Yes, it also does chips!

fries

For the last meal prepared as part of the De’Longhi Multifry Challenge I’ve been taking part in, it only seemed right to do chips.

This multifryer hasn’t really felt like something to cook fried food – more of a worktop based cooker – but it’s likely that people buying this would want to cook fried food with the lower fat advantage the product boasts.

So I did the test with frozen fries. There was no oil involved and they cooked in quick time. I served mine with lemon and basil baked salmon, wilted spinach and cauliflower.

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Vegetarian curry with squash and chick peas

veggieThe DeLonghi Multifry challenge is coming towards its end for me and this was the most ambitious dish I tried to date.

A vegetarian curry from scratch in well under an hour. The recipe app suggested this would take 55min but actually was a good bit quicker. The total cooking time was 25 mins and it didn’t take very long to chop an onion and a squash.

The ingredients list was fairly simple again – dried spices in the form of paprika, tumeric and curry – the chickpeas, onion, squash and garlic. All topped up with some veg broth.

It made for a substantial curry – something better suited for cold weather – but also pretty mild. If I made it again I’d definitely add some extra chilli and ginger to the mix.

veggie
Veggie curry

Overall verdict: Simple to create and tasty. Serve with a dollop of plain yoghurt, naan bread, basmati rice and a green salad for a filling veggie main meal.

Chicken with potatoes, rosemary and garlic #multifrychallenge

“Well that was simple enough even for me. Delicious as well.”

chicken
Not-fried chicken

There you have it! That’s what passes for a positive review in my house.

The meal was indeed simple to produce. I was a bit sceptical about putting all the ingredients in raw with no preperation at all – no browning of the chicken, no chopping of the herbs or garlic and also no oil.
raw
The recipe from the De’Longhi Multifry Challenge app just advised to add them all to the cooker dish (no paddle) and switch it on for 50mins, stirring a couple of times.

But the results and response speak for themselves. The chicken was succulent, very much like fried chicken in fact. The potatoes roasted and the rosemary managed to scatter itself around the dish somehow….Served with a very lightly dressed green salad.

Chicken curry as part of the #multifrychallenge

Tonight’s meal moved things on a bit with this week long challenge – a chicken curry. First thing to note from the recipe I used from the app provided is that it contains many fewer ingredients that I’d normally use for a curry – no individual spices, garlic, ginger or chillies.
photo (1)

And the method is a bit different from the standard browning of the meat, creating a roux etc. It all started with sauteing the onion and carrot on its own before adding pieces of floured chicken.

Just as I was about to add the chicken pieces, something occurred to me – no instructions about the addition of the curry powder. I’m guessing these recipes haven’t been roadtested much to date and these sort of details are easily missed so I went back to the flour dredging stage and added the curry powder there.

After the meat and the veg, the stock, cream and milk where added and all set to cook up for 20mins while the basmati rice cooked on the hob.
curry
The verdict: The chicken was beautifully cooked – very tender and moist but again, like yesterday, the sauce was a bit dry. I’m thinking this could be as much to do with the roadtesting of the recipes and am going to add extra liquid for future dishes. The dish cooks fast and hot and the paddle function prevents anything from sticking or burning. Personally, I thought it was too mild and think some more aromatics and spices would pep up the recipe in future.

Paddling with asparagus

The seasonal veg cook-up continues with baked asparagus. Unlike last night’s courgette based dish, this recipe from the DeLonghi Multifry App uses what they describe as a ‘paddle’.

Basically it looks like this……

pan

And moves the food around in the cooking bowl. I was a bit worried when I switched on the oven that something had gone wrong as the paddle didn’t move but it seems it clicks into action as the food starts to cook rather than wasting its efforts on the raw ingredients at the start.

Tonight’s recipe also contained a reasonable amount of liquid as the asparagus first cooks in stock and then the paddle is removed while the Grana Padano cheese and breadcrumbs are added to brown it off in the last few minutes.

asparagusrecipe.jpg
But it all went a bit wrong. The recipe was supposed to look like this – delicate fronds of succulent asparagus gently coated in a cheese sauce.

But it actually looked like this…….

asparague

I think I can explain what happened. Basically I didn’t add enough liquid so that the cheese and breadcrumbs just clumped together but also, the stock I used was just too concentrated so it led to an overly intense flavour as well as the wrong texture.

