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Luscious Chocolate Recipes

Ok, you’ve guessed! We’re total chocoholics and we want to share our love with you! Here are some more of our favourite recipes from Menier, the cooking chocolate we couldn’t be without.
Mexican Pinto Bean, Sweet Pepper & Garlic Soup with an Avocado Salsa  – Serves 4-6 Ingredients:

Mexican Pinto Bean, Sweet Pepper & garlic Soup with Avocado Salsa

Mexican Pinto Bean, Sweet Pepper & Garlic Soup with Avocado Salsa

Soup 5 tbsp olive oil 1 medium red onion, finely diced 6 garlic cloves, crushed 1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped 1 red pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped 1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp smoked paprika 2 tbsp tomato purée 1 tin pinto beans, drained 2 tins chopped tomatoes 400ml vegetable stock 35ml red wine vinegar 1 tbsp white sugar 30g Menier dark chocolate 1 tsp salt Large pinch ground black pepper Avocado Salsa 1 ripe avocado ½ red onion, finely diced ½ red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped 1 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped Juice of 1 lime 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil Large pinch salt To make the soup: Heat the olive oil in a medium/large saucepan. Once hot, add the onions, garlic and red and yellow peppers, stir and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the onion and peppers start to colour and soften. Add the fresh red chilli and all the ground spices – cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander and smoked paprika – then gently cook for approximately 15 – 20 minutes. If it starts to catch on the bottom, add a little water. Add the red wine vinegar, sugar and tomato purée, stir and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Add the pinto beans, chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and gently simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, to make the avocado salsa, peel, stone and finely dice the avocado. Place in a bowl and combine with the red onion, chilli, coriander, extra virgin olive oil and lime juice.  Season with the salt, and set to one side. To serve: Ladle the soup into 4 pre-heated bowls and top with a good spoonful of the avocado salsa, a dollop of sour cream, and a drizzle extra virgin olive oil. The soup should be served piping hot.
White Chocolate, Raspberry and Lime Drizzle Cake     Serves 8 – 10 Ingredients:

White Chocolate, Raspberry and Lime Drizzle Cake

White Chocolate, Raspberry and Lime Drizzle Cake

Lime Syrup: Juice of 5 limes Zest of 1 lime 140g golden caster sugar Cake Mix: 220g golden caster sugar 225g unsalted butter, softened 4 medium-sized eggs Juice of 2 limes Zest of 1 lime 25g ground almonds 210g raspberries 100g Menier white chocolate, chopped 250g self-raising flour For the cake: Pre heat oven to 160°C. Line the base and sides of a 22cm square cake tin with greaseproof paper, then butter the paper and set aside. Cream the sugar and butter together until light in colour and texture, then gradually beat in the eggs. If they start curdling, add a little flour, folding in gently. Add the lime zest, followed by the rest of the flour and the ground almonds. Next, add the lime juice one spoonful at a time, as you don’t want the mixture to be too wet. (It needs to be dropping consistency.) Gently fold in ¾ of the white chocolate and the raspberries, then pour the mixture into the lined cake tin. Give the tin a little shake to ensure that the mixture spreads evenly to the corners.  Place the rest of the chocolate and raspberries on top. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is firm to touch. To make the lime syrup: Put the lime juice and sugar in a small saucepan and place on a moderate heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat and add the lime zest. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick the cake all over with a metal skewer, then pour the syrup all over the top of the cake. Leave for 1 hour so that the cake absorbs all of the syrup. To serve: Remove the cake from the tin, then gently pull away the greaseproof paper. Cut into wedges and dust with icing sugar.
Hot Chocolate Mocha – Makes 2 generous cups Ingredients:

