Friday, November 29, 2013

Crumble Topped Mince Pies - Recipe

We've eaten all the mince pies
 so I guess I'll just have to make some more!
I love mince pies and I love crumble too and these pies are perfect.  They can be eaten on their own, and are delicious warm, but work well with either cream or ice cream.

Delia's mincemeat recipe never lets me down and I make this every year because it isn't too sweet and it never boils over the sides of the pies. I always leave out the peel and almonds though. The sweet pastry is easily made in a food processor.

Fresh from the oven

I only used half the pastry and froze the remainder.  There will also be some crumble left, this too will freeze.

You will need: 12 cup bun tin, greased and mincemeat

Makes: 12 mince pies

For the sweet pastry:

225g plain flour, 115g butter, 50g lard, 25g icing sugar, 1 egg  

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Sift flour into a bowl add the butter and lard. Rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the icing sugar and then the beaten egg. Bring together to form a smooth dough. Place in plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. Roll out just over half the pastry to 3mm thickness and cut out circles large enough to fit the base of the tart tins.
3. Place a dessert spoon of mincemeat into each pastry base.

For the crumble topping:

150g fridge cold butter, 150g self raising flour, 75g demerara sugar, flaked almonds

1. Cube the butter and rub into the self raising flour until large flakes are formed.  Add the demerara sugar and stir.
2. Top the mincemeat with crumble and scatter over a few flaked almonds.
3. Place in the oven for 20 minutes until the crumble is golden.
4. Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes and then remove and place on a cooling rack.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas Gift Ideas 2013 - Part Four

Campo Viejo Reserva Rioja - the perfect Christmas wine gift
Presented in an attractive gift box ready for giving to friends and family. This rich fruity wine will go well with red meats and game, and is the perfect partner for the cheeseboard. Aged for 24 months in French oak barrels and 36 months in the bottle cellar.
RRP: £12 Stockist: Sainsbury’s


Jacob's Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cuvee - for every occasion
A wonderful sparkling drink for Christmas and the New Year. An Australian sparkling wine with crisp fruity flavours. It can be served with turkey and will go equally well with smoked salmon.

I served mine as a Buck's Fizz!
RRP:  £10.39   Stockist:  ASDA, Sainsbury's, The Co-operative


Delicious chocolate
Seed&Bean Chocolate - limited edition chocolate bars made especially for Glastonbury Festival 2013 with organic ingredients.
Milk Chocolate with Cornish Sea Salt and West Indies Lime - tangy, zesty and salty.
White Chocolate Raspberry and Vanilla - tangy raspberries poured into a creamy white chocolate with a hint of vanilla.
Dark Chocolate with Sicilian Hazelnut - dark chocolate with a smooth nutty flavour.
Seed and Bean are UK's only 100% ethically accredited chocolate company.
All the bars are Fairtrade and Soil Association approved.
85g bars Price £2.29 each Stockists: nationwide


Filippo Berio - limited edition Commemorative tin
Featuring “The Lady of Viareggio” from one of Italy’s most stylish Tuscan resorts and home to Filippo Berio. A must-have for lovers of the Cucina Italiana and a beautiful present for the foodie or hard-to-buy for.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil is wonderful for drizzling over focaccia or bruschetta, for marinades and dipping bread into.
1L tins from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, RRP £7.49.



Harveys Bristol Cream - the UK's favourite sherry
Holder of a Royal Warrant and enjoyed by the Queen's household - sherry is the perfect occasion drink for toasting.

Mix up some special drinks over the festive holiday using Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry - take a glass, fill with ice, pour sherry over and top with a slice of frozen or fresh orange.  A longer drink - pour some sherry into a long glass, top up with lemonade and add slices of fresh fruit.  Toast the Queen on Christmas Day with a glass of Harveys.
RRP £9.41 Stockists: nationwide

Thank you everyone for the samples

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Culinary Adventures with Marmite

Kitchen Delights London Reporter gets to grips with an intriguing Marmite menu........

