Friday, 18 August 2017

Tidbits from my Pantry- Homeware

Last few weeks I have had the opportunity to attend many events where brands showcase their products. I love attending these homeware shows as you get a chance to see new products that are being launched on the market, together with some old time classics.
I am sharing below a round up of some really lovely samples, I have had the privilege to test out and use in the simplyfood kitchens.

1. Gourmet Gadgetry Vintage Tea Party Mini Toasted Sandwich Maker has non-stick baking plates to make 8 cute little toasted sandwiches ideal for a tea party.

2. Tala Salt and Pepper Mills are adorable novelty mills that are perfect for the dinner table.

3. Tower Veggie Peeler and Brush is very convenient as it is placed on your finger whilst peeling vegetables. The accompanied brush is handy for cleaning vegetables and fruit.

4. T and G Crush Grind Spice Mill crushes and grinds all types of spices and herbs. It has an adjustable setting for coarse and fine.

5. Addis Pop and Store is a collapsible container that can be used to keep your food fresh.

6. Sparq Home Hammered finish Copper Mule Mug is a really lovely size for serving chilled drinks in a stylish way.

7. Sistema Bento Lunch Box comes complete with compartments, food tray and a yogurt pot makes taking packed lunches very convenient keeping various foods separated.

8. JWP Good 2 Go Portion Perfect is a storage container collapses down for easy storage and helps to maintain healthy portion sizes for a balanced diet.

9. Mason Cash Wooden Spoon is a 3 in 1 utensil which stirs and blends, measures and scrapes.

10. Victorinox swiss made handheld grater with a curved silicone handle and safety cover to protect the blades.

11. Viners spoon, fork and knife set.

12. Kitchen Aid Silicone Spatula is perfect for all baking tasks.

13. Bobble make water better filter bottle is a reusable bottle that filters water as you drink. This is perfect for on the go in the car to work or at the gym.

14. Zoku Shooter Ice Moulds create edible ice glasses perfect for serving desserts or cold shots.

15. Jersey Pottery sardine run designed Jug is a cute little jug for milk or cream and would look perfect on any table.

16. Aladdin Bistro To-Go Hybrid Bottle keeps drinks cool for 12+ hours and ice for 16+ hours which is perfect for picnics.

17. Kilner Jar is a perfect little glass jar that is ideal for serving mini drinks.

18. Kuhn Rikon Scourer is a stay clean silicone scrubber that is hygienic and dishwasher safe.

19. Any Sharp is a kitchen knife sharpener with a powerful suction grip securing the sharpener to the table or flat surface and is good for straight or serrated blades.

I am totally thrilled with all these new items. They are going to be very useful in and around my home, especially the storage and cooking utensils which you can never have too many off.

I would like to thank all the brands that are featured in this post who have gifted me these wonderful products to try.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Lobster Apron Review and Giveaway.

There is one place in my house where I spend the most time and that is in the Kitchen. I am always trying out new recipes for the blog, but more cooking means more cleaning and one thing I find I always get wrong is that I get stains on my cloths from splatters or just touching my hands on my clothes and marking them. Indian spices such as turmeric are very healthy but the colour stains terribly. Keeping this in mind, I make sure I always wear an apron whilst cooking. I go through so many aprons each year that I have to keep replacing them frequently. I hate to wear discoloured aprons so always keep clean fresh ones in the drawer. When Lobster Homeware asked me if I would like to receive one of their new Lobster Aprons I jumped at the chance. You can never have too many aprons in the home.

My Lobster Apron arrived in a lovely white fabric bag. When I opened it, I found the cutest apron ever, white heavy duty cotton with red  lobster pattern all over it. It has a button adjustment on the neck strap so that it can fit anyone and it also has sturdy ties for the waist. However the best thing about this apron is that it is no ordinary apron. Integrated into it, is a pocket on the bib for holding a mobile phone. No more losing the mobile phone when you need it for that quick photo whilst cooking.

There are two detachable oven gloves attached to the apron, so that you always have gloves at hand when you need to lift something hot. The gloves can also be used as heat mats.This is brilliant innovation as I can never find gloves nearby when I need them and often use a tea towel which is not really safe. The apron has two loops on the waist line for holding tea towels so I am less likely to wipe my hands on the apron itself!! The apron also has two large pockets, I love this as it allows me to have a pen and pad ready at hand when I am developing recipes to jot down.

The apron is well thought out and perfect for a foodie like me as I have everything I need at hand within the apron. The apron retails at £ 35.00 and you can purchase it from Lobster Homeware. It may sound pricey but it is fantastic quality, and has so many more extras incorporated in it that it's worth it.