Hot Chocolate Mocha

Hot Chocolate Mocha

100g Menier dark chocolate 400ml whole milk 20ml double cream 1 tsp vanilla essence 1 cinnamon stick 50ml strong coffee 2 tbsp orange blossom honey For garnish; 2 cinnamon sticks (optional) Put the chocolate in to a heatproof bowl and set to one side. Place the milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon stick, honey and the coffee in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, set aside to steep for 30 minutes. When the milk mixture has steeped, place the saucepan back on the heat and bring back to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the milk subside. Pour a small amount of the hot milk and cream over the chocolate and stir to a smooth consistency, then gradually pour in the remaining milk, stirring gently until the chocolate is completely melted. Return the chocolate mixture to the saucepan and reheat gently. Don’t let it boil at this stage or it might split. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk to a foam using a balloon whisk or a cappuccino frother. Pour into pre-warmed cups or heat proof glasses and garnish each with a cinnamon stick.
More Cooking with Chocolate features:
Cooking with Chocolate – Gifts for all occasions
Cooking with Chocolate – Sweet and Savoury
Chocolate Cake for Coeliacs
Menier Swiss premium cooking chocolate is available in major supermarkets nationwide with a RRP of £1.19.
Val Reynolds, Editor


Cooking with Chocolate – Gifts for any occasion

We love cooking with chocolate and here are just a few of our favourites to keep handy when friends drop by. Chocolate Truffles, Creamy Vanilla Fudge with Chocolate and Nuts, Chocolate and Cinnamon Swirl Meringues, the list goes on and on! So easy to make too! All in our absolutely favourite book: Gifts from the Kitchen, 100 irresistible homemade presents for every occasion by Annie Rigg, published by Kyle Cathie.

Here is one recipe we make once in a blue moon because it hardly ever is used for what it is intended for … spreading on toast, or as a layer in a sponge cake, or as a topping to cookies. It is so yum it generally gets eaten direct from the jar! Oh well, we have no resistance – do try it!

Chocolate and Hazel Spread  Read more »


Cooking with Chocolate – Sweet and Savoury

Home baking is having a revival and cooking with chocolate is always fun – the smell is enough to send everyone to the kitchen to see what’s up!

Using cooking chocolate is the way to go. We recently made some Cake Pops.

The pops themselves were made from crumbed sponge cake mixed with butter cream and then formed into balls.

The first coat was a pink candy melt. Then, as an experiment, a coating of Menier white chocolate. We were really impressed with this chocolate, it melted quickly, had a good dipping consistency, and the taste! Well … let’s say we won’t be using anything else in future!

Then on with a coat of dark chocolate, again it melted and dipped well, holding the final decoration perfectly.

We loved the creamy taste of both the milk and white chocolate, the dark chocolate was pleasantly rich.





Ever used chocolate in savoury dishes?

Here’s a recipe for Braised Venison with Autumn Roots and Chocolate Sauce


600g venison (diced leg/shoulder)
2 tbsp seasoned flour
6 tbsp olive oil
150g smoked bacon lardons
3 shallots, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5 Chantenay carrots, quartered
3 medium turnips, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
3 flat mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 heaped tbsp thyme
1 heaped tbsp rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves
700ml red wine
300ml beef stock
30g Menier dark chocolate, finely chopped
40g butter
2 heaped tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 tsp salt and a large pinch of pepper
Serves 2 – 4
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.

Pour half of the olive oil into a large ovenproof casserole dish and heat over a medium heat.  Add the lardons of bacon and cook for 4-5 minutes or until crisp and slightly browned, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Put the diced venison in to a bowl with the seasoned flour and toss well.  Ensure all of the meat is well coated and shake off the excess flour. Put the casserole dish back over a medium heat. Once hot (you may need to add a little more oil at this point), add the venison in batches and cook until the meat is browned on all sides. Remove from the casserole dish and set aside with the lardons of bacon.

Add the rest of the olive oil to the casserole dish and heat over a medium heat, then add the garlic, shallots and celery and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the carrots, turnip, mushrooms and herbs and cook for about 10 minutes on a low-medium heat or until the vegetables and shallots are slightly browned. Stir frequently.

Return the venison and bacon to the casserole dish and stir gently. Add the red wine and bring to the boil, then add the beef stock and season with the salt and pepper. Bring back to the boil, then cover with a tight fitting lid and transfer to the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 1½ – 1¾ hours, or until the meat is tender.

Once the meat is tender, remove from the oven and strain the meat and vegetables though a large sieve, retaining the liquid. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and bring back to the boil. Place the venison and the vegetables back into the casserole dish and cover to keep warm.

