Make Your Perfect Burger with myBURGERbox

A couple of months ago, I was excited to see on Twitter that a new monthly treat box was launching. One that made my mouth water just thinking about it. A gourmet burger treat box called myBURGERbox. I absolutely love burgers. Real burgers, not the cardboard-resembling type sold in certain fast food restaurants. I just had to sign up!

Tara, who is the genius behind the box, has a background in food and cooking and is passionate about supporting and promoting British independent and family businesses. She gets all of the meat she uses from small-scale farmers who put the welfare of their animals first, making sure they are naturally fed and free to roam, so you know that the products she sends are all of excellent quality.

I was really looking forward to receiving the first box in December. I hadn’t imagined how much would actually be included in the box though! Tara really thinks of everything you could possibly need to make the best ever burger! I signed up to the myBURGERbox for 2 people, and this is what I received:

  • 2 x 6oz Aberdeen Angus Prime Beef Burgers
  • 2 x sesame seed topped buns
  • 4 different cheeses – Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton, Extra Mature Cheddar, Cornish Brie, and Yorkshire Wensleydale with Cranberries
  • Denhay Dry Cured Bacon
  • 3 sauces – The Bay Tree Creamy Classic Mayonnaise, Prairie Fire BBQ Original Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce, and Hawkshead Relish Company Black Garlic Ketchup
  • Pea Shoots and Baby Leaves from Steve’s Leaves in Hampshire
  • Cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • Sliced red onion
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Extra snack goodies – Get Buzzing Banana Nut Free Flapjack, and 2 packs of Inka Snacks Gourmet Salted Roasted Giant Corn

There were also paper napkins and leaflets explaining where the various ingredients came from, which I thought was a wonderful idea.

The only thing the box doesn’t come with is instructions on how to make your burger. This is because burger preferences are so personal to each individual. Some people like to fry theirs, others grill them. Some like them pink and juicy, others prefer them well done. Some people like the cheese melted, others prefer it left as slices. Some people like the onions fried, others like them raw… it really is all down to your own choice. That applies to the order in which you stack your burger too. You can put it all together however you fancy.

If you’re interested in my preferences though, I cook my burgers and bacon in my George Foreman grill, until the burgers are just very slightly pink inside, and the bacon is crispy. I then top the burger with my cheese of choice, and place it under the grill for a moment to allow the cheese to melt. The first thing I place on my bun is the salad, tomatoes and any vegetables, but not the onion yet. On top of this goes the crispy bacon, and that gets smothered in whichever sauce I prefer. Then it’s the turn of the star of the show, the cheese-topped burger. And finally that gets topped with raw red onions, and of course the top of the bun.

There were more than enough ingredients for 2 burgers, and we even had some left over to use with other meals at a later date. The snacks were scrumptious, and I can honestly say the burger was phenomenal!

I really really love burgers but don’t like ordering them in restaurants as I don’t like eating “messy” food in public. Crazy I know but I get self-conscious eating things that bits might fall off, or which I’d have to take giant bites out of. If I ever do order a burger anywhere, I’ll be the one sat eating it with a knife and fork. Where’s the fun in that!? You need to get a mouthful of all the different parts together to really appreciate the taste, but I miss out on that in restaurants. This makes myBURGERbox extra special for me. I get to enjoy restaurant quality… actually no, BETTER than restaurant quality, burgers in the comfort of my own home, where I can pile them high and it doesn’t matter how much mess I get into. And they are cooked and served EXACTLY the way I like.

December’s box impressed me so much I ordered the next box too, and I can’t imagine I’ll ever stop it. January’s box was again jam-packed with wonderful products:

This one had

  • 2 x 6oz Sussex Limousin Beef Burgers from Conisbee Farm in Surrey
  • 4 rashers of dry cured back bacon, also from Conisbee Farm
  • 3 cheeses – Shropshire Blue from Long Clawson Dairy, Cornish Brie from Cornish Country Larder, and Keen’s Somerset Cheddar
  • 3 sauces – Great British Sauce Co. Proper Tomato Sauce, The Garlic Farm Onion Marmalade with Garlic, and PS Food Products Twisted Chilli Mayonnaise
  • 2 brioche buns
  • A salad box containing mixed leaves, sweet baby peppers, and an assortment of mini tomatoes
  • Sliced red onions
  • Sun-dried tomatoes and olives
  • Cranberry and cashew nut mix
  • 2 x Wildings Snacks Duck Crackling
  • 2 x Cut and Dried vegetable snacks

As you can tell from both boxes, only top quality artisan products are used so your burger will be amazingly good. My partner likes burgers, but they are not his meal of choice. He loved December’s though, and he said January’s was the best burger he had ever eaten in his entire life. His previous favourite had been one in America, but he said this beat that. In fact, he said that he would happily eat a burger for every meal for the rest of his life if they were all as good as the myBURGERbox ones. High praise indeed!

