Monday, 23 May 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash

A very simple recipe to make a great side to lots of dishes:

1 butternut squash

Cut the squash in half and place skin side up on a baking tray. Cook in a hot oven at 180 degrees until the flesh is soft and the skins have browned and blackened in places, (roughly 30-40 minutes). Chop into chunks, skins and all, and mash slightly with a fork. Stir in a little butter, some freshly chopped parsley and sprinkle generously with salt and ground black pepper.

Last night I served it with a Moroccan chicken & almond bastilla that I bought from the deli attached to Flavours Dining on my way home.

Alternatively, crumble over some feta, sprinkle with freshly roasted pine nuts and serve with a green salad as a deliciously light evening meal.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A Beef Carpaccio & A Wild Brown Trout Sashimi with Wild Garlic Pesto & A Salad of Wild Garlic Flowers.

The wild garlic season starts in the winter and continues right through the spring. In the week before Easter my boyfriend Harry and I went for a week camping and fishing in Wales and in the woods surrounding our campsite on the river Usk near Abergavenny there was lots of wild garlic to be found. The weather was amazing and during our stay we had a barbeque of meats and Harry line caught trout accompanied with this beautiful wild herb most evenings.

 With a softer garlicky flavour the leaves can be cooked down with a little butter like spinach and eaten as a great side, or chopped into risottos or salads to add a delicate garlic flavour. The flowers however are quite fiery and add a beautiful kick to a salad.

I decided to take a handful of leaves and flowers home for Easter to make my offering of beef Carpaccio with wild garlic pesto as a little starter for the Saturday evening meal.
The pesto
Take a handful of wild garlic leaves and blend in a food processor with a good glug of light olive oil, ½ a teaspoon of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, a small handful of walnuts and a pinch of sugar until you have a smooth paste.
I had never tried to make this pesto before and I have to say it didn’t add a great deal to the dish but it had an interesting flavour and the flowers in the salad made a very beautiful and tasty addition.
Beef Carpaccio
For the beef find the best piece of fillet steak you can get your hands on. Slice into thin rounds and place between two sheets of cling film. Using a rolling pin bash and roll the meat until it is wafer thin and removing from the cling film place carefully onto your serving plates and set aside.
While the beef is resting finely dice a shallot and cover with some boiling water. Allow the shallot to blanch in the water for 30 seconds or so before draining well in a sieve. Doing this will take the edge off the onion flavour and soften it a little whilst keeping the crunch.
When you are ready to eat sprinkle the shallot over the beef, drizzle with some good olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice and some salt & pepper. Place a handful of salad leaves, lightly dressed in vinaigrette in the centre of each plate and place the garlic flowers on top. Scatter around the pesto and serve.
Wild Brown Trout Sashimi
We had a pescatarian of sorts staying with us for the weekend so I made a fishy alternative for her. This dish also works well with salmon and rainbow trout (Wild, line caught brown trout is not easy to come by unless you have a fishing boyfriend or a posh supermarket on your doorstep) but make sure you know how fresh the fish is... more than 1 or 2 days old and I would not be trying this so buy from a fishmonger or at the fish counter in a supermarket.
 Finely slice the trout and place in a dish. Squeeze over a good amount of lime juice and salt and set aside for roughly 20 minutes. The acid in the lime will start to cook the fish. Lay the fish onto your serving plate and as with the beef scatter with the blanched shallots, some extra lime juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Top with the salad and drizzle with the pesto.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Chicken Teriyaki with Mixed Salad

I had a real craving for teriyaki chicken the other day so rather than popping down to the local take-away I decided to look up the marinade on line and make it for myself. I found a great recipe here at which I adapted slightly to fit the ingredients in my cupboard.
Mix 2 tbsp of Mirin, 2 tbsp Dark soy and 1 desert spoons of sugar in a bowl. Some recipes add sake to the marinade which sounds lovely, but I didn't have any. Add some sliced chicken breast and marinade for 30 minutes or so. When ready fry on a hot griddle or in a hot frying pan until the chicken starts to crisp on the outside. Pour the marinade liquor over the chicken and bubble away until the chicken is cooked through. Serve with rice and this salad:

The salad is just a mixture of fresh vegetables and herbs with as much or as little as you want of the following: Bean sprouts, peppers, cucumber, fresh mint, fresh coriander,  lettuce leaves, red chili, grated carrots and spring onions.
For the dressing whisk together:
1tbsp of dark soy
1tbsp of water,
the juice of one lime,
1 dsp of sesame oil,
1dsp of thai fish sauce,
1 tsp of sugar
And either 1 hot red chili or a drop or two of Tabasco or hot chili sauce.

Back on The Blog!

(+ A never fail recipe for meringues)

It has been a shamefully long time since my last post and over the next few days I hope to rectify my lack of activity on this site. I am very grateful to be able to say that I have been extremely busy both in my new role as a chef for Flavours Dining in Tufnell Park and in my private catering endeavours and have not found a minute to write, but I hope to make up for that from now on.

The most significant event I have done recently was a birthday party for 110 guests near Hereford,

The menu was as follows:

Canapé selection:

Green Pesto Palmiers
Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Croustades
Tomato Bruschetta
Whole poached salmon with homemade mayonnaise
Honey glazed ham

Creamy New potato salad
Couscous, Roasted vegetables & feta salad with mixed herbs and Cumin
Seasonal remoulade
Green bean salad
Mixed Leaves with Balsamic Dressing

Dessert  selection
Lemon Possets 
Pot Aux Chocolat
Miniature Pavlovas with Fresh Fruits

The event was a great success and I had loads of fun cooking along with my trusty Sous chef Harriet! 

Mini Pavlovas are my absolute favorite and I always use my mothers recipe for the meringue that has never failed me yet!
With only two ingredients they are so easy to make. There are just a few simple rules to make sure they always work.

1.Before you start make sure the bowl you are using to beat the egg whites is really clean without any grease in it (rubbing a slice of lemon around the inside of the bowl will make sure).
2: Don't break the yolk when you separate the eggs, any yolk at all will stop the whites from stiffening properly.
3: Weigh your whites!

For 1 1/4 ounces of egg white use 2 ounces of caster sugar. (I usually make them in batches of 5 ounces of whites to 8 ounces of sugar as it makes weighing them so much easier).

Beat the whites with an electric whisk until really stiff and forming into peaks.  Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue to beat with the electric whisk for 30seconds until the mixture has a silky glaze. Using a spatula gently fold in the rest of the sugar a third at a time until it is all combined. Put in a piping bag and make into shapes on a baking sheet with baking parchment.  Bake on the lowest setting on your oven until the meringues are hard to the touch, turn them over and continue to dry out until they are completely set. This can take quite some time and really depends on how low your oven goes but essentially you are not cooking the meringues simply drying them out. Taste a meringue to see if they are done; if you are a 'chewy-in-the-middle' kind of person take them out early, if not keep on cooking...
These meringues should keep for weeks in an airtight container.