• I'm Moving to Wordpress

    Home screenshot
    Dear Readers, after 9 + years here at I have decided to move my blog to Wordpress.

    I'm doing this first and foremost because the appearance of my blog on this platform lookes dated.   Jammed full of info and useful stuff but just like my kitchen cupboards in need of reorganising.

    I hope that many of the followers (50,759) of this blog via networked blog will migrate with me to my new home.
    To make that bit a little easier here is a link to me on networked blog so you can follow the new blog.

    My new address on Wordpress is Chef Kevin Ashton and as soon as you go to my new home page you will understand why I reluctantly concluded I had to make the move.  Moving any established blog is always a gamble, people rarely like change but I really hope you will come with me.    As you can see from the screen shot the home page gives you easy access to my latest posts, making it very easy to scroll and navigate. Each photo gives you quick access by clicking to that post or recipe. Below is a sample recipe how it looks.

    All the pictures are linked to my new blog so you can see for yourself how the new Home page looks, or each of these sample recipes.
    For anyone that has followed me for a while will recognise these posts as ones I have publish here, but they will also be some new ones mixed in such as an Asparagus soup recipe I'm hoping to have time to make and photograph in the next couple of days (a big thank you to the good people of the British Asparagus Festival).
    Sample recipe

    Sample recipe 2Sample Travelogue

    Sample recipe 3
    I would also really, really appreciate some comments to give me feedback on the new layout and how you find it.

    I have even tried writing to a few sample followers via facebook to help get the word out.  Life is strange and full things you don't expect, like the day I lost my restaurant I had people banging on the door wanting to make reservations, apparently they had heard the food was good but never got around to booking a table.

    As always please stay in touch and ask me any questions you have and I will try to help.
    Best Wishes Kevin

  • Tip of The Week-Ultimate Roast Potatoes

    Roast Pots 1copyright
    Sometimes the ultimate version of something needs time say 35 years?,
    method, practice and perhaps a stroke of luck.

    A roast potato should be cooked with the meat it is intended to be served with, quite simple.  That way it can take on that balance of crispy outside, fluffy in the middle and have that meaty glaze that makes a good roast potato so delicious they can be remembered long after the meal.

    I hesitate to be exact in the quantity, because some potato dishes such as Roast potatoes usually require more. I would suggest 3-4 pieces per person as a loose guide. Shape Recently I began experimenting in cutting my roast potatoes into thick wedges with or without the skin because the more surface you have touching the pan the more flavour they can take on from your roasting meat.

    Once you have your potatoes cut wash them well in cold water to remove excess starch.

    Carefully place the potatoes into boiling water and allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes then cool down quickly with cold running water. Then drain well and dry on paper towel and toss them in a little olive oil to coat them and season with sea salt and black pepper.

    Cooking Roast Potatoes
    Roast potatoes need to be cooked at a temperature of 190-200 C otherwise they will steam instead of roast. Generally speaking they should take about 40 minutes to cook and be crisp and brown. So... about 40 minutes before you meat will be cook transfer your meat into another tray so that your potatoes can cook in the meat sediment and thus take on the meaty taste you crave. You may need to add a splash more oil depending on how much fat is in the pan. Equally, don't let your potatoes cook in anymore than 1/4 inch (5mm) of fat or they will not crisp up. Turn them over once or twice to help them brown easily.  Of course if your roast is very small you can cook the potatoes in the same roasting pan and start them as soon as there is only 40minutes left.  If your meat takes even less then rest the meat whilst the potatoes finish cooking.

    Ultimate flavour!

    20 minutes into the cooking add 3 whole but slightly squashed cloves of garlic to the potatoes. Then just before serving toss in some flat parsley or basil plus a little fresh thyme (finely chopped ) and 1 clove of black garlic per serving (finely chopped) .  Don't forget to sample the roasties before serving to check they're good enough for your guests.

    Chef's Notes:
    My apologies to all of my vegetarian friends but there is just no way to achieve this without meat fat and juices. Often it is very hard and nigh on impossible to achieve the same results when you are catering for a large function. So if you're in charge of ordering the food for your daughter's wedding or the office Christmas Party...I'd avoid roast potatoes unless your wedding party is a small one.

