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River Cottage Blog Camp with Foodies100



I was lucky enough to attend the Foodies100 Blog Camp at River Cottage HQ last Wednesday with lots of fellow food bloggers from all over the UK. It was lovely to have a blogging event near to me, a mere hour and a half in the car as opposed to the usual mammoth trek up to London.

We started the day with a rather bumpy tractor ride down to the farm where we were greeted with tea and pastries. It was great to finally meet and chat to bloggers who I have 'known' for years, as well meeting many new bloggers for the first time. Julie and I had a little wonder (nosey) around before the activities began and stumbled upon the room where Hugh does a lot of his filming for the River Cottage programmes.

Recognise this?
The rest of the day went something like this........

There was a fantastic food photography workshop from Lucy  - with lots of great tips and ideas for photographing and styling food. I shall never look at a tampon in the same way again!

Lucy arranging a Red Cabbage for photographing
There was an informative tour of the farm and vegetable gardens from head gardener Will. He was keen to stress the sustainability of both the farm and other River Cottage enterprises such as the Canteens, who have a 30 mile ingredient sourcing policy.

Head Gardener Will
One of my favourite parts of the day was the Bread and Butter making class with Gill. He illustrated just how easy bread making can be (even easier when you have an assistant weighing out all the ingredients and tidying away your mess afterwards!). I chucked some blackberries, apple, goats cheese and fennel into my spelt soda bread - 25 minutes in the oven and voila...a great snack for my drive home.

My soda bread cooling
We were also treated to an outstanding lunch cooked by the resident River Cottage chefs. For main course we enjoyed a wholemeal ravioli stuffed with slow cooked shin of beef, served on a vegetable ragout with fresh pesto - it was divine. All ingredients were sourced from the farm itself.

Main Course
...and the dessert was just heaven on a plate.

Coffee Bean Ice Cream with Salted Caramel, Damsons, Meringue and Crumble
Thank-you to Sally and Foodies100 for organising a truly memorable day and a huge thank-you to River Cottage for being such good hosts.
Beth Sachs
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Giveaway: Win a Years Supply of Bacofoil Easy Bake


Bacofoil

Without a doubt Bacofoil Easy Bake Non-Stick Paper is the best baking paper I've ever used. Cookies lifted off the baking tray with ease and cakes slid out of their tin in tact - this really is a must have product for any keen baker.

Bacofoil have kindly offered a years supply of Easy Bake Non-Stick Paper to one lucky Jam and Clotted Cream reader. To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below! UK entrants only please.

Good Luck x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Beth Sachs
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Top 5 Tips For Using Modelling Paste


Modelling Paste is ideal for sculpting intricate decorations in icing - particularly things like flowers, animals and people. You can get away with making simpler models from ready to roll icing, but your results wont be as good if you try to use it for anything more detailed.

If you’ve never used modelling paste before, rest assured that it’s not difficult to work with and the results can be spectacular, especially if you follow these top 5 tips.


1. You Need to Knead

The modelling paste you’re using might be straight out of a packet, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be ready to work with immediately. You have to knead the slab until it’s warm and pliable enough to work with. If you skip this part the problem isn’t just that the paste won’t do what you want, it will also result in unsightly cracks on the surface of your model. You’ll see those surface cracks as soon you open the packet, and they’ll still be there on your finished product - unless you give the modelling paste the kneading it needs.


2. Consistency is Crucial

This might take some trial and error to get right, and inexperienced bakers might be a bit nervous about it, but combining modelling paste with ready-to-roll icing (50:50) can give a superior set. Doing this also gives you easy access to lots of other colour combinations - and is still less risky than doing your own colouring (more on that next). With a little experimentation - which is all part of the fun - you’ll arrive at the perfect consistency you need for your particular model, whether that’s a chunky animal or a delicately shaped flower like this.


3. Consider Colour Carefully

First of all, put all those jars of generic food colouring back in the cupboard. They add a lot of moisture, which will undermine the firmness of the paste, and could even make it impossible to work with. Dust colours have the opposite problem by drying the paste out. That leaves you with two options. The first is to use paste colours, either by kneading them into the paste or by adding a little water and then painting the surface of your finished model. The second, zero-stress, option is to buy ready-coloured modelling paste. You can buy it in a range of colours and, as mentioned above, you can knead different shades together for even more colour combinations.

Another key point is that the colours need to be considered carefully at the outset. It sounds obvious, but with your mind focused on the tricky sculpture you’re about to take on, colouring is easily overlooked. That’s until you cast your eyes on the finished project, at which point an oddly coloured model is impossible to miss. When it comes to modelling people in particular, experiment with a little modelling paste in order to get the skin tones right. Basically, you need to be careful not to make all your characters look like they’ve just been Tango’d.


