kaveyeats

 

Sous-vide is a wonderful cooking technique, but it’s not an ideal option for anyone tight on either budget or space. Our ‘prosumer’ water bath (the SousVide Supreme) is the size of a small microwave and has a list price on the wrong side of £370. Even disregarding the price angle, kitchens are already groaning under the weight of numerous popular appliances; the need to find space for a bulky water bath next to the toaster, the food processer, the stand mixer, the blender, the microwave, the deep fat fryer, the rice cooker, the juicer and the slow cooker rules out a traditional sous vide machine even for many who can afford it.

Hang on a minute… the slow cooker… the slow cooker is half-way to a water bath already; it’s a large container that can heat liquid (such as water!) for hours at a time.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a small device that could convert an existing slow cooker to a sous vide water bath by way of accurately controlling the temperature of the water inside? Well of course, that’s where Codlo steps in.

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Official product image; my Codlo in our Kitchen (don’t look at the un-grouted tiles!)

Codlo is one of those ideas that’s really obvious once someone else has had it, not to mention done all the hard graft in getting it to work. This clever device turns your slow cooker – or rice cooker, or tea urn, or anything else that holds and heats water – into your very own sous vide water bath. Essentially Codlo is a small plug-in gadget with a temperature probe which allows it to turn the power of the attached appliance on and off and on in order to achieve and maintain your target temperature. That’s the theory but how does it work out in practice?

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Codlo and glass slow cooker (image provided by Codlo, mine was completely out of focus!)

The short answer is, remarkably well.

In the name of science, we cooked two identical steaks (here’s my guide to cooking steaks sous vide) – one in our SousVide Supreme and the other in our venerable old Breville slow cooker attached to the Codlo. After cooking one steak in each bath, we fried them together in the same pan for exactly the same amount of time before tucking in to a delicious dinner, each of us eating half of each steak. We genuinely couldn’t perceive any difference in the end result; texture and level of cooking were identical.

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That’s not to say that the Codlo-controlled Breville performs identically to the SousVide Supreme. Firstly, it takes a little longer to come up to temperature – but that’s understandable, as our slow cooker is a 290W model and we ran it on Low (we will try the High setting next time) whereas the SousVide Supreme is rated at a much higher 550W. Given that sous-vide cooking is usually a long process, adding an extra 15 minutes at the start isn’t a big deal for us. Of course, this difference also depends on what appliance you plug the Codlo into – a more powerful appliance will likely reach temperature just as quickly as the SousVide Supreme.

Also worth noting is that the temperature in the Codlo-controlled Breville takes a little time to settle; it (deliberately) sails past the target by a couple of degrees, drops below it when the food is added and gradually heats back up again. However, once it’s settled at the target temperature – around 10-15 minutes on our slow cooker’s Low setting – it’s rock steady, varying less than the SousVide Supreme. And the food seems to be none the worse for wear because of that initial temperature variance. The makers of Codlo advise us that the device adapts to each individual cooker it is attached to so these times will likely vary depending on the appliance you use.

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In addition to the Codlo controller, there is also an accompanying cookery book – Codlo Sous-Vide Guide & Recipes – full of information on the sous vide cooking technique, on temperatures and times for different types of foods and lots of tempting recipes. This would be useful not just to Codlo users but to anyone starting out in sous vide cooking and I’m hoping to share a recipe or two from the book soon.

Codlo does everything it promises, turning inexpensive equipment we already owned into a functional sous vide water bath, with results that equal our bulky and pricy prosumer alternative.

Kavey Eats received a Codlo for review purposes. RRP is £119 but Codlo is currently available at the pre-launch price of £99.

 

Green smoothies are all the rage.

But I’ve just not developed a taste for kale, spinach, broccoli or any other green vegetable in my smoothies and prefer to stick to my fruit concoctions.

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A banana is a great start to the day. In recent years, bananas have received some bad press because they do not score as low on the Glycaemic Index (GI) as many other fruits and vegetables. But, as this really excellent guide explains, there are weaknesses in using the GI to assess food – you have to eat a lot more of some foods to hit the 50 grams of digestible carbs on which the score is calculated than you do for others – although bananas have a GI score of around 50 (depending on ripeness) you’d need to eat 3 bananas to hit that 50 grams of digestible carbs. It’s also worth remembering that the GI doesn’t take into account the nutritional benefits (or lack of them) of different types of food – crisps are only a touch higher than bananas in terms of their GI score! A banana for breakfast not only keeps me feeling full for quite a few hours, it is also a good source of fibre, potassium, magnesium and vitamins C and B6.

Recently I’ve been drinking even more matcha than usual, after writing an article all about it for a recent issue of Good Things magazine. Although the method of grinding tea leaves into a powder originated in China, it was not until the practice reached Japan by way of Zen Buddhist monks that it developed into the drink we know today. Matcha is traditionally made by stone grinding green leaves of shade-grown tea (gyokuro). Before grinding the leaves are dried, de-veined and de-stemmed, in this state they are known as tencha. Growing tea in shade slows down the growth, stimulating an increase in chlorophyll levels. This turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids, in particular L-Theanine, which provides a distinctive umami flavour. L-Theanine is also claimed to reduce stress, sharpen cognitive performance and improve mood, especially when combined with caffeine, as it is in matcha.

