Tuesday, 28 August 2012

'Torta Caprese' - Capri Chocolate almond cake - random (Sopranos family) recipe

Enough of all this celebrity talk...there's only so many famous TV cooks I can meet in my lifetime...back to the day job, its time for Dom's random recipe (number 19) challenge and for fear of shame and embarrassment I could not forget to enter this months challenge after revealing my (small) recipe book stash last month. So a quick eyes closed flick along the (one) book shelf and this recipe book was duly picked, 'The Soprano's Family Cookbook'. With an even quicker flick the page opened upon this recipe for 'Torta Caprese'...well it was either this or Ricotta Cheesecake (on the opposite page) and that seemed too common by Tony Soprano's standards! Now I have no clue what this cake should look like as there is no photograph in the book...but I think it turned out pretty well, not as stunning to look at as one of Tony Sopranos lovers granted, but it tasted as moist, sweet and heavenly as Tony Soprano's lips (trust me on this one, I know!).

I know what you are all thinking though...stuff the recipe, how did she come by a book like that in her collection? Is she part new york/brooklyn/italian? Is she a matriarch in the new jersey mafioso? Is she related to the Soprano family? Has she been one of Tony's lovers in early life? Has she met the cast in person like she met Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood this weekend?

Well dear readers it goes like this...we are great Soprano fans here, we are not obsessed but yes we have the (recipe) book, and yes we have the tee shirts (his and hers actually...this is no joke!)...we bought all items on a trip to NYC (thats New York) a few years ago...from the HBO shop no less. When I spotted The Sopranos recipe book and flicked through it in the store I had to have it, no questions asked...in the words of 'Uncle Ju'.

This book has hidden depths, I make my meatballs from this book every time, and they re the best ever, the pasta recipes and sauces are fab. The front inside cover depicts Tony Soprano's mother trying to put out a stove top fire with a mug of water (don't try this at home readers!).

The book itself is divided into different sections each centring around one of the characters in the series and elaborates on their love of food and views on food, cooking and recipes.

The chapter for this 'Torta Caprese" recipe is called 'If I couldn't eat I'd f****ing die' (I can identify with that!) and it concerns the ramblings of (Robert) Bobby Bacala, who describes himself as a connoisseur of Italian-American desserts. The section also describes Bobby's struggle with his weight all 260lbs of it and gives Bobby's 'style tips for heavy eaters', including such gems as 'black and loose fitting - you can't go wrong' and 'a colorful shirt is meant to be worn tail out - Both the Hawaiians and Mexicans make a good one'. Bobby went on to marry Tony's sister after his first wife died and they had a daughter together, then he was...Oh I digress...here's the recipe...make it!

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Great British Bake Off - book review - meet the judges

The Great British Bake Off hit our screens for a third series last week but one...episode three is this Tuesday...and if like me you love to bake at home, you will be gripped to the TV screen once more. There are lots of things I like about this show, but I love the way the format has not really changed much at all...12 hopeful bakers all with their eye on being crowned the country's best home baker...and the prize...(if last years anything to go by a really weird looking trophy made of beaters, cutters and plastic eggs set inside an upturned goldfish bowl)...well its the taking part that counts not the prize...right?

And the rest of the format hasn't changed either, we have the lovely Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry as judges and the show is fronted by the 'Ant and Dec of the baking fraternity' Sue Perkins and Mel Gieldroyc who's antics are quite humorous at times. I hope the BBC don't ever change this format because it works and I just love it the way it is, there is a bit of tension and drama (and a lot of praying on the floor and at the foot of integral ovens) but not too much to be over bearing.

With the third series comes a new book to accompany it...'The Great British Bakeoff - how to turn everyday bakes into show stoppers', EBury the publishers for BBC books have very kindly sent me two copies one for me and one for my Macmillan Cancer coffee morning recipe book sale; and I was lucky enough this weekend to be invited to go along to the Bolton Food and Drink Festival and watch, meet and interview Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2012

Bolton Food and Drink Festival is in full flow this weekend...it starts Friday 24th August and ends on bank holiday Monday 27th August. I popped along on the Saturday to have a nosey and a wander around. I didn't get to see everything on offer (there is SO much going on there!) but what I saw I liked and I was quite impressed with the layout and what was on offer.
There are a huge number of stalls (listed at the bottom of this post) selling food related items, lots of stalls and vans selling amazing street food to eat on site or take home (everything from a cupcake to a pancake to fresh italian pizzas to indian foods...its all here...and most of it cooked fresh in front of you).

Monday, 6 August 2012

Richard Bertinet 'Pastry' - book review

I was sent a copy of Richard Bertinet's latest book 'Pastry', published by Ebury sort of by default, I have had my copy for a few months now and to be honest I have become a bit obsessed with it. This book is one of my favourites of this year, it can regularly be found on my bedside table and every time I read it I find something else (usually a mouth watering sweet recipe admittedly) that grabs my attention. I keep plotting baking afternoons and dream of filling my kitchen with racks of delicious pear frangipan tarts and glazed apple puff pastry tarts...I've got it bad!

