• Easy Almond and Orange Cake

    Easy Almond and Orange Cake2
    f you are like me and you have marzipan left in your fridge from Christmas, don't throw it away turn it into a delicious easy to make cake.

    6 large free range eggs
    100g castor sugar
    250 grams unsalted butter diced
    250 grams Natural marzipan diced
    50g ground almonds
    1/2 teaspoon Almond essence
    150 grams sifted self-raising flour
    Zest of 1 large or 2 medium oranges
    Icing sugar for dusking
    125g Fresh raspberries
    250ml creme fraiche (optional)
    1/2 vanilla pod (optional)
    I used a silcone flexipan daisy shaped pan aproximately 210mm diameter and about 55mm deep.
    I had this pan for a while but only just started using it.  For plain unfrosted cakes I like the sharp
    attractive pattern and it's so easy to turn out.
    If you don't have one don't worry you can use a bunt shaped pan or a 9inch springform pan will also do.


    1.) Place your diced marzipan and buter and chop in your food processor for 5 minutes until well mixed and soft.
    2.) Preheat your fan assisted oven to 170 C gas mark 3 or 325F.
    3.) Add the almond essence, castor sugar and orange zest then continue to mix on a high speed until the mixture has                turned pale.
    4.) Transfer the mix to your food mixer and then add the ground almonds and beat in one egg at a time, allowing each
         egg to be thoroughly mixed in before adding the next.
    5.) Gently fold in the sifted flour with a rubber spatula so as to keep the mix light.
    6.) Butter and then flour your flexipan or cake tin, making sure you shake off any excess flour.
    7.) Pour your mix gently into your cake pan/tin and smooth the top to make it even.
    8.) Bake your cake in the middle of your oven for 40 minutes then when golden brown check with a long tooth pick.
         When the pick comes out clean it is done.
    9.) Allow the cake to begin cooling down still in the cake pan (on a wire rack if you have one).
    10) Use a sharp knife to remove the skin from the orange and cut into segments and save for the decoration.
    11) Now gently turn out your cake onto a large 12-13inch plate and lightly dust with icing sugar through a fine strainer.
    12) Make a circle on the top of the cake with the raspberries, the then gently fill the centre with the orange segments.

    Optional Creme Fraiche
    Scrap the vanilla seeds from your 1/2 vanilla pod and stir into the creme fraiche.
    Offer this on the side yo your guests.
    Serving when it is still slightly warm is best
    If you do have the Daisy flexipan it makes portioning very easily because the pattern has 16 "petals" so if you give
    2 petals per person you get eight decent sized portions out of the cake.

    As always please feel free to ask questions and leave comments.

    © 2002-- © 2015 Kevin Ashton All rights reserved

  • Andrew James-A Year in the mixer

    Andrew James-A Year in the mixer

    I've been test driving Andrew James' Large 7 Litre Automatic Food Stand Mixer for well over a year.
    My first impression was wow, a lot of mixer for £130, but during the year I have been using my mixer the price has now dropped to just £99!! That is a lot of mixer for that kind of money.

    Andrew James have continued to shake up the small kitchen appliance market offering very good quality and a very good price.

    As food mixers go 7 litres is the biggest capacity a domestic kitchen is ever likely to need unless you are thinking of starting your own catering company.  But to give some idea of what other 7litre mixers would cost a consumer to buy check this out Pantheon TM7 7 Litre Tabletop for £456.  Or perhaps this Kenwood KM631 with a slightly smaller bowl capacity of 6.7 litres for the current sale price of £219.       Don't just take my word go and look at what other users say on Amazon and other sites.


    TIP OF THE WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Right now on top the very good price of £99.99 for this 7litre mixer, Andrew James is offering for a limited time an extra 20% discount taking the price to £79.99

    I've broken my review down into seven criteria for easy reading:
    Value for money, design, build quality, wattage, noise level, keeping clean and warranty.