Prunes – dried plums – have long been used as a mild natural laxative, although there’s no real evidence that they’re any more effective than other fruits and vegetables that are good sources of dietary fibre, bananas included. But I love their rich flavour, and they’re a great natural sweetener.

Of course, the dark colour of prunes turns what would otherwise be a brighter green smoothie into a less visually attractive brown one, so feel to substitute with dried dates or apricots, or a generous squirt of honey or maple syrup, each of which will create a quite different flavour profile for your 3 ingredient smoothie.

3 Ingredient Breakfast Smoothie | Banana, Prune & Matcha

Ingredients
1 large banana, peeled – about 125 grams peeled weight
2-3 teaspoons matcha (Japanese green tea powder)
60 grams pitted dried prunes*
1 cup of water, or more for a thinner smoothie

* substitute with dried dates, dried apricots, honey or maple syrup if preferred.

Method

  • Place all ingredients into a blender and blitz until smooth.
  • Pour into a glass and drink straight away.

Tip: My Froothie Optimum power blender makes quick work of even the toughest dried fruits, but if yours is not as effective, soak the dried fruits in water for 30 minutes before blending – you can use the soaking water in the smoothie too.

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For more fruit smoothie inspiration check out:

 

You can take the girl out of Luton…

Smack in the middle of the eighties – which I still hold to be the best decade, musically and fashion-wise (though I admit to harbouring some bias on this) – I did a German Language Exchange Trip through my secondary school. Luton and Hamburg were an odd pairing; the kids of that rather attractive northern German river port city must surely have been a tad disappointed when they discovered that the attractions of Luton amounted to little more than a biscuit-shaped pincushion in the local museum and a pink flamingos fountain in the Arndale shopping centre.

The (frankly marvellous) pink flamingos have long since gone, which is a huge shame as they were one of Luton’s best (if not only) attractions.

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Worried I might be imagining the biscuit-shaped pincushion (though my little sister remembers it too), I made a call to the museum last week and was delighted to hear back from one of their specialist curators that they do indeed have a biscuit-shaped pincushion in their collection (though it’s not currently on display). It dates from around 1870 and was produced as an advertising product by Huntley, Albert & Palmers. I should add at this point that the museum did, of course, have a great deal more on display than the biscuit-shaped pincushion, including no-doubt-excellent exhibits about the local hat- and lace-making industries for which Luton was, once upon a time, quite famous. It’s just that, as a teenager, little of this captured my attention; I’d probably appreciate it much more today!

And, by the way, did you know that the expression ‘mad as a hatter’ originated in Luton?

Anyway, back to Germany…

I’d actually already dropped German from my curriculum by the time the trip came around. We signed up for the exchange in our second year but travelled in our third by which time, having mastered only ‘ich liebe dich’ and ‘du bist eine dumme ganz’, I decided to focus on French, which I found immeasurably easier. I added one more phrase to my German knowledge some years later, by the way; even today I still like to point at random plants and declare ‘das is kein gummebaum’ (that is not a rubber plant) – a very useful phrase, I’m sure you’ll agree?

Luckily, the majority of people I met in Germany spoke superb English, so I got along just fine.

My host family showed me around Hamburg, of course. It’s an attractive city and the views from the revolving restaurant up in the Heinrich-Hertz-Turm comms tower were beautiful. I also spent a few days visiting German Schleswig – a school trip within a school trip – with my exchange partner’s class.

One of the days I remember most fondly was a family outing to nearby Lübeck, just an hour’s drive away or 45 minutes by train.

Situated on the River Trave, Lübeck is the second-largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, and a major port in the area. For several centuries it was the leading city of the Hanseatic League, a commercial confederation of merchant guilds and market downs that dominated trade in Northern Europe, stretching along the coast from the Baltic to the North Sea. The Old Town, on an island enclosed by the Trave, is famous for its extensive brick gothic architecture and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Images of Lubeck from Shutterstock.com

Niederegger Marzipan

It was not just the beauty of Lübeck that won my heart, oh no! Lübeck is also famous for its marzipan. And I really, really love marzipan!

A local legend suggests that marzipan was first made in the city in response to either a military siege or a local famine. The story goes that the town ran out of all foodstuffs except stored almonds and sugar, and these were combined to make loaves of marzipan “bread”.

In reality, marzipan is believed to have been invented far earlier, most likely in Persia though historians are undecided between a Persian and an Iberian origin.

Niederegger have been making marzipan in Lübeck for over two centuries, and relate the story from the perspective of founder Johann Georg Niederegger.

