The Poor Knights of Windsor

The Poor Knights of Windsor

A little while back Green & Black’s  organic chocolate invited me out to Windsor for their pop-up stall as part of their Taste Tour. Sadly I couldn’t make it, so instead they sent me some chocolate and a recipe to create … Continue reading

Caramel Chocolate Slice

Caramel Chocolate Slice

The ingredients for this classic Australian slice are simple, as is their preparation. The skill in this dish though, lies in the technique. Unlike some other recipes where you might have a generous mistake buffer, if you over cook any of the … Continue reading

Baked Ricotta and Sour Cream Cheesecake

Baked Ricotta and Sour Cream Cheesecake

Early January is not the greatest time to have a birthday. By new year, everyone’s had enough of revelling, pigging out and parties and so the Capricorn must seek humbler means to celebrate. This year, mum bought a home-made feast to my house. … Continue reading

The Gateway Cheese and Beautiful Boards

In the lead up to Christmas, I get the opportunity to try new products and sample foods being launched for the festive season. It is a rare occasion that I’ll turn down the chance to try cheese or chocolate and happily I had the good fortune to take delivery of both recently. Paxton and Whitfield are one of the country’s oldest and most respected cheese mongers and so I’m always so pleased to try whatever they send. This year I tried the Trio of Contemporaries selection which proved to be a finely selected group of fresh and imaginative cheeses to liven up your typical cheese plate.

UK Food blog

The advice from the experts this year is to buy less cheese but in bigger pieces. The reason for this is that larger pieces of cheese store better. If you keep them in the waxed paper they arrive in, you’ll also give them a longer life in the fridge as they’ll be allowed to breath while being kept moist. And if you store your cheese well, it can mean only one thing – more leftovers to enjoy!

Beauvale is a pasteurised cows’ milk cheese that’s relatively new to the artisan British cheese fold. Four years in the making, it was developed by Robin Skailes of Cropwell Bishop Creamery to provide a handmade British substitute for all the soft blue cheeses that are imported from the continent. The hand-ladling of the Beauvale helps to make it so soft. Creamy and richly flavoured but not overwhelming, this cheese is absolutely delectable.

Bosworth Ash Log is an unpasteurised goats’ milk cheese made by Stella Bennett and her son Joe at Innes Cheese, Highfields Farm, Staffordshire. For this cheese, the process starts while the milk is still warm to take advantage of the natural anti-bacterial enzymes present in the freshly-drawn milk. This also helps to retain a fuller flavour creating a cheese with a soft and fragile taste and texture. Bosworth has an unusually light and fresh citrus flavour with an unctuous texture, the perfect foil to the richness of other cheeses.

Hubaner is an unpasteurised  cows’ milk cheese. This Alpine-style, aged hard cheese is made by a modern Austrian co-operative creamery near to the Swiss and German borders. Hubaner has quite a creamy texture for a hard cheese and a lovely mild and nutty flavour. I really liked this one.

My recommendations for anyone looking to develop an appreciation of blue cheese but find it too overwhelming, is to start with a creamy, softer-flavoured cheese like the Beauvale. I call these ‘gateway’ cheeses. Accompany your creamy blue cheese and crackers with some dates and you’ll be amazed at how delightful the marriage of sweet and savoury can truly be. In no time you’ll be scoffing stilton with the most hardened cheese-lovers.

Rowton Wood Board

I also wanted to share a discovery made earlier in the year; Rowton Wood chopping boards. There are lots of chopping boards on the market these days, and sure they’re nice, but these boards, hand-made by David White up in the Midlands, are really beautifully made. From the lovingly selected pieces of timber with all their naturals swirls and character, to the rustic shaping and even the detail of the branding in the corner, these boards are beautiful and would be perfect for serving up your cheese in the festive season or would make someone who loves cooking, a thoughtful and unique gift for Christmas. Now would be the time to place an order if you’re thinking of giving one of these as a Christmas gift.

Local Food Hero: Gordon Stores Maidenhead

It’s October and in our family that means pumpkin carving, autumn trees and turning on the heating. We carved out pumpkins last night and draped some cobwebs and spiders around the place. Just a bit of fun for Halloween which is one of my favourite festivities. People say Halloween is an American cultural quirk and one that’s being steadily adopted here in the UK. But before you start hum-bugging this spooky celebration, just remember it all started here in Britain – well according to some scholars anyway. The Celts were celebrating Samhain long before the Christian festival of All Hallows and folk were carving out turnips to ward off the spirits on this night before the pumpkin trend took hold.

