Friday, 27 November 2015

Caribbean Christmas Black Cake

What do you eat for dessert on Christmas Day? In fact what food dish commonly features during the run up to Christmas at your kitchen table. For me, and for many individuals of Caribbean origin (whether in the Caribbean or the diaspora a la moi in the UK) during the festive period there will be eating the traditional Caribbean Christmas Black Cake on their kitchen table. Depending upon the island where your heritage (or family) there will be slight variations in the Caribbean Christmas Black Cake. In fact, every island have their own spin, Puerto Rico has a sponge cake base, Guyana uses apricot jam and St Vincent use black wine. Where my family originate from, Jamaica, Black Cake is made with the following dried fruits: prunes, sultanas, raisins and cherries. This is seen as a celebration cake, in part because of dried fruits are expensive in the Caribbean, so this was seen as a real treat, only to be eaten as special occasions (Christmas, Birthdays, Weddings and Funerals)
When comparing Caribbean Christmas Black Cake to the traditional British cake, there are noticeable differences, Black cake is laced with rum, it's strong, but lighter than the European style fruit cakes. I find it to be incredibly moreish and as a person who do not ordinarily enjoy fruit cake I love Black Cake. This is the only cake that I have eaten year in, year out every Christmas and it's a tradition which I will hope to continue if I have children of my own.
Waitrose have compiled a cracking web page of recipes from around the world celebrating  Christmas Traditions from other cultures. Take a look and sample Christmas from around the world. If you fancy a different type of Christmas cake, give this a try. Trust me, you will not regret it. My Black Cake tastes divine just as it is, but also goes well when served with ice-cream, rum custard, brandy custard (do not drive lol).

Recipe for Caribbean Christmas Black Cake
You will need a 10 inch cake tin and freestanding cake mixer. 

For the Fruit
500g mixed dried fruit
170g pitted prunes, sliced in half
200g glace cherries, sliced in half
100g mixed peel
250ml QC Sherry
100ml dark rum

For the Cake
500g butter
250g dark muscavodo sugar
100ml hot water
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp all spice
100ml black treacle
7 eggs
500g self-raising flour

Start with the fruit, this will need soaking at least 3 days prior. In a mixing bowl, add the dried fruit, prunes, cherries and mix peel and pour the QC Sherry and dark rum.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, line the cake tin. In a free standing kitchen mixer, cream the butter, dark muscavodo sugar and hot water – the hot water should loosen any clumps in the sugar. Next add the spices, followed by the treacle. Alternate adding the eggs (i.e 2 eggs, then the self-raising flour) and the flour, this is to ensure the egg mixture does not curdle. Finally add in the dried fruits, reserving the juices. Bake in the preheated oven on the top shelf for around 1 hour and 45 minutes, check whether the cake is baked by inserting a skewer in, if there is no mixture on the skewer the cake is baked.
Leave the cake to cool. Once cooled, remove the cake from the tin, the way I do this is placing a large plate on top of the cake and flipping over. Peel back the baking parchment and using a pastry brush, brush the reserved juices liberally over the tops and sides of the cake. 


Thank you Waitrose for asking me to participate. 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

A Box of Christmas Review and Christmas Giveaway #3

Another blog post celebrating my love for chocolates, in particular my love for Hotel Chocolat. Hotel Chocolat are really the go to shops for affordable luxurious chocolates and they have such a wide range of chocolates, there are something for everyone and every budget. I was kindly sent The Chocolate Gift Box, which would make a lovely Christmas present for chocoholics you may know. I also think the Chocolate Gift Box, retailing at £25, would make a wonderful stocking filler or perhaps if you are playing secret santa. In the Christmas Box there is a Caramel Snowflake, Coconut Snowballs, the Christmas Duo, Milk Dizzy Pralines and a Comet Does Caramel Slab. I desperately tried to not devour the whole lot in one go, but having sampled them all, my personal favourites are the coconut snowballs and the Caramel Slab. Have a look in your nearest store or have a look online for your pre-Christmas treat.
A Box of Christmas 

A Box of Christmas

Once again, the lovely people at Hotel Chocolat are giving one lucky reader of my blog The Christmas Gift Box. To be in with a chance follow the below instructions.
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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Byzantium Mediterranean Tapas Restaurant Review

