The Crazy Kitchen: June 2014

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Monday 30 June 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes

A couple of weekends ago I made almost 150 cupcakes for the village fete. It was all part of something that I was working on with Halifax, which I will elaborate more on another time, but you can find out more about the Halifax Pledge and how you can help your community here.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Since then I have caught the cupcake making bug again and last week I whipped up a batch of vanilla cupcakes to take with me to a picnic in the forest, where myself and friends watched Jessie J. I can't say that Jessie J is particularly my cup of tea but it was a great night out with friends and the cupcakes went down a storm, along with our picnic of cheese, crackers and strawberries.

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I used the Madagascan Vanilla Grinder that came in the June Desgustabox, which is a small grinder of dried Madagascan vanilla pods that can be finely or coarsely ground and used in baking or to top hot drinks. I love this as a simple way to add real vanilla to cakes and icing without the hassle of vanilla pods. It may seem quite pricey at £4.99 for such a small post, but I can see it lasting a long while.

 photo vanillagrinderjpg_zps50972bc0.jpg

Vanilla Cupcakes - makes approx 18

225g Butter, softened
225g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
Few twists of Dr Oetker Vanilla Grinder
225g Self Raising flour, sifted

For the Icing
150g Butter, softened
300g Icing sugar, sifted
Few twists of Dr Oetker Vanilla Grinder
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time
  • Add a few twists of the vanilla grinder
  • Fold in the flour
  • Spoon into cupcake cases in a muffin pan, approx 2/3 full
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for approx 18 minutes
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack whilst making the icing
  • Beat together the butter and half of the icing sugar until light and creamy
  • Add the rest of icing sugar and a few twists of the vanilla grinder
  • Beat well until smooth and creamy - if it's a little stiff, add a teaspoon or two of room temperature water - you could add room temperature milk but come on, who has room temperature milk?
  • Pipe icing onto the cakes and top with decorations of your choice
Vanilla Cupcakes Vanilla Cupcakes Vanilla Cupcakes

This month the contents were as follows :
  • Estrella Damm Spanish lager (alc 4.6%)
  • Urban Fruit snack pack
  • Dr Oetker Madagascan Vanilla grinder
  • Bear Alpha Bites alphabet cereal
  • Veetee Microwaveable rice
  • Cawston Press sparkling rhubarb drink
  • Lambrini Strawberry (alc 5%)
  • Be Fast Breakfast on the go x 2
  • Elizabeth Shaw Amaretto flutes

totalling over £22

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I have a discount code which will entitle readers to a £3.00 discount off their box when registering - regular price £12.99 including p&p.

code : 2N4MJ

You can follow Degustabox on Facebook and Twitter or check out their website here.

I was provided with a Degustabox free of charge

Thursday 26 June 2014

Nutribullet Juices, Shakes and Ice Cream

I love kitchen gadgets and appliances and I'm always happy to receive a new one to try out. When Selfridges got in touch to see if I would like to try their Nutribullet I was more than happy to receive it. I've often looked at these and wondered if they were all they were cracked up to be, and here was my chance to find out.

The Nutribullet consists of a powerful 600 watt motor and blades that pulverise fruit and vegetables, including the skins where all the nutrients are. It comes with 2 extractor blades, 4 cups, lids, rim and a handle, making it easy to rustle up a juice and take it with you.

I've been using the Nutribullet for a couple of weeks but so far haven't varied my ingredients much, trying to stick to the green juices rather than consuming too much fruit.

My favourite combination by far could be called a healthy mojito really as it has strong flavours of mint and lime, spiced up with fresh ginger, although it doesn't contain any alcohol (maybe next time...)

super green juice in the Nutribullet

It's perfect to start the day or for a quick and easy lunch. Add the ingredients to the cup, top up with water, place the blade on, place onto the base unit and press down with a slight twist, and without effort the ingredients are turned into a healthy juice.

super green juice

Th Nutribullet comes with a user guide and recipe book as well as a hardback recipe book, with plenty of recipes to suit all tastes and needs - such as energy boosting, weight loss and mood improving (all of which I could do with at times!)

Of course you don't need to confine the use of your Nutribullet to healthy juices, I quickly rustled up some banana 'ice cream' using some over ripe bananas that I had in the freezer.

hazelnut banana ice cream

Hazelnut Banana Ice Cream

400g bananas, sliced and frozen
50g Hazelnut butter*
1 tbsp Cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp Almond milk
  • Add all of the ingredients to the large cup and turn the machine on, shaking the ingredients down onto the blade if necessary
You will end up with a deliciously creamy (and healthy) dessert.

hazelnut banana ice cream

As I had quite a few strawberries that had seen better days I decided to make strawberry milkshake for the kids, by adding some milk and a scoop of ice cream.

strawberry milkshake

Milkshake always tastes nicer when it's in a nice glass.

