Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Vanilla Table and Great British Cooking, Review & Giveaway.

I've had couple of cook books sent to me in the last couple of months and I've been meaning to get round to posting this review post, but for one reason or another I have not got round to doing this until now. Vanilla Table: The essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs by Natasha MacAller and Great British Cooking by Carolyn Caldicott are two cookery books that I have been sent to review by the lovely people at Jacqui Small Publishing and Frances Lincoln Publishing.

First up to review is Vanilla Table: The essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs by Natasha MacAller. This cookery book is a beautiful collection of Vanilla recipes from around the world, inspired by world renowned chefs and enlightens the reader the diversity that vanilla has to offer. Many of us, in particular me, use vanilla when baking, but this wonderful ingredient can be in-cooperated in so much more than a cake as Vanilla Table demonstrates. I found this cookery book, insightful and educating, alongside inspiring particularly to the more experienced cook. The photographs are also beautiful and mouthwatering.
Vanilla Table is divided into a number of chapters, firstly starting with a comprehensive view on the history of Vanilla.

  • Starter Plates - recipes to try include Smoked Trout Johnnycake Stacks, Caramelised Garlic and Ricotta Custard and Fennel Flan with Orange Gele.
  •  Main Plates - Stand out recipes include Lobster, Pineapple Marinated Fish and New Zealand Cassoulet.
  • Blue Plates and Brunch Plates -Mouthwatering recipes to try include Monte Cristo Tropicana, Crunchy Cornflake Chicken and Roasted Stone Fruit.
  • Sharing Plates - Stand out recipes include The Tonga Trifle, Rum and Vanilla Cured Salmon and Saturn Peach, Onion and Blue Cheese.
  • Dessert Plates - Recipes to try include Mayan Chocolate Mouse, Creamy Butterscotch Pudding with Tash's English Toffee and The Anna Pavlova.
  • Cake Plates - Perhaps my favourite chapter, stand out recipes include Vanilla, Vanilla, Vanilla!, Two-Tone Chocolate Malt Cake and Bittersweet Chocolate Torte.
  • The Cookie Plate - Mouthwatering recipes to try include Chocoalte Sticky Bits, Espresso Brownie Bits and Ginger Fruit Squares.
  • Bevvies & Bar Snacks - recipes to try include Toasty Coconut Chips and Nuts, Vanilla Passion Martini and Spiced Lime Smoothie. 
Spiced Lime Smoothie.

Overall a wonderful book to have on your cookery shelf: get lost in the world of vanilla.

Great British Cooking by Carolyn Caldicott explores British cooking, with some traditional recipes being given a modern twist. This is the third book that I have from Carolyn Caldicott after Bombay Lunchbox and Comfort and I must say this is probably my least favourite. Great British Cooking is not a bad recipe book, but because I am comparing this to her previous works where, in my opinion, the food was more exotic, adventurous, colourful and vibrant. Perhaps I am a British food snob or overlook traditional British foods, but only a handful of foods popped out to me such as Game Pie, Roast Lamb and Apricot Stuffing and Gingery Treacle Tart. There are recipes which I do not think need a recipe and I would presume everyone would know how to make, such as a Bacon Butty and a Full English.
On a more positive note, there is a thorough Introduction and history of English Cooking which helped to set the tone of how we have loved the recipes that we eat on a regular basis. The photographs are beautiful and the recipes appear easy to make. The chapters are split into the following:

  • The Full English, recipes of interest include Cornish Potato Cakes, Marmalade and Coddled Eggs.
  • The Pub Lunch, stand out recipes include Game Pie, Bedfordshire Clanger and Oysters and Stout.
  • The Sunday Roast, The Roast Lamb, Apricot Stuffing and Mint Sauce was the stand out recipe for me.
  • The Nations Favourites, mouthwatering recipes include Oyster and Mushroom Stew, Chicken and Mushroom Pie and Fish and Chips.
  • The Queen of Pudding, recipes I would try include Gingery Treacle Tart, Queen of Pudding and Lemony Syllabub.
Lamb with apricot stuffing pre bake. 

Overall, I think this cookery book would appeal to the beginner cook or for those who adore British cooking.

