Monday, 27 August 2012

Ogilvy's Honey

I was sent a press release about Ogilvy's Honey a few weeks ago and told to contact back if I'd like a sample.  I don't often post press releases, they're a bit boring as blog posts go, and my blog is about things I've eaten and made not reproducing other people's words, so when offered the chance of a sample I'd much rather try it for myself and give a proper opinion.



I was sent the Balkan Linden which is classed as a medium to light strength honey that's delicious in tea.

Well I can assure you that it doesn't make Dandelion Tea any more palatable.  Nothing in the world will make Dandelion Tea any more palatable.  I have been enjoying it on toast though.



Ogilvy's Honey is marketed as monofloral or polyfloral honey, where the honey is made entirely from one stock, rather than a blend.  I found the honey sweet, with a clear flavour, but not as strongly flavoured as I'm used to.  Honey on toast always reminds me of breakfast at my grandparents as a young child, it's one of my favourite things, so I'm very fussy when it comes to honey.  This would be a perfect one for someone who isn't as obsessive with strong flavours as I am, and prefers a more delicate touch to flavouring.

If I was picking honey to buy then I'd pretty much always go for a local one, but if I saw these in the supermarket and was looking for something better than a box standard own brand one then I'd definitely pick another one of these up to try.

Thank you very much for my sample.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Ask, Wetherby

I received £30 in vouchers to do a review of an Ask Italian Restaurant, I think I was meant to be doing the Headingley branch but we never seem to have any call for being in Headingley at tea time at the moment, so I used them at the Wetherby branch on Monday 6th August instead.

We walked in and were unsure of if we should wait to be seated or go and find our own seats.  The restaurant had people in, but wasn't packed.  It felt like we were stood ages before someone dealt with us and said we could sit where we wanted.  Other people who came in were seen much quicker than we were and shown to tables, so I'm a bit confused why we weren't.  Dithering around not knowing what we should be doing is a pet hate of mine when eating out, so some clearer direction of either sit yourself where you like or wait there would be nice.

We were given menus and our drinks order taken straight away.  Then we were given a couple of minutes to read the normal menu before the waitress was back to take our food order - we'd barely had time to look so asked for a few more minutes.  We were then left for ages without the order being taken - teaching us a lesson perhaps?

We opted to share a garlic bread with cheese as a side and then I ordered Rigatoni al Manzo Piccante (meatballs) and Phil ordered Fettucine Bolognese.  We didn't have to wait long for the food to come, and when it came out it was piping hot.  I was very disappointed with my meal - when I picked meatballs I was expecting two or three large ones, what came were small chunks of meat that were vaguely round, but were half the size of a Campbells meatball!  The sauce was pleasantly spicy, not too over powering, and I liked the side salad it came with.  Our garlic bread with cheese was very light on the cheese, but OK.  Phil's Fettucine Bolognese was average, not terrible but nothing special.






Being of the greedy persuasion I decided I wanted a pudding.  I had honeycomb cheesecake and Phil opted for Tiramisu.  The cheesecake was a decent sized portion, and satisfyingly sweet but it was a bit sloppy, I prefer a firmer cheesecake texture - but that could just be me.  Phil enjoyed his tiramisu, possibly because unlike when I make it, you could actually taste something other than booze...




The service was pleasant and friendly, although a little hit and miss with either leaving plates for a long time or whipping them away as soon as we finished eating.

I have to say that I think we made the wrong choices ordering pasta - the pizzas that we saw arrive at nearby tables looked delicious, I was kicking myself for not having gone for one, but we were in pasta kinda moods that evening.

The final bill came to around £38, for our mains, a side, two desserts and two soft drinks.

I would visit Ask again, and go for a pizza next time, but only if I had a discount voucher (same as I feel about Pizza Express). I think it would make a nice atmosphere for a catch up with the girls over a few large glasses of wine, but also was very child friendly too, so I wouldn't feel worried about going for a bite to eat and bringing the baby along.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Zero Baking Required - Ultimate Indulgence Mars Bar Rice Crispy Cake

When I was mid way through the Olympic Food Challenge I made my entry for Maison Cupcake's Zero Baking Required competition.  I chose to make an old family favourite - Mars Bar Rice Crispy Cake but decided to make this the Ultimate Indulgence Mars Bar Rice Crispy Cake.

My cake used 4 mars bars, melted over a low heat in a small saucepan with a hefty dollop of golden syrup.  When it was all melted and deliciously gooey I added the rice crispies, stirred to cover them all with the gooey goodness, and then added in smarties, chopped marshmellows, and some chopped up galaxy ripple.

