Traditional English Puddings: hot, sticky & delicious

image2 - Copy (33)Is there anyone who doesn’t like a pudding? I’m talking about those sweet, hot, steaming desserts that are so comforting yet feel ever so slightly indulgent. Having spotted a gap in the market for high quality, handmade and quintessentially English puddings, after 18 months of research and recipe development Kate Lyons and her husband Max started their company “pudd’Eng” in 2016.

The current range consists of six puddings: marmalade; sticky toffee; syrup; chocolate & ale; treacle & walnut and spotted dick. Despite being a comparatively young business, the company has already won an award: the chocolate & ale pudding – made with Valrhona chocolate and ale from the Norfolk based Why Not Brewery – won the “Sweet Bakes” category in the 2016 Great British Food Awards. There are three sizes available: half-pint, pint and two pint and there are no artificial preservatives in the puddings.

The flavours are exceptionally good, for example, a hint of Earl Grey tea and lemon in the spotted dick; English whisky in the treacle and walnut pudding and a touch of ginger in the sticky toffee pudding which is topped with a velvety butterscotch sauce. When you’re ready to eat your chosen pudding, it can be steamed or if you really can’t wait, it can be popped in a microwave.

The pudd’Eng range is sold at selected retail outlets in Norfolk (and Suffolk) including: Walsingham Farm Shop, Back to the Garden in Letheringsett and City Farm Shop in Norwich. Kate will also be attending events such as The Royal Norfolk Show, The Aylsham Show and The North Norfolk Food Festival. However, if you live further afield the puddings are now available by mail order via the website and there are plans to develop partnerships with retailers in other parts of the UK. If you want to stock up, the puddings can be frozen and eaten at a later date – if you can wait that long!

www.puddeng.com

Twitter: @eatpuddeng

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eatpuddeng

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Juicing – A Product Review

When I was asked to review the L’Equip XL Juicer I was rather excited as I have spent silly money in the past buying bottled or commercially made ‘fresh’ juices (I get suckered in at places like Planet Organic or Wholefood Market) so I thought it was an ideal opportunity to have a go myself. My only concern was that the juicer in question might be really high tech because I’m a simple soul and like kitchen equipment to be straightforward and easy to use. (You have to remember that I started work back in the days when telex machines were all the rage, we had no computers and used carbon paper to make copies of typed letters!)

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With that in mind, I was pleased to find that when I took the juicer out of the box, it was already put together and I only had to remove some packing paper. I was also very happy to see that the only ‘control’ was the on-off switch – nothing complicated at all. The essential components are also dishwater friendly which is a bonus.

The L’Equip XL Juicer comes with quite a large container for the pulp which is extracted but you provide your own glass or jug to collect the juice from the small spout. It also comes with a ‘pusher’ with which you press down on the fruit and vegetables to facilitate their progression through the juicer. The juicer as a whole is rather compact which makes it suitable for kitchens where space is at a premium.

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Having rummaged in the fridge and my fruit bowl, I decided to make two juices: carrot, orange and ginger and then apple, courgette and spinach. While I do like freshly squeezed fruit juices, I find that adding greens and other vegetables makes them more robust and filling and of course, we are always being reminded that we should be consuming more vegetables. To give my juices a bit more ‘ooomph’, I also selected some other ingredients, namely turmeric powder and nutmeg. (I found a courgette after I’d taken the photo!)

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My next step was to wash, peel and cut the fruit and vegetables into big chunks. The L’Equip juicer has a wide feeding tube but it’s easier to push items through if they are even sizes. I didn’t bother about removing pips or cores from the fruit as I knew they would be removed during the juicing process and end up in the pulp container. I peeled the oranges though as the skin and pith can be quite bitter and could have potentially challenged the juicer a bit too much.

Then I was ready to go! With the fruit and vegetables on a chopping board next to the juicer, I switched it on and started feeding through the carrots, orange chunks and a 2cm piece of unpeeled ginger. I also added ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder because I like the subtle taste and warmth it gives. I pressed down on the pusher to ensure everything went through smoothly and added more oranges and carrots and repeated the action. It only took a few seconds and the bright orange juice started coming out of the spout straight into the waiting glass. It’s worth mentioning that I felt the juicer wasn’t too noisy although obviously I’ve never had one before to compare it to.

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I then made a second juice with the apples, courgette (well it was sitting in the fridge with no other purpose in mind!) and spinach plus a dash of nutmeg powder. The instructions for the juicer advise that if you use leafy greens, you should roll them up into a more solid ball so I made the effort to squash the spinach up as tightly as I could. This juice was a beautiful vivid green and it’s sad that a lot of people won’t even try a green juice purely because of the colour. You really don’t taste the spinach – or the courgette for that matter – so I’d suggest trying it.

I had wanted to try a juice with kale – as it’s such an up and coming vegetable – but unfortunately my local supermarkets didn’t have any apart from the chopped curly variety but the chunks of stalk aren’t good for juicing – too bitter & really hard.

Once I’d made the juices, it was time to wash the juicer. Dismantling it was really simple and I easily washed the parts in the sink, dried them and quickly reassembled the machine ready for next time. I’m keen to try other juices with ingredients like beetroot (good quality ready-made beetroot juice is really expensive to buy in the shops), blueberries and mangoes which I’ve had in home-made smoothies before. Smoothies are very filling – especially if they are so thick you almost have to chew them – but over spring and summer it’ll be good to have the lighter option of juices.

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The pulp that resulted from the two juices that I made was pretty dry which indicates that the juicer does a very good job of extracting as much juice as possible. Rather than waste the pulp I’ll use it to make vegetable soup or vegetable patties, which is a benefit you don’t get from shop-bought juices.

