Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Get creative with carrots this Christmas and win a £200 meal

Tasty carrot dish
The online garden experts from Love the Garden are delighted to announce the fourth and final vegetable garden competition of 2011 to make sure vegetables won’t be forgotten this December: the Christmas Carrot Competition!

The independent guest judge, Niamh Shields from Eat Like a Girl, will be looking for culinary creativity with carrots. The author of the best recipe will receive a £200 restaurant voucher to a UK restaurant of their choice. Three runners up will receive a copy of Niamh Shields’ cookbook Comfort & Spice.

Entering the competition is easy. All bloggers need to do is:

• Share a carrot recipe on their own blog;
• Mention the competition in the post;
• Tell LovetheGarden by emailing the URL of their entry to entries@lovethegarden.com before 21st December 2011.

The orange root vegetable is a prominent part of traditional Christmas meals, but recipes don’t have to be Christmas themed. Recipes for soups, salads, stir-fries and even cakes with this versatile vegetable are welcomed too.

Lovethegarden launched their first competition to find the best recipes for garden vegetables in February 2011, which encouraged bloggers to be creative with cabbage. The winner was Karolina with her Cabbage & Mushroom Pasties. In August, David Hall won the Potty for Potatoes competition with his Hot potato, bacon and nasturtium salad and the winner of the Taste for Tomatoes competition was Nic from Cherrapeno with her Summer Tomato Tart with Chilli Cheese Pastry. The carrot competition will be the last one for 2011, but in 2012, Lovethegarden will continue to encourage everyone in the UK to eat their five-a-day.

The deadline is 11.59pm (UK time) on 21th December 2011. For more information, please visit the vegetable garden competition page.

FACTFILE:

LovetheGarden ®, ™ and Miracle-Gro, Plus, Scotts and Pour & Feed are trade marks of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company LLC or its affiliates.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

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Silver Spoon Create helps you create masterpiece cakes

The Queen of couture cakes, Mich Turner MBE, launches the new Professional Quality Silver Spoon Create range of edible cake decorations.

To get the best results, professionals recommend that you start with the very best ingredients. Well-known for adding a quality and reliable helping hand to many home bakers, Silver Spoon is taking baking to the next level by teaming up with Mich Turner MBE.

Mich is renowned for the stunning designs she has created for celebrities and royalty and she’s sharing some of her professional secrets in a new range, Professional Quality Silver Spoon Create Designed by Mich Turner.

The selection includes:
Finest Quality Marzipan which is not only made with specially selected Mediterranean almonds, but also 40% more almonds than a standard version to give a particularly superior flavour and texture. RRP for a 500g pack is £3.99.

Ready to roll Madagascan Vanilla White Icing, made with the finest Madagascan Vanilla beans to give an enhanced flavour and ensure a perfectly smooth, pure white finish. RRP for a 1kg pack is £3.29.

Gold, Bronze and Pearl Lustres which can be delicately painted on to hand piped detail or sugar flowers and decorations for a romantic pearl finish. RRP for a 20ml bottle is £2.49.

Find the Professional Quality Silver Spoon Create Designed by Mich Turner range in the home baking aisle in Sainsbury’s.

Previously known as Silver Spoon Cakecraft, the Silver Spoon Create range will include all existing products, plus the new Mich Turner line and is aimed at bakers of all levels hoping to achieve professional looking results.

When you are doing your Christmas baking, shouldn't you reach for the Renshaws?

Smart home bakers know that the best help they can have in their kitchen are items from the Renshaw range.

Making a Christmas cake? Then reach for the Renshaws' edible icing ribbon, to give your cake that glamorous finish that will taste every bit as good as it looks.

And you'll find them in six very exciting and extremely Christmasy colours. Black, pink, blue, yellow, red or green.

And whilst you are at it, why not give your cake a bit of Chirstmas magic by adding some other items from the new Consumer Range from Renshaw's?

There's even something to keep the children happy and baking (under your careful supervision, of course!) with Magic Melting Icing, and Cool Coloured and the Funky Flavoured Sugardough!

For inspiration and full access to the range visit www.mybakes.co.uk and learn how Renshaw can help you be the baking expert that you really always knew you could be.

(EDITOR: But DO make sure some human helpers don't help themselves to too many of the icing products before you get to bake with them! But they are very tempting!)

Saturday, 26 November 2011

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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Get The Festivities Started With Byron Bay Cookies


The new Limited Edition Byron Bay Cookie has been developed to marry the classic flavours of indulgent dark European chocolate with the citrus punch of orange zest providing the perfect cookie treat for winter shoppers.

Each cookie is packed with over 30% premium European dark chocolate chunks and a hint of orange zest, to give a deliciously festive flavour that is sure to follow in the foot-steps of previous seasonal Limited Edition Byron Bay Cookies and be a big seller this winter.

"It has taken months of development to get a cookie that delivers the perfect winter taste as well as being on course with under-lying consumer food trends," commented Paul Maxwell, European Marketing Manager for Byron Bay Cookie Company.

"With extensive taste testing we are confident that we have the perfect winter accompaniment for any tea, coffee or hot chocolate. With the success of previous Limited Edition cookies such as Strawberries & Clotted Cream, Plum Pudding and White Chocolate Chunk and Cranberry we are confident that the Dark Chocolate Orange Cookie will be well received."

Since its launch in Australia during the mid 1990's, Byron Bay Cookie Company has become synonymous with impeccable quality, resulting in numerous awards from all over the globe. In 2008, to allay concerns over food miles, production of the world famous Australian cookie brand started in the UK. These UK-baked Byron Bay Cookies use locally sourced ingredients, free range eggs and premium European chocolate. They are fully approved by the Vegetarian Society and the gluten free range is certified by Coeliac UK. The UK baked product has already won the Vegetarian Societies Award for 'Best Approved Snack Product 2009' for the Triple Choc Fudge Cookie and nominated for the same category in 2010 for the 'Dotty' Cookie.

The new Byron Bay Limited Edition Dark Chocolate Orange Cookie is available from Cafes and Coffee Shops nation-wide. For more information about the full range of Byron Bay Cookies (including the new Limited Edition Dark Choc Orange Cookie) please visit www.byronbaycookies.co.uk

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Muddy Boots And Fine Burger Company Team Up to make this a very good Christmas, indeed!

Muddy Boots Real Foods Limited ("Muddy Boots") and Fine Burger Company are joining forces this Christmas to bring the Muddy Boots Camembert and Cranberry Christmas burger to the St Pancras and the O2 Fine Burger Company restaurants.

Robert Tame, founder Fine Burger Company, said, "This is a fantastic tasting Christmas burger. It's a limited edition offer and the taste is unique. Muddy Boots guarantee the same distinction and provenance that we look for in our own burgers and their Camembert and Cranberry Christmas flavour is really special. We're excited about working together and making burgers taste so good."

The Camembert and Cranberry burger will be on the menu from Monday 28 November until Christmas and Roland and Miranda will be handing out free samples on Wed 30 November and Friday 9 December too.

Roland Ballard, co-founder of Muddy Boots, said: "We have always really liked Fine Burger Company and their dedicated approach to sourcing quality beef and ingredients. We are so excited they like to have a bit of fun with burgers too and we hope that the affiliation this Christmas will go down well with each of our regulars and help introduce both brands to new customers."

Muddy Boots already has a busy lead up to Christmas with its limited edition Camembert and Cranberry beef burger hitting the shelves of Waitrose and helping to launch two new retail contracts with Midcounties Co-Operative and Budgens this month too. The Christmas burger combines the succulent top cuts of Aberdeen Angus beef, which Muddy Boots always uses in its burgers, with the smooth creaminess of the Camembert and the sweet bite of the cranberries.

FACTFILE:

Muddy Boots: www.muddybootsfoods.co.uk
Fine Burger Company: www.fineburger.co.uk

Muddy Boots Real Foods Ltd is a Worcestershire based beef burger company that was founded in December 2008 by Roland and Miranda Ballard.

They featured in BBC One's High Street Dreams in May 2010 and are now stocked in 41 Waitrose stores, with Ocado, Midcounties Co-Operative, Budgens and with some independent retailers and restaurants. They also sell their burgers through their online Muddy Boots foodhall.

Fine Burger Company was founded by Robert Tame in 2003, when he began his mission to upgrade the burger. Everything on the menu is fresh, locally sourced and completely free from additives, preservatives, colourings and GM nasties. The company now has four sites in London: Islington, O2, St Pancras and ExCel Exhibition Centre.

Have Yourself A Very Godminster Christmas

The cheese came to life after Godminster owner Richard Hollingbery bought Godminster Farm and had the waxed cheese made using milk from the farm as a thank-you gift for friends. The cheeses were a great success, so much so that Richard decided to that he should begin making the cheese commercially and as a result the Godminster brand was born.

These days no cheese board is complete without a Godminster cheddar, its rich wax coating making it especially popular at Christmas.

