Bubbles, bubbles everywhere!

It’s all Ok Prosecco isn’t going anywhere!

img_3847

Well I met the wine-man himself and I don’t know what possessed me (probably 2 glasses of pink British bubbly and a glass of Greenock shiraz) but I attempted to ask the God of wine writers, Hugh Johnson, about a British equivalent to replace Prosecco, especially as I’d heard us Brits were drinking the region dry. He gave me a sympathetic look of, ‘Dear girl, it’s all ok’ and reassured me, ‘There’s quite a way to go’.

Our brainstorm (ok our two minute chat, ok me rambling to him about British bubbles -allow me a little indulgence), left me thinking perhaps Prosecco isn’t going anywhere but there’s some worthy homegrown fizz to check out to shake up the Prosecco scene (see below). As I was about to leave he said, ‘or pink Prosecco?’ Now there’s a thought. Take a good thing and turn it pink! I think he’s onto something.

img_3828-1

Eco bubbles
‘Herbert Hall, Kent, One of few organic wine growers making good (if quite dry, high-acid) sparkling from Champagne varieties.* Click here for stockists.

Think pink

Heath Estate, Kent, One of England’s best. Impressive vinyards near Staplehurst, only Champagne varieties’*. Their Balfour brut rose gets a ‘best’ in Hugh Johnson’s pocket wine book and I believe this fizz is the culprit for leading me to ask the man himself for a selfie. £35.99, available from Waitrose

Quality and quantity

‘Bolney wine estate, West Sussex, Est 1972, now 2nd generation making good sparkling and still’*. Go large, the magnum of Blanc de Blanc 09 with 5 yrs bottle age makes it into Hugh’s recommendations. Easier to get hold of is the 2010, £26.99 from www.bolneywineestate.com

HUGH’S BOOK

For endless sparkles of wine-wisdom and a charming read for any food and wine lover, delve into Hugh Johnson on Wine, Good bits from 55 years of wine scribbling, RRP £20.

*Quote from, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2017, RRP £11.99. A must for those in the trade.

SSSsssshh! SHOOT SECRETS

What can I say, any form of fizz doesn’t hang around long in Britalian Kitchen. Bring in the cold tea, soda water, tonic (that I found under the stairs) , a straw and Alka-seltzer:

img_3863

Advertisements

Tomato update!

Elena crop

So back in May while Elena got more cuddles than the most cuddled person ever. I jumped to work to help Uncle Mario plant the tomato seedlings. I have no idea why, but this caused  much amusement amongst Giuseppe’s family (probably something along the lines of….’crazy English woman – she’s meant to be relaxing’).

Tomato plants

I pushed in the holes using a homemade wooden planter tool-thingy. I don’t know a lot about gardening (as you may have guessed) but he must have turned the earth religiously as it was really easy – super satisfying work.

I was thinking I was doing him a massive favour, when I was called for, ‘Latte! Latte!’ – unfortunately not as in the Costa-type but as in to feed the bambino. I told him I’d be back in 10 minutes. I came running back to find he’d finished. Not sure he really needed any of my ‘help’.

Anyway we’ve had an update! I think it means the plants are doing well!

Check out Mama Romeo’s recipe for Simple Italian tomato salad

 

 

 

Loved-up syllabubs!

Yay! Shiny chocolate hearts – nailed! Oh Mr Paul Hollywood I am in love with your method for tempering chocolate. So simple, so clear.

unnamed-1

Tempering chocolate

‘Break 150g/5½oz of the plain chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate reaches a melting temperature of 47C/115F (use a kitchen thermometer to check). Remove the bowl from the heat, add the remaining 50g/1¾oz of chocolate and stir until the chocolate has cooled to 31C/90F.’ From the Great British Bake Off, ‘Chocolate Creation Showstopper’ cake.

For Loved-up syllabubs:

Coat silicone heart moulds with tempered chocolate. Chill until set. Remove and fill with strawberry flavoured syllabub. Use a turkey baster to inject a little fruit coulis into the centre of each, cover with a little more strawberry syllabub. Invert and serve with a small glass of lemon syllabub and fresh strawberries. Decorate with fresh mint sprigs.

unnamed-2

 

#36 FOOD NEWS: Costa v’s Poundland!

They say (whoever ‘they’ are), we’re shopping around more for our weekly food shop to find the best deals. With that in mind I thought I’d do this for my somewhat Britalian treat.

