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.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Do you Frumoo?

What a lovely surprise I came home from work to recently. There was a white polystyrene cool box in my kitchen that I wasn't expecting.  Inside, I found these 4 bottles of Frumoo; a fresh, chilled, 100% British milk combined with fresh fruit in strawberry & blackberry and raspberry & blueberry combinations from The Lake District Dairy Co.

Too eager to wait to try them, my husband and I opened one bottle each, whilst putting the other two bottles in the fridge to cool down further. I chose the raspberry & blueberry, while he chose the strawberry & blackberry.

You can taste the freshness of the 100% British milk and the natural fruit that it's combined with.  There are no artificial colours or flavours & certainly no bits either.  Each bottle is a generous 230ml, which is just under 1/2 a pint, so a real healthy thirst quenching size.  Great for lunch boxes for you or the kids and perfect for a treat on the go.

My husband loved his bottle, but personally for me they're a little on the sweet side.  This was easily rectified though as I poured it into a glass and diluted it with the same quantity of milk. (Extra large drink for me then!). They're available in the chilled milk aisle of your supermarket and have an RRP of £1.30 per bottle.

Further information can be found on their website:

These were sent to me free of charge from The Lake District Dairy Company's PR. I was under no obligation to write a review.  The review above is my honest opinion of the product sent to me.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Parmesan cheese Pastry

This is a beautifully flavoured pastry to make as the base for a quiche or for a pasty. With a twist of Parmesan to flavour and enrich your food, just add your imagination and see what you can tantalise your palate with. Enjoy!

200g Plain flour
100g Salted Butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
30g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 medium Egg yolk, beaten
35-45ml Cold water, straight from the fridge

The secret to a good pastry is to have your ingredients cold and to work quickly.  Ensure you make it early enough to be able to leave your pastry to rest in the fridge.  This prevents shrinkage in the oven when you cook it.

1. Tip your flour into a large bowl.  Don't worry about sifting it, you can give it a quick whisk to add some air and lighten it up as well as remove any lumps.
2. Add the cubed butter and, using your finger tips and thumbs, rub the butter into your flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
3. Add the Parmesan cheese, and quickly work it through your flour & butter mixture until thoroughly combined.
4. Add the beaten egg yolk and about 35ml of your cold water and mix with a flat bladed knife until the pastry comes together. If required, you can add some more of your water, a bit at a time until the dough starts to stick and form a clump.
5. Tip your dough out on to a lightly floured surface and bring together completely with your hands, then quickly and lightly knead into a ball.
6. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
7. When chilled, remove from the fridge, roll and use as required.

As a variation, when you add your cheese, why not also add:
* 10ml dried herbs such as parsley, sage or thyme for a cheese & herb pastry.
* 10ml caraway, poppy or sesame seeds.  This'll give it an extra crunch when cooked.
* pinch chilli powder for a little 'kick'

What will you make?  With ours, my daughter made a salmon and smoked cod flan.  I will share the recipe for that soon.  Until then.... X

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Apple and Sultana Chutney

Perfect for that autumnal glut of homegrown apples. What better way to preserve and enjoy them than to make a chutney.  Whether it be with cheese, pâté or cold meats, make some to keep and enjoy over the next few months. You could also make some & decorate the jars as presents for friends and family at Christmas. You choose; it's up to you.

1.5-2kg Cooking Apples, peeled and diced
750g Light muscovado sugar
500g Sultanas
2 Medium onions, finely chopped
10ml Mustard seeds
10ml Ground Ginger
5ml Salt
700ml Cider vinegar

1. In a large, heavy based pan, combine all the ingredients.
2. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently until thick & pulpy,
3. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a while.
4. Decant into clean, sterilised jars and seal.
5. Store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks for the flavours to develop fully before enjoying.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Salmon en Croute

Quick and relatively simple to make when using bought puff pastry.  Light and fresh in taste.  Good for you too!

