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Monthly Archives: January 2013

  • Baking!

    Last year I discovered The Great British Bake Off on the BBC. I stumbled across the programme whilst channel hopping one Tuesday evening and little did I know that this was going to have such an impact on my television viewing. It became my ‘guilty pleasure’. Whilst Rob would be out at five a side football every Tuesday evening, I would come home from the gym and sit with my dinner in front of the best show I had seen for a long time.

    I then decided that I would attempt to bake. Having loved baking as a child (I think mainly because baking meant that I could eat cake mix and lick the bowl) I thought that obviously I would instantly be an amazing baker. This is where I was wrong. I should mention here that I am a creature of structure and organisation and don’t particularly like mess, so you can imagine the surprise on Rob’s face when on returning home from football he found me covered in flour and surrounded by chaos. The result of my cooking ended in very poor looking iced buns.

    I pretty swiftly gave up on the baking (not the show though) until by surprise Rob gave me The Great British Bake Off recipe book. I have to say it did sit on the shelves for a good 3 months before I decided I should even attempt anything but now I have not looked back. I am a baking connoisseur! Each week or every time we have guests over (and by guests, all it takes is one more than Rob and me in the flat) I am baking for their arrival. I started small with cookies, banana and almond loaf and chocolate chilli cake before moving on to slightly more tricky things such as baked cheesecake, pistachio and carrot tray bake and mud pie.

    Loaf Cake Image

    Since starting my baking journey the next series of The Great British Bake Off began again I was hooked. Rob no longer has football on a Tuesday and he too has jumped on the bandwagon! He was even inspired to bake soda bread which was delicious. From this series I have decided to give pastry a go and possibly try some crème caramel! I will of course let you all know how I get on.

    From my experiments so far I have to say that the chocolate chilli cake makes the perfect tea time treat alongside our organic finest orthodox black tea and a cup of our organic peppermint infusion will certainly aid your digestion after a hearty slice of mud pie!

    With my birthday and Christmas over I have new baking tools and books to add to my collection and more baking is taking place than ever. 2013 is going to be a year of baking for me, although I am not sure that my waistline is going to be pleased!

     

    Jubilee Cake Image

     

    Apple Cake Image

    Melissa, January 2013

  • Green Tea and White Tea

    Green tea and white tea both are full of antioxidants making them extremely healthy drinks.

    Some research has shown that green tea drinkers have lower chances of developing heart disease and some cancers. As well as this, green tea has been known to increase metabolic rate, which can aid in weight loss. Green tea has the ability to lower serum glucose, helping to protect against kidney failure. Tests have found that green tea could help improve memory and slow the development of Alzeimer’s disease.

    White tea is made from just the bud, the youngest part of the plant, and therefore contains more antioxidants than black and green teas. It can aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and is a great detox tea! It can provide protection within the body for the skin, helps protect cells from sun damage and minimize the signs of aging. It can help the body’s immune system and is fluoride-rich helping prevent the growth of dental plaque.

    It is important that you brew them correctly in order to enjoy the unique and subtle taste they have.

     

    How to make the perfect cup of Luponde Organic Green and White Tea:

     

    • It is extremely important with white tea and green tea not to pour boiling water straight onto the leaves. This will burn the leaves and will give them a bitter taste

     

    • We recommend you boil your kettle and let it cool for around 10 minutes (or until it is around 80ºC) then pour your water into your teapot or mug with the leaves already in there. You should use around one heaped teaspoon of green tea leaves and a small pinch of white tea leaves (for a 1 litre teapot)

     

    • Then wait. Let the leaves fully infuse for 8-10 minutes and you will get a full flavour and fantastic taste

     

    • You can then reuse your Luponde leaves. Use them up to 5 times that day. Quite often the second or third round will taste the best! If you are using a tea bag you can reuse that up to 3 times.

    Enjoy!

    Luponde's Organic Green TeaLuponde's Organic White Tea

    Melissa, January 2013

  • Jamie Oliver Recipease

    At Jamie Oliver’s Recipease you get the chance to learn from one of his team how to make a selection of his famous dishes. Last night Rob and I embarked upon the American-style green chilli class at the Clapham Junction branch.

