kaveyeats

 

Like many in the UK, I celebrate Christmas as a purely cultural tradition. Although I am interested in the origins of the ways we celebrate, it’s about history rather than religious significance for me.

On a religious level, Advent is a period of anticipation; indeed the word itself comes from adventus; Latin for “coming” and marks the weeks of preparation for celebrating the birth of Jesus and looking ahead to his second coming. It is also the beginning of the liturgical year – that is the Christian calendar that determines the dates of various feast and fast days, celebrations of Saints and other observances.

For me, a nostalgia-loving Humanist, Advent is all about Advent calendars, and the ones I love best are chocolate ones! Who can resist the nearly-month-long ritual of finding the right number, carefully opening the door and revealing that day’s chocolate inside?

Twenty years ago, I was happy with a really cheap version; a couple of quid in Woollies (RIP) and I was sorted. But over the last couple of decades, my chocolate tastes have changed enormously and the really cheap stuff – more sugar and vegetable fat than actual cocoa content – just doesn’t cut it. The first time I bought a Hotel Chocolat advent some years ago, it felt outrageously expensive (and compared to my Woollies ones it was!). But nowadays, I’m happier to spend more on quality chocolate and I’ve also realised that £12.50 for a box of 24 tasty chocolates is actually perfectly reasonable.

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Hotel Chocolat’s Advent Calendar to Share (£26) is a rather charming way of sharing the advent fun without having to share the chocolate treat. I think of it as a Couple’s Advent Calendar but of course, it would work for siblings or friends too, as long as they don’t mind taking turns to open the door! Behind each window are two baby truffles and there are a range of flavours to find including simple milk and dark truffles, salted caramel, gingerbread, almond and nutmeg, cinnamon, raspberry and hibiscus, and mulled wine.

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For those who don’t want to share, Hotel Chocolat’s one-person Advent Calendars (£12.50) come in dark, milk or white chocolate versions. Behind each door is a cute moulded chocolate sculpture.

COMPETITION

I have two prizes to giveaway to Kavey Eats readers!

  • First prize is a Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar to Share.
  • Second prize is a Hotel Chocolat Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar.
  • Each prize includes delivery within the UK.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways – the more ways you enter, the higher your chances of winning:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, sharing your favourite way of enjoying chocolate at Christmas.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win @HotelChocolat Advent Calendars from Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/80jVag #KaveyEatsHCAdvent
(Do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

Entry 3 – Instagram
Share an image of your favourite Christmas Tree decoration via your Instagram feed. In the caption include my username @Kaveyf and the hashtag #KaveyEatsHCAdvent.

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 14th November, 2014.
  • 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 2 winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator. The first name selected will win the first prize. The second name selected will win the second prize.
  • 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.
  • First prize is a Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar to Share and second prize is a Dark Chocolate Advent Calendar. Free delivery within the UK is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Hotel Chocolat.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Instagram entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but you do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Instagram entries, winners must be following @Kaveyf 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, Twitter or Instagram 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 attended the Hotel Chocolat Christmas preview event and received samples of items in the range.

Oct 292014
 

chef_retail_dvd.indd

Jon Favreau writes, directs and stars in soon-to-be-released film Chef, a classic comedy about cooking. He plays top chef Carl Casper who – refusing to compromise his creative integrity – quits his job in a glitzy LA restaurant and goes back to his cooking roots. Taking to the road in a fast food truck Carl reignites his passion for the kitchen, reconnects with his family and finds a new zest for love and life. The film also stars Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jnr, Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson and John Leguizamo and is a touching, feel-good comedy for winter 2014.

 

COMPETITION

We have three copies of the film on DVD to giveaway to readers. Delivery in the UK is included.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 3 ways – the more ways you enter, the higher your chances:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me what your favourite film is and why. (Keep it family friendly, please!)

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a DVD of new cooking comedy, Chef from Kavey Eats! #KaveyEatsChefDVD
(Do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track entries using the competition hash tag. And please don’t leave a blog comment about your tweet either, thanks!)