The aprons are also available in different designs. Lobster Homeware also support the ssafa-The armed forces charity. For every camouflage barbecue apron, they will make a small donation to the charity. That is so noble of the company, don't you think???

*** I was sent an apron to test out in my kitchen, all views and opinions shared are my own as are the photos.

As always I love my readers to try out products I use in my kitchen. Lobster Homeware have been very generous and have offered to send one simplyfood reader an apron.

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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Bakar Khani ~ Sweet Puff Pastry Biscuits from Pakistan

I love cookery books, not only do I like cooking from them but I like reading them from cover to cover. I admire the beautiful photos and imagine the author creating all the wonderful dishes in far away places. I own many recipe books but my most favorite ones are those that tell a story and take you back to the roots.

Mountain Berries & Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani is one book that I totally fell in love with even before I had opened the front page. I loved the beautiful bold orange and pink cover with a paisley intricate flowery design. I immediately wanted to touch the book and peer at what it contained.

When I  looked at the book, I can say I was totally thrilled with the content. The book has recipes that are inspired from the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea. The book has authentic Pakistani sweet and dessert recipes using amazing spices and Eastern flavours. The desserts are very lavish and beautifully captured.

Included in the book is a chapter explaining all the authentic ingredients used in the recipes which is extremely helpful for those who are creating the recipes for the first time and are new to the ingredients. The book takes you on a sweet and aromatic journey through mouth watering desserts.

There are so many recipes that I want to make from the book such as the Pakistani Jalebis which are crunchy spirals dipped in a sugar syrup. The Qawwami Seviyan, a roasted vermicelli topped with nuts and Bakar Khani which is a sweet puff pastry biscuit. I finally started with the Bakar Khani, you can see my recreation below which was made with a few minor changes from the original recipe .

print recipe

Bakar Khani (Sweet Puff Pastry Biscuits)
Sweet Puff Pastry Biscuits with nuts and poppy seeds
  • 1 sheet (320 g) Ready to Roll Puff Pastry
  • 2 tablespoons Caster Sugar
  • 60 g Pistachio, almonds and cashew nuts (coarsely ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon Milk
  • 2 tablespoons Butter (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon Poppy Seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F 2. In bowl add the nuts, cardamom powder and sugar and mix together well.3. On a lightly floured surface unroll the puff pastry and smooth it out.4. Brush the pastry with the melted butter and sprinkle the chopped nut mixture on top.5. Roll up the pastry from the long side and make a swiss roll shape.Secure the end by pressing the pastry down with your finger, so that the biscuits don't unravel whilst cooking.6. Cut the pastry swiss roll into 1 cm thick rounds and place them on a grease baking tray.7. Using your fingers apply pressure to the outer edges of the discs to flatten them slightly to thin them so that when baking the centre of the biscuit rises to form a dome shape.8. Brush the biscuits with some milk using a brush and sprinkle them with poppy seeds. 9. Bake in a pre heated oven for 18-20 minutes, until the biscuits are a light golden brown in colour. 
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 16

The original recipe did not have nuts in it , that was my personal addition. The Bakar Khani, turned out delicious and they were really flaky and delicious served with a cup of strong Arabic coffee. You can store them in an airtight container for up to a week.

I totally loved the book and would highly recommend it to anyone who likes Eastern desserts.

Book Details :
Mountain Berries & Desert Spice Book  by Sumayya Usmani
Retails  £20.00

My score for the book: 14/15 this is a high score but the book is definitely worthy of it.

Content -5/5
Recipe Instructions-4/5

 I was sent a copy of the book to review as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Dinner at Est India Restaurant ~ London Bridge

The city of London is food lovers paradise, during the day its a place where you see office workers, commuters and tourists, rushing around carrying on with their daily business. By night it becomes a haven for entertainment, dining and socialising. As the offices close the side streets become alive with workers congregating outside pubs and eateries enjoy a drink or two whilst music lovers dance the night away at the many night clubs.

London bridge is one of those places, where there are many restaurants, pubs, coffee shops and bars nestled in around the side streets. It is lively and bustling with atmosphere. Est India Restaurant is an Indian restaurant not for from London Bridge Station. My friend Heidi and I decided to drop in for a bite to eat one summers evening whilst we were in London.

The restaurant is ideal to drop in for a meal, its decor is simple with wooden tables, no table cloths and cutlery in a pot on the tables cafe style. There is a fully stocked bar and outside seating too. The menu has most of the regular Indian dishes found in any Indian restaurant. We started with a platter of poppadoms and some condiments and chilled salted Lassi (yoghurt drink with cumin and salt), the Lassis can be ordered as mango too.

