Monday, 31 January 2011

Christmas Catering

This was an event I did leading up to Christmas for a lovely group of people in Barnes and the menu was as follows:


Warm Goats cheese & Cranberry Pastries
(served as your guests arrive)
Mulled Pumpkin Soup
(served in espresso cups)

Home Roast Ham
Seasonal Remoulade
Warm Braised Fennel
Spinach & Butternut Squash Roulade with Pine Nuts & Parmesan
Mini Baked Potatoes with Chive Hollandase
Winter Relish
Mixed Artisan Breads & Butter


Banoffee Pie Shot Glasses
Lemon Posset Shot Glasses
Meringue Kisses with Amaretto Cream & Edible Glitter

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Trout Pate

With the left over trout from the recipe below I made this lovely little trout pate for lunch. 

Carefully flake the trout flesh with your fingers into a mixing bowl, making sure you check and remove any bones. To about 200g of fish add 2 tbsp mayo, 2 tbsp Greek yogurt, 2 tsp horseradish cream (or some fresh grated horseradish), a good squeeze of lemon juice, a handful of chopped herbs of one or more of the following; parsley, dill, chervil, chives, and some salt and pepper. I also sometimes add some cream cheese if it needs bulking out or a knob of melted butter to help it set and give it a richer taste but didn't feel the need to this time. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together with a fork and allow it to rest in the fridge for an hour or so.

Serve with toast and extra wedges of lemon. This exact same recipe works amazingly with smoked mackerel too...

Trout Supper

Baked Rainbow Trout with Warm Potato Salad & Thai Spiced Fennel

My boyfriend and brother in law Jack went on a very successful fly fishing trip to Syon Park in west London last Sunday and returned with two lovely rainbow trout each.  

The Thai spiced fennel was a bit of an invention (and an excuse to use my new food processor given to me by my lovely Harry for Christmas) but was really delicious and I shall definitely be making it again. It worked really well with the fish but would taste great with some spicy grilled pork chops too.

Thai Spiced Fennel
1 Large bulb of fennel
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 stick celery (optional)
1 small bunch coriander, roughly chopped

Juice of one lime
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
A dash of hot sauce, Or a small green chili. Try and find a sauce that doesn't use vinegar as its base. I have started to use this brand called El Yucateco given to me by my cousins lovely wife Jayla and am addicted to the green one... 

Grate the fennel, carrots and celery in a food processor (Grating fennel is very hard work by hand and will go to mush). Add the coriander, stir in the dressing and set aside.

The Fish

1 large bunch of parsley
1 lemon
2 bay leaves

Slice the fish down the middle from the tail to the gills and remove all the insides. Scrape the cavity clean with lots of cold running water. These two fish were both full of eggs and though I have never worked with fresh roe before I have found a great site here to make my own trout caviar.

Once the fish is ready lay it on some foil in a large baking tin. Stuff with the whole bunch of parsley and some large slices of lemon. Squeeze the rest of the lemon over the top and add the squeezed half to the tin as well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and throw in the bay leaves. Cover and seal with another piece of foil and bake at 180 degrees for roughly 30minutes. Check if the fish is cooked by pressing on the flesh, if it flakes at all under the pressure it is cooked.

Warm Potato Salad
Salad potatoes
1 tbsp Mayonnaise
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 clove of garlic
1 small bunch of parsley
1 tbsp good olive oil

In a small blender blitz the mayo with the garlic, parsley and olive oil. Season to taste with the lemon, salt and pepper. When the potatoes are cooked slice immediately and add to the dressing. Serve warm.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Working Lunch

Prawn, Quinoa & Avocado Salad

This recipe was adapted from a recipe in this months Delicious. magazine to suit what I had in the cupboard.... Cook the quinoa and drain. Cook the prawns in some olive oil and garlic. Mix in with some finely diced tomato, cucumber, celery, red onion, black olives, sun dried tomatoes and slices of avocado. Season with lime juice, salt, pepper, olive oil and some chopped parsley. Eat hot or cold. Yum!

Another Birthday Cake

Double Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Butter Cream Icing & Dark Chocolate Ribbons.

This time for my lovely flat mate Jessie.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Birthday Chocolate Cake

A Triple Layered Brazil Nut Sponge with Chocolate Fudge Icing, White Chocolate Sprinkles, Chocolate Shell & Mixed Berries.

I had been so excited about making this cake for my brother in-law's 30 birthday last weekend. The base is a simple sponge with 3oz of crushed Brazil nuts added at the end. A butter fudge icing glued it all altogether before it was finally wrapped in a thin layer of good quality dark chocolate.

The standard sponge uses equal weights of flour, egg, butter and sugar with some baking powder and vanilla, creamed together using a hand blender or mixer. I am lucky enough to be looking after the amazing kitchen of two lovely friends at the moment and have use of all their beautiful equipment!

