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The Rise and Rise of British Food

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(not on the high street)

Despite Britain’s lingering reputation across the channel for bland, stodgy and overcooked food (French ex-President Jacques Chirac famously stated, ‘one cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad’) in recent years London has been busy establishing itself as one of the gastronomic capitals of the world.

Not only is London emerging as a city that offers some of the most delicious, diverse and vibrant cuisine all across the globe, but its produce is booming too: in 2010, Britain made approximately 700 different types of cheeses – that’s 100 more than France. That same year, a survey found that Britons spent more time cooking than the French: 50% of Britons said they spent more than half an hour every evening cooking, compared to only 27% of the French.

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Fish and chips; not our only dish. Image courtesy of LearningLark

While this isn’t a competition between the UK and France, it’s interesting to note that Britain, a country ridiculed for its food for years, has surpassed France, a country celebrated more for its cuisine than any other in the world, in many aspects of both food produce and fine dining.  

As any Londoner will tell you, the capital city is full of fantastic restaurants, trendy bars and quirky cafes, and is one of the best places in the world to find a range of foreign cuisine. Rarely has a country embraced ethnic food as significantly as Britain – to the point where we consider curry one of our national dishes.  

However, despite our apparently insatiable appetites for international food, both traditional and modern British fare is significantly on the rise, and more and more restaurants are popping up over the capital celebrating the best of British.  

If you have guests visiting from another country and want to show them that there is so much more to British food than fish and chips or bangers and mash – or you just fancy reviving your own love for our local delights – have a look at three of our favourite British eateries in London.  

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Now this is the place to take anyone who thinks British food consists of heavy, tasteless food – after an evening at Heston’s Dinner they will be forced to re-asses everything they thought they knew about UK cuisine. Inspired by historic British gastronomy, the menu is just as quirky as you’d expect from Heston Blumenthal. Especially famous here is the meat fruit starter, a chicken liver and foie gras parfait shaped to look like a perfect mandarin, which is based on a hugely popular English dish from the 1500s.  

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Meat fruit and grilled bread image courtesy of Irene  

Main courses are just as exciting and feature a unique combination of historic dishes with a modernised, Heston-style twist: spiced pigeon with ale and artichokes is another firm favourite, as is roast halibut with admiral’s sauce, shrimps, chicory and capers. Vegetarian mains are just as exceptional, with the braised celery and parmesan, cider apple and smoked walnuts especially delicious. With two Michelin stars to its name among its many, many accolades, a dining experience at Dinner is guaranteed not to disappoint.  

The Perkin Reveller is perfect for those who want a slice of London history with their meal and is another impressive restaurant to take visitors to. With Tower Bridge, the River Thames and the ancient Tower of London on its doorstep – and a restaurant name taken straight from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – you can’t really get more traditional British than this.  

The menu is contemporary British with international touches and a strong focus on seasonality; the blackboard changes several times a year depending on which local produce is available. The pork belly, celeriac and apple is consistently popular, and the Cornish fish stew with saffron potatoes is an unusual spin on a wonderfully authentic coastal favourite.  

The herb spelt, roasted roscoff onion, walnut crumb and goat’s cheese will delight both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, and with its fabulously authentic British décor and sensational views over some of London’s most famous sights, you can be sure that the Perkin Reveller will provide you with a dining experience you won’t forget in hurry.  

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The view from Perkin Reveller  

While there clearly is so much more to British cuisine than roast beef, the fact that our fair isles have the best beef in the world is not usually disputed – not even by the French! Hawksmoor restaurants (there are several in the city) certainly take advantage of this in their menus and offer undeniable proof that the Brits can do steak like the best of them. The doorstop-thick steaks are cooked over charcoal for a superb smoky taste and are considered some of the finest in the capital.  

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 Hawksmoor breakfast image courtesy of Ewan-M  

However, the Hawksmoor has a lot more to offer than just sublime steak – it’s also especially famous for its all-day breakfast, which features eggs, mushrooms, sausages, black pudding, bacon and the classic Hawksmoor twist… bone marrow. The British lobster with garlic butter is an indulgent feast for two and the grilled free-range chicken is proof that sometimes the simplest recipes can be the best.

