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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Recipe of the week - 14th December 2011

Gingerbread Tree Biscuits


75g softened butter
50g caster sugar
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g golden syrup
2 egg yolks
250g plain flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Beat together the softened butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy.
3. Add the bicarbonate of soda, golden syrup and egg yolks, stir to thoroughly combine.
4. Sift in the flour, ginger and cinnamon. Stir again.
5. Place your hands into the bowl, and kneed all of the ingredients until you form a ball of dough.
6. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
7. Dust a surface and rolling pin with flour.
8. Place the dough on the surface and pat to flatten. Then, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it is the thickness of a one pound coin.
9. Use a tree cutter to cut the biscuits.
10. Then place onto a greased baking tray and pop into the oven for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden.
11. Place the biscuits on a wire cooling rack to cool.
12. Decorate your tree biscuits with white icing (made by sieving icing sugar and mixing with a dash of water) and silver edible balls.

Feel free to hang the biscuits on the tree for a home-made touch or simply scoff the lot!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Taste of Christmas - 4th December

It all started badly the day before when I jumped out of bed and announced that it was time for Christmas to begin. By this I meant, the day had finally arrived for the eagerly anticipated first visit to Taste of Christmas. I dressed particularly carefully - seeing as 'I would need to be warm enough walking to and from the tube, but not so warm, that I spend the whole day inside the exhibition centre sweating.' Outfit decided (the warm, yet armless gillet - offering the perfect temperature for such occasions), I was ready to venture out on the DLR (a tube line that, despite my three month habituation of London, had never actually been ridden on).

We were then thwarted by my boyfriend asking what the date was 'The third, Silly!' I replied. 'Yes, well, these tickets say the 4th'. Somewhere in all the excitement, I had convinced myself that we were due at Taste on Saturday the 3rd, as opposed to Sunday, the 4th. This was all ultra upsetting, but at least we hadn't sat on first the Northern, second the Jubilee and third, the DLR line for no reason whatsoever. As a massive creature of habit, and someone who hates deviations of any kind to plans made, I was understandably excessively disappointed.

Despite all of the laments, there was no possibility of changing the date on our tickets so we had to make do with a visit to Angel (somewhere I would very much like to live, if only finances would permit. I hate being unemployed). I'm dying to pay a visit to the Breakfast Club. Mainly because there was a HUGE queue all the way out the door - a clear sign at least to me (not the impatient boyfriend) that the food inside must be incredible and totally worth the exceptionally long queue. I couldn't see inside this establishment, owing to the length of the queue, but I'm pretty much certain that the food is of Michelin standard. The queue was full of young, trendy types, something which I can only aspire to be. I think that eating at such a place will give me a first class ticket into such a crowd which is why I was insistent that we should wait in said queue. Boyfriend was not. So we settled for the most tasteless, re-heated pasta bolognese I have ever had the misfortune to eat in my entire life. How is it possible for a bolognese sauce to taste so exquisitely of cardboard?! Point proved as far as I was concerned and yes, we will be returning to the Breakfast club next Friday when it theoretically should be far quieter than a bustling Saturday.

Sunday finally dawned, following a Saturday which almost saw me venture, yet again, into the dreaded, but ridiculously addictive Infernos night club (think cheesy club nights at uni and you're pretty much spot on). We didn't go because, even for me, twice in as many weekends, erred on the edge of completely over the top. I donned my gillet jean combo yet again and we made it, with no hitches to the ExCeL exhibition centre.

Sadly, I was hugely underwhelmed by the whole experience. Far smaller than its brother, the Taste of London which I attended back in June, Taste of christmas was certainly missing something. The something being Christmas! Yes, there was a half-hearted attempt at carols and decorations, and yes, there were lots of stalls offering varying amounts of freebies. But whoever booked the stalls missed a key point; that this was all supposed to be about Christmas. This particular show could have happily slotted into any month of the year. I was expecting, and hoping, that there would be an array of mince pies, christmas cake, panettone, stollen, turkeys, hams.......on offer. Waitrose was the only franchise which really embraced the spirit, everywhere else it was sorely missing.

