Oct 19
Welsh Cakes By Post
posted by: Babette in Babette's Ffest, Products on Oct 19th, 2013 | | 325 Comments »

My friend Eironwy suggested that I try the Welsh Cakes made by J & L Occasional Cakes in Swansea. “They are as good as homemade”, she said. And Eironwy was right. For those of you who have never had a Welsh Cake, I will attempt to describe them. I think they are the perfect treat to have with your afternoon cup of tea or coffee. I would say that they are cousins to a scone. The main differences are that instead of baking them in an oven, they are traditionally cooked on a baking stone or griddle. This gives them a golden brown outer crust but the inside is lovely and soft. You use less milk in the batter and Welsh Cakes are thinner than scones.

Picture of a plate of Welsh Cakes

J & L Traditional Welsh Cakes

J & L was started by two Friends, Jacqui and Liz, with a passion for baking. They started by making celebration cakes for all occasions and Welsh Cakes as favours for weddings. Their Welsh Cakes proved to be so popular that they decided to launch their ‘Welsh Cakes by Post’ service at the Gorseinon Food Festival in 2012. Their Welsh Cakes are packaged so that they fit through a letterbox so you don’t even have to be home for the delivery!

Picture of Letter Boxed Sized Package

Letter Boxed Sized Package

J & L make traditional Welsh Cakes and some with some swagger! All of their Welsh Cakes are cooked by the traditional method on co-owners Liz’s grandmother’s bake stone using Welsh ingredients, including Welsh butter and local free range eggs. I tried their traditional Welsh Cakes as well as the butterscotch and fudge, the coconut and milk chocolate, and also their chocolate and orange. Their Welsh Cakes are beautifully golden brown on the outside, have a wonderful crumb and lovely flavour. I highly recommend them.

Picture of Welsh Cakes

Golden Brown on outside with a lovely soft middle

J & L have kindly offered to give 1 box of 18 Welsh Cakes away to one lucky reader. So we are holding a giveaway! To enter, all you need to do is suggest a new flavour for their Welsh Cakes. Full details are below.

COMPETITION

The nice people at J & L Occasional Cakes have promised a box of 18 Welsh Cakes to give away to the reader of this blog, who comes up with what they consider to be the best suggestion for a new Welsh Cake flavour.

HOW TO ENTER

Simply leave a comment below, telling us what flavour of Welsh Cakes you would like J & L to create next.

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is 6.00pm GMT Sunday 27th October 2013.
  • The competition is open to U.K. residents only, sorry.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries.
  • The editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • The prize is one pack of 18 Traditional Welsh Cakes, as shown above, and includes free delivery anywhere in the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by J & L Occasional Cakes.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Corpulent Capers accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • One blog entry per person only.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • By entering you agree to join our mailing list. You may unsubscribe at any time and we will never pass your details to any other party. Your privacy is very important to us.
  • The winners will be notified by email. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Corpulent Capers received review samples from J & L Occasional Cakes.

J & L Occasional Cakes
Gorseinon
Swansea

Tel: 077196306976Tel: 07718316958
E: jloccasionalcakes@gmail.comy

The competition is now closed. The winner will be notified shortly.

 

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Oct 13

News reaches us that Cardiff Marriott is one of two hotels of the groups 50 UK establishments chosen to pilot a new menu, that has been developed in collaboration with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage. The chef’s at the Marriott have all been to the newly established River Cottage Chefs’ School.

Menu’s will be based around local, seasonal produce and sourced, where possible, from local suppliers. The Marriott is aiming to source 80% of it’s food locally.

The new menu will debut on the 21st October before being rolled to more of the UK hotels.

We think this can only be a good thing and will be trying the menu for ourselves in early November. Watch this space for a review.

More details in the press release below.

CARDIFF MARRIOTT & RIVER COTTAGE PARTNER TO CO-CREATE THE FUTURE OF HOTEL DINING

Marriott commits to increase the use of locally procured food to 80% to support Welsh farmers

London – 30 September 2013 – Marriott Hotels, the signature brand of Marriott International, today announces an innovative partnership with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage that celebrates and supports local and sustainable food. Cardiff Marriott has been chosen as one of two UK Marriott Hotels to debut new seasonal menus. The specially created menu will launch on 21 October 2013 before being rolled out to cover more of Marriott Hotels’ 50 UK hotels.

Responding to national interest in the provenance of food, the new menu will showcase the very best local and seasonal produce in south Wales with starters costing from £5.45. Graig Farm in Newton will provide organic Welsh lamb for a signature dish including shoulder of lamb, smashed celeriac, chilli and thyme. Other new suppliers working with Cardiff Marriott include Abergavenny Fine Foods, Gower Coast Seafood and the Welsh Box Scheme.

