Breakfast specials for Mother’s Day or any day

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Bring a smile to breakfast on Mother's Day

If you’re planning breakfast in bed for a mum this weekend, then you may well know already what mum’s favourite dish would be (eggs Benedict for me. Or a slice of toast). But if you need to get something lovely in, then here’s a few to consider:

 

Cinnamon & Pecan Granola from Spoon

 

Not every mum will favour a cooked breakfast (or have kids that are ready to cook one) so something like a good granola might be a great starting point. I love the sound of Cinnamon and Pecan from Spoon, as these are two of my favourite things, plus when you then count in the maple syrup it’s made with then I’m in.

 

Forman & Field Breakfast in Bed Hamper

 

If you wanted to combine a gift and breakfast, then the Breakfast in Bed Hamper from Forman & Field does both and with great taste. I mean, smoked salmon, Peter’s Yard crispbreads, Chapel Down fizz and some great coffee? I’d be lucky to get out of bed before lunch!

 

Old Spot Sausages from Premier Gourmet

 

Maybe a sausage sandwich would go down well? How about some Old Spot pork sausages from Premier Gourmet Foods? Old Spot gives a delicious flavour to the sausages, definitely not your average banger.

 

Luxury Taster Box from Hobbs House Bakery

 

If your mum would just love a plate of good toast, then how about a selection of breads that will be fabulous, toasted or not, from Hobbs House Bakery. This is the luxury tasting box and includes brioche and fig and walnut, so really covering everything from breakfast to end of dinner cheese board.

 

Anna Jones A Modern Way to Eat - Bircher Muesli recipe

 

For something very simple to prepare, as long as you’re organised and start the night before, then a bowl of a delicious Bircher muesli might just do the trick. There’s a gorgeous recipe over on the Jamie Oliver site, which is actually from “A Modern Way to Eat” by Anna Jones, one of the books I’ve been recommended recently.

For most mums, it won’t matter what you make, the fact that you took her breakfast will be a gift in its own right. Though also doing the washing up and not leaving the kitchen looking like a bomb has gone off will help an awful lot too!

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Time for smoked fish

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Tolsta Beach - what treats does this beach deliver for food lovers?

Just a quick one as I can’t personally vouch for the site, but Hebridean Seafresh contacted me on Twitter and I thought they had a great range of fish. They work with small independent producers in and around the Outer Hebrides, which is a great thing to be doing in an area that I imagine doesn’t have a whole heap of opportunities.

I’ve never been to that part of the world (I think Inverness is the furthest North I’ve made it) but can only imagine how clean and deep those waters are, and so got to be great fish to be starting with. And then you add on some great smoking and curing, you’ve got to be in for a tasty treat. The smoked fish box sounds like a great treat, with kippers, haddock, smoked trout and smoked mackerel.

There are different cures as well, with peat, whisky and sweet cure, not to mention a honey roasted salmon cutlet. Basically, I don’t think you could go wrong if you like smoked fish. It’s a smaller, less well known business than someone like Forman & Field, but sure worth a go. Thinking my Olympic opening ceremony get together might have a fish course now.

UPDATE: Apologies, Hebridean Seafresh seem to no longer be trading.

 

Beautiful shot of Tolsta Beach by Travels with a Dog and Camera  (Andrew Bennett) on Flickr.

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Coming round to the smoked salmon cause

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Fabulous smoked salmon from Forman and Field - great gift for a food lover

I’ve always wanted to love smoked salmon, as there are so many great dishes and rituals I associate with it. The muslin covered lemon half. Slapped between the two halves of a bagel with cream cheese. Paper thin on crust-less brown bread with good butter.

But I’ve just never really enjoyed it, particularly the texture, which I’ve always found a bit slimy. Fine if it was cooked through in something like scrambled eggs but not going for the simpler servings. Until now.

The people at Forman & Field offered to send me a sample of their London Cure smoked salmon, and of course I said yes, always game to try most things. According to their information, this cure was created by their founder, Harry Forman, and was designed to show off the fish, rather than disguise it (you can imagine this may have been the aim at some point of unscrupulous fishmongers!). He wanted to be able to taste the fish, not the smoke.

Now, I really like salmon, even if I’ve never loved the smoked stuff before. What I loved about this was that it was most definitely not slimy in texture, it was firm, mildly smokey flavoured and tasted of salmon but not fishy. It was as delicious on its own as it was stirred through a pasta sauce. It does say on the site that this is low in salt, and I can believe this, as we had to season quite heavily when cooking with it.

If you wanted to give a smoked salmon lover a real treat, then you could treat them to a whole unsliced side, perfect for a big party or special occasion. All those things I love about it, the ceremony and ritual, could be amplified by bringing this to the table and slicing it yourself. Make sure the recipient is confident about handling it though, as a whole side would come untrimmed and in need of pin boning. Worth the effort though I imagine!

