All posts filed under: food

Essential Cuisine Stock Mix

A couple of years ago, I discovered a little trick that advanced my cooking from good to great: instead of salt, use stock mix in savoury dishes to deepen the flavour and remove the risk of over-salting food. I’ve tried quite a few stocks over the years, but none come close to those made by Essential Cuisine. Their range of gravies, glaces, jus and stocks are flavourful without being overly salty. I’ve tried many over the the years, but these three are my favourites. If you want to boost the flavour of just about any savoury dish, Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock, £14.95, is your secret weapon. It instantly adds depth and interest to a variety of foods and doesn’t need to be reconstituted for use. I like to sprinkle it onto chicken before roasting and I also add a bit to pasta sauce to enrich the flavour. If you’re from the southern US like I am, try it for cooking grits. The flavour is absolutely amazing. If you are vegetarian or enjoy cooking without meat …

New Year Resolutions

I don’t tend to make resolutions – especially in January.  It’s so dark and cold, and I don’t feel like making major life changes.  Instead, I try to make tiny changes that make a big difference to my health and well-being.  Some haven’t stuck, but a few have.  So here is a list of easy beauty resolutions for 2017.  These are the ones I’ve managed to keep over the years. Cleanse your face every night before you go to bed.  I can’t impress upon you how important this is.  Find a cleanser that works for you.  For me, it’s Emma Hardie’s Moringa Cleansing Balm.  I use it every evening without fail and my skin looks better for it.  Proper daily cleansing is something you can do that will make an immediate and visible difference to your skin. Eat fresh fruit every day.  It doesn’t have to be a chore and you will eventually come to miss it if you accidentally forget.  Because it was January when I started this, I ate a tangerine most days, and …

Gin Soaked

My friend and I had the good fortune of attending a gin tasting at a wine and spirits shop called Wood Winters.  We were treated to eight different gins and instructed how to sample and appreciate them.  Most were good, some were ok, and one was spectacular.  My friend and I both left with a bottle of Brockman’s, and I suspect it’ll be a permanent fixture in my drinks cabinet.

Homemade Toaster Strudel

Sometimes we get a hankering for toaster strudel, but it isn’t something we can find in the frozen food section at the grocery store.  Ready-made puff pastry to the rescue!  With this and a bit of jam (or curd, conserve, or fruit), we can make wonderful strudel ourselves.  In fact, we can make just about any variety – far more than the limited flavour variations available in the US. Betty Crocker vanilla frosting in a can is the closest thing we’ve found to the original topping.  Just microwave a couple of tablespoons of frosting for a few seconds and drizzle it over the baked pastries. Homemade Toaster Strudel: 1 package ready-made puff pastry 1 jar of jam or conserve (you won’t need all of it) 1 can of prepared vanilla frosting (again, you won’t need much of this) 1 egg, beaten Unroll the pastry and cut into 8 equal pieces.  Spoon about a tablespoon of jam onto one side of the cut pastry and then brush around the edges with the egg (see picture above). …

Homemade Pumpkin Syrup

  I know it’s a bit passé, but I enjoy the flavour of spiced pumpkin this time of year, especially pumpkin chai and pumpkin lattes.  After trying several shop-bought syrups and finding them artificial, I decided to try to make pumpkin syrup myself.  It took two attempts, and the syrup isn’t very thick, but it’s absolutely delicious in tea and coffee. Easy Pumpkin Syrup: 1 cup chopped fresh pumpkin (you can use tinned pumpkin if you like) 1 cup caster sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces 5 whole cloves 1 teaspoon ground ginger 3 cardamom pods, opened but not crushed 1.5 cups of water Boil the pumpkin and the spices in the water until the pumpkin falls apart – 30-45 minutes. Cool slightly and carefully strain through a clean cloth* so that all of the liquid is collected.  Return the liquid back to the pan with the caster and the brown sugar and boil for about 10 minutes.  Then decant your lovely syrup into a sterile jar.  It’ll keep in …

Bird in the Hand

Yesterday, I noticed the tell-tale sign of a chilly night – condensation on the windscreen of my car and inside the greenhouse.   So I decided not to chance losing the remainder of my tomato crop and harvested the lot.  We now have four jars of gorgeous green tomato pickle – ready to bring a bit of sunshine this winter, when we’ll need it most.  

Winding Down

Nights are drawing in and the morning air is noticeably cooler.  As much as I don’t want to admit it, summer is coming to an end.  While most of September is technically summer, autumn is arriving.  While I’m never in a hurry to see summer go, I do love the fall – I can wear tights to hide my glowing white legs, put an extra snuggly blanket on the bed, and pick blackberries until my fingers are stained purple. After a few years of dismal wild food hunting, it looks as though we’re going to have fantastic crops this year.  The raspberries and strawberries have been excellent, and lovely blackberries are on the way.  I’ve scoped out my foraging areas and plan to make as much jam and jelly as my jam cupboard will hold.