Our marzipan was invented far away, where almonds and sugar are grown. Rhazes, a Persian doctor who lived from 850 to 923, wrote a book in which he praised the curative qualities of almond and sugar paste. When the crusaders returned from the Orient, they brought with them a host of spices and Oriental secrets. In 13th century Venice, Naples and Sicily, spices and confectionery were generally traded  in tiny boxes. The enchanting word “Mataban” (box) gradually came to be used for the contents of the box:  Mazapane (Italian), Massepain (French) and Marzipan (German). Did you know that even back in the 13th century, the renowned philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas reflected upon the indulgence of eating Marzipan? In his doctrinal teaching, he reassures enquiring and anxious clerics: “Marzipan does not break the fast.” In his stories, the great novelist Boccaccio clearly describes the correlation between passion and marzipan. In those days, marzipan was topped with gold leaf to crown the sweet temptation. Great Hanseatic merchant boats brought spices and other prized ingredients to the North. Initially, however, only apothecaries were allowed to trade sugar and spices. Not until confectionary became a trade in its own right were so-called ‘canditors’ allowed to produce marzipan. The first Europeans to indulge in marzipan were kings and rich people. It has been reported that Queen Elizabeth I of England, who lived from 1533 to 1603, was addicted to all things sweet.  The saying ‘regal enjoyment’ was coined. Later, at the French ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV’s sumptuous feasts, huge tables laden with marzipan were the order of the day. Marzipan reproductions of all sorts of fruits, poultry and game were created – anything you desired could be made. In the first half of  the general population were now able to sample the almond delicacy to their heart’s content in coffee houses. Now that sugar could be extracted from sugar beet, the costly luxury became slightly more affordable. Marzipan was also particularly popular and prized in Lübeck. I would now like to tell you something about my life: as a young man, I left my home town of Ulm to become apprenticed to a confectioner, Maret, in Lübeck. In 1806 I was able to open up my own shop. I supplied my wares to kings and tsars. From then on, my reputation grew thanks to excellent quality. My recipe for marzipan – as many almonds as possible, as little sugar as necessary – is secret, and has been passed on from generation to generation since my death. That way, Niederegger Marzipan remains what it has always been: a delicious speciality made from the very best almonds. New York, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, a sweetmeat goes on tour … Niederegger stands for “marzipan of world renown”.

The quality of Niederegger marzipan is certainly renowned, as is that of slightly younger Lübeck marzipan manufacturer Carstens (founded in 1845, 39 years after Niederegger).

At its core, marzipan consists of nothing more than ground almonds mixed with either sugar or honey. These days, a wide range of marzipan is available; many commercial versions contain a comparatively low volume of almonds; instead they contain more sugar with the flavour boosted by almond oils and extracts or even cheaper synthetic almond flavourings. They are often sickly sweet.

Niederegger marzipan is the very good stuff. With a high ratio of almonds to sugar, the flavour is subtle and natural and the sweetness is not overwhelming.

Germany grades marzipan according to the following ratios:

  • Marzipanrohmasse (raw marzipan) contains 65% ground almonds and 35% sugar. When you see a label of 100:0 or 100%, it means 100% raw marzipan with no additional sugar added, not that there is no sugar at all.
  • Niederegger Marzipan is raw marzipan, made to the 65:35 almond to sugar ration and labelled as 100:0 (100% raw marzipan).
  • Lübecker Edelmarzipan (Lübeck fine marzipan) is described as 90:10. That means it’s 90% raw marzipan mixed with an extra 10% sugar. Don’t forget, that 90% is not 90% almonds but a mix of almonds and sugar. More sugar is added to that raw marzipan paste. That means the ratio of almond to sugar falls to around 58:42 (58% almonds, 42% sugar).
    Lübeck marzipan has a PDO (protected designation of origin) and the label can only be used for marzipan manufactured in the region to the 90:10 ratio.
  • Gütemarzipan (quality marzipan) must be 80:20. It’s made of 80% raw marzipan and 20% sugar. Almond makes up 62% of the total and sugar the other 28%.
  • Edelmarzipan (fine marzipan) is described as 70:30. It’s made of 70% raw marzipan and 30% sugar. The almond now makes up only 45% of the total and sugar the other 55%.
  • Gewöhnliches marzipan  (ordinary or consumer marzipan) is described as 50:50, so is half raw marzipan and half sugar. That means only a third of the total content is almond and two thirds is sugar.
  • There are also other designations such as Königsberger marzipan, which is no longer associated with place of manufacture but describes a style of marzipan that usually contains almonds, sugar, egg white and lemon juice and has a distinctive golden brown colour.

For anyone looking for high quality marzipan, you can buy Niederegger here in the UK – I’ve seen different products from their range on sale in John Lewis, Waitrose and Tesco and of course, you can buy online (from the same stores plus Chocolatesdirect.co.uk, Ocado and Amazon, to name a few).

Probably the most common Niederegger product  is marzipan coated in dark-chocolate, which is always wrapped in red foil. Blue foil denotes a milk chocolate coating and other colours of foil indicate flavoured marzipans such as apple, caramel, espresso, orange and pistachio – the latter being one of my personal favourites. There is also a liqueur range available.

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GIVEAWAY

It’s my pleasure to join  with Niederegger in giving away two hampers worth £25 each to readers of Kavey Eats!

Each hamper contains:-

  • 1 x Milk chocolate marzipan bar
  • 1 x Dark chocolate marzipan bar
  • 1 x 125g Marzipan loaf
  • 1 x 200g 16 Piece mini loaves assortment
  • 1 x 100g 8 Piece mini loaves classic
  • 1 x 40g Marzipan stick
  • 6 x Mini Loaves
  • 1 x Gift hamper box
  • Free delivery within the UK

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways increases your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment sharing a memory of language lessons at school, when you were a kid.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a marzipan hamper from @niederegger_uk and Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsMarzipan #KaveyEatsMarzipan
(Do not add my twitter handle or any other twitter handle at the beginning of the tweet and please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag.)