Entry 3 – Instagram
Share an image of you or a friend cooking up a storm via your Instagram feed. In the caption include my username @Kaveyf and the hashtag #KaveyEatsChefDVD.

RULES & DETAILS

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Friday 14th November, 2014.
  • 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 3 winners will be selected from all valid entries 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 DVD of Jon Favreau’s Chef. Free delivery within the UK is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by DnA PR.
  • One blog entry per person only. One Twitter entry per person only. One Instagram entry per person only. You may enter all three ways but do not have to do so for your entries to be valid.
  • For Twitter entries, winners must be following @Kavey at the time of notification. For Instagram entries, winners must be following @Kaveyf 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, Twitter or Instagram 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 a review DVD from DnA PR.

Oct 272014
 

Married to a drinks blogger, it’s inevitable that I dip my toe into the world of drinks blogging too. One of the first drinks bloggers I met through Pete was Simon Williams, the founder of CAMRGB. I’ll let him tell you more about his mission to get us drinking really good beer in his own words…

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Hello and welcome, plea­se introduce yourself and tell us a little about the kind of content you share.

Hello, I’m Simon and I write about beer and run a small organisation that tries to promote and celebrate beer regardless of particular dispense methods.

Is there a story behind your blog’s name?

I called the blog The Campaign For Really Good Beer purposefully to annoy CAMRA (The Campaign For Real Ale) as the blog started as a rant against that particular organisation’s lack of support for new UK breweries.

The name also works well graphically – Really Good Beer is Red Green and Blue, RGB, the colour breakdown on an image used online.

I expected more people to make the connection straight away, but many still look surprised when I explain, and I still get people saying, “It should be red white and blue,” meaning I then have to explain again that I’m not interested in any weird nationalist agenda.

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Why did you choose to blog about beer?

As I already mentioned, it was a direct result of what CAMRA were (or weren’t) doing. They were not supporting (and still aren’t supporting) new breweries who were making what has started to be termed “Craft” beer and not brewing to CAMRA’s definition of what “Real Ale” is.

Does blogging about drink present any particular challenges?

For me, blogging about anything presents certain challenges as I have a young family and a full time job.

Once a blog becomes more than just a blog (as CAMRGB has) it’s imperative to keep the interest for the group and to grow the group.

Online this means regular new content, and so my days have become a process:

I get up at 5am and publish any beer reviews from the night before, answer emails etc., get the kids up, feed them, get them ready for school, get myself ready and off to work, get home at 5:30pm and pick the kids up from the child-minder, get them home, feed them and get them ready for bed, then I choose a couple of beers to drink and write about, eat and go to bed.

It is, put frankly, a bit boring.

Is there a particular style of beer you seek out most often?

Nope

Which single beer could you not live without?

Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo

Are there beer styles you don’t like or think are overrated?

Not especially.

What are the current trends in the beer scene? How do you feel about them?

The current trends seem to be in ridiculous facial hair more than anything.

To be serious though, you can watch the brewing industry and see where things are going.

A couple of years ago everyone was making Black IPAs, then they were all making Saisons and now everyone is sticking as much beer into as many casks and barrels for ageing as they possibly can, with sometimes amazing and sometimes hideous results.

Tell us about your pet controversy in the beer world.

Ooh, I couldn’t possibly. There would be blushes and finger pointing amongst a certain group of, shall we say, traditional ale drinkers.

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Since you started blogging, has your style and content changed over time, and if so, in what ways?

Not really, it’s about beer and about trying to connect people.

What is the hardest aspect of blogging for you?

Fitting it into everyday life.

What inspires you to keep blogging?

Meeting people and connecting people.

Seeing photos being posted on Twitter last night of people at IMBC 2014 who had struck up conversations because they were all wearing CAMRGB T-shirts is fantastic.

They know that whatever their differences they can agree on beer and share a certain ideology and can have a chat and have a good evening.

I think that that is just brilliant.

Blogging killed the newspaper star. What do you think bloggers bring to the arena that differentiates them from traditional journalists?

