Wednesday, 28 January 2015

#BoothsMakesSoup - Health + Value + Flavour

Recently those lovely people at Booths Supermarket sent us a parcel containing two of their new soup bags, each of which contain all the ingredients you need to make a delicious soup. We received a pasta and bean soup bag and Thai sweet potato and noodle soup bag.

They also sent a fab new shopping bag and yes "I flippin' love booths" as I have had the flu recently Mr LF followed the recipe for the Pasta and bean soup carefully, substituting gluten free pasta for the macaroni supplied and he created a great wholesome tasty soup, perfect sick bed food.

Like most soup recipes, its not really complicated, just chopped vegetables cooked in stock with added beans and pasta.

Finished by adding the beans and the pasta, all the ingredients are in the bag except a tiny amount of oil and water for the stock cube. 

Below are the ingredients for the Thai sweet potato noodle soup, again easily made gluten free by subbing the noodles for rice noodles.

The soup bags were supplied by Booths free of charge for review purposes, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Potato, spinach, pea and basil soup - a tasty vegan feast

Another week has passed and we have another soup recipe for you, this one does have some reseamblence to shrek's swamp but trust me its very tasty and great for making when you hardly have anything in the cupboards. For the sake of economy I use frozen peas and spinach and there is no waste either.


Vegan as it contains only vegetables, however if this isn't important to you then its delicious served topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese or swirled with creme fraiche or yogurt.

Thickened by blending half the ingredients in to the soup its low in fat and containes no flours or grains so its gluten free too.

What you need
  • Onion - peeled and chopped
  • 2 potatoes - peeled and diced
  • 3 blobs of frozen spinach
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • Vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little olive or rapeseed oil
  • Handful fresh basil
What you do
  • Fry the onion and the potato in a little oil add the vegetable stock to the pan, simmer until softened
  • Add the frozen peans and frozen spinach to the pan and bring back to the simmer and the spinach is defrosted. Add the basil 
  • Now blitz half the pan with a stick blender until smooth and retaining some chunky vegetables for texture.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary.
  • Serve piping hot

We are linking up to "Eat your Greens" over on Allotment 2 Kitchen , the challenge being to cook with a green vegetable and for the recipe to be vegeterian.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Lancashire Hotpot - made with love and a perfect winter dish

I love Lancashire hotpot and as a born and bred Lancastrian so I should, its the perfect frugal comfort food which will happily blip away in the oven whilst you get on with other things. Requiring minimal effort you can still deliver a wow dish for your supper (or in a Northerner case tea) table.

I decided recently to experiment with different ways of cooking the dish and in my opinion this is the best method so far, ideal served with a green vegetable or just the traditional accompaniments of pickled beetroot or red cabbage.

What you need
  • Diced lamb pieces (ask your butcher whats the best and cheapest)
  • 3 large white potatoes 
  • 1 large white onion - peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots - peeled and chopped
  • Lamb stock ( I use essential cuisine - the best in my humble opinion)
  • Splash of Worcestershire sauce (use gluten free brown sauce if necessary)
  • Cornflour
  • Thyme and rosemary - finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little rapeseed oil
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 160c
  • Heat the oil in cast iron casserole dish
  • Fry off the lamb pieces in batches until lightly caramelised
  • Remove from pan to plate
  • Fry in the same pan the onion and carrot until slightly golden, add the lamb back to the pan and add a tablespoon or so of cornflour.
  • Stir and add the herbs and sauce, remove from the heat
  • Stir again and top the vegetable and lamb mixture with potato slices
  • Pour enough lamb stock to just be visible on the top of the potato topping, put lid on casserole dish and place in oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Once the time has passed the vegetables with be tender and the meat cooked, remove the lid and place back in the oven for another 15 -30 minutes until the top is golden and slightly crispy.
  • Serve immediately with a green vegetable (cabbage / kale is nice) and traditional hotpot accompaniments

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Spicy roots soup, a classic winter warmer

In the spirit of eating healthy I have been prepping some easy lunches that I can take to work, I love soup but only homemade hits the spot for me. By making your own soup you are in control of the ingredients, the level of spicing and also the portion size, and I don't know about anybody else but I can't eat a huge portion of soup (i.e can sized) so taking a packed portion works out great for me.

