The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) recently asked 5 bloggers to try to create recipes for both farmed and wild salmon the purpose of which was to see what taste differences if any we could taste. I was really excited about this because I don’t think I’d previously ever eaten wild salmon before so I couldn’t wait to try it and relay my thoughts to my readers. The ASMI say “Alaska seafood is counted among the best in the world. All fish from Alaska’s waters are wild and natural providing a wealth of health benefits, not to mention flavours and textures. What’s more all Alaska seafood is 100% sustainable so it can be eaten with a clear conscience that the ocean’s stocks are being preserved for the future”. “In terms of taste and flavour, Alaska seafood is very different to that of its farmed counterparts”. Most people will be familiar with farmed salmon as it’s the one usually found in restaurants and supermarkets, it contains fewer omega-3 fatty acids while the levels of pesticides in farmed are significantly higher than wild salmon and the fat content of farmed ranges between 11% and 20% vs. 7% for wild. Farmed salmon is distinctly oilier and had less fishy flavour as a consequence of the limited movements in its aquatic cages, Mini Gourmand doesn’t particularly like fish that has a ‘fishy’ taste so I can usually get her to eat farmed salmon at home. Wild Alaskan salmon has no artificial colouring, preservatives, pesticides and GMOs and so retains all the goodness from when it is frozen to when it ends up on the dinner plate. Since it lives in the cleanest waters in the world, wild Alaska salmon is firmer, fitter and a more vibrant fish. It is coloured by the natural food it finds in its wild free range environment and people are often surprised to find that some wild Alaskan salmon is more red than orange. When I received the salmon the first thing I did was to do a blind taste test for the family. I pan fried both the farmed and fresh salmon and we all had a taste and gave our verdict. Mini Gourmand couldn’t work out which was which but she did enjoy both pieces of salmon. Mr Gourmand guessed the difference instantly, he found the wild salmon to have a more delicate flavour and different texture to the farmed salmon. I personally preferred the wild salmon, the taste for me was better and I agree with Mr Gourmand that it was delicate. I found the farmed salmon to be meatier in texture and thought the farmed salmon melted in the mouth. My next challenge was to create a recipe using both types of salmon, this was to be a blind taste test again. Both Cajun salmon tacos were cooked the same way and the same ingredients were used but could the Gourmands tell the difference this time? Mini Gourmand thought they both tasted the same, I think my use of spices tarnished her taste buds so she was unable to guess the difference. My Gourmand thought that although they both tasted very similar the wild salmon stood out as the texture wasn’t as meaty and I agree, it was very close but the texture gave it away at first bite. Cajun Salmon Tacos are really simple to make and you can throw any vegetable or salad ingredient into the soft flour taco, I used red onion, avocado, green tomato, sweet corn and coriander. To make the salmon marinade you will need: 4 Tablespoons of smokey Tabasco, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2. Teaspoon coriander leaf, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander. Marinate the salmon overnight and pan fry until just cooked through. My second dish was Teryiaki Salmon which was super easy to make and used very few ingredients. To make this dish you will need Teryaki sauce for marinating the salmon which I left overnight. Soba noodles, pak choi, cashew nuts, sesame seeds and soy sauce. Cook and drain the noodles, add to a hot pan with a splash of oil and pak choi, stir fry for a few seconds until combined, add a splash of soy sauce and a handful of cashew nuts. Add the salmon strips to a hot pan and cook on both sides, the timings will vary depending on how thin your strips are. Place the noodles on a plate and top with salmon, sprinkle with sesame seeds to finish. I enjoyed both types,of salmon but wild salmon will definitely be purchased more frequently in our house from now on. In the past I have sometimes struggled to eat a whole piece of farmed salmon as I’ve found it either too meaty or got bored with the flavour and this is something that I’ve not experienced with the wild salmon. I really enjoyed trying salmon in recipes that I would usually cook with meat, I’ve got three more recipes planned so please do check back to see those. *I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.
I spend the best part of my day in the kitchen so as you can imagine it’s a bit chaotic sometimes. We live in a rented property so the kitchen is not exactly how I would like it to be, the decoration is very dated and the appliances could do with being replaced. I have a very old halogen hob which is dreadful, the double oven has seen better days and don’t get me started on the can-never-keep-clean sink.
