Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Because its nice to be nice

Ive been lucky enough to have been sent a few items lately so its only fair they get a mention and a review.

First up i was sent a pot of Thai Taste Red Curry Paste.  I usually make my own paste however used this one as a quick tea fix, the paste was punchy and easy tyo use with plenty of flavour.  I sweated some onions in a pan then added a few tablespoons along with some chicken and a little coconut milk and simmered for around an hour, serving the finished dish with sticky rice.  When ive used pre bought pastes in the past ive had to top up the ginger/garlic/chilli to give a round flavour however this was spot on and made a perfect quick tea.

Next up we have Bottle Green cordial, you can find the brand in all good supermarkets, ive been a fan for ages, their winter spiced cordial which i served with hot water is out of this world, kind of like a none alcoholic mulled wine.  I drank buckets of the stuff over Winter.

I was sent a bottle of their new pomegranate cordial to try and it was beautiful, the kind of thing you would imagine drinking at Wimbledon.  Its light and super refreshing   Whatsmore the brand is doing its bit for charity.  The new range, featuring super stylish bottles are actually in support of Breast Cancer, check the web for more details or go buy a bottle and do your bit!

My final and favourite is Fancies cupcakes in Sheffield.  I was given a box after a recent visit and they were awesome, big enough to share, their buttercream is unreal, really light and creamy, almost like an Italian meringue.  If your in Sheffield check them out, they've got shops all over the city.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The softest confit of belly pork with skin roasted potatoes

This is one of those dishes where the quality of the ingredient speaks louder than anything! Which i LOVE as it yields absolute maximum flavour and minimum effort. I usually serve this with one of the following or sometimes a few of the following: mushroom fricasse, apple and onion veloute, cabbage and bacon, kentish apple tart, maderia roasting jus etc etc. Most of the recipes can be found under the acompaniments section however feel free to ask if theres something you cant find.   Below ive taken a pic of the potatoes i simply roasted to serve with the pork.  They were tossed in salt and pepper and olive oil with a little garlic and rosemary. Beautiful.

Serves 4
1kg belly pork
1 star anise
1teaspoon of corriander seeds
1 teaspoon if sea salt
Sprig of rosemary
½ teaspoon of whole black pepper corns
2 pints of duck or goosefat, if you dont have 2 pints use what you have and top the rest of the liquid up with vegetable oil.

Pre heat oven to gas mark 2
In a pestle and mortar grind the star anise, corriander seeds, salt and pepper into a fine dust.
Lay the pork skin side down and rub half of the mixture into the flesh.
Turn the pork over and rub the other half on the skin.
Place the pork in a roasting tin.
Warm the duck fat/oil mixture in a pan until its just simmering.
Pour over the pork (dont score the skin)
Submerge the rosemary sprig in the oil.
Cover the baking tin with foil and add to the oven for 3 hours undisturbed.
When the 3 hours are up remove the pork from the liquid and pat dry on both sides.
Score the skin in diamond patterns with a sharp knife.
Heat a frying pan and add a little of the oil leftover from the roasting tin.
When its smoking hot add the pork skin side down for 3-5 minutes to let the skin crackle. Dont move the pork just leave it.
If the skin isnt crackled enougth for your liking simple add the pork to a roasting tin, skin side up and roast for 15 minutes on gas mark 8.
Allow the meat to rest before carving. The skin will crispen a little more as its cooling down.
And thats it! SO simple but my god so delicious!

You can prepare this dish upto a day in advance. Simply re heat in a hot oven for 20 minutes, skin side up.

MasterChef chocolate mousse

Rich and decadent, this is the mousse I made on MasterChef and is an utterly luxurious; it's the perfect naughty treat for a Christmas dinner party and a fab alternative to a Christmas pudding as dessert on the big day!

Serves 4
75g sugar
1 vanilla pod split lengthways with the seeds scraped out OR 1 tsp of good vanilla extract
100ml double cream
2 eggs separated
1 tbsp cocoa powder
40g unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (this will make it easier to melt)
1 tbsp of your favourite liquor (optional)
Set a large bowl over a pan of simmering water; make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Add half the sugar and the egg yolks, the cocoa powder and the cream and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens. Make sure you whisk all the time or the eggs will scramble. This won't take any more than 3 minutes.
When the mixture has thickened a little and is the consistency of thick custard, take the pan off the heat and add the cubes of butter, the vanilla seeds and all the chocolate. Stir until fully incorporated.
Stir in your liquor if you're using.
In a separate, spotlessly clean bowl (this is important) whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the remaining 37g of sugar a little at a time, and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy and meringue-like.
Fold the meringue mixture into the chocolate mixture, slowly; you don't want to knock any of the air out!
Spoon the mix into your preferred serving bowl(s) and chill until set for a few hours or so. This can be made the day before no problem.
Top with whipped cream, more chocolate, red fruits, anything you like :)

Hot chocolate and churros

Its freezing outside, indulge with this evening treat.
Perfect for weekend lazy days too!

