Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream: April Roundup

We might not have had quite enough sunshine this month to really make us yearn for light, bright and refreshing sorbets, granitas, shaved ice desserts, slushies and spooms but that hasn’t stopped us from getting creative in the kitchen.

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Here are all the entries, in the order they were posted. If you like what you see, do pop over to the participating blogs and leave them a nice comment.

I’ll be posting the May challenge in a day or two!



Solange from Pebble Soup was very fast off the mark, posting her entry only two days after the challenge was announced! Solange has combined rhubarb, currently in season in the UK, with ginger in her rhubarb and ginger sorbet, a marriage made in heaven. But fiery ginger can easily overwhelm and she advises that less is more for this recipe. I love the pretty pink colour she has achieved in her finished sorbet; it looks so pretty!


Soma is the author of the vibrant eCurry blog, home of Indian recipes and more. Her blood orange granita with ginger and orange mint is suitably colourful and really brought to life by Soma’s beautiful photography. And I was intrigued by her mention of her new orange mint plant. I’ve grown peppermint, spearmint and even chocolate mint, but had not come across this one before. Of course, I want to grow it myself now!


Rosana, author of Hot & Chilli blog, is a party girl – whenever I see her she has a huge smile for the world and a glass of something tasty in her hand. So the fact that she’s turned to the national cocktail of her birth country, Brazil, for inspiration, is no surprise and her caipirinha sorbet with caramelised lime peel is rather appealing. The key components are cachaça, a liquor made from fermented sugargane juice, as well as sugar and lime.


Given that the very name makes me giggle, I knew from the start that I had to make spoom! I decided on lemon spoom based on a classic lemon sorbet, mainly because I had some frozen lemon juice lurking in my freezer. To my delight, the addition of raw meringue to the sorbet really made a difference to the texture, making it smoother and lighter. I’ll definitely spoomify future sorbets, now I know!


Millie from Kitchen Princess Diaries made a gin and tonic sorbet. Not enough gin, she said, but otherwise very refreshing. She used a BBC GoodFood recipe which she followed exactly and you’ll find the link to it within her post.


As I said, we’ve had a lot of rain this month, but the sun has been shining now and then. I think Jo’s lemon and lime sorbet is just the ticket for a sunny day, light and refreshing. Jo, who writes the Comfort Bites blog, only recently bought herself an ice cream machine, and has busily been churning out ice creams such as blueberry, vanilla and chocolate, so I’m hoping she keeps up the momentum and enters upcoming challenges too.


Unsurprisingly, given that his blog is called Pete Drinks, and he’s rather a fan of beer, my husband Pete decided on something beery. A Zebedee beer slushy, in fact. With no real idea on how to make it, he decided to pour a bottle of his homemade Zebedee Spring Ale into a plastic container and shove it into the freezer for a couple of days. Fortunately, with the help of a fork it flaked very well. As it froze, it separated a little, and the more concentrated beer defrosted to create a beery syrup that collected at the bottom of the glass.


Dom from Belleau Kitchen is my blog brother, that is to say our blogs share the same birthday, though he’s at pains to point out, in the blogging world at least, I’m the older, creakier one! His apple and rhubarb sorbet is the very essence of Britain, so it’s rather appropriate that he posted it on St George’s day. He adds cinnamon to complement the fruit and just enough sugar to retain the balance between sweet and sharp.


I had never heard of a Vitamix blender until I read Donna’s post on her blog Beating Limitations. But Donna is a huge fan and uses it to create everything from smoothies to curry paste to milling her own flour! For this month’s challenge, she used the blender to make a simple and refreshing orange sorbet, using honey in place of sugar to sweeten the mix. I bet the pear and honey sorbet she’s envisioning will be great too!

Donna has also been inspired by previous challenges, but missed the deadlines for the roundups, so I’d like to draw your attention to her cookie dough ice cream and her coconut pineapple ice cream posts, both of which look delicious.


So many of us growing herbs really don’t make the best use of them, but that’s not something Shaheen, author of Allotment2Kitchen could be accused of. She’s put her rosemary to good use in popcorn, hot drinks, puddings and scones. I really like her idea to make lemon and rosemary sorbet, combining the sharp citrus flavour with the savoury, woody herb. Shaheen’s method is also a reminder that you don’t need an ice cream machine to take part in BSFIC as she puts her freezer and food processor to good use.


Tales of Pigling Bland is a great name for a blog, no? Taken from the Beatrix Potter book first published about 100 years ago, it’s written by Gill, who also goes by the nickname of Pigling Bland. Having wussed out of making ice cream last month, Gill created a chocolate cherry granita using up a store cupboard jar of cherries in brandy, as well as cocoa, sugar and water. She also added some cocoa nibs over the top of the finished granita “to make it even more grown up”.


