The Crazy Kitchen: July 2014

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

A few months ago I had never heard of an Aperol Spritz, but my lovely blogging friend Steph raved about it.  Fast forward to June of this year when I met up with Steph at The Taste of London in Regent's Park and she introduced me to this mighty fine cocktail.

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

It's been a slippery slope for me and the Aperol ever since. Later that month I mixed up two litres of the lucozade looking concoction in an old plastic water bottle (glass bottles were not allowed) to take to a Jessie J concert with friends in the middle of Cannock Chase forest. I'm definitely not 'into' Jessie J and the Aperol helped me to not care what I was listening to.

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

A couple of days ago I had been busy baking and cooking dinner, and the sweat was pouring off me. As soon as the husband came in from work I retired to my quiet corner of the garden where I enjoyed an ice cold Aperol Spritz (or two) courtesy of World Duty Free, who are currently hosting their Summer Drinks Festival.

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

After a while I was joined in the garden by Jack, who came out to fix his goal. I kept quite and still and he didn't notice I was there, allowing the peace to continue for a little longer.

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

To make an Aperol Spritz you will need :

3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 splash of soda
slice of orange
lots of ice
  • pour Prosecco, Aperol and soda over ice and stir
  • garnish with a slice of orange 


WIN a Tefal Infinity Press Juicer

How would you like to win yourself a juicer? This is not just any juicer, this is the new TEFAL Infinity Press Juicer. You can have a juice bar right in your own home.

One lucky reader of this blog can now win one for themselves.


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Compared to a standard juicer the Infinity Press gives you 30% more juice, 35% more vitamin C and 75% more antioxidants.

The Infinity Press works by slowly rotating a a screw mechanism which presses fruits, vegetables and even herbs very delicately to get the best out of them, to preserve as much flavour and vitamin goodness as possible.

With a choice of two stainless steel filters you can have your juices with more or less pulp, and with the compact size of the juicer it makes it easy to store. All of the removable parts (filter, screw etc) are dishwasher safe, meaning less washing up too!

For your chance of winning just complete the widget below.
(closes 20th August, winner will be selected on 21st August)

Please note: The Crazy Kitchen is hosting this giveaway, however TEFAL is responsible for selecting a winner and dispatching the prize
Win competitions at

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Taking the Sunshine on Holiday

Last week we enjoyed a break in the Isle of Wight. It was a bit of a rush with Sam only arriving back from his trip to France with the school at 10.30pm, leaving me little time to get his clothes washed before we left for Southampton at 7.30 the following morning.

As usual the contents of the boot of the car fitted together like a precision cut jigsaw, however, I made sure that there was room for my bottles of Lindeman's wine.

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Whilst away I cooked a family meal for us and our friends who were holidaying on the same site. I'd planned the meal before going, taking a risk that everyone would like what I had planned.

Pulled pork
Baked potatoes
Corn on the Cob
Crusty Bread

Pulled Pork Family Meal
I would never make a teacher with blackboard writing that bad!

There was a fussy one amongst us, my friend's 15 year old son, who didn't like the sound of pulled pork but said he would give it a try anyway. His mum wasn't much better, declaring 'I don't usually like pork, but for you I will try it'.

I usually cook my pulled pork in the slow cooker but didn't have the boot space to take it on holiday so had planned to oven roast it. Thankfully there was a slow cooker in my friend's [posher] caravan that was large enough for the 2kg of pork that I'd bought. It's such an easy recipe and a perfect dish to make if you're going to be out all day as it can be cooked all day in the slow cooker and then shredded just before serving, or can be made in advance and reheated.
Pulled Pork Family Meal

Pulled Pork - serves 8-10 

2kg Pork shoulder 
2 quantities of bbq rub (used here for ribs - I made it at home & took it with me in a zip lock bag)
2 onions, sliced in half around the middle
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
125ml cola or Dr pepper
bbq sauce

