Thursday, 12 October 2017

Cherry Tomato Risotto in Lakeland Pressure Cooker

My childhood memories stem back to recollection of my mother cooking in the kitchen. She did not have any electrical gadgets and all the grinding, crushing and pulsing was done in the pestle and mortar or on a large stone. She would grate all her vegetables using a hand held grater there was no kitchen aid on hand or blenders either. The only gadget I ever saw that she had was her trusted pressure cooker. I would hear it hissing and steaming as she cooked her pulses and grain in it every day.

Pressure cookers if you are not used to them can appear rather frightening to use but actually they are not. Some care and attention and safety rules are required such as never use a pressure cooker with out any liquid in it, ensure the seals are not damaged or broken, the gasket is not damaged and the valves are not blocked. Lastly its important not to overfill a pressure cooker but close the lid properly before putting it on the heat. Once the cooking process is compete ensure that the steam release vent is opened and all the steam has escaped before opening. These few instructions will ensure a very happy relationship with your pressure cooker.

I recently needed to upgrade my pressure cooker which was getting old and I could not get the correct spare parts for it, so keeping safety in mind I sourced a new pressure cooker. My new pressure cooker is the  Sitra Pro Graphalogie 8L pressure cooker from Lakeland. It comes complete with silicon steam basket and a lifting tool. The pressure cooker can be operated with one hand, has a quick glance cooking times and built in safety features. I like the cooker as its easy to clean, has good heat distribution, can be used on gas cooker or hob and it preserves flavour and nutrients. It cuts cooking time of pulses by 60 percent. This is important to me as I cook with a lot of pulses since I am a vegetarian. The Pressure cooker retails at £109.00 and its available from Lakeland website and in store too.

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Cherry Tomato Risotto
Creamy and delicious risotto cook with simple Italian flavours.
  • 250 g Cherry Tomatoes
  • 250 g Risotto Rice
  • 500 ml Passatta
  • 250 ml Water
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium white onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon White Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chilli flakes (Optional)
  • 60 g Parmesan Cheese (Optional)

1. In the pressure cooker add the oil and wait for it to heat up. Once hot add onions and garlic and saute the onions until pink and translucent.
2. Add the rice and then add the pasatta, water, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and mix together. Bring the liquid to boil.Add the tomatoes, I like to keep them whole.3. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and press the regulator down and into the cook position.(This is indicated by the pressure cooker symbol) and cook the rice for 18 minutes on medium heat 4. Release the pressure from the cooker and stir the risotto, it should be quite wet and the rice should be cooked but a l dente. At this point if the mixture appears dry add a little bit more water. The risotto should be rich and creamy in texture.The rice grains should be holding shape.5. Stir in the oregano and transfer the risotto to serving bowls, add grated Parmesan cheese on top if desired.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 4

NB- This recipe can be made on the stove top instead of using the pressure cooker but the cooking time will be longer.

***I was sent the Sitra Pro Graphalogie  8L pressure cooker from Lakeland to test it out in my kitchen, all views and opinions are my own as are the photographs.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Vegetable Kebabs in the Von Shef Cook Robot Digital Air Fryer.

My family love vegetable kebabs and I make them often but I do find that shallow frying them still means that they are unhealthy and I restrict them to once a month only. This is not the case anymore, this month we have had vegetable kebabs every week thanks to my new Von Shef Cook Robot Digital Air Fryer.

This amazing air fryer has many functions, it can grill, stir fry, steam and stew. It comes with an easy to use digital timer and  removable cooking pan with handles, removable stirring arm, steaming rack and utensil kit. The advantage of having the removable pan and stirring paddle makes it convenient to wash. Once the central removable stirring paddle is removed it makes  room to place the steaming rack  in the pan.

You can see how I made my delicious and healthy Vegetable Kebabs with very little oil in the Von Shef Cook Robot Digital Air Fryer.

