Win a Meal for 2 at The Botanist in Reading, Berkshire!

The Botanist is opening up in Reading, Berkshire soon and I can't wait!! 

I have been invited to check it out next week and then to the official launch on the 1st of June and I am super excited to take a look and a taste! I love checking out new places and The Botanist has definitely piped my interest. 

The design of the logo itself has drawn me in, but after a visit to their website - - who could not be intrigued by this magical looking place! Opening soon in the old Barclay's building, that has been empty for too long now, here in Reading! 

A concept like no other, offering a soon to be world-famous selection of botanical cocktails, craft beers and ales, Champagne and wine. Food inspired by the deli, rotisserie and BBQ. With live music every night, sublime social times are guaranteed!

Watch this space for my thoughts and first impressions!!

Be in with a chance to win a three course meal and a bottle of wine for two by following the details in the Rafflecopter below. Be sure to read the T&C's before entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

  1. You must be 18 years of age to enter and live in the United Kingdom. 
  2. Winner will have to visit The Botanist in Reading at the address above to claim the prize of a three course meal and a bottle of wine for two people, as prize is not valid at other locations.
  3. Winner will be picked at random via the Rafflecopter widget. 
  4. Prize is provided by The Botanist via Stellar Public Relations and is subject to change. No cash exchange/alternative. 

* All thoughts and opinions are my own. See the contact/policy page above for more information. I am not being compensated in any other way to promote this giveaway.

**Images are taken from The Botanist website, follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

Easy Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Fudge

A while back I wrote a post on how easy fudge recipes were popping up everywhere and I wanted to put a couple of them to the test and so I had started with one that used condensed milk and this one using nothing but peanut butter, icing sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips.

It doesn't get any easier then this. Peanut butter could be replaced with any nut butter or something like Nutella, if you happen to like Nutella, I don't.

There is something to be said by proper fudge that uses a thermometer and takes time and patience, but sometimes in a world that is busy and full of other complicated things why not let something be easy and delicious! Like this chocolate chip peanut butter fudge!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Fudge

250g creamy peanut butter
228g of salted butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
450g icing sugar
100-150g chocolate chips, milk or dark

Prepare an 8 inch or 20 cm square baking tin by lining it with tin foil leaving it to hang over the top. In a heavy bottom sauce pan melt the peanut butter and butter together over a low/medium heat mixing until it's melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extra. Sift in the icing sugar and fold into the peanut butter until fully combined, then fold in the chocolate chips before pressing the fudge into your prepared baking tin and using the spatula smooth it out, cover with the excess tin foil and leave to chill in the fridge for approximately 2-4 hours or until firm. Cut into whatever size squares that you'd like.

This easy fudge is great to eat, but it's also makes a great gift to anyone who loves peanut butter!!

*Check out other fudge recipes I have tried Caramel Biscuit Fudge (easy) and Rum & Sultana Fudge (proper fudge)
*recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction blog

Panasonic Slow Juicer: MJ-L500 Review

To start with I was given this juicer by Panasonic after visiting them at their headquarters and spending a day in their Idea's Kitchen! That was like ages ago now. However, I think sometimes with kitchen gadgets you have to give them time to see if they are actually something you use.

I'd be lying if I told you I use this juicer every day, but I do use it more often then other novelty appliances. My favorite thing to use it for is homemade squash.

It's nearly impossible to drink some fruit juices naturally, they are either too sweet or sour or bitter or whatever they have to be diluted. Which is basically squash without all the additives and extra sugar or sweetener.

It's also a great tool to make smoothies and juices! Recipes linked below! I have yet to test it using frozen fruit, but it is one of it's features. Basically when the fruit is frozen it doesn't separate the juice, but makes a sorbet. Might be something I try as the weather gets warmer.

It's called a slow juicer, but it's not literal, it's slow because it squeezes the juice out slowly, extracting more juice and preserving more vitamins. Which is what makes it different then other juicers.

Overall I find this juicer easy to assemble, use, and to clean. Which is something people moan about when I have read other reviews on juicers. If you are in the market for a juicer I would suggest this one!