The cheese, which is available in 2kg, 1kg and 400gm rounds as well as a 400gm heart, is delivered beautifully packaged in distinctive Godminster colours, making it an ideal gift for a foodie friend.

Godminster also produces an oak-smoked Godminster cheddar. "We use the same mature cheddar as in our waxed truckles and cold smoke it over oak chippings sourced from sustainable woodland", said Richard Hollingbery, Godminster's owner. These are then hand-wrapped in muslin, making the perfect addition to the Godminster range.

Richard adds: "Our cheeses have been a great success' so much so that over the years we have developed a number of foodie gifts, which always include the cheese, of course! My personal favourite as a traditional Yorkshireman is the cheese and fruit cake combination. When you eat the cheese we find there is no need to remove the wax before cutting. In fact, we find our cheese keeps its creamy consistency best if you keep it in the wax.

"The cheese can be scooped or sliced. Either score around the top and use it as a lid, scooping the cheese out, or cut through the wax like you would a cake. If there's any left replace the lid, wrap the whole cheese in cling film and refrigerate."

The organic cheddar starts at £14.95 and is available from www.godminster.com

Donald Russell On How To Cook The Perfect Turkey

Donald Russell's free range turkey, sourced from the beautiful Loué region of France. These turkeys are slow grown and traditionally bred to give a wonderful plump, meaty, turkey taste.

The Donald Russell turkey is priced at £56, feeds 6-8 people and is available from www.donaldrussell.com

Please find below tips from Donald Russell on how to cook the perfect turkey:

* Weigh your bird to calculate the cooking time and place in a preheated oven at 230C/450F/Gas7 for 30 minutes.

* After 30 minutes reduce the temperature to 180C/360F/Gas4 and cook for a further 15-18 minutes per 450g.

* Rest for 20-30 minutes. If you need to keep the bird warm for longer, cover with oil and lower the oven to 60C. Your turkey will stay warm for up to an hour.

(EDITOR: Those tips are clear, concise and to the point. Could it be that the long-winded advice from some experts cause more confusion than enlightenment?)

Christmas Made Easy With Heart Of Gold's Christmas Cake Cupcakes


The season of goodwill is fast approaching so why not keep your spirits up and be of good cheer with this healthy and incredibly easy-to-make alternative to Christmas cake, made with Heart of Gold Rapeseed Oil!

Heart of Gold is a 100% natural, pure, rapeseed oil grown, produced and bottled by farmer Nick Bradley on his farm overlooking the picturesque Vale of Belvoir, on the Lincolnshire/Leicestershire border.

Bursting with flavour - chef Tristan Welch of Launceston Place deemed it tasted ‘like a summer’s day!’ - and oozing with healthy goodness, Heart of Gold is grown, pressed, triple-filtered (for maximum purity, taste and nutritional content) and bottled in the same square mile, making it a completely sustainable and traceable British product, originating from fields right in the Heart of England.

Rapeseed oil enjoys many health and culinary benefits. It has been proved to contain only half the saturated fat of olive oil and is packed with Vitamin E (a natural antioxidant) and Omegas 3, 6 & 9. In addition, it’s free from preservatives, trans-fats and artificial colourings, all of which make it the ideal choice for lowering cholesterol and promoting a healthy heart.

It can be used either cold or hot - where its high flashpoint makes it particularly versatile, but what many people don’t realise is that rapeseed oil can be used in baking as well!

This delicious Christmas Cake Cupcake recipe has been devised for Heart of Gold by local Lincolnshire cupcake supremo, Kate Elizabeth of Enchanting Cakes www.enchanting-cakes.com and the results are simply mouth-watering. The quantities of mixed fruit and marzipan can be altered according to taste, and the mixture can equally well be used for one whole cake, or doubled up for a super-sized one!

Say goodbye to the days of sad-looking Christmas cake, still sitting there in its tin at Easter, and welcome the arrival of a light, moreish and healthy Christmas cake cupcake, which you can whip up in a matter of minutes – although be warned, it will probably be devoured just as quickly!

Heart of Gold Christmas Cake Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

Equipment


Mixing bowl

Electric whisk/ wooden spoon

Spoon/ ice cream scoop

Spatula

12 cup muffin pan

12 muffin cases



Ingredients

3oz (75g) unsalted butter OR Margarine *butter will produce a richer sponge*

3oz (75g) Heart of Gold Rapeseed oil

6 oz (175g) Dark brown sugar

3 eggs

8oz (225g) self-raising flour

3 1/2 oz (100g) mixed dried fruit

2oz (50g) chopped golden marzipan


Before you start

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin cases.

Pre heat oven, 180oC, 160oC fan oven, gas mark 4.


How to make

1. Using a wooden spoon or electric whisk if possible soften the butter in a bowl until it forms a creamy soft texture.

2. Add in the Heart of Gold rapeseed oil and combine with the butter.

3. Add in the dark brown sugar and mix well with the butter/rapeseed oil.

4. Add the eggs one by one into the mixture until all 3 are well mixed in. Adding the eggs one by one also prevents from spoiling the mixture if you happen to come across a bad egg.

5. Sift in the self-raising flour and bring the mixture together.

6. Finally stir in the mixed dried fruit and marzipan.

6. Divide the cake mixture between the 12 muffin cases using a spoon or ice cream scoop.

7.Place on the middle shelf in the oven for 20 minutes. If are unsure if the cupcakes are baked after 20 minutes gently press the top of one of the cupcakes. It should feel spongy and bounce back up.

8. Once baked remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cool wire.

Decorate with some Christmas sparkle and enjoy!

Festive Food For All Budgets At Aldi

Whatever your budget, Aldi has everything you need for your Christmas Day festive feast. From traditional fresh British turkey to melt-in-the-mouth mince pies, you're guaranteed to impress your guests with the quality of your dishes - and all at the lowest possible price.
Don't forget, Aldi Special Buys are only available as long as stocks last, so don't miss out!

Luxury at Aldi...

NEW! Four Bird Roast - 1.48kg, £9.99

A new twist on one of Aldi's most famous Christmas dishes, the handmade Four Bird Roast includes turkey, goose and duck breast meat layered with a pork, sage and onion stuffing, all wrapped in a basted chicken breast. This delicious dish also includes a marmalade glaze, specially created by TV chef Phil Vickery.


Frozen Whole Stuffed Duck - £8.99, 1.4kg

This whole, deboned, stuffed duck is perfectly prepared to make serving guests easy and is also a great addition to turkey come Christmas Day.

This product is a Special Buy, on sale 30th November and available as long as stock lasts.

(Awaiting image from McCann)

Frozen Whole Goose - £19.99, 4.8kg

A traditional Christmas meat, goose is making a comeback to the season's festivities. Aldi's delicious and succulent Whole Goose is great value at £19.99. Serve with roast potatoes, fresh vegetables and piping hot gravy.

This product is a Special Buy, on sale 30th November and available as long as stock lasts.

Specially Selected Roast Potatoes in Goose Fat - £1.39, 1kg

These roast potatoes with a soft, fluffy centre and crispy golden coating are a firm favourite with families.

Phil Vickery says: "These are always a winner with me and my family; the potatoes are perfectly sized, cook really well and taste delicious."

This is a seasonal product, on sale from 5th October 2011 throughout the Christmas period.


New! Specially Selected Yorkshire Puddings - 99p, Pack of 4

Try these delicious Specially Selected Yorkshire Puddings - a bargain at 99p.

Phil Vickery says: "These are very good indeed; they look homemade and are perfect for a family Christmas dinner."

This is a seasonal product, on sale from 5th October 2011 throughout the Christmas period.



New! Specially Selected Lobster Tails - £11.99 each

Add a real touch of class to Christmas starters with Aldi's luscious Specially Selected Lobster Tails. A new addition to Aldi's seasonal range, these easy to cook lobster tails taste really great. Each pack contains two tails.

This product is a Special Buy, on sale from 30th November for as long as stocks last.

Specially Selected Christmas Pudding - £3.49, 454g

This decadent Christmas pudding is made with the finest vine fruits, crunchy almonds, glacé cherries and pecans. It is generously laced with sherry and Cognac, with a good helping of candied peel and mixed fruit to add a little festive zing. Matured for a minimum of six months for a rich flavour, it is perfect served with brandy cream.

This is a seasonal product, on sale from 31st October 2011 throughout the Christmas period.

New and Improved! Luxury All Over Iced Christmas Cake - £6.99, 1.2kg

This Luxury All Over Iced Christmas Cake is new and improved for 2011 and is set to give fruit cake fans a real treat. Made from only the finest natural ingredients, including juicy sultanas marinated in French Brandy, natural coloured cherries and fragrant lemon zest, it is jam-packed with festive flavour.

This is a seasonal product, on sale from 28th November 2011 throughout the Christmas period.

