Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Raddison Blue, Harvester, Griffaes, My stay at Heathrow

Followers of my Twitter and Facebook page would be aware that I have recently returned from my annual holiday to the Caribbean. I have enjoyed sharing  photos of beautiful pictures of the beaches sunsets, food and pictures on the cruise liner, MSC Divina. When I go on holiday there is always lots of preparing that needs to be done and as I was flying from Heathrow instead of an airport in the Midlands, for me the extra distance required better planning. Usually, I just drive to the airport on the day of the flight but as Heathrow is 2 hours away from my home and the M40 and M25 can be notorious for traffic, I decided to stay in a hotel the night before. I found there were a lot of choice with hotels but I was specifically looking for a package which included airport parking alongside hotel and free transfers to the hotel. 
I found a handy website APH where I could view the different hotel packages which was incredibly handy.There was so much choice for hotels, but I decoded on Raddison Blu Edwardian partly, because I had heard of the Raddison brand before but the package was very reasonable at only £130 for one night stay including car parking for 2 weeks and free transfers. Driving up to the hotel I was impressed by the bold "Raddison Blu". I didn't realise how huge the hotel was and how grand the reception area was until I arrived. Clad in chandeliers and a sweeping staircase, the reception area was breathtaking. The reception staff were exceptionally helpful and incredibly polite and much to my delight, although I booked a standard bedroom,  I was upgraded to a Deluxe King size bedroom. This gave me a larger bed, seating area and bathrobes alongside the standard mini bar, iron and trouser press, tea and coffee making faciiaties and complimentary wi-fi. For those who dod not fancy leaving the hotel before their flight to the exotic, the hotel boasts 3 restaurants Annayu (Indian cuisine), Trunk bar and restaurant and Bijou restaurant. To be honest,  I did not read the food menus of these restaurants but there were many customers in there as I walked past in the evening so presumably the food was good. 
Here are some of the few snaps I took whilst at the hotel.
Raddison

I liked the personal touch that was offered at the hotel, such a special greeting when I turned on the television.
Raddison

The beautiful decorations throughout the hotel and the spacious room was also an added touch which is a far superior 4 star hotel.
Raddison

Radios

Raddison

For dinner, I opted for good ol British family restaurant. Not that there was anything wrong with the restaurant, I would hope it to visit, next time I stay in the restaurant. The Harvester is a well established chain of restaurants which is renowned for their flame grill meat dishes. Harvester Ashford was only 3 miles from the hotel and was on route to a supermarket where I could buy my supplies of squeezy squash. I chose the £9.99 deal which includes: unlimited salad, a selected main, unlimited soft drink and a sundae best! Such an unbelievable bargain, I started with the famous salad bowl and piled the bowl high with my favourite items: pasta, potato salad, carrots, beetroot, peppers, sultanas and topped with honey and mustard dressing. I also ordered the piri piri chicken with fries and corn on the cob. I was surprised that this was a new item on the menu, as piri piri has been around some time. The piri piri was delicious, the piri piri sauce was served on the side which was perfect for me drenching the sauce on. My amigo chose the chicken and ribs  combo (£8.59) which was reported to be seasoned well, the meat succulent and the portion size adequate. The ice-cream sundae was the perfect sweet dessert after the salads and piri piri chicken. I did not fancy a pudding which was particular heavy and the toffee sundae was refreshing, creamy and smooth. 
Salad bowl
Piri Piri chicken
                                            
                                                   Chicken and ribs

Sundae

My meal at the harvester

The day of me flying out to Miami I was on the prowl for a restaurant that sells breakfast. If I ate at the hotel, it would be too early and not knowing when I will be served food on my flight with British Airways, I decided to scour Terminal 5 for restaurants. I found a lovely restaurant, Giraffes. Initially, I thought Giraffes were the same chain of Brazillian restaurants, which I enjoyed in Rio. I chose the BLT sandwich (£6.75), mainly because it only contained 400 calories, but this good work was ruined as I added the crispy potato wedges (£1.75), to help me keep my strength. My amigo chose the Breakfast Plate (£9.95) which is essentially a Full English. A side order of toast (£2.25) was ordered but not necessary as the breakfast plate was incredibly filling. For drinks, large capuchino (£2.60) and tea (£2.00) were ordered which went down a treat. All in all, this was a wonderful restaurant to visit before a long haul flights. The staff were friendly and they aimed to get each order on your table within 15 minutes. 