Juice and Smoothie Recipes: 

Apple & Carrot Juice
Pineapple Fizz 
Super Detox Smoothie
Orange Major
Cold Buster Juice II

*Find out how I got on at the Panasonic Idea's Kitchen here! (November 2016)
*All opinions are my own, I was given the juicer after my visit to the ideas kitchen, but I was not asked to provide a review of the juicer nor was I compensated in any other way. Please see my contact/policy page above for more information. 

Lola's: A Cake Journey Around the World {book review}

Traveling around the world is a dream a lot of people have, but very few get to experience. I have been a few places here and there and I would love to go more places, but in the mean time I will live vicariously through this cook book! 

They take us to Northern and Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to the America's and the Caribbean, and to Australasia and Asia! Sharing with us classic recipes of cakes and bakes we all know and love like England's classic Victoria Sponge, Black Forest Cake from Germany, Nanaimo bars from Canada,  and Lamingtons from Australia! As well as new and adventurous recipes such as Sacher torte that comes from Austria and Paris brest from France! 

The authors have reassured us that all these recipes are capable of being made in the home kitchen, but not every recipe is created equal and they have given each recipe a number of whisks to let us know the level of difficulty or the amount of effort that will be needed for each recipe! I like it when cookbooks do this as it allows you to gage the amount of work and time you will have to commit too to recreate the recipe! 

Here are a few of the recipes I found interesting and calling my name to try out sometime! 
Banoffee cake - England
Stout cake - Ireland
Speculoos cake - Netherlands
Dobos torte - Hungary
Lemon olive oil cake - Greece
Mosaic cake - Turkey
Baklava cake - Saudi Arabia
Brazil nut cake - Bolivia 
Black cake - Trinidad
Jelly cake - New Zealand
Matcha cake - Japan
Sesame cake - India

That's only the tip of the iceberg, there are so many other recipes in this book that sound and look delicious. The photography is beautiful and some recipes even warrant an extra page or two of it's history! 

Food and culture go together hand in hand and if either of these things interest you this is definitely a book worth checking out! 

*I was given a copy of Lola's: A Cake Journey Around the World  to review by the publisher, Ryland Peters & Small. Retails at £18.99 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page for more information.

Oange Major: orange, pineapple, banana, & yogurt smoothie

I made a smoothie! When one visits a juice and/or smoothie place they always have crazy names like Strawberry Dream or BananaRama or something. Generally I am not that creative when it comes to names.

As a kid I named all my stuffed animals what they were. Penguin (my favorite stuffed toy) was called Penguin and his best friend Walrus....yup was a walrus. They are still best friends. I also had a platypus (he was a beanie baby, before beanie babies were a thing) he came with a name, but I changed it to Platypus. Because he was the original color I had a lady offer me $500 for him back in the day and I said no. I was a kid, I didn't have bills to pay.

Anyhow, I was drinking this and googling cocktails and something was called Major something or another and I was like I should call this Major something or another and I did. But at the end of the day it's an orange, pineapple, banana, and yogurt smoothie and here is how I made it, it's super easy.

Orange Major

serves 2 
1-2 oranges
1/4 pineapple
1/2 banana
50g vanilla yogurt

Juice the orange and pineapple and then blend with the banana and yogurt. If you like it cold add a few ice cubes!

It's perfectly orangey with just the right amount of pineapple and banana! This would also make great ice lollies. Pour them in ice lolly moulds and freeze! Yum!

Saffron Soul by Mira Manek {book review}

Earlier this week Mira Manek released her debut book Saffron Soul, but she is no stranger to having her recipes published; they have been featured in numerous publications as well as her own website.

Her love of traditional Indian food and vegetarian dishes have lead her to share this love with all of us! Mira's cookbook, for me, is an entirely new and refreshing way to look at Indian food! I am no vegetarian and my experience with Indian food is left to westernised restaurants and I can't wait to get stuck into the recipes in this book!

The chapters are broken down into ingredients and key pastes and garnishes followed by chapters titled Soulful Mornings (breakfast), Anytime Favourites (snacks and teatime treats), Light Meals (lunch) , Traditional Thalis (Thali is a meal of various dishes that aims to offer all of the 6 different flavours of sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent, and spicy all on one platter) - probably the chapter I found the most interesting because I had never heard of Thalis before and I love how she uses her mother's and both of her grandmother's traditional Thali, then there is a chapter on desserts (always a great chapter), and last but not least spiced drinks.