You can treat someone to the London Cure from £9.95, with a whole side being £42.50, but they do reckon you could feed 12 to 14 from that. You could also add in black bread with caraway or Peter’s Yard crispbreads to a gift, so that they can tuck into this straight away. I also thought their gravadlax selection looked both interesting, with cures including beetroot and a wasabi and ginger cure, as well as good value at £7.50.

Forman & Field have never struck me as the cheapest place to hunt for a gift for a food lover, but if everything comes up to this standard then they’re definitely delivering quality for the money. Which makes it a good source for the future to me.

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A hamper for Easter? Why not?

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I’ve obviously fallen off Forman & Field’s mailing list, as haven’t had a catalogue fro them in an age. But scanning the website I saw that they were offering a hamper of Easter essentials. Which I have to admit seems like a great idea for those strangest of food lovers, those who don’t like chocolate.

No, I don’t understand it either, but even I could be tempted by some of these essentials. I mean, an Easter morning breakfast including the London Cure smoked salmon would be a great start to the day. You could have a good lunch with TrealyFarm Air Dried Ham and a slice of chicken and ham pie. There’s even a decent glass of white wine to wash it all down with.

There is at least a little chocolate involved in this hamper, with some passion fruit truffles. But I would most look forward to the individual Simnel cakes, as love a good Simnel cake.

Great treats, decent wicker hamper, and not a bad price for such treats at £65.95, plus £9.95 delivery to mainland addresses. If the Easter Bunny is out of chocolate then this is perhaps a good family treat for food lovers of all ages, except the littlest chocolate lovers!

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Where do foodies register for their wedding?

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Where would foodies register? What to buy food lovers for their weddings

Being of the nosey/curious type, I love looking at the search terms people have put in to get to the blog. There’ve been all kinds of weird and wonderful ones, not to mention some very err, creative, spellings. But this one seemed an entirely appropriate question, and the sort of thing I would want to know the answer to! So, here’s a few thoughts from me:

1. How about seeing if your favourite local deli or wine shop will run a list for you? In fact, I am surprised not more local specialist stores have got into this lucrative business. Sadly, not even Ocado seem to have a listing facility.

2. Thankfully some of the wine retailers do seem to have caught onto this, so if you’re foodies who love wine, then this might be a good route for you. As one would expect, Berry Bros & Rudd will run a list for you, to which you can add wine, spirits, accessories, wine tastings and even wine courses at their school. For something with more national coverage, then Majestic also offer a wine list service. They have everything from fine wine through to champagne, beers and spirits, so you could really lay down a very interesting, and quaffable cellar.

3. Natoora offers a really wide selection of goodies from Europe, from fresh stuff through to tinned, cheese through to meat and all kinds of veg. They don’t offer a wedding list service but your guests could buy gift certificates that you could have an awful lot of fun spending after the wedding! As an alternative, check out Forman & Field who also do gift vouchers, and there’s a great choice of stuff that you could spend it on.

4. A wedding would seem the perfect opportunity to upgrade your kitchen equipment. I would be really happy to have a list at Divertimenti and would not only load it up with great stuff for the kitchen, but also with classes at the cookery school. If you wanted things for all the house but still really good, not to mention good looking, kitchen stuff, then Heal’s would be another good choice, or you can register a wishlist at Habitat. And, of course, there’s always John Lewis!

 

I'd put it on my list!

 

5. Not on the High Street is one of my favourite sites, and you can register a list with them. There would be fabulous things for the kitchen and dining room, like beautiful cake stands, stylish coffee machines and funky personalised mugs. There are also some interesting food options as well, with everything from an Over Indulgence Hamper (how lovely to come back from honeymoon to this) to organic chocolate, great oils and interesting mustard.

6. I do love my cheese, but yet to find someone with a listing facility. Paxton & Whitfield offer gift vouchers, so I guess you could run your own list and ask for those. You could then spend them as you needed cheese. Or have a look at the Cheese Club from Teddington Cheese (great cheese shop, unlikely location), where you could ask people to buy you one of each theme, which covers selections suitable for St Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Christmas, as well as one for each month of the year. The Fine Cheese Co in Bath also offer something similar, and people could buy you a whole year’s worth of deliveries.

7. You may have also gathered that I have a reasonably big cookbook addiction. Which would have made listing with Amazon a perfect choice for me. It would enable you to explore the far reaches of your food reading and cooking desires. You can explore old and new, rare and not so rare. I guess Amazon is almost like a huge department store now, so you can also list for lots of equipment too. Just don’t forget the books.

So, that’s a few suggestions for a couple who love their food as much as they love each other! Happy listing!

Interesting wedding cupcakes taken by clevercupcakes on Flickr.


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Nothing fishy about fish

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Gone fishing!

