As you all probably know, I love tea. I have a cupboard full of teas at my parent’s house and a cupboard full at mine and Matt’s too. Twining’s heard of my addiction and decided to feed it some more. They sent me a box of goodies to try out including a pick and mix tea selection and this beautiful Dawn Chorus mug from their Portmerion collection.
The first three in my teapot?
Limited Edition Jasmine Earl Grey - I was lucky enough to be given the Blossom LE Earl Grey as a gift a while back and I’ve been keen to try out the other flavours ever since.
As I poured the hot water in, the Jasmine aroma hit me and I already knew this was a winner. The bergamot tones of the Earl Grey are still quite distinct but the addition of Jasmine really brings this tea to another level. Obviously it’s a floral blend so if that’s your thing, I really urge you to try this!
Rose Garden – one of my favourite things in the world is Rose flavoured Turkish delight. This tea is liquid gold to me. I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying a caddy of this. I’d suggest that Earl Grey drinkers would like this alternative, perfumed brew.
Ceylon – Probably the brightest, freshest black tea I’ve ever tried. Worth a try if you find English Breakfast a little too full bodied.
All three of the above teas are very versatile, they’re great both black or with a touch of milk. I imagine they’d make wonderful iced teas in Summer (Twining’s have a really helpful how to make tea section if you’re unsure).
I’m really looking forward to making my way through the rest of the box, mainly the white teas - white with a hint of pomegranate sounds right up my street. I love the idea of these pick and mix boxes, they’re a great way to try new blends and would make a well thought out gift or treat for yourself.
My Mum makes the most delicious bread, last week’s bake was ciabatta and I was dying to turn it in to garlic bread but we just didn’t have the time. It was to go with pasta and the meal was already done. I decided I needed to make some garlic oil so that I could slather her next batch in it. This is how it’s done…
The amount of oil you need obviously depends on the size of your bottle. I’m using a Kilner preserving bottle from TK Maxx that set me back a whole £1.99. It’s important to sterilise it before use – there’s a quick guide here if you’re unsure how. As for garlic, I suggest one small head per 250ml.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and get peeling all that papery casing from your cloves and chop off any woody bits at the bottom.
Place the cloves a single layer in an oven proof dish/roasting tin or even a skillet pan and cover with the olive oil.
It’s time for the oven. After 10mins, turn the oven off and leave your garlic in there for another 20mins. When you take it out make sure you use oven gloves, it will still be rather hot.
Once your done, pour the oil in to the bottle using a funnel.
Don’t throw away the roasted garlic! Whilst it’s been in the oven it’s developed a beautiful sweet, soft flavour. It’s delicious smoooshed on to bread, added to mashed potatoes, with a cheese board or if you’re a garlic lover just on it’s own. It will happily keep it in a separate jar in the fridge and I guarantee it won’t last long.
This is a place to experiment. What would you use most in your kitchen? Rosemary is a lovely complement to the roasted garlic. Basil infused olive oil would be yummy over a salad, perhaps you like things hot and would fly through chili oil. A set of three home made oils would make a lovely gift for any foodie.
Other than garlic bread, what’s the oil good for?
Add to mashed potatoes instead of butter
Drizzle in soup Use as a dipping oil Use as a salad dressing
A word of warning; DO NOT skip the roasting step. If you try making infused oil by leaving raw garlic in olive oil it poses a massive botulism risk. Cooking it, sterilising the jar and storing it in the fridge might seem like an unnecessary amount of caution but it really isn’t worth the risk.
When it comes to skin care I’m lazy. Like really lazy, but I feel like I have come up with the holy trinity. Cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising, in one snippy little minute that even the tiredest person could manage.
I was lucky enough to receive some Sanctuary vouchers from the wonderful Sarirah just before Christmas. It wasn’t a brand I was very familiar with, I’d always imagined it was out of my price range so I’d left it well alone. It turns out it wasn’t at all what I’d expected – it’s actually quite affordable yet the products still feel very luxurious.
Amongst the goodies I bought was their Ultimate Facial Cleansing Oil. I’d seen a lot of hype about oil cleansing and I wanted to know what the fuss was about. I really didn’t think my combination/oily skin would get on with it, but I had the vouchers so what was there to lose?
One week in I knew I was mistaken. Oil plus oil equals less oil apparently. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. My skin was clearing up but there wasn’t any tight, dryness that I’ve always associated with high street products designed to attack oily skin.
The Sanctuary oil reminds me a lot of Elemis Melting Cleansing Gel (£21), my previous cleansing love. It starts off as a peculiar rich oil then as you add the water, it emulsifies to become a soothing milk. Oh so gently fragranced and very delicate on your skin.
You’ll remember a while ago I was looking for a cleansing gadget to help me commit to a skin care routine. I chose the iSkin in the end purely down to cost and I think I made the right choice. Right now it lives at mine and Matt’s house and when I’m at my Parent’s I use my scrub gloves to very gently do the same job.
If I team these with my Sanctuary cleansing oil and use my flash balm, I’m there. Perfectly balanced skin, always silky smooth, less blemishes and fewer products to buy. A skin care routine that even the laziest/busiest can stick with and most days I can skip my moisturiser – naughty me.
I love M&S’s Rice and Lentil salad with Aubergine, but I’ve always been a bit miffed by how little aubergine it has in it. Surely if it’s in the title it should be one of the main ingredients? Anyway, luckily it really isn’t needed in this salad, there’s already so much flavour and texture going on that it would almost be a waste to hide it amongst the rest. It’s about time I learnt to recreate this little beauty and show you how it’s done.
To make enough for 4 lunches, just mix together:
150g green lentils, cooked and cool
150g Wild Rice, cooked and cooled
1/2 Red pepper, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 spring onion, diced
2 Cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
A small handful of parsley
It’s a perfect side dish as we head in to Summer I can imagine it sitting perfectly alongside some chargrilled chicken and a bit like my tuna pasta salad, it’s a healthy, easy lunch to make ahead for the week. The bonus? M&S pack 145 calories in to 100g where as mine has just 82.
I always know it’s nearly time for Matt’s Birthday when hot cross buns appear in the shops, they’re my favourite Easter food. I have them toasted and slathered with butter, perfect with a cup of tea.
We tend to buy quite a few packs during the Easter period but I’ve never had a go at making any. It was time to change that when Bakingmad.com put me up to an Easter themed challenge. The following recipe is taken from their website here.
250 grams Very Strong White Bread Flour
250 grams Very Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour
1 sachet Easy Bake Yeast
1 tsp Mixed Spice
1 tsp Salt
50 grams Golden Caster Sugar
250 ml Milk
100 grams Raisins, sultanas or currants
Zest of 1 Orange
50 gramsshortcrust pastry
Egg wash to finish
Put the flour, sugar, spice, yeast and salt into a bowl. Stir in the milk, butter and egg to form a soft dough. Mix in the dried fruits of your choice along with the zest of the orange.
Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
Place in a clean bowl and cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove. The dough will double in size, this can take up to an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas Mark 6. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape then place on a lightly floured baking tray.
Brush with egg wash and finish the buns with a cross made from the shortcrust pastry. Glaze once more and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Mine came out a little more “rustic” than I’d have liked but there are lessons to be learnt for next time. I’d definitely bake these little beauties again for their flavour alone. It looks like Baking Mad were happy with my efforts at least – this box of goodies arrived for me:
They have lots of other ideas for baking this Easter including some awesome Easter egg recipes that I wasn’t brave enough to try. What will you be making?