Pam, author of Sidewalk Shoes, loves all things frozen so just had to enter BSFIC when she found out about it. She turned to ice cream guru David Lebovitz’ book The Perfect Scoop, looking for a recipe she could make from ingredients already in the house. The chocolate coconut sorbet she made looks lovely and I particularly love her beautiful photography. Fans of cold deliciousness should read the next post too, in which Pam makes lemon frozen yoghurt.


There’s Proper Food In There Somewhere is the home of Jacqui aka Sushi Junki.  Jacqui’s entry makes me very happy because it completes the challenge options of sorbets, granitas, shaved ice desserts, slushies and spooms by putting forward a shaved ice dessert, something Jacqui fell in love with whilst living and working in Australia. Jacqui used her food processor to blitz ice cubes into ‘snow’ and then drenched the shaved ice with green tea syrup and condensed milk. She added sweetened adzuki beans, halved lychees and fresh ripe mango.


Finally, Jennie from All the things I eat made a blackcurrant and cherry brandy spoom. She made a proper Italian meringue for her spoom, boiling up sugar syrup and adding it to the whipped egg whites and whipping some more. The sorbet was made using frozen fruit mixed with cherry brandy and lemon juice and blended into mush before being frozen briefly to make it a little more solid. Combining the two together resulted in a light, “frozen mousse” dessert.


I’m usually rather strict about the deadline – call it the school marm in me – but when Laura from How to cook good food dedicated her very first creation using the ice cream machine she was given for her birthday just a few days ago to the BSFIC challenge, how could I say no? So I’m adding Laura’s lemon and ginger sorbet to the round up a few hours late. Happy belated birthday, Laura!


And there we have April’s Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Umami Restaurant, Crowne Plaza Hotel, South Kensington

Having accepted an invitation to review Umami restaurant, events (at my end) conspired against me and it was some weeks before I could reschedule a visit. By that time, my internal monologue had done a Chinese Whispers number on the cuisine of the restaurant from Asian to Indian, so I was quite surprised to discover on arrival that it offers dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Oh and I went to the wrong tube station too, convinced it was closest to South Kensington but discovering on arrival that it’s right around the corner from Gloucester Road.

And if I ever took in that the restaurant was in a hotel, I’d forgotten that as well, though I quickly worked it out when I arrived. The restaurant is to the right of the entrance, and the reception and lobby to the left and both are open to each other.

The decor is modern East Asian, nothing unusual, quite attractive. My booking is for lunch so lots of light spills in from large windows in the traditional Cromwell Road facade. The restaurant is empty, and until my friend arrives, the waiter and I are the only people there. Later, a family of three arrive – and that’s it for the duration of our long and leisurely lunch.

If you’re looking for a buzzing atmosphere, this isn’t it.

But if the food is key, then you may agree that Umami is well worth a visit.


Black Midsummer Mango tea (£3.85) takes me back more than 20 years.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would take the train into London and mooch around Camden Market. I always took the opportunity to visit a tea stall in the Canal Market, run by an elderly gentleman who was charming and enthusiastic about his tea. I always bought his black mango tea, plus one or two others and was very sad when, one year, I discovered him and his stall gone.

I may have to investigate where Umami source this one from, as I’d like to buy some for home!

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My friend arrives and we indulge in cocktails, a Lychee Martini for her and a Great Lotus for me. At the moment, these are the only two cocktails available, so here’s hoping everyone likes lychee liqueur as it features in both. The martini mixes the liqueur with Martini Rosso and gin for a sweet cocktail with a slightly bitter and spicy aftertaste. Mine is a combination of lychee liqueur, vodka, grenadine and cranberry juice and is sweet and refreshing.

The starters are available in small (£3 – £5) and sharing (£5 – £9) sizes. We opt for small ones, so we can try more dishes, and our waiter recommends a couple more to add to our list.


Thai Calamari (£5) in a sweet basil, garlic and peppercorn sauce has a fantastic depth of flavour. The thick brown sauce is tangy, sweet and smoky. What excites me the most are the tiny peppercorns – they burst in the mouth like fresh vegetables rather than the shrivelled berries I’m used to, yet have the familiar taste of pepper! I’ve since discovered you can buy these in the UK, from Thai and Chinese grocery stores.


Chicken Satay (£3) is not like the usual chewy affair. The tender chicken skewers have been grilled rather than fried, and taken off the heat before they become tough. Often, the only flavour I can detect is of the peanut sauce itself, but this time the marinade comes through too.


I’ve never come across Tempura Lychee (£3) before. The lychees are stuffed with minced prawn and chicken, then battered and fried and served on top of a thin slice of scallop. Both of us really like the unusual combination of sweet exotic lychee with a savoury filling.


