The Crazy Kitchen: December 2016

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Monday, 12 December 2016

Christmas Breakfast - Pigs In Blankets & Cinnamon Pancakes

With Christmas just around the corner we're getting into full Christmas mode. Lights have been switched on, presents have been wrapped, snowballs have been drunk and tubs of chocolates have been emptied. My eldest child once said that the best part about Christmas is the pigs in blankets. I've never really been that keen and would be more than happy to give up my share to the teenagers to fulfil their needs. That was until one day when I decided that they would make an awesome accompaniment to pancakes! For brunch we often enjoy tasty chipolata sausages and crispy bacon with pancakes and waffles, so why not combine the two and have festive pigs in blankets with the pancakes instead. They were a huge hit and I will definitely be adding them to the breakfast menu on Christmas morning.

Christmas Breakfast - Pigs In Blankets & Cinnamon PancakesWARM CINNAMON PANCAKES WITH PIGS IN BLANKETS AND MAPLE SYRUP

Christmas Breakfast - Pigs In Blankets & Cinnamon Pancakes

Pigs In Blankets & Cinnamon Pancakes - serves 4/5

12 good quality Chipolata sausages (I buy Asda Extra Special Pork Chipolatas)
12 rashers of good quality streaky bacon (I buy Asda Extra Special Oak Smoked)
2 eggs
100ml buttermilk
150ml milk
75g melted butter
180g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
  • Cut the chipolatas & bacon rashers in half
  • Stretch the bacon out with the back of a knife on a chopping board to thin it out
  • Wrap the bacon around the chipolatas
  • Place into a roasting tin or oven dish in a preheated 200℃ oven for approx 25 minutes, until the bacon is crispy
  • In the meantime make the pancakes by whisking the eggs, buttermilk, milk & melted butter together in a bowl or jug
  • In another large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar & cinnamon
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry & mix until just combined
  • Heat a non stick pan over a medium/high heat
  • Spoon some of the batter into the pan and cook 3 or 4 pancakes at a time - flipping over when the bases are golden brown 
  • Serve with wonderful Maple syrup

Christmas Breakfast - Pigs In Blankets & Cinnamon Pancakes

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.

Herbs and Spices: 6 types of zing to make any meal sing

If your cooking skills are basic and you’re getting bored with the same old dishes, you’re missing an easy win. All you need is 6 foolproof spice combinations that you can use with any type of meat and/or veg and suddenly the world (of food) is your oyster and your taste buds are zinging.
Honestly, it’s really not that difficult to take your meals from bland to bold provided you’re armed with what you might call a starter kit of spices used in different regional cuisines. Use each ‘set’ for chicken or fish, beef or pork or any meat you desire. If you’re looking to create an exciting vegetable dish, try your spice kit on roasted potatoes, sautéed or steamed greens, in stir fries and in marinades.
Here are the 6 most popular cuisines, as suggested by Mike James; an independent foodie working with UK experience provider and cooking lesson specialist Into the Blue:

1.     Italian Cuisine   
Ask any Italian and they’ll tell you that their country’s cuisine is a heartfelt affair. Italian cooking is based on traditional produce and flavours that include olive oil and garlic, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese. Pasta and meat, much of it cured, figures heavily. To get the flavour of Italy into your Spaghetti dish or Roast Chicken Breast, use:
Oregano (1 tsp), Basil (1 tsp), Garlic (3 cloves), Chopped Tomatoes (1 tin) for each 500g of meat.
 photo italian_zpsymmizf8v.jpg

2.     Greek Seasoning
The traditions of the Greek kitchen have travelled far and wide including well known dishes such as Moussaka, Kleftiko, Gyro and Tzatziki. Greek food at its best is freshly harvested or caught, prepared simply with local, seasonal ingredients and a few key flavours. To add a Hellenic touch to your Grilled Fish, Lamb Chop or Feta Cheese Salad, use:
Oregano (2 tsp), Olive Oil (4 tsp), Lemon Juice (4 tsp) for each 500g of meat.
 photo greek_zpsgk0tezcy.jpg

3.     Mexican Cooking
From simple Tacos to Chicken Enchiladas and Chilli Con Carne, Mexican cuisine is as exciting as it is popular. Many dishes include, or are accompanied by a spicy tomato salsa, guacamole (made from avocados), refried beans and sour cream. To give your chicken or vegetables the Mexican treatment, make sure you add: 
Chilli powder (2 tsp), Lime Juice (1 lime) for each 500g of meat.
 photo mexican_zpsmlv1yiha.jpg

