Month: January 2011

Introducing… Comfort & Spice

I am so excited that I am fit to burst! I am very happy to announce that my first book, Comfort & Spice, will be out later this year. I’ve been working on it for a while, but quietly, and now that we’re getting close, I just had to share :) Comfort & Spice will be published as part of the New Voices in Food series by Quadrille. It will contain 100 recipes, mostly new and many of which I served at the market (but intentionally never blogged), and others that I have developed over the years. I will continue to blog here, of course. If you are curious, and interested in recipe testing, do drop me a line. Best get back to it for now, but I look forward to updating you as I go.  

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Lyon: A Bouchon Lunch at Cafe des Federations

How lovely to visit Lyon again for the Bocuse D’Or last week. It’s such a warm city, charming and obsessed with food. I am definitely the last and so I always feel at home there. My trip last August was brief, and there was one bouchon I neglected to hit, Café des Federations. I didn’t miss it this time. I was there on a grey Thursday. I wandered by the Saone and meandered up the narrow streets, suitcase in tow. My French isn’t great, but it’s enough to get me by, and stumblingly, I secured a table for one for lunch. I love solo lunches, I can’t think of anything nicer than lovely food, intimate ecelctic surroundings, some delicious wine and a great book, whilst cosy in a corner with the occasional bit of people watching between chapters. It’s fairly uncommon here in London, not so in France. At the banquette ahead of me were two other solo female diners, one young Japanese lady, in town also for the Bocuse D’Or, and a wonderful elderly …

The Bocuse D’Or: Scandinavia Storm Lyon, Denmark Takes Gold

Scandinavia stormed Lyon at the Bocuse D’Or, often described as the International Culinary Olympics. Paul Bocuse, chief of the old guard, pioneer of French Nouvelle Cuisine and now in his eighties, visibly flinched (of course this could have been humour), when he read the name of the winning country. Bronze to Gunnar Hvarnes of Norway, Silver to Tommy Myllymaki of Sweden and Gold to Kofoed Rasmus of Denmark. Things have changed, cooking has progressed and we increasingly look to Scandinavia for inspiration. Two of the best selling cookbooks in the UK are from Denmark, Trina Hahnemann’s Scandinavian Cookbook and Rene Redzepi’s Noma. Denmark is already home of the Worlds No 1 Restaurant, Noma (according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants) and now to the Gold Bocuse D’Or, the most presitigious award in professional cooking. The cooking at the Bocus D’Or was seriously impressive, chefs had battled through various levels over 2 years, winning regional heats to qualify to compete at the Bocuse D’Or in Lyon at all. Representing the UK, Simon Hulstone and Jordan Bailey …

Vuvuzelas and High Cuisine! Who knew? The Bocuse D’Or

So, the Bocuse D’Or, what’s that then? Well, it’s only a huge international cheffing competition in Lyon – gastronomic heart of France – that we don’t know about very much in the UK. Started by Paul Bocuse It’s huge everywhere else, Barack Obama even sent an official letter wishing luck to the US team. Why don’t we know about it? There is a UK team here led by Simon Hulstone of Elephant Restaurant at Torquay (sadly no Irish team), and they have just served up their delectable looking nosh, which is being judged right now by 10 chefs including Thomas Keller and Mathias Dahlgren, so no pressure there then. It was sheer torture watching the plates come out, I wanted to nose dive on to them and eat every bit. The energy here is frenetic and a little insane, likened to a football match but I wouldn’t know anything about that. All I know is that this is great fun, a little deafening (vuvzelas, drums, giant cow bells, that kind of thing) and really inspiring. …

A Quick Recipe for a Glorious Brunch: Turkish Eggs

The first time that I had Turkish Eggs at The Providores in London, I was hooked. Hooked and a little obsessed. I ordered it as I just didn’t know how it could work, but knew that it wouldn’t be there if it didn’t, right? The Providores version is non traditional, poached eggs on thick yogurt with chilli butter. It is utterly divine. It prompted me to go home and do some research on Turkish Eggs. I wanted to know more, I wanted to make it, I needed to eat them often! What would I get in Turkey? I found out, and this brings me to this recipe, traditional Turkish Eggs. The rewards are huge for such a simple dish. Greek style yogurt at the bottom of a bowl, 2 poached eggs on top, and sage leaves fried until crispy in a decent chunk of butter. You won’t regret the extra butter I promise you! Scatter the crispy sage leaves around the eggs and drizzle the butter. And swoon and eat. Now I want some more.

