Thursday, 28 February 2013

Month End But Still a Feast!

To day is the 28th of February and the end of the month.  I have mentioned this year already how I am trying to make the most of my well stocked cupboard and full freezer and today is a perfect example of that.

Tonight's supper is from the freezer: sausages; from the pantry cupboard: Tin of chopped tomatoes, tin of haricot beans; salt and pepper and garlic spices from the kitchen cupboard and from the fridge: onion, celery, cherry tomatoes, chopped carrot and chopped parsnip.

I put this in the oven on a low-ish heat for about an hour and a half and then wacked the heat up high for the final half hour and it turned into this:-

I served the casserole with some Ainsley Harriot golden vegetable rice which I cooked in the microwave (I did say it was a kitchen raid dinner!)
Mr R was full of praise for his dinner and did especially enjoy the glass of wine to go with it!!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Breakfast Club: Because breakfast should be more interesting than tea & toast or coffee & cereal!

Breakfast Club is the brainchild of Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and is a fun and popular way to get more recipes to keep everyone interested in breakfast, the most important meal of the day.

I have been given the honour of hosting the Breakfast Club for March. For my theme I wanted to tie in with the current problems the UK is having with cheaper products containing hidden ingredients to keep the costs down (eg. horsemeat in ready meals) so I would like to have the theme of  'Buy Local' - at least one ingredient has to be grown, produced or sourced from within ten miles of your home. Farmers Markets are great places to find locally grown products. If you can't find anything that close to your home then find something with the lowest carbon footprint possible.

This is also intended to tie in with Farmhouse Breakfast week so you might like to include the basics that make up the 'Great British Breakfast'.

I will be making breakfast pancakes with flour milled about 6-7 miles from my home - Redbournbury Flour Mill and a couple of eggs from a friend's chickens within 3 miles of where I live.
The Rules:-
Mention Breakfast Club in your post and use the logo
  • Link to my blog and to
  • Mention Breakfast Club in your post and use the logo
  •  You are welcome to send in old recipes, but please add the information above and re-publish
  • Entries can be sent to other events, but please respect their rules
  • If you tweet please tweet using #blogbreakfastclub
  • If you do not have a blog send a photo and details to the month’s host
  • All breakfasts clubs are also blog hops, so please grab the code and add to your page!
  • The closing date for this month is 01 April 2013.
  • By entering you are allowing the hosting blog (HeidiRobertsKitchenTalk) to post your image and pin to pinterest.
Helen is also looking for guest hosts for future Breakfast Clubs - You can e-mail her at
There will be a small prize of a My Secret Kitchen product of your choice (UK entries only) and will be chosen by an inpartial 3rd party at random.

Sozai - First Sushi Cooking Class

Last week I attended the Launch Party of Sozai, London's first dedicated Japanese cooking school and tonight I attended their first cooking class. It was totally sushi making and rolling and loads of fun.

There were seven of us which was really nice, we were able to chat and get to know each other better than in a crowded class.

A warm welcome, a glass of wine and let's get rolling.

We learned how to make the perfect sushi rice, much easier than I thought it would be. You just have to be organised and let the rice soak for at least a couple of hours or better overnight.

One of the fillings we were going to use in our sushi rolls is a sort of omelet but made in a special square omelet pan. These can be purchased in Japanese food and equipment shops. 

You build up the omelet in layers and this keep it moist and makes sure it it thoroughly cooked as well.

The rice is straightforward to cook but it is essential that you cool it quickly to stop the cooking process so you don't end up with sticky, soggy rice.  There are a couple of ways to do this; a small fan as in this photo (but this does take time and wears our the fan waver!), a large fan like you would have in your home or a hair dryer on the cool setting.

Beautiful pieces of the freshest tuna, salmon and sea bream being sliced with a very sharp knife ready to be used for our sushi rolls.

Yuki, our teacher for the evening, showing us how to make a really simple hand roll, quick, easy and eaten in a couple of bites!

Sea bream and sushi rice ready for rolling. Once you get the technique it is really a lot of fun.

The topping trio, sesame seeds, black sesame seeds and flying fish eggs,

Two views of the three sushi rolls I made!!

The three rolls carefully cut into slices

The finished tray including wasabe and pickled ginger ready to take home for Mr R to try too. He is also a sushi fan and was very impressed his wifey had made it!!

Next week I am visiting Yuki at her home for some more insight into Japanese cooking. Keep coming back to the blog to see how my new hobby is progressing!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Sozai - Japanese Cooking School Launch Evening

When I was 13 my family made a trip to California (from New Hampshire where we lived) and one evening we went to a Japanese restaurant. The thing that sticks in my mind is the green tea ice cream we had for dessert.  Between then and now I hadn't really had much Japanese food except the americanised versions of teriake chicken and instant noodles.

A couple of years ago I discovered sushi and have become a real fan.  I was therefore intrigued and excited to be invited to the opening evening of Sozai, London's first exclusivly Japanese cooking school. Sozai means both "household dishes" and "ingredients" in Japanese and is a brand new concept in Japanese food.

Courses will cover a wide range of food from sushi to tempura to the famous street food Rahmen. Courses will be held at their two kitchens, SOZAI, 5 Middlesex Street, London E1 7AA (near Liverpool Street station) and SO Restaurant, 3-4 Warwick Street, London W1B 5LS (Soho) and they will tailor make courses for you as well as having a wide range of courses already planned.

The evening started off with some authentic Japanese music which was different from any I had ever heard before. It sorted of reminded me of pop music Japanese style.

There were interesting appetisers being passed around as well as constant trays of drinks putting people in a relaxed mood.

Tetsuro Hama is the man behind the enterprise and very warmly welcomed everyone to the evening and clearly enjoyed giving us the low down on all the future plans for the cooking school.