River Cottage has proved to be an invaluable partner for Marriott, facilitating the introduction of key local suppliers in south Wales and sharing best practice on sustainable sourcing along with daily menu planning. The collaboration also supports Marriott Hotels’ new Travel Brilliantly campaign that aims to inspire innovation in travel through culinary, design, technology and more.

“Culinary enjoyment is a crucial element of any travel experience and the partnership with River Cottage will not only enhance the guest experience at Cardiff Marriott but hopefully encourage local people in the Cardiff region to try our restaurant too,” said Osama Hirzalla, Vice President Brand Marketing & eCommerce for Marriott International in Europe.

In addition to Marriott’s Future Fish programme that aims to select and serve fish and shellfish from sustainable sources, the partnership will see changes in the following areas of Marriott’s food offering:

  • Local sourcing – Increase the percentage of food sourced by each Hotel from within a 60 mile radius to 80%
  • Menu change frequency – Increase the number of times the restaurant menu changes, from quarterly to daily
  • Waste management – Further reduce food wastage from a current level of 5%
  • Sustainability rating – Improve the Sustainable Restaurant Association rating in both hotels
  • Organic meat – All meat used in the restaurants will be organic
  • Free range chicken – All chicken used in the restaurants will be free range

The chefs at Cardiff Marriott, headed up by Executive Chef Anthony Barnes, have undergone rigorous training at the River Cottage recently launched Chefs’ School. They have also obtained City & Guilds accredited certificates in a range of competencies, from procuring sustainable food through to butchery and nutrition.

Chris Griffin, Head of Education at River Cottage, says: “This is an exciting project for River Cottage because of the substantial changes we can help Marriott make in procuring and cooking food. The new menus embrace our SLOW philosophy – Seasonal, Local, Organic and Wild – and we are delighted that local food heritage is being celebrated at each hotel. This is the first phase of a project that we hope will grab the attention of the hospitality industry.”

 

Aug 8

August 7th, 2013 saw the publication of the results of the 2013 Great Taste Awards. We look at the success of Welsh producers in the Great Taste Awards and the demise of the Wales the True Taste Awards.

As late as December 2012 the Welsh Government was stating that “The Wales the True Taste brand plays a major part in creating awareness of Welsh food and drink amongst consumers.”

On their website they said :-

“Food and drink is important to Wales. Not only is it a big part of our daily life, it is a vital part of our culture and its agricultural production has formed much of our landscape. Nowadays the sector is a significant employer – over 55,000 people work in the industry.

The Wales the True Taste brand is managed by the Food and Market Development Division (FMDD) of the Welsh Government with the aim of promoting the very best of what this sector has to offer.

The creation of a credible Welsh food brand in the retail sector has enabled us to promote our produce not only within Wales but beyond our borders in the rest of the UK and abroad. Research shows that the Wales the True Taste logo is increasingly recognised by consumers and that the profile of Welsh food and drink is rising.”

Despite this there was no information coming from the Welsh Government during early 2013 about this years True Taste Awards and rumour was rife that they would not be going ahead in 2013. Word on the street was that they would replaced by new awards primarily aimed at the larger food producers and that the smaller artisan producers would be ignored.

In July 2013 the end of True Taste was officially confirmed when Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies said the current strategy to promote Welsh food and drink was “no longer fit for purpose” and a new scheme with growth targets would be published in the autumn.

He confirmed the True Taste Awards would be scrapped for not meeting the needs of the food industry and consumers, and replaced with a ‘Food and Drink Wales’ brand used at the International Food Exhibition this year.

One might question how something that is “increasingly recognised by consumers”, has raised the profile of Welsh food and drink and has given producers a recognised mark of quality that has allowed them to increase sales would not meet their needs and that of the consumer.

Wales Online quoted Mr Davies as saying: “I have decided that there will be no True Taste Awards in 2013. We will continue to develop the new ‘Food and Drink Wales’ branding that was used at the 2013 International Food Exhibition.

This is a trade identity rather than a consumer brand and I believe that it is instantly recognisable, obviously Welsh and modern in approach. The provenance of Welsh food and drink is of paramount importance in branding and this should be clearly understood by the consumer.”

So with no True Taste Awards and no replacement for 2013, what’s a small, Welsh, artisan producer to do.

Well, quite a few of them entered the Great Taste Awards run by The Guild of Fine Food, who in fact ran the judging for the True Taste Awards from 2004 to 2008.

The Great Taste Awards are much larger than the True Taste with over 10,000 products being entered this year. Entries appear to be open to any company selling a food or drink product in the U.K. True Taste Awards winners were awarded traditional Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards, whereas Great Taste winners get 3, 2 or 1 star.

This year there were 3442 winning products from 1769 producers. The Guild awarded 2664 one star awards, 651 two star awards and 126 three star awards.

