Thursday, 30 April 2015

Anni's Lavender Scones

This is an interesting recipe as it involves a fairly rare cooking ingredient, lavender. However, Anni has asked me to point out that you must only ever use edible culinary lavender. We source ours from Shropshire Lavender of Wellbank Farm, Pickstock, Shropshire, TF10 8AH, or call them 01952 550303. (The lavender fields are open from June onwards.)

First heat your oven to 180c (or the equivalent for your oven).

Ingredients 225g self raising flour
50g butter
50g caster sugar
130 to 140ml milk
1 teaspoon of baking powder
50g of fruit (This can be either sultanas, cherries, mixed fruit, raisins, chopped apricots, chopped prunes, etc)
2 teaspoons of culinary lavender
1 teaspoon of culinary lavender oil.

Place the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, rub in the butter 'til it resembles breadcrumbs.

Mix in the fruit and the sugar, the lavender flowers  and the lavender.

Make a hollow in the middle of the mixture, then place the milk in the hollow.

Stir the mixture well, turning it into a soft dough.

Then place the lump of dough onto a lightly floured board.

Knead until it is nice and smooth. Flatten it out into a round shape (use your hands or you can roll it out) until it is about 1.5cm thick. Then use a biscuit cutter to make the rounds.

Place the rounds onto a greased baking tray and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until they are a golden colour.

Remove from the oven and serve hot with butter straight from the fridge.

You can add jam, honey or marmalade should you wish.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Merangz - and the Passion Fruitz Luxury dessert in new tropical flavour is naturally Gluten Free too

Those terribly clever and very gifted and innovative, award winning bakers Merangz, are launching an exotic new addition to their range of wondrous and stunning giant Swiss meringues - refreshing and luxurious Passion Fruit. Their giant - and bite sized - meringues now have a longer shelf life too.

The icing on the meringue
Unique, luxurious, ambient and versatile, Merangz are perfect for retail and also for foodservice. The best friend of time pressed cooks, caterers and chefs, they can be crushed, sprinkled or drizzled with fruit, compotes, cream or a thick caramelly Dulce de leche to create stunning desserts - with minimal effort. Or they can even be served simply - just as they are.

For foodservice, Merangz giants are available in boxes of 18 of an individual flavour, and bites in a mixed box of 80. For retail, giants are available in twin packs - with eight in a box, and bites 14 packs per box. They now have an even longer shelf life too - giants, 10 weeks and bites, 24 weeks.

Gluten Free - naturally!
Naturally Gluten Free and low in fat, Merangz are the perfect dessert choice for those with a gluten intolerance - or those simply avoiding gluten for a healthier lifestyle. They are made with only the finest ingredients and natural flavours. Every meringue is lovingly made with top quality, hand separated free range egg whites and slow baked to a traditional Swiss recipe.

Brian Crowther, the owner of Merangz, said: "Our giants and our foodservice bites, are the perfect choice for catering, coffee shops, garden centres, restaurants and pubs - as a low fat and Gluten Free dessert option.

"They are also the icing on the meringue when it comes to creating stunning mouth watering displays in a farm shop or deli - customers simply won't be able to say no! Both the giants - and the bites - are handmade using free range hand separated eggs. They really do offer a simple, versatile dessert option - with strong margins and incredible plate appeal."

To learn more, please visit our friends at the Merangz website,

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

there's a fantastic project, that is republishing 138 of special wartime recipes

There's a fantastic project, that is republishing 138 of the special wartime recipes that the National Government of World War 2 had produced in order to help people make do with the small amounts of rationed food that they were allowed and also with some (rare!) off rational foodstuffs that could, sometimes, be available.

The Royal British Legion have teamed up with Carolyn Ekins (from 1940’s Experiment) to re publish 138 1940’s style War Time recipes to encourage the nation to take part in the Royal British Legions VE Day celebrations.

You can find the recipes at the following link:

What recipes are there?

