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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013: A Foodie Review

Tonight another year comes to an end.   I started this blog in April and therefore I have decided to review from that point, this time next year I will be covering the whole lot, but since this is my first review I am treating it as a practice.  Sitting here with my iPad calendar open as a reminder of what I did I hope to summarise the last 9 months and set a few goals for the new year.  Apologies, this post does not contain a recipe, instead its more like a diary entry.  Skip it if you like, next post will be back to normal.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Coca Cola Ham

This month is always the most challenging and soon it will be over bringing with it the close of yet another year.

Stressing as it can be I actually enjoy the process of putting up the tree, reading through cook books and planning menus. The demands of the Christmas rush and the excitement of getting new things and of course giving things to others.

Foodie wise this has been a month of three new gadgets, more on them later, and a number of new recipes.  I have a couple of things put to one side to blog about over the next few weeks so hopefully next years resolution (to post more) will be achievable.  I feel more inspired to post now since good things seem to be happening with my blog.  Let me summarise...

First thing to happen was an email from '' to inform me that my blog has been selected for their blog of the day.  This was great timing as it happend to fall on a Saturday and I noted a sudden jump in viewers and a couple more followers.  I can now proudly display their 'featured blog' logo on my site and if look carefully I am sure you will spot it.  Hopefully this won't be the first time my blog is featured!

Second bit of good news was this my blog finally made it in to the 'Foodies 500' ranking system.  Still a long way to go before I get in the top 100 and that would be amazing but for the time being simply seeing that my work is slowly making its way up the charts is brilliant!

And finally I have noticed an increase in daily traffic, not that high, but it finally feels like I am writing to readers not simply to myself.  Thank you!!

I am rather lucky to have slowly built up a collection of expensive gadgets.   There is no chance I could simply go out and buy them all, instead I have to collect them one by one, saving up or waiting for Christmas before I can finally get my hands on that piece of kitchen  equipment that all those TV cooks have.  This year my collection of Kitchenaid gadgets increased to a snazzy new kettle that allows you to select the correct water temperature for your needs and the fab Kitchenaid Two slice toaster.  Now this isn't just any toaster...this toaster has a gadget lovers feature that beats all other toasters...simply placing the bread, bagel or whatever in the slots and watch as the toaster automatically lowers the item and toasts to perfection before raising it again.  Forget to take it out or not quite ready for it yet? No problem this clever device will automatically lower the toast and keep it warm for you until your ready.  Gadget perfection.   

I also received a kitchen blow torch as a present, amazing!  I have already brunt many a thing for the sake of burning it just to see how it works.  More to follow about this gadget as I am sure I will find many uses for it and it wont be long until a few recipes appear on here that requires its use.

It is my intention to write one more post before the year is out - a retrospective on my first year of writing a foodie blog.  But todays post is a recipe I have tired before but without much sucess.  Coca Cola ham is a recipe by Nigella Lawson and is one of those recipes that make you think 'really?'.  However I am very happy to say that it works, its fab and its very easy.  The first time I made it, a year ago actually, I made the error of purchasing a smoked gammon joint and the resulting ham was far to smokey to be enjoyed. This year I made sure that I brought a simple plain 2kg gammon joint.  Simmered for over two hours in one bottle of coke and simply glazed and charred in the oven for 10 minutes this ham was perfect for the Boxing Day buffet and to stash away in the fridge to be picked at all week.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Nutella Cheesecake

Yet again I have been lazy in posting recipes.  Oh well, maybe I just need to set myself a goal of at least 4 posts a month and not worry to much about 1 a week.  My aim over Christmas is to cook a range of items and create a backlog of recipes that I can post over regular intervals.  On my list to bake is a Christmas ham, plenty of desserts, biscuits and buffet items. 
Today's posting is a favourite of mine, Nutella Cheesecake, by Nigella Lawson.  I have made this receipe a few times and friends have asked for the recipe (place cookbook on photocopier...)   Finally I have made it for my blog and hope that everyone else likes it as much.  It is a very easy recipe to follow and 'cheapish' if you happen to get the cream cheese on offer and buy ready chopped hazelnuts.  

As usual I mixed everything together in my machine, but you don't have to.  Just make sure, whichever method you use, that the cream cheese is at room temperature as this allows the chocolate to combine fully without any lumpy bits.  You may notice that in my biscuit base mix I have pecans instead of hazelnuts, this was not a mistake, instead I could not fine hazelnuts anywhere when I needed to buy them and nipping down to the local supermarket was out of the question.  Instead I opted for pecans but typically when I got home I found that I already had a packet of skinned hazelnuts in the baking cupboard (this was of course after I had made the base!).  A quick toast in a pan and chop in the processor and my nutty topping was ready.  Best to leave to rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight, and serve fridge cold as the mixture seems to cut and serve better.

This recipe is so quick and easy and if you like a well known chocolate ("you are spoiling us Ambassador...") you will love this.  I think it may be part of my Boxing Day dessert selection this year.