Friday, 16 June 2017

Recipe : Puff Pastry Parcel with Ham and Cheese Slices

A friend of mine gave me a packet of cheese slices from Italy and I've decided to bake something indulgent and savoury with them. In Italy cheese slices are very popular while even if I've seen them in supermarkets I've never seen a big selection in different flavours. The ones I've used are Emmental Cheese flavoured.
In Tesco I've bought the majority of the ingredients. A roll of Puff Pastry, a box of Ham Slices, you can choose your favourite among the different varieties. I've picked Honey Roast Ham. One Egg, Sesame Seeds and the Cheese Slices are from Inalpi, an Italian brand.
I've put the puff pastry in a baking tray, leaving it in its paper and after having unrolled it.
I've filled it up with the ham and the cheese slices only halfway, leaving the other side free from the filling. I've put seven slices of cheese and seven of ham.
I've folded the rest of the puff pastry over the filling, pressing the edges so that the filling will stay inside the parcel.
In a little bowl I've divided the yolk from the egg white and I've kept the egg white in the fridge, to make a fluffier omelet later. I've transferred the yolk in the little bowl.
I've brushed the yolk with a food brush over the parcel, so it will have a nice and golden colour during the cooking time.
I've made diagonal cuts with a knife all over the parcel.
At the end I've sprinkled sesame seeds  and put in the oven at 180* Gas 4 for 20/25 minutes.
Isn't it beautiful to look at ? Most of the ingredients are cupboard staples and it is a dish that can be made in less than a hour in total between preparation time and cooking time.
It is delicious. Serve it hot and be ready to have second helpings.










Sunday, 11 June 2017

Fabrics and Soft Furnishing

Soft furnishing and beautiful fabrics make so much for a room that just changing the upholstery to an armchair or adding some cushions on the sofa, gives a new lease of life to a tired looking space. I've picked few brands, some high street and some independent and unique in order to revamp your living space.
This Retro Chaise by Florrie + Bill is gorgeous. Its style dates back to the 1950s while the fabric is inspired by the workspace where the two interior designers work. Actually this chaise is an original one and it has been upholstered after being restored. Florrie + Bill have got a range of cocktail chairs, armchairs as well as cushions which you can see a small range in the picture. They also can refurbish and upholster a chair that you love and that you can't think of being apart from. Check their website at www.florrieandbill.com
John Lewis has got a range of gorgeous armchairs, and this Liberty Fabrics and John Lewis Sterling Armchair is a great collaboration between two iconic British department stores. There are many fabrics to choose from depending on the decor of your place  and this armchair is great in the bedroom or close to the fireplace for a cosy corner.  www.johnlewis.com

This Biba Home Veronica Palm cushion from House of Fraser is gorgeous. Made of velvet and filled with feathers, it will be great scattered on a sofa. Now there is an offer in store where you can buy 3 and pay for 2, so it is the right time to revamp a living room. The gold and maroon colours are great with either light or dark  furniture. www.houseoffraser.co.uk
Have you ever dreamt of putting your feet up and have a bit of  me time reading a novel or simply  watching a film ?  This Zola chair with foot stool in blue velvet is by Next and it is just right. Arrange it on a corner of the dining room or in your bedroom and relax in luxury. www.next.co.uk
Cushions are an immediate revamping tools and these gorgeous ones from the Star by Julien MacDonald  at Debenhams are very glamorous with sequins and embroideries. Scatter them on your bed or pinpoint your favourite sofa spot with the sparkiest one. www.debenhams.com
At Heal's you can find many ideas to renew  a room or just a corner of your flat. These cushions by artist Susi Bellamy are bright and colourful, made for a contemporary style home decor. Her hand designed marble patterns are digitally printed on velvet and made in Britain. The back of the cushions are made of solid colours. www.heals.com
A rug can change completely the look of a room. This Medina rug with Moroccan inspired geometric pattern can be found at Matalan. It is available in three sizes and it is made of 100% wool. Matalan has got a huge range of rugs for all tastes and matching all home decors either plain or patterned. www.matalan.co.uk