Competition! Win tickets to the Freixenet Vintage Tea Party

Ok follks, this one is a quickie and a little girly, and it’s in Brighton. It looks like great fun. Freixenet Cava are running a Vintage Tea Party (with lots of cava) this Thursday in Hotel du Vin. The competition will run for only 24 hours, finishing tomorrow at 3pm. Three winners of a pair of tickets each (worth approx £50) will be chosen at random from the comments on the post. Details: The Brighton Freixenet VIP event on Thursday,  is an exclusive party in the impressive Dome at the Hotel du Vin. Following welcome drinks of Freixenet Strawberry Bellinis there will be a glamorous, cabaret-style dance class with feather boas. Then guests can get glammed up with professionally applied retro style make-up. Classical mime artists will add a vaudeville touch, while dainty afternoon-tea style sandwiches and indulgent cupcakes from Brighton Cupcakes will round off the perfect evening. And, of course, cute little black bottles of chilled Freixenet Cordon Negro will be the accessory of choice!The tea party is on the 20th January 2011 from …

Light Lunch: Calamari with Cous Cous,Jammy Roast Tomatoes, Scallions, Pine Nuts & Parsley

So, you’ve bought some squid to make the last recipe, and you’ve a little leftover. What to do with it? Lunch! Or supper. Make this lovely light dish in no time at all. It’s packed with flavours and textures and is really delicious. Don’t tell anyone, but I think it might even be healthy too! I had this today, and in the interest of speediness and keeping it light, I didn’t egg-and-cornmeal the squid as before but just dipped it in seasoned cornmeal on its own, which resulted in a super light and delicious calamari. The cous cous was easy, just normal cous cous, covered in (boiling) hot water in a covered bowl, and left for 10 minutes or so until it absorbs it and becomes fluffy. I’ve taken to roasting tiny tomatoes at a high temperature until they caramelise and become rich and jammy, they are like a gorgeous flavour bomb when you hit them as you eat. Scallions, well they’re sharp and have a great texture that bounces against the rest. Toasted pine …

January Charmer: Calamari with Blood Orange & Fennel

January should be the worst month of the year, and it has all the potential to be. The build up to Christmas is lengthy and intense, Christmas itself whizzes by in a flash and, thud, hello January. Quiet and long, we’re all reeling from spending too much money and January just doesn’t have anything going for it. Or does it? It does, it really does.  And I love January for it. At least, I do at times. I love it for two reasons, both bright and varying shades of red. Fruity and juicy and special, January is the month of the bright red blood orange and spindly, pink, sweet and sour forced rhubarb. These are possibly two of my favourite ingredients, particularly after the sensory deprivation of the preceding weeks of kale, cabbage and sprouts. They are intense and bright and – smack – that flavour when you bite into them is so big, sweet, sharp and divine. Fantastic in sweet dishes as you would expect, but they are both equally brilliant in savoury. Tonight …

The Beauty of the Bird: Another Lovely Duck Breast Recipe with Soya and Spice

More duck?! So sue me, I love eating duck. It’s definitely been the bird of choice this winter. I generally love all poultry, but duck is so rich in flavour, so receptive to marinades and so easily available that it has featured heavily in this winters cooking. One of the things that I love about cooking birds is the variety of textures and flavours possible with each. Take duck, as we’re talking about that. The breast is tender and gentle with lovely tender skin coasting a slim layer of bouncy delicious fat. Cooked properly with the fat rendered out slowly, you’ll get a gentle slightly crispy skin and tender pink flesh. The legs are wonderful slow roasted so that the skin is super crispy and the meat dark and falling off the bone. The flavour is intense and rich, and ok it’s fatty, but so what? As long as you’re not eating them every day, you’ll be ok. Duck loves fruit, duck loves spice. Hey! So do I. We can be a kitchen dream team. …

Recipe: Quick, Tasty Supper of Roast Chicken Legs with Squash, Spinach & Porcini

I declare January 2011 as the month of frugal food. Or at least frugal shopping for ingredients and using what’s in my cupboard. If there ever was a month that should be frugal and spartan, this is it. 2010 was brilliant, but wildly indulgent, I feel I need an honest return to the kitchen, and some fun as I play with the ingredients of my larder, and otherwise basic everyday ingredients. One of my larder staples is dried mushrooms, particularly porcini (or ceps if you are French). They smell grim. All you rural types, they smell like grain feed for cattle and I will never forget finding my head next to a mouse nest in a grain feed store when young, so that smell fills me with fear and loathing. Like lots of things like prawn paste, they smell grim but taste great, when soaked for half an hour or so in hot water and that dustiness and farmyardiness is gone, they become supple and impart a depth of meaty, and of course, mushroomy flavour …

The Roundup is OVER, Bring on 2011

I killed the roundup, I killed it dead. I was dreading writing the next bit, when I thought, well I don’t have to, do I? One thing that is for sure, if I don’t enjoy writing it, it will be a nightmare to read, and there’s no fun in that, now is there? Instead, I will do my favourite books from 2010 justice by covering them properly over the next month. They deserve more space than the roundup would allow anyway. So, what’s for 2011? It’s here, isn’t it? I have lots of big plans which are exciting, not all I can share here as details are in discussion, but I should be able to announce soon. Other than that, let me share a few of my 2011 ambitions with you :) TRAVEL Lots more travel, I love it and I can’t get enough of it, I want to do more and I want to write about it more. I want to photograph every detail, taste every morsel, devour every shred. And then come back …