Steak School with Miller & Carter

steak schoolThis week I went back to school, Steak School that is to learn all about steaks and how to cook them.  Miller & Carter organised the event to celebrate their recent Eblex award win for England’s Best Sirloin steak.  Miller & Carter are owned by Birmingham based Mitchells & Butlers and it was great to find out more about a local firm.

So who are Eblex?  They are the organisation for the beef and lamb industry and they introduced the awards this year to recognise and reward quality, innovation and excellence in beef and lamp production.  There are 3 different competitions: Best Sirloin Steak, Best Innovative Steak and Best Steak Pie.  Miller & Carter entered its 12oz sirloin steak to win the best ‘Foodservice’ category.

meat skills expertWe found all about how Miller & Carter source their steaks and it taught us a lot about steak as we went along.  I was brought up as very much a carnivore and meat was an important part of our family’s life.  I spent a lot of time in butchers’ shops (or so it seemed) and the freezer was always full of meat.  My husband isn’t quite such a dedicated meat-eater and isn’t as keen on beef as I am.  Hence, I don’t very often cook steak, but I often choose it when we go out for a meal. It was good to hear that Miller & Carter source their meat very carefully and it is all reared on British farms. It’s important to me that my meat is produced ethically and I think it tastes better when a bit of care has gone into producing it.  I was impressed with the care taken with the steaks in the kitchen and it certainly makes sense when you think it takes so long to produce the product, it deserves respect in the kitchen too.  Traceability goes all the way to the table too, which is fantastic.

perfect diamonds on steakNext up we learnt how to cook our steaks and get the perfect diamond shape.  It was very simple and I’d like to do it at home, but apparently using a griddle pan is not the way as it doesn’t heat evenly.

So some of the key tips I picked up were:

  • Choose good quality meat.
  • Let your steak breathe for 20-30 minutes before cooking.  Letting it come up to room temperature will help it stay tender.
  • A good coating of oil (rapeseed ideally) and a seasoning of rock salt and pepper will get your steak ready for the pan or grill.
  • Cook on a high temperature as this will help seal the meat to lock in the flavour.
  • Let it rest before serving.

perfect accompaniment to steakI loved that all the Miller & Carter steaks come served with parsley butter, seasoned fries, a slice of moreish onion loaf and a balsamic glazed beef tomato.  They also come with your choice of lettuce wedge and steak sauce.  It’s good that all these come included – I don’t like being charged extra for things that I feel are part of my main course.

Trying Out Degustabox

Degustabox April 2015Degustabox is a monthly subscription surprise tasting box. Every month they select and send out an exciting range of new and limited edition food products from well-known brands.  I’ve come across these surprise subscription boxes before in the beauty world, but the difference here is that the box contains lots of lovely things to eat and drink.  This is the haul that we got in this month’s box and you can see it’s quite impressive.  The boxes cost £12.99 per month and the pack is worth approximately twice that and delivery is included, which I think is excellent value.

snacks in the monthly subscription boxI liked that there was a wide range of goodies from things to use in cooking from scratch to snacks and drinks.  Obviously, I’m familiar with Nando’s the restaurant chain, but I hadn’t realised that they made snacks too with similar flavours to their restaurant food.  We have been trying out a range of drinks too from soft drink cans like these from Scheckters which are natural energy drinks and these from Idrinq which contain a useful range of vitamins and nutrients.  Barry’s Tea is a brand I’ve been meaning to try for a while as Irish friends rave about it.  I’ve been impressed by the strength of the tea bags – so often I find that tea bags don’t contain enough tea or enough good quality tea and you end up waiting ages for a brew.  These probably aren’t for you if you like a weaker cup though. Those that like something a little stronger will have their eye on the Kingfisher beer. We were sent items from the alcohol box and the alcohol free box for the purposes of this review.  There was also a delicious soft drink: Wonjo Hibiscus. This had a lovely exotic flavour and was made from 100% natural ingredients.

I tried out some of the microwaveable rice from Veetee for my lunches last week.  This was a really quick and tasty way to get a meal for one.  You’d want to use it with something else if it was your main meal, but it’s perfect a side dish or a snack.  It took just 2 minutes in the microwave and doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge – a nice one to take to work if you have access to a microwave. For when you are planning to do a little more in the way of preparation, there are some quality tomato products from Cirio.  These are ideal for using if you are making a ragu or a bolognese.  For curry fans that like a little help with the seasoning, there are a couple of Schwartz’s packet curries.

kinder and debeukelaerThose with a sweet tooth aren’t forgotten either and there are Creamy Cookies from Debeukelaer (how good do they look?) and some chocolate treats from Kinder.

We’ve really enjoyed trying out a range of items from different quality food brands.  We have tried out different brands for familiar items like tea and tried out some new products, which we might not have thought to buy.  Even if you don’t want to try everything in your box, you are still getting excellent value for money. If you’d like to try out a box readers can get a £3.00 discount when registering. The discount code to use for your Degustabox is WCEKC.

Maille Mustard’s Summer Menu

maille mustard summer menuGoing to a bistro was quite the thing in the seventies.  The rustic style of French cooking seemed to appeal and the checked tablecloths were a stylistic feature.  They tended to fall a bit out of fashion later, but there has been a resurgence of interest recently, in fact there is quite a gastro-bistro trend going on. For their latest seasonal collection, Maille have taken on the vibe and the tastes of the classic French bistro.

So what’s on the summer menu?

Mustard with Aubergine and a Hint of Rosemary

Suggested as an accompaniment to a goat cheese tarte tatin or a fillet of red mullet, this mustard packs in traditional Mediterranean flavours like aubergine and rosemary.  It has a smooth texture and the aubergine provides a slightly smokey flavour which combines well with the aromatic rosemary.

Mustard with Red & Green Peppers, White Wine and a Touch of Espelette Chilli

Perfect paired with a classic French chicken supreme or a beef tartare or even a fillet of cod, this punchy mustard mixes red and green peppers, with the spicy taste of the espelette chilli.  This is a mustard that can lift a dish and take it to another level.  If your meal is a little bland, try a little on the side to provide some zing.

Mustard with Rhubarb, Strawberry and White Wine

Strawberries are the taste of summer for me and rhubarb is making a comeback this year.  This is a great mustard to team up with a yoghurt or maybe some eggy bread.

I have another set of summer menu mustards to giveaway to readers of A Little Luxury For Me, so if you’d like to win enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Competition Terms and Conditions
1. No bulk, third-party or automated entries.

2. Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older.

3. The winners will be chosen by a random draw.

4. The winner will be notified by email and will have a week to claim their prize. Should they fail to respond within this time, an alternative winner will be selected.

5. Promoter is responsible for fulfilling the prize and full contact details of the winner will be passed onto the promoter.

6. Competition closes on 15 May 2015.
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