Archive for the ‘Food and drink’ Category
Thursday, February 13th, 2014
If you’re planning a special meal for the one you love on Valentine’s Day, these super-easy puddings will draw gasps of admiration, yet they’re (almost) foolproof to make. Even better, you can make them the day before so that you can concentrate on creating the right romantic atmosphere rather than slaving over a hot egg whisk. Here’s what to do:
Quick and easy rich chocolate mousse
For two people, you’ll need:
- 120g good quality dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids. It’s worth buying the best you can find.
- 2 eggs
- tablespoon of brandy, Cointreau or orange flavouring (optional)
If possible, take the eggs out of the fridge half an hour before you want to use them, to let them come up to room temperature. This gives greater volume when you beat them.
Carefully separate the eggs, putting the whites and yolks into separate bowls. Set aside.
Break the chocolate into small pieces, and put it in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds on a low power setting, then remove and stir. Continue to microwave the bowl in 30-second burst until the chocolate is fully melted. Add the brandy or flavouring if using, and mix until fully combined. Let the mixture cool a bit, then beat in the egg yolks.
Using an egg whisk or food mixer, beat the egg whites until really stiff (they should stand up in peaks). Using a metal spoon, carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, trying to keep as much volume as possible. Spoon the mixture into two glasses or dishes, and leave in the fridge to set for at least half an hour. Decorate with cream or chocolate shavings.
For serving in style, we love these Katie Alice ramekins, £10 for a set of two from the English Table.
Katie Alice ramekins
Accessorise your perfect pudding with this cute heart-topped spoons, which are the ideal size to complement the dish. £17.99 for a set of four, available from My Gift Tree.
Heart-shaped shortbread biscuits
For a few extra brownie points, serve these biscuits with the mousse or with coffee afterwards. In addition to a heart-shaped biscuit cutter, to make four to eight biscuits depending on size you’ll need:
- 125g butter (not margerine)
- 55g caster sugar
- 180g plain flour
If possible, leave the butter at room temperature for half an hour to soften. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees celsius.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, then add in the flour, working it in until completely combined (you may have to use your fingers for this bit). Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and roll it out to about 0.5cm thick.
Using the heart-shaped cutter, cut into biscuits and carefully transfer to a greased baking tray. Bake for around 15 minutes until the biscuits are tinged a very pale golden colour, no darker.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then sprinkle with icing sugar before serving. Alternatively, decorate with drizzles of white and dark chocolate. These can be made three or four days in advance and stored in an airtight container until needed – don’t forget to hide them, though!
For perfect results, we love these heart-shaped cutters, £4.99 for the set from the Oak Room. Made from stainless steel with a moulded red top to protect your fingers, they’ll last for years to come.
For maximum impact, arrange your biscuits on this beautiful cake stand, designed by Ukrainian designer Nina Jarema. Available from Cloth Ears, priced at £24.99.
Nina Jarema cake stand
Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
A combination of the wintery weather and the post-Christmas blues mean we’re been feeling a bit chilly this month, so it’s off to the kitchen to whip up a batch of our favourite warming recipes.
For a winter’s breakfast, it’s got to be porridge, the ultimate comfort food. There are heaps of variations, so you’re bound to find something to suit your taste, and it’s easy to make. It’ll take about five minutes, so start it off as soon as you come down in the morning, then by the time you’ve made a cup of tea it’ll be ready to go.
You’ll need 50g of porridge oats and 350ml of water per person. Put them both in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and stir until the water comes to the boil. Turn the heat down, and simmer for about four minutes until the porridge thickens. Serve to taste with brown sugar, golden syrup, Greek yoghurt, fresh berries, dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips or whatever you like. For a creamier taste, replace half the water with milk.
To serve your porridge in style, treat yourself to one of these gorgeous stoneware bowls (above), £12.50 from Drift Living.
Or how about these Bohemian breakfast bowls, £35 for a set of four from Berry Red?
For lunch, may we suggest this incredibly easy vegetable soup? It’s great for using up odds and ends of vegetables, and you can flavour it however you want. To serve four, you’ll need two large onions, six to eight carrots, a couple of parsnips, two large potatoes and a litre of vegetable stock.
Slice the all vegetables into chunks, and gently fry them with butter in a large saucepan until they take on some colour. Add the stock, put the lid on the pan and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes. When the vegetables are tender, transfer the soup to a food processor and puree until smooth. If it’s a bit too thick, add a little more stock and adjust the seasoning. To jazz it up a bit, serve with a drizzle of cream, a few chopped chives, some croutons and some crusty bread. You can add pretty much any vegetables you like, but keep away from bitter tasting veg such as winter cabbage and sprouts. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, shallots, leeks and broccoli all work well.
Add a little dash to a plain soup by serving it in these cute polka dot soup bowls, complete with lids and their own spoon. £6.99 each, from My Gift Tree.
Create the perfect blend with this cheerful red Guzzini G-Plus blender. Was £70, now £63 from Red Candy.
For the perfect warming meal, try our easy chicken curry. For four people, you’ll need:
- two large, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
- 3 tablespoons readymade masala paste
- 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Crush the ginger and garlic together in a pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste. Fry the onion and chilli in the oil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down add the masala paste and the ginger paste and cook everything together for a couple of minutes.
Add the chicken, chilli powder and turmeric and cook until the chicken is coloured and sealed. Then add a little boiling water and cook over a low heat until the chicken is tender, adding more water periodically if it looks a little dry. Serve with plain rice.
Guaranteed to cheer up a grey day, these handmade and hand painted Lulu plates (above) cost £21.50 each from Boutique Provençale.
Create your own curry pastes and spice blends with this personalised marble pestle and mortar. From £29.99, Getting Personal.
Friday, December 13th, 2013
There’s something special about receiving a hamper at Christmas. Unwrapping the parcel, opening the box and peeling back the straw to see what’s hidden inside. Whether it’s been specially made and put together just for you, or been bought ready made, it’s a great gift choice for those hard-to-buy for recipients.
What’s more, many hampers are packed in gorgeous baskets or boxes that can be reused once the goodies are gone, so a hamper isn’t necessarily just a short-lived present.
There are some stunning hampers available, from the ultimate dream hampers and high end luxury gifts, to themed hampers, chocolate hampers and budget-conscious options. Here’s a selection of hamper ideas to whet your appetite, including some on special offer.
The ultimate hampers we dream of, but are unlikely to ever afford….
The Decadence hamper – if you happen to have a spare £20,000 floating around (no, we can’t believe that price either!), then you could splash your cash on this limited edition hamper from Harrods. It includes, champagne, wines, confectionery, fresh caviar, charcuterie, crackers and much more, all packed into a luxury trunk.
If £10,000 is more your price range (?!) then the Opulence hamper contains a selection of high-quality items from some of the world’s best producers. Again, it’s from Harrods.
At half the price, the Imperial hamper is available from Fortnum and Mason for £5000. You’ll find a 25-year old single malt nestling alongside Beluga caviar, aged balsamic vinegar and Dom Perignon rose, to name but a few.
Hamper gifts with a luxurious feel to them, both in terms of price and contents…
Opulent Christmas hamper, presented in a willow basket and filled with luxury Christmas foods and drinks. It was £339.99, but is now £249.99 at Debenhams.
This Contemporary silver hamper from John Lewis is presented in a wooden crate and contains plenty of festive goodies. It’s £100.
The Sparkle and Celebrate luxury hamper from Selfridges contains a lovely selection of festive foods to enjoy, including foods from Italy, Britain and Europe. It’s all included in a hamper basket with signature leather buckles and costs £175.
Hampers with a bit of a theme to them….
Italian feast hamper, filled with favourite Italian food and drink, with £25 off, now £125 from Waitrose
The Gentlemen’s hamper, containing strong and sturdy flavours, £150 from Fortnum and Mason.
The Cheese Lovers hamper, which contains there tasted cheeses, savoury biscuits, chutney and red wine. It’s £50 from M&S.
Champagne, wine and chocolate hampers
Lots of hampers include champagne, wine and chocolates, but these are predominantly made up of these key ingredients…
Wine basket hamper, featuring four bottles of wine in a useful bottle holder basket, £50 from John Lewis
The pamper hamper, with gifts such as luxury chocolate truffles and pink champagne, £150 from Harrods
Or, for a non-alcoholic version, try the So Jennie & Truffles hamper (£60)
For true chocolate lovers, opt for the Bliss Chocolate Hamper, from Hotel Chocolat. It’s packed with milk, dark and white chocolates for all tastes. It’s £150.
Suitable for smaller budgets, but still equally gorgeous….
St Kew teacup basket hamper, filled with items such as tea, shortbread and conserve, £16.99 from Lakeland
Holly Jolly gift bag hamper, filled with six award winning products by Hawkshead Relish Company, £10 from Amazon
If you’d rather put together your own hamper to meet your budget and ensure the recipient likes the contents, but are running out of time to organise it, John Lewis do a Build Your Own Hamper option, where you can choose the items you’d like included.
Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
Add some cheer to your coffee table or desk, with these woodland animal coasters.
The Animals of Harley Common coaster set features four cute animal designs – a rabbit, hedgehog, owl and mouse.
The creation of young British designer, Michael Charlton, the coasters are sustainably made from eco friendly bamboo and are produced in the south of England.
Great for adults and children alike, the set of four coasters are priced at £17.99 from E-Side. Our only issue is, the designs are too nice to cover up with mugs or glasses!
Saturday, February 18th, 2012
Create a fruit pyramid
In need of a fruit bowl? Why not make a talking point of your fresh fruit by using this fruit pyramid?
The impressive display is easy to create using a specially designed chrome pyramid (no more fruit falling down when you try and stack them creatively!).
