30 Nov 2014

Raspberry and White Chocolate Brioche Pudding - Recipe

I love this pudding, it's easy to make, you don't need to spend loads of time in the kitchen and it's perfect for this time of the year when we are all beginning to feel festive. It's lightweight to eat compared to panettone pudding and I've substituted some of the cream for semi-skimmed milk to cut down on calories.I bought a pack of 8 brioche rolls from the shop that sells everything for a £1, they are really light and perfect for this pudding, I only used four of the rolls and popped the remaining four into the freezer for another day.

White buttons are best or white chocolate chips because the chocolate needs to melt quickly.When I came to make the pudding I found I had ran out of buttons and used chunks of chocolate.

I used frozen raspberries, which have a good amount of tang to them compared with fresh and for some Christmas spirit I marinated the frozen raspberries in brandy for a few minutes!

Serves: 4

You will need:  150ml semi-skimmed milk, 150ml whipping cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 4 brioche rolls sliced horizontally into two, 100g frozen raspberries, 1 tbsp brandy, 25g white chocolate buttons

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.  Butter a dish which is large enough to take four brioche rolls.
2. Whisk the eggs, milk, cream and vanilla extract together.
3. Tip the frozen raspberries into a small bowl and stir in the brandy.
4. Place the cut brioche into the dish and pour the egg mixture over. Sprinkle over the raspberries and chocolate.
5. Place the dish in a roasting pan. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until just set.
6. Dust with icing sugar.

20 Nov 2014

Potato Boulangère - Cooked in a Steam Combination Oven

I've made this Jamie Oliver recipe numerous times, it's quick, easy and a healthier option to the usual potato dauphinoise.  Potato Boulangère is simply thinly sliced potatoes, onions and stock layered up in a dish.  I like Delia's recipe too......

When I chose my new kitchen the purchase of a steam combination oven was an indulgence, especially as I had no idea if I was going to be happy with it but now I don't know how I managed without it. The advantage of cooking in this type of oven using the fan/steam mode is food doesn't dry out and also cooks quicker, I cooked this dish in just over 30 minutes at 200°C Fan/Steam.

Steam ovens have to be used with caution, when I first used mine I had one or two nasty burns and I learnt very quickly that my best friend was going to be a set of of double oven gloves that have an extra long cuff, a protective steam layer and don't let the heat through.  I'd recommend C'est Ca because they never let me down.

Adapted Recipe:
750g maincrop potatoes
1 onion, sliced
sage leaves
200ml vegetable stock
Parmesan cheese

Conventional Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes, add a layer over the base followed by a layer of onions, season. Build up the layers finishing with a layer of potatoes.
3. Pour the stock over the potatoes, season. Grate the Parmesan over the potatoes, top with a few fresh sage leaves. Top with a few pieces of butter. Cook for an hour until golden and the potatoes are cooked through.

The original recipe is on the Jamie Oliver website.

17 Nov 2014

Prezzo, Victoria Place, London: Christmas Menu - Review

Interior showing the open plan kitchen
We visited Prezzo in London's Victoria. It's modern and you can see the chefs at work, service was speedy and prompt.

Noticed anything recently? The TV adverts literally change overnight at this time of year to feature length Christmas campaigns! And no sooner have you seen the John Lewis ad - it's Christmas!

Well I embrace it at this time of year, and as such, I was excited to do a review of the Prezzo sparkly Christmas menu.

Eye catching Prezzo Christmas Menu
Prezzo is very reasonably priced and for under £25 you can get yourself a three course meal and a glass of Prosecco, which isn't too bad at all.

With so much choice it took us ages to choose our meals
The Christmas menu was surprisingly generous. We're not just talking about a couple of options here, and I was beginning to think that I was looking at the wrong menu there's so much choice!

Don't expect a festive turkey here but do expect some Italian classics with a Winter/Christmas twist. I spotted things like walnut pesto pasta, and pea and pancetta soup.

For our starters.........

Mozzarella in Carrozza
I opted for lightly fried mozzarella which was served with a pomodoro sauce, this was very warm and cheesy, whilst my dining companion chose a crispy pasta dish made up of three large pieces of ravioli topped with Parma ham and basil on a tomato sauce. It was enjoyable but looked as though it was drowning in tomato sauce.

Crispy Pasta
For mains......
After taking ages to decide, I went for the dish I thought sounded the most like Christmas - roast duck leg with a red wine jus. It was really tasty and went well with the sauce which had loads of juicy mushrooms and potatoes. My dining partner was less keen on her choice - a risotto with goats cheese, but she later admitted that she should have gone for a meaty option and was jealous of my duck leg.

Roasted Duck Leg
And dessert...
Some real winter offerings here. I had a beautifully served amaretto bread and butter pudding with vanilla ice cream. Well presented with lots of flavour and juicy sultanas - yum!