The lovely people at Jacqui Small Publishing and Frances Lincoln are offering 1 copy of each book to giveaway. To be in with a chance to win a copy of these books follow the instructions below:

  • Follow the instructions on the rafflecopter.
  • Leave a comment on the blog (THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT)
  • For additional entries join the blog (using Google Friend Connector), follow me on Instragram, follow me on Twitter, follow me on Facebook, add me on Google Circles and tweet about the giveaway.
  • All entries will be checked and verified.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random. 
  • The competition will run from 22.04.15 - 22.05.15
  • Winners will need to respond within 7 working days.
  • Jacqui Small Publishing and Frances Lincoln will post the cookery books.
  • This competition is open to UK residents only.

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Saturday, 18 April 2015

Green Banana and Bacon Fritters

This really is a marriage of two cultures, two cuisines and two essential breakfast ingredients eaten in two different parts of the world: Jamaica and England. Green Bananas are widely used throughout the Caribbean and if you are unsure what a green banana is, it is not an unripe bananas that you find in many supermarkets. Green bananas flesh is firm and they can not be eaten uncooked, once they are cooked, the taste is starchy and in my opinion resembles the taste of potatoes. Green bananas are often an accompaniment to the national dish Ackee and Saltfish and no Full English would be complete without rashes of bacon. In my Green Banana and Bacon fritters, I combine two breakfast ingredient staples, to make my perfect brunch. The green banana, when grated and combined with the rest of the ingredients, gives a starchyand distinctive yet delectable taste. These fritters are really a flavour and cultural culinary explosion with each mouthful.

Green Banana and Bacon Fritters. 

Green Banana and Bacon Fritters.

Green Banana and Bacon Fritters.


Ingredients stirred. 
Green Banana and Bacon mixture.

Green Banana and Bacon cooking.

Ingredients – Makes between 5-6 fritters.

2 green bananas peeled and finely grated.
2 rashers of back bacon grilled and sliced into bite size pieces.
150 grams of self-raising flour.
1 spring onion, outer skin removed and sliced.
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced.
¼ yellow scotch bonnet pepper, seeds removed.
1 egg.
150ml water.
6tbsp vegetable oil for frying.

 In a large mixing bowl, add the grated green bananas, bacon pieces, self-raising flour, spring onions, garlic clove and scotch bonnet pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon so the mixture is combined.
 Add one egg to the mixture ensuring the mixture is coated with the egg.
Add the vegetable oil in a frying pan, on a medium heat.
 Add the water to the fritters mixture, the mixture should have a “drop consistency”, the fritters mixture should easily fall of a spoon. 
 Ladle a medium sized serving spoon size of the fritters batter to the hot frying pan, cook for around 4-5 minutes on each side, until each side is golden brown.
Serve with sweet chilli sauce and enjoy.

I'm sharing my Green Banana and Bacon Fritters to a couple of blog challenges. First up is the fabulous CookBlogShare  a weekly challenge hosted by Supergolden bakes. 

I am sharing my fritters to Simple and in Season, by Ren from and guest hosted by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours. Luckily, bacon and green bananas (as long as you go to ethnic food shops) are in season all year round and my fritters are simple to make.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Botanist, Birmingham Review.

I never heard of The Botanist restaurant before, although I have, of course, heard of Botanical gardens so after doing some research I had some idea of what to expect when the lovely people at The Botanist invited me to their media lunch. Located at the trendy part of the city (14-16 Temple Street) and with opening times from 12 noon - 12am (2 am over the weekend), this is one of the must visit restaurants in the second city.  The Botanist's motto is "concept like no other, offering soon to be world-famous selection of botanical cocktails, craft beers and ales, champagne and wine. Food inspired by the deli, rotisserie and BBQ. With live music every night, sublime social times are guaranteed".  As I walked up Temple street and found the outside of the restaurant, I was instantly impressed with the beautiful decor outside such as the beautiful outdoor steel, the style and design of the chairs in what I consider to be the al fresco area, the beautiful and diverse plants and the lighting: I could not wait to see what other delights I would find indoors. 

