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Because life’s too short not to take out the fine china.

I’ve become a lady who lunches, on occasion now. I’ve been regularly meeting up with a few other ladies in the village for coffee, cake, soup, that sort of thing, over the last few months. I’ve really been enjoying our chats and get-togethers. It’s easy, I think, to become so busy and tired with work and home life that we forget to nourish our friendships.

It was my turn to host during our last get-together, and so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to break out the fine china. You know, that stuff that only gets taken out on really special occasions (ie: I’ve not touched it once since I was sent the set to include in a blog post months and months ago!).

Afternoon Tea it would be, complete with cucumber sandwiches, tiny cakes and plenty of tea.

In a moment of inspiration, I decided to make cupcakes. It’s been awhile since I made cupcakes and I fancied getting creative. Scouring my cupboard I found a Tupperware container with broken pieces of white chocolate left over from decorating my gluten-free creme egg brownie recipe and the remains of some gold chocolate curls at the bottom of a Cake Angels Sweetie Pie Sprinkles container. An idea was born.


If anything, you need to try this frosting. There’s enough in this recipe to pile quite high on top of your cupcakes (or to frugally ice two dozen cakes) or even to frost a 9 inch two tier cake. This frosting is ah-maz-ing, and I reckon one of the nicest, lightest and fluffiest frostings I’ve ever made.

Truth be told I was sceptical when I was experimenting with it; I thought the chocolate was going to harden too quickly and not work, but really, for you white chocolate lovers – you’re going to fall head over heels with this stuff. It totally works.

I thought that the white chocolate frosting would be a bit too sweet too, so I wanted something tart to cut through it, so I decided to fill the cupcakes with raspberry jam. Make sure you use a good quality raspberry jam for the filling too – something with loads of fruit.

A word on my fine china – isn’t it fabulous! It’s a collection of Spode Blue Italian that I was sent, complimentary, to create an Afternoon Tea blog post around some time ago. I created a trio of sandwiches for that blog post, although for this particular get-together we only had two varieties: smoked salmon and cream cheese, and cucumber sandwiches. One of my friends made the cucumber sandwiches loosely based on a recipe she’d seen from The Pioneer Woman.

I also served up some homemade banana bread I’d made a few weeks ago and had frozen. Of course, there were fruit scones with jam and cream (ok I was lazy here and bought ones from the Walls Bakery instead!) topping half with jam then cream, and the other half with cream then jam, to make sure everyone would be happy. Mini Battenburg cakes and Bonne Maman lemon tarts (don’t buy these tarts, they’re awful) finished off the ensemble.

We enjoyed two whole pots of Seville orange black tea with our Afternoon Tea, and my friends (and children, when they taste tested the cupcakes when they got home from school) loved the cupcakes. I hadn’t intended on blogging the recipe, really, I was just faffing about practising taking pictures with my camera, just in case, but I reckon these cupcakes are just too good not to share.

What do you serve at your Afternoon Tea parties with friends? Let me know in the comments!

Raspberry Filled Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting
A light and fluffy vanilla cupcake filled with tart raspberry jam and topped with the creamiest white chocolate frosting. Gold chocolate curls finish them off elegantly.
    Servings12 cupcakes
    Prep Time15 minutes
    Cook Time20 minutes
    for the raspberry filled vanilla cupcakes
    for the white chocolate frosting
    to decorate
    1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 160 C fan. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cupcake cases.
    2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
    3. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well combined.
    4. Add the vanilla and salt and stir well.
    5. Sift over the flour and fold in with the milk to form a soft dropping consistency.
    6. Spoon into the prepared baking cases and bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes or until well risen and golden. A skewer inserted in the middle of the cake will come out clean when ready. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
    7. To prepare the frosting break the chocolate into a small heatproof bowl and suspend over a pan of barely simmering water to melt. Leave it to cool to room temperature.
    8. Beat together the softened butter and the icing sugar until light and creamy. Add the melted, cooled white chocolate and beat, adding enough double cream to reach the desired consistency.
    9. When the cupcakes..
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    In collaboration with Garda Trentino S.p.A. Tourism Board.

    Travel stories. We love to tell them. The best thing about travel stories is that you get to live the adventure first, and then relive it each time you tell the story.

    Hotel Luise in Riva del Garda has been telling travel stories since 1959, and they have a collection of over 1800 suitcase travel labels from all over the world to prove it. These labels were collected by Stella, owner and manager of the Hotel Luise, and 350 of them are on display in their hall. To keep the tradition of travel labels going they commission a local artist to design one for them each year.

    The recently refurbished rooms in Hotel Luise make for a perfect base when visiting Riva del Garda and the surrounding area; a home away from home.

    There is a distinct ‘travel’ theme with Hotel Luise, from the quirky little car parked out front, the Vespa in the hall to the travel themed artwork adorning the walls.

    The hotel itself was built in 1959 by Rina and Eugenia Bertolini. It began as thirty rooms and a restaurant, but due to the hard work and dedication put in by Rina and Eugenia’s son Alberto and his wife Stella when they took over in 1990, they are now a flourishing four-star hotel.

    I stayed at the Hotel Luise for four nights last summer, and I have to say I was really impressed by everything about the place. Staff were very friendly and welcoming, making me feel very at ease upon arrival.

    It didn’t take very long to check me in and I was shown to my room… the bicycle room.


    Vintage Italian design and a love of cycling meet in the Hotel Luise Bicycle Room. The room features a cosy double bed for crawling into at the end of a day’s adventuring, blessedly cooling air conditioning (it was 36 C the week I visited!), a well-stocked minibar with local beer and snacks and a decent wifi connection too. There’s plenty of storage space for your luggage too – drawers and hangers for clothes and a safe, if needed.

    I really loved the decor in this room, especially the leather bicycle saddle and handlebar ‘Bull’s head’ above the bed. This is suggestive of Pablo Picasso’s Tête de taureau, created in 1942, and was a nice little feature.

    My room overlooked Lake Garda, which was only a few minutes walk away.

    The bathroom has a powerful hot shower and organic, locally produced toiletries as well as a soft and comfortable bathrobe, slippers and a hair drier. Tea and coffee making facilities are available so you can have your cosy morning cuppa while lounging in your bathrobe before you head out for another day’s adventure.

    If the Bicycle Room is not quite to your taste, there’s also a Type Room, featuring vintage typewriters, and a Map Room with or without a balcony overlooking the garden. Those with a higher budget might be interested in the Room with a View on the top floor of the hotel, with views overlooking the lake and mountains.

    Prices for the Bicycle Room start from €89 per night.


    I have to say, I really looked forward to breakfast every day I stayed at Hotel Luise. They do the best breakfast buffet! Everything you could imagine is included, and it’s all incredibly fresh and delicious. They’ve got all manner of filled croissants, which was one of my favourite items; I had to try a different one each morning with my coffee(s). There’s fresh fruit, freshly squeezed fruit juices, yoghurts, muesli, cereals, cooked breakfasts, cheese and cold meats, homemade bread, toast, cakes, pastries, cookies, bacon, salmon… and so much more!

    Enjoy your breakfasts either indoors, or outdoors on La Veranda. Alternatively, you can order room service!

