“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year Party Picks Recipes | Jamie Oliver

New Year Party Picks Recipes | Jamie Oliver

Try some of these if you're entertaining tonight!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Recent Nibbles

Here's a post that fell by the wayside in May! -- jeff

Recently popped down to Hastings for a day, and stopped in for lunch at Fagin's Diner at the end of George St. in the Old Town. 

 The food was pretty darn great for the money!

I had the prawn baguette which was massive for £4.

Laura had the veggie burger.

No shortage of condiments!

This is a kids' meal! Unbelievable - it comes with a juice and an ice cream and it's only £6.

Christmas Crumble

Lorraine Bowen, David Walliams' "Golden Buzzer Act" in 2014's Britain's Got Talent (which ought to be called Britain Has Talent if we are being grammatically correct), won over the nation at the time by performing a song about Crumble, and has now brought out a Christmas version for us all to enjoy. The song is huge and deserves to be the Christmas No. 1. Don't believe how huge it is? Just look up "Christmas Crumble" on YouTube and see the sheer quantity of Christmas Crumble fan videos. Seriously.

Anyhoo, in my other job as host of my Into The Unknown podcast, I've played several of Lorraine's tunes over the course of the last year. I love her quirky style and offbeat humour, but as a food blogger, I am trying to find out exactly what goes into a Christmas Crumble.While I do that, watch this video where Lorraine details how to do the Christmas Crumble Dance.

Here's a recipe I found, by James Tanner:

Christmas Crumble

3 rhubarb stems

2 tbsp light muscovado sugar

1 orange, juice only

pinch ground cinnamon

55g/2oz plain flour

pinch ground mixed spice

2 tbsp finely chopped butter

1 tbsp caster sugar

Preparation method

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

Trim and peel the rhubarb. Cut the rhubarb into chunks and place into a pan over a medium heat.

Add the light muscovado sugar, orange juice and cinnamon. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender but still holding its shape.

Meanwhile, sieve the flour and mixed spice into a bowl.

Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the caster sugar and stir to combine.

Transfer the stewed rhubarb to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over a thin, even layer of the crumble topping.

Transfer the crumble to the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the topping is cooked through and lightly golden-brown.
Serve with custard or cream.

There's also Mary Berry's Winter Crumble Tart recipe here.

And here's my variation, a good way to use up any leftover mincemeat you have from making mince pies!

Jeff's Christmas Apple Crumble

For the crumble
35g rolled oats
35g wholemeal flour
20g caster sugar
35g butter

For the filling
400g cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
50g sugar, to sweeten
1 tablespoon water


Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Peel and core the apples, quarter and cut into small chunks or slices.

Put the apples and sugar into a small ovenproof dish. Depending on how much leftover mincemeat you have, place small spoonfuls evenly in between the apple.

Place the flour and oats in a bowl and mix well. Cut the butter into small cubes and add this to the oats and flour. Mix with your fingertips until it resembles an even crumb texture. Add the sugar and mix through. 

Cover the fruit with the crumble mixture. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the crumble is golden and the apple hot.

Serve with custard, cream or ice cream, or even brandy butter if you like!

N.B. For our overseas cousins who are perhaps unfamiliar with mincemeat, here's an overview.

Mincemeat is a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits and spices, and sometimes beef suet, beef, or venison. Originally, mincemeat always contained meat. Many modern recipes contain beef suet, though vegetable shortening is sometimes used in its place. Variants of mincemeat are found in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, northern Europe, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is highly unusual for mincemeat these days to contain any actual meat. Here's a recipe to make your own, but it's easier to nip out and pick up a jar or two.

900 g cooking apples, grated
700 g raisins
350 g currants
225 g sultanas
100 g mixed peel
175 g margarine
1/2 tsp mixed spice
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 lemons, grated zest
680 g granulated sugar
8 tbsp brandy

Soak the apples, raisins, sultanas and currants in the brandy and lemon juice for 1 hr until plumped up, then drain and set the brandy aside. Mix all the ingredients together, then pour in the brandy when everything else is well mixed. Spoon and press into sterilised jars, to exclude any air (the easiest way to sterilise jars is to run them through a dishwasher on its hottest setting). Cover and leave for at least a fortnight. Will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Jamie Oliver's got a wonderful Apple-Crumble-flavoured cocktail recipe... right here.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Kooshti Sante!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Epic Chocs

We all like chocolates, right? And Christmas-- which is only 32 days away, in case you didn't know-- is a time for stuffing one's face with all kinds of yummy food and then collapsing in front of the telly and eating chocs, especially ones that we have been given as prezzies.