In my kitchen I have 4 plug sockets which is more than enough for a medium sized kitchen, my issue is that the sockets are next to each other on one teeny tiny bench meaning that anything with a plug needs to be used separately. I have bench space that runs the length of one wall with no plug and there is no plug on the bench next to the oven so I’m always carrying small appliances from one spot to another.
I do try and make my kitchen work for me and I’m happy that I have tons of cupboards to hide my spices and ingredients. I’ve always wanted a pantry and I have great memories of going into my Great Grandmothers pantry as a child to get a slice of chocolate cake and looking in awe at all of her bottles, jars and ingredients, for the moment I have to make do with my tall cupboard.
I do the majority of my thinking in my kitchen and when I’m feeling particularly stressed I find that washing dishes or deep cleaning the tiles on the floor helps to alleviate it to some degree.
My favourite pastime aside from cooking is planning my dream kitchen, whenever I’m cooking anything that requires something more than a chopping board, hob or oven I like to plan how I would design my perfect kitchen to allow me to make best use of space and appliances. I love the idea of a drawer dishwasher as I find loading my drop door dishwasher so much of a chore especially with being so tall. A double drawer dishwasher would be perfect for me as I always seem to have so many dishes and sometimes when you’re short on time the last thing you want to do is stand scrubbing bakeware. I’ve been trying Fairy Platinum over the past week and it really is an excellent way to keep your dishes looking their best, unfortunately I made the mistake of buying a set of pans that can’t go in the dishwasher so maybe I’ll trade one of my dream drawers for a kitchen hand in my dream kitchen.
“This post is an entry for the “My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum”
Most people have heard of Uniform Dating, if you watch UK Television you may have come across one of their adverts or you may have even used their site to look for love. I don’t actually wan’t to talk about dating today, what I wan’t to talk about is a new partnership between Uniform dating and Michelin star chef Michael Caines – the Uniform Foodies recipe app.
The app features images and recipes of dishes that have been deemed favourites of uniformed professionals like Nurses, Doctors, Firefighters, Police Officers and members of the armed forces. The recipes are affordable, healthy, hearty and above all tasty. I wasn’t surprised to find out that the favourite food of a Firefighter was an Indian Curry, I always associate curry with being hot and spicy and as Firefighters deal with hot fires it seemed to make sense to me.
I was invited along with 30 other top UK food bloggers to develop a recipe for a uniformed professional using Michael Caines recipe for inspiration.
Three blogger’s recipes will be shortlisted and they will be invited to attend a blogger event and cook along with Michael Caines who will judge the dishes and announce an overall winner (please let it be me!).
After reading through Michael’s recipes I decided to take inspiration from his Chicken Tikka Masala fit for a Firefighter and cook a very similar dish but where Masala is a UK favourite this is favoured by the people of Australia. Ladies and Gentlemen I give you…..
Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani
I’ve cooked numerous variations of this dish over the years and have tried different meats but I find that Chicken works best with the sauce, I prefer to use chicken thighs on the bone when I make this recipe as I think you get a better taste but on this occasion I couldn’t get my hands on any so Chicken breast was used.
This is a two step dish and to get the best out of the flavour you should allow one day for preparation and marinading and the next day for cooking. It does look like a lot of faff and a lot of ingredients but it really is worth it and tastes just as good if not better than anything you could buy from a takeaway.4 large chicken breasts, each cut into 3-4 pieces or 8 Chicken Thighs with the bone left in. Juice of 2 limes 1 tsp of chilli powder 1 tsp salt 50g natural yoghurt 50g double cream 4 cloves garlic 5cm ginger 1 tsp garam masala 1 tsp turmeric 3/4 tsp ground cumin
Start by mixing the lime juice, chilli powder and salt together in a large bowl, add the chicken and mix well so it is all coated in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
In a pestle and mortar crush the garlic and ginger, add the spices and when mixed well add to the yoghurt and cream in a large bowl. Remove the chicken from the first marinade and add to the new mixture, coat well and leave for a minimum of 8 hours for the flavours in infuse into the chicken.To make the sauce you will need: 50g ghee 5 cloves garlic, finely crushed 5cm ginger, finely grated 350g tomato passata 1/2 tsp chilli powder 1/2 tsp ground coriander 1/2 tspn ground cumin 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp garam masala 2 tsp desiccated coconut 200 ml water 25g cashew nuts or pistachios 25g pumpkin seeds 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves 1/2 tsp caster sugar 45 ml double cream
Thread the chicken on to skewers and grill until charred or place on a wire rack and oven cook at 220C and cook until charred.
