Stoves Winter Recipe Creation

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The lemon slices are candied in syrup for the decoration.

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

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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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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’.

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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.

 

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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!

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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!

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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.

BBC Good Food Show Bloggers Day Out at Warner Edwards Gin

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A few weeks back I was invited, as one of the BBC Good Food Show bloggers, to visit Warner Edwards gin distillery in Northamptonshire.  As a local Northamptonshire girl and a fan of their gin already, there was no way I was going to pass this one up! So, with the day booked off work and the services of my husband employed as my chauffeur for the day, I went the 15 miles from my home to the beautiful little village of Harrington, where their distillery is based.

Tom (Warner) and Sion (Edwards) met at agricultural college and have been the best of friends ever since. They are both from farming backgrounds and the distillery is actually based in a converted barn on Tom’s parents’ family farm, where the water they use to manufacture the gin and cut the alcohol is taken from one of the many natural springs which emerge from the land on the terraced fields upon which the farm looks.

After arriving and being met by Sion, we were taken indoors to meet their beautiful copper Arnold Holstein Still called ‘Curiosity’. Why is she called Curiosity? Well, the story goes (and there are paw prints to prove it), that when they laid the concrete floor ready for the still, they came back the next morning to find cat paw prints embossed into the now dry concrete; so as the saying goes “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back”.

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One of the first thing that hits you as you enter the distillery, along with the warmth, is the distinctive smell of the juniper and the other ten botanicals that they use in their distilling process, which includes coriander and nutmeg. The beautiful patina on the copper is produced by the heat of the process within creates some gorgeous colours.

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The gin distillation process takes approximately 7 hours, with the spring water, barley, grains and botanicals being added to the gleaming 500 litre pot.  The copper in the pot natrurally absorbs the acids, cyanides and carbonates that the botanicals add to the sprit.  From there, the spirit is distilled through the 4.3m high column of 8 bubble plates, a defleginator and a catalyser to produce the spirit which is then cut down to 44% ABV using the natural spring water from the farm.

Their first batch was brewed in November 2012 as a Harrington Dry Gin. From there, in 2013 they introduced their light and fragrant Elderflower Gin, made from locally picked elderflowers near both Tom & Sion’s family farms in Northamptonshire and Wales. Their limited edition of 2000 bottles sold out in next to no time and surprised them with it’s popularity! Next to be introduced into the Warner Edwards gin family came their Sloe Gin in December 2013, followed by their latest creation of Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin in September 2014. The rhubarb used to create this gin has firm roots and history traceable to the Buckingham Palace garden of Queen Victoria herself.

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imageThe intital aim from Tom and Sion was to produce a spirit that you were able to drink both neat as well as with a mixer, and they have certainly achieved this with their current range of 4 delicious gins. They had to perform their initial research (carried out in the local pub) twice, because by the end of the first night and the end of the glasses of lots of different gins, they realised they hadn’t taken any notes.  So off home to sober up and start the process anew WITH note taking this time!

In 2013, within 6 months of their launch, Warner Edwards won a Silver in the prestigious San Francisco World Spirit Awards, followed by a very impressive Double Gold Award in 2014.

Currently you can buy Warner Edwards award winning gin directly from them, or from Fortnum & Masons, Marks & Spencer as well as Waitrose and independant retailers.

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Thanks to the BBC Good Food Show organisers, River Street Events, for the invitation, and to Warner Edwards for their hospitality. Together, with the lovely Alex From Gingey Bites Blog, we raise our glasses to your continued sucess, and join you in becoming ‘United in Sprit’. Cheers!

 

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Food Review – Lake District Dairy Co. Quark sauces

Monday evening a couple of weeks ago saw me part company with my husband & daughter as they headed out for dinner and the cinema together as I attended the Underground Cookery School to preview the new Quark sauces that the Lake District Dairy Co. will be launching in August & September.  They’ll be produced in three varieties; Garlic & Herb, Tikka and Tomato & Basil.


 



The Lake District Dairy Co. brand was first launched in 2008. In April 2013 they introduced the first 100% British produced Quark to the supermarket shelves.  It’s a product that’s fairly common on the supermarket shelves of Europe, but not so much here, and since it’s launch has become one of the fastest growing products in the cheese category.

Quark is a naturally fat free, low carbohydrate, low calorie alternative to dairy ingredients such as crème fraiche, double cream, cream cheese or clotted cream. It’s also higher in protein than the dairy products it can substitute, and is therefore a great ingredient replacement for those looking to follow a healthier diet, without having to compromising on taste. Quark is currently available in 3 varieties; original, lemon and vanilla.  Add to this the new range of cook in sauces, and you now have the choice of 6 variations from which to choose.  It can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes, so the only limitation is your imagination!

First on our menu was a starter.  After making our own pasta, we filled it with Garlic & Herb Quark, folded it into ravioli and served it with a Tomato & Basil Quark sauce, sundried tomatoes, fresh herb leaves, Parmesan and drizzled with olive oil.



We then went on to learn how to remove the breasts and legs from a chicken which we transformed into Chicken Tikka Quark skewers served with Garlic & Herb Quark and roasted artichoke filled pancakes, as well as a potato, Garlic & Herb Quark salad, and a roquette and okra dressed salad.



For dessert we made two ice creams using original Quark; a lemon one and a vanilla one, but I ate my dessert before photographing it, sorry! 

These sauces are proving to be very versatile.  For the quick simple meal, you could simply open, heat and serve the sauce with fresh pasta or cooked chicken. If you have little more time, you can use these as the base ingredient and transform your meal into something more delicious indeed!



I was invited to the Underground Cookery School to take part in this event by the PR company of Quark. I was offered samples to being home to try, however I was unable to accept them as I had no refrigeration facilities in the hotel. I did, however, receive a goodie bag of utensils and menu cards with which to create the dishes we made on the night.  I was under no obligation to write a review of this evening or of the products we were introduced to.