  • Rub the bbq rub all over the pork shoulder & leave in the fridge overnight if you can
  • Preheat a slow cooker and place the onions into the base, along with the garlic cloves
  • Place the pork on top and pour over the cola
  • Cook on high for around 6 hours, or until the pork falls apart
  • Take the pork out and remove the fat
  • Set aside some of the juices for later
  • Using two forks shred the pork
  • Mix around 100ml of the juices with an equivalent quantity of bbq sauce and spoon over the pork - you want it to be moist but not dripping in sauce

Pulled Pork Family Meal

For dessert I made a lemon and berry cheesecake, with ice cream and a selection of sprinkles for the kids to enjoy. I took a muffin pan with me as I knew there wouldn't be enough bowls in the caravan to serve all the sprinkles and sauces and this is an idea I've seen a few times for serving things like this, and more recently I saw Lucy using it at her amazing pink party (unfortunately no fancy scoops for me).

Pulled Pork Family Meal Pulled Pork Family Meal - Lemon & Berry Cheesecake

You can find my cheesecake recipe here. This time I didn't add any strawberries to the inside of the cheesecake and topped with fresh strawberries and frozen (and thawed) mixed berries.

The meal went down a storm! the fussy one absolutely LOVED the pulled pork, as did his Mum. I will forgive him for not wanting to try the cheesecake though as it meant more for the rest of us!

We enjoyed a bottle (or two) of Lindeman's Bin 35 Rosé (my current favourite from the Bin range) with our meal, and it was particularly delicious with the dessert.

A couple of days later I fancied a Sangria but unfortunately there wasn't a jug large enough to make it in, so I called upon my [limited] craft skills and improvised.

diy Sangria jug

Sangria to cool me down in the heat whilst the kids were kept busy with sidewalk chalk.

I am working together with Lindeman's to help spread news of their wines



This is Joshua. He's 7 years of age.

Joshua was diagnosed with Pre B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia on 6th March of this year.

He's currently undergoing 8 weeks of three different types of Chemotherapy treatment, but he's still smiling.

Joshua lives just around the corner from me and attends the same primary school as Jack.

His lovely parents have an allotment and keep me supplied with rhubarb when my own plant can't keep up with demand. 

Over the school holidays Joshua's homework is to keep a holiday diary. Unfortunately for Josh and his family the school holidays will be pretty much filled with trips to Birmingham for his treatment. With this in mind his Mum and Dad have come up with the idea of asking friends and relatives to send postcards to him from wherever they go on their travels (or even if they stay at home), which he will then use in his holiday diary. He already has promises of postcards from all over the world, and his Mum and dad will be plotting these on a wall map. They have been overwhelmed with the response from everyone so far, in such a short space of time.

What can you do to help?

If you are going on holiday this summer could you please send Joshua a postcard from wherever you are in the world - even if you stay within the UK or even stay at home, a postcard from anywhere is very much appreciated.

If you are on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook please also share a holiday snap with the hashtag #postcardsforJosh

You can find Josh's mum on Twitter and Instagram (although she will openly admit she has no idea how to use them) and on Facebook you can share your pictures on their page Postcards for Josh.

Please send postcards to :

Joshua Johns
2 Swansmoor Drive
ST18 0FP

Thank you for your support.

Seasonal Recipes - Rhubarb and Custard Roulade

We've just returned from a gloriously sunny week in the Isle of Wight. The sunflowers and green beans in our garden were looking a little parched but the rhubarb seems to have loved the hot weather and has grown rather rapidly, ready to fill my freezer.

If you've also got rhubarb growing in abundance but feel it's too hot for rhubarb crumble then why not try this chilled dessert instead. It uses the delicious pairing of rhubarb and custard, but in a roulade instead of a pie - think trifle in a roll.

I made it during my birthday week and it made a great alternative to store bought chocolate cake that the husband usually buys for my birthday!

