Friday, February 27, 2009

Easy Friday night - Soup, scones + cake

Basil is home........yippee! He's been bike training in Lanzarote so to welcome him home we required a carb fest. I made some cute little cheesy soda scones, as taught to me by 'She who Must be Obeyed' (aka Darina Allen, you don't mess with Darina!) at Ballymaloe. I added some parsley to the dough for a little change.

450g plain flour
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1 tsp salt
500ml milk with a dash of lemon or 500ml buttermilk
2tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 230. Sieve together the dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Add the herbs now and mix again. Make a well in the middle and pour in most of the milk. Hold your hand stiff and shaped like a claw and gently mix the ingredients together. Handle the mix as little as possible. Tip out onto a floured surface, gently pat the mixture together. Cut into little shapes, then place on a floured baking sheet. into the oven for 12-15mins, until their bottoms sound hollow when you tap them.
We had the scones with Leek and Potato Soup, with Chocolate Amaretti Cake for puds...........I know, again..........I'm addicted!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And to dessert - Chocolate Amaretti Cake

Oooh look at that. Now that is what I want to end my day with. Rich, moist, dense and chocolatey.

This recipe was taught to me at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel Allen was doing the demonstration that day, so whilst the female half of the audience drooled over the food, the male attendees.....well I think you can guess what they were drooling over.

Khao soy - yellow curry

I had this dish for the first time in Thailand in November. Elbowing a little Thai granny out the way to get a seat at a very crowded food stall, then perching on a little Thai-person sized stool. Hmmm and then the problem of ordering when I don't speak Thai. Aaah but it was all worth it, Khao soy is available all over the north of the country and above is my version (hey the boyfriend made this one, nice one Stokesy!).

And for once I'll give the full recipe.....first make your paste........oh and please don't look at this and think 'it's too long, there are too many ingredients'. I taught this at my Thai cookery day and everyone got to grips with this no problem and agreed it was way easier than it seemed from the first glance at the recipe.

Yellow paste:
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp lemongrass
½ tbsp ginger, grate or finely chopped
3 large red chillies, deseeded and chopped
½ tbsp garlic, chopped
1 tbsp shallots, chopped
2½ tbsp curry powder, garam masala
½ tsp salt

Dry fry the cumin and coriander seed in a pan over a low heat. Crush in the mortar to a fine powder.
Add the lemongrass and ginger, pound until smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients and pound into a paste
NB: This can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for 3 months

Now make your dish

2 tbsp groundnut oil
2 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tbsp Khao soy yellow curry paste
2 x chicken thighs, 2 x chicken legs - all bone in
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
100g flat egg noodles
1 tsp chicken stock powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp fresh coriander
Add Khao soy accompaniments – lime wedges, pickled greens and finely sliced shallots

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the coconut milk and curry paste and cook over a very gentle heat to release the flavours and fragrance. Skimp on time at this stage and the flavour will be compromised.
Add the chicken, coconut milk and water and boil gently until the chicken is cooked (about 30 minutes).
Cook the noodles in boiling water according to packet instructions. Then refresh in cold water to stop them cooking too much.
Going back to your curry….Add the stock powder, sugar and fish sauce. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes then serve.
To serve: put the boiled noodles in a bowl, spoon over the curry. Garnish with coriander. Your guests should help themselves to the accompaniments and add them to their bowls.

The authentic version added deep fried noodles as a final topping but I leave that stage out because I burn them without fail.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Torta di Ciocolatta

Mmmm more party food. This is the posh version of the Chocolate Danger I wrote about earlier in the week. Whipped butter/chocolate/eggs encasing toasted almonds, hazelnuts and crushed biscuit. One of the latest additions to my catering menu. Testing to perfect this recipe was really tough.

Mini Fruit Pavlovas

Don't these look gorgeous! Yes I know not only can I cook but I'm pretty modest too. We served these at a birthday party at the weekend. Michelle (my dictator friend) was waitressing and almost got rugby tackled to the ground by the guests going for the last ones of these little babies.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to Basics cookery day

'Back to Basics' day was a great success. It was quite a mixed group, from a couple of self-confessed frequent ready-meal users (evening McCanneys) through to a couple of far more confident and experienced cooks (yes that's you Turners) hmmm how did they sneak in?

