Category Archives: Sweet Things

My my, my American style pumpkin pie…

It started with a pair of pumpkins. My boyfriend arrived home with the suggestion of a carving challenge, but I fancied a cooking challenge!

Pumpkins

Pair of Pumpkins

If you think about it, there aren’t many obvious things to make with a pumpkin, other than soup or pumpkin pie. I searched online and through cook books for inspiration but decided since I hadn’t ever made pumpkin pie that I’d give it a go.

Pumpkin

The Victim

I searched through various pumpkin pie recipes and loosely based it on Felicity Cloake’s Pumpkin Pie Recipe. I added bourbon instead of rum, allspice instead of ground cloves (I couldn’t be bothered to grind up my whole cloves!) and also made my pastry really easily in my Magimix.

I started by roasting the pumpkin, which was different to the BBC Good Food Pumpkin Pie Recipe which calls for boiling. After roasting, the pumpkin is peeled, whizzed up to a puree then strained over a sieve to remove the liquid (there was loads!).

Roasting Pumpkin

Roasting Pumpkin

I hadn’t made pastry myself for years so thought it would be nice to give it a go. I overfilled the pastry a little and had excess too, so filled my little pumpkin coloured Le Crueset pots and made a couple of baby pies too.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pie & Mini Pie

Sadly, I didn’t quite cook the pastry enough on the blind bake, so created myself a bit of a soggy bottom! The pie was delicious though, and was the perfect end to a delicious American Feast! It wasn’t too sweet, had a lovely autumnal feel to it and a perfect amount of spice. Despite the soggy bottom, the pastry was deliciously crisp round the edges.

Pumpkin Pie Slice

Pumpkin Pie Slice

Look out for my next post which will include Tom Kerridge’s amazing fried chicken, the star of the feast! What will you be making with pumpkin this Autumn? Let me know if you have any recipe ideas!

I’ve started blogging at www.fabulousfoodfinds.co.uk so if you want the most up to date posts and news, please sign up to posts by email, or follow there. Thanks!

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Macarons and More – Tim Kinnaird’s Beautiful Shop

You might remember the brilliant Tim Kinnaird from MasterChef a few years back? The one with Tim, Alex and Dhruv Baker in the final three and Dhruv ended up winning? Well, after the show, Tim went on to develop his own patisserie business, Macarons & More and recently realised his dream by opening his very own shop, by the same name, in the Royal Arcade, right in the centre of the fine city of Norwich.

Shop Front

Macarons

In addition to the fabulous selection of macarons you will find the ‘more’ which certainly exceeds expectations! You’ll find flavoured marshmallows, meringues, pastries, bread, amazing brownies, hot chocolate, nut brittle and lots more! You can also buy a fantastic coffee or tea to drink in or take away to compliment your sweet goods.

Marshmallows

I dare you to resist the gold and silver brownies…

Brownies

Artisan bread comes from a brilliant local baker.

Breads

The shop displays and windows are beautiful, inspirational and made to make your mouth water!

Macarons and More Window

Favours

Window Display

My selection of macarons were the perfect chewy texture, full of flavour and gorgeous to look at. After much deliberation I went for peanut butter and jam which is a classic combination but utterly perfect in a macaron, salted caramel which was buttery, creamy and slightly salty and cappuccino which had a great coffee kick to it.

Macarons

If you can’t get yourself to Norwich, you can buy online or find Tim’s Macarons & More at the BBC Good Food Show Winter 2013, handily overlooking the MasterChef theatre!

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BBC Good Food Show Summer 2013 Highlights

I’ve just about recovered from the BBC Good Food Show Summer – as ever it was an awesome show, with well over 100,000 food and gardening lovers coming through the doors! I’m still buzzing with inspiration after meeting so many fantastic producers, chefs, bloggers and food lovers during the show. Here are a few of my highlights, I’m afraid I was having too much fun to take many photos so you will have to use your imagination for some of it!

Backstage snacking

As part of the show team I get backstage access so on Emily Cloke‘s birthday we took some Ooo Meringues behind the Belling stage and ate them with the lovely Simon Diss… then along came Rachel Allen who is even more beautiful and lovely in real life as she looks on the TV!