While the chicken is cooking, heat the ghee in a large pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute but don’t let it colour, add the tomato passata and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Add all of the spices, coconut, and 100 ml of the water and simmer for 10 more minutes.
In a pestle and mortar, blend the nuts and pumpkin seeds into a paste, if it’s too dry you could add a couple of tsp of water, once blended add into the sauce. (you can get a finer paste by using a mini food processor)
Add the chicken pieces into the sauce and if needed another 100 ml of water and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Don’t forget you can always add more water if needed but it’s harder to rescue a watery sauce.
Once the sauce is cooked stir in the fenugreek leaves, sugar and cream and cook for a further couple of minutes until everything is combined. Serve with chopped chilli’s for extra heat.
I recently purchased two fillets of Sea Bass which was a bit silly really considering there are four of us at home although Baby Gourmand doesn’t really eat a full portion so I’m not sure if I should count him, anyway I had two fillets of Sea Bass and four mouths to feed so I concocted this Mediterranean Sea Bass dish using some store cupboard essentials and it was surprisingly delicious.
This was one of my famous throw it together and hope it works dishes so there isn’t a real recipe as such but the ingredients used are as follows:2 Sea Bass fillets cut into bite size pieces 1 Tin of Chickpeas drained 2 Courgettes sliced 1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes 2 large vine tomatoes 3 cloves of garlic 1 Tsp Italian Herbs salt and black pepper
I combined everything apart from the fish in an ovenproof dish and when it was all mixed well I placed the Sea Bass pieces on top, I covered the dish with foil and baked at 200 degrees for 25 minutes.
The dish was served with fresh vegetables, I didn’t think we needed potatoes, pasta or rice as the chickpeas were filling enough. The dish was deliciously garlicy, tomatoey and herby if they are even real words?
We recently competed in the Bahlsen Bloggers Bake Off and our chosen dish was the Choco Leibniz Tiramisu. The ingredients and method can be found below or you can go to the Madame Gourmand Youtube channel to watch how we made it and maybe subscribe while you are there?.
Tiramisu is my favourite dessert EVER so when we flicked through the Bahlsen 30 best loved recipes to choose a dessert to creat for the bake off it was a no brainer that Tiramisu would be picked.
To make Choco Leibniz Tiramisu you will need:1 x 568 pit double cream 1 x 250ml tub mascarpone 75ml Marsala 5 Tbsp golden caster sugar 300ml Strong coffee, cold 2 Packets of Choco leibniz Milk biscuits 2 Tsp cocoa powder
Put the cream, mascarpone, Marsala and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk until the cream and mascarpone have completely combined and have the consistincy of thickly whipped cream.
Get a serving dish ready. Put the cold coffee into a shallow dish and dip in a few Choco Leibniz biscuits at a time, turning for a few seconds until the biscuit part is nicely soaked. Layer the biscuits in the dish until you have used one packet, then spread over half of the creamy mixture. Repeat these two layers again.
Cover and chill for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. Dust with cocoa powder.
This dish came together in around 45 minutes when I realised lunchtime was approaching and Mr Gourmand would be wanting something to eat when he came home, it’s also the school holidays so I had Mini Gourmand to feed and of course Baby Gourmand would be banging his spoon in anticipation.
I had a 500g pack of mince from the butchers in the freezer but knew I didn’t have enough time to make lasagne so after a quick rummage in the cupboard I found a pack of Pappardelle pasta and decided to do a kind of baked pasta dish. I filled a pan with water for the pasta and while that was boiling I dry fried the mince in a pan. realising I had nothing to go with it as the fridge only contained salad ingredients and fruit I found a couple of bags of birds eye Mediterranean vegetables with basil butter which went in with the mince, to this I added half a carton of passata, black pepper and a squeeze of tomato purée. Once my sauce and pasta were cooked I layered it in an oven proof dish and topped with mozzarella before popping in into the oven until the cheese was melted and Baked Pappardelle was born.