I was very keen to get my money's worth and watch some expert food demonstrations. Sadly, I missed my absolute favourite chefs, Jamie and Hugh, but none the less, I was more than happy to wait for 30 minutes for Jean Christophe-Novelli. Yes, he's ultra smooth and good looking, but the dish he demonstrated left me in disbelief. I did not want to spend 60 minutes of my life first waiting and then wishing I could escape from, Jean showing us how to make chocolate pots. I am perfectly capable of adding milk, cream, chocolate and a variety of spices (cardamon, cinnamon, star anise) to a pan without his help. I would have escaped but I was too trapped in, owing to my overwhelming obsession to get a seat at these things - hence the 30 minute wait beforehand, to ensure that no one else took it.

The highlight of the whole thing was bumping into a couple of friends - it's always nice to have an impromptu catch up. I will be returning to Taste of London next year, but sadly a ticket to Taste of Christmas will remain on my pile of unwanted presents.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Recipe of the week - 29th November

Spicy Beef Stew

This makes a great alternative to a traditional beef and ale stew (as delicious as this undoubtably is) and is very easy to put together, simply let the oven do the work for you.

Serves 4
1 kg stewing beef, diced
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large tin butter beans
1 tbsp black treacle
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp hot chilli powder
2 tbsp flour
500 ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper

1. Begin by browning off the meat. To do this quickly, simply add the beef to a large casserole dish together with the seasoned flour. Stir to coat the beef.
2. Place in the oven for 20 minutes at 220 degrees celsius to brown.
3. Simply add the rest of the ingredients to the dish, reduce the temperature to 180 degrees and cook for three hours or until the meat shreds apart.

And that's it, ridiculously simple and extremely tasty.

Monday, 28 November 2011

River Cottage Veg

I love Hugh. I think his ability to make foods which I staunchly hate (think: mushrooms, capers, anchovies, tarragon etc) look appetising is a skill not to be sniffed at. However, I was totally unconvinced when I heard about the idea for his latest show 'river cottage veg'. I thought that a series based entirely on vegetables, would be wearing a little thin by the end of the second episode. However, having watched the final episode last night, I am pleased to report that I was completely wrong.

I am huge advocate of vegetables; they're a great way of gaining those all-important nutrients for relative inexpense compared with the meat and fish alternatives. However, I've never quite understood vegetarianism and veganism. Part of this shakey, and controversial opinion, is spawned from my love of eating out. I do not wish to generalise hugely, but at the many restaurants I have eaten at, the vegetarian options form the overwhelming minority of dishes proferred, and more often than not, consist of risottos. Risotto, when cooked properly, is a delicious meal, but really how many risottos can a discerning vegetarian foodie, or for that matter non-foodie, cope with? I think risottos run the risk of becoming the now, omnipresent, nut/seed/bird-feed roast on offer on far too many tables on December 25th.

Back to the point in hand, Hugh did a fabulous job of opening my eyes to the huge range of dishes it is possible to cook with no fish or meat in sight. I am desperate to hunt out the veggie food van detailed in the first episode, complete with its supermix of seeds offered as a flamboyant end garnish. Last night's UNCOOKED vegan feast also opened up my eyes. Yes, we've all tried the now ever-present beetroot brownie, but really, avocado forming the main ingredient in a chocolate tart? Wow. Aside from such amazing revelations, I think my favourite part of last night's show was the pretty, delicate blond citing that eating cooked vegetables at Hugh's end of series feast was pretty much the blow out of her year. I think it's her equivalent of us mere non-vegan mortals eating a 1kg Galaxy in one sitting.

My guilt at not meeting her amazing levels of self-control with regards to food, may well have proven pivotal in my decision to buy Davina MaCall's latest fitness DVD. I eagerly await it's arrival from Amazon. Next job: working out how to close the living room blinds...

Ginger Pig Lunch Time Soup Recipe

I've been busy creating soup recipes to feed hungry Marylebone office workers. The favourite so far is a Thai chicken noodle soup. It's so quick to make and the flavour you get is so coconut creamy and comforting. Feel free to increase the heat by bumping up the chilli content.

