Friday, 28 November 2008

An amazing day at the BBC Good Food Show, part 1

The BBC Good Food Show is nothing short of heaven for a foodie like me. With hundreds of exhibitors, plenty of free samples, cookery demonstrations and more celebrity chefs than you can shake a big pointy stick at, for food lovers The Good Food Show is THE place to be.
When show sponsor Miele (pronounced mealer, I'm told), the people at and 1000heads sent me an invitation to the show with a VIP pass I had to think about it for all of a nanosecond before saying yes please! A group of food bloggers from the UK were invited, in no particular order they were:
Becky - Girl Interrupted Eating
Francesca - 101 Things
Nicola - Cherrapeno
Katie - Apple and Spice
Anne - Anne's Kitchen
Joanna - Joanna's Food
Here we all are posing in front of the Meile stand!

My day started at 5.30 in the morning as I had an early train to catch. Once I arrived I met up with the other bloggers and my hosts for the day, Colin, Kaz, Juliette and Molly then it was into the show!

Before lunch we had some time to explore, we ate and drank our way around the free samples admiring what was on offer and chatting to the producers. The scale of the place was breathtaking, with over 600 stands it was hard to know where to begin!

Doves farm had an interesting selection of bread mixes, flour and cakes. Although I don't often use prepared mixes I couldn't resist the Ezekiel bread mix, apparently it's inspired by the prophet himself!
Munchy seeds were selling a fantastic selection of flavoured roasted seeds, the vanilla pumpkin seeds were especially good.
I'll admit it was the name that attracted me to the Grumpy Mule Coffee stand but their coffee was fantastic, some of the best I've ever had.
It wasn't just food on offer, there was some fantastic cooking equipment too.
Do I make myself clear!? A very coulourful selection of liquorice.

Coming up in part 2, I have a fantastic VIP lunch, meet James Martin and watch Gordon Ramsay do his thing in the supertheatre.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Crème fraîche

Crème fraîche is a delicious soured cream from France that is made using a bacterial culture added to fresh cream. It is similar to regular sour cream although much thicker and richer with a fat content of around 30%.

Crème fraîche is an incredibly versatile ingredient which is fast becoming a favourite in my kitchen. You can use it as a dip or dollop it on top of a bowl of chilli, it's also delicious served alongside fresh berries or as an alternative to cream with any dessert.

One of my favourite ways to use
crème fraîche is as a pasta sauce. I add it to hot pasta with some herbs, a few vegetables, parmesan and maybe some bacon or smoked salmon and hey presto! a delicious meal in under 20 minutes.
I made this pasta dish using crème fraîche, bacon, chopped fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and parmesan (in other words whatever I could find in the fridge!) It was very quick and really tasty.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Super nutritious walnut and seed bread

Sylvie over at A Pot Of Tea And A Biscuit has tagged me to bake bread as part of the worldwide blogger bakeoff. I love baking bread and as this was for a good cause too I was more than willing to participate.Breadline Africa is a charity that is working to put an end to poverty in Africa by helping communities help themselves. The aim is that the communities will become self sustaining and therefore require no further aid.

On Blog Action Day, Breadline Africa launched their Worldwide Blogger Bake-Off campaign. The aim is to raise $1 million in funds for a project to convert shipping containers into locations for food production and distribution in Africa. It is hoped that these sustainable community kitchens will not only provide food such as bread and soup to those in need, but also opportunities for skills development within poor communities.

So how does it work?
My submission for the bake-off is my super nutritious walnut and seed bread. Not only does this bread taste really good but it is really nutritious too!Soft light and full of flavour it is particuarly good with cheese of for dunking in soup.I'm not going to tag anyone in particular, if you've read this consider yourself tagged! Go on you know you want to join in!
150g Strong wholemeal bread flour.

350g Strong white bread flour.

1 7g Sachet of instant yeast.

2 Tsp brown sugar.

1 Tsp Salt.

30g Each of crushed walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

2 Tbsp olive oil.

300ml Warm water.

2 Tbsp olive oil.
Prepare a baking sheet by lightly dusting with flour or lining with baking paper.

In a large bowl mix the two flours together.

Add the yeast, salt, sugar, walnuts and seeds and mix everything together.

Make a well in the centre and add the oil and warm water.

Gradually incorporate the flour into the water and work into a dough. Knead for a good 10 minutes. (if it's too wet or dry and this point add a little more flour or water, it should feel just slightly sticky)

Cover the dough with a place of oiled cling-film and leave in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to gas 6/200c/400f.

After the dough has doubled in size knock it back and knead for a minute more, shape into a round and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and leave to double in size once more.

When the dough has doubled bake for around 30 minutes or until golden.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Classic chocolate brownies

It's surprisingly hard to find a recipe for classic, ordinary, plain chocolate brownies. There are loads of recipes for fancy super-duper all singing, all dancing brownies. As good as they may be I wanted a basic version and this recipe from GoodFood is just that.

It's everything you could want from a brownie. Soft and gooey in the middle and just slightly chewy on the outside with an intense chocolate flavour, best served still warm with cream.