The photography in this book is really excellent and the pictures of the creations are mouth watering, there is no other way to describe them. A lot of the photographs are set against a dark background and this must suit this kind of baking as the recipes just look amazing.

Richard Bertinet is originally from Brittany he is a renowned pastry chef and has his own world renowned cookery school in Bath (the Bertinet Kitchen). He bakes fresh goods to supply his own shops and others and some restaurants in the south west. This is his fourth book.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Dieters' blackcurrant and mint sorbet - recipe

Something refreshing and with hardly any calories...that's my take on a dieters blackcurrant and mint sorbet...its delish and its easy to make! And with a colour like that you just have to grab a spoon and dive in.

To make my sorbet dieter friendly and bring down the calories as much as I could I used Truvia, its made by Silver Spoon from the stevia plant. Its a calorie free sweetener and you can use it in baking and cooking. You use about a third of the amount of sugar you would normally use. I used a very small amount for this recipe. The sorbet was delicious and full of flavour with a hint of mint. I can't say that Truvia tastes exactly like sugar does, as Truvia does have a sweetener taste or an edge to it, but it worked quite well in this recipe and my chief taster said he couldn't tell the difference between this and ordinary sugar.

1 punnet fresh blackcurrants
2 level tsp Truvia (a zero calorie sugar alternative)
1 tbsp lemon juice
sprigs of fresh mint
1. Wash the blackcurrants then put them in a pan with enough water to cover them. Add to this 2 tsp of Truvia, a few fresh mint sprigs and the lemon juice.
2. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the blackcurrants have popped.
3. Remove the mint sprigs and any detached leaves.
4. Pour the cooked blackcurrants into a food processor and mix. Remove the liquid and strain through a sieve into a jug, remember to clear off the fruit pulp from under the sieve. Discard any skins etc once sieved. Let the liquid cool.
5. Once the liquid is cool transfer to an ice cream maker and churn for about 10-15 minutes until the sorbet starts to form.
6. Transfer to a freezer proof container with a lid and freeze for at least 2 hours prior to serving.

I served mine with some 0% fat free Total Greek yoghurt (the fat free split pot one with honey). Each pot has about 112 calories...I had about a third with this dessert.
It was a delicious dessert and I think my portion (almost sugar free and fat free) didn't event touch 80 calories in total.
I'm entering this gorgeous recipe in Lancashire Food's fabulous summer ices competition...you can check out more delicious ices on Linzi's blog here.
I'm also entering this recipe into Karens' Herbs on Saturday link up...more about this regular recipe challenge on her blog Lavender and Lovage.

N.B. My sample of Truvia was sent to me to try at home and review freely by Silver Spoon, this post is not sponsored by either brand or company and all the other ingredients I paid for.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Proud to be helping Macmillan Cancer Support

Today was a special day for me because I have seen one of my recipes in print (for just the second time in my life ever)...that's quite an exciting thing for me especially when I tell you about the book itself and what it means.

Silver Spoon in conjunction with Macmillan Cancer Support have produced a small recipe book called 'The Little Book of Treats'. This lovely little book will be on sale from early September but only from Marks and Spencer in store cafes and the book is being sold with ALL the proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support.

The book has a forward by Joanna Lumley and has 53 pages of recipes for lovely baked and other treats with celebrities and food bloggers sharing their favourites (you can see the celebrities involved are named alongside Karen and I above). The celebrities recipes are in the front and the food bloggers recipes come towards the end, its quite exciting to see my recipe alongside fellow food blogger Karen Burns Booth from Lavender and Lovage (and in fact Karen has the ultimate honour as her recipe appears on the front cover of the book itself).

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Flavrbox - a review

This is a parcel of lovely food goodies I received in the post recently from a company called Flavrbox. I was sent this 'tasting box' to give my views on this notion of food boxes delivered to your home each month and to comment on my views of the quality of the products contained within the box.

Flavrbox is relatively new, the idea of the tasting boxes is you sign up to pay an amount each month (the more months you commit to the cheaper it is, and you can cancel at any time) and every month on a certain date you are sent a 'tasting box' of food products to try at home. The products are not fresh as in fresh fruit and meat (Flavrbox do deliver fresh produce too by the way) its more store cupboard like ingredients and products. If signing up to this each month does not appeal you can also have a one off box for yourself or sent as a gift.

The items in each box are from smaller food producers with an eye on quality and more unique products,  these items won't be easily found in the large supermarkets or local chains, these you will find in specialist farm shops or delis, that kind of supplier. That's one of the refreshing thing about Flavrbox, that and the fact they want to positively support and promote these smaller food producers.

Once you receive your 'tasting box' you try the goodies inside and then if you want to order more you can do so from the website.