Sunday, 25 September 2011

Total Greek Yoghurt

I was luck enough to be invited to a Total Greek Yoghurt ‘I Love My Lunchbox’ event recently and got some generous samples to take home and try.  Following on from that event Total Greek Yoghurt sent me a selection of their duo pots (plain yoghurt in the main part and a fruit compote or honey in the small attached part of the pot) to review.
Years ago I thought plain yoghurt was just for eating if you were on a weight loss diet and was about as exciting!  More recently I discovered Greek style yoghurt (I have not been to Greece yet but hope to one day) and the taste and creaminess was nothing like the yoghurt of my youth.

These days it is unusual for me not to have Greek style yoghurt in the fridge and it seems appropriate that a good tablespoon or two gets into a large proportion of the food I prepare.

When the samples arrived from Total Greek Yoghurt (TGY) the first thing I did was try each flavour.  They sent me Honey, Blueberry, Strawberry and Tropical Fruits.  My favourite is definitely the plain yoghurt with honey.  The quality of the honey is extremely good and mixes with the plain yoghurt to produce a creamy, rich, luscious dessert. 

Recently when I made a cake with this flavour it brought to mind middle eastern images so I added pistachio nuts and chopped dates.  The recipe for this cake is:

Ingredients:

100g Self Raising flour
100g Castor sugar
100g Unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 pot TGY Greek yogurt with honey duo pot
100g chopped dates
50g chopped pistachio nuts
3 Tbsp Demerara sugar for topping

Method:

  • Grease and line a 20cm square baking pan.
  • Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy (I used the new Russell Hobs hand mixer that I received to review – this will be a further post to watch out for)
  • Add the eggs and a little bit of the flour to stop the eggs curdling.
  • Add the contents of the duo pot of yoghurt, the chopped nuts and the chopped dates (it is a good trick to coat the dates in a little of the flour to stop them sticking together and to stop them falling to the bottom of the cake)
  • Mix well together and pour into prepared baking pan.
  • Sprinkle a little golden Demerara sugar over the top of the cake which will add a crunch to the finished cake.
  • Bake for approximately 35-45 minutes till the top is golden brown and a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool completely, cut into squares and serve sprinkled with icing sugar on top and a little frozen Total Greek Yogurt on the side.



This cake did not last long in our house!

The next TGY duo pot I tried was the Blueberry.  I was visiting my daughter and decided to bake blueberry muffins with my two year old grandson Logan helping me!  I weighed out the ingredients but let Logan put them into the bowl and help with the mixing.  I did however have to explain that we do not put the whole egg, shell and all into the mix, and that we need to open the egg first!  He got that OK and cracked the second egg on the counter top!

We followed the recipe I got from the ‘I Love My Lunchbox’ event which was demonstrated by Nick Coffer aka ‘My Daddy Cooks’.  This is a simple recipe and a very good one to make with the children or grandchildren as the exact quantities are not so important.  The Greek yoghurt gives the muffins a light effect and you can add fresh or frozen blueberries if you like as well.

Whilst I liked the Strawberry flavour duo pot my least favourite was the Tropical Fruits.  I could not really identify which fruits were used when I tasted it but perhaps it would come into its own if you were to bake with it and add some tropical extras to the mix.

There are so many ways you can use Greek style yoghurt and here are just a couple of my favourites:-

  • mix in the fruit/honey pot, stir then pour over breakfast cereal or fresh fruit.  The strawberry duo pot is excellent poured over fresh, sliced strawberries and raspberries.  The tropical fruit or honey duo pots work well mixed together and poured over kiwi fruit and passion fruit mixed or sliced bananas.
  • I made potato salad and for the dressing to pour over the cold potatoes I mixed 3 Tbsp mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp plain Total Greek Yoghurt, My Secret Kitchen (Heidi’s Secret Kitchen Facebook page or www.mysecretkitchen.co.uk ) Lemon Chipolte Sea Salt, 2 garlic cloves crushed (www.pamperedchef.biz/partieswithHeidi), 2 tsp creamed horseradish or wasabe and 2-3 Tbsp My Secret Kitchen Thai Dressing with Kaffir Limes.  I mixed this through the potatoes and added chopped chives.  Lovely!
Keep checking back to this blog to see what I do with the plain yoghurt from Total Greek Yoghurt.

