The Crazy Kitchen: February 2013

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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Tangy Mozzarella

When I visited London a few weeks ago I tried Burrata for the first time and it was amazing. I've not managed to get my hands on any around here yet but I'm still looking. Burrata is is made from Mozzarella and cream, with a soft and creamy centre that could easily be mistaken for a dessert.

The Burrata was served with blood orange slices and a herb olive oil, so simple but so amazing.


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I've had an attempt at recreating the dish with buffalo mozzarella, and whilst it was very good it just wasn't a patch on the Burrata unfortunately.

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I mixed a small amount of chilli infused extra virgin olive oil with a touch of fresh lemon juice and thyme, which was then drizzled over the mozzarella and orange slices and finished off with a light sprinkling of sea salt.

One day I will get my hands on the pesky stuff!

Nutella French Toast

Sometimes you just need to feed a craving, and feed it quickly. This is a good one for that. I saw the idea in Good Food, where the sandwiches were cut into pretty heart shapes, but that would ultimately cause waste, and French toast is not for wasting, it's for eating.


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Nutella French Toast - makes 3 sandwiches

1 Egg
75ml Milk (I used hazelnut milk)
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 slices of Brioche
Nutella
butter for frying


  • Beat the egg, milk, sugar & cinnamon together & pour into a large shallow dish
  • Spread 3 of the slices of Brioche with Nutella & make 3 sandwiches by placing the other slices on top
  • Lay the sandwiches into the egg mixture and turn them over after 1 minute and leave to soak up the liquid
  • Heat the butter in a frying pan & fry the sandwiches for 1-2 minutes each side until golden brown


Serve sprinkled with icing sugar and more Nutella mixed with a little hot water to make a sauce, along with a blob of cream, creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt.


Alternatively pop the brioche slices into your Dualit toaster and spread with generous amounts of Nutella!




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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Chocolate Fridge Cake

After having a Facebook discussion about fridge cake this morning I had the urge to make some. I raided the kitchen cupboards, threw a few ingredients together and came up with this little beauty.


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Chocolate Fridge Cake

250g Chocolate (I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate)
50g Butter or Margarine
50g Glace Cherries
40g Raisins
40g Cranberries
50g Apricots, chopped
40g Pecans, halved
125g Cadbury Chocolate fingers, broken into pieces


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  • Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwaveable bowl in the microwave on short bursts 
  • Stir in the rest of the ingredients, mix well
  • Pour into a small loaf tin or cake tin lined with greaseproof paper
  • Refrigerate for a couple of hours before sprinkling with icing sugar and slicing 
You can pretty much add whatever ingredients you like, marshmallows and meringues work really well, as do ginger nuts and digestives.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Jumbo Mediterranean Sausage Pasty

Last week my attention was drawn to a blogging challenge and, as I'm always up for a challenge, I thought I should give it a go.

The challenge is to come up with a simple recipe that could be taught to adults with learning difficulties to enable them to lead more independent lives. The cookery courses are run by a charity called SWALLOW'S and they're looking for suitable recipes to include in their new cookbook. You can read more about it on Banger's & Mash here.

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This recipe does have a few ingredients and may not look that simple on the surface, but trust me, it is very easy and doesn't create much washing up either, as well as giving quite an impressive result without much effort.


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Jumbo Mediterranean Sausage Pasty - serves 4-6

50ml Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled & thinly sliced
5 good quality sausages, each cut into 6 pieces
1 red pepper, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
fresh herbs (I used thyme)
4 mushrooms, sliced
150g baby plum tomatoes, halved
50g olives, halved
200g Feta cheese, cubed
1 Jus-rol puff pastry sheet (320g)
1 egg, beaten
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C
  • Add the oil, garlic, sausages, pepper, onion, herbs & mushrooms to a roasting pan and toss to coat everything in oil.
  • Roast for 15 minutes before adding the tomatoes and roast for a further 10 minutes
  • Stir in the olives and Feta cheese
  • Spoon the mixture onto one half of the pastry sheet, leaving a 1cm gap around the edge (If there is too much filling just serve the extra with cooked pasta)
  • Brush the edges with beaten egg, fold over and seal with a fork

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  • Brush with beaten egg
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown


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Serve hot or cold






Thursday, 21 February 2013

Beany Turkey & Chorizo Meatballs

Baked beans are a staple food in this house, the kids love them and they form part of the husband's speciality tea, which he makes from time to time - egg on beans on cheese on ham on toast.