Giraffe

Giraffe

BLT sandwich

Breakfast plate.


Disclaimer: I thought I would share my recent stay at Heathrow. I was not paid to do this post.

xxx

xxx

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Cheesecaklets

Nigella Lawson boldly declares these pancakes as "old-fashioned cheesecake-flavoured pancakes". I, however am unable to comment what old-fashioned cheesecake flavoured pancakes taste like, as I have never tried this particular dish before. As always, I love searching out new recipes for my weekend breakfast, these cheesecaklets caught my eye. I  was intrigued by the use of cottage cheese in pancakes and having a quick glance over the ingredients I realised if I made this, they would be nowhere near as calorific as other pancakes. I tweaked the ingredients a bit, which is one of the beauty of cooking and recreating your own recipes. I used cottage cheese with pineapple and instead of the strawberries, I replaced this with tinned pears. Unfortunately strawberries are not in season but the pears perfectly fit the bill.
These cheesecaklets or sweet cheese pancakes as I like to call them were incredibly easy to make. They were a bit weird looking in term of mixture but when the mixture hit the scorching hot frying pan they began to take a robust form. They cook super quick so do keep an eye on the pancake. The flavours really come through, they are bits of pineapple popping through alongside the subtly of vanilla extract. I would also recommend this as the pancakes, when stacked up high are incredibly filling.
Here is how my cheeselaklets turned out:
Cheesecaklets

Cheesecaklets


Recipe for Cheesecaklets
For the pancakes
3 eggs
2 tbsp caster sugar
225 cottage cheese
50g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To eat with
250 g strawberries (I used pears, which were tinned)
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 - 1 teaspoon caster sugar

Method
Start with the fruit, just so that it can macerate while you make the pancakes. Depending on their size, chop the strawberries into quarters, sprinkle over the balsamic vinegar and sugar and swirl the bowl about a bit so the strawberries are coated before covering with cling film and leave to steep while you set about making your cheesecakes.
Separate the eggs. Mix the yolks with sugar, beating well. Add the cottage cheese, flour and vanilla. Then, in another bowl, whisk the whites till frothy (with a hand whisk only) and fold the fold the white spume into the cottage cheese mixture.
Heat a smooth griddle or non stick pan and dollop tablespoons of the curd-thick batter on to it to make cake lets of about 8 cm diameter. Each cheesecake let will take a minute or so to firm up underneath, when you should flip it and cook the other side. Remove to a warmed plate as and when ready.
Turn the strawberries in the ruby syrup they've made and squish some pieces with a fork at the same time. Decent them into a bowl, with a spoon for serving, and bring your cheesecaklets to the table at the same time.

xxx

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Chilli and garlic bread bake

You know when you are in a supermarket ( in this example it was Sainsbury's) and they have a BBC Good Food book for £1.50 what to you do? Well I had to purchase Speedy Supers way back in December 2013, especially as so many of my mid-week meals are the same as the title states: Speedy Supers. Now, I could write a whole essay on my love of mince and indeed this is covered on this blog, alongside my social media sites, but this time I wanted to have a nice change on a traditional recipe. This is far from authentic, but with the cold crisp autumn nights I long for comfort food and as an addict to garlic bread I was happy to try this recipe. The chilli con carne took moments to make, I had it on the table within 30 minutes. I would however, next time add more chilli to the recipe as it did not have the usual kick that I am used to. I refrained from adding kidney beans to the chilli as I served this dish with Jamaican rice and peas which also has kidney beans. The highlight of this dish for me was the topped garlic bread, crisp, flavoursome and the underneath soaking in the mince mixture, it was perfect for mopping up the flavours. I am glad I served this with rice and peas as this had some form of kick to it. Would I make it again? Yes, but I would add guacamole and add the additional chill. With all these proposals of amending this dish, perhaps I need to remake sooner rather than later.
Here is how my Garlic Bread Topped Chilli Con Carne turned out:



Recipe for Chilli and garlic bread bake
Ingredients
500g lean beef mince
2 onions, quartered
2tsp olive oil
2tsp cumin
1-2 tsp mild chilli powder
400g chopped tomatoes
1 beef stock cube
1 garlic bread, split into slices.

Takes 30 minutes, serves 4.

Method
1) Brown the mince in a large non-stick frying pan for a few minutes, then tip into a bowl. Whiz the onions in a food processor until finely chopped.
2) Heat the oil in the pan then fry the onions for 2 minutes. Add the spices and cook for another minute. Return the mince to the pan with the tomatoes, stock cube and a can of hot water, bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
3) Heat the grill to medium. Spoon the mince into an ovenproof dish. Arrange the baguette slices over the mince, then frill for 5 minutes until golden and crisp.

Nutritional information, per serving 498 calories, protein 37g, carbohydrate 33g, fat 25g, saturated fat 6g, fibre 2g, sugar 7g, salt 2.5 g 

xxx 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Super easy and super quick chocolate fridge cake

What do you do when you are ravenous, desperate for a chocolate fix, but have chocolate fix on hand. This feeling happens quite often for me. I somehow have associated a chocolate or sweet  dish immediately after an evening meal, Pavlolv's conditioning theory can certainly be applied to food cravings. When I don't plan to make anything specific, I tend not to have all the ingredients at hand, which is frustrating when I am drooling over many mouth watering recipes. But what I do have is bits and bobs of many packets of sweet things. You see, I don't always use a whole packet of marshmallows or chocolate raisins when I am baking, so any leftovers are stored carefully in a sandwich bag and in my baking bag.
With limited baking ingredients alongside a recent holiday including holiday gain, I decided on the "handful" policy when adding my ingredients. "Handful policy" I hear you say, yes, a handful of your favourite ingredients (now not every ingredient) to include in the mixture. There were some measurements involved tbsp and a random number of 6 biscuits, but using the handful way the dish should not be too calorific. I added peanuts, dolly mix, marshmallows and chocolate eggs (yes leftover from Easter). After a good ol mix and after 1.5 hrs this was set beautifully. 
I loved the flavour of my no-bake, think salty peanuts, combined with silky and sweet marshmallows, crunchy chic eggs and a reminiscent of childhoods with sweet (already use that word) dolly bakes. I would certainly make this again and with the upcoming Christmas period and with all the possible leftover dried cranberries, pistachios and chocolate truffles, I will be making another one of these quick.
Here is how my super easy and super quick chocolate fridge cake turned out:

Super easy and quick chocolate fridge cake



Chocolate fridge cake



Chocolate fridge cake

Recipe
6 chocolate digestives
100g dark chocolate
2 heaped tbsp margarine
Handful of peanuts
Handful of marshmallows
Handful of dolly mixture 
Handful of chocolate mini eggs
Handful of white chocolate buttons

Method
Crush the chocolate digestive biscuits in crumbs in a mixing bowl, set aside. In a second bowl, break the dark chocolate pieces and margarine, then heat in 30 second blasts. Add a handful of the peanuts, marshmallows,  dolly mixture, chocolate mini eggs and chocolate buttons in the bowl with the biscuits. Pour the melted chocolate of the chocolate and nut mixture and stir until fully coated. Place the mixture in a square tin. Set the tin in the fridge for at least 1.5 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy.

xxx

I am sharing this recipe to a number of food blogging challenges. Firstly, Treat Petit hosted by Stuart from Cakeyboi and Kat from the Baking Explorer. This month's them is Thanksgiving, whilst I did not make this for someone in particular, my family members thoroughly enjoyed it and were very thankful to me!


