Weekend Food Fair

While technically it’s not summer, May seems to bring the beginning of the summer-time events. This includes, the local food festival – bigger than your average farmers market and full of the best of local.

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One of Tunbridge Well’s first offering of the summer season for foodies is The Pantiles Food Festival (13th-15th May 3016).

I popped down on Saturday and the festival was in full swing, with demonstrations on the bandstand, cocktails in the (sometimes) sun, fresh produce, so much cake, oh and obviously many lunch options!

Having just moved house I told myself to be good – peruse the stalls, get lunch if I was hungry and focus on the tea towels hidden in Trevor Mortram I actually needed! Needless to say that was never going to happen.

I was good – with so many options I could have happily sampled some cocktails with lunch and bought all the local jam, veg, alcohol… but I was particularly caught by two stalls.

The Crow Kitchen & Green Apron.

Being allergic to the outdoors otherwise known as a hay fever sufferer, I am currently making my way through all allergy products. In the mean time I’m trying a new one: eating local honey. Local honey is made by your friendly local bees – the important part being local. Hailing from the same pollen you’re reacting to, eating this honey may help alleviate your symptoms – in theory desensitising you to the pollen.

Either way the raw kentish honey from Green Aprons tastes awesome!

My second purchase is so yummy – honestly my reaction. Macarons can sometimes be a bit hit and miss but The Crow Kitchen have got their recipe bang on. Not only are they soft and a little bit chewy but they also come in some great flavours – blackcurrant with star anise anyone?

I went for the box of 9 to show off with when the boyfriend’s mother comes to visit on Sunday. 3 French Vanilla, 3 Chocolate and 3 Salted Caramel.

P.S. Don’t worry if you’ve missed this food festival – they are back again in September (9th-11th).

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It’s time for pesto!

I am a lover of Pesto – I’m a lucky girly to have first tried this delicious sauce in Italy. If somehow you have escaped pesto, you need to try it!

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Image sourced from Pixabay

I recently made the mistake of looking at the ingredients in my shop bought pesto – let’s just say for the price I was willing to pay I wasn’t impressed at the content.

So to fix my conundrum, I decided to make my own. Now I’m only questioning why I haven’t been making my own for years!

Pesto is best enjoyed fresh, so making your own is pretty hard to beat. Plus, you don’t have to contain yourself to just using it for pasta dishes, this works great with a chicken breast, on a slice of toast or perfect with a mezze style platter.


I’m not going to share with you the perfect recipe for pesto, as I can never seem to create the same sauce twice and this is a sauce that can be adapted easily for your personal taste. But I will share my top tips so you can get the best results:

  • The basics: you will need basil, garlic, parmesan, olive oil, pine nuts, salt and possibly pepper to taste.
  • If you can, use a pestle and mortar – you can control the amount you make easily with this method and don’t run the risk of completely pulverizing your pesto like you might with a blender. However, a blender will still work, just pulse to monitor your constancy!
  • If you’ve never made your own pesto before I would recommend starting with basil, but if you want to make this tonight and don’t have basil to hand, you can try rocket or spinach – for a peppery or creamier taste respectively.
  • Start by adding half a clove of garlic if you’re not a garlic lover – personally a decent sized clove works well for me. But I do LOVE garlic
  • Try toasting your pine nuts first – you’ll find their lovely nutty flavour comes through more

You’ll find many, many, many pesto recipes across the web so you won’t need to look far – try a simple one and adapt to your own needs!

Good luck and enjoy

What to have for dinner tonight

So I don’t know what to have for dinner tonight. I love cooking (love baking more) but I never know what I want to have for dinner!

I fancy things at the most random times and will likely change my mind again five minutes later, so trying to make a meal to suit myself – let alone the rest of the diners – is a bit of a tricky one! But Monday night (yeah, I’m not great on the actual day blogging thing – but shh I’m getting there and learning the balance of work, life and blogging as I go!)

An now I’ve lost my train of thought… maybe learning should have been stongly emphasised.

So Monday… was a last minute, decide two minutes before going shopping affair so I did a cheeky google (*other search engines are available) while the recipe books across the room glared with predictable distain and ended up on one of my favourite online recipe databases – the Jamie Oliver website. Mostly quick and easy and a pretty good choice if you want to try something you have never cooked before – because chances are it’s going to be a bit bish-bash-bosh before you headed to Jamie anyway!

Thai Green Chicken Curry | Jamie Oliver

So that is what Oliver’s looked like… but I just couldn’t find the perfectly marked, rustic chopping board – sob – for my plating so went for the clean and simple look and let my cooking do the talking.

The Dinner Review

“An asian classic with some serious flavour”

Thanks for this one Oliver, might be adding a few tweaks just to tailor the recipe to my pallet but it still does what it says on the tin. The recipe is easy to follow and pretty straight forward if you’re a newly to asian cuisine. The flavour is there but doesn’t hit you round the face with chilli…

So give it a go if you want something fairly quick and easy with bags of flavour tonight.

A healthy summer salad

Healthy Summer Salad // 2015

Healthy Summer Salad // 2015

This is a great one for a creative, what have I got in the fridge kinda day.

