Archive for August, 2015

Yoghurt, Raspberries With Granola For Breakfast

Friday, August 28th, 2015
Yoghurt with Raspberries and Granola

Yoghurt with Raspberries and Granola

This summer I’ve been having Yoghurt, Raspberries and Granola for breakfast rather than smoothies.  This is what it says in the tin, i.e. fresh raspberries, yoghurt and then some home-made granola sprinkled over the top.  I guess I am trying to pretend it’s a real summertime despite the massive thunderstorm and the rain chucking it down outside.

This home-made oats-based granola is definitely not my idea – Poppy found it on Lily Pebbles blog, which in turn was based on the topping for Ella Woodward’s “Apple and Blackberry Crumble”.  We have made two versions – one using maple syrup, the other with coconut nectar as well as coconut oil, so the latter has a delicious coconuttiness to it.

You could use this granola on muesli or sprinkled through a fruit pudding or even a salad.

Both versions are quick and easy, tasting so much better than anything shop bought.  And there’s the added bonus that your house smells of lovely sweet cinnamon after the bake.

Two types of home-made granola  - coconut nectar (front) and maple syrup (kilner jar)

Two types of home-made granola – coconut nectar (front) and maple syrup (kilner jar)

Recipe for Homemade Granola per Lily Pebbles

150g or 1 cup organic ground almonds (or use whole, then grind to a coarse and crunchy grain)
180g or 1½ cups jumbo oats
3 tbsp organic maple syrup, or organic coconut nectar
1 tbsp organic Fairtrade cinnamon
2 tbsp organic coconut oil

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Combine the cinnamon powder, coconut oil and syrup in a small pan, then gently heat to melt and stir together.

3. Put the jumbo oats and ground almonds in a mixing bowl.  Pour over the flavoured coconut oil and thoroughly mix and coat the ingredients together.

4. Tip onto a baking tray and spread out.

5. Put into the oven and bake for around 20 minutes.  Start checking from about 16 minutes as it can catch and burn as I found out with the coconut nectar version the first time I made it.

6. Let your homemade almonds oat granola cool, then store in a jar.  You might need to break up the clumps, but we quite like them chunky.

Steenbergs Spice Taster Panel: organic Garam Masala & Madras Curry

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Recently our taster panel had the joy of trying out 2 different spice blends: Madras Curry and Garam Masala.    Curries are very popular in British homes and Steenbergs aims to create authentic yet versatile curry blends to make enjoying Indian cuisine deliciously easy.

madras-curry-powder-organic-curry-blendMadras Curry is a medium hot curry powder, blended to be used as an everyday spice mix. The core elements to Steenbergs Organic Madras Curry Powder are the sweet spices of cinnamon; pungent spices such as cloves, cardamom and cumin to add a depth of character; Indian chilli and organic fenugreek; Keralan organic black pepper and Sri Lankan organic ginger to give it some bite. These almost conflicting flavours are melded together by amalgamating spices – organic fennel seeds, organic coriander seeds and organic turmeric (which also gives it a characteristic yellow colour).  At Steenbergs, we then add a little powdered organic garlic and organic onion to increase the versatility of the curry mix.

Our taster panel excelled themselves in finding different uses for the curry powder, adding it not only to traditional curries, but using it as a meat rub; on roast chicken; in a root soup; in homemade beans; in chilli con carne; in kedgeree; even on popcorn!  We loved the sound of the ‘chicken curry with wild spring garlic’, adding it to ‘fried red onions with kidney beans’ and the delicious list of curries including aubergine, chicken, beef, lamb, prawn, balti style, fish, and cauliflower & potato.

89% of our tasters would use this blend again and the same number would recommend it to a friend.  Many of them think it’s a great ‘store cupboard staple’ and pleasingly one taster commented that ‘it knocks the socks off bog-standard curry powders’.  A few of our tasters will even be using it as their secret curry ingredient going forward!

Interestingly half of our panel don’t normally use spice blends, preferring to make up their own using individual spices.  Here at Steenbergs we have all of the single spices for our customers to experiment and make their own blends but sometimes a quick and easy blend is just what is needed!

Madras curry

Descriptions for Madras Curry colour & aroma

garam-masala-organic-curry-spice-blendGaram Masala is a staple Indian spice blend used widely in Indian cooking. Steenbergs Organic Garam Masala comprises the sweet spice – cinnamon – and the pungent spices – caraway, cloves and cardamom powder.  At Steenbergs we add some wonderful organic black pepper from organic growers in the Palghat region of Kerala in India to give it some bite. Then Axel Steenberg has used organic fennel seeds to bring the flavours together and add some anise tones to the blend.

