c May 2014 | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Espresso coffee more than just a drink

The one thing I missed earlier this year when I was ill, was going out and treating myself to cup of freshly brewed coffee. Now if I had a coffee pod machine at home it would of been less of a disappointment. Lucky for me my sister now has one as does a friend, and it is always a treat getting to choose from their selection of coffee pods when I visit. They press a button   and before I know it I am enjoying a fresh coffee that compares favourably to my favourite coffee shop and much better than my instant coffee at home. 

Of course you can do so much more than just drink coffee, cake is an obvious choice but do not forget the garden. Use your espresso coffee to make a yummy Coffee and Walnut cake, a favourite of my aunts. Caffe Cagliari recommend adding any coffee grounds left in your used pod to your compost heap, or how about sprinkling them around the base of your roses.

A good cup of coffee is dependant on the quality of the coffee.
Caffe Cagliari is a family company established in Modena, Italy and have been blending coffee since 1909. 
Every single cup is an exquisite masterpiece, the result of more than 100 years of knowledge and tradition. The qualitative and sensory standards of Espresso have been certified by the Italian Espresso National Institute (I.N.E.I.), which protects and promotes Italian Espresso.
According to Caffe Cagliari the "perfect Espresso" should have: Hazelnut-coloured cream with reddish hues, sometimes with dark-brown streaks, creating a fine and even mesh, with a thickness of 3-4 mm, compact and lasting. Full-body, round taste with a long persistence on the palate, balanced flavour.
You can enjoy Caffe Cagliari coffee in the UK as they make capsules/pods for Nespresso machines,  making it easy to enjoy quality espresso coffee at home.

I have been recompensed for this post.
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Gardening with Wilkinson

I recently received a delivery of a shiny new garden hand trowel and some flower seeds from Wilkinson, or Wilko as they are known to everyone.

I have been busy planting out my Red Chard seedlings in one of the raised beds, the trowel easy managed this well dug soil. Later I was digging out soil for my sweet peas, these are located in the ground near the greenhouse and garage wall. Here there is some serious clay soil and stones, the trowel levered them out. I was worried I may bend or even break the blade, but it stood up to the task. The blade is not thin stainless steel, but thick enough to withstand most gardening tasks.

Little Leo Sunflower seeds
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I planted out the Wilkinson Sunflower seeds, variety Little Leo into two large pots, following the guidance on the rear of the packet. Last year I had admired the dwarf Sunflowers my sister had in pots on her patio, really eye-catching. The seeds are jet black, so take care in placing them in the soil, if you drop them they are immediately camouflaged! They should be visible in the next 14 days. Keep an eye out on my Twitter and Facebook feeds as I will post update on their status.

Gardening with Wilkinson

I love… 
  • There is a very good selection of flower seeds at Wilkinson, they are priced from just 60p a packet.
  • Each seed packet contains very clear guidance of how, when and where best to plant the seeds. Great for novice gardeners.
  • Sturdy wooded handle on the trowel, which enabled a good grip even with my gardening gloves on.
Could do better…
  • The trowel was made in China and there was no mention if the wood being from sustainable source.
Perfect for…
  • Seeds suitable for novice to expert gardeners, including children.
  • The trowel is a must have for all gardeners.

The important stuff…
  • Hand trowel - 31cms height
    • Stainless steel blade, wooden handle.
    • RRP £4.00
  • Flower seeds
    • Packets of seeds start from 60p

Disclaimer: I was sent the trowel and seeds from Wilkinson for the purpose of  review. 
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Vanilla Macaroons Recipe and Using a Macaroon Mat

Macaroons are one of my sisters favourite sweet treats to eat, though I have never been tempted with them, not a huge fan of almonds. My sister kindly lent me her Marks and Spencers Delicious Macaroons book along with a special macaroon mat, which proved invaluable. Though a little time consuming they were reasonably easy to make.
macaroons vanilla recipe afternoon tea macaroon mat baking essential
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Recipe Chocolate Chip Shortbread & Review Heston Blumental Adjustable Rolling Pin

Review of Heston Blumental Adjustable Rolling Pin When you think of a rolling pin, most people think of a cylindrical piece of wood, I know I do did. so, when I was asked by Salter if I would like to review the Heston Blumental Adjustable Rolling Pin, I had already formed some sort of opinion. After all, how could one rolling pin differ from another.

