What's New #20 : Collections

LIFE STYLE

10 out of 10 for originality: Did you follow London Fashion Week 17? Let me tell you, it was all about "Streetwear". The humble T-shirts which we see as a commodity is definitely back in fashion. Tucked in with a smart jacket over for men, loose on cropped trousers for ladies.

But finding a company which offers a variety of design to cover a wide range of tastes is not obvious. So here is my tip, have a look at T-lab. Their bold shapes and colours denote of a "less-can-be-more" attitude worthy of a catwalk without the three figures price tag.

T-lab Tshirts,


I fell for the snowflake design and can't wait to hear the reaction on present-day
RRP £25

Little Greene "Colour of England" New Colour Card

The updated palette is extensive. It comprises 184 shades: 170 individual colours 14 of which are repeated in varying strengths as ‘Colour Scales’. The colour tabs can be lifted to allow material matching. That is very clever.

The card spans over 300 years of historic interior design and includes many authentic 18th, 19th and 20th century shades, which are denoted by red icons identifying the era of their provenance.  So if you are a purist and want to match exactly the paint to building's period, it will be easy to do
These archive colours sit harmoniously alongside contemporary shades conceived to meet the requirements of 21st-century living. 



Watch this space, as Pebble Soup will soon be working more with Little Greene, taking part in a re-decoration project.

GROCERY

Have you entered Heinz  Good Sauces Giveaway No? Let me try to convince you to do so. If you have tried to do a pepper sauce in the past, you'll know that it's not straight forward so most of us do it on special occasions only.

I am not going to pretend that Heinz has bottled up the secret of difficult sauces but their new collection offers good alternative for when you fancy that little bit of luxury but can't be bothered with all the faffing. Say for example you are craving for a steak sandwich, Here is a 20 minutes recipe.

Classic steak sandwich
20 MINS PLUS RESTING | SERVES 4 | EASY

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
2 large onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
500g sirloin steak (about 2 large or 4 small)
100g rocket
1 baguette or 2 batons, halved
100g Heinz [Seriously] Good Creamy Pepper Sauce

Method
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil and the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 10 mins, until golden and beginning to caramelise. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add the rest of the oil to the pan, and turn up the heat. Season the steaks and cook for 2-3 mins per side, or until done to your liking. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for 4-5 minutes before slicing.
  3. Arrange the rocket over the halved baguette, then top with the onions followed by the steak. Spoon on the Heinz [Seriously] Good Creamy Pepper Sauce and sandwich together. Serve immediately.
Heinz Seriously Good Range

 Talking about quality shop bought healthy food reminds me that I have neglected to bring to your attention two products which have their own Spring/Summer Collections and delighted me when I tried them.

 I am Super Food has a new range of tasty grains meals which are far from being boring. When I have been seating at my desk for hours with just the occasional break, sometimes I fancy something nutritious and tasty but easy like opening a tin.

I am super food range, grains ready meal
The range of Souper is stocked in Sainsbury's, Whole Food Markets and Asda price starts at £1.49

Trusty Pukka Pies recently launched its delicious new recipe for the nation’s favourite All-Steak Pie – and this month it won a Bronze Award at the prestigious 2017 British Pie Awards.

The recipe renovation includes high-quality, tender and chunky cuts of beef in a richer, darker, oozier gravy - all encased in new and improved golden pastry consisting of over 100 light and flaky layers. 

As I was craving for a meat pie, yes that happens princesses crave Lavender biscuits, I am more a pie-craver myself, Pukka Pies invited me to try their new range and I was not disappointed
Pukka Pie

Pukka Pies are available at retailers nationwide including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Co-Op from £1.69.

Disclaimer: All the products in this post were sent to us for review purposes. We were not financially compensated for this post. All opinion expressed are our own and we retained full editorial control.

Give Away # 37 : Heinz [Seriously] Good Sauce New Collection Presentation Box

We all have a little food vice, nice! mine is shop bought mayo. Sure, I will advocate making your own and whenever you can. I do but, we don't always have the time, do we? and similarly for other sauces.