I love a little sit-down in Costa with a large cappuccino and the Victoria sponge-style Mini lemon and raspberry cake.

cappucino

vic sponge

At £2.65 for the cappuccino and £2.50 for the cake, this *cough, cough* little treat is more of a whacking great, big, fat indulgence. So I took a hop, skip and a jump over to neighbouring Poundland. Oh my! Here’s what a found!

1 Victoria sponge cake (enough to serve at least 6!) for er…. £1

cake and coffee crop

12 sachets of instant cappuccino for yes you’ve guessed it … £1

CAKE -17p per serving
COFFEE – 8p per serving
TOTAL – 25p per serving

That’s 20 Poundland cups of coffee and 20 slices of cake for my £5.15!!!

cake crop

I think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship… tinned tomatoes, McVities Cheddars, Jayne Asher cake-pop holders, cupcake boxes, cake boards, *high visibility vests … Hhumm perhaps I should get back to Costa before I spend £10 on stuff I don’t need!

http://neilmossey.blogspot.co.uk – I can confirm I saw high-vis vests (and arm bands!)

Costa pics: www.costa.co.uk

#35 FOOD NEWS: Mum’s super 70’s savers!

shopping final I always remember loads of veg and good home cooking when I think of mealtimes as a kid. So, with a January budget to stick to and a new years resolution to eat more veg, me and mum grab a cuppa and chat through a typical weeks food from ‘the good ol’ days’ when anything that resembled granola was firmly meant for the budgie. I’m loving the retro shortcuts in this little lot! Make sure you stock up on them – recipes on links below.

SUNDAY – Roast chicken

Good sized chicken for a roast (this is going to make three meals), so spend out on a good quality free-range chicken. Serve with roast potatoes, carrots, Paxo stuffing balls, parsnips and Brussels sprouts (or the veg of your choice).

Retro shortcut: Paxo paxo final

MONDAY – Leftover chicken and leek pie

Fry leek, onion and mushroom, stir through the leftover chicken and Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup. Fill a homemade pastry case with the filling. Crimp the top to seal. Brush with milk and bake. Serve with cabbage and mash.

Retro shortcut: Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup campbells final

TUESDAY – Chicken broth

Boil the chicken carcass, with stock (made from 1 oxo stock cube) and veg, such as potatoes, parsnips, swede, carrots, onion (whatever veg you have – or possibly buy a stew pack) add a little Bisto for colour and cornflour paste to thicken (if necessary). This definitely sounds free-style: ‘add soup – packet or canned, until you have an appealing colour!’

Retro shortcut: Oxo stock cube oxo final

WEDNESDAY – 70s Spaghetti bolognese

(Italian In-Laws turn away now!) Make up a packet of (1 pint) Knorr minestrone soup with a little less water than stated on the packet. Fry off the mince with carrot and onion, drain off the excess fat. Stir through tomato purée. Add the minestrone soup, frozen peas (or sweetcorn) and mushrooms. Serve with spaghetti and grated cheddar.

Retro shortcut:  Knorr minestrone soup

THURSDAY – 3 bears pies Fry off mince with diced carrot and onion. Drain excess fat. Meanwhile make up a Bisto paste (!). Put 2-3 dessert spoons of Bisto in a cup and stir through a small amount of water until you have a paste, add to the mince, stirring. Cook for 3-4 mins. Roll out homemade shortcrust pastry. Cut out 7-8 circles (using a saucer as a template). Fill one half of each pastry circle with the mince, fold over and crimp to seal. Bush with milk and bake. Freeze any leftover pies. Serve with mash and veg.

Retro shortcut:  Bisto gravy granules bisto final 1

FRIDAY Grilled pork chops, tomatoes and chips (Friday treat).

SATURDAY Sausages with onion gravy, mash and cabbage.

Retro shortcut: Mum’s fave makes another appearance! Bisto gravy granules! bisto 2

The whole lot aside from store-cupboard staples, a packet of mince and a packet of sausages (which I already had) came to £33.10. I don’t think that’s bad! All meals will feed at least four – as there’s two of us I’ve included some freezer notes on some of the recipes. Very handy – I won’t need to cook hardly at all next week!

#30 Food News: Britalian Kitchen opens its doors to Hersham’s answer to Posh & Becks!

Every monday

I like to go for a menu that I know means I can enjoy the party (well a good old catch-up with our mates Nic & Dave – who happen to look a bit like posh and Becks). Who wants to be running out to attend to a flaming souffle or cracked Macarons? Definitely not me.

nic and dave - crop

 

Britalian Kitchen’s crispy mushrooms with Italian flag dip

This is what is what I’m talking about. Prepare the pea dip ahead. Everything else takes minutes to prepare and cook when you need them

Jamie’s Hunter’s chicken stew

As the man himself says, ‘It looks after itself in the oven.’ Always a winning attribute for me when having guests.

