One month in…

…and over a thousand visitors later and I now know the effort of trying something so new for the first time in years has been worth it!

I didnt know how I was going to get on with this attempt at ‘food blog writing’ but with help from my family I can say I absolutely love it. I wouldnt say I have a natural flair for online story writing being a Software Engineer by day but I like to think I have put passion, fun and care in most of the posts! My sister being an online journalist has even commented she likes my writing style which is a bonus.

It has been very scary writing recipes at times and a huge learning curve for me as well, especially trying out new things and new techniques – gaining confidence with each one. I keep thinking back to where it all started, when I was 16 working as a kitchen-hand in a local 3* Hotel learning the ropes, as well as learning from my mum’s wonderful home cooking over the years, to where I am now, sharing mine and my family’s favourite recipes with the rest of the world.

The picture taking has been fun as well as stressful – trying to get the correct lighting to make it look good. I will have to study lots and lots of other pictures to make mine look better moving forward.

Working in the digital media arena in different jobs over the years, I have been able to use what I know about search engines, optimisation and directories, to make the most of publisising my blog! At the start, most of my visitors came from family and friends and from joining excellent associations like the UK Food Bloggers Association (UKFBA) but now most come from Google searches, which means others out there must enjoy the same things I like to write about!

Blog writing has had a lot of other bonuses too, especially with social networking, making new friends, being invitied to meet other bloggers and digital darlings as well as local food producers and getting to visit lots of other local excellent food haunts and restaurants, which my girlfriend really loves.

It seems like I have spent many hours sat infront of my laptop writing these posts but I can say it has been totally worth it and I would recommend it to anyone. I have rekindled my passion for cooking and now have a medium to share it with others.

Finally, I want to say thanks to my girlfriend and family for all their help and also to everyone that has visited “Anyone for Seconds?” and left comments and especially to all the other excellent food bloggers that have helped me along the way! I have so many more recipes, reviews and posts that I want to do (that I already have in Draft mode or that I have scribbled down all over the place), that I hope everyone enjoys reading them as much as I enjoy creating them, now and in the future!

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Chocolate Mousse (Gluten Free)

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I know it is a bit early for Chocolate Week but this has to be one of the easiest and most delicious desserts that exists. Everyone has heard of it for starters but this wonderful version came from my great-grandmother. As ever, I always ask my mum what the story behind each family favourite is and this is what she told me…

“My Grandma used to make this for my birthday in the 1950’s when chocolate was scarce. It was a once a year treat. I still make it when friends come for a meal as it is quite simple and can be made well in advance. Delia Smith calls it a recipe of the Sixties but it was being used well before then. It is very rich and needs to be served only in small quantities, either on its own, with raspberries or similar fruit and a small amount of cream.”

Ingredients:
7ozs (200g) Dark Chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
4 fluid ozs (120ml) Warm Water
3 Large Eggs, separated
1½ozs (40g) Caster Sugar (I use unrefined)

1 Break the chocolate into pieces into a large heat-proof bowl, add the warm water and set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water and allow the chocolate to melt slowly.

2 When it is melted remove from the heat and stir until smooth.

3 Let it cool for 3-4 minutes, giving it an occasional stir before adding the egg yolks and then giving it another good stir. Put to one side.

4 In a very clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks then whisk in the sugar a little at a time until the whites are stiff and glossy.

5 Fold a little of the egg white mixture into the chocolate, just to loosen it then carefully cut and fold in the rest of the egg whites. It needs gentle handling otherwise the mousse won’t be light.

6 Divide the mixture into your chosen dishes cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 2-3 hours or even overnight for the next day.

To serve it I use very old custard cups but ramekins, glasses or a large glass dish would be suitable.

NB It uses uncooked egg which may cause a risk to children, pregnant women and the elderly, but no-one in my family has ever suffered any reaction from eating this delicious pud.

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Chocolate Sponge (Gluten Free)

Having made a delicious gluten free Victoria Sponge, my partner, being the master baker in the house, decided to have a go at making a chocolate version, as a surprise for me on the first day of my new job.

The only change to the original recipe is the inclusion of 1 tbsp cocoa powder to the sponge mixture and 1/2 tbsp of cocoa powder to double the amount of buttercream, as this is spread over the top as well as being used as the filling.

All I can say is, that it tastes as great as it looks!

Shepherds Pie / Cottage Pie

This recipe comes from my Brother in Canada who sent me this to share with everyone, after he was sent it by our mum back in 2007. I think he enjoys making this to remind him of the delicious home cooked food we were brought up with.

Apparently there is a dish called ‘Pâté chinois’ in Canada already (Chinese pie) which is a French Canadian dish similar to that of Shepherds or Cottage Pie – however it seems to have an additional layer of canned corn in the middle between the meat and potato and is usually eaten with ketchup mixed in.