Marie Rayner
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Up-scaled Bangers and Mash for the Toddster

Todd just loves his Banger's and Mash. If I want to make him happy, that's all I have to cook up. He could eat them more than once every week!

I do think they have lovely sausages over here in the UK. . . well the best quality ones at any rate. The el cheapo ones are just plain nasty . . . but you could say the same thing about cheap sausages anywhere in the world. Full of fat and fillers, they are just horrible. There's no denying it.

But there is nothing tastier or more beautiful than a really good Butcher's sausage. I've said it before and I'll say it again . . . you can tell a good Butcher by the quality of his sausages!! We've got the best here in town, I think. R & J Dodd . . . there, I said it!

I picked up a pound of his lovely Pork and Chive sausages yesterday and I wanted to do something special with them, without destroying Todd's fancy . . . you know the old Banger's and Mash thing.

Anyhoo . . . I took the premise and I ran with it, glazing the sausages in a deliciously sticky sweet, fruity and spicy glaze and pimped the mash up with some chives and buttermilk. I love taking the boundaries of the traditional and stretching them!

Todd thoroughly enjoyed. Mission accomplished. He didn't even miss the Bisto.

*Sticky Bangers with Buttermilk and Chive Mash*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

This ain't yo mama's bangers and mash!

1 pound good quality butcher's sausages
2 dessert spoons of mango chutney
2 dessert spoons of apricot preserves
2 dessert spoons of grainy Dijon mustard

For the mash:
2 pounds floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
( a maris piper, or a russet type of potato)
2 ounces milk (1/4 cup)
2 ounces butter (1/4 cup)
4 to 6 ounces of buttermilk (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
1 bunch of chives, finely chopped
salt and black pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add about a TBS of oil or less, just enough to coat the pan and allow it to heat up. Add the sausages in one layer, reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning frequently, until nicely browned all over and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

In the meantime place the potatoes into a pot of lightly salted water and bring to the boil. Cook until fork tender and then drain well. Place back into the saucepan and shake over the residual heat of the burner to dry out. Mash well with a potato masher. Beat in the milk, butter and buttermilk until ight and fluffy. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the chives. Keep warm.

Stir together the mango chutney, preserves and mustard. Turn up the heat under the pan of sausages. Pour the mango mixture over top. Heat to a boil and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the sausages are lightly glazed and sticky, but not burnt. Remove from the heat.

Divide the sausages and the mash amongst 4 heated plates and serve immediately along with your favourite vegetable. (Todd likes peas and carrots. He's so predictable!)
Marie Rayner
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Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes and Capers

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 There are normally only two of us eating in this house and so I normally try to cut recipes in half for us, or create dishes which are simple and make just enough for two.  It's not that hard to do really.   And you can normally multiply up with no problems at all.

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I found myself with an abundance of cherry tomatoes on Saturday last and so I decided that I would incorporate them somehow into our supper.   I also had chicken breasts.  Chicken and tomatoes go really well together.   One only need to look at delicious recipes such as Chicken Cacciatore or Chicken Parmesan to see that this is true.

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This recipe goes together very quickly so I would suggest you have all of the ingredients ready and hand before you start.  The chicken breasts are cut into two escallopes horizontally which makes for quick cooking . . .

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The cherry tomatoes are cut in half as well, for quick cooking.  I saw a really interesting and helpful little video on how to that really quickly the other day.  You can see it here.  It's a slap on the forehead, why didn't I think of that kind of a thing!  (It really does work!)

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The tomatoes are quickly frizzed in some olive oil along with some garlic.  You dust the chicken pieces with some flour and salt and pepper and then brown them in the same pan, along with some sage.    It doesn't take very long at all as they are only half as thick as they normally are.