    Breakfast at Luise - YouTube


    Hotel Luise also has a lunch and evening menu, but I never dined there for those as I was out exploring the region elsewhere. They also have a wine bar, which I’m vexed I missed out on as I have heard very good things about this bar. Apparently, they will speak with you for awhile to find out what you’re like, and then design an aperitivo especially for you. They claim that a good bartender is like a psychologist, creating the right drink for the right person at precisely the right moment.

    Don’t fancy a dip in the lake but still want to cool off? The Hotel Luise swimming pool opens early. Alternatively, just enjoy the warmth of the sun while relaxing on a lounger, nipping for a drink or a bite to eat at La Veranda Pool Bar.

    Hotel Luise is a perfect base for families. During the summer months, there are arts and crafts Summer Club activities on throughout the day for children. If you’re needing a little break or want to enjoy one of those long, lingering Italian al fresco dinners in the garden with your partner (or even on your own), they even offer babysitting services; you just need to let them know a day in advance.

    If you want to explore the surrounding area by bicycle, Hotel Luise offers their guests free bicycle hire. Just ask at the desk. They’ll even pack a picnic lunch for you if you want.

    I really enjoyed my stay at Hotel Luise in Riva del Garda. Staff were very friendly and attentive and answered my myriad of questions without hesitation. I can wholeheartedly recommend that you should stay at Hotel Luise if you’ve visiting Riva del Garda, you won’t be disappointed.

    To find out more, visit the Hotel Luise website, and find them on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget your suitcase travel label when you leave!

    Behind Hotel Luise - YouTube

    Elizabeth was a guest of Garda Trentino S.p.A. Tourism Board during her visit to Riva del Garda. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are her own.

    The post Hotel Luise, Riva del Garda: Travel Stories since 1959 appeared first on Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

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    Issue 27 of our bite-sized review series.

    One of the many perks of being a food blogger is the opportunities we get to try so many new and wonderful things from around the world. In our latest bite-sized review series, we taste test beetroot stem chutney from Walls, Shetland, street food from India, ghee from the Netherlands, tea and spices from Spain, desert salt from Africa and explore the recipes in a new cookery book from the USA.

    Aunt Kitty’s Beetroot Stem Chutney

    This was a delightful little find at last week’s Cafe in the Kirk in Walls, Shetland. Every Friday volunteers at the kirk host lunch of soup served with oatcakes or homemade bannocks, with a wide range of cake and sweets for after. It’s a great place to catch up with folk and enjoy a home cooked lunch for a good cause.

    Last week, I spied Kathleen Hazell selling her range of jams, jellies and chutneys and I picked up a bottle of this beetroot stem chutney. This is, seriously, one of the best chutneys I have ever, ever tasted. It’s perfect with cheese and crackers (and maybe a little side bowl of olives for nibbling). Her jumbleberry jam is rather incredibly moreish too. Prices are around £2 a bottle, depending on its size. She’s always after empty jars for her preserves, so if you do visit make sure to take her some. The cafe is open 11-2 on Fridays at the Walls Methodist Church, Shetland.

    The Spice Tailor Street Food Kits

    I believe there is definitely a time and a place for meal kits. Our modern busy lifestyle often means there’s just not enough time to make family meals from scratch, but we still want that homemade taste. Inspired by the streets of India, use these street food kits to create a delicious meal at home with a burst of tastes and textures in every bite. There are three flavours available: tangy punjabi, spicy chettinad and a classic tandoori. Each kit contains everything you need except your choice of protein and either fresh onion or yoghurt. Each kit retails for around £3.90 and you can find them in leading supermarkets.

    Ghee-Easy Clarified Butter

    In Ayurvedic teachings, ghee has been the fat used for cooking for thousands of years. Made from organic Dutch butter from grass-fed cows, Ghee Easy has a high combustible temperature and is perfect for cooking. Ghee is prepared by separating the fat (clarified butter) from the milk solids. It contains Omega-3 and Omega-9 in the perfect ratio as well as vitamins A, D, E and K. As it is a pure butter oil it is lactose-free, and therefore suitable for those with a lactose intolerance. Ghee Easy costs €10.65 for 500 grams, with free shipping from the Netherlands on purchases over €30.

    Meeting Point Sevilla – Triana Market Experience Subscription Box

    Here we have a new monthly subscription box from sunny Spain. The Triana neighbourhood of Sevilla is full of local history and lore, but the Mercado de Triana is an experience in itself.

    Nestled in a district well known for centuries of ceramic history and invention, you’ll also find a unique array of spices, teas, fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses central to Sevillan cuisine. This box will take you on a virtual tour of this special place.

    This beautifully wrapped box featured three delicious teas, three spice blends and a gorgeous Cerámica de Triana teacup from the Triana Market. The teas were Té de Naranja de Sevilla, a black tea prepared with essences from the peel of Sevilla’s famous bitter oranges; Té Aires de Sevilla, an intense blend of Sencha green tea, black tea, orange, local orange blossom, jasmine and roses and Té Leyendas de la Giralda, a red tea with cinnamon and lemon rind.  The spice blends were Pimentón de la Vera, smoked paprika; a spice mix for Andalusian-style paella, and an adobo spice marinade. Recipes were provided for each. Each monthly box costs €44.99, with free shipping to Europe, North and South America.

    Oryx Desert Salt

    Oryx Desert Salt is a natural, crystal-white salt sustainably harvested from the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. It is unrefined, sun-dried, and free of additives and preservatives, just as it was 8000 years ago when it was traded, ounce for ounce, for gold.

    They also produce a range of flavoured salts – there’s a gorgeous French oak smoked variety and a wine salt infused with Shiraz red wine. Each of their salt grinders is ceramic and are good for at least ten refills. A 3 x 50-gram gift set of desert salt, smoked salt and red wine salt in grinders, plus a refill of the coarse salt costs £12.99

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    In collaboration with Ísey Skyr, the original Icelandic Skyr.

    If you’re looking for a quick and easy effortless dessert that has just the right amount of buttery chocolatey crunch and a light and fluffy filling, look no more – introducing my no-bake chocolate nut tarts with Icelandic skyr recipe!

    I’ve only ever spent five hours in Iceland, en route while emigrating from Canada to Scotland way back in ’99. My flight transferred at Keflavik International Airport, and all I remember is that it was dark, snowing and there was a giant soft drink’s billboard at the end of a field. I’ve been vowing to go back ever since, especially after seeing the photographs my friend Barry Broadbent took on a recent visit (reproduced with permission, below).

    Iceland is appearing more on our radar these days, not only with the cloud of volcanic ash that rained down on us Shetland inhabitants in 2010 when Eyjafjallajökull erupted, the emergence of some seriously popular Icelandic crime dramas like Trapped and I Remember You, and the fact that two Icelandic actors appeared in this week’s episode of the BBC crime drama Shetland, but with the fact that Icelandic skyr is appearing on our supermarket shelves.

    Icelandic Skyr

    Ísey Skyr is Iceland’s secret to healthy living. Icelandic people have been eating it daily for centuries – and they have the longest lifespan in Europe! This dairy product, unique to Iceland, has a deliciously rich flavour and a thick, creamy texture due to the special process with which it is made, which ensures the valuable whey proteins are kept. It is high in protein, virtually fat-free and available in vanilla, strawberry, mango and blueberry flavours.

