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I'm hoping to make this blog more interactive by offering to make your requests. So, sweet or savoury, click on "request a bake"

Dashboard cherries

July 2, 2014

Driving from Lisbon to our middle-of-nowhere second stop…

They do salads well in Lisbon

June 29, 2014

Particularly the tomatoes. Ice cream later at the beach….and McDonalds on the train back. Can’t be classy all the time!

Ps.horrible photo clearly doesn’t do the salad, or me, justice

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

Ginja

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.

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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.

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