Recipe 1. Wartime Loaf
Recipe 2. Wartime Dripping
Recipe 3. Meaty Gravy
Recipe 4. Bread Pudding
Recipe 5. Corned Beef Fritters
Recipe 6. Eggless Sponge Gone Wrong
Recipe 7. Salad Dressing for immediate use
Recipe 8. Wartime Vegetable Turnovers
Recipe 9. Wartime Scotch Shortbread
Recipe 10. Carolyn’s ‘Everything In’ Wartime Stew
Recipe 11. The Oslo Meal
Recipe 12. Curried Carrots
Recipe 13: Pancakes (5 dishes from 1 recipe)
Recipe 14: Wartime Cauliflower Cheese with Bacon
Recipe 15: Cynthia’s Eggless Sponge (gone right)
Recipe 16: Pear Crumble
Recipe 17: Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam..
Recipe 18: Rock buns
Recipe 19: Mock cream recipe 1
Recipe 20: Spam Hash
Recipe 21: Wartime Pumpkin Soup
Recipe 22: Bread stuffing balls
Recipe 23: Apple crumble
Recipe 24: Lord Woolton Pie
Recipe 25: Cheese Whirls
Recipe 26: Glory Buns
Recipe 27: Cheese and Potato Dumplings
Recipe 28: Cream of Parsnip Soup
Recipe 29: Carrot and Potato Mash
Recipe 30: Cheese Dreams
Recipe 31: Farmhouse Scramble (version 1)
Recipe 32: Cottage Pie
Recipe 33: Potato and Cheese Bake
Recipe 34: Boeuf Bourguignon 1940s Rations Style
Recipe 35: Potato Floddies
Recipe 36: Bread and Apple Pudding
Recipe 37: Danish Apple Pudding
Recipe 38: Vegetable Stew
Recipe 39: Wartime Welsh Cakes
Recipe 40: Cold meat pasties
Recipe 41: Quick chocolate icing
Recipe 42: Potato Rarebit
Recipe 43: Mock Cream Recipe 2
Recipe 44: No Cook Chocolate Cake
Recipe 45: Mince Slices
Recipe 46: Marmite Mushrooms (a modern creation?)
Recipe 47: Eggless Fruit Cake
Recipe 48: Potato and Carrot Pancakes
Recipe 49: Potato and Lentil Curry
Recipe 50: Mock Goose
Recipe 51: Wartime Eggless Christmas Cake
Recipe 52: Vegetable and Oatmeal Goulash
Recipe 53: Irish Soda-Bread
Recipe 54: Eggless Pancakes
Recipe 55: Carrot Cookies
Recipe 56: Herby Bread
Recipe 57: Poor Knight’s Fritters
Recipe 58: Eggless Mayonnaise
Recipe 59: Split pea soup
Recipe 60: Potato Fingers
Recipe 61: Chocolate biscuits & chocolate spread
Recipe 62: Curried potatoes
Recipe 63: Vegetable pasties
Recipe 64: Wheatmeal pastry
Recipe 65: Homemade croutons
Recipe 66: Quick vegetable soup
Recipe 67: Fruit Shortcake
Recipe 68: Cheese potatoes
Recipe 69: Lentil sausages
Recipe 70: Root vegetable soup
Recipe 71: Sausage rolls
Recipe 72: Eggless ginger cake
Recipe 73: Mock duck
Recipe 74: Cheese sauce
Recipe 75: Duke pudding
Recipe 76: Potato scones
Recipe 77: Cheese, tomato and potato loaf/pie
Recipe 78: Bubble and squeak
Recipe 79: Belted leeks
Recipe 80: Lord Woolton Pie- Version 2
Recipe 81: Beef and prune hotpot
Recipe 82: Prune flan
Recipe 83: Butter making him-front style
Recipe 84: Mock apricot flan
Recipe 85: Corned beef with cabbage
Recipe 86: Oatmeal pastry
Recipe 87: Gingerbread men
Recipe 88: Carolyn’s mushroom gravy
Recipe 89: Jam sauce
Recipe 90: Brown Betty
Recipe 91: Middleton medley
Recipe 92: Rolled oat macaroons
Recipe 93: Anzac biscuits
Recipe 94: Beef or whalemeat hamburgers
Recipe 95: Lentil soup
Recipe 96: Welsh claypot loaves
Recipe 97: Chocolate oat cakes
Recipe 98: Wartime berry shortbread
Recipe 99: Oatmeal soup
Recipe 100: Mock marzipan
Recipe 101: Gingernuts
Recipe 102: Eggless christmas pudding
Recipe 103: Leftovers stew
Recipe 104: Vinaigrette dressing
Recipe 105: Apple pudding
Recipe 106: Irish omelette
Recipe 107: Potato cakes
Recipe 108: Glazed turnips (Canadian recipe)
Recipe 109: Carrot roll
Recipe 110: Wartime Bara Brith
Recipe 111: Bread and prune pudding
Recipe 112: Sausage stovies
Recipe 113: Malted loaf
Recipe 114: Toad in the Hole
Recipe 115: Summer berry jam
Recipe 116: Scones
Recipe 117: Mock cream 3
Recipe 118: Vegetable Pie
Recipe 119: Air-raid apple chutney
Recipe 120: Lentil curry
Recipe 121: Haricot bean croquettes
Recipe 122: Leek and Lentil Pie
Recipe 123: Coconut Cream
Recipe 124: Colcannon
Recipe 125: Carrot and Sultana Pudding
Recipe 126: Lemon Syrup Sauce
Recipe 127: Bean and Vegetable Shepherds Pie
Recipe 128: Chocolate Layer Cake
Recipe 129: Small Cottage Tea Loaves
Recipe 130: Vinegar Cake
Recipe 131: Kale and Bean Stew
Recipe 132: Pea and Potato Stew
Recipe 133: Baked Chips with Thyme
Recipe 134: Homity Pie
Recipe 135: Vegetable Au Gratin
Recipe 136: Kale and Potato Soup
Recipe 137: Trench Stew
Recipe 138: Irish Potato Pancakes

