Friday, 27 January 2017

Recipe: Spaghetti with Mackerell Fillets

I don't put generally recipes on my blog but this sauce came so delicious that I want to share with my readers. I've used mostly Italian ingredients which can be easily found in delis but I'm sure that also supermarkets can cater with a local production.
I've used Extra Virgin Olive Oil Organic Gold label by Tamia, a tin of Mackerel Fillets by Angelo Parodi, a tin of Plum Cherry tomatoes Dorini by La Torrente, Squared Spaghetti by La Molisana, garlic, salt  and chilli.
I've put the Extra Virgin Olive oil in a wok (so the sauce and pasta can be stirred properly) with a clove of garlic and a chilli. when the garlic has taken a golden hue I've add the plum cherry tomatoes.
You can use fresh cherry tomatoes as well, in this case boil them in order to peel their skin off. With the wooden spoon squeeze them so that they can produce their sauce and take the flavour of the garlic and chilli oil.
Next step, when the sauce is under way, it will take about ten minutes, add the mackerel fillets. Meanwhile you have already put a pan filled with water and when started boiling you can add a handful of rock salt. Rock salt is the best salt for cooking pasta, I prefer this to the fine salt which is difficult to measure up. While  rock salt you can just  put a small quantity on your palm and it will work.
I won't put salt in the sauce because the mackerel fillets already have it. Mix the fish in the tomato sauce  and stir until all the fillets are covered and let simmer for few minutes.
Now the water is boiling, the rock salt has been added, put the spaghetti  without  breaking them in two. Gently, with a  two pronged carving fork stir the spaghetti until they are completely covered by the water and let them cook al dente. Spaghetti generally take around 8 to 10 minutes or a bit more, it depends on the brand. This spaghetti Quadrati by La Molisana need 13 minutes cooking time. On the packet the cooking time is always mentioned but I believe that personal taste is the best judge and remember that after that the pasta has to be put in the wok .
When the pasta is ready drain it and pour it in the wok, put on the hob again and stir the spaghetti with the sauce until they are evenly blend with the fish sauce.
Ready and delicious it is a pasta that can be made with cupboard staples. The presence of fish ask for  white wine. The recipe is simple and it takes all in all including boiling time no more than 45 minutes, so it is a perfect dish for a last minute dinner or in case of unexpected guests.








Sunday, 18 December 2016

Tesco for Christmas

Christmas is a week away and now all the shops have got  food that you don't need to freeze in order to prepare it for the big day. Tesco has got a great range of food for the festive holidays. Given my proximity to a Tesco store, I always rely on it for my Christmas meals. Party food is one of my favourite range.
Enjoy an alcohol free fizz with these Finest Alcohol Free Sparkling wines. The taste is great and with only 0.5 % is ideal if you want to celebrate but then you need to drive home. There are some Alcohol free wines as well for a "virgin" mulled wine.
With the great selection of cheese at Tesco it will be easy to organise a delicious cheese board for an impromptu Christmas party. Few bottles of wine, crackers, grapes and a plate with tempting British and Continental cheese will be perfect for a nice evening. Try to find different cheese matching the nationalities of your guests. It will be a nice touch and a conversation topic.
Can't be bothered to go out or to have relatives at home? This Christmas Dinner in a Box for 2 from the Finest range can be ordered and it contains two pieces of turkey with all the trimmings, half a bottle of champagne and a Christmas pudding as well as a cracker. No slaving away in the kitchen, just put everything in the oven as instructed on the box and pronto, you can enjoy your intimate meal without having to endure the usual stress attached to these holidays.
The Tesco Black Forest Dome Gateau is in the frozen department, so you can buy it earlier and then defrost it 4 hours before eating it. It is a very indulgent dessert that when opened it reveals layers of chocolate sponge and kirsch chocolate cream mousse laced with a sweet and sour cherry sauce.
Another scrumptious cake from the Finest range this Red Velvet and Chocolate Winter Wonderland Cake will make a fantastic centrepiece for those 5 minutes before it will be cut in slices and eaten. It is difficult to write about this cake because it is so mouthwatering that I stop frequently. So I will try, It is a three layers cake with red velvet sponge and chocolate sponge, filled with plain and white Belgian chocolate butter cream and then a chocolate sauce. Also it is hand decorated with bronze and red  Belgian chocolate.
This sparkly Tesco Finest Snowflake Cascade Cake is a rich fruit cake with glace cherries, infused with brandy and cognac and covered with marzipan and white icing. It is so beautiful that it is a pity to cut it open right ? I'm joking of course, but at least take a picture of it and instagram it for all the world to see. If you want to avoid the pre Christmas stampede at your local Tesco, you can also order online and pick up in store or wait for the delivery man to come to your place. www.tesco.com