You can find the full step by step recipe on the Great British Chefs website here.
    Rhubarb and Custard RouladeRhubarb and Custard Roulade Rhubarb and Custard Roulade

Friday, 18 July 2014

Lactofree Shakes #SayYestoSummer

The next in my #SayYestoSummer challenges with Lactofree was to create some summer shakes using Lactofree products. There is a shake for every taste, whether you like it full of berries or maybe even banana and peanut butter.

Lactofree #sayyestosummer

For my first shake I was inspired by one of my favourite cakes, the carrot cake. Carrot cake is full of so many flavours so why not bring these flavours into a milkshake - so simple yet so tasty.

carrot cake milkshake

I used a ready made slice of carrot cake but you might want to make your own to ensure that it's lactose free. It was topped with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting which makes it really indulgent and not for those counting their calories.

carrot cake milkshake

Carrot Cake Shake 

1 slice of carrot cake - approx 100g
200ml Lactofree milk
handful of ice cubes
75g Lactofree soft cheese
75ml Lactofree cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
walnuts (optional)
  • Place the carrot cake, milk and ice cubes in a blender & blend until smooth
  • Whisk the soft cheese with the cream and cinnamon until it forms soft peaks
  • Pour the carrot make milk into a glass and top with the cream cheese frosting
  • Top with crumbled carrot cake and walnuts

carrot cake milkshake

The second shake was a little more on the healthy side, with less indulgence and more fruit. This one combines the summer fruits of strawberry and rhubarb along with vanilla.

rhubarb strawberry milkshake

Strawberry and Rhubarb Shake

1 stalk of rhubarb
1 vanilla pod
1 tbsp demerara sugar
handful of strawberries, hulled and halved
handful of ice cubes
200ml Lactofree milk
75ml Lactofree cream

  • Cut the rhubarb into 2cm pieces and place in a small baking dish with the seeds from the vanilla pod and demerara sugar
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 10 minutes
  • Add the strawberries and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the fruits are tender, allow to cool
  • Once the fruit is cool add it to a blender with the ice cubes, milk and cream
  • Blend until smooth and serve in a sundae glass

rhubarb strawberry milkshake

The final two involved less preparation and can be made in seconds.

lactofree shakes

Banana and Raspberry Shake

1 banana
handful of frozen raspberries
200ml Lactofree milk
  • Blend everything together & serve

Vanilla Iced Coffee

1 shot Espresso coffee
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
200ml Lactofree milk
handful of ice cubes
  • Blend everything together and serve

You can find more Lactofree summer recipes here, and also check out the Lactofree Facebook page for giveaways and inspiration.

I'm working together with Lactofree to provide inspiration and recipes over the summer. For this second challenge I was provided with a fabulous cool bag of products. 

lactofree #sayyestosummer

What to do and see around Hampton Court

Are you thinking of visiting Hampton Court? Here are some of the exciting things you can see and do there.

Visit Hampton Court Palace

Although Hampton Court Palace is still a royal palace, the last time the royal family lived there was back in the 18th century. It is one of the must see places in London and worth setting aside some time for.

The palace was the favourite residence of Henry VIII and there is an exciting display where you can enjoy the sounds and the sights of the court and explore the splendid grandeur of the state rooms. The Great Hall is breathtaking and has been witness to many important historic events. Its walls are hung with some of the best tapestries of Henry VIII. Creep There is also a haunted gallery which leads to the Baroque Palace which features the Stuart and Georgian era.

Other important things to see there are a reproduction of Henry VIII’s Crown; the 450 year old Chapel Royal where you can still attend religious services; the largest Tudor kitchens in England; and the Chocolate Kitchens which date back to the 18th century when Thomas Tosier was King George Ist personal chocolatier, There are also some wonderful gardens to visit.

The Great Vine

You will find the Great Vine in Hampton Court gardens, and it shouldn’t be missed. It is believed to be the world’s largest grape vine and it was planted in 1769, making it 245 years old.  The circumference of the base is around four metres and the largest branch is around 40 metres long.

