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This week, we’re very excited to have Stuart Heritage (of Luv & Hat fame) as our guest blogger; especially as he is now a proper foodie with his own food blog and everything. Personally, we think that trumps the small fact that he writes for The Guardian.

So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to the very capable creator of the world’s most distressing gingerbread men…

If one thing characterised the summer of 2012, it was the gingerbread man. To mark the Queen’s jubilee, Sainsbury’s launched Mr & Mrs Jubilee – a pair of upsettingly malformed, boggle-eyed, jizzy-looking gingerbread arseholes. Then, for the Olympics, Sainsbury’s launched Mr & Mrs Sport – the same malformed, boggle-eyed, jizzy-looking gingerbread arseholes as before, but wearing medals. They made me proud to be British.

So, to continue the golden spirit of the summer, I decided to make my own gingerbread men. And because I made them, they’d obviously be much better than anything those supermarket dicks could come up with. Right?


STEP ONE – Combine a load of gingerbread ingredients (like these) in a bowl. Decide that you don’t actually want to make 20 gingerbread men, so half all the quantities. End up putting way too much of some stuff and way too little of other stuff in because maths has never been your strong point. Dump it all onto some clingfilm.

STEP TWO – Roll the dough out until it’s the same thickness as a pound coin. Put in the fridge and plan to leave for two hours. Get bored after ten minutes and remove from the fridge.

STEP THREE – Realise that you don’t actually own a gingerbread man cutter. Attempt to cut the shape of a gingerbread man out of the dough with a knife. Fail hopelessly because you messed up the quantities of the ingredients and the dough’s still warm. This wouldn’t have happened if you’d just followed the instructions. But oh no, you think you’re better than that, don’t you?

STEP FOUR – Instead, just kind of hamfistedly fling a load of gingerbread men together limb by limb like some sort of awful surgeon who wasn’t hugged enough as a child or whatever. Do your best to ignore the fact that they look like little shiny poos because you’ll have to eat them soon. Bake at 180 C for ten minutes.

STEP FIVE – Forget that the gingerbread men will spread out in the oven. Stare at your wodge of mangled gingerbread for a couple of minutes, realise that you shouldn’t have taken the piss out of Sainsbury’s as much as you did because gingerbread men are actually quite hard. Briefly toy with the idea of inventing the gingerbread human centipede. Remember that you’re writing this as a guest post and that you should be on your best behaviour. Cut them apart with a knife.

STEP SIX – After spending about 20 minutes working out where the head is, ice sad faces on your pathetic mangled gingerbread stumps, and give them Smarties for buttons. Even though they don’t have hands. Or any discernible limbs to speak of. Maybe they’ve got a helper who does their buttons up or something. Look, shut up.

STEP SEVEN – Repeat for as many gingerbread men as you’ve made.

STEP EIGHT – Apologise to the readers of Kitchen Bitching, who are probably used to a better standard of cook than you, you jumped-up bimbo.

Recreating My Mum’s Kitchen Disasters: Fish Flan

When I was at primary school in the 1980s, my mum was our school secretary.  This had some definite disadvantages for my brother and I:  we had to sit in the library for an hour after our friends had gone home every day while we waited for her to finish work, every time we got in trouble with a teacher, she knew about it straight away, resulting in an instant second bollocking for us, and – worst of all – she used to get meal ideas from the school cook.  We not only had to suffer school dinners at school, we had them at home too.  Feel my childhood pain.

Savoury Mince Crumble was one of her favourite school dinners to recreate (bleughhh).  Cheese Aigrettes were another speciality (these are essentially big balls of lard covered in breadcrumbs).  But the meal which never failed to send my brother and I into competitive, twitching retching fits on the floor was Fish Flan.

If my memory serves me correctly, Fish Flan used to stink like a slightly sulphurous seabed while it was cooking and tasted exactly as though something had crawled into a quiche and died.  Tastes change though, right? So, for my debut Kitchen Bitching post, I decided to recreate it in all its glory to see if it was really as bad as I remembered.  I emailed my mum and asked her for the recipe.  “Huh, I knew you liked it really,” she replied.  No Mother, I just want to mock it on the internet.  Transcript of the recipe coming up, my notes in italics.:

6oz plain flour
3oz marg
1.5 tbs water
(the above should be used to make pastry) – No shit, Sherlock. If anyone can make anything different out of those 3 ingredients, please let me know.

