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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Spiced Nuts

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Kent cob nuts, ready for cracking
 
A few weeks ago, my neighbour and I did a swap of our garden goodies - I gave her pears and she gave me a bag of large cob nuts. I spent an enjoyable afternoon in the late summer sunshine cracking the nuts, before roasting them in a medium oven until they were golden.

Using one of my favourite Martha recipes, I dunked the nuts in caramel before dusting with a salty, sugary, spicy coating. DELICIOUS! The recipe can be used for most nuts, and I particularly like using pecans and almonds - do roast your nuts first though, it definitely improves the flavour.

These nuts are great to serve with drinks, and they make a perfect Christmas nibble.

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Spiced Cob Nuts

Spiced Nuts
Adapted from an old Martha Stewart recipe that I printed out years ago, but the original is no longer on her website.

1 tablespoon ground nut oil
2 cups roasted pecans or nuts of your choice
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the pecans (or nuts of your choice). Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of caster sugar over the nuts and stir until the nuts are golden brown and the sugar has caramelised.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the nuts into a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle the granulated sugar, salt,  ground cumin and red pepper flakes over the nuts and stir well, separating the nuts with the spoon.

Allow the nuts to cool before serving. The spicy nuts can be stored for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.

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Spicy pecans

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Do not use photos without full credit or permission.
This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Poet at Matfield

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The Poet at Matfield
 
You can't beat a long lunch with the girls, and this was a good one. The Poet at Matfield had been recommended by one of the girls who had recently stopped by for breakfast, and had also celebrated a special birthday there. It's somewhere I pass by quite frequently and had been meaning to try for a while.
 
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Set in the village of Matfield, Kent, The Poet has a warm charm about it. There are four oak beamed rooms and the food is English, seasonal and sourced locally. There is a varied menu and a big board with lots of other choices and daily specials.

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Lamb koftas with tzatiki & salad

I had lamb koftas with tzatiki and salad. The koftas were hot and spicy, with hints of cumin, coriander and plenty of garlic. The salad, however, was a bit disappointing, a couple of slices of tomato and lots of spinach, I would have preferred more of a mixed salad to be honest. The tzatiki sauce had a cooling effect on the koftas and I also ordered some chips, which were gorgeous - hot and crisp with a soft inside.

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Fresh tagliatelle & Parmesan

Some of the other dishes we had included pork ragu, fresh tagliatelle & Parmesan, chicken Kiev with chips & salad, and a rather impressive looking salmon fishcake with new potatoes & salad.

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Chicken Kiev

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Salmon fishcake with new potatoes & salad

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Glazed lemon tart

My dessert was one of the best desserts that I have had in a long time, a fabulous glazed lemon tart, accompanied with a wonderful blackberry sorbet. Just the right balance of tart and sweet flavours. One of the girls had a Pimms jelly with raspberry, basil & cucumber sorbet, which she raved about and was plotting to recreate at home!

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Pimms jelly with raspberry, basil & cucumber sorbet

I would definitely go back to The Poet, as it was clean and the food was lovely. We spent a long afternoon there and didn't feel rushed at all. I think the menu needs a couple more vegetarian dishes on it and if they made the glazed lemon tart a bit bigger...!

We had two courses each, soft drinks and coffee to finish, the bill was around £147 for 6, excluding service.

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An afternoon with good food and lots of girly chatter, what could be better?

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Bar area 

Blackboard at the Poet, 
Matfield
Blackboard specials

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Inside The Poet at Matfield

The Poet at Matfield
Maidstone Road
Matfield
Kent
TN12 7JH

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Do not use photos without full credit or permission.
This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Caramel Crunch Brownies


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The jury is still out for us on these caramel crunch brownie bars from a Donna Hay recipe, but we did discover that if you heat them in the microwave for 20 seconds or so, they go all lovely and melty, perfect to eat with some vanilla ice cream.