I love eating out and enjoy trying out new restaurants, new cuisines and new flavours. And why not? If you live in or are closer to one of the larger cities you can try cuisines from all over the world. Mediterranean cuisine is not new to the British High Street, but it is difficult to find traditional, authentic Mediterranean cuisine. I'll put my hands up and say, I have visited Spanish chain restaurants, but when I have eaten at independent run restaurants, the food has always been far superior.
 I was recently invited to Byzantium Mediterranean Tapas restaurant, to celebrate the launch of their upper room (more about that later in the post). Located in the leafy Kings Heath (around 4 miles from Birmingham City Centre), the restaurant is accessible via public transport and also in good company of other trendy independent restaurants.  Following me previewing their new space for parties and larger groups, I was kindly asked to return to review their lunch menu and after a long week at work, a Mediterranean tapas feast was the great way to spend enjoying my Saturday. I visited with my friend and chose to sit near the window (if the weather was better, I would have sat outside) as I enjoy people watching.

Lunchtime Tapas
There are two lunch time menus, one which has the choice of salads, sandwiches and tapas and also a Lunchtime Specials menu, whereby you can chose 3 tapas dishes for £7.95. The lunchtime menu tapas are slightly smaller version of the regular tapas (this it to be expected as it is lunchtime). There is a wealth of food choices from the tapas menu, vegetarian? No worries, there are delightful tapas dishes such as Zalouk (aubergine dip), Spanish omelette and Stuffed Mushrooms, amongst others. As a meat and chicken lover I was spoiled for choice with tapas such as Chicken Skewers, Meatballs and Lamb Koftas. I tried a sample of chicken, meat and vegetarian tapas - well as they say variety is the spice of life. Flatbread, hummus, Meatballs, Patatas Bravas, Stuffed Mushrooms and Chicken Skewers, I was able to sample the wonderful range of Mediterranean cuisine.

First up was the flatbreads, which were perfectly baked and delightful. I loved the charcoal presentation and this was the perfect accompaniment to the hummus. The hummus was moist and a lovely hint of garlic and lemon and the ideal dipping accompaniment. I couldn't go to a Mediterranean restaurant and not sample the Patatas Bravas, crispy diced potatoes cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. There was enough in the tapas to comfortably serve 2.

I'm a sucker for Spanish meatballs, plump and rich. The other tapas dishes which I sampled, I thoroughly enjoyed too, the chicken skewers were juicy and lightly seasoned. The stuffed mushrooms were stuffed with tomatoes, red peppers and Parmesan, a wonderful contrast to the the meat dishes I chose. 

Me a Byzantium

As stated earlier in the post, I sampled some of the tapas dishes that was served in the upper room, perfect for Christmas parties. The food that I tasted was simply divine and I would certainly go back to sample their Tapas range.

Positives: I loved the home cooking /rustic feel, delightful, scrumptious and tasteful food.
Negatives: I was hard pressed on thinking of one to be honest.
Overall: A fantastic authentic Mediterranean restaurant.

I dined as a guest of Byzantium.

Byzantanium Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

My Top 5 Food Products in 2015 plus Christmas Giveaway #2

Well, 2015 has been a wonderful year on Food Glorious Food. Most excitingly, 3 of my recipes have been featured in the National Press (which I will discuss further in another post closer to Christmas). I have found my cooking niche, eaten a range of cuisines and worked with several Public Relation brands. There's often a big debate regarding bloggers working with public relations and receiving products/sponsored posts/ restaurant meals but I will share my views on this matter in full on another post. On the whole, I have had a wonderful experience working with food companies and public relation  and have been introduced to some fabulous items which have become firm favourite in my kitchen. It would be difficult to share all of my wonderful products I have reviewed, but I have managed to narrow it down to my 5 most loved products in 2015.

Hotpoint Blender
There is a new kitchen essential that all foodies should consider: Hotpoint's Steam Blender. For the busy cook, or those who are pressed on time, I consider this small kitchen appliance to be essential to make: soups, milkshakes, juices, baby food and crushing ice, in a matter of minutes, in fact, I've made a soup from start to finish in 15 minutes. 

