Monday, 27 October 2014

The Slow Cooker Cookbook, Review and Giveaway

I'm back! After a relaxing Caribbean break, I'm back to fully embrace the cold crisp nights that Autumn brings. This time of the year, gone are the salads and girls and they are replaced with hearty soups, stews, pies and casseroles. The Slow Cooker Cookbook by Gina Steer is the perfect book for me to fully embrace the months ahead and to create succulent, tender and flavour-packed dishes, in a Slow Cooker. I must admit I did not own a slow cooker prior to receiving this book to review, but promptly brought one to fully test the recipes in this book, (which I brought for a barginous £15 from B and M stores. I studied many of the recipes in this book and I was spoilt for choice in choosing a recipe to review. I decided on making the Cajun dirty rice, which is very similar to the jambalaya. However, this recipe includes the use of pork mince, instead of the chorizo of the jambalaya which when cooked in the dish the mince almost is lost visually due to the chicken taking over, but certainly comes through with each bite. There are several recipes that I will be trying out over the next couple of months, especially for my mid-week meals when I would usually be too tired to rustle up a hearty dish after work. I do have one criticism of this book,  many of the recipes are required to pre cooked before placing in the slow cooker.

This cook book is split into the following chapters:

  • Starters and Sauces - standout starters include duck pate, farmhouse terrine and spicy squash soup.
  • Fish and Seafood - recipes to try include fish and pasta bake, fish creole and scallops, prawn and saffron rice.
  • Meat - standout recipes include chill con carne, barbecued ribs and fruity pork chops. 
  • My favourite chapter Poultry, recipes to try include Cajun Dirty Rice, Mexican Chicken Drumstick and Teryaki Poussin.
  • Vegetables - recipes to try include Tuscan Bean Stew, Spicy Vegetables with Coconut Winter Vegetable Casserole and Warm Bean and Pumpkin Salad.
  • Desserts - stand out recipes include Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding, Creme Brûlée and Gingerbread.
I made the recipe for the Cajun Dirty Rice which was minimum effort but maximum flavour.
Cajun dirty rice

Cajun dirty rice cooking

Cajun dirty rice in slow cooker

Add caption

Recipe for Cajun Dirty Rice
Serves 4 to 6, Preparation Time for 15 minutes, Cooking Time: Cook on high 2 to 4 hours.

6 rashers streaky bacon chopped
350g chicken livers
225g fresh pork mince
1 onion, peeled and chopped fine
2-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 celery, trimmed and chopped fine
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
900ml chicken stock
1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning
salt and black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
1tsp paprika
225g quick long grain rice
6 spring onion, trimmed and copped, to garnish

Preheat the cooker on high while preparing the ingredients. Place the bacon in a nonstick frying pan and yea gently until the fat begins to run. Meanwhile, discard any sinew or gristle from the chicken livers and chop fine. Add the liver and pork mince to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until seared. Stir in the onion, garlic, celery and pepper and continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour in the stock with the seasonings and rick and bring to the boil, then spoon into the cooking pot. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 2 to 4 hours. Adjust seasoning and serve sprinkled with the chopped spring onions.

The lovely people at The Quarto Group are giving three lucky  readers a copy of this book, perfect for the Autumn months. Just follow the instructions on the rafflecopter.

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Monday, 6 October 2014

BBC Good Food Show , plus ticket giveaway

BBC Good Food Show Winter returns to the NEC 27-30 November 2014. This fabulous food show is quickly becoming a firm favourite in my diary, I visited the Summer show earlier this year and have previously visited the Winter show on two occasions. What I absolutely love about this winter show is there are several ideas for Christmas presents and ideas for the Christmas season. As stated before, this is by far the best food show out there so I look forward to sharing my review post. 

This year I'm visiting on press day and am looking forward to meeting the other BBC Good Food Show Bloggers. This year, the Supertheatre returns and I hope to see a demonstration by James Martin who I'm sure will be serving up culinary delights.