  • Black Garlic and Goat's Cheese Tart

    Black Garlic and Goat's Cheese Tart copy

    Black Garlic and Goat's Cheese Tart © Kevin Ashton 2015

    Moving into Spring gets people thinking and planning dinner parties again, so I often get asked for easy yet tasty ideas that have more than one purpose. In this case these delicious tarts can be starter or a vegetarian main course.

    For those of you not yet familiar with black garlic it's a type of caramelised garlic first used as a food ingredient in Asian Cuisine. It is made by heating whole bulbs of garlic, using a very low heat over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic vinegar.

    INGREDIENTS (makes 6)
    18 Cherry tomatoes
    454g (1lb) Red onions, finely sliced
    150g (60g) Goats cheese
    25g (1oz) butter
    Six large sage leaves finely chopped
    1 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
    18 Black Garlic cloves
    1Tbsp balsamic vinegar
    2 Cloves garlic (very finely chopped)
    1 Dessert spoon clear honey
    150g (6oz) Plain flour
    75g (3oz) Unsalted butter
    25g (1oz) finely grated Parmesan cheese
    1 Tbsp water

    1.Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and rub with the olive oil.
    2. Season, lightly roast them in the bottom @f the oven at 140 C
    (gas mark 1) until very tender and very slightly caramelized and allow to cool.
    3. Make the pastry by rubbing together the butter and the flour,
    4. Add the Parmesan cheese and just enough ice water to bring-the pastry together.
    5. Let the pastry rest for 30 minutes before rolling out.
    6. In the-meantime melt 25g (1oz) butter, add the red onions and cook on a gentle heat adding the finely chopped normal garlic stirring from time to time.
    5. Once the red onions are very soft add 12 of the black garlic cloves (roughly chopped), 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, the chopped sage and cook on a very low heat until the balsamic has
    evaporated, then allow onions to cool season with sea salt and black pepper.
    6. Butter 6 x 4" mini flan cases (4"wide by 1" deep) one with removable bottoms are best.
    Roll out the rested pastry as thinly as you can and then blind bake* the pastry cases for 15 minutes at 180 C gas mark 4.
    7. Remove the parchment and rice and bake a further 5 minutes just until they begin to go brown.
    8. When the pastry cases are cool remove from their flan cases and divide the roasted tomatoes
    between the 6 tarts.
    9. Next fill the cases with the caramelised onions mix.
    10. Line a baking tray (that will fit into your grill) with parchment paper and then place on the 6 slices of goat's cheese. Use a pastry brush and brush a tiny bit of clear honey on each slice.

    Put the filled tarts into a warm oven 100 C gas mark 1/4
    Grill the slices of goat's cheese carefully under a hot just until they begin to melt.
    Top each warm tart with a slice of goat's cheese and decorate each tart with the remaining 6 cloves of black garlic.
    Serve with a crisp salad and finish with a splash of olive oil and reduced balsamic if you wish.
    CHEF'S Tips
    *Blind baking is when you line your pastry case with a parchment circle and then weigh it down with raw rice to stop the pastry rising as it cooks. The reason for the honey is to help brown the goats cheese faster. If you can't find black garlic in your supermarket you can buy it here at Balsajo. The site also has some other great black garlic recipes you can try. Please remember the sizes of the cloves vary so 12 mixed with the red onions and six more to top the finished tarts with is not as much as it seems, and soon like me you'll be experimenting with black garlic all over the place. 

  • Twice Cooked Belly of Pork with Kumquats

    twice cooked pork belly with kumquats
    This recipe is a sample from the cookbook The Yunnan Cookbook I have just reviewed and is reprinted here with kind permission from Blacksmith Books and the authours Annabel Jackson and Linda Chia.

    Twice Cooked Belly of Pork with Kumquats by Annabel Jackson and Linda Chia

    This dish works best with top quality organic pork. Browning locks in the juices and flavour of the pork.
    Prepare the dish at least 4 hours in advance-or even the night before.


