North Northamptonshire based food blogger who is obsessed with good food and proper cooking. I'm part of the Midlands Blogging team for the BBC Good Food Shows. This is where I share my own recipes and carry out recipe development and product reviews for brands, including food and wines. Please contact me using the link below.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Kenwood Boutique Event

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Waitrose School of Cookery by Kenwood for the launch to food bloggers of their vibrantly coloured Boutique range of KMix.
Now I’m a real lover of Kenwood food preparation equipment. Not only do I have the hugely powerful and versatile silver Kenwood Major Titanium stand mixer, but I have the smaller almond coloured KMix hand mixer as well as the almond coloured KMix tri-blade stick blender which comes with 2 tri-blade heads, a whisk and small food processor.
To say I was amazed by the vibrancy of the new boutique colours was an under statement. Wow! You almost needed your sunglasses on when we walked into the cookery school to be greeted by the lovely staff from Kenwood, their PR company and the cookery school staff as well as these tables of food preparation finery & co-ordinating props.

20121027-232927.jpgThe magenta is such a girly girl colour.
20121027-232934.jpgWhilst the blue offers a more masculine alternative.
20121027-232952.jpgThe orange reminds you of somewhere hot & tropical.
20121027-232959.jpgThe yellow is so zingy you can almost sense your taste buds tingling!
20121027-233005.jpgThe green is like a fresh cucumber on a hot day.
After cocktails or soft drinks, we were treated to a fantastic macaroon making class using the Italian meringue method. No waiting around for the shells to set with this recipe; you simply make and bake! Between the 24 attendees we made several different flavours, including pistachio, strawberry, apricot, liquorice and black currant. It was heaven in an almond flavoured shell!
Being the first time I’ve made them (and quite frankly, this will not be the last time I’ll make them), I was really surprised at just how easy they are to make, especially under the expert guidance and instruction of our lovely chef.
I have to say a BIG thank you to the Waitrose School of Cookery staff, Clarion Communications and especially to Kenwood for their generosity afforded to all the participants in offering us an item from their new Boutique Range. I can’t wait for my Magenta hand mixer to arrive so that my daughter can learn to cook and bake alongside me using her own mixer.
20121027-233014.jpgCarmela consults our lovely chef.
20121027-233019.jpgJulie hard at work mixing the almond paste.
20121027-233026.jpgThe finished Italian Meringue ready to be mixed with the almond paste.
20121027-233033.jpgOur piped macaroons.
20121027-233040.jpgChef’s baked macaroons.
20121027-233046.jpgPistachio, strawberry & lemon macaroons.
Apricot & blackcurrant macaroons.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Winning Be-Ro banana bread recipe

Please note that the original recipe is NOT mine. It’s one that I found years ago in one of my trusty fail-safe, go-to recipe books. It came from the Home Recipes with Be-Ro Flour, 37th edition. I wanted to share it, along with some little alterations that I have made along the way to all the banana bread lovers out there.
200g (8oz) Self raising flour
1.25ml (1/4 tsp) Bicarbonate of soda
2.5ml (1/2 tsp) Salt – I NEVER add this
75g (3oz) Butter – I use Stork margarine
150g (6oz) Caster sugar
2 Eggs, beaten
450g (1lb) Bananas (weighed with the skin on)
100g (4oz) Walnuts, chopped (optional)
1. Preheat your oven to 180C, Fan 160C, Gas 4.
2. Grease & flour a 2lb loaf tin.
3. Mix together the flour, bi-carb and salt (if using).
4. Mash the bananas.
5. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale & fluffy.
6. Add the eggs, a little at a time, alternately with a spoonful of the flour mixture and beat well.
7. Stir in the remaining flour, bananas and walnuts (if using).
8. Pour into your prepared tin & bake for 1 1/4 hours, or until a skewer, inserted into the centre, comes out clean.
9. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then turn out to cool completely.
10. Once cool, wrap in foil and ideally leave for 24 hours before slicing & eating.

    Rosie’s notes:
A) I add ALL of my ingredients to the bowl & mix as per the ‘all in one’ method.
B) Instead of greasing & lining my tins, I find it much easier & more convenient to line them with a loaf tin liner from Lakeland.
C) when the mixture is in the tin, scatter the top with some more chopped walnuts and then sprinkle some soft brown sugar over the top. The flavour that this imparts is amazing!
D) Try spreading your sliced banana bread with some proper butter for added flavour.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Great Banana Bread Bake Off

I spent a lovely afternoon in Vanessa Kimbell’s kitchen this afternoon where we decided to have an impromptu banana bread bake-off to use up some over-ripe bananas she’d got.
I chose to go with my very trusty (and fail safe) Be-Ro recipe, whilst Vanessa chose to follow Mary Berry’s.
There was no difference in the quality of ingredients used. All the eggs were free range from Vanessa’s chickens. The flour, (star anise) sugar, milk, Stork margarine and bananas were identical with exception to the quantities specified in the recipes. They were both made using the ‘all-in-one’ method using Kenwood K-Mix machines. Poured into identical greased & floured tins and baked on the same oven shelf for an identical amount of time.
From the start, my cake looked a different colour as my recipe called for 1lb of (skin on) bananas, whilst Vanessa’s only wanted 2 whole bananas.
The resulting bake was judged by us both but to add an unbiased twist, was also judged by Vanessa’s husband, Alastair, who had no idea which one of us had baked which loaf. The initial reaction from us all was that one loaf seemed to be richer in colour, darker on the crust, had risen more and smell more intensely of banana. On cutting, from the crumb one was obviously lighter in texture.
The hands down winner was this one…
Which recipe was the winner? Why Be-Ro of course! My mum bought each of my sisters & I our first ever recipe book. Mine was the 35th edition, and since then I have added 3 more, updated versions, to my collection. It was my first ever recipe book & the one that I trust to work implicitly every time.
Thanks to Vanessa for such a lovely afternoon of laughs & baking together, and for letting me bring the winning loaf home to keep my hubby ‘sweet’ as I was later home than planned/promised.
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