This is where trusty Heinz steps in and with summer around the corner Heinz has launched four brand new varieties of their [Seriously] Good Sauce.

Competition

Moreover, the company gifted a presentation box to a Pebble Soup lucky reader

competition, foodies give away,

Besides four ramekins the box contains

Heinz [Seriously] Good Pepper Sauce
A creamy and warming pepper sauce is perfect for a cheeky mid-week steak treat. For those who would prefer to avoid red meat, it is also delicious with chicken.

Heinz [Seriously] Good Béarnaise Sauce
This mouth-watering French classic is made with chopped shallots and tarragon. Rich and buttery, it will perk up a BBQ of steak, chicken or fish.

Heinz [Seriously] Good Chive Sauce
Upgrade your summer potato salad by adding a spoonful of this deliciously zingy and creamy sauce with chives and crème fraiche. Ready to eat, it can also be used as a dip or add that extra something to summer classics such as salmon fillets or fish cakes.

Heinz [Seriously] Good Tomato and Garlic Sauce
This rich and lively tomato and garlic sauce is perfect for chicken and grilled meat dishes. A real crowd pleaser, it’s a must-have store cupboard ingredient for summer, offering a fresh and delicious twist to BBQs and al fresco dishes. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spanakopita

spanakopita, greek recipe, spinach, feta

AncestryDNA results are in and look nothing like I was expecting. 


I'm well puzzled. This is partly due to the fact that DNA analysis alone is still limited. A family tree, which I don't have, would greatly help. It's a bit of a shock to confront the fact that I know very little of my family history and almost nothing past one set of great grand parents.



But I am making progress via a series of process of elimination. Here is what I think explain my 15% British: 

"Thus, French people may be assigned a large percentage of "British" ancestry. Normandy and Kent are genetically similar, as you would expect from history and geography, so it is not easy to distinguish English from French based on DNA alone. Given high quality genomic databases it would be possible to assign an individual to a region of origin with a reasonable degree of accuracy (human provenancing), but this is beyond what genetic testing companies currently have available both in terms of having enough genetic markers in large and well-annotated databases." read on the UCL website.

So, I drop this line of inquiry for the time being, to turn to my 51% Italian and Greek. No news here either but, I was able to  prepare in all impunity a classic Greek dish filled with Spinach. He usually frowns upon green but I could be Greek.

Spanakopitas which constituted my daily breakfast when I lived and worked in Greece were take-away and look like patties. Here I chose a recipe from Delicious magazine because it looks very photogenic and we were going nowhere.
Spanakopita



  • Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4
  • Ingredients
  • 500g spinach 

  • 1 onion, finely chopped 

  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced 

  • 25ml olive oil, plus extra to drizzle 

  • 200g feta, crumbled 

  • 80g parmesan
  • 1 small bunch fresh dill 
(optional)
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley 
(optional)
  • Pinch chilli flakes (optional) 

  • 1 large free-range eggs, beaten 

  • A few gratings nutmeg 

  • 270g pack good-quality filo (you’ll 
need 5-6 sheets) 

  • Sea salt and seeds 
to garnish (cumin or sesame)

You'll also need
  • 30cm loose-bottomed tart tin 
or shallow cake tin
Method

Steam the spinach until cooked (Frozen can be used too). Press in a colander to get rid of the water, do not skip this step. Your spinach need to be really water free.

In a large salad bowl, mix the garlic, feta, chilli, egg and nutmeg add the spinach to the mixture and combine thoroughly. Place in a tart tin or oven dish

Prepare the filo pastry by oiling them lightly with a pastry brush, cut each sheet into 2 or 3, crunch and place over the mixture, scatter the seeds and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.


