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Breakfast in Lisbon

June 28, 2014

The remains….
Mable cake
Yoghurt and fresh kiwi fruit
Bread, ham, a very mild soft cheese (ideas?), super fresh salsa
Excellent coffee
Fresh orange juice
Dark and strong marmalade


June 27, 2014

Made from morello cherries I think, our b&b had Ginja liqueur to try. We’ve seen carts of cherries for sale here in Lisbon

Holiday brunch

June 26, 2014

Mr B are on our holidays as of today. Some of it will be at home and some will be away. I’m going to try to post at least one picture a day, not worrying about words. So, without further ado I bring you the Caravan Kings Cross brunch which was accompanied by Sebastian Faulks book ‘Engleby’ and some very friendly staff.

Coconut bread, lemon curd cream cheese and strawberries & natural processed Ethiopian coffee.



Unsung heroes of my kitchen: Lékué and Wright’s Baking

June 15, 2014

There’s a winning team in my kitchen. Yes, I’ve imported the entirety of the Dutch [or insert current World Cup match winners] football team…only kidding! It’s an unassuming looking grey silicone bowl and a little paperbag. Nearly every weekend for some time now this dream-team can be seen working their magic in Pigling Bland kitchen. I think it’s because it’s so simple and so uncomplicated that I haven’t shared it with you until now, but it seems daft that my two most used kitchen products hadn’t had a mention.

So what are they?

The Lékué  Break maker and bread mixes from Wright’s

Lekue and Wrights flour bread mix

A match made in bread-ven


I know making bread isn’t that hard, but when we’ve got visitors staying or limited time, the certainty of this bread mix is an utter delight. There’s nothing worse than waiting for a first rise, second rise, bake and then….BRICK! This stuff is reliable and what’s more, it’s really good.

Using the Lekue breadmaker I can mix the dough with the dough hook on my Kitchen aid and then just flop the lot into the silicone bowl. Because it won’t get transferred for baking I can make the dough much wetter than normal, which makes for a lovely light loaf. After the first rise, I just mush it around a bit in the bowl, hook the top bit together and wait for it to rise again. Next, pop the whole lot in the oven (I open the bowl for the last 5 mins to make sure it gets browned) and tadaa!

Ready to bake

I love the dark malty mixed seed, but the plain white is even airier if you like your bread really open in texture.

As far as the bowl is concerned, I know £25 seems a lot for a bit of rubber. I was highly skeptical after having had bad experiences with silicone in the past, but I have recommended these two items to SO many friends (eg. Amy from Miskin Makes on the weekend that I made two loaves in as many days!) that I know I would buy a replacement using my own hard earned cash.

Crumbs, that’s good.


I was sent the bread maker to review but I really do love it. I was sent some Wright’s mixes a couple of years ago and have been buying them regularly since. Their cake mixes are also excellent.

New Food News

June 8, 2014

Cue news theme tune: I bring you the New Food News for June 2014… part 1 (I was going to cover multiple items, but this rather long)

1. Charlie Bigham’s delicious handmade dinners for two.

I think I’d seen Charlie Bigham’s in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s but not really paid much attention to them. Then I heard a BBC Radio 4 Food Programme documentary called Britain and the Ready Meal. It’s a really interesting listen  - it charts the rise of the chicken kiev and spends a chunk of time talking to the team at Charlie Bigham’s innovation kitchen. Hear them cooking 150k of potatoes cooking, ready to be mashed.

Mr Bigham is now launching a new range of world ready-meals.  This seems to go back to their roots, since they  with Caribbean lamb, Cajun chicken with salsa, and Salmon with a dill sauce.

The company aims their product at people who ‘wouldn’t normally buy a ready-meal but…. Which is exactly the case for the Pigling Bland household. It would be rare (now) for me to buy a £1 ready meal, but I am much more likely to buy a something that enables Mr B and me to have a nice meal without having to think ahead.