Live and learn – tomorrow could be time to try out the cooker on some meat.

Getting set for some new tech kitchen wizardry #multifrychallenge

Kitchen gadgets, apps and cooking. They’re a match like…..well fish and chips springs to mind!

Bringing together some technology and some food always seems like a good idea so I’ve agreed to take part in something called the De’Longhi Multifry blogger challenge.

I get a special new cooker thing to try out, an app full of recipes and am putting aside some time to both cook and blog abut it right here.

I’m not much of a fried food cook, aside from the occasional Chinese stir fry, but was persuaded by the idea of this as it uses very small amounts of oil compare to conventional cooking with the promise of ‘air frying’.

It all looks pretty impressive in the promo video, as you’ll see.

So we’ll start tomorrow. I’ll tag stuff #multifrychallenge over the week if you’re interested in following and, if you’ve already tried out this way of of cooking, I’d love to hear about it.

Product trial: Grey’s Christmas Hamper

Last week I caught a television programme about the upmarket store Liberty of London. It charted the establishment’s history as an emporium which brought items of wonder from the east to us in the west.

That tradition of seeking out items of wonder from far-off lands is something that’s much more difficult in these global times but our desire to be delighted is unlikely to ever be diminished.

It struck me that the same challenge can be seen when it comes to our forever roaming tastes in the culinary world. With supermarkets offering international food items sourced around the globe and online specialist sites offering just about anything your imagination could seek to find.

So when it comes to specialist food offerings, suppliers have to work hard to find that certain something that will whet our purchasing appetites. Enter Grey’s Fine Foods from North Yorkshire, they’re offering the best in Spanish food and sent me a selection in one of their Christmas hampers to try. Here’s what I found:

greys
Minimalist

Packaging
The hamper is actually a wooden crate – stylish in that designer, minimalist way. Inside all the goods are wrapped and nestling inside paper filling so there’s some excitement to digging in to find out what’s inside – a bit like a lucky dip! I liked the style of it all and, when it comes to hampers, those first impressions count for a lot.

Contents
The company promises that the contents inside will ‘surprise anyone during the festivities’. There’s certainly a good range – from their trademark charcuterie from Iberian breed pigs to luxury storecupboard items. This is a hamper for people who like to cook as well as eat, so alongside the award-winning ham there’s also a beautifully presented essentials like the Senorio de Vizcantar extra virgin olive oil which blends three olive varieties and some proper hot smoked paprika.

For the sweet-toothed there’s the traditional Christmas after dinner sweet of Turron de Jijona and an exquisite chocolate that’s blended with olive oil and sea alt. This unusual mixture comes from the Basque chocolatier Alma de Cacao and I haven’t tasted anything quite like it – rich yet light with a melting texture, it really is a remarkable dark chocolate experience. Spanish foods

Verdict
I loved it. At £50 the Grey’s Christmas Hamper would seem to be pretty good value given the quality of the contents if you’re looking for an unusual and stylish gift for the foodie in your life. Definitely something that will tickle the interest of even the most jaded tastebuds.

The Grey’s Christmas Hamper costs £50 is one of a range starting from £35. Delivery is usually 3-7 days but they offer a one-day service too if you plan to order for Christmas.

* The hamper was provided free of charge for review purposes. Please note, if you wish to provide goods for review, they are accepted on the understanding that good, bad or indifferent, this blog’s product trials section strives to say it as we find it.

Flapjack anyone? Help me taste these Trek snack bars

photo (1)So who wants to try out a Trek bar? The makers of these flapjacks with a difference have given me a few to give away to readers of this blog.

I’ve already munched a few on my travels as they seemed like a good breakfast on the go option.

The snack bars are wheat, dairy and gluten free and have 10g of protein in each bar.

They’re made by British company Natural Balance Foods who started making healthy wholefood alternatives to processed foods in 2006 and who launched this Nakd range as healthy snacking option.

More about them in this video.

So if you’ve like to try one, send me an email with your address on it to foodiesarahATme.com and I’ll post it out on a first come, first served basis.

Product trial: John Lewis Christmas trug hamper

johnlewishamperJohn Lewis seems to have entered the British psyche when it comes to Christmas – whether the television advertising delights or annoys you, there’s no getting away from the fact that the retailer’s become synonymous with seasonal provisions.

