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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Deliciously Different….Borders Biscuits Christmas Box

Christmas is coming and there’s nothing quite like the festive season to be deliciously different with food and that’s exactly what Scottish company Borders Biscuits have called their Christmas box…..’Deliciously Different’ biscuit collection.

With food gifts becoming increasingly popular this new Christmas gift tin contains a fantastic selection of quality cookies and shortbread type biscuits and will be ideal as a gift on its own or as part of a gift basket.

The inspiration  for the Deliciously Different collection came from desserts and this gift box includes 6 melt in the mouth varieties. It is a great selection with biscuits to suit every taste and after eating these it is easy to see why Borders were awarded Cake and Biscuit Company of the year at this year’s Excellence Awards.

Reviewing these biscuits was as the name says,  so ‘Delicously Different’. From the lighter fresh taste of the Lemon Soufflé Cookie, the subtly tangy Chocolate and Orange Shortbread, Strawberry & Cream with lovely chewy pieces of strawberry and a creamy taste, to the rich Black Forest Cookies that really taste like Black Forrest Gateaux, Toffee Apple Crumbles with toffee that cracks in your mouth  and a lovely sugary toffee flavour and finally the Chocolate & Walnut Brownies that really do taste like fresh walnuts. Fantastic textures and flavours and all those different little desserts in a biscuit!

Very often the Christmas biscuit selection from the supermarkets and large manufacturers are presented in enticingly festive tins but fail to live up in flavour or quality. The Borders gift tin delivers what it says on the box….what you see is what you get, both in the taste and appearance of these truly great biscuits.

Borders biscuits have 31 varieties with 3 ranges, Classic, Outrageously Tasty and the featured Deliciously Different range. They are available in all the major supermarkets and the ‘Deliciously Different’ Christmas box is one of the items included in John Lewis festive hampers and is also available on line at Debenhams. The box retails at £7.50 and will make a most welcome Christmas ‘foodie’ present.

Capricorn Goats Cheese Challenge

Ethel the goats challenge

Although the food I cook is wholesome, healthy and tasty it could never be described in any way as ‘fine dining’ The test for me is when my boys or my guests clear their plates and say they enjoyed the food.

It was therefore with some trepidation that I accepted the invitation from Ethel the Goat at Capricorn Goats Cheese to take part in her Goats Cheese Challenge.

Ethel’s Invitation

To celebrate my love of cooking and my hometown, I’m launching a national search for goat ally scrumptious recipes using ingredients from Somerset.’

My cooking tends to be low fat as much as possible so I was pleased to read on the Capricorn Cheese website that goats cheese is lower in cholesterol than cows milk as it has smaller fat globules, it’s just as rich in calcium and excellent source of protein.

The Capricorn goats cheese has a lovely creamy texture and the more it matures the creamier it gets and it is the type of cheese I like to cook with rather than have it cold.

Given my liking for warm goats cheese my recipe therefore had to include cooked cheese.

Peppered goats Cheese Salad with a warm Cider and Pancetta Dressing. 

Serves 4 as a starter

Cheese

2 100g Capricorn goats cheese

1 tbsp crushed black peppercorns

Croutons

8 thin slices of  ciabatta

Olive oil

Dressing

1tbsp olive oil

65g pack of chopped smoked pancetta

100 ml still cider

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2tsp caramelised onion relish.

For serving

Bag of mixed baby salad leaves

1 dozen cherry tomatoes chopped

In a small pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat, fry the pancetta until the fat starts to crisp. Add the cider, cook for a further 2 minutes and then add the caramelised onion relish and balsamic vinegar. Continue cooking for 2 – 3 minutes until the dressing reduces and slightly thickens. Set aside.

Brush both sides of the ciabatta and grill on both sides until golden. Cover with tin foil to keep warm.

Heat grill on a high setting (around 200 c)

Put the crushed peppercorns on a chopping board, cut each cheese in half through the middle and press the cut side into the peppercorns

Place the goats cheese on a heat proof tray and grill for 2 -3 minutes until the cheese starts to melt slightly. Try not not overlook as the cheese will melt.

Divide the salad leaves and chopped tomatoes between 4  plates. Place a slice of the grilled goats cheese on top and spoon the warm dressing over the cheese and salad.

