Thursday, 16 June 2011
So I contacted a few companies and accepted a few offers but I refused quite a few too, only accepting products that I would use in real life. My first review of theAxil Coolfan is one such product. I love it. It makes my mealtimes easier as while I'm dishing up the adult portions and adjusting the seasoning according, this little guy is making sure that B's portion is ready to go by the time we sit down to eat together as a family.
Onto my next review. This product is actually part of a theme of reviews that I'm doing here, Scottish products. Promoting local and national producers is something that I really believe in and so far have not seen a blog who does such a job. I'm a proud Scot and I do go out of my way to buy local products and produce over imported substitutes.
The product is Chilli Papa's spice mixes. A product thought up by Darren Mollan after struggling to find the time to make curries around that hectic time that is Christmas. Even though the company has only been running since February, Darren has set up on line shop through his Facebook site, an Ebay shop and is now stocked online at Old English Shop. The mixes are also available in David Sands in the following stores: Linburn Road, Kinross, Crossford and Auchtermuchty!
Originally I was sceptical of the product. This was nothing to do with Darren's product but at using a ready made mix. I always blend my own but as Darren noticed, it takes time. I don't use ready made jars as they are full of oil and well, taste rubbish compared to making your own from scratch. I researched the company and was very impressed by the story of the conception of the product and the fact that the mixes are oil free, allowing you to control the fat content of your meal. We all love curry in the house, even Miss B from the minute she was eating proper meals (9 months +). The amount of time it takes to blend the spices means that we rarely eat curry midweek and it requires constant tasting and adjusting and if this product lived up to its hype, then it really would make things easier.
I got to try two mixes from a range of three, Papa's Yellow Curry and Papa's 2 in 1 Tikka Mix, a mix that could be used for marinading as kebabs or as a the base for a curry mix.
Test 1: Papa's Yellow Curry.
A blend of ground coriander, tumeric, parika and cinnamon. Serves 4.
On the back of the mix is a useful list of the ingredients you will need, to think about while you shop in preparation:
- 350-400g meat or meat substitute, fish or vegetables
- One Onion
- Garlic and ginger (can be fresh or ready chopped
- One stick cube
- 400ml coconut milk
Inside lists a detailed recipe for Papa's Yellow Curry. The instructions are brief and very simple, reassuring the novice that cooking a curry with the help of these delicious mixes is simple.
- Chop one medium onion
- Chop 300-600g of meat, meat substitute, fish or vegetables
- Add one teaspoon of ready chopped ginger or 1x2cm of fresh ginger.
- Add one teaspoon of ready chopped garlic or 2 cloves of fresh garlic.
- Crumble one stock cube.
- Add supplied kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass
- Add 400ml of coconut milk
- Add Papa's Yellow Curry Mix
- Add salt and pepper to season
- Add all of the above ingredients in a pan, cook on a low heat stirring occasionally until meat is cooked thoroughly, remove kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass before serving.
I served the Yellow Curry with homemade bhaji's, masala dhal, naan bread and some raita, relish and mango chutney.
For Miss B's portion, I fried the chicken and onion, added the dry spices and added a little apple juice and coconut milk to make the sauce rather than the stock cube.
Test 2: Papa's 2 in 1 Tikka.
A blend of cumin, beetroot powder, garam masala, ground coriander, tumeric, and chili powder. Serves 4 - 6.
I was so looking forward to trying this out based on our first experience of the Yellow Curry but then I was struck down with a bug and there was no way that I was cooking it for the troops without being able to taste it myself! This mix can be utilised to either make a marinade for kebabs, or a tikka masala curry. I made the tikka kebabs for us and the masala for Miss B.
Again, there is a basic list on the back to assist you with prepping for the meal.
- 350g - 600g meat, meat substitute, fish or vegetables.
- One onion
- Garlic and ginger
- 500ml of yoghurt for tikka kebabs
- or 150ml for tikka masala
- One stock cube for tikka masala
- One tablespoon of tomato puree for tikka masala
For the Tikka Kebabs:
- Chop one medium onion
- Chop meat, meat substitute, fish or vegetabes into inch cubes
- Add 500ml of fat free natural yoghurt
- Add one teaspoon of ready chopped ginger or 1x2cm of fresh ginger
- Add one teaspoon of fresh chopped garlic or 2 cloves of fresh garlic.
- Add the juice of one lemon or bottled equivilent
- Add mix
- Add Salt and Pepper to taste
Add all of the ingredients in a pan/pot and stir until you have an even colour. The beetroot powder gives it a vibrant red colour. Marinade for 1 -2 hours and preheat grill to highest level for 15 minutes.
Again, it really is that simple. Once the cutlets were placed under the grill the house was filled with the most wonderful aromas. I served the meat with toasted pitta breads, raita (yoghurt dip), carrot and cumin salad, lettuce and tomato relish. I will post my own recipes of the accompaniments later.
Another great thing about the mixes is that they come with additional recipes showing the care that Chilli Papa's has taken over making your meal great. The 2 in 1 Tikka mix comes with two recipes and an additional recipe for raita. The Yellow Curry comes with a recipe for Papa's perfect rice. If you want these recipes, then you will just have to buy the mixes. I will be ordering the full set the minute I've finished this reviews and think that at £1.99 for two mixes (enough to feed 12!) they are great value too.