Spanakopita, Greek recipe, spinach, feta, filo pastry



I will be publishing more classic from around the world as I research my ancestry. Spanakopita deserve a place in the Inheritance Recipes challenge hosted in May by Coffee and Vanilla



To inspire more people to cook vegetarian dishes, I have entered this recipe in the current MEAT FREE MONDAYS link up hosted by Tinned Tomato

Ancestry DNA : who did I think I was?

Inheritance is a recurring theme on Pebble Soup. A theme which is deeply rooted in concepts such as family, ancestry, ethnicity. During the past few month, I took an AncestryDNA test with the view to understand my ethnic background. I spat in the tube, send the test back to the lab, dabbled a little in the Ancestry DNA website but all in all, I was pretty sure of where I came from.

Who did I think I was?

My estimation of my ethnic ancestry DNA came from the knowledge that each individual inherits half of their DNA from their parents.

wedding photo, photo de mariage
My parents, Michel and Suzanne, on their wedding day
My father's family originated from a small village in the Departement de l'Ain, an area named after its river, situated on the Eastern edge of France. The first inhabitants settled in the territory of today's Ain about 15000 BC. 

In the cemetery in the small village of Pollet where the Berchemins  came from, you can't move without bumping into the tomb of an ancestor of mine. My surname is proof of my roots. All Berchemins, not a very common name, come from the same area.

Therefore I was expecting the result of my ethnic DNA to show that I was 50% Western European. That's the group which contains Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein

The other half, my mum's side, was always going to be slightly more volatile. My mother was born in France of the union of two Moroccan jews. In these days, it can't have been very easy to marry outside their respective religions but they were both madly attracted by one another. 

So throw in the mix a good dose of North African, a little bit of Spanish as along the route, one may have dilly-dallied, some Middle-Eastern blood on account of the family Jewishness. Add a wee bit of Teutonic ancestry from my maternal grandmother and Bob 'z your uncle. 

Here is the scientific bit again: Each individual inherits about 25% from each grandparent, 12.5% from each great-grandparent and approximately half the previous amount for each subsequent generation.
conclusion: when getting the results, surprises can be expected. And surprise I was.

The test results


Genetic Ancestry


The test results taught me that it's really impossible to predict what your DNA profile will look like. I would go as far as saying, "Predictions,  forget it!. In the long run, predicting your genetic ancestry without proof will only make you look plain stupid".

My 50% French turned out to be non-existent. Vanished, disparus.

It would appear that I have less than 1% of Western-European DNA. To everyone who refers to me as The French Woman, ethnically, I ain't. Mind you, I am not much more Moroccan either, I have only 3% of North African DNA.

But I am BRITISH, and that I can't explain.

15% is a large percentage in this context. Ancestry DNA website contains some interesting facts and figures such as, "A native Brit will have 60% British DNA maximum and I have got 25% of that percentage. Goes to show we are all of mixed origins and, whoever says, "Not me, gov! I know where my ancestors came from", I dare them to take the test.

Population and DNA matching


In other words, what is the baseline for the DNA tests?. Here is what Ancestry DNA says, "Your ethnicity estimate shows where your ancestors came from hundreds to thousands of years ago. We calculate it by comparing your DNA to the DNA of a reference panel of people with deep roots to specific places around the world.
As science improves and our DNA database grows, our ability to estimate your ethnicity gets better and better. You may get updated results that include a new mix of ethnicities" to know more population and DNA matching click here

What did I think of my genetic communities experience?

Taking the test left me with a humongous question. Why is there over 51% Greek and Italian DNA present in my genetic makeup and where do the 15% British come from? Thankfully, being a bit of a travelling chameleon, I have always felt an integral part of the population of humans around me, even when xenophobia raises its ugly head and tries hard to exclude me. So puzzling as they are the results have not disturbed me. I still as I always have, belong to where my home and the people I love are. I'm not saying that it doesn't hurt because of course, it does, obscurantism is designed to hurt.

In many ways, the test results enthral and puzzle me in equal measure and even though I can't easily disentangle my ethnic DNA from my passports or my beliefs, where I come from matters less now than it did when I first agreed to take the test. Because, what matters to me, right now, are the discussions the test results are generating and the individual reactions the results provoke. The ethnic DNA test is a fascinating conversation piece.