I'm also sharing this recipe to The Biscuit Barrel Challenge hosted by Laura from I'd much rather bake than. This months theme is Winter Warmers. Whilst this recipe does not contain any winter spices, it is the sort of quick treat I'd like to have near the fire.



I'm also sharing this to Cook blog share hosted by Lucy by Super Golden Bakes


xxx

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Spicy tomato-bacon mushroom pasta

It's November, which means the dark nights are here, the cold crisp weather returns and possibly some snow in the coming weeks. For me, the winter months are a time for hibernation as I'm not the biggest fan of cold weather and I long to have duvet days. When I long for duvet days, I also long for lots of carbohydrates, this dish satisfies this need. Many of us love pasta and I am a big fan, eating a pasta based dish at least once a week. There are so many different pasta varieties and many ways to cook pasta but often favourites can become habits and the usual pasta dish should be revisited or amended so we don't get bored eating the same dish. This spicy tomato-bacon pasta does that, instead of cooking the usual "spag bol" I decided to make another tomato based dish. The red chill brings a warmth to this dish (perfect for the winter nights), the bacon adds the flavour, mushrooms give it a lovely earthy flavour and the pasta is well, the centrepiece. And if you are pressed for time and unable to make your own tomato sauce there are many good tomato pasta sauces which would shave half the time to prep and make this dish, making it an ideal mid-week meal. 
Here is how my spicy tomato-bacon pasta turned out:
Spicy tomato-bacon pasta


Spicy tomato-bacon pasta

Spicy tomato-bacon pasta

Spicy tomato-bacon pasta dish 

Recipe from Cook Step-By-Step.

Serves 6, Prep 35-40 minutes, Cook 30-40 minutes
Ingredients
125g thick cut bacon rashers, slices or bacon lardons
375g mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chill, deseeded and finely diced
leaves from 5-7 oregano sprigs, finely chopped
2 x 400g cans chopped plum tomatoes
salt and pepper
500g pasta quills
30g butter
60g Parmesan cheese

1) Make the sauce. Put the bacon into a frying pan. Fry over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until the bacon is lightly browned and the fat is rendered. Spoon off all but 3tbsp pf the fat. Increase the heat and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring for 3-5 minutes, until mushrooms have softened and most of the liquid has evaporated.
2) Add the garlic, chili, oregano, chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes, until thick and rich. If necessary to thicken the sauce, continue to cook, uncovered, for a few minutes longer. Taste the sauce for seasoning.
3) Cook the pasta. Fill a large pan with cold water, bring to a boil, and add 1 tbsp salt. Add the pasta quills. Simmer until al dente, tender but still chewy, stirring occasionally. It should take 5-8 minutes, or cook according to the package directions. Drain in a colander.
4) Finish the dish. Put the quills into a warmed serving bowl, and add the butter. Toss together until well coated. Spoon over he sauce and  half the cheese. Toss together, then sprinkle over a little more Parmesan. Serve immediately, with the remaining cheese.

I am sharing this dish with a couple of blogging challenges, the first Extra Veg challenge hosted by Helen from Fuss Free Flavours  and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy. As this pasta dish contains two types of vegetables, I can sneakily enter this dish to this blog challenge.

