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Thursday, 8 December 2016

Ciao Gusto Authentic Italian Cuisine

I absolutely love a Christmas hamper, and usually make at least one up for members of the family. This year I bought a lovely crate from Waitrose for just £5 and filled it with goodies for my parents. My mum often gives hampers too so I guess we have hamper giving in our blood. She's much better at the ribbon curling than me though so mine are usually finished with a bow.

I think the lovely people at Ciao Gusto must've known about my love of hampers and sent me this amazing basket filled with Italian goodies.


Ciao Gusto Authentic Italian Foods

If you're not familiar with Ciao Gusto, they are a unique family of iconic Italian food and drink brands, such as Lavazza, Cirio, Barilla and Filippo Berio, to name a few. There's a dedicated Ciao Gusto shop online at Ocado where you can find all the authentic Italian foods that you need.

Ciao Gusto brands Ciao Gusto brands


The Ciao Gusto site is full of recipe inspiration to get the best out of your ingredients, and I'm particularly keen to try the Cheese & Amarena Cherry Tartlets as I love a cheese & fruit combo, and these will make a great appetiser over the festive period.

I couldn't wait to tuck into the mini panettone, and made it into an indulgent dessert using cherry jam, mascarpone and a drizzle of Prosecco, inspired by one of the Ciao Gusto recipes.


Panettone for one
SERVE WITH A GLASS OR TWO OF PROSECCO

Panettone for one
(or maybe 2 if you're feeling generous)


1 small Bauli Panettone (100g)
130g mascarpone
75g Santa Rosa Italian Cherry Jam
1-2 tbsp Prosecco
10-20g dark chocolate, grated
  • Slice the panettone into 5 equal slices
  • fold the mascarpone, jam, prosecco and grated chocolate together (reserving a little for decoration)
  • spread or pipe the mascarpone filling in between slices of panettone
  • top with grated chocolate before serving with a large glass of Prosecco


Follow Ciao Gusto :
#CiaoGusto


I was provided with a Ciao Gusto hamper in exchange for this post

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Baked Camembert with Spicy Cranberry & Rhubarb Chutney

For many of us, Christmas is all about eating and drinking. The kids love tucking into their chocolate Christmas morning, and when I was their age I loved nothing more than scoffing a box of Hazelnut whirls, which, in my opinion, were the best ones from the Roses jar - remember Roses jars? no plastic boxes in the 80's, it was quality glass jars all the way. In fact I still have one. 

These days I'm more into savoury delights, especially cheese. To enjoy cheese to its fullest there also needs to be chutney. Upon checking my pantry for my stash of home made chutney I was horrified to find that I only have one jar left - it's unlabelled so I'm not quite sure if it's Asian Chilli or Caramelised Onion, but either way I needed to rectify the situation immediately.

I needed to empty some excess from the freezer & found some cranberries and rhubarb in there so decided to put them to good use and make some spicy chutney. You can make chutney out of pretty much any fruit or veg so if you don't have exact ingredients don't worry, just replace them with something else - extra onion, courgettes, carrots, peppers, butternut squash. Anything with a bit of substance to it, otherwise it will end up like a smoothie. 

Once I'd made the chutney I wanted to try it out immediately, so I bought a camembert, and lunch was sorted.

Baked Camembert with Spicy Cranberry & Rhubarb Chutney

Spicy Cranberry & Rhubarb Chutney - makes approx 3 jars

2 onions
2 apples
375g rhubarb
3 tomatoes
1 red pepper
175g cranberries
2 red chillies
2 cloves of garlic
300ml white wine vinegar
350g granulated sugar
tbsp mixed spice
  • roughly chop the onions, apples, rhubarb, tomatoes & pepper, and add them to a large saucepan
  • add thinly sliced chilli, crushed garlic, vinegar, sugar & mixed spice
  • bring to the boil and simmer for approx 30-45 minutes, until it's thick
  • pour into sterilised jars


Baked Camembert

1 whole camembert
home made chutney
olive oil
sprigs of rosemary
  • remove any plastic packaging from the camembert
  • if it comes in a wooden box place it back into it & onto a baking tray, or into a suitably sized ovenproof dish
  • using a sharp knife, cut a crosshatch pattern in the top of the camembert
  • drizzle with a little olive oil & spoon some chutney on top
  • stick a few sprigs of rosemary into the cheese
  • bake in a preheated 200C oven for around 10-15 minutes, until the cheese has melted

Serve with bread or crackers, a few rocket leaves and some balsamic roasted tomatoes

Baked Camembert with Spicy Cranberry & Rhubarb Chutney Baked Camembert with Spicy Cranberry & Rhubarb Chutney

Perfect as an appetiser to share, as a lunch, or just because.

Baked Camembert with Spicy Cranberry & Rhubarb Chutney Baked Camembert with Spicy Cranberry & Rhubarb Chutney


If you're looking for a really impressive way to serve your camembert, then you must see this beaut from Jenny - it's her very aptly named Bad Boy Brioche.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Have Yourself a Very Merry Copper Christmas

It's December this week, and if you haven't started your Christmas shopping yet it's time to get a move on. I'm feeling pretty smug as I've already bought and wrapped presents for the family, which is a bit of a miracle for me. My aim is to enjoy December as much as possible and really get into the spirit of Christmas, rather than stressing over presents for other people.

