Sunday 30 October 2016

Death By Chocolate Dipping Sauces

There comes a time in the year when the weather gets a little chillier, the nights draw in and all of a sudden our minds automagically switch to hybernation mode and food that was once a no-no during the glorious summer months seems just a tad inviting. Of course, it doesn't help that the autumnal food favourites are out in full force and National Chocolate Week has done a little bit more than just pique our interests in the sweet stuff. So, why give in? If we're programmed to eat a little bit more than usual during the autumn and winter months, then I say 'indulge' - and enjoy it.

Just to encourage you even more, I've created three mouthwatering 'Death by Chocolate' dipping sauces to have with your favourite fruits or, even better, your favourite biscuits. Thomas J Fudge's iconic Florentines may already be covered in chocolate, but they're the perfect companion to a sweet dipping sauce. Find your favourite flavours in Waitrose or Tesco, and make yourself a cheeky little dip with these easy-to-follow recipes.

Ginger and Orange Chocolate Dipping Sauce


40g The Grenada Chocolate Company Organic Dark Chocolate
3 tbsp single cream
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Valencian orange extract
1 tsp mixed dried fruit to garnish


1. Place the chocolate in a bain marie and agitate with a spoon until melted. Add in the cream and mix until shiny and runny. Pour into a ramekin or small bowl.

2. Stir in the ground ginger and Valencian orange extract.

3. Garnish with the dried fruit.

Raspberry and Vanilla Chocolate Dipping Sauce


40g The Grenada Chocolate Company Organic Dark Chocolate
3 tbsp single cream
100g raspberries
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Repeat the first step above.

2. Push the raspberries through a sieve to remove excess juice, then stir into the chocolate.

3. Stir in the vanilla extract and garnish the chocolate with a single raspberry.

 Caramel and Popping Candy Chocolate Dipping Sauce


40g The Grenada Company Salted Dark Chocolate
3 tbsp single cream
2.5 tsps popping candy
2 tsps caramel syrup


1. Repeat the first step above.

2. Stir in two tsps popping candy and the caramel syrup.

3. Garnish with the rest of the popping candy.


Wednesday 12 October 2016

Golden Oreo Rice Pudding

Golden Oreos are, to me, a bit like glorified Custard Creams. They just don't have the creamy, chocolately texture of the original Oreo, nor do they look particularly interesting. Unlike regular Oreos, I have to enjoy these with a cup of tea or, like this recipe states, as an addition to a pudding dish. 

Now that we're firmly in the beautiful season of autumn, and winter is just around the corner, a hot and creamy rice pudding is a wonderful thing to indulge in on a cold evening whilst you're on the sofa watching Bake Off (or similar). You can customise a rice pudding any way you like; you can make it healthy(ish) with peaches and honey, or go super chocolately with Nutella, or you can sit somewhere in the middle with cinnamon and maple syrup. This recipe includes the two latter ingredients, but with the addition of Golden Oreos just to make it a little bit more fun.

- 100g pudding rice
- 30g sugar
- 600ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 6 Golden Oreos
- 1 tsp cinnamon


1. Preheat the over to 150C/fan 130C/gas mark 2.

2. Wash the rice and drain.

3. Butter a baking dish. Tip in the rice and sugar and stir in the milk, maple syrup and cinnamon.

5. Cook for 1.5 hours.

6. Take the rice pudding out of the oven. Break the Oreos into pieces and distribute them throughout the pudding.

7. Place in the over for a further half hour.


Friday 7 October 2016

My Plants Are More Carnivorous Than Me

“Animals are my friends...and I don't eat my friends.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Just a few weeks ago, my partner and I were furniture shopping at Ikea when we came upon the plant section. Me being me and having a quirky (one would hope for it to be seen as this and not 'weird' or 'worrying') obsession with exotic plants, I whisked our trolley straight to the cactus stand. Admiring the array of different succulents, with their varying shapes and colours, I spotted a dionaea muscipula, or, Venus Fly Trap, sitting modest and unassuming next to its prickly and flamboyant friends; its little green mouths lay open, spring-loaded, teeth jagged and at the ready, laying in wait to catch its prey. 

I was intrigued by the peculiarity of this plant and, needless to say, it ended up in my basket. I took it home, placed it on a sun-drenched windowsill, and named it 'The Minions' thinking it would be a nice break from the racial stereotyping of my cacti: Juan, José, Jésus and Carlos. After a few days, I noticed that The Minions were beginning to look a bit sorry for themselves. I checked the level of water in the drip tray and, though it could have done with a tiny top up, I was indeed providing my plant with ample hydration. So, in typical millennial fashion, I Googled. 

After around twenty minutes of browsing, my eyes had been opened. I had previously believed that, as seen in cartoons, my dionaea would entrap flies with a swift snap-shut of its toothy pods and become as self-sustaining and low maintenance as my beloved succulent collection. Needless to say, I was wrong.

Venus Fly Traps require plenty of water to be topped up every couple of days, PLUS regular feeding. And by feeding, I mean live insects or rehydrated blood worms. A further Google told me I could get the latter at my local pet store, as there was no way I'd be able to stand there watching live insects squirm and die as they're devoured by my plant. That's a little too sadistic for me. So along to the pet store I went, and picked up a sachet of dried blood worms. I brought the sachet home, tipped a pinchful into a small tray, and poured a little water on top.

Swishing the water over the blood worms, they began to rehydrate and looked liked small brown jelly worms (yes, this really is as gross as it sounds). I took two toothpicks, and began feeding the worms to The Minions, each pod snapping shut, securing its meal, ready to begin the five-or-so-day-long digestion process that fuels its growth.

Excited, fascinated and a little bit nauseous, I stood back and admired my Minions like a mother would admire a child who had just eaten all their vegetables. Then, suddenly, it dawned on me. I just fed my plants what were once living creatures, whereas I am a vegetarian and have sworn never to eat meat again. I didn't know whether to laugh or give myself a slap on the wrist for not putting two and two together, but either way it unsettled me.

So it transpires that, yes, my plants are more carnivorous than me, and the act of feeding them goes against my reasoning as a vegetarian. Can you see how this makes me feel a little awkward? On the other hand, starving a plant to death because of my own beliefs sounds equally morbid.


I'm hoping the problem will go away by itself. Dionaeas are particularly difficult to maintain, and it wouldn't be the worst thing if The Minions became ill due to my lack of skill, or if a 'strong October breeze' tipped the pot off the windowsill and onto the concrete floor below. Yes, I'm a terrible plant mother. But the one thing I'm sure of is that I don't want to be a terrible vegetarian. It's all or nothing!

I guess I've answered my own question: the plant must go! But before I finish this post, I want to ask my merciful readers, 'what would you do?'. Do you think I'm being irrational here? Or do you think I should practice my vegetarianism to its full extent?
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