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Monday, 29 September 2014

Chocolate Cherry Brownies and The #Bakeface

Welcome to THE BAKE FACE!  It's what happens when a delicious Billington's bake meets a face, and the face just doesn't know what to do with itself. Here's my BAKEFACE!

You can vote for my BAKEFACE at the Billington's site
voting closes 05/10/14

Billington's Brownies

Prep 12 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Serves 12

250g Billington's Unrefined Dark Muscovado Sugar
200g unsalted butter
350g 70% dark chocolate, chopped into pieces
3 medium free range eggs
50g self-raising flour
100g Billington's Natural Glace Cherries (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 190C (170C Fan)/gas mark 5, and line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
3. Whisk the eggs until pale and fluffy.  Add the dark muscovado sugar and whisk until thick.  Gently fold in the chocolate mixture.
4. Sift in the flour and fold in until the mixture is smooth.  Mix in the glace cherries.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, until you see a paper-like crust on top.  There should still be some movement in the centre of the tin.
6. Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then cut into squares.

These are really squidgy brownies, I think if I was making them again I would give them a little longer, they are more like a dessert than a cake, very rich and indulgent - gorgeous!

Follow @BillingtonsUK #bakeface

I received a hamper from Billington's to make these Brownies

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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Slow Cooker Challenge Round Up - September 2014

Things are still a little 'slow' in the world of this blog challenge but three generous bloggers have slowly and lovingly cooked some melt in the mouth treats for you.

Dear Dominic of Belleau Kitchen, was determined that he was going to enter my challenge, even though he does not own an electric slow cooker.  His dogged determination paid off and I've decided to change the rules from now on to include any slow cooked meal, not just those cooked in a gadget for the purpose.

And so I present to you Dom's Slow Roast Chicken Thighs with Plums, Carrots, Potatoes, Garlic and Celery

Brisket is one of my favourite cuts of beef and I know that it is also one that Karen of Lavender and Lovage likes to cook with too.  It's ideally suited for slow cooking and Karen has make a fabulous one pot meal in her Crockpot: Slow Cooked Brisket with Elderberry Glaze and Port Jus

Lucy of Baking Queen74 joined in with a great week night supper dish, ideal when running around delivering children to various activities.  This Slow Cooker Pork Leek and Apple Casserole will be piping hot and ready to eat at the end of a busy day.

Thanks so much to all three  for entering.  The new challenge will be launched on 1st October welcoming entries from any meals cooked slowly whether in a Slow Cooker, Crockpot or any other method.  In the meantime check out the back list of round ups for some great slow cooked recipes.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Speedy Smoked Trout Fusilli

I think Smoked trout should be as popular as smoked salmon, it's a delicious and delicate fish and very versatile.  British Trout is a sustainable super-food, tasty and affordable and perfect for anyone seeking healthy, fast food.

This recipe is really quick and easy to make, if you get the pasta on to cook, you can be getting the vegetables cooked and the sauce prepped at the same time.  Your prep will take the whole recipe to about 10 minutes, but only five to throw it all together making it an ideal mid-week dinner.

Fusilli with Smoked Trout
Serves 4-6

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 leek, cut into matchsticks
2 celery sticks, cut in to matchsticks
150ml/ 1/4 pint / 2/3 cup vegetable stock
225g/ 8oz/ smoked trout fillets, skinned and cut into strips
200g/7oz cream cheese
150g/ 1/4 pint/ 2/3 cup medium sweet white wine or fish stock
15ml/1tbsp chopped fresh dill or fennel
225g/8oz/2 cups fusilli or other dried pasta shapes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill sprigs, to garnish

1. Put the carrot, leek and celery matchsticks into a pan and add the stock.  Bring to the boil and cook quickly for 4-5 minutes, until most of the stock has evaporated/ Remove from the heat and add the smoked trout.
2. Put the cream cheese and wine or fish stock into a pan over a medium heat, and whisk until smooth.  Add the dill or fennel and salt and pepper.
3. Cook the fusilli in a pan of salted boiling water according to the instructions on the packet, When the pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite, drain it thoroughly, and return it to the pan.
4. Add the sauce, toss lightly and transfer to a serving bowl.  Top with the cooked vegetables and trout.  Serve immediately, garnished with the dill sprigs.