1 small onion
1 tin of tuna
2 eggs
quarter of a pint of milk
salt and pepper

Make pastry, line flan dish (I eventually located a flan dish at the bottom of the cupboard. It almost certainly doesn’t belong to me. Mysterious) and bake blind at 190 degrees for 10-15 mins.

Well, this presents a problem.  To blind bake something you’re supposed to use those special ceramic bean things or dried pulses.  I have neither.  If any PRs want to send me some ceramic blind baking beans to review, do feel free.  Or a potato masher – we haven’t got one of those either *looks around hopefully*. So, I had to use uncooked rice and hope for the best.

Finely chop onion and flake tuna (I think ‘flake tuna’ means ’empty it out of the tin’)
Whisk eggs and milk together and add seasoning

Yuck, one of my eggs had those little blobs in it.  What is that? An embryo or a chicken period or something?  Scraped it out with a spoon so as not to vom everywhere.

When case is ready, put onion and tuna in and pour egg mixture over the top.

Well…that looks…err….

Cook for 30-40 mins.
Decorate with a cucumber.

I jest.  Here is what it really looked like when I served it up.  If I was going for the full 80s experience, I should have served it with boiled potatoes and frozen green beans, but I don’t hate my family, so I didn’t.

The Verdict:

You know what?  It really didn’t taste that bad. In fact, I will go as far as to say that it was quite pleasant really.  It could actually be made very tasty indeed by substituting salmon for the tuna and adding some chopped dill, but as a quick, easy week night dinner, it was completely acceptable. Apart from the bits of uncooked rice that I couldn’t quite hook out after blind baking the pastry – they didn’t taste so good.

I felt guilty.  I’d complained and bitched about Fish Flan for years and refused to eat more than two mouthfuls of it every time it was served throughout my childhood, and here it was proving itself to be tasty and misunderstood.  For that reason, I almost did a victory dance when my three year old son informed me that it tasted “of bums” and that he would die if he ate any of it. Phew. Vindicated.

Fish Flan:  Acceptable for adults, hell on a plate for the under 18s.

Cibo e bevande, stile italiano

Food and drink, Italian style. For a whole week. In the picturesque surroundings of Sorrento. And Amalfi. And Capri (just for good measure).

As most of you will know (and why else would I be a loyal Kitchen Bitch), I have an unashamed, unabashed, and unrelenting love of food and drink. Not all food, I grant you (being about as fussy as they come); but food excites me. I love seeing it, smelling it, tasting it, and reading about it. And the pleasure I get from perusing the menu of anywhere that I’m about to visit (or dream of visiting) is immeasurable. So, when I set my heart on Italy as this year’s holiday destination of choice, I knew I was going to be in for some treats. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I sampled the biggest meringue known to man

Pure sugar hit

Tried my first amaretto cappuccino (highly recommended)

For the love of amaretto

And sought refuge from the heat with some of Italy’s crispest beers

Oh so refreshing

The cafés of Sorrento, dotted along every narrow lane, and hidden around every winding corner, offered the perfect opportunity to simply sit and soak up the Italian culture. For me, it’s the atmosphere that makes Italy a very special place. It was the same in Rome. For anyone who is happy to sit and people-watch, Italy is the place to be.

And in the evenings, I was lucky enough to visit some truly memorable restaurants; not least of which was Sorrento’s famous Parrucchiano.

Restaurant ‘o Parrucchiano: the birthplace of cannelloni
Founded in 1868 by Antonino Ercolano — a seminarian who learnt the art of cooking in the kitchen of the local archbishop’s palace — Parrucchiano can be found nestled snugly on the Corso Italia (Sorrento’s main road). The restaurant — originally named ‘La Favourite’ — was given the nickname ‘o Parrucchiano’ by Ercolano’s friends, owing to his past vocation as a priest. And it was here that cannelloni (then called ‘Strascinati’) was born, about a hundred years ago.