We also know that buying locally made items from locally owned businesses is an epic way of keeping your money in the local economy rather than buying  from big chains and the money going to their offshore bank accounts.

What could be better, then, than EPIC LOCALLY HANDMADE CHRISTMAS CHOCS from A LOCALLY OWNED business? Not much, that's for damn sure.

So let's talk about Truffles At Coco, Tenterden's one and only chocolate shop, and their amazing Christmas chocolate selection!




These things, which are NOT Buttons...


More bars...

And of course, their incredible truffles!

Oh, and before I forget to mention - they do espresso, too! So go and pick out some truly unique Christmas Choccies for the ones you love while sipping on a steaming latte. BOOM. What more is there to life?

Address: 128 High St, Tenterden TN30 6HT
Phone: 01580 763501

They're not online, but give them a ring! They're lovely people! (Oh, and they ship too - ask them for details).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jamie's Italian - Bluewater

I've been a big fan of Jamie Oliver ever since the early days of "The Naked Chef". So naturally the first time I went to Bluewater and noticed he had a restaurant there, Jamie's Italian,  I've wanted to go. Now I'm not uber-keen on Bluewater or shopping malls in general - I find them a bit claustrophobic when they're busy, because people just don't care whether they walk into you or not, they're walking in a straight line and if you don't dodge out of their way, well it's your own damn fault. Not to mention the sensory overload from all the stuff, the stuff, the stuff!

But Bluewater has one saving grace, at least for me. It has a ton of nice places to eat - Wahaca, Loch Fyne, Yo! Sushi, Leon, Giraffe, Carluccio's, Ed's Easy Diner, ASK Italian, Five Guys (yes, Five Guys has made it across the pond), and loads more. Frankly, if it wasn't for that fact, I wouldn't bother going, because it's a long way to go from where I live. However...

Like I said, we went to Jamie's Italian, but the reason we went there is because I had signed up a good while ago to the Jamie's Italian Gold Club. I got a little golden card with my name on it in the post and that has lain dormant in my wallet since I received it. Because of this membership, I get emails every once in a while with new offers, new menu items etc. most of which I tend to ignore simply because I know I'm not going there any time soon and I refuse to tease myself in that way.

The other week I received just such a missive containing a birthday offer for me. I won't spoil the surprise by saying what was in it. Follow along with the story.

We rolled up at Jamie's around noon and I showed them my Gold Club card as we went in. As soon as I gave the card to Eduardo, our waiter, he quickly procured a free appetiser each, the Porcini Mushroom Arancini. Lovely little balls of mushroomy rice breaded and deep-fried, then placed in a nice dollop of a creamy white sauce with snippets of parsley.

Rosie trying the Arancini. 

Then came the good bit. As promised in my email, because it was nearly my birthday, along came an ice cold bottle of Prosecco and four glasses, free, gratis, and on the house.

Amy sampling the booze.
We then ordered our food. Laura opted for the Italian Burger Juicy prime British beef with mortadella, balsamic onions, tomato, provolone, pickles & chillies, it says in the menu. She opted for it without mortadella as she's not big on smoked meats or cold cuts. Personally, I would have kept it in. I believe in no substitutions in a restaurant. I want to try it the way it was intended to be. But no matter. With fries it was £13.95 but it was a big burger, to be fair.

Amy ordered the Margherita pizza (£8.50) which was so long it hung over the edge of the table.

For Rosie, we ordered her the Chicken lollipops from the kids' menu. Grilled chicken pieces on wooden skewers accompanied by hedgehog potatoes (four hot baked new potatoes coated in butter with little nutty sprinkles on top) and a salad in a jar with dressing on the side, so you can add the dressing to the jar, close the lid and shake it up. Rosie, of course, being three years old, decided to just deconstruct everything and that's OK. She was happy.