The Heston Blumental Adjustable Rolling Pin is made from black plastic with a chrome end trim, and weighs just slightly heavy that a wooden rolling pin. It has a rolling width of 45cms. 

The main feature of the rolling pin is that it is adjustable - it allows you to use one of three interchangeable depth guides allowing you to control the thickness of the dough/pastry. You can choose from 3mm, 5mm, 8mm or no guides at all if you want to retain full control of your rolling pin! You do not have to worry about mislaying or losing the adjustable guides, they very cleverly all sit on the rolling pin for easy storage.

I found it very easy to screw and unscrew the ends of the rolling pin to adjust it for use, even with floury hands. Marked on the body of the rolling pin are width guides ranging from 5-30cm, which I am sure would be helpful if you are rolling out pastry for a pie dish. No more guess work as to whether your pastry is wide enough. 

You can also place the rolling pin into the fridge to chill. Many people know pastry is best rolled our cool, ideally you should put your pastry into the fridge for approx 30 minutes to chill before rolling out. Sometimes you can not afford to allow this extra time in your baking, this is where the chilled rolling pin helps out. Just be sure you place it in the fridge before you start baking.

Adjustable rolling pin with the 8mm depth guide

To put the rolling pin through its paces I decided to bake some Chocolate Chip Shortbread. It is important when making any rolled out biscuit that you go not toll them out too thin, in this case you want a reasonably thick biscuit.

I will put my hand up and admit my preconceptions of the adjustable rolling pin were very wrong. After using the rolling pin to make the chocolate chip shortbread here are some of my thoughts.

I love…
  • No sticking of dough - the plastic rolling pin did not stick to the dough. Yes I sprinkle flour onto the work surface to prevent the dough sticking, normally I would have to flour the wooden rolling pin and the dough to prevent the two sticking when rolling out. 
  • Even roll - the depth guides were most helpful there no need to worry about how much pressure I was apply to the rolling pin when rolling out. 
  • Chilly - even after just ten minutes in the fridge the rolling pin is cold, would recommend leaving it in for longer though.
Could do better…
  • Made in china - whenever I see this on an item my heart sinks, all those miles of travel. 
  • Brighter - would love to see the adjustable rolling pin in a choice of colours, but I guess that is not very Heston like. 

Perfect for… 

  • A great gift for a keen baker or cake decorator, the price compares well against a special sugar paste rolling pin of a similar size. 
The important stuff…
  • The adjustable rolling pin comes with a 2 year guarantee. 
  • Hand wash only 
  • In a presentation box 
  • RRP £21.99
Below is my recipe to make the Chocolate Chip Shortbread, I used the 8mm depth setting of the Heston Blumental Adjustable Rolling Pin.

Recipe Chocolate chip shortbread

  • bowl 
  • scales 
  • spatula or wooden spoon 
  • rolling pin 
  • 5cm / 2in pastry cutter 
  • baking sheet

110g / 4oz softened butter 
50g / 2oz golden caster sugar 
150gr / 5oz plain flour 
25g / 1oz corn flour 
25g / 1oz plain chocolate chips
  • cream together the sugar and butter until pale and soft
  • add the plain and corn flour combine together with a wooden spoon or spatula 
  • as the mixture is stating to come together add the chocolate chips 
  • you will find it easier to bring the dough together using your hands. You should have a firm dough that holds together. 
  • using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to cm . You will need to sprinkle some flour under the dough to prevent it sticking to the surface. 
  • using a cutter and place on the baking sheet 
  • bake in a pre-heated oven 170 degrees for approx 18 minutes, I like mine golden so the biscuit is a little crunchy but you can bake them for less time if you prefer. 

Disclosure - Salter sent me a Heston Blumnetal rolling pin for the purposes of review.
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