    This is where I should let you know that Rob is a superb cook. He loves food, reading recipes and as a way of unwinding in the evening he will happily cook new recipes and try new things. I on the other-hand can cook, but much prefer to bake and certainly don’t find cooking calming like Rob does! This really was a chance for me to learn some new techniques in a fun and chilled out atmosphere - (It probably was also going to help that I had a rather large glass of wine in the pub first!)

    When we arrived we were introduced to our chef Dan, we put our belongings away, washed our hands and put on our aprons. Dan then took us through the first parts of the recipe that we were going to make; the pork chilli and the dough for the flatbreads. Having seen how much chopping there was to do, the injury Chef Dan had from chopping his nail off and my history with a breadknife (another story altogether) we thought it may be safer for Rob to do the chopping and for me to make the flatbreads!

    You work in pairs and have a little cooking station for the both of you with all your ingredients laid out and all the tools you will need. You each get your own hob too! Rob got on with the chopping and I started on the dough.

    The flatbreads could not have been simpler to make and I was rather impressed with how similar my dough turned out to the one Dan had showed us. All they entailed were flour, baking powder, salt, some water and oil. We then included fennel seeds and parsley to give them a unique flavour. Maybe this cooking malarkey could be fun!

    Our Jamie Oliver Flat bread Baking

    Dan came round to each couple and checked on how we were doing, answered questions and gave little tips and facts along the way. He certainly had the ‘Jamie’ style of cooking down to a fine art and his and our dishes did look exactly like the one in Jamie’s book.

    Once the pork chilli was starting to cook and the flatbreads were made, Dan showed us how to make the guacamole (very roughly chopped – not like shop bought ones) and explained how long we should cook the flatbreads for. It was then our turn to follow and then we could eat it!

    Our Jamie Oliver Guacamole

    We decided again that Rob should chop and as I was so proud of my little flatbreads I should cook them. All in all the lesson and cooking took around an hour and then we got half an hour to sit down with our fellow chefs and enjoy the result of all our hard work with a well-earned glass of wine or beer. I have to say that it really was delicious and so simple to do. Following the class they email you the recipe so you can recreate it at home and they also keep the shop open and give you 10% that evening. We certainly will be cooking this for friends and you never know maybe I have found my calling as a bread maker!

    Sams Jamie Oliver Inspired Meal

    I would highly recommend a Recipease class to anyone who either enjoys cooking, wants to learn some simple dishes, or as a party with friends. I have my eye on the Dipping into Chocolate class or the Knife Skills one (so I don’t have any further nasty accidents!) I think we will make this a more regular outing.

    Sam And Rob Make a Jamie Oliver Inspired Dinner

    Melissa, January 2013

     

  • The Spicery - Pickled Pears

    Last year Rob and I discovered little cooking kits from The Spicery. Each small pack contains all the spices you will need to make a certain dish. You then get given instructions on what other ingredients you need to buy and how to make it.

    We were given a few different kits to try and the results have been fantastic. From tandoori chicken, baked rice pudding, hot spiced apple juice and Mexican holy trinity chilli we have not had a bad experience. I am a rice pudding fanatic and I was seriously impressed with the baked vanilla rice pudding.

    They make great gifts and you can pick different kits to go in a gift box or you can subscribe to a monthly spice box.

    As we had some spare time over Christmas, Rob and I decided to try the pickled pears. It was so quick and simple to do and although you need to wait a couple of weeks before you eat them, so that the spices have had time to do their magic, one pear did not quite fit into our jars so we had a cheeky sample! It was scrumptious!

    See below for the recipe and the spices that were included in the kit and give it a go. I can’t wait to eat some of the cheeses we got at Christmas and have these pickled pears on the side.

    - 8 conference pears

    - 600ml white wine vinegar

    - 200g caster sugar

    - a few thin slices of lemon

    - 2 or 3 large jars (sterilised)

    Kit contents: Whole spices - cinnamon stick, root ginger, bay leaf. Pickle spices - allspice berries, juniper berries, mixed peppercorns, dried birds eye chilli

    Method:

    - combine all ingredients except pears with spices in a large pan until sugar has dissolved

    - peel, half and core the pears ( I found a teaspoon very useful for the coring)

    - add pears and simmer for 20 minutes until tender

    - layer the pears in jars and pour over hot vinegar mix including all the spices

    - leave to mature for couple of weeks before eating, they should keep for several months

    Best eaten with cold meats, cheeses, pates or hot roasts.

     

    Pickled Pears Image

    Melissa, January 2013

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