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Vegetarian Kebabs
Delicious vegetarian kebabs cooked in the actifry, perfect served in a wrap with some crisp salad and dips.
  • 4 Medium boiled Potatoes mashed
  • 1 Medium Carrot peeled and grated
  • 60 g Frozen Green Peas
  • 60 g Frozen Sweet Corn
  • 1 Small white onion finely chopped
  • 60 g White Bread Crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon White Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil for cooking
  • 2 tablespoons milk
1. In a shallow glass dish add the carrots, peas and sweet corn. Place the cooking rack inside the air fryer and fill water in the pan to the water fill line. Place the vegetables dish onto the rack and steam the veg for 4 minutes on the steam mode .2. In a frying pan add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and saute the onions until translucent, add the mashed potato, salt, chilli flakes,white pepper, garam masala, lemon juice and mix well.3. Add the cooked vegetables to the potato mixture and cook all together.4. Take the mixture off the heat and add half the bread crumbs.5. Leave the mixture to cool, once its cooled pinch lime sized balls of the mixture and shape them into mini sausage shapes.

6. Dip each sausage shape into milk and roll it in the remaining bread crumbs.
7. Repeat for all the mixture. Chill the kebabs for half an hour or longer in the fridge.8. Brush the kebabs with the oil using a pastry brush and place them in the actifry pan 9. Place the pan into the actifry and set on the stirfry setting. 10. Cook the kebabs until golden brown (approx 15 minutes) turning them intermittently to ensure even cooking.11. Remove the cooked kebabs from the air fryer and serve with wraps, salad and dip.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 18

We love eating our vegetable kebabs wrapped in warm tortilla wraps topped with lots of green salad and topped with a fiery chilli sauce.

The kebabs can also be made as party appetisers, as they serve well as finger foods. Although the kebabs are super delicious when warm they taste equally good cold and we often use the left overs as sandwich fillings with houmous. They also freeze really well.

This post is in collaboration with Von Shef, who sent me the Von Shef Cook Robot Digital Air Fryer to test in the simplyfood kitchens. 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Homemade Organic Condensed Milk and a visit to Cockhaise Organic Farm

Being a vegetarian, it is really important to me knowing where the foods I consume are coming from and their quality. So when I was invited by Arla Foods UK to visit Arla's cooperative Cockhaise Organic Farm in Haywards Heath, West Sussex to find out about Organic farming, I did not need much persuasion to agree to the visit.

So what do we understand when we read it's Organic?

During my visit at the farm, I have learnt that organic means “Working with nature, providing a high standard of animal welfare, no use of artificial fertilisers and totally GM free.”

To be classified as free range, the cows at Cockhaise Farm graze outdoors in the grass and clover fields, which are free of artificial pesticide and herbicides. The grass in the fields also have many species of herbs such as chicory, plaintain, yarrow, burnett, red clover, sweet clover and rye grass. The farmers rely on crop rotation and careful selection of crop varieties and cultivation to avoid the use of pesticides.

The cows are milked twice daily and the milk is graded for its quality according to the Organic Standards. This ensures that the Arla Organic Free Range Milk is of the highest standard. It is available in most supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons, OCADO and Nisa stores.

Today I am going to make my own condensed milk with Arla Organic Free Range Milk. I use a lot of it in my Indian Sweets and often baking but I have never been able to find an organic variety of condensed milk. The recipe is simple to make and tastes amazing.

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Homemade Organic Condensed Milk
Creamy and rich homemade organic condensed milk, full of flavour and delicious.

  • 600 ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
  • 150 g Fairtrade Organic granulated cane Sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Organic Butter (unsalted)

1. In a heavy bottom, pan add the milk, butter and sugar and bring the milk to a simmer.2. Once all the sugar has melted, simmer on a steady low heat for 35-40 minutes, stirring intermittently.3. The milk will reduce in quantity and thicken. It is ready when it starts to coat the back of a spoon.4.Turn off the heat and pour the condensed milk into a sterile jar and leave to cool. The condensed milk will thicken more when it gets cold.5. Store in the fridge.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 jar

This post is in collaboration with Arla Foods UK who invited me to visit Cockhaise Farm to learn about the production of Arla Organic Free Range Milk. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions and photographs are my own and may not be reproduced in any form without my written permission.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Pizza Making at Pizza Express

Meeting friends and catching up over a nice pizza is something that is always fun. It's even more enjoyable if you are all thrown into a room with lots of flour, pizza dough and toppings and you get to create your own pizza. This is exactly what I did at Pizza Express in Fulham Road, when group of us attended the Pizza Express Pizza making party.

