Hello everyone, and a very warm welcome to new readers. This is Afternoon Week on Champagne Twist
This week is a very special week for me, as over the next 7 days we get to celebrate my favourite meal. Imagine an entire week dedicated to all things Afternoon Tea.
There are special events up and down the country, including discounted afternoon teas at some very nice establishments, so be sure to check them out. For more information, please click the link – AfternoonTea.co.uk.
But stick around here, and you will be awarded with the following treats:
Afternoon Tea Week 2017
Afternoon Tea Week – Day 1
Monday 14th August – Start of Afternoon Tea Week
General introduction and what you can look forward to this week on ChampagneTwist.com
The return of Wednesday Thinking, where I showcase thought provoking articles from social media, focusing on a recent and relevant topic. The aim is to help raise awareness and contribute to positive and proactive discussion and conversation. 3 guesses what this week’s topic will be.
Afternoon Tea Week – Day 4
Thursday 17th August – Cakes and Bakes
More brand new recipes in celebration of all things Afternoon Tea, with a slant towards vegetarian, vegan and plant based diets.
Afternoon Tea Week – Day 5
Friday 18th August – Views and Reviews
A look back at some of the best (and worse!) afternoon tea treats, plus a general history of Afternoon Tea.
Afternoon Tea Week – Day 6
Saturday 19th August – Crafts and DIY
All sorts of craft makes relating to my favourite hot drink.
OK, so you’re probably thinking, “fruit soup? Is that a thing?”
Well as it may surprise you, the answer is yes. And you’ve probably have already heard of at least one type of fruit soup. May I remind you that one of the world’s most popular soups is made from fruit – remember our friend the humble tomato soup?
So carrying on this idea, I thought how fun it could be to create a soup from say berries. If you follow my Instagram account, you may know that I have a glut of blackberries growing in the garden. I have already filled my freezer with tubs and tubs of blackberries, which should sustain me through the winter. I also plan to make blackberry and lavender jam, blackberry and apple pies, blackberry and apple pie filling for the freezer … yes just 3 weeks into the blackberry season and I’m fast running out of space, ideas and love for the berry.
Berry soup is the answer … which I’m enjoying most days for breakfast. The recipe, you may be glad to know, is ridiculously simple, with no prep dishes to clean up afterwards. You can also use this recipe as a base for smoothies or sauces for pudding such as with ice-cream or frozen yogurt. Serve warm or as I prefer on a hot summer’s day, chilled.
Berry Fruit Soup – recipe by Champagne Twist
1 medium size banana
2 dsps natural or vanilla yogurt
mint leaves for decoration (optional)
Reserving 1 tbsp of the yogurt and a few berries for decoration, add all the fruit and the yogurt in a blender, and blitz until smooth.
Divide the mixture equally between 2 bowls.
To each serving, whirl 1/2 a tbsp of yogurt.
Decorate with the reserved berries and fruit syrup if using. Finish with a sprig of mint for decoration, if you wish.
The weather is being a bit odd today. It’s either raining cats and dogs or grey and overcast.
Last week, I purchased loads of courgettes and rather than make the usual quiche for lunch, I wanted to make something different. The onion medley idea came from using up other ingredients in the fridge.
This is a quick recipe, which can be served hot, warm or cold.
Courgette and onion medley open pie – recipe | Champagne Twist
3 large courgette, thinly sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 banana shallot, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch chilli pepper flakes
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
320g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
50g cream cheese, at room temperature
splash of milk
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Place the courgette slices in a large mixing bowl.
Add the oil, leek, red onion, shallot, garlic, cayenne pepper, chilli flakes, thyme, salt and black pepper, to the sliced courgettes and toss everything together to ensure even covering. Set aside.
Place the pastry on a baking sheet. Using the tip of a sharp knife, lightly score a 1 cm line around the edge of the pastry to form a ‘frame’.
In a separate, small bowl or jug, add in the cream cheese and milk. Mix well until fully combined.
Place the courgette and onion mixture on to the pastry base, in an even layer. Making sure not to cover the outer pastry ‘frame.