The second blog challenge i'm sharing this dish with is Credit Card Munch hosted by Alida by My Little Italian Kitchen on behalf of Camilla from Fab Food for All and Helen from Fuss Free Flavours. As I used leftover mushrooms and cheaper cuts of meat, it is quite an economical dish.

xxx

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Burgers, Cool Layer Cakes and 1000 juices, Review and Giveaways

It certainly is cook book season with many new releases of many cookery genres being published in the Autumn months. That, of course is a delight to me. As many of you know I love reading new shiny cookery books  and with being fortunate to receive cookery books from publishers, alongside my impulsive purchases at well known book stores (plus one I just had to buy in Miami about Miami cuisine) I have amassed 10 books in a few weeks. I have chosen to share my review of three books that I received from the lovely people at Jacqui Small Publishing and Quarto Publishing group : Burgers by Paul Gayer, Cool Layer Cakes by Ceri Olofson and 1000 Juices by Deborah Gray.

Let's start with the cookery book which is dedicated to one of my favourite food dishes of all times, Burgers. This book is designed in the shape of the burger which will make it stand out amongst the usual shaped cookery books in the bookshelf. There is no contents page, this book dives straight into the 25 burger recipes. What I like about this book, is that it if of a more gourmet burger book, rather than cooking the bog standard beef burgers (although they are some cracker beef burger recipes such as the Bloody Mary Burger and the Big Apple Deli Burger). There are more exotic and interesting burger recipes to recreate such as the Ploughman's burger and Lebanese Kitchen Burger. I decided to try a recipe which is based on the ingredients of my culture: Caribbean Pork Burger with barbecue jerk baste and calypso mojo. I am so glad I tried this recipe, it is a modern take on classic Caribbean flavours which brought a taste of sunshine and exotic spicy flavours in a plate.
I would recommend this book for all the burger lovers out there as you will be delighted with the gourmet burger recipes.
 Here is how my burgers turned out:

Caribbean Pork Burgers. 
Cool Layer Cakes is a wonderful comprehensive cake book from Ceri Olofson. With the baking trend in full force in the UK, this book is great for those who want to create an impressive, standout cake, or as a famous program would say a "show stopper". Never made a layer cake before? No worries, this book has a chapter on layer cake essentials which includes essential tools, essential decorating kit and special tools. The highlight of this book, is of course the recipes. Each recipe has an accompanying picture which I feel is vitally important for cakes and bakes. I made the lemon meringue cake for my nan's birthday which tasted heavenly: layers and layers of sponge cake, generous dollops of lemon curd topped with sweet meringue. Other recipes that I would like to try are the Strawberry Delight, Liquid Gold and Lady-In-Waiting Dome. I would certainly recommend this book for all the cake lovers out there, there is wonderful recipes out there for all occasions and especially for special occasions. 
Here is how my Lemon Meringue Cake turned out:


Lemon Meringue Cake

Last, but certainly not least 1000 Juices, Green Drinks and Smoothies by Deborah Gray.  A book that contains a whopping 1,000 recipes is a rarity, many books only contain 100 recipes, so this was a lovely treat. As I do not make juices or smoothies often, I was pleased that there was a thorough introduction which not explained the difference between the two, but also the different equipments and a fruit guide. As there are a number of recipes, there is also 8 chapters which split each recipe according to type. My favourite chapters include Breakfast Blends, Thirst Quenchers and Milkshakes and Frozen Drinks. There are so many juices and smoothies to try, I certainly want to make the Maple Banana Smoothie, Guava to Go Smoothie and Belgian Chocolate Shake. The recipe that I tried, Green Goddess which is described by the author as a "delicious and cleansing mix of fruits and vegetables that is great for digestion". I agree. I would recommend this book for those who want to have a healthier lifestyle. 
Here is how my Green Goddess drink turned out:

Green Goddess.

As I love sharing recipes, the recipe for the Caribbean pork burger is below. Continue to scroll down, as I have giveaways of these fabulous books.