So how did the Welsh contingent fare in this competition. Well 86 products from 51 producers were awarded at least one star. In fact, Welsh producers won a total of 111 stars with 4 products winning the maximum of three stars, 17 winning two stars and 65 winning one star. Unfortunately I have no way of knowing how many Welsh producers entered.

Below I’ve included a list of the products, their producers and the stars. (Note there was no way that I could automatically extract the Welsh producers from the list automatically, so I trawled through all 3442 products looking at where their producers were based. If I missed you, then sorry but drop me an email and I’ll correct my list as soon as possible.) Considering the increased size of the competition they have all done fantastically well and are worthy winners. Congratulations to you all.

So consumers and producers, I have some questions for you.

Should Wales have it’s own awards again for it’s smaller producers? We know that Welsh produce and Welsh producers are good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the UK, but do Welsh producers need some kind of geographical recognition too? Should we simply encourage all our producers to enter the Great Taste Awards, or should we encourage the Welsh Government, who to be fair have asked for input, to organise a revised competition guaranteeing support for the smaller producer and emphasizing their Welshness ?

If the Welsh Government, now concentrating on a business growth strategy, doesn’t want a new version of True Taste would you support an independent initiative to create a Welsh Food Award?

Please let me have your views by leaving a comment below.

 

Product Name Company Stars
Ginger and Fennel Fredericks Chocolaterie 3
Halen Môn Umami Sea Salt The Anglesey Sea Salt Company Ltd 3
Organic Aberdeen Angus Rump Roasting Joint Rhug Organic Farm 3
Lemon Curd Welsh Lady Preserves 3
Chilli Lime Chutney Miranda’s Preserves Ltd 2
Blackcurrant Cheesecake Blas ar Fwyd Cyf 2
Rack of Lamb Cambrian Mountains Initiative 2
Coedcanlas Welsh Heather Honey Coedcanlas 2
Crystallised Edible Flowers Eat My Flowers 2
Extra Mature Welsh Sirloin Steak Edwards of Conwy 2
Wholemeal Flour Felin Talgarth Mill 2
Laverbread burger Greta’s Wholefoodies 2
Hafod Cheese Holden Farm Dairy 2
Fig, Honey & Yogurt Ice cream Hufenfa’r Castell 2
Poussin Capestone Organic Poultry Ltd 2
Dragon Welsh Salted Butter South Caernarfon Creameies Ltd 2
Llaeth – y – Llan, Probiotic Natural yogurt Village Dairy Ltd/Llaeth-Y-Llan Cyf 2
Celtica The Great Orme Brewery 2
Buttery & Boozy Mincemeat The Preservation Society 2
Welsh Honey Ice Cream The Sweet Shop 2
Blood, wine & Chocolate Chorizo Salami Trealy Farm Charcuterie 2
Welsh farmed gilled and gutted whole sea bass Anglesey Aquaculture 1
Black Cherry Liqueur Condessa Welsh Liqueurs 1
Lemon Cheese Cake Ice Cream Hufenfa’r Castell 1
Dark Fruit Chutney Blas ar Fwyd 1
Lamb Lobscouse Blas ar Fwyd 1
Beef Lobscouse Blas ar Fwyd 1
Gold Beacons Brecon Brewing 1
Leg of Lamb Cambrian Mountains Initiative 1
Welsh Whisky Truffle Cathryn Cariad Chocolates 1
Dragon-roasted Coffee Truffle Cathryn Cariad Chocolates 1
Welsh Honey Truffle Cathryn Cariad Chocolates 1
Merlyn Truffle Cathryn Cariad Chocolates 1
Bara Brith Cerdin Foods 1
Dark Chocolate Bar infused with Chilli Chocolate Fusion 1
Sea-salt Caramel with Hazelnut Chocolate Fusion 1
Coedcanlas Sicilian Lemon Marmalade Coedcanlas 1
No. 8  Seville orange marmalade Coedcanlas 1
Llanddarog Ale Coles Family Brewery 1
Black Cherry Liqueur Condessa Welsh Liqueurs 1
Crackin’ Chili and Cherry Tomato Jam Cwrtau Bach Farm 1
Chilli, Orange and Cinnamon Ganache Fredericks Chocolaterie 1
Spicy Mango Sorbet Fire and Ice 1
Peanut Butter Ice Cream Forte’s Ice Cream 1
Gluten Free Gower Cottage Brownie Gower Cottage Brownies 1
Curry Chickpea, Coriander and Coconut Burger Greta’s Wholefoodies 1
Hoki Poki Ice Cream Hufenfa’r Castell 1
Lemon Cheese Cake Ice Cream Hufenfa’r Castell 1
Llaeth-y-Llan Luxury layered probiotic yogurt – Red Berry Village Dairy Ltd/Llaeth-Y-Llan Cyf 1
Raspberry Jam Miranda’s Preserves Ltd 1
Sweet Beetroot Chutney Miranda’s Preserves Ltd 1
Venison & Long Pepper Salami Native Breeds Charcuterie 1
Mini Hog Roast Neuadd Fach Baconry 1
Caramel & Pistachio Meringues Ooomeringues 1
Spiced Nut Meringues Ooomeringues 1
Raspberry Meringues Ooomeringues 1
Welsh Chilli Chutney Welsh Speciality Foods 1
Welsh Onion Marmalade Welsh Speciality Foods 1
Heartsease Farm Traditional Lemonade Radnor Hills Mineral Water Company Ltd 1
Blackcurrant & Vanilla Preserve Radnor Preserves 1
White Pudding Rhug Organic Farm 1
Organic Norfolk Bronze Turkey Rhug Organic Farm 1
Organic Leg of Welsh Lamb Rhug Organic Farm 1
All Butter Fudge Siocled Moethus Sarah Bunton Luxury Chocolates 1
Welsh Black Minced Beef Siop Fferm Glasfryn Farm Shop 1
Smoked Back Bacon Siop Fferm Glasfryn Farm Shop 1
Orange Viennese Mince Pie Siwgr A Sbeis 1
Organic Back Bacon Slade Farm Organics 1
Date and Tamarind Chutney Samosaco 1
OMG The Blaenafon Cheddar Company Ltd 1
Apricot & Orange Chutney with Wychcroft Ale The Patchwork Traditional Food Company 1
Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Chutney The Patchwork Traditional Food Company 1
Candied Jalapenos The Preservation Society 1
Pork & Leek Sausages The Traditional Welsh Sausage Company Ltd 1
Traditional Pork Sausages The Traditional Welsh Sausage Company Ltd 1
Cumberland Sausages The Traditional Welsh Sausage Company Ltd 1
Tesco Finest Welsh Cakes The Village Bakery (Wrexham) 1
The Village Bakery Welsh Cakes The Village Bakery (Wrexham) 1
Ty Tanglwyst Salted Butter Ty Tanglwyst Dairy 1
Ty Tanglwyst Dairy Double Cream Ty Tanglwyst Dairy 1
Relishous Usk River 1
Beetroot and Red Onion Relish Usk River 1
Tango Mango Chutney Usk River 1
Proper Pickle Usk River 1
Pear Tree Usk River 1
Three Fruits Marmalade Welsh Lady Preserves 1
Jul 18
Rob and one of his Oxford Sandy & Black Pigs

