Tuesday 10 September 2013

Breakfast For Dinner - Review

Breakfast for Dinner is a phrase I came across a little while ago on an American TV show. I’m not a morning cook by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like breakfast food, so breakfast for dinner seems like the ideal solution.

Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth, published by Quirk in 2013. Thank you to the publishers for my review copy.  It’ll take you beyond bacon and eggs, to different places with the likes of Greek Baked Eggs or Shakshuka. It might give you a breakfast food in a different guise like cornflake crusted chicken tenders or granola cookies. If you were feeling very adventurous there is maple bacon chocolate cupcakes!

The book is well presented, nicely written, with hints and tips, illustrated throughout with real do-able photography of the dishes. Recipe chapters are: Main Dishes, Sides and Starters, Drinks and Deserts.
The dish I’ve made from this book is Bacon Fried Rice, a breakfast take on the perennial Chinese favourite. It’s made with brown rice, and I liked what the brown rice did for it. It went down well in my house.

Other dishes I have marked to try include: Savoury Lentil & Carrot Stuffed Crepes, fluffy, flaky and oh so cute Mini BLT Biscuits, Banana Bread Bundt Cake, Chocolate Brownie Waffles with Blackberry Sauce and Mint Chocolate Chip Pancakes.

It’s full of dishes you could eat for breakfast if you wanted to, but definitely for dinner. So if you need a bit of inspiration for your BFD suppers this one is for you!

Next Up: Save with Jamie

Saturday 31 August 2013

A Salad for All Seasons

Now, I really must firstly apologise to everyone who follows my blog. I’ve been AWOL for a good while now. This has been partly due to time and partly due to a health issue I’ve been working through more recently (nothing serious).

Now, I’m often asked for reviews of books, even if I’ve not cooked from them first by friends and readers who have sent emails. I’ve pondered this for a good while now, and have decided to do reviews without things I’ve cooked, as well as the normal format of cooking posts. So that should cover all basis, and keep everyone happy as much as possible. You can be sure that although I’ve not been blogging I’m still buying books!! =) So to the book in hand…
Harry Eastwood has had three solo cookbooks, each of them I have anticipated happily. This one possibly more than ever, as I love a good salad. So here we have, A Salad for all Seasons by Harry Eastwood published by Bantam Press 2013.
It is exactly what it says in the title. The main chapters are Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. As well as these though, at the beginning there is a short Dictionary of Leaves and another final chapter at the end – Glazes, Dressings, Pestos and Vinegars. This last chapter contains little gems such as Swiss Dressing, Blueberry Balsamic Glaze and Thyme & Tangerine Vinegar.
The book is really well done and all the recipes are clear and simple to follow. All have calorie counts and how many of your five-a-day you are having, a clock symbol goes with those super fast salads, and a golden halo is shown for the ones that are lowest in calories and highest in 5–a-day quantities. This is not a diet book, there are recipes suitable for eating when cutting back, but there are also lots of recipes that just taste absolutely fabulous too. =) The photography by Laura Edwards is really inspiring too, showing the salads in their fresh beauty.
I’ve tried a number of recipes so far, and am looking forward to the weather heating up just a bit to start properly on the Summer-y salads. The recipes are mainly for savoury salads, but there are occasional sweet ones too. Some of the many other salads I have bookmarked to try are: Lightly Pickled Beetroot, Cucumber and Feta with raspberry Dressing * Spring Store-cupboard Salad of Wild Rice and Garden Peas, * Persian Salad of Tomato, Pomegranate and Cucumber, *Squash Salad with Pomegranate and Prosciutto * Strawberry Salad with White Chocolate Mousse.
The thing I like about all the recipes I have tried is that they have the feel good factor, they fill you up, but don’t weigh you down. Oh and the fact that they have all been delicious so far!

Roast Chicken Caesar Salad
A good main course salad, filling and yummy.

Whopping Potato Salad
This one is really nicely balanced, I love a good potato salad, but so often they can let you down. Not this one though I’m happy to say, potatoes, mustard, celery, spring onions, eggs, gherkins, dill…

Camembert Salad with Cherry Dressing
Now if you have the book already you’ll see I’ve done this one differently from the book, and merely cut the Camembert into pieces instead of coating in breadcrumbs and frying them. This is because I’m allergic to yeast, which is a pity because I did used to love crispy crumbed cheese. Still the cherry dressing is gorgeous with the cheese and nuts. I quite fancy some now, even just thinking about it!

Minnesota Salad
Nothing to do with Minnesota the place, but this is the nickname Harry uses for her boyfriend. Leaves with red pepper - fresh and roasted, mozzarella, and Prosciutto (which I crisped in the oven) and a light balsamic vinegar dressing. Yum.

