Farmersgirl Kitchen

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

Summer Slow Cooked Challenge

Summer has arrived in Scotland at last, we’ve been eating outside on the patio and soaking up the warmth of the sun.  It’s also  time to launch the Summer Slow Cooked Challenge, I have to admit that my slow cooker has been gathering dust, as we have been feasting on salads and barbeque roasted chicken this weekend.  Before I reveal what is planned for the Slow Cooked Challenge, here are a few photographs from around the farm:

Scottish wildflowers

Cuckoo flower or ladies mantle with buttercups in the background

Cow Parsley

Cow Parsley in the early evening light.

blackbird in the holly bush

The holly bush attracts blackbirds every year.

House sparrow on the tractor

We seem to have a lot of house sparrows this year, this one found a perch on the tractor.  If you’ve enjoyed seeing my nature photographs then you can see more by following me on Instagram @farmersgirlcook where I post a daily flower of the day and lots more photos from around the countryside where I live. 

Okay, back to the Summer Slow Cooked Challenge, we may have had a few days of warm sunshine, however our British summers are unpredictable and your slow cooker can be a great asset in the summer.  If you are going out for the day, you can load it up and leave it safely all day, knowing that your meal will be waiting for you when you come home.  It’s also really good for making some preserves and making recipes with gluts from the garden to store in the freezer.  Just to give you an idea of the sorts of summer recipes you can make in your slow cooker, I’ve gathered a few from previous round ups.  For more inspiration please check out the round up posts on the Slow Cooked Challenge page.

Slow Cooked Challenge summer recipes

From the top (l-r) all links are to Slow Cooked Challenge Round Up pages

Slow Cooker Carrot, Lemon and Almond Chutney from Strong as Soup

Slow Cooker Provencal Style Chicken with rice from Tales from the Kitchen Shed

Slow Cooker Orange, Pistachio and Honey from Baking Queen 74

Slow Cooker Peach Jam from Tales from the Kitchen Shed

Cannelini Bean Dip from Searching for Spice

Slow Cooked Italian Chicken from Fab Food 4 All

Slow Cooker Lamb Ras El Hanout from Farmersgirl Kitchen 

Slow Cooker Chipotle Chilli Beans from Tales from the Kitchen Shed

Blackberry Pulled Pork with Blackberry BBQ Sauce from De Tout Coeur Limousin 

Lucy – Baking Queen 74 and I are going to take a bit of a break from the Slow Cooked Challenge over the summer, so I’m setting up the Linky and leaving it open until the 28th August, there is no theme, simply add your slow cooked recipes to the linky as usual.  There will be full round up posted at the end of August. 

Slow Cooked Challenge 1015 copy

If you would like to take part in the Summer Slow Cooked Challenge, then please:

  • Make your recipe in your Slow Cooker or other slow cooking method and post a photograph and the recipe, or a link to a recipe, on your blog
  • Link to Farmersgirl Kitchen and Baking Queen 74
  • Use the Slow Cooked Challenge logo in your post
  • If you use twitter, tweet your post with @FarmersgirlCook @BakingQueen74 and use #SlowCookedChallenge and we  will re-tweet it to our followers AND post your picture on the dedicated Pinterest Board. 
  • A round up of all the entries will be posted on the host’s blog.

Rules:

  • Please do not publish recipes from cookbooks on your blog without permission, they are copyright.
  • If you are using recipes from another website, please link to the recipe on the website rather than publishing the recipe.
  • One entry per blog.
  • Recipes must be added to the linky by the 28th of AUGUST 2016 and a round up will be posted on the host blog.
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The Slow Cooked Challenge May Round Up

I took a bit of a gamble with the Slow Cooked Challenge May, choosing ‘Rice & Grains’ as the theme.  It was either  the start of the warmer weather or the theme itself which kept the usual suspects away from their slow cookers, so I was more than delighted with the two outstanding entries that popped up in the Linky.

Mars-Bar-Slow-Cooker-Rice-Puddings-7

Sarah at Maison Cupcake has created the most amazing dessert, it’s rice pudding but not as you know it! Let’s just say, Mars Bars and Mars Milk Protein Drink are involved – oh my goodness you need to go and visit Maison Cupcake and see this MARS BAR SLOW COOKER RICE PUDDING.

Slow Cooker Pearl Barley Risotto

The other entry for the Slow Cooked Challenge May is also a real cracker.  Lucy of Baking Queen 74 and my co-host, has come up with a beautiful SLOW COOKER SPINACH & HALLOUMI PEARL BARLEY RISOTTO, those more robust grains are really good in the slow cooker, they swell up and soak up their cooking liquid, but retain a good texture.

