Friday, 31 December 2010

The best kitchen gadget ever!

Every December I visit the Christmas Markets with my mum and a couple of years ago we came across what is possibly the best gadget I have ever used in the kitchen.  We promptly snapped one up for ourselves and a couple as Christmas presents.

Can you tell what it is yet? I'll give you a clue, you can use it with garlic like this.....


Yep its a grater - you dampen the plate a little, rub the garlic over the little spiky bits and you are left with a lovely little pile of finely grated garlic which adds loads of flavour to your dishes. You then add any little bits left over to a bottle of oil to create a lovely garlic infused oil.

Take the brush and use it to get all the garlic into a little pile at the side of the plate making it easy to add to your food.  No more fiddling about chopping garlic into small pieces or using a crusher that wastes half of your garlic clove!

The best (and cheapest) cookbook around

When i was younger I used to spend time with my grandma and my mum in the school holidays baking cakes, scones and helping to make bread.  Neither my mum or my grandma really needed to refer to a cookbook to make a cake but if there was ever one out when we were baking it was always the Be-Ro cookbook!

The Be-Ro cookbook originated in my native North East and was given out for free at exhibitions and door-to-door.  It was designed to feed hungry families on a low budget and started off with just 19 pages.  Today it has 86 pages of recipes and costs...wait for it...£1.50! That includes p&p, what a bargain!
Home Recipes with Be-Ro FlourMy favourite recipes from the Be-Ro cookbook were always the butterfly cakes and the Banana and Chocolate cake..yum! The book also had blank space for you to write your own recipes at the back.  When my grandma passed away I was given her Be-Ro cookbook (as well as a secret recipe for Banoffee pie) which takes pride of place on my shelf of cookbooks and when I have my own children I will continue to use it with them.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Pear and Cranberry Chutney

This Christmas I wanted to do something a bit different and try to make a gift to give to people as a stocking filler.  I'm no good at making beautiful homemade cards or making scented bath bombs etc...but i can cook!  I wanted something that was going to be easy to make and that everyone would like as I was giving it as a gift to a few members of my family (who all know good food!).  So I trawled the BBC Good Food website (my favourite) and looked for ideas. 

Each Christmas the website features ideas for home made gifts such as biscuits, muffins, limoncello and truffles.  This year I spotted a few chutney recipes which i liked the sound of but they weren't very "Christmasy" and looked a little bit of a faff to make.  So I set about searching the Internet again and stumbled across good ol' Delia Smith and her recipe for Pear and Cranberry Chutney. 

The recipe makes four 4fl oz jars (with enough left over for a little bit of tasting!).  To make the chutney you will need the following:
  • 220g ripe pears
  • 220g cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (or half a stick)
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 100g of chopped onions
  • 110g light soft brown sugar
  • 65ml distilled malt vinegar
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
Firstly peel, core and chop the pears into small pieces.  Place them in a large saucepan with the cranberries, onions, sugar and vinegar.  Add the cinnamon, orange zest/juice and allspice berries (remember to pick them out before you put  it into jars or put them in some muslin - i didn't have any at the time) and stir together.

Bring the mixture to the boil and then turn the heat down to simmer the chutney, making sure to stir it from time to time until it reduces to a thick pulp.  I found that this took about 40 minutes.  You can tell its ready when you pull your spoon across the surface and it doesn't immediately fill with vinegar.

Pour the mixture into warm sterilised jars and seal it while its still hot. 

Mmm....the smell of Christmas filled the house
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