500g pack of fresh Puff Pastry
4 Salmon Steaks/a side of salmon, boned and skinned
350g Philadelphia cream cheese
Fresh Dill, chopped
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
Fresh spinach
1 egg, beaten to seal & glaze

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C.
2. Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow to come up to room temp for about 10 minutes.
3. Mix together the Philadelphia cheese, chopped dill, lemon zest and juice.
4. Cut the pastry into half.
5. Roll out one half to a rectangle about 5cm larger both ways than the salmon steaks/side of salmon.
6. Spread a layer of the fresh spinach over the base of the pastry, leaving a 2cm border all round the edge.
7. Place the salmon on top of the spinach.
8. Spread the cheese/dill/lemon juice paste over the top of the salmon.
9. Top with a thin layer of spinach.
10. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg.
11. Roll out the other half of the pastry and cover the salmon and spinach.
12. Seal the edges of the pastry together.
13. Brush the top with beaten egg and pierce a couple of holes in the top layer of pastry to allow the steam to escape.
14. Place onto a baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes until golden and cooked.

Serve with carrots and boiled potatoes.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Salon Du Chocolate 2013

Every girl loves good chocolate.... right?  Excellent! I'm so glad you agree with me, because I certainly love it!
I was privileged to be on the guest list for the first ever evening VIP / Press event of Salon Du Chocolate 2013 at Olympia in London on Friday 18th October.  This event is the culmination of Chocolate Week and was, to say the least, decadent in chocolate goodness!!!  It's held over 3 days from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th October 2013.  It's open to the public each day and tickets can be purchased on the door.
Some of the largest and most prestigious names in chocolate were there with some of the most INCREDIBLE flavoured chocolates that I've ever tasted.  From fruit purees to goats cheese, green tea, chilli, salt through to carrots and Foie Grois.  A veritable feast of the taste palate!

Chantal Coady and her team from Rococo Chocolates were there with their beautifully designed and packaged selection of chocolates.  I have to say a HUGE congratulations to their Principal Chocolatier, Barry Johnson, for winning the UK Pastry Open 2013.  A local boy to me who studied in my home town, not to mention an all round nice guy!

From ChocoMe, we were treated to this gorgeous looking slab of fruitiness.
These were made by Lauden using the most incredible fruit purees - the flavour was intense and mouthwateringly good!
This nougat from La Maison du Nougat in Moltifao, France was my favourite of all the nougats I tasted as it was made, not with sugar, but with honey.  Not only did it look incredibly good, but the texture, flavour and 'mouth feel' as you let it warm up on your tongue to gently melt was sublime!
Beautifully, but plainly packaged bars of single source chocolate from Chocolate Pralus
Iain Burnett, The Highland Chocolatier kindly provided a sample of 4 of his chocolates in a beautifully decadent red magnetic box for the 'goodie bag'. 
I did buy some amazing salted caramel sauce from Bellanger, which (hopefully) the rest of my family won't like so I can enjoy it myself!
I even bumped into a couple of lovely people who were watching the chocolate catwalk.  John Whaite and Cathryn Dresser from Series 3 of the Great British Bake Off.  They were both under strict instructions not to make me look short between them - they failed miserably! 
Thank you to Nudge PR for allowing me to attend the event.  Can't wait until next year!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Fusilli Al Vegetali

A quick and easy supper for 2.

150g Pasta Shapes
30ml Rapeseed Oil
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
1 Bay leaf
1 medium Carrot, cut into Julienne (thin strips)
1 medium Courgette, cut into Julienne (thin strips)
100g Mushrooms, sliced
400g Tomatoes (tinned or fresh, chopped)
Salt & pepper to taste
25g Fresh Parmesan, grated

1. Put a large pan of water on to boil for your pasta.
2. Heat your oil and gently fry the onion, garlic and bay leaf together until the onion is transparent.
3. Add your carrot, mushrooms and courgettes and cook for a further 2 minutes on a high heat.
4. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.
5. Add your pasta to the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.
6. To the juices in your pan, add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
7. Return the vegetables to the pan to warm through.
8. Drain the pasta.
9. Add the pasta to your vegetables and mix well.
10. Serve sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Veggie Pasta Pie

Continuing the pasta and vegetarian theme of recipes.  This is a mixture of pasta, vegetables and a creamy, cheese flavoured béchamel sauce.  Simply delicious!