Add your thoughts here… (optional)

A Wee Pinch Of Sugar

It’s always good to be told that the food you are eating is good for you and a piece by Cate Devine in todays  Glasgow Herald about Scottish Rapeseed Oil confirms that.  Research carried out by Dr Jayne Mckenzie of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh analysed Black and Gold oil from East Lothian and confirmed that Scottish cold pressed rapeseed oil  is probably superior to olive oil in health terms.

Rapeseed oil is one of my kitchen staples for a number of reasons and one of those is the balance between the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Dr McKenzie’s research was able to confirm that the balance between the omega 3 and 6 in the East Lothian oil confirms to the World Health Organisations guidelElse’s.

Looking through cook books, you will see many of the older books mentioning vegetable oil, olive oil or butter but in recent years…

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Scottish Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil…Probably Superior to Olive Oil in Health Terms

It’s always good to be told that the food you are eating is good for you and a piece by Cate Devine in todays  Glasgow Herald about Scottish Rapeseed Oil confirms that.  Research carried out by Dr Jayne Mckenzie of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh analysed Black and Gold oil from East Lothian and confirmed that Scottish cold pressed rapeseed oil  is probably superior to olive oil in health terms.

Rapeseed oil is one of my kitchen staples for a number of reasons and one of those is the balance between the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Dr McKenzie’s research was able to confirm that the balance between the omega 3 and 6 in the East Lothian oil confirms to the World Health Organisations guidelElse’s.

Looking through cook books, you will see many of the older books mentioning vegetable oil, olive oil or butter but in recent years rapeseed oil has crept onto that list and is now a favourite of many chefs, including 2011 Scottish Chef of the Year Neil Forbes at Cafe St Honore in Edinburgh.

As a supporter of local food producers and healthy cooking ,cold pressed rapeseed oil ticks that box for me and there’s rarely a day passes that I don’t use it in my cooking.

Like many of the products I use, there are favourites and when it comes to rapeseed oil my favourite and nearest producer is ‘Summer Harvest,  an award winning rapeseed oil produced by Mark and Maggie Bush at their family farm, Madderty Farm in Strathearn,  Perthshire.

If you attend Scotland’s farmers markets on the east side of Scotland or the various food festival and shows you will,no doubt have come across their oils, delicious  dressings and mayonnaise and of course tasted them.

A recent addition to the product range has been the wonderful vinegars that are used in the Summer Harvest dressings .  Like the oil, these are a must have and my favourites are  the Bramble and the Raspberry, a real taste of the Scottish Countryside in a bottle.

When I mention my love of rapeseed oil to others the first thing that is usually mentioned is   Olive oil, a long time favourite of cooks and the oil that is well know for its health giving properties.

There is no disputing the health benefits of Olive and it’s place in the kitchen and its not my intention to compare them, rather to concentrate on the benefits and way rapeseed oil can be used in everyday cooking.

If you are health conscious, have problems such as high cholesterol then rapeseed oil is an obvious choice when it comes to cooking with oil.  With a saturated fat content of around 6%, a high monosaturated fat content of over 60%,  polyunsaturated fat at over 27% along with a good balanced of omega 3 6 and 9, cold pressed rapeseed oil is definitely one for the store cupboard and everyday use.

The Summer Harvest website , http://www.summerharvestoils.co.uk has  some great recipes for using rapeseed oil and lots interesting facts about the oil and also how it is produced. In addition to cold pressed rapeseed oil there’s Chilli infused rapeseed oil along with four delicious dressings/marinades, several fruit vinegars and mayonnaise

Rapeseed oil,is a storecupboard staple for me and in the past where I always used Olive oil, I’ve adapted many of my recipes and use cold pressed rapeseed instead. In this post I’ve include a couple of my recipes and there are some fantastic recipes on the Summer Harvest Website including the Chocolate Beetroot Cake which is one of my favourites.

As I cook for my mother who has a cholesterol problems, rapeseed oil has been an ideal replacement for butter in cakes and if I need an oil for Sauteing then rapeseed is my choice. With a flash point of 240 c, it’s my choice when it comes to roast potatoes and also for any deep frying. It’s ideal is a dipping oil having a milder nutty flavour and also a drizzle over salads and pizzas.

Hummus 

This is my basic recipe but you can adapt to suit your own taste by increasing or reducing the amount of lemon juice and yoghurt.

1 400g can of chickpeas

3 desert spoons of Tahini

2 large garlic cloves

2 – 3 desert spoons of natural yoghurt

3 – 4 tbsp of rapeseed or for an extra kick use the Chilli infused oil.

Juice of 1 lemon

Seasoning.

