Home grown chillies to homemade chilli powder

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We’ve grown and harvested chillies this year in our garden, for the first time, and had a decent little crop. Not wanting them to go to waste, and not wishing to freeze them, I’ve dried them out slowly in the airing cupboard before blitzing them up into a powder.  The result is much hotter and far more tasty than the commercially available stuff, I can tell you!

After picking them on a warm, dry day.  I threaded a needle with some fishing line and sewed the chillies together through the stalks, along the line, rotating each one so that they’d keep their distance to allow the air to circulate as they dry.

They then went into the airing cupboard to hang from the bottom shelf for a couple of weeks to dry out slowly and completely. When they were paper dry, it was time to make them into a powder.

Cutting just the green tops off the chilies, but retaining the seeds inside to keep the heat, I put them into the spice grinder attachment for my Kenwood Major Titanium stand mixer.

I then ground them down in to a very fine powder.

Upturning the spice jar, I gave it a gentle tap on the work surface to make sure all that wonderful powder had dropped down from the blades, and allowed the powder to settle for a couple of minutes before removing the blade attachment.

The resulting smell is incredible! So much more rounded and intense than shop bought chilli powder as it’s so much fresher.  It also packs a mighty punch; a little of this is going to go a long way!

I can’t wait until next year to grow more than one plant and repeat this process. The plant we bought was from Suttons Seeds and was one of their grafted plants which promise up to 75% more vegetables for a better crop.  I’ll certainly be buying this one again!

Giveaway – Del Monte

Fancy winning yourself a hamper of products from Del Monte?  I posted a recipe for a Baked Pear & Amaretto Cheesecake on Friday which you can make yourself at home, using a few additional ingredients to create a delicious dessert.

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To be in with a chance to win the hamper, simply share with me your favourite childhood memories of Sunday teatime treats.  What did your mum serve you that, if you recall it today, brings back those precious memories?

Our Sunday teatime used to consist of sandwiches (I loved tinned pink salmon, mixed with plenty of malt vinegar and topped with sliced cucumber on white bread which had been spread with proper butter) along with a cup of tea, poured from the teapot through the tea strainer in to a cup and saucer, and for pudding I really used to look forward to tinned fruit cocktail with evaporated milk. It somehow seemed very grown up when I was a child; my siblings and I used to argue over who had a coveted cherry in their bowl.

Canned fruit can be just as healthy as fresh fruit as it’s picked when fully ripe and processed immediately, preserving high levels of vitamins and minerals.  Not only that, but it has a long shelf life, thereby reducing food waste from spoilage.  It makes preparing and cooking simple and quick too.

To enter, email your childhood memories, along with your name and address to: DelMonteGiveaway@freycob.co.uk by midnight on Sunday 4th December.  A winner will be chosen at random from all entries received.  The prize will be sent directly from Del Monte to the winner’s home address.  UK entrants only.

Good luck!

Baked Pear & Amaretto Cheesecake with Del Monte

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If you’re of my generation (40 something and rapidly heading towards 50) you’ll probably remember the Sunday tea time treat of tinned fruit and evaporated milk that you used to have.  It’s not something you tend to see too often now though.  However tinned fruit is not just tasty and convenient, but it’s a good source of vitamins and minerals.  A product no longer confined to just grabbing the tin opener, opening the tin and pouring the contents into a bowl before smothering it with evaporated milk or ice cream; or simply just placing a ring of pineapple on to your gammon steak; you can use it in many different recipes, to prepare delicious food without the faff and fuss of having to peel, slice and prepare it yourself.

Del Monte canned fruit

I’ve adapted a baked cheesecake recipe that I use and have incorporated a tin of Del Monte pears which pair perfectly with almonds and Amaretto for an added depth of flavour.

Del Monte canned fruit

Base:

  • 50g Unsalted butter
  • 8 Digestive biscuits, crushed

Cheesecake:

  • 400g Philadelphia Cheese
  • 250g Mascarpone Cheese
  • 410g Del Monte tinned pears, drained
  • 3 Eggs
  • 60ml Amaretto
  • 15g Ground almonds
  • 75g Caster sugar
  1. Heat the oven to 190ºC (170º Fan).
  2. Line a 20cm / 8” spring form tin with baking parchment.
  3. Melt the butter, add this to the crushed biscuits and mix together thoroughly.

