The Foodie Gift Hunter

Great gift ideas for fabulous foodies

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We’d eat all the pies!

March 4th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Foodie Travel, Places to shop online

Pie school

 

It’s British Pie Week, and they are certainly popular in our house, with chicken pie always having ranked as one of MGG’s favourite dinners. If we had to choose, then these would definitely be our favourite pies:

Bray’s Cottage – given our proximity to Melton Mowbray, then it’s always felt slightly wrong to love a non Melton Mowbray pork pie more than a local one, but we do. Let’s face it, we love them so much, MGG even did a 40 minute work experience on the stall with Sarah on our last visit to Norfolk. I bemoan the fact that there are no local stockists, and more that I am not organised enough to order them by post. In spite of many imitators, the onion marmalade one is still my favourite.

Hartland Pies – our second favourite pork pies, and definitely more local and easier to get hold of. The pork and stilton sums up two great local flavours, and also fond of the slightly more exotic for Melton pulled pork version too. Available in London and further afield from here too.

Pieminister – having long standing connections to Bristol, then we adopted these pies fairly early on, and am happy to find them all over the place now. To combine the two localities, then it would have to be a Moo and Blue pie for us, which is steak and Long Clawson Stilton. Although we’d prefer Colston Basset Stilton in this house.

Great North Pie Co. – I’m from the north, and pie does seem a very northern thing. And I love the Great North Pie Co for really taking the pies to the next level. Big winners at the British Pie Awards last year, and I’ve no doubt will be this year too if they continue to turn out things like Ox Cheek, Stout, Pearl Barley and Redcurrant. If you’re in the North West, find one of the markets they’re at and stock up!

I’m with MGG in that this is great comfort food, perfect for cold days, and therefore this week feels like the perfect time to indulge. Although we’re off to Australia soon, and apparently they like a pie or two, so we may have to test the southern hemisphere versions too.

Photo by Donna Sutton on Flickr. Sounds like my kind of school!

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Don’t try dunking these biscuits in your tea!

March 2nd, 2015 · Chocolate, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

I saw these at the weekend and just thought they were great fun!

 

chocolate biscuits

 

I think they’re very clever, and cover many of my favourite biscuits, so a tick for that, and then they’re made of chocolate, so another tick for that.

Just about perfect, other than they would be a bit rubbish if dunked in your tea! Good choice perhaps for Mother’s Day (March 15 here in the UK), especially if you deliver them alongside a cup of tea in bed. Just remember to point out whilst realistic, any dunking is purely at their own risk!

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Get the rolling pin out for Mother’s Day

February 28th, 2015 · Foodie gadgets, Foodie gifts

Rolling Pin

 

I’m not really sure what I think of this one, but it made me smile as to how you might compose your face if you received this as a gift!

So, a rolling pin, with your name embossed. Could be lovely if you do a lot of biscuit baking but not decorating. Or want to really make sure people know you really made it.

There again, it won’t be able to tell if you made it, or you’re just rolling out a block of Jus-Rol!

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What to do with Mr Hugh’s?

February 26th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts

I had a lovely surprise gift from a lovely member of the team yesterday:

 

Mr Hugh's

 

Now, I don’t know if I’ve been living under a rock and missed these coming to market, but I’ve never heard of Mr Hugh’s. These are their latest innovation according to their website, and I don’t think I’ve come across infused baking oils before.

So my question is, what to bake with them?

I’m thinking of doing the Mary Berry test and just trying a Victoria sponge with the vanilla infused one, as a good straight forward test. I’ve never baked with rapeseed oil before, so going to be interesting. I’ll keep you posted on how I get on, but love to hear any ideas anyone has.

Great British product though, and keen to explore how this works in baking.

 

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Helping kids get into noodles of all kinds

February 24th, 2015 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Just for fun

Noodle Kids

 

I got a great new book to review recently, called Noodle Kids, which has just been published. This is a great book for families who like to cook and eat together, or just looking for new recipes that kids might love, without them being all cutesy.

This is noodles in the broadest sense, not just the bowls full of the Chinese or Japanese style variety. So there’s stuffed noodles, covering everything from potstickers to ravioli, or saucy ones covering spaghetti to ramen.

I like that there are lots of ideas for getting social with food, how to really encourage kids to get stuck into making food, cooking food and enjoying eating food together. None of it is too complex, though some of it is going to be messy, but that’s got to be half the fun of it. Kids will love it, and cleaning up is an important part of learning to cook as well.

Cooking together, cleaning up together, eating together. Any book that gets us doing all of this together gets my vote. Published by Quarry Books, this is currently £15.99 at Waterstones.

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Time for a new cakestand

February 21st, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gadgets, Foodie gifts, Kitchenwares

Spring flowers

 

I can’t help but feel that Spring is on the way. I’ve got a jug of daffodils on the table, the nights are lighter and I haven’t had to scrape ice off the car for two days.

Got to be Spring!

 

Time for a cakestand

 

Which means it’ll soon be time for tea in the garden again, and I’m sure it needs a cakestand. I really love this pastel one from LSA, which is part of a beautiful collection from them. It would be a great gift for Mother’s Day, and I can imagine it appearing on a few wedding lists as well.

Or just decide to treat yourself!

Spring picture by Matthias Ripp on Flickr.