    Value for money: Nowhere on the internet  will you find more mixer for your money. 10 out of 10

    Design: Thoughtfully designed to be very functional and yet add a touch of class to any kitchen counter.   My one very minor complaint is perhaps unavoidable given its 7 litre capacity.  This is to do with the height of the machine and being able to lift the mixing head.  The  countertop in my apartment has a standard clearance of 43cm from counter to the underside of the wall mounted units.  So I have to pull the mixer out from under the wall cabinets before I can release the mixer head and access the bowl.  Now there are two other spots in my kitchen where clearance isn't a problem so I just rearranged my kitchen and the problem was solved.       9 out of 10

    Build Quality:  At its original price of £130 it felt like you were getting very high build quality so at the current even lower  price you must take a serious look at this mixer.  A solid 304 grade stainless steel bowl. Unlike many wire whisks that aren't sturdy enough to really do the job, this one is similar quality to the whisks you get with a Kitchen Aid.  The dough hook and beater blade are the sturdiest I have seen on a domestic  model at any price.   10 out of 10

    Wattage:  At 1000 watts of power you are getting plenty of power to do the job. Indeed many more expensive mixers have 900 watts or less.          10 out of 10

    Noise Level: Before I started using this mixer I had heard a few grumblings about the noise level.

    So I took my Andrew James  7 litre mixer to a friend of mine's kitchen to compare with his Pantheon TM7  7 Litre Tabletop mixer .  My Andrew James was slightly noisier but there was not much in it. But the Pantheon mixer costs around £420-£450 compared to £79.00         9 out of 10                                                                                              

    Keeping Clean: Again this is another thumbs up for the design team that have made this mixer easy to clean, and keep clean.        
    10 out of 10

    Warranty: Andrew James mixers all come with a 2 year guarantee compared to one year offered by other mixers. 10 out of 10


    Overall Rating  94.33% out of 100%

    In Conclusion:   

    If you are looking for the biggest, sturdiest mixer for a low price the Andrew James 7 litre model has be your choice.  Having had my mixer for more than a year to make bread dough, cake mix, pastry, soufflé, ice cream, batters, mousses and more...... I feel very confident to speak in glowing terms about this machine.  It is a very stable (which you need in a big mixer), it comes with a cast aluminium dough hook, a sturdy flexible beater blade and a solid stainless steel whisk and a splash guard that is designed to be practical.

    Unlike other reviewers who only get the equipment for a few weeks, I have put this mixer through its paces for more 16 months and I'm still impressed.

  • French Lemon Tart © Kevin Ashton 2003

       Lemon Tart

    Today I put this photo onto my instagram account (November 22nd,2014),
    I realised that I had never posted on my blog.
    Published first in the Sunday Mercury November 9th, 2003 and can be found on the internet if you type in Kevin Ashton Lemon Tart.
    This is because all newspapers sell old copy to several archival services on the web.

    French Lemon Tarte (serves 8-10) © Kevin Ashton 2003

    When I used to live in Bermuda I was lucky enough to be able to pad barefooted to the bottom of the garden overlooking the ocean and pick oranges, lemons & grapefruits for breakfast. The strong citrus fragrance hung in the air despite the gentle sea breeze. That kind of fresh zesty-ness is what I seek to create when making lemon tart.

    Pastry: yield = 1 x 10 inch flan

    1lb Plain Flour

    8 oz Butter

    4 oz Icing sugar

    finely diced zest of 2 lemons

    1 large egg beaten


    1.) Rub butter with flour then add icing sugar & lemon zest, until you achieve a sandy texture.

    2.) Fold in beaten egg and lightly bring pastry together, let the pastry rest in a cool place for 30 minutes before using.

    3.) Roll pastry evenly but as thin as possible. Don't trim edges.

    4.) Make a paper circle from baking parchment paper (slightly bigger than the flan dish/quiche dish)

    5.) Place circle onto pastry then weigh the paper down with 4 oz (120 grams) uncooked rice,

    this is called "blind baking”.

    6.) Blind bake the pastry for 15 minutes at gas mark 7 (200 C in a fan assisted oven) until a light straw colour is achieved.

    7.) Remove paper circle & rice carefully not to spill rice onto pastry then put pastry back

    into the oven for a further 5 minutes but turn the oven down to gas mark 4 (170 C in a fan assisted oven).

