Sunday, 28 April 2013

Ocean Spray Product Trial (Good Housekeeping)

As a member of the Good Housekeeping Reader Product Test Panel, I was sent some Ocean Spray products to review.

150g Craisins (R) Dried Cranberries
Cranberry Original Juice Drink
Cranberry & Raspberry Juice Drink

I enjoyed the Craisins on my branflakes - better than raisins!
The juices were quite refreshing, slightly tangy, and felt like a healthy option. 
They also included some recipes which I have adapted slightly below, and I would like to thank Good Housekeeping for giving me the opportunity to try something new.

Chocolate, Cranberry and Cashew Nut Brownies

Chocolate, Cranberry and Cashew Nut Brownies
These were delicious, but if you don't like raisins in your brownies, you won't like Craisins either. Loved the nuts though. And by beating the egg whites separately, they were a lot lighter than my usual brownies.

Makes 12
Time: 40 minutes prep plus 20 minutes cooking

125g dark chocolate

125g butter
125g sugar
4 tbs flour
4 eggs
80g Craisins
50g chopped cashew nuts
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to gas 6/7 and grease a square tin.
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie.
Separate the eggs.
Mix together the sugar, egg yolks and flour, then add the melted chocolate and butter.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and then add a pinch of salt. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture with a spatula and then add in the Craisins and cashews.
Pour into the tin and bake for about 20 minutes.
When cool, cut into squares.

Raspberry and Citrus Sorbet

Raspberry and Citrus Sorbet
This was delicious, my little boy loved it! He tried the juice on its own as well, and liked it, but really loved the sorbet. I made so much that it melted slightly after a while, but that was easily remedied, by adding some vodka to make a sweet and juicy cocktail. Obviously not for him!

Serves 6.
Time: 30 mins to prepare plus overnight to freeze.

350ml Cranberry Juice
100g caster sugar
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 limes
2 egg whites, fork-whisked
Fresh raspberries

Pour the cranberry juice into a saucepan with the sugar. Heat until all the sugar dissolves and then cool the syrup over iced water until cool. Add the orange and lime juice.
Pour the sorbet into a freezer-proof container and freeze for an hour. Add the egg white and whisk with a fork. Return the the freezer, taking it out every hour or so to mix it so large crystals don't form.
Freeze overnight.
Use an ice cream scoop to place in a dessert bowl. Serve with some fresh raspberries.

Cranberry and Raspberry Jelly

Cranberry and Raspberry Jelly
Again, this was very popular with my little boy, although he didn't go for the fresh raspberries. Quite tangy, especially with the raspberries. Homemade jelly - who knew it was so simple!

Serves 4

150ml Cranberry & Raspberry Juice
450ml cold water
4 leaves gelatine
50g caster sugar
Fresh raspberries and mint sprigs, to serve

Heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes, then leave to cool.
Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water then add to the sugar syrup. 
Once the gelatine has dissolved, add the cranberry and raspberry juice and whisk to combine. 
Cool thoroughly.
Place a small handful of raspberries in the bottom of 4 ramekins. Cover with the jelly mixture until just a the top of the fruit, before they start to float. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes until set.
Remove from the freezer and pour over the rest of the jelly mixture.  Leave in the fridge to set (overnight is best).
To serve, place each ramekin in a bowl of hot water for about 10-15 seconds, then turn out onto a plate. 
Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.

Chocolate-filled Crepes: Street Food at Home

A quick (slightly naughty) lunch/snack, taken from The World's Best Street Food by the Lonely Planet.

My little girl loves her Tuesday French lesson, where they have a 'beeskwee' and one day they made French pancakes, and she LOVED them! So she sometimes asks for them at home. Who am I to refuse a six-year-old with her best French accent and the chance of some chocolate...

Crepe a la nutella
Golden brown
Spread with chocolate

Makes 6 pancakes.


1 cup milk
1/5 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
2 eggs
3 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
melted butter for coating pan
sugar/icing sugar for sprinkling


In a bowl, mix the milk and vanilla.

Sift the flour, salt, and sugar together in another bowl.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, and add the eggs and half of the milk and whisk to incorporate the dry ingredients.

When smooth, whisk in the remaining milk and melted butter.

Leave the batter to rest for about half an hour (although I didn't!).

Heat your frying pan over a medium heat, and brush with some melted butter, it should sizzle, but not go brown.

Pour a small amount of batter into the pan, and tilt it so the batter covers the bottom, keeping the pan moving so it doesn't stick. Flip it over after a minute (or less - keep an eye on it, when it starts turning golden brown, it's ready). Give it about 20-30 seconds on the other side, then slide it onto a plate.