There’s space to store 18 pieces of fruit and, as well as oranges, it works well with fruits such as apples, nectarines or peaches.
The design allows air to circulate around the fruit, so they’ll keep fresh and ripen well, without any pieces getting squashed below others.
It’s a clever idea, a fun design and a great new take on the traditional fruit bowl. The fruit pyramid is available for £16.99 from Mocha.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Delicious tea selection
Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter our competition, to win a set of delicious tea from The London Tea Company.
A winner has been selected at random from all the entries received as comments on the blog and Tweets and the winner is…..
@SooperSandy who said, “I’d love to sit down and have a cup of Elderflower and Apricot tea with J K Rowling.”
Congratulations, Sandy, we will be in touch with you about your prize! We can supply the tea, but can’t quite manage J K Rowling…
Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Gorgeous tea to win!
At Fresh Design Blog, we love a good cup of tea. So when the lovely folks at The London Tea Company offered us the chance of sampling some of their brews, we did what any discerning tea drinker would do – boiled the kettle and got our favourite china cups out.
The London Tea Company produce a wide range of tea, from classic favourites such as English Breakfast, Earl Grey and Vanilla Chai, to herbal teas such as Camomile and Peppermint, to a wonderful gourmet range of inspiring flavours, such as White Tea, Elderflower & Apricot, Peppermint, Spearmint & Strawberry and Red Berries.
We were lucky enough to sample a broad spectrum of teas – the English Breakfast tea did us proud when we ran out of standard tea bags, the Earl Grey is perfect for afternoon tea and many of the gourmet tea bags were surprisingly delicious. In particular, the surprise hit was the Peppermint, Spearmint and Strawberry (I’ll admit caution at the sound of this strange combination) but it works amazingly well and has just the right balance of the two mints and a hint of fruitiness.
As well as serving them hot, many of the teas also work well as iced teas – which is perfect for the summer months. We’d recommended trying iced White Tea, Elderflower and Apricot, or iced Peppermint, Spearmint and Strawberry tea. Just brew the tea for three minutes in a couple of inches of hot water, then top up with ice and cold water.
The teas are made from organic tea leaves (many of them are also Fairtrade) and both the boxes and pouches are biodegradable. Some of the teas are available as traditional envelope tea bags or loose tea, whilst others are in the form of pyramid infusers.
You can explore the full range of teas available over at the London Tea Company’s website and online shop, plus they’re on Facebook too. All of the teas are very affordably priced, with a canister of pyramid tea bags (which is great for storing teas in even when you’ve finished the first lot) priced at only £3.99 each.
London Tea Company Competition – Win Tea!
If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning a fabulous selection box of teas (shown above), with lots of exciting flavours to try, leave a comment below and tell us which London tea you’d most like to try and who you’d love to drink a cup of tea with.
For one extra entry, simply tweet the following on Twitter: “@FreshDesignBlog Put the kettle on! I’d like to win gorgeous London Tea Company tea”.
A winner will be selected at random from all entries received after the closing date (10pm on Tuesday 21st June).
The competition is open to those in the UK and ROI only (see full competition terms and conditions).
Friday, December 17th, 2010
If you love the idea of having special handmade biscuits hanging on your Christmas tree, or of giving them as gifts to other people, but are a bit pushed for time, then this kit is a real time-saver.
The biscuit making part is done for you, as the kit comes with ready made biscuits in the shape of Christmas trees and stars. The fun part of decorating the biscuits is down to you and you get everything you need to create stylish and creative decorated biscuits, including roll out icing, shape cutters, piping gel, a rolling pin, edible lustre dust, silver balls and brushes.
As the idea is to hang the decorated biscuits on a Christmas tree, you’re also supplied with small cellophane bags, red ribbon and elastic metallic thread.
This would be a great kit to do with children in the run-up to Christmas, and if 10 decorated biscuits isn’t enough for you, then the biscuit recipe is included in the set, so you can more yourself.
The Christmas tree hanging biscuit decorating kit is created and sold by Little Rose Bakery and costs £17.99. For more details, take a look at their website.
Decorated Cookies: 20 to Make
Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
Make whoopie pies
One of the latest baking crazes to hit the UK is that of the whoopie pie. Not nearly so elegant as the cupcake, the whoopie pie is a mini American-style sponge cake that is sandwiched together with a buttercream filling and often iced or decorated with frosting on top too.
If you’re keen to unleash your baking abilities and have a go at making your own whoopie pies, then here’s a tin that will make your job much easier. The whoopie pie cake tin is the perfect size to make a whoopie pie – it conducts heat evenly, so your cakes will remain light and moist and won’t dry out – and it has room to make 12 whoopie pies in one bake off.
The whoopie pie cake tin is £7.99 from De Cuisine and they provide a recipe too, to help you get straight into cooking. For more whoopie pie cooking ideas and inspiration, you may like to check out the Whoopie Pies book.