Thursday, 5 March 2015

Mexico - Live It To Believe It - Masterclasses at The Savoy

Mexico calls to me every year when we think where we will go for our holiday.  In 2005 I was visiting my cousin with my children who lives near San Diego California. We drove down into Mexico, through Tijuana and further down the Baja for about half an hour to Rosarita Beach.  That was my first introduction to Mexico and although short but sweet I hanker after a longer, more in depth visit one day.

The Mexican food most people think of is really tex-mex inventions to feed the hungry around the Texas-Mexico boarders.  The reality of Mexican cuisine is a fascinating, diverse and evolving culinary excitement and 2015 being the Year of Mexico in the UK means there will be a lot of educating the public on just what Mexican cuisine means.

I was invited to spend the day at The Savoy in London, attending a series of Masterclasses on Mexican food and drink.
Luis Feria, Head Barista at Cafe Cobalto in Mexico City showed us how to make the perfect cup of coffee whilst Pedro Guzman, Coffee Director at Cafe Cobalto in Mexico City took us on a coffee journey, the importance of the history of coffee in Mexico, it's not just the landscape and the coffee bean but keeping the families together with a coffee culture which started in 1740 in Mexico.
Casa Cuervo sent us this lovely and passionate lady to introduce us to tequila. Her knowledge and passion for this drink was inspirational.  She told us about the blue agave cactus used to make tequila and that it is protected with a DOC (designation of origin). But the biggest thing for me was learning how to drink tequila! I will go more into detail in a future post on tequila to come.
I really enjoyed the masterclass given by Benito Molina whose restaurant, Restaurante Manzanilla is in Ensenada on the Baja Peninsula and whose menu is full of fresh and innovative sea foods.  I was able to interview Benito during a break and will be posting about this later as well!
Pablo Salas told us how he makes his own flavoured vinegars to use in his restaurant Amaranta in Toluca de Lerda and how he is committed to showcasing local and cultural recipes of Mexico including his Carpaccio de manitas de cerdo - Pigs' trotters to you and me!!  We got to taste his creation and it was certainly delicious and unusual.
There were further workshops talking about Mexican wine, cooking with herbs, introduction to Mezcal and more.  The day was informative and educating and very interesting.

My favourite moment was learning how to drink tequila - who knew it was such a nice drink with interesting background flavours and tastes!!

2015 is the Year of mexico in the UK - keep your eyes open for loads of fun and education going on in London over the coming months.

I was an invited guest at the Mexican Masterclass and was not paid to write a review.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Sipsmith's Cocktail Challenge - Blackberry & Apple Gin Fizz

I have been asked by unearthed® and Sipsmith to participate in a cocktail challenge with Sipsmith gin, a London Dry Gin that is smooth, full of character and explodes with flavour.  To make my original cocktail I need to start with Sipsmith's gin and mine was made with blackberries from my allotment!
Sipsmith Blackberry & Apple Fizz

Into a cocktail shaker pour:-

50ml Sipsmiths gin
25ml homemade blackberry gin or blackberry vodka
2 slices of red apple
2 blackberries from the blackberry gin or vodka
Crushed ice

Shake for 30-45 seconds

Add 100ml Appletise or other fizzy apple drink

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been dipped into blackberry juice and sugar

Garnish with one large ice cube with a blackberry inside and a slice of red apple (not peeled)
Serve and enjoy. This recipe made enough for two glasses. I liked the first glass so much I drank them both - Don't tell Mr R!!
I was sent a mini unearthed and Sipsmith Gin starter kit. I was not paid to write any positive things about either of them.  As usual all opinions, recipe and photos are my own.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Giveaway - Premier Housewares Green Leaf Dinner Set

I have mostly white plates and bowls so that I can mix and match with a few chosen more colourful items. Now and again it is nice to  get a set of plates, bowls and mugs that match especially when they will match with the white ones.
Premier Housewares have launched a new collection for this Spring called the Green Leaf collection which includes place mats, drinks mats, oven gloves, beanbag lap tray, machine washable tea towels and more as well as a 16 piece dinnerware set.

The cereal bowls are lovely and deep and the mugs will look lovely anywhere you sit down for a few moments to relax and enjoy a cuppa!
If you want to win a set of Green Leaf collection dinnerware follow the instructions below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a set of Green Leaf collection dinnerware however I was not paid to review them or write a positive review.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Mexico - Live It to Believe It: Interactive Pop-Up Pavilion

For the next two weeks you can be transported to Mexico without leaving sight of London's South Bank. To help celebrate Year of Mexico in the UK, Mexico has launched an interactive exhibition near City Hall on The South Bank.

