Category Archives: Food

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Kesgrave Hall Review. Luxury for all the family.

If I could afford to live in any hotel it would certainly be one from the Milsoms group.  From the country house luxury of Masion Talbooth to the seaside charm of The Pier, Milsoms represents all that is great with British culture. Being invited to stay for a Kesgrave Hall review was just so exciting for us.

With one child in full-time school and the other soon to start nursery, time together as a family is more precious than ever. To celebrate Scarlett’s first full month as school, reconnect with each other, and have a weekend off from the madness that is family life, we decided a mini-break was in order.

Set in the Suffolk countryside, this boutique hotel on the outskirts of Ipswich, is full of warmth and charm. Family friendly, but not in a plastic play area and dinner in a box kind of way, Kesgrave Hall is 4 star luxury family travel at its best.

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Our suite was set in its own private cottage, meaning we weren’t disrupting other guests if the girls woke up early or got a little noisy with all the excitement going on. This really allowed the Essex Husband and I to relax and made our break even more enjoyable.  With the girls having their own room we all got some sleep, but it also allowed us some grown up time when they hit the sack. Nothing worse than lights out at 7pm when staying in a hotel because the children needed to go to bed.

The food, well where do I start. Dinner was an informal, yet stylish, affair. The children’s menu at Kesgrave Hall is always a hit with Scarlett due to the smoked salmon starter, and The Essex Husband always eats like a king with Milsons as the menu really does favor the carnivore palette. Even for me though, not really a meat lover, the food is always exquisite, as is the service. Friendly staff, swift service and great chefs – what more could you ask for?

Kesgrave Hall Review Kesgrave Hall Review

Kesgrave Hall Review

The grounds of Kesgrave Hall are perfect for families.  Large open space, footballs, goals, woods and (weather permitting) deck-chairs on the lawn.  You really do feel welcome as family here, no ‘children should be seen and not heard’ vibes at all.  Even fellow, child free, patrons appreciate that it is a family venue. I have never been so proud as when an elderly gentleman approached our table on the first night at dinner to tell us what well-behaved young ladies we have, I may have even shed a tear at the table once he returned to his meal.

Is their any greater compliment than one paid to your children?

Family days out are plentiful and within easy reach of Kesgarve Hall too, we had two wonderful adventures when staying with them at Jimmys Farm and BeWILDerwood.

If you are looking for a half term family break or a pre-Christmas treat, and are tempted by this Kesgrave Hall review, then take a look at the special offers on the Milsons website. They have a wonderful offer on at the moment specially for visitors to Kesgrave Hall.

 Autumn In Suffolk  

Hopefully the sunshine will continue throughout October and November. So we’ve put together a great overnight break at milsoms Kesgrave Hall to tempt you to indulge in a night away before the autumn.

What’s included?
• Three course dinner (free choice from the a la carte menu, so no hidden supplements)
• Overnight accommodation in the best available room when you book
• Full breakfast

£100 per person any day of the week from Tuesday1st – Friday 29th November 2013.
This offer is based on double occupancy and is subject to availability.

For full information and more offers please visit www.milsomhotels.com. We simply cant wait to go back.

Kesgrave Hall Review

Disclaimer – we were treated to a complimentary two night stay at Kesgrave Hall to review their facilities however all views expressed are our own.

 

 

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The key to your success will be found in your preparation

These fine words were the motto of the most wonderful teacher I ever had. Much of my school days are a distant memory now, but this will always stay with me.

It still remains with me to this day, and has become somewhat of my motto too.

I love a list, a notebook, a spreadsheet. Anything by which I can plan, is a friend of mine.

So for me Christmas starts early. Presents are bought and stashed away throughout the year, ideas from magazines cut out and put in a file and food inspiartion jotted down in notebook ready to be assembled into a menu nearer the time.

I like to plan two things well in advance of the big day in order to fully embrace the christmas spirit; my theme and my food. I know many of you will be screaming at this post saying ‘its only one day you crazy woman, why do you care so much?’. Well the way I see it is this; as a parent you only get eight, maybe nine, wondrous christmas days together before the ‘Man is Red’ is outed and the sparkle dies ever so slightly. So I plan to make every year as magical as possible until then, and if that makes me mad then so be it.