Del Monte canned fruit

  1. Pour this biscuit mixture into the base of your prepared tin and press down evenly.

Del Monte canned fruit

  1. Place in the fridge to cool whilst you prepare your cheesecake filling.
  2. In a food processor, add 150g of the drained pears, the Philadelphia and mascarpone cheeses, the eggs, Amaretto, almonds and the sugar.  I find that using my Kenwood food processor makes this an incredibly easy and quick process
  3. Blitz these together until smooth.

Del Monte canned fruit

  1. Drain the remaining pears from the juice and cut into approx. 5mm pieces.
  2. Stir the pear pieces into the cheesecake mixture to evenly distribute.
  3. Pour this mixture over the biscuit base in the tin.

Del Monte canned fruit

  1. Bake in the oven for approx. 40 mins until the top has started to colour and there is still a very slight ‘wobble’ in the middle of the cheesecake.

Del Monte canned fruit

  1. Turn off the oven, but leave the cheesecake in there, with the door slightly open until it’s cooled completely. (Leaving the cheesecake to cool slowly in the oven allows it set fully and prevents it from cracking).
  2. Remove the cheesecake from the tin and serve, cut in to small slices.

Del Monte canned fruit

I was sent a selection of canned fruits from Del Monte along with a gift voucher to purchase additional ingredients with to develop this recipe. 

BBC Good Food Show Winter 2016

Once again, in what seems to be the blink of an eye, Christmas is almost upon us and an amazing time is to be had at the BBC Good Food Show Winter 2016, being held at the NEC between 24th and 27th November 2016.

From Celebrity Chefs, demonstrating their talents in the Supertheater this year sponsored by Aldi UK and other demonstration stages around the show, to artisan food and drink producers, as well as kitchen appliance and gadget & gizmo manufacturers; there’s always so much to see (just make sure you wear your comfy shoes!). Once again there are plenty of Good Food Show Champions who have won the coveted chance to exhibit they winning products, which were judged, against tough competition, to win their place at the show.

There’s plenty to get involved with at the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham this year. Learn new skills and get closer to the action in a Discover and Learn with Lexus session including a Yo! Sushi Masterclass and Knife Skills with Zwilling. YO! Sushi will walk you through the steps to become a sushi expert in this specially tailored masterclass where you will create three types of sushi to take away and enjoy. Or learn a range of knife skills from the Zwilling professionals – discover different sharpening techniques, which type of knife should be used for the right job, and how to master the pinch grip.

It’s a place where you can pick up plenty of hints and tips of the trade.  Grab something incredibly tasty to eat and drink whilst catching up with friends and stocking up on Christmas presents galore (not to mention the odd treat for yourself, of course!)

Once again this year, I’ll be there on Thursday 24th November as one of the BBC Good Food Show official Bloggers from where I’ll be Tweeting throughout the day, letting you know what’s in my shopping basket, what I’ve enjoyed and who I’ve caught up with amongst my favourite exhibitors and chefs.

To get you in the festive mood, join the Renshaw Academy Experts in a Christmas At: Renshaw Academy workshop. Learn how to create a festive cake topper, or discover confidence-boosting cake decorating hints and tips, plus take your own Christmas cake home. Plus, don’t miss tutored beer tastings as the Great British Beer Experience, sponsored by CAMRA and BeerHawk, returns to the Show. Explore new tastes, learn about the art of brewing and gain an insight into the diversity of real ale with industry experts Beer Hawk, Sally Lavender and Des de Moor.

Tickets are available from the BBC Good Food Show website online and also to purchase on the day. Why not treat yourself and be a VIP for the day by booking yourself a special ticket, which includes lots of other treats such as VIP parking, entrance to the VIP lounge with talks and demonstrations, a glass of fizz, tea, coffee & pastries, exclusive use of the VIP restrooms, and a fab goodie bag including a recipe book to take home.