The clipping from my scrap book that the recipe is based on, I think its from a Tesco magazine.

Recently I noticed in Aldi they had some BPA free snap lockable soup containers on special buy so I took the plunge and purchased a set. I am hoping that this will encourage me to take my portions to work for a nutritious healthy lunch, so far so good.

My new soup container
Its an easy recipe and uses the odd root vegetable you have in your fridge or vegetable rack, the recipe also uses very little oil so its low fat and has lovely gentle spicing which enhances the sweet earthy vegetable flavours in the soup.

What you need
  • 1 onion chopped (red or white)
  • 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • Couple of carrots, peeled and chopped ( I use organic if I can get them as I find they are sweeter)
  • 1 small swede - peeled and chopped
  • 1 large white potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large parsnip - peeled and chopped
  • A litre or so of vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of dried red chilli (I used crumbled whole ones)
  • A little yogurt to serve - optional or some omega 3 seeds
  • A little rapeseed oil
What you do 
  • Gently fry the onion and garlic in a little oil in a large saucepan, until softened slightly.
  • Add the rest of the vegetables to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until they are starting softened and very slightly caramelised.
  • Add the spices to the pan and the vegetable stock and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly
  • Blitz with a hand blender or in a liquidiser until you reach your desired soup consistency, you may need to add water.
  • Re heat to simmering point and serve swirled with natural yogurt or sprinkled with seeds
  • Delicious.
  • This recipe freezes beautifully

I am linking this recipe up to "Vegetable palette" over at A2K (Allotment to Kitchen), who's theme this month is Detox recipes. 


Also to "Extra Veg" over on Utterly Scrummy Food and also Fuss Free Flavours as this soup contains lots of extra veg.


And "No Croutons Required" hosted this month by Lisa's Kitchen a vegetarian challenge for soups and salads, co hosted by Tinned Tomatoes .

                                                           no croutons required 2015

And a new challenge "Recipe Clippings" as this is based on a recipe I have in my trusty soups scrapbook, this is hosted our on Farmers Girl Kitchen


And lastly Tea Time Treats, the theme this month being packed lunches and hosted this month over at Hedgecombers. A challenge jointly hosted by Lavender and Lovage.

                                                        Teatime Treat Linky Party logo

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Gorgeous granola

Granola is so expensive in the shops and the ingredients in it some seems to be of variable quality too, I have often hunted for the solitary pecan nut in maple, pecan granola !

So I decided I would have a go at making my own and wow can you taste the difference, plus you are in control of the ingredients in your mix, so you can ensure it has more of the things you like in it (in my case maple syrup and cinnamon) and less of the things you don't (in my case gluten, some commercially produced brands contain wheat flour to bind the ingredients). It also works out much more economical too as a box of quality granola often retails for more than £2.50 and this mix makes probably twice as much than in contained in a box.

So if you are on a health kick for the new year why not start by making your own granola, its healthy and very very tasty.

What you need
  • 3 cups oats (check gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, etc)
  • 1 cup of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia, flax, etc)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamon
  • 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cups of maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup of dried fruit chopped (any you like)
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Mix the oats, spices, salt, maple syrup and seeds and coconut oil in a large bowl.
  • Tip onto 2 large baking trays and level off gently, bake for 15 minutes or so and then turn the oats over.
  • Bake for another 15 minutes or so until golden and the mixture is drying out and turning crispy (do not burn)
  • Mix the warm oats with the chopped nuts and dried fruit in a large bowl and then empty back on to the trays to cool.
  • Store in an airtight jar once fully cool.
  • Serve with yogurt or fruit, delicious .....

I am linking up to Credit Crunch Munch for this frugal yet wonderful granola recipe hosted over at Fuss Free Flavours and co hosted by Camilla at Fab Food for all.

                         Credit Crunch Munch

Monday, 5 January 2015

Win a fabulous whole fruit juicer from Domu - Start the new year the right way !

Wow ! we have a fabulous giveaway of a Whole fruit Juicer just for you, this great juicer is from people at Domu from their Vonshef range.

This juicer has been Voted and Reviewed by Great British Food Magazine as one of their Top Five Juicers on the market and gives Fast and Easy juicing from a large chute, fitting whole fruits and vegetables with ease.
It also has an Impressive 2-speed rotary dial switch, so you can juice a variety of fruits and vegetables and an Extremely Large 2 Litre detachable pulp container, plus a Sleek and Stylish Stainless Steel Mesh Strainer.

So if one of your New Years resolutions is to start juicing this is the perfect juicer for you, juicing is great for you and a great way to up your fruit and vegetable intake.

The full Vonshef range is avaliable from Domu and also Amazon.

Entry to our fabulous giveaway is by easy reafflecopter entry, just follow the instructions below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rules for giveaway

We have one juicer to giveaway, this can only be posted to UK addresses and will be sent direct from Domu.

  • Simply follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget above. 
  • To be in with a chance of winning you must complete ALL the required fields. 
  • All entries will be checked and verified before a winner is announced. 
  • You can increase your chances of winning by Tweeting on a daily basis. 
  • Rafflecopter will pick a random winner. 
  • The competition runs until the 19th January 2015
  • If you win, you MUST send me your delivery details quickly and within 24 hours or the prize will be passed to the next person drawn. 
Please see the Terms and Conditions on the Rafflecopter widget for the rules and more information.

The Prize for this giveaway is provided by Domu (Designer Habitat) who will send the item direct to the winner.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Nicola Hanmer - Commercial Catering Manager for The Mill at St Catherines Park

This months featured foodie for our first Quick bite of Lancashire food 2015 is Nicola Hanmer of The Mill at St Catherines Park. Nicola and her team are passionate about serving local seasonal food in this beautiful cafe supporting the vital works of St Catherines Hospice. Here is a link to an earlier post re The Mill.

On to our usual questions, which Nicola has kindly answered for us.

  • What is your favourite cookery, food book or publication ?
Would have to be anything written by Nigel Slater or Elizabeth David

  • What sentence sums up Lancashire Food to you ?
Gradely stuff!

  • If you werent doing what you do now, what would you like to be ?
Working for Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) training street children in Vietnam or Cambodia to work in the hospitality industry

  • Which piece of kit could you not do without ?
Le Cruset casserole dish – in our family known as the magic pot – as everything you cook in them comes out so much better or my Gaggia coffee machine!

  •  Who would join you at your ultimate dinner party and why?
My mum who passed away at St Catherine’s in 1997, Richard E Grant & Graham Norton for a little bit of fun, Mathew Fort, Jay Rayner & Nigel Slater & our own Nigel Haworth to talk about food!

  • What advice would you give to your younger self ?
Always give your best and you will never have any regrets

  • Describe your style in three words
Passionate, Loyal, Enthusiastic

  • What was your latest foodie gadget purchase ?
Does a whole cafe worth of kit count, we recently bought a new kitchen  & 60 covers of kit for our new Mill Cafe at St Catherines Park.

  • What is your greatest achievement to date ?
Working for a charity thats very close to my heart and being able to give something back

  • What is the worst mistake you have made ?
Someone who will remain nameless!

  • Tell us a secret about yourself ? may be something we wouldnt expect
I was a philatelist at school


If you work in the food sector in Lancashire and are interested in being featured, please get in touch.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Prawn, aubergine and green bean curry

After all that rich festive food, has you got a craving for something a little different, well I have just the recipe for you. A delicious prawn, aubergine and green bean curry, rich in tasty vegetables ideal to serve with rice for an informal supper.

Its so darn easy as well, and can be on the table in about 30 minutes start to finish, if you want to impress your guests why not whip up some roti or naan to serve alongside this dish.

