Whipped & Charred: The Launch Of A Cook Book

If a new cook book could be released at the perfect time of year, it would be Whipped & Charred. A collection of cosy homely recipes, from the Thomas Curtis, Head Chef of ‘The Best Traditional Pub in Oxfordshire’, the White Heart, Witney. Thomas’ recipes reflect his family roots and celebrate really good food, but in an accessible way, that home cooks can enjoy too. He describes the book in his own words:

“I have lovingly put this book together as a tribute to my late father, Ian Curtis, who sadly passed away at Christmas in 2014. It is full of rich, homely content and a few memories and insights into my personal life and time working as a chef,” he says.

A wonderful idea of sharing homely and comforting recipes, whilst supporting and raising awareness of two charities; the British Heart Foundation; a charity which deals with one of the UKs biggest killers, heart disease; and secondly MIND, a charity for better mental health.

Choosing a favourite recipe from the book which includes so many favourite pub classics such as steak and onion pot pie, herby sausage rolls and an indulgent cauliflower cheese would be an almost impossible task. At this time of year, I could happily cook and enjoy one of the book’s recipes every evening! One recipe that really caught my eye though was the Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread, which sounds like a lovely twist on a traditional classic. Thomas has very kindly shared the recipe:

Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread and fresh raspberries

Preparation time: 4 hours 10 minutes (including cooling time) | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serves 6

A very quirky twist on tea and biscuits. We have substituted a small amount of the full fat milk for evaporated milk to really bring out a lovely malty flavour that goes so well with tea.


100g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
160g plain flour
1 tbsp lavender flowers
500ml full fat milk
100ml evaporated milk
60g caster sugar
6 Earl Grey teabags
3 sheets leaf gelatine
36 fresh raspberries


Preheat the oven to 190°c/170°c fan.

Beat the butter and 50g sugar together in a mixing bowl, until smooth.

Fold in the flour and lavender flowers to get a smooth and soft dough. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the dough is 1cm thick.

Cut into 12 fingers and place onto a baking tray. Prick with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar, chill and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a pale golden brown colour. Set aside to cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
  • In a heavy based saucepan heat up the full fat milk, evaporated milk and 60g caster sugar over a medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar until it just comes to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Allow to infuse for 20 minutes then remove the teabags, giving them a little squeeze to get the maximum flavour.
    Place the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes until they are soft and pliable.
  • Take them from the bowl and squeeze away any excess water, then gently stir into the warm milk and tea mixture until the gelatine fully dissolves.
  • Pour the mixture into six 100ml pudding moulds and place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
    To serve, fill a shallow dish with very hot water and submerge each panna cotta in for a few seconds to loosen up. Turn each one out onto the centre of a serving dish and garnish each with six fresh raspberries and two lavender biscuits.

I think this recipe would be so much fun to make for a family gathering, and it looks pretty impressive…plus anything involving tea and biscuits has to be a winner as far as I’m concerned!

Whipped and Charred retails at £20 and to ensure your money goes towards a good cause, buy a copy from the man himself at [email protected] or pop into the restaurant. It will be also be available to purchase from Amazon, book shops including Waterstones and online from www.mezepublishing.co.uk.


This post is not sponsored, but I am always delighted to support exciting local businesses and good causes


Let’s Talk About Chocolate

It seems like a good idea to talk about chocolate today; not only is it Monday (and quite frankly chocolate should be compulsory), but we are also only a couple a weeks away from Easter. A very brief interlude between the Spring festivities that begin with Valentines and pancake day and include my birthday and Mother’s Day.

The lovely people at Chocolate & Love were kind enough to send my some of their organic swiss chocolate to try out. Whilst becoming a chocolate taste tester for an afternoon sounds like the dream job, I did hesitate for a moment before agreeing! I am really fussy about chocolate and never really vary my choices; I’m very loyal to only a couple of brands of extra dark chocolate…one with added chilli, one without. So, I was kind of broadening my foodie horizons.

First impressions are very important, and as I unwrapped the Chocolate & Love gift box I was struck by just how incredibly pretty it was. Really distinctive packaging with gorgeous illustrations in a rainforest theme; like a beautiful picture book I would be tempted to buy in a bookshop (you know, for the children)!

Four flavours are included in the gift box, and they are also available separately in larger single bars;

Panama – 80% cocoa

Orange – 65% cocoa

Rich Dark – 71% cocoa

Sea Salt – 55% cocoa

My favourite was no surprise to me, the Panama, the 80% chocolate bar – it was deliciously bitter and smooth, and had a really pleasing snap when broken. Completely delicious with a cup of coffee! My second favourite was the Orange, which also had a nice high cocoa solids percentage. It had the lovely taste and scent of ‘proper’ oranges, thanks to the cold pressed natural orange oil added to the chocolate.

Mia and Joe loved the Sea Salt chocolate which surprsied me a little, as it has a strong distinctive flavour; not one you would necessarily think children would like. It would be really good for after dinner, as just a tiny piece has loads of flavour. It just proves that children should get to try as many flavours as possible, and the Sea Salt chocolate was a great hit. They have been pestering me for some for Easter!

Take a look at Chocolate & Love’s site for details about the love story that led to the founding of the company and for more about their excellent ethical organic values.


Chocolate & Love were kind enough to send me a gift box to review. All opinions and words are my own.