Bloggers are the new fanzine writers.

Passionate amateurs writing from the heart.

The downside of that – and I remember from dealing with fanzine writers in the 80s ad 90s – is that lots of people who start blogging do it to get free stuff and the result is they will only ever say things are great as they believe that that will get them more free stuff.

I try to always be honest in my writing and some people don’t like when I say their product isn’t very good, forgetting it’s just my personal opinion, but most take it on the chin and continue to allow me to get things to review.

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What’s the single most popular post on your blog?

I don’t know. The blog gets over 9000 hits a month right now, so I don’t really check to see who is looking at what.

Can we give a little extra love and attention to a post you love but didn’t catch the attention of your readers in the way you hoped?

I still love the two articles I wrote on Greene King: Insurgency Over The Front Line and Greene King Do The Wrong Thing

 

Spread the love

Blog URL: http://camrgb.org
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CAMRGB
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/CAMRGB
Pinterest profile: http://www.pinterest.com/crayolasarandon/

 

Some people are so difficult to shop for, aren’t they? Gift hampers (and baskets) are a great option when you want to make an impression but don’t know what to choose. Food and drinks selections also have the advantage of being consumable, which is a vastly under-appreciated attribute by those of us prone to clutter.

time_for_tea_trug turn_up_the_heat
Serenata Hampers Time For Tea Trug and Turn up the Heat Trug

COMPETITION

I have two prizes to giveaway to Kavey Eats readers!

  • First prize is the Serenata Hampers Time For Tea Trug (retailing at £29.99) which contains a Floral Tin of English Breakfast Tea by The English Tea Shop, Elegant & English Chocolate and Raspberry Biscuits, Kay`s Kitchen Organic Plum Jam, Kay`s Kitchen Organic Strawberry Jam an Caramelised Nut Pralines in a Clear Gift Box presented in a Pink Trug.
  • Second prize is the Serenata Hampers Turn up the Heat, Crackers & Cheese Trug (retailing at £27.99) which contains Hand Waxed Hot Chilli Cheese, Hand Waxed Scrumpy & Crunchy Apple, Bambino Black Olive Crackers, Bambino Moroccean Spicey Crackers, Luxury Organic Bombay Mix, Luxury Spicy Chilli Coated Peanuts and Belgian Chocolate Fine Blended Whiskey Truffles in Clear Box in a Bottle Green Trug.
  • Each prize includes delivery to any Mainland UK address.

HOW TO ENTER

You can enter the competition in 2 ways:

Entry 1 – Blog Comment
Leave a comment below, telling me what edible items you’d choose if assembling your own gift trug.

Entry 2 – Twitter
Follow @Kavey on Twitter. Existing followers are, of course, welcome to enter! Then tweet the (exact) sentence below.
I’d love to win a Gift Trug from @SerenataHampers and Kavey Eats! http://goo.gl/R47slT #KaveyEatsSerenata
(Do not add my twitter handle into the tweet; I track 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 14th November, 2014.
  • 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 2 winners will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator. The first name selected will win the first prize. The second name selected will win the second prize.
  • 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.
  • First prize is a Serenata Hampers Time For Tea Trug and second prize is a Serenata Hampers Turn up the Heat, Crackers & Cheese Trug. Free delivery to any Mainland UK address is included.
  • The prizes cannot be redeemed for a cash value.
  • The prizes are offered and provided by Serenata Hampers.
  • 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 your entries 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 a fee from Serenata Hampers for sharing this competition.

 

Pete and I have quickly become regular visitors to Yijo Restaurant since our first visit just a couple of months ago. Head chef Jun Pyo Kwon serves up a delicious, authentic and very reasonably priced menu in this unassuming neighbourhood restaurant, just by Central Finchley tube station. You may have tried Jun Pyo’s cooking before, as he developed the menu and launched Kimchee restaurant in Holborn; of course, its location dictated the need to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. During one of our many chats, Jun Pyo explained his desire to open up his own place, where he could offer customers his personal insight into Korean cooking.