What you need
  • Bag of frozen raw king prawns - defrosted or fresh prawns
  • 1 onion - peeled and roughly chopped
  • Good handful of chopped green beans (I used frozen homegrown)
  • 1 aubergine - topped tailed and cut into chunks
  • 2 tomatoes- chopped
  • Squirt of tomato puree (or you could use passata)
  • Fish stock or coconut milk if you like a creamy finish (I do)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Curry paste (from a jar or make your own)
  • A little coconut oil or vegetable oil
What you do
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and fry until softened and translucent
  • Add the curry paste to the pan and cook for a few minutes to release the flavours, add the aubergine to the pan, stir fry adding a little more oil if necessary.
  • Once the aubergine is starting to soften add all the other ingredients to the pan except for the prawns
  • Cook until the sauce starts to reduce and the vegetables are cooked, add the prawns and simmer until they are cooked through.
  • Serve strewn with fresh coriander and the accompaniments of rice and roti
  • Enjoy

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Spicy persimmon bundt cake

A few weeks ago I purchased 3 persimmons which were on special offer in my local market, these beautiful orange fruit are the unsung hero in this bake as they provide moisture and succulence, although you would never know they were there. Perfect for a wintery evening the spicing really lifts this bake and well worth the wait whilst the fruit was ripening.

What you need
  • 3 persimmons - peeled and pureed
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 115g butter
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 350g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Icing sugar and water to making glace icing
What you do
  • Pre heat the oven to 180c
  • Oil spray the bundt tin throughly
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy
  • Add the bicarbonate of soda to the persimmon puree, it will jellify don't be alarmed
  • Add the puree plus the other ingredients (except the icing sugar) to the sugar and butter
  • Mix until you have a smooth mixture, sppon into the prepared bundt tin
  • Smooth level 
  • Bake for 40 -45 minutes, until risen and tested cooked with a skewer
  • Cool fully in the tin on a wire rack
  • Once cool, a sharp inversion of the tin should release the cake
  • Ice when cool, using a drizzle technique.

I have just spotted that the theme for Love Cake for January 2015 is "Feeling Fruity" so I am linking up this post to this challenge. This is hosted over at Jibberjabber


Degustabox - a review

This month has seen quite a few items being delivered for review and the latest come from Degustabox (unfortunate name I know, the word however means to sample in Spanish) an online food box subscription service, were each month subscribers received a box contains a selection of food products that are new to market. The box costs £12.99  per month including delivery and for you lucky readers we have a discount code for you, so if you fancy giving the box scheme a try you can do so for a great price. The code is Z5QKW , just input at the checkout once prompted.

I was fairly impressed by the contents of the box as the value of the products ( I calculated the value was in excess of £25) and also the selection of products as I think there is something for most people in the box but a little strange mix of healthy stuff  some not so healthy items as well.

Our box contained the following items as you can see from the picture

Oats and chia - The Chia Co
A just add water breakfast pack which is a combination of oats, chia, coconut oil and quality fruits, for a great healthy breakfast on the go.

Clean Green - Pukka Herbs
A green tea with added cleansing ingredients, nettle, dandelion root and Silican lemon

Madras mix - Kents Kitchen

A meal kit with 3 steps to create a dish in 20 minutes, a perfect addition to the store cupboard.

Choco Liebniz - Bahlsen

Finest milk chocolate topping butter biscuits, one plain the other topped with decadent caramel

White Alcohol free wine- Eisburg

Alcohol free wine made in the traditional manner with the alcohol removed

Frylight Infuse Garlic - Frylight

Oil spray with added garlic to give that Mediterranean flavour to all your cooking, just spray and your away adding garlic flavours to your dish.

Sour cream and onion - Popchips

Air popped delicious crunchy snacks with less than half the fat of normal crisps

Various flavours - Gloworm

Raspberry and Orris
Cucumber and apple
Pear, spice and lime - our favourite
Ginger and lemongrass
Gourmet Mixers or over ice, would be nice without the high level of caffeine for my preference.

Coarse orange marmalade - Bonne Maman

Coarse chunky orange marmalade , zingy flavours and very orangey.

You can check out their website here
or on Facebook here
or on Twitter here

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Chestnut maple snowflakes

For quite a while I  have been wanting to experiment with chestnut flour, I think this stems from a holiday memory in idyllic Tuscany, when we stayed in a house over looking a chestnut grove and in it was the cutest rustic drying house. I was fascinated with the gnarly trees, the nuts and the recipes they were used in, chestnut flour is used in Italy to make pasta, pancakes and cakes amongst other things.

