Month: February 2011

Just What the Doctor Ordered! A Recipe for Gumbo for Mardi Gras

I feel a little cheated that we celebrate Shrove Tuesday here with an excess of pancakes, when in New Orleans and other cities worldwide they celebrate Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) with a huge parade, party and lots of food. The origins of both are the same, Catholic celebrations devouring excess calorific foods before the fasting that occurs over lent. Traditionally held in cities of French origin it has now spread throughout the Southern US, even to Universal in Orlando, Florida where we celebrated Mardi Gras last week. A little early I know, but they have chosen to celebrate it every weekend for the month. You can never have too much fun, right? Lots of food features, like King Cake, Beignets (fluffy gorgeous doughnuts smothered in icing sugar), Jambalaya and rich and delicious Gumbo. I made Gumbo last week with the chef from Universal whilst covering it for iVillage, and I thought it would be lovely to publish the recipe here too. Notes on the recipe: Gumbo recipes vary from family to family and town to …

Well, Hello! Plus Some Pictures from Mardi Gras in Orlando

Well, hello there! Apologies for the radio silence, I’ve had a pretty intense week. I started with a quick trip to Universal Orlando in my new guise as food writer for iVillage, to cover Mardi Gras and to cook Gumbo (fun & yum). I then bounced back to London, landed with a thud, and with very little sleep launched myself into the final phases of intense recipe testing, required to conclude my book. I can’t quite believe that I submit it in two weeks. It’s all hugely exciting and it is very, very busy. Florida was great fun. I had no idea that I was quite the adrenaline junkie that I turned out to be. Not expecting to enjoy the rides at Universal at all, I found myself obsessed with them. Especially Harry Potter, which was a ball of nerve wracking, tumbling fun and the best stress release that I have ever experienced. I tried butterbeer, very sweet butterscotch rich soda, kids will love it. I ate lots of beignets (above, light fluffy icing sugar …

Alan Rosenthal’s Persian chicken stew with sour cherries, walnuts and pomegranate

Twitter is a wonderful thing. I’ve met many interesting people, mostly but not exclusively in food, and one of them is Alan Rosenthal. Fed up of his desk job, he made the jump and started a business in food. After training at Leith’s he started Stewed!, and makes soups and stews that are sold fresh in little pots in supermarkets. Some are very inventive and delicious and the recipes are published in his cookbook Stewed! – available on Amazon at a bargain £8.53. At a fun and informative cooking demonstration/class at his alma mater Leith’s Cookery School this week, we cooked his sublime Persian chicken stew with sour cherries, walnuts and pomegranate. It is definitely a keeper, sweet, sour and rich, with tender chicken thigh and gorgeous Persian flavours, Alan has allowed me to share it with you here. Do try it and enjoy! Persian chicken stew with sour cherries, walnuts and pomegranate Serves 2 Ingredients 65g walnuts 10g unsalted butter 1.25 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, finely sliced ½ clove of garlic, crushed ¼ …

Coping with V Day

Valentine’s Day. Drop it like a bomb in a group of friends and monitor the reaction. Abhor it or adore it, there ain’t no avoiding it. It’s everywhere. There’s a lot of Hallmark nonsense, rubbish cards, huge fluffy creepy bears bearing polyester red hearts. Dinners in crowded restaurants with Truman Show style over romanced couples smacks of misery for me. Why be romantic for just one day? Why not tomorrow, or next week, or every day? We shouldn’t need an excuse to do nice things. Nice things, for nice people, or just for yourself. Create your own lovely environment indoors and enjoy it. These are my favourite little love-themed gifts for yourself, a significant other, or anyone you might want to see smile on Valentine’s Day. Heart shapes I love heart-shaped things, stamped indelibly on this cynical subconscious at a very young age by rainy day handbooks and girly magazines. I find myself buying silicone heart-shaped egg moulds, cocottes that are big, small, stoneware, silicone, cast iron, the lot! You’ve seen many pop up here …