The vine fills a greenhouse and it has produced crops of black desert grapes as high as 383 kilograms. If you happen to be visiting the first three weeks in September, then  you will find these delicious grapes are on sale.

 photo great-vine-gill-314x205_zps9bdb74ad.jpg

Get lost in Hampton Court Maze

Although not quite as important as it was back in the eighteenth century, Hampton Court Maze is still worthy of a visit. It has been described as the most important maze in the world, however it is certainly the most famous one.

Getting lost in the maze is quite simple, especially if you take the advice of Harris in Jerome K. Jerome’s novel “Three Men in a Boat”. His advice was to simply keep on taking the first turning on the right. It doesn’t work as the maze design is multicursal, which means that there are many choices of which path and direction to take. Keep turning right at every possible opportunity and you will be in there for a very long time indeed.

 photo HCP-maze5_zps3668265c.jpg

Hampton Court Flower Show

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Hampton Court Flower Show takes place between the 8th and 13th July 2014. This is the largest flower show in the world and includes an abundance of show gardens, floral pavilions and marquees, along with a packed programme of talks and demonstrations. The show is differentiated from the Chelsea Flower Show by its focus on growing your own produce and on environmental concerns.

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Some special highlights of this year’s show include the Ocean Spray Garden which combines water features with growing cranberries;  the 50 Years of Bloom feature which features horticulture, the environment, and community; the Invisible Garden that features various fungi, insects and other invertebrates and plants that you can observe through a microscope.

You can make a weekend of it too with hotels and ticket packages to make sure you can take it all in and enjoy the local area and river too.

In collaboration with Superbreak
image source

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Seasonal Recipes - Pimms Pavlovas

I do enjoy a glass (or jug) of Pimms in the garden in the summer, and last weekend I decided to use a drop or two of my Pimms to create a dessert. This is perfect to serve at a dinner party as they can be fully prepared in advance, as well as looking a little bit special, which will impress your friends.

They may not look that easy to make, but trust me, they are a lot easier than they look. As long as you have a food mixer or electric whisk they won't even take much effort.

Pimms Pavlovas Pimms Pavlovas

Pimms Pavlovas Pimms Pavlovas

Seasonal Recipes - Pimms Pavlovas

For more seasonal recipes follow my Pinterest board

Olive and Rosemary Focaccia

When I need to make bread and I don't have a lot of time for kneading and second proving, my go-to recipe is Foccacia. It has to be the easiest bread that I've ever made. There is no kneading involved so you don't even need to get your hands dirty. You do really need a food mixer though as I can't imagine how much beating by hand it would take if you didn't.

Rosemary is one of my favourite flavours to add to the bread, and this time I added some olives to the dough too. It's a lovely soft and light bread that is great for tearing and sharing.

Olive and Rosemary Focaccia

Olive and Rosemary Focaccia

350g strong white bread flour 
7g yeast
7g salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
75ml olive oil 
280ml cool water
few sprigs of fresh rosemary 
150g mixed olives
  • Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt & oil and half of the water together in a food mixer
  • Add the rest of the water with the motor running until you get a thick cake like batter, adding more water if necessary
  • Mix for approx 5-10 10 mins on high speed
  • Put dough in a large oiled silicone baking pan & cover with clingfilm - I used 2 square silicone pans
  • Leave in a warm place to prove for approx 2 hours
  • Gently make some indentations with your fingers and drizzle over a little olive oil, sea salt and pop some sprigs of rosemary in some of the holes
  • Bake in a 200 C oven for approx 15 minutes until golden on the top
Olive and Rosemary Focaccia Olive and Rosemary Focaccia

I was recently sent some olives along with a copy of Olive it!- the essential olive recipe book, which is packed full of tasty looking recipes using olives, as well as information on the Olive it! campaign, history and healthy facts.

The book contains many inviting recipes for marinades, tapenades and tapas and plenty of colourful photos to tempt you.

olive it! cookbook

Better with BRITA - Announcing the shortlist

A little while ago I shared news of how you could win the chance of showcasing your food at the Big Feastival, with Brita and Delicious magazine.

 photo Better_with_BRITA_logo_zps33000ead.jpg

The time has now come for Brita to announce the shortlist, who are now one step closer to winning the chance to sell their delicious creations at The Big Feastival. The next stage is a judging day, where each recipe will be tasted by a panel of judges. Three winners will  then be chosen and they will be invited to attend The Big Feastival with BRITA!