This year I’m going for a country Christmas theme. Think warm cosy red and green decorations with splashes of gold, open fires, mulled wine, snuggles under big blankets, lots of homemade food, laughter, family board games, and kisses under the mistletoe. Perfection.

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For food I like maximum impact for minimum effort. Tesco’s new range of ‘table ready’ packaging on their Finest range is a big hit with me. Their new table sauces, especially the Piccalilli and Chili, sold in Kilner Jars with easily removable swing label are sure to become a favorite of mine. Open, put on table, serve. Perfect. (You could even pass them off as your own).

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This year the food in our house will be all about sharing. Large starter platters, dishes brimming with potatoes and vegetables on the table to choose from during the mains and a plethora of desserts served on a table ready for people to help themselves if they have any room left. Indulgence will very much be the name of the game.

Presents are important but, to me, nowhere near as important as seeing my family and friends together eating, laughing and making memories. But incase you are wondering what I’d like to find in my stocking this year (or The Essex Husband is reading this) I wouldn’t be too sad to see this Sage Green Delongi kitchen set (with its matching toaster) in my stocking come December 25th.

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So there you have it, I’ve outed myself as a Christmas nut. What about you? Are you an early bird or do you leave it all to Dec 24th? I’d love to know.

This post is part of the BritMums project with Tesco

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15 years after first appearing on our shelves, Tesco Finest are relaunching this week. With new products, new recipes and new packaging, all helping to tell the story of each specialist ingredient they have sourced, you really get a feel that Tesco Finest have put time, effort and an awful lot of miles into finding the best of everything to put into their range.

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20131012-105150.jpgFrom tasting notes on the chocolate bars to in-depth flavour guides on their Finest coffee range, consumer information and involvement is high on the agenda with this new look.

Hearing from Tesco staff about the history of each supplier they are using, from the dockyards of Grimsby to the hills of Italy, it was clear to see they have made sure we as customers are given the most high-end, hand-picked, ingredients possible. My only upset was they chose Anglesey sea salt over our Essex offering in Mersea.

Lunch was delicious, and it was especially lovely to see fellow bloggers Liz, Kelly and Marianne, was just a shame I had to rush off for the school run as I could have happily sat there all afternoon.

Each area of the range had a specialist in attendance. Sarah Mackereth, or the coffee lady as she was affectionately known by us, was a wealth of information on all things tea and coffee. I’m loving how the new packing includes biodegradable bags for their Finest tea products (I need to try the Peppermint and liquorice tea ASAP as it sounds divine).

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The most interesting conversation I had all afternoon though was with Manu Hovette, their pasta guru. That man sure knows his stuff. Thanks to him I now know to match my pasta with my sauce, strong flavors need pasta with a bite, and he has encouraged me to look further than penne. I also now know that the mark of a good quality pasta is its protein content, the higher the protein the better the pasta.

Sooner that I would have wanted, it was time to head home. Not before being handed the most amazing wicket hamper full of Tesco Finest goodies to try at home. The chocolate didn’t even last the train journey, but the rest of it is in my kitchen waiting to be tried. I will be sure to share my thoughts with you all.

Massive thanks to Tesco for having me, what a wonderful afternoon.

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Tesco were kind enough to cover the cost of my travel for this even but all views are my own.

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My very favorite place in Essex for pick your own in Lathcoats Farm. We headed there during the summer months for strawberry season, enjoying teaching the girls how to pick the perfect fruit, so it only felt right to take them back now plum season is upon us for some Autumn Fruit Picking.

This Sunday afternoon pre-roast walk was an industrious one.

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Wellies on and eyes peeled for ripe juicy plums…..and at only 75p for all the plums needed to our bubbling crumble it was a reasonably priced afternoons entertainment.

