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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Loire Wine & Food Pairing

Vins de Loire map IMG_8916 R

Did you know that the Loire is France's third largest wine growing area? It stretches all the way from Nantes to Blois, with 450 wine-producing villages in eight departments. There are 4,000 vineyards growing a variety of grapes, with perfect weather conditions. You need moderate sunshine with a uniform rainfall, and the wind - blowing in from the Atlantic - provides just the right amount of coolness, keeping the temperatures stable.
All of this makes for stunning wines, offering a variety and intensity of flavours. 22% of the wines produced here are rosés, 45% whites, 23% reds and the last 10% are fines bulles wines.

Loire wines IMG_8760 R

I was recently sent two bottles of Loire wines to try, a Muscadet (left) and a Rosé d'Anjou (right) - two very different wines.  I was asked which food I thought would go well with the wines.

Pasta Bake with Muscadet IMG_8871 R

For the Muscadet Sévre et Maine Sur Lie I chose a make-ahead pasta dish and salad. This wine is light, fresh and crisp, made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape and picked from 35 year old vines. It is matured for 6 months, giving it a more complex flavour.
The pasta dish is quite complex itself, pasta (penne) mixed with roasted tomatoes, garlic and red onions, which is then put into a baking dish and a sauce made from onions, mushrooms, three different cheeses, herbs, chillies, cream and wine. The sauce is poured over the pasta and topped with more cheese and breadcrumbs before baking until hot and bubbling, served alongside french bread and a crisp salad.

We all agreed that this worked really well, giving our taste buds a real workout - the lemon tones and acidity cutting through the strong cheese flavours of the pasta.

Rose d'Anjou picnic IMG_8899 R

I decided to make use of the hot weather that we have been blessed with and take the Rosé d'Anjou on a picnic. A beautiful warm pink colour, this wine is a favourite of mine. It goes well with almost any food you throw at it! Poultry, white meat and spicy dishes will bring out the freshness of the wine, which is traditionally produced from Grolleau grapes, harvested before over ripening occurs.
Served chilled, the Rosé d'Anjou was the perfect accompaniment to the star of our picnic - little vegetarian cheesy rolls (adapted from this Delia Smith recipe), with a filling of strong cheddar, onion, fresh herbs and a hint of chilli - all encased in a light shortcrust pastry. 

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Ready for a picnic

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Vignerons du Pallet, finest Muscadet, 2011
Price: £6.99
Retailer: Tesco

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Famille Bougrier, Rosé d'Anjou, 2011
Price £6.95
Retailer: The Wine Society

Notes on how to taste wines properly in three easy steps can be found here, in my Chablis post.

Muscadet wine IMG_8913 R

Disclosure: I was sent two bottles of wine to demonstrate how Loire wines can go with different foods from any region - Merci! All views are my own.

Please drink responsibly, visit Drinkaware for more information.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Tried and Tasted!

Welcome to a new page on Cherrapeno, where I taste, test and review some of the products that I get sent.

Oxo Ice Cream Scoops

Oxo ice cream scoops IMG_8787 R

With the sultry weather upon us, I tried both of these ice cream scoops from Oxo.

Of the two, the trigger scoop (left) is better for softer ice cream, and gives perfect larger sized balls of ice cream - it's also great for scooping equal amounts of cake mixture into cupcake cases for even-sized cupcakes

The beak scoop powers through harder ice cream - you can scrape it straight from the freezer and make smaller balls. It has a 'release' button to push the ice cream off of the scoop. This one was my favourite, it was excellent for getting the ice cream out of the corners of the ice cream containers.

Oxo trigger ice cream scoop IMG_8798 R Oxo beak ice cream scoop IMG_8791 R

The trigger scoop retails at £10.20 and the beak scoop for £11.25.
More information on the Oxo website, or find them on Facebook.

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Hotel Chocolat Gift Ideas

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Hotel Chocolat have recently launched a small collection of chocolate gift boxes for special occasions, including two 'new arrival' selections - which would be perfect to give to a new parent, royal or not ;) - and a 'congratulations' message box. 

I chose the 'congratulations' box (£8.00), as it was the perfect little graduation gift to accompany the university photos that I had bought for my son. There were 8 gorgeous chocolates - billionaire's shortbread, strawberry cheesecakes, simple milk truffles and - my favourite - dizzy praline. We all agreed that this was a lovely little extra to the main presents, and a great small affordable gift to give to other friends that had also graduated at the same time. I really liked the typography on the front of the box emblazoned with the word 'CONGRATULATIONS'.

Hotel Chocolat Congrats Chocolates IMG_8832 R

More information on the Hotel Chocolat website, or find them on Facebook.

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New York Bakery Co Recipe Book

New York Bakery Bagel book IMG_8757 R

The New York Bakery Co have just launched their first crowd sourced recipe book, featuring 20 recipes from fans across the UK. The recipe book is absolutely FREE, just visit their Facebook page for more information.

In the book you will find recipes for breakfast (eg 'The Terminator' - egg, bacon, cheese, tomato and lettuce), lunch (eg 'Holey Guacamole' - smoked salmon, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado), dinner (eg 'The Meataholic' - mayo, cheese, dry-cured ham, bacon, chorizo), and snacks (eg 'Beanut-Panana' - peanut butter, banana).

All the recipes look really good, I was sent the cinnamon and raisin bagels to try out, so made versions of the 'Choco Banana', 'Beanut-Panana' and the 'Sweet and Light'. My favourite one was the 'Choco Banana', delicious on a hot toasty bagel.

