Friday, 24 October 2014

Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree - Fish, Feed our Future

I do love smoked mackerel.  It's such versatile fish, you can eat it cold with salad, whizz it up with creme fraiche to make a Mackerel Pate  or serve on toast in a Mackerel Sun Dried Tomato and Cheese Toast or add it to all sorts of different dishes.

I also have a soft spot for kedgeree, my mum used to make it with leftover rice and cooked smoked haddock. The whole lot was re-fried in butter and was so luscious and fun with the added sweetness of peas and topped with hard boiled eggs.

My recipe does include a little curry flavouring it takes about 20 minutes to make and was a perfect Friday night supper.

Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree
Serves 2-3

1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 cup/195g basmati rice
2 tsp of korma paste
2 cups of stock or water
2 small smoked mackerel approx 200g (I used peppered mackerel as we love pepper)
50g frozen peas
small bunch of parsley
2 hard boiled eggs
salt to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the garlic and onion and cook until soft.
2. Add the rice and stir around till covered in oil, add the korma paste and cook for a minute.
3. Add the stock or water and simmer until the rice is soft and all the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes, add the peas.
4. Flake the smoked mackerel and add to the cooked rice, season to taste.
5. Finish by adding the chopped parsley and quartered hard boiled eggs.

I'm entering this for Credit Crunch Munch, the thrifty blog challenge run by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla at Fab Food 4 All, this month the challenge is being hosted at A New Addition.   I feel that this dish qualifies because smoked mackerel is really good value as well as being really good for you,  read about the health benefits of oily fish at Fish is the Dish.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Chocolate Popcorn, Spooky Cakes, Pumpkin Soup and Pie-tatoes for Halloween

Food is such an integral part of every festival and Halloween is no exception.  My memories of Halloween feature the Brownie Guide Fancy Dress Party for which we all had to carve a 'Turnip' lantern.  There were no pumpkins in 1960s Scotland, so we used turnips/swedes, it was really hard work carving them and many a spoon was bent in the process.

At the party there would be large dishes of  buttery mashed potato and others of peppery, mashed 'neeps' the inside of those turnip lanterns cooked and mashed!  We also had 'Treacle Scones', girdle scones dangling on strings that you had to try to take a bite from as someone swung the string so you got covered in sticky treacle.  That was soon washed off with the 'Dookin' for Apples', the only way to be sure of getting your apple was to stick your head right down to the bottom of the bowl and bite hard into the apple, you got soaked but it worked.  I always hated it when, at some parties, they made you drop forks into the bowl, it was not nearly as effective.

There were none of the fancy themed sweets and cakes to be bought in the shops, but I think it is much more fun to make your Halloween treats at home.

Chocolate Popcorn Triangles are a really fun and simple treat to make with your kids, you don't really need a recipe, just melt some chocolate in a bowl over a pan of just simmering water and add ready made popcorn until it is all covered in chocolate, then press it into a brownie pan lined with non stick paper and place in the fridge until set.  I decorated mine with some lines of white chocolate.  I have a neat little trick for melting chocolate for piping (see below).

I'm entering the Chocolate Popcorn Triangles for Family Foodies the blogger challenge run by Eat your Veg and Bangers and Mash, as they are really easy to make with little ones.  

All you do it put your chocolate, I used Hadleigh Maid white chocolate buttons, into a disposable piping bag, pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or until the chocolate has melted, then snip off the end of the bag and pipe lines over the chocolate popcorn in lines.  Leave to set in the fridge again, then once set, cut into squares or triangles.

For some rather more spooky cakes, a Halloween themed silicon cake mould is ideal for a bit of impact, especially if you top them with chocolate set in the same moulds.

I coloured white chocolate with orange food colouring to make the pumkin colour and it wasn't too difficult to make the two coloured witchy pumpkin with milk chocolate for the hat.

Spooky Halloween Cakes

175g  Flora Buttery
175g  golden caster sugar
300g  self raising flour, sieved
3 medium eggs
5 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
100g cooked pumpkin or butternut squash, mashed
zest of an orange

150g white chocolate
100g milk chocolate
orange food gel

Spooky silicon cake mould  and 6 muffin cases in a muffin tray (if no cake mould then 12 muffin cases)

1. Place the muffin cases into a muffin tray.
2. Place the first five ingredients in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth.
3. Stir in pumpkin mash and orange zest and divide between the paper cases.
4. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes at 200C, 180C (fan), Gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes.