Specially Selected Mince Pies - £1.69, Pack of 6

The epitome of Christmas, no dinner table is complete without an abundance of mince pies. Aldi's Specially Selected Mince Pies are filled with the finest Mediterranean fruit, which has been dried naturally in the Mediterranean sun, then laced with French Brandy and a hint of mixed spice for a festive kick. The luxurious filling is wrapped in an all-butter pastry and oven baked until golden brown.

This is a seasonal product, on sale from 18th September 2011 throughout the Christmas period.

Extra Thick Brandy Cream with Courvoisier VS Cognac - £1.49, 250ml

At Aldi you will find everything you need for the festive season, including the ideal dessert accompaniment - a decadent double cream combined with Courvoisier VS Cognac and French Brandy. Jazz up a warm mince pie or add a touch of sophistication to Christmas pudding with this indulgent brandy cream.

This is a Special Buy product, on sale from 5th December 2011 for as long as stocks last.


Veuve Monsigny Premier Cru Champagne - £15.99, 75cl

An ideal pre-dinner treat, Veuve Monsigny Premier Cru Champagne hails from a village in the Champagne region of France which is highly rated for the quality of its wines. With subtle aromas of brioche and pear and a delicate flavour of honey and bright fruits, this elegant Champagne is a must-have buy for the Christmas celebrations.

This product is a Special Buy, on sale from 4th December for as long as stocks last.

On a Budget at Aldi...

Holly Lane Mince Pies - £0.99, Pack of 6

If you are on a strict budget this Christmas, you can still keep the cupboards well stocked with some of Aldi's great value festive treats. You will find these bargain buys at just 99p for six. (EDITOR: But these value products from Aldi taste as good as some retailer's 'quality' ranges! )


60 Piece Snack Selection - £4.00, 1.2 kg

The ultimate saviour for Boxing Day buffets, this 60-piece snack selection is all you'll need to impress guests who are bored with turkey. Available in Chinese or Indian, at just £4 each you could serve up both.

This product is a Special Buy, on sale 30th November and available as long as stock last.


Duck Spring Rolls - £1.00, 144g, pack of 8

Keep these stocked up for either a Christmas Eve celebration or a Boxing Day buffet. Available in packs of 8, these tasty Duck Spring Rolls will add some oriental flair to the season and make your guests think you've spent a small fortune. They are a must-have for the perfect host.

This product is a Special Buy, on sale 30th November and available as long as stock lasts.


Filo Prawns - £2.00, 192g, pack of 16

Available in packs of 16, Aldi's Filo Prawns are an ideal starter for Christmas dinner. They are fuss-free and easy to cook, so you'll have time to concentrate on perfecting your main course.

This product is a Special Buy, on sale 30th November and available as long as stock lasts.

Bramwells Cranberry Sauce - 59p, 200g

This classic cranberry sauce is a must-have with a delicious Christmas dinner and all the trimmings. The mouth-watering condiment is packed with juicy cranberries, and its re-sealable packaging will make it last well beyond the festive season.

Gateau - £1.99, 630g/ 600g

Spoil your guests with Aldi's delicious gateau, available in three indulgent flavours: chocolate, strawberry or Black Forest.

This product is a Special Buy, on sale 30th November and available as long as stock lasts.


Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura Sparkling Chardonnay - £6.99, 75cl

A multi-award winning wine, Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura is a decadent sparkling Chardonnay, worthy of any festive celebration.

Available in stores all year round.

And don't forget the Festive Drinks offering from Aldi!

Picking the perfect party aperitif or finding the ideal wine for a festive dinner doesn't have to break the Christmas budget this year. With Aldi, there's a great-value top tipple for every occasion.

Grandi Mori Prosecco Spumante Magnum - £12.99, 1.5 litres

This product is a Special Buy on sale from 4th December for as long as stocks last.

Christmas parties call for a glass of fizz, and with this Grandi Mori Prosecco Spumante Magnum, which is twice the size of the average bottle, there's more than enough to keep a gaggle of guests happy. The bubbles in this light and refreshing Prosecco make way for attractive autumn fruits and delicate floral touches. At just £12.99 per bottle, this is an extra-large treat, without the extra-large price tag.

Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura Sparkling Chardonnay - £6.99, 75cl

Available in stores all year round.

A multi-award winner, Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura Sparkling Chardonnay is produced in the same way as Champagne. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes grown on the slopes of the Jura Mountains, its second fermentation, which creates the sparkle, is carried out in the bottle. This refreshingly dry vintage has crisp citrus notes and a pleasing length, meaning that it would be well-matched with light starters, such as seafood.

Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura Sparkling Chardonnay has scooped an array of awards, including Silver International Wine Challenge 2011, Bronze International Wine & Spirit Challenge 2011 and Quality Drink Awards Finalist 2011.

Freeman's Bay Sauvignon Blanc - £5.49, 75cl

Available in stores all year round.

Looking for a white wine to wow dinner guests? Then look no further than Aldi's well-respected Freeman's Bay Sauvignon Blanc, which is a stunning match for fish and seafood. Zesty, refreshing and packed with ripe gooseberries, this wine from New Zealand's Marlborough region is a superb vintage with a surprising length for such a young wine.

Freeman's Bay Sauvignon Blanc received a Bronze award in the International Wine Challenge 2011.

New! Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2006 - £5.99, 75cl

Available in stores all year round.

Aldi's latest wine is a full-bodied, classic Rioja Reserva, which has been carefully aged in oak casks for three years and has intense red fruits leading to hints of blackcurrant and cherry. Add to this the perfectly balanced festive flavours of fine vanilla and oak spices, and you have the perfect accompaniment to Christmas roast meat dishes.

Bushland Premium Estate Barossa Valley Shiraz - £4.99, 75cl

Available in stores all year round.

Full-bodied with a soft, earthy and spicy style, this festive tipple has rich black cherry and creamy chocolate flavours. Carefully picked from a selection of Southern Australia's finest wine estates, this stylish, classic Barossa Shiraz is an ideal partner to a wide variety of rich Christmas meat dishes.

Specially Selected Irish Cream Liqueur - £5.99, 70cl

This is a Seasonal Product on sale from 30th October for as long as stocks last.

A festive classic with a smooth, mellow finish, Specially Selected Irish Cream Liqueur is perfect for a Christmas nightcap or an indulgent addition to after-dinner coffee. Made with Aldi's exclusive blend of fresh cream and Irish whiskey and priced at just £5.99, it also makes a fantastic-value gift for Mum or Grandma with no compromise on quality.

An award winning product, Specially Selected Irish Cream Liqueur won a Bronze award in the International Spirits Challenge 2011.

Taylor's Ports

Taylor Fladgate and Yeatman joined together to start making Port wine in 1692. In that time nations have been founded, have grown, crumbled and faded away, wars have been fought but Taylor's Port continues to be made by the same families who created their Port wine dynasty near 320 years ago.

Taylor's 10 Year Old Tawny Port is aged for 10 years in wooden casks and is then carefully bottled. And it should then be carefully drunk, to ensure that the warm, rich tastes of a combination of fruits is not wasted.

My wife and I have a special Christmas tradition. Every year just before Christmas we like to take some Stilton cheese, some mince pies  and some Taylor's 10 Year Old Tawny Port and settle down to some festive feasting whilst watching the 1951 version of Scrooge. Sometimes we also watch the George C. Scott version, filmed in Shrewsbury, too.

If we do not have any Taylor's 10 Year Old Tawny Port to hand, we instead will replace this with an extremely good substitute, some Taylor's Late Bottled  Vintage Port, which being younger that the Taylor's 10 Year old Tawny Port, has a different range of equally appealing fruity flavours, but is a little less well-developed.

This year my wife and I were both suffering from colds. My wife remarked: "Are you starting to feel better?" I had to acknowledge that I was starting to feel a  little warmed and that my cold was now nowhere near as oppressive as it had been, before I had started to drink the Port.

My wife took another sip of her Taylor's, smiled, and said in tones of extreme satisfaction: "No wonder doctors used to prescribe Port!"

Taylor's 10 Year Old Tawny Port costs from £19.99 and is available from E. H. Booths, Majestic, Morrison's, Sainsbury, Selfridges, Teso, Wholefoods Market and Waitrose.

Taylors Late Bottled Vintage Port should cost you from £13.99 a bottle and is widely available.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

BBC Good Food Show

It is the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC this week, with the launch today. I will be there today.

That's Food and Drink and That's Christmas will be reporting on what is available at the Good Food Show over the next week or so.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The perfect Free-Range Christmas Turkey Box with Streaky Bacon from field&flower

City boy James Mansfield (28) and farmer's son James Flower (25) - the pair behind premium online meat delivery company field&flower - have unveiled their limited edition Free-range Christmas Turkey Box with Streaky Bacon.

field&flower (www.fieldandflower.co.uk)offers a variety of premium Somerset meat all year round, delivered monthly from Home Farm in the Gordano Valley.

field&flower Christmas Free-Range Turkey Box with Streaky Bacon

£85 including free delivery

The box contains a fantastic free-range bronze or British white bird that has been raised and slow grown outside on a local Somerset farm. This box also contains 3 packs of free range streaky bacon.