We had Amy (of Miskin Makes) and Stephen (of new album) staying with us for the weekend. Somehow I’d feel fine about serving pre-made pizzas but ready meals to visitors would normally feel a bit wrong. I realise that’s very inconsistent. However, the meals were sitting in the fridge and it made a lovely evening for me knowing I could just throw the items in the oven, cook some veg and sit back. The relaxing part wasn’t due to less work being done, but more to do with the fact that if it wasn’t great I could blame someone else and no-one would have to be polite about it.

I was very surprised and pleased that when I looked at the ingredients list there was not one single thing that I would’t have in a kitchen. No odd sounding stabilisers or additives.

We tried three from their new range:

Chicken in White Wine Sauce & Mash

Spanish Chicken and Chorizo with Roasted Potatoes

Chilli Con Carne (the next day after the Millers match at Wembley!)

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So…how were they?

1. Ready meal carbs always seem a bit pointless. I pretty much discount them when I calculate value for money.

The mash was ok, not the best ready mash I’ve had and I could make nicer mash at home. I probably wouldn’t have remembered to buy potatoes though. The roast potatoes don’t go crispy – I’d say they were cubed potatoes. Rice – this was much more impressive. It came with foil to keep it moist, had veg mixed with it and was fluffy where my rice would have been soggy.

2. The sauces.

I particularly love the chili con carne sauce – it was really fruity and I kept noticing different hints of flavours. I would rarely take the time to stew something for as long as it must take to create this depth of flavour.

The white wine sauce - super creamy and whilst not obviously winey I scraped the last of it off the packet – so I think that says what I thought.

The Spanish chicken and chorizo – again tasty, not too oily.

Overall – I like. They don’t seem cheap (£7) but then I suppose that actually £3.50 per person is really not bad at all – it worries me that I balk at the price, as it probably says something about the importance I put on good produce. All their chicken can be traced back to their Dutch producer, though they do say up front that it’s not free range or organic.

I was sent the meals for free but I wasn’t asked to write a review and I certainly never intended to make this big-a deal of the product but there it is – that’s what I thought.


June 3, 2014

I’ve heard various chefs say that croissants are one baked good that it’s not usually worth making yourself as the time it takes to make them is not proportional to the improvement in them being home-made. In fact, bought ones are likely to be better. So clearly they’ve been on my to-make list for a while. I reckon there’s at least 18hrs of waiting time involved where they are proving, resting are baking. The hands on time isn’t that much though – you just have to keep resting, rolling and turning.

Bon Maman Croissant

Croissants and Apricot Compote. Pass the coffee.

I used the how-to guide and based the recipe on the excellent Top With Cinnamon blog. I recommend it if you are going to have a go as it uses a particularly ingenious way of making the butter layer – grating and then pressing it into shape.

I also referenced Half Baked Harvest for reassurance.

Whilst the butter grating idea is one of my favourite things about the TWC method, it was also my downfall. I didn’t press it down enough, so the butter broke up into the dough and left me with substandard lamination (layering) in the croissant. I still think they tasted pretty good, but Mr B’s opinion was inline with the chefs mentioned earlier. I’m tempted to have another go just to see if I can beat the croissant challenge, but it does mean a large amount of planning ahead and we all know how good I am at that….

Thanks to neighbour Viv for the Bon Maman compote – that stuff could make anything taste amazing. I may or may not have eaten some out of the jar with a spoon (don’t worry, it was that last spoonfuls before I washed the jar out).

croissant lamination layers

Lamemtable lamination

Home-Made Croissants

250 ml cold milk – pref semi skimmed / whole
125 ml boiling water
1 sachet of fast action yeast
50 g sugar
500 g white bread flour / 00 flour
1 tsp salt
250 g butter, frozen, then left at room temp. for 20-30 minutes

Before you start, freeze the butter

Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

Add the yeast and stir through.

 Mix the milk and boiling water and pour slowly into the flour. 

Use a wooden spoon and then your hand to roughly incorporate it all into a sticky dough.

Tip out and knead lightly for a couple of minutes until it’s evenly mixed.

Place into an oiled bowl and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. Take the butter out of the freezer.

After 3omins take the frozen butter and grate onto a large piece of clingfilm. You want enough for a 21cm x 12xm rectangle of butter (21cm is the short side of A4) with the clingfilm folding over the top of it.