It is a very versatile blend as shown by the wide variety of uses that our taster panel put it to.  Whether it was sprinkled on beef & fish curry a few minutes before serving; to spice up pea & potato croquettes; in dhal; on scrambled eggs served with Arbroath smokies; to make a salad more interesting; Indian roast vegetables or on Hugh Fearnley Whittingstal’s sausage & parsnips, it shows how popular it was.  We love the sound of the ‘roast butter garam masala chicken’ and the ‘marinated chicken breast with yoghurt & pepper’.

One of our panel adds it to sweet potatoes before baking and enjoys the faces of her guests thinking ‘I can taste some extra flavours but not sure what she’s added!’

A well known spice to many of you, 93% of you would use the Steenbergs Garam Masala again and 89% of you would recommend it to a friend.  Many of our panel are avid curry fans, with some cooking curry at least twice a week but with the popularity of this sweet, warm and spicy blend, we hope to tempt you all to use it more often.

Descriptions for colour & aroma of Garam Masala

Top 5 tea picks – chosen by Axel Steenberg

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Axel’s top 5 tea picks – loose leaf

We (Sophie and I) both drink a lot of tea – all loose leaf and Steenbergs. We take our current favourites away with us on holiday and when we are away for the weekend. (Although depending where we are going we also may take the odd loose leaf tea infuser). What we drink varies on the day, how the day is going, the time of day and who we are with.

Axel’s top picks for tea at the moment are:

Organic English Breakfast tea – I start the morning early with a large pot of our organic and Fairtrade English Breakfast tea. It sets me up for the day

Organic Gunpowder green tea – a traditional Chinese green tea – whose leaves look like little shots of gunpowder before they are immersed in water. You only need a few grains to make a wonderfully refreshing cup of tea. I drink this for a large part of the day, along with jasmine tea.

Organic Jasmine green tea – another traditional Chinese green tea – this time flavoured with jasmine. Again, you don’t need much of the leaf to create a wonderful infusion. I can drink this all day long, along with the gunpowder tea.

Organic 1st Flush Darjeeling Puttabong tea – It’s one of the most delicious Darjeeling I’ve tasted for a couple of years and is a real treat.

Chillax infusion – a calming herbal tea we designed to dissipate life’s stresses. We developed its unique relaxing herbal blend with oatstraw, St John’s wort, lime flower, skullcap, chamomile, red clover, catnip and lemon balm. Lemon balm, oatstraw and St John’s wort lifts your flagging spirits, while the catnip, chamomile, lime, red clover and skullcap soothe those angsty nerves.

For more views on teas, look at the Steenbergs Time for Tea columns, where we talk to people about what they love most about tea. Alternatively we also have the feedback from the Steenbergs tea panels – where customers are asked for their views on different teas throughout the year.

Sophie’s summer reading

Friday, August 14th, 2015

I confess I am an avid, if eclectic reader. I do use books, not kindles or tablets, I like the satisfaction of finishing them and handing them onto friends  – if I’ve enjoyed them – and most of them end up in charity books, as our house isn’t big enough to cope with all the books I read.

This is a selection from books I’ve read this July and going into  early August. A very select few remain in the house. Here’s a selection of some of the books I’ve read this summer, it’s not exhaustive. The list is the ones that have stayed with me – in my head – as opposed to having left me the minute I finished the book.

Some of the books read by Sophie this summer.

Some of the books read by Sophie this summer.

Let me know of books you’ve enjoyed and if you’ve read any on this list what you’ve thought of them. I’m a member of two book clubs so that adds to the variety of the books. They are in no particular order, just the order I remembered them in.