The Belling Live Cook Stage also returns this year with visitors being able to view the latest collection of cooking technology. I'm looking forward to seeing the bee-hive baker Stacie Stewart this year as she will be demonstrating some delicious bakes on Press Day. 

Also returning is the Saturday Kitchen Live Stage and hopefully I'll get to view the legendary omelet challenge. 

There is also a Magimix cook along and am hoping to see Marcus Bean bake some delicious cakes and bakes. 

And Finally, I'm looking forward to watching a couple of demonstrations at The Hotpoint Kitchen and take away some recipe cards. I've watched Lisa Faulkner perform a couple of demos at the Spring Show and hopefully I will get chance to see a festive recipe from her.

I am also very excited to offer three lucky readers of my blog a pair of tickets for the BBC Good Food Show Summer. For those who are not lucky to win a pair of tickets, I have an exclusive discount code: 15% off tickets from not until the show. 

To enter the giveaway, please follow the instructions on the rafflecopter bellow. 

  • Follow the instructions on the rafflecopter widget.
  • Join my blog and leave a comment (click on the left hand corner of the site and join using Google friend connector) this is an ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT.
  • For additional entries, like my Facebook page follow foodgloriousfoodx on Twitter,
  • All entries will be checked and verified 
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random
  • The competition will run from 06.10.14 - 09.11.14
  • Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted.
  • River Street Events will dispatch the pairs of ticks to three lucky winners.
  • The competition is open to UK Residence only. 
  • All tickets are general admission excluding Saturday
  • Tickets do not include entry to the Supertheare. 
  • Please feel free to share the giveaway and good luck.
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Friday, 3 October 2014

Bistro Jacques Shrewsbury

Bistro Jacques  in Shrewsbury is one of those restaurants which you will want to visit again.  Trust me, it has become a firm favourite amongst my friends and now I am truly converted. I rarely visit French restaurants, bar the occasional chain restaurants a couple of trips to Bistro Jacques has given me a longing for French food.  This is the second time I visited Bistro Jacques and I have been pleasantly pleased on both occasions. Located in the heart of Shrewsbury, this authentic French restaurant is perfect for shoppers, theatre goers or those who fancy a delicious French meal. The restaurant is  spread over two floors, is light, airy with French drawings on the wall, for me it has a cosy feel. On the two occasions I visited, I dined from the "Pre- Theatre Offer" 3 courses for £12.90. This extremely great value for money deal offers the best in seasonal cuisine and features French classics.

My most recent visit, I chose Homemade chicken liver pate, for the starter, Penne pasta and raspberry and chocolate tore. The homemade chicken liver (apologies for no photos, I ate first and realised no pictures were taken after!) was very rich, creamy, seasoned perfectly and was a hearty portion. So hearty was this starter I required two additional pieces of French bread to eat with the chicken liver. The next dish was penne pasta, tossed with chicken and green olives. This was also a large portion and the pasta and chicken was cooked to perfection. I perhaps would not have ordered this if I knew hoe many olives were in this dish, as it was not too my liking. For the final course, I chose a rich dark, raspberry chocolate torte served with whipped cream. This was one of my favourite desserts I have tried all year and it was everything a chocoholic like me adores.
Bistro Jacques

My previous time I visited I ordered Cajun fish cakes, Coq au van and Eton Mess. I do hope that the Coq au van makes a reappearance on the pre theatre menu and this was sublime. 
Bistro Jacques

A real positive of this restaurant is that the staff are very friendly, helpful and are happy to ask any questions about the dishes you are about to order. I also like the rustic charm of this restaurant. Needless to say, I will be visiting again.

