Monday, 15 December 2014

Aldi Christmas Cocktails - My Cranberry & Orange Delight

I was sent some of Aldi's top quality spirits as well as a cocktail making equipment and asked to make a seasonal cocktail.
I chose the Tamova Vodka - awarded a silver medal at the Internal Spirits Competition 2014.

I thought what would be some great Christmas flavours, mmmmm how about cranberry and orange?
To start my cocktail I infused some cranberries cut in half and some orange peel in the vodka for 4-5 days.
Lime goes really well with cranberry and orange and vodka so I put a piece of lime in the cocktail jug and slightly muddled it with the muddler!

When the vodka was infused I poured 100ml of it into the cocktail jug. 
I added cranberry juice (200ml) and fizzy orange (300ml), ice and gave it a good shake.  Strained into a chilled cocktail glass, garnished with a slice of orange and a cocktail stick of cranberries
and watched Mr R's face as he sipped my new Christmas Cocktail - Cranberry & Orange Delight!
I was also send a bottle of Aldi Advocaat - Christmas Day I will be serving the old fashioned Advocaat and Lemonade with a cherry garnish - How decadent will that be!!

I was not paid to write this piece but was sent a hamper of goodies from Aldi. As usual all opinions and photos are my own.







Monday, 8 December 2014

Supper with Ping – Masterchef Winner not a Microwave!

I was invited to attend a SupperClub being held atFoodat52 and hosted by Malaysian Kitchen. Malaysian Kitchen is the portal or vehicle specifically designed to bring Malaysian cuisine to the UK. The SupperClub was superbly cooked and presented by Ping Coombes, Masterchef Winner 2014.

On arrival there was a soft drink bar with loads of different juices, citrus slices and mint leaves to mix our own special juice drink for the evening. I liked the way the glasses were tagged with our names to help us keep track of our drinks.
Ping then invited us downstairs to the cookery school to make the dumplings for the appetiser if we wanted.  I have never made those kind of dumplings and was really looking forward to it.  Ping said mine were looking good as we made the same filling but with two different outer pieces. 
Later on during the meal Ping said that my dumplings were in fact the best of the evening! Such accolade!!
We popped back upstairs to the reception and ate our dumplings whilst the crew set the table and Ping and fellow Masterchef contestant Mike prepared a Malaysian feast for us.
When we settled down at the table we were served a selection of Ping’s favourite Malaysian foods, many from her childhood.

Our starters were Glazed Teriyaki Chicken Hearts,
platters piled high with deep fried, soft shell crabs
and bowls of a sea spinach tempura(Kangkung)with little bowls of red jewelled sauce. 
When the sauce looks this intense red you know it is going to be fiery and it didn’t disappoint!

A little family story is that the anchovies that were served with the Sambal were gutted, filleted, skinned and every little bone removed before being sun-dried all by Ping’s mother and are part of her private supply, not available elsewhere; a true labour of love!
Plates were delivered with Grilled Crevette and Ping’s Special Sambal (this was really fiery but as soon as your mouth recovered you wanted to eat more!), char-grilled bokchoi, peanut and dried anchovy garnish and all but mine with an egg (NasiLemak) on the side. (I don’t do under done eggs!)
Big bowls of rice,
Beef Rendang
and Spiced Chicken were placed around the table and we all helped ourselves, family style.
The conversation was as lively as the food and Ping made a point of stopping to speak to each diner, really pleased that we had all liked her food!
A pudding of White Chocolate and Pandang Cheesecake, Passionfruit, Coconut, Ginger Crumb the perfect dessert to cool the palate and refresh us for the journey home.

I was not paid to attend this Supper Club - all opinions and photos are my own.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Artisan Drinks by Lindy Wildsmith - book review

Just when the weather has turned to proper autumn I got this book to review. Artisan Drinks by Lindy Wildsmith makes me want to go out and forrage and make delicious drinks to keep warm throughout the winter months.

Lindy Wildsmith has written this book to combine freshly harvested ingredients with artisinal techniques and clear step-by-step instructions to take you from the leafy lanes to your winter gatherings with friends.

I have always been a fan of sloe gin and Lindy's recipe for Damson Gin can also be used if you want to substitute sloes.

My sloe gin ready for drinking this winter! Bring it on Mother Nature I shall be ready!!
The pages and photography are clear, clean and easy to read with step-by-step instructions, along with artisinal techniques and storing and keeping hints and tips.

There is an offer for Kitchen Talk readers below:-
To order Artisan Drinks at the discounted price of £20.00 including p&p* (RRP: £25.00), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG236.

*UK ONLY - Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

Artisan Drinks is published by Jacqui Small, you can also find them on Twitter - @JacquiSmallPub

Saturday, 6 December 2014

It's Old El Paso Night!!