Waldorf Salad
I was so chuffed with this one, this is a halo recipe. My little one will happily eat seconds of this one, which is no mean feat for a child who didn’t like lettuce! She has a tenacious Mama though, and I didn’t give up on getting her to like it easily. Romaine is her lettuce of choice, which is why I use it a lot. Give me time though and I’ll try and pop in some different leaves too!

Next Up: Breakfast For Dinner.

Thursday 30 May 2013

Warm Apple Turnovers

I’ve been cutting back my sugar intake recently, but last night I needed a pudding, something warm (it’s still quite cool here!) and comforting. So I made these for dessert last night, and had to share them! If you’ve only ever tried bought ones, you are in for a real treat! A bought turnover always seems to disappoint, too much pastry and never nearly enough filling. That’s not just me is it? These have flaky puff pastry, a juicy apple filling, really enhanced with the cinnamon and ginger. I served Lorraine’s custard with them (from the same book) and they were a real hit, even the little miss was keen, and asked for them to be made again – and soon Mummy!

A fabulous low effort high delivery pudding. There are my take on the little warm Bramley apple pies from Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food (Harper Collins 2012). See here for her recipe and a little clip from the TV series of her making them. It is worth noting that the apple filling remains extremely hot, so do be careful!!

Warm Apple Turnovers

400g Apple Sauce, from a jar (I used Baxters)

Zest of half a lemon (optional)

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Caster sugar, to taste

1 x 320g sheet of ready rolled puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

Icing sugar for dusting

Custard, cream or ice cream to serve

(1) Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

(2) Mix the apple sauce with the ginger and cinnamon, and a few teaspoons of sugar, to taste.

(3) Unroll the pastry and cut into 4 rectangles, brush round the edge of each with beaten egg (keep the rest of the egg!). Fill with the apple filling, then carefully seal the edges. Place on the baking sheet and then cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for a couple of hours, longer would be fine too.

(4) When ready to cook preheat your oven to 200oC, (180oC fan) 400oF, Gas Mark 6. Remove the cling film and brush the top of the pies with some of the remaining egg. Then bake the pies for 25 minutes. Leave to cool a little, as the apple filling is scalding hot!

Tuesday 30 April 2013

Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook

This is a book I bought a couple of years ago, Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein my edition was published by Mitchell Beazley 2011.
I had a look through it and ooh-ed and ahh-ed, but that was as far as I got for a while. Then a little while ago I picked it up again, and started cooking from it, and one recipe has followed another, and now I’ve cooked lots!
I like the ethos of this book and the food within it, good ingredients cooked simply, but well. Slow down a little and see some of the good bits of everyday life. There is a second companion volume to this one (Simple Pleasures 2012) but I’ll come back to it another day. Today though it is time for The Free Range Cook!
Annabel is a New Zealander, and the series which accompanies this book is set in the New Zealand countryside. It’s a country that I consider myself very lucky to have visited, and it’s left a definite print on my heart and soul. I can indulge that soft spot cooking from this book and watching the series. It makes me feel happy. I’m all for a spot of kitchen table travelling!
The book is illustrated with gentle and pretty pictures of totally do-able food and some beautiful scenery too. Pretty much all of the recipes are pictured. Chapters are: *From the Oven* From the Garden* From the Farm* From the Lake and Sea* From the Larder* and * From the Orchard*.
Now of course when I say one recipe has followed another that’s been because they are good! Here are the recipes I’ve tried so far. If you haven’t got this book I’d recommend it and if you have, well get cooking!! =)

Corn and Avocado Salad
Very simple blend of ingredients, but really good.

Sticky Date pudding with Wicked Toffee Sauce
A take on sticky toffee pudding, the sponge is flavoured with a touch of ginger and the pears on top, mmm mmm.

Honey Vanilla Panna Cotta with Sunshine Fruit Topping
I made this for a dark January Saturday night, with tinned peaches and fresh passion fruit. It was so right and injected us with a lovely burst of sunshine, even though it was cold and dark outside.
Spicy Chicken Skewers, Creamy Moroccan Cucumber Salad and Chermoula Dipping Sauce
This one starts with a Chermoula Marinade (garlic, ginger, cayenne, cumin, preserved lemon and fresh coriander). This is then split and used to marinade the chicken then also mixed with sour cream to make a dipping sauce. Some of the dipping sauce is then used to dress the cucumber and tomato Salad. Really different, we liked it.

Casbah Prawns
A couple of nights later I used the remaining dipping sauce from the chicken (which I’d set aside previously) was turned into a creamy prawn sauce to go over some rice.

