Pebble Soup's Mini Gift Guide

In July traditionally, journalists and bloggers are invited to attend Christmas presentations. Though it's a bit odd to visit Santa's grotto in strappy T-shirt and to listen to Xmas carols when it's 23C outside, we all happily attend.
This year, a few products caught my attention - There are not that many but they are just perfect as Xmas presents so here they are in no particular order
Supermarket slap Aldi's new make-up range if you have not use their budget line yet, treat yourself and a friend. Lacura Eye Shadow Box, £3.99
Lakeland 50th anniversary recipe book £6.99. Favourite recipes from customers and contributions from a few of Lakeland's famous friends – Michel Roux Jnr, the Hairy Bikers and Mary Berry to name just a few. The collection contains than 60 delicious recipes, plenty of anecdotes and beautiful photography.
All profits from the book are being donated by Lakeland to the BBC Children in Need Appeal
Mark & Spencer Gin & Tea with Gold Flakes £11.99, the bottle with its amber liquid and gold flakes is the perfect present for G&T drinkers. Even if like me Gin is not your preferred drink, this Gin & Tea will convert you in no time.

Goat Cheese, Green Tomato & Apple Chutney Tartlet - Quick dinner

Goat Cheese, Green Tomato & Apple Chutney Tartlet - Quick recipe
More depressing than an Adele's song is a recently published survey  which reveals that 55% of Londoners are turning to quick snacks for an evening meal. And here they are:
1.       Toast
2.       Cereal
3.       Cheese and crackers
4.       Ham sandwich
5.       Crisps or nachos
6.       Crumpets
7.       Packet / tinned soup
8.       Instant noodles / rice / pasta
9.       Porridge
10.   Nutella on toast
Turn up the volume on that 21 album, it might cheer me up as reading the rest of the survey* had me in tears. Concomitantly, new research carried out by Love Food Hate Waste and Mumsnet demonstrates that "As modern life becomes busier, and quick solutions become more favourable, we are at risk of losing valuable cooking skills and knowledge to pass on to the next generation."
See infographic**.

What is going on? the food scene is buzzing, there is cookery program of  some sort, with a record audience, every hour, on TV, in the meantime Londoners are eating Nutella on toast standing up in front of their fridge!
So where can we find inspiration? my lastest source of, was provided by Jeanne of Cooksister and a canapé served at an event promoting Canadian railways.
Let's backtrack a little. He recently harvested the last of the tomatoes on the two plants which provided a bumper crop this year. Considering the neighbour has a monster 16+ feet tree by the fence which completely over-shadows our garden, we were able to make the grand total of two red tomato salads and the same amount of green tomato chutney.
I would recommend Cooksister chutney recipe which can be adapted to other fruits, alternatively there is a lot of good brands out there, but don't just spread chutney on toast....wait...
Here come part two of the inspiration, at a press event as the canapés were doing the rounds, a tiny little tart with deliciousness on the top attracted my attention. After inconspicuously poking at deliciousness, it was decided that it contained goat cheese topped with chutney.
Genius doesn't come into the assembling of such but served with fresh veggies that is a quick dinner worthy of a mention.
How does it work?
You'll need one tartlet tray or a small pie tray.
1/2 packet of shortcrust pastry roll out thin and cut to the size of the above tray
150g goat cheese, ring removed, mashed with a fork and combined with
150g of ricotta (failing ricotta) use 4tbsp milk to loosen the goat cheese.
Grease the tray with a little oil, place the pastry in, top with cheese mixture.
Bake for 20minutes in pre-heated oven 220C/fan 200C/gas 7
           watch that the pastry doesn't turn too golden (mine did)
Remove from the oven, leave it to cool before topping with a generous spoon of green tomato and apple chutney serve with baked bean or fresh vegetables

More Chutney recipes
*survey : Researchers from Pukka Pies polled 2000 workers
**Love food hate waste & Mumsnet research

Soya Yogurt 5 Ways

If Maison Cupcake first soya experience was in the 80's in the form of "bean feast" a recurring dish at her mum's table, ours at Pebble Soup happened about at the same time while trekking in the Golden Triangle.
We camped outside villages. In the evening we used people's open fire to cook our meals. One night our Burmese guide magicked tofu, that night, we went to bed persuaded to have eaten a delicious wild animal. That's what happens when you taste blind something you never had before.
Soya has keep a little magic, I am very partial to "soya and horseradish cheese", Alpro Soya Yogurt are not far behind. The texture is much lighted than conventional yogurt and the scientific blurb tells us that they are:
  • Naturally low in saturated fat, low in sugars: 50cal, 2.3g fat. 2.5sugar per 100g
  • Naturally lactose free 'n gluten free
  • Contains calcium, vitamins B12 and D

  • Alpro is running an Inspiration Campaign which is bloggers led and opened to all to participate, have a peep at #Alprotops and see what you can magic.