    1 kg (2lb 4oz pork belly, cleaned (any whiskers removed)
    3 cloves of garlic,crushed
    2 slices ginger
    4 shallots chopped
    4 dried chillies
    2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns crushed
    6 fresh kumquats
    2Tbsp soya bean paste
    110ml dry white wine
    1 tsp black pepper
    sea salt 
    Vegetable oil for frying

    1. Heat some oil and fry the pork skin down, pressing down in order for the fat to render.
    This can take up to 15 minutes. Repeat to brown the four sides, which take about 20 minutes in total.
    Finally, turn down the heat and gently brown the bottom.
    2. Add garlic,ginger,shallots and chillies with a sprinkling of salt.  Cover and allow to sit for 1 hour (or cool down)
    and store in fridge overnight.
    3. Over a medium heat, add peppercorns, kumquats, soya bean paste, half the wine and honey to the pan.
    Bring to the boil. Place meat skin side down and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the rest of the wine to keep the sauce half way up the meat.
    4. Turn the meat over and simmer for a further 30 minutes.
    5. Remove the meat from the pan and allow to rest before carving.
    6. Remove the kumquats mash and reserve.
    7. Stain the sauce into a small saucepan and stir in a little of the kumquats.  The rest of the kumquats use to garnish the plates.

    Congratulations to Jenny Hartin for being the winner in our latest competition
    Her copy of The Yunnan Cookbook will be with her shortly.
    Also a big thank you to all the people who took part in the contest.
    Yunnan_Cookbookcontest 2
    Competition Details and rules
    1.)To enter the contest just read a post from my blog (any post).
    2.) Leave a comment (or question) in the comment section.
    3.) Sent me an email just to confirm you want to be entered into the contest to

    The competition with close on March 31st and the the winner will be notified by April 2nd via email.
    The cookbook will be mailed to you directly from the publishers Blacksmith Books.

    You make as many comments as you want but only one entry per person will put into the Draw.
    * Please note I delete all email addresses at the end of the contest because just like you I value my privacy.
    I wish you all good luck and thank you for your continued support.

    If you haven't read my review of The Yunnan Cookbook yet just click this link

  • The Yunnan Cookbook-Review

    I used to think that the food of China was broken into eight cuisines (kitchens), Sichuan and Cantonese being the best know. The eight cuisines represent the characteristic food of eight of China's 22 provinces. The food of the other 14 provinces (not to mention autonomous regions and municipalities) was not deemed sufficiently distinguished or desirable to be included in the official government list. But I suspect it's more about the remaining provinces having too many culinary influences and thus harder to distil into a short description.

    Yunnan province is a shining example of this conundrum, because it is home for 51 of the 56 ethnic minorities recognised in China. This diverse south-western province is bordered by Myanmar (Burma) to the west, Laos and Vietnam to the south and Tibet to the north.

    The customs and traditions of some of these minorities are under threat, as modernization and tourism creep in and the aim of The Yunnan Cookbook is to help preserve their culinary traditions and diversity.

    This collaborative cookbook by Annabel Jackson and Linda Chia, mixes recipes with insightful vignettes giving the reader a real flavour of the many ethnic minorities and styles of cooking that make up the province of Yunnan.

    As always when I review a cookbook I try at least two recipes to help make my review more practical and useful to potential buyers.
    And following this review I will the republish a recipe from the book with the kind permission of the publishers Blacksmith Books so you can "try before you buy"

    Despite the difficulty in defining it, Yunnan food is becoming more well known as dozens of chic Yunnan restaurants have sprung up throughout various Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Even many U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, now boast Yunnan restaurants.   Indeed there is even one called A.Wong in London close to the Victoria railway station.

    Even so the availability of ingredients usually comes after people discover the dishes at a restaurant or TV show and thus create a demand. Therefore you may need to be creative and look for substitutes when you can't find what the recipe calls for, at least in the short term.

