The Slow Cooking Revolution

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Having never owned a slow cooker, I was very pleased when Appliances Direct recently sent me a Crockpot slow cooker to try. I've slow roasted joints in the oven but have never used a slow cooker before and wasn't sure what to expect. Slow cookers seem to be big business in American kitchens but not so many of us seem to use them over here. I'd like to rectify that with my one woman slow cooking revolution!

Appliances Direct is a web store selling everything from kettles to fridge freezers. As well as all their kitchen supplies, they also sell TVs and other electrical items. This lovely red original Crockpot is just over £59 but they have other brands and smaller and cheaper options to suit all budgets so take a look!


I was surprised to see that you can even make puddings (cakes... yes really) so its really not just about meat. However, everyone has to start somewhere so I've started with meat, maybe the cakes will come later! Here's the best of my experiments to date:

Slow roast lamb with red wine gravy

Ingredients, serves 4
  • 1/2 courgette cut into chunks 
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and halved
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed but still whole 
  • half leg of lamb
  • 300ml  vegetable stock
  • 200ml good red wine
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary and a small pinch of thyme 
  • S & P to taste
Method: 
  • Put the vegetables and garlic in the slow cooker
  • Add the lamb, stock and wine and season with salt, pepper and the herbs.
  • Turn your slow cooker onto low. Add the lid and cook for 6 - 6 1/2 hours until the meat falls easily off the bone. 
  • Remove the meat and transfer to plate. 
  • Strain the liquid through a sieve into a small pan and bring to the boil, adding a small amount of cornflour to thicken to a gravy. 
  • Serve the lamb with the gravy, (a few of the vegetables if you wish) mash and some steamed broccoli.



Vegetables in the slow cooker
Red crockpot
Half Lamb Leg ready to slow cook
Half way through cooking lamb in slow cooker
Strain the juices for a gravy

The finished thing - served with some of the slow cooked vegetables, mash and broccoli.

Slow cooked lamb with red wine gravy and veg
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Celebrating Prince George with Royal Afternoon Tea

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I may be a little late to the table but how exciting that we welcomed the new Prince George into the world on 22nd July. I saw this week that the first official pictures are out and William and Kate look happy and content and as for their adorable dog - well he looked more than happy to be protector to the third in line to the throne. What better way to celebrate the new Prince than with an indulgent royal afternoon tea? Bond and Brook, the minimalist and classy restaurant in Fenwick's (just off Oxford Street and Bond Street in London's Mayfair), have designed an afternoon tea to celebrate the new royal arrival, the annual opening of Buckingham Palace and the Queen’s 60th coronation.




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Summer Coleslaw with British Provenance Mayonnaise

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Last week my mum and brother joined me for dinner. The hubby was out so it was just the three of us and seeing as it was a weeknight, and an opportunity to catch up on the gossip, I decided to do something which didn't require a huge amount of effort after a long day at work. So, went for pulled pork (which I did in the slow cooker the night before and then just finished by reheating and adding some BBQ spices), potato wedges, refried beans and coleslaw.

I don't know about you but I love coleslaw but can't abide that over creamy, wet and sloppy stuff you get in plastic packets from the supermarket. If you have a food processor, it takes minutes to make and home made coleslaw just tastes so much better (and costs next to nothing). You can make it the day before and just chill in the fridge.

Home made coleslaw

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Review: Fiesta del Asado, Birmingham

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Fiesta del Asado, part of the Lasan group, is a hot new Argentine restaurant in Birmingham which opened around 6 months ago. I've been desperate to go for ages and was delighted when they recently invited me to eat there. So, last Saturday, the hubby and I headed over to see what it was all about.

A few years ago I visited Argentina with one of my best friends and as any meat eater who's been there will know - the steak is out of this world. We spent time in Buenos Aires before catching an overnight coach to the beautiful wine region of Mendoza, then finally ended our trip at the glaciers in the very bottom tip of the country. It was a holiday of a lifetime for me and I have nothing but fond memories of the places, the people and most importantly, the food. Once you've eaten steak in Argentina, nothing will ever compare. Fiesta had a high bar to jump over!


A flash back to the steaks of my Argentinian travels!
The hubby and I arrived at 7:20pm to find a smart yet casual restaurant which was bigger than I expected and well over half full. Quirky details gave it a real Spanish/ Argentinian feel such as the meats hanging on the wall, the dressers and crockery on display and the bare brick walls. We sat at the bar, which is made up of old draw fronts (v cool) and ordered some wine. I was pleased to see a great selection of Argentinian wines (which is as it should be!) and a range of Malbec reds to choose from. I absolutely love Malbec and the one we opted for was smoky and rich. Perfect for steak.