500g Potatoes sliced then cooked and mashed with olive oil and or butter or spread - salt & pepper
500g Extra-lean Minced Beef or Minced Lamb
1 Small Onion – finely chopped
1 dessert spoon Cornflour - you may need more to thicken you must decide.
Stock or water and Bovril or something similar
Ground Bay Leaves, Celery Salt or something or nothing, whatever you prefer
Salt & Pepper

Some people add a half can of chopped tomatoes, red wine, and garlic, but this then becomes a Bolognese sauce.

1 Put meat in a saucepan and cook until meat is browned and the fat runs. (Drain off some of the fat if there is a lot of it).

2 Add the onion and mix in. If using other ingredients add them – then and cook until all the juice is incorporated, over a medium heat.

3 Sprinkle over the cornflour – cook for 1 minute stirring it in.

4 Then add the stock to the thickness you want – cook for 1-2 minutes stirring all the time

5 Put into an ovenproof dish – spread over the prepared potatoes and if you want, a sprinkle of grated cheese.

6 Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes until potatoes have browned.

Enjoy!

Pics to follow…

Victoria Sponge (Gluten Free)

This is one of the simplest cakes to make whether being made with wheat flour or gluten free flour and definitely one of the finest to eat. Having had my partner make a Victoria Sponge using both kinds of flour in recent months, there is nothing to distinguish which was which from the finished product, as both come out light, fluffy and buttery. It is a very easy cake to dress up and perfect for any occasion as a treat or gift.

Victoria Sponge Ingredients:

8ozs Gluten Free Plain Flour
8ozs Caster Sugar
8ozs Cooking Butter/Margarine
4 Eggs
1-2 tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder

Buttercream Ingredients:

3ozs Butter or Cooking Margarine
6ozs Icing Sugar

Additional:

Pot of Sugar Free Jam

Equipment Required:

2 Greased 8 Inch Sandwich Tins
Sieve
Large Mixing Bowl
Electric Whisk

1 Weigh out ingredients separately.

2 Firstly cream the margarine and sugar until it looks a pale colour.

3 Then tip in the eggs and sifted flour and whisk the mixture until it is a dough like consistency.

4 Once you have done this, grease the cake tins with some margarine, line them with grease proof paper and spoon out the cake mixture into the 2 cake tins.

5 Smooth out the cake mix to cover the bottom of each tin.

6 Bake in an oven at 175C for 20 to 25 mins or until the cakes are firm but spring back when touched gently.

7 Empty the sponges out of the cake tins and leave the cakes to cool on a cake cooling rack or a floured greaseproof round plate if you don’t have one.

8 When the cakes are cool, spoon out the buttercream on the underside of one sponge, and then spoon out the jam on the underside of the other sponge.

9 To complete, sandwich the two halves together, and dust the top of the Victoria Sponge with icing sugar through a sieve.

Serve and enjoy!

Blackberry Vodka

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With over 2 pounds of blackberries still in my fridge and freezer from my foraging trips and from my mum’s garden, I didnt want them to go to waste – so with my last bottle of vodka free after making my Sloe Vodka, I decided to make Blackberry Vodka, as I thought it would appeal more to my sweet tooth! A quick look online and the recipes were identical to the recipes I had already blogged about for the Sloe Vodka and Blackberry Brandy. This was perfect, as I had a spare large plastic container and some caster sugar in the cupboard. Once mixed, it joined my other bottles fermenting in my dark cupboard, waiting for xmas to come out and be tasted… well drunk and enjoyed with friends and family!

12ozs Blackberries
6ozs Caster sugar
75cl Vodka

1 Mix the blackberries with the sugar and then add them to a large storage bottle or container with the vodka.

3 Store the bottle in a cool dark cupboard and shake it every other day for a week. Then shake it once a week for two months.

4 The blackberry vodka will take on a beautiful dark red colour and will be ready to drink.

5 After two to three months, pour the mixture into bottles through a funnel lined with fine mesh or cheesecloth and store in a cool place again.

Enjoy!

If you make this recipe, please come back and let me know!

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Blackberry on Foodista

Carluccio’s, Covent Garden, London

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Having spent the morning on the underground going from shopping area to shopping area across London, we decided to get off at Charing Cross and walk from Trafalgar Square to Covent Garden, to have a look at the smaller shops, galleries and restaurants along the way. The last time we did this, we ate at the Med Kitchen near the Coliseum which was very nice. After we left on that occasion to get to Covent Garden, we walked along Garrick Street WC2 and stumbled across Antonio Carluccio’s self named restaurant. Looking at the menu by the door, we noticed the prices we so similar to what we had just paid and of course it wasn’t a part of a restaurant chain – so we promised ourselves we would come back next time we came to London.

