Monday, 31 December 2012

Crockpot slow cooker

I was sent a Crock Pot slow cooker to review way back in November, but didn't get round to using it until mid December.  Cooking anything for Daisy's first few weeks was completely beyond us - we lived off ready meals and take aways.

When I finally got round to using the Crock Pot I made a Fridge Forage Stew - using chorizo and any vegetables that needed using up which I served with rice, a beef stew, and a Beef Thai Green Curry.  I didn't take a picture of the thai beef curry, because I went slightly wrong by not adding fresh coriander when making the paste - I used dried and it really didn't give that green colour - the curry ended up being a sludgy brown colour - but it tasted fantastic!  I'll be trying to do it again in the next couple of days so will blog it properly then.

I have a slow cooker already, but the big difference between that and the Crock Pot one is the Crock Pot has a timer.  You set the cooker going, set how many hours to cook for and off it goes.  When that time is up the cooker switches into Warm mode and keeps the food warm.  I do sometimes worry about overdoing things in the slow cooker, if I set it before I went to work at 7am then we didn't get back till 7pm - so this function is a big improvement on my old slow cooker.

I'd definitely recommend this slow cooker, just for the timer!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meals

I was kindly sent the 15 minute meals book to review, although this displeased Mama B as she'd planned on buying me it for Christmas... If you're planning on purchasing the book it's available on amazon but I do think I've seen it cheaper in WH Smiths.

After a quick flick through the recipes I decided to make the Sausage Gnocchi and Greek Chicken.  I liked the main components of these recipes, but not the side dishes - I find this a lot with Jamie's recipes.  I don't think he'll mind me improvising - and I really hope he doesn't hold me using a packet of couscous - I couldn't find the plain couscous on the Tesco website to get with my delivery, so I used an Ainsley Harriott one!

Both meals were delicious, but I would need to practice making both before I could make them in 15 minutes!

I've really enjoyed the series, so I was very pleased to have the book to go with it.  There's a lot of recipes in there that I'll make, or adapt to our tastes.  My only slight criticism of the recipes are that the ingredients are very expensive.  I certainly couldn't afford to do a full week of these meals.

Like all Jamie books the recipes are easy to follow, and the appearance of the book is lovely.  

This won't take the title of my favourite Jamie book though - that's still controversially the Jamie's Kitchen book.  

Do you have a favourite Jamie Oliver recipe book?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Come SPAM with Rach!

I was contacted by the PR firm for Spam to let me know about their frugal 5p canapés using Spam.  Gloriously dubbed "SPAMapés".  (They had me hooked at the name).

Spam isn't something I eat much of, but I liked the idea, and I loved the name so I had to give them a go.

I was some cans to use and set about making some canapés this evening.  The press release sent by their PR company had the two recipes on to make the 5p canapés, but in true Come Dine With Rach style I wanted to make the recipe my own so added a few extra touches.  This, of course, will mean these no longer come in at a purse friendly 5p each - but tis the season of excess, so why not.

Goats Cheese and Tomato SPAMapés

Ingredients as per press release below with additions:

Half red onion, finely chopped
chilli flakes
Goats cheese

I substituted the spring onions for red onion then added the chilli flakes in with the other ingredients for the batter and then followed the method as below.  The goats cheese was added at the end with half a cherry tomato.

My version is a bit more rustic than the ones below, and bigger than a canapé should be really!

I wasn't sure what to expect with the spamapé but they're actually really tasty, and very easy to do. I'll be making more of these for boxing day, serving with the tomato, chilli and ginger chutney I'm making this week!

Press Release

Christmas canapés that will wow your guests but at a bite-sized cost
With hectic Christmas and New Year festivities rapidly approaching, the last thing you want to think about is food preparation. That’s why we have created these quick and simple SPAM
apés made with SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time getting ready for your party guests.

Make your party one to remember by using SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham in your canapés. These perfect finger foods will entice your friends to the buffet table, and what’s just as impressive as the taste is the price! Just one can of SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham makes up to 40 canapés - that’s a tiny bite-sized cost of just 5p per canapé!

Indulge your guests with these mini SPAM® Cakes and Bruschettas, which can be made quickly by mixing SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham with other simple ingredients.
For fuss free festive nibbles, check out the recipes below.