You can genuinely taste the quality in all of the ingredients, and it is wonderful to be able to try such a variety of accompaniments.

In case you are wondering how it all arrives on delivery day, Tara and her team make sure it all reaches you in tip-top condition. The meats are packed in boxes with ice packs and insulated sheets to keep them chilled:

They are sent via Royal Mail First Class post so you should receive them the next day after they are sent, but the ingredients will be perfectly fine in the box for up to 48 hours, in case for any reason there is a delay with Royal Mail. On both occasions the ingredients in my boxes were lovely and cold and ready to cook.

The boxes will always contain British burgers including some from rare and heritage breeds. They won’t always be beef though. In future boxes there will be lamb, venison, pork, and chicken, and for more adventurous people you’ll be able to try more unusual meats such as ostrich and goat. Bacon will nearly always be included too as it is so wonderful on burgers. There will always also be a selection of cheeses, sauces, toppings and salad leaves, as well as random extras from British artisan companies. The extra goodies so far have been delicious, and it has been great to discover brands I would not have otherwise heard about.

You can order myBURGERbox for one or two people, and for 1, 3 or 6 months. For one person it is £14.95, and for 2 it is £24.50. Postage is included in the price making these boxes fantastic value, especially when you look at the brands being used. Boxes are always shipped on the Thursday nearest the 11th of the month so you will get it on the Friday ready to enjoy over the weekend. The next box will be delivered on the 9th/10th February, and if you would like to try it you will need to order by the 4th of February. If you order after that date you will receive the March box instead, which will be delivered on the 9th/10th March.

To find out more or to place your order to try this superb box for yourself, CLICK HERE to go to their website. You can even order it as a gift for someone else! What a brilliant idea.

What ingredients would you need for your perfect burger? Let me know in the comments so I can drool over your suggestions too 🙂

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Review of ‘Not Guilty’ by Chef Mick Élysée – including his scrumptious recipe for Plantain Pancakes

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to be part of the blog tour helping to promote Chef Mick Élysée’s new book, Not Guilty. I have to admit, until this tour I hadn’t heard of Mick (sorry), but I am so glad I have now been introduced to his recipes!

Before I tell you about the wonderful new book, let me tell you about Chef Mick Élysée, as his story is inspirational.

Mick grew up in the Republic of Congo, where he loved watching his mother cooking, and sneakily pinching food from the pot when she wasn’t looking. Sadly though, his happy life was soon to be turned upside down. In 1993, at the height of the Congolese Civil War, several of his family were killed. This meant that at the age of 14, Mick arrived in France as a refugee and had to adapt to a new life in an unfamiliar culture. He struggled academically, as he was not used to the French school system, but his passion for food shone through and gave him the strength to get through this traumatic time. He devoted his time to learning all about European cuisine, and in 1997 he was accepted into one of France’s most prestigious culinary schools. There, he began his classical training and worked under Michel Toulousi and Jean-Marc Desclaux. At the age of 22, just 8 years after arriving in France, Mick and his business partner opened a restaurant called La Gascogne, which received critical acclaim.

Today, Mick’s roots in the Congo play a huge part in his life. As well as the influence they have in his Afro-Fusion recipes, he is also passionate about giving back to the communities there. He regularly works with orphanages in Brazzaville and Kinshasa, and with a free school for children with physical and mental disabilities. He also provides cookery workshops for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as educational support to equip them with life skills. What a truly amazing man!

Mick’s long-awaited book Not Guilty was published just a few weeks ago. It features healthy African recipes including starters, snacks, main meals and desserts, as well as stocks to use as bases for other dishes. Every recipe has a beautiful vibrant photograph of the end result as well as step-by-step instructions on how to make them. The photographs are mouth-wateringly tempting, and I’m looking forward to making lots more of them in the near future. The book has encouraged me to look at ingredients I have never used before, and that really excites me. Exotic fruit and vegetables, and meats I have never eaten let alone cooked, this book takes you on a wonderful taste adventure.