I poured the mixture into a heart shaped silicone mould and whacked it into the fridge to set.  The heat of the chocolate and crispy mixture melted a lot of the marshmellow, so when I cut into the cake later it was very, very sticky and gooey.  But oh so nice!






Monday, 13 August 2012

The Olympic Food Challenge round up

What a challenge!  19 countries in 19 days. I am exhausted after all the cooking I've done over the last 19 days.  But I finished yesterday, although didn't get my posts done in time and caught up and posted 6 countries today.

If you haven't looked at the actual Olympic Food Challenge blog then head over and check it out: http://olympicfoodchallenge.blogspot.co.uk/

A huge thank you to Ewan for putting this all together - and to all the other bloggers taking part, giving encouragement and posting their own fantastic posts.

My biggest thank you is to Phil though, who has put up with me throughout, and not moaned once that he didn't want to eat some strange food - he's helped, taken over when I was too exhausted to do any more, and suffered throughout this challenge without ever complaining.  He has the patience of a saint.


Singapore - Kaya Toast

Singapore sent 23 athletes to compete in 9 sports, and came out with two bronze medals in table tennis.

Yesterday I ventured into the kitchen again to do my final dish.  I'd even picked up some Pandan leaves on Saturday to make sure I was following the recipe to the T.

(Pandan leaves don't smell very nice).

I followed the recipe - but unfortunately disaster struck.  My custard curdled.  I was at a family party yesterday so didn't have time to start again - so I abandoned my last dish.  Nothing I could do would save it, and the smell of it was starting to turn my stomach.  It was fit for nothing but the bin.

I'm sorry Singapore, I failed you.


DR Congo - Gateau Coco



DR Congo sent 4 athletes to compete in 3 sports at London, but again weren't successful at picking up any medals.

I found searching for recipes quite hard - I originally picked out a Spinach and Rice stew, but just didn't fancy it at all.  So I did some more googling and found these coconut cakes.  I really hope this is a recipe from DR Congo, and not just Congo (now knowing that they are two different countries).




I'll be honest - I didn't try one of these - I don't like coconut, I can stomach coconut milk but draw the line and pieces of coconut.

Micronesia - Coconut chicken curry


Micronesia sent 6 athletes to compete in 4 sports at London, but alas also didn't win any medals.

Having had just about every other type of curry going, I thought I might as well try a chicken curry recipe.  I left out the peppers, because Phil hates peppers, so I think my dish lacked colour and the flavour that the peppers would have brought.  I thought the spicing lacked something too, just using curry powder and chilli powder.


Micronesia didn't set my world on fire.

Uruguay - Dulce de leche


Uruguay sent 29 athletes to compete in 8 sports at London, but unfortunately they didn't win any medals.

When I was doing my research into Uruguayan cuisine and saw Dulce de leche I knew it had to be the one that I picked.

But it was hard work...  I was stirring.... and stirring.... and stirring... but it wasn't getting any browner, then Phil came in and decided I'd used the wrong kind of sugar.  So I put in some brown sugar.  And I stirred, and stirred, and stirred.  And then I lost my temper and added some more baking soda.

That was what I was missing - it thickened up and went syrupy.  After over an hour of stirring I was so pleased!




I used my dulce de leche to make a gorgeous cheesecake.  I don't think I would make this again from scratch, no matter how delicious it was!

Myanmar - Mango Cake


Myanmar sent 6 athletes to London to compete in 5 sports, but unfortunately they didn't win any medals.  I'd originally lined up to do some split pea fritters for this country, but decided against it at the last minute after finding the Mango cake recipe.

I was intrigued by this recipe - but even after making it I still can't quite understand why it's called Mango cake and not just mango icecream - I thought it would have something to do with serving it in slices - but it was a nightmare to get out of the tub!

I had to make a custard, then freeze that while I made the mango syrup to go in it - I used leaf gelatine so I don't think it worked as well as powdered.  When the syrup was ready I had to mix that with the part frozen custard and then leave it all to freeze.




It tastes delicious!

Italy - Spaghetti alla carbonara di salsiccia


Italy sent 284 athletes to London to take part in 22 sports.  They did very well and came 8th overall.

I'd been undecided what I was going to make for Italy, so in the end I let the teens pick what they wanted out of my Jamie's Italian book.  This is what they picked (although it was meant to be linguine but I had spaghetti in so that's what we had!).  There's a version of this on the food network website if you'd like the recipe.







