Rocky Road Bars

Rocky road bars

To my mind my rocky road bars are not a thing of beauty, well not to to look at anyway. Thankfully they taste good, extremely good. These rocky road bars are full of all the yummy treats I could find, cherries, Turkish delight, marshmallows, dried mango and crunchy amaretti biscuits. All smothered in a mix of milk and dark chocolate, honestly what is there not to like about these.

My daughter helped me make these and had great fun bashing the amaretti biscuits into chunks. Making and of course eating the rocky road bars was a great way to mark the end of the summer holidays. I’ve decided September is going to be a month of home cooking, I’m planning on making warming soups, casseroles, cottage pies and fruit crumbles. Ultimately my aim is to get my youngest to eat more fruit and veg, I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Here’s my recipe for Rocky Road Bars.

Ingredients (makes 16 or 20 depending on how large you want them)

200g dark chocolate
200g milk chocolate
150g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup
200g glacé cherries
175g crunchy amaretti biscuits (crumbled)
100g mini pink and white marshmallows
75g assorted Turkish delight (chopped into 1cm chunks)
50g dried mango pieces

Method

1. Grease and line a 30cm x 23cm (12″ x 9″) traybake tin with baking parchment.

2. Melt the butter, golden syrup and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.

3. Once melted and cooled, stir in the glacé cherries, amaretti biscuits, Turkish delight and mango pieces.

4. Transfer the mixture to the tin and then refrigerate until set.

5. Using a large sharp knife cut into 16 or 20 bars depending on how big you want them. Enjoy!

Rocky road bars

Until next time.

Julie
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High Tea at Fortnum & Mason

I was recently very, very lucky to enjoy high tea in the exquisitely decorated Diamond Jubliee Tea Salon at Fortnum and Mason. Undoubtably my most favourite way to enjoy an afternoon, I couldn’t resist booking a table when I discovered the children ate free, making this special treat for the whole family much more affordable.

The taking of tea between lunch and dinner became a formal ritual amongst the upper classes of English society is credited to the Duchess of Bedford. Afternoon tea is now a pastime enjoyed as a special treat usually including finger sandwiches, scones and fine cakes. High tea includes a slightly more substantial savoury beginning course.

We decided to eat from the high tea menu, I chose a delicious lobster omelette victoria served with lobster bisque and shaved truffle and my husband opted for chicken in butter puff pastry with baby leeks. Then followed by freshly baked warm scones with raspberry preserve, lemon curd and clotted cream. Finishing off with a plate of dainty individual patisserie. Meanwhile, my children had a delightful selection of sandwiches, including corn fed chicken, honey glazed ham, free range egg mayonnaise and cress and of course cucumber sandwiches. The children’s afternoon tea is charming with its character chocolate cakes, jammy dodgers and macarons.

Not forgetting the tea itself, which you choose from a tea menu. I prefer breakfast tea but for true tea connoisseurs there is an exceptional choice of tea blends available. On paying our bill we were given samples of Fortnum & Mason’s afternoon tea blend in mini canisters, which I think is rather lovely.

Fortnum & Mason

We thoroughly enjoyed our high tea, every mouthful tasted amazing. Even with a mischievous toddler the staff were very attentive and helpful. Tea at Fortnum & Mason is truly a wonderful experience, I highly recommend you try it for yourself. Do look out for the children dining free offers that run every so often.

Until next time.

Julie
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Chicken with Rosemary Ravioli served with Tomato, Mushroom and Rosemary Sauce

Chicken and rosemary ravioli

I was travelling home from an amazing day trip to Borough Market, sat on a busy train reading my twitter timeline when I came across a tweet from Foodies 100 about the Giovanni Rana Recipe Challenge. As regular blog readers will know, pasta is a bit of a passion of mine and when I read that the prize was a one to one fresh pasta masterclass with Giovanni Rana, I just had to enter.

To enter the competition I was required to create an original recipe using a product from the Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence pasta range. I opted to use the succulent chicken and rosemary ravioli, as I really liked the sound of the flavours. To accompany the ravioli I made a tasty tomato, mushroom and rosemary sauce.

Chicken and rosemary ravioli

Chicken and rosemary ravioli

The fresh ravioli filling was delicious and moist. My tomato sauce, with earthy mushrooms and fresh rosemary from my garden complemented the ravioli well. I was delighted with the overall finished dish and my family enjoyed it too.

