Sunday, 29 April 2012

Spring chicken crowd pleaser

You know those weekends when the hoards descend and you need an easy and tasty recipe?  I have such a recipe.  I rarely share main course recipes because I'm not very good at savoury dishes and I rarely find something worthy of a blog.  This recipe deserves to be posted.

I'll give you the ingredients for four people but it's easy to make more, pan sizes permitting.


  • 1 onion
  • 500g chicken - the recipe says boneless, skinless chicken thighs but I don't think it matters if the joints are chicken breast or if they still have the skin on but chicken breasts should be cut in two
  • 300g small new potatoes
  • 425ml veg stock (from stock cube)
  • 350g broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 350g spring greens (I substituted french beans as my children wouldn't eat spring greens)
  • 140g petit pois
  • a bunch of spring onion
  • 2 tbsp pesto (the green basil variety - I didn't have any jar pesto so I whizzed up some fresh)


  • Heat some oil in a pan and fry the chicken until lightly coloured.
  • Add the onion and fry gently until softened.  The recipe says to do this the other way round but I can't get colour on the chicken if there's already onion in the pan.
  • Add the potatoes, stock and some freshly ground pepper and bring to the boil.
  • Cover and simmer for 30 mins until potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked.
  • (You can freeze at this point if you want to.)
  • Add the broccoli, spring greens (french beans), petit pois and spring onions, stir well and return to boil.
  • Cover then cook for 5 mins.
  • Stir in pesto and heat through.
  • Serve.

You can choose different green veg for this dish but the size of the veg needs to be small enough to cook in about 5 mins.

It's the pesto that makes this dish special and it really is easy to make (and there's not much washing up either).

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Lateral thinking

I've always thought that I'm quite lucky to be working in marketing for an automotive company.  It has to be more exciting than working in marketing for an aggregates company doesn't it?

Well the answer is probably yes but I've found a lovely bit of aggregate marketing that is very clever.

Whilst driving along a road I saw a ginormous pothole and thought "Somebody needs to know about that."  I stopped, took a picture and then thought "So who do I tell?"


I could phone Brentwood Council who would tell me it was a Highways concern which is managed by the County Council and they'd give me a phone number which wouldn't be answered and I'd get annoyed and I might try again but to no avail.  The lack of commas in that sentence was deliberate.  It should have left you gasping for breath. expiring as well as exasperated.

I could use Twitter but the Council ignore tweets with gay abandon.

I could use Facebook but that can be ignored quite easily too.  Either that or a placatory response can be posted but no action taken.

What I needed was an app.  As is usual in these scenarios, I find my genius idea has already been invented by someone quicker and smarter than me, and this time it was someone who worked in aggregate marketing.

If you check out you'll find the link to this app.  This app allows you to report a pothole with a really simple interface and whilst the website is branded with CTC - The UK's National Cyclists Organisation, the funding behind the app is Aggregate industries at

The link was obvious to me.  Aggregate is what is used to fill potholes.  It's the perfect way to generate demand for your product.  It also happens to be timed to coincide with a doubling of the funding pot for pothole repairs as announced by the Government here.

Very clever lateral thinking.


If you're searching for my pothole you need to look for Hazard number #66845


Monday, 16 April 2012

A job you wouldn't want

I have reached the end of my tether as far as TalkTalk are concerned.

The problems I blogged about a while ago have continued.

On March 26th TalkTalk wrote to me advising that a new Direct Debit Instruction has been set up for my account.  (The previous instruction had been cancelled by TalkTalk in error.)

Today they have sent me a red reminder about an outstanding balance (caused by the cancellation of the Direct Debit) and they helpfully suggest that I register, or reinstate a Direct Debit for my Tiscali service.

  1. They have a Direct Debit mandate and can take money owing.
  2. Tiscali is the old name for TalkTalk and hasn't been used for years but the debt collection department haven't bothered to update their letter.
  3. The red reminder threatens to "restrict" my service.