    Ísey is a beautiful woman’s name in Iceland, meaning Ice + Island, and in honour of all the women who have passed on Iceland’s secret to healthy living from generation to generation, they’ve named their dairy product Ísey Skyr.

    Many imitations have appeared on the market, but Ísey Skyr is the original recipe. It’s produced in Iceland, using milk from local farmers across the country, and it makes for a rather delicious snack for children and adults alike. It also makes a rather fantastic filling for these no-bake chocolate nut tarts.


    This recipe is really easy to make – all you do is whizz up some raw almonds, cashews, cocoa powder, and cacao nibs with a little bit of dark brown muscovado sugar and stir in some melted butter (or coconut oil) to hold it all together. Press the mixture into some individual tart tins and freeze for ten minutes while you get on with the filling.

    For the filling, lightly beat some light double cream, sift in some icing sugar to sweeten (just a smidge!) and fold in the Ísey Skyr along with some melted and cooled white chocolate.

    Spoon the filling into the tart bases, drizzle with some melted dark chocolate and garnish with fresh fruit and a mint sprig, if desired. Refrigerate for a few hours to that the filling firms up a bit, and serve!

    My family are the official taste-testers behind all the recipes on my blog, and my husband said these tarts taste just like summer. There’s a perfect balance of chocolate crunch in the base with the creamy not-too-sweet filling and the crunch of the dark chocolate drizzle.

    You can find 170-gram pots of Ísey Skyr in Waitrose and Aldi, while 1 kg tubs of natural Ísey Skyr can be found in Costco. Click here to find out where your nearest stockist is. Don’t forget to follow Ísey Skyr on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and visit their recipes page for some more inspiring ideas!

    Have you ever been to Iceland, or is Ísey Skyr part of your healthy lifestyle? Let me know in the comments!

    No Bake Chocolate Nut Tarts with Icelandic Skyr
    This quick and easy dessert taste like summer. It features a chocolate nut crunch base and a light fluffy filling made with the original Icelandic Ísey Skyr. A drizzle of dark chocolate and a fruit garnish finishes it off perfectly.
      Servings4 tarts
      Prep Time15 minutes
      Passive Time2 hours
      for the no bake chocolate nut base
      for the filling
      to garnish
      1. To prepare the base, place the nuts, cocoa, sugar and cacao nibs into a small food processor and process until fine.
      2. Melt the butter (or coconut butter) and mix with the chocolate nut mixture until well combined.
      3. Divide into four individual lightly greased non-stick tart tins, pressing the mixture into the base and up the sides.
      4. Pop into the freezer for ten minutes while you prepare the filling.
      5. Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow to cool to room temperature.
      6. Lightly beat the double cream until peaks form. Sift in the icing sugar and carefully fold in the Ísey Skyr and melted, cooled white chocolate.
      7. Remove the chocolate nut tart bases from the tins and arrange on a serving plate.
      8. Divide the filling evenly between the four tart bases.
      9. Melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and leave to cool to room temperature.
      10. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the top of the tarts, decorate with fruit and refrigerate for a few hours until firm.

      This is a sponsored recipe post for Ísey Skyr, although all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to do what I love: mess up my kitchen and share recipe stories.

      The post No Bake Chocolate Nut Tarts with Icelandic Skyr appeared first on Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

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      Fundraising for Cancer Research UK.

      I have learned how to slow down time! Have a biopsy and try to wait patiently to find out if you’ve got cancer or not. Those seconds will tick by on the clock like they are hours. Days feel like weeks.

      This is more of a personal post than you might be used to if you’re a regular reader to my blog, but I think after keeping this to myself for the last four months, I’m ready to share it with you. It is now part of my story and I could use your help.

      It was a Friday evening near the end of October last year. I was sitting cosied up in bed with my book, having recently returned from a rather fantastic press trip to Aruba in the Caribbean. I was reading book 3 of the Outlander series, Voyager, where the main protagonists had also made the journey from Scotland to the Caribbean, albeit not on a ten-hour flight like I did.

      They’d just been shipwrecked.

      I casually rubbed my the side of my face as I read, my hand absently brushing down the fleshy part of my left cheek.

      I found a lump.

      Now, I tend to be a bit of a worrier at the best of times (seriously, I’ve spent the last few years working on not allowing my active imagination to jump from zero to sixty in 0.3 seconds), but I was determined I was not going to worry about this. I’m fit and healthy, I try and take reasonably good care of myself. There would be a non-life threatening explanation for this painless pea-sized lump in my inner cheek.

      I had to wait until Monday to see my GP, who stated honestly, and quite matter of factly: “I don’t know what that is. Go see your dentist.”

      So that Friday I went and saw my dentist. He thought it might be a blocked salivary gland, and said he was going to refer me to the ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialist on the mainland. He also said he was going to write suspect cancer on the referral, but not to be alarmed by this. All would be fine. Big cheery smile.

      So I didn’t worry. A few days later I received a phone call from the specialist’s secretary; I could be seen the following week! Alas, my potential appointment fell on a day I’d planned to be swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman. I had to choose between an all-expenses-paid luxury cruise press trip to the Caribbean (can this blocked salivary gland wait three days until I get back?) or missing out on this once in a lifetime trip.

      I went back to the Caribbean.

      Lunch in Curacao with my cruise ship in the background

      Come mid-December I still hadn’t received an appointment letter, so upon the insistence of my friends, I rang up the consultant’s secretary to enquire. Three days later my appointment letter came – I had another month to wait to be seen.

      Fast forward to mid-January, and I’m really starting to worry. The lump was still painless, but it had doubled in size. Dr. Google said that was a bad thing. My consultant is based on the mainland and only makes the trip to Shetland twice a year, along with another colleague who also visits twice a year so I had to fly south for the appointment to meet him.

      Unfortunately, heavy snow and road ice warnings were forecast for the entire day I was to travel. The airport is an hour’s drive from my house and I didn’t fancy a 4 am drive to the airport on untreated icy roads (I’m a worrier, remember?) or driving home again late that evening in the predicted snowstorm, so I booked myself into the Sumburgh Hotel for two nights. I’m glad I did.

      It was the day before our wedding anniversary, so my husband and I treated ourselves to a really lovely pre-anniversary date lunch together at the hotel. Below, left, my Shetland salmon starter, and right, baked monkfish with pea puree. Absolutely delicious! (Always about the food, me, eh?).

      The next morning I arrived bright and early for the flight, which ended up not departing until four hours later. The plane was broken. True story. The captain’s voice came over the tannoy, “Um, sorry folks, but there seems to be a technical problem. Tech support has asked us to try switching the aeroplane off and back on again.”

      So they did.

      It didn’t work. We all had to disembark and pile back into the airport lounge, which, incidentally, on this freezing cold icy morning with a snowstorm swirling around us, had no heating. The heating system was also broken. It was an incredibly cold three-hour wait while they woke an engineer up to come fix the plane.

      That day in Aberdeen was a gloriously sunny one. I was taking part in an online Balance Retreat Challenge that week, and that day’s prompt was to buy myself a bouquet of flowers. I couldn’t fulfil that daily challenge prompt since I was travelling, so I snapped this photo of the sea buckthorn tree outside the Maxillofacial Unit at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary instead. I liked the contrast of the bright orange berries against the blue sky. After, I walked up the eighty-million steps to meet my consultant.