    Lemon custard:

    4 whole large eggs

    5 oz double cream (lightly whipped)

    zest & juice of 3 lemons

    5 oz castor sugar


    1.) Whisk eggs, sugar & lemon zest (not juice) until very pale in colour.

    2.) Gently stir in lemon juice ,then fold in the whipped cream lightly.

    3.) Pour the custard mix carefully into the pastry case then bake in a low oven for at least 45 min

    at gas mark 4 until it is set and lightly browned. * Place the lemon tart on the lowest shelf so it

    does not brown too fast.

    4.) When set & lightly brown remove from oven and lightly dust with icing sugar, standing dish on

    a wire rack if you have one.

    5.) Serve with creme Fraiche & fresh raspberries.

    Chef's Tips

    Letting the pastry rest before rolling it out to prevents it from shrinking.

    Try rolling the pastry between two sheets of cling film so you can roll it thinner

     (you may have to overlap several pieces of cling film to make it large enough to do this).

    For best results use a ceramic flan dish if possible.

  • Join Me on Instagram

    Instagram link
    I thought it was about time I made my recipes more visible on smart phones and mobile devices. So, with my girlfriend Sophie's help I joined Instagram.

    I'm still learning the in's and out's of Instagram so helpful comments would be appreciated.   So far I have posted 155 or so photos, a mixture of photos of my recipes, famous people I have met, cooked for or with plus photos I taken on press trips.    I have also posted a few newspaper articles either written about me or by me.
    You must go and see the official photos from the Pastry World Cup (like this one by the Japanese team at the 2013 final in Lyon).

    I'm not sure whether I should keep Instagram purely to promote my blog or put more personal photos up as well?     If you would like to follow me on Instagram here is the link.

  • Yellow Plum and Vanilla Jam

    photo by kind permission ©Alison Brierley

    Jam is easier to make than most people think and definately a thrifty thing to do if your sister has a garden full of fruit trees.

    English yellow plums are also know as Pershore plum or egg plums, can sometimes be a little pappy if you choose to eat them as a fruit but they make a truly wonderful jam.  The Harvest time can vary depending on location and weather patterns but usually runs from mid August until mid September.   When British yellow plums are out of season you can still find them in your supermarkets from warmer climates like Italy.

    Jam Notes:

    If you've ever tried to make jam and failed there are usually 3 main reasons:

    The number  one thing you need for successful  jam making is an accurate thermometer.

    Forget Grandma's set in a saucer method because it is too hit and miss,

    Accurate temperature is the number one way to increase your chances of a jam that sets.

    That does not necessarily mean an expensive one in fact I prefer the "pen" type that you can clip to your pocket just like a pen.  The thermometer in this photo I have had for years.


    If you live in the UK you can buy one here just for £4.80 + P&P

    Or perhaps this one that has a useful clip on it so you can clip it to the side of your saucepan.

    The second most important thing is sugar content, too little and it doesn't set, too much and it's too sweet.  When I was putting together this recipe I originally tried using 2kilo of sugar for 1.5kilo of fruit and it set fantastically but was just too sweet.  So my second attempt I cut the sugar in half down to the 1 kilo of sugar you see in my finished recipe.  But my point is when you are trying a new recipe stick to it exactly!!  before you start tinkering.

    The third reason a jam can fail is low pectin content and to make it more complicated, different fruits have different levels of pectin.   If you're lucky enough to have fruit trees in your garden you can presume that when the fruit is at its peak then the pectin level is at its highest.    You can add extra pectin by using fresh squeezed lemon juice and skin*.

    Yellow Plum and Vanilla Jam © Kevin Ashton 2014

    1.5 kilos of yellow plum (destoned)

    1 kilo of granulated sugar

    1 lemon *(peel and juice)

    28grams of unsalted butter

    1 l vanilla pod

    100ml cold water


    1. Wash and dry your plums and then cut them in half and remove the  stone.  The easiest way I find to do this is to cut down from the top of the plum either side of the stone to give yourself 2 halves (as I have done in photo A).  Then cut as much of the flesh off the stone (see photo B) so you don't waste any.

    plums A + B 

    2. Use a sharp peeler and peel the skin from the lemon without any white pith, try to keep the lemon peel in big pieces. Reserve the peel and squeeze the juice and reserve that to.