Welfare – Outside reared from 6 weeks, handled by our stockman and left free to roam in extensive paddocks when weather permits
Diet - Fed on natural vegetation found within the paddocks and cereals
Age – Fully matured birds between 6 – 7 months in age.
Production – Free range birds from one traditional farmer. Dry plucked.

Set minimum weight per bird is 6.5 kg+ (14lb 5oz) which provides 12 – 14 servings, oven size guide: 37cm (L) x 22cm (W) x 20cm (H).

Delivery date: Choose from Thursday 22nd or Friday 23rd December.

Each customer/delivery will receive a 20% New Year discount voucher, to be used in January 2012.

field&flower Christmas Gift Box:

£55 with free delivery

field&flower have also put together a special Christmas Gift Box, the perfect gift for any meat-lover this Christmas. The limited edition box is available to be delivered up until 23rd December 2011, just in time for the Big Day.

Somerset Smoked Salmon, 200g
Traditional Gammon, 1.3kg
4 Week Hung Beef Topside or Silverside, 1.3kg
Free Range Pork Chipolatas, 8 pack
Traditional Thick Cut Free Range Back Bacon, 6 pack
12 Free range Mini Chipolatas wrapped in Streaky Bacon

Choose your delivery date: Wednesday 21st, Thursday 22nd or Friday 23rd.

FACTFILE:
field&flower rear and butcher their own traditional breed cattle on Home Farm in North Somers where the Flower family has been farming for five generations. They also carefully and ethically source the very best pork, lamb and organic chicken from neighbouring farms.

Their easy-to-use website allows customers to create their own monthly meat box from just £55, delivered straight to their door. It is also possible to change the content of the box on a monthly basis for ultimate flexibility. Customers can also place one-off orders from the website.

Fantastic! Caskmarque launches Real Ale Trail Caskfinder App!

Caskfinder app
The popular CaskFinder smartphone application has launched the World’s Biggest Ale Trail.

Available for iPhone and Android, the World's Biggest Ale Trail offers customers the chance to use their phone's camera to scan QR codes placed on Cask Marque certificates in accredited pubs. There are 7,500 Cask Marque pubs and bars across the UK to choose from to take part in the World’s Biggest Ale Trail.

The app records the number of pubs visited and rewards prizes for milestones of 25, 50 and 100 pubs. Once you have scanned 100 pub barcodes you become a Cask Marque ambassador, which includes the opportunity to spend the day with an assessor, visiting a number of pubs to see how Cask Marque ensure a quality pint.

Real ale is helping to save the great British institution of the pub - the recent Cask Report found cask drinkers are more than twice more likely to visit pubs on a regular basis than non-cask drinkers. With the opportunity to try before you buy, cask is recruiting new drinkers – 10% of drinkers tried it for the first time in the last 12 months.

Cask Marque Director, Paul Nunny, who is responsible for the quality of ale in pubs said: “Cask ale is a British institution which should be celebrated by everyone up and down the country. The CaskFinder app helps customers get the most out of their pub visits and rate their favourite beers, sharing tried and tested favourites with other app users.”

Download the upgraded version of CaskFinder straightaway to start your very own World’s Biggest Ale Trail.

For any further information please contact Anna Jones or Sarah Stevenson at Seal on 0121 616 5800 or sarahstevenson@seal.uk.com

FACTFILE:

CaskFinder is designed to help consumers enjoy and appreciate Cask Ale wherever they may be in the UK! Combining data from the Cask Marque pub quality inspection scheme and the Cyclops® beer standardisation initiative, both industry sponsored bodies, CaskFinder has a host of features to aid customers in the pursuit of ale drinking.

On top of the NEW World’s Biggest Ale trail, CaskFinder has a range of features for any beer enthusiast:

• CaskFinder uses the location-awareness of the smartphone to show customers their nearest Cask Marque award winning pubs – 7,500 to choose from
• Details of the cask beers on sale in each pub
• Description of over 1,000 beers from 250 brewers using Cyclops Beer database
• Rate beers to help other ale fans
• Find similar beers
• Beer Festivals – a complete list with contact details, admission prices and maps
• Beer Blog – from award winning writer, Pete Brown, that gives you an inside track on the beer industry
• Beer of the Week – a featured beer of interest
• New Bar code reader for bottled beers – try it on your Tiger beer to get the full Cyclops descriptors and suggested beers for you to try

Cask Marque was set up in 1998 to promote cask ale but in particular beer quality.

The 7,500 award winning Cask Marque pubs receive 2 unannounced visits a year and the qualified assessors check up to six beers on the bar for temperature, taste, appearance and aroma. Any adverse consumer feedback triggers a mystery drinker visit.

The app allows consumers to keep a pub guide in their pocket with stacks of useful information. Currently 46% of consumers who drink cask ale recognise the Cask Marque plaque (NOP survey)

Scottish Win for Costa Coffee's Barista of the Year's Speciality Drink

Costa Coffee Winner Boyd Murdoch
Costa Coffee's (www.costa.co.uk) Winner of Best Speciality Drink at this year's Barista of the Year Awards was Boyd Murdock from Scotland with his Cranachan Affogato, an espresso based coffee. He fought off tough competition which was open to all 25,000 barista's worldwide and ended with a final twelve baristas from India, Asia and Europe, after weeks of perfecting the final recipes.

The Winning Drink - A Cranachan Affogato

1 teaspoon Honey
1 small scoop of vanilla icecream
3 teaspoons raspberry coulis
Raspberry syrup
1 teaspoon toasted pin head oatmeal
1 shot of Costa mocha Italia coffee

Layer ingredients into the glass. First add the honey, next the icecream and raspberry coulis. Then sprinkle the oatmeal over the top and drizzle a little of the syrup. At the last minute, add the shot of hot Costa coffee. Serve immediately and enjoy. In this way the coffee stays hot and the icecream doesn’t melt.

Flying the flag for Scotland, Boyd who works at the Ayr Central Costa Coffee store, wanted to prove that great coffee can be found just as easily in a quiet seaside town as it can in a bustling metropolis.

(PICTURED: Boyd Murdoch experimenting with ingredients)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Blue Nun Sparkling Gold ... For Life’s Golden Moments



It may be a little early for some, but the party season is just around the corner and that means plenty of sparkle and a glass or two of fizz! (EDITOR: Never too early for a bit of fizz!)

 

For all those celebrations and family get togethers, Blue Nun has released a new sparkling Gold Edition white wine, complete with distinctive fine flecks of delicate 22 carat gold leaf!

Designed with all the glitz and glamour of the party season in mind, the iconic brand, owned by Langguth Wines in Germany, has used their passion, heritage and expertise to create a delicate, subtle quality sparkling white wine with a lovely light fruitiness (alc 11.00%). 

Blue Nun has crafted the Gold Edition with a full, rounded flavour, this light and elegant style wine has the exciting addition of gold flecks to highlight the natural effervescence of sparkling white wine.

The Gold Edition is ideal as an aperitif or to accompany light bites and hors d’oevres so it’s well suited for the party season, special occasions, celebrations or just for fun!

Blue Nun Sparkling Gold Edition is priced at £6.99 per 75cl bottle and is available to buy on-line from www.drinks2home.co.uk. or   www.drinksdirect.co.uk

The Blue Nun Sparkling will also be available to buy at the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC Birmingham which runs from 23-27th November 2011, stand number U70.

(EDITOR: OK, some will say this is a gimmick.  All my wife and I know is that when we gently (VERY gently!) inverted the bottle and put it upright again, the flecks of genuine gold danced and shimmered in the light from our Christmas candles as they slowly fluttered down to the bottom of the bottle.

As for the taste? Absolutely gorgeous. It is not too dry, nor is it too sweet, it has a fruity and pleasing taste and it has just the right amount of bubbles. It is one of the nicest sparkling white wines of any type that we have ever tried. Getting some in for Christmas? At £6.99 a bottle? I should think so!)

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Redwood Food voted 'most ethical'

The Redwood Wholefood Company is the most ethical vegetarian food firm in the UK, says The Good Shopping Guide.

Every year, the consumer handbook reveals ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of the country’s companies and brands, giving each an ethical score out of 100 based on factors such as animal welfare, the environment and workers’ rights.

This year Corby-based Redwood, which produces over 50 different cruelty-free foods under the Cheatin’, Cheezly and Vegideli brand name, scores 96%, the highest rating of any vegetarian food company included.

Others brands featured are Linda McCartney which scores 75%, Realeat (75%), Cauldron (71%), Quorn (71%), Fry’s (67%), Wicken Fen (67%), Dalepak (63%) and Tivall (54%).

“While some are undoubtedly cashing in on a well-meaning but time-poor veggie community, others are producing genuinely innovative vegetarian and vegan products,” reports the guide. “One such company is Redwood Wholefoods.”

