27 Jan 2015

Breakfast Week 25th - 31st January 2015

Breakfast Week in January is an annual event to remind us how important our first meal of the day is for us.

I know the above isn't a healthy meal, but in my defence I only eat a cooked breakfast a few times a year. I cooked the bacon, sausages and bread in the oven. The egg and pancakes were cooked in a minimum of oil in a non-stick pan.

The potato & spring onion breakfast pancakes came from the BBC GoodFood 2015 Recipe Calendar. To be honest, I didn't enjoy the pancakes because the potato made them too much for me - I'm simply not up to eating heartily first thing in the morning.

Makes: 6 pancakes
140g potatoes cooked and mashed
50g self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
5 tbsp milk
1 spring onion chopped
sunflower oil

1. Cook the potatoes until tender. Mash and cool.  Put to one side to cool.
2. Place the mashed potato in a bowl, add the flour and bicarbonate of soda.  Whisk the milk and egg together.  Add to the bowl and whisk until all the mixture is smooth.  Stir in the spring onions.
3. Add the oil and butter to a non-stick frying pan and heat until the butter has melted.  Spoon in 3 tablespoons of batter.  Cook on one side until brown, flip over and cook the other side.  Place in a warm oven.  Make three more pancakes.
4. Serve with egg, sausages, bacon, brown sauce.............

22 Jan 2015

It's January 2015 - Let's Get Blending

Ingredients ready for whizzing
@paulfoodie has let me use his Nutribullet and with limited time restraints I got whizzing and whirring.

I'm not used to putting green veg into my drinks as suggested in the recipe book, but I had some spinach leaves in the fridge and this went in the base of the cup, topped with chopped fresh pineapple, frozen redcurrants and strawberries.  Adding seeds to the cup is recommended but we were impatient and just wanted to whizz a few items from the fridge and freezer.

The finished drink
It wasn't a looker but tasted really good, the seeds from the frozen berries didn't break down and I found this spoiled the drink.

Cleaning is a breeze and drinking a cup of nectar can only be a winner. I haven't tried the milling attachment and so I am unable to comment on this.

Blender Method
I got my trusted blender out from the back of the cupboard and more or less replicated the above drink.........

Ingredients for the healthy drink
I've got a chop function on my blender and used this to get everything going, I then pressed the puree function to whizz everything together until all was blended and frothy.

Sadly I used too much spinach and the drink was a bit 'yuk'.

The finished drink 
When you make smoothies with green vegetables they can separate as in the photograph. A quick stir and it was soon amalgamated.  The texture of the drink, in my opinion, was more palatable and I didn't have the berry seeds issue.

If you already own a blender, have a miller to grind seeds, don't have the budget to buy yet another kitchen gadget, then I'd dust off your blender and #loveyourblender.

A Couple More Blender Smoothies 
These are delicious - no quantities required, just throw everything into the blender, add some water and whizz.

Spinach, Kiwi Fruit, Pear, Frozen Mixed Berries
Clementine, pineapple, apple
Use fruit which has been chilled in the fridge to give a lovely refreshing cold drink.
Peel over-ripe bananas, slice and place into freezer bags, blend from frozen.
Grapefruit can interact negatively with some medications.
For those who can't tolerate fibre a juicer would be the better option.
Just two components to wash and clean after using.
Make and go.......
Easy to make part of your daily routine.
Five components to wash and clean.
The finished drink has to be poured into a glass.
I preferred the texture of the drink from my mid-price range blender.

Disclaimer: The above is an overview, both of these products are private purchases.

13 Jan 2015

L'atelier des Chefs London, Sweet Pastry Class - Review

L'atelier des Chefs St. Paul's
I'm really pleased to start 2015 with an event that was both extremely enjoyable and informative.
I was delighted to be given the opportunity to attend a Sweet Pastry Class in the St. Paul's area of London last week.  I'm still eating sweet treats from Christmas and attending a sugar laden class wasn't even a consideration when I booked my place. Everything for the class is provided all you have to do is turn up.

The friendly professional chef who taught the class.......

Throughout the two hour class our chef explained techniques, tips and equipment. It didn't matter how many questions were asked they were all answered in a patient and friendly way.

I was given a welcome coffee, and we then got to work making vanilla sable pastry for the lemon tart.  I soon realised that my trusted wooden rolling pin I've had for many a year requires an upgrade to a seriously heavy one, a few rolls with the rolling pin used in class and the pastry was rolled out to perfection.

The uncooked pastry shell - after being shown the correct technique to form perfect edges
Chef taught me how to neatly line a tart tin with a double layer of cling wrap and ceramic beans
The cooked pastry case waiting patiently for the lemon filling
The table was prepared for the lemon curd filling 
Lemon curd filling looking amazing
The finished luscious Lemon Tart
We moved on to making profiteroles - I haven't made these at home for many a year, mainly because I've never been happy with the finished result. I quickly learnt about the mistakes I've been making and the correct way to achieve the perfect profiterole.

I was also taught how to correctly hold the piping bag for filling, removing air and piping techniques.

I was really pleased with my golden profiteroles
Salted butter caramel cream 
Beautiful golden caramel
Profiteroles filled with salted butter caramel cream and coated in crunchy caramel 
Next up my profiteroles were filled with a vanilla cream and dipped into a vat of shiny chocolate ganache. All class recipes are emailed to everyone who attends and so no excuses for not trying these again at home! At the end of the very enjoyable lesson all of the goodies I made were boxed up for me to take away........with the help of my willing family we ate as much as we could, it wasn't difficult.........

All boxed up and ready to take home

The two hour Sweet Pastry Class costs £72 and is held at L'atelier des Chefs London, there is a full list of classes on their website.

Disclaimer:  I was invited to attend the class, thank you to all the staff.