    In the meantime here are my suggestions:

    Intrigued by the many Alpro tops
    I made a beeline for goji berries which were known, until the naughties, as wolfberries, when marketing hooked on their nutrient value and rebranded them as super-fruit. Don't they look attractive? on the top of this Lemon 'n Lime Soya Yogurt Milkshake
    yogurt milkshake soya recipe
    Next day happened to be the week-end and that often means cocktail time. His face was a picture when presented with Vanilla 'n Whirl Maple Syrup Whirl topped with chocolate shavings
    Next came Muffins - Strawberry soya yogurt, chia seeds a new one on me. Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, another one with  nutrients galore.

     Left with Alpro simply plain and now well in my stride, breakfast muesli got the treatment

    and how nice it was and last but not least, armed myself with a large spoon and polished the pot.
     disclaimer: my thanks to Alpro for including Pebble Soup in their campaign
    more information on the products used on Alpro Website

    Fochabers Gingerbread recipe

    Gingerbread, cake, spicy cake, beer cake,

    Food blogging is many things. It's likely that there are as many reasons to write a food blog as there are food bloggers. The question is "what are we recording"? which is not already recorded in our cookbooks collection.
    great opportunity to display the bookcase I built to host my cookbooks
     My own answer is that we are recording stories we love, which show who we are  such as The Curious Tale of the Gingerbread, stories which connect dishes with their own history and ultimately stories which connect each one of us to the other.

    In researching Gingerbread cakes, I came across this anecdote which is set in France, in the 19th century and shows how important gingerbread was then. Mr Thiers, one of the French Prime Ministers at the time, declared : " no man can call himself great until he gets his effigy made out of gingerbread" That important!

    I wonder what their gingerbread tasted like in these days. Probably not like a Fochabers' as this recipe is quite unique with its beer, dried fruits and candied peel.
    Fochabers Gingerbread
    100g butter
    100g sugar 
    100g black treacle (molasses), slightly warmed 
    2tsp ground ginger 
    pinch of ground cloves  
    2tsp mixed spice
    1/2tsp cinnamon 
    1 eggs  
    250g plain flour  
    50g currants  
    50g sultanas 
    1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda   
    25g mixed peel chopped 
    150ml beer
    1- Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3/fan 140C. Grease a (2 pint) loaf tin. Using a food processor or an electric whisk, beat the butter together with the sugar and treacle until light and creamy. beat in the egg
    2- Measure the bicarbonate of soda into the beer, stir it and set aside. Stir all the remaining ingredients into the creamed mixture. Stir the beer mixture then pour it into the cake mixture, beating well until thoroughly incorporated.
    3- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour. When the cake is cooked, a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes then turn out on to a cooling rack and leave until completely cold.

    Give-Away #28 : A beautiful Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar

    Last minute announcement: the winner is Nia Wyn Dunn
    Some cultures are luckier than others when it comes to Christmas traditions. Growing up in France the only calendar we  looked forward to was l'Almanach des Postes. A piece of cardboard with an old-fashion picture in the center.
    Children have the privilege to choose which picture will adorn the wall in the kitchen or the loo. The choice is limited, sweating donkeys with heavy loads on their back, young 19th century lady in négligée, that was my dad's choice if I happened to be at school when the postman pop in for his annual tip and the sale of the horrid calendar.
    First time I heard about an advent calendar was through a friend from Lille. Allegedly the advent tradition was strong in the north. Almost enough to make me pack my baby rucksack and move.
    I have since made up  for lost time and it's with glee that this year, I am sharing the advent calendar good fortune with one Pebble Soup reader.  The countdown to Christmas begins with this beautiful Hotel Chocolat advent calendar. Featuring 24 fabulous Christmas sculptures, including reindeer, snowmen, penguins and enchanted Christmas trees, to name just a few.
    The winner will have the choice of one milk, dark or white chocolates.
    Three ways to win
     1 – Comment on the blog Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite Christmas chocolates. Mine is definitely orange peel.
    2 – Twitter Follow @solangeweb on Twitter. If you already follow, it goes without saying that you are welcome too. Then tweet the following:
    I've entered @HotelChocolat Advent Calendars #giveaway from Pebble Soup #PebbleSoupAdvent

    Cut and paste is safer. I'll track your entry with the Twitter handle   

    3- Facebook Like Pebble Soup page   

    Entries will close on Tuesday 17th November at midday (12.00GMT). Hotel Chocolat will dispatch the calendar to the winner shortly after the 21st so that it can be enjoyed on the 1st of December

    Terms and conditions:
    One Winner will be selected via digital Randomiser shortly after closing date and announced on Twitter and on this page.
    Only one entry per category per person, (1 comment, 1 twitter, 1 facebook) all entries will be verified.
    This give-away is open to UK residents only.
    There is no cash alternative. 
    The prize will have to be claimed within 3 days so please make sure you check your account for notification.
    HC calendar retail at £12.50, my thanks to Hotel Chocolat for providing one complementary for the purpose of this post.


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