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







Monday, 13 March 2017

maple&FITZ Healthy Caterer

I go to many press events and I always sample food offered during these visits. One  caterer that I've really enjoyed has been maple&FITZ a  restaurant specialised in healthy  take away salads, smoothies and juices, wraps and soups and everything for breakfast and a bakery section. I could taste few salads and I can say that  they should have 5 out of 5 stars.
They look beautiful and they are delicious. All the salads can be bought in different sizes from small to large and you can add up proteins like chicken or salmon, or poached eggs as well as tofu, halloumi and avocado. All the salads have got a code so that you know if there is no gluten or if they are dairy free or vegan.
The Julius Caesar salad is gluten free and the ingredients are a punch of healthy greens. You can add the chicken if you like or keep it lighter. Shredded kale, romaine, toasted buckwheat, mangetout, cabbage, toasted pumpkin and sunflowers seeds are the stars for this salad that easily makes you reach the goal of 5 a days. Pecorino cheese is optional and the dressing is a delicious Dijon-lemon tahini dressing.
The Mexican Standoff salad will appeal Vegans and who has got a dairy free diet. Bulgur wheat, avocado, black beans, cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers, red onion give a beautiful colour to this salad and it is well complemented with a coriander, lime and pesto dressing. All the salads are seasonal so what I'm showing now are the favourite salads, there will be more offerings  when new ingredients will be available.
This Chicken is one of the Add-On Proteins on the menu. It is free range, marinated in tahini spiced garlic marinade and dusted with smoked paprika. You can add it to any salad in order to complement your meal. This chicken is gluten free and dairy free
I still dream of this scrumptious Salmon, baked to perfection with miso and mirin rice wine. This is another Add-On Protein that can be part of our healthy lunch and great for who is on a gluten free and dairy free diet. maple&FITZ is at  36A Berners Street with entrance in Mortimer Street W1T 3LY London or you can order a delivery through Deliveroo and they are available for bespoke catering in case of events or parties. Check them out  at www.mapleandfitz.com






Monday, 6 March 2017

HipChips in Soho

Everyone likes crisps and dips and HipChips at 49 Old Compton Street, Soho, W1D 6HL London does just that. Delicious hand made crisps from different kind of potatoes served in cardboard boxes with a choice of dips either savoury or sweet. I've been there the first time and now it is my favourite stop every time I am in the West End. The prices are very reasonable and the servings very generous.
The place has got a vintage style, with great music on the background and comfortable seatings. The perfect stop in between shopping, relaxing for a chat, a snack and something to drink either a soft drink or craft beer on tap or hot drinks.
These are just some of the potatoes used for crisps at HipChips. They are heritage varieties and depending on the season they can be different. Connoisseurs will recognise Highland Burgundy or Violetta or the Pink Fur Apple, just to name a few you can find on offer.
The mix of different varieties of potatoes makes  a very colourful display when served at the table. Also the box-tray allows for a clean and tidy take away as well.
The dips are absolutely delicious, a mix of sweet and sour concoction with hints of chilli or flavoured with lemongrass. I've tasted quite a few of the savoury dips and my favourite ones are the Beetroot and Lemongrass marmalade, the Veggie Ceviche and the Cheese Fondue with Caramelised Onion.
This is how you get your crisps and dips at HipChips. You can have a Small portion, which believe me is not small at all with two dips or a Medium with three dips and a Large with six dips. Also you can choose your crisps salted or sweet and then pair them with savoury dips or sweet like Chocolate Praline or with marshmallows or fruit.
These scrumptious dips are part of the sweet ones and you can see marshmallows, Nutella, peanut butter and marmalade. Next time you are in the West End stop at HipChips to relax and enjoy stylish crisps and dips. Check out its website at www.hipchips.com to know more about opening hours and to start planning a visit.









Sunday, 5 March 2017

Recipe: Castagnaccio aka Chestnut Cake

Castagnaccio is a typical cake from Tuscany and Latium regions. It is a flat cake with pine nuts and raisins. No milk or eggs and the chestnut flour has got no gluten, so perfect in case of allergies.Chestnut flour can be found at Italian delis. I've tried British chestnut flour but it was too coarse, the taste was fine but the texture of the cake wasn't right, so in case you find British chestnut flour you can put it in the mixer to make it fine and then using it for the cake.
The ingredients are the following: 500 grams of Chestnut Flour. This flour from Molino Spadoni is sold at Lina Stores in Soho 18 Brewer Street London and it can be bought online as well. Six spoonfuls of Vegetable Oil, I've used Tesco Sunflowers Oil, 600ml of cold Water, 100 grams of Pine Nuts and 100 grams of Raisins, both bough in Tesco.
Put the Raisins in warm water  to soften them up.
While the Raisins are in warm water, use this time to mix the Chestnut Flour in a bowl with no ridges inside, so that  no unmixed flour will remain, together with the 6 Spoonfuls of Vegetable Oil and the 600 ml of Water, which is just over a pint. I've used the Dualit Hand Mixer with the flat beaters. Mix until the compost is smooth and with no trace of flour.
Add the Pine Nuts and the Raisins drained and squeezed in order to remove the water
Mix with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon so that everything is well mixed and at the end add a pinch of salt.
Pre heath the oven at 200C or 6 and drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the baking tin. I've found the perfect size in this lovely ceramic tin at Asda. Spread the oil evenly at the bottom and the sides of the baking tin, you can use a brush for a better result. It will be easy to cut the cake once ready.
Put the compost in the baking tin and drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil on top. If you like you can as well  add some Rosemary needles on top. Put it in the oven at 200C or 6 for 35 minutes checking the cooking time using a toothpick inserted in the cake at the end of the 35 minutes. If the toothpick is dry and with no traces of cake the Castagnaccio is ready, if not leave it for few minutes more. The absence of baking powder gives you the opportunity to open the oven and check without compromise the aspect of the cake.
Done, leave it in the baking tin, it is delicious to eat warmish or cold. Great for afternoon tea or for breakfast.