I was tempted by lots of the recipes but decided to make the Plantain Pancakes for this review. This is the photograph in the book:

I had never eaten plantain until making these, and the recipe requires 1 very ripe plantain. As I was unfamiliar with cooking with plantain I did a bit of research so I could tell when one was ready to use. I had presumed they would be like bananas as they look so similar, but I was wrong! Plantains are used in both sweet and savoury cooking. Many savoury recipes require them to be very hard and not too ripe. In those cases it would be best to use plantains when the skin is still green. The riper the plantain, the sweeter it becomes. The shop where I bought mine sold them when they looked yellow. These are ripe, but not quite enough. I discovered that they can take weeks to fully ripen, unlike bananas which take a few days. I didn’t have weeks after I had bought mine so I read that you can ripen them quicker by placing them in a paper bag with an apple. The apple produces a gas which aids the process. I did this with one of the ones I bought, and it worked! The one in my main picture is nowhere near ripe enough, even though it is looking a bit blackened. A perfectly ripened plantain has a black skin which looks very slightly wrinkled. Imagine the look of a banana when it is too far gone to even use in recipes… that is how a very ripe plantain looks, and that is how it needs to be for this recipe. I used one like this in the pancake recipe.

To get the fruit out of the skin, simply slice each end off with a sharp knife and cut a slit from one end to the other. You can then easily peel the skin off in one go. Very ripe plantain is soft and a lovely yellowy-peachy colour inside. This means it is really easy to blend in recipes. And speaking of recipes, here is the pancake one for you to try too.

 

PLANTAIN PANCAKES

1 very ripe plantain

2 fresh eggs

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 tbsps semi-skimmed, or almond, or coconut milk

1/2 vanilla pod

150g strawberries, cut into chunks

2 tbsps honey

coconut oil, for frying (1 tsp per pancake + 1 tbsp for the topping)

 

  • Split the vanilla pod in half lengthwise, and then use the tip of a knife to scrape the seeds out. Combine the plantain, eggs, cinnamon, milk and vanilla seeds, and blend together until you get a creamy paste. (I did this in a food processor by blending the plantain first until it was lump-free and creamy, then beating in the rest of the ingredients with a spoon).
  • Place a frying pan over a low heat, add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, and fry one pancake until the bottom is golden brown. Flip it over and cook until that side is golden too. Repeat until the mixture is all used up, using 1 teaspoon of coconut oil for each pancake.
  • Using the same frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Add the strawberries, stir quickly to coat them in the oil, then add the honey. Cook for 1 minute until the juice reduces slightly, then remove from the heat.
  • Place the pancakes on a serving plate, spoon the strawberries on top, and then finish with the honey sauce.

 

So what did I think of my very first plantain experience? I loved it! The coconut oil adds a wonderful flavour, and the strawberry honey sauce adds an extra hit of sweetness which is just divine. My honey sauce took on the colour of the strawberries and went a lovely shade of red, so it didn’t look like the photograph in the book but it still tasted amazing! I am looking forward to making more of Chef Mick Élysée’s delicious recipes very soon. His Jollof Quinoa and Roast Chicken, and his Papaya Tart recipes are next on my agenda from this book. Yum!

If you would like to find out more about Chef Mick Élysée and his new book, including where to buy it, you can find his website HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Conserve and Custard Tarts – a Fruity Alternative to Mince Pies

I don’t know about you, but I think mince pies are so over-rated. Controversial I know, but there’s something about mincemeat that sets my teeth on edge. I’m ok with it if it is a tiny amount or it is drowned in custard, but otherwise I’m not a fan. But everyone has mince pies with a drink at Christmas, so what do you have if you don’t like them? With the help of the wonderful BODDINGTON’S BERRIES you can enjoy a lovely sweet custard tart with a fruity festive flavour, and it is so easy to make!

This year they have brought out 2 special Christmas products: a beautiful Christmas Chutney which I talk about in THIS POST and a deliciously indulgent Christmas Conserve. Both of these products are absolutely heavenly, and this Christmas Conserve really has the Wow factor! Boddington’s Berries kindly sent me a jar to try in some recipes, and my first thought was how good it would be in these little tarts. I have made these tarts before using mincemeat, and until now that was my alternative to mince pies. That has changed now as the updated version with this conserve is much much more delicious!