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The other bonus of doing pick your own in Essex at Lathcoats Farm is their wonderful Bee Shed tea room and farm shop for the grown-ups, and small animal area and ride on toys for the children.  We spend many an afternoon here in that tricky hour post school-pick up/pre dinner time (or the witching hour as I prefer to call it).

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Soon enough we were heading home for a sumptuous roast dinner, delicious crumble and the joy of watching Man U lose the derby game on live TV…….it doesn’t get much better than that.

Where do you go for pick your own in Essex for Autumn Fruit Picking? Are you fans of Lathcotes Farm, or do you have another gem for us to try out?

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I started to wonder how to make rosemary salt after I could no long find it for sale in our local supermarket.

I love rosemary salt. It’s such a great cheat to have in the kitchen. It works great sprinkled over vegetables or potatoes when roasting them, or just over the top of a simple tomato and mozzarella salad.

It smells amazing and is incredibly versatile, what’s not to love.

How To Make Rosemary Salt

How To Make Rosemary Salt

You will need

  • Clip top Jar (I have used one from the Le Parfait range)
  • Sea Salt (for me it has to be Maldon Salt)
  • Fresh Rosemary

How To Make Rosemary Salt

Method

  • Fill half your jar with sea salt
  • Place a few sprigs of rosemary on top of the salt and fill again till 3/4 full.
  • Add a few more sprigs of rosemary and close the jar.
  • Shake well and leave to infuse for a least 3 days before use.
  • Store in a cool dry place

I hope you enjoy this recipe for how to make rosemary salt. Do you have a kitchen cheats you love to make?

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Recently we were invited to experience Afternoon Tea At Hanbury Manor…here is how we got on.

A Jacobean style country house within 200 acres of Herfordshire countryside, Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club is a wonderful 5 star country house resort within easy reach of Stansted, Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick airports, London and Cambridge. Perfect for a taste of rural life while maintaining the luxurious standards you would expect from such a well-respected international hotel chain.

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Afternoon Tea At Hanbury ManorIf I won the lottery I would eat out every day. Sharing food and drink, putting the worlds to rights, trying something new, people watching and best of all, not having to do the washing up.

Until then I will make the most of the days and nights out I get in-between my stints of Nigella-esq domesticity at home.

My Mother-in-law is one of my very favorite people to spend time with, she is at least 50% of the reason I married my husband (I may be joking about that last bit, but she is a wonderful lady), and I always look for any excuse to spoil her.

We loved our Afternoon Tea At Hanbury Manor, Marriott Hotel & Country Club from the moment we arrived. The grounds are stunning, it oozes the finesse that so many resorts try to achieve but so few manage to execute, Hanbury has effortless style down to a fine art. The house, built-in 1890 by designers Ernest Geroge and Harold Peto, was in the Hanbury family until the early 1920′s when it became home to Henery King and his family who added the first golf course to the land. Passing through a few more owners it was finally acquired by developers and the luxury resort known today was built.

Afternoon Tea At Hanbury Manor

Afternoon Tea at Hanbury Manor, served in The Oak Hall priced at £25pp, will keep me coming back again and again. Unique in its use of flavored breads to compliment the fillings, and brimming with sweet delights, this is a british institution at its finest. Afternoon tea is one of my favourite pastimes, and this was up there with the best I’ve ever had.

Our cups were of course bone china, its tradition all the way here, and filled with hand selected teas chosen from an impressive menu. Flavoured teas and infusions are a love of mine, so I was highly impressed with the knowledge of our server, Chris Holdys, regarding tea selections and their range on offer. If you are lucky enough to meet Chris when visiting Hanbury Manor then do take time to talk to him about tea and his traveling plans, such a delightfully wise and interesting young man. He made our visit all the more special.

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Alongside their culinary delights Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club has a prestigious 18-hole Championship Hanbury Course designed by Jack Nicklaus II, spa and leisure facilities and 5 star accommodation. I cannot wait to try out the Spa, if it half as good as the food I’ll be in for a treat.

disclaimer – we were provided Afternoon Tea At Hanbury Manor free of charge but all views are my own

 

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Fed up with having to travel into London every time he wanted a good steak Rare Cow owner Richard Lester decided that he would open up a restaurant on his doorstep. With a background in both the cruise and food industries he has found himself well placed in the picture perfect village of Writtle to create a brand that is sure to take Essex foodies by storm.