If you like reading my blogs please follow me and tell your friends to have a look too.  Look out for my competition coming soon!!

    Wednesday, 21 September 2011

    Grandma's Banana Bread

    When I was growing up my mother would use up the old, wrinkly bananas to make her mother’s recipe for Banana Bread.  Over the years this became one of my favourite recipes and still reminds me of my childhood and because it is super easy I make it whenever we have bananas past their good looking stage.

    Very often the skin turns brown but inside the actual banana is fine but if my children saw the brown outside they would not eat the ripe fruit.  So it traditionally became a way to use the bananas and not throw them out.  To the point that sometime friends would call in for coffee and bring me their over ripe bananas and ask me to make a Banana Bread for them.

    I make the recipe almost exactly as my mother and her mother before her used to make it.  The only small change I make is to vary whether I add chopped walnuts, raisins or chopped dates for a special touch.

    To make this recipe work you have to use an American cup measurement set and not weigh the ingredients.   In the USA we measure all flour, sugar, butter and liquid ingredients etc in cup measurements and although a cup = 8oz it does not work if you weigh the dry ingredients.

    So for a 2lb loaf of Banana Bread you need:-



    3 ripe bananas (as soft and brown as possible)
    1 egg
    2/3c sugar
    2 cups Self Raising Flour
    You can add up to ½ cup chopped walnuts, raisins or chopped dates.

    Preheat the oven to 350F/175C/Gas 3
    Grease and flour a 2lb loaf tin or use a loaf liner.

    In a large bowl put the peeled bananas (the skin or peel can go directly on the compost heap) and mash with a fork until almost liquid.


     Add 1 egg and beat with the fork


    Add 2/3 cup of sugar

    If using this is the time to add the walnuts etc.

    Mix in one cup of the flour and continue to mix well.  Then add the other cup of flour until all the flour is well incorporated.

    Pour all the mixture into the prepared baking tin and place in the middle of the oven for 1 hour.  Let cool completely if you can before slicing and serving with butter and a cup of coffee.  My favourite Saturday morning breakfast.

    Saturday, 17 September 2011

    The Village Fete

    Nothing says summer like a village fete. 

    Cricket can be played on the green with village residents sitting around enjoying this very English sport. The village fete is one of those quintessential English occasions where everyone joins in the spirit of the day.  I was invited to the Longstowe village fete in Longstowe, Cambridgeshire a few weeks ago.  This was the 17th fete, usually held in May but it was felt there was a better chance of nice weather to hold it a bit later on in the year.  And as if it was payment for good behaviour the sun shone making it a bright and sunny day for an outside event.

    It was being organised by my ex-husband and he had roped in my son to be the chief BBQ cook.


    I was looking after my granddaughter Elizabeth for the weekend so we decided to pop up the see her daddy and granddad in action.







    It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. There were loads of people attending the fete and the atmosphere was very buoyant.  Three and a half year old  Elizabeth was quick to join in on the fun, having a ride on the merry-go-round and a second ride later on.



    There was a marquee on one side of the village green. Local residents had brought their best vegetables, cakes, jams and wines to be judged.  The rosettes looked lovely placed on the winning entries.  Towards the end of the afternoon the entries were raffled and the proceeds were all added to the total raised on the day. 

    I bought some vegetables for £0.40 and a basket of prize winning potatoes for £1.50.  All of these were part of the meals for the next day or so. The winners were presented with trophies

    Usually at BBQs of this type the sausages and burgers are supermarket bought but the Longstowe BBQ meat was donated by a local butcher and the sausages were lovely and thick with no added fillers or flavourings.  You could taste the real sausage and the burgers were lovely and not just tasting of seasonings that mask the absence of real meat.  These were lovely and round and didn’t shrink much with cooking. 

