CHECKOUT (2nd edition – November 2011)

Loch Fyne 

Christmas is only a few weeks away and if you still haven’t found that present for an awkward uncle or your fussy cousin, don’t fret, the online shop at Loch Fyne has the answer. We love the great value gift sets, especially as they contain nothing but the best produce and ingredients. We really like the look of the Food from Argyll Festive Box (£30.00) and the Scottish Breakfast (£36.00), what’s a better treat on Christmas morning?

Food from Argyll Festive Box

Oysters and Champagne - just a bit special!

Oysters and Champagne - just a bit special!

As well as the gift sets, Loch Fyne also sell fresh and smoked salmon, fresh produce from their farmers market and even beer and wines… So eat, drink and be merry! And as an added bonus the lovely chefs at Loch Fyne have come up with some amazing recipes. We recommend the Roasted Salmon with Pepper and Corn Relish and the Loch Fyne Langoustine Risotto (pictured below).

Make this and much more...

Tasty Little Numbers

These portion and calorie controlled snacks are the brainchild of Jo Beach who admitted to us in a tweet that ‘It had taken 4 years & a sold soul to get Tasty Little Numbers off the ground!’ And we’re glad she did! These snacks really do take the messin’ out of guessin’. (Her words…)

The full range (pictured below) includes four microwavable snack pots, four varieties of crisps and three chocolate bars. Our favourites were the They’ve Banged Up the Beans! Sausage and Beans and Curry Up, Lets Do It! Chicken Tikka Masala snack pots at 200 calories each and the I Need White Chocolate Now! choco bar at just 100 calories.

Real food, perfectly portioned...

The snack pots are, as you can well imagine, perfect for anyone counting those calories. But they don’t taste like diet food. They are fantastic for using as a topping on a jacket spud or a slice of toast. I had the Sausage and Beans on a thick slice of brown bread, topped with grated cheese (I’m not calorie counting), while Oliver, aged 10, had the Chicken Tikka Masala with a mini naan. This was an ideal sized serving for a child and very healthy too.

The range of crisps (100 calories per packet) tasted great, especially the tongue-tingling Give Me the Salt of the Vinegar Gets It! Salt and Vinegar Chip Sticks and the ‘Frazzles‘ style Stop Tellin’ Porky Fries! Crispy Bacon Flavour Rashers.

I need chocolate now!

The chocolate bars are never going to compete with a big thick chunk of Green & Blacks, but at just 100 calories they’re great for keeping your sweet tooth cravings at bay! The I need white chocolate now! was my favourite, a good coating of creamy chocolate on a crispy crunchy wafer.

The full range, available from Amazon grocery, are an amazing way of keeping a check on you calorie intake and a perfect sized lunch for a pre-teen child.

One other thing worth a mention is the brilliantly designed branding and packaging, bright, quirky, fun and informative. Other companies should take note – packaging doesn’t have to be boring!

Cabana (Westfield Stratford City) 

If you’re wandering around Westfield (Stratford City) and your start to feel hangry (hungry & angry) avoid the food halls and head outside (near John Lewis) and pop into Cabana for a huge dollop of Brazilian fun, and a belly full of meat! (don’t worry veggies, you are well catered for too.)

Just like being in Brazil... Kind of! Loved the denim covered seating, panelled walls and original Brazilian posters

My top choice was the Honey & Date Chicken – sweet and sticky, Saff had double helping of the Spicy Malagueta Prawns – hot, hot, hot!
Don’t miss the Sweetcorn Pamonhos (grated sweetcorn steamed in coconut milk) from the street food section or a steaming side order of Black Beans. We both admitted that the word steaming made us order it.

The Chimichurri Black Gold Rump wasn't really up to Hawksmoor standards - but what is? Although the Malagueta Prawns really hit the spot

As for desert, well you can’t go wrong with any flavour of Froyo (Frozen yoghurt) but it has to be topped with Pacopqinha, Brazilian peanut candy, a bit like the middle of a Reese peanut butter cup. Or play it safe with a kiwi sorbet.

Froyo and nuts...

Hawksmoor at home

The Hawksmoor at Home cookbook ‘should be covered in fingerprints and splashes of food, as it’s a great hands-on book to use every day.’ HESTON BLUMENTHAL
As you should all know by now, we’re massive fans of Will Beckett and Huw Gott’s Hawksmoor restaurants. So when this amazing meaty cookbook landed on my desk, we couldn’t wait for the weekend to nip down to Dennis of Bexley to buy some goodies. Our masterplan was to try to recreate the Hawksmoor burger, complete with homemade buns. Top tip: If you decide to make the buns, allow yourself at least three and a half hours – we didn’t and ended up eating at midnight! (Doh! Or should that be dough?). We opted to use beef brisket and shin with a couple of big spoonfuls of marrow bone for that authentic Hawksmoor pattie flavour. Our results weren’t that different from those in the book (See pics below).

Finely diced beef shin, brisket and marrow bone - it wasn't so radioactive red in real life...

Hawksmoor burger buns with a top-secret ingredient - some Birds custard powder... Ok, so now it's not a secret!

Two special patties...

The final result, and they tasted delicious too.

Leftovers Day 1: Fish Finger Sandwich

Leftovers Day 2:Egg roll

Leftovers Day 3: Meatballs with burger bun toast

Only one vital bit of information missing, the time it takes to cook and how many it makes. Hence why we also made meatballs, fish finger sandwiches and egg rolls with the extras…

To order the book, RRP £20 click here.  All proceeds go to Action Against Hunger.

Jus-Rol Bake-it-fresh

Nothing beats the smell and taste of freshly baked bread. And a bowl of warm crusty rolls served with some Nudo Olive oil adds a bit of homely magic to even the most basic of meals. But if you can’t be bothered to make it from scratch (see above!) then the Bake-it-fresh range from Jus-rol is ideal. It’s so quick and simple – 1) open packet, 2) divide the dough, 3) slam them in the oven. Minimum effort, maximum results… Everybody’s happy!

Rocket Fuel

If you’re rushing here and there, sorting out the kids, shopping for Christmas gifts, visiting the family… You get the idea! This time of year is manic and a tin of Rocket Fuel gives you a much-needed kick of caffeine. The self warming strong coffee, with added Guarana is really simple to use and more importantly tastes good for an ‘instant’. It comes in really handy when out and about, we keep a can in the car for emergencies… You never know the next time you’ll get stuck in traffic on the M25.
If you fancy hosting your own ‘Come dine with me‘ dinner party whilst raising some funds for research into Alzheimer’s then head over to Cook for a cure. Here you can download an info pack. You can download a seasonal recipe every month. Choose your dishes, pick a theme (if you want) and ask your guests to make a suitable donation to attend your little party. So during the season to eat, drink and be merry, why not try to raise money for a great charity too. For more on Alzheimer’s research UK, click here.

Look out for our Christmas edition of Checkout

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