Friday, 19 May 2017

Maitre Choux Patisserie

I've discovered Maitre Choux while wandering around South Kensington with time to kill. I was drawn by the white front  with colourful dots and the delicious looking Eclairs on the window display. I could not resist and I went  inside for a well deserved break.
Maitre Choux is at 15 Harrington Road South Kensington SW7 3ES and it is the only branch in the world serving these scrumptious eclairs and choux. The Michelin starred pastry chef Joachim Prat is behind this sweet venture.
This is just an example of what you see walking by the window of Maitre Choux. It is impossible not to stop in front of it and then be tempted to go inside and buy a box of eclairs. It is possible to sit and enjoy it with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, but the place is tiny and it can sit only about 6 people.
Let your taste buds be in heaven and try some of these yummy eclairs. Among the many on offer I would compose a box with the Persian Pistachio with its filling of Pistachio Mousseline cream patissiere and ground pistachios sprinkled on its top, the Spanish Raspberry Pink filled with a soft mousse with raspberry seeds for texture and the Tresoir a la Noisette with hazelnut and a gold leaf decoration on top.
If an eclair is too much, you have to try the Choux, smaller but filled with the same mousses and creams as the eclairs. Try the Salted Butter and Homemade Caramel with a very soft texture or the Tahitian Vanilla Choux with its delicate filling of mousseline  with added whipped cream.
Last but not least the Chouquettes are made of light dough and baked with sugar pearls on top. They are empty and perfect next to a cup of hot chocolate and in the case of Maitre Choux I can say that its hot chocolate is delicious, thick and creamy. The patisserie closes at 7 pm and I've heard that by 5pm most of its eclairs are sold out. I went there on a Saturday at about 1pm and as you can see from the pictures the offering was amazing. Make it a stop for a midday break or an early afternoon tea. www.maitrechoux.com





Saturday, 15 April 2017

House of Fraser Home Range

I like shopping in a department store because you can find everything under one roof. And I love shopping for homeware and interior decors, especially when the season changes. It is like welcoming the new. Also it is a good place for a wedding list or to look for a gift now that it is the time for all this kind of celebrations and occasions. House of Fraser ticks all the boxes. I've picked a few items in order to refresh the look of a dining table or a living room.
This lovely dining set is from the collection "Linea Tribe Dinnerware" range. They are in porcelain, dishwasher and microwave oven safe and you can mix and match plates, bowls, serving plates and mugs just to name a few and prices start from £ 6.00 up to £ 25.00.
It is very colourful the Collection "Linea Villa Vista" range where it is possible to match table linen and napkins as well for a tropical look on your table. This collection is in melamine, designed exclusively for House of Fraser. It is dishwasher safe but don't put it in the microwave oven or traditional one. prices start at £ 3.00. The beautiful cutlery is from the Odette range by Biba Home in gold plated stainless steel and dishwasher safe. The set comprises 24 pieces to sit 6 and it comes in an elegant box. Perfect for a wedding gift and cutlery is never enough.
The Gray & Willow chopping board has got a copper handle, made of ashwood and it is perfect for either cooking preparation or to display cheese or other food on the table. It is recommended to hand wash it. The sets of cheese knives are from Gray & Willow and they come with a cheese board with marble top where they are allocated inside.

Gray & Willow has got  range of kitchenware products that remind me of a country cottage. This Citrus Reamer in acacia wood and marble is a piece that not only is useful but it is a decor for the kitchen as well.
From the Junipa Mikki Dinnerware collection you can find a range of stoneware plates, bowls and mugs dishwasher and microwave oven safe. It is a lovely set that you can mix and match given the four different patterns and they will be great for a nice brunch.
Scatter around the dining room some of these lovely tea light holders in resin by Junipa. The hand painted finish make it looks like ceramic and the flower shape keeps the flame protected so safe to put on the table. The choice of colours is either pink or grey.

I love this Biba Home cut out lantern where the famous logo of the iconic fashion designer can be seen. When you put a pillar candle inside, the lights will project the intricate art deco pattern of the lamp all around. Perfect in the garden during a summer party or on a terrace as well as in the dining room in order to warm up the atmosphere. Find more ideas at www.houseoffraser.co.uk on how to improve your interior decors.






Thursday, 13 April 2017

La Madia Regale Products from Umbria

Madia is a very important piece of furniture in the old times, it was used to knead and store bread and its name has got that feeling of good food, prepared with natural ingredients. So La Madia Regale is like a Royal Pantry in a way. This company is located in Umbria at the heart of Italy, and now that it is time to organise holidays or maybe friends are coming to visit over here, it could be a good idea to stock up on delicious truffle seasoning, or porcini mushrooms pates or amazing jellies and jams to sample with cheese and meat.
The Chardonnay Jelly is a very sophisticated chutney that you can use on cheese or meat, and even in desserts. The taste is very intriguing and for sure it will be very  appreciated. Shelf life is 30 months so you can buy a couple of jars and keep them at home maybe in the occasion of a party.
This jam with Goji Berry and Honey is a bit spicy and perfect on top of ice cream, or with pancakes and waffles. It can be eaten by the spoonful instead of eating dry Goji Berry.
It is delicious, a pate of Pecorino Cheese and Summer Black Truffle. You can use it to season pasta, risotto, bruschetta as well as sandwiches and toasted bread for a gourmet breakfast.
This sauce is made with Pecorino Cheese and Pepper and it is a typical pasta sauce from the centre of Italy. In Rome is one of the most popular pasta recipes. Add it to your pasta al dente in a pan and stir for a couple of minutes.
This tomato sauce is made with wild boar. In Umbria it is very common to see them in woods and forests. To use this sauce you just need to put it in a pan, add a couple of spoonfuls of cooking water and then stir it. After that you add your pasta al dente and pronto, you will be transported back to that little trattoria. Serve with grated cheese and a glass of red wine. Check all the products including Extra Virgin Olive Oil and more at www.lamadiaregale.com