I was unsure what to get because it all looked so damn good, but I finally plumped for the Squid & Mussel Spaghetti Nero. It looks freaky-deaky but tastes amazing.

The black colour comes from adding squid ink to the spaghetti.
In addition, we ordered two sides to share:

Polenta Chips

Funky Chips, which come with a sliver of garlic and a sprinkle of rosemary

So there we were, stuffed to the gills and getting happily tiddly on Prosecco. Prosecco, of course, does not last long between three adults, so I ordered a pint of Jamie's Draught beer. Nice stuff.

Just when we thought we couldn't fit any more delicious grub into our fat tums, out came this...

Let's face it, Jamie's italian, despite being a chain restaurant, is pretty darn cool. Even the restrooms are equipped with fantastic old-fashioned Thomas Crapper toilets!

As we were sitting there I looked up at the shelves to see that the Prosecco we were drinking was £17 a bottle, and we had a free one!

All in all I cannot find fault with this place. However, I do recommend signing up to the Gold Club because you get a free appetizer when you show it, and the birthday Prosecco was a wonderful added bonus. In the end, we paid £52 for a meal that would have cost £75 without the Gold card.

 I really wish I could have stayed there all afternoon. Eduardo really did a fantastic job of looking after us, and I cannot wait till next time.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Just Punkin' Around

Well folks, tomorrow being Halloween I suspect that those of you who participate in the annual candy overload fest will have already carved your pumpkins and put your decorations out. Me, I'm doing mine tonight. We popped over to a local pumpkin patch last week and found our pumpkins - we got five (one for Laura and myself, one for Josh, one for Ewan, one for Rosie and one to turn into a pie). I've seen some pretty creative carvings via the internet - here's my personal favorite...

Simple yet effective.
 One of the questions that always arises when it's time to carve pumpkins is - what can I do with the guts? I always separate the seeds and then roast them with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil - but the squishy guts always gets binned. Being a person who loathes waste, I always wondered what I could do with the squishy bits instead of just chucking them.

Well, the other day I was wandering around on the Instructables website looking for recipes for homemade liqueurs - sloe gin and suchlike. What I found was an amazing-looking recipe for a pumpkin liqueur using the pumpkin guts. Put simply it just involves separating the seeds out, placing the squishy stuff into a bowl and microwaving to extract more of the moisture, putting in a blender and whizzing until smooth, then simmering the resulting juice over a low/medium heat with appropriate spices added (cinnamon, clove etc.), reducing the mixture by half, then when it's cooled,  adding vodka and water. Here's the link to the full instructions...


And here's the full gen on how to juice the pumpkin innards.


What could be interesting is trying with one of the different coloured varieties of pumpkin and seeing what that does to the coulour and taste.

And of course, here's a recipe for that fabulous pie we love so much.

For a 20cm tart tin

For the pastry:

170g plain flour
Pinch of salt
100g cold butter
2tbsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk

For the pie filling:

1 small culinary pumpkin or medium butternut squash
145g maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves (or 5 cloves, ground)
3 tbsp golden rum (optional)
2 large eggs, beaten
150ml evaporated milk

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Cut pumpkin or squash in half or quarters depending on the size, and scoop out the seeds and fibres inside. Place skin-side up in a roasting dish with a couple of tablespoons of water. Roast for about half an hour, until tender.

2. Keeping the oven on, take the pumpkin out and leave to cool slightly, then peel off the skin, and scoop the flesh into a food processor. Whizz until smooth, then put into a fine sieve or piece of muslin suspended over a bowl and drain for at least an hour.

3. Meanwhile, make your pastry. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, stir in the salt, then grate in the butter. Rub in using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir through the sugar. Mix the egg yolk with 2 tbsp iced water, and sprinkle half over the mixture, then stir together with a knife until it comes together in a paste – add a little more liquid if necessary.

4. Bring the mixture together with your fingertips, and then roll out on a floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin. Use it to line a 20cm tart tin. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

5. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans, and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the base is pale golden. Remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 180C.

