A slice of Costa Rica – Casado

With summer firmly on it’s way out and Autumn settling in, the chilly nights demand some great comfort food. I wanted to try something different so I choose a popular Costa Rican dish – Casado. Why? Well, it’s the ideal comfort food, easy to put together and tastes amazing! Best part is it’s very easy on the pocket and if you plate it well, it looks like a posh meal – no one would guess what went into making it!

Costa Rican Casado

                                                                                                             Costa Rican Casado

Casado literally means a ‘married man’ and it is said that the name probably originates from how the local men expected food to be served when they were eating outside so that it reminded them of familiar tastes of a home cooked meal. An authentic Casado which is served at ‘sodas’ or local cafes is accompanied by what is known as a Lizano sauce. The brand name Lizano is now generic and retails in N. America.  Since this sauce is yet to hit UK shores ( believe me I did a fair bit of looking around in shops that sell Mexican ingredients, Asian, Carribean and most of my local supermarkets) I finally decided to make my own ,which was a great decision – why ? Well scope to experiment and innovate for one, coupled with freedom to incorporate easy to procure, local ingredients – resulting in a deliciously moorish creation! A traditional root vegetables dish from Costa Rico called Picadillo is a popular side dish with rice and tortillas. You can safely say that the gravy sauce is a marriage of sorts between the Lizano sauce and the Picadillo. I have done a fair amount of customisation and the most interesting part of cooking Casado was creating the gravy sauce, combining it with root vegetables and serving it as a wholesome gravy side dish. Let’s get started with the sauce aka gravy as this will take the most time to cook of all the other sides.

Costa Rican Casado

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Recipe is good for 2 with generous helpings.

Root Vegetable Gravy Side

Prep & Cooking Time: 35 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium juicy tomato – finely chopped
  • 2 small red onions finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots chopped into tiny cubes
  • 3 small sweet fresh peppers finely chopped
  • A handful of cauliflower florets
  • A handful of very finely chopped sweet potato
  • 1 heaped tbsp of finely grated celeriac
  • A pinch of garlic puree
  • Half a dry red Kashmiri chilli
  • ½ tsp of thick tamarind puree
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp freshly grated black pepper
  •  1/2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • Salt as per taste
  • A handful of finely chopped coriander

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and add the chopped onions, add the garlic puree and cumin powder and stir well.
  2. When the onion starts to reduce add the bay leaves, the chopped tomato and chopped sweet peppers, stir the the tomato & peppers around vigorously bit to get them to release their juices and reduce the flame to a minimum.
  3. Throw in the finely chopped carrot cubes, sweet potato, grated celeriac, tomato puree and add enough water to cover this mixture.
  4. Cook with lid on till the sweet potato and carrots begin to soften, then it’s time to toss in the cauliflower florets, season with the dry red chilli,tamarind,cracked black pepper, salt and sugar and give it a good stir.
  5. Let this cook on a low flame with lid for about 25 minutes.
  6. Keep opening the lid, stirring and adjusting the water if it becomes to run dry, we need a gravy like consistency.
  7. When it done, add some finely chopped coriander in the tamarind should give it a bit of tangy twist, while the dried Kashmiri chilli gives it colour and mild heat, the sweet pepper and tomato puree work their magic together and the gravy is delicious and wholesome what with so many veggies hidden inside!

Root Vegetable Gravy Sauce

Red Kidney bean side

Prep and Cooking Time: 15 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 medium sized red onion
  • 2 large tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp garlic puree
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil and sauté the chopped onions, add the garlic puree and stir well.
  2. After the onion has sautéed, add the tomato puree and stir then add the beans and mix well.
Red onions for Kidney Beans

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  1. Add some water to the mixture and reduce the flame to a minimum, cook with a lid on but check often so that it does not burn or run dry.
  2. 4.Since the canned and ready to eat red kidney beans are preserved in salty water, check the taste before adding in any more salt, chuck in some dry red chilli flakes for flavour and set aside.
Red Kidney Bean side is done

                                                                                         Red Kidney Bean side is done

Boiled white rice

  • Cook 1 cup rice using exactly double the water and a pinch of salt

Fried Plantain

  • Peel and chop the plantain into large chunks and fry in hot oil in a kadhai or wok until they are a light brown. It’s easy for them to char so get them out as soon as the colour turns a golden shade of brown, allow to cool on a plate on a bit of kitchen roll to soak excess oil.

Plaintains peeled

  • Don’t fret if like me you can’t peel the plantain I simply use a knife and remove the thick green skin, even if that means that the plantain pieces are hexagonal or cubes now, well I never was too good at geometry 😉

Frying Plantains in Kadhai

Fish

  • Casado can be served with meat, fish or chicken. Chop one large fillet of fresh salmon and pan fry both sides till done in about 1 tbsp oil.