Rare Cow promises that your food will be ‘served to your table with happiness and passion‘; well they certainly lived up to that claim.

Our waitresses were attentive and informative, owner Richard is one of the friendliest (and steak loving) men you’d ever be lucky enough to meet and the food, well that surpassed all expectations we arrived with.

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My starter of Scallops with fried quails egg with caper balsamic reduction was divine and The Essex Husband couldn’t stop raving about his fried calamari with Maldon salt and micro sliced naga chili (well once he could talk again anyway, after the burning in his mouth had subsided).

For mains we opted for steak and a chicken burger. The steak, the best my husband had ever eaten, was huge, and my burger (I’m not really a big meat eater so having a steak wasn’t for me) was delicious, and fully loaded to say the least.

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Alongside their regular menus Rare Cow have two stand-out exclusive packages that are simply too good to miss.

Rare Cow The Chefs Table. Starting from £39 a head you get a starter, unlimited selections of steak cooked to perfection, sides and a choice of dessert with soft drinks, unlimited house wine and a selection of bottle beers to wash it down with.

Rare Cow BBQ Weekends

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Rare Cow was summed up perfectly on the night by my husband when he announced ‘I love a restaurant where you can get high-end food that’s relaxed enough I don’t have to wear socks’.

I do love that man!

www.rarecow.co.uk

Disclaimer – we were given our meal as a gift from Rare Cow, but all views expressed are our own.

 

 

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I really struggle to find interesting Vegetarian BBQ ideas and recipes. Thats why I love these Feta and Sweet Potato Burgers so much

I enjoy the occasional hotdog, but other than that I much prefer ideas for Vegetarian BBQ food than meat based recipes when it comes to planning an Alfresco feast. I just feel it mixes things up a little.

Summer for me is all about BBQs. Friends, food, cocktails and laughter. It doesn’t get better than that.

These Feta and Sweet Potato Burgers are my ‘go to’ recipe when I run out of ideas for vegetarian BBQ food. They are so moist and tasty. The sweetness of the potato combined with the earthy flavor of the coriander make for a very tasty pattie that even meat lovers will adore.

Feta and Sweet Potato Burgers

Ingredients (makes 6 medium-sized feta and sweet potato burgers)

  • 150g oats
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 3 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 red chili de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 5cm piece of ginger root finely chopped
  • Large handful of fresh coriander finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 200g crumbled Feta

Method

  • Lightly toast the oats in a dry pan for 5 mins until lightly brown
  • Boil the sweet potatoes and simmer until ready for mashing (about 10 mins)
  • Mix the spring onions, chili, garlic, ginger and coriander in a large bowl, add the mashed sweet potato and combine well
  • Carefully stir in the egg, feta and 1/3 of the oats.
  • Make the mixture into 6 patties and press them into the remaining oats to cover them.
  • Wrap each pattie in foil ready for the BBQ (these can stay in the fridge for up to 5 hours)
  • Cook on the BBQ for 20 minutes, turning once.
  • Open, serve, enjoy.

What are your best Vegetarian BBQ ideas? Do you love Feta and Sweet Potato Burgers too? I’d love to know.

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Photo from Total Greek

My name is Alice, and I’m addicted to cake. Especially cake made with Greek Yoghurt.  There is something about how moist the cake becomes that I find so incredibly moorish.

This Fig and Almond Cake, the brain child of Greek Cookery Writer and Chef Tonia Buxton, is one of the great new recipe offerings from Total Greek Yogurt (who also happened to be my amazing Britmums Live sponsors this year).

When they asked if I would like to make it for the family to test it out, how could I say no?

The result – a HUGE thumbs up.

Photo from Total Greek

Photo from Total Greek

The only thing I found was that the figs started to go a little mushy about 24 hours after the cake cooled, so if I were to make it again I would either eat it quicker (easy to do!) or make it without figs on top and just serve with some fig jam alongside the yoghurt.