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I'm looking forward to trying out, and sharing, many more juices over the coming weeks and months.

* Hazelnut butter   was provided by the 

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Elizabeth Sponge with Lactofree #SayYestoSummer

Elizabeth Sponge with Lactofree #SayYestoSummer

Look at that beauty!

I love it when a sponge cake rises exactly as it should, and doesn't collapse the moment you take it out of the oven. My old oven is a bit temperamental and bakes more on one side than the other so it's always a risk turning the tin around part way through the baking process. Today was a good day though and my cake turned out perfectly.

I am working together with Lactofree through the Summer on their #SayYestoSummer campaign, and will be receiving products and ingredients to enable me to get to know the Lactofree range and share results of my baking with my readers.

As Wimbledon is currently taking place I was sent a Wimbledon inspired hamper of goodies, including the most gorgeous picnic blanket and cute fabric strawberries.

Elizabeth Sponge with Lactofree #SayYestoSummer

If you fancy trying this delicious cake you can find the recipe here, but first please go to the Lactofree Facebook page, where you can win a walking holiday to the Peak District complete with a picnic basket and blanket.

Elizabeth Sponge with Lactofree #SayYestoSummer Elizabeth Sponge with Lactofree #SayYestoSummer Elizabeth Sponge with Lactofree #SayYestoSummer

If you want to try out more yummy summer recipes go to the Lactofree #SayYestoSummer page

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Strawberry & Lemon Curd Buns

Strawberry & Lemon Curd Buns

Berries are a food typically associated with summer, even though they are readily available all year round these days. I always have a punnet of raspberries in my freezer ready to chill down a glass of wine or to add to a smoothie, but they are always better tasting in the summer, especially fresh from the fields on a pick your own farm.

I bet you didn't know that listening to certain sounds whilst eating your berries can alter the way that they taste. For example, if you listen to happy, summery sounds, people found that strawberries tasted 'fruitier'.

Seasonal Berries have put together a few soundscapes for us to put this research to the test.


Now, I'm not sure that these sounds made my strawberries taste any sweeter, but the tracks were really relaxing, especially the beach *drifts off into relaxing holiday mode*, so why don't you try it out for yourself - after you've made my Strawberry & Lemon Curd Buns of course.

Strawberry & Lemon Curd Buns - makes 12

For the dough
225ml milk
500g white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
50g butter, softened
7g yeast

For the filling
150g Lemon curd
300g strawberries, sliced

For the icing
80g Lemon curd
50g Full fat cream cheese
  • Add the dough ingredients into a food mixer & combine & knead until smooth & elastic
  • Place in a greased bowl and cover with clingfilm and leave to double in size for an hour or two
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle  
  • Spread the lemon curd over the dough and scatter with strawberries
  • Roll the dough up along the long side & press the end to seal
  • Cut into 12 equal slices using a very sharp knife
  • Lay the slices into a well buttered baking dish
  • Cover with clingfilm & leave in a warm place for approx 1 hour, until doubled in size
  • Bake in a preheated 200 C oven for approx 15-20 minutes until golden brown
  • Beat the leon curd & cream cheese together until smooth
  • Leave the buns to cool a little and spread the creamy lemon topping over the buns
  • Serve warm or cold 
Strawberry & Lemon Curd Buns

Sweet, sticky and very very moreish.

Strawberry & Lemon Curd Buns Strawberry & Lemon Curd Buns

I was provided with some strawberries for the experiment

Monday 23 June 2014

Root Beer Floats, 'Messi' Ribs & Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble

After a fab couple of days away at Taste of London and Britmums Live, Sunday was spent tidying up the garden and doing a spot of cooking.

Whilst away a few lovely parcels arrived containing all sorts of exciting things, and I have managed squeeze a few of them into this post.

If you like American sweets then you might be interested to hear that you can win a bundle of sweet treats from Kingdom of Sweets like the one below, just pop over to their Facebook page or Twitter to find out how.

kingdom of sweets kingdom of sweets

I thought I would introduce the kids to the delicacy that is a Root Beer Float, forgetting that root beer actually tastes like Germoline and I actually can't stand the stuff. My kids (despite being born in America) thought the same as me. I think we'll try coke floats next time.

The peanut butter M&M's were a real treat for breakfast though, and even the husband liked them, despite claiming to detest peanut butter.

