Make it Easy - Cook Book Review - with Roast Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, Parma Ham, Walnuts Recipe

It's said that we cook on average no more than 5 recipes out of any cookbook. Therefore when I received Make it Easy by Jane Lovett for review my jaw dropped: This book contains over 3/4 of the recipes, I cook regularly.
This is a cookbook from a home cook for home cooks. The photography is beautiful, the recipes have a "solid feel" to them. Fool-proof, simple, not frightening are the words, on the cover used to describe this collection of 100 recipes.
Jane works with fresh products from her kitchen garden and with local producers, a common thread with Pebble Soup HQ, though my kitchen garden is slightly grander as I rely on The Queen Orchard's in Greenwich Park where I volunteer.

In the fullness of each season, she confronts the gluts conundrum: what to do with.... all this basil, for example : pesto. Her influences are cosmopolite leaning on Asian and Italian/French recipes. She talks about Tartiflette, readers may remember the Tommiflette.
Made it Easy emphasizes getting much of the work done ahead of time which is a plus in the festive season. I am considering making her savoury Palmiers for Christmas evening do but to start with I tried my hand at Roast Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese, Parma Ham and Walnuts.

 Click here to watch the recipe explained step-by-step by the author herself.
Disclaimer: words are my own, I was sent a complimentary copy of Make it Easy for review. RRP £12.99

Give Away #32 : Hotel Chocolat - Advent Calendar For two - worth £26.00

Together is better we all know that. As I was ready to write a tribute to the beauty and warmth of togetherness, it occurred to me that indeed there were rather to many exceptions to the rule. If together has its place, similarly, sharing can be very inconvenient.
It's never been truer than when faced with an advent calendar. From Childhood we are told to share what is behind the small window, opened each morning with anticipation, but to be honest, it has never felt quite right to hand out the long awaited surprise to somebody else. 
But things are looking up. Not long ago, advent calendars where kids stuff only. As an adult, it looked a  little odd when you announced that you "wanted one" too. Then, marketing caught up on the idea and appeared a number of advent calendars containing adult treats. 
Great but how does one share each little goody?
Hotel Chocolat came up with the perfect solution. An Advert Calendar for Two.
And now, I am sharing it with you. Not my own calendar, you'll understand. That would be silly. No, you can have your own.

Good luck


a Rafflecopter giveaway

What's New in the Kitchen #12 : Like, Love, Adore

In the past few months, Pebble Soup HQ has received a few products for review.

One I liked
Having been crowned "Cook Like a Celebrity" champion boosted my baking confidence. Telling the world that I am a baking disaster is not appropriate any longer but I am still shaky on the cake and biscuits front and I like to play safe.
The new Easy Bake Non-Stick Bacofoil paper, non-stick on both sides so there is no need to grease is a handy tool for a good result. I used it with the French Bread and Butter Pud: Le Pudding.

One I loved

We travel the Chablis route before. This is a reminder that wine pairing is as important as choosing a festive menu. If you are looking for a fresh and lively wine over the next couple of months for fish and poultry terrine or simply for a pre-dinner drink, with bottle of Chablis Appellation d'origine controlee nothing can go wrong.
Be aware though The name "Chablis" has long been usurped and sometimes still is. There is only one true Chablis and it's from France.

One I adored
My favourite product this term.

Since the demise of the much loved and used Tefal express. Looking for a replacement has not been easy. So it was with delight and a little apprehension that I tried one of the Microplane® Gourmet Series  

It's an excellent grater which comes in three colours for all of us who are a little obsess by making sure that our gadgets look as good as they perform.

It's fast and best of all it grates in both directions.
For example take cheese instead of the normal grated cheese we know it produces curls of thin ribbons. There is a lot of science behind the series and it seems to work.
The result is light and thin ribbons.

As usual, I will be doing a Xmas round up so join me again 

Roasting a Suckling Pig

It's party time. About this time of the year, the clocks go back, I turn our mattress to the winter side and the bathroom scale is set back by 5 pounds. There will be no escape, we are going to feast  for the next couple of months.
In fact at Pebble Soup HQ we have already succumbed. Having been lured into  the world of small producers and small family businesses, my research took me to an importer of products from Spain. A bit more about this in a minute.
I was not looking for it to happen, it just did: a boneless suckling pig  found its way to my freezer. But what does one do with a little pig?