As soon as we received a couple of cans of the new Branston Baked Beans range Jack was was first to clap eyes on and bagsy the Beans with 2 large Lincolnshire sausages.


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Rather than serve the Beans with Spicy Chorizo the same way I decided to experiment with them...

Beany Turkey & Chorizo Meatballs - serves 4 (approx 24 meatballs)

Meatballs
1/2 can Branston baked beans & Chorizo
200g Turkey breast mince
2 slices of wholemeal bread

Sauce
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1-2 Peppers, sliced (I used frozen mixed peppers)
3 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 can Branston baked beans & Chorizo
Can of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp Harissa paste
  • Mash the baked beans and chorizo (1/2 can)
  • Mix in the turkey mince
  • Blend the bread into crumbs, or break into very small pieces and mix into the mince & beans
  • Form into meatballs the size of large marbles
  • Bake in a 200 C oven for 15 minutes, until cooked all the way through
  • Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion gently for a few minutes
  • Add the peppers and mushrooms and fry for a further 2-3 minutes
  • Add the remaining beans & chorizo, tomatoes and harissa
  • Simmer for approx 15-20 minutes until the sauce is thick and rich
  • Toss in the meatballs and heat them through
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Serve with rice or cous cous for a very tasty and extremely frugal family meal - less than £1 per serving.

or in a bun, sloppy joe style

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The beans are sold in Sainsbury's stores, priced at £1.29 for beans & sausages and £1.09 for beans & chorizo or beans & chilli

I was sent the baked beans for the purpose of this review

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Meat Free Cottage Pie

With the latest horse meat scandal, there has been no better time to eat more meat free meals, it definitely saves money and is no less tasty.

I bought a pack of dried soya mince, and used only 50g in the dish which works out at only 25p - that's not per portion, that's for the whole amount. You mix it 1 part soya mince to 3 parts boiling water and then use it in place of regular mince. It doesn't have a lot of flavour on it's own but soaks up the flavours of the rest of the dish if cooked for long enough. My Mum always used to add baked beans to a cottage pie, which not only gives it a sweeter taste but also makes it stretch further, making this a very frugal family meal.

Everyone loved this cottage pie, and all plates were cleared, including that of Hanna's friend who came for tea. I don't like offering 'different' food when friend's come round but it was a last minute invite and thankfully she liked it.

Meat Free Cottage Pie

1 Cup dried Soya Mince (approx 50g)
3 Cups Boiling water
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 onion
3 carrots, peeled & diced
1/2 medium butternut squash (approx 300g), peeled & diced
1 heaped tsp Marmite
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce*
1 tbsp HP Sauce (brown)
1 can Baked beans
1 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped (I used Thyme)
1kg white potatoes, peeled & halved
25g butter
100ml milk
herbs & salt & pepper to taste
  • Pour the boiling water onto the soya mince & leave for 5 minutes
  • Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof stovetop/casserole pan
  • Add the onion, place the lid on & cook for approx 3 minutes
  • Stir in the carrots, squash, marmite & worcestershire sauce, replace the lid and cook for 5 minutes
  • Add the soya mince along with the liquid and the HP sauce
  • Place the lid on & simmer for approx 20 minutes
  • Stir in the baked beans and fresh herbs, simmer for approx 5 minutes uncovered until the sauce thickens
* If you want to make this vegetarian then use double the amount of marmite & omit the worcestershire sauce
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  • Meanwhile boil the potatoes until tender
  • Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, herbs, salt & pepper
  • Top the pie with the mash and rough up with a fork
  • Bake in a 180C oven for 20-30 minutes until browned & crispy

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Now Is Good [DVD Review}

I don't often get chance to watch a movie, other than Barbie & the Nutcracker which is Jack's latest favourite thing, but a few weeks ago everyone was out on a Saturday so I sat down and watched Now Is Good, uninterrupted from start to finish. It was bliss. Well apart from the tears I shed.