Place all the chickpeas, tahini, garlic, yoghurt, oil and half of the lemon juice and seasoning in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasoning and if needed add the remaining lemon juice.

This is a good healthy snack and would be ideal in lunch boxes or simply as nice light lunch.

Hummus also makes a nice vegetarian starter with vegetables and pitta bread or on one big platter with the accompaniments for everyone to share. Add some extra small dishes such as olives, sundries tomatoes and its a perfect starter to a meal rather than a snack.

Chocolate and Orange Pumpkin Cake.

My healthy cake offering is a Chocolate & Orange Pumpkin cake and although it contains sugar , there are no artificial colourings, it’s made with fresh pumpkin and rapeseed oil which lowers the saturated fat content. Nothing like a healthy cake!

Ingredients

Cake,

300g self raising flour

300g light muscovada sugar

1tbsp ginger

2.5 tsp cinnamon

60g cocoa powder (Green and Blacks gives the best flavour)

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs beaten

140 ml rapeseed oil

30 ml natural yoghurt

Zest of 1 orange

650g pumpkin grated.

Oven Temp 180oc/ fan 160oc gas 4

30×20 cm loose bottomed cake tin – greased and lined with baking parchment

Put the dry ingredients, flour,sugar, spice, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa powder and salt in to a large mixing bowl.

Beat the eggs, add the oil and yoghurt and orange zest and mix well. Fold in to the dry ingredients and then stir in the grated pumpkin ensuring that it is mixed well.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 35 – 40 mins or until springy to touch.

Orange drizzle icing.

Juice of 1 orange and zest of 1/2.

100g granulated sugar

Mix ingredients together and drizzle over cake.

What’s in Your Lamb Kebab.

Food programmes are always of interest to me and one that caught my attention this week was the new series ‘Rip Off Food on BBC,Presented by Gloria Hunniford.

The programme looks at the tricks of the trade used by food manufacturers and supermarkets, revealing how customers are fooled and misled when chosing what to buy.

Takeaway food was highlighted,in particular the lamb kebab and lamb curry and what concerned me was that some of the lamb dishes tested contained not only lamb but chicken and beef. The food tested on the programme came from food outlets in 4 Warickshire towns and was tested by the local trading Standards Officers. 20 restaurants were visited and 39 dishes were bought for sampling and out of the 19 Donner  kebabs analysed all in addition to lamb contained other meats such as chicken, beef and pork. According to the head of Warickshire Trading Standards this is a nationwide problem so does make you wonder just what is in take away food. The food samples were also tested for artificial colourings and some were found to contain 18 times the permitted limit, quite alarming when you consider the effects on children and people with health problems such as asthma.

Donner kebabs are traditionally made with minced lamb so it is probably once of the easier dishes to disguise with other meats and given the levels of fat, salt and colourings in such takeaway dishes it really does not make for a healthy meal.

I’m sure there are some very good kebab takeaway establishments around and it was listening to my boys talking about how Glasgow had some fantastic kebab houses that got me cooking my own version for them. Apparently they know where the best kebabs in Glasgow can be found and it was that announcement that first led me to ‘Take on the Takeaway’…….a lamb kebab…all the trimmings and the first time I made it I even wrapped it in paper for them.

This version is much healthier and can be made with any meat although I usually use lamb leg steaks, and serve on a large round pitta with salad,red onion, tomatoes, raita and a chili sauce.

Do the boys enjoy the homemade kebab? Yes, they do indeed and it’s been cooking dishes like this that has encouraged them to become more interested in food and to start experimenting with different flavours in the kitchen
Lamb kebab.

Approx 6 lamb leg steak
4 tsp Harissa paste…….I use Belazu Rose Harissa
2 Tbsp oil….I tend to use rapeseed although olive will be fine.

Place the lamb steaks in a plastic bag , mix the Harissa and oil together and add to the lamb, mix well and leave to marinade either overnight or for a few hours.
When ready to cook, heat a griddle or grill and cook steak for approx 4 minutes each side or to your liking. When cooked serve on pita bread with the accompaniments.

Accompaniments.Pitta bread…the large round pitta bread from Warburtons are ideal as you can lay kebab on top and fold.
Chopped tomatoes
Sliced red onion
Shredded lettuce

Chili sauce
250ml Natural yogurt
100 ml tomato ketchup
1 tsp chili powder
1tsp mint sauce

Raita
250ml Natural yoghurt
Half a cucumber-chopped
1tbsp chopped fresh mint
Half Tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper