My Spices

Today’s post will be different, I’m going to talk about my spices. I like to use all sort of spices, this way, even a dish I’ve made before can be more exciting and new by adding different spices.

my spices. shelves filled with spices

These are the shelves with the spices on display. There are 45 jars of spices. Some of them are empty because I’ve run out of that particular spice. I often have to buy spices as I do use quite a lot when I’m cooking.
I’ve tried to place them in categories: herbs, roots. It’s easier to pick the ones I need, when I’m in the middle of stirring in the pan.

My favourite spice must be ground cardamon. I use it in risotto’s, especially for the vegan ones. I would use it in desserts too. It’s a very versatile spice.

Next one is cumin. I like adding lots of cumin when I’m making houmous. If I have shop-bought houmous I will sprinkle cumin and sumac on top. Sumac is the next on the list of my favourite spices.
Some of the spices end up in smoothies too, it’s a very nice way to add more flavour and a healthy kick to the morning drink.

The ones that I use the most are the herbs, obviously. Usually Italian herbs, as these are the ones my husband prefers. Two of the jars are now empty and I’m going to change what I have in them. The Pizza & Tomato jars had tomato spice. I bought it from a cooking show and it wasn’t as nice as I would have liked. So, now I’m going to change those jars with Chives and Curry leaves. I have the spices in the cupboards, I just need new labels for the jars.

Having all the spices on the shelves made my life easier. I can easily pick the ones I want to use, without having to search for them in the cupboards. Also, I can think of spice combinations better like that instead of trying to remember all the spices I have. Another great thing is that I can use them as props in photographs because they all look the same.

Recently I talked about the superfoods I’m using on my lifestyle blog.

How to cook Kalettes

I found these new veggies at Lidl called Kalettes and I had to try them. After trying a few recipes with them, I’ve decided to make a post on how to cook Kalettes. First of all, let’s talk about Kalettes. They are a new vegetable obtained by crossing kale with brussels sprouts with traditional hybridization. It took 15 years to make them and I’m happy someone did. They taste great. I love brussels sprouts and kale, but my husband doesn’t like the sprouts, he will eat them because they are healthy and that’s it. So, they might be a hit even with people that don’t like brussels sprouts.

01 How to cook Kalettes

They are easy to prepare and cook, it takes a few minutes and that is another great thing if you want to make them for dinner and you are in a hurry. When it comes to how to cook Kalettes, there are a few ways to prepare them: raw, roasted or blanched and used in stir fry.

If eaten raw, they taste like salad, cut the end of the stem and wash them. Put them in a colander and shake to remove the excess water. It’s that simple.
If you want to roast them, cut the stems, wash them. As before, leave the kalettes in the colander to remove the excess water. Put them in a bag, add spices and 2 spoons of oil. Close the bag and shake, this way they will be coated with the oil. Put them in a roasting pan and roast them for 10 minutes at high heat, in the preheated oven.

02 How to cook Kalettes

If, instead you want to blanch them, it’s easy too. Wash and cut the stems, as before. Leave them in the colander. Meanwhile, put a saucepan with water on high heat and bring it to boil. When the water is boiling, toss in the kalettes and reduce the heat to medium and leave them to boil for 3-4 minutes.
In a large bowl, add ice cubes and cold water. For 2 bags of kalettes, which is for 4 servings, I used 12 ice cubes. When the kalettes are boiled, drain them and put them in the cold water. Leave to cool down, a couple of minutes. Drain and the kalettes are ready to be stir-fried. Check the next 2 recipes that will follow in the next couple of days.

Cheese plate with biscuits from Stag Bakeries

My husband and I love cheese. Sometimes I would prepare a cheese plate with a glass of wine instead of dinner, especially after a very consistent lunch. For those occasions, having some nice oatcakes and water biscuits to go with the cheese is a must. I received these Stag Bakeries Seaweed oatcakes, Seaweed water biscuits and cheese straws to review and we both were delighted with them.

01 Stag bakeries seaweed oatcakes seaweed water biscuits and cheese straws

Stag Bakeries is an old traditional Scottish bakery located in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis on the Scottish Outer Hebrides and dating back to 1885. This is usually enough for me to want to try the product. Stag is a family-run business and they produce bread and cakes for local customers and biscuits for the rest of the world. The recipes they use today are developed with traditional methods.

Stag bakeries seaweed oatcakes seaweed water biscuits and cheese straws

Continue reading Cheese plate with biscuits from Stag Bakeries

Opies

I love trying new ingredients, so I was delighted when I was sent a few samples from Opies to try.

01-opies

Opies is a family-run business started in 1880. They are producing foods in the same location in Kent since 1929. Their range is very interesting and most of their products can be found in local supermarkets.

02-opies

Opies Fujan Christmas Fruits with Courvoisier. The fruits are amazing. It’s a mixture of Figs, Apricots, Dates, Cranberries, Raisins and Sultanas. Other ingredients are sugar, water, citric acid and, obviously Courvoisier. I think this is perfect for Christmas, it’s lush and the flavour is amazing. Every single dried fruit has kept its flavour. I loved it. This is available at Waitrose and I might add it to the Christmas shopping list. I love boozy chocolates, but it’s the first time I try boozy fruits. I think they are delicious, with a little bit of unsweetened whipped cream on top, it’s the perfect dessert.

Continue reading Opies

Jamie’s Italian Olive Oil Buyer’s Guide

I like reading about ingredients as much as I like experimenting with new ones. I was delighted to see the Olive Oil Buyer’s Guide*, it’s very interesting. The Infographic was created by Jamie’s Italian (link to one restaurant). I’ve been to the one in Liverpool and it was a lovely experience.

Going back to the Olive Oil, I have to admit I had no idea there is light olive oil. I like olive oil and I used it many times, usually I add it raw on salads, on soup before serving, lots and lots over a big dish of houmous or breads. I usually buy extra virgin olive oil. After reading this info-graphic I am thinking I should buy light olive oil too, for cooking.

I will also do a taste-test like it’s mentioned here. It sounds interesting and it’s something I never tried before. I might do that with all the oils I have in the cupboard and chose the right one for the dish. I am really excited to try this oil taste-test.

jamies-italian-olive-oil-buyers-guide_57320f2dda035_w1500

Do you cook with olive oil? Which type of oil do you use?

* Post in collaboration.

Chilal cheese

I saw the jars of Chilal cheese in a local Muslim supermarket a few weeks ago. I never heard about it before and I was curious how it is. Luckily it had the vegetarian sign on it, so I was keen to buy it. I love trying new things and this type of cheese is really exciting.

01 Chilal cheese

Chilal cheese is a Turkish white string cheese in saltwater brine. The cheese is  made up of strands that are woven together. It is made with cow milk. The two clews have a weight of 400g and just shy of £4. It’s not the cheapest, but it’s not that expensive either considering it’s a speciality cheese.

I bought a jar expecting it to be like mozzarella. The strings makes it look like it’s soft. In fact the cheese is quite hard. I would say it’s something in between mozzarella and halloumi. The strands have a similar texture to halloumi.

02 Chilal cheese

I didn’t find lots of information about it in English. I tasted it raw and it’s great. I put it on a pizza and it was beautiful. It’s very tasty and it looks great too.

The first thing I’ve tried was to take out the string by pushing them. It didn’t work, as the strings are stuck together. So I cut one of the clew in half and it was much easier to remove the strings. It’s likely that I will post a few recipes with it in the following two weeks.

03 Pizza with chilal cheese
This is how the strings look on a pizza base. I will post the recipe of the pizza tomorrow.

Salt

I’m an avid supporter of local produce as I believe it has an important impact in the local community, it’s environmentally better and it’s fresher. While a lot of people are talking about veggies and fruits, I want to talk about an old and not very exciting spice: Salt.

Salt is an important ingredient for all the dishes. I prefer sea salt, for the aroma. First time I’ve tried sea salt I loved the taste, it’s so much better than the other types. I’ve used it in savoury dishes, in salted caramel desserts and just plain on tomatoes and on warm buttered bagels.

salt

We live in the UK and it can be more expensive to buy British. In a hard economic climate we have to reach a happy medium between what we want and what we can afford. But, even so, the price difference between a British sea salt and another one is only a couple of pounds per kilo, so basically insignificant.

There are a few options on the market for sea salt and we have 3 here in the UK: Cornish Sea Salt, the Anglesey based Halen Mon and the Scottish Hebridean Sea Salt.

If I missed a brand, let me know and I’ll add it to the list. It is not a sponsored post, these are only my thoughts.