Well, I wasn’t about to travel all the way to Sorrento and miss out on sampling this most popular of dishes at the place of its inception, so on my second night in the city, I got all dressed up and descended on the enchanted gardens of Parrucchiano. With lemon trees growing overheard and fairy lights all around, it was a truly magical experience. And the food definitely lived up to the hype. The pork and beef filling was so full of flavour, and the sauce tasted, well, entirely authentic. The homemade pasta was just the right texture and consistency, and the whole dish was rich and satisfying, with an oozing of authentic parmesan cheese; all washed down with a bottle of Prosecco — perfecto.

And so cannelloni was born

Unsurprisingly, I spent much of the holiday drinking Prosecco. I would say that it’s a weakness of mine, but how can indulging in bubbly ever be labelled as a weakness? But it wasn’t Prosecco alone that I became hooked on throughout the holiday; Italy’s Café Freddo (iced coffee) seriously puts Starbucks to shame.

I love iced coffee on a hot summer’s day. In all honesty, I’d love iced coffee on a snowy winter’s day; but I’m perpetually disappointed in the weak offerings of so many of the UK’s coffee shop chains. So when I sampled my first Café Freddo in Sorrento’s famous Fauno bar (founded in 1950 and considered one of Sorrento’s most important meeting points by residents and tourists alike), I took my first step on the road to a week-long love affair with this most delicious of drinks.

Satisfaction beyond words

Luckily, they’re pretty easy to make.

Café Freddo

You’ll need:

  • Espresso
  • Milk
  • Ice cubes
  • Sugar or caramel syrup (optional)

Get shaking!

  1. Make some hot espresso
  2. Mix one-third hot espresso with two-thirds cold milk
  3. Add ice and shake (preferably using a cocktail shaker)
  4. Strain into a large glass
  5. Drink whilst gazing at photos of Sorrento…

And the perfect accompaniment to a Café Freddo? The profiteroles of Amalfi of course! Dark, rich, and exquisite…they say a picture speaks a thousand words, so feast your eyes on this.


Love Dolly xx

Review: Love Your Larder

I’ve followed Love your Larder on twitter with an avid interest for some time now, and often drooled over their vast array of unique products. The site is brilliant for recipes, hints and tips, and for buying everything you’re ever likely to need to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to your daily menu. But most of all, I’ve been lusting after their Larder Boxes ever since I first stumbled across their online store.

Each month, the culinary Clusos of the larder world hunt out the most eclectic, interesting, and downright delicious titbits for the marvel of their many customers (or more aptly, consumers). Last month, my attention was piqued when reviews flooded twitter with tales of black garlic (who’d have thought it?) and chorizo (my all time favourite thing ever. Ever!) So when the lovely people over at Love your Larder said they were looking for keen food bloggers to review their next proffering, guess who jumped at the chance?

I had no idea what would be winging its way to me, but I was excited. And rightly so.

A veritable menagerie of loveliness

When my Larder box arrived through the trusty old post, I tore open the packaging with the excitement of a small person at Christmas. Oh, who am I kidding? I tore open the packaging with the excitement of ME at Christmas. And tucked neatly inside, underneath the covers of some lovingly shredded tissue paper, were the following foodie delights:

Bacon jam

(And straight away you see why we love this company). Deliciously weird, incredibly intriguing, bacon jam. Yes, that’s right: jam, made out of bacon. These are the sort of delightfully unique products you can expect from food pioneers Love your Larder. I put mine on Artisan Swedish Crispbreads (below) and cheese, and it was like a big ol’ crazy party in my mouth. The sort of party that you wake up from wondering what the hell just happened. In a good way. But I think the jam is actually best on hunky chunky beef burgers, so I’ll be trying that one out at my next BBQ!

Bacon + jam = genius!

White truffle oil

 I’ve always been intrigued by truffle oil. It’s expensive. Chefs talk about it an awful lot. And they use pigs to sniff it out (truffles, that is; I don’t think they’re trained to search out ready made bottles). I read Love Your Larder’s recommendations on what to serve the oil with (yes, they even give you a handy little print out that explains what’s in you Larder Box, where it came from, and how to use it — marvellous!) and whipped up a simple vegetable pasta accordingly. I drizzled a little truffle oil over my Italian feast, and soaked up its punchy aroma. I can only describe the experience as a taste revelation, and thank the Larder gurus for finally cluing me up on what all of the fuss is about.