More:

At the time of printing AncestryDNA test cost £79

Together with Margot of Coffee and Vanilla, we run an Inheritance Recipes challenge, a monthly event, click on the link and join us.

Margot and her husband took the Ancestry DNA test. Read their fascinating story

DISCLOSURE: I have received complementary AncestryDNA test kit for review purposes.  I was not financially compensated for this post. All opinions expressed here are our own and I retained full editorial control.

Inheritance Recipes - April 17 : Round up


In April we welcomed recipes from around the world. Margot showed even more creativity than usual, do take a look:

By Emma Spitzer the Master Chef semi finalist A Jewish recipe: Spiced Cod Falafel reviewed in Pebble Soup

Inheritance Recipes are about inspiring friends too. I was told the basic of cooking not by my mother but by my best friend. So how about this Corn Dogs by A2K

Polish Easter eggs are so traditional that Margot as in Coffee & Vanilla and co-host of this challenge entered her own 2017 creations and that of her daughters: Watercolour Galaxy Eggs

April 17 was a month for first here is our first Turkish Recipe Baharat Karisimi

and it was a month for vegan recipes, after A2K's here is a Vegan Caesar Salad from Veggie Desserts

Last but not least Quinto Gusto a butternut squash recipe

We hope to see you in May under Coffee and Vanilla beautiful banner
click here




Trebah Garden Cornwall - English Garden Chic -

The verdant beauty of Cornish gardens is famous the world over and far more accomplished writers than I, have described it so much better than I'll ever do.... But I would like to give it a go. It would be nice to think that next time you spend some time in Cornwall you'll stop at Trebah Garden because this photo story has inspired you.

Founded in 1838 by Mr Fox, I am not making this up, Trebah contains many exotic specimens from around the globe. Trebah Garden has all the qualities of an English Garden.


Trebah is  Poetic,  as with every self-respecting English garden it has a lawn from which one can admire this sub-tropical paradise while having a picnic or a snooze...Well may be not a snooze, or you would not be able to admire the garden's stunning coastal backdrop which is set within one of Cornwall's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Cornwall, Trebah, Gardens

it pretends to be messy, it's as if plants landed there, welly nelly all by themselves. In fact, areas are mapped skillfully, so that one area leads to the other seamlessly.

Cornwall, Trebah, English Garden view


There is a profusion of plants, some are rather stunning such as the Gunnera Manicata, also known as Giant Rhubarb, fast growing with prickly stems. The plants reach about 3 m tall and the leaves up to 2.5 m across.


Cornwall, Trebah, English Garden viewCornwall, Trebah, English Garden view

pastel colours are enhanced by vibrant greens

Cornwall, Trebah, English Garden view

What is an English garden without a bit of water? Trebah has much more than a pond, though it has that too, Trebah is by the sea...and has its own beach. It's from here that 7,500 men from the 29th US Infantry Division embarked on the 1st June 1944.

Cornwall, Trebah beach, WWII embarkment, Gardens

There are paths throughout the garden, leading to little marvels such as the Bamboozle, a walk through the home of 39 varieties of Bamboos. One of which can grow up to 30cm in height a day, another is the Mallard pond, Mr Monet eat your heart out.

Cornwall, Trebah, English Garden view

There is an amphitheatre which can be admired from Healey's Hill (Hey, it wouldn't be Cornwall without a hill). In the 60s, Sir Donald Healey, the famous car designer, lived in Trebah. His workshop was on the beach, it's now the ice cream parlour.

Trebah garden is a multiple awards garden which is off the A39 about 15 minutes drive from Falmouth. Opened all year round, entry cost £10 for adults, £4 for children.

Disclaimer: This post is part of a series which I am currently writing for various media to promote Cornish Summer Time, #CST. Words are my own.

