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.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Recipe: Linguine with Crayfish and Cream Sauce

This recipe is made using cupboard's staples like long life cream which is very popular in Italy but I haven't seen anything similar in the supermarkets' shelves. When you've got a packet of long life cream you can rustle up anything and it will be delicious, especially when you've got  unexpected guests.
The ingredients for this recipe are a packet of Barilla pasta Linguine that can be easily found at any supermarket, a packet of Granarolo long life cream. You can find this at any deli, or if you plan to make this sauce you can use fresh cream from the supermarket. I've found mine in a shop down 459 Green Lanes in Haringay where you can find tons of Italian products at a very good prices. A can of cherry tomatoes Dorini from La Torrente , or if you like it you can use fresh cherry tomatoes . A packet of Lyons Seafood Fishermans Crayfish tails which I've found them in Tesco, extra virgin olive oil from Tamia, but any extra virgin olive oil will do, rock salt, garlic and chillies.
Put plenty of water to boil and add a handful of rock salt. I prefer this kind of salt to the fine one because it is easier to dose the quantity.
In a wok put a drizzle of  extra virgin olive oil, two cloves of garlic and two chillies, and wait for the garlic to be brown without burning it.
Add the crayfish tails and leave them to gain flavour.
After add the cherry tomatoes, I've found this incredible brand, La Torrente that sells cherry tomatoes in cans so ready to be used, but you can always use fresh cherry tomatoes after putting them in boiling water  to soften them up. Cook for at least 20 minutes.

Finally you add the long life or fresh cream and mix everything.
Seasoned with salt according to your taste, leave it on the hob for  further 5 minutes and then the sauce is ready.
When the water is boiling put the Linguine without breaking them and with a two pronged fork stir them and check the cooking time which is indicated on the box. Barilla indicates 8 minutes cooking time for its Linguine. Drain them after 7 minutes because they are going to be put in the wok.
Stir the linguine with a wooden spoon covering them with the sauce and cook them for  1 minute to gain flavour.
Served them with a crisp and chilled white wine and remember, no cheese at all, leave the Parmesan  in the fridge.

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