4. Have a Ball

Most complex figurines and other intricate shapes start their lives as simple balls of modelling paste. As you gain more experience, you’ll find yourself making balls before you get started - almost automatically. As well as giving you the best shape to begin working on, you’ll also be making sure the consistency is right and that there are no cracks on the surface.


5. Patience Pays Off

If you’re on a deadline, factor in the 24 hours your model needs to dry and set firmly. It’ll be tempting to keep fiddling with your masterpiece during that time, so keeping your hands off might require some willpower. To help with that, imagine how you’d feel after accidentally snapping off a petal, especially if you’d come close to producing a cake as striking as the one at the top of the page.

When working with modelling paste for the first time, you’ll be impatient to let your creativity loose. Following these top 5 tips will help you avoid rookie errors and let you do just that.

I am a brand ambassador for Renshaw Baking and have been compensated for this post.

If you’d like to try out one of these cakes then why not try Renshaw Flower and Modelling Paste


Beth Sachs
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Chocolate Avocado Cookies


Chocolate Avocado Cookies

Inspired by Jenny's Chocolate, Coconut and Sweetcorn Cookies,  I set about making my own chocolate cookies with an unusual ingredient today- avocado!

I wont lie, when I tasted the uncooked dough I thought I was on to a loser - it was horrible! However, the cooking process worked its magic and out of the oven came wonderfully textured, brownie-like cookies that tasted of chocolate - NOT avocado!

The kids came home from school this afternoon and their cute little eyes lit up and they proceeded to eat the lot. A little while later I told them the cookies had a secret ingredient and they had to guess what it was. Rory thought it was vanilla, Lowen thought it was syrup.....so you can only imagine the screams when I told them it was in fact avocado! Cue fake retching.

If you would like to deceive your own children like I did then scroll down for the recipe! Have a good evening - I'm off to prepare for #BlogCampRiverCottage tomorrow - can't wait!

Chocolate Avocado Cookies


CHOCOLATE AVOCADO COOKIES


Chocolate Avocado Cookies
Cookies
Yield: makes 6 large cookiesPin it

Chocolate Avocado Cookies

Chocolate cookies made with avocado.
prep time: 10 minscook time: 15 minstotal time: 25 mins

ingredients:

  • 1 ripe Avocado, mashed
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Extract 
  • 1 TSP Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 150g Soft Light Brown Sugar
  • 50g Cocoa Powder
  • 50g Plain Flour
  • 100g Milk Chocolate chunks

instructions

  • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180°c (160° fan) and line a large baking tray with baking paper (I used Bacofoil Easy Bake Non Stick Paper).
  • Step 2: In a bowl combine all of the ingredients, reserving a small amount of the chocolate chunks, mix thoroughly.
  • Step 3: Spoon 6 large spoons of the mixture (it's quite sticky) onto the baking tray - spaced well apart. Press in the reserved chocolate chunks.
  • Step 4: Bake for 15 minutes (if you want to make 10 smaller cookies reduce the cooking time by 2-3 minutes).
  • Step 5: Cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight container in a cool place (or fridge)


*RELATED RECIPE - DOUBLE GINGER OAT COOKIES*

Beth Sachs
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How To Make A Peppa Pig Cake Topper With Pink Marzipan


Need a quick and easy cake topper for a child's birthday? Use some pink marzipan to make a Peppa Pig topper that will delight fans of the show. You don’t need to be an expert decorator, just follow these simple steps.

This marzipan topper is very simple to make, you don’t need much in the way of fancy tools or products. Because Peppa Pig is made up of a few basic shapes there’s no advanced sugar crafting involved here. Before you begin, coat the work surface with a little icing sugar.

1. Knead your red marzipan on the work surface until it is smooth and pliable. Don’t overdo this as marzipan can become sticky quite quickly.

2. Take a lump of marzipan and roll it into a ball. Flatten the base and top slightly. Believe it or not that’s the body finished. All you need to do now is insert your toothpick into the top of the body, leaving an inch or so sticking out. This will help stabilise the head.

3. To make the head take a lump of pink marzipan and knead it until it’s soft and smooth. Roll it into a ball and then shape one end into a broad cone. Flatten the end of the cone to create the snout. Use the ball end tool to press two nostrils into the pink marzipan.

4. The next stage is to add the ears. For these take a couple of small bits of pink marzipan, roll them into balls and then flatten them. You can then fix them in place on the head using some edible food glue or a little cooled, boiled water.

