Farmersgirl Kitchen

Sauce it, Slice it, Store it, Review it!

My kitchen table is groaning with food, kitchen equipment and cook books again, so time for a review round up On My Kitchen Table!

Tortellini in Parmigiana Sauce with Spriralizer Courgettes

Doesn’t that look good?  Let me tell you it was absolutely delicious, but before you get the idea that I’m some kind of pasta master, making this Giovanni Rani tortellini is a simple as opening a pack and cooking it in boiling water, then warming the sauce and adding some sprializer courgettes (zucchini).  

delicious ready to cook pasta and sauces from Giovanni Rana

Giovanni Rana make deliciously authentic Italian sauces and fresh filled pasta and they recently launched two new sauces.  The first is Italian Indulgence Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce – silky in texture with an exciting and pleasing parmigiano kick that delights the taste buds. This sauce is made with authentic PDO Parmigiano-Reggiano and blended with cream for a full-flavoured sauce that remains a classic, indulgent dish both in Italy and the UK.

REVIEW

The Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce is absolutely gorgeous, it really tastes homemade and could be served on it’s own with pasta, but I combined it with lightly steamed courghetti in one meal and with buttered sauteed leeks in another, so indulgent, so quick and so delicious!

The second is Italian Indulgence Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts & Garlic which captures the flavours that sit at the heart of the Italian repertoire: basil, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, a blend of hard cheeses and a touch of garlic. Giovanni Rana’s vibrant pesto is delightfully-coarse and contains whole pine nuts, for a rustic homemade finish and added crunch.

The Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts & Garlic (sorry no photos) is fresh tasting and an excellent texture.  Mix the basil pesto with spaghetti and halved cherry tomatoes for a quick and tasty meal.

Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence Sauces cost between £1.97 – £2.49 which is excellent value for the quality of the product. Farmersgirl Kitchen Rating: 9/10

Precision Chef Knife collection

Edge of Belgravia is one of the world’s most innovative and bold chef knife brands. They produce futuristic designs by contemporary London designers, such as Christian Bird who designed the affordable quality Precision range.  The Precision design fuses the diamond-like facet shape handle with a unique and carefully conceived stainless steel blade, they are designed for precision cooking. You can read my previous review on the Complete Chef Knife Collection.  Now they have produced a Precision Four Piece extension set of Chef Knives.  

REVIEW

First up in the image below is new larger 19cm Chef’s Knife larger than their previous 15 cm version.  Excellent for slicing, chopping and mincing. The bigger the better as far as Chef Knives are concerned, this one is a useful mid-size. 

The 19 cm Bread Knife has been extended for the perfect brad slice.  We found it was still a bit too short for our home made bread but it cuts very well. 

The 19 cm Slicing Knife which has alternating scallops on both sides which reduce the drag on the knife and allowing you to produce paper thin slices.  I haven’t seen anything like this knife before, it really does cut very thin slices and doesn’t stick.

The 15cm Filleting Knife is a real chef’s tool, use it for filleting and boning , it was specifically requested by a number of London’t top chefs.  The right knife for the job is definitely a key to good cooking and this is a type of knife I haven’t owned before,  I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but am looking forward to it making the difference to recipes that need the precision and a fine flexible blade. 

Edge of Belgravia

A great collection of knives

Edge of Belgravia Precision Knives Extension Set is now available through Bed, Bath and Beyond for £97.12  

Farmersgirl Kitchen Rating: 8/10

Easy Tasty Healthy by Barbara Cousins

Easy, Tasty Healthy by Barbara Cousins is all about eating for good health.  It’s packed full of everyday recipes all free from gluten, dairy, sugar, soya, eggs and yeast.

REVIEW

Pros: The recipes cover a wide range of different tastes, I really liked Tomato Smoked Paprika and Butterbean Soup, there are some lovely pate and dip recipes, One Pot Wonders and ‘Tray Bakes’ not the cake kind, but whole meals baked in the oven on a baking tray.  There are also some dehydrator recipes which I will definitely be trying.  

Cons: There isn’t a picture for every recipe which is something I prefer, however the photographs are very good and tempting.  Many of the recipes only serve 2, I know that it’s pretty simple to multiply up the recipe, but I did find it a bit off-putting as it’s not what I’m used to in a cook book. 

Easy Tasty Healthy HC

The Verdict:  The most impressive thing about this book, is that you wouldn’t even know that it was a ‘free from’ cook book.  There are lots of base recipes with variations too, which is always useful when you like to vary your ingredients as I do!

Easy, Tasty Healthy by Barbara Cousins is Published by Harper Collins (RRP £16.99)

Mason Jar Nation by Joann Moser

Something a little different this time as I review Mason Jar Nation.  It is not really a cook book but it  does contain recipes. What Joann Moser has done is bring together a whole host of ideas for using Mason Jars around the home and garden as well as in the kitchen. 

REVIEW

Pros: The book starts with the history of these iconic jars and then moves on to the Projects.  Some of my favourite Projects were the Lucky Bamboo Water Garden, The Tabletop Mason Jar Water Fountain, Pineapple Infused Vodka, Salad & Dressing To Go Jar, Triptych Twine Station and Moonbeam Stakes.  It’s full of inspiration and, with the technical information that goes with each project, you will soon be thinking of your own creative projects. 

Cons: For some of the projects you need to cut the glass and  use specialist equipment to punch holes in the lids.  They are not really suitable for children. 

 The Verdict: Crafters will be inspired by this book and cooks may see some new uses for the Mason Jars they use to store their preserves, all in all it’s a fun book. 

Mason Jar Nation by JoAnn Moser is published by Cool Springs Press (RRP £11.99). 

More information on the book can be found here.

I hope you enjoyed my reviews and found them useful. I received these products to review, I was not paid and all opinions are my own. 

How to make Blackcurrant Jam

This year has been particularly good for blackcurrants in my garden. We had a warm dry spell in early summer when the flowers were pollinated and ‘set’.   Since then we have had an awful lot of rain, not great for other things, but the blackcurrants absolutely love it and are nice and big and juicy and perfect for Blackcurrant Jam!

Picking Blackcurrants for jam making

Blackcurrants are high in pectin so it is a good jam to try if you are a beginner. The pectin is what makes the jam set, fruit like strawberries can be tricky to set, but blackcurrants are perfect for jam making, so if you have never made jam before please do give it a go.  Homemade jam is so delicious and nothing you buy can every match it. 

Blackcurrant Jam
Yields 1
Blackcurrant Jam has a deep fruity flavour, it's easy to make and a real taste of summer.
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Ingredients
  1. 450 g (1 lb) blackcurrants
  2. 450 ml (3/4 pint) water
  3. 550 g (1 1/4 lb) sugar
Instructions
  1. Remove the stalks, then wash the fruit.
  2. Simmer gently with the water until the skins are really soft.
  3. Add the sugar
  4. Stir until dissoved
  5. Boil rapidly until setting point is reached.
  6. I suggest you boil for 15 minutes then test for set, if not set test again after 5 minutes.
Notes
  1. There are many methods of testing set, I put saucers or small plates in the fridge and drop a spoonful of jam onto the plate, leave in fridge for 5 minutes, if it wrinkles when you push it with your finger then it's ready. Remember to take the jam off the heat while testing. If it's not set then you can put it back on for 5 minutes.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
 For more information on jam making techniques, check out the Jam Mistress herself: Vivien Lloyd for tips on Mastering Preserves.

How to make Blackcurrant Jam

To make sure you don’t miss any of my recipes, subscribe by email (in the side bar on the right) or follow Farmersgirl Kitchen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Flipboard.

If you would like to make other kinds of jam and jelly here are a few ideas to expand your repertoire: 

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam – Farmersgirl Kitchen 

White Currant Jelly-Jam – Farmersgirl Kitchen 

Gooseberry Jam – Baking Queen 74

Easy Redcurrant and Port Jelly– Kavey Eats

Peach and Ice Wine Jam – Kavey Eats

Fig and Strawberry Jam – The Veg Space

Morello Cherry and Raspberry Jam – The Veg Space

Apricot and Vanilla Jam – Tin & Thyme

Easy Blackberry and Apple Jam– Fab Food 4 All

Quick One Punnet Strawberry Jam – Fab Food 4 All

Inheritance Recipes

I’m entering the Blackcurrant Jam for Inheritance Recipes, the Linky  run by Coffee & Vanilla and Pebble Soup to celebrate recipes passed down through the family.  I can remember picking blackcurrants with my Granny who then made Blackcurrant Jam.  My Mum is a very accomplished jam maker and I’ve yet to taste anything to better her Raspberry Jam.  

Blackcurrant Jam is perfect as a topping for fruit desserts

Blackcurrant Jam is perfect in desserts, I used it to top some fat free greek yogurt, nectarines and strawberries.  You can swirl it into yogurt too or make your own fruit corners.

 

Summer Pudding Ice Lollies

Summer Pudding is my all time favourite summer dessert.  All of those sweet berries oozing their juice through slices of thick white bread, oh my goodness it’s so delicious and these Summer Pudding Ice Lollies are super-delicious too.  

Summer Pudding Ice Lollies

When I picked blackcurrants last weekend, I didn’t have time to make a summer pudding. However,  I did make a fruit compote using the summer berries and it occurred to me that this might make a good ice lolly, and that’s how I created Summer Pudding Ice Lollies,  and they are a triumph!