It's a very good alternative to turkey but contrary to what the press would have us to believe we are still a way away from Christmas. However a little pig is a little too large for two and certainly not adequate for friends who don't like fat on their meat (and I seem to have many of these).Having found the perfect companions for the occasion, I set myself to prepare a feast. But you know me, that was not without doing a bit of research on
The advantages of roasting a suckling pig :
  • The obvious reason: boneless meat, easy to pick at, very similar to pulled pork so you don't have to watch your table manners. 
  • It is a real show stopper and a bit of an event in itself.
  • There is very little prep and as long as you oven is big enough, no cooking worries
  • It's rich, moist and tender and all the juices make the meat really sweet.
My favourite bit: the crispy skin
I borough the recipe from Grey's Fine Food
  • 2.5 Kg Boneless Suckling Pig

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • 1 Large Bulb of Garlic
  • 1 Carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 Onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Stick of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 Leek, roughly chopped
  • 300ml Water or chicken stock

  • Method
    Pre-heat your oven to 250°C for 30 minutes.
    Cut the garlic bulb in half round its diameter and lightly rub the skin of the suckling pig.
    Place the suckling pig in a large roasting tin with the garlic and chopped vegetables, drizzle some good quality extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt.
    Roast joint for 20 minutes at 250°C top get the skin of the piglet going, turn the heat down to 200°C and roast for a further 50 minutes.
    Keep an eye on the garlic to make sure it does not burn. Increase the oven temperature to 250°C once again, remove the garlic, keeping it warm and roast for a final 25 to 30 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crispy.
    Remove the piglet from the oven and take it out of the roasting tin onto a serving platter with the garlic.
    Drain the oil excess from the roasting tin, keeping the roasted vegetables inside and pour about 300ml of water or chicken stock into the roasting tin and return to the stove to deglaze the bottom of the pan with the liquid and make the sauce.
    Use a whisk to scrape all the caramelisation from the pan.
    Bring to gravy to the boil and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, pass through a fine sieve and serve with the roast suckling pig.

    All in all very simple, the only difficulty is to source the meat. Which brings me to Grey's Fine Foods. Their products are delicious. They are an importer of food and drinks from Spain and work with small producers and family business.
    For more info call 01937 845 767.
    Disclaimer: No money was exchanged for this post- I received a sample- all the words are my own


    Comfort Food Inheritance Recipes Round up & October Winner

    Thank you all who visited the Inheritance Recipes in October and to the lovely bloggers who linked up their comfort food recipes. Here is the round up and the winner's name who will received £30 delivery from Asda.

    The theme in October was comfort food - Let's start with the savoury recipes

     One word stood out SAUSAGES. Sausages are always popular when the cold starts to show its ugly head

    Starting at the center on the top row and in a clockwise motion

    From Farmers Girl Kitchen a classic sausage and bean casserole

    Apron Free Cooking shared her Grandma’s Lil Smokies Casserole  

    A recipe from From the Gluten Free Alchemist  her  mini sausage pasty 
    As it was curry week Bangers and Mash drew on her Malay inheritance with a Malaysian Lamb Curry
    Two recipes from myself a Chicken and Chorizo and a Simple Caramelised Onions
    And from Margot of Coffee and Vanilla two from her native Poland a Kasha: Roasted Buckwheat and Egg Dumplings used in a delicious veggie soup with dill
    And now for the desserts and preserve
    Starting with a classic comfort food, nothing soothes better than a classic Jam tart Tyn and Thyme's recipe

    From a regular of Inheritance Recipes De Tout Coeur Limousin a Sticky Toffee Pud and a French Rice pudding, un Gateau de Riz

    We always enjoy to see one of From Fab Food for All's recipe. Here is her inherited lemon curd

    A recipe which travelled a long way, passed down to generations is From Food Glorious Food a coffee tart from the Blue Mountain range, in Jamaica

    Last but not least what Apron Free Cooking describe as a Pink Fluff

    We called on ASDA which kindly offered the prize and ask their representative to pick a winner and the
    Many congratulations, we will be in touch soon.
    In November, Inheritance Recipes is hosted by Margot Coffee 'n Vanilla, head here to link your Festive Recipes. We'd love to see what you've concocted for  Thanks Giving, Christmas and al.

    Home sense kindly sponsored Inheritance Recipes with a £50 gift card  to spend in of their stores on festive decorations, gifts or other treasures you may find.