Commenting on the rating, Nigel Phillips, Redwood’s managing director, said: “I am delighted to be heading up such an ethical company. Although we are at the top of the class we are not going to sit back but continue to move forward with the aim of getting that 100% spot.”

All Redwood foods are made from 100% natural plant-based ingredients and free from animal products/derivatives, cholesterol, artificial colours/preservatives, lactose, hydrogenated fats and GMOs. They are also kosher certified.

You’ll find them in good health food stores including Holland and Barrett, selected supermarkets and online at
www.redwoodfoods.co.uk.

FACTFILE:
(www.redwoodfoods.co.uk)

Owned by charity campaigner Heather Mills, Redwood is the leading supplier of vegan foods to the health trade and 100% British. Rated the UK’s most ethical vegetarian foods supplier by The Ethical Company Organisation, Redwood produces more than 50 different foods under the Vegideli, Cheatin’ and Cheezly brand names at its animal-free factory in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Everything in its range is made from 100% natural plant-based ingredients so free from animal products and derivatives as well as cholesterol, artificial colours/preservatives, lactose, hydrogenated fats and GMOs, making them suitable for vegetarians and vegans as well as those looking for healthier and more ethical lifestyles. Widely recognised as one of the most innovative and inspirational vegetarian food companies in the UK, Redwood is renowned for being at the cutting edge of food manufacturing and exports to 18 countries worldwide.

Monday, 14 November 2011

That's Health: Antioxidant-Packed Winter Drinks Recipes

That's Health: Antioxidant-Packed Winter Drinks Recipes: AOk Drinks is the perfect drink to serve at parties during the festive season: with or without alcohol www.aokdrinks.com AOk Winter Warm...

New range of delicious British pies from Walkers

A brand new line of quintessentially British pies is being launched into stores this month (November) by Walkers. This traditional brand, known for its authentically British pies, is undertaking a complete re-launch and branching into the hot pie sector. The new hot pie range is designed to appeal to those looking for premium produce that stands out from the crowd.

The new range of Walkers pies includes three different varieties of two-pie packs; Supreme Steak & Stilton, Sumptuous Steak and Classic Chicken, White Wine & Mushroom (2 x 250g) and a single Glorious Chicken & Chorizo Pie (250g). These mouth-watering, impeccably flavoured pies are perfect for foodies seeking high quality wholesome British produce.

The year 2012 will bring a host of prestigious events to the UK and what better way to celebrate than with a perfectly British pie. Embracing the brand’s love for all things British, the packaging comprises a bright and bold Union Jack design. These pies are ideal for dinner parties with a difference and as a hot gastronomic treat for friends and family.
Walkers uses only the best quality British meats in its pies. Superbly flavoured with herbs, spices and complementary ingredients such as Stilton and Chorizo, each pie is skilfully encased in a rich and crisp short crust pastry.

With a distinct heritage in pie making, Walkers was born from Walker & Son, founded in Leicester in 1824. The brand has grown over the years and as well as launching the new hot-pie range, now also offers the re-branded Walkers Pork Pie, which will also include the new Union Jack themed branding.

The hot pie range is available from 14th November in Waitrose supermarkets. The single pie retails at the RRP of £2.79 and the two-pack pies at £4.99.

Walkers also has a cold pie range, consisting of The Picnic Pie (148g), The Crispy Classic (300g) and The Original (440g) available in The Co-operative, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose and retailing between £0.95 - £2.99 respectively.

For more information on Walkers and its range of pies, please see www.walkerspies.co.uk

Sunday, 13 November 2011

FSA warning on certain jars of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce

The Food Standards Agency is advising people not to consume specific jars of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce. This is because of the risk of botulism poisoning.

Only one jar from the batch is known to have been contaminated with the bacteria Clostridium botulinum, which causes botulism, but the Agency is advising people not to eat products from this batch as a precautionary measure.

The affected batch is:
  • 350g jars of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce with a 'best before' date of February 2013.
  • The sauce has a batch code of: 1218R 07:21.
Anyone who has any of the jars from this batch of Loyd Grossman Korma sauce should not eat it. No other batches of Loyd Grossman products are thought to be affected.
Two members of the same family who have contracted botulism and have eaten from a jar of this batch of sauce have been hospitalised in Scotland. The FSA will issue more information as it becomes available.

FACTFILE:
Botulism is rare in the UK and is caused by toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which attacks the nervous system and can affect people of any age. The infection is not contagious and so cannot be spread from person to person. Symptoms of foodborne botulism typically begin between 12 and 36 hours after ingestion of contaminated food, but may appear in as little as six hours.

Symptoms to look out for are a combination of blurred vision, difficulty swallowing and difficulty speaking – symptoms that rapidly worsen. They are then followed by general muscle weakness. Any person, child or adult, with these symptoms should seek urgent medical advice. Antitoxins have proved very effective in treating the condition if treated early, although full recovery may take several months.

Anyone who has consumed this product and is concerned about the symptoms above should seek urgent medical advice. Outside of normal hours, they can contact NHS DIRECT on 08454647.

Five fabulous japanese whisky cocktails for Christmas

Suntory Japanese whisky proposes a quintet of flavoursome cocktails to make the Christmas festivities go with a swing.

Created by top mixologist Zoran Peric, two of the cocktails celebrate the winter months of the traditional 24-season Japanese year. Three have been created by Zoran especially for a British Christmas with a Christmas Eve cocktail to set the mood, a Christmas Day aperitif in preparation for lunch and a Boxing Day Banger to make the party start.

Zoran has chosen ingredients likely to be found on Christmas drinks trolleys up and down the land for simple, easy- to-make drinks.

Christmas Eve cocktail

Recipe:

• 50ml Hibiki 17 YO blended whisky
• 25ml Mandarine Napoleon
• Vanilla pod (opened)
• Mandarin orange peel/
• Tangerine peel

Christmas Day aperitif

Recipe:
• 50ml Hakushu 12 YO single malt whisky
• 20ml dry sherry
• 6ml sugar syrup
• lemon peel.grapefruit peel

Boxing Day Banger

Recipe:

• 50ml Yamazaki 12 YO single malt whisky
• 15ml sweet sherry
• Orange peel

Name: HIBIKI HOLIDAY TOAST

Method:

• Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass
• Add vanilla pod and mandarin zest
• Strain over ice into a whisky glass
• Garnish with curled tangerine peel

Name: SMOKEY HAKUSHU MARTINI

Method:

• Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass
• Stir 30 times with lemon peel
• Strain into a martini glass
• Garnish with curled grapefruit peel

Name: YAMAZAKI YELL

Method:

• Pour ingredients over ice in a mixing glass
• Stir 30 times
• Strain into a chilled martini glass
• Garnish with curled orange peel

The refined flavours and meticulous attention to detail of Japanese whisky are echoed in the subtle variations of the 24 Japanese seasons. Harmony with nature is a defining characteristic of Japanese culture. The cocktails for the month of December echo the seasons and their names. The first two weeks of December are called Taisetsu – the period of the large snows. The second two weeks are called Toji – the winter solstice – for which Zoran has created a flaming Christmas Blazer.

In celebrating these two seasons, Zoran has chosen elaborate symbols of Japan to create cocktails with a touch of luxury.

Early December

Recipe:

• 40ml Hibiki 17 YO blended whisky
• 20ml Umeshu plum sake
• 2 drops of chocolate bitters
• 20ml hot water
• Green tea
• Orange Zest
• Dried tea flower

Winter Solstice (Christmas Blazer)

Recipe:

• 50ml Yamazaki 12 YO single malt whisky
• 15ml Mandarine Napoleon
• 6ml absinthe
• Brown sugar, vanilla pod, cinnamon,
• Cloves, star anise
• Orange peel

Name: HIBIKI TAISETSU

Method:

• Stir all ingredients with green tea
• Strain into a warm balloon glass
• Place flower into an old-fashioned glass
topped up with hot water
• Place balloon glass on top of warm
old-fashioned glass and serve

Name: YAMAZAKI TOJI

Method:

• Stir half the whisky and all ingredients into a wide-topped glass and flame for 15 seconds
• Warm rest of Yamazaki in a balloon glass
• Pour flaming mix into the balloon glass for 5 seconds then extinquish by placing a napkin over the glass
Zoran, who is Brand Ambassador of Suntory whiskies, says: “The whiskies are exquisite and in these simple and adventurous recipes they add a new dimension to Christmas pleasure”.

Note: Pronounciation of the whiskies’ names
• Yamazaki – (Ya-ma-zarkee)
• Hakushu – (Ha-koo-shoe)
• Hibiki – (Hee-bee-kee)
Suntory single malt and blended whiskies are available from: Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, The Whisky Exchange, independent specialist retailers and drinkon.com priced from:
Yamazaki 12 year old £42
Hakushu 12 year old £49.95
Hibiki 17 year old £70

The Yamazaki range of single malt whiskies from Suntory is distributed in the UK by Cellar Trends. For all sales enquiries contact: sales@cellartrends.co.uk

Gran Stead' s New Christmas drink raises a festive cheer

Christmas drinks to raise a cheer
Sussex’s award-winning drinks creators Gran Stead’s are turning up the heat this winter with a new alcohol-free tipple which makes a hearty Christmas drink.