Overall and bearing in mind I’m a juicing novice with nothing to compare this model to, I’d rate the L’Equip XL Juicer with pulp extraction as follows:

Easy to use:            5/5

Easy to clean:         5/5

Easy to assemble:   5/5

A note for any followers of ‘Slimming World’ (like me) – when you make fresh juice it does contain Syns. I’ve checked these on the Slimming World app and generally you have to calculate 1.5 – 2 Syns per 100mls of fresh fruit or vegetable juice which isn’t excessive in my opinion so you could treat yourselves to an occasional fresh fruit or green juice every once in a while without affecting weight loss. Making your own juice is so much better than buying it from a shop because there are no added preservatives or bulking ingredients.

One final point – I’d recommend drinking the juices within 15 minutes of making them as they can discolour if you leave them too long (green juices have a tendency to look a bit ‘muddy’ if left although the flavour is unaffected). If you decide to make a juice and keep it in the fridge overnight, it may separate but will be fine once you stir it.

 

Disclaimer: Steamer Trading provided me with the L’Equip Juicer in return for an honest and objective review. The above represents my genuine opinion of this product and I’d be happy to discuss my first juicing experience further with anyone who is considering buying one. I can be contacted via email: littlepinkkitchen@hotmail.com.

 

The juicer is available to purchase here:  https://www.steamer.co.uk/electricals/juicers-blenders/l-equip-215-xl-juicer.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My thoughts on the ‘Blogger Blackmail’ story

I set up my food related blog comparatively recently and I do it as a hobby. I’ve written articles in the past for local newspapers and other publications – sometimes for a nominal fee but mostly for free – because I enjoy writing and I get a little thrill when I see something I’ve worked on in print. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some suppliers of foodie items / ingredients and written about their products, which they have kindly sent me to test or I’ve created a recipe for them. No money has changed hands and I have written honest reviews on the goods I’ve received. Yes, they were positive reviews because I liked the products. If I hadn’t liked them, I would have contacted the suppliers and told them that I had reservations and why. I would not have printed a negative review without speaking to the supplier and to be honest, I believe that giving them feedback directly would be more useful than writing a scathing article advising people to steer clear of XX product.

Likewise I’ve written honest reviews of restaurants, tea shops and cafes that I’ve visited in different towns. I’ve always paid for my food and drinks and the venues have not known that I was going to review them. It shouldn’t make a difference anyway because good food and service should be provided at all times and not just when you are aware a review may be carried out.

There are many excellent food and lifestyle bloggers who are fortunate enough to make a living from their blogs and associated activities and that’s great. What isn’t so great is when you hear of people trying to use their ‘food blogger status’ to obtain free stuff from a supplier and when they don’t get it, writing a damning post or article about the company in question. I heard about something like this last week (you couldn’t avoid it really as it was all over social media) and was quite shocked how so much ‘dirty laundry’ was aired.

It seems a food blogger contacted a bakery to ask if she could try their goods and write about them on her blog. The bakery agreed but when the blogger turned up, she was unhappy with the small selection of macarons and sweet treats she was offered and apparently asked for several boxes of goodies which would have cost about £100. The bakery declined and then the blogger wrote a negative piece about her experience after having purchased two (namely ONE macaron and ONE marshmallow) items herself.

The bakery then retaliated in print and it all got quite difficult. You can find out the ins and outs of this particular case on Twitter or Google by typing in the phrase ‘blogger blackmail’. I appreciate that there are two sides to every story and the whole incident probably came down to poor communication by both parties but the ensuing fall-out resulted in negative publicity for both the blogger and the bakery.

I am one of hundreds (probably thousands really) of people who write a blog and I would be mortified if anyone thought my intentions were not honourable. While I write for pleasure and in my free time, if I can build relationships with people who produce goods and occasionally test out things for them, I’m happy to do that. I have approached one or two suppliers of things I’d wanted to try and when they have sent me some items, I’ve written about them and commented about them on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve also recommended certain ingredients that I really like whether they were free samples or paid for.

What struck me about the blogger in question is her assertion that it took her 8 hours to work on a blog post including her research time, taking good photographs, making notes, typing up, etc. This vast effort – in her opinion – fully justified her request to the small bakery of £100 worth of goods. I seem to recall supermodels saying in the past they didn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000. Is £100 of cakes and biscuits the blogging equivalent of this?

The blogger also remarked that ‘writing doesn’t pay well’ and she doesn’t make a habit of using her free time producing content and marketing a brand ‘for peanuts’. She added that she has a right to value what she produces and politely negotiates this. Unfortunately her conduct with the bakery in question doesn’t support that. Interestingly, she states that she is an engineer by trade and that her blog, in so many words, is ‘amateur writing’. I’d respond to that by saying that as an ‘amateur’ and not being so well known in the blogging world (although she has now gained a certain notoriety thanks to the joys of social media), she should treat prospective contacts with a little more grace.

The bakery in question said they agreed to her request for some free samples in return for a positive review purely to get their name up on the SEO rankings. The owner said that when they refused the £100 boxes of treats, the blogger insinuated she would give them a bad review. She returned later to purchase her two small items and later posted unflattering photos and comments about them, although these have apparently since been deleted.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that a blogger and small bakery have both received some adverse publicity they could have done without. I believe the unfortunate event was potentially due to a lack of communication on both sides about what the expectations were. I hope it doesn’t put companies and suppliers off working with bloggers because mutual respect and understanding can foster excellent long-term relationships which benefit all parties. This incident really does demonstrate that biting the hand that feeds you is not a good idea.