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There is always something happening in supermarkets - new products, product demonstrations, shelves reorganised so you can't find anything. Not always interesting, quite often boring and sometimes a chore but just occasionally something catches your eye, something is interesting . . .

HP Guinness Sauce

New on the supermarket shelves this year I think this is a real find. Works great as a sauce with sausages, etc and works well in cooking. I used it in my Oriental stir fry instead of something like soy sauce. Have also used it to cook fish baked in foil . . . flavours not bad but not sure if you want all your fish looking the colour of smoked mackerel.

Someone said they wouldn't buy it because they hate Guinness! You don't get the taste of Guinness but the combination of all the ingredients combine to make a unique and enjoyable taste. Like anything you cook with alcohol, the alcohol doesn't stand out for its own flavour but becomes part of the overall taste.

Haven't tried HP Guinness Sauce butties yet but I am sure they would be equally as good as tomato sauce butties!

And what did the launch publicity have to say about this new product?

A smooth little number with a tangy flavour – Heinz is proud to present a truly unique addition to the HP family.

Two iconic brands have collaborated to create HP Sauce with Guinness - a distinctive, quality sauce that combines the best of both brands to bring your food to life. This exciting new sauce blends the unique taste of the black stuff with the spicy, familiar taste of HP resulting in a tantalising blend of familiar flavours that fans of both will love.

Made with quality ingredients, HP Sauce with Guinness is a perfect complement to sausages, adding a delicious, rich and tangy taste to your everyday banger butties. But banger butties are just the beginning, as this tasty new sauce also lends itself to a whole range of delicious mid week meals . . .

And one of my favourite parts of the promotion is the video featuring Phil Vickery (not the Chef):

Editorial note: This site is not paid to promote HP products.


Insalata di Agrumi or Citrus SaladTuscany saw some lovely weather at the end of March even though there was still some snow lingering on the tops of the mountains. Lamb is starting to be on offer at the butchers without having to order it and the neighbours are suffering the start of the spring glut of fresh eggs, so lots arriving on the windowsill to make “Fritatas”, the Italian omelet made with blanched veg.

The big news at this time of year is the arrival of lovely ripe oranges and lemons from the south, we can get them all winter long but right now they are at their most succulent with soft edible peel. Time to make “Insalata di Agrumi” or Citrus Salad, thinly sliced oranges, (and lemons if you want) fresh red onion, with olives that will have been harvested in late autumn then stored under brine.

It works fine as a side dish to roast chicken and makes a nice contrast with baked fish. In some parts of the Mediterranean including Sardinia it is used to flavour pasta.

Insalata di Agrumi or Citrus Salad


4 - 6 oranges, depending on size
1 lemon (optional)
Black olives,(stoned if you can find them)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper.
1 red onion, very fresh

How to make:

  • Slice the oranges in half then with the flat side down on the chopping board slice through a thinly as you can. A sharp slicer works well too but not the slicing disk on a food mixer as it tend to mash them up. If you find the peel too tough or hard to slice thinly you can peal the oranges first. Discard both ends which are largely just pith.
  • Slice the onion in a similar way.
  • The oranges make the first layer on a large plate, then the onions and finally the olives.
  • Abundant olive oil and black pepper over the top and a little salt.
  • The dish can be served right away but best left to sit for half an hour.

Also makes an appetizer by adding some Greek Feta cheese. OK I know it's not really Italian then but Sarah my wife loves it, which is of course the equivalent to a Royal Command.

Susan and Brooke Martin learning to make Insalata di Agrumi
on an Italywithrelish Cooking holiday in Cortona, Tuscany.

Chef Jonathan Arthur


Cured Spanish Ham

Spaniards have been curing hams for hundreds of years, the practice is even said to date back as far as Roman times. The most common ham in Spain is the Serrano or “Mountain ham” which accounts for around 93% of ham production in the country.

How long the ham is cured for depends on its intended grade or the preferred length of time the secadero (curing house) prefers. The majority of Spanish Serrano hams are cured for around a year, these are sometimes called “bodega” hams or “jamon curado” which basically means they are a ham which has been hung for the minimum length of time required.

Higher grade hams which are cured for longer are usually labeled reserva or grand reserva, again depending on the time hung, any ham which is cured for more than 14 months can be granted the reserva label. There are however some secaderos that cure their hams for 22 – 24 months, these examples are typically called “Anejo” meaning old. Anejo hams tend to be large weighing in at anywhere between 9 – 11kg, the reason for this is that due to the curing time the hams have to be large and plump initially as they will lose up to 35% of their weight during curing.

What about flavour?
Flavours do vary between hams and although subtle to anyone but the connoisseur texture and aroma also play an important role. As a general rule the longer the ham is cured for the more intense the flavour, anejo hams have real depth and go well with bossy red wines, manchego cheese and fruit. Younger hams are milder but still deliver good flavour and texture and are ideal for tapas and also cooking in recipes such Serrano ham croquettes, stuffed chicken or lightly fried with poached egg.

Top tip:
Whichever ham you choose the flavour will be greatly enhanced by carving your slices wafer thin, these slices also need to rest at room temperature where they will to sweat, it is at this point that your Spanish ham is ready to be thoroughly enjoyed.

Discover more >>>


The first time I made this it was fascinating to watch Grandma fighting with the kids for seconds!.

Amaretti Stuffed Peaches


1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup sugar
6 ripe peaches, peeled, halved and pitted
12 amaretti biscuits, crushed
1 egg yolk, beaten
3 tbsp cream, whipped

How to make:

  • Boil the wine and sugar for 5 minutes to form a syrup.
  • Poach the peach halves in the syrup for 5 more minutes, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and let cool.
  • Fold the amaretti crumbs and egg yolk into the cream.
  • Fill the peach halves with the cream mixture.
  • Arrange on a serving plate and pour the remaining wine syrup around them.

Serves 6


Vegetable Soup


1 oz butter
2 med onions, chopped
200 g smoked lardons (or chopped smoked streaky bacon)
Medium green pepper, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 sticks celery finely sliced
2 large potatoes, diced
2 large courgettes, diced
4 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
3 pts vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper

How to make:

  • Melt the butter in a large lidded saucepan, add the onions and fry over a medium heat for 3 minutes.
  • Add lardons, green pepper, carrots, celery, potatoes, courgettes and sweat over a low - medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the stock, parsley and freshly ground pepper. I recommended that you hold on the salt until the end of cooking and then season to taste.
  • Simmer for 30 - 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Serve hot.

Serves 6

  01st-30th The Big Curry

What’s the Big Curry all about?

The Soldiers’ Charity Big Curry is our month-long flagship fundraiser that takes place every April. Becoming a Big Curry host is an easy and social way for people to raise money for soldiers, former soldiers and their families. Being a Big Curry host can be as simple as a beer and Balti with friends or as adventurous as organising a Gala Curry event.

Find out how to get involved at http://bigcurry.org/

Click for more
  08th-10th The Chocolate Festival

The London Chocolate Festival is a celebration of everything chocolate. Visitors can expect an array of chocolate products such as chocolate bars, truffles and bonbons, as well as chocolate cakes, crepes with chocolate, hot chocolate and even savoury food with chocolate. Some of the best chocolatiers and chocolate companies regularly exhibit at the festival, and this is a unique opportunity to meet some of them in person. As well as stands selling chocolate, there are also special activities such as tutored tastings, chocolate baking demonstrations, book signings and more.

Click for more
  16th-17th East Anglian Game and Country Fair
The East Anglian Game & Country Fair is an annual two day, family event held at the Norfolk Showground, Norwich. Click for more
19th National Garlic Day

Celebrate by cooking with and eating garlic.

23rd-21st British Aspargus Festival

Make the most of the short British Asparagus season by visiting the British Asparagus Festival held in teh Vale of Evesham. Discover an array of ways to snack on the spear from asparagus ice-cream, to asparagus cake and if you play your cards right you may get to meet Gus, the Asparagus man.

Click for more




8 oz / 225g strong white flour
1 level tsp salt
½ oz / 15g fresh yeast
¼ pt / 150ml warm milk*
¼ pt warm water*
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tbsp cold water
1 egg white, lightly beaten

* It is important to have the right temperature (40°C / 104°F) when mixing so that the mixture will be warm enough for the yeast to start fermenting quickly. If the temperature is too high it will start to kill the yeast so it is best to use a thermometer to gauge the temperature which must be no higher than 43°C / 110°F.


  • Sieve the flour and salt together into a large bowl and mix in the yeast.
  • Combine the warm milk and warm water and pour into the bowl with the flour.
  • Beat the mixture vigorously for 5 minutes to achieve a smooth batter, then cover and put in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until the risen mixture starts to drop.
  • Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the cold water and beat it into the batter.
  • Completely fold in the beaten egg white to produce a thick batter the consistency of whipping cream.
  • To cook the Pikelets, lightly grease a griddle, hot plate or heavy-based frying pan and heat until a drop of the batter sizzles immediately on contact.
  • Drop a full tablespoon of batter on to the hot surface and cook until the top of the pikelet is no longer wet.
  • Turn pikelet over with a thin spatula or palette knife and cook the other side until it is lightly browned.
  • Serve either hot from the pan, or leave to cool then toast and butter.

To make crumpets:

Prepare the batter with 1 oz / 25g more flour and cook the one side only , with the batter contained in a greased 3 inch / 8cm ring on the cooking surface. After cooking leave to cool and then serve toasted and buttered.

Makes 12 Pikelets


This month's helpful idea comes from Chef James Benson who runs Benson of Broadway . . . "Quality catering across the Cotswolds and Midlands. We bring the restaurant to you. A chef in your home."

Why not take a look at the Blog to find out more www.thecotswoldfoodyear.com

How to cook a steak without the smoke!

"Can I sear a steak on the griddle and then wait a few hours before finishing it in the oven - for entertaining guests."

As Obama would say - "Yes you can!"

It's something I've been doing since a few months after I started the business. Originally I used to take the steaks raw and the grill pan and do them there. Of course, soon I found that every time we did that the smoke alarm in whatever house would go off straight away - and this really ruins the party atmosphere.

So since then I sear them on the griddle pan in my kitchen, blast chill them and keep them cool in the fridge till they are ready to be packed and then transport them in the refridgerated van. When we get to the venue they just need to be finished in the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes for medium fillet (slightly less for rib eye if they are thinner) - normally put them in the oven as we serve the starter. When done to the desired 'doneness' you can take them out of the oven to rest, then flash them back in the oven before serving for 2 to 3 mins to re-heat.

If you are doing this is at home the advantage is, as well as breaking the prep in two, you also have a few hours for the smoky smell wafting through the house to dissipate - much better when you are entertaining guests.

If you don't have a blast chiller just let them cool down (preferably on a cooling rack over a tray - this collects any dripping blood) after searing on the grill pan, then when cool you can refrigerate them. Covered with cling film of course, and on the lowest shelf in the fridge in case they drip blood over the rest of the fridge contents.

Note - steak should be kept in the fridge till needed after searing and cooling - you want to keep your guests safe.

Chef James Benson

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