Gran Stead’s Light and Fiery Ginger Wine has been created in response to calls for an even more deeply-spiced sister to top-selling Gran Stead’s Dark and Mellow Ginger Wine.

Both these handmade beverages are big on flavour, making them a satisfying choice for drivers and those avoiding alcohol - they certainly won’t be left feeling hard done by.

“Our new drink is unashamedly fiery and is targeted at those who love their ginger,” says Chris Knox, who with wife and business partner Rosemary developed the latest recipe at their Sussex base.

“It is proving to be a real hit with our customers, and is particularly popular now the cold nights have set in, as people appreciate a smooth drink that gives a bit of a kick.”

Gran Stead’s website is a great place to find festive cocktail ideas - unleash your imagination and have fun using the drinks as a base to make some creative concoctions to warm the taste buds. Mix with whiskey and warm gently, or add to a punch or mulled wine. Alternatively sip through crushed ice or blend with apple, orange or Gran Stead’s Traditional Still Lemonade.

Gran Stead’s drinks are prepared by Chris and Rosemary at Mile Oak Farm in East Sussex. The full range of non-alcoholic drinks comprises:

•Gran Stead’s Light and Fiery Ginger Wine (RRP £4.25 75 cl)
•Gran Stead’s Dark and Mellow Ginger Wine (RRP £4.25 75 cl)
•Gran Stead’s Traditional Still Lemonade RRP (£2.25 75cl)
•Gran Stead’s Still Lemonade With A Zing Of Ginger (£2.25 75cl)

OK: Where can we buy Gran Stead's? Or how can we stock it?

Gran Stead’s traditional drinks are available online at www.GranSteadsGinger.co.uk and from stockists throughout the UK. Find your nearest retailer or buy on-line by visiting www.gransteadsginger.co.uk/stockists

Paski Sir and more

The Sirena Dairy of the island of Pag in Croatia is one of the region's foremost producers and exportersof flavoursome, traditional cheeses.

The first of their cheeses that I was introduced to is Paski Sir, a hard cheese made from the milk of the sheep that are indigenous to the island of Pag.

The cheese has a subtle blend of flavours and is a hard and somewhat dry cheese. But the dryness is pleasant and fits well with the range of flavours that this cheese posses.

It is piquant, yet sweet. But it is not a cloying sweetness, because there are subtle undercurrents of various herbs, too. And the special grasses that the sheep feed on is also well represented.

This cheese is wonderful in cooking, a must for the sophisticated cheese board, excellent with grapes, apples and other fruits and the temptation to nibble “just one more piece of this wonderful cheese” is difficult to resist!

But it would be wrong to presume that this is the only type of cheese that the Gligoira Dairy makes.

Žigljen is a hard cheese made from a delicate blend of cow, sheep and goat milk from the Dalmatian region of Croatia. The cheesemakers believe it is “an abundance of spring water in the region together with the rich minerals of the land, our Žigljen cheese is slightly spicy with a distinctive aroma” and it is not possible to argue with that descrpition.

They age this cheese for a minimum of 3 months, they point out they present their mature Žigljen at 6 and 12 months.

Zigljen goes well with white wines, they recommend white wines such as Grasevina and Welschriesling.

They do point out that, should the Žigljen be more mature, you might find it profits to enjoy it with a red wine, instead, perhaps a Merlot or a Terran?

.
Kolan is another hard cow's milk cheese. This has a somewhat milder taste, though it should be recognised that it is still just as flavour-filled as its more mature sister cheeses. Kolan takes 3 months to mature. What wines do the cheese makers recommend? Paška Zutica, Riesling, Malvasia or other softer reds.


Kozlar is a goat's milk cheese. Which is a popular cheese, on account of its fruity, fresh taste. Popular cheese made from goats milk.

Figurica is a hard cheese thatr is produced using a combination of cow and sheep milk. It's matured form between 3 to 6 months, and has a spicy, pleasing taste. The wine recommendations are the same as for Zigljen. white wine like Grasevina and Welschriesling. If the Figurica is more mature, then reds such as Merlot or Terran are perfect.
The cheeses we were able to taste proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the day of the Artisan cheese maker is in the ascendancy!
Incidentally, if your local cheesemonger does not sell these cheeses yet, ask them why not? If they claim that they do not have their details, gently suggest that they should visit http://www.sirena.hr to find out how they can become an official stockist.


Marquis Vodka. Stylish and sophisticated

Marquis Vodka is stylish and it is sophisticated. It comes in a rather special bottle. No descriptions would do it justice, save to say that it consists of some rather special colours and a mirrored effect.

The bottle bears the inscription: "Nulli Secundus" which is, as I expected, is Latin for second to none.

Having tasted this rather special Polish Private Label Vodka, all I can say with confidence is that Second to None is probably a pretty accurate description for Marquis Vodka.

It's 80 Proof, 40% alcohol and is a 100% neutral spirits vodka. The bottle points out that it is made from "exceptional rye grain" and fully born out by the taste of this vodka which, it has to be said, is also pretty exceptional.

The taste is redolent of Polish nobility, of princes, princesses, kings and queens, of palace parties and of dashing Polish Cavalry Officers.

It is wickedly smooth, with a clean, crisp taste that is deceptively easy to drink. It's perfect by itself, although it works very well with Cola (your author's favourite is Royal Crown Cola) or as a very useful ingredient in many cocktails which will make it a firm favourite this Christmas and New Year.

It is available at discerning outlets nationwide and also at www.thedrinkshop.com at a price of £28.99. But the clever advice is to get at least two bottle in, perhaps more. Or you will risk running out very, very quickly, indeed!

Here is a cocktail that you can try:
Marquis vodka
50ml passion fruit puree
10ml vanilla syrup
10ml kaffir-infused simple sugar syrup
15ml egg white
 
Shake all ingredients in a Boston shaker, double strain into chilled champagne coupé and garnish with a floating slice of passion fruit.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Add some Andalusian magic to the Festive season!

Normally baked after Christmas by Andalusian families, Roscon de Reyes, is otherwise known as Three Kings Cake and tradition states that it contains a hidden toy , model king or butter bean which is said to bring year long luck to the finder. Traditionally served with an Andalusian tortilla or Spanish Omelette it is eaten either at breakfast or lunch during the festive period.

Andalusian Courgette Tortilla with Roast Cherry Tomatoes
Serves: 4:
600 g courgettes, sliced
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 spring onions, chopped
350 g cherry tomatoes (on the vine)
6 eggs

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F

1.       Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan add the courgettes and fry till brown. Season with salt and pepper. Heat another tablespoon of oil and sauté the spring onions. Keep one tablespoon of chopped spring onions back for garnish.
2.       Place the tomatoes on the vine in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with one tablespoon of oil and bake it for 10-12 minutes until they start to burst. Season with salt and pepper.
3.       Whisk eggs with salt and peppe r and add the courgettes and the spring onions. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan (ovenproof handle), place the egg mix in the pan and fry it for 3 minutes. Place the pan in the oven and bake the tortilla for 5-7 minutes. Place the tortilla on a plate and slice it. Top it with the chopped spring onions and pepper. Serve with the roast tomatoes.

Nutritional value (each serving):
ca. 405 kcal/1695 kJ, 17 g protein, 32 g fat, 7 g carbohydrates

Roscon de Reyes – Three Kings Cake

(Makes a 15” cake)
Ingredients:
400g flour
3 eggs
100g butter
100g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 litre milk
zest of 1 lemon
dried mixed peel for decorating
glace cherries for decorating
salt

250ml whipping cream for filling
Model king / small toy / butterbean for decoration (optional)


Method

1. Mix the baking powder 4 tbsp of the milk add this to 100g of the flour. Mix together until it forms a dough type mixture - cover with a clean tea towel and set aside until it doubles in size.

2. Place the rest of the flour (300g) in a bowl and add the eggs, sugar, pinch of salt, the rest of the milk and zest of the lemon. Mix well then add the butter and continue mixing for a further 2 mins then add the dough mixture - once a smooth dough has been achieved cover and set aside for 2 hours.

3. After 2hrs knead the mixture then put it in a ring shape on a greased baking tray. Decorate with the dried mixed peel and glace cherries. Brush with milk and bake in an oven at 160 degrees for 15-20 mins.

4. When cool, whip the cream and slice the bun in half. Fill it with whipped cream (you can hide the toy, model king or butter bean in the cream). Slice and serve.

Ensure your Christmas feasts do not leave anyone out!

With at least nine million people at risk of an adverse reaction to their Christmas dinner Genius Foods, the UK’s leading gluten-free brand, and Lactofree®, the UK’s only lactose-free dairy range have teamed up to ensure everyone can enjoy a delicious festive feast.