The dish took 45 minutes from thought process to in the mouth which wasn’t bad by my standards and was rather yummy if I do say so myself, clean plates all round said the family felt the same and there is even some left over for lunch tomorrow.
I do admit that these throw it in a pan and hope for the best dishes are always the most tasty and seem to be becoming a frequent way of cooking in this household. Before I started writing my book I always consulted recipe books or tried tested dishes that I knew worked but now I’m rebellious and try things much to the disgust of Mini Gourmand that don’t always work and quite often fall in the risky category when it comes to flavour combinations.
If you follow my social media accounts you will have probably seen my #morrisonsmum hashtag last weekend, I was part of a group of mums and dads who were given a challenge by the lovely people at Britmums to go to Morrisons armed with vouchers and check out the new cheaper Morrisons.
The challenge didn’t start well for me when I was informed by Britmums that I’d provided them with the wrong house number, after a couple of days of knocking on neighbours doors it was obvious that my vouchers were well and truly lost. I still wanted to take part in the challenge so decided to just use my own money, after all it was my mistake that I put the wrong house number down.
The Morrisons in Leamington Spa is very new, it only opened last year and as it’s situated just out of town I’ve only been a handful of times so I was looking forward to seeing what changes had been made.
Morrisons have cut the prices on over a thousand products, these price slashes are not temporary they are new everyday low prices on the things that the average household buys each week meaning that we as consumers will notice the difference each shop.
All of the new price cuts are marked with yellow markers on the shelves and online telling you that they are cheaper. When I was browsing around the store I noticed quite a few items that I would buy including Hovis best of both bread which is now £1.00, Coca-Cola 8 can pack £2.64, Bold 2 in 1 washing powder 1.76kg £5.00 and Heinz Tomato Ketchup 700g £1.99.
I love that on entering Morrisons you are taken straight to the fresh fruit and vegetables, I find that by filling your trolley with delicious fresh food makes you less likely to fill your trolley up with cakes and sweets.
I love the fact you can see exactly what you are buying and you can see how fresh the vegetables are.
To make the challenge more fun we were asked to buy the ingredients for a bank holiday meal, we shopped on the Saturday and instead of just one recipe I’ve decided to treat you to two, one that was cooked on the Sunday and one that was cooked on the Monday.
The meal we ate on the Sunday was a spring lamb hotpot, all ingredients were purchased from Morrisons and although I don’t usually buy supermarket meat the lamb was delicious and melted in the mouth.
To make the Spring Lamb hotpot you will need:
Our bank holiday meal was warm summer salad which is perfect for alfresco eating, all ingredients were purchased from Morrisons and everyone including Baby Gourmand devoured this dish.
To make the Summer Salad you will need:
On bank holiday Monday I was shocked to come home and find that my missing Morrisons vouchers had been posted through my letterbox, I have no idea where they had been or who had them but it really did show me that there are still some decent people on this earth!
Our last visit to Cafe Rouge in Leamington Spa saw us leaving before we had ordered any food or drinks, the service was diabolical and the attitude of the staff, in particular the manager was abysmal which resulted in me writing a heated complaint to head office. We always think second chances are owed so we decided to visit Cafe Rouge again on a lunchtime to see if they could redeem themselves.
As it was a nice warm day we decided to sit outside, I went in to ask for a menu just in case the waitress hadn’t seen us. I was determined to actually get served on this occasion and wasn’t taking any chances. We both ordered a beer which was served in chilled glasses, we were both very pleased about this as so often you get a fresh out of the dishwasher warm glass in which to put your cold drink.
We both picked Calamars for our starter which was lightly fried squid with an aioli dipping sauce. The squid was cooked to perfection, it wasn’t chewy like squid can sometimes be, instead it was soft and delicious. Baby Gourmand ate a pretty decent sized portion and loved the aioli (he’s a bit of a garlic fiend).
Mr Gourmand had the Salade De Poulet for his main course which was a warm salad consisting of chicken, bacon, potatoes, red onion, boiled egg, cherry tomatoes and green beans. The salad had a deliciously sweet dressing that I’ve just not been able to replicate no matter how hard I try. Mr Gourmand went as far as to say it was his favourite salad by far.