Summer Pudding Ice Lollies
Yields 6
A summer berry compote frozen into a refreshing ice lolly or popsicle.
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Ingredients
  1. 100g Blackcurrants
  2. 200g Strawberries
  3. 100g Raspberries
  4. 50g Redcurrants
  5. 180g Sugar*
Instructions
  1. Place the blackcurrants and redcurrants into a pan with the sugar and a tbsp of water.
  2. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, the juice runs and the blackcurrants start to soften.
  3. Add the raspberries and strawberries and cook gently for 5 minutes more, you don't want to break up the fruit just soften it slightly.
  4. Take off the heat and cool a little, check the sweetness*, it needs to be sweeter than you need for eating as compote as the sweetness diminishes with freezing. If you need more sugar, add another tablespoonful and heat gently to dissolve.
  5. Leave until completely cold.
  6. Fill into lolly moulds and freeze until solid, preferably overnight.
Notes
  1. The quantities of currants and berries can be varied it's up to you, just check the sweetness. I didn't have any redcurrants so added more blackcurrants, you can also use frozen fruit in your compote, I used frozen raspberries. The yield of lollies is also dependant on the size of your lolly moulds. If you have some left over, it's lovely on greek yogurt for breakfast.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
 When I went outside to take the photographs I was thrilled to find that there were a couple of ripe strawberries on the plants in my pots, they added the perfect finishing touch!

Take luscious summer berries and make these Summer Pudding Ice Lollies

I really recommend that you get yourself some ice lolly moulds, it’s so easy to make lollies and they have so much more flavour and you know exactly what ingredients have gone into them.  If you like these lollies have a look at my Chocolate Dipped Mango Mousse Ice Lollies. 

Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream Badge

Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream is running again this month and Kavey Eats has chosen ‘dairy-free’ as the theme.  There is nothing but fruit, sugar and a little water in these ice lollies so I think they are perfect for this challenge. 

Summer Pudding Ice Lolly or Popsicle

What is your favourite summer dessert?  Would it make a good ice lolly?  Let me know, I’m always looking for inspiration!

How to make Soft Cheese and other Alchemy

When I posted a photo this homemade soft cheese on social media, someone described it as alchemy and, in a way, it is.  

One of the definitions of alchemy is: “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination” and making soft cheese is a transformation of liquid milk into solid cheese.

Home made soft cheese

The good news is that making soft cheese at home is really simple especially if you use the Lekue Cheese Maker.  There are no moving parts, it’s simply a perfectly-sized bowl with it’s own strainer to let the whey run off the cheese.

Lekue Cheese Maker

The Lekue Cheese Maker usually costs £19.90, however it is currently on sale at £15.92 at the Lekue online store.  While it’s not essential for making the soft cheese, it certainly makes it a lot easier. 

Lekue Soft Cheese
A simple soft cheese made with milk, it's a little bit of alchemy!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 litre milk
  2. 2tbsp lemon juice or 1 tbsp + 1 tsp vinegar
  3. OR
  4. 750 ml milk
  5. 375 g natural yogurt
Instructions
  1. To make the cheese there are two options, the first is to add lemon or vinegar to the milk, the other is to add natural yogurt.
  2. Heat the mixture in the microwave 12-14 minutes at 800W (90C/194F) and the milk separates.
  3. Leave the mixture to cool for 30 minutes then add salt or sugar to taste and pour into the strainer letting the whey drain away.
  4. Put the strainer back into the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, then you can turn the cheese out onto a plate.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
  Cracker with homemade soft cheese and herbs

Cheese making is not the only alchemy in my kitchen, I’ve also been using my Optimum  P200 Dehydrator to dehydrate tomatoes and make ‘sun-dried’ tomatoes in olive oil.

Dehydrating Tomatoes

Making the ‘sun’ dried tomatoes in the dehydrator is really easy.  This is the time of year when you can get really good ripe tomatoes more cheaply and we were really impressed by the concentrated tomato flavour.  

I sliced the tomatoes so they would dry more quickly, but if you are prepared to wait you can dehydrate quarters or halves, or little grape tomatoes.  Timing is variable depending on the tomatoes,  I ran my dehydrator for 12 hours at 57C.  I then packed the dried tomatoes into a jar with some whole peeled cloves of garlic and fresh basil leaves and filled the jar with oil.  

Soft Cheese and Sundried Tomato Bruschetta

I left the jar for about two weeks before opening and the result is totally delicious. The oil takes on the tomato, garlic and basil flavour making it ideal to brush onto olive bread then toast to make the bruschetta base.  

Then I simply topped the bread with cubes of homemade soft cheese, the slices of dried tomatoes, a little fresh basil and then drizzled it all with more of the oil from the jar, it was just gorgeous.

Herb and flower dehydrating

My Optimum P200 Dehydrator has been put to  good use recently, with rose petals and herbs from my garden filling the trays.  Again the time for dehydration varies, the rose petals took around 6 hours, the rosemary which has quite a fleshy leaf took around 14 hours. 