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Caramel Crunch Brownies
The original recipe makes an awful lot of caramel and ganache for the amount of brownie, so I cut the quantities down for these two elements, with a third less for the caramel and halving the ganache ingredients. I also used double cream for the ganache, as I prefer it. For Donna Hay's original quantities, click here.

For the brownie base
100g dark chocolate, chopped
125g unsalted butter
175g brown sugar
2 eggs
100g plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa

For the caramel crunch
290g caster sugar
80ml water
80ml single cream
30g unsalted butter
50g puffed rice cereal

For the chocolate ganache
150g dark chocolate, chopped
60ml double cream

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease a 20cm-square cake tin and line with non-stick baking parchment.

To make the brownie base, put the chocolate and butter into a small pan over a low heat and stir until melted and smooth, remove from the heat. Place the sugar, eggs, flour and cocoa in a bowl, along with the chocolate mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until set. Allow to cool in the tin.

To make the caramel crunch, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat and gently swirl the pan every now and then until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium high and cook until the mixture is golden, about 8-10 minutes. Don't stir it during this time. It should reach 160ºC (325ºF) on a sugar thermometer. Add the cream and butter and stir until well combined. Stir in the rice cereal and pour the caramel mixture over the brownie, smoothing the top. Set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature or until almost set.

To make the chocolate ganache, put the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted and smooth. Pour over the caramel and allow to cool at room temperature for 3 hours or until set. Slice into small squares or bars.
This is best eaten within 2 days.

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Oooey, gooey, sticky

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Waiting for ganache topping

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Finished brownies

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Do not use photos without full credit or permission.
This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Puy Lentil and Carrot Tabbouleh

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I recently saw a brilliant summery salad that's totally different to anything I've made before - a fabulous light salad called Puy Lentil & Carrot Tabbouleh and the perfect dish to serve alongside grilled vegetables and meats.

I saw it on Sunday Brunch, where it was cooked by guest chef Maria Elia, who has a great website with some very modern vegetarian dishes. She has also written some cookery books which means I'm going to have to investigate a little more!

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Puy Lentil & Carrot Tabbouleh 
This recipe is adapted from Maria Elia, Sunday Brunch.
I used a packet of ready to eat puy lentils from Merchant Gourmet and less mint.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
120g flat leaf parsley, with stalks
60g mint leaves, picked
2 tomatoes, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
50g black/puy lentils, cooked
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
Juice of 1 lemon
100ml olive oil
Sea salt

Using a food processor, cut the carrots roughly and then pulse the processor until they resemble the texture of puy lentils. Put the carrots into a large bowl.

With a sharp knife, slice the parsley as thinly as possible, repeat with the mint and add to the carrots. Dice the tomatoes and red onion and add to the carrots, along with the lentils and spices.

Dress with the lemon juice and olive oil and season with some sea salt before putting the tabbouleh in a serving dish.

Cook blog share logo

I'm linking this recipe to the #cookblogshare linky at Supergolden Bakes. Have a look at the other recipes shared this week!


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Do not use photos without full credit or permission.
This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

A Brazilian Supper Club with Tilda Rice


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Table set for a Brazilian gourmet extravaganza!

If you hear the word 'Brazil' and the first thing you think of is football, think again! Think food. Think Brazilian food. It's fabulous, spicy and different. Want to know a bit more? Read on!

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a Brazilian supper club by a wonderful blogging friend, Rosana McPhee. I was rather thrilled to get this invitation, because I knew it had been quite a while in the planning and it would be a fun and totally different foodie experience for me. Rosana is one of London's top Brazilian food bloggers, along with Italian-Japanese Brazilian chef Luiz Hara (The London Foodie), whose lovely home was the setting for the supper club. As well as Rosana, who was responsible for the canapés and desserts, Dhruv Baker was there to cook the starters and main dishes. Yes, you might remember the name Dhruv Baker, as he was the 2010 MasterChef winner! The evening was sponsored by Tilda, the famous rice company.