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A splash of white wine, a few capers . . . .  bubble bubble bubble, a handful of chopped parsley and presto chango, you have tender moist chicken with a delicious sauce of cherry tomatoes and capers, that will please any meat loving man.  The Toddster loves this.  I always serve it with some boiled new potatoes.  It goes down a real treat, and goes together lickety split.  If you are looking for a quick, easy and delicious supper and are feeling a tad bit lazy, this is your perfect meal!  Looks like you slaved all day, but took literally minutes.

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 *Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes and Capers*
Serves 2
Quite simply delicious.  Quick to make.

olive oil
2 dloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
150g of cherry tomatoes, halved (Approximately 1 cup)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, each sliced horizontally
through the middle into two escallopes (4 pieces in total)
plain flour for dusting
salt and black pepper
2 tsp freeze dried crumbled sage leaves (NOT powdered)
3 TBS white wine
2 TBS capers, drained and rinsed (the ones in vinegar)
1 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley 

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large non stick frying pan.   Add the garlic and tomatoes, season lightly and fry over high heat until they are just beginning to pucker a bit.   Scoop the tomatoes out onto a plate and set aside.  Leave in the garlic.

Season the slices of chicken breast to taste and dredge lightly with flour, patting it into the meat and shaking off any excess.  Heat another splash of olive oil in the pan.   Add the sage and cook for about a minute and then add the chicken slices, presentation side down.   Fry over medium high heat until they are golden and then flip them over and brown the other sides.

Add the wine and return the tomatoes to the pan along with the capers and parsley.  Let it bubble up a bit and evaporates somewhat.   Cover with a lid and set aside off the heat for several minutes before serving.   The juices of the chicken should run clear.   Divide between two heated dinner plates.  I like to serve with boiled and buttered new potatoes. Simple and delicious.

Note - This can easily be doubled or even tripled if you have a pan large enough.   Don't worry about the wine, it bubbles off.  If you really don't want to use it you can use chicken stock, or even water.
Marie Rayner
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Sunshine Morning Swirls

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I usually always have puff pastry lurking in my freezer.  It's one of my store cupboard ingredients and it comes in really handy for both sweet and savory bakes.  It makes a lovely topping on a pot pie and it makes beautiful sweet scrolls . . . like these delicious Sunny Morning Scrolls.

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I had a jar of lemon curd in the refrigerator that needed using up and we have had such a run of beautiful sunny days recently, I decided to put the two together and came up with these delicious Breakfast pastries.

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They were very easy to make.  You just unroll your puff pastry and spread it with some lemon curd to the edges . . . easy enough.   Then I chopped some sultana raisins and toasted pecan nuts together in the mini chopper and sprinkled them on top of the lemon curd, prior to rolling it all up in a nice tight roll.

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After  that I used a nice sharp knife to cut the roll into 8 thick slices and placed them onto a paper lined baking tray.  Still easy, right?   Smush them down a tiny bit with the palm of your hand and brush them with an egg wash.  (An egg yolk beaten with a bit of water, simple.)   A final sprinkle of crunchy demerara (turbinado) sugar and they were ready to be baked.

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In all honesty I am a bit like a child when I have something like this in the oven, watching them puff up as they bake, through the glass in the oven window.  It's like magic.

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Once baked I create lemon drizzle icing to drizzle over them, sort of like gilding the lily I suppose.  They would have been quite lovely without it, but with it . . . well . . . see for yourself.  Is that not magnifique???   Are you drooling yet?  I thought so!  Just like little rays of sunshine.  Fresh flavours.  Easy to make.  So delicious!

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*Sunny Morning Swirls*
Makes 8

I called these sunny morning swirls because  they reminded me of the sun, with their golden lemon curd, sultana and pecan filling rolled up in puff pastry and baked, then glazed with a tangy lemon glaze.  Beautiful breakfast treats!  

1 sheet of ready roll puffed pastry, all butter if you can get it
150g of good quality lemon curd (a generous half cup)
75g of sultana raisins (1/2 cup)
60g of toasted pecans (1/2 cup)
1 egg yolk, beaten with a drop of water
demerara sugar
For the glaze:
65g icing sugar, sifted (1/2 cup)
lemon juice 

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Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.  Set aside. 