For more recipes visit for more information

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

10 reasons to love Street Food with Scotch Lamb

Reason 1 - Getting invited to a Scotch Lamb Street Food Festival
We all enjoy a Sunday roast, but it was so much fun to try some more adventurous dishes made with lamb at the Scotch Lamb Street Food Festival.  The Street Food Festival was tucked away in a venue in the West End of  Glasgow, an area which I thought I knew quite well, but  this was a place I had never been to, it was all a little bit mysterious  The Studio Warehouse  is right at the end of a lane,  next to a fast main road, the Clydeside Expressway, and beside some old fashioned arches.  However it was an ideal space for an indoor Street Festival, and it was just as well it was indoors as it was pouring with rain when we arrived just after 11am.

The food for the Street Festival was provided by The Street Food Cartel who served up a specially created menu from four of their most popular street kitchen stalls.

Reason 2 (Top left): Antojito Cantina, Barbacoa lamb in soft tacos, with sour cream, guacamole and pico di gallo.  This wasn't easy to eat as the meat was in a fairly wet sauce, but it was really full of flavour, not too spicy, and the toppings really made it.
Reason 3 (Top right): So La Ti Dough, Lamb Shoulder slow roasted in the wood fire oven with vine tomatoes, rosemary and garlic.  Focaccia baked to order. The lamb was thickly cut and tasty although, I would have preferred a stronger rosemary and garlic flavour coming through coming and it wasn't the easiest to eat with a wooden fork and no knife!  The tomatoes were lovely.
Reason 4 (Bottom left): Pad BKK, Lamb Massaman curry with jasmine rice, Thai prawn crackers, crispy shallots, peanuts and herbs. The Pad Thai was super delicious, tender lamb with a sweet and spicy sauce, the prawn crackers, spring onions and chilli added a beautiful texture to the dish and the rice soaked up the sauce.  This was an outstanding dish.
Reason 5 (Bottom right): Scoop Silver Bullet, Braised neck fillet of lamb, ras el hanout, pomegranate and sultana cous cous.  We both loved the lamb cooked with Moroccan spices, it was perfectly balanced with tender spicy lamb and a delicious couscous, the slight acidity of the pomegranate was the perfect foil for the meat.

It was a close call for first place between the Morrocan flavoured dish and the Pad Thai, both tasted amazing, I think I liked the Pad Thai best and Brian preferred the Morrocan Lamb.  I have to point out that, although we had the opportunity to eat whole dish of each to ourselves (or more) we really couldn't have managed it, so apart from the initial tacos, we shared each of the dishes.

Reason 6 - There are many different cuts of lamb  and your butcher can advise you which to choose.  Some of the bloggers at the Street Food Festival took the opportunity for a lesson in butchery.  It was a pretty comprehensive lesson which took around an hour and those who took part learned to debone a leg of lamb, muscle by muscle.  I would have had a go, but when I saw how much time was involved, I decided just to observe!

Reason 7 - Chef Jacqueline O'Donnell's fabulous recipes and cookery demos for Scotch Lamb
The main attractions for me were the cookery demonstrations by Chef Jacqueline O'Donnell of the Sisters Restaurant.  Jacqueline shot to fame last year with her appearance in the Great British Menu when she won the Scottish round but, unfortunately, her dishes didn't make it through to the final dinner.  I met Jac at the Highland Show and loved her down to earth attitude and treasure trove of useful hints and tips. I think she should have her own TV series.

Reason 8 - You can cook Scotch Lamb quickly
The Scotch Lamb dishes that Jac cooked this time were lamb loin with caramelised sweet potato served with couscous.  We learned about resting the meat to let the temperature equalise right through the meat.  Jac also told us some gems about 'keeping the flavour in the pan', for example by cooking the sweet potatoes in a little stock before caramelising them in the pan, then using the stock for the couscous.

Reason 9 - You can cook Scotch Lamb slowly
Even more exciting for me was the rolled shoulder of Scotch Lamb which Jac had slow cooked until it was falling apart, then wrapped tightly in cling film while warm so it cooled in a cylinder shape.   Once cold it was then cut into thick slices, pan fried, and served with a Thai inspired sauce which included lime, ginger and fish sauce.  The lamb was incredibly tender and the sauce had a lovely balance of sweet, sour and salty.  I'll definitely be making this dish.

Reason 10 - The 'Scotch Lamb' name means quality is assured
The quality assurance scheme means that only animals from farms that meet the assurance standards are eligible to be classed as Scotch Lamb. Quality Meat Scotland inspect these farms annually and only then can the classification  ‘Scotch Lamb’ be awarded to those sheep that have been born and raised on assured Scottish farms.