Love it or hate it - Marmite has been a firm staple of British life since records began (well since I was born). This dark sticky brown paste certainly makes an impression – whether on my morning toast or via a loving dollop popped into my spag bol to bring out the flavour.  So now we know that I don’t hate it.

It was with wild excitement that I was invited to try a Marmite curry at Cinnamon Soho in London’s West End. Talk about being innovative and catching the attention of a bunch of curious food blogger's. You’ll have to read on to see if it worked…

Here is what Vivek Singh, the man behind Cinnamon created for us.

                                                Stir fried shrimp, Marmite and pepper fry

Yummy! Yummy! The marmite gave it a subtle depth and surprisingly, went well with the shrimp – a bit like a flavoursome glaze and very moreish!

               Seared fillet of sea bream, Marmite and curry leaf crust, Marmite coconut sauce

Wow – you wouldn’t think it, but this was by far my favourite dish - I don’t know how, but it worked. The Marmite was infused with a curry leaf crusting so you could enjoy the delicate taste of the white fish but with a zingy after taste of Marmite cutting through.

                            Chilli and peanut chicken breast with a Marmite korma sauce -                                                                                     Marmite and honey, chilli-garlic naan

A great idea, combination wise, but not the holy trinity of the curry world. I’m not sure if I was just mourning a typical korma sauce for this Indian classic.

                                              Marmite Chocolate and Cardamom Mousse

I can’t say I loved this – I really wasn’t feeling it with the chocolate and cardamom – I felt it was too earthy but I did like the salt interspersed throughout the mousse. My fellow diners loved it though!

                                       All this can be yours as a set Marmite Menu for £35

Thanks a million to Cinnamon Soho

Monday, November 25, 2013

Breville Aurora Stainless Steel 4 Slice Toaster - Review

Foodies love practical presents and this fabulous retro Breville Aurora Stainless Steel 4 Slice Toaster will look stylish in all kitchens and bring a welcome splash of colour. The toaster has some fabulous features - a lift and look to view progress of toast without cancelling, variable browning and width slots, defrost, reheat and mid-cycle cancel functions, and illuminated buttons. This is a large toaster and will be a great help at breakfast time for busy families trying to get out of the house on time for the school run. I'm not sure whether all sliced bread will fit perfectly into the toaster, it's just a case of trying different brands.
Breville is a trusted name and the brand has been around since the 1980's.
Available in Candy Red, Shimmer Cream or a Twilight Black and matching kettles are also available.
RRP £49.99 from Asda and Tesco

Thank you for the review sample.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Travel Photographer's The Sacred: Varanasi & Vrindavan

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy
Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy
I know the wait has been agonizing, but I'm finally announcing details of my forthcoming photo expedition and multimedia workshop The Sacred: Varanasi & Vrindavan.

This particular photo expedition/workshop is of two-parts. During its two weeks, participants will document (1) the street theaters in two of the most sacred cities in India: Vrindavan and Varanasi, (2) the esoteric cultures of the real and fake sadhus who proliferate these sacred cities, (3) an exemplar of the Sufi culture in the heart of Varanasi, (4) the tradition of widow exiling to ashrams and (5) the exuberance of the Holi festival in name but a few.

During this workshop, participants will merge their still photography and audio to create compelling narratives. While largely for color photography (especially for Holi), black & white is certainly an option.

For those on Facebook who tried to guess the whereabouts of the bottom photograph; it was made on the ghats of Vrindavan, not Varanasi! 

For further details, drop by The Sacred: Varanasi & Vrindavan (for desktop browsers) and The Sacred: Varanasi & Vrindavan (for iPad).

Friday, November 22, 2013

Vivian Maier - Self Portraits is out!

Each photograph in this self portrait book was first printed by a master printer then scanned into the plates of the book. The book essay is by Elizabeth Avedon. Includes many never before seen photos and a section of her color self portraits. Available on amazon now!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trip Report: Sundown Forest Deer Hunt 11/16/13 – 11/19/13

On November 16 dear rifle season opened in my part of New York State. So, I planned a four day trip into the woods to see if I can actually get one. I will not keep you in suspense; I came home empty handed. Regardless, I figured I would share the trip with you.

