Saturday 31 March 2012

Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg - The Winner

I'm pleased to announce that the winner of the Hotel Chocolate Easter Egg Giveaway is....


Please email me your address as soon as you can so I can arrange for your prize to be posted to you.

Thanks again to Hotel Chocolat for sending me their fabulous Rocky Road Easter Egg to review and for letting me host this competition.

Thursday 29 March 2012

Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club - 24th March 2012

Last weekend I finally got the chance to do something that I've been wanting to do for a while - attend a Clandestine Cake Club event!

You may have heard of these as the profile of the Clandestine Cake Club has been on the rise recently following a number of television appearances by Cake Club members and in particular the founder of the CCC, Lynn Hill. Events are also being regularly covered by newspapers and magazines both locally and nationally.

For the uninitiated though, the idea is a very simple one. A cake enthusiast decides to host an event, a location is found and the invitation to join in is thrown open to anyone who fancies coming along (subject to availability - more and more events are filling to capacity well in advance). Participants then make a cake and bring it along, with a guest aswell if they like. On the day itself the cakes are shared and discussed (but never judged!) and a good time is had by all.

As I mentioned above, I've been wanting to attend one of these events for ages but haven't been able to so I was very happy to hear that a date had been announced for a Cambridge meet on a day I was actually free.  This particular event was hosted by Miss Sue Flay of The Secluded Tea Party fame and she found us a great location in the heart of Cambridge at the La Tasca Tapas Bar, who were very helpful and accommodating.

I was one of the first to arrive and was tempted straight away by the fabulous cakes already waiting on the table.  More and more people arrived with more and more cakes until we eventually had about seventeen gorgeous cakes (I lost count!) lined up on the table.  Somehow we all managed to be very polite and not dive in straight away but once everyone was there and we were told to dig there was no holding back!

As much as I would like to have tried every cake that morning my stomach frustratingly started to complain about being full after the first three slices.  I pushed on though and eventually managed about five slices, although by the end they were considerably smaller than the first one!  No matter though as there was still a vast amount of cake left at the end which we all shared out and took home with us. I'm afraid I can't remember all of the different cakes we had to choose from but some of the highlights were Caramel Cinnamon, Chocolate Beetroot, Chocolate & Strawberry, Chocolate Marmalade, Coffee, Carrot & Walnut, Miss Sue Flay's Tuck Shop Layer Cake (as seen on The One Show!), Pistachio & Rosewater and Coconut.  I had a very happy couple of days sampling the leftovers!

It really was a fun and sociable morning eating, drinking and chatting to like-minded people about cake.  A special mention must go to the guest of honour, Lynn Hill herself, the founder of the Clandestine Cake Club, who had come all the way down from Leeds to join us.  It was lovely to meet her and she had some great cakey stories to share with us.

Anyone interested in attending a Clandestine Cake Club event, or even hosting one, should start by visiting the CCC website where you can find more information about the club and an extensive list of upcoming events.

And what cake did I make? Well, I decided to go with an old favourite - Nigella's Courgette Cake with Lime Curd filling - and then went to town adorning it with white chocolate fingers and lime marshmallows.  I think it turned out pretty well!

For a couple more write-ups of the morning and some more delicious cake pictures have a look at these accounts by fellow bloggers The Afternoon Tease and Miss Igs.

Riverford Cookbook Giveaway - The Winner

I am pleased to announce that the winners of the Riverford Cookbook Giveaway are.....


Please email me your address as soon as you can so I can arrange for your prize to be sent to you.

Many thanks to Riverford for letting me host this competition.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Hotel Chocolat's Rocky Road to Caramel Egg & a Giveaway!

Do you remember that 80s advert for chocolate mousse which had the tagline "sssh...don't tell the children"..?  Well those were the words that popped into my head when I unwrapped this lovely looking package from Hotel Chocolat that arrived on my doorstep earlier this week. Unfortuntely, my two can sniff out chocolate a mile way and my telling them that it's grown up chocolate doesn't seem to be washing!

No matter though, as this is one of Hotel Chocolat's Extra Thick Eggs which are very generously proportioned eggs with plenty to go around. This one, the Rocky Road to Caramel egg, is split into two halves, both wrapped in luxuriously thick gold foil and made from Hotel Chocolat's 40% milk chocolate.  One half sports a coat of milk chocolate, puffed rice, cookies and chocolate chunks and the other a layer of caramel chocolate over a base of milk chocolate.

Concealed inside each half is tempting selection of chocolates, 12 in total, most of which have either a crunchy or caramel element. Not surprisingly there weren't any I didn't like but if I had to pick favourites I'd probably choose the Caramel Praline, the Billionaire Shortbread and the Sticky Toffee.

All of Hotel Chocolat's Extra Thick Eggs cost £26.00, or if you really want to push the boat out you might want to try one of their indulgent Ostrich Easter Eggs.  For a more moderate budget, I really like the look of the Beastie Egg selection and of course, there's a good selection of gifts for children.

And yes, as the title suggests, Hotel Chocolat are offering one very lucky reader the chance to win one of their Rocky Road to Caramel Eggs.  To be in with a chance, just have a look at their Extra Thick Easter Egg selection and let me know which you find the most tempting.  You can leave a comment below or on my Facebook page. Alternatively, you can post the following message on Twitter...

I've entered the @HalfaPotofCream competition to win a @HotelChocolat Extra Thick Easter Egg - 

The competition closes at midnight on Wednesday 28th March and I will announce the winner a couple of days later.  Only UK entries allowed I'm afraid.

Good Luck!