My main course was Croquettes D’Eglefin which was smoked haddock and chedder fishcakes served with fries and a side salad. The aioli dip was supposed to be a citrus dip but it just tasted like the one served with the starter, I wasn’t complaining though as it was delicious and Baby Gourmand happened to agree. My fishcakes were extremely filling and there were so many fries that I had to get Mr Gourmand to help me eat them.
The food we ate got a 10/10 but it all went a bit downhill when it was time to pay. I wont go in to the ins and outs of what happened next as I don’t want to embarrass any of the staff working that day but what I will say is that I won’t be visiting Cafe Rouge in Leamington Spa until they hire a new manageress.
Haddie & Trilby is a real bakery, by real I mean that everything is made onsite by hand. The bread is slowly fermented and takes a minimum of 24 hours to create, I’ll talk more about the bread later but what I will say now is that after tasting the bread at Haddie & Trilby you won’t go back to supermarket bread. All of the ingredients are sourced carefully, the flour is organic, the eggs are free range and the coffee is tasty.
I don’t often buy bread and cakes as I prefer to make them myself but as the bakery had just opened I thought I would give my hands and mixer a break and buy some treats for us to sample.
It’s always nice to be able to see things being made and that’s exactly what you get at Haddie & Trilby, it’s not only a bakery and cafe it’s a working bakery and cafe.
The food in the window display is most appetising and we were immediately drawn to the quiche and foccacia, after a quick discussion we had decided that we would be getting one of each for our lunch.
The bread was all completely different and taster loafs were on display so you can try before you buy which is a fantastic idea, I sampled some of the signature loaf and was instantly smitten.
I selected the items I wanted to purchase, watched as it was expertly wrapped and placed into brown boxes or paper and paid my £22.50 which I think is the most I’ve ever spent in a bakery on 6 items.
Once we arrived back at home Mr Gourmand couldn’t wait to see what I’d spent so much money on and I think he looked a little deflated when he saw I only had 3 boxes and a loaf of bread, I was praying that the taste of the items overwhelmed him or I was going to be in big trouble.
First up was the quiche, I had a slice of roasted tomato and asparagus and mushroom and wild garlic. I’ve told Mr Gourmand on numerous occasions that making your own quiche can quite often cost 2-3 times as much as buying one from a supermarket especially if you make your own pastry so with this in mind we tucked in. We both agreed that the quiche was delicious and Mr Gourmand said that the mushroom quiche was quite possibly the best he had ever tasted – I need to up my game I think. I loved the roasted tomato and asparagus quiche and Baby Gourmand seemed to enjoy his mouthful but I had to agree that the mushroom quiche was outstanding.
I warmed the Foccacia up slightly in the oven as I thought we would enjoy it more when warm. We had half each and I have to say that it was a pretty hefty sized sandwich even as a half portion. The white sprouting broccoli was delicious and the cheese and chilli really complimented it. Baby Gourmand enjoyed his first tasting of white broccoli and Mr Gourmand ate his so fast he barely had time to breathe. 3 items down and 3 to go we were pretty full up so thought it would be best to leave the sweet things and the bread until later.
I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but I make pretty exceptional brownies, I often get asked to make a batch of my oreo stuffed brownies and my cherry brownies always go down very well so I was looking forward to trying the brownie from Haddie & Trilby. The prune in earl of grey brownies were nice but not really to my taste which is nothing against them, I just prefer a fudgy sweet brownie. Mr Gourmand ate the other cake alone which he thought was amazing, it was flavoured with spices and was topped with juicy apples.
Mr Gourmand scoffed when I told him that the bread would last a week, I’m not sure if this was because he didn’t believe me or if he wasn’t planning of leaving it for that long – probably the latter. The speciality loaf contains a whole orange and a mixture of fruit and seeds, it’s not a sweet bread or a savoury bread but more a mixture of the two. We’ve only eaten this bread as it is with butter but I’d imagine it tastes delicious as part of a ploughmans. We have a quarter of a loaf left and it tastes as good three days on as it did when we bought it.
I’ll definitely be using Haddie & Trilby as my local bakery in the future on those days when I don’t have the time to bake myself, I wish them a lot of success in their new venture and hope to visit again soon.
You can find Haddie & Trilby at 10 Regent Street, Leamington Spa.