Spread nutella on one side, then fold it in half, (you can spread a bit more on half again if you're feeling indulgent) and then in half again.

Sprinkle with sugar or icing sugar and serve warm.

Re-butter the pan and repeat until you have six chocolate filled crepes and two happy children...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Rupa Photography Food Photo Shoot

I spent a fabulous Monday back in February in the studio of Rupa Photography, in a container in Trinity Buoy Wharf, in the East of London, on the River Thames. I made some food, she took some photos. She is fabulously talented, as can be seen from her website, and in person, she makes you feel relaxed and yet valued to work with. The photos really speak for themselves. Thank you Rupa. 

Mini red velvet

Choc-dipped Oaties

Flower Fondant cookies


Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Skylanders Portal of Power Birthday Cake and Cake Pops

My little boy turned 8 yesterday. EIGHT!?! How is that even possible? I'm only twelve myself... (well... that's how I am perceived sometimes...). His current fad is Skylanders Giants, so his request for his birthday cake was, of course, a Skylanders cake. If you don't have a young son who loves playing on his console, you may not know what this means. But if you do, then you will understand. 
My usual strategy of googling images inspired me to create a Portal of Power as the main cake, and my recent cake pop masterclass meant I could try out my new skills to make the heads of the characters into cake pops, rather than modelling complicated figures out of fondant. 
We also had guest at the party who is coeliac, so the cake needed to be gluten-free, so Rachel Allen's 'grown-up' chocolate mousse cake recipe was ideal. 

Ta daaaah!

Happy 8th Birthday, Skylanders Fan!
First I crumb coated the mousse cake in chocolate buttercream icing. Then I rolled out some white fondant, and laid it on the top. Next I began to layer up some grey fondant icing, rolled out and cut in brick/rock shapes, placed in 8 even (ish) shapes.


Then build up the pillars.

More layers

Finished pillars. 
 You can get a great 'rock' effect by simply rolling up some greaseproof paper in a ball and gently pressing it into the icing. Genius. (I read this on another blog, so if it's yours, let me know and I will credit you.) (And thank you!)
Spot the difference!

Use the greaseproof paper trick to make the spiral shape on the top too.
I used another chocolate mousse cake mixed with a bit of buttercream to make cake pops. Make sure you let it stand for a while before  making the cake balls, as it's far too squidgy initally, but after a few hours sitting in the bowl, it will become nice and kneadable.
Fizz Pop v Fizz Pop

Lots of Fizz Pops


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Oven-baked Herb and Feta Stuffed Chicken

Usually I'm a recipe follower/improvisor (better known as fridge-raiding I believe), but tonight, on 5:2 diet fast day, I made up my own! Ok, I had a quick look at my 5:2 Cookbook so was slightly inspired by their herby baked chicken recipe, but I had only the chicken and potatoes of all the ingredients. Yes, potatoes! On the 5:2 diet! Result!

Feta and herb stuffed chicken
Serves: 2
Calories: 275 per person (estimated by comparison to a similar recipe in the 5:2 Cookbook)


4 new potatoes (that's two each, people!)
2 chicken breasts
1 onion, cut in 8
half a courgette, cut in chunks
1 garlic clove, chopped
dried oregano
dried thyme
dried mixed herbs
1 tsp hot mint jelly
50 g feta
150 ml chicken stock


Boil the potatoes until al dente and then cut them into chunks.

Chopped herbs and feta
Chop and mix up the garlic, herbs (use fresh if you can!) and mint jelly with the feta.
Slit a pocket into the chicken breasts and stuff it with the herb and feta mixture.

Lay the potatoes, onions, courgette and asparagus in a baking tray and pour over the stock. Lay the stuffed chicken on top and sprinkle with pepper.

Bake at gas 5 for about 45 minutes.

And enjoy...

(for tomorrow you can eat anything you like!)

Monday, 8 April 2013

Majorcan Food

It's hard to find non-touristy food in the resort of Son Caliu, Majorca. Only 20 minutes from Palma de Mallorca, right next to Palma Nova, and indeed within walking distance of Magaluf, it's a tiny resort with a small secluded beach. However here are the best bits:

Mussels in tomato and chilli sauce. Spicy and flavoursome, and I took all the time
in the world to finish off the sauce, spooning it like a soup, since everybody else
pinched my bread!
Cordon Bleu.
Beer Battered Cod and Chips. Light and fluffy. 

Tenderloin Pork with obligatory touristy peppercorn sauce.

Beer Battered Chicken Breast Burger

Roast Leg of Lamb

Salmon in Cava sauce.

Swordfish (Emperador)

Anchovies in garlic and herbs.