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Lindt Cherry Intense Chocolate

By 15 April 2014 Food, Life, Lifestyle
Cherrylicious - Lindt Cherry

A couple of weeks ago I got a cryptic message on Twitter asking my opinion on cherry chocolate. Luckily I love cherry chocolate and so this little parcel came in the post! Thanks Sally!

Inside the Jiffy bag of dreams was a bar of the brand new Lindt Excellence Cherry Intense Chocolate and a little box containing a chocolate cherry. The chocolate is divine. It’s a rich dark chocolate that Lindt are famous for with little pieces of cherry and almond inside. Yum yum yum!

Lindt Excellence Cherry Intense

My favourite cherry flavoured chocolate treat hails from down under. The Cherry Ripe is, according to Cadbury, Australia’s oldest chocolate bar. It’s cherry pieces mixed in with coconut and then covered in dark chocolate. I suppose it’s a bit like a mix between a raspberry Ruffle (remember those?) and a Bounty but with cherry. Basically, it’s awesome! And I’m very sad that Cadbury UK don’t make them. I used to pick one up when I visited London because there was the Australia Shop in Covent Garden. Sadly, the shop is now closed. You can order them online but I really don’t want to pay silly money for a chocolate bar, however delicious they are.
Cherry Ripe
So I’m really pleased that this Lindt Cherry Intense is available now. It’s totally not the same as a Cherry Ripe but it’s still very good.

What do you think about cherry chocolate? Have you tried this new flavour?

If you want to try it, you can buy yours here.

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Recipe: Homemade Pizza (and it’s healthy!)

By 6 April 2014 Food, General, Home Cooking, Life, Lifestyle
Homemade pizza with smokey paprika tomato paste, parma ham, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatos and reduced fat mozzarella.

I LOVE pizza! But the problem with shop-bought or takeway pizza is that it’s normally covered in cheese and/or olive oil. Now don’t get me wrong, I love cheese too! But I’m trying to lose weight so that’s hardly ideal. There is cheese on this healthy pizza but it’s reduced fat mozzarella.

This recipe is really easy and there’s a definite satisfaction of making your own.

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C with your baking tray or pizza stone in it. (This helps to cook the bottom of your pizza.)
  2. Weigh out 200g of plain flour, you don’t need anything special; I use Sainsbury’s Basics, which costs just 55p for 1.5kg. Add half a 7g sachet of fast action yeast and a pinch of salt. Measure 200ml of tepid water and slowly add it to the dry ingredients, mixing as you go. You won’t need all the water so don’t add it all at once.
  3. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, use plenty of flour on your worktop as I normally find it’s quite sticky.
  4. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with cling film. Leave for 20 minutes or so to prove.
  5. Turn the dough back out onto the worktop and knock out the air. Divide the mixture into two and roll out each half. It can be quite thin so just roll it to a shape that best fits your tray. Put each pizza base on a piece of baking paper so it’s easy to move and doesn’t get stuck to your tray or pizza stone. Belazu smoked paprika and tomato paste. Great for pizza topping.
  6. Now for the topping. About half a jar of Belazu smoked paprika tomato paste mixed with about a tablespoon of tomato puree is plenty for both pizzas. For a really smokey flavour you could just use the Belazu paste but it’s a little pricey so combining it with regular tomato puree that most people have in the cupboard at home makes it go further.
  7. Slice up roasted red pepper from a jar (avoid the ones in oil), a couple of slices of parma ham, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a ball of reduced fat mozzarella. I use the Sainsbury’s Be Good to Yourself one. Divide the topping between the two pizzas and arrange how you want. Thinking about it, it would be nice to add a few leaves of fresh basil too.
  8. Transfer each pizza onto the preheated baking tray, or pizza stone if you have one, and cook for about 15 minutes.

Serve with a fresh green salad.

This recipe is enough to feed four if you serve the pizza with lots of salad and perhaps some garlic bread, but really it’s best for two!