For starters Heidi and I shared the Paneer Tikki an Indian cheese marinated in spices, stuffed with raisin and a pan seared and some Vegetable Samosas. The samosas were delicious as was the paneer which was flavoured well but it was a little dry.

For the main course Heidi chose the Chicken Tikka Masala and I opted for the Saag Aloo (spinach with potatoes), the manger also recommended Kadai Paneer an additional side dish. We also ordered Pilau Rice and Raita to accompany. There were a selection of breads to order on the menu, but we wanted to keep room for dessert and so did not order any.

Heidi's verdict on the Chicken Tikka was that it was succulent and moist and not too hot so she definitely gave it the thumbs up. The vegetarian option of the Saag Aloo was fairly mild for my taste buds, however the mangers recommendation of the Kadai Paneer was absolutely wonderful. It was beautifully cooked in a lovely rich gravy with peppers and onions. The portion sizes were huge and plentiful.

To finish off our meal we ordered the Mango sorbet and a Pistachio Kulfi. The sorbet was very refreshing, the Kulfi looked like it had been taken out of a wrapper, it was presented on a stick, not how I would have expected a dessert to be served in a restaurant.

My thoughts on the restaurant were that its decor is a little dated and the place is great for a quick bite to eat, so if you want fine dining this is not the place. The initial service after we were seated was a little slow, however once the manager arrived we were given lots of attention and the conversation with him flowed. We learnt a lot about how the paneer is made within the restaurant kitchen and also got to know a little more history of the place. Our overall experience of the restaurant was pleasant and next time I am in London bridge I would probably go and try the lunch menu.

My Score: 10/15
Ambiance 3/5
Service 3.5/5
Food 3.5/5

** I was a guest at Est India restaurant and all the views expressed in this post are of my own as are the pictures. I was not asked to write a positive review.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Chickpea Tikkis (cakes) and Saffron Soul book review.

It has been ages since I added a cook book to my collection. Saffron Soul by Mira Manek, is more like a journal than a vegetarian cook book, exploring her family's traditional recipes that she has grown up with. I like this book as it shows the author's personality and heritage which is similar to my own and it brings back my childhood memories of learning to cook with my mother and grandmother.

The book features many recipes shared by her family, together with new fusion recipes that have been inspired and adapted with ingredients of this day and age. The recipes are easy to follow and beautifully illustrated. Other than the recipes, I loved reading  the snippets of personal family history the author has shared together with her family photos.

There are many recipes in the book that I have grown up with and I can see similarities, however I also loved the fusion recipes such as Warm curried courgetti salad with maple chillied seeds, Quinoa Bhel on chilled watermelon and the Spelt and quinoa rotis.

Book Details :
Saffron Soul by Mira Manek
ISBN 978-1-911127-18-5
Retails  £20.00

My score for the book: 14/15

Content -5/5
Recipe Instructions-4

 **I was sent a copy of the book to review as always all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

I have chosen to make the Chickpea tikkis, which are savoury cakes from the book. I have recreated the recipe with a few minor changes.

print recipe

Chickpea Tikkis
Chickpea pattis cooked with spices and herbs and shallow fried.
  • 240 g Pre boiled white chickpeas.
  • 2 Spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 Red chilli finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Roasted peanuts ground coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh coriander finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon Corn flower
  • 1 tablespoon Water
  • 1 tablespoon Sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 3 tablespoons for shallow frying Sunflower oil
  • For serving-Hummus, pitta bread, salad and lemon wedges 

1. Put the chick peas in a large bowl and coarsely mash them with a potato masher.2. In a frying pan add 1 tablespoon of oil and when its hot add the spring onions and red chilli and saute for 2 minutes.3. Add the salt, chilli power, turmeric powder, coarsely ground peanuts and the mashed chickpeas. Mix together and cook for another 2-3 minutes until all the spices infuse.4. Take the mixture off the heat and allow to reach room temperature. Once cooled add the chopped coriander, lemon juice, corn flower and water so that you can bind the mixture into small golf sized balls.5. Flatten the balls into pattis and roll them in sesame seeds. Place on tray and chill f pattis or 30 minutes.6. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and shallow fry the pattis in small batches until golden brown on both sides, remove from pan and drain on kitchen paper.7. To serve toast some pitta bread and spread the inside with hummus, add salad and chick pea pattis and serve with lemon wedges.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10 Tikkis

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