My plan was to hunt the southern section of the Catskill mountains. Specifically, I headed for the southern tip of Sundown Forest. I like the area because it offers relatively flat ground, at least what I would consider flat for these mountains, and I have previously spotted deer sign in the area. The down side of the area is that it has antler restriction. Generally speaking I am restricted to taking six pointers and up.

I intended to spend the opening day, Saturday, backpacking into the forest. I would set up camp, and then hunt the following two days, making my way out on the fourth.

So, on day one, I got to the forest and started making my way in. I would be bushwhacking the whole way in, trying to use the terrain features to make my way.


The are has some beautiful forest, starting with beech and hickory, and eventually transitioning into pine.

As you can see from the picture, I was carrying my Gregory Palisade 80 pack. That’s not because I had any extra gear. The pack was largely empty, and I had to leave my sleeping bag and jacket uncompressed to fill up the empty space. I brought the larger pack in case I got a kill. That way I would be able to carry out the meat.

I made my way into the pine forest, which was more open, and kept my eye out for signs. I didn’t have a specific spot in mind, so I had to figure out exactly where I was going to hunt. After some searching, I noticed a pattern in the direction of travel of the deer. There were a few rubs and crossing points that gave me the general direction.




It wasn’t sign of a huge buck, but it was a place to start. There was also some scat which looked like it may belong to a buck, although it was at least a few days old.


I made good progress, and in the early afternoon, stopped for lunch close to the part of the forest where I planned to hunt the next few days.


With sunset being at 5PM, soon after I started looking for a good camp site, which would offer me a direct route to an area where I could hunt in the morning. The fresh bear scat in the area gave me a pause, but it was too late to change plans.


I set up camp, and got dinner ready. It was a warm evening. I was a bit surprised, considering it had been snowing earlier in the week.


I spent the rest of the evening marking my way from camp to the spot where I was going to hunt in the morning, using biodegradable marking ribbon. Even though this is relatively open forest, if you travel out 50 yards from your tent, you will lose sight of it; 100 yards out, and you will have trouble making your way back.


Ironically, before getting into my tent for the night, I heard and then noticed that a bunch of turkeys were roosting in the trees next to my tent. The irony being that the Fall turkey season ended the day before. It’s as if they know, and come out to mock us.

The night was also warm. I had brought my Western Mountaineering Antelope MF 0F sleeping bag, which was overkill. Another thing I didn’t expect was the rain that started coming down during the night. I woke up around 5AM, and it was really coming down. When the sun came up, I got out to briefly to pick up my food bag, and then hunkered down in the tent, waiting for the rain to stop.


I hoped in vain that the rain would stop, but it just kept going. I personally don’t mind the rain, and typically backpack while it is raining, but the deer tend to bed down in weather like this, which makes spotting one difficult, particularly where I was. I came to this part of the forest because I think it is an area where the deer travel between their bedding areas and their food sources. The food sources usually tend to be fields and farms on private land, but I figured I can hunt them while they are on the move. Since they weren’t moving, there was nothing to hunt. When the rain didn’t stop after a few hours, I decided to get out anyway, and spend some time in the area I wanted to hunt.


As expected, no luck. I spent the rest of the day in the tent. I had myself some lunch in bed, and read from the book I had brought. I usually don’t bring things like books, but I expected periods of inactivity, and wanted to keep busy. The book? Early Riders: The Beginning of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe, by Robert Drews. If you like his other books, you’ll love this one.


I spent the rest of the day taking naps, reading, eating, and getting up to pee. When the sun started going down, I cooked dinner.


The following day was more of the same. The rain continued, getting even heavier at times. Fog blanketed the ridgeline where I had set up camp.


I mostly stayed in the tent and repeated the routine from the previous day.


I got out of the tent a few times to scout around and look at different spots. The trick in these forests is to find an area that is open enough where you can take advantage of the rifle, and be able to place a shot before a deer comes too close. Mostly, it was just a way to kill time.


