Entries in Marks and Spencer (74)

Saturday
Jun032017

The first BBQ of Summer 2017

In the North if we lived our lives by the weather we would never do anything.  Our wee country is most known for having four seasons in one day.  I remember a flight back from Chicago where my seating companion was so excited to be heading over to visit the country she told me she had even packed for our weather bringing thermals and flip flops.  We grew up hardy weather rarely ever stopped us doing anything unless it was life and death dangerous and that included BBQ's cooked in waterproofs under huge golf umbrellas.  Rain! Pa.  That is not going to put us off and it shouldn't put you off either.  Especially with the yummy Spirit of Summer BBQ range in Marks and Spencer.  


Thick wedges of Halloumi cheese cook quickly on the bbq and are delicious on their own for veggies or shared with the adults to have on top of burgers.  They do disappear quickly so always get much much more than you think you'll never.  There is never any leftover Halloumi.  Slices of Halloumi tossed with rocket and the Marks and Spencer Hasselback garlic potatoes are delicious add a squeeze of lemon for a big of zine.

Chicken when cooked properly on a BBQ is always incredible.  The sweet smoke and crisp skin with succulent chicken meat pulled off bones is a little bit of heaven.  The Marks and Spencer Spirit of Summer range have lovely chicken bravas tenders with a rich alioli and some seriously smoky and sharp Louisiana Barbecue Chicken Flatties.  

Sausages are the staple of the Northern Irish BBQ, they are easy too cook, relatively cheap to buy, and taste fantastic.  Marks and Spencer Grill Range, have created a new sausage, using outdoor reared British Pork, which has been smoked while it is cured.  These are big juicy sausages, flavoured with sage and nutmeg, and with a very high meat content – 85%, which in the sausage world is unusal, considering some sausages only have 50% meat.  

These firm and weighty sausages suit their name ‘Posh Dogs’, we served them in the new Posh Dog Sub rolls, with mustard, ketchup, and salted coriander onion.   I like to cook my sausages until they go a deep walnut brown, and start to caramelise around the edges.

Burgers and slices of grilled pineapple go togther perfectly. 

Salad is a key BBQ ingredient - I make a huge tossed salad with mango, chive flowers, pomegranate seeds, cos lettuce and lots of coriander, tossed in a mustard and honey dressing.

 

When you BBQ don't stress with perfect table settings or lots of washing up load up on Marks and Spencer plastic wine glasses and disposable cutlery - you won't regret it!  The wine peaking through in the background is one of my favourites Marks and Spencer Marlborough  Silver Frond vibrant dry Sauvignon that is bursting with ripe gooseberry flavours.  A herbal aromamatic nose with undertones of luscious fresh lime and crushed nettle palate, it is fun and sparkly.  M&S winemaker Jeneve Williams made this wine with local winemaker Andrew Blake of Giesen, sourcing grapes from a number of prime vineyards to really show off the quality and clarity of the region’s fruit.  Grape Variety: 99% Sauvignon Blanc, 1% Pinot Gris.

 

Get out and get the BBQ lit - have a fabulous summer!

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Wednesday
May102017

Marks marks 50 years in Northern Ireland

Marks and Spencer believe good food comes from good ingredients.  Northern Ireland's first M&S opened in September 1967 and this year they mark 50 years in this place.  For half a century the firm has supported our agriculture here by working with local suppliers to produce products for them.  Ireland and the North of Ireland supply worldclass beef, pork, venison, chicken, turkey, potatoes, bread and eggs to Marks and Spencer.

Marks and Spencer have just launched two new products developed and produced in Northern Ireland.  A new range of skinny, gluten-free sausages made by Finnebrogue Artisan and a new range, produced by Karro, Cookstown which includes popular fresh pork lines including loin steaks, pork fillets, crackling leg joints, rib racks and belly strips.

Marks and Spencer are also showing their commitment to the next generation of farming in Northern Ireland through their 'Farming for the Future Awards' run at the Balmoral Show 2017.

One of the many reasons we collaborate closely with Marks and Spencer is because of their relationships with local producers here in Northern Ireland and their commitment to working with them to provide worldclass products.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Sunday
Apr092017

Easter Fun from Marks and Spencer

 

Marks and Spencer hollow milk chocolate eggs in a traditional egg carton are fun and sparkly for Easter.  They come in sets of 30 eggs and are brilliant for Easter Egg hunts. 

 

They also work really well as gifts from teachers to children or if you have any little people visiting your home this Easter, they will love to pick an egg for themselves.

 

 

These Marks and Spencer cloth chick bags are filled with milk chocolate jewel foil covered easter eggs.  The bags are firm favourites with children who can use them during an Easter Egg hunt and fill them up too the brim with chocolate.