Roti Canai (£5) is a Malaysian dish which originally hails from India, brought over in the early 19th century by Indian immigrant labourers. The buttery, flaky flatbread is just like an Indian paratha and this is served fresh and hot with a thick, yellow dal described on the menu as an “Indian dipping curry”. Both are very good. Although I know that Indian food is very much a part of Malaysian cuisine, it’s still strange for me to encounter Indian flavours in a menu of East Asian dishes.


Gado Gado (£6) is an Indonesian salad of warm crunchy vegetables tossed in a tamarind and peanut sauce. This one features tofu, which I love. It’s a simple dish, where the fresh taste and texture of the vegetables is paramount.


The Keropok prawn crackers (£2) are light and spicy. They’re the style found in Thai restaurants, and far less greasy than the white ones served in UK Chinese restaurants.


The Ped Makham (£12) is a beautifully presented plate of seared duck with tamarind sauce, served over crunchy strips of mange tout and sprinkled with deep fried shallots. The duck is well cooked, pink and tender. The sauce is sweet, sour and intense but neither sickly nor greasy. This is fantastic!


Gang Kiew Wan Gai (£5 / £9) Thai green chicken curry with pea aubergines is a beautiful shade of green, far more vibrant and fresh than the usual pale green offering. The flavour is similarly striking, with fresh herb flavours in a nicely balanced paste. It’s sweet and sharp, not sickly sweet, and has a nice level of chilli heat. The meat is meltingly soft. I’d say the pea aubergines are underripe though.

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The Satong Sumbat (£14) is unlike anything I’ve had before and I’m grateful to our waiter for recommending it. Baby squid are stuffed with spiced mince chicken and slow cooked in a spicy broth within a clay pot. The squid casing is soft, the filling is intensely savoury, my friend giggles as she describes it as “really chickeny” but I know just what she means. And that sauce, over some Steamed Fragrant Rice, is fantastic.


The Sambal (£1) is another of our waiter’s ‘must have’ recommendations and again, I’m glad of his advice. This condiment is popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Sri Lanka but the version presented to us is a Malaysian sambal belacun, made with 13 ingredients, of which our waiter can recall chillis, onions, star anise, cinnamon and of course, belacun – fermented ground shrimp. I think sugar and lime juice are also commonly included. Whatever is in it, we both love the spicy, sweet, salty sauce, particularly because it is the flavour of the chillis rather than excessive heat that comes through.

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Surprised by our own greediness, but tempted because of how good everything has been so far, we decide to squeeze in dessert. The Kuih Dada (£5) is a Malaysian dessert of pandan-flavoured crepes filled with coconut and palm sugar. This is another intense dish, and we love it. The shredded coconut is soaked in a caramelly palm sugar syrup. Fabulous!


Our last choice is a scoop of Stem Ginger Ice Cream and one of Green Tea Ice Cream. It’s telling that, although we agree that the stem ginger is the weakest thing we’ve been served throughout our meal, there’s nothing really wrong with it – although it has a hint of “perfumed soap” about it, it does taste of stem ginger, as expected. The green tea ice cream is better, with a clean matcha flavour, though it doesn’t quite live up to the best green tea ice cream I’ve ever had, which I experienced at Kimchee recently.


It’s hard to comment on service as we were the only diners in the restaurant for most of our visit and our lovely waiter, Kenneth, knew we were on a review visit. However, he clearly had an excellent knowledge of all the dishes on the menu and was able to tell us more about all those we asked about, and give us personal recommendations.


Often there are one or two stand out dishes that make me want to return to a restaurant. Here, it’s hard to narrow it down and I’d go back for the calamari and lychee tempura starters, the Gado Gado salad, all three of our main dishes and that coconut palm sugar crepe, all of which were utterly delicious.

Kavey Eats dined as a guest of Umami restaurant.

Umami on Urbanspoon

Charlotte’s Bistro, Chiswick

Charlotte’s is just the kind of bistro I’d love to have locally to me.

It offers thoughtfully designed and lovingly produced dishes in a convivial atmosphere. Service is from enthusiastic and friendly staff. Pricing, for London, is very reasonable.

My misfortune is the residents of Turnham Green’s fortune, as the restaurant is located in this residential neighbourhood of Chiswick.


Just inside the entrance is a cosy bar area with seating. Stairs lead up half a level, to a larger restaurant section, most of which sits beneath an enormous skylight, letting in lots of natural light, or a view of the night sky.

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Cocktails to start, and there are some very innovative ones on the list, including my Venezuela Port (£7.50) featuring rum and fresh lemon curd which tastes just as you’d expect. It’s not visually very attractive but it tastes fabulous! Pete’s Rhubarb Fizz (£7.50) with fresh ginger root, poached rhubarb, rum, rum orange liqueur, lime juice and a Prosecco top is also deemed rather tasty, and has the added bonus of looking rather splendid too.


