Steak with peppercorn sauce

Steak is a special treat. It is one of those dishes that you order when you go out to a restaurant as a special treat. I don’t cook it at home very often, saving it for special occasions like an anniversary meal or Valentines day. We will also splash out when we have a barbecue as there is something really special about the taste of steak cooked over charcoal. When Donald Russell asked me if I would like to try their pave rump steaks I couldn’t really refuse. Donald Russell are a butcher based in Aberdeen, their steak is from naturally lean, outdoor reared, UK grass-fed beef and has been matured for a minimum of 35 days.

Rump steak with peppercorn sauce

The timing was ideal, I have been wondering about ordering from Donald Russell for a while but was unsure how well meat would travel through the post. I did not need to worry, the steak arrived on the day specified in an insulated box. The box contained dry ice packs to keep the meat cold and it worked really well. The steak arrived in the ideal condition. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide and freezes at -78C so needs to be handled carefully. I remember it being used in the theatre when I was taking part in plays as a child to produce atmospheric clouds of vapour. The dry ice packs were easy to dispose of and not dangerous.

rump steaks

I decided I was going to make a peppercorn sauce to go with the steaks. I love peppercorn sauce, the flavour works to bring out the flavour of the steaks perfectly. It is easy to make as well, slightly similar to making a white sauce but with a couple of extra steps. The steak would be served with mushrooms, tomatoes and a side salad. For the men in the family I also did some chips, it is almost obligatory to have chips with steak.

rump steak with peppercorn sauce

First I had to cook the steaks. I decided to fry them gently following the instructions on the Donald Russell website. They are very precise in their instructions, the steaks should not be overcooked. They need to rest for twenty minutes to come up to room temperature before cooking and after cooking left for ten minutes to rest. This allows the juice to move through the meat bringing out the full flavour.

rump steak with peppercorn sauce

It was definitely worth the effort, the steaks were delicious. Full of flavour, every mouthful was a delight. The steaks would make a perfect addition to a Summer barbecue, wowing guests with their taste.
I was also pleased with my peppercorn sauce. It had just the right amount of pepper and cream to complement the flavour of the steak. It had been worth tracking down green peppercorns in brine to make the sauce, which was not easy.

Perppercorn sauce

The sauce is made by simmering the peppercorns in butter then adding wine and beef stock. This is allowed to reduce and then cream is added. A little flour is used to thicken the sauce and in no time you have the perfect accompaniment to the steak.

rump steak with peppercorn sauce

Peppercorn sauce recipe

Peppercorn sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 15g butter
  2. 230ml beef stock
  3. 3 tbsp green peppercorns
  4. 2 tsp cracked black peppercorns
  5. 30ml red wine
  6. 30ml cream
  7. sea salt, to taste
  8. 3 tsp cornflower
  9. 2 tsp cold water
Instructions
  1. Melt the butter in pan over a medium heat
  2. Add the green and black peppercorns and stir.
  3. Add the wine and the stock, bring to a simmer.
  4. Simmer for five minutes until reduced.
  5. Add the cream and cook for five minutes until thickened
  6. Mix the cornflour with the water and add to the sauce.
  7. Stir for another couple of minutes until the sauce thickens
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/

I would definitely use Donald Russell again, the steak was lovely and tasty and the delivery was straight forward. The meal was a definite treat which the whole family enjoyed.

rump steak in peppercorn sauce

I was sent the steak in return for an honest review.

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Create a pizza legend with Dominos

Friday night, a great excuse for a takeaway. How do you fancy creating your own pizza legend by choosing your own toppings and getting the chance to win it free for a year? Dominos are giving you the chance to do just that with their new create your pizza legend hub. Intrigued by the idea of creating a pizza with added fairy dust I gave it a go.

Dominos pizza legendsThe creator hub is really simple to use, click on the create your legend option and you can create your own pizza. First choose from six types of crust like thin and crispy, stuffed or Italian style. At this stage you also choose the size of your pizza, large or medium. Next choose the type of sauce you want on your pizza, tomato, bbq, sundried tomato and garlic or tikka. Then fun then starts after you add your cheese, you get to choose from a large range of toppings. Up to nine toppings can be added to create your perfect pizza. You can then add the extra ingredients like magic or soul to make a unique pizza legend. Once you have chosen the moment you are going to eat your pizza you can add it to the pizza legends gallery for the chance to win. Of course you can order your pizza as well and you get a discount code if you do this.