I was a little disappointed that we weren't able to take away the recipes for the demos and the Street Food dishes, I have asked and will share any I make.  In the meantime there are plenty of great recipes on the Scotch Beef and Lamb site.

Many thanks to all at Scotch Lamb, Quality Meat Scotland and The Street Food Cartel, for a very tasty way to spend a Saturday, eating and learning about Scotch Lamb. It was also great to meet some bloggers I follow online but hadn't met before: Rachel from A Wee Pinch of Sugar, Michelle from Ananyah, Sarah from Glasgow Mummy and the glorious red head, Get Stuffed (sorry I didn't catch your proper name!).

I was invited to the Street Food Festival by Scotch Lamb, I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own. 

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Kellie's Tomato Tart - a last taste of summer

As soon as I saw the photograph pop up in Facebook I knew that I had to make this tomato tart.  If you haven't visited Food to Glow then you have a treat in store because Kellie makes beautiful food which is also very healthy.

Get the recipe here Tomato Tart with Seed and Nut Herb Crust

I'm adding this to Bookmarked Recipes the challenge to help you used those recipes you've saved, whether in books, magazines or online.

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Friday, 19 September 2014

Wine, Chocolate, Green Tea, Noodles and Nuts on My Kitchen Table in September

Welcome to my kitchen table, if you haven't visited before then let me tell you that this is where I review a variety of different products that have been sent to me and I'd like to share with you.

So let's start with a nice chilled glass of wine.  I wasn't able to attend the Matua Sessions launch, but I was offered a bottle to try in the comfort of my own home!  Matua are a New Zealand Winery and the Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is fresh with a real citrus zing, reminiscent of grapefruit and perfect for a warm summer day, an ideal match for fish and seafood. 7/10

Ever thought you might like to be a Chocolatier?  Well you can design your own chocolate bar without all the hassle of tempering with Chocolat Chocolat.  The website is easy to navigate and you can choose both the base chocolate for your bar from different types of chocolate, dark,  white  and caramel chocolate, then you choose from a variety of toppings.  Here is what I chose:

Bar 1 - 70% Dark, toppings - apricots, pecans and amaretti biscuit crumble
Bar 2 -  34% Caramel , toppings - Cappucino Buttons, Honeycomb and caramelised almonds
Bar 3 - 55% Dark, toppings - cinnamon, cardamom and chocolate coffee beans

I usually prefer dark chocolate, but I also loved the caramel bar with it's sweet and crunchy toppings.  This would be a perfect gift for a chocolate lover, or a special treat for yourself.

One custom bar costs £5.95, two custom bars cost £10.95 and three custom bars cost £14.95

As well as ordering online you can visit the Chocolat Chocolat shop in Cambridge for the full range of glorious chocolately goodness.  9/10

It's no secret that we are lovers of really good tea.  Brian is particularly keen on chinese green teas and he was so impressed with the Emperor Sampler Set from Adagio Teas.  This Sampler contains generous portions of the following:

  • gyokuro - Deeply sweet, aroma of freshly buttered greens - no grassiness or harshness. Soft with a balanced, delicate finish.
  • jasmine chun hao - Sweet perfumy cup, notes of warmed sugar, slightly toasty like a fresh biscuit. Light, refreshing and not overwhelmingly floral.
  • jade snail - The tightly rolled fuzzy buds unfurl to deliver intricate notes of roasted nuts, soft smokiness and a hop-like crispness. Delicate yet bold.
  • dragonwell - Inviting, toasty aroma and sweet rounded flavour. Nutty, buttery texture, pleasantly dry finish.

We loved them all, but the dragonwell was probably the one that came out top in our tasting test. the Emperor Sampler costs £13 for four teas 62g , Dragonwell costs £15 for 85g which works out at 40p per cup  8/10

I must now declare that I have NEVER eaten a Pot Noodle in my life!  So when I received a pack of Itsu Crystal Noodle Cups  I was somewhat sceptical.  However, I was pleasantly surprised as the broth, which comes as a paste in a foil pack, was really very delicious and had not artificial flavours or after-taste.   I adored the 'spork' which was really necessary to drink the soup and fish for the noodles,even better each cup is only 171 calories.

Itsu Crystal Noodle Cups are available from Ocado at £2.29 per cup (currently on special offer for £1.75) 7/10

Nuts are such a great ingredient in recipes and also a delicious snack on their own.  Jumble Bee nuts are available through Tesco stores with 175g packs retailing for £2.39.  I decanted a portion of nuts into a small plastic box and took it to work to keep me going through the day.  The nuts were lovely and fresh and the fruit soft and sweet, absolutely delicious.  8/10

I hope you have enjoyed my eclectic mix of foodie treats this month.  I'll be back with more in October.  

I was supplied with these products for review, I was not paid and all opinions are my own. 

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Win tickets to the BBC Good Food Show Scotland

The BBC Good Food Show Scotland runs from 17 - 19 October at the SECC in Glasgow.  It's going to be a fabulous show for food lovers, there's the Bakes and Cakes Village, the Supertheatre shows and interview stage featuring celebrity chefs Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, James Martin, Ajmal Mushtaq Tom Kitchin and John Torode.

I'm also excited to introduce you to some of my foodie friends and fellow bloggers who will be demonstrating at the show:

Christina Conte of Christina's Cucina who will be coming all the way from Los Angeles
Emma Mykytyn, freelance writer and one half of Food and Drink Glasgow
Stuart Vettesse, who bakes and blogs at Cakeyboi, one of the top baking blogs in Scotland.

There will be hundreds of exhibitors and a producers village where you will discover a range of speciality food and artisan produce.

I'm going to be there on Friday 17th, as a Good Food Show Blogger, and will be reporting back on my foodie adventures at the show.  If you would like to come along to the show too, then I have a couple of exciting options for you.

I have three pairs of tickets for the show (does not include Saturday or Supertheatre seats) to giveaway.  Just enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment and share as required

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to guarantee your tickets, then I can also offer you a 20% discount  until 3rd October, just use the code BL20 when you order your tickets.

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Chilli Lime Cupcakes - National Cupcake Week Part 2

How is your National Cupcake Week going?  I hope you have managed to bake or eat at least one cupcake this week, if not you still have time to get baking.  On Monday I shared Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes with you and showed you the nifty gadget from OXO Good Grips for coring cupcakes, today I invite you to get your teeth into these gloriously festive Chilli Lime Cupcakes.

These cupcakes are also cored and then filled with Chilli Lime and Ginger jam (mild) made by my friend Sheena at Galloway Chillies.  If you haven't tried Galloway Chillies Jams then you don't know what you are missing and you should get some ordered up immediately so you too can 'spread a little wildfire'.

As soon as I saw this flavoured icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs I knew I had to have some and that it would pair perfectly with the Galloway Chillies jam.

Chilli Lime Cupcakes

For the cupcakes
125g caster sugar
125g soft butter
2 eggs
grated zest of a lime
2 tsp squeezed lime juice
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the filling
1 tsp Galloway Chillies, Chilli Lime Ginger Jam (mild)

For the Icing
75g soft butter
150g Sugar and Crumbs Chilli Lime Icing Sugar
grated zest of  1/2 lime
1tbsp lime juice

To decorate
grated zest of 1/2 lime
Red cake sprinkles (or if you are really into chilli, finely chopped fresh chilli)

Using a stand mixer beat the sugar and butter together, then add the eggs one at a time, finally add the lime juice and beat the mixture for about 3 minutes until it is light and fluffy.  Sift the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture and beat until incorporated, fold in the grated lime zest.   Spoon the mixture into eight paper case.  Heat the oven to 180C, bake for 20 -25 minutes until golden and when pressed on the top they feel firm.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Once cooled, core the cupcakes and fill with a teaspoon of the Chilli Lime and Ginger Jam. Cut the core in half and replace in the hole to cover the jam.

For the Icing
Beat the butter for a few minutes until light and fluffy, sift in the icing sugar, add the lime juice and zest and beat for a further few minutes until the sugar and butter is combined.  Spread the icing over the top of the cupcakes.

Decorate with grated zest of lime and red sprinkles or finely chopped chilli.

These cupcakes are such a treat, the lime cuts through the sweetness of the jam and icing making the cupcakes taste really fresh and delicious.

I'm entering them for Treat Petite the baking challenge for individual sweet treats run by Mr Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer - the theme is 'Anything Goes'.