Normally it is this part of the review that I would list all the recipes I would like to try, but with this title I just don't know where I would start? Here are a few pictures to get a peek into the book!

*I was given a copy of Saffron Soul by Mira Manek to review by the publisher, jacqui small. Retails at £20 and available now from your local book retailers or online! All opinions are my own, I was not given any other compensation nor was I asked to give a positive review, please see my contact/policy page for more information.

Blackberry Crumble Custard Tarts

If you have read my previous post you will already know this, but if you have come here from another source then you should know that these tarts were inspired by a fictional King Edward VI from a booked titled Lady Jane: the not entirely true story. If you'd like to know a bit more about the story and my thoughts on the book click on the title above.

This post is to talk about these Blackberry Crumble Custard Tarts...... which were super amazing! In the book the King loves his blackberries especially as pie. The thing is I am not a huge fan of fruit pie because cooked mushy fruit just doesn't appeal to me.

Brainstorming, isn't something you just learn at school, an idea other then pie was fairly simple. It went like this: use fresh blackberries, fresh berries taste great in tarts, tarts are similar to pie, custard goes well in tarts and done.

So, no these aren't exactly blackberry pie, but as the real fictional king loved blackberries in or out of pie I am positive he would have approved of these.

Blackberry Crumble Custard Tarts

Shortcrust Pastry with orange zest

250g plain flour
100g icing sugar
pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, cold grated or cubed
2 egg yolks
1 egg
zest of 1 orange

Sift the flour and icing sugar together in a large mixing bowl, add the pinch of salt and the cold grated butter. Rub gently between your finger tips until it resembles bread crumbs - try to handle it as little as possible. *I sometimes run my hands under cold water and pat dry before this last step as my hands are generally warm.
Gently whisk the egg yolks and yolk together, make a well in the bread crumbs and add the eggs as well as the orange zest. Using a spatula bring the dough together. It will be a bit crumbly, pour onto a sheet of clingfilm and gently pat down into a square and wrap in the clingfilm. Keep it in the fridge for a minimum of an hour, but is best if kept overnight.

Quick(ish) Custard

30g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
3 egg yolks
260ml double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Using a glass or metal bowl whisk the sugar, cornflour, and egg yolks until lighter in color and you have incorporated a bit of air into them. Leave aside and heat the cream and vanilla together until it starts to produce little bubbles aka simmering. Gradually pour the now vanilla infused cream over the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the while.
Make a double boiler by placing your heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stir the custard until thick and creamy. Can take about 7-10 minutes. To test it use a spatula or spoon by dipping it into the custard and when you pull it out it shouldn't drip off the spoon, run your finger through the middle and if the trail your finger makes stays it's done.
Take off the heat and continue whisking for a few minutes before leaving in the fridge to cool for a minimum of 4 hours.

To Assemble: 

225g blackberries
Oat Crumble (optional) recipe found here.
Egg wash: 1 small egg, lightly beaten

Pastry: Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface, to about 3mm or .3cm and cut into rounds to fit your muffin tin make sure to leave a little over the top for shrinkage. Press carefully into the muffin cavities, no need to grease. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Take them out of the fridge and line with grease proof baking paper and line with baking beads or your choice of weight some people use rice. Blind bake for 10-15 minutes or until it starts to brown. Remove the baking beads and brush a very light layer of the egg wash over each pastry case and bake for an extra 2 minutes or so. Leave to cool completely before adding a blackberry or two depending how big they are to each case. Cover with the custard and oat crumble if using. Enjoy!

I shared these with my work colleagues and they had a deep discussion about how one of them didn't like blackberries, but were loving them with the custard and oat topping. Then I was asked what it was that was giving it that extra something and I said it was probably the orange zest in the pastry. With that revaluation it was readily agreed upon that that was what was giving it that something special. They are funny, I do love working with fellow foodies!

*recipe adapted from Sweet Tooth by Lily Vanilli


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