I was greeted by further beautiful lighting area and a very impressive bar area. I enjoyed watching the  stylish bar tenders mix and make all the gorgeous cocktails I almost forgot to order my cocktail! There is a comprehensive range of cocktails in the cocktail menu, such as the signature The Botanist (which I ordered), Cherry and Sage Sling, Passion Fruit and Basil Crush, The Chocolate Rose, Rose Cosmo and Strawberry Martini. Mmmm, such dazzling and tantalising flavour combinations there, but I chose the Botanist cocktail: it was fresh, cool, fashionable and classy. Most importantly, it tasted incredible, the elderflower and jasmine syrup really came through which helped to balance the vodka and Havana rum.

To me, there seemed to be two parts of the restaurant, the bar and live area, then the restaurant area, I'm unsure whether this was due to the media event, but either way, I felt it work. After a a chat with Lorna from Lets Eat First, I walked past a cool looking male singing and playing the guitar. The seating area is large, but the seating arrangement, felt cosy and quite intimate. After oohing and ahhing of the lighting above me, admiring the menu design, oh and other guests food, I began to order my own. For starters,  I ordered the chicken and rum liver pate (£5.95) and also sampled some of Lorna's pork scratchings (£3.50) and onion rings (£2.95). The presentation of each starter, in particular my chicken liver rum pate was revolutionary, inventive and the theme "Botanist" thoroughly in-cooperated in the presentation. I found my starter, presented in a mini plant pot, tasted luxurious, creamy and I loved the texture of the ginger biscuits on top of the pate. For my main course, I ordered The Botanist Deli Board, where you can chose 4 items out of a selection of 21 for £9.95. I chose the houmous, Greek salad, Coronation Chicken and Chorzio, all served with Turkish flatbread. And because I'm greedy I also ordered side dish of "properly seasoned chips". 

I admired Lorna and her sisters main course dishes the Hanging Kebabs (£10.50-£13.50) was visually impressive and the Lamb Tagine (£12.75) was vibrant and colourful. I decided to pass on ordering any desserts as I was absolutely stuffed, however for those who have appetite for dessert, the description for the Warm Chocolate Fudge Cake, Rum Baba and Banana and Coconut Kebab. 

Overall: The latest must place visit in Birmingham, fabulous cocktails, beautiful food and a vibrant environment.

Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of The Botanist.


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Russell Hobbs Desire Slice and Go Food Slicer plus Special Coleslaw Recipe

The geniuses at Russell Hobbs have developed a new range of food preparation products such as  their Hand Mixer, Hand Blender, Mini Chopper and a fabulous product entitled Slice and Go. The Slice and Go is compact, stylish with it's stainless-steel grating, shredding and slicing tool. This a fabulous product to prepare and to perfectly slice vegetables. With all the recent media craze with healthy and clean living, I was particularly inspired to use this product as a way of eating more vegetables. Easy to assemble, I first started with the shredding tool to make the Special Coleslaw, which is shared later on in the post. I found having sliced the cabbage in rough slices and then placing in the tunnel, within a matter of seconds I had a beautiful perfect sliced of cabbage which was smooth on each side. I quickly swapped the shredding tool to the grating tool and used this to grate the carrots, again within a matter of seconds the carrots were perfectly grated. Needless to say that my Special Coleslaw was on the most beautifully presented coleslaw I have made. I've also used the Slice and Go, to slice some well known Jamaican ingredients such as green banana and plantain to make fritters (which I'll post shortly on the blog) , which were perfectly grated.  I would recommend this product as it is incredibly easy to use and really slices vegetables incredibly well. Reasonably priced at £24.99, this is a welcome addition to your kitchen.

Add caption
Green Banana about to be grated. 

Grated Green Banana

Ingredients ready to go in the Slice and Go.

Carrots Shredded

Special Coleslaw


  • Slices, grates and shreds vegetables perfectly.
  • Easy to use.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Reasonably Priced.
  • Stylish Design.
  • Not to noisy.

Needs improvement

  • At present, I can't think of anything that needs additional improvement with this product. 

Recipe for Special Coleslaw, taken from Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Cookbook. 

Ingredients Serves 8
1/2 white cabbage, finely sliced
1 red pepper, cored and de-seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, cored, de-seeded and chopped.
3 large carrots, peeled and grated.
298g/10oz can of sweetcorn, drained.
200ml /7 fl oz mayonnaise.
100ml/ 3 1/2 salad cream.
2 tsp coarse ground black pepper.