Salmon Pan Shallow Fry

Cheese Tortilla

  • Heat a large flour tortilla –shop bought on a pan and adds a generous helping of grated parmesan cheese on tortilla. Just as the tortilla heats up and the cheese shows sign of melting fold the tortilla in half and flip over and toast each side till you have a crispy yum cheesy tortilla, slice into neat triangles ready to be served.

Tortilla on pan with grated cheddar

Cabbage Salad

  • Chop a fresh cabbage fine to get one large handful of cabbage, add half a red onion and a small handful of finely chopped cucumber, squeeze half a lime, sprinkle some cracked black pepper, a small amount of fresh finely chopped coriander and toss all these together. Easy-peasy right?

Folded Tortilla

Serve the steaming hot rice with the salmon on the side, topped with some of the root vegetable gravy. Mop up the beans with the cheesy tortilla and munch on the sweet fried plantain with generous bites of the tangy cabbage salad in between mouthfuls of everything else.

Costa Rican Casado

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Häagen-Daz rings in Spring Summer 2015 with captivating new flavour combinations

Last week may have forced us all to crank up the heater and go back to stews and soups, but hopefully if the weather today was any indication Spring is finally here – fingers crossed!

After a lazy Sunday spent lounging around after a stroll in the park where it felt amazing to feel the sun on my face, I deiced to allow myself a bit of indulgence. Sitting in my freezer and waiting to be eaten were 2 new flavours from Häagen-Daz – a limited edition exotic flavour  – Yuzu Citrus & Cream and a dreamy Chocolate Salted Caramel.

They were sent to me in a goody bag with a yuzu lemon juice from Waitrose which I used to season a whole fresh sea bass for dinner last Friday and some yuze scented bath bombs from Lush. Those am saving up for a quite dip in the tub sometime this coming week.

Yuzu Lemon is definitely the new citrus craze in town and in ice cream form its creamy tangy taste is quite irresistible. It’s good to know then that Häagen-Daz handpicks the exquisite Yuzu fruit from the Japanese mountains of Kôshi.

The sour hybrid of mandarin and ichang papeda is pressed fresh to deliver a juice with crisp flavour notes, reminiscent of mandarin and grapefruit. The juices are then mixed with sweet oranges to create a refreshing sauce that twists into Häagen-Dazs’ original ice cream recipe for a uniquely intense taste.

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The die hard chocoholics also have reason to celebrate as the new Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Salted Caramel combines the delicious chocolate ice cream with generous silky ribbons of salted caramel and delicate brittle, delivering a moment of decadence with every satisfying crunch.

To really enjoy your Häagen-Dazs allow it to rest for a while before you dive into it, just when it starts to melt is the the time when you will relish it the most. Like all their flavours, these new flavour combinations are made using 100% real milk and cream and yolks from free-range eggs.

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**Häagen-Dazs Yuzu Citrus & Cream is now available to purchase from Sainsburys and Waitrose and Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Salted Caramel is now available to purchase from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco.

*With thanks to Häagen-Dazs  and the  PR team for sending me samples for review. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Jus-Rol Turkey, Ham and cheese tart

Hello Everyone!

I have been away on a long holiday in Indian for almost four weeks. I got back last week and it has taken my system a few days to throw off the jet-lag completely and my internal thermostat to acclimatise to the massive difference in the weather.But am back now all refreshed and raring to go! So expect a lot of new and fun recipes, LOTS of travel posts and many photographs from my foodie and travel adventures – oh yes not to mention more exciting competitions, fabulous restaurant reviews and events that I will be going to soon – woohoo!

While I was in India I did a fair bit of travelling to Chennai, Pondicherry and shuttling between Mumbai and Pune. So all the resulting fatigue has taken it’s toll too.

Besides have discovered that I do have a fair amount of catching up to do with my blogging as well. hummm

So dinner the day after I landed had had to be a simple affair, because my body clock was still following IST. We decided to make a quick and super easy yet delicious Turkey, Ham and cheese tart using my own recipe. Hubster and me are both big fans of Jus-Rol as it really can save the day when things are crazy busy or plain lazy 😉

I have made a few minor tweaks to the original recipe but other than that it was smooth sailing. Here is my version:

Prep. Time: Less than 10 minutes
Makes: 2 servings
Total Time: 35 mins
Ingredients:
  • 320 gm Jus-Rol™ puff pastry ready rolled sheet
  • 2 medium onion peeled & chopped fine
  • 100 gm cooked ham diced
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 3 heaped tbsp Gran Luchito smoked chilli honey
  • 250 gm cooked turkey diced
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 75 gm grated Parmesan Cheese

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan, gently sauté the onion until it is translucent, then add the diced ham and cook on a low flame for about 2 minutes. Meanwhile remove the Jus-Rol™ puff pastry ready rolled sheet and allow it to rest while the filling is being prepared.
  2. Add the turkey,season to taste and then add the smoked chilli honey. Stir continuously to ensure the chilli honey does not burn and cook on a gentle, low flame for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Prepare a baking tray by lining with a baking sheet and carefully place the Jus-Rol™ puff pastry ready rolled sheet onto the baking sheet.
  4. Preheat oven to 220°C/(200°C for fan assisted ovens)/Gas 7.
  5. Spoon out the turkey and ham mixture onto the baking sheet and sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese over the mixture.
  6. Bake in the preheated for 20 minutes and serve hot.