Pizza legend

As my family were hungry and they are lovers of meat I decided to create a pizza called Feed the Dragons. I chose a BBQ stuffed crust and added

  • Red onions
  • Cumberland Sausage
  • Smoked Bacon Rashers
  • Tomato
  • Chicken breast strips
  • Dominos herbs
  • Extra mozzarella cheese
  • Pork meatballs

The pizza also had a little magic and stardust as an added extra treat. I then waited for delivery to see how it would turn out. While waiting I created some salsa and coleslaw to serve with the pizza. I made these as part of my Mexican feast for Cinco de Mayo and I knew they would make the perfect sides.  My son was impatient and kept asking how long it would take, but within half an hour the pizza arrived.

Pizza legendWhat do you think of my creation? Do you think it is the perfect pizza to feed dragons? I have to say it was very tasty and my son was quite happy to get stuck in. If you want to try my pizza you can order it online using the Pizza Legend ID: FEEDTHEDRAGONS

Pizza legendIt is lovely to have pizza as a special treat and I liked the way I could customise the pizza myself. It makes ordering a takeaway a little bit more special. Will you be having a takeaway tonight? What would you add to make the perfect pizza?

I was given some credit to create my pizza and try out the service but the opinions are my own.

Degustabox – April 2015

Degustabox is a food subscription box. For £12.99 a month you receive a box  packed full of food and drink items worth more than the subscription. There are usually between 9 and 14 items in the box, many are new to the market. It is a great way to find out about new products. There is something exciting about receiving a Degustabox and opening it to find out what is inside. I last tried Degustabox in November and was happy to try this months box. The Degustabox  April 2015 has an international food theme with products from different countries.

Nandos Peri Peri Grooves

Opening the box I found three packs of Nandos peri peri grooves nestled at the top.These are ridge cut crisps based on the Nandos peri peri chicken range.  There were three flavours, peri peri sizzling hot, peri salted and spicy chicken.  The peri salted is a new addition to the range which also includes smoky barbecue. They were really tasty and went perfectly with the dips I made for my Mexican feast for Cinco de Mayo.

Nandos crispsKinder

Everyone loves chocolate and I found two bags of Kinder chocolates in the box. Kinder chocolate with cereals are mini bars of chocolate with a milky filling and added crunch from five different cereals. Kinder Choco-bons are round balls filled with a creamy milk centre and a hint of hazelnut. Once you start eating these it is nearly impossible to stop.

Kinder chocolateBarry’s Tea

If you know me you will know that I am a bit of a tea addict. A box of Barry’s tea was a welcome find in the box. Barry’s tea is made in Ireland and makes a very tasty cuppa.

Barry's teaCirio

Tins of tomatoes and tomato purée are one of the things I always have in my kitchen cupboard. They are useful for so many dishes from spaghetti bolognese, to stews and curries. I love these little pots of tomato purée, they are just the right size. I am intrigued by the tomato fillets and will be trying these soon.

CirioVeetee

I really like this microwaveable rice from Veetee. It is ready in two minutes and one box is enough for two people when served with a main course. There were two flavours, spicy mexican style and peri peri rice.

 

Veetee rice

Schwartz

There were two packets of the new Schwartz authentic curry range, Balti and Korma. I have never perfected the art of making a curry from scratch so these will be very useful.

Schwartz

Debeukelaer Cookies Bakery

When I first saw the box for Debeukelear Cookies Bakery I thought that it was a packet of cookie mix. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box and found it contained four individually wrapped cookies. The biscuits are inspired by traditional family bakeries in Greenwich Village, New York and they are gorgeous. These are creamy cookie but they also come in brownie cookie and crispy cookie.

Degustabox-April-2015-15I shall tantalise you by showing you a close up photo, they are lovely large biscuits and I love the newspaper style wrapping they come in.