RULES & DETAILS
  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 1st May 2015.
  • The 2 winners will be selected from all valid entries (across blog, twitter and instagram) using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • Each prize is a hamper of Niederegger produts, as detailed above and includes delivery within the UK.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Niederegger .
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check your accounts for the notification message. If no response is received from a winner within 10 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received sample products from Niederegger.

 

I’ve been on Instagram for just over a year and I’ve quickly come to love it. It’s quite distinct from other social media platforms, though it also lends itself to some cross-sharing – I push selected instagrams across to twitter, facebook and to my Nibbles tumblr, which in turn feeds through to the Kavey Eats sidebar. The downside, if there is one, is that I often forget to share some of my food and drinks experiences here on the blog. So for this month’s In My Kitchen, I thought I’d take a meander through some of the last few weeks via my instagrams.

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At the beginning of March, Pete and I took the opportunity to visit the recently opened Sky Garden, housed in that skyscraper that lookslike a mobile phone. It’s (currently) free to visit, but tickets must be booked in advance. Although there are some pretty planted terraces within the space, I think it’s a slight exaggeration to describe the space as a garden, as most of the space is taken up by a restaurant and a cafe terrace space. That said, the views of London are beautiful, and if you’re planning a trip to London, it’s a fun thing to do.

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Afterwards, we popped across to Bad Egg Bar & Diner where we enjoyed a giant fried pork belly rib, huevos rancheros, portion of fries, dulce de leche milkshake and a couple of beers for very reasonable prices.

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We made use of our slow cooker to make a delicious batch of Boston Baked Beans which we enjoyed with slices of Clonakilty black pudding.

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I finally remembered to bake some of the Japanese kit kats friends brought back for me last year – they’ve been sitting forgotten in a box for several months. Note: these kit kats are designed to be baked, I’m not sure this would work well with regular kit kats!

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I was blown away by some particularly fabulous lychees from a local grocery shop – so plump and super sweet.

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Pete and I met with the creators of Codlo, an affordable and space-saving sous vide solution which converts your existing slow cooker or rice cooker into a fully functional sous vide machine. Our results so far have been very positive indeed, and I’ll be writing a full review to share soon.

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I got my hands on my friend Mat Follas’ first book, Fish and it’s a cracker. Review coming in the May issue of Good Things magazine, for which I’m still a regular contributor.

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McVitie’s sent me some of their cuddly toys and biscuits – the cuddly soft toys are super soft and super cute. And I can never resist a chocolate digestive (though, for the record, I think the dark chocolate ones are way tastier!)

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We combined a visit to our wonderful local pub, The Bohemia (in North Finchley) with a catch up with our friend Dom, who is currently in the process of launching his new chocolate brand. In the meantime, we happily purchased his excellent chocolate bars, such as this bar of Trinidad 60% Laverstoke Buffalo Milk Chocolate with Halen Mon Vanilla Sea Salt. Delicious!

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It’s a constant source of surprise to me that North Finchley can support quite so many coffee shops, with new cafes opening every few months to add to the list. But I’m glad Harris & Hoole are one of the options as their hot chocolate and banana cake make a very welcome breakfast after an early morning local appointment. And service is consistently helpful and friendly too.

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I can rarely resist browsing our local Tiger store whenever we pass and on my last visit I found these gorgeous individual oven dishes, as well as a funky white jug to send my friend Celia for her Festivalof50 birthday celebrations. (You can see that jug over on Celia’s blog and watch the video created by our fellow blogger Jason from Don’t Boil The Sauce! – yes I’m in it, looking quite demented!)

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Once again, I was invited to be a judge for the International Chocolate Awards. Of course, it’s a pleasure to taste some excellent chocolate, but the judging is taken very seriously, with regular palate checks and palate cleansing (icky gloopy polenta, but it works) and a carefully considered marking system.

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I attended the inaugural Good Things Supperclub, a pop up dinner featuring recipes from our latest issue – I think it’s fair to say that everyone enjoyed the evening.

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Gregg’s The Bakers invited me to visit a store and try their new breakfast range – which was shockingly good value and very tasty. Just as well there’s not one near my new office or I’d be far too tempted to have a sausage baguette every morning. We also picked up a few of their doughnuts and were amazed at the quality of these, especially at the price point – the caramel custard and chocolate custard ones we bought definitely rivalled those by Krispy Kreme (which I buy regularly) and were far less expensive.

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A Sunday visit to Maltby Street Market saw us devouring a truly fantastic burger from Grant Hawthorne’s African Volcano peri peri stall. We also took home samples of his new smoked salmon -both the peri peri dry rub and the treacle and peri peri sauce varieties were excellent. Keep an eye out for those going on sale soon.

We had a lovely visit to Anspach & Hobsday Brewery, where we chatted with Jack Hobsday about the history of the brewery, the individual beers and the adjacent market. Pete was seriously impressed with the beers. Left to right above, the (third of pint) tasters are A&H’s White Coffee Milk Stout, Pale Ale and Table Porter. We bought home a big box of several of their beers, so look out for full reviews of their bottled range on Pete Drinks soon.

Of course, we also did some shopping – a couple of St John’s custard doughnuts and some fantastic Iberico ham from Tozino, which we had for dinner along with the African Volcano salmon and the Gouda cheese I received from Kaashandel Peters.

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Pete experimented with some kamut flour that we purchased from Tuxford Windmill a few weeks previously. This was Pussy Galoaf loaf 6 and although it was denser than the usual white loaves we’ve been making, the texture was nice and even and the taste very pleasant.