Bruschetta with homemade cheese and sun dried tomatoes in olive oil

Disclosure: Froothie UK sent me the Optimum P200 Dehyrator to use and review at home. I have not been paid for this post and was not required to give the Optimum P200 Dehydrator a positive write up.  All opinions are my own.  Affiliate links included in this post and if you buy the dehydrator via the link I will receive a small payment, but the product will not cost you any more.

Spiralizer Salads and Nourishing Noodles

Do you Spiralize? Spiralizers have swept in as the ‘must have’ gadget for the trend of ‘clean’ eating and healthy eating, spiralizer ‘courghetti’ and sweet potato ‘noodles’ have even made it into the supermarket ready prepared vegetable section.   

Spiralizer Review

As a confirmed kitchen gadget-obsessive, I bought a spiralizer early on, it was a Japanese version and, while it did make vegetable spirals, somehow I never really got on with it.

 I was delighted when I saw that OXO Good Grips were bringing out a spiralizer, as I have always found their kitchen kit to be well designed and to do what you expect without too much fuss.

OXO Good Grips Spiralizer

Oxo Good Grips actually have two different spiralizers, there is this full size version which has three different blades so you can choose from spaghetti cut, fettucine cut or ribbon cut noodles.

 The Sprializer is well designed, as I would expect from OXO Good Grips, it’s easy to put together and has a plastic storage box for the blades.  Here is a summary of my thoughts: 

  • Best for large quantities of vegetables
  • Good for larger vegetables or round fruit and vegetables e.g. apples, beetroot
  • The suction cup doesn’t work at all on my wooden worksurface and isn’t 100% effective on a smooth surface either, however this didn’t stop it functioning.
  • The blades are very sharp, be careful when you are cleaning them, I cut my finger.
  • Cost: £40.00

Farmersgirl Kitchen rating: 8/10

Hand Held Sprializer

Then there is the Hand-Held Spiralizer which is a neat little gadget, I found it very simple to use, makes one type of noodle, slightly thicker than the spaghetti cut however the noodles hold together in their curls really well.

  • Best for long thin vegetables like carrots and courgettes (zucchini)
  • Really easy to use and store, no set up, just pick it up and use
  • Blade is concealed and less dangerous for fingers
  • Quite hard work with harder vegetables, so better for smaller quantities, brilliant with courgettes and cucumber though
  • Cost: £15.00

Farmersgirl Kitchen rating: 9/10

Nourishing Noodles by Chris Anca

Vegetable and Fruit Noodles made with a Spiralizer are a great way to reduce carbohydrates and create quick and easy meals packed with nutrients.

Chris Anca of Tales of a Kitchen has written Nourishing Noodles to show us how to transform ordinary produce into a delicious bowl of noodles and dress it with sauces, dressings and  any of your favourite add ins.

Pros: There are a good range of recipes, mostly fairly simple to make.  Nourishing Noodles also provides information about how to spiralize, what to spiralize and what equipment to choose. The photographs are very tempting and give you an idea of what to aim for.  

Cons: Many of the recipes have a long list of ingredients with different vegetables and fruits for the noodles and then more ingredients for the dressings or toppings.  As long as you don’t mind collecting together all the ingredients, they are generally easily available and pack the recipes with flavour.

The Verdict: I found this book a great inspiration for creating my own spiralized recipes, it’s easy to replace one veg with another and the dressing ideas are really delicious.  Well worth a place on the shelf and great for anyone starting out with spiralizing. 

Nourishing Noodles: Sprialize nearly 100 plant-based recipes for Zoodles, Ribbons and Vegetable Spirals, by Chris Anca.  Published by Race Point and imprint of Quatro Publishing Group RRP: £14.99

Heirloom Carrot Noodle Salad with Mustard Avocado Dressing
Serves 2
A crunchy carrot salad with a delicious piquant dressing.
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Noodles
  1. 3 large heirloom carrots, thin spirals
  2. (1 yellow, 1 orange and 1 purple carrot)
Dressing
  1. 1/2 avocado
  2. 1 tbsp Homemade Mustard
  3. 1/2 cup (80ml) cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  4. 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
  5. 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
  6. `/3 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  7. 1 pinch chilli flakes
Toppings
  1. 1 small handful roughly chopped cilantro (coriander)
  2. 2 tbsp Turmeric Dukkah
  3. 1 small handful alfalfa sprouts
Instructions
  1. Place carrot noodles in a large bowl.
  2. Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and process until smooth
  3. Add dressing to the noodles and toss until thoroughly coated.
  4. Top with cilantro, turmeric dukkah and alfalfa sprouts, and serve
Notes
  1. Now here's where this book is great as an inspirational resource, I didn't have any heritage carrots, so used two ordinary orange carrots and 2 small apples,
  2. I didn't have time to make the homemade mustard so used a tsp of Dijon mustard.
  3. I didn't use the Turmeric Dukkah either, but it was still absolutely delicious, so with all Chris's ingredients it is bound to be outstanding.
Adapted from Nourishing Noodles
Adapted from Nourishing Noodles
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
 Sprializer Inspiration

Here are a few pictures of other vegetable noodles I’ve been making.  Courghetti with the Hand Held Sprializer,  Thin Carrot noodles and Sweet Potato Fettuccine made with the table top Sprializer.  These spiralizer vegetables are perfect in a stir fry or as a substitute for pasta.