The restaurant specialises in Korean barbecue – which I mentally think of as yakiniku even though that’s a Japanese term – but there is also a range of other delicious dishes, with more to come soon – Jun Pyo and restaurant manager Cindy Roberts are finalising a new menu which will be available shortly.

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first image from Google

Of course, the Korean barbecue is excellent. It’s such a sociable (not to mention delicious) dining experience cooking, talking, eating, cooking, talking, eating…

You can choose individual plates of meat or go for one of the mixed platters, which are excellent value and generous too.

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We’ve also tried several other dishes including jap chae (sweet potato glass noodles and vegetables stir fried), tteokbokki (squidgy rice cakes in a fiery sauce), chicken mari (rice paper chicken and vegetable wrapped rolls), bokkeumbap (stir fried rice) and of course, a variety of pickles and salads.

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Yijo Cooking Classes

We’ve also had great fun attending Yijo’s recently launched cooking classes, learning how to make kimchi in the first and making our own tofu (and several dishes using it) in the second. Both the classes we attended were held in the restaurant over a Saturday long lunch but Yijo are also offering classes in a central London cooking school.

In the kimchi class, Jun Pyo shares a wealth of information about the different varieties of kimchi enjoyed in Korea, and lots of tips about variations we can make to the recipe he shares with us. Each student makes their own kimchi to take home – one to ferment and age, the other to enjoy fresh. At the end of the class, we are served a traditional meal of tofu, kimchi and pork.

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In the tofu class, as the process is more time consuming, Jun Pyo explains how to soak the beans and then demonstrates how to grind and strain them to make soy milk. Then we work in pairs to cook pots of soy milk, which Cindy and Jun Pyo made earlier in the morning, adding coagulant and straining into tofu presses when ready. Again, Jun Pyo shares tips on how to achieve a richer almondy flavour and ideas on how to create flavoured tofu. This time, we go on to make three dishes using our fresh tofu – a stew made from the leftover ground soy beans, a simple salad of fresh tofu and dressing and a fried kimchi and tofu dish. We sit down to enjoy these together after the class.

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Each student is able to take a block of home made tofu away with them, plus a pot of the leftover ground beans. Pete and I coat ours in panko breadcrumbs and deep fry them for a quick and tasty lunch the next day.

These classes are a really wonderful way to learn more about Korean cuisine and the practical nature of the classes will give you the confidence to recreate the dishes at home. Check out all Yijo’s classes and events here.

 

Kavey Eats attended the cooking classes as guests of Yijo restaurant.
Yijo on Urbanspoon

 

I don’t usually make Halloween dishes.

But I had a crate full of home-grown butternut squash in my kitchen when a friend of mine gave me a block of his home-made black garlic cheese. The handover, in a central London coffee shop, probably looked like an illicit drug tryst – the cheese resembled a very large block of resin – but cheese is my drug of choice these days!

Immediately, the orange and black colours of Halloween popped into my mind and I decided to adapt the recipe for ever popular Pete’s Cheesey Potato Bake into a Butternut Squash, Black Garlic & Blue Cheese Bake. (I added blue cheese to the black garlic cheese to give a more salty kick).

Of course, few of us make cheese from scratch at home but there are many recipes on the web that show you how to make American processed cheese slices from a combination of regular cheese, dry milk powder, milk and gelatin. I can’t give away my friend’s confidential recipe for his black garlic cheese, but you could experiment with the addition of black garlic to one of these recipes.

Because I liked the idea of the orange and black appearance, we layered the blue cheese below and the butternut squash and black garlic cheese on top, but if you use regular cheeses, you can mix all the ingredients together in the dish.

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Butternut Squash, Black Garlic & Blue Cheese Bake

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash
100 grams black garlic cheese
200 grams strong blue cheese (we used Stilton)

Method

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  • Peel the butternut squash, halve and scrape out the seeds and pulp from the centre. Cube the flesh and add to a pan.