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Just before I started my latest contract (having been working from home for the last couple of months) I spent a happy day down in London catching up with friends for dim sum at Princess Garden and cake at The Delaunay Counter before grabbing a tasty Honest Burger at Camden and heading on to an excellent Tea Tasting event run by Momo Cha Fine Teas.

Glad to find that their teas are as magnificent as ever – I placed an order for more of their incredible High Mountain Oolong the very next day!

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The last Sunday in March was a decadent affair, as I accepted an invitation to Sunday Brunch at the Rosewood Hotel, in celebration of their recently launched Slow Food & Living Market. Unlike other small-scale food markets I’ve visited, this little market is perfectly curated and the range of top quality produce is fantastic, with current stallholders including O’Shea’s Butchers, Hansen & Lydersen (smoked fish), Oliver’s Bakery, Nyborg’s Kitchen, Hiver Honey Beer, Anspach & Hobday brewery, Lalani & Co fine teas, Gosnells London Mead, and other stalls offering fresh produce, dairy and cheese as well as chocolates, cakes and more. It’s not huge but every stall is a good one, so it’s a lovely place to browse and shop. The brunch, featuring produce from the market, was also excellent, though pretty pricy at £60 per person without drinks.

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Surprisingly late in life, I finally spotted and bought some fresh garlic – this is fully grown (unlike wet garlic, which is usually harvested before the bulb has developed much) but still green from the harvest, rather than the dried bulbs we more commonly buy. It has a far milder flavour than the dried equivalent and was delicious in a pasta sauce alongside finely diced homemade fuet.

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Another invitation, this time to a fun blogger event hosted by Tonia Buxton at The Real Greek restaurant in Soho. After some light learning (mixing our own tapenade and learning how to stuff dolmades) we enjoyed a tasty dinner – the menu is affordable and tasty.

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Over the Easter weekend, Pete and I were very happy to discover that the newly taken over local Vietnamese restaurant, now called Phó’ Viet Hu’ó’ng, is better than ever. My dish is the co’m su’ó’n (pork ribs and fried egg with rice) and Pete had mi xào (egg noodles) with chicken and veg. Better still, lunch was only £5.50 each including a soft drink. Very very tasty!

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Easter cooking at home included a simple rosemary roast lamb and some hot cross buns – despite the somewhat Jackson Pollock-esque crosses, they turned out very nicely!

 

I’m submitting this (mammoth) In My Kitchen post to Celia’s round up over at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial.

 

Dutch cheese Gouda has a bit of an image problem in the UK, often dismissed as a somewhat boring cheese. This is no doubt because our opinions are based on the young mass-produced Gouda which has most commonly been available here in the UK in recent decades.

But, like many cheese, the best Gouda is absolutely terrific!

Kaashandel Peters aka the goudacheeseshop.com is a family business based in Harderwijk, about 40 miles East of Amsterdam. They specialise in selling high quality Dutch cheeses to both consumers and catering customers and since the launch of their web shop in 2009, have also been able to sell cheese to customers across Europe. The cheeses are cut into segments and vacuum-packed, making them suitable to store for at least 6 weeks, which means delivery to the UK is perfectly feasible.

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The Best Three is a selection of Kaashandel Peters’ top three Gouda cheeses, 500 grams of each and sells for €23.50 (plus shipping).

The three cheeses from left to right in both images above are Boeren Belegen – Stolwijker Kaas (farmhouse 6-month matured gouda from the Stolwijker region), Belegen Goudse Kaas (gouda matured for 16-18 weeks) and Oude Peter Goudse Kaas – Extra Kwaliteit (high quality gouda matured for 14 months)

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REVIEW

Boeren Belegen – Stolwijker Kaas

  • The Dutch term Boerenkaas translates as Farmer’s cheese and is a protected designation that can only be produced by Dutch farms to a traditional recipe. This cheese is made from fresh rather than pasteurised milk and is matured for about six months.
  • This was not disimilar in flavour to the Belegen Goudse Kaas (below) and had the same rich and creamy texture, but the flavour had a wonderful nuttiness too, and was significantly stronger. This reminded me of a good quality mature cheddar.

Belegen Goudse Kaas

  • This gouda has been matured for 16-18 weeks, less than the other two cheeses, but more than the youngest gouda available.
  • As you would expect, we found this the mildest of the three, a less complex flavour but still rich, creamy and with good flavour. It had a hint of sweetness and a little grassiness too.

Oude Peter Goudse Kaas – Extra Kwaliteit

  • This is a particularly high quality gouda that has been matured for 14 months.
  • Unsurprisingly, this was the strongest of the three cheeses with a pronounced (and gorgeous) nutty flavour, some crystaline salt texture but still a lot of creaminess in the mouth. A truly superb cheese and one that I’d happily choose for a special occasion cheese board.

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GIVEAWAY

It’s my pleasure to join  with Kaashandel Peters in giving away three sets of the above three cheeses to readers of Kavey Eats! Delivery to any address within the EU is included.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the giveaway in 2 ways – entering both ways gives you double the chance of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment telling me about your favourite hard cheese – what’s it called and where is it from?

