A curious mushroom liqueur

cepe essence culinary speciality bottle
Photo from http://www.distillerie-perigord.com

We found this intriguing liqueur in the supermarket in France last weekend; it seems to be an alcoholic essence of ceps. Here’s the blurb from the bottle:

Sublimez simplement vos plats avec la Spécialité Culinaire au parfum de Cèpe. Notre spécialité culinaire est élaborée au cœur du Périgord à partir de cèpes soigneusement sélectionnés.
Idéale pour déglacer, mariner, flamber vos volailles et autres viandes ainsi que vos poissons. Peut également être utilisée pour parfumer vos risottos, veloutés et purées. Versez 1 cuillère à soupe par personne en fin de cuisson, remuez, servez. (Aucun assaisonnement supplémentaire nécessaire).

Rough translation: “Easily enhance your cooking with this cep essence ‘culinary speciality’. Our culinary speciality has been created in the heart of the Périgord [province] from carefully selected ceps.”

“It is perfect for deglazing, marinating, or flambéing poultry, meat and fish dishes. It can also be used to flavour risottos, soups and purées. Add one soup spoon per person at the end of cooking, stir and serve. (No extra seasoning is required).”

Never having seen it before, I’m fascinated to see what can be made with this unusual product. The only recipe provided on the distilling company’s website is for a very rich-sounding scrambled eggs with ‘virtual’ ceps, which doesn’t appeal much!

I’m thinking of adding some to garlic mushrooms or a sauce for chicken or steak. It is very strongly flavoured so it’s probably not intended for drinking, although having Googled, there do seem to be mushroom flavoured cocktails around.

Have you ever used essence of ceps?


Christmas Countdown | 19 | Gluten Free Afternoon Tea

Gluten free afternoon tea at Brown's Hotel, London jennybegoode.wordpress.com
My Aunt, Mum and Sister enjoying afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel in London.

Earlier this month, I said I would report back on the gluten free afternoon tea at Brown’s Hotel in London. My Mum, Sister and Aunt like to meet up in London now and then for a day out and a catch up.

I’ve never suggested afternoon tea before, although I’ve been with friends several times, as my Mum is gluten free and I’ve always assumed that it wouldn’t be worth it for her. After all, the main part of afternoon tea is sandwiches, cake and scones!

I was convinced to give it a go after chatting to the maître d’ at the English Tea Room and I’m so glad I did. The bread used for the gluten free tea was indistinguishable from the normal bread. I have no idea how that’s even possible!

The gluten free scones were excellent too. And as far as I could see, the only difference between the gluten free cakes and the normal cakes was the lack of choux, which is totally understandable.

On top of all of that, you get charming service and a live pianist. We’ll definitely be back.

This month, I’m again attempting to blog every day to turn this corner of the internet into a sort of advent calendar. Posts will be tagged ChristmasCountdown2015 or you can look at the calendar in the sidebar ⇒

Links I found interesting this month

Lanhydrock, CornwallOne of my favourite types of blog posts to read is a round-up of links and stories from around the web. Not only is it a great way to find new and useful things to read, but it also means I’ll be able to find the links to those interesting articles later on! With that in mind, here are some items I found interesting this month:

• This blog post from Slow Your Home inspired me to delete all the social media apps on my phone last week.

• I sent this article about gender-neutral dress to my friend whose twins don’t have ‘his’ and ‘her’ clothes.

• Fantastic illustrations of Bath by Perry Harris, shown to me by the Mayor no less!

• Bristolians are loving the Shaun in the City sculpture trails.

• The Great British Bake Off starts next week (Wednesday, 8pm)!

• An enormous list of minimalism resources.

• Terrifying article about rescuing women from Isil (and women’s own testimonies).

• Finally, am I the only one with a bit of a crush on Mhairi Black?

December Twenty-Fifth – a well-barbecued turkey

Our kitchen is too tiny to cook everything all at once, so we decided to barbecue our turkey. It worked well!

Barbecued turkey

Here’s a bonus picture of T and I in our new Christmas aprons which were a gift from my Mum.

Christmas aprons 2014

Merry Christmas!