Saturday, 8 April 2017

Recipe: Fusilli with Mackerel and Anchovies

I love pasta and with cupboard ingredients it is possible to prepare so many delicious sauces that you can cook pasta every day and still make it with a new recipe. Today I've decided to make a sauce with a tin of mackerel and anchovies in oil, adding chopped tomatoes and the unmissable garlic and chilli. Obviously you can find these ingredients in any supermarket and they don't have to be that specific brand.
I've used Extra Virgin Olive Oil  Di Molfetta from Apulia, Organic Fusilli Santamaria from Apulia, a tin of Mackerel in oil by Angelo Parodi, then a tin of chopped tomatoes, capers and anchovies in oil bought at Tesco, rock salt, one clove of garlic and one chilli.
As usual I've put a pan with plenty of water on the hob and I've added a handful of Rock Salt and while I've waited for it to boil I've started making the sauce.
In my wok I've put a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Di Molfetta and I've added the clove of Garlic and the Chilli, being careful not to burn the garlic.
After a couple of minutes I've added the Mackerel fillets by Angelo Parodi and three Anchovies Fillets by Tesco and I've cooked them for a couple of minutes.
After I've added the Tesco Chopped Tomatoes and I've stirred the sauce. Remember not to add salt because anchovies and mackerel have got it already and the balance is just right.
Add the Capers after you've drained the liquid. You can put as many as you want, I've used  two spoonfuls of them.
At last add a sprinkle of Oregano and mix everything, keeping the sauce on the hob until it becomes less liquid. Let's say about ten minutes. This gives the water time to boil.
When the water boils add the Fusilli Santamaria and stir with a skimmer for the time indicated on the packet. Remember that every brand has its own timing but it is always around 11 minutes. Drained very "al dente" because they are going to be put in the wok for a final stir. So if the packet says 11 minutes you taste it and when the pasta is still a bit hard drain it.
Stir the sauce with the pasta until it is perfectly mixed.
Enjoy ! If you like you can sprinkle some chopped parsley on top.











Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Sainsbury's Home Spring Summer 17

When the season changes and the weather starts to warm up you feel the urge to buy something new for the house, like welcoming the good weather in your life. And if we are looking for dark colours and gold in the winter, when spring and summer come up we like lots of bright colours. Also we like to organise little parties and barbecues. Sainsbury's is going to have fantastic  items to cheer up a table or the kitchen.
This serving tray looks amazing. The shine, the colour and the look suggest that you are in front of a beautiful ceramic dish, maybe bought in some holiday places the previous summer right? Wrong, because this lovely tray is made of melamine from the Shore Collection. Perfect to serve vegetables, or salads, it is dishwasher safe and very light in weight despite being very solid. It is priced at £ 5.00, look out for it because  I think it will be a best seller.
This bucket barbecue is great and you can enjoy a BBQ even if you haven't got a garden but just a balcony. Even if you have a garden, it will be easy to clean and it won't take lots of space in the shed or in a cupboard. Priced at £ 10.00 you can add these beautiful tongs and start sending out those BBQ invites.
Summer is that time when you can eat outside and soak up the sun. Sainsbury's has launched its Summer Solstice collection bursting with colours. Plates, glasses with straws, multi coloured cutlery  and dish covers, so flies won't come ruining your food, are just a few of the many items for the home and the garden. Look out for the drink dispenser, already in store with a capacity of 3.5 litres, perfect for serving water on tap.
A breath of fresh air in any kitchen is given when we buy new crockery. These  breakfast mugs and bowls are lovely with their pastel colours and retro decor. Tea towels and place mats match the plates for the perfect breakfast setting.
From the Butterfly House Collection I love this Drink Dispenser, already in store at £ 16.00. It is not suitable for dishwasher and microwave oven and for hot liquids. Perfect for a party where you can mix a punch or a flavoured water. The Tumbler with its straw complements the holiday feeling style of this colourful range. It is priced at £ 4.00 and it requires the same care as the Drink Dispenser. The Cocktail Shaker is not yet in store but look out for it.
The Shore  Collection is fresh and airy and when you lay out a table like this you are transported immediately to the South of France or in Cornwall. Dinner sets are in Fine China while serving dishes and bowls are  in melamine. Everything is dishwasher safe.
Where to serve a fruit or a vegetable salad? But in this salad bowl from the Hinterland Home Collection of course. Made of melamine it will jazz up any table with its content but also with its design inspired by tribal  themes. Great for a pic nic in style or for a lunch in the garden when the last thing you want is to carry a heavy, ceramic bowl. Look for more ideas  at www.sainsburys.co.uk