The arrival of a hamper from the store has become a mini-tradition in our household too so when John Lewis asked if I’d like to try out their latest offering I was intrigued to see what would be different about it.

And so here we are, in November having a bit of an early festive treat to share with you.

Packaging
The most obvious thing to notice first is there’s no traditional wicker basket. Instead this ‘trug’ hamper comes in smart, contemporary leather bag.

Of course the creak of leather and the flicker of candlelight in front of the fire can be just as Christmass-ey as the more usual wicker picnic-basket style of annual treat and, depending on your decor, this upmarket packaging might just be a better fit with your modern festivities.

(I think it might well end up as our kindling basket – unless the cat takes up residence in there first!)

Contents

johnlewishamperThis a selection of store cupboard luxuries rather than dinner table essentials for the big day so there’s plenty of those treats which everyone loves. Turkey and sprouts will have to be catered for elsewhere because this hamper is all about those little extras which can help the fetivities go with a little more spice and sparkle.

On the booze front, there’s a rich, deep bottle of Sangiovese Poggio della Quercia IGT Rubicone. Great with the cheese board or just as a tipple in front of the fire.

And the cheeseboard gets some further attention with some of the savoury items including the smooth Cairnsmhor Crushed Black Pepper Crackers and Claire’s Handmade Red Onion Marmalade from Cumbria which is now a firm favourite for sandwiches, goats cheese and anything else that needs an intense flavour.

For the sweet-toothed, it’s all quite chocolate focussed. There’s light and buttery Edinburgh Preserves Chocolate Chip Cookies and Fudges Belgian Milk Chocolate Florentines but the stand-out treat are the moreish Ferdia Milk Chocolate Salted Caramels with their intense soft centres.

Verdict
It’s certainly got the wow factor with the different appearance from the packaging and the treats inside will suit most tastes. At £65 it’s at the lower end of what hampers can cost when you order them online like this (the most expensive hamper offered costs an eye-watering £800!) but the value of the goods wouldn’t really stack up if you bought them individually. It’s really the novelty of the packaging and excitement of exploring it that you’re sending as a gift – a special treat for a style conscious person who likes to entertain in the run up to Christmas.

* The goods from the John Lewis Christmas hamper were provided free of charge for review purposes. Please note, if you wish to provide goods for review, they are accepted on the understanding that good, bad or indifferent, this blog’s product trials section strives to say it as we find it.

Product trial: Wharfe Valley rapeseed oil

photo-148I’ll admit I didn’t know anything about rapeseed outside of realising it’s that vivid yellow plant which patchworks much of Yorkshire’s fields each summer.

But as we shlurp our way through the diminishing supplies of imported olive oil it turns out there’s something a bit closer to home we could be enjoying and that’s the oil those sunshine yellow fields produce.

The samples I’ve been trying out are from Wharfe Valley farm which is a family- based business in Collingham which raises the crops and then uses traditional harvesting methods and cold presses to create these oils.

So far I’ve used the original rapeseed oil for a stir fry which was great as it doesn’t have a strong taste, more a light and slightly nutty one, and it does have a high smoking point (220 C), making it ideal for wok cooking.

Then to the Sicillian Lemon Rapeseed Oil. I wasn’t sure whether to eat it or bathe in it at first with it’s pretty floral motif and pale liquid.

A small spoonful revealed an astonishing depth of lemon punch. Using it to make a simple dressing with white wine vinegar turned out to be a perfect dressing for leaves to accompany fish. Only a small amount of oil was needed too.

I see that in the recipe section of the website, they also suggest using it to make lemon hummus which I can well imagine would be a perfect zesty dip – that will probably be this week’s treat.

Being a confirmed olive oil user it was surprising to learn the rapeseed oil has ten times more health boosting omega 3 oils than it’s continental cousin and that it’s a good source of Vitamin E. Now the winter’s keeping us indoors now, that’s certainly a benefit alongside the taste.

I shall try out some more recipes using it over the coming weeks.

* The rapeseed oil was provided free of charge for review purposes. Please note, if you wish to provide goods for review, they are happily accepted on the understanding that good, bad or indifferent, this blog’s product trials section says it as it finds it.