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I remember going to buy Jus- Rol at a supermarket two years ago post Christmas and it simply wasn’t available anywhere. Clearly people had been smart and stocked up on this lifesaving fridge fav for all those leftover meals after the big day. And have since then made a mental note to stock up well in advance for future occasions. There have been numerous dinners and surprise tea time treats for unannounced but welcome visitors who have been fed piping hot treats with several hot cuppas thanks to that pastry roll lying in my fridge! So like many of my store  cupboard essentials this is one of my life savers and will almost always be found living in my refrigerator.

I loved this recipe and now am looking forward to more experiments with Jus-Rol .

If you need more inspiration to get creative with Jus-Rol why not check out these gorgeous recipes on the Jus-Rol website ?

*With thanks to Jus-Rol and the  PR team for sending vouchers to buy some samples of Jus-Rol  for review . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Amur Beluga Caviar – a Review

The beauty of any food and consuming it is in also understanding the history of its origin and the aura and mystique surrounding the food especially if it is Caviar.

My family and me hail from the western coastal parts of India – namely Konkan and fish was always a part of the daily diet , over the years of course the consumption of fish daily is not practical due to various reasons but the love for all things seafood is deeply ingrained in all of us.So when I was offered a chance to review Amur Beluga Caviar by Caviar Classic, London, I could not refuse.

 

Caviar classic is a small London based Caviar Company, owned and run by Darren Pedersen. They pride themselves on sustainably farmed products that are guaranteed to live up to the highest standards.

Amur Beluga is a hybrid of the Acipenser Schrenkii (Amur Sturgeon) combined with the Huso Dauricus Sturgeon (Freshwater Beluga) resulting in a gold green egg with a bit of a harder shell that pops in your mouth, the aftertaste is light and creamy. This combination of the two of the best Sturgeon in the world, not only takes 10 years to mature, but also produces a magnificent sizeable shimmering silver Roe. Naturally then this is a favourite amongst caviar connoisseurs around the world.

At the moment the Amur Beluga is in many ways considered a better product than most Iranian/Russian Beluga’s as the eggs are bigger (3mm in size) and the quality is in most ways is of a higher standard.
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Caviar is served with mother of pearl caviar spoons to avoid tainting the taste of the caviar. I was also sent this beautiful spoon along with the Caviar and Caviar classic always try to go that little bit further to ensure that their customers receive their purchase at it’s best, such as chilled boxes with small ice packs and an extra gift – like this lovely spoon – in most packs.

We ate the caviar on wafer thin slices of toast with a fresh juicy salad tomato sliced in half – I wanted an absolutely neutral and fresh base to feel the caviar on my tongue …the little gems popping in my mouth …exploding with flavour…

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I paired the caviar with a fine Chablis from Waitrose as dry whites work as well as Champagne. Caviar can be had with a good creamy cheese too.

I have stowed the remaining away in the coldest part of my refrigerator where it should stay upto a month but ideally wouldn’t keep it for more than 3 days. And no matter what happens never freeze caviar as it can damage the delicate membrane.

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For me this post would be incomplete without mentioning how much consuming this Caviar reminded me of a scene from Casino Royale where Bond he is seen enjoying Beluga Caviar on toast as he sips on his nth Vesper Martini and seduces femme fatale Vesper after his big win at the casino.

James Bond 007 eating caviar

“The problem is not how to get enough caviar but how to get enough toast with it.” – James Bond in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royal
Image Credit: Aston from the Bond Lifestyle Forum

Thanks to my Baba, who is a great fan of 007 and the movie series, the craze for the books, movies and trivia has been passed down to my sister and me and till date the best movie marathons we have at home are when we watch Bond Films back to back with Sean Connery and Daniel Craig as our top Fav Bond actors with Pierce Brosnan as a hot favourite amongst the women in our family 😉

The fictitious and very Charming James Bond lives the high life and one his many expensive tastes is for the most exclusive and expensive – Beluga Caviar. No one rocks the Champagne and Caviar for dinner combination like Bond does, isn’t it ?sighhhhh

Hope that all of you enjoy the party tonight – Bond style with some splendid Champagne – hopefully Bond’s Fav – Dom Pérignon for the lucky few with lots of Caviar and toast to go around and hope you have great company to ring in the New Year.

Adios dear readers and off I go to ring in the New Year and dance the night away , here’s wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year where I shall continue to share my adventures in the kitchen and outside , a lot of travel stories and yes loads of other great c0ntent – stay tuned folks but for now – au revoir !