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win three gorgeous Gouda cheeses from @goudsekaasshop and Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KaveyEatsGouda #KaveyEatsGouda
(Do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 24th April 2015.
  • The 3 winners will be selected from all valid entries (across blog and twitter) using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is Kaashandel Peters’ The Best Three selection, including the three cheeses listed. Delivery to any address within the EU is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Kaashandel Peters.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email or via Twitter so please make sure you check your accounts for the notification message. If no response is received from a winner within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received samples cheeses from Kaashandel Peters and was reimbursed for my time. All opinions my own, as always.

 

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Image from Shutterstock stock library

This month’s theme for BSFIC was Dairy Free – either by use of a dairy substitute or skipping it completely. I hope you enjoy the delicious entries below!

Kip March BSFIC

In that brief sunny period at the beginning of March, when it seemed as though spring had firmly sprung, Kip the Messy Vegetarian Cook created this Vegan Cream Cheese Ice Cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and hundreds and thousands.

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I was next, with my very first dairy free ice cream. I kept it very simple by combining coconut milk with chocolate and adding a splash of coconut rum for a Bounty-inspired Chocolate & Coconut Dairy Free Ice Cream.

Ros March BSFIC

Baking Addict Ros served her Lemongrass and lime Sorbet with Lime Jelly, creating a lush green and white dessert. She used an egg white to give body and texture to her sorbet, a little like the lemon spoom I made a few years ago.

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Corin from Proware Kitchen made a luscious Cherry Garcia Coconut Milk Ice Cream featuring roasted cherries, black rum and coconut. She is a fan of coconut milk ice cream bases which are light and refreshing but still provide a creamy consistency.

vegan ice cream

I love the idea of combining tahini into a frozen banana instant treat, as in Kellie’s Vegan Banana & Cardamom-Tahini Ice Cream on Food To Glow.

Monica March BSFIC

Monica at Smarter Fitter keeps dairy out of the mix entirely in her vibrant Mango Chilli Sorbet made using tinned kesar mango puree. As a mango aficionado I can tell you that kesar, along with alphonso, mangoes make really excellent sorbet, and the additional of chilli must surely add a killer kick.

Helen March

Over at Fuss Free Flavours, Helen has created another vibrant treat, her Blackberry, Apple & Thyme Sorbet. I bet that hint of herb makes this sorbet much more grown up in flavour.

IceCreamChallenge

Hotel Chocolat kindly supported this month’s BSFIC by giving us one of their brand new Milk Free Milk Chocolate easter eggs to give away and after reviewing all the entries, they have selected Kip’s Vegan Cream Cheese Ice Cream to win their new Milk-Free Milk Scrambled Egg easter egg! Well done, Kip!

In the meantime, look out for the next BSFIC challenge, coming shortly!

 

One for the Star Wars fans, this – an X-Wing Knife Block – created by bluw to celebrate the release of the seventh film later this year.

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The officially licensed set contains an X-Wing shaped knife block with five stainless steel knives – a bread knife, a carving knife, a utility knife, a paring knife and a cook’s knife. Each knife has a protection sheath that it slots into.

The block is frustratingly flimsy – you have to hold it with one hand to pull a knife from it with the other and the knives are very lightweight too; it’ll be interesting to see how long they last. This is much more of a novelty gift than a serious kitchen set, I’d say. However, I can’t help but smile at the idea, regardless. Prices vary considerably from £48.99 to £79.99 so it’s worth shopping around, if you want to buy one.

Kavey Eats received a product sample from bluw.

 

Wary of degradation from a slightly longer than ideal stint in the freezer, I wondered what to make with our last portion of last year’s skrei (beautiful Norwegian cod from the Barents sea). Fish pie was on my mind, but I didn’t fancy the cod and boiled egg fish pie recipe we have made previously; and with just short of 600 grams of cod, I didn’t want to make a mixed seafood fish pie either, though I’m sure salmon, smoked fish or perhaps some big juicy prawns would be a tasty combination.

Instead, I remembered how much I like the combination of chorizo and cod in this baked chorizo, cod and potatoes recipe that we’ve made several times.

An idle search on Google revealed surprisingly little variation in fish pie recipes, so I decided to go out on a limb and pull together a recipe using flavours I felt would work well together , even if no one else had combined them in a fish pie before – we made a chorizo, pea and cod filling topped with buttery mashed potato and it was marvellous; definitely one to make again!

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I used a full 200 gram Unearthed cooking chorizo, which was a generous amount. Reduce to 100 grams for just a hint of chorizo, 150 grams for a decent hit or stick to my 200 grams for a chorizo feast. We only had 100 grams of frozen peas left, but I’ll up to 150-200 grams next time, as per my original intention. Although cooking chorizo releases some oil as it cooks, I add more to the pan to ensure sufficient flavoured oil to make the white sauce.