30ml Rapeseed oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 each, red, green and yellow pepper, sliced
2 medium courgettes, sliced
225g Mushrooms, sliced
400g can Chopped tomatoes
15ml Tomato Puree
Salt & Pepper to taste
275g Pasta shapes
25g Plain flour
25g Butter
300ml Milk
115g Cheddar cheese, grated
50g Fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
Parsley to garnish

1. Preheat your oven to 190°C.
2. Heat your oil and fry the onion for about 5 minutes until soft.
3. Add the peppers, courgettes and mushrooms, then fry for about 8-10 minutes.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, bring to the boil and simmer (uncovered) for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened.
5. Season to taste.
6. Meanwhile cook your pasta in boiling water for 8-10 minutes until al dente (just firm).
7. Drain your pasta and rinse well under cold water to cool.
8. Place your flour, butter and milk into a saucepan and heat gently, whisking constantly until you have a smooth, thick sauce.
9. Add your pasta and half of your grated Cheddar cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese has melted.
10. Spoon the vegetable mixture into a shallow, ovenproof, dish and top with the pasta and cheese sauce.
11. Sprinkle with the remaining Cheddar cheese and the Parmesan.
12. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden.
13. Serve garnished with chopped parsley.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Mozzarella Pasta

This one is a favourite in our house.  It's both simple and tasty and relatively cheap to make.

175g Pasta shapes
400g Chopped tomatoes
10ml Rapeseed oil
150g Mozzarella cheese, diced
125g Parmesan, freshly grated
10ml Chopped, fresh basil
Salt & pepper to season

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Put the pasta in to boiling water to cook for approx 10 minutes until tender.
3. Meanwhile, gently heat your tomatoes and oil in a pan.
4. Add the mozzarella, half of the grated parmesan, the basil and seasoning.
5. Bring to the boil and remove from the heat.
6. Drain your pasta and place into an ovenproof dish.
7. Pour over the sauce and mix well.
8. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.
9. Place in the oven and cook for approximately 10 minutes until the cheese is golden.

* If using dried parmesan or dried basil, then remember to half the quantities above as they are more intense in flavour.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Chilli for dinner

Autumn is definitely on the way and what better meal to have than a warming bowl of fresh chilli. Not from a jar plucked from a supermarket shelf, but from your own fair hands and a few simple, store cupboard ingredients.

10ml Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
500g Lean minced beef
1 Beef stock cube
5ml (1tsp) Chilli flakes (or more, if you're feeling brave & like it hot!)
400g Can chopped tomatoes
15ml (1tbs) Tomato purée
10ml (2tsp) Oregano
1 can Red kidney beans, rinsed & drained

1. Heat your oil gently in a saucepan.
2. Add the onion & garlic and cook until softened.
3. Add your minced beef & cook until browned.
4. Add the stock cube, chilli flakes, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, oregano and kidney beans.
5. Bring to the boil & cook on a gentle simmer for at least 30 mins (uncovered) or for an hour (with the lid on).

Serve with boiled rice, grated cheese, soured cream & tortilla crisps.

* if it's not hot enough, you can add extra chilli flakes, a chopped fresh chilli, or some Tabasco sauce.

Basmati rice the Rosie way...
1. Tip the quantity of rice you want into a large jug.
2. Pour over boiling water to cover plus about 1-2cm above.
3. Stir to break up any clumps.
4. Leave it alone while you.
5. Bring a large pan of cold water to the boil.
6. Stir then drain your rice.
7. Add the rice to your boiling water, stir & return to the boil.
8. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
9. Cook uncovered for about 7 mins until the grains have started to fluff & it's cooked (taste a few grains to check).
10. Drain & serve.

**You're wasting your money if you add oil to the water. Oil is lighter than water and simply floats on the surface whilst your rice sits below the surface. It doesn't stop your rice grains from sticking together (you pour it down the sink when you drain your rice)

Sunday, 13 October 2013

My mini 12 year old chef; I'm so proud of her

My daughter, Freya, is 12 and is developing a love of spending time in the kitchen creating food.  She's taken to searching recipes on the Internet and in my (many) recipe books and asks if she can bake/cook them.  It's something that I want to actively encourage as I feel it's very important that every child learns to cook good food, from scratch. To learn how to eat wholesome, healthy food and to know where that food comes from. This transpires to when we shop together; she knows to compare prices per 100g etc. to find the best deals and not just the supermarket 'headline' offers that 'appear' to be a bargain.  She even tells her dad off if he picks up the wrong item now!

