Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for a Foodie

Let’s forget for a moment all about those standard heart shaped boxes of chocolates which are inevitably gone within minutes and let’s consider buying something a little more exiting, something different, something which will last longer than a day and provide our loved ones with long lasting pleasures and a reminder of the love given with the present.

Let’s forget for a moment all about those standard heart shaped boxes of chocolates which are inevitably gone within minutes and let's consider buying something a little more exiting, something different, something which will last longer than a day and provide our loved ones with long lasting pleasures and a reminder of the love given with the present.Coffee Subscription Box from £3.50/month

I adore the idea of having new coffee delivered to my door each month. I think every coffee lover would enjoy a long lasting gift like this. There seems to be a lot of companies offering a service like this, they offer different ranges, frequency and of course price. As I am not able to recommend one company over any others, I am providing you with a link to the most recommended UK coffee subscriptions so it’s easier for you to pick if you decided to order some.

Cheese Making Kit from £18.99

Most foodies love cheese but instead of buying a funky looking block of cheese why not buy them a cheese making kit? I bet most of us would enjoy making our own cheese. The kits from Burnley Home Brew are designed to be used in any kitchen and with no previous cheese making experience. In my opinion they are a wonderful gift idea for any cheese loving foodie and who knows, it could be the start of an empire.

50 Greatest Chefs from £19.50

Make your chef feel special as you think they are by creating a personalised book just for them.
50 Greatest Chefs sees your loved one featured alongside 49 famous cooks. They are included on the cover of this coffee table book and are the stars of their own biography page. You can choose from three cover styles in nine colours to produce a bespoke book that is printed on demand
Don’t you just love the idea of this book? First of all it will provide your Valentine’s with a heap of new knowledge about many famous chefs out there but most of all they will be featured amongst them! Small money, fab idea and potentially a lot of pleasure and a huge ego stroke for the recipient.

Cookery Courses from £30

Cookery courses are always inspiring and allow you to explore the passion further. Most people think that they are super expensive when in reality a group workshop can start from as little as £30. Single courses, group ones or even ones for couples, BBQ, sushi, candy, chocolates… whatever you fancy, I am sure you will find a course to suit your needs and requirements.

Chilli and Bubble Valentine’s Day Slate Cheeseboard  £34.99

Heartfelt and practical in equal measure, this chopping board has plenty of room for chopping and features loving Chilli and Bubble characters having a cuddle in the corner of the board plus you are free to add any personal message you wish (well sort of , as long as you can squeeze it in within 50 characters).
I actually own one of these boards and it is beautiful! And once the hype of Valentine’s Day is gone, your loved one is left with a wonderful board to enjoy daily. I really like gifts which are different, can be made personal yet are still practical.

These are my picks and I hope you enjoyed my list.

Have you come across something unusual which will make a wonderful gift for a foodie?

Spaghetti Alla Puttanesca

A quick, easy and delicious Italian dish which offers up quite an unusual flavour combination; tangy, a bit salty with a subtle warm peppery finish due to the use of fresh parsley…

A quick, easy and delicious Italian dish which offers up quite an unusual flavour combination; tangy, a bit salty with a subtle warm peppery finish due to the use of fresh parsley… There is a quite a lot of controversy on the internet about spaghetti alla puttanesca; fresh tomatoes versus tin ones; parsley versus basil; onions versus garlic; chilies or no chilies… Well at least most people tend to agree that the main and never changing ingredients should be olives and capers… the rest is optional… sort of…

My recipe is inspired by Italian Tomato Spaghetti by Bertolli. We made, as is our tendency, some changes to suit our refined palette and added some optional parmesan cheese (well according to Mark you simply can’t have a spaghetti dish with no cheese… I am sure most Italians (he isn’t Italian btw) would disagree but hey ho…).

If capers and anchovies aren’t to your liking, you might want to check out some of the other delicious Italian recipes on the Bertolli website, or you might, as I hope for, just give this one a try :-)

The recipe will serve four adults and it can be on your plate in less than 30 minutes.