That's a splendid list, is it not?

Apple Pudding and Mock Cream? Sounds delicious! Especially following some Kale and Bean Stew or some Vegetable pie!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Anni's Vodka Cherry 'Baked Well' cake

As part of the Aldi cake challenge, That's Food and Drink brings another one of Anni's specially created cake recipes.

This one is called "Anni's Vodka Cherry 'Baked Well' cake."

It requires 175g of Aldi's baking margarine
175g of Aldi dark brown sugar
225g of Plain Aldi flour
3 Aldi eggs
1tsp Aldi baking powder
1tsp Aldi cinnamon
1tsp Aldi ginger
550g of Aldi luxury dried mixed fruit
400g of Aldi cherries
100g Aldi chopped almonds
zest of an orange
zest of a lemon
150ml of Aldi Vodka

Pre-heat your oven to 160C 325F or Gas Mark 3.

Cream together the margarine and the sugar. Beat the eggs and add the egg mixture a little at a time, mixing well.

In a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients together, then carefully fold this into the cake mix and stir well.

Add the dried fruit and 200g of the cherries to the mixture and make sure they are thoroughly mixed in. For a better result you could mix 100g of the cherries and the dried fruit and marinate them in the Vodka overnight. If you can't do this, just pour the Vodka into the mix once the dried fruits have been added and mix well.

Place the cake mix into a greased and papered cake tin (the Aldi one shown in the pictures is ideal)     and put the remaining 200g of cherries on the top of the cake and put it in the oven for approximately two hours.

After two hours test the cake with a skewer. When it comes out clean, the baking is complete.

If it starts to look a little too brown, cover it with some aluminium baking foil.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for at least an hour before you  remove it from the cake tin.

At this stage you can add more Vodka to the top of the cake. You can also prick the cake in several places to  ensure that the cake is well fed with the additional Vodka.

For a bit off added decadence serve the cake with shots of chilled Vodka straight from the  freezer!

You can use this as a stand alone cake or as part of a larger Aldi Challenge creation.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Perfect egg yolks for your kitchen each and every time

If a recipe in a commercial kitchen calls for 20 egg yolks, that means that someone will have to spend time cracking and separating all of those eggs.

But what if you didn't have to do that? What if you didn't have to put a trained member of staff on a tedious job like cracking and separating 20 egg yolks? And what do you do with all those egg whites if you have no immediate use for them?

Fortunately the solution to this problem has already been created. The clever souls at Merangz have introduced The Egg Project.

This is a simple idea. Perfect free range egg yolks delivered to your kitchen in handy 1 litre easy to use screw top containers.