Caviar Classic
Image Credit: Caviar classic
 *With thanks to Caviar classic and the  PR agency  for sending me a sample of Amur Beluga  for review . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Introducing Britannia’s Nutri Choice Heavens – India’s new delightful healthy cookie – Guest Post

Guest Post by my sister Dr. Mrs.Monika Tandon 

Recently Madison PR gave me a packet of Britannia’s Nutri Choice Heavens to review. A new arrival on health food market; the cookie is filled with cranberries and made of whole grain oats. Mildly sweet and chewy with a fresh baked flavor it’s a great accompaniment with green chai or a health drink like cold veggie juice.

Nutri Choice 1

Each cookie is individually foil sealed and the entire pack is an enchanting mauve. The taste and presentation are appealing to both kids and adults.

A truly healthy and tasty way to say Good Morning.

 

Nutri Choice 2

About the Author – Dr.Mrs.Monika (Chitnis) Tandon – who resides in Mumbai, India

Reviews, research, ratings…all invaluable tools for a working mom who wants to keep up with all that’s healthy, tasty and best for her family. That’s what keeps me going too and adds fun to all my food cooked as a Monday morning tiffin or as a weekend treat. Travel trips with overnighters and client meetings and family vacations are all fun with my meticulously researched itineraries and DSLR. Hope you enjoy my two bits in ink…Writing straight from me to you, Monika.

 

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*With  thanks to Britannia,India and Madison PR for the invite and sending a sample. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

 

 

Häagen-Dazs Limited Edition Christmas ice cream cake – Le Village

Each year, the Christmas Häagen-Dazs ice cream cake is a new gourmand creation which unites the beauty of design with the succulence of ingredients. For this 7th edition, Häagen-Dazs has sought Nendo – a Japanese designer whose powerful imagination is combined with the simplicity of lines. Nendo’s technical excellence matches the poetry in his creations. Le Village instantly brings back memories of New Year parties, the magic of Christmas, and the fragility of woken dreams. Between marvellous fairy tales and enchanted reality, the Village brings together adults and children around the same desire for sharing.

Of the two versions of Le Village created  (pink or chocolate houses), I was sent one of the Le Village cakes as a beautiful early Christmas present – one with pink houses – talk about getting an ‘inside scoop’ !!

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A frozen wonderland with a sleek design.

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Each Le Village creation both pink and chocolate contains a delicious original recipe, one enhancing the iconic flavours from Häagen-Dazs (Macadamia Nut Brittle and Dulche de Leche), and the other completely original with a new limited edition flavour ( Vanilla and florentine ).

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To the excellency of its ice cream, Häagen-Dazs adds another ingredient to sublimate its recipes: chocolate. In fact, the houses themselves are made of milk or white chocolate and filled with fudge sauce and caramelized hazelnuts . They are then delicately dusted with icing sugar, like freshly fallen snow on the rooftops.

I took this beautiful cake to my friends place at a Pre-Christmas lunch party – sharing only made this treat sweeter and more special… 🙂

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Christmas is a time for generosity; for large tables, the Village can be expanded at the wish of Nendo who, in a final gesture of great inspiration, created a small bridge out of chocolate, which allows the two different villages to be joined together. So everyone has the chance to (re)create their own Village, a purely indulgent creation with timeless elegance.

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You too can discover pure indulgence and share this very special festive delight with your loved ones on Christmas day, but there are only TEN  Le Village Limited Edition Christmas ice cream cakes available to buy from the Häagen-Dazs Leicester Square store for the whole of Britain! Will YOU be one of the 10 LUCKY people across BRITAIN sharing this lovely cake for Christmas ?

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A generous helping of festive delight!

*With thanks to Häagen-Dazs  and the  PR team for sending this beautiful early Christmas present. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own

Cooking with WORLD FOODS at the School of Wok and WORLD FOODS Giveaway – CLOSED

Cooking out of jar is something we resort to only when we are really hard pressed for time or in a situation when we simply do have access to fresh ingredients, but there are few jarred sauces that defy this belief and World Foods sauces I think deserve to be one of those. The reason I say this thank to a really well planned and executed cookery class at the School of Wok courtesy WORLDFOODS and expertly conducted by Head Chef at School of Wok Jeremy Wong.

WORLDFOODS produces a range of seven ready-made sauces totaling 51 variations in all with tantalising Asian dipping sauces, pastes, noodle sauces, stir-fry, cooking sauces, marinades, chutneys and salad dressings . The best bit is that they do not use preservatives and artificial flavorings. AND their products are food allergens free, trans-fat free and gluten free with no artificial preservatives, coloring or flavouring. The aim being to produce and  maintain a  range of “clean” products that are suitable for Vegetarians, Vegans and Celiacs.

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Once we had a brief introduction from Jeremy, we were each asked to pick a partner to cook with and since I was going to be eating the duck and Nayna is a vegetarian we picked other partners and Fiona and me started working on the ingredients.

Jeremy showed us some really amazing knife skills and we sliced a pepper like I’ve never done before using a rather huge cleaver imported straight from the Far East. In spite of both Fiona and me still having wrists in bad shape we managed this bit smoothly thanks to picking up some basic techniques that Chef Jeremy very lucidly explained.