A quick, easy and delicious Italian dish which offers up quite an unusual flavour combination; tangy, a bit salty with a subtle warm peppery finish due to the use of fresh parsley…

Ingredients:

  • 400g fresh spaghetti
  • 500g fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 75g black olives; de-stoned
  • 50g Bertolli with butter
  • 50g fresh anchovies in olive oil; chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic; finely sliced
  • 2tbsp capers
  • 2tbsp tomato puree
  • Handful of fresh parsley; chopped (for serving)
  • Handful of fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional for serving)

Method:

Half each cherry tomato.

Roughly chop half of the olives.

In a heavy bottom large frying pan melt the Bertolli, and add the anchovies and garlic and sauté until soft, which should take you about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the capers, olives (both chopped and whole), cherry tomatoes and tomato puree, stir well then cover with lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Use this time to chop the fresh parsley and grate some parmesan cheese if like Mark, you can’t have an Italian dish without it.

Cook spaghetti as per the pack instructions; if you are using fresh it should only take 2 or 3 minutes in simmering salted water. Drain it well and add into your sauce. Ideally you want your pasta al dente and definitely not overdone.

Make sure the spaghetti is well coated, then serve sprinkled with fresh parsley and that optional parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

A quick, easy and delicious Italian dish which offers up quite an unusual flavour combination; tangy, a bit salty with a subtle warm peppery finish due to the use of fresh parsley…

Have you ever tried spaghetti alla puttanesca?

What do you personally think about this flavour combination?

*Recipe commisioned by Bertolli.

Pomegranate & Passion Fruit Muffins

If you love fruits you will love these muffins; they are moist, zingy and very fruity, filled with crunchy seeds offering an unusual sensation in your mouth and a wonderful flavour combination on top, not to mention their totally divine smell… just being close to them you will instinctively know there are passion fruits somewhere around.

If you love fruits you will love these muffins; they are moist, zingy and very fruity, filled with crunchy seeds offering an unusual sensation in your mouth and a wonderful flavour combination on top, not to mention their totally divine smell… just being close to them you will instinctively know there are passion fruits somewhere around.Unfortunately for some of my readers this is not a sugar free recipe but I might just try to develop a sugar free version of them as they are truly something special.

To be honest I wasn’t planning on baking such fruit rich muffins but as I had some passion fruits close to their use by time and also I had just returned from a foodie shopping expedition carrying a small carry bag full of pomegranates (lately, this seems to be my “go to” fruit) and Mark was nagging me for some “normal” muffins, I decided to give these flavours a try. And oh boy, am I glad I did because I totally love the final effect. It’s so aromatic and unusual. I think the sensation of the crunchy seeds when biting into them makes them one of the kind.

If you love fruits you will love these muffins; they are moist, zingy and very fruity, filled with crunchy seeds offering an unusual sensation in your mouth and a wonderful flavour combination on top, not to mention their totally divine smell… just being close to them you will instinctively know there are passion fruits somewhere around.The recipe will make 6 full size muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 150g flour
  • 120ml milk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 30g butter; slightly melted
  • 4 passion fruit
  • 1 egg; lightly beaten
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • Giant handful of pomegranate seeds

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C and line a 6 muffin baking tray with paper or silicone muffin casings.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar.

In a second bowl mix the milk, butter, egg, vanilla essence and passion fruit pulp then gently hand whisk until combined.

Add the wet ingredients mixture to the dry ingredients mix and fold in until just combined. Do not under any circumstances over mix them or the muffins will come out tough.

Add the pomegranate seeds and mix in gentle till evenly distributed. Finally spoon the batter into your earlier prepared muffin cases.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 20-22 minutes. You want them well risen and lovely golden brown on top.

Remove from the oven and move onto a cooling rack.

Let them cool completely before serving (if you can withstand the super intense fruit aroma around the house that is).

If you love fruits you will love these muffins; they are moist, zingy and very fruity, filled with crunchy seeds offering an unusual sensation in your mouth and a wonderful flavour combination on top, not to mention their totally divine smell… just being close to them you will instinctively know there are passion fruits somewhere around.

If you love fruits you will love these muffins; they are moist, zingy and very fruity, filled with crunchy seeds offering an unusual sensation in your mouth and a wonderful flavour combination on top, not to mention their totally divine smell… just being close to them you will instinctively know there are passion fruits somewhere around.So, what do you think?

Have you ever had any kind of muffins with crunchy seeds before?