4.     Indian Cuisine
India is a vast subcontinent with an array of different traditional cooking styles and flavours that is nigh on impossible to master. There’s a wealth of aromatic and unusual spices used in Indian cuisine including Turmeric and Cardamom, Fenugreek and Saffron. Console yourself with the fact that you can achieve a hint of India by adding: 
Cumin (½ tsp), Coriander (½ tsp), Curry Powder (2 tsp) for each 500g of meat.

 photo indian_zpsgicni4sz.jpg

5.     Oriental Seasonings
To sum up the rich tradition of Chinese, Japanese and all other Far East Asian foods as ‘oriental’ is of course a huge simplification, but hopefully permissible for the little trained cook. Whether you’re marinating chicken pieces or preparing a sumptuous Seafood Stir Fry, add some Eastern promise by using these key flavours:
Soy Sauce (60ml), Rice Vinegar (5 tsp), Garlic (3 cloves), Ginger Powder (¼ tsp), Sugar (2 tsp), Red Pepper Flakes (1 dash) for each 500g of meat.
 photo oriental_zpsi1snmlkl.jpg

6.     Thai Cooking
Thai cuisine is known the world over for its creamy curries and spicy, exotic flavours that are as mouthwatering as they are distinctive in taste. Create an authentic tasting marinade or basis for a great Thai curry by adding these ingredients:
Soy Sauce (60ml), Coconut Milk (120ml), Thai Fish Sauce (30ml), Green/Red Curry Paste (2 tsp), Fresh Coriander (handful, chopped) for each 500g of meat.
 photo thai_zpsmvl967qa.jpg

Unfortunately, in the absence of vibrant local markets selling fresh spices, most of us are having to rely on supermarkets or grocery stores for our supply of herbs, spices and special ingredients. But maybe if you’re a relative beginner in the kitchen that’s not such a bad thing. Many brands make it easy for the home cook, with ready made spice mixtures such as Mediterranean Seasoning, Fajita/Enchilada Seasoning, Chinese 5 Spice Powder and various strengths of Curry Powder.

For the more discerning home chef, you can subscribe to Spice Box Recipe Kits delivered by post at regular intervals. These lovingly prepared boxes contain all the fresh spices and recipes you need to prepare delicious and unusual dishes from all over the world. With all the cooking instructions you need alongside the fresh spices themselves, you’ll be able to wow your friends and family with adventurous dishes such as Texan Braised Beef, Yucatan Fish Tacos or Moroccan Tagine in no time!

Exploring Disney World Florida

The biggest advantage of taking a holiday to Florida is going to visit the theme parks and what they have to offer, Disney World is the absolute freedom you get. There are countless things to do and see in Florida, from the most gorgeous beaches and outstanding golf courses to stunning parks and huge shopping centres. More than anything, your children will have the time of their life surrounded by joy rides and the classic Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Duffy the Disney Bear.
The Magic Kingdom is an excellent place for families to start their adventurous trip. Tourists from around the world enjoy the rides, fireworks and parade here everyday. Make sure you enjoy the magical boat ride that plays the song “It's a small world.” The boat features over 300 dolls dressed in vibrant outfits to represent different cultures from around the globe. Whilst in the Magic Kingdom, don’t forget to experience the 20-minute tour of the park in the Walt Disney World Railroad, which is an antique steam powered train.
Exploring Disney World Florida
Epcot theme park is another interesting theme park for tourists of all ages. The park features cultures of 11 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Norway, China, Japan and Morocco. It may not sound very interesting for little children, but the park features a “Kidcot Fun Spot,” designed specifically for little children who can create their own souvenirs at the craft stations located at pavilions of each country in the park.
Exploring Disney World Florida
Another amazing theme park for families is Hollywood Studios, which features all-time classic movies and popular television shows. When you enter the park, the hotel staff will take you to an elevator where you will be taken on a ride through the building. You will get to hear twilight zone music and see frightening holograms followed by a steep descent in a simulated free fall drop. For slightly older children and young adults, the 30-minute Indiana Jones show is ideal where they get to learn the stunts that were executed while the movie was being made. You will also get to see the re-enactments during the show.
The LEGO Imagination Center spread on 3000 square foot area offers a free outdoor place for children to play with thousands of LEGO blocks and sculptures.
You must also visit one of Disney’s value resorts for which you can search on the web for the package selection of Florida holiday deals. Each of these hotels features gigantic models of our pop culture icons. Don't forget to take a family photo in front of Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head.
Exploring Disney World Florida
While in the area, don't forget to designate a few hours for a family stroll in downtown Disney and enjoy like a kid!!

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


Panettone Dessert 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 :

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


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