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The mention of Panang Curry duck with Thai basil stir fry  made my mouth water. On the menu was a also a Masaman roast poussin and for the vegetarians  similar dishes using the same WORLDFOODS sauces but with aubergine replacing the duck and delicious and cute squash used in place of poussin. I love paneer and the squash was stuffed with paneer – I felt slightly greedy especially when I saw the beautiful roast squash was taken out of the oven – turning a visible shade of green (with envy – which scared Fiona a little and Nayna a lot 😉 !). The vegetarians also made Rendang tacos.

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After the veggie chopping when we started cooking I was really impressed with the huge portion of duck that we were going to cook and it watching the duck sizzle and ooze its fat and juices on the pan made my tummy rumble in anticipation of a fab meal.

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What happened next was the most interesting part of the evening – we learnt some cool wok handling skills and the basics of how to get a stir fry going, I even managed to get a really cool video of Jeremy giving us some amazing tips – why not head over to my Instagram feed and watch the video now?!)

After our cooking session we sat down to a delicious meal and really enjoyed the the taste of the dishes – fresh and full of flavour – nothing that you will expect coming out of a jar – ever! The Lemon drizzle cake made with WORLDFOODS lemongrass paste had a beautiful fluffy and light texture and was irresistibly yummy. I am not a fan of traditional lemon drizzle cakes and find the sharp citrusy taste overwhelming but the milder lemon grass was a very welcome taste for me and I really think that this is going to be my favourite not so secret ingredient for my future bakes!

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With minimal prep done for us, I picked up some excellent knife skills and cookery tips, ate some gorgeous Asian Fusion food and spent a very pleasant evening in the company of some old food blogger friends and met some more really lovely bloggers. The most important part was the superb time management by Jeremy and his efficient in house chef.

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WORLDFOODS have kindly agreed to give ONE lucky reader a selection of 5 delicious sauces to experiment with so you too can create asian fusion foods using natural ingredients in the comfort of your own home.

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How to enter the WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces Giveaway with sliceoffme blog:

How to enter the giveaway:

You too can WIN 5 delicious sauces from the WORLDFOODS rangeall you have to do is :

  1. Follow me on twitter – @manjirichitnis
  2. Tweet out the following –  sauces with , to enter head to sliceoffme blog 
  3. Leave a comment below telling me what is your favourite asian dish and your facebook name used to like my FB page. I will find you on twitter via the hashtag so it’s not required for you to mention your twitter handle in the comments. Do not share your email id in the comments please.

Please have a read through the Terms and Conditions below:

  • Winner will be picked using Random Number Generator.
  • Deadline for entering this contest is 5th January’ 2015 midnight GMT.
  • Entry is open only to residents of the U.K except Scotland and Ireland.
  • All entrants must be 18 years old and above.
  • ONE lucky winner will be chosen using random number generator.
  • The giveaway prize is as mentioned in the post. Neither WORLDFOODS, nor I am liable for any damage of products and / or contents in transit.
  • Please allow a minimum of 25 days for delivery of the prize, which may reach earlier or later. The sauces will be sent directly  by WORLDFOODS.
  • The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available.
  • I retain the right to DISQUALIFY any entrant who do not complete all the 3 steps mentioned above.
  • The winner will be notified on 6th January’ 2015  on Twitter by me and here on my blog post. I shall tag the winner on Twitter via their twitter id. If you are declared as the winner you agree to allow me and Knorr to contact you via email id  to arrange for the goody bag to be sent out to you.
  • If the winner failS to respond by 8th January’ 2015  then another winner will be chosen via Random Number Generator.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE LUCKY WINNER WHO HAS WON 5 DELICIOUS WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces

Sarah Davies 

*With thanks to WORLDFOODS and the  PR team for arranging the fabulous sauces for my giveaway and inviting me for the event. A special thank you to School of Wok and  Jeremy for his time, generosity and teaching me some cool skills . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own

CLOSED – Hotel Chocolat Goody Bag Festive Giveaway and Pomegranate, caramalised Walnut and baby Kale salad with Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Balsamic

The first time I discovered Hotel Chocolat was when my friend, fellow book worm, tea enthusiast and impromptu hogging fest companion ND and me collapsed into a warm cosy corner of the beautiful Hotel Chocolate cafe’/ shop at Borough Market ( why not read about what we did, what we ate and discover the sights and sounds of our visit with my blog posts here?)

It was love at first taste for me and ever since I have adored the fabulously creative chocolates from Hotel Chocolate. But did you know that they also make a whole range of delicious products like spreads, drinking chocolates, pasta, pesto, sauces and even chilli oil all infused with cocoa and chocolate. There is a whole world of both sweet and savoury dishes that can be prepared by adding an extra touch of elegance and decadence with Hotel Chocolate products.

I was sent a bottle of theHotel Chocolate Cocoa Balsamic packaged in a  beautiful  bag for review.

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I made a filling, colourful wintery salad using some fresh ingredients and the result was this gorgeously delicious salad!

