Monday, 31 March 2014

4M Cool Colour Wristlets review


Sophie and Juliette both love craft kits so when we were given the chance to review a kit from 4M, we jumped at the chance. We received the Cool Colour Wristlets kit, which is suitable for ages 8+.


The box is quite small but contains everything you need to make 4 wristlets. I like the fact that this reduces excess packaging and also takes up less space on the bedroom shelf. The back of the box clearly shows the contents of the kit : 4 lengths of plastic thread, 4 little charms, 4 chains, 4 jump rings, 4 clasps and a safety pin.


The only thing you need to add is a bit of sticky tape, a ruler and a pair of scissors. We tipped everything out and cut the thread to the right length.


Sophie is a dab hand at making scoobies (or scoubidous as they're called in France - I didn't know they originated in France !) so I thought she'd find these really easy. You use the safety pin to attach the chain to a cushion (or, in Sophie's case, her onesie !) then push a small piece of thread through and make it into a loop with sellotape. Then you thread the longer piece through and basically make a scoubidou, finishing it off with a jump ring, a charm and a clasp. The instructions weren't very clear though and Sophie ended up tying herself up in knots, rather than the thread !



We have since discovered this video tutorial which makes it easier to understand what to put where. We'll have to have another go because at the moment, the project has been abandoned half completed in favour of the easier bracelet kits that we've received lately. Having had a look around at a few other reviews, lots of people seem to be saying that it's very fiddly until you get the knack so this is definitely better for older children with good coordination and lots of patience ! We will persevere though because the finished bracelets look great.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £9.95




Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Yellow Moon Easter Crafts range review

Madhouse Diaries : Messing about by the water


Yesterday ended up being a pretty nice day weatherwise - in fact, we even managed to get in the first barbecue of the year which is very unusual for March - so in the afternoon, we decided to head out for a long walk. It ended up with a bit of a watery theme ! We started off walking along the canal and had a giggle at the line of washing on one of the barges that looked a bit out of place.


Then we headed into the dockside area and marvelled at the swing bridge going up in the air to let three sailing boats through. Pierre waved madly at them from the quay and was delighted when the people on them all waved back !



Can you see what has caught his eye here?


A bright green caterpillar. As we've been involved with the Very Hungry Caterpillar 45th anniversary celebrations for the past 6 months, he desperately wanted the caterpillar to eat a whole in a leaf.


The caterpillar has other ideas though ! 


After the canal and the marina, the third type of water was the sea and we were really impressed to see that the bulldozers have gone and we have a lovely clean expanse of sand to play on now. Compare this to a few weeks ago here and you can see that it was in a right state the last time we visited.


Pierre and Juliette found a huge abandoned sandcastle and spent the next hour conquering it !

I still didn't manage to convince the kids to walk along to the jetty to the lighthouse though - the call of the sandy beach is just too strong ! One day I'll make it ...

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Yellow Moon Easter Crafts range review

Did you win anything nice in March?


Well, up until a couple of days ago, I thought this was going to be an incredibly short roundup. My one and only win for the month was a White One pouch from Ella's Kitchen !
 

Then I received an Easter activity pack from California Raisins.


Then within two days, I got two lovely wem's (that's winning emails for any of you who aren't keen compers). The first was for a hamper of pamper treats for mum - not sure what will be in that yet but it sounds nice. And the second one was from Lee Kum Kee on twitter.


What about you? I love hearing about all your lovely wins so feel free to share your wins in the comments :)

You might like to try your luck entering my giveaways too !

Giveaway #378 : Win 3 months' supply of KeraFiber - closing date 8/4

Giveaway #375 : Win a Take A Box Of Eggs recipe book - closing date 3/4

Cadbury's Creme Egg review and Monuts recipe


There was much excitement when the postman dropped off this mysterious parcel last week.


And even more excitement when we opened it up and discovered half a dozen Cadbury's Creme Eggs nestling inside. I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to chocolate - I'll only eat egg-shaped chocolate at Easter-time, so creme eggs are always a taste of springtime here at The Madhouse. If you haven't had your Creme Egg fix yet though, get in quick because they're only on the shelves until April 20th.


The Madhouse Mini-Testers had never tried Creme Eggs before so they were totally delighted to discover that they look like real eggs inside !

Cadbury's also sent us through one of their special recipes that they've created to use Creme Eggs, which we were about to try out until we realised they need mini creme eggs and we have the big ones ! Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try though. It's for Creme Egg Monuts which are the delectable combination of muffins and doughnuts and these ones have a delicious Cadbury Creme Egg hidden in the centre!