Positives: Prime location in Shrewsbury, delicious food, helpful staff.
Negatives: Bring back coq au van on the pre-theatre menu

I reviewed this restaurant because I love eating out.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Lemon French Toast

The hot summer days are long gone, but they are replaced by warm Autumn days. I am finding most of the weekends in September have been warm enough to have my weekend breakfast outside, although this is with a cardigan, I must add. I was reminiscing of my mini break earlier this year to Spain and although I never ate this for my breakfast in Spain it is a dish that reminds me of my holidays and summer. I have adapted this from the original recipe found in Nigella Express, swapping the orange for a sharp lemon, and topped with tropical pineapple cooked in a warmed lemon curd. This topping was topped on a cinnamon spiced bread soaked and fried in butter. I loved this as a weekend breakfast and will make again when the weather improves or when I want to reminisce about my holiday. I'm sure you will enjoy this treaty weekend breakfast.
Here is how my Lemon French Toast turned out:
Lemon French Toast

Lemon French Toast

Egg, milk and lemon zest mixture

Bread soaking in mixture

Warmed pineapple and lemon curd.

The recipe for Lemon French Toast can found on the link here. As stated I adapted this recipe, to make the warmed lemon curd I place 3 heaped tbsp of lemon cured in a saucepan on a low heat and gently heated the ringed pineapple in the pan.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Lime and coconut traybake

I love simple tray bakes, they are almost always easy and quick to make. I tend to make classic tray bakes when I am pressed on time but I still want a cake fix. I'm a fan of classic flavour combinations such as lime and coconut. Unfortunately I did not take a picture of the coconut sprinkled on to, but not to worry you still should see how gorgeous this simple cake is, with the lime rind oozing out. This recipe is taken from the talented Jo Wheatley's Home Baking, which is one of my favourite baking books. I've never made a lime syrup before and wondered how it would take, it's very similar to a lemon syrup but with a sharper punch. This tray bake is very moreish and I will definitely will make this again.
Here is how my lime tray bake turned out:
Lime and coconut cake

Lime and coconut mixture

Lime and coconut pre bake

300g margarine or unsalted butter, softened
270g caster sugar
320g self-raising flour
5 large eggs
finely grated zest of 2 limes
50g desiccated coconut

75ml water
100g caster sugar
200g icing sugar
finely grates zest and juice of 2-4 limes
50g desiccated coconut

You will need a 20x 30 cm baking tin, greased and lined with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/gas mark 3
Tip all of the cake ingredients (except the lime) into the bowl of a free-standing mixer and beat for r2 minutes until smooth.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and spread level using a palette knife.
Bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for above 50-60 minutes or until well risen, golden and a skewer inserted int the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make a lime syrup by bringing the water and caster sugar to the boil in a sauce pan. Reduce the heat and let the syrup simmer until thickened and the back of a spoon. Add half the juice and zest and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
Remove the cake from the over and pierce the top of the cake all over with a wooden skewer. Slowly drizzle over the syrup whiles the cake is still warm and in the tin but be careful not to flood it.
Make the icing by combining 3 tbsp of the remaining icing sugar. Set aside.
Toast the desiccated coconut in a dry frying pan over a low-medium heat until the coconut turns golden - this will happen quickly, so don;t leave the pan unattended.
Remove the cake from the tin, pour over the icing top with the toasted coconut ad remaining lime. Leave to set for half an hour and then slice into squares.

I'm sharing this recipe to Love Cake, hosted by Ness from JibberJabberUK. This months theme is Back to School and I'm sure these flavour combinations will go down well with teenagers in their packed lunch box.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Trinidad chicken with festival and roti

The lovely Caribbean island of Trinidad is classed as a lesser antile island the Caribbean is an island closest to South America, just 12 miles from Venezuela.  Trinidad, culturally is one of the most diverse islands in the Caribbean with several ethnicities living in harmony including: black African, Indian and Chinese. Over 100 years ago, many individuals from India migrated to Trinidad to help with the rail network on the island and other Caribbean islands which has created a melting pot. Trinidad curry chicken, culinary is a match made in multicultural heaven traditional Caribbean recipes such as jerk chicken has equal status as curry chicken and roti in this island. Caribbean chicken curry is a fusion of migrants bringing their cuisine over to the Caribbean and it is made throughout the islands.
I love this curry, it's spicy, aromatic, flavoursome, hearty and reminds me of my childhood and holidays. I hope that you get to enjoy this recipe as much as me. There are several accompaniments which can be served with this, I chose fried festival and roti but this dish can be served with rice and naan bread.
Here is how my Trinidad chicken turned out:

Trinidad chicken curry and festival

Trinidad curry chicken

Recipe for Trinidad Chicken Curry
4 chicken legs, quartered
splash of lemon juice
2 handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables
150ml coconut
1 tbsp all purpose seasoning
scotch bonnet pepper, seeds removed
1 tbsp curry powder
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2-3tbsp oil
1 teaspoon all spice seasoning
1 large tomato
around 150ml water
stalk of thyme
Optional roti or naan

For the festival, make and cook according to packet instructions.

Wash the chicken with the lemon juice and pat dry with kitchen towel. Place the chicken in a bowl and slice the onion, garlic and add the all purpose seasoning, curry powder and all spice to the chicken, mix thoroughly. If possible, leave to marinade overnight. Heat a large pan (I use a dutchpot) and add 2-3 tbsp oil in the pan until hot, then add the chicken pieces alongside the onion and garlic, scotch bonnet pepper leave to brown on a low heat for 7 minutes each side. Once the chicken is browned, turn the fire on a low heat add the coconut milk cook for around 5 minutes then add the water. This may appear to be liquidy but trust me it will all cook down. Leave to cook for around 15 minutes and add the handful of mixed vegetables to the mix. Cook for another 10 minutes and serve with the festival and if desired, roti.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

Michael's club sandwich

I've focused many blog post on weekend breakfast, but for a change I'll focus on weekend lunch. The weekend is a time to relax and spend time lingering in the kitchen. Whilst making cakes, tart, breads and pastry this can become quite hungry work. I had my first club sandwich back in June 2014 and I was dazzled by the thick slices of bread, combined with chicken, bacon and salad which was so filling and hearty it kept me satisfied into the early evening. I promptly decided I will have to make this again and remembered that I bookmarked a recipe for this three tiered sandwich from Deliah Smith's cookery book How to Cheat at Cooking. There are many fabulous quick recipes in this book which can be whipped up in minutes. Deliah named this recipe Micheal's club sandwich after her husbands love for this sandwich. I was so pleased that I created this classic sandwich for my lunch. In fact, next time I make this I'll probably have this for my evening meal with some chunky chips with a dollop of ketchup. This sandwich is quick and easy to make and if you follow the lovely Deliah's guide on buying ready cooked chicken and bacon this will be on your plate in less than ten minutes.
Here is how my club sandwich turned out:

Recipe for Micheal's club sandwich

6 thin slices white bread, from a large good quality loaf
1 ready-cooked chicken breast
soft butter
1 generous handful watercress, spinach and rocket salad (tough stalks removed)
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced, or 4 spring onions, chopped
4 spoonfuls of mayonnaise
1 pack of ready-cooked crispy smoked bacon
1 small avocado peeled, halved, stoned and thinly sliced

You're  also going to need toothpicks. Start off by toasting the bread lightly on both sides and,  while that's happening, slice the chicken breast as thinly as possible. Then let the toast cool in a rack to keep it crisp before buttering 4 of the slices.
For the first sandwich, place one piece of toast, buttered side up, on a board and arrange a few of the salad leaves on top. Then add half the tomato slices spoon of mayonnaise over the onion, then crumble the crispy bacon and sprinkle half to it over the mayonnaise.
Now, place one of the un-buttered pieces of toast on top, followed by half the slices of chicken. Spread another dessert spoon of mayonnaise over that, followed by half the slices of avocado and a few more salad leaves. Season, then top with another buttered piece of toast.
Press the toothpicks, then press the toothpicks through the sandwich, one near each corner. Cut the sandwich into 4, using gentle sawing movements. Repeat the same process for the other sandwich.