I was provided with the cupcake corer and icing spatula by OXO Good Grips and the Flavoured Icing Sugar by Sugar and Crumbs.  I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes - National Cupcake Week Pt 1

It's National Cupcake Week 15 -21 September so if you were looking for an excuse to make or eat cupcakes you need look no further!  I haven't made any cupcakes for quite a while, muffins, scones, tray bakes and sponge cakes have graced my table but not those delightful individual cups of cakey goodness topped with butter cream.

Those clever people at OXO Good Grips have sent me some natty little gadgets to help with creative cupcake construction, first up is the Cupcake Corer which with a simple twist removes a core from the centre of the baked cupcake ready for you to fill it with something delicious, jam, cream, lemon curd or in this case salted caramelised apple pieces.  You then push the cakey core out of the corer, cut it in half (to leave room for the filling) and add the top piece back to the cupcake before adding your icing. It worked really well although I did dig a little deeper with a spoon to get more filling in.

Second gadget I was provided with was the OXO Good Grips Cupcake Icing Knife which is small angled spatula that makes it really easy to top your cupcakes with butter cream or other icing.  I usually pipe my icing on but loved this more relaxed and rustic looking icing (also no icing bag palaver!).

To make things even easier I used Sugar and Crumbs Natural Flavoured Icing Sugar in 'Salted Caramel' flavour. 

Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes 

For the cupcakes
125g soft brown sugar
125g soft butter
2 e3ggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the apple filling
1 medium apple
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp water

For the Icing
75g soft butter
150g Sugar and Crumbs Salted Caramel Icing Sugar
1tbsp milk

A few pieces of fudge, chopped small to decorate.

Using a stand mixer beat the sugar and butter together, then add the eggs one at a time and finally the vanilla extract, beat the mixture for about 3 minutes until it is light and fluffy.  Sift the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture and beat until incorporated.   Spoon the mixture into eight paper case.  Heat the oven to 180C, bake for 20 -25 minutes until golden and when pressed on the top they feel firm.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the apple filling
Peel the apple and chop into even sized pieces, bearing in mind that they will have to fit into the cupcake.  Place the apple pieces sugar and water in a pan and cook on a medium heat until the sugar melts and starts to caramelise and  the apple starts to soften.  Using the corer or a teaspoon, cut a core from the centre of the cupcake and fill with a teaspoon of the apple mixture. Cut the core in half and replace the top over the apples mixture.

For the Icing
Beat the butter for a few minutes until light and fluffy, sift in the icing sugar add the milk and beat for a further few minutes until the sugar and butter is combined.  Spread the icing over the top of the cupcakes.
Decorate with chopped pieces of fudge.

Definitely worth making, the vanilla sponge gives way to the caramelised apples, enhanced by the Salted Caramel Icing and chewy fudge pieces.

Look out for National Cupcake Week part 2 later this week.

I was provided with the cupcake corer and icing spatula by OXO Good Grips and the Flavoured Icing Sugar by Sugar and Crumbs.  I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

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Sunday, 14 September 2014

Why do I write? - A blog hop

I've been nominated by my fellow blogger Lancashire Food for a blog hop, thanks Lindsey for the nomination. I have many friends in the blogging world, I've met some of them in person and it always surprises me just how well I know them through their writing.  So here's where you get find out a little bit about me and my motivation to blog and it should lead to you some other bloggers who you may not yet have met.  
with mini Kelpies at the Royal Highland Show

Why do I write ?
Sometimes I ask myself this question, mostly when I have a backlog of posts to write and am worn out from the day job!  I love to communicate and mostly to communicate about the things that inspire and enthuse me.  I first started blogging because of the crafting that I did, I was part of a craft forum and one or two people started blogs, so I thought I'd have a go too.  The craft blog, Serial Crafter,  is still there and, even though I rarely post on it, there are still a lot of posts to see. I created Farmersgirl Kitchen at the same time (2007) and  put up the occasional post until it started to take over from crafting

What am I working on ?
I currently have 7 posts in draft including this one, and another couple that haven't made the draft stage yet.  These include a review round up, a Bookmarked Recipe and some recipe posts.

How does my blog differ from others of its genre?
Farmersgirl Kitchen is all about home cooking, I offer my readers a eclectic mix of recipes, product reviews, restaurant reviews, cook book reviews and a little bit of travel.  I've been working hard on my food styling and photography, and what I'd really like to be known for is my story telling, both in words and pictures. 