Before I give you the recipe, let me tell you about the Christmas Conserve, as this… is… amazing!

As you can see, it is packaged beautifully with a Christmassy label, and on the side of this it says,

“This conserve captures all the festive flavours. Made from oranges, strawberries, cranberries and a magical spoonful of cinnamon and cloves. Serve on fruit toast in front of a crackling fire”

I love that serving suggestion. I can imagine sitting in front of a fire doing exactly that. That would be a perfect Christmas Day breakfast too!

This Conserve is jam-packed with fruit (no pun intended) and the combination used is absolutely perfect. The addition of the cinnamon and cloves means it really is Christmas in a jar. I have ordered more of this so we can enjoy a Christmas cream tea on Christmas Eve when all the preparations are done and we can finally relax. I am really looking forward to that! This Conserve on freshly baked scones with a dollop of clotted cream will be divine!!! (If you fancy the sound of that too, order a jar today to make sure you have it in time for Christmas, and THIS RECIPE is the best one I have ever tried for scones. Trust me, you will LOVE this conserve on scones).

Back to my recipe. These tarts are made with a beautiful sweet cinnamon pastry which complements the conserve well. You can make your own custard for the tarts if you prefer but they work so well with ready-made custard, so I just use that. Christmas bakes for me are all about great taste with minimal fuss as there is always soooooo much to do, so the occasional cheat is allowed 😉 As this Christmas Conserve is such high quality and high in fruit, it doesn’t bubble up and overflow like normal jam often does in tarts. This means you can use more of it in these as it stays perfectly where you place it.

Here is the recipe:

 

CHRISTMAS CONSERVE AND CUSTARD TARTS

225 g plain flour

115 g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus extra for greasing the pan

85 g caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

300 ml ready-made custard

4 rounded tablespoons ground almonds

1 jar Boddington’s Berries Christmas Conserve (you won’t use it all, don’t worry)

Toasted flaked almonds, to sprinkle on top

Icing sugar, to dust

  • Sieve the flour into a bowl and then use your fingertips to rub the butter in to it, until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar and cinnamon and mix it all together. Add the beaten egg and, using a round ended knife, mix the egg in to the flour mixture as best as you can. Use your hand to press any dry bits in to the pastry mixture. Press it all together until it becomes a nice smooth ball. It will feel a bit sticky but that is perfect. Wrap it in clingfilm or foil and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Lightly grease a 12 hole muffin pan.
  • Mix the custard and the ground almonds together.
  • When the pastry has chilled, gently press it together until it is soft enough to roll out. Dust your worktop with flour and roll out your pastry to about 4 mm thickness. Use a large round cutter to cut out circles.
  • Press the pastry circles in to the muffin pan cavities. The pastry sides should go at least halfway up the pan. (If you have cut your pastry thick enough you can gently press the sides to make the pastry go higher up the sides if needed).
  • Add 1 heaped teaspoon of almond custard to each pastry case, and then add a teaspoon of Christmas Conserve on the middle of the custard. (If you have pressed your pastry cases high up the sides of the pan you can add a bit more of each filling). Sprinkle a few toasted flaked almonds over the top.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for around 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.
  • Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently remove them using a small spatula or knife to ease them out.
  • Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or cold.

Depending on how high you made your pastry cases, you will probably have enough pastry and filling to make 4-6 more tarts.

The custard puffs up while the tarts are baking but don’t worry, it does deflate a bit when they are ready.

I hope you like these as much as we all do in my house!

To buy this delicious Christmas Conserve, CLICK HERE to go to directly to the product on the Boddington’s Berries website. Delivery is free so grab some quick in time for Christmas! Happy Baking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing Photographs to Life with BackdropsByLucy

As a blogger I am always trying to find ways to make my photographs look more appealing. First impressions are so important, and that means pictures need to stand out. If something doesn’t look enticing, no one is going to want to engage with it, be it food, or any other product.

I recently read an article which was all about the tricks that some food photographers use to make their food look perfect. I was gobsmacked to learn that often, what you think is beautifully edible food isn’t really at all! For example, fruit is sprayed with all sorts of varnishes to make it look shiny. Cereal doesn’t turn to a soggy splodge in a bowl of milk as it would normally, as it isn’t really milk in many photos; it is PVA glue! And did you know that often when you are looking at what you think is a scrumptious scoop of ice cream, it is really coloured mashed potato??? I prefer my photographs to be what they are actually meant to be. No substitutes. No tricks. But I was also aware that my photographs needed something extra, something to make them come alive.