You can also see my recipe Slow Cooked Risotto which was made using arborio rice.

 

Slow Cooked Challenge 1015 copy

For more information and links to all the round ups with links to all the reicpes, visit the Slow Cooked Challenge page at Farmersgirl Kitchen.   The new challenge will be posted on 1st June and will be open for 3 months with a mega-round up at the end of August. 

Scottish Rhubarb Cranachan

Dessert, Fruit | May 25, 2016 | By

Cranachan is one of the best known Scottish desserts and is usually made with Scottish raspberries. However, as my garden rhubarb is lush and abundant, it seemed a shame to buy raspberries when I could roast some stalks of rhubarb with sugar and use those instead, to make the perfect spring dessert,  Scottish Rhubarb Cranachan.

Scottish Rhubarb Cranachan

I was watching Countryfile on TV  the other night and there was an article about a rhubarb farm in the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle, the reason they gave for the rhubarb growing so well in that area was that it was cold and wet.  That sounds familiar and our rhubarb certainly grows away by itself without much attention and produces many stalks of rhubarb throughout the summer, apologies for my dodgy lawn, the wet and cold is not such a good combination for growing grass and seems to produce more moss than grass!

Garden Rhubarb

Scottish Rhubarb Cranachan
Serves 4
A rhubarb version of the traditional Scottish oat and whisky dessert.
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Ingredients
  1. 3 large stalks of rhubarb
  2. 30g caster sugar
  3. 100g pinhead or medium oatmeal
  4. 50g hazelnuts, toasted
  5. 60g light soft brown sugar
  6. 200ml double cream
  7. 100ml creme fraiche
  8. 25 ml malt whisky or a whisky liqueur
Instructions
  1. Clean the rhubarb and cut into 3cm lengths, place in a single layer in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with caster sugar. Roast for about 8-10 minutes at 180C. The rhubarb pieces should be whole but if you pierce with a knife, it should be soft all the way through. Leave the rhubarb to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the oats on a tray under the grill (broiler), watch them carefully so they don't burn, move them around a little so that they toast evenly.
  3. Toast the hazelnuts in the same way or in a dry frying pan which can be easier to manage, let them cool and rub off the skins.
  4. Put the oats, hazelnuts and sugar into a blender and whizz them up, make sure you don't grind them to a powder you want a little bit of texture, you are looking for the texture of rough breadcrumbs.
  5. Whip the double cream and mix with the creme fraiche.
  6. Spoon into individual glasses starting with the oat mixture, the cream, rhubarb and then repeat the layers, finishing with a few of the best pieces of rhubarb and a little spoonful of oat mixture.
Notes
  1. You can eat it straight away, but it does improve if you leave it for up to 24 hours, as the oats soak up the moisture from the fruit and cream and soften.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
Rhubarb Cranachan dessert

There are many recipes for cranachan and many delicious  cold desserts using rhubarb, here are a few from some of the UK’s top bloggers: 

Iced Cranachan – Farmersgirl Kitchen 

Cranachan – Tinned Tomatoes

Mini Chocolate Rhubarb Pavlovas – Tin & Thyme

Rhubarb and Ginger Pavlovas – Foodie Quine

Rhubarb and Ginger Trifles – Farmersgirl Kitchen 

On my Spring Kitchen Table

Newton's Just Apple Fizzics

Hello dear readers, well here we are finally in late Spring/early Summer and we’ve even had some half decent weather in Scotland, as well as a freakish flurry of snow!  I’ve been gathering up some foodie goodies on my kitchen table and weighing up their pros and cons to share with you my views and reviews. 

As the weather gets warmer we start to consume more soft drinks. I am not a fan of traditional fizzy pop, but as we don’t drink much alcohol now, we do enjoy good quality soft drinks.  

Newton’s appl fizzics is a golden amber apple juice blended with lightly sparkling water, it’s completely natural and contains approximately 40% less sugar than apple juice on it’s own. What’s more it contains no E numbers, hence no ‘e’ in the appl of apple fizzics.

The Verdict: I enjoyed the appl fizzics, served chilled it’s a pleasant drink but I couldn’t help thinking you could get a similar effect by diluting organic apple juice with sparkling water and it would be less expensive.  

Available in 330ml bottles with RRP £1.29 and 750 ml with RRP of £2.29 from Amazon, Harrods and independent grocers, farm shops and deli’s. 