    3. Place the plum flesh (remember my recipe calls for 1.5lkilo destoned weight) into a heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan together with the cold water.    Cover with a lid and heat  the fruit with a medium heat.  Remove the lid and stir the fruit every couple minutes to make sure it isn't sticking to the pan.  Cook until the fruit is just tender and remove the lid and then add the sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel.  Stir well until the sugar has completely dissolved.

    4. Cut the vanilla pod lengthwise, scrap out the vanilla seeds and add to the jam, stirring them in well.   Now add the unsalted butter and again stir in (the butter adds richness and also lessens the amount of foaming the jam produces.  For the more experienced cooks you can also skim off any scum that floats to the top.  The trick is to throw away the scum without throwing away half the jam.   Removing the scum will help give you a clearer and shinier finished jam.

    5. Continue monitoring the jam stirring occasionally until the jam reaches setting point 220F / 104C for at least 3 minutes. Once ready remove from the heat and remove the lemon peel, carefully pour the jam into clean, warm sterilised jam jars. If you see any air bubbles remove them. Seal and label the jars while they are still warm. Allow them to cool completely then store.

    Chef's tips:

    The empty vanilla pods can be chopped up and stored in caster sugar which over time infuses the sugar with vanilla flavour.
    Before you start your jam, make sure all of your jars are still airtight, then wash them and set to dry.   
    An easy way to sterilise your jam jars is wash them in your dishwasher, so they come out sterilised, hot and dry and ready to use.

    © 2002-- © 2014 Kevin Ashton All rights reserved. No content of his website including, but not limited to, text and photography may not be reproduced without prior explicit written consent.

  • Tip Of the Week-Piccolo Parsnips

    Tip Of the Week-Piccolo Parsnips

    In the last couple of years they have begun to appear in the produce section of your supermarkets.
    Piccolo parsnips are a baby version of one of Britain's favourite vegetables and I want to share with my readers a few different ideas of how to use them. Don't just think of using them for your Sunday roast, they are great in salads, starters and even breads.  These baby versions will still need blanching (in boiling salted water) if you intend to cook them, but for salads and coleslaws just treat them as you would raw carrots.

    Winter parnsip and root vegetable slaw with festive ham (5)ParsnipsLogo
    Winter Piccolo Parsnip and Root Vegetable Slaw with Apple

    ½ small red cabbage
    ½ small Savoy cabbage
    1 Pink Lady apple, cored and cut into quarters
    2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
    4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
    150g Piccolo parsnips, washed, trimmed and cut into julienne strips
    Sea salt and black pepper

    Parsnip Coleslaw:

    Shred the cabbage on a mandolin or chop finely with a knife. Slice the apple very finely and mix together with the parsley, cabbage, spring onion and Piccolo parsnips. Season with sea salt and black pepper and add the dressing to the coleslaw, mix well.

    Mustard Dressing:

    1 tbsp grain mustard
    1 tbsp Dijon mustard
    2 tbsp honey
    1 tbsp lemon juice
    1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
    1 tbsp red wine vinegar
    4 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
    Sea salt and black pepper

    Mix all of the dressing ingredients together.

    Chef's Tip: I sometimes add yoghurt or crème fraiche to this to make a creamy version ? delicious. You can also use chopped walnuts or toasted pine nuts as well if you wish.

    Serve with Festive Ham (recipe below)

    Festive Ham

    1 un-smoked boneless gammon, weighing about 5kg cooked
    1/2 tbsp each coriander and fennel seeds
    30 cloves, approximately
    1 small star anise
    3 juniper berries
    300g Demerara sugar
    250g pot Dijon mustard
    Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7


    Toast the spices apart from the cloves in a dry frying pan until they release their fragrance. Grind in a pestle and mortar, then tip into a food processer with the sugar and blitz everything to make a spice mix.