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  • Parboil the squash by bringing the water to the boil and let the squash cook for a further five minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan).
  • Chop the blue cheese into small pieces and scatter along the bottom of two individual baking dishes (or one larger dish).

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  • Spread the squash over the top.
  • Cube the black garlic cheese, and scatter over the squash.

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  • Bake for about 40 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and the cheese on top has melted.
  • Serve hot.

Of course, if you don’t have black garlic cheese (and don’t fancy making your own) you can enjoy the delicious combination of sweet butternut squash and salty cheese with any combination of cheeses you like.

Other winter squash / pumpkin ideas:

I’m also entering this post into the following blog challenges: Shaheen’s Vegetable Palette, Ren’s Simple and in Season, Hannah’s Credit Crunch Munch by Helen and Camilla), Emily’s Extra Veg (founded by Helen and Michelle), Nayna’s Let’s Cook for Halloween, Vohn’s No Waste Food Challenge (founded by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary) and Sarah and Katie’s Speedy Suppers (though I’m bending the rules a touch on cooking time, the prep is so quick and easy, I hope they won’t mind).

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For this week’s Meet The Blogger, I’m happy to introduce Laura, the author behind How To Cook Good Food. Based in Surrey, Laura is a very seasonal cook, and she enjoys growing her own fruit and vegetables, as we do.

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Hello and welcome, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about the kind of content you share.

Hello, I’m Laura. My blog has a tag line, recipes for food lovers. It is for fellow food fans and cooks who appreciate good food. I write recipes using the influence of the growing season. I also like to create recipes that are influenced by different food cultures and I love to use spices and fresh herbs. I also attend the occasional chef masterclass or food event/show and I review these along with food related products. I will only mention these products if I genuinely think my readers will want to hear about them and they are of good quality.

Is there a story behind your blog’s name?

The blog’s name came from an idea by my husband of combining “How to Cook” by Delia and “Good Food” magazine by the BBC.

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Tell us the story of your most spectacular kitchen failure!

I once had some friends over to dinner and forgot I had brownies baking in the oven. I blame the wine! When I spotted them, completely burned I decided to knock up another batch whilst the guests were sitting happily drinking lots more wine in the sitting room. The next batch turned out perfectly and we were able to eat them warm. I never admitted this was because I burnt the first batch.

Which food or ingredients could you not live without?

I could not live without sea salt, garlic or chillies.

Which food writers / chefs do you find most inspirational and in the same spirit, are there any particular cookery books you cherish above the rest of the shelf?

My favourite cook books are by female chefs. One in particular is “The Cook’s Companion” by Stephanie Alexander. It is a huge tome which I bought years ago when I lived near Books for Cooks and I refer to it regularly more for personal use than for the blog.

If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?

As I know you are a huge fan of Japanese food, as am I, I would cook you a Japanese feast. Gyoza, tempura, sushi, okonomiyaki and some teryaki and yakitori meats with pickled vegetables.

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What is the hardest aspect of blogging for you?

The hardest aspect of blogging is the time it takes to put a post together. Even when I keep them short and sweet, there is still the lengthy process of editing photos and naming them. Then there is the time spent promoting the posts on social media and checking comments. Not to mention the shopping for ingredients and composing half decent photographs, a skill I am always trying to improve on. Also, the proof reading takes quite a bit of concentration.

What inspires you to keep blogging regularly?

For me it is about CPD (Continual professional development). As a cookery tutor, I am always striving to learn and improve my skills both as a cook and as a teacher. I find that blogging helps me keep up to date with trends, developing my cookery skills and techniques as well as learning from others by attending cookery masterclasses and reading a huge amount of food blogs plus the odd cook book.

I aim to blog a recipe once a week but on a good week I can stretch to two as long as one of them is short on words and pictures. I do struggle to fit in the reviews I must say and have been pretty poor with hosting blog challenges. These are things I will try to rectify next year.

In reality, there is always something I could be doing more of for my blog but life, 3 kids and a ridiculous amount of after school activities not to mention cooking every day for the family tends to get in the way. And my teaching work too!