One of the teachers at the school Yuki gave us a demonstration on sushi rolling and afterwards we were given a chance to try it for ourselves.

My finished sushi - just like the professionals!

I have booked to take a proper class at Sozai cooking school in a couple of weeks. I am really looking forward to learning some of the intricacies of Japanese cooking.
You can Like Sozai on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @SozaiUK.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Unearthed - a Night of Olives

I was recently given the opportunity to attend an olive focus group in Camden Town, London last week.  The focus group was organised by Unearthed and after a welcome glass of white wine my niece and I started to work our way through the tasting of the specimens of olives.

We were each given a set of paperwork which asked us questions about each flavour selection of the olives as well as some water biscuits and a drink of water to cleanse the palet between each flavour. There were flavours such as Moroccan spice, Tuscan mix with cheese, Pesto, Mango, lime and chilli and more.

The different flavours of olives were in seperate groups and labelled and we worked our way around the selection, tasting and answering questions about each flavour such as appearance, living up to expectations, delivering on flavour, would we buy these in the supermarkets and a few others.

My niece doesn't eat a wide variety of foods and had never eaten an olive! Twenty years old and this was an entirely new experience for her.  She was very proud of herself that she had eaten 8 olives and they weren't as bad as she had thought they would be! A quail's egg in the afternoon and olives in the evening - what a memorable trip to London she was having!!
I really enjoyed the session and was extremely happy with the goodie bag we received to take home with loads of Unearthed products inside.  I will look forward to trying these products and will also keep an eye out for the olive flavours we tried at the group session.

Friday, 15 February 2013


Usually Mr R and myself stay home Valentines day and we have a special meal together along with a special bottle of wine.  We hate going out for a meal where the prices are hiked up and the quality suffers. We have a brief discussion about the meal but it is usually up to me to buy the food and wine and cook it. (Occassionally Mr R will pick the menu and shop and cook it.)

This year we have had my niece from America visiting the week before which involved the rest of the family and lots of sightseeing in London and around where we live.

I just hadn't had much time to my self so wasn't really sure what we would have for our special meal last night and hadn't been able to shop yesterday so a fridge raid was the matter of the day.

I did have some tiger prawns in the fridge so I made a prawn cocktail. For the sauce I mixed ketchup, mayonnaise, horseraddish and a small spoonful of Gran Luchito mexican chilli paste.  The sauce was spicy and smokey and really went well with the prawns.  Served on a bed of iceberg lettuce with sliced tomatoes and a slice of lemon it was a lovely starter.

We exchanged cards, Mr R gave me a box of luxury chocolates and I put a Euromillions lottery ticket in his card (fingers crossed we win a couple of million tonight!!)

Cross Pens - My Kind of Candy!

Recently Cross the enigmatic pen company asked me if I liked pens. Do Italians eat pizza? - I love pens and always have.  The highlight of my new school year each September was always a trip to the stationary store with my dad to stock up ready for the new school year. A pen in my Christmas stocking was always sure to please me along with diaries, journals and the latest Nancy Drew mystery.

With the world going digital it seems that less and less people are actually writing using real pens and pencils. When Cross asked me if I would like to test some of their new editions I was so excited! To get some fantastic writing implements on a regular basis is food for the soul.

Today I received the new and snappy Edge Red Rolling Ball pen.  It took me a few seconds to work out how to open it (and just to make sure it wasn't me I asked Mr R to try as well). It is so easy really, you just slide it apart to open and push it together to close. Slide, Snap, Simple!

Snap Shut
Slide Open

It comes in a range of colours and has the usual Cross lifetime mechanical guarantee.  It is presented in a premium box and is sure to please the recipient who opens it. You can have fun at your desk, meeting or just writing out your food shopping list! 

Also in the package I received one of the Disney Collection, the Sentiment Ivory Special Edition Disney Ball pen.

Nice grip and easy to write with

There are a few colours but the one I have is a pearlised ivory colour and has a special ring to clip one of the charms that comes with it.  The limited edition Sentiment has a Cinderella theme and would make a delightful present for a young lady to encourage her to appreciate fine pens and writing (notes to Nanny always go down well at any age!)

It is hand polished and highly polished and with the three interchangeable charms is so lovely. 

Pumpkin Carriage

The box also includes a pen case so that you can confidently take it out with you and not worry about scratching it.

I feel very lucky to receive these special editions and look forward to the next set!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Rachel's Yoghurt Coconut & Blueberry Muffins

I was recently sent some Rachel's Organic Greek StyleYoghurt to try.  I do like this range of yoghurt but I didn't just want to have this on its own or over some sort of breakfast cereal so I though I would try to make some breakfast muffins.

I wanted to sift the flour to help keep the muffins light, and mixed all the dry ingredients together.

I then mixed all the wet ingredients together including the Rachel's Organic Yoghurt with Coconut and some of the blueberries from my freezer.

I lightly greased the muffin pan, my new Pampered Chef Brownie Pan which I have been using for all sorts of baking lately. Used the mixture to fill the 12 squares and baked them about 25-30 mins at 180oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4.

These worked really well, although I though they were a bit heavy so perhaps I used too much yoghurt.

Of course the finished muffins didn't last long!

340g Rachel's Organic Coconut Yoghury
250g Self Raising Flour
120g Caster Sugar
1tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp milk
6 Tbsp vegetable oil

* Preheat oven
* Mix together the dry ingredients; the flour, sugar and baking powder.
* In a separate bowl mix the egg, yoghurt, mild and vegetable oil.
* Carefully mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
* Lightly grease muffin square wells and fill each one to just below the top.
* Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until they are golden and have risen.  Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 mins before moving to a plate to serve.

Makes about 12 muffins depending on the muffin pan you use.