Maidenhead food blog

Feeding Time Blog

I made pumpkin pie for the occasion, a recipe with a hazelnut crust from a Canadian friend that I try to make at least once a year. And I also made fried chicken with scones and bacon gravy – some proper American culture right there. But I’m not afraid to embrace the food and fun of other cultures. Growing up in Sydney, I was steeped in the wildly varied immigrant culture of the new world and I am always enthusiastic about trying new flavours and this what brings me to my latest Food Hero; the Gordon Stores on Gordon Street Maidenhead. This place is a haven for those looking for groceries and produce that cannot find in the big name shops; for those who might be looking for that taste of home; or those who have realised that there is so much more to Asian cuisine than Blue Dragon sauces.

Feeding time blog

A friend told me about Gordon Stores when I was looking for a certain ingredient and if she hadn’t told me I never would have found it because it looks so unsuspecting. But once you step inside the doors of Gordon Stores you’ll find a treasure trove of ingredients, snacks and produce to rival any London speciality store. You’ll find absolutely every kind of Indian ingredient there and they have an impressive Asian/Chinese range that is growing to meet the demand for authentic Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese ingredients, they even have halal meats and a really wonderful range of fresh, well-priced and unusual produce.

Another factor that makes the Gordon Stores so good is the customer service. If you catch the owner, he can point you in the direction of what you’re looking for and he is also interested in finding out about good products and authentic brands to stock. I went in looking for Mae Ploy red curry paste last week, and while they didn’t have it yet, I was told that they’ve just found a supplier and will be bringing in new lines of Thai ingredients soon. I also encouraged them to consider stocking Lee Kum Kee Panda oyster sauce because you cannot get it anywhere in Maidenhead and it is far superior than any quasi-Asian brand that you’ll see on the supermarket shelves.

Don’t take my word for it, support this incredible local business and visit Gordon Stores today. They don’t have a website but you’ll find them at 15 Gordon Rd, Maidenhead, West Berkshire SL6 6BS. Give them a call 01628 621171.

Double Chocolate Muffins

Double Chocolate Muffins

Well…we can’t be good all the time. Here are the rules. Think of it like Fight Club but instead of fighting to escape spiritual somnambulance we’re fighting to escape the disappointment of below-average chocolate muffins. We’re fighting to make a chocolate muffin … Continue reading

Rocky Road

Rocky Road

I was chatting to another mum in the school yard the other day and we were talking about how hard it is to choose those incidental gifts; the ones you give to your neighbour, your hairdresser, teachers and workmates. It can … Continue reading

Lemon Myrtle Yoghurt and Macadamia Shortbread

A friend from home sent me an Australian bush food recipe book for Christmas, along with a couple of packets of wattle seed and a chilli, wild lime and lemon myrtle seasoning blend. What a thoughtful gift and it truly got me thinking about the good friends I have left behind. It also got me thinking about this really nice yoghurt I used to try-not-to-buy because it was loaded with calories. It was a lemon myrtle yoghurt. Lemon scented myrtle or Backhousia citriodora was named after the British botanist James Backhouse, and shortened to lemon myrtle to market the dried leaf for culinary use. It has an unusual strong lemon scent that is somehow more fragrant and sharply floral than actual lemon.

LemonMyrtle-Web

I love this seasoning in sweet dishes. I can imagine it would go very nicely in a cheesecake, but today I’ve made my own dessert creation in honour of the lemon myrtle yoghurt I left behind. To turn this yoghurt into an exotic Australian ‘bush food’ dessert that will shock and amaze your friends and family, serve it up with macadamia nut shortbread. Sliced into fingers, you dip the pieces of shortbread into the yoghurt.

To get your hands on some lemon myrtle, and most likely any other strange and exotic spice, visit Seasoned Pioneers online. The gang at Season Pioneers specialise in authentic herbs and spices, and they kindly sent me a package of lemon myrtle so that I could create this fragrant yoghurt recipe to share with my readers. When it comes to the macadamia nuts, you’ll find them at Waitrose and any decent health food shop. They’re kind of pricey, so if you can’t find them or don’t want to spend too much, you could replace them with Brazil nuts and get a similar texture and flavour.