As many as one in 100 people in the UK are gluten intolerant and research also shows that up to 15% of people in the UK are estimated to be lactose intolerant. Considering there are over 60 million people in the UK, that is a lot of Christmas dinner guests with intolerances!

Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, founder of Genius Foods and author of ‘How to Cook for Food Allergies’ said: "Cooking for people with intolerances can be a confusing and daunting task but we have put together some recipes to make sure everyone is catered for. Even if you aren’t lactose or gluten intolerant cutting them out is not dangerous to your health. Some people find that just cutting down on these ingredients can actually make them feel less bloated and more energetic, which following a Christmas dinner is almost unheard of!"

But shopping for these dinner guests can seem daunting. Sian Porter, Consultant Dietitian offers a few top tips for surviving Christmas with a lactose or gluten intolerance:

“When in the supermarket you should take extra time to read food labels – especially as some items such as mince pies are only eaten seasonally, you may be unfamiliar with their ingredients. These often contain both lactose and gluten, derived from dairy and wheat, barley or rye respectively. However, there are gluten free mince pies available. If treating yourself to a creamy homemade desert make it with lactose free dairy to ensure you can all experience the delights of Christmas without the worry of paying for it afterwards.”

“If you’re lucky enough to have Christmas lunch made for you, make sure that the cook knows in plenty of time what foods might contain lactose or gluten as well or suggest that you will bring an alternative for everyone to try.”

Both lactose and gluten intolerances share symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, sickness and cramps. In fact, many intolerances are misdiagnosed and as a result, 38 per cent of people who think they suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) might in fact be lactose intolerant. It is also thought that between 50 per cent to 90 per cent of gluten-intolerance (coeliac disease) cases are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as IBS. So you may find yourself catering for those who don’t even realise they have an intolerance – happy tummy’s all round!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Chemo Cookery- Ideas to Make Chemo More Tolerable

This month is breast cancer awareness month, and while the shops are brimming with all things pink, helping to raise valuable funds for cancer research, it doesn’t do much in the way of making those suffering with breast cancer feel more comfortable. So, chef Jim Fisher has created some delicious recipes that aim to do just that. And with Christmas not far away, these recipes will be of great help if you are catering for someone who is having Chemo.

From foods high in vital nutrients to ingredients to suit a changing sense of taste, every aspect of the dish has been considered with the chemo patients needs in mind.

Chemo Cookery
Ideas To Make Chemo More Tolerable For Cancer Sufferers
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month when the world turns pink and the disease is endorsed by celebrities. Raising awareness this way is fantastic but the women actually going through treatment for this debilitating disease can be overlooked. Their world is far from pink.

Inspired by his own mother’s battle with cancer, Jim Fisher, chef patron of French cookery school www.cookinfrance.com has worked with nutritional therapist, Lucy Hyland http://www.foodforliving.ie to create ideas and recipes to help people going through chemo. Available on his website completely free of charge, Jim plans to add to the pages and creating a valuable resource for cancer patients throughout the year.

Commenting on his Chemo Cookery, Jim Fisher said: “My mum and I used to love cooking together but once she was diagnosed, there were more important things to consider than gourmet cooking. We had to focus on maintaining her strength and fitness as well as choosing foods that helped her overcome chemo’s radical effects of her body. This included a diminished appetite and a drastic change in her sense of taste.

We concocted a series of recipes that could be adapted on the fly to her changing sense of taste and her - often severe - physical symptoms. Chief amongst those that affected her appetite and ability to taste was Oral Mucositis which caused pain and inflammation of the surface of the inside of her mouth. Mouth ulcers were also a problem making it difficult to eat, drink and even talk. Coupled with this was constant fatigue, high levels of stress and a nagging fear for the future.
Our recipes and approach helped Mum and I hope others will get benefit from this too”.

FACTFILE:.
JIM’S CHEMO COOKERY ADVICE

Maintain and repair mucosal lining of mouth, stomach and gutCalm lining with teas such as liquorice, chamomile and fennel. Ginger tea also helps with any post nausea. Include these ingredients in dishes or even juices if it helps.

Increase consumption of easily digestible foods It’s the perfect time for slow cooked stews and casseroles and soups with heaps of veggies. Liquidise as much as possible –people drink broth to get the electrolytes and nutrients in. Freshly made smoothies and juices are great if you have a blender – dairy can be hard to tolerate but you might be able to add some yogurt to smoothies – if not, I tend to use 100% nut butter blended into smoothies and not noticed – great source of easily digestible protein and good fats (great for all that repair work)

Increase consumption of anti-oxidants to help boost immune systemConsume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (see soups above) or stew your fruit if you can’t handle fresh. Add fresh herbs and spices to dishes  – perhaps infusing a broth with rosemary to provide anti-oxidant support.
Increase natural anti-inflammatories as body is generally quite inflamed afterwards Examples include garlic, ginger, nuts and seeds (grind them if they are too course or use nut butters) fish. Also try to reduce naturally inflammatory foods such as dairy, sugar and meats.

Ensure a healthy bowel by eating plenty of fibre rich foods (wholegrains such as porridge for breakfast, brown breads at lunch and brown rice/pasta for dinner), beans and legumes (hummus, adding a tin of chickpeas to your stew or vegetable soups), nuts and seeds and heaps of veggies and fruit. This is more for post chemo – the body may not be able to handle all this fibre and so use your blending and pureeing and grinding techniques to make digestion as easy as possible.

Try to consume at least 8 glasses of water a day and try to walk a little every day.

Increase protein intakeThe body is undergoing some repair and so having protein with every meal will help fuel this, for example, eggs or yogurt with breakfast, and beans, legumes, fish, eggs or a limited amount of meat with lunch and dinner. again – this is post chemo but going for easy to digest proteins might help – I blend beans and legumes into soups so people don’t need to digest them as much. Even if people can tolerate a little porridge in the morning, I will grind some nuts and seeds and sprinkle on or soak the nuts and seeds over night to make them much easier to digest.

Make stocks, soups and sauces from natural ingredients Often, processed foods can taste strange or metallic so try to use fresh or non-processed ingredients.

Back off on salt, pepper and spices and avoid overly-browning meat and over-reducing sauces Sometimes, highly flavoured foods are too strong for chemo patients. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to serve hot foods cold or at room temperature because heat increases flavour.

Avoid dairy and fats These can trigger nausea - use pure nut butters and soy products where possible. 

Recipes
Vanilla and Banana Smoothie
A soothing and nutritious smoothie. Vary the ingredients to include blueberries, raspberries, etc.
Serves one
250ml soy milk (or soya cream for extra mouth feel)
1 ripe banana
seeds of ¼ vanilla pod
1 tsp un-processed honey
Blend all the ingredients together until ultra smooth. Pass through a fine sieve if still too course (to relieve throat pain).

Vichyssoise Soup
Classic creamy potato and leek soup traditionally served cold (thus reducing the intensity if the patient is feeling sensitive to strong flavours).
Serves 6
1 leek (white part only), roughly chopped
3 medium semi waxy potatoes (i.e. Maris Piper), peeled
2 tsp nut oil
1 ltr fresh chicken or vegetable stock (pale, not roasted)
250 ml soy milk
salt (scant)
Gently sweat the leek in the oil for about five minutes until softened. Add the potatoes and then the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the potatoes are very soft. Turn off the heat and stir in a little salt to the patient’s taste. Add the soy milk and blend to a smooth puree. Pass through a fine sieve and serve either cold or warm (never hot).

Chicken and Watercress Salad with Chickpeas and a Lemony Yoghurt Dressing
Chicken is a source of Selenium, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to the restriction of cancer cell growth and the alleviation of some chemotherapy side-effects. Chickpeas contain Folic Acid, essential for cell growth and for proper synthesis and repair of DNA. There is evidence to suggest that a compound in watercress can ‘turn off’ a signal in the body that is responsible for cancer growth.
This recipe is also a great way to use any leftover roast chicken, and it has a beautifully simple dressing to go with it.   
Start by soaking the chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight.
Serves four
3 heaped tbsp dried chickpeas (soaked, as above)
4 free-range organic skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp nut oil
Salt (scant)
Freshly ground black pepper (scant)
Glass dry white wine
250 ml low fat or dairy-free yoghurt
Finely grated zest and the juice of a lemon
1 tbsp finely shredded mint leaves
Bunch of watercress
Simmer the chickpeas in plenty of un-salted water for about 30 minutes (salt toughens the skin of dried peas and pulses and can make the dish unpalatable to chemo patients).  Drain and cool.
Smear the chicken pieces with a little oil, then season lightly (if at all - see above) with salt and pepper. Bring a large deep lidded frying pan to a high heat and fry the chicken on the ‘skin’ side for about two to three minutes or until golden brown.  Turn the pieces over and brown as before on the ‘flesh’ side.
Pour in the glass of white wine (or water or chicken stock) and simmer for two minutes. Put the lid on and turn off the heat – yes, that’s right, turn the heat off.  Drape a couple of t-towels over the top and leave it alone to ‘rest’ for fifteen minutes or until the chicken is cooked through (t chicken will continue to cook in the residual heat of the pan).
And make the dressing: empty the yoghurt into a glass or ceramic bowl.  Stir in the lemon zest, a teaspoon of the juice, the mint leaves and a scant pinch of salt.
Now, remove the chicken from the pan and pull off large strips of flesh, placing them in a bowl.
To assemble the salad, place pieces of chicken, some croutons and watercress on the plate working them into a pile.  Drizzle the dressing over and around.

