Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Slow Cooked Challenge - October 2014

New logo and new rules!  The Slow Cooker Challenge had morphed into The Slow Cooked Challenge in order to include those who don't own an electric slow cooker.  So from now on, although I will mainly be cooking my dishes in my slow cooker, you can also choose to cook your recipes in a low oven, in a hay box, in your Aga or on top of the stove on a very low heat.

The theme this month is OPEN, which means you can enter any slow cooked recipe that you like.

If you would like to take part, then please: 

  • Make your recipe in your Slow Cooker or other slow cooking method and post a photograph and the recipe, or a link to a recipe, on your blog
  • Link to Farmersgirl Kitchen
  • Use the Slow Cooked Challenge logo in your post
  • If you use twitter, tweet your post with @FarmersgirlCook and #SlowCookedChallenge and I will re-tweet it to my followers AND post your picture on the dedicated Pinterest Board. 
  • Please do not publish recipes from cookbooks on your blog without permission, they are copyright.
  • If you are using recipes from another website, please link to the recipe on the website rather than publishing the recipe.
  • One entry per blog.
  • Recipes must be added to the linky by the 28th of each month.
Can I also bring your attention to the Slow Cooker Friday's LInky Party  hosted on Facebook at Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops.  I've been linking up and finding some great recipes too. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Chocolate Cherry Brownies and The #Bakeface

Welcome to THE BAKE FACE!  It's what happens when a delicious Billington's bake meets a face, and the face just doesn't know what to do with itself. Here's my BAKEFACE!

You can vote for my BAKEFACE at the Billington's site
voting closes 05/10/14

Billington's Brownies

Prep 12 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Serves 12

250g Billington's Unrefined Dark Muscovado Sugar
200g unsalted butter
350g 70% dark chocolate, chopped into pieces
3 medium free range eggs
50g self-raising flour
100g Billington's Natural Glace Cherries (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 190C (170C Fan)/gas mark 5, and line a 20cm square tin with baking parchment
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
3. Whisk the eggs until pale and fluffy.  Add the dark muscovado sugar and whisk until thick.  Gently fold in the chocolate mixture.
4. Sift in the flour and fold in until the mixture is smooth.  Mix in the glace cherries.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, until you see a paper-like crust on top.  There should still be some movement in the centre of the tin.
6. Remove from the oven, leave to cool, then cut into squares.

These are really squidgy brownies, I think if I was making them again I would give them a little longer, they are more like a dessert than a cake, very rich and indulgent - gorgeous!

Follow @BillingtonsUK #bakeface

I received a hamper from Billington's to make these Brownies

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Slow Cooker Challenge Round Up - September 2014

Things are still a little 'slow' in the world of this blog challenge but three generous bloggers have slowly and lovingly cooked some melt in the mouth treats for you.

Dear Dominic of Belleau Kitchen, was determined that he was going to enter my challenge, even though he does not own an electric slow cooker.  His dogged determination paid off and I've decided to change the rules from now on to include any slow cooked meal, not just those cooked in a gadget for the purpose.

And so I present to you Dom's Slow Roast Chicken Thighs with Plums, Carrots, Potatoes, Garlic and Celery

Brisket is one of my favourite cuts of beef and I know that it is also one that Karen of Lavender and Lovage likes to cook with too.  It's ideally suited for slow cooking and Karen has make a fabulous one pot meal in her Crockpot: Slow Cooked Brisket with Elderberry Glaze and Port Jus

Lucy of Baking Queen74 joined in with a great week night supper dish, ideal when running around delivering children to various activities.  This Slow Cooker Pork Leek and Apple Casserole will be piping hot and ready to eat at the end of a busy day.

Thanks so much to all three  for entering.  The new challenge will be launched on 1st October welcoming entries from any meals cooked slowly whether in a Slow Cooker, Crockpot or any other method.  In the meantime check out the back list of round ups for some great slow cooked recipes.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Speedy Smoked Trout Fusilli

I think Smoked trout should be as popular as smoked salmon, it's a delicious and delicate fish and very versatile.  British Trout is a sustainable super-food, tasty and affordable and perfect for anyone seeking healthy, fast food.

This recipe is really quick and easy to make, if you get the pasta on to cook, you can be getting the vegetables cooked and the sauce prepped at the same time.  Your prep will take the whole recipe to about 10 minutes, but only five to throw it all together making it an ideal mid-week dinner.

Fusilli with Smoked Trout
Serves 4-6

2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 leek, cut into matchsticks
2 celery sticks, cut in to matchsticks
150ml/ 1/4 pint / 2/3 cup vegetable stock
225g/ 8oz/ smoked trout fillets, skinned and cut into strips
200g/7oz cream cheese
150g/ 1/4 pint/ 2/3 cup medium sweet white wine or fish stock
15ml/1tbsp chopped fresh dill or fennel
225g/8oz/2 cups fusilli or other dried pasta shapes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh dill sprigs, to garnish

1. Put the carrot, leek and celery matchsticks into a pan and add the stock.  Bring to the boil and cook quickly for 4-5 minutes, until most of the stock has evaporated/ Remove from the heat and add the smoked trout.
2. Put the cream cheese and wine or fish stock into a pan over a medium heat, and whisk until smooth.  Add the dill or fennel and salt and pepper.
3. Cook the fusilli in a pan of salted boiling water according to the instructions on the packet, When the pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite, drain it thoroughly, and return it to the pan.
4. Add the sauce, toss lightly and transfer to a serving bowl.  Top with the cooked vegetables and trout.  Serve immediately, garnished with the dill sprigs.

For more recipes visit for more information

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

10 reasons to love Street Food with Scotch Lamb

Reason 1 - Getting invited to a Scotch Lamb Street Food Festival
We all enjoy a Sunday roast, but it was so much fun to try some more adventurous dishes made with lamb at the Scotch Lamb Street Food Festival.  The Street Food Festival was tucked away in a venue in the West End of  Glasgow, an area which I thought I knew quite well, but  this was a place I had never been to, it was all a little bit mysterious  The Studio Warehouse  is right at the end of a lane,  next to a fast main road, the Clydeside Expressway, and beside some old fashioned arches.  However it was an ideal space for an indoor Street Festival, and it was just as well it was indoors as it was pouring with rain when we arrived just after 11am.

The food for the Street Festival was provided by The Street Food Cartel who served up a specially created menu from four of their most popular street kitchen stalls.

Reason 2 (Top left): Antojito Cantina, Barbacoa lamb in soft tacos, with sour cream, guacamole and pico di gallo.  This wasn't easy to eat as the meat was in a fairly wet sauce, but it was really full of flavour, not too spicy, and the toppings really made it.
Reason 3 (Top right): So La Ti Dough, Lamb Shoulder slow roasted in the wood fire oven with vine tomatoes, rosemary and garlic.  Focaccia baked to order. The lamb was thickly cut and tasty although, I would have preferred a stronger rosemary and garlic flavour coming through coming and it wasn't the easiest to eat with a wooden fork and no knife!  The tomatoes were lovely.
Reason 4 (Bottom left): Pad BKK, Lamb Massaman curry with jasmine rice, Thai prawn crackers, crispy shallots, peanuts and herbs. The Pad Thai was super delicious, tender lamb with a sweet and spicy sauce, the prawn crackers, spring onions and chilli added a beautiful texture to the dish and the rice soaked up the sauce.  This was an outstanding dish.
Reason 5 (Bottom right): Scoop Silver Bullet, Braised neck fillet of lamb, ras el hanout, pomegranate and sultana cous cous.  We both loved the lamb cooked with Moroccan spices, it was perfectly balanced with tender spicy lamb and a delicious couscous, the slight acidity of the pomegranate was the perfect foil for the meat.

It was a close call for first place between the Morrocan flavoured dish and the Pad Thai, both tasted amazing, I think I liked the Pad Thai best and Brian preferred the Morrocan Lamb.  I have to point out that, although we had the opportunity to eat whole dish of each to ourselves (or more) we really couldn't have managed it, so apart from the initial tacos, we shared each of the dishes.

Reason 6 - There are many different cuts of lamb  and your butcher can advise you which to choose.  Some of the bloggers at the Street Food Festival took the opportunity for a lesson in butchery.  It was a pretty comprehensive lesson which took around an hour and those who took part learned to debone a leg of lamb, muscle by muscle.  I would have had a go, but when I saw how much time was involved, I decided just to observe!

Reason 7 - Chef Jacqueline O'Donnell's fabulous recipes and cookery demos for Scotch Lamb
The main attractions for me were the cookery demonstrations by Chef Jacqueline O'Donnell of the Sisters Restaurant.  Jacqueline shot to fame last year with her appearance in the Great British Menu when she won the Scottish round but, unfortunately, her dishes didn't make it through to the final dinner.  I met Jac at the Highland Show and loved her down to earth attitude and treasure trove of useful hints and tips. I think she should have her own TV series.

Reason 8 - You can cook Scotch Lamb quickly
The Scotch Lamb dishes that Jac cooked this time were lamb loin with caramelised sweet potato served with couscous.  We learned about resting the meat to let the temperature equalise right through the meat.  Jac also told us some gems about 'keeping the flavour in the pan', for example by cooking the sweet potatoes in a little stock before caramelising them in the pan, then using the stock for the couscous.

Reason 9 - You can cook Scotch Lamb slowly
Even more exciting for me was the rolled shoulder of Scotch Lamb which Jac had slow cooked until it was falling apart, then wrapped tightly in cling film while warm so it cooled in a cylinder shape.   Once cold it was then cut into thick slices, pan fried, and served with a Thai inspired sauce which included lime, ginger and fish sauce.  The lamb was incredibly tender and the sauce had a lovely balance of sweet, sour and salty.  I'll definitely be making this dish.

Reason 10 - The 'Scotch Lamb' name means quality is assured
The quality assurance scheme means that only animals from farms that meet the assurance standards are eligible to be classed as Scotch Lamb. Quality Meat Scotland inspect these farms annually and only then can the classification  ‘Scotch Lamb’ be awarded to those sheep that have been born and raised on assured Scottish farms.

I was a little disappointed that we weren't able to take away the recipes for the demos and the Street Food dishes, I have asked and will share any I make.  In the meantime there are plenty of great recipes on the Scotch Beef and Lamb site.

Many thanks to all at Scotch Lamb, Quality Meat Scotland and The Street Food Cartel, for a very tasty way to spend a Saturday, eating and learning about Scotch Lamb. It was also great to meet some bloggers I follow online but hadn't met before: Rachel from A Wee Pinch of Sugar, Michelle from Ananyah, Sarah from Glasgow Mummy and the glorious red head, Get Stuffed (sorry I didn't catch your proper name!).

I was invited to the Street Food Festival by Scotch Lamb, I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Kellie's Tomato Tart - a last taste of summer

As soon as I saw the photograph pop up in Facebook I knew that I had to make this tomato tart.  If you haven't visited Food to Glow then you have a treat in store because Kellie makes beautiful food which is also very healthy.

Get the recipe here Tomato Tart with Seed and Nut Herb Crust

I'm adding this to Bookmarked Recipes the challenge to help you used those recipes you've saved, whether in books, magazines or online.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Wine, Chocolate, Green Tea, Noodles and Nuts on My Kitchen Table in September

Welcome to my kitchen table, if you haven't visited before then let me tell you that this is where I review a variety of different products that have been sent to me and I'd like to share with you.

So let's start with a nice chilled glass of wine.  I wasn't able to attend the Matua Sessions launch, but I was offered a bottle to try in the comfort of my own home!  Matua are a New Zealand Winery and the Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is fresh with a real citrus zing, reminiscent of grapefruit and perfect for a warm summer day, an ideal match for fish and seafood. 7/10

Ever thought you might like to be a Chocolatier?  Well you can design your own chocolate bar without all the hassle of tempering with Chocolat Chocolat.  The website is easy to navigate and you can choose both the base chocolate for your bar from different types of chocolate, dark,  white  and caramel chocolate, then you choose from a variety of toppings.  Here is what I chose:

Bar 1 - 70% Dark, toppings - apricots, pecans and amaretti biscuit crumble
Bar 2 -  34% Caramel , toppings - Cappucino Buttons, Honeycomb and caramelised almonds
Bar 3 - 55% Dark, toppings - cinnamon, cardamom and chocolate coffee beans

I usually prefer dark chocolate, but I also loved the caramel bar with it's sweet and crunchy toppings.  This would be a perfect gift for a chocolate lover, or a special treat for yourself.

One custom bar costs £5.95, two custom bars cost £10.95 and three custom bars cost £14.95

As well as ordering online you can visit the Chocolat Chocolat shop in Cambridge for the full range of glorious chocolately goodness.  9/10

It's no secret that we are lovers of really good tea.  Brian is particularly keen on chinese green teas and he was so impressed with the Emperor Sampler Set from Adagio Teas.  This Sampler contains generous portions of the following:

  • gyokuro - Deeply sweet, aroma of freshly buttered greens - no grassiness or harshness. Soft with a balanced, delicate finish.
  • jasmine chun hao - Sweet perfumy cup, notes of warmed sugar, slightly toasty like a fresh biscuit. Light, refreshing and not overwhelmingly floral.
  • jade snail - The tightly rolled fuzzy buds unfurl to deliver intricate notes of roasted nuts, soft smokiness and a hop-like crispness. Delicate yet bold.
  • dragonwell - Inviting, toasty aroma and sweet rounded flavour. Nutty, buttery texture, pleasantly dry finish.

We loved them all, but the dragonwell was probably the one that came out top in our tasting test. the Emperor Sampler costs £13 for four teas 62g , Dragonwell costs £15 for 85g which works out at 40p per cup  8/10

I must now declare that I have NEVER eaten a Pot Noodle in my life!  So when I received a pack of Itsu Crystal Noodle Cups  I was somewhat sceptical.  However, I was pleasantly surprised as the broth, which comes as a paste in a foil pack, was really very delicious and had not artificial flavours or after-taste.   I adored the 'spork' which was really necessary to drink the soup and fish for the noodles,even better each cup is only 171 calories.

Itsu Crystal Noodle Cups are available from Ocado at £2.29 per cup (currently on special offer for £1.75) 7/10

Nuts are such a great ingredient in recipes and also a delicious snack on their own.  Jumble Bee nuts are available through Tesco stores with 175g packs retailing for £2.39.  I decanted a portion of nuts into a small plastic box and took it to work to keep me going through the day.  The nuts were lovely and fresh and the fruit soft and sweet, absolutely delicious.  8/10

I hope you have enjoyed my eclectic mix of foodie treats this month.  I'll be back with more in October.  

I was supplied with these products for review, I was not paid and all opinions are my own. 
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