5. The eyes are simply two small discs of white marzipan with two dots of black marzipan fixed to them using cooled, boiled water or edible glue. These are then glued into place on the head.

6. Now the head is fully assembled just put in place on the toothpick to fix to the body.

7. To make the legs and arms roll out a length of pink marzipan, about 3 inches long. Divide into four even pieces. Set two aside for the legs, and we’ll tackle the arms first.

8. Use a sharp knife to make two small slits in one end of the arms to create the hand. Press two holes into the body using a toothpick or similar instrument and insert the arms into the holes. You can use a little water to stick them in place more firmly.

9. To make the legs all you need to do is stick on two small balls of black marzipan to the legs and then press the legs onto the base of the body. Again you can use some water to fix them in place, or simply use the weight of the topper to hold the legs in place on top of the cake.

A Peppa Pig cake topper made with pink marzipan is a quick and simple way to liven up a child’s birthday cake, and is bound to delight tiny fans of the show.

If you’d like to try to make this or a similar topper for your next cake then why not try Renshaw’s marzipan 

I am a brand ambassador for Renshaw Baking and was compensated for this post.
Beth Sachs
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Giveaway: Precision Knife Set and Black Diamond Block worth £159.80



Edge of Belgravia is one of the worlds most innovative chef knife brands. Established in Belgravia, London in 2010 and officially launched onto the UK market in 2012, Edge of Belgravia has quickly won acclaim. The firm has combined daring avant-gard design with clever marketing to gain global recognition.

Futuristic in concept, their Black Diamond Knife Block (RRP £89.90) designed by Christian Bird uses clever weighting to secure the knives in the block and fits up to 11 knives. The Precision Knife set (RRP £69.90) includes a bread, chef's, deba and paring knife. All are coated in stainless steel with a non stick blade coating which cuts with ease.

Edge of Belgravia have kindly given one Black Diamond Knife Block and one Precision Knife set to giveaway in a competition to one Jam and Clotted Cream reader. To enter all you need to do is fill in the Rafflecopter widget below. UK entrants only please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Beth Sachs
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Home Nations Gourmet Meat Box from Meat Porter


Lamb Chops

MEAT PORTER NO LONGER OPERATE IN THE UK

I'm a massive Rugby fan, so was delighted to hear that in celebration of the start of the Rugby World Cup today, online artisan butcher Meat Porter has put together a selection of gourmet meats showcasing the best of our fabulous home nations teams. The Home Nations box retails at £58 and includes the following:
    4 Welsh Lamb Loin Chops
    2 x 8oz Irish Ribeye Steaks from the heritage dexter breed
    2 x 8oz English Pork Cutlets
    6 Scottish Venison and Red Wine Sausages
    2 x 8oz Gammon Steaks
    1/2 lb Back Bacon

    The box is available for the duration of the Rugby World Cup (with super speedy next day delivery) and I'll be incorporating some recipes using the products in next weeks meal plan.

    Come on England! ...and here is a lovely reminder of 2003

    Disclosure: I was sent a gourmet meat box to review. All opinions are my own.
    Beth Sachs
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    Gooey Macaroni Cheese with Gammon


    Macaroni Cheese

    This is a great Autumnal family meal - perfect for chilly weekend evenings when you just want to warm up inside.

    I bought a small piece of gammon from Waitrose last week that was reduced to 90p (it had been £5!) - not enough for a meal by itself, so I cooked it, chopped it up and threw it into the cheese sauce. If you don't have any gammon then bacon would be fine. Or just leave it out altogether.

    If you wanted to stretch it, then cook some garlic bread alongside. I sometimes serve it with broccoli and peas too. Whatever you fancy really.

    Gooey Macaroni Cheese with Gammon


    MACARONI CHEESE AND GAMMON


    Macaroni Cheese with Gammon
    Pasta
    Yield: 4Pin it

    Macaroni Cheese with Gammon

    A gorgeously gooey Macaroni Cheese with Gammon recipe.
    prep time: 10 minscook time: 25 minstotal time: 35 mins

    ingredients:

    • 50g Butter
    • 50g Plain Flour
    • 600ml Milk
    • 1 TSP Dijon Mustard
    • 250g Extra Mature Cheddar, grated
    • 250g Macaroni
    • Leftover cooked gammon or fry off 6 chopped bacon rashers

    instructions

    • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180°c  (fan 160°). Put a large pan of  water on the hob and bring to the boil. Cook the macaroni according to instructions, drain and set aside.
    • Step 2: In a large non stick pan melt the butter over a medium heat then stir in the flour. After about 2 minutes gradually add the milk then keep whisking until it bubbles and thickens. This usually takes about 3 minutes.
    • Step 3: Take the pan off the heat, add the mustard and cheese and stir to combine. Add in the cooked gammon or bacon and finally the cooked pasta. Pop into an oven proof dish and bake for 10-15 minutes to brown on top.