The little Marks and Spencer jewelled eggs because they are covered can be hidden all around the garden for children and adults to find.

These little jewel eggs are filled with beautiful smooth milk chocolate, and the half eggs are filled with rich runny caramel. They are addictive - I challenge you to eat only one!  Opened out of their net bags and filling coloured glasses they make beautiful hostess gifts, or Easter presents.  I like to fill glasses with them and leave them all around the house on Easter Sunday for people to nibble throughout the day.

These Marks and Spencer wobble tins are filled with chocolate chip shortbread.  The tins are bright and cheery; great fun for little children who can push the tin and watch it wobble.

My favourite themed egg from Marks and Spencer for children is this dinosaur who sits proudly atop of speckled eggs.  Lots of little boys and girls will love this on Easter Sunday.

These little praline eggs are for adults and some older children wrapped in sparkling gold, they are easy to eat.

These little half egg chicks are filled with gooey caramel.

Easter is a time to celebrate, new life, the triumph of life over death, light and the joys of Spring - I hope you have a joyful day full of celebration.

Happy Easter,

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Friday
Dec232016

Christmas Cheese, Port and Presents from Marks and Spencer

 Cheese and Christmas have two words ever been more synonymous.  This is the time of year to really enjoy rich and creamy cheeses.  Marks and Spencer as always have a wonderful selection.  I particularly like their Christmas gift box with an Apricot, Ginger and Sage chutney, some nutty crackers and four very good cheeses.  

 To this I added Cashel Blue, my favourite blue Irish Cheese - one that always satisfies whether a wedge on a cracker or a piece melting on the top of a steak.  It is smooth, creamy and rich.  

Cashel Blue is made at Beechmount a 200 acre farm in County Tipperary from grass-fed milk, it is a pure and perfect cheese.  And, has been one of Ireland's favourites for over 30 years.

The Marks and Spencer selection of cheeses include a Double Glouster, Gould's mature cheddar, a Shropshire Blacksticks blue and Raven's oak goat's cheese.

I serve my cheeses on a simple Donegal slate plate.

 

 This Cranberry, golden raisin, clementine and brandy stilton is sweet and smooth, a favourite with those who like their cheeses a little sweeter.

 It works well with the crunchy seeded crackers and a blob of apricot, sage and ginger chutney.

 Cheese Boards are instant meals or snacks.  Serve with chutney, lots of crackers and some smooth things to drink.

 Port and Cheese - that phrase brings back so many memories for me from my days in the little grey toon of St Andrews.  

Grahams "The Tawny" is a perfect present for a porter lover or one to serve with cheese.  It is light in colour with a warming rich flavour.  This deep, golden-amber port haa rich bouquet of orange peel, cinnamon and dried fruits, particularly raisins, prunes and figs. The palate fruity, with cherry flavours and a long, clean finish.

 

 I especially like its presentation box this is one for Uncle's, Papa's and Daddy's.  It is also great with Christmas Pudding at the end of Christmas Dinner.

 Marks and Spencer Rare Cream Sherry is a bit like drinking mince pies - sweet rich and luscious.  Aged in the unique Solera systems of old oak barrels, it is transformed into a wonderfully complex nutty fortified wine, which is blended with a little Pedro Ximez to add rich, raisin sweetness and luscious body.

 Santa in our house likes sweet sherry and mince pies - what does your santa like to nibble and drink when he visits to leave presents?

 Marks and Spencer all butter mince pies are moist and juicy with plump fruit in the filling, and a light, golden pastry casing.  Oh they are so good, when I was tasting Dad popped in and he said, 'I just keep eating these mince pies they are so tasty.'  A sure sign of success.

 Tea and Toast - is there any better comfort food.  I kid you not, tea and toast seems to cure all ills.  As Storm Barbara batters against my window the driving rain and pounding rain are making great swell for surfers which I can watch from my window.  I am snuggling down to tea and toast.  And, it is an idea for an original Christmas present - fresh baked bread from the artisan range at Marks and Spencer.  I choose Irish Wheatnen and the Pecan and Cranberry loaf, wrap them in a tea towel to allow the bread to breathe and give with some Irish Country Butter and Marks and Spencer sparkling prosecco apricot jam and runny Spanish honey with slices of orange.

 

 

 With a love for everything sparkly this conserve makes me think of warmer summer days because of its bright apricot flavour.

 

 Orange blossom honey from Spain is a realy treat, the thin pieces of orange peel bring a depth of flavour.

 

 A biscuit from a tin and a cup of tea, right there is another cure for ills.  There's not much a cup of tea and a biscuit can't help.  For 2017 get yourself a selection of teas from Marks and Spencer and this fabulous robin shortbread biscuit tin.  It will brighten the most deary January days.  And while you're at it buy one for friends as well - a great present for bird lovers, next door neighbours and friends in need of something comforting.