I'm beyond angry and frustrated into a whole new stratosphere of something beyond anger and frustration.  Were the delightful Mr Fry here he would use his enormous brain to provide me with suitable words to describe my mood.

The call centre staff have had plenty of opportunities to resolve this, as have the Twitter Social Media team so I went to the next level.  I discovered a TalkTalk Facebook page but posts were disabled. I left a comment on a post but it wasn't good enough, I needed a more satisfying outlet.

I googled "TalkTalk CEO e-mail address" and my trusty CEO e-mail address site popped up:

Consequently Dido Harding received an e-mail outlining my woes and requesting intervention, but that still didn't float my boat ( if you're interested).

I then thought that I needed to leave TalkTalk so started a Google search relating to that and found people who had found it difficult to leave TalkTalk.  It was then I found the TalkTalk Community forum.  I started started surfing through the thousands and thousands of complaints and issues that had been posted.  I spotted that there was only one person responding to all of these forum posts.  Em, at TalkTalk, seems to be the only person who deals with all of the angry and frustrated people who are on the receiving end of TalkTalk's legendary appalling Customer Service.  I wouldn't want her job for all the tea in China, or anywhere else for that matter.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Gluten free key lime pie

I wanted a gluten free dessert for an Easter family gathering and came across this recipe.  It wasn't gluten free when I found it, but with a small adaptation it could be and it was also easy to make.



For the base

  • 350g gluten free digestive biscuits (gluten free digestives are sold in Tesco and Sainsbury but if you don't have an allergy/intolerance to gluten then just use normal digestives)
  • 125g unsalted butter

For the filling

  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 400ml full fat condensed milk (I used low fat)
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 4 limes
  • 50g golden caster sugar (I used normal granulated)


  • Preheat oven to 160°C (fan oven) and grease a deep 25cm fluted tart tin with a loose bottom.  I don't think my tart tin was very deep and it would have been better if it had been deeper.  This is the one I used.
  • To make the base crush the biscuits either in a bag using a rolling pin or using a food processor.
  • Melt the butter and mix with the biscuit crumbs.  When I did this I lacked faith and panicked and added more butter.  Don't do what I did.  Have faith and follow the recipe.
  • Press the biscuit and butter mixture into the greased tin on the base and up the sides to make the pie case.  If you don't have a tart tin then you can use a springform tin instead but it won't look quite as pretty.
  • Bake the case in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  My case shrank in the oven and I nearly threw the thing in the bin.  I think that might have been because I messed with the recipe and added too much butter.  But just in case your case shrinks too, then just make up a little extra biscuit and butter mix and do a DIY fix up job where it shrank (but don't re-bake the case).  This might not matter if you have a very deep tart tin but if you don't then you will need the sides of the case to be as tall as possible to contain the filling.
  • For the filling, beat the egg yolks until they are light and fluffy and then beat in the condensed milk, lime zest and juice.
  • In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar until firm.
  • Gently fold the egg whites into the lime mixture using a large metal spoon.
  • Fill the biscuit base with the lime mixture and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until set and slightly browned around the edges.  When I filled my base I had a little bit too much filling for the size of my base.  I also had a bit extra base mix after my DIY fix it job on the base.  I used the extra biscuit base in a couple of ramekins and baked for a few minutes and then added the spare filling thus making two extra mini desserts.  Also, when baking the main pie I saw that one edge of the pie went a light brown colour quite quickly so I spent the whole of the baking time gradually turning the pie in the oven so it cooked evenly.
  • Once out of the oven, the pie, not you, leave to cool.  The pie will shrink a bit so don't worry this is normal.
  • I remove from the tin by putting the tin on a bowl and gradually removing the edge of the tart tin downwards allowing me to lift the pie away from the edge bit of the tin.  I've not been brave enough to remove from the base of the tin.  That just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
  • Just before serving, dust the pie lightly with icing sugar.  You could go the whole hog and do fancy decoration with lime slices and mint leaves like the person who wrote the recipe in the first place, like this. Or not.

Key Lime Pie 2 A0