Rob Park And One Of His Oxford Sandy & Black Pigs

I am really interested in learning more about what goes into producing good meat. So I thought I’d start with pork.

Not all pork is the same! I find some pork to be so mild it has no taste; sometimes it is so strong that it needs heavy spicing to balance the strong taste, and sometimes it is so lean that no matter how I cook it, it becomes too dry.

One of my favourite pork producers in Wales is Nant Du Pork. Nant Du Pork is reared by Rob and Fiona Park at Cwmcrwth Farm. I discovered them a few years ago and now regularly seek out their pork at farmers markets and food festivals.

Rob and Fiona started pig farming about 6 years ago. They started with 2 pigs and now have 150. Mr A and I went out to the farm for a visit to try to gain a better understanding as to what it was that made me love their pork so much.
The first thing that hit me as Rob was showing us around the farm is how much he loves his pigs. Some of the pigs on the farm that are old and past being productive for him but still he gives them a good home and loves to go to their pens just to have a chat and scratch them behind the ears. Rob also loves the breed of pig he keeps. He chose to keep Oxford Sandy & Black pigs, not only because he feels they produce the best quality meat but because they are a very friendly breed.

Oxford Sandy & Black Pigs in a Field

Oxford Sandy & Black Pigs

We went into some of the pens of sows with their young, and they were quite content to have us approach their babes. The boars as well were very calm and gentle. You can see that Rob really enjoys the time he spends with his pigs.

Scratching the head of a freindly sow

A Friendly Sow

This love for his animals is demonstrated as well in the care he gives them. They have outdoor pens; sows with their piglets have colourful huts where the sow can nurse her babes. Rob says that good husbandry is essential for a healthy herd and it’s a healthy herd that produces quality meat. The huts are kept immaculately clean and the pigs are given a mixture of good quality feed as well as home grown veg.

Colourful Pig Pens

Colourful Pig Pens

A major difference is that commercial pigs are ready for the market in 4 months but traditional breeds, like the Oxford Sandy & Black that Rob rears, take 7 to 8 months before they are ready to go to market. These additional months help to make the pig tastier. In addition, Rob says that you can’t breed a traditional pig as often as a commercial one and therefore he gets a better quality litter which gives better meat.