Here’s my recipe for Chicken with Rosemary Ravioli with Tomato, Mushroom and Rosemary Sauce.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 x 250g packs Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence succulent chicken with rosemary large ravioli

Tomato, Mushroom and Rosemary Sauce.

1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 medium mushrooms (peeled and sliced)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
Sea salt
Black pepper

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese (optional), garlic ciabatta and salad.

Method

1. Heat the olive oil in a large lidded saucepan and then sauté the onion in the oil until beginning to soften.

2. Add the mushrooms and rosemary, sauté until the mushrooms begin to reduce.

3. Add the tinned tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer with the lid partially on for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, cook the ravioli in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 4 minutes.

5. Carefully drain and arrange the ravioli in pasta bowls. Spoon over the sauce and finish off with grated Parmesan cheese if you like. Serve with garlic ciabatta and salad. Enjoy!

Chicken and rosemary ravioli

Wish me luck, until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: I received vouchers for Giovanni Rana Pasta to create my own recipe, which I’m entering into a competition with Giovanni Rana and Foodies 100. The prize is a fresh pasta master class with Giovanni Rana.

Yogurt Fruit Salad

Yoghurt Fruit Salad

When Sainsbury’s recently asked food bloggers to try out their salad sprinkles, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try something new. I was sent four different sprinkles to try, crispy onion, savoury oat, Italian style and dried fruit and honey seed.

Salad sprinkles

I love the serving suggestion tip on the packet of the dried fruit and honey seed sprinkle, which inspired my Yogurt Fruit Salad recipe. This colourful sprinkle is a mix of dried apricots, orange flavoured cranberries, toasted pumpkin seeds and honey coated sunflower seeds. I used some of my favourite fruits for the recipe but it really doesn’t matter which fruits you use, just choose your favourites. To boost the flavour of the 0% fat yogurt I added a little vanilla and honey for extra sweetness.

Here’s the recipe for Yogurt Fruit Salad.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1 medium banana
8 small strawberries
12 red grapes
24 blueberries
6 tablespoons natural 0% fat yogurt
1/2 tablespoon runny honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
30g Sainsbury’s dried fruit and honey seed sprinkle

Method

1. Hull the strawberries and slice the banana, then distribute all the fruit equally between two bowls.

2. In another bowl mix the yogurt, honey and vanilla extract together. Then drizzle the flavoured yogurt over the fruit.

3. Add the sprinkles on top. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Yoghurt Fruit Salad

For the other sprinkles I made a simple salad with a mix of watercress, rocket and spinach leaves, with pomodorino tomatoes and cucumber all tossed in a balsamic vinegar. I put the sprinkles in small serving bowls and we all helped ourselves to the ones we fancied. The Italian style sprinkle, a mix of toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds, toasted pine nuts, dried onion, dried sundried tomato and dried tomato was most definitely the favourite. It really jazzed up the salad and I’m sure I’ll use it again.

We also really enjoyed the crispy onion sprinkle which is a mix of dried red onion, toasted sunflower seeds, dried red proper and dried green pepper. I think it would make a tasty alternative to croutons if served with a bowl of warming tomato soup. The savoury oat sprinkle flavoured with rosemary was lovely, I think it would make an excellent topping for oven roasted fish.

Salad sprinkles

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Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: Sainsbury’s sponsored me to write this post. All opinions are honest and my own. The recipes are my own.

Tomato and Basil Salad

Tomato Salad

During a recent trip to London’s Borough Market I bought some amazing tomatoes from an organic veg stall. As you can see from the pictures there was a fantastic selection of tomatoes in varying colours and sizes. Seeing such an impressive display prompted me to buy some with the idea of making a simple tomato and basil salad when I returned home.

We ate our salad with my other Borough Market purchases which included some focaccia from the Bread Ahead Bakery and a wedge of Montgomery Cheddar from Neal’s Yard Diary. The tomato and basil salad is hardly a recipe at all but I wanted to share it with you as it really was rather good especially with the focaccia and cheese.

Borough market

Borough market

Here’s my recipe for Tomato and Basil Salad.

A selection of different tomatoes
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Method

1. Slice the larger tomatoes, cut the smaller ones in half or quarters depending on their size.

2. Arrange the tomatoes and basil leaves on a plate. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper. Serve at room temperature and enjoy.

Tomato Salad

Sometimes simple unfussy food is the best.

