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Showing posts from 2011

2011 Christmas Gift Guide and Chocolate Giveaway [CLOSED]

Christmas is something I've only begun to celebrate at home relatively recently - I'm technically a Buddhist and my family never went in for seasonal gifts.

Because of this, I have a tendency to buy presents whenever the whim takes me, so by the time December comes rolling round, I find I've already got a neat little stockpile of goods to hand out to my nearest and dearest.

So here's a selection of stuff from my stockpile that I think you will like too (and there's a giveaway at the bottom...)

Hotel Chocolat Rather Large Christmas Cracker

This was sent to me to review. It's big and well packaged, so home delivery is a safe option. Stuffed with 40 fine chocolates including truffles, pralines and Christmas Mess (sadly wrapped in dingy shades of brown paper), 12 gold paper crowns and some rubbish jokes, this would make a good Christmas party present.

Also, the explosion was so exciting that one of the chocolates flew under my sofa without me realising and so I got a bo…

Lakeland Giveaway - Christmas Cakes and Cookies [CLOSED]

When I was at college, one of the most exciting things to happen to me apart from bumping into Craig Charles was the opening of a Lakeland store.

Because Lakeland really is the closest thing to a real-life Innovations catalogue, and you know how much I loved those. Of course, like an Innovations catalogue, 50% of the stuff is brilliant, inspired and useful, and 50% is utter bobbins.

Bobbins, however, is in the eye of the beholder and whilst it's hard to dispute that this has no earthly point, I'm sure some of you will adore the gadgets which make me squint and say, "Really? I mean, really?".

Take these two items. Literally take them from me.

Because the lovely folk at Lakeland have sent me stuff that implies they think I like baking and I don't. I really don't.

Kransekake Cake Pan Set (rrp £9.99)

A kransekake is a traditional Norwegian dessert made of stacking concentric rings of marzipan cake that's eaten at weddings, Christmas, or New Year's Eve. Many, ma…

Tonkatsu Recipe (Japanese Schnitzel) and Home-Made Panko

A lot of people think Japanese food is just raw fish. Whilst sashimi is one of my favourite things to eat, this notion couldn't be further from the truth.

My husband's favourite food from Japan is tonkatsu. A pork cutlet which has been dredged in flour, egg and panko breadcrumbs before being deep-fried till it's crisp and golden yet still juicy and without a whisper of grease.

Like tempura, Japan's more famous fried food, tonkatsu actually came from Portuguese traders in the 19th century, and was originally considered to be yoshoku - or Western food - but it has now been firmly adopted as washoku - Japanese cuisine.

Tonkatsu is made with boneless pork loin steaks or chops (with a ribbon of fat if possible), though I sometimes go left-field and use pork loin slices cut for shabu-shabu which makes for a daintier dish.

With a tussock of thinly-shredded cabbage, a dab of yellow mustard, a drizzle of fruity tonkatsu sauce, some pickles and some hot sesame rice, a meal of fresh-…

Roast Pig Cheeks / Char Siu Pig Cheeks

A friend of mine who runs my favourite pub* recently told someone that I had some brilliant stir-fry recipes right here on my blog.

I was forced to admit that there weren't any (save Burmese Pork and Beans), partly because I figured most of you lovely readers would know how to make them, but mainly because most of my recipes burble around in my brain and only occasionally make it on-line.

This is one of the recipes that I've been meaning to share for ever, but then I get distracted by a moth or a giant panda.

Pig cheeks. Vaguely fashionable, still cheap as chips, available at canny butchers, Waitrose and Morrisons.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that pig cheeks, like ox cheeks, need to be slow-cooked to be tender and delicious. And though I have been known to braise or stew them, god knows I wasn't blessed with a lot of patience, and so I experimented with cooking them in various ways (even one of those stir-fry jobs) before discovering that they're staggeringly go…

Morphy Richards One Cup Review

So you may remember that Morphy Richards asked me to be one of their Home of the Houseproud reviewers. The way it works is they ask me if I'm interested in the gadget of the month and I say yea or nay depending on caprice.

Most recently, they offered to send me the One Cup. Now, I have the brain of a guttersnipe and clearly spend too much time on the internet, so of course I accepted this offer with glee.

In fact, I was this close to getting my sister-in-law to pose with me and the machine, purely so I could post a photo with an appropriate caption, but then I thought that might be going too far for a family-friendly site.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, that's a good thing.

In direct contrast to the beast they sent me last time, the Morphy Richards One Cup is relatively petite and rather curvaceous.

Its concept is simple - it heats and dispenses one cup of water for you in about 30 seconds - so a bit like the long-lost Tefal Quick Cup which I nearly bought before I…

Rodizio Rico, Fulham

I used to have this recurring dream that I was at the most glorious buffet. I knew it was a dream as the food looked more beautiful, more luscious, more tempting than anything you could possibly imagine. I'd pile my plate high, and return to my seat, and just as I was about to dig in, I'd abruptly wake up.

I don't think this means anything more profound than the fact that I am a pathetically greedy person. But the only thing I can think of that would be better than a buffet (apart from this one) is an all-you-can-eat that comes to me.

And what an all-you-can-eat - men with meat - wielding huge whacking swords of the stuff (and we're back to the psycho-analysis).

Rodizio-style churrascarias are a real dream; at these Brazilian steakhouses, an endless procession of butch, barbecued meat is brought straight to your table by the dashing passadores and carved onto your plate until you admit defeat.

Rodizio Rico is such an establishment - unlimited 'prime cuts' and a buf…

City Caphe, Bank

I've just been in Japan for a fortnight and I really didn't want to leave.

But when I was on the plane back to Blighty, I decided to count my blessings, one of which is a little Vietnamese cafe near my office called City Caphe.

Open only at lunchtimes, I've got through many a long morning at my desk by day-dreaming about City Caphe's food.

The day-dreaming continues as I wait in their queue which stretches out the door - it's a dratted constant, but it's worth standing there, even in the rain.

Sometimes I press my nose against the window, Charlie Bucket-like, to stare at the gorgeous steaming dishes that others are already enjoying.

The queue continues to wind inside, but rather charmingly, they have a selection of books for the hungry punters to pass the time.

I'm not a bread person, but even I adore City Caphe's banh mi, and their summer rolls are the best I've had (apart from my own) - packed with prawns and herbs, though there's a tofu version for…