Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Broad Bean & Mozzarella Salad - Seasonal Food -

We are reaching the end of broad-bean season. it started in April, with small, green and sweet beans, it's nearly September and we have nearly come to the last of the season.

 
 
An ancient staple, broad beans are eaten green in Europe but fully grown and dried in North Africa and the Middle East. Where broad beans are called by their Arabic name : ful.
 
Ful Medames is a hearty warm breakfast of mushed beans, garlic, olive oil and spices, often enjoyed throughout the day, at least by be who can never get enough. I associate it with the sound of the muezzin, the frisson and the excited anticipation of a new day of discovery.
 
Tragically, these peaceful times are no more and though I can't cook Ful Medames the way the Syrians or the Egyptians do, it was the inspiration this colourful salad.
 
Broad Bean and Mozzarella Salad
 
Ingredients
1 mug of cooked broad beans
8 to 10 small Mozzarella balls
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
a small handful of basil torn
As many small tomatoes as you like
a slash of lemon juice
a couple of tbsp. of olive oil
salt
pepper
Method
Place the lot in a bowl
toss well
refrigerate for 1/2h or more
serve with toasted sourdough bread.

I enter this inspired recipe to Simple and in Season a Ren Behan challenge hosted by Elizabeth Kitchen Diary 
 
 



 

Friday, 15 August 2014

Life-Style Article & Basil Pesto


Eat Travel Live offered me the opportunity to have a shot at my first life-style article. Being rather pleased with the result *smug face* I wanted to share.

Click here and all will be revealed.

From the start, I knew that life-style articles needed to be visual and direct what I didn't realise was that "keeping it simple" is a rather complicated business.

I was inspired by Butter Basil and Pesto post and the need for a bit of class when growing herbs in the kitchen.

The experience was made much easier by Sophie Conran's team who provided the images and all the help I needed. It will take me a bit of time to become an expert and hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future.

For the time being I cling to lesson number 1 : What matters is how it looks like on the page, because after all, that is what will remain.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Give Away #26 : Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Professional Whisk

Yet again, there are none for a long time and two arrive together. Though I didn't start my blog to fill it  with give-aways, it's lovely to share. The second give-away in so many posts could be titled: Whisk it like Heston 

As the GBBO returns to our screens, so do the tools of the trade.

Indeed the contestants are using some pretty nifty pieces of equipment.

In anticipation and for you to join in, from your own kitchen, Salter has joined forces with Pebble Soup to offer a lucky reader a Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Professional Whisk

With its 7.5cm diameter balloon this whisk allows in plenty of air. Ever wondered how the contestants achieve these perfect peaks. Professional tools is your answer.
 
To win use the rafflecopter below: First comment on the blog that will unlock the bonuses. Note that one bonus is linked to Facebook as Pebble Soup has recently got its own page. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway




Friday, 8 August 2014

Torta del Cielo with a French Twist & French Glacé cherries Give Away # 25

Torta del cielo (literally Cake of Heaven) is a light almond sponge cake said to have originated from Mexico. It's great at breakfast time but comes the afternoon cup of tea, Torta del Cielo is missing "un petit quelque chose".
 
And nothing better to give this exquisite recipe the little bite it needs than French Glacé Cherries. They complement perfectly the almond base perfectly and become the star of the show at first bite. Now this is a match made in heaven.
 
If you'd like to try this recipe or create your own heavenly dish. French Glacé Cherries teamed up with Pebble Soup to gift a lucky reader a fab goody bag. Read on.
 
But first the recipe  Torta del Cielo with a French Glacé Cherries
 
Ingredients
Serves 12
225g butter
About 15 French Glacé Cherries
70g plain flour sifted
175g ground almonds
225g caster sugar
3 eggs
1tsp organic vanilla essence
Icing sugar to decorate (optional)

Method
Preheat the oven to 170C

Beat together -in this order- the butter, the sugar, slowly add the ground almonds, the eggs and the sifted flour and the vanilla essence this can be done with food processor.

Roughly Chop the cherries and fold into the mixture.

Pour the mix in a greased baking tin and cook in the oven for 40 minutes. Test with a knife before cooling. It might need a little more cooking depending on your oven.

Let it cool before adding the icing sugar (optional)

And now for the give-away:

To win a  branded timer, kitchen scale, and apron and of course French Glacé cherries

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to know more about French Glace Cherries click here

Another post & recipe with French Glace Cherries  here

I've entered this post recipe in French Glace Cherries Competition


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Häagen-Dazs : What's in the Name?

Though I have been collaborating with Haagen-Dazs for years, I get cold sweat when I need to spell the brand's name. Has it got two g's, or two a's? Does the z come before the s or vice-versa?
 
Often wondered where on earth that name came from? All was revealed last week when I attended  the launch of the Häagen-Dazs new campaign: #realornothing.
 
With this campaign Häagen-Dazs is going back to base. The company stresses the importance of the ingredients. Take their vanilla ice-cream (by far my favourite). It consists of only five ingredients: eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and sugar, nothing else is added.
 
 
The chef associated with the #realornothing campaign is Natalie Coleman, Master Chef 2013 winner. Natalie cooked us lunch.
 
The menu, she regaled us with was 
based on the five ingredients used in Häagen-Dazs' vanilla ice-cream. Her confit duck egg with asparagus and truffle shavings was out of this world.
 
At the end of lunch, we had a little bit of time for a chat. Natalie is super-proud of her Central Street Cookery School's cooking lessons with kids. She told me, "They make simple things, like flat-bread, but you should see their faces when it comes out of the oven". So kids, expect vanilla ice-cream, next.