Katy Truss and Emily Cloke

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The Dessert Deli Cookbook – Food Find of the Week

My latest food find, which I know really isn’t a food, is Laura Amos’s eagerly anticipated debut recipe book – The Dessert Deli Cook Book. Finally it is on sale and fans of her desserts will now be able to recreate her delicious delights at home. I’m rather excited about being mentioned in the credits – Laura is a great friend and I loved brainstorming ideas, recipes and formats for the book over roast dinners and afternoon ciders!

From her signature chocolate mousse with honeycomb to her fabulous flapjacks there is a great selection of desserts, cakes, treats and a special Christmas section too! Laura gives great tips on ingredients, equipment and tweaking recipes to make them your own. I love the photography which helps to guide on how your finished recipe should look and watch out, it will certainly make your mouth water!

You can either buy directly from Laura at one of her markets (follow her on twitter to find our where she is), get a signed copy from the publishers , find in good book shops, or get a bargain price online from Amazon! I will be certainly be buying a few of these for Christmas presents this year.

Have you got your hands on The Dessert Deli Cook Book yet? If so, have you tried any of the recipes? I can’t wait to get baking!

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BBC Good Food Show Scotland 2012 – My Highlights

Last weekend I was up in Glasgow for the BBC Good Food Show Scotland. I think most will agree it was one of the best shows yet with a great celebrity chef line up, including the lovely Hairy Bikers, and an even better selection of speciality, artisan and passionate producers from across Scotland, the British Isles and the world!

It’s our London show next week (9th -11th at Olympia) so I’m super busy getting ready for that… but here is a quick run down of my highlights in pictures. Just click on the post title if you can’t see the images!

The show started with a bang as Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry opened the show – after the ribbon was cut thousands of food lovers burst into the show to start their fabulous food experience! It’s a great sight to see, and always gives me goosebumps as the show officially comes to life.

Borders Biscuits were asking visitors to decide whether their new Christmas spiced biscuit should be put into mainstream production. We put our deciding token into the ‘Oh Goodness they’re yummy’ box!

The lovely Kate from Gower Cottage dishing out her amazing brownies…

Whole Foods Market Glasgow were sampling and selling sourdough loaves, giant meringues and Prosecco!

Have you tried Boozeberries liqueurs? Fresh berries inside gorgeous Irish artisan fruit liqueurs… I’m going to be buying some at the London Show for adding something special to sparkling wine at Christmas.

A quick break for delicious fresh cream filled meringues and scones from the Dancing Goat!

Mo and her Cookie Dough! Morag was one of our bursary winners and did a brilliant job of making the most of the opportunity to appear at the show!

Mr Puddledub Buffalo giving out advice on how to cook his fresh buffalo meat.

A quick stop backstage led me to bump into the Hairy Bikers – Si and Dave look great after their dieting and I must say Si looked like a rock star with his skinny jeans!

What is your Christmas meat of choice? A Taste of Galloway were sampling their succulent goose, which is a lovely luxurious way to celebrate at Christmas.

The Champagne Bar was a welcome addition to the show…

We paid a visit to have a well deserved glass of champagne at the end of the day on Saturday – cheers!

We even had a shark!

Only a lucky few of us get to go up and work at our Scotland Show – so the team back in Teddington were delighted that we brought back a range of flavours from the wonderful Ochil Fudge Pantry!

 

I think my highest highlight was walking Mary Berry around the Producers’ Village before the show opened, she was so enthusiastic and interested in the producers and produce!

And now its on to the next one – London is next week, and then our flagship show at the NEC is on the 28th Nov – 2nd Dec. See you there?!

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Pre-Show Madness

I can’t believe our Scotland Show opens in just three days! Three weeks later it will be our London Show at Olympia and then the biggie at the NEC at the end of November. I always try to get organised before the shows but they just seem to sneak up on me.

I wanted to take a breather to tell you whats going on at the shows that I’m excited about…

Great British Bake Off – sessions on the Super Theatres at Scotland and London and its very own theatre at the Winter NEC Show! Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood at all shows, winner at London and NEC and finalists and others at the NEC!!! Will definitely be hanging out backstage to snaffle some tasters!

Good Food Champions – brand new area of the shows that I introduced based on my desire to highlight some of the best producers at the show. From oils to ethical veal, liqueurs to scotch eggs, smoked fish to fresh venison you are sure to find something to get your mouth-watering!