Unfortunately you can't win the wooden heart shaped trays with the sweets, but you can buy those from The Kitchen Gift Company for just £15.95 for the set of three.

wooden heart trays
root beer float root beer float

On the menu for our al fresco dinner was 'Messi Ribs', a World Cup idea from Bacofoil, with a fresh salad and dressing inspired by chef Neil Nugent in the Morrisons lounge at Britmums Live, accompanied by potato wedges and finished off with a rhubarb crumble (with my homegrown rhubarb!)

messi ribs garden salad rhubarb and ginger crumble

For the ribs I made a rub, coated the ribs, vacuum packed them and then placed them in an 80 degrees C water bath for around 6 hours. You can of course simmer them in water and spices until tender, before coating with the bbq sauce and popping them on a hot bbq or in the oven. You don't need to use exact ingredients and quantities that I have listed below, depending on your taste you may want to add more spice or more sugar - just experiment until you find your own 'rib rub' and sauce recipe.

Messi Ribs - serves 4

1kg Pork ribs
'Rib Rub', made up of a 'sprinkling' of the following - celery salt, garlic granules, cinnamon & smoked paprika

Barbecue Sauce
500g shallots, peeled & quartered
400g tin chopped tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2cm fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
2 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

  • Coat the ribs with the rub and cook in a sous vide or simmer in water until tender
  • Drain the ribs and set aside
  • Add all of the sauce ingredients to an oven proof (lidded) pot and place in a preheated 180C oven for around 30 minutes, until the shallots are tender.
  • Allow to cool slightly before blending to a sauce in a food processor or blender
  • Coat the ribs in the sauce and then place on a hot bbq or in a 200C oven for around 20 minutes, until browned around the edges

I chose to oven bake my ribs this time (see my 72hour sous vide bbq ribs recipe here), and to avoid having to scrub my roasting pan I lined it with Bacofoil non stick foil, and then lifted the foil straight out of the pan (with the ribs on) and onto a serving tray.

bbq ribs

rhubarb and ginger crumble

Rhubarb & Ginger Crumble 

500g Rhubarb - cut into 1" pieces
Ginger syrup (approx 50-100ml depending on how sweet you like it)
150g Plain flour
50g oats
100g Butter
200g Caster sugar

  • Place the rhubarb in a pie dish & drizzle with the syrup
  • Mix the flour and oats together and rub in the rubber, until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • Stir in the sugar and top the rhubarb
  • Bake in a 180C oven for around 30 minutes, until golden on the top and the rhubarb is tender and bubbling through the crumble

This post includes a few items that I have been sent for the purpose of review/to use in my cooking, as follows:

Bacofoil non stick foil
Kingdom of Sweets
The Kitchen Gift Company
Lindeman's Chardonnay (received in my Britmums goody bag)

Thursday 19 June 2014

Strawberry Coconut Iced Lollies

The sun has been out this week so the kids are asking for lollies and ice cream. Lollies are often full of sugar, but it doesn't need to be this way. These iced lollies are made up of just two ingredients, neither of which is sugar, so not only are they nice and healthy for kids but they are great for the paleo diet too.
  Strawberry Coconut Iced Lollies

Strawberry Coconut Iced Lollies

400g strawberries, washed and hulled
50g sachet of Creamed coconut - I used Pataks
  • Blend the ingredients together in a food processor until smooth
  • Pour into the lolly moulds and freeze overnight

Strawberry Coconut Iced Lollies

I used my new Nutribullet from Selfridges to make these. With just a little added almond milk it makes a great smoothie. More Nutribullet recipes coming soon.

Strawberry Coconut Iced Lollies

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Sparkling Rum Cocktail

When you get an email asking if you would like to receive ingredients to make a cocktail, the answer is a no brainer really. Everything arrived with perfect timing, at the end of a busy week and the start of an even busier weekend.
  Gold Fever Sparkling Rum Cocktail

The cocktail was rum based with the addition of mint, ginger and lime - think Mojito spiced with ginger. As a bit of a twist, instead of being topped up with ginger ale or soda, Appletiser is used.

Myself and the husband soon down a jug of this fruity and refreshing cocktail, which is definitely going to be a popular choice this summer - bye bye Pimms, hello Gold Fever.