Suckling Piglets

Litter Of Piglets Suckling

So after my day on the farm with Rob, I am convinced that love, care, husbandry, and rearing a traditional breed of pig all add up to great tasting pork! If you haven’t tried their pork yet have a look at their online shop.

At the end of our tour of the farm, Rob and Fiona invited us for brunch…obviously starring their homemade sausages and bacon!

Brunch of Nant Du Pork Sausages and Bacon

Brunch Of Nant Du Pork Sausages And Bacon

Absolutely delicious and, of course, I couldn’t leave the farm without buying some pork to cook at home!

Nant Du Pork Joint

Nant Du Pork Joint

I bought a lovely loin of pork on the bone which I simply prepared as follows:

  • I got Mr A to score the skin for me as he loves a good piece of crackling.
  • I then poured boiling hot water on the skin being careful not to get the flesh wet.
  • I then dried the skin.
  • In a mortar and pestle, I then bashed up some sea salt, thyme, rosemary and black pepper and rubbed this into the skin and let it rest until I was ready to cook it.
Pork Joint now scored and seasoned

Pork Joint Now Scored And Seasoned

  • Before roasting, I seasoned the meat with salt pepper and more herbs, cut an onion in half and put the meat on top, skin side up.
  • Into a 240c oven for 30 minutes and down to 170c until it was cooked.
Roast Pork Joint showing Crackling

Just Look At That Crackling

Roast Pork, Steamed Potatoes and garden vegetables.

Roast Pork, Steamed Potatoes And Garden Veg.

A lovely slice of roast pork

A lovely Slice Of Roast Pork

I also love their belly pork, a cut I adore, done with oriental flavours. I marinated the pork in soy sauce, rice vinegar, tamarind pulp, honey, star anise and Chinese five spice. I cooked the pork slowly in the marinade at 160c for 2 hours (covered in foil and at the end, turned up the heat to 240 taking foil off to get a crispy skin.

Nant Du Belly Pork with Greens

Nant Du Belly Pork With Greens

If you want to visit the farm, you can. Rob and Fiona have 3 charming and beautifully appointed self-catering cottages for rent and offer a series of courses and special weekends for the whole family. In addition to the pigs, they keep horses, chickens, sheep, rabbits, and have very friendly and playful dogs! Fiona also sells beautiful blankets made from the fleece of their Cotswold sheep!

Blanket Made From Cotswold Sheeps Wool

Blanket Made From Cotswold Sheeps Wool

Cwmcrwth Farm Cottages

Cwmcrwth Farm Cottages

One of The Cottage Kitchens

One Of The Cottage Kitchens

Fiona And One Of The Horses

Fiona And One Of The Horses

Rob & Fiona Park
Nant Du Pork
Cwmcrwth Farm
Broadoak
Llandeilo
Carmarthenshire
SA32 8QP

Tel: 01558 669160
Web: http://www.cwmcrwthfarmcottages.co.uk

Jul 4

Diddy Dutch PancakesThe fine folks at Abra-Ca-Debora contacted me to see if I would like to try a new product they have launched, their Diddy Dutch Pancakes. These mini pancakes are about the size of a 50p piece. And when I first saw them I thought, these would make a perfect after school snack for kids.

The instructions on the bag say to heat for 30 seconds in a microwave and eat as is or dip them in some melted chocolate and sprinkle with nuts.

Well today I was in the mood for elevenses and I thought to myself, “hmm what can I do with these Diddy Dutch Pancakes?”. Of course tapping into my American roots, I made a little dipping sauce by nuking some butter, maple syrup and golden plum jam in a small bowl. I then made a cup of tea and heated the pancakes. I tried one right out of the bag and I must say, I had to hold myself back so that these little gems made it onto the plate or into the photos

Tea and Diddy Dutch Pancakes

Tea and Diddy Dutch Pancakes

The pancakes are puffy and light and utterly moreish, and were so scrummy with my fast dipping sauce.

To heck with the kids, eat them yourself!

COMPETITION

The nice people at Big Fish, Abra-Ca-Debra’s PR Company have promised me another 5 bags of these delicious treats to give away to 5 readers of this blog (don’t worry dear readers I will not enter and try to win).

HOW TO ENTER
Simply leave a comment below, telling us what you would most like to dip your Diddy Dutch Pancakes in.

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Saturday 13th July 2013.
  • The competition is open to U.K. residents only, sorry.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries.
  • The editors decison is final and no correspondence will be entered into
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • The prize is one packet of Abra-Ca-Debora Diddy Dutch Pancakes, as shown above, and includes free delivery anywhere in the UK.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Big Fish Design Limited.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Corpulent Capers accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • One blog entry per person only.
  • Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email. If no response is received within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Corpulent Capers received review samples from Big Fish.

