Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Cooking with Bottlegreen

Started by husband and wife team Kit and Shireen Morris in 1989, bottlegreen has been making refreshing, clean crisp flavours for over 21 years. They first planted vines to make delicious elderflower wine, but as they waited for them to mature, they started producing elderflower cordial instead. They made this in their kitchen sink and sold it at farmers markets and local delicatessens. 
Bottlegreen Cordials
Bottlegreen cordial is the deliciously quaffable drink for you to enjoy relaxing by yourself or in an ice filled jug with a close group of friends.  It’s the perfect soft drink for you to sit back and enjoy some peaceful time away from your day-to-day hassles. They're also a great way to add flavour to your favourite dishes.
All cordials contain only the purest and finest natural ingredients blended together with clear spring water. Each one is as delicious as it is light, crisp and distinctive.
Bottlegreen cordials are also free from all artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners.

I was asked to test three different flavours in my cooking; Elderflower, Strawberry and Ginger and Lemongrass and was happy to use the recipes provided as a base, adding my own twist!
Seafood in Coconut, Ginger & Lemongrass sauce
Serves: 4
  • 300g of baby corn mange tout and broccoli
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 400ml canned coconut milk (use reduced fat if preferred)
  • 400g salmon fillet, skin removed
  • 300g peeled raw tiger or king prawns (thawed if frozen)
  • Juice from ½ large lime
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 spring onions, shredded
  • handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  1. Cut the baby sweet corn in half lengthways. If the mange tout are large, halve them. 
  1. In a deep frying pan (or sauté pan), gently cook the chopped shallots until softened. Stir them into the curry paste, tomatoes, and coconut milk. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half when the tomatoes are pulpy.
  1. Meanwhile, cut the salmon into 4cm chunks. Pat the prawns dry on kitchen paper. Add them to the sauce with the Ginger and Lemongrass cordial and lime juice, and then stir together. Add the vegetables, let it simmer for 5 minutes until the prawns turn pink and the salmon is cooked.
  1. Scatter over shreds of spring onion, chopped coriander and accompany with basmati or Thai jasmine rice. Ready to serve.

Recipe notes:
As with Thai food you need to add the four main elements; salty, sweet, sour and spicy. The heat in this dish comes from the curry paste. Taste, and if you need to add a little more heat, add some chopped fresh chilli. The sweetness comes from the small amount of added sugar in the cordial. I found this to be enough so no need to add anymoe. The fish sauce adds the sour element.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Review: Banana Tree, Milton Keynes

I was eagerly anticipating the opening of the new Banana Tree restaurant at The Hub in Milton Keynes. I'd checked out the menu before at their branch in Soho, so couldn't wait to try when they finally opened their doors.

Banana Tree serves up fantastic food and drinks from the Indochina region; Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Singaporean dishes. They have several locations, mostly around London but are creeping their way up via Watford to Milton Keynes... yay!!

The bar area is really cool, with big comfy chairs hanging from the ceiling, my boys loved having a swing in these while we waited for our table. There's a long seating area to the side of the bar too so a good place to meet friends before dinner.

We were seated quite quickly and given some prawn crackers to nibble on while we chose from the menu. 
I wanted to try EVERYTHING!! 

First up, these fresh Indo herb wraps; light and aromatic Nem Noung Coriander Meatballs, served with Batavia lettuce, fresh herbs and a delicious Nuoc Cham dipping sauce.

Sticky Thai wings; Marinated fried chicken wings tossed in house special tamarind, garlic, sweet basil and chilli sauce

Dried pulled beef with aromatic herbs and peanuts; served with prawn crackers.
Our waitress told us to chew slowly to really release the flavours. It had an amazing intense taste.

We also had the steamed chicken dumplings in a vinegar, garlic and fresh herb sauce, but my boys dived in before I had the chance to take a pic.

This was from the kids menu; crispy chicken with mango and sweet lime sauce, served with either steamed rice or noodles. It also included a dessert of either ice-cream with sauce and sprinkles or sorbet.

The Banana Tree Laksa; Rice noodles topped with house special spiced coconut broth, with aubergine, tofu and bean sprouts. There was a choice of coriander meatballs, chicken or king prawn.

I had the legendary beef Rendang; a famous speciality from the Minangkabau hill tribe of Indonesia. A deliciously rich and nutty slow cooked dry and fragrant curry with a toasted coconut based sauce. I chose a lovely fresh and spicy green papaya salad to go with.

The boys enjoyed their ice-cream and I sampled the spiced Malay 'pull' tea, which was like a chai and made with condensed milk. A lovely end to the meal.

I can't recommend the Banana Tree enough... we thoroughly enjoyed our meals and I can't wait to return again very soon.

Julie x

Save 20% on tickets to The BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes Show

The BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes Show launches in London on 25-27th October this year and I'm so excited that I will be having a stand here...
Save 20% today! Simply quote 20EX20 when you book.
Packed with baking, bread-making and cake-crafting demonstrations, free step-by-step master classes, and hundreds of essential baking products, this is the perfect place to develop your home baking hobby. 
Plus, you can watch Mary Berry, Mich Turner, John Whaite, Paul Hollywood, and more of your favourite bakers LIVE at the show! A seat in the Bakes & Cakes Theatre is included in every full day adult advance ticket.  Book yours and save 20% today – just quote 20EX20 to claim! 

Hope to see you there!

Julie x

T&Cs for ticket offers

*Offer valid on Adult and Concession standard advance tickets only.  Offer ends 30.09.14.  †Standard Bakes & Cakes Theatre seat included per advance standard ticket, subject to availability. Gold seats available for £3 extra per person. All admin and transaction fees included. Ticket terms and conditions apply. Not all celebrities appear on all days, check the website for details. Information correct at time of print.