      He didn’t know what the lump was either. He suggested it could be a cyst, but there was also a possibility it could be a tumour in a minor salivary gland. He was going to refer me for an ultrasound and a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) back in Shetland.

      The flight home was also delayed due to ‘technical difficulties’. Apparently, there’d been a MayDay on a flight from Orkney that had to turn around and go back, so the location of all the planes was wrong. I’d resolved then and there wasn’t going to be flying off Shetland anymore until they send up more reliable aircraft. The Northlink ferry it will be from now on.

      22 days later, after trying (unsuccessfully) to stay away from Dr. Google and not panic myself, I had that ultrasound and biopsy. My heart sank when I saw the coloured patterns on the ultrasound screen (see, Dr. Google taught me how to read ultrasounds during my wait). The lump had a blood supply. It was officially a tumour.

      A tumour in a minor salivary gland.

      Tumours in minor salivary glands are incredibly rare neoplasms, and up to 85% of them are malignant, according to my research (there’s very little out there, to be honest). The UK incidence of malignant minor salivary gland tumours is 0.6 per million per year. That is approximately (rounding up for lack of half people) 40 people every year. If 85% = 40, then the incidence of a benign result in this case is 15% = 7? Seven people? The odds were not in my favour.

      The cause: primarily radiation, like the old dental X-rays of the 80s and 90s. Or fallout? Maybe it was that dodgy microwave oven I got rid of a decade ago.

      I had to wait an agonising week to find out the results of the biopsy, and they were inconclusive! The doctor had aspirated a blood vessel so they had no tumour cells to analyse. I might have cried. The biopsy would need to be redone, but the ultrasound clinic only happens once a month here in Shetland. I’d need to wait another three weeks or go south for it.

      My consultant referred me for an urgent MRI. However, before you can get an MRI you need to get a blood test to make sure that your kidneys and liver can filter out the contrast medium if it’s used. To help hurry things along I hand-delivered my still-warm blood samples from my rural health centre to the lab in town. Good news, my liver and kidneys are good. An MRI was booked for two weeks later, in Aberdeen.

      In the back of a lorry.

      True story! Thankfully I didn’t need the contrast medium (I was worried about that), and the MRI itself wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Truth be told, I kept my eyes firmly shut so I wouldn’t get claustrophobic. That initial glimpse of how close the ‘roof’ was to my face as they slid me in the machine was enough to make me keep my eyes shut through the whole process. To keep my mind occupied I made musical compositions in my head out of the various sounds the machine made. The scan took about 25 minutes.

      Rewind though, a few hours. I’d only made my 10:30 am appointment with 12 minutes to spare. The ‘Beast from the East’ that has been battering the UK with heavy snow and wind prevented my overnight ferry (I’ve opted to travel only via ferry now as it’s more reliable than the flights) from docking. The Aberdeen harbourmaster wouldn’t let us in.

      We spent 3.5 hours pootling up and down the east coast of Scotland waiting for the tide to come in so we could dock. We made land at 10 am, I hopped in a taxi and we rushed through the snowy icy roads to the mobile MRI unit at Woodend Hospital.

      From the mobile MRI unit I walked the 1.8 miles to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to meet my surgeon. En route I only nearly got hit by a car once (entirely my fault). A pause for the tree photo (it’s become a thing now), and back up the stairs for my appointment.

      The MRI results showed that my tumour lit up like a light bulb under a T2 weighted scan, which is apparently a good thing (Dr. Google hasn’t taught me how to interpret MRIs yet), and it’s well circumscribed, which is also a good thing (it’s in a nice enclosed space and not spread out all over the place). There’s also no sign of anything untoward in my neck lymph glands, also a good thing. We’re starting to feel more positive here.

      I was sent for another FNAB, but this time I swear they used needles you could drill oil with.

      Back to the ferry, and for the same wind/tide reasons as that morning we couldn’t leave port until 10 pm. It was a rather bumpy overnight sail home in gale force 8. I’d spent 32 out of the previous 48 hours on the Northlink ferry.

      Five days later (last Monday) I got the biopsy results: pleomorphic salivary adenoma.

      I don’t have cancer! It’s benign! I’m one of those seven people. Surgery is still on the books, asap, but for now, it’s not malignant. It has the potential to become malignant if left, so they will be removing it, and how much of my face they’ll be taking along with it is yet to be determined. I’ve got another follow up appointment in Aberdeen next week and I’ll find out more then. For now, I can stop worrying about metastasis and try and do something practical and useful; a goal to work towards while I wait for my surgery date. I’m confident it’ll all be done and over with before the Relay date. If not, I’ve got an awesome team who can handle it all during my temporary absence.

      It’s been an incredibly stressful few weeks, waiting for test results and trying not to imagine the worst. Playing Assassin’s Creed on my teenage son’s X-box has been the best distraction, I’ve discovered; you can lose hours in that thing! The thing is, I’m one of the lucky ones. One in three people in the UK will hear the words “You’ve got cancer”. That’s one person every two minutes.

      Shetland hosts a biannual Cancer Research UK Relay for Life. A few days before my second biopsy results were ready I saw on Facebook that one of my friends had signed up for this year’s relay, and after a discussion with my husband and friends, we decided that we’d set up a fundraising team too, regardless of what the biopsy results were.

      We’re getting our heads together to come up with some fun fundraising ideas, but if you’d like to help, we’d really appreciate a donation through our fundraising page: Elizabeth’s Kitchen Crew. We named it that because the folk on my team are often the taste-testers behind my blog. We’re still looking for a few more team members, so if you want to get involved too just give me a shout!

      Cancer Research UK's Relay For Life Team Video - YouTube


      The Relay for Life is a team fundraising challenge which brings communities together to beat cancer. Over £1.1 million has been raised since the Shetland Relay for Life began in 2006.

      We’ll be celebrating our fundraising in a 24-hour Relay, taking place on the 26th of May, where we’ll take turns to walk laps of a track, all day and night, to show that cancer never sleeps.

      All the money raised will support Cancer Research UK, the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.

      Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated, so please donate today and help us to make a difference.

      Click here to donate to Team Elizabeth’s Kitchen Crew

      The post Cancer Research UK Relay for Life Shetland 2018 appeared first on Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

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      In collaboration with the Garda Trentino S.p.A. Tourism Board.

      Garda Trentino is a region in Northern Italy encompassing Riva del Garda, on the north shore of Lake Garda, Arco, Tenno, Nago-Torbole, Dro and Drena. It boasts a Mediterranean climate at the foot of the Alps, with plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventuring such as hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, swimming and sailing.

      The cuisine of Garda Trentino is a tasty blend of Mediterranean flavours, rustic mountain cooking and Austrian/German influences. There is an incredible amount of produce grown in this fertile area. Vineyards and winemakers are abundant and, due to its unique geographical features, olives are grown and processed into a variety of quality extra-virgin olive oils.

      I spent five glorious days in Garda Trentino last summer, climbing a via ferrata, hiking in through the hills and wining and dining in some of the exquisite restaurants in the region. The one thing all of these restaurants had in common was the use of locally produced ingredients, and a genuine pride of being able to transform raw, local ingredients into creative mouthwatering dishes.