Then, once again cooked dinner when the evening came, and went to sleep.


During the night the rain got even worse, turning into a storm. I figured I would have to walk out in some pretty bad weather in the worming and try to get out of the forest. However, around 4AM, the rain stopped. By the time I had packed up camp, you could even see some sunshine making its way through the trees.


It was day four in the woods, and I had to make my way out. I wasn’t in a rush however, so before starting, I spent a few hours early in the morning calling and waiting.


After being unsuccessful, I set out, heading west, and hoping to hit a ridgeline which would then take me out of the forest.


Eventually I made my way out of the pines, and entered into the deciduous part of the forest. I kept the rifle at the ready just in case. As a general rue of thumb, the moment you put the rifle away, you will accidentally run right into an eight pointer and beat yourself up for the next year. As I was walking, I noticed some fresh deer scat.


I was making good time, so I decided to stop again and spend a few more hours hunting the area. I set up near a dead tree, called, and waited. The weather was nice, and the ridge I had set up on was getting some nice sunshine.


After about two hours, I got up and continued on my way out of the forest. It was a very disappointing trip. Out of full four days, I only ended up hunting for a few hours on the last day. Not a good way to start the season.

For those of you who are interested, I had my usual backpacking gear with me. The “hunting” additions you can see in the picture below.


The rifle is a Savage 11-111 F in .308 with a Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40 scope. I also had a pair of Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x25 binoculars, a small bottle of doe urine, some marking ribbon, a Primos bleat in a can call, a Primos grunt tube, some T.A.G. bags (the B.O.M.B. kit) along with a few zip ties, and some Nose Jammer spray.

So, that’s it; a very uneventful trip. I wish I had something more interesting to share with you, but I don’t. I did get a chance to catch up on sleep, so I suppose that’s a plus.  

POV: Taking My Time

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

While leading one of my photo expedition-workshop, documenting a cultural festival or religious observance, I fall into a "photojournalist" mode, shooting the activities on instinct rather than anything else...when the action is really frenetic, it's a crap shoot to a certain extent. If my instinct fails me, the results show it. That's how it is, and I find the more I immerse myself into the event(s), I get more discerning as to what I manage to photograph. Researching the events beforehand helps a little, but never prepares you for the reality.

So it's with a sort of 'relief' that I find wonderfully photogenic people who allow me to enjoy the time-honored portraiture-making. Many times, I'm allowed to have all the time in the world in capturing the right mood, expression and attitude of my subjects.

The distinguished Sadhu-like man at the Nizzam Uddin dargah, the humble yet proud spice porter in Khari Baoli and the charismatic Qawwal Ustaad in Old Delhi, have all given me the time to capture what I perceived to be their essence through these simple portraits.

And since I had the time to fiddle with my settings, these portraits were made with a M9 and an Elmarit 28mm.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Igloo Building Photograph, 1924

The photograph was taken in 1924 and shows an Eskimo family building an Igloo.


It is amazing to think that 1924 wasn’t all that long ago. I’m not sure how much of those skills survive today.

Mary Berry's Whole Orange Spice Cake

Whole Orange Spice Cake
I took this recipe from Mary Berry's Christmas Collection cookery book which I've had since it first came out in 2006, although there is now an updated version.

It's an easy cake to make but one which requires using a food processor.  My small processor just coped with the amount of batter mix.
The skin was too thick and my orange had to be cooked for an hour or so
The orange should be a thin skinned variety otherwise it won't cook down enough in 20 minutes and will process into hard chunks of orange.

It's a huge cake, well it is for 2 people, I think it will feed 12 easily and because it freezes well without the icing sugar topping, it makes a very inexpensive cake to feed a crowd over Christmas and New Year. If I made the cake again I'd definitely make some type of orange topping rather than the dusting of icing sugar. The cake is very light and moist and I served my cake with double cream.

The star template is reusable and came in an assorted pack from Lidl.

I line the base and sides of my sandwich tins
 to ensure the cake doesn't stick to the tin
The recipe can be found on the Mary Berry website.