Thursday, 15 December 2016

Food Gifts at the National Gallery

When visiting friends or for a gift to the food lover who loves art as well, the range of products at the National Gallery shop is very tempting and delicious too. A selection of chocolates, spirits, teas and preserves just to name a few are available, all depicting details of the masterpieces on display in the museum. It is good to remember that each purchase at the shop helps the National Gallery so that it can still be visited for free.
This selection of Teas have been exclusively chosen by the Tea Master of the East India Company, and they are all special blends of black teas while the packet with the Van Gogh ' Sunflowers is a herbal infusion of chamomile, rose buds and orange petals.  You can buy one together with a nice mug or a selection, good for a Secret Santa as well.
Prestat Chocolate bars have been wrapped in all these famous paintings, and they are perfect stocking fillers or buy the 6 bars to have the whole selection. Also truffles and pralines are available in nice boxes for a scrumptious gift.
Here you can find a suggestion for a gift set with two different teas, one in teabags and the other one in leaves paired them with two nice mugs in bone china in a tray and you can choose your favourite artists for an arty gift.
London Dry Gin and Sloe Gin are just two examples of the distilled spirits that you can find at the National Gallery from the " Delicious Art" range. If you know a  gin connoisseur, I am sure  these bottles will be very appreciated.
This beautiful hamper from the Delicious Art range has got  tea, biscuits, orange & whiskey marmalade, chocolate, fudges and wine. It is a real feast for the a foodie friend with sophisticated taste. All the products have been carefully selected and packed exclusively for the National Gallery.
You' ve got a friend who is more into espresso coffee rather than tea or Americano ? The Sunflower espresso set will be the perfect choice with two coffee cups and  saucers depicting the famous Van Gogh painting. They are made of ceramic and they can be used in the microwave and dishwasher.


The wine sold at the National Gallery comes from the Rothschild family from their vineyard  Chateau Lafite. This year the Reserve Special  Bordeaux Rouge  wine  has been produced from  the vintage 2010 and it is a blend of  Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. If white is the preferred choice the Reserve Special Bordeaux Blanc from the same vintage 2010 is available, a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon, perfect for seafood or to be served as an aperitif. A case of 6 mixed bottles or 6 white wine bottles is also on display. These wines have been bottled and labelled in a collaboration between the National Gallery and the Rothschild family.
Let's celebrate with a bottle of Champagne Baron Fuente vintage 2004, crafted using three different grapes : Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot  Noir. This sophisticated  drink has been produced in partnership with Baron Fuente. You can find more food ideas at www.nationalgallery.co.uk and you can even buy what you like and prepare a hamper yourself adding a tray or a couple of mugs or a couple of glasses if buying a bottle of wine or champagne. The choice is huge and the products are just the top you can find.
























Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Ideas For Christmas : Luxury Gifts

Christmas is that time of the year when you feel that you can spoil yourself or a loved one, especially if a Christmas bonus in on sight. And sometimes we wait Christmas for that big purchase, for that statement piece of furniture or home improvement. I've found few items that can give ideas where to invest  this year.
These three beautiful hand blown vases are by Peter Layton who has been inspired by Monet's Water Lily Pond and created these stunning pieces exclusively for the National Gallery. Each vase is signed and numbered and comes with a certificate of authenticity. www.nationalgallery.co.uk
Baobab Collection Candles is a Belgian company that elevates  this item to a very sophisticated home decor. All its candle holders are in fact beautiful glass vases or stainless steel holders that once the candle has burned out become an object on its own. All the candles are poured by hand and the glass vases are blown by expert craftsmen. The maxi candle will last for almost one thousand hours leaving no trace of wax inside the glass holder. The fragrances are elaborated in Grasse, the top place in the world for perfumes' laboratories and everything is ethically done up to the label which is applied by hand. www.baobabcollection.com
Anna Fendi has started a new venture with a collection of wines, sourced from small wineries and, together with her husband and a sommelier, she selected 21 wines. I will tell you about Anna Fendi wines in another post but now what I want to show you is this beautiful limited edition leather case for one bottle. Obviously with the name Fendi and the expertise in the leather world, Madame Fendi has come up with a gorgeous case like this. www.annafendi.com
Calvisius Caviar comes from Italy, from the North and they've been around for over 40 years breeding different varieties of  the most prestigious sturgeons, in fresh water ponds. The result is a range of caviar that covers 15 % of the world market. You can buy Calvisius Caviar in UK at www.finefoodspecialist.co.uk or at www.wgwhite.co.uk  and know more about the brand at www.calvisius.com
I love Smeg appliances, they always come up with gorgeous designs, especially with their fridges. This time Smeg teamed up with Dolce & Gabbana and you can see the result. A series of 100 exclusive pieces of the FAB28 refrigerator depict Sicilian scenes like the cart or the marionette theatre. The bright colours and the design make them a work of art. They've been painted by Sicilian artists who transported the Sicilian folklore on the appliances. www.smeg.com





Monday, 12 December 2016

Ideas For Christmas: Animal Themed Gifts

I've got lots of friends who love animals and if they can't have one in their flats because of house regulations or lack of time or space they like to have items that remind them of thei beloved animal. So when you know which animal your best friend is in love with, it is just a matter of seconds before you buy something for the house or some accessory with the pet depicted in it. I have the same with cats. I can't keep a cat in my flat and I've got lots of items depicting cats, scattered everywhere.
If your friend is a dog lover, one of these bright mugs from Joules will be the perfect choice. You can add a nice packet of tea for that final touch. Joules has created a whole range of homeware with the dogs for this season, so egg cups, plates and tea towels are available  to make the matching breakfast set. www.joules.com
This lovely robin door stop is from M & Co and it is made of fabric. It has that festive feel, I know, but robins are lovely all year round. I remember a visiting robin every day in my yard, waiting for my mum to shake the crumbs from the tablecloth. Check at M & Co , they've got another door stop with a polar bear as well. www.mandco.com
Mugs are always a popular choice for a gift and they are never enough in a house. There are the work mugs, the treat myself mugs and the tea for two mugs among many others, each used for a specific moment. These set of two mugs with a deer in it are by Next and they are made of Fine China. Add a hot chocolate jar or a special tea pack for a complete treat. www.next.co.uk
House of Fraser is the one stop for most of your Christmas gifts. This Dickins & Jones Goosey Lucy Hotwater Bottle is a great gift. The cover makes it keep the hot water for many hours, as well as avoiding to be scalded when the surface is very hot. It is a gift for all ages and one that will be always in use, especially in the cold months when you want a bit of warmth and you don't have a cat that can sit on your laps.  www.houseoffraser.co.uk
Paperchase has got  many ideas for an Animal Themed gift. This Woodland Tails Rabbit Teapot  is a lovely addition to any kitchen and owning a teapot put an emphasis at prepare a cup of tea with a bit of care, using leaves and let them brew . It is a kind of " me time for tea time". Just remember not to use washing up soap to wash it, but only hot water. This is for keeping the teapot odour free but for the flavours of the teas brewed in there.  www.paperchase.co.uk



Museum shops are always full of intriguing pieces and this Squirrel Pitcher Jug is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and can be found at the Victoria and Albert Museum  shop. It is hand painted and it can go in the microwave and the dishwasher as well. It is 25 cm tall with a capacity of 1 litre. It will bring a twist to any afternoon snack with fruit juices or iced tea or to a breakfast while pouring hot milk from it. www.vam.ac.uk




Sunday, 11 December 2016

Wyevale Garden Centres at Christmas

The Wyevale Garden Centres have got something like 151 garden centres in England and Wales and all year round the selection of plants and everything for the garden is outstanding. During Christmas time the centres acquire a very festive atmosphere with replica trees, real trees , decorations and everything for that one stop address to go to when looking for  gifts and home decor.
This is just a small selection of baubles for your Christmas tree at Wyevale Garden Centres.  Decorations have got 5 themes: Chalet, very cosy, Frosted Mistletoe with its glitters like a frosty landscape, Swan Lake with bejewelled baubles, feathers and glam, then 12 days of Christmas with the typical festive colours and vintage look, and Cosmic with iridescent colours and geometric shapes .
These large sequin baubles are part of the Frosted Mistletoe range and they are nice decorations also if displayed them on a tray as a centrepiece, with some tinsel. Group  three or four together and hung them at the sides of a fireplace for a winter wonderland effect.
These tea light holders can be lovely gifts, paired them with a supply of tea lights or you can buy them and scatter them around the dining room with a tea light inside for a festive decoration during the Christmas meals. Great  on the table or at windowsills and mantelpieces for a flickering atmosphere.
Serve your roast and gravy in this elegant set and then serve the Christmas pudding in those glass bowls and plates. I love  tableware and there are certain pieces that are used only during the festive season becoming a kind of tradition in the family. I bet that everyone has got a particular piece that reminds us of Christmas time at grandma's house. A classic shape like this in the picture could be the starting of a family heirloom.
At Wyevale Garden Centres a section about food related gifts has got a great selection of hampers and gift sets like this Gentleman's Selection by Cottage Delight with Scottish Oatcakes, pates, jelly, chutney and pickles.
This delicious ginger preserve is made with chunks of fresh ginger has been produced by Cartwright & Butler and sold in an air tight container that can be used to store food afterwards. It is great on toast, or to glaze meat and also as a filling for pancakes. Wyevale Garden Centres sell this very popular British brand  which during Christmas time becomes a favourite and it could be a nice gift  for the food lover.
It is from Wilkins & Sons, another British brand at Wyevale Garden Centres,  this  lovely idea for a nice gift. This Breakfast Set comprise of a wooden board shaped like a slice of toast, a jar of Tiptree orange marmalade, two jars of Tiptree conserves and a box of Tiptree Breakfast tea.
Go online at www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk to check which store is near  you, and during this period there are lots of events going on. You can stop there for lunch or for tea and stock up in decorations and gifts for all. You won't leave empty handed.










Saturday, 10 December 2016

Morrisons for Christmas

The huge selection of Christmas meals at supermarkets right now is unbelievable and every  store has got  new offers and menu for all the tastes. Morrisons has got a great choice of already seasoned cuts of meat just to be put in the oven for a stress free Christmas meal.
From the 19th of December this Best British Lamb Guard of Honour, will be available, glazed with a whiskey and orange marmalade and then with added crust of citrus and peppercorn for a festive flavour. Just put it in the oven for a succulent main course. Priced at £ 17.50 per kg , each couple of racks are about 1.250 kg.
Shellfish can't be missed from the Christmas table, traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve. This delicious Best Large Shellfish Platter will be available from the 20th of December and contains 2 half Canadian lobsters, king prawns, Madagascan prawns, dressed Cromer crabs and a lemon mayonnaise. Celebrate the Eve with style and far from the madding crowd. It will be priced at £ 26.00.
This superb British Trimmed Beef Forerib Joint served with goose fat roast potatoes and glazed vegetable will be available from the 20th of December. Priced at £ 15.32 per kg will be another fantastic option for your Christmas lunch.
A mouthwatering Best Scottish Salmon, Prawn and Orkney Crab En Croute is already available in store. With its creamy filling seasoned with dill and lemon and wrapped in a buttery puff pastry, this dish will keep you satisfied and light at the same time in order to enjoy a full meal with all the trimmings. Priced at £ 15.00 it is suitable for freezing .
Stock up at Morrisons for Chocolate Chips Panettone or Fruit Panettone. You can find them at the Bakery counter and I can assure you, they are delicious. Keep them near a source of heath so that they will be softer and the flavours will be really delectable.
It is a great centrepiece this Best Snowman Fruited Christmas Cake infused with brandy and cognac, spicy with fruit peels and hand decorated with a full icing . This heavenly cake is already available at Morrisons and priced at £ 10.00 you've got the desserts sorted.
You have to be quick for this Best Chocolate Christmas Tree cake. It will be available from the 23rd of December but it's worth the wait. Layers of chocolate and a beautiful decor makes this cake something new to be seen at the Christmas table. Head to Morrisons or go online at www.groceries.morrisons.com to order your shopping with no fuss at all.

(images courtesy of Morrisons)