Thank you Kylie!

Make the chocolate shell using about 200g of good quality dark chocolate. Melt 2/3 of the chocolate over a double boiler. When quite hot remove from the heat and add the last 1/3 of chocolate. When the last third has completely melted return to the boiler for a few minutes allowing the chocolate to reheat slightly... There are exact temperatures used for this tempering process (Heat the chocolate to 115°c. when the last 3rd of chocolate is added the temperature will reduce to around 84°c, reheat again to 88/89°c) though I just used a knuckle (clean of course) to guess the approximate temperatures.

Spread the melted chocolate evenly over 2 sheets of baking parchment cut to size. Set slightly in the fridge on a tray for about 5 mins. When the chocolate has lost its sheen but is still pliable wrap it around the cake (wax paper to the outside!). A good tip is to hold the cake up to the light and check for any thin spots; spread a little extra chocolate over theses areas on the inside of the shell (this will eliminate the risk of holes when you come to remove the wax paper). Return to the fridge until completely set. Remove the wax paper from the outside before finishing and serving the cake.

Fill with fruits & berries, malteasers, smarties, chocolates, chocolate curls or sweets...etc and eat.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Ham & Puy Lentil Soup

We all got to take home a chunk of ham left over from my sisters birthday meal last weekend. With it I made one of my all time favorite soups. 

You will need a chunk of ham, 1 chopped onion, 2 diced carrots, 300g Puy lentils, 2 sticks of celery, sliced, 600ml stock (if you boil your own ham for a roast keep the resulting stock for your soup), a squeeze of lemon and some freshly chopped parsley and spring onions.

Rinse the lentils, place in a sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil. When the water starts boiling reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30mins or until the lentils are cooked. 

(I used half the ham shown in this photo)

Sweat the onions in a little oil adding the carrot and celery after about 5 minutes. Sweat for a few minutes more before adding the stock. Simmer the soup until the vegetables are soft and tender. Season with some salt and pepper (I like to leave whole pepper corns in the broth). When the lentils are cooked strain them and add to the soup pan. Just before you are ready to eat break the ham into chunks and add to the broth to warm through. Serve with some chopped parsley, sliced spring onions and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Birthday Supper

I love going back to the family home for dinner, especially when there is something to celebrate!
Here is what we got up to last Saturday night in honor of my little sister Alice turning 28...

As a starter my boyfriend and I prepared a very refreshing little salad of pears, Parmesan, walnuts, pomegranate and mixed leaves with a simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil.

For the main we had my fathers famous roast ham followed by rich chocolate cake, cheese, chocolates and homemade sloe gin. A wonderful evening.

Fruit Compote

Health kick anyone? So January is well underway and the guilt to get healthy is upon us... well, for the next couple of weeks at least, or maybe just until the weekend...

I always start with a change to my breakfast habits; no more bacon and eggs, Nutella on toast, or Bloody Mary's (Christmas and new years day only) it's time to get serious! 

My favorite breakfasts at this time are mostly inspired by my beautiful Swedish/Italian friend Elena; Low fat cottage cheese on crackers with fresh sliced tomato and a pinch of homemade lovage salt/ Mashed ripe avocado on Rivita with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a little salt & pepper/Smoked salmon with beets and crackers...

Here though is another favorite; mixed fruit compote. This recipe uses pears but only because I had some left over from a job I did before Christmas; you can really replace the fruit with anything you want; apples, strawberries, rhubarb, blackberries, blueberries.... and the dried fruits and spices can be mixed up too as long as you go for the more mulling spices (cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise...). It is a great way to use up all the tired looking fruit gathered with very good intentions at the start of each health kick that never quite made it out of the fruit bowl...

4 medium pears, peeled, pips removed and sliced into large chunks. Place in a sauce pan with;
2-3 large chunks of ginger (I leave them whole so they can easily be avoided at the end, though if you like it a little fierier grate the ginger or chop into smaller chunks),
1 handful of sliced dates,
1 handful of sliced apricots (Use the natural ones. Unlike the bright orange variety they are a dark brown as they haven't been treated with sulphur)
A large stick of cinnamon,
A teaspoon of honey (for even greater health benefits try and source a local 'unfiltered' or 'unstrained' honey if you can. This apparently will help you immensely if you suffer from hay-fever as your body will start to build up a natural resistance to the pollens in your area),
2 slices of orange peel and a squeeze for good luck,
The juice of half a lemon,
A splosh of fruit juice, I used apple but whatever you have in the fridge, a little water if you don't.

Simmer the fruit, juices and spices over a low heat until the pears have softened. Transfer to a jar or tuppa and refrigerate over night. I like to eat it for breakfast with low fat Greek yogurt and a handful of oats sprinkled on top. It is also great with porridge. Or save it for an evening pudding and serve re-heated with a little custard (not healthy) or low fat creme fraiche (better).