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Here is my easy recipe for :

Pomegranate,caramalised Walnut and baby Kale salad with Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Balsamic

Serves : 2

Ingredients:

  1. 1 small red onion sliced lengthwise
  2. 5- 6 smoked ham sliced fine
  3. 1/2 a pack of baby kale leaves
  4. 1/2 a pack of baby spinach leaves
  5. 1 small or 1/2 a big avocado
  6. 2 heaped tbsp pomegranate seeds
  7. a small handful of walnuts
  8. 2 tsp heaped Gran Luchito Chilli Honey
  9. Generous sloshes of Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Balsamic
  10. 1 small juicy red tomato sliced into circular discs
  11. Handful of cherry tomatoes
  12. Smoked austrian cheese
  13. 1 boiled egg

Feel free to substitute the smoked ham with shredded chicken or chicken sausages, for a vegetarian version why not add in boiled baby potatoes halved instead of meat.

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Method:

  • In a small vessel add enough water to place the egg into to boil.
  • Heat a pan on medium heat, when pan is hot add the chilli jam and throw in the walnuts, stir with a wooden spatula to coat the melting chilli jam on the walnuts. Reduce the flame to a minimum, DO NOT allow the chilli jam to smoke or burn. The caramalised walnuts are done in under a minute. Set aside to cool.

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  • Remove the egg from the boiled water, hold under running water, when the egg shell has cooled, peel it, halve and set aside.
  • Chop the red onion length wise, the tomato into circular discs and the halve the cherry tomatoes.
  • If the baby kale and baby spinach leaves are not washed , add them to a sieve and wash under running tap water.
  • Then put the leaves in a huge salad bowl and add generous sloshes of Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Balsamic.
  • On a huge plate or platter place the seasoned leaves and then place the smoked ham and cheese slices.
  • The place the avocado slices, tomato discs and cherry tomato halves.
  • Scatter the pomegranate seeds and the caramalised walnuts on top.
  • With a wooden spatula , scrape off the remaining caramalised Gran Luchito chilli honey and scatter on the salad.
  • Again drizzle the Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Balsamic on top of the salad and serve immediately.

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The tender roasted cocoa nibs soaked in Italian balsamic vinegar, create a rounded flavour that’s fabulous with avocado, tomatoes, smoked ham and smoked cheese. The caramalised walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds give this winter salad a great crunch and the chilli honey plays hide and seeks with your taste buds. The baby kale leaves have a mild and plesant taste and the spinach works as the good stuff for blood purification thanks to high iron content.

This salad is fresh , wholesome and healthy as kale is associated with a whole host of health benefits. It contains Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber and carotenoids and 45 — different flavonoids with a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

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Now for the fabulously FESTIVE GIVEAWAY OF A GOODY BAG  FROM HOTEL CHOCOLAT

One lucky winner gets a  beautiful Hotel Chocolat gift bag with the following products:

  • Hotel Chocolat Chilli and cocoa oil
  • Hotel Chocolat cocoa pasta
  • Hotel Chocolat cocoa pesto

Hotel Chocolat Chilli and cocoa finishing oil

A special recipe used by Hotel Chocolat chefs in their Boucan restaurant in Saint Lucia – extra-virgin olive oil rounded by rich notes of cocoa nibs and beans, with a kick of red chilli. Shake to wake the chilli flakes, then drizzle and dress lightly over chicken, fish, pasta, pizza and roast vegetables. Try crushing the cocoa for some fabulous bread-dipping.

Hotel Chocolat cocoa pasta

Durum wheat penne with unsweetened cocoa, as made by chefs at our Boucan restaurant in Saint Lucia and recommended by Nigella Lawson. Ideal for adding a thrill to dishes both savoury and sweet. As used by Nigella Lawson in her chocolate pasta with caramel and pecans recipe , and Hotel Chocolat’s very own Chocolate Pasta with Pesto recipe.

Hotel Chocolat cocoa pesto

Outstanding with pasta, risotto, salad, blinis, crusty bread, cold meats or straight from the jar as a dip: rough-chopped basil, crunchy pine nuts, Italian cheese and nutty roast cocoa nibs. A favourite from Hotel Chocolat’s Boucan kitchen in Saint Lucia.

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How to enter the giveaway:

You too could WIN a GOODY BAG from Hotel Chocolat PACKED with exciting products from the cocoa cuisine range, all you have to do is :

  1. Like my Facebook page and leave your facebook name as part of you comment.
  2. Follow me on twitter – @manjirichitnis
  3. Tweet out the following – GOODY BAG with ,winter salad recipe bit.ly/1smP3Kv
  4. Leave a comment below telling me which type of chocolates do you like most and your facebook name used to like my FB page. I will find you on twitter via the hashtag so it’s not required for you to mention your twitter handle in the comments. Do not share your email id in the comments please.