Put the cabbage into a bowl, add the red and green pepper and mix together. Stir in the carrots and sweetcorn. Add the mayonnaise, salad cream and black pepper and stir together well.


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ackee and Bacon Quiche.

I've been a fan of an Ackee and Bacon tart or as some call it quiche for a long time. I first discovered this combination of a staple Jamaican ingredient, ackee with a well-known British favourite, bacon around 10 years ago and craved more of this dish ever since. I have previously blogged about my Ackee and Bacon Tart last year on my blog. This recipe, is not the recipe previously shared, it's an improvement. Having flicked through several pages of Caribbean Potluck by the Rousseau sisters, this dish instantly appealed to me; the vibrant colours within the quiche was something I was previously lacking when I have made this dish. What I love about this Ackee and Bacon quiche is that it can be eaten anytime of the day, brunch, lunch and dinner, so there will certainly be no leftovers when making this quiche. I would highly recommend giving this recipe a go and perhaps even investing in Caribbean Potluck which is now my favourite Caribbean book I own. The only thing I would change with this recipe is to reduce the amount of liquids used in the custard filling from 240 ml milk to 200ml as I found the quiche a tad liquidy, but this was still delicious.
Here is how my Ackee and Bacon Quiche turned out:

Ackee and Bacon Quiche.

Ackee and Bacon Quiche.

Ackee and Bacon Quiche.

Ingredients, pre-bake.

Ackee and Bacon Quiche pre-bake.

For the Pastry Case and Custard 
Makes 1 x 20cm quiche (serves 6-8)
450g plain flour, plus more for rolling
pinch of sea salt
225g chilled butter, cut into pieces
up to 60ml iced water
240ml full fat milk
120ml canned coconut milk
3 medium eggs
1tbsp Dijon mustard
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt

For the Ackee and Bacon filling
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped onion
1/2 scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
2 garlic cloved, very finely chopped
225g bacon rashers, finely chopped
2 tbsp sliced spring onion
1 bunch fresh thyme, chopped
50 g tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped pepper
1 x 540g can ackee, drained
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g Parmesan cheese, finely grated.

1) Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4
2) To make the pastry case, using a fine-mesh, sift together the flour and the salt into a large bowl. Gently rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until crumbly. Add just enough iced water to form a dough and knead until it comes together. Form into a ball, then, on a floured surface, roll the pastry dough into a round about 35cm diameter. Transfer to a 20cm flan tin and press the pastry with raw rice on a greaseproof paper and blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and rice and set on a wire rack to cool until ready to fill.
3) Meanwhile, to make the custard, put the milk, coconut milk, eggs, mustard and nutmeg in a medium bowl and whisk together thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to bake.
4) To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Toss in the onion, scotch bonnet and garlic for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the bacon and sauté for 5 minutes. Spoon off the excess fat, then stir in the spring onion, thyme, tomato and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the ackee, season with salt and pepper and mix in the Parmesan. Leave to cool. 
5) To assemble the quiche, place the ackee and bacon filling in the case and smooth the top. Pour the custard over the filling, distributing it evenly with a fork. Return the quiche over the filling and back for 45 minutes or until the custard has set. Leave to cool slightly before serving.


Sunday, 5 April 2015

Stellar Stackable Draining Casserole Pan and Recipe

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! This range includes 16/18/20cm Draining Saucepans and 20/22/24 draining casseroles and cost from £40 - £50 to the saucepans and £50 - £70, this range is by no means cheap, but if you are after quality and long-lasting sets of innovative pans, this range is for you. 

Stellar Tate

Stellar Tate

The lovely people at Stellar Cookware kindly sent me a 20cm stackable casserole pan. My first impressions was the Stackable Draining Casserole Pan was stylish  and definitely put my other pans to shame! The Stackable Draining Casserole Pan is also heavy duty, I know if I had accidentally dropped it, it would be fine. More impressively, I liked the little added touch of the inside measurements which will guide you if you pour an excess or too little liquids when using the pans. 
I got to work straight away on testing this product out and had a recipe in mind, one which the meat was boiled in a broth then roasted in the oven. As this casserole pan is both hob and oven proof, my meal was essentially cooked in one pan, not requiring the ingredients to be transferred, which saved on the washing up. I was impressed that when it was time to drain the liquids for my ham hock, this was done with ease, no burning water flashing on me (as per usual) and all the liquids happily drained out leaving me with the tender meat.