A board of bread and butter is brought out with our aperitifs, and the bread is excellent – fresh, great texture and good flavour.


Once we’ve made our menu selections, with the help of our waiter, we are served an amuse bouche, which is essentially a smaller portion of one of the starters we didn’t choose – parsley soup with a crisp bread topped with egg, bacon and some other bits and pieces.


Although the Vacherin fondant I’d been recommended by a friend is no longer on the menu, its successor, the Charlotte Potato & Goats Cheese Fondant . Wild Garlic . Grapefruit . Asparagus (£8) is very similar and absolutely fantastic. A feather-light, crispy shell releases a flood of soft melted cheese. The warm vegetable salad and dressing match it very well. This dish is a true winner.


I order the Beetroot Poached Salmon . Fennel Preserve . Burnt Orange Purée . Watercress (£8), asking for the chef to skip the fennel preserve, as I’m not a fan of aniseed flavours. When the waiter delivers the dish, he has brought me the preserve in a side dish, so I can try it if I’d like to, which is a nice touch and one I appreciate. The plating is really pretty. I really enjoy the plump, fresh pieces of salmon which have picked up a little sweetness from the beetroot. For more sweetness there are quenelles of beetroot puree and to balance in the other direction, the most amazing little dots of burnt orange puree. These are a revelation for me, as I assume on first glance that such tiny spots are purely decorative, but quickly realise they are sufficiently intense to come through very clearly on the palate. Also on the plate are dollops of sour cream or crème fraiche, with a welcome fresh acidity.

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In the main, my Gilt Head Bream Fillet . Shellfish Bourride . Squid & Pork Dumplings . Paprika Aioli (£16.50) is excellent. The fish is perfectly cooked, the flesh soft and tender but not mushy, and the skin crunchy crisp. Beneath it is the shelfish bourride, with lovely small mussels and clams. The problem for me is the cubed squid and pork dumplings which are ever so salty, so much so that I have to leave them uneaten.


The side of purple sprouting broccoli is cooked simply, and not overdone, so the crunch of fresh vegetable comes through.


Although tempted by the Glazed Scotch Bavette . Ox Cheek Bordelaise . Bone Marrow . Watercress & Shallots (£16) Pete decides in the end to go veggie for his main as well, choosing the Organic Spelt Risotto . Cheddar “Gratin” . Cévennes Onion . Lime . Charred Spring Onion (£14.50). Though a touch heavy-handed on the salt, the risotto is very tasty. The slices of onion are fabulous, with all the deep flavours and none of the harshness of some onion varieties. The spring onions are a little tough but with great flavour.

Our amuses, starters and mains were served in very quick succession. But, after ordering our desserts, we have a long wait, longer than is comfortable, and am just looking to catch someone’s eye to ask after them when they finally arrive.

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My Bitter Chocolate & London Porter Ice Cream . Treacle . Fleur De Sel . Sesame Cracker (£6) is a dish of two halves. The sesame cracker is deliciously thin, crispy and tasty. The chocolate mousse to one side gives me a deep, rich, dark chocolate hit. The salty nuts on the plate are lovely. But the scoop of London porter ice is so disappointing. On the flavour front, I pick up only a mild taste of chocolate and the porter doesn’t come through at all. More of an issue for me is the grainy texture, with big ice crystals right through it.


Pete’s Amalfi Lemon Curd . Lavender Meringue . Shortbread . Raspberry Sorbet (£6) on the other hand, is marvellous. All four elements are absolutely excellent in flavour and texture and go together beautifully. In addition, it looks stunning on the plate.


So, some great cooking, with lots of highlights and just a few dips. And, best of all, a chef who is creating some innovative dishes, rather than serving the same old same old.


On the drinks front, Pete is impressed with the wine list, in particular the ability to order wines by the 375 ml carafe (equivelant to half a bottle). He also appreciates the number of affordable options, with many bottles priced at less than £30.


In terms of pricing, the a la carte prices I’ve listed are more than reasonable for the quality of cooking, so no quibbles there – a three course meal ranges from £27 to £33.50.

But Charlotte’s becomes an absolute bargain if you go for lunch or an early evening dinner; the price for dinner drops to £26 per person, including an aperitif and lunch is a crazy good deal at 2 Courses for £12.95 and 3 for £15.95, ordered from the regular a la carte menu.

Talking to owner Alex Wentham after our meal, we learned that he is planning to further simplify pricing by setting a fixed price regardless of choice. Given that there is only 6.50 between the least and most expensive selections, that makes perfect sense.

Kavey eats dined as a guest of Charlotte’s Bistro.