Please have a read through the Terms and Conditions below:

  • Winners will be picked using Random Number Generator.
  • Deadline for entering this contest is 8th January’ 2015 midnight GMT.
  • Entry is open only to residents of the U.K except Scotland and Ireland.
  • All entrants must be 18 years old and above.
  • ONE lucky winner will be chosen using random number generator.
  • The giveaway prize is as mentioned in the post. Neither Hotel Chocolat, nor I am liable for any damage of hamper and / or contents in transit.
  • Please allow a minimum of 25 days for delivery of the prize, which may reach earlier or later. The goody bags will be sent directly  by Hotel Chocolat.
  • The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available.
  • I retain the right to DISQUALIFY any entrant who do not complete all the 3 steps mentioned above.
  • The winner will be notified on 9th January’ 2015  on Twitter by me and here on my blog post. I shall tag the winner on Twitter via their twitter id. If you are declared as the winner you agree to allow me and Hotel Chocolat to contact you via email id  to arrange for the goody bag to be sent out to you.
  • If the winner failS to respond by 15th January’ 2015  then another winner will be chosen via Random Number Generator .

CONGRATULATIONS to the LUCKY winner of this fabulous GIVEAWAY of a GOODY BAG from Hotel Chocolat PACKED with exciting products from the cocoa cuisine range !!!

AND The lucky winner is: *DRUMROLLS* …….

Mark Johnson – Twitter id 

Please get in touch with me at fruitsnveg@yahoo.com

THANK YOU to everyone who participated and keep following my posts for more exciting competitions!

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*With thanks to Hotel Chocolat and the  PR team for arranging the fabulous gifts and beautiful Hotel Chocolat goody bag  and sending me  a sample of Hotel Chocolate Cocoa Balsamic for review . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own. References Wiki & Herald Tribune.

While you are here why not have a look at the other giveaways on my blog and increase your chances of winnings cool freebies!?!

  • Win one of TWO Goody Bags from KNORR packed with 2x of EACH Knorr flavour pots and stock cubes to participate click here.
  • CLOSED Win a box of Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde Box of 16 chocolates from Godiva, to participate click hereCLOSED
  • CLOSED WIN 5 delicious sauces from the WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces, to participate click here CLOSED

Knorr three peppercorn Baked fish and Knorr GIVEAWAY

After the masterclass with Master Chef Marco Pierre White, where he cooked us steak in Knorr Beef stock cube and served it with a creamy three peppercorn sauce – I was hooked onto the taste of the Knorr three peppercorn flavour pot. This mix of 3 peppercorns will add a depth of flavour to your dishes. Whether used in a straightforward steak sauce, or a luxury pork stroganoff, this little pot will instantly add a touch of indulgence to your meal.

Unilever has agreed to Giveaway TWO lucky winners a chance to WIN one of TWO goody bags PACKED to the brim with Knorr flavour pots and stock cubes .These stock pots have been created by Chef Cameron Healy who is part of a dedicated professional chefs based at Knorr, who work together to develop KNorr’s culinary creations , with good food, convenience and innovation as the main thought process behind these products.

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As you know by know I love seafood and I simply cannot resist buying fresh fish. Last week on my way home from work I saw fresh herring at supermarket and just had to bring home some for dinner. I wanted a very light quick and easy fish dish which I could have with a heavy creamy soup so I rustled up this easy baked fish. Since we were already going to consume a creamy soup I wanted to avoid using single cream to make any gravy sauce.

This baked fish recipe is a super quick and easy meal idea with very few ingredients and makes for a delicious meal. Served with a fresh leafy baby kale and cherry tomato salad it makes a refreshingly light choice. No oil is used in this dish and though the butter is 2 tbsp it is the only thing that you will add other than the flavour pot. Besides Herring are very high in the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, they are also a source of vitamin D.

A low – calorie meal for two ready in under 25 minutes – can it get any better? Think not!

I have used the Knorr three peppercorn flavour pot that was in my goody bag which all loggers received at the end of a day packed with masterclasses spent at the Unilever headquarter in the U.K at Leatherhead.

If you love cooking with the flavour of fresh herbs and spices, but prefer the convenience of dried , Knorr flavour pots allow you to create delicious meals infused with aromatic and fresh flavours in no time at all AND with the very same convenience that dried products offer.

Knorr three peppercorn Baked fish recipe

Serves : 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole herrings fresh – with the head and tail removed.
  • Smoked sea salt
  • 1 and half Knorr three peppercorn flavour pots
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped
  • 2 heaped tbsp butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3- 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

Method:

  • Pre-Heat the oven to 180 °C. Keep the butter out so that it is not straight from the fridge
  • Wash the herring fish under running tap water. I asked the fishmonger to slit it through the middle and clean it from inside for me after removing the head and the tail.
  • Place the fish on a baking parchment in a baking tray and sprinkle liberally with Maldon smoked sea salt.

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  • Wrap the parchment to make a neat parcel.

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  • Bake the fish in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 °C.
  • Meanwhile heat a heavy based pan on a medium heat.
  • When the pan is at add 2 heaped tbsp of butter.
  • Add in the bay leaf and then finely chopped onion and finely chopped garlic with skins. Then add in the Knorr three peppercorn flavour pots and cook until the onion has gone soft.