Whilst doing my Christmas shopping online I've discovered a new love for all things copper. I've never really been into anything metallic, but this year I am loving anything copper or rose gold. 

I've put together a small collection of ten items that would be perfect if you're looking for a few Christmas gift ideas for yourself or someone else. I've already picked up the star shaped tea light holder for myself, and have my eye on the wall clock and plant pots too.




 photo copper christmas_zpszvthbltt.jpg



  1. Copper stag £5.00 - Primark
  2. Star tealight holder £5 - Wilko
  3. Wall clock £40 - John Lewis
  4. 2 plant pots £8 - Wilko
  5. Cocktail shaker £20 - John Lewis
  6. Helsinki stars bauble £3 - John Lewis
  7. Fruit basket £10 - John Lewis
  8. Copper bauble wreath £8 - Primark
  9. Alarm clock £25 - John Lewis
  10. Glitter candle £15 - John Lewis



Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Cranberry, Clementine & Cointreau Trifle


Christmas is a time for eating and drinking and getting together with family, for more eating and drinking and lots of game playing. Last year the fun family must have game was Pie Face, but I never managed to get my hands on one in time, so this year I've already got my hands on the game that every family will be playing this Christmas - Speak Out. If you haven't seen it you really must watch some videos on You Tube, it's hilarious! 


Back to the food and drink. Every Christmas, for as long as I can remember, my mum has made a trifle. It's nothing posh and it's nothing glamorous, but she whips it up in no time and it tastes great, and there's no jelly or sherry (haven't touched that stuff since I was 14, but that's another story) in sight. 



When I was challenged by Bonne Maman to make a festive dessert that makes use of their Madeleines I immediately thought of a trifle. A boozy trifle. A boozy trifle that doesn't contain either sherry or jelly. There are certain ingredients, flavours and smells that we associate with Christmas, and two of those are cranberry and clementine, and I've included both of those in this trifle, as they go really well together.

Cranberry, Clementine & Cointreau Trifle

You can make the cranberry jam in advance, or if you don't want to go to that trouble it can be replaced by one of the many delicious conserves that Bonne Maman make - Berries & Cherries Conserve would make a great alternative. If you're not using the home made cranberry jam then you may need to add some additional liquid to the Madeleines, as they really do hold the liquid well. There are a few steps to this recipe but as I said, the jam can be made in advance, as can the sugared cranberries. It's then a case of layering the trifle up. If you want to prepare it earlier in the day and refrigerate then I would recommend adding the cream on just before serving.

Cranberry, Clementine & Cointreau TrifleCranberry, Clementine & Cointreau Trifle - makes a 17cm trifle

for the cranberry jam
150g fresh cranberries
300g granulated sugar
cinnamon stick
zest & juice of 2 clementines (you can replace some or all of this with Cointreau)

  • place all the ingredients into a saucepan
  • bring to a slow boil, making sure that the sugar dissolves
  • turn down the heat to a simmer, and simmer for 10 minutes
  • leave to cool fully before removing the cinnamon stick & using in the trifle
Cranberry, Clementine & Cointreau Trifle
for the sugared cranberries
handful of fresh cranberries
equal parts granulated sugar & water (I use 1/2 measuring cup of each)
extra sugar for rolling in
  • place the sugar and water in a pan and stir to dissolve the sugar
  • bring to the boil and simmer for 4 minutes
  • drop the cranberries into the syrup and remove with a slotted spoon onto a cake rack
  • leave for approx 30 mins 
  • after 30 mins drop the cranberries into the syrup again & remove (dripping excess syrup into the pan) with a slotted spoon into the sugar
  • roll in the sugar to coat with crystals
  • allow to dry for at least 30 mins before using
for the trifle
4-5 Bonne Maman Madeleines, cut into cubes
3 tbsp Cointreau (or replace with orange juice)
cooled Cranberry jam
500g fresh custard (either home made or store bought would work)
250g mascarpone
grated zest of 1 clementine
250ml double cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • place the Madeleine cubes into your trifle dish 
  • spoon 2tbsp of Cointreau or orange juice over the sponge 
  • spoon your cooled jam into the trifle dish - you may not need all of it
  • place in the fridge for an hour before adding the rest of the ingredients
  • whisk the custard together with the mascarpone, clementine zest & 1tbsp Cointreau (or orange juice) until smooth
  • spoon into the trifle dish and smooth the top over
  • whisk the cream with the cinnamon until soft peaks form (you could add some Cointreau here too for an extra boozy trifle)
  • pipe or spoon on top of the custard layer
  • top with sugared cranberries and clementine zest before serving
Cranberry, Clementine & Cointreau Trifle Cranberry, Clementine & Cointreau Trifle Cranberry, Clementine & Cointreau Trifle

Alternative ways to use Bonne Maman Madeleines :

Cute Madeleine Reindeer by Here Come the Girls
Alternative Christmas Pudding by Mummy Mishaps



recipe commissioned for Bonne Maman

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