Beer 52 ~ Jonny’s (Favourite Ever) Review

When Beer 52 got in touch asking if I’d like to review one of their monthly boxes of craft beers, I knew just the right person for the job :)

Jonny, over to you…Beer 52 Review

When the box turned up I was impressed with the packaging, it looked pretty cool and would certainly make a great gift.

The box was filled with beers from all around Europe that I hadn’t heard of before and as I usually drink West country ale, it’s been nice to try something different.

In the box were 8 bottles, my favourite one being from the Barcelona Beer Company (5%). It tasted sophisticated and unusual. Apparently it’s a tribute to the city of Barcelona which sounds good to me! I finished the bottle by saying ‘that was bleddy ‘ansom’.Beer 52 Review

Mica (6%) had a tie on label which made it look pretty posh, and came from Spain. Seems to be 100% natural (although I can’t actually understand the label). Unfortunately it frothed everywhere when I opened it thereby mixing the sediment into the ale which was a shame.

Another one I particularly liked was Curtius (7%) which is a Belgium triple ale. I didn’t think I’d like it at 7% but it’s very nice, not too sweet & perfect ‘hoppiness’.

Oppigards won Best Swedish Beer Category 2 years running at Sweden’s largest beer festival. I found it quite hoppy and I really enjoyed trying it.

If you’re into craft beers, then I highly recommend giving Beer 52 a go as you’ll come across new flavours that you wouldn’t normally experience. The price works out at £3 a bottle, and when you consider you won’t find these beers in your local supermarket makes it really great value.

Thanks Beer 52!


PS if you fancy sending a box as a Christmas gift, enter the code Jane10 at checkout for £10 off! Code is valid until 16th September 2015 :)

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Slow Cooker Spiced Meatball Stew

This divine Spiced Meatball Stew can be left to cook in the slow cooker whilst you’re out at work, or simmered gently on the hob for around an hour. If you cook it on the stove, do keep an eye on the sauce, and add more water stock, or even more red wine to stop it from drying out or burning. A delicious mix of spiced pork meatballs in a hearty, healthy stew | The Hedgecombers

Before I started hanging out with Jonny, I had this thing where I couldn’t eat minced beef or pork. Or sausages. Or burgers. Or pretty much any processed meat (apart from bacon, obviously).

If I were to eat something mincey and found a ‘miscellaneous bit’, it was game over. My meal was done.

However, I have since come to understand that when you buy decent mince, from a decent butcher, the quality of the mince goes way up and the likelihood of miscellaneous bits goes way way down. Go figure.A delicious mix of spiced pork meatballs in a hearty, healthy stew | The Hedgecombers

Anyways, now I’m all mince happy I’d like to welcome you to the very first meatballs I’ve ever made (or ever eaten!)

The spice used in the meatball mixture is earthier than the ones used in the stew, and they complement each other superbly. They are spiced rather than spicy, so if you’re after heat, notch up the chilli powder. You can always fry up a little bit of the pork mixture for a couple of minutes before tasting to make sure you’ve got it spot on.

Spiced Meatball Stew

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 5-6 portions, depending on side dishes


  • 500g minced pork
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • A little fat for frying the meatballs
  • Stew
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 small aubergine, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 250ml red wine (or stock)
  • 4-6 dark green cabbage leaves such as Savoy or Cavolo Nero, shredded
  • 1 tin butter beans, drained


  1. Pop the minced pork into a large bowl. Add all the meatball spices and mush together with your hands until everything is well combined.
  2. If you want large meatballs (about the size of a golf ball) divide the mixture into 10 and squeeze, then roll into balls. If you prefer smaller meatballs (about the size of a walnut) divide into 20.
  3. Heat up a little fat (butter or dripping would be choice, but oil is fine too) and when it is hot, add the meatballs. Let them sit a while before moving, then try to get that same good colour all over, but without cooking them all the way through.
  4. Meanwhile add all the stew ingredients, minus the cabbage and butter beans, into a slow cooker. Add the meatballs and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6 hours (if you need to cook it longer, that's fine. there's plenty of juice so it won't dry out).
  5. Add the shredded cabbage and butter beans for the last half hour of cooking so they retain some bite and texture.
  6. Because no steam escapes from the slow cooker, the sauce sauce doesn't reduce so will be quite thin. If that doesn't appeal to you, mix a heaped teaspoon of cornflour with a splash of cold water until combines and pour that into the stew 10 minutes before the end of cooking and mix through well. This will thicken it up.
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Ham, Tarragon and Leek Quiche

This easy Ham, Tarragon and Leek Quiche is so simple to put together and will be on the table in well under an hour. Oh, and it tastes great, with the smoked ham and sweet juicy leeks being a match made in heaven.Ham, Tarragon and leek quiche - The Hedgecombers

It’s been one of those weeks where comfort food has featured heavily here. Maybe it’s to do with it finally feeling like autumn {hello sheepskin boots, fingerless gloves and colourful scarves}. Who knows.

What I do know is this quiche was top of our list of spoil-me food this week, which was nice because it took just minutes to knock up.