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What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, doing right now?

There are two types of influence that I have when cooking and eating. One is seasonal and the other is cultural.

Seasonally, I am loving pumpkin, butternut squash, apples, pears, chard and kale.

My seasonal cooking includes loads of soups and bakes. I have been making pumpkin soup and bread, roasted butternut squash enjoyed with gran Luchito chilli honey, Kale in my superfood salad or stir fried with garlic & chilli and crumbles aplenty with the fruits.

Culturally, I am obsessed by both Japanese and Korean food. I have a cupboard full of ingredients that I come back to using regularly. I bought a mammoth selection of seaweeds, vinegars, noodles and sauces and I have a new found love of tofu and an ongoing love of anything chilli’ed and pickled.

I have been making lots of Japanese pancakes (okonomiyaki) and miso noodle soups but also some Bibimbap and Korean fried chicken. I find Japanese food subtle and light whereas Korean food satisfies my chilli habit.

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What’s the single most popular post on your blog?

Roasted Mediterranean vegetables – This never ceases to amaze me. Every day it is top of the most viewed pages. The weird thing is, it has absolutely no comments on it!

Can we give a little extra love and attention to a post you love but didn’t catch the attention of your readers in the way you hoped?

My tagliatelle with flower sprouts & chorizo. This is such a tasty dish, and if you haven’t tried flower sprouts you really should, They are so much better than regular sprouts and are a perfect partner for chorizo. The post also happens to have one of my better photos from the early days of blogging. There is still one shocker on there which I keep meaning to replace but I won’t draw your attention to it!

Tagliatelle flower sprout sml

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Blog URL – http://www.howtocookgoodfood.co.uk
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I’m conscious that nearly a year has passed since our last trip to Japan and I still have so much about the trip that I haven’t shared yet.

One of my favourite mornings was a visit to Kyoto’s Toji Temple for the monthly Kōbō-san flea market that’s held in the grounds on the 21st of each month. It was surprisingly busy, with a food-to-eat-now and produce market alongside the stalls selling both second hand goods and new products. I loved it! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Click on any image to view a larger version.

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Approaching the entrance; entering; within the temple grounds

 

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An area of prayer by a statue of Kōbō Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism in Japan and the head priest of the temple about 30 years after its establishment

 

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Random market wares

 

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Food vendors, to eat on site and to takeaway; I was surprised to recognise the man in the yellow apron and headgear from our trip the previous year, I remembered him being at Takayama Miyagawa morning market!

 

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There were peaceful corners even amid the bustle of flea market day

Find more of my Japan content, here.

 

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Icelanders love their hot dogs! Who knew?

Well, anyone who’s spent any time in Iceland, that’s who; recommendations to seek out Icelandic pylsa abound and I’m adding one more to the pile!

An Icelandic pylsa is much like a hot dog anywhere in the world… with a few little touches that make it a little different. Firstly, if you order your hot dog með öllu (with everything) you’ll get crispy fried onions – usually the kind you can buy ready made from the supermarket – and finely diced crunchy raw onions, both spread along the roll underneath the frankfurter. You can skip the raw onions if you must by ordering með öllu nema hráum (with everything except raw) but why would you? On top you’ll get ketchup and mustard, as you might expect, plus another condiment you might not; remúlaði. Remoulade is a mayonnaise-based sauce most commonly served with fish but in Iceland (and Denmark too) it’s become a key hot dog condiment as well.

The most famous hot dog vendor in Iceland is probably Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, sold out of two mobile vans in Reykjavik. Their sausages are made by Sláturfélag Suðurlands, a food-producing cooperative owned by farmers from southern and western regions of Iceland. I’m curious as to why these are named vinarpylsa, which I think translates to ’friend sausages’. Anyone?

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I liked my Baejarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog a lot but personally I was just as happy with the hot dogs I ate elsewhere in Iceland at tourist sites and in petrol station restaurants. My favourite was the bacon-wrapped example from an Olis petrol station’s Grill 66 fast food restaurant.

