April, 2012

Apr 12

Cooking with Turkey

I’ve recently started cooking more with Turkey.  My 6 foot plus athletic boyfriend doesn’t think a meal is a proper meal without lots of meat, and in an attempt to eat less red meat; we have started to cook with turkey more and more. What we particularly like about it, is that it is a very healthy source of lean protein and great quality lean meat is very reasonable – much more so than chicken or pork.

I buy my turkey from a local butcher. They sell local (reared in the county) free-range turkey at far less per kilo than chicken. I bought half a turkey breast, which is an enormous quantity of meat (no wastage there) for the price of six free-range chicken breasts. I found it surprising how many butchers actually sell local free-range turkey – it is not as seasonal as it may seem!

I thought I would share two of our favourite turkey recipes for cheap, quick and nutritious everyday meals.

Sweet and Sour Turkey

Serves a family of 4, or me and my hungry boyfriend!

A really tasty dish with a lovely combination of flavours and textures. We always enjoy this with brown rice (I think the texture of brown rice really works well here)

In case you think I have gone mad, I always buy good quality whole Italian plum tomatoes instead of chopped. I think they have a much better flavour. I pour the tin of tomatoes into a large bowl and crush the tomatoes with my hands before adding them to any dish. I learnt this on an Italian cookery course at Caldesi in Marylebone, and have been following it since.


  • 500g turkey breast, cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1” fresh ginger root, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 x 400g tin tomatoes, crushed or chopped
  • 1 x small tin pineapple rings in juice, cut into 1” chunks
  • 6 x Peppadew peppers, chopped into quarters
  • A couple of good glugs of good quality soy sauce (I buy Clearspring as it is lovely and also gluten free, meaning it is suitable for both of us!)


Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the garlic until it starts soften slightly. Don’t let it brown. Put the rice on to cook

Add the turkey chunks and cook until they are browned. This should take around 10 minutes.

Add the ginger, tomatoes, pineapple and peppers and cook for another 10 minutes or so until the turkey is cooked through.

Serve on a bed of rice and finish with a generous glug of soy sauce.

Quick turkey casserole

 This casserole can be made in about 20 minutes if you are pushed for time. It is equally good made in the slow cooker and left to cook for several hours.

I serve this with some mashed potato. We like this on a Sunday evening when we have been out all day and I can’t be bothered to cook anything more laborious! Sorry about the quality of the photos, we were desperate to tuck in!

Serves a family of 4, or me and my hungry boyfriend!


  • 500g turkey breast, cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin tomatoes, crushed or chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 6 x Peppadew peppers, chopped into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (reduce to a teaspoon if you are not such a fan of their flavour!)


 1)   Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onion and garlic until they start soften slightly. Don’t let them brown.

2)   Add the turkey chunks and cook until they are browned. This should take around 10 minutes.

3)   Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, peppers and fennel seeds and let it simmer away for another 20 minutes or so until the turkey is thoroughly cooked through

4)   Serve with mashed potato


I am entering these recipes into the British Blogger competition over at I love Turkey http://www.britishturkey.co.uk/. For more information on the Peppadew peppers I used, take a look at their website www.peppadew.com











Apr 12

Gluten free Coconut and lime cakes – Kenwood vs. Kitchen Aid

I was recently challenged by Kenwood to try out their Kenwood Chef against my beloved Kitchen Aid to see how I thought the two machines would compare. I was really keen to give this a go.

My Kenwood on loan

My old faithful Kitchen Aid

Kitchen Aid stand mixers seem to be so popular and have been for many years. They are a lifestyle choice for so many people. What does it say about you and your kitchen to have a snazzy top of the range mixer permanently gracing your kitchen counter? Sounds silly, but I think lots of people see it this way – they can’t be taken seriously as a keen home cook without one, perhaps? I have to say though, they are a complete lifesaver for professional bakers and keen cooks just like me.  The stand mixer has completely revolutionized the way I cook, which has been great for me and so many others. Hands free cake and bread making really does speed up the amount of time spent in the kitchen, and especially if, like me, you are in there all day most days, that can make such a difference to your day. Part of me was a little concerned though, after I had accepted this challenge. What if the Kenwood was better than my Kitchen Aid? Having forked out best part of £400 for my mixer, how would I feel about that?

Prejudices well and truly cast aside, I set about choosing my recipe.  I was really in the mood for some delicious every day little sponge cakes, so here is the recipe I used:

Gluten Free Coconut & Lime Sponges

Makes 18 sponges in muffin-sized cases


  • 8oz butter or margarine
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 medium free range eggs
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 4 tbsp. coconut milk
  • 8oz gluten free self raising flour
  • 4 oz desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp. gluten free baking powder


1)   Preheat the oven to 150C

2)   Place the butter and sugar into the stand mixer and whisk until the two are creamed together

3)   Add the lime zest, juice, coconut milk and eggs and mix until combined

4)   Add the flour, coconut and baking powder and mix until evenly combined

5)   Spoon into muffin cases and bake for around 30 minutes until golden

The Kenwood in action

The Kitchen Aid in action

Here are my observations:

  • I used the flexible beater attachment on the Kenwood, which is similar to the paddle attachment on the Kitchen Aid.
  • The Kenwood’s motor does seem more robust. My Kitchen Aid does sound and feel a bit clunky. Although it is a very heavy machine, it does feel as though the motor is not as robust as you may imagine for such a solid machine. I felt as though I could turn the Kenwood up higher without worrying it might break, which I do with the Kitchen Aid
  • The splash guard for the Kenwood does come with a flap, which you are able to open and close whilst adding additional ingredients to the mixer whilst the motor is running. The splash guard is an invaluable feature of the Kitchen Aid, particularly when working with lots of flour or icing sugar as it does tend to coat everything else in the kitchen even with the splash guard on, so I like this idea.
  • The attachments for the Kenwood feel really robust and are slightly easier to attach to the machine than with the Kitchen Aid
  • I found the Kitchen Aid slightly easier to clean, as there are fewer nooks and crannies to get muck into when baking
  •  The Kenwood did appear to work slightly harder than the kitchen aid, and worked the dough more quickly, even though visually both mixers appeared to be working at the same speed
  • I remain convinced that the Kitchen Aid is the most visually attractive mixer. Given the frequency of use in my home and the weight of the machine, I always keep it out on the work surface, and I have to say, the Kitchen Aid looks more attractive to me.

For me, there really was very little difference in how the machines performed. I used exactly the same recipe with each machine. I do not feel as though the flexible beater worked as well on the Kenwood as the metal beater does on the Kitchen Aid, as the mixture was not evenly incorporated. I had to go round the edges and bottom with a spatula and scrape it down and mix again before filling the cake cases. I did not have to do this with the Kitchen Aid. However, that would be my only criticism.

The cakes ready to go in the oven - Kitchen Aid on the left, Kenwood on the right

In terms of taste and texture, I think the Kitchen Aid cakes are slightly lighter – you may be able to see this in the photo of the cut cakes.

The cakes out of the oven - Kenwood on the left, Kitchen Aid on the right

Kitchen Aid on the left, Kenwood on the right

I hate to sit on the fence so to speak, but the differences were so minor, it really comes down to which machine you think would work better for you.

The one big difference though, is cost.  The difference in price is very significant, with the Kitchen Aid being the best part of £100 more than the Kenwood and having fewer functions. I tried to compare the price of both machines on the John Lewis website, which I thought would be a fair benchmark as they have a price guarantee, and although they sell many Kenwood mixers, they do not stock the exact model, so I link to Comet instead. I should add that the Kenwood Chef does come with other attachments too, it is not just a stand mixer, so it does all sorts of jobs you could not do with the Kitchen Aid.  Where I have two or three machines, you only need one with the Kenwood.

So, what do you think? Which machine do you use, if any, and which one do you prefer?

Thank you to Kenwood for the loan of the mixer to review. I purchased my own Kitchen Aid from John Lewis a couple of years ago.

http://www.johnlewis.com/230855933/Product.aspx £419.95

http://www.comet.co.uk/p/385131?cm_mmc=Google-_-PPCPM%7c%7cProducts%7c%7cKitchen%20%26%20home-_-Food%20preparation%20%26%20food%20processors%7c%7cKenwood%7c%7cKenwood%20km010%7c%7c385131-_-km010&_$ja=kw:km010|cgn:Food+preparation+%26+food+processors%7c%7cKenwood%7c%7cKenwood+km010%7c%7c385131|cgid:1373628666|tsid:12089|cn:PPCPM%7c%7cProducts%7c%7cKitchen+%26+home|cid:41031336|lid:5296567821|mt:Broad|nw:search|crid:13118245986&gclid=COCY1qb7sa8CFYEKfAodl2vDHg £330

I also tested the mixers to make granary bread. Check it out here.



Apr 12

An interview with Antonio Carluccio

It’s been a busy week for Antonio Carluccio. Last week saw the release of Two Greedy Italians on DVD, a recording of a television series documenting the Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo’s adventures in food together.

Antonio and Gennaro are two very prominent figures in Italian cookery in the UK, having both lived here for years. Antonio has been a chef and cookery writer for a very long time, working in London for over 35 years. He took over his aponymous Italian restaurant on Neal Street in London in the late 80’s, which sadly closed in 2006 apparently due to being unable to extend the lease on the property. Meanwhile, the Carluccio’s restaurant chain, which he had established with his wife grew and grew and the couple sold out in the 1990s. Carluccio has written 18 cookery books in his own name and this series is accompanied by, now, two cookery books. Gennaro Contaldo is an Italian chef based in London, who is widely credited as being a mentor to Jamie Oliver. He has worked in a number of well-known restaurants in London and has written four cookery books under his own name.

This television series sees the two chefs travel to Italy together to remember the Italy they knew when living there, the food they ate and to look at how food is changing in Italy. Talking about the experience, Carluccio told me that he particularly enjoyed meeting people: “I like people, they give you ideas.  There are still corners (of Italy) you don’t know, especially in the mountains, in Calabria, in Rome”. Watching the DVD, you do get a sense of fun between Carluccio and Contaldo although you do get the impression that two larger than life characters being brought together may be slightly fractious at times. I asked Carluccio if Contaldo was a handful, who replied simply with “Oh more than that! Everyone says its like a marriage, thank god it isn’t.”