Charlotte's Bistro on Urbanspoon

New Covent Garden Company’s Soup of the Month

The New Covent Garden Soup Company have recently launched an idea to community source a new soup each month. The winning soups will be sold nationally as Soup of the Month specials.

Recently, they asked me to get involved in trying the shortlisted soups for their first such soup, which will be on sale in August. The competition theme was "Fetes, Festivals & Shows" and they asked people to submit soup recipes which celebrate British summer time, something they would be proud to present at any local fete, festival or show.

Once the entries were all in, they started by narrowing down the entries to 5 or 6 which were made up in their test kitchens to the consumers’ exact recipes. These were then narrowed down to the three with the most potential to appeal to their customers, and the recipes were tweaked to ensure good quality results when made in the factory, in larger volumes. They tasted their own versions against the submitted recipes again, to ensure they were true to the originals, and then sent them to me to review.

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Tim Doran’s Summer Heat soup combines roasted red peppers with tomatoes, spinach, asparagus, onion and stock with a whole scotch bonnet chilli to add heat. Crème fraiche, basil, lemon juice and seasoning are also included.

Lisa Aimal’s Courgette & Camembert soup adds onions, chicken stock and crème fraiche to the two signature ingredients of courgette and camembert.

Abbie Eales’ Fezziwigs Coconut Shy soup includes sweet potatoes, ground coconut, chicken stock, ginger, garlic, cayenne and paprika.


I enjoy Tim’s Summer Heat, but for me, it’s something best suited to cooler months, when the heat from the scotch bonnet can help warm me up. That said, the red peppers and tomatoes are reminiscent of warm Mediterranean sunshine.

Lisa’s soup combines two of my favourite ingredients, but lacks punch in terms of flavour. Neither the courgette nor the camembert really shine; perhaps they are a little too watered down by the onion, stock and crème fraiche. Almost there, but not quite.

My favourite is Abbie’s entry, which is, as she describes, "sweet and spicy and exotic enough to bring up images of sunnier climes". I also really like her note that it works well both hot and cold, and indeed I tried and enjoyed it both ways. Today’s Britain is multicultural, and many ingredients from around the world have found a place in our regular repertoire.

Abbie’s original recipe, as submitted to New Covent Garden Soup Company, is below.


The New Covent Garden Soup Company are now calling for entries for their October soup of the month, the theme of which is Halloween. The deadline for entries is May 10th and you are encouraged to get creative with the name of your soup as well as the recipe!


Abbie Eale’s Fezziwigs Coconut Shy Soup

500 ml chicken stock
3 large sweet potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
100 grams ground coconut
100 mls hot water
1 inch of root ginger, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking instructions

  • Put the ground coconut in a bowl and add the hot water to rehydrate it. Leave for 20 minutes.
  • In a pan heat the sunflower oil and lightly fry the onion until it becomes translucent.
  • Add in the chopped garlic, ginger, cayenne and paprika and fry quickly.
  • Add in the coconut and water mixture, and stir for a minute until it thickens slightly.
  • Pour in the chicken stock and heat until it starts to simmer.
  • Add in the cubed sweet potato. Leave to cook until the potato is nice and soft; about 15-20 minutes.
  • Use a hand blender to blitz your soup. I like it with a bit of texture still, so you can tell there is ground coconut in it rather than coconut milk.
  • Serve hot or cold.

Kavey Eats received samples from the New Covent Garden Soup Company. Recipe reproduced with permission.

Pete Drinks a Finalist in Saveur’s Blog Awards 2012

As some of you will know, my husband Pete started blogging about beer as a guest writer here on Kavey Eats back in June 2010. A year later, he was writing so regularly that it became obvious that he should launch a blog of his own. Pete Drinks went live in October 2011 with the Great Alcoholic Ginger Beer Taste Test.

That was just 6 months ago!

Since then, he’s branched out further and now shares posts about beer, whisky and his homebrew efforts. There are even occasional food posts, where alcohol is a key ingredient, of course!

I know I’m biased… but I think his blog is pretty good, so when I saw Saveur magazine invite nominations for their 2012 blog awards, I went ahead and nominated Pete Drinks. The magazine received nearly 40,000 submissions across its 16 award categories before narrowing the field down to just 6 finalists in each category. Just being in those 96 is a great achievement!

For those who don’t know Saveur, it’s an internationally renowned food publication, written and produced in New York, but with a global focus. The content is informative, interesting and well-written and I have been enjoying the online site for quite a while.

So, late one evening, just as we’re about to go to bed, Pete turned to me and asked me, “Have you heard of a save-you-er dot com? I wonder if this is spam, they’ve just tweeted me about some award voting thing…”


“Whaaaaaaaaat?!”, I squealed in disbelief and ridiculous excitement. And proceeded to tell him exactly who Saveur are, just how amazing this was and that yeah, in my opinion, it’s a pretty big deal to be selected as a finalist! It was a few hours before I calmed down enough to sleep!