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Tess, a 17 year old Leukaemia sufferer, has a bucket list full of simple things, such as go on a date, as well as the more complex, like shoplifting, taking drugs and losing her virginity, and has every intention of crossing them all off and living her life to the full before it comes to an abrupt end.


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Unexpectedly along the way she falls in love with her neighbour Adam, who helps her fulfil some of her dreams by doing as much as she can, as fast as she can.


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The film is full of heart-warming moments with her family, best friend and boyfriend making you laugh as well as cry as you follow Tess during her final few months, right up until the end.

It was one of those films that left me thinking about the family and what they were going through now, even though you know it's fictional you sometimes just can't help it with a film that pulls at your heart strings.

Writing about it now makes me want to watch it all over again.

Now is Good (Cert 12) is available to buy now from Amazon for £12.98



Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fridge Bottom Soup

'Fridge Bottom' was a concept that I heard from Mum In The Madhouse, who makes a delicious looking fridge bottom curry. Fridge bottom soup is, as the name suggests, made using the vegetables left in the bottom of the fridge at the end of the week. I used to work in a restaurant and tomorrow's soup was always made from yesterday's vegetables and salad, and was always delicious.

The soup always has a different flavour depending on which vegetables are left. Butternut squash usually appears in there, along with carrots and onions. I've also used sprouts, cabbage, parsnips as well as the odd tomato and wilting rocket.

Combined with garlic and chicken or vegetable stock I cook in the slow cooker for a few hours and then blend until smooth. It makes a great after school meal on a Friday, as well as lunch on Saturday, served with home-made bread or pitta bread.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Harissa Potato Cakes

I was looking for ways to use up some more of the Harissa paste that I bought for the Harissa & Vegetable Cobbler and spotted some coriander potato cakes in Good Food magazine, which I adapted slightly.

Harissa Potato Cakes - makes approx 10 

500g White potatoes, peeled 
2 tbsp Harissa paste handful of fresh coriander, chopped 
2 Eggs, separated 
Zest of 1 lemon 
50g Mature Cheddar cheese 
8 Cream crackers (approx), crushed 
Oil for frying 


  • Boil the potatoes until soft, drain 
  • Mash the potatoes with the coriander, egg yolks, lemon zest and cheese 
  • Form into cakes 
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  • Whisk the egg whites until just foamy 
  • Dip the cakes into the egg white and then the cream crackers 
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the potato cakes in batches for a couple of minutes on each side until brown & crispy
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Serve with Greek yoghurt, salad and pitta bread. 


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I made home-made pitta bread using a simple recipe found here


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Baked Mini Doughnuts with Nutella Sauce

Recently I bought a Wilton mini doughnut pan but keep forgetting to buy the buttermilk to make them. I had some left over from making buttermilk pancakes and gave them a whirl. I put too much batter in the pan first time around which resulted in them being quite large & not having a hole. I learnt from my mistake and the second batch were much more doughnut like.

I used the recipe on the back of the packaging, which I have changed from cup measurements for ease. You don't really need a doughnut pan to make these, a mini ,muffin pan would work. I also used my cake pop maker to make some doughnut balls.


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Baked Mini Doughnuts with Nutella Sauce

170g Self Raising Flour
90g Caster Sugar
1 1/4 tsp Baking powder
100ml Buttermilk
1 Egg
25g Butter, melted

Sugar & Cinnamon for coating
Nutella & boiling water for sauce

  • Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together in a large bowl
  • Lightly beat the buttermilk, egg & melted butter
  • Stir wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined
  • Spoon into the doughnut pan until half filled
  • Bake in a 220C oven for 4 minutes until springy to touch
  • Turn out and toss in sugar & cinnamon
  • Mix the Nutella with a little boiling water water until it's sauce consistency
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over-sized doughnuts & doughnut balls

I bought my Wilton pan from Amazon for only £8.57 with free shipping!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Buttermilk Pancakes - OXO Good Grips Review

I love gadgets in the kitchen and OXO Good Grips are always a welcome addition to my kitchen. I was sent a pancake making set but unfortunately it wasn't here in time for pancake day last week, however, in my opinion, pancakes are definitely not just for pancake day.


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The silicone balloon whisk is great for whisking in smaller containers, such as jugs, as it's flexible and fits easily into the sides. The stainless steel bowl has a non slip base which helps when beating. as well as looking good with its white plastic exterior.