New York Bagels IMG_8755 R

More information on the New York Bakery Co website, and their Facebook page.

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Many thanks to all of the brands featured and to the PRs for the products. I was not paid to write this post and all views expressed above are my own.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.


Friday, 19 July 2013

The Jewelled Kitchen - Book Review

It's really refreshing to see a different kind of cookbook, with exciting and interesting ingredients. Thumbing through The Jewelled Kitchen, it's not easy to decide where to start- so many of the dishes jump right off the page and you can almost smell the spices and warmth wafting from the book. The cuisines - Lebanese, Moroccan and Persian - use gorgeous key ingredients, including pomegranates, figs, pine nuts, saffron and sumac.

The author of the book is Bethany Kehdy. She is a notable food blogger, recipe developer,  food and travel writer, photographer, leader of culinary tours across Lebanon and the organizer of Food Blogger Connect, a conference for food bloggers. Phew! That is one talented lady.

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Whipped hummus - did you know that 'hummus' means chickpea in Arabic?

The Jewelled Kitchen is divided into seven chapters - culinary reflections, mezze, poultry, meat, seafood, vegetarian and desserts. There is also a brilliant section at the back detailing the Middle Eastern and North African pantry, along with basic recipes and methods, including how to deal with a pomegranate and the recipes for different spice mixes used in this cuisine.

The book is well laid out and clearly written, with beautiful, full page colourful photography by Šárka Babická. Some of the recipes that caught my eye were jewelled rice (elaborate layers of berries, nuts and dried fruits and rice), smokey aubergine dip, spiced lamb flatbread pizzas, chargrilled sweet pepper & walnut dip, Lebanese clotted cream with dulche de leche & caramelized bananas, and date & tahini truffles.

inside the Jewelled Kitchen book IMG_8821
Inside view of the book, showing shaved beetroot, radish & grapefruit salad

My only criticism with the book (for an unfamiliar cuisine) would be that there are just a very few recipes that don't have accompanying photographs. I would loved to have seen a picture of the unusual pomegranate & rose quark summer cake, which falls into Bethany's "top five favourite cakes" category, I bet it would have been a stunner!

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I chose to make the falafel & tarator wraps from the vegetarian section of the book. Even though I have bought falafels and eaten them in restaurants, I've never made them. Why, oh why did I wait so long? They are so easy, delicious and nutritious! I would never have known, but the secret to making them is to use dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight, not the tinned variety, as the latter will fall apart. I followed the recipe to the letter and the falafels were light and crisp. Tarator, the dressing to accompany the falafels is a fabulous mix of tahini, garlic, lemon juice and parsley. For the wraps, I used Bethany's Arabic bread recipe, which is virtually the same as my go-to pizza dough recipe, making delicious edible holders for the falafels.

I also made the whipped hummus with the leftover chickpeas that I had soaked. After cooking the chickpeas, I put them immediately into iced water to 'shock' them, this made it easy to remove the skins of the chickpeas making a wonderfully smooth hummus.

uncooked falafels IMG_8767 R  Falafels IMG_8785 R
Falafels, before and after cooking

If you are looking for some different recipes to spice up your family meals, I would recommend you have a look at this book. Most of the ingredients can be found in your supermarket and substitutions are included for those that aren't. You certainly won't need to buy the ready-made spice mixes used in this cuisine again, included in the book are the recipes for harissa, advieh, Lebanese seven spices and chermoula.

front cover Jewelled Kitchen IMG_8805 R

The book can be bought directly from Duncan Baird Publishers or from Amazon and all good bookshops.

The Jewelled Kitchen: A Stunning Collection of Lebanese, Moroccan and Persian Recipes
by Bethany Kehdy
£20.00 / Hardback, 224 pages
Publisher: Duncan Baird Publishers
July 2013
ISBN: 9781848990623

Please note that in the US this book is titled 'Pomegranates & Pine Nuts'.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of the cookbook from Duncan Baird Publishers, but all views expressed above are my own.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Cherry Swirl Ice Cream

Cherry Swirl Ice Cream IMG_8733 R

Calling all cherry lovers..... they are HERE!! Well if you live in Kent they are, haha! Fresh cherry stalls are popping up on roadsides, with juicy cherries, freshly picked that morning. They will be here for another 3-4 weeks, so make the most of them while you can.

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My favourite ways to use them: jam, cherry pies and ice cream - DELICIOUS!

Cherry Swirl Ice Cream IMG_8728 R 

The hot and sticky, windows wide open at night, weather is perfect for cherry swirl ice cream. The cherries are so full of flavour and juice - my kitchen always looks like a scene from a slasher movie after pitting several kilos of the things. This year I replaced my old pitter with a new one, one that comes with a little juice shield, requiring no fiddling to get the cherry in the right place before I attack it, disemboweling with one quick squeeze.

Oxo cherry pitter IMG_8745 R

I haven't written a recipe out, because you just make your favourite vanilla ice cream (or you could cheat and soften up a carton of good quality store-bought vanilla ice cream). Add some home made cherry jam swirled in with a spoon (you could cheat again with store-bought) and freeze in a container until ready for use. I use a David Lebovitz recipe for the jam, it's really easy - you just weigh the cooked cherries and add ¾ of the amount in sugar with some lemon zest  and juice, no pectin needed. I also added a tablespoon of Cointreau liqueur to the amount of jam that I was going to put into the ice cream.

Cherry Swirl Ice Cream IMG_8639 R 

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.