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  • Once the fish has been baked , remove from the oven and allow for the steam to escape.

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  • When you can hold the fish in your hand without scalding remove the skin which should come of pretty easily and remove the bone , it comes straight off which is great, one clean sweep. Don’t worry if the fish falls apart , it will still taste amazing!
  • Plate each fish onto 2 plates.

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  • Place the onion onto the fish and serve with baby kale and chopped cherry tomatoes. If you wish sprinkle some sea salt on the salad leaves.

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WIN one of TWO goody bags PACKED to the brim with Knorr flavour pots and stock cubes

Each GOODY BAG from KNORR contains :

  • 2 x Mexican Flavour Pot
  • 2x Garden Herbs Flavour Pot
  • 2 x Paprika Flavour Pot
  • 2x Ginger and Lemongrass Flavour Pot
  • 2x Curry Flavour Pot
  • 2x Garlic Flavour Pot
  • 2x Mixed Chillies Flavour Pot
  • 2x Fish Stock Cube
  • 2x Pork Stock Cube
  • 2x Ham Stock Cube
  • 2 x Chicken Stock Pot
  • 2 x Beef Stock Pot
  • 2 x Veg Stock Pot

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How to enter the giveaway:

You too could WIN ONE of TWO of these GOODY BAGS from KNORR PACKED with exciting products from the flavour pots and stock sauces range, all you have to do is :

  1. Follow me on twitter – @manjirichitnis
  2. Like my Facebook page and leave your facebook name as part of you comment.
  3. Follow me on Instagram
  4. Tweet out the following –  with 1 of 2 GOODY BAGS with Flavour Pots & Stock Cubes,Baked fish recipe
  5. Leave a comment below telling me which is your favourite herb, your facebook name used to like my FB page, your instagram handle. I will find you on twitter via the hashtag so it’s not required for you to mention your twitter handle in the comments. Do not share your email id in the comments please.

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Please have a read through the Terms and Conditions below:

  • Winners will be picked using Random Number.
  • Deadline for entering this contest is 15th January’ 2015 midnight GMT.
  • Entry is open only to residents of the U.K except Scotland and Ireland.
  • All entrants must be 18 years old and above.
  • Two lucky winners will be chosen using random number generator.
  • The giveaway prize is as mentioned in the post. Neither Knorr or I am liable for any damage of hamper and / or contents in transit.
  • Please allow a minimum of 15 days for delivery of the prize, which may reach earlier or later. The goody bags will be sent directly  by Knorr.
  • The prize is as stated: no cash alternatives are available.
  • I retain the right to DISQUALIFY any entrant who do not complete all the 3 steps mentioned above.
  • The winner will be notified on 16th January’ 2015  on Twitter by me and here on my blog post. I shall tag the 2 winners on Twitter via their twitter id’s . If you are declared as the winner you agree to allow me and Knorr to contact you via email id  to arrange for the goody bag to be sent out to you.
  • If the TWO winners fail to respond by 18th January’ 2015   then other winners will be chosen.

*With thanks to Unilever and the Knorr PR team for arranging the fabulous gifts for the two goody bags . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own. References Wiki.

While you are here why not have a look at the other giveaways on my blog and increase your chances of winnings cool freebies!?!

  • Win one beautiful Hotel Chocolat gift bag with fabulous cocoa cuisine products, to participate click here.
  • CLOSED Win a box of Chef Inspirations Saveurs Du Monde Box of 16 chocolates from Godiva, to participate click hereCLOSED.
  • CLOSED Win 5 delicious sauces from the WORLDFOODS Asian Fusion Flavour Sauces, to participate click here – CLOSED.

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Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine from Roberson Wines – A review

Muscadet-Sèvre et Maine is a French white that defies convention. It is named after the characteristic of the grape variety used to make this wine –  melon grape variety which has ‘wine with a musk-like taste’ , unlike other French Wines which all get their names after their growing regions.

I was sent a bottle of this fine French wine by Roberson Wines for review. Intrigued by the words Sur Lie on the label I did a bit of reading up and found that it is the French expression for “on the lees.” lees is the coarse sediment, which consists mainly of dead yeast cells and small grape particles that accumulate during fermentation. Wine makers believe that certain wines benefit from being aged sur lie.

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These wines have a creamy, yeasty flavor and a touch of carbon dioxide which gives a slight prickling sensation on the tongue.

Both hubster and me liked the wine for its light and crisp taste and found it a great companion to our seafood starter for the evening – a light prawn pan fry with white onions.

I would highly recommend this white wine to those looking for a light fresh white with hints of citrus to pair with seafood, vegetable stir fries or when you simply want easy drinking – fuss free yet something that will sit well at a party table or for a quite dinner for two.

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*With thanks to Roberson Wines . No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. As always all opinions expressed here are entirely my own. References Wiki and Kens Wine Guide.