We were welcomed in and taken upstairs to a lovely bright airy room which wasn’t over-bearing and as my girlfriend said was ‘just enough and not over the top’! We dont often eat out in what we class as a ‘top nosh’ restaurant, so this was going to be a treat we hoped.

The waiting staff were very attentive and after asking for a wine recommendation, the waiter chose one of his personal favourites after asking what I kinds of wine I enjoy. So while going through the menu, a large glass of Salice Salentino Reserva, Candido 2005 from Puglia arrived for me and a Peach Belini for my girlfriend.

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We both ordered and not too long a period after, our starters arrived. Between us we had a plate of Bresaola (Thinly sliced cured beef with rocket, parmesan & lemon) and a Bruschetta of fresh tomatoes with basil, oregano, yellow peppers and olive oil on a toasted Toscano bread rubbed with garlic. Both were superb and just enough to get us ready for the next course.

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For our mains we both chose the same dish being big seafood fans and so chose the Linguine Al Frutti Di Mare – Linguine pasta with squid rings, mussels and prawns with garlic , herbs and chilli. It was simply mouth-watering and perfect for a lunchtime treat on our day out. I am always worried when choosing something with squid in but I didnt have to worry as it was cooked to perfection and was very soft. The wine was a perfect choice as an accompaniment too.

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After enjoying our two courses, we didnt have room for a dessert, so asked for the bill and again was very pleasantly suprised with it being under £40. We left a nice tip, said our goodbyes and thanks to the staff and went back downstairs to the shop to have a look at the goodies on offer. It was a perfect lunchtime treat on a very warm ‘end of summer’ day and a restaurant I would recommend to friends and family who want to something slightly different from the norm of eating out in London!

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Goose Slade Farm Shop

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Are you looking for fresh local country produce in the South Somerset area?

If so, we highly recommend a visit to Goose Slade Farm Shop, near Yeovil, which has been open to the public for several years and stocks many local products, including their own organic geese.

Products on ofer are local breads, wines, beers and ciders, meats, cheeses, fruits and veg and gluten free products, as well as local luxury items.

Whenever we come home, we always make a trip out to the Farm to stock up on our weekly shopping.

You can always expect a cheery welcome and chat from Philip and family, and they are always keen to tell us about their latest ranges and produce.

Enjoy the visit and a cream tea at the same time!

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Spicy Green Tomato Chutney

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Now, having nearly given up with my small tomato plant ever ending up bearing me red fruit before the first frosts of the year (which will be upon us soon), I decided to pick about half of the large green tomatoes (1lb worth) to make a recipe that was suggested to me on the UK Food Bloggers site – Green Tomato Chutney.

I found so many that were so overly complicated and some that required soaking things in vinegar for days at a time. Being too impatient, I wanted to find a recipe that would allow me to prepare it all from my cupboard in next to no time and allow me to get cooking straight away!

The following recipe was perfect – it didnt require the finesse of a Michelin Starred Chef to make and the addition of the spices sounded great.

An hour later after starting to cook and I was already trying some on a cracker with some cheese while it was cooling and it tasted great.

I’m glad I didnt let my tomatoes go to ruin and now know I can make this excellent chutney any year again when we dont have a sunny summer!!

See also: Green & Red Tomato Chutney

1 lb Green Tomatoes
1 lb Red Onions
1/2 lb Sultanas
1/2 lb Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Salt
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Ground Green Cardamom
500ml Malt Vinegar

1 Chop everything up – there is no need for a perfection, and put it in a good heavy based pan, mixing it well.

2 Bring it to the boil and then turn down the heat , simmer for about an hour until it is all reduced to a thick pulp.

3 Spoon into sterilised jars and enjoy either after standing for a while to let the flavours develop or immediately if you are impatient like me.

Enjoy with anything savoury!

If you make this recipe, please come back and let me know!

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Green Tomato on Foodista

Blackberry Compote

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Having made plenty of savoury goodies with the foraged fruits (aside from the crumble) I thought it was about time to make something sweet with some of my fresh blackberries.

So I decided to make something that would go great as an accompaniment with lots of puddings. So after reading a Brian Turner recipe, I decided to have a go at making a Blackberry Compote. It was very simple to create and it tastes so good, especially with Vanilla Ice Cream and natural yoghurt. I’m sure it would be perfect for hot puddings too!

If you have any left over blackberries and some sugar in the cupboard, you have to give this a go.

340g Blackberries
55g Sugar
1 tbsp Water

1 Put the sugar, water and half of the blackberries into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

2 Blend with a hand-held mixer or put into a food processor and process until smooth. Strain through a sieve to remove the seeds.

3 Return mixture to a clean saucepan and bring it back to the boil, adding a little water if it is too thick or a squeeze of lemon juice, if necessary.

4 Add the rest of the blackberries and take off the heat immediately.

Serve either warm or cold with a pudding of your choice!

Blackberry on Foodista