Ravioli with Courghetti

A single courgette spiralized with the Hand Held Spiralizer, was a perfect addition to Giovanni Rana ready made, chilled ravioli and Parmigiano Reggiano sauce (more about this coming soon).

For more  SPIRALIZER RECIPE INSPIRATION follow:

Farmersgirl Kitchen on Pinterest

Strawberry Shortcake

What better way to celebrate summer than with a delicious homemade Strawberry Shortcake?  I absolutely love a fresh crumbly scone layered up with strawberry jam, fresh cream and strawberries. 

Summer Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake is a classic American dessert as well as an annoyingly twee little pink cartoon character, search online and you will see what I mean.  I did a little research online and it soon became obvious that ‘shortcake’, in this context, is simply a sweet scone.  So if you can make scones, you can make Strawberry Shortcake!  

I know some people struggle to make good scones, so here is a little help: 

TOP TIPS FOR BAKING SCONES:

  • Rubbing the fat into the flour is best done by hand, but if I have a large batch to make I do use my stand mixer or sometimes a food processor.
  • Never add the liquid in the mixer or food processor (unless you are really expert) as this is likely to overwork the dough, add it slowly and bring together the dough first with a knife and then with your hands.
  • Never knead the dough, just bring it together pressing a little until it’s smooth.
  • There’s no need to roll  out the dough, just pat it down.
  • The height of the uncooked dough should be about half what you want for your finished scone, so cut them thick.
  • Never twist your cutter when cutting out the scone, it stops it from rising properly.
  • Make sure your oven is really hot before putting the scones in to bake.

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

Strawberry Shortcake
Yields 4
A sweet scone type shortcake filled with strawberry jam, sliced strawberries and cream.
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. For the Shortcake
  2. 225g self-raising flour
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 50g soft butter
  5. 25g caster (superfine) sugar
  6. 1 egg
  7. milk
  8. 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  9. For the filling
  10. 2 tbsp strawberry jam
  11. 12 strawberries
  12. 150ml double (heavy) cream whipped (or 100g clotted cream)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 220C
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Put the flour and baking powder in a bowl, add the butter and chop it into the flour, then rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until it looks like breadcrumbs, add the caster sugar.
  4. Crack the egg into a jug or other measure and beat with a fork, add milk up to 150ml.
  5. Gradually add this mixture to the flour bringing the liquid and flour together into a soft dough, you may need a little less or a little more depending on your flour.
  6. Pat the dough out to about 1.25cm (1/2 inch)
  7. Cut into rounds with an 85 mm (3 1/4 in) cutter and place on the baking tray
  8. Brush the tops of the scones with milk, or the milk/egg mix if you have any left.
  9. Sprinkle with granulated sugar
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes until the scones are pale golden brown.
  11. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
  12. To assemble
  13. Take one cooled scone per person
  14. Split the scones in half
  15. Spread strawberry jam on the base of the scones and place on the serving plate
  16. Top with a spoonful of whipped or clotted cream
  17. Set aside 4 of the best strawberries (preferably quite small) for the top of the shortcake
  18. Slice 8 of the strawberries and sprinkle with a teaspoon of caster sugar and 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  19. Divide the strawberry slices between the four scones
  20. Place the top of the scone over the strawberries
  21. Add a small spoonful of cream and top with a small whole strawberry.
Notes
  1. If you don't have time to make scones, you can always buy some good quality scones and layer them up with jam, cream and strawberries.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
 You could, of course, make one single large Strawberry Shortcake.  For this, you would make two larger circles, use a small plate as a template, leave one circle whole and cut the other into wedges, once baked these will sit on top of the strawberries and cream. 

Here are some other strawberry dessert ideas you might like to try:

raw strawberry coconut macaroons

Raw Strawberry Coconut Macaroons – Planet Veggie

 

 

 

 

 

Sensational Strawberry Pavlova

 

 

Sensational Strawberry Pavlova – Farmersgirl Kitchen 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Mousse

 

 

Strawberry Mousse – Farmersgirl Kitchen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Blancmange

 

Vegetarian Strawberry Blancmange – Tin & Thyme

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

 

 

Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Cake – Simply Food

 

 

 

 

 

And one last look at the Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Summer Drinks and Snacks

The postman has been busy delivering parcels of summer drinks and snacks to my kitchen table, so I can try them and let you know just what I think of them.  It’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it! 