Farmersgirl Kitchen Table rating: 7/10

Chocolate Biscuit review

A well stocked biscuit tin is a must in our house and we are quite choosy about the biscuits we eat. So how did the Bahlsen Choco Leibniz and Pick Up measure up to the Farmersgirl Kitchen Table challenge?

Choco Leibniz are a semi sweet butter biscuit covered in a thick layer of chocolate. They come in dark, milk and white chocolate and new flavours, orange and choco-caramel.

Pick Up is a sandwich biscuit with two crisp biscuits and a delicious filling. Most of the biscuits have a thick chocolate filling except for the Black & White which has a white cream filling a bit like an Oreo only rectangular!

The Verdict: I surprised myself as I thought I’d prefer the Choco Caramel flavour Leibniz, it was nice enough but I was a little disappointed as there wasn’t a big hit of caramel. I think I would have preferred a caramel flavoured chocolate rather than a thin layer of caramel between the milk chocolate and the biscuit.  My favourite turned out to be the milk chocolate which was totally delicious.  I really loved the Pick Up, they were really satisfying with a big hit of chocolate and different from our usual wafer style biscuits.  I would definitely buy them again. 

Farmersgirl Kitchen Table rating: Choco Leibniz 8/10, Pick Up 9/10

Available from all major supermarkets.    Price: Choco Leibniz – £1.00 – £1.49; Pick Up: £1.29 for 4 x 28g

Go Ahead slices

While we are on the subject of snacks, let me tell you a little about the Go Ahead range of  carefully portioned calorie counted snack bars.   Go Ahead healthy snacks have been around for some time however they have some new options to tempt you. 

New crunchy cookies bites with chocolate chips and bursts of fruity flavour. Each pack contains six small bags of cookies.  There are two flavour options: White Chocolate & Raspberry (99 kcal per bag)  or Cheeky Chocolate & Orange (98 kcal per bag).

Cherry Bakewell Pud Bakes

The other new flavour is the Go Ahead Cherry Bakewell Pud Bakes (141 kcal per bar), a soft baked cookie bar  with a jammy cherry fruit filling. 

The Verdict: These cookies and bars are tasty enough, although I could taste artificial sweeteners which I don’t particularly enjoy.  I think it’s important to consider how these snacks  compare in terms of calories to other cookies and bars, so I’ve listed a few below and will let you make up your own mind.

Go Ahead Cherry Bakewell Pud Bake (141 kcal)

Pick Up Black & White (146 kcal)

Choco Leibniz (141 kcal)

KitKat two finger (107 kcal)

Go Ahead Cookie Bites (99 kcal)

The Verdict:  The Go Ahead range are leaders in the field of sweet calorie counted, carefully portioned snacks.  I have to say that the little packs of cookies and the bars are handy to pop into your bag to stave off hunger,however if you are looking for a really healthy snack, you would be better off eating fruit or some carrot sticks.  I’m not sure what it was, but I found these bars were not particularly satisfying, so I’ll be sticking to my usual snacks and treats.

Farmersgirl Kitchen Table Rating: Cookie Bites 7/10, Cherry Bakewell Pud Bakes  6/10  both retail at between  £2.00 – £1.00 per box of 5

Available from all major supermarkets and many other retailers.

Carnivore Club

Although I cook and enjoy vegetarian and vegan recipes, I am also a meat eater and this box of  Great Glen Charcuterie from The Carnivore Club was a real treat.

The Carnivore Club is the world’s first curated cured meat of the month subscription service. Their  UK operation sources only meats made by UK-based artisans, utilizing ingredients and animals from local farms.

I sampled the April box featuring the work of Great Glen Charcuterie, a highly talented artisan company that uses wild Scottish venison in all of their recipes to create amazing Scottish food of premium quality.

The Verdict: It was fun to receive a pack of charcuterie through the post, it comes in a sturdy wood-look box.  The charcuterie was of outstanding quality, the chorizo was quite unlike any that I have bought previously, really meaty with very little grisly fat as you sometimes find in pork chorizo. You get a nice long use by date on the packs so you can enjoy them over a longer period.  

The Carnivore Club subscription is £32 for a one off trial box or £29 per month for monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, a subscription would make a very handsome gift to a charcuterie lover. 

Farmersgirl Kitchen Table Rating: Subscription Club 9/10, Venison charcuterie 10/10

Using the Carnivore Club Charcuterie

Above are some of the ways I used the charcuterie, on a pizza, in a quick chickpea stew and in a slow cooked lamb shank casserole. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these different products, I was not paid for these reviews and all views expressed are my own. 

Chocolate, Oat and Banana Nut Muffins

It’s been a while since I made a batch of muffins, I had a bit of a phase of making muffins and then stopped. After tasting these Chocolate, Oat and Banana Nut Muffins  it’s clear that it is time to start making more!  