How does my writing process work?
I just write, no one ever accused me of being lost for words!  I sit down at the computer post up the pictures then fill in the blanks.  If I have time, I'll leave the post and come back to it the next day to see if I can improve the writing, but often I just spell check, preview and post! 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my blogging life, part of the rules of this blog hop is to nominate two other bloggers, here are two very special blogs full of cake and kindness, I give you... 

Sew White  and  Jo Blogs, Jo Bakes

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Posh Burgers, Velvet Chicken and Scandi Salad - all in a box!

Do you find it difficult to decide what to cook?  And sometimes when you find a recipe you want to make, are you thwarted by not having all of the ingredients?  If the answer is yes, then you might want to order a Gousto box, especially as I have a special discount for your first order (see bottom of post).  Here is how it works:

  • You choose the recipes from the website
  • Gousto does the shopping
  • Gousto measure everything
  • Gousto deliver for free
  • You cook and enjoy

Since the last time I reviewed a Gousto Box in 2012 they've made their boxes even better. Prices have been lowered by 17%, so meals now only cost £4.00 - £5.80 including delivery (three meals £34.99). That's on average 16% better than most supermarkets according to

The boxes still deliver the same great quality, using high quality animal welfare meat from British farms and Soil Association certified organic vegetables.  Gousto also have a new website so you can easily make your menu choices on your mobile phone, you can also rate the recipes more easily.
There are two new chefs at Gousto, Remi and Alice, who are creating amazing new recipes every week.  Have a look at the menu, there are 10 new recipes every week for you to choose from.  I had three recipes, each for two people,  in my box and every single one of them was super delicious and I learned a few tricks that I will use in future cooking.
Posh Burger and Chips with Homemade Ketchup: Rosemary-rubbed chunky chips, shards of melted cheddar and a trio of delicious handmade condiments make this burger something really special. This was a straightforward recipe to make even though there were lots of different components.  Including chunks of cheese in the burgers works really well, you don't really taste cheese, it just adds a lovely creaminess to the meat.  The star of the show was the homemade ketchup which I will definitely be making again.
Crunchy Chicken Cashew Stir-Fry with Basmati Rice: This recipe uses the velveting technique.  Velveting is cooking meat in egg for an extra moist finish. It sounds challenging, but it's surprisingly simple and makes this chicken stir-fry extra special. Cashew nuts make a delicious addition to a stir-fry and they are also rich in essential minerals like magnesium, iron and zinc.

The stir-fry chicken was really simple to make and made two generous portions, I reckon you could serve it to three people without any complaints.  The velveting made for the most tender chicken I've ever stir-fried and I will certainly do that again.

Summer Mackerel with Warm Gem Salad: The use of lemon in this dish helps to give the recipe a real zing and brings out the flavour of the mackerel.  

The quality of the mackerel was excellent and the flavour combinations were reminiscent of Scandinavian food. The onions are immersed in vinegar which reduces the pungency of it's raw flavour, another thing I hadn't tried before.

If you would like to try a Gousto Box you can get £25 off your first box by using the code FARMERSGIRL which works out at approx £9.99 for three gourmet meals for two.  

I received a Gousto box to review, I was not paid for this review and all opinons are my own. 

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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Chocolate and Banana Nut Cake

It was my birthday recently and, although I did have a beautiful Dundee Cake, made by my Mum, on my birthday, I decided to treat myself to a little indulgence and create my own cake.  

I had been sent a packet of cob nuts covered in Ghana milk chocolate by the lovely people at Potash Farm in Kent and decided to use them in a nutty, chocolatey delight.

Kentish cobnuts were favoured by the Victorians who enjoyed them as an after dinner accompaniment to vintage port. They have been grown around St Marys Platt in Kent since the early 1800s and by the turn of the century an estimated 7000 acres had been planted in orchards known locally as plats.  Cob nuts are available from Potash Farm in a variety of forms, but a lightly toasted nut enrobed in either single estate Ecuador plain or Ghana milk chocolate has to be one of the best.

Chocolate and Banana Nut Cake
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons hot milk
100g soft butter
175g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g spelt flour (or plain flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp Chocolate Hazelnut spread 
45g chopped chocolate covered cob nuts (or hazelnuts)

1. Heat the oven to 180C.  Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.

2. Peel the bananas and mash them in a large bowl.  Dissolve the Chocolate Hazelnut spread in the hot milk, mixing until there are no lumps, then add the bicarbonate of soda.  Pour/spoon this mixture into the bowl with the bananas, then add all the other ingredients except the nuts, and beat well with hand mixer.