Cawston Press Sparkling Fruit Drink

I’m not much of a fan of fizzy drinks, don’t offer me Coca Cola, Irn Bru or any other drink whether full sugar or zero, I really don’t enjoy them.  However, I do love these Fabulously Fruity Cawston Press sparkling presse drinks.  Cawston Press combine sparkling water, fruit puree and pressed apple juice to create their refreshing drinks.

I was asked to try two new flavours, Gooseberry and Cucumber & Mint.  Both are unusual flavours for soft drinks, I love gooseberries so enjoyed the the gentle sweetness of Gooseberry, you do need to make sure that the pulp is mixed through as it tends to sink to the bottom of the can.  I overcame this by storing the cans upside down in the fridge and then gently turning them over before serving, they won’t pop and over flow, as long as you don’t shake them!

Cucumber & Mint is a really surprising combination, but it works well, it’s perfect for cooling down on a warm day. It would also be a brilliant mixer for summer cocktails, adding a fresh cool flavour. A 330ml can of Cawston Press Sparkling Gooseberry or Cucumber & Mint costs between 74p-99p 

FGK Rating 8/10

A delicious selection of nuts and granolas from Nuts in ya mouht

NYIM which stand for ‘Nuts in Ya Mouth’ and is a company selling a range of naturally flavoured organic and non-organic nuts and a healthy breakfast cereal range known as Raw Granola Crunch.  

 The  Raw Granola is a ‘free from’ option,  Paleo friendly, gluten free, organic, dehydrated with no added sugar, naturally sweetened, soya free and additive and preservative free.  I absolutely loved the Coconut Crunch Raw Granola, it is great sprinkled on desserts as well as eaten as a breakfast cereal or snack.  The Cacao Crunch was also good, but it was the Coconut Crunch that did it for me. 

What I really liked about the nuts was the lack of artificial flavours, there were no cloying sweeteners and no nasty aftertaste.   I adored the simple Almonds roasted and salted, they were so moreish.  Of the flavoured cashew nuts it is difficult to choose between the flavours as I enjoyed them all, but probably the Mexican Spice were the ones I would choose.

Raw Coconut Granola and Cacao Crunch Raw Granola – £6.99

Almonds and Cashews – £5.89

All products are available from the flagship store in Stratford on Avon or from the online shop.

FGK rating 8/10 

Tea Vivre - quality teas from Chine

I’ve been reviewing some more Tea Vivre teas from China, this time a selection of fresh new spring teas for 2016. 

Organic Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea
Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea
Bi Luo Chun Green Tea (Pi Lo Chun)
Nonpareil Anxi Qing Xiang TieGuanYin Oolong Tea
Lapsang Souchong Wild Black Tea (Ye Sheng Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong)

When we had our one week of summer, I made some cold brewed Sun tea.  The leaves are put in a jar and it is filled with cold water, then left in the warmth of the sun for a few hours.  Once brewed the tea is chilled in the fridge, it makes a really refreshing drink on a warm day.  I used the Organic Nonpareil Ming Qian Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea and it was fragrant with no taste of bitterness.  

 Tea Vivre tea is not cheap from around £7.20 to £12.50 per 100g but it is exceptional quality  always a pleasure to drink. 

FGK Rating 9/10

Cheeky Tea

It seems to have been my month for reviewing tea and I never say no to tea, it makes the perfect summer drink it’s so refreshing!   

Cheeky Tea is a small online loose leaf tea company dreaming big aiming to provide you with a real tea experience.  They got sick of the bland, ordinary and frankly drab tea bags that seem to dominate the UK tea market. So their mission is to bring the real tea experience back to every tea drinking home in the United Kingdom and have sourced some of the best teas in the world, created their own unique blends and given you everything you need to enjoy an awesome cup of tea.

The English Breakfast Tea is absolutely gorgeous, it’s perfect for drinking any time, not just for breakfast,  you can really taste all the layers of flavour and I would highly recommend that you try it. FGK rating 10/10

Darjeeling Earl Grey has that distinctive bergmot flavour, but it’s not overpowering or artificial tasting and makes a deliciously refreshing cup of tea.  I took it into work and enjoyed it in the afternoon, taking a break and time for a little refreshment.  FGK rating 8/10

Chunmee Green Tea was my least favourite of the Cheeky Tea range.  I do enjoy green tea but found the Chunmee had a bit of a bitter aftertaste, which I don’t enjoy.  It was a superior tea to most green teas found in supermarkets (I’ve tried a few) and much better than green tea bags which I simply cannot drink.  Perhaps it was just not the green tea for me.  FGK rating 7/10

Cheeky Tea is £3.99 for 50g and can be bought online direct from Cheeky Tea 

I have a pack of each English Breakfast Tea, Darjeeling Earl Grey Tea and Chunmee Green Tea to GIVEAWAY

Follow the directions on the Rafflecopter Widget to enter the competition, which is open only to residents of the UK who are over 18 years. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chocolate Coconut Mango Mousse Ice Lollies

Dessert, Ice Cream | June 18, 2016 | By

I love to make my own ice cream and ice lollies, you know exactly what ingredients they contain and they are really good value compared to buying premium brands.  Mangoes are relatively inexpensive at the moment so I decided that some Chocolate Coconut Mango Mousse Ice Lollies would be the perfect treat to keep in the freezer for warmer days.