    *RELATED RECIPE - CHEESY TUNA PASTA BAKE*

    Beth Sachs
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    Double Chocolate Rocky Road Crunch Bars


    Rocky Road Crunch Bars

    These aren't for the faint hearted but they are so very good. Unfortunately not so good for the waistline.  It's a good job the kids and hubby scoff them before I get a chance to eat any - I'm not very good with moderation. You really can't go wrong with these. Enjoy!

    DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ROCKY ROAD CRUNCH BARS


    Double Chocolate Rocky Road Crunch Bars
    Yield: 16 BarsPin it

    Double Chocolate Rocky Road Crunch Bars

    Double Chocolate Rocky Road Crunch bars made with digestives, marshmallows, dark and milk chocolate.
    prep time: 10 minscook time: total time: 10 mins

    ingredients:

    • 125g Butter
    • 150g Dark Chocolate
    • 150g Milk Chocolate
    • 3 TBSP Golden Syrup
    • 150g Digestives, crushed
    • 50g Maltesers, crushed
    • 75g Marshmallows, chopped into smaller pieces
    • 50g Raisins

    instructions

    • Step 1: In a large pan melt together the butter, chocolate and syrup over a low heat. Once melted reserve 125ml for the topping.
    • Step 2: Stir the digestives, malteser, raisins and marshmallows into the chocolate mixture then press into a 20cm square tin.
    • Step 3: Flatten down the top then pour on the reserved topping mixture, smooth with a palette knife and pop into the fridge to set (I usually leave mine overnight). Cut into 16 squares.


    *RELATED RECIPE - DARK CHOCOLATE ORANGE BROWNIES*

    Beth Sachs
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    Giveaway: Renshaw Baking Hamper




    I've recently become a brand ambassador for Renshaw the leading British manufacturer of ready roll icings, marzipan and frostings.Watch out for some product reviews very soon!

    Renshaw have kindly given one Jam and Clotted Cream reader the chance to win a hamper full of Renshaw goodies including ready roll icing, marzipan, flower and modelling paste and frostings - must haves for any keen baker.

    For your chance to win all you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. UK entrants only. Contents of the hamper may be subject to change. The winner will be announced on 1st October 2015.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Beth Sachs
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    Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese


    Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese /></a></div><br />
<div style=

    Every time we have a roast, this Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese gets made. We all love it here including the newest member of the family Baby H, who had her first taste at the weekend! I usually make it ahead of time, pop it into the fridge then just bung it in the oven with the roasties for 20 minutes to brown on top.

    I vary the cheeses I use but the kids definitely prefer it with Extra Mature Cheddar and a sprinkling of Parmesan on top - blue cheese is good for a more adult version. Although I usually serve it as a side dish to a roast I can quite happily gobble up a bowl of it on its own - garlic bread is a good accompaniment if you want to eat it this way and maybe some crispy bacon on top.

    CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI CHEESE

    Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese
    Vegetarian
    Yield: 6 as part of a roastPin it

    Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese

    A creamy cauliflower and broccoli cheese recipe
    prep time: 15 minscook time: 20 minstotal time: 35 mins

    ingredients:

    • 1 medium head of broccoli broken into florets
    • 1 small cauliflower broken into florets
    • 50g Butter
    • 50g Plain Flour
    • 600ml Milk
    • 1 TSP Dijon Mustard
    • 250g Extra Mature Cheddar
    • 25g Parmesan, grated

    instructions

    • Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180°c/160°fan if cooking straight away. Put a pan of water on to the hob and bring to the boil.
    • Step 2: While you are waiting for the water to boil, melt the butter in a heavy bottom pan, add the flour and stir for 2 minutes.
    • Step 3: Add the milk and continue to stir (I use a whisk to remove the lumps) until it starts to bubble and thicken. Take off the heat and stir in the cheddar and mustard. Set aside.
    • Step 4: Cook the cauliflower and broccoli in the boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and tip into an oven proof dish. Pour over cheese sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan.
    • Step 5: Either cool and put into the fridge until you want it or if eating straight away put it in the oven for 20 minutes to brown.


    *RELATED RECIPE - SWEET POTATO MASH*

    Beth Sachs
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