My healthy summer salad came about purely by chance – I decided to be a lovely daughter and make lunch for my mother and I. It was a nice, warm day, although the sun was avoiding us, but I still felt like something light and summery.

If you want to make this recipe even healthier there are a few more indulgent pieces you could take out. Such as swapping the bacon for lean turkey breast or the honey dressing for a vinaigrette. Making both these swaps together work nicely too!

 

 

Goats Cheese, Bacon and Beetroot Salad
Tools
  • Large bowl
  • Serving bowls
  • Chopping board
  • Sharp Knife
  • Grill
Ingredients
  • Goats cheese (quarter of a medium sized round per person)
  • Bacon (2 rashers per person)
  • Beetroot (4 small ones per person))
  • Baby tomatoes (6-8 per person)
  • Salad leaves of your choosing
  • Honey (to drizzle)
Method
Healthy Summer Salad // 2015

Healthy Summer Salad // 2015

First place your bacon under the grill – if possible, place on a rack above some aluminium foil in a tray. Keep an eye on this cooking and turn when necessary. Also place your goats cheese on a plate in the bottom of the grill so it starts to melt lightly and warm through.

Now chop up your beetroot and baby tomatoes into roughly bite-sized chunks.

Wash and tear (depending on leaf size) your salad leaves.

Place the previous three ingredients into a large bowl and toss. You can do this just using clean hands if you want.

Now take your cooked bacon and chop into pieces roughly the same size as your beetroot and tomatoes – add this to the salad bowl.

Now drizzle your salad with honey (not too much as more will be added when plating) and give the salad another toss.

Don’t worry if your beetroot stains your other ingredients – they will still taste just as nice! Just remember not to get beetroot on your clothes as it will stain – this is not a meal to be wearing white!

This salad is best served when the bacon and goats cheese are still warm, so grab your bowls and plate up. Then crumble your goats over the top and add one last drizzle of honey.

You’re done – enjoy!

Let me know what you think of this salad below or tell me how you tweaked the recipe to your liking.

Pretentious cheese on toast

so much so that it hasn’t been anywhere near bread…

Okay so ‘cheese on toast’ may have been a bit of a stretch but that’s where the idea stemmed from. I really fancied some cheese on toast, but I currently have no bread in the house – major spanner in the works when you’re talking toast.

So, here we have my latest concoction – luckily this one is perfectly edible (or at least I think so!)

Turkey Pesto Flatbreads with Tomatoes and Red Pepper
Ingredients
  • Flatbread thins
  • Thinly sliced, cooked turkey breast
  • Red pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Green pesto
  • Cheddar cheese
Tools
  • Chopping board
  • Sharp knife
  • Handheld Grater
  • Metal slotted spatula
  • Baking tray
  • Aluminium foil
Methodology (nod to the One month since dissertation hand-in)

First you need to prep your ingredients. Slice the turkey breast into short thin strips, then dice the red pepper and cherry tomatoes. Make sure all your other ingredients and utensils are to hand as next we have the assembly.

Turn your grill onto a medium heat – not too high or your cheese will melt before the rest of the dish has time to warm through.

Now cover your baking tray with the foil and place as many flat breads as you want or can fit onto the tray. Then slowly start to layer up your diced vegetables and the turkey strips until you are happy.

Next drizzle your pesto over the topped flatbreads and finally grate the cheese to your liking over the tray, making sure to cover all the flatbreads.

Pop the tray under the grill and keep an eye on it. When the cheese starts to melt and bubble take the tray back out and leave to cool slightly.

Before the cheese sets again fully or the dish cools down – take your spatular, serve up and enjoy!

Back in the swing of things

One would hope at least!

With the dissertation hand-in done, the last of my uni deadlines and celebrations set for the end of the week and the 21st milestone hit – it is time to become a fully formed adult human bean.

So far, I’m plodding along quite nicely, pretending its not happening!! Got a fairly serious case of the ‘I don’t want to grow up’ going on right now but I’m working through it with a new found love of all things weird and healthy. Much to the dismay of my family and the boyf… note to self bringing home chia seeds, spinach and almond milk will not go down as well as say, umm – any part of a pig?!

It feels very weird to have all this time on my hands. So I am following a tip I learnt this year to stay proactive – make a list. Nothing too daunting or you won’t actually want to start, but enough to give you the self satisfaction of a ‘tick’ when the job is done.

… Maybe Monica knew what she was talking about with her ‘check’ list in Friends!

#PoweringThrough

The Cook’s Kitchen Candle

Kitchen Candle. 2015

Kitchen Candle. 2015

This is one of those stumble upon purchases that you end up completely loving and going back for more…

To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have bought my first, or even second for that matter, Laura Ashely’s Cook’s Kitchen Candle were they not in the sale. That’s not to say they’re not worth the RRP, it’s just I’ve become such a candle enthusiast that I had to give myself a price limit… anything over that and I must stick it on the Christmas list!