To view all the finalists in all the categories, do visit the site, and of course, add your votes. You will need to register with the website, but it’s a very quick process and doesn’t require the normal rigmarole of waiting for a confirmation email, clicking on the link and so on.

Check out all six finalists in the Best Wine or Beer Blog category, and if you think Pete deserves your vote, so much the better!

Voting closes on the 26th April so if you’re planning to participate, do get your votes in soon.

Feel the Heat: Capsicana Chilli Co. Competition (CLOSED)

The Capsicana Chilli Company sells, you guessed it, chillies!

I used Capsicana’s chillies in anger, so to speak, when I made Valentine Warner’s carne con chile recipe a few months ago. The smells they released during cooking were heady and the flavour they gave to the finished dish was wonderful. The ancho poblano chilli brought a distinctive dried fruit flavour and the chipotle a wonderfully smoky kick.

Most of the product range is from Mexico and includes familiar names such as ancho poblano, chipotle and habanero (which smells like chocolate!) Capsicana also sell a selection of herbs and spices, including spice mixes.

Capsicana Group pack shot


The best way to learn the distinct characteristics of these different chillis, herbs and spices is to cook with them yourself so I’m delighted to be able to offer not one, not two, not three but four Capsicana Chilli Co. sets to readers of Kavey Eats.


Each prize set includes the following products and is worth over £40! UK delivery is included.

  • Chillies – Ancho Poblano, Bhut Jolokia, Cascabel, Chipotle, Guajillo, Habanero, Pasilla, Piquin
  • Herbs & Spices – Mexican Oregano, Annatto Powder, Epazote, Mexican Cinnamon
  • Mixes – Fajita Mix, Salsa Chilli Kit


You can enter the competition in 2 ways.

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, answering the following question:
What recipe(s) would this selection of Capsicana chillis, spices and herbs inspire you to cook?

Entry 2 – Twitter
First follow both @Capsicana and @kaveyf accounts. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter!
Then tweet the (exact) sentence below:
I’d love to win chillies, spices & herbs from @Capsicana Chilli Co & Kavey Eats! #KaveyEatsCapsicana


  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Monday 14th May 2012.
  • The winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • The prize (of which there are four) is a selection of chillies, spices and herbs, as listed above, and includes delivery to a UK mainland address only.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for cash.
  • The prize is offered directly by the Capsicana Chilli Company.
  • One blog entry per person only. One twitter entry per person only. You do not have to enter both ways for your entries to be valid.
  • For twitter entries, winners must be following both @kaveyf and @capsicana accounts at the time of notification, as this will be sent by Direct Message.
  • Blog comment entries must provide an email address for contacting the winner. For those leaving a comment using their Google ID, please make sure an email address is visible directly in your profile.
  • The winners will be notified by email or twitter. If no response is received within 5 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.
  • 29/4/12: Please note that the deadline for this competition has been extended from the original deadline of 4th May to 14th May and an extra prize set has been also added.

*If you don’t have a secondary email address already and are nervous about sharing your main email address on the internet, why not set up a new free email account on hotmail, gmail or yahoo, that you can use to enter competitions like this?

The four winners of this competition are Girish Balachandran, Angela Currie, Ruth Bourne and @snarepuss.

The Art of Tea Blending

I love tea and I love history. I even love browsing through antiques fairs and admiring beautiful old things such as Georgian wooden tea caddies. But I’ve never thought much about the way in which tea was consumed in the past, though I do know that tea drinkers used to buy loose tea and blended different varieties and styles together themselves to create their perfect brew.

Today, it seems that only the big tea companies retain the art of blending, which is primarily a way for them to ensure consistency of taste for their consumers in the face of differences in the quality and flavours of every harvest.

But of course, tea is also still blended by tea masters – artisans, if you like – looking to create something that is more than the sum of its parts.

Just like in the world of whisky, there is something to be said for blends and there is something to be said for single estate teas. The former allows a master blender to achieve a more complex finished tea, with the best possible aroma, mouthfeel and taste. The latter allows the consumer to enjoy the distinctions that come from different climates and growing techniques, what the French describe as terroir, and appreciate the skills of the individual producer.

I’ve always loved tea, and have been enjoying a wide range of loose leaf teas since I was a teenager, when I used to buy packets of assam and darjeeling and mango tea from an elderly stall holder in Camden Market. But I’ve never thought to combine more than one together to create my own blend.

The Tea Board of Kenya sent me three Kenyan black teas to try just that.