    Score the fat of the ham in a criss-cross and brush with the spice mix and push a clove into each square of fat. Roast for 30-35 minute until the glaze has completely caramelized and becomes sticky. Allow the ham to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving

    Chef's Tip: To boil the ham, cover the ham in cold water in a large pan and add 1 onion peeled and cut in half, 8 peppercorns 1 tbsp cider vinegar and 1 tbsp brown soft sugar.   Bring to the boil and skim any deposits off the water and simmer very gently until cooked, 25-30 minutes per 500g of ham or gammon.

    For this next recipe think of cool autumn lunches where you need something more substantial than a sandwich.  Here the combination of poached egg, smoky taste of Haddock with a creamy sauce to bring all the flavours together.

     Smoked Haddock & Piccolo Parsnip Hash (3)

     Smoked Haddock and Piccolo Parsnip Hash, Poached Eggs and Cream sauce 

    1 pint of milk
    1 onion, peeled and halved
    1 fresh bay leaf
    400g naturally smoked haddock fillet*
    A sprig of thyme
    2 large potatoes peeled, cut into chunks
    1 tbsp rapeseed oil 
    50g butter
    150g Piccolo parsnips, washed, trimmed and blanched
    1 leek, trimmed, cut in small rings
    100g bacon lardons
    2 tbsp chopped parsley
    Sea salt and black pepper 
    4 large very fresh eggs
    Cream sauce:
    290ml cream

    1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
    Juice of ½ lemon
    zest of 1 lemon
    Sea salt and black pepper

    For the cream sauce; heat the cream until boiling, then boil for 3 minutes to reduce.  Add the mustard, lemon juice and zest then sea salt and black pepper. The sauce will thicken. Season to taste and set aside.

    To cook the Piccolo Parsnip Hash; place the milk in a saucepan with the onion and bay leaf and bring to just below boiling point, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Return the pan back to the heat and add the smoked haddock fillet. Bring to a simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes. Remove the fish and set aside, strain the cooking liquid and reserve.

    Place the cooking milk back in a clean pan, add a sprig of thyme and add the potatoes and cook them until just tender, about 10 minutes drain well and discard the milk.

    Flake the fish, discarding any bones or skin and set aside.

    Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan and then add the bacon lardons and fry until slightly brown then add the potatoes and parsnips, and fry for a further 4-5 minutes or until they are cooked and slightly coloured.

    Turn down the heat and add the leeks cooking until they are soft.    Remove from the heat and stir in the flaked haddock and chopped parsley then season with sea salt and black pepper.

    Next, poach the eggs in simmering water, seasoned with salt pepper a 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar for every litre of water. Crack a very fresh egg into a coffee cup and stir the water and slide the egg in to the centre of the pan after 2-3 minutes of cooking. Lift the eggs out with a slotted spoon and lower them into iced water to stop the cooking process.

    To Serve:

    Divide the Smoked Haddock and Parsnip Hash between 4 warm pasta bowls.
    Reheat poached eggs by gently dropping them into the boiling poaching water for 30 seconds. 
    Drain with a slotted spoon a place an egg on each portion of hash and the drizzle over the warm cream sauce and serve.

    Chef's Tip:
    *When ever possible buy naturally smoked Haddock rather the bright yellow/orange stuff.

    For this final recipe, I wanted to show how truely versatile parsnips can be.

    Parsnip and Rosemary Bread (1)
    Piccolo Parsnip and Rosemary Bread
     (Serves 4-6)

    25g butter
    1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
    250g self-raising flour
    A good pinch of mustard powder
    1 tsp sea salt and black pepper
    175g Piccolo parsnips, washed and trimmed
    75g Parmesan or mature cheddar, finely grated
    1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
    2 large eggs, beaten
    1 tbsp milk
    Rosemary sprigs, to decorate the top
    A little rapeseed oil

    Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5
    Heat a small frying pan over a gentle heat, add the butter and sweat the onion in the butter until soft, but not coloured and leave to cool.