Put your pecans and sultanas into a food processor and blitz a couple times until they are coarsely chopped.  Set aside.

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Unroll your puffed pastry on a lightly floured surface.   Spread the entire surface with the lemon curd, spreading it out evenly.  Sprinkle the raisin and nut mixture over top.  Roll up tightly from the short end.  Cut into 8 even sliced crosswise.  Place them onto the baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.  Brush each with some of the beaten egg yolk.  Sprinkle evenly  with some demerara sugar.  

Bake in the heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.  Remove from the oven.  Let stand on the baking sheet for about 5  minutes then scoop off onto a wire rack.  Whisk together the glaze ingredients, adding only enough lemon juice to the sugar to make a drizzable mixture.  You may only need about a teaspoon of juice.  Drizzle decoratively over top of the buns.   Serve warm.

Delicious indeed!!
Marie Rayner
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Coconut, Lime and Blueberry Scones

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Generally speaking at the weekend I like to bake the Toddster a delicious teatime treat.  Something that I know he will enjoy and that I wouldn't normally bake for him.  He's very fond of scones . . . the problem is so am I.   What to do about that??  I don't know.  I bake em anyways, even if they do get in my mouth.

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This is a simple recipe, using ordinary things and my most favourite ingredient of all fresh blueberries.  So good for you with their vitamins and anti-oxidents!    Once the dough is made for these you just pat it into a round, place it on the baking sheet and then cut it into wedges, pushing them apart gently for baking.  So good.

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They bake like a dream and there is no faffing about with cutting them into rounds etc,  all the dough gets used up, so there's no waste.  No tough scones from having to re-roll and cut, etc.

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These puff up really nicely, and are stogged full of lovely coconut and lime flavours which go really well with the blueberries.

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These are beautiful served with a nice cuppa and some blueberry jam . . .  but lemon curd is my chosen poison, and I eat it whenever I can.   I know . . . I'm repeating myself here, but blueberries and lemon are such perfect partners!

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Just look at that crisp  coconut and sugar gilding  the top of these delicious bakes!  So good!

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And all those blueberries.   So tasty!  Nice.  Nice.

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The delicate crunch of coconut and sugar, the sweetness of blueberries, the tang of lime.   What's not to like about these??

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*Coconut, Lime and Blueberry Scones*
Makes 8

These are delightfully full of the lovely flavours of lime and coconut, not to mention sweet blueberries.  I call dips on the big one!  

225g self raising flour (1 1/2 cups plus 2 TBS)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 TBS caster sugar
50g of chilled butter (3 1/2 TBS, scant 1/4 cup)
the finely grated zest and juice of one lime
75g fresh blueberries (about 1/2 cup)
25g dessicated coconut (scant cup)
3 TBS tinned milk or cream
4 TBS milk
plain flour for dusting
to finish:
1 medium egg yolk beaten with a drop of water
1 TBS dessicated coconut
1 TBS granulated sugar 

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  LIne a baking tray with baking paper.  Set aside.  

Sift the flour into a bowl along with the cream of tartar, soda and a pinch of salt.  Cut the butter into small cubes and drop it into the flour mixture.  Rub it into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips until it resembles fine bread crumbs.   Stir in the coconut, lime zest and blueberries.    

Whisk together the milks and juice of the lime.  Pour this into the flour mixture and stir with a round bladed knife just to combine.  Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly, just to bring the dough together.   Shape into an 8 inch round about 1 1/2 inch thick.   Place onto the baking tray.  Brush the top with the egg yolk.   Mix the coconut and sugar for the finishing together and sprinkle over the top.  Using a very sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges.   Gently push apart on the baking sheet, leaving space between each.    

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes until risen and golden brown.  Serve warm and split along with some blueberry jam or lemon curd and cream (If desired)   Delicious!  

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These were the perfect excuse to crack open this new tea from Tetley . . . Biscuit flavoured Tea.   I don't drink tea myself, but I did have a good whiff of this and it definitely smelled a lot like a biscuit.  Very sweet and vanilla-ee biscuit-ee . . . I have a friend who does drink tea and she had a cup and declared it gorgeous.   Who am I to quibble.