What's New #19 : Light

I remember a friend once said that she found the colour Magnolia offensive. Well, there is nothing beige about "Red Candy". It's a company which has a huge range of modern and designer interior homeware. Their products are funky, colourful and fun. Their online catalogue is so fresh that for once, I decided to devote the whole of "What's New" just to it.

acessories

For a long time, I've been searching high and low for a light pendant nothing seemed to quite fit in our Bohemian looking lounge until of course not only one but several choices came along. Needless to say that He was not double-pleased with the idea of a pineapple on his desk but.....


As soon as we saw it, we both agreed on a pendant called "wild and wolf wild wolf" a bit of a mouth full I agree.


It diffuses the light beautifully but be quick because I hear that this line is to be discontinued. However, there is so much more to choose from  Red Candy, take a look.

In situs in the lounge
Read more about how we restored our Victorian house
7 things you need to know about 

Disclaimer I was not financially compensated for this post. All opinions expressed here are my own and I retain full editorial control.

Chocolate Truffles with Japanese Flavours

These sophisticated chocolate truffles developed by Yutaka Japanese food experts come with a warning and you'll soon see why.




The same way, one will keep champagne truffles out of reach of little sticky fingers. Pickled Sushi Ginger, Wasabi Furikake and Yuzu flavoured chocolate truffles might be best kept among adults.

The basic recipe is as we know it. To make 30 - 36 truffles, you'll need
  • 200g dark good quality chocolate
  • 60ml double cream
  • 80g unsalted butter
Please note that when I try this recipe out I halved the proportions
Method for all truffles
In a double saucepan (or a Pyrex bowl in a saucepan), place chocolate, butter and cream. Heat through slowly until smooth whilst whisking. Remove from heat and divide into 3 equal portions, adding the various flavourings to each individual portion as below. Place in the fridge to set – overnight if possible. Get the mixture out a little before using it so that the hard layer which has formed overnight has time to soften.

I'll start with my favourite if you don't mind.


Yuzu chocolate tuffles
 Yuzu is a citrus. It always surprised me that it's yet to be widely used in Europe. Maybe we are waiting for the arrival of Yuku which is a sweeter version of this fruit as Yuzu is very tart. The flavour is akin to mandarin-orange and marries ever so well with chocolate. Yuzu is never eaten as a fruit but used in cooking only.
       To make Yuzu truffles, add 2 tsp Yutaka Yuzu to one of the bases before refrigerating.


Wasabi Furikake Chocolate Truffle
Furikake means shaking. These truffles are now known at Pebble Soup HQ as Wasabi Shaky Shaky. 


  • You'll need 2 tbs of the Yutaka ready mix which is a mixture of sesame seeds and Wasabi. 

This is a chocolate truffle for the more adventurous palates, on reflexion, He decided that though very pleasant, the wasabi mixture would be put to better use in a cracker recipe.


Pickled Sushi Ginger Flavouring
I'm very partial to ginger, however before now I never had the pleasure to cook with sushi ginger, it is so very different. I don't think I'll ever buy any other type of pickled ginger from now on. This sushi ginger is thinly sliced rather than Julienne (that's the long thicker stripe).
  • You'll need 2 tbs of chopped Yutaka sushi ginger
If you decide to make only one type of truffle out of these three, this is the one you should try out. On two accounts:
       1- you'll be able to use the sushi ginger in other recipes. Let's face it we don't want to end up with yet another jar in the fridge.
       2- most of us are already familiar with the taste of ginger. Delicious.

For the coating the choice is yours. I used Vermicelli, icing sugar and golden sugar nuggets as it's what I had in the pastry box. The recipe sheet recommended drinking chocolate, cocoa, melted white chocolate, pink salt crystal and dark chocolate.



This post has been shared with

 We Should Cocoa hosted by Chocolette over at Tin and Thyme



Disclaimer: I was sent a voucher and the ingredients by Yutaka to recreate these recipes. No other payment was exchanged. As usual, words are my own.

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