    But if you're like me and like the journey almost as much as the destination then this book is well worth purchasing. Yes, the hunt for some ingredients may prove challenging, but just like a good "whodunnit" novel there is something about this book that keeps you turning the page.
    The great thing about cooking is there is always something new to learn, as was the case when I found out that this province actually produces several types of cheese or that there is a potato and rice dish. Or that a much prized mushroom of both Italian and French cuisine the Porcini or Cèpe as the French call it is also treasured and used in Yunnan dishes.
    Or finding out that Australians call butternut squash Butternut Pumpkin.

    The vibrant colours chosen for the outer sleeve continue inside the book reflecting the vibrant human story that is told. About the rags to riches story of the Naxi restaurant owner or the story that explains the dish called Toasted Duck. This isn't like other cookbooks, destined to sit with all the others, it deserves to be left on the coffee table to invite more people in.

    WIN a copy of The Yunnan Cookbook

    In my next post I will be holding a competition to win a free hard back copy of this great cookbook.  For more information and that promised sample recipe, watch this space!!

    The Yunnan Cookbook
    published by Blacksmith Books
    ISBN 9789881613974

  • Tip Of The Week--How to use garlic

    Garlic plattFacts

    One of the oldest medicinal plants, garlic has been used in many cultures as a healing plant for its antibiotic and antifungal properties and ability to ward off colds and flu.

    The compound allicin that gives garlic its strong taste and smell is thought to also give it its therapeutic power. Studies have suggested it can lower blood pressure, improves cardiovascular health and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. 

    Scientist Eric Block also discovered a compound in garlic called Ajoene, a natural blood thinner, which helps to prevent the formation of blood clots.  Plus, a recent study found that it was more effective at treating food poisoning than standard drugs.  Research has also shown that garlic compounds stimulate the formation of glutathione (an amino acid) that detoxifies foreign materials and is a potent antioxidant.

    How I Use Garlic

    It is very easy to burn garlic which will leave a bitter aftertaste in your food so how I use garlic depends on the dish.

    In stir fry's I will chop it finely before use because stir fry cookery requires you to move the food quickly around the wok making it less likely to burn.  If I'm making a stir fry dish for large numbers I will chop the garlic ahead of time, place in a small container like a ramekin and cover with a small amount of vegetable oil to stop it oxidising.

    In sauces, stews and bolognaise I put the clove(s) in whole and unpeeled and then remove when I have a sufficient garlic flavour (the garlic should be soft).  This is not something I was taught, rather it has come from cooking and learning for 40 years. 

    After fishing out the cooked and soft whole garlic cloves I sometimes squash them on my chopping board (if fully cooked the garlic is the consistency of a paste so it squashes easily) and then put the paste minus the skin back into the sauce or stew.  So throw away your fiddly garlic presses and get better results.

    Garlic Mash

    When I want garlic mashed potatoes I add a couple of whole unpeeled cloves to the pot when cooking and then fish them out before mashing.  Of course you can also squash the soft garlic (removing the skin) and mash into the potatoes if you wish.

    Roasted Garlic

    Roasting whole heads of garlic with a little olive oil salt and pepper can produce a wonderful spreadable form of garlic which milder in taste and slightly sweet.

    Black Garlic

    Black Garlic
    Photo used with permission of Adam Kapela
    Black garlic
    is made by slowly heating whole bulbs of garlic over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic vinegar.

    Black garlic originates from Asian and in Korea, black garlic was developed as a health product and it is still perceived as health supplementary food. Black Garlic is prized as a food rich in antioxidants and added to energy drinks, and in Thailand is claimed to increase the consumer's longevity.  It is also used to make black garlic chocolate.

    Added Benefits

    Lots of people find as they get older that garlic repeats on them or gives them indigestion and thus give up using garlic in their diet, or even use a garlic powder in its place.  

    My method of using garlic cloves whole greatly reduces this and thus makes it possible to continue using fresh garlic and thus enjoy all of the health benefits.

    Buying Garlic

    The quality of garlic in supermarkets has greatly improved but here are some tips.

    Look for dry garlic bulbs that are firm and unbroken.   Buy a sensible quantity....No point buying more than 3 heads of garlic at a time if you live on your own.