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time:
40-45 mins
Serves:
10-12

Ingredients

  • 100g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g caster sugar, plus 1 tsp extra
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 180g ground almonds
  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla pod
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 12 figs

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of a 24cm loose-based cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
  4. Beat each egg separately, then, with the machine on medium speed, add them gradually, one at a time, to the bowl, adding another only once the previous egg is fully combined.
  5. Mix together the almonds, flour, salt, vanilla and cinnamon, and fold into the cake mixture. Mix until smooth, then fold in the yoghurt.
  6. Pour the cake mixture into the lined tin and level roughly with a palette knife or a spoon.
  7. Cut each fig vertically into four long wedges, and arrange in circles on top of the cake, just slightly immersed in the cake mixture.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170°C / 325°F / Gas Mark 3 and continue baking until it sets (about 40-45 minutes).
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool down before taking it out of the tin. Once cool, sprinkle with a teaspoon of caster sugar.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 438-365 Calories / 9-7.6g Protein / 29-24.5g Fat / 12-10g Saturated Fat / 34-28.5g Carbohydrates / 27-23g Sugars / 1.6-1.3g Fibre / 0.29-0.24g Salt

For more Greek inspired recipes from Total please visit their website.

Disclaimer – I was send the ingredients to make this cake free of charge to enable me to blog about it, all views however are my own.

 

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I am a huge fan of Total Greek Yogurt.  High in protein and low in fat, I find it the perfect replacement for cream, mayo and creme fresh in my kitchen. Plus is damn tasty!!

As part of their ongoing work to get us all cooking and eating better Total have recruited Greek Cookery Writer and Chef Tonia Buxton to create some great Greek recipes for us all to try at home.

First off we tried Tonia’s Lamb Youvesti recipe.  I knew it would be well received by little family, but I never imagined it to go down quite so well.  I made it for them 6 days ago and it’s been requested for dinner 4 times already since then.

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Even as a non meat-eater (it’s not that I am a veggie, it’s just a case of I don’t really like the taste/texture of many meat dishes) I did find this meal very tasty.  I couldn’t eat much as my body isn’t used to meat so it fills me up real quick, but the flavors were amazing.  The rich tomato sauce, mixed with the warming cinnamon flavors and creaminess of the Total yogurt, made for a warming wholesome family meal that I’m sure is to be a favorite for many years to come.

Is also a great ’1-pot’ dish which, even though it takes a good few hours to cook, really takes care of itself. Perfect for busy Mums like me.

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Cook Time: 1-3 hours
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 50g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt (plus 500g for serving)
  • 
5-9 tablespoons olive oil
  • 800g shoulder of lamb trimmed & cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 3 red onions, finely chopped
  • Salt & pepper to season
  • 4 sticks of cinnamon bark
6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 400g orzo pasta
  • 4-6 tbsp grated halloumi

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole dish and fry the lamb until it is sealed and golden on all sides.
  3. Remove the lamb from the dish and add a little more oil. Add the onions and constantly stir until they start to turn golden then add the garlic.
  4. Add the whole tomatoes in their juice and crush them with a spoon.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and add the cinnamon.
  6. Cover and bake for no less than an hour.
  7. Add the pasta and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Add more water if it looks a bit dry.
  8. 5 minutes before you serve, add the cheese and stir, then put back into the oven.
  9. Stir in 50g of Greek yoghurt, and serve with some extra dollops.

If you are not going to serve the Youvesti straight away take the casserole out of the oven before the pasta is totally cooked as the heat from the dish will keep cooking it. If you don’t it may become too soft.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 1006-671 Calories / 70-46.7g Protein / 41.8-28g Fat / 16-11g Saturated Fat / 87-58g Carbohydrates / 17-11g Sugars / 7.4-5g Fibre / 1.2-0.8g Salt

Disclaimer – I was sent the ingredients to make this dish thanks to Total Greek, however the views expressed and hungry family are all my own.

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