Easy to use.
Perfect to make smoothies, juices, soups, baby food and milk shakes.
Can blend a large amount of fruit or veg.
4 different settings.
Cooks and blends.
Made by a revered brand.
Looks stylish in the kitchen.
Reasonably priced.

Stellar Tate Stackable Draining Casserole

Stellar Cookware, the revered cookware brand, also known as "The Choice of Professionals", have developed a new cookware collection called Stellar Tate. The geniuses behind this well revered brand, have developed a new set of innovative cookware which enables saucepans and casserole dishes to be easily stackable, allowing better safety and storage in your kitchen. What is impressive about this new range is that draining liquids from the saucepans or casserole dishes easier to handle, as the innovative pan lid is a handle that locks to the main pan handle, this alongside the pouring lips allows liquid to be safely poured away, using one hand for the saucepans and two hands for the casserole pans. Effectively, using this range, there will be little need for a colander to drain liquids from pans. Each saucepan and casserole dish comes with Stellar Lifetime Guarantee - is likely that the saucepans and casserole dishes will last last longer than me! 

Jubella London
Jubella offers something that I have not seen before during my time food blogging: contemporary vibrant prints in the form of Aprons and Oven gloves. Inspired by the "laid back coastal lifestyle and Africa being a place of vibrant colour and energy" their kitchen collection will brighten up any kitchen across the UK. My apron is perfect for Summer: so colourful, vibrant and bold, but would also brighten up the Winter kitchen.

Oxo Omlette Flipper
 I thought that whilst this product is entitled "omelette turner", it will be equally suitable to turn pancakes or when making quesadillias. You see the pancakes I make fill the frying pan and I often find it difficult to flip them over without causing the mixture to spray over. The flexible head and edges is perfect for sliding the underneath pancakes or omelettes. I loved using this product and promptly used this when making my Elvis Presley Pancakes which I may add turned out to perfectly shaped. The thing that impressed me most, was the length of the omelette turner which again made this product easy to use and flip. Retailing at £8, this is a gadget which will be welcome in your chicken. 

Oxo Frying Pan
This frying pan has been regular featured on my social media sites. It's so versatile and I have cooked a number of dishes in the frying pan. I love the size (24cm) 3 layer non-stick pan and most importantly is hob and oven safe ( I love finishing dishes off in the oven). You can see my review in full when you click on the link, but  many of you have shared how much you loved my pictures and would love to offer my first Christmas present on my blog of one of my most loved products this year.

All the products would make wonderful Christmas presents for the discerning foodie.

The lovely people at OXO are offering one lucky reader of Food Glorious Food the chance to win their fabulous frying pan. To be in with a chance of winning an OXO Frying Pan (perfect for cooking the sprouts, bacon & cream side dish), follow the instructions below.
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Monday, 16 November 2015

Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar Christmas Giveaway #1

It's that time of the year, Christmas is almost upon us. There really is no better time to eat chocolate almost guilty free, certainly that's a tradition which I have developed over the years. As with tradition, it really wouldn't be Christmas without the tradition of an advent calendar, children love opening their advent calendar, excitingly anticipating which chocolate treat will they get today. 
But why let the children have all the fun. There are now a range of advent calendars specially for us grown ups and leading the way are my favourite chocolatiers, Hotel Chocolat. I love how luxurious their chocolats are and having sampled their advent calendar, I am pleased to be able to offer one lucky reader the chance to win their The Advent Calendar Truffles for Two - how decadent. You and a loved one could enjoy a range of divine chocolates such as Pecan Gingerbread, Salted Caramel Cream, Mulled Wine, Pecan Gingerbread, Cinnamon Praline and others. Worth £26, this is a great way to start the Christmas season. There is also a fabulous range of chocolates on the Hotel Chocolat website, from stocking fillers to gourmet hampers, there's something for everyone and certainly worth checking out. 

To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize, follow the instructions below.
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  • Leave a comment on my blog (This is an Essential Requirement)
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  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will run from 16.11.15 - 27.11.15
  • Winners will need to respond within 7 days. 
  • The competition is open to UK residents only.

