Tuesday, April 28, 2009

House of Mannanan

After a quick turn-around after cookery school it was down to Peel to do a dinner at the House of Mannanan. The only small problem being that there was no kitchen to from and initiall...no lighting! You can see me working in the dungeon once we got some lights hooked up

Candy from Finishing Touches had the table all set up.....ooh doesn't it look lovely. Candy was also very helpful with the 'no kitchen' issue. Her house is just round the corner so I finished cooking the main (Lamb Tagine) in her oven and then ferried it to the job where I had a hot cupboard. Easy!
Mmmm canapes. I love canapes!!! I love making them all cute and pretty.......oh and eating them of course. Here we have frittata with roasted tomatoes and wild garlic flowers. I got the idea for these as I was driving home on Thursday and saw the flowers absolutely everywhere. Aren't they gorgeous?
Starter was big sharing platters of hot and cold smoked salmon with pots of dill + mustard mayo and lovely crusty bread. Mmmm mmmmmmmmmmm

Beautiful Buns

Saturday daytime was 'Beautiful Buns' day. Learning the art of baking was: Anna, Angela, Viv and Callum. On the menu......Rhubarb and Ginger Upside-down cake, savoury scones, shortbread cookies, pastry turned into Pea and Ham tart and Torta di Ciocolatta (Italian style tiffin). Needless to say it all turned out perfectly and a good time was had by all.

Pea and Ham tart with lovely crispy/crumbly pastry

Michelle's victoria sponge

The Dictator (Michelle) treated me and Stokesy to Sunday lunch a couple of weeks ago. She reckons that it is high pressure cooking for me because I'm so fussy. Me? Fussy? How ridiculous.

Anyhoo.....she came up trumps with this gorgeous cake for puds. Real strawberries, plus strawberry jam and cream as a filling is a winner as far as I'm concerned. Nice work Michelle!

Friday, April 17, 2009


Spring is officially is progress. How do I know this? Because Manx asparagus is in season....yeeha! My brother kindly brought me some round as a present (yes my Italy-residing brother, but no goodies from Italy this time boohoo).

The Stokes and I had the asparagus tonight with mayo and pan-fried steak, plus those beautiful little puppies above. We have been perfecting our chip technique and have settled on the following method:
Cut potatoes into big chip size chunks
Boil in unsalted water until tender
Remove from water and leave to steam dry on a rack
Now deep fry for about 10 minutes until golden brown
Add lovely sea salt and dive in!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Post-Ashburton.....what happened next

I've been back from cookery training for 10 days now and have tried to cook plenty of things from the course to refresh my memory. So far:
  • Slow cooked pork belly (as above.......check out the crackling)
  • Feathered steak with black pudding topping
  • Potato rosti
  • Egg custard tart
  • Blue cheese and sesame biscuits
  • Apple mash
  • Fat chips
After eating rich restaurant-y food for two weeks I have to admit I had a real craving for other flavours when I got home. I had to eat my favourite Thai curry Khao Soy, get some Indian flavours in with a Tamarind, Peanut and Potato curry and generally eat loads of fruit and veggies to try to de-butter my arteries.

Oooh baby

It looks so innocent doesn't it. A little egg custard tart sitting demurely, a little oozy around the edges but not a bit show off dessert. But beneath it's exterior lies a new range of delicious-ness that makes you eat it all before you friends come round so that you don't have to share it.

Stokesy has been demanding egg custard tart since we ate it at The Elephant in Torquay (Oh yeah The Elephant, brilliant restaurant have the squid risotto). Because I am such a dutiful girlfriend (stop sniggering people who know me) and pander to his every need there was only one thing to do.....make it! Joe at Ashburton kindly gave me a recipe and I used their version of sweet pastry too. But naturally took all the credit when it turned out super tasty.

Special Offer...in a hedgerow near you

Apologies for the lack of blog recently. I was all worn out after the Ashburton blog-a-thon so was giving myself some time to regroup. But do not fear, I was not slacking in the food department.

First up, available free, only effort required is a brisk walk in the countryside.................wiiild garliiic!!! (say that in the style of a game show host, it sounds better)

I am no expert in wild food, foraging etc, but even an idiot like me can identify wild garlic. Growing mostly in shady woodland and on verges. Hmmm a picture would help wouldn't it. I will go and take a pic of some over the weekend and add it in.........oh and it smells like shop garlic so you can't go too far wrong. The hardest thing is working out which patch to pick as, unfortunately it always grows in popular dog walking areas. Yes I'd always advise washing it before use.

You can add it raw to salad, it's good cooked into scrambled egg, but I turned it into wild garlic pesto and put a blob into a plain potato soup cos I'm a big show-off. To make the wild garlic pesto:

Large handful (thoroughly washed) wild garlic
75 ml olive oil - the good stuff
small handful pine nuts
small handful of grated parmesan
salt and sugar (yes sugar, the garlic can be slightly bitter) to taste

Throw the whole lot in a food processor and blitz for a minute. Some people reckon that wild garlic doesn't make your breath smell. They are liars.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

And finally........the last days at Ashburton :o(

Yes it is sad, the courses are over and I am back on the rock. But I have learnt so much. I am putting together my spring/summer catering menus now and it was great to have all of this to draw inspiration from.

Open ravioli with poached trout and dill foam

Okay so the last few dishes from the week. By the way we did way more than I have posted up. Jo is giving Rob a hand with his ravioli. My word, that's a long one.

Peta made this lovely layered sheet of ravioli. Looks wicked doesn't it!

And the finished dish. I think that warrants a ......Ta daaa! Layers of mussels, clams, peas, braised lettuce, cream, ravioli and trout. Topped with a dill foam. Yes a dill foam, check it out! I thought it was some high skill chef thing well out of my reach but it's not too hard to do. Of course you will have to bribe me to tell you the secret.

Don't get in the way of these ladies

If you see a group of ladies gathered around bowls of melted chocolate and semi-formed truffles do not attempt to disturb them. You can see the focus on their faces.

Rob took the truffles a stage further after this picture and decorated them with beautiful chocolate swirls and finishes. Unfortunately my chocolates had a...errrmm.......accident and didn't want their photo taken. Okay the real reason....they were all tucked up safely in my bag to come home. I was planning to share them with Stokey when I got back to the rock. But.....I was on the train to London and got a bit hungry. So I went to the train station shop, the trauma of being face with the reality of 'normal food' after two weeks of gorgeous food, it was so depressing! I think I had a choice of Ginsters pasties or a packet of Monster Munch. So, not wanting to pollute my body with E numbers...........the chocolate truffles sacrificed themselves for the greater good. Mmmmm they were so good :o)

Apple and champagne sorbet

I have never had champagne sorbet before, it's not really served in Ramsey :o( but it should be! I'll definitely be teaching a version of this on my Easy Summer Entertaining class so you can get some bubbles in your life.

The sorbet was accompanied by roasted fruit and ladies fingers biscuits. Yes we made the biscuits, I don't think Rob would let us use the packet ones somehow. Rob was our teacher/chef for the last three days, he was very good, with loads of top tips. His story about his knife and fingerless Fernando winning goriest story of the week. Well done Rob!

Shellfish Bisque with spring rolls

Mmm I love shellfish bisque and I love spring rolls. Luckily for me some genius at Ashburton decided to do a starter combining the two. This makes a lovely light summer lunch (until you eat eight spring rolls....oops)