I was sent a selection of Old El Paso products to try for fun, quick and easy meals. 

Most people think of Old El Paso as Mexican food but in fact is the more American Tex-Mex cuisine.  This is food that has been an influence to the people living in Texas and other US states that border Mexico bringing into play the spices and styles of food south of the border!

We have long been fans of the hard taco shell but I was sent the new soft shell shape taco.  This is like a little boat base and easier to hold onto when filling and eating than the orginal hard taco shell.
The soft shell tacos come in a box with the seasoning and tomato mix and a sour cream base to mix up.  You need to provide the mince, peppers if you want to fry them with the mince and the cheese.
The mince mixture along side small dishes of grated cheese, lettuce, chopped tomato and Old El Paso guacamole are all you need for a fun – FYO (Fill Your Own) Saturday night supper with the family.  Everyone gets to fill their own with the ingredients they like, win-win!
We are also planning on having the Nachos the next time there is a film on TV we want to watch. Warm them in the oven with grated cheese, pop on a few chopped or sliced jalapeno peppers and serve with a bowl of tangy salsa and one of sour cream. Get a few cold beers from the fridge and settle down to enjoy the film!
The range is getting quite extensive with Burritos, Enchaladas (Mr R’s favourite), Re-fried beans, two new Rice Mixes and load more for that authentic Tex-Mex experience!
We tried one of the new Rice Mixes.  You need to supply chicken breast, pepper, onion and sweet corn and I had some mushrooms to use so added them too.
It has step by step instructions and is really easy to follow.  Brown the chicken pieces first, add the onion, pepper and sweet corn (and mushrooms if using).  Add the seasoned rice packet.
After 2 minutes add the creamy sauce, spice mix sachet and 350ml of water.
That's all you need to do, let it cook for a further 10 minutes and serve with wedges of Little Gem lettuce and your favourite dressing and you have a great, mid-week, quick and tasty meal.

We had some family for the weekend and after spending the day in St Albans shopping on a really cold and wintery day we wanted something warm for supper but it had to be quick.

I started with Nachos, ready in under 15 minutes.
The kit comes complete with nachos and salsa, only needing some cheddar cheese grated to finish it off.
For our main meal we had Enchiladas. The box suggests using just chicken breast.
I wanted to bulk out the filling and added an orange pepper thinly sliced, two sticks of celery also thinly sliced, a can of kidney beans and a can of white kidney beans.
Everyone loves the Enchiladas. I bought the family size (12 tortillas) and there was only one left for Mr R to take to work on Monday!
I was not paid to try these products and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Cicchetti Covent Garden - Restaurant Review

Following the success of San Carlo Cicchetti  in Manchester the third London restaurant has opened in Wellington Street, Covent Garden in London. In partnership with Chef Aldo Zilli they are offering a truly luxurious selection of plates of food, designed to please the palate of any Italian cuisine lover.
Cicchetti (pronounced chi-KET-tee) are small dishes typically served in cicchetti bars in Venice, designed to be shared with friends.

I was invited by Aldo Zilli to review the Wellington Street restaurant and took my friend Aggie with me as my +1.
We were welcomed and promised to be looked after by Head of Front of House, Norlys, the only non-Italian member of staff.  He is from Cuba and really entertained us and looked after us.  Did we want to order from the menu or would we like them to just bring us a selection.  As long as there was no goat’s cheese I was happy to have their suggestions.

Initially we were served a bowl of olives, tapenade and a selection of breads to nibble as well as a Bellini cocktail (Prosecco and peach puree).

This was followed by mini deep fried mozzarella balls, lots of small sun blushed tomatoes, parma ham and buffata soft and creamy mozzarella and a baby tomato bruschetta.

A crisp white wine kept flowing whilst we had a selection of lovely little plates of really tasty food such as:-
Pumpkin risotto topped with a fine parmesan crisp and presented with slivers of white truffle.
Halibut pan fried and served on a bed of samphire and sun blushed tomatoes.
King Tiger Prawn sautéed in garlic and chilli.
Crispy, thin slices of deep fried courgette.
Then a lobster tail on a bed of taglietellini.  The flavours of this were so intense, although a bit too salty for me, and I do like salty.
We were by this time feeling really full when a wooden platter of mini desserts were placed on our table. Mini versions of panna cotta, mille fuille, chocolate ganache and a hazelnut cream mousse.
A coffee and a Mirto Liqueur (a traditional myrtle liqueur from Sardinia – licore de murta), strong, dark purple colour with a fruity, herby taste. The first sip was a killer but subsequent sips started to grow on you!!

Aggie and I left with the promise that we would be back one day soon.  It was a really lovely meal although the room was a tad too dark for my photos to do the food justice.  This seems to be the norm in restaurants these days.

I was invited to review Cicchetti and was not paid to do so. As usual all opinions and photographs are my own.