Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Happy Christmas!

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas! This is The Best Christmas Pudding I Have Ever Tasted soaked in brandy and set on fire, it was just as good as I hoped it would be!Thanks to everyone who has supported my blog by reading it and leaving comments over the last year, you're what keeps this blog going.... Happy new year everybody!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Christmas gift ideas

A couple of weeks ago Nick from challenged me to find a really great gift for foodies. The challenge was broad, I could choose anything at all from coffee machines to waffle irons, pots and pans to food hampers, I even considered a hot dog rotisserie although I came to my senses and quickly abandoned that idea! So what did I choose?

Eventually after much thought and trawling the web I settled on a genuine Italian Imperia pasta machine. You might be thinking it's an odd choice, you quite likely have a pasta machine long forgotten at the back of a cupboard probably next to the bread machine and the smoothie maker. I decided to go for a pasta machine quite simply because I love pasta, it's proabaly my favourite food of all and I like the idea of being able to make my own. It also allows me to be creative, I have plans to try flavoured pasta such as tomato or spinach or herbs.For the first test run of the pasta machine I went for the simple option, I wanted the pasta to be the star of the dish and not so much the sauce, although of course it still had to be delicious! So my old friend and standby pasta carbonara it was.

The pasta machine can make four different types of pasta with the attachment I have (you can buy different attachments for ravioli, fusili etc), lasagna, papardelle, tagliatelle and linguine, I chose tagliatelle this time around.Making the pasta was much easier than I expected it to be, once you've made the dough (just flour, eggs and salt) you simply pass it through the rollers progressively rolling it thinner and thinner until it is as thin as you want it the put it through the cutters and out comes beautiful fresh pasta!
Pasta carbonara, find the recipe here.

I was really very impressed with the Imperia pasta machine and think it would make a great gift for food lovers, especially if they love Italian food like I do! What do you think of my choice? What would your perfect foodie Christmas gift be?

Of course no pasta dish would be complete without wine! are offering £15 off a £50 spend here. My thanks go to for setting the challenge and providing the pasta machine. Thanks!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A Merry Christmas Tray from Interflora

I have been very fortunate recently to have been sent lots of yummy things to review, last week I received a fantastic selection of Christmas goodies from none other than Interflora - the flower people.It was a revelation to me that Interflora did anything other than flowers but having sampled a selection of their food in the form of a Merry Christmas Tray I can honestly say I was impressed. I was sent both red and white wine, mince pies, choc chunk and orange oat biscuits, fudge, amaretto flutes, mixed fruit and nuts and a Miniature Christmas cake.

The tray came really well packed in a black cardboard box, in fact it was so well packed I had trouble getting it out! The good news once I'd found a way in was that everything was in perfect condition inside and really well presented too.

I haven't managed to try everything thing yet but I can report that the fudge is wonderfully rich and buttery, a quick glance at the ingredients revealed that it contained only real butter with no margarine or vegetable oil in sight - something I was exceptionally pleased about.

The mince pies were particularly good too, according to the box they are hand made and I think it makes a difference. The pastry was delicate and flaky with good flavour and most importantly of all there was plenty of mincemeat filling. The wine and cake are being saved for Christmas day, at least they are if I can resist them that long!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Christmas puddings, the best I have ever tasted!

This year stir it up Sunday fell on the 22nd of November, that's the day when traditionally everyone makes their Christmas puddings with all the members of the family taking turns to stir it up! In typically disorganised fashion I missed the 22nd by almost two weeks but I always make the puddings and this year was no different, I was just a bit late!
Stir it up!

Christmas pudding can be a bit heavy and hard to eat especially if you try to eat it right after Christmas dinner like we always do in my family, in my search for the perfect pudding I've tried lots of different recipes in the past some better than others. The most successful was a recipe from Riverford Organics called The best Christmas pudding I have ever tasted, with a name like that I had high expectations, thankfully it didn't let me down.

Like a lot of traditional British puddings Christmas puddings are cooked by steaming, the mixture is spooned into a pudding basin, covered tightly and placed in a pan of simmering water (lid on) and steamed for two to three hours. If you have never made a steamed pudding before it can be a bit daunting but it's really very easy, once you've made your mixture you can just leave them gently simmering while you go and do other things. Just don't let the pan boil dry!
The puddings waiting to be steamed, I won't see them again until Christmas day.

I wouldn't say that this makes a 'light' pudding but it is lighter than normal, it's also sweet, fruity, boozy and delicious. I changed the recipe slightly by switching some of the raisins and sultanas for dried apricots, you could use all kinds of dried fruits, cherries, cranberries or figs would be good. You could also add nuts such as walnuts or pecans, the recipe is really flexible.

The great thing about making Christmas puddings is that they keep almost indefinitely, in fact the flavour gets better over time so the earlier you make them the better!

Find the recipe here.