The Rector’s Daughter – FM Mayor – missed opportunities
Fatherland – Robert Harris (brilliant writer, also recently read an Officer and a Spy in that one kept having to remember it was based on real life – truth was definitely stranger than fiction.
Virginia Woolf in Manhatten – Maggie Gee (concept of Virginia Woolf in 21st century New York)
Amy Snow – Tracy Rees (Richard and Judy’s first winner for finding new writers)
Kingmaker – Toby Clements – very readable novel based on the war of the roses having lived near Tewkesbury for 18 years of my life and now in Yorkshire, particular interest. 1st in a series
My Family and other Animals – Gerald Durrell – time to reread an old family favourite
2 of the Cherub series – teenage spy series, lent by our son on holiday when I’d miscalculated how many books I’d read by a factor of 3 – interesting to see what he has been reading
Rafa my story by Rafael Nadal and John Carlin (another one lent by our son)
The Architect’s apprentice –  Elif Shafak (novel based on Turkey with intrigues and power struggles by the most widely read women novelist in Turkey )
The Angels’ Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (from the author of Shadow of the Wind)
In a Summer Season – Elizabeth Taylor (never really got into this writer, but keep being lent books by her from various sources)
Dominion – CJ Sampson (similar concept to Fatherland but different result)
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown (read this as a result of a recommendation from Ximena Del Castro as part of our Time for Tea series – the importance of being vulnerable).
Nathaniel’s Nutmeg – Giles Milton (So glad that I’m a spice merchant now and not then)
Nora Webster – Colm Toibin – widow refinding herself after her husband’s death

Summer books 2015 read by Sophie

Summer books 2015 read by Sophie

We will come back to the cookery books we’ve enjoyed most this summer in a future blog.

A Walk Along A Country Lane In North Yorkshire

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Last night whilst Sophie was playing tennis with our son, Jamie, I went for a walk along the River Ure with our daughter, Poppy.  It was a beautiful evening with swallows and sand martins out in abundance and only a few others around.  The river flowed sedately past while a father and son fished at one of the fishing piers.  At Boroughbridge lock, a boat was passing through.  But I had forgotten forgot my camera.

So this morning after a bike ride, I retraced some of the walk.

Why?  Because it was amazing to realise within only a couple of miles of walking, we had passed almost all the main types of crops (barley, oats and wheat), as well as cows around and about.  But we never really think about it, because it’s all we’ve ever known.  Then  along the hedgerows, the elders were forming their berries and brambles were developing.

Wheat Field

Wheat Field

Close Up of Wheat

Close Up of Wheat

Barley Field In North Yorkshire

Barley Field In North Yorkshire

Close Up Of Barley

Close Up Of Barley

Field Of Oats

Field Of Oats

Close Up Of Oats

Close Up Of Oats

Potato Field With Cows in Distance

Potato Field With Cows in Distance

Elderberries Beginning To Develop

Elderberries Beginning To Develop

Recipe For Fragrant Rose Rice Pudding or Rose Kheer

Friday, August 7th, 2015
Rose Rice Pudding With Raspberries

Rose Rice Pudding With Raspberries

I have recently finished reading “The Architect’s Apprentice” by Elif Shafak, starting while on our holidays in Portugal.  It is a lovely read about unrequited and so a forlorn love between a lowly architect’s apprentice and the Sultan’s daughter,  It’s slightly magical, but with a far fetched end that sees Jahan, the main character, living a very long life to stretch his influence across the centuries.  Based in Turkey, it is redolent with the smells of roses and rose water, e.g.

“Jahan tried to utter something to raise her spirits, but he could find no words that she would follow.  A while later a servant brought her a bowl of custard, flavoured with rosewater.  The sweet scent…”

It turned my thoughts to roses, so I made today a Rose Rice Pudding that we ate warm because outside it was raining again – summer where have you gone.  I then let it cool and made the leftovers into a Raspberry & Rose Kheer per the photo.

Rose Rice Pudding or Rose Kheer


1 litre / 1¾ pints / 4¼ cups full fat milk
100g / 3½oz / ½ cup pudding rice
50g / 1¾ oz / ¼ cup golden caster sugar
½tsp organic cinnamon powder
Pinch of sea salt
½ teaspoon of vanilla powder or a vanilla pod, slit lengthways
150ml / 5¼ fl oz / ½ cup double cream
½tsp organic rose blossom water
1tsp ground dried rose petals (optional)

How to make rose rice pudding

Put the pudding rice, caster sugar, organic cinnamon powder and salt into a heavy bottomed pan.  Give it a quick stir to mix it up a tad.

Add the milk and the vanilla pod, then bring to the boil.  When it starts to boil, reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Add the double cream, rose water and rose petals, then cook for a further 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly until nice and it has thickened.

If you want to eat it warm, sprinkle some caster sugar over the top and either caramelise it with a blowtorch or under the grill.

For rose kheer or a nice cold rice pudding, leave to cool for around 30 minutes, then place into the fridge for at least an hour.  To make it into a Raspberry & Rose Kheer, I put some raspberries in the base of the glass and three delicately on the top.

Rose Kheer With Raspberries

Rose Kheer With Raspberries