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The remoulade served with hot dogs in Iceland is pale yellow but my recipe (below) is green as I’ve upped the quantity of parsley. I’ve also skipped the mustard since mustard is one of the other condiments to be squirted on anyway. By all means, adjust your remoulade recipe to better match the Icelandic style.

Icelandic Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog

Ingredients per hot dog
1 frankfurter sausage
1 rasher of streaky bacon, smoked or unsmoked
1 hot dog bun
(Optional) 1-2 tablespoons finely diced raw white onion
1-2 tablespoons crispy fried onions
Squirt of ketchup
Squirt of sweet mustard
Squirt of remoulade sauce (see below)

  • Wrap a rasher of streaky bacon around each frankfurter. Fry gently in a pan until the bacon is cooked and has taken on a little colour.
  • Slice the hotdog bun from the top, without cutting all the way through.
  • Open the bun and add a layer of raw onion (if using) and a layer of crispy onion.
  • Top with the bacon-wrapped frankfurter.
  • Add ketchup, sweet mustard and remoulade over the top and serve immediately.
    Tip: I spooned some remoulade into a freezer bag and snipped off a tiny corner, in an attempt to make it easier to pipe, but I still made quite a mess. If you have an empty nozzled squeezy bottle, that would be perfect.

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Icelandic Remoulade Sauce

Makes a small jar, can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Ingredients
120 ml mayo
2-3 tablespoons flat parsley leaves
2 medium spring onions
2 medium pickled gherkins
1 tablespoon pickled gherkin brine or cider vinegar
Optional: 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
Optional: 1 teaspoon mustard

  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor or a grinder that can handle wet ingredients.
  • Blend until smooth.

Of course, there’s more to Icelandic cuisine than hot dogs. I’ll be sharing more from our trip soon!

 

For this week’s Meet The Blogger, I talk to Sally Prosser, author of My Custard Pie. Based in Dubai, Sally shares a mix of British and local cuisine and recommendations for visitors to her adopted home.

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Hello and welcome, plea­se introduce yourself and tell us a little about the kind of content you share.

My Custard Pie is about food at the centre my everyday family life as an expat in Dubai. It includes recipes which I try to base on the seasonal local produce that’s available here – I’d sum this up as British influenced comfort food with a twist. Visitors to Dubai usually have an idea of a modern, blingy place – I try to offer an alternative view through food stories and reviews (although I did try an £800 cocktail with gold in it once). Travel is also viewed through a food lens…. or wine (a life-long journey to learn and taste more). My motivation…? I’m a keen eater

Is there a story behind your blog’s name?

It’s metaphor for life: delicious, inviting but unexpectedly might hit you in the face. It reminds me of childhood squabbles with my sister over the skin of the custard (Birds) and the Phantom Flan Flinger. I do have a bit of a custard obsession.

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What are your earliest memories of cooking? Who or what inspired you to cook?

Rolling out bits of pastry with my Mum on the kitchen table… and she inspired me to cook, although she’d be astonished to hear that. It was basic food on a budget but all cooked from scratch, a lot of produce from the garden. She taught me to value good ingredients, for instance we ate bread from the baker rather than ‘rubber bread’ (white-sliced) which was the norm for the rest of our street.

What are the biggest influences on your cooking at the moment?

The changing dynamics of our family. My daughter has just gone to University so the vegetarian vote in our house (my younger daughter) has increased to one-third! I’ve acquired a slow-cooker so expect lots of gently-cooked but spicy pulse-based recipes. I also love the flavours and ingredients I experienced in Georgia and I’m learning about the cuisines which spread from the Caspian sea to the Black Sea and down to Iran.

Tell us the story of your most spectacular kitchen failure!

Probably when hot fat from some pork rind dripped onto my oven floor and caught fire while I was cooking for 10 people. A friend threw water on it, which sparked off huge flames – I thought the house would burn down. It didn’t and we still ate the roast potatoes that had been in there… outside in the garden.

Which food or ingredients could you not live without?