    Sift the flour, mustard powder and salt into a large bowl; grate the Piccolo parsnips, skin as well into the flour. Add 50g of the parmesan or cheddar cheese, along with chopped rosemary and onion. Season with a little black pepper. Now lightly beat the eggs and milk together, add a little at a time to the flour mixture, mixing with a palette knife until you have rough, loose sticky dough. Place the dough on a greased baking sheet and with floured hands shape it into a 15cm/6inch rough round, then make a cross with the back of the knife. Scatter with the extra 25g of cheese and sprinkle with a little flour. Dip some rosemary sprigs into a little rapeseed oil and place on top of the bread. Bake at the top of the oven for 40-45 minutes until golden and the bread sounds hollow when you tap it on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack. Serve it warm with lashings of butter.

    Chef's Tip: You can blitz the Piccolo parsnips to a fine chop in the food processor, it's quicker and easier) also with the piccolo you do not have to peel them, that's so good.

    A big thanks to the good people of for the photos and for the samples they gave me to play with.

    Food Facts
    Two little known facts about parsnips are that that they taste really good raw and they make great ice cream!
    In Tudor times, in England, parsnips were a common ingredient in bread.   Indeed in Elizabethan times parsnips were often used to sweeten recipes because they were so much cheaper than using sugar.
    In Scotland parsnips are still known as White Carrots.
    In Roman times parsnips were believed to have been an aphrodisiac.  
    Parsnips can be made into wine or a parsnip fizz and Irish beer is often made from the roots of parsnips boiled in water and hops. Parsnips are commonly served fried, roasted, boiled or steamed and can be used as a thickener in certain types of soup.
    Parsnips are a root vegetable related to the carrot family.


  • Roasted Beetroot Salad with Walnuts and Dolcelatte © 2014

    Beetroot Salad 1

    This weekend I will be pulling up the rest of my beetroots from my raised beds and the pickling process will begin in earnest.
    The difference between home produced and store bought is like night and day.  That said I also want to pontificate for a moment about the wonderful taste sensation of freshly roasted beetroot. The complex sweet and earthy elements make this still undervalued vegetable good enough to feature in a first course. Add to that walnuts, a delicate Italian blue cheese Dolelatte, a good dressing and a tiny touch of fresh Rosemary and a star is born!

    Raw Beetroot 2 smallBeetroot ready for roastingsmall

    Roasted Beetroot Salad with Walnuts and Dolcelatte © 2014 serves 4

    700 g raw beetroot (minus the leaves)
    125g Dolcelatte
    1 bag of mix leaves that includes rocket (arugala)
    24 Good quality walnut halves

    Balsamic dressing*

    3tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
    1/4 teaspoon very finely chopped rosemary
    salt and pepper

    Chef's Notes: 
    Roasting beetroot retains so much more of the flavour than the traditional boiling in water, preserving the natural sweetness and earthy tones of this vegetable.
    * Normally vinaigrette recipes have a ratio of 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar, but for this dish the recipe needs more vinegar.


    1.) Preheat oven to 180 C gas mark 4 (with fan on)
    2.) Wash the trimmed beetroot and dry with paper towel.
    3.) Place each beetroot on a square of aluminium foil and then drizzle with olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.
    4.) Cook the beetroot for about 1hour until the beetroot feel firm soft, then allow them to cool down still wrapped.
    5.) When the beetroot is still warm you can easily rub the skins off (this is because the steam during the cool down has gotten under
         the skins).  If any of the skins resist then a quick rinse should expedite things, then  rewrap the skinned beetroot to retain some        
    6.) Wash and spin the salad leaves.
    7.) Combine the dressing ingredients in a small a small plastic container and shake well
    8.) Toss the walnut halves into a hot non-stick frying pan with a little of olive oil and season.

    To Serve
    Make a mound of salad leaves in the centre of each plate.
    Slice up the warm beetroot into about 6 wedges per plate.
    Arrange and then add the walnut halves and few small teaspoons of Dolcelatte.
    Finally, spoon a little of the dressing on each wedge of beetroot and serve.

    Tasting notes:
    The reason I chose Dolcelette (a sweet and mild blue cheese) was because I didn't want the cheese to overpower the dish.
    Remember that rosemary is a strong herb so less is more and it must be chopped very finely.