Producers Bursary Award Winners – all of them small, outstanding producers and brand new to the BBC Good Food Shows so go and show them your support. Look out for fresh cookie dough in Scotland, crystalized edible fresh flowers and foraged ingredients in Birmingham and natural seaweed seasonings in London. Take a look at our tasting day here.

World Cheese Awards – nearly 3000 cheeses all out on display is an incredible sight. I always make sure I’m hanging around this area of the show when they announce the winners (Wednesday afternoon). Two years ago Philip from the Cornish Cheese Company won supreme champion and it brought tears to my eyes seeing him win. It was also pretty fun watching him get through bottles of champagne in the bar that evening!

BBC Food and Farming Awards – held at the show on the Wednesday afternoon, I’m making time to watch the awards ceremony this year as the shortlist of nominations is so exciting! You can add a theatre seat to your booking if you have tickets for the Wednesday.

Right, back to work… hope to see you at the shows and please just ask if you want to know more about any of the exciting stuff going on at the shows!

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Introducing my Food Find of the Week

I have decided to introduce a new element to this blog, a weekly post dedicated to my ‘Food Find of the Week’. I regularly meet wonderful producers, retailers and food lovers, and find new products, books, cool shops and places to eat and drink –  it seems a shame not to share my favourites here on my blog, and by going weekly I have no excuses but to post!

I speak to a mix of well established, popular producers that you may already know and people who may just be in the development stages of their business – I love asking questions about why they came to do what they do, why their products are so great and whether there is anything new in the pipeline.

Look out for my ‘Food Find of the Week’ on Wednesday!

Oh, and just in case you thought any differently, please be assured that I will only write about things I genuinely love/ like/ am excited about on this blog.

 

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Making Marmalade

I had the intention of making marmalade this Seville season, but hadn’t got round to making time to do it – so when I came across a handy supermarket fixture selling both Seville oranges and preserving sugar I mindlessly added the ingredients to my basket. My holiday got nearer and nearer as the oranges sat there in the kitchen… I was running out of time before they would start to spoil. The day before my trip to Chamonix was supposed to be used for last-minute packing, exchanging pounds to euros and getting an early night ready for our 2am start… to my family’s despair, I thought it a good idea to add marmalade making to our schedule.


I had never made marmalade before so I ‘asked Delia’, to whom I turn to when I need to find a classic, traditional recipe – she didn’t disappoint and the marmalade recipe in her Complete Cookery Course was easy to follow and seemed to deliver great results too. Delia has kindly added this recipe to her website for all to follow if they would like. Below are a few pictures, tips and changes to the original recipe that I made…

I squeezed the oranges over a sieve to ensure no pips got through as I added the juice to the water. This made for an easy way to collect the pips and extra pith needed to add separately to the saucepan.

I had a few handy muslin bags designed for mulled wine spices in my cupboard so used one of these instead of a sheet of muslin and string.

I found the shredding of the oranges particularly tiresome and even ended up with a blister on my finger from all the chopping! I  kept looking over at my Magimix wondering if there was a shredding attachment but in my haste just kept chopping by hand. According to Delia the shreds are supposed to be ‘thinnish’. My shreds were rather misshapen – some thin, some thick, some chunks, some shreds and it worried me. Once boiled down you couldn’t really notice the different sizes though, so no need to worry about uniform shreds.

By now it was nearly dinner time, and the holiday packing still wasn’t complete. The fruit must be simmered for two hours or so, so I distracted the family while I waited for the shreds to soften… once done we could go out for dinner.

After the two hours of simmering it should be time to add the sugar. At this point I took a two-hour pub break and returned to the simmered fruit later, full of scampi and warm with wine. I added the sugar at this stage (around 300g of granulated sugar was replaced with icing sugar as I found myself short) and stirred. After 15 minutes of fast boiling it wasn’t crinkling on my chilled saucer so I continued to boil for a further 10 minutes, and then a further 5 to get to what seemed to be a ‘set’.

I carefully decanted into jars with a jug (annoyingly, the special silicone funnel I bought didn’t fit the jar openings).

Ta daaaaa… my lovely jars of marmalade, ready with minutes to spare before bed time.