Serves 4

200g rice noodles - my favourite are Thai Taste Noodles Gueyteow
4 leeks
1 tin of sweetcorn
1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 handful of bean sprouts
1L chicken Stock
1 tin of coconut milk
500g cooked chicken meat
2 handfuls of fresh spinach.

To finish: a handful of chopped fresh coriander and roasted peanuts

1. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.
2. Sweat the leeks in a little oil, until they are soft but not at all coloured. This should take a couple of minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, bean sprouts, chilli, chicken and sweet corn and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes.
4. Add the noodles and spinach and cook for just 3 more minutes.
5. Serve with a sprinkling of peanuts and freshly chopped coriander.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

NEW! Now serving a take-away lunch menu at the Ginger PIg

I've been busy at work designing a lunch menu for the Ginger Pig. Currently we are best known for our butchery and delicatassen where we sell a selection of cooked foods. People come in to buy an occasional sausage roll or hot pork roll, but I feel that we are missing the mark with lunches. People tend to come in to buy their meat, then see the sausage rolls and think: 'ooh, they look lovely, i'll buy one'.

Really, therefore, my mission is to put the Ginger Pig on the map for lunches, starting with our shop in Marylebone. I want people to actively seek out the Ginger Pig for their lunch, as opposed to buying it as an afterthought. I have designed a flyer to hand out to unsuspecting tube goers and the office workers of Marylebone. Cheryl (our designer) beautified it and they've just come back from the printers. I can't wait to get started!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Starting work at the Ginger Pig

I was recently offered a post at the Ginger Pig (Butchers), helping to run the new cookery school which starts in September at Lauriston road, Hackney. I started work on the 15th and have been busy getting to know everyone at the Ginger Pig at their Flagship store in Moxon street, Marylebone.

I have been kept very busy making quiches and their very many signature dishes, including beef bourguignon, pork with apple and cider, lasagne, terrine such as Jambon Parsille. I've also been given lots of autonomy to create my own dishes. Last week I made a beef and ale stew with rosemary dumplings (for a video on how to make my personal version,  check out and also chicken satay with a spicy peanut sauce.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Taste of London - 19th June 2011

This was my first experience of taste of London. They run similar events all over the country. For those who don't know, ToL is a festival where lots of chefs and food proprietors bring their offerings to hyde park. My boyfriend and I bought standard tickets for £20 which turned out to be excellent value. This allows you to visit the stalls and pick up free samples of whatever they're offering. You have to buy the chef's food separately using different money called 'crowns'. My friend and her boyfriend attended ToL the day before we did. As it was their anniversary they bought VIP tickets for £90 per person. However, this turned out to be a major disaster since the only thing they received additionally was access to the 'secret garden'. However, once inside the secret garden they realised that there was nothing extra they could get unless they belonged to one of the many companies (e.g. British airways) who had areas there. Basically, they paid extra for nothing.

However, my boyfriend and I were perfectly happy with the value of our ticket. We spent our time wondering around all the stalls eating all the free samples of food and drink that we could find. We queued up for a wine tasting and there we learnt how to match drinking water with wine. A great tip here: do not add ice cubes to bottled water, you are simply mixing tap water with mountain water. So obvious and yet I'm sure most of us have committed that cardinal sin.

We bought with our crowns a plate of fettucine with freshly grated truffles (the first time I've ever tried them; they were totally delicious) and a malaysian chicken meal. We also downed several shots of toffee vodka, where the sweetness decreased the burn somewhat. We bought some aged balsamic oil (£12.50 for 100ml) and 10 vanilla pods for £6 which seemed very good value. All in all, a great afternoon.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Recipe of the week - 4th July 2011

Blueberry and white chocolate muffins 

These delicious muffins are bound to satisfy the sweetest of teeth. They combine tangy blueberries which burst explosively over the rest of the muffin mixture with creamy white chocolate. Feel free to substitute the blueberries for raspberries. I originally made this recipe with raspberries but found them too sharp for my taste. 

