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Educational Play with Schleich I'm a big fan of learning through play. Unforced educational play. I'm not a teacher and I don't want to be. I want my children to naturally learn whilst they are having fun. When I was contacted recently...

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Say Eh-Oh to the new Teletubbies toys! There back!! Teletubbies made a joyous return to CBeebies last year, and this year marks the launch of the new range of toys. As you know I was sent a box just before Christmas, and today I can finally...

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Travel: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough Last weekend Nana and I took a rather lengthy journey north for a night away at the Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Scarborough, with Little Dude in tow. The Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is a luxurious country hotel...

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A Place To Enjoy My Garden I love my garden. I love the fact that I have a garden, especially with the recent gorgeous weather we've been having. Whilst I have a pretty compact garden, there's a lot going on out there. Plants, fruit...

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Cuddles With Ben Cohen Some days I have a really difficult job. Days like this for example. *Ahem* That rather nice young man is former rugby player Ben Cohen. Ben is a bit of an expert when it comes to cuddles. He has...

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#LeanOnTurkey : Marco Pierre White Christmas Masterclass

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Brit Mums Live, Christmas, Foodie | Posted on 24-09-2013

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Ah Christmas. The one time in a year that most competent cooks go totally bonkers and freak out at the sight of a turkey. When all knowledge of the previous 52 weeks worth of roast dinners leaves their brains and they turn into a gibbering wreck. We’ve all been there. But its not that hard, I promise. Its basically just a giant chicken, so why does the idea of Christmas lunch cause a sense of dread and panic? Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club and the rather fancy “Marco” restaurant to meet the man himself – Marco Pierre White – and learn his tips and tricks for creating the perfect Christmas lunch without the stress. Now Christmas lunch doesn’t really fill me with dread – like I said, its a giant chicken – but I know it does intimidate a lot of people, so I wanted to be able to pass on some pearls of wisdom from an expert.

Marco Pierre White is probably one of the most intimidating people you’ll ever meet. He has a definite presence when he enters the room, and there was generally a sense of hush and awe when he wandered in, apart from the muffled squeals of one over excited blogger who spent a good part of the day trying to find ways to declare her undying love for him. I’m not sure if she succeeded…

There were 21 bloggers at this event and so we were split in to two groups for our masterclass sessions. Our group went first and we were allowed access to Marco’s kitchen where we stood listening to his tips for the perfect Christmas lunch whilst watching him in action. As you can see here, there was a lot of knife wielding involved – nobody was brave enough to point out the handle end – as we watched him cook turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy.

Marco’s Top Tips:
* Remove the legs and wings of the turkey before cooking, or simply buy a turkey crown. Nobody really wants the brown meat, and it will speed up the cooking process. He cooked our turkey in about an hour and a half! The best way to find out if your turkey is done is to invest in a meat probe and use that in the thickest part of the bird to ensure its properly cooked and at the right temperature.

* To stuff your bird use a 50/50 mix of Paxo – yes, he did specifically say PAXO – and the best sausage meat you can afford – there’s is from a posh place in Chelsea, mine will probably come from Asda…. You can also add chopped onion or herbs if you wish. Don’t use as much water as the Paxo instructions tell you, but otherwise do as it says on the packet.

* Marco’s Cranberry Sauce is made using 500g cranberries, 250g sugar, 100ml port and 100ml of orange juice. Simply boil the fruit and sugar together until you get a runny jam consistency. Take it off the heat to add the port and orange juice, and stir it all together. You can make this in advance and store it in your fridge in a sealed jar for up to a month. It also makes a nice gift if you put it in a fancy jar.

* The gravy was made from the chopped up bones from the legs and wings of the turkey which Marco removed at the start. He added onion, garlic, water, butter and bouillon. He thickened it to taste with cornflour. He did mention that we could use Knorr stock pots instead of bouillon if we preferred. No surprise there though!

Christmas lunch truly can be simple. It can be calm and it can be stress free. Now admittedly Marco cooked this in a quiet kitchen apart from having ten bloggers looking on, and he did have ONE thing that none of us will have on Christmas morning to help us. Marco has Roger. Roger has been working with Marco for 25 years, and there is a sense of “old married couple” about them. Roger is his right hand man and I get the impression he’s pretty indispensable. Despite many pleas, Roger is not available to hire out for special occasions, nor is he free Christmas morning to do all the hard work so we don’t have to.

After watching Marco – and Roger – cook, we got to eat which I think most people were rather keen on. We watched as the food was carved in the kitchen, plated up school dinner style – a fairly orderly queue was formed – and then we were dispatched back to the dining area to enjoy our meal with the odd glass of wine. Here’s my first Christmas lunch of 2013.

Yes I know, there’s no potatoes. Much devastation on my table about the lack of potatoes. It was, as expected, delicious. Was it the best Christmas lunch I’ve ever tasted… I’m not sure to be honest. My Mum is rather good at Christmas lunch to be fair. It was really nice though, and the cranberry sauce was very tasty. I don’t tend to enjoy homemade sauce, but this was simple and one recipe I will be doing this December. I’ll probably also be found mixing sausage meat with Paxo – other stuffing brands are available… – to make my stuffing. The idea of just cooking the turkey crown is interesting, especially with the speed of cooking factor. I do like leftovers though, so I’m not sure if I could get on board with this totally. In fact after Christmas Day you can generally find me stood by the open fridge picking bits of cold turkey from the carcass for ages!

This Christmas Day there will be me, Daddy, Little Man, Nana and Pops for lunch. I will certainly be using some of the tips and ideas I picked up on the day, and I hope you all will too. Most of all, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas – when it gets here! – and a wonderful New Year.

One last photo – the obligatory shot I think.
#LeanOnTurkey

 

Happy Birthday Total Greek!

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Blogger Event, Foodie | Posted on 14-06-2013

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I was very lucky last night to be invited to the Total Greek Birthday Bash, celebrating 30 years of Total Greek Yogurt in the UK. At a venue in Central London a small group of food bloggers gathered for a special masterclass from Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard. After arrival drinks we watched as Eric took two sponge cakes and sliced them into horizontally before layering them with a mix of Total Greek Yogurt and cream and fresh fruit. Each sponge layer was brushed with a naughty sugar syrup mix laced with ouzo, before the whole cake was surrounded by white chocolate cigarellos and topped with fresh fruit and a special gold leaf caramel. As you can imagine it looked amazing. And he then told us that WE had to replicate it. Mild panic set in amongst the bloggers at this point!

As you can see our stations were well equipped with all the ingredients, a selection of fresh fruit, and plenty bowls, knives, spatulas and piping bags. Having never used a piping bag before I was rather worried, but thankfully the piped cream mix was inside the cake so you can’t really see it. I must confess that it was A LOT of fun. Intimidating yes having Eric wandering around whilst you worked but he was really lovely and offered motivational advice when needed. It was all a bit “Generation Game”-esque with about 10 people frantically making their own cakes but working so close together meant we could all help each other out when needed.

Clearly Eric’s cake looked stunning. His is the one on the left here, and mine is the one on the right.

Now I must admit that I’m rather proud of my cake. Neat cake decorating is not something I do. I tend to bake with a toddler “helping” so it all becomes a bit carnage like. This is the poshest cake I’ve ever decorated in my life. My caramel shards do look a tad menacing compared to Eric’s more delicate ones, but you can probably blame Tea, Cake and Make for that, with whom I shared caramel making and breaking duties! I’ll be tucking in to this cake this evening – its currently being hidden from Little Man!

After the cake decorating extravaganza the room was transformed into a Greek haven, with music, cocktails and delicious canapes courtesy of Tonia Buxton. A lovely evening of food, drink and excellent company followed. A fantastic party and a brilliant way to celebrate Total Greek.

Book Review: The Boy Who Bakes by Edd Kimber

Posted by SussexMummy | Posted in Book Review, Information | Posted on 18-09-2012

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For anyone heading to the sold out Cake & Bake Show this weekend – I’ll see you there! – one of the main attractions will be Edd Kimber, winner of the first series of the Great British Bake Off. He’ll be speaking at the show, showing off some of his baking skills and signing pre-release copies of his brand new book “Say It With Cake” which is due for release in October. He’ll also be signing copies of his best selling first book, “The Boy Who Bakes”. Here I take a look at his first book, just to whet your appetites before this weekends show.

“The Boy Who Bakes” features a range of recipes, from well known classics to some lesser known recipes, all featuring Edd’s personal twist. Recipes for cookies and traybakes mix with cakes and desserts, but every one tempts me to make it, which makes this a great book. I liked the fact that I hadn’t heard of some of the bakes, some hailing from around the globe. As well as being a delicious book, it was also a bit of an education.

Edd was famous in the Great British Bake Off for his macarons, and continues to be so, holding masterclasses in London. Macarons are one of those things I’d love to attempt but they look a bit tricky. What I love about Edd’s book is that he really focuses on the techniques involved in baking and creating cakes. I haven’t done so yet, but maybe one day I’ll brave a batch!

“The Boy Who Bakes” is available from most good bookshops now, and you can find Edd now on Twitter and via his Blog.

October 25th sees the release of Edd’s brand new book “Say It With Cake”. Here’s a peek of the cover. The book will feature on here soon.