Want to enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures of biscuit-tea dunking but without the calorie concerns or biscuit crumbs left floating in your cup? Well look no further. One of the UK’s most famous tea brands is launching the first-ever biscuit flavoured tea. Those clever Tea Folk at Tetley have devised a new brew that not only tastes like your favourite biscuit but it’s also been created to save you having to do any dunking at all.


Well let’s look at the stats!
  • The team at Tetley believes that as many as three quarters of their tea drinkers enjoy a biscuit with their brew
  • There are 36 million cups of Tetley drunk every day
  • So that’s 27 million biscuits dunked per day
  • There are 54 calories in the average biscuit
  • So without the need for that cheeky biscuit, the new Tetley Biscuit Flavoured Tea provides a saving of 1.4 billion calories
  • That’s enough calories to run 561,000 London marathons!  

And what if we focus just on the crumbs?

  • Based on 36 million cups of Tetley drunk a day and 27 million biscuits a day dunked
  • And if the average biscuit is dunked three times and drops 8 crumbs per dunk
  • That’s 216 million crumbs saved a day through no dunking
  • And if the average crumb is 2 mm big, that’s enough crumbs, if put on top of each other, to reach the height of 50 Mount Everests
  • Now that’s lot of crumbs saved from being lost at the bottom of a cup of tea

Surely those stats alone are worth giving up the dunks for?
Tetley Marketing Director, Amy Holdsworth said:  "We know that the average Tetley drinker loves dunkin' a nice biscuit in their cuppa.   That's why we came up with the idea of combining the two.  Who doesn't like their life to be that little bit easier?

Who indeed? 
Marie Rayner
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Gingerbread, White Chocolate Chip and Raspberry Jam Sandwich Cookies

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I have to say . . . I am awfully fond of the flavours of gingerbread . . . those warm baking spices . . .  ginger, cinnamon, cloves . . . and molasses, thick and sweet.   Oh so good.

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I'm also awfully fond of jam, I admit . . . but then you already knew that.    It doesn't matter which kind, I'm not overly fussed, although I do quite like strawberry and raspberry jams . . .  raspberry jam in particular has a great affinity for gingerbread flavours.   Trust me.  Tis true.

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And when that gingerbread comes in the form of big SOFT sugary cookies, stogged full of white chocolate chips . . . and layered together in pairs with raspberry jam . . .  well, I am also pretty AWFULLY fond of that!

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I cannot think of anyone that wouldn't fall in love with these delightfully delicious cookies.   These are truly what I would call "Moreish."  Scrummy even . . .  not to belabor a point.

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Add to the mix a nice glass of ice cold milk and . . .  well . . .  it's just heavenly bliss.  There is no other way to describe the experience.   Winners all round.  If you love gingerbread, and you love jam, and you love white chocolate and cookies and milk . . .  you will positively ADORE these tasty little babies.  I'd stake my reputation on that.  I really would.  Make sure you bring your appetites.  These are hefty little delights!

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*Gingerbread, White Chocolate Chip and Jam Sandwich Cookies*
Makes 12 large double cookies
Yes, you HAVE died and gone to Heaven.   Soft gingerbread cookies, filled with white chocolate chips and sandwiched together with raspberry jam.  What's not to like?

170g of butter at room temperature (3/4 cup, or 6 ounces in weight)
190g of granulated sugar (1 cup)
1 medium free range egg, plus 1 egg yolk
30ml of dark treacle, combined with 30ml of golden syrup  (1/4 cup molasses)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
325g of plain flour (2 1/4 cups)
265g of white chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups)
additional granulated sugar for rolling
raspberry jam for fillng

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Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.   Line several large baking sheets with baking paper set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and egg yolk to combine.  Beat in the treacle mixture.  Sift the flour, spices, soda and salt together.   Stir this into the wet mixture until aough comes together.  Stir in chocolate chips.   