 

I was really interested in an article that got tweeted earlier about the fish cooking masterclasses that RockFish Grill in Bristol are running, to give people more confidence in choosing and cooking fish and seafood. You can pop in for the free weekly masterclass on a Wednesday at 11am, if you happen to be near Whiteladies Road, and I would think it was very worthwhile doing so. Lets face it, it could be 15 minutes that ramps up your cooking repertoire, and I am sure you will end up coming home with a bit of fish you’ve been inspired to cook!

If you really want to start digging into the subject, then RockFish do a full day cookery class on a Monday, which is £175 for the day.Given that includes lunch and a glass of wine, I think that’s a great deal, and would make a great gift for any foodie. If you’re down in Devon, then you can join owner Mitch Tonks to have a day of learning to cook fish in his kitchen in Brixham, same deal, just even fresher fish! (UPDATE, sadly these masterclasses seem to have stopped now)

Red Letter Days offer three fishy gift experience, from sushi making through to a fish and seafood masterclass, and Last Minute have a day with Keith Burke learning the tricks of the trade.  And of course, you could always learn at Rick Stein’s school, he’s pretty hot on fish apparently!

If you have a local fishmonger, then please go out and support them, and also ask their advice. Ask them what fish is good, how to cook it, how they can prepare it for you. We are in the Midlands, not renowned for its proximity to the sea, so a bit short on fishmongers around here. If you want to buy online, then you can buy from the Cornish Fishmonger, Wings of St Mawes, who have been in the business for over 25 years.

I know people who have ordered from The Fish Society and been really pleased with it, and as a gift the selections seem really well thought through and interesting. I have to say, I thought they were quite expensive though. Seafood Direct may not be quite so sophisticated but the fish seemed better value. If I wanted to send some interesting fish though, I would check out Forman & Field.

Right now though, I would fancy fishing for my own somewhere warm! My best fishing day was with King David tours in Tobago, catching bonitos and taking them back to Cuffie River where they got served up for all the residents for dinner. What I wouldn’t give to be there right now! Virgin, book me a space!

Fabulous fishing photo by papalars on Flickr.

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Nothing, and everything, fishy here

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Fishy goodness from Forman & Field
Fishy goodness from Forman & Field

I was intrigued to suddenly receive a catalogue from Forman & Field. I always seem to get a very random selection of catalogues, but this one ticked a lot of the right boxes for me.

And I did a bit of research on Twitter to see what the reaction was, and what other people’s experiences had been. I only got positive experiences back, which may mean it’s all good. Or those who have had bad experiences aren’t on Twitter.

If, like me, you’re not familiar with them, the starting point appears to be in smoked salmon, with the parent company H Forman & Son having been in the stuff for over 100 years. They are most famous for the London cure, which is a much lighter process, as it is cured with rock salt first and then given just a very light smoke. You can buy a few slices, or a whole side plus all the kit you would need to do it properly yourself.

The three cure gravadlax got a thumbs ups, which is certainly unusual and tasty sounding. Not everywhere will you come across dill, beetroot and wasabi cures! Looks very nice too, and at just over £5 is a nice indulgent treat for any foodie, either for yourself or as a gift. Or for even more indulgent cues, then the potted lobster also got some very good feedback. This is really good looking, and perhaps less difficult for someone to work out as a gift, but definitely with a hint of luxury. A recipient of a Great Taste Award, the lobster is potted in lobster infused butter and chives, so you’re definitely guaranteed a full on flavour.

But it’s certainly not all about the fish. There were positive comments for the poussins, and you’ll also find unusual things like porchetta, suckling pig and mutton, or unusual cuts like a three bird roast and game roulade. Got a sweet tooth? Thumbs up went to the Tunisian puddings, Christmas Panettone and Butter Pudding, and Nadell’s Macaroons, which were favourably compared to Laduree.

There are some great British suppliers pulled together here. From this neck of the woods there is Lincolnshire plum loaf from Myers, Colston Bassett Stilton and Mrs King’s pork pies. If they’ve selected that quality from our local produce, that gives me great confidence in the suppliers they have chosen to work with. So if you wanted to put together a meal wtih good ingredients from around the UK, this looks like a good one stop shop as an alternative to a local supplier.

These are also wonderful choices for gifts for food lovers, whether you buy single ingredients or some of their interesting choices of hampers. The Smokehouse Crate has a great selection to work through: smoked salmon, smoked salmon pate, the aforementioned potted lobster, smoked tuna, sweet mustard and dill sauce, and keta caviar. All this in a handsome wooden crate for just under £80. Not cheap, but would you really want cheap versions of these products? For under £30, I would also have a look at the Perfect Parfait set, good choice for a very reasonable price.

So, this seems like a great source of great British produce, and for that reason I would most definitely consider shopping with them. Worth adding to your favourites I would say. Should you be in the neighbourhood, they also have opened a restaurant at their HQ, check out the review over on the Dos Hermanos blog. I’d go!

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