Panna Cotta and Spiced Prunes
Gelatin - used to set the Panna Cotta - in the diet can help reduce the effects of chemotherapy on the patient’s nails, which often splinter and can even turn black. Soy instead of dairy helps with nausea, and honey is always better than processed sugar due to its naturally antiseptic and hypo-allergenic qualities. Rehydrated dried fruits are often easier to digest than fresh.
For the Panna Cotta:
250 ml soy milk
250 ml soy cream
2 level tbsp honey
1 vanilla pod, split down its length
3 level tsp gelatin        
For the prunes:
24 no-soak prunes
2 tsp honey
250 ml strong cold tea
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
Put the milk and cream into a saucepan with the honey and vanilla pod and simmer for five minutes.  Turn off the heat and leave to infuse while you deal with the gelatin;  sprinkle the powder onto 3 tbsp. of hot water in a small saucepan and leave it alone for five minutes after which time the crystals will have softened and absorbed the liquid.  You can now gently heat the gelatin to dissolve. Whisk in the still-hot cream.  Remove the vanilla pod and pour the mixture into 6 ramekins or dariol moulds.  Cool to room temperature then pop them into the fridge to set - about 2 hours.
Place the prunes in a saucepan with the other ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Turn the heat down and simmer very gently for 5 minutes.  Cover and leave to steep in a cool place, preferably overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
To serve:
Briefly dip the bases of the dariol moulds into hot water for about 2-3 seconds to loosen the sides, then carefully turn them out onto four cold plates.  Pile some prunes alongside and pour on some extra juice.

Company information
Learn to "Cook in France" - a fun friendly hands-on cookery school in Drdogne. Foodie banter, tips & recipes from me, chef Jim Fisher (“I learned from Rick Stein, Alastair Little & Tony Tobin,” says Jim)

Friday, 4 November 2011

That's Christmas: Christmas at Sainsbury's

That's Christmas: Christmas at Sainsbury's: This year you must make Sainsbury's a part of your Christmas plans. Whatever you are looking for, from the Turkey to a vegetarian feast, fro...

Taste of nostalgia in a lick - Dandelion & Burdock Ice Cream launches

A Dandelion & Burdock flavoured ice cream has been launched by artisan ice cream producer Yummy Yorkshire, and what's more, it is available in time for Christmas!

Yummy Yorkshire, which is based near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, developed the flavour in homage to one its hometown’s best known companies; Ben Shaws, who brought the unique taste of Dandelion & Burdock to the people of the UK.

The retro ice cream flavour is made using a traditional style Dandelion & Burdock drink and has the same distinctive aniseed taste that the soft drink is famous for. It was first launched in August this year by Yummy Yorkshire as a limited edition flavour at the Huddersfield Food & Drink Festival but has now been rolled out due to popular demand.

Yummy Yorkshire’s Louise Holmes who is responsible for the development of new ice cream flavours says: “When I asked the team for ideas for a real Huddersfield themed flavour we knew Dandelion & Burdock was a winner as soon as it was mentioned. It was only intended as a limited edition flavour for the festival but it proved so popular that we took the decision to make it a permanent fixture in our flavour list.

“I think its popularity lies in the fact that it’s one of those flavours that has stood the test of time. It’s as popular now as it was when it first launched over 100 years ago.

“Our ice cream version has the same sweet, characteristic taste of the drink but with an added creaminess. People have said it reminds them of their childhood and that tasting it is a real trip down memory lane. It’s gained a bit of a cult following already.”

Yummy Yorkshire’s Dandelion & Burdock ice cream is available to buy from its ice cream parlour on the cone and in 500ml tubs priced at £3.50 each. It will also soon be available to buy in the 500ml tubs from selected outlets in Yorkshire including Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop and Brosters Farm Shop.

Further new flavours recently launched by Yummy Yorkshire include a range of Bonfire Night inspired ice creams including Toffee Apple, Yorkshire Parkin and Pumpkin.

Yummy Yorkshire is committed to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients wherever possible in its recipes and the Parkin flavour is produced using Elland-based Lottie Shaw’s Seriously Good Yorkshire Parkin, while the Pumpkin flavour is made using fresh, pumpkin roasted with nutmeg and cinnamon for a little kick. The Toffee Apple ice cream consists of crisp apple ice cream with swirls of dulce de leche toffee.

FACTFILE:
Yummy Yorkshire Ice Cream Company was established in April 2007 as a new addition to the family run PJ Holmes & Son dairy business at Delph House Farm in West Yorkshire.

Using fresh milk and cream from the farm’s 150 Friesian Holstein herd, Yummy Yorkshire produces luxurious, creamy and smooth ice cream that combines modern and contemporary flavours with traditional values and fresh local ingredients such as strawberries and liquorice.

Yummy Yorkshire ice cream is available at the farm’s on site ice cream parlour and coffee shop as well as at ASDA, Cedar Court Hotel Group, Huddersfield University, Gastro Pubs including the award-winning Butcher Arms at Hepworth, local farm shops, delis, garage forecourts, coffee shops & tea rooms

Ice cream flavours include: Caramel Fudge made with clotted cream fudge pieces, Caribbean Chocolate, Midnight Mint, Marmalade Cheesecake, Lou’s Liquorice, Real Lemon Curd, Banoffee Pie made with butterscotch and shortcake pieces and Honey & Ginger.

Yummy Yorkshire Ice Cream has won numerous awards since launching, most recently receiving two Gold Stars for its Salted Caramel flavour and one Gold Star for Beetroot, at the 2011 Great Taste Awards. This was followed by 3rd place for its Lou’s Liquorice flavour at the 2011 Great Yorkshire Show. The same flavour was voted best Dairy Product, and Supreme Product of the Year at the 2009 annual deliciouslyorkshire Awards and picked up three gold stars (the highest level of award) at the 2009 Great Taste Awards. In 2010 Yummy Yorkshire received one Gold Star for its Blueberry ice cream.

In March 2010, Yummy Yorkshire was named Local Food Producer (Prepared Produce) of the year at The Mayor of Kirklees’ 2009/2010 Local Food Awards. Yummy Yorkshire also scooped the accolade of Food & Drink Producer of the Year in the 2010 Yorkshire Rural Awards.
Visit www.yummyyorkshire.co.uk for further information.

RC Cola Reinvent Traditional Ice Cream Float with a Festive Twist

RC® (Royal Crown) cola unveils tasty treat in time for Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, RC® Cola has teamed up with mixology expert Alastair Tatton to craft a celebratory cocktail to toast the festive season.

Inspired by RC® Cola’s American roots, the ‘Really Christmassy Cocktail’ is a festive take on the iconic ice cream float which has tempted tastebuds across the pond since 1874.

Sundeep Gill, assistant brand manager for Cott Beverages Ltd. who launched RC® Cola in the UK, said, “Just like the ice cream float, RC® Cola has been at the heart of America for over a century. With an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version, this spiced-up version of an old-fashioned treat is perfect for anyone wanting to indulge themselves this Christmas. The kids could even leave one out for Santa!”

If you fancy trying to create your own RC® ‘Really Christmassy Cocktail’, simply follow Alastair’s step-by-step recipe:

RC® Really Christmassy Cocktail (Please enjoy responsibly. Not suitable for persons under the age of 18)
Ingredients:
12.5mls Kahlua
37.5 mls cinnamon-infused vodka
150 mls RC Cola
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
Ice:
Cubed
Garnish:
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cherries

Method:
Infused the vodka with cinnamon sticks by leaving the cinnamon in the vodka for 4 days

Fill a tall glass with ice and add all the ingredients apart from the ice cream putting the RC Cola in last. Add the ice cream scoops at the top and garnish with the cinnamon sticks and cherries.

For those interested in a non-alcoholic version, simply follow the same method, with the below ingredients:

Virgin RC® Really Christmassy Cocktail
Ingredients:
Pinch ground cinnamon
150 mls RC Cola
2 scoops of vanilla ice cream
Ice:
Cubed
Garnish:
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cherries

Method:
Fill the tall glass with ice and add all the ingredients apart from the ice cream putting the RC Cola in last. Add the ice cream scoops at the top and garnish with the cinnamon sticks and cherries.

Created in 1905, RC® cola is one of America’s original colas and is already available across the globe in over 60 countries. Launched in the UK by Cott Beverages Ltd. and available exclusively in Asda stores nationwide, just visit www.rccola.co.uk for your local stockist.