All the dishes were produced to perfection (I posted the menu a couple of days ago) and I think hte beginners in particular were really chuffed with their efforts. I love helping people learn to cook new things. It's a real buzz.

Hunger strikes! Hong Sao beef

After a weekend working my tail off in the cookery school and doing catering I was such a hungry beast today. Do you ever have those days when food just does not touch the sides? So when I got home I was made up to find that Stokesy had some dinner on the go. Hong Sao beef, with sauteed red onion, plus some mustardy mash. I got the recipe for the beef from delicious magazine the only changes I made were to cook the beef for 4 rather than 2 hours and I left out the tea bags. The depth of flavour in the broth is fantastic. Leftovers are great in a big bowl with noodles and greens. Slurp Slurp Slurp.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mmmm chocolate danger

Warning: This stuff can lead to sugar coma.

Really simple to make. I'm a bit naughty for not including recipes/amounts etc so here you go:

225g butter
3 tbsp golden syrup
50g cocoa powder, sieved
70g raisins
275g digestives, roughly crushed
200g dark chocolate100g milk chocolate

Line a cake tin or baking tray with greaseproof paper and butter the inside of the paper.
Put the butter, golden syrup and cocoa into a saucepan and heat until everything melts together. Mix thoroughly.
In a large mixing bowl put the digestives and raisins, then pour over the butter mixture. Mix very thoroughly so that everything gets coated in the mixture.
Tip into your prepared tin/tray, smoothing down the top. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Melt the dark and milk chocolate, either in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave or over a very gentle heat. Stir until smooth then pour over your biscuit mixture in the tin.
Put it back into the fridge and chill until your topping sets (about 20 minutes). Cut into rectangles and enjoy the feeling of your cholesterol rising.

Yo Mr Hellman - check it out

Here we have a pot of real mayonnaise, made with organic egg yolks (Dot's chickens are back on it and laying again yeeha!), sunflower oil, mustard, sugar, dill and white wine vinegar. Memo to the people at Hellman's......this is what mayonnaise should look like. Once made up this will last for 2-3 weeks because the eggs are super fresh.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Notes from Thailand - The Cheddi

Feeling a bit posh one day we went for afternoon tea and cocktails at the Cheddi with Helene and Ellen, again in Chiang Mai. The Cheddi was so beautiful and relaxing, with excellent service and mojitos.

For puds I had the creme brulee, to be honest I was so full already. My greed showing there...oops. The creme brulee was delicious though and accompanied by mango with basil. Seems very trendy to add basil to desserts at the moment.

At the hotel they had lovely water features with floating lanterns containing lotus flowers. Just as dusk fell a little man waded into the water and exchanged the flowers for candles. Thank you little man! What incredible attention to detail.

Notes from Thailand - mango lassi

November 2008 involved a 3 week trip to Thailand to see Stokesy's Ma, lucky Helene, who lives in Chiang Mai in the north west.

So who wants to hear about what we ate on the trip??? And see some food pics???? Course you do! I'll post them up in intervals, don't want too much excitement all at once now do we.

First up..........a cool refreshing mango lassi. Drunk at regular intervals throughout the trip. Perfectly ripe mango, cow juice, pinch of salt.......aaah. I took all these pics on my camera phone so the quality isn't great, but you get the general idea. This particular lassi was from a little Indian restaurant in Chiang Mai, they did great thalis there too. Dinner for the 3 of us was about £8. I miss Thailand :o(

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Simple supper - Pasta and garlic bread

Feeling fairly brain dead after work it was a night for an easy meal. Sweating together garlic/onion/peppers/tomatoes/parsley gave us the sauce (queue a 'discussion' about whether we should bother to peel the tomatoes - verdict peeled) chucked some mozzarella on top, combine softened butter/lots of garlic/parsley and add to toast for the super garlicky bread.