Kavey’s Chorizo, Cod & Pea Pie Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients
100-200 grams cooking chorizo, 1 cm dice
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pint milk
570 grams cod fillet, skinned and checked for bones
4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
Generous knob of butter
1-2 tablespoons plain white flour
150-200 grams frozen petit pois

Method

  • Cook chorizo and cooking oil over a medium flame until chorizo is just cooked through.
  • Remove chorizo from the pan using a slotted spoon. Pour chorizo-flavoured oil into a separate bowl or jug. Set both aside.
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan and poach the cod over a low flame until cooked through, approximately 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your fillets.
  • While the cod is poaching, put your potatoes on to boil, drain once cooked and mash with a little butter.
  • Once the cod is cooked, strain the milk from the pan, set aside in a jug or bowl.
  • Gently break the cod into small pieces, set aside.
  • Combine 3-4 tablespoons of chorizo-flavoured oil with the flour and cook for a few minutes, then add strained poaching milk and simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Place cod, chorizo and peas into a casserole dish, pour over the chorizo-flavoured sauce and gently mix to combine.
  • Spoon the buttery mash over the pie filling and use a fork to create a spiky surface.
  • Transfer to the oven and cook until the potatoes brown nicely on top, about 20-25 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

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I think this recipe is a winner and I’d love you to give it a try and let me know how you get on and what you think!

Need more inspiration? Check out these Ten Fantastic Fish Pie Recipes:

And two related recipes:

 

In the last few years I’ve discovered that I have a taste for sake. I’ve learned the basics about how it’s made and the different types available, but haven’t sampled enough to get a handle on my preferences. There’s a very distinctive taste that most sakes have in common, despite their many differences and it’s a taste I like very much. But having one or two sakes in isolation once every few months serves only to let me choose my favourite between the two – such tastings are too few and far between for me to build up a coherent library of taste memories in my head, and thereby gain more confidence on choosing well in the future. One of the outstanding items on my Food & Drink To Do list is to immerse myself more fully in the world of sake and work out which styles, regions and even producers I love the most.

The Chisou restaurant group have been running a Sake Club for about a year now, a regular evening of tutored tastings with matched Japanese snacks provided. I’ve been meaning to attend since they launched, but have singularly failed.

What finally spurred me to action was actually a deviation from the norm – a special umeshu tasting.

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The tastings are held in a private room – in Chisou Knightsbridge this was the upstairs dining room – properly separated from regular diners. We shared a table with a couple who were also first timers to the Sake Club, Gareth and Nirvana, and had a lot of fun talking about food and drink, life in London and visiting Japan.

Chisou’s Marketing Manager Mark McCafferty hosted the evening and started by giving us an introduction to umeshu, though a printed crib sheet was also provided for each guest. He introduced each of the six drinks, and the snacks that were served with them, sharing tasting tips and notes throughout.

Although umeshu is usually described in English as plum wine, the ume fruit is not actually a plum; although nicknames include both Chinese Plum and Japanese Apricot, it’s a distinct species within the Prunus genus (which also includes plums and apricots); if a comparison is still needed, the ume is a stone fruit that is closer to the apricot than to the plum.

Why did Chisou decide to hold an umeshu night as part of their Sake Club series? Because umeshu is traditionally made using surplus sake or shōchū – a distilled spirit made from a variety of different carbohydrates – or to use up batches which have not turned out quite as planned. That said, as it’s popularity has increased, many breweries make umeshu as part of their standard product range, and some use high grade sake or shōchū and top quality ume fruit to do so.

The method is very straightforward and will be familiar to those who’ve made sloe gin or other fruit-based spirits – strawberry vodka, anyone? Whole ume fruit are steeped in alcohol – the longer the period, the more the fruit breaks down and its flavour leaches into the alcohol. Some umeshu is left to mature for years, allowing the almond-flavour of the stone to become more pronounced.

In many cases, additional sugar is added to the umeshu, to create a sweeter liqueur. Many households make their own umeshu when the ume fruit is in season, as it’s a very simple drink to make.

The whole fruits are often left in the umeshu – both in home made and commercial versions – and served alongside the drink. Take care, as the stone is still inside!

The welcome drink, as everyone settled in and we waited for a few late arrivals, was a Kir-style cocktail of prosecco and Hannari Kyo umeshu. With this we enjoyed orange-salted edamame beans and wasabi peas.

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Next, an Ozeki umeshu on the rocks served with a generous plate of pork scratchings with individual bowls of an umami-explosion shiitake mayonnaise. In Japan, the highest quality of fruit is often very expensive, and Mark explained that this particular brewery use top quality ume for their umeshu. For Pete, this was “reminiscent of a sherry” and Nirvana liked the “aftertaste of almond”. I loved this umeshu, one of my favourites of the evening.

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Third was a cloudy version – Morikawa umeshumade with a ginjo sake (using highly polished rice), so quite unusual. For me, this tasted stronger than the previous one, but in fact it was a slightly lower ABV – I think this may simply have been because more bitterness was evident in the taste. Mark suggested we should “warm it up like a mulled wine, to make the most of it’s spiciness”. Gareth particularly enjoyed the “mouthfeel” of this umeshu. Pete thought it would an amazing match with a cheese – a perfect replacement for port.

With this came a small skewer of smoked duck with apple cider, miso and fresh ginger, served theatrically beneath a smoke-filled dome. I could have eaten an entire plate of these, instead of just one!

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I was surprised how much I liked the fourth option, as I couldn’t imagine the combination on first reading the menu. The Tomio Uji Gyokuro umeshu combines traditional shade-grown green tea with umeshu to add a rich umami note to the finished product. Oxidisation means the drink is amber rather than green, but the meaty and medicinal notes are evidence of the presence of green tea.