    A very special thanks to John Miles CEO of Steelite International for his very generous gift of plates.
    John and I met whilst judging a cooking contest in Spain a while back.
    Steelite is recognised throughout the world as a top creator of professional tableware.

  • Tip Of The Week-How to store mushrooms in your fridge

    Wrapped Mushrooms

    Most people buy a punnet of mushrooms from their local supermarket and put them straight in one of the crisper boxes at the bottom of their fridge/freezer. The problem with that is within a few days the mushrooms are wet and starting to go bad. This is because mushrooms attract a lot of moisture, particularly wild mushrooms such as oysters or shitake.

    So here is what you do......
    Before touching any food stuffs, wash your hands well using antibacterial soap making sure your hands are scrupulously clean and dry. Clean hands will increase the shelf life of all fresh foods.
    Remove the cellophane and check there are no wet mushrooms at the bottom of the punnet.

    mushrooms on counter 

    If there was any condensation underneath the cellophane then remove all the mushroom onto a clean dry surface, line the punnet with a sheet of paper towel and then gently put back the mushrooms. Now store them in the fridge but not in the crisper /salad box, instead place them on the shelf just above leaving them uncovered so they stay dry (see photo below).
    Stored Mushrooms
    After some days they will start to dehydrate and go wrinkly but that is fine, its just extending the shelflife. If you did place a sheet of papertowel in the punnet change it if it is wet.

    Wild Mushrooms
    Most wild mushrooms particularly Oyster and Enoki mushrooms absorb moisture quicker than ordinary button mushrooms so be sure to inspect them carefully before you buy.  When you get them home (if you are not intending to use them that day) remove the cellophane and after checking them out definitely line the punnet with paper towel and place the Oyster mushrooms fin side down on the towel and replace the towel if it gets wet.

    Oyster mushrooms Enoki mushrooms
    If your Enoki (straw) mushrooms are starting to get wet you can also trim off 2cm (1 inch) off the bottom (the root part that holds the mushrooms together) to seperate the mushrooms and put them on dry paper towel.

    Crisper boxes

    I usually use one box for the vegetables and the other for the salad, fruit and herbs so the light items are not being squashed by the heavy items. I usually line each crisper box with 2 sheets of paper towel to make sure the box stays dry.

    General Advice

    If you notice a lot of moisture in the bag when you buy vegetables then open the bag and dry them on paper towel before putting them into the crisper box.  For more fridge tips keep watching this space!

  • Tip Of The Week -Instant Boiling Water

    Image 3Image 1
    Instant Boiling Water

    Having a hot water boiler installed in your kitchen can speed up the process of getting dinner on the table. Busy families trying to catch a healthy dinner between school and evening activities can cook soups, pasta or other hot dishes quickly with the help of instant boiling waters. Hot drinks like tea and cocoa take just moments to make with convenient boiling water taps that can be installed on almost any sink. There are many other benefits to this convenient addition to the kitchen.

    A Time Saver
    The baby is crying loudly and you are willing the water in the pot to hurry and heat up the baby's bottle faster, but water on the stove will only heat so fast. You cannot use the microwave, because it will kill the important nutrients in the milk. You may need to look at instant water boilers for your kitchen, and choose the right one for your family. Instant boiling waters will get your hungry baby fed faster.

    Easy Maintenance
    Hot water boilers take up very little space, and can be installed in almost any kitchen. There is very little maintenance required to keep a water boiler in good working order. The tap can be kept clean by using a damp cloth to wipe away occasional residue that accumulates. The tanks can be easily emptied and cleaned twice a year depending on instructions in the owner's manual. The boiler will last for years making cooking easier, faster and more convenient for busy individuals and families.

    Less Equipment Required
    An instant hot water boiler is not just for a home kitchen. It will also work well in a bathroom, as well as in commercial break rooms where employees may gather for a quick cup of tea, coffee or even soup. Large, bulky kettles will no longer be needed once a water boiler is installed. A cup of tea or coffee can be prepared in seconds with the instant boiler, both at home and at work. People can spend more time enjoying their breaks and less time preparing their hot drinks. Kitchens and break rooms are also less crowded without the space taken up by large kettles.