      So, make yourself a cuppa, grab a seat and let me take you on a culinary journey through Garda Trentino.

      Nuovo Ristorante 900 da Lucio 

      Located in the historic city centre of Riva del Garda on the shores of Lake Garda, this trendy wine bar offers informal indoor or al fresco dining and aperitifs in a cosy, fun atmosphere. There’s live music on Thursday nights.

      The menu features a mix of Umbrian and Trentino cuisine; flavours of typical Italian cuisine and tradition combined with quality local ingredients boasting very low food miles. It was here I had my first ever taste of carne salada, a particular speciality of the area between Arco, Varone and Tenno. This dish of local veal beef is eaten raw and is served thinly sliced as an appetizer, often served with olive oil. Here it was served with a mixed salad, fresh mushrooms and smoked ricotta cheese.

      The olive oil served at our table was produced locally by 46° Parallelo from high quality, early-harvest Casaliva olives grown in the northern Italian region of Trentino Alto-Adige. The unique microclimate of this region, with its alpine and Meditteranean combination, means it’s the most northerly location where olives can be grown and harvested to produce olive oil.

      It was here I first tasted strangolapreti, spinach gnocchi (or bread dumplings) made from stale bread instead of potatoes. The word ‘strangolapreti’ literally translates as ‘strangled priests’ and the dish dates back to the mid-1500s when it was forbidden to eat meat on a Friday. Legend has it that the local Trentino priests and clergy enjoyed it so much that they would eat it until they choked, and it’s been a popular dish ever since. It is usually served with a brown butter and sage sauce.

      Riva del Garda is situated on the northern coast of Lake Garda, fed by the Sarca River, so the restaurant menus often feature local seafood. Such dishes include marinated and smoked river fish ‘salmerino trout’, and delicious, tender and flaky grilled coregone; a freshwater whitefish found in Lake Garda.

      Prices at Nuovo 900 are around €10 for antipasti and first courses, €10-20 for a main course, €5 for sides and desserts.

      WINE: try the Nosiola, a white Italian grape variety grown in the Trentino region. With its characteristic toasted hazelnut aromas, it pairs wonderfully with lake fish dishes. It is also excellent as an aperitif.

      Nuovo 900 da Lucio: Via Gazzoletti, 8, 38066 Riva del Garda TN tel: + 39 0464 567629 Click here for directions.

      Ristorante Il Ritratto Carpe Diem

      Nestled down a picturesque lane off the main square in Arco, Ristorante Il Ritratto Carpe Diem offers gourmet cuisine prepared with local ingredients in a warm and friendly atmosphere. You can dine indoors or out. For my starter, I enjoyed carne salada with walnut pesto, applesauce, pomegranate and shredded cabbage served in a cornucopia.

      My main course was an exquisite dish of lamb chops from the Trentino region slow cooked for hours under a very low heat with a rub of fennel and local olive oil. It was served on a four-inch round potato cake, not unlike a giant gnocchi, stuffed with a stringy, mozzarella/gouda-like unnamed cheese handmade in Riva by an elderly gentleman in small batches.

      To accompany, mustard-tarragon cream sauce, pomegranate seeds and walnut halves. This was one of the best meals I enjoyed in Garda Trentino. I enjoyed it so much I attempted to recreate it myself at home (see my slow roasted rack of lamb with a creamy mustard tarragon sauce recipe.)

      Dessert was a selection of homemade gelato with fruit and cream. It was here I had my first ever taste of grappa; a grape-based pomace brandy popular in Italy – Giovanni Poli Grappa Santa Massenza.

      Prices at Il Ritratto are on the higher end, but well worth the experience.

      WINE: try the Vino Santo “Arele” dessert wine produced in the heart of Trentino. This prestigious traditional dessert wine has a beautiful deep copper colour and aromas of dried apricots, sultanas and prunes.

      Ristorante Il Ritratto, Via Ferrera, 30, 38062, Arco, Italy. Tel: +39 0464 512958 Click here for directions.

      Villetta Annessa

      If you are in Riva del Garda you absolutely must try the tasting menu at Villetta Annessa in the Hotel Villa Miravalle – course after course of delicious local produce perfectly prepared and presented by their chef Luca Bombardelli. Dine indoors during the winter in their restaurant with its large wood fuel stove for grilling meats, or, during the warmer months, in their garden terrace with views of the surrounding mountains while enjoying the light breeze off of the lake. The garden features an array of laden citrus fruit trees and while you dine you’ll hear the periodic tolling of the historic bell in nearby Torre Ponale.

      To begin my tasting menu, the waiter brought me a gift from the chef: Kamut cannoli filled with light and creamy cheese served with an onion balsamic jam. This dish was both sweet and savoury at the same time; rich and delicious. To serve: a tasting of a 2001 dessert wine from Gino Pedrotti.

      Villetta Annessa is renowned for their steak, and they have a rather impressive outdoor barbecue grill (photo, above). They encourage diners to try their wild beef reared on sugar beets from Bologna. It was served raw (photo, below) with a tomato confit; local tomatoes cooked in olive oil and sugar. The flavour was incredible; the uncooked meat was sweet and remarkably tender. I enjoyed the same beef later on in the tasting menu, a filet mignon expertly cooked on the outdoor grill and served with a gorgeous helping of mashed potatoes and two sauces.

      Next, a stunning dish of slow-cooked rabbit loin wrapped in pancetta and fried until crispy and served with a liquid salad (photo, below). I’d visited this restaurant earlier in the day for a private cookery demonstration, and the chef, Luca, kindly gave me the recipe.

      This dish is deliberately not served with olive oil. Instead, it was paired with a tasting of Gewurztraminer Selection R. from the German part of Italy. The aromatic finish of the wine is meant to replace that of the olive oil. As an aside, a bottle of extra virgin olive oil DOP Garda Trentino of Agraria Riva del Garda was available on the table as a condiment; perfect for dipping the contents of the bread basket into.

      Angelino pasta was next, with aubergine, Datterini tomatoes, dried mint and pasta made on the premises. My waiter, Pietro, explained that this was a real Italian summer pasta; although it has a lot of sauce it is not at all heavy. This was served with a small glass of Vini del Gelso Merlot. This is an organic wine, Pietro also explained, but it doesn’t say so on the label. To carry that certification a vineyard has to be registered as organic for thirty years.

      Dessert was vanilla ice cream with crystalised simple syrup and raspberry jus to cleanse the palate followed by a small serving of millefeuille; Villetta Annessa’s classic dessert. A port-type dessert wine, Merlino Rosso Fortificato 1400, finished off the meal perfectly.

      Tasting menus at Villetta Annessa start from €43, not including drinks. Check out their hotel offers for accommodation and dining packages.

      Hotel Villa Miravalle: Via Monte Oro, 9, 38066 Riva del Garda. Tel: +39 0464 552335 Click here for directions. 

      Antica Croce

      Further North, in the village of Tenno, you’ll find Antica Croce, a hotel and restaurant just next to Tenno Castle, a 13th-century fortress.