makes approximately 16 muffins

2 large eggs
125 ml vegetable oil
250 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (not strictly necessary)
200g caster sugar
400g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
100g white chocolate (chips or a bar broken up into small pieces. Break the bar up in a large poly bag, tied off, with a rolling pin)
150g fresh blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
2. Place the egg, milk, vanilla essence and sugar bowl and beat until the sugar has dissolved using an electric mixer or wooden spoon.
3. In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, white chocolate and salt.
4. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix loosely with a wooden spoon, don't worry if it's not totally smooth. You definitely do not want to over beat the mixture.
5. Line a muffin tin with 16 muffin cases.
6. Fill each muffin case with 2/3 of muffin mixture.
7. Bake the muffins for approximately 30 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Recipe of the week - 3rd July 2011

Vietnamese Noodle soup

I first sampled this soup whilst trekking in Sapa, North Vietnam with the local tribal women. One of the best experiences of my life. I was worried about the food which they were going to provide us with but this turned out to be an amazing revelation. Incredibly simple to make and very tasty. The language barrier meant that I couldn't decipher exactly what was in it, but after several attempts, this is the closest thing to it. It's an extremely healthy soup too (great for people watching their calorie intake) since it is full of vegetables and also contains protein from the omelette.

serves 2

1 tbsp bouillion vegetable stock powder
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 sweetheart cabbage (sliced)
1 carrot (sliced into lardons)
1 l hot water
3 eggs
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 noodle bricks from Sharwood's medium rice noodle packet

to make the omelette:
1. Begin by making the omelette.
2. Add the vegetable oil to a frying pan, heat for 1 minute.
3. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat thoroughly.
4. Add the eggs to the frying pan, as the egg begin to set, use a wooden spatula to bring the egg towards the middle of the pan in folds, uncooked egg should fill the spaces at the edge of the pan.
5. Continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the under side is golden brown.
6. Turn the omelette over and fry until the other side is done.
7. Turn the omelette onto a board and once cool, roll into a swiss roll shape and thinly slice to produce fine slithers of egg.

to make the soup:
1. Add the hot water to a sauce pan on a medium heat.
2. Add the soy sauce, bouillon and sugar.
3. Add the cabbage, carrots and noodles.
4. Boil for 4 minutes or until the noodle are cooked through.
5. Serve the soup in two, deep bowls. Garnish with the egg and copped coriander.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Cake Bake for Marie Curie

My boyfriend's mum asked me to bake cakes for her friend's charity cake sale. I love any excuse to bake, so one for a good cause where I could make masses was something which I was not going to refuse. In the end I made lemon mini cupcakes (incredibly easy to make), white chocolate and blueberry muffins (my favourite flavour of muffins) and a trusty old coffee cake.

Here are the two coffee cake sponges, prior to baking.

Busy making one of the many icings of the day. This is the coffee butter icing. Butter icing is my favourite kind of icing.

Lots of white chocolate and blueberry muffins, both mini and normal sized ones (I ran out of muffin cases).

The finished coffee cake and lemon cupcakes.

All of my afternoon's efforts arranged together.

 A really awful photo of me at the charity cake sale. Beautiful weather.

 Here's a selection of all the cakes people had kindly made and donated to the good cause.

Success! only one slice of my coffee cake remained by the time we left. It can't have tasted too awful...

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Recipe of the week - 29th June 2011

My boyfriend and I went to stay with his parents in Manchester today. I wanted to say thank you by cooking a quick (because I was tired from the journey) and also tasty meal. I therefore decided to plump for my old favourite of papadelle with bacon and leek. I tend to make the papadelle myself, although this is actually a huge lie. Rather, I buy sheets of fresh lasagne and then slice it into 1 cm thick lengths. This gives a lovely rustic feel to the pasta, since all the strands are slightly different.

Papadelle w bacon and leek

serves 4

2 packs of fresh lasagne
3 leeks
5 rashes of smokey bacon (sliced into thin pieces (lardons))
25g flour
50g butter
200 ml milk
100g cheddar cheese (mature and grated)

optional: parmesan cheese

1. Begin by toping and tailing the leeks. The white portion is the part you want to eat with only 1 inch of the green part.
2. Wash the leek thoroughly and then slice finely.
3. Add 25g butter to a saucepan, cover, and then, on a medium heat, sautee the leek for 15 minutes. 
4. Fry the bacon in a separate frying pan until nice and crispy.