    Energy Efficiency
    Both home and business owners are almost always looking for ways to be more energy efficient, and hot water boilers contribute to overall energy efficiency. Less power is used for making hot drinks, soups, pastas and other foods, because people do not have to use the stove or microwave to heat up the liquid or food. In addition, people only need to boil the exact amount of water they need for their snack or meal. There is no need to heat excess water that will have to be discarded. The water is heated only when needed; therefore no extra hot water has to be stored in a tank and kept heated for later use. Over time, energy usage is lowered and utility costs are less.

    People who have small kitchens like myself are constantly looking for ways to declutter their countertops, and free up some valuable space that is taken up with kettles and the like.  Or perhaps due a lack of space you can't fit a dishwasher in and thus forced to do the washing up by hand in the sink. Even though hot water is available from the water tank, the tank may not be big enough to hold enough hot water for all of your needs when the familiy is around. 
    Image 4 

    An instant hot water boiler is an even more attractive investment when you consider how easy it is to install. Whether installed in a home, office or industrial building, an instant hot water tap is a wonderful convenience that makes meal and snack preparation faster and easier for everyone.

  • Vanilla Pecan and Damson Ice Cream

    Vanilla Peacan Damson Ice Cream2Andrew James 3

    Vanilla Pecan and Damson Ice Cream © Kevin Ashton 2013

    Yes, I know my last recipe also had Pecan nuts in but circumstances conspired to make this so.
    First, I picked several kilo of Damsons from the trees in my sister's garden. Anyone who has damson trees knows
    that when the fruit is ripe you only have a few days to pick them at their best.

    Secondly, Andrew James asked me to review their 7 litre table top mixer, which I will write about in some detail in the coming weeks after putting the machine through it paces.

    Then the idea of combining a rich vanilla ice cream, pecan nuts which are in season and damsons
    into an ice cream just jumped out of my head. The idea was to start with a vanilla ice cream add pecan nuts when the custard
    was still warm to bring out the flavour of the nuts. When the ice cream is almost set then I will swirl the damson puree through it so as to taste all 3 components in the ice cream.

    *Recipe produces 2 x 1 litre of ice cream so you could halve the recipe if you wish.

    1.5 kilo damsons
    3 Tbsp Clear honey
    600 ml Double cream
    568 ml semi skimmed milk
    6 large egg yolks
    1 vanilla pod
    200 g caster sugar
    150g pecan halves

    1.) Wash and sort 1.5 kilos of the best damsons, put into a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan and 100ml cold water.
    2.) Cook with the lid on on a medium high heat until the skins of the damsons are broken, then remove the lid so the liquid
    evaporates some and continue to cook for another 8 minutes turning the heat down to a medium heat.
    3.) Remove from the heat and pass fruit through a sieve trying to keep as much of the fruit pulp as possible.
    Add the honey then set to one side to cool.
    4.) In a separate saucepan combine the milk,cream and the vanilla seeds+ pod. Heat liquid until almost boiling and allow the vanilla to infuse.
    5.) In the mixer cream the caster sugar and the egg yolks until light, fluffy and smooth.
    6.) On a slow speed mix the cream/milk mixture into the creamed eggs an mix thoroughly.
    7.) Pour the mix back into a clean heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan and cook (stiring constantly) until the custard coats the back of the spoon (see photo*).

    custard coated spoon

    8.) Pour the custard back into the mixing bowl,add the pecan nuts and allow to cool.
    9.) Pour the cooled custard into 2 clean 1 litre plastic containers and place in the freezer.
    10.) When the mix is semi set swirl in the chilled damson puree and return to the freezer.

    To Serve
    Chill overnight and serve with a selection of wafers.

    First Impressions of Andrews James 7 litre machine

    So far I am very impressed with the size and quality of the 7 litre mixer.
    I wish my Kitchen Aid at work was as large as this one.
    For around £130 if your in the market for a new table top mixer pay this serious attention and keep watching this space.


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