      Good food and wine are the passion of chef Ettore, and his son Lorenzo, who together manage the kitchen in Antica Croce. Their menu features a wide variety of local delicacies, including their famous carne salada; recipes which have been passed down for four generations.

      All of their produce is sourced locally; meat from Trentino, fish from their spring waters, mushrooms and black truffles from the forest and vegetables from their own garden. Dine indoors in their restaurant or out in the garden with a view of the castle and surrounding forest.

      I began my meal with a local cheese platter featuring Trentino Parmesan, Tremosine cheese, Verda Misone cheese and a herbal cheese from Fiavè served with red onion mustard and pear chutney. A basket of bread rolls and a glass of fine white wine accompanied.

      This was followed by the second course of homemade red wine pappardelle with venison and rosemary and a perfectly paired glass of red wine. Made with local venison this dish was rich and hearty, just what was needed after a morning spent trekking from Tenno Lake. This was followed by a dessert of homemade amaretto semifreddo and a coffee from local coffee roasters Omkafe.

      Set meals start at €35 per person, not including drinks. They also offer wine tastings in the recently renovated old cellar that lies just beneath the restaurant.

      Antica Croce, Via dei Laghi, 1, 38060 Tenno. Tel: +39 0464 500620 Click here for directions.

      Osteria le Servite

      Osteria provides the opportunity for diners to enjoy different, and sometimes forgotten, local dishes. The restaurant is located just north of Lake Garda, between Riva and Arco, in the heart of vineyard territory. Enjoy dinner indoors, in cosy rustic surroundings, or outdoors in the garden under a grapevine canopy overlooking a vast vineyard.

      Chef Alessandro Manzana and his colleagues welcome their guests with meats such as beef and horse, and cheeses, local freshwater fish, homemade fresh pasta, enticing desserts and a cellar with more than 500 labels. We began our meal with an aperitif of Pojer & Sandri Cuvee Extra Brut, a sparkling wine grown in Trentino.

      It was here I enjoyed homemade ravioli filled with ricotta and served beautifully with local olive oil and courgettes from their garden. A glass of Pravis Le Frate Nosiola accompanied. This wine is the pride of Pravis, made with Nosiola grapes grown on the steep slopes above the lakes of Toblino and Cavedine.  This was followed by a tender and flaky grilled char and creamy polenta with a glass of Pravis Stravino di Stravino.

      For dessert, mint semifreddo and a tasting of 2003 Trentino DOC Vino Santo “Della Valle dei Laghi”; produced locally by Pisoni in small batches since the mediaeval times.

      A three-course meal costs approximately €35, not including drinks. The atmosphere here is wonderful; dining outdoors under the grape leaf canopy eating delicious food and sipping good wine is just what you imagine life is like in Italy; the kind of slow meal that lasts for hours.

      Le Servite, Osteria, Cellar and Apartments – Via Passirone No. 68 – 38062 S. Giorgio Arco. Tel: +39 0464 557411. Click here for directions.

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      The ultimate comfort food, just like my grandmother used to make.

      You know those meals that take you right back to your childhood? Those dishes with their scents and flavours reminiscent of happy moments with your family gathered around the dining table, joking with your grandfather, giving your little brother grumpy looks because he’s just eaten the last meatball and you really wanted it, helping with the washing up afterwards?

      This is one of those recipes for me. 


      We always had these sweet and sour meatballs on Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house. My grandmother would batch cook them in advance and keep them in the deep freeze until needed. This made it easier to prep Christmas dinner the evening before.

      Oh my goodness, I loved these sweet and sour meatballs as a child. She always served them with plain boiled rice (the only time I ever ate rice during my childhood too) and that in itself felt rather exotic.

      This is not a recipe I make very often, as in all honesty, with its sugar content it’s really not on the healthy spectrum of family meals. It makes for a nice occasional treat though, and I’ve been craving them recently. It’s nostalgic comfort food that takes me back to a place of safety and security; a time when life didn’t feel so… fragile.

      I brought this recipe with me when I immigrated from Canada, written down in cup measures in my old notebook. The original recipe didn’t include the recipe for the meatballs themselves, just the sauce, so the meatballs are my own. In all honesty, you could always just buy a couple of packets of ready-made meatballs at your local butchers to save a little bit of time and effort.

      The sauce is super easy to make with simple store cupboard ingredients. Simply measure all the ingredients into a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and thicken with cornflour. It only takes a few minutes. Pour the sauce over the browned meatballs in a casserole dish and pop in the oven for half an hour while you get on with the rice and veg.

      You could freeze the browned meatballs (just make sure they’re cooked through first) with the sauce at this stage, defrosting and baking in the oven at a later date.

      Despite its high sugar content, these sweet and sour meatballs are really quite savoury. The vinegar and dry mustard powder counteract the sweetness of the brown sugar and tomato ketchup (classy ingredient, I know, but it totally works!).

      If these meatballs aren’t quite what you’re looking for you could always try Jemma’s Garlic & Herb Meatballs, Bintu’s Weight Watchers Chilli con Carne Meatballs, Camilla’s Turkey & Chorizo Meatballs, my Lamb & Haggis Meatballs with a Whisky Cream Sauce or my Italian-Style Meatballs in a Rich Tomato Sauce recipe. I’ve also got Mamta Gupta’s Keema Meatball Curry recipe which is rather fantastic.

      What recipes bring you back to your childhood? Let me know in the comments!

      Grandma's Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe
      My grandmother's tried and tested sweet & sour meatballs recipe; a family favourite and super quick and easy to make too. Leftovers freeze very well, and this recipe can be batch cooked.
        Servings4 servings
        Prep Time20 minutes
        Cook Time40 minutes
        for the meatballs
        for the sweet & sour sauce
        1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 160 C fan.
        2. To prepare the meatballs combine the ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato puree, salt, pepper and egg together in a large bowl using your hands. Make sure everything is well combined so that the meatballs don't fall apart when cooking.
        3. Form the mixture into 36 one-inch round meatballs and set aside on a plate.
        4. Heat a nonstick frying pan and fry the meatballs in batches until browned on the outside. Transfer to an ovenproof casserole dish.
        5. Meanwhile, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, water, mustard and ketchup in a medium sized saucepan. Whisk over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble.
        6. Thicken the sauce with the cornflour dissolved in a little cold water and pour the sauce over the meatballs.
        7. Transfer the casserole dish to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
        8. Serve with plenty of rice and a green vegetable on the side.
        Recipe Notes

        Food waste prevention tip #1: leftovers freeze well. Simply defrost, place in a casserole dish, cover and bake for 30 minutes to reheat.

        Food waste prevention tip #2: batch cook this recipe, making sure the meatballs are cooked through when browning. Freeze for another day.

        Have you made this recipe?

        Take a photo and tag @tangoraindrop or use the hashtag #elizabethskitchendiary and share on Instagram and Twitter. It would make my day to see your creations!

        The post Grandma’s Sweet and Sour Meatballs Recipe appeared first on Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

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        A gift hamper review & giveaway worth £90 in collaboration with Tariette.

        Tariette is a new UK online grocer whose French produce is sourced directly from small, trusted local producers in Haute Provence. Their offering of regional products, from olive oil to chocolate, aims to reflect the seasons and showcase local traditions. All their producers are handpicked for not only the quality of their goods, but an honest, ethical and sustainable approach.