Now that we know what is in the ice-cream. What's in the brand's name?
 
For recently having gone through the process of naming a company, I can tell you that it's not an easy task. In my opinion, a name should at least try to represent the business in question. However that didn't seem to bother Reuben and Rose Mattus, husband and wife, Häagen-Dazs founders, in the 1959.
 
 Ruben and Rose both had Polish ancestors with Reuben born in Poland. Both had Jewish parents and both emigrated to New York in the early 1920's. 
It's not certain how they came to chose the name for their ice-cream enterprise.
 
One theory is that that they took the name of a European place  "to convey an aura of the old-world traditions and craftsmanship, values which Ruben held close to his heart" in this case Haage- and Scandi-fied it.
 
 Another is that Reuben wanted to brand the ice cream as a tribute to Denmark, a country that had supported the Jews during the war. Though Danes don't use umlauts, he added one, "to draw attention".

 
There you have it, a set of sound values, a pinch of gibberish, an umlaut where none should exist and the most famous ice-cream's name was born.
 
Read what other bloggers thought about the event:
A life of Geekery: A date with ....
  
Disclosure: I was a guest at this event by the  Great British Chefs and Häagen-Dazs 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Long or Round : Beetroot Salad w/ Yogurt Dressing

Beetroot Salad w/ Yogurt Dressing
 
Did you know that not all beetroots were round? Some are elongated, not only that but they come in several colours, white, golden yellow and all shades of red with the darkest being purple.
 
 
 
Though fascinating as it is, there is more, their taste vary too. Sadly in the shops when beetroots are found they are red, round and pickled. So it's a matter of hunting markets or use your power of suggestions on friends with an allotment.

Personally, it's until I tasted fresh beetroots that I started to like them as I find the pickled ones rather unpleasant. Vacpack is possibly the best way to cook beetroots.

I boil them until soft rather than oven cook them. It might be a crime but somehow it's quicker. The trick is to make sure not to pierce the skin and to leave 6cms of tail and leaves so that the roots don't bleed.

Once cooked, let them cool and delicately push the skin away from the root, slice, season and serve with a dressing. Yogurt dressing is the best for this dish
 
Simple Yogurt Dressing for Beetroot Salad
 
 
Ingredients
 
  • 250ml natural yogurt

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, roughly ground

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (white is best, black is fine)

  •  
    Method
    
    Mix all the ingredients together, it's as simple as that. If you have the time, let the sauce to infuse but that is not highly necessary.

    Saturday, 26 July 2014

    Cake Pops and Cupcakes


    cakepops

    Baking is proving an endless source of fascination: not only bakers demonstrate a wealth of creativity, produce beautiful goods  which we crave for but the world of baking is proving as vicious as that of the Bolshoi.
     
    Take cupcakes. They were around for ever, ignored and languishing on shop shells, when suddenly, they enjoyed a revival with a little bit of help from "Sex and the City". The whole story is reveal in this extremely well crafted article of  New York by Adam Sternbergh.
     
    For a while, everyone thought that cupcakes will reign supreme for a long time and the myriad of contenders would never dethrone them until the beginning of this month, when the craze started to peter out.

    To everyone amazement, a New York based cupcake shop and one of the major player "Crumbs Bake Shop" closed suddenly all its stores.This leaves Cake Pops with a chance to be the next cupcake.

    My money is on this moist center cakey bite. After all, it decorates as well, if not better than cupcakes. It is smaller therefore should contain less calories and with a few tips, it is not very difficult to make at home. If you use cake left overs it can be very economical.
     
    So what do you need to know before you start?
     
    Tip 1: To bind the cake mixture, use cream cheese, it's lower in fat than most recommended addition.
     
    Tip 2: Make sure that your pops are small enough, if you have a melon scoop use it to get all cakes equal in size.

    Tip 3:  Before inserting your sticks into your chilled cake balls, dip the end of each stick into the coating. This is the major tip, the last thing you want is doing all the work only to watch the cake pop to fall off its stick.
     
    Here is my first attempt at cake pop and as we now know, I am probably not going to win "Baker of the year" or if I do that will be the wooden spoon. But with Cake Pops, my confections were applauded and there were smiles all around on tasting

    #cakepops
    Basic Cake Pops
    Ingredients
    I use the leftovers of the coconut and strawberry cake I'd made previously

  • 80g unsalted butter, softened
  • 40g cream cheese, softened
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  •  Lollipop sticks
  •  dark chocolate - melted- though you can use coloured chocolate buttons or a whole variety of covers

  • To make the cream cheese frosting
        1.    Cream the butter and cream cheese together.
        2.    Gradually add the sugar, then continue to cream until light and fluffy.
        3.    Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.
     
    When this is done,
    crumble the cake and mix the cream cheese frosting in. The texture needs to be a little like clay.
     
    Break off a small piece of the mixture and roll into a ball with your palms, it should be 3cm in diameter.  Place each ball on a tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes, or until they are firm.
    Melt the chocolate until smooth and dip each lollipop stick in, up to about 3cms, insert the stick in a ball straight away. This will "stick" the cakepop.
     
    Coat each cake pop by dipping them in the melted chocolate, shake the excess and return to the fridge for 30 minutes.
     
    Use floral foam to stand the pops during the drying process, you could "dry" them upside down but then you would get a flat top.

    Further reads
     
    More on Crumbs closure here
    and from one of my favourite bakers Daffodils Cookies Pops
    1st cake-pop shop opened in the UK Dream Pop Bakery
     

    Wednesday, 23 July 2014

    Vote for Pebble Soup

    One of Pebble Soup's recipe is a finalist
    Thank you for all who voted. 

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