Shopping List

  • Plain flour
  • Fast action yeast
  • Belazu Smoked Paprika and Tomato Paste
  • Tomato puree
  • Karyatis Roasted Red Peppers (or similar)
  • Parma ham (San Daniele or any other cured ham would work just as well)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Reduced Fat Mozzarella Ball
  • Fresh Basil

The best thing about homemade pizza is that you can top it with what you like. Sweetcorn, mushrooms, pineapple – whatever floats your boat. It’s also not your normal ‘diet food’ so hubby will happily eat it too! This pizza still feels like a treat and it tastes amazing.

Do you make your own pizza? What’s your favourite topping?

Rachel x

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A Lovely Cuppa of Jing Tea

By 9 March 2014 Food, Life, Lifestyle
A lovely cuppa of Jing |

Being British and drinking tea pretty much goes hand in hand.  We’ve been drinking the stuff since the 17th century.  When King Charles II married the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza, who loved tea, this hot drink was introduced to the English court before spreading among the upper classes as the drink of choice.

I’ve been drinking tea for about 20 years and enjoy trying new varieties, although the cost of buying a whole box of tea can be prohibitive.  There’s nothing worse than spending good money on something which you don’t like.  I’ve usually stuck with good old English Breakfast or Earl Grey but have also enjoyed Ceylon and Darjeeling from Whittards.  Last month, I had a lovely cuppa in the Lavender Tea House with a tea I’d never even heard of before, let alone tried.  I must be getting adventurous in my old age!

Flowering Jasmine and Lily Green TeaSo when I was contacted by the lovely Sally, asking if I’d heard of Jing Tea and if I wanted to try some, I jumped at the chance.  Jing Tea’s strap line is ‘the definitive tea experience’ and they offer a huge range of fine teas including black tea, white tea and herbal tea.  They even do funky flowering teas!

I was asked which I wanted to try so after scouring their website I decided to go for the Assam Breakfast and Nilgiri Frost loose, whole leaf teas.  A parcel arrived via Fed Ex and hubby thought it was an empty box as it was so light!
But inside was a special treat – my tea!  All beautifully wrapped.

Gift wrapped box of Jing Tea |
And inside the box…
Inside the box, Jing Tea |

Pot of tea for one |

The Jing Assam Breakfast tea is lovely; although it’s a strong tea it has a subtle flavour. The Nilgiri Frost is a little different. The first time I tried it I think it was over-brewed; there was a bit of a bitter after taste, however I tried it again with water that wasn’t boiling and then I only let it brew for the recommended 3 minutes and it was much nicer. Still a little bitter but certainly drinkable. I drank both with milk.

Jing Tea is served in top hotels and restaurants, so enjoying a cup of Jing is a little bit of luxury in your own home or office. I’m not sure I’d spend the money on it myself, but as a treat or gift it would be perfect. A 50g bag of the Assam Breakfast, which according to Jing makes 34 cups is £4.65. Thinking about it, that’s not too bad considering we spend that on a box of Tassimo coffee pods that only makes 8 cups. So really it’s a bargain! I take it back, I would probably buy some of this tea in the future. I need a new infuser though, as washing out a tea pot is a pain in the bum!

Have you ever tried Jing Tea? I’d love to hear what your favourite tea is and how you drink it.

 photo ezgif-save_zps9b8b4fba.gif

Rachel x

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Spicy Valentine’s: Copper and Spices, Indian Restaurant in Folkestone

By 17 February 2014 Eating Out, Food, Restaurant Review
Spicy Valentine's: Dinner at Copper and Spices Indian Restaurant Folkestone.

Yes sorry another Valentine’s Day post! But don’t despair, this one isn’t all lovey-dovey and vomit inducing. No. Instead I’m going to tell you about our scrummy Indian dinner at Copper and Spices. We actually ate there on Saturday 15th as it wasn’t intended to be a special Valentine’s dinner but a family dinner with the in-laws. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to make it so it was just hubby and I.