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The best gadget has to be the silicone pancake turner, with thin flexible edges and larger than most spatulas, perfect for flipping pancakes, eggs and burgers. 


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The favourite pancakes in this house are by far American pancakes and last week I tried out a great recipe from Belleau kitchen. At the time I didn't have any buttermilk but this time tried them with the buttermilk as per the recipe and they were so much better - lovely and thick, but light, just as buttermilk pancakes should be.


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Served the American way, with crispy bacon and maple syrup.

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I was sent the utensils for the purpose of this review

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Harissa & Vegetable Cobbler

I'm loving having Good Food Magazine on my ipad, not only is it very portable but it means I can search for recipes that I've seen without having to flick through pages and pages. One of the recipes that caught my eye was in the budget cooking edition for tomato & harissa stew with cheddar dumplings. I'm always looking for ways to save money on the weekly shop and making more veggie recipes is definitely helping.


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I amended the recipe by adding a few more ingredients (vegetables from the bottom of the fridge) and using my recipe for cheesy scones for the top (leaving out the chilli) instead of the dumplings.

Vegetable & Harissa Cobbler

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, sliced
1 heaped tbsp of Harissa paste
1 Can of chopped tomatoes
1 Can of water
1 Can of chickpeas, drained
1 Large Courgette, chopped
1 Red pepper, de-seeded & chopped
2 Large Chestnut Mushrooms
1 Knorr Herb Stock Pot
75g Red Lentils
1 Egg, beaten


  • Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole pan and fry the onion gently for 3 minutes
  • Add the celery, harissa paste, tomatoes, water, chickpeas, courgette, pepper, mushrooms & stock pot and bring to the boil
  • Place the lid on and bake in a 180 C oven for 1 hour
  • Stir in the lentils and return to the oven (lid on) for 10 minutes
  • Make up the scone mixture and cut circles out
  • Place the scones on top of the stew, brush with beaten egg and bake (no lid) for a further 15 minutes until golden brown






Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Sweet Valentine Puffs

We don't 'do' Valentines Day in our house* but what a good excuse to make heart shaped puffs. I posted a recipe for some savoury ones last week as well as some heart shaped shortbread ice-cream sandwiches, but these little morsels of loveliness are a must, and so easy.


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All you need is a pack of puff pastry, or the ready rolled to make it even easier, and your choice of fillings.


I made chocolate orange and banana and caramel. The chocolate orange was a spoonful of chocolate spread and a spoonful of tangy orange marmalade (the Asda fine cut marmalade actually tastes just like Jaffa cakes). For the banana puffs I chopped some banana and drizzled some caramel sauce over.

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I cut the top heart slightly larger than the bottom to make sure there was plenty of room for filling, brushed beaten egg around the edge, sealed with a fork and then brushed with more beaten egg and baked in an 180 C oven for approx 10 minutes.


Simple.



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With the scraps this time I layered them on top of one another, rolled them flat & covered with sliced banana and chocolate spread mixed with caramel sauce & baked in the oven.....just delicious (apparently!)

*well I didn't think we did Valentines Day, until I was presented with this tonight...

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I've linked this recipe up to Nazima & Laura's One Ingredient challenge, which for February is banana's,

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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Kale & Mint Risotto

I made a large batch of Kale pesto which was great with pasta and added a lovely flavour to our chops. It's really versatile and great to have in the fridge to make simple and quick family meals, and I used it again in a Risotto. I tend to use Basmati rice as I like the flavour as well as it having a lower GI (Glycemic Index) than risotto or short grain rice, which is important now that the husband is diabetic.


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Kale & Mint Risotto


1 red onion, chopped
1 tbsp Olive oil
250g Basmati rice
4tbsp Kale & Mint Pesto
1 Can of Chickpeas, drained
1 Litre of vegetable stock
200g Cooked chicken breast
100g Frozen Peas
100g Grana Padano, grated
Handful of fresh mint, chopped

  • Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat
  • Add the onion and sweat for 3 minutes
  • Stir in the rice and pesto and some of the stock
  • Place the lid on and simmer gently
  • Add the chickpeas, and more liquid as the rice begins to absorb it until it has all been added and the rice is tender
  • Stir in the cooked chicken and frozen peas and heat through
  • Stir in the fresh mint and Grana Padano just before serving

Monday, 11 February 2013

Belleau Pancakes

So, apparently it's pancake day tomorrow, which I didn't realise until earlier today. Thankfully I made caramel sauce yesterday and I'm all stocked up on all the necessary items - maple syrup, lemons, strawberries, cherries, Nutella, squirty cream and not forgetting eggs.