Bitesize: Mixed Grill & Hendrick’s Refined Courtship Clinic

If you’re anything like me, you may be a little disorganised, and are possibly looking at your calendar thinking, I am sure I am doing something this weekend. Of course, I am! The Mixed Grill. I wouldn’t miss it. Tim Hayward, publisher and brains behind superb Food Quarterly Fire & Knives, has organised a day of a day of talks, lectures, rants, performances, debates, panels, presentations and party pieces on the endlessly fascinating subject of… FOOD. And it’s tomorrow, and it’s only £20. There are only a few tickets left. More info and tickets here. Singletons looking for a Valentine may want to visit the Hendrick’s Refined Courtship Clinic. The sessions are run by Dr Humphrey SixWivs and Mrs Isabella Forlornicate. Unusually, the sessions commence with a voluntary intake of Hendrick’s Gin & Tonic, complete with restorative cucumber garnish. After an assessment, treatment covers all aspects from polite body language to acceptable topics of conversation and procedures of courtship to reading signals from a lady’s fan movements. Open from 10th – 14th February (12 noon …

A Postcard from Cornwall

Oh, hello there! Sorry, it’s been a bit quiet from this corner lately. I’ve been in Cornwall you see. Baking, eating clotted cream, cooking with clotted cream, and drinking Cornish cider, Cornish wine and, best of all, Cornish tea from Tregnothans. I love Cornwall, it’s uncannily like Ireland with the sensibilities of California (there is all those surfers you see). The food is terrific, and local, in the main. Here are some photographic highlights of a lovely weekend there. More soon. Squid at the Beach Hut, Watergate Bay

pie

Winter Warmer: Chicken and Chorizo Pie (Recipe)

A good pie is a difficult thing to beat at this time of year, and it really doesn’t need to be difficult. All butter shop bought pastries make the process very quick, and no less delicious. Chorizo is a favourite of mine, it imparts such loveliness, spice and slippery fat, which coats and protects otherwise potentially dry boneless chicken. I used it yesterday in this punchy little pie of chicken and chorizo in a rich tomato sauce, packed full of flavour and moisture which will take your breath away when you lift off that pastry lid. Maybe I exaggerate, I don’t know, it felt that way for me. This recipe makes two pies in my Le Creuset mini oval cocottes. Chicken & Chorizo Pies Ingredients 500g diced chicken (preferably thigh – it has more flavour) 200g cooking chorizo, sliced 1 tin tomatoes a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley 2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped 2 tsp Spanish paprika 1 mild red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 15g butter & 1 tbsp …

5 Speedy, Healthy (and – whisper – low fat) Suppers

Hello there lovely people! Today I have 5 recipes for you that I was commissioned by iVillage to write. I believe that you never have to compromise on flavour, even if you are strapped for time or aiming for a healthy and low fat meal. Fat is delicious though, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that, for balance, some days we have to behave. With these recipes, you can be satisfied that you are not missing out. Gurnard with Tomato & Mint Sauce Gurnard (photographed above) is a most underrated fish. Very delicate in flavour it takes fruity flavours like tomato, and herbs very well. I first had it in Croatia many years ago. I just couldn’t resist the bright orange fish and the waiter assured me it was delicious, it really is. Not only that but it is really reasonably priced, I got 2 fish for £5 in Borough Market, ask your fishmonger to stock it for you if they don’t already. It’s sustainable too – embrace the gurnard. Full recipe on iVillage. Pork …

The East London Steak Co

Supermarkets have their place, although I wish it weren’t so prominent. We’ve grown to become so dependant on them. Small suppliers and shops can’t compete, and so we become a shopping monoculture. But then, in a recession, we become more careful about how we spend our money, and that doesn’t mean that we buy cheaper, but we seek better value for money, and we like to cook at home. Enter the East London Steak Co. I first came across them when they opened last year and my interest was immediately piqued when I heard that the head chef of Hawksmoor, Richard Turner was at the helm. Several deliveries later, I am now a devoted customer. These guys know what they are doing, they source very well, and each box comes with the provenance of the steak detailed – the breed of the cow (which changes week to week), when the steak was cut and by whom. I especially love that the breed changes. I have had Dexter and Highland breeds in recent boxes and it’s …