Chocolate Coconut Mango Mousse Ice Lollies

The Mango Mousse Ice Lollies are delicious on their own, but dip them in chocolate and toasted coconut and they become something extra special, an exotic tropical delight!  I used my Optimum ThermoCook blender to blend the mango and also to chop the toasted coconut, it’s really powerful and made the whole process even quicker and easier. Click on the link in my sidebar to find out more about the ThermoCook. 

Chocolate Coconut Mango Mousse Ice Lollies - creamy frozen mango mousse, dipped in chocolate and toasted coconut to make an exotic treat!

Chocolate Coconut Mango Mousse Ice Lollies
Serves 10
A creamy mango mousse frozen then dipped in chocolate and toasted coconut to create a tropical treat to rival any premium brand.
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Ingredients
  1. 250g mango puree (about 2 large mangoes)
  2. 2 tbsp caster sugar
  3. 150ml double (heavy) cream
  4. 150ml good quality ready made custard (or you can make your own)
  5. 70g dark chocolate
  6. 1 tbsp coconut oil
  7. 50g toasted coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Peel your mangoes and cut the flesh from the stone, puree in a blender
  2. Whip the cream and sugar until it forms stiff peaks
  3. Gently fold in the custard and mango puree into the cream until the colour is even
  4. Pour into ice lolly/popsicle moulds and freeze until solid (at least overnight)
  5. For the Chocolate Coconut lollies
  6. Take the lollies out of their moulds and place on a baking tray covered in baking parchment, put back into the freezer for 30 minutes.
  7. Toast the coconut flakes in a frying pan, be careful not to burn them, let them cool and then whizz them in a blender until you have small pieces but not a powder
  8. Put half the chocolate in a a jam jar with the coconut oil and place in a pan hot water. Stir keeping the temperature very low.
  9. Once the chocolate has melted remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate, stir until it is all melted. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool.
  10. Take one lolly out of the freezer at a time and dip into the chocolate, then quickly into the coconut.
  11. Return to the freezer, continue until all the lollies have been dipped.
Notes
  1. If you wish to serve this as a mousse i.e. not frozen, then you will need
  2. 2 tsp gelatin powder
  3. 4 tbsp water
  4. Put the gelatin in a bowl with 1 tbsp of cold water and leave to dissolve.
  5. Add another teaspoon of just boiled water to the gelatin and stir until fully liquid
  6. Add the gelatin to the mango puree and blend again
  7. Pour into glasses or small bowls and chill for at least 2 hours before serving, top with toasted coconut flakes
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/

Making Mango Mousse Ice Lollies

As this recipe is really a mousse, you get two recipes for the price of one, by putting some of the mixture to chill in the fridge to serve as a mousse and pour the rest into the lolly moulds to freeze for later.

Mango Mousse, served chilled with crispy coconut for tropical flavour

Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream Badge

Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream is BACK!  BSFIC is a Linky run by Kavey Eats which pops up in the summer to gather up all those lovely frozen treats that summer would be much less fun without. 

Disclosure: Froothie UK sent me the Optimum ThermoCook to use and review at home. I have not been paid for this post and was not required to give the ThermoCook a positive write up.  All opinions are my own.  Affiliate links included in this post.

Marmalade Marinated Chicken

Chicken | June 11, 2016 | By

It’s the time of year for al fresco eating and this Marmalade Marinated Chicken is ideal to eat outside. It’s good hot or cold and, as you don’t want to be spending time inside when the sun is shining, it is super quick and easy to make.

Last week we had the longest warm spell of weather that I can remember for a long time, we had about 10 days of sunshine with temperatures of 24-26C, which is pretty unusual in Scotland.  One of my greatest pleasures on warm days, is to eat outside on our patio.  Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner it seems to taste better when eaten outside.

I always want wholesome, home made and tasty food, but when it’s nice outside I don’t want to spend ages in the kitchen making it.  I know that the solution for most people is to have a barbecue grill and we used to have one, but I found it takes ages to get set up and get to the right temperature and my husband isn’t interested in barbecues the way some men are!  I considered a gas barbecue, however they are expensive and really with the limited number of days we could use it, it seems just as easy to prepare simple meals quickly in the kitchen and eat them outside.