6. Meanwhile, put 250g pumpkin purée in a large bowl, discarding the excess liquid, and stir in the maple syrup, rum if using, and spices. Taste for sweetness, then mix in the eggs. Gradually stir in the evaporated milk until you have a thick, creamy consistency – you may not need it all. Pour into the pastry case.

7. Bake for about 40 minutes, checking from half an hour onwards, until the filling is set, but still slightly wobbly in the centre. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before serving.

Happy Halloween!

Name This Food: Keen-wah!

Well, folks, it had to happen eventually.

Remember last time on Name This Food! when I asked you what this was?

Well, silly me, I had clean forgotten that I'd already asked you about this particular foodstuff before, albeit with a different picture.

See, it comes in all different colours. It's Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium),a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the true grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds.

Here's the link to the previous article....

And here's a recipe for...



2 chicken breasts split (bone-in, skin off or on, either one works)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in large dice
1 package quinoa (about 1 cup)
2-4 tablespoons fresh basil
1/4 large red onion, diced VERY small
salt & pepper
1/2 cup olive oil, to use in 3 places
3 tablespoons mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
optional: handful of dried cranberries or raisins
optional: handful of toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 400. Coat chicken with olive oil then sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Do the same for the sweet potatoes. Put them on one large baking sheet or two medium size sheets. Bake for 35 minutes, until chicken is golden on outside and juices run clear. Flip potatoes halfway through; they’re done when the edges look brown and the inside is soft. When the chicken is cooked, let it sit for another 5 minutes before cutting into bite-size pieces (whatever that is for your brood.)

While the chicken and sweet potatoes are in the oven, prepare the quinoa. 

Then make the mustard sauce. It’s mostly mustard and the main job is to add flavor. If your family doesn’t like mustard definitely don’t add it. But do put in some flavor element that’s usually a hit; for example, if your crew enjoys curry, that would be a delicious way to go (use coconut milk and curry powder). I use a 2-cup glass measuring cup with a spout so I can pour it out easily. Into the cup, mix mustard, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, diced onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

Put everything together into a big serving bowl: sweet potatoes, chicken, quinoa, mustard sauce. Mix gently and top with any combination of fresh basil, cranberries, toasted almond slivers, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Source: Foodlets.com

And how about some ALMOND CRANBERRY QUINOA COOKIES? Just in time for the holiday season!

Makes about 2 dozen


1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered unsalted almonds


Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, both sugars, and honey in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and extracts; beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in quinoa, oats, cranberries, and almonds. Spoon dough in 2-tablespoon portions onto prepared sheets, spacing 1" apart.
Bake cookies until golden, 12-15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. DO AHEAD: Store cooled cookies airtight at room temperature for 1 day, or freeze for up to 1 month.

So... what's next?


Monday, May 18, 2015

Name This Food! - Kransekake

So last time on The Food Of I asked you what this food is...

It's Kransekake (literally wreath cake) which is a traditional Danish (kransekage) and Norwegian (kransekake/kransekaka/tårnkake/-kaka (tower cake)) confection, usually eaten on special occasions such as weddings, baptisms, Christmas, or New Year's Eve.

The one pictured above is a pretty straightforward one, but some of them can get outrageous!

Kransekake take the form of a series of concentric rings of cake, layered on top of each other in order to form a steep-sloped cone shape—often 18 or more layers—stuck together with white icing. Kransekake cake rings are made with almonds, sugar, and egg whites.The ideal kransekake is hard to the touch, yet soft and chewy.

A variant used at weddings is called overflødighedshorn (horn of plenty) and is shaped like a cornucopia and filled with chocolates, cookies, and other small treats. Sometimes a bottle of wine or akvavit is placed in the center, and the cake is decorated with ornaments such as crackers and flags.

So how does one go about making it? So glad you asked. My friend Lorraine Elliott over at Not Quite Nigella has a good recipe right here.

Get yourself some of these Kransekake forms.

You can buy them here. amazon.com/Norpro-3273-Nonstick-Kransekake-Forms/dp/B0001LVGX8

Here's a how-to video...

Anyhoo, that's Kransekake for you. And now it just remains for me to ask you this question...

Name This Food!


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