Creme Eggs Monuts recipe



Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Makes 12

Ingredients:
275g Self Raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
75g unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla essence
150ml natural yogurt
12 Mini Cadbury Creme eggs (1&1/2 89g bags)
Topping:
15g unsalted butter, melted
40g caster sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Method:

Preheat the oven to Gas 5, 190 C. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper muffin cases.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the sugar.
Beat the eggs with the melted butter, vanilla and yogurt and then stir into the dry ingredients. Do not over-mix as this will toughen the Monuts.
Spoon half of the mixture into the cases then put a Mini Cadbury Creme egg in the centre and top with the remaining mixture.
Cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown and springy to the touch.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Whilst still warm, brush the tops of the Monuts with melted butter and dip into the sugar mixture.



Alternatively you might like to check out Eric Lanlard's Creme Egg Brownies recipe in the video above or the whole host of #CremeEggBake ideas on the Cadbury google + page !

Disclosure : We received some lovely Creme eggs to bake with or just scoff !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Globe-cooking recipe (Peru) : Mazamorra Morada with Rice Pudding and Maca

Book review : The Collected Works of AJ Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin


You can't judge a book by its cover but it's often a pretty good starting point for first impressions nevertheless. Well, the slightly quirky cover image for The Collected Works of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin doesn't really give a lot away so I had no idea what to expect. We see a man, surrounded by books, whose clothes are made from the pages of books, who is peering down fondly at a toddler who is reaching out to him. Books are obviously going to feature quite heavily but what else should the reader expect ? Happy families? Well, in a word, no. Not to begin with at least.

Central character A.J. Fikry is definitely an antihero and it took me a long time to warm to him. Life has certainly dealt him some hard blows - he is a young widower - but his way of dealing with things is to thrive (or not) on microwaved ready meals and drink himself to oblivion several times a week. When someone abandons a baby in the bookshop he owns, he is (unrealistically) given the chance to become her adoptive father. The baby, Maya, turns out to be his saving grace, as well as a bit of a child genius, speaking and reading remarkably well for such a small child. A.J. gets his act together and turns his life around, creating a stable home for Maya and finding true love along the way until the wheel of destiny turns again, ready to deliver another cruel dose of bad luck and tragedy.

It's an interesting book, by turns heartwarming and sad, that will make you count your blessings and think about what is really important in life. The lack of realism from time to time (AJ being given the go-ahead to be an adoptive father depite his lifestyle, Maya's precocity) made it hard for me to feel any real compassion for him, which I thought was a shame.

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £12.99

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (13 Mar 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1408704617
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408704615
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14 x 3.2 cm



Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Book review : Quiet : The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking - Susan Cain

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Aldi Sparkling & Rosé Wine review


Just in time for Mother's Day, Aldi sent us through a selection of their wines for us to try out. They have a choice of red, white, rosé or sparkling on their shelves and we received two bottles of sparkling and two bottles of Rosé. 


Both bottles of fizz really look the business so if you want some bubbles with real wow-factor thrown in for a special occasion, these are perfect. They look just like a bottle of expensive champagne but have a much more credit crunch-friendly price tag.

 On the left is the Contevedo Cava Brut (£4.85 for 75cl) from Spain which has lovely fine bubbles and a crisp, fruity flavour. The tasting notes say that it has "fine and persistent bubbles with citrus and green apple aromas", as well as "a purity of fruit and a refreshing acidity". It is very nice on its own as an apéritif before the meal or at the end of the meal with dessert. Aldi recommend matching it with fish, savoury pastries, pasta or white meat dishes. It was Commended in the International Wine Challenge 2013 and won Bronze in the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013.

On the right is Valdobbiadene Prosecco Spumante DOCG from Italy (£7.29 for 75cl). This is another very nice glass of fizz, which seems a bit sharper than the Cava. It has a fruity apple-pear type flavour and a pleasant tingle on the tongue. This was Commended in the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards, won Silver in the International Wine Challenge 2013 and Bronze in the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013. I can see why.


Moving on to the rosé, on the left is the Spanish Toro Loco Rosé  (£3.79 for 75ml) - I love the name which means Crazy Bull ! This has a lovely deep pink colour and a rich, fruity flavour that is reminiscent of red fruit - maybe raspberries and cherries. It can be drunk at room temperature but tastes even better chilled. Aldi's food match suggestion is with a light seafood salad, prawns or even a fruit salad. This was the What Food What Wine? winner in 2013 and was matched with Indian food, in particular Chicken Tikka Masala. It was also Commended in the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards and International Wine Challenge 2013 and won Bronze in the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2013.