You enter a pop-up dome which features Mexico's story told through art and interactive culture. You can feel like you are there, riding rapids, travelling in a hot air balloon or exploring some fascinating Mexican cities.  Experience interactive touch screens and with state of the art technology and try on virtual Mexican fashion or sit on virtual beaches.  Hear all the sights and sounds of busy, bustling cities or white water rapids.
A central feature and treat is a real VW Beatle which has been decorated with more than two million beads and took 8 artists over 9,000 hours of hard work to design and decorate.
Mexico is also proud of it's status as the only nation to have its cuisine designated by UNESCO as of 'Intangible Heritage of Humanity.  Whilst you visit the pop-up dome you can also get some authentic Mexican street food prepared by the acclaimed Mexican street kitchen Wahaca.
I had a delicious marinated grilled steak Burrito ...
The pop-up pavilion will be open to the public from Wednesday 25 February 2015 - Wednesday 11 March 2015 from 10:00am to 20:00pm. It is located next to City Hall on the South Bank and is free entrance for adults and children.

Watch this blog for more events to celebrate Year of Mexico in the UK.

I was not paid to attend this event. As usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Juicing My Way Into 2015 With Philips Real Juice Reboot

There has been a lot written lately about the benefits of making and drinking fresh juice every day.  One of the things that you need to watch out for though is that if you only use fresh fruit you may end up consuming quite a lot of sugar (fruit is full of natural sugars). The way around the sugar thing is also a great way to ensure you are getting quite a good amount of your '5 A-day' as well.

Adding vegetables such as kale, beetroot, carrot, celery, cucumber can help you get the vitamins and fibre you need without overdoing it on the sugar.

I was sent a Philips juicer to join their 21 day juicing challenge called 'RealJuiceReboot'. This challenge is based on the premise that you need to do something 21 times to make it into a habit.
I set about on day one, with the fruit and vegetables that were sent with the juicer to make some combinations I had never tried before.  I have tried juicing before and had some of my favourite combinations but I was willing to try the suggestions that Philips sent.
I tried combinations I wouldn't have thought of using like watermelon, mint and lime - boy was it refreshing and good!
This juicer from Philips is quite small in size but powerful with it's large motor and very fine filter. The container for collecting the spent fruit holds quite a lot, it is surprising to see how dry the waste is meaning all of the juice has been whizzed out!

The one thing that is not a positive point for me is that the container that collects the juice is rather small and I need to empty it into a larger jug about halfway through the juicing.

I missed my juice for a couple of days during this 21 day juice challenge and have paid the price by getting a head cold so I am back on the straight and narrow and today enjoyed a large glass of carrot, apple, celery, ginger and beetroot
I have loads of recipes yet to try and really exciting juices yet to come. Looking forward to this week's shopping order arriving - get those beetroot ready for my juices this week. Beetroot is one of those super foods along with blueberries that should go in juices and smoothies for added vitamins and anti-oxidants.

Thanks Philips for the juicer - I know we will have a long and happy relationship making up different combinations all the time!

I was not paid to write this review and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Sourdough Pancakes for Pancake Day

Pancake Day - I bet most people in the UK have the thin 'crepe' like pancakes with lemon and sugar. I have never had much luck with these and combined with being American I tend to make the thicker American style pancakes for Pancake Day. (Secret: they are appropriate for any day!)

I decided to spice up my usual pancake batter and add some of the sourdough starter I keep in the fridge and see what happened.
After mixing all my ingredients I added the sourdough starter, mixed well and left to stand 5-10 minutes.
The trick it to let them get loads of bubble on the surface before you flip them over and you only need leave them 30-40 seconds before serving.
Serve with lashings of real maple syrup (mine comes from Vermont, as do I), Moose Maple Butter and a sprinkling of icing sugar and Enjoy
American Pancakes

In a large bowl mix:
200gm Self Raising Flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 egg
300ml milk

Mix well then add:
3 large tablespoons of sourdough starter and mix again

Leave to stand 5-10 minutes

At this point you can add 200gm blueberries if you want.

Drop large spoons of batter onto a griddle or large frying pan that has a know of butter and a tsp of sunflower oil heated leaving space between the spoonfuls.

Cook until the surface has lots of bubbles (see photo above) then flip and cook a further 30-40 seconds to brown the underside.  

Serve on a warmed plate and garnish with a knob of butter, either unsalted or maple butter, pour over real maple syrup and sift a little icing sugar on top.

I was not paid to write this review and as usual all photos and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

In My Veg box - Sweet Potato Roundup

In January I hosted 'In My Veg Box' and the subject was sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are so good for you and it's so interesting to see the different ways people use sweet potatoes in their meal plans.

I want to thank all those who entered with their great recipes.

An InLinkz Link-up