Amaretto Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding
The second dessert we shared was the chocolate orange slice with popping candy on top. It scored well with us for the dark chocolate and richness, but I couldn't taste the orange enough and the popping candy was a little sorry for itself as it never quite plucked up the courage to pop.

Chocolate Orange Truffle Slice
We chose our meals from the Christmas Premium Menu. All in all, you won't beat this for a good value treat.........

Disclaimer:  We were guests of Prezzo, all thoughts are our own.

14 Nov 2014

Plum Slice is Always Nice!

Amazing Plum Cake with Ice Cream
Last September I was sent an email inviting me to attend the Range Leisure Autumn Feast with Uyen Luu who is a blogger, cookery book writer and supperclub owner.  Sadly I was unable to attend and reluctantly/happily! passed the invitation onto @PaulFoodie who is the London Reporter for our blog.

I've been told on many an occasion that the food, wine, event, the company, including Jeanne of Cook Sister, made a truly memorable evening for all.

I love dessert and whenever I go out for a meal I mostly start by looking at the dessert menu first. I thought I'd replicate the Plum Cake with Ice Cream that Uyen Luu cooked on the evening of the event........
Deliciously tender and buttery
I'd recommend getting the best plums possible because the 'ripen at home' ones from the supermarket tend to go mouldy before they ripen and the fruit needs to be as tasty as possible.

12 Nov 2014

Panasonic Stainless Steel Breadmaker SD-ZB2502XBC - Review

After reading rave reviews I was converted to Panasonic breadmakers many years ago. The majority of bread posts on my blog have either been baked in my bread machine or I've used it to make dough. Until recently I've been using a Panasonic SD-251, it doesn't have a raisin/nut dispenser and I have to walk round the house with a timer clipped onto my belt which lets me know it's time to add the extras to the pan!  This stylish new model is on another level, it really is an all singing all dancing kitchen appliance and is amazingly easy to use.

Let's Get Baking
I made tea cakes........
Toasted tea cakes slathered in butter are a difficult act to follow
Fresh from the oven
The dough is made in the machine and because there is an automatic raisin/nut dispenser it's a joy not having to be on standby waiting for the raisin bleep like I did with my other one. It also has an automatic yeast dispenser which ensures the yeast is added at the correct time.

I place my bread pan directly onto the scales to weigh out the flour.....

Add the flour to the pan, followed by the salt, sugar, butter, milk and place into the machine.

Set Menu 17 Raisin Dough - the display allows you to follow the progress of the dough.

The finished dough......

I made my dough in the evening but didn't have time to shape, prove and cook. It's possible to freeze bread dough successfully, I wrapped it twice in clingwrap and popped it into the freezer.

Place the frozen dough overnight in the fridge to thaw
Cut the dough into 8, shape into the classic tea cake and prove
The machine is supplied with recipes, measuring spoon and cup, kneading blade for rye bread and a kneading blade for the majority of other recipes.

The recipes are fabulous and always work
The unique non-stick bread pan and kneading blade are coated with diamond particles to ensure easy removal.

Tried and Tested
The machine looks very sleek and stylish in the kitchen, user friendly, you can safely leave the machine to mix the dough because it is extremely stable. my dough was faultless, the cooked tea cakes were soft and had a tender crumb.

Bread, Cakes, Jams, Compotes and More

Dimensions H38.2 x W25.6 x D38.9cm
Loaf Size 0.8kg

Different modes:
Speciality Mode: The new Speciality Mode means you are able to use various grains and flours such as Spelt flour which cannot be made into a loaf easily on their own. The Rye Bread Program together with the special mixing blade can create a range of amazing loaves using Rye and Spelt flours.

Yeast and Raisin-Nut Dispensers: This is a feature unique to Panasonic, the Yeast Dispenser drops the yeast automatically at the optimum time during baking which means a perfect loaf of bread every time. The Raisin Nut Dispenser adds additional ingredients to the recipe ensuring you will have the best loaf possible.

Gluten free loaves: There are now a wide range of gluten free bread mixes and flours, this means it is now possible to have the convenience of freshly baked bread that is tailored specific to your taste and needs.

Loaf size and darkness options: Whether it’s a smaller loaf for yourself, or an XL family size loaf, making the perfect loaf couldn’t be simpler. You can choose whether you want light or dark for your loaf by simply selecting the desired browning level.

Jam and Compote mode: The bread maker is a great multi-tasker and not only does it bake, but by using the new Jam and Compote Mode you are spoilt for choice when creating your homemade jams at home. There are 8 jam and 6 compote recipes in the operating instructions to help you along the way. If you have never made jam before because you are overwhelmed by the quantity of jam and jam jars, you can now make a small amount in the bread machine.