You can be a Chilli Mamma or Papa too. Get your mixes either through the Facebook site, an Ebay shop or online at Old English Shop. The mixes are also available in David Sands in the following stores: Linburn Road, Kinross, Crossford and Auchtermuchty!
Thursday, 7 July 2011
I am a very proud Scot and I am also a bit of a teuchter (a Scots lowland word for a hairy Highlander but can refer to anyone not from a city) coming from a village outside of Edinburgh. My accent is definitely broad and peppered with awful colloquialisms like whit? aye! dinnae be daft! ken? While for those of you not in the know, Edinburgh and certainly the city centre where I reside is full of English people. Now I'm not going to paint my face blue and start a war, nor is this a slight on anyone, just a fact. This has been the way for many generations and is possibly something to do with the University I suspect. A result of this is that the Edinburgh accent is a gentle Scots accent. A few of my friends who were raised by English parents in this fair city or have attending one of the prestigious independent schools we have here do not have detectable accents (so much so that I recently found out that the partner of one of my best friends is Edinburgh born and bread despite me being under the impression for the last 6 years that he came from London!). A recent tale of how my accent gets me into trouble sometimes can be found here.
Why did I start rambling on about this? Oh aye... I am recounting this tale as recently I left my teuchter village and moved to the big smoke, Auld Reekie as the books call it. Despite my accent sticking out like a sore (sair) thumb, I simply LOVE living in Edinburgh. While there are many farms and local producers situated in the wilds outside Edinburgh, if you do not have a car it can be difficult to access them. The beauty of living in Edinburgh is that local producers here really are only every a half hour journey (usually by foot) away. Part of the wonder of this place is that every day can really be adventure, with new things to discover around the corner.
It was Forest Gump who said that life is like a box of chocolates, well if you apply that thinking to this city, the adage that Edinburgh is like a chocolate advent calendar, you never know what shape of chocolate lies behind the door, is true. The city has layer upon layer of talented people hiding in nooks and crannies just waiting to be discovered. One of the best things about living in Edinburgh is it is so small! It's size means that you always know what is going on and at the moment there is a wonderful culture of arts collectives going around. This collective spirit is also apparent in our food culture where more and more markets and happenings are centering around local producers. Cafes and restaurants are stocking locally made products, cooking with local produce and it really is a time to celebrate all that this great city and it's surrounding areas have to offer. If any of you guys are thinking of visiting Edinburgh during the upcoming Festival season then bare this in mind. There is much more to this city than See You Jimmy Hats and Princes' Street.
Around the corner from a flat I used to have, lies what I can only imagine to be the olfactory heaven that is Burgh Bakes. Burgh Bakes is a company run by the luscious Nicole who works incredibly hard to delight the sweet teeth of Edinburgh with her delicious gourmet marshmallows.
I was very lucky to be sent a box of samples from her range of gourmet marshmallows. Never again will I buy those pink and white fakes from the supermarket (unless I'm melting them as smores for the kids) as Nicole has changed the way that this house thinks about marshmallows. Now if you're thinking "what's the big deal, they're just marshmallows?", then you clearly haven't tasted these beauties. My passion for sweet things runs deep and a visit to the dentist at the end of the month may prove that it runs deeper still (cavity deep). I have inherited my father's sweet tooth, who himself is a lover of marshmallows and who jumped in the car to make the 30 minute journey to my house the minute I phoned him to tell him I had some REAL ones! And so this father and daughter team sat down one afternoon with a cup of tea to road test Nicole's range and here are the results...
(All images used in this review belong to Nicole and are taken from her website. My father and I are such greedy monsters that I didn't take a picture of the beautiful packaging before ripping them open and stuffing my face.)
Very admirably, Nicole uses only Fairtrade sugar in her marshmallows along with Scottish butter and local organic fruit to produce her range of seven different varieties. The majority of the Marshmallows are not only delicious but Gluten-Free, Dairy Free and low-fat!
Nicole says that the opportunities for flavours is virtually limitless and so new taste sensations are always evolving. You can keep up with the latest specials and even shop now from the Burgh Bakes Facebook page. The range has been such a success that more and more local businesses are stocking them and figuring out how to incorporate the range into their businesses. Amongst the many business that have discovered and are still to discover these wonderful sweets areCandy Cupcake, the Suburban Pantry, The Edinburgh Larder,Barnton Fine Foods
The taste test:
We tried three flavours. The Millionaires shortbread, the Key Lime Pie and the Raspberry. All of which were delicious and unusual.
The Millionaires Shortbread was constructed just like the usual cake with a layer of biscuity base, then the mallow and then caramel and chocolate swirled on top.
The raspberry mallow was just that, so raspberry tasting and very moreish. Mmmmm....
The Key Lime Pie was heavenly. A sugary biscuit base holding up a zingy lime mallow.
The mallows come cut onto generous two bite portions (for when people are looking) or can be devoured in a single bite when the curtains are drawn and no one will laugh at your appreciative noises!
As you can probably tell. We loved these mallows and have since made a few trips to our nearest supplier, The Edinburgh Larder. Nicole is in talks with an organic food market as a potential stockist that is situated about 100 meters from my flat! Uh Oh!
If you are interested in buying the mallows or stocking them please get in touch with Nicole:
The event will take place on the 16th of July from 10am until 3pm so hurry while stocks last (they always sell out quickly!). Directions to Earthy can be found through their website and through their Facebookpage.