The final bottle is another Spanish rosé, the Grapevine rosé (£3.29 for 75cl). This has a similar vibrant pink colour and fruity flavour. It's crisp and slightly sweeter than the Toro Loco. The tasting notes mention "delicate floral aromas and ripe summer fruit flavours of strawberries, raspberries and pear".

They are all really good value for money and even Madhouse Daddy, who is a bit of a wine snob because he's French, had to agree with me that they are all really nice !

Disclosure : I received the product in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

ibrew wine starter kit review

Yellow Moon Easter Crafts range review


Easter is always a great time for crafts sessions with the kids so we were over the moon (the yellow moon?!) to receive this fabulous selection of crafty supplies from Yellow Moon and their parent company Baker Ross. I'm always really impressed that they manage to select simple projects that appeal to a 4, 9 and 12-year-old - I often have to wrack my brains for something that has universal appeal but they rose to the challenge once again.


I decided to start off with a simple activity that required no supervision while I sorted out the rest of the box and pulled out this Easter Charms Bracelet Kit which contains three kits - absolutely perfect ! (RRP £3.49)


 All three of the Madhouse Mini-testers, regardless of age or sex, jumped straight in and started threading their plastic beads and metal charms onto their elastic threads.


I didn't hear a peep out of any of them for the next 10 minutes ! This made me think that this would be a great activity for a kids' party.


The finished bracelets are very cute and the kids were totally wowed by the Easter-themed charms.


While they were busy making their bracelets, I unpacked the rest of the box and discovered these Cross Ceramic Tealight Holders. (RRP £4.95 for 4 - perfect for Easter but other designs are available if you want to avoid religious connotations.) They're plain white with a porous surface and are just begging to be customised. 


So it was rather fortunate that the box also contained a pack of funky Giotto Metallic Deco Pens (£3.99 for a pack of 5). These are fabulous - they have really lovely, shiny colours (Gold, Silver, Magenta, Blue Metal & Bronze) and can be used on almost any surface including wood, glass, porcelain, stone and plastic. I already have a zillion different projects in mind for these during the next school holidays.


Everyone's creativity came to the fore as they excitedly covered every square centimetre of pure white porcelain.


The pens are much easier to handle than paints for fine detail and they are also a much less messy option so it's a win-win situation !


We were all really impressed with the finished designs.


But this project still wasn't finished, it just kept getting better ! There was also a box of plain white egg-shaped candles and - something I'd never heard of before - a pack of Candle Pens. These remind me a bit of a cross between poster paint and glitter glue pens and they contain liquid wax - make sure you put down a plastic table cloth and keep a pack of wet wipes handy as you will end up getting quite messy ! They're great fun though and making a personalised candle AND candle holder would make for a really special, unique present idea. (RRP £12.99 for an Egg Candle Kit containing 10 egg candles and 5 candle pens)


After washing everyone's hands and putting the candles and candle holders in a safe place to dry, we got out the final items from the box - some pastel-coloured blank cards (£2.99 for 12) and these ultra-cute and brightly coloured Easter-themed holographic stickers (£1.99 for 60).


They all had great fun making Easter cards by sticking about a million stickers on each one (on the front, on the inside and yep, you guessed it, even on the back !).

We had a lovely afternoon of crafting and produced some really impressive gifts - we still haven't quite decided whether to keep the candles/candleholders for us or give them away to special people. Pierre thought about giving one to his childminder and Juliette mentioned her teacher at the end of the year, then they both said "oh no, I think I'll keep it for me" !

for more information :  http://www.yellowmoon.org.uk/

Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review and show you what we made.

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Picture book review : How To Catch A Star 10th anniversary edition

Happy Mother's Day to Me from Warburtons !


Warburtons have really been spoiling me lately. After the fabulous #pancakespossibilities Magic Pancakes kit that they sent through for Shrove Tuesday, I was delighted to receive this beautiful basket packed full of goodies in honour of Mother's Day.


A Toastie loaf, some crumpets and pancakes, jam, honey, champagne and Chambord - wow, now that's what I call the makings of an absolutely fantastic breakfast in bed !