Once the liquid is boiling, whisk in the redcurrant jelly and re-heat gently. Lower the heat and whisk in the butter and the chocolate. Add small amounts gradually to ensure the chocolate does not split and go grainy. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Pour the sauce over the venison and vegetables and stir well.

Serve with creamed celeriac and steamed greens.

You may like to see another of our features:
Cooking with Chocolate – Gifts for all occasions
Chocolate Cake for Coeliacs

Menier Swiss premium cooking chocolate is available in major supermarkets nationwide with a RRP of £1.19.

Cake Pops created and photographed by Laura MacClelland 

Val Reynolds, Editor


Puppy Problems Solved 5: Winnie’s friend Henry learns not to eat stones



Written from Winnie’s point of view

Ooh, was that the doorbell? I’d better go and see who it might be …

If I press my nose up against the glass like this I can almost see through. Looks like two people, and wait, I know that shape – it looks like my best friend Henry, the Labrador!

Ah, Claire, I’m so excited, hurry up and open the door!

Winnie, calm down, I can’t open the door if you’re pressed up against it. Get down girl …


Henry, Henry, Henry. I’m so pleased to see you. Let me chew your ear for a minute, no, I need to jump on you, oh I’m so pleased to see you!

Oh Winnie, you have to calm down, ouch, that hurts!

Blah blah blah, Henry’s a bit poorly, blah blah blah. Be careful Winnie …

Don’t send me to my basket Claire. I just want to see Henry, we usually play this rough, what’s different?

Henry, what’s up, why won’t they let us play like normal?

Oh, Winnie, it’s been awful. I’ve been so ill. Be gentle, I’ve got a poorly side.

Don’t look sad Henry. Sorry if I hurt you, I didn’t know you were ill.

I’ve been very ill – and in so much pain. I had to go the doggy hospital and everything!

Oh no, not the doggy hospital! Oh Henry, what happened?

I’ve been very silly. But you know how I like to eat stones!

Eat stones?! Oh Henry, you’re not still doing that are you?  I thought you’d stopped – remember all that fuss last time?

I know. I just love them – I don’t know why. Anyway, this time I had to go and have an operation at the doggy hospital.  It was awful, I was so scared – and Laura had to leave me there.  She was so upset. I felt awful. They put me to sleep and when I woke up I had such a pain in my side – it was better than the pain in my tummy before the operation, but now I just feel sore and I’m not allowed to go on long walks.  Winnie … they’d cut me open to get the stones out!

Poor Henry, you really should stop eating stones then shouldn’t  you?  Let’s just have a quiet cuddle then. I know you didn’t mean to upset Laura, and I’m sure she understands …

Yes, she’s been very good.  She looks after me so well. I was in such pain, I’m sure I’ll never eat stones again …

I hope so Henry. Really only very small puppies usually eat stones. I know I chewed a couple and Claire always caught me before I could swallow them.

Well, I snuck away from Laura and she didn’t see. She’d have given me a right telling off if she knew. After I ate this one, it was a bit big, I had this terrible pain in my tummy. It was unbelievable!

Do you feel better now?

I do, but I’ve just got to take it easy whilst my stitches heal.

Oh Henry, I’m just glad you’re okay.


I wish I knew the answer to this problem, but I don’t! I can make some suggestions and offer a word of warning, but why dogs do this I really don’t know.

Perhaps they are bored, perhaps they are inquisitive, perhaps scraps of food from a barbecue have fallen on the ground? Whatever the reason, definitely they are being stupid! Unfortunately, they don’t make any connection between the sore tummy (and possible operation) with eating stones. Dogs live in the moment and would only learn if the undoubted agony happened immediately. However puppies will be puppies, so we must do our best to protect them. Some of the smaller pebbles can pass through, depending upon the breed. It might be a good idea to fence off gravelled areas, possibly spray with bitter apple or some such anti-chew preparation.

The word of warning concerns mulch. Please be sure to read the label as some mulch has been flavoured with Cocoa and (as I’m sure you know) chocolate – especially the darker chocolate – can be fatal to dogs. Even if the label states it is safe for dog, it isn’t if cocoa is listed. Greedy dogs can eat huge amounts of this and the consequences can be horrific. Sorry to end on such a glum note, but better safe than sorry.