Caribbean Pork Burger
450g well-trimmed, coarsely minced ground pork, chilled
100g good-quality sausage meat, chilled
1 onion, finely chopped
1tbsp chopped oregano
3tbsp prepared jerk baste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
vegetable or sunflower oil for brushing

For the Jerk Baste
3tbsp olive oil
2tbsp white wine vinegar
2tbsp hot pepper sauce
1tbsp tomato ketchup
1 garlic clove, crushed
1tsp dried thyme
1tsp tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp sugar
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground all spice

1) For the jerk baste, place all the ingredients in a blender and whiz until smooth.
2 ) Place the pork and sausage meat in a bowl. Next, add 3 tbsp of water, the onion, oregano and measured amount of jerk baste. Adjust the seasoning, cover with cling film and chill for at least 1 hour.
3) Divide the mix into 8 evenly sized patties and brush with oil.
4)  Heat a chargrill or pan until hot, grill the patties for 8 - 10 minutes until cooked through, brushing them during the process with more of the baste.
5)  Toast the buns; top the bases with slices of tomato, a few dressed leaves and then 2 burgers.
6)  Spoon the calypso mojo and top with coriander leaves o garnish.

I have one copy of burgers, three copies of Cool Layer Cakes and 5 copies of 1,000 Juices to giveaway, please follow the instructions below. Please answer all the three questions if you would like to enter the three giveaway. 

  • Follow the instructions on the rafflecopter widget.
  • Join my blog (click on the left hand corner of the site and join using Google Friend connector) and leave a comment this is an ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENT.
  • For additional entries, leave a blog comment, like my Facebook Page, follow foodgloriousfoodx on Twitter, Add me in Google + The Quarto Group  and Jacqui Small Publishing.
  • All entries will be checked and verified.
  • Rafflecopter will pick a winner at random.
  • The competition will run from 01.11.14 - 30.11.14
  • Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted. 
  • Quarto Group will dispatch the book the the lucky winner. 
  • The competition is open to UK residences only. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Coconut, marshmellow and all spice brownies

If it has chocolate in it, I am sold. Many of the sweet baking that I do includes the well-loved ingredient chocolate in one way or the other, it has to be done. One of my other favourite ingredients is coconut, it is so tropical and exotic and to be honest quite addictive. With an impending Caribbean holiday looming, I thought I would get myself in the tropical mood by making my own exotic twist on a classic rocky road brownies. I like to have a nice supply of chocolate bakes in the freezer, it sounds weird but I like to have a slice or square of chocolate cake or even a no-bake like rocky road within 5 minutes of deciding I need chocolate. Being a fan of all things Caribbean, I added some traditional Caribbean flavours; all spice and nutmeg alongside the coconut  which made this brownies a caribbean dream with every bite. I also had to add some peanuts, I actually wanted to use cashews but there was none in my cupboard so I went along with this family favourite ingredient.The brownies are topped with my quick chocolate ganache which makes the bake rich and several marshmallows are scattered over.
Would I make this again? Of course, but next time I'll have a bite with a sip pina colada.
Here is how my coconut, marshmallow and all spice brownies turned out:



Dry ingredients



Eggs and butter added

Coconut and marshmellows

Peanuts and mini eggs

Pre bake



Chocolate ganache

Recipe for coconut, marshmellows and all spice brownies.

225g butter, melted
100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
140g caster sugar
3tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
50 g dessicatted coconut
50g peanuts
1tbsp all spice
1tsp nutmeg
50g marshmellows
100g white chocolate
A packet of mini eggs or smarties (optional)

For the frosting
125g dark chocolate
100g butter, melted
50g marshmellows

Method
Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas mark 3. Grease a 23cm/9 inch square shallow baking tin and dust lightly with four.
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, spices and baking powder and make a well in the centre. Stir in the melted butter and eggs and beat well to mix throughouly.
Stir in the peanuts, coconut, marshmallows, mini eggs. Pour into the prepared tin, scatter the pieces of white chocolate in the tin and bake for 35 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. Place the dark chocolate and butter in a heatproof jug and heat in the microwave in 30 second blasts, stirring after each blast. When the chocolate and butter is melted, leave to cool, this will thicken.
Once the brownies are baked, leave to cool and then pour over the chocolate ganache.

Enjoy
xxx