Recipe here.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Energy food challenge - Banana chocolate flapjacks

Last May I cycled along the Camino De Santiago route across Spain, 550 miles in all including two mountain ranges. On the very first day we had 14 miles of non-stop uphill.

A long way up!

You're probably thinking, what's this got to do with food? Well Hopie over at hopie's kitchen has laid down an energy food challenge. Her Mum is preparing to cycle 109 miles to raise money for research into blood cancers. Nearly 1 million Americans are suffering from some form of blood cancer and each year 53,000 die, I'm sure you'll agree it is a very worthy cause. Naturally cycling all that way will require a lot of energy. Hopie's chalenge is to create a recipe for energy food, whether it is a main meal, snack or drink. I thought back to my time cycling in spain, the food that powered us up all those hills was flapjacks. They are ideal for cycling with as they easily be stuffed into a bag or pocket without coming to too much harm and are packed with energy, not to mention how delicious they are!

My entry for this challenge is flapjacks, but no ordinary flapjacks. I made Chocolate covered banana, honey and walnut flapjacks! The banana flavour comes through really well, it also helps keep the flapjacks soft and moist. Honey and walnuts just seemed a good idea and what can't be improved by chocolate?I am very pleased with how these turned out, this is exactly the kind of food I like to take with me when I go on long bike rides.

Chocolate covered banana, honey and walnut flapjacks

These delicious flapjacks are packed with energy!

See Chocolate covered banana, honey and walnut flapjacks on Key Ingredient.

Enter the energy food challenge here. Get your entries in before the 22nd November!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Brown sugar mincemeat cake

Yesterday was very very wet, according to the local paper we have already had more rainfall than we're supposed to get for the whole month! Definitely not a day for doing anything outside. Instead I got creative in the kitchen and came up with this mincemeat cake.
Despite it's name mincemeat contains no meat (although it used to) but is a delicious combination of dried fruits, spices, sugar, suet, apples and brandy. It's most common use is the traditional Christmas mince pie, but it also makes delicious crumbles and cakes.As we're approaching Christmas a mincemeat cake seemed appropriate, I also had all the ingredients on hand which meant no getting wet going to the shops! I used dark muscovado sugar for this recipe as the flavour is fantastic but any brown sugar will work.Ingredients:

3oz/75g Butter
3oz/75g Muscovado or other brown sugar
2 Eggs
4oz/100g Self raising flour
4oz/100g Mincemeat
4oz/100g Sultanas, raisins or other dried fruit
Sugar crystals to sprinkle on top (optional)


Preheat the oven to gas 4/180c/350f and grease an 8 inch circular cake tin.

In a large bowl cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.

Next beat in the eggs.

Fold in the flour until well mixed.
Add the mincemeat and dried fruit to the mixture and gently mix.

Pour the mixture into the greased tin, sprinkle with sugar crystals (if using) and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until a skewer comes out clean.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Random things and an award!

It's been all quiet on the tagging/award front for a while then two come along at once!

First up Camille of Croque-Camille wants to know six random things about me. It took some thought but here goes...

!. I have personally met the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was very nice and gave me ice cream!

2. I once cycled 120 miles from London to the sea, as if that isn't mad enough I did it through the night!

3. I absolutely love coffee and probably drink a good 10 cups a day, not good I know...

4. I have never travelled outside Europe, I would love to visit New York someday.

5. I'm a complete wimp when it comes to spicy food, I only like it if it's very mild.

6. I have a pet cat called Foxie. Apparently he looks like a fox, I can't see it myself but I didn't name him!

There were some rules for this tag:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

I would like to pass this tag onto:

Hopies kitchen
A pot of tea and a biscuit
Jam and clotted cream
Mrs W's kitchen

An award!
Next up an award. I received the E for excellent award from the wonderful Hopies kitchen, I'm touched!

I would like to pass this award on to:

Cherrapeno, I've been following this blog for a while, I love the recipes and the photos are amazing!

And also to FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD!, a British blog that I really enjoy reading

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Greek style roast cod

I'm not really sure what's "Greek" about this dish, it seems more Italian style to me, but then I didn't name it! What I do know is that it's delicious, it contains some of my all-time favourite ingredients, fresh basil, sun dried tomatoes and black olives.
To make it I sliced some potatoes and red onions and layered them in a baking dish. I then poured over a stock made from the basil and sun dried tomatoes blended to a paste and mixed with boiling water. This was poured over the potatoes which I then baked for half an hour.

Once the potatoes were cooked they had become infused with a the flavour of basil and tomato and smelt wonderful!

Finally I sprinkled the potatoes with chopped black olives, laid my fish on top each with a slice of lemon then baked it for a further 10 minutes.
One of the great things about this recipe is that it only uses one pot and I'm all for less washing up!

I should point out that although the original recipe calls for Cod I actually used a type of fish called Coley which is very similar. Not only is Coley more sustainable and not over fished like Cod, it is also substantially cheaper. I really can't taste much difference between them and I certainly reccomend it as an alternative. Another fish you could try is Pollock which is also very cheap and really tasty.

The original recipe is by Silvana Franco and can be found here.