On the left is Kaamba, in the middle Marinyn GFBOP and on the right Kenya Estate Milima.

(GFBOP = Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe, learn more here).

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I opt to leave the leaf tea at the bottom of the cups, where it quickly settles during the brewing time.

Before I can do any blending, I need to assess the individual teas.


The Tea Board of Kenya describes Kaamba tea as having “a very malty flavour with light hints of currant“. I find just a hint of malt, and a fair bit of tannin. The overall taste is very one dimensional; it strikes me as a very simple “black tea” kind of taste. The tea liquor is the darkest of the three.


Of the Marinyn GFBOP, they tell me that it’s grown in the highlands at altitudes of up to 9000 feet and is a “strong, brightly flavoured tea with a sweet quality“. Certainly it has a sweetness on the nose and in the taste. It’s a far more complex tea than both the others, with a lovely hint of citrus reminiscent of bergamot. The colour of the tea is a pretty copper or amber.


Apparently the Kenya Estate Milima is a very rare tea with a large loose leaf, has a “full, slightly malty flavour” and is “fruity and spicy with some sweet floral notes”. I do get lots of malt in the aroma but it doesn’t come through on the palate. In fact, this tea has very little flavour at all and I certainly don’t detect malt, fruit, spice or flowers.

My Blend

Because the Kenya Estate Milima tastes of so little, I exclude it from my blend and combine one part Kaamba to two parts Marinyn GFBOP. Immediately, I see that the tea has a rounder flavour. The Kaamba provides a rich backbone onto which the Marinyn GFBOP layers its sweet, floral properties.

With so many loose leaf teas in my cupboard, I’m certainly enthused to try my hand at blending teas from different growing countries and regions and even different types of teas such as black, oolong, green and white.

Have you ever blended two or more loose leaf teas to create your own cuppa? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Kavey Eats received tea samples courtesy of The Tea Board of Kenya.

Lemon Spoom: (Meringue-Softened Sorbet)

Until I set the April Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge, I’d never heard of spoom.

But as I checked the definitions for sorbet, granita and shaved ice, I saw a mention of spoom and followed the link to spoom’s own wiki page.

I learned that spoom is a frothy sorbet, once very popular in England. Like sorbet, it is made from fruit juice, wine, sherry or port. As the mixture begins to set, it is mixed with Italian meringue. It is served in a tall glass, often with a little champagne spooned over the top. The name comes from the Italian spuma (foam).

Of course, I couldn’t resist! As I had some lemon juice in the freezer, I decided to make a lemon spoom.

Because I left things later than I planned, once I had made my sorbet I popped it into the freezer overnight, and continued the recipe the following day. Of course, that meant the sorbet had frozen too hard to easily mix the meringue into it, so I left it out to thaw a little while, then used my Magimix food processor to give it a blitz, thinking its motor would easily handle this. I was wrong, the blade stuck in the sorbet, slipped off centre and shredded the spindle very badly. I suspect the cost of repair will be prohibitive. *cry* So do give yourself time to finish the whole process in one go.


Both Pete and I really loved the result, essentially a lighter style of sorbet with an incredibly silky, smooth mouthfeel. We tasted the base sorbet before and after, and were impressed enough with the results that I’d definitely ‘spoomify‘ sorbets in the future.

Note: As the egg whites are not cooked in this recipe, this may not be suitable for pregnant woman, or anyone with a weak immune system. You may wish to make an Italian meringue, cooking the egg white by adding sufficiently hot sugar or sugar syrup.


Lemon Spoom: (Meringue-Softened Sorbet)

Ingredients for sorbet
150 ml lemon juice
300 grams caster sugar
450 ml water
Ingredients for spoom
Lemon sorbet (above)
3 large egg whites
50 grams caster sugar
0.25 teaspoon cream of tartar


  • Put the sugar and water into a pan on low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Once cool, churn the lemon syrup in an ice cream machine until it firms into sorbet.


  • As the sorbet is churning, prepare the meringue:
  • Beat the egg whites until frothy and add the cream of tartar.


  • Increase the speed (if you’re using a mixer) and add the sugar gradually.
  • Continue to beat the eggs until they form glossy, stiff peaks.
  • Once the sorbet is finished churning, tip into a large mixing bowl, add a third of the meringue and beat together. This should loosen the sorbet.


  • Now carefully fold in the remaining meringue and mix together very gently.


  • Either serve immediately, in tall glasses (with or without a little sparkling white wine spooned over), or pour the soft mixture into a suitable container and freeze for one to two hours.


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Rich, Comforting Chicken Savoyarde

Tamasin Day-Lewis’ Chicken Savoyarde recipe appeals to me for more than one reason.

Firstly, the initial part of the process is essentially how I already poach a whole chicken, so the recipe lends itself very well to being made with leftovers. (I’m sure it would work with roast chicken leftovers too).