The Panasonic breadmaker is available from online stores, in local John Lewis, Currys, Argos, and Lakeland retail stores, priced at £139.99

Disclaimer:  I have been sent the breadmaker for review purposes, I wasn't asked to write a positive review.

10 Nov 2014

Book Review - Egg by Michael Ruhlman

Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World's Most Versatile Ingredient by author Michael Ruhlman, described as a culinary wizard, he has written this book dedicated to the egg which came out in October 2014. The introduction explains 'all the things you can do with an egg, and how if you knew everything about cooking with eggs, you can become a better cook in a hundred different ways'.

The book shows us 'How to Make Perfect Poached Eggs', 'Making the Best Scrambled Eggs Ever' and 'Making The Perfect Omelette', along with detailed photographs - these are everyday egg dishes that most of us take for granted but often we don't quite cook them to perfection.  My take on the book is that it's cookery school on a one to one basis and I'm being guided gently through techniques and recipes.

For those of us who love to bake, there is a fascinating chapter 'Cake and the Egg' and 'The Keys to Fabulous Cake', along with some wonderful cake and icing recipes.

Chocolate Mocha Cake
There are seven parts to the book -
Part One: Egg/Whole/Cooked in Shell
Part Two: Egg/Whole/Cooked out of Shell
Part Three: Egg/Whole/Cooked out of Shell/Blended
Part Four: Egg/As Ingredient/The Dough-Batter Continuum
Part Five: Egg/Separated/The Yolk
Part Six:  Egg/Separated/The White
Part Seven: Egg/Separated but Used Together

At the end of the book there is a removable flow chart with techniques and recipes that all rely on the egg.

This is a brilliant reference cookbook for those of us who wish to improve our knowledge. Many of the recipes have accompanying photographs.  I really enjoy reading 'one subject' books and I'll definitely be page turning next time I'm about to reach for an egg.  This has to be one of the most useful books I have in my collection.

A guiding hand showing how to make perfect pasta
Everything from Eggs Benedict, Pasta, Crunchy French Meringue or how about Weekend Broken-Yolk Fried-Egg Sandwich........all of which are achievable by the home cook.

From the book I made Gently Fried Weekend Broken-Yolk Fried-Egg Sandwich which is basically sandwich bread slathered with mayonnaise, eggs with the yolks poked, a pan of sizzling butter, seasoned eggs cooked sunny side up and then sunny side down. Although not a 'looker' it tasted divine!

The author of the book is Michael Ruhlman who co-wrote Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook.
Photography: Donna Turner Ruhlman - his wife
Published by Jacqui Small Publishing www.jacquismallpub.com

Disclaimer: I was sent the book for this review.

8 Nov 2014

Review: Cooking the Christmas Turkey with Eddingtons Products

Turkey Oven Roasting Bags and Pop Up Timer
Eddingtons, suppliers of kitchenware and cookware, have sent me a selection of products to make life easier on Christmas Day..........

Cooking The Turkey
I don't know about you but I cook turkey once a year and it isn't always something I look forward to. Products that help to make cooking a turkey easier, and give confidence that the turkey will be thoroughly cooked without it being cooked to within an inch of it's life, gets my vote.

A huge 22lb turkey will fit into the oven bags - all you have to do is place a couple of tablespoons of flour into the oven bag and shake to coat (this prevents splashing), butter and season the turkey, place the turkey into the bag and put the whole thing into a baking tray then cut a few slits in the bag to allow some of the steam to escape. The turkey will self baste and brown, and the meat will be tender and succulent. The bags help to keep the oven clean too.

Is the Turkey Cooked? 
I think most of us dither and aren't sure if it's completely cooked, then the meat dries out from overcooking. Here's a useful gadget to help......

The centre button pops out when the meat is cooked
The pop up timer can be inserted into the turkey breast, avoiding any bones and allowing enough room for the timer so that it doesn't come into contact with any cooking surfaces in the oven. The timers are single use - I've used these before, they really do work and are a great affordable idea.

An alternative to the pop up timer is the oven proof meat thermometer which can be inserted into the turkey or your chosen meat, and then placed into the oven.

I've poured hot water into the basin
 to demonstrate how the thermometer works
Supplied with a small skewer - all you do is insert the skewer into the meat to a depth of 5cm and then insert the thermometer to the depth made by the skewer.

Another Great Idea....
Using a Flavour Injector can help to keep the turkey succulent........

Useful for marinades too
All you have to do is assemble, melt some butter, pull up the plunger to fill the tube, insert the injector into the turkey and push down on the plunger to release the melted butter.

Turkey Pop Up Timer from Captain Cooks - £2.99

Turkey / Meat Thermometer - £8.95
Flavour Injector - £8.95
Turkey Oven Roasting Bags - £3.95
All of the above products are available from www.kitchenmonger.co.uk

Disclaimer: I have been sent the above for the purpose of this review post, all thoughts are my own,