Flatten the butter into the 21x12cm rectangle and pat down really really well until it’s a solid block. Wrap the clingfilm around it and refrigerate for 3omins.

Take the dough out just before the butter and roll out on a floured surface into a 40cm x 25cm rectangle  (A4 is 21 x 30cm if that helps you visualise it).

Unwrap the butter and put it in the centre of the dough. You should be able to fold a third of the dough over the butter from each side. Just like a business letter. Pinch the edges together all the way around.

Turn the dough 90 degress and make indentations with a rolling pin (see here). Roll the dough into a rectangle again and fold into thirds again. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 1 hour. This was one ‘turn’.

Remove from the fridge and repeat the roll & fold, re-wrap. Do this two more times (four in total)

Cut the dough into quarters, wrap up and put in the fridge for 8-12 hours / overnight (or freeze for later use) 

Now to make the croissant:

Take one piece of dough, roll out on a floured surface to a 40cm x 15cm rectangle. Cut into thirds and cut each of these diagonally into trianglesTake one triangle of dough (I recommend putting the others in the fridge while you shape each one).

For each triangle stretch the shortest edge to match the long sides, but a little slit in the base and pull it out a bit, then roll it up and put it on a greased baking tray with the top on the underside.

You can also freeze them at this stage.

Cover loosly with clingfilm and leave to rise for 2-3 hours or in the fridge overnight. Brush with egg wash and put in a preheated oven at 220c.

Turn the oven down straight away to 200c. Bake for 10mins.

Turn the oven down to 180c and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until browned.

Feel smug.

Foodie Penpals May: Danish Delights

May 31, 2014

Gosh, that’s gone quickly. It’s time for another Foodie Penpals show and tell. This month I was paired with Alice from Denmark. I sent a parcel to Deon in South London which  had a mix of local oddities (Tamarind sweets) and personal favourites (Nut bars and the like).

Alice tells me that the contents of the parcel, particularly the liquorice sweets are a typical danish treat. Does anyone have any experience of baking wish liquorice?

Danish treats

I received:

  • Origional Remoulade - This is apparently usually used on fish but can be good on meat too. It looks like a tartar sauce I think.
  • Hot chocolate drink – very thick and creamy
  • Yogi Choco and Choco Chili teas - Taste like hot choc but less sugar and easy to take to work. I have seen these in Holland and Barrat but just assumed they’d be like herbal teas and be rather insipid. I was wrong – they taste great and I’ve now bought some more.
  • Some Dr Oetker wafer daisies – love that these are in Denmark too.
  • A bag of wonderfully named Toms Pingvin Lakridskonfekt which seems to be tiny Liquorice Allsorts.
  • A bag of Toms “Pingvin Blue Jeans” which look like the biscuit part of mini oreos but are infact salted liquorice.

Thanks very much Alice!

You can see what everyone else got here

The Lean Green Bean

More about Foodie Penpals

Started by The Lean Green Bean, Foodie penpals is a way for food bloggers and blog readers to get to know each other, via a lovely parcel in the mail every month. This is Rock Salt has brought it to the UK and Europe. Here’s the rough outline of how it works:

  • All interested parties in the UK and Europe – bloggers and blog readers alike – sign up by the form available at the bottom of the Terms and Conditions post
  • Participants are matched on the 5th of the month
  • Penpals send thoughtful, food related parcels, on or before the 20th of the month. The parcels can include home baked treats, shop bought treats (especially local or unusual things), cake cases or decorations – use your imagination. The parcel must include something hand written – a note explaining the box’s contents, a recipe card, whatever you like. The price limit for the boxes is £10 – this is a limit, the point is not the cost, but the thought (no, really!)
  • Penpals open their boxes and rejoice!
  • At the end of the month, everyone blogs about their box, or writes a guest blog post if they are usually a blog reader and not writer. Everyone reads one another’s posts and rejoices some more. Posts are made available on Lindsay’s blog so we can all find each other easily

Find out more here: How it Works // Terms and Conditions.


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