Degustabox-April-2015-16As well as food products there were a range of different drink products in the Degustabox.

IdrinQ

This is a new generation drink that is meant to help you think smarter and bring things into focus. It contains amino acids and B vitamins that may have become depleted in the body to enable this to happen. It has an interesting taste, almost cherry in flavour.

IdrinQ

Scheckters

Scheckters organic energy drink is a 100% natural energy drink with no artificial ingredients. It provides an energy boost without an energy crash using a blend of natural ingredients. It has a lovely taste as well, I could taste lemon and pomegranate in the drink.

Scheckters

When you order your degustabox you can specify if you would like a version that contains alcohol or a version that does not.  The final product in the box will depend on your choice.

Kingfisher

Kingfisher beer is India’s best selling beer and a bottle of this is included in the degustabox with alcohol. It is a refreshing beer that will go perfectly with a curry.

KingfisherChosan

In the non alcohol box there is bottle of wonjo hibiscus juice. This is inspired by recipes from South Africa and is a lovely refreshing drink for a warm. day.wonjo

I was really pleased with the selection of products in the box and have found some new things that I will be looking out for when I go shopping.

Discount Code

If you are interested in trying a Degustabox yourself I have a discount coupon code which will give you a £3.00 discount off your first box when registering. The code is: W21TR

 You can find more information and order your Degustabox on their website:

 I was sent a Degustabox in return for an honest review.

 

Oat and Strawberry Biscuits with Fruit Heroes

Recently we have been trying out a new lunchbox snack, Fruit Heroes. They are fruit bars, made from 100% fruit that have been grown naturally and contains no artificial ingredients. They count towards your five a day and come in a variety of great flavours, Strawberry, Banana, Blackcurrant and Apple and raspberry. They are the perfect size for slipping into a lunch box and I know they are not going to get squashed, like real fruit sometimes does. My son really likes them. I thought that the Fruit Heroes might also work in a recipe, giving a fruit twist to biscuits for example. This weekend I experimented and used the Strawberry Fruit Heroes to make some tasty oat and strawberry biscuits.

Oat and Strawberry biscuitsOat biscuits are always simple to make and really tasty. I always have the ingredients in my cupboard as we usually have porridge and syrup for breakfast. With the addition of some butter, sugar and baking powder lovely tasty biscuits can be made. I used two strawberry Fruit Heroes bars and cut them into little pieces to add the strawberry. The concentrated fruit bars worked really well, adding a strawberry taste to the biscuit. I think if I had used real strawberries it would have been a bit messy and not worked as well.

Oat biscuitsMaking the oat biscuits is relaxing, it involved melting the butter in a pan with the sugar and syrup. I love watching butter melt, the golden block sliding around the pan getting smaller and smaller and turning into a pool of liquid. The oats, flour and fruit heroes are then added and the mixture stirred until it comes together forming a dough. This can be rolled into balls and placed on a baking tray to cook and make the biscuits. Remember to let the mixture cool before rolling it into balls with your hands as it is hot. If you are in a rush you can use a spoon to drop the mixture onto the baking tray.

Oat biscuitsAfter ten minutes in the oven the  biscuits are a lovely golden colour. The hard part is waiting for them to be cool enough to eat, the smell of baking in the air makes you want to grab them immediately. Luckily I had more of the Fruit Hero bars on hand to give to my son before the biscuits disappeared. You can find out more about Fruit Heroes on their website: http://fruitheroes.co.uk/

Fruit HeroesOat and Strawberry Biscuits Recipe

Oat and Strawberry Biscuits
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Ingredients
  1. 6oz (170g) margarine
  2. 6oz (170g) granulated sugar
  3. 3 level tablespoons syrup
  4. 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  5. 6oz (170g) plain flour
  6. 8oz (225g) rolled oats
  7. 2 strawberry Fruit Hero bars
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350F, 180C, Gas Mark 4.
  2. Put the margarine, sugar and syrup in a pan and warm gently until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat
  4. Add the oats, flour and chopped up fruit hero bars into the pan and stir until well mixed.
  5. Allow to cool then roll the mixture into small balls between floured palms and place on a greased baking tray.
  6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
Dragons and Fairy Dust http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk/

I was sent the fruit hero bars to try for the purposes of this review. My opinions are honest and my own.