Chocolate, Oat and Banana Nut Muffins

It was the classic tale of squidgy, blackening bananas left in the fruit bowl along with oats being chosen as they feature as the theme for the We Should Cocoa Linky this month.  There are a lot of ingredients in the recipe but it couldn’t be simpler, I even baked in the evening of a work day which happens very rarely nowadays.  

Chocolate, Oat and Banana Nut Muffins
Yields 12
A soft oat and banana muffin with chunks of chocolate and a crunchy coconut and nut topping.
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Ingredients
  1. 130g plain flour
  2. 1 tbsp coconut flour (or cornflour if you don't have coconut flour)
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  5. 40g old fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  6. 150g soft brown sugar
  7. 1/4 tsp salt
  8. 100 g coconut oil
  9. 1 large egg
  10. 4 tbsp natural yogurt
  11. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  12. 2 ripe bananas
  13. 60g pecan, walnut or hazelnuts (or a mixture) roughly chopped
  14. 50g dark chocolate, chopped
  15. 40g coconut flakes, unsweetened
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave (about 30 seconds) or in a bowl over a pan of water, it won't take long. Leave the coconut oil until just warm to the touch.
  3. Line one muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
  4. Sieve the flour, coconut flour (or cornflour), baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large baking bowl. Add the rolled oats and sugar and stir to mix.
  5. Mash two of the bananas in a bowl and dice the other
  6. In a smaller bowl mash two of the bananas, mix in the eggs, yogurt and vanilla extract.
  7. Mix the coconut oil into the dry ingredients until well combined, then gently add the banana and egg mixture and stir.
  8. With a metal spoon gently fold in the diced banana, 40g of nuts and 40g of the chocolate.
  9. Divide the mixture between the 12 paper cases and sprinkle the tops with a mixture of the remaining, chocolate, nuts and the coconut chips.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  11. Leave the muffins in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to a cooling tray. Cool completely before eating...if you can wait!
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
Muffin making

Have you heard of Fika?  It’s a Swedish tradition of breaking for coffee and cake but it’s more than that, as described in Fika: the art of the Swedish Coffee Break, Functioning as both a verb and a noun, the concept of fika is simple. It is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it. You can do it alone, you can do it with friends. You can do it at home, in a park or at work. But the essential thing is that you do it, that you make time to take a break: that’s what fika is all about.”  

My friend and work colleague, decided that we would start Fika Friday when we would make sure we had a break and would take it in turns to bring in the cake or pastries.  The Chocolate, Oat, Banana Nut Muffins were the first treat for Fika Friday.  Why not start your own Fika tradition?  It’s a great way to catch up and a great excuse to bake some treats. 

Chocolate, Oat and Banana Nut Muffins

I’m entering the Chocolate Oat and Banana Nut Muffins for the following Linky Parties:

We Should Cocoa run by Choclette at Tin and Thyme

Treat Petite run by Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer whose theme this month is Picnic Treats.

Bake of the Week, the weekly Baking challenge over at Casa Costello.

Linky parties

Here are a couple of alternative Banana Muffin Recipes from top UK bloggers: 

Banochocolate Chip Muffins from Fab Food 4 All

Banana and Mincemeat Buns from Tin & Thyme

Sweet Potato Chips: Optimum P200 Dehydrator Review

I have a new toy to play with in the kitchen, it’s a dehydrator made by those clever Froothie people. In this post I’m going to give you a ‘warts and all’ review of the Optimum P200 Dehydrator and recipes to make Sweet Potato Chips and healthy Chocolate Chia Bars.

Make your own Sweet Potato Chips with the Optimum P200 Dehydrator

WHY USE A DEHYDRATOR?

Dehydrating is a method of preserving food which draws out the moisture and, when stored in air tight containers the dehydrated food stuffs will keep without spoiling for a long time.  Different food stuffs will keep longer than others and like all dried food, think dried herbs, they will lose their flavour eventually.  

Dehydrating is a healthy option, you don’t need any salt or other preservatives as the dehydration process concentrates the flavours. Dehydrated food is considered ‘raw food’, as it is preserved at low temperatures and does not lose the nutrients that some other methods of preserving require. Dehydration results in only 3-5% loss in nutrients compared to freezing which results in a 40-60% decrease.  It’s also a great way to preserve gluts of fruit and vegetables from your garden or the local markets. 