And now for my confession of the week…

“My name’s Janie and I bought ready made, ready rolled shortcrust pastry”

Ham, Tarragon and leek quiche - The Hedgecombers


Don’t think this ‘from scratch’ girl has ever bought the ready rolled stuff before, but hey things are busy here & I was after some instant gratification. And I guess I could have taken the ultimate short cut and got a takeaway, so that’s that justified :)

If you give this quiche a go, keep in mind when buying/picking your leeks that you only want to use the white part, where the layers are tightly bound and there’ll be no dirt hiding in between them. I managed to find a couple of really long ones with minimal green leafy bits, (although the green part didn’t go to waste – I just chopped them up as normal, washed them in warm water to removed the grit and they are in the fridge awaiting their début appearance). Of course, you could chop up and use the whole leek, you just won’t get that pretty disc pattern.

And as for the tarragon, you could use any herb in its place, fresh or dried but I just really fancied that aniseedy kick that goes soooooo well with eggy dishes. Yum.

Ham, Tarragon and Leek Quiche

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6-8 depending on sides


  • 320g shortcrust pastry
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
  • 180g smoked ham, chopped
  • 3 leeks, white part only cut into regular length circles
  • Small bunch of fresh tarragon
  • 9 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt & pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.
  2. Roll out the pastry and line a 10" quiche dish with it.
  3. Spread the mustard over the base of the pastry evenly, then top with the chopped smoked ham.
  4. Place the discs of leek over the ham, sprinkle with a tablespoon of fresh chopped tarragon and pour over the egg mixture.
  5. Sprinkle a little more tarragon over the top and bake for 30 minutes.
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Tea Time Treats ~ November 2014

Tea Time Treats is a monthly blog party hosted alternately by myself & Karen and is a fantastic way for bloggers to share their best recipes and get more traffic, comments and all-round bloggy love. This month it’s my turn to host, so keep reading to find out the theme!

Tea Time Treats

Curried sweet potato & red pepper soup. Mulled cider. Honey roast veg soup.

Hey my foodie friends! How’s it going in your corner of the globe? All is well here, the guide book I’m writing is slowly coming to a close. Visiting all these amazing places to eat that are quirky, exquisite or just plain good value has been my dream job! It will be hitting the publishers soon & we’re hoping it’ll be in Waterstone’s & Amazon by Christmas! Eek! It’s called Secret Kitchen: Southwest and I’ll be sure to share a link with you when it’s finally out there :)Tea Time Treats

Cowboy stew. Chilli hot chocolate. Slow cooker aduki bean stew. 

In the mean time, dust off your scales, hunt through your archives and give us your best recipes for this months theme of…


We want to see recipes for soups, smores, hot drinks, casseroles, hot toddy’s, warming snacks and absolutely anything else that could fit this theme, however tenuous! This is quite possibly my favourite theme of the entire year so let’s make it a cracker!

Please visit the other blogs participating & say say Hi & feel free to mention you found them via the Tea Time Treats challenge. We all love receiving comments and we get a lot of newer bloggers that find them extra special.

Oh, nearly forgot… HUGE thanks to Karen for last months party. She’s off on an adventure at the mo, but I’ll link to her round up as soon as she’s back on dry land!

Janie x


The small print…

1. Post your recipe on your blog with a link to Lavender and Lovage and The Hedgecombers – mention the relevant month’s host and attach the Tea Time Treats logo as shown on the event page.

2. Add Tea Time Treats in your blog post as a label/tag.

3. The recipe can be one of your own or one you’ve seen elsewhere.  You are welcome to republish old recipes/posts but please add the information about this challenge.

4. Please be as creative with the theme as you like.

5. If you share your post on twitter please mention @KarenBurnsBooth @Hedgecomber and use the #TeaTimeTreats hashtag in your tweet and we’ll retweet all those we see.

6. You do not need to enter every month to join in with the challenge.

7. Your post can be submitted for other blogging challenges, just make sure this complies with the rules of the other challenge.

8. Add your recipe link to the live linky posted at the bottom of every challenge post.

9. If using a recipe from another person, book, website, chef or blog, you must link back to the original recipe and not reproduce the recipe in full in your post. You must also use your OWN images for the recipe and not the original images, unless you have permission to do so, with appropriate links and any other information requested by the photo’s owner added to the image.

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Split Pea and Black Pepper Soup

The first time I had this soup was when my good friend Lynne cooked me up a big bowl one lunchtime. I still remember being won over by the layers of flavour and heat, especially when she told me there no chilli in it, just plenty of black pepper.A warming and super cheap soup, made from split peas and black pepper.

Whilst I adore black pepper, and we get through a bunch of it in our kitchen, I’d only ever used it as a seasoning before and never gone all out to discover its fiery nature when used in bulk.

A warming and super cheap soup, made from split peas and black pepper.

Lynne’s recipe called for lentils rather than split peas. There’s no real difference between the two, but the split peas take a little longer to cook. If you’re using lentils reduce the cooking time to 30-35 minutes. Oh, and neither lentils or split peas need soaking before cooking like other legumes.

Split Pea and Black Pepper Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 potato, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 250g yellow split peas
  • 3/4 litre vegetable stock, or water and a stock cube
  • Pinch of salt to season


  1. Fry the onion slowly in the oil for 5 or 6 minutes on a medium heat until softened. Add the potato, carrot and black pepper and fry for a couple minutes.
  2. Next add the split peas, garlic and stock and let simmer for 45 minutes (around 30 minutes if using lentils). Do keep an eye on it as you may find you need to top it up with more hot water as the peas break down and thicken the soup. Season with a little salt at the end of the cooking time.
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