With this in mind I was over the moon when I saw that BACKDROPSBYLUCY were looking for bloggers to try their new backdrops in their photography.

I already owned a backdrop from another company but it was so much of a hassle to set it up that I just managed without it. It was made out of material and was sent folded up in a bag as it was huge, and no matter how much I ironed it the creases from the folds just wouldn’t come out. The material was very thin and floppy, and had to be taped extensively to the wall to keep it in place. And god help you if you spilt anything on it! I used it once and felt so frustrated at the process of setting it up that I vowed I wouldn’t use it again!

The backdrop that BackdropsByLucy sent to me was poles apart from the one I already owned. It arrived rolled up in a thick cardboard tube, which is also then used to store it in when you don’t need it. As soon as I unrolled it I could tell it was fantastic quality.

All of their backdrops are made from thick PVC, which means they are completely waterproof, tearproof, and can be wiped clean very easily. As the PVC is so thick, when you unroll the backdrop it immediately lies flat. No creases, no upturned edges, no hassle. Lucy is a professional photographer, and all of the designs on the backdrops are actual photographs that she has taken herself. I love the range of designs she has. Wood, marble, suede, concrete, chalkboard… too many to list! If you CLICK HERE you can see the full range for yourself. Aren’t they wonderful?

Not counting my last couple of blog posts (which I used my new backdrop in) you will see that previous photographs in my posts featured my very plain magnolia wall background, or my kitchen worktop, or my table. The photographs were the best I thought I could do at that time. Since having my backdrop though the photography side of blogging fills me with a lot more excitement than it used to! I finally feel that my photographs look more professional and their colours are exploding against the backdrop! I have a long way to go still with my photography skills but Lucy’s website is full of tips and if you contact her for any advice she is super helpful. I have learnt so much already.

In fact I was so impressed with the backdrop and the difference it makes that I ordered another one. And I will definitely be ordering more! You can choose to have them in A1 or A2 size, and they have a matt finish so that you don’t get any glare from them. You can use one on it’s own or two together. In the photo below I laid one on my worktop and stood the other against the wall, securing it easily in place with just one bit of tape:

Antique Steel lying flat, Ash Cloud standing up

 

In the next picture, which is possibly my favourite so far, I just used one backdrop and leant it up the wall so it was half flat and half upright, and it didn’t matter that tomato juice dripped down on to the backdrop as it was so easy to clean:

Antique Steel

 

The dark backdrops really bring out the colours of the food! Here’s a selection of other photographs I took with these backdrops:

 

All of my photographs are taken using a smartphone camera, and I never thought I would get results with it that I would be proud of. BACKDROPSBYLUCY has given me a new-found confidence and lots of inspiration to take much better photographs with no tricks!

If you are a blogger, retailer, or photographer, I would highly recommend you start using these backdrops. Top quality at an affordable price. What more could you ask for?

 

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the Ash Cloud backdrop for free in exchange for a review. This in no way affects my opinions though. All of my views are 100% honest. The fact that I went on to order another one myself just shows how much I think of these backdrops! And you’ll see plenty more that I buy in future posts. 

Sausage Meat and Chutney Plait Recipe

It is December so I am now officially allowed to talk about one of my favourite times of the year… Christmas! One of the many things I love about Christmas is the range of flavours and aromas of all the beautiful food. Cinnamon, gingerbread, orange, cloves, cranberry, nutmeg, spices… the list goes on.

Boddington’s Berries is a wonderful company who produce delicious high fruit conserves and savoury chutneys from their farm base in Cornwall. They have recently launched 2 new products for the festive period, Christmas Conserve and Christmas Chutney, and they very kindly sent me some to use in recipes.

The Christmas Chutney is packed in a glass jar with a lovely Christmassy label. It put me in a festive mood as soon as I saw it! The label says

“Our tangy Christmas Chutney warms the soul. Made with cranberries, chilli, orange and spices that work together to ensure this chutney packs a punch. Best served with festive meats and cheeses.”

I tried a bit on a piece of extra mature Cheddar and it was wonderful. If you have a cheese board at Christmas, you definitely need to try this chutney! In fact, whatever you are having at Christmas, you need to try this chutney!!!