The shortlist (in no particular order) is as follows, with a photo of the creations below (L-R, top to bottom)
  • Lana's Little Pumpkin Pies
  • Alex's Gluten Free Brownies
  • Zalena's Chicken Cavabs
  • Sarah's Southsea Pies
  • Linda's Gluten Free Cocoa Swirls
  • Ade's Bread
  • Jakes' Summer Fish Wellington
  • Rekha's Samosas
  • Emily's Cupcakes
  • Christine's Oatcakes
 photo Britashortlistjpg_zps43bd983f.jpg

Which ones would you like to see at the Big Feastival?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Lindeman's Wine - It's the Sunshine that Makes It

When I tell people that I'm a wine ambassador they give a little snigger, the kind of snigger that you do when you can't quite believe what you're hearing. A wine ambassador? what the heck is that?! 

Well let me tell you.

Myself and the lovely Mari (Mari's World) are working together with Lindeman's over the Summer to help spread some sunshine, as, according to Lindeman's, it's the sunshine that makes it. A full 1000 hours of sunshine goes into every drop of Lindeman's, created 170 years ago by Dr Henry Lindeman in the Hunter Valley, under the Australian sun.

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Over the next few months we shall be sampling some of the Lindeman's Bin range :

Bin 35 Rosé
Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon
Bin 50 Shiraz
Bin 65 Chardonnay
Bin 85 Pinot Grigio
Bin 95 Sauvignon Blanc

We shall also be sharing recipes, both using wine within the recipe itself and recipes to compliment the wines. I'm far from an expert when it comes to wine but Mari has some great tips for tasting wine, which she picked up whilst working in the family hotel in Italy, You can find her tips here.

Whilst at Britmums Live last month I was lucky enough to bag myself a spot at the Lindeman's wine experience, where we sampled each of the wines listed above. It's strange how your tastes can change day to day as whilst I sat in that room I preferred the Rosé by far, however once I was home and enjoying the sunshine of my garden the Chardonnay tasted so much nicer.

 photo lindemanscollagejpg_zps038091e1.jpg

Please join myself and Mari on our journey into the sunshine!

I am working together with Lindeman's to help spread the story of their wines

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Seasonal Recipes - Cherry Buns

One of the great things about Summer is the abundance of fresh local fruit. We have a small strawberry plant in our garden that has produced a handful of berries and a rhubarb plant that has provided us with enough for a couple of crumbles so far. We also have an apple tree that should be ready for picking soon and I'm lucky to have friends with allotments that supply my with more rhubarb and produce throughout the season.

Seasonal Recipes - Cherry Buns

Unfortunately I don't have my own supplier of cherries, but as the cherry season is in full swing they can be picked up very reasonably priced in shops. I have recently started writing for Great British Chefs and, as National Cherry Day is coming up this week, I decided that my first recipe would be cherry buns, made with fresh juicy cherries.

Seasonal Recipes - Cherry Buns

Seasonal Recipes - Cherry Buns

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings

A few years ago, when we lived in America we would eat out a lot more than we do now. At the time we could suit ourselves where we went, and never had to take kids menus, highchairs or babysitters into consideration. We didn't usually go to posh restaurants though, and instead would enjoy going to a local bar and sharing a basket of spicy wings - we knew how to live the high life.

When Vue Cinemas contacted me and asked me to create a street food recipe to celebrate the launch of Chef I knew that I wanted to try and recreate those spicy wings. I decided that they would be less messy than eating chicken wings by using bite sized pieces of chicken breast instead.

Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings

You can see this recipe, along with other tasty street food recipes on the Vue Cinemas website.

Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings

I was compensated for my time spent creating this recipe


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