Chestnut flour is naturally gluten free and is something you will need to seek out if you want to bake with it as its not routinely stocked in most health food shops, this is possibly due to a shortish shelf life but you can obtain it easily by mail order and most shops will happily order it in for you. If you are baking for a coeliac ensure the flour is truly gluten free.

Chestnuts are synonymous with the festive season so I decided to come up with a biscuit recipe which uses this lovely flour, combining it with maple syrup to give a lovely smoky earthy flavour and use my lovely snowflake cutters to give a seasonal twist to this bake. 

This recipe makes about 12 to 15 cookies, depending on the size of the cutters you use. These would make a lovely gift wrapped in cellophane and lovely festive ribbon or a parchment package. Don't expect a crunchy biscuit these are more tender, the snowflakes aren't overtly sweet either.

What you need

  • 12 tbsp chestnut flour (I used Shipton Mill) and little extra for rolling out purposes
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 egg 
  • Icing sugar for sprinkling purposes
What you do
  • Mix all the ingredients in a food processor
  • Tip out on to a floured piece of baking parchment, roll out to just a little thinner than a pound coin and using a cutter to cut out the snowflakes.
  • Place on a baking tray (I use a silicon sheet to ensure they don't stick) 
  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 180c for 10 -15 minutes until just turning golden
  • Cool on wire rack, they firm up more on cooling
  • Sprinkle with icing sugar or ice with glace icing if you like.
  • Store in a tin

This month we are linking up with Treat Petite created by Cakeyboi and hosted this month by The Baking Explorer, the theme this month being Christmas. 



We are also linking up to Family Foodies hosted by Bangers n Mash and Eat your Veg, the theme being festive foodie traditions, as these snowflakes are liable to become a new tradition in this household as they are delicious and ideal to baked as a gift particularly for adults.

                                      festive family foodies

And lastly December's Teat time treats hosted by Karen over at Lavender and Lovage and Jane at Hedgecombers. This months theme is Glitter, sprinkles, candles and shiny stuff, this bake I think qualifies as it has lots of sprinkled icing sugar and the staging includes candles.

                                         December Tea Time Treats: Glitter, Sprinkles, Candles and Shiny Stuff!

                                                                Tea Time Treats Lavender and Lovage

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Vonshef Premium Halogen Cooker - a review

The Vonshef Premium Halogen Oven has landed in our kitchen for review, available direct from Domu or alternatively Amazon  using this link.

The Vonshef represents very good value for money if  you are in the market for a halogen oven for the miserly sum of £34.99 (slightly less if you go for another colour than white) you can purchase a 12 litre (family sized) oven which comes complete with all the accessories you need, plus a stripey oven glove and handy Hamlyn 200 Halogen oven recipe book. This is sized oven is ample to cook a roast chicken and roasties for a family of 4.

Initially I was a bit sceptical of the claims that the oven would be new favourite thing but I must say after cooking a roast dinner in the oven, I think I am smitten. The oven is a little large for my family size and I am struggling to find worktop space but  I love the oven and the speed it cooks food especially meats, its also very handy for reheating food as the oven does not have to be preheated. I am still learning the best ways to cook various dishes but if you want a quick, healthy way to cook halogen ovens are for you.

The oven is easily controlled with the control knobs and once you work out the way the oven cooks then any recipe you can cook in a traditional oven can be cooked in a halogen oven. The washing up is also easy as all parts except the lid can washed in the sink or dishwasher and the lid itself just needs a good wipe and I have found so far that there isn't as much mess as normal as you cook with less fat than you normally would.

I am looking forward to trying baking in the oven, the roast beef was excellent beautifully browned but still juicy and moist, the roast potatoes crispy and tasty, given the level of interest in the oven at the recent cake club a few of my friends will also be splashing out on an oven soon too.

The oven was kindly provided free of charge for review purposes by Designer Habitat, I was not compelled to write a positive review, all views and opinions are my own.

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