Truffley pasta love

Handmade peanut butter and sea salt fudge

Oh. My. God. Where to start. I nearly died of excitement when I pulled this out of the box, and it didn’t let me down. The fudge was crumbly, smelt amazing, and tasted incredible. It’s exceedingly rich so it lasts ages as you only need a little bit before running for cover from the blocked arteries chasing you around the kitchen. The sea salt adds a completely unique flavour and cuts through the sweetness, and once again, it’s a taste I probably would never have sampled without the pickings of the Larder team.

Artisan Swedish Crispbread

I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment (yes I know that’s laughable after extolling the virtues of peanut butter fudge), so I was mightily relieved when I pulled something out of the box that looked relatively healthy; although I’ll admit that I was suspicious about whether or not the crispbreads would actually cut the mustard when it came to the taste test — but I needn’t have been concerned (yippee!) It seems that Love Your Larder can do no wrong: not only did they bring me naughty treats aplenty; they also gave me a vehicle for my bacon jam, and the illusion of health! And then they brought me something to wash it all down with…

Clipper tea

I don’t actually drink tea (unless it’s got jasmine flowers or liquorice and peppermint in it), so I brewed up one of these fair-trade teabags for my old man and he LOVED it. He’s quite a tea connoisseur (he likes to think he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the hot stuff), and gave this tea his full seal of approval. Apparently it was “smooth” and “refreshing” for an everyday tea, and went perfectly with the fudge (can you believe I shared a piece??) 

Perfect afternoon treat

So all in all, my Larder box was a resounding success. I loved not knowing what to expect when I opened the mysterious parcel, and was delighted with the unique products inside. I especially liked the fact that the contents weren’t the sort of things I would have chosen for myself. And that’s the beauty of the Larder box. It takes you out of your culinary comfort zone and pushes you to try flavours that you didn’t even know you liked. A food lottery, if you will.

So I urge you all to sign up for your own monthly Larder Box. Or at the very least, visit the site and search their range of eclectic goodies. Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.


Dolly xx

Alec Tomasso’s toad-in-the-hole with port and onion gravy

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Last time Alec of Mastechef fame shared a recipe with us, it was for a beautiful and very unusual Jubilee cake. Today he’s going a bit more traditional and making everyone’s favourite — toad in the hole! However he’s spicing it up with some frankly delicious port and onion gravy. Without any further rabbiting on from me, here’s the recipes…

Toad-in-the-hole with port & onion gravy

For the gravy

  • Lots of onions (I prefer red ones)
  • Pint of stock (I use a jelly stock pot as stock cubes are too salty)
  • Port
  • Oil
  • Cornflour
For the toad-in-the-hole

  • 4 of your favourite sausages
  • 2 eggs
  • 70g flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100ml milk

Everyone likes Toad-in-the-Hole — although not everyone’s is as posh as Alec’s!

Get cooking!

1. Peel and chop (julienne – here’s how) a mountain of onions. Then wash your hands and like, the song says, dry your eyes mate!

2. Put said onions in a non-stick pot or pan with lid with a glug of oil and a pinch of salt. Pop the lid on and sweat (I start with high heat lid on without stirring and when I get caramelisation I turn heat down stir and lid back on to sweat away)

3. Preheat oven to 200C. Once the oven is hot, heat a frying pan with the heaviest base you have to searing hot. Quickly brown the sausage on all sides. Then cover the base of a loaf tin with oil, add the sausages and pop it in the oven

4. Whisk the eggs with the flour and salt until you get a nice paste — this takes at least a minute with an electric whisk set on high. Whilst still whisking, pour in the milk.

5. Take the hot tin out of the oven. You can file this tip under “Sucking eggs”, but don’t leave the door open too long as you need the inside of the oven to be very hot. Turn the sausages, pour over the batter and quickly put it back in the oven. Leave to bake for 40 minutes.

6. Do not open the oven whilst it’s baking — the oven needs to stay really, really hot!

7. Once onions are soft and sweet and yummy, set aside in a bowl or plate. Put the pan back on high heat and when hot add 50-100ml of port (this should bubble fiercely) and flame it.