 Cranberry and dark chocolate jaffa cakes ... just lovely with a good cup of tea.

 While your buying your Christmas pudding buy two or three more and hand them into shelters or churches that are packing hampers, or have a food bank.  There are more food banks than ever before inthe UK and they really need us to supply them with great products.

This Marks and Spencer Australian Shiraz from the Limestone South Coast is a great one for sipping or giving. A rich Aussie Shiraz packed full of autumnal fruit flavours of apple and pear, and blackberry.  There are warm spicy pepper aromas over a voluptuous yet surprisingly elegant palate.  

I really love this Marks and Spencer Silver Frond vibrant dry Sauvignon that is bursting with ripe gooseberry flavours.  A herbal aromamatic nose with undertones of luscious fresh lime and crushed nettle palate, it is fun and sparkly perfect to liven up any Christmas dinner. It is from New Zealand’s Marlborough region, an area of sun-kissed vineyards set among pristine lakes, rivers and hills – a haven for the Sauvignon Blanc grape to grow. M&S winemaker Jeneve Williams made this wine with local winemaker Andrew Blake of Giesen, sourcing grapes from a number of prime vineyards to really show off the quality and clarity of the region’s fruit.  Grape Variety: 99% Sauvignon Blanc, 1% Pinot Gris

This Marks and Spencer Christmas cake is spicy,  with rich fruit flavours, brandy-laced and royal-iced with sparkling poinsettas.  It is a masterpiece for your table.  

 Matured for eight months, it is filled with port-soaked Vostizza currants that are grown in the mountains in the Aeghion region of Greece, in a microclimate and rich soil that help give them a distinct flavour, while the flame raisins are dried from extra sweet and juicy red grapes.  

 Serve it with a good cup of tea or a glass of Grahams Tawny Port.

 

Merry Christmas my friends, may your day be full of joy and laughter.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable 

Thursday
Dec222016

Virtually Instant Fondue

I like to keep things in the pantry and fridge at this time of year that allow me to put together a wonderful meal with ease.  Christmas is a time when people come calling or if you are anything like me you invite people 'come back to ours' after any event you are at - a carol service, closing time at the bar or a bracing walk on the beach.  Having people in my home seated around my table is one of my favourite things year in year out.  I will never tire of cooking for others.

At this for many the most wonderful time of year a simple Christmas Cheese Fondue is a delight.  You can make one from scratch using the fantastic Marks and Spencer range of cheeses or you can make a virtually instant one using this soft French Le Bon Grivois cheese from Marks and Spencer.  I have never known anyone to turn down fondue.

Make a light cross on the top of the cheese then bake in a hot oven, about 220' for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and gooey.

Serve with slices of crusty Northern Irish wheaten bread cut into fingers.  The sweet moist crumb of the bread with the running bubbling cheese.

Le Bon Grivois is a soft round cheese, made of raw milk, and it has a washed rind which is washed every couple of days with salt water. It is matured for three weeks on wooden spruce boards. Soft and unctuous without being too sharp, I love its taste with the nutty wheaten bread.

I always have a pot of soup ready to feed people at Christmas this year it is leek and potato.  I serve it with pieces of crispy black bacon scattered over the top.  Serve a bowl of soup with this Marks and Spencer Le Bon Grivois fondue and you have a delicious hearty and quick meal.

And of course  - with bread and cheese a glass of chilled Sauvigon Blanc always goes down a treat.  This Seaglass Californian sauvigon blanc from Marks and Spencer is fresh and its lemony sharpness cuts through the cheese.

Merry Christmas, that's it for now ...

 

Nics

 

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Thursday
Oct202016

Treat or Treat

It always seems odd to me that people celebrate all the trappings of death, rather than remembering those who died at Halloween.  The fascination with darkness is not I feel good for our souls.  Halloween for me is a time to remember those that have passed to think about their lives and the effects their life had on ours.  There are so many who are not here now who I miss with a deep yearning.  I think of my Gran & Grandpa, my friend Ze, Auntie Bell come to mind immediately.  Death is a part of life albeit a very sad part.  

I don't think death is something we celebrate.  However, Halloween is a holiday, a time in the liturgical calendar, a time when people like to party, or spend time remembering.  It is a time for year for those of us in the western hemisphere when the harvest has been brought in, life in the natural world is starting to wither and die in a blaze of colour and glory, animals begin to hibernate as winter comes upon us.  In the natural world things change and in our bodies we notice the shift in the atmosphere.  This is a time to hunker down with friends, to sit around a fire share stories and live life.  A time to be together.  

