29 October 2013

The Ladies Book of Baking ~ a Review

Years ago I read in Jeffrey Steingarten’s book “The Man who Ate Everything" about food writers being inundated with free stuff to review and thought “That’s the life for me” but when I started blogging and writing I had completely forgotten that possible side effect. Occasionally, however, I am sent something to review such as the excellent vanilla products I wrote about recently and now this very pretty book!

The Ladies Book of Baking ~ a collection of Elegant Recipes 




I think by its cover which, I don’t know if you can tell in the photo, has lots of glitter that it is certainly aimed at Ladies and not the David Walliams kind!

It is a hardback book with over 50 recipes for the sort of stuff that makes you say …

“Well I shouldn’t but … go on then!”

At first to be frank, and I think one must be when reviewing something, I thought the book was a bit girly for me and also that I probably knew it all!  As I was doing my initial flick, however, I apparently made various approving squeaks and such like which made my real man comment that I seemed to like it after all and I do!

The recipes that immediately appealed to me include …
~   Honey Walnut & Ricotta Pies   ~  Warm Spiced Apple Cupcakes  ~
~   Pear & Chocolate Squares  ~  Molten Chocolate Cupcakes  ~
~   Salted Caramel Pies   ~
… but then I always like something a little bit different.  There are plenty of classics too such as Melting Moments, Viennese Fingers, Chocolate Éclairs and Madeleines.



In addition to recipes and tempting photos by Sian Irvine and Henry Sparrow the book includes useful hints and guidelines such as how to make the perfect cup of tea, ideas and suggestions for a successful party, presentation ideas and templates for invitations, gift tags, etc.

If you enjoy entertaining (or pigging out) I think you will love everything in the book and it would make an ideal Christmas present for anyone who like to bake and entertain. The only problem with it is the arm of my chair is now covered with glitter which I find quite attractive but my real man doesn’t!

The Ladies Book of Baking was compiled by the Love Food Editors at Parragon Books, published in May of this year and is available from Amazon here.  Find out more about Love Food and download goodies here  


In other news …

You may recall that recently I received the unusual compliment of being No. 11 in Cisions Top Ten UK Food Bloggers List.  Well now they have interviewed me for their Speedy Spotlight feature which you can read here.  I’m afraid I look rather serious in the photo as it was all I could lay my hands on at the time. It was taken in the South of France by a friend and I used her copy.  This is how I look when not stuffing my face although, of course, it doesn’t do me justice!

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27 October 2013

A Rare Accolade & an Ice Cream Session


Firstly, permit me to blow my own trumpet if you will.

Cision, “the leading global provider of PR services including media monitoring, media list building, press release distribution, and media analysis”, have ranked Sudden Lunch! to be … wait for it:

No. 11 in Food Blogs UK Top 10 !!!

I’m so flattered and, in a strange way, being No. 11 makes it extra special!  

Now on to the very serious business of this post ...

Ice Cream!

Yesterday I had a sudden ice cream sesh - at the end of October! I'm mad, me! 

It was inspired by a bag of cheap satsumas which I didn’t know what to do with. Then my real man brought home a few raspberries and I didn’t really know what to do with them either. So I decided to make a couple of ice creams which turned out to be three.

Ice cream is a great way to use up leftover bits and pieces and I have a way of making it that is very quick, easy, uber adaptable and doesn't need a machine or any mashing as it freezes. I have used this method as a professional chef for years and years (and years) and have written an eBook “Luscious Ice Creams without a Machine” which gives the genius no-churn recipe, why it works tweaks and tricks when incorporating different ingredients and how to adjust the texture accordingly, over 100 lovely recipes plus recipes for ancillaries such as syrups, sauces, biccies, cones etc. and some serving suggestions. 


Click here if you fancy investing in a copy, it’s a helluva lot cheaper than an ice cream machine or even buying ice cream from the shops.

I’m not a meany, however, here is the basic recipe direct from “Luscious Ice Creams …”, prepare to be unimpressed, at first!  

Directly from the book ...

Genius Ice Cream Recipe 

500ml double cream - not the extra thick kind
200g condensed milk

~   Whisk the cream till it is very thick and looks like the picture (below) and then stop.  If you go too far it will become butter!
~   Fold in the condensed milk.
~   Freeze.

If that's all you do you get an ice cream that is not exactly soft scoop but which does have a good texture once it’s been out of the freezer a few minutes. It has a pretty blah taste. I can sense your excitement from here but there’s even more, I urge you to read on. ”



As I say there are all sorts of ways to make this ice cream really lush, some even include alcohol!

Firstly I prepared the fruits:

Caramelised Satsumas

I wanted to separate the flesh from all pith and membrane and at first this was tricky and time consuming so I said a rude word and gave up. It was at this point that the solution appeared.  Cut the fruit in half through its equator, squeeze the juice into a bowl and then scrape all the un-squozen bits of fruit still attached to the shell into another bowl.

For six satsumas I gently melted a tablespoon of caster sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cooked till a lovely red-gold caramel colour. As soon as this happened I stirred in the satsuma juice. (When adding liquid to caramel there is a lot of boiling and bubbling and the caramel hardens into lumps in the liquid. Don’t panic, just stir over a low heat till the caramel melts back into the juice.) When all was smooth I added the little bits of flesh I had set aside and cooked everything together for a minute or two before setting aside to cool completely.

Raspberry Coulis

This is just posh for raspberry sauce. 

~   Put  the berries in a small non-reactive pan with a spoonful of sugar.
~   Put over a low heat and stirring occasionally till they have burst and mushed down.
~   Strain through a nylon sieve into a bowl pushing on the seeds to get out as much juice as possible, then set aside to cool. 

When everything was cold I mixed up a batch of my basic ice cream and divided it into two.  Into one half I folded a teaspoon of the fabulous Vanilla Bean Paste I wrote about a few days ago. I put the mixture into a plastic container and then drizzled over the raspberry coulis and swirled it slightly. Scooping when serving marbles it through more so no need to go to too much bother!

I was just about to fold the caramelised satsumas and juices into the other half when I had an idea so set aside a few tablespoons. 

To the mix I had set aside I folded in a spoonful of Bacon Jam! I shall be writing more about this wonderful stuff soon but for now let me just say that it is excellent in ice cream  although it does need a little work in the texture. I have some ideas.

I froze my ice creams and then we had some fun tasting them.

Caramelised Satsuma Ice Cream 



When I served this I had another idea based on one I had about 15 years ago.  At that time I served a Seafood Mixed Grill and grilled halved lemons, cut side down to serve with it; pretty, impressive and delicious.  So today I decided to do something similar with the remaining Satsuma I had saved to make the picture look pretty – I cut it in half and cooked it cut side down in a little butter and sugar till it was as you see in the picture. We drizzled the hot juice over the ice cream.  I’m so glad I can cook!

Raspberry Ripple


Bacon Jam Ice Cream!

My real man was too scared to try this - lucky for me.









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25 October 2013

Lovely, Lovely Vanilla including a Wonderful Thing!



Years ago my sister Maggie and I, with our then-husbands, owned a beachside hotel in Cornwall which had a sweetie shop.  In this shop we sold 20 flavours of ice cream which was pretty gobsmacking in the 1980s.

Although they were all popular, we generally found that ladies favoured Maple Walnut whilst gentlemen preferred the manly taste of Rum and Raisin.  Children wanted Mint-Choc-Chip and teenagers, if you could get them to say anything, mumbled 'umm – Strawberry'.  Senior citizens usually wanted 'plain', by which they meant vanilla, and told us their preference in tones of irritated amazement as if it was obvious that ice cream should be 'plain vanilla'.  What was the world coming to?

The thing is; vanilla isn't plain at all, is it?  A vanilla pod is the seed pod from a vanilla orchid, mainly vanilla planifolia from Central America, Mexico and Madagascar but occasionally other strains from Tahiti and Hawaii.  It is, therefore, very exotic and sexy and is also delicious. 

It is exciting, therefore, that Taylor and Colledge “One of the most trusted names in vanilla for over a century.” sell a range of wonderful vanilla products and it is even more exciting that they have sent me some to try.  Lucky, lucky me!

Their range, which is available from Waitrose, Ocado and Amazon comprises

Vanilla Beans – lovely, flexible pods the way they should be; dark, slightly oily looking, fragrant and a good length (apparently 6” is perfect! – I’m saying nothing).



There are two important things you need to know about using vanilla pods:

1.      The beans contain thousands of tiny black seeds which can easily be scraped from the pod by slitting it lengthwise carefully with a sharp knife and scraping the seeds into whatever you are making.

2.      If you use beans to flavour custard or cream or similar, whether or not you have scraped out the seeds, Do Not Throw It Away - rinse, and set aside somewhere airy till completely dry then store in a container of sugar to make vanilla sugar if you are that sort of a person or in a bottle of rum or brandy if you are that sort of person.  

If you make vanilla sugar then you can use it to make Vanilla Toast which is like Cinnamon Toast only even better!  Speaking of vanilla sugar ...

Vanilla Dusting Sugar – this is, of course, the perfect sprinkly finish for cream cakes, pancakes, French Toast and so on.  Taylor and Colledge’s dusting sugar has a slight golden hue because of the vanilla crushed into it.



It is also good mixed into soft butter and used to make Vanilla Toast (like Cinnamon Toast only even better!).

Vanilla Extract – now this is very important, so concentrate - no pun intended!.  Vanilla essence is almost always not vanilla extract; it is a chemically produced replica.  I say “almost always” because occasionally it is a very intense concentrated extract.  Anyway don’t risk it – use extract. I like to add a drip or two to my coffee, which I take black, whether or not I've already added a nip of Brandy!


Vanilla Paste – this is a useful product if you want vanilla seed specks in your dish, it is a kind of thick and syrupy extract. I am quite prone to making ice cream (and have even written a little eBook on the matter here ~ 100+ Luscious Ice Creams without a Machine) and to get the lovely heady flavour I usually steep a vanilla pod in cream before proceeding with the recipe.  Vanilla paste does the job faster, better and adds the little black specks of seeds which prove the dish is authentic!



… and a Really Wonderful Thing!!!

Vanilla Grinder – what a brilliant idea.  I am still playing with this but it is fab on soft fruits, the froth on cappuccino or hot chocolate, ice cream, trifles, mousse, the list is a long one.


Vanilla does not come cheap in fact it is the second most expensive spice in the world (saffron being the first) but a little goes a long way and it so enhances a dish that I think you will consider it money well spent if you add some to your store cupboard – it sure can help a leftover out!

Warning!








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21 October 2013

10 Tips (and then some!) to help you reduce food waste and save money

Well Food Waste has hit the fan again, hasn't it!

Tesco has revealed it generated almost 30,000 tonnes of food waste in the first six months of 2013 in a report by the BBC and in accordance with their Every Little Helps Slogan they have issued an infographic about not wasting food at home which gives some useful info …




… but not enough by a long thingy!  I am not putting them down, really I’m not, but there is so very much more to be said!

The infographic is quite difficult to read even if you go to the link so I am going to help you with it!


“The Average UK family wastes £700 on food each year. “

Well not us.  I doubt we waste 700p on food each year. I have always been inspired when cooking by a little bit of this and a little bit of that and rarely waste a scrap.  

It is because of this tendency that I wrote my recently published book and as, apparently, October is National Self Promotion Month don’t blame me for mentioning "The Leftovers Handbook" several times in this post! 

The Leftovers Handbook (there I go!) is 45% off at Amazon at the moment (and 48% off the kindle version) so for an investment of £7.16 (£6.80) you could potentially save £700 and not only that – my ideas are not just to save money they are also creative and delicious.  The book tackles food waste and the waste of good eating opportunities!

“Onions - Don’t keep Onions in the fridge.  Store them in a brown paper bag in a cool and dark place.”




I have more to add to this including don’t store them with potatoes as they make each other go off! 


See here for The Best Way to Cook Onions, IMHO, and The Leftovers Handbook for more info on storage plus ideas of what to do with leftovers, obviously!






“Bread - 1/3 of the baguettes we buy go to waste.  Turn them into breadcrumbs and store them in the freezer.”


Correct!  At least 19 more ideas for leftover bread in my book!  Here’s a recipe for Fried Bread Curry (which believe me is delicious) I posted a while back just to give a taster. 








“Peppers - Leave the seeds and stalks connected and keep a half used pepper in the fridge.  Alternatively chop it up and freeze.”


I agree with that!  Of course there are also sorts of dishes that benefit from a little bit of leftover pepper; tomato soups and salads, pizza, sandwiches etc.









“Bagged Salad.  On average we waste half of what we buy.  Once opened store in an airtight container with a piece of tissue to make it last longer.” 


That’s true too but I’d be a bit more specific about the tissue paper – I use kitchen roll, very lightly dampen it and lay it over the leaves.  Having said that I usually keep lettuce in a loose plastic bag or, even better, buy the living leaves – they grow back.  






“Milk - Make a smoothie with your frozen fruit to use up milk.  Or make a cheese sauce for leftover veg and freeze.”


Also how about add to mashed potato or let it go off and make cheese?





“Apples - We waste nearly 20% of the apples we buy.  Store in the fridge in original packaging or lightly tied bag.”

Well I would open the bag, get some air to them and store the in a cool dark cupboard or similar, making sure they are all in good condition (“one bad apple spoils the whole barrel”) and not touching.  

I don’t think I’ve ever wasted an apple in my life  – there’s so many ways to use them up including the Cornish Apple Cribbly and Devonshire Apple Dappy recipes mentioned here  together with info on making apple sauce and 15 ways to use apple sauce.  There are 18 more ideas for leftover apples in The Leftovers Handbook.

“Cucumber - Make your cucumber last by placing the stalk end in a mall container of water and standing in the fridge door.”



I don’t know if this works or not so have no comment. 