1 x 340g can of SPAM® Chopped Pork & Ham - cut into 1/4" cubes
100g Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 egg beaten
150 ml milk
1 small tin sweetcorn - drained
4 spring onions finely chopped (use green bits as well)
Vegetable oil for frying
small cherry tomatoes for garnish - sliced in half
cocktail sticks


1)  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, egg and milk.
2)  Mix in the cubes of SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham, drained sweetcorn and chopped spring onions
3)  Heat a non- stick pan with 2 tsp oil and cook spoonfuls of the batter until golden
     Turn over and cook the other side. Continue this until all mixture is used up
4) Drain on kitchen paper - keep warm to serve straight away otherwise allow to cool, spike a tomato half with a cocktail stick and garnish each SPAM® Cake
Recipe should make approximately 30 canapes


1 X 340g tin of SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham - cut into 1/4" slices and then into triangles etc.
4 mini baguettes cut into 1/2" slices - should get 10 slices per baguette
1 x 190g Jar Basil Pesto
1 x 190g Jar Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

1) Toast slices of mini baguettes on both sides and allow to get cold
2)  Spread half the bruschetta with Basil Pesto and the other half with Sun dried tomato Pesto
3)  Place a triangle of SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham on each bruschetta
4)  Garnish with the olives and sun dried tomatoes. Put onto serving plate and sprinkle with chopped parsley

Makes approximately 40 Bruschetta

SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham is available in Classic, Bacon, Black Pepper and Garlic varieties and is available in 200g and 340g cans from all major UK supermarkets with an RRP of £1.49 and £1.69 respectively.   For further information on SPAM® Chopped Pork and Ham products follow us on Facebook or visit our website

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Chunky Onion Marmalade

I made the next additions to my Christmas hampers last week using an Ainsley Harriot recipe but didn't quite chop the onions finely enough, so my offering is called Chunky Onion Marmalade.  I didn't alter the ingredients, quantities or method from the recipe - unusual for me, but I don't have time to do a few versions to get perfect so I had to put my faith into Ainsley...  My gamble paid off though, I had a sneaky taste of what didn't make it into the jars and it was delicious!

 The onions I used came from my Yorkshire Farm Shop vegetable box.  A weekly email gets sent out with the vegetables available from the farm and then you get to choose what size box you want, and if you want a box that week.  There's also breads, dairy and a beers and sundries list that comes out that can be ordered from too.  I'd definitely recommend the vegetable boxes, using organic veg really makes a difference to the flavour and has definitely improved my onion marmalade and carrot chutney!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Meal Planning Monday

It's been a long time since I linked up with Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday - I have been meal planning for the last few weeks (although not really sticking to it) I just haven't had time to get a blog post done on it.

Monday - Slow cooker Chorizo stew (as inspired by Charlie)
Tuesday - Stuffed chicken with roasted veg (potatoes, carrot, tomatoes & beetroot)
Wednesday - Paella (Chicken & chorizo)
Thursday - Sweet potato and chilli soup
Friday - jacket potato, cheese & beans
Saturday - haddock & cheesy leeks
Sunday - slow cooker beef stew, cauliflower cheese & mash

I'm not doing anything too taxing this week because I also have my Christmas Hampers to finish (and a 5 week old to look after!).  I did the onion marmalade last week, this week is more carrot chutney and chilli jam.  I'll be making the baked goodies nearer to Christmas.

Is anyone else making goodies for Christmas hampers?

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Cowboy Casserole

Looking after Daisy is meaning that cooking isn't a great priority at the minute.  After living off ready meals/take aways for the first couple of weeks I've been trying to make sure I cook most of the nights - but things have to be quick and easy.  We've been having a lot of one pot meals, and last night I quickly whipped up a quick version of Cowboy Casserole.  If I was making this with more time I'd add a better selection of beans, and some more veg - onions, carrots etc but I just wanted it to be simple and easy.

Six good quality sausages, I used pork & sage
One tin tomatoes
One tin beans
Good squirt of tomato puree
black pepper
cayenne pepper

I chopped the sausages in half and then browned them in my large casserole pan for about 15 minutes.and then threw over the tins of tomatoes and beans, squeezed in the tomato puree and seasoned with black and cayenne pepper.  I let that simmer for about 10 minutes and then served.

A posher version of a tin of sausage and beans really!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Visit Leeds Foodie Guide to Christmas Eating in Leeds

I was contacted by Visit Leeds and send a copy of their Foodie Guide to eating in Leeds this Christmas.  I hope to check out Friends of Ham at some point, having not been yet due to being pregnant.

Compact and cosmopolitan, Leeds city centre boasts a huge selection of restaurants and places to eat, all within walking distance of each other.   

It’s a city of gastronomic stalwarts, with many of the same names being recognised year-after-year for their fine fodder.  Names such Anthony’s, Sous le Nez, Hansa’s, Brasserie 44 and the 4th Floor in Harvey Nichols would all feature on this list.

However, this Christmas it’s well worth looking a little harder for some of the city’s shiny new gems and surprising suppers. Here are a few of the new(er) kids on the Leeds culinary block.

Friends of Ham
The Only Craft Beer Bar & Charcuterie in the UK (we think). No pretentions here, just good beer.

You could call Friends of Ham a Craft Beer Deli, a Charcuterie Ale Bar, or even a Continental Bier Cafe (if you’re feeling fancy)... all we know is that every single item on the food, beer and wine menus has been chosen because the team there hopes that you’ll enjoy it just as much as they do.

They source air dried ham, charcuterie and cheese locally where possible, but aren’t afraid to ship in cheeses and meats such as authentic Iberico Ham from further afield if they really can’t be matched.