    Do join us and good luck


    Inheritance Recipes - November -

    In November, Inheritance Recipes is hosted by Margot Coffee 'n Vanilla, head here to link your Festive Recipes. We'd love to see what you've concocted for  Thanks Giving, Christmas and al.
    Home sense kindly sponsored Inheritance Recipes with a £50 gift card  to spend in of their stores on festive decorations, gifts or other treasures you may find.

    Do join us and good luck

    Le Pudding

    Facts on food waste: "We throw more than 7 million tonnes of food and drinks from our homes every year, that's 19% of what we buy. The majority of which could have been eaten" according to  Love Food Hate Waste campaign. Not only this cost the average household £470 a year but it's bad for the environment.
    There are initiatives to stop waste. One of the most original, I've come across is local to me, in Greenwich, the local council organises  a Gleaning project to stop fruits and vegetables to rot on the spot and make these products edible again as jam, drinks, chutney etc.
    Personally, I still hang on to a old French tradition which is to make breadcrumbs with stale bread and freeze them for schnitzels, fish cakes and the famous bakery staple called Le Pudding, a kind of bread pudding without the fat. A simple bake which has been a favourite from childhood and which I rediscovered the other day when sadly the croissants bought from Tesco were so bad that, I consider throwing them away.

     Instead I baked Bertrand Bertinet's  grown up version of Le Pudding.
         Remember Bertrand Bertinet Here is a post we dedicated to his master-class

    500g leftover bread, croissants, breadcrumbs etc
    300g custard (bought or made)
    200g sultanas
    4-5 tablespoons rum
    butter for greasing
    icing sugar for dusting

    You'll need to bake the mix in a oven preheated at 180C

    Put all the bready ingredients in a mixer and crumble until rough

    transfer to a bowl with all the other ingredients except the icing sugar

    Mix well. Line a tray with lightly buttered baking paper and pile the mixture on the top, smooth and cook for 35 minutes until the picks are crisps.

    Bloggers too do their bit to stop waste here is a challenge hosted by Veggie Desserts

    along with Fab Food 4 all 'n Fuss Free Flavours all Credit Munch, a challenge which collates lots of no waste recipes. 


    Chicken and Chorizo with Tomato Pepper Sauce

    Smoky chorizo, delicate texture of chicken breast a versatile recipe which can be use as a base for mince meatballs, to fill pasta or to make burgers.

    Dishes fall out of fashion and come back in, at regular intervals, riding the big wheel of fancy. If we wait long enough, we might see a version of the 70's prawn cocktail back on our tables. Though, I hope that by the time, that one makes another apparition, it will have been vastly improved by some clever Food-Blogger.
    However there are recipes which we love and are a constant. Pan-fried chicken in Tomato Sauce is one of them: rustic, inspired by Italian casseroles, pleasing and filling.
    This recipe uses roasted peppers
               Tip: Roast 4 or 5 peppers at the time and keep the left overs in a jar filled with olive oil in the fridge, you can tip it up regularly.
    Roasted Peppers: place peppers under a hot grill and grill for 12-15 minutes, turning half-way. When they have blackened, put in a plastic bag until cool or run under cold tap. They will peel easily.
    Chicken and Chorizo  with Tomato Pepper Sauce
    chicken breast (one per person)
    60g cooking chorizo
    2 shallots
    2 garlic clove
    1tsp smoke paprika (optional)
    2-3 peppers
    can plum tomatoes
    a little sugar, salt and pepper
    Flatten chicken breast with a kitchen-roll
    Cook the chorizo in a dry frying pan until crisps, remove the chorizo, keep the oil and fry the chicken breast for 5 minutes.
    Grill the peppers
    While this is cooking nicely turn your attention to the sauce. In a little olive oil, sweat the shallots slowly, add the garlic, a little sugar, salt, pepper and the paprika if used and the grilled peppers when these are ready. Leave it to simmer for 30 minutes.
    Return the chicken, the chorizo and its oil to the tomato sauce pan and cook for a further 10 minutes. serve with chunky bread.

    Chicken and Chorizo  with Tomato Pepper Sauce is the kind of recipe which is easy to pass on. I use to cook something very similar when I was a teenager. For this reason, I add it to #InheritanceRecipes challenge which I co-host with Coffee and Vanilla



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