To make the cheese sauce:
1. Begin by making a simple roux. To do this add the milk, butter and flour to a saucepan and heat on a medium heat, stirring continuously. It is important to stir all the while to prevent lumps from forming.
2. Add the cheese to the thickened sauce and stir.

5. Boil a large pan of salted water.
6. Add the fresh pasta and cook for 2 minutes.
7. Add the leeks, bacon and cheese sauce to the pasta and stir through.

Serve immediately, add a grating of parmesan.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Recipe of the week - 24th June 2011

Vegetable curry w cous cous

This is a very tasty, cheap way of making a crowd pleasing curry. Easy to double up or even triple the recipe in order to feed hoards of hungry people.

Feeds 4

1 onion (chopped)
1 garlic clove (chopped)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 large can of coconut milk
1 large can of chopped tomatoes
1 mug of cous cous
1 tsp bouillon stock powder
Fresh coriander
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp olive oil

Pick and mix from the following selection of vegetables (ensure that each is chopped into a bite sized piece):

2 courgettes (sliced)
1 small butternut squash
1 sweet potato
6 small salad potatoes
1 cauliflower

natural yoghurt to serve

to make the curry:
1. Par boil the vegetables for approximately 10 minutes until almost tender.
2. Fry the onion and garlic in the vegetable oil in a large frying pan for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the spices and tomato puree and dry fry for an additional few minutes.
4. Add the par boiled vegetables, tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and 500 ml of water to the frying pan.
5. Allow the curry to simmer gently for 10 minutes.

to prepare the cous cous:
1. Dissolve the bouillon in 2 mugfuls of boiling water.
2. Add the stock, cous cous and olive oil to a large bowl and give it a quick stir.
3. Cover with cling film and leave for 5 minutes.
4. Fluff up the cous cous using a fork.

Serve the cous cous and curry immediately. Finish the dish with a sprinkling of coriander and some natural yoghurt.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Fresher Food - Spaghetti Bolognese

I've made a new Fresher Food video. This time showing you how to make a quick and tasty spaghetti bolognese. hope you like it!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Cake bake

It was recently my last day at a school where I've been training to be a Science teacher. I baked 40 cupcakes (lemon and caramel flavoured), some chewy american style cookies and a coffee cake to thank the staff. It took me hours, but it was worth it. All the staff seemed to enjoy them the following day. There's a sneaky extra cake in the photos too. It was my boyfriend's birthday the day before so I made him a hungry caterpillar cake with jam, butter icing and soft icing for the decoration. A hungry person has already eaten at least a third of it!

The many, many cakes....

Me taking a little break in amongst the baking. I hadn't even bothered to change out of my school clothes in order to bake! In retrospect, that might have been a good idea. Poor dress.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Recipe of the week - 8th June 2011

Baked eggs florentine

This makes weekend breakfasts just that little bit more special, but is also fab served up as either a light lunch or starter. Exceptionally easy to make.

Serves 4

4 organic eggs
1 small pot of double cream
A few handfuls of fresh spinach
100g gruyere cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees C.
2. Add 2 cm spinach to each ramekin.
3. Crack an egg into each ramekin.
4. Add a dash of double cream and a sprinkling of cheese.
5. Season with the salt and pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.
6. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Recipe of the week - 24th May 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

for the cakes:
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 egg
10g cocoa powder
20ml red food colouring
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
120 ml buttermilk
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

for the icing:
300g icing sugar, sifted
50g butter
125g cream cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 170
2. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer.
3. Slowly add the egg and beat.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to form a deep red paste.
5. Add the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured.
6. Gradually add the buttermilk, continually mixing.
7. Add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat well.
8. Spoon mixture into paper case, two thirds full and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched.
9. Leave to cool.
10. For the frosting: beat the icing sugar, cream cheese and butter together.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Fresher Food

While at uni I began to make some videos outlining simple recipes. They're all really tasty and easy to make. If you have any requests please don't hesitate and I will try to upload a video.