        The company was started by Sylvie Jacquel and her sons, Thomas and Pierre. Born and raised in Haute-Provence, they share a genuine passion for local food and produce from their region. It was the good, honest food of Provence—no artificial flavours, frills, or glam packaging that Thomas found himself missing after moving to London. For all the great British food he could find locally, there was nothing like the taste of home.

        Sylvie’s regular parcels were a godsend to him, and it was from these that the idea for Tariette was born. Its mission is to provide anyone who loves Provençal food, wherever they are, with an authentic taste of the region.

        The producers chosen by Tariette share some common values: tradition, excellence, and above all, a passion for their craft. Each one is at the top of their field for a classic Provençal product—whether it’s cold-pressed olive oil from the chalky foothills of the Alps or fragrant lavender from the region’s famous fields. All the producers are missing is a chance to showcase their talents to a wider audience. It may be that their size or logistics hold them back from working with the ruthless distribution chains of big supermarkets. Nevertheless, Tariette believes they still deserve an opportunity to shine.

        2018 is due to be an exciting year for Tariette, which has grown rapidly since its launch. The team will continue to attend selected markets, mainly in and around London at first, as well as several larger events such as the Hampton Court Flower Show in July. New products are constantly being sourced, with seasonal ranges and tableware among the big additions to be added soon.

        Their gift hampers continue to be incredibly popular and more options for sending loved ones treats are in the pipeline.

        The team at Tariette recently sent me one of their gift hampers, and I can’t express just how delighted I was when it arrived. I’d been having one of those seriously trying days, you know the kind, and when the postman delivered this parcel it really lifted my spirits. First, the box itself was hand stamped with the brand name on the outside in cream paint. When I saw that I knew that something special was inside; attention to detail like that really impresses me.

        The hamper itself was tied with a gorgeous thick cream ribbon (with no bits of glue to take off – it’s perfectly reusable and is now in my crafting ribbon box), with hand stampeded Tariette tag on the handle. Inside, the contents were wrapped in tissue, held together with a sticker. Five stars for presentation!

        Inside, there was a 250-gram jar of liquid lavender honey produced by Miellerie Chailland, Thorame. They don’t heat or mix their IGP certified honey. Gravity is the only filter, which means it retains its delicate lavender flavour. Enjoy with granola, porridge or on toast. RRP £8.

        Next, there was a 220-gram bottle of organic strawberry coulis, produced by Confiturerie Chatelain, La Batie Neuve, in the Southern Alps, is a healthier, lower-sugar purée alternative to strawberry jam which is just as popular. It goes with anything, from porridge to pannacotta, pancakes to pastries. RRP £7.

        I was intrigued by the presence of a bottle of mint-flavoured olive oil from Moulin Paschetta, Peyruis. This 250ml bottle of extra-virgin olive oil is flavoured with natural mint extracts. I’m looking forward to experimenting with this, as they recommend enjoying it with lamb, peas, tabbouleh or any oriental dish. RRP £14.

        Also included in the hamper was a 90-gram jar of tapenade, a speciality dip from Provence made by Moulin Paschetta with black olives, capers, olive oil, anchovies and Provence herbs.  RRP £5.

        “Few foods are more traditionally Provençal than tapenade. Spread some on a slice of good bread, pour yourself a glass of rosé and let the magic happen! It’s a great dip for carrot sticks too, but tapenade and fish is the marriage made in heaven. Spread a thin layer on a white fish filet and cook en papillotte for 20 minutes—you won’t be disappointed.”

        Calissons are a new-to-me treat. This traditional Provencal confectionery is made of ground almonds, candied melon, and orange zests, coated with royal icing. They’re delicious! Perfect for marzipan fans with an afternoon cuppa. RRP £10 for a 115-gram box.

        The hamper also included a 250-gram bag of raw, unblanched almonds from Les Grandes Marges, Valensole (RRP £6), and three ribbon-wrapped 100-gram boxes of almond sweets from Confiserie Doucet, Oraison. (each RRP £7).

        There was a box of chocolate-dusted almonds, a not-too-sweet dessert of dark chocolate dipped almonds rolled in cocoa powder; roasted almond pralines, almonds coated in cane sugar with a hint of vanilla flavoured Bourbon and herbs; and (my favourite), chocolate Olives de Provence, roasted almonds covered in dark and white chocolate which are finished with green and black glazes to mimic olives. They’re adorable and delicious!

        Last but not least, the hamper contained three gorgeously scented mini lavender pillows from the Coopérative La Grange des Meuniers, Montguers. These hand-sewn pillows are filled with gently dried lavandin flowers collected from the lavender fields of Haute Provence. RRP £15 for 4. Pop these pillows into your wardrobe for a subtle lavender scent and to keep the moths away, or keep them near your bed for a relaxing night’s sleep.

        This collection was curated by the mother and sons team at Tariette and made with love by the finest local producers in Haute-Provence. Each product follows a traditional family recipe and has a unique story behind it. The aim? To give you a real taste of Provence.

        Tariette hampers can be customised to your tastes and start from as little as £75, with free shipping. Alternatively, you can purchase any of the individual items that take your fancy from their website with free delivery to the UK mainland on orders over £30. Visit their website to find out more!


        Tariette has very kindly offered one of my UK readers the opportunity to win one of these gift hampers, as pictured above, a value of £90! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below.

        HOW TO ENTER

        For your chance to win a Tariette Provence Gift Hamper worth £90 enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Come back and tweet about the giveaway every day for more chances to win!


        This giveaway is open to UK entries only. Entrants must be age 18 or over. The winner will need to respond within 28 days of being contacted; failure to do this may result in another winner being selected.

        The prize is offered and provided by Tariette. The prize is to win a Tariette Provence Gift Hamper worth £90There is no cash alternative and the prize is not transferable.

        There is no entry fee and no purchase is necessary to enter this giveaway. The promoter (Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary) reserves the right to cancel or amend the giveaway and these terms and conditions without notice.

        Entry into our giveaways will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.

        If you need some help using Rafflecopter, here’s a quick clip to show you how. Rafflecopter will pick the winner at random from all the entries received.

        Closing date is midnight (that’s 00:00 hours, 12 am on Sunday night/Monday morning) on Monday 19 March 2018 (GMT) and the winner will be announced shortly afterwards.

        a Rafflecopter giveaway

        Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary received a complimentary gift hamper in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.

        The post Tariette: a Plateful of Provence Art-de-Vivre appeared first on Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

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        A St. David’s Day recipe in collaboration with Food & Drink Wales.

        Happy Dydd Gwyl Dewi- St David’s Day!

        St. David is the patron saint of Wales who, during his lifetime in the 6th century AD, founded around twelve monasteries, including the Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Pembrokeshire.  It is believed that he died on the 1st of March, 589 and he was canonised by Pope Callixtus II in 1120 during a time of Welsh resistance to the Normans.

        Now, the feast of St. David’s Day is a time of great celebration. People wear daffodils and leeks, symbols of Wales and Saint David respectively, and eat traditional Welsh food such as cawl (a traditional Welsh soup, the national dish of Wales) and Welsh rarebit (melted cheese on toasted bread), and women wear traditional Welsh dress.