Leave the cakes to cook and then unmould.  The shapes don't come out too well with the soft sponge cake but they are the perfect shape to top with the chocolate shapes.

Making the chocolate shapes is easy, simply melt the white chocolate and pour it in a thin layer in the base of the moulds for the ghost and the skull.  Add the orange colouring to the remaining white chocolate, pour this into into the pumpkin moulds, being careful to avoid the witches hat, leave to set in the fridge.  Once set, melt the milk chocolate and pour in a thin layer in the bat mould and then carefully into the witches hat, using a small spoon to make sure the chocolate gets into all the corners.  Once set, unmould and then remelt any remaining chocolate and use to stick the toppers to the cakes.  
Decorate the remaining muffins with a little chocolate on top and some spooky sprinkles. 

Eat and enjoy! 

It's not just sweet treats that are needed at Halloween.  You need something warm to eat before going out trick or treating.  Knorr have some great recipes which will hit the spot, how about a bowl of warming Pumpkin and Butterbean Broth from a recipe created by Marco Pierre White?  Or the perfect individual 'Sheperd's Pie-tatoes' a variation on Marco's Shepherd's Pie.

Shepherd's Pie-tatoes (or Shepherd's Potato Pies)
makes 8 Pie-tatoes

4 large baking potatoes

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
500g minced lamb
10g plain flour
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp tomato puree
1 Knorr Beef Stock Pot
500ml water
1 sprig of thyme
1/4 of a pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, diced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced
Butter, milk and 1 egg yolk, (optional) for the mash

The Potatoes
Bake the potatoes until tender (I did mine in the microwave first, then finished them off in the oven to get a crispy skin) Cut the potatoes in half while still warm, scoop out the baked potato and mash with the butter, milk and egg yolk

Make the filling
1. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish. Add in the onion and garlic and fry, stirring, for 2–3 minutes until lightly coloured.
2. Add in the minced lamb and mix it into the onion mixture. Cook the lamb, stirring to break it up, for a good 10–15 minutes to cook off the moisture inside the lamb. This intensifies the flavour of the meat.
3. Once the water has been cooked off, the lamb should crackle as the fat renders. Add the carrot and pumpkin and cook for 5 minutes.  Add in the flour and work it in thoroughly. Season with Worcestershire sauce and mix in. Add in the Knorr Beef Stock Pot, pour in the water and add in the thyme.
4. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
6. Fill the scooped out potato halves with the mince, then top roughly with the mashed potato.
7. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes until a lovely golden-brown. Serve.

These were really tasty and would be perfect served in a napkin at Bonfire Night too. 

There are lot's more great recipes and cooking inspiration on the Knorr and Flora websites.

I was provided with a hamper of ingredients from Unilever/Knorr/Flora to make these Halloween Treats and Eats.  I was not paid and all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Baked Salmon with Herbs - Fish, Feed our Future

Salmon isn't just for summer, it's one of the easiest fish to cook and very popular with the whole family all year round.

Omega-3 is a type of fat found in oil-rich fish like salmon, trout, mackerel sardines and herring- it's a 'good' fat that's not only beneficial for health but, essential in the diet (as it cannot be made by the body)
Omega-3 also helps to significantly reduce the chances of cancer and heart disease and boosts sporting performance and concentration. Seafood has long been recognised as the best dietary source of Omega-3.

It's also a myth that fish is expensive, there are some really good deals in fish if you look out for them, I got this side of salmon for £10 and you could feed 6 adults generously which I think is a bit of a bargain.

Baked Salmon with Herbs
Serves 6

A side of salmon (or 6 fillets)
half a lemon
2 tsp olive oil 
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Wash and the salmon and dry with kitchen paper.
2. Line a baking tray with foil and place the salmon on top, brush the salmon with oil an sprinkle over the herbs, top with slices from half a lemon.
3. Lightly season, then cover with another sheet of foil and crimp around the edges so that the salmon is sealed in a foil parcel. 
4. Bake in the oven at 160C for about 30 minutes until the salmon is opaque.
5. Serve with new potatoes and a green vegetable.

This is a good recipe to prepare in the morning, stick in the fridge all parcelled up and then simply pre-heat the oven and pop it in.  It will be ready in the time you have cooked the vegetables. 

I'll be posting more fish recipes over the next four weeks as part of a campaign by Fish is the Dish to encourage the people of Britain to each more fish, watch out for them.

I'm entering this dish into the Cooking with Herbs challenge run by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, the theme this month is 'Scarborough Fair' as I have parsley and thyme in this dish it should fit the bill!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Rattle those pots and pans!

'Get out from that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans' - so says Bill Hayley in Shake, Rattle and Roll although how you are supposed to "roll my breakfast cos I'm a hungry man" if you get out from that kitchen, I have no idea.  Maybe he was planning on taking whoever was in the kitchen OUT for breakfast. What do you think?  No, I didn't think so either!

I won't be rattling these lovely new Viners Hard Anodised pots and pans at all, Hard anodised cookware is twice as hard as stainless steel making it extremely durable, non-stick with a long lifespan and scratch resistance. I will be admiring the sleek lines and brushed steel finish of my pans, peeping through the clear lid to see how my recipes are progressing and shouting hurrah because those lids have a little hole in them for the steam to escape.  My last pans didn't and I had to balance them on the handles causing water to condense on the inside and drip onto the hob.

The lovely pans come from Viners,  who I knew for their quality cutlery sets, but look a little closer and you will find that Viners Cook and Dine manufacture and distribute a wide range of cookware and tableware.

Viners was once the biggest cutlery manufacturer in England and traces its roots back to Sheffield – the home to stainless steel – where in 1906 Willie and Emile Viener set the company up. The company specialized in electroplated silver products and used its expertise to expand into a variety of categories including tea sets, trays, fine cutlery and kitchen knives. Later on they used their manufacturing expertise to develop ranges of stainless steel products.

Viners is not alone in the family, its sister brands include Mermaid and George Wilkinson bakeware which also boast a long and rich British heritage. Today, they have three factories in the U.K. with a tradition of over 180 years of manufacturing and employ nearly 300 people in order to bring a fine range of quality housewares to market and our set of trusted brands has grown to include largest manufacturer of glassware to the U.S. retail market – Anchor Hocking.

This set consists of: 
16cm Sauce Pan and Lid Dimensions; 160mm x 75mm Capacity: 1.5L 
18cm Sauce Pan and Lid Dimensions; 180mm x 85mm Capacity: 2L 
20cm Sauce Pan and Lid Dimensions; 200mm x 95mm Capacity: 3L
Made from hard anodised aluminium with stainless steel handles and black silicon grips for easy handling and suitable for ceramic, gas, halogen and radiant hobs

They also come with a 15 Year Viners Guarantee

The other great thing about Viners is that they have some really good deals. I've been signed up to their newsletter for some time and there are always lots of offers and deals on their products.  The High Street price for the Viners Hard Anodised 3 piece non-stick pan set  is £100 but there is a deal of 55% off bringing them down to £45 (at time of publishing)  which makes them really affordable.

You can follow Viners on Facebook  and Twitter too for news of their products and offers.

I was supplied with the non-stick pan set by Viners, I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own. 

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood at BBC Good Food Show Scotland 2014

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood were definitely the stars of the BBC Good Food Show Scotland this year. I attended the show on Friday 17th October, this was my first show in Scotland and the first time as a GFS Blogger, so let me tell you all about my experience.
Mary and Paul opening the show and at the Supertheatre
The show was opened by guess who?  Yes, Mary and Paul stepped up with the giant scissors to cut the ribbon and start the show.  They were also first up at the Supertheatre where they entertained the packed theatre with great recipes and the kind of banter that you have come to expect from watching The Great British Bake Off and the spin off  Masterclasses.

The Showguide and Recipe Collection
I was super-impressed by the Showguide and Recipe Collection.  Not only was it well laid out, with the floor plan and event timetables, featured right at the front, but it was also full of recipes featured in the shows and some extras too.  There was a full A-Z listing of all the producers and a product guide which was also helpful.

The Good Food Show Bloggers
One of the real pleasures of the day was the chance to catch up with the other Good Good Show Bloggers.  A special treat, and one of the main reasons I wanted to attend the show, was meeting Christina Conte of Christina's Cucina.  Christina and I have been friends through Facebook but, although Christina is of Scottish/Italian descent she lives in California, so we had never met in person. Christina was visiting the show as part of a series of events including the Scottish Baking Championships and The World Porridge Making Championships Speciality Award  which she won with her Sticky Toffee Pudding Porridge.  

Other BBC Good Food Show Bloggers in attendance on Friday included Rachel from A wee pinch of sugar, Emma from Food and Drink Glasgow, Michelle from Ananyah,  Paula from Get Stuffed, Julie from Breakfast at Julie's and Pam from Glasgow Food Geek.

Just a few of the producers at the BBC Good Food Show, Scotland clockwise from the top left Heck Food (fabulous sausages which previously featured at Farmersgirl Kitchen in some chorizo burgers I made from a Nigel Slater recipe); local to me in the SW of Scotland,  Waulkmill Cider from Langholm;  Seed and Bean Chocolate from Cornwall  and Award winning David's Chilli Oil.

Across the top:  sauces, mayonnaise, mutard chutney and relishes from Le Mesurier;  The Little Veg Company, a veg box delivery company in Glasgow and the West of Scotland;  Scotia Spice, authentic Punjabi Cookery School and Spice Kits and the bottom photo shows Gusto Artisan Foods purveyors of a wide range of oils and vinegars.

Once I knew I was going to the BBC Good Food Show, I was on a mission to get my 30+ year old Fast Cakes by Mary Berry signed by Queen Mary herself.  Although I have been baking since I was a child, this is the book that really gave me confidence to bake and also the understanding of baking to allow me to experiment and create my own cakes and bakes.

The rules for book signings are pretty strict and only certain books could be signed.  I saw one poor girl who had stood for 30 minutes turned away because she had a Bake Off Book rather than a Mary Berry book.  I bought Mary's latest book, Mary Berry Cooks the Perfect,  to be signed and given as a gift (that's why I'm not showing it here) and slid my old, cake batter splattered and scribbled on book underneath.  I was nervous as I approached the table, wondering if I would be refused the signature.  However, I need not have worried, as I handed over the new book, I explained about Fast Cakes and there was no problem at all.  Mary signed and gave me a big smile, then continued working her way through the long queue.

Janice meets Paul Hollwood
After the 2.30 pm Supertheatre show, the bloggers had the opportunity to go back stage for a photo opportunity with Paul Hollywood.  There was no opportunity to speak to Paul or to Mary, who was there only fleetingly, on her way to the Interview stage.  I have to say I was hugely impressed by Mary Berry's stamina, she had few breaks and still looked fresh - she is the ultimate professional.

Overall it was a great day out and I can thoroughly recommend it.  The Scottish show is over for this year, but there are still loads more BBC Good Food Shows that you can visit in the coming months.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Satay Kajang with Peanut Sauce

In 1983 we set off on the holiday of a lifetime, three weeks in Malaysia. We visited my sister-in-law who was teaching English in Taiping, this was fantastic as she knew how to get around, could speak the language and took us to eat in some fantastic places. Highlights of our culinary adventure were Roti Canai (pancake with curry sauce) for breakfast, a steamboat (stock bubbling in a pot over a charcoal burner, with seafood and vegetables you cook in it yourself) in a Chinese Malay restaurant, chilli crabs burning our fingers and lips on Pankor island and Nasi Goreng (fired rice) eaten cold as a picnic in the jungle national park, Taman Negara.

One of the first meals we ate out in Taiping was Satay, cooked at an open air street stall and charged by the stick! I'd never seen anything like it (remember it was 1983) and it tasted so good. Inevitably I came home with a cook book "Traditional Malaysian Cuisine".

I used it quite a lot when I returned home although many of the ingredients were still difficult to find. I was pleased when I saw that Chris from Cooking Around the World had chosen Malaysia as the country for Bloggers around the World this month, as it made me dig out this book and revisit this recipe:

Satay Kajang

1.5kg chicken fillet
1tsp cumin
1/2tsp powdered cinnamon
8 shallots
1tsp coriander
2.5cm piece of fresh turmeric or 1tsp dried turmeric
1tsp sugar
1 stalk lemongrass
2tbsp roasted peanuts
Salt to taste
2tbsp oil

1. Cube the chicken meat, drain and put aside.
2. grind coriander, cumin, turmeric, peanuts, salt and sugar. Mix this with the powdered cinnamon, diced shallots and 1tbsp oil.
3. Marinade the chicken in this mixture.
4. Using wooden skewers soaked for at least an hour in cold water, skewer 5 pieces of chicken on each skewer.
5. Grill over burning coals or under a hot grill, constantly sprinkling oil on the meat using crushed lemongrass.
6. Turn over and continue grilling until the chicken is cooked.
7. Serve with peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce

300g roasted peanuts
2.5cm piece of ginger
3tbsp pounded chillies
2 stalks lemongrass
1tbsp sugar
1 mild onion
1/2 cup tamarind juice (I used Tamarind sauce)
Salt to taste
1. Grind the peanuts. put aside.
2. Grind lemongrass and ginger until fine.
3. Slice onion and stir fry until soft
4. Add in ground chillies and other ground ingredients
5. Add in the tamarind juice and lastly peanuts, sugar and salt. Simmer until the gravy thickens.
6. To serve, arrange a few sticks of satay on a plate and serve with a bowl of peanut sauce, cucumber and sliced onion. Satay also goes very well with rice.

Pounded chillies, marinating chicken, tamarind sauce and peanut sauce.
I fried off some of the onions from the marinade before adding the rice, then double the volume of stock to rice. This made a tasty savoury pilaff to accompany the satay. It didn't disappoint, the flavours and textures compliment each other perfectly. If you haven't tried making Satay yourself, I hope you can see that it's really not too difficult and have a go!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Chocolate Pots

Simple recipes require the very best of ingredients. Chocolate Pots is a simple recipe and deserves  good chocolate as the main ingredient. I used Hadleigh Maid Dark Chocolate Buttons for Baking, which are made with care by a small family business based in Suffolk whose expertise and passion as chocolatiers, since 1976, goes into making chocolate buttons which are easy to melt, perfect for baking and still smooth enough for snacking.


300ml single cream
125g Hadleigh Maid Dark Chocolate Baking Buttons
1 egg
2 egg yolks
15g caster sugar
A little whipped cream or creme fraiche to decorate

1. Put the cream and chocolate buttons into a saucepan and gently heat, stirring frequently until the chocolate has. melted, do not boil.

2. Mix together the sugar, egg yolks and whole egg, then stir in the chocolate cream. Strain the mixture into a jug then fill 4 small ramekins or small ovenproof cups.

3. Preheat the oven to 150C, place the ramekins in a roasting tin and fill around them with boiled water from the kettle up to about 1cm.

4. Bake for about an hour until lightly set, they should still wobble slightly.

5. Leave to cool, then chill for at least an hour. To serve, top with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

You can easily double or treble this recipe for a larger gathering and it makes a perfect dinner party dessert because you can make it before hand and leave chilling in the fridge.

I found that the Hadleigh Maid Dark Chocolate Buttons melted smoothly and quickly in the cream. The flavour of the chocolate is rich but not bitter and  it retained it's character after baking into the little pots of chocolate dessert  which were rich and creamy but not over sweet or cloying.

Hadleigh Maid Baking Buttons come in 350g bags, in three varieties: white, milk and dark chocolate. I tried all three and they were all easy to use, high quality, honestly made and crafted with integrity. They also come in a handy bag which is easy to fold down and reseal.

If you would like to try these buttons yourself, I can thoroughly recommend them, and although currently not stocked all over the UK (stockists),  the good news is that from mid November you can buy them online direct from Hadleigh Maid RRP £3.50 for 350g bag.

There are lots more chocolate options on the website including boxes, slabs and walnut whirls. Hadleigh Maid are also about to launch a personalisation tool, meaning users will be able to upload an image which will be printed on a bar or box of chocolates. Great for corporate gifts or wedding favours.

With Halloween and half-term upon us, why don't you get involved?  Upload your creations to the Hadleigh Maid Facebook page to inspire others and also the chance to win prizes

I am a member of the Netmums Blogging Network, a unique community of parent bloggers from around the UK who have been handpicked by the Netmums team to review products and brands on their behalf. I may have been paid expenses, and have been supplied with a product sample for this review, but retain all editorial control. All my Netmums Reviews will display the Netmums logo within the post

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