Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Easter by Sainsbury’s

This Easter time Sainsbury’s have a great range of food, drink and homely items to help your celebrations be egg-stra special! We will be sharing our Easter with close family – which will be lovely as always and thanks to Sainsbury’s I have a few extra treats to take with me! I am off work for a while due to ill health, and so a break by the sea to relax and recuperate is well needed! 

I received a whole box of goodies from them – including a gorgeous rich fruity Taste The Difference Simnel cake, a Taste The Difference Marc De Champagne Easter Egg complete with pretty little rose dusted truffles (if they are anywhere near as good as their ones at Christmas I am hiding these when open for me me me!)  

For getting you and your home in the Easter mood they have some gorgeous Honeycomb decorations, which I love these so much, and even that the paperclips inside match the decoration colour– simple thing but a nice touch! They really brighten up the room with their spring pastel shades and I am looking forward to hanging these up!


Mini Conegliano Prosecco – I do love this sparkling wine, we used it on Christmas day too – its light, bubbly and everyone likes it, a real crowd pleaser. Though this 2 glass bottle is all mine!



I am really looking forward this stunning Taste The Difference Marc De Champagne Easter egg complete with pretty little rose dusted truffles - if they are anywhere near as good as their ones at Christmas I am hiding these when open for me me me!



I had to take the outer sleeve off to photograph this gorgeous rich fruity Taste The Difference Simnel cake and its smells amazing! I made one a few years back and it was a lot of work so am very happy to receive this, especially as it looks so pretty on top too!


I am finally going to put my boyfriend out of his misery - this is going to be his Easter Egg - its been tormenting him sitting on the unit, and so now I have photographed it he can devour it!


If you fancy getting creative their Egg keyring kits are great fun for children and adults alike! I was so proud of making my little Eggbert keyring!


Party paper plates – saves on washing up and great for when you have lots of guests to entertain – these bright plates make me think of warmer, sunny days and happier times!


Hope you have a great Easter whatever you do! What Easter Egg is your favourite - milk, dark or plain or something different altogether?

Many thanks to Sainsburys who provided the above items for review.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Boozy Gooseberry and Currant Pudding Cake

Its been a while since I did a baking post so its high time I made something sweet and baked for you! This cake has since been made again since the original creation - just to double check of course that it was still delicious - fortunately it was! Its a really comforting, homely pudding and served with lashings of custard to complete it! B declared it 10/10 which now leaves my next bake quite scary to compete!

When I think of gooseberries I think of my brother. Growing up there was an assortment of fruit bushes in the garden including a gooseberry bush, and he delighted as a child in throwing the prickly little fruits at my bare legs!! Anyway fortunately the gooseberry in this cake involves a jar of gooseberry jam so its very safe to prepare! My dad bought the jam from a farm shop a while back and I found it hiding in the fridge, not very sure what to do with it as it was a little bit sharp on its own... A week or so beforehand I had made a similar and delicious cake without the jam part which was very tasty and then my brain started scheming and in went the jam.....

The currants were leftover from making hot cross buns - is it me or are they really small? I was honestly surprised upon opening the bag up! I'd never bought them before admittedly and it was faintly amusing to me for a while! Lastly the other key ingredient is sweet wine - I really dislike sweet wine but a friend was throwing it out as she didn't like it either and as I hate waste and thought it could be re-born at a later date....waste not want not.. 

As I was serving this cake in the baking dish, I opted to use my well loved pie dish - and it worked a treat! Its an ancient but still lovely Le Creuset one I got free when taking out a magazine subscription a long, long time ago and washes up a treat! They don't make this model anymore but guessing its still the 24cm size.


Ingredients:

60g dried currants
4tbsp sweet wine
2 large eggs - apx 140g
140g caster sugar
140g soft margarine/ butter
100g gooseberry jam
160g self rasising flour
1 tsp baking powder (I used Dr Oetker's sachets - so easy to use!)
1 tbsp demerara sugar

Start by placing the currants and wine in a small bowl to soak - at least 15 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 180o.

Grease the pie dish with a little butter using a bit of kitchen paper

*I use a mixer for baking as my arms protest otherwise - if by hand do the same order*

Cream together the butter and sugar until fully combined and soft. Add the eggs and beat for a few seconds, with the mixer on low gently tip in the flour and baking powder, followed by the jam and soaked currants with any remaining wine until its all combined but don't over beat it! Sprinkle over the demerara sugar - this gives a nice little crunch when baked!



Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer comes away clean and its all lovely and golden on top.


Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving with lots of lovely custard!



As my cake used up neglected jam, leftover currants and unwanted wine I've entered this in Elizabeth's No Waste Food Challenge, held this month by Jibber Jabber. I am hosting in July and this is a great way of making sure you don't throw anything away!