Hallowe'en for me is a time for getting my family together, carving pumpkins, lighting sparklers and eating delicious food.  It's a time for friends, for dressing up if that's what tickles your fancy and for being together.  We will even have some fireworks because I LOVE LIGHT.

 This Halloween I am throwing a 'Treat or Treat' party.  One where there are lots of puddings and sweets.  Delicious things to eat while sharing a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with friends.  Food that can be eaten on the sofa and doesn't need a rigid dinner schedule.  There will be children with buckets of sweeties from Marks and Spencer, lots of sparklers and puddings from the new Marks and Spencer dessert range.  Its a time to treat ourselves and enjoy being together.

We'll have some traditional Irish Halloween games like ducking for apples and pin the face onto the pumpkin.  We might even tell an Irish Ghost story or two.

I will make it easy for people to chose their puddings by setting everything out on a buffet table and allowing them to chose what they want.  This luscious jelly with autumn fruits and plum flavours from Marks and Spencer is soft and slippery.  With a bright tart and cooling flavour.  I love it serve with the creamy white chocolate cheesecake.

These Marks and Spencer Ghost Crisps are crunchy and perfect for those wanting something more salty as a reprive from all the sugar.

The Marks and Spencer Sicilian cheesecake is tart and smooth.  Its light pastry crust is crisp.  It is a refreshing pudding to eat.

Doesn't this Marks and Spencer Chocolate and Pear Tart look stunning?

It is a very impressive finish to dinner or lovely served buffet style for people to serve themselves.  The rich smooth chocolate and sweet pear that has a little bite with a  make great combination.

 

These Marks and Spencer Melting Chocolate Domes are really spectactular and children as much as adults will love looking at them, as the hot chocolate sauce is poured over and the domes melt.  Inside there’s an indulgent chocolate brownie, which sits on top of crisp feuilletine layer, and is filled with creamy milk chocolate ganache.  If you need to serve any shop bought puddings make it these they are brilliant.  This pudding was designed by M&S product developer Daniel Fletcher who has previously worked as a top pastry chef for both Gordon Ramsey and Jason Atherton.  Its three star food in my kitchen!  And I love it.

 

 

These billionaire buillio bars are really spectactular. I recommend serving several of them on a plate piled up just like gold bars from a cowboy movie.  They have a glittery glittery gold sheen and embossed with the M&S logo so they look sparkly and shimmery when you bring them to the table.  The chunky gold ingot is made from thick Belgian chocolate, filled with caramel mousse, a layer of gleaming salted caramel sauce and chocolate-covered shortbread pieces.

The Billionaire Buillion Bars were created by M&S product developer James Campbell who travels the globe eating in restaurants, patisseries, food markets and high-end department stores .  He's looking for inspiration and ideas for bring back to the M&S test kitchen in West London.  Where he turns his ideas into reality which ultimately end up on our tables.  James is a former head pastry chef at London’s Michelin Oriental hotel and the Michelin-starred City Rhodes and Rhodes In The Square restaurants, and I feel a genuis.

 

 

 

Have a wonderful Halloween folks, celebrating life, remembering and enjoying light.

This is a time to treat and treat your family and friends and yourself with these amazing puddings from Marks and Spencer.

Fancy dress is optional but oh what fun.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

 

Sunday
Sep252016

Mulled Sloe Gin Cups

As I walked to the car I noticed the nip in the air had become a chill.  The bright harvest moon has been waning and the evenings have drawn in.  Autumn has arrived in a blaze of colour and beauty. The season has transitioned and my body is starting to crave warm drinks and maybe just maybe a little less ice.  As I wait for the sloes to ripen and the first frost to fall, I have been experimenting with this Sloe Gin from Marks and Spencer and come up with a warm and soothing drink - a Mulled Sloe Gin Cup.

Sloes are the fruit of the the blackthorn, Marks and Spencer sloe gin mixes sloe berries with sugar matured in gin, resulting in a sloe gin with a fruity full flavour.  I warmed a two cups of sloe gin with a 1/2 cup of water, 2 cloves, 2 crushed green cardamon pods, a cinnamon stick, 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice and three slices of ginger to just before boiling for 4 minutes.  I then poured it into glass cups I had added a slice of ginger speared with three cloves, a couple of blackberries, a cinnamon stick and the rind of some orange.  

This creates a sweetly spiced drink that is soothing and warming.  

 

Mulled Sloe Gin Cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sloe gin
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3 cloves
  • 3crushed green cardamon pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 slices of orange rind
  • 3 slices of ginger

Method

Put all ingredients into a pan, then simmer for 4-8 minutes, and serve in glass cups I had added a slice of ginger speared with three cloves, a couple of blackberries, a cinnamon stick and the rind of some orange.  

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable