Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mmmmm canapes

Had a little canape job on last week, only 40 people so nice and easy. Thought you might like to see what the finished result looks like so here is a wee selection.

First up 'Curry Puffs' these had a samosa style filling .......potato, pea, loads of spices......often I do these with minced chicken too which are Stokesy's favourite for packed lunch.

Aaah the 'Garlic Butter Popcorn' you all know that savoury popcorn is well trendy nowadays? Course you do! I went for individual bags rather than serve a big bowl of popcorn, not only does it look a lot cooler, it is also waaay more hygienic.

I made the popcorn for gathering at home with garam masala, chilli and butter.....t'was good

Last, but certainly not least 'Meringues with Baileys cream, toasted hazelnuts and chocolate', I guess these little beauties are my signature canape. I would tell you how to make them but I'd have to kill you.

I managed to eat 15 one day, in my defence they are quite small :o)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Italian night with Big Momma, CB + BB

After scoring big on the food front when my brother came from Italy for Xmas we had to have a go at an Italian-ish evening. We soon discovered that this ended in us stuffed to the gunnels with carbohydrate and having to undo top buttons.

To begin we had a nice little antipasti plate: Bresaola from my bro :o) , chorizo from errrm Spain, some nice little mozzarella balls with basil/olive oil/parmesan, then I made foccacia with a cumin/coriander/salt crust. Foccacia as taught by Liz on the Bread Making day at the school.

Next :o)

We used a Jamie recipe which you can read in full here in our piccie CB helpfully demonstrates the flour well method. Look at the determination in his face, grrrrr mix it!

Him hungry ug!
After much friendly 'discussion' re. toppings we went for a few options: red onion/mozz/chorizo, mozz/tom/basil (me being boring.....ahem...classic) and a meaty feast option aswell.

Cookery School - Midweek Meals II

A new set of victims arrived at the school on Saturday - Helene with Sue and Jean, Naomi and Alex. Several of them had been given the day as a Christmas present (a VERY good present hahaha). As the name suggests this class is all about giving you ideas for when you're brain dead after a hard day at work/chasing kids and need some sustenance.
On the menu:
  • Lamb tagine with herby couscous
  • Prawn and avocado linguine
  • Crispy pork belly with fennel, served with braised cabbage
  • Lemon and garlic chicken
  • Cardamon and banana raita for puds

It was went swimmingly, everyone's dishes turned out really well. The Lamb Tagine came out top in the opinion poll.

The dessert got a mixed review, memories of biting into whole cardamon pods and just a plain old dislike of raisins, put a couple off. But we agreed that a substitute for cinnamon and leaving out the evil raisins would be perfectly acceptable.

Alex and Helen put the finishing touches to the dessert. Lovely sprinkling action.

Sorry everyone but I failed to get a photo of Alex in his cute kitten apron, d*mn! Maybe next time. Note to other men attending, if you wear your girlfriend's apron to class you will get stick for it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

MIdnight snack - welsh rarebit

Stokesy and I had a hankering for a little late-night sustenance so decided to try a traditional Welsh Rarebit, it is essentially cheese on toast for people with too much time of their hands.

Here's what you need:

  • 4 slices bread
  • big knob of butter
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 2 handfuls of grated cheddar - we used the IOM Creamery black peppercorn one
  • 2 tsp worcester sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp mustard

Toast your bread while you make the topping. Sweat the leeks in the butter til soft. In a bowl combine the rest of the ingredients, then add the leeks, it should be a mushy paste (ours looked rather unappetising at this point). Then just spread the mix over your toast and lash it under the grill til it's lovely golden brown.

I couldn't decide which sauce to have so tried tommy sauce, brown sauce and Reggae Reggae with it. The Reggae was top of the list for me. Hey check out my super-glam slippers, Nigella you have no competition from me.

Easy dhal with stir-fried corn and courgette

This dish represents a perfect January meal: Delicious, Nutritious and Cheap!

The dhal was super-simple. Just boil 300g of any lentil with 1 litre of water salt, 1 tsp and 1tsp of garam masala. In a separate pan fry onion, garlic, ginger, 1tsp chilli powder and 2 chopped tomatoes. Once the dhal is cooked just stir the fried mixture through it then top the whole lot with coriander. Lovely.

The side dishes were:
1. Stir-fried corn with chilli - errrmm....for this you should stir fry tinned corn with chilli!
2. Courgette with sesame seed and ginger - pretty easy again, stir fry all of the ingredients together.

If you get your timing right you can use only 2 pans. Perfect :o)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Salted caramel ice cream

If you're thinking that salted caramel ice cream sounds a bit odd then get with the program! Everyone knows that it's well trendy....maybe even a little bit 2009.

It is really really disgustingly delicious, salty gooood, caramel gooood, ice cream goooood. What's not to like?

I topped it with shards of salted caramel, they look super-cute don't they.

For the ice-cream......serves4
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 225ml double cream
  • 150ml milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt

In a pan put 120g of the sugar and 40 ml of water. Boil until the sugar melts and turns a golden caramel colour (5-10mins).

While the sugar is boiling whisk the egg yolks and 30g caster sugar in a large heat-proof bowl until pale and thick.

Once your caramel is ready add the cream + milk to the caramel pan then bring back to the boil. When it's boiling i.e. bubbling up the sides of the pan, get your glamourous assistant to vigorously whisk the eggs mixture, whilst they're whisking quickly pour the bubbling caramel mix onto the eggs. Whisk for another 30 seconds. Then pour the mix into a wide, shallow container to cool.

Once cool churn in your ice-cream machine (I just got a Cuisinart one from Butlers Choice, yaay for me!) or use the still-freezing method (booo for you). Once churned to thick consistency you can store it in the freezer. We had it with shortbread, roasted apples and the salted caramel shards

Creamy coconut curry with aubergine and courgette

I actually learnt this one at Ballymaloe back in..........hmm when was I there??.....2008-ish......anyway.....I hadn;t made it since then. So as I was working late left instructions for Stokesy and came home to lovely dinner, my preferred recipe testing method.

The boy did good! And here's how you can recreate the magic at home...serves 2 greedy b*stards

  • 1 aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 1 courgette, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp black mustard seed, whole
  • 2 tsp fennel seed, ground
  • 1 tsp cumin seed, ground
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp oil, sunflower/groundnut/rapeseed
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 300ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • lime wedges
  • fresh coriander, roughly chopped - we didn't have any in but would have been better with it

In a large frying pan dry fry the vegetables until browned. Remove and set aside.

Now heat your oil in the same pan, then add the spices, stirring while then toast gently for 15secs. Add the flour and keep stirring for 2 mins (you're making a kind-of roux to thicken the curry), it should be fairly dry and change colour slightly.

Add the coconut milk, tamarind and chilli. Heat through then add the aubergine and courgette back into the pan. Taste it and add more salt, lime juice or water so it's just right. Stokesy added about 1 tsp salt, juice of 1 lime and 150ml water.

Serve with rice and coriander over the top.......yum!

Tip: This would be really nice with big prawns added for 1 minute of cooking time at the end. The leftover coconut milk freezes really well

Testing testing - on the menu for January

After a Christmas/New Year of making almost nothing new at home it was time to get motivated, get the books out and plan some new menus. Luckily Mitler (aka Big Momma) and her accomplices CB + BB got their cooking mojo back which encouraged me. stuff cooked in the last week (which will follow on da blog) has been:
  • Creamy coconut curry with aubergine and courgette
  • Welsh rarebit with leeks
  • A new dhal with stir-fried sweetcorn and chilli
  • Salted caramel ice cream
  • Self-saucing chocolate pudding

Plus.....still to come!!!

  • Duck ragout - from Maze cookbook
  • Pork belly with fennel - actually an old favourite but we haven't had it for ages - pre-blog!
  • Crispy Chinese belly pork
  • Slow braised shoulder of lamb - Heston-style
  • Kharma soupra - from the Leon book
  • South Indian rice soup
  • Spicy lamb pastry
  • Shellfish bisque
Yes, you guessed right, I got recipe books for Christmas. The Fat Duck, Anjum's New Indian....oh and Stokesy gave me a really rubbish Indian one which I generously passed on to my brother :o)

However, since Christmas I have treated myself to a few little purchases which have just started arriving....wahooo! Maze by Jason Atherton arrived yesterday and currently in transit are: Caramel (Trish Deseine), Ottolenghi and Cook at Home with Peter Gordon (the guy that runs the Tapa Room where we had amazing brunch in London)

Oh and I've just done my Spring/Summer menus for the catering side of things....I'll post them up too so you can check them out.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chrimbo Eve

Aaah Christmas Eve. Time for relaxing with nice food and drinkies. No red meat/poultry on the menu for us tonight cos our friend Heidi is a pescatarian. Luckily I've had a monster trout in the freezer awaiting its fate for a couple of months (thank you Annie for the monster trout!). In fact I had nearly all of the ingredients in stock...wahooo! *mental note* must get out more

So on the menu........Italian-style trout en will need....

1 large trout fillet
200g puff pastry, rolled out nice and thin - freeze the rest for another time
1 tbsp sun-dreid tomato pesto
2 large tomatoes, in thick slices
1 ball mozzarella
Fresh basil
1 egg

And using my handy step-by-step piccies this is how you do it.

1. Spoon the pesto onto the centre of your rolled out pastry, spread out to match the shape of your fillet. Lay fillet on top (Pic 1), tear over the basil, add salt/pepper.
2. Lay the tomato slices down the centre of the fillet, then tear the mozzarella into chunks and place that over the fillet (Pic 2)
3. Now crimp the edges in a very loose/messy way (Pic 3), egg wash the visible pastry bits and bung it all in the oven for 35 mins at 200C(180C fan)

And here's the end result. To accompany Green salad plus Stokesy made couscous salad with loads of herbs, sun-dried tomatoes plus the oil from the tomatoes (hahaha there goes his rough tough builder image...sorry Stokesy!).