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Wednesday 28 November 2012

OXO Salad Spinner: Review and Give-Away - Winter Salad of Red Cabbage and Walnuts

Eek. I am so busy that I can't even bear it. However, I promised salad, and you'll damn well get one.

In case you weren't aware from the title, the lovely people at OXO are giving away one of their amazingly fantastic salads spinners. You can read all about that here. But here's the first of my favourite salads to share with you.

I say 'favourite', though this is actually a stripped down version of the one I'd usually make because I didn't have any dried cranberries. Somebody had eaten them all.

I shall save the pointing finger of accusation for later.

I love the idea of a 'Winter' salad. I recognise that on some level using cabbage instead of lettuce takes this mere baby steps away from coleslaw, but as someone who loves to eat that particular plasti-tubbed delight late at night, standing in front of the fridge, I make no apologies. Anyway, the spices in this dressing make it taste completely different to how you might think.

A salad spinner makes cabbage salad a breeze to prepare. I find you can often get grit in between the leaves of red cabbage, despite them being so tightly packed together (like in the insides of leeks - how does it get in there?), and a quick spin does the job of deep cleansing (not just for skin care, folks)  nicely.

Obviously add more dressing as you eat. I was in a rush to take a photo!

Oh yeah, one last thing. A re-hash of the giveaway rules:

  • Leave a comment on this post letting me know what your favourite salad is. Maybe you hate salad and you want this for someone else. That's fine. I'm not going to judge you.
  • If you prefer, leave the comment on the Delicious Delicious Delicious Facebook Page. You can like us as well! We'd love it if you did.
  • Comments will close at midnight on Monday 10 December 2012. Winners will be selected at random shortly after. 
  • Open to all people, everywhere.
  • Email entries not accepted.  
Winter Salad of Red Cabbage and Walnuts

You will need:

1/4 red cabbage
1 carrot
a handful of dried cranberries, should you have them
the same of walnuts
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
6 tbsp natural yogurt
salt and pepper

  1. Shred the cabbage and wash. Spin dry.
  2. Peel and chop the carrot - I like mine in big, irregular chunks. Mix with the cabbage.
  3. Toast the walnuts lightly in a dry frying pan. Set aside.
  4. Toast the spices in the same pan; grind them to powder in a pestle and mortar and add to the yogurt. Season with salt and pepper. This is your dressing.
  5. Layer the cabbage and carrots on a dish. Top with walnuts and optional cranberries, and as much or as little dressing as you wish. Serve with hot flat breads (God bless my local Lebanese store!).

Monday 26 November 2012

OXO Salad Spinner: Review and Give-Away

Salad: it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

I might just change your life today. And then you'd forgive the fact that YET AGAIN I have left it far too long without an update.

Earlier this year, I had one of those conversations that start out of nothing with an elderly lady in my local supermarket. Want to know what it was about? Bagged salad.

I hate those stupid packets of pre-washed leaves that seem to spoil as soon as you open them. They are so, so, so ridiculously expensive. Do me a favour and compare the price (do the maths properly and work out the price per hundred grams!) of bagged lettuce or whatever versus its whole, shrink-wrapped cousin next time you're shivering in front of those overly effective chillers. You'll see.

Clearly my old lady friend was thinking the same.

'In my day, ' she said, somewhat gravely, 'we used a salad spinner. These bagged up ones (the salads - she was holding a packet of frisée as it happens) go bad after a day of being open.'

'My mum used to have one of those.' I offered. 'It was day-glo orange plastic and made a growling noise when you turned the handle.'

I couldn't tell if she was listening or not.

We both chose a packet of two Little Gems and went our separate ways. I wondered if she still had a salad spinner and if it was a day-glo orange model, and promptly resolved to steal my mum's cranky old one when I next went home.

As it happens, I forgot to and much time passed. I forgot all about spinners and continued washing my salad and draining it in a colander as usual, not minding the slightly limp leaves that this method produces. After all, I'd been eating salad like that for years (and if I'm honest, I always try and get away with not washing the lettuce anyway. The French always seem to get away without.)