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Lemon Myrtle Yoghurt Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup of FAGE Greek yoghurt
1 tsp honey
1 tsp of lemon myrtle, ground finely as possible.
1 tbs lemon juice

Method:
Combine all the ingredients, and leave overnight for the flavours to develop.
Taste it, to adjust the flavours to your preference which might be sweeter, stronger or more tangy than these ratios.

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Macadamia Shortbread Recipe

Ingredients:
225g softened butter
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (reduce the flour by half a cup for a softer, more cakey shortbread)
1/2 cup chopped, unsalted, raw macadamia nuts

Oven 180C

Method:
Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a bowl, as opposed to in a mixer.
Press into a lined slice pan (approx. 20cm x 30cm).
Bake until golden, and then slice into fingers.
Serve with lemon myrtle yoghurt.

 

 

Cooper’s Coffee Marlow

Cooper’s Coffee Marlow

As London’s coffee culture moves at light speed, with the likes of Monmouth marching across the terrain like caffeinated Kiwi warriors, and hole-in-the-wall cafes springing up in unlikely places, Maidenhead seems to have been overlooked by the destination-coffee house revolution. Costa, Nero and Starbucks … Continue reading

Healthy and Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Healthy and Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Soup

It gets harder to be enthusiastic about salads when the weather turns. Fresh, raw vegetables suddenly don’t seem as appetising or satisfying when there’s a chill in the air. But don’t let a craving for comfort food be an excuse … Continue reading

Coconut and Ginger Slice

Coconut and Ginger Slice

If you ever wanted to cunningly plot the demise of an enemy with a cake-induced-heart-attack, this recipe would be your weapon of choice. It is one of the most supernaturally seductive slices I’ve ever tasted and contains a whopping one and … Continue reading

Scrappy Supper: Toast with Garlic Mushrooms

Scrappy Supper: Toast with Garlic Mushrooms

I love scrappy dinners. I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it’s that break with routine that signals something exciting, something different. For us, Tuesdays have become our night for scrappy suppers.  With all of our activities falling on one night of … Continue reading

Luscious Lemon Pie with Coconut crust

Luscious Lemon Pie with Coconut crust

I’ve made loads of lemon tarts… but I’ve never felt moved enough, confident enough to share a recipe. It’s all been a bit hit and miss. Sometimes grainy, sometimes too tart and often too flat. But, I made a lemon … Continue reading

Creamy raw broccoli and roasted nut salad

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It’s salad mayhem here. This will be the last one for the season. I promise. This raw broccoli salad is the jewel in the crown. The first time I tried it was at my turkey-carving masterclass at Copas Turkeys last year. They had put on a lunch for the visitors and this was one of the salads on offer. It’s been 6 months – and finally I got my hands on Brenda Copas’ raw broccoli salad. It’s similar to a popular American recipe that features bacon and raisins and fried lardons was an option for this dish but I left it out. If something tastes great without bacon, always best to leave it out really. I know that sounds frugal but bacon is the last thing I need these days.

It might come as a surprise from someone who talks a lot about healthy eating and vegetables, but I’ve never liked raw broccoli, I only sometimes like it steamed, so this recipe was a stretch for me. But let me tell you – it is a salad miracle that broccoli tastes so good in this salad. I think the secret is in the dressing and the marinading. You can feel free to make this salad and eat it up straight away – but if Brenda says to marinade the broccoli then I’ll marinade it because whatever it is – it works.

Sweet and creamy, this amazing dressing contains a confronting amount of sugar, but it’s so delicious it’s worth every calorie. Needless to say this is more of a celebration salad than a virtuous daily meal type of recipe.

Broccoli, Cheese and Roasted Nut Salad Recipe

Ingredients:
1 x head of broccoli
1 x cup of nuts/seeds (hazelnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds)
1 cup grated cheese
1 bunch spring onions, sliced
Dressing:
1 cup of mayonnaise
50g sugar
2 tbs cider vinegar

Method:
Roast the nuts, leave to cool.
For the dressing, mix up the mayo, vinegar and sugar.
Cut the broccoli into small florets and grate the stalk.
Toss the broccoli, cheese and onion into the dressing and leave over night.
When you’re ready to serve give it a mix, stirring in the nuts.