Friday 16 March 2012

Chicken, Bacon and Leek Pie

Ok, so I'm about a week too late with this recipe as Pie Week was last week.  Oh well, if I had it my way every week would be pie week! A dinner that includes some sort of pie is pretty much perfect in my book - flavoursome pie, smooth creamy mash and a few veg on the side - I feel hungry just writing about it.

This particular pie became one of my new favourites when I was sent Innocent's cookbook Hungry? The innocent recipe book for filling your family with good stuff to review last year.  It's so simple but oh so delicious and always a hit whenever I make it.  It also works really well with leftover cooked ham in place of the bacon.  

Chicken, Bacon & Leek Pie
(from Hungry, by the Innocent Smoothie People)

olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed, washed and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
8 chicken thighs, skinned, boned and chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
1/2 a small butternut squash, deseeded, peeled and cut into small chunks (I haven't tried it with this yet)
a few springs of thyme
2 tablespoons plain
200ml chicken stock
1 x 500g packet of puff pastry
1 large free-range egg
a splash of milk

1) Preheat your oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5.

2) Fry the leeks and garlic in a little olive oil over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the pan and set aside, then put the pan back on the heat.

3) Add a little more oil to the pan and add the chicken and bacon and cook until the chicken starts to brown, then add the leeks, squash (if using), thyme and flour and stir for a few more minutes. Then add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, roll out the pastry on a clean work surface dusted with flour until about 5mm thick and big enough to fit over your pie dish.  Beat the egg and milk together and use some of it to brush the edge of the pie dish. Tip the filling into the dish then lay the pastry on top.

5) Use a fork to press the edges of the pastry to the side of the dish, then trim of any excess round the edge.  Brush the top of your pie with the egg and milk and add any decoration that you might want to make with the left over pastry (ensuring that this is brushed with egg and milk too).  Make one or two small holes in the top of the pie to allow any air to escape.

6) Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.  Serve with mash and veg of your choice.

You can also make the pie up to the stage just before you brush with egg, then allow to cool completely before freezing.  It will keep for a few months.

Serves 4

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Riverford Organics and a Cookbook Giveaway

I think we're all pretty familiar with concept of fruit and veg boxes with many of us choosing them as an alternative to the supermarket.  The issue of climate change is also regularly in the news and the fact that Climate Week began on the 12th of March is timely reminder that it's important that we all spend a little time thinking about where we source the food we eat.

Riverford are one of the leading companies offering locally grown, organic products delivered right to your door and have been in the industry for almost 15 years.  Initially delivering to just 30 homes, they have expanded over time and have met the challenge of keeping up with demand, while still maintaining their commitment to local growing and employment, by teaming up with four sister farms around the UK.  They now deliver to around 40,000 homes each week.

Riverford has won many awards including Best Online Retailer 2010 and 2011 and Best Ethical Business 2009 in the Observer Ethical Awards and Best Organic Retailer 2009 and the Fruit and Vegetable category in the 2009 Soil Association Awards. It's restaurant, the Riverford Field Kitchen, also won the award for Best Ethical Restaurant 2009 and 2010 in the Observer Food Monthly Awards.

In 2010 Riverford launched a "Riverford Cooks"campaign to inspire people to cook from scratch using a vegbox.  Riverford Cooks work up and down the country in their local communities on activities from cooking lunches in people's homes through to public cookery workshops and demos.  You can find out more about events in your local area and swap recipe ideas by joining the Riverford Cooks website.

Riverford have also asked me to share the videos below with you, which will hopefully provide you with a bit more inspiration and information about what they do and how you can make the most of your veg.

How to Cook Squash

About Ploughing

Alternative to Battery Chicken Farming

Riverford's first book, the Riverford Farm Cook Book: Tales from the Fields, Recipes from the Kitchen was published in September 2008 and won Best First Book 2009 and Work on British Food 2009 at the Guild of Food Writers Awards.  This was followed by a second book in 2011, Everyday and Sunday Recipes from Riverford Farm.

And here's the really good bit.  Riverford are giving one lucky reader the chance to win a copy of their first book.  All you have to do is leave a comment below, or on my Facebook page, telling me which of Riverford's fab fruit, veg and meat boxes appeal to you the most.  Or you can post the following message on Twitter

I've entered the @HalfaPotofCream competition to win a copy of the @Riverford Farm Cookbook -

The competition ends at midnight on Sunday 25th March and I'll announce the winner couple of days later.  Only UK entries allowed I'm afraid. Good luck!

Monday 5 March 2012

Chicken and Tomato Supper

Here we are in March already.  I know I say it every year but I really don't know where the time is going and I can't believe it's almost a month since my last post!

Today's dish is a simple recipe ideal for family dinners and comes from my trusty Dairy Book of Home Cookery: New Edition for the Nineties. I've had it for years and it's the book I always turn to it if I want a basic recipe for something like Shepherds pie or pancakes.

This is a great dish that's delicious and really easy to make. The toasted bread and cheese on top add interest to an otherwise simple dish and it's just perfect with a few greens on the side.  

Chicken & Tomato Supper
(adapted from The Dairy Book of Home Cookery)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
1 courgette, cut into half moons
400g passata
1 tsp italian herb seasoning
350g/12 oz chicken breast fillets, cubed
1 tsp cornflour
100g/4 oz wholemeal bread, toasted and cubed
100g/4 oz cheddar cheese, cubed

1) Warm the oil in a large saucepan or frying pan and cook the onion and pepper for three minutes. Add the courgette, tomato, chicken and herbs. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

2) Blend the cornflour in a little water and stir into the chicken. Cook until thickened.

3) Spoon into a flameproof dish and scatter over the bread and cheese. Place under a preheated grill until the cheese begins to melt (keep an eye on it to make sure the bread doesn't burn).

Serves 4