Then, months ago now (I'm a slacker) I had an email from a rep for OXO, asking if I would like to try any of their range of baking products. I use a few already - I love their dough scoopfor portioning cookie dough before baking - and was looking through their range online when I noticed they also made rather funky looking salad spinners.

In a flash of inspiration I asked to give one a trial, thinking that the humble salad could take centre stage on the blog for once. We really can't always have sugar on the front page. It's not a good way to live.

Happily, OXO are letting me give away a brand spanking new Good Grips Salad Spinner(the link is to a slightly different model, the spinner is actually like mine in the pictures) to one lucky reader. We'll get to that later. First, let's check out what's so great about said salad spinners.


Here's the empty spinner. You'll notice straight off that it's not day-glo orange, and I can only apologise to you for that. Please remember that I am not the designer.

You'll also notice that there's no cranky little handle to turn. That's because the OXO spinner is automatic! You just push down on the lid, and your salad will spin away until all the water (or nearly all of it) is no longer clinging to the leaves, but instead collecting at the bottom of the bowl leaving you with dry, crisp salad to dress as you wish.

Look at it go!

The little point of design genius, as far as this salad maker can tell, if the little ridged point in the centre of the bowl. This keeps the leaves in their basket above the water level, so you get dry salad for no effort whatsoever. Amazing. You can also (or at least, I did) dress the leaves and serve the salad right out of the plastic bowl itself.

I noticed that a reviewer on Amazon has said what I am trying to get across in a much more efficient and direct way. Let's enlist the help of our good friends the quotation marks!

"be honest. can you live your life without a salad spinner? you probably can. but should you? no.

so if you're going to get one then this is the one for you. the central button you just push down and it spins your bits inside like there's no tomorrow. no longer do you have to contend with a rotating handle like on old-fashioned salad spinners that tend to fly off your counter and pierce you in the eye.

the oxo rocks."

I know you want one. Here's how (short of just going out and buying your own) you can get it.

I will be posting a mini-series of salads. Most likely there'll be three of them, but heck, I might do more. Simply leave a comment on any of those posts, or this one, telling me what your favourite salad is.

The rules (must have rules) are as follows:

  • Leave a comment on this post letting me know what your favourite salad is. Maybe you hate salad and you want this for someone else. That's fine. I'm not going to judge you.
  • If you prefer, leave the comment on the Delicious Delicious Delicious Facebook Page. You can like us as well! We'd love it if you did.
  • Comments will close at midnight on Monday 10 December 2012. Winners will be selected at random shortly after. 
  • Open to all people, everywhere.
  • Email entries not accepted. 

Monday 12 November 2012

Chewy Treacle Spice Cookies

 I'm not suggesting you eat this many cookies at once. Honestly.

I think I remember once reading an article about how Tina Turner starts every day off by chanting and that she thinks that's what keeps her (and her legs) looking young and in tip-top condition. Or maybe that's what she says in What's Love Got To Do With It. I can't be sure.

It's odd what comes to your mind while you sit waiting for your computer's anti-virus to update 'quickly' and 'hassle-free'. (Ha! Whatever. I've been here hours and am sick of restarting...)

That's a harrowing film in some parts by the way. Not Sunday afternoon viewing, that's for sure.

Anyway, the chanting. The chanting is related to today's post. Do me a favour? Repeat after me:

"My mixer is powerful. It must be used with care."

Chant it. Feel it.

It's not just Tina who needs to start the day off right. If you aren't careful, and don't keep the speed low, your stand mixer will chuck sugar all over the place when you start to make these cookies. If you're not actually using a mixer, well, you can skip the chant if you wish. You'll be just fine, although your elbows won't thank you.