Monday, 7 April 2014

Meal Planning Monday 07.04.2014

Well last week flew by like a whirlwind and we mainly stayed on plan the only real change was Friday nights satay sauce becoming soy sauce, in the form of some Filipino soy sauce my neighbour gave me as we had somehow run out of the regular one we buy, its still as nice fortunately! I made a lush and to be blogged soon Gooseberry and currant sponge which B rated 10/10 which leaves a lot to live up on the next bake! One of the other highlights out was this giant bacon cheeseburger:


On Saturday me and a girlfriend went and saw the amazing Gary Barlow in concert!! And as the 02 is overwhelmed by restaurants but none really that great we found via my friends brother and the power of twitter a decent burger place in Clapham - and it was delicious! A little bit rare, seasoned fries and gravy on the side - what's not to like?!

So back to reality with a bump this week - keeping up with the budget theme as our wardrobe has collapsed and we have the mot and service due shortly, it is a good freezer raid!

Monday - B will be having something involving sweet potatoes and chorizo - I've given him instructions as I going to a friends house before a pampered chef party!

Tuesday - It may change..but I have lamb in the freezer and thinking of some sort of curry-  maybe a Lamb and Spinach Bhajee that I made a long, long time ago but it was very tasty! 

Wednesday - Fishcakes with mash and roasted vegetables

Thursday - I am going to something..I can't talk about yet..! B will be having bacon pasta

Friday - I have a chicken carcass in the freezer, thinking of boiling up making a nice soup base for noodles and veggies etc

Weekend - I am thinking risotto followed by arrancini the following night with the leftovers..







Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Anne's Kitchen has turned 7...with A Little Foodie round-up!

So March saw a lot of things happen - for a start my blog turned 7! I had in the back of my mind it was somewhere around now but was still slightly surprised to see my first post here was on the 22nd of March 2007! Gosh so much has happened during this time! Where on earth has it gone?! 

Seven years on I am a much better cook for a start and I have met some truly wonderful friends during this time, discovered lots of lovely new foods, drinks and housewares's. Not to mention having some pretty unique opportunities and experiences too along the way! From starting out as just a place for keeping my recipes together as I was struggling with lots and lots of word documents, to actually properly researching and writing out posts, engaging on social media including my twitter feed and facebook pages, its been a ever evolving blog! 

My blog has also changed colour and style several times, the most recent header was thanks to the lovely Jac who writes Tinned Tomatoes, who was fed up with my previous, ancient one and made me a lovely one using a professional photo I had done - believe me I spend most days in Hello Kitty pyjamas with no make-up on but its nice to look good sometimes! I keep looking at going over to self hosting and adjusting the blog name slightly but its work in progress and I will keep you updated!

Life during the past 7 years has been a rollercoaster too, involving many housemoves, lugging boxes of kitchenalia around, not to mention all the cookery books too much to the horror of friends and family who kindly helped! And yes I do need it all. My career and relationships have changed, friends have come and gone, and after battling through ill health and life's other challenges I have somehow muddled it through and I sit here today in amazement over it all! When you hit rock bottom the only way is back up!

What I have learned and accept most is to just breathe, what will be will indeed be and sometimes you just have to evolve too - you can only ever go forward, its impossible to re-live yesterday after all! I have no idea how the next 7 years will pan out, I just hope my health improves and that I will continue to have all my wonderful, lovely family and friends around me because without them, I don't think I would be sitting here now writing about the past 7 years. Thanks guys n gals :)


And so I did promise some food in this rather cathartic post - over the past few months a few items have popped through the door that I've been playing with - first us is these dinky pastry shells from Pidy - I used their spoons to make little canapes filled with a thick spicy Beetroot soup, topped with a teeny drop of clotted cream and sprig of coriander - they were very cute and even B ate several of them, I think I have truly converted him to Beetroot now! The 'Spoonettes' held the soup very well without going soggy and are very appealing to the eye!



In my job I work the odd night shift and eating sensibly during the small hours I find quite hard - I get peckish and I would normally have a banana but I did tested out some some new healthy snacks called 'Go Nuts' from EPJ Health and whilst I didn't care for the cinnamon flavoured ones, I really enjoyed their coconut ones and it really helped give me a 'natural' boost to get through the last few hours of the shift, which are always very busy ! They are made of a fruit and nut mixture, are low GI and well balanced. 


Whilst I make a fairly decent pizza, for convenience we sometimes pick up a ready made pizza -and recently Dr Oetker kindly gave us some vouchers and we discovered their gorgeous Spinaci pizza - its a nice crisp base, topped with Spinach leaves, a tasty tomato and garlic sauce and both edam and gooey mozzarella cheeses - we both loved it and I would definitely buy again! I served it with our favourite rocket, sundried tomato and pine nut salad - delicious!