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A new apron for the mummy bears

February 19th, 2015 · Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

No sooner is Valentine’s Day out the way than Mother’s Day looms. So just to give you a starter for ten, I love this Mummy Bear apron from Heather Alstead Design.

 

Mummy bear apron

 

I’m not sure how practical the white part is, but then I’ve got all white aprons that just go in the washing machine on a regular basis. I think it’s fun and cute, without being naff. Of course it doesn’t mean that mum has to do the cooking on Mother’s Day, but if she likes to cook and bake, then it’s a great gift. I don’t think you can ever have too many aprons!

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Getting ready for Chinese New Year

February 17th, 2015 · Foodie gifts, Foodie things to do, Places to shop online

Dragon Dance

 

Thursday sees the start of the Chinese New Year, and ushers in the year of the sheep. I’ve written before about how much we like our Chinese food in this house and even though MGG will be away, I’ll have others to entertain that night so definitely menu planning.

I had a great conversation on Twitter with Wai Yee Hong (brilliant Chinese supermarket if you’re in and around Bristol) about what I could cook, and trying to find a menu that will suit all attending. I would have loved to have done a whole steamed fish, apparently often on the menu at this time, but not sure everyone would be up for that. I think I’ve come down to making prawn and ginger dumplings, which got the thumbs up and then probably a more westernised main course.

If you want some ideas, there’s a great page on the Wai Yee Hong website with some ideas for each course. You can order online from them, including the fresh and frozen section if you’re in the Bristol area, and there’s a whole page of New Year products.

There’s also some great ideas over on the Sous Chef site, although more for gifts than dinner perhaps. The Great Hamper of China would be great for anyone who is really seriously into their Chinese food, or you could even give them something like the Tabletop Hotpot. I wish I’d got organised and ordered the New Year Cake Recipe Kit, although perhaps I could google a recipe and give it a go, just for fun.

If you can get out and see a dragon dance, it really is an experience. In the meantime, I’m off to make some red envelopes ready to hand out some cash and good wishes.

Photo by Carrie Kellenberger.

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Getting ready for Pancake Day

February 15th, 2015 · British favourites, Foodie gifts, Places to shop online

Pancake race

 

Tuesday is Pancake Day, and I can’t wait. I love all forms of pancakes, from crepes to galettes, savoury and sweet, and all the way to American style pancakes too. So last time I was in France I invested in a good crepe pan like this one:

 

Crepe Pan

 

I’ve seen a few crepe pans when I’ve searched in the UK that have really quite high sides, whereas mine is very shallow lipped like this one, which makes flipping a lot easier. I use it for crepes and American pancakes, for crisping up pancetta and things like vegetable fritters. Though obviously not the deep fried variety.

This one is from Harts of Stur and whilst not cheap I’ve certainly had my money’s worth out of mine.

Pancake race photo by Pedro Figueiredo on Flickr.

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The Friday Five – Inspired by our travels

February 13th, 2015 · Cookbooks, Foodie gifts, Friday Five

Sydney

MGG and I are on a countdown as 5 weeks today we will be heading to Australia by way of Hong Kong, and we can’t wait. Neither of us have been to Australia, and I’m really excited about showing MGG my favourite parts of Hong Kong.

As usual, my best housesitters will be in residence, so wondering if I should leave them some appropriate cookbooks, or if that would just be rubbing salt into the wounds of not being on the trip. Well, on the offchance that it’s ok, then these would be on my list:

 

Dim Sum Small Bites Made Easy

 

Dim Sum: Small Bites Made Easy – I guarantee we will pack in a lot of dim sum during our two days in Hong Kong. I could happily live on dim sum during those two days, but have never attempted to make any at home. Maybe this would encourage me to give it a go. Though I’m still not sure I’d get the hang of the crimp on a Shanghai dumpling!

 

Easy Hong Kong Cooking

 

Easy Hong Kong Cooking at Home – I’ve not had a home cooked meal during my trips to Hong Kong, and I’m not entirely sure what would characterise Hong Kong cooking. Like in most major cities I’ve eaten many cuisines whilst I’ve been in the city, but never quite known what people cook at home. So this book has me quite intrigued!

 

bills sydney food

 

Bill’s Sydney Food – so, in my imagination, all Australian’s live like Bill Granger. Not to mention eat like his recipe books read. I love his books, and I know it’s summer when I reach for them. I’m thinking that even if I don’t get to eat at one of his places in Australia then maybe I’ll treat myself to this book as a lovely reminder of hopefully great meals we will have had.

 

the cook's companion

 

The Cook’s Companion – I’m told that Stephanie Alexander’s book is considered a must have in Aussie kitchens, so could be a good addition. I like some of her later books, which reflect the work she’s gone on to do in education around kitchen gardens, so definitely think it’s worth a look.

 

quay

 

Quay: Food Inspired by Nature – I don’t imagine that we’ll be eating at Quay (although guess we could press our noses against the window) but Peter Gilmore is definitely one of Sydney’s poster boys on the restaurant front. I have featured it before when I wrote about my five Wizards of Oz, never imagining that 3 years later I’d be going past his front door. Still love the look of it as a book though.

We are so excited about this trip, and look forward to sharing stories when we get back. In the meantime, if anyone has any hints, tips or recommendations for Sydney, Alice Springs or Port Douglas then would love to hear from you!

Photo by Ankur Gulati on Flickr.

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