This competition is now closed and winners have been notified.
ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

May 9
Lavender Infused Shortbread Recipe
posted by: Gomez in Products, Recipe on May 9th, 2013 | | No Comments »

Taste teh Difference Infused SugarsThe nice people at Sainsbury’s recently sent me some of their new Taste the Difference infused sugars to try. Available in lavender, vanilla and cinnamon they are designed to replace standard sugars in recipes. I’ve infused sugar with vanilla and cinnamon, myself, in the past but never lavender so I was eager to try this one out.

Shortbread was the obvious easy to make choice and so I fired up the oven and got to baking.  The sugars are very fragrant and I was a little unsure about whether or not I should replace all the sugar with the lavender infused version or just mix it 50/50.

In the end I decide to just go for it and substituted it 100%.  Despite the incredibly strong aroma of lavender the cookies are actually very subtle in taste and the lavender is not at all over powering.  The flavour builds as you eat and you get a lovely lingering, but gentle lavender taste left after the biscuit is finished.

I took half the batch I made into the office the next day and all my colleagues loved them and want me to make more.  The rest have been happily devoured by myself and MrsA.

The next challenge is what to bake with the others. I’m thinking glazed buns for the cinnamon sugar and doughnuts for the vanilla.  If you have any better ideas let me know in the comment section below and I might just give your idea  a go.

Here’s the recipe I used for the Lavender Infused Shortbreads –

Lavender Infused Shortbread Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A traditional shortbread biscuit made with Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Lavender Infused Sugar
Author:
Recipe type: Biscuit
Cuisine: British
Ingredients
  • 500g (2 packs) softened, salted butter
  • 200g Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Lavender Infused Sugar
  • 500g plain flour
  • 250g rice flour
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F
  2. In a large bowl and using either a hand or electric whisk, cream together the sugar and the butter
  3. In small batches sift in the plain and rice flour mixing thoroughly between batches until it binds together.
  4. Flour your hands and knead gently until smooth but do not over-work.
  5. Wrap the dough in cling film and put in the fridge for about half and hour. This will make it easier to roll.
  6. After about 30 minutes remove the dough from the fridge and discard the cling film.
  7. On a well floured surface roll the dough out until it is about 6 or 7mm (1/4 inch) thick.
  8. Using a suitably sized pastry cutter (mine was a 9cm scalloped edged) cut out your biscuits.
  9. Lay them on a baking tray(s) lined with a sheet of baking paper.
  10. Gather up any excess dough, re-roll it and cut more biscuits, maybe using smaller cutter as the dough gets used up.
  11. Place the tray(s) in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until they are just starting to turn golden.
  12. Remove from the oven, sprinkle them with some more of the sugar and leave them for 10 minutes before carefully transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  13. Eat the same day or store in an air tight container where they should last for a few days (but I bet they don't)!

Disclosure: The Lavender Infused Sugar in this recipe was supplied by Sainsbury, all other ingredients were bought by us.

May 5

As I write this it’s early April and Spring weather has not come to Wales yet! Since it is, effectively, still winter in Wales, I thought I would bring some Spring to my cooking! I thought back to my days as a student in France. My roommate, Sophie, was from Provence and I was often invited home with her for the weekend where her mother, Mrs. L. would cook some amazing meals.

One of the most simple but wonderful meals she showed me how to cook is a Provencal dish, Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. Do not be afraid of the large quantity of garlic. Slow cooking mellows the garlic so that it becomes a creamy and buttery puree that enhances the flavour of the chicken.

Roast Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Cooking equipment needed: Ovenproof pot large enough to hold the chicken with a tight fitting lid.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: French
Ingredients
  • 1 large chicken
  • ¼ to ½ cup of olive oil
  • 40 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of Pommery Meaux Mustard (If you can not find this brand of mustard, look for a medium strength whole grain mustard)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • For serving: toasted slices of country bread
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 190c
  2. Rub the inside of the chicken with the 1 tablespoon of mustard.

  3. Then sprinkle the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  4. Stuff the chicken with the fresh herbs and 6 of the garlic cloves.

  5. Place the chicken in a pot that is just big enough to hold it

  6. Pour some of the olive oil over the chicken ensuring that the chicken is nicely coated with the oil.
  7. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken

  8. Strew the remain cloves of garlic around the chicken and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the garlic.

  9. Cover tightly and bake in the oven for about 1/1/2 hours until golden brown and cooked through.

  10. Allow the chicken to rest for about 20 minutes before carving.
Notes
To serve: Carve the chicken and put on a platter surrounded by the cloves of garlic. Put the cooking juices in a sauceboat. Serve the chicken with crusty bread. Mash the garlic lightly to remove it from its skin and then spread on the bread or on the chicken.

This blog post has been sponsored by Thomson Al Fresco UK. If you are looking for an affordable vacation. Thomson Al Fresco has self catering mobile homes and family camping holidays in France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Croatia.

This dish would be a wonderful and easy dish whilst enjoying your Thomson Al Fresco self-catering holiday in France!

Thomson Al Fresco generously gave to me a wonderful French Hamper from French Flavour Limited. French Flavour carries a wide selection of French products.  The Pommery Moutarde de Meaux was in the hamper.

Contact details:-
Thomson Al Fresco
www.thomsonalfresco.co.uk
Tel: 0843 636 2644

French Flavour Ltd
Unit F16
Bersham Enterprise Centre
Colliery Road
Rhostyllen
Wrexham
LL14 4EG
www.frenchflavour.co.uk
Tel: 01978 356835

Mar 24
Geisha Coffee
posted by: Gomez in Products on Mar 24th, 2013 | | 3 Comments »

Geisha Coffee TinOne of the many ways that I deviate from the stereotypical Brit is that I don’t drink tea. I am not a fan, I don’t like the taste, I don’t like the aftertaste and I don’t like the way that it seems to leave a coating in my mouth like a MSG heavy meal. So for me it’s coffee all the way.

So I was very happy when I was offered a sample of Geisha, currently one of the most rare and desired coffees around. Specifically grown on the Coffea Diversa plantation in Costa Rica, close to the Panamanian border, Great Taste Gold award-winning Geisha is one of the most sought after types of coffee trees with green beans (that haven’t yet been roasted) selling for a staggering $130 a pound.

I was just about to strip and clean my old faithful Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine in readiness when my sample arrived and, lo and behold, it was marked as cafetiere ground. This was pleasant surprise, as these days I seem to use my cafetiere much more often than I fire up the espresso machine.

Making a trial brew taught me two things really fast, I needed an extra scoop of coffee in the cafetiere and serving this coffee too hot just kills the flavour. Okay Gomez, lesson learnt, this is not your average supermarket supplied brand; let’s try that again.

Ah, that’s better! So what can I tell you about it? Consistency wise, it’s quite thin, probably from a lighter roast, but in no way is it wishy-washy. It’s actually quite full bodied and the aroma in the cup is sweet with hints of caramel.

As I’ve already said the flavour of Geisha is best at moderate temperatures, but the good think is that the flavour profile doesn’t change as the temperature drops so this is a coffee you can linger over and savour.

So who should drink it? Well, everyone that’s looking for a coffee with a clean, clear taste but still wants something that, although delicate, is still full of flavour.

What the importers say :- The plantation is incredibly special as it grows the largest number of different coffee varieties in the world. Coffea Diversa has pioneered the botanical garden approach to coffee cultivation in which aspect the Estate remains unique.

Geisha, one of the Ethiopian wild and extremely rare coffee varieties, boasts a soft, delicate profile with quietly complex aromatics that reward patient attention with notes of lavender, cocoa and hints of molasses – varying from woody to melons to a mix of sugar and spices. A rich, sweet and spicy aroma with a smooth taste and a thin body full of flavor and acidity.

Available via Knightsbridge based Sea Island Coffee, importers and retailers of gourmet coffees sourced from some of the finest and exclusive coffee growing regions in the world, Geisha is priced at £8 for 125g.

Mar 17

Occasionally we receive a new product to sample. Recently we received 3 different Tomato Purées from Sainsbury: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Italian Cherry Tomato Purée with Basil, Italian Tomato Purée with Garlic, and Italian Tomato Purée with Chilli.

Sainsbury's Tomato Purées

Sainsbury’s Tomato Purées

To my taste, the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Italian Cherry Tomato Purée with Basil was the star of the show! The tomato flavour is bright and fruity which is then enhanced by the fresh aromatic basil flavour. The next time I make my home made tomato basil soup, I will add in some of this tomato purée to enhance the flavour.

The tomato purée with garlic and tomato purée with chilli are good standard tomato purées that will add a very subtle hint of either chilli of garlic to your casseroles and stews. I used the tomato purée with garlic in a lamb casserole. There was no overpowering taste of garlic. Of  course you can always add your normal amount of garlic and chilli to your dish and use these purées to boost the flavour.

Feb 24
Red Nose Day Cookie Challenge 2013
posted by: Gomez in News, Recipe on Feb 24th, 2013 | | 4 Comments »

rednosedayA couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from the nice people at Sainsbury’s, long-time supporters of Comic Relief, asking if I’d like to take part in their Red Nose Day Cookie Challenge. The idea was that to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Red Nose Day, I and others would bake and decorate a ‘comedic cookie creation’. Sainsbury’s would choose their top five favourite designs as finalists, but the eventual winner would be chosen by the votes of Sainsbury’s 610,000 Facebook fans.

I said yes without really thinking and found myself struggling to come up with a design. I decided that creating a cookie that looked like a Red Nose would be far too obvious and that I needed to find something a little more ‘off the wall’.

I took inspiration from one of the starters that I had previously seen on this year’s Great British Menu, and so ‘Beans Means Dosh’, as I call it, was born.

My design, is supposed to depict that age-old fundraising favourite of sitting in a bath of baked beans.

Beans Means Dosh - Red Nose Cookie Competition

Beans Means Dosh – Red Nose Cookie Challenge Competition Entry

First I went looking for a cookie recipe, in the American cookbooks we have in the cupboard. All the American cookie recipes seem to contain egg, which I decided must be there to help with the chewy consistency they prefer. As chewiness was not something I was looking for I decided to fall back on my standard plain biscuit recipe, a kind of not so short shortbread.

I baked three different sizes of cookie for the bath; I ended up using the middle sized one which measures approximately 17cm x 8cm. The large one was too fragile and broke and the small one just looked completely the wrong scale.

I built the bath edging from white icing, the figure was constructed from marzipan and the baked beans the cut off ends of orange jelly beans from the supermarket pick and mix. I used a tube of orange cake decorators icing to fill in the gaps.

I have included the recipe below, together with instructions, should you wish to give it a try yourselves. Alternatively you can buy mine for a suitably sized donation to Comic Relief.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Red Nose Day Cookie Challenge 2013
 
Beans Means Dosh - My entry for Sainsbury's Red Nose Day Cookie Challenge
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Ingredients
Cookie
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 110g Caster sugar
  • 275g Plain flour
Icing
  • 100g icing sugar - sieved
  • 15ml water
  • Or you can just buy ready made icing in a tube.
Decoration
  • 1 Block of Marzipan
  • 1 Set Writing Icing Pens (Make sure 1 is orange)
  • 125g Orange Jelly Beans
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 170c
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and until it is soft (you can use a food mixer) Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift the flour into the mixture and using a figure of eight motion bring it all together to form a dough.
  4. Shape into a ball using your hands, wrap in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
  5. Cut about a quarter of the dough and using your hands and a rolling pin shape into a slab about 15cm by 7cm by 0.75cm thick (it will expand during cooking)
  6. Carefully lift the dough and place onto a greased (I use butter) baking tray in the center of your oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they have a light brown colour.
  7. As you have plenty of dough I would suggest making at least two cookie bases.Cookie Base
    Roll any left over dough into 3cm balls, flatten with the palm of your hand and bake as simple biscuits. Just make sure that you leave enough distance between everything on the baking tray to allow for expansion.
  8. Carefully remove from the baking tray and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  9. Mix the sieved icing sugar and water together in a basin
  10. Beat until smooth.
    The icing should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it's too thin add more icing sugar, if too thick a few drops of water. Either way do it a little by little.
  11. If you have made your own icing now spoon it into a piping bag with a flat nozzle.
  12. You might find it easier to put the cookie base on a small board to make it easier to handle and rotate.
  13. First build the bath edges from your icing.
    Using a flat nozzle pipe icing around the edge of the base. Once you have completed the first layer you can then pipe another one inside the first so your edge is 2 wide. Then you can repeat the process on top of the first layers. I did three layers on mine. You can smooth out the edges by dipping the tip of your finger in a glass of water and smoothing the icing.Cookie Bath Edging
  14. Next construct the figure.
    Cut off a piece of the marzipan and form a block approximately three quarters of the width of the distance between the bath edges and about 3cm high. This will be the body.
  15. Take two smaller pieces of marzipan and roll to form the arms (see picture). I used a knife to make 3 small cuts into the end of the arms to give the illusion of hands.
  16. Take another two small pieces and flatten for the feet. Again make some cuts to imply toes.
  17. Stick all these pieces onto the base using some of the left over icing.
  18. Using the orange writing icing outline the inside edge of the bath also tracing round the body, arms and feet.Figure in Bath
  19. On a chopping board and using a sharp knife cut the ends off the jelly beans so that you have a lot of small orange domes. These will be our baked beans.Jelly Beans
  20. Using a drop of the orange writing icing as a glue stick these domes onto the base to fill in the space.Making the Beans
  21. Then using the orange writing icing again, fill in all the gaps between the jelly bean domes.
  22. Finally make two further marzipan balls, one for the head and one for the nose. Stick the nose onto the head using the icing. As my writing icing also contained red, green and yellow tubes I coloured the nose red, for obvious reasons, added a stripe for a mouth and two small dots of green for eyes. I then stuck the head to the body again using the icing.The Finished Cookie
  23. Stand back and admire!Finished Item

 

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