The book to accompany the series, Two Greedy Italians has been out for some time, although the DVD comes with some handy recipe cards so you can start to cook their recipes for yourself if you don’t have the book. Recipes which caught our eye are Patate Arraganate which is a simple dish of roasted potatoes, tomato, oregano and basil which I made and was just delicious, and the Zucchini Alla Parmigiana which is cheese and courgette bake which also sounds particularly enticing.

Yesterday saw the publication of the follow-up book, Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy, a beautiful book, with its gorgeous photography it is as much a holiday guide as a cookery book. There are charming little stories from both of the authors throughout the book where they talk of family and growing up in Italy. The book is split into three sections, Comfort Food from the Mountains, Fresh flavours from the Coast and the Larder of the River and Plains. Each section talks of the food prevalent in these areas along with corresponding recipes. There are also pages with interesting information on the different aspects of Italy and the Italians. These are two proud Italian men writing of the country they love. As in the first book most of the recipes have very few ingredients and method instructions keeping it easy to follow. There are some interesting ingredients that may be hard to source such as chestnut flour, fresh baby octopus, puntrelle shoots. Some recipes do suggest alternative ingredients. Eye catching recipes are the Marmellata di Castagne which is chestnut jam, Torta di Risoal Profumo d’Arancio which is orange rice cake, Linguine con Trota Affumicata which is linguine with smoked trout and dill.

I asked Carluccio about the new book, and he told me : “the beauty of it is the cuisine going on. Italian food remains the same in quality. We don’t need to put a lot of work into presentation, the food speaks for itself.”

Carluccio is an advocate of simple cooking using just three or four excellent quality ingredients. Asking him about what he cooks at home, he said: “all that I see in the fridge, leftovers are particularly interesting as out of that is another recipe.

The other day I made a new recipe using fennel, let it soften in the pan with water until it almost becomes a sauce, combine with prawns  it is delicious as a sauce for pasta.”

Talking to Carluccio about writing the second book, he said it was particularly interesting “because it looks at different parts of Italian life  L’arte di Arrangiarsi on which there is a page in the book it meaning “literally to arrange oneself” and La Bella Figura ,the art of making a good impression, again there is a section written on this in the book. It was surprising to see that particularly in Calabria children in Italy are becoming obese, as they sit in front of the TV too much. It is a shame to see such chubby children.”

The DVD and accompanying books provide a fascinating insight into the food in Italy today. And there appears to be no let up in Carluccio’s hectic schedule, with his autobiography coming out later this year and more books in the pipeline.



Thanks to Pete Flatt at PPR and Quadrille for the review copies

Thank you to my colleague Jayne for helping me with this interview @jaynerly & http://madebyjayne.com/

You can find me here @gofreecakes http://charlotteskitchendiary.wordpress.com/


Apr 12

Happy Easter from ‘Free From’ Kitchen

This is my take on an Easter simnel cake – what is certain is that it is far from authentic but a really delicious fruity, marzipan rich cake.

This recipe is gluten free but very easily adapted to be dairy free.  It’s also quick to make – no overnight soaking of the fruit or leaving it to mature for a week once cooked. What’s for sure is that everyone will enjoy this cake.


100g sultanas

80g sour cherries

70g stoneless prunes

100ml marsala

100g butter or margarine

100g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp orange flower water

155g Doves Farm Gluten free plain flour

2 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into 0.5cm cubes

500g marzipan, of which 250g cubed and 250g to roll out/make the balls


1)   Preheat the oven to 140C/Gas Mark 1

2)   Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin

3)   Place all the dried fruit into a small saucepan with the marsala. Bring to the boil, turn off the heat and let the fruit steep for a further 10 minutes

4)   Cream the butter and sugar together (I do this in my Kitchen Aid) then add the eggs and orange flower water and beat until smooth and well combined. Add the flour and mix well

5)   Pour in the fruit and liquid from the saucepan and add the apples and cubes of marzipan and stir in gently

6)   Pour the bake mixture into the tin and bake for around 90 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean

7)   Whilst the cake is baking, roll 11 balls of marzipan to decorate the top. I always chuckle to myself about omitting Judas, as my boyfriend’s car is named Judas, for obvious reasons….

8)   With the remaining marzipan, knead it well until it is nice and smooth (otherwise will crack) and roll out between two sheets of cling film. When the disc of marzipan looked  big enough to cover the cake, it took off the top later of clingfilm and put the base of the springform tin onto the marzipan and cut around the edges neatly to make a nice neat circle. I then flipped it onto the top of the cooled cake whilst stuck to the botton layer of clingfilm and peeled it off. I didn’t bother with sticking the marzipan down with apricot jam (as I didn’t have any) and it worked just fine. I decorated the cake with the marzipan balls before very swiftly cutting a large slice and enjoying it whilst still warm!



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