3. Chop the nuts roughly leaving good sized chunks, then fold them into the mixture.

4. Fill the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for about an hour.  It should be well risen and brown.  Test with a skewer and if it comes out clean the cake is ready.

5. Turn it out and remove the lining paper.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.  Once the cake is cool make the icing/frosting.  

For the icing/frosting
50g butter
1 tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread
2 tbsp cocoa powder, sieved
3 tbsp milk
150g icing sugar sieved

To decorate
40g chocolate covered cob nuts or hazelnuts

Melt the butter in a small pan add the cocoa and the chocolate hazelnut spread, stir to blend and cook gently for 1 minute.  Stir in the milk and the icing sugar.  Take off the heat and mix well, then leave to cool, stirring occasionally until the icing thickens.

Spread the icing over the top of the loaf cake with a wet spatula, don't worry if it looks a little bit oily, it will settle as it sets.  

Chop the remaining cob nuts in half  and place onto the icing to ensure an even coverage.  Leave the cake for a couple of hours before cutting.

This cake was one of the best I've ever made, the texture is fine and it cuts beautifully.  The flavour of the chocolate hazelnut spread is subtle, the banana gives the cake moisture and the icing is just soooo good, the chocolate covered cob nuts really added a lovely crunch and creamy texture to the cake and the topping.  I can assure you that it didn't last long.

If you would like to buy some chocolate covered cob nuts (£6.50 for 120g) or any of the other products from Potash Farm use this code to get 10% discount on all products at Potash Farm: farmersgirl10

Free nationwide delivery direct from Potash Farm available. Order online from

Facts and figures about cobnuts
  • The official cobnut season starts on August 22nd, St Philibert’s Day
  • Cobnut pickers are called ‘nutters’
  • 6 cobnuts offer the equivalent iron and protein of ½ lb of red meat.  They are also high in calcium and vitamin A
  • The cobnut is a cultivated form of hazel. While the classic hazelnut is fingernail shaped, cobnuts are broader, longer and shaped more like a thumbnail.
  • Fresh and unprocessed, cobnuts can be eaten moist straight after picking in late August and September, when they have the texture of a sweet chestnut.
  • As they turn brown in the autumn, cob nuts dry out and the starch inside turns to sugar, they become much sweeter.

I'm entering my Chocolate and Banana Nut Cake for Bake of the Week at Casa Costello

I'm also entering this cake as my afternoon tea delight for The Great Denby Cake Off

And now for a new blogging event Cake Club at Kerry Cooks

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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Brodies of Moffat - my foodie adventure for Scottish Food Fortnight

It's time to celebrate Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight which runs from 6-21 September 2014 with events taking place across Scotland.

Each year I look forward to some September food excitement at events taking place throughout Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight.  In previous years I've learned about The Art of Fungi visited a deer farm and taken part in a chocolate workshop.

The focus of this year’s foodie fiesta is to introduce the public to new food adventures and includes food and drink events, cookery demonstrations, promotions and offers from Scotland’s largest food and drink companies to its local craft producers.  I was invited by Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight to undertake a new Food Adventure in celebration of the Fortnight.  A Food Adventure could be anything from visiting a food tourism attraction or attending a Fortnight event to trying a new Scottish product, restaurant or recipe. 

For my food adventure, I decided to visit a restaurant that I've heard a lot about but have never quite managed to visit:  Brodies of Moffat.   The opportunity to dine at Brodies came during a week off work, when having a night out during the week was a treat with no consequences.   When we arrived at Brodies we were greeted by the server and seated in the 'wine bar' area at the rear of the restaurant where we were able to peruse the menu and order a drink while our table was made ready.  As it was mid-week it was pretty quiet, but didn't feel uncomfortable. We were then taken through to our table and found ourselves seated by the window with a view up towards Moffat High Street.  It can be a little disconcerting when passers by stop to read the menu in the window, but otherwise it was great to be sitting with so much light for photographs and the entertainment was watching  the tractors and trailers thundering round the corner!

For my first course, I chose the Spinach Roulade with Cold Smoked Trout, Watercress and Radish Salad. The roulade was soft and delicious and contrasted well with the cold smoked trout which was sweet and not at all oily.  I enjoyed the salad too, that acid crunch cut through the creamy filling in the roulade and the richness of the trout.