Roll into 2 inch in diameter balls.  Roll the balls in granulated sugar.  Place at least 2 to 3 inches apart on the baking sheets.    Bake in the preheated oven for 11 minutes, until the edges are turning golden brown. Allow to stand on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before scooping onto wire racks to finish cooling completely. 

Once they are completely cold, sandwich together in pairs with raspberry jam.   Delicious.
Store in an airtight container.
Marie Rayner
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Herb Grilled Chicken Salad and the Perfect Steak Rub

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I know I am always saying this, but it's true.  I get sent the nicest things to try out.  I am a very lucky woman.  The Toddster's a lucky man as well because he gets to enjoy the fruits of my labors!

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I was recently sent the Tefal OptiGrill and I have really enjoyed putting it through it's paces over this past week.  Designed for indoor use the Tefal OptiGrill promises superb grilling results from rare to well-done with just the push of a button, with an automatic sensor which notes the thickness of the food and a colour coded cooking level indicator.

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Key features include:

  • Six cooking programs – Burgers, poultry, bacon, sausages, red meat and fish 
  • Two special modes – Defrost and manual 
  • Unique colour changing LED screen on the handle for checking cooking progress
  • Non-stick coated cooking surfaces
  • 7 degree plate inclination for easy fat release 
  • Extra large plates and juice tray 
  • Dishwasher safe 
  • Brushed silver Heavy duty handle    
The Tefal OptiGrill takes all the stress of cooking the perfect piece of meat every time. Whilst it may have taken Tefal seven years to perfect the OptiGrill the waiting has not been in vain. The clear colour-changing LED display informs you every step of the way. From pre-heating, start of cooking (searing phase) through to rare, medium and well done, depending on what you are cooking.

After switching on you simply select the cooking program for your relevant meat, for example, steak would come under red meat. Press OK and you will see the LED display turn to flashing purple to indicate that it is warming up. It takes approximately 5 minutes to warm up and once ready the alarm tone will sound, along with the LED display turning to a steady purple.

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It's very easy to set up, just take it out of the box, clean the plates prior to using for the first time, slip in the drip tray and plug it in!  I decided to cook steaks for my first use of it.

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Once you have added your steak the LED display turns from purple to blue and the searing stage begins. The Optigrill is at it’s highest temperature at this point to sear the meat and lock in the flavour and juices. With no oil necessary it makes enjoying your favourite meat that little bit more healthy. The alarm tone will sound once again to indicate that searing has finished and it is now cooking the steak to rare. Once the LED display has turned yellow the alarm will sound again to indicate your rare steak is now ready to be removed from the grill. For a medium steak leave the steak on the grill until the LED display has turned orange and the alarm sounds once again. For a well-done steak leave again until the LED display has turned red and the alarm sounds once more.

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We like our steaks on the rare side and that can be really difficult to achieve sometimes, but using this grill, we ended up with steaks that were perfectly done just to the way we wanted them!  And it didn't take any time at all hardly.  We were well pleased!

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I had created a delicious rub to put onto the steaks prior to cooking them.  My friend Lura often sends me a meat rub that she gets at a Ranch in Wyoming.  It's so good and we really like it.  I ran out of it now though and so I tried my best to recreate it.  I have to say I came pretty close.  It was delicious!

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 *Perfect Steak Rub*
Makes about 1 cup 

My friend Lura always sends me this fabulous meat rub that she gets on a ranch out in Wyoming.   It's delicious.  I can't get it over here and so I have come up with a similar one that I can make on my own for those times when I don't have any of the American one left.  It's fabulous!    

100g of soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
28g of sweet paprika (1/4 cup)
4 TBS coarse salt
3 TBS coarse pepper
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp celery seed, crushed lightly
2 tsp coriander seed, crushed lightly
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes  

Mix all of the ingredients together well.  Store in an airtight container.   Rub as desired over your steaks or meat and allow the meat to stand for about an hour prior to grilling.  
Note:  I use a mortar and pestle to crush the seeds.  