They are hand separated (but not by you!)  and they come from a single source, a free range egg farm in the heart of rural Shropshire.

The eggs that Merangz uses are carefully selected  Freedom Foods accredited quality local free range eggs.

The egg whites are used used to create their stunning giant and bite sized Merangz in a variety of yummy natural flavours - including raspberry and white chocolate, pistachio black cherry, mocha and pecan - are painstakingly hand separated, just like you make them at home. (EDITOR: As a fan of the Merangz products, I had posed a question to my wife at an outdoor event where we bought a large bag of Merangz, "I wonder what they do with all the egg yolks?" Well, now we know!)

You will find this unique logo on their products to identify the extra effort Merangz go to in sourcing and hand separating free range eggs.

The Taste Team at That's Food and Drink set to work and there was a frenzy of baking and cooking activities, with all sorts of recipes that use egg yolks. Two types of cake, a fresh custard, some pancake batter, even a sneaky chocolate bread and butter pudding made with brioche and organic chocolate sauce!

All were made in double quick time and all, of course, tasted absolutely delicious!

Merangz obviously takes things seriously. The yolks are pasteurised for safety, you know exactly where the eggs are from (Hollowdene Farm) they last for seven days once opened (we kept ours refrigerated)  there's no waste, no pesky egg shells to try to catch and there's no mess.

Portion control is exact, there are no irritating additives or colourings (the fantastically vibrant colour is natural) you get 50 yolks in a litre and every litre only costs about £6.00 to £6.50.

Brian Crowther, owner of Merangz, said: "There are many busy kitchens where chefs, cooks and caterers only require the egg yolks for their recipes. That is why we are launching our free range liquid egg yolks - a kitchen staple with local provenance which also just happens to be environmentally-friendly too.

"We work with local farmers to source the finest quality eggs we can for our Merangz - we won't settle for anything less - and every egg white we use is hand separated. Now the egg yolks that we don't need can be used by those that do. The end result is great shell-egg taste without the waste - it's win, win!"

To learn more please visit

Hawkshead Relish Company

Cumbria is quite justifiably developing an International reputation as being an area within the UK that is well known for the superbly high quality foods that it produces.

Another example of this is the Hawkshead Relish company of Hawkshead, in Cumbria.

Owned and operated by holders of very well deserved MBEs, Mark and Maria Whitehead, the relishes are cooked in the proper, traditional way, by hand, in real kitchens, in open pans.

The product ranges are wide and cover sweet and savour relishes and products.

From several different types of chilli-based products, to traditional pickles such as pork pie pickle, hand chopped piccalilli to scrumpy apple chutney, via pear and date chutney, to Red Onion Marmalade an Pickeled Damsons.

There's an amazingly full range of mustards from the FHM (Fiendishly hot Mustoard) to Honey Mustard, plus a range of proper jellys such as Daomson and Basil, Chilli, Lime and ginger, Pale Real Ale Jelly and Cranberry Jelly, Nettle Jelly, Hedglrow and Port Jelly and Apple and Lavender Jelly. (Incidentally, my wife makes absolutely delicious lavender scones, so just imagine what a fantastic combination they's make!)

There's also a range of vinegars, table sauces, speciality oils (including Pizza oil!) and marmalades including Leomn and Lime, Five Fruit and jams such as Strawberry and Black Pepper Jam (wow! Just... wow! You would have to be a real genius to create such a wonderful gem of a jam!) Raspberry and Vanilla jam and Lemon Curd. As for the Strawberry Daiquiri Jam, (with white rum, of course!) that's another first rate recipe!

They've also taken the decision to have their Brand and Rum Butters available year round, produce a first rate hot toddy and a range of honeys that are amongst the best you'll ever taste.

Add Lizzies handmade Italian inspired preserves and you will be in culinary heaven.

The That's Food and Drink Taste Test Team have given the range 12 out of 10 for taste.

To learn more, please visit Mark and Maria Whithead MBE

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Sheppy's make real cider

For many years I was a fan of The Archers on BBC Radio. This was a tradition started by my grandfather as the family had, until the Great War wrecked so many hopes, ambitions and lives, farmed in the area of the English Midlands portrayed in The Archers.