8. Once flames go out, put the onion back in and stir in. Add your stock, adding 1/2 tbsp of cornflour dissolved in cold water, and reduce to a rich and yummylicious gravy

9. Serve the toad-in-the-hole with the gravy poured over the top

If you like, you could serve this with vegetable crisps — peel carrots, parsnips, potatoes and beetroot and slice with a mandolin to make thin ribbons. Deep fry at 160 until coloured. It’s certainly an original way to have a Sunday lunch!

Review: Annie’s, White Hart Lane, Barnes, London

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Being relatively new to London, I’m still actively looking for places to eat that are going to make my tastebuds tingle and my tummy happy. I’ve eaten in loads of lovely places in my few weeks here, but I’m still looking for something that’s a little bit special. So when I received an invitation to a “home-from-home neighbourhood gem with a penchant for serving good food, generous portions and taking care of people” I wasn’t exactly going to say no…

Screengrabbed from Google Street View…I forgot to take a photo!

This is Annie’s. I visited the one in Barnes, but there’s another in Chiswick. It looks quiet and unassuming from the inside, but go inside and you’re met with romantic lighting, cost chairs and big, beautiful bouquets of flowers. Quite frankly, it’s what I want my house to look like.

Ashley, our co-diners and I were greeted warmly and sat at a table in the corner. We were then given one of their signature Blush Royale cocktails — champagne, rose syrup and crystallised rose petals. It tasted like Turkish Delight, and it was delicious.

Not so delicious, however, as the food. And it’s at this point the review is going to descend into food pornography, because there’s quite frankly nothing I can say that will match up to this beautiful, beautiful menu.

There were three choice for starters. Grilled Halloumi, roast squash, fig and caramelised shallot salad…


…or spicy squid with wasabi mayonnaise…


or duck and watermelon salad.

This is what I had. It was AMAZING.

Main courses were either Annie’s posh chicken kebab with salad, olives, guacamole and chilli sauce…

Looks as good as it tastes

…or battered haddock and chips, lemon Tartare and petits pos…

More of a whale than a fish

…or char grilled lamb gigot with new potatoes, minted peas, broad beans and lemon ailoi.

The two of us who had this just didn’t talk until we were finished; it was too good to stop eating.

And finally comes…dessert. We had to wait a while before ordering (those portions sizes are ENORMOUS) but they were worth the wait. The desserts were a pecan brownie with white chocolate ice-cream…

So good. So, so good.

…Annie’s Banoffee Pie, which was apparently the best banoffee pie they’d ever tried…

The KING of Banoffee

or a passionfruit crème brûlée with biscotti.


I could say more, but I think the photos of the food is more than enough to show this place off. Really, Annie’s is the special place I’ve been looking for. I thoroughly recommend them. If you want to know more, you can check out the website or contact them on Twitter.

Love, Hells Bells x

When biscuits turn to brownies

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At the last AWOT event, we met the absolutely wonderful Rachel Scotland. She’s apparently a big fan of Kitchen Bitching (Excuse me, it’s difficult to type whilst my head grows so much….there we go, stopped now) and when we invited her to submit a bitch she was more than happy to oblige.

“Ever since I was fourteen I’ve been trying to impress people with my cooking. Currently this involves inviting people to my home and trying to persuade them that I can ‘make their house a home’ by filing it with the smell of freshly baked bread or warm biscuits. The problem is that boxes of ready-mixed brownies and frozen cookie dough have been my cavalry in the battle to win peoples hearts and one gets bored of the limited variety of easily-fakeable prepackaged baked goods.

Mmmmm brownie!

This week I tried to make Brown Sugar Shortbread from The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook. (I know, I’m a geek. Let’s move on.) The book describes “a sturdy. molasses-y cookie”. You know what I got? I got a spicy-tasting brownie.

The recipe is as follows, and I followed it to the letter:

  • ½ Cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

So why did it go so wrong?

Did the moment when I got distracted and accidentally added flour before eggs really result in such a huge textural difference?”

Can anyone help? Why did this biscuit turn into a brownie?


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