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Taste & Smile Mother's Day recipes


Sunday weigh-in : I've recharged my batteries


After a couple of weeks of no weigh-ins, I've recharged my batteries, both literally and figuratively. While I didn't have a major blowout and stuff my face on cakes and biscuits, I have noticed that I'm more likely to snaffle a chocolate on the way past the box if I'm not thinking in the back of my mind that I wonder what the scales will say at the end of the week. I have bought some new batteries now though so I'm back to weighing in.

These past two weeks have been really busy - first I had all the school reports to fill in, then I had after school meetings. Next week will be the same - I'll be home late on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. There has literally been no time for the Wii-fit at all so I wasn't expecting a great weigh-in today. In the end, it's not too bad - 84.4kg, a 300g gain over three weeks, I can deal with that !

Positives of the week

-  A 100g gain a week when I'm not really worrying about what I eat and doing no exercise sounds pretty good to me, especially as I've had lots of chocolates to review for Mother's day and we've been making loads of cakes !

- I've been missing the Wii-fit so I'll be enthusiastic about starting up again after this final manic week

Current targets 

Last week's target : Breathe ! Life gets in the way sometimes and this week and next will be manic at work so I'll not be overly worrying about food or exercise. Listen to the Slimpod and replace the batteries in the scales !
(Done !)

This week's targets : Another crazy week at work coming up so just do my best for food choices and listen to the SlimPod a few times. Get my weight lost badge back to double figures (because - boo ! - that 300g gain was enough to bring it back down to 9kg lost !)

Short-term targets : I have a new pair of bright blue target jeans to fit into ! (Done but I want them to be a bit looser.)

Longer-term targets : Get back to the 70-somethings. Get my badges back to "weight lost" being more than "left to lose"

START WEIGHT :93.7kg
TARGET WEIGHT : 67.8kg
WEIGHT LAST WEEK  : 84.1kg
WEIGHT TODAY : 84.4kg
WEIGHT LOST SO FAR :  9.3kg
STILL TO GO : 16.4kg
CHANGE THIS WEEK : +0.3kg



Feel free to add your weightloss posts to my weekly linkie - it's great to see how everyone else has been getting on and give each other support and encouragement. You can even grab the linkie code and add it to your own blog if you like. :)








get the InLinkz code


Wobbles Wednesday

You might also like to join in with the #WobblesWednesday link-up over at AutismMumma

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Saturday, 29 March 2014

Taste & Smile Mother's Day recipes

Tate & Lyle have a whole host of family-friendly recipes on their website, including many that you can make with the kids. Here are a little selection that they've put together specially for mother's day.

Mother’s Day Biscuit Card



Whether you’re five or fifty and are a dab hand, or not, with a piping bag, this is such a lovely, personalised gift for your mother. The recipe makes more biscuits than you need but since they freeze so well you can either stamp them out and cook them straight from the freezer, or have them cooked and ready to warm through in the oven for another occasion. And there’s enough icing to decorate about 20 biscuits.

Makes: about 40
Prep time: 1½ hours
Cooking time: 7-10 minutes

for the biscuits
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
75g (3oz) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Golden Caster Sugar
1 large egg yolk
200g (7oz) plain flour, plus extra for rolling
finely grated rind 1 lemon
1½ tbsp milk

for the decoration & icing – enough for about 20 biscuits
500g (1lb2oz) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Royal Icing Sugar
75ml (3floz) water
Squires Kitchen violet, mint green & rose paste food colours
Mother’s Day card

You will also need a small flower shaped biscuit cutter about 4.5-5cm (1¾-2”) in diameter available from Squires Kitchen, and 2 disposable piping bags.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan180°, 400°F, Gas 6.

Lightly grease 2 baking trays.

Cream the butter and Tate & Lyle Golden Caster Sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolk.

Next, sieve in the flour, add the lemon rind and mix well. Add the milk to make a fairly soft dough.

Knead the mixture on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a thickness of 5mm (¼“). Using the flower cutter stamp out about 40 rounds and place on the baking trays, spaced apart.

Bake for 7-9 minutes until golden, swapping the trays round halfway through. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

To make the icing, put the water in a bowl, sift over the Tate & Lyle Royal Icing Sugar and mix with a wooden spoon until thick, smooth and the consistency of toothpaste.

You will need about one-third of the icing for piping and the rest for flooding the biscuits. Divide the icing between 3 small bowls and colour with your chosen colours, using a toothpick to add a tiny amount, then mix well to achieve your desired colour.

For the icing for flooding, add a few drops of water at a time to 1 of the bowls, stirring until the mixture is smooth and just pourable, just a bit thicker than double cream.