Ingredients - strip1

2 kg chicken jointed, or use the equivalent amount of chicken pieces
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 garlic cloves, peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
1/2 a bottle Chianti
flour, for dusting
extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
a handful of green or black olives stoned
2 x 400g tins good-quality plum tomatoes

1 Season the chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and put them into a bowl. Add the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs and the crushed garlic clove of garlic cover with the wine and leave to marinade for at least an hour, but preferably overnight in the fridge.

Chicken legs

2 Preheat your oven to 180’C/ 350’F/ gas 4. Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Dust the chicken pieces with flour and shake off the excess. Heat an ovenproof pan, add a splash of oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over [I didn’t have a large enough flameproof oven pan, so I transferred the meat into saucepans for this stage] and put to one side.

chicken hob crop

3 Place the pan [or the largest saucepan you have] back on the heat and add the sliced garlic. Fry gently until golden brown, the add the achovies, olives and tomatoes (broken up with a wooden spoon) and the chicken pieces with their reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid or a double thickness of foil [or bring to the boil, then transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover with the foil] and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

chicken cooked

4 Skim off any oil that’s collected on top of the sauce, then stir to taste and add a little salt and pepper if neccessary. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, and serve with a salad [and bread for mopping up all those lovely juices!], or some cannellini beans, and plenty of Chianti.

Recipe: Pollo alla cacciatora from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver

Britalian kitchen’s cheat’s panacotta with couture chocolate curls

And for dessert, another one to prepare ahead. Just whip them out when you’re ready [the desserts!].

#28 FOOD NEWS: Squeamish? Turn away now!

Cakeageddon

Dead horse cake anyone? Oh yes, it’s that time of year when Miss Cakehead is on the rampage cooking up a sponge-based storm for Halloween. Standalone farm in Letchworth Garden City has been transformed into the stuff of edible nightmares!  An installation of live killer clowns, hanging dead pig cakes and spooky tunes promises to give every sense in your body a wake-up call. The best bit is when it’s all too much you can calm yourself by stuffing your face with cake (with or without chocolate maggots). From now until 1st Nov. For more info and to book tickets visit:

http://www.letchworth.com/heritage-foundation/artsandculture/cake

A sneak peek:

PIgs strip

Pig cakes from @tattooedbakers

skeleton dog cakes

Skeleton dog gingerbread from Jacqui Kelly of Totally Sugar

Rotting woman cake

Rotting sleeping beauty cake legs

guinea pig final strip

Gory guinea pig cakes from Angela Romeo @britaliankitchn

rotting rabbit

Dead rotting rabbit cake from themiragecakecompany.com

cupcakes crop

An assortment of gruesome cupcakes from Jacqui Kelly of totallysugar.co.uk

Town or country!

If you can’t make it to Standalone farm Londonites will pleased to know that Miss Cakehead hasn’t forgotten the capital – there’s an equally gruesome pop-up cake shop at The Den @ Hoxton Hotel (a brand new, suitably dark and mysterious room) where you won’t be disappointed at the twisted treats on offer! From now until the 1st Nov. For opening times visit http://cakeageddon.com/cake-shops/ 

 

The Challenge: Father’s day menu

Due to the nature of the blogging beast, I’m wanting to share my Father’s day menu but I won’t be able to put the complete recipes and pics up until after the event! But read on if you’re just looking for a bit of inspiration. I’ll post the full recipes after all the blog assets are bagged! You can keep them in your back pocket for next year!

Fish finger

STARTER

Mini fish finger open sarnies

Who doesn’t love fish finger sandwiches? When my 8 year old Italian nephew came to stay last year, on tasting one for the first time, he fell in love too! Giving this British classic an Italian twist (and to make sure we don’t get breaded out) I’ll be serving them up bruschetta-style on thinly sliced ciabatta with a spoonful of garlic mayo.

MAIN

Beef & Stilton shirt & tie pie

When it comes to dinner for dad – it has to be pie. I’m playing safe with ‘dad flavours’, but I’ll be getting creative with the pastry!

Pie1

PUD

Espresso blancmange martini’s

Rabbit mould

Bring back blancmange I say! In an attempt to stop myself reaching for the rabbit mould, I’m going to up the style-stakes by adding a touch of coffee and a dash of Martini. Also love hearing Giuseppe say, ‘Eh? Blamon!?!’

 

shutterstock_153710111