Coconut Pavlova
A Pavlova flavoured with coconut and topped with a tropical fruit salad of pineapple, kiwi fruit and passion fruit. I made it as one big pav, instead of individual ones.

Chocolate Cherry Tiramisu
Chocolate cake, fresh cherries, berry syrup (with or without booze), creamy marscarpone and Cream. Need I say any more? Going to try this one with raspberries too in the Summer when local berries are in season.

Greek Yoghurt and Berry Syrup
The same syrup from the tiramisu, simple and delicious with fresh berries and Greek yoghurt.

Bella’s Pink Fizz
A third use for the berry syrup is in a lovely Pink fizz, Berries, berry syrup, cassis and a bottle of something alcoholic and fizzy. This is meant as a pre-dinner drink, and if it was your party is bound to go with a swing.

Lamb, Rosemary and Apple Sausage Rolls
My goodness these were good! Yum yum!!

Cypriot Shepherd’s Pie
Flavoured with ginger, cumin and cinnamon this Lamb pie is a bit different, and it’s topped with a fabulous parsnip and carrot mash.

Honey Lemon Cream Puddings
I made these for Valentines Day dessert. We loved this…and I got to use my pretty little cups that I found in an old shop recently. They begged me to take them home, so I paid up and they now live with me!

Sweet Chilli Jam
Home-made and with a lot of flavour notes that shop bought doesn’t have. Not that I have anything against shop bought, I now have both in my fridge.

Sweet Chilli Chicken
A great end for some of the home-made chilli sauce, but great too with shop bought sauce.

Beetroot and Feta Salad
Unusual, but yummy.

Braised Red Cabbage
My little one is not that unusual in that she won’t eat cabbage. Except… made like this! Well she might though, it a delicious way with cabbage, a little sweet, buttery and some currants too.

Steak and Double Mushroom Sauce, Potato Gratin with Gruyere and Garlic & Green Beans with Lemon
My Mum requested this for Mother’s Day, and the three recipes together made a fabulous treat of a main course. Each offsetting the other perfectly. Worth the effort.
So as you can see I have made a lot, and I’m not finished yet either there is an amazing looking cake called a strawberry cloud cake….soon when the berries are ripe.

Next Up: A Salad for All Seasons by Harry Eastwood

Monday 1 April 2013

Greedy Girl's Diet

I didn’t even know this one was coming out, but a friend gave me a pointer in the right direction – “Have you got it? It’s really good!” and so it arrived very soon afterwards, because let’s face it I’m a sucker for a cookbook, and if you are reading this blog chances are you are too! Anyhow it's The Greedy Girl’s Diet  Eat Yourself Slim with Gorgeous, Guilt Free Food by Nadia Sawalha published by Kyle Books 2012.

This is a cookbook aimed at girls aiming to lose a bit of weight, and as diet titles go it’s quite inspiring, doesn’t sound like we might have to live on five lettuce leaves and a couple of peas plus a lot of hunger in order to get a bit slimmer! I’m not encouraging myself to be greedy, but I do prefer to think I can feel like I’ve had enough to eat while slimming.

The recipes are all do-able and there is even a chapter with puddings! The pictures are fresh and bright and the text by Nadia is often amusing. Chapters are: *My Secret* Exercise* Come on, Break the Fast* Let’s do Lunch * Delicious Dinner * and Decadent Desserts. There are also different sections within some of the chapters. For example the Delicious Dinner chapter has three sub headings: Yummy Mummy, Dinner Party Goddess and Dinner for Two. All the recipes are calorie counted for you per serving and there are also grams of fat, saturates, sugar and salt per serving too.

Now the question to be asked is are the recipes any good? Answer is yes, the ones I have tried have all been good, and I’d make them all again. Especially the risotto, yum yum!! There are a number of puddings too, but I haven’t managed to get round to them yet.

Prawn and Chorizo Rice Pot
This was my first make from the book. A Good supper with some greenery of some sort.

Creamy Chicken Curry in a Hurry
This was really good too. There was a lot of sauce, and hubby said “If this was soup I’d be delighted.” “It’s soup!” I said, genius, no? =)

June Wake’s Wide Awake Seed Bar
This is a really clever recipe that holds together with mashed bananas, and you taste the bananas, but also all the other delightful add ins. Mmmm.

Chilli Con Carne
A good chilli, the avocado topping was a great addition.

Winey Chicken
This one was lovely, the sauce was light but flavourful.

Italian Soup
This was a good filling soup. It takes a little while to cook to develop the flavours.

Risotto with Seared Scallops
A fabulous treaty supper this one, scallops, bacon and risotto too! I forgot to stir through some spinach at the end, and added a drizzle of balsamic glaze, though that’s because I love it on risotto.

Next Up: A book I've been obsessing about for a couple of months - Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook

Friday 29 March 2013

Happy Easter and Hotel Chocolat Beastie Eggs

Hello, long time no speak! I’ve had a lot going on at home these past few weeks, hence the lack of posts. I’ve still been cooking though, so have tons of books to share with you!

The Easter weekend has come around so quickly this year, the last 4 weeks have just been a blur. So as a prelude to my review for Greedy Girls next week (I hope!), here is a little something of the chocolate variety for Easter.

The lovely people at Hotel Chocolat offered me an egg to review, which I said yes to – thank you! Got a bit more than I expected as I was sent two! I've shopped with Hotel Chocolat for years now, it's a pleasure to be asked to do a review for them. =) So here they are, just the thing for the chocoholic in your life - a Beastie Egg! The two here are the cow (on the left) and the zebra (on the right). I think they are really very cute, the lovely milk chocolate eggs being cleverly patterned to look like cows and zebras and each comes with 6 egg shaped chocolates, 3 salted caramel and 3 hazelnut praline. Yum!!

Happy Easter everyone, hope it’s happy, peaceful and full of chocolate eggs! xx

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Pig Cooking with a Passion For Pork

I first came to hear about this book because I follow Duncan Baird Publishing on Twitter. They had a giveaway of a handful of copies, but alas I was not one of them. Still, being the inquisitive (obsessed!) cookbook collector that I am, I had a look online and loved the sound of the book, and pre-ordered it myself. Pig Cooking with a Passion For Pork by Johnnie Mountain 2012 Duncan Baird Publishing.

Johnnie Mountain is the chef from The English Pig in the City of London, and he has, unsurprisingly, a real love and passion for pork. Pork is one of my hubby’s favourites so I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to cook it. I’ve tried a new recipe most weeks since I started cooking from this book, and some have been cooked again as well. Johnnie bridges the gap between chef and home cook seamlessly and brilliantly. This is a fabulous book.

It is illustrated with gorgeous pictures and there are loads of ‘Show-me-how’ video links for your smart phone or tablet if you have either of these. I don’t and still love this book, but I can see that it would be a definite bonus to be able to be shown techniques for example to see how to stuff and tie a loin of pork or how to make fresh chorizo sausages. There is also a website address to be able to look the videos up online as well.

So what’s in the book? Well chapters are:* Introduction * Home Favourites * Cured, Dried, Preserved & Smoked * Spicy & Aromatic * Slow-Cooked * and *Accompaniments*.
I have made a number of recipes from it and have many more marked to try, how about Pork Medallions with Brandy soaked Prunes, Pancetta and Pea Risotto, Mexican Chilli, Filipino Sweet and Sour Pork (ribs), Eight-Hour Roast Shoulder of Pork, Lemongrass and Ginger Stir Fry Pork, Pork Dim Sum, Spicy Pork Meatloaf, Sausages in Spiced Apple Relish or Indonesian Curried Pork with Coconut Rice? I would like to try them all and many more besides.

Here are the dishes I’ve cooked for supper so far.

Pork Meatballs
These were lovely. Well flavoured, and not too heavy. I served them here with mash, but pasta is the obvious pairing. Super easy and you don’t have to brown the meatballs, and they cook in the oven with the sauce, so no last minute faffing. I used a bottle of bought passata.

Pork Stroganoff
One for when you want a creamy not too palate challenging dish.

Paella with Chorizo & Prawns
A good version of this classic dish. I used shelled prawns as that is what we prefer.

Toad in the Hole with Onion Gravy
Now you are probably thinking I’ve burned the sausages! They were not as dark in real life, neither was the gravy, but I couldn’t get a decent shot, and I don’t prink with my pictures to make them look false or different. I had to include this here though because this is a fabulous version of toad in the hole and the gravy was really amazing, such depth of flavour! In case you have not had ‘toad’ before the toad in question is in fact sausages in a Yorkshire pudding batter!

Pancetta Mac & Cheese
Pasta and cheese is always a good combo, and the crisped pancetta cubes just makes it better. It’s not in fact macaroni here, but I picked up the bag thinking it was, and wasn’t going to waste it! It is quite saucy when it goes into the oven, but has just the right amount of sauce when it is ready to serve.

Pork and Mushroom Stir Fry
A bit of effort needed for this one, but a great saucy stir fry is what you’ll end up with for your supper.

If you like to cook or eat pork, this is a must have for your collection. I was really impressed with the book, its layout, pictures, easy to follow recipes but above all the great food. I’ll be cooking something from it weekly for the foreseeable future too.

Next Up: Greedy Girl's Cookbook