gently until hot, but not boiling, then pour this over the chocolate pieces.  Leave to sit for a couple of minutes until the chocolate starts to melt, then stir until fully melted.  At this stage I added a couple of tablespoons of Amaretto to my melted chocolate and cream mixture as I’d bought a cappuccino swiss roll and was going to make a tiramisu inspired Yule Log, but you can leave the alcohol out of yours, if you like.  Leave your Ganache somewhere cool for about 30 minutes to start to set and firm up. Don’t allow this to set hard or it’ll be too difficult to work with and to cover your swiss roll. Gently and slowly pour a couple of caps full of amaretto over your Swiss roll, allowing it to soak into the sponge (again, omit the alcohol if you want to share this with the kids!)

When your ganache is cool, and has started to thicken, spread it thickly onto your swiss roll and roughly leave a ‘bark/knot’ pattern in the chocolate to represent a log.

image

To make the grown up fizzy jelly. Following the packet instructions, break/cut up the jelly into small pieces (I use scissors and cut it into small pieces as they dissolve quicker).  Pour over up to 200ml boiling water and stir until the jelly has dissolved.  Carefully open the bottle of Prosecco and use this to make the jelly up to 500ml. Pour into serving dishes or glasses and leave somewhere to cool and set firm.

image

For your mince pies, preheat your oven to 200°C onto a floured board, roll out your pastry evenly until it’s about the depth of a pound coin. Using a cutter that’s larger than your tart tin, cut 12 rounds of pastry and use these to line the tin indentations.  Place a generous teaspoon of your mincemeat into each of the pastry rounds.  Using the leftover pastry, cut stars or other shapes to top your mince pies.  Brush the tops of the pastry with beaten egg to glaze, being careful not to allow it to drip down between the pastry base and the tin as this will cause your mince pies to stick.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the tops are golden and the pastry has puffed.  Remove to a wire rack to cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar to give them a festive dusting of ‘snow’.

image

To go with my Christmas pudding, I’ve made a delicious rum butter.  This is one of the easiest things to make as it only takes three ingredients: unsalted butter, icing sugar and rum!  Allow your butter to reach room temperature as this will make it easier to mix. The rule of thumb here is to use twice as much icing sugar as butter, therefore for 250g butter, you’d need 500g icing sugar.  Using an electric hand mixer, beat the softened butter and the icing sugar together gently (adding the icing sugar in small amounts until combined, to avoid you, the house and entire neighbourhood being covered in a sweet, white dusting of sugar).  When fully combined, turn up the speed and whip it until it becomes light in texture.  Add a couple of capfuls of rum (or your preferred spirit), then beat again to incorporate it fully.  Taste and add more rum if you like.

image

So, there you go; four tasty treats, all of which have a little cheat attached to make your dessert table one to be envied and for you to enjoy as you’ve had a little help to make each of them stress free.

image

Wishing you a very Merry ‘stress free’ Christmas from the Central England Co-Operative, my family and myself.

Rosie

xx

I was provided with vouchers from the Central England Co-Operative to purchase ingredients to take part in this campaign.