It came upon me, last week, as I put together the little menu at the side over there to help visitors to this site better find what they are looking for (in the middle of a sleepless night, without the heating on - I hope someone actually uses the thing!), that we don't have enough cookie recipes around here. Keen to put this right, I'm offering these in some ways seasonal treats. They were born out of a cupboard clear out, but I am beginning to think they might be the best cookies I've ever made.

I wanted to make a treacle toffee flavoured biscuit. I missed Bonfire Night this year, and thus got no toffees. I'm not going to lie, the first week of November was as a result tinged with a certain melancholy, but I managed, luckily, to pull myself together, put on my best heels and find for myself the happiness I was seeking in the bottom of my mixing bowl.

The answer is always in baking, my people. Always.

Just treacle, though, seemed a little dull as far as flavour was concerned. I know there will be those of you who are waiting for me to say that I added chocolate to the mix, and will be upset that I didn't. But I say to thee, and not for the first time, that chocolate is over-rated; I find it difficult to get excited about.

Spice though, drives me wild. There's a moment in the making of this cookie dough (when you add the dry ingredients at the end) that scents the air so strongly with the fragrance of brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves that it is just... Indecent. I nearly passed out.

I've had these knocking around in the tin for a week now (the recipe makes around 30 cookies) and can confirm that not only do they keep very well, they actually improve with age. So I'd say you need to plan your cookie craving about three to four days in advance.

That will be all. Thank you.

Chewy Treacle Spice Cookies

You will need:

125g butter
200g granulated sugar (plus a little extra for later, around 50g will do)
120g soft dark brown sugar
2 eggs
150g treacle
250g self raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a large bowl, and use a wooden spoon - I'll award you 5 old skool cool points accordingly), put the butter and sugars. Mix on low speed until smooth. There's a lot of sugar so it won't turn creamy, but you do want everything to cohere.
  2. Add the eggs and treacle; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until thoroughly combined.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and add them, a scoop at a time, to the treacle mixture, beating on low speed the whole time.
  4. The dough will be very soft. Chill in the fridge for an hour (or overnight, or for up to three days, if you'd rather spread the process over several days) to firm slightly.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line two baking trays with parchment. Form balls of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll in the extra granulated sugar (you could add a little cocoa to it if you wanted a gentle chocolate flavour as well as the spice); bake well spaced apart on the baking sheets for 16 minutes or until the centres are set. Cool completely on the baking trays.
  6. Store airtight. Will keep for up to a week, no problem.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Adagio Tea Set Winners

I am pleased to be able to announce that we have winners to announce.

I realised halfway through this whole tea shizzle that I didn't really consider the best way to get you all to comment. It would have been MUCH easier for me if I had said that you could all leave me a message in the same place. But no. I stupidly wrote three posts and accepted Facebook entries as well. I am a fool.

So here's what I've just done. I made myself a hot Ribena, slapped on some Leona Lewis (I sing along to try and widen my vocal range!), sat down and copied out the names of all the commenters. From all 4 (!) locations. I only wrote your name down once if you left several comments; it felt too mean to discount people entirely since my instructions perhaps weren't that clear.


Witness the list!

Enter Random.org and my screen grabs. Took me ages to figure out how to get those. You can tell I haven't worked in an office for years, can't you?

Our first winning comment came from Commenter #8, Mr. Rolfe, who said:

'I would like a taste of Ti Kaun Yin. As one of China's most beloved oolongs, her intriguing lingering floral aroma is enough to make anyone scream "Ooooh Darjeeling!" :)'

Well, quite, Mr. Rolfe. Quite.

 Next up is #18, World In A Cup, who commented:

 'When I first moved to England I thought I'd hit the jackpot: a tea-lover moving to the promised land of tea -- it was a match made in heaven! That is, until I set out to re-stock my tea cupboard (OHYES I have one of those!) and was sorely disappointed... The tea bag is ubiquitous! It's an abomination! Loose leaf tea is the only way to go. So, rather than getting lost on the fashionable streets of London trying to ferret out the very best of loose-leaf tea the capital has to offer, I settled on the easy option: every time I go home to my frost-nipped Sweden, I bring pound after pound of the most beautifully scented loose leaf tea with me. (For survival purposes only, of course)

I'd love to try the White Blueberry, since white teas otherwise tend to be sold in an unadulterated state. I'm ready for some excitement! (And I would love to see the look on my family's faces when I tell them this Christmas that I won't be filling my suitcase up with tea... I have been made fun of long enough!)'