Pat Thomas bred her first litter in 1971 and has bred Border Collies, Irish Setters, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Papillions, Labradors and, of course, Golden Retrievers.

Although Winnie is not yet in season most of her litter is booked. This is usually the case, although too many of one sex can be a problem. As a Kennel Club Accredited Breeder, Pat has free access to the K.C. website and if she have any puppies not sold, she puts them on there. However, mostly the pups are sold by word of mouth and families returning for a second, third and even a fourth puppy.

Winnie’s Woes Part 7 – Winnie Moves On
Winnie’s Woes Part 6 – Winnie Learns about Children
Winnie’s Woes Part 5 – Winnie’s friend Henry learns not to eat stones
Winnie’s Woes Part 4 – Winnie learns about other dogs
Winnie’s Woes Part 3 – Winnie Eats too much
Winnie’s Woes Part 2 – Winnie eats a shoe
Winnie’s Woes Part 1 – Winnie finds digging is not a popular activity!


Grow Your Own Potatoes for Free!


*Free Potato Collection – Worth £15.00

Thompson & Morgan are offering a fabulous Potato KIT FREE* for every visitor – worth £15.00!

What you get in the kit: 5 x tubers of Potato ‘Vales Emerald’ – A Maris Peer/Charlotte cross with an RHS Award of Garden Merit that is proving to be very popular. Potato ‘Vales Emerald’ produces generous yields of oval, cream-skinned and pale fleshed tubers. Perfect for your first potatoes of the year, and a simply delicious as a salad potato. Height and spread: 60cm (24″).

1 x potato planter – Holds approximately 40 litres of multipurpose compost (sufficient to plant 3 or 4 tubers).

5 x packets of vegetable seed – Receive 5 packets of quality vegetable seeds. The vegetable seeds will be chosen by Thompson & Morgan and may vary from those illustrated. *Just pay £4.95 postage


GO to and enter Offer Code: AF11109 in the box labelled “Enter catalogue or newspaper code:” This will ensure the £15 is crossed out and only the postage is applicable.

Terms &Conditions: Offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer code and is only valid with orders placed online

START DATE: NOW        END DATE: Midnight Sunday 27th November 2011

This is a really generous offer – 5 tubers of top quality potatoes, packets of seeds, and a planter bag which you can reuse for subsequent crops, or other vegetables. For instance, we have just planted two lots of asparagus in planters. Such a neat and easy way to grow vegetables, especially plants that need to be kept under control.

So if you are interested, don’t delay, apply today!

Happy gardening! Val Reynolds, Editor


Fashion in Motion V&A Fashion Shows – Open to the public and free of charge

Yohji Yamamoto V&A Exhibition

Yohji Yamamoto V&A Exhibition

The work of Yohji Yamamoto, the influential and enigmatic fashion designer, was exhibited at the V&A earlier this year, here is a link. The exhibition made it possible to get up close to the exhibits, view from all anglers, examine at the detail, the variety of fabrics, the unusual pattern cutting and then compare other examples of work, a fascinating experience. We spent a happy couple of hours in the various galleries where the work located.

Then a fashion show in the Fashion in Motion series open to the public and free of charge, was put on by the Victoria and Albert Museum in July and we had the opportunity to see Yamamoto garments in motion, which is so much more interesting than static models.

Laura McClelland, our fashion editor, comments: The show revealed the typically edgy Yamamoto style – both the fashion and the models who were “ordinary” couples taken from the street but far from ordinary once having had a catwalk training session, perfectly complimenting the Yamamoto neo-goth/punk styling of his clothing.

I loved the idea of the couples who were so suited for it, whispering to each other as they came down the catwalk.

The womenswear pieces shown were a selection of beautifully de-constructed fabrics and shapes that have a fluid movement once in motion. Although Yamamoto is well known for his androgynous look I felt many of the pieces were very feminine with their effortless, subtle tailoring.

The men’s pieces were a selection of over-sized tailored styles with some intricate embroidery detailing.

The latest Fashion in Motion show was on 18 November that showed the work of London-based label, Peter Jensen.

We will let you know when the next show is to be held. The tickets are in great demand so you need to be quick to get one. If you don’t manage to get a ticket the show will be broadcast live on the day. Again we will let you know the link in due course.

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

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