4 New Station Street, Leeds, tel: 0113 242 0275


Create is an award-winning social enterprise, which develops innovative catering training courses and creates jobs for people who have been homeless, marginalised or who are vulnerable.

The flagship restaurant in the heart of Leeds offers fantastic food in a lively, friendly atmosphere. Opened in August 2011, the restaurant was developed and is overseen by Richard Walton-Allen, its National Executive Chef. From contemporary decor and furnishings to a menu of modern British classics, it has designed every detail to provide diners with a unique and memorable experience.

It also recently won the Observer Food Monthly Best Ethical Restaurant of the year 2012.

31 King Street, Leeds tel: 0113 242 0628

Kendells Bistro

Unashamedly French and unmistakably Yorkshire, it is relaxed, eccentric and informal. No waiters topping up wine glasses after every sip, or sneaking up behind you with a six foot peppermill. There are cloth napkins, but not starched, blackboard menus, an open plan kitchen, and intimate cosy candles flickering friendly. It’s also won Best Chef for Chef Patron Steve Kendell, Best Fine Dining and Best Overall Restaurant in the 2012 Oliver Awards.

3 St Peters Square, Leeds tel: 01132436553

Bird by Vineet, at the Alea Casino

The award-winning Bird Restaurant is run by twice Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia. Named Best Indian Restaurant in 2011 by the Oliver Awards, and listed in the prestigious Michelin Guide 2013, the Bird delivers exceptional food and an overall dining experience second-to-none. Dramatic design and exquisite presentation leave diners in no doubt this is a far cry from the local curry house!

The Bird offers a wide variety of main courses as well as delicious street food platters and a selection of exotic deserts.

Add an exciting twist to your visit by learning how to cook your favourite street food dish on the tak-a-tak grill with head chef Vivek Kahsiwale.

The Bird, Alea Leeds, 4 The Boulevard, Clarence Dock, Leeds, tel: 0113 350 5296


An authentic steak house, bringing you all the tradition behind the original Brazilian way of serving meat. Top gaucho chefs expertly grill 15 cuts of meat, and offer customers continuous tableside service – diners have a green and red-sided card on their table. Show the green and the chef will bring out skewers of sizzling meats to the table; show the red side to indicate you need a rest. Fill up on the gourmet salad bar, traditional Brazilian side dishes and an excellent wine list – and remember to bring a good appetite.

Waterman's Place, 3 Wharf Approach, Granary Wharf, Leeds, tel: 0113 247 1182

Leeds Corn Exchange
Leeds Corn Exchange is one of Britain's finest Victorian buildings and a Grade 1 listed structure. Recently restored with its stunning and unique roof, the Corn Exchange hosts three different and exciting venues, from the more formal brasserie style Anthony’s Piazza, to the unabashed Americana of Primo Gourmet Hotdogs and the self-service style Rib Shakk with its homemade ‘Slaw’ and skin on fries.

Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds, tel: 0113 234 0363


Notes to Editor
1. Contacts for further information/images
Nina Hands, Aberfield Communications
T: 0113 357 2072
M: 07971 598904

2. Leeds and Partners
Leeds and Partners works to raise the profile of Leeds on the national and international stage, promoting the city as a key destination for inward investment, business and leisure tourism.  The organisation works with key private and public sector partners to attract new investment and drive economic growth – helping to create and sustain jobs and employment opportunities in the region.
For corporate and consumer information see

Monday, 3 December 2012

Swizzels Christmas Sweets

Stuck for inspiration for the sweet lover in your life?  How about some Swizzels sweets...  I was sent some of their Christmas collection to review, and they've gone down a treat in our house.  Drumsticks are a favourite of mine so those have been earmarked for me!

Press release:

Calling all festive sweet fanatics. A new range of Christmas tins and tubes, that make perfect presents and stocking fillers, have been launched by Swizzels Matlow, the makers of Love Hearst, Parma Violets and Drumstick Lollies.

The festive collection sees Swizzels Matlow putting some of their most iconic brands into 750g tins. The new Sweet Shop Favourites product, which includes the popular new Squashies range, has an RSP of £5 and is available in Costco, Asda and Nisaway. The varied selection of well known brands is perfect for families to share and makes a fun gift.

Other products available exclusively in Tesco include750g The Superstars tin with an RSP of £5, a 324g Selection Pack with an RSP of £3 that includes a variety of Drumstick Lollies, Love Hearts and New Refresher Bars and  finally a 700g All Time Favourites Jar for £5. These family favourites are bright, with a modern design that's appealing to parents and children alike.

The Christmas range also includes three different 108g tubes of Mini Love Hearts, New Refreshers and Drumstick Lollies, all have an RSP of £1.49 and are all available in Waitrose and Asda. The products' festive snowflake and ribbon packaging has been designed to attract seasonal shoppers and convert traditional chocolate eaters.