She's become a dab hand at making pasta, from weighing the flour out on her own, to adding and mixing the egg, to kneading, rolling and shaping it for dinner.  She will happily and confidently spend time in the kitchen absorbing what I'm doing and how I'm doing it and I've seen her confidence grow so much; not to mention the increase in her culinary appetite to explore new flavours.

On Saturday, I'd decided to make a salmon & smoked cod flan for dinner with a white chocolate ganache tart.  One quick call to her to say I was ready to make it and on went her apron to learn how to make pastry. She made the savoury, Parmesan pastry and I made the vanilla, sweetened pastry for dessert beside her.  I have to say that her pastry was sublime! Crisp, light and short as well as being full of flavour.  She has a lovely, gentle touch when rubbing in the butter to her flour and confidently kneaded it before putting it to rest in the fridge.

I demonstrated lining a pastry case to her with my pastry, and without hesitation she followed suit and lined her own, before they were set to chill again.

The term 'blind baking' was obviously understood as she went straight to get the baking beans to line her pastry case.  Her only difficulty was that she didn't scrunch up & smooth out her parchment before lining the case.  Quick explanation to her why it would be better that way, and the beans were out, the parchment scrunched up in a ball and they were back in the pastry case and in the oven to bake.  Paul Hollywood would have been pleased as there certainly wasn't a soggy bottom on that pastry!

Next came the salmon steaks.  She was watching me skin one when she asked if she could do the next.  At this point I was a little worried as my fish knife is incredibly sharp, but she followed my advice and laid her hand & fingers flat on top as she ran her knife close to the board and skin.  The result? A fish skin that was almost perfectly clean. I've seen worse and more wastage from my fishmonger!

Freya made sure to cut all her fish into even sized pieces so that they'd cook at the same time.  She then confidently separated an egg to get the yolk, before mixing that with another whole egg, creme fraiche, double cream, horseradish sauce and grated gruyere cheese, which she then seasoned (& even tasted to check if it were correct).  To this she added her fish and filled her blind baked pastry before putting it back into the oven to cook.

Not a single piece of this was left after dinner which we served it up with fresh salad leaves & peppers with mildly spiced Cajun roast potatoes.  It will be made again, especially now I know how good my daughter is at making pastry too!  

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Beef burgers

Everyone loves a burger from time to time, and to make your own surpasses the flavour of any shop bought, mass produce, additive containing, packed out with cheap filler, mush every time.  They're simple to make (involve the kids) and you can easily batch make these to freeze for a later date. So, lets burger off into the kitchen and get making!

10 Wholewheat crackers (or Cream Crackers or 2 slices of bread, crumbed)
Handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (use 1tbs dried if you don't have fresh)
15ml (1tbs) Wholegrain mustard (or any mustard you find in your fridge!)
1 Large egg
1 Medium onion, finely chopped
1 Red chilli, finely chopped
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
500g Minced beef (try to choose leaner beef if you can, as it'll ooze less fat when you cook it)
Salt & pepper

1. Tip all of your ingredients into a large bowl.
2. Get your hands in there and squish it all together until fully combined.
3. Divide into 8 equal(ish) portions.
4. Flatten into evenly shaped rounds resembling a burger (make sure they're about the same thickness so they all cook at the same time).


5. Preheat a griddle pan until very hot.
6. Cook for 4-5 minutes each side or until cooked through.

Serve in a roll with some tomato chutney, cheese & a bit of salad.

See, I told you it was easy!

If you don't want to use them all now, simply place a piece of waxed/grease proof paper between each one, bag them up and put into a freezer.  Defrost before cooking.

If you want to be all evenly shaped and pretty looking, you can buy a burger press with waxed discs fairly cheaply online or even from some of the supermarkets.
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