The 2 bowls of icing for piping should be thick enough to hold its shape. Check by dragging a flat-bladed knife through the surface of the icing and count to 10. If the icing surface becomes smooth in anywhere between 5-10 seconds it is ready. If not, the icing is too thick, so add a splash of water. More sifted icing sugar can be added if it becomes too runny. Divide this icing between 2 piping bags. Cover any unused icing with cling film placed directly on the surface.

Snip a tiny piece off the tip of the piping bags with a pair of scissors. Pipe an outline border with your chosen colour 1cm (½”) above the biscuit, lifting the bag away from the biscuit so that the icing falls onto the surface. This makes it easier to control the piping. Let the icing dry for 10 minutes.

Next, fill in the middle of the biscuits with the flooding icing using a teaspoon and a zig-zag motion. Gently shake the biscuit to help settle the icing. Pop any air bubbles with a pin or toothpick right away otherwise it will pop on its own and leave a hole. Wait for 30 minutes or so until the icing has firmed up, then decorate the middle of the flower biscuit using a contrasting colour.

Place the decorated biscuits on a baking tray and dry out in the oven 140°C/Fan120°, 275°F, Gas 1 for about 15 minutes, slightly longer if you are making larger biscuits. Cool on a wire rack.

To attach the flower biscuit to the card, pipe a little icing over the outline of the back of the biscuit and lightly place it on the card to ‘glue’ it in position. Leave to dry flat for a few hours.

Make-ahead

Make and decorate the biscuits up to 1 week before and store in an airtight container.

Main: Balsamic-sugar glazed chicken



This balsamic and sugar glaze keeps well in the fridge and is a useful addition to have to drizzle over roasted vegetables – be they English roots or a Mediterranean medley of peppers, courgettes and onions.

Serves: 6
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 1hour 40 minutes

for the stuffing
1 medium onion, peeled & finely chopped
25g (1oz) butter
40g (1½oz) fresh breadcrumbs
125g (4½oz) cream cheese
1 heaped tbsp chopped tarragon
2 heaped tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra for serving
1 lemon, zested
salt & freshly ground black pepper
salt & freshly ground black pepper
for the chicken & vegetables
1.6k (3½lb) chicken
3 tbsp olive oil
3 medium red onions, peeled, root discarded & thickly sliced across into 3
3 medium onions, peeled, root discarded & thickly sliced across into 3
for the glaze
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 rounded tbsp Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Light Muscovado Sugar
salt & freshly ground black pepper

You will also need a piping bag with a 4cm (½”) plain wide nozzle and some kitchen string for trussing the chicken.

Gently fry the onion for the stuffing in a small pan with the butter over a low heat for about 10-12 minutes until softened. Tip into a bowl to cool, then add the breadcrumbs, cream cheese, tarragon, parsley and lemon zest. Season well with salt and pepper and transfer to the piping bag.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan200°, 425°F, Gas 7.

Put the chicken on a board, cut the string to untruss it. Then, at the neck end carefully push your fingers from side to side to loosen the skin from the bird to make a pocket for the stuffing. Be careful not to split the skin, or the stuffing will ooze out. If you do, just stitch it up with a needle and thread, remembering to remove it later. Carefully pipe the stuffing between the breast and the skin, patting it down so that it is evenly distributed. Re-truss the chicken with a new length of string. Transfer the chicken to a large roasting tin, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season and cover with foil.

Roast the chicken on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour, basting with the juices once or twice.

Meanwhile, combine the balsamic vinegar and Tate & Lyle Light Muscovado Sugar together in a small pan over a low heat, stir to dissolve and then simmer for 1-2 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened.

Rub the onions with the rest of the oil, keeping them together in their slices, and season.

Remove the foil from the chicken, arrange the onions around the bird and cook for another 20 minutes, turning them halfway. Brush the chicken with the balsamic glaze, drizzle the rest over the onions and roast for a final 10 minutes until the chicken is glazed and bronzed, and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a fine skewer. The onions should be tender and nicely caramelised. Remove them to a plate to keep warm whilst you rest the chicken for 10-15 minutes, loosely covered with foil. Carve, scatter with a little parsley and serve with all the pan juices.

Dessert: Tray-baked meringue with red wine apples & vanilla cream



Impressive and easy to make, this tray-baked meringue can be cooked a day ahead, ready to assemble on the day. Change the fruits according to the season - summer berries or autumnal poached fruits all look, and taste, equally wonderful.

Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

for the meringue
4 large egg whites, about 120g (4½oz) at room temperature
225g (8oz ) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Light Soft Brown Sugar
1 rounded tsp corn flour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
for the topping
370ml (13floz) red wine
1 medium orange, peel finely pared & juiced
125g (4½oz ) Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Light Soft Brown Sugar
1 large cinnamon stick
4 Braeburn or similar tart eating apples, quartered, cored & peeled
425ml (¾pt) double cream, lightly whipped
1 vanilla pod, split & the seeds scraped out
75g (3oz) blackberries
1 tbsp flaked almonds, lightly toasted
Tate & Lyle Fairtrade Icing Sugar, to dust

You will also need a baking tray lined with parchment paper or silicone.

Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, for about 1 minute.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan160°C, 350°F, Gas 4.

Slowly add the Tate & Lyle Light Soft Brown Sugar a dessert spoonful at a time, which will take about 10 minutes, by which time the egg whites will be very thick, glossy and stand up in peaks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway through.

Whisk in the corn flour and then the vinegar.

Spoon the meringue mixture onto the baking tray, using a palette knife to shape it into 25.5x20cm (10”x8”) oval.

Place on the middle shelf of the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 120°C/Fan100°C, 350°F, Gas ½. Bake for 1 hour until the outside is crisp but the insides are soft and marshmallowy. Leave in the oven until completely cold. This can be done overnight.

For the red wine apples combine the red wine, orange juice and zest, the Tate & Lyle Light Soft Brown Sugar and the cinnamon stick in a pan. Stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar, then add the apple quarters and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until tender but they still hold their shape and have taken on the deep red colour of the wine. Remove the apples with a slotted spoon to a shallow bowl, and boil the red wine mixture down to reduce it to about half its original quantity until syrupy. Pour over the apples and leave to cool. Discard the cinnamon stick and orange peel.

Carefully transfer the meringue to a serving dish. Add the vanilla seeds to the whipped cream and spoon onto the meringue. Lift the apples out of their syrup, arrange on top of the cream, scatter with the blackberries and almonds, and drizzle with a little of the red wine syrup. Serve the rest in a small jug. Lightly dust with Tate & Lyle Icing Sugar and serve.

Make-ahead

Cook the apples up to 5 days ahead and store in their syrup in the fridge.
Make the meringue up to 1 day before and store in an airtight container.

for more information : www.tasteandsmile.co.uk

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Download your celeb (& me !) Tilda Mums Helping Mums Cookbook

Head & Shoulders Apple Fresh shampoo review


This month, we've been trialling Head & Shoulders Apple Fresh shampoo for a WOM campaign with Envie de Plus, which is like a French version of Bzz. We received a big bottle to test and lots of little bottles to give out, along with brochures - the mums at the school gate always love seeing me rolling up with a carrier bag in my hand because they know I've got some goodies to hand out !


Pierre was the first person to rate the apple fresh fragrance, sniffing it straight from the bottle. His verdict was "Hmmm it smells nice Mummy, can I go and wash my hair now?"! I have to say, I agree with him - it does have a lovely fresh and fruity fragrance - but I found the scent to be a bit too delicate for my liking. I prefer bold fragrances that linger long after you've washed and dried your hair and I didn't think that the scent of this product was strong enough. Head & Shoulders have apparently improved the fragrance though, and now boast "an improved fragrance over the whole range thanks to the new "scent burst" technology" and "an improved experience in the shower with pleasantly perfumed hair after hairwashing".

I do love the texture of the shampoo though - it's rich and creamy and just as indulgent as my normal non-anti-dandruff shampoo. Head & Shoulders promise that their shampoo eliminates up to 100% of dandruff after regular use and say that just one product is enough for beautiful, dandruff-free hair because it's a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner. I agree but I still used a separate conditioner afterwards because I have dry hair, but that's something I do regardless of the brand of shampoo I use.

As an English teacher in France, I often use the brand Head & Shoulders when we're learning the parts of the body and we do the Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes song. When I say that it's called that because you get dandruff on your head and shoulders, the kids always seem surprised that you could get dandruff on your shoulders. Could this be proof that modern anti-dandruff shampoos (of which Head & Shoulders are the number 1 brand worldwide) are efficient ?!

star rating : 4/5

RRP :  £4.99 for 500ml

Disclosure : I received the product in order to write an honest review, as well as samples to hand out for a WOM marketing campaign.

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