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Next I tried some chicken breasts.  Back home I used to marinate my chicken breasts for a couple of hours in Italian Salad Dressing before grilling them.  I didn't have any of this the other day and so I created an herb rub/marinade for them.

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I love grilled chicken salads.   Todd's not so fussed, but he eats them any ways.  I usually add some crusty bread or a baked potato in addition to the salad for him.  

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Chicken breasts are one of those meats that it is really easy to over cook, and there is nothing more unpalatable or blah than an overcooked, dried out chicken breast.  There is no saving it really.

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Once again the Tefal OptiGrill performed to perfection, delivering exactly what it promised.   Moist, perfectly grilled chicken that we both enjoyed very much.

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*Herb Marinated Chicken Breasts*
Serves 6

A delicious marinade that ensures tender chicken breasts every time.  I often use this recipe to create grilled chicken for Salads.  

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 TBS chopped fresh basil leaves
2 TBS chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
the finely grated zest of one lemon
the juice of half a lemon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
110 ml of olive oil (1/2 cup)
2 1/2 pounds of bonless, skinless chicken breasts  

Combine all the herbs, garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper and oil in a large zip lock bag.   Add the chicken breasts and turn them in it to coat, massaging lightly.  Place into the refrigerator and chill from half an hour to an hour and a half.  Obviously the longer you marinate them, the more flavours they will absorb. 

After marinating remove the chicken from the fridge.   Remove from the bag and dispose of the marinade.   Heat the grill or broiler and cook the chicken breasts for 6 to 7 minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside, and the juices run clear.    

For the dressing on the salad I made a lovely creamy spiced dressing, which goes very well on chicken salads, or a hearty cobb salad, etc.

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*Creamy Spiced Salad Dressing* 
Makes about 2 cups
Printable Recipe

This is a delicious dressing that I often use for salads that I am using meats or chicken in. It's spicy and delicious.

220g of good quality mayonnaise (1 cup)
80ml of milk (1/3 cup)
80mof buttermilk (1/3 cup)
1 tsp dried coriander leaves
1 TBS fresh lime juice
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp salt 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Place all ingredients in a very large jar and shake together until well combined. Chill for several hours to allow the flavours to meld before using. Shake again prior to using.

The OptiGrill it is not just for cooking steaks and chicken.   There are many other foods you can grill in it  and enjoy. This morning I enjoyed a lovely bacon roll, cooked using the OptiGrill, which for the UK versions of the grill includes a bacon cooking program.

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We like our bacon crispy, and so I simply left it on the OptiGrill until the well-done alarm sounded.

Over the years, we have  had several different cooking grills, some more successful than others but one common problem faced with one in particular, was cleaning.  To be honest it's been a real pain, and the only way you can get it cleaned effectively is to leave it switched on whilst you are wiping it with a wet sponge. (A dangerous proposition at best!)

One of the best features of the OptiGrill, in my opinion,  is that (with it coming from Tefal)  it has the fantastic non-stick coating we have all come to know and love.  This makes for very little cooked on debris, and any that you might get is very easy to just wipe off with some paper kitchen towelling.  For a deeper clean, you leave plates to cool for at least an hour after cooking, press the button to the left hand side of the plates, remove and either place in the dishwasher or the washing up bowl.   Win/win!  (Yes, I am rather lazy I am afraid and I love that I can just pop the grill plates off and put them into the dishwasher along with the plastic grease catcher.)  The rest of the grill can simply be wiped off with a damp cloth.
RRP £129.99 which is slightly more than you would pay for some other brands, however they do not contain the technology and sheer easy of use as the Tefal OptiGrill.  In my opinion this grill is more than worth any extra money paid.  In fact, I think we're going to be getting an awful lot of use from this fabulous machind.

For stockist information please see  

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Although I was sent this grill for free to try out and use, any and all opinions are my own.  I would never recommend to you, my cherished readers anything that I would not use and love myself.   I give the Tefal OptiGrill a hearty TWO THUMBS UP!  Many thanks to Tefal for sending it to me.

Marie Rayner
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