Monday, 26 March 2012

Easter Chocolate Treats

We were offered the chance to carry out a chocolate review by Hotel Chocolat and, having looked at their website to see the gluten free range, Sous Chef J was keen we accepted.  He chose the Easter Bunny Basket to try as he liked the selection of items it contains.

When it arrived, Sous Chef J was quick to take some pics of the goodies.  As a boy who won't eat 'normal' eggs and soldiers, the thought of chocolate ones was most appealing.

Caramel & Co - mini slab of chocolate with toppings of florentine, cinder toffee and caramel buttons.  Sous Chef J says "it's brilliant, the chocolate is lovely and smooth. I like the caramel but am not keen on the cinder toffee bits as they're too crunchy for me".  I, on the other hand, liked the florentine and cinder toffee pieces very much indeed - which is just as well as that's pretty much all I got to taste!

The Bunny Lick is not, as the name may suggest, something for a four legged friend, but is as Sous Chef J says "a solid chocolate, shaped like a bunny, that's on a stick".  The milk chocolate bunny didn't last long as it was enthusiastically eaten.

Next Sous Chef J chose the Classic Eggs and Soldiers - 5 praline milk chocolate half eggs with a troop of 5 white chocolate dipping soldiers.  First of all, he was most impressed with the shrink wrap cover - it had a pull section and meant he had speedy access to the delights within.  Opening the box revealed a layer of half eggs and, underneath, another layer of dipping soldiers.  The contents looked very appealing and tasted just as good as they looked.  In relation to the treats he says "these are egg-scellent".  I can add no more!

Finally, the Tiddly Chicks packet was explored.  Again this had an easy to open wrapper which was well received.  There are 8 chicks in the pack and they are made out of solid milk chocolate.  Having beheaded one, Sous Chef J took a pic to show their "insides"... and proceeded to chomp on the rest of the chick.  The chocolate was smooth and tasty.

The Hotel Chocolat Easter Bunny Basket was full of different treat items, all of which were gluten free, and Sous Chef J thought they were more fun than a "standard, boring, Easter egg".  At £22 it's by no means cheap (and doesn't cheep because it's a bunny not a chick) but Sous Chef J thinks it was a great to have been lucky enough to get one sent for him to review.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Slow Cooker Duck

The other weekend we picked up a duck crown which was on offer.  Looking at its shape, we wondered whether it would suit slow cooker cooking.  So, we gave it a go.

Bearing in mind that duck is a fatty bird, the bottom of the cooker was covered with carrot and potatoes cut to about 2cm in thickness (you could also add onions or garlic).  This would act as a trivet during the cooking process.

 Next, the duck was laid on top of the vegetables, its skin was pierced all over with a sharp knife and it was seasoned well.
 Finally, the lid was placed on the slow cooker and the meat was left to cook on LOW for about 8hours.  Given that the bird cooked in its own juices, the skin did not crisp up, so we removed it and this picture shows the duck without skin but resting on the vegetables and juices cooking had released.
 To crisp up the duck skin, it was placed in a frying pan and heated until it was brown and crunchy.  The fat was drained off and this was the result...
 The bird fell off the bone so no carving was required.  It was served with the vegetables from the slow cooker and some steamed cauliflower and broccoli.  It was delicious and so, so simple!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Tuna Bake

Today we set about making another longterm family favourite recipe into a Gluten Free version. The original recipe called for condensed chicken soup but that all seems to contain gluten so we made a substitution using mayonnaise and got cooking to see if it would work.

What we were going to use was 2 tins of tuna (drained), one tin of chopped tomatoes, 2 packets of Burt's sea salted crisps, some grated mature cheddar, some frozen peas and sweetcorn (from a can or frozen - works well with either) and some mayonnaise.


Having drained the tuna, it was added to a pyrex casserole dish and flaked using a fork.  The peas and sweetcorn were added to the dish and it was mixed through.

Next, we levelled the tuna, mayo, veg mix and added the tin of chopped tomatoes.

Then, it was over to Sous Chef J to break the crisps into little pieces before adding grated cheese to the bags and giving them a shake to incorporate the cheese into the mix.  Finally, the cheesy crisp mix was added to the dish as the topping.

The dish was then placed in a pre-heated (170ÂșC) fan oven and cooked for 40 minutes until it was bubbling throughout.

It's an easy meal that we all loved... there were no leftovers to bother with!