Serves 4
110g plain chocolate, with at least 60% cocoa solids, broken up
400ml whole milk

Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
100g plain flour
150ml whole milk
2 medium eggs, beaten
50g Caster Sugar
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon

In a large, deep pan, heat the oil for deep frying the churros to 190°C or until a piece of bread takes 30 seconds to colour. Pop the oven on to warm.
Sift the flour. Bring the milk and 150ml water to the boil in a pan, add the flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cool slightly, then gradually beat in enough egg to make a smooth but stiff, glossy mixture that drops, reluctantly, off the spoon. Spoon into a piping bag with a large star nozzle. If you don't have a star nozzle just snip the end off a piping bag to make a hole around the size of a 10p piece.
Holding the nozzle over the hot oil, gently squeeze the piping bag and snip off 6-8 x 10cm lengths of the mixture with kitchen scissors. Fry for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally, until crisp and golden brown. Lift out with a slotted spoon onto a baking tray lined with kitchen paper. Pop in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and rest over a pan of just simmering water until completely melted. Meanwhile, bring the milk to the boil in a small pan. Remove the chocolate from the heat and whisk in a little of the hot milk. Add the rest and whisk until frothy. Pour into hot mugs.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon and toss with the churros gently until lightly coated. Serve for dipping into the hot chocolate while curled up on the sofa

This Morning rhubarb crumble trifle

The first dish i did on This Morning, i remember being told i had 4 minutes to do it and thinking, if it all goes wrong make a joke out of it.  You can see the pressure on my face as Phillip is stirring the custard and ive got about 30 seconds left.

Tense.  Anyway here it is. Its super quick and puta a summer twist on a British winter classic.

Serves 2 greedy gets.
2 sticks of young pink rhubarb (needs to be pink not green)
40g of caster sugar
100mls of water
1 piece of finely chopped stem ginger from a jar

2 egg yolks
40g of caster sugar
150ml of whole milk
150ml double cream
1 vanilla pod

40g of demerera sugar
40g of whole rolled oats (I use a packet of oat-so simple)
80g plain flour
40g of cold cubed butter

Start with the crumble.
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembled breadcrumbs, add the sugar and oats and mix lightly with hands.
Scatter on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes at gas mark 6
Next start the rhubarb, chop into 3 inch pieces and place in a pan with the rest of the ingredients, boil then simmer gently with a lid on until tender.
Remove from the pan and reduce the juices on high until thick and syrupy. - leave to cool while you make the custard.

For the custard:
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, bring the milk and cream to the boil with the vanilla pod.
Once hot, pour over the egg mixture, stir briskly so the eggs don't scramble and then add everything back to the pan and stir over a medium heat until thick to your liking (the longer you leave it on the heat the thicker it will get - constantly stir or eggs will scramble)

Assemble the dish -
Put the rhubarb in the bottom of a glass, add the cooled juices
Pour over the custard
Sprinkle on the crumble topping
Leave in the fridge for a chilled summer pudding or eat straight away for a naughty warming delight - Done :)

Friday, 1 April 2011

What I bought today

Good evening.

What a week its been, what a month its been actually, Ive never stopped, literally been workin 18 hour days at the bakery but im not complaining. Ive worked so hard this last year and its starting to pay off.  Ive got a long road ahead of me but im looking forward to it.

Who would have thought entering a cooking competition would completely overhaul my life so quickly.

So as we all know you work hard and you play harder. And on the latter subject ive been making a few cheeky purchases.

The first is this original knitted Fred Perry, winter white and a brown laurel.  Its very similar to my John Smedleys i LIVE in, the style is so classic and smart.  Yes its a ladies even though the manequin looks like its is smuggling a banana in the bottom picture.

I plan on wearing it two ways.  Casually with turn ups and my bass weejun congac loafers.

Heres me in it, its just arrived:

The secons is a bit more dressy, chocolate two tone pencil skirt, fishnets and black fringe 60s penny loafers.  I love blending black and brown shades.

Im also debating whether to get a chocolate suede a line skirt with pres stud fasten down the front made.  Somewthing like the below but shorter, i love the shape.

This below one is also amazing and is in a deep plum, its from Topshop of all places.  I dont mind the high street but the thought of going out and seeing anyone dressed in something the same as me scares the crap out of me.

Ive also just bought these amazing Churches shoes.  Church are one of the most amazing shoe brands, they are famous for their brogues but these pretty 60s weaves are exactly what ive been after for years.  A bargain at £25 aswel.

Ive been after a new Breton stripe for ages. The one ive got is a little worn, I love them with simple navy chino trousers.  Ive found these and they are a snip at £15 each so ive bought 2 ha!!

My final purchase was a Britac shirt.  Britac are a Spanish firm who make the most amazing shirts, they are a true mod/skin/suede brand and although they dont do womens their xs mens fit me a treat, i got this shirt today and plan on wearing it with either trousers in chocolate brown or a navy tonic short skirt.  A snip at £45 and the detailing is outstanding.

In the bakery today I made a cake for Olympic medalist Tony Jefferies.  Hes amazing im such a boxing fan so its nice to know a Sunderland lad is doing so well.  I made it red velvet and vanilla sponge in alternating layers so when you cut into it its red and white stripes like the football club. 

You can see the cake here top row on the right.