I am writing this post after the holiday and must say that homemade marmalade on buttered toast, with tea, was the perfect welcome home after a very tiring, but fun, week away in the snow. If you haven’t made your own marmalade before, it is very rewarding and tastes so much better than the shop bought kind… just make sure you give yourself a good 4-5 hours or so to make it properly!

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Baking at River Cottage HQ

One of my 30th Birthday gifts (from my lovely sister) was a baking day at the River Cottage. We stayed in Axminster for the weekend, had a wonderful meal at the River Cottage Canteen, and made the most of being by the seaside by including a fossil hunting expedition. The baking day was full on, with a great mix of learning, watching, making, socialising and lots of eating!

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Pigging out at The Pigs

Yesterday, my Dad treated my boyfriend and I to lunch at The Pigs in Edgefield, Norfolk. We all loved it and concluded that it could possibly be the perfect pub.  I love the cook book library out the back, being able to see into the kitchen (and when looking into the kitchen I could see them making their own bread) and mostly because you can bring in your home-grown/ caught/ shot produce and exchange it for beer and food credits! We had the full works – starting with ‘iffits’ (Norfolk tapas), hearty mains, warming desserts all washed down with local beer and ice-cold white wine.

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Great Haymarket Exhibitions Bake Off!

On Wednesday Haymarket Exhibitions paid tribute to the final of the Great British Bake Off by holding their very own Great Haymarket Exhibitions Bake Off!

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Afternoon Tea at The Langham

Afternoon tea is a wonderful thing, if you haven’t been for a proper afternoon tea then I would highly recommend it. Prices range from £15 – £45 depending on where you go, but a great website to find one to suit your budget is www.afternoontea.co.uk. I have been to a few different places, including the Ritz, but the very best I found was at The Langham. Although expensive, it was a delightful experience, and the food was amazing.

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Spoilt Rotten

I’ve been spoilt rotten so far, and it’s not even my birthday yet! I turn 30 this Sunday which is rather scary. I’m sure I must have lost a couple of years somewhere…

My first surprise was this beautiful birthday cake made by the lovely Laura at The Dessert Deli. It was chocolate, Cointreau and raspberry and was absolutely delicious.

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Retro Campers and a White Horse

Last week I made my annual trip back home to North Norfolk for the Cromer Carnival. For a whole week the town celebrates with a parade full of fancy floats, a beer tent, a fancy dress ball, karaoke, bingo, awesome fireworks, street food and we even get a visit from the Red Arrows! Cromer gets pretty busy for the week but it’s definitely worth a visit – my favourite part is sitting in the sunken gardens on the cliff top with cider and hog roast, waiting for the parade to arrive. After the parade we walk up along the cliff top (picture below) to the carnival field, where the beer tent and band awaits!

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Producer Highlights – BBC Good Food at Westfield

We had a lovely selection of producers at  BBC Good Food at Westfield London – visitors could choose from cheese, chocolate, fine wine, curry sauce, apple crisps, rapeseed oil, sausages, cakes, chutney, olives… I could go on. Instead I will take you on a brief tour of the producers in pictures!

The stands – ready and waiting for the shopping centre to open.

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Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival – Best Bits

Although the restaurants at Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival were awesome, I realised while writing this second post that what I liked most about it were the other bits! A mini farmers market, Mussel Men, giant fruit on forks, the WI, sparkly brownies, music, crumpets and strumpets!

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Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival – My Pick of the Restaurants

I was delighted to have the chance to visit Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival down on Clapham Common on Saturday. I took my best friend and we had a wonderful day in the sun, filled with amazing food, bubbly drinks and great entertainment and music.

There is so much to report from the Big Feastival that I’m splitting the day into two posts, starting first with the restaurants. We made the most of the opportunity to try both the local, and the well-known restaurants by sampling our way through their taster plates…

Popcorn Shrimp by Redhook was cooked to order, so was hot, crispy, juicy and full of flavour. I took an extra one home for my boyfriend to try as it was so good!

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The Holiday of Half a Dozen Birthday Celebrations

Apologies for my lack of posts recently, I have been in sunny Florida, celebrating my little brother Harry’s 21st Birthday. He has lived there since he was just 2 years old, when I also lived out there, but for various reasons he stayed and I returned to my beloved England. My Mum, Sister and I, along with all our partners arranged a 2 week holiday out there to celebrate this important birthday with him, and of course to be part of his first legal round of drinks!