On Christmas Day in my house I only prepare 2 meals. My son is usually very excited to get on with opening presents when he wakes up, so we have a hot breakfast late. So late that we could call it brunch. Christmas dinner is ready for around 4pm. That means we don’t have a Christmas tea of turkey sandwiches, cold meats etc like many people do. We have that type of meal on Boxing Day instead. One of the things I love to make for that buffet-style feast is a sausage meat plait. It is so easy yet so satisfying. Like a giant sausage roll but prettier. When I say it is easy, that’s because I use ready-made puff pastry. You can of course make your own from scratch, but when I’ve heard enough top chefs and bakers say they often use ready made, then that’s good enough for me! Obviously though this only applies to puff pastry. I make other types from scratch.

I decided to make a trial one with a thin layer of Christmas Chutney inside. The speed at which it disappeared after we had tried a bit tells me that I’ll definitely be making this version again for Boxing day! The red onion, chilli and cranberries go so well with the sausage meat. You can add chopped fresh herbs to the sausage meat if you want but to be honest, you really don’t need to add anything with the amount of flavour that the chutney gives.

Make sure you take your pastry out of the fridge 10 minutes before you plan to start the recipe, as it will crack if you unroll it straight away. Stupidly I forgot to take photos of how to plait the pastry but if you Google it you’ll see plenty of videos and pictures showing you step by step. I’ll explain it as best as I can in the recipe. So here it is:

 

SAUSAGE MEAT AND CHUTNEY PLAIT

1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry (around 320 g)

3 tablespoons Boddington’s Berries Christmas Chutney

450 g sausage meat

small handful of fresh herbs such as coriander, chopped (optional)

1 beaten egg, to glaze

black onion seeds, to decorate

 

  • Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan. Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper.
  • Gently unroll the sheet of puff pastry so that a short end is near you. This just makes it easier to plait.
  • Spread the chutney evenly down the middle of the pastry sheet, leaving a gap at the top and bottom.

  • Place the sausage meat (mixed with herbs, if using) on top of the chutney. Fold the top and bottom edges over the sausage meat, then brush beaten egg on top of these folded edges.
  • Using a sharp knife for neatness, cut the pastry slightly diagonally downwards from the left edge of the filling to the left edge of the pastry. Repeat this all the way down the left side side, leaving about 2 cm between each strip. Repeat on the right hand side of the filling. (Google this stage if it doesn’t make sense).
  • Carefully pick up the first strip at the top and fold it across the filling. It should lie nicely over the top folded edge, at a slight angle downwards. Pick up the top strip on the other side and fold that across the filling, again angled slightly downwards.
  • Repeat, alternating left and right strips, all the way down to the bottom, so it looks like a plait. The bottom strips should lie across the bottom folded edge, sealing it all together.
  • Brush the plait generously with beaten egg, then sprinkle black onion seeds on top.

  • Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown and cooked all the way through.
  • Serve hot or cold.

You could of course use other chutneys in this plait, but I would strongly recommend the Christmas Chutney if you want to really get some festive flavours on your table! It truly is delicious.

Boddington’s Berries can often be found at food fayres but the easiest way to buy their beautiful products is through their website.

Their Christmas Chutney can be found HERE so stock up ready for your festive feast!

 

 

Olive Oil and Grape Cake Recipe

I was recently lucky enough to be sent some delicious punnets of grapes to try from The Grape Artisan, who supplies artisan grapes to Marks and Spencer Food. As well as sending the grapes, they also included a couple of recipes to try (and a bag for when I go and buy more soon hehe).

The recipe card for this delicious cake said to use their Sable grapes, but I had already used those in my ROASTED GRAPES RECIPE.

I decided to use their Sapphire grapes for this cake. They do taste differently to the Sable but I figured any grapes would work, although red or black would look more appetising. The packaging for the Sapphire grapes states

“Exquisitely sweet and deliciously juicy, Sapphire grapes showcase our most outstanding red grapes.”

I can confirm they are both very sweet and very juicy! If I had to pick a favourite grape from the 4 varieties I was sent, this is marginally the one I would choose. The sweet sweet juice is the nectar of the gods.

Back to the recipe. I have to be honest, I was a little bit dubious about how good this would taste. I have seen other recipes in the past for various olive oil cakes, but had always been put off making them because of the oil. Olive oil has such a strong taste, I thought it would overpower any other flavour and be quite unpleasant. I decided to give it a go though, and I’m so glad I did! This recipe produces a beautifully light cake with a delicate lemon and grape taste. You really can’t taste the oil at all! The cake is very easy to make, and is a perfect teatime treat.