So overall many thanks to all my fabulous friends, family, readers of my blog and all the companies I've worked with over the past 7 years! Its been great!

Do you have a favourite recipe on my blog? Please let me know - I love to receive your comments!

Anne
x

Monday, 31 March 2014

Meal Planning Monday

Okay so yes Monday is very nearly over but I ran late with writing up this post- I've just finished working night shifts, and I was going to go out tomorrow to do the food shop but my boyfriends bike is off road again, which means he has the car and so we have just come back from doing the food shop. I am not sure if its night or day right now though to be honest! 

I did manage to have a little rant at the checkout as my money off vouchers of course had expired yesterday, why is it always the case?! They always seem to have such short expiry dates I never really get their value... however we did find two very nice chocolate cream buns reduced for 29p so they helped soften the blow!

This week is an attempt at using up freezer and fridge items - we have all the lovely car bills this month, along with a little holiday so pennies are being watched very closely! The most exciting thing is that finally this Saturday I am off to see my beloved Gary Barlow! We have found an awesome looking burger place to feast at before we burn it all if singing ourselves hoarse!


Monday - tonight we had twice baked tuna stuffed jacket potatoes, with a green bean, spring onion and red pepper medley

Tuesday - thawing the Coley leftover from the bake thingy , will be wrapped in parma ham and baked, served with mashed potatoes, spinach and roasted cherry tomatoes

Wednesday - Fishcakes with courgettes and mash

Thursday - Spaghetti Carbonara

Friday - Satay chicken noodle stir fry


Linky

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Tandoori Beef Kofta Masala with Pilau Rice

I am a bit of a naughty magpie for getting new spices and herbs, my poor kitchen cupboards are bursting at the seams from things like tubes of Harissa paste to tubs to Polish beetroot Borszcw powder and pretty much everything inbetween – as you can see by the random recipes competition late last year I have just a few random bags and tubs!). When an email appeared in my inbox at the end of last year to try the new Bart Blends range I jumped at the opportunity to receive some to play with though making room has been a bit of a challenge!

Since their arrival I have been playing with several of them and one of my favourites was this Tandoori Beef Kofta Masala I made – so much so that I’ve now used up all of my Tandoori Masala tin after recreating it several times! It’s a gorgeous blend of spices, fragrant, not to spicy (though add a little more chilli powder if you fancy it spicy!) It also makes a lush spicy beetroot soup too! Apologies for the not so brilliant pictures - winter lighting is not very friendly!


We love meatballs here - well proper homemade ones at least, I remember my mum forcing upon us tinned ones and still shudder inside at the thought of them! These ones fortunately are delicious and serve well to erase bad memories! The sauce is fragrant, delicious and quite mild as B doesn't care for much heat, and nor does my silly stomach at times but do feel free to add a little extra chilli if you prefer a bit more bite to it!


Serves 3 / 4 adults

Ingredients:

1 large white onion, diced
1 large green pepper, cut into 1cm chunks
400g lean Beef steak mince
½ tbsp ginger and garlic puree
1.5 tbsp Bart Blends Tandoori Masala
1 tin good quality chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 beaten egg
1 heaped tbsp dried breadcrumbs
3 tbsp yoghurt or crème fraiche
S&P

Method:

In a large mixing bowl combine the mince, egg, breadcrumbs and a little salt and pepper, roll into 16 meatballs and put to one side

Heat a large sauté pan, soften the onion in the oil, add the pepper and fry until lightly browned and nearly cooked through– about 5 minutes. 

Add the spice powder along with the garlic and ginger, fry for a further minute and stir in the tomatoes, cover and simmer on a medium heat for ten minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a blender and blitz until smooth (or use a hand blender), return to the pan and place the meatballs in the pan spaced a little apart and poach in the sauce for at least 5 minutes, covered, before gently turning around as you don’t want them to break up! 


Simmer gently for 30 minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir through the yoghurt/ crème fraiche.



Pilau rice

I never really weigh rice – I go by one cup rice to one and a half cups of water always – and by cup sometimes it’s a bowl from the windowsill, probably more like two American cup sizes. Bart Blends Pilau spice is gently fragrant and my brother in particular was very impressed with it!

Ingredients

1 cup basamati rice
1.5 cups water
1 heaped tsp Bart Blends Pilau Rice


Heat a medium to large sized saucepan, add the Pilau spice and warm for a couple of minutes to release the fragrance, add the rice followed by the water, cover and bring to the boil for 2 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to rest, covered for 10 minutes or until the liquid has all absorbed. Fluff up with a spoon before serving and season with salt if desired.

Serve the rice along with your curry and some chapati's to mop up the sauce.


With thanks to Bart Blends and Deborah at The Mint Collective for my samples

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