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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Bordeaux Wines - Review

After a long day at work, particularly towards the end of the week, I enjoy a nice glass of wine. I never have been one to go overboard with my consumption of wine, I know many people would not be able to relate to that, but I love to savour each sip. My wine habits have changed since my teenage years and rightly so, with maturity, knowledge and understanding I have a greater appreciation of wine. Some moons ago (my teenage years), I drank Lambrini - I'm not sure whether that's even considered to be wine and in my early 20's I was a Rose girl and that was from the heat of the Summer, to the cold winter, I loved Rose. With the completion of my Masters degree and my first professional role, I upgraded to Processeco in the Summer. But something weird happened mid-20's, I developed a taste for full bodied red wine. I still love white wine and do have this occasionally, but I love red wine. I'll be honest, I'm not a wine expert and I tend to have my favourite regions i.e France, Spain and Italy. Not yet sold on wines from the "New World". Anyway, back to what intended to write about Bordeaux wines. The lovely people at Bordeaux Wines kindly sent me a couple of their best selling wines to sample, which I happily reviewed.
The Chateau Fonguillon is considered to be a classic, it is a smooth and rich full bodied red wine with a lovely lingering taste of summer berries (more blackberry/blueberries than strawberries) . I loved this wine, it was opulent and velvety and currently retailing at £8 per bottle, this is something you must try.

I paired the Chateau Fonguillon with an equally delightful meal: Citrus Duck legs. Due to tender, rich and succulent citrus duck legs, this paired beautifully with the wine. I think this wine would also pair beautifully with other dark meats (beef, lamb and game), due to the rich complexity of the wine. 

The Chateau Mont-Perat 2012 is a delightful dry white wine.  With each sip, there is a long lingering crisp and fruity taste. I paired the Chateau Mont-Perat with a salted mackerel pilaff dish, the tone of the crisp white wine worked wonderfully with the salted mackerel. I also think the wine would work well with cheese and biscuits, perfect for the Christmas season. 

Many thanks to Bordeaux Wines.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Colour Blocking in Autumn

This is my first fashion post here on Food Glorious Food. It's something I've been thinking of introducing fashion blog posts on my blog for some time. I mean, I love fashion, I love clothes. I have three wardrobes and a suitcase full of clothes, alongside boxes and boxes of shoes and a dangerous amount of fashion jewellery and accessories. I often share some photos of me in new outfits on my social media sites so thought to myself why not dedicate at least one blog post a month sharing a fashion trend or fashion item. I also want to show fashionable pieces of an "average" sized women in the UK, and hope you, the loyal readers of Food Glorious Food welcome this. I denote *average* in asterisks as the UK average dress size is now a size 16, however if you love fashion and are that size or larger, the mainstream fashion images are of women who are considerable smaller. I've straddled between a size 14- 16 for over 10 years now. The smallest I've ever been is a size 12 when I was 9 years old....... I'm proud of my curves and hoping you are inspired by my taking on fashion trends.

Colour Blocking has been on trend for some time now and I can see why, clashing and daring colour combination not only make you stand out from the crowd but also can cheer you and others up in the colder months. I have a kind of rule of thumb for colour blocking, wear separates with one block colour on top and bottom (instead of a colour block two tone top/skirt) or one colour block and a printed colour. I also prefer to wear jersey fabric textures, they fit perfectly on curves and if you are between sizes jersey and elasticated items fit better.

The plain red top is from Warehouse, I've linked to a very similar top.  I'm wearing a size 14 which sits comfortably. The skirt is from River Island, unfortunately, my skirt has sold but I've linked a very similar and gorgeous skirt. I'm wearing a size 14, which, as with the top sits comfortably on me. My tough Biker Boots are from Dune which I purchased at Debenhams

Although the top and skirt were uncomplicated, I had to add a bit off oomph and prints with this gorgeous leopard print coat (from Topshop) and head dress from boohoo.

At night time, I still like to use the colour booking theme, but often will wear of a clashing floral print.

My handy tips when wearing the Colour Block trend.
  • Be brave, this is a great way to brighten up your outfit.
  • Colour blocking can be dressed up or down depending upon the occasion. If you want to dress up your outfit, wear with heels or shoe boots for a glamorous evening look or dressed down with biker boots/ converse for a day time look.
  • If are self-conscious about your top half/or bottom half of your body, wear the darker (bright) colour on the area which you are not confident with.
  • Key undergarments are the key if wearing a figure hugging colour blocking outfit - in my pictures I wear spanks for my thighs and stomach. 
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