It may not seem much, but £10 for a candle is unfortunately just above my self imposed limit, so to see this range in the sale for £6.30 I was a pretty happy bunny. My first purchase was the Olive & Italian Lemon Candle, which gives a subtle but fresh sent to the air. I chose the citrus scented candle thanks to the lemon element, I am a massive verbena fan – unless it starts smelling like toilet cleaner, then I’m out. However, this was not the case so I then went back and purchased the Mandarin & Ginger Candle. I use a lot of ginger and lime in my kitchen, so this candle complements the smells I fill the house with. Again, it’s a really subtle scent, yet still refreshing.

Kitchen Candle. 2015

Kitchen Candle. 2015

This candle also comes in a handy little pot – the famous ‘Kilner’ inspired, if you will. I love a candle with a lid, as much like perfume I tend to flit from scent to scent. It really bugs me when dust settles on the candle and the flame then freaks out when you come to light it again as it burns off all the dust – too much candle drama for me…

There are two other scents in this Cook’s Kitchen Candle range: Sea Salt and English Apple & Mint. These are no most definitely on the 21st wish list!

Have you tried cook’s candles? Let me know what you think and your favourite kitchen scents below…

Wake up sleepy head – it’s time for breakfast

We can stay up all night, swapping manly stories… and in the morning, I’m making waffles!

// Donkey from Shrek
American Pancakes // 2014

American Pancakes // 2014

Shockingly I have only recently discovered these awesome breakfast treats myself. And no – that’s not due to my love of the lie-in, I’ve just never been that experimental with my breakfast. I do have my boyfriend, Alex, to thank for this introduction (I assume I may get in a little bit of trouble if I don’t acknowledge his influence on this matter!) So, with this in mind I have posted the recipe for the first American pancakes I tried below:

YOUR BASIC AMERICAN PANCAKES

Recipe (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 3 large/medium eggs (free range)
  • 115g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (heaped)
  • 140ml milk (I use semi-skimmed)
  • A pinch of salt

Method:

This recipe actually works really well if there are two of you in the kitchen. You can get the pancakes and toppings all sorted and plated up so you sit down at the same time, both feeling like you’ve contributed! One of you takes the pancake prep, the other the toppings prep. But don’t worry if it’s just you – this won’t be too much work! And if there are more of you, you can take shift work on this – or maybe one day, if you’re lucky, reach the coveted ‘breakfast in bed’.

First of all you might want to start off by getting organised. Utensils wise, you will need: two large-medium bowls, a large non-stick pan, a ladle, an electric whisk, a mixing spoon, a set of scales, and a spatula. Plating-up wise you will need: four plates, four sets of knives and forks, various bowls and plates for your toppings. It is also a good idea to have a warm plate on a very low heat in the oven to keep your pancakes warm until you’ve finished cooking all of them – the same goes for keeping your crispy bacon warm, if you’re cooking a lot.

First of all separate your eggs. You want the whites in one bowl and the yolks in the other. Next add your flour, baking powder and milk to the bowl with the yolks and mix everything together. This should form a smooth, thick batter.

Now add the salt to the egg whites and whisk until they form soft peaks. (I use an electric whisk, otherwise you will be there all morning!) Then carefully fold the whites into the batter.

Next, heat your pan on a medium heat. Ladle a spoonful of batter into the pan (repeat one or two more times depending on the size of your pan). Leave for a minute or two, until the bottom starts to go firm and golden in colour. At that point, use your spatula to flip the pancake over and cook the other side until golden too.

Repeat until you run out of batter.

Finally, stack up your American pancakes on the warm plate to serve.

Now for the fun bit – the toppings!

I first tried these fluffy delights back in the summer of 2014. I had just returned from Provence, in the South of France, and Alex cooked me a welcome home breakfast. We had the classic bacon and maple syrup, then a summer berry mix (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries & blueberries) and finally – just to be extra decadent – some lovely honeycomb brought back as a present for Alex from my hol’s. Served with some orange juice, what could be better?!

American Pancakes // 2014

American Pancakes // 2014

I still maintain that the classic crispy bacon and sweet, sticky maple syrup is the best thing for your American pancakes. But I will concede that this may not be either practical nor healthy for the everyday and should maybe just be saved for those occasional lovely and lazy Sunday mornings!

A popular healthy alternative is to add blueberries. These little blue fruits can be served in or on your pancakes, and taste lovely with a dollop of plain yoghurt. You could also great the zest of a lemon or orange into the batter for some citrus zing.

Summer berries are another great go-to with American pancakes. They are fresh and healthy and especially if you’re serving with syrup, they can help to cut through the sweetness with a sour hit.

Another choice is a more savoury classic: bacon and egg. Scrambled is my go-to choice for this dish, but you can experiment and see what works for you.

A new one I am looking forward to trying is sliced banana, with a drizzle of honey. If you fancy indulging your sweet tooth, this topping also works well with chocolate chips thrown into the mix.

I have also heard of Nutella (sorry not a fan) or the very Wimbledon – strawberries and cream.

The beauty of this breakfast is its versatility, it can be a healthy daily go to or that decadent once a month thing. It’s completely up to you, mix and match your toppings and fillings and let me know what you’ve tried below…