Gold Fever Sparkling Rum Cocktail

Gold Fever Sparkling Rum Cocktail

1/2 x 25g pack fresh mint leaves
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
2 limes
1 red apple, cored & thinly sliced
3cm piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
ice cubes
250ml golden rum
750ml Appletiser
  • Place the mint and sugar in a large jug and crush lightly with the end of a rolling pin
  • Squeeze in the juice from one of the limes then thinly slice the remaining lime and add to the jug along with the sliced apple and ginger.
  • Add some ice cubes to the jug, followed by the run and Appletiser.
  • Stir and serve while lightly sparkling

TIP Add sliced strawberries before serving

i was provided with all the ingredients to make the cocktail

Chilli Chocolate Almonds #SnackHappy

For the past three weeks or so (apart from when I had a stomach bug and my diet consisted of crumpets for four days) I have been enjoying a portion of almonds for my breakfast, along with my morning coffee. It was all part of the Snack Happy challenge to see how I would feel after switching my usual snack for a handful of almonds. Before the challenge I was already snacking on nuts, although I don't tend to snack much really, which is why I opted to have them as my breakfast instead. 

Just 23 almonds is all that I have, along with a coffee, and quite surprisingly this usually keeps my hunger at bay until well after lunchtime.

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It doesn't seem like much of a breakfast, right? I was surprised how filling a tiny tin of almonds can actually be, but they are perfect for breakfast on the go, and full of lots of good things.

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Last week I went to an evening event in London where a few of us gathered and listened to the lovely people form The Almond Board of California talk about almonds and their benefits. Denise Van Outen was also there as she is a lover of almonds herself. We drank almond cocktails, ate pick n mix almonds and ate delicious almond based hors d'oeuvres.

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I decided to spice up my almonds a touch this week by giving them a coating of cocoa powder and chilli. 

Chilli Chocolate Almonds

Chilli Chocolate Almonds

100g almonds
1 egg white
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
  • Mix the egg white into the almonds, coating them fully and discarding any excess
  • Mix the chilli powder, cocoa powder and salt together
  • Toss the almonds into the chilli/cocoa mix and coat fully
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for around 10 minutes, until crispy
  • Allow to cool before enjoying

Chilli Chocolate Almonds

If you have a sweet tooth try coating them in sugar and cinnamon - delicious!

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Monday 16 June 2014

FIFA World Cup Feijoada - Brazilian Black Bean Stew

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil well under way I have decided to share a recipe for a traditional Brazilian black bean stew, known as Feijoada. I have researched many recipes, all with slight variations, and have come up with my own variation. The basics include black beans and at least two cuts of pork, along with plenty of onion and garlic. I've used pork shoulder and pork belly, along with chorizo and a smoked sausage, which gives this beautifully rich stew, which is perfect for a World Cup get together.
  Feijoada - Brazilian Black Bean Stew

I've used Coca-Cola in cooking before, to make 'Ham in Coke', which was a great success, so I decided to add some to the stew as I figured it would make the gravy much richer than water would. Coca-Cola is also a great accompaniment to a salty dish such as this stew, and what better way to celebrate the World Cup than with promotional World Cup 2014 bottles of Coca-Cola, found right in the middle of the Carbonated Drinks aisle in my local Tesco in Rugeley.

 photo cocacolaaislejpg_zpsa45c1ed8.jpg  photo cocacolashelfjpg_zps8659847f.jpg  photo cocacola4packjpg_zps2d3a87ee.jpg  photo cocacolabottlejpg_zps752f4ff5.jpg

I used the slow cooker to make this, but it can be made in a large pan just as easily, over a very low heat. If you're having friends over to watch the football just pop it all in the slow cooker first thing in the morning and you will have a beautiful stew by early afternoon. 

Feijoada - Brazilian Black Bean Stew

Feijoada - Brazilian Black Bean Stew - serves 8-10

500g Black beans
700g Pork shoulder
500g Pork belly
100g Chorizo, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
bulb of garlic, peeled & crushed
200g Smoked sausage, sliced
400g tin of tomatoes
150ml Coca-Cola

  • Place the beans in a bowl and cover with water and leave to soak overnight
  • Drain the beans and add to the slow cooker
  • Cut the pork shoulder and belly into 1" pieces and fry in batches until browned, add to the slow cooker
  • Fry the chorizo, onion and garlic until lightly browned and add to the slow cooker
  • Add the smoked sausage, tomatoes and Coca-Cola to the slow cooker and give everything a good stir
  • Cook on high heat for approximately 4 hours, until the beans are tender

Serve with boiled rice and fresh coriander

Feijoada - Brazilian Black Bean Stew Feijoada - Brazilian Black Bean Stew Feijoada - Brazilian Black Bean Stew

Follow all the excitement on twitter with the hashtags #BigMatchPlanner & #CollectiveBias

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