Bake the pie on the middle shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry has risen and golden brown. Serve with a crisp green salad.
Yes, we are a little late this month … but June was so jammed packed it was hard to choose which would make the final edit. Now that the techno stuff is also on the mend, the video backlog will soon be cleared, so watch out for even more.
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Few things surprise me. I predicted Brexit, the US election and the UK election. I knew when One Direction would split up, and that the Master would kill Missy in Doctor Who. As I said, few things surprise me, but today at the Allergy and Free From Bloggers’ meet up, that was an absolute shocker.
Attending the event was intended to be a treat for us bloggers, a chance to meet fellow foodies and interact with great companies who work tireless to create such great products.
Sadly, for want of a simple clipboard and checklist, rather than a happy, friendly chit chat between foodies, the event turned into a free for all, which could have turned rapidly into something more disastrous.
I’m writing this, because I have never in my life witnessed such total greed in people. I will point out firstly that the organiser and attending bloggers couldn’t have been nicer and I would have loved to have had a good old natter with them. I would have loved to chat with all the food producers who also attended, as it is unusual to have the opportunity for a face to face with people, who not only care deeply about the products they make, but also the customers who they sell their items to.
Yet the ugly greed of some people, completely spoiled the occasion for me.
Examples of behaviour
One woman had the audacity to sit down next to me and boast at length how she grabbed a number of free samples. Then she asked me what a blogger was!
Another woman continually grabbed as much as her hands could manage, pushing other people in the process. Honestly, was there any need for this?
I asked another person who seemingly came from nowhere if she was a blogger. She replied in the positive. She lied. When pushed, she admitted she overheard that someone was giving out freebies and she wanted to see what she could get.
One woman, with a foot in a cast, climbed over several benches, and physically pushed her way to the front, in order to get a bottle of beer. She may have a bad foot, but she’s got a good pair of eyes and more stamina than Andy Murray! She’s pretty quick too, for a person with a foot in plaster.
Another woman, pretended that she didn’t understand English, yet was later heard conversing in English to her associate, discussing how they could trick other producers into giving them more free stuff.
It wasn’t the fact that these people took, well stole, these items, heck it happens all the time. It was the calculated malice in which they conducted themselves. Honestly, in all my days, I have never seen a sudden mass of people, so greedy, so dishonest, so disgusting.
There are the knock on effects – this was a group of bloggers, who specialise in food allergies. They perform vital work in getting information out to people who a) can’t attend these events and b) require specific knowledge in order to carry on with their daily lives.
Of course, these greedy horrors won’t care a jot and would probably step over their own grandmother for a penny. But many will miss out in this important information, why should. they have to suffer?
It both angers and saddens me that I had to bore witness to such abject greed. For goodness sakes, this is a G8 country. Yes, things are bad, but have we reached the level of such awful behaviour? Have we become so uncaring, so selfish, so greedy, so absolutely shameless? Apparently we have.
How it went wrong
I don’t understand why the area wasn’t closed off to the general public, or why none of the bloggers were asked for any form of ID. Thankfully it didn’t quite develop into a full run, but in a confined area, with so many people, frankly it wasn’t worth the risk for me and I left half way through.
It was continually announced over the PA that it was a private event, yet still more and more people crammed their way into the space in order to fill their boots. The effect was by then too little, too late. Perhaps being in that immediate environment heightened what happened, but I tell you this, I never what to witness such ugly, cold hearted greed ever again.
I did manage to speak briefly to a few producers, and I will either contact them separately and/or review their products in due course.
Yes, I know I run a risk of being ostracised from the blogging community by publishing this post, but if this is the way such events are conducted, people need to know.
Reaction from Allergy & Free From Learning Centre Assistant
To add insult to injury, one of the Allergy & Free From Learning Centre assistants rudely interrupted me mid-conversation with the event organiser, after I had waited patiently, by holding her hand up to my face, giving me the most evil look imaginable.
Was there any need for that, for what was in essence partly her failure to keep the event safe and organised?
No doubt this will all be buried in the social media web as quickly as possible to minimise any perceived damage.