Brian chose Crayfish Tails with Melon, cucumber tartare and lemon sherbet dressing and reported that the melon was sweet (I love how finely sliced it is) I had a little taste of the crayfish tails which were good and worked well with the cucumber tartare.

Both of the starter plates were well presented and reasonably priced at £5.25.  Other starters offered were Soup of the Day, Tomato Tarte Tatin, Rabbit Terrine and Aranchini Cheese

On to the mains and we were spoiled for choice, in the end we rejected the Pan Fried Steak, the Roasted Stuffed Chicken, the Venison and the Smoked Haddock Fillet, instead Brian chose the Oven Roasted Duck with Braised Red Cabbage and sauteed Pak Choi. He chose to have his duck cooked medium rare and it was very tender with a really tasty jus/gravy.  The veg were also well cooked including two perfect roast potatoes.  

My plate contained something that Brian doesn't like: Black Pudding, Pork Fillet, Houston's Black Pudding (local butcher) orange segments and rosemary.  The vegetables were little baby carrots and perfectly al dente french beans.  The pork fillet just melted in the mouth and wasn't overpowered by the little cubes of black pudding, gosh it was good!

There were also a good range of vegetarian mains: Roasted Tomato and Mushroom Stack with warm Borlotti Beans, Spinach and Mushroom Spring Roll with Moffat Ricotta and Vegetarian Tart with basil pesto. 

We both felt that the portion sizes were perfect for us, we didn't feel over full and enjoyed every mouthful.  As we weren't over full, we had room for some dessert.

I would say that this was the weakest of all the courses.  The Raspberry Cheesecake was more jelly like than expected although the strawberry ice cream was really fruity.  I chose the lemon tart, the filling was nicely tart, but the pastry was rather thick and not crisp (now I sound like Mary Berry on the Bake off!) it was accompanied by vanilla ice cream which was pleasant but not outstanding. This didn't spoil our meal, but given the high quality of the starters and mains, it was just a little disappointing.  

Here is Brodies, it's set back from the High Street and, as you can see, despite a very traditional looking building, the interior is bright and modern, the opening at the back leads to the wine bar and additional seating.

Brodies serve coffee and cakes during the day, lunches, brunch all day on Sunday or book in for Sunday Lunch.  Brodies also have an Early Doors fixed price menu and many of the dishes on the a la carte can be prepared gluten free.  This might not have been the most adventurous of Foodie Adventures but it was a 'most excellent' adventure and I would certainly recommend Brodies and will be returning.

Here are some of this year’s major events where you could have a foodie adventure or check out the Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight website for more news of what's going on. 

Best of the West Festival 13/14 September
Set on the banks of Loch Fyne this event offers a family friendly day out where visitors can enjoy the very best food from Argyll while sampling some excellent musical performances. For whisky lovers there is the Loch Fyne whisky bar where they can have a dram of the finest refreshment this area has to offer.

Loch Lomond Food and Drink Festival 6/7 September
The festival takes place at the idyllic Loch Lomond Shores and aims to showcase small artisan producers with big personalities. From Scottish chilies to gourmet dog treats this event has it all for food lovers and their four-legged friends!

Huntly Hairst Food and Farming Festival 6/7 September
The small Aberdeenshire town of Huntly has played host to the Huntly Hairst Food and Farming festival for the past 11 years. This event features a farmers’ market where visitors can even get into the competitive spirit by taking part in the annual World Stovie Championship.

City of Elgin Food and Drink Festival 20 September
Elgin’s annual food and drink festival has exciting cookery demonstrations using locally sourced produce, to give visitors ideas and inspiration to spice up their menus at home with the best Scottish fayre.

Dundee Flower and Food Festival 5/6 and 7 September
Last year saw thousands of locals and tourists flock to Camperdown Park for a day full of flowers and food goodies. This year is set to be even bigger with chefs like Nick Nairn and Paul Rankin in the cooking spotlight.

Living Food at Cawdor Castle 20 September
Living Food at Cawdor Castle gives guests a chance to sample the best produce the Highlands has to offer. Set in the picturesque grounds of the castle, this event looks as good as it tastes!

Created to highlight the healthy, locally sourced food and drink available from Scotland’s natural larder the 2014 Fortnight aims to be the biggest yet.

The festival will also act as an excellent introduction to the Scottish Government’s 2015 Year of Food and Drink celebrations.

To learn more about Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight and how you can be involved visit:, like

I was provided with £50 to have a foodie adventure, I was not required to write a good review and all opinions are my own. 

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