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Roasted broccoli, cheddar and spiced walnut salad

Roasted broccoli, cheddar and spiced walnut salad

I recently tried Applewood Cheddar for the first time and while I don’t make a habit of eating cheese unless it’s mouldy, I couldn’t resist seeking out a recipe for this much-loved British cheese. With its subtle smokey flavour and creamy … Continue reading

Cornflakes; not just for breakfast

Cornflakes; not just for breakfast

The only time I buy cereal is when Kellogg’s have their annual Grown-ups Go Free promotion. Last year we used them to take the boys to Lego Land for the first time and I’ve got my tokens on the fridge ready … Continue reading

On the chopping block

On the chopping block

There’s a plethora of chopping woods, blocks and sheets available today, which makes choosing the right board difficult. However, if you’re not sure about what the best kind is, consider that wooden chopping boards have natural anti-bacterial properties in the wood that … Continue reading

The Only Chocolate Brownie Recipe You’ll Ever Need

I stand by my outrageous claim that this is indeed, the best brownie recipe ever. In the world. I have made it countless times and it never fails to impress. It’s moist, rich, delicious hot or cold and thoroughly and deeply … Continue reading

Healthier Alternative to Buffalo Wings

When private health care provider Ramsay Health invited me to take part in their fast-food alternative campaign in the hope to encourage people to be more mindful of the food they’re eating, I couldn’t really say no. By developing alternatives to some of the nation’s favourite fast food options, the folks at Ramsay hope to make weight management and healthy lifestyles more achievable and enjoyable. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

My contribution is a home-made alternative to that bar-snack favourite, Buffalo Wings. Typically you’d find the wings for this recipe deep fried, served with fries, creamy coleslaw, lashings of blue-cheese dipping sauce and that famous Buffalo hot sauce. The beauty of this recipe is that you really don’t feel as if you’re losing anything by making and enjoy this meal at home. It’s super easy to create this feast in your own kitchen, and by making a few healthier replacements, you’ll find that this meal will be 100% enjoyable and yet it won’t feel like a blow-out.

Oven-baking the wings yields fantastic results. I promise. You won’t feel cheated at all with this recipe. The fat content in the wings, means that you’ll still get your crispy skin but you won’t have fried it in yet more fat. Instead of making the hot sauce and blue-cheese dip, simply serve your wings with sriracha chilli sauce and some light creme fraiche, you’ll get a similar taste/dipping experience but will have done away with the labour-intensive, calorie-intensive fast-food alternative. And when it comes to chips and coleslaw – these sautéed chats and Asian peanut-slaw will make you wonder why you hadn’t tried home-made sooner.

Feeding Time Blog

Spicy Oven Wings, Sautéed Chats and Asian Slaw

Ingredients:

For the Chicken Wings
12 wings, with tips removed and cut into drummettes/wings
Olive oil
6 tbs flour
1 tbs white pepper
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbs garlic salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt

Chicken Wings

For the Coleslaw
Half a shredded cabbage (red/white)
6 shallots, thinly sliced
1 carrot, grated
2 celery sticks, shredded
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
small bunch of coriander, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbs vinegar
2 tbs light soy sauce
2 tbs honey
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tbs peanut butter
salt

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Coleslaw

For the Chats
1 packet of new potatoes

Home fries

METHOD

Set oven to 180C

For the Wings
Lightly coat the wing pieces in some olive oil.
Put all the dry ingredients into a zip-lock bag and mix.
Place all the wings into the bag, close it up and then roll the bag around to evenly coat all the wings in the seasoned flour.
Place the wings on a baking tray, (you might need two) and put in the oven for about an hour.

For the Coleslaw
Place all the vegetables into a large bowl and mix.
Place all the remaining ingredients into a jar and shake it around like crazy.
Taste the dressing, and tweak to your liking before you pour it over the salad and mix together.

For the Chats
Boil the chat potatoes until they are almost cooked, but not quite.
Leave to cool a bit, and then slice into discs.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan, then place the potatoes in the oil.
Leave the slices to fry for a while, to develop a crispy surface, about 5 minutes. Then you can use your flip to turn the slices and crisp up the other side.
Sprinkle some salt flakes and pepper to season.