If you haven’t seen it yet, do take a look at my review of London’s Borough Market which includes lots of photos of my day there.

Until next time.

Julie
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London’s Iconic Borough Market

Borough market

I recently spent a day at London’s iconic Borough Market. Located near London Bridge it’s undoubtably one of London’s best food markets. There’s a fantastic variety of fruit, vegetables, hot food, chocolate, cakes, breads, cheeses, cured meats, olive oils and drinks available to buy. In fact, I can’t think of anything you can’t buy there. There’s a real buzz about the place, the enticing smells and the friendly people make it a brilliant place to visit. Borough Market is steeped in history so I strongly recommend you pick up a market guide to learn more about it.

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I’m so pleased I found Konditor & Cook a fabulous cake shop, selling a delicious selection of cakes and brownies. I bought 4 of their regular brownies and they were the most fudgey chocolate brownies ever. On display in the shop were the most exquisite tiered cakes, with a really colourful show stopper in the shop window. I just could resist taking lots of photos.

The Olive Oil Company sells a vast selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Although, I didn’t buy any I did buy two cute olive oil dipping bowls.

I visited Neal’s Yard Diary a wonderful cheese shop located on Park Street, after sampling lots of different cheeses I bought a wedge of Montgomery Cheddar.

At the end of our day my husband and children treated me to some gorgeous chocolates from Rabot 1745, Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant and bar selling cocoa inspired cuisine and chocolates. It’s most definitely a restaurant I’d like to eat in.

If you’re ever in London make sure you spare a few hours or ideally a day to browse the food stalls and shops of Borough Market. I think you’ll love it. I’m hoping I can go back around Christmas time to see what festive goodies I can buy.

Here’s a few more pics of my day.

Do look out for my next blog post which features a recipe using some of the ingredients I bought at Borough Market.

Until next then.

Julie
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Harissa Spiced Giant Couscous

Harissa Spiced Giant Cous Cous

Having a barbecue on a week night most definitely means it’s the summer holidays. Oh, I do love the holidays, we all needed a break from the usual crazy rushing around routine. For us having a family barbecue is a lovely way to relax and enjoy our favourite foods.

When Sainsbury’s asked food bloggers to try their giant couscous I thought our barbecue would be the perfect time to experiment. Giant couscous is much larger than regular couscous and is made from wheat flour. It’s quite similar to small pasta in texture. For this recipe I’ve teamed the giant couscous with spicy harissa paste and sweet roasted peppers resulting in this super tasty side dish which we enjoyed with our barbecue feast. It’s a really simple recipe and tasted great with our burgers, sausages and salad. I know I’ll be making it again and again.

Here’s my recipe for Harissa Spiced Giant Couscous.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
Olive oil
100g giant couscous
1/2 tablespoon harissa paste
1 spring onion (sliced)
Small bunch of curly leaf parsley (chopped)
Salt and black pepper

Method

1. Pre heat your oven to Fan 200c.

2. Cut the peppers in half, remove the stalk, seeds and pith. Brush the outside with a little oil and place on a non stick roasting tray skin side up. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4. Meanwhile, place the giant couscous in a medium size saucepan. Cover with cold water and then bring to the boil. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through, then drain.

5. Peel the skin off the peppers and then chop into 1cm square pieces.

6. Place the giant couscous in a bowl, add the chopped peppers, harissa paste, spring onion and parsley. Season generously with salt and black pepper, then mix well. Serve at room temperature.

Harissa Spiced Giant Cous Cous

Have you ever tried giant couscous? I’d love to know if you have a special way to cook it.

Until next time.

Julie
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Disclosure: Sainsbury’s sponsored me to write this post. All opinions are honest and my own. The recipe is my own.

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

Packed full of nutritional goodness this Strawberry and Banana Smoothie will please everyone (well nearly everyone!). My children really enjoy smoothies and now I’ve got into the habit of making them on a regular basis, I’m finding it a great way of serving up some of their 5 a day…or is it 7!

With the abundance of sweet British strawberries at the moment now is most definitely the best time to make this healthy smoothie. I’ve added a little honey but you can leave it out if you want to. My blender can’t crush ice so I add ice cold water but if you have a really powerful blender then I’d suggest replacing the water with ice cubes instead.