As it’s a tiny, intimate restaurant with just 6 tables they get booked up pretty quickly. Having left it until Tuesday to book we had the choice of 5.30pm or 8.30pm. Since 5.30 is pretty early for dinner, we went for 8.30. But this is about 2 hours later than we normally eat so it was starting to feel pretty late by the time we left the house. I know, we live such a rock n roll lifestyle!

We had a choice of the regular menu or the special Valentine’s menu, which was far too much food for us! As it turned out we got to try a few items off the special menu as it was, so we did pretty well.

We chose the Vegetarian Plate to share as a starter, followed by Saag Waala Gosht and a garlic and coriander naan for me and Lamb Tikka Biryani for hubby.

Poppadums and chutney at Copper and Spices, Folkestone

While we were waiting for our starter we were brought some mini poppadums and chutney, which were very tasty, and then the chef brought us out an amuse bouche each to try. Mine was venison and hubby’s was duck. They were delicious little parcels of mouth amusement! Plus, they were served on cute little heart slates

Remains of my starter at Copper and Spices Folkestone

The starter was also served on a heart-shaped slate, I feel a theme here! As you can see from the photo of our empty plate, I’ll never be a food blogger. I love food too much to remember to take a pic before digging in!

Here’s one I remembered though!
Dessert plate at Copper and Spices, Folkestone
Hubby and I shared this dessert because it sounded too good to pass up yet we were pretty stuffed. In the cocktail glass is saffron rice pudding, the heart-shaped dessert is carrot cake and of course there are strawberries dipped in chocolate. The rice pudding in particular was absolutely gorgeous. Saffron is such a fragrant spice.

Rachel Birchley at Copper and Spices, Folkestone

We had a lovely meal. The staff were very attentive and keen to help us understand the menu and the ingredients. I was even given a red rose to take home by the chef! All this made it even more embarrassing that we’d forgotten to get cash out for a tip! But, rest assured I shall be getting some money out and popping it through the door with a card! I can’t bear not leaving a tip when the service and food was so excellent. We’ll definitely be back to Copper and Spices.

Rachel x

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Lunch at the Lavender Tea House

By 2 February 2014 Cafe, Eating Out, Folkestone, Food, Life
Tea for one at the Lavender Tea House, Folkestone

The Lavender Tea House was a warm and cosy retreat from the hideous downpour outside. I’ve been meaning to give this place a go since it opened but it’s so teeny tiny, I’ve always felt a little intimidated. I don’t know why because it was lovely and the ladies running the place are lovely too!

There are maybe only 7 or 8 tables in this historic building. It has a real ‘shabby chic’ feel with light coloured walls, pastel accents, bunting and mismatched chairs.

Lavender Tea House Folkestone

Their tea menu is impressive, I went for the Blue Lady, which is named after the ghost in Pluckley, a Kent village that is supposedly the most haunted village in England. The tea was served on a wooden tray with vintage china. As it’s loose leaf tea you get a mini sieve to use too. My tea smelt delicious. It was very citrusy and also contained exotic flowers. There was no need for milk. I got three cups from the pot, not bad for £1.95!

Tea tray at Lavender Tea House

I was pretty hungry when I went in so I ordered a cheese sandwich. Not the most exciting choice, granted. Their menu contained jacket potatoes, soup, tarts (the pesto and goats cheese tart sounded particularly tempting), sausage and mash, and various breakfast options. My sandwich was scrummy. Two doorstop slices of soft, fresh brown bread containing cheddar cheese, sweet, homemade chutney and salad leaves. Also on the plate was homemade coleslaw, that had turned mauve from the red cabbage and a handful of cheese and onion crisps. The cutlery came in a jar adorned with a pretty pink ribbon tied in a bow.

The Lavender Tea House serves delicious food, tasty drinks and all at reasonable prices, bearing in mind it’s all fresh, homemade food. The surroundings are so pretty; it was a joy to while away some time holed up in the warm and dry. As I was leaving, some ladies arrived to set up for a baby shower. This cafe would be a lovely place for an intimate party.

I’ll definitely be back. Not sure it’s somewhere hubby would appreciate, probably best for a girls’ lunch with my sister.

Rachel x

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