I saw a tweet earlier from Dom at Belleau Kitchen with his recipe for American style pancakes and, even though I've got a recipe of my own that I use regularly, I thought I would give them a go.

They were good, in fact they were very good, and were really light with lots of little air pockets in them. I admit that I didn't have any buttermilk so used all semi skimmed milk, I will be stocking up on Buttermilk for next time though.

I stacked them up layered with banana and caramel sauce and sliced into wedges, like a cake, to serve - I'm sure each of the children would've quite easily eaten a stack to themselves though.

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You can find the recipe for Dom's pancakes here.

Home-made Salted Caramel Sauce

With it being pancake day tomorrow you might be looking for something tasty to top your pancakes with, whether you make American Style pancakes or the more traditional crepe style. Here is a simple caramel sauce that goes particularly well with bananas. You can add more or less salt according to your taste - I was making this for my children so only added a pinch.

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It can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Salted Caramel Sauce

425g Caster Sugar
100ml Water
25g Butter
284ml Double Cream
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Sea Salt

  • Add the sugar and water to a pan over a medium heat
  • Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a gentle simmer
  • Simmer until the sugar mixture has turned a light caramel colour *
  • Remove from the heat, stir in the butter until melted
  • Stir in the cream, vanilla and salt until combined


The sauce thickens once cooled completely.


* be patient and don't be tempted to boil rapidly or you may end up with a pan of crystals *cough*, apparently. If you do then remove from the heat and add a small amount of water and start again.

The Power of Gel

Last week I was invited to attend a cooking masterclass in London hosted by Finish Quantum. The chef for the day was the very young and very beautiful Florence Knight, head chef at London's Polpetto Restaurant. During the day we watched, we listened, we chopped and we ate our way through 4 courses, cooked right in front of us. I was joined by some very lovely fellow food bloggers, see if you can spot any familiar faces.


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Look there's me in the black looking on intently *cough*

My favourite course had to be the delicious and creamy Burrata, a combination of Mozzarella and cream, which was served with blood oranges and a herb dressing. The taste was amazing and I'm desperate to find somewhere local that sells it so I can wow others with the flavours.


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My least favourite course had to be the Octopus. I was prepared to give it a try even though it didn't appeal to me in the slightest, however both the texture and taste was too much for me....NEVER AGAIN!


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Thankfully we had our individual Tiramisu's, which we'd made earlier in the day, to take the taste of the Octopus away.


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Of course, all of this doesn't come without something back from us Bloggers. The very lovely people at Finish wanted to hear our views on their product. A few weeks ago we were sent a sample of their Powerball Dishwasher tablets which, to be honest, didn't seem to fare any better than my regular Asda brand. Then we were sent a pack of the new Power Gel tablets and instructed to use them on anything and everything. I banned the husband from hand-washing heavily stained pans and we threw everything at the dishwasher - dried on soup, hot chocolate & cappuccino cups, baked on tomato sauce, saucepans used for home-made jam and caramel sauce to name but a few. The results were amazing and so far the tablets have beaten everything that we've thrown at them, apart from a very well used tin used for roasted vegetables. I now take great pleasure in opening the dishwasher door at the end of each cycle and commenting on how clean everything is, I swear the glasses come out shinier each time they're washed. The inside of the dishwasher is even joining in and sparkling like it has never sparkled before.

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There's no way I will ever go back to my old dishwasher tablets now I've tried these out and seen the results for myself.

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Ooh look, there's Danny from Food Urchin trying to flog me a pack of Finish Quantum.

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There's me waffling on about the best way to stack a dishwasher - the shame!

All photographs courtesy of Charlotte Hurst

I was paid to attend the Masterclass and my travel expenses were reimbursed. I have also received some Finish Quantum to review - all opinions are my own.

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