Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Optimum 9400 mini jug and a Mango Ginger Smoothie Halloween Special


For the last two years I have been the proud owner of the Optimum 9400 blender and unlike any other device its the most used gadget in my kitchen. It will blast any ingredient and blitz it to a delicious purée in moments, furthermore it crushes ice like it cutting through butter, it chops, grates, grinds and whips and you can use it with wet or dry ingredients in it without buying a separate jug. It also makes instant icecreams for the summer and warm soups for the winter so you can make use of  it the whole year around. The blender is totally a lifesaver in the kitchen as it has so many different uses. For a more detailed review of this blender do check my Optimum 9400 post here.

You may be wondering why I am writing another post about this blender? There are two reasons one is that I adore is but the second reason is that when I first got the Optimum 9400 it came with one tall jug only. I am now really excited that Froothie has introduced a mini jug which is perfect when I want to grind a small amount of spice mixture or only want to make a smoothie for one.

The mini jug works in the same way as a large jug  and the good news is that currently the Optimum 9400 is on special Autumn half price offer at just £299  and you will also get the mini jug free if you take advantage of this offer. You can also get Free Delivery when you place your order here  Just use this code 1572 FREE AMBASSADOR DELIVERY in the comments box when making your purchase, the delivery charge will then be refunded.





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Mango and Ginger Smoothie
A delicious blend of mango carrot and apple with a hint of ginger makes this smoothie refreshing and delicious.
Ingredients:
  • 1 large Mango peeled, stoned and cut into chunks.
  • 1 large Carrot topped and tailed and cut into chunks(no need to peel)
  • 1 Cox's apple cored and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 inch of Ginger peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • Juice of half a lemon and 50 ml water

Method:
1. Add all the ingredients into the Optimum 9400 jug and blend for 1 minute.2. Pour into serving glasses and serve immediately.
Details
Prep time: Blend time: 1 Total time: Yield: serves 2

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Honey Afternoon Tea at St Ermin's Hotel London




St Ermins Hotel is in the heart of London, a short walking distance from St James's Park Station. Set in an iconic location in central London, close to Buckingham Palace, the hotel is truly grand in decor and look. It is built upon the site of a 15th century chapel dedicated to St. Ermin. The hotel boasts beautiful sweeping staircases, alcoves filled with lovely sofas and books so that you can sit and enjoy a cup of tea and a book or a quiet drink with friends at the bar.


Amongst other facilities there is a bar, terrace, grill and a library with a tea lounge which serves the most beautiful Honey themed afternoon. At St Ermin's  on the 3rd floor you will also find their own Bee and Bee hotel where you can view safely behind glass doors 350,000 bees living in special Hexagonal shaped suites.

The honey afternoon tea is inspired by the bees and its nice to know that for every Honey Afternoon tea purchased in October a donation of £1.00 will go to wards the BBKA to support their work with honey bees. Further more you also get to adopt your own bee and get an adoption certificate too.


I was really lucky to be invited to St Ermins with my two blogger friends Heidi and Manjiri to sample the tea. The hotel was able to cater for our dietary needs by providing a classic afternoon tea and also a gluten free tea and a vegetarian option too. Be warned this post will make you super hungry!!!!


We started with bottomless prosecco, well my friends did whilst I sipped on my freshly squeezed orange juice. Next came the tea menu there were lots of beautiful tea options but being a true Indian  nothing beats masala tea so I opted for that.


The waitress brought our afternoon tea on a beautiful three tiered stand, each layer was designated to our individual dietary needs. We enjoyed an array of mouthwatering sandwiches such as goats cheese with apricot chutney and bee pollen, cottage cheese with carrots, sultanas, shallots and honey truffle sauce, grilled mushroom with artichoke tapenade on wholemeal bread, honey and roasted squash with rocket pesto on rye bread and lastly my favorite the red pepper hummus with caramelised onion on white bread.


Next came the sweet treats, orange and yoghurt mousse pots, chocolate and espresso cups, jasmine cake with lemon frosting. The mousse was velvety and smooth and the jasmine cake was so delectable and aromatic that I could have easily eaten a couple more.


There were more sweet treats to follow, but before we devoured them we needed a break so we chatted over endless top ups of prosecco and orange juice.


Next came the white chocolate and honey macaroon, matcha sponge with yuzu and honey creme mousseline and blackberry gel and a delicious vanilla tart with a gold lustre raspberry.


With more pots of fresh tea we thought our afternoon tea feast was over how wrong we were, the waitress arrived with a basket of freshly baked scones.


The melt in the mouth scones served with dollops of fresh cream and strawberry jam were light and airy and perfectly scrumptious.


We most certainly enjoyed our delectable spread and surprisingly the afternoon tea turned into a four hour affair. We were having so much fun that we almost forgot to visit the Bees on the third floor.


Although the evening was closing in we did get a couple of pictures to remind us of the amazing honey themed tea we had enjoyed and also to adopt our own Bee. I have named my bee Buzzbee and I am honoured to receive my adoption certificate and a bottle of St Ermin's honey as a gift.


The Honey afternoon tea is £29.00 per person and you can upgrade it to get unlimited prosecco for £35.00 per person. Considering the grandeur of the hotel, the variety of the food and the location this afternoon tea offers great value for money.

I was a guest at St Ermin's Hotel, all views and opinions shared are my own as are all the photographs.



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.
Ingredients:
  • 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)

Method:
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.
Details
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.
Ingredients:
  • 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
Method:
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.
Details
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.



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

Method:
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.
Details
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.
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