    My son Edward was chief BBQ grill man and worked his way through about 100 sausages and several dozen burgers and was still smiling at the end of the afternoon.

    And of course, where there are farmers there are also tractors.  Several of the locals own tractors and enter competitions and races at all sorts of venues and events.  Each owner was very proud and willing to show off their machines.


    It is a shame that summer has come to an end but this kind of event leaves us with memories of bright summer days, cricket, BBQs and happy village residents!

    Wednesday, 14 September 2011

    Fish Tasting at Zilli Fish

    I took advantage of a special offer to try the fish surprise tasting menu at Zilli Fish in Brewer Street,London W1. The offer was for two people, a four course fish tasting menu with a glass of wine each at the special price of £17 each.  I went tonight with my friend Mandy who adores fish and we were both quite excited.
    Here is what the offer said "At the Soho-based eatery, chef Aldo Zilli will pick four surprise courses for you, depending on what's setting gills a-flapping at Billingsgate fish market on the day -- all washed down with two glasses of wine." This was offered at the special price of £34 for two, a £71 value! 
    Here is what we got: A small bowl of mussels and 1/2 a kind of tortilla with a filling of sweet potato and sweet corn to share for the first course.  A slate with a small piece of salmon, small piece of coley, small piece of halibut and a small piece of sea bass - about a mouthful each of each fish and a prawn each. Plus a bowl of two scoops of ice cream each.  We both had a glass of white wine and all this cost us £17 each.  On top of this, not mentioned on the offer, we had to pay 12.5% service charge.

    On the menu they had a three course meal for £16.90 and a table near us had that and it was proper sized portions with chips as part of the main course, so how was our meal value for money?

    The food we actually ate was delicious and well prepared and the service was fine.  The waiter David was very friendly and looked after us well.  Aldo Zilli came over to the table and we had a quick chat before he had to leave with his family.
    The restaurant was on a busy London street with plenty of people watching between courses and the general smell of the restaurant was mouth watering.

    Perhaps Aldo Zilli would like to invite me back for a proper meal some time - I would be happy to accept!!

    Tuesday, 6 September 2011

    Lemon Posset with My Secret Kitchen Mango Mojito Dessert Sauce

    In medieval times a posset was a British hot drink of milk which was curdled with wine or ale and usually consumed to help the digestion or to promote sleep.  It was also use to cure minor illnesses such as the common cold.  Even in today’s times hot milk is used to help you sleep.

    Posset sets were popular gifts often made of silver.  They were the container for mixing, various containers for the ingredients as well as spoons. The Spanish ambassador gave Queen Mary I of England and King Phillip II of Spain when they got engaged in 1554.  This set was jewel encrusted and is on display at Hatfield House in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.


    Lady Macbeth used a poison posset to knock out the guards outside Duncan’s quarters in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act II, Scene ii.

    Now a days, however, a posset is a dessert or pudding made from cream or milk and sugar with the addition of lemon or lime juice to curdle it.  This helps it set when refrigerated before serving.

    Becky Boast, a colleague from My Secret Kitchen gave me this recipe to try and let me tell you how easy and delicious it is. Becky has just won a great prize from www.mysecretkitchen.co.uk for this recipe and I think you will agree with the judge’s decision.


    In a medium to large sauce pan put 600ml Double Cream and 150g castor sugar.

    Heat the cream and sugar slowly until the sugar dissolves.  Turn up the heat and bring to the  boil.

    When the mixture comes to a full boil, boil for EXACTLY three minutes without stirring or touching the cream.  It is very difficult to just watch but it won’t burn or overboil.

    Take the pan off the heat and wisk in the juice of 1 ½ lemons and half a bottle of Mango Mojito Dessert Sauce (85ml) (www.mysecretkitchen.co.uk) .


    Cool slightly then pour into little dishes or martini glasses and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

    To serve dribble a little Mango Mojito Dessert Sauce on top and place a couple of blueberries or sprig of mint in the middle and serve with www.mysecretkitchen Lemon and Bergamot Shortbread and then just enjoy!!!

    (Makes 6 ramekins or small cups).