Saturday, 11 August 2012

Fiji - Goat Curry


Fiji sent 9 athletes to compete in London at 6 sports, but unfortunately haven't won any medals.  My google searching left me with loads of dishes I was tempted to try, Ginger Fish, Cassava cake, Kokoda but as soon as I saw the recipe for Fijian Goat Curry I was sold - it had to be that one.  The lovely Ewan gave me a heads up that one of the butcher's stalls in Leeds market had goat in so off we went to get some.

http://www.fijibure.com/namatakula/food.htm#recipes

Because I wasn't cooking that amount of goat I tried to reduce the recipe - but got a bit confused with how much water to add in - I also added far too much yoghurt by accident (it came out too quick!).  I cooked the meat for the length of time indicated in the recipe but we both found the goat to be tough.   Phil had a big portion for lunch yesterday and said it tasted much better after the flavours developing overnight, and a blast in the microwave softened the meat some more.

I just didn't feel like I'd done the goat justice - if I did this sort of goat curry again I'd put it in the slow cooker, like I do for my lamb saag - in fact I'd definitely do a goat saag.

We ate ours with some couscous, I made a quick raita and we used some of the shop bought mango chutney I had left from the Mango Chicken dish I made right at the start.




Japan - Pickled Ginger


Japan sent a whopping 293 competitors to London for 24 sports!  Wikipedia tells me they've won 35 medals so far!  I'm quite impressed that a few of the golds are in Women's wrestling - well done ladies!


I feel like I've let people down with my effort for Japan, I really should have gone and got myself all the gear to make sushi with - but I'm not supposed to eat raw fish being pregnant, and I'm sick of veggie sushi.  In my google searching one of the recipes that popped up was Pickled Ginger http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/632085 this is one of my favourite things to eat when having sushi - I always overindulge in it.





Yet again I've gone overboard with the pink food colouring...but pink is good...  Today the colour looks to have faded a little.  I haven't tried any yet, but hopefully it will taste as good as the stuff I'd get with sushi - although I didn't use a mandolin, so my pieces of ginger are a little generous!

Pickled ginger was really easy to make, and would be a great present in a hamper for someone that loves sushi.

Yemen - Saltah


Yemen sent 4 competitors to London to compete in 3 sports, two using a wildcard.  Unfortunately they haven't been successful medalwise.  My google searching tells me that Yemen cuisine has a heavy Turkish influence.  I opted to make one of the National dishes - Saltah http://www.food.com/recipe/saltah-ground-beef-or-lamb-stew-454279 but unfortunately I couldn't find any hulbah or zhug to add at the end - I did find recipes for both, but there's only so much cooking a tired pregnant lady can do on a Wednesday night...  If I make this dish again then I'd go all out and make hulbah and zhug.







This was one of the dishes I was looking forward to most this week - because for some reason just about every other night we've had a curry of some sort.  I'd initially thought we'd all eat this but after realising it would take a while to cook Phil whipped up some eggs, beans and chips for the teens.  I can't describe how much I wanted those eggs, beans and chips too...  But on I ploughed.

It was worth it, I love coriander, so the amount in it was delicious to me, plus I love any kind of meat and potato stew.  I wasn't sure about adding the eggs at the end (those are the white bits) but it seemed to work. I had two portions and have some for our freezer!


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Press release - Health Poverty Action


You’ve watched the TV programme and shouted out, “I can do better than that!” Well this is your opportunity to prove it by hosting your very own ‘Come Dine with Me’ evening to raise money for Health Poverty Action!

Health Poverty Action is an international health and development charity which provides basic but life-saving healthcare and education in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They work in places where conflict, oppression and poverty are denying people their right to health and specialize in providing basic but life-saving healthcare and education where there is none.  

The concept of a Come Dine with Me evening is simple - you cook dinner for a group of your friends; they come over and eat it (or hide it in their hand bag) - and each guest donates what they think the dinner was worth to Health Poverty Action.

You can introduce a bit of friendly competition by asking guests to return the favour by inviting the same group to a follow-up Come Dine with Me evening at theirs, where you get to score them and make a donation in return for their cooking.

The money you raise will make a huge difference to the lives of the world’s poorest people.

More information about holding a Come Dine with Me fundraiser can be found at http://www.healthpovertyaction.org/get-involved/fundraise-2/come-dine-with-me/ or email Health Poverty Action on fundraising@healthpovertyaction.org.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Netherlands - Chocoladevla


The Netherlands have been competing in the Olympics since 1900, wikipedia tells me they sent 178 athletes to London!

I'd originally lined up a pea and ham soup to do for The Netherlands but decided to pick a dessert instead - who could resist a chocolate custard?

http://dutchfood.about.com/od/desserts/r/ChocolateCustard.htm

I don't think mine was thick enough - possibly because I used a bit extra milk, I misread the recipe and added 75g of cocoa, so added the extra milk to try and salvage things!

I ate mine with strawberries, Phil had his with marshmellows!  I'd have preferred a firmer consistency, but liked the flavour.