This could be a very long blog post if I tried to cover the whole holiday, so I will dedicate this one to the most important part – my brother and his birthday celebrations. We managed to get about 7 different groups of serving staff to bring him cake and sing Happy Birthday to him in their restaurants over the holiday, and gained a couple of birthday hats too!

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Easter Treats

Easter is a great opportunity to eat, drink and be merry – I have been back in North Norfolk (West Runton to be precise) staying with my sister and have certainly made the most of it this year. So, while I sip on a cup of tea and nibble on the ear of my chocolate bunny, I will recount some of the highlights…

My sister had been warned by her local council that she needed to clear her allotment and start using it, which is fair enough due to there being such a high demand for allotments these days. She has been focusing on fitting her new kitchen, so the allotment has taken a back seat over the past year. So Good Friday was spent turning her allotment from this:

To this wonderful, tidy allotment ready for planting fruit and vegetables for the year ahead:

Its a lovely place to be, with the sun so warm and view out over the North Sea. Obviously there were a few hot cross buns here and there and scampi and chips as a treat for lunch over in our local pub garden. I love the feeling of being really hungry after exhausting work – the food always seems to taste better too.

On Saturday my boyfriend and brother and law went fly fishing for trout. The lake was nearby to a lovely farm shop (Groveland) so I picked up some lovely meat from their butchery for a BBQ and spent a small fortune on bits and pieces from the farm shop too. The catch of the day was a 2.5 lb rainbow trout, which we put on the BBQ stuffed with lemon and onions.

While waiting for the boys to return my sister and I had some wonderful Norfolk asparagus, bought fresh from the farm shop, which we dry fried, sprinkled with sea salt and dipped into melted butter.

I rewarded the boys with some aptly named ‘Sunshiny Beer’ from the Norfolk Square Brewery, which was refreshing after their long day in the sun. I don’t like beer so much, so didn’t try it, but my boyfriend thought it tasted very malty, sweet with a slight hint of honey.

On Easter Sunday we invited over my Grandparents for a roast which we had planned to eat outside in the sun. Unfortunately the cruel North Sea decided to cast its cold foggy shadow over West Runton so we were forced inside, but it was lovely all the same. We had a huge roast chicken that my sister had bought recently at the Aylsham farmers market, with fresh vegetables, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce and some seriously good gravy.

I was on dessert duty and had been inspired by Raymond Blanc and his kitchen secrets to make meringues, so I made a huge Pavlova, some lime and lemon curd with the leftover yolks, whipped up some cream and then topped it with fresh raspberries. I must say it did impress and really tasted delicious.

The research and preparations…

I adapted a lemon curd recipe from an american website, as it was the first I saw that used the yolks of the eggs only. I had a mixture of lemons and limes so replaced some of the lemon zest and juice with limes. It was easy to make and really tart and creamy.

I used Raymond Blanc’s recipe for the Pavlova, which I think worked really well.

I whipped up some double cream and filled the hollow I had created in the centre of the meringue, crisscrossed the lemon and lime curd across the top (this could look neater if done using a piping bag) and then placed a raspberry onto each of the crosses. I was really pleased with the finished the result, and think it makes an easy (especially if you buy the meringue and curd!) and impressive summery dessert.

This last bit didn’t last too long!

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Pup-cakes and Paw-fitterols

The world has officially gone barking mad. Of course its nice when people can spoil their pets, but the new dog deli in Harrods seems a little ridiculous. I was amazed as I took a touristy tour of Harrods Pet Kingdom, and surprised to find that some of the doggy treats actually made me feel a little hungry.

There was a beautiful display of, at first glance, what looked like delicious cakes, pastries, cupcakes and chocolates but as you look closer, you realise that they are for dogs! I couldn’t believe there were people out there firstly wanting this kind of stuff, and secondly, being able to afford to spend £4 on a mock profiterole for an animal!!

Pup-cakes – will you choose liver or chicken and herbs?!

 

So the next thing that amazed me was this stack of paw-fitterols…

I have no idea what they are made of and really wonder what they taste like – meaty?! So with all these treats to indulge, how does the Harrods dog manage to keep their weight down? Well they head to the doggy gym to hit the treadmill!! In case your wondering, thats Beethoven (doggy film) playing on the TV…

Well, they do say you can buy anything in Harrods!

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