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Next was a cocktail combining Hannari Kyo umeshu with Yamagata Masamune sake, lime juice and angostura bitters. I found this a too bitter and dry for my tastes, so asked if I could taste the Hannari Kyo umeshu on its own, as we’d only tried it with mixers thus far. It’s a lovely umeshu but couldn’t compete with the Ozeki umeshu or the Tomio Uji Gyokuro umeshu for me.

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Last, we were served a cup of good quality vanilla ice cream with warm Morikawa umeshu to pour over the top, affogato-style. As you’d imagine, the sweet and sour notes of the fruit liqueur really work well with cold vanilla ice cream, making it what Nirvana called “a very grown up ice cream”. As Mark commented, “warm it up and it really comes alive”.

Pete and I decided to stay on and order a few dishes from the food menu to soak up the alcohol before heading home, umeshu-happy.

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agedashi tofu, gyoza, pork with kimchi, chicken karaage

After such a great evening, we are keen to attend more Sake Club events. Umeshu night was very well priced at £40 per person and was a great learning experience, a fun social evening and very delicious. If you book Sake Club, do take care that you go the right location. The club is alternately held at different branches of the restaurant and it’s not uncommon for regulars to go to the wrong one, resulting in a mad dash across town.

Kavey Eats attended the Umeshu tasting as guests of Chisou Knightsbridge. The additional dishes pictured at the end were on our own tab.

 

Pete and I are big fans of Salter equipment, having used a Salter scale in our kitchen for many years. And we’re already fans of Heston’s collaborations with appliance brands; I’ve recently posted about the Quick Touch microwave and Smart Scoop ice cream machine Heston designed with Sage.

So it was our pleasure to try out the Heston Precision range created by Heston and Salter, which includes dual platform measuring scales, an adjustable rolling pin, a balloon whisk, measuring spoons and cooking spatulas.

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The scales comes in a beautiful box with instructions on use printed on the inside lid. I asked Pete to review them, as they’re perfect for his home brew needs (as well as regular kitchen use):

Homebrewing makes some heavy demands on kitchen scales. Recipes can call for a total of 6kg or more of grain, and yet our standard scales can’t handle more than 5kg. At the same time, some of the minor grain ingredients can weigh as little as 100 grams – at which point, the fact that our scales measure in steps of 4 grams can introduce a significant error.

So the main platform on the Heston scale is a godsend – handling up to 10kg means that it can handle the biggest recipes in my book, and with a 1 gram accuracy I can be confident that my measurements are all spot on.

Of course, that’s only half the story; as well as grain, beer needs hops. While English hops are often measured in the tens of grams – and so can be weighed with some success on standard scales – with more powerful New World hops recipes can call for smaller quantities of 5 or 10 grams. Obviously when your scale only measures in steps of 4 grams, accurately measuring 5 grams of anything can be next to impossible.

This is where the secondary platform on the Heston scale comes in, which can weigh up to 100 grams in steps of 0.1 grams – perfect for lightweight ingredients such as hops.

Of course, you can buy separate scales for such small quantities but combining two into one is a much tidier solution – especially for a homebrewer with an ever growing pile of equipment.

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The rolling pin has adjustable depth guides to make it easier to roll to a depth of 3mm, 5mm and 8mm.

The measuring spoons have a leveller slide along the top to remove excess and ensure an accurate measure. They can be used for wet and dry ingredients, but are not intended for use with oils.

The spatulas are heat resistant to 250°C and dishwasher safe.

The large balloon whisk has a comfortable non-slip handle, is light and easy to use and is dishwasher safe.

HestonPrecisionRange

GIVEAWAY

Salter are giving one set of products from the Heston Precision by Salter range to a reader of Kavey Eats. The items in the set retail for over £100 and include:

  • Salter Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform Precision Kitchen Scale (RRP £49.99)
  • Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Adjustable Rolling Pin (RRP £19.99)
  • Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Adjustable Measuring Spoons (RRP £14.99)
  • Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Professional Kitchen Whisk (RRP £8.99)
  • Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Multipurpose Cooking Spatulas (RRP £14.99)

The prize includes delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 2 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment telling me what you’d make if you won the Heston Precision by Salter giveaway prize.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the exact sentence (shown in italics) below.
I’d love to win a set of Heston Precision kitchen equipment by @SalterUK from Kavey Eats! http://bit.ly/KEHestonSalter #KEHestonSalter
(Do not add my twitter handle to the tweet; I track twitter entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 10th April 2015.
  • Kavey Eats reserves the right to alter the closing date of the competition. Changes to the closing date, if they occur, will be shown on this page.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries (across blog and twitter) using a random number generator.
  • Entry instructions form part of the terms and conditions and must be followed exactly.
  • Where prizes are to be provided by a third party, Kavey Eats accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of that third party.
  • The prize is one Salter Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform Precision Kitchen Scale, one Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Adjustable Rolling Pin, one set of Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Adustable Measuring Spoons, one Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Professional Kitchen Whisk and one set of Salter Heston Blumenthal Precision Multipurpose Cooking Spatulas.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prize is offered and provided by Salter Housewares.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. You may enter both ways but you do not have to do so for each individual entry to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. Blog comment entries must provide a valid email address for contacting the winner.
  • The winners will be notified by email or Twitter so please make sure you check your accounts for the notification message. If no response is received from a winner within 7 days of notification, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

Kavey Eats received product samples from Salter Housewares. This post includes affiliate links, please see blog sidebar for further information.

The winner of this competition was Ann Goody (blog entry).

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