Marmalade Marinated Chiciken Breasts with coleslaw and potato wedges-4016

Marinades are a really great way to get flavour into food, keeping it moist and tenderising it. Skinless chicken breasts are a good vehicle for flavours, however they can become dry quickly, especially when roasted.   A rich marinade and quick cooking ensures that it doesn’t dry out and you end up with soft juicy chicken with a sticky, sweet and savoury coating. 

 

Marmalade Marinated Chicken Breasts
A fabulous sweet and sour marinade for roasted, grilled, broiled or barbecued chicken. Delicious served hot or cold.
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Ingredients
  1. 5 tbsp marmalade
  2. Zest of half an orange
  3. Juice of 1 orange
  4. 1 tbsp soy sauce
  5. 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  6. 2 tbsp olive oil
  7. 2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce (optional)
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. A few grinds of freshly ground pepper
  10. 4-6 chicken breasts
Instructions
  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Add the chicken breasts
  3. Marinade for minimum of 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Heat the oven to 200C
  5. Place the chicken in a roasting tin and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, test with a skewer to see that the juices run clear.
  6. While the chicken is roasting, pour the marinade into a small pan and bring to the boil, simmer until it has reduced by a third.
  7. Serve the chicken sliced with some of the sauce, salad and potato wedges.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
Marmalade Marinated Chicken, a perfectly sticky marinade for grilling or baking, perfect for outdoor eating.

I served the Marmalade Marinated Chicken with a homemade coleslaw, made simply with shredded white cabbage, grated carrots and sliced red pepper, dressed with a yogurt and mayonnaise mixture.  The potato wedges are made with maris piper potatoes, tossed in Scottish rapeseed oil and sea salt and popped on a tray into the oven 10 minutes before the chicken, so both are ready at the same time.  A few salad leaves and the meal is ready to serve. 

I’m adding this to EATING AL FRESCO, the new Linky run by Munchies & Munchkins especially for outside eating. 

Chicken marinated in marmalade

Cool Rhubarb and Orange Fool

Rhubarb Fool is one of the top ways to serve rhubarb as a cold dessert.  I’ve changed things up a little by creating a Rhubarb and Orange Fool, adding the zesty flavours of orange.  It’s a super easy recipe and and the perfect make-ahead dessert for summer entertaining. 

Rhubarb and Orange Fool Dessert

Let’s face it, when the temperature is around 24C the last thing you want to eat is Rhubarb Crumble, so I’m always on the look out for cool desserts, like this Rhubarb and Orange Fool, to make with our abundant crown of rhubarb.    I whizzed up the cooked rhubarb and juices in my Optimum ThermoCook multi- function blender, I could have cooked the rhubarb in the blender too as it has a heating element, however I do love roasting  the rhubarb with orange to bring out all the flavour and the oven method keeps the pieces intact, although this is less important  for this recipe.

 

Rhubarb and Orange Fool
Serves 4
A perfect balance of sweet and sour in this fruity, creamy dessert.
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Ingredients
  1. 450g rhubarb
  2. zest and juice of a small orange
  3. 100g caster sugar
  4. 300ml double cream
  5. drop of red food colouring paste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 160C
  2. Wash the rhubarb and cut into even sized pieces and place in a single layer in a non metal ovenproof dish, add the orange juice and half the zest..
  3. Roast the rhubarb in the oven for about 10 minutes, until a knife slips easily into a piece of rhubarb, but before the rhubarb starts to disintegrate. Leave to cool.
  4. Place the remaining strands of orange zest in a small pan and just cover with water. Simmer for about 5 minutes, then add a tbsp of sugar and continue to simmer until the liquid becomes syrupy. Remove the sugared orange zest and place on baking parchment to dry.
  5. Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks.
  6. Once cold, you can either blend the rhubarb and juice until smooth, or blend the chunks of roasted rhubarb. I chose to blend in my Optimum ThermoCook.
  7. Fold the rhubarb mixture into the cream, cutting through gently with a metal spoon, add the colouring if using*.
  8. Serve chilled in individual glass bowls decorated with the sugared strips of zest.
Notes
  1. *if you have very red or pink rhubarb you may not need to colour it, however, it can go a sludgy green when cooked and looks nicer if it is a little pink.
  2. Servings depend on size of portion, will serve six if served in mini ramekins and four if served in sundae glasses.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
Here are some more ‘cool’ desserts made with rhubarb, what is your favourite cool rhubarb dessert?

Cool Rhubarb Desserts

  1. Roasted Rhubarb Ice Cream Sandwich 
  2. Easy Rhubarb Millefeuille
  3. Rhubarb!!!
  4. Rhubarb and Ginger Trifle 
  5. Rhubarb Cranachan 

Rhubarb and Orange Dessert

If you are looking for even more rhubarb recipes then why not follow my Rhubarb Pinterest Board