It took me a while to get my mits on these, and nearly resorted to ordering a crate direct from Pip and Nuts online store. But then they sold out … argh!!!!
But thanks to Ocado, who currently have the butter on special offer, I scooped up 3 of the the beauties.
The Pip & Nut Limited Edition Chocolate, Coconut and Hazelnut butter. The very sound of it is delicious. But sadly the name is better than reality.
There have been a couple of disappointments – 1 being that the jar size is now a smaller 225g reduced from 250g, which is a bit sneaky. The offer price at £3.19 is high, making the RRP at £3.99 pretty pricy, especially as other butters in the range are around the £2 mark.
Taste wise, it’s not bad. I can’t eat this by the spoonful – believe me, I tried – as the coconut flavour is a little too prominent for me and contributes to an odd ‘fatty’ aftertaste. But on toast, it is delicious. The butter has a good consistency and is great melted as a sauce for fresh fruit, pancakes or breakfast cereals. I had planned to use the butter as a baking ingredient. Due to it’s cost and reduced size however, I can’t justify using 2 jars for a 1 cake. Why, oh why did they make the jars smaller?
I did try mixing a teaspoon of the butter with 2 heaped tablespoons of coconut yogurt. I added a few black raspberries harvested from the garden, and made a quick pudding. I later added a teaspoon of caramel sauce, as it helped to cut down the fatty aftertaste from the coconut butter.
As a treat, this is fab, I particularly like the fact that there is no trace of palm oil, which is where Nutella fails. The difference however is that I can easily eat Nutella by the spoonful, and at £5 for a 1kg jar, it is more economical.
Overall, I’m glad I got my 3 jars and am happy to use this product, sparingly. Unfortunately the search for a healthier, viable sub for Nutella continues.
Edit – 23rd July
With regret, I’m going to have to take off another 2 points. I tried another jar of this butter and found that it tasted over salty. There’s no justification for salt in this product that I can think of, let alone in such high amounts.
I decided to try baking with it, and sadly with a too high levels of coconut oil coupled with hardly any chocolate or hazelnut flavour, the chocolate brownie I baked came out tasting mostly of salt and poor quality coconut oil. Bitterly disappointed with what should have been the perfect blend of 3 of my favourite flavours.
Place both the yogurt and the ginger into a freezer proof tub or old ice-cream container which has a sealable lid. Stir thoroughly, secure the lid and place in the freezer for about an hour before serving.
I serve the frozen yogurt with fresh fruit as a quick, elegant dessert. It’s a lovely served in small glasses and makes for an impressive yet elegant after dinner course. You could also serve with chocolate curls or thins if you want to add a little more indulgence.
This time last week, I was enjoying a great masterclass, held by the owner of Elizabeth D Bakes, hosted by the Piccadilly branch of Whole Foods Market. Elizabeth demonstrated no less than 3 different recipes – pistachio brownie, carrot cake and lime tart.
My absolute favourite was the carrot cake, with it’s wonderful spicy mix and delicious carrots. The lime icing really brought out the flavour of the gluten-free cake, much better in my opinion than the traditional cream cheese frosting, and for far less calories.
The brownie while delicious, was my less favourite of the trio, partly because as much as I would love to, I still can’t really get my head around chia seeds. To me they look too much like frog spawn when reconstituted and they don’t match the flavour and consistency of eggs.
In contrast, the lime pie was a lovely treat – delicious, moist, crumbly and full of delicious citrus flavour. It came a close second to the carrot cake, and it’s nice to know that the entire pie can be frozen at different stages, so that you will always have one ready on standby.
The masterclass was a great eye opener for me. Simply substituting just a few inexpensive ingredients can produce cakes and bakes which are just as delicious as the traditional version, if not more so. The added bonus, these recipes tend to be a whole lot healthier and less calorific, due to their free from, gluten free and/or vegan attributes.
We are all given goodie bags, which included 2 Elizabeth D Bakes banana breads. I shall review the banana bread at a later date. I will also try the recipes given at the event and report back.
One of the best masterclasses of the year so far – fun, informative and generous yummy samples provided. Eating cake for Sunday brunch can’t be beaten.