My favourite characters were the Grundy family. They were a proper farming family as they were the only farmers in Ambridge who made thier own scrumpy cider on their farm, Grange Farm.

Which brings me to another farming family, this farming family is, however, a very real farming family, the Sheppy family of Somerset.

The family has farmed and made cider since the 1800s. And that's a heck of a long time to be getting something so utterly right!

My wife -who has strong family connections to the West Country herself (Devon, the other side of the Tamar!) so she is something of a connoisseur of ciders. 

We had three bottles of Sheppy's ciders: Sheppy's Vintage Reserve, Sheppy's Kingston black Cider and Sheppy's Falstaff Apple Cider.

At 7.4%, Sheppy's Vintage Reserve is a cider of reassuring strength. This traditional cider is matured on oak vats in the age-old method.

The result is a darker cider with a flavour that is matured and delicious, with a hint of tannin from the oak. "It reminds me of a good quality malt whisky," said my wife as she sipped her glass.

Sheoppy's Kingston Black Cider is only slightly lighter in alcohol content at 7.2%. It's a single variety cider that really hits the spot. It's dry, yet no so dry as to make it unpleasant to drink. It has a pleasant taste that reflects well on the type of apple used and on the family who still make it.

The third Sheppy's cider that we tried was my own personal favourite, Sheppy's Falstaff Apple Cider. Somewhat less alcohol, it comes in at 5.6%. It has a lovely, light colour and it is made with the more modern and utterly delicious desert apple, the Falstaff.

The cider is medium-sweet refreshing to drink and easy to drink.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Aldi brings you the world's first crowd sourced cake

This is it! This is the cake that British cake lovers want! And it's brought to you exclusively by Aldi, Britain's best kept shopping secret!

Experts took 31 hours to bake and assemble the ‘ultimate’ Easter cake, featuring five layers and 39 different ingredients, following research revealing the nation’s favourite fillings and flavours.

The country's first ever 'crowd sourced' cake revealed for the first time here on That's Food and Drink, was based on the findings of a study of over 2,000 people commissioned by supermarket Aldi, resulting in a monumental sweet treat, featuring 352 mini chocolate eggs.

Over a third (36%) of folks asked said chocolate sponge was the most likely to get their taste buds tingling, followed by cheesecake (33%), fruit cake (30%), carrot cake (29%) and Victoria sponge (24%) – which is reflected in the intricate creation.

And when it comes to filling, cream came up trumps with over half of those surveyed (53%), followed by chocolate (37%), strawberry jam (25%), and raspberry jam (23%), and almost half preferred their cake embellished with chocolate eggs (48%).

Decoration scored highly on the cake wish list with more than 1 in 10 (12%) wanting to see edible decorations adorn their perfect cake.

The crowd-sourced Easter cake was created using the Aldi Specialbuys kitchen range and crafted by Great British Bake Off finalist and cookery book writer Miranda Gore Browne.

Miranda said: “Cake is engrained in British culture; it’s part of family life, so I’m not surprised that we’re so pernickety when it comes to the ideal slice. To capture the tastes of the nation in one brilliant cake is quite a feat.

“Of course, not everyone can create something so ambitious – stacking five different layers proved a particular challenge to say the least. My biggest worry was how I was going to cut an enormous slice of the cake, so I was thrilled and very relieved when it came out perfectly! This is certainly a showstopper of a cake but it does show how you can create your favourite things with low cost kitchen essentials.”

Giles Hurley, MD for buying at Aldi says; “There’s no better way to celebrate Easter than with what is possibly one of the nation’s favourite things…Cake. We were keen to find out how the nation would vote when it comes to flavours and fillings, and hope the impressive creation inspires people to create their very own treats, using their favourite ingredients.

 “We pride ourselves on opening up often costly hobbies to our shoppers at a fraction of their normal price. Our Specialbuys offer customers a fantastic saving on outstanding quality products and our baking range is no exception”

Aldi Specialbuys are available in store on selected dates throughout the year, while stocks last.

(EDITOR: But don't forget, there's probably another Aldi store not too far away, and you might find an ingredient still available in one Aldi when it's ran out in another.)