    Storing Garlic

    Store your garlic in a cupboard that is cool and dry (not the fridge).   Ideally in a ventilated jar, here is an example of what I am talking about.


    Garlic, cutting boards and knives

    Yes, fresh garlic will get into your cutting boards be they plastic or wooden so change your knife and board after chopping or squashing your garlic. Scrub your cutting boards before you put them into a dishwasher to remove the smell and taste.  But since garlic is indeed a natural antibiotic it certainly isn't bad for your cutting boards quite the opposite.


    Please don't use any powdered garlic, frozen garlic or a readymade garlic paste.
    Often these products have chemical additives to extend shelf life. 
    *Powdered garlic is often used when trying to research the truth behind the health claims.   I presume this is done because powdered garlic is easily measurable and always consistent, whereas fresh garlic's pungency can vary dependant on many factors.
    Garlic is tricky to use in lab testing because it is highly unstable-its chemistry changes depending on how it is used.

    However for cooking purposes you don't need to be a chef to know that fresh is better than dried and fresh doesn't have any hidden chemicals.


    Mindell, Earl R.PH; Ph. D; Food as Medicine. New York: Fireside, Simon & Schuster, 1994

    Internet references:

    The chemistry of garlic and onions by Eric Block



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  • Braised Beef with Porcini mushrooms

    Serving any kind of Beef joint these days is more of a luxury than a regular thing. People try to keep costs down by braising or slow roasting a cheaper cut of beef such as Brisket.  At the moment in 2015 if you shop around you can buy Brisket for £8.00 a kilo and a 1.5 kilo piece should serve 6 people for a £12.  

    1.5 kilo (2.5 lb Beef Brisket 
    225ml Beef Stock
    1 medium onion-chopped 
    2 roughly chopped carrots
    2 cloves garlic
    125ml (4floz) red wine
    2 dessertspoon Olive oil
    50 grams Butter
    25 grams plain flour
    1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    15grams (1/2oz) Dried porcini mushrooms
    2 large flat mushrooms sliced

    *You will need a 4 pint ovenproof casserole dish with lid.
    Preheat the oven 140 C gas mark 1 (275 F).

    1. Heat a large 28cm-30cm frying pan, add one dessertspoon of Olive oil and when the pan is very hot  brown the beef off on all sides.
    2. Remove the beef and place into the casserole dish then add the vegetables and garlic to the hot frying pan, cooking on a high heat and
        stirring occasionally.
    3. When the vegetables are brown add them to the casserole dish and deglaze the frying with the beef stock to ensure you get every last
        little bit of flavour left from browning the beef.
    4. Pour the hot stock over the beef and vegetables and add the red wine.
    5. Place the lid on the casserole dish and cook in the oven for 3 hours.
    6. Meanwhile soak the dried mushrooms in 75ml of boiling water.
    7. Using the same frying pan you browned the meat fry off the sliced flat mushrooms in 1 dessertspoon of olive oil and 25gram of butter
        until they are brown then reserve.
    8. Melt the remaining 25g butter in the frying pan and add the flour to make a roux, stirring to prevent it from burning.
    9. Turn the heat down and continue to stir and cook for a further 4-5 minutes then remove from the heat.
    10. When the beef is cooked removed from the stock a cover with foil to keep warm and rest.
    11. Place the  frying pan with the roux back on a moderate heat and gradually strain the beef stock a little at a time (to begin with)  
         whilst stirring briskly to avoid lumps.
    12. When the stock is full incorporated, turn the heat down and add the now soft porcini and the soaking liquor.
    13 . Add the flat mushrooms you reserved and the Dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper.
    14. Simmer until you have a nice sauce consistency and turn off the heat.

    To Serve
    Slice the Beef thinly and serve on warm plates with mashed potatoes and spinach.

    Chef's Tips
    Cooking the brisket on a lower temperature helps to makes the meat more tender and cuts down on shrinkage.
    Browning the beef beforehand not only gives a pleasing appearance but also seals in the juices.

    © 2002-- © 2015 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.
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  • 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.


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