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Modern Family Baking

Making your food go further with Love Food, Hate Waste

Every year in the UK we throw away 4.2 million tonnes of good food. When you think of the effort it takes to grow and farm food this is a terrible waste.Every day UK homes throw away roughly:

  • 5.8 million tonnes of potatoes
  • 1.4 million whole bananas
  • 1.5 million whole tomatoes
  • 24 million whole slices of bread
  • 1.5 million sausages
  • 1.9 million slices of ham

By throwing away food we are throwing away our money. The average family could save up to £700 a year by throwing away less food. The Love Food, Hate Waste campaign aims to raise awareness of the amount of food families are wasting and teach us how to make food go further. Leftovers can be used to make great meals instead of being thrown away. I was challenged by Love Food, Hate Waste to buy £30 worth of food and use it to create meals without wasting anything. Read on to find out how I got on.

Meal Planning

How many of us are guilty of going to the supermarket without a meal plan and just throwing food into our trolley randomly? By doing this you end up with lots of food but nothing that could actually be used in a meal. By taking the time to write a meal plan before you go and listing the ingredients you need you can save money. I also check what I have in my cupboards before I go so I don’t end up with duplicate ingredients. There was a time when I found I bought rice every time I went shopping and had about 20 packs in the cupboard. Love Food, Hate Waste have a handy two week menu planner to help you get started.The idea is simple, write down what you are going to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next week or two weeks. Look though the recipe and write down the ingredients you need. Check what you already have in and then write a shopping list. This ensures you food that you can use for meals.

What I bought

Before I went shopping I planned what I was going to buy with my £30 and wrote a list. I then checked what was in the cupboard and crossed off anything I didn’t need.

This is what I bought:ShoppingList

From these ingredients I made the following meals.

Marmalade Glazed Ham with broccoli, red cabbage, roast potatoes, roast parsnips and gravy. This was perfect for Sunday lunch. I cooked the whole cabbage and divided the leftovers into freezer bags and froze them. I now have three servings of red cabbage that I can reheat in the microwave when I need vegetables to go with another meal.

Marmalade glazed hamI boiled the ham before roasting it and used half of it with a load of vegetables to make a big pot of ham and vegetable soup. This was served with bread for dinner the next day.SoupThere was a big pot full so we had enough for lunch the next day. The leftover soup can also be frozen and kept for another time.

I had also bought chicken, curry sauce and rice. I used this to make a meal, adding some extra onions. I had extra chicken breasts so again froze these ready to use another day. Not only had I got plenty of meals, I also had leftovers which could be used another day.

Portion Sizes

One of the things I consistently struggle with when making meals is getting the portion sizes correct. It is really easy to cook far too much rice, pasta and potatoes and end up having to throw them away. Left over potatoes can be used in bubble and squeak or pasta in pasta salads but it is easier to get the portions right to start with. Use your kitchen equipment to help you get portions right. One adult portion of rice is about quarter of a mug full. 100g measured on your kitchen scales is an adult portion of pasta. If you need more help the Love Food, Hate Waste website has a portion calculator to help you.

Food Storage

 When you meal plan you often find that you have a lot of food in the house after you have been shopping. You need to be aware of how long that food will last, otherwise you may find that some of it has gone off and you need to throw it out. When you unpack your shopping check the use by dates. Use the food with the shortest use by dates first. If you are not going to be able to use some if it check if you can freeze it. Food can be frozen up to the use by date and used after, but if the use by date has passed it should not be eaten. Best before is different, food can be eaten after this date but may not be at the best.

To keep vegetables fresh store them in the fridge in the pack they came in. Potatoes and onions are the only vegetables that should not be kept in the fridge. Any vegetables that look as if they might not last can be made into soups and frozen.

Conclusion

With a bit of planning and preparation we can reduce the amount of food we waste and save money. Meal planning is a great way to do this and I find that by having a list I tend to buy less junk food when I am shopping. I can also prepare meals in advance and freeze them for later. This saves me time when I have had a busy week at work. Do you meal plan? Do you find it works for you?