Stellar Tate Casserole Pan.

Stellar Casserole Pan.

Stellar Casserole Pan.

Stellar Casserole Pan.

Overall: for the enthusiastic cook and budding chef, I would highly recommend this product, it is innovative, long lasting and stylish kitchenware. 

Recipe: Treacle  Glazed Ham Hocks Recipe from James Martin Slow Cooking.
2 carrots
1 large onion
3 tbsp cloves
4  x 500g ham hocks
1 celery stick
3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig
1 bay leaf
a pinch of sea salt
125g black treacle

Cut the carrots in half length ways and stud the onion with 2 of the cloves. Place the ham hocks in a deep saucepan, add the onion, carrots, celery and herbs, cover with cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring slowly to the boil over a medium heat-low heat, then gently simmer for 2 hours. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6. Carefully remove the ham hocks from the liquid and place them in a roasting tin. Using a sharp knife, remove the skin and trim off any excess fat to reveal pink meat underneath, then insert cloves at regular intervals over each hock. Return the hocks to the oven for 10 minutes to dry the surface of the meat.
Meanwhile, gently warm the black treacle in a saucepan. After 10 minutes, remove the hocks from oven, spoon over the treacle and return to the oven for a further 20-30 minutes, basting occasionally.
Once the hocks are shiny and glazed, remove from the oven and serve with a dollop of mustard.

Disclaimer: I received the Stella Casserole Pan to review, as always, I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Foodies Festival Birmingham Ticket Giveaway.

Foodies Festival, the UK largest food and and drink festival is coming to the heart of the Midlands, Canon Hill Park in Birmingham on 15th - 17th May 2015.  I adore outdoor food festivals; the atmosphere, the diversity of cuisines and the different age groups that all have a common love in food. I've seen many photos of Foodies Festivals on social media from the different cities that have hosted the event so I know the city of Birmingham are in for a foodalicious treat. 
Foodies Festival have been established for 10 years and a range of top well-known chefs will be demonstrating scrumptious dishes in live theatres. Foodies Festival is a very reasonable family day out, tickets range from £8 - £13 for a standard ticket depending upon the day chosen, however, those who want to indulge £35 - £38 for VIP tickets (including a glass of bubbly, goody bag, refreshments & masterclasses amongst other goodies), for children under 12, entry is free. Admission to masterclasses and theatres are free and is on a first come, first serve basis.

As stated there are a number of theatres and happenings at Foodies Festival.

  • Chefs Theatre - Ping Coombes, winner of 2014 Masterchef, Glyn Purnell Owner of Michelin Restaurant Purnells and Dhruv Baker, winner of Masterchef 2010 have been confirmed to sharing their culinary expertise on this stage. I am hoping to see all three when I attend the show.
  • Chocolate Cake and Bake Theatre
  • Wine and Champagne Theatre - Highlights including guiding visitors though the best of British champagne and matching food with alcoholic and non alcoholic beers. 
  • Craft and Beer & Spirits Theatre
  • Tasting Theatre - Local experts guide visitors through masterclasses such as "chocolate safari" and "how to sniff chocolate like a rock star".
  • Pop Up Restaurants - some of the regions favourite restaurants will be serving up some their signature treats. 
  • Street Food Avenue - a feasting hub serving a range of hot and cold dishes from countries such as Africa, French, Mexican, Indian, Argentinian, Brazilian, Japanese and Thai. 
  • Children's Cookery Theatre - a Kiddy Cook where little ones can learn basic cooking skills. 
The lovely people at Foodies Festival are offering 3 readers of Food Glorious Food a pair of tickets (one for you and a plus one).  To be in with a chance, please follow the instructions below.

  • Follow the instructions on the rafflecopter.
  • Leave a comment on my blog (This Is An Essential Requirement). For additional entries follow me on Instragram, like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, Google + and follow Foodies Festival on Twitter. 
  • All entries will be checked and verified
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will win from 02.04.14 - 30.04.15
  • Winners will need to respond in 3 working days after being contacted.
  • Foodies Festival will dispatch the tickets.
  • The competitions is open to UK residents only.

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