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Classic Caipirinha and a selection of the canapés
 
The garden was the perfect place to start the evening, mingling with the other guests and sipping classic Caipirinhas. We were treated to a variety of canapés, including Bolinho de Arroz (rice fritters made with a mix of dried shrimp, white fish and chicken) served with a lime and saffron mayonnaise, Pao de Queijo (baked Brazilian cheese bread),  Empadinha (mini pies with palm heart filling) and Coração de Galinha (chicken heart BBQ sticks, grilled and served with toasted cassava).

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Brazilian 'wish ribbons'

We went inside and were seated at a beautifully laid out dinner table, which had colourful Brazilian 'wish ribbons' on the plates. The ribbon is given to you by a friend, and needs to be tied around your wrist by another friend. It's tied on with three knots and you make a wish for each knot. It's a cute thing to do and makes a great conversation starter!

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Feijoada - a very famous Brazilian black bean stew, with Tilda Brazilian Samba rice and shredded greens

Talking of starters, our first dish was Feijoada, a classic comforting Brazilian black bean stew which was served with Tilda's new, limited edition, Brazilian Samba Rice.

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Our fish dish, Moqueca

The starters were followed by a fish dish called Moqueca, a light and fresh dish of white fish stewed in coconut milk with tomato, coriander, annatto and palm oil. It was served with Pirao Peixe, a traditional accompaniment to the stew, made with fish, onions, herbs and broth that has been thickened with cassava flour.

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Picanha with pimenta de bico - check out those Brazilian chilli peppers!

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Our side dishes

Earlier in the evening, Dhruv had been outside cooking rump cap of beef on the barbecue. This was for the Picanha with Pimenta de Bico - beef roasted under a blanket of rock salt and served with some amazing little bright red Brazilian chilli peppers and roasted garlic bulbs. There were some interesting side dishes to accompany the beef, including a sautee cassava and fried plantain dish, and a salad made with palm hearts, tomatoes and red onions. Rosana pointed out that the heart of palm had been sourced and bought from a 100% environmentally friendly producer.

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Trio of Brazilian desserts. Did you know that the tree that produces cashew nuts also has caju fruit growing from it?

There was a grand ending to the dinner, with a gorgeous trio of Brazilian desserts. The trio was made up of a caju sorbet (a refreshing cashew fruit sorbet), Brigadeiro de Copo (a kind of Brazilian chocolate pot) and Quindim (a rich egg custard and coconut tart).

Brazilian supper club
Luiz Hara, Dhruv Baker & Rosana McPhee

It was a brilliant evening, and one that introduced me to lots of new and exciting flavours. My travel wish list has just been extended with the addition of Brazil, but in the meantime, I'm going to have a go at some of Rosana's delicious recipes! If you want to know some interesting facts about Brazil, have a look at this article that Rosana wrote for Morrisons Magazine.

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Tilda Brazilian Samba rice

I was given some 'Brazilian Samba' rice sachets to try at home. It's the first time I have used pre-cooked rice, I've never really thought about buying it before. I can honestly say I was quite impressed. All you do is heat it for 2 minutes in the microwave, you don't even have to put it into a dish first. It comes out piping hot, the grains are all lovely and separate and there's a whiff of spices in the air. The Basmati rice is lightly flavoured with onions, chilli, garlic, parsley, lime extract and herbs, not overpowering at all. It is a limited edition though, which will be in the shops until November 2014.

There's more information on the Tilda website, and plenty of recipes and meal ideas.

Here are a few more photos of the evening:

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Working hard, our fabulous chefs Rosana and Dhruv

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Ingredients & something to drink

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Beef being roasted, rare & medium

Brazilian beer Brazilian coffee
Brazilian beer & coffee to finish!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the supper club by Rosana and Tilda, thank you. All views are my own.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Do not use photos without full credit or permission.
This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.