Secondly, it features chicken, cheese, cream, white wine, mustard, bread and tarragon – what’s not to like?

And thirdly, a friend made it for me for dinner once, and I absolutely loved it!

I adapted Tamasin’s recipe by poaching my chicken in my usual slow cooker way and using only half of the meat from my smaller whole chicken, along with some of the poaching liquid stock. I also switched both the parmesan and gruyere to comte, as I had some in the freezer. And lastly, I substituted dried tarragon for fresh, as the supermarket was out of stock when I went to buy some. Apparently, there’s been a shortage!


This is a very simple dish and doesn’t take long to make, especially if you have a food processor to grate the cheese and make breadcrumbs.


Chicken Savoyarde

Adapted from original Tamasin Day-Lewis recipe, here.

Serves 3-4

350-400 grams leftover roast or poached chicken meat, chopped into bite sized pieces
40 grams breadcrumbs
25 grams comte cheese, grated
butter, for greasing
For the sauce
45 grams butter
35 grams plain flour
300 ml chicken stock, heated
190 ml dry white wine
170 ml double cream
75 grams comte cheese, grated
2 heaped teaspoons French mustard
2 level teaspoons dried tarragon
salt and pepper, to taste



  • Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Keep the heat low to medium, to avoid browning.
  • Add the warm chicken stock, the white wine and the cream and stir thoroughly to combine with the flour and butter roux.
  • Stir in the cheese, mustard and tarragon. Taste and adjust seasoning.


  • Cook for a further 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Meanwhile, butter a gratin dish and spread the chicken meat across the bottom.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken.

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  • If you are preparing the dish ahead of time to bake later, stop at this stage and store the dish in the fridge until ready to cook. Whilst the oven preheats, finish the preparation, as follows.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and cheese evenly over the surface of the sauce.

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  • Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling around the edges.

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This is fabulously delicious, though not one for those watching waistlines! We used the chicken fat skimmed off the poaching liquid stock to roast some potatoes to serve with the chicken.


Please excuse the poor quality of images, they were taken on my ancient mobile phone!


I’m submitting this to Can Be Bribed With Food’s new Love Food Hate Waste challenge and Fabulicious Food’s Family Friendly Fridays event.

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Slow Cooker Poached Chicken

I came across the idea to poach a whole chicken in a slow cooker on the old BBC Food Chat discussion boards a couple of years ago and since then, have used the technique regularly, as an alternative to roasting and other recipes.

Not only is the meat – breast included – wonderfully soft and moist, the cooking liquid becomes rich and delicious stock! And you can leave the slow cooker on for hours while you get on with other things.

Oh and the carcass can go back into the slow cooker to make a second portion of stock. Yes, even after long and slow poaching, there’s plenty of flavour left in the remains and no, the resulting stock is not insipid. Although it does have far less gelatin than the original poaching liquid stock, it’s still great as a soup or risotto base.

A very loose recipe…

  • Make sure you know the size of your slow cooker when you’re buying your chicken! I buy 1.5 to 2 kilo birds, in general.
  • Peel and chop some root vegetables and an onion.
  • Place the vegetables and chicken into the slow cooker. I usually put a layer of vegetables below, then the chicken, and then stuff the rest of the vegetables around the sides.
  • Pour in water to come about two thirds of the way up the chicken. (Check your slow cooker instructions for recommendations on maximum volume of liquid).
  • Cook for several hours. I usually start on high for the first couple of hours and then turn to auto or low for another 4 or 5 hours.

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  • Take care removing the whole bird from the liquid. Once cooked, it will be so tender that most of the joints will fall apart very easily, and indeed my bird has broken into pieces more than once at this stage. Using two large slotted spoons works well.


  • Separate the meat from the bones, tendons and skin. I find two spoons the best tool for this job, or fingers if you wait until it’s cooled down.
  • Strain the poaching liquid through a muslin-lined sieve and divide into 2 or 3 portions. Store in the fridge or freezer.
  • Divide the meat into portions and store the extra in the fridge or freezer.
  • Put the discarded skin, bones and tendons back into the slow cooker with fresh water and leave on overnight for a second portion of stock.

This time, I served the meat plain some buttery mashed potato and the onion, carrots, swedes and leeks the chicken was poached with.


Sometimes I make a crunchy spring or summer salad instead, with ingredients such as thinly sliced raw red onion, fresh raw sugar snap peas, halved cherry tomatoes and a simple vinaigrette dressing.

This time, the left over meat from this chicken went into an absolutely delicious baked chicken dish, which also used half of the poaching liquid. Watch this space for the recipe!

Please excuse the poor quality of images, they were taken on my ancient mobile phone!