Our table was in the left hand side of the restaurant and opposite the open kitchen. The smells and sounds of the grill filled the air and really helped create a casual atmosphere.


To start we went for Salchichas al Parrilla (grilled spicy sausage with tomato and red onion salad and chimichurri) and from the choice of flavours we went for the Chistorra Artysan which was a traditional paprika & garlic combo. We also had the Gambas al ajillo - yup, you guessed it - that's king prawns tossed in chilli and garlic. The sausage was absolutely delicious, full of flavour and totally moreish. The prawns were delicious too although not quite as exciting.


For mains, we chose to eat from the Parilla menu. Parilla basically means grill or BBQ and this style of cooking is something I saw all the time when I was in Argentina. Being greedy as we are, we went for the Bife de Ancho - a 38oz prime rib eye steak. We ordered veg and roast potatoes with paprika and oregano on the side.




Apologies for the poor photography but behold the mighty Bife! This wasn't for the faint hearted and there are plenty of other options on the menu including fish and poultry but for me, if you're dining in an Argentine Asado, its got to be about the steak.The chimmichurri was divine, not too spicy and full of flavour and there was also a rich Malbec sauce and smooth and creamy Bearnaise.

Although I was fairly stuffed, the hubby convinced me to go for a pud and we opted for the two recommended by the waiter. Churros and chocolate sauce and a Chocolate fondant with Dulce de Leche ice cream. Dulce De Leche is a kind of toffee sauce and the ice cream was heavenly. By far the best ice cream I've eaten in a very long time! The fondant was perfect, like something from a MasterChef final - and the churros were gone before I'd finished my Frangelico aperitif.



The bill would have been around £100 which was for 3 courses, wine and an aperitif. After we'd finished eating, I had a great conversation with the waiter about the steak they serve. The steak we had was messy, it was on the bone and had some gnarly bits - and that's just how it should be. Its authentic. They've spent time researching how steak is cooked - and what steak is cooked - in Argentina and the result is a very authentic experience. You might not find a neatly shaped sirloin on your plate with perfect crisscross char grilled lines on it but I can guarantee that you will eat fantastic food akin to the best restaurants in Buenos Aires. And so what if you get a bit round your mouth? Its all part of the fun!



*Our meal at Fiesta del Asado was complimentary but my opinions are my own.
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The Last Push! Cosmo Blog Awards 2013

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Cosmo Blog Awards Gingey Bites

Unless you've been living in a cave or are new to Gingey Bites, you probably already know that this blog has been shortlisted for 'Best Food Blog' in the Cosmo Blog Awards 2013.

Voting closes on 30 August so this is my last push to get as many votes in as I can! Gingey Bites is just 14 months old and I'm thrilled to have made it this far.. I can't even imagine what it would be like to win! So, if you have 5 minutes spare, and like reading Gingey Bites, please go to the Cosmo website here and vote! 

Vote for Gingey Bites!

I promise to shower you all with lots of chocolate recipes in gratitude! :-)

Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate cheesecake in return for votes!
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Sausages with fried potatoes and onions

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Any one who reads this blog frequently will know that I love sausages.. in fact, I'm thinking of adding a 'Sausages' page there are that many recipes on here! So, without further a do, here's yet another for you! This is a Brian Turner recipe from his book A Taste of Summer which I'm lucky enough to have a signed copy of! Its a big colourful book with lots of great photography and recipes with easy to follow instructions.

For this I used the last of our Occombe Farm pork sausages from the freezer. Occombe Farm is a great place in Devon just outside of Torquay. We visited there during our holiday in June and picked up lots of local ingredients including pork belly and sausages from Gribbles butchers onsite. Read more about it in my post 'Eating and Drinking the English Riviera'.

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Chorizo, Pepper & Olive Empanadas

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Last week Fragata sent me a box of goodies which included piri piri chillies and some beautiful juicy olives with sun dried tomatoes and peppers. Being a Spanish company I wanted to use the products for something Spanish and ended up thinking back to a holiday I took in 2009 with one of my best friends. We went to Argentina and during our time there, we ate our way through at least 10 cows, drank our own body weight in wine and discovered Empanadas (cornish pasty-esque snacks filled with meat and vegetables). In Spain they call these Empanadillas and serve them as tapas but in my heart they will always be Argentinian Empanadas!


Empanada filling

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Herby Slow Roast Chicken for a Sunday afternoon

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This is probably a bit of a strange one to post on a Thursday night but I've been going through my millions of food photos and came across this stash. It instantly took me back to earlier in the year when I tried this James Martin recipe for my mum and step dad one Sunday afternoon. I'd never heard of slow cooking a chicken before - you assume that slow cooking is reserved for beef, pork or stews. But, if you have the time and the patience, this is worth the effort.

Herby slow roast chicken with roasted veg and asparagus
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