Here’s my recipe for Strawberry and Banana Smoothies.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

250g strawberries
3 medium bananas
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
4 tablespoons ice cold water
1 tablespoon runny honey

Method

1. Hull the strawberries, then peel and chop the bananas into chunks. Place all the fruit into a blender.

2. Add the yoghurt, water and honey. Then blitz in the blender until smooth. Serve immediately.

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

If you enjoy this smoothie I have some more smoothies you might like to check out too.

Berrylicious Smoothie

Berrylicious Smoothie

Banana Cinnamon Smoothie

Banana cinnamon smoothie

Do you have a favourite smoothie? I find it hard to pick a favourite, if you have one I’d love to hear about it.

Until next time.

Julie
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Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

These Chocolate and Ginger Cookies are seriously good, I kid you not. In fact, my husband has broken his healthy eating regime for these, he absolutely loves them. The cookies are soft, ever so slightly chewy filled with dark chocolate chips and crystallised stem ginger chunks. Bitter dark chocolate is always delicious in cookies but combined with the subtle heat from the stem ginger takes these cookies to the next level. I hope you love them too.

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

Here’s the recipe for Chocolate and Ginger Cookies.

Ingredients (Makes 14)

175g unsalted butter (softened)
100g golden caster sugar
100g dark chocolate chips
100g crystallised stem ginger (chopped into small chunks) *
50g whole rolled oats
225g plain flour

*I used Neal’s Yard crystallised ginger sold in Holland & Barratt, I chopped the ginger into small chunks the same size as the chocolate chips.

Method

1. Cream together the butter and sugar together until thoroughly combined.

2. Mix in the chocolate chips, chopped ginger and oats.

3. Add the flour and mix until the mixture becomes a dough.

4. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.

5. Divide the cookie dough into 14 pieces, roll each piece into a ball. Then, place the balls of cookie dough on the lined baking sheet and flatten until about 1cm thick. Smooth the edges of the cookies with your hands if they are cracked.

6. Place both the baking sheets in the fridge to allow the uncooked cookies to firm up, chill for at least 1 hour.

7. Pre heat the oven to Fan 160c.

8. Oven bake the cookies for about 20 to 25 minutes, the cookies will be pale gold when cooked. I recommend you take a look at the cookies after 20 minutes and if you think they need longer pop them back in the oven. Don’t over bake as they will lose their soft texture. I baked mine for 23 minutes.

9. Once cooked remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

Chocolate and Ginger Cookies

With all this talk of baking cookies has got me thinking about the next series of the Great British Bake Off which starts on 6th August. Yay! I can’t wait to see what technical challenges Mary and Paul have for the new bakers, I bet it’s going to be brilliant.

Happy baking.

Julie
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I’ve entered this recipe into #CookBlogShare at Supergolden Bakes.

 photo 9af5d0df-b279-4c3c-92ad-fc98f562a39a_zpsaca21226.jpg

Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts

Tomato and mozzarella tart

While we enjoy the summer heat thoughts often turn to outdoor eating, if barbecue food is not your thing then try these Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts that scream summer. Using the classic flavour combo of tomato and mozzarella, these delicious individual puff pastry tarts should appeal to most people. I think they are brilliant for a tasty weekend lunch or a light dinner. Being quick and simple to prepare makes them a superb recipe to add to your cooking repertoire. As you’ve probably guessed I’ve used shop bought ready rolled puff pastry. I love how easy it is to use and for me time is often short, I think it’s a great shortcut product.

Tomato and mozzarella tart

Here’s the recipe for Tomato and Mozzarella Tarts.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

320g puff pastry (ready rolled)
220g mozzarella pearls
12 pomodorino tomatoes
8 teaspoons sun dried tomato paste
salt and pepper

Method

1. Unroll the pastry 10 minutes before you want to use it and pre heat the oven to Fan 200c.

2. Cut the pastry into 4 rectangles, measuring approximately 17.5cm x 12cm in size and place on a greased baking sheet.

3. Using a sharp knife score a border 1.5cm inside each pastry rectangle to create the tart edge. Using a fork prick holes on the pastry base. This will stop the inside of the tart rising.

4. Spread 2 teaspoons of tomato paste on each tart base.

5. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthways, then top each tart with 6 tomato halves and 4 mozzarella pearls.

6. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and crisp.

Tomato and mozzarella tart

I served the tomato and mozzarella tarts with a rocket and spinach salad dressed with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, finished off with grated parmesan cheese. The salad is a must, do try it too.

I hope you enjoy.

Until next time.

Julie
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