Optimum P200 Dehydrator

The Optimum P200 Dehydrator has the following features: 

Available in 2 sizes : 6 trays or 10 Trays

Equipped with a 40-hour digital timer

Adjustable thermostat

3-or 5-year domestic and 12-month commercial warranty

Easy-to-clean non-stick and mesh sheets

Unique custom-made cleaning brush

Access to expert support team

30-day money back guarantee – Includes return postage!

Pros:

  • The Optimum P200 Dehydrator is really easy to use, you just load up the trays, leaving space around each piece of food, set the temperature and time and leave it to do it’s stuff.
  • You can open the drawers to check how things are going with no ill effects.
  • It worked first time and, although the booklet that comes with it is a bit limited in information, the internet is full of dehydrator recipes and tips, I’ve collected some on a Dehydrator Recipes Pinterest Board, please feel free to follow.
  • You can use the Optimum Dehydrator to make yogurt and also to prove bread!

Cons: 

  • This is a big piece of kit.  I have a large kitchen and plenty of shelf space but still found it tended to dominate the space.  If you don’t have a lot of space, you will need to find somewhere to store it when not in use. P200 Food Dehydrator 6 Tray Dimensions: L 38.5 cm x H 31cm x D 49 cm. Tray Dimensions: L 34.5cm x H 4.5cm x D 37cm
  • Drying times are generally quite long e.g. 10 hours or more.  I found I needed to leave the dehydrator on overnight and the fan does make a bit of a noise.
  • As the drying times are long, I was concerned about the cost of running the dehydrator for all this time.  I have been told that it costs about 5p per hour to run, so I would recommend always running the machine full and thinking carefully about the value of the end product before dehydrating e.g. a full dehydrator of Sweet Potato Chips running for 10 hours would cost 50p plus the cost of the sweet potato, you can control the flavourings yourself but I’m not sure that a cost of 80p-90p is worth it. 

How to make Sweet Potato Chips in the Optimum P200 Dehydrator

The Verdict

The jury is still out on the Optimum P200 Dehydrator.  The results were good, however I am still weighing up whether I will use such a big piece of equipment often enough to make it worthwhile and whether the process is value for money.  I’m going to keep at it and will update you as spring moves into summer.  I think that drying summer fruits will be an interesting challenge, I love the idea of making dried rapsberries and strawberries to add to bakes. I’m also keen to try making my own vegetable bouillon powder using pulverised dried vegetables.

Sweet Potato Chips
Enjoy these delicious crisp Sweet Potato Chips as a snack or to accompany a sandwich.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
10 hr 5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
10 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 large sweet potato, peeled
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Slice the sweet potato into thin uniform slices (these are best cut with a mandolin to get the thinnest and most even slices)
  2. Combine the oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and add the slices.
  3. Mix well so all the slices are coated.
  4. Lay out the slices on the dehydrator trays.
  5. Set the temperature to 60C and set the timer for 10 hours, or until crisp to the touch.
Notes
  1. You can open the drawers of the Optimum P200 Dehydrator to check on the crispness of the slices.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
Chocolate Chia Optimum P200 Dehydrator Bars

For my second review recipe in the Optimum P200 Dehydrator, I decided to try something a little different: Chocolate Chia Bars.  These naturally sweet energy bars have a lovely crunch from the chia seeds and were very easy to make although they do take a long time to dehydrate. 

Making Chocolate Chia Seed Bars in the Optimum P200 Dehydrator

Chocolate Chia Seed Dehydrator Bars
Yields 18
Healthy, chewy and crunchy energy bars made in the Optimum P200 Dehydrator.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
17 hr
Total Time
18 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
17 hr
Total Time
18 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup chia seeds
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 1/4 cup cacao powder
  4. 8 dates, chopped
  5. 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
  6. 1 cup walnuts chopped
  7. 3 tbsp agave syrup
Instructions
  1. Soak the chia seeds in 3/4 cup of water for 30 minutes
  2. Blend all the remaining ingredients in a high powered blender, adding the remaining water gradually to create a paste.
  3. Mix together the soaked chia seeds and the mixture from the blender then leave for 20 minutes to rest.
  4. Spread the mixture on a non-stick sheet to a depth of about 1/2cm and place into the dehydrator
  5. Dehydrate for 1 hours at 60C, then mark into bars.
  6. Lower the temperature to 45C and dehydrate for another 8 hours.
  7. When you remove them this time, flip them onto the dehydrator tray removing the silicon sheet. They will be firm enough to hold together at this stage.
  8. Dehydrate at 45C for a further 8 hours.
Farmersgirl Kitchen http://farmersgirlkitchen.co.uk/
Make Sweet Potato chips in dehydrator

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.