Leaving time to watch Masterchef......oh and get ready for cookery school and catering job at the weekend. It's 'Back to Basics' day at cookery school and here's what they'll be cooking:

1. Potato and Leek soup
2. Sticky ribs
3. Quesadillas
4. Thai style seabass
5. Chocolate fridge cake

So they will learn slow cooking, how to cook fish + tell when it's fresh, quick snack, the ABCs of soup making and a no-cook dessert

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eggy Brunch

After dragging our butts out of bed the boyfriend and I treated ourselves to Eggs Benedict. Stokesy was on egg duty whilst I did the hollandaise. I reckon our team did pretty well!
The eggs were cooked according to Delia's specifications. Use a frying pan with 1" of water and keeping the water just below simmering point so that the eggs cook slowly giving perfect opaque/firm white and lovely runny yolk.
Check out the Nigella shot of the egg below....oooh it's oozing over the're a naughty little egg aren't you grrrrr

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Basil's Valentine Meal

As it is the international night of romance/cards/flowers/expensive meals out we decided to ignore all that commercial b*llocks and have lovely dinner at home with Wee Jan and Basil in attendance. Basil gave me Indian Cooking Made Easy* for Xmas so we broke that out and cooked a few dishes from it.
*It should be noted at this point that the only reason Basil bought me that cookery book was because he wants to do bad stuff with the author, Anjum Anand.

For main it was 1. Coconut and Chilli Halibut 2. Tandoori Salmon
On the side 1. Toasted chickpeas 2. a really refreshing cucumber/tomato/green chilli/peanut/coconut salad combo 3. cucumber raita

Then for puds it was a baked concoction, combining condensed milk/greek yoghurt/ cardamon/raisins. I just love that hint of cardamon. This recipe was taken from Atul Kochar's Simple Indian, if you're into Indian food you have to get this. The flavour combinations are incredible. One thing people often say to me is that they don't like Indian food because they think it is too oily. Aaargh not true.......Get this book people!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Late night snacking

You know how it is sometimes, you're lurking around late at night, looking in the fridge for goodies. Stokesy and I are on a late night CSI/TV fest tonight so obviously need somethig nice to sustain us. Stokesy tempted me into the kitchen with a beetroot/carrot/apple/ginger juice and between us we made the mushroom and parsley soup. Usually I'll have bread with soup but this was so filling and delicious on its own.
Here's what you need to make it: sweat 4 shallots in butter until soft, add 25g flour and cook for 1 minute. Add 250g finely chopped mushrooms, 2 tbsp parsley, lots of freshly ground black pepper and a little salt. Heat up 400ml hot chicken stock and add 400ml milk to it. Then pour the whole lot into your mushroom pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Little pies

Today I did some final testing for a party next week. One of the items they're having are cute little 2-bite size chicken and leek pies. The testing was to determine the amounts I'll need for next week. Portion control plays a big part in catering, too much and you're wasting money. Too little and people go hungry, not good. I'm still learning about portion control and all the amounts get written in my little book for future reference.

Plus my mum (Wee Jan) was coming round for lunch so it was nice to make these for her. Wee Jan makes very good what I would call classic food and I'll add her stuff to posts the odd time as well. Let's hope she makes her amazing Eve's pudding (gooey apple sponge stuff) sometime soon. When me and my brother used to come home from boarding school that was always our request for the first meal at home.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sides for ribs

Okay I confess we had ribs again, so good! Stokesy and his mate Pete had gone to price some work so needed some man food when they got back. Pete is a...errmm....selective eater so I didn't want to make anything too adventurous. But I got some quesadillas on the go as soon as they got home and he loved them.

I wanted some vegetable-ness to go with the ribs so after rummaging in the fridge decided on some coleslaw. finely sliced cabbage, carrot, red onion, plus a bit of parsley mixed with mayo and natural yoghurt.

This weekend I'll finalising the recipes for next weekend's Saturday cookery class 'Back to Basics', plus planning for a birthday party on the Sunday. For the birthday party the client has chosen lots of different finger foods, I love doing finger food and canapes because you can make everything look wicked! The two mini puddings are Torta di Ciocolatta and Mini Pavlovas, I'll try and get some pics if I have time on the day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Easy Dinner - Chorizo Salad

So me and the boyfriend (let me introduce Stokesy) were peckish tonight, yeah yeah I know, no change from usual. He has been plastering ceilings today so extra hungry. But we were also not in the mood for mountains of washing up. Queue our old faithful standby of quesadillas, combined with our new standby of chorizo salad.