I want to visit Sweden - if there's a space in your suitcase that won't be getting filled with tea, let me know. I'll hop in!

#46, Katerina Kigitzi, is next:

'I love them (from Greece)'

 And then we have #41, Ondrej Srb:

'I would love to try some of the green tea but what I'm really after is the teapot LOL.'

It's a great pot! You're going to love it.

Our final winner is Lily Beltain, who was #25 on my list:

'I've never had White tea, but it looks quite exciting. I've just started buying proper tea after finally getting around to procuring a teapot! One of my earliest tea memories was making my Mother her daily cup of Earl Grey, but misunderstanding the instructions, and putting 3 teaspoons of tea-leaves into her mug rather than the pot! At least she pretended to drink it :D'

I've never tried white tea either, but it's on my list! Let me know how it goes.

Congratulations guys, and get in touch with your delivery details so I can pass them on to Adagio. Thanks to all who entered, and to Adagio for their kind offer to provide tea not just for review but also to give away to you lot!

Friday 2 November 2012

Review and Give-Away: Adagio Tea Sets

 Golden Monkey

Today, we continue The Adagio Trilogy. Reflecting on what has past, I feel sad that this is coming to an end; one wonders how Francis Ford-Coppola felt after The Godfather Part III.

Incidentally, I don't really like those films. I know many of you will be shocked, and perhaps even take offence, but I can't help you. People regularly slate Pretty Woman and I have to deal with it.

Today's tea, I confess, was selected by yours truly as a sample because of its name. I adore it; tell me you don't feel the same.

I was initially thinking that the 'Golden Monkey' may have been harvested by long-fingered primates, like those oolong teas you sometimes read about, but apparently all that stuff is poppycock. Shame. I rather like the idea.

This is a black tea from China, and has a great scent. I get a definite cocoa fragrance, and whereas I personally wouldn't add milk to it, I can see that it would taste great with a little added.

The liquor (had to get that word in one of these posts somewhere!) is a deep, rusty brown, and tastes good and strong. A small mug of this in the afternoon has made a fantastic pick me up over the last three days and I suspect it will do the same tomorrow as well.

I wanted just to point out (since I forgot to in my last posts) another great feature of Adagio's website: the cost per cup information. I doubt many people can visualise what 85g of Golden Monkey tea looks like. Thanks to the clear pricing, you can easily see that it would make 38 cups, at a cost of 32 pence each. That might sound treaty, but there are so many teas to choose from that I think most people would find something unique and to their taste without too much fuss. The Earl Grey Bravo, for example, is only 11 pence a cup. When you think about how much you pay for teas in chain coffee stores, it's actually quite shocking. Treat yourself at home instead, I say.

Adagio are kindly giving away 5 starter sets comprising of 4 teas (details below), a glass mug and an ingenuiTEA teapot to 5 lucky readers. The teas that are up for grabs are:

If you do the maths, you can see this is a serious haul, equal to £50 per set. For your chance to win, here's what you need to do:
  • Leave a comment on this post letting me know which tea you'd most like to try and why. Don't think you need to write an essay. This is just fun! I like silly answers just as much as serious ones.
  • If you prefer, leave the comment on the Delicious Delicious Delicious Facebook Page. You can like us as well! That's fine too.
  • Comments will close at midnight on Monday 5 November 2012. Winners will be selected at random shortly after. 
  • Open to all people, everywhere.
  • Email entries not accepted. Nor are multiple entries. But you can ask friends or colleagues to enter on your behalf if you like.

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