Garlic – my Polish grandma ate a raw clove every day which may account for my high tolerance levels and love of the stuff. Lemon, I would choose lemon over chocolate any day.

Which food writers / chefs do you find most inspirational and in the same spirit, are there any particular cookery books you cherish above the rest of the shelf?

Tamasin Day-Lewis is the cookbook author I turn to most. She is so in tune with the seasons, good simple food and great produce that’s available locally. One of the absolute highlights of my blogging journey was being invited to Diana Henry’s home. Her writing style is warm, inviting and her recipes meticulous. She manages to have her finger on the foodie pulse without succumbing to fashion or transience. Claudia Roden shaped the way I cook Middle Eastern food, was my companion in Saudi Arabia and I still refer to her New Book of Middle Eastern Food regularly. Dubai-life has meant I’ve been lucky enough to meet many celebrity chefs including Giorgio Locatelli several times. His dedication to achieving the best flavours with simple ingredients is impressive, and his genuine concern for the environment and his enthusiasm for great produce sets him way apart from so many who pay lip service. Oh, and his truffle risotto is sublime.

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If I were coming for dinner, what would you cook for me?

Usually something I’d never cooked before. I love having people round as it gives me carte blanche to try things out. Probably quite a high risk strategy. Perhaps a full-blown Georgian feast, or an Iranian rice dish…although I might change my mind. We’d have good wine and great cheese at the end and I always over-cater…

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If we were meeting for a meal out, which restaurant would you choose?

In the UK I would return to the Riverford Field Kitchen in the middle of their Devon Farm. Huge sharing platters of delicious simple dishes which are very veg heavy (and picked outside that day) and traditional puds with loads of custard of course. In Dubai it would be a tiny Morrocan restaurant in an obscure part of the city where the chefs sing and ululate from the kitchen to welcome you, and the waiters slice the enormous sugar-coated pastilla with a ceremonial dagger.

What’s been your favourite destination thus far, from a foodie perspective? Can you share a favourite memory from the trip?

Definitely Georgia in the Caucasus – a beautiful country with five micro-climates, stunning scenery and warm, kind people with a unique culture and heritage which has survived almost miraculously. Opening a qvevri (a clay vessel) which is buried in the ground and tasting the new wine with the people who had picked the grapes and made the wine was really special… as well as many banquets with heart-felt speeches, myriad courses and haunting polyphonic singing.

Which destination is at the top of your foodie travel wish list?

The Caucasus beckon again with Armenia and Azerbaijan tied in top place.

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If we were to take a trip together, where would we go?

We’d drive from Dubai to the Mussandam coast in Oman. A dhow (wooden boat) trip would show us the splendour of the coast line which is like Norways fjords but barren and rocky. We’d eat freshly caught fish smothered in herbs hot from the barbecue.

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What inspires you to keep blogging regularly?

Endless subject matter (I have over 150 draft posts) and the wonderful online community. Fooderati Arabia in the UAE and many, many friends I’ve met online and off from all over the world… all with a passion for food.

What are you absolutely loving cooking, eating, doing right now?

I’m on a preserved lemon kick right now, the vibrant, sharp, saltiness enhances so many things. It’s peak pomegranate season now and I bought some wild, organic fruit picked in Oman. Such a fresh and delicate flavour.

What’s the single most popular post on your blog?

Where to take visitors to eat out in Dubai on a budget – based on the reactions of a stream of friends and family visiting for over 14 years.

Can we give a little extra love and attention to a post you love but didn’t catch the attention of your readers in the way you hoped?

I spent a year researching my Desert Island Dishes post and it includes Georgio Locatelli, Antonio Carluccio, Clovis Tattinger (all interviewed personally) and many of my very favourite bloggers. This courgette cluster bread deserves some more love too.

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What’s the one question you wish I’d asked you but didn’t?

What’s my biggest concern about food?

Please go ahead and answer it!

The control of our food chain and supply system by ‘Big Food’, Chemical companies and those solely motivated by the bottom-line and share-holder value.

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