The quesadillas, or very flat and not very filling cheese sandwiches as Basil (another hungry friend) would call them, are great for when you are in a hurry. Just stick a dry pan on the heat, place in 1 tortilla, layer up grated cheese/ham/coriander/spring onion/peppers etc and them add your top tortilla. Fry until toasted, flip, fry again and then serve with guacamole or salsa. It is the law in our house to a dunking dippy sauce which we buy in. We are always on the look out for new ones. Currently gracing our table are Levi’s Reggae Reggae and Spanks Chilli Mein.

The chorizo salad recipe was nicked from the Moro cookbook. Up top you have a pic of the salad itself. Fried chorizo, chickpeas, parsley, tomato, red onion and dressing.

And the dressing, the olive oil lurking in the background is some posh stuff that my brother gave me for Christmas. Cheers Andrew! He lives in Milan so always provides good food presents. Thinking about Milan reminds me of eating burrata there. Burrata is the most amazing mozzarella style cheese, so soft and delicately creamy. Errm sorry just having a burrata moment………it is soooo good. Okay let’s get back on track….…olive oil! I only use the really good stuff in dressings where I’m going to get the best from the flavour.
Oh yeah so you'll want to know what's in the dressing. 1 garlic clove, big pinch salt, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 4 tbsp olive oil and a squeeze of lemon

Pastry Time

I was doing some catering work at the weekend for a surprise birthday party. Included in the menu is quiche, so it’s pastry time. Making your own pastry is time consuming I admit (make pastry, chill, roll, chill, bake blind) but there is no way I would serve anything else. I got the eggs from a nice lady (Jenny) from Staarvey Farm at The Green Mann market in St.Johns on Thursday, check out the product placement in the pic! But also check out the lovely yellow of the filling, delicious. I usually get my eggs from Dot Price, also at The Green Mann, but her chickens are on strike due to the adverse weather conditions and short days. I think Dot’s chickens have got the right idea.

So here you can see the pastry case with it’s lovely crinkly edges (I love crinkly edges) and then with it’s filling of spring onion, pea and parmesan. Oh if you’re doing pastry try using coins instead of ceramic beads for the baking blind bit. the coins conduct the heat a lot better to give crispier pastry. Well that’s what Heston Blumenthal (mmmm the lovely Heston) says and I hear his food is pretty good so I’m happy to follow his advice.

Sticky Ribs

First up, this is our most popular quick n’ easy dish at the moment. Ribs!!! I just love the way the meat falls off the bone when you get these cooked just right. Pork is getting a bit trendy now isn’t it. These are also great for that caveman/woman style of bone gnawing, just make sure you have plenty of napkins ready.

Method: So easy, put 10 ribs in a big baking tray and cover with foil. Put in a 180 degree oven for about 2 hours. Cover with your saucy/marinade-y stuff for the last 15 minutes, keeping the foil on.
Approximate quantities for the sauce are: 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tbsp soy sauce, ½ tsp chilli powder and a big squeeze of honey.

I get the ribs from Mark at Teare’s butchers in Ramsey

Let's get this started

Well hi there everyone. Welcome to my blog.

Here I will be recording all of the things I make and eat. I run a cookery school and catering business so that should be quite a lot of stuff (check out my business website Oh and I’m pretty greedy too, I just love food and love trying new things.
Plus I’ll give information about the ingredients I use, the suppliers I get them from, the methods I use…………..okay just anything food related (stop going on Kathryn, I think they get the picture).

I’ll be taking photos of the food too so you can see exactly what I’m talking about. The photography is a very new venture, just got the camera last week so I'll be working on the lighting, editing etc. Some of the recipes are testing for the school, demonstrations or new seasonal menus for the catering. The rest is just stuff that I like to cook for my boyfriend, friends and family.

So I hope you like it, happy reading!