The Grape Artisan has very kindly let me share the recipe with you, so here it is for you to enjoy. A couple of tips from my experience of baking it… don’t worry if it looks like the middle is rising into a dome that looks like it might erupt; it does sink down to a normal level! And if it looks like all your grapes have disappeared to the edge of the cake, add a couple more to the centre for the last 5 minutes of baking. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. I will definitely make this again and again. Happy baking!

 

OLIVE OIL AND GRAPE CAKE

125 g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

100 g caster sugar

2 large eggs

100 ml olive oil

3 tbsp milk

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

300 g seedless Sable grapes (or any variety of seedless black or red grapes)

icing sugar, to dust

creme fraiche, to serve

 

  • Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs for 3 minutes, using an electric hand mixer at high speed. The mixture will go pale and increase in volume.
  • Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium, and add the olive oil, milk and lemon zest. Mix well.
  • Turn the mixer to it’s lowest speed setting and add the dry ingredients to the mixture. Do not over mix at this stage. Just mix until all of the ingredients are combined and the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin, and scatter half of the grapes over the top.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Scatter the rest of the grapes over the cake, and bake for a further 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool on a wire rack, sprinkle with a thin dusting of icing sugar and then serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.

 

BakedIn Gin and Tonic Cupcake Kit – Sophisticated Cupcakes for Grown-Ups

The lovely people at BakedIn recently sent me their latest kit to try, as they knew how much I adored their Prosecco and Strawberry Cake kit ( CLICK HERE to read what I thought of that one).

As with all of their amazing kits, you receive all the dry ingredients you need to make the cakes, as well as extra items to help make the baking experience more convenient. With this new range of alcoholic recipes, you also receive the bottles of alcohol!

In this Gin and Tonic Cupcake kit you receive the dry ingredients conveniently weighed out for you to save you the hassle, a miniature bottle of gin, a bottle of tonic water, the cupcake cases, a huge really good quality disposable piping bag, a 1M piping nozzle which is the best tip to make beautiful buttercream swirls, a skewer to test when the cupcakes are baked, and a butter measuring guide. And of course the recipe, which as always is by the world class Michel Roux.

All you need to add to this kit is unsalted butter, 2 large eggs, and 2 limes.

I was so excited to make these and see if they were as delicious as the Prosecco and Strawberry cake. The recipe was extremely easy to follow, and the quantities of the ingredients gave enough mixture for exactly 12 good-sized cupcakes. They rose perfectly to the tops of the cupcake cases, turning a gorgeous golden colour in the process.

You might be wondering where the gin and tonic fit in to the recipe. Well, the tonic water is mixed in the sponge part, which results in lovely light and fluffy cakes. The gin is drizzled on to the baked cakes, and is also added to the buttercream for an extra boozy hit!

After the cakes have cooled, you just need to pipe a buttercream swirl on to each one, and then decorate with lime zest and a lime wedge.

They taste absolutely divine. Gin is quite a bitter drink, but that bitterness is counteracted by the sweetness in the buttercream. You can still taste that it is gin, but it is much nicer with the sweetness of the cake. To be honest, when I first tried one of these cupcakes I thought it could probably have done with a bit more alcohol, as the taste was very subtle. After I had finished eating the cupcake though there was a definite gin aftertaste, which was really pleasant. The next day I discovered the amount of gin was spot on, as somehow the flavour gets stronger over time. You could really taste the gin immediately on biting into the cake the next day, and it was wonderful! So my advice to you would be… if you want to really taste the gin, make these the day before you need them and store them in an airtight tin or box. If you prefer a delicate taste of gin, eat them on the day of baking. Either way, I know you will love them!

This recipe kit is £20, which is great value when you take into account all the things it includes. The piping nozzle can be washed and kept afterwards to use again and again.

These cupcakes would be perfect for any special occasion, or you could bake them as gifts. I’m sure that after putting up with a class of 30 children day after day, teachers would love one or two of these presented in a pretty box as a Christmas or thank you gift! Who wouldn’t!?

If you would like to buy this fantastic kit, CLICK HERE to go to the BakedIn Bake Shop page. Happy baking!!!

 

DISCLAIMER: I received this kit at no cost in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion of it. I would never recommend a product I didn’t like myself. All opinions are my own honest views.