If you have no immediate plans for your cucumber and don’t want it to go off then try the recipe here for Lightly Pickled Cucumber. 



“Mince Beef - Freeze your leftover lasagne or shepherd’s pie.”

Again, true enough.  If, however, you haven’t make a lasagne or Shepherd’s pie there are many other things you can do with minced beef, leftover or not – pastas, pies, sarnies, pizza, chilli etc. and so on.




“Grapes - Around 20% of the grapes we buy are not eaten.  Freeze leftover grapes and use them as ice cubes “

There are ten more good ideas for using up grapes in The Leftovers Handbook!


“Bananas - 1 in 10 bananas we buy goes to waste. Try adding to a vegetable curry or whizz and freeze for low calorie ice cream.”


Just for starters here’s a link for some more info on making  Famous One Ingredient Banana Ice Cream plus some other info, and there are 15 or more ideas in, you guessed it, The Leftovers Handbook.




Browse around Sudden Lunch for more ideas and, as I have hinted above, there is a great deal more information on avoiding food waste in here.  


 
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14 October 2013

A Glut of Apples


bramley-apples

I have a slight glut of apples which is particularly edifying when one considers that I don’t have an apple tree! I do however have a generous friend. The apples she’s given me are Bramleys; lovely cooking apples with the useful advantage of being self-puréeing, so an obvious thing to do with too many is make …

Apple Sauce

This is so easy I don’t think it can actually be called a recipe.

~  Peel and slice Bramley apples.
~  Taste a bit and then sweeten with as much sugar as you see fit. If you’ve no idea then add just a little and adjust with more sugar when the apples are cooked!
~  Put into a large pan with a tablespoon of water. This helps them get started but that’s all you need; too much and the sauce will be runny.
~  Put over a medium heat, cover and cook, stirring every few minutes till you have apple sauce! Taste and stir more sugar as necessary. 

If you have made loads freeze some, it freezes really well and ice cubes are a good idea so that you can thaw just what you need, or add a cube or two to soups and sauces.


15 Uses for “leftover” Apple Sauce (please click to tweet)

1.   Freeze as ice lollies!
3.   Stir into pork gravy or add to pork braises or stews.
4.   Fold into mashed potato to serve with ham, pork or  bacon.
5.   Add to pumpkin or other squash soups – delicious!
6.   Spread into bacon, ham or pork sarnies.
7.   Spread on the toast before the cheese when making  Cheese on Toast.
8.   Mix into mayonnaise – this makes a great dressing for  coleslaw.
9.   Add to braised red cabbage.
10. Make little apple tarts or turnovers with leftover pastry scraps.
11.  Use instead of jam to fill a Vicky Sponge, scones and  similar.
12.  Make an Apple Crumble, Cobbler or Sponge - recipes  here.
13.  Apple Crumble Sundae – layer up apple sauce and  leftover crumble (or Apple Crumble) with ice cream.
14.  Stir into yogurt or porridge for breakfast.
15.  Dollop into rice pudding
16.  “They do say” that fat in baked goods can be replaced  by apple sauce but I’ve not tried it myself. There is  plenty of info on the web though so have yourself a  look!

Non-Bramley Type Apples

There are, of course, a lot of these around now as well so I’d just like to mention a lovely recipe I posted earlier.

Devonshire Apple Dappy

When I posted this I had the most visits to my blog ever and was very confused. Read here for the recipe and here for surprising (to me at least) explanation of its popularity
And this which I don’t think I've mentioned here before and which my sister and I concocted years and years ago when we were baby chefs …


apple-dappy-recipes-suzy-bowler

Cornish Apple Cribbly

This is a superb way of using up leftover bread and apples at the same time. 

~  Peel and dice an apple and toss with sugar to coat.
~  Have ready about the same quantity of similarly diced stale or leftover bread (and in this case white bread is probably best).
~  Melt a knob of butter and cook the sugary apple in it till it is softening and browning and oozing lovely caramelly juices.
~  Use a slotted to spoon to remove the apple from the pan and set aside.
~  Add the diced bread to the pan and cook till the juices have been absorbed and the bread is turning crisp and golden.
~  Return the apple, toss all together and serve immediately with ice cream or cream, preferably of the clotted persuasion.


apple-cribbly-recipe-suzy-bowler

great-ideas-for-leftovers
Several of these ideas are included in The Leftovers Handbook.  If these are just some of the suggestions I can think of for Bramley apples don't you wonder what ideas I have for the other 450 potential leftovers?

A couple of Reviews ...

“Helps you create tasty loveliness from almost every possible leftover foodstuff you could think of (and possibly some that you couldn't....)”
 

“Cookery books are really very boring, but this one definitely isn't!”  

Always bear in mind, however …

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the Universe.”
Carl Sagan




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