This month (December 2014), I’ve been attempting to turn my blog into an advent calendar by posting every day in the run up to Christmas! Posts are tagged ChristmasCountdown2014 or look at the calendar in the sidebar –>

December Twenty-Fourth – gathering

BubblesThe turkey was delivered this morning. The fridge is full. The wine is chilled and the Quality Street have been opened. Today has been a relaxed day, with a walk in the park, feeding the ducks, friends dropping by with gifts and cards (and to pick up a case of red we were holding for them). The family has gathered. The first games have been played and the first song (“It’s all part of being a pirate”) sung. I’m trying to relax and not worry about the details. Just enjoying the moments. Thinking about the people I’m not with today and looking forward to speaking to them tomorrow and seeing them soon. Christmas is nearly here!

December Twentieth – antipasti platter

Antipasti platterWe made this antipasti platter for our first Christmas celebration today with one side of T’s family. We used a dish that T inherited from his Granny. It used to live on her wall and I wonder if it had ever been used for food before.

I love making platters instead of formal starters. This one had some mixed antipasti from the supermarket (rolled for texture), pate, mixed olives, mozzarella pearls, cherry vine tomatoes, stuffed peppers, gherkins and rocket.

We’re going to do a fish version for our second Christmas celebration next week (we have four in total).

This month (December 2014), I’m attempting to turn my blog into an advent calendar by posting every day in the run up to Christmas! Posts are tagged ChristmasCountdown2014 or look at the calendar in the sidebar –>

December Nineteenth – the cost of coffee (or how I kept my New Year’s resolution)

How many cups of coffee did I buy in 2014?

Back in January I made a New Year’s resolution “to try and stop buying takeaway coffee”.

Although I didn’t explicitly say so at the time, I was thinking about work days rather than weekends/annual leave and I was specifically thinking about takeaway coffees rather than those drunk in cafés. It was the thoughtless, habitual coffees I was buying at the train station that I wanted to reduce or cut out. This was partly to save money, partly to reduce non-recyclable waste and partly to cut down on stress (queuing for coffee in the morning versus getting to the platform on time).

So how did I do?

There were 245 possible working days this year, counting till today. Taking off 16 days of annual leave and 3 sick days, we are left with 226 days. My record keeping was not perfect, but I reckon I’ve had 231 coffees on working days this year. Some days were double coffee days!

Of those 231 coffees, I made 155 myself at the office using my one-cup French press. The remaining 76 coffees were purchased but of those at least 15 were to drink in cafés and so created no non-recyclable waste. I’m only counting working days, so these are made up of breakfast dates with my husband and meetings in cafés.

That leaves 61 takeaway coffees out of the 231 I drank this year. Previously I would probably have bought nearly all of them as takeaways since the breakfast date innovation was also new this year. So I think I definitely succeeded in my resolution. Hurrah!

How much did I save?

Saving money wasn’t the sole purpose of the resolution and I didn’t keep track of how much ground coffee and milk I bought.

However I can make some estimates. A standard 227g bag of ground coffee makes approximately 25 cups (I use a heaped dessert spoon full per one-cup pot of coffee) and costs between £2 and £4. I received two bags of coffee as Christmas gifts, including in Secret Santa and probably bought four bags at a cost of between £8 and £16. So let’s say £12 for the ground coffee. Milk costs 49p per pint and I probably bought approximately 40 pints this year (I didn’t keep track) so that’s another £9.80. That means the total cost of my raw ingredients was, at a very rough estimate, £21.80 or about 14p per cup. I’m not counting water and electricity costs because I was at the office.

Takeaway coffee costs from 99p per cup (Prêt à Manger filter coffee) up to a ridiculous amount if you have a giant fancy mocha with syrups and gold bullion sprinkles. I’m going to base calculations on a regular Americano from Caffè Nero at £2 per cup.

The 155 coffees I made myself therefore prevented me spending £288.20 (155 x £2 – £21.80). To look at it another way this year I spent approximately £122 (61 x £2) on takeaway coffees on work days as opposed to potentially £462 (231 x £2) if I had bought all of the coffees I drank – a difference of £340.

Of course none of these calculations are perfect since I wasn’t previously a particularly loyal customer of any one coffee shop. Still, it’s good to know I have saved a big chunk of change for a small amount of effort. I’ll definitely be continuing next year!