        ‘Tinkers Cake’ is a traditional Welsh apple cake recipe made historically for travelling ironworkers in the valleys of South Wales. This recipe is a modern twist on the classic recipe, turning it into cupcakes with the addition of Welsh cider in the frosted topping.

        This recipe also includes wholemeal spelt flour, which was a common cereal crop in the Iron Age and has experienced a revival in the last decade or so. This, plus the crunchy demerara sugar, the grated apples (which I’ve left unpeeled for added flavour and texture) and the flavoursome pieces of stem ginger make a rather fantastic savoury-sweet muffin perfect for breakfast or a mid-morning/afternoon snack.

        I confess I have only ever visited Wales once, a very, very long time ago. A friend and I took a road trip from Aberdeen in Scotland all the way down to Fishguard, a beautiful Welsh coastal town. After getting lost in Runcorn we turned south and drove through the most stunning landscape – narrow winding roads flanked with high stone walls and thick forests.

        It’s a place I’ve been wanting to return to ever since. A climb of Snowdon beckons!

        There has never been a better time for Welsh food and drink, with the number of products attaining European protected food name status nearly doubling in the past year and the number of Welsh entries for the prestigious Great Taste Awards reaching a record high.

        Producers from across Wales have come together to challenge consumers to buy Welsh this March. The challenge will be kick-started to coincide with St David’s Day, 1st March 2018, as the largest celebration of Welsh food and drink ever held on a UK wide level is set to go ahead. A celebration which includes this rather scrummy recipe blog post for a modern twist on a classic Welsh recipe.

        If you’re having a Welsh themed feast this St. David’s Day you might also like Andrea’s Welsh Salt & Vinegar Mackerel Carpaccio, Becca’s Classic Welsh Rarebit, Choclette’s Snowdon Pudding,  Chris’ Welsh Cakes or Camilla’s Slow Cooker Shoulder of Welsh Lamb with Apricot & Chestnut Stuffing.

        Have you ever been to Wales? Do you have a favourite Welsh product? Caerphilly cheese? Welsh cider? Let me know in the comments!

        Apple & Ginger Muffins with Cider Frosting
        ‘Tinkers Cake’ is a traditional Welsh apple cake recipe made historically for travelling iron workers in the valleys of South Wales. Here’s a modern twist with the addition of Welsh cider for the topping.
          Servings12 muffins
          Prep Time20 minutes
          Cook Time25 minutes
          for the apple & ginger muffins
          for the cider frosting
          1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 160 C fan/ Gas 4.
          2. Mix together the flours, ginger, baking powder and sugar in a bowl.
          3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter (or oil), and pour into the dry ingredients.
          4. Fold in the grated apples and chopped ginger and spoon into 12 muffin cases.
          5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes.
          6. Cool completely on a wire rack while you prepare the frosting.
          7. To make the frosting, mix together the melted butter, icing sugar and traditional Welsh cider until smooth.
          8. Frost each cooled muffin and sprinkle the tops with the pumpkin seeds.
          Recipe Notes

          Recipe provided by Welsh Food & Drink.

          St. David’s Day Welsh Food & Drink Hamper Giveaway

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          A giveaway in collaboration with Willie’s Cacao.


          Discover the taste of real artisan chocolate, and the astonishing differences in flavour between the world’s great single estate cacaos. Join the Facebook online tasting with Willie and Great British Chefs on March 14th, 2018.

          Chocolate has become a sugary fatty confection, a million miles away from health-giving cacao, which boasts some 400 different flavours and was worshipped for centuries for the way it makes you feel. It has become Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s mission to open other people’s eyes to real chocolate… to start The Chocolate Revolution!

          “Few things give me such pleasure as watching someone gasping with delight as the chocolate melts, and the realisation dawns that all taste comes simply from the cacao…”

          Willie has teamed up with Great British Chefs to do an exclusive Facebook Live Chocolate Tasting and he has created a limited edition Single Estate Discovery Collection of 8 bars especially for the event.

          During the live tasting (register your interest here!) you could be one of the lucky winners of a free tasting chocolate pack if you comment by telling Willie what flavours you prefer between nutty, fruity and caramel with the #chocolaterevolution in your comment.

          The chocolates are also available on williescacao.com at the special price of £8.00 P&P included (instead of £16) with the code TASTE8

          Willie’s Cacao Facts of the week:

          • Did you know that different varieties of cacaos have different colours and shapes? All the cacaos Willie’s Cacao use are either Trinitario or Criollo, which you can recognise by their more pointed, elongated shape.

          • Did you know that the percentage of cocoa solids you see on the back of pack represent the total of cocoa mass, as well as cocoa butter that is contained in the chocolate?

          • Did you know that mass-made chocolate only takes a few hours to make, while an average artisan chocolate takes a few days?

          • All Willie’s Cacao chocolate is perfectly suited for vegetarians. And if you are vegan or looking for dairy-free chocolate, you can enjoy all Willie’s Cacao dark bars and cylinders!


          This first-ever Facebook Live Tasting Event will take place on March 14th at 6.30pm. In this live-streamed tasting extravaganza, Willie will join Ollie Lloyd of Great British Chefs, and they will chat about the best way to taste chocolate and why artisan and mass produced chocolates are so different.

          Everybody can join and taste along at home, with time for chat and questions at the end.

          All that is needed is The Single Estate Discovery Collection, a glass of water and maybe a bar of some other dark chocolate just to see how much soya lecithin and vanilla alter the flavour.

          To join in visit the event page and tick “interested / going. To get the chocolate visit the Willie’s Cacao website.

          The Single Estate Discovery Collection GIVEAWAY

          Willie’s Cacao has kindly offered my UK readers the chance to win one of five The Single Estate Discovery Collection Boxes worth £16! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below! The giveaway will end at midnight just after the Facebook Live Tasting on Wednesday the 14th of March.

          HOW TO ENTER

          For your chance to win one of five The Single Estate Discovery Collection Boxes worth £16 enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Come back and tweet about the giveaway every day for more chances to win!


          This giveaway is open to UK entries only. Entrants must be age 18 or over. The winners will need to respond within 28 days of being contacted; failure to do this may result in another winner being selected.

          The prize is offered and provided by Willie’s Cacao. The prize is to win one of five The Single Estate Discovery Collection Boxes worth £16There is no cash alternative and the prize is not transferable.

          There is no entry fee and no purchase is necessary to enter this giveaway. The promoter (Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary) reserves the right to cancel or amend the giveaway and these terms and conditions without notice.

          Entry into our giveaways will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.

          If you need some help using Rafflecopter, here’s a quick clip to show you how. Rafflecopter will pick the winners at random from all the entries received.

          Closing date is midnight (that’s 0:00 hours on Wednesday night/Thursday morning) on Thursday 15 March 2018 (GMT) just after the live tasting, and the winner will be announced shortly afterwards.

          a Rafflecopter giveaway

          This is not a paid post, although Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary has received some rather gorgeous chocolate in exchange for hosting it. All photographs copyright Willie’s Cacao. The above Amazon links are affiliate links, which means if you click through and make any subsequent purchase of any product within the next 24 hours, we will earn a small commission. 

          The post The Single Estate Chocolate Discovery Collection appeared first on Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

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