|Food Demo at Stratford Food Festival - Moushumi Moran from The Cardamom Pod|
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Sunday, 20 July 2014
Invented by an Italian restaurant owner in the mid-20th century, he created a dish for a group of late night diners using only the few ingredients he had left in his kitchen. Its popularity led to it becoming a regular feature on his menu and he called it Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. Named as such, making reference to the inadequate ingredients he'd used for the dish (in his eyes), twisting the words puttanta the Italian noun for 'worthless' and puttana meaning 'harlot' - the dish was a favourite amongst the restaurant's patrons and was soon glorified en masse.
Beyond Italy, its popularity has spread worldwide and has been featured by many celebrity chefs in cookbooks and TV shows alike. It's a dish that is easy to make and yet provides a variation to good old pasta with a basic tomato sauce.
Bearing this in mind, when I was approached by Central England Co-operative to contribute to their 'Easy Eating' campaign, this dish instantly sprang to mind. The 'Easy Eating' campaign promotes non-complicated meals and recipes using ingredients from Co-operative stores that are easy to make whether you are looking for a post-work supper or a weekend lunch.
My version omits anchovies (used in many versions) thus making it vegetarian and is a nod to many of the Neapolitan forms in existence. The saltiness synonymous with the recipe is retained by the use of additional olives. Its format as a pasta bake makes it easier to serve as a table dish in its baking tray - ideal for families or for an informal lunch with friends. Equally, by making extra portions (multiplying the ingredient quantities as appropriate), it is great to heat up the next day for a quick lunch or to have as an instant meal after work when the last thing you want to do is cook from scratch after a long day!
Serves 3-4 people
|Ingredients purchased from The Co-operative|
250g Penne Pasta
400g Tin of The Co-operative Chopped Tomatoes with Garlic & Oregano in Tomato Sauce
330g Jar of The Co-operative Green Olives Stuffed with Sun Dried Tomatoes (Truly Irresistible range)
275g The Co-operative Closed Cup Mushrooms (Button mushroom size if possible)
50g Peppadrew Piquante Peppers (from a jar)
2 Cloves of Garlic (chopped/sliced)
200g The Co-operative Mild Cheddar Grated Cheese
Chilli Flakes (Optional)
Oil for frying
Serve with: Fresh Parsley and a The Co-operative Garlic Bread baguette
* Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (or equivalent).
* Cook pasta as per packet instructions in salted water.
* Place the olives (without the oil from the jar) into a food processor and blitz until you have a paste. Set aside.
* In a saucepan, fry the garlic and mushrooms in oil (keep them whole if possible, but slice if too big).
* Add the chilli flakes if using.
* Add the olive paste, Piquante Peppers and the chopped tomatoes. Mix well and heat gently.
|Tomato/Olive Sauce Cooking Through|
* When ready, drain the pasta and add to the tomato/olive/pepper sauce and mix well.
* Transfer to an ovenproof dish and cover with grated cheese.
|Pasta Bake Alla Puttanesca - From the Oven|
* If serving with garlic bread, place the baguette in the oven as per packet instructions.
* Place the pasta bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cheese has melted.
* Serve the pasta bake alla puttanesca with a garnish of fresh herbs.
|Pasta Bake Alla Puttanesca served with Garlic Bread|
Sponsored Post: I was re-imbursed by Central England Co-operative to cover my expenses to create the meal. This post was written honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review of the products purchased. For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.
Monday, 14 July 2014
Sunday, 29 June 2014
|Appetisers at The Jockey Club|
|Beef with Beetroot & Wild Berries|
|Jockey Club Cocktail|
|Inside The Jockey Club|
Monday, 23 June 2014
|Lizi's Granola - On the Go Pouches|
Sunday, 15 June 2014
The team at Provamel might just have found a fair compromise for me. Although an established brand already within the plant-based foods sector, they have recently adopted a new look with additions to their product range.
So why use Provamel over conventional cow's milk? The products are dairy-free so it makes a perfect option for those that may be vegan or lactose intolerant as it promotes itself as a healthy alternative as it is a 100% organic and contains plant-based ingredients.
I was sent two carton samples to try - Oat Milk and Rice Almond. As mentioned above, not being of the milk persuasion, I asked my family to be part of my testing panel. So we started with the Oat flavour, which now contains more oats and fibre than previously. All came back saying that it was delicious, certainly a noticeable difference to cow's milk, but in a good way. Even trying it myself, I have to say I enjoyed it far more than cow's milk, although I could only sample a small glass due to my preference levels.
The Rice Almond milk, made with organic Italian rice, almonds and blended with spring water and a splash of agave syrup, when tested was a lot sweeter than the Oat Milk with a slight hint of nut (from the almond), although others enjoyed drinking it cold, I found it was a little too sweet when used with tea or coffee.
Smoothie drinks I do enjoy. The combination of fruit with milk makes it far more palatable for me. So, I made a batch of banana smoothies with both sets of milk. Enjoying a good few glasses myself, I also made samples using both milk flavours for my work colleagues which in turn went down very well and they all couldn't believe it wasn't cow's milk and were all keen to know more about the brand.
Available in health food stores (including Holland & Barrett), Provamel has a range of products, not just milk but also yoghurts, desserts and custards. For more details on the range and for recipes, visit www.provamel.co.uk. I for one, will definitely be making more smoothies going forward, but I will keep them to myself - I won't be as keen to share this time!
Sponsored Post: This post was written following kind receipt of Provamel products. This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review. For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website.
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
The splendour of the hotel’s Caramel Room plays host to the event labelled as a fashionista’s afternoon tea. Named Prêt-à-Portea, it is a twist on the French fashion phrase – Pret a Porter, meaning ‘ready to wear’ . The focal point is the confectionery - hand-made and emulating this season’s fashion themes and colours (think swimwear biscuits and marzipan hats), which differs from the traditional cream tea offering of scones and light cakes.
Our experience of the hotel’s customer service was second to none. Both of us being vegetarian, I’d communicated our preferences as part of our reservation and we were advised that they had all been recorded. However, on the day, it seemed to the contrary. Upon providing proof of the correspondence, the Berkeley team were profusely apologetic and made sure we had a wonderful vegetarian selection brought out to us incorporating all our preferences. In addition, as a token of their apology, we were given a glass of champagne with their compliments (welcomed with open arms) which indeed only added to the glamour of the event.
The china also forms part of the fashionista experience and is commissioned for The Berkeley and the Prêt-à-Portea event by Wedgwood and is exquisitely painted in hues of pink, pastels and gold on a white base and is available to purchase if you fancy an indulgent souvenir.
|Wedgwood Berkeley China|
Served in the said china, are a range of teas and coffees all depicted on the menu which include the bespoke Berkeley Blend to traditional Earl Grey and Darjeeling teas through to herbal teas. The service is such that the waiting team are just a moment away and when they see you are ready to pour yourself more tea, they are on hand to perform the ritual for you.
The delicately cut sandwiches featured quite a number of contemporary fillings such as red pepper & rocket, aubergine dip with gherkin and goats’ cheese & beetroot. All delicious and not being a fan of butter or spread on my sandwiches, they kindly prepared a portion to fit that request.
In conjunction with the sandwiches we were served savoury canapés consisting of cherry tomatoes with avocado, goats’ cheese & beetroot mousse pastry, tomato water and artichoke & papaya. The latter was our personal favourite and we asked for additional portions as we were insatiable for them!
Next came what Prêt-à-Portea is famous for and that is its confectionery/desserts. All of which I was assured were veggie friendly. Examples of which included:
Christian Louboutin chocolate biscuit Pigalle Spike heel with fresh turquoise hue icing and signature red sole.
Karla Collecto lemon biscuit swimsuit with cherry red icing and pretty rosette-appliqued neckline
Victoria Beckham graphic geometric cherry and white chocolate mousse skirt
Simone Rocha pineapple and coconut Savarin shirt dress with a “wow” lime punk spun sugar.
|Selection of Desserts|
Even with my sweet tooth I couldn’t finish all the biscuits, but The Berkeley offer you a little take-away box, shaped like a handbag (keeping the theme), which they will place some biscuits inside for you, which is a delightful way to carry on The Berkeley experience once you leave.
|Handbag Take-Out Boxes|
Our visit served as an early treat for our forthcoming birthdays (which we had advised them of), and as a gesture from the hotel, we were given a ‘Happy Birthday’ platter complete with candle and truffles plus a fruity cocktail which really added to our experience.
|Our Happy Birthday Platter|
The whole event was a pleasure from start to finish garnished with extra touches for a memorable day. From a vegetarian’s point of view, the selection of sweet and savoury items were plentiful, with contemporary ideas steering away from predictability. Strict vegetarians are catered for and welcomed rather than been made to feel like an inconvenience which is a refreshing change.
I would love to return again, especially as the sweet/dessert selection changes each season, so each visit would a different experience to the last. One thing I would wholeheartedly recommend (in addition to going in the first place), is book in advance, especially if you need to accommodate a large group, as places are limited and are booked up months ahead – as I would hate for you to be disappointed and not be able to experience the charming afternoon that we did.