The Pizza Express has recently been revamped, it has a Pizziaolo kitchen space and new bar area.
The restaurant has an exciting new d├ęcor which has new Jacobean oak stained timber wall panelling, elegant pendant lighting and comfortable banquette, booth and settle seating. The restaurant decor which is rich in colour and patterns is inspired by the artwork of De Morgan and Burchell. On warmer evenings you can dine outside as it also has a patio outside seating area under an awning that is kitted out with furniture, planters, lighting and heaters.

Before we were covered in a white cloud of flour we enjoyed some drinks, nibbles and delicious dough balls.We then ventured into the party room and watched a demonstration on how to pat, toss and roll the perfect pizza base from our chef John.

Once the demonstration was over the pizza making fun began as we practiced with some dough. There were some truly memorable moments as each of us tried to toss our pizza in the air and catch it. I am really pleased that I did win the Best Tosser Award for my pizza tossing skills. Not everyone managed to catch their pizza and there were lots of pizza bases on the floor. It was good that they were only practice pieces and we were given fresh dough to create the pizza we were going to eat.

The practice run over we set about to make our pizzas.The dough was gently patted into the pans and topped with lots of delicious toppings and mozzarella cheese. Once we had all finished our pizza masterpieces, we enjoyed more dough balls and drinks whilst our creations were baked in the oven to perfection ready for us to devour.

There was of course the option of dessert too if you can manage it. The dessert menu had some lovely desserts and drinks on offer. I finished off my meal with a cup of latte and a mini lemon tart.

The pizza making party is great for team building, corporate events and birthday parties too. A perfect way to cook and eat together and get messy. If you would like to book an adult pizza party do check out this link.

I was invited as a guest to Pizza Express pizza making party, all the opinions shared are of my experience as are all the pictures.,

Monday, 25 September 2017

Knead to Know Bread making class -Jamie Oliver Cookery School

I enjoy cooking and baking but I have not really got into bread making yet. I make bread rolls and sometimes pizza base but that is as far as my bread making skills take me. I have always wanted to create beautiful loaves of bread so when I had a chance to try out a bread making class hosted by Hotpoint and Currys PC World at the Jamie Oliver Cookery school, I did not need much persuasion to say yes.

The Jamie Oliver Cookery school is part of the Jamie Oliver restaurant and it is located in The Westfield shopping centre in Shepherds Bush. The cookery school is bright and airy and is fully kitted with all the newest kitchen equipment and Hotpoint ovens. Our lesson started with a brief introduction to the Hotpoint ovens that we were going to use in the kitchens. As all new electrical equipment, oven too have come along way. The new Hotpoint ovens have a multi flow technology that distributes heat evenly so everything in the oven will cook evenly, this is an important factor in baking especially bread.

Next we watched a demonstration by the resident chef to make the bread dough for the bread rolls and Focaccia bread.We learnt the key skills of bread making such as knocking, kneading, proving and shaping the dough. These skills are of utmost importance in creating the perfect loaf.

I  realised whilst attempting to make my own bread rolls and Focaccia bread that baking bread is actually very messy but at the same time extremely therapeutic and a great way to unwind. The best bit is that the kitchen smells heavenly and the taste of hot bread straight out of the oven is absolutely delicious.

I was rather pleased with my bread rolls and Focaccia bread, although I did learn that if you add too many pumpkin seeds they can burn!!!!I am rather proud at my plaiting skills demonstrated in the picture below.

As the saying goes "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" this we did as we enjoyed our hot freshly baked bread rolls, served with a lovely cheese fondue and roasted pumpkin soup made at Jamie Oliver's Kitchen.

The whole bread making session was excellent and I have definitely come home with much more confidence at attempting to bake bread. If you are keen to learn how to bake bread or just need to boost your confidence than you can book classes at the Jamie Oliver school. You can also check out the recipes for the Rosemary Focaccio and the Roasted Pumpkin soup at the Currys Tech Talk Blog

I was invited to the bread making class by Currys PC World  and Hotpoint. All the views expressed in this post are my own as are all the photos.

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