Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Cranberry Sauce

Bright red and shiny, cranberries are the very essence of Christmas. Not only do they look festive but they are the perfect accompaniment to turkey and many other meats eaten at this time.
Cranberry sauce is so easy to make, there really is no need to buy it in jars. Made fresh, it is zingy and pleasantly astringent, just the thing to perk up anything from chicken to ham or as a fruity partner to offset the richness of venison. It even goes well with cheese such as a well matured stilton.
Cranberries are now readily available at the supermarket in generously sized bags, so there'll be plenty to last throughout the winter feasts.

I use 300g of fresh cranberries, wash them and tip them into a saucepan along with the grated zest and juice of one orange. Placing the pan over a medium heat, I slowly bring them to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the berries begin to pop and burst, releasing their juices. Then I add about five tablespoons of white sugar and stir in until dissolved. You could add more sugar if you wish the sauce to be sweeter.
It really is simple as that.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Getting more juice from your lemon

Put your lemon in the microwave. Just 30 seconds on 'high' will soften the fruit's internal membranes, releasing more juice as it's easier to squeeze.
If you don't have a microwave, five minutes in a warm oven works just as well.

Give your lemon a massage. Roll it backwards and forwards on the work surface applying a little pressure.

Selecting the best lemon. Don't judge them by their looks but their weight. For their size, they should feel heavy in in the hand.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Vote for The Artisan Food Trail in The Great Exhibition 2012 and help support British artisan food producers

The Great Exhibition 2012 is all about celebrating Britain at its best and it is creating innovative ways to work out what really makes Britain 'Great'. Rather than them telling you what makes the country 'Great' they want you to tell them who is making it in Britain? Who, What and Where makes Britain 'Great'?

The brilliant thing about this inititiave is that it encourages the great British public to nominate their 'Greats' not least the businesses themselves who are also urged to list themselves as a 'Great'.
After some deliberation they decided to put themselves forward.
The decision was not for vanity but because it was seen as the perfect opportuntiy to give their Artisan Food Trail members some more exposure.

I need your vote please
There's lots of information on
The Great Exhibition website, but in short, I need to get 100 votes or more for The Artisan Food Trail by the end of December to go through to the next round. Once through, they'll be placed in a head-to-head contest and will need to get more votes to stay in the running.

The competition closes on the
30th of June 2012, with the Top 10 of each sub-category being promoted online and throughout the media – to showcase what makes Britain 'Great'.
The business with the highest amount of votes will get the opportunity to win free space at the Live Event, so if they do get that far (fingers crossed) they would be able to exhibit on the big day and promote all of their Artisan Food Trail members.

Why am I doing this?
I don't normally do big plugs like this but I would really appreciate your support, as The Artisan Food Trail is something very close to my heart.
For those who don't know already, I set up the The Artisan Food Trail as I'm passionate about food, especially when it's made by artisan producers using traditional methods and great ingredients. Having got to know many small food producers over the years, I felt that they deserved to be recognised and many of them needed more promotion. In short, I raise awareness for them, giving support for their businesses.

Voting is simple – you just need to register with your email and a user name, that's it.

Vote here!

Thank you for supporting The Artisan Food Trail and all their British artisan food producers. – Cheeky Spouse x

More info: www.thegreatexhibition2012.co.uk

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Ginger & Apricot Tiffin

Photo: © childsdesign

Tiffin is a sweet treat that requires no baking and is quick and easy to make. It is often made with digestive biscuits but as I like to experiment with flavours, I tried using ginger nuts instead which made the tiffin taste quite indulgent. Actually this recipe is very indulgent as I used rich chocolate. Many tiffin recipes contain nuts too, but this one is rather simpler but the end result is luxurious and almost truffle-like without any nutty intrusions that I sometimes find can give a rather dry texture.

200g unsalted butter
200g plain chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
1tbsp runny honey
225g ginger nut biscuits
150g dried ready-to-eat apricots

Grease a loaf tin or square dish with butter and line with baking parchment.
Place a large bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Put in the butter, chocolate and honey and allow to melt and stir briefly to combine.
Crush the biscuits coarsely. It is good to have a mixture of more finely crushed to just broken biscuit pieces.
Chop the apricots coarsely.
Add the biscuits and apricots to the now melted chocolate and butter mixture and stir really well, making sure the biscuit and apricot pieces are well coated and evenly distributed.
Pour the mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Leave to cool then place in the fridge to set.
When set, turn out the tiffin on to a board and cut into slices.
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